Monday, November 12, 2012

what's new?

Should I just pick this up like I never dropped it?

Last weekend the following things happened:
-UT beat Iowa State (yay)
-A&M beat Alabama (????)
-I spent 3 hours washing my car and I'm still not done

The football games were football. That's that. As far as washing my car, I decided that I wanted to take the time and really clean my car. That means bonding with it and hand-washing it myself, versus paying $8 at a car wash. It had been a long while since my car had been washed, so it had a pretty solid layer of grime. I pre-rinsed it and then worked a section at a time, soaping and rinsing. All-throughout, I was keeping the whole car wet because our water is pretty hard and it would start leaving water spots. Well, all of this went fairly smoothly until I went to go dry it. It turns out cheaping out on some terry towels at AutoZone was a bad idea; the towels had zero absorbing qualities. That was both annoying and tedious, going over the same spots of the car over and over again, spreading the water around with the cheap towels because it wasn't actually absorbing water (well, technically it was but it was all but useless).

Once dried, I worked a clay bar for the first time. You use a spray to lubricate the paint, and then take a clay bar (literally a bar of clay) and rub it across your paint. It pulls up various specks and other contaminants that you missed during washing to really smooth out your paint. That helps for the next step, waxing. A friend at work gave me an old spray bottle of some wax he thought I should try. It was fairly easy to use — just spray and wipe. I almost finished Windexing my windows before I had to stop for Scream-a-thon. Today I will wrap up cleaning the windows, vacuuming the inside, and tidying up my rims. If I was a true car-washing enthusiast I would have polished and sealed as well, but considering this already took 3 hours, it was enough for me.

Scream-a-thon was basically an 8 hour adventure where we watched all four Scream movies back-to-back. It was both enjoyable and tedious. The middle Scream movies aren't as good at the first and most recent, so it was a slight lull in the middle for me. The fourth one is the best in my opinion so it was a good way to wrap up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hello... is there anybody out there?

I haven't updated this in quite a while, huh? Does anyone still check this? Post a comment and nod if you can hear me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hey, it's my mashup!

You may remember, once upon a time, when I mentioned that I made a mashup song. A mashup is basically a big mix of a ton of songs to form one. I finally remembered to upload it (a year or so late), so here it is for your enjoyment (there's some "foul" language so don't listen at work out loud):

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

the links are back!

I figured out a new way to share links, so the links on the right are back in action!

Monday, February 6, 2012

home ownership weekend

On Thursday night, we had our brand new dishwasher delivered to us. They had called me earlier in the day (around 1:30PM) saying they were ahead of schedule, and they could deliver it then. Well, obviously I'm at work so that wouldn't work. The scheduled delivery time was 5-7pm. Fast-forward to 9:30PM, they finally deliver the dishwasher. Fantastic.

I've been wanting to take pictures of my projects around the house to share the knowledge, but unfortunately it's hard to take on a project and focus on taking pictures, because it will take even longer. Luckily, installing a dishwasher is rather easy. A dishwasher is almost equivalent to a washer with respect to installation. The main difference is that you have to fit it into a sometimes tight space, so you have to adjust the legs and do some shoving, like in our case. Here's a quick summary of what you do:

-You screw on a water line that goes from your hot water valve (under the kitchen faucet) and run it through the dishwasher opening (so it's accessible when you slide dishwasher into place)
-Attach drain line to garbage disposal, and also run that through opening for later installation
-Pull out electrical line (assuming your DW is hard-wired), just like above, so it's accessible once DW is in place
-Adjust DW legs so it can fit through the opening in your counter top and slide it into place (being careful not to snag any of the lines that you pulled out and need to install).
-Wire up electricity (MAKE SURE YOUR BREAKER IS OFF!!)
-Screw in hot water line to DW
-Clamp drain line to DW
-Using a level, adjust the legs so that your DW is level both vertically and horizontally
-The last step is to secure the DW to the countertop. DW are usually secured in place (so they don't move around or topple) with two brackets that screw from the top of the DW to the bottom of the countertop. Attach those and you're done!
-Reapply power and give 'er a whirl. If you're lucky like us, it'll work perfectly.

Later that night (or maybe it was Friday), Taylor was having some weird quirkiness with her garage door. She told me something looks like it snapped. I go out there, and sure enough, the extension spring on one side of the garage door snapped. Most garages I've seen have two extension springs — one on each side — that are attached via a pulley to the garage door. Garage doors are heavy, and the springs help counteract the heavy weight of the doors, whether you're opening them manually or a motor is doing the work. Each spring needs to be matched with the weight of the door. For example, if your door weighs ~100 lbs like ours, you need a 100 lb extension spring on each side.

After some research, inspection, and trial and error, I ended up replacing both springs. If one went, it was probably only a matter of time before the other one broke, too. Also, they lose their springiness over time and they probably would have had uneven tensions.

It looks complicated, but it's pretty easy once you figure it out. The spring attaches to a pulley on one side (the side closer to the door) and a mounted bracket. The pulley is connected to a pulley system that attaches to the bottom of the door. As the door lowers, the line pulls down, which in turn pulls the pulley and the spring. As the spring gets extended, it exerts more tension and helps counteract the weight of the garage door. I know that didn't make any sense, but that's okay. You probably won't be replacing one of these anytime soon. There is one more line that goes from the bracket, through the spring, and attaches anywhere on the other side. This is a safety line, and it doesn't do anything except go through the spring. Imagine for a second the power of a string that can pull 100 lbs of weight. It's pretty damn strong. Now imagine if that spring is fully extended by the garage door and is completely taut. Finally, imagine it snaps. They aren't joking when they say these things can cause serious injury or death. If that thing breaks and flies at you, you're going to have a bad time. The safety line is there to hold the spring in place in case it snaps, like it did in our garage. It's important you have one and that it's installed securely.

This whole process took me a while (figuring out what to do, and a few trips to Lowes to get the right parts), but in the end it's pretty easy. It probably saved me a couple hundred or more in parts and labor to have a pro come do it. The power of DIY.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

dining room project - stage 3... painting

Last weekend, I did some painting while Taylor was at work. If you've been keeping up (and why wouldn't you be?), you'll know I've had two stages of work done so far in the dining room: checking for asbestos (easy stage!), and redoing the ceiling. Now that the ceiling has been retextured and repainted, it's time to do the walls.

We decided on keeping the whole accent wall thing, and doing a burnt orange-ish accent wall with the remaining walls being off-white. We went with a rust color, which is a darker burnt orange color. Burnt orange itself would be really bright on a wall, so we went with something a bit darker.

Also, we decided to try out a local store called Rooster's, which sells Benjamin-Moore paints. I have to say, these guys were very knowledgeable and eager to help us out. They gave me some good tips to try out this time around. Their paints are a bit more expensive than Home Depot or Lowes paint (I got a step down from their highest grade, at $49 a gallon), but they have great coverage and in general good quality. They're also all low-VOC (less fumes). I could tell the difference once I started rolling the paint. One of the tips the guy gave me was to try painting from a 5 gallon bucket instead of a pan. It was definitely easier.

Previously before painting, I would spend a lot of time masking off the room to prevent accidents. Well, I decided that I could get away without doing that for the dining room. Not having to mask saved me an hour or so, because it can be quite tedious. Instead, I opted to be a bit slower and more careful around the edges. I did spend a couple hours cleaning the walls with TSP to make sure they were in good, painting condition, however. I also invested in a nice canvas, waterproof cloth that I could easily spread out to all the baseboards (and reuse). I did my best to make sure the floor was covered, but I didn't actually secure or tape the cloth. It naturally stayed in position (for the most part!). I like the canvas cloth because a plastic drop cloth is susceptible to tearing, bunching, and doesn't absorb paint so you end up tracking it around on your shoes. 

Before I painted, with the canvas laid out
(remember you can click any picture for a larger version)

I did all the off-white walls first (first cutting in with the edge tool, then paint rolling), and it turns out I didn't need to do a second coat like I had anticipated. After drying, they all looked pretty good and consistent. I attribute this to a) the nicer paint and b) repainting over a light color.

Corner shot (ceiling: new color; right wall: new color; left wall: old color)

Once done, I repeated the same thing with the accent wall. I thought I would be okay with one coat again, but after letting it dry some I noticed some patchiness. Oh well! I called it a day and opted to do the second coat the following day (I try to wait 4 hours before recoating). I did have some 'accidents' on the ceiling and side wall with the rust paint. With a damp paper towel, I was able to easily wipe off the boo-boo. The baseboards got a little messy, too, but I'm planning on repainting them to match the eventual crown molding.

Corner shot (all new colors!)

Accent wall, still wet, coat 1

Room after second coat and cleanup

Different angle, for fun

Corner shot so you can see the three colors better

Good news! We also scored some dining room furniture. Here is the dining room with some furniture...

This is the 'before' shot from the old residents. Old paint, old light fixture.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I've been procrastinating on my next blog. I painted the dining room last weekend, and I took some pictures, but haven't done the blog entry yet. It's coming soon!

Monday, January 9, 2012

dining room project - stage 2... replacing popcorn texture with knockdown

The weekend comes, and so does the hard part of our dining room project. We got the word back from the labs that our ceiling is asbestos-free, so we can continue onward!

Stage 2 consists of scraping off all of the old, popcorn texture (and paint layered on top of it) and replace it with a knockdown-style texture. The easiest way to remove popcorn ceiling texture is to spray it down with water and scrape it off. Unfortunately, since it was painted, it was more difficult than it had to be. We had to get it wet enough to soak through the paint and into the popcorn texture. But before we can do that, we have to prep the room. It's a messy ordeal, and on top of that we have laminate floors which are a bit water-adverse. That means we need to be extra careful to make sure we don't get the floors too wet.

We layered some red rosin paper on the ground, just because it was cheap and kinda easy. Unfortunately, I didn't think it all the way through and realized that it's not a good water-proofing layer. So after that, we added a layer of plastic drop cloth. This turned out to be a good combination. The plastic drop cloth is generally easy to tear holes into, and the red rosin paper was a good base because it was tough and kept most of the stuff off the floor.

Layering red rosin paper on the floor

Once we had the floor setup, we then added drop cloth on the walls to keep them from getting overly wet. Since we're lazy people, we kind of half-assed this part but it didn't end up mattering. The walls got a bit wet on the corners adjacent to the ceilings, but it dried up just fine.

Anyway, I keep getting ahead of myself. Once everything was mostly protected (and removing the fixtures from the ceiling), we were ready to go. I bought a little pressurized sprayer, filled it with water, and started spraying down the ceiling. Since it was painted, it needed more water than expected. This part required the most effort and manual labor. Some places were just stubborn and required some liberal spraying (but without completely soaking the dry wall, of course). The corners were especially stubborn, and ended up being kind of messy looking compared to the rest.

 Plastic drop cloth up, ready to go!

 It's very exciting, I know

 Did  I mention how messy thhis is? Just barely started and there was crap all over the floor already

 Making some progress...

Kinda finished? Some of the drywall still a little damp

Drop cloth and a sheet make cleanup a breeze

That part took a long time, as you'd expect. I'd say about 3 hours for our  10.5x11.5 dining room. The next step is to prepare for the texture sprayer. We had extra red rosin paper, and masked the tops of the walls with that to prevent a lot of the splatter from getting on the walls. Notice that we didn't fully tape the paper. We are putting up crown molding so it wasn't worth all the extra tape to completely protect the top of the walls.

Next step is to get the mixture for the texture ready. For a knockdown texture, all you need is a box of all-purpose joint compound, a bucket, water, and something to mix it all with. I think in total, I used probably 3.5-4 quarts of water and it was still a little on the thick side. I've been told you want it to be like a thicker paint or a soupier pancake batter in terms of consistency. I got a mixer drill tool to make life much easier. I can't imagine having to do it manually.

I don't own the tools to do texture spraying, so I rented them for about $40 a day. It was a setup that was basically an air compressor and a hopper/sprayer attachment. I set the hopper to the biggest opening for the spray and set the air valve to somewhere around 80% of the maximum. The less air you use, the slower it comes out by the more "gloppier". I was having trouble with this particular hopper, and it could either be because it wasn't good, or because my mixture was a bit thick. I had to constantly shake the hopper to get the mixture to come out and even then it wasn't very consistent. In the end, I ended up having a type of mixed texture - something between knockdown and orange peel, having flavors of both. It was definitely more knockdown though. Once you spray the glops (technical term, of course), you want to wait about 10 minutes for it to start drying some. Then you can take a knockdown knife (or just a drywall taping knife) and glide over the glops to knock them down. You don't need to apply very much pressure.

I got all of the above done in one day, somehow. I let it all dry overnight, and did some touch up work in the morning in some places where I didn't get the kind of texture I wanted. In some places it was too misty, and in some places it came out too dense. The dense places, when knocked down, actually smoothed out completely which is not what you want. Lesson learned. I applied a bit of texture on top of the already smoothed out area to at least texture it up a bit more.

I let the newly applied compound dry, and then started priming. After an hour and a half to two hours, I applied the final paint coat. We got this nifty ceiling paint that paints on light purple, but dries to white. Since the priming coat was white, the purple tint was helpful. You can make sure you're getting full coverage because you can see the color you're painting. Once dried, everything looked surprisingly decent for our first stab at doing any of this.

 See the purple tint? This is the ceiling paint going on top of the primer coat

All done, assessing the job on the ceiling

I didn't take a picture, but once the ceiling was done we added a new dining room light to replace the older one. I'll take a shot of that later, since we're not done yet. Now to figure out exactly what colors we want to paint the dining room, and paint (stage 3). Once all the painting is done, we have one final stage... applying the crown molding. That should be interesting.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

dining room project - stage 1... asbestos?!

Before we remove the popcorn ceiling, it's important to check for asbestos. Houses built prior to 1979 have a high likelihood of asbestos being in the popcorn texture. After that, it was banned, but contractors were able to finish using their stock before they had to completely stop. That means houses could have been built after 1979 and still have asbestos in the ceilings. Since our house was built in 1982, there is a chance, albeit small.

We sent it in to an asbestos testing facility yesterday, and should find out today if there's asbestos. If there isn't, the project will move forward as expected. If there is asbestos, then we'll have to do some serious thinking. There are four possible outcomes: 1) paint over the popcorn ceiling yet again, 2) apply a ton of joint compound over the popcorn ceiling to add a "smooth" layer on top of it, 3) remove the asbestos-infested popcorn ceiling ourselves using approved procedures, meaning it'll be 100x more a pain in the ass, or 4) pay a lot of money and have professionals do it. I have no idea what we'll do, but probably something easy. At the same time, I feel like anything we do with this popcorn ceiling that isn't removing it is just stalling the inevitable. That popcorn ceiling will be gone, it's just a matter of time.

In the mean time, here are some poorly taken pictures of the current state of the paint:

Hard to tell in this picture, but the paint is really uneven (look to the left of the outlet)

Accent wall one color, side walls another color, and ceiling yet another color (or a thinned out version of the side wall color?)

Scraped off a small patch of popcorn for the asbestos test

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

and now I present to you..

The top 10 cutest pictures of 2011 [according to some website]!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

break over :(

If you're an avid blog follower, you know that I typically (practically exclusively) update my blog at work. Since I've been off for a while, and before that was kind of busy, you surely have noticed that it's been a hell of a long time since I updated my blog. For that, I apologize.

I wanted to take some pics of some of the stuff I've been doing around the house and post it on here for informational/educational reasons, but I have been bad about that too. It's not too late, though. I still have work to do!

My next upcoming project will be to "redo" the dining room. They did a poor job painting the dining room accent wall, and the color choices are questionable at best (the walls AND ceiling are like a salmon color... gross). Who paints popcorn ceiling? Ugh. Either way, I decided I'm going to take this opportunity to attempt to remove the popcorn ceiling and re-texturize it (knockdown texture), and then repaint the walls. Maybe even apply some new crown molding if I'm feeling up to it. I'll be sure to document this one, because it'll be a doozie.

My holidays were good. I spent some time with family, some time with friends, and a night in the hot tub. No complaints, really. Too bad it's over. Had to end sometime, right?