It's more than a house. It's an adventure.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Make me an offer!

Verizon has been calling me almost daily for the last few weeks, trying to get me to renew our contract since our previous agreement ended in September. We've been month to month since then. I really have no good reason to renew right now - our phones work perfectly fine and our current plan isn't lacking.

Finally, today, I talked to the Verizon rep. Or, rather, she talked to me for 9 minutes. She was offering 700 minutes, 200 more than we have currently. But we don't use the 500 we have now. I explained to her the billing errors which were likely skewing the numbers she saw for our recent usage. I told her about the runaround we got with our new every 2 and new phone eligibility.

She was offering a phone upgrade, for $79.99 less a $50 mail-in rebate. I told her my phone works fine right now, and the only compelling reason I would have for replacing it is if I could go Bluetooth and get a wireless headset. The new phone she was offering does have Bluetooth, but I'd have to buy my own headset for an extra $49.99.

I continued to rebuff her, and she just wasn't interested in making me a compelling offer to renew, and that was that. Had she offered me a better phone, or tossed a free Bluetooth headset into the deal, I might have been interested.

I did some research and it looks like we can go to Cingular, drop $10 from our monthly bill, move up to 550 minutes/month, and get new phones in the process. I'm not chomping at the bit to switch services, but it's good to know we can jump ship easily. I'm just shocked that Verizon wasn't interested in trying very hard to get me to renew the contract. I may call them back, present them with this research, and see if they'll make a good counter-offer to attempt to keep us another 2 full years.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Congratulations Oleg!

I see that Oleg has welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world. I'm due to join the "new daddy" club myself before the year is out.

Oleg notes "A newborn can fall asleep by listening to the soothing voice of one of her parents. I was helping Miriam Rae fall asleep by reading her the November 25th, 2006 issue of 'The Economist.'" I'm reminded of a scene from Three Men and a Baby where Tom Selleck read a Sports Illustrated article about a boxing match to the baby to put her to sleep. "It's not what you read to her, it's the tone of voice you use."

Enjoy fatherhood, Oleg!

Tis the season

Nate & Heather have their Christmas tree up and lit. As coincidence would have it, we put our tree up today as well (yet another thing I worked on today). Nate's post reads as though they have a real tree. We, unfortunately, can't have a real tree because our cats would surely wreck it. We picked up a 7 1/2 foot artificial tree 2 years ago relatively cheap for our first married Christmas. It's pre-lit, and somewhat small in diameter - but it fit our apartments well. Now that we have a house, we may get something larger in a year or two.

Sorry, no pictures yet.

While we're on the subject of Festive Holiday Season, what starts the season for you? We all have our own little rituals and ceremonies that mark the beginning of the "season" - some people go out shopping at 5 AM on Black Friday, for example. For me, it's a viewing of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Once I've watched that (usually Thanksgiving weekend), I'm set for FHS. I just can't get enough of that movie. Look kids! A deer!

Day of frustrations

Whew. Got a few things done today, all of which required extreme patience and involved several attempts.

First was mounting the child seat base in the Subaru. Although the recommendation is generally that one put the seat in the middle of the rear seat, our Subaru is a wagon, and without LATCH anchors in the middle position, that's a very long run for the seat belt as far as I'm concerned. Plus, Subaru has outstanding side-impact ratings. So, I mounted it on the driver's side. Here's the short version:

  1. Unpack seat protector mat. Discover that there's nothing that holds it to the seat other than the child seat itself.
  2. Place base on seat. Scratch head wondering why the hell the straps won't reach the anchors. Finally look at the label again and realize the base is backwards. Who puts an arrow on something that goes into a car and makes the arrow point backwards?
  3. Spin base around and hook strap to anchor bars. Attempt to tighten. Strap moves a little.
  4. Attempt to get into car to apply full weight to the base, as recommended, to draw strap down more. Discover that 200 pound American male cannot kneel backwards in the back seat of a Japanese car. And damn, that plastic's hard on my already-unhappy knees.
  5. Flip driver's seat back forward all the way. Push driver's seat forward all the way. This creates enough room for me to get in.
  6. Attempt to kneel on seat base. Still very hard and uncomfortable. Get a little more pull on the strap. Seat still rocks too much.
  7. Get bright idea to put fleece jacket on the plastic. Knee can now handle it.
  8. Give the strap a few more tugs. Finally, the rocking is within tolerances (1" max).
  9. Restore driver's seat to correct position. Curse a few designers.

There's gotta be a better, more dignified way than that.

Next was replacing the lamp in the master bedroom closet. We purchased a 3-light track setup at Lowe's this morning and I pulled the old fixture down. What a surprise - everything in the box was normal! Standard Romex, plastic junction box, nothing weird going on. The instructions were a little unclear, but I got the fixture ready and made the connections. Then I attempted to slide the fixture over the mounting screws and attach the nuts which would hold it up. No dice. Shuffle wires some, still nothing. It took quite a bit of pushing wires around before I could get enough threads for the nuts to grab onto. The mounting bracket between the fixture and the box just took up too much space. Finally, I managed to get it secured somehow. Then it was on to the lamps themselves. Here's where the instructions were very unclear - apparently I was supposed to mount the lampshades and bulbs before putting the fixture up. More struggling, more fighting, finally those were in.

The day's final challenge was cutting and installing 2 threshold/transition pieces in a couple doorways to compensate for some very large height differences between 2 floors. The first was very difficult - I chose a hard wood, and my coping saw didn't like making straight cuts in it. I got the piece cut pretty much in line with the contours of the doorway, and then just used a rubber mallet to bring it home. The second piece went much easier, but I again had to shave some extra wood off due to irregularities and then use the mallet to finish things off. In both cases, I made more than a couple trips between the installation site and my work area in the family room.

Lots of effort, lots of frustration, only 3 projects. But they all needed to get done and we're much better off for it.