January 2012 Archives

Wow. Winter sure did arrive in a big way, eh? For those not fortunate enough to be located in the land of frozen tundra, allow me to share a few of our fair region's weather events: moderate temperatures abruptly turned to bone-chilling cold, accompanied by strong winds, wrapped-up with an awesome dumping of super powdery snow.

Needless to say, FiFi has been less than impressed. I've been shoveling a path and circular area for her to use; the winds have been covering it with blown snow. I've had to coax her with copious amounts of treats, and I've been crating her during the day to avoid coming home to "presents."

And while I don't know if anyone will appreciate this photo, it makes me chuckle - here she is "doing her business" in the cleared-out area:

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She's giving me a look that seems to say, "Why did you move me here? Why are you forcing me to be out in this cold weather? And, most importantly, why are you taking my picture right now?!"

When I woke-up this morning, my digital thermometer showed a temperature of -6F... nice. To Feef's credit, I was able to get her outside without too much hassle. Once back inside, she bolted for her favorite spot - the recliner with the Packers fleece blanket on it. She burrows herself into it, gets completely covered, and then growls if you try to move or disturb her. She loves this thing (I uncovered her to get the picture)...

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The cold weather and recent dumping of snow means that I've been running on the wonderful dreadmill... lucky me. I had to use it on Thursday, Friday, and this morning. I think I'd rather be water-boarded than to spend 40 minutes on a treadmill. They're so incredibly boring, and for some reason, my quadriceps always ache after I finish using it... I must change my stride/gate while on it.

The good news is that I've been staying extremely consistent to my plans - haven't missed a workout since 1/1, and haven't eaten anything bad since 1/1. I'm rock solid right now, and have dropped 17.4-pounds and 3.9% bodyfat since 1/1. I guess that's what happens when you're as strict as I've been - 900-1000 calories per day (primal foods: grilled lean meats, grilled non-starchy vegetables, no sugars, and no more than 1/2-cup of black beans). I've been running 6 days per week and cycling 4 days per week. TRX workouts take place 3 times per week.

So, with my diet and workouts in solid form, I was a bit nervous to accept a ticket to the Badgers hockey game - the notion of some pretzels, popcorn, or nachos could've been tempting. Alas, they didn't even appeal to me, and so I enjoyed the game with my co-worker Dan. Here's where we sat:

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The Badgers absolutely routed the UAA (University of Anchorage, Alaska) with a score of 4-0. Thanks again, Dan, for the ticket! I appreciate it!!

I spent today helping a friend that I used to work with at the MidTown Pub; Evan needed some new tires for his Tahoe, so we placed a call to my other friend Dan (Newhart episode flashback? No?) from Topel's Towing & Repair. Dan was able to get Evan some excellent tires at a great price, so we drove to Lake Mills this afternoon and I mounted and balanced the four new tires (Dan was the only one in the shop and was also on wrecker duty; he was called-out on towing jobs twice while we were there).

Here are the nearly bald tires that we removed from Evan's Tahoe:

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They were like slicks - I don't think there was even 1/32" of tread on them!!

Here's one of my old "friends" from my days as a technician... the Coates 20/20 pneumatic tire changing machine. Back in the day, this thing was an absolute beast! It's still more than capable, but I suspect newer versions are even better:

t_coates.jpg

And the fruits of our labor - new shoes on the Tahoe. There's nothing like new tires on a vehicle... they ride quietly, smoothly, confidently, and have such a great "feel" - it's truly awesome, even when it's not my vehicle that has the new tires. :-)

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We finished-up the work at just over an hour-and-a-half, then waited for Dan to return from a towing job. Evan settled his bill and we trekked back to Madison, where I had a little friend waiting for me back home. Care to guess where she was waiting for me?

That's right...

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And here's what we're doing right now:

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So there you have it... the past few days - bad weather, good dog, staying on target with the diet, a hockey game, and new tires for a friend. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Photodump - Dogs & Cats

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I took a TON of photos of the dogs and cats while in Arkansas last month. I didn't feel like writing/crafting a mega-long entry, so I dumped them into Adobe Lightroom, made an album and uploaded it to the site.

Here are a couple of samples to help whet your beak a bit...

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regis_riley.jpg

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If you'd like to view the rest of the pictures of "the kids" without any captions, stories, or info, please click on this link to see the photos.

All of the pictures were taken with my phone, so excuse any lighting/contrast/color issues... sorry in advance!

...Oh, and this Patriots vs. The Donkeys game is awesome - so glad that Tebow is getting stomped!

Link to Arkansas 2011 Photo Album

They say the apocalypse is upon us, but I think it may have already hit yours truly. Oh, where to begin?

Last year (2011 - it seems like a distant memory) was an interesting year for the 'ole Arkansas homestead. It began with some furnace problems (the heat quit working during the coldest, snowiest part of the winter). And then the refrigerator died. And then the dryer died. And then the air conditioning died. And then the roof died.

The roof?

Yep. While I was visiting Amy and the house over the Thanksgiving weekend, I nearly fell through the roof while cleaning the gutters. I figured something had to be amiss... the house is located in a very wooded area, and as such, the gutters require regular cleaning. Amy's not really one for heights, so it was always my responsibility to clean the gutters.

I'd normally clean them 6-8 times throughout the fall season; the gutters fill with pine needles and leaves rather quickly. But with being in Wisconsin, I'm not able to get up onto the roof as often as I'd like to. So imagine my surprise that while "crossing the peak" of the roof above the office area I felt my foot "sink in," accompanied by a dull "crunching/crinkling" noise... not good.

I stepped back and this is what I saw:

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A roof probably shouldn't "give way" like that... I called a few friends to solicit free advice (thanks Josh!) and my heart sank as quickly as my foot did - it sounded like the shingles had failed and that the decking was waterlogged, rotten, and in need of replacement. Not an easy task.

I then realized that the ceiling of my office surely had to show signs of damage, so I raced off the roof and into the office where sure enough - there were signs of water damage (mold, peeling paint, and even a nail poking its way through):

r_ceiling.jpg

I started pricing materials - shingles, felt, decking, nails, weather barrier, drywall... oh man, this was not good. I happened to mention the dilemma to another friend while in Arkansas, and he happened to know a roofing contractor, so he put us in touch.

The contractor showed-up and we made our way to the roof. He immediately spied hail damage - roof vents were heavily dented and there were tons of "hail strikes" all over the roof. Apparently the NWA hail had its way with the roof on more than one occasion... he suggested that I file an insurance claim to see if it would be covered.

So I called the insurance company and they sent out an adjuster who confirmed that hail had indeed damaged the roof. The bad news: the insurance company doesn't cover damage to the decking, framework, or interior. So much for being "in good hands."

The adjuster e-mailed me a statement showing the amount they would cover. The contractor sent me a quote. After some haggling with the contractor, we arrived at a price and I would settle the difference.

The contractor brought-in a crew, and within a few hours, they had stripped the roof down to the decking. And that's when I had a chance to see how bad the decking was:

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That decking was really rough... several holes, tons of rotted spots - it's amazing the roof hadn't leaked worse than it did. The only reassuring thing to come from the discovery was that the roofing guys complimented the build quality of the roof's framing - apparently the house is "well built" and has 2x8s rather than 2x4s...

By the end of the day, the roof had been stripped and re-decked, weather barrier was in place, and the felt was in place. The crew had even started to install the new shingles in a few spots.

The next day, they came in and finsished the shingling, replaced all of the vents and hardware, and tidied everything up. All that remained was replacement of the gutters and the drywall work. Here's the roof, all finished-up:

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Those are lifetime warrantied shingles - super heavy duty - each of the 2831 square feet of shingles was hand-nailed with at least 5 nails per shingle, which windproofs the roof to 130mph. The felt and weatherguard was also heavy duty and is impervious to ice dams and other water intrusion, so we shouldn't ever have another leak... the contractor warranties all of his work for 5 years, with no out-of-pocket expense. If after 5 years there is an issue, the shingle vendor picks-up the tab (until year 16, at which point things are prorated).

Great, right?

Yep, excellent. Until New Year's Eve...

Amy had a few coworkers over to the house and I invited a few friends from my banking days over. We made nachos (homemade queso*, smoked pork, smoked brisket, roasted jalapenos, and the usual toppings), had a few beverages, and watched old episodes of MTV's Ridiculousness:

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At around 11:00pm, we heard the wind howling outside - we had the windows and sliding door open as it was about 70F outside, but the wind was just roaring. And then we heard a loud snap and an even louder boom. And then the house shook.

Wouldn't you know it, but a tree managed to snap in half and fall onto the house.

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Here's a view from the deck:

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I went up onto the roof and by some stroke of luck, there was only a small section of damage above the back deck - nothing major. I spoke with the contractor and he's going to repair it, but we both had a laugh - the roof wasn't even a day old and it was already being repaired... Thankfully the gutters hadn't been replaced yet, so they'll take care of those this week.

Had the tree broken-off 2 feet lower, the back of the house would have certainly suffered major damage. So, I guess I did luck-out a bit...

Here's to hoping that 2012 goes more smoothly than 2011 did, at least in terms of the house.

Oh, and before I go - folks have been asking "how big is FiFi?" When I say 3-4 pounds, that's not a good point of reference, so I snapped a photo of FiFi next to one of my shoes:

fifi_shoe.jpg

She's doing really well and is a hoot.


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* Homemade queso means real shredded sharp cheddar cheese with half-n-half, a little beer, a secret blend of spices, some Rotel, and a few other goodies...

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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