02/24/06: Off Topic: The horrible Olympic coverage this year

Has anyone else been as disgusted as me with the reporting of the Olympics this year? NBC has degraded from the prestigious tradition of olympic coverage into tabloid journalism.

Case in point: Sasha gets a silver medal. The post-performance interview goes something like this: "So how did you feel when you fell? Were you crushed that you didn't get gold? Your knee was wrapped - is that why you sucked because of an injury? Would you please cry on camera for our viewers because you suck so bad?"

I was embarassed for Sasha, not because of her performance, which was OLYMPIC QUALITY, but because she had to stand there and tolerate the moron that NBC sent to interview her.

The rest of the coverage has been about as poor in my opinion. The choice of anchors is bad. The choice of dialog is worse.

02/17/06: I'm slow, I know

Well, I finally got a bit of warm weather (I know, we had 10 inches of snow 2 days ago!) and a few minutes of time so I decided to take down more of the Christmas lights.

Yes, I said more because I still have some on the peak of the second story.

02/16/06: We got a good bit of snow

Well the storm that dumped on the East Coast dumped on us too. Here's a picture out the backyard:

02/15/06: Wow, people use cellphones to browse!

Check out a snapshot of operating systems visiting one of my servers. Symbian OS actually appears! And there's still a WebTV user out there somewhere...

02/13/06: Me = Tom Hanks

Yes, this weekend I was Tom Hanks in Terminal. I was in Chicago on business and flew back on Saturday ... and ... Sunday. I checked the weather before leaving and nothing looked bad, but the airline neglected to tell me that they hadn't gotten a single flight into my final destination all day but let me get on the first plane anyway. I got stuck at my connection when they had cancelled all the flights due to visibility problems with the snow storm.

My wife was stuck at the airport to pick me up - which is about 1 1/2 hours from home in good weather, so I had her get a hotel room rather than try to drive back because the later I waited for a possible flight that never came, the worse the roads were getting. They only got about 3 inches of snow - and it's an area that is used to getting much more, so I don't really comprehend why it shut down the airport all day... but oh well. Finally around 7:30 PM they announced that all flights were cancelled for the rest of the night for where I was going.

Rather than pay for another hotel room for myself I just spent the night on the floor at the airport. There were around 40 people stuck there, going to various locations up the east coast, who roughed it in the airport lobby.

There was one traveller who could have been Christopher Lloyd from Back to the Future who was dressed in a nice suit. He was the first one to switch from sitting in a chair to sprawling on the floor with his coat for a pillow. It was a very surreal experience.

Thankfully I never check luggage so I was able to brush my teeth et al in the morning!

Of course being out of town means no renovations happened...

02/10/06: Questions for next column?

Now that Robert will be providing some interesting expert content we thought it would be a good idea to open the floor up to questions. Robert is an experienced HVAC technicain. He's the only person I know who tweaks his home air system as much as I tweak my computers - adding automatic baffels to control airflow to different zones of his house on timed thermostats, in-duct UV air purifiers and a whole-house humidity control system.

Drop in your comments with any questions you might have, and he will try to answer some of them in next week's column.

02/09/06: Lowering your home heating bills

This is the first post in a recurring "column" by our resident HVAC and home repair expert (and my brother) Robert Maro.

Properly maintain your heating system.

Lennox Gas Furnace
Heating can account for almost half of the average family’s winter energy bill. Make sure your furnace or heat pump receives proper maintenance each year.

Install a programmable thermostat.
Honeywell Programmable Thermostat
The energy savings will offset the cost of a basic unit in less than

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02/08/06: Vote: What project next?

NOTE: The entertainment center and Porch are done. The dining room is under-way.

Keep in mind this house is a mixture of 1940 and 1980, so much needs done. I'm not ready to tackle the upstairs bathroom or kitchen yet, both of which will likely have to be done together due to plumbing issues.

Continue on to read the complete write-up and cast your vote!

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02/07/06: Doing the details

I never thought trim would be so expensive. I had planned to use those manufactured particle board thingy trims. I needed 1x5 boards, and there was a trim at Lowes that was almost just that, with a little flair on the end that I thought I'd just cut off. Then I saw the price... so I ended up buying 1x6 spruce for the baseboards. My first thought was to rip it down to 1x5 but I finally decided that 1x6 looked good too, and the trim downstairs is 1x7 so it's not far off from that.

A friend loaned me his mitre saw and it made quick work of cutting all the angles. I've primed but not yet painted the trim. It was of course raining, then dropped to 25 degrees, and I didn't want to get the paint or primer on the newly refinished floor so I did it on the patio while it was raining. It's all oil based primer, so I wasn't worried about the humidity affecting things, besides how much humidity can there be at 35 degrees? With the cold though I decided to hold off applying the paint.

I also got the closet ready with one of those wire mesh shelves and a rod:

02/06/06: Refinishing hardwood floors tutorial

Well, now that I'm done with the floor I thought I'd write up a quick tutorial for those thinking of doing it themselves. Keep in mind, I'm no pro, just a do-it-yourselfer who has done this one time. Hopefully I can pass along some good tips, but certainly don't consider this for your only source of info.

Read on for the tutorial...

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02/03/06: The tool I wish I never bought

I figured this little gadget would save me some hand-sanding between coats of poly on the floor. Boy was I wrong. I ended up holding it by hand and using it that way since I'd bought a pack of 25 180 grit papers to fit it:

I couldn't get it to work without gouging the finish because it would wobble so much. It's a good thing I tested it in the closet.

02/02/06: The brother calls... poly with no sanding?

I was woke up this morning by my brother. Okay, I was sleeping in - 2 guys and I unloaded around 800 boxes from a 53' truck yesterday, each weighed around 30 pounds. I hurt. Not as much as from sanding the floors however. Anyway he asked how the floors were coming since he doesn't have high-speed Internet he can't look himself. After I told him I still had two coats of poly to go, he said "You should have called me - I just did my whole house and the poly I used didn't require sanding between coats. Just let it dry around 2 hours then apply another coat!"

Personally I think I'm likely to get a better, more durable surface using the tried and true high-end pro polyurethane that I did, but I'm curious, has anyone else used the "no-sanding" poly and if so how did it stand up?

02/01/06: Sanding floors... (part 3: Poly)

Polyurethane. Make sure you open a window. Goes on easy with the right tools. Before applying, I vacuumed the floor twice, and used a window washer "mop", dry, to make sure I removed any left over dust. Then, just apply using a lambswool mop especially designed for it, going with the grain.

Here's the first coat, partially dry. I am amazed at how much darker the wood has turned, considering there is no stain at all, it's just natural oak. I didn't seal the floor first, so the poly soaked into the wood somewhat and tinted things it seems. I think it looks awesome:

02/01/06: The cat in the... gap

When I sanded the floor, I had to remove the floor vent that opens up to the living room beneath, allowing hot air to rise from the furnace downstairs. It sounds... useless, but actually the vent works very well. Between the floor upstairs and the drywall ceiling downstairs are 2x8 beams and a plaster ceiling that was covered over with sheetrock when the living room was redone years ago.

You can see the hole in the floor in this picture (read more:)

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