Yep, that’s a whole bunch of hail all right..

I was out inspecting the pool (hopefully the final fill up is in progress) when the storm weather came in. That hail was pretty vigorous.

The Lanai screening seemed to handle it like a champ, but I’m sure there will be houses in the neighborhood that will need their roofs replaced.

You can see the hail has collected in the trough in the enclosure below. It looks to be about 2 inches thick of marble sized hail.

One good thing about the recent rains is that I have been able to note first hand items for my punch out list including some eaves trough /drainage issues.

Posted under General

This post was written by Marc
on May 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm

2012 Home Renovations – Part 10 – First round of cement pour completed

I took a picture of the signs for the principals on this project, DC Enclosures and DesJoyaux pools.

The site is always organized, even in the midst of rain and the chaos that naturally accompanies any sort of renovation work. At the end of the day everything is wrapped up nicely. Tarps are in place where dirt may be subject to rain , silt fences are set up to prevent mud from traveling and excess erosion, bales of hay keep mud from sliding down the driveway into the street and the work site is free from trash and unnecessary junk. All of the workers have been pleasant to deal with and, most importantly, Michelle feels very comfortable with ALL of the workers. Not only in terms of safety but in terms of competence. Everybody knows what they’re here to do and they do it professionally.

DC Enclosures have done much of the work with respect to the pool installation. They worked on another pool nearby and were suitably impressed with the technology that they have made a point of learning to do the installs under the tutelage of the DesJoyaux folks who have been on site to oversee the pool aspects of the project. DC Enclosure’s role at this point is largely of contractor as they subcontract out tasks that are not their specialties. Their direct participation will again kick into high gear when it comes time to actually construct and assemble the Lanai. I believe much will be constructed off site under more ideal conditions than you find on the job site with final assembly and tweaking being reserved for our back yard.

J&A Concrete, with Stasio leading their efforts, are the ones who have done the all digging and much of the prep work.

Again, I sound like a broken record. But the pile of dirt in front of the house is bigger still! Rich tells us that MANY people are stopping as they drive by in order to ask what is going on. Apparently our project is something of a mini-sensation in the neighborhood.

As expected, things are slowing down a bit now as finer work is being done. Below is work that was done on Day 7. Day 8 consisted of a morning meeting between the major players and decisions being made for the questions that have come up.

Here are the usual Patio views

followed by a peek inside the pool where you can see the floor and walls have been poured

And the overview. If you look to the left of the filter unit, you’ll see two hoses snaking away from the pool wall. These are the hydraulic lines for our fastlane.

And the foundation for the driveway retaining wall

Our original plans were to move our air conditioning condenser unit down the driveway – closer to the front of the house – so that we would not be able to hear it from the lanai and then place the pool heater, Fastlane pump and the Salt system alongside that. The new plan is to drop the condenser unit over on the opposite side of the house and relocate the pool machinery up by our shed and put up a small wall so that it all would not be visible from the lanai. Those changes, plus the increase to the size of the driveway and other decisions made this morning are going to run me about another $10,000+. These are typical of the kinds of things you do when you have a chance to see where you’ve made it so far and then project forward to where you want the final project to be. I’ve been careful to try to limit scope creep. But some things you just cannot resist doing. I’ll be posting a full accounting of this project’s costs at the end much as I did for my major Master Bedroom and house renovations , near the bottom you’ll see a link with a PDF for the project’s costs.

Beyond that, day 8 was relatively short with a bunch of rebar work where cross pieces were attached to the uprights embedded in the retaining wall bases.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 09 – Rebar for the pool and its retaining wall is up

2012 Home Renovations – Part 11 – Second round of cement pour completed

 

Posted under General, On the Home Front

This post was written by Marc
on March 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm

2012 Home Renovations – Part 04 – Initial scratch and demolition

Probably this will have been the most dramatic day for us change-wise.

You know how, when it rains, you’ll do nearly anything to avoid getting wet. But there eventually comes a time when you just have to surrender to it. Recognize that there is nothing to be done except either embrace your reality or drive yourself mad railing against it.

Every small change we had made up until now – cutting down our little redbud tree, taking apart the bird feeders, removing the chiminea from the yard – had involved such inertia, seemed somehow monumental. But these were all merely drops of rain landing on my shirt.

The workers had brought in a bobcat just before I left for work on Monday and I did not arrive back home until after work. I walked around with a flashlight to see what had been done, but that is a bit surreal. The landscape was no longer familiar and I could not get a really good sense of the overall… difference.

The new view from the patio reveals the true extent of the hill in the back yard – in cross section no less

Looking down the driveway now looks almost precipitous with the removal of the old retaining wall and bushes

Turning to look across the yard from the same vantage point gives you some idea of the both the now flora-free hill but also the barrenness of the formerly forested area behind.

And the shed is still there, but the tired sidewalk is now no more.

A closer look at where the retaining wall used to be, Michelle is sure that the driveway will now slide off into the neighbor’s house

Meanwhile, from a different vantage point, you get a sense of where the pool will be located

Finally you can see the remains of the Juniper and retaining wall that was scraped out and is ready to be chopped up.

Tomorrow the concrete slab holding the Bar-B-Que will be demolished.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 03 – Clearing the Trees

2012 Home Renovations – Part 05 – Digging the trench for the retaining wall footer

 

 

Posted under General

This post was written by Marc
on March 1, 2012 at 8:40 am

Resolution to iTunes excessive CPU consumption issue on Alienware Area 51 Computer

Finally resolved this issue (hopefully permanently).

I wrote earlier about this issue where running iTunes consumed an inordinate amount of CPU cycles on my system. This issue pre-dated the iTunes 10.5 release but was certainly exacerbated by it.

Now I have resolved the issue and have iTunes running without my computer cooling fans going crazy. I’m even able to access the iTunes store which I haven’t seen in a LOOOONG time.

The executive summary is that the classic “netsh winsock reset” solution would not work for me because it’s “corrective action” was being overridden. I needed to uninstall Xeno Power Suite and my problems were solved.

Longer version…

I checked out this posting at support.apple.com (iTunes 10.5 for Windows: May see performance issues and blank iTunes Store) which confirmed that the issue stemmed from the existence of a Layered Service Provider (LSP) and how to identify what third party software had inserted this.

In my case the LSP was showing as BFLLR which, after a quick Google search turns out to be a bigfoot product. On my machine (Dell Alienware Area-51 Windows 7 64 Bit) this turned out to have been installed as part of the XENO Power suite which from the looks of my existing configuration, I was using not at all. I did read a review regarding the features of the “Killer Xeno Pro” and I’m sure it’s useful for someone out there (big gamers and torrenters) but I didn’t see that I was getting anything at all from it. Hovering over the system tray for this showed it was “disconnected”. So I downloaded the latest drivers for 64-Bit Windows (in case) performed some network speed tests and then uninstalled the suite.

When the computer came back up the first thing I did was verify network connectivity and speed. If anything, things had improved by a couple of megabits per second (download speed).
Starting iTunes did NOT cause my fans to start ramping up for the first time in ages. Process Explorer showed the Perftune service was back to being the most CPU intensive app on my otherwise idle computer (about 1.3% – anybody know if this is really doing anything for me? The info I’ve read regarding perftune has been really sketchy).

Opening the iTunes Store had me catch my breath as the progress bar paused at its customary point… and then continue on to completion and, amazingly, I have content again!

I’ll be keeping the Xeno drivers in my download folder for a few weeks but I don’t think I’m going to need them. I suspect that if you use them you know already and if you don’t know you need them, you probably don’t.

Posted under General

This post was written by Marc
on November 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Finally moving to clipless pedals

After years of resistance, I finally decided this week to move from platform to clipless bicycle pedals.

After doing some research on the web and asking some friends for opinions, I ended up picking up a Speedplay Zero System which I have mated with some Shimano SPD-SL shoes.

As an added bonus, it turns out my Lifecycle E3600-HRT can accommodate *real* pedals so I’ll be able to practice with the new system a fair amount where I *can’t* fall over before hitting the real world!

I elected to go for a road system (stiffer shoe and exposed cleat) rather than one that would be a bit more forgiving should I need to walk a lot by evaluating how often I’ve ever needed to walk when out for a ride over the past 15 years which has been seldom).

I also had some concerns for whether or not my knees would be happy with the potentially limited range of motion that a clipless system offers. The Speedplay system has tremendous float (0-15 degrees adjustable) and has the added advantage of allowing you to clip in to either side of the pedal.

I’ll be very interested to see if I garner an appreciable performance boost from this upgrade. The last real boost was when I upgraded from my trusty Bianca Alaska commuter bike (awesome for commuting to work on glass-strewn city streets) to an actual racing bike (Giant two TCR composite frame).

I’m not intending to do any racing – but I do want to go as fast as I can for the effort I’m putting out, it’s just so satisfying…

Posted under Sports

This post was written by Marc
on August 28, 2011 at 8:51 pm

When is the last time you read the Georgia Driver’s License Manual?

Of course, in my opinion, we should have in place a system where folks are re-tested every few years. The laws are *always* changing – those legislators have to justify their existence somehow – and are you really sure you know what the current thinking is on the correct way to handle a driving situation?

Even if your approach *is* the best, if it is unexpected as far as the other drivers are concerned then it is *you* who are the hazard.

I just finished reviewing the 2010 Driver’s license manual and got 100% on this (rather simple) test. I challenge you to do the same.

What do you do when a schoolbus has its amber lights flashing? What about its red lights? On a divided highway? I see people doing the wrong thing all the time, they are endangering EVERYBODY’s lives.

Posted under General, Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on July 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm

My first piece of Twitter SPAM!

It had to happen eventually. It seems that National Geographic Wild (Nat Geo Wild) has the honor of being my first piece of Twitter SPAM.

@MarcBourassa see the lastest technology news at http://t.co/3CnAyNu !
Natfeo_wild
Wed 22 Jun 00:03 via web

Posted under General

This post was written by Marc
on June 22, 2011 at 7:38 am