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November 2012

Outdoor projects vs cold weather

We've been very fortunate with the lingering warmer weather this late into fall.  We missed most of the damaging effects of Hurricane Sandy as it came inland a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, our neighboring states to the north were not as lucky.  But I still ended up with a leaky basement from the constant rain due to a bad battery on my backup sump pump.  When the electricity went off for the night, I had to swap out batteries to try and keep ground water from coming up around the floor.  

So I've decided it's time to improve upon the water drainage in my crawlspace and finished basement.  I spent the last few weeks talking with several companies about proper drainage techniques.  I've finally decided on a company to come in and do the job.  Hopefully, this will get the water to flow where I want it too instead of where it's grown use to traversing.  I'll still have a backup battery/pump along with my main pump but the water will be better directed around the footer of the house instead of just slipping through where it wants to go.  I'd like to see the completed project exposed to some rain storms just to make sure the floor is ready to be tiled over again.  I haven't ruled out investing in a small generator just for the main pump but I don't want to go that route if it isn't necessary.

Besides the waterproofing project, B and I are busy with our own outside DIYer projects while the weather is cooperating.  I helped her tick off the last "to-do's" on her workshed such as running electrical lines, installing outlets, and exterior painting, while she helped me build a great looking lean-to off my workshed, complete with three walls and a shingled roof. 

Before lean-to

After lean-to

The shed use to house my scooter but now it, along with my lawn mower, rain barrels and other large items will enjoy the new covered space.  My greenhouse gained some recent additions, along with my hibiscus trees, and is taking over storage of all the gardening supplies.  So my workshed is already roomy enough to actually use my table inside.

We're starting to gear up for our interior projects.  Besides my waterproofing, I'll be adding tile to my basement instead of carpet.  The plan is to install heating elements under the tile that I can control with a thermostat.  I can always throw some area rugs around for appearance and extra warmth.  My old living room furniture from the 90's is starting to look out of place and will be looking for a new home soon.  I've decided I'll be replacing them with a more modern and space efficient sectional in the basement.  That should complete most of the basement transformation.  The only thing left is to fix up the crawlspace with a vapor barrier to reduce the humidity and risk of mold.  The upcoming colder months are a great time for that.

As you can tell, my summer/fall has been busy with home owner projects but I think it will pay off in the long run to prevent trouble in the future.

Rain barrel project


(The video above is from the first day of rain during hurricane Sandy.  My apologies for the rain noise in the background but I wanted to film it in action.)

Youtube video full size

Here's an update for those interested in my rain barrel project.  I completed my rain barrels in August.  I'm 100% satisfied in its collection of rain water and 80% satisfied with it's operation in watering plants.


First off, the evasive rain has only allowed three occasions for me to collect water.  But each time they did, they collected an impressive amount of water.  Each of the last two times the barrel  filled up to 100 gallons.  

I'm also pleased with the physical placement of the barrels.  They're out of the way, but easy to get to for watering most of the plants.  The only downside is carrying water to the north side of the house which is the farthest distance from the barrels.

Next year, I'll probably setup some form of water pump to help push the water through a hose.  I've tried a couple different hoses but they don't work too well with just gravity pushing the water out. Right now, it's faster and easier to just fill up a large water bucket and carry it around.

I haven't found any algae or mosquito eggs in the barrels either.  So my paint job must have been adequate.  I also like how the white paint on the barrels blends in with the white exterior of my house.  It's like they're camouflaged. They really don't stick out at first glance.

The only thing I didn't account for was the foot traffic to the barrels.  I had to reseed the bare spots that developed in front of the rain barrel.  It's the sunniest part of the yard so the grass doesn't hold up to well to heavy traffic.  I'll probably put in some simple stone pathways on each side of the house to fix that. 

All in all, I'm happy with my setup.  I haven't had to divert any additional rain water through the barrels overflow pipe yet.  I'm saving a bit on my water bill.  And I'm helping limit excess storm water pushing pollutents into our water system.  

Election Day

A day welcomed by all if only for the fact we'll get a break from political commercials.

I exercised my right to vote early and I was glad I did.  The parking lots of my neighborhood voting center were already full by 7am.  

Prior to entering the building I was given a flyer by a Democratic helper who asked if I rode my motorcycle in. (I was wearing my scooter jacket/pants/boots)  Upon answering yes, he followed up with "It's very cold for that".  Seconds later, the Republican helper offered me another flyer and followed it up with a simple, "I like your jacket".

So in doing my own poll, I've decided Democrats are more concerned about weather conditions for riding.  While Republicans are focused on safety and appearance while riding.  

After voting, I did an exit poll but the only one around was a recycling box on the ground full of sample voting ballots.  It did not have a comment.

Seriously though, I was glad I voted this morning.  Although I'd have waited as long as I needed to, I wanted to keep ahead of the rush hour traffic. 

So get out and vote the rest of you.  And may the best candidate win.