Saturday, September 30, 2006

Home Depot Rebates suck

Can I just take a moment and whine about Home Depot's rebates? Yeah, it's well known that companies do rebates simply because they know not everyone is going to fill in the right info or even bother to send them in, and odds are they will make money in the end. I have to say that Home Depot does a great job of making their rebate program the biggest pain in the rear possible.

About six months ago I bought a Rigid shop vac for $40, minus a $20 mail-in rebate. I mailed it in, as instructed. A few weeks later I got a letter saying I didn't follow the directions, and failed to include the bar code from the box...the box I threw out at least a week before. Since the box was gone, I had no way of proving that I sent it, even though I remember doing so. I was screwed with that one.

So as part of the renovation we bought several new kitchen cabinets, which resulted in an offer of a $200 rebate. I was very, very careful to follow the directions precisely AND make photocopies of everything AND scan those photocopies into PDF form. After over a month, I thought I would check into the status. Home Depot conveniently has a web page you can go to in order to check on rebate status and, go figure, my $200 rebate wasn't even listed. Oddly enough, the $20 one for the shop vac was. So I then tracked down my paperwork, and emailed Home Depot with the PDF copy of my paperwork. In response, I got a letter saying they couldn't use what I sent them because the scan of the receipt covered over some of the rebate form. Fine, so I re-faxed my original paperwork so they could read everything.

Now, three weeks later, Home Depot's website lists the $200 rebate submission. TWICE. And today I received both a letter in the mail and an email saying "we received your submission, and you have exeeded the maximum number of entries per household. Duplicate submissions cannot be honored." On the web site, one of the two entries has that statement on it, the other says it's still being processed, expected completion another three weeks.

So how come they can take the time to DENY a request, sending a paper letter and an email out, but they need another three weeks to send me my two hundred dollars?

I think I'm gonna start acting like that kid from Better Off Dead, chasing the CEO of Home Depot on my bike with the snow ski attachment, yelling, "I want my two hundred dollars!" the whole way.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Having never seen one before tonight, my 6-year-old daughter completed her first ever Soduku puzzle, without help, after only about 5 minutes of instruction. Sorry to beat my parental chest here, but I'm flabbergasted.

I've become a Princess

With entry into kindergarten comes the right of entry into a special secretive cult known as Adventure Princess. This is a group sponsored by the local YMCA with the goal in mind to provide opportunities for fathers to bond with their children. Natalie and I have joined this Adventure Princess tribe, along with about a dozen other local dads and their kindergarten-aged daughters.

I don't know who's more excited, her or me. I mean, what's not to get excited about? There's campouts, hiking, biking, canoeing and other outdoorsy stuff. There's crafts (okay sure, but I can find reasons to bring tools), and monthly get-togethers with other dad/daughter couples. And all with no moms allowed.

Good thing. I've been trying to convince my wife to go camping for about 7 years now. After our last experience, tent-camping in northern PA, where it dropped to 32 degrees at night and the spiders in the shower wanted to get friendly, she swore she'd never camp again.

In the end, this Adventure Princess thing is all about bonding with my daughter. I'm sure that during those overnight camping trips there will be several episodes where she'll need to mop my fevered brow as I go through Blackberry and laptop withdrawal, but I'm definitely looking forward to it. And I'm sure it will make for some good blog-fodder.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


As I sit in front of the Mac listening to my younger one singing "twinkle twinkle" from her crib into the baby monitor at the top of her lungs, while the wife rests comfortably upstairs and the elder child snoozes with her Little Mermaid book perched atop her snoring nose, I figure it's a good time to catch up on a few things. As I mentioned in a recent post, Natalie has started Kindergarten this month. It's a new world, people. gone are the simple worries, like who's gonna be snack mom, or is she going to poop at preschool, or will she catch a sniffle from a fellow classmate. Now we're into the real stuff. Is the bus going to make it to the school without spontaneously combusting? Will her classmates accept her? Do we really have to sell all that freaking holiday wrapping paper and overpriced stale popcorn to our unsuspecting neighbors just so her class will have the funding for that fabulous class trip to Cleveland?

As Natalie gets into her kindergarten groove, I am starting to see obvious traits of my own passed down to her. I'm also starting to see ways she's as different from me as peanut butter is from, say, sidewalk chalk.

There are the regular reports of her visits to the school nurse. Yup, that's a piece of my DNA double helix. So far, the most minor visit was for a raging case of chapped lips. The most urgent was for a bleeding hangnail. Again, just like her dad. I always was a bleeder.

She's different from me in one very, obvious way. After attending "dessert night" at the school tonight, which is sort of a kids/parents social hour to meet the teachers and other families, I realized that main difference.

My daughter isn't a nerd.

I mean, okay, maybe I wasn't the biggest nerd in the world at school (Guys, you shut up now - there was worse, you know there was!), but I was by no means a member of the A-list. Oh sure, being the token Jew of the school I had some notoriety, and I was one of the select few that the potheads would come to asking, "um, duh, so you're smart 'n stuff, right?" But heck, the only varsity letter I got was for golf team. Really. But I DID have a solo once in choir. And I was one of the first to come to class wearing parachute pants. Does that count for anything? No? Anyone?

But as I watched Natalie interact with the other kids, I realized she's quite the little leader of her posse. A couple of kids came in pointing and mouthing to their moms, "there's Natalie over there!" as if she was some sort of a cool version of Condoleeza Rice. I realize now that if and when she brings any sort of social concerns to me, I will be completely out of my area of expertise.

Throughout the evening, Natalie and her gang expended the usual energy running in circles in the school gym. I suddenly had flashbacks to "Blockades".

Blockades, a game that was often referred to as "Kill Scottie", was what my own group of friends played every day at recess. Within seconds after the end of third period we were outside, and without debate were immediately separated into two opposing teams. The object of the game was simple.

Kill Scottie.

Scott, whom I remain friends with to this day, was the non-elected defacto leader of our our own little schoolground government. But it was a government with little in the way of politics, few if any issues, and no opposing forces to protect ourselves against. Each day was spent with one simple goal in mind. Half of us would chase our leader in an attempt to beat the crap out of him, while the other team tried to protect him by putting up a blockade. It was simple. It was pure. There were no referrees. No instant replays. No out-of-bounds. And rarely any injuries. Just good clean fun. And perhaps it was the reason we all did so well in Social Studies class.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The final electrical inspection

So we had our final electrical inspection a week or so ago. Same guy who did the rough-in inspection which, if you read my previous post about it, you know was nothing but a tallying up of all the outlets, switches, etc I was putting in and a bill based on the total number.

Well, the final inspection wasn't much more than that.

The same guy came to do the final, though he had absolutely no recollection of being at the house before. The one thing he did remember was that I'd said a pro electrician did the subpanel work (the dangerous stuff). However, he remembered it as the pro having done all the room wiring as well.

Funny, I never had the opportunity to clarify. Perhaps that's why the final was done so quickly.

He spent all of 5 minutes at the house. He checked the GFCIs to see that they tripped correctly, and plugged his little tester into perhaps 5 other outlets (mind you I put something like 75 into the whole new space). He never looked at a light, at a switch, or at any of the wiring. He didn't even so much as glance at the 240v circuit running the heat/AC in the bedroom. For all he knew every one of those 75 outlets were on one circuit (they aren't, not to worry).

So, a lot of things bugged me about this whole inspection thing, above and beyond what he did and didn't do.

First of all, it's code that every outlet and light in a bedroom needs to be on this silly "arc fault" breaker that causes the circuit to trip if you plug an appliance in while it's running. He said arcs in the bedroom were the most common cause of house fires. so why is it that he doesn't require me to rewire all the outlets in the bedroom that weren't part of the renovation? And I must say I have never heard of anyone setting fire to their house while vacumming the dust bunnies.

Next, there's the fact that every outlet in the kitchen needs to be 20amp instead of 15amp. I guess this is so I can bring my table saw up from the workshop and run it in the kitchen at the same time that my daughter overcooks Cinnabons in her Easy Bake. Okay fine, but why did he only care about the two new outlets in the kitchen, and not the other eight that already existed (and are 15amp)? and why did he insist that the outlets in the "dinette" area, ones that will quite likely NEVER have anything plugged into them, be 20amp?

And why don't sheep shrink in the rain?

The fact is, if all this stuff WAS necessary during an inspection, then my little electrical project would have cost perhaps twice as much, so I'm not complaining. But I do have to wonder what this guy did to earn my $180. Yes, I know, his NOT paying close attention was probably worth every penny.

Now if you will escue me, I have to go fix my keyboard. The letter between A and D no longer work. And urpriingly that letter only appeared twice in the lat entence. It broke during the previou paragraph and I had to cut and pate the letter from elwhere to complete the blog.

Make it tough to write "he ell eahell by the eahore".

ee you later.

Something old, something new

Yes, yes, I know, let's keep up with those posts shall we? Sorry, every spare moment has been spent rearranging my sock drawer. Really. This past weekend my parents came in, and Dad and I installed closets. Which meant we finally could transport all our last-in-style-in-1981 collection of parachute pants and leggings into the depths of new closets not to be found until we move.

When my parents were first planning on coming in, I told them it would be a light weekend project-wise. Not a whole lot to do. Plans change quick. Closets, kitchen cabinets, doorway thresholds, and mower repair became the agenda items. Not a moment's rest for the handy.

Speaking of kitchen cabinets, we made one minor change to our kitchen design that resulted in a world of improvement. This layout was bugging looked too much like a bunch of unfinished boxes sitting against a wall. Well, I had an old above-the-fridge cabinet destined for the mudroom, and just before we started to hang it Dad and I thought, "hey, why can't this go above the fridge? Well, a few sketches later, we came up with this. A dramatic improvement. Now, if we could just decide on countertops.

Yeah, I mentioned mower repair as well. Last week I pulled it out to mow the lawn (duh) and as soon as I started it, the transmission belt that runs the self-propel mechanism fell off and got dislodged between the transmission and the mower deck. Dad and I decided to do the guy thing and, wratchet in hand, take apart the mower in hopes of repairing it. Two hours later, with every bolt, nut, and e-ring removed, we still were unable to reach the belt, and I asked him at what point this becomes an exercise just to see if we could dismantle every last piece of the mower in order to fit it in the garbage can. Dad felt we had not quite reached that point. Approaching the third hour, we found the magic bolt that allowed us to get the danged belt back on, and 45 minutes later the mower was running again. Of course, it's been raining since, so I have no idea if, when I actually attempt to mow the lawn again, the blade is going to fly across the yard and lodge itself into my neighbor's peach tree.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Are we done YET?

Well, while everyone and their cousins were hopefully taking a long weekend and relaxing before the start of the fall christmas shopping season, we took advantage of our four days off and made a ginormous step forward. This weekend we passed several major renovation milestones, ones that from the beginning I felt would signal the return to almost-normalcy.

On Friday, I emptied out the basement, the office (formerly the dining room), and the guest room (formerly our master bedroom) in preparation for a Rug Doctorin'. Then, we rented said Rug Doctor and shampooed the carpets. All hail the Rug Doctor! Four months of dust, caked-in drywall mud, paint droplets, and grime washed away. Horay, the carpets are beige again (note the sarcasm...I always hated beige). By the way, if you're thinking of buying one of those Bissel steam cleaners for your rugs, don't bother. Why pay a couple hundred bucks for something that barely works when for once or twice a year, for $29, you can rent a Rug Doctor? This thing will suck the heat shield tiles off the space shuttle from thirty yards. And the best part is you get to give it back, rather than having to clean it and store it in your own closet.

On Sunday, I installed shelving in the bathroom closet. Okay, not an exciting undertaking, but it DID involve two trips to Home Depot. And besides, I played golf that day, so that's why so little got done for a Sunday.

Today, Hilary and I spent about eight hours rearranging crap. We emptied out the pile in the dining room (there's a TABLE under there?). We brought the contents of the basement BACK into the basement, in some semblance of order. We (and this is major) cleaned the garage, and got BOTH cars in there!!!! now THAT'S a milestone!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I forgot to mention move-in day.

A week ago, the carpets were installed in the new bedroom and the reading room. Thus, it was time to move in. First, the big stuff. My neighbor Jim came over and helped move a loveseat and a two-hundred pound elliptical machine up the stairs into the bedroom. The couch was no problem. The elliptical almost killed us. Whomever buys our house some day is getting an elliptical thrown in as part of the deal, cuz I ain't moving it again.

Two days later, the furniture made it's way in. Seven years of dust under the dressers was uncovered, vaccuumed up, and vaccuumed again but the room looks great, and we are very happy with it. Well, mostly. My wife, the same person who doesn't allow me to keep a watch in the bedroom because the ticking keeps her up at night (even if it's in a drawer, I kid you not) discovered that the heating/cooling unit in our bedroom makes a slight clicking sound when it cycles on or off. This unit is much like the ones you see in hotels, a stand-alone electrical unit that blows a fan and turns on the hot/cold as needed. It is a well-manufactured, powerful, and quiet system, but note what I said above about the watch. I received several "toldya so's" throughout the night, and as a result did not get a very peaceful night's rest in our new bedroom. Well, a month from now she'll never notice it.

I have more to tell, especially about the electrical inspection, but for now, here's the latest pics.

Excercise your right brain

Wanna keep either your right brain or your toddler busy for a while? Go here.