House Journal – Plumbing Fun

Buying a house that is well into middle age is always a challenge. Appliances are old, electrics are often ancient, and not up to current code, and of course there is plumbing from the dark ages.

Not that in the mid 1960’s was bad for plumbing, but back then a lot of sketchy piping was imported from a rapidly industrializing Taiwan, and the early plastic piping and junctions often had polypropylene blended with paper (why?).

We of course had some that we knew about from the inspection. The main drain pipe under the house was at the end of its serviceable life (the Taiwan steel), and the sewer junction between the bathrooms was the polypropylene/paper junctions. Plus some small things (like plumbing the kitchen for gas). Total bid was $2100.

Of course, adding a cleanout to the main sewer line near the house allowed us to inspect the main 4″ sewer connection, and of course that was not good. After nearly 50 years, there was encroachment of tree roots into the main sewer line, that we should clean/replace, as well as adding a cleanout at the property line to the city for future maintenance issues.

The neighbor has had the Rotorooter people out a couple times to snake the main line, so we know that it is endemic to the neighborhood.

Add to that a failing water valve at the street, and crappy old steel piping of the main water to the house, which we should replace as well, and we added 3 days and $3750 to the total.


We have the money, and it is good to do it before we move in (imagine living without sewer or water for 3 days in the future), but it is an unexpected expense. What can you do?

Of course, none of this is in the disclosures, and even if they were, we would be stuck anyway.

Suck it up cupcake, and get it done.

Bad Bicycling Luck

Last weekend, my feet hurt (long story, but running down the stairs at 1:00AM because your dog is having a seizure can cause your plantar fasciitis to flare up. Who knew) so instead of a grueling mountain bike ride, I took a nice easy loop around Marshall-Cottle park.

Bad idea.

My tires were like pin-cushins. So many goat-head thorns were picked up that I was stuck with two flat tires. Poopies.

I counted at least 8 in my front tire, and 3 in my rear (I guess the front tire cleared the path so my rear didn’t get hammered.

Today I replaced both tubes, and put in Mr. Tuffy strips (something I should have done before the first ride), and I expect to not be bothered by this again.

I should be thankful that 6 weekends of riding without any protection were blissfully trouble free. But I was cursing the shrubs that drop those bastards the entire walk home…

How to make Windows 7 x64 suck

As a longtime Mac person, I have to admit that Windows 7 is a pretty good operating system. Stable, snappy, and not too much of a resource hog, even on questionable hardware. I used it at my last company on a decent Dell Latitude system, and it was quite good.

But you can make it suck.

I work at a Fortune 500 company. I have an OK HP elitebook (15″ mid sized laptop) that once I got the driver sorted out worked pretty well (the stock image that we drop on it doesn’t have the chipset or the audio drivers setup properly.)

But this this is dog slow. I mean, teleport me back to the 1990’s and 2 megabyte Windows 95 slow. Why is that?

Well, it isn’t the hardware, it has a snappy Core i5 dual core system. I doubt that a quad core i7 would make much difference. Stock it came with only 4G of ram (which seems like a waste for a 64 bit OS), that I bumped to 16G.

But it is encumbered with an amazing amount of crap. We have:

  • Symantec Endpoint Protection
  • PGP whole disk encryption
  • Configuration management software
  • About 7 services related to asset tracking, and cataloging. FFS, how many of them are really needed to say that this is my laptop?
  • Our presence and messaging solution is Cisco WebEx connect and Meetingplace (which is a flippin resource pig)
  • Direct links to our Sharepoint system that cause huge slowdown periodically

All told, when I need to reboot my system, which happens far to frequently, it is literally a 20 minute process until the machine becomes responsive. I am hardly the only one to complain. In fact it has become such a problem that our standard configuration for laptops is now with an SSD.  Unfortunately I have 2 more years on this lease before I can make that jump. It is going to be a long long two years.

I know that it isn’t Microsoft’s fault for this, but it is painful.

Why I hate my Windows PC

At work, I am blessed with a HP Elitebook 8460p (15 inch wide screen, core i5) laptop. It has OK specs, and I pimped it out to 16 G of ram.

But it is dog slow. We probably have 2 Р3 updates a week pushed to us that require a reboot. I have to save all my work, and reboot, and then wait. I have learned to open up the resource monitor and watch the disk get hammered.  For about 15 minutes after boot.

I know that Windows 7 is a lot snappier on similar hardware, but working for a fortune 500 company, with an eye on security, there is a metric shit-ton of stuff that is running including a full disk encryption package.

I am tempted to drop in a blank drive, install a fresh Win7 install, and see if that performs better. Probably, but it will be for naught, as I will have to go back to the original drive, image and configuration.