April 29th, 2009


There Are Giant Mice In The Ductwork... With Tools

The Great Stimulus Project of 2009

And now giant mutant voles are eating into the side of the house, too.

Remember that scene in the medical dramas where they open up some poor guys chest and remove his heart, only to discover that the donor heart is defective or the connective tissue or arteries just fall apart when they try to sew it all back together again? Well thank goodness we're not there yet. But our furnace is sitting in the garage and it isn't even noon yet. (grin)

Alas, poor York, I knew ye well these past sixteen years...

Back in 2007 we had the Great Rinnai Hot Water Heater, Sump Pump and Kohler Backup Generator Project, which all stemmed from the fact that our water heater was getting old and there was no place to drain it in the basement... The 2009 Great Heating and Cooling Project began with the simple desire to raise the humidity in the house during the winter. It's supposed to be good for the sinuses and keep down colds, flu and sinus infections. But putting a whole house humidifier on a nearly sixteen year old furnace seemed silly. Oh, and the one thing I've always hated about the current furnace were the supposedly washable furnace filters. No frame, stiff scratchy fiberglass and impossible to get in and out. Did NOT help our sinuses that we never cleaned the damned thing very often.

So let's talk about a new furnace. And as long as we are, what about central air conditioning? Well, it turns out 2009 is great year to be talking about this sort of stuff. There's some energy efficiency Federal tax rebate money for going high efficiency. In our case it means we could've spent X dollars for a 90% efficient furnace to replace the 85% York we have (uh, had). Or we could spend Y dollars for a 95% efficient furnace plus a heat pump. Y - X = around $1500 and we'd qualify for the $1500 max rebate. So for the same net money, we can get a more efficient heating system and essentially free central A.C. for the summer.

As for air filtration, we looked at an $800 electrostatic unit, but you have to wash the stainless steel blades every couple of weeks. For about $250 we're getting this large cartridge unit that gets changed once a year for about $30. It's gonna take another sixteen years to get around to making up the cost differential with the one-a-year cartridge system -- no-brainer decision there, folks.

Banging and Klanging

So yesterday was Grading Day. And after a nap we went out to the movies and dinner at a Thai restaurant and a pleasant evening. Now Greg and his helper are busily changing our house. They've budgeted two days for the job, but have half of Friday penciled in for trouble-shooting.

And then I'm off to Penguicon!

Dr. Phil

Home Is Where The Hearth Is

End Of Day One

The 2009 Great Heating and Cooling Project began with bangs and clatters and a furnacectomy. It ends with nary a sound, as the new furnace is installed and working. New blower fan appears to have more oomph but the whole unit is whisper quiet. Not sure we'll know when it's running. (grin) Reminds me of a comment I heard once that said that Americans would never buy Japanese vacuum cleaners -- or at least those models destined for the domestic Japanese market -- because Americans want suck they can HEAR and the Japanese want unobtrusive suck. Mrs. Dr. Phil has commented she'd really like to try the latter. I've been known to vacuum wearing a pair of 35 dB shooting muffs.

The warm glow of the home fires...

Dr. Phil

Not The Movie I Thought It'd Be

Tuesday was Grading Day, but grades had to be turned in by noon -- I had them in by 11:55am. No worries, no pressure, mate. Took a nap, then we went out to see a movie and later, have Thai for dinner. Yum.

State of Play [PG-13]
Celebration Cinema North, Theatre #16, 3:45pm

When we first saw the trailer, they weren't trying to reveal too much and I wasn't paying much attention, other than saying "Oh, a scruffy looking Russell Crowe and lookee it's Helen Mirren -- we probably have to see this." I assumed it was a spy movie, especially after that Crowe and DiCaprio CIA movie, last year's Body of Lies. In fact, with the two titles this could've been a sequel. (grin) Then when State of Play was coming out, I caught a review in the paper and realized that no, not a spy flick. It's a newspaper story flick. And Helen Mirren is the tough editor. Oh cool -- gotta see this movie.

When we first meet Russell Crowe, he's careening around the streets of Washington, D.C. Don't know about the whole movie, but there's a whole lot of D.C. visible and not just Toronto or some other "cheaper" city standing in for the nation's capital. Playing on his old Saab's radio? "The Night Pat Murphy Died" and that had to be Great Big Sea -- a wonderful band of out St. John's, Newfoundland. It was. (grin) We now see Crowe in action as the crusty old Washington Post, er, Washington Globe reporter.

Ben Affleck plays a Congressman caught up in this mess. He and Crowe were college roommates. Robin Penn Wright plays his wife. It is all more complicated than we thought. Mrs. Dr. Phil commented that Ben tried to act in this film, almost showing an emotion. Reminds me of a quip I once heard about Keanu Reeves being able to stand in one film exceptionally well. (grin) Poor Ben.

Crowe's nemesis is Rachel McAdams, a blogger from the online side of the Washington Post, er, Washington Globe. He doesn't think much of her at first. I'll spill one thing -- they DON'T sleep together in this film, thank god. Woodward and Bernstein never slept together -- it was good enough for All The President's Men. Crowe's adversary is his boss, editor Helen Mirren, who yells at Crowe and of course caves, because he's the big star. His archenemy is the new owners of the Washington Post, er, Washington Globe, who are interested only in more copy sales regardless of journalistic content. I think the name of the new owners is The Red Herring Group. They are all up against this mercenary corporation Blackwater (cough), er, PointCorp with a big base in North Carolina who has lots of Iraq contracts.

It sounds like I'm making fun of this movie, but of course I always have a small objection everytime a photorealistic thriller makes a misstep. Actually we enjoyed the convoluted plot quite a bit, with one more twist than we thought we were going to get. And probably one less than we thought, too. Which altogether is not a bad thing.

We didn't stay through the whole credits, but the beginning of the credits shows one of my favorite movie shots -- the taking of a newspaper front page from design to plates to running the big presses. Of course, in my version of the movie, during the end credits we'd find out that The Red Herring Group is owned by Blackwater (cough), er, PointCorp and the big semi-trailer of newspapers bundles driving away from the printing plant would go right to a landfill. But that's just my overinventive twisted mind. (grin)


Dr. Phil