Archive | January, 2012

Ticketmaster Sucks

27 Jan

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Doesn’t it?

We tried to get tickets to a show this morning, both of us on separate computers, and of course the tickets are instantly unavailable. Why? Because tickets have become a commodity to be bought and sold for profit. So when you try to buy tickets to see your favorite bands you are competing with hundreds of people who have probably never heard of your favorite band, but know they can make a quick buck off desperate people like you.

Here’s how it works: these people buy the tickets, then they go on StubHub or TicketsNow, which are essentially legalized online forums for ticket scalping, and sell them for about double the price. Case in point, when we couldn’t find tickets we checked StubHub and of course there were over 500 tickets available for double the face value and higher. This was within a half hour of tickets going on sale. These are not people that planned to the show go and had a last minute change of plans and need to unload the tickets, this is strict profiteering, and Ticketmaster gets a piece of the action (at least on TicketsNow, not sure about StubHub, which is owned by ebay.) Ticketmaster, artists and venues should be actively working to prevent this behavior instead of allowing it and even promoting it. The ticket racket has been going on for some time now, but with the easy and approved online scalping, vs. a couple guys outside the venue, the abuse is rampant.

They can not be stopped, the best hope for a change was Ticket Web and I believe that was quickly bought by Ticketmaster and dissolved. There is a big class action lawsuit over the fees and if successful, a couple lawyers will make a few million dollars and Ticketmaster customers that have been repeatedly overcharged can get a $1.50 credit on a future purchase.
Wow, sign me up!

Sorry if you read this earlier and it has changed. I had to update due to some factual errors, which took a lot of the steam out of my rant.

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The Titus Gallery

26 Jan

In all the demolition we’ve done we’ve come across quite the collection of artwork covered up by walls and panelling and other stuff.

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An ink drawing

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Wall mural in paint, a trellis and Palm
Tree.

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Corner mural in paint, seaside hill and volcanoes?
Both of these murals are probably from the early to mid 1960s based on the wall it was behind.

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Stay thirsty, my friends.
(wallpaper, 1960s)

Product Review: Demo Bags

25 Jan

Having done a whole lot of demolition and construction at this point in our various renovations, we have become quite adept at getting rid of the junk that is a byproduct (or direct product) of the process. Some people use dumpsters. Dumpsters are great because they drop off a giant metal box at your house, and when you’re done filling it up they take it away. The downside is the cost. They can be pretty expensive due to their full service nature, plus you have a giant metal dumpster taking up valuable parking space. And as an added minus, people like to help themselves to your dumpster, whether it’s dumping their own stuff or seeing if you threw anything away that they want. We had one at work once, and it was like a bottomless pit because people kept emptying it of stuff they wanted.

Recently there has been an advance on the DIY dumpster front. It’s for small jobs and is offered through retail channels by Waste Management. It is basically a giant bag made of heavy tarp material you buy at the store for $30, then you call WM when it’s full and they pick it up.

The Bagster

This is a more economical and less intrusive way than a full metal dumpster, but it is still more expensive than the method we use…

Dumping it over the neighbor’s fence!

OK, no we don’t do that, although at times we’ve wanted to! (he’d probably burn it gladly)

Our real method is only possible for a few reasons:

1. I have a heavy duty pickup truck.

2. I’m huge.

3. We are about 5 minutes away from a waste transfer station.

4. We bought a box of Demo Bags.

Load of Demo Bags in the basement

Which brings us back to the title of this post.

Demo Bags are heavy duty garbage bags, which, like the bagster, are made of a tarp-like, woven material. This makes them much much tougher than even the heaviest duty of garbage bags. The woven material means that even if a nail or something pokes through, the damage will be limited to that spot, whereas a traditional bag would be ripped and start dumping its contents on the floor.

The first couple demo bags we used as garbage bags, filled them up and threw them out. Then one day, I was filling a bunch of bags up to go the dump and I was laughing to myself about how the bags say “reusable” on them. I was like “Haha, reusable, what are you gonna do? Fill them up, bring them to the dump, dump ’em out, and then fold them up and bring them back to use again? Oh, wait! I CAN do that!” That’s really how it happened, I never intended to reuse them, and now I have used them about 5 times so far.

At this point we have removed approximately 2 tons (literally, 4,000 pounds) of junk and building materials from the basement. My normal process involves filling the bags with about 60 pounds of junk, then lugging them upstairs and out the front door in to the back of the pickup. My first time I probably put a good 100 or so pounds in each bag and it was murder to get them up the stairs and through the house, so I’ve reduced the amount I put in each knowing I will be reusing the bags anyway. The larger and longer stuff I put directly out one of the basement windows on the side of the house and pull the truck around to fill it up.

Pickup with about a half ton of Demo Bags full of debris

As a price comparison to the Bagster, the Bagster can fit a maximum of 3,000 pounds. (I don’t know what they do if you put more.) The price I was quoted in our area was $200 plus tax (plus the bag fee) so about $250 for 3,000 pounds, or as much as you put if it’s less.

We pay about $50 for every 1,000 pounds, so that’d be about $150 for the same 3,000 pounds if we used the Bagster.

Now obviously this requires you having the right equipment and going through the effort of going to the dump and unloading the truck, so you’re handling everything one more time, but for us it is a viable option and we’re not at the mercy of someone else’s schedule.

Impulse Purchase

23 Jan

To cope with the loss of the bar in the basement, we made a bit of an impulse purchase on Sunday…

We were at Home Dinko shopping for some supplies for our basement renovations when we stumbled by something in the clearance section. There was a lone kegerator amongst the stoves, microwaves and other appliances. The price was pretty good too, being on clearance, so we had to check it out.

There happened to be a very enthusiastic employee named James who was kind of milling about around the object of attention. Right as we approached he told us that it was a great deal and that he was almost considering buying it himself. He explained that it had been a Black Friday offer and had fallen through the cracks in the back of the store, and therefore had not been sold. He went on to say that the price listed was 30% off the current price but that it wouldn’t ring up like that on the register so we should ask for him if there were any problems.

To clarify, we already HAVE a kegerator, as many may know from our elaborate remote dual-keg setup we had in Sea Cliff. The old one had been modified and repaired by me, was quite old to begin with, and it’s begun to show its age – apparently my modifications were not quite up to fridge code, which led to moisture problems from condensation. So our old kegerator has been relegated to a life out on the back porch by the wood pile.

As we walked around the store we weighed the pros and cons of getting the new guy and looked up some online reviews, which honestly were not that great, but a few people on forums had solutions to most complaints. Plus, James told us that we could return it if we didn’t like it, so we had less to lose.

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What sealed the deal was that the fridge included a CO2 tank and regulator, as well as a coupler, and of course the tower with the faucet. So we went for it! And, as James said, we had some issues at the register. The fridge did ring up for less than the pre-discount price, as James said it might. This did not sit well with the cashier so we spent about 10 minutes trying to convince her that it was correct until we finally had her call James, who came and worked it out for us, which still took another 5 minutes. But, when all was said and done we wound up saving an additional fifty dollars!!

We got it home, unpacked it, and set it up in the kitchen. The CO2 tank is very nice and there’s a nice holster for it on the back to make it portable. One of the main complaints people had about this unit is that it won’t get cold enough, so that was the first thing I wanted to test. We plugged it in and I put a cup of water in the fridge to test what temperature it would get to. In the morning the water was down to 36 degrees, and it wasn’t even on the coldest setting, so the biggest worry was unfounded. I’m continuing to test the water at different levels in the fridge and at different settings to see what kind of temperatures I get.

Now we just need to try to get our hands on a keg of Greenport Harbor “Antifreeze” and try this sucker out!

Other Editor’s Note: We do hope to modify this kegerator too, by swapping out the single tower it came with for the double tower we have and were using with our setup in Sea Cliff!

Starting Off Fresh

22 Jan

As a result of our upgrade to gas heat and hot water, it seems National Grid decided we should have a new gas meter. As mentioned in a previous post they tried to come on Sunday night. I called back on Tuesday when National Grid opened and scheduled an appointment for Friday when the old oil burner was scheduled to be removed. As it turned out we wound up shooting that day but luckily it was a short day so we were done just in time for me to come meet the tech from National Grid.

He came in and removed the old meter, and installed a new meter mount with a larger diameter piping so the flow should be a little better if needed.

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OLD meter mount

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NEW mount (with meter)

The new meter has a display that can simply be read as a number, no counter-rotating dials to try decipher.

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OLD dials

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NEW meter with analog readout

And, you can see right there why the title of this post is “Starting Off Fresh”. We’re right back at zero!

Bye Bye Old Oil Guts

21 Jan

Today was the day, they came back and took the old oil burner apart and removed it, disconnected the old oil lines and removed the old expansion tank and sealed up the chimney connection. I took the liberty of hooking up the webcam so we could keep an eye on the progress from work. We captured a few stills along the way and here’s a selection to see the progression including the end with it all gone.

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Barmeggedon

19 Jan

The day has come, and I know a few people might be upset about this, but this is progress and the basement bar HAD to go. God knows when this thing was built but it looks like it was “upgraded” with wood paneling in the ’70s.
There was rotten wood at the base plates and drywall that had clearly been wet at some point. The base plates were sitting right on the cement floor, which is not a good idea. Wood that is not pressure treated should not be in direct contact with cement because it tends to pull the moisture that is naturally present in cement and be wet all the time, which causes it to rot out. The bar itself and the wall behind it and around the refrigerator all suffered from this issue, so I’m quite glad we got rid of it.
Some of our visitors have remarked that it was cool or perhaps kitschy but we don’t feel any need to hide in the basement because we live here and there’s no one to hide from and we are allowed to hang out in the main house.

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the bar in its former glory

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the back side of the rear wall, which was also full of old gross wiring.

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the bar’s last stand

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the empty space where the bar once stood

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part of one 920 pound load to the dump, I think we’ve got at least 3 more loads to go.

Stop SOPA and PIPA!

18 Jan

Google has gone black today in support of, or in opposition of, rather, the SOPA and PIPA bills being voted on by the government.

Essentially, what it means to me is that once again the RIAA, MPAA, etc (big movie and music businesses) are essentially trying to gain legal control over the internet under the guise of protecting themselves from piracy, including overseas-based piracy. They are trying to pass laws that will require companies to censor access to sites they deem inappropriate or in violation of their copyright. The big problem is that the laws are very vague and give governmental power to these handful of companies that want to protect their profit margins. The end result is that they will be able to put any company, website, blog, individual, etc. out of business by suing or simply threatening law suits. Even if they win the law suits the targets of the suits will be wiped out from the legal fees and the process, and will no longer be a problem to these companies, which is what they want in the first place. They will either have to cease and desist or they will be dragged into court by a team of corporately funded lawyers and watch all their money disappear as they try to fight for what they believe in.

If I write any more you probably won’t read it so, please, click the image at the top of this post and sign the petition.

Take a look at this video for a better explanation.

Christmas Lights Last Hurrah

16 Jan

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It started to snow tonight and it actually stuck a little, which is the first chance we got see our Christmas lights in any kind of snow. We were going to take them down today but decided not to because it was so cold and we wanted to do some couch shopping.

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While You Were Out

15 Jan

We returned tonight from a lovely dinner to what appeared to be a tag from FedEx or UPS, in fact, it was this…

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It was surprising, to say the least, that National Grid would drop by our house for a non-emergency visit on a Sunday night but apparently they did…

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I guess they want to give us a new gas meter in response to our conversion to gas heat. The fact that they decided that should happen on a Sunday night with no appointment strikes us as quite odd, obviously.

So we missed them and perhaps they’ll
come back Monday, we don’t know, we don’t have an appointment! We are a little psyched to get an updated meter, possibly a digital one and hopefully one that they can read without having to gain access to the basement.

Stay Tuned!