windows – the saga begins

Chez TPH was built in 1960, and most of the windows are original. They’ve lasted pretty well over their 47 years of service, but I think it’s time for me to break through the single-pane barrier and into something a little more energy efficient.

As well as replacing most of the “normal” sized windows, I want to add a couple of treats for myself: replace the picture window with a bow (or maybe a bay), and replace the dining room window with a sliding door, so that I can put in a deck. These probably won’t to amazing things for my resale value (though the sliding door probably will), but they will make my life in the house more enjoyable, so I think it’s worth it.

My budget for Operation Double-Hung (hot) is around $10-12K, and though I haven’t worked out financing yet, I’m confident in my ability to afford it (remind me to talk about my allowance one of these days). So, now I’m onto the step of collecting estimates, which is probably going to be the worst part of this whole project because it means I get to deal with sales people. Now, don’t get me wrong, I used to work in retail (never on commission though, thank Og), and some of my best friends are in sales, but interacting with sales people professionally makes me want to cry. Part of it is that I hate haggling (just give me a fair price, I’ll take it, really). Another part is that hate feeling uninformed (and sales people love to put you on the defensive like that). And yeah, stories like this don’t make me feel any better about the situation.

Luckily, I’ve got a few tools on my side as I look to make what will basically be the 3rd biggest purchase in my life:

  1. I don’t really, cosmically speaking, need new windows. I want them, they’ll save me some money on energy, and they might just earn me some money when it’s time to sell, but I can live without (just as I have for the past 3 years).
  2. Supply and Demand: there are lots and lots of people who install windows in the Twin Cities. The housing market is slowing down. I’ve got options. I’m looking to get at least 3, if not up to 5 estimates for the job so I know I can avoid saying yes to any high-pressure “if you sign up within the next 45 seconds” sales tactics.
  3. Friends. I know people who do construction. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what wholesale prices for windows are, and I’ve got a pretty good rough idea of what installation costs should be as well.
  4. Planning. I’ve got a spreadsheet that I’m using to keep track of all the estimates. In it, there are a number of specific questions that I need answers for so that I’ll be able to compare all of the estimates on a level playing field (stuff like brand of windows, warranty, etc). I can post this if anyone’s interested…just leave a comment.

Last night, I got the first estimate. I didn’t have high hopes for this company from the start because a.) I found out about them through their door-to-door pestering guy, who interrupted my shower on Saturday morning…I don’t think that quality companies should have to advertise door-to-door, and b.) the original appointment was set up for Monday at 8. I get a call Monday at 7:15 from one of their employees saying that the appointment was not going to happen that evening, because the door-to-door guy put my number in the computer wrong, so they couldn’t get a hold of me to confirm. Not impressive. I ended up rescheduling for last night, and luckily dude did show up this time…early even.

Dude’s name was Marc, he’s from New York. He claimed to be 50, but also claimed to have been almost drafted for Vietnam, passed over for medical reasons (by my math he would have been 16 when the draft ended). When he started getting technical about the features of his windows, he started talking to Nerd 2, even though he knew that I am the sole owner, and Nerd 2, though curious, is just a tenant. He was sure to talk to me when it came time to discuss how easy the tilt-back windows are to clean however. He tried repeatedly to talk me out of the bow/bay for the living room, and I had to keep reminding him to keep it in his numbers. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed.

In the end, he quoted me 3 prices: the first was the “retail” price, intended to scare me away from even looking anywhere else because “this is what those guys will charge”, the second, was their “regular” price, which was pricey, but within my grasp if I stretched. The third was actually in my price range (which he didn’t know) and was the “special advertising if I sign up right now and promise to write 3 letters and keep up a sign” rate. It was almost comical to see how quickly he cleared out once he realized that I wasn’t going to be making a decision that night. I wonder if he’s pissed that I wasted his time?

Needless to say, I probably won’t be going with Company A. My next estimates will come from companies that I find via Angie’s List.

On a happier note: 4.20.07 – Save the date, bitches.

eighty

Is the number of degrees Fahrenheit over the melting point of an equal mixture of salt and water that the air temperature was as I pulled into my driveway yesterday evening. Heaven.

Went for another microride yesterday (to Target and back, with a little bit of an extra loop thrown in) and clocked another 5 miles…w00t. I saw a lot of new faces on the paths, which was nice (lots of people my age, few kids), though a lot of them were walking extremely small dogs, which was not nice (I’m hoping that many of them were puppies, and that Blaine isn’t being overrun by purse-dogs). I’ve decided to try for the 1000 mile goal this summer. As a reward to myself if I make it, I’ll be buying a new bike next spring – still not sure if I want a “real” mountain bike or a road bike, but I’ve got 987 miles to figure out which kind of riding I like best.

Actually, I’m being somewhat disingenuous, since the I know what type of riding I like to do most – it’s riding that involves booze. Which is why I’ve been keeping an eye on the MNBeer postings about the Pedal Pub coming to Minneapolis. Yes, it is what it looks like – a conference bike with a beer tap. They are having a launch party this Saturday by the Stone Arch Bridge with food and free rides etc, I think it will be a lot of fun and will probably check it out.

While on the subject of beer related events, Bell’s summer brew Oberon is hitting stores and bars this week. I believe the Happy Gnome is having a tapping party tonight (I won’t be going, but if you’re around that corner of St. Paul and haven’t tried Oberon yet, I suggest you stop by).

productivity

Things that I achieved this weekend (in no particular order):

  • Found a new favorite IPA, imbibed same while swinging on my hammock at 16:00 on a Friday.
  • Ate venison burgers cooked on my grill
  • Napped
  • Finished The Chamber of Secrets
  • Took care of shit
  • Installed a new theme on the site (what do you guys think? let me know about any broken links, etc)
  • Discovered that it’s not a fluke, I really do like porters a lot.
  • Found a new favorite pizza delivery place
  • Chose a colour for my bedroom walls (Behr 790E-3: Porpoise), became distraught when I realized that the combination of my wine coloured sheets and yellowish incandescent lighting turns my beautiful bluish-grey into a distinct shade of lavender. Resolved to replace lightbulbs and/or maybe run crying to the Home Depot paint desk for suggestions.
  • Took Nerd2 on a bike ride to the dam and back. I might just have a riding partner for the summer which is promising. I think that a stretch goal of 1000 miles this summer may actually be achievable (only 992 miles left to go!).
  • Booked an appointment to get the first estimate for replacement windows tonight. I’m finally in a place where I feel financially comfortable investing a fair amount into the house, and I’m kind of excited at the prospect of having actual professionals come in and do work.
  • Filled a 42 gallon contractor cleanup bag with trash from my room.
  • Did I mention the naps?

Needless to say, it’s amazing what a few days of high 60’s and sunshine can do for a girl. I hope you all had excellent weekends as well!

cancer’s not trivial

But, sometimes, you can fight it via the knowledge of things that are.

Last night’s Bar Trivia fundraiser for Team Boobylicious was a great success. We had about 100 people show up (filling the 2 back rooms of Hubert’s Bar & Grill to capacity) and made over $900 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. If you missed it this time around, have no fear: Trivia for Boobs II (Electric Boobaloo) is scheduled for Tuesday, May 1st, at Hooters in Block E…mark your calendars!

A few people asked where they could get one of the oh-so-sexy shirts that the team was wearing last night. You can get them through Cafepress (proceeds from the cut that Cafepress gives us go straight to Komen as well), click on the design you like below to see what styles are offered.

boobylicious.jpg ilove1.jpg 58008.jpg

how edgy are you?

bakersedge.jpgWhen it comes to brownies, I’m usually more of a fan of the slightly undercooked center of the pan, but I can understand the temptation of the chewy edges. Apparently, there are some really edge-heads out there, because Bakers Edge has created this nifty looking all edge, all the time brownie pan ($34 on Amazon right now).

I for one will probably be waiting until the lasagna pan comes out (lasagna is a medium in which the edge pieces are definitely superior). [via]

and then hagrid gave harry a scrapbook.

I solved my Harry Potter dilemma by getting the bastardizedamericanized version from the library, this way, I’m not financially supporting Scholastica’s mission to cater to the lowest common denominator.

I had planned to pick up the book on Sunday, but I ended up plague-ridden and barely able to leave my room, let alone the house, so I ended up waiting until Monday (when I was still too out of it to work, but I felt safe enough driving to Target Clinic and the library).
I finished it last night, and, well, I can’t say that I regret my decision to avoid the book when the first hysteria about it started. It’s a cute story of course; there’s magic and dragons and the boys think girls are icky and naturally the children are all underestimated by the adults, but honestly I don’t understand what the big deal is/was. I’ve been told that it gets better, that “the books grow with the children” and become more engaging, but I don’t understand why, back in 1997-98, everyone was so excited.

I’m reading the books according to this schedule, just to keep me on track. It’s obvious to me that I won’t be able to participate in the discussions, due to hella-spoilers (nccneragyl, fancr qvrf? jgs? ur’f zl snibevgr*). I’m glad that I also happened to wander by the Heinlein shelf while I was at the library, because I picked up a copy of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress so that I can turn to Lazarus Long for a little stimulation when the next Defense against the Dark Arts teacher does something foolish.

For now though, I should get back to work, and continue to convince myself that buying this with the money that I’ve got set aside for my Wii is not a good idea.

*don’t speak ROT13? click here

the ides of it all

I have a friend who has a way for dealing with boys whose mouths distract from their otherwise attractiveness. “Shhh,” she says, holding a finger to her mouth, “you’re pretty, you don’t have to speak.” Then she pats them on the head and smiles in a way that leaves them confused as to whether she really meant it or not. It’s brilliant.

Yesterday evening, I found myself wishing that I could do the same thing to the 300. The movie is everything that the reviews promised: orgiastic, beautiful, stylish, bombastic. If you’re looking to have a “wargasm”, its the right place to go. But man…the wavering accents, the cheeseball cliches, and the acting (at least any time such acting didn’t involve sticking sharp metal object into someone’s flesh) were all bad enough that they distracted from my enjoyment of the overall whole. And given how beautiful everything in the movie that did not involve people talking was, the fact that I was distracted is pretty bad. Overall conclusion though: See it! Seriously, there might be a few people out there for whom this movie isn’t appropriate. But I don’t know those people.

Post movie, A. and I headed down to 112 Eatery, a restaurant that a mutual friend of ours gushes about. We weren’t disappointed. I had the pork tenderloin and the carrot cake (with layers of mascarpone inside) and both were perfection. The atmosphere was not quite as yuppie as I had feared (despite the tables full of pretty Target Corp. marketing drones), the service was polite and prompt (even though the bartender didn’t know how to make a Tom Collins), and the prices are reasonable. I’ll definitely be going back.

Our night was capped off with a saunter up 1st Ave, to First Ave, where I learned that TV on the Radio is a much more energetic band live than they sound on their albums. It was great fun (though it felt like 90 degrees inside), and halfway through, I found myself actually considering buying tickets for tonight’s all ages show…just so I could see them again. Getting home at 1am on a Wednesday however, is probably not conducive to going out again on Thursday, so I’ll have to console myself with the fact that I’m seeing Of Montreal in the Main Room tomorrow.

Watch out for soothsayers y’all (they are the ones that bring the bad luck), and if you’ve got any friends named Brutus, you may want to cancel your plans with them today.

caution. geek within.

Any list of favorite comics that includes Gaiman, The Watchmen, Y: The Last Man, and a bunch of other works that I haven’t heard of/bothered with probably implies that I should be checking out the “other works”, methinks.

In other fandom news: I believe that it’s about time that I actually read the Harry Potter books (I’ve boycotted them since undergrad for a variety of reasons which I shan’t get into here). The only caveat is that I want to read the original versions (at least of The Philosopher’s Stone…I can’t bring myself to carry around a book with the wrong title). Do any bookstores/libraries in the Cities have the imported versions do you think, or should I be ordering from amazon.ca?

Trivia for Boobies

Hey, I wanted to let you guys know that tomorrow is the last day to pre-register a team for Bar Trivia at Hubert’s in support of Team Boobylicious. It’s only $5 per person, and the grand prize is $100 cash (there are lots of non-cash prizes as well). Just click on the picture below for more details and a link to the registration page.

trivia.jpg

If you don’t have a team yet, feel free to register individually and we can pair you up.

Hope to see you there!

yummy.

The Taste of Chocolate failed to make me sick of chocolate this time round (maybe my tolerance has increased?), but it also failed to disappoint. I was impressed by everything we sampled, though the Tomato Bisque with Basil truffle was a little odd). K. and I split our votes for the People’s Choice award (I favoured the Lemon “thing” in the picture below, she voted for the dessert that came on a cookie) I felt a little a bad about voting for something that was white chocolate, instead of real chocolate, but it was amazing.

choco.jpg
Photo by Kayepants

After we had collected the last of our samples, we relaxed for a little while and watched a rehearsal for the Bloomington Civic Theater’s production of Swan Lake. Ballet is very different up close – there is a lot of sweat, and also panting which makes everyone seem a whole heck of a lot less graceful. It also didn’t help that the two leads were complete assholes to everyone else there (and the clothing worn by the dude dancing the Prince was highly disturbing — we thought that the knit jumpsuit that emphasized his package was bad, until he took it off, and we could see how much his tights rode up his buttcrack) but it was amusing, so all the better.

Yesterday I also won at crockpot. How did I do this? I assembled this recipe (with minor mods due to my lack of fresh vegetables), threw it in the large crockpot (yes, I own three of these…don’t ask) and ignored it for 8 hours. Wow. It even made brown rice taste good. I’m set for lunches for the week (would be dinners too, but my carnivorous roommate got into it last night).

I didn’t end up going to the bike sale on Saturday, but to make up for that I intend to celebrate the extra hour of evening daylight by going for a quick ride, just to remind myself what it feels like to sit on the saddle. Or maybe I’ll just make some Bacon Popcorn.