Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Death of a Furnace

We have no heat. Literally. In the house. None. Cold. Brrr.

Outside, winter has arrived (naturally...) The lows are in the teens - and the winds kicked in tonight. Wind chills will drop it into the single digits.

Here's the short story: Furnace makes clicking noise. Home warranty company sends Repair Guy #1 to the house. Furance is rusted and starting to crack. It's OK to run for now but it needs replacing. Warranty company says they'll replace the unit, but we have to pay for several non-covered charges, including mandatory upgrades to the flue that aren't really part of standard installation, even though they're mandatory. That's like making you pay extra for the seatbelts.

But that's not the point. The non-covered charges total $1200. OUCH. But when you're the dad and the mom, you gotta do what you gotta do. The warranty company assures me that Repair Guy #1 can't charge more than that. Then we call him and now he suddenly needs $1750. What to do? What to do? Should I complain?

You're damn right I'm gonna complain. There's me and warranty company on the phone. They call the Repair Guy #1 and he tells the warranty people that they didn't write down everything he would have to do for this job. By the way Warranty Guy told me this, I know he was rolling his eyes at Repair Guy #1.

Enter Repair Guy #2 - aka The Second Opinion. Repair Guy #2 comes to the house yesterday. Yup. Furnace is bad. Furnace gotta go. And then comes the bombshell: Furnace must be shut off. That crack is dangerous, Repair Guy #2 says it's dangerous and, by law, he must shut it down. Carbon monoxide could seep out. Repair Guy #2 says Repair Guy #1 should have shut it off.

That brings us back to cold... Brrr shivering cold. So now there's big down comforters and layers of blankets and portable space heaters. The night isn't unbearable under the covers but that tile floor in the bathroom in the morning is - WOW! COLD!

Warranty Company Guy says they'll approve the replacement. Repair Guy #2 will do the job and says it won't nearly cost that much out of my pocket - probably closer to $1000. Not great - but not $1800 or even $1200.

I'm shooting for Wednesday but Thursday could be more likely. Friday at the latest. Very latest. They say there's a pretty good snow storm headed this way Thursday night.

So this is the life of an east coast homeowner in the winter? I don't ever remember dealing with anything like this in Morgan Hill...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Girls Weekend

This weekend, we're on our own. Stacy took off to Florida to hang out with a good friend of ours. We had some flight credit that she had to use before it expired - but it wasn't enough to travel cross-country. But it was enough for a quick roundtrip down to Florida to see Michelle.

No, Disney World isn't in the plans for her - but she is going to relax. Even if it kills her. She says there's a trip to a day spa somewhere in the plans.

Back home, the kids are worried that we're going to starve to death - because I don't really cook. But I do know how to order pizza and pop Eggos into the toaster. And as long as we have cereal and milk in the house, we'll be fine. As for keeping them occupied, it's still way too cold out there for us to be heading outside. Maybe we should take this opportunity to catch up on laundry and cleaning around the house.

Or not...

Friday, January 26, 2007


There's a word. Blustery. Is that supposed to mean that it's not quite cold enough for your skin to blister. A few weeks ago, everyone was talking about how warm it was - 73 degrees in early January.

Well, winter has arrived. And it brought the wind with it. Now, I get it. All these years. The cold weather back east that they'd talk about on the news back home - right before they started talking about a chilly 52 degrees and a mild 68 in the day around the bay. Yeah, I remember it... And this is just DC cold - not like Boston or Minnesota or Green Bay cold. AND there's no snow. All the stuff that stuck the other day is pretty much gone.

It actually did snow today and pretty got pretty heavy for there for a while, a steady stream blowing in the wind. It was pretty to look at but none of it stuck. Now it's clear. And still cold. Really cold.

Blustery cold.

So what exactly is blustery? Wind chill makes things blustery, it appears. So the 19 degrees in Rockville this morning will actually feel like 2. No I didn't miss a number. That's "2," as in degrees. TWO. Tomorrow's high? 31.

(Did you hear that? Was that one of my bones crackling?)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Text 1, Text 2...

So Zack sent me a text message today.

Zack: H
Zack: Hi dad how are you
Zack: Give me a text back love zack

My phone was on vibrate on my desk and I missed the messages. Later, once I got on the train, I sent him a note back and we had this little dialogue. (He's still kind of a slow texter.)

Me: U there?
Zack: Hi Where are you?
Me: On the train. Where are u?
Zack: I am on your bed
Me: Don't make it stinky
Zack: I'm not going to uncle nick is.
Me: Tell him he better not. I'm in my truck now. Be home in a few minutes.
Zack: Dad be careful. it's really cold.
Me: 26 degrees Brrrr (My truck tells me the outside temp)
Zack: No way jose.

OK. What kid texts "No way jose"?? At 8 years old. He cracks me up...

So I get home and he's all excited, waving around the cell phone, "That was cool, huh, dad?"

It was cool that we had that little time to interact. It was still "our" time. Father and Son. I have a feeling I may have to boost our text message plan soon.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Middle School

I went to the middle school where Alex will start in the fall. That was an experience.

First, I can't even get over that my little girl is heading into middle school. She's still my baby girl and it's hard to see her get so big so fast. Kindergarten was hard enough. But middle school, an evil place with combination lockers, dressing out, pimples and pre-pubescent boys. Here we go...

Second, I am blown away by the type of education these kids are getting out here. In public school. There were teachers who were talking about classes these kids need to take and what paths they need to be on to get a jump start on high school and even college. There's resources and activities - sports, music, art, theater. That's all the stuff that went away years ago back home.

There was this one teacher who made me laugh when he said that there is nothing like the look of a new sixth-grader who becomes frantic when he can't remember his locker combination and someone says the buses are leaving. It's why he keeps teaching.


I'm excited about the experience she'll have there. All I can say is: Class President by the 8th grade. You read it here first. I know my kid.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Raiders Get A New Head Coach

His name is Lane Kiffin. At 31, he's the youngest head coach in the NFL. It's been a tough few years since the Gannon days - this most recent season under Art Shell being the toughest. But I have a good feeling about Kiffin. Why? Because he's young?

NOPE. He's a Bulldog. As in Fresno State Bulldog. As in my Alma Mater.

According to his profile on the USC Web Site (I know, I know. But until he has one on the Raiders site) he was a quarterback at Fresno State for three seasons in the mid-90s and began his coaching career there, working with quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs for two seasons (97-98).

Welcome to the Raider Nation, Kiffin. We have high hopes for you...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Indy Wins.

I love when playoff games are good ones. It was all New England in the first half. But Indy came back to tie things up in the third quarter. From there, it was back and forth, back and forth. With a minute left and down by 4, Tom Brady and the Pats start the drive to the end zone. Then - on 1st and 10 with 24 seconds - INTERCEPTION!

So that makes it Indy and Chicago in the Superbowl in 2 weeks.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Finally! We've been waiting for this for a long time. And even though the storm is only expected to drop an inch or two, the kids couldn't wait to start playing...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Go To Bed Already, Will Ya?

This is so typical for me. I have a 9:30 coffee meeting at a K Street Starbucks tomorrow morning, which means I gotta get showered, ironed and dressed, fix the kids' lunches, make sure they eat breakfast and warm up my truck enough to at least de-ice the windows so we can be out of the house by 8:15 and I can be on the Metro before 9. And where am I at almost 2 in the morning? Sitting in the basement, listening to some oldies, parked in front of this laptop, hammering out my first blog entry.

Don't worry about me, though. I'll be fine in the morning. One good jolt of coffee (OK, two) and a hot shower and I'll be good to go. Stacy - that's my wife - will make sure I get up on time. I love that I can count on her to do that for me. We take care of each other, Me and Stace. She's my best friend. In the whole world.

It's cold tonight. Down in to the teens, the weatherlady said. Possible flurries overnight. The kids - they're 11 and 8 - did this crazy snow dance with their friends tonight. Something about wearing your clothes backward and inside out, singing "Let It Snow" while standing around a toilet, opening a window and throwing a cup of water outside and then sleeping with a spoon under the pillow. All the kids in the neighborhood know about the Snow Dance - and they're tired of being the only place in the country that hasn't seen a flake of snow this winter. The kids tell me that this dance will make it snow in 48 hours

Tonight, on the 11 o'clock news, the weather dude said it could snow this weekend. Well, whaddayaknow? Think the kids called the TV weather dude just to mess with my head?

Nahhhh. Now, I'm really losing it... Time to crash. I promise to write again soon.