Category Archives: Home

Oh, the irony…

So, when we got the new house, I decided to “go green” and get a reel mower. It’s quiet, it does its job, it won’t pollute, it’s a small workout and you won’t smell like gas after you’re done.

Last night, while in the crawl space, in total darkness, I managed to knock down and spill on me the only bottle of engine oil left by the previous owner. So much for not smelling like the next door gas station.

I hate popcorn

I generally like popcorn, especially the one without a lot of butter on it. But I hate the smell of popcorn, especially the burnt one. If you’ve seen a microwave after someone accidentally nuked a bag of popcorn for 4 minutes instead of 2, you know what I’m talking about.

I hate even more the popcorn on the ceiling. I’m not talking about mistakenly popping the kernels and getting them on the ceiling, I’m talking about popcorn ceiling. Sometimes referred to as acoustic ceiling. I don’t need it for its acoustic abilities (unlike cement/concrete, drywall does a pretty good job of absorbing the sound). Some peope suggested it may be there as a fire retardant. That may have been true back in the time when they were putting asbestos in it, but that is no longer the case at least since 1976. To me it looks like styrofoam particles embedded in some gypsum-based compound.

From several sources I found out that, if you buy a new house, it will come by default with popcorn ceiling, and you have to pay extra to get the smooth ceiling instead. The only possible explanations for this, that I was able to find, are:

  • builders are too lazy to properly finish the ceiling. Unlike popcorn, smooth celings show minor imperfections in the drywall patches.
  • builders realize what a nightmare popcorn ceiling is for consumers, but they’ve purchased the sprayer and have to justify it. And they corner the buyer to fork more money for something that should be cheaper to begin with.

After reading directions on how to remove the nasty crumbs from your ceiling I’ve ventured to try it myself. It’s not really that hard, it took me about 2 hours to remove it in a medium-size room, but that’s just the first step. Second step is sanding, patching, sanding again. Repeat as long as necessary. Then two coats of primer and some flat white ceiling paint shoud do the trick. Once you get to the painting stage, the mess is gone.

Is it worth it? I don’t know yet. I do know painting it is just as messy as removing it, but once removed you don’t have to go through that pain again. Probably the place I noticed the most how nasty popcorn ceiling is was in the kitchen. Above the stove, it was yellow and probably saturated with 15 years worth of dirt and grime and food junk.

As I was inhaling dust while scraping and sanding, I thought popcorn ceiling must have been invented by a programmer (first intention was to say Perl programmer, but language doesn’t matter that much in my analogy). It’s complex to install, the benefits are uncertain and it’s a nightmare to maintain. Hey, I’m one of them. But then again it must have been the dust in my lungs getting me to think this way.

Random bits

Apparently I didn’t get in the habit of blogging short entries often.

Today liferea notified me there is a new release of WordPress that I should upgrade, so I figured I might as well post something.

First off, liferea is slowly becoming a habit. I use it to track announcements about new software (see paragraph above), keep in touch with my friends, read news from ./ and some other news sites. To the point that I have now to see how I can replicate the feeds on all of my computers. Maybe I should try a news reader from yahoo.

A lot of exciting things happened. We’ve finished upgrading rPath’s issue tracker, Jira, to the latest version. And we did it in a eat-your-own-dogfood way: it’s a software appliance living on a Xen machine, as a domU. I was involved in this initially just for the Mercurial plugin for Jira, but figured we might as well go to the latest version of Jira. I had to fix several other plugins that were broken by API change (yes I wish you didn’t have to touch plugins to make them work on newer versions). It’s pretty cool, if your reference a Jira issue in your mercurial commit message, it will get indexed by Jira and linked to the issue (viewable as the Mercurial Commits tab). This link is an example.

The software appliance lets you isolate the application from the base operating system, and it makes it trivial to update it. No mess left on the host operating system either. I know package managers are supposed to help there, I’ve been installing rpm packages for almost 10 years now, trying to achieve that. But the very moment you deploy the system in a production environment, you know things get installed that you didn’t plan for. Conary helps a lot here.

I am looking forward to version 0.45 of Inkscape to land in Foresight. The screenshots look awesome. Ken promises he’ll have it committed in a couple of hours. It’s very nice to have the latest and greatest software, and Foresight is doing a great job there. A big thanks to the Foresight community and to Ken for making Foresight a great distribution – which DistroWatch reviewed yesterday.

On the personal front, we’ve been unhappy with my daughter’s school (or maybe looking for a reason to move into a larger home). At any rate, we’re in negotiations for the repairs the seller has to perform before we close. This is exciting. Except for the hour I spent today with the heating technician inspecting the gas pack in a chilly 18 degrees Fahrenheit. And for the amount of siding that has to be fixed. Hopefully we’ll get to an agreement on this. But I had to spend a lot of time on the phone with lenders, insurance agencies, inspectors, real estate agents and the such.

The week of vacation

Who said home improvement projects are not fun. I am so sore now.

But the kitchen looks really nice now. All that’s left to to is fix the threshold and paint the base molding. I will post pictures with the project’s timeline some time soon.

In other news, I ran a 5K this morning. I timed myself at 21:17, which is exactly one minute slower than my personal best, achieved 2 years ago in the same race. Not a bad result, considering that I’ve been sporadically running, trying to recover from my calf muscle injury. I believe it’s still faster than the result 3 years ago, which was 22:07 (but I can’t find the archives to back my memory).
That’s the reason I decided to not run the Inside Out Classic Half Marathon next week (that, and the conflict with the orienteering event on Oct 22).

Update: the official time confirmed my 21:17 reading. (I started 2 seconds later, hence the gun time showing 21:19).