New House Recovery

New House Recovery

Wednesday, June 12 Through Monday, July 8, 2019

On Wednesday, we are in our St. Louis townhouse planning for the upcoming close on a San Antonio townhouse.   We also spend time with family, going out to dinner and generally hanging out.

Michael's Bar & Grill - St. Louis Greek Restaurant
Michael’s Bar & Grill – St. Louis Greek Restaurant

Linda’s dad took us to dinner at Michael’s Bar & Grill.  This is a small St. Louis neighborhood Greek restaurant located on Manchester.  The food and service were excellent.  Prices reasonable.  Both Linda and I had the moussaka dinner.  For desert, baklava.  Best baklava ever!

This year, it has been unusually rainy in St. Louis.  So much rain, there is flooding in and around the city.  Everyone seems to be getting tired of the rain.  The last time it rained like this in St. Louis was 1993, the year we moved from St. Louis to San Antonio.  The flooding was worse in 1993.  Chesterfield was flooded.  Downtown flood walls were up.  It seemed like the only bridge out of town was Interstate 44.  Flood control has improved since and the only flooding we saw was along the River des Peres, especially near where it empties into the Mississippi River.

I’ve been following up regularly with Princess Craft over the telephone.  Our plan is to drop truck and camper off on Tuesday, July 2 for the remodeling work we want them to do (see blog post discussing remodeling).

Friend John Calling From Hanoi Vietnam
Friend John Calling From Hanoi Vietnam

Friday morning, my friend John video phoned me (Apple FaceTime) from Hanoi Vietnam.  He was winding down for the day as Hanoi is 12 hours off USA Central Time.  He has been to Vietnam a number of times.  In addition to his research, he also teaches university courses when visiting.  It was really good to catch up.  In grammar school, we often walked to school together.

Inside House View of Dog Door Insert For Sliding Glass Door
Inside House View of Dog Door Insert For Sliding Glass Door

Friday afternoon, I put up the dog door we bought from Moore Pet Supplies.  This is our second try with dog door inserts for the St. Louis townhouse.  The first door we bought from Amazon and it was too tall for this sliding glass door.  The Moore door was built to order and fit perfectly.  The extra weather stripping I added around the insert seemed effective at keeping the summer weather out.

Outside House View of Dog Door Insert For Sliding Glass Door
Outside House View of Dog Door Insert For Sliding Glass Door

The insert is not intended to be a permanent installation.  We plan to remove the insert whenever we close up the house for more than a few days.

Saturday, Linda and I drove to Hannibal Missouri with a load of boxes and to spend the day with Linda’s youngest brother and his family.    They bought a house in St. Louis and will be moving back to the city over the next year or so.  I should mention that my brother-in-law makes awesome smoked meats.  His wife’s cooking skills rival the best chefs in the best restaurants.  Needless to say, the meal we shared was an extraordinary feast.

Monday, we replaced the sister-in-law’s condo water heater and did some other plumbing work.   We used Maplewood Plumbing, the same company we used to correct plumbing problems in our St. Louis condo.  They arrived on time and did a great job.  One of the plumbing issues they addressed was to replace the faucets for the washing machine hook-ups.  The faucets leaked and needed replacement.  The plumber had to cut a 5″ by 7″ hole in the wall directly below the faucets to be able to change the faucet.

Vertical Blinds In Condo
Vertical Blinds In Condo

While the plumbers worked, I installed vertical blinds on sister-in-law’s sliding glass door.

Wednesday, we drove over to Home Depot to buy an access hatch to cover the hole in the sister-in-law’s condo wall.   Thursday morning, I gathered up my tools and Linda and I went over to the condo to install the access hatch.  The access hatch install was going well until I missed feeling the pipe behind the third screw hole.  I ran my drill through the drywall and into the water pipe.  It immediately began spurting water.  Yelling (really cursing), I pushed my way to the closet where the condo water turnoff was located.

Even after the water was off, water continued squirting into the laundry room.  The water heater installation included a thermal expansion tank.  This tank was still pressurizing the punctured water line.  “Think!  Think!” I thought.  Open all the faucets and let the water flow.

Finally the water stopped spurting out the wall.  Then I remembered to throw the water heater breaker.  No sense in melting down a brand new water heater.  Not thinking straight, I searched the entire condo.  The last room I looked in was the laundry room.  Not only was the light bad where the electric panel was, the panel was between a cabinet and the wall.  I couldn’t get my head into position where I could read the writing identifying which breaker I needed to switch off.

Water Heater Breaker In Electrical Panel
Water Heater Breaker In Electrical Panel

I used my phone to take a picture of the breakers so I could tell which breaker would turn off the water heater.  Once the water heater power was off, It was time to call the plumber.

Still shaking, I fumbled around with my phone.  It took a while to find the phone number and get it dialed.  When I got through, all the plumbers were currently out on calls. One or two of them might finish up in the afternoon and I was promised the first one to free up.  Linda and her sister left to run errands and eat lunch out.  I stayed in the condo to wait for a call back.  After lunch, Linda and her sister returned, bringing me lunch.  Mid afternoon, a plumber freed up and arrived.  He fixed the leak straight away.  This wasn’t the first time he had seen a pipe punctured inadvertently by drill.

Something to be thankful for.  Reliable plumbers.  Nice to know folks have your back.

Late Afternoon in Dining Room at Courtesy Diner
Late Afternoon in Dining Room at Courtesy Diner

Linda and I were leaving for San Antonio Friday morning early.  We had enough drama for the day and needed comfort food.  We ate dinner at what has become our favorite local diner, Courtesy Diner.

Missouri Interstate 44 Rest Stop Commemorating Larry's Motel on Route 66
Missouri Interstate 44 Rest Stop Commemorating Larry’s Motel on Route 66

Friday morning, as planned, we left St. Louis early for a three day drive to San Antonio.  Along the way, we stopped at a Missouri rest area outside Marshfield commemorating Route 66 and some of the iconic businesses found along that old highway.  I’m standing in front of Larry’s Motel, a covered picnic shelter with two picnic tables.  This rest area also has a decent and well stocked tourist information center.

By noon, we had made it to Pryor Oklahoma and were eating lunch at the Sonic Drive-In.  We chose Sonic because we could park in the shade and eat in the car with the dogs.  Only drawback to this particular Sonic is they have no public restroom.  That really sucks when you have been driving for hours.

Friday night, we stayed at the La Quinta in Muskogee Oklahoma. This hotel has lots of grassy space around the hotel where we were able to safely walk our dogs.  This is a good overnight spot for us.

Saturday, we picked up lunch at Buc-ee’s in Fort Worth.  We both had brisket sandwiches. Delicious!  From there, we easily made it  all the way to the La Quinta just south of Waco.  This older La Quinta is off the Interstate a few miles.  This is another dog friendly location with places to safely walk dogs evenings and weekends.

Texas Shaped Waffles For Breakfast
Texas Shaped Waffles For Breakfast

Only in Texas!  Texas shaped waffles for breakfast.  After breakfast, we drove south on the Interstate and arrived at the San Antonio KOA by noon.  All in all, we were pretty lucky on our three day trip from St. Louis to San Antonio.  Everyday the weather forecast called for thunderstorms.  We didn’t get caught in thunderstorms while driving.  We did have some pretty good thunderstorms after checking into our hotels.

Monday, June 25, Linda took Benji to the doggy eye doctor while I took the Jeep to the dealer for an oil change and state inspection.   Benji is currently a good candidate for cataract surgery.  The Blue Pearl ophthalmologist described the three month post surgery recovery process and prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops.  The recovery process requires that we spend an entire season in the San Antonio area.  There is an intense regimen of eye drops and follow-up exams.  We will probably do the procedure sometime during the next two years.

The Jeep maintenance at Yaklin was quick and efficient.  We could now license our Jeep for another year.

Before lunch, we were at the bank to make sure that our down payment wire transfer would be be delivered to the right title company before close of business.

Monday afternoon was the final walk through on the San Antonio townhouse.  The townhouse  was cleaner than we expected and nearly all of the junk had been removed.  We were now ready for the morning closing.

Will The Jeep Fit Into The Garage?
Will The Jeep Fit Into The Garage?

As we were leaving, we pulled the Jeep up to the garage door to see if it would fit inside the garage.  Too tall.  We will try again later with the baskets pulled off the roof rack.

For buyers with a mortgage, the title company experience is a long drawn out affair of signing and initializing document after document.  Boring.  The sellers closed right after us and we were given the keys and remotes right away.

Our first stop after closing was the home owner association’s management company office.  We needed more remotes for gates, access card for the pool and stickers for our cars.  Our next stop was the post office to arrange for a neighborhood mailbox assignment and a set of keys.  We would be able to pick up the keys on Thursday.

After lunch, we bought cleaning supplies including buckets, mops and a new vacuum cleaner.  We also stopped at the hardware store so I could get a step ladder, an electric drill and drill bits.  We took these to the townhouse before returning to our truck camper at the KOA.

Wednesday morning, I was at the dentist getting my temporary crown replaced with a permanent one.  Linda was at the townhouse letting the plumbers in to fix a number of long needed maintenance items and redo some previously done sketchy repairs.

New Water Softener And Thermal Expansion Tank On Top Of The Water Heater
New Water Softener And Thermal Expansion Tank On Top Of The Water Heater

We have lived in this neighborhood before and have seen the water pressure reach 110 PSI.  That is considerably higher than standard residential water service.  To keep our pipes and equipment safe from damage, we had the plumbers install a pressure regulator on the house side of the water meter.   The water heater appeared to be installed in 2014.  It was missing a thermal expansion tank which was required by code on all water heaters installed at that time.  We had the plumbers bring the hot water heater up to code.  San Antonio gets its water from an underground limestone aquifer.  Lime in water is not good for pipes and ends up attaching itself to pipes, ice makers, toilet bowls, bath tubs, sinks and showers.  We added a water softener to remove lime from the water.  We also had the plumbers replace all the toilet and sink shutoff valves.  Additionally, the washing machine valves were replaced.

Shafer Services, in addition to sending great plumbers, sent an AC technician to figure out if our current AC could be salvaged.  The inside part of the AC dated back over 20 years to when the house was built.  The outside part of the AC had been replaced around 2004.  This system used the old Freon that is no longer available due to environmental concerns.  Linda arranged for a new replacement air conditioner install on Friday.

Also on Wednesday, my cardiologist changed my cardiac catheterization procedure appointment from July 17 to July 3.  Both dates were on Wednesdays.  Nothing like having additional stress in your life.  After the procedure I won’t be able to lift anything heavier than five pounds for several days.  I got lots more work to do around the house.

Wednesday July 3 was when AT&T was scheduled to come and install telephone, cable and Internet service.  I had to reschedule AT&T to come Monday July 8 instead.

Thursday morning we had an appointment with Terminix to address our termite problem.  A Terminix inspector came on time.  His message was pretty simple.  Yes we have termites.  Terminix won’t treat townhouses unless they can treat all attached townhouses at the same time.  Our house is one of eight townhouses sharing common walls.  We were disappointed and felt like Terminix had wasted our time.  At least our former San Antonio bug extermination company was upfront.  They didn’t treat individual attached townhouses either.  We needed time to find a plan B.

Later in the morning, our window cleaners arrived.  We have been using Bellows Window Cleaning since their first year of business.  We had them do all the windows, ceiling fans and gutters.  They will also pressure wash driveways, garages and walkways.

Linda went to the post office to pick up the mailbox keys on the way back to the camper at the KOA.

Craftsmen and Ryobi Tools For The House
Craftsmen and Ryobi Tools For The House

On my way back to the camper, I stopped off at Lowe’s to take advantage of their Craftsmen Tools sale.  For roughly $150, I was able to purchase a huge mechanics tool box stuffed with wrenches, sockets and ratchets.  I added a large $40 set of screwdrivers and a $20 set of grooved joint pliers.  To round out this set, I’ll need regular pliers and a set of crescent wrenches as well.

David From Mr Electric Comes To Resolve Outstanding Electrical Issues
David From Mr Electric Comes To Resolve Outstanding Electrical Issues

Friday, Shafer Services installed the new air conditioner while David from Mr. Electric replaced GFI (ground fault interrupt) protected outlets with individual GFCI outlets.  The big advantage is when a GFCI outlet trips, it is immediately apparent which reset button to press.  Also, outlets done this way tend to last longer than one GFI outlet protecting up to four outlets.  The inspector had identified a few GFI outlets that simply did not work.  David also replaced the outside outlet protective covers as he replaced each of the outside GFI outlets.

Intelligent Honeywell Thermostat
Intelligent Honeywell Thermostat

Shafer installed an intelligent thermostat that can be hooked up to the Internet.   Linda will be able to change the temperature settings from anywhere.  This is especially useful when we are traveling and the house goes from needing air conditioning to needing heat.

Clean Install of Bosch Heat Pump System
Clean Install of Bosch Heat Pump System

The heat pump system install was unusually clean.  The work was considerably tidier than work we had done in the past from other air conditioning providers.  By Saturday morning, the house temperature was down to a chilly 70°.  In this house, the heat pump inside unit is in the attic.

Later in the afternoon, we realized that the ice maker in the refrigerator was never going to make ice.  The refrigerator had been running all day and night since we took possession of the house.  Looks like the fridge is on its last legs.  We added a refrigerator to the list of appliances to be replaced ASAP.

Stanley Steamer was coming to clean the carpets on Saturday.  I got busy vacuuming the carpet in the entire house.

Dyson Animal 2 Upright Vacuum Choked With Dirt
Dyson Animal 2 Upright Vacuum Choked With Dirt

I was really surprised when the dust bin on our new vacuum cleaner filled up and started choking the vacuum.  I only vacuumed the upstairs.  I emptied the bin.  An amazing amount of fuzz and dirt poured out of the bin.

I went back to vacuuming.  I vacuumed the stairs and living room and the vacuum was plugged up again.  The above picture shows the full bin.  The bin seems to fill every time I vacuum.  This house needs a number of cleanings before it will be clean.

Curtains, Rods and Sheers In Upstairs Bedroom
Curtains, Rods and Sheers In Upstairs Bedroom

On Saturday, after Stanley Steamer cleaned the carpets, Linda was off to La-Z-Boy to buy a pair of recliners while I hung curtains on all the windows.  Linda bought the curtains, sheers and rods over the Internet from J.C. Penney.  The curtains are washable.  The cream colored sheers look good behind the beige curtains.  The curtain rods cost lots but felt cheap.

Ultra Comfortable La-Z-Boy Recliner
Ultra Comfortable La-Z-Boy Recliner

The recliners that Linda liked were only available at the warehouse and would be ready for pickup later in the afternoon.  We drove over to San Antonio’s West Side to get the chairs.  Lucky these chairs come apart otherwise they would never have fit into the car.

Saturday afternoon was when I started cleaning the cabinets (kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and halls), oven, oven racks, floors and so on.

Camping Cots setup in Master Bedroom
Camping Cots setup in Master Bedroom

Sunday we moved out of the truck camper and into the house.  We pulled camping cots, pads and other items from storage to make camping in the house more comfortable.  Linda put all of the dishes, pots, pans, food and other related items from the camper into the kitchen cabinets.  Toiletries from the camper went into bathrooms in the townhouse.  Then I resumed cleaning.

Standard Sized Amazon Supplied Dog Door Insert For Sliding Glass Doors
Standard Sized Amazon Supplied Dog Door Insert For Sliding Glass Doors

In the afternoon, I hung the dog door insert for sliding glass doors that we brought down from St. Louis.  The sliding glass door in the townhouse is just slightly taller than the St. Louis sliding glass door making the insert a perfect fit.  Like the St. Louis house, the dog door will be removed when we are going to be gone for any length of time.  Also, like the St. Louis house, I had to add additional weather stripping to keep hot air out and cool air in.

We left the truck and camper in  our KOA campsite Sunday night.

Even though we were sleeping on cots, we were really happy to be spending the night in our new home.

On Monday, after removing remaining items from the camper and truck cab, we checked out of the KOA and put the truck and camper into storage.  The rest of Monday was spent cleaning.  Running multiple loads of dishes through the dishwasher revealed that it leaks.  On further examination, the dishwasher had been leaking for some time.  We also  discovered that the washing machine leaks especially bad on full loads and leaks a enough to be irritating on medium loads.  It too had been leaking for some time.   We added a dishwasher, washer and dryer to our list of appliances needing replacement.

Monday afternoon, I called Mr. Electric.  One of the outlets that David worked on didn’t have power.  I asked the scheduler if he could come back the following Friday to look at that outlet and she was able to schedule Friday.

Early Tuesday morning we left the townhouse  and went to storage to pickup the truck and hitch the Jeep.  We drove the camper up to Round Rock, Texas to  PrincessCraft.   We are having remodeling and maintenance work done on the truck camper (see blog post discussing remodeling).  Leaving the truck and camper at PrincessCraft, we returned to San Antonio in the Jeep.

We stopped at Sears in Rolling Oaks Mall on the way back from Round Rock to buy appliances.  Sears was having a crazy good sale on Sears Kenmore Appliances.  I sometimes tell my friends, “I would rather be lucky than smart.”  This was just one of those lucky moments.

Linda had found an exterminator willing to treat our townhouse for termites.  He came early Wednesday to deal with the termites.  They use bait now to kill termites.  The termites find the bait, take it home and kill the colony.  It is nice when termites do the heavy lifting for eradication.  The exterminator also sprayed inside and outside for bugs.  We think this guy is a keeper and will continue to use his pest control services.

I had to fast starting Tuesday night for my Wednesday medical procedure.  My instructions were to take only two of my medicines early Wednesday morning.  Shower using anti-bacterial soap.  Show up at Santa Rosa in the Medical Center by 11:00 AM.  The procedure would start at 1:00 PM.

Over simplifying the cardiac catheterization procedure:  they stick a huge needle into a big vein (ether femoral near the groin or radial near the wrist or elbow).  The needle is then used to fish devices through one’s veins into different parts of the heart.  Meanwhile, so the doctor can see where the equipment is in your body, they load you up with (sometimes radioactive) dye so that they can follow the equipment’s progress on X-RAY video monitors.  The dye makes the veins show up in the X-RAY.

It takes a cardiologist and a team of at least six other people to do all this so I expect it to be extremely complicated.  It also costs piles of money. Thank goodness for health insurance.

What kinds of things can they do with their equipment in the body?  Glad you asked.  This is not a complete list.  They can measure the inside diameter of individual heart veins.  They can position an inflatable balloon in a blocked artery.  When the balloon inflates, it forces the vein to get bigger which increases the blood flow in the heart.  They can also place a compressed spring into a blocked artery.  When the spring is released, it forces a blocked artery to stay open.  The spring thing is called a stent.

Around 10 years ago, I had a blocked artery and had this procedure done.  This same cardiologist used a stent to unblock the artery.  Because of complications, I ended up in a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit for two days.  The recovery at home had its moments.  Because the femoral artery was used, there is a chance that the clot won’t hold.  If the clot had failed, I would have bled out within five minutes.  Not a pleasant thought.  My wound site (where they inserted the big catheter) was swollen.  It looked a bit like a tiny volcano sticking up.  An angry ugly looking volcano ready to erupt.  The swelling lasted for more than a week.  Totally creepy.  Each day I wondered if this was the day that I would just bleed out.

So, yes, I was worrying about the procedure.  Even for simple things, stuff can go wrong.  There is some probability greater than zero that bad stuff will happen that will alter the course of one’s life or end it altogether.

Fortunately, medical technology has advanced.  They can now do the cardiac catheterization procedure through the wrist.  The wound is much smaller and if the clot fails, I could save myself by using my other hand as a tourniquet.  I didn’t realize that I could easily stop blood flow at my wrist until the recovery room nurses kept stopping blood flow in each wrist to determine if the wrist veins were large enough to support catheterization.

Hospital Wrist Band
Hospital Wrist Band

We arrived at Admissions twenty minutes early.  After a five minute wait, the admissions person started the check-in process.  She needed my driver’s license and health insurance card.  Then she needed payment for the deductible.  It was clear that Santa Rosa remembered me from my first stent.  Finally, I got the hospital wrist band.  See the bar code on the left?  Every time the hospital uses a bandage or CPAP mask or anything, my wrist bar code is scanned and the item bar code is scanned and added to the bill.  Amazing.

Once done with admitting, we sat down in the waiting area.  Within five minutes, the recovery room nurses were taking Linda and I to the recovery room.  I undressed and put on the hospital gown.  The nurses were professional and efficient.   The younger nurse shaved the hair from both wrists and up both arms.  Then she adjusted my not-so-modest gown and shaved upper legs on both sides of the groin. I made a joke about Lorena Bobbitt.  In her twenties, she was born after 1993 when the Bobbitt story broke.  The other nurse laughed.  She told the younger nurse not to worry about it.

Once the four primary catheter insertion locations were shaved, they hooked me up to a saline IV, covered me with a warm blanket and left the room.  Soon, they were back.  The younger one started working my wrists to see if the veins were large enough.

The operating room nurses arrived shortly to move me to the operating room.  This was around 11:30.  Linda opted to go find our friend Diane to eat lunch in the cafeteria.  Diane had volunteered to sit with Linda while I was in the operating room.

After the operating room nurses were finished with their preparations, one of them, around my age, started talking to me.  We were waiting in the operating room for the cardiologist to arrive.    I learned lots from the nurse.  He told me about the recently remodeled operating room ($4 million).  The equipment in the room such as the X-RAY video camera, the X-RAY source and the giant computer monitor display dominating the room.  He talked about all the different things the cardiologist can do through the catheter.

It turns out that he was a fellow RVer with a thirty plus foot bumper pull trailer.  He was a travelling nurse, living in his trailer, a full-timer lifestyle he obviously liked.  We talked about our favorite parks.  He hadn’t been to Big Bend yet.  I told him about Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, Davis Mountains State Park and Balmorhea State Park.

MD Shaikh, my  cardiologist, appeared after two.  Everyone jumped into action.  I was moved from the recovery room bed to the operating table.  My right arm, where the the catheter was going to be inserted was tied down.  My IV was augmented with a pain killer and some sort of anesthesia.  I felt some pressure in my right hand and arm.  That must have been the big catheter being inserted.  I woke up around 3:30 in the recovery room.  I didn’t feel bad.  There was some slight discomfort in my right hand and arm but nothing serious.

After MD Shaikh left the operating room, he went to the waiting room and talked to Linda.  He told her that I had serious blockage in my heart.  60% blockage in the section in question.  This is a lot of blockage but not enough for a stent.  The next step will involve lifestyle changes.

Linda and our friend Diane came into the recovery room.  We chatted as the nurse fed me graham crackers and apple juice.  Diane left around 4:30.

To get the puncture wound site to clot, they had covered the site with a clear inflatable balloon.  Thick clear plastic around my wrist held the balloon securely in place.   The balloon was inflated in such a way to apply just enough pressure to the wound site to stop the bleeding.   This gave my body time to create a clot at the wound site naturally.

The nurse had a tool to release air from the balloon in exact measured amounts.  The game was to slowly reduce the balloon pressure over time as prescribed by the cardiologist.  We could see the wound site through the balloon and plastic wrapper.  No blood leaking.  The air pressure in the balloon would be slowly reduced to zero and the dressing changed before 5:00.

The nurse also covered the at home part of the recovery.  Don’t lift anything over five pounds.  Don’t bend the wrist this way or that.  Don’t do anything strenuous.  Don’t get it wet or remove the dressing for 48 hours.  Don’t submerge the wrist in water for a week.  Do replace the dressing with a regular bandage after 48 hours.  Do look at the wound site regularly.  If there are signs of infection call cardiologist or head to the Emergency Room.  If it starts bleeding, go to Emergency Room.  If I get unusually dizzy or nauseous, go to the Emergency Room.   I was to schedule an appointment with MD Shaikh for one or two weeks out.

On The Way Out Of The Hospital In The Wheelchair Going Down The Elevator
On The Way Out Of The Hospital In The Wheelchair Going Down The Elevator

By 5:00, I was dressed and on my way out of the building via the obligatory wheelchair.  I was overjoyed to be getting out of there.   Home by 6:00.  Hungry and not hungry at the same time, I ate some Greek yogurt with blueberries and then settled in my new La-Z-Boy recliner for some rest and relaxation.

I spent the 4th of July at home.  I woke up a little groggy but after breakfast felt better.  First thing I did was upload some Python code to github.  I’m in the beginning phase of a program that might benefit others and I put the code on github so my nephew Luke would be able to see it.  Then I started working on this blog post.

Linda went out grocery shopping and bought a few days worth of healthy food.

World's Okayest Brother
World’s Okayest Brother

My brother Rob gave me this t-shirt last year as a joke.  For some reason I just put it on Friday morning.  Then I texted him this picture.

David From Mr. Electric Looking For The Power Source To The Outlet On The Other Side Of The Wall
David From Mr. Electric Looking For The Power Source To The Outlet On The Other Side Of The Wall

Friday, David from Mr. Electric arrived early.  The outlet problem turned out to be harder to solve than we ever suspected.  Not sure how David missed this the previous week.  It appears that the wires feeding the outlet don’t go  anywhere near a potential power source.  The switch on one side of the wall and the outlet on the other side of the wall were separated by a stud.  One would have to tear open the wall to connect the outlet to the switch David was standing in front of in the above picture.  This was not the time to remodel the kitchen.

Blank Covering Unusable Outlet
Blank Covering Unusable Outlet

After quite a bit of time looking for potential solutions, we had David remove the outlet and replace the cover with a blank.   We will reinstall the outlet later when we remodel the kitchen.

After David left, Linda and I worked on a giant Amazon order.  We needed to outfit a kitchen and get Internet networking equipment, a printer and other household items.

Saturday morning, Linda and I went to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy a boat load of kitchen gadgets that would be too hard to figure out on Amazon.  We also stopped in Office Max to get printer paper and other supplies to help Linda manage all the paper work for the new house.

Late Saturday afternoon, the big Amazon order showed up.  It took us two hours to get everything out of the packaging (we saving the printer install for Monday).  Our large recycle bin was nearly full.  Some of the Amazon items were for the St. Louis house, some were for the truck camper but most of it was for this house.  Not everything ordered shipped right away so more is coming.

Sunday morning, we made a trip to Sam’s and Costco to buy more household items and some food.

This is the first time Linda and I have provisioned a new house from scratch.  I’m amazed at how much stuff is needed to fully  outfit a home.  We are no where near being done.

Always Give 100% Unless You're Donating Blood
Always Give 100% Unless You’re Donating Blood

Monday morning I decided to wear a t-shirt my sister Sheri sent me for Christmas two years ago.  Seems appropriate given my compulsive personality.

Installed Sears Kenmore Dishwasher
Installed Sears Kenmore Dishwasher

Monday is also the day that Sears came to install the new Kenmore Dishwasher and AT&T came to install U-verse TV/Cable, Internet and phone service.

The dishwasher is unusually quiet when it runs.  We like that.  Keeps the TV volume down in the evenings.  This new color, stainless black, is pretty.  One thing irritated Linda.  The salesman at Sears told Linda the controls could be seen when the dishwasher door was closed and Linda made her dishwasher selection based on that false claim.  The installer pointed out that there were three lights on the front panel.  When lit, the right most light indicates the dishes are clean.  Linda still wasn’t happy about being misled but was OK with the front panel indicator.

The AT&T install got off to a rocky start.  It became a treasure hunt for Jay, the installer, as he tried to identify and match up the wires coming in from the outside network interface box to the inside telephone wires.  Jay had attached a tone generator to the wires at the outside network interface box labeled with our address.  He had found the four inside telephone jacks but his tone sensor didn’t detect a tone on any of the inside wires.  The interface box was attached on the outside wall on the first townhouse in our row of eight townhouses.  He was getting ready to give up when he asked for my help in finding other inside telephone jacks or a junction box.  I asked if he had looked in the garage.  We went into the garage.

Communications Wiring Junction Box Below Electrical Panel
Communications Wiring Junction Box Below Electrical Panel

After a minute of looking around, my eyes settled on a blank covering an electric box below the electrical panel.  Jay took the blank cover off the electric box and pulled out the communications wires so he could look at them.  We found the junction box.  Outside telephone wires came up from the left bottom of the junction box. Inside wires come from the upper left hand side of the junction box.  A coax cable (cable company) wire came up from the right bottom of the junction box and connected to a splitter  connected to two inside coax cables.

Jay’s tone sensing tool failed to find the wire connecting the junction box to the outside network interface box.  Now Jay was really ready to give up.  In his mind, our last hope for installation was gone.  However, I was far from giving up.  I want AT&T U-verse, not Spectrum cable.

In my 30 plus years at AT&T, I held a variety of jobs.  Each job provided new opportunities to gain new skills and life experiences.  I’ve used a toner and tone generator before to troubleshoot data center and office network wiring issues.  As we say in Texas, “This isn’t my first rodeo.”

I said to Jay, “Crap.  I really don’t want to get stuck using Time Warner (now Spectrum) for Internet service.  Can we try one last thing?  I’ve been told that the way stuff is labeled in the field and the database records of where thing are located are often wrong.”

Jay seemed to be willing so I continued.  “Just on the off chance that things aren’t what we think they are, let’s put your tone generator on the wires here in the garage and then use the toner (tone sensing tool) to figure out where else the wires might be.”

AT&T U-verse Network Interface Box
AT&T U-verse Network Interface Box

I was relieved when Jay was willing to humor me.  He hooked the tone generator up to the garage junction box outside phone wires.  We walked down to the last house in the row of townhouses and around the corner to where the network interface was located.  He waved the toner around the AT&T equipment.  No tone response.  “Time Warner sometimes does screwy things with our equipment.” I said.  Jay waved the toner around the nearest Time Warner labeled box.  The toner screamed out its found-it-tone.  Bingo!

Jay’s attitude suddenly brightened.  As we walked back to our townhouse, I said to Jay, “I’m so glad you figured this out.  I really don’t want Time Warner service.”  Jay’s next step took him to the neighborhood network distribution point.  He was gone over an hour.  When he came back, he explained there was a fixable wiring problem that would take another AT&T a few hours to work out.  Jay also said he would go on to another customer, take care of them and be back later in the afternoon to finish up.

When I told Linda what was going on, she said, “He won’t be back today.”  I said he would.  When I went out to take pictures of the network interface box, I noticed that Jay had left two tone generators attached at the work site.  “He is definitely planning to come back this afternoon” I thought smugly.

Jay made it back around 4:00.  He ran into another show-stopping problem around 5:00.  The cheesy phone wires in the house between the kitchen desk where the modem/router/WIFI box and the upstairs bedroom where we wanted to place the master video receiver (set-top-box) would not support a network connection.  There appeared to be no easy way to created a wired Ethernet connection between the modem/router/WIFI box and the master video receiver.

The recently received Amazon order included four network devices to provide Ethernet speed network access over the house’s electrical wiring:

Amazon sells the adapters for $90 per pair.  Each adapter supports two Ethernet connections and has an outlet so you don’t lose the whole outlet when these are used.

Ethernet Over Power Line Meets U-verse
Ethernet Over Power Line Meets U-verse

I asked Jay, “Do the receivers still connect to the modem  box using Ethernet?”  Jay nodded yes.  I continued, “I have these adapters that use the house wiring to transport Ethernet to each other.  They are already setup.  Let’s see if they are fast enough to support the video receiver.”   I grabbed an adapter and white Ethernet cable.  Then plugged the adapter into the outlet and the modem into the adapter.

TP-Link Adapter Connected To Wired Video Receiver
TP-Link Adapter Connected To Wired Video Receiver

Jay followed me up to the upstairs bedroom.  I plugged the TP-Link adapter into an outlet.  Next I plugged in a long black Ethernet cable in the bottom of the adapter and handed the other end to Jay.  Jay plugged in Ethernet cable into the wired video receiver.  After Jay rebooted the receiver, we watched the HDMI attached TV (not shown in the picture) as the video receiver booted and started showing TV.  Bingo!

After Jay brought the TV downstairs (we only have our little 110 VAC / 12 VDC camping TV with us), he hooked the TV up to the wireless receiver.  The wireless receiver came up fine and Linda and I started watching Criminal Minds on the local San Antonio ION station.  In standard definition.  I changed the channel over to the HD version of the same channel.  We didn’t have HD!  HD wasn’t on our order!  Jay added HD to our order.  It was 5:30.  Equipment issues outside our house caused some manual AT&T network equipment changes and reconfiguration.  By 7:30, we had full service and Jay was on his way.  Thank you Jay!

What a day.

Hope to see you on the road ahead.

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