Monthly Archives: July 2017

Walmart online vs. Amazon: Round 2 — Hand sander

Hand sander from WalmartWith no end in site to Lorena’s new (to us) furniture refurbishing projects and her fervor to do them, we decided to buy her a new hand sander. We looked on line at both Walmart and Amazon and, again, Amazon was not even close. This time we would have had to pay a 30% premium for the privilege of buying the closest equivalent at Avalon to what was offered by Walmart. to buy from Amazon. There was not really a whole lot of difference in the offerings. The specs are below. We had two ways to get the sander in our hands from Walmart: 1) Pick it up at our local Walmart which we drive by several times per week or 2) make a purchase of $35 which we needed to do (sand paper and some other supplies) for the project whichever choice we made. Amazon had a one day shipping for Prime members, which is additional cost, but that we have. We called it a wash on that, too.

Feature/Item Walmart Amazon
Product  Hyper Tough 2.4Amp Random Orbit Sander  Black & Decker BDERO100 Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch
Current rating  2.4 Amps  2.0 Amps
Shipping  2 days (w/$35 purchase)  1 day with Prime membership
Price  $18.73
 $26.99

Room remodel: Buying cheap stuff to refurbish

Green Goodwill nightstand with a dingLorena spent $52.99 yesterday at Goodwill and a thrift store Bob and I stepped into when we first got to Washington a few months back. She bought stuff with an actual purpose:

  • The nightstand in the photo to the right ($24) for our upstairs guest bedroom that now has a really nice Walmart bed. It needs a gouge filled and some paint.
  • A beat up but sturdy desk ($8.99) for the upstairs guest bedroom. It is pretty dinged up and will require some pretty serious elbow grease to get into shape, but Lorena is going to use that as an excuse to get a hand sander. If it looks interesting, we will probably post about it here.
  • Two small (hard to know what to call them) nightstandish kind of thing that has baskets in them ($10 each) for the basement bedroom when we get around to it–probably going to use them as a stopgap organization tool to get the master bedroom closet under control until we can figure something else out. This needs a couple of screws to be tightened or replaced, but other than that, they are good.

We have decided to not try to take on too much at a time after spending the last four months on the kitchen/living room remodels. We have three pretty big interior upgrades: the upstairs, the basement apartment, and the carpet replacement, probably with LVT.  The first step is to finish the upstairs guest bedroom. We have decided we will take them in order and do a little bit at a time as we can afford it. There is also a ton of exterior stuff, but that is another story.

Christian sees Renoir’s Dance at Bougival

Dance at Bougival, Christian sees the real one at the Museum of Fine Arts in BostonGrandma Sarah bought a print of Renoir’s Dance Bougival back in the 1980’s for a small apartment where I lived by myself that had nothing on its walls. I had few good going on in my life at the time and was, frankly pretty down, so it was a great act of kindness and I have loved and admired that painting very much. It is such an amazing work of art that has such an amazing reminder of my mother’s love for me and for the underdog. It was so very typical of the kind of thing she would do. The funny deal is that Grandpa Lauro and I, independently came to the conclusion that the dancing man reminds me very much of my brother Doug–even now.

Christian’s last day of work for the summer at Lincoln Labs was yesterday. He presented his research to the team, went out for ice cream with his church friends in the area–visiting scholars and students at the area schools from New Zealand, Toronto and Jamaica and went back to the dorm to pack for home. He knows about this picture. It is always the one we hang first. Last week he learned that he lives virtually across the street from the permanent home the original of our print.

Today, he texted me this photograph of himself by the painting. I had asked him to do that for me if he could, but he was so busy, he knew he was not going to be able to do it. Nevertheless, he found a few minutes and ran into the museum to take this photograph just a few minutes before it closed on his last full day in Boston. I am very grateful Christian was able to make the time to take the picture. He was surprised the painting was so big–bigger than our print by quite a lot. Lorena and I got the painting out and have decided to find an appropriate frame for our print as soon as we can.

Walmart online vs. Amazon: Round 1 — Bed and mattress

Bed from Walmart beats Amazon badlyWe have been members of Amazon Prime for a number of years now. Amazon is convenient and has good prices. So, when Lorena returned from IKEA a couple of weeks ago, disappointed by what she believed were low quality offerings at not such great prices, we decided to buy a bed from Amazon. We found something that would just fit the bill: A Tokyo Bronze Queen Size Metal Bed and a Slumber 1 – 8″ Mattress-in-a-Box. I had heard that Walmart was upping there game in online sales to compete with Amazon, so on a whim, I checked out Walmart’s offering. Here is what I found:

Walmart: $296.17 with Free Shipping
Amazon: $339.14 with Free shipping for the mattress and “free” shipping with Amazon Prime membership for the bed

That “free” shipping thing with Amazon Prime membership always seemed like an oxymoron to me. The Amazon Prime membership costs money so the shipping is really not free. We have Amazon prime so the shipping only cost a little more for the Amazon order. Nevertheless, we would have had to pay a 12+ percent premium for the privilege the bed from Amazon. That is a privilege I am not really interested in exercising.

It all arrived today and we were very happy with the quality of the product when we got it put together. This whole turn of events reminded me that I never want to be a single source shopper. I am never going to buy anything from Amazon again without checking Walmart online first. The reality is I will probably check Walmart first going forward.

Kitchen remodel: The tedious finish work–door handles and alignments

Mark installs the under cabinet lightsThe shattered bottom oven door is replacedWe had a great time with Mark here yesterday. He did a lot of finish work on the kitchen including the adding of three missing can lights in the ceiling, undercabinet lights, cabinet door alignment and the placement of all the cabinet door pulls. He put the stove hood in his van when he headed home last night so the exhaust fan could be added “at the factory” instead of in the field. They have the tools and special skills to do it. He will be back next week to add all the drawer pulls, the moulding in the living room so we can paint and install the stove hood. We are getting awfully close to being done.

One additional thing we discussed was the addition of a gas fireplace close to the kitchen so we can have it set up similar to our house in Raleigh. It is a great idea, but will require that a window be moved. Mark said he was up for that small addition, but probably not much more. We still have a few months to work on him although I am pretty sure we do not have a winning hand when it comes to the apartment in the basement. We have not yet given up hope.

Cabinet doors aligned with door pulls

Kitchen remodel: Mark does lots of little things

New hardwood floor vents (the double)

Brazilian cherry floor vent in living roomOur contractor, Mark P. came today and got a lot of finish work done. He looked at a couple of issues with the floor, installed the floor vents, and decided to bring the floor guy back for about a half days work. The floor vents are beautiful. In addition, Mark adjusted all the cabinet doors so they were aligned properly, installed all the cabinet door pulls (but not the drawer pulls), installed the remaining under-cabinet LED lights, installed the missing three overhead lights, and installed the replacement oven door for the one that was broken. I will put up pictures of all that other stuff tomorrow.

The really good news, though, is that he has agreed to help us put a gas fireplace in the kitchen/dining room. We came up with a great plan that he says he should be able to complete before the end of the fall so we will have it this winter. We hope he will be able to draw us a plan, but it is not so complicated, so that may not be necessary. At any rate, we think it will be a great addition to what Mark has already done and we appreciate his willingness to come back here because we know it is a major effort for him to do it.

Wolfe, Chomsky and Everett

The Kingdom of Speech by Tom WolfeI wrote in a previous post. about the kerfuffle surrounding two scholars of linguistics and Tom Wolfe’s fascinating commentary on it in his book The Kingdom of Speech. I just read an article about the affair that had a great quote in it that I wanted to preserve on this blog so I can return to it and point to it now and again. It is an interesting article that is worth a read. The quote:

Chomsky’s theory of language, as will be evident to the reader of Everett’s piece, is on a par with Darwinism. A theory about nothing but itself about how things happen. We could leave it out and nothing would change except the air would be cleaner. Not that Everett says this, of course.

Our bald eagle is back

Bald eagle again, but with binoculars

Our bald eagle friend came back today and we took a picture of him with our digital binoculars. We are really glad we got them, but can see we need to get better ones or a telescope. We think we want to go the telescope route and equip it with a real machine vision style camera. We were glad our eagle came back, too. Now we know we might get to see him every now and then.

Lorena picks blueberries again

Lorena picks blueberries in Rochester, WA 2017It gets no better than this. They were very, very sweet and there were many of them. She got a good batch, but she really needs to get two to three times more. If she gets enough we will plug in the freezer before the kitchen is finished and there should be good progress in the kitchen again this week. Mark has promised we will be done by mid-August. We appreciate his great work and are looking forward to it. The name of the U-Pick farm is Black River Blues in Rochester, Washington. She is going to try to go again in the next few days before the season is over.

I found a great old picture of Lorena

Lorena at Thanksgiving in Boynton Beach, Florida, 1972

I found this great picture of Lorena from shortly after we were married in 1992. It reminded me of another photo I saw of the day when Grandpa Lauro and Grandma Conchita got married on November 13, 1966–very close to exactly twenty six years after the above picture was taken. It is kind of amazing that they both look so much like Conchita’s mother who is signing for the marriage on the right side of the image below. Our twenty fifth anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. I am awfully grateful to be part of this family that has been so kind to me.

Lauro and Conchita get married (Grandma Leonor signs) -- November 13, 1966

My Bible reading plan–getting close to complete

Reading through the BibleI was pretty bad at consistently reading my Bible up until shortly before we moved from Oregon to North Carolina in 2006 when I started keeping track of my reading (here) on one of my blog pages. I started out with a plan to read a chapter a day until I had read through the entire Bible three times, with a couple of extra readings of the New Testament after each complete pass through the whole Bible for a total of nine individual reads. Here are some notes on how it has gone:

  • The first time I read through the whole Bible, it took me 1363 days or 3 years, 8 months, and 25 days.
  • My last pass through the whole Bible took me 584 days or 1 year, 7 months, and 6 days.
  • My first pass through just the New Testament took me 11 months and 9 days.
  • My most recent pass through the New Testament which I completed today took 127 days or 4 months and 5 days.

I really have only missed a handful of days in this entire time where I did not read and have made up for all the days I have missed to the best of my recollection. The thing that is most interesting to me is that I am not really reading any faster now than I did previously, I am just taking more time. In addition, I am enjoying it more and more every time and find myself “reading ahead” on a fairly regular basis, especially on Sundays.

I have one more read through the new Testament to finish the original plan, then I need to make a new plan. I want to do some topical studies, but I also want to read some other version. My current thinking is that I will do a read through the NASB and the RSV using the same plan as before (one read of the Old Testament and three reads of the New Testament), then switch over to some topical studies. In the meantime, Lorena and I want to read through the Reina Valera (1960) translation together using that same trajectory.

Almost a Washingtonian

New plates on the carWell, we finally got the Washington plates mounted on our car. We retired our Texas plate to a place of honor in the garage. The only thing left now to make it official is for me to go down and get my license changed. That will have to wait until Friday or sometime next week, though because I am headed off to work in Canada for a couple of days.

Driving through Seattle was so bad last time that I decided on a new strategy for this trip. I hope to leave the house by 4:30 AM if Lorena can kick me out of bed in time. Then, I hope to head back pretty late on Thursday so I hit Seattle at 10 or 11. I am not sure that will work, but anything will be better than last time when we took six hours to make a four hour drive. And we saw NO wrecks, but lots of stopped traffic.

My buddy Bryan brings his drone

Bryan and Ken hang out together, but not on purpose.My long time buddy (closer than a brother) called me last night. I am totally envious of him because he has three grandchildren with a fourth due on August 1. Mari and Brian, Bryan’s daughter and son-in-law broke down in Chehalis on the way to a Birthday party for their nephew up in Bellingham. They were in the Walmart parking lot waiting for Bryan to arrive to bring another car. Bryan told me they were planning to get a hotel and wondered if they could park the broken down car at our house.

Of course, we went down and picked them up to stay with us overnight (how many times have the Joyce families bailed me out and/or had me stick around for dinner? The number is too high to count). We are so grateful they could stay with us and we took them down for the normal massive breakfast at Country Cousin in the morning. Then Bryan arrived, we got all the car stuff sorted out, and I was saying goodbye to everyone when Bryan had a thought.

He said, “Hey, Ken. This would be a great spot to take some drone pictures.”

Lorena had already headed off to Ikea in Renton go buy some beds–we were a little bit embarrassed about our lack of accommodations so we decided it was time to try to fix that a little, so she would never know I was not completing my honey-do’s.

I said, “Yeah, that would be great.”

So we did. the pictures are below. The first picture is a view of the house looking toward the West. The property boundary is just this side of the workshop at the top of the image and runs down to the very end of the cul-de-sac. The South boundary is the trees and the North boundary is the road that ends in the cul-de-sac. There are several more pictures if you click on the “Continue reading…” below.

Thanks Bryan! Again.

House looking toward the West

Continue reading My buddy Bryan brings his drone

Breaking down and buying binoculars

Nikon D90 in bonus roomWe found the power cable to the charger for Christian’s Nikon D90 Camera. We set it up to take pictures of stuff going on in the yard, the area just above the Chehalis river, the town behind it, the hills behind that, and finally Mount Rainier behind that. We cannot see the river, but that draws a ton of wildlife so we absolutely benefit from its presence. We kind of have not figured out the camera yet, but eventually I will find the time to figure it out and start to take some photos.

We had a long talk with Christian about which zoom lens we should get.

He said, “What do you want to do with it?”

We said, “We want to take pictures of the mountain, stuff like deer, flowers, and birds in the yard, and birds like the bald eagle that was on the tree by the river yesterday morning.”

We got it all figured out, but we cannot afford it all for awhile, so in the meantime, I bought some binoculars with image and video capture capability. I am sure they are not great, but they are much better than what we have now and we can just use them as binoculars. Here is what we are getting. I will leave you with one more deer picture we took at dinnertime out on the deck this afternoon.

Deer in the back yard

Deer beside the deck

Deer by deck in Centralia houseI know, I know, we will get tired of deer pictures before too long. We have lived in this part of the world and the reality is that you can get these kinds of pictures just about anywhere in the U.S. I remember going to Princeton, New Jersey to do some work at Bell Labs and we saw tons of deer out the window of the conference room where we had our meetings. Still, we like them and want to remember our joy in seeing the deer because after we plant our garden, we know everything will change. Lorena was only a few yards away from this little guy who spent the entire heat of the day under a small bush beside the deck knew we were there and knew looked right at Lorena when she was taking the pictures.

Ordered a new diet book: The Obesity Code

Obesity CodeI saw on Facebook a friend had started using the program described in the book The Obesity Code. It is another one of those book that is more a way of eating than a diet book. It looked pretty interesting when I read the reviews and the blurbs about it, especially in terms of my current state in life and the philosophy what I know works best for me. So, I wrote my friend and email. He has been using the program for awhile now and getting really good results, not just in weight loss, but in also with his diabetes.

I ordered the book and plan to read through it and figure out what I think about it, but I am also going to stay in touch with my buddy to see how “sticky” the diet is. That is important to me because a lot of these diets are easy to maintain during weight loss, but motivation drops when you have to stay with something painful with no immediate positive feedback (weight loss) because the weight has been lost and the food was only good and interesting the first few weeks of the program. My friend seems to have good success with it for quite awhile now, so I have hope it might be good for me, too. I will keep you posted.