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Closing a Safe Deposit Box

Saturday, February 15th, 2014 - Comments (0) in Cars, House, Life

In case you're unfamiliar with the concept, a safe deposit box (SDB) is a box located in a bank vault with you possessing the only key. The idea here is to store important documents such as passports, birth certificates, car titles, house deeds, social security cards, proof of loan repayments and other valuable things that are difficult if not impossible to replace in a secure location outside of your home. So if your house burns down or is burgled these items are secure.

I acquired one of these boxes many years ago to store my booty, and I've finally got sick of the inconvenience and got rid of it. This wouldn't be a big deal at all except for the fact that we lost the keys! In cases like this they have to call a company to drill the lock or break into the box in some other way.

I had to be present when the box was opened to take possession of all the stuff in it. The bank wouldn't touch anything in the box. So I arrive at the bank and said I was there to get into a box and they ask my name and pull out the signature card. I sign my name and we go into the vault to break into the box. I was expecting a big drill or dynamite or something impressive but this dude sticks a puller into the lock and just yanks it right out! I was totally flabbergasted at what a trivial task it was breaking into that box. I'm fairly positive it would be harder to break into my house than this box.

So I take my stuff and go over to the counter to settle up. Banks generally charge a few hundred dollars for "drilling" a SDB and let's not forget about replacing the lost keys too. The lady helping me couldn't find any information about the actual cost for this job. She was looking around on her computer and flipping through some papers she found under the desk. She said she remembers the last one was around $130, but since she couldn't find any actual information she just charged me $100. All together this whole process took about 20 minutes, which I can't complain about at all. I was expecting to sit there for an hour while this guy tried to pick the lock.

The curious thing about this whole process is at no point did anyone ask for any kind of identification from me. The only person information I had to supply was my social security number when I originally asked to close the box. And even at that time, they didn't ask for a driver's license or anything. So if someone knew my SSN and knew I had a box at that bank they could've walked away with all my stuff and closed my account. And Rachelle's name was on the box too, but she wasn't with me or had any interaction with any of these people and I was able to take the contents and close it. I hope my money is safer than my property in the safe deposit box.

Still Alive...

Saturday, January 18th, 2014 - Comments (0) in Life

Ok, it's been about 10 months since I've posted anything. Life just seems to have gotten exponentially busier and I haven't had much (any) free time.

I'd like to start posting more here since I do some interesting stuff at work and every once in a while at home. So I'm going to try real hard and see what I can do.

I ♥ My New Refrigerator

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 - Comments (3) in Life

So Saturday morning around 3am (I know the exact time because we were up with Nolan) I kept hearing this weird noise. It sounded like a fast vibration without the actual vibrating that lasted for about 5 seconds then there would be a clicking sound and then it would stop. Five or ten minutes later I'd hear it again. Usually Rachelle hears every little noise in the house and reports them to me while I'm trying to sleep, but she didn't hear this one. As long as it wasn't the furnace or the refrigerator I would've been happy.

During breakfast that morning I heard it a couple of times but it always stopped before I could get an ear around to find where it was coming from. Finally I found it, on the floor at the back of the refrigerator, right where the compressor is. We called a local appliance repair place and found that they would come out and diagnose the problem for a very reasonable price. At that point you could decide to fix it or replace it. I knew the compressor was bad, but a second opinion from someone who knows more about these things was a good idea. He came out a few hours later and confirmed that the compressor was toast.

claire helping diagnose

We looked up the model and serial number and found that it was 13 years old and the compressor only had a 10 year warranty on it, assuming we could find the sales receipt and I don't think the previous owner left that for us. The repair guy said it would probably be around $600 for the part and labor and that in most circumstances it wasn't worth trying to save. So after nap time we packed everyone up and went to Sears to look at new refrigerators.

We were able to get a very decent deal on a new french-door style one that was much bigger internally but the same physical size. I was even able to get them to deliver it on Monday when originally the only timeslot they had was on Thursday. I guess bringing your 3 year old and 1 month old to the store helps when trying to get something fast. Rachelle's only requirement being that it has ice/water dispenser. Our old one did not, so I have to run the water line, should be fun.

new frige

new fridge 2

We probably spent more than we should have, but we're going to be using this for the next decade or so, we might as well get something that we like.


Subaru Power Brake Check Valve

Sunday, March 24th, 2013 - Comments (2) in Cars, Life

So I have a new issue with my '99 Subaru Legacy Outback: the check-valve for the power brake booster is sticking when the car sits in very cold weather. Or at least that's what I think is happening.

The point of this valve is to only let air flow one direction between the intake manifold and the booster. The manifold applies vacuum to the booster to "power" it - enabling brake assist. So when the engine is off there is no vacuum present and no power brakes. This is bad in the cases when you're tooling along on the highway and your engine dies. So they put this check-valve in the middle to hold vacuum in the booster should it suddenly disappear on the manifold side. It gives you about 2 pedal pushes worth of brake assist and then you have to stomp on the pedal like in the dark ages.

Recently in the morning and when I leave school at 3:30 I have a couple stops worth of assisted brakes and then the third time I step on the pedal it's very hard to stop the car. This lasts for a few seconds and then the valve breaks free and the pedal drops an inch or so and I have normal brakes again. No big deal, I know how to live with it, but Rachelle would die if she drove my car and encountered this situation.

As far as I can tell the valve is located in the middle of the air hose (highlighted in red below). There is a small bump in the hose similar to a snake that just ate a mouse.

subaru brake boster check valve

I haven't decided what to do about yet. I could replace the hose and valve ($34 from the dealer), but I'm not sure it's defective - it could be a positioning problem. When the car is warm and suddenly cools condensation can form in there and freeze on the valve itself causing it to stick. A new valve wouldn't stop this. I'm wondering if I can reposition the hose slightly so the valve is at the highest point so the condensation runs away from it rather than down onto it. I'll have to play around for a few. Looking at that picture it looks like the valve already is the high point, but I'll have to stick my head in there to see. I'm also racing the weather on this one, once it's above freezing I have a feeling the problem will go away.

Virtual Private Servers

Friday, March 22nd, 2013 - Comments (0) in Computers, Life, Linux

With how pervasive virtualization technologies are now, hosting companies are able to offer virtual private servers (VPS) at very low prices. They basically carve up a huge server into smaller virtual chunks that are all independent of each other. You have complete control over it and can even reload the operating system in about 10 minutes with one click in the management website.

I used to host a server in my basement for my email and a couple websites and various other things. Now you can get a VPS with 2GB of memory, 50GB of disk space and connected to the internet at gigabit speeds for like $5 a month! At this price-point it just makes more sense for me to move my websites (including this one) to one of these servers since I can do anything I want on them, not just host sites.

 VPS speedtest

I even found one to use as a proxy or virtual private network (VPN) that's located in Canada for $12 a year. It's a very low end server (128MB memory), but for a proxy it's perfect. And when connected to it, all my traffic exits to the internet in Canada from an address not associated with me in any way. This is important because if I were to download something copyrighted, the MPAA or RIAA would not be able to contact my Internet Service Provider about it, but instead some hosting company in another country where US laws don't apply. Not that I would ever do anything like that though...

Should you be interested in a cheap server to play around with, is a great place to start.

Nolan Joseph Reid

Friday, March 22nd, 2013 - Comments (0) in Life

Well after 10 months, he's finally here! Born at 6:40pm on February 22nd, 2013 - weighing 9lbs 12oz and 21 inches long.

His due date came and went with no signs he was ready or wanted out. Rachelle had another ultrasound to check a few things and they calculated him at 10lbs (plus or minus 10%!), so they decided to induce her.

nolan sleeping

I've really been lazy when it come to updating this website, so this is kind of old news; he turned 1 month old today.

He's the spitting image of Claire when she was his age, even came out with white-blonde hair (explains all the heartburn toward the end). He's an eater though. Claire was a total bird and never really ate anything. I gave him his first bottle today and he sucked down 2oz in about 10 minutes. That would've taken Claire about a half hour.

He's been doing a decent chunk of sleep at night, from 10pm to like 3am. Today at his appointment the doctor said we can just let him dictate when he wants to eat, so hopefully he'll be sleeping through the night soon.

Broken Furnace Flue

Monday, January 21st, 2013 - Comments (0) in House, Life

Very early yesterday morning (like 3am) I was woken up to the news that there was "a noise" every time the wind blew. It was a very windy night, I think I heard about 60mph gusts. Once I was awake enough to think about what I was hearing I knew it was the old flue for the original furnace. There was a rain-cap on it and the wind popped 2 of the 3 rivets holding it on so it would flap in the wind banging around all night.

In the morning I saw this from the ground:

broken flue

Eventually during the morning it disconnected completely and I found it on the ground in the back yard.

So I collected all the tools I needed and went out to get the right sized cap to seal it off and formulated a plan for getting up on the roof. I've never been on the tallest part of our roof, and getting up there was not easy. I needed to go out my bedroom window onto the garage roof and then use a ladder from that roof onto the big one. For that, I needed someone to hold the ladder. There were still some very strong wind gusts and my ladder is not very sturdy. I called around to a few friends and finally got someone who could help me out for 10 minutes.

open flue

capped flue

It might look like a nice day up on that roof, but it was about 20 degrees with very high winds. And to add a level of urgency to the whole situation, it was supposed to start snowing later that day and with the cap off there was a direct 7 inch conduit from outside into my basement.

This flue was for the original furnace that has since been replaced. The only thing this flue is used for is for running cables (cat5 and coax) from the basement to the attic to get them into the upstairs bedrooms. Sometime in the near future I'm going to take this flue out (at least the part through the roof) and I'd like to install a hatch for roof access. My dad put one in his roof and it's very handy for things like cleaning gutters.

I'm happy with the way this turned out, and the fact that I didn't die on the roof, but I would have liked it if this happened at 8am rather than 3am keeping Rachelle up all night.


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