In continuing my tv watching and catching up on the news from the last year, I see that Verizon has been doing lots of ads about network speeds and comparing them to AT&T.  And I found out that AT&T rates lowest on consumer satisfaction surveys, etc.  My brother said he has never heard of anyone who is happy with AT&T...

Since I am the first one he has heard of, I figured I should write about it.  We've had AT&T cell phone service for the last eight years, starting with a prepaid phone ($8/month minimum).  When they doubled the monthly minimum, we switched to a $20/month plan, with maybe 4 hours of minutes.  Once I started my company and the CDMA phones were discontinued in favor of the GSM phones, I was forced to upgrade to $35/month, and more minutes than I could use.  I am still basically on that plan, though it was changed to include rollover minutes a year ago.  Two years ago, I added a second data-only device, and I use it while on the road, and at various places where there isn't wireless, or where people have forgotten their WEP/WPA passwords. (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on December 29, 2009, 1:37 pm | Read 4609 times | Comments (6)
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Since I am in the category of people who is expected to see my health insurance double or triple, I wonder why people are spending so much on their health insurance.  I do see that since we are "poor", we'll likely get free or heavily discounted health insurance under Obama's plan.  It seems silly to me that you all should pay for my health insurance, but since that is the American way, I won't turn down taking your money.  (though I would vote against these silly bills - even if I was offered money for my state -- too bad the legislators sell out so easily; though they now know the right way to get more money for their state - publicly declare that you are waffling on the issue, and let it slip that if only there was $100 million in the bill for you, you might change your mind). (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on December 28, 2009, 11:09 am | Read 14624 times | Comments (18)
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Note: most links in the article are links to our pictures of the wood

As I've mentioned previously, we really like our woodstove, and since we've used the gas less than I thought, I decided to get some more wood, and so I found a guy on Craigslist, who had a decent price for delivering, and stacking, so we bought it, and it arrived today.

In the process of looking for that, I found a guy who cut up an old stump for someone, and he cut and split into large pieces, and then I cut and split it so it would fit in our woodstove.  The tree was a black locust, which turns out to be the hardest wood I've ever seen, and is near the top of the list for hardest known wood.  What that means is that it feels like a rock: when lifting it, splitting it, and when burning it. The picture shows the wood collected from the stump - it must have been the biggest stump I've ever seen - I estimate that there is about 28 cubic feet, around 1/4 of a cord, which is pretty good for an old stump.

But, I got the larger pieces of the stump split and cut (note the safety goggles when chainsawing in the picture...)  And when we burn it, it doesn't really light at first, but then tiny little pieces burn for hours.  The other day I tried to start a fire with tiny kindling pieces of locust, and one larger piece of cherry.  It took forever to get started, and the only reason it finally started was the large cherry piece caught, and then lit the kindling.  The kindling lasted for much longer than the log.  I am hopeful that now that we have locust, our fires will be able to make it through the night, as the cherry only burns strong for four hours, and then has a couple of hours of low burning, on its way out.

The wood we got today is approximately a third locust, a third maple, and a third elm, with some cherry as well.  The maple is softest we've had, so I am probably not going to like that as much.  And they tell me that elm makes lots of cresote, even though it is a hard wood - I haven't looked that up yet, but that doesn't sound good.  They also said the elm burns hotter than most woods.  The maple is supposed to light the easiest, so if we can keep track of which is which, maybe we can simply use the maple for starting fires, the elm for having nice hot fires during the day, and the locust at night.

The firewood guys were the first people that were surprised how little wood we've burned so far (under a cord); they said most people they knew were close to their second by now.  We do use a little gas sometimes, so that might make up for some of it, and since our stove is smaller, it probably takes us a longer time to burn the same amount of wood.  One guy guessed that we had good insulation, but this is the second house (two for two) that doesn't have any insulation to speak of.

They had a good price for stacking, so I got them to do that too (I helped too) and it is nice having four people stacking together - the 2+ cords we got this morning was off the truck and stacked in less than two hours.  And the final result:

In other wood news, we bought a gate that surrounds the woodstove, designed to keep babies away from it.  While all of our kids are careful with the woodstove (I think I'm the only one who has been burned (while putting logs into the stove)) when we had some friends over, the boys were rough-housing and were kind of close, and the mom was pretty concerned about it, and then a cheap/used gate came along, so we bought it, and my concerns (sticking out into the room too much and being a pain when adding wood) about it were unfounded.

Posted by Jon Daley on December 19, 2009, 2:44 pm | Read 19707 times | Comments (19)
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Noah has added a syllable to his pronunciation of Jonathan's name: "Ah-huh"

12/11 and following - My aunt gave us some plastic prisms and we have had a lot of fun playing with them in the kitchen (which is the sunniest room in our house.)  The rainbows come out quite nicely and the all the kids love to touch them and play with them. (More)

Posted by Heather Daley on December 17, 2009, 3:46 pm | Read 6219 times | Comments (4)
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So, any bets on whether I'm missing something?  I've just finished our 2009 taxes, tentatively, since we'll have a bit more income and expenses, and I didn't add in a couple other numbers that will be easier to calculate later.  But, thanks to all the new credits, we have a refund due, and we haven't even paid our 4th quarter estimate yet!

And, we're looking at a new record - under two hours to figure out the taxes.

Posted by Jon Daley on December 14, 2009, 6:45 pm | Read 2499 times | Comments (0)
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I mentioned our new wood stove previously, and asked some of you for recommendations, but never got around to writing about it here.  We've had it for a couple months, and it has been great!  We ended up buying an Englander 13-NCI. I don't remember what the 13 stands for, but 12 is the smallest size I've seen.  The "NC" means it doesn't have a catalytic converter, and the "I" means an insert, as opposed to a free standing stove.  (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on December 8, 2009, 5:45 pm | Read 86480 times | Comments (1)
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Last year, we were the only people on our street without outside Christmas decorations, and most neighbors had nice decorations, and so I wanted to not be the dark house on the street, so we looked around for something appropriate.  (no animated Santas, etc.)  Though, I did see this picture after deciding what we were going to get.Funny picture of (presumably untrue) story about one guy's decorations.

I could be up for that, and we have a good commuting road that would be ideal for it.  (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on December 8, 2009, 5:31 pm | Read 5923 times | Comments (2)
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We have had the joy of testing out various mouse trap products over the last year with varying degrees of success.

Our goals are, in priority order:

  1. Get rid of the mice from inside our house, or at least from inside our silverware drawers
  2. Protect the kids' fingers from getting smashed by the traps
  3. Easy to maintain
  4. Humane (mousane?) removal

 (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on December 8, 2009, 5:14 pm | Read 51450 times | Comments (4)
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11/7 - Noah discovered the two cube puzzle that has pictures of six different vehicles and plays the sound of each when the puzzle is completed.  He was having trouble with it, which seemed strange to me at this age.  He kept getting the wrong sounds playing.  I told him to match up the pictures and it would work.  After a while, I took my attention off of Faith to watch Noah and see what the trouble was.  He was matching the pieces face to face instead of next to each other! (More)

Posted by Heather Daley on December 2, 2009, 2:34 pm | Read 2981 times | Comments (2)
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I'll start with most recent and then go to my pocket notes.  Jonathan and Faith both had well child checkups yesterday.  As much as it seems like it would be easier to have two checkups together, it really isn't.  I'll go back to scheduling them separately.  It wasn't too bad, but a bit hectic and it took a long time. (More)

Posted by Heather Daley on December 2, 2009, 12:29 pm | Read 8890 times | Comments (4)
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