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November 16, 2009

Car inspection

   Took my future car to get an inspection today, and it did quite well.  I found the shop on-line as a AAA certified shop.  They had a big checklist that included everything from breaks to cabin heater temperature output.  All they found was a strange problem with the automatic locks on the right side of the car, said they recommended I get the transmission fluid flushed, and that the car needed a new set of tires--which the owners also told me.  The vibration they were sure was the result of the tires as everything else looked good. 
   One reason I really wanted an independent inspection was the check for flood damage.  Last summer, Cedar Rapids and much of the area around it suffered a major flood.  A 2004 car is old enough to have been through Hurricane Katrina as well.  Buying a flood damaged car is bad news, and although I read about the signs to look for, I don't feel qualified to make that kind of assessment.
   So, I have committed to purchasing the car.  We plan to meet at the bank tomorrow to take care of payment and releasing the lean.

1 comment has been made.

From Erica

November 24, 2009 at 9:33 PM

   Today I went to look at the first car I would actually consider buying.  I found someone on Craig's List selling a 2004 Toyota Corolla.  After exchanging e-mails, I went to look at it this afternoon, and it looks good.  What I like is that this was a family car, and the only reason they are getting rid of it is because the family is getting too big.
   My roommate James came along and was the keeper of the checklist.  I had done my homework, so now it was time to put what I found to practice and I'm glad I did.  Among the tests was getting the vehicle to highway/interstate speed and checking for vibration.  Interstate 380 was very close so I used this for my test.  The speed limit is 70 MPH, and that's a good trial speed.  I did notice vibration in the steering wheel.  And I had also noticed the driver's side front tire was very thin on tread.  My research told me that vibration was mostly due to the wheels not being properly balanced, but could also be a sign of worse problems.  This gave me a reason to make a request for a full vehicle inspection, which the seller had no problem with.
   After test driving the car, one of the first things I did was get a vehicle history report.  It cost $35 for unlimited searching at the site I used, but it wasn't much more then a single search.  I found the car started it's life as a rental.  At first I was skeptical, but figured it had been several years since it was a rental.  If anyone had been mean to it as a rental, the problems have probably already surfaced.  The owners of the car didn't know it had been a rental.  The sales person only told them it had one other owner.  But the rest of the report was clean.  These reports don't catch everything, but it's a nice show stopper if they do find something.

Pictures are my roommates Jennifer and James in my freshly painted basement living area.
   One issue I have had with my sleep quarter designs from the beginning is heating.  Even in the winter I need to ventilate my box or the moisture builds up and everything becomes damp.  Running the ventilation fan, even on low, keeps cold air moving across my face.  This seems to result is having a stuffy nose by morning.  I've tried using a small ceramic space heater to keep the box warm.  They tend to be a little loud and get very hot.  The concentrated heat concerns me in a small space filled with fabric and made of wood.  So, I would normally just run the space heater long enough to pre-heat the box and then leave it off.
   My new sleeping quarters is quite large, and the other day while walking in my favorite home repair store I got an idea.  They made oil filled heaters that resemble radiators.  In my experience, they don't get extremely hot since they spread the heat over a large area.  I use to work with one under a bench and I'd lay my legs over it while it was on.  It was warm, but not too hot.  My box is large enough, I figured I should be able to set one inside.
   The air flow in my Cedar Rapids box is reversed--air is pushed in the back and exits out the front.  The primary reason I decided to use this setup had to do with the ease of connecting the exhaust fan with this air flow.  Unlike previous boxes, the exhaust fan sits outside the box, which cuts down on the fan noise I hear.  In fact, with this setup and the fan on low, I can't hear it at all.
   I purchased an oil heater and tried my setup a couple of days ago.  The heater sits about 6" above floor level, right by the exhaust fan (which is pumping air in).  I set the heater on low (it uses 500 watts on low) and had a pleasant sleep.  The first night I didn't notice much.  But the second night I turned up the thermostat just a bit more.  In the morning, I felt warm and comfortable.  When I opened the box to get out, I noticed how much colder it was outside than in.  Clearly, the heater was being useful.
   The area around the heater is not with in the heater specs, which says to keep it 3 feet from walls and ceilings.  However, none of the area around the heater was much (if any) higher then ambient temperature.  I think this system may work out--and I like things that work :)
   Here is the refrigerator we picked up yesterday.  I bought some appliance paint, stripper and some gloves so we can clean this guy up.  I tried repainting the stove at the Garage once, and the results were impressive.  I couldn't believe how good it turned out--the stove looked brand new when I was done.  So I'm going to try my hand at this refrigerator.
   We found a free refrigerator on Craig's List yesterday and went to go pick it up today.  It's not much to look at, but the price was right.  It will be nice to have milk again in the morning.
   Pictured is the north west wall of the basement.  There is where the dryer use to be located.  You can see the breaker box on the left and the only power outlet in the basement on the right.  The yellow extension cord plugged into the outlet powers my bench area.  It is a 100' heavy-duty 12-gage cord, and will have no trouble giving me all the power I need.
   As you can see, I don't have much to work with here in my new basement.  But you'd be surprised what can be done.  I think Tyson though I was crazy to move into his basement in Kansas City, but after he was my finished setup I think he understood.  So here I am at the beginning again.


   Companies with the most ridiculous policies.  In order to get natural gas turned on at the new house, I had to jump through all the hoops the the gas company. I'm use to giving out my social security number for everything but social security. They also wanted my drivers licenses number as well. And then they said their computers could not verify my social security number and that I would need to come into their offices in person to show an ID. Naturally, the building is located on the south west side of town, and I work in the north east.Then there is the water company. They just required me to come to the office and show ID, as well as put down a $50 deposit because I am a renter. This time I didn't have to go to the south side of town--just wait in the lobby until some over worked rep could get time to see me.The cable company who I use for Internet wants me to be at the house for the installer so I can sign something. Since I can't, they want a photocopy of my ID with written permission for my roommate to sign for it, and he also needs a photo ID.I guess when you are a monopoly and there is no one else that can provide your services, you can get away with whatever sign-up policies you want. Who cares if the customer has a real job? He can't go anywhere else. $50 deposit doesn't effect me much, but for some people, that is a sizable portion of their weekly income. On top of that, they probably just shelled out first month's rent and deposit. I'm not sure what hoops the power company would have made me jump through if I hadn't already been a customer for the past 13 years.
    Busy day today. Since the incident with the deer, finding a replacement vehicle seems in order. I started the day doing research at work. The new place doesn't yet have Internet. After educating myself on used cars, and making a list of all the dealers in the area, it was off to view the inventory. I took a lot of notes on what I saw.
   Then it was back to the house to take care of moving into my basement. This basement is completely unfinished. It has leaky walls and a damp smell. Some work was in order if I was to make this my new living space.
I've needed a better Shopvac for a long time. The one at the Garage upset me since I bought it. Despite being called a Shopvac and having a large hose port, the hose was quickly reduced to a small hose and wasn't good for the kind of messes one desires to clean with a Shopvac. So I went to my favorite home improvement store and selected a replacement. This device is much better. It took some time, but I got my corner of the basement cleaned out.
   I also picked up a dehumidifier. It has been running none stop trying to suck years of moisture out of old wood, but it is noticeably dryer down here.
   Moving down the wood for my work space was a bit tricky. The stairs to the basement are at a strange angle and the ceiling is low. However, with just the right angle, it is possible to get a piece of 4x8' plywood down the stairs