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  • Dry rot — it loves me

    Posted on January 26th, 2007 Jeff Keller No comments

    It seems that every few months I stumble upon some part of my property that is suffering from dry rot. I’ve had it all: balconies, walls, trim, and stairs.
    Well, the dry rot monster struck again today. I was walking up the stairs outside my kitchen when I stepped onto the landing and heard a not-so-pleasant noise below me. It wasn’t the “creak” you’d normally hear from wood — it was the wood sliding up and down and rubbing against the retaining wall. My dad was over helping with another project so we popped up one of the boards and sure enough, the joists were rotting away.
    Looks like I just found my next house project — or rather, it found me.

  • Bonus kitten photo

    Posted on January 23rd, 2007 Jeff Keller No comments


    I didn’t take this one (my dad did) but it’s so darn cute that I had to share. I went and visited them again today — they’re a lot braver now than when they first arrived.

  • Prepare for the cuteness!

    Posted on January 21st, 2007 Jeff Keller 4 comments

    Meet Sammy and Oliver. These two four-month old kittens are new additions to the family. They don’t live with me, they live with my folks, but I’m sure I’ll be seeing them often. Their house has been eerily quiet since Pete died, and well, it’s not quiet anymore! These two are crazy, though it turns out that the shy one is wild and the wild one shy.

    Click the link for lots of photos of cute kittens!

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Earth to Congress: Ban television ads for prescription drugs

    Posted on January 17th, 2007 Jeff Keller 3 comments

    I’ve been more and more annoyed at the number of ads for prescription drugs during network TV lately. Today at the gym I decided to write a strongly worded letter (my specialty) to my Congressmen (women actually) asking them to put forth legislation to ban these ads. While watching the NBC Nightly News I saw probably a dozen ads for various prescription drugs. Cholesterol, blood pressure, restless leg syndrome, and more. Half of these drugs are just combinations of two drugs that probably just came off their patents, so the pharmaceutical company can keep raking it in. These adds send people to the doctor asking for expensive drugs they may not even need in the first place. Those pricey drugs drive up the cost of health care too — my Kaiser rates went up 30% this year. Lastly, what about safety? I seem to recall a certain pain reliever that was heavily advertised on TV that was pulled because it was giving people heart attacks.
    I know my letters won’t accomplish much, but hopefully enough people will write in to make a difference. This country is, unfortunately, ruled by big corporations, instead of the people.

  • This really chaps my hide

    Posted on January 17th, 2007 Jeff Keller 2 comments

    A small percentage of the people have a truly disgusting sense of entitlement. I haven’t reviewed anything since around December 22nd. I took some time off for the holidays and then Maui, and after I got back I’ve been working on printers and a camera review. But still, that doesn’t satisfy some people. Somebody complained the other day about the lack of reviews, and then today I got this gem:
    “Note to self: Quit checking DCRP cause ain’t nothing happening there in a long time. What’s up with the reviews?”
    I responded with something like “I apologize for having a personal life and taking a little time off”.
    What’s with people these days?

  • First day as a C-I-T

    Posted on January 13th, 2007 Jeff Keller 1 comment

    Today was my first day as an adoption counselor-in-training at the animal rescue place at which I volunteer. I have to do a lot of “shadowing” before I’m allowed to actually adopt cats to anyone, so today was basically “sit and listen” day. Unfortunately it was a slow day so there were only two “interviews” that I got to sit in on, but at least one of them had a happy ending (“Spam” got a new home). So, for the next few weeks I’ll be training, taking on more responsibility each time until I’m the one being shadowed. It definitely seems like a challenge, but at least it’s rewarding.
    In other job-related news, for some bizarre reason I got a postcard from Union Pacific advertising job openings in the area. Apparently they need switch engineers and brakemen (or something like that). I have no idea how I got on their list… maybe for spending so much time at the train station taking sample videos?

  • Toppled Tree

    Posted on January 11th, 2007 Jeff Keller 2 comments


    I was outside doing some yardwork with the cat when I noticed something very wrong at the top of the backyard. The gate to my little garden up there didn’t close all the way — and then I saw it. A tree in the neighbor’s yard behind me had snapped near the base and was leaning against my fence. The fence in that area was leaning at a 30 degree angle.
    After my shock wore off I drove up to the street above mine and knocked on the door of the offending house. The guy who lived there is pretty old (at least in his 70’s) but he knew why I was there as soon as I told him who I was. He said that they were trying to get a tree person out to cut the whole thing down, but weren’t having much luck. I told him that my fence was falling over and that we needed to do something soon. I said that I’d cut down what I could from my side and would get back to him if my fence didn’t pop back up. After an hour of playing with my chainsaw I ran out of daylight, so I have more work to do tomorrow before I know if getting the weight off the fence does any good. I’m sure this guy knows that he’s responsible for the bill of any repairs that may be needed.
    Friday night update: So this morning I managed to cut the tree back so it was no longer resting on the fence. Unfortunately that didn’t help matters, so the guy up the hill is going to have to fork out the dough to have it repaired. I’ve now got some photos of the whole thing, most of which are after the link. In the photo above you can see how much the fence is leaning — that gate doesn’t come close to shutting anymore.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Highway robbery

    Posted on January 4th, 2007 Jeff Keller 2 comments

    My car is once again due for service (every 5000 miles!) and after feeling ripped off at the local Lexus dealer, I decided to do some calling around. I asked the same question to each one: what do you charge for a 20,000 mile service for the RX400h?
    First up was Coliseum Lexus here in Oakland, where I’ve been taking the car thus far. Their price: $237 (!)
    Next was Lexus of Concord. The guy says “oh that’s just an oil change, tire rotation, and inspection” — $169.
    Finally I called Lexus of Serramonte, which I believe is where my friend Mark takes his car. The woman basically said the same thing as the guy from Concord, but told me it would only cost $54.95 for that service. I asked her again: this is for the 20k mile service, right? She said yes. I told her about the other dealers and then promptly made an appointment.