Lorna Fencik’s Baby Registry

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Dave’s Ultimate Wireless Signal

Sometimes working from home and home improvement don’t mix.

Last week I was getting new interior doors hung, which was creating a lot of noise in the house.  I had to attend an important conference call where I needed to use my computer and my VOIP phone, which works through my iPad.  I tried sitting in my truck in the driveway, but the wireless signal just wasn’t strong enough.  My phone call was breaking up, and making me look unprofessional.  I eventually gave up and used my cellphone, eating up a good chunk of my minutes for the month, perhaps sending me into overage territory.

This frustrating failure of technology gave me exactly the justification I needed to purchase some fancy gadgets.  I purchased a Ubiquiti Nanostation Loco M5 and a Nanostation Loco M2.  They are both 802.11N outdoor wireless radio devices.  The M2 operates under the 2.4Ghz B/G/N spectrum and the M5 operates under the 5ghz A/N spectrum.

These devices are really neat.  They get their power over ethernet and are weather resistant.  They are high power and have high-gain antennas built in.  They also have a really nice configuration GUI.

Because my house has thick walls and aluminum siding, it’s difficult to find a location where the signal will be strong throughout the house and the yard.  I decided that on the roof facing down would work well.  The directional antennas shoot a nice cone-shaped beam that can penetrate the roof and ceiling.  Outdoors, we would typically be outside the cone of the beam, but a clear line of sight should enable a strong signal anyway.

I used a mast I had bought from Radio Shack with a mounting kit that attaches to the sewer vent.

I fashioned a couple L adapters using 8 inch pieces of 1″ PVC pipe and some tees.

The Nanostations are secured to the PVC using zip-ties.

I left some slack ethernet cable on the roof so that I can easily lower the antenna if I need to.  The wires are routed through a small hole I punched in the wall to the attic space.  Since they are close to the plumbing stack, fishing the wires down to the basement where the modem and router is was no problem.

The results are impressive!  I have an excellent signal throughout the house and property, even in the garage.  I also have my iPad on the separate 5Ghz band so that my other devices won’t interfere with my VOIP calls.

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David Fencik’s Easy Way to Save Money at Home Depot

Coupon clipping is a tedious task and the merits of this activity are debatable.  You waste a lot of time sifting through loads of products that you don’t want, and often don’t find a coupon for what you do want to buy.  I don’t do it.  Having recently bought my first home, a real fixer-upper, I have been spending lots of money on home improvement.  I’ve literally spent thousands of dollars, and the spending does not seem to be slowing down.

If I had a dime for every dollar I spent on home improvement…well, I guess I could.  I learned this technique almost by accident.  Here’s how:

Go to the official USPS change of address site.  Fill out the change of address form.  Use one of your old addresses and start forwarding immediately to your new address (you’ll have to pay a dollar to do this, which is a small price to pay when you consider how much you can save.)  After you’ve completed the form, you’ll be presented with a 10% coupon to Lowes, among others.  You can print the coupon immediately.  Make sure you print a bunch of copies.

OK, so now you have a bunch of coupons that’ll save you 10% at Lowes.  The problem is, you can only use one of them, because there’s a tracking number on the coupon.  Lowes keeps these numbers in a central database that’s linked to their computers.  If you try to use a copy of the coupon, it won’t work.

Here’s where the magic of competition comes in:  Home Depot, as Lowes’ competitor, does not have access to Lowes’ coupon database.  Home Depot will, however, honor the Lowes coupons.  So, having printed more than one copy of that coupon has allowed you to save 10% on a purchase at Lowes (perhaps a few cans of paint and a brush) and then another 10% at Home Depot (perhaps a new door and a welcome mat).

But it goes even further!  Home Depot, lacking access to Lowes’ coupon database, has no way of tracking how many times you’ve used the same Lowes coupon.  So, that same coupon can be used multiple times at Home Depot, in addition to the single use at Lowes.  I hope you printed a dozen copies!

Unfortunately, the coupons will expire in a couple months and Home Depot won’t accept an expired coupon.  There’s a fix for that:  go back to the USPS site and re-submit your change of address.  You’ll probably also receive a bunch of coupons in the mail, which you will be able to use at either store.  I suggest using any of the original coupons that are sent in the mail at Lowes and using the printed copies at Home Depot.  The two stores have different stock and you may find that one has a better selection of particular items.

Don’t forget to save your receipts.  When it’s time to sell your house, all the money you’ve spent on home improvement can be deducted from the profits to save you money on capital gains taxes.



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Man’s Best Friend

As I discussed earlier with Lorna, my lovely and beautiful wife, my first blog post will border on the edge of self-righteousness and plain old abrasiveness. It is a blog, isn’t it?

At about mile four of my six-mile run yesterday, I passed four women walking together with their dogs. They were walking single-file on the left of the path, each holding their dogs to their right. I was running on the right of the path, at about 8:00 minutes per mile, very much minding my own business. As I passed this odd group, the last woman’s Rottweiler lunged at me.

I have to admit, I almost peed in my pants (jogging shorts).

This dog was about 125 pounds of muscle and 5 pounds of teeth. If it wanted to, it could have easily taken my life, and that frightens me. I can’t figure out why this twenty-something year-old girl would bring such an unfriendly animal to a bustling county park on a beautiful Sunday morning.

I also just couldn’t get over the fact that my right to enjoy the park in safety was taken away.

I reached my turn around point and headed back, a little afraid of encountering that dog again. I had a few minutes to think about what to say to this girl when I passed her again, and it came out like this:

Do you think it’s fair that your dog should threaten me as I run past?


Do you think it’s fair that your dog should threaten me as I run past?


Then why is he doing it?

At this point, one of the girl’s accomplices approached me.

“Alright, you’ve said your piece, now keep on going.”

I’m not done yet.

“You better get the f$%^ out of here.”

What, are you threatening me now?

The rest of them, including the mean Rottweiler and his owner had continued walking. I shouted out to the Rottweiler’s owner, “I don’t want to see that dog in the park again!”

At this point, the confrontational interloper must have begun to understand that she wasn’t going to win her argument, so she said, “Why don’t you put some clothes on…cause you’re kinda ugly.”

Ugly or not, my looks can not kill.

I was glad I said something to this girl. It was also comforting that she knew she was wrong. I don’t think she’ll bring her dog back to the park again. But…I’m still looking for a better solution to this problem. Why did this even happen?

I started to consider what type of legislation might prevent such an occurrence. Breed-specific legislation? A weight limit? Lorna and I discussed this over lunch, and we eventually came up with a rule that all dogs above a certain weight should undergo obedience training and pass a test. If they fail the test, they’re not allowed in public places.

Then I did some research on this subject and came across this website. The author of this website reminded me that it’s not the animal’s fault that this happened, but the owner’s. Putting all dangerous dogs through obedience training wouldn’t be nearly as effective as requiring their owners to be educated on how to handle their dogs.  If that stupid girl had to endure a licensing process before being put in charge of caring for a deadly animal, she just might have chosen some other expensive indulgence instead.

I’m glad that someone else has thought of this problem and come up with a very good solution.  I’m going to do what I can to help further this along.

I have to make myself clear.  I love dogs.  When I encounter someone and their dog, I usually ignore the person and smile at the dog.  I don’t have any problem with people bringing their dogs to the park, and I also don’t mind if people have pitbulls, Rottweilers, shotguns, machetes, or whatever else they want to keep in their own homes.  I also don’t mind well-behaved dangerous dogs in public places.  I just cannot tolerate poorly behaved dangerous dogs in public places.  It is not fair that my right to enjoy the park can be taken away by some stupid person with a dangerous dog.

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