Monthly Archives: June 2007

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Apple iPhoneLet me start by saying that I’ve never been on the Apple side of the fence. And I’ve never considered hopping that fence either.

I was going to hold off on this post until Friday, to time it with the iPhone’s launch, but I didn’t really want to add to the ridiculous hype already slated for the release… so here’s my take on it a few days early.

As you may have guessed already, I’m not going to buy a $600 iPhone (ever), but I am interested in how the market will respond to the device. Apple’s marketing machine is second to none, with a great track record to prove it, so I’m sure they will sell millions of these overpriced gadgets, but this is the first time they’ve drifted into an already saturated market.

How will it do, facing huge, not to mention established, competition from Treo, RIM, HP, Motorola, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson, and Nokia? Not one of those companies will be pushed aside easily.

And, nearly all of those companies already offer a device that can and will do what the iPhone does, except they do it much better, have been for months, for half the price, and that can fit in the palm of your hand.

What is Apple bringing to the table that isn’t already commonplace? What is the hype?

With the iPod, Apple exploited the fact that the MP3 player market had no clear leader. Sadly, for the general public, there are MP3 players available at Walmart for under $30 that exceed what the iPod does… weird how an overpriced memory card with a jack for headphones became a cultural icon — but that’s Apple’s marketing at work.

So, really, what does the iPhone offer that the other phones don’t? The touchscreen interface seems to be what a lot of the buzz is about. Oooooooohhhhh…

In all honesty, the whole touch screen with gestures deal seems like more of a gimmick than anything super useful. And not to be gross, but unless the touchscreen is fingerprint-proof, you’ll also be carrying around a microfiber cloth to watch your movies in oil-free goodness. Just think how much oil from your skin will transfer when using it as a touch interface or from your ears during a call. Just being realistic.

Oddly enough, being a bit of a geek, I also find it peculiar that a phone manufactured by a computer company would create a cellphone that will not serve as a wireless modem for a laptop, err, iBook. Is Apple abandoning their computing roots in favor of re-inventing Sony WalkMans and Nintendo GameBoys? Apparently.

The 80’s Brick PhoneAnd look at the size of the thing?! It’s almost as big as my corded phone at home. It’s like people are getting excited again about those brick phones from the 1980’s. Start lugging that thing around, you know, to impress people. Anyone still carrying a boombox on their shoulder? You will be soon, it seems; if the Apple trend continues.

Technology is totally going backwards. A couple of years ago, people wanted a 60 inch plasma TV with a surround-sound system but now the goal is to watch a movie on your phone with tinny sound through cheap headphones… I don’t get it.

Am I strange in that all I really want my cellphone to do is make telephone calls? Sadly, the reception on every cell phone I’ve ever owned leaves something to be desired.

Maybe if the previously mentioned phone companies concentrated less on the gimmicks like ringtones and camera features, the phones would actually work like, well, the old corded phones. Now that’s a feature I’d like featured on my phone!

Can you hear me now?

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Saw this in the local paper this morning…

Beginning July 1, the State petroleum tax is set to rise 6.72 percent to 7.53 percent, adding an extra 2 cents per gallon.

What?

Fractions?  YIKES!Seriously, I’d venture that it would be an accurate statement to say that your typical American struggles with the whole concept behind fractions. Hey, fourth grade math was tough, right?

Further, percentages are like fractions. In fact, they *are* fractions. Let’s not kid around.

Now, one step even further, in this article, they reference a percentage of a percentage?! Do you think many of the readers (actually, do the general masses even read the paper or watch the news?) can get a good grip on that? I highly doubt it.

Maybe that’s why they dumb it down for the simpletons, aka the general masses, by tacking on the “2 cents per gallon” bit at the end. But it’s not that simple.

Saying $0.02 per gallon sounds like a flat tax — but it’s not.

Like I said last month when I commented on the price of gas, the tax is dependent on the price. It’s a percentage of the price. As the price rises, so too does the tax.

By August, this 6.72 percent tax increase will likely be nearing $0.04 per gallon.

Funny, too, how they never mention in the article how much, per gallon, you’re already paying for this State petroleum tax.

Some bimbo pumping gas and talking on the phone…  I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to do that.It is listed as a percentage, of course, on nifty stickers on every pump, but they don’t stick them front and center — you know, like a surgeon general warning on a pack of smokes.

Taking into account the federal taxes also built into the price of gas, if the public really understood where most of their payment is actually going and that gasoline really isn’t that expensive after all, well, it just might be time to break out the battering rams and catapults for a good old fashioned public uprising.

Shame that will never happen because so few care to read the sticker. And politicians don’t want to disrupt their easy, and somewhat hidden, income stream.

Makes sense… I guess?

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No, not a Robert Frost reflection today…

Something that’s been making it’s way around the PF Blogosphere since October is the list of “the 5 most expensive addictions“.

They are listed as:

Alcohol. Estimated annual cost: $166 billion. Binge drinking hits the unemployed harder on a per capita basis — 10.4%, vs. 8.4% of employed people. It is most prevalent in small metropolitan locales, rather than big cities or rural areas. The $18 billion spent on alcohol and drug treatment last year represented 1.3% of all health care spending.

Smoking. Estimated annual cost: $157 billion. The tab includes $75 billion in direct medical expenses, with the rest in lost productivity from ill patients missing work. Given the low-tax (or no-tax) underground cigarette economy on the Web and on Indian reservations, it’s unlikely that sales and usage have dropped much over the past decade, official government statistics notwithstanding.

Drugs. Estimated annual cost: $110 billion. Like alcohol, illicit drug use is more prevalent among the unemployed. Most addicts are also heavy drinkers, though only a small minority of alcoholics are drug abusers. Crystal meth has followed marijuana, cocaine and heroin as the drug of choice among the young set.

Overeating. Estimated annual cost: $107 billion. Overeating increases the risk of many health problems, including heart attacks. Obesity causes 14% of attacks suffered by males and 20% of those suffered by females, the National Institutes for Health says, and fewer than a third of adults get regular exercise. The bulk of the $107 billion is the direct cost to treat heart disease, osteoarthritis, hypertension, gall bladder disease and cancer.

Gambling. Estimated annual cost: $40 billion. Addicted gamblers often feel compelled to chase after bad bets with more money in the hope of winning back their losses. And some who catch the fever develop the need to periodically raise the betting stakes to keep the same thrill. Also, addicts often face job loss, bankruptcy and forced home sales, and they are at greater risk to commit crimes like forgery and embezzlement.

Now, I think the “annual cost” they list for each sin is bunk. They’re roping in the healthcare costs associated with these addictions. What would be more interesting would be to see the costs on a more personal level.

I dunno, like, if you smoke 4 packs of cigarettes per week, casually drink on weekends, eat out 3 times a week, snort a little blow now and then, and make an annual pilgrimage to Vegas, you’re throwing away such-and-such a number of dollars per year. You know, that type of thing, with a few different scenarios that readers might be able to relate to.

What struck me about the list was how they pointed out that the people that have these vices in their lives are stereotypically un-employed or low income folks. They’re kind of screwing themselves over two-fold. Living a dingy lifestyle with the job to prove it! Hooray for losers!!!

I hate it when, on some message boards (cough, MSN!, cough), someone comes along looking for advice on how to better themselves financially, and the ‘regulars’ all chime in and say, “get a better job!” in unison. I know from experience that that’s not always an option. And it’s a really obnoxious thing to tell someone.

But I will say, when you go to the grocery store, or really any retail outlet where the employee wage hovers around minimum wage, have you ever noticed that nearly every employee is a smoker? And many of them look hung over or, even worse, a little stoned? And the dead-to-the-world cashiers gossip about what happened at the bar last night while ringing you up? I know you’ve all been in that situation at your local Walmart.

Walmart EmployeeIt’s funny though, from my point of view — they don’t realize that their money problems, while they do relate to the job they hold, aren’t *really* due to the fact that they work at Walmart and make minimum wage. The real problem is the lifestyle they’ve chosen for themselves. And it’s not necessarily the costs of their addictions. Outside of their job, they’ve lined themselves up for low wage employment.

I started at $6/hour along side the typical low wage group. Difference was, I didn’t take smoke breaks because I didn’t smoke, I didn’t come to work drunk or smelling like a brewery, I didn’t go to have a few brews over the lunch hour, and I never came in with a black eye from the bar brawl I was in last night. Really, actual co-workers of mine did and continue to do these exact things regularly.

I took my life seriously — and as a result my wage increased. It didn’t take long for my employer to notice that I wasn’t like some of the zombie-losers around me. Sometimes I wish I could snap some of these people out of wasting their lives away.

I used to feel bad for them. I even tried to help a couple of them, but it’s a battle you have to want to win yourself. They thought they were happy and now they’re jealous… apparently having forgotten that we started in the same place. The difference, the only difference is that we chose different paths OUTSIDE of the office.

CigarettesAs for me, I don’t smoke. I tried smoking out once in 4th grade. I dabbled in it a bit in high school too, but it didn’t stick. Even then, the real “cool” kids weren’t smokers, just the mean kids that smoked in the bathroom. I didn’t want to hang with that crowd. I’d venture to guess that they staff the Walmart in my hometown now. Either way, if I had the urge to smoke now, the costs involved would sway me otherwise. My home state recently up’ed the sin tax on cigarettes to $2/pack. Adding that to the regular price, well, it’s like lighting dollar bills on fire every hour or so. No thanks.

AlcoholI don’t drink alcohol either. I’m not one of those people who thinks it’s wrong, or whatever, I just don’t really like the taste, or even the “buzz”, for that matter. I like who I am and how I am; no need to lower my own standards in the name of fun. I’m not really keen on feeling like crap afterwards either — it’s just not worth the so-called reward. And, like cigarettes, it’s really expensive. To think, we’ll shop at a different store to get Coca-Cola on sale, but even at full price, it costs $2-$3 less than a case of Budweiser… And I like to think I have better taste than that.

VicodinDrugs aren’t for me either. Like drinking, I don’t feel the need to change the way I am, even if it’s just temporary. I’ve also seen what they can do to people — and it makes you wonder why anyone would do drugs. Different strokes for different folks I guess… No clue on what the going rate is on whatever the trendy drug is these days, but I’d bet it’s safe to say that it’s not cheap.

Big TummyOvereating? Hmmm… I do tend to eat until I can hold no more. But I’m not overweight. To relate this one to my own habits, I guess we eat out a little bit more than we should — and that’s one of the few remaining things that we could work on to save more money. Thankfully we generally don’t go out to sit-down full-service type restaurants, so the bill rarely tops $20 for the both of us.

GamblingGambling…I guess I’ve always seen it for exactly what it is. It’s throwing money away. Giving my money away for the chance of *maybe* getting more back, with the odds against it, doesn’t sound like a good gamble. It also doesn’t sound like fun. It’s no wonder that when you see people plugging away at slot machines that they often have a drink in their free hand… Mixing the two, or three if you count the cigarette often dangling from their lip, is hardly a road to riches.

So I guess all I saying is that if you find yourself guilty of one, or more, of these “addictions”, well, being successful is going to be an even steeper hill to climb. Good luck with that.

As for me, I’m just thankful my hill is low grade… by design.

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As mentioned earlier in the year, I found out the hard way that insuring a newly purchased older home is near impossible.

Now that we’re in the final stretch for the exterior renovations, it’s time to start thinking about acquiring some conventional homeowners insurance.

Currently, my carrier is a state run plan, called a FAIR plan. Most states have them, and I’ll be the first to tell you, they’re anything but FAIR. The premium is generally double what you’d pay to an insurance company you’ve heard of, and you coverage is half what a real insurance company would carry.

Illinois’ FAIR Plan website looks to be one of the best in the country, so I’ll use their definition:

The FAIR (Fair Access to Insurance Requirements) Plan Association offers property insurance to qualified applicants who are unable to buy insurance through the standard insurance market for reasons beyond their control.

The FAIR Plan may be an answer for responsible property owners or homeowners who are having a problem obtaining property insurance in the standard market.

Many insureds use the FAIR Plan as a temporary market for a year or two until they qualify for coverage in the standard market.

It’s been nearly 5 years since Allstate cancelled my policy. Surfing the web, I’ve yet to find a “successful” journey from the depths of the FAIR plan. Seems once you’re categorized as high-risk, it’s damn near impossible to get normal coverage. I’m hoping I can blaze a new trail.

One thing I have read is that when an insurer cancels your policy, they must send you a letter explaining why they’ve cancelled you. Over the weekend, I peeked into the old filing cabinet in search of the old Allstate folder.

I was skeptical that I’d still have the letter. At the time, it was like a punch in the stomach. I’d just paid my first ever mortgage bill, I had no money left to my name, and now suddenly, I was about to let my insurance lapse before the second mortgage payment. I thought I’d likely thrown it out in anger.

To my surprise, there it was…an interesting read. It almost made me more angry seeing how trivial all of the ‘problems’ were. I kept thinking that they were nailing me on the electrical system, but in fact, there is no mention of that.

Here is what the letter listed:

  • The roof of the dwelling is damaged and lifting/buckled.
  • The soffits/fascia/eaves are damaged and needs paint.
  • The renovations are not completed.
  • The detached structure has dry rot, glass broken, trees overhanging and needs paint.
  • Your chimney is crumbling, separating, in need of tuckpointing.
  • The foundation of your dwelling or garage is crumbling.
  • The siding or frame exterior of your dwelling is damaged, has peeling paint.
  • One or more of the trees on your property poses a risk to your property because it is overhanging.
  • The windows of your dwelling or garage needs paint.

According to much of what I’ve read, technically, if I correct Allstate’s laundry list of problems above, they should take me back. That said, since they burned me so bad back then in 2002, they’re not exactly my first choice.

Cancellation Letter from Allstate.  I’d love to know why they didn’t even sign it.Oh, and Allstate is no longer issuing homeowners policies in my state because we’re apparently in a hot hurricane zone.

Um, yeah… One, Hurricane Gloria in 1985 — 22 YEARS AGO!? — and it was just a heavy rain, but whatever…

A little back story first… when Allstate sent out their inspector, I was having a cable line added to the second floor of the house so I could have cable internet in my home office. Being broke at the time, the cheapest route, rather than snaking it through the walls, was to have the electrician run the line in one of those PVC tubes up the side of the house.

Apparently, while the electrician, a fellow in his 70’s, was working on the side of the house, the Allstate inspector stopped by and asked to go inside the house. The electrician said, “No.” When I arrived home that evening, the electrician explained to me that he’d had a “run-in” with an aggressive insurance inspector trying to enter my home.

I thanked him for not letting the inspector in my home. I was never made aware that an inspector was coming by, and thinking about it, I never recall having an insurance inspector ever enter our home when I was living with my parents. I was thankful that the electrician hadn’t let some stranger in my home without me there.

Then the cancellation letter came and it all became clear. I’d guess that the insurance inspector thought the electrician was the homeowner and refused to allow him entry. Ticked off, he essentially checked off every box on his standard form, in an immature “I’ll show you!” act of rage.

Windows need paint? Um… they’re vinyl windows. At that time, they were only 2 years old. That aside, you don’t paint vinyl windows.

Renovations incomplete? Um, okay, the contractor was there working on them at the time you stopped by without notice.

Trees overhanging the home? This is New England. I challenge you to find a residential home within a 100 mile radius of my home that doesn’t have a tree limb near the structure.

Those boxes were checked out of spite. Pure spite.

The rest of them… I could call legitimate… at the time. Which is why I didn’t dispute the letter.

The roof was old. The roof was ugly. But you know what? It didn’t leak. But I still spent $14k replacing a roof that didn’t leak.

The chimney was crumbling…we had it removed entirely.

The foundation was crumbling…we had it repaired.

All of this business about needing paint and peeling paint — well, vinyl siding is taking care of that.

All of that aside though, it is a little troubling that your insurance company can essentially cancel your coverage because your house could use a new coat of paint.

I can understand the “crumbling” brick work being a bit of an insurance problem, and realistically, that is where their list should have begun and ended. And I would have taken care of that immediately, but to pile on all of the additional cosmetic issues seemed a little unjust.

Especially when they agreed to insure the home for the closing, and then cancelled the policy less than 30 days later.

Hopefully we’ll have normal insurance in the coming months…

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For the third weekend in a row (week 1 was the knob-and-tube removal, week 2 was the dryer vent and outdoor light installation), we made a trip to a big box hardware store with the intention of doing another project ourselves.

This week we went to Lowes and while headed for the paint aisle to browse, a display of light fixtures caught our eye. PULL-CHAIN LIGHT FIXTURES!!!

It’s almost impossible to find ceiling mount pull-chain fixtures anymore. Especially if you don’t want the “naked bulb” look.  Sure, that works just fine in a basement, garage, or attic, but it really looks like crap in your living space.

Upon closer inspection, they were the type that usually mounts to the bottom of a ceiling fan, but my wife’s limited Spanish skills came in super handy, “Poro ceiling-o install-o”, or something like that…

For whatever reason, this weekend, it seemed like everything had the Spanish side facing forward, but that’s a rant for another day.

Forty-nine dollars later, we were on our way home to replace the long-dead pull chain fixture in the center of the ceiling in our kitchen.

The original fixture was a horrible, slightly rusty circular thing, about 18 inches in diameter. The lighting consisted of two of those circular fluorescent bulbs — which provided great light when I purchased the house but it was UGLY. Rusty fixture, two naked tubes, and no place to mount a cover (because of the pull-chain placement) to hide how horrible it looked.

Over time, the fixture started to buzz like that annoying light we all have at the office. Then one of the bulbs would never turn on, even when I replaced it. Thankfully, it never flickered.

One ambitious weekend, I took the whole thing apart and replaced the ballast and it worked like a charm for about a month. Then the buzzing started up again. And then the pull chain snapped.

That was probably two years ago. Since then, we’ve made out with just a couple of old ratty lamps. The result? A dark, yucky kitchen.

We took down the old one and installed the new one. The instructions were very cryptic — sorta merging the “fan installation” and the “ceiling installation” into one very confusing mess. Turned the power back on, and voila! A bright kitchen!!!

It doesn’t hurt that the white balance is way off on the before photo…It was still ugly though. The old fixture had a HUGE hole in the ceiling above it where you could see the electrical box. We needed one of those big plastic cover plates to hide things — and mount the new fixture tightly against the ceiling.

A quick trip to Home Depot, $17, and another 15 minutes re-installing the light and we were done. It’s not ideal, but for around $60, it made our relic of a kitchen a lot more livable.

And that’s three consecutive weeks playing with electricity… without an injury! Woo-hoo!

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Morgan, a friend from my high school days, that I’d lost touch with, has a blog of his own with some great motivational content. I’m pretty sure we haven’t crossed paths since the day we graduated from high school. I don’t recall whether or not he attended the ten year reunion — I doubt it though as I’m sure I would have put forth an effort to catch up, if only for one evening.

I remember him as being a genuine type of guy. He wasn’t the greatest student, he wasn’t a star athlete, and not to pin a negative label him, or anything, but he was far from the “everything-comes-to-me-easily, homecoming king, captain of the football team with the head cheerleader on his arm” type.

But, even then, you could tell he was the type that would obviously be up for any challenge thrown his way. You had to respect that. He was going to be successful, no matter what. Of course, in high school, things like that weren’t really traits that gained you popularity.

Anyway, his main theme is thinking positively and working towards success as a goal. I can’t claim to have ever been a real positive thinker, but success has always been a goal, and sometimes motivation quotes just get the juices flowing.

From the looks of things, life is going great for him — and that too gets me excited to follow his lead.

Here’s quote he recently went over on his blog:

A definite purpose backed by a burning desire for its fulfillment.
A definite plan, expressed in continuous action.
A mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influences.
A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage [you] to follow through with both plan and purpose.
— Napoleon Hill

The goal, as he says, is to make these four steps habit. No matter what we do on a day-to-day basis, dealing with the humdrum of everyday life, we need to make sure that we have these four elements constantly working for us. We need to take the time to set them in motion and then help them pick up steam.

This same philosophy applies, I believe, to the four steps essential for success. There has to be constant and continuous effort to make the four steps part of the every day. They don’t work if you come back to them on the occasion of a burst of energy or epiphany. They need to be part of the fabric of your every day life.

Do not forget them in the din of the everyday – put them at the top of your list of daily activities. Water them and watch them grow in to the success you want.

I’ve no idea who this Napolean Hill fellow is, but I couldn’t agree more.

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Hillary, eh?Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton selected “You and I” by Celine Dion as her official campaign song. The ridiculousness of having an official campaign song aside, as a Canadian, it’s always kind of bothered me how un-American the most über-American things have become.

See, Celine Dion is a Canadian. A francophone, even. After 9-11, when all of the celebrities got together for that television special that ran on pretty much every channel, I thought it was sad that they closed the show with Celine Dion belting out the “Star Spangled Banner” with her thick French accent.

Yes, it was a good rendition, I’ll admit, and she’s got a great voice, but I think it would have been wiser, not to mention more appropriate, at the time to have an American singer belt it out with true meaning and feeling. Kinda like Whitney Houston before she became a crack addict. Celine can belt out “O Canada” with true feeling for sure, but she can only sing the US anthem.

Other songs in the running for Hillary’s official campaign song were: KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See; U2’s overused “Beautiful Day”, a Monkee’s remake of “I’m a Believer” by Smash Mouth; and Shania Twain’s “Rock This Country!”.

Okay, let’s see… KT Tunstall is from Scotland. She sounds like it too. The members of U2 hail from Ireland. They don’t even sound like Americans. Like Celine, Shania Twain is also Canadian.

Smashmouth is from California, and “I’m a Believer” was written by native New Yorker Neil Diamond (he recorded it first too), but it was the Monkees that made it a hit song. And it was England’s Davy Jones that made the Monkees popular. Yes, I know Micky Dolenz sang lead on that specific song, and he’s from California, but the whole band was openly a Beatles rip-off. And the Beatles were British. So, by a technicality, it still re-enforces my point.

It’s too bad for American politics that artists like Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar Mellencamp often take political sides and are very vocal about it. Or that someone like Billy Joel is such a notorious drunk that using something from his catalog might not be such a great idea.

I suppose the candidates could select a number of country tunes, but I can’t honestly name a single country song that doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth. That’s one of the reasons I’ll never drive a Chevy.

Anyway, it got me thinking… The members of Destiny’s Child are all homegrown Americans. Where was “Bootylicious”? Hillary could have used that. I’m not certain the country is ready for that jelly.

Ice-T is American too. Rap is an American genre. What about “Cop Killer”? Either may have made an interesting “outside the box” choice.

Just something to think about.

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Trex LogoYesterday, the contractor’s salesman team came by the house to measure the attic windows… though as I suspected, that was just an excuse to come over and collect the second $8000 check.

Being a bit of a talker, to put it mildly, Art (the main salesman) went on and on about nothing while repeating things we’ve heard over and over and over again.

I can’t tell you how many times, regarding the new doors we selected, Art’s mentioned that “the doors are a thousand dollars a piece”… Problem is, we looked at the exact same doors at our local Lowes and they’re both under $500 each — and that’s after the retail mark-up.

Same deal with the attic windows. “Oh, the circle top windows are $900 a piece…” C’mon… All hot air. I just nod my head. My wife on the other hand will probably call his bluff on the next round.

Later on in the evening, the owner of the business stopped over. There was likely some communication issue as he was also probably stopping by for the next check, but whatever.

It was nice to finally meet him — and he left a good impression. You can tell he’s not an aggressive salesman like Art, but he works it too.

Last night, he basically sold us on a new front porch. The pitch was, “you’re updating the whole look of the house, you may as well have the porch done to complete it.”

He’s right. But when he tries to sell us on a new back porch, well, we’ll stop him there.

What was cool was that he gave an estimate right there, on the spot. It wasn’t this needlessly long drawn out process, like it was the first night with Art and his son.

Another difference from the first night was that the number wasn’t staggering. Around $3000 for Trex and around $1500 for wood. I’d have to sleep on it.

Having never heard of “Trex“, I was leaning more towards wood, if not only because I’ve heard of wood, but because the current porch is made of wood and I’d guesstimate that it’s over 80 years old and it still holds up just fine — except for the one plank at the end.

After looking it up, and with a some valuable input from my wife, the idea of what Trex really is, set in. Yep, the synthetic stuff. Probably the wiser choice.

Compass Rose We checked out their website and, yeah, it looks really nice. That is, if your going to build a huge circular deck and have a compass rose built right in. Our house can’t quite pull that off.

We’re building a rectangle. Maybe 14 feet long and 5 feet wide. Where would the compass rose go? Anyway, they don’t really have a colour option that matches the house, and I think a great deal of the cost involved is due to the “finish” they put on the fake wood. We’d end up painting over it.

So, that puts us back to wood. While $1500 more really hurts, it’s not nearly as painful as another $3000 would be. And I have a feeling his estimates were for bare minimum style porches. I’d like to jazz it up some with some nice posts and railings. Going the Trex route, I’ve little doubt that I could put together a porch that would cost us in excess of $5k. That’s not an option.

Today, he’s dropping off a catalog of posts and railings. I think I know exactly the look I’m looking for and hopefully it’s in the catalog. Our original back porch, which was torn off in December and was likely original to the house, had the type of post I’d like in the front. There are few old houses in town that have the style too — basically a fancy square post. No round columns for me or anything that looks like an extra large interior banister.

Right now, though, I guess anything would be an improvement over the cheap piece-it-together wrought iron posts and railings we have now.

For the floor, and actual porch structure, my only hesitation on using wood is that “they don’t make ’em like they used to”. Our porch has a neat sound when you walk across it. I’ll miss that. The floor is like a hardwood floor — not in the looks department, but it’s put together in a tongue and groove fashion. It’s tight. No gaps between the boards. I like that. And you *never* see that on new construction.

For a back porch, where I’d call it a deck (are the words interchangeable?), that type of construction seems right, but for the front, I don’t know, I kind of want to keep the “authentic” look…even though the house is now covered in vinyl…

Decisions, decisions…

Can You Dig It?

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