What’s up?

(If you’re reading this on Facebook Notes, consider clicking through to the original post so you can see the links, since it doesn’t seem to translate them.)

Geez, you will be sorry you asked.

…and I thought I’d have time to write this post this weekend, about what’s been going on in my life, but I didn’t. Maybe I’ll have time at some point to go over some things in more detail, but in the meantime here’s a bullet list of as much as I remember at the moment (trying to do this in mostly chronological order, so some threads of events will be woven together).

Now that I’ve written this I realize it is in pretty fine detail and I won’t go into more, it’s just not in a very nice format. Here you go, masochists. Abandon all hope, ye who continue to read:

  • New baby. She’s 10 weeks old now, and still going to bed very late, though she is finally starting to sleep longer at a stretch.
  • The house is and has been a disaster area since the baby was born (we had been planning to clean up that weekend, thinking she would come on Monday rather than Friday, and have not had a chance since).
  • Bugs are getting into our house but we don’t really want to do any exterminator stuff with the baby in the house.
  • Our A/C stopped working pretty much immediately when I went back to work. When it was getting to 103°F outside (or maybe its failure was just apparent because of the outside temperature). Then it got hotter.
  • Keisha hasn’t been getting enough sleep since I’ve been back at work.
  • First American Home Buyers Fraud Protection (our home warranty company) sent someone out to look at the A/C (Pro Air LLC), who (after a cursory inspection) said it needed to be cleaned for $750 which the warranty wouldn’t cover.
  • We kicked him out of the house. He left the coil box open (we found this out, and that it was a bad thing, later).
  • We got SEARS to come out and look at it for free. They said the whole thing needed replacing (it was made in 1974). The guy also took pictures of the outside unit to show his buddies at work for kicks. The estimate: $7850+tax we don’t have.
  • Keisha found positive references on MamaSource.com for the owner of a small A/C company called Micron. He was an engineer for Lennox for years before deciding to start his own business so he could be more hands-on. Great guy.
  • After hearing about our case he told us that he was too busy to look at it, and wouldn’t want to anyway until the we got the warranty company to send out a second opinion, just so they couldn’t claim he did something to it.
  • The warranty company refused to send out a second opinion because they already had one which was favorable to them.
  • We called the guy at Micron back and he was outraged. Despite the fact that he was too busy, he made time to come and look at it on a Friday (like I said, great guy).
  • He checked everything out, closed the coil box, and even tested it. It had no freon and was also running at 5 SEER. The minimum SEER of any A/C you can purchase in the US is 13. He agreed that the thing needed to be completely replaced.
  • His estimate: $5800 we don’t have.
  • He was going to write his findings in a letter for us to send to the warranty company, but ended up being too busy to get around to it.
  • I called the bank, and found out that I don’t have enough equity in my home to get a home equity loan. Apparently in Texas your mortgage + home equity loans cannot exceed 90% (I think it’s 90%; this was a while back) of the value of your home.
  • I was also rejected for a general consumer loan.
  • I installed a ceiling fan in the master bedroom (one of the only rooms in the house which didn’t have one).
  • Despite that, we were forced to stay in hotels (thank you, William Shatner–Name Your Own Price® got us great deals) for a week.
  • Keisha called a company which advertised a $50 “cooling tune-up” several times, but they never responded or answered the phone.
  • We got another company, Standard Renewable Energy (they mostly do solar panels but are apparently now branching out into A/C work) to come out and do a $99 “cooling tune-up” they were advertising.
  • They said they were pretty much morally obligated to make sure the unit is never turned on again for safety reasons.
  • The guy pointed out that the little bits of rust on the furnace can get in the holes and clog them up, causing a buildup of pressure that can lead to an explosion. Which would go directly into our hallway because that is where the unit is. He also pointed out several other problems.
  • He had to charge us the $99 but couldn’t do anything about it other than give us the invoice with his findings written down.
  • We faxed that to the warranty company after my wife ripped them a new one on the phone (a manager, after hearing what she said their findings had been, said there was “no danger” if we didn’t turn the unit on. Never mind that we had a newborn and it was in excess of 103°F outside every day at the time), and they did end up letting us get a second opinion (with a different company even, which they had said before that they wouldn’t allow).
  • A friend from work (Steve Mazzucco) offered to let us stay at his apartment. We were happy to not be paying for hotels.
  • We went to visit Keisha’s grandma and ended up being pretty antisocial, sleeping most of the day we were there because we got in so late and Chloe kept us up later.
  • The second contractor for the warranty company (JS Wynne Mechanical) were predictably asshats, as well. Initially the guy said he didn’t need to do anything to it, not even clean it.
  • By that time we had filed complaints against both the warranty company and the first contractor with the Better Business Bureau. We also had piqued the interest of a local news reporter.
  • He eventually relented and agreed to replace the furnace and the coil (but not the outside unit). He also put freon in the unit so that hopefully we could stay at home until it leaked out. It was obvious that he was reluctant to do anything because there is some system of incentives going on to get the warranty company’s contractors and their technicians to claim there is nothing that can be/needs to be done under the warranty.
  • We got to go back home. Of course, since we’d been in hotels with king-size beds, and staying at Steve’s apartment (when he wasn’t using it, so we got to use his king size bed), we had gotten used to having Chloe in the bed with us. So now we were sleeping on our (nice, but queen size) bed with a baby in the middle, leaving us both not much space.
  • The wireless adapter for our Xbox 360 was failing. We had no Xbox Live for the time being, but I didn’t have the time or energy to deal with it (I barely had time and energy to play games at all).
  • We went back to visit Keisha’s grandma again the next weekend (it’s a 3 hour drive), this time with Carly (my step-daughter; she had been staying with her dad for most of this).
  • When we got into the city we were all hungry, and Keisha wanted to eat at On the Border but with the crazy construction in the area we didn’t find it and ended up stopping at a place called Ta Molly’s Mexican Restaurant (On the Border was just a little further down, we found out shortly after we left).
  • Chloe was hungry also, so I had her on my lap and was about to give her a bottle when the food came. The waiter put down the plate in front of me, hanging slightly off the edge of the table, and she startled; her hand flew out and her finger touched the edge of the plate. She cried loudly but we didn’t know where she had touched it or how bad it was (burns can take a while to really show).
  • When we got to Keisha’s grandma’s we saw the blister on Chloe’s finger; it was a second-degree burn. We immediately went back to the restaurant to demand a refund and a copy of the incident report, and were given contact info for their corporate office. The incident report we were told we would have by the time we left town on Sunday, since the manager hadn’t written it up yet.
  • We found the closest hospital and took Chloe to the emergency room to get her burn treated.
  • The Sunday when we were about to leave, we found out the manager of the restaurant had been told by their corporate office not to give us a copy of the incident report, and that we had to get it from them. We at least got a terse letter stating that he couldn’t give us any information about it.
  • Audrey, apparently the only decent human being working at the warranty company, was now handling our case, and authorized us to be refunded for the hotel stays and the money we spent to get Standard Renewable Energy to look at it.
  • The A/C, now working (because of the freon; nothing had actually been fixed), started leaking. Water came up under the carpet in the master bedroom and the flooring in the hallway. We put towels down to soak up as much as we could.
  • Despite Audrey, the warranty company refused to authorize the furnace being replaced; now they were only going to replace the coil.
  • The warranty company doesn’t cover costs associated with bringing things up to code, apparently; the total cost to us would be $680.
  • JS Wynne Mechanical claimed not to have us down for the appointment they set up to install the coil, despite having confirmed it with both us and the warranty company. Audrey helped make sure they actually came out to do it when they were supposed to.
  • Our AT&T DSL started disconnecting every 10 minutes or so. I called tech support and after going through the crap with the guy in India (though their American accents are improving dramatically; it took me a few sentences to figure out he wasn’t American), he forwarded it to the technician team.
  • The automated call came a few minutes later telling me there didn’t seem to be anything wrong but I could press 0 to talk to someone about it if I was still having problems. I did. The guy on the phone could see that it had disconnected over a hundred times in the last couple days, and scheduled a technician to come look at it.
  • The technician came out and saw that the outside line was fine, came in and replaced the crappy Motorola 2210 modem with one of their new 2Wire ones, which doubles as a wireless router. Apparently because of the crappy modem we’d been getting about 30% of the speed we were supposed to.
  • That didn’t turn out to fix the disconnects, though, and I called them again and had to talk to another guy in India, and eventually got another technician to come out. He couldn’t figure out what was wrong but tried as many tricks as he could think of, and said to call if it didn’t work (without, of course, giving us a number to skip the guys in India).
  • It seems to have worked for the most part; disconnects are now much more rare. The Xbox 360 wireless adapter was even able to get a decent connection to it after he messed with the 2Wire, though it would still disconnect now and then because the adapter was failing.
  • The technician from JS Wynne Mechanical came out and did his thing, only he just did a fraction of the stuff he was gonna do to bring things up to code (he didn’t want to go through the sheet rock to replace the lines from the outside unit), so it ended up costing us $150 instead of $680.
  • He said if it kept leaking then the drain line was clogged and to call him back because they’d have to send out a plumber to snake the pipe.
  • It kept leaking. I called back. We got a plumber to snake the pipe. Because we were working with Audrey, the only decent person at the warranty company, we were able to get a plumber who didn’t suck.
  • The plumber saw the damage to the floors and offered to call in a company they work with to repair water damage, Dry Force.
  • They came and took out the damaged flooring (all the laminate in the hallway, padding under the carpets in the bedrooms), and put big fans and a dehumidifier in, running for a few days straight to get the water out.
  • I ordered this to be the new wireless adapter for the 360. It was cheaper than the official one (which hadn’t lasted all that long) and worked fine once I configured it. Note for people who end up buying it: as I found out from one of the reviews on Amazon, you have to manually set your IP to something in its range to configure it because by default it gives you an IP that it won’t allow to access the admin page.
  • Water damage isn’t covered by the warranty. For that we had to call our insurance company.
  • The laminate flooring in the hallway was ruined as were the carpets in all the bedrooms. We have to pay the deductible on the insurance ($1360) and lose our 10% discount on the premium for not having made any claims.
  • We will also have to move everything out of all the rooms one by one to get the carpet replaced. And apparently the carpet in the rooms before was bottom-of-the-line (though the padding was nice; Keisha doesn’t think they’re giving us enough for it), so if we want anything better than that we have to pay more to upgrade.
  • Allstate was 150,000 times easier to deal with than First American, except the lowball estimate for the carpet from the company they sent it to for assessment.
  • The mother of one of Keisha’s best friends passed away. She went to the funeral recently (the week before last, I think?).
  • Credit cards are sending us notices that they’re upping interest rates on the already sizable debt we’ve accrued living on just my salary. And if we don’t let them, we have to cancel the cards, and forfeit all rewards we may have earned.
  • On Saturday, while I was playing the demo of Secret of Monkey Island, the Xbox 360 got the red ring of death. It outlasted the extended warranty by about 40 days. They’re charging $100 to repair it.
  • I had a couple phone interviews with Amazon.com, but they decided not to continue the process. No explanation, just a statement that their policy is to not share feedback on interviews.

I think that’s about it. In the face of all this, I feel like things in my life are moving in the right direction. Perhaps I’m insane. I think the post I actually write out and give more time and energy to should be the one about that: why, after all this, I feel so optimistic. A lot can be attributed to A New Earth.

2 thoughts on “What’s up?”

  1. Sorry about the Amazon deal, that’s always frustrating to deal with, as are the large number of other frustrating events that have happened over the past few months. I’m glad Chloe is doing well, and give Keisha a good scalp massage, that might help with the sleeping some. We need to get together sometime and play some games or something. For the ring of death issue, I know I heard about a guy that will repair 360s real cheap, or swap out yours for a refurbished one pretty cheap. I can get you more information if you want.

  2. Meh, I already set up the repair and I’m sure the $100 has already been charged. Thanks, though. They do say that after the repair it renews the warranty for some period though (I think the same period as what you get on the original warranty, not sure). Doesn’t really help, since I think they’ve solved the issues in the hardware which cause the RROD now anyway and will send the new version of the hardware. But hey, it’s an excuse for thinking that $100 isn’t completely wasted.

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