This is something I’ve been planning for years, finally figured I’d get Frank to do it since I’m not getting around to it myself.

15mm black irrigation pipe, on brackets, running all the way down the side of the house and around the corner. Once I add microjets, I’ll be able to water the whole stretch at the turn of a tap. Ain’t technology awesome?


Two kittens

… and one house, slightly wrecked.


In South Africa, we call Victorian iron fretwork “Broekie Lace“. I have no idea why.

Anyway, we found this lamp post outside Brad & Lynn’s house. He didn’t want it (he has plans involving security cameras), so plans were made, mostly involving a chisel and a rather large hammer.


Back home, some more plans were made, this time involving an angle grinder, and a somewhat smaller hammer and chisel.

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Does the number 374788 mean anything to anybody when it comes to cast iron fretwork?

Wire brushed and painted.

(yea, crappy photo. Difficult with the light and on-camera micro-flash).

The 12mm plank at the top is level. The brickwork definitely isn’t. Once all the woodwork is in I’ll fill the gap and paint it and you won’t know it’s there… I hope.

2010-11-08: Edit to add another pic.

A while ago I speculated wildly about the cost of heating a jacuzzi. Since then, I got hold of an hour meter and fitted it, so I now know exactly how long the element is on for.

Turned the jacuzzi on on Friday evening, with the water at 10 degrees. On Saturday evening the temperature was at 46 (! — I modified the thermostat a little and my setting was obviously off) with the hour meter reading 12.17 hours. Since the element is a 4kW unit, that’s 48.68 kWh, which costs around R50 these days.

My original calculations worked out to about 28 kWh, but it did not factor in heat loss — i.e.  the energy to heat the water, not to keep it warm.

Well, the hour meter reports that the element was on for six hours from Saturday evening to Sunday afternoon (a period of 19 hours), keeping the water at 40 degrees and the cats happy (they discovered they can lie on the cover, their own hot-water bed). This work out(roughly) to 30 kWh (or R30) per day.

Bottom line: a jacuzzi loses a lot of heat to radiation, and it’s cheaper to turn it on as needed than to leave it on all the time.

When I started this blog, it was all about the house.

Well, things have moved on, and while the house still needs lots of attention, I’ve also started blogging about guns and cars and computers.

I figured that this is not fair to readers, so I spent a little time figuring out how to exclude some posts from going there.

Turns out it’s dead simple. Changing the RSS feed to,-56 excludes categories 6 and 56, being “Guns” and “Cars” (I left the “Geek” for Laura-Jane).

So if you’re running WordPress, and you don’t want the wrath of Aaron… :-)


Via houseblogs, I found Pecan Place.

What an absolutely gorgeous house.

And they like old radios too! And clocks!

And wOOOOt look at this doorknob!



These are the invoices for most of the stuff I bought for the first year of renovating the house. Of course I don’t have invoices for the labour. I stuck it all in a spreadsheet and *gasp* threw the originals away (I *never* throw anything away).

It represents about R 230 000 I spent between April 2008  and April 2009. Amazing how a hundred here and a thousand there can add up to real money.


With the cable in place, next up was the main switch, a Gigabit Ethernet switch in Tanya’s room.


I made this panel with, from left to right — the alarm box, power supply for alarm, GE switch + power supply brick, and three RJ-45 boxes (feeding the two kids’ rooms and the man cave).


I had to make a couple of short patch cables to run between the switch and the network boxes.

So now we’re rid of the patch cable that ran across the driveway, but I still have to install a power point and a network point in each of the kids’ rooms. And I have to install the rest of the alarm system, of course.


A while ago, I got my Malawians to install a piece of gutter drain pipe from the roof of the main house, down the wall, under the path, and up into the (free standing) garage roof.

I finally got around to putting some cabling into this pipe.


Three lengths of CAT-5, one 4-conductor telephone line, one eight conductor bundle for the alarm system, and a piece of five core trailer wire for one day when I want to put some of the lights in the house on a 12V UPS type system.


I had to cut a hole halfway and pull the wire through in stages — too much friction around the corners. (Don’t mind Tanya’s pet plastic bag blowing in the wind).

Now to wire up the network points on both sides, so we can get rid of the patch cable going out the garage window, across the driveway, and into Tanya’s room.


So there I was, pottering around home yesterday morning, and suddenly the lights go out. And the bleating of the UPS reaches my ear. Some inspection shows that the fridge is still working, Tamsyn is still happily playing on her computer, and all the trip switches including the big ones in the box outside are happy.

Further inspection shows that we have one phase of the three phase circuit, and even further inspection shows some very dodgy looking wiring on the pole side of the feed.


So Tanya gets instructions to phone council and I bugger off to work.

Long story short, at 1800 it was starting to get dark inside the house, and we still had only the one phase.

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Battleshort!  I disconnected the two dead phases, and shorted all three phases together on “my” side of the mains breaker (which is the bottom of the bottom left switch in the first picture, but I did it at the input side of the breaker that feeds the garage, just because it was more convenient.

So around quarter past eight, just as I’ve put the bread in the oven [1], the crew pitches.


Of course, they had to cut all power to fix the feed, and when they reconnected the power everything now hanging off the one phase was cold, so that tripped the outside breaker, which lead to the quickest removal of a kludge you can think of (figured I had to remove all evidence of my meddling before they came inside to look why the lights were not burning…)

[1] We had friends over, and I make Pioneer Woman‘s Marlboro Man’s Birthday Dinner (well, the pan fried steak with blue cheese sauce, crash hot potatoes, and buttered rosemary rolls part of it). With store-bought dough in my black pot, Porterhouse steaks from Constantia Pick & Pay, and lemme tellya, that blue cheese sauce is something else.

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