In early June I needed a new water heater, and fast. The old one was leaking from the tank and the water was seeping into the downstairs hallway and who knows where else, so Project Water Heater became a sudden priority.
I really wanted to buy a state-of-the-art, super high efficiency water heater, but found out they don't exist, at least for those of us who don't have natural gas. There were some very expensive "heat pump" electric water heaters but after some research it seemed those were prone to failure--adding electronics to the mix sometimes just means more to go wrong! So the sad fact was that the only reasonable choice was to purchase another water heater that was essentially the same (maybe even identical) to the one that had failed.
I'd never replaced a hot water heater myself. I didn't like the idea of soldering the copper pipes, so I decided I would just bite the bullet and get the heater installed professionally. We'd had decent luck with Home Depot in the past, so I called their 1-800 number and talked to a sales person sometime before 9:00 AM.
I purchased a nine year water heater and was told it would be installed that day.They gave me a total price over the phone of around $900, which seemed high, but I made the stupid mistake of not getting the details.
Of course the installer never called, never showed up...and the day got later. Around 3:00 PM I called and was told I was next on the list and the guy would call me soon. At 7:00 PM he called to say he would be there soon and around 8:00 PM he showed up.
First problem: it was a six year water heater, but I was charged for a nine year. The guy said I was getting an extended warranty, so I thought perhaps it wasn't a big deal. Besides, I needed hot water and it was getting late in the evening. He finished the install around 10:00 PM (getting past my bedtime!) and I signed for it. The job was not done particularly well (the soldering was ugly, the expansion tank was in a bad spot, the overflow pipe ran down the back so it would dump water on the wall) but I was tired. I asked for the invoice and warranty information; he said it would be mailed to me.
Two weeks later I had not gotten anything in the mail so I had to go down to the Hixson Home Depot and get a receipt. Here's what I found:
(1) I had paid $399 for a 9 year heater but got a $270 six year heater.
(2) I had been charged a $75 "restricted access fee" when in fact my water heater just sits against an open wall.
(3) I had been charged $60 for the extended warranty, which I had never agreed to buy.
The manager at Home Depot agreed to give me credit for all of the above but it really makes me wonder: with all the mistakes that were made, could this have been intentional?
Was I scammed by Home Depot?
Yesterday, my former boss (because I quit during the meeting, but don't worry, that was just one of my jobs) was questioning my credentials and asked me if I had ever created any web pages. Only since 1995, I told her. How could she not know that? But then I was looking at the google stats on my home, which showed five visits last month. Bloody hell, I'm sure I probably hit my own site four or five times myself, so it's entirely possible that not one person in the world (except me, of course) visited my site last month.
Meanwhile, my daughter has a YouTube video with (as of this morning) 37,315 views.
One of the benchmarks of my youth (okay, my early 40's) was riding the 14.6 "big loop" (officially known as Trail 301) at Fort Mountain State Park in northern Georgia. Actually, I had never ridden the entire loop in one day, but instead tended to take a shortcut by pushing my bike up the impossibly steep Trail 302 to get back to the campground. The 301 Loop is one of the rougher mountain bike trails around; in fact, on my first ride around it, I had declared the downhill section below the Firetower (where the trail goes pretty much straight downhill on loose dirt and rock along a powerline cut) to be "not rideable." On my second attempt, as Jerry Patten and I were struggling to walk our bikes down the slope, we were amazed to be passed by a couple of high-tech riders using newfangled hydraulic disc brakes.
A decade or so had gone by, the trails had surely weathered, and I was now riding a most excellent full suspension Gary Fisher 29er with (you guessed it) hydraulic brakes. How would I fare? I set out at 10:30 AM this past Saturday to find out, leaving the campground and proceeding up the paved road past the dam about a half mile until the 301 crossed. Right away, I hit rocks and a steep climb. Jeepers! I rode the downhill successfully, but my forearms were aching from riding those brakes.
I made almost halfway around to the point of the mountain before hitting the first hill that I absolutely could not ride up. Too steep and slippery! So much for a "clean" ride, but it didn't matter, because after I continued on past the 302 shortcut, intending to make the full loop, I started encountering (1) more impossible steep and rocky hills and (2) stinging nettle that forced me to walk so I could use the bike wheels to open a path in front of me. A decade ago, before we had experienced real mountain bike trails, we could put up with this stuff, but the lure of riding eroded double-track has faded. There are no doubt humans who could make the loop without pushing, but they will either be Olympic material or honest to God cyborgs.
Lots of pushing later, I arrived back in the campground drenched in sweat (despite fairly cool temperatures) after 3 hours and forty minutes. I was pretty much exhausted.
I took Sunday and Monday off but yesterday (Tuesday) I got up and ran my usual 3.5 mile route to White Oak Park and back in just under 29 minutes without ever breathing hard. It rained on me a bit, but not enough to get me wet.
Jeepers, I'm done with the 301.
Although I have had a personal website for over a decade now (see www.stationr.org), I have resisted the urge to blog--but what Internet hipster doesn't blog these days? Ha! So here I am.
I am a principal in the computer repair company PC Liferaft (www.pcliferaft.com) and currently working diligently to publish my guide to the trails of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee (www.hikelookout.org, currently under construction).