Home Repair

Living in an older house, things have a tendency to break, usually at the least opportune times.  Though I suppose that could be said for any home or apartment, usually when something breaks or needs repair, it’s not necessarily the most convenient thing.

On my return from work last evening, I lifted the garage door as I normally do, pulled the car in, and then exited to lower the door.  The door used to have a mechanical garage door opener when we first purchased the house, but over a few months it started to have issues, so I disconnected it and screwed in a handle on the outside and went to physically opening and closing the door when I needed to get the car in and out.  Several years ago I replaced almost all of the hinges on the door, and several of the glass panes in the door have been replaced over the years as well, but there have been no major repairs to the door since we bought the house.

Upon lowering the door, I heard a loud bang from inside the garage.  When I went to lift the door again, it wouldn’t budge.  It seemed to be stuck, or perhaps locked?  But that didn’t make sense as to how would the locking mechanism just suddenly trip and what was the noise that was made come from?  I went inside the garage to inspect and discovered that the cable on the right side leading to the spring had snapped.  Ah, broken spring.  That explained it.

Of course, the next problem was getting the now unbalanced and heavy door back up so I could get the car back out since Wednesday is a day of appointments.  Instead of dealing with it right then and there, I went inside to investigate if there was a local garage door repair-person since it was nearing 5 pm and usually businesses aren’t open past that point.  Since we live sort of off the beaten path, it’s not always easy finding someone to repair things of that nature and repair people can be a little finicky about coming out to places that they’re not overly familiar with.  And some charge for mileage.

Even so, I did manage to find someone that’s nearby, has mostly good reviews on both Google and Yelp so I will be calling to see what they can do, and hopefully not charge an arm and a leg for it, or try to upsell me on replacing the door entirely.  While the door is pretty old, so is the garage, so having a brand new door on an old rickety garage doesn’t make much sense to me.  Better to fix what’s borked, and continue on.

I called this morning, and they can come out, but none of the times they suggested meet with my ability to be here to supervise.  Friday is out as we have two other appointments, next week is pretty booked up, but Friday 2/7 seems to be available for now.  My wife doesn’t want workmen here when I’m not around, so we have to work on a very limited schedule in that regard.  So it seems the car will have to sit outside of the garage for about a week while this gets remedied in a time frame that meshes with our requirements.  At least it shouldn’t cost more than $200-300 for a repair like this.  I hope.

Old Neighbors

I grew up in a rural part of New York State.  At that time, there were some transplants from New York City (90 miles south) that had purchased houses and lived there on weekends and vacations, but certainly not the way that they have transformed the town in the intervening years since.  In my own neighborhood/cul-de-sac, there was at least one family that fit this description, as the house was not often occupied during the week, but came to life on the weekends and in the summer when school was out and the weather was much warmer.

The family had two children, but neither of them was educated locally.  Even so, the family was pretty subdued and didn’t make much of their present or past significance in show business.  There was a persistent rumor that the father did voiceover work in commercials (the one I remember vividly was that he was the voice of Starkist’s ‘Charlie the Tuna’ from television, [which I recently discovered turned out to be false]) and that he had acted in a soap opera or two in New York City.  As neighborhoods go, ours was pretty seemingly uninterested in things that were considered sensational so this information was left to rumor and innuendo and nothing much was ever made of it.

I have a small fixation with the neighborhood I grew up in, in that I keep tabs on the house and the surrounding area, even though we sold the property in 1992 and it’s gone through several owners since then.  I did visit the property two years ago with my birth mother, to show her where I grew up and for me it was a possibility of seeing the house where I spent 27 years living and supposedly maturing.  The current owners of the house weren’t amenable to us going through it, since the elderly father of the woman that owned it lived there with an aide, so we were relegated to walking the grounds outside. I was able to peek into the windows of a few of the rooms to see if much had changed, some things did, others haven’t.  But that isn’t the topic of this entry.

A couple of nights ago I was looking at Google Earth and thought to check out the street view of my neighborhood (if indeed it was available) and discovered a Google car had indeed made it to my cul-de-sac.  I just happened to be checking out some of the other properties and decided to look at the cluster of mailboxes near the intersection of two streets.  Lo and behold one of them looked strikingly familiar.  The family name of the ‘famous’ family was still on one of them!  It was the same size and shape that I remember, and the little brass and black stick on letters I’d remembered seeing there were still present, spelling out the last name.  So I was intrigued that perhaps they still owned the house and property.  Only a couple of the original residents of the area are still in their houses, all of the others have either died or moved elsewhere.

Doing a little Internet digging I discovered the tax records (they’re publicly available in case you were wondering) and sure enough the property is owned by their Limited Liability Corporation, but it has the family name attached to it all the same.  From that I discovered the father had died in 2015, but the mother still lived mainly in California, and apparently the son now lived in the house as he was apparently retired from his former work at CBS Sports (he was a producer).  There was a police blotter report from a couple years ago where the son was ticketed for DWI by the local yokels, and it listed his age.  From there I came upon the obituary of the father, and it listed his accomplishments and among them were his voiceover work, as well as acting in a soap opera from the 1950s.  A serial called Young Dr. Malone that apparently had started as a radio program but morphed into a television one when tv became the norm and housewives needed distraction during that era.

As it turned out, the rumors were partially true.  We had a somewhat celebrity living in our midst.  They were very nice people as I remember and didn’t make much of their celebrity.  Of course, we also had a millionaire living in our neighborhood, but that’s another story for another day.

 

The mechanics of sleep

I messaged my special one the other morning and commented about how I only managed about six hours of sleep that night.  In her return message, she observed that on nights that precede days off, I tend to get up earlier more often than not, I don’t necessarily get more sleep considering it is a day off, and if necessary, during the course of the day, I can get a nap in (and usually do, not always intentionally).  After thinking about it, I was forced to admit she’s right, that’s what seems to happen.  I may get up to use the bathroom in the morning of a day off, and since I don’t have to be on the go, or getting up to go to work, I can stay up if I wish and accomplish things if there’s a desire to do so, without being rushed.  An interesting observation to be sure.

Too, I’ve been using a CPAP machine for the past 20 years as well.  For a long time when I was working nights, I didn’t get very good sleep during the day, and I mostly attributed it to the fact that I was sleeping during the day and not at night as is considered to be normal.  With the invention and subsequent proliferation of electric, incandescent and fluorescent lights, the possibility of working more than two shifts in a workplace became more common.  Go back to the early years of the 20th century and you don’t find too many businesses able to afford three shifts, mainly because their workers would be in the dark, and if you can’t see what you’re doing, you’re not going to be very productive.

Sleep apnea hadn’t been an issue until fairly recently.  Certain situations and instances when I’d feel particularly tired after sleeping 8-10 hours became more and more common and there were times when my wife told me I’d stop breathing in the middle of the night for a few seconds.  Oxygen deprivation would never set in and I’d invariably turn over and begin breathing normally once more, so it never became a life threatning issue.  Even so, she suggested I speak to my GP about it and he had me scheduled for a sleep study in 1999.

Back then a sleep study was a more involved affair, these days it can be done in your home overnight unless there’s a dire need to do it the old-fashioned way.  Meaning having you to report to a dedicated sleep study lab, be wired up to the machines (as I recall it took a good 45 minutes for all the wiring to be attached to my body) and then attempt to get sleep around 11 at night.  Too, you weren’t allowed to sleep on your side, you had to sleep (or try) on your back, so that you didn’t pull out any of the wires, and the bed was damned uncomfortable.  And you had someone monitoring you all night long, in another room with a light on, albeit somewhat subdued.  The only thing I could equate it to was being in a hospital and being awoken at odd hours to get your BP taken.  Finally, you had to be sure not to have drunk too much beforehand, because you weren’t allowed to get up and go to the bathroom once you were wired to the machines.

Pretty much the most restless sleep I’d had in ages, that I could remember.  When the tech rousted me at 5:30 am and told me I could go, I apologized for not giving him a better reading.  He said it was fine, no one gets much sleep when wired up like a stereo, in an uncomfortable bed, pillows etc.  They get the most that they can and generally get enough in the last couple of hours moreso than in the first ones when the subject is trying to get comfortable.  He said I’d be notified in about a week as to what the results were, but he did mention I stopped breathing more than a couple of times while he was observing.  So he was pretty sure I had sleep apnea, he just couldn’t tell me how bad it was.

I vividly remember driving home from the hospital rather bleary after being dewired from the monitoring machines.  It was right around sunrise, and it was a cold morning.  I had a 30 mile drive home, since the hospital where the sleep study lab was at, was a good ways away from there.  I drove there, had breakfast and then went back to bed, for a nap, which was much more restful than the one I had just previously.  A few days later my doctor referred me to a ENT nearby who confirmed I did indeed have ‘obstructive sleep apnea’ and needed a CPAP machine.  The surgery was available as well, but the machine seemed (to him at least) the better (and cheaper) alternative.

The first machine I got was about the size of a bread box, and cost about $3000.  Fortunately, my insurance covered most of the cost, or else I would have been in Dutch.  It must have been constructed rather solidly as it managed to survive nearly 18 years.  I finally had to get a new one when the motor on the old one burned out.  In that time the provider of the machine actually went through two owners and it was the third that provided me with the unit that I’m using now.

The old one had a serial port for communication, the new one uses WIFI for its connections and communicating with the home base.  The new unit does have a SD card port, but I believe it was put in just as a failsafe in case the WIFI was down or inoperative, so there would be a hard copy of the results for an ENT or other medical person to pull.  In the three years I’ve had the machine, neither my ENT nor the people that provided it have been interested in what’s on the card.

Getting back to the start of this entry, my sleep for the most part with the CPAP is pretty good.  Last night (this entry has been several days in the making, surprise surprise) I slept a little over 9 hours, and when I awoke, I still felt tired.  Right now, about an hour after waking, I feel rested and pretty good.  I should be ok for the remainder of the day.  Most nights I get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep.  Certainly there are nights I don’t, for one reason or another.  But when I’m using the machine and mask, my sleep is FAR better than when I don’t.  Which is why I’m often cautioned by my special one to use it, as opposed to just sleeping on the couch downstairs.  Believe me, I’m trying.