The chief strength of all-in-one tools is their versatility.  And the chief weakness of all-in-one tools is also their versatility.  In order to squeeze in those extra features, typically something has to give, be it size, price, or customization.  Therefore, when judging a multi-featured tool, the essential question is whether the convenience outweighs the compromises. […]


Problem Solver: Powerline Networking

by Josh on January 12, 2010 · 4 comments

in Ideas

What’s a technology-loving old-house aficionado to do? The builders of my house 87 years ago just couldn’t anticipate the internet, digital media, or a resident houseblogger.  To meet my need for distributed digital resources, I could run cat-5 cable through the house or set up a wi-fi network, but I recently discovered another option: powerline […]


Even more than the cost comparison I just featured, a common calculation of the value of insulation is the length of time it will take for energy cost savings to pay back the cost of improving the insulation and weather-sealing.  Unlike many other home improvement projects, investment in insulation and energy efficiency should eventually pay […]


Foam Insulation Cost Analysis

by Josh on September 30, 2009 · 11 comments

in Ideas,Projects

My last post about getting insulation-ready prompted a question about the cost of insulation.  But simply posting the price I paid isn’t very useful to a reader.  I wanted to offer a response in a way that got away from the specifics of my project and that could be useful for comparison.  A fair price […]


Antique Buffet At Last

by Josh on September 16, 2009 · 18 comments

in Dining Room,Ideas,Journal

It has been almost two months since my last update and there is a lot to catch up on.  But one of the most exciting developments is also the most recent: I finally found a buffet for the dining room. Whether there was originally a built-in buffet in the dining room, I haven’t been able […]


A Better Detector

by Josh on July 17, 2009 · 7 comments

in Ideas

Admit it.  When is the last time you changed your smoke detectors?  Not  just changed the batteries, but actually replaced the detectors themselves? As part of my electrical upgrades, I had several new Kidde smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed.  Although these new ceiling warts look about the same as the detectors we’ve all seen […]


Getting Back To Reality

by Josh on June 9, 2009 · 5 comments

in Bedroom,Ideas,Projects

Reality.  We can waste a lot of time and energy trying to avoid it, but eventually, unfailingly, reality catches up with us. So what’s the reality that I’ve been trying to avoid?  Simply this: my upstairs bedroom project will not be finished by the end of the summer if I insist on doing the work […]


It used to be that the only way to make an antique toilet use less water was to put a brick or two in the tank.  It’s a nice idea, but sometimes the old toilets don’t work as well with a smaller flush volume than they were designed for.  And if you have to flush […]


Local Events Roundup

by Josh on April 24, 2009 · 4 comments

in Ideas,Journal

For my readers in the Twin Cities area, there are a number of excellent events coming up over the next few weekends that deserve your consideration. Minneapolis & St. Paul Home Tour Saturday, April 25, 2009, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sunday, April 26, 2009, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Free This event showcasing urban living […]


The Closet That Never Was

by Josh on April 23, 2009 · 5 comments

in Bedroom,Ideas,Projects

With the framing work in the south upstairs bedroom complete, I have turned my attention to clearing debris and preparing for electical work.   Recently I cleared the fiberglass batts and blown cellulose from an area just off the living space that looks like it was designed to be a closet.  I already knew the […]