Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Roughing It

Is this really camping? All the luxuries of a five star hotel and an exotic sports car feels more like an episode out of a James Bond movie. We brought the TR-8 over to our camp site so I could take photos of it for an eBay listing. Once again driving the car was enough to make me hesitate and do nothing about selling it. The roar of the aluminum V8 and the road hugging feel of a race car can't help but put a smile on my face every time I drive it. The TR-8 turned 30 years old this year; and with only 15,000 original miles, it is one of the best in the country!
Greg and Jenny came up from Philadelphia this past weekend to attend a wedding here in Connecticut. I grabbed this snapshot of the handsome couple as they headed out the door.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Email Scam

Selling items on eBay and Craig's List generates a lot of email for me every day. While most of the emails are legitimate questions or offers for items I'm selling I also get emails that are scams and sales pitches. This morning I received a new email scam that is pretty clever. On Craig's list the first email I receive about an item generally asks whether the item is still available. If it is, I reply with a simple "yes" answer. After my reply this is what was in the next email response I got this morning:

"Thank you for getting back with me terry

I'm very interested in this but before I buy it I need to know if its
the same one I'm looking for because I can't afford another mistake
Please check out this video here I uploaded


If its the same one I will be there today to buy it

Many thanks"

I was suspicious about this email right from the get go. It was from a woman inquiring about a clay pigeon thrower for trap shooting. Well maybe she was shopping for a gift for her husband, right? If you click on the link she provided you are redirected to a media player. This is the catch! The media player prompts you to download the latest version so you can watch the video. Of course whatever you download probably includes spy ware of something worse you don't want on your hard drive. What makes this scam so clever is that we are all used to updating the media players we use all the time. Another clever ploy is the way my name is used in the email. Scams are usually more generic than this one. The clincher is her almost irresistible statement "I will be there today to buy it". This is just too good to be true. No one on Craig's List is ever anxious to buy anything without haggling a bit first.

The internet is a lot like the wild, wild west. Lots of freedom and opportunity but be aware of the outlaws and predators.

P.S. I scrambled the characters in the link above so it no longer works.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Punch List

Until we met with a couple Realtors this past weekend we thought we were making pretty good progress on our punch list. Though the Realtors were pleasantly surprised by our house they still had their own laundry list of improvements they'd like to see before showing it. Their suggestions were mostly related to painting and landscaping but will still involve many, many hours of more work.

The wall paneling, hall bookcase and mantel were finally finished last week. Twelve custom molding profiles were utilized to create this unique design.

The new marble and tile bath has been 95% finished for some time now. Still, the last few details seem to take the most time.

This 3' diameter circular window has been waiting for an extension jamb for 15 years! So, after 6 hours of work it's built and installed. Now all I have to do is make the circular casing which should take another 4 or 5 hours. Nothing is easy.

After working on the house for 10 hours Saturday and 5 on Sunday we had had enough. It was time to get away from the punch list and get in touch with our dream. Sunday afternoon we decided to set up the RV and spend the night. We had a few things to check off here but they seemed easy compared to the long list back at the house. We got the new sun screen installed on the windshield as you can see a bit of in the photo. It was cold enough that both furnaces ran all night but it was cozy inside.

I got to try out our new stainless steel grill which I am very pleased with. It rang true to the 5 positive reviews it received on Camping World.

Monday, May 3, 2010

When to change your oil?

If I were to post the question of how often to change your oil I would no doubt get 100 different answers. Most owners’ manuals state something like every 6,000 miles or 6 months; whichever comes first. That said, the proverbial little old lady who drives her car once a week back and forth to the liquor store should change her oil even though she has only driven 1,000 miles in 6 months time. But why; does something happen to the oil while it is sitting in the oil pan? When I owned a motor boat with an inboard V8 engine I had the oil changed in September when the boat was winterized. Then 6-8 months later, I put the boat in the water and began running the motor. Although this is more or less a standard maintenance practice for boats in cold climates it seems to contradict the mileage vs. time oil change interval recommended by the auto manufacturers. Does the oil in your oil pan deteriorate, accumulate moisture or break down over time? How is oil sitting on a shelf in the original container different from oil sitting in an oil pan? These questions came to mind while I was trying to decide if I should change the oil in the motorhome. The oil was changed one year ago and has less than 1500 miles on it. With the motorhome requiring about 25 quarts of oil at a cost of more than $200 for an oil change I didn’t want to guess about changing my oil. After a bit of research I discovered the concept of having your engine oil tested. This involves taking a small sample from your engine and having it tested at a lab. The lab will send you a report indicating your oil properties and the elements found in your oil. They also provide their opinion on the overall operating condition of your engine. The cost for this is $32.50. Bottom line: my oil was as good as new and they recommend I run it for 7,000 miles more before testing again. They also said my engine was in excellent condition. But what if I had gotten bad news, like fuel in the oil? An oil report can also alert you to a problem so it can be corrected. What about really bad news? Maybe it’s time to buy an extended warranty or think about trading it in?

Oil report for our Caterpillar diesel engine. Click to enlarge

A hand pump is used to withdrawal an oil sample out the dipstick tube. The sample bottle screws right onto the pump.