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Author: Alan

How to pick out an extension cord

How to pick out an extension cord

Don’t buy the cheapest extension cord you can find. Here is a good explanation of what you should look for (from ChainSawJournal):

Typically, outdoor extension cords will have a number on the packaging or in the listing that looks like this: 12/3. The “12” represents the gauge wire rating (or wire diameter), and the “3” means it has three wires (or conductors) inside. Sometimes the wire gauge might be referred to in a more formal manner, such as, the American Wire Gauge (AWG). The AWG system has been used since 1857.

Whoever came up with gauge ratings made things very confusing for the average consumer. The lower the gauge number the thicker the conducting wire(s) inside the extension cord and thus the greater flow of electricity. A wire’s thickness directly affects the amount of current (or amps) it can carry. Choosing a slightly lower gauge (thicker wires) will ensure electricity flows freely through the outdoor extension cord.

So, you’re better off with a slightly smaller gauge (thicker wire, greater electricity flow) than a slightly larger gauge (thinner wire, less electricity). If you’ve ever had an outdoor extension cord that feels hot, it’s because the conducting wire inside was too thin (high gauge) and electricity couldn’t flow freely due to resistance from an inadequate wire that couldn’t handle the full current for your chainsaw, or other power tool or device.

Important points to follow

  • Only buy an outdoor extension cord with the UL symbol (or the recognized symbol from the country you live in). This indicates that the cord has been tested by Underwriters Laboratories and has received their official stamp of approval.
  • Exposure to outdoor conditions can cause cords to deteriorate over time, so store your extension cords inside when you’re not using them.
  • Only use extension cords marked “For Outdoor Use”. It should have a “W” designation. Quality outdoor extension cords have connectors molded onto them to prevent moisture from seeping in, and outer coatings that are designed to withstand damage from being dragged along the ground.
  • Buy only the length you need. The shorter the better.
  • Never plug an extension cord into another to extend your reach. Just use one.
  • Never use a damaged cord. Whether it’s frayed, cut, or flattened. Toss it out and buy a new one.
  • Keep the cord away from any moving parts of your power tool, including, chains, blades and anything else that spins, rotates or cuts.
  • Always unplug an extension cord when not in use. The cord continues to conduct electricity while plugged in, which makes it a safety hazard if kids or pets chew on the cord or stick sharp metal objects into the exposed end. Serious injury could occur and it’s easily avoidable. Just unplug and store indoors
Internet in our new 3 story home

Internet in our new 3 story home

Decided to cut the chord a few weeks ago and go with YouTube TV. Have been pretty happy with the result. Monthly Spectrum Internet (200mb) is about $75 with taxes and fees. No discount with no other bundled service.

Our new home in Dripping Springs is 3 stories. Ground floor, upstairs and built-out basement. I was worried about Internet in the basement where I’ll be a 100% remote worker starting in April.

Decided to buy the Google Nest Wifi Mesh Router and 2 Add-On Points for $349. It may be the best decision I’ve made. Comes with speaker and Google Assistant in each node.

I’ve been seeing some of the fastest WiFi Connection speeds I’ve ever experienced. Here is a download/upload test from my basement. Upper 180 is common (speedtest.net):

Using Wifi Analyzer on my phone, this is the signal strength I am seeing:

To put the -40 value into perspective, this post explains signal strengths this way:

Wireless signal strength is measured in dBm (decibel milliwatts) and is, somewhat confusingly, expressed only as negative values.

So what should we consider a good, acceptable, or poor Wi-Fi signal strength?

Signal StrengthExpected QualityRequired For
-30 dBmMaximum signal strength, you are probably standing right next to the access point.
-50 dBmAnything down to this level can be considered excellent signal strength.
-60 dBmGood, reliable signal strength.
-67 dBmReliable signal strength.The minimum for any service depending on a reliable connection and signal strength, such as voice over Wi-Fi and non-HD video streaming.
-70 dBmNot a strong signal.Light browsing and email.
-80 dBmUnreliable signal strength, will not suffice for most services.Connecting to the network.
-90 dBmThe chances of even connecting are very low at this level.

Needless to day, my Internet service is rocking!

Our new home in Dripping Springs

Our new home in Dripping Springs

Moved in to our new home this weekend in Dripping Springs.

This is the view from our bedroom Saturday morning. It was drizzly and a family of 7 deer came to eat in our backyard.

Here is the front of the house:

XBOX Night Revisited

XBOX Night Revisited

Business Card for David to pass out to his friends

From 2006 to 2010 on the first Friday of every month, we hosted XBOX Night at the Kleymeyer’s. I created a wordpress blog to document the night: http://xboxnight.wordpress.com, which is still live as of today.

I have imported it onto my domain and you can view it HERE

You can download a PDF of all posts HERE

How NOT to have a conversation

How NOT to have a conversation

Conversations involve TWO parties. Ideally they should contribute equally. Unfortunately, that’s not how many go and most people probably won’t recognize themselves in this post.

Nicholas Cole describes it best in his Medium article Relationships Fail Because Most People Have Conversations Like This (PDF)

In Summary:

It’s so simple. When you’re with someone, ask them questions and actually listen

Supporting your kids’ choice of college.

Supporting your kids’ choice of college.

Four years ago, I blogged: I Don’t Care Where My Children Go To College. I was making the point that we should support our children’s choices even if we feel they fall short of their potential, or what WE think they should reach for.

Today, I update my stance by adding, I WOULD care where they went to college, if I felt it was an unnecessary extravagance. MELODY WARNICK makes a great point about the choice to attend a prestigious and expensive college, when more affordable and worthy options exist, in her Slate article I Killed My Teenager’s Fancy College Dreams. You Should, Too. Some excerpts:

Why are we parents so loath to set financial limits on our kids’ college ambitions? Maybe because it seems crass to bring money into their reach-for-the-stars dreams. Maybe because we cling to the hope of generous scholarships and lavish financial aid packages that will make our money worries moot. Maybe because we deeply believe the destiny of smart teenagers is to attend their dream school, and ours is to finance it. To do otherwise is to fail at middle-class parenting.

On the other hand, saying no is part of my job as a parent. Hasn’t it been my role all along to steer my kid toward smarter but seemingly less desirable choices? Carrots instead of Kit Kats, an early bedtime instead of an all-night YouTube binge? Children naturally hate those kinds of limits. They may temporarily hate us. But they’re too young and myopic to see how this one decision could make their lives harder for a long, long time. We can.

Eventually, our prolonged brainwashing attempts seemed to succeed with Ella. She started talking about how reluctant she was to go into debt for college, like it had been her idea all along. She even thanked us for being upfront about the financial consequences of college. This fall she applied to exactly two universities, in the Venn diagram overlap between “schools we can pay for” and “schools where she actually wants to go.” They’re not art schools, but both have stellar art programs. Her guidance counselor, whose only focus is getting in and not paying up, thinks she’s crazy to limit her options like that, but we’re thrilled that the highest tuition at either is around $16,000. Not chump change, but probably doable.


David’s 2019 Jeep Cherokee

David’s 2019 Jeep Cherokee

Last one to get a new car. We traded in David’s 2011 Nissan Altima (117k miles) for a new 2019 Jeep Cherokee. That makes 3 white cars and 2 black cars in the family. Jane and I wanted to give all of our kids a head start in life with no school debt and not worrying about their car when they start out their lives after college.