catherineldf: (Default)
[personal profile] catherineldf
Starting with State of the Catherine: I'm stressed out and rather anxious, but other than that, mostly okay. In between my day job, and Jana's teaching load and my Queen of Swords Press work and writing, we squeezed in a trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Art's Egypt's Sunken Cities show on Friday night. This was quite impressive and has some lovely pieces in it, as well as a lot interesting information about the Egyptian pantheon, crossovers with the Greek pantheon and related info. Saturday was a whirlwind of errands and sundry Queen of Swords Press tasks, followed by going to Theatre Unbound's annual 24 hour play festival, the X-Treme Smackdown. TU is our local women's theater and the smackdown features plays written, rehearsed and staged in 24 hours; it's generally a lot of fun and this was no exception. It was also rather poignant in that I brought a good friend who has been diagnosed with ALS and who generally goes to a lot of theater with me. It's not clear how much longer we'll be able to do that, but I'm hoping the day that ends is a long way off. Also, ALS sucks sharp rocks.

Also last night, my friend, playwright Anne Bertram, Theatre Unbound's Artistic Director, has decided to retire from that role after 19 seasons. I'm hoping that gives her more time to write some more amazing plays like "The Good Fight," "Murderess" and "Frankenstein Incarnate." But I will miss her smiling face at the box office.

Friday's other big event was a visit from a representative from the company we will be hiring to replace our furnace later on this year. In our 100 year old house, this will involve ripping out the ancient octopus furnace, including asbestos abatement and building the new furnace inside our basement. We will also need new piping run up through the bathroom (losing our bathroom storage cabinet in the process) in order to heat the attic. The attic will then require some swift contracting work on the insulation and the windows before winter. In return for the mayhem this will cause (we were Marie Kondoing our possessions before everyone else got on the bandwagon, the basement is Jana's studio, the cats and I may have to go hotel it for a few days, etc.), we get a much more energy-efficient furnace that will also replace our window unit air conditioner. And we'll have better control over the humidity in the house. And we can stop living in fear that our ancient furnace will conk out in the middle of Minnesota winter. The price ticket? Adding in the additional attic insulation work, which we don't have a firm estimate on yet, this will run around $25k. Which is so many zeros. And which we would need by April or so. Hence what follows. We've got a start on saving toward this rather vast amount of money, but I want to make sure that we're not in desperate Go Fund Me territory or huge amounts of debt at the end of this so expect more marketing-related posts and blasts for my writing, Queen of Swords Press, Jana's work, our classes and so forth. I'll try not to be super obnoxious about it.

Queen of Swords Press - if I could get the press to the point where I was selling an average of 40 books a week, it would be much less of a drain on the exchequer and would be pretty close to self-sustaining. I've got to come close to this goal this year or changes will have to be made, just saying. Boosts are appreciated too! Our books are available:
  • Direct from the Press website
  • Smashwords/B&N/Amazon, etc. here and here and here
  • Bella Books
  • Indiebound - your local independent bookstore can order our books in!
  • Libraries - ebooks available via Overdrive, print directly from Queen of Swords or via Ingram Spark. Most public libraries will order our books in if you request them, just saying.
  • Various international outlets too!
I'll be teaching classes online in March and April through the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers.
Miscellaneous other stuff: I have a Ko_fi account and a Curious Fictions account. You can pledge or do one-time donations.

Jana: Your support and enthusiasm for our various projects, all of which are done alongside our regular jobs, is much appreciated!

Date: 2019-01-13 10:08 pm (UTC)
brithistorian: (Default)
From: [personal profile] brithistorian
Good luck with the furnace project - I bet it makes the house a lot more livable! (Not to mention the added peace of mind!)

Egypt's Sunken Cities is an awesome exhibit - one of my professors arranged for the curator to give a tour of it, which made it even more awesome. A number of items in the exhibit (I don't know precisely which ones) are outside of Egypt for the first time.

Date: 2019-01-14 04:40 pm (UTC)
brithistorian: (Default)
From: [personal profile] brithistorian
The Guillermo Del Toro exhibit was excellent. I somehow missed the China exhibit, but everyone I've talked to or read reviews from about it has been pretty down on it.

Voice o' Doom

Date: 2019-01-14 02:05 am (UTC)
lsanderson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lsanderson
Not to be the voice o' doom, but check (or get in writing) what amount of air they can get to your attic with the modifications they're presenting. I find they oversell their ability to move hot and cold air. Are they putting in a cold air return? Also, if they're heating the basement, make sure they put in cold air returns and floor height registers. They like to just cut them into the runs in the ceiling which is just no good.

Ideally, you'd zone the house, basement, main floor, second and/or attic, but we generally don't do that in retrofits because it costs real money. It may be more effective to just put in supplemental electric heat and move your window A/C units to the attic.

I did the octopus to high-efficiency furnace about 15 years ago, and you'll wonder what happened to your gas bill. If I did it again, I'd be much more careful about registers and cold air returns, particularly in the basement. I'd also look into zoning. I'd also get an ecobee 3 or 4 thermostat with remote sensors where I spend my time rather than the POS one they'll probably try to stick you with. Make sure they run a power wire to the thermostat -- 4 wires, not 3. Make sure there's dampers in all the runs even if they're only manual dampers. If you have a cold part of the house now, make sure they add a run to it. If you're using your existing registers, don't let 'em mumble out of making the whole system work. "Old runs, mutter, mutter, not so good air flow, mutter mutter..."

Let me know if I can be of any help or grumble further. ;-)

Re: Voice o' Doom

Date: 2019-01-14 05:20 pm (UTC)
lsanderson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lsanderson

No digging required. Registers close to the floor work better than in the ceiling if it's at all possible in the basement. Normally a few inches above the floor or baseboard if you have them. If you occupy the basement, a cold air return is also a good idea. With heating, basements are hard, but with A/C, they turn into great refrigerators, so you'll need to shut down the basement vents in the summer. Here's a DIY that talks about it: https://youtu.be/dsI_3lbwO7E

One month of your octopus gas bill will about cover the whole heating season with a high-efficiency furnace. If you average your gas bill, let the utility know you've changed furnaces or they'll overbill you the first year based on your previous bills.

My house is 2 1/2 stories, and was insulated before the furnace change. I just found the heating company overpromised what they could do while waffling on everything -- to the extent that they 'forgot' to put in one register in the basement that was in the specs.

Re: Voice o' Doom

Date: 2019-01-14 06:45 pm (UTC)
lsanderson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lsanderson

Standard -- they got the old furnace out and a new one in in about a full day. That was the incredible part. Forgetting one register the less than incredible part. Fifteen years later, they shoulda put a cold-air return in the basement and no ceiling registers down there. And the one they cut into the main hot air duct is a waste o' metal.

I had a less than stellar experience with them when my air cleaner died, which is kinda why I called them -- they no longer handled 3M and wanted ~$350 to put in a new one from a different company, on which I would get a $100 credit for the service call. Online, a new head unit for the air cleaner was about $98. A new head unit fixed the problem.

They've been out recently to check a recall on the heat exchanger. They wanted to put in a new furnace with an allowance for the recall. It's complicated, but the song and dance seemed about the same.

If you have any time this week, stop over and I can show you what their work looks like. And the shoulda/woulda/coulda from 15 years later. (I"m leaving for Egypt next Monday, TSA still working and willing, for a couple of weeks.) They're more fussy about A/C compressor locations and other issues than other companies are.

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