Monday, March 31, 2008

Chaos And The Art Of Wormhole Maintenance

It was a busy weekend. A VERY busy weekend.

My Saturday started out at the OSU surplus auction. True to form, I purchased a palet of monitors. I paid $15 for it but was only interested in the flat screen monitor that was sitting on the top. I also nabbed the iMac that was wrapped up in there just to play with.

As the auction winds down, Kevin and I will often hang around and try to make deals on individual pieces with the people who bought the entire palet. Sometimes they don't care about the piece you want, sometimes they give you a song and dance about how much they can sell it for and make a big production out of it. Either way, it never hurts to ask. Sometimes you end up with some really cool stuff.

I was talking to a couple of kids (probably students) who had bought a couple of palets of mostly junk. They pointed to several items and said they were fair game. We looked through their remains and moved on.

A few minutes later, we saw them talking to another individual. I told them that if they wanted any of the CRTs I had bought, they were welcome to them. This caught the interes of the other guy and I told him he was welcome to take one, all or none and kevin said as much about his palet of monitors. I then got the bright idea of asking if he'd bought any CPUs (actual computers). He pointed to a trailer stacked 4 feet high with them. I inquired if he'd be willing to trade one machine for all the monitors he wanted and he agreed. I plucked a Dell Optiplex GX400 off the top of the stack and went on my merry way.

As soon as I got it to the car, I popped the case. It appeared to be complete - Processor,RAM,and even 40GB hard drive were in tact: Score! When I got home later, I hooked it up and she's got a 1.5 GHz processor and 256MB of RAM. That's plenty to turn it into a server to learn on.

After we left the auction, Kevin and I met the wife for breakfast then headed to the discount flooring center to take a look at the palet of laminate flooring she bought on Friday. The short version is she bought an odd lot (3-4 different colors) of 1300 square feet of laminate flooring for $100. For the mathematically impaired, that's 13 CENTS per square foot.

NOTE: We have been talking about replacing the carpet in the living room with laminate flooring for quite a while so we snatched up the deal while we had the opportunity.

Next, we went to... I'm not sure what to call it. They purchase closeout lots, damaged lots, remainder lots, etc. You never quite know what they'll have. A couple of items they've had for the last month or so are a large office desk and a double bookcase. I've been looking at the desk, the wife has been looking and the bookcase. As it turns out, they had just been marked down to 50% off the discount price.

Now, I have been looking for a computer desk since we moved back from Idaho. The one I had before we moved was of moderate size and worked very well. It had enough room for two monitors and both of my printers plus it was the perfect height. We ended up donating it to the Salvation army to save weight in the move. I have regretted it ever since. The trend now appears to be toward satisfying the laptop-toting college student with space issues. In other words, they're all small. The desk at the discount store is not small. It is not even moderately sized. It's nothing but BIG. It is U-shaped with each leg sticking back six feet and the bridge space spanning seven feet. PLUS, it has a hutch. I had been considering this desk at the discounted price but with it now being half off of that, I bought it. The wife bought the bookcase for the same reason.

Our next step was to rent a U-Haul for 3-4 hours so we could get the desk, the bookcase and the flooring home. Loading was easy. The flooring center loaded the entire palet on the back of the truck and three people loaded the furniture boxes. We had to break up the palet of flooring and restack it in the garage then secure the furniture boxes (they were partially opened) and fight gravity trying to yank the dolly down the ramp.

By the time we returned the truck and had something ot eat, darkness had overtaken the day. I took the time to prepare my office for the new desk. I planned where it would be, moved some boxes out of the way, moved other boxes out of the room (those that didn't belong there anyway), and cleared off and cleared out my desk. This last step included disconnecting the computer and tucking it into a corner (where it still remains at the moment).

When the evening finally started to wind down it was after 11pm. We had been put on notice to pick up a Wii for my mother-in-law if we came across one. As it happened, the wife discovered that the local Wal-Mart was getting some in that they would be selling at midnight. So we got out of our bed clothes, re-dressed and went and bought a Wii.

When I got up on Sunday, I moved a small part of the existing desk out to the garage. The wife got up and asked me to go get breakfast, which I did. We ate and I started some laundry then changed out the cat boxes while my wife talked to her mother and let her know we had gotten the game console. I went to move the larger part of the desk and couldn't quite figure out how to do it. It's too bulky for me to lift alone, the wife is minor help at best for lifting things, and dragging it across the carpet would only server to break it apart. We have some of those "moving men" discs but I didnt know where they were.

I enlisted my wife's help in looking for them and mentioned that I could get it out in a jiffy with a furniture dolly. "Atwoods has them on sale for $15.99." I have wanted a furniture dolly for the convenience of it for a long time but I've never known where to get one.

"Want to go to Atwoods?" I asked. She agreed and we were back on the road. On our way there, she mentions that her mother needed a new monitor because hers was broken. "I told her it was information I could have used yesterday." To which I replied that I was sure most of my monitors were still at the auction site and if not Kevin's definitely were. We made a detour to the auction site and picked up a couple of my monitors.

While we were there, we met someone who had been hanging around, chatting with those that were gathering their purchases, and determining what was leftover stock for the scavenging. I picked up a 1U rack server for myself, a 3U (or 4U) rack server for Kevin, and, at the wife's direction, a Laserjet 4 printer with a Jet Direct network card in it.

As if my back didn't hurt enough, I continued the day by clearing my office and starting to assemble the very large desk constructed with several very large (2' x 6' x 1.5" particle board toppers for each of the legs), very heavy pieces.

When I finally said "Uncle" and gave up on the desk for the night, I had everything but the hutch put together (only one small, concealable piece was missing and I managed to fix up a rather nice replacement). When I get home this evening, I will finish the hutch and set the computer back up.

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