Author Archives: Tom Terrific

Gas Explosions

Jeff Rossen Reports had some good information on the latest gas explosions and what the home owner should do if they smell gas. I will list them below, but noticed that he omitted what I would consider to be an obvious action to take.

Turn off the outside gas valve. This is something I learned in my CERT training and is fairly easy to do. There is a video below which shows how to do this. I’d recommend getting a LARGE wrench since the valve can be a bit hard to turn.

Here are the actions that are recommended by the show.

  1. Check the stove to make sure none of the knobs are on.
  2. Don’t use the light switch or any electric appliances. The spark could ignite the gas.
  3. Open the window/windows. They only vent one window and leave the door open.
  4. Don’t start your car. It might cause a spark.
  5. Get 350 feet away from the house.
  6. Call 911.

 

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No Fees for Freezing Credit Reports

Brian Krebs did a great article on the change in fees for freezing and unfreezing your credit reports.

Starting Sept. 21st. the three large credit reporting agencies cannot charge for freezing your credit accounts.

Here is the entire article. https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/09/in-a-few-days-credit-freezes-will-be-fee-free/

Brian Ettling – Climate Change

brian-ettling-globe - EditedFriend, author, speaker and expert on Climate Change, Brian Ettling, is coming back to St. Louis for a couple of weeks this fall.

He will be teaching his continuing adult ed Climate Change 101 class for St. Louis Community College at Meramec Campus on Saturday morning, October 13th.
NATR:734 | $19 | Age 60+: $17
F01 | Sa 9 am-12 pm | Brian Ettling | Oct 13 | MC – SO, 107
For additional information, contact the Office of Continuing Education at 314-984-7777.

He is also willing to give a couple more talks while he is back in his home state of Missouri in mid-October. You can message Brian through his Facebook page if you’d like him to talk to your group.
https://www.facebook.com/brian.ettling

 

 

Garage Door Lock – $10.44

garage-door-lock-600I have just come across a simple way to add some extra security to your garage door.

It’s a simple piece of metal which you add to your door and which slides out a metal bar to prevent the door from opening. I bought this one from Amazon, but probably any other brand would work.

The only problem I ran into was that I needed an assistant to hold the lock in place when I added the first sheet metal screw. The metal I was going into was also a bit thick so it took some pressure to get the screws to go in. You could pre-drill like the video shows.

Personal Liability Umbrella Insurance

judge-in-courtI have a friend who was recently sued for $800,000.

Even though he ended up not having to pay, he suggested to me to check out Personal Liability Umbrella Insurance.

What I discovered was that while I do have some liability insurance with my auto and house, it’s not a lot.

With State Farm insurance, I found I could buy another million dollars of insurance for $10/month. That seems like a bargain to me.

Even though I hope I’ll never have to use it, this small expense is worth the potential benefits.

Here is an article from State Farm about this type of insurance.


This image was originally posted to Flickr by maveric2003 at http://www.flickr.com/photos/maveric2003/96149867/. It was reviewed on 10 February 2007 by FlickreviewR and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.

Saving Money on Prescriptions

I just saw an interesting story on NBC which shows how to save money on prescriptions.

  • Your insurance may not give you the cheapest price on the drugs you need.
  • Question the pharmacist and find out if the same prescription without insurance is cheaper. Apparently, the drug store can’t/won’t tell you if the non-insurance prescription is cheaper.
  • Check out the website – https://www.goodrx.com/ It will show you the price of the same drug at different stores. It may also show coupons which could same you even more money.
  • goodrx-01

FM Radio for Emergencies

With the recent hurricanes, one of the lessons learned is that the cell phone towers will be down and your phone is probably not going to work to make phone calls or text messages.

One thing however your phone might be capable of during an emergency is listen to FM broadcasts. Not all phones have this capability. My Moto G works fine and many Android phones still have the FM chip. Unfortunately the latest iPhones do not have the FM chip.

The app you will want to install is called NextRadio. It installs easily and does an immediate search of your local stations.

You will want to hook up a pair of headphones as these are your antennae. I did notice that when the headphones are not connected, the app will change and use you cell data or wireless access to stream the music.

This may be an app you will never have to use, but you will want it installed before an emergency.

Over 55 – Save $299+

T-Mobile has a great deal for couples over 55.
We just went over to the T-Mobile store and saved $299 over the next 12 months.

They are now charging $60 (includes charges and taxes) for two lines when you use AutoPay.
This plan includes unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE smartphone data.
I don’t see any “gotchas” so this could save you a lot of money.

Watch the Youtube video – it’s pretty funny.

 

 

 

What Is Your Flood Risk?

After all the devastating floods in the Houston area, I got a bit nervous and thought I’d do some research and see what my flood risk might be.
Here’s a good story on why Houston is so prone to flooding.

I found a site – http://www.whatismyelevation.com/ that allows you to enter an address and it will give you it’s elevation.

An even easier elevation map can be found at 
http://elevationmap.net/
Type in an address to start and then you can compare your elevation to surrounding areas.

Here some general elevation figures from my area.

  • My house is at an elevation of 636 feet.
  • The elevation is 613 feet at one end of the street
  • The elevation is 607 feet in the other direction.
  • The elevation at Gravois Creek is 492 feet.
  • The Meramec river is 391 feet
  • The Mississippi River level is 383 feet

While the above won’t give you an absolute risk assessment, it will give you an idea of what your risk might be.

 

Patio Door Options

provia-door-1000Since we just went through the process of buying a patio/french door, I’d thought I’d document the process and show what the options are.

We originally thought we wanted an outswing French door, but decided later to go with an inswing door. This does save some money. The prices are approximate and include $600 installation plus about 10% sales tax. They all have Low-E glass.

  • $1500 – Tree Court Builders Supply. This is a basic steel door, that would be ok if you are on a budget. This does have blinds inside the door, which can be replaced if they go bad. They use a caulk that oozes out over time. Only one small piece of weather stripping. You have to get someone to install these. You will also need to paint these yourself.
  • $3400 – Pella at Lowes.  This is a price of Double Entry doors. For some reason, the Pella Patio Doors are a thousand dollars more. They don’t have steel doors for Pella at Lowes – just fiberglass and wood covered with vinyl. It only has one small weather stripping.
  • $3600 – Anderson at Home Depot. These are not the same doors as the ones below. They use contractors to put in the door. They only have a few colors to choose from.
  • $4400 – Pella in home presentation. This looks like the same door which is sold at Lowes. It’s a nice looking door, but only has a small weather strip.
  • $5081 – Renewal by Anderson. They have their own installers and guarantee their work. They do have a A+ rating on the BBB. They actually install a Provia line of doors. They bring a cutaway section of the door for you to look at. The weather stripping is amazing – three sections, not just the one on all the other doors.

We went with the Renewal by Anderson. While it is the most expensive, it seems to be the best made and we might get back our money when we sell the house.

 

Cancelling an Airline Flight

These tips come from JohnnyJet.com featured on the Tech Guy podcast.

If you have to cancel an airline flight, don’t do it right away. For most airlines, you can cancel up to right before the flight, but they charge you $200. Southwest doesn’t charge a change fee.

The trick is that if there are weather delays and a flight is delayed for an hour, you might be able to cancel and get reimbursed.

If an airline changes the flight times, you can call up and try to get them to change your routing or your times or even try and get a refund.

 

 

 

 

Leo Buscaglia Story

Here’s a speech I did about Leo Buscaglia many years ago.
I thought it might interest some of my friends.
If you’re never seen Leo speak, please take some time and look him up on YouTube.
He has passed away, but his message is still relevant.

Dishwasher – Lessons Learned

We just had a dishwasher repaired and the things we learned may keep you  from thousands of dollars of repairs down the road. (It was just a latch problem.)

  1. Don’t run your dishwasher when you go to bed. The inlet valve can stick and you will wake up to a wet first floor.
  2. When you go on vacation there is a valve under the sink to turn off the water to the dishwasher – turn off the water valve to the dishwasher.
  3. The above also applies to the washing machine and any water going to the refrigerator – turn them off when leaving for vacation.
  4. Good brands he recommends – Bosch, Kitchen Aid, Whirlpool, Maytag.
  5. The simpler the better – you don’t need all those fancy controls.
  6. St. Louis Appliance Repair Group did the repair.

PH Tester and Tests

ph-testerI recently bought a Xpertomatic PH tester to test some of the drinks I consume. I followed the directions on the instructions to calibrate it first.

For those of you unfamiliar with PH, it’s a test of acidity. On a scale of 0 to 14, seven is considered Neutral. Zero is very acidic and 14 would be very base or alkaline. The scale changes by a factor of ten for each number. Six is ten times more acidic than seven and five would be one hundred times more acidic than seven.

 

 

 

 

Here are my results.

  • Beer – Schlafly Pale Ale – 5.36
  • Coffee Costco – 4.6
  • Coffee with cream – 5.2
  • Coffee – Folgers – Med. Dark – 5.17
  • Coffee – Folgers – Classic Medium Roast – Costco – 4.72
  • Coffee Puroast – 5.75
  • Coffee – Trader Joe’s cold brew – 5.24
  • Tea from tap water – 6.9
  • Water distilled – Essentials ShopnSave – 6.0
  • Water distilled Blue Mountain – 6.78
  • Water tap – 9.04. , 9.68
  • Water – tap – filtered – 6.5
  • Water bottled – 6.35
  • Fruit compote – 3.8
  • Kefir – 3.8

phfig1-revised

 

Cleaning the Outside Air Conditioner

AC-clogged-outside-01

I decided to take a look at my two outside air conditioner units and see if they need cleaning. As you can see from the picture, they are totally clogged. I’m surprised that I’m getting any cooling at all. The fins are covered on the outside by a panel which makes it very hard to see what is going on inside.

AC-clogged-outside-02

While I initially took a shop vac to the fins, with a little testing I learned that a good stream of water will release the dirt. You could also spray it with a cleaner, but that may not even be necessary.

Taking apart the top of my unit is fairly easy. After turning off the electricity, I unscrewed the top. Unfortunately the unit is still held in by electrical wires. What I did was to use some garden pads to rest the top on and used the hose on the fins. If you don’t take off the sides, you can still clean the outside, but it’s not as easy. It’s hard to put the pieces back together, so just taking the top off is the easy option.

One option that I am going to try is put a screen around the outside of the unit. They have one available on Amazon, but some reviewers said that this is basically just a window screen, so that’s what I’m going to try.

 

Lactobacillus gasseri for Weight Loss

RESULTS – gained two pounds.

I tried the probiotic below for a month and gained two pounds. Don’t waste your time if you want to lose weight.

————————————————————

While this is not definitive, I’m going to try Lactobacillus gasseri for thirty days and see what happens. Below are the links which seem to indicate this bacteria might help in weight maintenance.
Note – I gained two pounds in the last year taking some probiotics which were recommended.

Jan 8, 2016 – started taking two pills per day – 3 billion CFU per pill.
Weight at start is 183.

The video below talks about the role of bacteria in weight control.

HooplaDigital.com – movies-music-books – FREE

hoopoladigital-01The St. Louis County Library has added another streaming media service for all it’s patrons. Yeah!!!!

All you have to do is go to Hoopladigital.com and Signup.

You choose the St.Louis County Library and setup your account.

It has ebooks, movies, comic books, audiobooks, and television (older shows). I’m listening to music as I write this, so that’s a nice feature.

To return any emedia, you have to look for a return near the bottom of the page.

While I’m using this program in St. Louis, Missouri, it is also available in other cities and states.

The library allows you to borrow 15 titles each month. On the first of each month, those borrows renew. They’ll be automatically returned when your lending period is over.

Note also that there are apps for this program which seem to work well with my Android phone. You can download books to your e-device.

hoopoladigital-02

How to Keep Your Basement Dry

Here’s a speech I did for Toastmasters on tips to keep your basement dry and how to be prepared if there is a problem. Gutter Guards are another topic I didn’t have time to go into, but I use them also.

I didn’t have time to cover sewer backups, but Ask This Old House did a great segment on this.

 

 

Nutrition Rating for Foods

I’ve recently come across a concept called Yale University’s Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI) . It apparently has also been monetized into the NuVal.com website. The idea is that foods are rated on a scale of 1 to 100, with one hundred being the best and one being the worst.  The idea is that consumers want to get the most nutrition in the least amount of calories. NuVal won’t post their list for some reason, but they do give ratings on Facebook. I’ve put together a list of both the ONQI from Wikipedia and the NuVal information that is posted on Facebook. Mostly they both agree, but in some cases they are different.

Here is their list.

Broccoli 100
Blueberries 100
Strawberries 100
Greek yogurt non fat 100
Okra 100
Orange 100
Green beans 100
Sweet Potato 100
Spinach 100
Kale 100
Celery 100
Cherries 100
Pineapple 99
Radish 99
Summer squash 98
Watermelon 98
Apple 96
Green cabbage 96
Tomato 96
Clementine 94
Watermelon 94
Mango 93
Red onions 93
Fresh figs 91
Grapes 91
Banana 91
Milk (skimmed) 91
Avocado 89
Oatmeal 88
Raisins 88
Atlantic salmon fillet 87
Walnuts 84
Almonds 84
Atlantic halibut fillet 82
Catfish fillet 82
Cod fillet 82
Tilapia fillet 82
Oysters 81
Swordfish steak 81
Prawns 75
Shrimp 75
Clams 71
Pecans 69
Monkfish fillet 64
Peanuts 60
Milk (whole) 52
Scallops 51
Turbot fillet 51
Pasta 50
Turkey breast (skinless) 48 – NuVal gives it a 73
Tinned peas 49
Prunes 45
Chicken breast (boneless) 39 NuVal gives this a 57
Orange juice 39
Lobster 36
Pork tenderloin 35
Flank steak (Beef) 34
Turkey breast 31
Veal chop 31
Veal leg cutlet 31
Beef tenderloin 30
Chicken drumstick 30
Pork chop (boneless centre cut) 28
Chicken wings 28
Lamb chops (loin) 28
Leg of lamb 28
Ham (whole) 27
Raisins 26
Cheese 25
Green olives 24
Bagel 23
Peanut butter 23
Condensed cream of broccoli soup 21
Salted, dry-roasted peanuts 21
Fried egg 18
Swiss cheese 17
Diet fizzy drinks 15
Non-streaky bacon 13
Pretzel sticks 11
Dark chocolate 10
White bread 9
Salami 7
Hot dog 5
Cheese puffs 4
Milk chocolate 3
Apple pie 2
Crackers 2
Fizzy drinks 1
Popsicle 1

Lynda.com Free for St. Louis County Library Users

lynda-slcl

I’ve been a big proponent of Lynda.com for many years and now I just noticed that it is Free for St. Louis County Library Users.

Lynda.com is a video resource and training company with a LARGE list of programs and skills which all of us need to learn and refresh.

You will need to setup what they call a Profile at Lynda – just your name and email address.

Note – normally this would cost $25/month.

Here’s the link to setup an account.
https://www.lynda.com/portal/sip?org=iii.slcl.org