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Luke has a new job.

Today I gave WPS 2 weeks notice. On September 15th, I start at the state in the Department of Corrections as a programmer/analyst. It's a little hard to say goodbye to WPS after nearly 5 years, but I honestly didn't want to be an Image System Technician II for the rest of my life, and other opportunities at WPS never came to fruition. Not only that, I wasn't really developing many skills relevant to, well, anything. My (initial) compensation with the state really isn't any better than what I'm making now, but advancement opportunities should be *much* better. And I will (hopefully) be doing something I enjoy a lot more.

I will say this - as happy as I am to have this opportunity, I will miss a lot of the people I've worked with over the past few years. As hard as things have been at times, I have genuinely enjoyed working with the folks I have worked with.

Except you, Dan. You shouldn't be reading my blog at work anyway. Go fix some batches or something.

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Stories like this are sad, but I honestly don't usually put too much thought into them:
Less than a year into a marriage that allegedly had taken a turn for the worse, Jennifer and Shaun Vordermann were found dead around 8 a.m. Monday morning at their home in Edgerton, the result of a murder-suicide, police said.
Jennifer's cousin, Melissa Bakken, said it also had become common for Shaun to stalk Jennifer, often showing up and waiting in the parking lot outside restaurants or bars where she and her cousin would be spending time together. Bakken said Shaun also would drive from Edgerton to Jennifer's former employer, Smart Toyota on Madison's west side, to make sure she was really at work.
Smart is where I got my car, and I thought the girl in the picture looked vaguely familiar. I checked my paperwork tonight - sure enough, she got me setup with loaner cars a couple of times this past spring. When there weren't any Corollas or Camrys available, she got me a huge Tundra, and joked that she would love one if she lived closer to work.

It's slightly surreal when things like this happen to people you know, even if you're only met them a couple of times.

More details here.

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We finally got the guest bedroom repainted. I still have to stain and install base shoe, however, since what was there before got ripped out when carpeting was installed.

On Saturday I took a little trip to Racine, and ended up taking a few routes I haven't taken in a few years, namely through some parts of town that are, to use the term, "blighted". That was nothing new to me, but I did notice a few things that I had previously overlooked. First of all, most of said areas more or less encircle downtown. I realized that is in stark contrast to Madison, where (with the possible exception of some student housing) the area surrounding downtown is generally pretty desirable, and the more run down areas are further out, such as near the Beltline.

The other thing I noticed is that a lot of the houses in said areas actually look like they were pretty nice at one time, and certainly more architecturally interesting than much of the (newer) middle-class housing farther out. Yet people moved (and continue to move) farther out of the city. More and more farm fields are being replaced by sprawling subdivisions of massive homes. I get the feeling This Old House isn't terribly popular in Racine.

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There's stupidity, then there's remodeling.

Much to my chagrin, the guest bedroom in this house only had a single outlet. I distinctly remember the previous owners having an extension cord run over and around the door to get to the other side of the room. Yet the reason for this isn't simply a matter of "that's how they did things back in the old days". No, despite being built in 1923, this house *did* have two outlets in that room originally. How do I know? Because there was a hole in the baseboard where the second outlet *used* to be.

As far as I can gather, this house was (obviously) originally wired with knob and tube wiring. Then, at some point (I'm guessing sometime in the 1980's), a previous owner (two owners ago I'm guessing) did all kinds of remodeling. Some plaster walls remained intact, some were torn out and replaced with drywall, while others were *covered* with drywall. The second floor was finished (and stairs reconfigured - that seems to be a common theme with me), and the house completely rewired. The knob and tube was either torn out or left in place and disconnected and replaced with Romex.

This led to two problems. First, odd things like only replacing one of two outlets in a room. Second, creating a veritable maze of cables and junction boxes in the basement, with cables criss-crossing each other and going off in all directions. On top of that, when the next owners finished the basement in the early 2000's, several junction boxes got walled in, which besides being annoying is against code.

This leads us back to the missing outlet. On Friday night, I ran up a cable from the basement, got a new box installed, and wired an outlet. On Saturday I got to work in the basement, attempting to figure out where I could tie in to the existing circuit. After a lot of research and head scratching, I discovered a) the circuit made a big loop, wasting a lot of wire and making a much longer run than was necessary and b) the most logical junction box to tie into was one of the aforementioned walled off boxes.

The solution? Rip out the box (tearing out a section of wall in the storage room to get to it), rip out a few cables, move a few more, install two new boxes and run some new cables.

After a *long* day, I finally got the power back on, including to the new outlet. Things are still a bit messier than I would prefer, but given what was there before, still a vast improvement. I removed the walled in junction box and replaced it with two new ones (7 cables coming into one box would have been a bit too much). Diagram here for those interested in that sort of thing.

Let this be a lesson, boys and girls - in old houses there are no easy projects. One thing will invariably lead to another, and before you know it you've made a big mess and your patience has waned (if not left you entirely).

I'm Luke Pacholski for THIS old house.

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The Simpsons Archive

Vital stats:
DOB 2/16/79. I'm a web developer at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. I like lots of old music, including The Who. I spend a lot of time working with computers. And my favorite TV show (when I actually decide to watch TV, that is), obviously, is The Simpsons.

In May 2002 I officially graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BS in computer science. In 1997 (man that seems like a long time ago) I graduated from Washington Park HS. Yes, I know, that site isn't very impressive, and no, I haven't touched it for several years.

WFS Logo

One of the best experiences I have ever had was on a trip called Western Field Studies. This is a 33 day adventure throughout the western United States. Students travel on a school bus to national parks, monuments, forests, and places of historical interest and camp out (in tents or under the stars). I was a part of trip 25, which took place in the summer of 1996. A first for WFS was we took along a laptop computer and kept up a web site. That link will take you to the 1996 site, where there is a link to the current site.