Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Toast to Brian and Susie Leuschen

For those who weren't there, the following was what I had the privilege of saying last Friday at the rehearsal dinner for the wedding of Brian Leuschen and Susie Dobel. It was pretty distilledno jokes, no roasting, but absolutely true:

I've known Brian since 1990, so for those of you who don't know Brian: if you're a guy, Brian embodies just about every quality you want to see in yourself. And if you're a girl, then you want to be Susie. The reason is pretty simple—Brian is a true gentleman.

What does it mean to be a true gentleman? When I think about it—when I try to think about all of the true stories I know, it's not about a list of stories that prove with great gusto anything about Brian. It's more about all of the stories that simply don't prove otherwise. Brian isn't one to sell you as a gentleman, a guy who's going to charm you in public just for the sake of appearance. Time and time again, Brian has simply proven that he is who he is. You couldn't ask for a better husband.

As for Susie, my memory of our first meeting is pretty hazy—Brian had a party a few years ago, and Susie was there. But in the time that we have spent together since, I have known Susie to be beautiful, fun, and sweet. Brian seems to think the same and more. And that's all I have to know. Brian and Susie make a great couple, and that's what matters. 

So everyone lift your glass: here's to Brian, Susie, a beautiful day tomorrow, and a long and happy marriage. Cheers.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Part of performing insurance inspections involves asking homeowners some pretty basic questions. Among these questions are: 1) do you have any smoke detectors, 2) do you have any carbon monoxide detectors, and 3) do you have any fire extinguishers?

85% of all interviews result in a “yes” to #1. Carbon monoxide detectors lag a bit, but my memory puts them at 50-60%.

Fire extinguishers, on the other hand, appear to be more of a generational thing. When the age of the insured is 60+, then I would put the percentage of those having extinguishers at 60%. And not just one extinguisher—if a 60+ insured has one, then he or she often comes out and indicates (without prompting) that there's an extinguisher in the kitchen, basement, attic, and garage.

As an aside—care to guess which group makes up a lot of the 15% who don't have smoke detectors?

As for younger insureds, stating that 25% having a single fire extinguisher would be a generous estimation, but generosity is acceptable to this story. The point is that a gap exists, and it appears to be age-related.

What to make of this gap? An oversimplification is that younger people seem to be more inclined to dial 911, GTFO, and let the authorities deal with a problem. Older folks prefer to have the ability to take action before following the same pattern, even if such an ability is more of an illusion. While one can't put out every fire with a fire extinguisher, I've yet to hear of anyone who can successfully fight a fire with a cell phone. When seconds count and the fire station is minutes away—or when a fire is still small enough to spare a house—at least having the option would seem prudent.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Roomba wasn't liking the black carpet. Roomba seemed to think that the black carpet was either 1) a hole in the ground, or 2) a bunch of stairs that it was about to fall down.

The fix according to iRobot? There's nothing you can do.

The fix according to those own screwdrivers? Get out the screwdriver!

There's multiple sets of LED-looking sensors that need to see each other in order for Roomba to move forward, and black carpet apparently prevents these sensors from seeing each other. So you have a choice to make--do you want your Roomba to not fall down the stairs while avoiding black carpet like the plague, or do you want Roomba to vacuum all of your carpet while risking a tumble down the stairs?

If you want the latter, the fix involves removing the aforementioned sensors from their holders and making sure that they can see each other. In my case, I simply taped them together:

The result is a Roomba that goes anywhere. Fearlessly. So if you've got a house with stairs and you do this, consider yourself warned--and your black carpet clean!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Now we enter the home stretch for exterior house projects in 2013.

Three things define this time. It starts when the weather turns cooler, ends either on or very close to Thanksgiving Day, and it involves attempting to fit a year of work into that time span.