Friday, December 17, 2010
At first glance this looked like four small trees randomly growing out of the sand, but on closer examination I observed that this was one tree that had been blown over, likely in a windstorm, or was pushed over by high water flows during a heavy rain. It struck me how closely Mother Nature and human nature are guided by the same choices when facing adversity. This tree could have just "cashed in its (wood) chips", and died, but by the survival instinct found both in humanity and in nature, instead it reached for the sun from its new-found horizontal position, and is surviving quite well here in the desert.
Probably what got me thinking about this was the challenge we are facing with the launching of our newly designed website. Right after the launch it appeared that we suffered no adverse affects regarding a loss of our traffic and our position in the SERPS (search engine results pages), but within a couple of days we noticed a substantial drop. After some agonizing days of tweaking the SEO aspects of the site, adding some new content and video, and working on analytics, we are clawing our way back to the position that we have been fortunate to occupy for the last several years. Like the tree, our new website affords us the opportunity to branch out and continue to develop the website bigger, better, and stronger than it was before.
With 2010 coming to a close, I got thinking about a blog entry I made in October of 2008, right when the economy was down, and about to fall even further. At that time I was looking at the markets and comparing numbers so I thought it would be interesting to look back to see where we were then, and where we are now, 2 years later. Also like the tree, we have made some huge strides toward recovery. Sure things could be better. The jobless rate and the housing market being two of the major stumbling blocks of the recovery, especially in the U.S.A., but let's look at what has happened since October, 2008. Being a Canadian (eh), I had used the TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange) as my rough indicator of the economy. Back in the spring of 2008 the markets had begun their decline, and the TSX started to fall from a high of nearly 16,000 points. When I wrote that post, the TSX closed around 9600 that day, and the worst was yet to come, falling to below 8000 in the first quarter of 2009. Today, December 17, 2010, that same TSX index closed at 13,200. That's up 37.5% since that post from October 17, 2008. The other markets have followed a similar pattern. Consumer spending is also up this Christmas season, and other areas of the economy are showing optimistic sentiment as well.
So as we move towards the festive season, and the new year of 2011, I hope I've given you something to think about, and like the tree, I hope you didn't just lie down in the sand and dry up, but that you have looked at being pushed over as a new challenge, and with challenge is opportunity, to reach back up and branch out, bigger and stronger than ever!
We are adding content and videos to the website on a regular basis now, so please check the site often to see what's new. www.electrical-online.com
My son Lyle is coming down for a visit and to spend Christmas with us starting tomorrow so we're looking forward to that. Lyle has partnered up with Sandy to start his own website about his passion, the world of horses, in particular show jumping, so check out his site at www.equestrianplanet.com.
Should I not get a chance to post another blog before the end of the year, have a very Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays), and a Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Our site has been on the internet since back in 1997, and was built using the now obsolete web development software, Frontpage. To make a long story short, we've been a bit handcuffed by this issue and that has resulted in a fairly stagnant website in the past months.
Our meeting with Roy spawned a partnership on our website, and a plan of action for re-designing our site using WordPress, and a marketing plan was put in to motion. The first step was to design and build the new site, and the management of that project was charged to David Evans, one of Roy's consultants on his team.
Friday, March 26, 2010
After much discussion on how to achieve a more open feel to your main living area, you and your better half decide that the easiest way to accomplish this would be to create a large opening in the wall between the kitchen and your formal dining room. Just think how much of a difference that will make, and really, how hard can that be?
You consult your neighbour, the journeyman carpenter, and determine that the wall is not a load bearing wall. You obtain the correct permits from the local building authority, and you’re ready to start first thing Saturday morning.
Up bright and early, you’re ready to start. You mark out the proposed rough opening and start removing wall board beginning at the top. Using a plethora of tools, from a utility knife to a reciprocating saw, the renovation begins! Off comes the drywall in a messy, dusty heap on the floor. Things couldn’t be working out better! Your 60” wide passageway is taking shape right before your eyes, and then, you spot your problem. About 36” off the floor you see a cable running through the studs right across your opening. Upon further inspection you discover an electrical outlet on either side of your opening on the other side of the wall. Now what! What are the options?
After a few calls to several local electrical contractors, and leaving messages for them to call you back, it’s off to the computer room to check online for some answers. You find a great website for electrical help, and learn that as long as you have a reasonable skill level, a healthy respect for electricity, and that your local building authority will issue a Homeowners’ Electrical Permit, there’s no reason that you can’t tackle this project yourself.
Monday morning you get the appropriate permit in place, and on the advice you received online, you first ensure that the power to this particular circuit is switched off at the service entrance panel by turning off the correct breaker, you have checked the outlets on either side of the opening and they are indeed dead. You remove the faceplates and the device screws on each of the receptacles and discover that each receptacle has two 2-wire cables entering each box, and both receptacles have five wires attached to them: two black wires; two white wires; and a bare ground. The cable in the wall opening is running between the two receptacles. Removing the cable will break the circuit so it needs to remain in the equation. The cable has to be disconnected and removed from each of the device boxes. Fortunately the receptacles are only one stud space over from your new opening on either side, so fishing in a new, longer piece of wire between them is not that difficult. Sizing up the situation, you determine that you can run a new, longer cable up and over your new opening with a few simple modifications to the original plan. You reinstall the new cable into both boxes and reconnect all the wires properly, and now the project can move forward as planned!
You’ve learned a valuable lesson. Check for all potential problems that could be encountered, even in the most simple of projects. Look for any clues, such as electrical outlets, or plumbing fixtures beside, above or below the proposed renovation area. This would have allowed you to prepare in advance, and may have affected the entire renovation plan had the issue been a more difficult one to resolve.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
We have endorsed this product for a number of years now, but the most recent edition includes about 30 minutes of additional information, including 3 and 4-way switches, light fixtures, etc.
Sandy and I had the pleasure of meeting with the producers of the DVD during our last stay in the Phoenix area, and it was nice to put faces to the names of the people that we have worked with via e-mail and telephone calls over the last several years.
I have always considered this an excellent resource and we have sold many copies of the DVD and have received only positive reviews from our customers and clients. This new edition is just that much better with the additional information provided. The intent of providing an educational over-view of the home electrical systems and components for the novice or the DIY’er has been achieved. The DVD provides excellent descriptions, and easy to understand dynamic graphics and pictures.
The DVD is also very careful to emphasise the dangers of electricity, and the importance of safety and following the proper safe work practices before working on your homes electrical system, and any applicable process that must be followed, such as permits.
Before tackling any home electrical project, we at Electrical-online.com strongly recommend that you get a copy of the DVD, and watch it from start to finish. It is 86 minutes of time well spent. Click on the link below to get your copy today!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
We met with a landscaping contractor in early December to open discussion on some changes we would like to see in our back yard. Nothing major, but the discussion was around designing a more tropical theme, and getting rid of some real grass to reduce ongoing maintenance requirements.
Also knowing that our time in Arizona will be in the fall and winter, we wanted to have our pool heated to allow us to actually use it rather than just look at it during the months that we will be there. Most of pools in the area are not heated (in fact some install chiller units) and only are used in the spring and summer months.
Another factor for Sandy and I was the almost mandatory requirement of having a hot tub or spa for the chilly desert nights. We've haven't been without one in all of our time together (16 years) and I even have a portable spa that comes with us on our travels, so to us this was an essential addition that needed to happen as well.
All this being said, it was decided that the best plan was to remove the grassy area and replace some of it with artificial turf, incorporating a golf putting green, adding some palm trees, fix up the existing outdoor cooking / bar area, and instead of an above ground portable hot tub, we would build in a spa in the corner of the pool and tie it in to the existing pool plumbing and at the same time install and connect a pool heater to the entire system.
For me this meant that I needed to connect all the new equipment (spa jet pump, pool heater, landscape lighting, power for the cooking area, new spa light), and modifying the control strategy to make this all work. The renovations happened so fast and efficiently that unfortunately I didn't have time to document and film or take photo's of the electrical component of this project as it would have made a great article for the website! With my parents visiting as well, I barely had time to get the work done to keep the project on course.
Work began on the morning of December 21, with Christmas looming large at the end of the week. By the end of day 1, the grass was removed, the putting green was laid down, the hole for the spa was dug, and the dirt and sod that they piled on the street was hauled away and the street was swept up.
The second day of work included installation of the re bar cage for the spa and preparation for the plumbing. The next day saw the completion of the plumbing including connection of the spa jet pump, the pool heater, and a pressure test to check the new plumbing for leaks.
My point is that the project moved forward incredibly fast, and considering that Christmas and New Years Holidays were in this time period as well, the entire project was done and complete and we were swimming in the pool and enjoying the new-look back yard by January 15, 2010.
My hat is off to Chris, Kevin, and the entire crew of sub-contractors for a job well done. Not only did I discover a great resource for any landscaping or pool maintenance / installation needs, I also gained some new good friends! I would, will, and have recommended these guys to anybody in need some work of this type done for them in the Valley area! Feel free to e-mail my if you would like more details or contact information for these guys.
Anyhow, I am starting to embrace the social networking component of the Internet, and we're trying to integrate everything so they work together for our followers of http://www.electrical-online.com/ I have established an account with twitter, so you can follow my tweets at www.twitter.com/intelectrician I have a link on the blog to keep you updated as well. Until next time...;Terry Peterman
The Internet Electrician.