How Dare Those Chickens Come Home to Roost!

Published at 20:09 on 21 December 2014

How dare they!

That’s basically what comes to mind when gripes like this catch my attention.

And before anyone complains: No, I am not celebrating anyone’s death. I am merely pointing out that well-established historical patterns have expected consequences. It may be politically incorrect to say so in Establishment circles, but that doesn’t make it any less of a fact.

Mark My Words: Five Billion Dollars

Published at 08:23 on 12 December 2014

That’s long been my estimate (even before I made that linked post) of how much the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement boondoggle is going to end up costing. And it’s an open question as to whether or not there will be a usable tunnel after pouring all that money down that rat hole.

The latest in the saga of foibles is that the access tunnel is that the access pit they are digging to repair the damaged tunnel boring machine is causing a whole neighborhood to start subsidng. That’s going to be a healthy chunk of change just to compensate all the affected property owners right there.

Remember, this is a unique and never-before-attempted project. Nobody has ever used a tunnel boring machine this large. Nobody has ever dug a tunnel this deeply through saturated soil. So nobody really knows how difficult it actually will be.

Anyone who said it would cost $1 billion, tops, was either a liar or a rank idiot. Or both.

When is a Good Price on a Range Not a Good Price?

Published at 10:21 on 10 December 2014

When that good price comes from a big, nationwide retailer like Sears or Home Depot, and it’s a gas appliance that you want to run on propane, that’s when.

You see, virtually no gas home appliance comes straight from the factory equipped to run on propane. A few do, but they’re very few. Most all are designed to run on natural gas, because that’s what the majority of customers use. But the difference between the two fuels is actually very minor, making it theoretically easy to convert from one to the other. And since it increases their market size, manufacturers inevitably make it easy to do said conversion. But, it’s still a conversion that has to be done. You can’t just hook the appliance up and have it operate properly.

I shopped at Sears for my stove. They had good prices, and Kenmore is actually a very highly-rated brand. Then I mentioned the p-word (propane) and the person on the phone giving me price quotes stammered and did a double-take. He said he’d have to get back to me. When he did, the cost was around $250. Goodbye to any price advantage for buying a stove from Sears as opposed to my local mom-and-pop store.

I tried Home Depot. The result was even worse. They simply didn’t do propane at all. Their “free installation” was for natural gas customers only. I’d have to pay a third-party service technician (probably from my local mom-and-pop appliance store) to convert and install it. Say goodbye to any Home Depot price advantage.

Meanwhile, the local mom-and-pop store is on an island with no natural gas service. So virtually every gas appliance they sell ends up being converted for propane use. It’s just part of their standard procedure. They tack on a fee for it, but it’s nominal by comparison.

Neither national retailer ended up being definitively more expensive, actually. It merely became a wash, price-wise. But why deal with someone out-of-town when I can deal with someone local? And why raise the spectre possible finger-pointing (“It wasn’t us! We sold you a good range! Your installer broke it!” “It wasn’t me! They sold you a defective range!”)?

It’s sort of a surprise, really. There’s lots of people in the same boat I am where I live. I’d not be surprised if a Seattle store had no idea of how to deal with a customer who used propane, but it’s a complete surprise to see such an attitude in Poulsbo.

Oh well, their loss.