8/26/2013: Whatever happened to Newton Living Magazine?

Took the kids to Wally’s for ice cream last week and saw a copy of Newton Living Magazine on the wall.  Remember this?

Newton Living Mag

It was kinda like a knock-off of Boston Magazine that just appeared in your mailbox a few times in late 2011.  First time it showed up, I was like “Hey Management — did you order this?”  Turns out it was free and they were mailing them to 32,000 Newton households.

It actually wasn’t a bad mag. They featured a lot of local residents and their businesses. Wrote some real estate and home stuff too.  Everyone fully clothed — very tasteful.

Turns out the publisher, John Sisson, didn’t have the capital or investors to continue after their 3rd issue.  Had to shut it down in the spring of 2012.  You guys know I didn’t go to Sloan Business School, but if you’re going to publish a free mag — you need investors with USDs.  It’s business 101.

Would be great if Sisson could revive an on-line version or create a blog.  I could show him how.  Just make up a bunch of stuff, call everyone you guys and hit publish!

8/22/2013: Randlett Park babysitting service

Babysitting on Randlett tonight. Didn’t know that was in my repertoire? Now you know.

First things first – I sit for free. I know my competition charges $15/hour but I’m not in it for the money.

I’m in it for the beer. If I’m sitting, you better have some.

There should be a game on too. Pats, Sox, B’s or C’s. Not gonna sit around watching America’s Got Talent. Show sucks.

I’m sure the kids are cute, but I don’t want to see them. Make sure they are down when I arrive.

If the kids start crying, I call you. You come home. Kids are quiet, I sit all night. Comprende?

If your situation involves diapers – just stop reading. Never gonna happen.

I book in advance. I’m not some Newton North senior that can come over with 2 hours notice. Need to see what games are on and scope your wifi situation first.

Gotta wrap this up gang. Beer is getting low and Pats are about to commit their 4th turnover of the 1st half.


8/22/2013: Why does my fireplace smell smokey during the summer?

A few times this summer, I’ve noticed a strange smell in the living room.  Most strange smells in my house come from the kids, but this was definitely coming from the fireplace. I immediately thought — shit, I need to blog this.  Then it occurred to me to figure out the problem first.

The fireplace was clean and the damper shut.  We hadn’t had a fire in 5 months — so what’s up with the smokey smell?

Every time you have a fire, creosote deposits are absorbed into the bricks in the chimney. Even when cleaned by a sweep, creosote remains.  On warm, humid or rainy days, air comes down through chimney — bringing the creosote smell with it.  It’s called negative pressure and it’s not a big deal you guys.

If you want to get rid of the smell, try the following: clean the fireplace, make sure the damper is closed tightly, have the chimney swept, install a damper at the top of the chimney to stop airflow.

Time to sweep the chimney.
Time to sweep the chimney.

8/11/2013: How big can your home addition be?

I’ve wrote and re-wrote this blog like ten times gang.  You guys don’t care about zoning districts and Floor Area Ratios, you just want to know how big your house can be.  Well here’s the scoop:

The average lot size on Randlett Park is .19 acres (8,276 sq/ft).  The average house size is 2,000 +/- sq/ft.

The max allowable Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for our zoning district (SR3) is .45.  This means if you have .19 acres, your home can be 3,724 sq/ft.

Not big enough for you?  Since our homes were built before 1954, Newton will allow us to increase the ratio by .02 — bringing total FAR to .47.

Still need more space kemosabe?  FAR does not include existing space like unfinished basements or attics.

Link to Newton’s FAR calculator below.  Make sure to select Zone SR3.



8/13/2013: Quick & easy way to get rid of backyard flies

You ever been to a bbq where everyone is having a great time except for one dude that’s getting attacked by flies?  Like swatting wildly at the air and slapping himself?  That’s me.

Now Management doesn’t have a problem with flies on me.  But if one lands on her hot dog or burger, it’s a problem.  And that’s where the flies screwed up.  They went and pissed off Management.

Management did some research and bought a Flies Be Gone flytrap for the backyard. This thing doesn’t look like much.  But troops in Iraq & Afghanistan used ’em to kill flies, possibly terrorists too.

FBG is a hanging trap that attracts flies through a trap door — which they somehow are not smart enough to fly back out of.  According to FBG’s website, once inside flies enjoy a free lunch they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.  Think they stole that line from a John Wayne flick.

FBG takes a few minutes to put together.  The bait stinks — don’t get it on your hands. Hang it a few feet off the ground in the sunlight.  Make sure it’s 30′ or so away from your patio.  Each trap lasts about 4 weeks.  We’ve had ours up for a few days and already have a dozen confirmed kills.

Flies Be Gone

8/9/2013: Lowest monthly gas bills ever

Poor National Grid. Talk about your all-time backfires. They gave me all kinds of credits through Mass Save to make my home energy efficient. And boy did I take advantage of them. Lowered my monthly gas usage to less than a therm a day. Not sure what a therm is but it doesn’t matter cause I don’t use ’em anymore.

June gas bill: $19.28
July gas bill: $20.21

Can anybody beat that?


8/8/2013: The best place to buy power equipment

Farina’s in Watertown.  This place is the best.  They have a wide range of lawnmowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers, snowthrowers, generators and most importantly — chainsaws.

You don’t think you need a chainsaw?  Guess what — you do.  Because stuff like this is going to happen in your backyard.


And when it does, just grab the chainsaw you got at Farina’s and turn it into firewood.

What makes Farina’s great is the service.  The guys there take time to understand your needs and match you with the right piece of equipment.  Then they show you how to use the equipment and trouble shoot problems.  They even fill it with gas and oil.  If you ever have problems — just bring it in for service.

Oh yeah, they also sell bikes.  But forget about those and focus on horsepower.