Shoestring Theory

Currently documenting the house that is eating our lives, we will return to regularly scheduled programming in a couple of more months

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A blast from the past – Our house in the 70s

January 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm by thetheorist

Front of house in 70s
This would have been the front of the house circa 1970. The siding and several windows had changed by the time we bought the place.

We got a surprise gift just after new years, a letter and pictures from the previous owner of the house. In case I haven’t mentioned this before, the house was owned by a woman whose daughter and grandsons lived in the house. These pictures should be from around 1970-1971 when the house was first purchased by them. The pictures help explain a few of the odditities we found in the house while working on it. It was clear that multiple sizes of windows had been installed in various rooms of the house over time, but seeing some of these older windows lets me get a better picture in my head of how the framing evolved as windows were changed out.

This was a super fun surprise to find in the mail!

Hit the read more link for about a half dozen more pics.

[Click to

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The kitchen and DIY Copper Countertops

January 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm by thetheorist

Final pics of counter
Welcome to our kitchen!

Let me introduce you to our kitchen, in it’s very nearly completed form! We took several months off from doing any serious work on the house after finally getting the lady’s office and the kitchen mostly done. But as we were hosting Christmas this year, we realized we really needed to get some more work done, which meant finally getting the kitchen countertops in (plus we knocked out some trim and built a fireplace mantle).

This is a big, big post with lots of pictures and words, so hit the read more link to see it all. I’m including a lot of information about how we handled the countertops, since I had such a hard time finding good information when I decided to embark on this little journey and hopefully our experiences can help someone else who is considering copper countertops.

[Click to

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The bestest zombie Christmas gift ever!

December 31, 2009 at 12:09 pm by thetheorist

The ladytheorist and littletheorist gave me the most awesome Christmas gift ever. For a few weeks before Christmas, I was told to stay out of the glove box in the car, as I had a gift hidden there. I couldn’t figure out why they would leave a gift there and not just wrap it. Turns out it was a little book called It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Zombies! The girls had been practicing in the car whenever they went anywhere to learn some of the carols. The even wrote a few of their own, some classics that weren’t in the book (like Silent Night). When I opened the book on Christmas morning, the girls serenaded me with several of the songs (both out of the book and their own), even adapting one song to include my name! I totally teared up as they were singing to me. I have a massive weak spot for both zombies and Christmas carols, combine them and you’ve just destroyed me. What really got to me though was knowing that my girls know me so well that they knew this would totally get to me.

I have the most awesome family ever!

Oh, and by the way, we’ve had zombies on the brain lately anyway (related to the couple of teases I’ve made about a new project). I promise that more info is coming. It got delayed due to us going back to work on the house to get it ready to host Christmas, and then the actual hosting of Christmas. I should get back to working on it directly after the new year (maybe even this weekend!).

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Your adorable kitty picture of the day

December 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm by thetheorist

Click to embiggen the Tig.

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Happy Holidays everyone!

December 27, 2009 at 11:24 am by thetheorist

Winter wonderland
Click to see a bigger pic of this winter wonderland.

Hope you all had a safe and fun holiday weekend. The snow made things a little rough around here for a couple of days, but the view is worth it.

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Because I wasn’t busy enough, I found more to do

October 5, 2009 at 12:27 pm by thetheorist

So I really don’t know how to just take a break. After finally getting most of the house done, and moving in, I’ve started picking up some freelance pieces from the Lawrence Journal-World. The first piece ran today, on a local cookbook author and her first book. You can check it out here!

Also, the ladytheorist and I are working on a side project that’s ridiculously exciting and we’ll hopefully have some news on that within a few weeks, and a new website to be launching along with the announcement. As a hint, I’ll just say that it’s related to tabletop gaming.

Plus, to add to my plate, I’ve been helping a couple of friends work on their houses, you know, because I didn’t get enough of my own. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures to share of the work we’ve done at those two houses soon.

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Rebuilding my house was easier than buying a fridge

September 23, 2009 at 1:51 pm by thetheorist

So the old refrigerator that came with our house tried to burst into flames on Monday (a Kenmore). The back of the freezer compartment was so hot that it was glowing orange and melting food. I was too freaked out to get a picture, and now I’m a little concerned about plugging it back in (even though I really want a picture).

So the lady and I go refrigerator shopping, find a few models we like and I go home to research them. What do I discover? That every single model of refrigerator is a heaping pile of crap that will breakdown, leaving you waiting for weeks for warranty work (if you read forums). And, conversely, that every brand is wonderful with high levels of consumer satisfaction (if you visit a variety of sites like Consumer Reports and JD Power).

Ugh, seriously, is it that hard to get decent info on a refrigerator? Consumer Reports is almost worthless. What I want to know is how reliable and well built a unit is.

We had been leaning towards a Samsung, until the CR forums and a couple of other sites made me leery of the brand with horror stories of customer service. But JD Power ranks Samsung as having the highest level of consumer satisfaction for five years in a row in refrigerators. I definitely felt that the design and quality of shelving felt better in the Samsung, but that doesn’t really say anything about how well built the actual guts are.

Aaargh. Anyone have any clues about refrigerators?

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Co-Optimus Editorial – When co-op gets cut: Majesty 2

September 21, 2009 at 10:50 am by thetheorist

Majesty 2 Logo

Majesty 2 launched on Friday, a game that I had been looking forward to for awhile. Unfortunately the multiplayer is significantly different from the original and from what was promised with the sequel. I’ve got an editorial up over on Co-Optimus examining the issue.

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Memo to KCKPD: Bad Idea

August 20, 2009 at 1:00 pm by thetheorist

Kansas City, Kansas Police Department Pamphlet
Click to see the whole pamphlet in a readable form.

I’m sure that the general attitude towards Social Security Numbers is that one should protect them and not use them in ways that make it easier for them to get stolen. A friend who recently had his car stolen in Kansas City, Kan., forwarded this pamphlet on to me. The officer gave it to him after taking a report.

The pamphlet, in warning you how to protect yourself, suggests you use your Social Security Number to mark property that might get stolen.

Mark your property with your Drivers License or Social Security Number.

Perhaps their logic is that this makes the property more valuable, and so perhaps they will be more likely to try and track it down? Shame that criminals will already have not only your property, but valuable information about you too.

A quick Google search showed many government and private agencies suggesting that you absolutely not use your SSN this way.

From the City of Woodinville, Wash (Opens PDF, requires Adobe Acrobat).

Mark your valuables with your Washington State Driver’s License Number…(Ed Note: goes on to describe in depth how to use your DL number). Do not use your Social Security Number.

From the Oklahoma City University Police (their caps, not mine):


From the University of Illinois Springfield Police (They needed to use 3!!! exclamation points to get the point across):

Do Not Use a Social Security Number!!!
Unlike your social security number, your Illinois driver’s license is readily available to any law enforcement officer. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and on holidays.

There were easily dozens of more examples like this from across the country just in the first few pages of that Google search.

Not that any of this might matter, turns out that clever mathematicians have a good shot at guessing your SSN anyway. Last month MSNBC reported on researchers who have found ways to identify SSNs using publicly available information like place and date of birth.

A completely random guess at a 9-digit SSN should be a one in one billion chance. But instead, their newly educated guesses have narrowed the odds down to roughly 1 in 1,000. Making matters worse, because of changes in the way the numbers have been issued since 1988, the numbers are getting easier and easier to guess as time passes. In one example, the researchers said, they can uncover a Delaware resident’s 9-digit SSN within 10 guesses about 5 percent of the time.

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The fasion trend sweeping the nation

August 18, 2009 at 12:33 pm by thetheorist

Click for full sized ad.

Remember a couple of weeks ago, when I claimed that Tam was on the bleeding edge of fashion? Yeah, I totally wasn’t kidding. The Gap presents this years western themed footwear.

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