Time savers - life on automation

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
PNW86
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Joined: Sat May 18, 2013 4:32 pm

Time savers - life on automation

Post by PNW86 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 3:23 pm

As I get a little older, I realize that time is the one thing precious resource we can't get enough of. I wanted to share the things that save me significant amount of time and hear from others as well.

#1 Roomba 960
If you had a roomba 5 or 10 years ago, or never have tried one, check out the 960. I have a 3 year old home with no pets and no kids, and this thing picks up an amazing amount of dust, dirt, hair etc. we run it 2-3x per week. It is so satisfying to be cleaning the house while a robot vacuums for me. It is even more satisfying to be cooking a healthy meal or watching tv while it vacuums for me!

#2 zojirushi rice cooker - it is spendy, but it does any kind of rice, perfectly, every time. Requires no attention whatsoever

#3 instant pot - we pressure cook oatmeal in this every day for breakfast. In 1 minute of cooking time it is done, and no need to watch the stove. It also pressure cooks beans, and we use it as a slow cooker for other recipes.

veindoc
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by veindoc » Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:11 pm

Does this rice cooker know how to handle brown rice? If so that would be a game changer.

abonder
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by abonder » Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:14 pm

Our zojirushi handles brown rice well but the cook time is significantly longer...more like 1.5-2 hours for several cups vs. half the time for white rice. But it cooks the rice consistently and has worked flawlessly for several years. Definitely a big step up from our prior rice maker.

Good Listener
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Good Listener » Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:23 pm

Regarding your pressure cooker, I microwave oatmeal everyday. The real kind. 2 minutes at level 5. Then I have nothing to clean except the plate. And for beans, there are great prepared canned beans (I use the no salt varieties). They take no time at all and no cooker to clean either.
Last edited by Good Listener on Sun Apr 23, 2017 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dratkinson
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by dratkinson » Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:14 pm

Robot vacuum. Wanted to buy one. Thought I had a plan to buy a Roomba. Had a Bed Bath & Beyond 20% coupon, but the small print taketh it away. Still looking. Have learned that some newer robot vacuums are now self-emptying.

Nightly meds reminder. Have a kitchen clock radio (Sangean CL-100 weather alerts radio). Alarm set to remind me to take nightly meds. Would be nice if I could tweak alarm so it came on at the start of a TV commercial break.

Bright garage lights for unloading car. Wired garage door opener into garage lights (Radio Shack relay acts as a parallel wall switch). It's nice to come home to a brightly lit garage. And since the garage has multiple bright lights, whereas the garage door opener had only one relatively dim light, I now have several bright lights remaining if one burns out. And I can always get the car unloaded before the timer expires.

Quieter backup to attic fan. My swamp cooler is on a comfort controller (ON/OFF by temperature). Have not yet gotten on roof to turn SC on for the season, but controller's timer allows me to run just the fan for a few hours after I go to bed, to cool-soak the house so it can coast through the warming days. (My attic fan's mechanical timer is flaky, sometimes doesn't shut off and can't find suitable electronic replacment, so SC's controller is my backup plan. Plus the SC is much quieter than the attic fan.)

Bath vent timer. Changed bath vent switches to electronic timers. One less thing to remember to turn off.

Oatmeal. 3 minutes on high in microwave. (Pyrex bowl, plate on top, just in case. Don't use the instant oats as they seem to turn into paste.)

Toast. Found, repaired, Astra by Toastmaster, 2-slot retro chrome toaster from the 1950s. Probably not nanny-state approved today as sides get "hot". But it looks cool, and it's faster and more consistent than my old method of cooking toast in a cast iron skillet.

Easy Reach, ultra light (9-lb), 3-step stool by Gorilla Ladders. Not automated, but it certainly makes it easy to reach top pantry shelves, change light bulbs, and smoke detector batteries.

Small victories.
d.r.a, not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor, you are forewarned.

Loik098
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Loik098 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:54 pm

PNW86 wrote: #2 zojirushi rice cooker - it is spendy, but it does any kind of rice, perfectly, every time. Requires no attention whatsoever
This rice cooker can also do your oatmeal. Set it the night before and save even more time in the morning.

There are suggestions across the interwebs on how to do it. And with the real thing....steel cut oats. Not the lame instant stuff.

Jimmie
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Jimmie » Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:05 pm

dratkinson wrote:Small victories.
That's what life is all about.

denovo
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by denovo » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:33 pm

Some ways to save time.

1. Set all your bills to autopay to Credit cards or through your checking account (when possible) and paperless. Have all your credit cards have the same due date and then just spend a few minutes on the same day every month reviewing all your transactions and paying your credit cards

2. Keep a list of what you want to cook every week and stick to it and do all your weekly grocery and housegoods shooping one day a week including doing prescription pickups. As much as possible, do price shopping and delivery online to skip going to stores.

3. Shop for clothes only twice a year, once per before winter, and once before summer.

4. Have a maid clean your house and do your laundry once week.

5. Waste all the extra time you saved on bogleheads.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

tup45678
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by tup45678 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:35 pm

What a great idea for a thread. I've spent a lot of time thinking about and setting up systems for myself to make my life easier and to save me time. Here are the ones I've found most helpful:

1. Amazon Prime/Prime Now: Having the ability to shop for nearly anything and have it delivered either same-day or next-day is incredible.

2. Instacart/Grocery delivery: We get our groceries delivered via Instacart around two times per week. The service isn't foolproof and we still have to go to the store occasionally, but it still saves us quite a bit of time.

3. Weekly cleaning service: We're naturally messy and don't like to clean, so this is key for us.

4. Doggie daycare/dog walker: We send our dog to doggie daycare a few times per week so he can socialize and get exercise, and on days when he doesn't go and we're not around, we have a dog walker come take him for a couple of walks. He also gets groomed at his doggie daycare facility, so that saves us a trip every month as well. Back when we lived in the city, our doggie daycare had a key to our apartment and would come pick him up in the morning and drop off a very tired but happy pup in the evening without us having to be around!

5. Personal trainer: I work out three times per week for an hour with a personal trainer. I don't have to think about planning my own workouts or anything, I just have to show up and having to be accountable to my trainer means I can't cancel.

6. Property tax appeals: The property taxes of my house are way too high given comparable properties. I use a service that charges a flat fee and will appeal every possible time they're allowed in a given year without me lifting a finger (there are two possible appeal windows in my county). In the first year I used them, I made back 60 times the money I paid them based on my property tax reduction (and that's just counting my first year property tax bill!).

7. Healthy meal delivery: I use a service that makes me 3 meals per day plus 2 snacks according to my desired caloric goal, macronutrient targets, and dietary preferences. I put a bag out at night and in the morning I have the day's food, freshly prepared and delicious. It feels like magic.

8. Car service pickup/dropoff: Whenever my car needs servicing, someone from the dealership will come pick up my car and leave me with a loaner. When my car is ready, they will come drop off the car and pick up the loaner. When I bought my car, I had 3 dealerships all with roughly the same price. I told them I needed pickup and dropoff if they wanted the sale, and one agreed which is who I went with.

9. Interior designer: When we bought our house, we had no idea how to furnish it to our taste, and even if we did, we didn't have the appetite to take on that project. Our designers have done a better job than we ever could have and saved us a whole bunch of time in the process.

10. Evernote: Evernote is a software program that I use as my digital brain. It's available on every device and I use it to store any information that could possibly be useful in the future. For instance, whenever I put something I won't need to use for a while in a random drawer somewhere, I jot a quick note down about it in Evernote so I can quickly find out where I put it when I'm looking for it in the future.

11. Nanny: We have an absolutely wonderful nanny who not only provides exceptional childcare, but goes above and beyond to tidy up and organize when our little one is sleeping.

12. Online billpay: If you're still writing checks manually, you can save time by using your bank's billpay feature.

13. Landscaping/snow shoveling service: Self-explanatory.

14. Concierge doctor: Much more availability and zero time spent waiting in a waiting room.

steve88
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by steve88 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:54 pm

abonder wrote:Our zojirushi handles brown rice well but the cook time is significantly longer...more like 1.5-2 hours for several cups vs. half the time for white rice. But it cooks the rice consistently and has worked flawlessly for several years. Definitely a big step up from our prior rice maker.
My brown rice cooks the same time as my white rice.

Loik098
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Loik098 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:14 pm

.....
Last edited by Loik098 on Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

PNW86
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by PNW86 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:08 pm

mrsytf wrote:Does this rice cooker know how to handle brown rice? If so that would be a game changer.
Brown rice turns out perfect. Every time. And taste really good....nutty even. Yes, it does take a long time- I bet white rice takes about 40 minutes and brown around an hour and a half. But it is worth it- pour a glass of wine, prep your meal, and have an appetizer!

Loik098
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Loik098 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:33 pm

I'd bet a lot of people use the internet to waste time, rather than to save time:

1) Waste time scrolling to find news articles that interest them on the same sites (like Yahoo), over and over every day, rather than use news/feed aggregators.
2) Related to #1, waste time opening the same dozen or more tabs every day, one by one, rather than setting this up to be done automatically every morning using a browser extension.
3) Waste time scrolling through Facebook looking at things people they haven't talked to in 5 years are doing, rather than optimizing the feed to show only relevant people and/or news stories of interest.
4) Waste time checking bank account activity every day rather than sign up for transaction alerts
5) Waste time filling in each and every blank on a webform, rather than using an autofill manager or password manager.

When I mentioned this thread to my wife, she remarked that "I bet a lot of people try to save time in shopping, cooking, and raising their kids so that they can go and waste it on the internet."

I felt slightly guilty :oops:

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Watty
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Watty » Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:53 pm

Just FYI, for years I didn't realize that brown rice can be cooked very easily on the stove using the "excess water method" instead of the 2:1 water rice ratio that is often used.

You use a 5:1 water to rice ratio, lot it set at a low boil for 30 minutes, drain it, then let it sit(off the heat) for a few minutes to absorb any excess water.

If you are just cooking for a few people this works very well.

Rick Rock
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Rick Rock » Sun Apr 23, 2017 12:56 am

tup45678 wrote:What a great idea for a thread. I've spent a lot of time thinking about and setting up systems for myself to make my life easier and to save me time. Here are the ones I've found most helpful:

1. Amazon Prime/Prime Now: Having the ability to shop for nearly anything and have it delivered either same-day or next-day is incredible.

2. Instacart/Grocery delivery: We get our groceries delivered via Instacart around two times per week. The service isn't foolproof and we still have to go to the store occasionally, but it still saves us quite a bit of time.

3. Weekly cleaning service: We're naturally messy and don't like to clean, so this is key for us.

4. Doggie daycare/dog walker: We send our dog to doggie daycare a few times per week so he can socialize and get exercise, and on days when he doesn't go and we're not around, we have a dog walker come take him for a couple of walks. He also gets groomed at his doggie daycare facility, so that saves us a trip every month as well. Back when we lived in the city, our doggie daycare had a key to our apartment and would come pick him up in the morning and drop off a very tired but happy pup in the evening without us having to be around!

5. Personal trainer: I work out three times per week for an hour with a personal trainer. I don't have to think about planning my own workouts or anything, I just have to show up and having to be accountable to my trainer means I can't cancel.

6. Property tax appeals: The property taxes of my house are way too high given comparable properties. I use a service that charges a flat fee and will appeal every possible time they're allowed in a given year without me lifting a finger (there are two possible appeal windows in my county). In the first year I used them, I made back 60 times the money I paid them based on my property tax reduction (and that's just counting my first year property tax bill!).

7. Healthy meal delivery: I use a service that makes me 3 meals per day plus 2 snacks according to my desired caloric goal, macronutrient targets, and dietary preferences. I put a bag out at night and in the morning I have the day's food, freshly prepared and delicious. It feels like magic.

8. Car service pickup/dropoff: Whenever my car needs servicing, someone from the dealership will come pick up my car and leave me with a loaner. When my car is ready, they will come drop off the car and pick up the loaner. When I bought my car, I had 3 dealerships all with roughly the same price. I told them I needed pickup and dropoff if they wanted the sale, and one agreed which is who I went with.

9. Interior designer: When we bought our house, we had no idea how to furnish it to our taste, and even if we did, we didn't have the appetite to take on that project. Our designers have done a better job than we ever could have and saved us a whole bunch of time in the process.

10. Evernote: Evernote is a software program that I use as my digital brain. It's available on every device and I use it to store any information that could possibly be useful in the future. For instance, whenever I put something I won't need to use for a while in a random drawer somewhere, I jot a quick note down about it in Evernote so I can quickly find out where I put it when I'm looking for it in the future.

11. Nanny: We have an absolutely wonderful nanny who not only provides exceptional childcare, but goes above and beyond to tidy up and organize when our little one is sleeping.

12. Online billpay: If you're still writing checks manually, you can save time by using your bank's billpay feature.

13. Landscaping/snow shoveling service: Self-explanatory.

14. Concierge doctor: Much more availability and zero time spent waiting in a waiting room.

I'm genuinely impressed that you've been able to outsource so much. What does all of this cost on a monthly run rate basis?

mouses
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by mouses » Sun Apr 23, 2017 10:08 am

dratkinson wrote: Bright garage lights for unloading car. Wired garage door opener into garage lights (Radio Shack relay acts as a parallel wall switch). It's nice to come home to a brightly lit garage. And since the garage has multiple bright lights, whereas the garage door opener had only one relatively dim light, I now have several bright lights remaining if one burns out. And I can always get the car unloaded before the timer expires.
Please say more about this. I am tired of unloading my car in a dim cave. Thanks.

james865
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by james865 » Sun Apr 23, 2017 12:35 pm

Lastpass

I have complex passwords with 10+ characters composed of letters/numbers/symbols and I only have to remember 1 master password.

No more going through password resets.

fposte
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by fposte » Sun Apr 23, 2017 1:03 pm

Oh, I love this thread and hope I pick up some tips. It's interesting to think about the mental energy I've been able to minimize (probably to spend it on the internet, as noted, but still).

Programmable thermostat may go without saying these days, but I know many people without them.

Almost all of my main living area lights are on timers.

Photosensitive lights at doors of house.

I'll count Amazon Prime as well. I'm thinking about getting one of those gimmicky buttons for my yogurt starter.

Wish I had: remote controlled blinds. I love my triple-cell honeycombs, but I'd really like just to point and click.

Outsource: cleaning, lawn and snow removal, clothing alterations.

Vanguard Fan 1367
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 » Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:30 pm

I used to take the investment advice to have a 5 to 10 stock basket and keep an eye on them.

I appreciate the Bogle advice to buy the market. It saves me time and worry about what might happen to any individual stock.

I enjoy the Roomba 850. The cheaper older Roomba wasn't as nice.

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rcjchicity
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by rcjchicity » Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:39 pm

mrsytf wrote:Does this rice cooker know how to handle brown rice? If so that would be a game changer.
Before we got ours, brown rice was either mush or crispy.

Always perfect now. We set it up in the morning on the timer before going to work so it's ready by dinner time (it plays Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when you set it. My toddler appreciates that part :D )

tup45678
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by tup45678 » Sun Apr 23, 2017 4:39 pm

Rick Rock wrote:
I'm genuinely impressed that you've been able to outsource so much. What does all of this cost on a monthly run rate basis?
I don't know the exact number that would encapsulate all of the costs involved, but the services obviously range from the free/nearly-free (Amazon Prime, car service delivery/pickup, etc.) to the expensive (nanny, personal trainer). I've found the best way to approach these things is to test and experiment with something that you think might be helpful for a trial period and understand that you don't have to commit to anything long-term.

Some things that I was skeptical of I ended up loving (personal trainer being the big example) and some that I thought I would love I didn't like at all (personal chef was too expensive and too much of a headache). While any given experiment may turn out to be a dud, this process of thinking of things to try and then giving them a shot has improved my life immeasurably over the years.

veindoc
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by veindoc » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:13 pm

You use a 5:1 water to rice ratio, lot it set at a low boil for 30 minutes, drain it, then let it sit(off the heat) for a few minutes to absorb any excess water.
Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? But I have yet to get it right. And I have tried multiple multiple combos, recipes, heat settings etc. over at least two years. It's vexing I tell you. I start to doubt myself - maybe I'm not as smart as I think I am, Was my family lying to me when they said the chicken was tasty? Do these pants and shoes really match? HOW CAN THIS BE SO DIFFICULT!?!!! It's just rice for crying out loud.

rebellovw
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by rebellovw » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:17 pm

PNW86 wrote:As I get a little older, I realize that time is the one thing precious resource we can't get enough of. I wanted to share the things that save me significant amount of time and hear from others as well.

#1 Roomba 960
If you had a roomba 5 or 10 years ago, or never have tried one, check out the 960. I have a 3 year old home with no pets and no kids, and this thing picks up an amazing amount of dust, dirt, hair etc. we run it 2-3x per week. It is so satisfying to be cleaning the house while a robot vacuums for me. It is even more satisfying to be cooking a healthy meal or watching tv while it vacuums for me!

#2 zojirushi rice cooker - it is spendy, but it does any kind of rice, perfectly, every time. Requires no attention whatsoever
.
Funny - I have the Neato D5 Connected robot vacuum - love it. Everyday it is full even when the house appears clean.

And - I have the zojirushi breadmachine - that thing rocks - I use it all the time.

Jimmie
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Jimmie » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:25 pm

rebellovw wrote:Funny - I have the Neato D5 Connected robot vacuum - love it. Everyday it is full even when the house appears clean.
The reason the house appears clean is because the robot vacuum is full. :oops:

mouses
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by mouses » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:56 pm

Jimmie wrote:
rebellovw wrote:Funny - I have the Neato D5 Connected robot vacuum - love it. Everyday it is full even when the house appears clean.
The reason the house appears clean is because the robot vacuum is full. :oops:
:D :D :D :D

frequentT
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by frequentT » Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:13 pm

Yes, love this thread!

Additional ideas:

1. Zojirushi water boiler: 4 liters ready all day, 3 temps, 175, 195, 205 + overnight time
2. PillPack mailorder pharmacy: unit dose packs all meds, vits, supplements, for time of day you prefer. Functions as 21st century full service Pharm. works with most insurance plans

Gardener
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Gardener » Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:45 pm

Jimmie wrote:
rebellovw wrote:Funny - I have the Neato D5 Connected robot vacuum - love it. Everyday it is full even when the house appears clean.
The reason the house appears clean is because the robot vacuum is full. :oops:
I don't know why, but this cracked me up!

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cockersx3
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by cockersx3 » Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:11 pm

Love this thread! If nothing else, I've learned that brown rice is apparently hard to cook. Yet another reason to be thankful for Bogleheads LOL!! :P

We got a Keurig last year and cannot imagine life before it. Nice to be able to slap a K-cup into the machine and get hot coffee within 60 sec of getting down to the kitchen, rather than setting up the coffeepot and waiting for it to brew. I know it costs more money, but in my opinion it's worth it!! :D

Also I think paying all of my bills online is a huge timesaver - much faster than sitting down and writing a bunch of checks every month, then writing out all of the envelopes to mail them out. (Of course I don't have many regular monthly expenses anymore after paying down debt, so that's another way to save time I guess).

We have started paying someone to come out once a year and do major landscaping and putting down mulch. While this does cost money, it saves me multiple weekends of time that I'd rather spend with my family. I realize that this isn't very Boglehead-ish, but we still do it anyway despite it being a luxury.

Another time-saver that we've gotten some value from is setting up a family calendar on Google to which everyone in my family is linked. We add all of our family travel , kids after school activities, doctoirs appointments, etc to it. It's nice to be able to know at a glance if you are busy when asked to make a commitment to something. I've also finally figured out how to overlay this on my Outlook calendar at work - so I can make sure that I'm not travelling or working late or something when something important is going on at home.

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dratkinson
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by dratkinson » Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:40 pm

mouses wrote:
dratkinson wrote: Bright garage lights for unloading car. Wired garage door opener into garage lights (Radio Shack relay acts as a parallel wall switch). It's nice to come home to a brightly lit garage. And since the garage has multiple bright lights, whereas the garage door opener had only one relatively dim light, I now have several bright lights remaining if one burns out. And I can always get the car unloaded before the timer expires.
Please say more about this. I am tired of unloading my car in a dim cave. Thanks.
What I have today is the result of a step-wise progression from what I inherited when I bought the house.



Brighter garage lights.

Originally my 2-car bay had 2 ceramic bases for light bulbs (one bulb over the center of each vehicle). Tried to make them brighter by using larger bulbs (incandescent, CFL, round-tube screw-in fluorescent,...). Nothing worked well; two small screw-in fixtures were just not enough. But thought I'd be happy if I had 2x 4' 2-bulb fluorescent fixtures over each car.

Solved my brightness problem by swapping the 2 ceramic bases for 2 duplex outlets. (HD/Lowes sells a round cover containing a duplex outlet that will replace the round light bulb base.)

Installed 4x 4'-fluorescent fixtures to solve my brightness problem. Each fixture has 3-prong plug that plugs into one of the 2 duplex outlets. Each fixture comes with chains and I used screw hooks through ceiling joists to attach lights to ceiling.

So I now have 4x 2-tube fixtures = 8x 40w fluorescent tubes = 320w total = plenty of light.



Switch bright garage lights from garage door opener.

I needed to build a switch that paralleled my original garage light switch, but was controlled from garage door opener light bulb socket.

My garage lights and garage door opener are on the same circuit breaker. Meaning, as long as I watched polarities, I should encounter no problems.
--My garage door opener is plugged into an unstitched duplex outlet, leaving one outlet open
--My garage lights are now plugged into switched duplex outlets, all outlets are used, meaning I need another outlet opening.


I built my switching device to be removable. Meaning I can take it with me to my next home.
Materials list.
--4x4 blue electrical workbox. (HD/Lowes)
--4x4 metal workbox cover. (HD/Lowes)
--Radio shack relay socket.
--Radio shack DPDT 120v relay.
--Post lamp light sensor. (HD/Lowes)
--2x 3-prong plug and wire. Polarized grounded plugs (thrift store find---old computer power cables).
--Screw-in outlet adapter (polarized non-grounded, converts light bulb socket into electrical outlet). (HD/Lowes)
--2-prong plug, inline switch, and wire. Polarized non-grounded plug and length of wire (scavenged from something).
--Plug-in polarized grounded 3-way electrical outlet adapter. (HD/Lowes)
--Miscellaneous: 14-gauge job wire (had), wire nuts (had).


First iteration.

Everything is built into/on 4x4 blue electrical workbox.
--Blue 4x4 electrical workbox screwed to 2x4 wooden ceiling brace holding garage door opener.
--4x4 metal workbox cover protects wiring inside. Radio shack relay socket mounted through metal cover. Hole through metal cover for relay socket made with starting drill bit, then finished with jigsaw.
--Radio Shack relay socket. Wiring pigtails soldered to relay socket terminal.
--Radio Shack relay mounted to relay socket.
--Screw-in outlet adapter, screws into garage door opener light bulb socket.
--2-prong plug, plugs into screw-in outlet adapter, and takes current from garage door opener light bulb socket to power 120v relay coil.
--2x 3-prong plugs wired (black wires only) through one relay switch to jump power from garage door opener unused outlet, to one outlet powering garage lights. All 3-prong plugs' white (neutral) wires connected using wire nuts inside blue workbox. All 3-prong plugs' bare/ground wires connected using wire nuts inside workbox.
--Plug-in polarized grounded 3-way electrical outlet adapter, plugged into one garage lighting outlet, to supply extra outlet as all garage light duplex outlets were being used by fluorescent fixtures.

Since I knew I didn’t want garage lights on during Miller moth season, inline light switch (black wire only) in wire between garage door opener (2-prong plug) and relay coil prevents this. Extended that wire to allow it to droop and hang lower enough that I can reach up and turn off inline switch.

In operation, above turns on garage lights in parallel with wall switch. Garage opener timer expires in ~5 minutes. Plenty of light/time to unload car.



Second iteration.

Turns out I didn't want the garage lights on every time the garage door is opened. Don't need extra light when it's bright out. So this was added because I could.

Added a post lamp sensor. Post lamp sensor is wired into relay's coil circuit, so garage lights will not come on unless it's dark. Post lamp sensor is mounted through hole drilled into metal cover over blue electrical workbox. To wire it, follow instructions that come with sensor.

N.B. Must wire second relay switch to jump around (short) light sensor. Why? To bypass sensor to make relay self-latching. If not, the light sensor will allow power to relay’s coil when it's dark, but remove power when the garage lights come on. Meaning you will get flashing garage lights. Most annoying.


Since everything is built into the electrical workbox and connected with only 3 plugs (to: outlet adapter screwed into garage door opener light bulb socket, duplex outlet powering garage door opener, one duplex outlet powering garage lights), it takes ~1 min to unplug everything and remove. Meaning I can take it with me when I move. (Yes, I know about suicide plugs.)



Think that's everything. All the parts are sold by HD/Lowes/ACE/Radio Shack.

PM if you have any questions.
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TxAg
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by TxAg » Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:04 pm

Hmmm...this is making me think. I don't have anything in automation. I actually dislike bill pay automation. I do have email reminders set, though.



I'll go ahead and suggest these time savers:

If I go for a jog, I put one of the kids in the stroller. Makes for added resistance and it entertains them.

I buy things on Amazon instead of going to the store.

Bought a smaller house with a smaller yard (1670 sf on 1/5 acre). I do all yard work myself. I enjoy it, and it's quick.

Kids take a bath together.

If I have errands to run, I go on the way to/home from work. I'm lucky to have a flexible schedule.

radiowave
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by radiowave » Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:38 pm

A quick note about some home automation features you can build in.

- lighting: dimmers in family room (2 lamps), kitchen, hallway, bedroom and garage. I have them set up so I can push one button and have any lights in the house come on/dim, etc.

- automated garage lights, like the fellow above, I have fluorescents in the garage tied to a PIR (infrared motion detector ) and the lights come on when I open the garage door and shut off after 10 min of inactivity. I have an override button in the garage that leaves them on when I'm working

- 6/8 button switches in kitchen and family room that control all of the lights and a 6 button on my night table to turn off lights downstairs.

- I can automate lights when away to look like the house is occupied.

Future plans: integrate into security system; link to iPhone; etc.

I also have 4 zone baseboard heating set up on 4 separate automated thermostats, so I can program for different times of the day, away setting, etc. That alone probably paid the cost of the thermostats in a year.
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rebellovw
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by rebellovw » Sun Apr 23, 2017 10:25 pm

Jimmie wrote:
rebellovw wrote:Funny - I have the Neato D5 Connected robot vacuum - love it. Everyday it is full even when the house appears clean.
The reason the house appears clean is because the robot vacuum is full. :oops:
[(removed) --admin LadyGeek] - my point is that no matter house clean the house appears - it always fills up. It runs 7 days a week and is always full.

Slacker
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Slacker » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:56 am

Loik098 wrote:
PNW86 wrote: #2 zojirushi rice cooker - it is spendy, but it does any kind of rice, perfectly, every time. Requires no attention whatsoever
This rice cooker can also do your oatmeal. Set it the night before and save even more time in the morning.

There are suggestions across the interwebs on how to do it. And with the real thing....steel cut oats. Not the lame instant stuff.
I'm going to have to look up those suggestions. Every single time I try to cook steel cut oats in the rice cooker the darn thing overflows blowing watery oat slime over the entire rice cooker and counter (10 cup capacity rice cooker and trying to cook 4 servings of steel cut oats or 1 cup of oats).

Dottie57
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Dottie57 » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:36 am

Good Listener wrote:Regarding your pressure cooker, I microwave oatmeal everyday. The real kind. 2 minutes at level 5. Then I have nothing to clean except the plate. And for beans, there are great prepared canned beans (I use the no salt varieties). They take no time at all and no cooker to clean either.

Works great. +1

livesoft
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by livesoft » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:12 am

mouses wrote:
dratkinson wrote: Bright garage lights for unloading car. Wired garage door opener into garage lights (Radio Shack relay acts as a parallel wall switch). It's nice to come home to a brightly lit garage. And since the garage has multiple bright lights, whereas the garage door opener had only one relatively dim light, I now have several bright lights remaining if one burns out. And I can always get the car unloaded before the timer expires.
Please say more about this. I am tired of unloading my car in a dim cave. Thanks.
Our garage door opener has a light and an outlet, so just plugging in a fluorescent fixture to that outlet works for us.
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livesoft
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by livesoft » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:16 am

I saw lots of mentions about oatmeal and then a mention about a personal trainer. I have combined the two. Yep, oatmeal is my personal trainer: viewtopic.php?p=2242092#p2242092

That really saves time.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by TomatoTomahto » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:30 am

Loik098 wrote:
PNW86 wrote: #2 zojirushi rice cooker - it is spendy, but it does any kind of rice, perfectly, every time. Requires no attention whatsoever
This rice cooker can also do your oatmeal. Set it the night before and save even more time in the morning.

There are suggestions across the interwebs on how to do it. And with the real thing....steel cut oats. Not the lame instant stuff.
I have recently preferred Flahavans to McCann's Steel Cut oats, but YMMV. 2.5 parts spring water (or filtered or good tap) to 1 part oatmeal. Use porridge setting. I have not experimented with Instant Pot, but I'm perfectly happy with the Zojirushi results, so no need but acknowledge that it might work just as well.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by TomatoTomahto » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:33 am

Slacker wrote:
Loik098 wrote:
PNW86 wrote: #2 zojirushi rice cooker - it is spendy, but it does any kind of rice, perfectly, every time. Requires no attention whatsoever
This rice cooker can also do your oatmeal. Set it the night before and save even more time in the morning.

There are suggestions across the interwebs on how to do it. And with the real thing....steel cut oats. Not the lame instant stuff.
I'm going to have to look up those suggestions. Every single time I try to cook steel cut oats in the rice cooker the darn thing overflows blowing watery oat slime over the entire rice cooker and counter (10 cup capacity rice cooker and trying to cook 4 servings of steel cut oats or 1 cup of oats).
Zojirushi? Porridge setting? 2.5 parts water to 1 part oatmeal? I have used mine roughly 1000x without once having an issue.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by TomatoTomahto » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:42 am

cockersx3 wrote:Also I think paying all of my bills online is a huge timesaver - much faster than sitting down and writing a bunch of checks every month, then writing out all of the envelopes to mail them out. (Of course I don't have many regular monthly expenses anymore after paying down debt, so that's another way to save time I guess).
My time saving and money making arrangement is:
Mobil/Exxon magic wand connected to PenFed credit card for "cash price" and 5% rebate
American Express preferred Cash Card ($95 fee) for 6% rebate on first $6000 of groceries
Amazon Store Card for 5% rebate on Amazon purchases. I shop almost 100% on Amazon for anything they carry
Citi Double Cash Back for everything else 2% rebate

All of the credit cards are set to autopay from BoA checking account. No muss, no fuss. Some of the cards require periodic harvesting of the rebates, but many just apply the rebate against the balance automatically. I download everything to Quicken. I tell DW that things should run themselves for at least 6 months after I die.

So, I make around $2500/year on the rebates and save lots of time. Total time investment per year in harvesting is probably 5-10 minutes. Best hourly rate I've ever had.
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anonenigma
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by anonenigma » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:01 am

abonder wrote:Our zojirushi handles brown rice well but the cook time is significantly longer...more like 1.5-2 hours for several cups vs. half the time for white rice. But it cooks the rice consistently and has worked flawlessly for several years. Definitely a big step up from our prior rice maker.
Not all Zojirushi rice cookers have a setting for brown rice. Shop carefully.

Valence
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by Valence » Tue May 09, 2017 9:12 am

dratkinson wrote:Robot vacuum. Wanted to buy one. Thought I had a plan to buy a Roomba. Had a Bed Bath & Beyond 20% coupon, but the small print taketh it away. Still looking. Have learned that some newer robot vacuums are now self-emptying...
I used a 20% off entire purchase BBB coupon yesterday that specifically stated it excludes roomba 800 and 900 vacuums for a roomba 960. No questions asked. I did purchase some curtains as well, so I don't know if it makes a difference having more than just the roomba on the receipt. Seems pretty cool so far, it is currently recharging half way through a run in which it completely filled the bin. Floors are already more enjoyable under bare feet since we have 3 cats.

BW1985
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by BW1985 » Tue May 09, 2017 9:34 am

Valence wrote:
dratkinson wrote:Robot vacuum. Wanted to buy one. Thought I had a plan to buy a Roomba. Had a Bed Bath & Beyond 20% coupon, but the small print taketh it away. Still looking. Have learned that some newer robot vacuums are now self-emptying...
I used a 20% off entire purchase BBB coupon yesterday that specifically stated it excludes roomba 800 and 900 vacuums for a roomba 960. No questions asked. I did purchase some curtains as well, so I don't know if it makes a difference having more than just the roomba on the receipt. Seems pretty cool so far, it is currently recharging half way through a run in which it completely filled the bin. Floors are already more enjoyable under bare feet since we have 3 cats.
Cats riding the roomba and swatting the dog as they ride by it is possibly the funniest thing I've seen on the internet.
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bluebolt
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by bluebolt » Tue May 09, 2017 8:30 pm

Home automation:
1) Basement/stairway lights turn on automatically when I get home, so I always walk into a lit basement/stairway from the garage.
2) Outdoor lights turn on automatically at sunset and off at midnight
3) Irrigation controller adjusts automatically based on rain/temperature. I just have to set it and forget it.
4) Lights & TV automatically turn off at 1am in case we left anything on
5) Amazon Echo ties everything together so I can control everything by voice
6) Receive push notification if the garage door stays open for more than a few minutes
7) Wifi thermostat adjusts temperature automatically on a schedule, but can be overridden from my phone
8) Receive push notification when away from home if any doors are open or motion sensor goes off. Can view cameras remotely from my phone

I'm sure there's more, but that's what I can think of off the top of my head.

ETA: Smoke/CO alarm notifies my phone if it goes off. Leak sensors notify me of water near French drain, hot water heater & washing machine.

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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by curmudgeon » Tue May 09, 2017 8:55 pm

mouses wrote:
dratkinson wrote: Bright garage lights for unloading car. Wired garage door opener into garage lights (Radio Shack relay acts as a parallel wall switch). It's nice to come home to a brightly lit garage. And since the garage has multiple bright lights, whereas the garage door opener had only one relatively dim light, I now have several bright lights remaining if one burns out. And I can always get the car unloaded before the timer expires.
Please say more about this. I am tired of unloading my car in a dim cave. Thanks.
The simple path on this is to just plug in a light with motion sensor built in for the garage. Costco has a nice 4' LED utility light for about $40 that does this (but it is very sensitive, can get triggered through walls/ceiling). The timesaver for me was to just buy several of these, hang them, and plug them in to unswitched outlets rather than bothering to run additional wiring.

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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by madbrain » Tue May 09, 2017 11:38 pm

PNW86 wrote: #2 zojirushi rice cooker - it is spendy, but it does any kind of rice, perfectly, every time. Requires no attention whatsoever

#3 instant pot - we pressure cook oatmeal in this every day for breakfast. In 1 minute of cooking time it is done, and no need to watch the stove. It also pressure cooks beans, and we use it as a slow cooker for other recipes.
A pressure cooker is much better for cooking rice in my experience. On my induction cooktop, with the pressure cooker, I can cook rice in 5 minutes, vs 45 minutes in the rice cooker. I didn't have the patience for the rice cooker, and it went back to Costco. My rice tastes better in the pressure cooker, too.

madbrain
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by madbrain » Tue May 09, 2017 11:42 pm

BW1985 wrote: Cats riding the roomba and swatting the dog as they ride by it is possibly the funniest thing I've seen on the internet.
One of my cats pushed the Roomba down the stairs on the first day, and it stopped working. The store took it back, though.

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dratkinson
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by dratkinson » Wed May 10, 2017 5:14 am

curmudgeon wrote:
mouses wrote:
dratkinson wrote: Bright garage lights for unloading car. Wired garage door opener into garage lights (Radio Shack relay acts as a parallel wall switch). It's nice to come home to a brightly lit garage. And since the garage has multiple bright lights, whereas the garage door opener had only one relatively dim light, I now have several bright lights remaining if one burns out. And I can always get the car unloaded before the timer expires.
Please say more about this. I am tired of unloading my car in a dim cave. Thanks.
The simple path on this is to just plug in a light with motion sensor built in for the garage. Costco has a nice 4' LED utility light for about $40 that does this (but it is very sensitive, can get triggered through walls/ceiling). The timesaver for me was to just buy several of these, hang them, and plug them in to unswitched outlets rather than bothering to run additional wiring.
Agree that would have been the simplest route. Thought about it. But didn't want lights coming on just because I walked into the garage. Only wanted them to come on due to garage door opening.



I do have another exterior lighting project. I want my front house soffit lights to come on when I come home (a wash of lights across blond brick front of home) to compliment my fully illuminated garage.

I've read the instructions for motion sensors and could convert my lights to run off one. But. If I want my lights to come on and stay on, the instructions say I must have the motion sensor on for 1 minute, then turn it off for a second, then quickly back on, to make lights stay on. And once I turn them on, turning them off and back to automatic motion sensing is another switching issue. The wiring retrofit would be be more difficult (must get inside wall switch bay to run new wires, two electrician for ~2-hrs), plus this auto-on-off-auto switching issue to use the device feature. So...

I plan to wire the motion sensor in parallel with my existing switch (easy to remove a soffit fixture and attach to those wires). Then if motion sensor detects me coming home... great, it does it's thing. And if I want to turn on my front lights from inside the house... great, as normal. I can do this project.

It's on my list of things to do. No rush.



Garage Butler to automatically close a garage door. For those who might forget to close a garage door, I recall researching devices (for my forgetful neighbor) that senses when a garage door has been open too long (~30-min, unless you press the "over ride" button) and will automatically close the garage door. The only device I remember was called a Garage Butler. I remember it was hardwired and AC powered. But others exist that are wireless and battery powered.

See: http://www.google.com/search?q=automati ... er+reviews
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bluebolt
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by bluebolt » Wed May 10, 2017 5:45 am

dratkinson wrote:Agree that would have been the simplest route. Thought about it. But didn't want lights coming on just because I walked into the garage. Only wanted them to come on due to garage door opening.



I do have another exterior lighting project. I want my front house soffit lights to come on when I come home (a wash of lights across blond brick front of home) to compliment my fully illuminated garage.

I've read the instructions for motion sensors and could convert my lights to run off one. But. If I want my lights to come on and stay on, the instructions say I must have the motion sensor on for 1 minute, then turn it off for a second, then quickly back on, to make lights stay on. And once I turn them on, turning them off and back to automatic motion sensing is another switching issue. The wiring retrofit would be be more difficult (must get inside wall switch bay to run new wires, two electrician for ~2-hrs), plus this auto-on-off-auto switching issue to use the device feature. So...

I plan to wire the motion sensor in parallel with my existing switch (easy to remove a soffit fixture and attach to those wires). Then if motion sensor detects me coming home... great, it does it's thing. And if I want to turn on my front lights from inside the house... great, as normal. I can do this project.

It's on my list of things to do. No rush.



Garage Butler to automatically close a garage door. For those who might forget to close a garage door, I recall researching devices (for my forgetful neighbor) that senses when a garage door has been open too long (~30-min, unless you press the "over ride" button) and will automatically close the garage door. The only device I remember was called a Garage Butler. I remember it was hardwired and AC powered. But others exist that are wireless and battery powered.

See: http://www.google.com/search?q=automati ... er+reviews
All these things are pretty straightforward with a home automation system, lights, motion sensors & a garage door controller.

ljb1234
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by ljb1234 » Wed May 10, 2017 6:10 am

bluebolt wrote:

Garage Butler to automatically close a garage door. For those who might forget to close a garage door, I recall researching devices (for my forgetful neighbor) that senses when a garage door has been open too long (~30-min, unless you press the "over ride" button) and will automatically close the garage door. The only device I remember was called a Garage Butler. I remember it was hardwired and AC powered. But others exist that are wireless and battery powered.

See: http://www.google.com/search?q=automati ... er+reviews

All these things are pretty straightforward with a home automation system, lights, motion sensors & a garage door controller.
I designed and built my own garage door closer. Also automated many light switches with motion sensors. I'm too lazy to turn off lights, I guess.

Also, have lawn service, snow plow, etc.

I like the idea of auto service pick up and delivery. Will have to look into it next time.

If you have the money, go for it!

BW1985
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Re: Time savers - life on automation

Post by BW1985 » Wed May 10, 2017 8:41 am

We also have lawn service, snow removal but it's included in our townhome's HOA fee. Too busy renovating inside to have to worry about outside maintenance anyways.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

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