Free-For-All Friday 1/10/14

Feel free to use this post to make comments or ask questions about local issues not discussed here over the last week.

Comments close on Monday.

96 thoughts on “Free-For-All Friday 1/10/14”

  1. What’s up with Suzanna Hoff, she doesn’t return my phone calls, and every time I call, the cops show up at my house.

  2. I am amazed by how many homes and workplaces (not to mention FAVE) have had burst water pipes thanks to the deep freeze. We have escaped that fate but only through luck since we have the usual Decatur situation of open pipes in the old part earth, part concrete basement. The fact that the furnace and hot water heater are in the basement helps but as I crawled around looking for the shutoffs to the outdoor faucets, parts of the basement seemed pretty darn frozen to me. Any suggestions on reasonable measures to take to prevent problems in the future?

    How about a DM poll? How many of you had burst water pipes?

    1. The good news – no burst pipes.

      The bad news – found a downpipe from the shower that had been leaking for some time. I now know what my weekend project will be.

    2. No burst pipes, but our furnace overflow drain line froze solid shutting off the furnace until we could figure out what happened and reroute the drain inside. Greenwood Place had a broken water main on Wednesday that resulted in very low water pressure for much of that part of the neighborhood.

      1. We had the same issue, Hannah, and our fabulous neighbor fixed it for us in about 10 min – saving us hundreds of dollars! We are so thankful for our neighbor and have been counting our blessings.

    3. Short of wrapping the pipes with heating coils, which is rather involved and expensive for the few times such weather occurs here, the best thing you can do is a) wrap the exposed pipes with foam insulation, which is pretty inexpensive, and b) leave faucets at a very slow flow, a little beyond a drip, for the duration. The extra water used costs a lot less than the repairs.
      Also, make sure you know where the main water shutoff valve for your house is and exercise it a few time to make sure it’s operable and not stuck.

    4. Let outdoor spigots drip until temp is back above freezing. Open any cabinets that have plumbing so your heated air will reach them. If you think a pipe has started to freeze put a hair dryer on it until you can verify water is flowing well. That has saved me multiple times. There are other more expensive tactics………

    5. Well, if you’ve got money to burn (burn it under the faucet!), you can install freeze-proof faucets, but I believe those will run you in the neighborhood of +$300 a piece and are really overkill down here (but necessities up north).

      Most home improvement stores sell foam faucet covers that secure to the faucet knob handle with a rubber loop and are very easy to take on and off as needed. Cheap, too.

      But a very, very simple preventative measure, and one that we successfully used during this week, is to simply wrap your faucets securely with a few layers of bubble wrap (make sure to leave a little extra flush against the wall of the house) and secure with duct tape (preferably all-weather, as the regular stuff could potentially freeze and loose stickiness).

      1. I wrap my outside faucets with a layer of old towels, then bubblewrap for the insulation, cover it with a plastic bag (Ziplocs work great), then duct tape that sucker in place. Knock on wood-no broken pipes this time. It also helps to drain faucets early in winter so they are as dry as possible.

      2. I’ve never understood the advice to wrap your outside faucets during freezes. The faucets aren’t heated, so aren’t they just as cold as they would be if you left them unwrapped? I’ve never done it, and I’ve never had a problem.

    6. No burst pipes, thank heaven (due to our basement water heater/pipes set-up being much the same as yours, AHID). Our metal outdoor table did freeze to our back deck, however…

    7. We did–and had left the faucet to drip….luckily my spouse heard it burst and quickly shut off the water and the plumber arrived quickly…

      1. Most plumbers will tell you a drip is not sufficient – you need a very low flow of running water, both hot and cold.

    8. We didn’t, but three other units in the neighborhood did. Mostly people who were out of town and didn’t winterize.

  3. A review of the revamped Harbor Bar, from someone with middling taste and a lack of culinary sophistication. We went last Friday night, which happened to be the first night of the new menu.

    1. I miss the seafood options.

    2. They seem to be handling the transition well. Our server was already well-acquainted with the menu, and gave us several pointers.

    3. My french dip sandwich was surprisingly good. It seemed small when I got it, but it turned out to be just the right size and filled me up.

    4. Mrs. Books also enjoyed her fried green tomato sandwich. Not my thing, so I didn’t try it.

    5. We started out with the smoked gouda crab abd artichoke dip. It was heavy on the cheese, but very good. And the warm and soft pita wedges were a perfect complement to the dip.

    6. We considered getting a side of fries or salad, but found that we had plenty to eat.

    We will be back. The staff was great, the food was very good, and the prices reasonable. I hope they succeed in this new incarnation (although I still miss the seafood).

    1. I looked at the new menu, and was really disappointed at the lack of seafood options.
      I guess “seafood House” doesn’t get a lot of traction around here.
      As a Florida native, I have to wait to go back to Florida to get my seafood fix usually.

      MAR still has a good deal of seafood on the menu (if they can hang on, that is.)

      Time to resurrect the Steam House Lounge I say!

      1. Not that they’re necessarily comparable, but I recently read an article about the financial struggles of Red Lobster. The main point was that places that appeal to middle-class diners but are rather expensive, like Red Lobster, are struggling as middle class incomes decline, while higher end places are doing ok. I wonder if Harbor fits in this category; it’s not high end but seafood is too expensive for its demographic? Hence the change in menu?

        1. You are reminding me that us middle class folks are becoming poorer and going extinct as we evolve back into a two-class society–high class and not. Stop that.

        2. Could it be it’s failing not because of a deteriorating middle class, but because it’s gross, and the quality has been on a steady decline?

            1. I guess i just wanted to give humanity the benefit of the doubt in hopes that the general public’s tastes have evolved past overpriced restaurants serving subpar food…

              1. That fine establishment has amazing cheddar biscuits! One more negative word from you, and we be fightin’!

            2. Sears might could be included here, too. They may well be gone by next year. But in that case they have, by nearly all accounts, a terrible CEO.

        3. I found it interesting that the article title – you read it on CNN? – said middle class but then the entire article was actually about working class families and the changes they are facing. I have a feeling that CNN modified the title because a majority of Americans believe they are middle class. Of course, we could now argue definitions of middle and working class 🙂

          1. It’s like Lake Woebegon and all the children being above average! Everyone with a steady job, good benefits, good citizenship, and getting their children a good education likes to believe that they are middle class. But some say that it may not be so in terms of true opportunity and safety net.

          2. I don’t recall where I read it. But there was a slightly different article at CNN about Red Lobster that was in part about the struggles of the African-American middle class (or working class, if you prefer). That wasn’t the one I was thinking of, though.

        1. You’re right J_T – I lost track of them when they moved from Buckhead.
          I’m dating myself, but back in the day no one went to midtown unless it was 4 am.

          I never think of going to midtown for cheap(er) food.
          We do have a lot here to keep us full, but could use a seafood option.

  4. (Hobby-horse alert.) There was a four hour meeting about proposed new cities of Lakeside, Tucker, and Briarcliff. Patch has a story on it. For those who may have missed the news over the holidays, Decatur city officials have taken these proposals as an opportunity to push a third time for large annexation.

    Here’s the part of the Patch article relevant to City of Decatur residents: “Venet, when asked, said COBI (City of Briarcliff Initiative) had not talked with those cities before drawing their map. However, he said that there was room for compromise. He said COBI had met with Decatur’s mayor and city manager this week. “We are certainly in favor of annexation,” he said, but not “cherry picking,” in which cities only pursue commercial property and not residential areas. Venet repeatedly stressed that Briarcliff’s boundaries were designed to be “inclusive,” and give everyone the right to vote on cityhood.”

    So here we go again.The math, of course, hasn’t changed in the last year. As the mayor says, annexation would be a burden on city and school services — which, translated, means a cut in services or raise in taxes. And the math has repeatedly shown that the burden on CSD will GROW over time as the demographic in the annexed areas changes. So what again is the case for how annexation would benefit Decatur?

    1. As a person who thinks all children deserve a good education, including those who don’t live within our city’s borders, I think we ought to consider annexation as not just a financial burden, but a way to expand the richness of our city. I’m not convinced that there aren’t some efficiencies to be had in the system.

      1. Agree that all deserve a quality education. But we can only pay for so much. We are already paying what almost amounts to private school tuition (in the form of property taxes).

        1. I’m going to assume you haven’t seen private school tuition lately. It’s over 20k at most schools.

    2. Your points and concern are valid and grounded. Yet, I think the City Manager’s point a few weeks ago that “if we don’t do something (quickly), we’ll forever lose all of our options.” The biggest concern to me being the Briarcliff initiative looking to incorporate what remains of Dekalb btw here and Brookhaven). In the past we’ve had the luxury of being very deliberate and trying to optimize. Now, however, we need to act to ensure that our fate is not dictated by as-yet to be municipalities.

      If you haven’t seen it, take a look a the pitch during the petition segmen of the last City Commission meeting. He makes a good case for reaching out to and working with Druid Hills Civic association. Without “running the numbers,” this idea makes a lot of sense to me and hopefully we can show those neighbors that they will be better off being part of Decatur than Atlanta (or Briarcliff…)

        1. CSD could do so much with that science center- and maybe make money for out of district activities? And what a spot for Rec after school action.

    1. Cate LeBon made a few “Best of 2013” lists and I’d love to see her, but we have a date with Lera Lynn. The Attic’s bookings have really been great lately.

  5. Anyone ever have their roof cleaned, that is, stains cleaned off an asphalt shingled roof? How’d it go and who did you use? Thanks.

    1. And is it necessary? The last time we had our house pressure washed, the washers mentioned the unsightly blackish, moldy-looking stains on our roof and a price for adding roof cleaning. I thought “It’s a problem that my roof is dirty? Is this not a first world problem?” I think tree droppings and the general Atlantan humidity are the causes. Other than aesthetics, is there a reason to clean? Or is this a neighborhood no-no? Are we the only ones on the block who doesn’t care enough to clean their roof?

    1. Relatively inexpensive is, well, relative, but have seen the Ikea in a friends kitchen remodel and it looked great. They loved it too. The DOMSJÖ – Seems like they spent around $250.

    2. We bought our stainless farmhouse sink on ebay for less than $350 including shipping. I recommend trying there.

  6. I know we’ve talked cell phone service before, and recently, but it’s a fast-changing market and I’m still pondering. Any recent, firsthand experience with Consumer Cellular? Their price is supremely attractive (especially with the AARP discount). As I understand it, they use AT&T’s network and target a market segment that AT&T is happy to cede. Would love to hear from anyone who’s actually tried it.

  7. Another cell phone question: Anyone have experience with Cricket? We are considering getting the phone and service for my mother-in-law.

    1. For what it’s worth, Cricket is in the process of being acquired by AT&T, who are going to merge it with the Aio brand and the Aio brand is going away. Not sure how all that is going to work, since those two are incompatible networks (AT&T/Aio = GSM, Cricket = CDMA). A quick check indicates that Cricket customers are happily anticipating the takeover in hopes that their dismal customer service will improve.

      1. The problem of network incompatibility is going away, as all the 3G technologies (e.g. GSM, CDMA) are moving to LTE.

        1. Going to be awhile until Voice over LTE dominates… Even when it does, unless device manufacturers make phones that handle frequency bands that every carrier uses in the US, the phones won’t be 100% portable.

          Still a ways from an all IP network handling calls and data for both technology, spectrum and capital reasons. Your legacy technology still matters unfortunately.

          Pierce can tell us more — I got out of the telco infrastructure business awhile back.

    2. If you haven’t checked out Consumer Cellular for her, you might want to. They offer as much or as little voice and/or data as you want (and you can change up and down at will, with no penalty); limited selection of phones, but includes simple and big-button models or you can bring your own phone and use a Cons Cell SIM card (no extra charge). If I go w/ them, I’ll get same amount of voice & data I have now, for half or less than half what I now pay AT&T.

  8. Maybe I missed this somewhere…..
    Does anyone know the purpose of the new white polls (looks like PVC pipe) topped with what looks like a camera? They are attached to street signs. I saw one by the Zip car parking spot on Commerce in front of Taco Mac and one or two near the Commerce/Clairemont intersection.

    1. There was one of these camera-topped PVC poles on “Montgomery” by the Artisan as well. We were told that they were put up by an engineering firm to survey traffic flow, etc. on Commerce.

        1. That actually was the overwhelming opinion on our homeowners’ list. (J/K just in case anyone can’t hear my tone of voice over the internets….) 🙂

  9. I have a 5yo kindergartener who has never tried soccer. For those of you in the know, should we try the Decatur-Dekalb YMCA team or the mini-soccer with Decatur Active Living? Thanks!

    1. We used TYSA – it is about 15 minutes away, but great program that will actually instruct your little guy. The Y program, for us, was too chaotic and no training. My boy was teamed with boys who had played before and he was pretty much mowed over. If you don’t mind driving into Tucker, I highly recommend TYSA and its reasonable price. It’s also been around forever.

    2. Decatur Rec soccer is local and not highly competitive. Its a great start for first timers. No intense coaching, but that’s good for many kids.

      1. +1 for Decatur Rec for the little ones. The Y program is too crazy busy for the little ones. As they get older (and if your player wants to go on), it is better to go to a club team.

    3. I would highly recommend Decatur-Dekalb YMCA soccer. It’s a great program. My two sons are still in the program having started at ages 3 and 4. The added bonus is that if your child has a friend playing, they can be on the same team, all you have to do is request that when you sign up.

  10. Does anyone know of a shoe repair or leather repair place that can re-stitch a seam in leather boot? Thanks.

    1. In parking deck behind Parker’s. It is small and is not in same building but is facing the Greek restaurant back there. Warning: you must bring cash/check and pay before the service and it smells just awful. Like kimchi (oof), garlic breath and hide. I actually hold my breath. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?

    2. I’ve had good luck in this place too but I’ve never brought any real tough jobs, just minor shoe and purse repairs. They worked.

    3. I had a major hole in the back of a shoe several years ago (betcha don’t know how that got there ;))
      They fixed it and did a nice job. It wasn’t cheap, but neither were those shoes.

  11. There is a great shoe repair place in the strip mall on Lawrence Highway, across the highway from the Publix, caddy corner from N Dekalb Mall. There is literally almost nothing in this strip mall but this shoe place. They are cheap and can fix ANYTHING. They fixed a purse for me that 2 other places could not. I forget their name though.

    1. Bob’s Shoe Repair. They are great. Unfortunately, his stitching machine is broken and is about 100 years old so he is having trouble getting parts.

  12. Any recommendations for glass replacement for an antique? I inherited a display cabinet with three curved glass panels, one of which was broken in a move.

  13. I’m starting to do research about my house to learn more about its origins, time period (I’ve seen a couple different dates), etc. I think I know, but would like hard evidence and as much info as possible to put together in a binder.

    Does anyone have suggestions on which place can provide the most information so I don’t have to traipse from place to place figuring it out? I’ve seen options like the DeKalb History Center in the old courthouse and the county courthouse for the original building permit.

  14. Those are both good. Also, for dates 1940 and prior, check census records. Also, old city directories like those that aren’t published anymore and perhaps even Sanborn fire insurance maps – DHS can put you onto those.

    1. Awesome, I forgot about the Sanborn maps; those are fascinating. My house is definitely pre-1940. Thanks for the advice!

      1. Peter, this isn’t exactly what you are asking for, but I got inspired by your question and found this 1949 aerial map of downtown decatur:

        hope the link works because it is kinda cool. It barely predates my 1950 home. I find all the street changes very interesting. There are earlier aerials at this other link, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of where they were since the roads are not labeled:

        1. WP: Very cool, check out this map overlay of Atlanta and Decatur (1927-30 v. today) making the rounds on City-Data. Some interesting changes, like the Moreland-DeKalb Ave intersection, pre-Interstate downtown, etc..

          Mom: I’m on W Howard and have scoured the internet for a while, but a lot of it is focused more on Oakhurst and I haven’t found anything that goes back far enough, hence the need for hard documents and people like Paul Hudson, who will definitely be on my list. Thanks for the suggestion!

          1. Peter, I could spend hours looking at these old maps. Thanks for posting. I noticed the one I posted even has a good bit of Avondale in it, think the bottom corner catches the lake. Wish the map I found had a street name layer, I keep getting lost. It is interesting to see things like the Decatur housing project that is now in the process of being replaced. Looks to be brand new in the photo.

            Not sure what the tree canopy was in 1949. Lot of farmland and wide open yards in this 1949 shot. I know they say we are declining in Decatur, but from what point in time?

            1. Decatur’s citizens would have tarred and feathered the commission in 1949 for even considering this nonsense. In accordance with preserving the past, I recommend we continue the tradition…

              Let’s start by showing up to the meeting.

              I was born in Frankfurt/Main, Germany; a few years back, the regional commission wanted to build a new road south of the city to relieve traffic congestion. Not everyone was convinced, but the Greens adamantly opposed it, suggesting they build a rail line instead because it was more environmentally friendly. The road was defeated, so they started planning for a new rail line because it had support. How did the Greens respond? They opposed the rail line because it would require cutting down some trees… Eventually, the rail line was stalled and no one got anywhere. People like that will never be satisfied, even if they gain control over everything. They’re like the Lannisters in Game of Thrones.

              The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule. – H L Mencken

              Have a good day, everyone; the Westbrook Orange Bliss on tap at Leon’s is calling my name.

  15. Someone told me today that Decatur has been under a boil water advisory since this last Wednesday. Can anyone confirm this? Doesn’t it seem logical for this type of information to be announced via automated telephone calls like weather warnings?

  16. Hey, big shout out to the guy with three huge black dogs at the Glenlake dog park around lunchtime. Way to drive a half-dozen other folks and their pets away by refusing to control your animals, dude!

  17. Despite being first last week, or maybe because of it, I got no answers to this but I am trying again:
    Does anyone have a recommendation for a pool/spa service or repair company? We have found ourselves with a hot tub that needs a little work and we need a primer on ownership duties.

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