Category Archives: General

The category for uncategorized stuff. ;)

Becoming Socially Connected

I’m making the leap into the world of social media.  I’ve been blogging for a really long time now (I’ve got 8 years worth of posts in the archives) but I never really latched onto the social media push that has happened in the last year or so. A lot of that probably is due to the fact most of my friends aren’t into it either.

Facebook, Twitter and

Facebook, Twitter and

So, here’s my stab at becoming more social!  You can follow me on Twitter or you can follow me on  If you are on Facebook, you should be able to track me down there too (well, assuming you are someone I know in real life otherwise I’m probably not going to add you to my friends list.  Sorry.).

I can’t guarantee you’re going to see anything super interesting if you follow me.  At the moment I’ve really only tied all three of the above apps into this blog.  You should see updates when ever I make a new post here. If you follow me, I’ll probably follow you.  Then we can twitter or dent with each other and be like all the cool kids! :)

Poll: Electrical Outlets – Up or Down?

Here’s a quick poll for today. Which way should electrical outlets be oriented? Should they have the ground prong up?

Electrical outlet ground prong up

Electrical outlet ground prong up

Or should they have the ground prong down?

Electrical outlet ground prong down

Electrical outlet ground prong down

I don’t think there is anything in the electrical code that requires one orientation or the other. Maybe Allan will be able to clear that one up. :) (I can’t seem to find my copy of the “yellow book” right now or I’d confirm it on my own.)

I know which way I prefer and there definitely appears to be an expected orientation based on some of the products I’ve purchased over the years. For some reason, all of the outlets on the top floor of our house were put in opposite to everything on the main floor. I’m guessing that some electrician decided (s)he wanted to be different when the upstairs was remodeled.

Anyways, leave a comment and let me know what your opinion is – should the ground prong go up or down?

2006 Pontiac Vibe Gas Mileage Tracker

We’ve been tracking the gas consumption on our 2006 Pontiac Vibe since we bought it over 3 years ago. It’s now a habit for both of us to write the distance traveled on each gas receipt we get. The only problem is I seem to forget to collect all those receipts on a timely basis so they pile up in the console of the Vibe until we run out of space.

I finally got around to spending some time with all of the gas receipts we’ve been collecting for the last year or so. I’ve pulled it all together into a Google Doc which is magically translated into the interactive chart you should see below. Enjoy!

How will this help anyone?

The chart gets magically updated any time I get around to adding more data into the associated Google Docs spreadsheet. This will allow you to see real world gas mileage numbers for a 2006 Pontiac Vibe. To be able to make any sense out of what you’re seeing, you’ll need to know some basic information:

  1. The car is a normal 1.8L automatic transmission Vibe.
  2. It has air conditioning and cruise control, both of which are used relatively often (we don’t avoid using either for any reason).
  3. The car is typically driven over 100km/day on secondary highways where the average speed is a pretty constant 90km/h.
  4. The car averages roughly 80% highway and 20% city driving, based on the definition of “highway” driving.
  5. We put winter tires on the car. Usually we try to go as late as we can before putting them on (late November or early December most years) and I’ll take them off as soon as the night time temperature stay above freezing.

Is this gas mileage typical for the Pontiac Vibe?

That’s sort of a tough question. Based on the website, the 2006 Pontiac Vibe gets 9.4L/100km city and 7.6L/100km highway (revised numbers). We’re averaging closer to the combined number of 8.7L/100km for the year.

If I can figure out how, I’ll get this page to live update the high/low gas mileage as well as the running average for some arbitrary period of time.

Polaris High Efficiency Gas Hot Water Tank – Part 6

Our Polaris High Efficiency gas hot water tank is once again not working. It’s spewing out good old error code 1 – Pressure Switch Closed. Woo-hoo! I love when the pressure switch is closed because it means I get to call my buddies at Direct Energy and have them come out and order some new parts to try and fix the Polaris hot water tank for another few months. No, not really – this sucks.

Polaris gas hot water tank

Polaris gas hot water tank

I now have a stack of yellow receipts that I just leave on top of the hot water tank so each of the Direct Energy techs can see what they have done in the past. It’s sort of funny when one of the guys (Joel is his name) comes as he’s been here a few times. I almost feel like I should offer him a beer as he’s been to my house more often than some of my work buddies!

Anyways, Pressure Switch Closed is supposed to be a self clearing fault on the Polaris HWT but in my experience, it never clears itself. I’ve had numerous parts replaced – some have been done multiple times. I think the total value of replaced parts on the Polaris HWT is now over $4000. Yeah, I know, good thing I’m renting it and I don’t have to pay for those parts!

My “buddy” Joel tried a bunch of things the last time he was here (which was only last fall) and he had a couple new parts ordered and installed. I was hopeful at the time because both he and the second tech both seem to understand the Polaris HWT and it’s quirks. Unfortunately, they also both said that most people in the area with the Polaris hot water tanks are now pulling them out because they suck so badly. That really is unfortunate because the tank really does work well. It’s just too bad that they are not more reliable. Well, maybe they are reliable for some people but just not in this neck of the woods.

Updated: Yippee! I have hot water again. Interestingly, this time the tech didn’t actually replace anything. He spent some time going through the diagnosis and as soon as he hooked up his ammeter, the unit started to work. Bad ground! It turns out that who ever installed the unit (uh, Direct Energy guys installed it) had taken a short cut when hooking up the ground wires in the main power shut off switch. They just hand twisted the copper wires together with no marrettes! He cleaned that all up and the Polaris hot water heater is working fine now. Hopefully this will be the end of the 4 years of problems!