A busy day

Miss D. and I had an enjoyable day.  We chatted with Old NFO over breakfast, during which we (or, rather, he) discovered that his stove top isn’t all that reliable as far as holding a temperature was concerned.  Char-broiled bacon . . . er . . . yum?

After that it was all hands to unload firearms, ammunition and other bits and pieces.  NFO reckoned he probably had more ammo than we did, but as the boxes kept coming . . . and coming . . . and coming . . . he began to revise his opinion.  By the time we had it all neatly stacked, we agreed that between the two of us, he and I could comfortably outfit a platoon!  We’ll have to move it all again, of course, as soon as our new home is ready for occupation at the end of the month.

Next we headed into town, to look at laminate flooring, door locks, etc.  Miss D. and I agreed on half a dozen potential shades, and bought sample pieces to look at in the house itself.  Tomorrow morning we’ll be inspecting it at nine, before the closing at ten.  After that we’ll go back, brandishing our new keys, to take a close look at what has to be done before we move in.  That’ll include changing all the locks and the frequency/code of the garage door opener, putting flooring into the three bedrooms, repainting the master bathroom, and possibly replacing the external doors and their frames if they aren’t strong enough for my sense of security.  There are other things needing attention, but those are the priorities.

It’s going to be a busy few days ordering all that’s necessary, arranging to connect all the utilities, getting Internet service, talking to contractors, and getting all our duck in a row.  After that it’s back to Tennessee, where for the next couple of weeks I’ll be writing up a storm while also packing the bulk of our belongings for the move.  At the end of the month it’s hi-ho for Texas and our new home.

Thanks for being patient with what will probably be limited blogging over this week.  I’ll try to line up enough posts to keep you interested, while still allowing me the time I need to deal with everything on my plate.



  1. Have you shared your thoughts on suitable doors anywhere on here? I'm starting to look into it and would like to read your thoughts on door options.

  2. Pro tip: Probably too late for this, but….don't put your house in your own name or register your vehicles in your names. You're starting clean in a new state, so you have an opportunity to begin with a clean slate.

    Since you're moving to a new state you and Miss D will need new wills, and – check with an estate lawyer, YMMV – but a revocable trust is a much, much better estate management tool. Probably 2X the cost of a simple will, but much better (for one, trusts avoid probate, wills don't) and the trust (you'll probably each need one, I don't know about Texas law) should not be in your name. And, in some states wills must be state-registered but not trusts. Create an innocuous name – instead of the "Firstname Lastname Revocable Trust" call it the "Third Tuesday Revocable Trust" or the "Rural Acreage Development Revocable Trust." Be creative and as obtuse as possible. Numbers are acceptable – my attorney's trust name is all numerical, making it nearly impossible to identify ownership of assets. Your house, vehicles and financial accounts will all (or at least "should all") be in the name of the trust because it is the job of the trust to manage those assets through the named trustees in the trust (and, you should have several trustees, a primary (each other), and secondary, tertiary, and quarternary, in case one of the trustees is not available when needed. Changes to trusts are simple amendments, such as "This amendment of January 5, 2016 replaces all previous amendments to the XYZ Revocable Trust" and the previous amendment (or the trust document itself on th eappropriate page) is notated on the original document because that's the legal copy and is marked as such that either the amendment of April 15, 2014 is void and replaced by the January 5, 2016 amendment, or if it's a first amendment that there is an amendment affecting that section of the trust. Amendments need to be witnessed – your attorney's office can provide witnesses, it's best to not use your own – but it's a 5 minute thing, costing very little (my attorney charges $30 for an amendment; I could do my own, it's perfectly legal, but making sure the documentation has a long, thick and deep paper trail will prevent any future hassles executing the terms of the trust).

    Technically, when writing checks (does anyone do that anymore?) you should sign as "Firstname Lastname, Trustee" when issuing checks from the "397LXR Revocable Trust". If your pension checks show up as "Firstname Lastname" have a bank account in that name and just transfer funds into the trust checking account as necessary.

    Phones, cable, etc. accounts should be in a fictitious name, and the trust name (if sufficiently obscure) can work well for that, or use something entirely different (federal courts have ruled that using an alias is entirely legal as long as there is no intent to defraud). FYI, your landline, if you have one, can be billed to you personally (bad choice, but….) but listed in the phone book under an alias. An obscure, unpronouncable name consisting entirely of consonants seems to work well, and you'll never get a call from a collection agency looking for "Bob Smith." If Brett Favre can pronounce his name "Farve" then spelling "George" as "Znbrstppm" is fine, and you'll save the $3/month the phone bandits want for an unpublished number. (For further info, Google "GHOTI".)

    The listed trustees in you restate trust should be very well trusted individuals because, despite being restricted by the terms of the trust (which should be well detailed), they have the exact same authority over assets when operating as trustee after your death as you do when alive. Again, talk to a good estate attorney.

  3. @Chemechie – IMI (Israeli Military Industries) makes doors with bolt engagement on all four sides. They're extremely hard to find in the US (first place i saw them was in the Israeli Embassy in D.C.) but I have seen them occasionally elsewhere, and there are US companies making doors with 4-side bolt engagement.

    They're much spendy because they're usually 3 inch thick steel frames covered with substantial wood veneers (the tipoff is the handle is near the center of the door, and it's a lever, not a knob, plus at least 4 hinges, sometimes 5 because the door is heavy).

    You can do almost as well with a true solid door – not what Lowe's/Home Depot/Menard's/et al) sell as "solid core" – but a door that's entirely made from solid wood, all the way through; you'll find they're 2 inches thick, rather than the "standard 1 5/8 or 1 3/4". Again, spendy, but cheaper than an IMI or IMI-style door. They won't have 4-side bolts, but good hinges (use 4, not 3), long screws, door frame reinforcement, etc. they'll be nearly as good and a couple grand cheaper. Check with high end and very high end security companies in your area (they'll be hard to find as well because they don't advertise, but they're there in large metropolitan areas) to get pointed to appropriate door companies.

    Salvage companies are also good sources – they may have solid doors removed from commercial buildings, probably 1 3/4" thickness. Refinish/stain/paint as necessary, etc.

    FYI, don't forget to install more then one deadbolt; half-thick deadbolts are available – they have turn handles on the inside and do not go all the way through the door. That makes them impossible to use when you're not home, but adds "force-in" resistance when you are. If the door is not a true solid door one can add surface bolts to the interior; strengthen the hinge side attachments (structural plates around the hinges, long #12 screws into the framing studs, longer screws through the hinges into the door, 1/4" – 5/16" headless lag bolts as retaining pins that are screwed into the hinge side framing studs and extend into the door itself 1 – 1 1/4", and so forth) and heavy sliding bolts on the deadbolt side, one each at top and bottom, into solidly attached metal bracketry. Remember, whatever additional security features you attach to a door are only as strong as what you attach it with – think it through and seek advice from those high end security companies.

  4. Depending on the age, condition, and quality of the existing locks, consider replacing the primarily used set, then removing several others at a time and utilizing a local locksmith to match pinning. If replacing all locks, try to go with commercial style with 6 pin tumblers, as most residential are 5 pin and petty thieves "bump keys" are typically 5 pin. Right now, Menard's has a 15% off, anything you can fit in a paper bag sale… Takes some pain out of it. A good locksmith will give some advice as well – perhaps OldNFO has some locks left from his transition that can be used in the interim?

    Also, though inconvenient, unplug the garage door opener or flip the breaker while you are away, prepping for the move. The internet can be your friend with instructions to reset the external keypads, too.

    Best wishes,
    Mike the EE

  5. All the above are good suggestions.

    There is an intermediate door option to consider, far less expensive than a vault style, and more secure than any wood door. These are the ubiquitous architectural steel doors found in the side entrance of every commercial building in the country. Various options can be specified, number of holes for locks and deadbolts, full perimeter welding of the skins, gauge of steel, bullet resistant inserts!, flat or paneled, etc.
    The outstanding feature is the steel jambs are offered in a knock-down style, in a U shape, they are three pieces right, left and top, and fit around the studs, drywall and exterior sheathing of the building. Very kick resistant. They have a lot of different jamb thicknesses in stock sizes, and will make them to your custom size as well. Typically they use three 4 1/2" hinges.
    Cost on something like this in a standard size and thickness should run between 400 and 800 dollars. Plus installation and hardware. Doors can also be found in salvage yards.
    I have put lots of reinforcements, deadbolts, jamb strengtheners, heavy duty strikes, etc on wood and cheap steel doors, and come to the conclusion the commercial steel doors are the most cost effective for basic burglary or forced entrance resistance. The only downside is they are rather plain- but paint goes a long way and if you really want the look they can be veneered- Ours have 1/8" thick handsawn hardwood veneers but it was a bit of work….

  6. Heck, I'm bookmarking this page just for the comment section…going to have to reread that bit about aliases and trusts when I'm feeling a bit clearer headed. Right now it's giving me a headache. 😉

  7. @ Mike the EE – I took that path with my garage door opener – I added two switches to the opener: a toggle on the bottom of the motor box to turn the entire unit off (that way I don't have to stand on something to unplug it, and the opener is on the same circuit as several of the garage outlets so flipping the breaker isn't an option) and a pull chain switch to kill the opener light in case I want to raise the door without illuminating everything in the garage.

    I also added a 1000VAC UPS so the opener will work during power outages.

  8. RE garage doors-
    A standard criminal entry is to force the top edge of the garage door in an inch or two, then stick a long stiff wire hook in to grab the release rope or the release latch directly. This can be countered very easily with a 1'x2' piece of 1/4" plywood, attached in front of the release latch to prevent access. It rides to and fro with the latch and chain and is attached in a flexible manner with zip ties.

    Do not neglect the garage-house door. Treat it like an entry door.
    If you are going to leave for a while, use a padlock through the garage door bolt and lock it from the inside.

  9. @ raven – I used a plastic zip tie to secure the garage door opener carriage release lever to its frame, so now it requires more force to release than can be achieved with a coat hanger. This is the standard fix recommended to prevent the stiff wire intrusion, and while it does work there is room for improvement. .

    I also replaced the rope & handle with a length of 3/4" EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing) I cut an appropriate length (determined by the reach of the shortest sufficiently responsible person in the house, turned out to be 2" longer than the rope & handle), hacksawed a notch in one end, drilled both sides for a 3/16" diameter bolt, and bolted the EMT over the carriage release lever (use a locking nut so vibration doesn't cause it to loosen over time). The EMT swings freely as the door opens and closes so it's always pointed down, it has a smooth surface so bent wires, etc. forced in between the door/wall gap have nothing to grab, and it allows more than enough force to be applied to break the plastic wire tie.

    Incidentally, you mentioned above Ours have 1/8" thick handsawn hardwood veneers but it was a bit of work which implies you're in the biz. Any way I could get business contact info ?

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