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Recent Posts

    Q - I am a rookie around the house and am trying to do a project that calls for the use of four 2x4’s and one 2x6 pieces of lumber. I looked at some 2x4s at a big box store, but they measure smaller than 2' by 4'. Am I looking at the right lumber? What's up with that? Sally in Vinings A - I guess you haven’t got to the part where the 2 x 6 is only 1.50 x 5.5 yet. Yes, those are the correct pieces of wood to purchase. Wood is sold in nominal sizes such as 2 x 4 and 2 x 6. 2 x 4’s are not, however, actually 2 inches by 4 inches. When the board is first cut the dimensions are 2” x 4” but after drying and plaining the measurements shrink to 1.5” x 3.5”. In fact, this is true with all 1 bys and 2 bys and 3 bys and 4 bys and such. You will figure it out quickly, for example all 1 bys are .25 inches smaller, 2-3-4 bys are .5 inches smaller, and so on and so forth. Kind of makes you appreciate those folks who walk around in your attic on the 1.5” wide beams.  So, good luck on your project and welcome to the lingo of the home builder. It won’t be long before you realize that an 8 penny nail doesn’t sell for 8 cents.
  • I know you are going to hate this, so I will keep it brief, but due to the recent warm weather please be on the lookout for your friend and mine, the mosquito. But Dave, it’s only early February… I realize it’s only February, but the thermometer reads like it is the middle of April. Mosquitoes don’t really hibernate through the winter, but their eggs do and when the temp starts getting over 70, it’s hello skeets. So I should go get the citronella candles out now? Ehhhhh… Maybe, maybe not.  First realize that the candle is not the best way to fight mosquitoes. Clearing your yard of places that hold water – an old tire, a bucket in the sandbox, your gutters, is going to be your main line of defense as far as keeping your yard skeeter free goes. Having a regular mosquito treatment done to your yard is a good play also. By regular I mean once a month. If your pest control company says otherwise they are pulling your leg. The chemicals used in treating your yard for mosquitos last about 30 days, so monthly is good. Call around. You can find companies that offer deals on monthly skeeter treatment. Normally you should be good until the temps rise over 70, but we have been over that mountain already, so it’s best to be prepared.
  • Q – The wife would like to change the flooring in our kitchen from the ugly linoleum to tile. Can I just lay the tile over the linoleum?  Stan – Villa Rica A – Generally when I get an e-mail that starts with ‘The wife…’ it is code for ‘I know I had better do it right or I will be doing it again’. So to do it correctly you need to take up the linoleum and start from scratch. It might not be that easy though… If your linoleum is a product of the ‘70’s you will need a hazardous waste company come in to do the removal due to the presence of asbestos. Fortunately you can find these companies easy enough by Googling ‘asbestos removal’. If you install the tile on anything less than a solid sub-floor (which linoleum is not) your floor will shift and wiggle and over time you will have cracked and loose tile and ‘The Wife’ will not be happy. Remember – happy wife, happy life. One more unfortunately here before we go on – if your kitchen floor has a sag in it, that would qualify it as a less than solid sub-floor and you would need to get it level before you get to the actual sub-floor for the tile work. One quick note in defense of linoleum. While it used to come in three styles – ugly, uglier, and ugliest – modern linoleum is offered in many more colors and styles and you can create quite a unique look for your kitchen.  Look for products like LVT flooring (luxury vinyl tile). It’s fairly new and comes in a ton of styles and colors. Also, with proper maintenance you can keep that floor looking fresh for a long time. On the other hand, you will still have to take up the old linoleum first.
  • Q – It seems that everyone in my family waits to use the toilet until I am in the shower and with every flush comes a shower scalding. Is there something I can put on my shower or toilet to stop this? Steve – Marietta  A – You can put an ‘Out of Order’ sign on each commode when you hit the shower but you know when you gotta go… Your best bet is to call your favorite plumber and have them install an anti-scald valve, or a pressure balancing valve, in the shower.  These devices detect the sudden change in pressure in either the hot or cold water and immediately compensate for it by reducing the overall water flow through the faucet. Your other choice would be to move. These valves are required by building codes in new homes, or at least houses newer than 1988.  Even if you don’t suffer from this problem it is good to have them installed anyway especially if there are small children or elderly in the house.
  • 5 things teaches you how to help avoid one of the most dangerous things in your house – the kitchen fire…
  • Q – This spring I am planning on expanding my house by finishing my basement and perhaps adding a room onto the back. How much can I add with my current hvac system? Bucky in Johns Creek A - Not much. Heating and air conditioning systems are sized by the livable square footage of a house. That probably doesn't include an unfinished basement, and it certainly doesn't include an addition. An under-sized unit will perform inefficiently and will be costly. Your favorite heating and air company should offer, for free, to come out and size your house and give you an exact answer. One of the possible solutions for adding more ummph to your current system would be adding a smaller system just for the basement. This is something you will need to decide before you finish the basement as you will want to run the ductwork before completing the walls. Your extra room could then be nicely controlled by a mini-split (such as a Mr. Slim unit made by Mitsubishi). It is also possible to include a system for your basement and your addition. Your HVAC company will easily be able to measure the size unit you need and give you estimates. More from Dave Baker >>
  • Q - We are in the market for a new roof due to leaks in our old roof. Can the roofer just put the new roof on over the old one? Ralph in Chamblee A - The single best way to re-roof a house is to remove the old roof first. Yes, technically, you can put a new roof on over an old roof, but in your case - why would you want to. (Three roofs are totally out of the question). You mention that you have leaking in your current roof. Leaking leads to rotten wood in the roof decking which can lead to nothing but trouble if you cover it up with a new roof. In fact, if you have any unresolved leaking issues you should definitely tear off the old and replace it. Adding a new roof over an existing leaky roof will only exasperate the problem. You will also find some shingle manufacturers that will not warranty their product when installed over an existing roof. You will also have to disclose the double roof at re-sale, which could possibly end up costing you money at that time. Think of it this way - why would you want to spend a good chunk of change and not get a complete job? Take it off. Take if all off. More from Dave Baker >>
  • 5 Reasons why you should use a professional exterminator:  - Identifying the potential hidden infestations. They know where bugs hide, do you? - To promote safe usage of dangerous, toxic pesticides. Your trained pros know what to use, how to apply it, and how to dispose of the extra. - Using the method most conducive to killing pests. Some poison that kills ants in the spring feeds them in the fall.  - Save you money. What's worse than your home application of pest killer not working? Going back and forth to the store 4 times and still not finding a suitable pest control method. Get it done correctly, the first time.  - Home protection. Proper preventative pest control lessens the chances that you will need home repair later. More from Dave Baker >>
  • January is National Radon Awareness Month. Not sure what exactly radon is? Let me give you a quick rundown with the help of my mold guy David Goulding of Ensign Building Solutions: Radon is a Class A carcinogen that can cause lung cancer. You can’t see, smell, or taste radon. Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. “Radon can be found all over the U.S. It can get into any type of building — homes, offices, and schools — and can result in a high indoor radon level. But you and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home where you spend most of your time.  “Building a tight home results in greater energy efficiency. But the tighter the home, the more important it is to properly ventilate and accommodate for the possibility of high levels of radon. In Georgia, homes above the Piedmont are more likely to have high levels of radon.” In fact the counties with the highest concentrations of radon are Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton, and Cobb. Radon is responsible for approximately 21,000 deaths per year. To give you a little perspective, drunk driving is the cause of about 11,000 deaths per year. While radon is virtually everywhere, a simple at-home test can determine the levels of radon in your home. You can get a 3-7 day radon test kit for anywhere from $10 to $50, and a 90 test kit for a little more. I would recommend the 90 day kit as you will be getting a better understanding if radon is a problem in your home. Goulding goes on to say; “If dangerous levels of radon are found in your home, the best way to fix, or mitigate radon levels is to install a professional radon reduction system. A radon reduction system is any system or steps designed to reduce radon concentrations in the indoor air of a building. While most components are common, no two systems are identical. Systems must be customized to the needs of your home.” This system is not really a DIY project, but there are professionals in the metro area that can do the work. Test your house every 2 years and keep a log. Radon is a silent killer. Know where your home stands. More from Dave Baker >>  
  • Q – We had some Christmas candles drip wax onto our carpet? How do we get that wax out of the carpet? Stan in Douglasville  A – Wax in the carpet isn’t that unusual a problem. The fix is to be patient. I know, a lot of people want that wax to be gone quickly, but this will take a little bit of your time. You will need a brown paper bag, like you used to get at the grocery store, or like you used to get to carry your lunch in, and an iron. Cut the paper so it covers the wax drippings and heat up your iron on low. Then place the brown paper bag over the wax and ‘iron’ the paper slowly. As the wax melts it will be drawn into the paper. Do this several times with a new piece of brown paper each time, and your carpet will soon be wax free. Don’t get in a hurry tho. Low heat and slow ironing is what you need. More from Dave Baker >>

News

  • When he made the announcement he was declaring a national emergency, President Donald Trump said he expected to be sued over the move. So far, a handful of activists and even state attorneys general have said they are looking at taking the president to court or have filed a lawsuit already.  Take a look at the lawsuits that are currently pending or will soon be filed. Public Citizen Public Citizen is an advocacy group that filed a suit Friday after the president’s Rose Garden announcement. The group is filing on behalf of three Texas landowners and an environmental group to block the emergency decree. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., The Washington Post reported. >>Read: Can Congress repeal the national emergency declaration? Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington hasn’t filed suit directly on Trump but instead is suing the Justice Department, claiming documents were not provided, including legal opinions and communications, related to Trump’s decision, USA Today reported. The group is using a Freedom of Information Act request submitted concerning the proposed border barrier. Center for Biological Diversity Center for Biological Diversity is an environmental group. It claims the president did not identify a legal authority to declare the emergency. The group said the wall will block wildlife from its natural habitat “and could result in the extirpation of jaguars, ocelots and other endangered species within the United States,” according to the Post. >>Read: Trump signs funding bill to avoid government shutdown, declares emergency to build border wall American Civil Liberties Union The ACLU has not yet filed but is preparing a suit that says that Trump can’t redirect the money paid by taxpayers unless it is for construction that directly supports the military, the Post reported. ACLU officials said the suit will be filed early this week, saying, “There is no emergency. Members of Congress from both parties, security experts, and Americans who live at the border have all said so. What the president is doing is yet another illegal and dangerous power grab in the service of his anti-immigrant agenda.” The group called the declaration an “abuse of power” and says it “violates the constitutional checks and balances that protect us.” >>Read the latest from our Washington Insider Jamie Dupree The ACLU is using the president’s own words against him from when he said, “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.” >> Read more trending news  California attorney general Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, will be joined by New Mexico, Oregon, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii and Connecticut in trying to stop the emergency declaration from proceeding. >>Read: National emergency likely to be blocked by courts, DOJ tells White House: reports “We’re confident there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm. And once we are all clear, all the different states are clear, what pots of money that taxpayers sent to D.C. he’s going to raid, which Congress dedicated to different types of services -- whether it’s emergency response services or whether it’s fires or mudslides in California or maybe tornadoes and floods in other parts of the country or whether it’s our military men and women and their families who live on military installations that might -- that might have money taken away from them, or whether it’s money taken away from drug interdiction efforts in places like California, a number of states, and certainly Americans, will be harmed. And we’re all going to be prepared,” Becerra said on ABC News’ “This Week.”  >>Read: Trump's border wall: What is a national emergency? A spokesperson for the attorney general of Colorado, Phil Weiser, said his state will also be joining the suit, KDVR reported. The spokesperson said Weiser decided that the state will be hurt if money is transferred from military installations to the wall, according to KDVR.
  • From a court watcher’s perspective it’s apparent to most that the upcoming trial of Ryan Duke, charged with the 2005 murder of South Georgia high school teacher Tara Grinstead is sure to be nothing short of a spectacle of epic proportions. We got a preview of things to come during - of all things - a bond hearing where Duke asked, for the first time in two years, to be released on bond. It wasn’t the denial of bond, nor the fact that Duke asked for bond that is particularly noteworthy. It’s what the bond hearing devolved into that raised eyebrows. Despite losing the motion, the defense unexpectedly was able to depose the lead GBI investigator on a wide range of topics in a dress rehearsal for what promises to be a most controversial trial.  To start, let’s have a look at what a bond hearing is supposed to be.  It’s uncommon for bond to be set in murder cases but it’s not unheard of. Courts are supposed to consider the following factors in making bond decisions and the burden of proof is on the defendant to show that he:  Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;  Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;  Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; and  Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.  Probable cause is not an issue and of course neither is guilt or innocence. A bond hearing is not a trial.  The Duke bond hearing started out as most bond hearings do. The defense called Duke’s brother to testify regarding each of the factors set out above. But then it started a downward spiral into the surreal when the prosecutor called the lead GBI case agent as a witness - presumably as a rebuttal to the defense. A state’s witness, such as an investigator, can occasionally testify - to a point - about “what happened” because that’s relevant - to a point - for the court to determine whether the person poses a danger to the community. But in this case, the testimony was literally all over the place and went into minute detail about many things that have never been heard before. The “bond hearing” was effectively transformed into a deposition - a legal luxury not normally available to a criminal defendant in Georgia.  So just what did we learn from this “bond” hearing? We learned that DNA from the bodily fluid of a police officer was mixed with the victim’s blood on some bedding and that “touch DNA” from Grinstead and Duke (along with DNA from at least two other people) was on a latex glove found outside her residence. “Touch DNA” has its own share of problems in terms of reliability and we can safely expect the defense to explore those problems at trial. Some of that other unidentified DNA from the glove could have come from Bo Dukes - the person accused of helping cover up the murder - and who the defense claims is the actual killer.  We learned there were many investigative steps that could have been taken to verify statements made by both Duke and Dukes. The defense will argue that these follow up steps point to a biased investigation. This could have a huge impact in a trial where the defense will claim that the defendants confession was a false confession.  We learned the GBI, in a breach of protocol and constitutional law, interviewed / talked with Duke twice after he had a lawyer. These interviews were undocumented in the GBI case file. They were not recorded. The DA apparently was unaware at the time that this tactic was being employed by the GBI until the defense raised it with them. The agent didn’t even sign in at the jail. We can only speculate as to why not.  On top of all this, an abundance of otherwise inadmissible evidence consisting of hearsay and innuendo managed to come out publicly at a bond hearing. Most of this wouldn’t have seen the light of day at a trial. As the prosecution correctly pointed out “hearsay” may be admissible at a bond hearing, but it still has to be reliable evidence - not a regurgitation of all the salacious rumors from 2005. And it must be relevant to the issue of bond. It may turn out that the DA made a great tactical mistake by calling their lead case agent to testify and turn this bond hearing into an evidentiary free-for-all with no apparent boundaries. At a minimum it was surely heartbreaking for friends and family of the victim to have to re-live all the pain of the last 13 years by having old wounds reopened in such painful detail.  I’ve previously written about why the venue for this trial really needs to be changed. Now more than ever the jury pool is really tainted - as if it weren’t already. Philip Holloway, WSB legal analyst, is a criminal lawyer who heads his own firm in Cobb County, Georgia. A former prosecutor and adjunct professor of criminal justice, he is former president of the Cobb County Bar Association's criminal law section. Follow him on Twitter: @PhilHollowayEsq The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 
  • Police in Kansas City, Kansas, arrested a man Sunday suspected of carjacking a vehicle, stealing the driver’s phone and taking off with two children in the car, the The Kansas City Star reported. >> Read more trending news  Police said a woman was making a delivery in the area when the suspect, armed with a rifle, took the vehicle, WDAF reported.  The woman ran to a store to call police, the Star reported. “It was as bad as you would think if someone had your kids,” the store manager, Robert Edwards, told the newspaper. “She was as stressed as you would imagine. I’m glad she got the kids back.” The two children, 4 and 7, had been taken out of the car and were found by a neighbor, who called police the Star reported. The children were not injured and were returned to their mother, the newspaper reported. According to Kansas City police, the suspect returned to the scene, leaving the original vehicle and then stole a second car at gunpoint, WDAF reported. Police were able to catch the suspect, who was driving a blue SUV, and returned it to its owner, the Star reported.
  • At the same time President Donald Trump was making a Rose Garden announcement Friday declaring a national emergency to fund a wall along the country’s southern border, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced they would fight Trump’s declaration “using every remedy available.” >> Read more trending news Pelosi and Schumer did not lay out specific remedies they might employ to stop the president from diverting funds from other projects to use to construct a border wall, but several Democrats members of Congress have promised a joint resolution of disapproval aimed at repealing the declaration and stopping Trump’s plans. Would Congress be successful in passing a resolution that would hamper the president’s bid to fund border security by declaring a national emergency? It’s possible, but not likely. >>Trump's border wall: What is a national emergency? Here’s a look at what could happen. A resolution of disapprovalCongress could approve a resolution that contests the status of the national emergency Trump has declared. They can do so under the National Emergencies Act of 1976. The resolution, if passed, would stop the plan to divert money from other government programs to build the border wall. The resolution could pass with a simple majority vote in the House and Senate – 218 votes in the House and 51 in the Senate. There is a Democrat majority in the House where a resolution could easily pass. There are 48 Democrat members of the Senate. Democrats would need four Republicans to vote with them to pass a joint resolution. Reps. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, have said they will introduce a bill in the House to block the declaration. By Friday afternoon, Castro told The Washington Post he had gathered more than 60 co-sponsors for the resolution. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, told ABC's “This Week” that she believes the Senate has enough votes for such a resolution. 'I think we do,' she said. 'Now, whether we have enough for an override and veto, that's a different story. But frankly, I think there's enough people in the Senate who are concerned that what he's doing is robbing from the military and the DOD to go build this wall.' If a resolution should pass both chambers of Congress, it would go to the president’s desk for a signature. The president would almost certainly veto the resolution, marking the first time in his term he has used the veto power. If he does veto the resolution, it would go back to Congress where it would require a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate to override the veto. In the House, 290 votes would be needed. In the Senate, the number would be 67. A lawsuit – or several of them The president has broad powers under the National Emergencies Act, so until the provisions of Trump’s declaration are made public, it’s unclear what someone could sue him over concerning the declaration. But sued he will be -- some suits are already in the works  -- and here is where those suits could come from: Congress: It’s likely that House Democrats would sue on grounds that the president overreached his powers by bypassing the power Congress has to control funding for government programs and projects. However, Democrats in Congress would have to first establish that they have the right to sue the White House, and that can be difficult since the president was given the authority to declare a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act in 1976. The House could challenge Trump's definition of an emergency, but the definition in the National Emergency Act is vague, leaving what is a national emergency pretty much up to the president. Activist groups: The American Civil Liberties Union said on Friday it plans to sue the president over what they call his “unconstitutional power grab that hurts American communities.” Landowners: Those who own land along the area where the president has proposed a border wall could file suit over the seizure of their property if that happens. However, the government is generally allowed to buy up private property for public use – such as when privately-held land is taken to make room for a freeway. The practice is called eminent domain. It is often an uphill fight for landowners. States: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has promised that he will file a suit against the White House claiming that his state will be harmed if Trump diverts funds from other projects to build a wall. He said that four other states, New Mexico, Oregon, Hawaii and Minnesota will join his state in the pending lawsuit.Nevada’s attorney general has also threatened a suit.
  • A man has been targeting dessert shops in a Texas town, committing four robberies -- two in the same business, KHOU reported. >> Read more trending news  The Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt shop in Cypress was robbed Jan. 15, the television station reported. Surveillance cameras caught a bald man with a goatee, who walked up to the cash register, yanked it open and took the money, KHOU reported. 'I saw him and I saw what he was doing,' store manager Debra Santos told the television station. 'You just don't know people now a days. I didn't know if he had a gun or a weapon.' On Feb. 14, the bald bandit struck again, robbing a different Orange Leaf in Cypress, KHOU reported. Later that day, the man robbed Shipley’s Donuts in Cypress. The manager chased the thief, but the man sped away in a white car, the television station reported. On Feb. 16, the thief returned to the Orange Leaf he had robbed a month earlier, taking the store’s second cash register, according to KHOU.  'He said, ‘I'm sorry I have to do this,’ and he ripped the cables and took off again,' Santos told the television station. Santos said she hopes the thief’s robbery pattern will trip him up. 'I hope they catch him soon,' Santos told KHOU. 'He seems to be repetitive, so hopefully he'll have a break in his pattern and they'll catch him.
  • A baby made its entry to the world on a flight to Florida. USA Today reported that, according to JetBlue Airways spokeswoman Jen Dang, the “youngest customer to date” was born on a two hour, 50 minute flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Friday. >> Read more trending news  'We’d like to thank the crew and medical professionals on board for their quick action under pressure, and wish the new mother and son all the best,” Deng told WTVJ. “Flight 1954 was operated on aircraft N523JB, coincidentally named, ‘Born to Be Blue.’” According to a tweet from JetBlue, the baby boy was given shower gifts and can expect more to come.