Partial Fireplace Deconstruction

My house was built in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. I don’t know because it was a foreclosure and the bank didn’t really give a shit, they just wanted to sell it. It is easy to tell the era due to the rest of the houses in the neighborhood and the style of the house.

The fireplace is one of those dated artifacts that is not to my liking. It consists of a false brick veneer with a brick hearth that sticks out from the wall about a foot.


If the original designer of the house had put in some storage under the hearth or made it somewhat more useful, it might have been worth keeping. Otherwise the hearth just takes up too much space and I wanted to take it out before I re-did the floors in the living room.


I surrounded the area around the fireplace with sheet plastic that I attached to the ceiling with tape and push pins. I smashed the hearth brickwork with a sledge hammer and a pry bar. Under the brick veneer I found dirt and brick fill, no hidden treasure of gold and rubies.


There is still a layer of brick attached to the block fireplace that I was not able to remove. Like many of the projects at my house this is a mult-stage project. When I get ready to hire someone to do the drywall throughout the house, I will remove the remainder of the bricks and have drywall installed where the brick is now.

I was somewhat worried about completing this project as it was not undoable, but I am happy with the extra space I have in the living room and the fireplace is still functional.

Also see the Toolmonger post.


Want To Run For Rio Rancho City Government?

Rio Rancho Fall 2009 Organizational Chart.png

Rio Rancho election packets are available from the City Of Rio Rancho.

Here’s a great opportunity for Rio Ranchoans who think they can do a better job running the city than present elected officials: Candidate packets are now available for the city of Rio Rancho’s March 2, 2010, municipal election.

Those interested in running as a candidate must obtain a packet in person from the city clerk’s office at City Hall and be available for a comprehensive review of the electoral process. Packets can be obtained by appointment or Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Jan. 5, 2010.

Three council seats, the mayor’s post and municipal judge are up for grabs. All terms are four years.

So far, only three people have announced their intentions to run. Tom Swisstack is seeking another term as mayor; Timothy Crum looks to replace Larry Naranjo, who is not seeking re-election, as the District 5 city councilor, and Jeff Hartman wants to be a municipal judge. No word yet on whether James Walker will seek re-election.

I have seriously considered running for an elected office in the City of Rio Rancho. The city council seat I reside in is not up for re-election this year (and the current District 1 councilor has a far better bio than I). Although I cannot find the information on the City of Rio Rancho’s website, I understand that the Mayor is a part time job and pays about $18,000 a year. I have to wonder how one affords to be mayor.

A PDF of the city organization chart is available on the the City Of Rio Rancho’s website.

National Guard Weapons Of Mass Destruction Support Team Training In Rio Rancho

A few weeks ago I was driving down Unser Blvd in Rio Rancho and saw a whole lot of dark blue trucks, one with a satellite dish on top, and a bunch of military SWAT team like people parked at a business.

The Rio Rancho Observer reports that it was the National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction support team.

Rio Rancho was the scene of a mock emergency situation last week, when the 64th Civil Support Team, local New Mexico National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction support team responded to a call at a “storage facility” on Unser Boulevard. Major Troy Chadwell , deputy commander of the 64th Civil Support Team organized the exercise, which involved about 22 CST members reporting to the scene, trying to first determine what hazard was there and advising on the consequences of the contaminant to the community and first responders. Chadwell said the scenario involved a landlord of the facility entering a storage unit of a man who left without paying rent and finding what he thought was a meth lab; but was actually toxic chemicals manufacturing.

I’m not sure why but there was something creepy about all the color coordinated dark blue vehicles sitting on this lot, and knowing they were military makes it a little more creepy.

Rio Rancho Is Not A Shanty Town

A article on describes Rio Rancho, New Mexico as a sort of shanty-town and if your foreclosed you should move here.

Here in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, residents are beyond the reach of power lines and piped water. A few have solar panels or small wind turbines. For others, like a shanty built by Liz Owens, 57, the cost of renewable power sources and drilling a water well is prohibitive. Generators and plastic water tanks are common yard features.

I know no one that lives like this but I have been out on the mesa and seen these sort of buildings. I would not encourage people who have have had their house foreclosed on to come to Rio Rancho and build similar buildings (actually maybe a shanty-town on the Rio Rancho mesa would be interesting).

The problem is the city of Rio Rancho is growing quickly, or at least it was. As it grows these buildings are finding themselves in the middle of developments. These sort of shanty buildings don’t fit within modern developments.

Gilbert Arizona School Official Looses Job Due To SETI@Home


The Arizona Republic has an story about Brad Niesluchowski who worked for the Higley Unified School District and was fired for installing SETI@home, among other things. He appears to be some sort of administrator. There appear to be other charges including stolen equipment and failure to train other staff.

Higley officials so far estimate the damages, energy usage and equipment losses linked to Niesluchowski at $1.2 million to $1.6 million.

Higley officials said the SETI program requires wattage to run, and therefore was an extra burden on computer processors and power usage. They allege several computer processors would burn out sooner than expected, and the SETI program’s operation raised utility costs.

They don’t go into specific on how much extra it cost the school district to run SETI@Home but I have to question if it was really significant amount of power. Perhaps the school district and news site are over emphasizing the use of SETI@Home as part of the excuse to fire fire him.

When SETI@Home first came out, there was a lot of competition and I installed it on every computer I could find. Today I don’t care but I could see how it was its easy to install everywhere.

Update 12/05/09: Berkley’s Eric Korpela releases “FAQ and comments about the Higley School District controversy“. He indicates a lot of bad reporting and I agree.

Hewlett-Packard Opens Wednesday In Rio Rancho


Unlike like the Lions Gate film studios, Hewlett-Packard (HP) is actually opening their doors in Rio Rancho.

It’s the day that technology giant Hewlett-Packard opens its 218,000-square-foot customer service and technical support center in Rio Rancho’s City Center area.

HP officials will join city, county and state officials in welcoming HP to the City of Vision with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m.

Mayor Tom Swisstack said the Hewlett-Packard project is ahead of schedule.


I took a drive down to the city center to look at the new building. It is located directly north of the Santa Anna Star Center. Many have criticized Rio Rancho for building a new down town in the “middle of nowhere”, I think it coming together nicely.