I realized last week that I had lost my certification card for EPA 608. I haven’t needed it for years. I thought I was already registered with all the wholesalers that I visit regularly, apparently not. Grainger must have updated their registry in some way, because I wasn’t listed in their system today when I went to pick up some R-410A.

If you’re unfamiliar, Section 608 of the Federal Clean Air Act requires that all persons who maintain, service, repair or dispose of appliances that contain regulated substances be certified in proper refrigerant handling techniques.

I spent some time digging through my truck, digging through my files at home, digging through my various junk drawers, and generally scrambling around to find where this thing might have been left. It’s pretty easy to misplace a credit card size piece of cardstock.

I was completely unable to find it, but I did find an earlier card, from the middle 90s, that listed me as having passed Type 1. I must have gotten this while I still worked for my uncle at Nichols Heating, because that’s about the same time they started requiring this certificate. Anyway, I found that card and that’s sufficient to buy what I needed to buy.

My actual point to this post, is that I went to the ESCO Institute website an entered my name and social security number and it pulled up all of my certifications. Which is great. The part that’s not so great is that it cost $20 to get a replacement card.

So if you have a card, make sure you keep it some place where it’s secure and you can find it. But know that if you do lose it, and you happen to have taken your certification through ESCO, they have you on record and you can get a replacement card from them. It’ll just cost you 20 bucks.

That’s all for now. Later.

I had an opportunity to be a Judge at the SkillsUSA competition on Saturday. I ran a station that was used in both the Heating and HVAC/R competitions, so I had something like eleven kids come through. They were all great. Some were more skilled than others, but that’s to be expected. I did not have a single kid give up and they all ended up solving the riddle of my station–plugged pressure switch. I will confess to being less ‘judgy’ than maybe I should have been, but the guidelines were vague at best. And maybe I did give the kids prompts and advice when they needed it, but I didn’t want anyone to go away discouraged. I still scored them appropriately and looking at the winners on facebook, I think the right kids won. The Kent Career Tech Center took 1st and 2nd in HVAC/R and the top three spots in Heating, and it’s nice to see the local team do so well.

I enjoyed talking to the kids and telling them about my experiences in the field. They didn’t seem to hate me, so I guess that’s a win. I don’t know that I want to spend all my saturday mornings volunteering, but it was a fun and interesting start to the day… even if I didn’t get my free lunch because they ran out of sandwiches before I got down to the caffertia.

On a related note, I’ve decided to give up soda, pop, sugar-water, whatever you want to call it. Today was day one, let’s keep track and see how long this lasts.

My grades have been posted to the GRCC website. As expected, I did well in both of the HVAC classes I took this semester. Though I don’t feel like I got as much out of either of them as I would have liked. That’s partially my fault; I didn’t do much of the assigned reading. That is one of the problems with taking classes in things you’ve been doing for 20+ years, you tend to take it a little bit for granted that you’ll be able to pick it up with minimal effort. Fortunately, My calculated gamble in Philosophy played out as I thought it would. I feel bad that I skipped out on the final paper, and the 40-points would have been very nice, but I still ended up with a B. So here is that official grades.

Class Grades – 2018 Fall

HVA 121Metallic and Non-
Metallic Join
HVA 275Commercial
PL 201Introduction to

I’m going to take advantage of the winter break to take a little vacation, celebrate some holidays, and relax for a few weeks before getting back to it in January.

Tonight was my last night of classes for the Fall 2018 semester. I was pretty disappointed with the whole semester. Philosophy was interesting, but one of my HVAC classes covered stuff I don’t do and the other covered stuff things I’ve been doing forever. So my grades should be good, but I’m glad to be done. I already touched on my philosophy paper, or lack of same. Neither of my HVAC classes had a real final and they were both very informal, so I don’t really know where I stand in the grade book.

Four nights a week is a lot. I’m looking forward to the winter semester and only having class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Two days a week is going to feel like a vacation.

Now that I’ve put that behind me, it’s time to get ready for Christmas and our trip to Florida.

Today is the start of the 2018 Fall semester at Grand Rapids Community College. I’ve got a full schedule this semester. I signed up for eight credits spread across three classes, which works out to 4-nights a week. The saving grace to this schedule is that the Metallic and Non-Metallic Joining class, which is two of those nights, doesn’t start until the middle of October.

Tonight, it all starts with PL 201 – Introduction to Philosophy. Lady Ronn took this class earlier, in the Spring part of the Spring/Summer semester, and she enjoyed it quite a bit. I have a different instructor than she did, but I’m looking forward to it and it meets my Humanities elective. According to the catalog, this course includes a consideration of some basic problems of philosophy, philosophic, rationalistic and scientific knowledge, the mind and body, the nature of humanity and self-identity, and values in human conduct from the point of view of historical and contemporary schools of philosophy. Should be interesting.

We’re both getting very close to being done. I’ll have all my HVAC classes completed with the end of the Winter semester and that’ll leave me needing one credit to get my degree, but I think I need a science class to actually get the degree.

So with all that said, here’s what I’m looking at for this semester:

PL 201 – Introduction to Philosophy
     Monday 6:15pm-9:15pm 8/27-12/10

HVA 121 – Metallic and Non-Metallic Joining 
     Tuesday & Thursday 5:30pm-9:30pm 10/16 – 12/13

HVA 275 – Commercial Refrigeration
     Wednesday 6pm-10pm 8/29-12/12

There were a few things that had to be taken care of before the flooring could start tonight. In particular, I forgot that the transition from the hallway to the bathroom wasn’t finished. That required a couple pieces of particle board to be cut and fitted  in the base of the door frame. It’s done, but not something I had figured into my plan for tonight. I also put up the light fixture above the forthcoming vanity, caulked the base of the tub in preparation for the floor, installed the wall diffuser, and spent way too much time cleaning the sub-floor of drywall mud, paint, sawdust, and other assorted goodies. But I did get started on the vinyl plank flooring.

vanity lamp

allure vinyl plank flooring

And, yes, it is going far slower than I imagined it would. I could push and finish it tonight, but no. I’m done until tomorrow.
Against all common sense, I’m going to tell you what I think will get done tomorrow… Finish the flooring. Then redo the plumbing and set the toilet. And finally, bring the vanity up from the basement and put it, the sink, and the faucet in place. I’d like to think that I’d be getting the trim cut and painted in there somewhere, but I’m probably overestimating things already.

It’s that time of the season again. Time to pick classes and set schedules. GRCC opened up registration, for returning students, yesterday. With one little change, instead of registering for just the Summer 2018 session, they opened up registration for all of  the next year. So, after a bit of scrambling around to put together a full year schedule, get my financial aid in order, and figuring out what I still need to get my degree, this is what I came up with.
Summer 2018
EL 144 Basic Electricity and Electronics (Tuesday & Thursday) (this one is through the electrical program, as opposed to the HVAC program stuff that I took last semester)
TE 103 Intermediate Technical Mathematics (online)
Fall 2018
PL 201 Introduction to Philosophy (Monday)
HVA 121 Metallic and Non-Metallic Joining (Tuesday & Thursday)
HVA 275 Commercial Refrigeration (Wednesday)
Winter 2019
HVA 250 Basic Boiler Operation (Monday)
HVA 276 Advanced Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Heating (Wednesday)
I still need 23-credits to get my associates degree, but this load of classes will be good for 22-credits. Which means I should look into finding one more class for Winter 2019 and then I’ll be done with phase one of this whole education thing. So I guess I should start looking at how I’m going to approach a bachelors program….

The grade for my final exam in HVACR Electronic Controls has been posted.
Going into the final exam I had missed a whopping 4 Points on all of my combined assignments and grades. The final was a little tougher than I expected, having far more detailed explanations required than I have found in most of these HVAC classes. But I persevered and ended up doing pretty well.
My final score was 56 out of a possible 60. That works out to 93%.
Which means I missed out on a total of  eight points, 272/280. For a not too shabby 97.16%. And then I get an extra 1% for perfect attendance.
So, that gives me an A in electronic controls. Woot.

The final exam for my Air Conditioning Theory class was last Tuesday. I just checked to see if the grades were posted. They were.
So here is my report card for the Fall 2017 semester. I wish I could say I was happy about those two A- grades, but I’m not. If my math is right, I missed an A in both of those classes by less than a full percentage point. Ah, well, my grade point will not matter in the real world. That’s another 7-credits under my belt, bringing my total to 31-credits. That puts me beyond the half-way point, as I need 60-credits to get this degree.

Class Description Units Grading Grade Grade Points
HVA 128
Heating and Cooling Controls
HVA 135
Heating Theory
HVA 136
Air Conditioning Theory

And with those classes entered in the ledger my current grade point is 3.808, or roughly, way better than I ever did in high school.
I only have two classes next semester, and there’s only a 3-week span where I have then together. I feel like I should take one more class, but there is  a lot of non-school stuff going on this winter and spring. Probably, I should just take care of that stuff and be grateful for a lighter load in school.
In other news; I just realized that I was publishing all this to my LinkedIn page… I’ve shut that off. That’s probably not the place for this blog.

I was talking with my mother and she mentioned that I haven’t been keeping up with my school updates. So, I’m going to get you back up to speed. Over the spring/summer I took 8-credits or three classes; HVAC Blueprint Reading/Design, Mechanical Codes, and American Government (which I took with Lady Ronn). I did well and managed to get an A in each of those three classes.
This fall I took 7-credits or three classes, still four nights a week (mostly). This semester has been a little weird, in that my Heating Theory class ended on 10/12 and was immediately followed by Air Conditioning. Same nights, same times; it runs through 12/12. But my Controls class ended on 11/8 and was followed by nothing. So right now, I’ve finished two classes and gotten two grades for the Fall semester. So things are looking like this…

  • HVA 128 Heating and Cooling Controls (A)
  • HVA 135 Heating Theory (A-)
  • HVA 136 Air Conditioning Theory (nothing before 12/12)

I had to do some research to find out where I’m at with this whole school thing. It looks like, a full year in and then some, I’m sitting at 31 credits with a 3.817 GPA. Not too shabby for an old guy.
Next semester will be odd as well. I’m taking two classes or 6-credits, Duct Construction and HVACR Electrical Controls. Those classes don’t start or end at the same time. There will only be a three-week period where I have classes four nights a week. I’m expecting that to be a nice change.
So there you have it… I think you’re up to date now.

Last night was the final exam for my HVAC Blueprint Reading course. That went pretty well, I think I can expect an A in the class and an A on the exam. Monday will be the final exam for my HVAC Code class and then Wednesday we start Government, we being the wife and I. We’re going to take another class together because we had so much fun in English.

The grades for Winter semester have all been posted, so let’s take a look at how I did in my second semester back in college.

Class Grades – 2017 Winter 
Official Grades
Class Description Units Grading Grade Grade Points
EN 102
English Composition-2
HVA 110
Basic Refrigeration
HVA 111
Refrigeration Applications
MN 116
Basic Welding

First, let me say that going from 2-nights a week + an online class, to a 4-night a week schedule was a big change and one that may have taken some of the shine off this whole college thing. My grades are not bad, but I have to admit being disappointed and I know why they took the hit. Reading. Or rather the lack of reading. I trusted in my ability to pick up everything I needed to know in class and mostly stopped doing the weekly reading before we’d even gotten to the halfway point in the semester. I think that shows in both my test scores and my final grades. Now let’s look at each class individually.

EN 102 – English Composition 2
I did not get much out of this class. I did the assignments, well, except for the note cards for the research paper. I didn’t do that. But otherwise I did it all. Mostly my grades seemed lower than I felt they should be, but there was no explanation as to why. I like writing. I like learning about writing. I didn’t get any of that in this class. I think I could have gotten more out of it had I taken this class online with a InstructorBotAI teaching the class. I’m not happy that I came away with an A- from this class. And I am inclined to call “bullshit” on the whole thing, except that had I done the stupid note cards those 40 pts would have given me an A.

HVA 110 Basic Refrigeration
I liked this class, but I found that I knew most of what was being taught already and that caused me to be a little lax. I missed one class, and sure as shit, that one covered a bunch of stuff I didn’t know and had a lab I couldn’t make up. Missing that class and not doing the required reading messed up my final exam score. All of it was my fault. Lesson learned. Also, weirdly, I didn’t realize until I was in this class that it was a shorty – seven weeks. Which is how I ended up with four classes.

HVA 111 Refrigeration Applications
The second half of the semester follow-up to HVA 110. This is the class that I did the cooler project for; this was a fun class. I missed one class and there was a lab, a take home test, and a discussion on parts of refrigeration I am unfamiliar with… don’t it just figure. I couldn’t make any of that up and between those lost points and a week final exam score (83%) I got stuck with an A-. I did however get a 96% on my final project/lab report. At a bare minimum, you gotta do the reading in the field you’re getting your degree in.

MN 116 Basic Welding
I enjoyed this class, but like most things of this sort, welding is harder than it looks. I was frustrated by the fact that I didn’t pick it up faster and my expectations were probably too high for my skill level. I learned some things. I bought some tools and equipment. I look forward to getting a welding set up and working on some projects. In class, I managed to get 25 out of 26 welds completed, my scores on the three tests were 100%, 80%, & 70% (not reading impact readily visible here), and ended up with a 91.4 in the class. I did the best I could with the welding, but I should have done better or those tests and I recognize that it’s because I didn’t do the reading or put in any study time for this class.