Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Stay away from the Country Wheat, it will clog your pipes

Running the plumbing for the new master bathroom hasn't been without its adventures. The shower was installed early on, and just by chance my dad noticed one fairly significant flaw. It turns out that the trap (the J-shaped pipe that comes out of the shower drain) was installed such that it extended about 5/8" below the ceiling joists of the floor below. While that would have made it handy to hang a chandelier over the kitchen table, it certainly wouldn't look right to have a pipe sticking out of our kitchen ceiling. So that's getting redone tomorrow.

Then, there's the problem of the wheat bread.

Fred the Plumber, who installed the new water pipes to the bathroom, at one point asked my wife for a slice of bread. Not being one to inquire on the dietary habits of plumbers, she never asked why the bread was needed, I guess she just assumed he was hungry for a snack. Well it turns out that the bread was used for an old plumber's trick. When attaching (sweating) new copper pipe to an existing water line, you need to ensure that all water is out of the old pipe. Hitting the pipe with a blow torch flame will draw water towards the seam you are trying to make, making it impossible to weld the two pieces together.. That's where the bread comes in. Stuff some bread into the pipe, and the bread will soak up any moisture. Once the seal is made, the bread just washes away with the water. At least in theory.

The problem is that my wife gave him a piece of Country Wheat, the kind with those individual grains that get stuck in your molars. turns out they also get stuck in the pipes. Or in our case, the kitchen faucet. Fred cleaned it out twice now, and we've still got no hot water to the kitchen sink. He's fixing that tomorrow too. Next time, Fred, bring your own loaf of Wonder.

So as of today, we've got our first windows installed. Quite a view. We hope to have the remaining walls completed by tomorrow or so. Now we get to the real juicy stuff, like choosing a color for siding. Man, I can't wait to ditch that baby blue crap.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Totally Wired

So mom and dad are here from CT. The plan was originally for dad and I to spend all week wiring the electrical throughout the addition. Unfortunately with the rain last week, Bob The Builder is behind, so we're still missing three walls. Grr. guess we will do what we can.

My Home Depot Mastercard is getting a great workout. Let's see, about 50 outlet boxes, a dozen or so light boxes, 18 recessed light kits, about 750' of electrical wire, a spool of Cat-5 wire liberated from a certain tech firm in the area (thanks Ken), several boxes of switches and outlets, and about a gazillion wire nuts. Oh, and a circuit continuity tester to replace the one my dad blew up when he accidentally stuck it in a live circuit. I know that only makes sense to those of you who know electrical work, so Paul and Ken, enjoy the chuckle.

We've learned a couple of things as we embarked on this effort to avoid electrocution. First, virtually everyone I've mentioned this project stated that the price of wire is outrageous. They are right. a box of wire that used to cost about $30 now costs about $100. Something to do with Katrina, construction in China, and a copper plant closing in Argentina. all I know is it would be cheaper to wire this house using conductive fibers woven from the hair of a Persian princess.

Second, we learned that there's a couple of really stupid electrical codes out there. Take the "arc fault" breaker, for instance. This is a new concept designed to protect morons in the bedroom. Basically in an arc fault circuit, if you plug a vacuum cleaner into an outlet with the appliance already on, it will trip the breaker. this means you have to trudge downstairs and reset it just because you accidentally kicked the cord out of the wall and plugged it back in without shutting the appliance off. To make matters worse, a typical circuit breaker is a couple of bucks, whereas this arc fault breaker is thirty bucks. And code mandates that you must have one for every outlet circuit in the BEDROOM. We have two circuits in the bedroom. Thus, $60 for these friggin things. Why the bedroom, you ask? I have no idea. Can't figure out that for the life of me. Well, after a wink and a nudge from the electrician it goes without saying that after the electrical inspection one might be inclined to return those $30 breakers and replace them with normal ones. Not that I would ever do that, mind you. Of course not.

Third, we learned there's new code for smoke detectors. You must have one at the top of every stairwell, and one in every hallway. they must be hardwired rather than battery operated, AND must be interconnected. This means when one goes off they ALL go off. That makes things real enjoyable when you blast your ear drums making toast.

But so far, we've managed to avoid electrocution.

In other news, the robin keeps coming back. I mentioned him in a previous article as the one creature who benefited from all the rain, by building a nest in our new family room. Each day we've brushed away the nest. Each day he build's another one, as if to say, F**k you! Here's a question. What do birds flip? think about it for a moment....

On a final note, I want to congratulate my wife for spending the most time ever in one vist to Home Depot. She, my dad and I spent 2.5 hours in the kitchen/bath area deciding on a bathroom vanity. And I only caught her with her eyes closed twice. You see, usually she glazes over the instant we walk through that sliding door by the big orange shopping carts. She was quite a trooper today. Some day I might actually be able to send her there to pick something up for me!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monkey Heads For Dinner

A Calvin & Hobbes classic. Gonna have to try this one on our kids...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Forget the house, we're building an ark

So it's been a while since my last post about the house. That's because it's been a while since anything of substance has happened. Unless you count mud, plastic tarps, and a whole lotta dripping as substance.

Those of you in the Northeastern US are aware that it's been raining for the past ten days. A week ago last Thursday it started. The next step in the builders' plan was to tear the roof off the existing family room. Good thing they checked the weather report first. Instead, they wrapped the house in blue plastic and took a week's vacation. Of sure, they were here off and on to do what few inside things they could do, and in fact we got our shower installed a couple days ago, but basically it's been over a week of a whole lotta nothing except listening to raindrops. This morning was allegedly the last rainstorm, and the sun is now out.

Overall the builders did a good job of waterproofing the place. There were two leaks which I had to manage through strategic placement of buckets. But on Friday night the dam burst, so to speak, and it started raining inside the existing family room. More buckets, more plastic.

I must say, throughout the week it was fun to watch the massive stampede of suburban home-owning dads whip out their lawn mowers in a mad rush to get their foot-high grass trimmed before the next weather onslaught. It was not fun being one of them.

At least someone benefited from all this slack time. Yesterday I went out into the new space to check on things, and discovered that the two robins that used to have nexts under our deck now set up shop in the ceiling joists of the new family room space. They were just getting started, dumping plenty of mud and twigs in strategic places to get the foundation of their nests going. I chased them away with a broom and cleaned things up, but chances are good they will try again in the next couple of days.

I took it as an omen that there were two of them. just like Noah was told would happen.

The weather report seems to imply clearing starting this afternoon. Good thing. My mom and dad are coming in Tuesday, and we start running the electrical. If the rain holds out hopefully Bob might actually be able to finish the framing upstairs so that we have walls to run the electrical IN.

No new pictures to see. Hopefully I will have something of interest later in the week.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Thermogender Alteration - More on Geckos

Boy, this whole Gecko story just got more interesting. My dad informed me of a few things...

First, it seems that while all this "rectal inversion" was going on with Fez, the little guy somehow managed to INSEMINATE Art (whom we now know is female). Yes, Art laid an egg. Now, one must ask the question, "Did Fez injure himself during this act of procreation during a state of frenzied orgasm?? Seems likely, but then according to Wikipedia some geckos are parthenogenic, the females capable of reproducing without copulating with a male. According to the article, this improves the geckos' ability to spread to new islands. The gecko version of suburban sprawl.

The news today gets even more scientific. Apparently, you can control the sex of a newborn gecko by altering the temperature at which the egg is kept. If you raise the temperature you can bring about hatching in just four weeks and insure that the newborn will be a girl. If you lower the temperature, you get hatching in 16 weeks and insure getting a boy. I believe if you lower the tempurature past 64 degrees the gecko is born as a crochety old Jewish man with an enlarged prostate.

For more information, check out the Repashy Lizard Database.

Oh, the decisions one must make in child rearing. See, look at that. I took a topic that had nothing to do with the overall subject of my blog and turned it into one that did.

Friday, May 12, 2006

On geckos, ghosts, and parole officers

My 12-year-old neice has taken to raising geckos. First, there was "Art" (think about it for a second), and when she found it was looking lonely, she got a second one. "Fez" by name. As I understand it, Fez is quite the manly man, with testicles so big that it has trouble walking. But this story isn't about a gecko's testicles, it's about his ass.

So it turns out that Fez has a medical issue. He came down with something known as a "prolapsed rectum" (or as my sister describes it, "He shit himself inside out"). So for all of you out there who worried as a kid that you'd laugh so hard that milk would come out of your nose, well, that's nothing. Imagine your tail turning inside out like a giant piece of popcorn.

Well instead of flushing the damn lizard down the toilet, the family decided to take it to the vet. Unfortunately Geckos are known for car insurance, not health insurance, so they had to pay out the ass for this one (yes, I'm sinking to new lows with this post).

Well, believe it or not, the vet put forth a valiant effort, performing surgery on the critter and declaring success. Stories of tiny little blood pressure cuffs, little IV needles and even one instance of mouth-to-mouth (Dammit Nurse Henderson, I'm not losing this one! Crash cart, stat!) abounded, but in the end (sorry) Fez's cheeks are right-side-out again and he is resting comfortably, though not sitting to well. He has to go back next week and have his stitches taken out (I'm not kidding) and a full recovery is expected.

Pet gecko: fifteen dollars
Sugery for gecko's prolapsed rectum, sixty dollars.
Seeing the recovered fella bounding around his tank playfully, tripping over his huge testicles without a care in the world, pooping up a storm and keeping his ass where it belongs: priceless.

In another story, Our two-year-old was sitting on her bedroom floor playing, and looked out her window to notice that the trees were blowing in the wind. She
said to mommy, "That wind is scary. Just like ghosts and witches are scary."

Mommy replied with, "There are no such things as ghosts and witches."

Jessica smiled and said, "Yes there is. BOO!"

On a final note, another quick update on the house. After three weeks of nothing but sunshine, the builders got rained out yesterday and today. Luckily BEFORE ripping off the roof of the existing house. So we made due by having the heating guy run ductwork. At one point Hilary overheard one of the heating guys say to his boss, "I'm taking a break so I can call my parole officer." Par for the course I guess.

Monday, we get our shower delivered. The plan is to lift it onto the roof of the front of the house and carry it into the new space. That could be interesting. Now, back to my mouse hunting.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Kids on Moms

Someone forwarded me this as a joke email, but since the subject matter is applicable I thought I would plagarize and post here. Credit goes out to whomever first wrote this...

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions!!

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He Just used bigger

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use
string, I think.

Why did God give you Your mother & not some other mom?
1. We're related
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms & dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home & dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my Mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Say a prayer for GusGus

...and for his younger brother Thelonious.

About a half hour after my previous post, I heard the distinct sound of a piece of plastic scraping across concrete coming from the garage. I investigated to find poor GusGus with his hind legs crossed and stuck to the glue trap, desparately trying to claw his way to safety. At one point he looked me in the eye pleadingly and, I must say, I felt a huge pang of guilt and sadness, and was concerned I'd be bothered by nightmares for the next several hours. But then he pooped all over the trap, and I was done.

It was then I realized I didn't have much of a followup plan for dealing with this situation, so the best I could do was provide him a dumpster funeral. Looking back, that probably wasn't a great idea as the dumpster is going to be sitting in my front lawn for the next two months.

This morning I checked the traps under the couch and found his smaller sibling stuck to the glue trap (after he'd eaten the peanut butter off all the spring traps in the surrounding area again without setting them off). Thelonius was pretty much on his last breaths, and he's now gone.

But, young Jedi, there is another. I heard him in the garage this morning as I left for work. I haven't come up with a name for #3, perhaps "Microsoft", or "cordless". tune in tomorrow, when we find out if our hero is victorious, wiping out the scourge of the insurgency.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Mouse Hunt Part II

He's baaack!

So, the mouse hunt from a couple of weeks ago wasn't quite as successful as I might have thought. Though I chased him out the back door, he obviously slipped back in when we weren't paying attention, because a couple of nights ago I witnessed GusGus scampering across the living room floor. So the hunt was on again. The wife, of course, is ready to move out.

All you men out there, I have advice for you. Do not try to reason with a woman about her fear of small rodents. There will be no reasoning. Part of the conversation went like this:

"That's it! Call and exterminator!"

"I'm not calling an exterminator of one little mouse. I'll get some traps for a buck fifty, and he'll be gone."

"Then I'll pay for an exterminator!!!"

"With what money, oh stay-at-home-mom? (I'm not the best at comforting her, as you can tell. She almost stabbed me with that one)

"With my writing earnings!"

"You mean the money we're saving up to go to Disney with? So let me get this straight, you want to pay several hundred dollars to kill a tiny mouse, instead of flying to Florida to see a giant one?"

"No, the kids and I will go, and you can stay home with the rat!!"

While I managed to convince her to stick around, I wasn't overly successful with the traps the first couple of nights. First I tried these "humane" traps, which were simply little boxes with a trapdoor that shut behind the mouse when he crawled inside to get the peanut butter. GusGus ignored those. So I then went out and bought four of the old fashion spring-loaded ones, and placed two under the couch and two in the garage. The next morning, all four traps were licked clean of peanut butter, but none were set off! Damn, he's crafty. So today I bought two more spring traps of a different brand, as well as those awful glue traps. We did notice, as we shopped for rodent disposal tools today, a whole house fogger product used for disposing vast quantities of mice in a home, appropriately named "Revenge". Cute. Interestingly, the Revenge product line also has something called "Gopher Gasser". I'm thinking the product marketers for this company are a bunch of sick S.O.B.'s. I'm hoping GusGus goes for the spring trap, because I just can't see myself disposing of a live mouse with his feet stuck to a piece of plastic. Poor little GusGus.

Meanwhile, a quick update on the renovation. we now have no family room ceiling, as the builders tore it completely off in order to reinforce the ceiling joists in preparation for the bedroom to be built above it. Yesterday I spent a good portion of the afternoon attempting not to electrocute myself, tracing circuits and cutting wires that were routed through the family room joists and had to be moved to allow for construction. I think I did okay, as the wires that needed to be cut are cut, I'm still alive, and Hilary's hair dryer still works.

Now that part of the third floor is built, I'm realizing that this renovation is HUGE.

This week is going to be a pretty busy one. They should be pretty much finished with the framing and starting on the roof, and I wouldn't be surprised if by the end of the week they start breaking down some walls. The heating guy starts doing his work Tuesday, and the electrician comes Thursday. The mouse will be dead by morning.