Thursday, January 29, 2009

Worst sound bite ever

Back in high school, my one brief moment of popularity came when I joined a small group of friends and rented a helicopter as transportation to the Senior Prom. For a very brief time, all those high school bullies whose fists I was so well acquainted with were actually impressed by me. My moment of pride was damped slightly after I was interviewed by the local news team, and the ONLY part they put on the air was me exclaiming, "It was cheap! It was cheap!"

My buddies are STILL giving me crap for that.

Well, today I outdid even that glorious statement.

During lunch today I walked into a local sandwich shop, and Channel 4 Action News was there waiting for someone dumb enough to grant an interview. The guy with the mic asked me if I’d be willing. I asked what the subject was. He said they were interviewing people about concerns related to the big peanut butter recall. I told him I’d be willing to fake my way through it, and I believe I did. We talked on camera for close to 5 minutes, and I thought I came off fairly intelligent and well-versed on the subject.

I saw myself this evening on the 5pm news. This time my sound bite was far, far worse. I ended up with about a half second of air time. And check out what I said. While I can't find the actual video, here's the transcript. I'm towards the end.

I put a lot of faith into making sure I'm up on the news and finding out what we need to pay attention to.

Are you KIDDING ME??? What the hell does that even MEAN???????? And look at that participle, just dangling off the end there. What the hell!!!????

And by the way, I'm a shopper FROM McCandless, not IN McCandless!

I'm never doing an on camera interview again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A couple of interesting tidbits

While I work on my next piece of fish-wrapping for this blog, I thought I'd post a couple of interesting items I came across today in an effort to keep traffic to the site and ensure folks know I haven't vanished off the face of the blogosphere just yet.

Electric Bandaids
An interesting article about a company attempting to bring the electric bandage to market. According to the story, it's well known that a little jolt of electric current helps wounds heal. Personally, I think the scientists are headed down the wrong path here. What they really need to be doing is figure out a way of embedding mommy's kiss into these things. However, I wonder if they will come out in Dora and Spongebob versions?

World's Cutest Autism Therapy
Yet another Carnegie Mellon spinoff has created a toy robot called the Beatbot, designed to aid therapists in autism therapy. Check this thing out, it's totally adorable, and yet strangely Big Brotherish given it contains a camera that watches how you react to it. Make sure to click the link at the end of the article to watch the video, I dare you to look away. I want one of these.

My wife has been Shrunky Dunk!
My wife is currently aiding my offspring with the process of cooking Shrinky Dinks. Apparently, in the directions, they seem to have dangled a participle or two. The directions state, "Watch as the plastic begins to curl, move about and then flatten."

Which explains why my wife was scurrying around the floor trying to squeeze under the door.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gutting the festing 109

Remind me again why I take on home improvement projects that involve plumbing? I hate plumbing. With every fiber of my being, I hate plumbing. I don't even like that computer game where you attach lines of pipe together to get water flowing from point A to point B.

However the latest story about my effort to redo my daughters' bathroom doesn't involve plumbing. It involves mirrors.

You may have caught on to the fact that I have two daughters. Sharing a bathroom during their formative years will most likely prove to be a challenge of design, storage, and copper-piping fortitude. In fact, most people ask me one simple question when I tell them that I'm installing a pedestal sink in the bathroom: "where are they going to put the tampons?" My answer is, "Don't know, don't care, and certainly not in my workshop."

Okay, so perhaps I care a little. That's why I decided that instead of buying a prefabricated, wall-mounted medicine cabinet, I would take the time and effort to build a custom-designed cabinet that's almost a foot deep. Plenty of storage for feminine articles. I came across a design (for the entire bathroom, actually) in Workbench Magazine, and decided to copy it.

The simple design of the cabinet door involved carving a rabbet out of the back of the frame, serving as a place to drop in a mirror and a backboard. The mirror and backer would then be held in my a couple of little turn-buttons inside the door. I didn't like that idea. I had visions of one of the girls messing with the turn-buttons and causing the mirror to fall out, recreating that scene from Die Hard when gunmen shoot out the glass of the computer room, causing a barefoot John McClane to drag his bloodied feet out the door to safety. Not a good idea, I thought. Instead I made a groove in the door frame, assembling the frame permanently around the mirror.

Not the wisest idea either, I found out later.

Installation of the medicine cabinet went fabulously. It fit nicely into the hole I carved for it, and was square and level. The glass shelves I ordered even fit correctly.

The final step was to attach the magnetic catch to hold the door closed. As I screwed the little metal plate onto the back of the door I heard a high-pitched "plink" sound. High-pitched plink sounds are never good. You know how when Wile E. Coyote accidentally launches himself off a cliff and, for a brief moment, there's complete silence and the laws of gravity are suspended? This "plink" sound was somewhat reminiscent of that moment when Wile E. Coyote looks down and discovers he's about to plummet. I quickly swung the door around and saw a 6-inch crack going up the mirror, a result of putting the screw in just the wrong place.

Awesome. My permanently-mounted mirror has a crack in it. That will do wonders for resale value.

Well, I'm saving the rebuilding of this door for another day. Meanwhile, I've got other stuff to do.

I finally got around to installing the sink this weekend. And have a recommendation for anyone who attempts to install a pedestal sink. Attach the faucet and drain to the sink before attaching the sink to the wall. It will make your life much easier and your knuckles will thank you.

The sink install only involved two trips to Home Depot. On the first, I walked in with a photo of my existing setup and asked the guy to give me every piece of piping I'd need to get the sink installed without a second trip to Home Depot. The second trip to Home Depot involved getting an additional 4" piece of PVC pipe which I needed once I discovered I had everything except the additional inches of piping 4 necessary to connect the underside of the sink to the trap. Once I had everything and after only 3 episodes of detaching and reattaching all the connections to stop leaks, It was done. I'd call that a successful sink installation.

The next step is the toilet, but before I get there I must deal with yet another distraction. It seems our roof is not adequately insulated or vented, and we've got an ice dam problem. That ain't good.

At least the kids think it's cool to look at. Kind of like how they enjoy looking at their oddly shaped faces in the cracked mirror.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fatgirl slim and Smalley Smalls

Not sure what to make of this, but what kind of dad would I be not to post it? I especially like the polka dot socks.

Okay, now zoom into that picture and check out the beautiful of our two innocents in the background, upper right corner. Where'd those two go????


Well, those two crazy nutbag buddies of mine made it to the game, and tailgating was successful. Most of the time was spent hanging out with two equally nutty guys who came in from Toronto for the game. It was interesting to hear two Canadian's takes on Football, Obama and Sarah Palin, and I couldn't help but point out how impressed I was with their knowledge given 90 percent of the people in Heinz Field Gold Lot 1 had no idea who runs the government of Canada (yes, myself included). I was also strangely impressed by the fact that they brought ACTUAL Canadian bacon to put on their hamburgers.

I should also make a correction to my previous post, which is to point out that they in fact did NOT buy season tickets to the Bills in order to gain the rights to buy playoff tickets. No, instead one of them is on the waiting list for season tickets to the Steelers. Ah, much less nutty.

So after all that planning, it was mission accomplished. I met my friends for a fun tailgate, and they got to freeze their keesters off all night watching Ben and Troy take charge. Dear god...I'm assimilating....please help me....

Sunday, January 18, 2009

They may be nutbags, but at least they aren't women

I should add one thing to my last post. While I'm meeting up with my two nutso friends for this Steelers game, my wife is hooking up with a gaggle of her girlfriends to go downtown to see Menopause, The Musical (yes, ironic I know). The past three days I've done virtually nothing but listen to my wife's side of perhaps two dozen phone conversations, hearing about plans being arranged, rearranged, and rearranged again. Will parking be an issue? So-and-so doesn't like the dinner idea. This person can't make it because she's in labor. She doesn't drive in snow. there was an earthquake. somehow the evening plans went from 14 people meeting for dinner and a show to about 8 or 10 disparate smaller groups of women perhaps meeting at the theater before the show.

I can't help but be amused that two guys...GUYS...mind you...managed to plan this event well before football season ever started, and are going to manage to see this game successfully despite having to drive over 450 miles, in snow, to see the game.

It's been said, by the way, that because of the proximity of the showing of Menopause, The Musical to Heinz field, somewhere over the Ohio river there is likely to be a cloud of testosterone interacting with a cloud of estrogen and perhaps causing a massive weather event culminating in the destruction of all humanity for hundreds of miles around Pittsburgh. Make sure to watch the game tonight, as you won't want to miss that!

Ah, delicious irony.

My nutbag friends

I've said it before, I'm no sports aficionado. I don't know my two point conversion from my seventh inning stretch. But with the final game of the NFL playoffs today (yeah yeah, go Steelers) I find myself sucked into the plans two of my buddies have to spread money, love and sporting insanity across Route 80 for approximately 450 miles.

To protect their identities, I will refer to these friends of mine as Nutbag#1 and Nutbag#2. Living in Connecticut, the two of them decided this year to splurge on season tickets to the Buffalo Bills (approximately 400 miles away) in an effort to get on the elite list of folks who get to spend oodles of money on Playoff tickets. It seems their plans worked out for them, and they are currently driving west en route to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh for the Steelers/Ravens game this evening.

I have no idea how much season tickets to the Bills cost, but let's imagine for a moment that they are $500 each. So that's $500, plus $200 each for tickets to today's game. Plus $150 for parking (they decided to go for the gusto and get a parking pass in Gold Lot #1 next to the stadium entrance). Plus perhaps $250 worth of provisions for tailgating. Plus gas money to drive 0ver 900 miles in the next 48 hours. Plus the hotel room (unless they decide to crash at our house).

Now, let's add to this the fact that Pittsburgh had 6 inches of snow last night, and the snowstorm is currently headed east, across route 80. In other words, they are driving straight into it. I should have created a gambling pool to wager on whether or not they make it here for game time....if they make it here at all.

So how am I sucked in? Well, first they had me comunicate with friends and coworkers to find out about an active tailgate game. Then they had me meet up with some guy in an alley in downtown Pittsburgh yesterday, to slip $150 out of the window of my car in return for a gold slip of paper allowing my friends the privilege of parking their car (I believe I've made it to the FBI's watch list for that one). And of course, I am to meet them somewhere downtown to help them navigate their way around Heinz Field when they get here (like I know).

So all you Pittsburghers who are firmly solidified in the nuttiness that is Steelers fanaticism, rest assured you are not alone. Oh look, it's snowing again.

Friday, January 16, 2009

No wonder the economy's gone bust

Alright, I've got a bone to pick with Dick's Sporting Goods.

Ignoring for a moment the fact that it's approximately no degrees here in Pittsburgh today, this week marks the first snowfall of any substance this winter. Until now, the winter landscape consisted primarily of dead grass and that mud bog next to the front mailbox where my wife's minivan tires seemed to miss the driveway by about a foot while pulling out. But this week we had ACTUAL snow. Sure, it was only about 3 or 4 inches, but that's enough to make it worth pulling out the old sled.

Except that we don't own a decent sled.

With global warming being the controversial and somehow prevalent phenomenon that it is, I didn't do much to prepare for winter this year. I didn't gas up the snowblower until this past tuesday. I never replaced the ratty old sled with the gouge in the underside which causes it to turn left into the bushes immediately after takeoff. But during our first snow day, our neighbor and his kids came over to our house, and we discovered that with just the right amount of iciness, this week's snowfall created the ultimate sledding conditions in our backyard. We found that with just the right angle we could careen down our back yard hillside, across one neighbor's yard, across another's, down that neighbor's side yard, and into the street about 400 yards away at a speed of 30mph. Sweet. And this was with my neighbor's cheap plastic sled.

So today I decided to stop at Dick's Sporting Goods to pick one up myself. But lo and behold, there wasn't a sled to be found. I asked an attendant, who told me that they sold out of sleds almost a month ago.


Why on earth do retail stores do this? Go to a clothing store right now, and there won't be a sweater to be found, except perhaps in the clearance section. Don't they realize that people buy sweaters when they are COLD? Don't the grasp the idea that sleds should be purchased during WINTER? I blame the retails for the state of the economy we're in. Americans want to save gas, and all that's available are Hummers. We want warm flannel nighties for those chilly Saturday nights, and all we can get are Speedos. We're thrilled to finally have snow, and yet for some reason all we can buy are water skiis.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Keep your garbage disposal in good condition

You know, if you let it go too long, having a broken garbage disposal in your kitchen sink can lead to a lot of problems down the road. All sorts of odd things can grow in the sink.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ask the Smart Dad...

I found this in a pile on my desk. It's a picture my daughter drew two years ago in Kindergarten. Don't ask why it's a negative image...that's my scanner acting wonky. What's important is the message. "I will ask MY SMART DAD before taking any unknown substance."

Note the light bulb of brilliancy and the corporate logo shirt. She knows me well. And she knows she'll get a straight answer from me. While I don't recall being asked recently by my daughter if she could snort any white powder or down a bottle of skull-and-crossbones-flavored Gogurt, I'm ready for anything.

"Dad, what's this stuff?"

"That's Oxalic acid, dear. I use it to clean bird poop off the deck."

"Do you think it might taste good on ice cream?"

"Dunno. Never tried."

Saturday, January 03, 2009

So much for that goal of mine...

Much like you yourself are doing right this very moment, I spent a good portion of my free time this holiday break surfing the internet and reading stuff online when I could have actually been productive. In fact, I did a lot of things to avoid being productive. Oh sure, I had grand plans for the time off. I was going to finish the bathroom by the end of the year, so our kids could be brushing their teeth, showering and pooping in their grand new space while we could spend the next several days disinfecting the guest bathroom that they've now trashed. But as usual, the real world got in the way. Holiday parties, movies with the kids, and mornings sleeping in got the best of me.

While I certainly made SOME progress on the bathroom redo, along with the regular vacation distractions I my progress was also hampered by a family of mice that decided to make the wall behind the bathroom its home for the winter. Several evenings were spent trapping and disposing of the little critters and/or coordinating a plan of attack. The good news is that these were perhaps the stupidest mice around, and big fans of peanut butter. I'd place a trap each evening, and the next day I'd be getting rid of a little bugger. Seven days, seven mice. You'd think after two or three family members met their demise they'd avoid that scary thing that smelled of peanuts and find food elsewhere.

Despite my time spent hunting, I managed to finish the walls and begin building a medicine cabinet. Since I have two young daughters that will eventually have MASSIVE bathroom storage needs, I was looking for more than the typical wall-mount medicine cabinet the depth of a box of spaghetti. Instead, I wanted something as cavernous as a Ford Expedition. After a couple of visits to Home Depot I determined that I would be on my own to devise something. Fine by me. Conveniently the wall in which this cabinet is to be installed is a "plumber's wall", meaning it's over a foot deep and backs up to the other bathroom, so there's plenty of space to install whatever I want. I started with the reciprocating saw, tearing out a hole in the wall to make way for the cabinet. It was at this point I made one major mistake. I didn't quite realize the amount of vibration that the saw would cause, and during the tear out I managed to shake the wall so violently I caused a collection of glass candles in the guest bathroom on the opposite side of the wall to fall and the toilet. I spent the next hour picking out shards of glass from there, thanking all that was holy that whomever last pooped in there had remembered to flush.

So far I've built the box that will make up the cabinet, and even surprised myself with the fact that it fit into the hole perfectly with the first try. I'm now working on the door, hoping against hope that I don't accidentally drop a trim router on the mirror as I do.

Speaking of routers, this project marks the first official use of my new router table. Dad and I built this into my table saw during his last visit, and it marks the introduction of a whole new set of opportunities to spend time in the workshop, as well as opportunities to spend money at my local Rockler store.