Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Zen Judaism

I'm neither Jewish nor Buddhist but I think this is hilarious. Best if read in an old shlamiel voice. This is a substitute for a real entry.

If there is no self, then whose arthritis is this?
Be here now.
Be someplace else later.
Is that so complicated?
Drink tea and nourish life.
With the first
With the second...satisfaction.
With the third...peace.
With the fourth...a danish.
Wherever you go, there you are.
Your luggage is another story.
Accept misfortune as a blessing.
Do not wish for perfect health or a life without problems.
What would you talk about?
There is no escaping karma.
In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote,
you never visited.
And whose fault was that?
***Who doesn't have M&M's in their bathroom?
Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
The Tao does not speak.
The Tao does not blame.
The Tao does not take sides.
The Tao has no expectations.
The Tao demands nothing of others.
The Tao is not Jewish.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.
Let your mind be as a floating cloud.
Let your stillness be as the wooded glen.
And sit up straight.
You'll never meet the Buddha with such rounded shoulders.
Be patient and achieve all things.
Be impatient and achieve all things faster.
To find the Buddha, look within.
Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers.
Each flower blossoms ten thousand times.
Each blossom has ten thousand petals.
You might want to see a specialist.
To practice Zen and the art of Jewish motorcycle maintenance, do the following:
Get rid of the motorcycle.
What were you thinking?
Be aware of your body.
Be aware of your perceptions.
Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.
The Torah says, "Love thy neighbor as thyself."
The Buddha says there is no "self."
So, maybe you are off the hook.
Good one, no?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

John Improvement: The Final Installment

...or until I roll the bloopers & outtakes reel.

First, must say hello to any new readers. Not that I believe I have any, other than the Aussie japanophile pyrite, but I have been a little more active in the Blogspot blogosphere than previously so ya never know, someone who likes to emulate Ambrose Bierce occasionally might click on my nick. What you need to know is this:
Start at the beginning of this blog and move forward. What has been written in the last month or so is not really what this blog is supposed to be about -- everyday stupidies, not home improvements -- so start from the start and you'll be happier. I wrote some killer stuff months ago. Really. When you get done browsing this blog (which may be in a couple minutes if you're not digging my noodling) pop over to Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul (linked in the left column) because I posted the October update to the found photos & lost memories site.

Now, on with the completion of the bathroom project. Or close enough that I can show off the room with pride, anyway. I still have yet to order the left sidesplash (due to the only person at Lowe's who knows anything about custom vanities not working today) but that's the only significant piece that's missing.

Here is the new trim around the egress and closet doors:

Here's the shower, specifically the pretty new curtain and the 12" brushed nickel flange I put in tonight with that bipolar euro showerhead -- and we have been using the shower since Friday, it's really great:

Here's a shot of the light, medicine cabinet, and vanity, with adorable model (ignore the temporary lack of left sidesplash, please):

A view from the entry into the bathroom; isn't this excellent?!:

Paige is working on a mosaic on the windowsill, that's what you're seeing back there. The flange was changed not only because the standard chrome didn't match the brushed nickel we've been using but also because the standard 6" caused us to bump into the shower's hanging soap/razor/etc. holder constantly, knocking everything off, so we figure having the showerhead another six inches forward might help. The spout in the shower will be replaced as soon as I can find one; all the ones in the bin at the store are chrome, and the brushed nickel ones demoed on the wall are apparently part of a systeme so you pay over a hundred bucks to get one in a box with a matching shower valve and showerhead, neither of which we need. The bathroom is in full use now so let's call this job done!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Car, honk if you suck. *meep*" -- Wolfgang @ VW

Greetings and welcome to another scintilating entry. It's time to discuss some stupidities in the world. Leading the pack (in my head anyway) is the latest shift-bid at work. Everything you need is in this little bottle This time it seems more organized. However, in the list of 150 possible shifts, there is one shift offered that is the same as what I (and dozens of others) are working... Mon-Fri noon-9pm. Which is one more than was offered at the last shift bid for the shift myself and a dozen others were working, Sun-Thu noon-9pm, but I think they might have brought that one back. One bright spot, the seniority rating is listed on the voting page so one can predict how much of a chance one has to get a desired shift. I'm #20 so I do run a great chance of getting an okay shift, just not the one I've been working. Meh. Rainy season has started here, and for some reason the last two weeks I've had trouble getting to work on time no matter what time I leave the house... people drive like it's snowing when there's nothing on the road, no accidents to avoid, not a damn problem to report including rain in those slow areas. Speed the hell up! If I wind up with a 12:30pm-9:00pm shift, I think I'll leave the house at the same time I've been departing; maybe then I'll get to work on time?

Trivial stupidity: I started getting my first wisdom tooth at 19, in the lower left corner, and all it really did at the time was break through the gum with one point. It was about five years before it progressed any further, merely revealing another point. On driving home today I felt something that seemed like I had something in my back teeth, and I felt around back there -- no, just a little more detail of that tooth has become exposed. My 39th birthday is coming up in three weeks, at which time I will have had this tooth still attempting to come in for twenty years, where most everyone else gets them pulled within five years of emerging. (For the record, that is my only wisdom tooth. The one on the lower right got a deep cavity and was pulled by the gheto dentist -- there's a really good story associated with that! -- and the upper two have never shown up, but my dentist says they're on the x-ray.)

Dumb calls that have come to me lately, but should not have:
• Can't keep Internet Explorer running for more than a second, so thinks there's a problem with his home Internet service. More booze, please! (We're not his Internet provider. And it's his computer, not his service.)
• The couple who were frustrated and tired, so everything they said was snippy and snappy, but got angry and hung up when it became apparent they were not following the trouble-shooting steps -- who knew "so what does it say on your screen?" could be so inflamatory? (I would have escalated the call to the right people in one minute had they just played along.)
• Deaf as a freaking post, computer misfiring badly, and the call lasted an hour and three-quarters, involving me under the desk screaming directions into my mike she wasn't following. (I'm told video of this will show up on YouTube in the future. I'll share the link if that happens. Hoo hoo!)
• The guy who couldn't get the flashlight on his Nokia phone to work. (Yes, it had one. No, this isn't a phone I support.)

Hugs aplenty to my sister Becky and my new nephew Xander, born 9/14.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Weekend Report (or A Report Out Of My Weak End)

Greets, all. Amazingly I was able to get Blogger to accept five photos, and it only took 18 tries to get them them loaded (heck, the first one took five tries). Guys, what's up? So without too much jawboning, here are some photos. Actual stupidities and descriptions of the life I lead can wait until later this week.

Late at night, when all the people are sleeping, The Toothbrush Family comes to life! There's father Tom, mother Tess, and little Tina and Tony. Oh, and Gramps!

Replaced the crusty silver-ish toggle and drain cap with brushed nickel pieces. Finding a spout that matches for a fair price could take a little hunting.

Replaced the paint-covered air vent cover with a swell new one. And since the floor is now a little higher than it had been this required me to Dremel off ¼" from the bottom. The things I do for art...

Glued up and grouted the cove tiles last weekend. Sealed them a couple days ago but the room's air is still unbreatheable. Ahh, suade shoes...

We have stained the wood strips and will put them up soon. This image is just a representation -- after a second staining of a test piece, the color is just as light but it's more glossy, and we kind of like that effect so we're going to put on a second coat before nailing up.

We bought a special new showerhead today, a Short Euro by Sun-Cal, at the Puyallup Fair for a fair discount. Notice that the two sides independantly hinge up and down and also flap sideways. Perfect if there are two people in the shower of different heights, or you want to wash out both ears at the same time. (Finding a brushed nickel flange is easy. Finding a matching flange ring... uh, hmm.)

The shower rod has been spraypainted white twice but not mounted yet (paint must dry and it's been rainy the last day or so). You're updated now.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dàvid Gabriella, legyen szíves jön haza!

I'm foregoing the usual biweekly post to throw some bread on the water. This has been bothering me for a bit and now I need to say something. The rest of you can just ignore this, it won't make much sense to you.

Gab, I haven't seen or heard anything from you since July 27. You're bound to be back from your trip by now, and it's not like you to totally ignore the computer. Please speak to me. Gabika the missing Not even when you've been angry with me have you been so silent, and it is scaring me. I attempted to write Ákos (I kept the email he sent when you were having monitor troubles in 2002) to at least find out if you were okay, but that address no longer works -- the domain doesn't resolve anymore, it gives a T-Mobile placeholder page. Now I'm depressed.

You told me not to give up on you before you left for your trip, because you'd been irratic in your online presence for the weeks before then. I fear that either you've given up on me or something happened to you that I'd want to know about.

Szivárvány, mondja meg hol nap ragyog.
(Sorry about any grammar mistakes, blame InterTran.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday's home improvement update

Let's begin with a bit of screaming about a stupidity. Detail of the trim strips On Friday I bought the trim strips for the doorways, and I chose real wood with a couple raised lines and an ivy pattern etched into it. (The regular trim strips were not only not all that good, but they were all fake wood. The one closest to the shape of what had been used in here [and it was real wood] was made of what looked like styrofoam!) I got the tops and three of the side pieces done, but the fourth side I messed up on -- cut the wrong end of the strip in the mitre. So I go back to the store, get a replacement, come home and... see illustration, it's screwed up on the end and where the cut should be there are no raised lines. It was too late to go back to the store, so I had to put off replacing the replacement until Sunday, when I was really hoping we could just start painting the strips without spending hours screwing around beforehand... we find enough excuses not to get started as it is. Anyhow, on Sunday I returned the strip and they happily exchanged it with a good one (I didn't say perfect) so the show can go on, and all trim strips have been tweaked to fit around the hinges & strikeplates. We're deciding whether to lightly paint the trim some shade of green we own or stain it the same maple color as the vanity/cabinet.

Saturday, as mentioned last entry, we went to Yakima to visit friends and relatives, thus no home improvements were done. One significant note: A week ago when we went to Packwood, Paige's mother asked us days before to come see her and we declined because we knew we would be busy. Well, it turned out her entire family came over to mother's house and they wondered where we were. Uh, no one ever mentioned a family gathering beforehand or we would have made the time. I know for a fact that her mom has been hanging out with my mom, at the health club, but we're both frankly surprised that her mom (and three sibs) would start acting like my mom as a result. Mush in triplicate Our time with her mom and one sib (other sib and lesbo-sib-in-law were at work) was pretty okay, once I figured out where the hell everyone was (hint: the opposite side of town from where they said they'd be).

So before the trim debacle, I got the medicine cabinet up. The instructions say to get help mounting it, but since my coworker was Paige the extent of her help was getting the thing aligned... I used the drawers from the old vanity to prop up the medicine chest while I attached it to the wall. I also bought a studfinder, which identified the studs as being 16" apart... the pre-drilled holes in the cabinet were 18½" apart. I wound up drilling holes 1" inward from the existing holes, and managed to cover the outline of the previous medicine cabinets when it was up. Email me your girls JD Also completed on Friday night was putting in a transitional piece of wood (a reducer) between the hardwood hallway floor and the tile bathroom floor... see illustration, which I can't call exciting but since this item is something people normally take for granted my cutting it to the size and contour of the doorframe then putting it in is at least noteworthy.

I'm holding off on taking the picture of the cove tiles, which I grouted tonight. We bought this silicone caulk for putting around the tops of the cove tiles and between materials (tile and wood, tile and the tub, etc.) which is the same silver-grey as the grout, and once that's been applied you'll get a gander. At least this time I wised up -- instead of making a 25 pound bag of grout and letting it dry in the bucket, I used half of a 10 pound box and got everything rinsed out before it could get crunchy. I made it a little wetter than the directions say because I was going to pipe it into the crevaces with a cake decorating bag instead of spreading it with a float, and I hope this does not have a negative effect on the final result. Anyhow, we're almost done with the project and Paige has already said she's going to start yanking down those decorative wallpaper borders in the kitchen... you know, the ones the previous crackheads put up then painted over/around?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

You're the Betty Crocker of the bathroom!

the proverbial t-shirtBeen there, done that, didn't actually get the t-shirt (it was only $5) but did photograph it.
Launching directly into the stupidity of the day, it is an IT department that installs firewall software during work hours (they can't be arsed to do anything after 9pm, when people have left for the day), in the process causing major chaos in accessing the customer database and other vital applications while three hundred people are on calls. Which isn't necessarily connected to why there will be no calls on queue, plenty of people sitting twiddling, yet when I try to dial out to forward someone where they need to be there's a message saying "all circuits are busy" in a voice quite similar to our IT director [but I can't prove that's him]. I don't mean to imply that I could do any better, but I'd certainly be doing my screwing up when no one was around to feel the sting. Still, no matter how screwed up stuff is here (and I consider installing content filtering software because people can't be trusted to be pretty screwed up), it's still not as bad as the time that the tech service department of the local library system installed a new firewall program systemwide two weeks before they received training on how to deploy it, resulting in about ten days of inability to look up books or manage patron records -- not to mention what the public cares about and comes to libraries in droves to do, browse the Net. (Kisses, Andrea. You will not be forgotten.)

Gigi's green union suitTo make up for posting the photo my wife didn't like of her without underwear, here's one she does like of her with underwear. Okay, we didn't buy this union suit but she loved it.
In the renovation department, progress has been slow but this isn't a race. I put up the cove tiles in the closet (after Paige painted the lower part -- that's it, just the area from floor to the bottom shelf), and have yet to put up the medicine cabinet because I'm gonna need some molly screws to hold it up. (Oh, stud finder, where art thou?) I'll be visiting Yakima on Saturday to see some in-laws and do some computer twaddling, so there's one day of doing practical things like grouting I'm short. I was told something the other night that was encouraging: We have neighbors three doors down who have been doing a bathroom fixup for six months -- and it's still not a functional space. There's a leak to fix and they still haven't been able to solve it on their own. (That house was up for sale when we bought ours, so this could have been our problem. However, Paige was against living in a two-story house and it turns out the upstairs is terribly hot in summer, and I couldn't deal with a back lawn which visibly has been smothered by pine needles thus nothing's going to grow.) The woman of the house says that her in-laws are coming for a stay next week, so having the bathroom useable would have been really great... ugh! It feels very good, in that light, to know that we've [nearly] completed the project rather than let it languish, and that people think it looks faaaabulous. The other bathroom and the kitchen, not necessarily in that order, will be facing serious renovations now that we know we're capable, likely next summer so we can save up our sheckles again since those are gonna take more time and money to do. By the way, since you asked: I've used the new toilet once, and Paige is still too giddy to break it in.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Laboring on Labor Day

For Jamie and Taylor: a Lammy porn flickHello, readership! Indeed I only posted once last week, with an update appended, because I knew I'd have more to say today. It's easier if I itemize what's been accomplished to date, which I'll do momentarily. Saturday was spent in Packwood, Washington at their annual communitywide rummage sale. Every year we say "this is getting bigger by the year" but most of the time it's true, and this year was definitely the largest turnout of vendors seen to date. It was between 94°F and 102°F outside, depending upon who you asked, and we bought probably half a gallon of water at various vendors, 12 ounces at a time, during the course of the day. I saw the videotape at left early in the day and thought of various bloggers (none of which are redheads, some of which play guitar). I took a bunch of digital photos of odd items and odd people, bought a stack of paper photos and a Brownie negative from three dealers [Ariel, are you out there?], and had dinner at the Huff & Puff Drive-In near Randle, and that place is a delicious anachronism. Sunday was spent doing yardwork, bathroom work, or nothing at all, and here are a couple photos -- I should have taken more but I was actually working and not everything is visual; an action photo of me spraying sealant on the floor at 2am would have been only slightly impressive. Know what that stuff smells like? The spray you get at the shoe store when you buy suades.

The cove tiles are being mounted and properly spaced. The gaps below are so that grout can be stuffed under them as well as between them.

The wall is painted, the vanity top is in place, the faucet has been installed and plumbing reconnected. Out of frame, the light has been remounted and fixtures reattached but the medicine cabinet has not been installed -- and we haven't put the sidesplash on yet.
Seems that that sidesplash we bought at Lowe's ($2, a customer order which hadn't been picked up) is the right color and fits perfectly but was meant for the right side of the vanity, and we need one for the left side. Nothing on that box made it clear which side it was for; we presumed it was square at both ends or something. We also figured out a few other complications with the vanity top, such as the makers intended the cabinet to be 1" away from the back wall (what?!) and not be touching side walls, which is not the way we intended to use it.

So here's the status of things:
• Walls -- painted in the lightest shade, and it looks good.
• Floor tiles -- done and sealed!
• Fan cover -- the first thing put back in place, as it was the easiest. :)
• Toilet -- can be installed tomorrow.
• Light -- functional.
• Medicine cabinet -- coming next.
• Closet -- not painted yet, it'll happen possibly today, and see next item...
• Cove tiles -- mounted around the perimeter of the room but not in the closet yet because it hasn't been painted; grouting and caulking will happen in due time.
• Vanity top -- installed and caulked but not complete, see next item...
• Sidesplash -- wrong side! gotta get a new one of them, hoo hoo!
• Towel racks, TP holder, switchplates -- all there.
• Trim strips -- we still haven't bought new ones yet, but the cove tiles have been cut to handle trim the same size as what had been there, and I do own a mitre box.
• Vent cover -- have not either procured a new one or stripped the paint off the old one; the size is a standard 6" high with the hole 1" off the floor, but whomever put together the ducting used a 7¼" high vent cover and left the space below the vent hole open(!), so either we cover that gap or find a way to fill it.
• Bath -- The original idea was to not do anything to the tub and shower enclosure, but we are now interested in slight modifications of other elements: changing the showerhead to a rain type and replacing the (somewhat new) handles with another style, if such an option is available. Also, in removing this mildew-covered bracket-ish thing that was bias-taped to the wall (I always assumed someone had put up a Stick-Up deodorizer in the shower...?!), we discovered why it was there -- two holes had been drilled in the plastic wall, and this was covering it. Crackheads!! Must caulk those, and I'm sure Paige will use this development as justification to rip out and remodel the bath/shower portion of the bathroom in the future. Unlike the other bathroom, the shower's flange is just fine, and I replaced all the valves within the last five years out of necessity.
• Shower rod -- haven't trimmed it or put up the mounting brackets yet. We've had the new shower curtain and hooks plus a new bathmat ready for a month.
• Etcetera -- I'd like to put some sort of tile protector down (the books mention there are products available for this but gloss over it -- heh, get it, gloss over? -- because most ceramic tile is resistant. Ours appears to show dirt because it's light and the faces are fairly matte so I think it'd be a good idea for the sake of preservation and maintenance. I'm sure when Paige sees how often the floor needs scrubbing just from walking on it in shoes she will embrace the idea.

I'm still having a good time even if my skeleton is out of alignment.

11:58pm update: I have a place to go!

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