Saturday, June 30, 2007
as messed up as a soup sandwich
The images in today's bloggitude are the Befores of my next project. Kitchen? No, but the noises are getting louder about that. Spare bathroom? No. Some other area we've discussed earlier? Nope. The master bedroom? No, but I foresee a trip to a lighting store to replace the overhead light... like most houses built in the 50's and 60's, the contractor used those simple two-bulb lights with the shade held under them by a cap-nut, which presently cost about $5. But speaking of those cheap bedroom lights, that's what I'll be removing from my office. I will be replacing one of those with a lighted fan. As you can see in the lower image, I've chosen a 30" diameter fan and also elected to swap out the fru-fru (3 candalabra) lights that came on it for some real (4 moveable spots) lights. Also, since I don't believe that the utility box the fixture is connected to is being held in place by anything stronger than two threepenny nails, I'll replace that with something more up-to-code for fans. And since I like having the lights on a dimmer and know this doesn't work so well for fans, I've obtained a single doohicky that can control the fan and light from one (existing) switchbox, thus I don't have to screw around with installing a second switch and gangbox the wall... and you would not believe how much they charge for those. Damn monopoly! A plain switch costs like 88¢ a dimmer costs about $5-$10, a gangbox costs a buck or two, and this device with two switches is $25! Anyhow, I'll set into this project on Tuesday, my next day off. My bride prefers it when I do my home improvement projects without her present so she doesn't have to see the mess or hear my un-family-friendly commentary about various aspects of the project. That happens when previous home improvements were done by Crackheads™, as you've read previously.
My wife has been on me for awhile to find out what's wrong with the phone in the kitchen / dining room, the one we use most often. There's so much static at times you can't hear anything. I finally did that a few days ago. Is it a bad phone? Buy a new one, try it out, no difference, but at least it doesn't rattle and it can be heard ringing from the bedroom clearly. Is it the handset cord? Can't be, we just replaced that a month or two. Cord from phone to splitter? Replaced, nope. Cord from splitter to Caller ID box? Perhaps, and to lessen the mess of cords why don't I just replace that with the DSL filter. Hmm, still noise. Cord from Caller ID box to wall? Replaced, nope. The wall jack? I think we're onto something. The phone can be plugged directly into the jack (okay, put the DSL filter on the cord first) and it's noisy. Buy a new jack plate at Lowes! Discover that the old one was mounted against the wall, and this one requires a hole in the wall. No problem... uh, wait, there's a stud behind the drywall here. Pull out the drill and a 1" router bit. Dig out space for the back of the jack plate. Wire up, test out, all is great. Time to mount to wall... Okay, here's a stupidity for you: Why is it that phone jack plates come with the same kind of bolts as electrical plates, when I have never seen a phone jack installed in a gangbox? Those bolts are useless in drywall! Go out to shed, find a couple appropriate-sized wood screws, use those instead (since there is a stud for them to go into!), and it's all flush and pretty. Hmm, the wall itself makes it obvious it's time to paint, since that jack had been there since 1960 (even if the phone wiring changed at some point) and had been painted over once or twice... who knew the kitchen was originally stale-guacamole green? We know it now. But anyhow, task complete and now the phone is crystal clear, yaaay me! And painting of the kitchen, those noises I have been hearing this week, appears to be the next project we'll tackle.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
I was born in the winter and cooled by a warm heart
Howdy, my two to four readers! I'm sort of on the ball lately; yesterday I posted the July update to Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul (see link at left), and today I wrote my bimonthly entry for Say Something Cryptic's Daybook (also at left, plus a click). I should feel a little bad about not doing some work on that site because I haven't updated all the links on it to point to its present location, but I never think about it. Or until I'm writing a Daybook entry and say "oh, I haven't done that yet." Not that anyone really notices beside O+>, bless his heart.
Real life stupidity perpetrated by me, myself, and I: I broke the fourth toe on my right foot. And I did it by hitting my foot against one of my new baseboard trim strips while running to my home office last week. I'll leave out most of the explanation of why I was running down the hall to my office out, it's pretty stupid, and merely say that the goal was to look out my window to confirm that a schoolbus was dropping off a student at the corner, to answer the question "school is still in session here on June 19?!" And it was. That mere fact, as one who was always done with school by the fifth of June, is another stupidity but the elders credit too many snow-days for the extended length. Personally, I credit (as I have done in this blog before) the fact that the local school district seems to take a day off every two or three weeks... if the kids and teachers were in class where they belong, maybe they wouldn't fall behind? But anyhow (as one who pays the school taxes yet has no kids of his own), my opinion doesn't matter. I've sought no medical attention for this toe -- okay, I did go seek it the next day but the clinic was full of people so I wandered back out; Internet friends who have had broken toes told me the doctor is not going to do anything cast/splint/X-ray/settingwise anyhow. I have some nice pictures of that toe to show the massive bruising, but you probably don't want to see them. Click hither if you do, you sick sick person you. The bruise spread a bunch after that photo, but it has since subsided down to a tasteful brown that goes up into the main part of my foot.
Here are a few random stupidities which I've come across lately:
• Was passing the side of a Skippers Fish & Chips on the corner of the main major thoroughfare going to work, and noticed while sitting at the light that there was a chicken strutting around the dumpster. She probably knew this was a fish place; you wouldn't see that at a KFC. (Voice in my head of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets: "here chicky chicky chicky...") And then I noticed the brood of chicks next to her. Urban free range poultry!
• Was passing the side of a Shell station on the corner of the main major thoroughfare going to work, and noticed there was a nicely-dressed man walking up and down the sidewalk with a sign while I sat at the light. Okay, turn this way... "You can buy drugs at the pump here!" it said. Having passed this gas station after midnight every night on the way home from work, it sounded accurate. And that very night, exactly that happened -- when I was driving past, a car pulled up to the side of the pumps, and a guy in a car at the pump walked over and handed the newly-arrived driver something. That's what I call a full service island!
• Bumpersticker of the day, seen on the back of a minivan: "Beware of the stupid driver behind me."
• T-shirt I'm going to order is an ad from a matchbook cover: front - "115,000 More Programmers Needed By 1975", back (with striker!) - "Learn Basic Computer Programming At Home! Experienced Men Earn $7,000 - $12,000 Per Year". See it here.
Friday, June 15, 2007
when I try to find myself in other people's eyes I'm never there
Tuesday morning: The plan: meet up with Karen a couple blocks from my work around noon. The result: Since time was not her own, no one else was as game to go anywhere or do anything as she was, so I went over to her brother's house across town and hung out with her family for a couple hours, until they had to get ready for the redheaded neice-child's graduation. Which was pretty cool, I haven't seen her brothers in twenty years or so and got to meet their kids, as well as Karen's son. Just between me and you, the reason why I've been so interested in meeting him is because, well, had things gone differently half a lifetime ago and different [ahem, better on her part, if I may be so bold] choices been made, he could have been my son. You're welcome to think this is the wrong mindset to have, but it's the one I carry and I needed to face that spectre to make peace with it. I have now. I see a lot of his mother in him visually, but he is his own person in personality and is a very upbeat young man. And not everyone can wear a leather tricorn and look as cool doing so. :)
Wednesday morning: This time the plan went down better; there was a gathering of Karen, her two kids, her graduate neice, and her parents (who I also haven't seen in twenty years) down in the Antique Row downtown. We wandered around for a couple hours and I bought a blown-glass mushroom Christmas ornament of as-yet-undetermined origin and age. So we had a great time together and didn't really talk to each other a lot, but I was more social and bouncy than the last time we met so I feel pretty good about my performance. Oh, and I remembered the birthday card this time. I did have one snicker along the way: in one of the larger antique places there was a four foot high wooden pedistal with a hidden compartment, and I said "All these years I've been putting you up on a pedistal, Karen, and here it is." I bent over and cupped my hands for her foot. Even her mom laughed.
Okay, now that the fireplace is done, I'm not sure where we go next. We don't have the budget to do the kitchen cabinets as intended and there hasn't been further talk about the guest bathroom, but putting up drywall over the fluorescent fixture's rectangular hole and mounting the swell spots we got at IKEA did come up in the conversation the other day. "My brother the contractor says to start at the ceiling and work your way down," my wife says, so I guess that might be our next project. Fascinating new skill set, one I will undoubtedly become acquainted with soon, as well as rewiring ceiling electric. I've done plenty of electrical work before with lights and holes in the ceiling, but I have never had to make the ceiling first plus plan the lighting hookup rather than retrofitting. But it's gonna be damn fine. Or at least the lighting part; we'll see on the drywalling, and I suspect a texturing and painting of the ceiling will be required make the fixed fixture fissure invisible.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
let our bodies be twisted but never our minds
(to Wayne... and brighter days)
when we were in love
we danced and dreamed
and when we touched
our passion screamed
then you dropped the axe on me
and my head was on the block
I craved so much to call you back
but we could never talk
I cried for a day or two,
my tear trax made a dark stain
which covered everything I owned:
my heart, my health, soul, and brain
but then I stopped the rainfall
and fought to see the sun
then you came back to hurt me --
my troubles have re-begun
make up your mind, you bastard
quit messing with my head
I want you or I want out
for all those tears I've bled.
This last week's stupidity has been my left foot and how it got messed up. Last Tuesday while Chrome and I were sitting around, these two young women walked by my house in a state of attention-grabbing garb. Obliging, I grabbed my camera out of my office and went out the front door to snap a shot. And when my left foot landed on the porch, it went sideways or something and down I went into the lawn. I was laughing too hard at the rediculousness of my foot going out on me -- I did not trip!! -- to feel anything at that moment, and I hobbled it to the front yard to take that picture, which worked out better than expected because the sweatpants one of them was wearing fell to her knees mid-stride. (White shorts underneath, don't get excited, but this is the sort of thing friends on Flickr have referred to as "the dangers of low-rise" or said that she's a "fashion-victim".) In the hours after the mishap, my ankle swelled up considerably and began to hurt -- and let me tell you, walking wasn't the real problem, the positions one's foot gets into while one is on their knees or crouching to glue tiles to brick was. In the days after the mishap, parts of my foot have bruised up, and my wife matched the color of the edge of my foot where the blood has welled up to the "wisteria" crayon in the Crayola box of 64. Say what you will but I want my kitchen to match my foot... that's practically the color we've decided on painting it in the future. I can finally feel my ankle bones again so the swelling must be subsiding.