Posts Tagged ‘Economy’

The Faucet Episode

October 29, 2011

I like doing home improvements (drip, drip, drip) I embrace the challenges and I gain satisfaction from a job well done.  I also understand my limitations.  So if it’s a repair I haven’t done before, there will be some type of… learning curve.  Before I start one of those projects I make sure my girls aren’t around because odds are good that at some point in the heat of the learning curve… the words that roll off my tongue …are four letters and commonly shouted by every football coach and fourth grade boy in the Western Hemisphere.  The girls would chastise me more than they already do…they think they are steering the ship. (drip, drip, drip).   I’ve noticed that the more challenging improvements in our home seem to come in groups rather than being spread out over time.  Lately they have all involved plumbing.  (drip, drip, drip) The tough ones are deceiving.  They appear to be simple half hour jobs and yet somehow they are magically transformed into an odyssey that requires an attitude adjustment, two hours of YouTube instructional videos, a part that is on back order, and schematics designed by engineers…for engineers. (drip, drip, drip)  I think I just realized that maybe I don’t understand my limitations.  However I’m not talking about installing a new furnace, or rewiring our house.  The latest task was…wait for it…fixing a dripping faucet in the girl’s bathroom.  Seriously, now that you know the repair, would you expect the fix to take…two UPS shipments, and seventeen days?  It’s important to highlight the fact that even though it appears I’m in denial about my capabilities…I didn’t discontinue the model of our faucet, I didn’t decide to only label the schematics in Chinese, Latin, and Mayan, or take the replacement parts off retailer’s shelves…I did however turn off the hot water in that bathroom until the parts arrived because the drip became a small stream after the third time I partially took the faucet apart (see learning curve for details).  So every day it wasn’t fixed…there was more of a sense of urgency to do so.

Several years ago we remodeled our home.  Our bathrooms were rebuilt from the studs…by studs.  I say that because they did a great job.  I draw the line at totally rebuilding a room because frankly that kind of construction project takes a lot of knowledge, resources, and time.  Time that I need to devote to working so that I can pay for the stinking upgrade!  I’d love to do a project like that, but I’d also love to keep my marriage, keep my job, keep my sanity, and the list goes on. 

So the new faucets were all higher end Brizo Faucets by Delta which look like this.  They’re nice…when they aren’t dripping.

 

 

They come with a lifetime warranty.  Our model was discontinued sometime between installation and malfunction.  So Delta replaced the bad parts for free.  That makes the repair inexpensive, but we had to wait for them to fill, ship, and deliver the order, which takes about ten days.  Thanks to technology upgrades in plumbing you don’t simply replace a washer to stop a leak.  The top of the handle slides off revealing a set screw, unscrew the set screw to take off the handle.  That leaves the inverted bell shaped thingy (in the schematic it’s called a 鐘形片) I had to unscrew the bell from the base.  That reveals a cartridge that is held in place by another part that screws…since I didn’t do this installation I didn’t know the bell had been cemented to the base with clear calk.  So my attempt at unscrewing had me a little… screwed.  The bell wouldn’t budge so I was stuck, and puzzled.  Could the schematic be wrong?  I was forced to regroup.  After two trips to Economy Plumbing for advice, a pair of vice grips, and some choice words, I was able to separate the base from…my life which revealed the cartridge.  Under the cartridge was a spring and a rubber ball like thing.  Thanks to my first UPS shipment I could replace the spring, ball, and cartridge.  Then I screwed everything back in place, slid on the handle, set screw, cap, and…presto change, no drip.  I get to undo it again in ten days when the new bell comes in.  At least now I know what I’m doing. 

Each time I worked on that drip I had to clean everything out from under the cabinet. That way I could get under the sink to bang my head and wrench my neck.  I didn’t realize the cabinet had accumulated so much stuff.  There were two hair dryers (two?) A curling iron, a flattening iron(?)…why the curling iron if you need a flattening iron?…two rags, tampons, pads, sponges (the cleaning variety), toilet cleaner, Clorox wipes, half of a fresh water clam shell, fifteen swear words, some of my thinning hair, and several hours of lost productivity.  The last three are relatively new additions.

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A Sign of the Times?

October 8, 2011

Early Wednesday morning as I headed to the Monon I saw a sign that read, “Who Stole Jesus?”  This was not a spiritual sign that comes to you in a moment of clarity.  It was a real sign in a real yard.    The sign was the same style and size as the “Home For Sale” variety.  It was professionally printed not written in marker.  My first thought was, “I didn’t know he was stolen!”  Was this THE Jesus Christ, son of God, or was he someone else… probably Hispanic… who happened to be given a powerful name?  If it wasn’t the beginning of October I would immediately think someone hijacked a nativity scene.  However we are in the midst of Indian summer and people are just gearing up for Halloween.  Give it another week before stores start pushing JC’s B-day and decorations start to sprout.  This appeared to be a message targeted to the people who frequent the intersection of Meridian Street and Kessler.  Were they trying to reach the governor?  Other people with money?   I’ve since seen several more of the signs around town.  So they are trying to get the word out.  I’m not sure why they are being so subtle about it.  This seems to be a big deal, given the stature of the guy who was nabbed.

I have to admit I didn’t know he’d come back.  You’d think that would have made the nightly news.  Our local stations are all so hungry to scoop a story I’m surprised we haven’t heard something like, “Breaking news from the west side!  This just into our news room…JC is back and he’s been spotted in Indianapolis!”  Not the case though.  Somehow they missed this and the subsequent story about him being stolen.  They were probably too focused on the Colts 0-4 start…or the possible renaming of Georgia Street

It’s interesting that he opted to return in the Midwest rather than the Middle East.  It is pretty here this time of year though.  Maybe he wanted to do Brown County before heading over to Jerusalem.  You know…take in the fall foliage, buy some apple butter, baptize a few people, and then go overseas after Thanksgiving.  He kind of missed our holiday the first time around.  It’s festive, it celebrates all the right things, and the parade is nice too.  I’m sure he was interested in taking in a Colts game, but with Payton out for the year…not so much.

This is a mayoral election year in Indianapolis.  There is only a month to go in race.  You’d think Melina Kennedy would have jumped at the chance for a photo op.  She could use a little divine intervention.  Surly the Mayor’s office would have countered with something of their own…but no? 

How does one steal him anyway?  You’d think he’s be surrounded by a few people.  Did someone sneak through the masses and slip a roofie into his glass of wine?  Boy you are really throwing caution to the wind when you decide to steal a guy like that.  Talk about Hell to pay.  I doubt you have the big picture in mind.  I mean this isn’t the Lindbergh baby.  This is pretty high up there on the crime chart.  What’s the motive?  What’s the ransom?  Who would be targeted for paying it?  Probably the Vatican.   How messy would that be?  One minute you’re sitting around an apartment getting high with two guys like Seth Rogen.  One of them makes the comment about how cool it would be to have more money than God.  Then someone suggests kidnapping JC.  You know because playing the lottery has poor odds and these days with the bad economy so does finding a job.  So they bumble into pulling it off.  They ask for ransom…something like gold, frankincense, myrrh…and three tickets to Montana.  They hide in…Rocky Ripple to wait for the drop.  The next thing they know they’ve got the Knights Templar on their tail and some church in Indianapolis has joined the search by posting signs all over the north side. 

Wow and I thought my life was complicated.

 

Speaking in Code

February 9, 2010

We have a sump pump in our basement.  It’s a round concrete hole that’s about two feet in diameter and two feet deep.  Foundation water drains into the pit and is pumped away from the house.  My friend had one when we were kids.  During sleepovers we would pee in it and then turn on the pump to pump that water out of the house.  That way we wouldn’t have to go upstairs to the bathroom which would tip his parents off to the fact that we were still awake at three AM.  We probably didn’t really have to go to the bathroom.  I’m sure it was the lure of peeing in a hole in the basement that drove the necessity…boys!

There is no good way to dress up the pit.  You can’t drain it, paint it, and add fish because they would get sucked out every time the pump kicks on.  It would be cool to have a tiny water garden, but that would clog the pump which would be very bad.  It’s just a round cement hole in the basement that catches foundation water.  Ours also catches discharge from the water softener.  In the winter that softener discharge is the only thing going on in the pit because any foundation water is frozen or non existent. 

Six years ago we did some renovation work to our home and our plumber, ARS, changed the flow of that discharge.  It used to go into our septic tank.  Now it runs through a pipe that drains into a storm sewer out at the street.  It enters storm drain underground because of winter freezing.  As we all know, freezing plus pipes equals headache. 

Recently I heard the pump kicked on and continue to run.  The water was filling the pit from the softener, but wasn’t discharging out of the pit.  It was just spinning like a little whirl pool as the water level continued to rise.  I realized the basement was going to flood if I didn’t start bailing.  Yipes!  So it was like the Disney cartoon where Mickey Mouse is in a mad dash to fill buckets and bail.  He creates an army of brooms to help, then loses control of the brooms and…you know the story…a story written on acid apparently.  I didn’t have an army of brooms or acid.  It was just me, adrenalin, and two buckets.  The discharge pipe just outside our home had frozen.  Apparently the pipe wasn’t buried below the frost line.  So I took a heating pad and a blanket out side and laid it where the pipe exits the house….after the mad bailing episode.  Several days later the pipe was thawed.  However the morning after the bailing exercise I called our builder and explained the dilemma to an answering machine.  The office manager called me back and was less than helpful.  I reminded her that we had recommended their work to others and I knew we had given them new business.  If she wanted to continue that good will she would help to resolve the issue.  She reluctantly agreed.  Then I call a commercial construction friend who told me that there is no building code that requires discharge water be piped away from the house below the frost line.  I said, “We don’t live in Florida, we live in Indiana.”  He agreed with my assessment and made a derogatory comment about the people in charge of building codes.

Two weeks later our builder showed up with an ARS customer service rep.  He used the building code as a shield.  I said, “There are two ways to do a job, just good enough to get by, and great.  I didn’t pay you to just get by.  He shrugged.  I looked at our builder’s rep.  She said to the ARS guy, “What would you do if this was your home?”  He shrugged and said, “I wouldn’t buy a home with a septic tank.”  He talked with an inflection that led be to believe he smoked way too much pot in high school.  She said, “Well they are on septic, so what would you do?”  He thought for a long time and said, “Probably drain it with a soft hose out into the yard.”  That was his solution!  Use a garden hose that we would run though the basement window!  I can’t believe it didn’t incorporate duct tape and bailing wire.  Is that code?…maybe in West Virginia.

It’s been two weeks.  The company’s line is, “We built this to code”.  My position, “This code represents poor workmanship” Their counter, “Our work is up to code” My response, “It may be code for the word sucks”.  Their motto should be, “ARS, when it comes to plumbing…we’ll drain you!”

Scheduling the Week

September 12, 2009

I had a friend contact me last week with a business proposal.  It was a great idea, but he’s got more drama in his life than a collection of ER’s greatest hits.  With the girls back in school and ballet training every night our schedule is more choreographed than a Dance Kaleidoscope  show rehearsal.   Dealing with the drama of the day is not on my to-do list.

I need to make sure everything is organized so nothing gets overlooked.  Our dinners and the girls dance schedule are posted on the fridge Sunday evening for the week ahead.  That morning I plan the meals over coffee.  Then I go grocery shopping.  I know what we need which saves time and money.  My grocery list is built with the flow of the store in mind.  It saves time and makes shopping easy.  Then I compulsively wash my hands 50 times like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets.  Not really, but I sound like I have a compulsive disorder.  I should wash my hands after shopping though with H1N1 lurking around every corner.  Those shopping carts are probably a breading ground for the flu, scabies, and five kinds of flesh eating bacteria…sleep well tonight!  Any way, I hit Costco for the big stuff and Meijer for the other stuff.  I could take the easy way out.  We could do carry-out every night.  I have two problems with that…actually three.  (1) We live on a budget and carry-out is way more expensive than cooking.  (2) We need to eat healthy.  My girls are athletes and I like my fruits and veggies.  Carry-out is…bad.  Just shoot a wad of butter in my veins and toss the dirt over my head (3) Leftover’s make a great low cost lunch and I like them.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to choke anything down just to save money.  I like cooking and leftovers. 

If you haven’t figured it out yet I have a type “A” personality.  Numbering, lists, scheduling…where’s my coffee?!  Seriously though, we as a family and a society need to eat healthy and stick to a budget.  Financial crisis…hello!  Health crisis….we’re fat!  I was thinking about this when I walked into Meijer last Sunday.  The first seven adults I saw had a combined mass slightly greater than the state of Texas make that Tex-ass.  Obviously they were all passing the produce section in search of the breaded, frozen, fried cheese sticks and dip. 

Each morning I make breakfast and lunch for the girls, ride my bike (see my last blog) exercise (me time), and start working.  At lunch I make dinner for the girls then go back to work.  Carly gets home from school at 3:30.  She grabs their dinner, & snack then leaves to pick up Grace at 4:00 and head to Jordan.   They start dancing at 4:30 and that usually goes to 9:00.  So they need to take dinner.  While they are at dance I work until about 7:00.  Then I clock out and hit our veggie garden, other yard work, or other domestic stuff.  When they get home it’s time to hit the books.  I write my blog or unwind with them until 10:00.  So you see I have no time for someone else’s drama.  It just drags you down.  At some point I call my wife to catch up with her, tell her fun stuff like I was hit on at the grocery …by a guy.  That wasn’t on my to-do list either.  At forty-eight years old I’m flattered that anyone is attracted to me, but if I had my choice I’d rather be propositioned in the produce section by a well educated woman who snuck home to surprise her husband with fresh strawberries and candles. That would be great, sadly it’s not on my to-do list either…until this weekend.  She didn’t buy the strawberries or candles I did.  Some times it’s good to lose the list, unplug the clock, and let the people you love know they are appreciated.

Entitlement

March 31, 2009

People are up in arms over the sense of entitlement in this country these days.

What does that mean?  Entitlement?  Attorneys feel entitled to charge us hundreds of dollars an hour to explain exactly what we are entitled to.  I suppose they have that right.  After all they went to school to learn the language and how to sew it into an abstract tapestry that only law professionals understand.  We outsiders are intimidated by that knowledge and the vagueness of their language.  We only know that law is like art…you get what you pay for.  We can go to the galley and by a Monet, or we can go to the Holiday Inn and buy a piece of crap from the starving artist sale.  Who do you want representing your interests a master, or some guy who works for food?

My ex business partner, Dennis, felt that he was entitled to $30,000.00 in our business account one hour after I terminated him as the manager of our company.  The police were entitled to uphold the law.  However they felt their resources were better spent on criminals who use guns to steal, rather than a tie and pen.  So I was entitled hire someone who is fluent in legalese and represent my position in court.  Dennis was entitled to stall.  The day before our court date he signed papers that released him of his entitlement to ownership in our company.  I waved bye-bye to a bunch of money. All I was trying to do was prove that he took my cash!  Cash I was entitled to!  White collar crime pays.

Now if I were AIG or any of the other mega businesses who squandered millions recently I could recover financially by using tax payer money.  There would be no pain or interest to pay. only the momentary embarrassment of sitting before a congressional committee.  This committee is made up of a bunch of people who speak “the language”.  They have the combination to our safe.  They have permission to invest or spend our money.  They know that we choose to use most of our time following football, eating wings, and buying shiny objects on credit because we are entitled to.  They also know we like magic.  They understand that we are captivated and amazed when David Blaine takes a diamond off a woman’s engagement ring and makes it reappear in the corner of his eye from his tear duct.  They realize that time heals all wounds.   Let’s face it, as a group we have the attention span of a fish.  So they scold the company executive and write him a check.  Then they pull a rabbit out of their hat come election time.  We ooh and ahh and clamor for more.  We can’t be bothered with the notion that our government should be run like a business and that there be ….oh…I don’t know…accountability?  That’s for other people to deal with. 

The problem for the big company execs and others involved in this ordeal comes after the Super Bowl.  There is a dry spell of sports on TV.  We have a little more time to pay attention.  This is how it happens:  Some parent who home schools their kids in Omaha writes a blog questioning where the AIG money is going.  That blog is read by a relative in Ft. Wayne who passes it to a friend in NY and it goes viral.  The next thing you know, the Times is running it as a feature story.  The network news grabs it.  They do an investigative series.  They advertise the series between a Seinfeld rerun and American Idol.  Everyone sees it because…It is American Idol.  Now everyone is pissed….as we are entitled to be.  Until mid April when it’s time to work on our pre tan before the start of Summer Vacation.  Pre tanning prevents burning.  Who in this day and age wants to get burned?