"...it's like Will Rogers, Jean Shepherd and some grumpy Jewish man all rolled into one."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Adage Before Beauty

When someone talking to you says "long story short", it's already too late.

Know how I play "Words With Friends"? By cursing at them.

I'm not trying to lower my cholesterol so much as quell it.

My wife was away for the weekend. At least, that's what she told me.

There but for the grace of God go I. Plus there was a "Breaking Bad" marathon on TV.

It's said, "All politics is local." That's incorrect; it should be, "All politics are insulting to the electorate."

I've begun a new exercise regimen. So far, I'm exercising my right not to follow it.

When I was a young camper I was once thrown from a horse. Now when someone asks if I'll ever saddle up again I say, "Neigh."

Avoid trying anything labelled as "new & improved" since it is likely neither.

I roasted a chicken the other night. I hope it understood my zingers were offered in jest.

Any cocktail made with more than 4 ingredients (including ice) is just not worth the effort.

What do you get when you cross a duck with a hornet's nest? You get one pretty pissed-off duck, for starters.

I fell off a ladder and through the roof. Not surprisingly, I broke out in shingles.

A man is known by the company he keeps. Please go home now.

I beat the rap on a charge of home invasion by claiming I was participating in the new "sharing economy".

An injury is sooner forgotten than an insult. That's why I kicked you, jackass.

None of us is as smart as all of us. But I is much smarter than you is.

The night has a thousand eyes. "Mississippi" runs a close second.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

High and Dryer

I remember reading a statistic (or maybe it was a damned lie) that out of any list of 10 tasks only 2 will be accomplished within a reasonable time frame. Here was our task list for this past weekend (in no particular order):
  1. Clean out accumulated lint from dryer exhaust hose.
  2. Examine washing machine to seek source of persistent leak.
  3. Winterize the downstairs windows with plastic.
  4. Fix latch on upstairs patio door.
  5. Wash out cat boxes and refill with fresh litter.
  6. Fix leaky toilet tank.
  7. Prep hallway for painting.
  8. Get Carol's phone fixed.
  9. Finish painting deck and porch stairs.
  10. Remove detrius from lake shoreline.
That seems busy-but-achievable over a couple of days, doesn't it? We got through 1.5 of these endeavors.

Let's start with #8: Carol managed to jam the mini-USB charger plug upside-down into her phone. This of course begs the question why the receptacle isn't designed to accept the plug in either orientation. Apple has addressed this with their latest devices via the lightning connector -- which, of course, is not backwards-compatible with the flotilla of previously-purchased Apple products out there.

Anyway, it was apparent to the naked eye that the receiving end was mauled. Some folks like to tackle the fixing of home electronics themselves... yep, they sure do. Carol instead brought her phone to a local shop that was alleged to handle this kind of repair. The owner/tech guy wasn't there when she dropped it off, and the fellow watching the shop couldn't quote her a price but said he'd have the owner call her once he got in and could take a look. The owner called the next day to say the repair would be $120; Carol thought that was too pricey and declined, saying she'd come by to pick up the phone. We drove to the shop -- Other-Fellow was there and owner was away again. Carol asked for her phone and Other-Fellow handed it to her and then said she owed, despite no prior mention of it, a "$20 service charge" for examining the phone. I'll collapse the remainder of this story by reassuring you that the $20 is still in Carol's wallet.

That was our half-accomplished task (and I'm being generous in giving it that much value; the phone is still fucked up). On to the dryer...

Our house purchase last year included as-is appliances and among those were a very nice washer and a large-capacity dryer. Knowing how the house had been cared for by the previous owner we figured the dryer exhaust hose was likely clogged up with 17 years' worth of lint and cigarette ash. We could reach into the dryer exhaust port on the outside of the house and pull out handfuls of fluffy fabric. This would be a simple job -- remove, clean, replace. There are actually two hoses; one from the dryer to a joint that leads from the laundry room under the house, and then a second from the underside of that joint to the external exhaust housing. So I'd have to go through those steps twice - no big whoop.

Four hours later... The second hose, the one that I had to go into the crawl space to access, had been jammed into place without those pinchy-clips normally used to secure the hose at either end to the metal pipe. It was easy to remove but then impossible to get back in place, both because there were no clips to secure it and also because the two connections were up under the flooring and buried amidst insulation and wiring and spider webs. Carol drove to the local hardware store to get a pack of clips and also the tapered elbow needed to slip the end of the hose over, since one piece of pipe didn't have it (I have NO idea how the hose had remained in place; probably some of the cigarette by-product the previous owner had exhaled while smoking non-stop over a decade-plus of living in the house eventually worked its way down into those nooks and crannies and served as a tar-based adhesive). She also returned with a new section of hose: "Why don't we just start with a clean one?" Well, sure -- that made sense.

The new hose was aluminum but of a slightly different construction than the older one: rather than a metallic-sheet cover over a Slinky-style wire, this one had no wire and was just crimped into a sectioned pattern that allowed it to stretch. It was like it was made of a giant sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil that the World's Greatest Origami Artist had folded into an expandable tube. The problem -- as soon as I tried to attach it to the connectors, it started to tear just as you'd imagine a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil would if you tried to use it as a dryer exhaust hose. We ended up ditching the brand-new hose after shredding it just beyond the point where the hardware store would take it back, and I continued to wrestle the original hose into place.

Oh, but I've left out an important part of the narrative here -- Carol had also brought back a new external exhaust port, the part you see on the outside of the house. This one had a plastic cage on the underside so critters couldn't crawl up into the hose to seek warmth and/or nesting materials. So now I had to chip away caulk to remove the old port and cut into the siding to make the new one fit flush. Then I had the previously-mentioned wrestling match under the house, conducted while I was in a half-crouched position for close to an hour, which did wonders for my arthritic back and knees. But after much swearing and a brief crying jag born of frustration mixed with joint pain, the under-house hose was again functional and properly vented to the outside.

All that was left to do was reattach the loose end of the laundry room hose to the dryer and slide the machine back into place. Unfortunately, the laundry room hose was also made from that foil-like construction. It was another struggle to get it reconnected, but Carol (God love her) managed to do so. We worked together to push the dryer into its corner of the laundry room - Mission Accomplished! (Why does that phrase seem to come back to bite everyone who uses it in the ass?) I looked behind the dryer to make sure the hose remained attached, which it had -- neatly crumpled in half like a folded-over sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. We pulled everything back out and cut away the crumpled portion and reattached it and moved it back again... this time with greater success.

One entire task completed. OK, what's next on that list?...
  • "2. Examine washing machine to seek source of persistent leak."
I hope Sears is having a sale on appliances soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ready, Willing and Scrabble

Our friends Jenny and Dean came for a visit this past weekend with their three-year-old son in tow. It had been awhile since we'd seen each other so we spent some enjoyable time catching up on what was new at homes and workplaces while downing a few too many glasses of wine during dinner.

The little guy was a bundle of energy and it was tiring just watching him in endless motion. When he qualifies for "Jeopardy" he'll be the champion as long as the final category is Parental Catchphrases and the clue is: "Because I said so..." With, of course, the correct response in the form of a question being, "WHY?"

Although evenings have gotten quite nippy up at the lake, I still built a bonfire one night for us to huddle around and roast marshmallows over. Dean had his guitar with him -- he'd been practicing since January and had mastered many familiar tunes. He strummed for a while and I complimented him on how well he plucked the opening riff from "Stairway To Heaven". He then pointed out he'd been playing "Wish You Were Here".

We played some ferocious rounds of Boggle while the youngster napped one afternoon. While Carol and I picked out words like "ATE", "EAT", TOE" and "TOES", Jenny and Dean identified connected strings of letters spelling "EQUILIBRIUM" and "PUSILLANIMOUS". Perhaps here I should mention they're both MIT grads. Dean and I argued over whether proper nouns were permitted, with Dean being in favor of them. He eventually wore me down and I conceded by saying, in all propriety, "Go fuck yourself." We then began a spirited game of Scrabble, with Jenny starting the game and her first two plays being "ZOO" and "MA". Granted, the "Z" was a valuable tile but suddenly that MIT education seemed a bit overpriced. We managed to cover a good deal of real estate on the board and I brought the game to a finish when I played my last letter. I'd served as score-keeper and announced that Jenny had defeated me by a single point. Dean then helpfully reminded us that the rules said the first to go out also receives credit for the points the other players are holding when play ends, meaning that I'd in fact surpassed Jenny's total. It was quite chivalrous of him to offer that correction and I immediately felt bad that I'd earlier buried his capo in the cat litter.

Sunday afternoon was brisk but clear and we all kayaked over to the small island in the middle of the lake. Dean had rowed crew during his university days and moved through the water so powerfully (with his son as passenger) he could likely have towed one of us behind him on water skis. Jenny took a somewhat meandering path toward our destination, favoring a starboard tack and occasionally doing a complet360° even while alternating her paddling on both sides of the boat. We eventually made it to shore and disembarked for a brief hike. When we returned to the kayaks, I jokingly told Jenny she could catch the ferry for the trip home. She looked quite relieved before realizing I was kidding.

They stayed through breakfast the next morning before heading back. After they left, Carol and I commented on how much we enjoyed their company... how much we enjoy ANY company since it's just the two of us up here. Well, of course there's the cats, but they aren't much for conversation or board games. We broke out Scrabble again later that evening and tried to entice one of the kitties to play with us; he chewed on his tiles and coughed up a hairball on the board. H-O-R-K is eleven points plus the double word value for going first - he's off to a strong start. If he wins I have to buy him a guitar.