Monday, January 25, 2010

The annual "will he or won't he??"

Yes, I'm referring to Bret Favre.

Good game, by the way. Going into overtime is exactly how you want a conference championship matchup to be. Especially when you don't really care who wins.

Geogal told me one of her close Arizona friends is suggesting we go there over spring break, citing Geogal's recent head cold as reason for us to visit the desert.

My response: "If Favre calls a press conference to announce he's retiring (again), I'm catching a plane to Phoenix so I can eat a chicken-fried steak at the TexAz Grill."


Last time I was there they had the TVs tuned to his (first annual) retirement press conference.

Just seems right.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Historic day in the Geohouse

Just a little after 6:30 this morning I took a shower.

Before you say “So what?”, this shower was significant in that it marked the first use of the new shower stall in the basement bathroom.

Yes indeed, the bathroom redo is 97% complete. As of today the only tasks that remain are to install a new towel rod, nail in the baseboard molding, and create a small door that will cover the shut-off valves that control the shower faucet.

Friday and yesterday D.K. (my project advisor, fellow worker, and guy who makes sure I don’t get in over my head) completed the shower install, marking the end of the job with caulking the outside edges (mainly for looks).

And man, does it look good!

D.K. made a great point on Friday. He said “this shower just fought us every step of the way.” Very true.

From the start we knew this would be more than a “demo the old shower and put in a new one” project. First we had to put in shut off valves which would enable us to have the water to the shower faucet cut off for the duration (in case you didn’t know this, most houses don’t have these). After that, re-route the plumbing to the new faucet location (behind drywall). Once we finished that task, then it seemed a simple matter of building the new shower stall.

But wait. We had to smash up some concrete in order to put in a new drain P-trap. (Apparently the drain for the old shower was non-standard and would not match up to a new shower stall without extreme jerry-rigging.) Trust me it was just easier for us to tear up some of the concrete and replace the P-trap. In the midst of this process a professional plumber strongly recommended we go with a brass drain rather than the plastic one included in the shower stall kit. As it turned out, once we replaced the P-trap it was very easy to fit up a brass drain. (Thanks for the free advice, Larry.)

But now we’re getting closer to having this finished! Or so we thought.

It comes time to install the faucet handle, just a typical Moen shower faucet kit. Uh-oh. Since the shower stall is designed to fit away from the drywall (rather than flush on a tile wall), a regular faucet kit is too short for the handle to go on. About 9/16th of an inch too short.

Much swearing and hand-wringing ensued.

But on to a possible solution. D.K. knows someone who does metal work. Maybe they can create the longer pieces we need. He starts looking into this, gets an answer in the affirmative, but in the meantime speaks to a Moen customer service representative.

Well, well. Turns out we did everything correctly. Moen sells a faucet extension kit for just these types of projects. D.K. orders one online, gets the run-around from the seller, but eventually the extension kit finds its way here.

Fits perfectly. Things are going swimmingly until D.K. accidentally drops one of the 3 inch stainless steel screws (for securing the faucet handle trim onto the faucet valve) down the wrong side of the shower wall. After trying a yardstick with packing tape wadded onto one end, busting my brain to think of other ways to retrieve the screw, then finally giving up, I try my luck with hardware stores.

Do you know how hard it is to find these types of screws? Mighty difficult. (It doesn’t help that these are screws for plumbing purposes, rather than regular construction.) I finally go to the Fastenal web site, pick out what I need, create an account, and place the order.

A few days ago the screws (I wanted to make sure I had backups in case we had another “drop”) arrived and on went the trim. Rest of the faucet handle goes on without a hitch, get the sliding door onto the shower, caulk everything up good, and Geogal and I now have a fully functional 3/4 bath in the basement.

Not only is it aesthetically much more pleasant, this bathroom is much improved over the previous version:

  • Toilet, sink, and shower all are designed for lower water usage
  • Replaced the regular electrical receptacle with a GFI
  • Re-routed wiring allowing for a safer layout
  • New cork flooring is not only “green,” but it looks great to boot
  • Old drywall replaced with moisture-resistant “greenboard”
  • New shut-off valves for toilet and sink

As soon as I find my camera (no joke) I’ll post a couple of pictures to illustrate what I could never describe in prose.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Chilled and chillin

Even though today's high never got out of the single digits and the wind chill was minus something way colder than living beings should have to endure it was still a mighty good day. Got to see sunshine for the first time in 2010. Really, all the preceding days were a mixture of windy snowy cloudy gray gray.

But not to worry, by Sunday the high is supposed to be around 40. Downright balmy, I might get out the Hawaiian shirts.

Overall I don't miss the Arizona desert but the last few nights have had me nestled all snug in my bed, while visions of saguaros danced in my head. Truth be told just a quick recollection of doing any kind of manual labor outside in the 110 degree heat in June breaks me of my "it's too cold" whinyness.

What else is going on? Obviously we're confined to the great indoors for the present. In this day and age of Internet and Netflix the cabin fever can be kept at bay. Plus since the holiday season is a memory a routine of work and chores beats the winter blues.

Netflix movies? I've written before that I've been enjoying older films and recently had a doozy of a double feature. "Zero Hour!" followed by "Airplane!"

You've never heard of "Zero Hour?" Neither had I until I did a little research. Turns out this 1957 celluloid was the inspiration for "Airplane!" Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker bought the rights and "Airplane" took a whole lot of dialogue from the earlier movie. Lines that were written and performed with Serious Intent but just come across with hilarity. Lines such as:

"You're a member of this crew. Can you face some unpleasant facts?"

"I might bend your precious airplane, but I'll get it down in one piece."

"Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking."

And the best one of all:

"The survival of everyone on board depends on just one thing. Finding someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner!"

Most of my ilk have seen "Airplane!" and probably own it, either on VHS or on DVD. Do yourself a favor, rent "Zero Hour!" Just for funzies, Geogal and I tried to see how long we could watch it before bursting into laughter.

Came at the 4 minute, 25 seconds mark. Let's just say it's a scene involving a military psychiatric hospital.

Other movies we've enjoyed? The old Disney Kurt Russell movies, seemed like they produced about 5 each year. "The Music Man," cited by many as the best con man movie of all time. "The Apartment," showing the worst side of corporate America, at least until "Wall Street."

Plenty more good ones to see, I'm sure. Oh, I almost forgot to mention "Mamma Mia!" It's not that great of a flick but amusing to watch anyway. Geogal was overheard saying: "Hey get a load of this--James Bond can't sing!"