Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Really simple:
Our house, at 1800 square feet of livable space, really, really, really sucks in the vertical storage department.

Today, in the never ending pursuit to make a better bathroom, I put shelves in our closet.

No story, they went in without a hitch and without a trip to the hardware or lumber stores.

I'm happy.

Maybe it's the wine.

Maybe it's more of the politics thing, I dunno.

But, tomorrow? ZOO DAY!!!!

I get to be part of the formerly known as Mommys group, seeing as there is a permament daddy member and a paternal leave member now it's the playdate group.

Should be a good time, and it'll be nice to get out of the house for awhile.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Today: politics, Costco, politics, and politics.

Tomorrow: more of the same.

Wednesday: ZOO DAY!!!!


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Of Pipes and Men

Given my last post on the trials and tribulations of the Kentucky Porch in our fair city, it isn't a surprise to me that another incident occurred in our bathroom today.

Our previous owner was a jack plumber. He mainly did work for the city with their waste water and storm water pipes. You know, things outside the home.

We haven't had serious problems with our pipes. Weird ventilation design in both of our bathrooms is about the extent of the challenges.

And some of the stuff that he used to create our current system was less than new.

Tonight, it was the "less than new" that prevailed. Now, if we had water that was high in minerals or other things, I would say that nearly 5 years would be the length of time. But, then again our pfaucet has a pfunny name associated with quality. Now, the trim would lead one to believe otherwise.

Six-year-old wanted a bath. Since Thursday night. But baths at grandma's house weren't good enough for her. She need to have Mister Bubble. Ah, the joys of the giant smiling friendly cousin to The Blob surrounding your body as you soak and cleanse. Back in my day, it was powder, today it's a pleasant gel that has all the bubbles and none of the grit.

I obliged the wish, and went to run the bath. Hot on. Check. Cold on. Check.

Hey! Wait a minute something's not right, why is there water coming out the back of the handle?

Yep. Pouring out at a brisk trickle form exactly where we don't want it to.

I knew it was going to happen eventually. The diverter valve has been doing silly things for about a year, and I had noticed that the cold handle was pretty cold after a shower. Not something I'd normally expect from a shower handle.

It was then off to the "I'm the only store open on Sunday at 7 p.m. for your hardware needs" store. (Big link, eh? Yeah, important one, too. I DO feel guilty) My goal was to finally fix said problems.

I thought it would be easy.


Previous owner felt it necessary to puddy and caulk every little thing around the trim. Not bad if it all lasted for longer than 5 years. Bad, when you want to fix the problem.


Well, it works.

I know more about the workings of the fpunny fpaucet three-handle shower. For future reference: buy the stems, and other gaskets rather than the whole trim kit. Tighten some of the connections with the pipe wrench to get a better seal. Oh, and investigate the entire stem to be sure that the threads aren't stripped or washer thingies aren't broken.

All part of the fun and excitement of homeownership.

Oh, yes, it does work, we might have to adjust the handles and some of the settings, but I'm pleased.

chickadee gets her shower in the a.m.; and I will, too ... at some point.

I just have to watch out for the happy blob.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday's thing

Thanks, but um, what?

That was my thought this evening as I was mentally reviewing my day. Which, for crazy reasons has put me in a slightly mental state right now, but that has to do with shifting schedules, family challenges and a strange form or anxiety that I get in over cluttered (or overcrowded) places.

Today I purchased some 18-inch fluorescent light bulbs to fix a light. They were the wrong style, and though it is an 18-inch fixture, they were 1/4 inch short. Must be like millwork and wood, there's 1/4 that gets shaved off in the milling process. Maybe on the green chain.

I paid for these with fake money; easier for returns.

So, part of my day revolved around picking up four kids (7, 6, 4, and 2) from Bible school. Joy. I get to do a return in a mega-type store with four kids hanging on me.

It was supposed to be simple, drop those who could survive the playland, off in the activity area. Take those, whom I assume would be the eldest two, to do return and some shopping.

It was shortly after lunch time, and I approached the counter decorated with the Freddy Bear holding balloons or something. Grandma behind the counter. Well, she reminded of my Grandma, but with extra-special retail bite. "Oh, I'm sorry, dear;" she says, "I'm going on break." Maybe she remembers one of the crew that's with me, I dunno.

I plaster on my best shocked-yet-plastic smile and walk away.

To do the return.

Now the return was rather simple. Efficient. I exchanged jokes with the cashier. One of the kids impressed them with her diva flip-flops. That in itself is a great therapy / rehab statement that I even laughed.

The weird part was right at the end, you know, where they say it's all done and the amount is charged back to your card? Well, she didn't do that. She handed me cash. And 97 cents. In itself, not weird, but she says this:

"I figured I'd give you change, as I know that kids like change."

Um, I have FOUR kids here, whose combined ages (7, 6, 4, 2) are just above 1/2 my age and the average number of drinks a shuttle pilot has before take off.

They are clawing on me, making noise, and so she CHOOSES to give me change?

Next time: my return, my choice.

For the rest of the day I sounded like my high school physics teacher jingling along the way as I walk.


Help out a gritty town

First Night Pierce County and Tacoma is an incredible celebration.

Artists. Musicians. Thespians. Food. Families.

All ringing in the new year.

More details are at chickadee's blog, but if you can spare even $5, that would be wonderful.

Oh, and it's alcohol-free event.

Who would want to welcome the New Year passed out on a Twister spinner?

250,000,000,000,000 to 375,000,000,000,000

That's how many total cells read this site each day ... on average.

It's not the individual cells that read the posts.

It's the people the cells support, doing everything from seeing, tasting and feeling to typing and thinking of better ways to spend their time.

But, I want to give you a time waster today.

It's two brothers who communicate solely by vblog. (That's video blog, if you don't want to accept my wiki link).

I found them on You Tube, and thought they are funny.

You don't need to think they are funny ... just know that it's something you could consider. Maybe just laugh a little, but it's up to you.

Brotherhood 2.0

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Screeching Halt


I died.

Well, not really. Took a trip through the world of the Deathly Hallows.


Finished it. It's great.

Historically, with this series, I've read about 1/4 to 1/3 of it, set it down for a few *seconds* to only have it swiped from me by my wonderful, beautiful wife.

Then, about 2 weeks later, I pick it back up, pull myself through the slow part (typically something germane about a magical herb, or random, seemingly non-essential history) and finish in a few days, one of which entails reading "just 15 more pages" for most of a night.

This one, it was with exception. I set it down, chickadee did pick it up, and we co-read it back and forth for two days ... then, I headed to her parent's house to do some handyman work for her aunt. So, I have been physically away from that copy of the book all week.

Fortunately, as I said before, we had the foresight to purchase TWO copies, with one being for my brother-in-law. He did the typical final night of reading it Monday night. I followed suit by having the all nighter from the moment of the wedding, to the end for two nights in a row.

Okay, I actually got 5 hours of sleep the first night, but less the second.

So, I curse you JK Rowling.

I'm doing physical labor, on little sleep for most of this week. But that's okay.

The book was worth it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday drive

I'm normally a pretty calm driver, follow the rules, make sure I'm within reason on the whole speed-limit thing.

Today, we packed up the three kiddos, my goddaughter, brother-in-law and mother-in-law to take a normal road trip to the in laws for a week of work fixing things here and there. Oh! We also brought the family cat down to acclimate him for a week so before we leave.

I have only one complaint about the trip (aside from missing chickadee terribly right now):

The road was filled with colonoscopy entrance heads.


First it's the typical "I won't let you in my lane guy."
Then, it's "I'm going to ride your butt for the next 2 miles; NOT back off when you flash your brakes and then, repeat the SAME thing on the driver I get behind next." Grrr.

To you, guy in the black Sonata who did that WHILE ON YOUR CELL PHONE:

Be safe. At least two or three time that I braked while we were driving, was because those in front of me were actually slowing down.

You jeopardized not only my safety, but the safety of my children.

Shame on you.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friday's thing (Saturday edition)

Big day yesterday.

Chickadee's cousin got married. HUGE deal. She married her on-again, off-again boyfriend.

Usually, that's not a great thing. This one dates back to junior high days for them.

I played kid chaser so chickadee could enjoy the ceremony. Thankfully, it all lasted a whole 15 minutes; maybe 20.

Then, all I have to say is:

Got it.

Two copies, actually. At 12:05 a.m. this morning after watching a wonderful display of fire arts by some firedancers at our local haunt.

If you've been living under a rock, use the google to look up 12:01 a.m. 7/21/2007 to find out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Well my tubes for the internets are stuffed full today.


The servers are having capacity problems assigning MAC (or is that IP) addresses and the sort as people log on.

I guess I'm going to take a nap.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Thank you.

Today, my wife's grandmother passed away.

She liked seafood. Especially salmon. In fact, when we had the chance to invite her over while we made salmon, she'd eat a second portion and always go home with another

She said she liked the way I cooked it.

I liked hearing her stories of growing up in Ruston ... meeting her husband at a USO dance (I think it was USO) ... working with my sophomore roommate at a snack counter called "Mr. Munchies". And the kind gruffness she used when speaking about her neighbors ... calling them "damn this or that" one moment and then saying how industrious they are the next.

She loved cats, too. She-ra ... Pumpkin ... and even our cat Sandy. There is also the collection of owl trinkets, which may or may not have been an accidental collection over time, but she did have many of 'em.

Her family is an example of forgiveness over time ... of grace and imperfection ... but that in itself is beautiful.

Thank you Grandma Jeri, you'll be missed by us and by Pumpkin ... say hello to She-ra and Mary for us, we still miss them, too.

It is done

Among one of the frustrating things in life is the misuse of the apostrophe.

Yep this little ant-trail guy right here:


He is misused, abused and embarrassed at just about every turn.

I, for one, am by no means an expert on usage, but I do know there are certain times that it should not be used.

Buy, why focus on the negative? Maybe each time I see a hand-written sign with the proper usage, or the lack of usage I should rejoice at the missing punctuation. I should be happy that the author took the time to word things differently.

CD's would simply say: Compact Disks, or, Certificates of Deposit.
"It is" would just be spelled out. No questions asked. Simply spelling out the word would save time.

I am not the only one out there with this pet peeve. There is actually a society in the UK committed to defending this voiceless and often abused punctuation mark.

Please help out.

I suggest:
If you do not know if something should be punctuated with an apostrophe or not, let the little guy rest.

Carry a red pen, or two, of various sizes to make the corrections as needed.

Thank you.

Update: I guess there is more people out there, thanks for this link, Elle!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday's thing


In Alanis Morrisettes' Ironic (damn, you can find ANYTHING on Wikipedia!) it's not so much irony but just plain things that suck.

You know, rain. Wedding day. Traffic jams. Already late.

Most of those situations just plain suck.

This morning, while running a few errands, I realized that I am experiencing alanirony.

About 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with IBS (yes, everything is on Wikipedia). I will spare you the details, read the link if you want information. My assessment is IBS-A. Of course, when experiencing an epidsode I, too, become irritable (to my dismay).

One of the therapies for this diagnosis and, at times, deliberating problem (I've been bed ridden before while suffering an attack) is to simply consume more fiber.

You know, go eat a sweater ... graze on some grass ... drink Metamucil. Of course, option three is something that I've only seen my grandparents do for the last 30 years.

I'm not wholly into pills and whatnot, and I enjoy food, so I'd much rather up the fiber content of what I eat. I'm especially interested in breakfast cereals that contain as much fiber, as say, colon blow (transcript here).

Enter Costco.

I pay the annual membership to just see 10 gallon pails of mayonnaise lined up in neat rows.

You betcha they'd have some thing close to what I'm looking for.

Sure enough, on the shelf, a breakfast treat with 51 percent of daily fiber.

Let me repeat that ... Fifty-one percent of daily fiber.

I get movin'. Buy a box, go home, and have a bowl the next morning. (ahem ... of said cereal).

Misery is all I can say. This is the worst thing for my system.

It is true alanirony. "Have more fiber" the doctor says. "51 percent of US RDA of fiber" the box says.

Nooooooo the lower GI tract says.

It's been three bowls, and a week of pure misery, irritability ... and all that I can do is wait for things to pass.

I'd rather have the 10, 000 spoons and need a knife, thank you. At least I can use the spoon handle to butter my bread.

Now, go try to get the song out of your head.

You're welcome.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Aphids, ladybugs and refuse ... oh my!

Elle sez in the comments here:
Yeah, but I'll have to weed the hell out of mine, water it constantly and wonder why. the. heck. the aphids. keep attacking. my plants! Oh wait... what were you saying.
Funny you'd talk about aphids and their destructive sticky goo that falls on my cars, ruins my deck, and generally ruins wine, beer and other open beverages with their sacrificial aphidic virgins jumping to their death.

Yes. I dislike aphids. They are good for feeding to ladybugs. (Don't let the name confuse you, as I learned watching "A Bug's Life", some are crabby men who chomp on cigars.)

Three weeks ago, chickadee decided to trim a bit of our plum tree (a good move, as I'm trying thin some of the overabundance of plums on branches so the sunshiney-good energy and sugars go into the remaining fruits), and put the limbs into the brown bin.

I believe we then went on vacation, and came back.

The bin was placed in the back along our new alley (more in the future).

The spot gets tons of sun throughout the day, so it became a wonderful incubator. It was crawling with cute little lady bug larvae. I mean PACKED.

Our fairy gardenmother exclaimed, "that's where they went!"

I mentioned that we have a new alley. Well, when it went in earlier this spring, I contacted the city to see if they could pick up our yard waste with recycling in the alley. The last I left them, they were going to do some research, and see if it would be feasible.

So, we get back, bin crawling with larvae that will incubate for the next week or two, and then, we'd lift the lid. I thoughts were the ladybugs would be like sharks in a chum frenzy.

Come Monday afternoon, I get a funny feeling that something is wrong. I shlepped across the yard to the alley. The brown bin was a bit askew.

Sure enough, all those dreams of an aphid massacare by the ladybug minions are gone.

I am happy that my request went through with the city, though.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What a difference ... I hope ... 12 years makes

Okay, aside from the fact that it's been 12 years since the first "big birthday screw up", which actually, after 6 years, turned out to be actually okay ... we're trying something a bit different this year.

By "we" I mean "me with the consent of the birthday woman".

Having noticed that there is a rather HUGE pile up of scheduling issues this week, one of which I am obligated to be at tomorrow evening, I figured it would be best to open the festivities of birthday to a more ecumenical approach. Get her some quality time with her girlfriends.

Not a small task.

Not at all a small task.

On my side, I need to get the house ready, which entails sorting and recycling tons of paper stuff ... finding nooks an crannies to hide, err, store things that would work better "elsewhere", and even find inspiration to get some things into the paper storage room ... err, office downstairs.

I have to say, much less organized than 12 years ago ... but, I'm much happier, too.

(Sappy alert)
Some silly study came out a couple of weeks ago that said love peaks after 3 years. Blech. That's if you're looking at life like a race. Jeeze, pace yourself! Slow down around your loved one ... I can say that there are lows, but she's the best thing that's going on right now!

Happy Birthday, chickadee! Have fun with your friends!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Use rustic bread or exotic rolls as buns on hamburgers.

Today we used "slipper" buns (chiabatta, a chewy bread with crispy outside).

Yeah us.

Pile o' poo.

We're pseudo-hippies.

We like our milk organic, our yard natural, and (for the most part) or veggies and other foods to be au natural.

By no means are we perfect (heck, the new labeling laws allow too much stuff into 'organic.')

However, we like sustainable, and sometimes that trumps organic ... at least in our yard.

Right now, in the 80 degree afternoon sun, I have a big huge pile of our fair city's biosolid soil amendment.

How big?


A generous 5 yard load of it, to be exact.

So what am I doing today, as temperatures are warming up to get into the mid 90s by tomorrow?

I'm shoveling and leveling 5 generous yards of dark biosolids.

Yeah me!

And our garden will so kick your garden's butt this fall and next year.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Friday's thing

A brief bit of advice on this end-of-the-Fourth-of-July-week:

Flip your burgers only once, if that.

It keeps the juices in, and when you spice them, the spices mix with said juices. It's good.

Works the same in life.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Leo? Vergo?

I was born 6 weeks early.

Right dab smack in the Leo department of the astrological sign store.

So, for the past 20 some years I've just assumed Leo. Then I turned 30 and things just weren't reading right.

Hmmm; so I upped the game, and went to reading the horoscope for Vergo.

This week and next are full of complex issues in an organization that I'm involved in. And today's horoscope sums up exactly what I'm thinking:
If you said everything that you think, it would complicate your life quite a bit. The problem is that, although you may have a very clear idea of what you want and why you want it, you are unable to put it into words. If you do try, be as concise as possible. But rest assured that once Mercury turns direct on July 9, it will be much easier to communicate your needs.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

It's about neighbors

So, back in 1776 a group of white, male landowners got together and declared that we are endowed, just by mere existence, the right to life, liberty and (on the second draft) the pursuit of happiness.

Today, these rights extends to everyone.

Any movement or lobby that insists on infringing on these fundamental human rights for any person goes against the intent and purpose of our country.

It boils down to how we treat our neighbors.

Happy Independence Day, and may we keep our ideals in line despite dogmatic rhetoric.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Geneology of my grills

If I ever decide to grow old and wise, the one thing I will pass along to my son, in hopes that he will pass it on to his son, and so on, is wisdom that is quite contemporary. Granted, this speaks loudly of the consumerism of our lives, and our perception of value.

Growing up, having a grill meant one thing: a charcoal grill of the Weber design. I was actually surprised to learn that grills could be square, rectangular, heck they could even sit about 1 foot above the ground.

The first gas grill I encountered was in the late 1980s. My dad got one ... you know, propane with propane accessories. It worked well; we both were quite effective at burning things.

Being young, I swore that charcoal worked better, wasn't as hard, and 'when I grew up' I would be a BBQ purist. Regardless of what Hank Hill said, it was charcoal or nothing.

Things were looking great. I got married. Not only did I get married, but we got a Smokey Joe by Weber. Now we had portable charcoaly goodness.

About three years later, after finding out it's not fun to: 1. Find a suitable surface to set the small Weber on, 2. Wait, wait and wait for the coals to turn, well, coalish, and 3. There is a difference of opinon as to the qualities of lighter fluid's taste on a steak.

At that time I was at a Big Lots about 30 miles south of home. There they had a propane grill for about 50 bucks. I had been secretly shopping around, and decided that this was a good deal.

What could go wrong with an overstock grill put together in Korea?

Oh yeah, maybe the INSTRUCTIONS could go wrong. They were written in some hybrid Korean/English hybrid. Maybe to conserve fuel or something, I don't kow. But it basically sucked.

I faithfully put it together, called over friends to share in its bounty, and prayed that it would not explode in a firey inferno.

Well, it eventually worked, and for the most part, it sucked.

It was the last grill I ever bought.


After about 2 years, I cruised Craigslist and found a grill 15 miles to the north for, get this: free.

That grill disasembled nicely and squeezed into the trunk of my 89 Camery. I kid you not.

It was re-assembled and worked excellently for a year.

I then sold it for $5.

Why the heck would I sell a FREE grill? Well, my neighbors across the street felt their grill was too dirty, rather than clean it, they asked me if I would like it. So I sold a free grill to get another free grill. So, essentially I'm not doing too bad. I only needed to relpace the propane tank after a year (the valve was behind code).

This year, the grill's upper rack rusted through.

But another neighbor got wind that we're having a block party on Independence Day, so he HAD to get a new stainless steel grill for the shindig.

No problem.

I only had a grill up front, and if I wanted to grill in the back yard, I'd have to actually move the thing. Heck, I even had TWO propane tanks for the joy of grilling.

So now, I have a grill in the front (with out an upper rack, so it's perfect for veggies, long roasts or other big things that need the space). And one in the back with a side burner, I guess it's for making pancakes or something in the event the power goes off.

Oh, the advice to my son?

Never buy a grill.


Too many people will be willing to spend extra money to either upgrade or they won't clean the grill. But somehow you'll benefit from the grill karma.

Okay, maybe one purchase.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Farewell to Kentucky Porch

I honestly don't mean to offend Kentucky.

But it's the best image I've come up with.

For the past year there has been a toilet on my back porch.

That's correct, a bona fide porcelain God on my back porch.

It was empty, save the few leaves that blew into it over the course of the past 50 weeks (so not quite a year).

All that needed to be done was 4 feet of 1/2 inch grout needed to be replaced in our bathroom. So, I chose a night where my spouse took the kids down to her folks' house before we took off for a week in San Antonio, Texas. (though being there in July is a different story completely).

I had removed maybe 1 inch of grout when the tile popped up.

Not. A. Good. Sign.

More followed. I realized that there was something wrong, and that this particular installment of tile had a unique underlayment.

It was black.

In my limited experience of tile work, I know that the backer should either be: Gray, or gray.

Black is not an option, and that typically means mold. Which, in turn, explained many problems that I've had with our basement ceiling.

Oh joy.

So two hours later...no bathroom, and a discovery that the floor itself is actually built up nearly 2 inches from the original subfloor.

It took until this December or so to get the subfloor in and sorta level.

The new hardibacker went in around April of this year, and the tile was laid this Memorial day (thanks, Joel).

So today, after giving a presentation I stopped by the best little hardware store in Tacoma and purchased the items necessary for setting a toliet.

It's in.

No leaks.

Only a little wobbley, but that's to just have the boy say it...it's cute.

Now time to paint and put in the trim.

Fun times.