Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Prepare for some sporadic blogging, at best

Unnamed Partner and I will be flying off for a few days to drive around Vermont and upstate New York. (Yes, anything to avoid that bathroom renovation project at the moment.) Of course we'll have the camera, and I will have my laptop, but we'll be sponging off of staying with relatives for the majority of the time and I have no idea what kind of Internet access I'll have.

So I'll check in when I can, but don't be alarmed if we're missing for a few days. I'm sure you'll find blogs to visit, just be sure to come back in about a week. After all, it's aways fun when I go to Vermont -- last year Larry "Wide Stance" Craig was busted for toe tapping while I was in Killington. Fun!

Why do you still shop at Wal-Mart?

I know money is tight these days, but when I see stories like this I just can't understand how people can still shop at Wal-Mart.
Judge finds Wal-Mart violated Minnesota labour laws

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Minnesota judge has ruled that Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) violated state wage and hour laws, requiring employees to work off the clock, and the discount retailer could now face more than $2 billion in possible fines.

Minnesota District Court Judge Robert R. King Jr ruled that Wal-Mart owes $6.5 million to thousands of current and former employees because of wage the violations, which included a failure to give workers their full rest breaks and requiring hourly employees to work off-the-clock during training.
Sure. Isolated case you say. That's until you spend some time reading the news reports over at Wake Up Wal-Mart.

Turns out reports of despicable business practices at Wal-Mart are not so isolated after all.

"Tyson Homosexual Sprints to the Finish Line"

Because this is what happens when you stop thinking for yourself. From ThinkProgress:
And finally: The American Family Association has a policy of replacing the word “gay” with “homosexual” on its Christian news outlet, OneNewsNow. To do so, it has set up an automatic filter. But the system went awry when it ended up publishing a story about a world-class U.S. sprinter named “Tyson Homosexual” (whose real name is “Tyson Gay”). Therefore, OneNewsNow published an AP story reading, “Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has.” OneNewsNow said that it has now taken “the filter out for that word.”
Because sometimes a Gay is not a gay.

So men are ... flies?

Sometimes it's really good to get outside the US media and our own little blogosphere, and see what's going on in the rest of the world. You really never know what you'll find. Apparently making the email rounds in the Middle East, is the following photo, which includes this message at the top:

“You can’t stop them, but you can protect yourself.”

The Arabist asks in his post Veil Your Lollipop, "Two obvious (and rhetorical) questions: Can we really not stop harassment? And does veiling really “protect” you?"

Click the image to see a larger version in all it's icky glory ....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

About that survey ...

Last week I really started feeling the effects of the $4 gallon gas. I try to do everything I can to use less gas, but sometimes it just doesn't seem like enough. (I suppose the costs of the total overhaul of the bathroom isn't helping much right now, either!). So I started wondering what other folks are doing to cope with expensive gas and the resulting high cost of everything. Nine of you voted, and here's what you said:

  • Started carpooling 2 (22%)
  • Started taking the bus 1(11%)
  • Ride my bike more often 0 (0%
  • Sold my SUV 0 (0%)
  • More careful to turn off the lights at home 7 (77%)
  • Run the AC less often 6 (66%)
  • Go out to dinner less often 3 (33%)
  • Drive the speed limit now 6 (66%)
  • Other 5 (55%)

I'm one of the two who has started carpooling -- I wonder if my carpooling colleague is the other one? I have tried taking the commuter train, but that's a whole 'nother post. A nightmare, and a long one at that. I thought I would ride my bike to the store, etc., but haven't had trips to stores near enough. I do try to combine all trips together, though. Sell my SUV? Does an '89 Toyota wagon with a "Hillary" bumper sticker count? Eh, I didn't think so. Anyway, she's not going anywhere (yeah, and neither's Hillary).

It seems that most of us are being more aware of energy use at home, which is good. Seven of 9 of us say we turn off lights more often -- I bet the remaining 2 already have all the lights off!

We definitely eat out less, and are more aware of prices when we do go out. Any higher priced meal has to be purchased with the understanding that there will be leftovers for more meals. (That's how we justified Indian food last night, anyway. Chicken korma for dinner again!).

What's up with the speed limit? Are the 3 of you who didn't check this one already doing the limit, or do you know a secret to gas mileage that the rest of us don't? Someone must have a secret, because other cars (and SUVs) continue to fly past me on I-95, with no concern for burning the gas.

And 5 of you said you're doing something else. I know from some of your comments that you're combining trips, walking when you can. What else can you pass along that's helping?

image from

Please pardon out mess ...

I vowed when I started this blog that it would not be one of those "here's what's in my fridge" blogs, where the writer posts photos of the inside of their refrigerator, and tells you in great detail what they are going to do for the rest of the day (laundry? really? do I care?) And writing about my bathroom renovation project is skirting dangerously close to the edge on this promise. But if you'll indulge me a little bit of a vent, I can once again focus on the more worldly topics of this blog. If you don't have any interest in home renovation, perhaps you'd like to skip this post and come back later.

So. Once upon a time there was a slightly leaky supply line to the toilet tank in the upstairs bathroom. A simple fix with a $5 part. But as I was on my hands and knees with my head behind the toilet (and yes, that was a new experience for me -- all previous experience involving being on my knees and a toilet has been in front of a toilet), I noticed the linoleum seemed to be very damp underneath. Very damp indeed. Crappy linoleum it was, so Unnamed Partner and I decided to pull it up and see how far the dampness went. It went very far.

You saw the picture last week, so you know how much fun that was.

We decided to go ahead and take up all the layers of linoleum and tile the floor. We realized that some of that dampness may have in fact been coming from ... wait for it ... the toilet seal. Yes. "Eeew!" "Yuck!" "Oh, sweet J!" So "we" (with big brother's invaluable help) put in a new toilet last week.

To take up all the linoleum, we also had to remove the sink and vanity, which was o.k., because it was very old and beatup and was actually much too big for that space. It also turns out that the shutoff valves underneath the sink were leaking ever so slightly.

I have kind of a love/hate relationship with water at the moment.

These shutoff valves should have been in the Smithsonian. Or else in an industrial supply catalog. They were a little bit of overkill from another era, and they were impossible to remove. We realized this would be a new skill for us to learn to cut and "sweat" the pipes to put in better shutoff vales, or call in someone (and pay for it!) But wait! There's more! We had successfully made it to the point of putting down the backerboard in preparation for the tile.

That's when I heard the water dripping from the kitchen ceiling.

Ripping up the subfloor, we found that the copper supply to the bathtub was lying in a notch on top of the floor joist, directly below the subfloor. Miraculously we had not put a screw into it -- but someone else had years ago, and as we worked on the subfloor and backerboard, we jiggled the old screw loose, causing a waterfall onto the kitchen ceiling below.

Time for Len the Plumber.

As for actual water damage, there was very little because we caught it in time. We can basically let the ceiling dry out a little more and paint should cover the spot. The pipe is fixed, and we have new shutoff valves. We can now put down the rest of the backerboard, and then begin tiling. And then we can paint the walls, and then put up the wainscoting. And then we can install the new sink and vanity.

And by the way, we're going on vacation for a week on Thursday. Thanks for listening.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Stormy weather

Don't know why ... but all heck is breaking out with the bathroom renovation project. "So weary all the time" as Lena Horne would say. And guess what? Miss Lena is 91 today! So while I'll be spending some quality time with Len the Plumber for the rest of the day, please amuse yourselves with the sights and sounds of Lena Horne:

Happy Birthday Miss Lena!