Thursday, April 3

Around The House. (Or 'Four Floors Of Fail.')

Floor 1.
STORY #1 - "You Should Probably Get That Fixed."

Being a Home Inspector seems like a pretty sweet gig. You get to spend the bulk of the inspection explaining to the homeowner all of the things that you're not allowed by law to monkey, tinker or fiddle with, and if you see anything that appears to be broken, you just look at the owner and say "You should probably get that fixed." Don't get me wrong, our guy was great and took strides to help us out, but I now feel confident that I could do similar work with no less than 20 years worth of training. It's a money bin, damn it, and I'm diving in.

I honestly wasn't prepared for how nerve-wracking the inspection process of our new place was going to be. You don't want to find out that you purchased a lemon made entirely out of tin foil, hair and carbon monoxide, so every time the inspector tilted his head or furrowed his brow at an outlet or appliance, my body ran cold and I simultaneously clutched my wallet and heart. For all I knew, there was an expensive and elaborate deathtrap lurking around every intricately-drywalled corner.

As someone with absolutely no experience in the art of keeping a house from collapsing in on itself, my only concern for any error was the fear of my house exploding. It's the only thing that made sense to me as a direct detriment to my well-being.

INSPECTOR - "It looks like they're running gas through copper piping. That's strange."

ME - "Will it make the house explode?"

INSPECTOR - "See that crack in the foundation? It's no big deal, but..."

ME - "Is the house going to explode?"

I also put on an Oscar-worthy acting performance as he explained to me the furnace and water heater. You would have actually believed that I understood even a microsyllable of what the man was saying. I swear to you, the day I move into this place, I'll feel a level of isolated loneliness and frightened despair the likes of which I've never known. If anything breaks, no matter how small and simple to patch, it's all over. I might as well board up the windows and join up with a traveling carnival, because I'm never coming back to fix it.

Floor 2.
STORY #2 - "Come Back To Me, Sherilyn Fenn."

Why don't they make dishwashers with an triggered light inside, like a refrigerator? I'm tired of reaching my hands into a darkened dishwasher every night, only to stick myself with a fork or some other undesirable glob of non-rinsed foodstuff. Come on, dishwasher technology! Evolve! Everything should have little automatic lights in them. Cabinets, toilets, closets, drawers, the whole lot.

The Missus, in her quest to convert every bulb in the house to fluorescent, has done a good job of saving energy and money, in that I don't even bother turning lights on anymore. Seriously, what's the point? Fluorescent bulbs take so long to warm up, that by the time they finally decide to lurch and flicker into action, I'm already napping in a different room. Furthermore, they click and buzz so much that I always feel like I'm in a David Lynch movie. At any moment, I expect some chalk-faced goon to show up at my door with a videotape of myself watching the very same videotape that he handed me.

(EDIT: I've recently been informed that some newer dishwashers have lights inside. Way to go!)

Floor 3.
STORY #3 - "If Calories Were Cash, I Would Still Be Dead."

Before sitting down with our mortgage lender last night, I was asked to make a copy of my most recent bank statements. Not being one to pay close attention to where my money is going, I saw this as a good chance to dig through my 2008 purchases and see where I could tighten the belt a little. What I saw shocked, embarrassed and forced me to vacate my bowels in anger.

No less than $150 spent each month on sub sandwiches, bagels and ice cream. Seriously.

Sub sandwiches.


Iced creamery cream with cream sauce.

$150 a month.

Don't bother wanting to jump through the screen and punch me right now; I'm digging a bent paperclip into my wrists as I type this. I absolutely could not believe how wasteful I was concerning office lunches and desserts alone.

Never mind all the alcohol and concert tickets. Never mind the HD cable and internet. Never mind any other luxury. By simply bringing a salad to work and saying no to that Mint Oreo Blizzard every night of the freaking week, I could save enough money to either power my house for a month, score a good amount of cocaine or snag myself an hour with a low-end escort.

I'm sorry. I really am. Just to prove how sorry I am, I will be putting a dry-erase board in my new kitchen to remind me just how much money I've pissed away every week in empty calories and honey-nut cream cheese. My Esquire lifestyle shall continue unhinged, but I'll be damned if I'm going to keep allowing so much cash to be pooped away for no reason. How disgusting, especially considering that I don't even like bagels all that much.


Floor 4.
STORY #4 - "Like MacGyver, Only For Poop."

Part of the reason we spend so much money dining out is our laziness when it comes to grocery shopping. It's a necessary evil, and I don't even mind it all that much, but when the food runs low and the apathy begins to skyrocket, dragging yourself into the Pick & Save is about as difficult as beating Duke University in a 'suck' contest.

Yes, I know that I recycled that joke. I didn't think you'd mind.

Me and the Missus theoretically go grocery shopping once every three weeks. We buy big, stock the cabinets and take comfort in knowing that we won't have to do it again for awhile. Our neighbors and contractual Best Friends Ben and Sherry, on the other hand, shop on a many-times-a-week basis, much like the Italians or French. Most afternoons, I can spot Sherry riding her bicycle home from the market, sporting a sundress with a stick of bread and fresh vegetables protruding from her pink basket.

She rings the bell and I wave kindly from the porch.

I don't know if you've ever waited over a month to buy groceries, but it's quite the feat of human achievement. You've reached a point in your de-evolution that not even the instinctual threat of starving to death will peel you from the couch to easily remedy and ward off disaster. It gets sad towards the end, however, when you're digging through the remnants of your pantry, deciding between boiling up the dented can of white hominy or the Spaghetti-O's with the fuzz on them. Still though, laziness and apathy trudge forth for another 5-7 days.

Unavoidably, the grocery store strike always comes to a bitter end. Not when you've finally had enough of eating crap that was too embarrassing to even donate to the Food Drive. Not when you've run out of money to order pizzas every night. Not even when you start to eye up the moist cat food in the basement.

Nope, the strike truly ends when you run out of toilet paper.

Game over, dude. You've lost. Look, I've gone a day without food. I've also gone a day without toilet paper, and I can say without a shred of uncertainty that I would rather temporarily starve than to glance over to the bathroom rack and see a bare, plastic toilet paper holder. What a helpless and tragic moment it is to know that you're about to do something horrible. Congratulations; you're MacGyver now. Good luck getting out of this jam. It's why I no longer own any white socks.

Typically, all I need is about one life-altering experience in a toilet-paperless house before I leap in the car and head for the nearest market. Preferably one with clean stalls.

At any moment, I expect some chalk-faced goon to show up at my door with a videotape of myself watching the very same videotape that he handed me.

Dude, I know what you mean. The house I grew up in had florescents in the kitchen, basement, stairways, and on the porch. I always thought John Wayne Gacy was hiding in my bushes or on the other side of the pegboard in my basement. I used to run around with one of those huge, heavy, metal flashlights and a candle because I was scared to turn them on.

Then again, I had issues.

P.S.- I'm starting on Season 2 of LOST, and I can't wait to read the Lost Friday/Monday companions!
Completely understood. Fluorescents can turn even the nicest room into Henry's place in Eraserhead. They may save energy, but they shall drive you mad. MAD, I SAY!

Way to go on Season 2 of Lost; it's going to blow your mind! But yeah, best of all, you get to check out Lost Friday/Monday after each viewing. They get funnier as they go on, trust me. Not the episodes; the recaps. I hope you haven't been spoiled to the point of not being surprised; Season 2 is absolutely insane.
Now, to be fair, I've converted to the nice "dayglow" fluorescents that don't light the house up like nuclear war...they are okay.
'Perma-Noon' lights would have been awesome. Like Ralph Wiggum's nightlight.
When our water heater seemingly sprung a leak, my roommate and I gamely decided to try to fix it ourselves. Approximately $30 and 4 hours later, we had a new TPR valve in place and the leaking had stopped.

You would have thought we built a time machine the way we bragged about our accomplishment.

Also, I know it's time to go to the grocery store when I start contemplating eating spaghetti sauce like it's soup.
There is a certain feeling of accomplishment and bravado in doing something like that. The first time I changed a tire, I felt like Bob Vila.

I suppose the spaghetti sauce with the meat and tomato chunks in it would make a decent emergency-meal, but if you're eyeballing the thin stuff, like original Ragu or something, it's time to write that grocery list.
Odd as it may sound at first, spaghetti sauce is a good chili base. Just add some cumin to it.

You haven't lived until you've removed a leaky toilet, removed a bad supply valve, installed a new one, took up the tile, put down new tile and put on a new toilet. Therein lies our bathroom remodel.

Oh -- I'm never putting tile down again in this century.
Mike - I agree. Tiling is a cold, hard bitch. So are hardwoods.
I am the king of spending money on random shit, and then at the end of every month saying "WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?" It's fun.

Also, I'm a believer in only having enough food on hand for whatever I want to eat each week. It keeps me from turning into a huge tub o' goo. My girlfriend, however, wants random crap on hand that nobody should ever need. Who needs 5 boxes of crackers?

So, of course we're going to butt heads when I move in with her in a few months. Should be a blast!
HOSS - Just reading that made me shudder. The home inspector was talking to us about replacing tile, and I secretly wanted to fling myself out of the second-story window.

IMS - Good luck with that. The move-in process is delicate and stressful, but there's usually nudity involved, so it balances out quite nicely.

Yup, from now on, I'm keeping closer track of where my money is going in regards to pointlessness. Most things won't change, but I was saddened to see all that money go to waste on my future heart attack.
CDP -- in actuality it was the whole process. If I just had to take up the old tile it would have been fine. If I had to just lay down new tile, it would have been find. But taking it up and then putting new down just about ruined it all for me.

Two somewhat saving graces -- 1.) the area is small, maybe 4ft x 10 ft and 2.) there was concrete underneath, so I didn't have to mess with cement board. Ugh.

It also took me 2-3hrs to get the old supply valve off. That is, 2-3hrs without water in the house. I ended up using a hacksaw, which is something all home improvement projects should entail.

All bitchin' aside, there is a great amount of satisfaction when I see the tile while I'm doing my business.
I just had this hilarious visual (more so because I have no idea what he looks like) of Mike sitting on his toilet, staring down at the new tile, looking pleased and saying "Yep, that's some fine, fine tile."

I'm a once-a-week grocery shopper, truth be told. I love going to the market. I'm a little spoiled, though, because I have a really nice market about two blocks from my house and then the big co-op just a few more blocks down. I also went through a period (college) when grocery shopping was rarely an option for me, and things got so bad at times that I was literally having dreams about grocery shopping that I considered my best dreams ever.

Now that I can actually afford to do it, I've taken to the "buy only what you need for a week" European model because it helps keep me a lean, mean fightin' vegetarian machine.
Oh hey, you might also be interested to know that Friday Night Lights has been renewed for a third season.
HOSS - We're already starting a list of all the things we'll need to buy for home projects. So far, it consists of a ladder and a hacksaw. That should cover us through the Summer at least.

EMILY - I was thinking the same thing. Pretty funny.

Me and the Missus will probably be following more routines in the new house; things like making sure we keep tabs on wasteful spending, maintainence on appliances and constant vacuuming. I'd also like to work a more frequent shopping schedule into the mix, too. Seems like everyone who does it is pretty pleased with it, and we'll be living about 2 minutes from the market.

Saw the Friday Night Lights thing, and was quite happy with it. I hope that this newfound security allows them to go back to the Season 1 style of storytelling that was so magnificent. Without question, Season 1 of Friday Night Lights is required viewing in the category of brilliantly produced television.
CDP -- you need to get medieval on that house. Get a pair of pilers and a blowtorch.

Actually, if it had to recommend one tool for home ownership, besides the standards, it would be a rubber mallet. Because sometimes you need to hit things without breaking them.

Emily -- My daughter sings a song after every successful bowel movement, so why can't I admire my tile during the deed? She started singing her song in a crowded restaurant this weekend. Ah, the life of a four-year old.
Love the rubber mallet. I use that thing on a weeky basis. Mainly on the cats.
Yep. Ryan uses that rubber mallet every excuse he gets. Not on tires though...except for comedic reasons. Bonk!

IMS--your g/f sounds like Ryan. Why does he need 3 opened boxes of cereal and 4 opened boxes of crackers, each 3/4 eaten? I cannot stand that. WASTE OF SPACE. (the boxes, not him.)
Ah, the joys of home ownership. Now, when things break, you get to figure out either how to fix them yourself or how to afford to get someone else to fix them.

And as far as grocery shopping - we have a membership to one of the bulk stores. It used to be Sam's, but we are boycotting the Walton franchises and switched to Costco (because they love you). We go maybe once every two months and buy a bunch different kind of meat, then repackage and freeze it in smaller amounts (enough for a single family dinner). That way, we only have to get the sides and other accompanyments at the actual grocery store about once a week. We make a dinner plan for the week based on the meat in the freezer, and then make a list of the things we need based on the dinners we planned. This works best if you have a decent size freezer OR if you have the space (say in a garage) for a small chest freezer. And cutting out all of the convenience foods and fast-food lunches really does save you money - and that means more spending cash for concerts and such.
Wow, your world revolves around a lot of meat. I admire the pattern, though; I like knowing what I'm doing before I actually do it.

It also sounds like having a slim and set menu for the food you plan on eating is good for your health, too. I'm liking this idea more and more.
Yeah...I never thought of it before, but I guess a lot of our activities revolve around our eating patterns, which have a lot to do with meat (meat being the "centerpiece" of most of our meals). Insightful and disturbing!
Merv The Perv Sez...

"I'll give you some meat to revolve around!"
You guys are funny!

We just closed on a house on Monday, and found out Tuesday we're gonna birf a baby. We got married just over 2 months ago. BEAT THAT! :)
Damn, life is coming at you fast! Congrats on all of that; remember to breathe.
Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury. They should not be thrown in the trash. They have to be recycled along with other hazardous waste. If they do end up in the trash, the mercury will leach into the groundwater or find its way into the air and kill us all instantly. This is not hyperbole! And God forbid a fluorescent bulb breaks! You should see the multi-step process required to clean it up.

Seriously, buy LEDs. They're crazy expensive but last even longer than fluorescents. You know, if you're concerned about those kinds of things.

I find it interesting that mercury thermometers have all but been replaced by non-mercury-containing thermometers for the reasons mentioned above while we're all being told how awesome mercury-containing light bulbs are. I smell a conspiracy.

Old man rant over.
I'm down with saving energy and the planet and whatnot, but I hate those bulbs. They're expensive, they don't fit well in any of my lamps and they cast the most unflattering light on Earth.

I want to buy a LED belt buckle that flashes my name across it. It's a start, right?
They have LED screens the size of city buses nowadays.

It's a best fit for a roof.

"Now you can stop (air) traffic with your obscenely large flashing name"
You should consider my mothers theory of housing which is:

"We've wrecked this place enough, let's set it on fire."
lol @ the truthiness of what Will said.

Mind if I "borrow" that?
the trick is to keep a box of kleenex in the bathroom. it gets used much more rarely than tp, so it's always there when you need backup.
We always keep a box of Kleenex handy :) Came in handy earlier this week during the great TP shortage of '08.
...fighting off urge to make inappropriate box of kleenex joke...


I also keep a box of kleenex around...for my alone time.

sorry, couldn't help it.
Yeah, I was trying to find a way to say the Kleenex thing without the dirty kleenex thoughts coming to mind...just couldn't manage it, I guess. JT=naughty
I was just too easy, though.
I'm sick as hell and look like crap, but I'LL BE IN THE CDP LIVE VIDEO CHAT UNTIL 5PM TODAY!!!
well that certainly sounds like something we would all want to be a part of....?
Good point.

I'm actually looking quite clean and chipper. Sexy, even.

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