Friday, December 24, 2010

A MacGyver Moment


For those of you who have been following my “Bathroom of Sisyphus” project, you know I've been knee-deep in remodeling during my spare time. If you took a peek now, one would swear a flock of woodpeckers took up residence in the bathroom walls. There are holes everywhere from exploratory surgery attempts to discover what lurks behind the drywall in a number of different locations. I bet I could even give Geraldo Rivera's infamous “The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults” a run for the money.

Several weekends ago I ripped out the vanity cabinet. In the process, I discovered that none of the water shutoff valves to the plumbing fixtures functioned in any manner one expects from a shutoff valve. Lets just say that I had a brief moment where I recreated the Old-Faithful geyser in my bathroom. While I hadn't intended on having a shower at the moment, the plumbing had other plans.

Well, it didn't take long before I took a trip to the local home improvement center to pick up plumbing supplies. After acquiring the replacement valves and associated copper fittings to make several adjustments, I set about showing off my plumber's crack to no one in particular. With a pipe cutter in one hand and a propane torch in the other, I dove in head first. But not before I shut off the water main and opened a faucet to drain the water so as not to have another geyser effect from those pesky malfunctioning valves.

Things moved forward as I slowly replaced the leaky valves by sweat soldering new fittings in place. Ah, but no project goes without a hitch and I encountered one that had me scratching my noggin. In one location, the pipes were low enough that what seemed like an endless reservoir of water was still present which I couldn't purge. Let's just say soldering and water are mortal enemies as the process simply won't work. Curse you laws of thermodynamics! To vanquish my watery enemy, I thought about pressurizing the pipes with air but that seemed too complicated. What I needed was a simple solution. Hmm? What would MacGyver do?

The running joke I heard when I was growing up as a kid said that a truly handy person could fix anything with bailing wire and chewing gum. How about with a slice of bread? Yes indeed! I leveraged a loaf to get myself out of the pickle, er a jam, ah heck, you know what I mean! :D

I once heard that if a piece of bread is crammed into an open copper pipe, it would block the water flow and prevent the heat from wicking away. And once you turn the water back on, the bread dissolves to free the blockage. So off to the kitchen I raced for a slice of Rye. Mmm, I had to have a bite before I blocked the pipe. After a few minutes of packing bread into the pipe, not a drop of water was to be seen. Presto-chango, like magic, the fittings soldered on like a champ. An instant MacGyver solution!

So what is the state of the Sisyphean bathroom? Looks like I'll have to write about that at another time otherwise I'll have a mini-novel in place.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm Right - You're Wrong

Is there a time when what you think is the right thing to do is the wrong course of action? And why should a person feel uncomfortable taking what they believe is the morally correct course of action?

The first question is rather subjective in nature. Right and wrong are moral values we have formed due to our experiences in life. In part, some of those beliefs have also been shaped by the role models around us. Even current environmental conditions such as panic or prolonged hunger could cause us to ignore our beliefs about what we consider morally right or wrong. I won't even dive into the political beliefs where conservative and liberals crash head to head over ideologies which are most likely deeply rooted in how the brain itself is wired. When you get down to it, one person's right could very well be another person's wrong.

Considering how amorphous the concept of right and wrong is, I wonder what others think about when they witness something that triggers one of the feelings that's most likely instinctual – greed. Today I had a brief opportunity to be the target of several people's attention. And that leads to the second question I posed about feeling uncomfortable taking an action. Okay, let's get along with the core of the story shall we?

Over the past few weeks, I've been working on renovating the bathroom in my house. It keeps me busy in what little spare time I have and it also keeps me running back and forth to the home improvement stores for parts on a regular basis. Today was no exception. After tearing out the vanity cabinet and the sink top in the bathroom, I discovered something an experienced contractor would have well been aware of – the new vanity sink top didn't fit square against the wall. A rather large gap over 150mm wide existed between the front edge of the sink and the wall. Plain out, it looked nasty as could be. Unbeknownst to me until I ripped out the old sink, the previous fixture was embedded into the wall. Fine and dandy except the edge of my new sink has a bevel. To solve this, I need to hand craft a side=splash from one of those tiles that have multiple pieces of ceramic attached to a flexible meshing. So off to the home improvement center I did dash.

After poking around in several stores, I still couldn't find anything that would match up well with the sink tops color. Eventually I arrived at one of my usual haunts. Pulling into the parking lot, I started making a beeline for the door as it was drizzling. My eye picked up that oh-so-familiar color, the color of green. There on the ground lay a rather large bill folded in half. Twern't no Alexander Hamilton neither, something a wee bit larger.

At this point, most of us consider what action to take. Do we keep the money or do we look for the rightful “bond-bearer” if at all possible? Now we arrive at my second question. Potentially, one can feel a level of edginess no matter what choice we might make. Let's say a person decides to take action A – go to the lost and found department and turn in the money. Now, if one does such a thing, the result one encounters may vary anywhere from an acknowledgment of honesty, blank stares, or in some cases – criticism. The last being the most unique of the reactions. It's not unusual to hear someone call another a fool for trying to return lost money. Hence, this leads back to the initial question, are there times when doing the right thing is wrong?

I'll leave it as an exercise in thought for those of you who read to this point, did I keep the money or did I try to turn it in? Only the Shadow knows. Well, the Shadow and the person who would have been at the lost and found desk. :D

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Rhythm's Gonna Get Ya


Ever notice how one's body has a mind of its own at times? Mine certainly does. In ways, it reminds me of an ancient dinosaur. When I was a kid, the authors of some books theorized the bigger fellas like the Brontosaurus had two brains to control their body due to their massive size. Okay, so I'm showing my age as it's been renamed to Apatosaurus. Supposedly, not only did they have a kitty-cat sized brain in their head, but they also had a little bitty thinker back near their tail. Well, soon it will become pretty evident why I suspect I directly descended from one of those fellas.

Being that it's winter, I'm trying to fight off the gray-sky blues by making a few improvements to the house. Change does wonders for altering the mood. Since I'm by myself, I enjoy jamming to music rather than listening to the cars drive by outside on the street. A quick check on the Internet turned up a trance radio station I liked. There's some dance music playing so I crank up the volume and make a beeline for my painting tools because I'm ready for change.

Earlier, I'd painted a few color swatches on the wall. Testing the waters so to speak. Seems that maroon color I thought might look nice as a focal point was less than spectacular. While applying some white primer paint over the color samples, I unconsciously start moving the paint brush up and down to the rhythm of the music. Next thing I know, what little junk-in-the-trunk I do have just can't resist the bass line as I start swinging my tail feathers back and forth. As the beat kicks up the pace so does my shaker.

Normally it wouldn't be a big deal as I'm inside the house. But today, since I wanted to enjoy the sun as much as possible, I have the blinds wide open on the big picture window out front. As my can is swaying back and forth I turn to fill my tray with more paint. From the corner of my eye I see something move. Walking by on the street is teenage girl and she's looking straight at me. Let's just say her expression spoke more volume than the tunes I had playing.

Girl: “What's that old dinosaur doing in there? For the love of God, close your blinds!”

I wonder if I traumatized her for life?