Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Friday, November 12, 2004

You know…

Sometimes being a jack-of-all-trades (and master of vanishingly few) creates more trouble than it’s worth. Oh, sure, sometimes it’s nice to have people think you’re all manly because you can rebuild a carburetor or kill, gut, pluck and cook your own chicken; or alternately think you’re all sensitive and artistic because you understand the term chiaroscuro and can draw all kinds of pretty pictures.

But most of the time, knowing how to do all that stuff just makes you sore.

I had intended yesterday to be a day completely devoid of serious activity. Wasn’t going to do a single constructive thing. Got up relatively late, and only because it was time for breakfast, which was quite tasty. Cleaned up afterwards, and heard Catherine upstairs getting into trouble, so I got her to come back downstairs with the lure of playing a game with her. “Hey, instead of bothering everyone upstairs, why don’t you get your Memory game and we’ll play that!”

She was very excited by the prospect, because it’s hard for her to get anyone to play with her. The other kids always want to play by the rules and all. But Memory is hard NOT to play by the rules, and it’s somewhat fun. Especially now that we’re only missing two pairs of cards.

So, we played and it was nice and quiet and the rain was coming down and it was just very nice. Especially when I absolutely SMOKED her the first game. She made up for it in the second game, however, and tied me. Actually, I was satisfied by both, seeing as how the last time I played with her I seemed to have mislaid my brain and she actually beat me. The final game she was getting tired, and started rolling over with her butt up in the air between turns. I won that one, too, but she had given up and was more interested in the sound of her voice singing a variety of what sounded like patriotic songs, none of which seemed to be in any known language.

No matter. We put the game away and she wandered off to go do something else, and I decided I needed a BOOK to read. Never get to just sit down on a rainy day and read any more, you know. One in particular I have been trying to get to for at least three years now is a reprint of John Love’s pioneering work Geodaesia.

Love was an English surveyor who had come to America to practice his craft in the latter-1600s, then upon his return to England published a handy guidebook of mathematics, geometry and surveying in 1687. It became one of the most widely read texts on surveying and went through numerous editions over the course of over a hundred years. Believe it or not, it’s actually quite an enjoyable read and very conversational, although it is quite a stumble to read all of the long-esses that look like lower case Fs. It is moft injurious to the conftitution and caufes a great diftemper.

Anyway, I got about three pages into it when it occurred to me that I really needed to fix Reba’s tire on her car. YET ANOTHER deflationary event occurred Monday night when she went to class, and she had to YET AGAIN get a group of ne’er-do-wells to change it for her. Different tire, this time, though, although I don’t know if that’s really good or bad. Front passenger side. I’ve been driving it all week so she wouldn’t have to make any long trips on the tiny little hemorrhoid-cushion-size spare tire.

The rain had let up, and it was supposed to start again, and I didn’t really want to wait until Saturday, so…::sigh::. Got on my work clothes and went on downstairs.

Got the flat one out of the trunk and rolled it to the garage door and put some more air in it, then started the search for the hole. I have a special high-tech leak disclosure fluid that I use in these cases. I take some of the kid’s bubble-blowing solution and some water and douse the tire with it. Works like a charm And found the leak right off--a teeny tiny little bugger, right up next to one of the tread lugs, which makes it hard to plug.

Not that such a thing would stop me. I got out the rasp and the hook and the rubber cement and the icky sticky strings of rubber and in only a few minutes had a repair worthy of Junior, Sr. down at the service station.

Jack the car up, swap wheels, lower it, stow the jack and spare, and then notice that the van tires seem a bit low. Move everything around on the driveway, move the van to the garage, pump up those tires, then notice that Moby’s tires (Moby being our great white ’94 Plymouth minivan that now serves as loyal backup vehicle) look a bit low. So they got a dose of O, too. (Get it?! "O, too"; O2! Man, I kill me.)

So what started out at a twenty minute job actually went about twice that, but I did manage to beat the rain. Inside, clean up, get all the rubber cement off of me, and then…

Well, that stupid toilet needs to be seen to. Do I REALLY want to get into all that? No.

But, I did anyway.

First had to get the rest of the water out of the bowl and the tank, accomplished with a small plastic juice cup and a healthy wad of toilet paper. Ick. Took the nut covers off the anchor bolts to see that both anchors were covered with a nice healthy coating of black rust. Not good. One I was able to loosen, but the other was rusted tighter than a rusty bolt. I thought I might be able to break it off with a pair of Vise Grips, but succeeded only in making myself tired. Out with the hacksaw. Saw, saw, saw, repeat.

Finally popped the nut-bolt combo off and got ready for the big unveiling. Remember, the floor already showed signs of great rottenness, and the only question was really how bad the toilet had leaked. I disconnected the service line (and mopped up some more water) and then tilted the throne forward to reveal AIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! BUGS!! EEEEK! What a mess. It looked like the thing had been leaking since day one and all around the hub, the wood flooring had disintegrated into peat. And as noted, all sorts of creepy crawlies were down there eating it all up, notably earwigs. Ick. AND a gigantic fat spider had made herself a home up inside the hollow portion of the stand. Ick. So, obviously the first thing was to go get the new can of bug spray we bought the other day and do a little de-icking.

That done, it was time to start scraping off the old wax ring. Blech. It was all covered with black mold and there was no room to work, either. After about fifteen minutes of digging and scraping and poking and trying not to get anything on the carpet that was just outside the door in the hallway, it was time to start pulling up the rotted flooring. The only thing I can say is thank heavens this was on a concrete slab. We really would have been in trouble if this had happened upstairs in the part that has wood framing.

I plugged up the pipe with a big plastic Pepsi cup (no slight is intended to our fine friends at Pepsi--it was just the quickest thing I could find that fit) and then I pulled up several sections of the flooring, including one long strip that really didn’t need to be pulled up. Oops. I went and got one of my cheapo-Chinese wood chisels, scribed some cut-off lines on the floor so I wouldn’t have to pull any more too long strips up, tapped across the line to cut the boards, and after much grunting and trying to keep my legs from falling asleep in the cramped confines of the powder room, finally wound up with roughly a 2 foot square area of concrete, with a nice foot-and-a-half diameter ring of black stained concrete and flooring mastic. What a mess.

Well, first thing is to let things dry out a bit and then kill off some of that mold. I doused it with some Lysol, and basically I’m just going to wait a week before trying to figure out how to fix everything back. One of the unintended byproducts of my early free-spirited wiggling with the Vise Grip was that I damaged the flange that holds the anchor bolts. So that’ll have to he replaced. And it’s glued in with pipe dope. Which is what I think I am going to start calling myself.

Anyway, what with all the wrestling with tires and porcelain conveniences, the rest of yesterday I was, as we’uns down here say, “all stove-up.”

After the day was all done and I had gotten my shower, though, I DID finally get to lie down with my book and enjoy a nice little romp through the intricacies of 17th-century surveying.

And now? Well, it’s off to lunch with Miss Reba. Be back in just a bit.

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