Sunday, May 30, 2010


Now that we've established why I suddenly needed to repaint the bathroom (because the shower head broke), it's time for an update.

On Saturday, Jeff drove up with the five year old to help prep the front bathroom for painting. By prepping, I mean specifically 1) removing the toilet tank (so I could paint the wall behind it) and 2) taking down the 6'x3' mirror on the wall.

When he left a few hours later, the other bathroom looked like this:

Yes, that's the spot where the sink was before Jeff demolished it with a hammer and a screwdriver.

It turns out that when the metal sink has damage to the porcelain, it will rust out to the point that the whole sink basin needs to be replaced because it is just dumping all the water into the interior of the vanity. I hadn't noticed it was leaking because I never use that bathroom unless something is wrong with the other one, like the toilet has been taken apart so I can paint behind it. Naturally the sink basin was built in to the vanity, so the whole thing had to go -- concrete, chicken wire, and three inch nails, all of it.

Before taking it out, though, Jeff had to replace the valves controlling the water to the faucet because (of course!) one didn't work. So you see how we've gone from simply painting the front bathroom all the way to turning off the water to the entire house in order to replace the valves in the back bathroom? On a holiday weekend.

I was actually a bit shocked that it didn't snowball further from there. Jeff was able to pull the whole project back from the brink of home disaster, and he explained everything I needed to do to finish up before he drove back home. I'm guessing he won't be back soon...

Anyhow, the vanity I need is on back order at Home Depot, so I'll have some time to figure out how to either make new friends with strong muscles or figure out how to maneuver the thing from my car to the house. Anything is possible.

K-poo did come over today to help me paint the front bathroom. My prep motto: the primer will fix that. My painting motto: the faux finish will hide that. Tomorrow I'm going to do something for the faux finish. K-poo is convinced it will be a disaster. She's probably right, but it won't be as ugly as that wallpaper. Or at the very least, it will be a new ugly, and that's all anyone can ask for...

Thursday, May 27, 2010


So, I've mentioned before that my inability to unscrew a crucial piece of the old showerhead led to a rather unconventional approach to installing the new showerhead.

Well, I heard something crash in the middle of Sunday night and yelled at the cats to stop breaking things. (I often wonder if my neighbors hear this sort of thing -- I do usually have the window open at night.) Unfortunately, what I heard was the sound of the shower self-destructing.

As with all my home-improvement projects, I told Jon (the guy who sits next to me at work -- he's owned his own house in Oakland for decades, so he knows what to avoid) about my problem and learned that what I needed to do was unscrew the pipe from the wall and forget about the end piece.

So I did that, and bought the replacement part. And then before I could put it in, the evil part of my brain took over and said "T, you hate this wallpaper. Now's the time to rip it off and repaint the bathroom. And you have a three day weekend coming up."

My evil sub-brain conveniently forgets how lazy I am and how I tend to abandon projects when I get bored. Unfortunately, I can't abandon this one because I hate the other shower. It makes me claustrophobic and I keep bruising myself when I accidentally hit the wall.

How did I get here again?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Yet Another Reason To Love Woodland

Okay, so I saw an article in some business magazine this week titled "The Thirteen Housing Markets That Will Never Recover", which seems a little extreme. Sacramento (which is about ten minutes away) was listed. For that matter, so was Lansing, which suggests that my family does not understand the whole housing market thing, since that means that half of my parents' landowning children have bought houses in markets that will never recover.

Be that as it may, here's one of the things I love about Woodland:

Walking down Main Street Saturday night, I noticed a hand-written sign on Jim's Store. (I have to admit that I don't fully understand what Jim sells in his store -- there appears to be some luggage, and also those Three Wolves Howling At The Moon t-shirts, but I haven't found a unifying theme. On the other hand, Jim's store has been in Woodland longer than I have, so he must sell something.) The note was taped to the door and said:

"At a pow-wow in Marysville until Monday. If you have any questions, call ...." and then he had listed his cell phone number.

How great is that? It's not every place where people can just close up the shop for the weekend, tell everyone exactly where they are going, and leave their cell phone number just in case someone really needs something.

So yeah, I probably couldn't sell my house even if I wanted to, but that's okay with me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's PSA Time!

First off, here's the funniest email exchange (paraphrased) I had all week, between myself and K-poo who, as everyone knows, has lost one phone in the bay and another phone (in a bar?) this year:

Me: You use the backup service Mozy, right? Do you like it?

K-poo: I don't use it.

Me: That's weird. I wonder why I thought you used it.

K-poo: Because I lose or destroy everything I own?

On a more serious note, my friend Emilia is the veterinarian at the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society. BEBHS suffered a catastrophic fire last night -- fifteen cats died and a significant portion of the facility was destroyed. (The person in the apartment above the shelter was woken by her dog and dialed 911 -- the firefighters said that if that call had come in a few minutes later the rest of the cats in the shelter and the dogs housed in runs outside would have died.)

If you have a few extra dollars you can spare (or space to foster an animal, or time to help clean up), please consider making a donation to BEBHS through the link above. If you don't want to do it for the animals, do it because Emilia is one of the most compassionate, funny, and genuinely nice people I have ever met, and she's doing a job that is tough even in the best of circumstances.

As the Bartles & James guys used to say, thank you for your support.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Return of Taxpayer #2

This week I received another (smaller) check from the UC Regents and a letter that claimed that this was the last of the class action lawsuit money. I'm still not sure what the lawsuit was about, but the check gave me a bad feeling.

See, when I got the first (rather substantial) check last year, a bunch of people were grumbling that we might have to declare it as income on our taxes. That didn't really make a lot of sense to me, since the lawsuit (as far as I can tell) was because we were charged too much for tuition, so theoretically that money had already been taxed. But since logic and taxes don't hang out together, I made a mental note to add that to my taxes.

And then that mental note went through the laundry and became little pieces of fluff in the mental dryer.

So, yeah, I got the second check this week and immediately thought "Crap!" It was hard enough to file taxes the first time. But I figured it would probably be better to file an amendment before the IRS noticed, rather than after.

And then two days later I got a letter from the IRS. I get a letter from the IRS pretty much every year. Obviously this is a sign that I should just pay someone else to do my taxes, but I just can't do that.

Anyhow, I opened the envelope quickly (sort of like ripping off a band-aid -- it's better to get it over with right away) and scanned to find out how much extra I owed.

Apparently I somehow claimed zero dependents on my taxes this year, so they're sending me a refund. I'm not really sure how that happened. I suspect that the amount of the refund is roughly the amount of money I'll owe if I really did have to declare the lawsuit money as income.

Maybe I should seek professional help...

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I put my dog to sleep last week. Lucy was my will-live-six-months-at-the-most trial dog to see if I was suited for dog ownership. That was six years ago. I don't have any regrets about putting her to sleep because it was definitely time, but now I have all this stuff that I don't know what to do with.

As many times as I joked about buying small bags of food over the years, I still ended up with nearly forty pounds of geriatric dog food. That and some of her medications (and she was on three on a daily basis) went to a friend with a geriatric large breed dog, but what about the rest of it? I don't know anyone who needs gabapentin or trilostane. It was insanely expensive while she was alive, but now I can't even give it away.

Then there's her collar and harness, with three rabies tags and a variety of address tags because once those things get put on the collar, they never come off, and besides, the jingling of her collar was the only way I could find her when she was hiding in the ivy because she didn't want to come inside in the morning when I had to leave for work.

How do you get rid of a six-foot couch? It ceased to be human furniture about a year ago, but you don't take the dog's couch away without a good reason, and you don't rearrange the living room furniture when you have a blind, arthritic dog without feeling like a complete jerk.

Her jar of peanut butter that I put on a cookie every morning to hold the pills together? Oh wait, that I can use myself.

The wading pool will probably disintegrate in the next few months as it breaks down in the sun, but I'll be digging up moldy rawhide bones every time I plant something for as long as I own the house.

And how do I get rid of the big empty spot in the bed, and the silence that used to be filled with the snoring that kept me awake every night for the first week I had her?

They say that when you lose someone, there's supposed to be an emptiness. So why do I have all this stuff?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Some People Have High Expectations...

I fix things. That's what I do. When it comes right down to it, that's what I'm good at.

However, some people have rather inflated ideas of what I can accomplish.

For example, somebody (I still don't know who) left this on my desk at work last week.

Yes, it's a dying tulip plant with a post-it note that says "Help Me".

Sometimes you have to wonder...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I'll Have the Scam Soup With the Embezzler's Salad on the Side

In a clear break with tradition, Rvan and I ate lunch at the Money Laundering Cafe today.

Okay, sure, it has a real name, something like "Pizzazz!" or "How can we still be in business?!", but really, in the first year it was open, we never once saw anyone buy anything there, and in its second year (the year they added tables and chairs), I think we've only seen two people eat there. And this is while the pseudo-Japanese place fifteen feet away is packed.

When we arrived at noon, we were the only people there. The two people behind the counter looked a little shocked to see customers. (I ordered the half portobello mushroom & roasted red pepper panini and half baked potato. Rvan ordered both halves of the panini.) Then we sat down and waited. I think they might have gone over to Safeway to buy the ingredients.

The food was actually pretty good, and I haven't dropped dead from food poisoning yet, so that's a plus. My only real complaint is that eating there was about like eating in a jet. Not the cabin, but actually inside the jet engine. They have at least four refrigeration cases and the noise was unbelievable for a restaurant. Granted, my hearing is messed up from the cold I'm getting over, but Rvan kept telling me to repeat things, and I was reading his lips to figure out what he was saying.

Is this the low-tech way to make sure conversations can't be recorded?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Cycle of Life

One of the things I learned in vet school is that everything has a life cycle. Some things are pretty simple (egg, fetus, puppy, dog, really really old dog, ancient blind arthritic dog, and eventually back around to puppy maybe someday), and other things are fairly complicated (tapeworm egg ingested by flea, flea ingested by cat, tapeworm hatches in cat, tapeworm eggs come out the other end of the cat and disgust the owners, etc).

Even inanimate things can have a life cycle. Let's take exercise equipment, for example:

1) Determination: yeah, that's the easy part. You look at your gut and you realize that it isn't going to go away on its own. Sure, you could exercise without equipment (or even with the stuff you already own), but maybe the new stationary bike/elliptical/nordic ski track/etc. will make it more fun, which is important because we all agree that exercise sucks.

2) Acquisition: let's face it, most people get their exercise equipment second-hand, because there are so many people looking to get rid of it, either because they need to make space for the next item, or because it reminds them of the broken exercise vows, and it's easier to get rid of the reminder than it is to exercise.

3) Work out: This is the shortest part of the life cycle.

4) Dust gathering: This is almost always the longest part of the life cycle.

5) Relinquishment: This is the acquisition phase for someone else. If you're lucky, you have a friend or relative that is looking for that particular item you own, and you can claim that you can loan it to them "just for a while". Then you can conveniently forget about it for at least six months. If you aren't lucky, you may have to post it on Craig's list, which is the ultimate shame.

After that you are free to try again.

So, yeah, my parents were in town this weekend and I temporarily unloaded the exercise bike on my brother so that my mom could use it. She was worried that I would need it, but, you know, I still have the elliptical...