BMEWS
 
When Sarah Palin booked a flight to Europe, the French immediately surrendered.

calendar   Monday - May 17, 2010

Monday Monday

Let’s see ...

Goo Gone? Check.
Plastic and steel putty knives? Check.
Painter’s multi-tool scraper? Check.
Buckets, sponges, rags, chamois? Check.
Extra paper towels? Check.
Squeegees, extra rubber? Check.
Assorted sizes of T-bars and scrubber heads? Check. Clean ones? Check.
Secret special soap solution? Check. BUCKETS? Checked already, but, check.

Food! Breakfast, lunch, plenty to drink, cooler, ice. Do it in the AM. It’s all in the fridge.

Ladder, straps, roof pad? Check.

Tools ... Check.
Giant vise grips? Check.
Tape dope ... let’s see, it’s in here somewh ... check.
Sacrificial coat hanger? Check.
Drain cleaner? Check.
window scraper? Check.
Spare blades? Check.

Okay, I’m good to go. Got another day or two of work here. Do all the windows, unclog a drain, de-stink a freezer, replace a couple ... oh yeah!

New GFI and faceplate. Check; in the car already.
Spare bulbs? Check.
2 F40s? Check.
Fan switch? Check.
Remember to save the receipts!!!
CLR, white vinegar, baking soda? Checkity check. Ok.

See, I’m not just the window guy. I’m that guy. You know, the one who does stuff for hire. Which sometimes means I need a bigger trunk. Hell, I need a bigger truck. And I don’t even have a truck.

So off to work for me in the morning.
Coffee pot set up for the morning, extra strong, Thermos nearby? Check.

Cool. Must remember to wash and polish the doors, including the front door down that steep little staircase. Ok.

See ya.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/17/2010 at 12:55 AM   
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calendar   Sunday - May 02, 2010

Suddenly It’s Summer

Bit of weird weather here this week; even though it’s just the beginning of May it’s going to be in the 90s all week long. So naturally I’ve got loads of work to do. Did a clear out and clean up job yesterday for folks who are getting hardwood floors installed. Move all the furniture, tear up the old carpet. Got my cleaning jobs today. Got an apartment cleanup tomorrow, then come back when the painter is done and do the windows. Window job on a small home after that, then windows on another house, then a window job on a carriage house apartment. In between I have to fit window jobs for 2 of the condos here. Should be a busy week. Or two. Good.

Off to work, and then to buy various cleaners for tomorrow. I always “look forward” to those “the tenants trashed the place, come fix it” phone calls. Let’s see what to take up there ... drain snake, oven cleaner, scrub brush, scrubby sponges, bathtub cleaner, clorox, toilet brush, dryer vent brush, a couple 5 gallon buckets, glass cleaner, wood soap, Liquid Gold, dust cloths, vacuum, tools, toilet parts, scrapers, putty, caulk, Comet, drain cleaner, Goo Gone, tools, dusters, duct tape, rubber gloves, rages, paper towels, ...  Oh yeah, it’s gonna be a busy time.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/02/2010 at 03:40 PM   
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calendar   Wednesday - March 24, 2010

I can see clearly now

Did my first window job of the season today. It was March this morning alright. Two pair of pants, a sweater and two jackets, all the way up on the ladder while the wind was whipping around. Hug that building! The sun came out later and the wind died down, and it turned out to be a nice day.

Looks like about 2 loads of laundry to clean up all the dirty rags. And dirty is right. Folks have those removable screens and they just collect dirt underneath and on the sill. Collect? Forget that. They’re little compost heaps, and the dirt turns into fresh soil.

I can always tell when people have cats. No, not the litter pan aroma, or the little furry toys you see lying around the house in unusual places. No, I can tell because of the windows. Cat nose prints about 9” up the glass on nearly every window with a sill inside. Little bitty kitty boogers stuck to the glass. And groups of paw prints around the top center of the lower sash if they happen to have window shades with those pulls on strings. Cats can’t resist them ever.

So I did a real nice job, and did a bit of double cleaning on several of the bigger sheets of glass. Not too much scraping, but I had to stop and dissolve a number of stickers and the glue they leave behind. That slows me down.

That Perfect Glass stuff works really well as a final cleaner. Works pretty well as a primary cleaner too most of the time; this house had skylights on either side of the roof right next the the fireplace chimney. Can you say soot build up? Oy. Filth. “You went up on the roof and cleaned those? I don’t think they’ve ever been cleaned before!” No kidding. They’re clean now. Took 3 applications of Perfect Glass after a thorough scrub and squeegee with my regular window mix. Blackened the scrubber, a firm bristle scrub brush, 3 rags and a microfiber cloth. Per skylight. But the glass is brilliant. Until the next rain, party of birds, or “let’s have a fire tonight” event.

Now off to do my Sunday afternoon cleaning, delayed several days. They don’t care, as long as it gets done once a week.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/24/2010 at 09:46 PM   
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calendar   Sunday - March 21, 2010

Plumb Tired

I just finished a pain in the tail plumbing job. 12 hours.

Normally I respect jack-leg carpentry, building something or other in place and getting the job done. That’s all well and good, but when it’s time to replace or repair something like that, it’s a royal pain. I had to replace a countertop and install a new sink and faucet for a customer. The old one was in a little nook, with sliding doors on the front. Was it a cabinet that was put there? No, it was built in place. On the cheap. No back or sides, just plywood plates nailed to the drywall, everything whacked together with finishing nails. And then they glued Formica on top and finished it off.

And ... “um, we’ve had some water problems with those pipes before”. Yeah. Uh huh. I went in there last night and took things apart, and half the wood was rotted. Damp walls, and a mold problem. Rusted everything, even the nails. I turned off the water and disconnected the lines to the sink, tore it out, and then went home. Back at it at Oh-God-Early this morning, and I come in and find a great big wet spot on the carpet. Well, it turns out that the shut-off valve ahead of the water meter under there doesn’t. It only mostly shuts off. And the water meter was only loosely screwed in place. Hand tight on the nuts on both sides. O. M. G. So the slightest little wiggle and it started peeing like a drunken monkey. Oh, such fun, swapping cup after cup under the drips, racing back and forth to the bathroom to dump the water. Got out two wrenches and tightened the meter. No more leak. Later on I put 3 coats of PVC cement over the nuts and threads, just to make sure. Good thing that there was a huge pile of cheap towels handy.

So I had lots of fun, lying down on damp carpet, working in a tight little crooked alcove. Yee friggin ha! But I screwed and glued all the support brackets, got everything strong, square, and level, put in the new sink and faucet and the countertop I custom built for them, new water lines, new sink drain. And then found that the old P-trap (eww, gross!!) and the drain line didn’t line up. Of course! So, two more trips to the plumbing supply store down the street, and I put in a PVC zig-zag ( 2 45s, butt connector, 2 3” stubs of pipe) to make things fit the new P-trap. Mmmm, I just love that purple PVC primer and glue. Stuff smells like instant death that’s just waiting to ignite. But it works like magic. Screwed everything together, tape doped all the thread connections, and went through 2 entire tubes of adhesive caulk to install and seal the top and it’s 3 piece backsplash. And it came out perfect.

Putting the matching ADA faucet in the bathroom sink was a relative breeze. The old one was so rotten underneath it almost fell off the sink. 15 minutes, and that’s with new water lines from the valves.  Done.

It’s going to cost him nearly $800 in parts and labor. But that’s cheap. Home Depot wants $300 minimum to make a countertop of any size, and I got him parts for a full third below regular retail. http://www.everyfaucet.com - really good prices. Add in all the funky plumbing that was needed, and I think he saved about $500 hiring me instead of a pro.

But it’s been a long long day, and I’m beat. And utterly filthy. The crap that builds up inside of drains has it’s own special kind of transferable filth and stank. Nasty.

I think I hear a cold beer calling my name.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/21/2010 at 07:40 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - March 18, 2010

bizzy day

I’ll be on the road for most of the day. Have to run downstate to get some parts, then up to NY to get some work done on them. Then back down to NJ to shop for the other stuff.

Will post later if possible.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/18/2010 at 11:11 AM   
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calendar   Saturday - March 06, 2010

job dissatisfaction

I think maybe I need a new business model. I do this handyman stuff. Pretty much whatever you need, from fixing lamps to drywall to painting to installing shelves. If you need it done I can do it. I go out of my way to make it easy and reasonable for folks, and I wind up feeling taken advantage of a lot of the time.

Lots of little old ladies need a little help with this or that once in a while. I live in a condo park with over 300 units, so there are lots of them around. I can walk to any of the buildings here in just a couple minutes. So I’m open for short work if I’m available. We’ll work out a price, I’ll do good work, and you’ll pay me. If I have to go buy parts or paint or whatever for you, then you’ll pay me what they cost plus the tax, and if it’s a whole lot of shopping then you’ll pay me for my time. This approach seems to work fine.

But if I have to drive out to your place, and sometimes that drive is nearly an hour, then I want at least half a day’s work. So have a list of jobs for me to do, or a big one, because it isn’t worth it for me to put in a big drive to do a 45 minute task.

I’ll come and talk to you, see what you want done, and tell you about how long I expect that job to take. You pay me by the half day, but here’s the kicker: if I say that I can do a job in 4 hours (a half day) and it takes me 6, then I only charge you for 4. If you have a big list of work and I say I can do it in a day (8 hours) but it takes me 10, then I eat the extra time. Conversely, if a task goes faster than anticipated, then I make out ... but I’ll do an extra task for no extra cost if you have one, so that you get your full half day’s or full day’s labor from me.

And I work to your satisfaction. I don’t take shortcuts and I don’t do quick and dirty work. Yes, sometimes I go slower than other folks who just want to be finished and gone. I want you to be happy with the result. I’ll even work around your schedule to some extent, but it’s in my best interest to come over early, get to work, and stay late if necessary.

I did another half day for that woman I did the drawer pulls for last week. Installed 4 pieces of baseboard molding for her, because the old molding was such a Putty Disaster it looked like there’d been a food fight down by the floorboards. So that required me to go and buy 2 lengths of molding, matching her style and size from memory, pulling off the old molding without tearing up her walls or her newly laid wood flooring, cutting the pieces to fit perfectly, cut and sometimes re-cut 8 miters by hand, nail them on, fill the small gaps and nail holes with putty, let it dry and then sand things smooth. I did another drywall repair for her, floated another coat of spackle on the big drywall repair from last week, and then took her front door down off it’s hinges to fit a threshold sweep to the underside and then a pretty brass draft catcher to the lower inside edge. Oil the hinge pins, but the door back on, and then adjust things as needed. And all that took me 3 1/2 hours.

She in not happy with the big drywall repair. Oh, it’s smooth, and vertical, and the edges are feathered into invisibility, so it will paint up fine. No, she’s unhappy because when the flooring guys put in her wood flooring, they left the end of the stairs about 3/8” shy of where the wallboard would have been, had there been any wallboard. See, when the builders built her place, one of them put the stairs in and carpeted them before the walls went up. So the guys who put the walls in cut around the carpet! And decades later, when the carpet came out for the wood flooring to go in, surprise! there was a stair shaped hole in the wall. Which is what I fixed. But now she wants the wall to come to the edge of the steps, so now I’ve got to lay on more spackle to fill in the gap. Personally, I think that’s the wrong approach. I think her gripe is with the flooring crew. Whatever. I said I’d stop buy Wednesday evening and try and fill it in with another layer. I have to get there precisely on time because she can only fit me in a 20 minute work window and then she has to go.

Now she’s trying to stiff me with the money. Shouldn’t I be getting less? After all, the amount we agreed to last week was “only an estimate”. (as if anyone else in the history of the planet has ever come in under estimate!) And if you add up the hours from all the days, it comes out to less than 8. By about 20 minutes. Why do people have to do this? I’m already giving them one helluva deal. Try getting in a registered, licensed “professional” for $200 a day. Try. At your convenience too. Keep trying! And try getting all that and TLC quality work from him or his crew. Let me know how that works out for you, m’kay?

I got paid for half a day last week, and the job took exactly as long as I told her it would. Installing 8 double blind pulls on 4 drawers takes a fair amount of measuring, taping, etc. And each pull needed 4 screws because of their strange shape. This is carpentry, and doing it right takes time. Last week she was thrilled with the result. This week she’s complaining that it took so much longer than she thought it would (although it took almost exactly as long as I said it would). Last week I had to start late to begin with because she didn’t want to get up early on a Saturday, then she forgot she had to take her car in to the shop for a brake job so that delayed things another 90 minutes. And then halfway through the afternoon she said she had things to do so I had to go. Surprise! Great. So what was 1 day’s work wound up eating 2 days, and took away my ability to schedule another custom for either day (had I had one). Thanks. Today she was annoyed that the molding was taking me longer than she thought it should. I told her cutting miters by hand was precision work and took time. I used about a teaspoon of putty for all those miters; the guy who had put the old molding in cut 4 of the miters backwards and just filled the gaps with handfuls of the stuff. Which looked like a stale shit sandwich of course, because he never bothered to sand anything down. Again, whatever. So instead of paying me the other half of the money today, she paid me $10 less than half of the half, and I’ll get the other half of the half Wednesday night. I guess she has trust issues.

I think I’m being too nice a guy, and too flexible. While everyone else everywhere loves the work I do for them, big jobs or small, these older single women who all work at the same law office - this is the 5th one of them I’ve done stuff for - all try to screw me over once the work is complete. Maybe I just shouldn’t take their references anymore. They can do their own repairs.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/06/2010 at 07:25 PM   
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calendar   Sunday - February 28, 2010

a hole boring post

You could read that as “a whole boring post” if you aren’t into a bit of basic tool porn.

I did a bit of handyman work for a woman this afternoon. Along with some drywall repairs and fitting a new door sweep, she wanted 8 hand carved walnut pulls attached to the oak drawers on some antique dresser she has.

I used the proper long shank, square drive, washer headed screws, and after a whole lot of measuring and calculation and layout with painter’s tape, I put them in, using a #8 tapered drill bit to make the pilot holes.

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I’ve never used tapered bits before, and now I’m kicking myself in the somewhere for that lapse. These things are awesome. The drawer fronts were 7/8” clear oak. The bits went through them like they were butter. Smoothest thing I’ve ever seen. No tear out. No walking centers. The bits come to a nearly needle sharp point. Just set it on the wood and the weight of the drill is enough to make a centering mark. Zip. Done. Easiest thing ever. And they cut a tapered pilot hole, so you get more bite on the front threads of your screws than you would with a standard blunt tipped drill bit. And that matters when your screws are only going 1/4” into the next piece of wood, as was the case for me today with those pulls. They were an odd design, which required me to use 4 screws each so that they wouldn’t lift up when pulled. Got the job done, and it came out perfectly. Measure thrice, get the customer’s approval, drill once. I didn’t even need to float the screws in oversize holes. Nice work Drew. Here’s some money. I didn’t use the countersink part, but that looks like it works pretty well too.

Tapered bits probably suck for punching holes in sheet metal. Who cares? But they make super holes in wood. Fast, clean, and smooth. You can’t ask more than that, unless the job you’re doing calls for a Forstner bit. Which is a horse of an entirely different color.

Next tool porn purchase will be a handful of quality square drive bits. I’ve got a “universal” one with a stepped taper on it that tries to be both a #1 and #2 drive. It works, but it isn’t elegant. And it’s all glanked up from being used as a “rescue” driver when the heads tear out on garbage phillips head screws.

Oh, and it was a nice change using quality American screws for a change too. The washer head long shanks are made just for attaching knobs to drawers. With their self-boring points they probably don’t even need a pilot hole when you screw them into pine. Well made stuff. And they took a nice load of torque without ripping, stripping, or snapping. Which is more than I can say for the Chinese crap screws sold at the home centers. Go American, it’s worth it.

She’s going to have me back to do some electrical work, and probably to lay a tile floor in her kitchen. Good work leads to more work, and another good reference.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/28/2010 at 02:18 AM   
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calendar   Tuesday - February 16, 2010

The Not So Great White Hunter

Must Mash Mus Musculus



UPDATE:

So I go and get some traps, and they’re really cheap. 4 for $1.96, so I bought a dozen. Take the traps and the peanut butter down there and set up shop. I had all the traps out, baited, and set, and lined up all nice. And then the entire staff there turned into diaper wetting liberal crybabies. “No, you can’t do that!” “Oh, that’s so cruel! I’m gonna call PETA!” “I’m not touching that!” “Eeew, there’s gonna be splat all over!”

I can’t believe it. Grown men. They ran and told Doctor on me. What a bunch of titty babies. Ok, call me sexist, but I can accept if the women there want no part of it. And I can also slightly accept that they wanted some kind of invisible solution. Like those $40 traps that keep the dead mouse inside, so you don’t seem them. Wish they’d told me that. But men being too squeamish for this? When all you have to do is get out the broom and the dustpan and sweep them into the trash can? Horry clap. Such a bunch of dandies.

So it turns out that no one there is going to check the traps or --eeeewww-- pick one up and dispose of a dead mouse. Not even with exam gloves on. So I have to go down there each morning. Hey, extra money for me.

I think I’ll hunt up one of those DIY Wanted Dead or Alive posters, and a picture of old Mickey. Too bad I don’t have a rubber stamp, so I could keep a dead mouse tally. If I get 5 that makes me an ace, right? LOL


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I get a phone call from the receptionist at the doctor’s office I work for.

“We have mice!! Eww Ick!! Come get rid of them!”

Mice? Are you sure it isn’t just one?

“No, we caught one in a bag last week and let him go, and now we’re seeing droppings all over the place. They were all around the coffee pot this morning. Do something!!”

Well, do you want me to use a bag as well, or would a less humane method be acceptable?

“I don’t care. Just get them out of here. We can’t have mice running around and pooping on everything the patients might be coming into contact with.”

Oh boy! I’ve got visions of caffeine crazed mice zooming around the office at 100mph. This is gonna be fun. Mouser. It’s just one more hat for me to wear.

Mus Musculus, the “little thief”, the common house mouse. If you have a crack in your foundation big enough to stick your finger in, you probably have some living in your home. And where there is one mouse, there are two. And where there are two, there are soon 50, since the little horrors can start breeding at 29 days old. Breed like rats? Hell no. Mice out breed rats 3 to 1.

I like mice. I think they’re cute. Field mice are lovely little fellows, brown on top and white underneath. I had 2 mice as pets when I was a small boy. Crossbred lab mice. We used to make mazes for them to run in, and timed them and kept the results in a log book. Hey, I had scientists as parents, what did you expect me to do? One of them lived almost 2 years, which is impressive as most mice in the wild average about 7 months.

But the wild ones are pests when they get into your home. Or your office. The mice themselves don’t do very much damage unless you’ve got an army of them inside the walls, but they poop constantly. Like 70-100 times a day, little black grains of “rice” everywhere. And if they have fleas, well, those could carry plague, right? So the mice have to go. It’s time for Mickey to die.

So I look online to see if there’s anything new in mousetraps. I don’t like the sticky kind. I think they are cruel. Catch ‘em and kill ‘em. Make it quick and sure. Good old Victor is still in business, the original mousetrap, still made from a couple bits of bailing wire stapled to a little piece of scrapwood lathe. But now they have an “easy set” version. Why? What for? The old metal tongue trap was perfectly simple to set. I could do it when I was 5. Oh, is it too sensitive? Duh, it’s a trap, they’re suppose to act that way! But you can still find them around, along with the new easy set model. And now there are aesthetic models too, where you don’t have to see the mouse. Silent models where you won’t hear him getting whacked. Electronic traps, for only $100. Holds 10 mice at once! Yeah, just what I want. 9 dead mice mouldering in a trap while I wait for the 10th one to overcome the stench and go for that bit of cheese. Nope, if I can’t take my .22 and a flashlight, I’ll set plain old Victor traps. 75¢ each when you buy a boxful.

And now there is a new contender. TomKat brand traps. I dunno. So ... this is the 21st century, I’m sure there are online reviews. There are, and every one says that the Victor is still the best thing going.

So tomorrow I’ll go by a dozen traps and head down there with a jar of peanut butter. Cheese is so 1890. Soap works too. Mice used to eat the Castile soap in the basement when I was a kid. Little pieces of apple or banana work as bait, but they don’t last. Nothing beats good old peanut butter. I prefer chunky, but I don’t think the mice really care. So I’ll set 10 around the lab, another one in the bathroom by the floor drain, and one or two up in the ceiling. I’ll check the doodies to make sure they’re small. If they are big, like 1/2” long and a bit thicker, that means rats. And rats are a whole different level of pest. For which I’ll charge a lot more money.

I’ll draw the lab guys a map, and tell them to check the trapline every day, or when they hear a snap. It’s a quick few bucks for me, but I think of it more as fun.

I’ll get them one of those big plastic boxes with the snap lid to keep all their snacks and stuff in too. And I’ll even check to make sure the mice aren’t actually living inside their cereal boxes. Which mice love to do. They might be inquisitive, but making a nest in the middle of their food supply is their idea of heaven.


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your days are numbered little squeaker




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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/16/2010 at 02:41 AM   
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calendar   Thursday - February 11, 2010

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE MAD TO WORK HERE ….  SHORT BUT TELLING COMMENT ON OUR WORLD

This is just a very short item at the bottom of his article.  You might call it an aside and a telling one at that.

batbatbatbatbatbat

Snapshot reveals the increasingly tangled web

Martin Waller: City Diary

I tiptoe uneasily into this one, well aware that it will generate plenty of hate mail.

The US Department of Justice is advertising for as many as ten “experienced attorneys” for its Civil Rights Division, which enforces laws preventing discrimination. The Civil Rights Division encourages “qualified applicants with targeted disabilities” to apply.

Targeted disabilities include deafness, blindness, missing limbs, etc, and “mental retardation, mental illness . . .” Yes, I know, in a civilised society everyone should have a chance. But actively seeking a lawyer who suffers from mental retardation? It gives a whole new meaning to the cliche “you don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps”. Hate mail to the usual address, please.

SOURCE


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 02/11/2010 at 02:57 PM   
Filed Under: • CULTURE IN DECLINEStoopid-PeopleUSA work and the workplace •  
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calendar   Monday - February 01, 2010

work work work

Home again from my Sunday maintenance job. Had to put in a new toilet seat today. That really isn’t a hard job, especially if you clean the thing first. And while no one has yet invented a strong enough bolt to secure the seats that doesn’t corrode, once you get the wrench on they usually come right off. A touch of Kroil or some WD-40 loosens up the nuts most of the time. If it was up to me, I’d design some sort of compressible nylon collar that fits in the holes in the bowl and keeps the bolts centered. Those holes are all made to a common size and spacing, so it should do the job. Then I’d put in a grade 8 stainless steel bolt with a nylock nut. Brass corrodes, plain steel rusts, nylon bolts snap and the threads pull off. And bad bolts give you wobbly seats. Wobbly seats are annoying, which always leads somebody to tighten the heck out of them, which bends the bolts or over stretches them so that they later snap. Let’s face it, most toilet seats aren’t made to actual commercial spec. They’re semi-disposable, which fits the price bracket of $15-$30. That’s a shame. I’d rather pay $50 and have one that lasts several decades.

But I sure would like to find a good brand that holds up. I’ve put in American Standards with both brass and chrome fittings. 3 years, tops, and they’re dead. I put in a top of the line Bemis, one of those Slo-Close models that take the lid down slowly. $45, and within 6 months the chrome was pitted all over. After a year the Slo-Close feature stopped working. But the worst part is the finish. This Bemis was a painted wood seat, and the paint used is not at all durable. I’m not expecting it to be impervious to toilet cleaner - which is usually a pretty strong acid - Ok, I am actually expecting that, because, come on, what do you think toilets get cleaned with anyway? No, the finish on this one didn’t even stand up to Windex. Within a year it developed blue stains all over the underside of the lid. Not what I’d call quality.

So today I went to Lowe’s and found an all plastic Kohler. $20. Solid plastic seats hold up to the cleaners much better than painted wood. This one has steel bolts with plastic nuts, so we’ll see how it lasts. I’m betting on a year. The downside to most all plastic seats is that the lid is usually too light to work as an actual seat. Sure, sure, they’re not designed that way you say, but they really ought to be. Let’s face it, sooner or later you’re going to find yourself using the toilet as a seat. Unless you’re rather well off, and have a bathroom big enough for an actual chair or two. Sure, I keep mine in there too, next to the table by fire place, right alongside the tame cheetah and the indoor waterfall. Yeah, right.

The one brand of seats that I have found that holds up is made by Church. They live up to their slogan “the best seat in the house”. All plastic, heavy weight, big solid hinge pin. Brass bolts I think, but pretty robust ones. It’s about as commercial weight as you the homeowner is going to find. That’s the 380TC for the closed front residential model with a lid, $50. Slo-Close, $55 in colors. The commercial, lidless open front model is the 9500, $40. You will not find either of these at your local Big Box home repair store. Home Depot carries both models, in colors, online only, for a huge mark-up. Get yours at PaulSupply for almost half HD’s price.

But when it’s Sunday afternoon, and you have to put on a new seat RIGHT NOW, you take what you can find. At the closest place that’s open. And hope for the best.



PS - to my not-really surprise, it turns out that most of the name brands of toilets and toilet seats are all actually the same company. Bemis owns Church, although they used to be owned by American Standard. Church appears to own Eljer and one or two other specialty brands.


Horry Clap, I saw a $942 Kohler toilet for sale at Lowe’s. Recession? What recession? And Kohler really isn’t the real top of the line in porcelain water chairs. There are high end brands that sell for 5 times that, and that’s not even including the electronics. Yes, electronic toilets. I am not kidding.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/01/2010 at 12:10 AM   
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calendar   Tuesday - January 19, 2010

The Continuiing Adventures of Windo Gai

Have Gun, will Travel Ladder, will do stupid stuff for money



So I get a call from my doctor customer. The guy I do weekend cleaning and maintenance for. “Can you replace some light bulbs for us? Bring a ladder” Sure, Ok. So I head down there and find out that it’s a street light in their parking lot that needs some attention. I’ve seen the private property street lamps before. Anodized aluminum box up on a square pole, usually about 16 feet tall. Fine. No worries. So I get out my 27 foot extension ladder, and set it up, and up it goes. And keeps going. And going. This is not a 16’ lamp pole. It’s a 30 foot pole. Yikes. So I set the base in close, a little too close for safety, and up the ladder goes me, the monkey. That’s when I found out that to my surprise, a hollow core 4x4 rusted steel square pole is actually quite whippy! So I’m 20+ feet off the ground, and the pole is going harmonic as a Honer. Eff uck dis! So it’s back down the ladder and get out my cinch straps. I lashed the ladder to the pole at about 8 feet and then again at about 20 feet. Cranked it down tight, and that took a whole lot of boingy-boingy out of things. Up the ladder again, and now it’s time to bend out into space to reach the underside of the light fixture. Turns out these boxes have a trapdoor plate underneath that holds the lens. To my delight they’re put together with a wire hinge on one end, and the trapdoor is held in place with 4 Dzus screws. Give each one a quarter turn and they unlock, and the trapdoor opens. The glass of course is utterly filthy, but now I can get at ... almost get at ... the bulb. And it’s a standard one. Amazing. Takes a 400 watt high pressure sodium. Which is pretty much the John Holmes of light bulbs, a glass cucumber about a foot long (including the base) and about 2 1/2” inches across. Comes out just fine. Now, where do I go to buy a new one?

I tried the local lighting store. They had every kind of chandelier and carriage lamp you could imagine, and I saw some awesome low voltage under cabinet lights that were only 3/8” thick. But no HPS bulbs. And no T7 exit sign bulbs, which was another thing that needed doing. So it was off to Home Depot down the street. Home Depot has everything, if you know where to look. The clerks didn’t know. I got there at the dead time of day, around 4:15pm, so I had 2 clerks working for me. She was trying to find me 4 of the exit sign bulbs ( which are like aquarium bulbs but use an even smaller base, and they only pull 20 watts ), while he was digging through the dust covered industrial light bulb section. She managed to get me 3 bulbs, but their cards were already opened, so she stapled them closed and only charged me for 2. He brought me a mercury vapor bulb. No, that’s not it. I need a high pressure sodium bulb. He brought me a 400 watt metal halide bulb. Mmmm, metal halides. I loves me them things, but it wasn’t what I needed. Finally he just gave up and walked away. I found the bulb I needed, hiding in a corner, unpacked in it’s case of 3. I had him open it and I bought one. $22. For one light bulb. And I’ll cut the guy some slack; the package label was in French and Spanish. So I got that stuff, and 4 par-38 outdoor floods that they also needed.

Back to the doctor’s office, which is only half a mile up the road. Oh good, nobody has stolen my ladder. Back up the ladder, while the wind is picking up and it’s just about ready to rain. And the cars go zooming by on the highway. Oh, did I forget to mention that I’m pretty much leaning out over traffic doing this, because his office is only a couple feet from the edge of the busiest local highway in the county? Sorry. So I get my screwdriver, get the bulb, and carefully time my steps back up the ladder. Because you want to move in time with the oscillations. I feel I’m starting to understand how those old time sailors felt. So I get up to the top, hang onto the pole with one hand, lean back and reach out with the bulb in my other hand, and ... there’s this Chunk! Brrrzzzzz! noise. I missed my window of opportunity by about a minute, and now the ballast has turned on. Ok, maybe it is safe to hold onto a metal pole (possible ground) while screwing in a glass lightbulb (insulation, right) which is almost surrounded by a minimal clearance metal reflector. But I’m not taking chances. A 400w high pressure sodium bulb has a crystal core in about the size and shape of a pencil. That’s the part that ignites. How many farads and how many hundred/thousand volts does that take? I have no idea, and I don’t want to provide any electrons an easier path. So I go back down the ladder once again, and have the guy inside figure out what breaker it is and turn it off. Klank! All the lights in the parking lot go off. Great! Back up the ladder, and then Allen sticks his nose out the office door “I’m not sure I turned off the right one. Maybe they’re all resetting. Let me throw another one.” “Allen, no, it’s off, I can tell!” “No, I’ll figure it out!” So back up the ladder again, right up to the top, start reaching out to the turned off lamp unit ... and the office sign, a billboard sized light up affair right next to this street light, goes out. And then Chunk! Brrrrzzzz! and the ballast is back on. AAAAAALLLLLEEEENN!! Geex. Finally got that straightened out, went back up the pole for the 4th or 5th time, screwed in the new bulb, then overcame the challenge of locating the rusty Dzus fasteners in the dusk, and got them all back in. And I even managed to clean the glass, although all the years worth of crap rained right down on me. But after I flipped the proper breaker back on, my lamp lit right up, like a big orange star. Cool.

Spent another 45 minutes replacing the par-38 floodlamp bulbs outside, then trying to put new bulbs in the Exit signs. Those signs were junk to begin with, and these ones are 25 years old. The plastic is falling apart in my hands. So I got 3 out of 4 dead bulbs replaced, and held the red plastic together with some scotch tape. Good enough to keep the fire marshal happy.

Going up that damn bouncy rusty pole at dusk, messing with a zillion volts just as it starts to rain, and hunting down weird-ass light bulbs. For all this, I’ll charge him $60. My bet is a service call from the “pros”, who would show up with their truck and a cherry picker rig, would have set him back $300. Minimum. Plus parts at a huge markup.

So that was my adrenaline rush for the day. It’s almost funny now that I’ve had a half a coffee mug of Grouse on the rocks. Swaying around a couple feet in the breeze wasn’t funny then though. Now to turn on the TV and see if we’ve got MA election results trickling in yet.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/19/2010 at 11:35 PM   
Filed Under: • work and the workplace •  
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calendar   Friday - January 15, 2010

Too much for me

That’s a heck of a big job for 6 guys. I’d call it lifetime employment. Especially since the ropes would wear out before they were finished even once. Splat. Hanging from a rope 2200 feet up, not even a boatswain’s chair, no shade and everything wet and slippery is not my idea of a good time.






And, of course, long before they were done they’d half to start all over again.

Looks to me like they’re using the deionized water method. It works great, but it uses a whole lot of water, and it’s mighty expensive. Given this building’s location, they’d want to heat the water up to around 130-140°F so as not to stress the sun heated glass. And that means a pretty large built in system. So I’m fairly amazed that the Burj Dubai didn’t build in an automatic cleaning system like other modern buildings use; they’ve already got the hard part installed.

I wonder what the glass life on that building is specified as? All that sand blowing around. Maybe they’ve put in some special coating or something? I have no idea.

Oh, and the naughty little music hall ditty was done by George Formby, recorded in 1936. I think I should learn the words, especially the more risque verses not sung in this recording. I didn’t even know there was a window cleaning song!


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/15/2010 at 05:17 PM   
Filed Under: • Humorwork and the workplace •  
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calendar   Sunday - January 03, 2010

ANOTHER WORD BANNED?  YUP.  “ MOTORIST “ TO BITE THE DUST.  HEY, I JUST PASS THIS STUFF ON.

batbatbatbat

I’d bet money that not one single person at this site is surprised in any way.  And that fact alone says how bad things have become.  Surely there should be some things we can look at and be surprised by.  But these days?  Now if this isn’t stupid and made up by folks with nothing to do, I don’t know what else is.
And they get paid!  These loooney tunes get a salary.  Or the quango that dreams it up.  Was a time ppl like this would be tossed out on,, wait. No. Was a time they’d have never thought of it and if they did they’d be laughed at. 

There might be a few things here that make sense, but overall? Don’t think so.

Highways Agency staff told not to use word ‘motorists’

Government officials have banned Highways Agency staff from using the word ‘motorist’, saying they should say ‘road user’ or ‘driver’ instead.
By Ben Leach
03 Jan 2010

The edict is included in a lengthy set of guidelines issued by the Agency, setting out what language its employees should and should not use. Other terms to be avoided include “winter maintenance”, “off-peak hours” and “the travelling public”.

The move has brought an angry response from motoring campaigners.

“We’ve had years of increases on fuel duty and policies that have worsened road travel for the majority of people because ministers are wedded to the idea that public transport is good, while most forms of private transport are bad.”

James May, the television presenter, called the guidance a “complete waste of time and money”.

“It’s pretty preposterous,” he said. “It’s not the Government’s job to tell their staff how to speak. They should tell them not to be racist or not to incite murder, but not the correct word for someone who happens to be in a car. For God’s sake, we’re all grown-ups.

“The word ‘motorists’ covers people driving cars very well. Admittedly it doesn’t cover people on bicycles but then we have the word ‘cyclists’ for that, and ‘pedestrians’ for people who are walking.

“They’re very useful words with very definite meanings that have been worked out over many centuries so I’m quite happy to stick with them. With the weather we’ve been having they should spend the money on some more salt.”

Asked to justify the ban on “motorists”, a spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said: “The dictionary definition of a motorist is a car driver. As an agency we target all road users, including those in vans, buses and on motorcycles, not just those that travel in cares. The word ‘driver’ is a more inclusive term.”

The Highways Agency lexicon, released by the Department for Transport in response to a Freedom of Information request, also suggests that staff required to write about roadworks should avoid the word “works” as a general term and instead “describe what is happening so the reader can visualise it”.

Under a section entitled “Words and phrases to avoid” the guidelines state: “Don’t slip into jargon by thinking that’s how it ‘ought to’ be said. We are trying to get away from agency speak. Think of our customers out there on the network.

“Above all, if a word or phrase doesn’t make sense, or if it seems wrong, then don’t ignore it. Question it.”

The five-page note to Highways Agency staff advises that the phrase “winter maintenance” should be replace with “agency winter services”, “off-peak hours” with “outside of peak hours” and “the travelling public” with “road users”.

“Speed up” should be dropped in favour of “accelerate” and “manned” in favour of “staffed”.

The rule book also advises staff to avoid using “access” (to be replaced by “travel to"), “carriageway” ("lanes"), “improving congestion” ("reducing congestion") and “improve safety” ("make the route safer").

It also includes sections entitled: “How do we sound human?”, “How do we sound helpful?” and “How do we sound active?”

Guidance in the first section includes: “Empathise with your reader. Acknowledge their feelings and show we have them too,” “Include references to our concern for the environment where appropriate,” and “Choose active verbs to make us sound involved. Passive words can make us seem more distant.”

Meanwhile, staff at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) have been told not to use the word “unfortunately” along with the phrases “I’m afraid ...”, “not possible” and “I can’t”.

Other words and phrases to be avoided include “no problem”, “yeah”, “bear with me”, “What’s your problem?” “I will pop you on hold”, “maybe”, “probably” and “basically”.
SOURCE


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 01/03/2010 at 05:49 PM   
Filed Under: • CULTURE IN DECLINEDaily LifeStoopid-PeopleUKwork and the workplace •  
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calendar   Sunday - December 13, 2009

On the threshold of madness

"Find yourself a Drew over there” cracks Rich. Yeah, right.

Let me tell you, it ain’t easy being me. I never get the easy jobs, just the crap.

Today it was “Can you fix the door? It won’t close properly when it’s cold.” Oy. It’s an anodized aluminum hollow section exterior office door, in a hollow section aluminum frame, with an aluminum threshold mounted on slab concrete. The door “hangs” from two “security pin” hinges, each one a single knuckle 1.25” diameter with a 5/8” screwed in pin, riding against a single knuckle that is integral to the door frame. The top pin screws in from the underside, and the bottom pin screws in from the top. Which means the entire weight of the door is carried by the lower pin, because the upper pin is there just for alignment. In theory a single stamped lock nut keeps the lower pin from backing out, although in reality both upper and lower pins have a little set screw in the sides for “security”. Which means you can take the door off from the outside in about 5 minutes with a screwdriver and a C clamp. Such security. It’s hardly worth installing a lock on the damn thing.

And that’s exactly how I adjusted it. Blast both hinges with WD-40, loosen the set screws, then lift up the entire door by tightening a 4” C clamp around the upper hinge. The damn door came up 1/4” with hardly an effort at all. Then it was just a matter of screwing down the bottom pin until it contacted the boss (a ground contact plate under the lower hinge pin). Which I hope is steel. Best fix would be to use a great honking thrust washer between the knuckles of the lower hinge. It’s a cheap design, and it’s a cheap door. But I got it fixed.

Then I had to adjust the sweep on the inside. That’s when I found out that it was mounted with plain steel screws. Ages ago. Totally corroded of course. Rusted in place and rusted almost through. Nothing more fun than being down on my hands and knees, face almost on the ground, making my own impact hammer out of a screwdriver and a 10” adjustable wrench.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s official duck hunting weather here today? Freezing rain falling from the sky with passion. I passed half a dozen accidents on the way down, cops out everywhere, ambulances creeping along. Black ice on everything, and I guess the highway department has the weekend off. Not a handful of sand or salt on any of the roads anywhere. And out in that mess is me, down on my knees on the cold wet concrete. Damn. But I got it done, and brought the sweep down enough to keep the stronger breezes out.

So of course the threshold is now all out of whack. And it’s been messed with before. The 3 main screws that hold it down are rusted to bits, and OF COURSE the screw slots are just chewed to shit. And some bright boy has tried to help things in the past by screwing 3 or 4 drywall screws into each end of the threshold, were OF COURSE the door rubs on them, so those screw heads are both chewed up and worn down. Nothing to get a bite on with any kind of tool.

“Lucky” for me that there’s a Home Depot just down the street. So I go there and buy a few #14 2 1/2” screws to replace the beat ones. What I want is Grade 8 or better. No such luck. So I buy the store brand instead. Bring them back, screw one down into the hole where the old #14 screw came out ... feel it start to bite ... one turn, two turns ... and it shears. Shit. Try the next hole. One turn, two turns, starting to grab, snap. That one sheared as well. Son. Of. A. Beach. #*(!ing dog &*^# camel ~+%^ shit steel from China. WTFF! DAMN YOU HOME DEPOT. DAMN YOU TO HELL.

This is one of my worst pet peeves. All the hardware stores only carry nuts bolts and screws imported from China these days. And China - as usual - turns out a garbage product. It’s not that a #14 screw is a dinky little thing. Hell no. You OUGHT to be able to anchor a car with one or two. They’re pretty hefty. You don’t use a #2 Phillips screwdriver with these, you need the special, hard to find, bloody gigantic #3 Phillips. A screwdriver that can double as a tire iron. The screw shaft is nearly 1/4” across. And they sheared off with hand pressure. Deep in the holes too, naturally. Because Chinese steel is even worse than French plastic. And the froggies make some sorry ass plastic. It’s nearly powder, since they save a few euros by not heating it up properly during manufacture.

You need screws? Go to McFeelys if you can’t find American made ones locally. Even screws from Taiwan are far better than the junk from China. Ooh, but they cost less! Sure, because they’re absolute crap. I thought I’d learned my lesson with a huge drywall project some years ago ... but you hold out hope, and pray you’ll get lucky, because the chicom screws are almost all that’s available. And halfway through a job you don’t have the luxury of mail ordering stuff.

So that was a couple hours of cold wet aggravating non-fun. Now it’s time to prop up the ADA sink I wrote about the other day. Let’s see, how to do that? Ah, I know, let’s tighten the mounting bracket. OK ... crawl under the sink (very glad I just washed the bathroom floor!) ... and there is no mounting bracket. No lag bolts holding it onto the wall either. WTH? This sink has some kind of hidden mount, and a couple of holes on the underside of the hollow porcelain with some sort of bolt on a strap dohicky thingamabob. Is that the mount? Some kind of lever operated turnbuckle? Beats me. So I tighten them up until I start hearing those scary crunchy pottery sounds. Is it tight? No. Does it still sag? Yes. And look, when you push down on the lip of the sink, the WALL bows outward!! Huh? this ain’t right. So I find a nice hefty steel shelf bracket, made in America, all white powder coated and gusseted for strength. I figure I can mount that to the sidewall and support the sink, right? Ought to work. Use the stud finder, locate stud in the right area, jack up the sink, mark the holes, then mount the bracket with 3 5/16” diameter lag bolts. That ought to hold a cranky pony, at least. So supporting a 60lb sink should be nothing. Funny thing though - the pilot holes drilled awfully easy. Through the drywall, then a bit of pressure, then POP! and the drill bit sank in all the way. Huh. So I do all the work, let the jack down, and watch the bracket torque off to the side under the weight of the sink. Son of a bitch, the damn wall is made with metal studs.

Metal studs suck ass. Sure, they’re just fine for holding the drywall in place. And they cost less, weigh less, and are faster to install than wood studs. But they’re made out of tinfoil. You can’t hang anything from them. And they don’t support screws and bolts for shit. No wonder the sink is sagging off the wall. There’s no wall in the wall. Darn sink is supposed to be held in place by a 2x8 brace between 2x4 studs.

Another cheap ass implementation. Office buildings are just shells. The walls are just for show. The ceiling is just a fiberglass panel that hides some wires. I am just so sick and tired of this. Everything is made like crap, installed like crap, and built like crap. Which makes repairing things nearly impossible.

As far as I can tell, to have this ADA sink held properly in place, I’ll have to tear out the wallboard and install actual studs, long ones that I can screw into the concrete slab on the bottom and clamp on to the rebar truss roofing network ten feet above. I can’t see any other way to have a strong enough wall. But what else can I do? It’s a customer bathroom, therefore the sink has to be ADA compliant. Which means no legs or pedestals under the sink. This sucks.

I am slowly. Going. Crazy.

UPDATE: As the text message junkies say, “FML”. I’m as tenacious as a terrier, so I couldn’t just walk away from that sink situation. No, Google is my bitch, and the entire world is on the internet, therefore my solution is out there. Somewhere. I tried and I tried, and entered all sorts of searches. Finally I tried something like “hidden mount ADA sink” and in the results saw the words “concealed arm carrier”. I knew they weren’t talking about guns, so I followed the link to Zurn, which showed me what these things are. Then I had to download and install a free copy of SolidWorks’ eViewer, so I could read the .dxf file. I’d never even heard of a .dxf file; turns out that’s an AutoCad rendering. So I put that in, read the file, and saw my nemesis, that two armed bastard. Now properly enlightened, another quick Google sent me to MiFab, where an even better picture showed me what was going on.

A “concealed arm carrier” is a sink support that is mounted inside the wall, and two iron bars stick out of the wall like arms. The hollow sink slides onto them, and a couple of screws adjust the tilt of the sink up and down. Son of a gun. Duh. No wonder that sink wasn’t lag screwed into the wall - it wasn’t supposed to be. And the screws I was turning just tightened the sink to the mounting bars. They didn’t do a darn thing to adjust the saggy angle. Sha-grin.  red face

So tomorrow morning I’ll go back down there with a knife, a caulk gun, and a screw driver. Loosen the locking screws, pare off the caulk seam I put in, and turn the adjusting screws. That should raise the lip up and get the back edge snugged up to the wall. Re-tighten, re-caulk. And it should be good to go. Duh, I’d better take my adjustable wrench too, to remove the utterly useless and unnecessary bracket that I put in today. And if this doesn’t work, at least I can explain why the wall needs to come out - to replace the carrier.

Parts drawings on the overleaf:

See More Below The Fold

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/13/2009 at 09:41 PM   
Filed Under: • work and the workplace •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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