Friday, September 29, 2006

The Cleaner

Someone on a blog I visit regularly wondered aprint today: "Have you ever coughed so hard you've thrown up?"

I had to comment:
Gotta say... that would be a no on the hacking up a puke thing. Glad you're feeling better if not yet well.

The vomit I clean off my floors comes from the cat. And has she ever once volunteered to help clean it up? Actually, yes, she has but no one in my house has to lick their own vomit off the floor. There are no signs stating this anywhere so it's more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule but I discourage it nonetheless.

That leaves me the head vomit cleaner of the house.

The cat will quickly remind me that her stomach is empty, not putting the two and two together (she completely sucks at math) that it's the eating that leads to the puking. "Can't you wait until your tummy calms down, Annie?" "Meow!" She answers in her "feed me now!" tone of voice. But at only six pounds, she's the Karen Carpenter of cats* so I have to feed her whenever she expresses an interest.

I'm sure that anecdote was most helpful to you.

Aren't you glad I shared!

*"Nicole Richie of cats" if you're under 30.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Can you consider someone you know only from her blog a friend? I was going to say that a friend of mine was coming to visit this weekend but I don't know if we're friends. How does this stuff work over the Internet anyway? Thanks to our respective blogs, we've seen each other's pictures and read each other's personal thoughts. We've traded e-mails. I know more about her in some respects than I know about people that I, er, know.

Ya know?

She did not arrange this trip solely to see me. She had a business trip that would bring her as close to me as Orlando. The 80 or so miles from there? Yeah, that was for me. Any further and I would have warned her that it wasn't worth the trip. But 80 miles? I'm worth that.

But how does she know that? Meeting someone you know only from the Internet is a giant leap of faith. Even if you've seen pictures and read someone's most intimate thoughts, especially when the person has a terrific gift for expressing her feelings, it's not the same as sitting across from someone at a dinner table.

No one has bad breath on his blog.

No one stutters or stammers or has trouble finding the right word at the right moment. Despite more than 15 years working in television news, I am much wittier in print than in person. By amazing coincidence, my difficulty making conversation with a woman is proportional to how pretty she is. Funny how that works, huh?

Not that this was supposed to be a hook up. Pleasant as she is to look at, at least from her pictures and you know how that can turn out, I wanted to talk to her. Some of the stories she tells on her blog are so heartbreaking, you want to reach across the country (where she lives) and give her a big hug, kiss her on the forehead and tell her everything will be OK. Many of them are quirky and funny and even as they describe someone teetering on the edge of disaster. I really looked forward to meeting the person behind them.

I'll have to keep looking. She wrote today to say she was sick and had cancelled her trip. I wrote back that she was welcome as soon as she was well, perhaps taking my own leap but I somehow don't think it's too big a risk.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bright Light Fright

Confidence buoyed by the apparently successful installation of the kitchen lights Saturday*, I moved on to one of the bathrooms yesterday.

You might wonder why I would begin replacing light fixtures in a home only three months old. A couple of reasons. One, I was only freelancing at the time I signed the contract to buy it. Irregular work means irregular paychecks so I was inclined to limit my budget for builder installed upgrades. Two, the markup on things the builder installs was insane so I was not inclined to pay for upgrades regardless of my employment situation.

I'll have them put in the standard included stuff and I'll replace it later for half the cost of what I would have paid the builder to do it, I thought. Brilliant! What I failed to think was that I had never done any work like this before. I had no idea how a fluorescent light attached to the ceiling or how it was wired. It could have been held there by leprechauns for all I knew. Same thing with how a bathroom light stays on the wall, except for the vague idea that changing a light fixture was more complicated than changing a light bulb. And that because of the union contract there would be different leprechauns for each fixture.

The joy of home ownership, besides watching property taxes and insurance rates soar, is that the owner -- in this case, me -- can take stuff apart to see how they work as long as he turns the breaker off no matter how exciting the game on the TV connected to the same circuit is.

I also thought it a good idea to put the toilet seat and lid down. I could see myself slipping off the chair, one foot sliding into the toilet while the rest of me crashed to the floor. The resulting compound fracture was not a pretty picture.

Neither was what I found behind the bathroom light, which was one of those "Hollywood lights," the flat stainless steel panel with the four giant round clear bulbs coming out of it. Instead of the wiring box that I had found in the kitchen ceiling and expected to find here, there was but a hole in the drywall with the wires poking through. The base of the light had been attached on either side of the hole. On one side with a drywall anchor. On the other the installer had simply screwed straight into the drywall. I guess he thought the leprechauns would hold it in place.

The light I bought has what is called a retainer. The retainer attaches to the wiring box and then the light fixture screws into the retainer. Lacking the wiring box, I -- using drywall anchors for both of the screws -- attached the retainer directly to the drywall, then I attached the color coded wires and bolted the fixture to the retainer.

When I get home I'll have a better idea if I can also call this another apparently successful installation.**

*Apparent success judged by the fact the house had not burned down.
**Apparent success judged by the fact that the light has not fallen off the wall. And that the house has not burned down.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I Have a Guitar

And a keyboard.
And can record them with my computer.

The name of this song is Flyer. I'm not saying it's great; I'm saying that it's mine. Don't worry. I don't sing on this one.

Let There Be Light

Kitchen lighting, we're talking. There was light already. But it was that ugly fluorescent lighting, which doesn't count. I mean, if your cat has puked on the kitchen floor and you need illumination to know whether you've cleaned all of it, fine. But I didn't get new granite countertops only to let them suffer under that ghostly white glow that comes from a rectangular box affixed to the ceiling.

No wonder the cat was nauseated.

I had not intended to get to this item on my list of home improvement projects yet but I took the fluorescent light down to see what the ceiling above it looked like and realized I probably could not put it back up by myself. Fortunately, the ceiling had been painted before the light went up. There were a couple of drywall chunks missing where the fluorescent had been screwed into the ceiling but otherwise it looked fine.

I had seen what I wanted at Home Depot but checked Lowe's because recent experiences with both of them have led me to greatly prefer Lowe's. Lowes didn't have anything suitable so I went back to Home Depot and bought my light kit.

I had a time limit to install it because I had to turn the electricity to the kitchen off and that breaker, I found, turns off all downstairs outlets. It didn't matter. It took less than an hour.

There wasn't much in the way of directions to show me how to put the new light up but it was enough. The electrical connection was easy. There were three wires -- black, white and green -- coming both from the ceiling and from the light fixture. Match the colors and you're good to go. This looks much better than fluorescent, doesn't it?

If anyone who visits really misses the fluorescents, he or she can fear not. There's still one in the laundry room.

(Here for the story about Chris's Plumbing
Service in Riverview, FL? It's right here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bessed Drest

In a store tonight I noticed People magazine's "Best & Worst Dressed" issue with Eva Longoria, Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Aniston on the cover.

Have you noticed that the people on the best dressed list are all ones who probably look terrific undressed?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

We're Number One!

I got an e-mail yesterday from someone who said she "enjoyed reading your account of your experience with Chris's Plumbing." Chris's Plumbing Service is the company in Riverview, FL I made the mistake of hiring to do a job for me in July. I'm glad someone is getting enjoyment out of it. Every time I remember it, it riles me up all over again. Here's the story in case you're looking for some entertainment too.

The e-mailer said she had some insight into Chris's Plumbing Service and it did not paint a flattering picture. Part of me hoped I was wrong about this company and that I got good service at a fair price from a reputable plumber. None of the feedback I've gotten yet indicates that any of that is true.

The Better Business Bureau complaint I filed won't go anywhere and I don't expect to recover anything. But I'm beginning to view the $282 my experience with Chris's Plumbing Service as my contribution to a greater cause. As a girl from texas noted in a recent comment, if you Google "Chris's Plumbing Service", this blog is the number one result. That doesn't happen if you Google "John McQuiston"!

My visitor statistics show a lot of people finding this page through Google searches for "Chris's Plumbing Service". (Don't worry; I don't have access to or interest in any personal information about you. I'm curious only about how many people visit and roughly where they are.) A lot of them are from the Tampa Bay area and they're probably doing what I should have done more of: Research into the company before hiring it. I hope sharing my experience will give them an idea of this company's tactics so that they can make a better informed decision than I did.

If they should happen to decide to choose another plumber, I would applaud their wisdom and I would feel better about my apparent lack of it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

What Victory Means

My alma mater, the University of North Carolina, lost a college football game to Rugters 21-16 in Chapel Hill today.

The day was not a complete loss for the Tar Heels. At least they don't have to go back to New Jersey.