Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Guest Bathroom Rennovation, A Project in Five Acts (Act 2)

Act 2

The Law stands before a nondescript full bath.  For months, its serviceable but bland interior has tormented JLlo like Cthulhu rising from the Mountains of Madness.  Determined not to allow such horror of horrors to drag his beloved into the depths of insanity, The Law has gathered his tools and stands at the threshold of the Guest Bathroom.  He is a man on the brink.

The Law:  It is demolition day, Guest Bathroom.  I have come to tear down your perfectly functional facade and rip out your living guts!

Guest Bathroom:  (silence)

Law:  Yes, you heard me.  I am man!  I am the product of millions of years of evolution.  Time and heat and light have transformed what was once a mere speck of loose nucleotides into a living, breathing, thinking  (and most dangerous for you, Bathroom) TOOL WIELDING APEX PREDATOR!

Like this, but with a crowbar...
Bathroom:  (silence)

Law:  Then so be it, Bathroom.

 The Law heaves his crowbar and cracks his first tile.  The feeling of porcelain breaking beneath his his crowbar is invigorating.  His morale swells and he brings a sledgehammer and chisel to bear against ten more repugnant tiles.

Law:  Ha Ha, Bathroom, your tile breaks before my might.  How could I have ever been intimidated by you?  You are weak.  Watch as I crush you with my bare hands!
Take that, Tile!

Bathroom:  (silence).

The Law picks up the tempo.  He is a tornado of tools and dust and tile fragments.  After a while he begins to slow.  He has been working for hours, but has barely made a dent in the demolition.  It seems as if for every tile he smashes and removes, the Bathroom regenerates two more in its place.  All the while, the thick tile dust fills the room.  The Law continues to swing his hammer, but each stroke is slower and slower as the dust bogs down everything.

Pictured:  Two weeks worth of demolition.

Law:  Hack! Cough! Bathroom, your dust chokes me and blinds me!  I can no longer see whether my hammer blows strike true.  It this a tile or my thumb?  Swings hammer.  OUCH!  It is my thumb!  The Law sinks to his knees, barely visible in the dust cloud swirling around him.  Bathroom!  Bathroom!  You knew all along, didn't you?  You knew the traps and snares you hid just below the surface.  I curse you.  I curse your tile.  I curse your fixtures.  Most of all I curse you dated appearance, which first drew me into this maw of dust and despair

Bathroom:  (silence).

 Law:  (drawing on his last strength) No.  I will not be defeated by this mockery of good taste and modern styling.  I must fight on.  Although my spirit has been choked by the dust and gloom, the husk of my former self must rise and swing the hammer once more.  The Law shakily gets to one knee and then finally... barely... he stands!  The hammer swings again!  SMASH! SMASH! SMASH! One by one, the remaining tiles shatter and fall to the floor where The Law listlessly gathers their remnants and removes them to the dumpster.  He is no longer a man on a mission, he is merely a man going through the motions to survive. 

 With the last tile shard removed, and the final speck of tile dust vacuumed away, The Law emerges from the Bathroom and collapses on the hallway floor, broken but victorious.

JLlo:  (from the comfort of the livingroom)  Honey?  What's taking so long?  On HGTV the demolition segment only takes a few minutes and one commercial break.  Are you sure you're working as efficiently as possible?

Bathroom:  (silence)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Guest Bathroom Renovation, a Project in Five Acts (Act 1)

Act 1:

It is late 2010.  Our intrepid couple are relaxing on the couch in their small but comfortable home.  JLlo has done a masterful job of designing the interior of the house with her trademark modern/classy/welcoming style.  The Law has supplied the manual labor reached several tall things around the house.  What a team!

The couple are enjoying a homecooked meal, lovingly prepared, and are simply basking the mountains of free time afforded to them by their careers as a young attorney and medical resident.

JLlo (turning to her husband):  We need to start renovating the guest bathroom.

Law (continuing to eat):  Yeah, you're right.  I suppose we better start thinking about what we want to do, and then maybe we'll get started on the project someday.

JLlo:  I have already considered every possible option for the bathroom and selected the perfect combination of style and cost effectiveness.  We shall begin immediately.

Law:  Gulp! At least working on this will give us lots of time to spend together.

JLlo:  My job requires me to relocate three hours away to Asheville, NC for four months.

Law:  GULP!

And so The Law arises from the couch and stared into the Guest Bathroom... and saw a perfectly servicable, but dated bathroom.  Knowing that such an abomination could not be perimitted to stand, he gathers his tools.

Law (courageously to his wife):  By your love and for the protection of our family, I will demolish this affront to Truth and Beauty and rip it asunder with my own hands.

When you stare too long into the abyss, it stares back into you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Shop Also Rises, Part II.

Wow, this blog hasn't done anything in a long time.  I would like to say that Durham Salad Days has been so dormant because we have been living such full and exciting lives, and that there was simply no time for blogging ... so I will say that, even if it is not exactly 100% accurate.

Loyal readers (i.e. those who have been refreshing every five minutes for the last 405 days), will remember that I knocked together a few workbenches in the basement in the effort to create a moderately productive shop.  The benches have been working great, and have become the center of productivity in the basement.  Although to be fair, there is about as much productivity coming out of the basement as the average day care nap time.

Working on some small electronics project... at the perfect height for me!

Anyway, the previous post promised a big tool acquisition in part II, so hold on to your hats because here it is:

I managed to score a great Craftsman belt driven table saw on Craigslist for about $140 (about 1.3 years  It was a bit of a struggle to get it home, because I had to disassemble the saw and pack it into the back of my little GTI, but it just fit.  Needless to say, a table saw took the capabilities of my basement shop from somewhat above my needs, to way way waaaaaay beyond my abilities.  THAT IS THE BEST.

The table saw is going to make so many projects easier, including but not limited to, a daring bathroom remodel!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Boys will be...disgusting

As part of my Urology residency, I am spending 4 months in Asheville, NC working at the Asheville VA hospital.

Fortunately for me, the VA puts all visiting residents up in housing across the street from the hospital.  My apartment can be described as quite dilapidated serviceable.

While the accommodations are on the verge of being condemned leave something to be desired, I was quite happy to see that there was a washer and dryer in the unit.

Now, the last three successive occupants prior to me were all men.  And, I'm coming to realize, NOT laundry experts.

I washed my first load this weekend and then put it in the dryer, happily utilizing one of the dryer sheets from the box left behind by the resident who lived here before me.  Who doesn't love free dryer sheets?  It seemed like an auspicious start.

The machine rattled and hummed, in the standard fashion.  However, when the buzzer sounded, my clothes were a hot, humid, damp mess.

I put them in for more time.

Again, the buzzer sounded -- still wet.

At this point, I realized I hadn't checked the lint trap.  And based on what I found, neither had the last three people who used the dryer over the past year...

It's hard to tell from the photo, but this thing was a good 9" long and 3" high.

I was appalled.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bike vs Car

Our friend Mark has a cool blog called Bike v Car.  Mark got a new car and a new bike on the same day and he has challenged himself to put more miles on the bike than on the car over the coming year.  So far the demands of modern life have allowed the car to jump off the line to a comfortable lead, but the challenge year is still young and, no matter what, the blog is full of Mark's great shots of the English countryside that serve as the backdrop for many of his bike rides.

Obviously, every time I check out Bike v Car I am overcome with jealously that Durham Salad Days does not have its own Bike v Car challenge.  Don't worry, I'm not going to start doing anything crazy like actually riding a bike, but I will present you, my gentle readers, with two of my favorite videos of supreme vehicle control and general derring-do in the hopes of settling the question of superiority between bikes and cars.

First, Danny Macaskill has a pleasant bike ride through an old train station:

Second, Ken Block goes motoring outside Paris:

One video has the best stunts, and one has the best soundtrack.  I suppose it's a tie.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Men are from Mars

While Matt was busy constructing an amazing work bench, I was cruising the Internet and encountered the following quip in this random blog post:

We have married friends who told us a story about when they were in college and had gone out on their first date together. The next morning, each one went down to get breakfast in the dining hall of their respective dorms. She sat down with her cereal and thought about all of the details of last night’s date: Did she like him?  Did he like her? What might happen next?  What would her friends think of him?  When should the meet?  Where would the go next?
But what did he think about when he sat down to eat his bowl of cereal? In his words,  “I was just thinking about the cereal.

I just had to laugh.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Shop Also Rises, Part I: Workbenches

There is no denying that the inside of our home is extremely comely.  Our cute one story brick house has been done up to the eight and a halves (would be "the nines" if only I would finish our bathroom renovation...), but it's low slung brick facade hides a secret.

A menacing secret.
Below our small house hides a HUGE unfinished basement.  Frequent readers of this blog already know that our basement exists, its walls are an ugly green, and it is primarily used for the storage of a mountain of cardboard boxes.  From the very beginning, I knew that the basement had the potential to be more than just a room full of junk, and growing up helping my Dad with "Appalachian" wood projects taught me that a true man needs to have a shop of some kind.  I figured that I owed it to myself to create a shop down in the basement.

Pictured:  Manliness
When I started putting the "shop" together, it mainly consisted of my excellent Ridgid compound miter saw (a wedding gift from college roommates) sitting atop an old desk, so my first order of business was to knock together a couple of workbenches from 2X4s and 1/2 inch plywood.  I built a matching pair to a comfortable height for me with the table top of each just below my elbow. I also added locking casters to the bench on the right so that bench is free to roll across the concrete basement floor.

Mobility = Versatility
 Next, I added pegboard and pegs to the rear of the stationary workbench for storing frequently used hand tools.  I also organized most of my small parts and fasteners that were scattered throughout the basement and placed them in a red small parts bin and set it on the stationary workbench.  I drove nails into the stationary workbench to hang additional tools and accessories.  Finally, I placed the miter saw on the mobile workbench for cutting wherever the project demands!

 With the workbenches done and against the wall, I moved the old desk in behind to use as an auxiliary service and staging area.  Despite what the pictures show, I'm trying to prevent the old desk from becoming simply a place for stashing junk... we'll see how that goes.

There's a shop somewhere under all that mess.
That's it for Part I.  Stay tuned for an exciting sequel in which the shop obtains a new tool!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Facebook serves a purpose other than procrastinating...?

Take a look at this interesting article, about how Facebook helped a woman get the right diagnosis for her sick child.

Maybe all those online over-sharers are on to something?  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Feature -- This Will Never Get Old

Can I profess my undying love to Pandora?

#1.  Who isn't in love with the opportunity to handcraft his/her own personal radio stations?  Mine are obviously filled to the BRIM with Katy Perry and every wailing pop hit produced in the 1980s.

#2.  Pandora will clue you in on jams you would have otherwise missed.  Like, I had no idea that my own heart was beating to the power ballads of the sister-duo Heart (uh, All I Want to Do is Make Love to You?  Epic.)

#3.  You can play it ANYWHERE.  Home, work, on your phone....  Score!  I mean, the opportunity to display my adoration of both Rhianna and Journey in the doctors' workroom and then in the OR minutes later with just the click of a button is a modern miracle.  (As a sidenote, I have no pride.)

Pandora -- that will never get old!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Rapture

Everyone make it through the Rapture last Saturday intact?

***warning:  things are about to get really sappy.  stop reading now if you are weak of stomach***

Matt and I were discussing the upcoming end of days on Friday night (one day prior to the impending event) and he said the following, which immediately catapulted onto the list of 'top 10' most loving things said in our relationship:

"I don't really care if anything does happen, because I'm pretty sure that where ever I end up, you'll be there with me."

Then--ever the romantic--I said, "Yeah, but are you going to do the laundry?"  (**just kidding...sort of)