Archive for the ‘The shit monsoon’ Category

The basement tapes

February 28, 2009

Herself and I picked out vinyl, tile and carpet yesterday — now all we have to do is wait for the flooring dude to clear our choices with the property-restoration folks, who no doubt must consult the turd-herders. Then we’ll be in business, maybe, assuming that the contractor who handles the installation will not be buried in some other nightmare project.

Lots of other projects in greater cosmopolitan Bibleburg are playing red light-green light lately. A massive development project on North Nevada past Garden of the Gods has been dialed down to a Costco for the moment, while a similarly ambitious project on South Nevada has been placed on hold altogether.

One suburban-renewal project is continuing apace, however. Jimmy Dobson has stepped down as chairman of Focus on the Family. Dobson plans to spend his twilight years instructing his grandchildren in the dark arts of Republicanism, homophobia and hypocrisy while struggling to master a Biblical magic trick — stuffing a camel through the eye of a needle.

Of websites and worksites

February 26, 2009
The resurrection of the basement is under way.

The resurrection of the basement is under way.

I remember when there used to be something called “the off-season.” No longer. Websites don’t like downtime, and so there’s always something needs doing over at VeloNews.com.

My days in the barrel as online editor at large are Monday and Wednesday. Come important events, like the Amgen Tour of California or any of the grand tours, it’s all hands on deck for the duration of the cruise.

It’s not physically demanding work; there’s no heavy lifting to strain the back, though calluses on the brain are a common occupational injury. But it can be wearisome, especially amid distraction and when combined with other tasks.

The resurrection of the basement has begun with a vengeance, and work crews have been scuttling in and out of there like roaches, dismantling the futon and carting it away to storage, replacing drywall and sealing concrete. This both disturbs and fascinates the cats, who as a consequence have been spending far too much time confined to my office. Turkish loathes and despises all characters of the two-legged persuasion, while Mia just wants to gallop downstairs and leap into the middle of it all.

So yesterday I had a basement full of drywallers and an office full of cats while I pushed pixels around the website in consultation with various colleagues, banged out two columns and a cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News and tried to diagnose a couple fresh computer issues that popped up like virtual Whack-a-Moles (O, the joys of working on 10-year-old equipment). No healthy, restorative exercise was to be had, but there were a couple bottles of wine in the kitchen and so recreation of a sort was available.

Today it’s more drywallers, and perhaps carpet and vinyl selection. But that’s not until the afternoon. And so with all deadlines met and no pixel-pushing until Monday, I think I’ll get outdoors for a couple hours and run a little fresh air through my headgear.

Late update: Damn, leave the office for an hour and look what happens: E.W. Scripps Co. throws the Rocky Mountain News on the scrapheap. I know at least one journo’ there — Chas Chamberlin, a former VeloNews art director — and I sure hope he can land on his feet. It’s an evil job market out there for us ink-stained wretches. But it looks like The Denver Post is picking up a few lucky sorts.

Meanwhile, Google is sticking a toe in the local-news market with Patch, a new online venture that aims to provide local reportage in backwaters ignored by cash-strapped newspapers. Public service or another step on Google’s march to global domination? We report, you decide. Thanks and a tip of the green eyeshade to Indiedoc on Twitter.

Mardi blahs

February 24, 2009

I should be in New Orleans, drunk as a monkey, draped in cheap beads and screaming, “Show us your tits!” But nooooo, here I am in Bibleburg, gulping non-alcoholic java and grappling with various calamities on this last day before Lent.

The Devil is very much with us going into this season of prayer, penitence, fasting and almsgiving. The basement remains in disarray two weeks after its dousing in doo, awaiting the arrival of sheetrockers, painters and carpet/vinyl flooring layers. My 2-year-old MacBook gurgled and died in the middle of editing a tech report for VeloNews.com. The dishwasher croaked after a manufacturer-mandated replacement of its wiring harness. And adding insult to these various injuries and fatalities, our sole remaining toilet has developed a hiccup that causes it to run like Niagara if the handle isn’t delicately jiggled.

The dishwasher was the most recent casualty. The tech who replaced the wiring harness returned to examine it, found a blown wash impeller, and said dolefully, “I dunno … I can call ’em and ask if they’ll cover it, but I don’t think they’re gonna.” He didn’t have a dollar figure in his head, but said he’d get back to us in a day or so once he’d settled on the bass boat he wanted to buy.

O woe. A season of almsgiving indeed, to Apple and Maytag and Christ knows who else. Our own local version of the federal bailout. Line up, boys, hold out those golden bowls, plenty of nutritious greenback soup for everyone.

And then the dishwasher dude rang us up, bright and early this morning. I hadn’t had my coffee yet and so eyeballed the whiskey as caller ID tipped me as to who was on the line. Good news, says he. The parts are ordered, he’ll pop ’round in a few days and Maytag is paying the tab.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Late update: Even more good news. A tech at the Apple Store confirmed my diagnosis regarding the MacBook: hard drive, RIP. When I mentioned the ‘Book’s longtime, low-level processor buzz (rotten HDs and buzzing ‘Books have been discussed at length on many a Mac forum for three years), he suggested shipping it to the Apple depot, where they will fix anything and everything, from a bum HD to bad RAM to a defunct logic board, for a flat fee of $288. Beats spending a G on a new ‘Book.

Floored

February 17, 2009
Aw, crap.

Aw, crap.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I can give you both. Here’s a shot of the basement a week after a sewer crew fountained Herself’s crapper, ruining carpet, vinyl flooring, drywall and my sunny disposition. The outfit hired to handle the cleanup and restoration is on the job, and God willing (and the toilet don’t rise) we should have a functional garden-level basement once again sometime by, oh, I dunno, the 2010 Tour de France. Maybe.

This is a small house, just 1,300 square feet, and it gets a lot smaller when you don’t have full use of that basement, which housed Herself’s office, bathroom and walk-in closet, the washer-dryer combo’ and the cats’ litter box. We’re both working upstairs now — Herself on a Dell Latitude at the kitchen table, and me on a MacBook in the living room, because the dehumidifiers kept tripping breakers and crashing my office. We’re doing a load of laundry for the first time in a week. And we’re down to one toilet, which makes mornings interesting:

“I need to take a shower!”

“Well, I need to take a shit!”

And so on.

We kept the cats upstairs while things dried out downstairs, which was an exercise in sleep deprivation. After a couple too many early risings I took to waking up Turk’ and Mia whenever I caught them napping during the day, purely out of vengeance. “Big Man don’t sleep, don’t nobody sleep!” I’d growl. Everyone got cranky, even Herself, who is ordinarily the acme of sunniness. Finally we settled on locking the cats up in my office at night. What the hell, I thought, if I can’t use it as an office, it might as well serve as a feline penitentiary.

Throw in a couple extra shifts at VeloNews.com during the Amgen Tour of California, a wine rack full of bottles and a closet full of firearms and you have a recipe for headlines. Happily, so far we’ve avoided the mainstream media. But the wind is howling like a banshee now and my skull is throbbing like a Harley Fat Boy, so all bets are off.

Bonjour, mon sewer

February 12, 2009

Tales from the Shitworks, Part II: We’re on our third vinyl-floor-removal dude. He took a shot at the title with what looked like a spade, then gave up and left to fetch what he called “a ripper stripper,” some class of power chisel that scared the piss out of the cats but did the job on the laundry-room floor.

Now we have to get the futon out of there somehow so the crew can take up the rest of the carpet. I never liked the giant sonofabitch anyway, and I like it less now that I have to find a way of getting it up our narrow stairwell and out the back door. It was assembled downstairs when we bought it, and thus disassembly is indicated. With an ax.

Late update: The Intertubes are all atwitter with word that Lance Armstrong will not be attending Don Catlin’s Anti-Doping Science Institute. Frankly, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I understand Lance has a note from his mom.

The shit monsoon

February 10, 2009

Old neighborhoods are cool until they aren’t. Like, when sewer work in the alley leads to sewage in your basement.

I had deadlines out the wazoo yesterday — a column and cartoon for Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, online editing for VeloNews.com, and a cartoon for VeloNews the magazine — so I was pretty much nose to grindstone all morning while the sewer guys labored outside my office window. When finally I leaned back to look around, it struck me that I hadn’t seen Miss Mia Sopaipilla lately; she wasn’t in her donut atop the ‘fridge, so I wandered downstairs to see what she was up to.

R2D2's granddaddy supervises lesser units as they work to absorb the shit-mist.

R2D2's granddaddy supervises lesser units as they work to absorb the shit-mist in what used to be Herself's basement office. Her walk-in closet and the laundry room are down here, too.

What she was up to was viewing with alarm from the window shelf in Herself’s bathroom, which was covered wall to wall in sewage that had fountained up out of the toilet, soaked the adjoining carpet and spilled into the laundry room. Ay, Chihuahua.

So I pull the dividers out of a couple wine boxes and lay down a cardboard boardwalk into the crapper so I can rescue the cat. Bad idea. Think of trying to rescue the radiator fan from a running auto engine. My Bicycle Colorado T-shirt looks like something out of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Let’s try this again later, I thought, with some oven mitts, a cat carrier and maybe a pistol. First let’s chat with one of these Ed Nortons outside.

Oopsadaisy, says Norton, who calls his supervisor, who calls his supervisor, who calls a “mitigation crew” that arrives in what looks like a SWAT van and starts swamping out the basement with pumps and pressure washers and a laundry list of various tasty chemicals. Now it looks like we’ve had the Irish in — carpet pulled up in vast swaths, ditto vinyl flooring, drywall sawed away, furniture piled up in a dry corner. Three massive dehumidifiers have been running since about 9 last night, sounding like a Nazi U-boat on the run from Limey destroyers and periodically tripping a breaker that crashes my entire office. Nothin’ but a party.

The toilet has to come up, a couple walls have to come down, and then will follow the rebuilding, recarpeting and repainting, all while the two of us try to get our own paying work done (yes, that basement was Herself’s office before it turned into a sewage lagoon). Half our house rendered uninhabitable in one fell swoop.

But the cats sure like it. Ordinarily confined to the basement come bedtime, they got to spend the entire night upstairs, either leaping in and out of bed like furry jacks-in-the-box or draping themselves across my legs for a refreshing snooze. Sure glad someone could sleep.