Archive for the ‘The shit monsoon’ Category


June 9, 2012

It’s 95 degrees, I have a deadline, and there is a litter box in my office and fresh cat barf under my desk. When did I die and go to Hell?

The Doors (Bath Door Man)

June 19, 2009

Well, so much for that Friday morning ride. Regular readers will recall the Shit Monsoon and the clusterfuckery that ensued immediately thereafter — it continues this week with the delivery of a second wrongly sized bathroom door. As in No. 2. Hey, it’s a cheap joke, but that’s all I can afford.

These things are custom-built, and take about six weeks to arrive, so when the second botched door shows up all a guy can do is laugh. Rage is absolutely useless. Trust me, I’ve tried both, and I like laughter a lot more.

So instead of going for a pleasant road ride with my boys Big Bill McBeef and Dennis the Menace, I’m sitting on the back deck with a laptop, watching Mia Sopaipilla tear around the yard and waiting to hear whether the second door can be made to fit. I expect Jim Morrison will rejoin The Doors for a Back From the Dead Tour before that happens.

Nearly there now

March 25, 2009
Back in business: Herself's new-look office.

Back in business: Herself's new-look office.

Seven weeks after the shit monsoon, the basement is 99 percent finished. Drywall, carpet, vinyl and tile all have been installed and Herself’s office and bathroom resurrected. All we’re waiting on is a special-order door for the loo. Until it arrives, Herself will have to endure visitations from Turkish and Mia Sopaipilla while she is perched atop the throne, thumbing though Vogue.

Upstairs, the dishwasher, which blew up at about the same time as the basement, has been repaired. Everything removed from downstairs has been returned to its rightful place or disposed of, and now a guy can walk from room to room without twisting an ankle or barking a shin.

Seven weeks ago, this crapper was a shithouse.

Seven weeks ago, this crapper was a shithouse.

While the basement was undergoing its restoration, every square inch of upstairs storage in this place was filled to overflowing, and I went through it like Sherman did Georgia.

The oldest Macs and various accessories went to the recycler — the Quadra 650, the Power Computing PowerBase 200MT, the PowerBook 2300c with MiniDock, a Tandy laptop, a UMAX SCSI scanner and an HP inkjet printer. The office G4 450MHz “Sawtooth” Power Mac, two MacBooks, two iBooks, a G3 500MHz “Pismo” PowerBook and an Asus Eee PC survived the purge, so we’re not exactly back to chisels and tablets here.

Meanwhile, the Sawtooth has been enhanced with a 250GB FireWire drive, so I can finally back up its internal drives, one of which has been making some dire noises of late (it’s only 10 years old, f’chrissakes). That will have to wait for tomorrow, however. Today I’m in the barrel at, where the chamois-sniffers will soon be congregating, desperate for news about Lance Armstrong’s collarbone surgery.

I never got surgery for either of mine, probably because my health insurance sucked. And I could have used a little savvy knifework on the second break, which was nasty. Says my doc: “The good news is, as long as all the fragments show up on the same bit of X-ray film, the break will heal. Eventually.”

It must be spring . . .

March 20, 2009
The light at the end of the tunnel.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

. . . the basement has turned green. Six weeks after the shit monsoon, we finally have our basement back. Well, kinda, sorta. We’re still missing the door to the loo — a special-order item, and Pan only knows when that will arrive — and none of Herself’s gear has been moved back downstairs yet. But at least two people can pee simultaneously around here without one of them being outdoors or employing a sink.

That final week was a hectic mother. Herself was mostly out of town, I had work to do for and Bicycle Retailer, and all of a sudden the big push was on, with construction types trooping in and out at all hours with glues and solvents, pads and carpets, tile and vinyl. Plus I had a house guest due in, an old college roomie and fellow ink-stained wretch, and I didn’t want him to be sleeping on the coffee table and peeing out a living-room window, although we both have done this in the past. Never went over big with the neighbors.

The plumber finally paid a call the morning of the day my buddy was due to arrive. Seating the toilet was no problem, but the pedestal sink took a bit of doing; we had decided to go with tile in the crapper instead of the original vinyl, and the additional height of the floor means the sink now has a slight tilt toward the wall. I’ve spent many an enjoyable evening tilted toward one wall or another, and occasionally a floor or ceiling, so I don’t have a problem with an off-kilter sink.

Especially if I don’t have to pee in it.

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

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 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.


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 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, 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.