Category Archives: Ponderings

A really crappy job.

I replaced my first toilet yesterday. Well, not my “first” toilet, but I changed out a toilet for the first time.

It was a crappy experience. Pun intended. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?)

The upstairs toilet gave up the ghost. Not so much that it was fully broken, it was just no longer fully operational. Which is a bad thing when that’s currently your only working toilet in the house.

The old, broken, busted-ass toilet.

The old, broken, busted-ass toilet.

So it had to go.

The Husbear had been eyeing some environmentally friendly toilet he had been seeing at Sam’s Club for the last year, so we stopped in and purchased it. I think that’s the strangest item I’ve purchased there. So far.

The new toilet. In a box.

The new toilet. In a box.

And then the fun began.

I went to unscrew the toilet, but the washers and bolts holding it place had corroded to nothing. So I pulled the old toilet up, with the wax ring remaining on the closet flange. With some… “stuff”.

I should have probably called a Hazmat team in...

I should have probably called a Hazmat team in…

I had to scrape off the old wax ring by hand. I had gloves on. Although one of the gloves tore mid scraping. Gross! I lost count of how many times I washed and sanitized my hands during this process.

Cleaned up. Mostly.

Cleaned up. Mostly.

I installed new closet bolts, a new wax ring, and then I set the new toilet in place.

New toilet installed. And with no leaks! (So far...)

New toilet installed. And with no leaks! (So far…)

It was actually easier than I expected. A first!

Confusing options...

Confusing options…

Now which button to I press for number one?

And it feels “different”. It will take me a bit to get used to it.

Until next time...
Erik

Burning Box

Yesterday, on what should have been a glorious Beveraging Monday and Saint Patrick’s Day combined, I was sitting at home when I started to smell something electrical burning.

You know that smell: electically ozone burningess.

I looked all over the house trying to narrow down where it was coming from, and I couldn’t find it. Nothing. After a bit, I just chalked it up to wafting in from somewhere outside.

I got ready to head out to meet the Beveraging Crew, and as I sat in the truck, I saw the electrical service panel box in my rear view mirror.

So I got out of the truck and walked up to the service panel, and I could really smell that smell.

Damn.

I reached for the panel. It didn’t feel hot. So I opened it.

And this is what I see:

Burned and melted wire.

Burned and melted wire.

Great. The incoming power line to the main breaker was burning!

So I call the Husbear to let him know.

Then I call the electrician service we use. They dispatch an electrician out to take a look. Who then calls the power company to have them come out to shut off the power and cut the power lines to the house.

Cut incoming lines...

Cut incoming lines…

The removed meter...

The removed meter…

Great. No power.

And there’s nothing they can really do until the morning.

Lucky for us we purchased a small home generator at the beginning of winter, just in case we had any power outages. Which we didn’t. Until now. So the Husbear fired up the generator and plugged in some essentials: the refrigerator, the entertainment center so he could watch TV, and the fan in the bedroom. He fired up the wood stove to, since it was supposed to be cold through the night.

The little gen that could...

The little gen that could…

The electrician arrived at the house this morning around 9 AM, and started tearing the electrical boxes and lines off the side of the house.

Very well grounded.

Very well grounded.

And then he put up the new box and starting rerunning the wires.

Wired!

Wired!

And as of 3:56 PM today, we have power again!

And a new robot on the side of the house…

Funky robot.

Funky robot.

And a rather large and unexpected hole in our wallets. *ugh*

With each room renovation we do and replace the existing wiring, I’m actually surprised the house hasn’t burned down in the decade we have owned it. Not because of our new wiring, but because of the old cloth-wrapped 2-wire wires. I guess it could have burned down yesterday had I not been home.

On the bright side, the new electrical panel is one more thing we can cross off the “to do” list.

Until next time...
Erik

A Scout is…

It has taken me almost two years to write this post. Partly because other matters of life came into focus. And partly because I didn’t want to think about it, as it involves most of my growing up years. Well, as a kid. I’m still growing up.

And it’s kind of all over the place, as you’ll see. Or maybe I’ve just been staring at it so long it seems… scattered.

I grew up in Scouting. It started with Cub Scouts. I don’t remember the how or why I got involved, but I remember my mother taking me. And I know I loved it. Maybe it was the interaction with others. Maybe it was the somewhat outdoorsy stuff and crafts. I just know I had fun.

I “graduated” to Boy Scouts when I was old enough, and stayed in Scouting until after I was 18 when I graduated high school and moved from Florida to Arkansas to attend university. At that point my Scouting career stopped abruptly. Mostly because university studies came into focus, and I started battling my inner demons.

One of the big things Scouting taught me was about interacting with other people. Which is odd considering how much of a loner I can be. It also taught me about myself, whether good or bad. Almost every (good) memory I have as a child and teenager involves Scouting in some form or fashion, or something I learned from Scouting. All are something I would never choose to forget, and I hope I never do. I loved the activities and friendships Scouting had to offer. The weekend camping. The weeks or months away at summer camp. The friendships. The education. It was all great.

The man who was my Scoutmaster was like a father to me. His son and I were best friends from school and growing up. And this might sound harsh, but he was more what a dad should be than my own father was.

Most people seem surprised when they hear that I earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1991. Or that I was in the Order of the Arrow, and attended the 20th National Order of the Arrow conference in 1988 in Colorado. Or that I attended the 1989 National Scout Jamboree in Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. Or that I was a camp counselor for several summers at Camp Daniel Boone in Canton, North Carolina. I don’t really know why it’s a surprise though, other than it doesn’t fit into the mould of expectations people have of me, or at least it’s not the “me” they know now. But that’s for another post. Or two.

To this day I still try to live my life by the ideals that were instilled in me through Scouting. With the exception of the bigotry shown by the National Council. Granted, bigotry wasn’t something that was taught to me at the time. Or if it was, it wasn’t something I ever picked up on. I can be oblivious, after all.

I was greatly saddened by the decision of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America in July 2012 to reaffirm their ban on openly gay Scout leaders and members:

While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA. [link]

Was I really surprised about their decision? No. The Boy Scouts of America is a private organization that can, as affirmed by a Supreme Court ruling, set their own membership standards. And the old guys who run the BSA have chosen that it’s not okay to be openly gay in the BSA.

I personally think there is a lot of positive that Scouting has to offer kids. All kids. And unlike the National Council, it is the local leaders that make the impact. They’re the ones doing the “work”, after all. There are many local Scout councils that were not following the National Council ruling and have been and are staying inclusive: [link], [link].

But it’s still the National Council that runs the show, and gets the press.

I am glad that as of January 1, 2014, BSA is allowing gay youth to be in Scouting at least. However, once you turn 18, you’re out. If your out.

One of the points of resolution I find the most remarkable is this (bolding mine):

How does the BSA define “morally straight”?
The Boy Scout Handbook continues to define “morally straight” as “Your relationships with others should be honest and open. Respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions and faithful in your religious beliefs. Values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”

Can you imagine how much better of a world this would be if everyone did just that?

But I’m still conflicted with the “it’s okay to be a gay youth, but not a gay adult.” As are many others.

Since that initial reaffirmation in July 2012, a lot of Eagle Scouts have returned their Eagle award. This is a huge deal, and no doubt a lot of sleepness nights occurred for a lot of Eagle Scouts.

If you aren’t familiar with American Boy Scouting’s Eagle Scout award, it might be a little hard to explain how important this story really is. Eagle Scout is a big deal. For one thing, it takes a lot of work to get the position. A scout has to earn 21 merit badges and then spearhead a community service project that they organize and manage themselves from start to finish. Add to that the fact that most kids don’t stay in scouts through high school anyway, and you end up with the award representing a relatively small and elite group. Since 1911, about 2.1 million men have earned an Eagle Scout award. And it has serious implications once you graduate high school. There are scholarships. Eagle Scouts who enlist in the military after high school can start off with a higher rank than their peers. The adult Eagle Scouts I know have told me that they’ve gotten interview call-backs or even job opportunities because the award was on their resumes. Basically, it’s more than just this medal you pick up at age 17. For many men, it’s a lifelong position—and one that demonstrates a commitment to serving others and caring for the community.

So when Eagle Scouts start returning their medals to the Boy Scouts of America, that matters. Especially when these men are making this decision because they think it’s the best way to demonstrate the values of being an Eagle Scout. [link]

Go read these letters: [link], [link], [link], [link], [link], [link], [link].

I applaud these men for what they’ve done.

And yet… returning the badge is symbolic. But it’s just that. I have a belief that once you’re an Eagle Scout, you’re always an Eagle Scout. It’s part of you. Ingrained in you psyche.

Oddly enough, I see tattoos in a similar fashion: I see them as a history book of where that person has been. Sure, that person may not be in that same spot in life as they were before, but they have a reminder of it. Like the luggage stickers of old. For example, I might not like Transfomers as much now as I did when I was a kid (fuck you, Michael Bay!). But they were a large part of my growing up and imagination, and I like having a reminder of that moment on my person in the form of a tattoo. Well, several tattoos.

Yes, I can return the Eagle badge, and the symbolism that goes along with it. I’ll always have those memories.

But do you honestly think the old men sitting in the BSA, Inc. offices in Texas really care about (maybe) a few hundred returned Eagle badges?

Or maybe I’m just too cynical… And late to the party, as usual.

The uniform still fit in 2006

The scariest thing I could think of for Halloween in 2006? An openly gay Eagle Scout!

Oh, the things I dwell upon.

Until next time...
Erik

Hauntings

I was laying on the couch the other night, with both kittehs laying on my chest. Sleeping. Well, they were sleeping. I was watching TV. Some show about aliens and history or something-or-another.

All of a sudden, both kittehs popped up and stared intently toward the stairwell. Which they continued to do for about 7 or 8 minutes. Very intently.

I thought maybe they heard the Husbear upstairs, but I didn’t hear anything. Add to that the time duration they continued staring and I got a little weirded out.

And then I thought of this…

Comic from Deep Dark Fears.

Comic from Deep Dark Fears.

The Husbear and I both think there is some sort of “spirit” in the house, and have for a long time. After we first moved in, we were laying in bed one night and both thought we heard what sounded like a child running up the stairs laughing. Which, as you can imagine, freaked us out a little. We haven’t heard that particular sound again, but there have been other strange happenings. Nothing sinister. Just odd things we’ve noticed.

And we’re not the only ones who have sensed it. Our middle child thought the house was haunted, one room in particular. Our oldest daughter and son-in-law have stayed at the house multiple times while we’ve been traveling, and their dogs just stare and bark at the stairwell and won’t go near it. We’ve had several friends stay the night and have said they felt like someone sat down on the edge of the bed in the guestroom during the night, but when they looked, no one was there.

I guess Spo isn’t the only one with a ghost.

Until next time...
Erik

It’s All I’ve Got

Sometime Tuesday I started feeling… icky. I know, not a great descriptor. But it’s all I had. Later that night, the floods began…

Unfortunately (or fortunately), the top-end flood only lasted a few hours.

And then worked it’s way South.

Where it lingered for two days.

“Linger” isn’t quite the write word though. Nothing lingered. I’m fairly certain my gastrointestinal system doesn’t store that much… stuff. Or at least I thought it didn’t.

I have spent way too much time in the bathroom over the last few days. And when I wasn’t there, I was on the couch.

I’m finally feeling a little more human today. And I haven’t had to make an “oh my god get out of the way” trip to the bathroom since yesterday evening. So there’s that. Granted, I’ve pretty much stopped eating since this started, so that could be part of it too.

All I know is this: maybe we should have planned to install a bidet in the new master bathroom.

Until next time...
Erik