The Year of Entropy, Part III -- Of Illness and Plumbing

>> Thursday, February 24, 2011

So, we survived the preschool plague with only minimal setbacks and casualties.  The laundry, for one, seems in a perpetual state of delay, but I'm not sure that blaming the plague is really fair.

As DH and I reached a fairly stable point of recovery, we made the rather dangerous decision that the time had come to finally fix the downstairs toilet.  It was functional, unless you were squeamish or easily embarrased, because it did flush -- once every 2 or 3 attempts, so .... you get the idea.

But, plumbing is ... well ... plumbing.  Do-it-yourself projects are never what you hope they will be, but of all the possible options, plumbing is possibly the worst.  First of all, it's bad because you know it won't ever, and can never be, a one-stop fix.  Second, messing with a plumbing system might fix some problems, but the chances of something else breaking are pretty darn high.  Third, once you start, you cannot stop, because plumbing is usually equal parts destruction and reconstruction, requiring at least local water to be turned off, and often the water to the house, and if you are really lucky, the water to the entire neighborhood.

Then, in my house at least, you need to factor in Entropy, above and beyond the normal laws of home repair.  You see, the normal laws of home repair state that no matter how many supplies you have at home, no matter how careful your shopping list, and no matter how many times you have done the same repair before, you are not allowed to make it through any job without at least one trip to the hardware store.  (Just accept it.  There is no way around it.)  Entropy can do so much more than this.  Entropy will wait until you have reached the point in your toilet repair when all the old fixtures are broken beyond repair and you have no choice but to finish the job or learn to live without water.  Then, he will arrange to have the child of the house come down with a fever and a huge spreading rash that look disturbingly itchy and painful.  For icing on the cake, he will also make sure someone comments on how much the rash looks like measels (of course, making sure that the pregnant woman in the house is aware of how bad this could be), and then he will hide the child's vaccination records somewhere mysterious so that no one can confirm when the MMR vaccination was.  Yep.  That is what Entropy will do.

But wait. 

The laws of home repair dictate that once the (longer than you wished, harder than you'd hoped) repair is finished, something about it won't work right.  Entropy will make sure that the part that is broken is the only thing that worked before you "fixed" it.  For example, if your toilet innards are malfunctioning, and the toilet runs, fails to flush regularly, and fills slowly, and you manage to fix all of that, Entropy will make sure that the water connection between the toilet and the household water supply starts to leak. 

(Trust me.  I now have co-opted the bathroom wastebasket as a drip bucket and have a constant supply of towels on the floor.  So now the toilet works far better than it used to ... provided you don't mind the leak.  Of course, the leak does not stop if the water to the toilet is turned off.  No.  The leak is coming from the tank side of the connection, so the only way to stop it is to turn off the water AND drain the toilet tank, rendering the toilet completely unusable.)

Then, the moment you identify the new and intractable problem your home repair has caused, Entropy will throw in another wrench.  While you have the water to the entire house turned off to try to fix the problem, Entropy will make the last completely healthy person in the house queasy and ask for a bucket.

Finally, perhaps days later, when you think you have 3 or 4 more solutions to try to fix the leak, Entropy will make the heat pump freeze and might even throw some added GI distress your way.

Yep.  Entropy loves plumbing.


...And You, Scarecrow, Are the Sickest of All

>> Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I have just two words for this blog post.

Scarlet Fever.


I Now Pronounce You Sick and Sicker

>> Friday, February 18, 2011

Hey, wow, look at how time flies.  I've been ....


I'm rather stuck here.

I am not sure I can tell you what happened.

You see, I have said on more than one occasion that I do not wish to be known as the "potty-mouthed blogger."  I also have it, on good authority, that I am NOT "the woman who talks about poop all the time" because that title has already been claimed (see comments, here), and I must not upset the apple cart by intruding on the territory of the REAL woman who talks about poop all the time. 

I also swear to you that at one time I had a comment to this rather innocent post about toilet paper that it was "funny" but at the same time made someone gag just thinking about it.  (Really?  A clean toilet paper roll falling in a bathtub is a gaggable offense?  Then again, who am I to question?  I have belly-button issues, and no one believes me either.)  Okay.  I'll accept the gaggable label, although I admit to not quite understanding it and thus I cannot predict when I might commit another offense.

So ... how to tell you where I have been and what we have been doing?

Let's see.  How about this:

Bubba's friends at school are very good at sharing many things, including coughs, sneezes, and ... other things that might come with coughs and sneezes.  As a result, we recently had to teach Bubba the first steps in the art of the "porcelain prayer."  After only one night of practice, and a little help from us, he isn't that bad at it.  Now, granted, he's too short to kneel or crouch, and generally does his devotions standing up (or hanging from Mom's arms), but his aim is pretty good.

Bubba also recently learned that after you have spent time doing the porcelain prayer, not all gas is ... well ... gas.  We, in turn, have had to learn new and previously untried ways to remove "dirt and odor from your carpet."  A dog has nothing on a sick kid.

Largely due to the excellent example of his friends at school, Bubba also made sure to share his cooties, in part with his mom and in part with his dad.  In self defense, we were forced to designate one bathroom as the "danger zone" and one bathroom as the "prayer zone".  Crossing the line was not forgivable.

And, to be fair, Bubba's soon-to-be baby brother or sister was not impressed at all with any of these events, resulting in several comments such as, "If you kick me in the stomach again, we're just going to end up right back in the bathroom, so cut it out already."

Yep.  That about sums up what we've been doing.  I hope that is sufficient excuse for the lack of blogging.

How about you guys?  What have you been up to?


Dear People (Men) Who ...

>> Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oho, look at that.  I wrote a gender-biased title.  I'm engaging in wild and wholly partially slightly unsupported stereo-typecasting.
I have a feeling I'm still right.

You see, I've decided that in today's post, I am going to "call out" the designer and/or installers of some products/services I have used recently.  Quite clearly these individuals never used their product, nor did they even think about what life would be really like for someone who did try to use it.

1.  To the man who installed the toilet paper holder in the woman's bathroom at JC Penneys in the next town, next time please install the holder while sitting on the commode.  I know men customarily do not sit on toilet seats in public restrooms if they can possibly wait, but please, give it a try.  If you do, you will quickly see that when the toilet is only 6 inches from the wall, the big giant multi-roll toilet paper holder should not be set immediately next to the toilet seat only 3 inches higher than the seat itself.  No one wants to do their business with a toilet paper holder on their lap, and no woman wants to think that it's only her thighs that won't fit under it.

2.  To the non-parental, non-shopper (probably a man) that designed "kid friendly shopping carts," designed for parents to push -- please stop.  Feel free to continue manufacturing the little mini carts kids push themselves, if you must, but those big, hulking carts with cars attached to the front, or designer staircases for kids to climb in the back have GOT to go.  First of all, they are 20 feet long and cannot corner around a traditional grocery store without knocking over display cases and the occasional fellow shoppers.  Second, they are heavy enough before the cart is full of whatever the store is supposed to be selling you.  Third, they put the child too far away from the parent to reach out and grab when said child decides now would be a good time to do the "drop and roll" out the "car" door onto the store floor in front of another monstrous cart.

3.  To the employee of Target that designed all clothing racks and placed most special display cases in such a away that no regular shopping cart can maneuver through, you need some perspective.  I suggest that you be given a cart, a Christmas list, and a handful of children under 7, and told that you cannot leave the store unless your shopping list is complete, all children are accounted for and have not been left alone for rampant destruction, the cart is not caught between the wrapping paper and the valentine display, and all knocked over display cases have been properly re-assembled.  Then, if that isn't sufficient attitude adjustment, you shoud have to repeat the exercise using one of those ridiculous "kid friendly" carts with the special back-end kid's seat that your store seems so fond of. 

4.  To the employees of KMart that keep moving the Toddler underwear display, just knock it off.  Figure out where you want to put it -- in baby, or in the appropriate gender section of the older children and leave it there.  Otherwise I will leave my child tugging on YOUR sleeve asking to go potty while I try to figure out where it is.  If you are not inspired by this threat, you have never experienced crack-peeingAnd sometimes he falls in.  Oh, and you cannot take any girl-children I might have with me into the men's room.  Figure it out on your own time.

5.  To the airline managers that have decided families with small children do not need extra boarding time, you are welcome to a view of my butt while I hold up the entire line to install my airline-approved, bigger-than-most-suitcases carseat in the window seat where you require it to be.  You are most welcome.  And by the way -- where am I supposed to change the baby's diaper on my cross-country flight to the funeral?  Hmmmm?  Any suggestions?

Now, I realize some of these inconveniences are the result of old equipment and old ideas.  I get that.  No one will retrofit an airplane just to install a changing table.  That's fine.  It's the new stuff and the stupid stuff that can drive otherwise rational people up a tree.  If you are going to retrofit an airplane, then for crying out loud have a heart.  Flight attendants don't appreciate you changing the baby on the floor in the galley, and don't even get me started with the man in the seat on the aisle.

6.  To airport policy makers and airport bathroom designers (apparently men), please coordinate.  I am not allowed to leave my baggage out of my sight for a second while in the airport, lest it gets taken and "subject to search and destruction."  Or so you keep telling me over the loudspeaker at least 500 times while I wait for my flight.  If I should have to go to the restroom while waiting, though, I can assure you that most women's restroom stalls are not wide enough or long enough to allow me to wrangle my carry-on in with me, even if I am willing to hold it on my lap (which is a feat only for the truly experienced, I must admit).  In some extreme cases, the door will not open wide enough to allow anything more than a person through the stall entrance.  Is it possible you forgot women do not pee standing up at a trough with their luggage (and other things) in plain view of the entire crowd?

7.  To auto manufacturers -- a little help, please.  With the invention of front wheel drive, we lost the "hump" in the back seat to put a weighted trash can.  With "non-pickable" door locks, we can no longer hang trash bags over the door lock button.  With "modern" styling in many cars, we can no longer even rely on having that little 2 inch cubby-hold in the door to hold small things like tissues.  So, I ask you, what is your plan to handle my cross-country car trash?  I have cupholders galore, individual temperature controls, and in many cases, individual media centers, but in all this, not a single place to hold trash.

8.  To God, can we talk about cowlicks?  What are they, some kind of inside joke?  Because I just don't get it.

Yeah.  I stand by my opening statement.  Most of these people are probably men.  Of course, I don't actually know that, but I have a pretty good hunch.  Daddy Bloggers and  #mancode followers, what do you think?


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