Just a quick note to mention that today marks the one year anniversary of my little bitch site. Happy Birthday to me!

•My wife and I wanted to go to see a movie today, we still had one free guest pass and it expires at the end of January. The movie that we wanted to go see was Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which is currently only at 69% positive at Not that we really cared what the critics thought of it, we both wanted to see it regardless. Unfortunately, due to arriving at the theatre only fifteen minutes early, and an enormously long line, the show sold out before we were able to get tickets. That is where things started to spiral out of control. Let this be a lesson to all of us that we should buy the tickets online and pick them up inside the theatre, it would have saved us fifteen minutes -thus getting us into the movie we were hoping to see (which wasn’t an option for us anyway, since we had a free pass we had to go to the ticket window).

I did have a plan b, which sucked as it turns out. I had seen a trailer for Sideways recently and it looked pretty good. Not to mention that it won 2 Golden Globes and is nominated for 5 Academy Awards. All of that and it is currently at 96% positive at It also had a showing at the theatre we went to at the same time as the movie that we wanted to see, it seemed like such a good idea at the time…

This is the first movie, that I have seen recently, that the critics at rotten tomatoes got this wrong. Sideways is quite possibly the worst piece of cinematic shit that has ever hit the big screen. No, I am not exaggerating. Movies of this caliber are rarely ever made, and the few that are are always direct to video. This level of trash has probably never been seen on a big screen. This film makes Amazon Women on the Moon (which I loved, BTW) look like cinematic gold, and believe me it would take a real stinker to do that. Unlike Amzon Women on the Moon, Sideways won’t even attract a cult following; It is simply too horrible, in too many ways -yet, not in a campy or funny manner. Simply put, Shit is the best single word that could be used to describe it. To use more than one word; the Shit the day after binge drinking and a lot of Mexican food.

There is a possibility that my unbridled hatred opinion about this movie is based a lot on expectation. The trailer that I saw for it, which is vastly different than the trailer at the official website, made it look like it was going to be a comedy romp. I went into the theatre expecting to see a couple of guys getting wild in the days before a wedding. Like an extended Bachelor party where awkward and zany things happen, but, in the end it all works out for the best. That is certainly not this movie at all, in fact it is almost the polar opposite.

I hesitate to call it a drama since that would imply a plot, something that was very sparse in this flick. As a matter of fact, the official trailer shows the entire plot of the movie in about thirty seconds, yet the movie is over two hours long! Two very long hours of mostly stunned silence, with an occasional laugh that is mostly forced since you had to pay for the ticket. I would highly recommend the trailer for Sideways, but, for the love of random fluctuations of time and space god, do not watch the film. Not now, not on video, not on pay per view, not on cable, just never watch it. It is that bad. Not that I am bitter or anything.

Now for a plot spoiler. Stop reading right now if you plan to watch the movie. Two guys go to Napa Valley a week before one of them is to marry. The groom to be wants to get laid. He does. Then he gets married. The other guy doesn’t want to get laid since he still loves his ex-wife. He gets laid. Then is the best man at the other guy’s wedding. His ex-wife is now pregnant with her new husband’s child. His book doesn’t get published. He knocks on a door. The end. I am sure something else happens; I vaguely remember a game of golf at some point. But that is the plot in a nutshell.

I have been trying to understand the critical acclaim for this film ever since I left the theatre. The only thing that I can come up with is that maybe the first guy that reviewed it gave it glowing praise, then other reviewers saw it and thought it sucked -yet, they saw the first review and were worried that maybe they just weren’t intelligent enough to understand it, so they gave it praise as well. The problem with that logic is that Sideways is certainly not some high brow humor that only someone with an IQ of 170 can understand, it is just a really lame movie. I suppose it really is like the Channing Pollock quote says, “A critic is a legless man who teaches running.” Which might not even accurately describe it since the critic gets paid to watch the film and then give his/her opinion about it; That would be more like paying Bill Gates to critique Microsoft’s performance, there may be a bias there.

I know that I am basically the lone gun here, hell, Ebert practically gave the movie a blow-job. I hated it, my wife hated it, and I might be the only one in the entire world that actually puts that hatred out there to be seen. This movie sucked! It is not a ‘guilty pleasure’, it is not a love story, it is not a comedy, it doesn’t have an actual plot (most of the time the only thing that holds it all together is the fact that they display every new day in type, on a black screen, to let you know that the movie is still happening), it is that bad. Critics be damned! I would rather put Tiger Balm on my nuts (again, and a long story of accidental encounter) than to watch this garbage again!

So, by the standard of the critic, I guess that would be 4 out of 5 stars?

Garfield; Dog in heat; Social security

Normally I wouldn’t waste my time bashing a comic strip. Particularly not Garfield, since I really don’t ever read the comic. But, while in my daily surfing routine (internet that is), I happened to see a link to the latest Garfield comic, so I decided to check it out. It wasn’t even slightly humorous.

Just for fun I decided to take a peek at all of the Garfield comics from the month of January to see if there was anything there worth reading/viewing. Unfortunately, Flux’s bitch about Garfield, on was 100% accurate: The comic strip isn’t even trying any more.

Here I offer up as evidence three strips which I gleaned from the internet. Their sole purpose to show you that I did indeed subject myself to all of the comics for the month. Well, that and proof that the strip isn’t even trying.

Note how in the first strip there appear to be 3 identical frames, the only change being Jon’s mouth? Then compare the Garfield from the first strip with the one in the third strip, do you think he looks a bit similar as well? Also the Jon from the second strip bears a pretty striking resemblance to the Jon from the third strip, and not just because it is the same guy.

There is toy that both my wife and I remember fondly, it was available in the late ’70’s to early ’80’s, I can not seem to find a link to the toy since I can’t remember the manufacturer, or the name of the toy. It is similar to This. The idea is that you have a background ‘board’ (which is a scene from your favorite show; Scooby doo, the Smurfs, you name it) and then you have decals that you can stick on it. You can make millions of different scenes, but the characters are always going to look exactly the same. When I got the G.I. Joe version of the peel and stick thing, it actually made it so that you could position the arms and legs (since the decals were separate from the torso). Now I am beginning to believe that Jim Davis might have died some time ago, and some jack-ass with an old Garfield peel and stick toy is ruining the strip. At least I wish that I was believing that, unfortunately I seem to be believing that Davis just enjoys the paycheck so much that he quit caring about quality at least 15 years ago.

As luck would have it, I did just find the type of book that I was looking for. All you have to do is do a google search for reusable sticker book. Who would have thought the answer would be so simple. No wonder someone was able to find an old Garfield sticker book and take over the strip.

• In other news, our smaller puppy (Zelda) has been in heat for the last week or so. She has the swollen parts to prove it! Our larger puppy (Warlock) seemed to finally sense this only moments ago, as he mounted up and started humping her. He doesn’t have any balls though, which leaves me a bit curious as to why is even trying to give it a go. Only slightly curious. And he has declined repeated requests to be interviewed about the subject, his stock response has been a simple bark.

• The idea of making Social Security a private fund has been on my mind since it was announced. The reason for that (it being on my mind) is that if it were in private accounts it would be in the stock market and based on an individual’s own decisions. If the Technology Boom that happened in the late ’90s, and the subsequent, catastrophic drop of tech stocks a few years ago, can make any point at all, it is this: Your average investor is really dumb.

Even during the technology boom there were people that were afraid to jump on, knowing that it could come crashing down at any second -which was true. Problem is that those investors watched as the other guys got in on the ground floor and made millions. That made your average investor want to get into the market when it was already terribly overpriced, leaving many the average investor broke; Most of the more intelligent investors would have gotten out long before the average guy tried to get in. Which leads pretty nicely into this piece that I saw on the Washington Monthly today.

I try not to be at all political around here. But the thought of tax breaks for the rich will lead directly to tax hikes for the middle class, and that is something that I find fundamentally wrong. I hate taxes myself (I do have to pay a fair share for my capital gains and dividends every year), possibly more than the very wealthy, but I can not see giving tax breaks to the highest earners when you know it will lead to tax hikes for the low/middle earners. If you follow along that scenario, eventually the low/middle earners will all be in poverty while the uppper class is in luxury. That will always result in a dictatorship.

Isn’t it funny how the U.S. administration seems to be trying to force us back a couple of centuries every time they pass a bill?

Gotta go. I have a brother who is gay. I don’t want this post to get intercep……

Johnny Carson; The DaVinci code

My erratic (well not so erratic, considering its frequency) weekly posting seems to continue. I have no explanations so please don’t ask.

• First up today is the death of Johnny Carson. Being only 30, I don’t have a whole lot of knowledge of the span of his career. What I do know is that my Father once either took a night off at work, or came home early (twenty-five year old memories aren’t perfect) to watch Carson sing the song Rhinestone Cowboy. The only thing that I can actually remember from the show that he was so famous for is a line that was not even spoken by him, but by Ed McMahon, “I have in my hand an envelope, a child of four can plainly see these envelopes are hermetically sealed. They’ve been kept since noon today in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnalls’ porch”. That was the bit that they used to start the “Carnac the Great” skits, which is really all I can remember of the show. Well, along with some of the lame insults that he would hurl at hecklers during that skit. Strange and obscure stuff along the lines of “May unwanted house guests arrive and drink milk directly from the carton”. I was very young when I saw these shows and I remember that the lame curses were far funnier than the skit itself. I had always attributed that to my youth at the time, but in googling up some of the old dialogues I found that the lame curses were the only thing that made it memorable.

I think that most people in my generation (born in the mid seventies) know who Johnny Carson is/was, but remember him more for the parodies of him that Dana Carvey did on Saturday Night Live. They were, of course, exaggerated, over-the-top takes on Carson for sure, but it is strange that I think that Carvey (in makeup) looks more like Carson than Carson ever did. That is probably just me.

The reason that I think we need to pay a bit of respect to Johnny is that I can not think of any other entertainer, in any genre, that was able to keep so many adamant fans for three decades. In the channel-surfing world of today it is difficult for anyone to maintain and audience for a couple of years, let alone doing a stretch like Carson did. He stepped down not necessarily at the height of his career, but while he was still hugely popular, and he never did a comeback. He had his run, he was happy with it, he retired to live outside of the public eye. No comeback tours, no cameos in movies for a quick buck, he was done. I can’t think of any other celebrity that ever rode the wave so high, followed it to the beach, then simply walked away -Completely and Forever-. I’ll bet that his phone was ringing until the day he died with offers for movie cameos, tv spots, radio commercials and etc. and he never did any of it. Whether it was his pride, health or other that kept him from doing it, that leaves the world to remember him at his best. As it should be.

• I finally finished reading The Da Vinci Code several days ago. I was only reading the book based on a whole lot of reviewers saying that it was like the second coming of Christ. As it turns out, Christ’s second coming was not quite what I had expected.

The Da Vinci Code is of a genre that I never read. I am not sure if it would be classified as a thriller, mystery or action novel, but I usually only read fantasy or horror, this was certainly neither of those. The book just casually picks you up, then throws you into the maelstrom that is the story. I am not going to talk about the plot at all, since my wife is now reading the book and actually reads this site. What I will say is that I was fully immersed in the book until about page 370. It was moving so fast that I had read more than half of the book and still thought that it was just the introduction (a far cry from the trudging through the swamps for a month that you get used to in fantasy novels). I really thought that it petered out a bit towards the end, but that might be a personal issue.

The book does a pretty remarkable job of mixing the historical information into the story, though there were times that I felt like I was reading a lame history book; Who the hell cares if the glass pyramid outside of the Louvre has exactly 666 panes of glass in it if that fact is not going to be important later? Many historical buildings are tied into the story, probably just because the guy spent so much time researching them that he had to put all of them into the book, regardless of how well they tied into the flow of the story.

Being that the book is called The Da Vinci Code, and being that all of the clues that were left were actually written down, I actually solved a few of the codes in my head several pages before the primary characters did. Not that I am a genius or anything, but there are only so many ways that one can simply use letters to create codes. The first one that I had solved, long before the primary characters, said “O! Draconian Devil”. The book is called The Da Vinci Code, FFS, wouldn’t Da Vinci be what you are looking for in the lettering? I did, as did probably everyone else that has ever read the book. Imagine that, it is an anagram for Leonardo Da Vinci. I really did my best to not solve the word puzzles in my head after that, thinking that I might inadvertently stumble onto the ending without reading the book. That was, thankfully, not going to be an issue.

The ease of the first couple of codes made me question whether the rest of the world was simply stupid, however, the codes got more advanced. The codes, in fact, got so advanced that that they weren’t even codes anymore. The codes became an issue of interpretation of sentences. That is where it started to get out of my hands/mind as far as trying to solve the puzzles myself anyway.

Without going too much further into description of the book, I will say that I liked it. I didn’t particularly care for the way that it ended, but it was an ending. I am now of the camp that believes that it was only a best-seller for the sake of the religious overtone. The novel Angels and Demons is a previous work from the same author (which I have ordered online) that is supposedly a much better book. After finishing that one, perhaps I will be able to give the author some props, who knows.

The Incredibles; Support our Troops; Evolution Vs. Creationism

Once again I have taken a week off from posting. Again no real reson why. Laziness would probably be the most realistic reason. Either that or just a lack of anything to write about.

I had intentions of getting something typed out on Sunday, however, the wife and I decided to go see a movie before her free passes expired. The movie that we went to see was The Incredibles, which I had been wanting to see ever since it hit theatres, while she went only grudgingly even with free passes.

The thing that amazed me the most about the movie was the size of the audience. The movie was released on Nov. 5, 2004, we went to see it on jan. 16, 2005, two and a half months after release, to find the theatre at about 85% capacity. It was showing in a pretty small theatre (as most older movies do), and only had three showings that day, so maybe I shouldn’t have been quite that surprised. I honestly thought that there would be my wife, myself and about another three people there, hah. And I really thought that there wouldn’t be any children at all, which I based on parents getting sick of their children’s constant begging to see it within the first month after release. Again I was way off. We were among about four couples that were there, every other group had multiple children. Expecting the audience to be small, we didn’t arrive until just a couple of minutes before showtime, which meant that we were in the second row, staring up for two hours to watch it.

Why are the theatres designed that way in the first place? They could make it a bit wider and add a couple of seats to each upper row, maybe even move all of the upper seating closer to the screen (at the same height of course) and add an extra row in the back. I have never had a problem watching a movie from an aisle seat, and the back row is just about the best view in the house. I guess there are reasons why they have them set up the way they do, I just will never understand them.

How was the movie? It was everything that I had expected (of course I had read a lot of reviews going in), and far better than the wife was expecting. It was certainly the most entertaining cgi film that I have ever seen, of course I have only seen a few of them. The characters in this movie were so much more realistic than what you normally see in animated films. There are many layers to each of them. For the majority of the movie I found myself almost forgetting that they were super-heroes, right up until one of them got mad and used his/her powers in anger. The visual quality was amazing, the story was pretty good (though it seemed to try a bit too hard to be dramatic) and the dialogue really carried it. Simply put, The Incrdibles has set the bar pretty high for cgi films; It’s no longer about cutesy little fish and worn out fart jokes.

• While on the way to the movie, I noticed yet another “support our troops” sticker on the back of a car. I didn’t realize until recently that almost all of those ribbons are actually magnets (I had assumed that they were stickers). Seeing this one had reminded me of the mission that I have undertaken in my local area. The thing about those little decals is that they are supposed to be displayed vertically (at least they are done that way traditionally), yet some people put them on their cars in such a manner that it looks like a Jesus Fish. Normally I wouldn’t get upset about this type of thing, but in light of the war in Iraq being based on the delusions of the religious nut that leads our country, it pisses me off. It makes me think that they put it that way on purpose, which makes me think that they probably voted to reelect Bush. Which is sick, sad and wrong.

So I decided to set the world right. When I get to work, as well as when I leave, I walk through the parking lot and take the liberty of putting their ribbons on the car properly. I only change the ones that are very obviously meant to look like the Jesus Fish. There are some that are halfway between, but it looks like the people just put them that way so that you could read what was written on it horizontaly, those I let go. I am sure that this really won’t make a damn bit of difference to the world as a whole, but it sure does make me feel better. I did find that there are limitations to my desire to straighten out the ribbons though. For instance, in the parking lot of the movie theatre I saw one that needed to be changed, I left it alone. It is one thing to do this in the tiny little town that I live in, quite another to do it in the Metro-Phoenix area. That is to say that I really don’t think it is something I am prepared to die for.

• On sort of a similar topic, that being delusional religious people, I had a conversation with a guy named Rick the other day about eggs.

All my life I have believed that the question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” was a pretty obvious gauge of religious belief. That is what the question is about, isn’t it? The way I see it, if you believe that the chicken came first that is saying that the chicken was created by someone/something. While if you believe that the egg came first, that would lend itself to the belief that the egg was the offspring of pre-existing animals that either cross-bred, or two animals of the same species that had a genetically mutated offspring. That would lend itself to the theory of evolution. Much like everything else in life, I never thought that anyone could believe that the question meant anything else (I always seem to think that everyone shares my views, right until they tell me they don’t). Rick, on the other hand, said that it was not anything like that. He said that the question was meant to be retorical, one of those meditiation thoughts along the lines of “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

I have tried to find evidence of my presumption that the question was an argument for or against evolution, but have had no success. If you happen to know how/why this question came about, please shoot me an email, I am really curious about it. Even if you don’t know how/why the question came about, but you have always believed that the fundamental reason for the question was evolution, let me know that also. I am really curious on this one.

That’s about all I have for now. Tune in next time to see photos of the craziest bitch on the net (if Zelda is willing to pose, that is).

Plumbing; Roller Coaster Tycoon

The new year marches on. It really seems pretty hard to believe that we are already midway through the ‘aught’ decade. I can remember the eighties pretty well, even the nineties, but if you were to ask me about anything that has happened since the calendar rolled over to 2000, the only thing that I could come up with would be 9/11. At least the only thing that I could come up with quickly. Were I to sit down and think about it for a few minutes I am sure that I could start to name off a bunch of crap that has happened since then. I don’t really want to though. Not to mention the fact that doing something like that would make me think about the president, which would lead to me thinkinking about all of the presidents there have been since I was born, which would lead to me starting to think that I am getting older. Not that there is anything wrong with getting, just that it is something that you usually associate with your parents, not something that you think would ever happen to you.

On that subject, I did get a bit of satisfaction from a comment that one of my boss’ daughters made. Apparently she still has a picture of me from the time I went to the prom with a girl in 1994 (which was the fifth consecutive year that I had been to a prom, still a stat that I am kind of proud of). I was twenty at the time. She said that I haven’t aged a bit since that picture, which made me feel good. Unfortunately, I think that she was only talking about the face part of the picture. The slowing metabolism that seems to come with the late twenties/early thirties has hit me full force, I have put on a couple of dozen pounds since then. My hair is graying more and more. It takes me more time every day to get up and walk without pain in my lower back (which is based solely on the fact that my entire adult life has always involved jobs with a lot of heavy lifting). My eyes seem a bit more sunken, I have wrinkles when I smile, the list goes on and on. Still, it was a nice compliment…If only I could feel like I was still twenty…

• The plumbing issues that I have been discussing since Christmas have been mostly taken care of since last Monday. I have additional parts at the ready to replace the rest of it throughout the house, but I have yet to do so. I had put off filling back in the ditch that houses the new pipe for a week, just to make sure that there weren’t any leaks, not to mention that we have been getting a hell of a lot of rain down here which kept leaving the hole partially filled with water, and the dirt I needed to put back weighing in at double what it did dry. I did take care of that yesterday, man it was a lot of work.

Let this be a lesson to all of you; If you are going to dig a ditch at your house for the purpose of plumbing, fill it back in ASAP. For some reason, most likely the fact that it had been wetted and dried so many times, the dirt was just about the consistency of nearly dry concrete by the time I started to fill the hole back in. It was so thick and heavy that I was afraid to try to do heaping shovelfulls for fear that I would break the shovel’s handle. The dirt was only like that for the first couple of shovelfulls from the mound though, unfortunately, that meant for each section of the mound. All forty feet of it. I initially started filling in a section of the trench completely, then moving forward to the next section. Problem was it was so hard to do the first couple of of throws each section that I feared I wouldn’t be able to get it all done if I continued in that manner. When I finally decided to just do the hardest part all the way down it started to go a bit better, except that by the time I was done with the hard packed stuff my arms were like jello. Fortunately for me the rest of it went it pretty easily, I just used the shovel like a rake/hoe and scooped it in (which would have been a much easier endeavor if I owned a rake or a hoe. I do own both of those, but the rake is a ‘leaf rake’ -yes, an absolute must own in a desert, when you have nothing with leaves-, and the hoe is a children’s toy that is about three feet in length. Both of them were at the house when I bought it, I never really thought I would need real ones). I finished that by about 10:30a.m. yesterday, and that was it for me as far as any sort of physical labor.

My plan had been to fill in the hole, then go ahead and replace the copper lines in and out of the water heater, you know, baby steps. If I do a little bit of the plumbing every weekend I will have it all done over a couple of weeks instead of waiting until something else breaks. Much like any plan I ever have, it all went to hell. Each process is always way harder than anticipated and usually takes twice the time I think it will. I will say again, though, that I really think the hard part is done now. Which I am not even sure I believe. Considering that I said that after I dug the ditch, after I ran the pipe under the sidewalk, after I drilled the hole through the wall for the pipe (both times), after I had the main water line run into the shed, after my father-in-law helped me tie it back into the existing plumbing, and now that the ditch is filled back in. That makes it quite a few times that I had speculated that the hard part was over, only to find that there was more ‘hard part’. I fear that every damn thing is going to be the ‘hard part’. When you live in a house that is more than a century old, you really should expect that things are not going to be as easy as they would be if you lived in a mobile home. Funny how I can say it, but I never believe it.

Enough about plumbing.

• The rest of Sunday was pretty much consumed by the damn Roller Coaster game. I would probably have felt pretty guilty about wasting away the day in that manner were it not for the fact that my wife was sitting right next to me playing it on the other computer. I don’t know what it is about these little ‘simulation’ games that sucks me in, but they always do. The wife actually seems to be a lot better at the game than I am. She can play the scenarios through while maintaining a near perfect park rating, while I am usually struggling to keep it at the 60% or 70% that is required. I am going to attribute that to her being a girl. Girls have, it seems, a knack for design (not the rides, but in general) that makes them far more suited for this type of game. While I use the ‘throw the shit wherever you can fit it in’ method, she kind of seems to think about it a bit more logically. I am not sure if she is going for an aesthetically pleasing layout, but I am sure that she does a lot better at the park layout than I do.

I can still be proud of the fact that I make damn near the most sick, sadistic coasters available. Well, not judging by the ones that they have on exchange on the RCT website, but I am getting better.

Roller Coaster Tycoon

It seems that the little ‘Roaler Coaster Tycoon 2: Triple Thrill Pack” Christmas gift has been a heck of a lot more entertaining than I could ever have imagined. I seem to have pissed away the last couple of weeks just trying to figure out how to build bigger, better, faster and more exciting coasters. While I still would not consider myself an actual ‘Tycoon’, I would say that I have a foot pretty firmly into the door of being a “Roller Coaster Mutual Fund Investor”, which obviously doesn’t carry the same punch as ‘Tycoon’, and which is also a bit confusing.

Much like in any game you play, I began to get bored with just following through the scenarios and trying to achieve whatever goal was necessary. I had noticed as I was playing along that my initial attempts at free form coasters were all rating as ‘extreme’ with nausea ratings to match, all the while having a pretty low excitement level. After a bit of guess and check work, I was able to determine that you get really high ratings in those areas when you put curves after very large drops, especially so if the curves were not banked. I did correct that in the course of the scenarios, but, I kept it in mind for the purpose of experimentation outside of gameplay.

One of the single best features of the second RCT game is that it gives you a coaster builder section. This section allows you to build a coaster without the obstructions in the actual scenario, and, more importantly, without wasting valuable time in the actual scenario. They let you save the coaster, then load it directly into your scenario later, provided you have enough cash to do it. This was the most educational part of the game for me, at least as far as learning how to make a ride that will attract people, and thus help me to win the scenarios. However, I am a pretty sadistic little bastard. I began to wonder just exactly how extreme a coaster could get; how much g-force they would let you build into the coaster and still be able to test and open it. That has really been the most fun part of the game.

To your right you will see the test data from my latest sadistic coaster. I am kind of proud of the 22.51 intensity rating, since the ratings seem to be loosely based on a 1-10 scale with anything over ten being extreme, or extreme with an adjective. The nausea rating doesn’t matter to me all that much, that is the whole point of the ride, isn’t it? If you want to go on a coaster and not feel sick, I am pretty sure they have those baby coasters out there somewhere. It is the G-Force ratings on this one that I am pretty proud of. The lateral G’s are because it is a launced coaster (meaning it is shot out of the gate as opposed to being pulled), and at damn near 5 G’s I am pretty sure that this alone would take your breath away. The negative vertical G’s is there only because they wouldn’t let me launch the thing downhill, meaning I had to make a hump which led into the huge drop. The positive 9.95G is the one that I am most proud of though, I mean, damn!

I can’t seem to find any conclusive proof regarding the subject, but I have heard that without the aid of a special suit pilots will start to black out at around 6G’s. Whether or not that is true doesn’t really matter though. Just imagine going a carnival ride like the “Gravitron”, which only does 3G’s, and multiply that by 3. I couldn’t move my appendages forward while riding on the gravitron, and it almost felt like the skin on my face was starting to slip off. If the forces were three times that amount, I likely would have been, at the very least, a bit sick. Man that is a lot of G-force.

The really sad part is that I may never know just how the ride would affect little pixelated sprites, as I have put that coaster into a couple of different scenarios and have yet to have a single passenger. Isn’t there some little, pixelated sprite out there that is being egged on enough by his little, pixelated friends that he has to ride it? If there is I have yet to find him.

I really should try to come up with something more interesting to put here, but the roller coaster game is calling me again. It is really a damn shame how easily I can get addicted to these mindless little games.

Hopefully I will have actual content here next post. Hopefully.

Plumbing disaster

Well it seems that I decided to go ahead and take another week off of posting. Not that it was a conscious decision, just something that I noticed when I was uploading my last post to the archives. It seems that time goes into a bit of a warp during the holiday season. Either that or I was abducted by aliens and am actually typing this only a few hours after I last posted. The former seems more likely.

So, Happy 2005! I can honestly say that I don’t know where the last few years have gone. The last new years celebration that I can remember is the one leading into 2000. That is not due to the alcohol either. I think it is because that was the last time the wife and I actually went out to celebrate it, really celebrate it anyway. Not to mention that everyone made such a big deal out of it, being the changing of a millenia (if you choose to view it that way, since technically the next year would be the actual change). Which really doesn’t make a lot of sense when you think about it. They could have picked any arbitrary day throughout human civilization to start counting, they simply chose that one, now we celebrate it as if it is the day the universe were formed, which it clearly isn’t (except possibly to the very religious; though they don’t even seem to know exactly what year God finished the only week of work he has done is his fictional, omnipotent life). Yes, anyway, Happy New Year!

• Now on to the plumbing disasters!

A couple of weeks ago I began to talk about the plumbing disaster. Unfortunately, the situation sat in limbo until yesterday. It had to be fixed yesterday, regardless of cost in money or loss of limb, but I will get to that later.

Since this happened during the holidays, not a single one of the people that were supposed to come by to help ever did. This annoys me to no end. It is not like the people in question are really close friends, but they are people that I have done favors for in the past. Of course one doesn’t do favors for people expecting a favor to be returned, but when you are in a crisis and they are in a position to help, and choose not to, it really makes you think twice about the possibility of helping them later. Spite can be very powerfull, it seems.

The water situation had been getting progressively worse every day since the last mention of it. It was at a point where I would have to go out and turn the main water supply on and off at the meter when we needed to use it. Honestly, that wasn’t all that much of a hardship, but it was monumentally annoying. Imagine my wife trying to cook Christmas dinner, while I had to go out and turn the water on when she needed to use it. It was also pretty embarassing in that respect. I am a thirty year old man, I should be able to deal with such trifles on my own, instead I was feeling all but helpless. Especially since the water meter doesn’t shut off completely, meaning that even while it was off the situation was getting worse, and with the hardware stores opened really screwy hours due to the holidays, even if I had the knowledge to do it myself I likely wouldn’t have been able to buy the parts.

By Saturday the situation was pretty bleak. I turned on the water only long enough to jump into the shower and wash my hair. By the time I got back out to turn it off, the leaky pipe had managed to fill the 35+ foot trench that I had dug for the new line, nearly to the top. Being that the trench was fourteen inches deep, that was a lot of water. That was when I knew that there was no way I could turn the water on again, for any reason, until it was fixed. It was also that night that I once again spoke to Danny Padilla, who swore that he would come over just after church on Sunday to help me. He never showed, of course.

At 8:45am on Sunday, I went out to start the work. The first thing that I had to do was drill a second hole through the 18 inch thick brick, mortar and adobe wall. The first hole happened to come out exactly where an existing pipe was running and there was no way to get a connector on the new pipe, as it was far too close to the wall. The problem with drilling the hole is that your average drill bit isn’t 18 inches long. In fact, it isn’t even 8 inches long. They do make bits that are that long, and in the size that I needed, I priced one at the hardware store, it was 53.95, and it would not have worked with a standard 3/8″ drill anyway. What I had to do was buy a drill extension and use the largest masonry bit that I had to drill a center hole, with five more surrounding it, then find a way to clear out the rest. The cheapest, easiest way to clear out the rest was to use a spade bit, which is meant for cutting through wood, not brick and stone. It was the only option that I had to make the hole the inch and a quarter that it needed to be. There were sparks flying as the little bit chipped away the stone, smoke was coming back as it slowly made its way through the wall. It took almost ten minutes of constant drilling, with a lot of pressure on the bit, but I did get through the wall (again; the first time I drilled it through where it was wet from the leak, it was much easier, that was why I chose that location the first time…Too bad the existing plumbing was in teh way), the spade bit looks a bit more like an arrow than anything else now, I wonder If I could return it.

The hole in the wall was (what I anticipated to be) the second hardest part of the endeavor. With that behind me, I ran the PVC through the wall, slapped on some elbows and connected it to the pipe that I had already run under the sidewalk (If you have never tried to run a pipe under a sidewalk, btw, you really should give it a go sometime, best several hours of your life). Then I went ahead and laid thirty feet of pipe towards the main water hook up, leaving only a short section to make the final connections. Then I went back to the other side of the pipe in the wall and added an elbow and a ball valve, my house would finally have a water shut off! It was at this point that I realized that even though I bought way more connectors than I thought I was going to need, it would likely not be enough. I made the trip to the ACE hardware in neighboring Coolidge to buy more parts.

Funny thing really, when I got to the ACE I started to put parts into a basket. At first I was putting in just the parts that would be necessary if all went well, then I decided I better figure out the worst case scenario and make sure to have enough parts for that as well, since the worst case is usually where I always end up. Good thing I did too. (Much on a side note, I knew that PVC was cheap, but I had no idea just how cheap. While planning the worst case scenario, and buying the necessary parts for it, I went ahead and bought enough pipe, connectors and the such to replace the entire cold water line in my house. Total cost, twelve bucks, added to the twelve that I had already spent, so, 24 dollars to replace the cold water line from the meter to everything in the house. That is counting only the PVC though, the connectors that you need to actually hook into the faucets and water heater are far more expensive. In fact, I bought the connectors for the hot and cold lines in and out of the water heater today, brass nipples and copper pipe, for a total of 36 dollars. The only other expensive parts are the angle stops that let you shut off the water to the toilet, or the faucets under the sink, but those only go three or four bucks, so still not that much.) Back home I went, hoping that I hadn’t missed my plumber friend.

Mr. Plumber friend didn’t show up while I was gone, and not after I got home either. I whiled away a bit of time playing roller coaster tycoon, but by 12:30 I knew I had to get going or it wouldn’t get done. I went out to the water meter and, very apprehensively, cut the main water line. I made a major mistake on that; I had to make two cuts and I cut the higher one first. Being that the water doesn’t shut off completely at the meter I had to make the second cut underwater, as I could not pail the water out of the hole fast enough to keep it from being submersed again. Even after I had made both cuts (leaving just enough room that I could get an elbow onto the main line, completely bypassing the old one), I had to dig the hole quite a bit deeper to allow me to try to glue the connectionw while they were not underwater. With all of the connections made to the water meter, I went to check my newly installed ball valve. As hoped/expected, the water started to stream out of it within about a minute. Now, PVC glue is not meant to be used on wet pipes, so I didn’t want to actually shut off the valve and build up pressure in the line, so I loose-fitted a line to the shut off that ran ten feet away from the whole situation. I let it run like that for about an hour, just long enough that I was confident that the pvc cement would be able to hold the little bit of pressure it would be getting when I shut off the newly installed ball valve. For the first time in several weeks I had no water leaking on my property, of course I also had no way to shower or wash my hands. It was time for the hard part.

Several calls to the plumber friend had gone unanswered, and I had already cut the main water line and spliced into it, we had no running water until this was done. I decided to bite the bullet and try to make the most difficult connection myself. The problem there was that I had to try to cut through the old galvanized line, twice, to remove an elbow so that I could splice back into the indoor plumbing. The problem was worsened by the fact that 1) my hack saw blades were worn to shit, and 2) The most difficult connection was directly behind the water heater, leaving about six inches of workspace. I started sawing away with my little hacksaw, and sawing, and sawing. I spent about a half an hour trying to make just one of the cuts and I knew that it was just not going to happen. What I didn’t know then, which I do now that I have showered, is that I bloodied three out of eight exposed knuckles while trying, two on the right hand and one on the left. It was at this point that my wife suggested three things, 1) That we call her dad to see if he could help. 2) That I go to Circle K (kind of a code for buy some beer). 3) That I leave it alone for a while.

Turns out that she was right on all three counts. The father-in-law happened to have a Reciprocating Saw (most people call them sawzall, regardless of the brand), which was exactly what the operation required. I had a couple of malt beverages while awaiting his arrival, which really did soothe the anxiety a bit, and I wasn’t nearly as pissed off at the plumbing when he got here. It seems that the more angry you are, the less likely you are to deal with things rationally, or something. I am starting to believe all of those “temporary insanity” claims on murder charges might be at least partially true; I was going to kill the plumbing, and I really doubt that I was thinking that as a sane person.

The reciprocating saw couldn’t really fit in the space alloted, so we did have to pull the water heater out. It was probably better that way anyhow, as the natural gas line was actually so close as to be nearly touching the pipe I was trying to cut. Once the water heater was removed, the reciprocating saw took care of the pipe cutting in about one minute, for both cuts. As I look at my little knuckles I can only think that I really wish Mr. plumber friend would have shown up, that saw is quite the time/flesh saver. With the water heater safely outside, the worst case scenario presented itself; The “T” that I was hoping to join into was stuck fast, even though the line itself was loose all the way into the house. Thankfully, I had purchased all of the parts necessary to replace the whole damn thing. Within an hour (after the water heater was drained) we had it all hooked back up.

There are a couple of extremely minor leaks in the finished product, but I did purchase parts to fix them. I have yet to actually do that though, since I plan to replace all of the rest of the plumbing over the next couple of weekends. One drop of water per minute doesn’t really qualify as a leak in my books anyway, at least not when I think about what I was facing just a couple of weeks ago.

There are a couple of upsides to this whole thing, well at least one. Replacing that line has made it so that we have much better pressure on the hot water line, to the point that you can actually fill up a bath in less than three hours! Further upsides will come when I replace the rest of the existing water lines, but now that I have a main shut off valve, I am going to do that an hour or two at a time, on the weekends, so that I don’t stress myself out so much as I have done over this.

Finally, for plumbing related issues, it has been raining all damn day. That makes it so that I don’t want to go out and slop mud back into the water-filled trench to cover up the pipes. Is this proof that there is a GOD, and he really, really hates me?

To be fair, I really must thank my father-in-law for helping me when I really needed it. I guess they say that that is what family is all about. I wouldn’t really know. What I do know is that my wife’s father was the one that was here to help after all friends and acquaintances who said they would help didn’t. I am grateful for that, and I know that if the situations were reversed I would have done/will do the same.