Thursday, December 13, 2007 | 0 Comments

Well, it looks like I have been so busy lately that I even missed a huge milestone for my blog--
20,000 visits!!

I know just how to celebrate -- I'm going to get up early Saturday morning and help my friends move! Yeah, there really is no better way to reward yourself than to get up early on your day off and carry heavy things in the snow.

But seriously, I've got to do something. Can't think now. Brain is fried. Perhaps you, my fine looking readers, could give me some suggestions?

In the meantime I will leave you with the post that has BY FAR brought the most hits to my blog via search engines:

Energy Efficiency

Why don't they combine wind & solar power by putting solar panels on wind mills?


Lyvvie said...

I suggest cake!!

Congratulations!Many more!

Leon J. de la Garza said...

energy efficiency..

something i care about..
mostly the "not polluting" part.

if i had enough money, id put solar panels here in my house.. we definetely get our share of sun..!


you should....uh.. rock all night maybe? to celebrate?
i dont know..

have a good one

Michael Manning said...

Congratulations, Sylvana! And I can tell you frommoving across 6 states that wind and solar power is the future. Have a nice celebration!

"AG" said...

Merry Christmas, Sy!!!!!!!!!!!!

SierraBella said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Shannon said...

Merry Christmas!!

Heather said...

Hope you had a nice Christmas!

I suggest buying yourself something nice to celebrate then post pictures of it so we can all see!! Congrats on reaching 20k!

Sylvana said...

Hope you all had a great holiday season. I myself have been WAY TOO BUSY!! And I didn't even get to celebrate my blog milestone yet!

But, that may change shortly...

Wacky Wisconsin

Thursday, December 06, 2007 | 0 Comments

Crandon man bail set for donut truck theft

SSB called me at work when he heard this on the radio. This has got to be the most classic news story that I have ever heard! Apparently the guy from my neck of the woods was in Madison, got drunk, went into an Open Pantry, shoved some giant pickled sausages down his pants, was asked to leave and did so, stole a donut truck outside the store, did some laps around the parking lot, led a large group of police cars on a chase around the westside of Madison, came back to the parking lot to do a few more laps, and finally rammed the truck into a median. Could you imagine seeing this scene? All while the chase was going on, donuts were flying out the back of the truck and raining down on the chasing cop cars! Hilarious!

OK, I know car chases and drunk driving are dangerous, but you have to admit, this is still very funny!

Here's the story from Madison's "Capital Times" :

Mike Miller — 11/29/2007 3:33 pm
Cash bail of $2,100 was set today for Warren G. Whitelightning of Crandon, the man who allegedly led police on a high-speed chase through Madison's west after stealing a Krispy Kreme Donut truck when he was drunk early Saturday morning.

Whitelightning was officially charged in Dane County Circuit Court today in a criminal complaint alleging several offenses. He is being charged with shoplifting eight giant red hot pickled sausages from the Open Pantry on University Avenue, stealing the doughnut truck, ramming a University of Wisconsin Police car, attempting to elude pursing officers, operating after revocation, his fourth time drunk driving, and a hit and run.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Verveer conceded that the scene described in the criminal complaint of several squad cars chasing a donut truck around the west side could elicit laughter from many.

"Because what you have is two different police agencies chasing the defendant in a stolen Krispy Kreme donut truck with donuts flying out of the back of the truck," he said.

But he said the episode, "really is a danger to the community given the great recklessness of this stunt."

Verveer said the chase was captured on tape by video cameras in the pursing squad cars and predicted the tapes would hit the popular YouTube web site when they are released to the public. "But the truth of the matter is the defendant could have badly hurt members of the community with his reckless driving."

The episode began, according to the criminal complaint, when Whitelightning stumbled into the Open Pantry about 3 a.m. Saturday and went to the aisle where pickled sausages were. As the store clerk watched, Whitelightning pulled his hoodie up over his head and turned his back on the clerk, and dropped a box of the giant pickled sausages on the floor. He next took two six packs of beer and put them on the counter, then turned around. The store clerk took that opportunity to put the beer behind the counter and asked Whitelightning to leave, which he did.

Moments later, the clerk and Krispy Kreme driver watched as Whitelightning drove the truck around the parking lot twice then left on University Ave. Police were called.

Several officers were involved in a subsequent chase on University Avenue at speeds which at times reached 80 mph on University Avenue and lesser speeds on nearby residential streets.

At the corner of Kendall and Chamberlain Avenues, it appeared the truck had stopped. When University Officer Aaron Chapin stopped behind the donut truck, Whitelightning suddenly put the truck in reverse and backed toward Chapin. Chapin could not get out of the way because other officers were approaching, the complaint says, and Whitelightning rammed the truck into the squad car at about 10 to 15 miles per hour. Officer Chapin suffered neck and back injuries in the wreck and was treated at UW Hospital.

The chase ended when Whitelightning, going outbound on University in the inbound lane, suddenly crossed a cement median and nearly overturned, then sped on Locust Drive and stopped in a Copps Food parking lot. Whitelightning got out of the truck and lay down in the parking lot until police handcuffed him and put him back on his feet.

If convicted of all counts, he would face up to 9 1/2 years in prison on the felonies and an additional 26 months on the misdemeanor counts. Whitelightning also faces several traffic citations.

Go here to see the full video!!


Lyvvie said...

Maybe he thought the police would be distracted by the donuts and quit the chase??

SierraBella said...


Irb said...

Wait. His name is Whitelightning? Seriously?


Shannon said...

It's stories such as these which make me proud to come from Wisconsin.

Leon J. de la Garza said...

hehehehe.. that is funny, i can't say no..
it's been i a while since i heard from yoU!

everythink A-OK?
cool.. hope so..

i uploaded an english podcast today, if you feel like listening..

anyway, have a great rest of the week!

Sylvana said...

Lyvvie, as I watched the video I kept expecting that very thing to happen.

Sierrabella, exactly!

Irb, yeah, that is his name. I especially like that they threw in the "G.". The name sounds like some writer of great classic literature -- or a drunk guy that steals a donut truck.

Shannon, Wisconsin definitely has a very good sense of humor!

Leon, I'm around -- barely, but still here. Working 70 hours a week doesn't leave much time for blogging :( I will try to stop by to hear the podcast. It's always fun to hear how the people I meet on the web actually sound!

Anonymous said...

The story could only have been better if his name was "Donut G. Whitelightning."

Hey, all the best to you and your crew there Sy.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 26, 2007 | 0 Comments

I hope you all had a fabulous turkey day. I did. I'm still eating turkey.

JD is now officially 15. He spent his birthday shopping to burn the cash presents that he got from his party and relatives. He bought video games and mechanical pencils. He's a chip of the ole geek.

He's growing up so fast. At the beginning of the year he was still shorter than SSB & I, and now he is closing in on 6 feet tall! His clothes are like electronics -- as soon as you leave the store with them, they are obsolete.

He is getting straight As in school, even while taking honors classes. He actually said that his honors science was very much like the science he took while homeschooling -- over 4 years ago!
But he likes that he knows the stuff, it makes all the social things he needs to keep up on that much easier to deal with.

We went to my parents' house and had a big dinner. There aren't too many things that my mom cooks well, or even to the point of being remotely edible, but I always look forward to her Thanksgiving stuffing. Yummy!
My dinner contribution was pumpkin pie I made from scratch from pumpkins I grew in my garden, because I'm awesome like that.
(keep checking the "Sylvana Recipes" menu, cause if your good, I might just post the recipe!)

And, I finally got to spend some quality time with my friend, Punky. We went bowling, shopping and then out to eat. It was great to actually get together and DO something rather than sitting around talking. It is very hard to keep a good friendship going on just talk.

While we were out, her 12 year old daughter called almost every half hour to see when she was coming home. Punky complained that her family never gave her a moment to herself. I told her that she would have to TAKE time. Like, for instance, quit answering your phone!!
Later that night, her daughter actually convinced her aunt to drive her an hour to the city that we were in to find us. She faked illness, but immediately after we picked her up from where they had stopped to call Punky on their cell phone, she was begging to stop for food. We teased her all the way back about how she missed her mom so much that she hunted her down. And I teased Punky. She can complain all she wants about no privacy, but I know she LOVES feeling needed.

The last day of our holiday, we took my grandma out to eat at the bar and grill that I worked as a teenager. The food was still great -- and the dining room was now non-smoking! Yeh, all the way up in the boonies of the Northwoods! It was good to spend some extra time with her. She has a mischievous sense of humor that I love. I even got to see some very old pictures of her, her family and friends.

This Thanksgiving was definitely one of the best I have had in a long time!


sideshow bob said...

I liked going out to eat with Gramma...we should do that every time.

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Sylvana
Its fabulous news to hear about your talented son, now 6 feet tall who’s getting straight A’s. I can remember vividly a time when you were dragging yourself off to school, (I think he was 12/13 at the time) in a state of frustration to discuss certain concerns with the teachers/ school etc. So congratulations to you & yours /family
Best wishes

Leon J. de la Garza said...

it's been a while!

When i was 15 i was a mess at school..
hehe.. I didn't really care about it.

But ever since i entered college i got very good grades!
We dont use the "A,B,C" grading system over here, its a "percentage" thing.. you know 90/100, 40/100, i finished college with about 92/100 average grade.

Wich i believe rocks!

anyway, good to hear you had a good time! :)
I've been very busy lately.. umm.. with work.. and things of that sort..

hope you are well..

Heather said...

That's awesome about your son!! You must be very proud!

I have a friend whose family won't leave her be when she's out with me. Her cell phone rings every 30 minutes or so...and it's her mom 75% of the time just wanting to tell her something she saw on TV!!

Sylvana said...

SSB, way better than sitting around at her house looking at millions of pictures of all my cousins' thousands of kids!

Lindsay, the high school teachers LOVE him! Most kids by high school have become sullen, bitter education-haters. But JD enjoys learning and participates actively in class.

Leon, those are very good grades. The percent converts easily as the A,B,C system is based on percents. 92% would be an A in most letter grade systems.

Heather, I think it is kind of rude to continually answer your phone while out with someone. Maybe you should do it to her some day.

Bathroom Tiling - Day 32

Sunday, November 11, 2007 | 0 Comments

Mortaring the tile took a lot longer than we had thought it would. This was mostly because the sheets that we had were not laid square or evenly at the factory, so our layout got almost 1/2" skewed!!

Being the miracle engineer that I am, I was able to re-align the tiles so that you would never even notice.This involved stripping most of the rest of the tiles off the sheets and laying them in singly without spacers. Sounds like a mess? IT WAS!! I had to forgo the knotched trowel for the most part to ensure that I had enough mortar behind the tile. And mortaring single tiles resulted in the mortar getting everywhere.

But they cleaned up nice and all was well! Since our tiles had a glossy glaze on the face, the mortar basically wiped off when dampened a bit. It would have been a bitch with unglazed tiles!

We waited 48 hours for the mortar to cure before we grouted. After the first 24 hours we started to clean out the grout joints to make room for the grout. This meant taking a utility knife and scratching out mortar that had squeezed into the joint. The advice we got on this was that the joint needed to be at least 2/3 cleaned of mortar. This process took a lot of time, took a lot of blades, and created a lot of blisters. I did find that the carbide cutter that we had bought to cut the Hardibacker worked very well in removing the mortar -- however, it was also quite effective at chipping and scratching the tile. So I used that in bigger grout joints and areas where I could keep steady control over it and used the utility knife for the rest.
The grout went rather well. FYI - the grout mixed should be about the consistency of soft peanut butter. There were a lot of differing opinions on this on the forums that we were consulting, but peanut butter is definitely the way to go.

Hometime has an awesome video showing how to grout. We followed that pretty much to the letter and it worked.

We did have a mysterious problem with the grout we noticed shortly after finishing. The first half of the grout we laid in was sinking. It was well below where it should have laid. We considered mixing some more grout to go over it right away, but after consulting the forums again, we decided against it. I basically said - Screw It! It will just have to be low! We went to the high school play that JD had helped work on (he was an usher during the play -- very handsome and gentleman-like, and he built the sets -- they were beautiful! Hmmm... construction is in the blood, I think). When we came back and looked at the grout, it had strangely enough expanded back to where it should have been. I really have no clue what happened but I am so glad that we don't have to scratch it all out and redo it!

The new flange gave us a little bit of trouble. It would not sit flush (no pun intended) with the finished floor. We chiseled a little bit of material out of the floor around the flange, and bingo! it fit perfectly. Then it was just a matter of tightening the bolts evenly around the flange until they were tight and the rubber gasket was sufficiently compressed.

We had to turn down many a fine proposal for fun making in this fine November weather - but it was well worth the sacrifice -- WE HAVE A TOILET!!!

Isn't it beautiful?
It brought a tear to my eye.


Leon J. de la Garza said...

everything seems to be going about smoothly..

I see you now have a toilet, so you wont have to go to you neighbor anymore :P
Must be nice..

What can I say... umm.. there is really nothing new or interesting around here.. so..

I'm just visiting..
But do me a favor would ya?
Have yourself a great rest-of-the-week!

Sylvana said...

Leon, thanks. It is so nice to have our toilet back! And I was relieved to see that the tiling actually looked the way I had imagined!

You have a great week&end too!

pastamasta said...

Haven't seen anyone cry with joy over the existence of a toilet since my great-granny moved out of her 18th-century backyard-loo house in South Wales. It's very moving. ;)

Michael Manning said...

Better you than me. That is damn HARD work in my opinion. You did a fabulous job!

Sylvana said...

PastaMasta, if ONLY we had a backyard-loo during this! But in a sense, I guess our neighbor's bathroom was ours! :)

Good to see you around again, BTW!

Michael, hard work, but well worth it! And thank you for the compliment. Just a few more details to go and we will have a bathroom we can be proud of.

We're Tiling!!

Monday, November 05, 2007 | 0 Comments

We have made some very good progress since the last bathroom post.

We were able to get all the Hardibacker mortared in place. It is very important to mortar the backer into place if you are going to tile to reduce the amount of movement on the underlayment to keep things from cracking or popping. We used a 1/4" notched trowel for this job -- and as it turned out, we would be using the same size for our tiles. You have to be careful with mortar as once you get it mixed, you have a very limited time to work with it. It is very important to be sure to wipe down the mortaring surface with a wet sponge before laying out the mortar for two reasons: 1. all loose material/dust needs to be removed; 2. mortar need to be moist to cure properly and you want to be sure that the surface that you are using the mortar on isn't going to suck the moisture out of the mortar. Cement board is thirsty so we wiped more water on the cement board than we did the plywood. We laid out the mortar one sheet's worth at a time. Then using Backer-On screws (special screws made just for the Hardibacker product - they go through like butter and even countersink themselves!) that were just long enough to go through the Hardibacker, mortar, and then sink nearly but not all the way through the 3/4" plywood, we screwed the board down every 8" while the mortar was still wet. We read that we could walk on it right away but we still had to wait at least 24 hours before tiling.

We used the time to try to figure out a starting point for tiling. We also needed to make sure that we had enough tiles for the job, so we laid out the whole room.

Ooooo, ah! That's what it will look like when it is all finished! Isn't it lovely?
Oh, well. Enough dreaming.

We tried a couple of different layouts but ultimately decided that since the doorway was going to be the most prominent part of the room, we would start there. We squared up a line of tiles to the threshold and adjusted the layout from side to side until we were sure that we would not end up with funky or small cuts somewhere in the room where it would matter.

As we pulled up the laid-out tiles to make room for mortar, we drew outlines of some of the sheets of tile to give us some lines to go by. This was recommended by all the tiling sites. Funny thing is, they don't tell you how you are supposed to deal with the fact that the mortar most effectively covers any and all lines that you may have drawn!

Even though I am pretty good at eyeing up things, we used spacers. It helped to keep tiles from shifting when we laid new ones in and it gave us piece of mind that our tiles were in the right spot in our layout. Although many packages say that you can leave the spacers in place and grout over them, we both decided that this did not sound like the best way to do it as the grout would not stick well to plastic spacers. So, we put the spacers on end in order to be able to pull them up later. This is called "tombstone style".
We mixed small batches of mortar. It should have the consistency of cake batter. We used the 1/4" notched trowel to lay a bed of mortar to set the tiles in. First you kind of scrape a layer of the mortar into an area using the flat side of the trowel, then you get a good amount of mortar to notch in the area. The tiles should be wiggled into the mortar to ensure good contact.

Once the mortar is firm, take a small plastic putty knife to scratch the mortar out of the grout lines and then wipe mortar of the surface of the tiles with a damp rag. The mortar must be removed before it hardens or you will be trying to chip it out with a chisel! Depending on your tile type, you might be able to wait until the next day to wipe the mortar off the tile face.

This is as far as we got this weekend. We spent quite a few hours Saturday hunting down the right size tile spacers, and Sunday we went to our neighbors to replace her kitchen faucet while she was out visiting her parents. She's in for a nice surprise when she gets home and sees her brand new, beautiful faucet where the old, corroded, leaky one was!


Leon J. de la Garza said...


I admire your bathroom building skill!

it does look nice.
Alot of work though.. i didn't know about all that stuff..

and again i was confused with some of the words used in your post... specially "mortar"...
what in the world?

i've heard this word on video games, and it usually refers to a kind of missile launching thing... or is that morter?
hahaha i dont know..

from what i can gather it's something you mix up and put on something else.. haha :P

and dries up very quickly hehehe...

i finished what i had to do here (at work) so i'm freee to wonder around the web for a while..

keep up the good job!
and umm..

that's it

Sylvana said...

Leon, yes, mortar is also an explosive that you launch in battle; but this kind of mortar is actually a cement that sticks things together -- specifically in our case it sticks the tiles to the floor.

Shannon said...

You've inspired me to start a backyard project...building a mini-patio with planter...Um,so far I've dug a trench. :)
Once again, I'm so impressed with your DIY skills!

Shannon said...

I just read Leon's comment- :D ! I remember when I first heard "mortar" for an explosive...I was confused wondering why people used explosives to hold bricks together.

Sylvana said...

Shannon, I'm finally utilizing all those years of watching HGTV while renting ;) Who says that TV isn't educational?

SierraBella said...

Wow, I'm blown away with your mortar skills!

Sylvana said...

Sierrabella, bwhaahahaha!! ;))

Cheshire Tiler said...

It's not easy working with small tiles like those but it looks like the end project will look good. Worth all the hassle in the end.

Sylvana said...

Cheshire Tiler, welcome to my blog! It does look great. I can't believe that we waited so long to do it. And the tile isn't any colder to the feet than the vinyl that was in there before it.

I have to confess, it has been 18 months since we started this project and we aren't completely finished with it yet. It took us about a month to get it just about done, and then as is our way -- we left a little undone for a later date. Maybe this spring.

Slowly But Surely

Saturday, November 03, 2007 | 0 Comments

The work in our bathroom is going a lot more slowly than I had imagined it would take, BUT it is coming along fairly well -- AND I do work 60 hours a week at my jobs, plus try to keep up with my rental business, AND run around like a crazy person for all those last minute things that JD suddenly remembers he has to have done before five minutes from now.

One of these JD events was his annual bowling birthday party. He insisted on having it on the 2nd even though we were still in the middle of the bathroom project. Oh well, that unfinished bathroom wasn't going anywhere and all the kids were already expecting a party on the 2nd, SO...

I spent most of last week scrambling around trying to get all the last minute details together. I had him design the invitations this year. His idea was VIP passes. I came up with the material, but he created the images. They turned out really nice, huh?
The kids LOVED them!! JD said that they thought they were really cool. He also said that he told all his friends how hard I worked on them (I had to print the inserts, cut them to size, insert them into all these plastic covers, cut the lanyard rope, and string them up), what a good boy!

He also came up with the cake design this year. It has become a tradition for the kids to sing "Oh, Canada!" for his birthday, so he decided that this year he'd throw the Canadian flag into the theme. It was a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup DQ cake. YUMMY!!

Everyone had a great time, of course; and the parents were very impressed by it all. I'm already looking forward to next year's party!

BUT FIRST - Lets' get this bathroom done!


Leon J. de la Garza said...

that cake looks nice...!

so you're canadian?
i for some reason assumed you were from the US.

well.. nice nice.. hehe haven't got much to say this time.

I haven't done anything too interesting either.. except work.. n stuff..

so.. be well! :P

Sylvana said...

Leon, although Wisconsin is pretty close to Canada, I am not Canadian.

Leon J. de la Garza said...

Oh, how dumb of me...
hahaha your "About Me" specifically states you are from Wisconsin,United States...

that's just me being very.. umm..
what do you call it..?

can't remember the word, but i just seem to forget details very quickly for not paying enough attention.. hehe :P

Actually i'm very good at things involving logic, like programming, which is what i do..

but im not the best at remembering details hehe..

anyway.. umm.. cool!

"AG" said...

I haven't had DQ since June!

Nice cake and invites!

Sylvana said...

AG, we only have DQ for our birthdays. When I told the kids at the party that we had a DQ cake, their faces went from the usual blank teenage look to a barely containable excitement -- elbowing each other and whispering "Did you hear that? DQ!"

There's P in the Bathroom!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 0 Comments

...and by "P" I mean PROGRESS!

The exterior grade plywood is down. Finally! We wanted to make sure that the subfloor was secure, so, using stainless steel deck screws (to avoid rusting problems), we screwed it every 8" into the joists(which miraculously enough not only were 16" on center, but were 8" wide and a couple were even doubled! That ought to be enough strength for a tile floor!).

After we got all the subfloor screwed in I consulted the forums* about how to stick down the Hardibacker. That's when I read that we should not screw the sub-subfloor into the joists. Tough nuts. It's staying put! I could not find a compelling reason to take up all the screws; go buy new, shorter screws; and re-do the whole floor. They said that there was a possibility of conflicting floor expansion causing popping/cracking in the floor. I will take my chances. I have seen tile jobs done in far worse conditions that are still looking fairly good years later.
I also read on the forums all these boo-hoos about the Hardibacker being impossible to score and snap. They were suggesting power saws -- which the manufacturer specifically says to avoid because of silica dust. I got the manufacturer recommended carbide bladed cutting tool and found that all their whining was unfounded. You do have to score it a few times, and we found that spraying the scored area with water really helped; but otherwise, it was simple.

If you ever find yourself in the market for one of these carbide cutters, please do yourself the favor of getting the ergonomic, cushy grip one (as seen here). It is a little more expensive, but OH! So worth it! It allows you to get the right amount of pressure behind your cuts, doesn't rip up your hands, and doesn't slip.

The Hardiboard took a long time to cut because we wanted to make sure that we cut it right the first time. Our walls are not square, which can make matching the shape difficult -- BUT I devised a method to allow us to match the skew of an area.

Using a large square (that's an L-shaped tool that is at a 90 degree angle), square up to any run in the area, draw a line across the area and make your measurements from that line. Take the longest length of one side of the line, measure in from the edge of the material that you will be laying in (I would add in a little extra to make the cutting go easier -- it was kind of a pain in the ass to try to snap off thin bits), square it and draw a line across the sheet. You will then use that line to start all your measurements from -- first from one side of the line and then the next. It really works! (I mean, that is if you had any clue what I just said.)

Look! We have a cut sheet of cement board in place! I feel like tile is just around the corner.

*I found A LOT of tiling forums during this project. SSB and I have been quite entertained and annoyed by them. Story to come later...


Leon J. de la Garza said...

wow, now im more then impressed..
i actually have no idea what you said near the end!

i speak english well.. but i'm not the best in technical english in any aspect..
except maybe computing, which is my field.. hehe

Words i have no clue what they are:
-impossible to score (dont understand "score" in this context)

i think thats it.. hehehe
i assume hardibacker and hardiboard are products... or something.. hehe

anyway..be well
good job!

Sylvana said...

Leon, that's OK. Most native speakers have no clue what any of that is either!

carbide is a kind of very hard metal that keeps a sharp edge for a long time.

Hardibacker/Hardiboard are brand names of cement sheeting/boards.

score in that context means to make a shallow cut to weaken the surface in a specific pattern so that when you try to snap the thing in half, it will follow that cut and you end up with the shape that you need.

a joist is a piece of wood that supports the floor. Cement floors don't need/have joists - the ground supports them.

Leon J. de la Garza said...

waiting for new post...


OldRoses said...

My bathroom floor is in urgent need of replacing and my toilet should also be reseated or whatever it is that you call it when the previous owners did such a piss poor job installing it that not only does it leak, but the seat doesnt' even sit right! Can I hire you guys?

Sylvana said...

Leon, I'm doing my best! ;)

OldRoses, I have a lot of people asking if we could do work for them, but I doubt that they would really want to live with our timelines! Although I guess I have heard some pretty bad stories of contractors taking MONTHS to finish a job IF they even finish it at all!
But we do a fantastic job. That and the low cost are the two main reasons that we do the work ourselves. plus, I just really like to do the work!!

Bathroom - Day 17

Saturday, October 27, 2007 | 0 Comments

After a couple of weeks of seemingly no progress toward a finished bathroom floor, we finally got some things put in as opposed to all the taking out that we have been doing.

The first sheet of plywood was a huge pain in the ass! The first piece I mis-measured and we cut it 1" too short!! I swear I made the measurements 4 times and even had SSB check them. I really don't know what happened. But it was a good thing in the end because while we were redoing the piece, Elle's husband stopped to take the flange off (see previous bathroom post).

The second piece we cut the waste pipe/flange hole too big. This was a matter of us second guessing ourselves. One lesson learned here was "start with more than you think and re-cut if needed". It seems like a lot of wasted time - but starting over from scratch to replace a ruined piece is no example of efficiency either.

The third piece was perfect. We even decided with this piece that we would lose the floor heat vent that we both hated so much.
No, it wasn't because we were to lazy/afraid to make another cut in this piece of wood! We had legitimate reasons for not cutting the hole. The vent was right next to the tub, so it filled with water; it was on the floor so things dropped into it; and the duct was that plastic accordion crap, so every time the heat kicked in all you got was a cold blast of air. Not pleasant when you are in the shower!

As you can see, the plywood makes a substantial difference over the pine boards. In fact, it is starting to look like an actual floor!

I was so excited that I couldn't wait to see what the tiles might look like!

Ooooo! Don't they look pretty? We are still deciding on the grout color. SSB wants sand to imply water on a beach. I wasn't sure if sand would go with the tiles, but it seems to look nice in this picture.

And of course I had to see what the new flange looked like!
It's a shame that this flange will be covered by the toilet; what a pretty color it is!


Leon J. de la Garza said...

seems like toilet is beginning to loook like one :P

Regarding you question,
umm.. i can't speak for the majority, cause, to tell you the truth I don't know..
I myself am not handy at home improvement stuff..
My father is..

I really dont know haha...
But i see your floor is wood..
I think it's easier to handle than the typical cement/concrete houses built in mexico..

I don't really know why the difference..
Maybe because we dont get any earthquakes, tornados or nasty hurricanes..

But yeah.. if your gonna fix the toilet here... you're gonna have to break some concrete...
:P as well as fixing a shower, or pretty much anything.. hehe

anyway, be well..
I was recently able to record again, so i have the "podcast" up on my blog.. hopefully you'll be able to understand somthign hehe..

Shannon said...

I'm, once again, so impressed with your DIY home abilities. If you're ever in Vegas, I can totally put you to work.

BTW- I've been reading your blog but I haven't had time to write a quality comment. Sorry :(

Sylvana said...

Leon, thanks for all the question answering! I am intrigued by your blog - and I even visited it to see if I could read enough of it to understand the posts (comprendo un poco). I am looking forward to practicing my skills!

Shannon, I don't know if you could live with our timeline! ;) We are putzers, even when we are in desparate need of getting it done.

I am guilty of visiting and not commenting lately too. I keep hoping that things will calm down, but then more stuff happens!!

"What Is Going On Here?!"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | 0 Comments

Well, we were robbed again. And this time I was there. I was the first to spot him coming in, but alas, no phone within reach so I couldn't call 911 right away. I tried to get my coworker's attention while she still had time to call, but she didn't hear or understand me in time to call.

I didn't find it scary, I was actually kind of pissed. But I managed to contain myself enough to do exactly what you are supposed to do - NOTHING! I've seen enough COPS to know that desperate people do very, very bad, stupid things if they feel cornered or threatened. You have no idea what the person is on, how desperate they are or what kind of weapons they may have brought with them to get the job done. You give them what they want, get them out the door, and lock it so they can't get back in. That's what you are supposed to do...

My boss, on the other hand, gave him what he wanted then followed him out the door. He was apprehended by an older gentleman in the alley. Thank goodness!! I hope that this is the end of that!

We had the store taped off while the police took evidence and we wrote our statements and customers were still trying to get in!! (we had to keep the doors opened for ventilation as flammable fluids had been used this time too.) One lady walked right past the sign I had outside that said that we were temporarily closed, ducked under the crime-scene tape to come in to see if we were open. I asked her how she could not see the tape that was blocking the entrance. She said that she thought it was a joke. Right... I told her, "For future reference, if you see police tape saying DO NOT CROSS, you do not cross it. If you want to see if we are open, you get a phone and call."

Another lady was pissed because she might have to wait a whole half hour to pick up her prescriptions. I said, "These are special circumstances. We can't help that we just got robbed." DUH!! Most places make you wait that long anyway!

What is wrong with people?

A lady came in, about an hour after we re-opened, with way too much make-up on and a cocky stride. I figured that she was either a drug rep or a reporter, neither of which we needed at the moment. She was a reporter wanting an interview. I told her, "We are directing all questions to the police department. They can give you any information that they deem necessary." She said, "Oh, we intend to talk to them, but--" I said, pointing to the door, "Good, you should go do that." She looked surprised, then started to ask me again about interviewing us and getting some pictures/footage. I said, "Look. we are NOT giving interviews. We will NOT allow cameras in the store. You need to go to the police if you want any information. They are right around the corner."(pointing to the door again). She started to argue with me and I just said, "NO. NO. NO. I'm saying NO! Do you understand that word?" She gave me a look of disgust and threatened to film the outside of the building and get interviews from our customers. I said, "OK. You go do that." And I pointed to the door. She swung around, motioned to her lackey, and left in a huff.

I like my job, but right now I am seriously considering looking for other options.


Lyvvie said...

Did she have a Quick Quotes Quill too?? Geez, what a mess. Such a hassle of the job. It shouldn't be that way. And who was this mysterious stranger who tackles robbers in alleys?? What a(dumbfuck) Hero!

Have really enjoyed your "This Old House" series, fantastic!

Heather said...

I can't believe people - walking through the police tape? That's insane! I'm sorry you had to deal with all that!

Leon J. de la Garza said...

Some crazy stuff...
i've never witnessed any kind of crime...
or not least not that i can remember..
i actually dont know where you work or what you do...

I work at an office, no costumers... just the team, programming.

so, not many chances of getting robbed..

anyway.. it's good that everything turned out alright!

Leon J. de la Garza said...

oh and.. yeah..
you'd be surprised how "americanized" Mexico is (at least the big cities).. (about your home depot question)

"AG" said...

YES, I think you should look for another job. Your safety is #1!

People have such an astonishing sense of entitlement, don't they? Robbers, customers & reporters.

Lyvvie- Yay for (dumbfuck) heroes!

Sylvana said...

Lyvvie, you know, I wouldn't doubt that!! She was the type.
I thought the guy that tackled the robber was a (dumbfuck) hero too, but I'm sure he wasn't even thinking. He heard some lady yell, "Get that guy!" and he just reacted.

I am SO glad to hear that someone enjoys the DIY posts! We often joke that we should do our own show. We could do a web-cam show. I can guarantee that it would be FAR different than any that you would see on TV.

Oh, and can we come visit you when you move? :))

Heather, as if it weren't bad enough that we were robbed, then we had to deal with idiots like that. I was exhausted by the end of the day!

Leon, I knew someday I would witness a crime. I was always afraid that I would be completely useless as far as remembering details -- but I actually DID!! I was very proud of myself!

Do a lot of people in Mexico do their own home improvement? When I was in Costa Rica they seemed to be pretty handy around the house.

AG, I was thinking about entitlement. Why does the reporter think that she has some right to the details? Why do those customers feel that they have a right to NEVER having to wait? There was a reason for the behavior of the robber -- he was in crazy addict mood. But those other people were just being inconsiderate. I forgot to mention that a reporter from PioneerPress called to get an interview. I told him the same thing I initially told the lady from the StarTribune. He said, "OK, no problem. I was intending to call them next. I'm really glad to hear that everyone is OK. Have a good day." That's how it should be! I thanked him for his kindness and understanding. It gave me renewed hope for the world.
Up yours StarTribune!!

Lyvvie said...

When I move you can visit anytime, you can visit before we move; Scotland is wonderful. Japan will be wonderful, New Zealand will be wonderful and if I have my way (Which ultimately we women always do) Australia will be the final wonderful in a long list of wonderfuls. Take your pick, or pick them all.

Sylvana said...

Lyvvie, as we should! ;)
And I like all! If only I had the money, I would be there for every move!

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Most people = dumb and dumber. :( It is a sad true phenomenon, the result of educated smart folk having less kids and dumb-dumbs like Britney Spears popping 2 before she turned 25. But anyway, I have my own strong biased opinions on all of that stuff.

Can't believe you were robbed...AGAIN!
Can't believe an old fart was courageous/dumb enough to apprehend the bad guy!
Can't believe people think police tape is a joke. :(

And I agree with Ag; our society breeds people with an unhealthy sense of entitlement. Dumb people, no less.

DUMB = word of the day! :P

The person that owned the house before us had redone the entire bathroom shortly before we bought the place. He was not a very good plumber. He didn't seat the toilet properly and it leaked. We didn't realize it until months later as the moisture was being trapped under the flooring. It wasn't until the staining showed through the vinyl flooring that we realized we had a problem. I reseated the toilet, and at least the leak was solved. I figured that we would get to the flooring in a year or two.

Ten years later...

We started replacement of our bathroom floor about a week and a half ago, and I think we are finally done with the demolition. Although ripping out layers of flooring can be fun, it can also be quite frustrating -- especially when you are doing it in your house's ONLY BATHROOM!

We started by trying to get the vinyl off the underlayment. That was a slow go and we discovered that there were some problem areas with the underlayment. We decided to take up the problem underlayment and replace it.

The guy used ringshank nails and LOTS OF THEM!! In one 3"x24" piece alone he must have used at least 12 of them! So it was a bitch getting it up -- and it got worse. As we pulled up the underlayment, we found even MORE problem areas that would need to be addressed. So we pulled up the whole underlayment to fix them.

After we got all the underlayment off (almost a week after starting thanks to that hammer happy a-hole), we were down to two layers of 1" thick pine planking between us and the joists. And there were a couple of areas in the floor that could not be repaired correctly no matter how we tried to engineer a solution.

SO, we forged ahead to rip out the top layer of 1" planks to replace it with 3/4" exterior grade plywood. That would allow us a sturdy, FLAT subfloor for our tile job.

Most of that was a breeze as the nails had been in the wood for over 100 years. There were a few areas that couldn't be pried out, because they went under the wall. For these areas we used a very sharp chisel and a variety of saws to cut the wood flush with the wall. The saw that we found most useful was a this jamb saw.

Once we got all that wood out the way, we could finally start building it back up. FYI -- the treated plywood at Home Depot sucked!! We got ours at Menards instead.

We had a problem with the cast iron toilet flange. (The flange is the waste pipe fitting that connects to your toilet)The flange is supposed to have support under the lip via the flooring. There was really no way for us to do this properly without taking the flange off the cast iron waste pipe. I checked a few DIY forums and they all said the same thing -- piece of cake. Just wack the flange with a hammer to remove it. Then get a new one, pack with oakum and lead solder it back on. Right, sounds absolutely simple (sarcastic tone implied). Not knowing how hard I could wack the cast iron without breaking the very-expensive-to-replace-cast-iron-waste-pipe, I decided to try and engineer another solution -- but I didn't have to. Flange supports to the rescue! We could just cut the plywood to fit over the flange and use the support kit. Not the most ideal situation, but it would do in a pinch.

The first piece of plywood we cut was going perfectly until the second to last cut out of 7 cuts. I don't know what happened. I measured four times!! It was so depressing I nearly cried. It was a $32 piece of lumber, and it was our best sheet! SSB offered me a hug and then laughed, "Do you think that this happens on construction sites? One of the crew gets upset because they made a bad, costly cut and one of the other guys asks if they need a hug?" It is a funny thought. I bet they really could use them too!

As we were cutting the replacement piece today, Elle and her husband stopped over. Her husband said that he would take a look at our flange for us (he does commercial building maintenance for a living). About ten minutes later, he had the flange removed! YAY!! And they couldn't have come at a better time. SSB was just about to cut the hole in the sheet for the flange. Now we can do it right and no more wood wasted!

I asked Elle's husband about replacement flanges. We went to the computer to find an image of the one that he was trying to describe to me. I showed him a couple of cool plumbing websites that I had found. As we ogled the nifty plumbing gadetry and talked shop, Elle looked over at SSB and laughed, "Boy, we just love to talk about toilets too, right SSB?"

He said that we should be able to find the part in just about any hardware store -- which almost always means "good luck finding that!" Our local hardware store had no idea what I was talking about. And two more hardware stores later without the goods, I was getting the idea that it might be a special order. However, Home Depot redeemed itself by not only having the part, but in cast iron, just like I wanted!
Oh, joy!!

We are still without a toilet, as of yet. Our neighbor has been good enough to allow us to come over to use hers in the meantime. It's great to have such wonderful neighbors and friends. And you know, you really don't know how much you depend on that porcelain device until you don't have one!!


Leon J. de la Garza said...

Well.. just so you know, I'm leon..
I'm actually at work but haven't got much to do right now.. so i came to your blog via Laurie's blog..

I read your whole.. toilet journey..
seems like a total headache... or.. maybe just pain in the ass (literally) :P

I see you bougt some stuff over at home depot...
I'm actually working for them right now, updating their HR system, but i'm in mexico, so i don't know how relevant that is..

i got a blog too.. but it's in spanish.. so i don't know if you'll understand it.. it's a kind of podcast thing... kinda thing..

And last but not least,
i have to say im impressed, i dont know the least bit about how to change a toilet, although i guess in need of doing i'd have to learn how..

have a good one!

Mrs. Loquacious said...

I can appreciate the value of a good toilet. I pee like every hour (small bladder). I'm glad you have a strong bladder and kind neighbours! :)

Sylvana said...

Leon J. de la Garza, welcome to my blog! I do read Spanish a little, but verbal and aural are kind of beyond me.

Are there Home Depots in Mexico?

Mrs. L, believe me, it has been tough on all of us! And with all the crap (no pun intended) that has been going on in my life lately -- who knows when I will see my lovely porcelain friend again!

I tried to get my dad to come down for a visit to get him away from the circus, but he said that he had too much to do, or he was going to go camping. On the surface he seems to be doing fine, but I can tell that this incident is going to trouble him for a very long time. He said that the dad/owner of the building is planning to tear it down and put up a memorial park in it's place. He asked me if I thought he was selfish for not wanting that across from his house. Of course not, actually, as he was telling me about the plans, I had been thinking the very same thing.

I heard that the state AG told the town to stay silent about the incident. I'm with him on that. Everyone is boo-hooing about not being able to drool over the details -- but what gives them any right to know? It is a very private town and this was a very private thing. We all know what happened. Let these poor families grieve in private! They certainly don't need microphones shoved down their throat or to be followed around by camera crews. What happened there really doesn't concern the rest of the world, save for maybe getting better police screening (although I reinterate that this really had nothing to do with him being a cop -- it just incidentally happened to bring up that issue).

Since my parents weren't going to be here this weekend, we went ahead with our plans to tear out the bathroom floor and finally tile the damn thing. We found the perfect tile online and drove down to Dubuque about 5 years ago to buy them. I think it is about time that we actually make use of them.

Saturday was far too nice a day to be inside ripping up rotted bathroom flooring, so I planted most of the 400 spring bulbs that I bought over the last couple of weekends. By the end of the day, my back was sore.

Sunday we actually got to ripping out the flooring. You know what, trying to get vinyl flooring off plywood is a pain in the ass! We ended up just ripping out one whole piece of 1/4" underlayment because half was rotted and half of the other half has nothing under it to support it! And the bastard that put the damn stuff in used threaded nails on everything. What a nightmare. And in the process of trying to get the underlayment out, I pulled something in my back.

My back was still aching and pinching this morning so I got to work a little later than I had intended. SSB gave me a ride since my back was still bothering me. As we were about to turn down the street to the store I told him, "Just drop me off at the street. You know how crazy the parking lot behind the store gets in the morning." As we came around the corner, I could see several cars parked behind the store, some sideways. They were cop cars!! SSB pulled in, and I jumped out to find out what was going on. The cops were being pretty tight lipped, but I did manage to pull out of them that the store had been robbed shortly after opening, everyone was OK, but the guy got away.

Robbed?! YIKES!

Apparently the guy came in the back door with a soda bottle full of some kind of accelerant, poured it all over the floor behind the pharmacist's counter, then approached the cashier's area where he dumped the rest right next to our front end manager, and threatened to light everything on fire if they didn't give him some drugs he wanted. He was completely obscured by gloves and mask so they couldn't get a good description. Elle gave him what he wanted and he left without further incident. Apparently he even said, "Thank you. I'm sorry" after she handed him the drugs.

I always knew in the back of my mind that something like this could happen, I just really didn't ever want that to be true. Elle was really shaken up, but she kept the store open the whole day. The place reeked of whatever he spilled on the floor. We had to keep both doors open just to avoid contact highs.

Our front end manager came up to me after the police let me in the building and said, "You know, I have always said that we should always have some one else here at 8:30am... in the back, just in case something like this happened." She was talking about me. My schedule is very flexible, it has been since the day that I started. It is part of what has kept me at the job. She seems to be very jealous that I can come in later in the morning -- but she forgets that I also stay later at night. How did all this become my fault? So what if I had been there with them? What the hell would I have done? She obviously has heard the tales of my heroics on the bowling lanes; but how would my special powers of loudness get them out of that mess? My mere presence would have probably just pissed him off. I have that effect on people.

I've had my fill of excitement for a while. I would like just one week of no dramatics/tragedy/trauma. Just one week!


sideshow bob said...

Not having a toilet sucks!!!

"AG" said...

That's scary!! I'm glad you weren't there!

Michael Manning said...

Glad you were okay! That's like a scene from "The Twilight Zone". What a crazy world we live in!

At the extreme risk of completely outing my identity, I am going to blog about this because, how could I not?!

I will, however, refrain from using any keywords that might trigger hits from search engines, and I ask that any commenters do the same, because I will delete any that I feel will direct too much traffic to this post. Especially NO NAMES.

Sunday afternoon a friend called to tell me that my home town was on the news. We flipped it on to hear about the horrible crime that had taken place there earlier that morning. SSB immediately went online to find out more.

He said that it happened in an older rental property two blocks from the police department. Well, I could only think of two places that matched that description and one of them happened to be right across the street from my parents' house

I called my sister and she confirmed it - it was indeed that house. She said that she didn't know much more than many people were killed and that it had something to do with a love triangle.

I called my parents who said they had been home at the time, but were OK. They said that they woke up to what initially sounded like someone banging on the windows. Dad quickly figured out what it was once he had a few seconds to wake up. He is a Vietnam Vet. After being in a war, you just never forget a sound like that; it's in you, a part of you. He realized that mom wasn't with him and went looking for her.

My mom had already run to the front porch to see what was going on. She said that as soon as her hand hit the porch door, she knew that it was gun fire, but still went out on to the porch. And he was there, getting into his truck, about 20' from where she was standing! Luckily he didn't notice her. She told me I was the second person to scold her for going out on the porch. I told her, "You hear gun fire, you go in the OPPOSITE direction!"

Dad caught up with her just as the guy was peeling out. They stood there together in bewilderment. The remainder of the minutes that passed I will leave alone out of respect for the privacy of the people involved.

What a tragedy! These kids seemed like such nice kids. They were having a pizza/movie party -- no booze apparently. That's just about unheard of in that town, especially with it being seniors+ and homecoming weekend!

They were just kids. And so was he really. I know a lot of people are concentrating on the fact that he was a law enforcement officer, but he didn't do it because he was a cop. It really was about a guy enraged over a broken and insulted heart.

I just can't imagine what he thought might come from it. Did he think he was going to get away with it? The town has less than 2000 people! He had to have known he would be spotted and recognized by just about anyone.

And even if he wasn't thinking, why the instinctual jump to such a violent solution? He wasn't cornered. His life wasn't being threatened. It was only his pride. Their lives to defend his pride? I don't see the balance there, and I don't know how he could have.

And, no, this is not a good case for gun control. The real truth is there are probably more guns in that town than there are people. And there are more bars than churches. And there are lots of people doing stupid things, a lot of people getting dumped and laughed at, and you know what, we don't shoot people!

And this is not a case of young people with guns. A large portion of the kids 14+ own their own guns. We are a hunting community. Having guns is part of the culture. These kids don't shoot other kids.

It's the person that shoots the person. And, no, I'm not with the N R A. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am a strong leaning liberal. And I am a liberal because I am a very rational person. And being a rational person, I know that when you add all these things up, it is clearly not the access to guns or the person's age causing the problems. It is people -- their attitudes and their emotions.

This is obviously an isolated incident or everyone would have heard about this town a long time ago. Something in this particular guy cracked. Period.

My heart goes out to all the families that lost kids that day. A terrible loss on all accounts.


Astoria said...

I heard about it, and like with anything that happens like this it was first shocking, then as you learn of some of the details, it was so sad. I instantly thought of you, and if you knew anyone who may have been touched by the tragic events. I am glad that your family is safe, and for it to be right across the street, how lucky they are that weren't hurt!

Shannon said...

I'm so happy your mom was safe. I, of course, heard about the incident (interestingly enough I was a the CNN center in Atlanta that day and it was everywhere), and wondered if anyone I knew in WI was affected. I'm happy your parent are ok.

"AG" said...

I thought of you because of the location (state) and am glad you are OK.

Michael Manning said...

In Cincinnati, the first 2 months of 2007 we eclipsed 2006 which was the worst homicide record since 1972. I am so looking forward to leaving shortly!

Sylvana said...

Astoria, the bedroom that we stayed in the time you came with us to visit was the one that over-looked that house.

Shannon, not many people know of the town. I always have to tell them the nearest big town. Oddly enough, the whole thing seems to have blown over in the news even though my dad says that there are still reporters all over town.

AG, up until I heard what my mom had done, I was mostly concerned about my dad -- even though I already knew from the reports that they were not of the victims. My dad was a Marine in Vietnam and still has flashbacks and mental health issues stemming from that. He certainly doesn't need to hear gun shots in the middle of the night!

Michael, Cincinnati seems like it would be such a safe place too. Hope you move some place nice! Good luck!

Astoria said...

Crazy! When I saw the place via the broadcasts I thought it looked familiar, but then I thought I was just thinking I remembered it. It's so crazy what people are capable of, and that love can drive people so crazy! I just hope that for the families involved they are able to find some comfort in the memories of the lost, they were all so young. Uh, it's just so sad!!