Friday, August 29, 2008

My Home Depot Parking Lot Cellphone Experience

It started off as a standard trip to Home Depot. I was planning on getting in, and out as quickly as possible--just enough time to pick up a few 2x4's for a new workbench.

--back story--

Well I should have learned LONG AGO to stop putting my cellphone in my lap when I drive. For some reason I have developed this habit, and frequently when I get out of my car, I forget it's there and it falls to the ground.

-- step forward to Home Depot parking lot--

I step out of my car and I hear the oh-so-familiar sound of plastic hitting pavement. But this time is different. Since I'm picking up lumber, I have my trailer. When I have my trailer, I park at the back of the parking lot where there are plenty of available spaces. At the back of the lot is a curb where there is a sewer drain. This is where my cell phone bounced after hitting the pavement.

I'm in disbelief. Impossible, I think to myself. Possible, I discover. It happened, almost as if by design--like that sewer was the ultimate resting place for my chronically falling phone, and it was finally home. "Are you happy now? Is that where you want to be?" I think, looking into the dark, nasty, oily depths of the drain. Not if I had any say in the matter.

After surveying the situation, I can't actually see the phone to know whether it fell in a puddle of water (or god knows what else). But I know it's in there, and I could at least salvage the SIM card if all else is lost. With this, I decide the best way to approach the problem is to remove the manhole cover above the drain. I'll just go in and buy a steel rod to pry off the manhole. So that's what I do. Somewhat embarrassed, I try to be as low-profile as possible. As I pry, the cover begins to move, but reaches a point where it budges no more. So I step on the rod and start bouncing, but the rod begins to bend. At this point, a man walks over to get a cart that is next to my car. He sees me and inquires about my situation. After a quick explanation, he offers to look in his truck for a better option. He comes back with a slightly larger steel rod, but the same thing happens. I thank him and tell him I don't want to waste any more of his time.

At this point to return to the store, in search of something more beefy. After purchasing a $10 heavy-duty crowbar, I return to the scene. I give it a whirl, but still no budge. Now, I've attracted several curious "day labor" onlookers, and I go up to the largest one (who I'll refer to as "the big dude"), offering $10 for the retrieval of my phone. He says no problem, and comes over. He tries for a minute but no dice. Several others begin to congregate, all asking me questions in various languages. I just point at the drain and give the universal telephone sign. They all have different reactions to this, but most of them join the ten-dollar-sewer-cell-phone challenge. After a few moments of wrestling with the manhole cover, one guy points out the problem that none of us had yet noticed. On either side of the cover, there are security bolts holding it in place.

The big dude, sweating, says "s**t".

The bolts are recessed and have large alan-heads. I make my 3rd trip into the store, and return with a $20 heavy duty alan wrench set.

Big dude is first on the scene. He's tries, unsuccessfully, to turn one of the alan bolts. He tries the other one, to no avail. At this point there are 3 guys on their stomachs reaching their arms into the sewer drain, and now one guy with a blow torch, trying to get the alan bolts to budge. Another walks over with a tree branch. Home Depot security pulls up in a golf cart to ask some questions. After explaining my situation, he sees no threat and allows us to continue.

"Ten Dollars!", I yell, "to the guy who gets my cellphone!"

Spirits are high in Home Depot parking lot. One man will walk away with a crisp 10 spot. At one point I count 18 men gathered around the sewer. A couple street vendors--one selling hotdogs, one selling safari hats-- come and go.

And then one of the guys on his stomach yells that he sees it. The chatter subsides and everyone moves in closer. Holding his arm out behind him, he yells, "get me a broom stick or something!!". One guy hands him the crowbar and the guy yells, "not the crow bar, it's TOO DEEP!!"

And then I remember I have a shovel in my trunk. I pass it to him. The attention is now focused on the guy on his stomach, with my shovel, who seems as if he is performing a surgery. I'm watching and hoping he doesn't drop my shovel. For a moment he struggles, and breathes out in frustration a few times, and finally begins pulling the shovel from the sewer, slowly. Everyone is watching anxiously--the guy with the extinguished blow torch, the guy holding the crowbar, the guy standing there with a tree branch, the hotdog vendor who has returned, and The Big Dude, who is seeing his $10 slowly slipping away. As the head of the shovel nears the surface. It reminds me of a movie where a rescue team is trying to save someone who is buried alive, or a child who has fallen into a well. And there it is. Covered in oil, with several pieces of garbage stuck to it, the phone is handed to me, proudly. I hand the guy with the shovel his bounty, as the others watch in envy. I decide to give The Big Dude, a 5 dollar bill for his efforts.

It's now 1 1/2 hours, $50, and one-nasty-cellphone later that I go in to buy my 2x4's.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Think twice before buying a Pottery Barn rug...

But more specifically, a hand-tufted wool rug. For 2 years I wondered what exactly was causing the musty burnt-rubber smell in our living room. Guests will ask, "What is burning?" on a regular basis. My Dad was convinced we had an electrical problem of some sort. I'd been on my hands and knees several times trying to pinpoint the source of the smell, but now it is official.
Our Pottery Barn rug stinks. It's beautiful, but it stinks. After moving the rug to our den, the odor has also moved to the den. Apparently there is absolutely no way of ridding the smell (not baking soda, not professional cleaning, nothing), as it comes from a latex backing that is used in the rug.

This website explains it all.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Happy Piano

I counted the days that my piano sat neglected, shrouded in stretch wrap, during the den remodel. I'm happy to announce that it is getting more attention than ever now! It's a 1925 Chickering "Quarter Grand" model. Now that the floors are lighter, it really shines proudly in our newly remodeled den.

Window is in!!

Unfortunately, Pella took two weeks longer to deliver our new window than they had initially said, so we were living with cardboard covering a hole in our den for a little longer than anticipated! But the window is awesome, and I'm happy to say that it went in without a hitch!! For 3 days now, we've been enjoying the added light, and an evening breeze in our den. Now that we can see the backyard patio, I'm hoping it will provide a boost of motivation for me to finish that project. Melinda and I found some really cool reclaimed bricks we'll be using as pavers. More on that project soon.

As the window delivery date approached, I had growing fears that the measurements I provided Pella weren't quite big enough and I'd have to open-up the frame a little. Thankfully it was just right .

Yesterday, I milled an interior window stool out of a douglas fir plank, and cut all the interior trim. This window project has given me a lot of quality time on my table saw and router. It's funny, now that I'm getting more comfortable with those tools, I prefer to mill my own custom pieces rather than go out and look for something already made!