Monthly Archives: November 2004

This Old House

One of the things about having an older house (in our case, about 35 years old) is that even the smallest repair can open a Pandora’s box. Since I started using the shower in my tropical paradise bathroom, I noted that water was leaking under the shower door, leaving a puddle on the floor each time I took a shower. I diagnosed the problem as the fact that the caulk and ahesive holding the shower door track to the top of the tub had failed. I thought that the repair would take about one or two hours: (1) remove shower door and track, (2) clean up old adhesive and caulk from top of tub and bottom of door track, (3) apply new adhesive and reinstall door, (4) apply new caulk.

Well, executing step 1, removing the shower door track, required removing the shower door frame. Which revealed that the frame was mounted to a piece of wood that was about 1/3 rotted away. This was an unfortunate discovery. Not really liking the shower door anyway, though, I had a plan: (1) remove the rotting piece of wood, (2) replace with complimentary or contrasting tiles, (3) install a shower curtain. This was a significantly larger project than the original project undertaken, but I still had high hopes of finishing before our houseguests arrive on Wednesday.

Again, executing step 1 revealed a whole new world of problems. Namely, not only is the wood that was holding the shower door rotten, but so is a fair amount of the plywood which is holding up the tiles. Not good. So far, I have tried to survey the extent of damage, and have revealed that the bottom foot or so of plywood above the surface of the tub is rotted all the way around. (My father in law says that when they installed tile on plywood in the bad old days, they knew that it would eventually rot. But this was before the widespread availability of cement backer board. So, alas.)

So, at this point the two unpleasant options are: (1) remove a very large swath of tile, replace the plywood with cement backer board, and try to salvage and remount all the tiles or (2) remove all the tiles in the tub surround, replace the rotten plywood, and install a fiberglass tub surround. I am currently leaning towards the latter, as my experience with removing tiles suggests that at least 10% break during removal. Plus I don’t relish the thought of trying to clean the adhesive off of a massive number of tiles, and I’m a rank amateur at laying tile.

Thus, a one hour project turns into (at least) a week long project. I have put one bath out of commission four days before the largest group of houseguests we have ever hosted. I am doing massive construction in a bathroom that I expected to leave alone for at least the next five years. I am spending several hundred dollars on a project that was supposed to cost less than $10. Oh, and we don’t really like fiberglass tub surrounds. Fun stuff, home ownership. All is not well in Chez Mackenab.

Undecided Voters

A great article in the New Republic about undecided voters — those people who decide virtually every election in American politics yet appear to be completely misunderstood by the political machine. What’s interesting here is the distance between what most people think about undecided voters and the reality. I would pull a quote, but I’m in a hurry. So go and read it! [via Digby via an Anonymous IM Source]

Quote of the Day

I hate repeating the cool kids’ memes. But it’s a great Thomas Jefferson quote, posted by Elizabeth Edwards on Democratic Underground.

A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt…. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.

Coolest Electoral Map Yet

In the ongoing battle in the blogosphere to produce the coolest electoral map yet, I think we have a winner. What we have is a map that shows the intensity of the Bush/Kerry vote by color, by county, with the size of each county distorted to reflect its population.

The only ways I can see to improve this map would be: (1) make it bigger, (2) do it by precinct, instead of by county, which would probably make the color gradiations appear continuous.

The End of the American Century?

Paul Craig Roberts, who has a list of “conservative” credentials as long as my arm (senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, assistant sectratary of the Treasury under Reagan, former distinguished fellow at the Cato Institute, etc., etc.), declares that the reelection of GWB marks the end of the American century in this blistering column. He also says that “Bush’s reelection has ended forever respect for America.”

If you read the papers, though, then you might believe that Bush won the election by turning out the conservative base. Further strengthening my point that the word conservative has lost all meaning: If Paul Craig Roberts is not a conservative, then who the heck qualifies?

It’s hard to be optimistic when people like Paul Craig Roberts also say that the sky is falling.