September 27, 2011

Sump Hell

Let me introduce you to the banes of my existence:

Twin Sonsabitches

These are our two basement sump holes, each containing their very own ejector pumps.  The one on the left is Laundry Sump Pump (LSP) and his brother on the right is Foundation Water Sump Pump (FWSP).  Since our house was apparently built at the outlet of a major river, FWSP runs almost all the time, even if it hasn't rained for 30 days.  LSP runs only when we do laundry or if I decide to piss in the dump sink.  The hole on the right is on it's third pump in 24 years.  In fact, my very first post in April, 2009 was about my experience changing it out during a rain storm.

The hole on the right has only had the pump changed out once ... until today. Yesterday, I was doing about 43 loads of laundry (I kind of let the dirty clothes go for a while) and on about load 42, I noticed a river of suds bubbling out of the floor drain and heading downhill towards FWSP.  I gaped at the suds stream for a few seconds until it finally occurred to me the LSP had given up the ghost.

Since I had changed out FWSP two years ago, I debated whether or not I trusted myself to try to change out LSP, but the bolted down cover and the extra pipe baffled me.  Finally, I admitted to myself that I would probably fuck it up, which would result in a geyser of gross laundry water shooting up my ass the next time I sat on the toilet upstairs.

So I called our plumber, Mark.  And he was nice enough to come out this morning and fix the problem.  Some home repair people like to be left alone while they work, but Mark likes company and takes pleasure in explaining what he's doing, mainly so he can make you feel stupid.

While he was setting up, he took a glance at FWSP and asked what goof I had hired to install it and the fact that wasn't a "Zoeller" pump (Zoeller is apparently the Mercedes Benz of the sump pump world).  When I told him that I had installed it, he just said "Oh, good thing you called me on this one". 

In about 30 seconds, he had the cover off the hole and the pipes disconnected.  We had been chatting while he was doing this and he was wondering what had caused this pump to fail, due to the fact it was a "Zoeller" and that they never fail.

He hauled the pump out of the murky water, took one look at it, and stared at me accusingly.  The pump looked like one of those old drawings of sailing ships stranded in the lifeless Sargasso Sea.  You know, the wrecks adrift, with gobs of seaweed hanging from their masts.

Except that the pump was matted with about 12 pounds of laundry lint.

Mark:  No wonder it burned up.  Don't you have a lint trap in the dump sink?

Me:  Uhhhh ... no.

Mark:  You need a lint trap.  This is disgusting.

Me:  Hey, if there's that much lint on that piece of shit, how much is still in the hole?

Mark:  It's not a piece of shit, it's a Zoeller.  And I don't know.  I'm not sticking my arm down there to find out.

Me:  But you're the plumber.

Mark:  If you're so hot to trot to find out what kind of crap is in the bottom of that hole, you stick your hand down there.  Don't be surprised if you pull back a bloody stump.

Me:  No thanks.

Mark:  Good, then we understand each other.  Let me get this new pump in here and finish this up.

And he did.  What took him a half hour would have taken me half the day and 10 trips to the hardware store.  And even though it'll probably cost me twice what it would have if I had done it myself, sometimes it's better to leave it to the professionals.

Besides, if this pump ends up lasting another ten years or so, I won't have to worry when it breaks, because there's always the possibility that I'll be dead.

Then Jan can deal with it.

September 21, 2011

Coming Soon

I don't know why I'm so fascinated by this.  You'll have to forgive me.  Since I wrote about this last week, I've made sure to check on the progress at least once a day.

NASA announced this morning that there were no more guessing games.  Their dead Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is definitely crashing to earth on Friday, September 23.  They may be certain of the re-entry date ... but they still don't know where.  Although the predicted debris zone is 500 miles, the margin of error is 6,000 miles, or about a quarter of the circumference of the earth.  It all depends on several factors.  Solar flares, which heat the atmosphere causing expansion, and the fact that the fucking thing ran out of fuel, so no one can control it and as a result, it's started to tumble.

Man-made shit in space has always interested me.  The only time I purposely skipped school was when I was senior in high school and Apollo 13 was making the critical re-entry to Earth on a Friday.  I also got a big kick out of the panic when Skylab fell back to earth decades ago.

So, like I said, forgive me.  I probably should write about other things, like my encounter with Big Foot in Engle Park before dawn this morning, but that will wait for another time.

Just so you know what this thing looks like (UARS, not Big Foot) here are pictures of both so you can tell the difference.

I Have A Burning Desire To Hit You In The Head

Get Outta My Park Asshole!

Next Post:  Fucking With Sasquatch!

September 16, 2011

As If I Didn't Have Enough To Worry About

Sometimes, you can go for days and never see anything truly interesting in the news. But then, you glance at the news wires for 10 minutes and come up with some great shit.  Here are three kick-ass news items to send you into the weekend ...

They're Falling From The Skies Man
NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is now expected to fall to Earth sometime between September 23 and 25 orbital experts reported today.  NASA dudes originally thought that UARS would come down in early October, but the Sun has really gotten its burn on over the past week and the increased heat has expanded the upper atmosphere and is really yanking hard on the sat now.

I'm not really sure what this thing did, but it's the size of a Greyhound Bus and is now expected to auger in anywhere between Northern Canada and southern South America. NASA says that the largest piece expected to survive re-entry will weigh about 300 pounds and should be about the size of a refrigerator.  However, NASA brainiacs say not to worry ... the chance that a piece of UARS will hit anybody at all is 1-in-3,200 (I'd take those odds), and the chance that it would hit YOU specifically would be 1-in-20 trillion.

Those of you in the southeast might be able to watch some flaming debris blasting across the sky starting on September 20.

For the rest of us, you can watch UARS doomsday march here.

Weekend At Bernie's - Part V
Denver-ites Robert Young, 43, and Mark Rubinson, 25 are charged with abusing a corpse, identity theft and criminal impersonation.  Apparently Young found his friend, Jeffrey Jarrett, unresponsive at his home on August 27.  Instead of calling 911, Young and Rubinson loaded Jarrett's dead body in the back seat of their SUV and went for a night on the town.  The dynamic trio started the night at Teddy T's Bar and Grill, where they used Jarrett's folding cash; then it was off to eat at Sam's No. 3.  After dropping Jarrett's body back at his house (apparently he was a real party poop), Young and Rubinson hit the town again, having another meal at Viva Burrito and rounded out the evening, closing down Shotgun Willie's strip bar at 4 a.m., using Jarrett's ATM card to settle the tabs.  Having nowhere else to spend Jarrett's money, the two then flagged down a Denver cop and told him that their deceased friend was back at his house and "he might be dead".

Although the two were not charged with Jarrett's death, they certainly have one "go-to" story for the rest of their lives.

There Goes My Ride
The last Ford Crown Victoria rolled off a Canadian assembly line yesterday, marking the end of the big, heavy Ford cars that have been popular with taxi fleets, police departments and 90 year olds who like to only go 25 miles-per-hour in a 45 mile-per-hour speed limit zone right in front of you when you're late for an appointment, causing you to roll down your window and shake your fist at them while shouting "get moving you miserable old fuck!"

That's just fucking great.  I was going to buy Jan a brand new Crown Vic (preferably cream colored) for her retirement party in May.  Now what the hell am I going to do?

Okay ... everyone enjoy their weekend.  Jan and I are going to replace the entire side door to our garage and maybe go to Taco Bell afterwards.  Don't be too jealous.

September 15, 2011

The First Ever Mailbag!

Frogs For Lunch is coming up on it's third anniversary.  I'm at well over 300 posts now, and I never imagined I'd have the subject matter bouncing around in my head to do that many.

Most of the time, my posts don't lend themselves well to inviting comments, and as result, I don't get very many.  But surprisingly, I get a lot of letters to my e-mail address.  Some of the letters are encouraging, and some are not so much.  But I make sure that I answer them in the spirit that they are given.

However, some of the letters are pretty baffling ... so much so that they defy my ability to come up with a response.  Over the years, I've saved them in a file and in the last several weeks, I've sorted through them and have printed a few below to share. Because that's what I do ...

Dear Rob:
  Jesus, that little bastard smells.  No wonder they call him Pooh Bear.
Christopher Robin
Pooh Corner

Dear Sir:
  Sorry, I never thought of Howie Mandel.  I take the whole thing back.
Charles Darwin
H.M.S. Beagle

  Do you want to know why  you're not getting rid of us?  Get with the times, people.  Roach Motels are out.  The hot thing these days is Roach Bed and Breakfasts.
The Cockroaches
In your kitchen

  They snored.
Lizzie Borden
Fall River, Massachusetts

Dear Robert:
  I ripped the tag off a mattress once.  Now I'm in prison.  Sure, I may have done other stuff too, but don't try to tell me there's no connection.
Charles Manson
Locked up forever

Dearest Sir:
  The door is not a door.  The door is ajar.  The door is not a door.  The door is ajar.  Get it?  Get it?
Annoying Electronic Voice
In your new car

Dear Rob at FFL:
  If Kitty were raped and killed, I'd ... I'd tear the guy apart limb from limb!  That's what I should have said.  No.  I'd kick some ass!  That's it.  That's what I'd do.  Wait.  I'd string him up by the balls!  Yeah!  No, wait.  I'd ...
Michael Dukakis
Still reassessing his 
1988 campaign strategy

  You probably think I'm a pain in the ass, but hear me out:  Boxes of cereal, jars of peanut butter, etc., should change their little message from "Use before September 2011" to the more informative "Will be pretty fucking disgusting by September 2011". So what do you think?  Are you with me?
Ralph Nader
Meaning well

Dear Mr. Frogs For Lunch:
  Have you ever seen the film Alien?  Did you ever wonder how the creature got inside the humans to begin with?  I mean, if it got to burst out of somebody's chest, it must have found a pretty sneaky way to get in there ... right?
A Long, Red Tube of Surimi
Lying in your seafood salad

  Ms. Pac-Man?  She's not much to look at, but any girl that pulls herself around by her lips can't be all bad.
Donkey Kong
Nintendo, Japan

Robbie, Baby, Sweetheart:
  How come nobody returns my calls anymore?
Joe Piscopo
Palookaville, New Jersey
Dear Sir and/or Madam:
  After all these years, the truth must be known.  I am Dorothy's surrogate mother.
Auntie Em
Somewhere in Kansas

Mr. R:
  I'm here.  You can't see me, but I'm here.
A Booger
The egg salad bowl in
the Sizzler salad bar

  Go ahead.  Try to escape me.  You can't!  I'm everywhere!  You puny creatures and your pathetic attempts to pull away make me laugh ... laugh I tell you!  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-haah!
The Force of Gravity
Underneath your floors

Dear Sire:
  Bubble, bubble,
  Toilet trouble.
Loo Shakespeare
Stratford-upon-Avon Plumbing

Dear Mr. Rob:
  Haven't you always had the sneaking suspicion that I'm an obnoxious shithole bitch who never misses a chance to humiliate those who work for me?
Oprah Winfrey

Next Post:  Death Takes A Holiday!

September 14, 2011

In A Perfect World ...

... Yoko would have jumped in front of John.

... a kernel of Orville Redenbacher popcorn would somehow actually look like Orville Redenbacher.

... The fluorocarbons trapped in the atmosphere would escape by going out through the hole in the ozone layer.

... somebody would wipe that smirk off Bradley Cooper's face.

... you would too be able to dry your cat off in the microwave.

... the fearless secret army of Islam would not rest until it had written the name of Allah the Almighty on the ground with the blood of Kate Gosselin.

... the pope would end all encyclicals with "I don't know, at least that's the way it seems to me."

... something would be very wrong with the brakes on Dick Cheney's car.

... Stephen Hawking would figure out a way to get his mojo back.

... a woman would laugh appreciatively when a guy farted to make a point.

... the magnitude of Donald Trump's fortune would be in the inverse proportion to the size of his dick.

September 13, 2011

Tuesday Scatterings

So, things have been going well recently.  No one's fucked with me in weeks now, which makes it kind of difficult to come up with any good stories, but at least my blood pressure is normal.  The neighborhood kids are all back in school, and the days are quiet, except at daybreak, when the thumping sound of about a thousand shotguns shatters the calm (goose season must have started), but I haven't been hit with any slugs yet on my morning woods walks, so that's a plus.

The leaves are just starting to hint at turning, and all the weather dudes in this area are very excited that it looks like today is our final day of summer weather.  Everything is supposed to go to shit starting this evening.  Fall seems to always take the weather people by surprise.

But, since it's the last nice day for a while, I decided that I'd better wrap up some yard crap that I'd been putting off.  I had sealed the front porch last week, and it turned out like shit, so I thought I might do better on the back patio ... but I didn't.  It turned out all fucking streaky and blotchy too.  One of these days, I might figure out how to do it right.  It seems like it would be a pretty simple thing to do.

I had that done by 9 a.m., so I was looking for something else to do, and I happened to look at the ugly bare spot we have right in the middle of the back yard.  We had a willow tree there for years, but it became infested with insects, or mold, or some other vile shit and I had Jose Maldanado and his crew remove it in April.  They ground the stump out for me too, and I thought it would be a simple matter just to plant some grass seed there and everything would be cool.  But the first seeding didn't take, nor did the second ... or the third.  So, for three or four months, there's just been the ugly scar in the ground where the tree used to be.  It's too late to try to plant any more seed, and no one has sod anymore.  So, utilizing my mad landscaping skilz, and using whatever I could find lurking in the corners of the yard, I came up with this:

It's A ... Thing!

While I was putting this thing together, the word "obelisk" kept coming to mind, but I just looked up obelisk on Wikipedia, and this isn't any thing even close to that.  Here's a close up so you can appreciate all of the fine detail and craftsmanship:

I Amaze Myself

As I was standing back and admiring it, I wanted to think of something to give it meaning.  I toyed with the idea of a 9/11 memorial, but that's been done to death.  It could have been a marker for Sam The Cat's ashes, but I didn't think of it in time, so they're still sitting in the upstairs hallway closet.  If I bought some of that outlawed tiki torch fuel, I could pour it over the rock and make an almost eternal flame out of it.

I don't think it really matters, because once Jan gets home this afternoon, she'll probably shit a brick and make me take it apart ... reasoning, no doubt, that she'd rather look at a bare patch all winter.  At least I have a picture for my portfolio.

While I had the camera out, I decided to walk around the neighborhood for landscaping ideas for next year.  I really didn't have to go any farther than next door to Hillbilly Ron's house though.  I should have known that he'd have some ideas.  He's had this in his front yard for years now, but I think it gets better with age.  And since no one was home, I sneaked over for a close up:

Inflatable Goose, Two Deer Skulls, Birdhouse (?) And A Shredded Scrap Of Canvas Stuck In Fork Of Dead Tree

HR is the Jackson Pollock of yard design.  Anyway, as long as I'm talking yards, here's a super cool tip for all of you lawn jockeys.  Did you ever plant a bush, or a tree and wonder how you keep a bare space around it so all of those pesky weeds don't grow in and fuck everything up?  Do a dry moat!  Simply dig a slit in a circle around your bush, tree, whatever.  Make a cut with your shovel around the plant, then come back and make a back cut.  Remove the thin strip of sod and fling it into your neighbor's yard.  Here's an example of the finished product:

Don't Forget The Mulch ... And A Better Looking Plant!

Eh, what the fuck.  It was 75 percent off at Home Depot a couple of weeks ago.  I think it'll live and maybe cover that ugly-ass transformer in the background.

Shifting gears ...  Jan and I were out last Saturday trying to find a bottle of Sake to go with our Kung Pao Shrimp that we were going to make that evening (I know, incongruous pairing).  I've never tasted Sake and I was pretty bummed when our totally inadequate local liquor store didn't have any.  But we did run across something that was pretty cool.  I'm not a real big expert on wines (I think Mogen David is good, if you add 7-UP), but apparently, blended wines are now the "in" thing.  So we found a bottle of white that was a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat, Gewurztraminer (?) and Pinot Gris.  It was pretty damned good, actually.  What is it?  Here:

We Drank All Of It

The company that makes it (The Magnificent Wine Company of Walla Walla, Washington) had a red too, named "Steak Wine", but we thought that it actually might be made out of steak, so we didn't try that one.  Maybe it was kind of like bacon vodka, which I actually saw on The Travel Channel the other day.  It's a bottle of vodka with a bunch of raw bacon stuffed into it.  The bartender on the show was making "bacon Martinis" and charging ten dollars a glass for them.

Anyway, that's been Tuesday here in the heartland.  Tomorrow, maybe I'll go play in traffic or rob a bank or something, so I can come up with a story.  Until then ...

Next Post:  Maybe A Real Story!

September 08, 2011

Maintenance Day

I was planning to do a "letters" post today, but I became sidetracked about 5 minutes after I woke up  this morning.  It would require too much thought anyway, so I'll just save that for another time and go with this ... whatever it turns out to be.

I'm attempting to get the outside of the house ready for winter, but really can't decide what's important and what's not.  Jan was bitching at me the other day to reseal the front porch, so I spent most of yesterday doing that.  It came out all splotchy, which pissed me off royally, but she said it looked "rustic", so I guess I'll go with that and just wait for Mother Nature to strip it off during the winter.  I need to paint some of the house trim, but the urge hasn't hit me yet.  Since I have a month or so before the weather gets too bad to do it, I'll let that slide for a while, along with the side door to the garage that I promised myself I would do in July.

So, rather than do that hard shit, I'm spending the afternoon trying to get my mini laptop to work right again.  You remember those things, right?  They were all the rage two years ago, but just like the dinosaurs, they disappeared.  The one I have is a Dell Mini something-or-other.  So far, I've spent about 3 hours trying to clear enough memory on it to run.  I don't know if I'll be successful or not.

While I'm waiting for that thing to try and clear itself, I've been reading up on the correct way to sell my unwanted shit on Craigslist.  Our basement looks like an episode of "Hoarders", only with decent, hardly ever used stuff stacked all over the place.  From the advice articles that I've read so far, it appears that I don't want to give anyone my phone number, use an e-mail address that gives any of my real information or let anyone in the house.  I should also be ready to defend myself when someone comes to look at the merchandise, or better still, just drive to a well lit location with said merchandise and act like you would if you were making a drug deal.  I'd have a garage sale, but I can't stand the thought of bartering with a bunch of cheap shits trying to get something for nothing.  This is the same reason I don't go to garage sales.  Maybe I'm better off to just get a dumpster in and throw it all away.  Or better yet, drive around until I find someone else's dumpster and throw it in there.

I'm also editing out some of the blogs I'm following.  Well, not some of them, just one. I was reading a blog by one young woman for some time, but whatever originality and freshness she once possessed seems to have turned into a "dig me" kind of thing in the last couple of months.  "Oooooh, I won the award for best young blogger in (fill in name of shithole city here), Ooooh, I'm making a movie with my boyfriend".  Fuck ... give me a break.  She's just as annoying on Twitter.

Of course, as is well known, I'm the epitome of originality and freshness.

In other news not relating to me, was anybody aware that Lindsay Lohan has a sister? For that matter, does anybody remember Lindsay Lohan?  I guess someone does.  I tend to get Lindsay and Jessica Simpson mixed up.  I think she has a sister too (Ashley?).  Anyway, Lindsay has a sister named Ali, and the gossip rags this morning are all gaga over her apparently having had some type of face rearrangement procedure done.  Observe:

Before ... And After.  Or Maybe It's The Other Way Around?

So, did she change her eyes?  Forehead?  Lips?  Nose?  Teeth?  Vagina?  Who can say?  Personally, I think a mistake was made and the thing on the right is actually Ashley Simpson.  And by the way, Jessica Simpson was quoted in Us Magazine today as saying "I love my boobies!"  Why this woman has eluded marriage for a second time is beyond me.

Okay, enough rambling.  My Dell Mini has informed me that it doesn't have enough memory left to delete enough memory to keep it running.

You have to love planned obsolescence technology.

September 05, 2011

Thoughts On The First Day Of Autumn

Yeah, I know.  There's nothing on the calendar that says this is the first day of Fall.  But, I guess it all depends on where you live.  Here in Northern Illinois, Fall came in overnight.  It was 95 degrees on Saturday.  And yesterday it was still in the 80's.  But then a big wind came through just as I was about to turn in about midnight and I knew that was it.  Summer may be still going on other places, but it's over here.  I guess that's okay.

And it's Labor Day Weekend.  I hate this holiday.  No matter how old I get, it will always mean the gut wrenching day before school started.  Some things you just don't forget.  I was flipping around the channels yesterday and remembered that the MDA Telethon was supposed to be on television.  Apparently, the MDA powers that be decided that they'd had enough of Jerry Lewis and dumped him this year.  Or, as I read, maybe he dumped them.  In any case, the telethon was only on for 7 hours this year instead of the usual 21 hours.  I watched a few minutes and it sucked just as bad as when Jerry was on.

I spent a couple of hours trying to find this supposedly "excellent" article that Harry Shearer had written as he covered the 1976 Telethon for some movie magazine.  I finally found it ... all 17 pages of it and was attempting to read it while I was watching "Legion" on Netflix streaming.  Gotta love that weird granny and ice cream man.  Not being an incredible multi-tasker, it took me as long to read the article as it did to get though the movie.  Don't know which one was more disappointing, the article or the movie.  But Harry Shearer kind of sucks, so I'll give him the nod.

We had a dinner engagement on Saturday night about an hour south of here.  The road going there is dangerous enough during the day, and since we left the restaurant after dark, it was even spookier driving back.  As I was maneuvering the car through all the turns and twists I imagined the article in the local paper on Monday ... "Local Couple Die in Fiery Accident Because Stupid Husband Can't Drive After Dark Because He Was Too Fucking Old".  I did see an interesting sign on the lighted marquee of a local Church that said:  "Pray For The Unemployed".  I didn't know quite how to take it.  I mean ... I'm between jobs, but I think I'd be kind of uncomfortable knowing that someone was praying for me.  There seems to be so many other things you could pray for, if you were so inclined.  And besides, I'm having a pretty fucking good time being off.

As I mentioned above, it feels like full on Fall here today, and I'm wearing a sweat shirt for the first time in months.  I picked my "Fresno State" model, because it's not too heavy, but I'm also wearing my "Boston College" sweat pants.  I feel like I'm contradicting myself.  I'd like to go to the store, but some people might see the irony in my bi-coastal college wear and snicker at me ... unless I went to Walmart.  Nobody cares there.

Since it's Monday, I was supposed to clean the house.  But it was a holiday and I gave myself the day off, which means I just have to do it tomorrow morning.  I don't mind it so much, except for the toilets.  I suppose most of the mess is my fault.  Aiming your thing is always hit or miss.  I've considered the possibility of just giving up the standing position all together and sitting down, but it seems like I would be admitting defeat.  I wonder how many guys piss sitting down ... and would they admit it if asked?  Questions for the ages.

Okay, time to get the Labor Day bar-b-que started.  No more holidays now until Halloween.

I wonder if there's a way to get that day proclaimed a holiday.  It's way more fun.

Next Post:  The Long Awaited Mailbag!