The good luck was bound to run out…

Here at the Slattery household, we can’t help but feel a tad blessed of late. Lots of good things have happened, from my game show appearance to The Woman’s growing belly. But we knew that something somewhat bad had to happen to slightly balance it out. And so, instead of telling you about the kitchen renovation plans, the great deals we got on the last appliances, or my big upgrade purchase I get to wonder about why I didn’t buy this emergency water pump during the big flood last year…

This morning I was awoken by The Woman commenting that there was no hot water. There have definitely been a few mornings when my shower has been on the cool side or shortened because I was second in line, but no hot water at all is a real conundrum. Everything else was running just fine, so it’s not like PSE&G decided to cut us off because I still can’t figure out the stupid login for the account. So I headed down to the basement to check on the flame and hopefully get it back up and running in no time.

Unfortunately as I approached the basement door I heard a sound I definitely did not want to hear – running water… Crap. At first glance the floor looked to have only a few puddles, but those were apparently just reflections. Because once I threw my sandals on, I found myself sloshing through 2-3 inches of water to get to the shutoff valve. Yeehaw! For those of you who don’t know how water heaters work, just realize that it’s about the same as a pipe in that if it breaks… well… there’s nothing to stop the flow of water.

The frustrating thing is that we’ve been having discussions about replacing the stupid thing this summer. But there were no real indications (at least in my mind) that an upgrade was a huge priority. Certainly nothing that said a flood was imminent.

At least just about everything was moved off the ground due to the previous flooding problems. It looks like just some CDs and DVDs that were on the lowest shelves may be ruined, and the pump from Home Depot did a pretty good job so far with some more clean up work to be done tonight. So we still can’t complain that much, but this is more than just a minor inconvenience since the hot water is off until a plumber can come by. Not to mention, I don’t feel very eco-friendly wasting a few hundred gallons of water to wash the basement floor…

Links you might like

I said I would do this last week, and yet here these links still have not been… linked?

That last one reminds me – who’s up for Lost tonight?

Grown-up decision time

Hey, remember that TV show I was on? And I won a bunch of money? And I made a comment about remodeling our kitchen? You don’t? What the hell is wrong with you?!?!

For those of you paying attention, the comment about the kitchen wasn’t just me trying to get quality, non-dork, face time on TV. Next to paying down credit cards, that was the number one option The Woman and I had decided upon for spending any significant winnings that might befall us. Actually, there was a more complicated mental list that included completely renovating the second floor, but wussing out on the Rudyard Kipling guess prevented that plan…

For now let’s just say that the kitchen is job number one… alright, the growing baby is job number one. So we’re back to calling it number two. You all still following? Great. The point is that we’ve talked to a few places about remodeling costs, and it looks like we’re ready to move forward. But there’s still some hemming and hawing and hand wringing (by me) as various numbers have begun to crawl ever upward. Sure, the cabinets are fairly reasonable, even with all of the upgrades, but the extra work to make sure the entire room is completely up to snuff has squashed any notion that we’d be able to do multiple jobs (i.e. fix up a bathroom) this year, and also has me worried about longterm effects.

When it comes down to it, our kitchen is totally functional as it stands. Now that we’ve replaced our broken oven and upgraded the refrigerator to a decently-sized unit, cooking has become less of a chore. So the debate has become whether a full remodel is excessive or a sound investment. Guarantee me that we’re still living in this house in 10 years and it’s a no-brainer. However the skyrocketing property taxes in my county suggest that is not a certainty.

But there’s no two ways about it – we either do all of the work or none of it. I made a decision not to half-ass things with the house. Ripping out old, poorly configured cabinets and replacing them with new, poorly configured cabinets is a waste of money. Tearing up an old, sagging tile floor and replacing it with a new, sagging tile floor is a waste of money. Ignoring plumbing problems when everything is going to be completely exposed for a week is just asking for it to comeback to haunt you further down the road. Couple these things with issues like questionable lighting and outlets, an undersized pantry, and a lack of a dishwasher and there’s plenty for the contractor to do.

But what would you leave off? Skipping work to save one or even two thousand dollars right now will just leave me aggravated when I realize how much it will cost to fix things later.

We may still skimp on the demo work, because apparently soffits in kitchens are some sort of magical contraption that more than doubles the cost for contractors. I’ve got a sledgehammer and a case of Yuengling that says my friends can make short work of it. Still, something tells me that my engineering degree still isn’t enough to confidently wire new electrical outlets next to a gas pipe.

This decision was a hell of a lot easier when we were just looking at cabinets and DIY installation…

Only me…

I didn’t bring an extra battery with me for my camera. I forgot to check the charge on the battery that was already in my camera. That meant that I didn’t get to take many photos tonight. Where was I? At Maxwell’s watching motherf’ing Moby shred the stage apart. Me. The guy who carries over $1500 worth of camera gear in a backpack just to go to the mall couldn’t be bothered to make sure everything was set for an incredible opportunity. Only me.

At least the show was phenomenal – more on that elsewhere…

Training Diary: Day… something

Dear Diary… Haha, just kidding. It was fun writing a couple diary posts, but that joke could get old. But I have been keeping up with my biking for the most part. Not everyday, but at least every other day. As easy as it has always been to get back into biking shape, there is one major inhibitor this time around: those damned hills!

Alright, I’m sure my advancing age plays a factor in some of aches and near collapses, but riding a few miles around the neighborhood hasn’t really worn me down. It’s that last leg as I try to keep the pedals moving up the mountain. This geographical limitation means that I’ve only been going a couple miles in the morning (averaging 2.5 this week), but on the weekend I was able to take advantage of a nearby park to put in over 7 miles on the bike. Unfortunately there is still no path that allows me to go downhill in both directions.

But at least I learned something new about the human body. According to the Gate-Control Theory, the brain has a way of limiting what pain gets through so that you’re not overwhelmed by everything at once. Thus it wasn’t until after my stomach settled the other day and I managed to avoid vomiting following my foolish 4 plus mile ride that I noticed my lungs were on the verge of collapsing… Hmm, maybe my brain should rethink the order of things. Or do I have to fear wasting half an hour stretching out my strained calves after a ride only to realize HOLY CRAP! I was shot in the arm! Thanks brain, maybe that pain should have taken priority over the leg cramp…

Hopefully you all realize everything written here should be taken with a grain of salt. The last thing I need is to find out someone set themselves on fire or shot their foot while trying out some sort of pain experiment they read on a blog…

Friday Web Fun

In a nutshell, the Democrats believe the government should bail out individuals who made stupid (i.e., greedy) decisions about getting a mortgage they had no hope of ever repaying. In contrast, the Republican believes the government should bail out banks and brokers who made stupid (i.e., greedy) decisions about issuing mortgages to people who had no hope of ever repaying them.

  • Yet another great webcomic for me to follow – Savage Chickens. Monday’s comic explains how I finally to convert The Woman into a real Internet user.
  • I’ve been remiss in pointing out Stuff White People Like, but I’m assuming you all know about it by now. The site is essentially 50% laughing at myself for fitting a stereotype and 50% laughing at other people who follow a stereotype. Today’s entry on “Free Healthcare” is another great one:

Though their passion for national health care runs deep, it is important to remember that white people are most in favor of it when they are healthy. They love the idea of everyone have equal access to the resources that will keep them alive, that is until they have to wait in line for an MRI.

This is very similar to the way that white people express their support for public schools when they don’t have children.

I feel like there was more, but that should tide you over for now.

Training Diary: Day 2

Dear Diary,

Why is it so cold in the morning? Even bundled up I got chilly and couldn’t feel my fingers. But I biked because its important. And you know what? I went almost 4 miles! Pretty soon, I’ll run out of fingers to count! It was fun, until that stupid hill. Why is that hill so mean? When I got home I almost throwed up. Mommy says I’ll get used to it. I’m not sure if she meant the hill or throwing up.

Your friend,


P.S. I really hate that stupid hill!

Training Diary: Day 1

Dear Diary,

Today I took out my brand new bike for my first ride. It’s so pretty, I really, really like it a lot! It was so cold this morning, I almost frozed my fingers! But I rode anyway. I went all the way down this big hill. And then I went all the way back up the same hill. I must have gone almost a whole mile! But then I was really tired, so I went home. The end.

Your friend,


P.S. Why does my chest hurt?

Ah, my beefy temptress

The seed was planted in my mind a couple weeks ago. While waiting around for some techs at one of our facilities, someone walked in with a bag of Mickey D’s for lunch. Now I’ve gone from eating fast food on a semi-regular basis to not even having stepped foot in a McDonald’s in at least 6 months, but man did it smell amazing. Honestly I think I had licked any kind of craving for such unwholesome grub… until that moment…

And so we reach today… er… I guess yesterday. I found myself sans lunch having emptied the deli drawer at home. For some odd reason I decided it was time to succumb to the weakness and visit the nearest purveyor of fast and greasy fare. Oddly enough, over the last few years the only thing I would pick up from such places were chicken-based products; but when I entered the drive-thru this time a sign greeted me suggesting an “Angus Third Pounder.” And thus my fate was sealed as I ordered the bacon and cheese variety…

Let me quickly explain something. I’ve always enjoyed McDonald’s hamburgers. There’s something oddly appealing about them. But they have absolutely nothing to do with a real hamburger. I can enjoy them knowing that they are in a category all by themselves and should be appreciated according to separate criteria. Until now.

For starters, the thing was on a real roll. Not some dinky little bun that has lost all of its form in some freezing/reheating process. There was a sens of pride in eating a burger contained by this bready edifice. And the meat contained therein had an actual taste of well-cooked beef – complete with just a slight hint of charring. I swear that the burger had real bacon, pickles and red onion on it, all of them equally contributing to a well-rounded flavor. Certainly not the best hamburger I’ve ever had but, dammit, that was one awesome sammich!

Does this mean the craving is back for good? I mean, it’s not like I was even praying for death in the bathroom the rest of the afternoon. No… must… resist… will visit Panera… reaffirm healthy choices… Whole Foods! Why hast thou forsaken me? ARGH!

Movie overload

Holy cow have we watched a lot of movies lately. I’ve been meaning to write a bunch of mini-reviews, but each time I get around to it we watch something else. Let’s see if I can do a decent rundown of the latest ones:

Knocked Up – Very delayed in writing about this one, but Apatow has really set a standard for this type of vulgar, yet touching, comedy. What really helps sell these movies are the characters. No matter how idiotic they seem, by the end you really start to care about them because they are good people. If you don’t mind too many dirty words, this is a great take on the unplanned pregnancy story.

Blades of Glory – Even The Woman laughed at the immature humor on this one. I expected to enjoy it, but not as much as I did. The best work Will Ferrell has done on the big screen – not including Stranger Than Fiction, obviously.

Ratatouille – It’s Pixar. What more do I have to say? It’s another great kids’ flick that works well for adults. I loved the story, and the characters and animation were fantastic. ‘Nuff said.

Juno – I liked it. I enjoyed it. It was fun. Yes, it has it’s flaws, but every movie does. Juno is great character, even if her dialogue feels contrived at points – she’s the kind of kid you both hope and fear that you’ll have. She’s strong willed and independent, but that can lead to stupid things when you’re too young to understand. As for the rest of the cast, would they please stop making movies that don’t involve Michael Cera? Seriously, my biggest complaint is that Cera is not on screen enough. And Allison Janney is another one of my favorites. Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner are great as the hip young couple that aren’t really “all that”. And J.K. Simmons – that’s me as a dad. “Next time I see that Bleeker kid I’m going to punch him in the wiener.” Yeah, that’s me. Watch and enjoy.

No Country for Old Men – Whoa… Alright, let me put it this way. I am a HUGE Coen Brothers fan. And even I was still unprepared for just how great this movie could be. The Coens can really excel with this type of movie – one that can be so completely riveting and frustrating at the same time. As a warning, the ending will leave a lot of people aggravated, but there shouldn’t be any tidy endings when dealing with such a terrible set of events. And as far as acting… Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Kelly McDonald and… and… hmm. I seem to remember someone else… Oh that’s right, Javier Bardem as possible the most intimidating killer to ever grace the big screen. If the scene with the gas station attendant doesn’t absolutely chill you to the bone, I don’t know what will. I’m really glad the Two-Headed Director won for this one.

Into the Wild – Probably the best film of ’07. I expected to enjoy it, but the story of Chris McCandless is quite fascinating and touching. While some people may feel Sean Penn is just idolizing him, I think it’s actually a very even telling that shows the good with the bad. McCandless connected with a lot of different people in very positive ways. Unfortunately he had a tragic flaw and didn’t understand that these social connections aren’t just niceties, but necessities. It’s the sad tale of someone going from one extreme to the other, and not realizing his mistake until it was too late. I definitely recommend this to everyone.

Superbad – Once it started with all of the vulgarity, I thought it was going to suck. But it gets better and better all the way to the end. And it has a major ingredient for being and awesome film: Michael Cera. Evan, Seth and McLovin are all great teenage characters. The “wacky hijinks” they go through this one night trying to get alcohol for a party are funny, but it’s the tale of their friendships and how much things change in your late teens that really made me enjoy the movie.

Enchanted – If I didn’t already have a crush on Amy Adams, I would now. The best way to sum this movie up: Delightful! I know that sounds corny, but Enchanted is big pile of fun that hits on all of the typical Disney stereotypes – embracing and making fun of them all at once. It’s worth it just for the scene when Amy calls for her animal friends to help her clean up Patrick Dempsey’s apartment and, instead of the usual group of woodland creatures, gets an army of pigeons, rats and cockroaches. Seriously hysterical. Even James Marsden puts on a great performance as the classic Prince Charming character. This is like a classic Disney flick – great for kids and adults.

The Darjeeling Limited – THIS IS A WES ANDERSON FILM. You know how I know that? Because every scene was done so that would be reminded that THIS IS A WES ANDERSON FILM. I love Wes. Rushmore ranks as one of my alltime favorites and The Life Aquatic was brilliant. Even though I though The Royal Tennenbaums was extremely overrated, I still enjoyed it. But he pretty much ruined what was a great idea for a movie with this one. The direction goes beyond quirkiness and just gets in the way of the storytelling. It’s a shame, because there truly were some great moments – the characters and the actors were all solid – but the movie itself felt like an amateurish parody of Anderson films.

Whew! I skipped a few classics that I may talk about later, and I also need to write about the horror movies I watched. Otherwise, this is a good breaking point before I kick off some more viewing to clean off my HTPC.

EDIT: Darn it all to heck! I knew I’d forget one. Dan in Real Life – The first half is great. The second half is predictable. Overall a nice movie, but missed out on being great. Regardless, Steve Carell is awesome.