Monday, October 31

the assassination of richard nixon

Brian and I caught this movie Saturday night. It was ok--Sean Penn's acting was superb as always--but we weren't into the movie as a whole. For some reason, the two of us thought the plot was going to be completely different (it was basically about a guy who was a complete failure in life and he somehow came to blame this on the president). As you can surmise from the title, this movie took place in the 1970's. Unlike the last movie I watched that took place in the 70's, Boogie Nights, this movie didn't look like the 70's threw up all over the characters--I wasn't sitting there thinking "just look at those clothes and hair!" the whole time. One nice surprise in the movie was the fact that Naomi Watts was in it. The woman is like a chameleon. Every time I see her she looks different (sometimes even within the same movie). I always have to ask Brian, "Is that Naomi Watts?" I wouldn't say she got to shine in this movie, but just having her in it made it better that it would've been.

Saturday, October 29

bathroom remodel: day 28

We should've gotten a lot done today, but we did not. Here's why: first off, we were supposed to go on a bike ride today, but it was kind of chilly, so we did not. But, we already had Brian's parents lined up to babysit, so Brian ran Jacob over there this morning, anyway. After he got back, we did our fall yardwork/put stuff away for the winter. Everything's done except tidying up the gardens and planting my garlic.

After this, we were finally able to start working on the bathroom. First, the old wall lights were removed. Next, we determined the location of the new mirror and wall sconces. We didn't have the right type of electric box for the sconces, so Brian had to run to Lowe's for supplies. While he was there, he planned on picking up our vanity top (which finally came in this week--7 weeks after we ordered it--10 to 14 working days, my ass!). Any time he's picked up any special orders from Lowe's he's always had to wait 30-45 minutes for them to find our stuff "in the back". Today was no different. After they loaded up the vanity top, he noticed that the holes that were drilled for the faucet did not look correct. His suspicions were confirmed after he arrived home and I brought out the new faucet. So, he called Lowe's and spoke with a manager, who had to call him back. Brian wasn't home when the manager called back and no one else in that big store could help him when he returned the manager's call, so now this is going to have to wait until tomorrow. To be continued...

While we basically did no work today, since Lowe's took up a few hours of our time (between the trip out there, talking to people on the phone, and general bitching about how we're never going to shop there again), I feel this counted as a "remodeling" day.


As promised, last night was a margarita and a movie night. The movie was Monster. Our friend Lish has been talking up this movie for a few years and now I understand why. What a great movie. Unlike the incredibly sad 21 Grams or the utterly depressing Mystic River, this movie had the right balance. The story was based upon the life of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos. I felt really bad for the main character, but she did cross the line (as serial killers are wont to do).

Though I disagree with the Flick Filosopher's review of the movie, it is pretty entertaining and brings up some good points.

Friday, October 28

day off

Jake's school's "Fall Party" (read: Halloween Party) was today. I volunteered to help out at it so I took the day off rather than trying to work it into my busy schedule. And what a nice day off it was. My long weekend started last night when Jake and I made bat cookies for his party. This morning, I was able to sleep in because, thanks to afternoon kindergarten, Jake no longer gets up early (nor does he go to bed at a decent hour, but that's another story). Given my short morning, I didn't really do much. I got Jake off to school and then drove over there a little bit later. The kids were dressed in their costumes and they did a little parade inside the school and then outside. Brian even managed to stop by (just another perk of working in Johnstown). The party was next. This went fine--the kids all seemed to have fun eating their snacks. I ended up having to stay there until the end of the school day (which is an early 1:15 on Fridays).

In the afternoon, I started working on my Christmas cards. I'm happy to report that I made a fourth of them today. I would've preferred to have them done by now, but I don't imagine I'll have any problems finishing them up soon. The thing I am concerned about this year is my shopping. I'm way behind, but this is because I don't know what to buy half of the people on my list. It's not for lack of looking, either.

Of course, I did some requisite housework. You can't have a day without housework.

Next up: it's a movie and a margarita night. I had been watching HBO's new series, Rome, on Friday evenings, but I've finally given up on it so we're going to watch a movie tonight instead.

Time to make the margaritas!


This was a book by James Patterson and Howard Roughan. I finished it this past week. While I would hardly call it a literary masterpiece, it was a pretty quick read, so it must've had something going for it. It more reminded me of Sidney Sheldon rather than James Patterson. Definitely entertaining. I could be wrong, but I don't think guys will be into this book. The book was about this woman who gets these rich men to fall in love with her and then she kills them (with an untraceable drug mixed in their food) and then she transfers their money to her offshore account. The ending was pretty weak and the whole premise of the book kinda goofy, but I really enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 26

bathroom remodel: day 27

It's hardly worth noting, but we installed the new shower rod, shower curtain liner, and shower curtain last night. Looks pretty good if I do say so myself. That'll be it until the weekend unless I get motivated to do some of my work in there and that's pretty doubtful.

Monday, October 24


I'd been wanting to see this movie since it was released 10 years ago. Thanks to Blockbuster Online and Brian's sister, my wish finally became a reality. Though I can't say it was quite worth the 10 year wait, it was a pretty engrossing film. Brian and I caught it over the weekend (in two parts--it was three hours long!) while Jake was camping with my parents. The two main stars of the movie were Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino. Any movie with these two in it has to be good, right? Right. And, it was nice to see DeNiro back when he still used to act in movies unlike the crap he's been in the past few years (Meet the Fockers, et al). The story was your basic cop versus robber one. I think DeNiro is trying to get into the Guinness Book of World's Records through the scenes in his movie. This movie had what has to be one of the longest firefights that has ever been in a movie. This, of course, follows up the longest car chase scene I've ever seen in Ronin.

In conclusion, a pretty cool film if you have three hours to spare.

bathroom remodel: day 26

This evening, Brian finished putting the trim pieces up for the tub surround and I installed the soap dish and shampoo shelf. After that, I did what I do best--caulk. I caulked around everything within the tub surround area, so Brian will, at last, be able to take a shower tomorrow night. I still need to do the perimeter of the surround, but I will save that for another day because I am done working for the day.

Sunday, October 23

bathroom remodel: day 25

Jake was camping with my parents this weekend so it seemed like a good opportunity to tackle one of the larger items that is left on our bathroom remodel "to do" list. So, yesterday, from noon-10pm we installed our new Corian tub surround. As you can tell from the amount of time it took, it was a major pain in the ass. And, we're not quite done with it either--there's still some trim and the soap and shampoo shelves left. We're taking a well-deserved break today and will finish that stuff up during the week. The day went ok except for Brian's near death experience (much like volatile substances, it's not a good idea to sniff Corian dust all day).

Part of the reason the job took so long was that we have a window in the middle of our shower so part of the surround had to be cut out. This probably added two to three hours to the project which was supposed to take a whole day anyway. The good news is that Brian will finally be able to shower again. The bad news is that our faucet handle does not reach when we put the escutcheon on. You knew we could't complete something without a problem, right?

sushi. again.

Our good friend (and Brian's former co-worker) Steve took Brian and I out for sushi at the Sakura in Altoona on Friday night to celebrate Brian's new job. We had a great time. Unlike last time, Steve did not consume two pounds of raw fish, so Friday night was a little less entertaining than it could've been. I didn't eat any raw fish this time. I sort of wanted to, but they didn't have any combination dinners that interested me, so I stuck with the cooked stuff instead. Brian and I both had the tempura and it was delicious. We capped off the night by going out for a few drinks and then made the long trek back home. I'm already looking forward to our next trip to the Sakura.

Thursday, October 20

boogie nights

I caught this movie on Sunday while Brian and Jacob were at the Steeler game. I've been wanting to watch it for a long time (I probably taped it a year ago), but Brian and I could never find the time because the movie is over 2 1/2 hours long. Anything over two hours (assuming it isn't kiddie fare) and you can just forget about it. Jake isn't in bed early enough for that to ever work out and I need my beauty rest so I'm not staying up late to watch tv.

That said, I rather enjoyed the movie. I thought it was going to be more of a "fun" movie, but it did have some drama as well. Mark Wahlberg did a great job with the main character (good thing seeing that his music career went down the toilet. Remember Marky Mark?) and for the first time ever, I liked Burt Reynolds. He played the director of the porno flicks. This movie was about the porn industry in California in the 70's and 80's.

One thing I have a love/hate relationship with with these types of movies (from the 70's and 80's, that is) is that the people look all goofy with their hairstyles and the way they dress. It's kind of painful to watch, really. On the other hand, it's kind of funny. Or maybe it would be if I didn't live through it.

You can expect to see a deluge of my pseudo movie reviews in the next two months. In February, Brian's sister got him a two month subscription to Blockbuster Online. After waiting eight months for him to start up the subscription, we all decided it would be better if I were in charge of it. Our first three movies arrived today. I guess I know what I'm doing this weekend. If nothing else, Brian's sister is going to get her money's worth out of that gift.

Wednesday, October 19

bathroom remodel: day 24

I came. I saw. I primed.

I finished priming the bathroom this evening. Sort of. We still have holes in the wall (and will be creating more, I'm sure) from our ongoing electrical work. But, I'll be able to spot prime those areas, so the bulk of my priming work is done. It's surprising how much better the bathroom looks already.

Brian worked a little on the vanity this evening. Once he gets the base done and I finish it, we're going to install it so that we can get a sink in the bathroom (assuming our vanity top ever comes in). Then he'll work on the doors and the drawers at his leisure. As long as his leisure gets them completed before Thanksgiving, that is.

Tuesday, October 18

mary, mary

I just finished reading this book last week. It was ok. There was a "plot twist" at the end that I saw coming from about 100 miles away. I do enjoy Ed McBain books, though, and I did enjoy this one. It's just not a "must read". Ed McBain is the pseudonym of the author Evan Hunter. I have not read any of Evan Hunter's books. One thing that intrigues me about Ed McBain is the fact that he wrote a book with Evan Hunter. Exactly how do you write a book with yourself? It was probably just a publicity stunt, but it kind of makes me want to read the book just to see what's up. I should probably read an Evan Hunter novel before I do that to see if he has a different writing style.

bathroom remodel: days 22 & 23

Check another thing off the list! The past two evenings were spent replacing the old outlet and adding an additional one. This involved cutting seven holes in the wall so that the new cable could be run. Ugh. I guess I will never be done with patching the walls. Luckily, the area that we cut into will be hidden by the vanity so I guess I don't really even need to fix it, but I'm far way too anal retentive to leave a bunch of holes in the wall.

I also did a little patching of the walls the past two evenings. I think those walls are just about ready. I need to prime before this weekend's planned project of installing the tub surround, so they better be ready soon.

One one hand, it seems like things are rolling along. On the other hand, I know we still have a ton of work to do. I guess if we keep chipping away, it'll be done eventually.

Sunday, October 16

bathroom remodel: day 21

I guess I will take some credit for doing work in the bathroom today. Brian and Jacob were at the Steeler game all day so I filled my day with fun things like cleaning the kitchen cupboards and working on the bathroom.

We've come to the conclusion that the toilet really works, so I hacksawed off the ends of the mounting bolts and snapped the bolt covers on. Earlier in the day, I ran to Home Depot to buy some more stuff for our project--most importantly a new chain for the flushing mechanism and a light bulb for the exhaust fan. We needed a new chain because our toilet has such great flushing power that it managed to flush the old chain down the drain the first day we used the toilet. I had a temporary fix in, but wanted to get the right part in there. I, of course, was not able to find the right part, but I was able to improvise with what I bought. I also adjusted the flush lever because it was not working as I would've liked. And, I caulked around the toilet base.

After all of this, I did some more drywall work. The good news is that I should be done with that soon (except for the holes Brian is going to be putting into the walls for the electrical work, that is).

stupid dog

I hate to say it, but dogs really are kind of stupid.

I found the link to this video on One Good Thing. It is freaking hilarious.

bathroom remodel: day 20

Yesterday, Brian installed our new exhaust fan/light combination unit in the bathroom, so check that one off the list! He did some other wiring as well. His dad also stopped by and installed a GFCI breaker in our circuit box. This is required by code since we put the fan/light in the ceiling over the shower. And, it's not a bad idea either way to have all of the electrical work in the bathroom protected by a GFCI.

I mostly played "gopher" yesterday and got stuff for Brian as he was working. It was a long day for him, but at least a few things got wrapped up. There is still a bit of electrical work to do, though. Namely, our new wall sconces need to be installed and unfortunately for Brian, they are not going in the same location as our current lights. And we also need to put in an additional wall outlet. This will probably be easier to do, but both projects will involve cutting holes in the wall and running wires through them. Ugh. Not sure when all of this is going to get done. It was nice having last week off of the project, but I think we're going to need to work in there a bit this coming week.

Saturday, October 15

dog flu

Like I don't have enough to worry about already: Pet owners worry as dog flu spreads across U.S.

new job

Brian got a new job. Woohoo! He started this past Monday. The job is in Johnstown, which is cool because he has basically spent the past 10 years driving to the Altoona area to work. You can't do that forever, that's for sure. Plus, now that Jake's older, he'll be around for whatever is going on with him--school activities, sports, and whatnot. And the recent rise in the cost of gasoline was killing us, so our savings in gas and wear-and-tear is just an added bonus.

Last night, we went out to celebrate. We wanted to go to Big Dogz, but their parking lot was full so we figured that was a bad sign. Then we went to the Bistro and you had to wait for a table there. Then we went to Chilis and their parking lot was packed (plus, we didn't really want to go there), so we decided on the Alibi instead. Apparently Friday night is not an ideal day to go out for dinner in Johnstown. The Alibi was pretty packed, too, but there were more people at the bar versus at the tables. We had a nice dinner and then hit Brogies for some bikewear. Brian needed a dressier leather jacket so he can ride his bike to work. Brogies happened to be having a sale so he was also able to get a new pair of boots. Good deal.

Thursday, October 13

my current obsession

As promised, no work has been done on the bathroom since the weekend. This has given me a chance to concentrate on my other favorite pastime--obsessing about the impending avian flu pandemic. Sure, we've been hearing about it for a few years now, but it seems ever so close to happening now. Perhaps not this year, but sometime soon, I'd imagine. In the meantime, I'll be stocking up on food, water, and ammo. Blame it on reading of The Stand one time too many.


Bush teleconference with soldiers staged.

I caught this on the news this evening and couldn't believe my ears.

Monday, October 10


My mom and I split another half a hog this year. I learned an important lesson last year--always order the pig a few weeks before the Cambria County Fair. This ensures getting a "fair pig" (in more ways than one).

The ham and bacon came in last Friday. I baked our ham on Saturday. I found a nifty recipe for ham soup in Penzeys One magazine. It called for a ham bone and since I had one, I decided to try it out. As an aside, I've been ordering all of my spices from Penzeys for years now. Excellent quality.

The recipe turned out great, but it takes forever to cook. I also had to add extra water more than once (otherwise, I would've had ham and bean stew). Here's the recipe:

Gram's Bean Soup

3 quarts water
1 onion, halved
1 stalk celery, halved
1 meaty ham bone or a large ham shank
2 bay leaves
2 cloves

1 lb. bag dry beans (navy, pea, or northern) soaked in a large bowl of water overnight
1 lb. ham, diced (3-4 cups)
2 carrots, peeled, ends removed, diced
4 medium potatoes, diced (about 4 cups)
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. savory leaves
1 tsp. salt (optional--some hams are salty)
1/2-1 tsp. black pepper

Place all the stock ingredients in a soup pot. Over fairly high heat, bring quickly to a simmer, then reduce heat and simmer at least 2 hours, skimming occasionally. Strain and return to the cleaned pot. Add beans, cook 1 hour, add ham, carrots, potatoes, thyme, savory, half the salt and pepper. Simmer another hour, until beans and potatoes are tender. Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired.

Yield: 3-4 quarts soup
Prep time: 10 minutes (yeah, right)
Cooking time: 4 hours

Sunday, October 9

bathroom remodel: day 19

We did a little work this afternoon/evening. Brian installed our new ceiling light and removed the old exhaust fan and plugged the hole (since we are putting the new fan in a different location). I did some drywall patching. A few more coats of drywall compound and I should be done. I also caulked around the baseboard tiles--again--I just can't get that to look how I'd like it to.

I think we're both convinced that the toilet is working properly. However, the stupid flushing mechanism is broken so we can't use it anyway. The chain that connects to the handle to the mechanism apparently detached itself and got flushed down the toilet. We don't have a spare chain on hand and neither of us felt like running to the hardware store today so the toilet is out of commission for now. I might try rigging something up if I can find something that will work.

I think we're mostly going to take the week off and catch up on other stuff around the house.

Saturday, October 8

bathroom remodel: day 18

As it usually goes, we didn't get to work as much as we would've liked today, but we still managed to wrap some things up. Jacob's school had an event this morning/afternoon. When we returned from it, we started to work in the bathroom. Brian picked up a Fluidmaster wax-free bowl gasket for the toilet at Lowe's this morning. We installed it and the toilet in short order. It seems to be working. Unlike last time, there's no water running into the woodshop when we flush the toilet. However, Brian has banned us all from using the toilet until Monday night because that is the magical night when he'll be convinced the toilet is actually working. In the meantime, we're just going to flush it at random times and check for running water in the room below. I believe this is known as the Guzo Methodology of Toilet Testing. Or something like that.

After that, he installed the last of the drywall around the tub. Jacob and I then had to go to an anniversary party for one of my relatives. It didn't take a lot of arm-twisting to get Brian to stay home and work on the vanity. As I understand, all of the pieces for the base are cut to fit and ready to assemble.

Thursday, October 6

the power of the holy ghost***

It has been suggested by more than one person that perhaps our bathroom is possessed by malign spirits and that is the reason why we're having so many problems with our remodeling project. So, I performed an exorcism of sorts this evening. Brian's skeptical, but we'll see how things go from now on. I'll keep you posted.

Already, I see an improvement. I wouldn't say we worked in the bathroom this evening, but we did disconnect the toilet to see what the problem was. The job was surprisingly easy (it doesn't take long to disconnect a toilet) and we didn't make a mess because we sucked all of the water out of the toilet with a shop vac before attempting anything. Yesterday's problem turned out to be a simple misalignment of the wax ring. I think we might try one of the new non-wax gaskets for our next attempt. That way, if there are any issues, you can make adjustments rather than run to Lowe's for yet another wax ring.

***Clutch, "Burning Beard", Robot Hive/Exodus

Wednesday, October 5

bathroom remodel: day 17

Two words more than adequately describe this evening: toilet disaster.

With a little effort on Brian's part, the toilet was installed. We were happily playing with the new flushing mechanism when I noticed a little bit of water on the floor. That sucked because obviously the seal between the toilet and the flange wasn't good. It was too late to work any further, so we started cleaning up, with the intention of re-tackling the project some other day. I went to the woodshop to put some stuff away and saw gallons and gallons of water all over the floor, dripping from the ceiling. Most notably, it was all over the maple that is reserved for the vanity.

Lessons learned:
1. flush once and check the woodshop for leaks
2. hire a plumber

Tuesday, October 4

bathroom remodel: day 16

Things certainly didn't go how I hoped today. Right after work, I busted my ass to get the toilet and tub areas painted. Our intention was to install the toilet this evening. We started working on that after supper only to find that the new shutoff valve we bought was the wrong kind. We went to the hardware store up the street and bought a new one. This one was the wrong size. Then we ran to Lowe's and bought another one. This time it worked.

Brian attached the wax ring to the toilet and set it on the floor. It didn't look like it fit properly (it was too small--probably because the ceramic tile raised the height of the floor). Since it was 9:30, we didn't feel like running to Lowe's again, so this will have to wait until tomorrow. Also, the bolts that were in the toilet flange were too short. New bolts were supplied with the wax ring and they look like they'll work, but we had a scare when we thought the old bolts weren't going to come out.

This is the worst project we have ever worked on or ever will.

Monday, October 3

bathroom remodel: day 15

Will it ever end?

I actually feel like we accomplished something today. After I got home from work, I texture painted the bathtub area. After Brian got home from work, we removed the rest of the damaged plaster from around the tub and replaced some of it with drywall. We didn't even work that long today. I guess I feel a sense of accomplishment because there is no more damaged plaster. Hooray for us! Granted, I'll have a lot of patching to do once we get the rest of the drywall in, but since the tub surround is going to cover all of it, I can get away with doing a half-assed job for my patching.

If tomorrow goes how I hope it does, I will finally feel like we're getting somewhere with this project. Keep your fingers crossed...

Sunday, October 2

stupid cat

I forgot to mention this in today's bathroom remodeling post. After Brian cut the hole in the roof, out popped the cat onto the roof. I thought we were going to have to call the fire company to get her off. It took a few minutes of coaxing, but Brian managed to get her to go back through the hole and into the attic. A few minutes later, she popped her head out again, but Brian was on the ladder and made her go back in the attic. It would've made a great picture, though. But, I was not prepared for a potential photo op this evening.

kiss the girls

Brian and I caught this movie last week. It was based on the James Patterson novel of the same name. In fact, this might have been the first Patterson novel I ever read. I mostly wanted to watch the movie so I could see how they handled the Alex Cross character. In the movie, he is played by Morgan Freeman, who is rather old. In reality (and given his age in the books), he should be played by someone like Denzel Washington. And really, who would you rather look at for two hours--Morgan Freeman or Denzel Washington? I think the choice is clear. Unfortunately, I missed the beginning of the movie and apparently with it, the interaction with his family, so I may never know.

They didn't really have too much going on with his partner, either. It's been so long since I read the book that I don't remember if this is how the original story went. I'm guessing not, though. Anyway, I thought it was a decent movie, but it probably would've been better had I not known the entire plot.

bathroom remodel: day 14

I was motivated to do all kinds of stuff today, but remodel the bathroom wasn't one of them. So, I did a bunch of other random stuff while Brian was at band practice this afternoon.

There are many undesirable tasks in our bathroom remodeling project. Number one on Brian's list was installing the roof duct for the new bathroom fan. We did this today. Or rather, he did. I did have to crawl in the attic and drill the center hole for the ductwork (Brian claims to have a problem with his knee and was therefore unable to crawl around in the attic. I, on the other hand, think this was my punishment for making him remodel the bathroom). But beyond holding the ladder, my work ended there.

The reason this task was so undesirable for him (besides the very fact that he had to cut a hole in the roof--that just doesn't ever seem like a good thing to be doing) was that he had to stand on top of a 16 foot ladder for 90 minutes in order to complete the task. Our roof is too steep to stand on so the project had to be done from the air.

All in all, I'd say it went pretty well. It only took two hours total, which isn't that bad, I guess. Now, all we have to do is wait for it to rain in order to determine if it was a true success or not. The way things have been going with this project, I might as well put a bucket in the attic tonight.

Saturday, October 1

bathroom remodel: day 13

Will the bathroom ever be done? If we could ever get a full weekend in, it might. Brian spent the morning helping his dad with something and then spent the rest of the day at a Penn State game with my dad. There's not a whole lot I can do when he's not around, but I can paint. So, I texture painted the toilet area. I'm pretty pleased with the results for a number of reasons:
1. It actually looks half decent.
2. I used a sponge rather than a loop roller to apply the texture paint and this method was decidedly less messy than my previous efforts.
3. It didn't take that long to do.
4. So far, it's the only project-related thing that hasn't ended in disaster. Of course, there's still time for that.

All I have to do is paint that area and then we'll be able to install the toilet. I will say one thing--the rest of my painting is going to be done in one fell swoop, so our next priority will be to finish fixing the walls. Now that our tub surround has arrived, it would be nice to get that installed, but I have to paint first. Hence, the new priority. Painting is also dependent on some electrical work. With this project, it seems like everything is dependent on everything else and it's making it really hard to get anything done. It's going to be a busy week...