Thursday, January 16, 2014

Joe Vs. The Toilet

My wife is inspirational.

On Thanksgiving she was doing some laundry and discovered that the washing machine was no longer agitating. The fact that the agitator was not agitating was aggravating and agitating to both The Wife and myself. The washer is more than ten years old, and we've had a repairman come to the house on two earlier occasions to replace a broken part in the agitator.

We discussed the situation and thought it might be time to get a new washing machine. It's old and not really worth another $125 for the repairman to come out and fix it again. This posed several problems:

1) If you get a brand new washing machine, you pretty much have to get a new dryer, too. Our current dryer still works. Not great, but it still works. But, it is also old, and you usually get a better deal when you buy them as a set.

That leads to, 2) A new washer and dryer cost money. Lots of money. We do not have a mason jar full of let's-get-a-new-washer-and-dryer cash buried in our back yard. (Unless the previous home owners left us some unknown hidden treasures.)

C) If we did get a new washer/dryer, that would mean going to the store to make that purchase. Did I mention this happened on Thanksgiving? That would mean we would have to go to the store on Black Friday to shop for the washer. I don't intend to go Black Friday shopping again any time soon. (See: Black Friday Shopping.) The thought of fighting those crowds was even less enticing than the thought of spending that much money.

That's when The Wife decided to think outside the box and do something I never would have thought to do. She decided to try to fix it herself! Her thinking was, "We have nothing to lose." Either she would fix it, and all would be well, or she would not fix it and we would have to buy a new washing machine, which is what we would have to do anyway if she didn't try.

So, she ripped apart the washer and found the part that was broken in the agitator. (I think it was between the widget arm and the flux capacitor.) She then looked it up on the interwebs and ordered a new part from The cost? $4.

Certainly worth more than $4.

Thanks to Amazon Prime's* 2-day shipping, the part arrived on Monday. The Wife took the part downstairs and got the washing machine fixed up lickety-split! (Or is that "lickety-spit?") (And what does that even mean, anyway?)

[*No promotional considerations were given to me by Amazon Prime for this free plug. But I'd be willing to field offers.]

My wife is amazing! With just a little bit of gumption and effort she was able to save us hundreds of dollars! We once again have a working washing machine!


A few weeks later, I had an argument with the toilet.

For a couple of months the toilet in our guest/kid's bathroom had been acting unruly. Sometimes it would hiss uncontrollably. Sometimes it would take two or three flushes to get everything down. Sometimes I would have to hold the handle down for five seconds to get it to flush. Sometimes jiggling the handle would make the hissing stop. Sometimes it wouldn't.

The problem was I could find no reasonable rhyme as to when or why it would do any of these things. There was no discernible pattern as to why those things were happening or how exactly I could make them stop.

That toilet was my nemesis.

My nemesis! (Don't let its calm demeanor fool you. This was a mean, nasty toilet!)

One day, while The Wife was at work and I was home with the kids, the toilet wouldn't stop hissing. I took the lid off to see if I could jiggle, jangle, or otherwise coerce a cease to the hiss. I was seriously thinking about getting The Wife a new toilet for Christmas. (Nothing says "love" like a new toilet!)

That's when  I saw that the floaty ball was full of water. Now, I'm not a plumber (despite what you might think from that gap between the top of my pants and the bottom of my shirt), and I'm about as far from being "Mr. Fix-It" as you can get (See: Joe Fix-It Strikes Out), but even I know that the toilet floaty ball is not supposed to be full of water!

It was then that I used my wife as inspiration: Instead of buying a whole new toilet, maybe I could actually fix the darn thing! And if I couldn't? Well, I guess I could use the money (that we didn't have) that we saved from not buying a new washing machine to buy a new toilet. I had nothing to lose.

So, I went to a strange, foreign place: the hardware store. Unfortunately, they didn't sell just the floaty ball, so I had to buy an entire set of toilet innards. And then it was time to try to actually fix the toilet.

It ended up being much easier than I thought. The hardest part turned out to be extricating the floaty ball from the plastic packaging in which the toilet innards had been encased. I got the floaty ball in place, and it actually floated! No more hissing! No more jiggling! No more jangling! (Although I'll still jangle every once in a while, just for the fun of it.)  Sure, it was three times more expensive than The Wife's fix ($12 for toilet innards compared to $4 for agitator parts), but it was certainly worth it!

Lesson learned? If something is broken down and not working right, instead of throwing it out and buying a new one, maybe you should try to fix it. You've got nothing to lose!

(Hmm...I wonder if this approach would work for Congress?)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

You Say You Want a Resolution


Yes, it's that time. It's time to look at things with a fresh set of bleary eyes. It's time to shake things up and start anew. It's time to start using words like "anew" more often.

It's time for some New Year's resolutions. Here we go:

*I will be more happy this year.

*I will get caught singing in my car when stopped at intersections. And when I do, I will KEEP SINGING!

*I will actually sell something I write for money.

*I will do something to make my wife smile every day.

*I will eat more vegetables.

*I will read at least two books every month.

*I will make my kids laugh. Often.

*I will do a better job of showing my appreciation to my family and friends for all they do for me.

*I will not eat anything out of the vending machines at work for the entire year of 2014.

Has anyone ever made a resolution to eat MORE vending machine food? (I don't think so.)

*At some point this year the first number of my weight will not be a "2." (That means either gaining 80 pounds or losing 20.) (I'm not sure which would be easier.)

*I will be more fun and less fungible.

*I will eat cheese. (I like cheese.)

*I will increase my everyday vocabulary. But, not to the point that I sound pretentious, just enough to occasionally confuse people and make them want to look up words in the dictionary. (Admit it, you're still wondering what "fungible" means, aren't you? I'll admit, I didn't know. I was going to say I would be more fungible this year until I looked the word up and found out the actual meaning.)

*I will climb every two mountains. One of them will be Oxford Peak in Idaho. (I'm serious about this, Andy!)

*I will never get more than three days behind in my journal. (My wife will like this. She gets tired of me trying to get caught up on my journal and asking things like, "Hey, what did we do a week ago on Tuesday?")

*I will get a new job. (I'm 47 years old. It's time I got a career instead of just having a job.)

*I will play more with my kids.

*I will be more confident and less afraid.

*I will write a song.

*I will change the sheets more often.

*I will appreciate my kids more. (People are always saying, "Appreciate your kids while they are this little. Time goes by too fast." So, I will do that.) (Maybe I will work on some sort of time machine to make these "good" years go by slower.)

*I will be nicer. (It's nice to be nice to the nice. And it's even nicer to be nice to the not so nice. It confuses them.)

*I will cook more.

*I will try a new recipe each month. (Cheese and/or bacon will most likely be prominently involved.)

*I will shave at least once a week, whether I need to or not.

*I will do new things.

*I will try new things. (To misquote Yoda, "Do or do not? I can always try.")

*I will clean the car.

*I will write a book. (I might not be finished by the end of the year, but I will at least be halfway through.)

*I will not gripe about the little things so much.

*I will work in the yard more.

*I will not use cuss words. Or curse words. Or swear words. (Dagnabbit, I'm serious about this!)

*I will exercise at least three times a week.

*I will take out my wife on more dates. (Sometimes even without the kids!) (And no, Walmart doesn't count.)

*I will be myself more. (I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but I'm going to find out.)