Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hallelujah! I do believe in miracles!

In order to properly enjoy this post you must follow the link below and click on "Melody"...Go ahead, I'll wait...

Hallelujah Chorus

It was a freezing cold afternoon. The sun did little to warm the extremities numb from the excursion to the power meter. However, I was hopeful because of the small victory over the main breaker. A slide to the "OFF" side and then back to the "ON" started the whirring dial in motion again.

We could hear the blower of the heater rumbling in the basement and we returned to the condo. The dial read 41 degrees not surprising considering the power had been out for about 4 days. I stood in the semi-warmth of the window and let some warm air pass over my cold legs...but I had a job to do.

I had knocked out the power Thursday when I presume that I had completed the curcuit by pigtailing the hot and neutral from the same circuit...don't ask. Anyway, instead of the circuit failing the whole house went silent.

Well, now we had the power back and I tackled the beast...3 black wires, 2 white wires & a red wire on a copper post....merry freakin' Christmas. Jeff had "efficiently" (read the sarcasm...please!) removed the existing outlets by cutting them off with wire cutters and then trying to go back and put the wires back where they belonged. This wouldn't be bad except the room is wired with a loop switch that controls the "lamp" outlet at the top of all the outlet sets so there is a red "traveler" and a hot white. Just let your eyes glaze over...I had to learn this stuff from scratch this weekend.

Anway...to make a very long story short I FIXED IT! Once I figured out which black was "hot" and that the light switch completes the circuit (hence the hot white actually goes on the bottom) I was overcome with the spirit of dead electricians of Christmases past and I did it!

Even when at first it wasn't working I moved to the terminal outlet and found that it was miswired (yes, I beat on him again) but did have power I knew what I must do. I pigtailed the porch light to the hot and put them in the bottom outlet, put the red in the top black outlet to the bottom and turned on circuit 11 AND...(this is where you here the angels singing) HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH!

I couldn't have been prouder of my little chandelier twinkling in the glow of electricity than Mr. Parker of "A Christmas Story" was of his glowing "Major Award" proudly displayed in the window...it was my "electric sex" as the adult Raphie would say but my lamp doesn't wear fishnet!

Lessons Learned:

Remove one outlet at a time, especially when it's not a clear cut wiring plan that you are used to.

There is usually only one "hot" wire coming into a box. You can find it with the probe testers by putting one end in the metal box screw hole (the ground) and the other end on the end of the black wires. It has to be on but you'll be okay if you if you only touch one at a time and keep the neutrals out of the way so you don't complete a circuit.

Wiring is a lot like Mastermind...only it can kill you! I love Mastermind.

Friday, December 09, 2005

She-Ra, Mistress of the Universe

Today I wiped out a civilization but it wasn't my fault, they were in my space.

I told the kids that bugs don't get squished as long as they stay in their territory. If they hide in their little corners or stay outside then we can both go about our business.

Today unfortunately I came upon a nest of fire bugs. That's the unofficial name of box elder bugs. I guess the red stripes gave them this childhood name. Anyway...

I wanted to clean the slider doors off the master and noticed a couple of bugs on the window but then when I tried to move the screen a whole cascade started. I ran for the vacuum and started sucking up the combination of live and dead bugs (it's been like 10 degrees here) and they just kept coming. I wonder if that is bug outer darkness...a vacuum bag.

When I finally got to washing the windows I felt something watching me. I looked over to the screen I'd set aside and saw a single fire bug STARING at me. Now you may call me paranoid but the thing had its head over the side of the screen and just froze there LOOKING. I told him the bad news. She-Ra, Mistress of his Universe had wiped out his civilization.

When I was done I took the vacuum to the screen again but to no avail because as I was washing the inside windows, HE came back. This time he'd moved down the screen to get a better view of She-Ra the Destroyer and just froze there.

I will never look at fire bugs the same way...because I know they are watching me. By the way...can bugs get out of vacuum bags?

Lesson Learned:

Those little black dots on your screen may be hiding a whole colony of something. Just don't look up with your mouth opened. (No, I didn't swallow any bugs...just sucked them up.)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

19th Nervous Breakdown

"Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown.
Oh, who’s to blame, that girl’s just insane.
Well nothing I do don’t seem to work,
It only seems to make matters worse. oh please."

What does a 1/4 inch and an 18 dollar beadboard panel equal?
Well, if it's a 1/4 inch missing then I guess we get a nervous breakdown. I carefully measured the area behind the range and transfered the measurements to a piece of beadboard and when I put it up it was off just enough that I couldn't fix it. Now this happened the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and looking back I shouldn't have freaked out so much but Jeff says I made faces he's never seen before.

You know when Bill Cosby describes his wife having laser beams coming out of her eyes and her face splitting in half? Well, I guess that pretty much sums up what happened. Jeff made it worse by saying "I cut the beadboard for the bathroom and it fit perfectly." Could the man have any WORSE timing? I guess it was his attempt to comfort me???? Like, "I'm sorry you have cancer but I just found out my cholesterol is down!"

I guess that the pressure is getting to me. I'm feeling the quicksand effect. Each time I go to the condo I feel like I'm in a time warp. A couple of days ago I had decided that my family needed to eat so I went shopping in the morning so I got to the condo at 1:30. It was a gray day anyway so it was hard to tell what time it was but I felt like an hour had passed and the announcer on the radio said it was 4:10!

I don't know how it happens. Some days are better where I accomplish quite a lot but then I look around and wonder when it will ever finish. I guess the key is to see the glass half full.

Lesson Learned:

TEMPLATE, TEMPLATE, TEMPLATE. When you have a complicated cut make a paper template. Newspaper is a lot cheaper than beadboard.

We all make mistakes (except Jeff of course. GRRRRR!) If you mismeasure it can usually be fixed easily, sometimes with chaulk and a little spit. But we had to go home after I had my breakdown and missed a days worth of work. Being angry while you're working can also lead to accidents.