Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tradesmen Are Both The Best and The Worst

When I last left off, which was, admittedly, too long ago, I mentioned that I needed some plumbing help.  Joe Merritt, Plumber was unable to unclog the, um, clogged piped in my basement and the washing machine was rendered almost unusable.  Joe Recommended a friend of his, I gave him a call, and he showed up the next day.

He parked in the driveway and took a look at the basement.  I let him know that I would have to leave at some point during his few hours of work, so he would have to park his giant blue van on the street, rather than on my terrible property.  He agreed, hopped into his van, and made his way here:

Plumber Crash 001

I watched the journey from driveway to curb.  It was GREAT.

The plumber fired up his van and backed out of the driveway completely.  He then moved his van pretty much where it ended up in the above picture, but decided to fix the angle at which he was parked (which I appreciate) and to do so, he started to back up again.  He slowly backed up and slowly backed up until he had finally smooshed the rear of his van into the telephone pole, also pictured above.

It was hilarious.

He was probably only going about seven miles per hour, but (at the risk of sounding like a pickle commercial), man, what a satisfying crunch.  The result?  I nice tall dent:

Plumber Crash 002

He popped out of the van, once it was finally completely parked, and was livid with himself.  A nice quote – “If my effword effword-up brother did that, I would have fired his ayword.”  he complained about his driving prowess for a few minutes while angrily unloading hi van and getting ready to fish out poop.  He was great.

Another fun conversation I had with him later on (I added only a few ‘yea’s’ and nervous laughter to the conversation) started by him letting me know that he recently lived in my neighborhood.  He said that he used to live only a few streets over from my house and he asked me if I had ever seen a woman walking around the neighborhood with two white dogs on leashes.  I had not.

He then let me know that he was, ahem, “trying to get with that.”  Gross enough.  Also, “she wouldn’t let him because he would have to take her to dinner or some essword like that.”

Why do people tell me these things?  I met the man twenty seven minutes earlier and he was admitting to me that he is a terrible person who tried to have sex with a woman, but wouldn’t take her to dinner first.  Yeesh.  If you want to tell me that story (you shouldn’t), just admit to me that the woman turned you down.  I know it already.  It’s not a secret.

I also learned that he didn’t usually smoke, but he had recently rehired his brother who smokes, so naturally, he started up again.  His brother did a lot of drugs.  his dad is kind of a deadbeat.  Etc.

I did not, and still do not, care about any of this.  Please.  Tradesmen.  Do not continue to tell me these things.  Please just show up on time and do the job you are being paid to do.  No more stories, anecdotes, family secrets or anything else.  Please.

In other news, the heaters are still not installed.  We are using a small, but surprisingly effective space heater on the third floor, as we don’t want to be freezing people.  Since the heaters have not yet been installed, we cannot have the floor Asians start (or finish) the floor reconditioning.  This is terrible, as we can’t rent out these places without refinished floors or, you know, heat.

The good news is, a week and a half after he said he could show up, Dan Costa, Electrician is here now, working away on the first floor.  Yesterday, I received an email from him around 6:30am stating that he’d be by to start working between 10am and 11am. 

I called him at 11:15am, wondering where he was.  Surprisingly, he was not on his way.  He said he would be there in an hour or so, as he was “held up”. 

An hour and a half later, I gave him another call.  He was, this time, back at his office looking for the estimate he did for me.  It would be another half hour or so. 


An hour thereafter, he finally showed up, hopefully to start working, as he said he would be.

Apparently, to Dan Costa, “starting work” means “ask for a check”.  I didn’t, and still do not, have any checks to offer, so I handed him a few hundred bucks in cash and he said he would be back the next day (this morning) around 8am, to start.

One more day without heat.  Hooray.

He showed up this morning right on time.  No he didn’t.  Only a half hour late though, so that was nice.  I handed him a huge check and he is currently working.  he should be finished in the next few days. 

Since he started, I called up the floor Asians and set up their start date.  Next Monday.  Blamo.

Almost finished…

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Live In A Wonderful Neighborhood

No I don’t.

So, over the last few days, I’ve been dealing with smelly things.  The installed washer in the basement, as I mentioned in the last post, doesn’t drain so well.  The three or four five gallon buckets per washer load wasn’t a great time, so I called up Joe Merritt, plumber, to take a look at it, and also replace a few dripping basement water valves.

He showed up a little bit late (surprise) on Monday and headed down to the basement.  I showed him what needed to be done and he got to work.  After a few tens of minutes, I checked in on his progress.  He had replaced all of the valves (three of them) and had moved onto the clogged waste pipe, seen below the pipe with the bucket resting on it here:

We're Back 002

He was prying the PVC pipe back to let it drain a bit into the bucket.  Some really super smelly water was coming out of it.  Like, super extra poopy.

Now, keep in mind that this drain had been sitting idle for months and months before we moved in.  There was likely all kinds of crap (literal and not) sitting in there, drying out, and thus, shrinking a bit.  Once we moved in and started to flood the drain with water from showers and sinks and toilets and hopefully nothing else, that old, dried drain stuff swelled again and made for a slow drain.

Once he had sufficiently and slowly drained the pip of grossness, he started to snake the drain with a small hand snake and I headed back upstairs to not snake a drain with a plumber.

When I returned to the basement after I heard some swearing, I smelled something truly awful.  Just abysmal.  When I finally fought through the stink cloud and found out what the problem was, I was met by a huge pool of drain stuff all over the place.  Apparently, the snaking didn’t go well and to figure things out, Joe Merritt removed the pvc pipe from the sleeve to the left of it.  Big big mistake. 

As soon as he removed the pvc, all kinds of disgusting and old, um, material came flying out of the sleeve.  He caught some of it in a bucket, but there was more than five gallons of material to catch.  The result?  All kinds of poop, grey water, hair and all things disgusting all over the floor.

Better news?  When trying to put the pipe back into the sleeve, he broke the pipe, and the attached trap right off.  Awesome.

We moved the appliances out of the way and got down to cleaning things up.  Well, he did, as I pay him to keep poop off of the floor.  He used the shop vac for a few minutes and brought a bag full of gross out to the garbage can.  Once the chunks were gone, he replaces the pipe and the trap so it was all back to normal.  But much smellier.

Here’s the after picture:

Poop Pipe 001

And another, for fun:

Poop Pipe 002

Everywhere that is wet on the floor in those pictures is where the drain sprayed grey water and poop.  There was a lot and it smelled very terrible.  It still kind of does after two days of open windows.  Gross.

I paid Joe Merritt for his troubles and he left.  he gave me the number of a plumber who actually unclogs drains, rather than just does rough/finish plumbing and he came here yesterday.  I will write about that shortly.  Why not now?  Because I have better things to write about.

As I mentioned in the title of this post, I live in a crappy neighborhood.  The evidence has been mounting for awhile now (Exhibit A, Exhibit B) and I think, based upon what happened last week next door, the verdict can finally be rendered beyond a reasonable doubt.  Here is the nail in the defense team’s proverbial coffin:

Around 11pm, I was in the living room watching an illegal feed of the Celtics overtime win in Boston over the Chicago Bulls.  In the final few seconds of the overtime period, I heard a bunch of yelling and commotion from outside.  Since the yelling in my neighborhood usually amuses me (it’s usually a teenaged guy yelling about a girl who wronged him, seriously), I opened the window next to me to listen in.  Nothing crazy, just a girl yelling about something and a guy trying to explain himself. 

After a few minutes of this, Amanda, who was in bed, appearing out of the bedroom and asked me if I heard all of this.  Of course I did.  Since there isn’t much space between buildings around here, it’s tough to tell the directionality of yelling in the neighborhood.  I figured it was coming from around the block, but Amanda let me know that it was, in fact, coming from the parking lot of the house next to us.


I bounded into the bedroom, we turned the lights off inside (as to not be seen), high fived and hunkered down for some greatness.  We were not disappointed.  It was a group of about five or six people (of college age, but most certainly not enrolled anywhere accredited), all visible from our bedroom window, milling about around a four door sedan.  There were two or three girls, one yelling hysterically,  two fellows near the car and one guy who seemed to be playing intermediary between them all.  It was clearly the two fellows near the car versus the hysterical girl and her roommates, with the third guy trying to calm people down/keep the fellows in the yard.

After a bit of time, one of the two fellows, started to get really nervous, antsy, as it was revealed that the police had been called and would be arriving shortly.  he really did not want to be there when the police arrived, but he never actually had the nerve to run.  We surmised that it was because the car was his and he would be caught one way or another (either now, or later I guess).

Knowing that something funny might happen, I grabbed my video camera and got to immortalizing the experience.  The audio is a bit soft, and it was nighttime, and thus, dark, so I apologize.  Oh, and there’s swearing, so heads up:

So here’s what we think went down: The crying over the trunk fellow drove his friend, the other arrested guy in the white striped black leather jacket, to the house next to ours.  The other arrested fellow apparently had a key to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment.  He used the key to enter her apartment while his driver waited outside.  While in the apartment, he managed to grab her computer and television.  Before long, his ex-girlfriend came home and parked behind the perpetrator’s car, boxing it in.  She flipped out.

The police came and made me laugh a lot.  Apparently, he broke into the apartment and tried to steal his ex-girlfriend’s stuff because she, *throat clear*, she owed him five American dollars.  This guy broke into a house to steal things over five dollars.   He was arrested and went to jail, at least for one night, for five dollars.  He convinced his pants peeing friend to be an accomplice with a car for five dollars.


This neighborhood is hilarious.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Back In Business. Or Rhode Island With Minimal Business.

So.  The Road Trip is over.  We came back a week or so ago and have been kind of sitting around ever since.  I’m still in the process of writing all about it here, but figured I’d get my regular house blog readers up to speed.  All seven of you.

Miraculously, nothing in the house or outside of the house was destroyed.  I was shocked to say the very least.  Not only was nothing in the house burned, exploded, melted, eaten, broken, leaking, busted, stolen, ruined, etc., but the house was in better condition than when we left it.  Also?  Amanda’s terrible car wasn’t even stolen or broken into.  Can’t win them all I guess…

As I said, the house was in better condition than when we left it for five plus weeks.  This was because I asked Al Medina, General contractor to finish up most things in the house while we were gone.  I figured that since we got too much money from the insurance company, I could give some of it to Al to keep things moving while we were gone.

When we first got back, I checked the mail:

We're Back 001

We have a mail slot, so it could just pile up inside the door.  It piled up for sure.

One of the things that Al and his folks did while we were gone was hang some cabinets in the first and second floor kitchens:

We're Back 007We're Back 003

He also finished up each galley, including painting the second floor countertop grey:

We're Back 008

He replaced the first floor shower surround (as the old one was hilarious and made partly of wood):

We're Back 004

New bathroom floors for the first and second floor bathrooms:

We're Back 005We're Back 011

Finished up the painting on the first and second floors:

We're Back 006We're Back 012

There are still some little things that he overlooked, like this bathroom floor trim:

We're Back 010

For the most part though, Al Medina and his crew are finished up here.  Still to be done though?  Refinishing the floors, installation of electric baseboard heaters and a little bit of plumbing.  Oh, and finding tenants that only smoke heroin a few times a month…

The washer and dryer have been installed in the basement.  That is good news.  The bad news?  The waste pipe that drains the washer is super clogged.  I found this out a fun way, when testing out the washer.  A bunch of water came spewing out of it.  not as bad as the last house, but still, stinky water is no good.

I sat in the basement for an hour watching the washing machine fill up and drain.  When it drained, I got to unplug it, then head outside to dump out a bucket of dirty, detergent filled water.  The bucket pictured here:

We're Back 002

Apparently, the washer uses three five gallon buckets of water per cycle.  I wish that was in the manual.

Joe Merritt, Plumber is headed here Monday morning to take care of that, as well as replace some leaky valves in the basement.  No big deal.

Hopefully, Dan Casta, Electrician will also make his way here this coming week to install the heaters and hook up the brand new electrical meters that were somehow installed when I was away.  I was, again, shocked.

Next installment?  A video of what happened at 10pm or so at the neighbors house.  You won’t want to miss it.