Tuesday, May 15, 2007

You gotta burn incense.

Ririsu writes:

Back in January, during a particularly warm spell here in Wuhan, I had my bedroom window open a lot. The window is of the sliding variety and can slide in two directions. After having the window open for about a week straight, I tried to close it one night and it wouldn't shut. When a maintenance woman came to fix it, she jammed a screwdriver into a seemingly delicate area of the frame and forced the lock, then told me I should no longer use the window—under any circumstances. Then my room flooded and I was living in mildew hell and so I opened the window again. It REALLY won't shut now, and is stuck about four inches from the frame, which means there's a space of four x forty-eight inches in which all of the elements can find their way into my room. The two most heinous constant visitors are the smells coming from an open sewage drain below my window and the relentless mosquitoes of Central China. I keep the curtain closed, for the most part, which throws the mosquitoes off for about an hour but does nothing for the sewage smell. For that, I tape lit incense to the frame of the window and let the smoke attack and numb my nostrils before the human waste wafts in as well. Seems to be working sort of. I feel like I'm back in college because I accidentally burned a black scar into the window frame when a hearty stick of incese kept right on burning...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

You gotta unhook the thing and then rehook it.

The shower curtain. Need I continue? Ever since we switched to the C-shaped rings, all has been bedlam, the bathroom equivalent of trench warfare. An endless no-man's-land without the potential for movement of any kind. Progress? You think progress is still possible? You'll be lucky to see tomorrow.

Now, the shower head spits water all over the place. In order to keep the floor around that side of the shower dry, you have to unhook one of the shower rings and rehook it so that the shower curtain is pulled taut around the pipe that leads to the showerhead.

Don't worry about creating a diagram of this in your mind. That exercise will only drive you insane.

The point is: I fear I am on the brink of surrender.

You gotta call them to fix it again.

The phone! What is with the phone? We had the jack fixed once, but it's on the blink again. And now, because of it, we couldn't transfer our home phone service, like we wanted. The new company finally just gave up and told us they couldn't complete the switch because of this problem.

So it's another $50 service call.

And yet another realization that they are ALL in cahoots! All of them! The phone companies, the jack companies, the service call companies (?).

"Nothing stinks like collusioin."

Voltaire did not actually say this, as far as I know.

You gotta use the key.

The key? It has come to that? About a month ago, my car died. The battery gave up the ghost. And ever since then, the key fob hasn't worked, so I can't lock and unlock the doors remotely.

I feel like a 19th century tradesperson! A chimneysweep or other unwashed type.

There I am, digging the key into the lock, turning it the wrong way, feeling like a fool!

Friday, August 25, 2006

You gotta ditch that thing.

The phone. The stupid cordless phone. The stupid, cunning cordless phone.

First, it was the intermittently bad reception. Then it was the battery that needed charging every two and a half minutes. We had finally had enough.

But put off action for far too long.

Then—enough! The phone is history, a mouldering relic of technology gone bad. (Welcome to the trash heap, "phone.")

We now have a new phone, and this one exists to serve. (Read: it knows its place.)

Who's laughing now?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

UPDATE: You gotta pull it gently.

Long ago, we got new shower rings, and they were an instant disappointment.

The situation has deteriorated. Now, naked rings leer at us from the shower rod hoop thing. At any time, three or four rings dangle idly, supporting nothing! What is their purpose! Are they mocking us?

You gotta turn it off near the floor.

The shower continues to sabotage our domestic existence. The warm tap—or just the handle?—has gone mental. We tried taking it apart, installing new pieces, etc. And for a little while (a day?) it seemed to work okay. Now, you can sometimes spin the warm tap around and around and it makes no purchase. Once hot water comes out, it comes out strong and very hot. To turn it off, you need to turn it off at the little pipe by the floor. I don't know the technical terms, and I don't want to know! I will not stain my patriotic mind with such words. It smacks of collusion! Some say we must know our enemy. Yeah, nice try.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

You gotta prop it up on the floor.

One of the cabinet doors just came off. A screw popped, and then another, and then we had a cabinet door-sized hole in the kitchen. Now it's just sitting there in front of the hole. Unacceptable.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

You gotta block it with your hand.

Ah, pump soap. Pump soap, pump soap, pump soap. (I was shaking my head as I typed that.) The kind we have in the bathroom now is poorly designed. Or, I mean, the nozzle part of the mechanism is poorly designed. If you put your hand where you would normally put your hand when dispensing pump soap, when you pumped it, the soap would shoot out and get you in the shirt front. So you gotta block the jetting spray with your hand instead. And the hard part is, you have to remember to do this. Which you won't. Not every time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

You gotta use your own brain.

BattleCobra90000 writes:

Getting a new microwave oven is an exciting event for any young family. Our last 'wave had dead keys (for example, the number 5) and took what seemed like hours to heat up a measly stick of butter. Enter Goliath. Not only is he more powerful than his predecessor, he's more "intelligent." I put "intelligent" in "quotes" to indicate that maybe he's not such a smarty after all.

I put a warm cup of coffee in our new oven, select "Reheat," and press "3" for "Beverage, 1-3 servings." I'm well within operating parameters here: I don't want to heat my beverage, just re-heat it. My 10 ounces of coffee seems well within the range of 1-3 servings. I'm confident. I press "Start." I wait.

Then something goes off in my head. "Wow, it's been in there a long time." I turn around just in time to see brown lava erupting from my cup. Goliath has boiled my coffee! That's not smart! That's stupid!

Stupid Goliath—from now on, I'm using my own brain.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

You gotta make like a safecracker.

If you want to get the water just the right temperature in the shower, you need to use the Safecracker Technique. This involves precise movements of the cold water knob. Imagine you are a safecracker. You're spinning the dial, clicking one tiny notch at a time. It's like that, except, instead of packets of crisp twenties, your goal is only a shower at the right temperature. One millimeter too far, and the shower's freezing. One millimeter too far in the other direction, and it's scalding. It really tests your patience and your fine motor control.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

You gotta move the jugs from under the soap thing.

Has anyone ever created a soap dispenser that does not drip messy squiggles of soap after you've dispensed?

In the bathroom at work, two jugs of drain opener sit directly underneath the wall-mounted soap dispenser.

Every time you push the soap dispensing bar to wash your hands, stringy drips land on the jugs. They are now wrapped in sticky pink cocoons.

NOTE: I should say "You would gotta move the jugs from under the soap thing" because, hey, it's not my bathroom. Or my drain opener jugs.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bathroom Faucet vs. Shower: Fantasia on a Theme

Which Do I Hate More?

The bathroom tap on vanity stands
To cleanse each pilgrim's toil-stain’d hands
But O! What delicate treachery abounds
Within those hellish pounding sounds!

For offerings, the rules are tight
And rare's the pilgrim who offers right.
On twisting out the hot, poor prayers find
Such moaning as to rend one's mind

They sear, they burn, they rattle bones,
These too-hot, too-demented moans.
Pilgrims leap to summon cold,
Hearts a-racing, blood made bold.

To bathtub tap, and your even’s rest,
Harried pilgrims, from journeys’ stress!
But respite flees on lupine legs
As ev’ry weary pilgrim begs.

If too much cold be added in
That baleful bellow uncoils within
And tub pipes loose upon the world
A shrieking misery unfurl'd.

The cold! Too much! Show mercy please—
Tub plumbing does not scald, but freeze.
Hasten hot into the tub
Before that long-awaited scrub.

While sink tap quails at the hot
Tub pipes shrink from what is not.
Which of them levies the dearer cost—
The one that asks for heat, or frost?

Turn your back, pilgrim sapped,
Renounce them both who leave you tapped.
Try the third while you yet think.
Behold your savior: kitchen sink.

Monday, January 02, 2006

UPDATE: You don't gotta hold it open anymore.

So long, crappy, broken metal foot-pedal trashcan.

Hello, crappy plastic swing-flap dome trashcan.

I don't like this one either.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

You gotta hold it open.

This simple plastic trashcan in the kitchen. Way back when, for a while after we bought it, you stepped on the black pedal and the lid rose up. No longer. The mechanism snapped, so now you need to lift the lid up with your hand, which completely defeats the purpose of the keep-your-hands-clean pedal.

And now we sometimes need to hold the lid up while disposing of garbage. This is blatantly unfair.

We had a sturdier, metal trashcan that did the same thing to us, the son of a bitch.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

You gotta turn it on all the way.

Ah, the dimmer switch. Brilliant idea. Finally, I can control how much light my lamps emit. Look at me, throwing off the shackles of my techno-slavery! Emancipation!

Or, well, no.

With this one lamp, if you fail to turn the dimmer switch to its brightest point, the lamp buzzes. So... it's not really a dimmer switch, it's just a slow-motion on/off switch. Now you have to do more work just to turn the light on.


Friday, July 29, 2005

You gotta muffle it with a pillow.

This clock radio we keep in the basement is defective. (That's one reason we keep it in the basement.) The volume knob no longer works gradually, like any decent volume knob. Now it has two distinct volumes: inaudible and way too loud. We leave the radio on when we're fostering feral cats in the basement, so they can have some "company." But we have to muffle the sound with a pillow, or else it would drive the cats crazy. They've got enough problems.

Thanks a lot, stupid radio.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

SPECIAL: Faucet found to be evil.

The faucets are finally getting their comeuppance! A judge has seen through their facade of innocent water dispensing and ordered the faucets' human lackeys to pay $125,000 for spreading evil. Or, whatever it was. Go read the article.

The faucet "turned itself on"! (Emphasis added, but can you blame me?)

Friday, July 15, 2005

You gotta use the outlet in the bathroom.

The electrical system in our house is making monkeys out of us. The kitchen outlets went off-line one by one. Now, we gotta plug in the microwave in the bathroom.

No offense to the hillbillies of the world, but this... This is unacceptable. Snaking an extension cord from the kitchen into the bathroom? Who wants to live like that?

Are the electricians in on this? Are they double-agents?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

SPECIAL: Defeat the cyclops in your home.

Are you stalked by a one-eyed operative? Translation: Is your television boring into your mind and filling it with tawdry propaganda? (It's okay, you can admit it.)

I am pleased to tell you of a new weapon in Our Struggle, introduced to me by (let us say) an ally. Behold the TV Kozy!

You laugh, but this device can blind the cyclops! Fight the power!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

You gotta put the pieces together just right.

My clip-on sunglasses snapped in half. Now, to use them, I need to clip the half that has the clippy part onto the glasses, and then work the other half under the clippy part. And even then, they're lopsided and I look like I got into a fight.

Sure, I could shell out $3 for new clips-ons, but then they would win!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

You gotta pull it gently.

We bought new shower rings—the kind that are C-shaped, instead of O-shaped. They're easier to remove when it's time to clean the shower curtain.

Oh, but there's a trade-off! Every time you open or close the shower curtain, you must pull gently, or else several "rings" will come off the bar, and what good is that?

They do this on purpose!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

You gotta use every remote.

The remotes are in league with each other, and sabotage is their game.

The TV remote is on the fritz. New batteries, old batteries, it doesn't matter. We had to buy a universal remote. But there are TV remote functions that the universal remote can't handle. There are also DVD remote functions that it can't handle. So we need to choreograph this whole, stupid ballet just to, say, change the time on the TV.

Enough already!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

You gotta make it your own.

BattleCobra90000 writes:

We have at the top of our stairs one of those hateful double-wired lightswitches. Sometimes up is on, other times it's down. But sometimes when up should be on, it's off. In talking this over with the wife, I found we have radically different solutions. She gives it another couple of shoves into the up position, whereas I give it a nice wiggle to the left. Remember freedom fighters, you gotta make it your own.

Friday, July 01, 2005

You gotta shove a gum wrapper in there.

Joanna writes:

I've put up with this problem for almost a year. The button on the emergency handle in my car rattles whenever the car is in motion (which is ALWAYS, since that's what cars do...they move). I suppose the button is just not tightly secured inside the handle, so it jiggles around and creates a constant buzzing sound. So, to remedy this irritating vibration, I grabbed a gum wrapper from my car floor, folded it up reeeeal tiny and shoved that thing into the space between the button and the inside if the handle. This is working out nicely, compared to my old solution: driving with one hand on the button, to keep it still.

In conclusion, to quote Nadine from Twin Peaks, "By God, that thing will be quiet now."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

You gotta hang a sopping wet washcloth on it.

Joanna writes:

Lately when I go to drain the bath water, the flippy, water stopper thing gradually eases its way from the "down" position, to the "up" position. It originally kind of freaked me out, like some supernatural force was playing a game with me. But after mentioning it to a co-worker, he said something along the lines of, "Sounds like you got some hair and gunk cloggin up the pipe, causing some pressure..." But instead of calling my manager, and risking the humiliation of whatever "gunk" might be in there, I have discovered that draping a heavy, wet washcloth over the flipper does the trick. This weighs it down and keeps it from snapping up (and keeps me from discovering nasty, night-old bath water the next morning when I go to shower).

Sunday, June 19, 2005

UPDATE: You don't gotta prop a chair against it anymore.

Victory for humanity!

My wife laid the machine low with help from her secret weapon: a "washer door catch."

The Parts Detective is sure to be an invaluable aid in Our Struggle.

Friday, June 17, 2005

You gotta lock it, unlock it, and lock it again.

Just Nancy writes:

When you push the button that locks the car, it beeps, but it doesn’t make the locking sound. So it’s not locking. The way I fix it is I push the unlock button—the car makes the unlocking sound—and then I push the lock button for the second time. It beeps and makes the locking sound. Now the car is locked.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

You gotta give it a spin.

Ririsu writes:

I have a small black fan that my mother bought me when I moved out to Seattle. The thing couldn't have cost more than $12 new from Fred Meyer. About ten months ago, the thing started to bind up. There is a very large amount of dust generated in my room and dust webs started to clog the gears and bind the once-speedy motion of my trusty little fan. It got to the point where I would turn it on to the highest setting and the gears would make a groaning sound while the fan blades moved ever so slightly as if they might get going. I would take a paint brush and give one blade a good shove, and this worked to kick start the thing for about four months. Then, I had to remove the safety grill and give the blades repeated spins with my hand. I've tried to dust the thing, but it is amazing how much dust appears while I'm sleeping. I feel like a DJ every time I give my little black fan a good spin to get it going.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

You gotta hit it with a spoon.

J-Ma writes:

Ever since I've had my house (going on 8 yrs) my stovetop fan has needed a kick start. I will turn it on and it always just makes this horrible banging sound and every time (even though I know there's not) I think there is a bird or some kind of perhaps even larger animal fighting to get out.

Then I grab my trusty spoon from the utensil spindle and give it about 3 or 4 good whacks and BAM! It starts whirling away not very quietly still but much more steady and less noisy than before.

Instead of being annoyed I have found it very therapeutic, using it to my advantage to release pent-up aggression. I don't know what I'd do if it actually just worked on its own one day.

Monday, June 13, 2005

You gotta make sure both switches are on.

Jen writes:

My house is a two-story structure, the entryway being situated in between the upstairs and downstairs. When I first moved into this house, I knew the upstairs lights worked, but sometimes when I flipped the switch, nothing came on. It was a 25-year-old house, so I worried maybe the wiring was faulty. I had a feeling, though, that I had to figure out the right combination of on & off positions for the light switches. I finally figured it out: For some reason, the living room overhead lights (upstairs), the entry way light, and the downstairs hallway light are all on the same switch. Actually, the same two switches. One switch is in the downstairs hallway and one is at the top of the stairs up to the living room. They both have to be on for the lights to be on. So, if I turn the downstairs light off when leaving the house I have to go back downstairs at night to turn it back on before the upstairs lights will come on when I turn on the upstairs switch. Can't you just feel the frustration?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

You gotta leave it on long enough.

BattleCobra90000 writes:

The toilet fan has failed. You turn it on, but it just groans. It wants to go, but can't. You can hear it in the way it strains against itself: if it could only get going, it'd stay going. I try to coax it along by turning on its companion, the combo red heat lamp/shower fan. "Come on, toilet fan!" they cry. "You can do it!" But the toilet fan is too far gone. Or is it?

Sometimes I'll find it running, a steady whirr punctuated with the occasional grinding wheeze. How did it get going? Wifey reveals: "It's because you have to leave it on long enough."

Friday, June 10, 2005

You gotta pry the button out with your thumbnail.

Our doorbell gets stuck every time someone pushes it. And then you gotta pry it out with your thumbnail or else the sound of the doorbell will turn into a grinding buzz in the kitchen (where the speaker is). So when someone comes and rings the bell, we need to stop what we're doing and fix the button. When we come home and hear a tell-tale, hard-to-locate buzz, we know someone has come by and pressed the doorbell.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

You gotta turn the cold water on.

If you try to use only the hot water in the bathroom sink, after anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds, a god-awful loud, metallic groan emanates from the pipes. It is very startling. Turning on the cold water at the same time as the hot seems to "take care of" the problem.

You gotta prop a chair against it.

We've had this front-loader washing machine for about nine years. But now you gotta prop something heavy against the door or it won't go. Good thing there just happens to be a big, padded chair down there, in the middle of the room, doing nothing. If you push it against the door and press it in, you can trick the washing machine into thinking the door is actually shut, which it actually is. And was, even before this work-around.