Monthly Archives: November 2008

Call me Miz fixxit

Last May, I had a plumber in to repair a pinhole leak in my copper piping. The water in Storm Lake is acidic in a way that eats into the copper pipes and eventually I’ll have to have all the copper piping replaced. Luckily, only a portion of piping in my basement is copper so the cost won’t be horrible, only mildly awful. But I’d like to put it off for at least a year in order to build up some savings. Oh, the plumber visit to fix the leak was $60.

So when I found a leak a couple of weeks ago, shooting water onto the basement ceiling, I was a bit chagrined. Not only did it mean that my copper pipes might be entering their last days but, more immediately, $60 is money I don’t have to spare right now. So I very cleverly (if I do say so myself) ripped a strip of fabric out of a cotton dishtowel and tied it around the pipe so that it would absorb the water and drip down into a pan instead of soaking my sub-floor. The next weekend, I examined the fix the plumber did on the other leak, thought “I could do that,” hopped on the internet and did some research, and went down to ACE Hardware. There, I spent $3 on 3 assorted-sized pipe clamps and $6 on a package of 2 sheets of gasket rubber (which is enough rubber to fix about 3 dozen leaks). Then I came home and pulled out my dad’s toolbox and went to work. Here’s what I learned in the process of fixing the leak:

1) It was really two separate leaks;

2) The online advice I was following said to shut off the water and drain the pipes by running the sink, but then I couldn’t find the leaks — “pinhole” is an apt description.

3) Tightening gaskets over your head when the water is on (so you can find the leak) will result in a steady stream of water running down your arm and soaking the underarm of your shirt.

4) Tightening a screw as tight as is physically possible over your head with wimpy college-professor arms is difficult and it hurts.

4) If the plumber would do the job for, say, $30, I’d cheerfully have him do it.

But at last I prevailed and a visit downstairs this morning confirms that all is dry. And here’s a pic of my handiwork:


Today, I get to clean the gutters (another chore I’d happily pay for if I could afford it, as I’m really, really uncomfortable on ladders), rake leaves, groom assorted dogs, and, finally, grade a few papers. Luckily, it’s sunny outside and I lazed around yesterday and I’m feeling pretty Miz Fixxit-y.


Life-long learning is good?

Things I learned Sunday 10/26 thru Tuesday 10/28:

  • Flying from Sioux City, IA to Indianapolis, IN in 100 mph+ wind shears is Very Bumpy. The only time the flight is completely smooth is when the plane is PLUMMETING.
  • A modest airport salad will, upon regurgitation, pretty much fill up a standard airline barf bag
  • Midwesterners are, as I have noted before, terribly nice. When you mumble that you might need an extra barf bag, complete strangers on every side offer theirs with almost indecent speed.
  • Airline barf bags are not designed for the long haul and when the pilot announces that a wind warning light has come on in the cockpit and he’s aborting the landing (during which you just puked) to make another approach and it will get rough again and the flight attendants must remain seated, the bag will leak all over your jeans.
  • The jeans that are the main part of your wardrobe for the next two days because you pride yourself on packing light.
  • You swear never again to travel with six colleagues who now think barf jokes are the height of hilarity.
  • The airport security personnel in Sioux City take the 3-oz.-carry-on rule VERY SERIOUSLY on Sundays and you will have to either pay $15 to have your bag checked or be willing to toss out $18 of practically brand new shampoo, conditioner, face cream (day and night varieties because you’re getting old) and toothpaste (and you forgot the rule because you never go anywhere because as you are finding out yet again, flying is such a hassle)
  • The airport security personnel in Sioux City are absolute slackers on Saturday, when they let a colleague on the plane with a full-sized hand lotion container in her purse AND a full-sized bottle of Chloraseptic. Red Chloraseptic. It even looks scary.
  • The Tuesday afternoon airport security personnel in Indianapolis are also slackers because they let the same woman, with the same bottles in her purse, through again.
  • This is especially annoying because you left your practically brand new toiletries in the hotel, hoping the staff would get some use out of them, so you wouldn’t have to check your bag.
  • You start to feel really put upon when it’s announced that TSA inspectors will be pulling people out of line as they board the flight for surprise carry-on bag inspections and they pull hand lotion/Chloraseptic lady out of line and look (cursorily) in her purse and they still let her on the flight.
  • You wonder if she’s getting a break because she’s young and has large, firm, just-had-a-baby breasts, while you are middle-aged and have a large grad-school gut.
  • You go to the store to replace your toiletries and are seduced away from your usual trusty shampoo and conditioner by a rival brand that is on sale and displays the words “curly hair” and “moisturizing” and “anti-frizz” all over the bottle, and you learn once again that advertising cannot be trusted. You show up at work the next day looking exactly like someone who would barf on a plane and be viewed with suspicion by airline security personnel.
  • No matter what has happened, your dogs, cats, and bird are very happy to see you.