Old news

I’ve been having some trouble with WordPress. I don’t know how much is the blog app or whether my competer and browser have simply gotten too old.
Well, I’ll try typing blind.
IT was a full moon.

And this is what happened:

And this:

And finally this:

Fortunately, it was not my apartment that burned, but an upstairs unit.

I was a temporary refugee. Building is still a mess and many of the tenants have relocated. But I’m staying put. I just hate to move.


Control + Alt + Delete

PC users know that control + alt + delete is the universal command to restart your computer. And now my life needs a restart.

Time to reboot. Control + Alt + Delete.

This has been a long time coming. After years of struggling, we’ve come to the point that we have to start over. A series of setbacks, mistakes and a bit of bad luck have brought me to this point.

My house is a perfect metaphor for my life: It’s slowly falling apart and in a few months, the house will be gone. I don’t expect my life to be “gone,” but it will soon be radically altered. Goodbye house, goodbye marriage. Hello, bankruptcy.

This didn’t happen overnight, and rebuilding a life doesn’t happen overnight. But it happens nonetheless.

After a pretty good run as an editor for Knight Ridder newspapers, things went south. Newspaper circulation and ad revenues declined dramatically in the 2000s, and many media outlets (not just newspapers — TV and radio too) were forced to make radical staffing cuts. And guess who found himself on the chopping block? That happened after Knight Ridder ceased to exist, the result of combined revenue loss, competition from Internet sites, and unrealistic profit demands from institutional stock holders. Really, maintain a 20 percent profit margin in 2006? McClatchy acquired Knight Ridder, then sold off the less “desirable” papers in the chain. So in the course of a couple of months, the Akron Beacon Journal changed hands twice. Enter the new owner, who saw the books and realized he’d paid too much. And you know what that means: Chop, chop, chop.

And so I bounced from assignment to assignment, with some occasional gaps in between, picking up anything I could find in a mostly crappy economy. Our finances suffered, saving was wiped out, and the marriage suffered. There’s plenty of blame to go around for that, but my wife was accustomed to a certain level of comfort — not extravagant, but solidly middle-class — and that existence evaporated. Poof! Gone. She blamed me for that.

It finally reached the point that she said, “I can’t do this anymore.” Can’t argue much with that. Quite simply, we have grown apart over the last few years. We don’t have fun together; we don’t do much of anything together except squabble.

So, control + alt + delete.

Then a funny thing happened recently: Saw an opening for a copy editing job in Elyria, not too far up the road. Yesterday was my first day on the job (Talk about burying the lead!). And at one moment last night, I thought to myself, “I am among my people.”

The reboot is happening.


Plumbing Nightmare, Part VII

And so it goes, another chapter in the ongoing saga of my plumbing, um, issues. This time it’s a trifecta. Tub drain slow (again). Toilet leaking (again). Toilet lever busted (again). I don’t even use that bathroom! What’s up with that? Well, just to prove that I am a fairly handy guy, here is photographic evidence of some of my handiwork, with a bonus “ick” factor.




The throne has been overthrown

The throne has been overthrown

It can be truly said that I am in a world of shit.

It can be truly said that I am in a world of shit. This is the ick factor mentioned above.

The throne has been restored!

The throne has been restored!

Look, Ma! No leaks!

Look, Ma! No leaks!

And with new lever installed, victory is mine. Victory!

And with new lever installed, victory is mine. Victory!



So there was this slab o’ ribs in the fridge …

Didn’t feel like firing up the grill, so I took the lazy man’s way out and fired up the oven. Cruised the WebOMatic and found a pretty decent recipe … here . I stayed pretty true to the dry rub recipe, but lacking a barbecue sauce, I subbed teriyaki to throw in a little Asian flavor. Not too shabby!  Not sure how well it would go over in Kansas City or anywhere in the Carolinas, but a nice wrinkle on your basic ribs with a dry rub and a few generous coatings of sauce.

It slathers on the lotion ...

It slathers on the lotion …

And now for the pretentious art shot. Or not

And now for the pretentious art shot. Or not. This is my pathetic attempt at artful drizzling. More of a sloppy summer thunderstorm.

The boneyard

The boneyard

That is all. Next time I’ll throw in some mac and cheese and collard greens. Or the Korean equivalent.



Plumbing Nightmare, Chapter 6

This tale of plumbing woe is fraught with woulda- coulda- shouldas. Alas, it was not to be. And so I have a basement with soggy carpeting, soggy insulation and soggy not-so-drywall. This is yet another chapter in the saga of my hate-hate relationship with the plumbing in my house. Not familiar with the history? Curious? Follow the bread crumbs here.

Long story short: We had a well-publicized spell of unusually cold weather with temps dipping into the sub-zero teens and wind chills south of 30 below. I thought to leave my faucets on a slow drip overnight Monday but, oops, forgot.

Of course the pipes on my outer walls froze, meaning no water in the kitchen.

After a day of ventilating warm air behind the walls, I managed to get cold water restored to the kitchen sink, but hot water stayed stubbornly blocked.

So I was hopeful (delusional?) that the situation would resolve itself once things thawed out Wednesday.

I was wrong.

Stepped out briefly to get a newspaper (old habits die hard) and when I got back I heard an all-too-familiar sound of trickling water. Good thing I was around to shut off the water supply or the whole basement, which is finished, would have been flooded. Pool table and all. As it was, I still vacuumed up about 10 gallons of water.

Plumber is coming Friday a.m.  because, although I have some plumbing capability, installing and soldering pipe is not in my toolbox (yet). Today I tore out the drywall, guesstimating the source of the leak. It took two tries, but at least I didn’t have to tear out the entire wall. My drywall installation skills are rather limited as well. Repairs? Check. Spackle? Check. Paint? Check. Install entire walls? Eh, not so much.

The culprit was a pipe joint leading to the outside spigot. It simply came loose. Looks like it wasn’t even soldered! Well, having fixed plenty of other half-assed “upgrades” from previous occupants, I’m not surprised.

Anyway, below is the photographic evidence of my latest plumbing travail.

It can be truly said that this is a hole in the wall.

It can be truly said that this is a hole in the wall.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Drip. Drip. Drip.


This nearby waste line was the scene of a plumbing crime several years ago. They didn’t use PVC cement and of course it eventually came loose, leaving a stinking pool of kitchen wastewater in the same corner of the basement as my current situation. That occurred on a Christmas Eve. With company over. Naturally.


I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille

Oh, look! A shut-off valve one foot away from the damage. Hidden behind the drywall. Brilliant!

Oh, look! A shut-off valve one foot away from the damage. Hidden behind the drywall. Brilliant!

Once again battling The Beast

I have waged war against my nemesis, the bathtub drain, aka The Beast. Not for the first time. Not likely for the last time. It is a tenacious foe, rising up like a rain-swollen creek after a storm. But I have tamed The Beast, at least for the time being.


It was not without a struggle. As always. My battles with The Beast, and all manner of plumbing, are well documented. Read more here if you care to relive my nightmares. Or here. As I mentioned, I’ve had my share of run-ins with this innocuous-looking bastard. After enduring several days of complaints about how slow the drain has gotten (again), I finally relented to the hounding of Mrs. AkronDave and the offspring. She called it my Christmas Gift to her.

Well, it’s cheaper than jewelry, as long as I do it myself. An actual plumber is another story altogether.

Funny, nobody offered to help.

After a few jabs with the rusty old snake, I broke out my secret weapon, the trusty old Sears wet/dry vacuum. It’s no thing of beauty, but it has saved my butt on numerous occasions. It’s like a Medieval knight’s battered old shield. It does the job when it’s needed.

The Beast was particularly stubborn today. At one point the drain seemed to get worse instead of better. Could my secret weapon have failed me? Would I have to take out a loan and hire a plumber? A real plumber? After wandering through the house muttering obscenities, I took a few more stabs at vacuuming out the drain, nearly overfilling the vacuum with filthy waste water. This is not a good thing (see previous posts in links).

At long last, I did slay The Beast without rupturing any drains or flooding the basement (you bet I checked!).

Merry  Christmas, Honey.

You can shower without standing in 6 inches of soapy water now.

How Facebook helped save these kittens

This weekend provided a new experience to me: I’m the de facto “dad” of a young litter of kittens. Yes, I had kittens. I left the garage door open one too many times and mama cat picked a spot amid the clutter in the back to make a nest. (Nest?)

Yes, I had kittens.

Yes, I had kittens.

I’m not a cat person. For one, I’m allergic to cats. Two, I don’t trust them. They’re sneaky. Deviant! I don’t especially dislike cats, although I once had a cat stir-fry recipe posted on the side of my computer monitor at work. But I wasn’t about to let them starve or freeze to death.

So not being a cat person, and certainly having no experience with new kittens, I turned to the Facebook community for advice. They came through big time. I posted a photo (Oooh! Cute! Kittens!) and a question to my FB friends about what to do about the litter and got lots of advice and several offers to donate food for the kittens, including one from someone I haven’t seen since high school. And good advice about what to feed mama and to deal with the kittens. I’m still going to call the Humane Society to see if they can help find homes for the kittens.

So, yeah, it all started with a picture of kittens. But it turned into something more. If you think social media have no redeeming uses, I have news for you. I’ve re-established connections with people I haven’t seen in 15 or 30 years, even making road trips to visit some of them. News travels at the speed of light thanks to Twitter and Facebook (OK, not always a good thing – lots of bad info gets out). Think about the Boston Marathon bombings or the Arab Spring.

True, the social media can be a time-suck and includes dumb stuff (I loathe-hate-despise Farmville), but in the end I think social media offer more than they take away from our daily experience. Plus, kittens. Here’s the original photo and thread.