Icicles and hairdryers

Ok, I normally don’t use foul language in my blogs, but to be fair, 2018 had a pretty fucked up way of saying welcome to my family.  Seriously, we hadn’t been spending many hours in the new year until she decided to kick me in the nuts – smack in the pubic bone!

Thanks to digital streaming on the AppleTV, we missed the ball dropped live.  Apple apparently decided that there’s a lack, so despite stating ‘live’ on the screen, it is actually delayed by almost 2 minutes.  I suspect that is false advertisement, but we somewhat say the switch to 2018 twice.

Anyway, a few hours after the famous Waterford Crystal ball dropped, we moved our ageing corpses to the beds.  Gone are the days of drinking all night, dancing like crazy on the tables, mingling with strangers in a smelly night club or having to clean the house from alcohol left-overs, smoke and confetti.  That is the curse and benefit of being responsible adults, and also the fact that kids give zero fucks about hangovers.

While zombie walking through the house, more asleep than awake, I turned the heating down … or so I thought.  You see, we live on the East Coast, and this happens to be winter. So, it gets a little chilly outside and the last few days had been sub-zero.  If I didn’t know better, I would say that we were about to reenact “Day After Tomorrow” scenes and experience arctic super deep freeze.

Next morning as I stumbled towards my coffee machine to get a caffeine kick, I noticed that the ground floor was chilly.  Did I mention that my absolute favorite coffee brand i ‘Black Riffle Coffee Company‘ – they kick arse.

The thermometer showed 52F so I instantly knew something was wrong.  It’s not like I’m a natural born plumber, but when the baseboard pipes are colder than my freezer, then something is off.

Thankfully the heating in the basement and 2nd floor were both working, so I used those areas to heat up the rest of the house.  I spent the remainder of 1 January 2018 heating up the baseboard pipes using hot towels, hair dryers and my Scandinavian charm … nothing worked.

hotshotNo other option than called in the cavalry in the form of the local plumber.  He showed up with what looked like an oversized car battery jumpstart kit.  Two larger clamps were attached to the copper pipes, and 2 hours later he had managed to thaw the pipes.  Heating was coming back 🙂

It takes a big man to admit when he has made mistakes, and I’m no big man!  That said, I had accidentally turned off the heating when going to bed, and with the sudden drop to arctic climate, the still water in the pipes decided to freeze.

The plumber that came to help was top drawer.  An amazing customer service and fair priced I suppose.

I can honestly say that this was not the way I had hoped for 2018 to start, but at least we have heat, food, each other and 363 days to get back to Christmas.

Winter is Coming with a Body Slam

signThe winter had been pretty mild.  We’ve had a fair share of freezing my butt of cold days and nights, and some days my eyes froze.  But, nothing severe like 2-3 feet of snow in 12 hours or a sudden avalanche from the nearby mountain.

Deep inside my rather shallow body, I had a suspecion that we would get absolutely creamed and dumped on.  We couldn’t just get a mild winter with a few inches of snow.  I needed to use my snow blower, and at least 100 lbs of road salt (from my 1000lbs stash), to proudly be able to say “winter is coming!“.

When they decided to consult with a rodent, the annual groundhog day, I was not surprised when the furry critter predicted another six weeks of winter.  He too knew winter was coming.  I must admit, asking a small furry dude to predict the weather is rather odd, but hey, stranger things happens.

It was rather pleasant when we had a 62F winter day, and I could drive with the windows down.  Little did I know that winter was indeed coming.  The weather guys did warn the population, but when you sit in a t-shirt, listening to Shakira, you can’t really take them seriously.  Surely winter is over!

Later that evening, snow did cover the night sky, and temperature dropped.  By 4.30am we received a call from the school, saying school would be closed – followed by a number of emails and text messages.  All stating “winter is coming!“.

dayaftertomorrowEarly morning and first light, showed how busy Mother Nature had been.  Everything was covered in a thick layer of snow, and it did not look like stopping.  It just kept coming and coming.  As if Mother Nature wanted to make a point “it ain’t over until I say so”.

Mid afternoon the snow finally stopped, although a rather brisk breeze kept blowing snow around.  Winds were howling and my eyeballs got frostbites when I peeked out the door.

I knew I had to deal with it.  I prefer not to engage in cardio exercises when it is this cold, but when you have a 200 feet driveway, and it is not electrical heated, someone has to clear it.  AND, that someone is obviously me.

All three kids had “sudden” symptoms of fever or coughing, and informed me they were unavailable for child labour.  My wife had to work (new job and trying to impress the boss) and my loyal brown Labrador was pretending to be paralysed.  All in all, a sorry bunch of heroes.

I dressed up for my arctic experience and started my 30″ snow blower.  This beast could take on anything; jaw crunching snow eaters and strong caterpillar track.  We were going to conquer this together.

clarkThe size of the task became apparent when I opened the garage door in best Clark Griswold style.  The snow was about a foot deep, and had completely erased my landscaped garden and driveway.  It was there somewhere.  I just had to find it. … mission accepted!

Snow was flying all over as my snow monster was eating through all the snow, trying to find the surface.  We were in this together.  The red paint was gradually being covered with snow and icicles, and so was my beard.

2 hours later and I had cleared the driveway.  Well, there was still a thin layer of snow on the tarmac, which at this point was starting to freeze.  A few times I almost lost my footing, but mostly recovered while letting out a few yelps.  It was manly yelps in case you wondered.

As I was preparing for one final turn, a small pivot with my snow blower, my legs literally disappeared underneath me.  It was like watching a movie in slow motion, and felt even slower.

I made a few graceful attempts to recover the inevitable, only to suddenly lift off the ground and body slam into the ground.  Not a hope of bracing the fall with my arms, as I for some reason decided to hold on to the bloody snow blower.

The wind was knocked out of my chest, and as I laid there looking at the tarmac, I melted the ice with my breath.  I couldn’t even call out in pain and was stuck for several seconds.  It was pretty clear that body slamming 200lbs of Scandinavian bacon does some impact, and the pain quickly shared that observation as I could feel a shooting pain in my chest.

I’m not a doctor or expert, but it was obvious that I had fractured or bruised a rib or two.  But, in true manly spirit, I got up, and continued my work … at least for a further 23 seconds.

At that point I did what all men does.  I walked to the porch, sat down and waiting for anybody in my family to notice me and give me some sympathy.  That failed, and after 12 minutes of self indulged suffering, I went back to spray salt on the fecking ice.  That’s how you deal with it.  You spray salt on that shit.

Now I’m praying and hoping that winter is truly over.  I’ve had enough of this white stuff.  Winter did come! Mother Nature kicked my arse, and big boys do cry.

wintercame

Buying Bleach Like Heisenberg

Not too long ago, when the shitter was full, I had a somewhat interesting shopping experience at Walmart.  Not the usual People of Walmart experience, but a sense and purpose of criminal mastermind experience.  Perhaps inspired by Heisenberg.

acidcleanupAccording to CSI, you can clean up body fluids using bleach.  A lot of bleach.  It not only kills majority of the germs and bacteria, but clears the scent of a horrible crime … in my case it was killing the odour of human feces which had dripped and gushed over me and the floor in the basement.

Anyway, I had to clean up the basement, and needed cleaning supplies.  So, I ventured to the local Walmart to stock up; buckets, mops, bleach, bleach, bleach and air freshener. Didn’t meet many suspicious and interesting characters, but it is always a surreal journey down each isle – especially when you witness a Hasidic Jew inspecting the new line of hunting riffles.

Within a few minutes, my filled with 4 large bottles of bleach, a mop, 3-pack of air fresheners, disinfecting wipes family sized box and of course scented candles.  You can never go wrong with candles.

The cashier had an interesting look on her face, trying to perhaps understand why I would buy these quantities of bleach.  She was a little disturbed to say the least, especially when I paid in cash.  Perhaps she remember the scene in Breaking Bad where they try to dissolve a body in the bath tub with acid.  Everybody knows to use plastic containers for that!

All the way my car, I was looking over my shoulders, expecting to be tackled by the 7-ft armed security guard, while screaming in a fetal position due to the pain of the taser.  Was I going to be a victim of my shopping needs?

noseclipI made it home and started the cleaning process.  Hours later my basement was shining, smelling like a hospital, and my hands were smelling as if I had completed a few autopsies and bathed in bleach … I should’ve bought latex gloves.

Looks as good as new!

Shitter is full!

shitterfullWARNING – this is blog may cause some people to feel unwell – just I felt unwell during the events as they unfolded.

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It happens!  Shit happens!  And sometimes things just happen in a household, as a direct outcome of a natural process.  But when it happens, it is utterly disgusting.

And, when living in a household with 5 people, 2 adults and 3 kids, you are bound to see more of these incidents.

I’m talking about clogged drain and sewage pipes.  Whether it is the kitchen/bath sink, or a toilet that has been fed too much paper.  Either will happen.  It is how you deal with it that defines your manhood.

The other evening, while doing the dishes, our kitchen sink started to show signs of perhaps slight overload, as water did not drain as quickly as usual.  This is obviously caused by a few variables; the amount of food pieces and grease that has been swallowed over time.  At some point it may get a little stuck.

In this case, I simple mixed a little baking soda and vinegar, poured it into the drain and flushed it with boiling water.  It should do the trick, but didn’t.  In fact.  I stopped the flow altogether.  So, I decided to empty the sink manually and poured the content into the toilet … perhaps a slight silly mistake in hind-sight. The result was that I now had clogged the toilet.  To make matters worse, the pipe was so full that some water from main water was pushed into the drain, and the water in my kitchen sink started to rise.  Not good!

I had to turn off the main water to avoid flooding, and this unfortunately also meant no more toilet visit anywhere in the house until problem was resolved.

redphoneTime to call a friend, like in best jeopardy style.  Thankfully, the friend answered the call, and was kind enough to pay us a visit within 20 minutes.

It was pretty obvious that we a significant blockage somewhere in the pipes.  We tried to ‘snake’ toilet, sink and washing machine drains, but not positive outcome.  To make matters worse, the dirty water was now dripping into the basement.  Thankfully we do not have fully furnished basement and no carpets.

I had to call for help!  We needed a professional to solve this, well knowing that it would cost us some silly money just in call out fees.  It was 11pm, but had to accept the extortion from local plumber.  By 12.30, the plumber had not called back, so my friend and I thought we should take matters into our own hands.  How hard could it be to clear the blockage?

We quickly found the clean-out plug, underneath the kitchen/toilet area, and proceed to prepare for the nastiest part of the evening.  We knew we would have to open the plug, to release water pressure and empty sink + toilet.  This would be rather unpleasant, both visually and smell factor.

poo-bucketMy job was holding the large bucket as close to the plug as possible.  Knowing that this is literally human faeces (bodily fluids in this case from humans), which contains bacterias and other less attractive features, we could not afford to spill anything.  It would not only be disgusting, but the cleanup afterwards would be intense.

I carefully balanced the bucket, while my friend gently unscrewed the plug. “Water” started dripping, then running, straight into the bucket.  A few more 1/4 turns and the pressure was being released.  Our plan was working … until my friend lost his grip on the plug and the darn thing fell off.  The direct consequence was that sewage was being forced out from the clean-out hole, causing the stream to miss the bucket I was holding, and providing me with a shower.  Yes, I got drenched by shit!

The problem was, I could not drop everything and run.  I had to stay calm and catch the water, while trying not to get any into my mouth.  It sounds disgusting, but it was worse in real life!

I had to remove my Dropkick Murphy t-shirt (sorry lads) as it was soaked with shit.

On the plus side, the pressure was being released quicker, water stopped dripping from pipes and we knew it was working.  The down side was that we were covered in shit, and the floor was also slightly affected with a small puddle of faeces.

Finally the sewage was cleared and we had to go to phase two.  Locate the blockage with the ‘snake‘.  Finding the blockage was incredible easy, except I was covered in faeces and the smell was unbearable.

It was my first time using a ‘snake’, and hopefully last.

As I start to work the blockage, using the ‘snake‘, I was also introduced to something called the ‘champagne bottle effect’.  My mate might have been lying or making this stuff up.  Anyway, I very quickly found out what he meant.

See, when you release pressure, it can come shooting out.  You release a cork on a champagne bottle and it comes out.  Same thing happened with this shit.

I gently yanked the ‘snake‘, to clear the blockage, and was obviously successful.  The next 2.8 seconds was the worst in my entire life.  Shit was literally spraying from the pipe right at me.  I had not bucket handy, and had to jump down from the ladder and drag the larger bucket underneath the stream of excrement. to my dismay some of it had already landed on the floor.

My friend came running down the stairs, from inspecting toilet and sink, only to find me covered in human faeces.  I had old paper and other unidentified pieces in my chest hairs.  Arms were covered with a brownish shine and pants + shoes soaked.

This was not pleasant!!

Then again, we had successfully cleared the blockage and saved $500+ just in call out fees.

After a small beer break and panick laughing as we were slightly worried about hepatitis, we had to tackle phase 3.  Inspect and clear the waste pipe all the way to the end.  Given we had cleared the major blockage, we were fairly confident nothing else would be found.  And we were right.

The two amigos, aka Beavis and Butthead, had fixed a major domestic waste drain problem. We have had no training, and it shows, but still managed to fix it.

By the time we had finished, and cleaned up the worst shit, it was 3am.  We still had work in the morning, so we put all the equipment outside and I mopped up the faeces.

I showered twice before going to bed.  I could still smell the faeces as it was probably stuck in my nose.  I knew Friday would be a long day and that buying bleach was top priority.

Lessons learned – avoid using too much toilet paper, educate kids on right amount of paper to use for each job and do not pour kitchen waste into the sink.  It all adds up and will slowly block the drain.

missionaccomplished

Homemade Beer Brewer

braumeister… or Braumeister as we call them in Germanic language, given the old beer making skill was kicked off at a larger scale in Germany in the 13th century.

“But from whichever it is made, whether from oats, barley or wheat, it harms the head and the stomach, it causes bad breath and ruins the teeth, it fills the stomach with bad fumes, and as a result anyone who drinks it along with wine becomes drunk quickly; but it does have the property of facilitating urination and makes one’s flesh white and smooth.”  – Scully, Terence. 1995. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages

viking drinking hornAs part of my native viking roots, I always had the urge to make the God’s nectar myself.  Drinking with Thor himself from a traditional viking drinking horn.

That day was realised when my lovely Inca flower (wife) presented me with a beer making kit for Christmas.  It wasn’t mjød (mead), but awesome black Irish stout mix.

I rarely consider the skill and patience required to make beer.  It’s just something that I enjoy drinking.  Pop a few cold bottles or cans on the BBQ table, and they quell your thirst.  It goes well with most dishes, expect deserts 🙂

Hear ye! Hear ye!  Making beer is not that simple.  I can testify to that after having kicked off a batch of the Irish stout in my kitchen.  Thankfully the kit comes with all the necessary gear and instructions for making a gallon of Irish stout.

Personally, I prefer to dress like duck dynasty to make it more authentic, or just because I had not showered for a week. Any little ingredient makes it more personal 🙂

My photos only show until the fermentation phase, which takes 2-3 weeks.  Once that has completed, I will share the verdict.