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My Own Private HGTV

Made a trip down to Home Despot today. One of the items on my list was a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood. I guess I haven't shopped for plywood in a while. Neither, apparently, has chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Alan Greenspan; Mr. Greenspan tells us that inflation is "under control."

Then again, perhaps "under control" is a purposely misleading term in regard to inflation. Perhaps the Federal Reserve wants inflation to occur, thereby justifying increased interest rates, spurring even greater interest rate hikes by the private sector banks for home loans, consumer credit, and, I see by today's newspaper, student loans. "Under control" doesn't necessarily mean "little-or-no inflation." Under control may mean "inflation that will make more money for our friends."

Anyway, plywood is very expensive. In general, wood products are expensive here, due to shipping charges. But still, plywood is very expensive. I used to think it was expensive at $25 a sheet. $68 a sheet seems very expensive.

There are, however, "inferior" grades available in the mid-30's, which are adequate for my purposes. But, I would like to have had the 4ft X 8ft sheet cut in half lengthwise -- because that's the size I need, and also, it won't otherwise fit in my car. The sales hype about the vast hauling capacity of a PT Cruiser is, to apply Mark Twain's overly quoted quote, "greatly exaggerated."

As it turns out, however, the plywood cutting saw at Home Despot was out of service for monthly maintenance. They apparently "maintain" the saw once a month. I almost never venture into Home Despot, and even more rarely seeking plywood sheets cut lengthwise. The one time I do, however....

Nor could I find a replacement porch light that shines the light downward. In an effort to reduce light pollution -- that is, the harsh glare into the neighbors' yard that, additionally, interferes with the telescopes on Haleakala and Mt. Palomar -- I wanted to replace the porch light with one that shines down instead of sideways. Seems simple enough.

Yeah, right. They didn't have any. Well, they had one that was kinda sorta a downward shining light. But not really, since the bulb projected below the reflector dome. Plus, it was plastic. Thirty-five dollars, and plastic.

I did find Night Blooming Jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum), to plant alongside the porch. I see by this link that Night Blooming Jasmine is considered an "invasive species." Why, then, do they sell it in large quantities in garden supply centers? They can't be too worried about it. I'm not too worried about it either, seeing as how it is more inclined to "wither and die" than to "out-compete the native flora."

Other than the plants, I pretty much struck out at Home Despot. I did need two flat concrete bricks, but there were a couple of guys ahead of me who needed forty-two of them, and were laboriously loading them by hand onto a cart. I didn't really care to hang around for a year waiting for them to finish, altho' perhaps the plywood saw would have been up and running by then, so I left Home Despot and headed for Lowe's.

Lowe's has plywood, at the same staggering prices, and their saw is working. I select my sheetwood product and take it to the saw guy. He looks like the kind of guy I'd expect to see in a hardware store, kind of stocky, kind of middle aged. I ask him if he can cut the plywood for me. "Yeah, sure," he says, and indicates that I should let him help me place it on the saw platform. As he takes one end of the board, he gets a splinter in his hand.

"Guess I should wear my gloves."

I note that he has several bandages on his fingers. "That must happen a lot," I say.

He grunts in agreement. "How you want it cut?"

"In half, the long way," I say, "two feet," and indicate by pointing.

"So, twenty-four inches."

I think to myself, "yes, plywood is four feet wide, which is forty-eight inches, so twenty-four would be half of that; twenty-four is also the number of inches in two feet. But, 'measure twice and cut once' is the saying, so it makes sense that he's conscientious." I should have been thinking, "dude, this guy has bandages all over his fingers. Find somebody else to help you."

He fires up the saw, which is a pretty slick rig, if you're in to that kind of thing, and zips the panel in half. More or less. In half suggests the pieces would be approximately equal in size. Then he takes the larger half -- he could see that one half was larger, and apparently figured that if it were larger then it wasn't actually a "half," -- and makes as to run it through again, to trim it to match.

"No, no, wait. That's fine! I actually need that, uh, half to be bigger."

"You sure?"

I should have said something, this being a manly-man sort of place like a lumber store, like, "no, you f*kking di*kweed, I f*cking said two f*cking feet, which is twenty-four f*cking inches, which is in-f*cking half, which is not what you have done, so for thirty-five f*cking dollars you're gonna cut another one!"

But I didn't. I was thinking in a less than manly-man manner about the trees -- or rather, where the trees used to be, in areas of Oregon now known as clear-cuts -- so I said it was great, it'd be just fine.

Like, the guy was going to cut the bigger piece to make it match the smaller one. Then neither "half" would have worked for my projects, and there would have been that long, narrow "extra" bit, and I don't know how three pieces equates to "in half...." I know, I really should have had him do it over. But I was going to have to trim one of the 24-inch sections by an inch or two anyway, and I don't mind that the other piece, which is a replacement for a picnic table top, is a couple of inches wider. Still, the guy specifically asked if I wanted it cut at 24-inches, after I told him two feet.

And you know what? This guy had no clue at all that he had cut this thing wrong. I measured it when I got home. A twenty-one inch cut is what he made.

Now, maybe the saw maintenance guy hasn't been to Lowe's yet. Maybe the saw at Lowe's is off by three f*cking inches.

I found a porch light at Lowe's that shines downward, mostly, with stained glass panels reducing the side light. It's metal, has kind of a cheap overseas Craftsman style look, and was only nineteen dollars. Got it home, opened it up, turns out it's an "open box," or "return," and actually has some paint splatters on it, is missing an adjustment screw, and one of the glass panes is cracked.

It's at least a forty minute drive down to Lowe's. The light is going to get weathered pretty quickly anyway. I scrape off the paint flecks, scrounge up a set screw, and super-glue the glass back together. Looks dandy, lights up the porch and not the entire skyline. Good enough.

Lowe's had flat concrete bricks, they cost twice as much as at Home Despot, but I only needed two and I didn't have to wait for Gomer and Goober to finish loading up the hand truck. I found a really nifty plastic tool box for only twelve bucks, to replace the soggy cardboard box most of my fixit-type stuff is stored in. Maybe, I ambitiously and optimistically hope, I can actually find the things I need if they're all in one bright red plastic box instead of scattered around in various cardboard boxes and drawers and on shelves and who knows where. This will, of course, necessitate rounding everything up and placing it in the new toolbox.

What else did I get today? One of those half -- give or take several inches, I'm sure -- wine barrel planters. Where do all those old barrels come from? Are there really that many wineries going through that many barrels? I thought wineries keep and use their barrels for decades or centuries or something. These things are oak, there aren't that many oak forests left, where do they get the oak staves -- I'm a teacher now, so I gotta know vocabulary words -- to make -- a "hooper" makes barrels, by the way -- all the new barrels to replace these things? Do they really come from wine cellars, or is somebody building barrels and then sawing them in half for the garden industry? Hardly seems cost effective, since they only cost eighteen bucks, even in Hawaii. One of these days the supply of these barrel planters is going to dry up.

Since I got this particular barrel at Lowe's it's, no surprise, pretty ratty looking. It's covered with dirt and concrete masonry splatters. I'll sand it down and oil it nicely before, you know, filling it up with dirt and rocks and mud and spraying water on it and leaving it outside in the rain. But the two or three dollars worth of herb seedlings will look oh-so-cute in their antique half-cask.

Oh, I also bought, with the intention of installing, a replacement faucet for the kitchen sink. The inexpensive ones were all cheap, as in, poor quality. The better ones are all, well, more expensive. I mean, okay, I shouldn't complain, I know it's possible to spend hundreds of dollars on plumbing fixtures, so eighty bucks is probably considered cheap by -- well, by my neighbors, for example. The house two doors down sold this month for a million dollars! The one next to that sold for one-point-three million. Second house down from that is on the market for two-point-one million. There's another one-point-three recent sale after that, then a three-mil currently on the market (that one has a pool, oh boy!). I suppose our humble abode is the blight of the neighborhood, with our twenty-dollar porch light and eighty-dollar kitchen faucet.

The d*mn kitchen stove ended up costing a thousand frikking dollars, even though it was "on sale" for $400. Delivery charge, extra delivery charge because we're in "da country," conversion charge to switch "hp gas" components to "lp gas" components, installation charge, extended warranty (because the previous stove rusted out after less than five years). And it's not even one of those cool stainless steel jobs you see in the magazines. After a thousand bucks, it's still a "you're not even keeping up with the tip the Joneses give their paperboy" stove.

Tomorrow I'll try to install my expensive cheap faucet. If I can still type after that, I'll probably have a story with blood in it for you.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
pastilla
Jun. 28th, 2005 04:33 pm (UTC)
: : sympathetic chuckle : : Too, too true. Believe it or not, it can be even worse when you are female, because . . . well, for many hardware guys, women in the lumberyard really ruin that 'boys only' atmos . . .

So much else to say . . . but the first thing that popped into my head: do you have a Maxim dealer there? They make a lot of porch lights that shine (mainly) downward . . . the one I linked is $63, but they come in smaller sizes ($25-30) that are really nice, if you don't need a great deal of light.

BTW, how much is gas there now?
davidd
Jun. 30th, 2005 11:06 pm (UTC)
Our gasoline price is about $2.43 for regular right now. I understand that some parts of the country are more. Surprisingly, when we first moved here, gas was a few cents less per gallon than in Oregon.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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