Saturday, March 26, 2011

Demon Valve - Part Two of Three

A few days ago, I talked to Moen Company's Help Line about a problem with an automatic flush valve. The help line took me through some diagnostic procedures that left an inch of water on our commercial bathroom floor. Thursday night, I tried it again. I called the help line again.

Since I still didn't know the model number, I told them, "I don't have the model number, but I have a picture of the valve on my web site." The rep was interested, so I directed him to to be exact

"There's a picture of some ladies clothing."
"That's it!"
"Demon Valve?"
"Yes, just page down."

He recognized the valve, and I think he took time to read the post, and decided that he could provide better service than his co-worker had, the other night, especially if it was going to be so, er, out in the open...

Moen will be sending me a replacement circuit board and solenoid to replace the defective one.

Part Three: Installing a new circuit board... Next week, we hope.

Also, a P.S. on the missing roofer. Although the insulation is still dripping from the soaking it got, the roofer came and did some repair work, inside and up on the roof. One can only hope.

Hope (noun) "Here, Charlie Brown, I'll hold the football, and you can run up and give it a good kick!"

Friday, March 25, 2011

V - The Love Story

Five Years Ago. Seems like we've lived entire lifetimes since 2006. And yet, it seems to have passed in an instant.
Five years ago today, March 25, 2006, Joyce and I got married. Of course, with the wedding, as with all the other things in our lives, things had to proceed in their accustomed manner:
  • Ten minutes before the time of service, my mini-van was stolen from in front of the church, carrying with it all my keys, the rings, and a pan of Vegetarian Lasagna.
  • The following day, we were bumped from our flight to the Caribbean Cruise Honeymoon Vacation. Since it was Spring Break everywhere, we couldn't connect the departure, and returned home, the cruise ship sailed without us.
  • By mid-week, Joyce had to be taken to the Trinity Hospital emergency room with an abcess in her throat.
  • So our backup honeymoon plan of a long weekend in Vegas had to be cancelled as well.
  • The following week, I was scheduled for jury duty, and so we had no choice but to say "enough" and get on with our lives, that's me at the Bus Stop.
And, five years later, the question is: Knowing what we now know, and after all we've been through in the last five years, would we do it again?

I know I would. Thanks, Joyce for the happiest five years of my life. Would you do it again, Luv?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Demon Valve

In the final weeks before the opening of Joyce's new store, we're making all the final preparations, stock, mirrors, fixtures, shelving, phone lines, etc.
But, no matter how much time, enthusiasm, and life-blood we put into our project, there is always something we can count on: Despair
Pictured above is a ceiling that I've completed six times, now. Always with the assurance of the roofer that the problem is fixed. But the problem isn't fixed. Count on it. And don't put anything under those ceiling tiles, because it will be ruined. I hope he can fix it before the laminate floor is ruined. Most of the time this so-called roofer doesn't even answer the phone. Hooray for Caller I.D. - as if people needed help to be weenies! And changing Nitwits doesn't help, we've already tried that - all roofers are the same.

Another adventure - There's a water valve up until now manually operated. Never mind what the valve is for, it's a man thing. A man doesn't always have time to push a button, we've got a lot of things on our mind. So a valve was invented that turns on for awhile when the man walks away. It's battery operated with a watchful electric eye. But, last night, when I put in the batteries, and re-booted the circuit board, this valve didn't do that. It just gave a little spritz when the reset button was pushed, and the electric eye had a faraway look in it.
So, I called the Moen Commercial Fixture help line. Since there are very few adjustments on the board, the problem should be relatively easy to diagnose. I called directly from the job site using my wife's cell phone. Brandon was puzzled, and asked me to try a number of things. All to no avail. Either the operation was the same Reset/Spritz sequence I'd seen so many times before, or all the indicator lights went out entirely, with no response whatsoever.

Then Brandon suspected that the black switch was in the wrong position. I flipped the black switch from the red to the black position. The valve came to life! Copious amounts of water came cascading down! The joy was, however short-lived. The cascading continued unabated, long after the metered one-gallon dispensation. Something had gone wrong. System was verging on overflow, because the drain couldn't handle the cascade that minutes before had brought us so much joy.

Still on the phone with Brandon, I mentioned to him that his suggestion didn't have the intended results - I don't remember my exact words, something on the order of "Holy Shit! There's water all over!" I ran for the main valve of the building to shut off the water. By the time I had gotten the water shut off, there was an inch of water on the floor of the bathroom. I asked Brandon what to try next, now that I was standing in an inch of water. His response was a series of beeps, and the Brandon was lost. When I dialed the number back, I got an automated message, saying that Moen was now closed, and that I should please try back tomorrow. Brandon didn't care if his product had just flooded his customer's place of business. That's the kind of help that a help line delivers?
So, I quietly got the bucket, and the mop, and cleaned up the mess, and went home. Count on despair. It will never let you down.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Remembering Marian

Marian left us this Winter. For so many years, she was the one who always made you laugh in our Theatre on KK presentations. For those who never met her, her stage presence can only be compared to Lucille Ball. As soon as Marian took the stage, you laughed with her, you knew her, and you related to her.

Last Sunday we hosted a gathering here at the studio. Many who had worked with Marian on stage, and many who had just enjoyed her performances were there, with some of Marian's family members, and it was an afternoon of remembrance and celebration of a life that had brought so much joy into our own lives. We watched a half-hour of video clips from some of her best productions. Below is a link to a 9-minute condensation of this show. If a video doesn't enable below, use this link:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fashion Planet

Sorry for being so late to report this - this took place in January, but the February Project was taking up all my creative time. More on that next week.

Today - Enter the Exciting Pulse-Pounding World of Fashion. Now, I know that all of you come here to Excelsior for the latest in janitorial and home-improvement advice, and for updates on Syd the cat, and the Evil Gondi, but today, we travel to the world of Fashion - the exciting Style Max Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.

Fashion designers and clothing wholesalers from all over the world come together to show their latest discoveries and creations to retailers. My wife and I are opening Alana - a women's apparel shop (shoppe?) next month in one of our commercial spaces in Milwaukee's Joyce Skylight Court.

Joyce has been a fashion model, modeling instructor, and clothing consultant for all of her life. I'll admit that my tastes in clothing run all the way from JC Penney's to Farm and Fleet. I know that flannel is for around the house, and when you go out, you wear that other, you know the white shirt and suit coat stuff. My job in this whole scheme of the fashion world is to do all the infrastructure stuff, like finding racks, assembling cabinetry, computer and phone network, janitorial, etc. And the world of fashion is an alien planet unto me.

My job for this phase of the project was mainly logistical: Get Joyce There. Protect the Queen.
Phase One: The best and cheapest way to get to Chicago from Milwaukee is the Amtrak train. It's $22.00 each, which is about 1/2 what it would cost you to park in Chicago. Our friend Stephy, who was answering to our cats for the weekend, (she is also the President of the Gondi Fan Club) took us to the train station. On the other end, it was a little more complicated - from Union Station to the Merchandise Mart. Did you know that Google Maps connects with the transit routes? I went into the unknown equipped with bus numbers, stop schedules, etc to get us right to the hotel. (CAUTION: bus schedules for weekends are different from weekday schedules, so be sure you ask Google for the correct data). And since the Holiday Inn is connected by skywalk to the Merchandise Mart, we can safely say: Mission accomplished! Only one panhandler at the bus stop.
From a man's perspective, the next phase is not a pretty sight, and at first glance may induce seizure in some men - aaaaaaargggh!!! endless shopping. . . Truly we are standing at the Gates of Hell!
But this was different from our local mall, because in this place we were shop owners, and the many vendors are eager to set up orders with us. Most of the vendors and at least half of the buyers (store owners) are men. Surprisingly, they could easily speak in terms of part numbers, order requirements, and shipping terms. But with Joyce in high gear on the creative aspect of the mission, my memory of it is a blur of booth numbers, product codes, business cards, contact info, order delivery and billing, etc. In other words, I was too busy to be tired.
At the end of the day, there was a reception and fashion show, to give us ideas of what to look at tomorrow. With over 4000 vendors represented, there is no way to see the whole exhibition in the three days alotted.
When the exposition closed for the day, we went over the skywalk, and up to the Holiday Inn. A futuristic looking hotel - the main lobby starts on the 15th floor of its building, and all the hallways are exposed in a central cavernous courtyard.
Chicago wasn't as scary as it at first seemed, and someday perhaps we could visit it as tourists. Two more panhandlers on the way to the train depot. The queen was safely delivered back to the royal palace. Now for the onslaught of UPS drivers....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

You Say "Poonschka" and I say "Paczki"

So, I was just minding my own business, enjoying a day off of work. My wife went to the fitness center, and I headed for the sofa. Such a perfect day, I was even listening to Lou Reed, and later we were going to go to the Mardi Gras celebration at the local Indian Casino. (I love taking their money).

Well, she came home from the gym, my little Polish Princess she did, and said "We should have some Poonshkies." I usually have the Poonschki Day poonschkies on hand. I get up at 5 am on the day that the rest of the world calls "Fat Tuesday" or "Mardi Gras" (which means "Fat Tuesday"). But this year, I had a day off of work, and, I "forgot". . .

So, I put on my coat, and headed out to the National Bakery. It's right across the street from the St. Francis Hospital Emergency Room, on 16th and Euclid. (yup, it's named after the Geometry guy). There was no parking for a two-block radius. I already knew that. From a distance I could see the upraised antennas of the mobile media trucks. Today, National Bakery is the eye of the storm. We can go back to the bucket-beaters at the State Capitol tomorrow. The line was a half-block long. People took it in stride. They had, after all, not phoned in their orders in advance, so they could not proceed to the express line.

After a half hour in line, I reached the door, and was allowed inside. The entire customer area was chained off into waiting lines, one for the pre-orders, one for the walk-ins, and one for the checkout. An overwhelming "international" aroma overwhelms one. There are multiple holidays going on here. There are King Cakes for Mardi Gras, Frosted horse-shaped cookies (for the Kentucky Derby?), An overpowering aroma of cooking Corned Beef (for St. Pat's Day), and in a glass case, there were squares of brown cake with white frosting and shamrocks on top, with a sign that said "French Pastry". Perched on a bar-stool was a man playing German songs on his accordion. The media was doing their "live from National Bakery" spots, and there was merriment in the air.

And down at the end, at the altar, was the Paczki section. Paczki is pronounced "poonschka" (because it's Polish, and they love to correct your pronunciation of Their words.) It's a filled donut, you have a choice of two different doughs, regular or Butter. Once you've chosen your dough, there's the filling: raspberry, raisin, or the REAL punshka filling - Prune. And once you've chosen the filling, what do you want the outside to look like? There's frosted, powder sugar, or the REAL punshka lamination - Glazed.

Poonshkas look like glazed potatoes, and the taste is indescribably delicious. Although each one weighs about three pounds, and provides the body with a brazillion calories of usable food energy, you'd better take two right away, because you KNOW you'll be back for more!

This year, the National Bakery offered Paczki T-shirts. They all come in Extra Large.

Let the good times roll!