Friday, March 27, 2009

I Don't Know How To Write This

I recently wrote about the death of a professor of mine. It was easy to write. He'd influenced me and I wanted to share something of his life with everyone I know.

And, a few days ago, I was informed of the unexpected death of an acquaintance. Actually, he was a former acquaintance. While I can't pin it down exactly, I'm pretty sure my last conversation with him was something along the lines of, "Fuck you," "Fuck you too." There was a lot of anger between us, and I'm pretty sure that the last time I actively thought of him, the thought was, "I really hope I don't see him tonight."

And I just found out he died. (Ironically, he died the day I was hoping I wouldn't see him.)

I know that, given unlimited time, we never would have been the best of friends. But I had kind of hoped -- as I do with all people when friendships go bad -- that, some day, given enough time, we'd run into each other someplace and be civil with each other. Exchange pleasantries. Maybe even laugh.

Well, that's shot.

I would be lying if I said I regretted our fight and the way things went down. This isn't one of those posts about being careful what you say to people because those words may be your last, or whatever. But I do regret that we didn't have the luxury of time to get past it.

And I'm actually regretting the petty way I treated someone else. (Someone who is, conveniently, still alive.) I mean, someone unexpectedly dropping dead tends to put into perspective what matters and what doesn't, and treating someone unnecessarily badly (and knowing you're doing it) just isn't something that goes in the "important" column. It isn't something I want between me and this person (and it certainly isn't something I want on my side of the ledger if there's someone up there keeping score).

So this acquaintance who died -- I don't think that his life made a lasting positive impression on me (I hope it did for someone), but his sudden passing may have.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Holes in My Education

Bought spackle yesterday. Seems that when Closet Factory installs all them organizey bars in your closet, they have to rip out that single wooden bar running straight across. And patching the holes and repainting is just not part of their job description.

I don't care a whole lot about the paint color on the inside of my closet, but i figure I should spackle up the holes. Besides, it'll be good practice for future spackling.

As it happens, I've never spackled. Total spackle-free past.

It dawns that I've never even had an opportunity to learn to spackle. Schools taught me cooking and sewing; they taught me to drive and gave me a "Personal Development" course in which I was taught how to write a check (and how to be asked out on a date). Had I chosen, I could have taken Wood Shop, Metal Shop, Plastics Shop, or Auto Shop. But nowhere in there did anyone offer a course on Basic Home Repairs.

You'd think it would come up. I mean, I consider the ability to spackle a hole and paint a wall to be rather more useful than to, say, build a birdhouse in Wood Shop (or, I'm told, a bong in Plastics). But school thought it was important enough to teach me how to hem a skirt, scramble an egg, make a 3-point turn, and pay a bill -- life skills all, truly -- but patch a hole, install a smoke detector (or, apparently, change a face plate on a phone jack) are things the education system thought I'd just pick up along the way.

It dawns that maybe when they're busy teaching me how to politely reject an offer for a date, it would do them well to teach me how to do basic home repairs (since, you know, having rejected the date, I won't be able to rely on some man to do them).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ya think?

The contractor had told me he'd be done with the work in my house this week. So I gave notice at my apartment and called my mover and set myself up to move in next Tuesday. But, yesterday, there was no work at my house, so I was a bit concerned.

Actual conversation with my contractor:

"We'll be doing the drywall patching today, and it has to dry, and then we'll be painting on Friday."

"And what about the built-in cabinetry?"

"That will come on Friday too."

"And installing the microwave?"

"Yes, yes. Friday will be a very busy day."

"When does the plumbing get turned back on?"

"We have to wait until the painting is done and we've installed the toilet and the sink. They depend on the painting. Then we can turn it all on."

"And this will all get done this week?"

"I'm trying. Maybe it will run a little bit into next week."

"I'm moving in on Tuesday. The movers are coming on Tuesday."

"It is no problem. We've done construction before when the owner is there. It is just a little less privacy is all."

"Yes, but it would be nice if I could shower."

[pause] "I see your point."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why can't this be easy?

There's a phone jack in the family room. I'm told this is where the previous owner (I don't call her the "seller" anymore) had the DSL plugged in. It's right by a built-in desk; it's where I'd plug in the DSL, too.

The jack is missing a face plate. It's no big deal, but the wires are exposed. And I have a cat. With teeth. And claws. I want to buy a face plate to put over this thing before I move the cat in.

I go to Home Depot. Find the face plates. There are some face plates with a little square in the center for a phone jack. I buy one.

I take it home. I try to screw it on, but I can't. It's about 1/8 of an inch too small all around. I'd screw the damn thing on anyway, but the screw holes don't line up with what's already on the wall.

I check online. Lowe's has face plates which claim they are oversized by 1/8 of an inch. And the screw holes are placed further out, as are the screw holes on my jack. Clearly, this is what I want. I go to Lowe's at lunch today. Buy the new face plate.

I take it home. It's the right size. I line it up and try to screw it on.

I try (twist) to screw (twist) it on (twist).

The screw holes don't exactly line up. They almost line up. I can make that second one line up if I angle the screw. So, I angle it and try to screw it in. And the plate starts bending. And bending. And bending. And I'm pretty darn sure that if I turn it once more, I'm going to snap the plate in two.

I leave it attached by one screw, figuring that's good enough to protect the wires from the cat. Once I get my belongings, maybe I can drill another screw hole in the damn thing.

And I wonder why I hire a handyman.

The Fridge

Got my new fridge delivered yesterday. At first, I was fairly impressed by the level of packaging. Each shelf was taped in place, with blocks of styrofoam wedged in top and bottom on each glass shelf, to prevent any sort of shaking during the shipping and installation process.

However, as the "delivery" service provided by Best Buy did not include the removal of said packing materials, I've come to have a different opinion of the enthusiasticness with which tape has been applied to my fridge.

The fridge was nice and clean when delivered. After I spent a half hour with my upper body wedged in there, getting my hair caught on stray bits of tape, the whole thing needs a good clean.

And it was a half hour. At least. Several shelves were taped on all four sides, requiring their removal from the fridge so I could get the tape in back. And, in addition to tape on all four sides and styrofoam blocks taped to the center, there were also (for reasons I do not understand) two little round stickers on each glass shelf, labelled "remove." So, yeah, I had to peel off stickers too (and sometimes, they didn't peel off and I had to pick at them with fingernails.)

But the worst part was when they'd tape wire shelves in place, and the tape would be wrapped around the wire and then taped back to itself. Try getting THAT off. After a half hour with the fridge -- removing styrofoam, strapping tape, blue tape, cardboard, and little round stickers from damn near every place I could see (and once getting my finger caught in a tape loop still attached to the corner of a shelf, and thinking I'd die of starvation and they'd find my body taped to my fridge), my fridge still has four pieces of blue tape wrapped around wire shelf spokes. They're sorta waving there, like ribbons.

I want to see a game show where you give each of two people a suitable-packaged for shipping fridge, and the challenge is to remove every piece of packaging material without damaging the fridge. Winner gets their fridge.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Actually, it might work.

Verizon just sent me the phone number for my "Dedicated Data Line," so they clearly don't care that I have no landline. (Go Verizon!)

ADT's cellular-only system looked to be a $600 installation (which would be, y'know, the equivalent of 30 months of phone service) but since I called their Special Reactivation Line (whatever), it's only $200, which is, y'know, better.

And DISH would like me hooked up to either a phone line or high-speed internet -- and it's sort of optional anyway, for ordering movies and such -- when necessary, I could probably drag an ethernet line across my family room to the modem/router, so I think I'm cool.

So, I'm going to try being one of the phoneless in my new place.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I'm aiming to move into the house at the end of the month. Aiming. It sorta requires the contractor to be done with work in the house, and he hasn't been able to give me a definite "yes" on that. (But when I went by the house tonight, at about 7:15, to select a grout color, there were two guys working there installing my pantry. Warmed my heart to see people working there after standard working hours; looks like the contractor is actually making an effort to get the job done on time. Yay him.

So, now I'm starting to be concerned about the actual details of moving in. I've got the mover set for the 31st, which is, coincidentally, my last day at the shithole. So I really want everything except, say, a change of clothes, my toothbrush, and the cat out of the shithole on the 30th. (Am planning to take the 30th off to accomplish this.) It dawns that I'll want to move my computer on the 30th as well, which means I damn well better have internet access at the house by then.

The seller had Verizon DSL, so I'll get Verizon DSL. I know the house is wired for it. So, I went to Verizon's website and ordered up some DSL. Verizon did not require me to buy their phone service, nor did they appear to require that I actually have phone service (didn't require a number, and just said I needed a jack). This seems cool -- I've got good cell phone service (thru Verizon) and the magicjack through my computer, so there really doesn't seem to be a need for phone service. So, I ordered DSL.

Then I got all nervous that maybe they think I have phone service anyway. So I googled it. Googling was not entirely helpful here -- the most I could figure out was that: (1) A few years back, Verizon was one of the precious few carriers that let you have DSL without phone service ("naked DSL"); and (2) It wasn't available everywhere. Couldn't find anything particularly current on it. (Although I did find a page indicating earthlink did naked DSL, but only in Verizon's service areas, something which I considered to be a good sign.) And Verizon didn't have any live human beings answering the phone when I tried ringing customer service.

So I figured we'll just see what happens when I get the modem and plug it in the wall on March 30. Worst case scenario, I'll call Verizon and get their cheapest phone package.

OK, on to the next thing... the house has an ADT alarm system. I've received about a dozen different offers in the mail from "ADT Authorized Sellers" offering all sorts of deals on setting up a security system (if I do it within 10 days!!!) as long as I set up a 2-year monitoring plan with ADT. Of course, the cost of the monitoring plan varies from, like, $33.99 to $45.99. So I thought I'd check the ADT website and see how much their cheapest monitoring plan is in comparison to all these so-called deals.

And it's only when I'm about 20 minutes into poking around the ADT website that I realize that, yes, the alarm system needs a phone line. Now, they do have a cellular system available (for a higher installation fee and a higher monthly monitoring fee), but, if I do that, well, my cost-savings from not having a phone line start to get gobbled up pretty quick.

Yes, the world might not be ready for me to not have a phone line.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Awards Show ... Ran A Little Long

So, we had our Awards Show tonight. I pretty much just got home.

We aim for 90 minutes. We expect two hours.

We ran three.

...And a half.

To my great surprise, the people in attendance (or, I guess I should say, the people who stayed till the end) all seemed to have a good time. Y'know (if I may wax philosophical about this sort of thing, now that I've co-produced this show three times), you can sorta figure out how the show is going to be during the first ten minutes or so. And this show, pretty much from the start, was going to run long. At first, I considered doing something to move it along, but there's also a time with each of these shows when something doesn't go according to plan, and the appropriate path to take is to just sit back, relax, and let the show be what it's going to be. THIS show, sort of on its own accord, was going to have a lot of funny anecdotes from presenters and a lot of heartfelt thanks from the winners -- and in these difficult economic times, when people are spending less on arts and entertainment -- it felt right that we pretty much put on a show that was a bunch of theatre people coming together to celebrate each other.

Am happy. Exhausted, but happy. And with a very hungry cat wanting my attention.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Should've Seen That Coming

The play I saw last night was Frost/Nixon.

And then I went home and watched Jon Stewart take on Jim Cramer.

And I really think Cramer needed to watch Frost/Nixon. Because Frost/Nixon posits that Nixon underestimated Frost. Nixon knew debates and politics, but Frost knew television. And it was, ultimately, the entertainer who was able to take the upper hand.

I'll grant that it wasn't the same thing, but it was eerily similar. Watching Frost hammer Nixon with damning quotes; watching Nixon tell Frost he was taking them out of context; watching Frost come in for the kill with quotes you couldn't take out of context.... And then watching Stewart do the same thing with Cramer -- only this time, it was video clips rather than quotes from audio transcripts.

Stewart usually isn't such a piercing interviewer. Particularly when he's interviewing comedians, or other people he actually knows, it's generally just three minutes of Jon and his pal giggling in a mutual admiration session. But, at times like this, he takes the position of the Everyman Journalist -- and straightforwardly fires the questions we all think should be asked. And people like Cramer who think Stewart is just a fake newsman do so at their peril.

Not the best day

At work. I'm busy.

(Lord, I'm busy. I've been doing a lot of stuff with the Awards show after work every day, which has made it hard to stay late at the office. So today, I am determined to put in a solid day of work. I can even stay late, because I'm going to the theatre at night -- and since the theatre is located five minutes from my office, I can just work right up until I have to go to the show.)

I emailed the contractor last night asking if we were still on schedule because it didn't look like anyone had been out at the house yesterday. And the response is that they're waiting for the inspector to improve the rough plumbing, and he's supposed to come out today. Good.

I get a call around 2:30. Seems they won't send an inspector out because they don't think I own the property. Can I fax the Permit Department a copy of my deed? Well, oddly enough, I don't walk around with a copy of my Grant Deed. I can't fax it until tomorrow morning.

A thought: If I fax it tomorrow morning, will they be able to get an inspector out tomorrow? Or am I going to have to wait until Monday and lose two days over this? Because if I'm going to lose two days over this, I can drive home, pick up my deed, and walk it over to the Permit Department today (conveniently, the shithole is located just a couple blocks from City Hall). My contractor calls the Permit Department -- can they schedule the inspection for tomorrow with the understanding that they'll be getting the deed at that point? No, they can't schedule the inspection until they're convinced I own my house. I should go today.

I leave the office. I drive home. On the way home, the contractor calls me again -- they need a copy of my water heater permit. As long as I'm at the Permit Department, can I pull a copy of the permit the previous owner pulled for the water heater? I suppose I could -- fervently hoping that they did, in fact, have a permit for the water heater.

I grab the deed. I walk to the Permit Department. I check in at the desk; she asks why I'm here -- I say I need to prove I own my house so that my contractor can get a permit. She nods and, after I wait a bit, sends me over to Permit Lady at Desk 8.

Permit Lady has no freakin' clue what I'm talking about. She thinks that proving I own my house is the most ridiculous thing she's ever heard. She thinks that maybe my contractor won't pay for the business license in my City and that's what I'm here to do. No, I'm here to prove I own my house. I am, in fact, certain that I am here to prove it is my house.

She still thinks it's ridiculous, but, to humor me, she agrees to look at my deed, since I brought it.

Then she looks closer at the file and sees that someone has put a hold on it. She removes the hold and types in that yes, I own my damn house. (She then says, "I heard some of the other employees talking about this sort of thing, but nobody ever told me it was required.") I ask her if there was a water heater permit and she finds that too (hooray! Thank you, prior owner) and prints me a copy.

I leave. I call the contractor's office and tell them what happened. (And she says, "No way. FOUR people in the office said this was a requirement. She even asked her supervisor.") She says she'll call and make the appointment with the inspector. And she tells me she needs the water heater permit.

So, rather than go back to work, I now drive the water heater permit over to the house. I hit traffic because, by now, other people are actually going home.

I leave the permit at the house. NOW, I drive back to work.

And when I hit the office, I get the email from my contractor saying the permit office wasn't able to give us an appointment until Monday anyway.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Smoke Detector -- Day Two

I bought a 2-pack of 9-Volt batteries on my way to work today; didn't have time to drop them by the house. The contractor emailed about the permit fees, so I took the opportunity to ask them to leave a ladder around so that I could change the battery in the smoke detector. They said they'd leave a ladder.

I arrive around 7:00 p.m. Check out the progress on the bathroom. (The plumber is actually still there, and he proudly shows me what he's done, for my approval. I approve.) He leaves. I walk the house looking for the promised ladder.

No ladder. (I probably should have looked before he left.)

The smoke detector continues to squeak.

It's on the wall above the bathroom door, not the ceiling. I only need another foot or so and I can reach it. I look around the house for something that will get me a foot off the ground.

Five boxes of granite tiles. Yeah, that oughtta do it. And they're granite, so I'm fairly sure they can hold my weight. I bring them into the hallway one box at a time. By the time I've got four of them stacked, I can reach the smoke detector. I flip the lid on it and look for the battery.

It's on the top part, of course.

I get the last box of granite tiles. I pull on the battery and it comes out. (Hooray! It is a 9V!)

I get one of my new batteries. By feel, I figure out which way it fits in the slot in the top of the smoke detector. I jam it in. I close the lid of the smoke detector. It beeps a few times, and then goes blissfully silent.

Yes! I did it! My very first home repair in my new house! Go me! And without a ladder, too! I rock--


Excuse me?

You did not just squeak at me. I gave you a shiny new Energizer and you have no right to--


There must be another smoke detector. I check the bedrooms. There's a smoke detector in the bedroom right off the hall. No more than five feet away from the one I just changed. And it's on the ceiling. I wait for the next squeak attempting to pin down the source. I stand right under it and close the door. I wait.


I open the door; go back in the hallway; close the door.


That's it then. The one in the bedroom. On the ceiling. That I can't reach without a ladder.

I leave the battery on the kitchen counter, and send a note to the contractor -- feel free to change it yourself or leave me a freakin' ladder.

Already a Crappy Neighbor

That would be me.

I've been going to the house every night to check on the contractor's progress. Takes about ten minutes. I take pictures. (I'd post 'em here if I had the time.) Tonight, I'm walking through the house and I hear a loud squeak.

Was that the floor? I step on the same spot in the floor and it's squeakless.

I keep going and take more pictures. I hear the squeak again.

I stand still and wait to hear it again, so I can pin down the source.


It's the hallway. I freeze in the hallway.


Dammit. It's the smoke alarm. The one right up there over the door frame. (Taped over with plastic by the contractor.) Even if I had another battery on me (which, quite clearly, I don't), there's nothing I can do about it. I can't reach it and I don't have a ladder (or even a chair) to stand on. Yep. The fucker is just going to keep beeping all night.

I shut off all the lights (squeak) and leave the house. I lock the door. I walk to my car.


Holy crap. You can hear it outside. Loudly. That damn thing is going to beep all night. I hope my neighbors are protected from it by their walls, but it's possible that they're hearing it right now and hating me before I even move in.

If I can find the time, I'll buy a battery tomorrow morning and drop it by the house. With any luck, the contractor will put 2 and 2 together and replace the damn thing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

One of the Good Guys

Received an email today about a Memorial Service for one of my Law School Professors. He'd died in November; I hadn't known.

I am saddened by his loss. I took two classes from him and wrote a paper for him. But I'm not saddened because I knew him and he may have influenced me in some small way. I'm saddened because Jay Katz was one of the good guys.

I may have mentioned this story before, but this will always sum him up for me.

I was taking his class called "Family, Child, and the State" -- it dealt with the rather difficult legal issues of who makes the decisions when there are differences of opinion being parents, children, and government. (What to do when a parent refuses an operation for a child that the doctors believe is medically necessary? What if it is refused on religious grounds? What if the child shares the parent's faith and would rather die than undergo the procedure? What if the operation isn't medically necessary, but would correct a serious deformity?)

There's a student in the class -- she's Black. She's angry. She questions why we should trust the government with these decisions at all. She notes that, historically, the United States government does not have the greatest track record in acting in the best interests of Black Americans. Her voice raises, and she uses, as an example, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment in which U.S. Public Health Service researchers allowed Black men with syphillis to go untreated in order to observe the complete progress of the disease -- even after penicillin had been proven an effective treatment. Why should I trust a government, she asked, that had let these men die in the name of research?

And Professor Katz sat calmly and quietly while she said her piece, letting her voice her anger because that's the sort of person he was. And when she was finished he said, just as calmly, "I was one of the physicians that stopped the Tuskegee Experiment."

And while this was a fairly awesome demonstration of what can happen if you don't research the background of the dude you're arguing with, it stays with me because Professor Katz was the only person in the room -- and most likely the only person in the Law School -- who could, without question, claim the high moral ground here. The student was right to be angry; the Tuskegee researchers had acted reprehensibly -- but she was expressing her anger at a man who, at the time of the Tuskegee experiments, had stood up in front of Congress and said This Must Stop.

I'm sure Professor Katz taught me all sorts of things about Law, Medicine and Ethics. He taught me things about Family Law and the law pertaining to Reproductive Technologies (and I'm sure he would have had something interesting to say about Octo-Mom). But these things don't make me sad about his passing. What makes me sad is that we've lost someone who believed in moral absolutes -- that there's some shit you don't do simply because it is wrong, even if some good might be gained from it. And the world needs as many voices like that as we can get.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


And Wil asks how the house is coming. It's been one of those too busy to actually post things -- between trying to get the house ready to move in, co-producing an Awards show, and, y'know, my actual job, I've been pretty insane.

Like, for example, I had two contractors bid the work in my house (consisting of a bathroom remodel, a plumbing upgrade, an electrical upgrade, and various other things ranging from "stick a peephole in the door" to "custom build a pantry in the kitchen"). Actually, it was two contractors plus a plumber. Contractor A bid the work at $40,000, attributing $11,000 to the plumbing. A plumber bid the plumbing work at about $5,900, which suggested that Contractor A was padding his bid just a teensy bit. (Oddly enough, the plumber also tried to get me to do work that wasn't necessary.) Then Contractor B bid the entire job at $30,000. Guess who I hired.

On Friday, the contractor gave me a list of everything I had to buy for the bathroom remodel (tile for shower, tile for shower floor, tile for bathroom floor, vanity, medicine cabinet, sink fixture, shower valve, toilet, over-toilet-cabinet ...). I decided to take Saturday off from all the pre-Awards show stuff and spend it, instead, buying a bathroom. Sunday, I'll do all the Awards stuff.

How to describe what happened next...

1. Wake up on Saturday. Eat breakfast.
2. Drive to local tile store. Worthless.
3. Drive 30 miles (get lost) to tile store recommended by contractor. Closed.
4. Drive 20 miles to vanity store recommended by contractor. Has no vanity small enough for my bathroom.
5. Drive 40 miles (type "Victoria Place" rather than "Victory Place" into GPS and get exceptionally lost) back to local Lowe's. Lowe's has small enough vanities, but they're kinda ugly.
6. Go (it's in the same shopping center, hard to get lost) to local Great Indoors. Find small vanity that isn't ugly! (Cherry wood with a patterned marble top.) Find shower fixture! Do not buy any of it, though, because Great Indoors is having a sale on Sunday. Dude cannot give me Sunday's prices on Saturday, but sets the stuff aside for me. They have towel bars, but I think I can do better price-wise at Home Depot.
7. Notice that I'm hungry, what with not having eaten since breakfast. And it's now around 7:00.
8. On the way out of Great Indoors, notice the washer/dryer I've been coveting is on sale. Inquire of Great Indoors Appliance guy if he can do me a deal without me having to come back on Sunday. He can. Great Indoors has price matching, so he searches every freakin' appliance store on internet until he finds the best price on the washer at one store and the best price on the dryer at another. It takes an hour and a half, but we end up about $400 less than we started. He gets his manager to approve it, and I'm outta there.
9. With a massive no-food headache.
10. Eat food. Go home. Go sleep.
11. Wake up on Sunday. Meet friend for breakfast.
12. Go to Great Indoors. Pick up the vanity, shower fixture, and sink faucet.
13. Go to Lowe's again. Note that they have a toilet I'd like, but it's too damn heavy for me to carry. And I'm annoyed that they charge $80 to deliver a $200 toilet.
14. Drive back to the house and somehow manage to get the vanity out of the car and into the house. At one point, I'm balancing the entire weight of the vanity with my right arm. My arm says, "This is not bright."
15. Drive to Home Depot. They also want $80 to deliver the $200 toilet. And I'm not impressed by their towel bars. But they have some shelving that might work for over-the-toilet storage. And I bought the peephole for the door, too.
16. Realize that I need a photo of the vanity so that I can compare its marble surface with tiles when I eventually get to the tile guy. But there's no way I'm freeing the vanity from its packaging materials.
17. Drive back to Great Indoors. Surreptitiously snap pictures of the vanity. Buy the towel bars. While walking (slightly dazed) through Great Indoors, I pass some granite tiles on sale. They're pretty. And they look ... kinda like the marble on the vanity. I pick up one of the tiles and walk it over to the vanity. They're very close. Close enough that it would probably look the same if I put this granite on the floor. Pile five boxes of (my, they're) heavy granite tiles into my basket.
18. Drive back to the house. Unload tiles, one box at a time. Carefully.
19. Decide that I've pretty much done all I could do. It's about 5:30 now. The day isn't totally shot. I'll just put gas in my car, stop off at the grocery store for some food, and get home in time to put in a few good hours on the Awards show.
20. Drive to the gas station; misjudge the turn toward the gas pump and hit the curb with my rear tire.
21. Open door to assess the damage and hear the hiss of lots of air escaping my tire.
22. Go into little shop and ask shopguy for assistance. He provides none.
23. Drunk guy in shop volunteers to change tire.
24. He successfully changes tire. I give him $10, which is likely spent on more booze. (NOTE TO READERS: If a drunk guy can change a tire, so can you.)
25. Finish evening uneventfully.

Somewhere after this, I actually got out to tile guy (a very long lunch on Monday) and loaded so much tile into the car, it felt like I was leaning backward. (Indeed, I got the best mileage I'd ever obtained driving with all that weight back there.) And when I saw the contractor this morning (and he helped unload the car), he was duly impressed ... and told me I needed to immediately buy two more things.