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May 2020
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The Stain from Hell and the Acid Trip

Okay maybe not from hell per se, actually the cat did it. My son is moving out of town, and getting ready for the walk through to try to salvage the security deposit. Red Oak flooring turns black when exposed to cat piss. Cat urine soaks into wood like diesel fuel in carpet. No, nothing so easy as being a small spot in a corner of a room, but a 2 foot square in the middle of the floor. No this is not a spot sand and poly project,but a screaming condemnation of the entire feline race, for those so inclined.

Before most folks ever discovered tile or carpet, floors were made of wood, real tongue and groove wood that you could sand down a dozen times before you ever ran into the nails, let alone the sub floor.

Hardware stores, Lumber Yard and even Drugstores, carried wood bleach. Not any more. The big box stores are stepping over themselves to sell you carpet or tile, or god forbid, engineered flooring with a veneer so thin, that if you wore it as clothing, you would be arrested for indecent exposure. Your flooring should, but that is a different rant.

Here in the southwest, wood flooring is something that is found in the old part of town the developers haven’t gotten their black greasy fingers on and turned into a stucco and tile wonderland of southwest living, as cheaply as possible, but I digress.

Oxalic Acid is the primary product for bleaching wood. It is what is used to bleach pulp for making paper, and why wood match sticks have that light yellow color.
After going into the big box, small lumberyards, hardware stores, (where the folks who have not used grecian formula, remember it), but are sorry that they don’t carry it.

 I stopped into a Walgreens and inquired at the pharmacy, if they had any. The woman told me that they did not have it at the store, but I could get it delivered there around noon the next day. Being a money for stuff sort, I went to the other big pill stores to see if they had it on the shelf. No Joy.

I went back to Walgreens,, and ordered a 454 gram container(a Reaganomics holdover,remember when we were gonna go metric?). She asked me for a phone number, which I couldn’t remember, having a phone to make calls, rather than receive them, so I went to the van, grabbed the phone, couldn’t remember the menu to get the number, had to call a friend to have them read me the number, and raced back to the counter before I forgot. I gave her the number, and flush with victory over cat urine, I arrived back at my van only to discover that I had locked the door, leaving my keys on the seat.

Since my keys were laughing at me, and my cell phone was next to them, precluding making a phone call, I began scouring the parking lot looking for a coat hanger or a stiff piece of wire to jimmy the door. Working in wrecking yards for 9 years, you pick up tricks.

Well the Anti Destination League was working overtime for me. No coat hangers, cups or cigarette butts. You could almost perform surgery, this parking lot was so clean. But being no stranger to dumpster diving, I found a piece of wire, and what was once part of a plastic display. I went back into walgreens and got a small roll of medical tape, (the old school stuff that would rip the hairs and skin off your body when you took it off) taped my finds together, retrieved my keys and went about the rest of the day, with no major problems.

The next day, working on a remodeling project that seemed to have just about everything about it go bad, it was after 2 p.m. when I arrived back at the Walgreens. The woman behind the counter informed me that it had not arrived. She called whoever, only to find out that it could only be dropped shipped, and I would probably have it the middle of next week sometime. Way past it doing me any good. She had no explanation for this ‘policy’, no doubt developed on the spot by some cubicle drone whose idea of a good time was to make their employees look bad and to piss off customers.

 Here is the problem. Oxalic Acid has no use in either drug manfacturer, explosive production, or getting you high if you are stupid enough to introduce into any of your mucus membranes. It does block the absorption of calcium, which is one of those Trivial Pursuit bits of information, but so far beyond wood bleaching, that you wonder just how screwed up some companies are.

Most days I am excited living in modern times. Yesterday wasn’t one of them.

Remodeling Surprises

I do not like remodeling surprises.
Surprises in remodeling are not good things. They usually involve more work and extra expense. They usually happen on things you consider just a minor change. These things are the stuff of legend in projects going over budget and time. They also create the greatest amount of acrimony between folks who are remodeling and the contractors they hire.

Case in Point

This is a bathroom wall that has a mirror that covers the entire wall from side to side and from counter splash to the ceiling. The door contains a stained glass panel made by the client. Why is there a porcelain fixture hanging in space?

It has been precut for a 4” electric box. So why is this light here? And why is it showing wires? From this side it would seem that you could install a ‘old work box’ (the plastic boxes with the tabs for attachment) or one of the box on a rod electric boxes, and be done with it.


Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

In going into the other room which is a closet, and cutting an inspection hole we find our surprise. The original location was over the sink and guess what? It is on a box on a rod!
But Wait! It gets ‘better’.
The hole in the mirror is sitting on one of the studs by about 3/4”. The photo is bad as I was using a flashlight as the batteries in my camera were running low. You can see the edge of the rod bracket, so you can imagine the stud.

What should be an hour (setting a box) will take a couple of days to fix. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

So to clean up this mess, we will empty the closet, dismantle quite a bit of the built in shelving unit, open up the wall, sister the stud that is protruding into our opening, cut away the protruding bits, check to see if we have enough romex to make it into the new box, or if we need to pull a new piece, remove the old box and bracket rod, probably seal up the hole behind the mirror, and drywall, tape, texture and paint.

But this is remodeling.