Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   taunted by toilets
Wednesday, October 22 2014
On the drive out to the Wall Street house this afternoon, I made a detour down Broadway to Zaborski's, an architectural salvage place I'd only recently learned about. It's four or five huge floors crammed "to the rafters" with the detritus of Kingston's deep history as an often-prosperous city. If you need a bit of wrought iron railing, a cast iron radiator, a clawfoot tub, any sort of energy-inefficient door or window, Zaborski's is the place to go. There are also plenty of unexpected items, such as classical guitars for children, outboard motors, and piles of dismembered mannequins. Gretchen had been there recently and had told me where the toilets were. I was in the market for the smallest one I could find for the tiniest half-bathroom ever attempted. I'd been drinking tea all morning and was in the process of drinking a mid-sized cup of Stewart's coffee when I entered Zaborski's and would have been delighted to find a bathroom. Once I got back there in a dimly-lit corridor with stacks of toilets to the left and right, my swollen bladder became an unbearable torment. So I choked down the last of my coffee and then filled it nearly to the brim with urine. In this case, it was good that Zaborski's has relatively few staffers in its claustrophobic acre of indoor floor space. But once I'd found a suitably small (if filthy) toilet, tracking down an employee became a bit of a challenge. I made two excursions down from the third floor before I managed to find Stan Zaborski himself (on one of those, I dumped out my "coffee" into the grass and threw the cup in the trash). We couldn't find a tank lid for this toilet, so Stan showed me to a smallish room whose walls were entirely dedicated to orphan toilet tank lids. I managed to find one that was a near enough fit, and then we brought the nasty beast down in a freight elevator. Total cost to me: $52.50 (of which $2.50 went to the handy bank machine right there next to the cash register; Zaborski's doesn't take credit cards).
Over at the Wall Street house (about a mile from Zaborski's), I proceeded to do what I could to clean the new toilet. It was covered with various sorts of grime that ranged from lawn clippings to chunks of that nasty grease ring that all toilets rest upon (mercifully, though, the grease had hardened over the years into a kind of plastic). I did what I could with soap, water, and then left the bowl soaking beneath a puddle of undiluted bleach. But I'm still going to need to go over it with paint thinner.
There was still a stub of capped pipe sticking out of the floor at the base of the stairs that used to go to the radiator I'd removed. It seemed like a good idea to remove that stub as well, since it could now cause someone using the stairs to trip. So, with great effort (and a long piece of pipe added to my pipe wrench for leverage), I managed to turn the pipe out of the elbow fitting down beneath the floor in the basement. When I got it out, a torrent of water gushed from the elbow fitting as the entire heating system again depressurized. Luckily, all of this water immediately went to the low northwest corner of the basement, where it drained away through the crack between the wall and the slab. Once the deluge was over, I stopped up the pipe with a one-inch plug.
Next I turned my attention to the waste pipe project necessary for the new bathroom. The only suitable attachment point was a cast iron vent pipe rising up from just before the trap at the entrance to the municipal sewer system. My task was to cut a 12 inch section out of this pipe, install a rubber T-junction, and then install PVC along the wall to the site of the bathroom. I'd been procrastinating cutting into that cast iron stack pipe because I'd never attempted to cut through something so big and hard. And I was also nervous about the gasses that might escape once I'd sliced into it. But it was something that I needed to do, so I installed the special carbide cast-iron cutting blade into reciprocating saw and went to work. It was slow going, but eventually I penetrated the wall of the pipe and there were no gasses released. I only managed to make one and a third cuts through the pipe before the blade became useless. Obviously I'm going to need to complete that second cut in order to remove the section of pipe that needs to be removed.

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