It's Just A Guy Thing...
Idaho über-blogger Clayton Cramer frequently posts entertaining articles about his various projects, including work he's doing on his telescope. Now that I'm off work for a couple of weeks as I enter the last half of my radiation/chemo regimen, I figured that I might have time to post about some of my home repair efforts in the hopes of amusing my readers.
My oncologists are always asking if I'm having problems with my bowel movements; it turns out that this is one area where I continue to excel. This weekend, after making quite a substantial deposit in the First National Bank of Crap, I found that my toilet wouldn't flush properly; no matter how much plunging I did, or how many hot water/dishsoap solutions I poured into the bowl, I just couldn't get any water to drain; my handy snake just couldn't make it around the 180 degree turn in the internal water path. Being a good nuke, I did my research, determined the Probably Faulty Function (big ol' turd stuck in the furthest reaches of the drain line), and got my procedure in place. Eventually, I got to #11 on the list of immediate and supplemental casualty actions, and I realized it was more than a one-man job job to continue. It was time to remove the toilet and do the "reverse snake".
Being a submariner, I prepared my job site with care. I went to Home Depot and got a new wax ring with brass install kit ($5.97 plus tax -- significantly less than the $103 the plumbers wanted to come out with their super-whamodyne snake. Yes, my wife called; I think she was starting to doubt my home repair prowess.) I found some rubber gloves and a plastic sheet, pulled my Shop-Vac out of the corner of the garage, brought up my most trusted tools, and called my two strapping teenage boys to help their old man out. After I Shop-Vac'd out the remaining water and got everything unbolted, the boys pulled the toilet out, and when I ran the snake up from the underside of the toilet, it came back brown.
At this point I should digress and talk about how one's childhood experiences relate to our reactions to poop as we age. I grew up on a farm with cows, horse, pigs, chickens... you name it. I've dealt with crap -- literally. We used to dig up barnfuls of it and spread it on the alfalfa field. My kids, on the other hand, we mostly raised in the city (except for a couple of years in the wilds of Ledyard, CT, where we'd have deer wander though our yard). Their reaction to turdsign was somewhat disappointing to this old farmboy -- it makes me wish I'd exposed them to more animal poop when they were younger.
Anyway, at this point I decided that we'd best get the obstruction cleared if we took the toilet downstairs and out to the backyard, where I could use the hose to really get it cleaned out. The boys muscled it down the stairs (its odd shape, combined with my injunction against using the tank for support -- since it was only connected by two bolts to the bowl -- made moving it tougher.) The hose did it's job, as the boys gave me abuse for generating such a remarkable specimen. I was proud of my accomplishment, however; maybe it's just a "guy thing" that's gone out of style with the new generation.
The boys got the toilet upstairs, unaided by their old man; in fact, I was detrimental to the proceedings, since I made them laugh and have to put down the toilet by choosing to demand that "From now on, you will call me 'The Turdmaster' " as they were coming up the stairs. After installing the new brass bolts and positioning the new wax ring, the boys were able to lower the toilet into position in the cramped corner of the bathroom where it resides, and I did the final bolt tightening and water line hookup. The subsequent retests were SAT, and I left with the feeling of a Job Well Done.