Ladies and gentlemen, my pipes.

(Like, the ABS kind, not the locomoting kind.)

You know when you’re living in downtown Toronto, and you hear a couple walk past a new condo tower, and they’re sipping their peppermint Starbucks lattes and they’re like “that went up so fast! It’s probably held together with gum and toothpicks!” and they laugh and stroll off down the street. And you watch them go, pressed up against the glass window of your condo, where you are busy disentangling the grocery store shopping bag that the builders used to shore up your drain pipe?


Exhibit A:

(Note: That shit on the floor? Yeah, that was just already there. That’s not from us or anything. Without exception, every nook of our place that was hidden by a surface or bit of drywall has been harbouring random construction shit like this. Thanks Urbancorp!)

Why a grocery store bag? Weeelllll the lazy fucktards who built our place, using only glue and their (sparse) wits, apparently couldn’t be assed to find a hole saw, so they just bashed out an opening roughly the size of the pipes plus a bit… declared that It Was Good, then shimmed the bejebeers out of it with bits of particleboard and leftover plastic bits.


Fucktard #1: “Hey, Fucktard #2, are you almost done with your lunch? I need a manky plastic bag to finish up this plumbing work?”

Fucktard #2: “Sure thing boss! Do you want some of these french fries for insulation?*”

*The fry thing is probably not true. Probably.

Exhibit B:

See that little shiny thing poking out from the bottom of the detritus? That, folks, is a junction box. Within (and by “within” I mean exposed) are some spliced wires. Where does this sit? Oh, y’know. On the floor. Under the drain pipe and water lines.

This is why whenever I go to do something simple like, I don’t know, hang a picture, I end up having to do light drywall and plumbing work as prep. On the plus side, my tool collection is getting impressive.

I even have a hole saw.

Move in ready! Just steps from Starbucks, trendy neighbourhoods and electrocution!*

*Disclaimer: “Trendy neighbourhoods” include but are not limited to barf-covered sidewalks on Sunday mornings.

Wont Fix

I have money. I have a house. I have things in the house that you should be able to use money to fix.

Not so.

A shortlist of some of the things:
* hot water on demand unit
* air handler
* potlights
* location of cold air return vent
* reskimming of popcorn ceilings

Each one of these has had at least one contractor just:
* not show up
* not reply to email(s)
* not reply to voicemail(s)
* not reply to inquiries using the webform on their site

In the more extreme cases, like the HVAC system, we’re now officially up to 5 or 6 (or more) contractors who have dropped the ball. Including one (Belyea Bros) who did a direct mail drop (“Having trouble with your hot water [people living on this street]?”), sent a guy out, gave us a quote and a huge pile of reassurance… and then we never heard (or heard back from) them again. Oh, no, I’m wrong. We did get another flyer from them.

We finally sucked it up yesterday and just had Direct Energy replace our broken hot water on demand system with a new one. Still a rental, but a newer model, for more money a month. Whatever, we thought, we just need to make some progress here.

This morning I turned on the tap… cold water only. Brand spanking new machine? “Error 25E”. Call an authorized service centre.

I did. They were supposed to be here between 1 and 5pm today.

It’s 5pm here now.

I’d have a bad case of the stabbies right now, if a little piece of my soul hadn’t just died. Or maybe it’s just not working because it’s dirty from not being able to shower all day. I should call an authorized service centre.


I bought myself a desk this week. It’s a fancy shmancy stylin’ desk. Floats “free” on the wall. Which is very sleek, and very cool. Made possible by some fancy shmancy anchors.

However. Despite having had a quick walkthrough in the store about how the anchors work, and how to mount the desk, we opened it today to find out that none of this information is in the box. Neither how to use the anchors, or, say, what a recommended height off the ground would be for a floating desk.

:shakes the box (and it’s a bloody great big box)

Fortunately, I am a hypernerd, and this poses no challenge to me.

Why? Because my laptop (which was naturally within reach) could be used to google the brand name etched on the anchor, and find a how-to install on their website.

How high off the ground? Well, given that we have no standard desks in our house, we have no locally-available reference point. But never fear. Because /also within arms length/ was a book in my personal library. A book called “Human Dimension and Interior Space”.

Flip to “3.1 The Private Office”, reference item “G” which indicates floor height->table height. And you’ll find that the comfortable range is between 29-30″. Would you like to know how much to estimate for thigh clearance? Side arm reach? Buttock-popliteal length? (<-oh, you bet it’s a category)

Cuz, I can tell you.*

* 6.5-7″; at the low end 27″ (to 39″); at the low end 16.9″ (to 17.6″)

Buttock-popliteal length being “the horizontal distance from the rearmost surface of the buttock to the back of the lower leg.” (used to determine seat lengths)

This may just be the greatest book I own.  Cuz, NERD!  🙂

Why do we even have a death chair?

For the past many Tuesdays I have been hosting a work meeting around my dining room table.  For 80% of those meetings, I had to keep stopping people from sitting in what we affectionately call “the death chair”.

Okay, perhaps not “affectionately”.

This is the death chair:

Ikea death chair

It’s from Ikea and it’s $20.  I had a set of two for /years/.  And was amazed by how sturdy they were for $20.  So when we got our big old farm table and needed an interim chair solution, I was like “oh oh! I know what chairs we should get!”  (If you think during a conversation with my husband I do not actually jump up and down and wave my hand and say “oh oh!”, think again).

Sadly, as is so often the case, the interim solution’s time frame… extended.  We are now entering year 3.

The original pair are holding up fine.  The “new” ones?  Not so much.

Not so much in the sense that at least 3 of the 4 have each at one time or other made a resounding “CRAAAAAAAAACK!” noise when someone was sitting on them.  Causing that person to leap out of their chair.

Only the chair didn’t actually “break”.  Not… completely.  None of them did.  They just get fracture lines.  A split appears across the back brace.  When that happens, we sit in the chair tentatively for a few weeks… a few weeks turns into a few months, and a few months turns into me sitting in one right now, rocking on the front legs, totally forgetting that it really could probably go at any time (maybe I have some self-loathing issues I’m not in touch with).

So, technically it’s not actually “the” death chair anymore (though there is a patient zero one we really worry about), but the death chairs.

You pay $20 for a chair, you get what you pay for.  I was hoping we’d also get the “…but sometimes you get a deal” clause.  No such luck.

And so Christmas approaches, and we’re having a big pile of people over to our house.  And we are reexamining our extensive collection of death chairs.

Finger crossed beloved friends and family.  If we find a deal, we will have replaced the interim solution with a leather bench, or some other frou frou condo furniture.

If we don’t, and you see these:

Ikea death chair

… around the table, don’t believe a word I say about how they’re “fine” or how “we tested them”.  Given the chance, the death chair will kill you and everyone you care about (actually, if they all give out simultaneously during Boxing Day dinner, that’ll literally be true).

God bless us every one.

I believe! I believe!

It turns out that Mr. Repairman is not invisible — he’s a time traveller!

Apparently the part that the flesh-and-blood repairman (who just left by the way — hot water ftw!) replaced on our system is /exactly/ the part that they had noted in our file as replaced 5 hours ago.


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The fantastical adventures of Mr. Repairman and his cloak of invisibility.

My god.

Home repair clusterfuck story #2nd of many.


As part of purchasing our condo, we also took over the rental of the hot water unit. Which, in our case, is a hot-water-on-demand unit, which heats both our water and our home. How convenient.

Except when it is busted. And then you can only wrap a scarf around your greasy hair, stockpile your dirty dishes, and call a repairman.

But wait.

When you’re renting a hot water tank the only person who can service it is your authorized service provider. It’s not like plumbing. Where anyone with a pipe snaker and a low-riding pair of pants can help you out.

Ah, but then there’s the all important question — who is our service provider?

How do you find that out?

Well, what I did was do a bit of creative guesswork, talk to the stand-in superintendent, and then book an appointment online with Direct Energy. Feeling 75% confident that they were our guys.

Direct Energy has a fantastic online booking system, which I took advantage of on Tuesday to book today’s service call, to take place between 12-4.

Guess what happened?

Oh, you betcha they didn’t come.

I begin to doubt myself. Maybe our account is not with Direct Energy, thinks I. Maybe their online service caught that I was an unauthorized requestee and so they didn’t dispatch anyone (I give technology too much credit).

So I suck it up and decide to start making phone calls until I get some answers. First stop, Direct Energy billing department. Let them know that I’ve just moved in and would like to confirm that we have taken over an account with them.

“Do you have your account number?”

“No, where might I find that?”

“It’ll be on your bill.”

“I don’t have a bill yet, I just moved in a week ago… I wasn’t really anticipating it breaking before my first bill.”

Guy looks up our address, our names, the old owners names. Nadda, nadda, nadda. There is no account with Direct Energy for the address provided. Never has been.


I call Enbridge Gas. Proud owners of the one and only label on my hot water unit.

Hi there Enbridge. I just moved in, we’ve taken over ownership of the hot water unit.

“What’s your account number, it’ll be on your bill?”

“I don’t have a bill yet, I just moved in a week ago… I wasn’t really anticipating it breaking before my first bill.”

Looks up our address. Hmmm. Can’t find an address. Are you sure that it’s a gas unit? Yep (I know cuz I done smelled it when it was leaking before). And it’s with Enbridge? Yep. Those are the two things I know for sure, and I’m not letting them go.

“Well maam we have accounts for addresses /similar/ to yours, but nothing that matches yours and nothing for your name — I’m just going to put you on hold for a moment while I get a supervisor.”

(comes right back)

“While you were on hold maam, I’ve found a record with your name and exact address. You are the account holder and it has been active in your name since May 15th. We don’t have a phone number for you though. Can I have one?”

You bet buddy. Here’s mine, my husband’s, my old neighbours, and my best friend’s 4th grade piano teacher’s. Just in case.

“Can you please tell me who the service provider is?”

“Sure I can maam. It’s Direct Energy.”

“Um, I just talked to Direct Energy and they said we definitely, definitely aren’t with them.”

“You’ll just have to not take no for an answer maam. You’re with them. And the owners before you have been with them since 2000. Try asking for an account supervisor. Now, would you like to participate in our service survey?”

Call Direct Energy. But this time, armed with the knowledge that they are indeed my service provider, I’m going not to billing, but to service, to find out why they didn’t bother sending a repairman out today.

One ringy-dingy. Two ringy-dingy.

“Hello, this is Joan, how can I help you?”

Hiya Joan (not her real name). I booked a service call online, and I have the reference number here, and I’m wondering why the serviceman has not shown up.

I wait. Joan looks into it. At first, she can’t find any record of me. Naturally. But suddenly, lo, my full account info and confirmation on a service call show up (wtf is up with these people’s time-lapse databases?).

“Hm. Maam I have confirmation that he has serviced your hot water tank.”

What’s that now?

“Yes maam, he came by earlier today.”

No he didn’t.

“Yes he did.”

No he didn’t.

“Yes he did. He replaced (part name) at 2:43 this afternoon.”

“Well that’s fascinating, because I have been here all day and there has not been so much as a knock at the door. I definitely definitely have not had a serviceman come by today.”

“Well that’s odd. It says that he was there and fixed it already.”

“I see. Well unless he broke into our apartment, replaced the part completely silently, and let himself back out again, he was definitely DEFINITELY NOT HERE.”

“Maam, you said it’s an apartment? Could someone else have let him in?”

She and I now have a wee little discussion on how condos work, and how I gots one front door, and one water heater, and no one has been at either today.

And that I think I would notice if I let a repairman in, and he fixed my hot water tank and then I had a shower. It’s the sort of thing one remembers.

Call centre lady believes me, though she can’t believe this has happened. She reassigns it as open, to be serviced between 4-8pm this evening, and attaches a note for someone to find out what in god’s green earth went down.

She also lets me know, with some trepidation, that the system is automatically assigning it to the same repairman who said he was already here today.

“Does he think he’s here now? Should I look for him? Is he in my kitchen making a sandwich?”

A few minutes later my phone rings. It’s Joe from Direct Energy.

Joe: “I understand there’s been some confusion about whether a Direct Energy serviceman was there today.”

Me: “Oh, I think I’d say there’s been rather a lot of confusion about that.”

Joe (not amused): “No, there wasn’t. He wasn’t there.”

There goes Joan’s theory about the invisible weightless repairman with a rap sheet for breaking and entering.

It turns out that a goodly number of Direct Energy units have had to be serviced on my street today. And some novice at the call centre must have put the wrong info against the wrong address. (Which, btw, I had suggested to Joan, and she assured me was, ahem, “impossible”. Never say never Joan.)

And so my greasy hair and I sit here and wait. With our brand new rescheduled and confirmed open service call.

We wait for the Direct Energy Repairman. We wait, and we believe. Because only a true believer can see through his cloak of invisibility, and hear the pitter patter of his little repairman feet on our patio, and see the crack of his little repairman butt.

Only the true believers.


As I walked to the kitchen to make myself coffee, I started pondering our laundry list of problems from the past few days.

To help my own wimpy memory, so I can look back on these later and laugh and laugh and laugh, here’s what’s happened. So far.

Since last Friday:

  • the gas line to the BBQ was not properly shut off, so there was a gas leak on the patio (the patio adjacent to our chainsmoking neighbour, ‘natch)
  • we found out our phone line was severed
  • any information we have on the property management etc is out of date and thus useless (except as kindling in the case of a gas fire)
  • the dishwasher started leaking, steadily, onto the kitchen floor
  • our alarm system was disconnected
  • we lost a phone jack, and half the wall’s wiring was left sticking out and all akimbo
  • the low-battery warning on our alarm system went off at 5am. Not that I understood this, at 5am.
  • the hot water system is busted and we have to get a repairman out
  • the hot water system, gas-based, caused /another/ leak out onto the patio
  • the person coming to pick up our boxes just, y’know, didn’t come
  • our landlord asked us to let the new people move into our old apartment early, thus totally fux0ring our plans to get lingering stuff (like the fish), and donations dealt with

Is that it? I can’t be certain, because my mind is a sieve these days. I feel like hubby should pin a note to my sweater in the morning, telling me what’s happening that day, and giving an emergency contact in case I am found wandering aimlessly down an alley, muttering something about half-hot outlets and alarm overrides.

Update: I knew I was forgetting one —

  • the dishwasher (which we had them sign assuring us was in “good working order”) is broken. It doesn’t leak, it GUSHES soapy water all over the floor when you run it.

House: 1?

Shhh, she’s listening…


I think that House read my post yesterday.

Last night, after husband and I finally got home after /another/ 2 hours of clean up moving, I finally got to sleep around midnightish. Bear in mind that I’m at a new low in terms of pure exhaustion.


beep beep

beep beep

beep beep

beep beep

I dream that my phone is ringing until I realize it’s happening somewhere in my house. And it’s not my phone.

beep beep

beep beep

It’s the house alarm.

Which we inherited, have no documentation on, and was, at present, disarmed.

beep beep

I think that “April”, on the forum, says it best:


Exactly (except that it was every 5 seconds).

And I would like to send “Old EW Tech” a basket of mini-muffins, for his reply:

“Try pressing the # key to silence the beeping.”

I hate you House.

Oh, and also? EW Tech goes on to say:

“It probably has a failing battery, to confirm this as the trouble condition, press *, 2 and watch the Zone Lights, the Zone 1 Light is the indication for the battery.

If it is the battery, you will find the culprit in the metal enclosure that houses the system. The replacement should of equal voltage an Amphour rating.”

What’s that? The metal enclosure which the Bell guy /disconnected/ from the line? Which line is no longer there as he got rid of the jack?

And he also unplugged the unit. Which I’m hoping is what made the system think the battery was missing. And though it kept beepbeeping after I plugged it back in in the middle of the night, I’m hoping it’s just a charge thing and that given time, it will magically resolve.

Yes, that sounds like a solid plan.

Solid. Nothing can go wrong here.

:breaks a mirror and spills some salt.

Home Pwnership.

Do I pwn my house, or does my house pwn me? Only time will tell.

Right now, we’re roughly at a draw. It keeps hucking stuff at me, and I keep parrying and dodging.

Me: “So House, it is down to you, and it is down to me.”

House: (fux0rs phone line)

Me: “Is that all you got?!”

House: (breaks hot water tank)

Me: “Bring it bitch!”

—–Two representative stories—–

Story #1: Phones

Oh yeah, it didn’t end there. We scheduled a service call for “between 8 and 12″on Monday. Anticipated time of arrival, 9am.

At 2pm, I called to see where the serviceman was.

At 2:05pm, I was told that they couldn’t release that information to me, because I was not on the account. Fortunately, thank god, I got a spitfire this time. Who put me on hold while she called hubby, and had him confirm she could release info to me. BAM. I like this girl. If you’re ever calling Bell, ask for Ally. She is /on/ it. She was back in minutes, to tell me that the serviceman was running late, but she was calling his manager to get him over here asap. Like I said. Ally. She’s the man.

At 2:30, the serviceman rolls up. If he hadn’t been driving the truck all by himself, I would have sworn he was abut 15. Which would not have been far off. As he was, in fact, a student.

Hello? Bell sends students out unaccompanied on random calls? Seriously? Whatever.

So Dougie checks our phone line. Can’t tell from here. So he has to check the main line, in the main building (not in our house, but out back). Sorry ma’am, I have a master key, but someone has installed a new lock on the building.


As a brand spanking new condo owner, I have /no clue/ who installed the second lock, where that person might be right now, or who to call to begin to find out.

But I am a weasel of big brains.

Quick deep scan of the condo book turns up an apartment unit where the “customer service office” is located. About 5 minutes walk away. Magic. I tell Dougie to take a milk break while I zip down the street to the “office”. Ring doorbell. Ring doorbell again. Guy in his comfy pants comes to the door. Looks rather baffled to discover that his unit is listed as anything official (I think maybe he was playing videogames when I rang). Fortunately, he is very very nice, and when I ask “alrighty, well who would you call?”, he gives me the phone number of the superintendent. Magic again.

As I boot it back up the street, I call the super from my cell phone. The rather surly man who answers explains that he is very sick right now, and can’t even stand up, and yes he did install a second lock “because people were stealing from me”. No he isn’t onsite and can’t come by. No I can’t come and get the key from him. No, no one else has a key. Oh no, wait, there is one person, and she lives nearby, but she’s at work right now. When will she be back do you think? After 5. Right.

I get back, and ask Doog if he can come back after 5 today. Yes he can. Great.

2 minutes later, cell phone rings. Sick super calling back to ask if the Bell guy has left. No, he’s just about to drive away. I run out into the street, and throw my body on the hood of his truck. “Don’t go!”

Sick super is sending his neighbour, the sometime stand-in super, over with a key. He’ll be here in about 15-20 minutes. I put my hand over the reciever and ask the Bell guy if he can stick around for 15 minutes. Sure, no problem (<-at this point I’m beginning to understand how he came to be running so late…). Sick super gets shirty with me, and says “no, I didn’t promise 15 minutes, tell him 20”. Bite me.

Sometime stand-in super shows up. YAYES! He, it turns out, is rather lovely, and very helpful.

And as I’m being super long-winded, I’ll truncate this middle bit. Let’s just sum it up by saying that there was much in and out and around and back in the building and back to the jacks, and a significant amount of sometime stand-in super actually /coaching/ Dougie, Bell Guy through solving the problem.

They’re here until 4:45. Yeah, scroll up. It did indeed start at 2:30. That’s a 2hr service call for a dead phoneline.

And after it all, what was the problem? What was wrong with our phoneline? Well, dear reader, I’ll tell you:

The previous owner cut it.

Oh, that’s right. They physically severed the line in the back room. Not doing what a normal person would do and just call Bell to virtually disconnect the line. No siree. These people don’t take chances. Snip. Snip. No phoneline for you.


Dougie sorted it, and was on his merry. Unfortunately in the course of doing that he apparently also just got rid of the jack in our back room. Marvy.

So. Now we have a phoneline again. Though we’re minus one jack. Really House, did either of us win on this one? I got my phoneline, and you lost a feature. Was it worth it? Was it?

Story #2: Water

Our hot water tank is flaky like the 1980s treat. On night one we discovered that the fault light went on every time we had a shower. But that’s not too bad, because you hit the reset button and it works again. Get a repairperson over soon.

But yesterday morning, when husband went to have a shower, he discovered that both life and water heaters only have so many resets. After much, much coaxing, we got it working well enough that he could de-stink himself and go to work.

That evening, not wanting the same experience, and having to go onsite in the morning, I tried to have my shower. My foreplanning must have pissed House off. Because this time, it waited until I had shampoo in my hair, and then THWACK, it cut all hot water off, and gave me a blast of cold. Which, no matter how many dripping trips down the hallway later, I was unable to fix. Awesome.

Then there’s a bit here about not having the complete info from the last owners, including info on the hot water rental, discovered by more rifling through folders and endless stacks of papers.

But it ends, for now, with booking a service call for Thursday afternoon.

So, House. This round is up for grabs. Are you feeling lucky? Are you?

:goes shopping for Red Bull.

It’s no Whitman, but it has an ennui.

So, hold onto your pants — the transfer of our landline through Bell has not gone smoothly.

I know, I’m as surprised as you.

Now, it’s not that big a deal. Because apparently they’re just a little behind schedule. It hasn’t been done by 5pm, but they will be getting to it later today.

How do I know this? Well, not because they told me directly, noooo sir.

It goes like this — 5pm came and went. Wife of account holder, whose name was recently added as a primary on the account (this is important, pay attention to this for later), calls to see what’s up. Customer service guy and I get partway through the process when he just has to check and see if I’m on the account before he releases the status info to me.

Okay, so, what do you think?

That’s right, phone-istas, my name is not on the account. He can’t tell me what’s going on with my bollocksed up phoneline. Nothing he can do. Security policy etc. I mention that my name has been added recently, and that I’m The Wife. Nothing he can do. Security policy etc. He understands (and note that he says this like it happens /a lot/) but he can’t do anything. Have to get husband to call to get the status.

Husband calls and finds out the info above (I mentioned to husband that while he was on the line he could feel free to tell them to fuck off and die).

I, on the other hand, shut out on Ma Bell’s doorstep, can’t help but ruminate that because they fucked up, I couldn’t deal with their fuck up.

There’s a sort of poetry about it.