another kind of torch
Wednesday, December 24 2003
The new countertops in the kitchen lack a backsplash, so today I undertook a project to give them one using available materials. In this case, the available materials most suitable were tiles leftover from the kitchen flooring project. I had just enough to make a backsplash reaching from the dining room past the sink and stove all the way to the refrigerator, although for my last full tile I actually used two half tiles positioned so close together that you can barely see the seam that bisects them. (I used a red Sharpie Marker to further camoflage this seam).
Meanwhile a warm airmass from the south brought a prolonged, drenching rain that melted most of the remaining snow. Outside air warmed so rapidly that a dense fog formed, particularly over remnant snow banks. But it also formed against cold surfaces. This was the first time I'd ever seen the outside of all the house's windows steam up as though the house had suddenly been rolled into a massive steamy shower. This humidity greatly slowed the curing process of the mortar I'd used to set the kitchen wall tiles. Thinset mortar seems to cure by a combination of drying (like glue) and hydration (like concrete) and I'd made the mistake of mixing it with too much water.
This evening I went into town to get more supplies and another Chaunukah gift for Gretchen. In the context of the Russian granite installers, she'd mentioned something about her love for Stoli Vanil, so I stopped at Miron Liquor store to get her a bottle of it. I also got myself the smallest bottle I could find of Skyy Vodka. (It's not that I've suddenly become a vodka snob - and why would I be buying overpriced American vodka if this was the case? I just wanted the blue bottle for one of my wetsaw-enabled glass cutting projects.)
I went across 9W to the Home Depot, the only local hardware supplier featuring a big sign on the door warning prospective employees about the privacy of their urine. I was mostly there to shoplift copper pipe fittings (drugtest this, futher muckers!), but then on a whim I bought a welding kit. It was basically just my MAPP gas soldering torch with the addition of a fire-engine-red oxygen tank. I would have never considered buying a welding kit had I not been experienced with MAPP gas and propane before it. And I would have never bought a propane torch had I not been acquainted with electric soldering irons. Here's the timeline:
Circa 1982 (Staunton, Virginia): I get my first low-wattage (15 watt) electric soldering iron.
Circa 1986 (Staunton, Virginia): I get other soldering irons, some rated as much as 30 watts.
Early 1990s (Staunton, Virginia): For really massive soldering projects, I occasionally use an electric cauterizer (normally used to prevent baby goats from growing horns). I think its rating was around forty watts.
early 2000 (Los Angeles, California): I discover that natural gas flames in a conventional kitchen gas stove are great for larger soldering projects.
late 2002 (Hurley, New York): I buy my first propane torch for soldering copper pipe in the plumbing and heating systems of the new house in Hurley.
2003 (Hurley, New York): On a whim, I buy a MAPP gas soldering kit.
troday, late 2003 (Hurley, New York): On a whim, I buy a MAPP gas and oxygen flame-welding kit.
This evening Gretchen and I sat by the woodstove drinking small glasses of Stoli Vanil and discussing something she'd read in the Savage Love column at The Onion. It was about a cannibal and a guy who wanted to be eaten and the story of how they satisfied each others' kinky desires in Germany. It turns out that the guy who wanted to be eaten also wanted to eat part of his own penis, and this desire was worked into the process. Now, apparently, there's a big uproar in Europe about what to do with the cannibal, given the consent of his victim. Gretchen thinks that in a world full of pain, torture, and the denial of rights, what happened here was relatively benign. We're talking about two consenting adults here, even if one of them ended up dead. As for me, I didn't know what to think. I could see the point of those arguing for the prosecution of the cannibal, that perhaps he happened to catch his victim during a period of temporarily-suicidal mental illness. In any case, I'm sure this sort of thing would have never happened back before the internet. How would a cannibal find a willing victim if the only tools he had at his disposal were personal ads and cruising gay bars?
Clarence with the menorah this evening. The paintings is one I did of Sally.
From left: Eleanor, Gretchen, Mavis, and Clarence.
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