unexpected Verizon dude
Friday, January 16 2009
The thermometer registered a temperature of negative four degrees Fahrenheit last night, and down in the greenhouse temperatures fell below freezing throughout for the first time since I sealed it up. The floor, the location of the most stable temperatures, made it all the way down to 30 degrees. It was interesting what such low temperatures did to the normally-humid environment in the greenhouse. All the water appeared to have been wrung out, leaving the bedrock floor bone dry for the first time since I scraped away the last of its overlying clay-rich soil.
Eventually the sun heated up the greenhouse interior well into the 40s even while the outdoors struggled to rise above the single digits. This afternoon I continued my project of slathering the interior walls with Portland cement, eventually finishing the north wall and making good progress on both the east and west walls. At some point I was interrupted by the arrival of the Verizon guy.
Our phone had stopped working and I'd thought I'd determined that the problem lay outside the house. So I'd filed a trouble ticket, and within an hour a Verizon guy had appeared. He wasn't the stereotype of a Verizon guy perpetuated by the slightly-nerdy/slightly-hip spokesdude who wants to know if you can in fact hear him now. This guy was a white guy with long-ass dreadlocks and gnarly facial hair, the latter of which included two braids of its own. We got to talking while he was in our basement and it seemed, based on his diagnostics, that the problem actually was inside the house (more on that in a bit). He noted the crazy shit going on in the boiler room (all but surrounding the place on the phone where the telephone interface manifests) and agreed that it looked like I was capable of troubleshooting my phone problems. (I still don't know why my earlier troubleshooting had failed and led me to file a trouble ticket.)
We got to talking about various subjects near and dear to my heart: passive solar, solar hydronics, passive geothermal, and, since I was his last stop for the day, he asked if maybe he could see the inside of the greenhouse that I was showing him from afar. So we trudged down through the snow to it and I talked about site location, thermal masses, hours of sun, the downside of trees (particularly evergreens). Verizon dude seemed inspired, talking about the things he might be able to do at his place (near the Hudson in Kingston). Later we chatted in the bone-chilling cold near the back of his Verizon van, mostly about salvaging the many things our society wastefully discards. I never expected to talk to a Verizon employee about the joys of dumpster diving, but dude seemed even more into it than I am. It definitely helps to have a Verizon van when there is shit to be scooped up.
It turned out, by the way, that the phones had stopped working as a consequence of another pisstastrophe that had taken place late this morning. I'd tried to get my refrozen urine plumbing system flowing again by releasing air at a plugged T-joint in the shop. But when I'd gotten that plug loose, the incredible pressure of piss in the pipe had forced it out so powerfully that I hadn't been able to screw it back in before several cups of stale urine flooded the shop's east bench. Amongst the things flooded were a scroll saw, a cache of drawer rails, a collection of clear broken glass (for glass blowing experiments), and some phone cable with a jack attached to it. I'd cleaned all of these things, but evidently the moisture and piss had been enough to short the household phone line, causing it to fail.
This evening Gretchen and I watched the John Waters movie Cry-Baby, which seemed to fall on the cusp between the low-budget extra-stylized and the bigger-budget, more theatre-friendly phases of Waters' career. It's the heavy stylization that sets Waters' movies apart. In Crybaby, movie clichés (and the exhaustion thereof) are as important as gaffer tape. Still, I've seen too many Waters films at this point for this one to wow me. It was okay, it was watchable, but it didn't leave me with much.
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