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April column for Michiana House & Home Magazine: Monitoring the leaks

      One of these days, I will learn. Nine years ago, we moved into our new home and upon settling in, our washing machine began to leak water onto the laminate flooring. As President of this operation, I pointed the problem out to the Secretary of Home Improvement and he acknowledged that Houston, we indeed had a problem.

He proceeded to monitor the situation for the next decade.

Now, I don’t like to nag, but I am the kind of person who was born with a lot of get up and go whereas my counterpart…was not. In fact, he is a big proponent of the wait-and see-method of dealing with problems. Perhaps if we pretended not to notice the washing machine leaking, maybe it would stop doing it.

“It’s not a naughty child making a play for attention, you know,” I commented wryly.

When it became a more pressing concern a few weeks ago, he agreed it wasn’t faking and decided to take a look at it. That’s when he decided I must be overfilling it with clothes.

“You’re kidding, right?” I responded. “That washer can hold up to 12 pairs of jeans in its largest setting. It should be able handle a baseball jersey and a pair of sweatpants without its water breaking!”

“Well it only does it when it has a full load,” he offered.

I asked him if his honest solution to this problem was to divide the clothes in half and do double the laundry. Admittedly, it was a solution, but not a very practical one and considering the washing machine was a high efficiency model, it seemed like a bit of a cop out. In the end we decided to purchase a new unit.

Before it arrived though, I insisted he replace the floorboards I knew to be warped underneath the old machine. We had some extra ones that were included when the house was built. I showed him how they fit together and felt relatively confident that he could handle the repair.

I really have too much faith in that man. My floor is now a unique jigsaw puzzle of mismatched boards with wood putty filling in where there were gaps. Take my advice, if someone tells you they only had two boards, even though they needed four and “made do” by using wood putty, check their work, I beg of you. Don’t try to make sense of it, just check the work.

The other solution of course is to order additional flooring, have it installed or address the original leak before it becomes a bigger concern. Of course you might want to reconsider your relationship choices before they become a permanent part of the household “cabinet!”

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June 2016 Column for Michiana House & Home Magazine: The Ninth Caller

phone            Somewhere during my childhood, I became obsessed with my local Top 40 radio station. I spent a lot of time calling DJs to make requests, chat during the wee hours of a slumber party (the fact that they were willing to talk to a group of 11-year-olds at 2 a.m. now strikes me as creepy) and trying to convince them to let me announce the Number One song on the “Hot Nine at 9.” I was also forever trying to win one of their contests. Never mind that I wasn’t 18, that my parents wouldn’t let me go to half of the concerts I was trying to score tickets to, or that with a rotary phone, I was unlikely to ever be the ninth caller, I kept trying.

One contest held me hostage in the house for nearly a week when I heard about it. The premise was simple: Be the ninth caller when the station played a certain four songs in a row. Although I can only remember one song on the list today, I clearly remember carrying a portable radio with me to every room in my house in order to catch this musical event when it occurred.

“Julie, take the radio off the dining room table,” my mother ordered as she brought in the pot roast and mashed potatoes she prepared.

“No problem,” I turned off the portable and flipped on the bigger stereo unit.

My father sighed. “You do realize that they could play these four songs in the middle of the night when you are asleep, don’t you?” He asked.

I hadn’t considered this, but it seemed unlikely. “They won’t,” I told him, silently planning to smuggle the radio into my bedroom at night just in case.

I skipped outings, no longer biked with my friends and turned down a McDonald’s run in order to stay close to home and my precious radio. Finally, as I played with my Barbies in my parents’ basement, I heard the first song…and then the second…this was it!!! They played the first two songs in succession three times to give the listening audience a heads up while I went nuts waiting for each song to be played. At the beginning of the final tune, I raced over to the phone we kept by my father’s desk and began dialing.

It took 30 seconds to make each call and naturally each time I finished, I was met with an unpleasant busy signal. Undeterred I kept trying thinking my persistence might prevail but eventually, I heard the DJ announce the winner’s name over the air.

“It’s not fair,” I told my parents later. “I gave up everything and got nothing out of the deal.”

With my parents unwilling to purchase a push-button phone, my career as a contest winner was limited, but I didn’t care. In an era where there was no participation prize, I had to take my lumps and realize I would lose more than I would win. There was no point in getting “hung up” about it.

Follow Julie on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorJulieYoung

On Twitter: @Julieyoung14

and the Vincentisms: http://www.facebook.com/thevincentisms

 

 

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May Column for Michiana House & Home Magazine: A Space Jam

Mars

Mars

Recently, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when a sponsored Groupon advertisement caught my eye. Evidently, for the low, low price of $15, I can buy an acre of land on Mars. Now, I do not pretend to be an expert on interplanetary Real Estate deals, but I have a few questions about this.

For starters, who exactly owns Mars? It’s not that I don’t trust the oh-so-official-sounding Lunar Embassy, which is located in Nevada of all places, but how did they get to be the official Realtor of the Red Planet? Did the little guy from the Looney Tunes shorts hand over the deed to Mars in order to lay claim to Bugs Bunny’s hole? Was it some kind of a trade deal like that whole Michael Jordan thing in Space Jam? Why is he so keen to get rid of Mars in the first place? What does he know about it that we don’t?

Secondly, how did the head honcho of this Galactic Realty firm decide $15 was a fair price for Martian soil? According to the advertisement, this price represents a 57 percent discount off of the suggested retail price, which by anyone’s definition is an incredible deal, but I remain skeptical. For example, how do we know that an acre of land is the same thing on Mars as it is here? What if it is a different unit of measurement entirely? Has anyone actually seen the comps from other neighboring planets to tell us whether or not Mars actually appraised for this price and has it passed its inspection?
Exactly where are these available acres? Is the entire planet up for grabs or only a specific neighborhood? Will we be given the XY coordinates to our little corner of the universe or is Google Mars already up there taking a more modern image for us to see? I may not be a genius, but I do know location is a key factor when buying a piece of property. Does $15 get me an enviable spot in downtown metropolitan Mars, a sweet spot in suburban Mars or a remote, pre-war, pre-fab, previously uninhabited plot of Outer Mongolia Mars? I think we have a right to know. I also think we should be told what our taxes might be, what kinds of schools we can expect for that money as well as the government’s plan for a steady water supply, but hey, not everyone is as picky as I am.

I know I am probably going to kick myself for not jumping on this ground floor opportunity, but there are just too many unknowns for me to plunk down some cash on my Martian estate just yet. Although my friends tell me to stop analyzing the logistics just do it, I’m content to let other folks cough up their closing costs, invent a way to get there, fight off whatever they find and pave the way for the rest of us.

In the meantime, I am going to do something safe and have a star named after me.

 

 

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MHH Column for June: Pushing My Buttons

best-universal-remote-controls-updated-970x0         Once upon a time, I used to get the biggest kick out of watching my mother try to operate anything more complicated than a can opener. When I was 12-years-old we bought our first VCR, a rudimentary model with a corded remote no bigger than my palm and buttons so clearly labeled that anyone with thumbs could operate them.

Anyone, that is, except my mother.

Unfortunately, the geniuses that designed the thing put the power button below the TV/Video button and if one made the mistake of turning these two things on from the top down rather than the bottom up, it would take all day to get them in sync. I literally laughed so hard I cried watching her rage against the machine that held The Thornbirds hostage.

I’m no longer laughing.

While I used to be able to hook up an electronic device inside of five minutes without looking at an instruction book, today I can barely retrieve my voice mail messages without hurting myself. I can’t help wondering: When did I turn into my mother?

The other night I turned on my television and was asked if I wanted to update my software or see an input list. Uh-huh…see, what I wanted was to watch a movie, not have a conversation with the TV set! I dealt with those issues and then went half crazy trying to get the movie started. Apparently my Blu-Ray player is the same brand as my ancient DVD/VCR combo and my remote control activates both. One wrong move sends the whole thing into chaos that requires three people, two calls to tech support and a battery change to straighten out.

As if that wasn’t enough, smack in the middle of the Beatles 50th Anniversary special in February, a portion of my cable system went out. I called my provider screaming about the musical legacy of Paul and Ringo while she resent signals from Asia in an effort to fix my problem. When nothing worked she suggested I watch the show on one of my HD channels and proceeded to give me a sequence of digits longer than my social security number. Since when do I have HDTV?

I have three remotes within arm’s reach that have 105 buttons between them and I can perform only five functions on them. Three claim to be “menu” buttons however, that operation is never available when I need it. There is an energy saving button that hasn’t spared me an ounce of sanity and four brightly colored buttons complete with an assortment of un-raised dots that strike me as a sick Helen Keller joke. I don’t dare dust them because the last time I did, the government shut down, the President ended the Space Shuttle program and my son missed a critical episode of Doctor Who.

Coincidence? Maybe, but I’m not taking any chances. I suspect that somewhere in the Great Beyond my mother has been put in charge of the Karma button, has mastered it and is getting me back for every time I laughed at her, one piece of equipment at a time.

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