Monday, December 15, 2014

Work in progress

Leila stripped off one layer of wallpaper only to uncover four more to go. I watched a number of YouTube videos that argues that hot water and a scraper would work as well as a steamer without all the mess. 
I went to Quick's Hardware and Mr Quick was skeptical. He told me that I would need the steamer and that he would see me at 8 AM to pick it up. He was so right. Again. He is the owner of the hardware store in Huxley,  It is a small hardware store, but with just about everything you could need.  Mr Quick takes great pride in his customer service and really isn't comfortable with people wandering through the aisles looking for stuff.  He knows where it is and is eager to tell you what to do.  I tried to by an oil primer once.  He was insistent that I really wanted the latex primer, but I was firm that I did not.  He had oil primer, but refused to sell it to me.  He told me I was welcome to buy it at Lowes, but he was not going to sell me a product I would regret using later.  I don't regret the oil primer, but I have learned that I can get a lot of great advice, fast service, and sometimes a discount if I go directly to him when I go into the store and tell him what I am trying to do.  

Such an improvement. The wallpaper came right off and it was less mess than hot water. That Mr. Quick was right again.
While my mom was here over Thanksgiving we were have having problems with the kitchen sink backing up, the toilet clogging, and then leaking at the base. The original plumbing looked like something at a waterpark with tight turns and dips.  I thought maybe it was plugged somewhere so took it apart.  Looking again on youtube I decided that maybe the problem was that the sink is not connected to the sewer vent.  Why it would stop working now after 20 years of no venting, I can't explain.  I showed this picture to Mr Quick and he found me all of the new pipes I would need, cut them approximately to size and showed me how to put it together on the counter along with advice on how to assemble it dry, mark it, cut to size and then glue together.  
 Here is the finished sink pipes, remarkable similar to his demonstration.
 This is harder to see, but the black cap on the PVC pipe is the vent that really did help the sink drain better.
For once, feeling like home repair is not impossible.  We also tackled the toilet problems.  Our downstairs toilet gets most of our use and has been clogging a lot recently.  I mean a lot.  Then it started to leak.  I tried to replace the gasket underneath with Emily late one night, but after a big clog, it started to leak again.  On Thanksgiving.  When my mom was here.  And friends from church.  So we went to talk to Mr Quick.  He had a new toilet in stock that he assured me would not have the problem.  He also had a reinforced toilet wax seal that was easier to install and wouldn't smoosh off or fall out of place for only two dollars more.  That Mr Quick was so right again.  
Now, I just need to finish the walls we stripped, redo the bathroom upstairs, take off the garage gutters and fix the wood in the corners, replace that last piece of siding, and then start the kitchen remodel.  Ugg.  Maybe I will go ask Mr. Quick about that. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

How transparent is the GMO regulatory approval process?

I posted this to Facebook today, but wanted to post it here as well. 

A student of a friend of mine recently asked me about the regulatory process around GMO's. She wanted to write about how the process should be more transparent. As part of my response I was excited to find that all of the regulatory documents and decisions have been compiled in a searchable database:
If you are interested in reading thousands of pages of regulatory approvals and environmental impact statements, they are actually available.
Too often this kind of thing feels like something from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This is from his exchange with demolition crew boss come to demolish his house to make way for a bypass.
“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
GM Approval Database (GMO Database): ISAAA presents an easy to use database of Biotech/GM crop...