Monday, January 2, 2012

Holy Productivity, Batman!

It was bad good enough that I got the Christmas stuff down yesterday, but today I we just went nuts.

This afternoon, Shrike and her dad took Peeper to a model train show, and while they were gone, I decided to eliminate two of the most annoying things in our home.

(No, not them. They can stay.)

Several years ago, someone - I think it was probably my sister - told me about an article she'd read that said when everything in your house is bugging you and there are a million things you want to fix or change, but there's no way you can do them all, that you should pick the one that annoys you the most or the most frequently, and fix it, because that will have the biggest impact on your day-to-day life.

The author's example was that she had very poor lighting in her master bedroom, and it basically pissed her off every time she went in there. They installed a new ceiling light, and all was well with the world. Or, at least she wasn't annoyed quite so often.

So, I've been thinking about what pisses me off most often about our house, and today, I addressed not one, but two of the worst offenders.

Annoying Thing One
Back when PerfectPup was an only dog, and the cats were a bit younger and sprier, we kept her out of the laundry room (and cat food, and litter box) by just sticking a big box in front of the door, like so.

Even if we left it open enough for us (and the kitties) to walk through, she stayed out. All she required was a visual barrier, no matter how dog permeable it actually was.

Galoot, not so much, so after he came along, we needed a more solid barrier. We took a piece of plywood that we had lying around, cut a cat-size (or almost cat-size, in the case of GirlCat, bless her little kitty soul) hole in it, and propped it across the doorway, with one end tucked behind the fridge for "stability."

This has been a pretty good system for keeping both pups and Peep out of the kitty things, but the problem is that it does its damnedest to keep us out too.

As you can see here, it's just a few inches higher than is comfortable or for me unawkward to step over. I cannot count the number of times I've stubbed my toes, scraped my feet, and busted my ass (or, more accurately, knees) trying to get over it.

I don't know how Shrike has survived it, given that her legs are several inches shorter than mine. Perhaps she's just that much more graceful.

Every time I go into the laundry room - which is more often than you might think, because in additional to the laundry facilities and kitty setup, we also have our "annex" pantry back there, and we actually tend to use it more than the cabinets in the kitchen - I cuss that damn thing.

With the holiday baking I've been doing recently, I've also had to go in and out over that damn board carrying trays of cookies and other treats, and I can't believe I never dumped any in the floor. (I swear I didn't.)

For years, I've been fantasizing about making it lower, I mean look at it, there's even a nice neat "cut here" line already on it!

Today, I finally got off my ass, got out the circular saw and did it!

Much, much, much better!

Annoying Thing Two
This one was made even more annoying by the fact that I thought I had it fixed a few weeks ago, but it only lasted for a few minutes.

When I was pregnant with Peeper, we bought a ceiling fan and light for her room. It wasn't installed until she was several months old, because Shrike's dad wasn't comfortable doing it himself, so we waited until we had a handyman here working on other things, and had him do it.

Because we don't have - and often wish we did have - a remote for the fan/light in our bedroom, we made sure to get one with the remote for Peeper's room. We also got one with a dimmer switch on the light, so that we could use it as a nightlight as well. What a huge mistake, all around.

Once we got the damn thing installed, we filled it up with compact fluorescent bulbs, like the good tree-hugging lesbians that we aspire to be, and went on with our business.

Very quickly, we started having trouble with the lights - they would dim and brighten on their own, and we could never get them to full brightness. I couldn't see a damn thing in that room, and it pissed me off every time I went in there. We thought that there was a short of some sort, so we had the handyman look at it again, and he told us that you can't use CFLs with a dimmer, so we switched to regular bulbs, and that problem was fixed.

Before long, though, the second big problem arose, when the remote stopped working. This might not seem like a big deal, but there are no pull-strings on this fan, the only way to control it is either using the remote, or using the wall switch to turn the whole thing on and off.

That wall switch think would have worked okay, except that when the remote pooped out, the fan was on high, which means we now had two choices: dark and warm, or bright and freezing.

We tried putting new batteries in the remote and it still didn't work. We've been like this for, oh something over a year, at least, I know, because we went through last winter with the fan blowing in there any time the lights were on.

When we were moving Peeper's furniture around a few weeks ago, I came across the package of tiny batteries, and tried putting one in the remote. As soon as it was in, a little light came on, so I knew it was powered up, but it still didn't work. I saw some dip switches, and read in the manual that they have to match the ones in the receiver - which is now hidden in the ceiling. So, I tried all the options and hit on one that worked!

I turned off the fan, and we started using the remote again.

For about a day, until it stopped working again.

I tried the battery again, and changing the dip switches and everything, with no luck. I've tried it a few times in the interim, and still no luck.

Today, I was feeling so cocky after trimming down that board, that I thought I'd give it a try. Popped in the other battery, and on came the remote light! I grabbed a pin and started flipping switches, and on about the seventh one, the ceiling light went off when I hit the button! And back on! And off again!

And then - glory of glories - I hit the "O" button for the fan, and it stopped!

I'm considering taking the battery out and throwing it away, so we can't accidentally get the fan stuck in the "on" position again. I am more than happy to just use the wall switch to turn the light on and off, and consider it nothing but a really funny shaped light fixture.

When Shrike came home,  I told her that "I accomplished two things while you were gone, but I'm not telling you what they are, you have to figure them out."

I practically had to draw her a picture, telling her that one was in Peeper's room, and then trying at least three different ways to lure her out into the laundry room, in hopes that she'd notice the board.

Our other huge accomplishment for the day is that I (sort of) cleaned off my desk (the main surface only, don't look in or on top of the hutch) and we did the big computer switcheroo:

My computer out of my desk
My new (thank you, Anonydaddy!) computer into my desk

(It was cleaner than that for a while. The big pile of stuff on the left side is from this whole computer installation thing. It's still there.)

Shrike's computer out of her desk
Shrike's desk moved across the room
My old computer into Shrike's old desk, and Peeper-friendly keyboard and mouse installed

Order and eat pizza
To Staples for a network cable for Peeper and a new (moisture-proof) computer chair for Shrike
Shrike's new desk moved from garage, through house, and into office
Shrike's computer reinstalled in new desk
Pee-pee chair to Peeper's new desk
Assemble Shrike's new chair

Of course, where am I right now? On Shrike's computer, because I'm in the middle of transferring files from my old one to my new one, and it says not to use either one while that's happening.

That could take a while, but when it finishes, I'll be able to process and upload the photos of all this badassery.

{Edited to add: Nope, it will take like twelve hours. I'm saving that for while we're in Texas. In the meantime, I'm processing images on my old computer and getting annoyed because the kiddie keyboard is weird.}

Then I'll still have plenty of work ahead of me, installing software to the new one, and uninstalling a bunch of software and deleting a bunch of data files from the old one, then installing some more kid-friendly software for Peeper.

It will be a while before everything is the way we want it, but the heavy lifting is done and there were no major fights involved and only a couple of minor injuries. For now my old computer is behaving well enough to play Sesame Street videos, my new computer is zipping along at the speed of light, Shrike's getting moved into her new desk and seems to be happy with it and Peeper is beside herself over having her own computer.

Now, tell me how we're going to deal with the next Most Annoying Thing Ever: The crib frame and dresser that are still in our bedroom, because that's as far as we made it, when moving them out of Peeper's room.


  1. You are so organized! I aspire to be organized, but I seem to lack motivation. Down in my basement is a rather large pile of stuff from when I used to teach full-time. I don't really need that crap anymore and this week is throw-away-anything week so I should be filling a garbage bag and getting it to the curb. So far I've tossed the bag down the stairs, now I need to go down after it and start filling it. I find that once I start going through stuff, I start thinking I might need some of it sometime and then I start making keep and toss piles. I need to just get rid of all of it. Wish me luck.

  2. So I know you wrote an additional post in response to the above comment (which was not from me btw), but your organisation has inspired me, and however much you think you're not organised - I thank you ;). And I unashamedly copied your post title, you can read about it here if you so desire:


What say you?