Metatalktail Hour: Victory! October 20, 2018 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, MonkeyToes wants to hear your stories of "victory over inanimate objects/frustrating situations," apropos of this post and this one!

As always, this is a conversation starter, not a conversation limiter, and we'd love to hear everything that's up with you! (Except politics.) And if you have suggestions for future topics, hit me up!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 5:48 PM (88 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I had a friend that was in a financial pickle, and in lieu of repayment of a small loan, and due to the fact he's currently unemployed, I asked him to do some yard work for me to work the debt off. I love the barter system as much as the next person. He's turned the jungle that used to dominate my front and back yards into something that once all done in the spring, will make it so I really don't have to do anything but remulch every couple of years. So that's a victory with a huge assist of a friend.
posted by deezil at 6:04 PM on October 20, 2018 [15 favorites]


This week I was victorious over math. I don't have a strong enough math background for my computer science class, but I am determined to pass the class. We had a super mathy homework assignment due last week, and I literally sat down with a textbook and taught myself how to write a summation and how to do proof by induction and all this stuff that I probably should have learned in high school but definitely don't remember if I did. And today I got my homework back, and I got a 92%. Take that, math! I can prevail over you if I put my mind to it! I seriously got very pissed off at math, and I decided that I wasn't going to let it defeat me. Math is an asshole, and I am not letting it get the best of me.

I probably need to develop a better attitude towards math, but this seems to be working for me right now.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:17 PM on October 20, 2018 [38 favorites]


How about a tale of defeat at the hands of animate objects/frustrating situations? Today I planted 50 tulip bulbs and my Very Bad Dog kept nabbing them and doing gleeful laps around the yard while holding them in his mouth and ignoring my entreaties to "give" (a cue that he knows very well and complies with except when he's just rotten to the core).

Also my dishwasher is making an ominous grinding noise and the repair person can't come until Wednesday and I know I'm a giant baby but doing all these dishes by hand is bringing me down, man. I'm the kind of cook who burns through dishes and it's hard to change your ways overnight.

Also I need a crown and although I do have dental insurance for the first time in my entire life, it won't cover it until March.

I'm sure I've been victorious over something, I just can't remember what.
posted by HotToddy at 6:33 PM on October 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


I’m not victorious over viruses lately. I just caught my 3rd cold in 4 months. That, along with some other stuff, is really taking a toll. It’s hard to be motivated for the future when the present sucks.
posted by greermahoney at 6:36 PM on October 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


I started knitting a skirt years ago -- maybe 7 or 8 years now -- and as is my wont, I often abandoned it for years at a time. The other night, I finally finished it! Today was washing and drying. It's probably too short and possibly too loose at the waist, but these things are fixable, and mostly I'm very happy to have cleared a project out of my backlog.
posted by kalimac at 6:42 PM on October 20, 2018 [12 favorites]


Greermahoney, I just had two weird brief colds in the space of two weeks, so I feel your pain. ("No, I can't miss another lecture, you'll just have to leave.")

I was victorious over a research project that first popped into my head sixteen years ago, as I actually managed to finish the article and get it accepted! It's appearing next year, even.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:51 PM on October 20, 2018 [10 favorites]


Uggggghhhh. I have to go for a colonoscopy tomorrow (one of the joys of having colitis is regularly getting snaked). I'm in the fasting portion now - "clear liquids" only. I love eating so much, I find this part immeasurably depressing. It's basically nothing but sports drinks for the next 24+ hours. I just hope they're not running late like last time. By time they got around to me I'd been nil by mouth for so long my blood was like taffy and the nurse took three tries to get a canula in.

On the bright side, I finally got back to my old mileage and did a 20km run yesterday. My legs and feet are feeling good. It's been a long journey to get back to this point, so I'm really pleased.

I think I'll go lie down now, the thought of another neon sports drink is depressing!
posted by smoke at 7:00 PM on October 20, 2018 [17 favorites]


I recently repaired a piano bench with a broken hinge. It had been a thorn in our side ever since we got the matching piano at an estate sale two years ago, and the replacement hinges we finally found on Amazon were 1/4” off in size, so fixing it required drilling 12 new pilot holes. But it’s done now.

This week we will (I hope) be victorious over a much more formidable adversary: our boiler, which is older than me, is being replaced. We hired someone to fight this battle for us, though.
posted by eirias at 7:14 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I just spent the better part of 2 hours trying to get the string that holds up my sweatpants to reappear in its hole after I washed them and forgot to tie them together before I did the laundry.

Prior to that, the last victory I had was over my truck. I had to replace the turn signal stalk on the steering column. I got the part, I watched a YouTube video about 15 times and then started what appeared to be a 20 minute job based on the video. Took me 3.5 hours to get the final screw back in place.

Previously, my biggest victory was replacing the screen on my kid's Blackberry back when Blackberries were a thing. Took me hours and there are a lot of very little screws involved. The moment when I fired that sucker back up and it lit up was magical. Even more so with my kid watching me the entire time. I think I reached max Poppa at that point.
posted by AugustWest at 7:24 PM on October 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


While I was out yesterday, my dog found a bag of treats that got left too low to the ground. I got home and opened the door to find him on the carpet gloating over his treasure. He gave me an OH SHIT look, growled, and ran under the sofa with the bag.

I knew from experience that he would not be reasoned with, so I tried to lure him out with treats. Unfortunately he already had the best ones. He came out for a bit of cheddar cheese, but before taking the cheese he realized it was a trap and ran back to safety.

Just to annoy him, I found a 6 foot long whistle I had made out of PVC tubing and stuck it under the sofa and tooted at him. I don't know if it was the tooty toots that drove him out or my cheddary breath blowing through the whistle that lured him, but he surrendered and came out.

After a walk, I locked him in the bedroom and retrieved the bag of treats. He had never opened it!
posted by moonmilk at 7:27 PM on October 20, 2018 [35 favorites]


I went to the indoor bike park with my son today. Normally I don't ride, I just watch him (I bike commute a short distance but I am not A Cyclist and my bike is just a standard old Trek hybrid that's seen better days), but today I did because he was ready to try a new course and I wanted to ride it with him the first few times to make sure he could handle it.

It was fun! It was my first time in literal decades actually doing anything on a bike other than riding on the street in a more or less straight line. I started feeling somewhat capable of going over humps and around bank turns...

...and then I got too big for my britches in the mountain bike technical room and wiped the fuck out big time. I am now nursing a rather large bruise-slash-roadrash on my thigh.

Kid did great though, which is also an accomplishment because he's very cautious and happy to do the bare minimum rather than learn and perfect new skills and I had to work my powers of scaffolding, persuasion and conditioning to the max to get him comfortable with the skills he needed to move up to the next course. Before he was born, my hobby was dog training, and my main dog was a coonhound [pause for laughter]. Getting an obedience title onto that dog took basically the same skill set. It's my super power, apparently.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:28 PM on October 20, 2018 [9 favorites]


Four or five years ago we put a dog bed through the washer and dryer an it blocked a vent or something in the dryer and anyway the dryer was busted.

And I diagnosed a possible cause, which is that it had burned out a dingus inside it because the vent was blocked!

And the people selling new dinguses, which were not expensive, had videos showing how to replace that dingus!

So I ordered that part and opened the dryer up and started replacing the dingus. During this process, biscotti came out into the garage and we had four hands and two heads (one of which was working betterer than mine) and together

WE FIXED A GAS DRYER AND DID NOT DIE AT ALL AND WERE NOT EVEN INJURED AND NOTHING EXPLODED!!
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:16 PM on October 20, 2018 [35 favorites]


For some reason, I was remarkably persistent when learning to make vegan yogurt. I had six complete failures using various methods of keeping it warm before finally caving and buying a yogurt maker. This worked because the yogurt maker's instruction manual included the crucial detail that you need to add sugar for the bacteria to eat if using unsweetened soy milk, which my otherwise reliable vegan cheese cookbook failed to mention. Anyways, now I make yogurt all the time and it's way cheaper than buying vegan yogurt. Just recently I started making this olive oil and maple granola to eat with my yogurt and it's delicious.
posted by carolr at 8:35 PM on October 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


I finally vanquished mReader. It is a very popular online platform for motivating language learners to do more Extensive Reading and gives teachers some statistics which may or may not help them assess students (if you even want to assess them for ER, but that's a whole nuther question). They read a book, take a very brief quiz to "prove" they read it, and then the total words read are added to their running total. Simple.

It is free, so you get what you pay for. But it is free as in cost not free as in truly open. The guy who created and maintains it is really nice and helpful. I know him personally and he does this out of the goodness of his heart. It started off as a third party module for Moodle but was too buggy for Moodle so now it is separate. Too buggy for Moodle. But used very widely. An adjunct in our program uses it at another university with absolutely zero issues. I know dozens of teachers who have used it for years, so I thought it would be easy.

We could never get it to work consistently. Since May.

I set up so many test accounts. I nuked the whole thing and started over. We both contacted the developer. I tried it with small groups of students and one-on-one. The adjunct started enrolling our students in her classes at the other university and .... the same seemingly random problems with students getting locked in a loop of errors that wouldn't let them progress. But the error messages were pretty opaque.

I finally figured it out as I sat with a couple browsers open for admin, teacher, and student views. And, another machine open on my cell phone hotspot network just in case it was our crappy university network and proxy server again.

The site was really slow to load so instead of images I could see the alternate text really clearly. That was the hint. Basically, the system will let students click on a quiz thus starting it, but if they do not finish it they get trapped. They can't progress to another quiz until they finish the first one, even if as a teacher I click the unlock all quizzes button on my control panel, and if they are on the available quiz page they cannot restart the quiz. The only way to find the old partial quiz is some tiny purple text on their profile page which is somewhere else and they have no reason to look at that page because they have no books finished! And the error message that does appear tells them to try another quiz even though that same page also tells them they can't!

Why did that happen to our students (sometimes and seemingly randomly) but not the others you ask? At the other university the students don't have computers so the teacher introduces the system and then they go home and get logged in etc. after they read a book. I thought it would be a good idea to get all the students accounts set up at school where I could help them and then they could get started. Our students all have their own laptops--it's BYOD. And, I've basically trained them not to be afraid and explore stuff, so as soon as they got an account half of them started wandering around the site to see how it all worked and inadvertently got themselves trapped in a loop.

I found the tiny purple text on a different page. Showed it to the students. Voila! Done.

tl;dr bad design made one part of my job suck for six months, but crap network let me see the light.
posted by Gotanda at 9:22 PM on October 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


A fair number of my relevant victories are just pure luck after bad judgment calls. Usually carrying something upstairs that is not meant to be carried by one person. Why yes, I did load a 2x4 Expedit into a Honda Fit and then move it up a flight of stairs all by myself. Yes, I did manage to turn my very heavy memory foam mattress into a taco with some carrying straps and lug it up a flight of stairs all by myself.

A few years ago I fixed my fridge when water was leaking from the freezer to the fridge. I used the internet to diagnose, and then I defrosted stuff and unscrewed some things and at some point used a hairdryer, and some rather pieces of ice were removed from the walls and floor of the freezer compartment. And then everything worked great again!

One of my best skills is packing carry-on only for a scuba trip, while still bringing all my own gear, at least for the tropics. (No wetsuit taking up space; I'm self-insulated.) Major sense of accomplishment from that every time.
posted by ktkt at 9:35 PM on October 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Oh man, is this topic ever timely.

A while back I got pretty pissed off (even more than usual) about my career in health care and after getting written up for the umpteenth time for cursing out the clueless senior leadership at my safety net non profit financially starved organization, I decided to go back to school and get a masters degree in health care admin. Anyone can do a better job than these idiots and a few months later here I am in my first quarter of school.

The problem is, I’m really big on SMASH THE SYSTEM! but I’m not all that interested in, like, actual management skills. In particular, I’m getting my ass thoroughly kicked by Statistics and Analytic Data Management. I’d never used Excel in my life, never taken statistics and always completely tune out to that part of the lecture where they talk about the data analysis. Everyone else in the program has been using Excel forever and I failed to notice that “moderate” familiarity with statistics software was a prerequisite for the program. There are a couple of actual statisticians in my program. I’ve been totally flailing and hopelessly lost and we have a big test that’s due tomorrow and a group project due on Tuesday.

So a week ago, I was like, ok Slarty, you need to start at the beginning. Watched YouTube videos on “what is Excel?” and “How to make a spread sheet.” I’ve been ignoring sleep and food and powering through. I submitted my test answers last night and got back a perfectly respectable score of 90%.

So the project is taking a ginormous raw data set of millions of measurements from 2007 from a giant health maintenance organization and “apply the statistical tests you’ve learned” to try and draw some conclusions. (I know, it’s almost more adrenaline fueled excitement than you can bear.) We were warned not to worry, this particular data set had been used for ten years and there’s really nothing interesting in it. Health Corporation, Inc. “is very good at standardization and you won’t find any variation in any service delivered. It’s just about the exercise of applying statistical tests to real world data.”

So as the only doctor on the team, I steered the team toward asking a medical question that I thought might be interesting and I don’t understand any of this shit anyway. I’ll just write a nice medical intro with footnotes because that’s something I know I can do well.

Anyway, here I am on a Saturday night, and I kind of actually understand this shit a little and I’m doing calculations and statistical tests on Big Health Corporation’s data and it turns out my question totally found a statistically significant variance based on region that totally has financial implications!

Yeah, dude. I still know how to fucking party on a Saturday night.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:38 PM on October 20, 2018 [102 favorites]


This is so minor, and I'm mostly not at ALL victorious over the frustrating and difficult things in my life right now (including but not limited to managing my emotional health, organizing my garage, probably-unrequited love, divorce bureaucracy, and vacuuming the spider webs out of my house's horrible popcorn ceiling). But I have a gigantic maple tree in my front yard that's dumping shocking quantities of gorgeous golden leaves everywhere. Today I got out my rake and wrestled them into piles, some of which will be saved for the kid to jump into and some of which are being used to put a deep layer of very pretty mulch on my garden beds. Some yardwork is done, when the rain starts my driveway won't be slippery and the street drains won't be clogged because of me, and I had a little conversation with a neighbor I hadn't met who was trying to deal with the leaves from his identical giant maple. Victory.
posted by centrifugal at 9:55 PM on October 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


Oh yeah, and once in young adulthood I saved the day by opening a bottle of wine with a Phillips head screwdriver and a fork, which I'm still proud of lots of years later.
posted by centrifugal at 10:11 PM on October 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


I completed my first ever tax return where I actually had to declare independent income. I was putting it off because I had to fix some things with Centrelink (welfare here in Australia) where I'd accidentally underreported my income; but I did it and I am no longer worried about getting scary letters about fraud.
posted by solarion at 10:36 PM on October 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


So far this month has mostly been a diverse variety of failures and similar frustrations...mostly trivial in the grand scheme of things, but man, enough already.
Friday night, though, we went down to Wakayama and stayed in an inn with a gorgeous view of Wakaura Bay and dramatically swooping birds that turned out to be kites (?) (the bird kind); then Saturday we drove around and ate fresh fish and Wakayama ramen and saw Wakayama Castle, which was lovely, if really seriously high up. Many many stairs. Then we went to a Mr. Children concert; my husband has loved this band for twenty years and asked me apologetically if I honestly wouldn't mind coming with him, even though he knows it's not really my kind of music. Well, he comes to my orchestra concerts, it's the least I can do. And it was fun. (Not counting a moment when we thought they wouldn't let me in because my name was in Japanese phonetics on the ticket and in alphabet on my ID...my library card, which happened to have both, saved the day.) It's good music of its kind, and the band seem like good people. Audience average age in the 30s, not counting a bunch of small children, everyone happy and relaxed. Spectacular light and image production. A good experience. We drove home again afterward, stopping for dinner, and collapsed into bed after a nightcap of Wakayama plum liqueur. So I'm counting that one as a win.
posted by huimangm at 1:04 AM on October 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


I knew nothing about taking care of bicycles and had no intention of learning, but we ride bikes to work every day and I felt pretty silly asking others for help (I actually paid a bike shop guy to change my tire when I was in too much of a hurry to mess about with it myself) or spending ages getting it wrong before finally getting it right.

So I have surrendered and forced myself to do everything until I can do it relatively correctly and quickly. I can now change tires and inner tubes, find broken glass and nails stuck in tires, adjust brakes and gears (rather haphazardly, but still), and fix the odd broken light and so on. I still don't like bike maintenance at all -- it's not a hobby -- but I can do it while grumbling about it.

Meanwhile, I'm coming to grips with Git, GitHub, GitHub Desktop, Bitbucket, etc. A similar situation. I don't want to learn how to maintain repositories and manage branches and so on, but I hate depending on others for help.
posted by pracowity at 2:21 AM on October 21, 2018 [8 favorites]


I am also making some progress with Git, GitHub, and GitHub Desktop, although I’m not doing anything very fancy yet. The tutorial I did previously insisted that you do everything from the command line, which I guess is good for understanding what you’re doing, but Desktop is a lot easier.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:36 AM on October 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


The most exciting victory in my life at the moment is slightly vicarious - my sister has triumphed over ~60 years of my mother not wanting a dog and they're getting a puppy next month! And fortunately even my mother is very excited They went to visit the puppy yesterday and kindly sent pics: pile o' puppies; beautiful mother dog; their little guy is the one on the left here I believe. Sadly they live 300 miles away so my life won't be all puppy all the time, but I generally see them 3-4 times a year and I'm very excited to drive down in November to meet my tiny adorable grey nephew.

If anyone has tips on how to get a dog that you only see intermittently to really, really like you, please send them my way (my current plan is "coat entire arm in peanut butter; see what happens").

My all-time greatest victory over an inanimate object was back in 2014. I think I may have told it here somewhere already but heck, it was great, I'm telling it again. My dad had just died and it turned out that all of the family photo albums from when my sister and I were growing up were locked in a filing cabinet in the garage and none of the surviving family members had any idea where the key was.

Using only a hairgrip, a small flathead screwdriver, and literally the technique from the lockpicking mini-game in Skyrim, I managed to get it open. I used the grip to push up the pins inside the lock and the screwdriver for torsion to crack it open - EXACTLY like in the Skyrim mini-game except with household tools instead of a lockpick I stole from a ghost or whatever - and it WORKED.

And of course no one else saw it; they'd all stepped out of the garage for a moment. The most MacGyver experience of my life and I was the only one there to witness it.
posted by terretu at 2:44 AM on October 21, 2018 [27 favorites]


This week I managed to get a $350 medical bill (fancy liver test, out of network lab) down to like $44. I am so thrilled! I thought I would have to pay the whole thing out of pocket. I did it via calling and following the bureaucratic instructions perfectly (sending in my EOB, etc). Win!

Also several months ago I discovered this really neat new kind of yarn that comes in loops and is very soft, and I have mastered several stitches with it. You just pull the loops through each other with your fingers, and it's microfiber floof which feels very nice to work with. I made a few lap blankets and a round pillow. Planning to make two more round pillows for my nieces who recently went off to college. Anyway I am pretty amazed that I have done so well with it. I am not a sophisticated yarn-crafts person at all. But I stuck with it and even got the hang of the lattice pattern, after trying about five times and watching videos over and over again.
posted by cats are weird at 3:24 AM on October 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


I scribbled on this side of the shoe and then this seemed to be the natural progression for the other side.

Now I just have to kind of duplicate it on the other shoe.
posted by h00py at 3:42 AM on October 21, 2018 [9 favorites]


Yeah, dude. I still know how to fucking party on a Saturday night.

Slarty, I’m a biostatistician and my husband works for $LargeEMRCompany. Sounds like our kind of Saturday night. :)
posted by eirias at 3:57 AM on October 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


Because celebrating small victories is important too, I just changed my sheets without finishing in pain! Due to back problems which are subsiding and fibromyalgia which is not, changing my sheets has been so difficult over the last year that I dread it every time, not today!
posted by ellieBOA at 4:46 AM on October 21, 2018 [12 favorites]


I take a lot of pride in my little Feats of Female Strength. Recently my 110 lb PITA daughter and I lifted up a clothes dryer to stack it on top of the washing machine. Not long prior to that we wrestled a full sized sleeper sofa into the house including the Taking The Door Off the Hinges Phase and snaking it through a U-shaped circuit of the entire first floor because the only door it would fit through was the farthest point from where it was destined to arrive. I've got a riding mower with a mower deck that weighs 170 lbs and I managed to load it into the back of my Prius. Probably my craziest feat of strength, though, was moving a full-sized dumpster-doven non-sleeper sofa up to a 3rd floor apartment by myself.
posted by drlith at 4:59 AM on October 21, 2018 [8 favorites]


I am celebrating getting my laundry washed.

Now I need to pack for a conference trip to Europe, during which ONE day seems like it will be cold enough for me to want a coat. Suck it up and layer, or suck it up and carry a coat? (I’m leaning toward layer, velvet blazer, uniqlo vest, two other top layers, tights and pants.)

I also need to find 70£ that I tucked away upon my return home in June. Where did I hide them? The plan there is to start at my bedroom door and search everything until I find them, Marie Kondoing everything I find in the process. I suspect the speed of the process will be either terrifying or refreshing.
posted by bilabial at 5:47 AM on October 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


I ran out of fucks in March, and recently I hung a bamboo shade with zip ties. There were perfectly good hooks already in place but an inch or so off. We rent, and I didn't feel like moving them. The zip ties match the paint, the shade works, and tra la la. Zip ties.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 7:14 AM on October 21, 2018 [21 favorites]


There was some incredibly juvenile behaviour going on at work last week, which spilled over into this week. This ended up being very disruptive for many parties, and due to continuing childishness, looked like it was going to continue.

Luckily, though I'm not a manager, I have management experience. Experience managing much more juvenile 30/40/50something kids than these muppets.

One terse email later, all was well.

----

I'm in training for a half-marathon, which is happening next month. I would have tried for a full marathon, but things being busy, and the summer here not being conducive to lots of training, I thought half was the way to go. After session after session of running between 6.30 and 7:00 pace, suddenly today I catch myself running at 5:00 pace for 2 whole kilometres! I don't get it, but I'm going to put it down to lots of rest and the home-made pizza I had for lunch.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 7:29 AM on October 21, 2018 [6 favorites]


My niece passed away on Wednesday. My victory has been getting through each day since then. The funeral is the 28th and we still don't know if her ex-husband is going to bring her boys back for it. He took them from my brother and his wife the day after Sarah died. My victory after the funeral will be me not driving down to Nashville to kick his ass if he doesn't bring the boys back home.
posted by cooker girl at 7:32 AM on October 21, 2018 [14 favorites]


I started an instagram account for my workplace in December of 2013 and as of yesterday, with no silly marketing techniques or spammy posts, and essentially all content I've generated myself, it has reached 10,000 followers.

I learned to drive three years ago and it still terrifies me but last week I drove a dump truck and it wasn't too bad.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:57 AM on October 21, 2018 [10 favorites]


cooker girl, I’m sorry for your loss, and for the added stress that your family’s circumstances add to the mix. Best wishes to your great-nephews.
posted by eirias at 7:59 AM on October 21, 2018 [9 favorites]


We've got 40 year old tile that was indifferently installed and poorly maintained... so it's been an ongoing project to replace grout that's either fallen apart or developed mildew. Did a round of that yesterday, having had the realization that dental picks are good tools for ripping out little sections very selectively.

The correct answer to this bathroom is "rip everything out to the studs and dump 10k into redoing it", but that's not happening while we're living here, because only one bathroom.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 8:21 AM on October 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Victory over balky hardware and software is like 90% of my job description, but I do recall one outside-of-work immensely satisfying victory...

I once owned a '71 VW Westphalia bus that had seen better days, but my friend had literally given me the title for having it towed out of his side yard. He had blown the engine a few years before (this dude was really hard on cars somehow; I can't tell you how many he went through in the years I knew him). In the intervening years it had been used variously for storage and a teenager's bedroom; the upholstery was shot, the flooring was rusted out, the pop-top canvas had completely rotted away, and all 4 tires needed replacing. I had a local hippy-run VW repair shop rebuild the engine and replace the tires - my friend worked there and saved me some money by giving me his employee discount on the parts. After that I de-rusted the flooring and slapped a substantial piece of fitted heavy-duty plywood over it (cheaper than cutting the rusted section out and replacing it), and re-upholstered the seats. That bus was my main transportation for a few years...until a main crank bearing seized. I decided to try to rebuild the engine myself, not least because I was fairly poor at the time and couldn't afford to have someone else do it or buy a fully-built replacement engine.

I bought any parts I wasn't able to salvage and a few specific tools I'd need, along with the Haynes and Bentley shop manuals to complement my trusty "Idiot's Guide", which gave me multiple explanations/illustrations for each step - a smart move on my part, as I found out. I also sprang for an external oil cooler and performance exhaust system. With those three manuals spread out before me on the bench, I went to work breaking down, cleaning, and re-assembling the whole thing. It took many hours, especially since I was learning as I went so everything was done at a slow and cautious pace. But by golly once I got done that engine ran better (and cooler) than it had ever done before! Victory!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:22 AM on October 21, 2018 [10 favorites]


We had a "reported man with a gun" who "escaped the police through the subway tunnels" that was actually a guy with an airsoft gun who then got ON the T which resulted in a shelter-in-place alert for my campus right around the time I was going to leave to get lunch across the street from where they were exhaustively searching the Barnes and Noble bookstore for this elusive person.

When they finally lifted the shelter in place, I bumped into a reporter for the daily news release on campus who chatted with me for a few minutes, and the upshot is that I have an interview on Thursday with a different reporter to talk about my research and a workshop I'm organizing for women who do fieldwork to talk about ways they navigate harassment and assault in an inter-cultural field context!
posted by ChuraChura at 11:10 AM on October 21, 2018 [27 favorites]


This is very small but made me happy.

On my iPhone, I had this problem where when I searched for apps, a number of them would not show up, forcing me to try and remember in what folder I had placed what app.

Then, I got the idea to compare settings on my iPad, which didn't have the problem, with the settings on my iPhone and I fixed it.

I'm normally the guy who my family talks to for technology issues, so this problem was both annoying and embarrassing. Now I feel like I won the lottery.
posted by 4ster at 11:44 AM on October 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


Timely! Me and Mr. lemon_icing have learned much about our first home purchase : what works for us and what to avoid in the next house. Due to air currents from the heat pump (air con), open plan + enthusiastic home cook + unanticipated smoke travelling means the fire department showed up when I was frying chicken. The house alarm is so loud that neither of us heard the alarm company ringing both our phones and the house line. I had to run down a loooong driveway (our house is set quite back, wrapped in a curve of a hill which protects us from most southerlies) and stop young men from flinging themselves into gear.

I can’t put up walls and enclose the kitchen. So I bought a pair of noren curtains that match our decor, and mounted them on a tension rod on the side which leads to the smoke alarm. Luckily that opening is near a lucky bit of timber on the ceiling.

So last night, we put on our ear plugs, I lit the fish burner on high, and fired up skirt steaks. I cannot believe that two mostly porous pieces of fabric did the job. We jumped in the kitchen (“smells like steak!”), then jumped into dining room, hall, and under the smoke alarm (“does NOT smell like steak”). That game did not lose its shine for a while.

I feel so McGuyver.
posted by lemon_icing at 12:00 PM on October 21, 2018 [9 favorites]


I triumphed over this elaborate chocolate-coconut cake recipe for my sister's birthday. But just now I boiled a saucepan dry while preparing to soak black beans. Yikes!
posted by suelac at 12:56 PM on October 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


I fixed my synthesizer! Mainly it needed to be cleaned out and seems to not like running with the case closed due to heat build up, so I'm debating putting a fan into it some how. It's a weird hybrid digital/analog synth that's basically a giant (non-virtual) hardware VST, so the hardware is basically inscrutable and burned into tiny surface mount chip packages on a single board.

So I've spent about the last two days just noodling the arp and bathing in high definition live synthesizer sounds. Every time I turn it on and play with it I'm struck with this thought of "This is such a rich, luxurious thing." because it really is. It's like having some kind of magic box that starts pouring out endless chocolate and candy the moment you turn it on and push a few buttons. It's a magic box that just makes endless flowing ribbons of ear candy.

In related news I am celebrating having a tiny shed that's all mine to occupy (for now!), filled with only my stuff and my messes - and those messes are perfectly normal, not depressed or dysfunctional. I have a little tub for my dishes and a great little rustic kitchenette and hot plate set up, a mini fridge, and an audio workstation and desk. I have an appropriate amount of dishes for me, as well, just enough for me and a guest or two. It's really mostly my stainless steel mess kit I've put together over the last 20 years, so it all packs down to take up very little space. I'm also working on a closet/wardrobe solution to actually hang up all my clothes. I'm even decorating and hanging up art. It's just the right size for me to live in, fit all my stuff and keep neat and clean and tidy and I FUCKING LOVE IT SO MUCH.

I think I'm going to tidy up and SWEEP THE ENTIRE FLOOR just because I can.

I didn't talk about my last place much because there wasn't much to talk about. I lived in a dark basement filled with a bunch of weird crap that wasn't mine, much of it from previous renters. The floor flooded regularly. I spent the last 2 winters living on top of that water and hopping from dry patch to dry patch and hoping I didn't drop any laundry or my phone or worse. Every time I tried to clean it up or tidy it up for living in I'd get overwhelmed and not a just a little freaked out by the quantity (and size!) of the spiders that I'd send scurrying, often from the old crap I was trying to move right into my crap which I definitely did not appreciate having spiders in it.

So having a tiny little space with all my stuff in one place like some kind of vaguely normal adult is FREAKING HUGE to me because I traditionally don't know what to do with any of that. As soon as I saw the shed I knew exactly what to do with it and I went and did it.

And so right now I'm lounging outside in my slouchy PJs having some nice herbal tea, soaking up some warm sun and cold, crisp fall air and I can present however the fuck I like because the nearest neighbor is 600 feet away through a bunch of bramble, maples and cedars, I'm watching hawks and ravens wheel overhead, the cat is pestering me to be in my lap.

Speaking of cat news, the murderous little bastard brought me a chipmunk yesterday. Then proceeded to put me right off my breakfast by eating most of it right in front of me.
posted by loquacious at 12:59 PM on October 21, 2018 [14 favorites]


The Colorado river has been running higher than I've seen it prior, lots of rain out in the hill country and also in and around Austin, it's got every river dumping into the Colorado. I've lived here since 1992, I've seen it run high, but this was Something Else Altogether. The Colorado has a series of dams, which gives us nice pretend lakes. The dam on the east side of town has never had all 8 floodgates open before but they opened up gates 7 and 8 on Thursday and they were still open yesterday, not sure about today. Amazing to watch it blast out of the dam.

I ride my bicycle daily around Town Lake (which is the Colorado where it's dammed off as it runs through Austin), a nice 11 mile spin. Of course the city and county and parks dept has gotten all frowny and hand-wavey and serious and gaseous and they put up all kinds of signs DANGER !!! TRAIL CLOSED !!! NO KIDDING !!! and also they put all kinds of barriers, and run that plastic yellow tape CAUTION -- DO NOT ENTER -- GO AWAY and the plastic red tape DANGER -- WE MEAN IT -- WE EVEN ARE PUTTING THIS STUPID TAPE UP !!!

I know the trail real well and I know where there really is any type of problem water and also where it's just bullshit. So my victories against inanimate objects these past four days has primarily been hitting the barriers hard enough to knock them over or out of the way without having to stop the ride. Since the water has been a really big deal they've gone all out this time, and sometimes I've had to not only stop but also get off the bike to toss the barrier to the side. The plastic tape, on the other hand, that's a lot of fun. I hit it like a runner does hitting the finish line, but it doesn't break like the runners tape does, the plastic is really stretchy, and keeps with me for quite a ways before it gives way SPROING !! Probably the best was Friday night, they had not just one, not two, but four red plastic tapes in this one place, so I hit it hard and it really helped strengthen my legs probably, like resistance training. I did end up having to stop the bicycle, as one of the pieces of tape got all caught up in the gears, not enough to get me to stop except it'd be pretty hard to pretend innocence if some cop or park cop catches me trailing 20 foot of red plastic DANGER tape.

There was one place that even I am not wacky enough to have tried. I did of course look at it, and consider it, but no. I did hit it in the floods summer 2016, it's a fast down and up, a big concrete run from a lot of the streets and smaller streams in that section of the park, I hit it all out, it came up damn near the top of my bicycle tires, and the water was pushing hard against me from the side, did just begin to get the front wheel headed toward the river when I hit the other side and up and out. But this weekend, absolutely No Doubt that it would wash me into the river. I can't believe how high the river is running. I didn't mess with their DANGER sign there, not this year. Two other places I hit water that I'd never seen water before, maybe 12 or 15 inches deep but over a long run, and I'm keeping a sharp eye for water moccasins because who knows, right? But 12 or 15 inches isn't dangerous, just annoying, and fear of snakes kept my eyes roving for sure.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:02 PM on October 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


We had to put down the silly bee-eater. Nothing will feel like a victory for a long time I suspect.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:12 PM on October 21, 2018 [11 favorites]


About two weeks ago I went to the Catskills for one of the photo class-workshop-retreat-things that a friend does. I have a casual interest in photography - I'd been more into it when I was younger, but lately it downshifted to just being "I have a camera I take on vacations with me and that's it". I did this to learn things I didn't know otherwise and maybe rekindle photography as a Thing to Do; so I wasn't that intimidated when everyone else turned up with these space-age cameras with enormous telephoto lenses and tripods and shit and all I had was my simple little point-and-shoot thing. No big, I wasn't trying to take photos to sell or anything anyway.

And then twenty minutes into our first day I dropped my camera in a lake.

I fished it right out, and after fussing over it for 20 minutes it was able to turn back on, but it still wasn't working quite right. Fortunately one of the guys in the class was in the habit of always taking three of everything with him at all times, and so he loaned me one of his cameras for the rest of the weekend so I wouldn't be stuck doing nothing. But it was still way more fancy than my own camera and I had to keep on meekly trotting over to him to ask him to show me what this button did and remind me how to set the shutter speed and why is it on a ten-second shutter delay and how do i make it stop making that "vvvhf" noise and what am I doing that is making the battery run down so fast....and basically intermittently feeling like a big stupid unprepared klutzy doof.

But.

On the last day we each had to pick our five favorite shots we took that whole weekend and show them off to the group for mutual feedback. I picked my five, but also claimed the right to show a sixth "as a sample of what my old camera can do". We showed that first, but then when we started looking at the shots I did with the other guy's good camera...y'all, the room literally fell silent, and I learned that "oh, all that fancy stuff on the good cameras actually does stuff."

The dude who lent me his camera told me "man, I'm glad I had that to loan you because look what you did", and my friend has given me guidance about "so when you get another camera here is what you're going to want to look for," and my confidence went up about 3 notches and I've already informed my parents that "Christmas is coming and this is all I need this year", because yeah, I think this is rekindled.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:20 PM on October 21, 2018 [21 favorites]


I have plums in my ice box and every time I eat one, I think of you all.

Ok, pluots in the crisper drawer of the fridge, but close enough.
posted by Ruki at 6:28 PM on October 21, 2018 [16 favorites]


I always seem to miss these threads when they're happening, but:

- I overcame my spending anxiety to go to a furniture store on Friday after work, test out the mattresses, and buy one. My bed is currently outfitted with a high-density foam mattress that I've had for 2 years and bought for $50, but it's finally and unsurprisingly wearing out around my hips and needs to be replaced. The first mattress I tried was the one I ended up going with, as I kept going back to it, even if it felt too soft at first. Dual layer pocket coils! an actual mattress! Most of my financial anxiety for big purchases comes from the fact that I'm solo in a foreign country and still have no feeling of permanence even after 4.5 years, so this was a big deal to me.

- I pushed through depression inertia and cleaned up parts of my apartment that I've been putting off, like wet dusting the bathroom floor.

- Yesterday (Sunday) felt very long, which usually means I got a lot of things accomplished instead of sitting in one place for hours at a time (though I did do that too)

- Also yesterday, I woke up at 6am to do half the 5K Zombies Run 2018 virtual race. I am not a runner. But I did 2.66 km anyway! I'll finish up next weekend, and then I can open the envelope to get my first look at my shiny medal. Hopefully by then I can figure out what I'm doing wrong to give me a cramp in my side (always the right) when it's not consistent when I get one.
posted by lesser weasel at 6:57 PM on October 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


Last week I made a supreme knowledge victory over a question that's been plaguing me for several years. I can now at least come up a reasonable answer for "what the fuck is middleware?"
posted by bendy at 6:57 PM on October 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Homo neanderthalensis, I'm so sorry.
posted by lesser weasel at 6:58 PM on October 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Prior to that, the last victory I had was over my truck. I had to replace the turn signal stalk on the steering column. I got the part, I watched a YouTube video about 15 times and then started what appeared to be a 20 minute job based on the video. Took me 3.5 hours to get the final screw back in place.

I spent an hour replacing my motorcycle clutch lever with my phone propped up on the gas tank playing YouTube videos.
posted by bendy at 7:15 PM on October 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Oof - clutches are tricky, motorcycle clutches doubly so!
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:56 PM on October 21, 2018


Homo neanderthalensis, I'm sorry to hear about your silly bee-eater. I think of her and her bee-eating adventures often!
posted by moonmilk at 8:40 PM on October 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


The victory isn‘t quite mine yet, but I‘m buckling down to read Marx‘s Capital, and feel slightly confident about it, having found the David Harvey lecture series on Youtube.

He has this calming, paternal (maternal? parental?) style of handholding and guiding you through the process with a lot of encouragement, without having a super strict reading or framework for the text himself, so I think I might actually make it through.

I‘m lucky to be able to read the German original in addition to the English translation that Harvey uses and while the logistics are unwieldy (pagination doesn‘t match up), it‘s actually helpful to do this bilingually, I think. I‘m honestly convinced no German academic could ever explain this book as well as Harvey - bet on them to make stuff *more* complicated, not less...
posted by The Toad at 8:59 PM on October 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


I managed to unclog our dishwasher a few weeks ago! It was starting to get moldy inside and we didn't know why for a while until I decided to actually look inside, and there was a gross puddle of dishwater, no doubt harboring mold and who knows what else. I yanked some stuff off, started rinsing, realized that I probably should watch a YouTube video or something, did that, and proceeded to pick out some partially-distintegrated chicken bones and other things clogging up the pump.

btw does anyone have recommendations for plastic cutting boards? We got rid of most of ours because they got so moldy.

I generally really like household items that I can take apart and clean; the other thing I have like this is my vacuum cleaner, which is a Dyson with a million attachments and a dust reservoir that you have to empty, a filter you're supposed to rinse monthly, etc. It's good fun. Like household legos.

Uh, I also recently got a Squatty Potty, which is victory over body mechanics.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:42 PM on October 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


I can now tie a triple fisherman in slippery polyester cord and jam it solid, making almost perfectly same sized loops. I call it hammacrame. Said object in use when I was testing it. I had to take a few days off, but I'll be back at the tweaking this week.

I have also discovered that I actually need the loops to not be the same size. They need to be graduated, or they cause some rather unpleasant calf ridge and poor neck placement. Hammock v 1 has graduated loops because we couldn't get the loops to be all the same size, and I inadvertantly made it better than its original intended specs would have done. Figure 8/Flemish knots in 425 paracord are not ideal for conformity. It's a good thing I bought the giant economy size reel of cord.

Last Wednesday I went to Outer Portland to see mefi's own jscalzi on his new book tour, and he very kindly modeled my current crochet project. It was great fun, even the singing and philosophy.
posted by monopas at 10:54 PM on October 21, 2018 [6 favorites]


The shawl itself is another victory, as it is the first crochet project I've done since rather dramatically slicing the proximal interphalangeal joint of my left index finger open with a box cutter back in March. Fortunately I didn't cut anything critical for long-term function of the finger, but being over the joint made for a long healing period.
posted by monopas at 11:04 PM on October 21, 2018 [6 favorites]


I have a knack for my refrigerator. I do The Fonz to get the light to come on sometimes. That stupid little switch likes to get stuck in the OFF and I whack it to get it ON. (I don't fix it because it gives it a bit of personality.) aka Percussive Maintenance

++++

Last week I sent myself into hysterics letting Migi and Hidari chat with each other. They're petulant children always arguing about who gets slept on the most and who's responsible for what. F*ck those two. (but lol, never knew how much fun puppeting your hands at each other could be. Oh my the jokes...)

There is this Spectrum commercial (replace with generic big-name broadband provider as appropriate) that had a tune that I remembered from somewhere and it drove me crazy for a while. Finally figured it out. The theme from Code Lyoko. A French anime from ~2003 full of immersed in a game, evil, 3d cgi done as was done for the time, ginormous heads, pretty decent overall.

But at least now that commercial doensn't make me grar as much.

TACOPBP is coming together... I need a bucket. And I have a surprising (not) amount of SWAG branded toys (Excluding the SWAG branded clothing/shit-I-actually-use stuff.)

If I could sew reliably I'd lean towards a bucket full of sacks/bags of different sorts where it turns into "where's that bag with Hello Kitty on it!" sort of lol.

hey Migi
what Hidari
think you should reach for that mouse thing and click the button.
fuck, why do I always have to do that?
it's on your side, heh....
fine.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:18 AM on October 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


As I was getting into the shower Thursday, I smelled smoke. My house was on fire. I put it out with a fire extinguisher and a garden hose. I spent a night in the burn unit and I'm crossing my fingers for minimal scars, but I saved my house and my dog and all of my late wife's art.
posted by kamikazegopher at 2:46 AM on October 22, 2018 [54 favorites]


Wow, kamikazegopher. You're a hero. Here's wishing you fast healing and minimal pain and scarring!
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:51 AM on October 22, 2018 [13 favorites]


I'm gearing up for another extended business trip away from home, where I'll be leading not one but two very complicated test events. I was mostly in charge for the last one, but this time the training wheels are off and I've been directly responsible for getting shit done this time. I'm basically organizing and executing two test series that on their own would each keep me fully employed for several months. It's been stressful and complicated, but I think I finally am getting things under control and I'm feeling better about my level of preparation.

It's been a long time coming, I guess - for ten years at my last job, I was always the "junior engineer" so finally having a position with some responsibility has been nice. It's still been challenging to shift my perspectives and accept that, hey, I can ask people to do things and I should expect them to listen to me! People are calling me and asking me questions and looking for advice - that's kind of weird! But people are happy with the way things are going, so I must be doing something right.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:13 AM on October 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


I have an Oxo digital kitchen scale that I really like, but the digital readout had gotten suddenly glitchy and unreadable. After months of being annoyed by not being able to use my kitchen scale, this weekend I got out my screwdriver and opened up iFixit to see if there was anything.

There wasn't a repair guide for the display, but there was one for how to repair the buttons, which got me as far as opening the thing up. After searching for some general tips on fixing flaky LCDs, I started futzing.

The final solution involved a gaffer tape shim and is profoundly inelegant, BUT I have a working kitchen scale again and I'm honestly just so happy about it.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:06 AM on October 22, 2018 [6 favorites]


I made Chiles en Nogada this weekend, and it was complicated, and fiddly and took a while, but it came out very tasty and I now have half a pitcher of leftover walnut cheesy cream sauce.

Also, I made a Cumberland Rum Nicky as seen as a technical challenge in the Great British Bake Off. I commented, at the time, that I could see myself making it at some point, and I did! The rum butter came out a touch gritty, though. I might dissolve it in simple syrup or something next time to improve the texture somewhat.
posted by PearlRose at 7:16 AM on October 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


We had a super mathy homework assignment due last week, and I literally sat down with a textbook and taught myself how to write a summation and how to do proof by induction and all this stuff that I probably should have learned in high school but definitely don't remember if I did.

I think learning this stuff in high school would be pretty rare. It would get specific coverage in a discrete math course.

My recent victory was figuring out modding in MineTest (an open-source MineCraft clone). When I put my daughter to bed, I tell her a customized story. It started out as Jill and the Beanstalk, but then she didn't want there to be a scary giant at the top of the beanstalk, so she tells me every night what Jill should find up there and I try to build a story around it (usually an animal; she's on an ostrich kick lately). So our family's first MineTest mod is one that creates climbable beanstalks that grow up to the cloud layer.
posted by Jpfed at 8:12 AM on October 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


I decluttered a small but persistently messy area of my apartment yesterday. It's a step!
posted by wellred at 8:28 AM on October 22, 2018 [12 favorites]


I work for an arts non-profit, and last week at the semi-annual board meeting I made the everyone in the room laugh at a slightly inappropriate joke during the process of proposing a major change to how we store our art collection. Unanimous approval is a hell of a drug.

Later, I made successful chit chat at dinner with a museum director and then reminisced about the hell of pumping breastmilk with another museum director. Usually I try to stay firmly on the "quiet and competent but definitely a minion" side of things, I am not sure what happened. Perhaps I drank exactly the right amount of too much coffee?

Anyway the victory is that we are making a big change based on my recommendation. Yay!
posted by Lawn Beaver at 8:35 AM on October 22, 2018 [6 favorites]


AugustWest: I just spent the better part of 2 hours trying to get the string that holds up my sweatpants to reappear in its hole after I washed them and forgot to tie them together before I did the laundry.

My dude(ess/ette), spare yourself future anguish! Go, now, and buy some five-inch locking surgical clamps, also called hemostats, for like five bucks at Amazon. You jam them into the sweatpants and bunch of the entire waistband, and eventually find the string; lock down on it, then puuuuuuull it out. Viola!

I have a set that I keep in my backpack, and I use them for some goofy fix or chore or item-rescue like monthly.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:04 AM on October 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


btw does anyone have recommendations for plastic cutting boards? We got rid of most of ours because they got so moldy.

Look for an NSF-certified cutting board such as this one. They can be cleaned in the dishwasher, and/or scrubbed by hand with dish soap and HOT water. If you're concerned about mold, try cleaning them with a nylon scrub brush and a weak bleach solution.

(Personally I prefer a wooden butcher-block style cutting board where the end-grain makes up the board's cutting surface, which rival plastic (nylon) boards for sanitary-ness, but I do have a plastic one I use when dealing with raw meat.)
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:22 AM on October 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Inanimate objects usually win, le sigh. But I was ready to buy a new hose for the wet vac, when it turned up in an unexpected place (the backyard shed - why?). This tiny victory was sweet.

I spend way too much time looking for my phone, keys, glasses. The phone can be rung with google, there are spare keys, and if the truck is here, the keys must be. The glasses are readers and I bought 5 pair because I like that style. I have lost 3 pair of them since July, 2 pair in the lake.

It's wood stove season and I stupidly got wood late. It's poorly seasoned, so the full wood rack of kindling will be needed. I scavenged a bunch of bits and pieces of lumber, yay. That wood got moved from the back deck to the front deck, but is light, so not too bad. I'm on a hill, the wood delivery truck can only come partway up the drive, so I feel like Sisyphus, pushing my wheelbarrow uphill and it feels like it will never be done. I scavenged 4 tall narrow doors and will make 2 tall wood storage units that can go in the hall. Gives the wood a chance to dry a bit more in the house, and it's always nice to have plenty of wood handy in case of storm or laziness. I have only needed to run the furnace to test the thermostat after accidentally fixing it. Took it down to replace it, and when I re-plugged-in the thing, it worked again. It's programmable - unplug it and plug it in again; I should have known. The puny wood is a champ, keeping the living room cozy. I did break out the down comforter, though, and am enjoying it.

Foliage is past peak in Maine, but it started out overcast this morning, but then the sun came out around 8.30 and lit up the other side of the lake and the trees. And the Dem candidate for governor of Maine is getting endorsements, so I am a bit hopeful.
posted by theora55 at 9:23 AM on October 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


Of course, I looked and looked in the yard for the good rake, couldn't find it, used the crappy one. The good one was in the shed, where it belongs. I shouldn't assume that I haven't put things away.

also, ^^that^^ should say the puny wood *stove* to make sense.
posted by theora55 at 9:31 AM on October 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


theora55, can't tell you how often I do that--look everywhere for something, give up, then later find I actually had put it away where it belonged. At some point I must have started behaving like a semi-responsible adult. I wonder what happened.
posted by HotToddy at 9:52 AM on October 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


The gas heating element in our water heater went out last weekend. In theory you could replace the burner assembly - and in fact I did just that for our fireplace when we moved in (yay for no explosions) - but unlike with the fireplace we can't really wait around for a week with a broken appliance until the parts arrive. And the parts cost a fifth of what a new (better) heater sells for, so the math is perhaps a bit suspect. So I endeavoured to replace the whole thing, with the side-goal of only going to the hardware store once*.

Both of those goals were, perhaps, rather foolish.

The old heater had been in place for about 21 years and the unions connecting it to the water pipes were very much seized up. I had to burn my one trip on picking up a twin wrench to the one I already had so I could work the nut off just to get the old heater out, but one of the unions was so stuck I ended up unscrewing the built-in pipe from the old heater.

That pipe was going to be impossible to remove, as best as I could tell. I ended up spending Sunday morning calling emergency plumbers to see about getting someone in to install the new heater now that I had removed the old one. Turns out weekend plumbers make good money for allowing you to drag them out on a crummy weekend with minimal notice, so I figured I'd try for a little longer. I watched a lot more YouTube when after the 3rd or 4th video I had a revelation - a pipe wrench is a very different beast than the adjustable wrenches I had been using!

Back to the hardware store to get a pair of pipe wrenches and after a another anxiety-inducing hour of letting the penetrating catalyst do its thing I was finally able to work the old pipes free! Completely ridiculous, but now I know that I can't interchange various wrenches as liberally as I had been.

There were a few more worrying parts to wrapping up the project - I also learned what pipe dope is and how you need it instead of thread seal tape for tapered pipes otherwise your seemingly solid pipe connection will leak - but it all worked out and now we have a nice new water heater that will pay for itself (and then continue to save money on fuel costs) after about 5 years.

I'm not entirely sure why calling the plumber was the almost-last resort, but that's probably because it involved Phone Calls and Trusting Random Online Recommendations and Fitting In Time To Contact People During Business Hours.

On the other hand, the side benefit of calling plumbers halfway through the process means that I can feel like I saved us a good thousand dollars or so last weekend, and with the Brewers' loss this weekend we saved another $600+ in not buying once-in-a-lifetime tickets, so we're feeling pretty good about our frugality for this month. 🙄


*Really 3 times - once to pick up the heater, twice to get the pipes and fixtures I need after I knew the measurements of everything in situ, and thrice to return all the extra stuff I bough in step two. But usually there are several step two's.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:55 AM on October 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


I figured out how to feed my damn chickens in Stardew Valley. (It's not by growing grass inside the coop, or trying to give them hay directly, or building a silo and putting hay in there. You have to put hay on a thing that looks like a bed)

Speaking of chicken, I have fallen hard off the vegetarian wagon and had fried chicken for the first time since 2016 yesterday, and it was delicious. I love Popeye's.

Mr. Fig did part of the sermon at church yesterday, and was amazing. He had a group of people swarming him with compliments afterwards, surprised that he has such a gift for writing and public speaking. (He's very very quiet in group situations generally).
posted by Fig at 10:26 AM on October 22, 2018 [8 favorites]


I won at international shipping! Two of the folks to whom I sent MeFI mugs live overseas. One in the Netherlands and one in the UK. I couldn't figure out how to enter the Netherland address in Topatco's order form so I had that mug sent to me and then went to the local UPS store to have them help with shipping. I won't go into all the details, but the package reappeared on my doorstep a week later with all kinds of "no, no, no" rubber stamps all over it indicating that the person who packed and addressed it for me had no idea what they were doing. So I sat down with the USPS website and read through and figured out what I needed to do to create a label through them. Got my little scale out, weigh and measured the package, filled out the online form, gave 'em my credit card and prepared the package. Yay--successfully sent and received in the Netherlands in a very reasonable amount of time.

When the UK package that I sent through Topatco's web site failed to materialize after a number of weeks, I thought, "I will use my new-found skillz" Which I proceeded to do with a second mug. I also chose electronic tracking so I could follow the package. Off it went. I watched it go from my home town to various stops in the U.S. to an airport in Madrid. Then nothing. Checked in with the intended recipient, and nothing. I was sad, they were sad. I put in a claim and heard nothing.

But this morning I received a mefimail saying the mug arrived! And in one piece even though the package was beaten up (including a shoe print) I am happy again! Victory!
posted by agatha_magatha at 10:44 AM on October 22, 2018 [10 favorites]


More of a victory over my own laziness, but I finally got around to getting a new mattress, the old one had been giving me back pain. It was totally sagging in the middle, and didn't have enough give anymore to let my generous hips sink in, making my spine get all twisty when I tried to get comfy. New bed is fantastic and I'm sleeping so much better. And then that purchase gave me enough airmiles to get a new vacuum cleaner! yay things are clean and I'm well rested!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:20 PM on October 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


That's my next material goal. I am tired of springs poking me.
posted by pracowity at 1:28 PM on October 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Depends on what you mean by inanimate object.

I set up a new fishtank for my SO's fish.

First I got ugly brown diatomaceous algae on the glass. Took a couple of weeks to clear out. Turns out my house gets water from the neighborhood well, and it has tons of silicates and other minerals.

A commercial CO2 system is ridiculously expensive here, and overkill for the size of the tank, so I spent another 2 weeks building and tuning a citric acid and sodium bicarbonate system using soda bottles and assorted gauges and valves.

In the meantime I got a nasty cyanobacteria infection that killed 90% of a finicky and exoensive ground cover plant. I tried fixing it just by playing with water and light params, but at the end caved in and used some expired antibiotics.

After that cleared the filter crapped out. It is 11 years old, I got good value for my money, but still I wanted to fix it. Some bushings had worn out, so imade new ones from a leftover piece of Teflon sheet.

After that I got a pea soup algae bloom, and we had a 10 day vacation. I set up everything on timers and hoped for the best, but expected to come back to a fishtank full of dead stuff.

It took 8 damn weeks from day one, but when we came back it was looking like this.

Its been a few more weeks since the picture, now we have full grown cover and I've had to trim the plants twice.

One of the plants is Limnophila aromatica. It makes the tank smell nice, and we got enough trimmings to add to a salad. It has a very interesting flavor.

This is one of the smallest ones I've done, only 4 gallons, and I am proud of it.
posted by Dr. Curare at 11:35 PM on October 22, 2018 [13 favorites]


I just got a Flask website deployed under Nginx + Gunicorn in under an hour. After all the wrestling I had to do with Apache to do the same thing, it was amazing.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:56 AM on October 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


I also, just last night after reading this thread, bought a new bed. Yay for good sleep!
posted by Fig at 5:54 AM on October 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


I, too, had a victory over math this week. I was contributing to an open source project where some cool SCSS maps were in use, except, they didn't actually work. So I switched the code to render columns by percentages mathematically and the original developer COMPLIMENTED MY MATH. Which has never happened before. Ever. I was so excited I screenshotted the Github comment and texted two of my friends. Hey, we gotta enjoy our victories while they last.
posted by annathea at 7:45 AM on October 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


My next obstacle is trying to get this thing I've done (no license fees, does its job seamlessly, can support 500+ simultaneous requests, already working) in place of the officially decreed product (ungodly license fees, clunky, the actual solution still needs to be developed, no one on my team is trained for it) that management wants us to use for the purpose. Fingers crossed.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:29 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Even though I come from a line of craft-y folks, I am not craft-y myself. If I were a D&D character, DEX would be my dump stat by a wide margin. My kindergarten evaluation came back with "needs improvement" in fine motor skills, and the truth of that has been with me for more than 30 years.

But in an effort to do one (1) nice thing for myself every day that does not involve food, I've decided to not log back onto Citrix every night and work for another couple hours, but instead, to work on Halloween costumes. My kid is a little young to really understand the whole idea, though he's kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinda starting to get it from Daniel Tiger and Curious George, but we are going All Out this year. There will be a theme. Mom will have a costume on theme. Dad will have a costume on theme. Kiddo will have an entirely homemade costume on theme, because I could go down to the Party Store and spend $60 for something out of a bag, but I'm gonna spend $30 in materials and time-value that my employer would charge a client at least $5,000 for.

And so far, I'm doing pretty well! We've completed base assembly, and my husband is really sensitive to spray paint fumes, so it has to be done outside, and the weather is tricky, AND we don't have a garage.

So I woke up this morning and groggily reached for my phone, and upon seeing that it was gonna be over 50 degrees for most of the day, sat bolt upright, threw on clothes, bolted three floors to the basement where I've been hiding the costume, snuck past the kid's room with spray paint and the costume so far and a big sheet of leftover cardboard from the TV we got a year ago -- and that's how I ended up standing on the roof deck at 7:15 in the morning, spray-painting duct-taped cardboard Ocean Oasis Blue while wearing my husband's old flannel shirt from high school.

It's made my day immensely better.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:37 AM on October 23, 2018 [11 favorites]


I bake for my colleagues pretty often. I have an basic five-ingredient chocolate-chip cookie recipe that I use when I don't feel like messing about with two kinds of flour and two kinds of sugar and cracking eggs and so on - which is most weeks, to be honest. But I don't want things to get boring, so I mix it up a lot: dried raspberries and white chocolate chips one week, cocoa powder and peppermint extract and a broken up Lindt mint chocolate bar the next, and so on. This weekend, for the first time ever, I successfully guessed the right amount of powdered ginger (and the right combination of other modifications) to make REALLY GINGERY ginger dark-chocolate-chip cookies, and it definitely felt like a victory.

(If anyone's interested: Cream together 200g dark muscovado sugar with 200g room-temperature unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons / 30g golden syrup (which appears to have the same density as water, unless my measurements have been significantly off). In a separate bowl, mix together 300g self-raising flour, 4 generous teaspoons of ground ginger and half a teaspoon of salt. (I also added two sachets of Dr Oetker Orange Back that I happened to have in the cupboard, but I don't even know where I got that from, what with not living in Germany, so I'm hoping it's not essential... or that it's possible to figure out the right amount of orange extract to use instead.) Beat the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, half at a time. Stir through 200g of really good dark chocolate chips. Divide into 30-odd balls with a medium-sized cookie scoop - I think mine's similar in size to a tablespoon measure - and your hands; don't flatten them, and space them far enough apart that you'd be able to fit another one in between each pair. Bake at 180C standard / 160C fan for 12 minutes. Let them cool briefly on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire cooling rack. They'll keep a few days in a sealed box... theoretically.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 9:48 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Having been gifted with "heavy legs" at birth, I've never been able to find a pair of boots that fit over my calves until last week, when my husband talked me into trying on a pair of over-the-knee Christian Sirianos at Payless Shoe Source. OMG, they actually fit! Even better, since the heels are stocky instead of pointy, I who usually wear sneakers or flats, can actually walk in them without wobbling or falling over! I'ma just calling it a small but significant personal victory and sending thanks to the designer, who obviously had women like me in mind when he produced those boots!
posted by Lynsey at 12:13 PM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Our bedroom window (all our windows) have bullshit vertical blinds, and the security light on the opposite wall of the apartment building shines straight into our bedroom window at a level that makes it impossible for me to sleep. We'd been making do with blackout curtains on a curtain rod that my spouse had somehow jury-rigged to the horizontal strut of the vertical blinds using zip ties with champagne corks as spacers (not even joking. Did I mention we rent and can't make modifications?). It wasn't working well.

Then I saw a recommendation for these brackets. Since they arrived a few days ago and we installed them, it's been one of those "clouds part, angels sing" kind of things. Only more "clouds roll in to block all the light, angels sing".
posted by Lexica at 5:10 PM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


My first Zozosuit custom jeans arrived and they fit! (previously, previouslier) Right out of the box, the right length, hardly stretchy at all, and they fit all the way up to my true waist! Whoa. Whoa. And they're not too expensive to use as shop pants even though they aren't canvas.

T-shirt not as mindblowing, but it is noticeable that the hem is level front-to-back. I don't think my shirts usually are.
posted by clew at 9:09 PM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Recently rescued another cat without falling out of the tree, which makes three this year (so far). And the cat counts as an inanimate object, as it made zero effort to move for several hours despite all manner of calls, tempts, treats. As usual now, I put on my fireproof heavy duty gloves (am practised in this), climbed the tree, wedged myself in between the trunk and a branch that could hold my weight, grabbed the cat, stuck it in my rucksack (where it became very un-inanimate), climbed back down, and went inside the house of the owner for cat release. Job done. Ironically, considering this question, I made sure there was the bare minimum amount of visible skin due to previous cat rescues that had not gone so smoothly.

+ + + + +

Current location: a lecture room in this building.

Current status: still wandering around villages shows and fetes in rural England, still eating cake at same. Approaching Halloween and the literal dark season, so preparing with music familiar and more recent. The temptation to hibernate stays strong.
posted by Wordshore at 10:18 AM on October 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


T’hb and I picked up the keys to our house today and still no one noticed that they’d sold it to three cats in a trench coat 🧥(THE FOOLS!) so I think we can now claim victory over the British housing buying process.

As a (old) millennial, I celebrated by buying some avocados which I will eat on toast. And no one can stop meeeeeeee. (At least till the mortgage payments start).
posted by halcyonday at 1:55 PM on October 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


I won't bore you all with the technical details (unless you really, really want to know), but I just found out that a small tool/site I wrote is being used by four or five other people to speed up their workflow. It's kind of a neat feeling.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:15 AM on October 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


This weekend I was victorious over Fall foliage. We had a big wind storm on Saturday night, and all the leaves fell off my neighbor's tree right into my yard. On Sunday, I was like "fuck it, I am going to be a responsible homeowner and rake in a timely fashion this year," so I raked them all up and put them in piles for the leaf-vacuum people to come vacuum up. My neighbor was like "I don't think the leaf vacuum truck is coming anytime soon, because usually lots of other people are raking if they're scheduled to be here, and you're the only person raking. Maybe you should wait." But I was making progress, so I decided to finish it. And lo and behold, the leaf vacuum truck came on Monday. So now my yard is all nicely raked, and everyone else on my block has a messy yard full of leaves. I am savoring this feeling, because I am usually the bad neighbor with the messy yard.

(I apologized to my next-door neighbor for my unmowed lawn, and he told me that tidy yards were a bourgeois affectation anyway. I enjoy living in a college town, where people have fancy language with which to justify my laziness.)
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:54 AM on October 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


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