Burst Pipes, The Norovirus and the 2014 Grammys

I know this is a personal finance blog, so we should be talking about money. And frugality and saving and early retirement. That’s great, but top of mind today is this weekend – and well that wasn’t very money focused, but maybe we can find a pearl in there.

The Grammys

First, let’s talk about the Grammys. Did anyone watch all the way through? The entire reason I decided to watch was to see the Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl and Lindsey Buckingham collaboration. That’s right, a super group composed of the drummer from Nirvana, the singer from Nine Inch Nails, the guitarist from QOTSA and the guitarist from Fleetwood Mac. Awesome, right? Except, apparently the Grammys knew that everyone would want to see them so they had them close the show. At like midnight. I couldn’t hold out that long. My wife warned me I’d be mad if I had stayed up and watched like she did. (Why my wife is up at midnight watching TV in another room on a Sunday night is another topic. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.)

They cut them off! They let them do the original song and then midway through a Queens of the Stone Age song they started playing commercials for Delta and the credits over top and then cut them off entirely before they finished. Oh, and the sound mix was off in the first song. I guess it could have been worse. They didn’t just totally cut out audio like happened through a number of performances.

Because we don’t want to possibly offend anyone, we get horrible ham-handed “censoring” of some great performances by just totally cutting the audio off and then back on. Can we talk about how awesome Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar were? And they ruin the thing by cutting the audio off and on repeatedly. Is there any chance I can call the FCC to complain about ruined music to counteract the wave of super-vigilant groups who have to make sure there’s no swear words on live music performances past 10 p.m.?

So back to Imagine Dragons. That was an awesome performance. That’s how you rock out, and that’s how you do a great job with a rap collaboration. I’ve never been a fan of live rap performances. You need a band, a real live band to have an awesome performance. I think if you compare to the other rap performances you can see the difference. Or maybe it’s just not my bag.

Lastly, John Legend and Taylor Swift stood out to me as well, having some nice performances. Except Taylor’s gotta not do that head swaying/banging thing.

Now, remember how I mentioned my wife was up at midnight? We had one heck of a weekend here.

My wife and I woke up Saturday morning, happy to go get our precious little son from his… Wait a second. What is that smell? It smells sour and acidic. Did the cats puke on the hardwoods again?! No matter, I’ll clean that up later, let me go grab my son… HOLY GOOD GOD, WHAT HAPPENED HERE?!

The Dreaded Norovirus

My son apparently decided to recreate one of the more disgusting scenes from Trainspotting. I won’t link to it to spare you your breakfast. But needless to say his pajamas, his crib, his sheets, the rug. Covered. Straight to the bathtub for him while mommy strips his crib and cleans like mad; and daddy gags while giving him a bath.

Once that situation is all taken care of, we start the assembly line of laundry; and I head off to the apartments to fix yet another burst pipe in the basement. We’ll discuss that in further detail later.

Fast forward to Saturday night, and… Mommy is now sick. We’re dropping like flies here, folks. Thankfully Mommy is upright enough to help get the little man back to bed and turn in for the night. When we awake Sunday morning, however, Daddy is flying solo taking care of a recovering baby and and now very-sick Mommy. During his naps I panic and sanitize every doorknob, cabinet handle, faucet, light switch, fridge handle, and generally anything either of them could possibly have touched. And then I sit and wait. Am I next? When will it happen? It’s a horrible waiting game, being the last man standing in a houseful full of sickness like that.

So far I’ve survived, but the Norovirus spares few men…

The Part Where We Shoe-Horn in Finances…

Back to that whole “burst pipe” thing. Yep, the pipes burst for a second time in two weeks in the basement of my duplex. Same spot. Technically, they didn’t burst, but they pushed open the connections at some tees and elbows where the pipes get soldered together. Apparently my tenants are sneaking into the basement, disabling the smoke detector, cracking open one of the little windows and smoking. Because it’s too cold to go outside and smoke. And then they’re leaving the windows cracked open leading the water to freeze in the pipes and push apart the connections. Ah, to be young and blissfully unaware of consequences in life!

The first time, I wasn’t able to make time during the week to go over and fix the pipes properly. I just scrambled and added some push-fit shutoffs – because the original one on the cold line didn’t actually shut anything off anymore; and the hot line had no shutoff past the water heater. The bill just came for that trip from the plumbers: $118.80 to solder back in a few connections. Yikes!

This time, I had most of Saturday to actually go and try to fix it myself properly. I ran to Lowe’s and grabbed some more solder and flux in a kit. For good measure I also grabbed two copper tees and two couplings. The grand total came to $19.86. Thankfully I already owned a propane torch that my father gave me. After about 20 minutes of draining the pipes, getting the old connections undone, sanding, applying flux and then re-soldering – the job was done. It never ceases to amaze me just how much money you can save doing things yourself. $100 just to re-solder a few connections and maybe an hour of my time if you count the driving, Lowe’s shopping and the actual labor. And that’s for a very minor plumbing job. Heck, if I didn’t own the torch already, I could have bought a torch head ($40), propane fuel cylinder ($13), the soldering kit ($11), and vise grips to hold onto the pipes and move them ($25) – and still come out ahead by $30. Plus I’d have the tools necessary to do a whole lot more work on copper plumbing (and some nice vise grips for general use).

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