Posted in Me, Military Community Interests

2 Years Is Long Enough Away, I’n It?

I’n’ it? That’s the shortened version of “isn’t it,” which is the shortened version of “is not it,” which makes zero sense.

OK – so I’ve been away from this for 2 years now. In all honesty, this was never intended to be a regular post; I have neither the talent, patience, or desire to maintain a running monologue.

Much has changed these past years, although much has also not. Still working where I was working before, watching the Wiesbaden community expand well beyond its intended capacity. A 1000 car garage has been built, with a 500 car extension being added to it. There’s also a 2nd garage being built, and, I believe, even a 3rd. So now, with all these new spots, parking here is worse now than what I reported in 2012.  The original spots are either designated for specifically registered vehicles, or 1 to 2 hour parking only.  The remainder of the “unlimited use” places that still exist are usually filled well before I get to work.

Sometimes, it can be amusing watching cars go through a Musical Chairs routine as they – as slowly as possible – circle our one hour customer only parking lot (or vultures circling roadkill, if you prefer).  As I mentioned in a previous blog, many park where they shouldn’t.  MP presence hasn’t noticeably increased with the larger population, and we don’t have “meter maids” here, so parking tickets are rare, and apparently with no real punishment (no fines, although the Community Commander has threatened a “3 strikes – no driving privileges” policy).

Moving on – we have fewer places to eat now on base than we did 2 years ago.  The mobile imbiss is gone, but the Shoppette promises a Starbucks(!) very soon now.  GREAT!  We can never have enough coffee service.  Caffeine is a great alternative to food.  I’n’ it?

Thank You, Dave Kellet



Also, Cinnabon has been replaced by a German bakery, which provides crappy coffee, crappy espresso, and crappy cappuccino, along with some pastries, and a few crappy samiches.







Moving on – I’m going to relate a story that could be taken out of the Al Bundy/Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor diaries…

About 6 months ago I went to a local, German hardware superstore, for a replacement shower wand – most German homes don’t have fixed shower heads – they use wands, connected by hose to the faucet.

Traditional Brass Hand Shower Wand & HoseI don’t ‘member why I went – the old one may have been clogged with kalk, leaking, or  whatever.  Do’n’t matter (different tense than i’n’ it – stay with me here).  While perusing the aisle for the €15 or €20 replacement I came upon a rather retro fixed “Rain” shower head.  Of course, it’s a system – I can’t just screw it on to the end of a hose. I picked one – and since it actually came with a wand as well – I can say that I even accomplished my original goal – for €180.

So, I loaded it into my car and took it home.  An hour and a half later, with no working shower, I assembled it, cut a couple of fingers from the rough edges, drilled a few new holes into my bathroom tile, and another hour before it’s fixed to the wall.  Now, my shower is actually an extension of my bathtub, and the faucet is in the center of the long part of the tub – there’s probably a proper term for that, but hell with it.  After all the hoses are connected, the shower head’s in place – it’s all finished, I can now try it.  First I noticed that the head reaches just a little bit too far across the bathtub (this is why I had to explain where the faucet was because that’s where I installed this thing). If the shower curtain’s not in place my floor will get soaked.  It worked fine until I decided…

Let’s movc forward to this last week.  I had decided to buy a new showerhead – smaller – about 20cm (8″) wide instead of the 25cm (10″) that came with the system.  Back to the hardware store I went (Do Not get ahead of me here), found a suitable, €20 showerhead.  Went home, unscrewed the old, larger one, and screwed the new one in place.  As I was tightening it down (by hand) I felt something give, and suddenly the showerhead’s no longer tightening – just spinning.  Being mechanical, I figured that something broke.

I took a gander at the armature that connected the showerhead, popped off a cap that was not only poorly glued, but the amount of glue that was inside this channeling made it obvious that it was placed as a form of “loc-tite” ( formed around the nut to keep the showerhead from spinning just like it was doing.  Not just that, but the stuff that was glued was an incredibly cheap plastic flange, which itself was broken.  I cut my fingers (again – I keep an adequate supply of band-aids) and managed to remove the flange so I could “work” with it (i.e., glue).  I realized in the morning that even if my gorilla glue worked that it would fail when the shower was all put back together and water started running through it.  So, I grabbed it, cleaned up most of the glue and blood from the flange, and the next day grabbed a German-speaking colleague for a trip back to the hardware store.

Of course, this particular flange was not a common hardware flange – it was special, and the German specialist who knows about these things referred me to the Flange Specialist Shop down the road.  Since I was on a relatively limited schedule (aka lunch), I didn’t have time to go chasing down maybes.  Let’s see how much time/patience  I’d have after work.

Wednesdays, after work, is laundry day.  There’s not enough room in my apartment for a washer (and the landlady’s afraid I’ll break hers).  I have to set aside time and quarters, and go to the laundromat at Hainerberg.  THAT takes priority over flanges.  When my laundry was done the interest that I had in taking this €1 piece of plastic crap to the Flange Specialist Store was just about at the same level as wanting to drop a bowling ball on my right big toe (i.e., not high on my list), so on my 10 minute drive home, I drove by the store (only about 1/2 hour out of the way from the house), and found it dark.

It’s funny, sometimes, when you just just do something without a particular goal in mind, and it seems to exactly fit in with something that wasn’t intended (is that kismet?).  Earlier, when we got back from lunch (my colleague-translator and I), I decided to buy some Euros, a couple of hundred – I don’t like being without cash.

It just so happens that right down the road from the closed Flange Specialist Store were 2 super hardware stores, and here I was without a working shower at the house, and Euros handily in my pocket.  I walked in and came upon a rather retro fixed “Rain” shower head. Of course, it’s a system – I can’t just screw it on to the end of a hose. I picked one – and since it actually came with a wand as well – no….   This one I thoroughly looked at – knew from experience what to avoid – found one that appeared suitable, and bought it.  €100 cheaper than the first one.

After opening the box , I noticed quickly that I was not looking at an Ikea installation.  The kit contained a top and bottom fixture, 2 hoses, the showerhead, a wand, and a small box of parts. Inside the box contained 2 screws and wall anchors, and a couple of round mounting brackets to fasten the fixture to the wall.  That’s it. I almost didn’t need the manual (which was in every language except english).  I took the old assembly down, drained it, removed the old anchors, filled those holes in and took a break until this morning.

I had also measured where I wanted to drill the holes last night for the 2 anchors that I would install, and since I woke up coincidently an hour early I decided to go ahead and mount the new system.  Absolute simplicity, except that right out of bed, I reached in to the parts box and out jumped a little tiny threaded plug (size is listed as m5 if you’re interested).

Threaded plug 1/16 - 3/4

Did it land on the ground, maybe get caught in the bathroom carpet?  Oh, hell no – it made a bee-line for the bathroom sink – right down the drain.  I watched it in my stupor – I know exactly where it went.  So, I went to my toolbox, got out my telescopic magnet that I have for just these kind of situations (and since it was still in its packaging I think I can say that I’ve never actually had one of these situations), and poked it down the drain – twice – thrise – frice.  The magnet stuck to every damn thing in the drain except the thing that I was fishing for.  Then I started wondering if I really needed it at all – all it did was lock the top part of the fixture to the bottom.  Then I started to wake up – I found a screw the same size and thread pattern and from that derived the “M5” size.  I knew the hardware store would have those but I didn’t want to buy just one – neither did I have any use for more than just one.  What to do?  I knew – from experience – that plug was in the sink trap, but mine didn’t have a drain plug, and I wasn’t looking forward to removing the pipe – with my luck I’d wreck a gasket and swamp the bathroom (what we call Pipering things up).  Running out of options – and needing a shower – I risked it.  Unscrew this, unscrew that, that curvy part of the drain almost fell off into my hands.  I dumped the contents into a can, and there that little bugger was – that little, threaded, COPPER, piece of, um, metal.  Surprising that nothing else was in the trap – other than sludge.  Plus it all went back together as easy as I took it apart.  No leaks. Good seal.  Wow!  10 minutes later the entire shower assembly was mounted to the wall.  Tested it – flawless – lined up perfectly on the wall – barely see the marks from the old holes.

Then the alarm went off – it was all a dream.  No – a little cleanup and I’m still ahead of schedule (that was only the first alarm).

I should have a zinger here for the end but …