Tag: Mr Blog’s Tepid Ride

I'm gonna be archived forever

Mr Blog's Tepid RideFriend of the site, BMJ2k, has posted up some thoughts on being a public figure, apparently inspired by our last Collective Detective tale.

It also does not matter how widely you are known. The Mayor of Toledo Ohio is a public figure despite not having been heard of in 99.999% of the United States.

Therefore, if being a public figure is not dependant on where you are, and it doesn’t matter how widely you are known, then it stands to reason then that alongside those public figures known countrywide or globally, there must also be local public figures known in smaller circles or communities. So my question is, if there is no upper limit, is there a lower limit? What is the threshold? – read more

FlashCast 006 – Apples & Oranges

FC06 - Apples & Oranges[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashCast006.mp3](Download/iTunes)

Prepare yourself for ideas, Antiques Roadshow, séances, The Running Man, bathroom talkers and Joe Monk.

Mentions this episode:

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If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at http://skinner.fm, call our voicemail line at (206) 338-2792, or email us text or mp3s to skinner@skinner.fm.

FlashCast is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

A Laser Light Show On Mr Blog's Tepid Ride

Today, we once again pull a gem from BMJ2k’s archives over at Mr Blog’s Tepid Ride. This time we present the third in a trilogy of expeditions to Home Depot (- well, Lowes).

Mr Blog's Tepid Ride
If anyone asks, tell them I’m upstate.

Strange thing, life. (Your life may vary.) If I were still working at my old school there’s a good chance I’d have been on the senior trip this weekend. Senior Trip last year was fun, if your idea of fun is keeping two rival high schools from rumbling is fun. But I did get to sit in a hallway until 4am and almost died playing paint ball on a glacier, so I guess everything is relative.

Not being at the old place anymore has definite pros and cons.


  • Longer commute
  • Less familiarity with students and staff
  • Not involved with school events
  • Not working with friends
  • Not working on yearbook
  • Not going on Senior Trip


  • My new school is not closing down

Well, in all honesty, if I were back there I’d like to have gone, if only to see if the burger guy Kathy almost got fired last year is still there. At any rate, I’m OK with not going, but life being the cosmic game of “shit” that it is, kept throwing it back in my face. For example: On Friday, I found out, my new school also had their senior trip (I am sick of capitalizing that.) I had no idea it was coming, nor do I even know where they went. This is because not only do I not teach seniors, but I am also extremely dense. I found out about the senior trip when my period four class asked me “what are you doing here, you’re supposed to be on the senior trip?”. News to me. All I know is, the COSA (not to be confused with LA COSA NOSTRA, trust me, I made that near-fatal mistake) told some kids that I was going. Again, news to me. Needless to say, if you haven’t already figured it out, I did not go. I am fairly certain that I wasn’t supposed to. I think.

Then I found out that my old colleague and general partner-in-complaints Michelle is on the senior trip with her school. If somehow Michelle and Liz are on the same dude ranch, and my school is there without me, I will be pissed. Like I said, Life is a big game of “shit.”

But I made up for it. I went to one of my favorite places, one which, in fact, inspired a couple of good blogs. (I know what you’re thinking, smart-alec, yes I do have a couple of good ones.)

I went to Home Depot.

(Full Disclosure- I did not go to Home Depot. I actually went to Lowe’s, which, other than being blue instead of orange, and slightly brighter, is EXACTLY THE SAME as Home Depot. And right across the street. Please direct all complaints to the Editors_of_Mr._Blogs_Tepid_Ride@who_cares.com)

Buying hardware is a man thing. Oh sure, women buy hardware. We even let them in the stores. But like peeing on a campfire and punching out rednecks, it’s a guy thing. I was there to buy a washing machine. Major appliance. Measuring involved, plumbing, (and here you can imagine me hitching up my tool belt), and tools.

Now, I’ve had trouble at Home Depot in the past. One time they sold out of the advertised cordless drill the day before the sale began. Another time a salesman tried to sell me some 3/4? sheet metal screws when I knew damn well I needed 5/8. And, infamously, I was unable to buy a knob for my air conditioner, thus setting me on a trip to Boro Park. Forearmed and forewarned, I didn’t go to the store nearby.

I went to the one under the Gowanus. “Gowanus” is an old Indian word for “Hey Chief, that overpass is about to rust apart.” It is a really crappy area. Remember the part of Goodfellas where Jimmy the Gent tries to get Karen to go into his warehouse to get some swag, where he would most likely have whacked her? It was filmed one block over. I have some “cool” (an old Indian word meaning “bad”) pictures of me sneering like De Niro and pointing to the warehouse. I figured that a neighborhood of seedy warehouses over a slimy creek and under an elevated train near the waterfront is about as manly as it gets. It even had an element of danger. I might have been bothered by one of the drunks hovering suspiciously close to my car.

Inside the store I first saw a large display of leaf blowers. Damn they were nice. This model had an extra tank for gas storage and a pair of attachments for stubborn or wet leaves. I got as far as trying one on until I remembered that I live in an apartment and moved on to the emergency generators.

No matter what store I am in, if they sell flashlights, that’s the aisle you can find me in. I’ve got three mini-maglites (the creme de la creme of mini lights) and flashlights that have tripods, rubberized coatings, flexible arms, and even ones that crank instead of using batteries in case The Reckoning leaves me behind. So of course I put a Black and Decker gooseneck work light in my wagon.

After handling every torque wrench and comparing dry wall screws I moved on to the appliances and reflected that, had I handled the merchandise the same way in, say, a lingerie store, I may have been asked to leave.

I went over to the salesman and saw that he was about 90 years old and wearing a tool belt with grease stains older than the Shroud of Turin. Good. This guy should know what he was talking about. And he did. Our conversation was peppered with terms like “thermal mesh,” “brass sheet knurling,” and even one “other big puss salesmen in the electrical department.” Man-type conversation.

I bought a washer and was actually happy that it didn’t come with some hoses that common sense just screams that a washer should come with. Happy? Sure. I got to buy some stuff in the plumbing aisle, which is probably the aisle that over the years I’ve bought the least from. I have to point out, for honesty’s sake (a first for this blog) that all you need to hook up a washer is a Y-hose, faucet hose, and a couple of screw-on attachments. In fact, not a single tool is needed. But just in case, I bought a plumber’s wrench, wire cutters, and knee pads.

Delivery won’t be until next week because the washer wasn’t in stock. Damn Home Depot. (Lowe’s.)

Back out in the parking lot I made it my car without one of the drunks asking me for change. Good thing too, because I wasn’t afraid to swing my new plumber’s wrench.

While it was no trip to the dude ranch, I got just as much enjoyment out of the hardware store. Probably even more, when you consider that I didn’t have to worry about any kids getting kicked by a horse.

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Thanks again to BMJ2k, for allowing me access to his wordsmithing.

A Brighter Spotlight On Mr Blog's Tepid Ride

Today we present another in our ongoing series of posts highlighting the talented work of BMJ2k, of Mr Blog’s Tepid Ride, as he faces off against his nemesis Home Depot.
Mr Blog's Tepid Ride

For those of you who were smart enough not to read “Knobs for Noobs,” and frankly, good for you, a quick recap: After a fruitless yet epic search for a replacement air conditioner knob, which took me such exotic locales as Boro Park, where a man ate dinner from a dusty hot plate, to New Jersey, where I bought a “shhnurgenshtein” in the Swedish heaven called IKEA.. I was finally forced to order a knob at a stupidly inflated price from GE. That blog featured an extended description of my lifelong frustration with Home Depot. An excerpt follows:

Despite owning the reputation of having everything anyone could possibly need to put in a tub, sod a lawn, or furnish a castle, I had trouble there a few years back finding some hex screws. On another occasion I could not buy their advertised drill because, as explained by an associate, “it doesn’t exist.”

For those of you who have never been to a Home Depot, congratulations! Home Depot is one of those huge mega-warehouse hardware stores that is supposed to be your one-stop shop for anything in your home, be it paint, planks, or pliers. It has power saws and sanders. It has garden soil and planters. It has primer and stain. You could go into any Home Depot store and leave with anything for your home except an actual house, but if you want to live in a tool shed, they can supply your home too. Or so they say. I have found Home Depot to be lacking in pretty much whatever I have needed. And I’m talking about simple stuff, like nails or toilet seats. (Not to mention air conditioner knobs. But that was another story.)

Well, as this episode begins, I found myself in the strange predicament of being locked inside my apartment the other night. I’d been locked out before, but this was new. I was inside with no way to get out. I have a very expensive and secure lock on my front door. It has a very unusually-shaped key and is guaranteed to be impossible to open except by that key. In fact, the keys are uncopyable and have to be registered with the locksmith. So if my home is ever burgled, I am going straight to the police with the name of my locksmith, since he must be the one who broke in. The lock is great, but the doorknob was original equipment with the door and had been going bad for a few weeks. It would spin on the axle and not catch until I tightened the little screws on the side, and they were starting to strip. I put off replacing it because, well, that’s usually what I do. (Other than writing blogs where I review movies. Have you read my Ratatouille review? Neither did I. I heard it was good.)

On this night, as I was on my way out to an exciting and amazing destination (Waldbaum’s to buy some fruit) the door knob just came off in my hand. The door stayed shut, I had the knob and a stupid look on my face. “Uh.” Thanks to my special lock, if I were on the other side of the door, I could easily have gotten in to the apartment with the key, no knob required. Getting out, however, needed the knob. See why the lock is so special?

I got a long-handled screwdriver and used all of the skills I picked up in my years as a carjacker to jimmy open the catch through the little space between the door and jamb (and no, this doesn’t render the lock useless, this can only be done from the inside) and popped the door open. I cancelled my vital plans to buy oranges and knew that I had to replace the knob or once I came back I might never get out again. It was nine at night and only one place was open, Hells’ Depot. I mean Home Depot, again in search of a knob.

A little bit of back story here. I had just slightly twisted my right ankle for the 12th or 13th time in my life and it was a little sore. High on my left hip I had a small insect bite which had become infected and painful to a degree that I wouldn’t inflict on Jolanta Rohloff or Rick Mangone.  Consequently, walking was uncomfortable for me. Not bad, not painful, but uncomfortable since any pressure on either leg was a problem. And if there is one thing you do in Home Depot, it is walk, because the place is as big as a TWA aircraft hanger, but with worse customer assistance.

I approached the store the way you I imagine soldiers in Viet Nam approached a stretch of dark woods. Cautiously, not knowing what it held, I slowly neared the store. Steely eyed and resolute, I nodded when the greeter did his thing. (And why does Home Depot need a greeter anyway? If I want a guy in filthy overalls to say “hi” to me I’ll go to the dump.) This was to be the last intelligent human contact I had inside the store. I would have a load of non-intelligent contact soon enough.

Home Depot (HD from now on because I’m lazy) at nine on a Friday night is not a happening place. On Saturday night, date night, the aisles are filled with young lovers, but on Friday the place had a few moms and toddlers looking for mops, some guys buying sheets of plywood, a few people pushing carts filled with power tools (and Homeland Security should really see who is buying power drills and big bags of fertilizer) and me, on my mission.

When you enter HD, you are facing the cleaning supplies. To your left is the garden center, to the right is the bulk of the beast. I turned right.

All the aisles are cleverly labeled with such helpful signs as “tools” and “nuts,” so I at least got a good chuckle there.

So I walked and walked and walked to the other end, past appliances, through paint and wallpaper, to the lumber section, in which it is possible to purchase bags of sawdust. That’s the stuff that gets swept up and thrown out at the end of a job. I assume it is there so that someone could spread it all over their floor and pretend top have been working really hard building that patio deck when they’ve actually been drinking beer and looking at their Jessica Alba calendars. (And yes, I do know why they sell sawdust. I’m no fool. They sell it to spread on the floors of Western steakhouses.) You may have noticed that I have just walked end to end without finding the doorknobs.

The first thing to do was find someone to ask. This is easier said than done because, in a store the size of a city block, there are maybe three employees. The guy at the door, someone in a red vest who always seems to be at the opposite end of the store no matter where you might be, and the guy I asked. In my defense, he looked like he knew what he was doing. He had a price gun and was carrying a ruler. But of course, the answer I got was “back there, I think.”

My first instinct was to hit him with something solid. My second instinct was to just walk away. I briefly thought about asking “back there where?” but my better judgment kicked in. I said “Phhhpt” and walked, now a little more uncomfortably, to where I believed, logically, they should be. I studied the flow of the store. I noted where the plumbing section led to the appliances and then led to the tools. After a few seconds of inspection, I said to myself “aisle twenty,” and that’s where they were. (And before you ask, no, the signage did not help at all.)

Now don’t think it was that easy. Although I was in the right aisle, I still had to hunt through all the stuff I didn’t want to find what I did. And then it was still harder because they had only four sets of knobs. Four in this whole city-sized place. And they were all dented.

Dented! Every single one of them, in every set of two, was dented. I held them all up to the light. Some were small dings, some were big holes. I picked the least dinged of them on the theory that A- I really need this to get out of my house, B- I could replace them later, and C- if I could manage to find a manager, I could complain. Now I knew that C was impossible and B wouldn’t happen because I’m lazy, but A was very compelling so I set out to find a cashier.

They actually had a cashier working, and I have to admit that this cashier was working hard. Good thing too, because she was the ONLY cashier and the line was anywhere from 8 to 45 people deep. I couldn’t really tell how many there were because they weren’t in a line, they were clustered around the cashier and complaining about how she was the only cashier and why didn’t she open another line and why didn’t she work faster and where was the manager and why was there only one cashier and where were the lawnmowers and on and on and on. Plus everyone had either a wagon filled with stuff or a flatbed filled with lumber.

I had doorknobs. So I went to the self-checkout.

Self-checkout is a scam. Part of what you pay for anything goes to pay the salary of the employees who ring you up. If I am going to ring up myself, and the store doesn’t need to pay someone to do it for me, I want a rebate. After all, the store is getting to save money by making me do the work. The same goes for when you bag yourself at the supermarket, but I make an exception there so my groceries will be bagged competently. Fast food places do the same thing when they give you the cup and you fill your own soda, but you can get over by getting refills. (But since soda is the biggest moneymaker in all of food service, this really is a hollow victory. McDonald’s, for example, pays less than ½ cent for the soda for which you paid $1.49. Soda is nearly all profit in food retail.) In general, there is a trend in retail to get the customer to do more of the work, thereby saving the company money. These savings are never passed on to you, and they are designed to make you think you are getting faster checkout, or convenience, or whatever, but in the end you still pay for services you don’t get.

But if I wanted to get out of HD before I died, or before I killed someone with a Dremel roto-tiller, I needed to leave. Self-checkout had a line slightly smaller than the regular checkout, but slightly slower, so it was a wash.

When I finally got out of HD, sometime early Saturday afternoon, I went home and put the knob on the door.

Fit like a glove.

I would like to say that I will never go to Home Depot again. I’d like to tell you that I have managed to get it out of my life. But history shows that I am doomed to forever go back again, and again. Home Depot still beckons me, like some Lovecraftian phantom, lurking on the threshold of my sanity. I pray that I have the strength to resist.


Spotlight on Mr Blog

This month we’ll be exploring the archives of friend of the site, Mr. Blog’s Tepid Ride a bit.

We open with the first of a trilogy of pieces, in which BMJ2K ventures out in search of a knob.

Mr Blog's Tepid Ride

Knobs for Noobs

Some of you may know that for the past two weeks I have been on a quest to replace an air-conditioner knob.

I woke up one morning and, bleary-eyed and wobbly, I wandered over to the a/c to turn it off. My a/c has two knobs- one to turn it on or off and control the fan strength, and another to control the temperature. To turn off the a/c I needed to turn the leftmost knob to the right. I grabbed the rightmost knob, which was already as far right as it would go. “Uh,” I thought. Somehow the thought went through my mind that it must be stuck. So I used all of my sleepy, weary strength to turn it to the right. The shaft of the knob crumbled and the rest of the knob came off in my hand. “Uh,” I thought, and went back to bed with the knob laying on the floor.

I reawakened a few hours later, very cold. I was sure I turned of the a/c, didn’t I? So when I found the broken knob a few things came to mind: “Uh?” and “Was that what I did this morning?”

This wasn’t the important knob- the a/c was already at full temp. I didn’t need it to turn the a/c on or off. But I broke it and it needed to be fixed.

My first thought was to fix the knob. I know how to do this. I had the knob and the two broken pieces (one had to be fished out of the a/c’s frame.) I took some modeling putty and filled the stem. I put a toothpick in the middle to use as a handle. After the putty hardened a bit I smoothed it on the outside and placed the broken pieces on top. The putty would act as a base to properly place the broken pieces in the correct position. I then used Testors modeling glue to adhere the pieces back into place. After a few hours drying time I brushed a thin layer of epoxy on the outside of the stem. The next day after it was dry I gently pulled the putty out of the knob, using the toothpick, being careful not to put any stress on the newly-solid knob. The knob looked good. I took an x-acto knife to scrape out any loose putty and trim an edge of rough glue and it was done.

I waited another day to let it totally dry and solidify and then I slowly placed it back on the metal piece sticking out of the a/c. It fit snugly. Deep breath. Now the test. I turned it, gingerly, to the left. Didn’t move. I used a little more strength, a little more, there it goes- snap! It crumbled in my hand. “Uh.”

So my next step was to buy a replacement knob. My first stop was Home Depot. I know that store well. We had tangled in the past. Despite owning the reputation of having everything anyone could possibly need to put in a tub, sod a lawn, or furnish a castle, I had trouble there a few years back finding some hex screws. On another occasion I could not buy their advertised drill because, as explained by an associate, “it doesn’t exist.” My father’s battles with their Mill Basin store are legendary, with them actually encouraging, no, forcing him to shoplift. I went there with low expectations.

My first stop was their furniture knob and handle section. They didn’t have what I wanted, but I wasn’t expecting to find it there, it was just a short detour on the way to the appliances section. They had a lot models of a/c, and filters galore, but no replacement knobs. I went to the electrical area with, frankly, little hope. I was right, no knob. My next move was going to be very logical. I was going to snag a knob from one of their floor models.

That isn’t shoplifting- I had the broken knob in my pocket and I was just going to make a switch. Floor models get treated rough anyway. Knobs break all the time. I was really just correcting a mistake- this floor model should have a broken knob. And since I should have a new knob, this was a win-win move. Karma.

Or not, since all the floor models were either A- missing knobs or B- digital and didn’t have knobs to begin with. So I left Home Depot.

Home Depot is for poseurs anyway. Real guys go to their local hardware stores. A good hardware store will have anything- Japanese ball joints, metric window screens, socket wrenches with unusual flanges, and those little things that let you stick a polarized plug into a non-polarized outlet and risk a deadly fire. I knew a good hardware store on Cropsey Avenue. They’d have it.

No they didn’t. The store had new owners. It still looked like a good hardware store, but I don’t think much of hardware stores that also sell needlepoint kits and yarn.

Boro Park. Home to dozens of little independent electronic stores. Many of them are the ones always being investigated by channel 2 or channel 5 news for selling rebuilt products as new. I’d shopped there before. They’d sell their shoes if you made the right offer. Those stores are actually pretty good if you know how they operate and what you are looking for. I’d find the knob there.

Out of three stores, I found one guy who was willing to sell me the knob from the air conditioner sitting on a shelf, under a gray-market CD player and a layer of dust. Clearly, this a/c had been there since the parting of the Red Sea. It was old, it was not going to sell, but the knob matched.

Twenty dollars. He wanted twenty dollars for the knob. I offered five and I knew I was overpaying by $4.65. He didn’t want to haggle, he didn’t want to compromise, he wanted twenty dollars. His reason? Without a knob he would have to sell the a/c for less and maybe not sell it at all- who would want an a/c missing a knob? I pointed out that it looked filthy and wasn’t going to sell at all. He pointed out that it was in good condition. I asked him to plug it in and let’s see. He said that he had his hot plate plugged in and he pointed to it. It was as dusty as the air conditioner.

“You cook on that?”
“Soon,” he replied.

It was time to reassess my strategy. I was on my way to Elizabeth New Jersey the next day, to shop at Jersey Gardens. I knew that I wouldn’t find the knob there but it was just down the road from IKEA, the Swedish Superstore. Maybe, just maybe…..

IKEA had a ton of build-it yourself bookcases and some tasty Swedish meatballs in their ultra-clean food court but I left without anything but a “fleurgin,” or a “stzl,” or whatever they called the small set of mugs I bought. I always loved the Swedish Chef on The Muppet Show and I bet he never needed an air conditioner knob.

I was running out of options. Reluctantly, I went online to buy one. This is not how men do things. We men build things, we hunt out replacement parts, we do it ourselves. We don’t buy stuff online unless it is 35% off and free shipping from Amazon. But I didn’t have anything else to do.

The GE website had it. It was $3. This wasn’t so bad. After all, I already offered a guy five. What got me was the shipping- $3.95. It was more than the knob! I would rather go and pick it up myself from wherever they are than spend that. It isn’t the money, it is the principle. That is just a rip-off. Well, I had to order it, and to be smart I ordered two. This knob weighs a couple of ounces. Shipping for one was $3.95. To stick another in the box and ship two cost $5.95. Two dollars more! The knobs were $6 and the shipping was another $6, so two knobs cost me $12. What a racket GE has going.

They came about four days later in a giant envelope that could have easily contained thirty or forty of these things. I am sure that the envelope weighed more than the knobs. OK, it was a padded envelope, but $6 for that? And to add insult to injury the website said they would ship FedEx but the regular mailman brought them. So the actual shipping cost about $1.80 for postage and 98 cents for the envelope.

So know I had the knob, but something wasn’t quite right. It was about 1/16th of an inch too big. Not a lot, just enough to be noticeable. It also had a small dot molded into the face. The original knob did too, but this dot was painted black and the original was unpainted. Not a big deal, but just enough to bug me.

But when I put it on it fit snugly and turned like a dream.

The extra knob is safely in my toolbox.

There is a lesson here. Something about perseverance, or maybe something about technology and obsolescence. Perhaps there is a moral here about big business.

I just think that when you read this you’ll realize that I had a lot of time on my hands and nothing better to do.

But bottom line- I got the knob.