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Thursday, January 08, 2015

It's So Hard To Get Good Help These Days

http://www.votapka.com/news/
Greetings from The Tundra, where I await the furnace people whilst outdoors it is sunny and zero degrees with wind chills of -20. Thankfully, my furnace is working, as is evidenced by what sounds like an idling cement truck emanating from the basement. To coddle it, I have pitched the thermostat at a chilly 71 instead of my usual toasty 74, and I am wearing my fleece-lined spandex dreadmilling pants and a spandex camisole topped by a sweatshirt. It goes without saying that I am freezing.

I am hoping so hard that the furnace is just fine and, if it is not, that it is something trivial. This is because of my oven.

As I feared a month or so ago--and shared with you then--my oven has Retired. Yesterday, in a fit of Domestic Fervor, I decided to bake Rick a small cake. The bake time was to be 23 minutes. Which came and went, and my cake--an 8"x 8" square--took on an alarming likeness to the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The top cracked, but my cake tester remained wet and sticky. Back in it went for 3, 4, 5, 7 more minutes. Finally, I took it out and set it to cool. The result was a boggy, sunken mess with a cupcake-sized cake in the middle and hard, dry edges all around. Obviously, my oven is cycling on and off, up and down, never maintaining or even, perhaps, reaching optimum heat. (I cut out some decent chunks, drizzled caramel topping over them and crowned it all with a dollop of whipped cream. Rick was fine with it, but honestly, it was horrid.) Because this appliance is a Frigidaire (aka The Great Satan), it will have to be junked (ashes to ashes, junk to junk). They stopped making parts for it. For years and years, just to set the oven temperature, I have had to press the keypad AND COUNT THE BEEPS, EACH ONE REPRESENTING FIVE DEGREES HOW SAD IS THAT!? Here, look. This is my oven display when it is on and set to 350 degrees:

It actually looks way clearer in a photo.

Trust me; I counted the beeps.

And holy crap, my dishwasher is a Frigidaire. I. KNOW. Am I an idiot?

The furnace technicians arrive. They each look to be about twelve years old. One reassures me in much the same voice that I use to speak to my mother, who is 84. It is down to 68 in my living room as they cycle my furnace. I hear them laughing and chatting while the skin under my fingernails has gone blue and the tip of my nose is numb and icy. Half an hour later, my furnace continues to stubbornly purr along, quietly and efficiently making a liar of me. I briefly consider asking these adolescents to take a look at the oven.

As soon as I thaw out, I am going to make a new entry in My Journal Of Wrongs, Volume IV.  In it I will write down the fact that The Furnace Tweens told me the water supply to the humidifier was shut off, vindicating my months of urgent pleas to Rick to check it because of my constantly dry eyes, painfully tight and flaking skin, and parched lips.  No, it wasn't the cause of the mysterious and now absent noise, but it's likely going to be the cause of some new rumblings at the Dept.


19 comments:

  1. Ugh. So sorry. About all of it. I have a dream. It's a simple dream really. I just want all appliances--and I'm including things like furnaces and heat pumps, and let's thrown in automobile tires and major auto parts, too--to last a minimum of 25 years, preferably forever. Replacing appliances is traumatic for not only the wallet, but for the eye opener on how lacking quality is today. I had to buy a new washing machine back in the spring. The old one was at least 25 and could not be fixed without spending a lot of money. In hindsight, I wish I'd spent the money to fix it because I abhor the new one. It's a high efficiency washer with no agitator and clothes take twice as long to wash, plus it's literally ripped older sheets and other linens. It sounds like an alien spaceship while running. The guy who delivered it told us that the current washers last on average about 10 years now, so he'd see me in a decade.

    I hope the furnace fix was accomplished and didn't cost you a fortune. Most of all, I hope you're warm, Nance. I so hate being cold. In fact, it's time to throw wood in the wood stove.

    Shirley

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    1. Shirley--For $79 my furnace behaved itself until they left. At which point it refused to get above 72, turned itself off and on a few times, threw an error code that Rick did not get in time, and this morning, because techs are due here again at noon, has reached 74 and is acting perfectly. Do you think it's in cahoots with my oven?!

      RE: your HE washer. Ugh. We inherited one of the original Duet washers, and it is the bane of my existence. There is NOTHING efficient about it. I have to practically disassemble the entire thing after every load just to ensure that it doesn't mold and mildew and stink. And I read that its inconvenience doesn't rise to the level of a class action lawsuit for consumers--it was dismissed. That thing is going straight into the May garage sale, and I'm buying the cheapest Maytag available.

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  2. If its not one thing, it's another. I have an ant problem and today the ant-guy came for a second visit. While in my basement spraying, he noticed a leak in my furnace room. And a lot of mist. So, I call the plumber who came over - thankfully - and said something or the other was wrong and he'd have to order a part which hopefully he'll have by tomorrow. Meanwhile, I don't have much hot water, so it'll be a quick shower tomorrow morning. God only knows how long the leak has been leaking. I may also need a new hot water heater as it's looking "shaky" and is at least 20 years old. I'll know more tomorrow...

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    1. phoebes in sf--Holy crap. And didn't you, just for a moment, feel like smacking the exterminator? Sigh. If you can possibly do it, replace the hot water tank, too. If you don't, it will go in a week, and you'll just feel like you're Under Assault by your own home. LIKE I DO. The Furnace Fraternity Brothers did at least assure me that I was well under warranty for any parts and any subsequent visits for 30 days were already paid for by their initial visit, so there's that.

      At least you have the satisfaction of KILLING SOMETHING in your house. Legally. So therapeutic.

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  3. I was SO GLAD two years ago when Mike found an $8 part to fix our 17 year old washer. We'd been looking at new ones (I wanted a front loader!), but the reviews were all horrible. We'd already experienced unhappiness with having to replace our dryer due to space issues, so I was glad we got to keep the old washer.

    You know that noise will show up again tomorrow, right? Also, we have a humidifier that's running nonstop these days...

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    1. Bug--Buying any appliance now is a crapshoot. Literally. Ask anyone. And as cool as the front loader washers LOOK, they are junk. And worky. Don't fall for it.

      Isn't it awful what happens in the winter? I don't have to go buy big new things in any other season. And I get that the furnace will only show its problems when it's running, which is in cold weather, but honestly--I've only had to buy other appliances in winter, too. It's ridiculous.

      Does The Professor complain about the dryness, or is it just you? Rick never seems to care one way or another. It kills me, and he is impervious. Woman thing?

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    2. It's actually FOR The Professor - he'd been getting pretty bad nosebleeds & the humidifier helps. I am a lotion junkie, so I hadn't really noticed the dry air :)

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  4. UGH. I hate that kind of thing. If I'm going to spend a lot of money, I want it to be on something fun, not something practiccal. We also have a Frigidaire Stove, which had a piece break about one year after we bought the damn thing. Thankfully it does work, and was fixible. I'm with GFE, I want appliances to LAST. I had a buy a car battery the other day, which was not nearly as much fun as what I had planned to do with the money (get my hair done.) Blech.

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    1. J--You know, I spent 1500 bucks on that damn stove because it was duel fuel (electric oven, gas burners), convection oven option, too. Within about a month, a piece of trim just fell off. I had to keep snapping it back on, over and over again. The repairman came out for about 5 repairs to that effing stove, and the last time he told me that, no, he wouldn't advise a repair to the display panel because it would be a huge amount of money and he'd have to take the whole stove apart, and yada yada yada, and here we are months later and now it doesn't even work and they stopped making the part altogether and I have to get a whole new stove.

      A car battery is NOT as nice as getting one's hair done, and what a lousy tradeoff. I very much want to blame SOMEONE--ONE PERSON--for all of this disposable consumer good trash. Back in the day, I could blame George W. Bush and make it stick; I really could. Now, it just seems petty and mean. After all, he just sits down in TX and paints pictures of his feet in the bathtub. Sigh.

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    2. My washer and drier are both Frigidaire. Cue horror movie music. Ours is a front loader, which thankfully hasn't given us much grief. Yes, there are mold issues that hide, but here in CA, to use less water is a big bonus. Also, the last washer we had was small for condo living, and this is full size, so I love it for that. I can't speak to whether it's better or worse than a top loader. It seems to work fine...

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  5. When we first got married and money was extremely tight (as opposed to just 'tight') we bought our first washer and dryer from a guy who bought old washers and dryers, 'reconditioned' and sold them. We got a set of 1970s Maytags which did, occasionally break down over the next 10 years, but were so simple (a basic motor, a few hoses and valves) that, when they did, it was a simple matter for MrL to repair them - or a fairly cheap proposition for the guy to come and do it. When we moved to AZ, my mother gifted us with a new, modern pair which were far less satisfactory, broke down far more frequently - and cost a heck of a lot more to repair. I think the ideal machine is probably a 1940s Bendix, but I bet they cost a bomb now. As far as ovens go, I can sympathize, but at least you have the beeps to help you. Our oven in Korea had 3 marks: 100C, 180C, and 220C. If you wanted any other temperature, you had to sort of eyeball it, wait for it to heat up, and then (due to the low position of the oven) get down on your hands and knees and peer into the open oven to squint at the oven thermometer I had my mother send me from the US (yes, the blast of heat singed my eyelashes, but what else could I do?) At that point, you figured out whether you were over- or underheated, (I should point out that I made a number of marks on the dial so that I could reliably heat to, say, 350 or 425, but the oven's capriciousness meant that this was also unreliable) made a readjustment, and performed the exercise again a few minutes later until you finally reached the correct temperature. (there was in fact a digital readout, but it had been dead when we moved in and the landlord never fixed it.) Things were OK as long as the oven didn't suddenly turn off in mid-bake (which it had been known to do) or change temperatures on a whim during the baking process (ever baked cookies at 500 degrees? I have, unwittingly) Naturally, whenever I would call the landlord to send a repair guy out, the oven would behave itself, and trying to explain to the Korean repair guy what my complex intermittent problem was never worked. I was not sad to see the last of that oven. Glad you're warmer now. My whole facebook feed is full of miserably cold people who are snowed in and miserable. At least it's not snowing here!

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    1. MsC--But, my dear--YOU WERE LIVING IN SOUTH KOREA. That is the difference here, and it is germane. On the one hand, you can balance out your unsatisfactory oven with the fact that you are residing in and partaking of a foreign and exotic country and culture. On the other, you can say to yourself, "Well, this is not the USofA where I can toddle off to the Best Buy and peruse a vast aisle full of ranges, all with various features from varied manufacturers under the US's strict (cough) regulations of quality and choose one which will suit my needs."

      I, however, live in OHIO. In the US, it is far more reasonable for me to expect NOT to have to count beeps on a modern appliance in order to use it. Where, yes, thanks to my own oven's capriciousness, I have had the dead/meaningless digital readout (beep counting, remember?), the unstable temperature which I was unaware of until recently, and confused repairmen (which are universal, let's face it).

      I think we can both agree that the common denominator is this: It's all bullshit the world over and we should stick with Maytags, period. Do they make furnaces? I know they make stoves/ovens, and I am ALL OVER THAT.

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  6. Oh, Nance, I surely sympathize. We have steam heat from a gas fired boiler, but all it takes is a leak in one of the older pipes to shut us down. Over the last twenty years we've had nearly all the pipes replaced, but we keep crossing fingers and knocking wood to get through the winter in ou almost 75 year old house. Still, looking out at the same tundra (albeit some 20 or so miles south of your location), the chill becomes palpable. Yet, I rejoice that I am HOME! After a run in with a patch of black ice on Dec. 10, a spectacularly broken leg, three hours of surgery, six days in the hospital, and three weeks getting physical therapy rehab, I am home. I'm still not load-bearing, and my living room now houses a hospital bed, a wheelchair and a walker, plus a physical therapist twice a week--but that's all temporary. I am home. Of course, now I'm worried that my brand new Fridgidaire refrigerator will start spewing water and ice chunks at poor realprof!

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    1. Oh, welcome home, fauxprof! Hospitals, in any iteration, are certainly no places to Get Better. I am so glad to see you are back where you belong, and are feeling well enough to enter the fray here in Comments (formerly "Brainstorms" but Blogger will not fix that glitch in its programming).

      Steam heat--how quaint! Our house is the same age, but not similarly heated. Back at The Rock, however, in the Original Building, I had two radiators of steam heat, and was often treated to the melodious sounds of Water Hammer, usually when my Honors students were taking one of my nervewracking tests. It was astonishing how loud that could clang.

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  7. Oh, dear. Your talking furnace has got to be frustrating. We have a battle of the “sounds” in my household. I am always hearing suspicious noises. Mr. O., on the other hand, is deaf. Or pretends he is. Or says “it’s no big deal.” His excuse is that he survived the Mexico City 8.1 earthquake of 1985, so there there has to be a whole lot of movin’ and shakin’ to get his attention. (This also happens with car noises, which I hear constantly, having had to drive so many decrepit jalopies over the years--- paranoia runs deep.)

    We, too, have several appliances made by The Great Satan. So far, they are working O.K., but they are only a few years old, so I am Taking Note.

    We have a front-loading washer and dryer because in our condo, the only thing that literally fit into the original space for these appliances was a stackable set. Do I have to tell you there is literally 1/8 of an inch of space on either side? The alternative might have been putting appliances downstairs in our garage (our condo is 2nd floor, but with 1st floor garage), but that was way too much up and down for me to get the clothes washed and dried, and... do I need to say that my contractor husband already has the entire garage filled with a bazillion machines and supplies for his job?

    As for your oven and counting the beeps... what a PITA. Reminds me of a gas stove in the first flat I shared with 3 other girls in Madrid. The “button” you had to push to get the oven to ignite would not work unless you held it in place. Forever. We eventually found a small wooden rod that we could place between the button and the wall which was only a few feet from the oven door. Less hassle than counting beeps, really, as all we had to do was jump over the stick whilst cakes and roasts were being prepared. Everything that came out of that oven was “name of dish” + “al palo” ... e.g., instead of fish sticks, we had “Pescado al palo” or “Stick Fish” or “Chocolate Stick Cake.” Years later, when I moved into my very own tiny studio apartment, I bought what my British friends called a “mixed cooker”--- electric oven (for nice, even heating, and, yes, it did perform, but no, it was not a convection oven, they did not exist then), with a range top that had 2 gas and 2 electric burners. As you can imagine, I mostly used the gas burners for precise cooking, but the electric ones were useful for keeping things warm in the background if I just needed something on a low, steady heat, or was preparing a buncha stuff, some of which only needed simple boiling. The world is full of much fancier stuff, but that was the Best Little Stove I ever, ever worked with. Cried when I could not take it with me, but it went to a good home. So I hear ya with the failed cake. There is so much that can go wrong with cakes without having to second-guess the oven temperature.

    And regarding the “exotic-ness” of living in another country to counter the fact that appliances do not perform as they should--- well, there was a lot of compensation for that, I have to say. But it may also be interesting to note that my best cooking lessons came from friends who had the same humble equipment I was using, pots and pans that came from the fleamarket, and who produced some of the tastiest dishes I have ever eaten. Better, in most cases, than the ones produced by folks I knew who had more money and only bought German Appliances, which cost a fortune but really did last an entire lifetime. And likely still do.

    This is way too long for a comment. Sorry. I feel a bit justified, though, as it has definitely sparked intense, voluminous comments from other DoN fans. :-)

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    1. Ortizzle--Never apologize for the long comment. I revel in them.

      Husbands in The Trades or Engineering are intensely smackable, I've decided. They simply have a ridiculously high tolerance for malfunction either because they are so used to jerry-rigging stuff or because they find it interesting. In my Old Age, I am so Over It that I've merely adopted a Zero Tolerance Policy and steamroll Rick (or bully him, I don't care how it's worded) and demand that things get fixed immediately. Period. I've lived in a house that is an Ongoing Project for my entire life. I think I deserve to finally Have It Done. And working properly.

      The mixed cooker is a unheard of in the US, of course. Why can't we have that here when it makes so damn much sense? That is exactly what I want. And it's somewhat understandable--but not forgivable--that rental places have basic or substandard appliances that renters have to tolerate. But not so the American consumer who buys a new product and expects it to last for more than ten years with parts available for repair. No wonder the planet is buried in garbage and toxic waste. It's irresponsible.

      Having had my rant, I have to say that you and your roommates compensated goodnaturedly with your appliance problem. Using the stick and adding its presence to the name of each dish that came out of your oven was a fun idea. Could you imagine hopping over that stick now, at our age? We'd have to add a few adjectives/expletives to our "Stick Cake" and "Stick Pie", wouldn't we?

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  8. Oh dear, you've activated one of my "funny" story memory synapses.... it's 1977, we have bought our first house and moved in (We're still here) along with our reconditioned fridge which melted ice cream and froze lettuce. My better half wakes up that first night and says "What's that sound?" I don't hear it until she INSISTS, then I can't NOT hear it. Kind of a squeaking scraping sound at regular intervals. I track down the sound to the fridge, and next day describe it to a repair man. "Sounds like the compressor" So we buy a new fridge. Free delivery/set up. My wife at this time is a teacher and has designs on the large cardboard shipping container. We can't have it if we have it delivered, only if we pick it up. Hilarity ensues... Anyway, that night we go to bed, and THERE'S THE DAMN NOISE! It was the second hand of the clock above the fridge.

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    1. Sillyak--Oh, my word! I have such mixed reaction to this story! I'm glad you can look back and laugh NOW, but oh, my. At the time, I would be absolutely horrified.

      Sidebar: My current refrigerator of two years old routinely and randomly freezes lettuce and other crisper produce. No idea why. The repairman has been out twice. He has no idea either. It is NOT a Frigidaire. (KitchenAid)

      Also. At first, YOU DID NOT HEAR THE NOISE. What IS it with you guys?

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  9. I pun/laugh/groan therefore I exist. SOMETIMES there is a baffle in fridges below the freezer, that, if open, allows the freezing air top sink to the bottom. If not, try having the back of the shelf below the freezer packed with whatever to keep the coldest air from sinking all the way to the bottom. That, or if the door seal is leaky, the freezer will run more, leading to more cold sinking air. The sound was closest to a quiet fingernail on chalkboard sound. Now I have enough hearing loss in one ear I just sleep on the good ear side. If life hands you horse hooves, make Jello!

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Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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