When the guy came to inspect the furnace, I told myself to recall the lessons of the last inspector: he would find something that needed fixing, and say he could do it right now - otherwise he could come back later, but it would cost more. That irritated me. He called his boss to see if he could get the price down for me, and I thought am I buying a used car? Will he throw in the floor mats and the undercoating next?

It was a morning of home appointments - first someone to look at something I want to do with the cabinets. Knock out the top wooden pane, replace with opaque glass, light the space. This reduces the useable space in the cupboards, since the top shelf is always a jumble of stuff you rarely use. Now it will be a space for objects chosen for their silhouette! Useless but nice-looking.

I had explained this in detail to the nice person at Home Depot who took down my exact particulars to convey to the person who would come to my house. This person came to my house this morning and said “that’s not something we do.”

Jeezum Crow -

Uh. Okay. Next: the Metropolitan Airport Commission guy to do an air-quality test. I said it’s a busy day, the furnace guy’s coming next! He said uh . . . actually the furnace is mostly what I’m here to test. But we can reschedule. I’ll go up in your attic and check that until he gets here.

This he did. Ought for two, though. The boiler came, and I said I’m just wanting an expert to check out the odd pipe noise. Great! He said. We had a laugh about the guys who find something that needs to be fixed now and charge you arms, legs, ears, noses.

After five minutes he called me down and said “How’s that sound?”

Sounds great! What did you do?

“Added water,” he grinned. Ah. I have no idea how to do that, I’m afraid to say.

He said he could install a hands-free water-adder-type thing, and he’d take out my old vacuum tank. I think that’s what he said. “It’s optional. You want it, it’s $2600. But you might want to look at this. You got a leak.”

I did. But I’ve had water in that spot before. There’s some kind of overspilling pipe-type thing that goes right into a depression in the concrete that seems made to hold a few drops here and there.

“I thought it was your water heater -“

“Glass tanks,” I said. I knew that much.

“True, but it’s not all glass. Anyway, they’re fine, but they’re old. They were put in 26 years ago, and the lifetime on those is about 25 tops. Now it’s even less. Now it’s ten. Problem when they get this old is that you’re just heating sediment, mostly. Anyway, it’s not that, it’s this.”

He pointed to a valve-type pumpy thing - I don’t know, it was red. Ran a finger around the cowling; it was pulpy and moist. He said it was rusting and would fail, and when that happened all the water in the system would want to get out. I’d want to have to that done. Could be just where the pipe joins, but the threading could be all rusted. The boiler’s a quarter century old, and this will happen.


Well, I’ll have to think about that, I said. If I did that, could you do something with all these pipes in here? I mean, it’s just a mess. Pipes everywhere. This is where we enter the house from the garage, and it’s so industrial.

He said no, not really, not in any way that would make it worthwhile.

“Could you gather up all the wires that run from the zones to the dampers?”

He grinned and said “well I could bunch ‘em and zip tie them, but . . .”

Then . . . then he gave me a devilish smile.

“Or . . . or I could replace the boiler with a high-efficiency unit that would fit in the corner over there. Take out all the pipes from your boiler here. And it’s a water heater, so you don’t have to replace the two old heaters you got there. You get the whole room opened up.”

“How much?”

He quoted a price that was . . . not insubstantial.

“When could you do it?”

And he grinned again.


“Oh get out. No way.”

“Could. I’d rather have a whole day to do it, though.”

See, my wife has been unhappy for a long time with the boiler room, mainly because it is, as I said, where we pass through every day to leave and arrive. This would transform it. AND it would be proactive, not reacting to an emergency.

“Bid me up, brother.”

And so it came to pass that the service call I was insistent on holding to $59.99 ended up being a complete overhaul of the entire system. But I’m happy. It’ll be fantastic.

One day. It is an amazing thing, this country, this system.









I feel so bad for the building on the left.
On one hand, it might be happy to have survived, and have its turret top still intact. So many of those were lost. It also stands as a rebuke to other corner buildings that don’t have rentable turrets. But it seems like an abandoned monument of a culture that existed before another culture came along and built the building across the street.
“Let my friend Kevin do your building. He’s pretty good at this. He really has a feel for the soul of a building.”
The number of poor decisions made over this building’s lifetime is remarkable.
Eyes, nose, surprise mouth
“Joe, that second story you ordered arrived today. Let’s take a look . . . oh, I’m sorry, it looks like they sent the wrong size.
The VIP building is avoided by anyone with a sense of order, because it DOESN’T LINE UP AUUUUGHHHH
Interesting how the adjacent building seems to use the same stone, but has a different cornice line. Well, I’m sure whatever comes next won’t be too alarming for the anal-rententives bothered by the VIP, and -
The cornice is off just enough to make you wonder if it was impossible, or if it bothered anyone involved,
Variety store once, now store no more
Sign’s about the right length for F. W. Woolworth.
Amazing quantity of frosting up there:
“Fine, fine, your mother can live with us in my new office block apartments, but I want to make it clear her quarters are completely separate from our home.”
I get an uncomfortable sensation in my chest when I think about those windows. Whether they were always like that. Whether they were always thin with a board in the middle. Why.
Why why why
“Dammit, Fitzwilliams, you knew I advertised my building as the tallest in town, and then you went and did this. Everyone knows tallest means the most floors. All right, technically, you’re just as tall but you know what I mean.”





Were all the thin windows like this, and I’ve been unaware all the years?
One’s blind, the other’s mute
The poor BARBER building got mummified.
You really get a sense of the quantity of the old stock, don’t you? It’s remarkable how much there is. Sandblasting, some new windows - downtown would look incredible again.
From the “tornado picked it up, carried it twenty mile, dropped it down on another building” school of design
Look at those capitals:
That’s no order I know. Or anyone else.
Halfway through the job of whacking off the cornice, someone realized how crappy the building looked:
What’s entombed behind the screen on the left, who knows. What the big blank space was on the Hale building, who knows.
Actually, we do.






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