Plungin’ a sink,
It’s not fun!
I fought the clog, and
The clog won!
Wanted to write,
I wrote none!
I fought the clog, and
The clog won!
Callin’ ten plumbers,
To find one!
Said, “I fought the clog, and…
And that’s been my anthem this past week. Some of you may recollect a long running battle with slow drains in my kitchen sink from previous updates. For half a year, we’ve tried industrial strength Drāno, boiling water, lye crystals, enzymes, baking soda + vinegar and— at best— any of those would only provide temporary fixes. Recently, plunging made it better for a time (as in, “still not very good”), but with me being furloughed we were trying to not spend money on it and get by.
Well, last Wednesday, the fight came to a head with a standing water clog. My wife and I joined forces to plunge both drains of the double sink simultaneously, and were sprayed with rancid water that also hit the ceiling and floor twenty feet away for the effort.
The clog didn’t budge. Plunging only forced water into the dishwasher. With a normal sink, we could attempt opening the drain tap in the S-bend where we thought the clog was to see if doing so would dislodge it. But the piping was installed improperly, and the trap was flush with the bottom of the cabinet.
Thursday, I opened a total offensive, braving the pandemic to get wire and snake the clog out. No dice after a morning of swearing.
Next, I hunted down ye olde dusty 2.5 horsepower shope vac that afternoon and made some impressive attachments and seals to the sink using duct tape. With it hooked up, I gave it a good suck for a half-hour. I used alternating pressure and a pulsing technique I perfected over the sink. I even tried talking dirty. But no, still clogged. Then I wondered if switch-hitting might work, so I went from suck to blow. I gave it a good blow. I really tried. But that frigid sink and that friggin’ clog just wasn’t having any of it…
I admitted defeat and started calling plumbers. After calling ten of them, I finally got a call back and was put in touch by referral with a “clog guy” who came Friday afternoon. He couldn’t fix it. He needed to refer me to another guy. But with him in my basement, he did show me the problem.
The twenty feet of drain piping under the kitchen sink was installed improperly by an idiot prior owner of the house. It was under code size, not hung right, and didn’t use the right adhesive. To top it off, my fight against the clog upstairs Thursday actually caused the weak joining to separate and split the pipe in the basement. It had spewed rancid goop everywhere. Because the piping wasn’t done right, it had filled up over the years with fat and soap residue now as hard as concrete. Absolutely packed. The whole thing needed to be sawed out and replaced by a different plumber Tuesday. All told, we were six days without a kitchen sink or dishwasher.
On the positive side, the drainpipes all the way to the sewer line have been professionally redone. It works great and likely won’t bother us again. And the plumbers were all wonderful guys of good humor, even with the awkwardness of social distancing while doing repairs. They really knew their stuff.
On the negative, it cost us $900 we really didn’t want to spend in our current circumstances. And that’s on top of the $400 we spent refilling the heating oil after we ran out the week before. It also was a huge disruption: I didn’t get any work done on Azure and Indigo this week because of it. :-(
However, I did get some creative work done between warfare in my kitchen and rescues by working-class heroes.
Last week, my beloved PortCon Convention canceled its 2020 event in June. They had held out a long time, but I knew it was a foregone conclusion. However, unlike many other cons that are simply trying again next year, PortCon is doing something special and running online events through Patreon from May to August. Everything is still coalescing, but I’m maintaining my pledge to run my unique brand of role-playing games as a staff gamemaster. Just online this year.
I spent some time putting out ideas and helping other gamemasters to get theirs flowing for online RPG events we could do. Also, as the 2020 theme of “D20” has either been tossed or reallocated to the 2021 con, I shelved the four scenarios I was going to run this year. Instead, I created four new games to provide a little storytelling catharsis using the “themes” floating around us in these unusual times we’re living. I switched to a pure interactive storytelling system as well for ease of an online experience— all I need to run these are a ubiquitous basic live video chat. The games allow players to create their own character for the scenario when sending in their RSVP to reserve a play spot.
Over the weekend and Monday, I got things written up. If you’re interested, you can check out the basic game premises and prototype submission forms here. Castaways and Phantom Apocalypse are old ideas I’ve decided to flesh-out for this con. REMOTE and Ex-Essentials I came up with on Saturday. None of them have set run dates yet.
Folks commenting in the past have said they’d love to join in my games, if there was only some way to make it to them. Well, with them online, here’s your chance!
And now— with the sink taken care of and stuff mostly ready for PortCon— there’s nothing to stop me from getting back to work on A Contract in Azure and Indigo…
…until our car refused to start and needed a jump after getting groceries yesterday. It’s getting checked today. Bad battery? Sensor? Engine trouble? Alternator replacement?
The excitement never ends. ;-)
Take care everyone. Be safe, and keep writing!
~Jason H. Abbott