Sunday, June 26, 2005

Reduction to a previously-unsolved problem

A church between the babysitter's house and my office had the following slogan on their billboard: "You can tell how big a person by what it takes to discourage them." Why you gonna cut me like that, billboard? I thought we were friends.

The billboard knows it's been a couple of weeks since I tried to install a baby gate at the bottom of our stairs. Tried and failed, as follows:

3 months ago: Baby starts really crawling for the stairs. Block stairs with coffee table. Baby can't crawl under coffee table, cries a little, resumes efforts to disassemble Mega-Blok baby-trap.

2 month ago: Baby learns to crawl under coffee table, instead of learning to walk. Way to develop, offspring.

1 month ago: Did you know there are baby-proofing experts? They cost $65 per hour.

2 weeks ago: Went to Home Depot. Bought a board, cut and sanded it. Examined area for attachment. Took two plastic zip-ties, attached board for trial run. Seems to work. Removed board by snipping zip-ties.

Also, the board is narrower than the gate mounts, it'll look like crap and violate the instructions. Fine, I'll live with it. They're not sharp, it'll be fine.

I screwed toggle bolts into the wall for the hinge, but measured wrongly, so I had to remove the bolts. This dropped a couple of the toggle nuts (spring-loaded butterfly doo-hickeys) down into the dead space of the wall. HELL, out of toggle nuts.

Back to Home Depot. Bought more toggle bolt packs. Put gate on mounts, swung it into place, only to find... I installed the hinges too low, compared to where the latch mounts can be mounted on the metal bannister (The instructions say DO NOT INSTALL MOUNTS ON METAL BANNISTER.). That one board's not going to do it.

At my absolute limit, I quit and drank beer(s), about which the instructions were silent. Oh, billboard, is there anything you don't know?

So, the whole project laid** in an accusatory fashion at the landing at the foot of the stairs. There are two steps after the landing, which is also a violation of the instructions.


I spent a lot of time staring at the project. I knew I hadn't done enough planning the first time around. I was rushing before, and everything I did was easy and fantastic on a mechanical level, but didn't make sense once assembled. Swing gate back, forth. Think. How will this work?

Hmm... "I'll drill the holes for this first, and that'll be the easy part! Then I can mount the board, figure out where to re-install the gate hinges, install the gate hinges, and I'm done! Piece of cake". Okay, let's do a run-through, see if that works.

I fit the gate latches onto the gate, to see where it would fall on the board. See, I'm planning! Think think think. Hmm, does it work?

No, I cut the board too short. If I put one of the latches on, the other latch needs to be affixed two inches past the end of the board. Pause to eat chocolate brownies in despair.

Cursing all the while, I measured the empty space. I am going to go back to Home Depot, get a chunk of lumber 1" x 3 1/2" x 28", and then it's on.

It is on like Donkey Kong.

** I tried to confirm the correct way to to say this, but the two grammar sites I checked were most unhelpful.
PS 'lain?' What kind of word is that? Who says 'lain?' Grammar, I defy thee.
PPS had to stop myself from typing GRAMMER. Too angry to proofread.


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