Posted by Cantor Harris Shore, The Handy Hazzan
It was last Tuesday and I was in a hurry. First mistake. I had promised to replace an exterior light bulb above the entrance to my friend, Vivian’s house. It gets pretty dark at night in that general area, not only because of that bulb, but also because the one on the porch ceiling below has been 20 watts for apparently a very long time – probably a refrigerator bulb. Vivian has difficulty walking and seeing, so I was anxious to take care of the bulb at the top in front. I raced over to discover that it was higher up than I had anticipated, and it was an unusually shaped fluorescent. I decided to remove the old one so that I could take it to the store and match it. It was getting later and later. I only had about fifteen minutes before I had to leave to pick up Roxy at school. After knocking on the door and giving Vivian a quick “hello,” I scooted to the backyard and grabbed an aluminum extension ladder – same one I had used to go up on the roof a few months back to figure out where the leak was before calling my roofer. At that time, I used the ladder properly. At that time…. I WASN’T IN A HURRY.
It is essential to hook the top of an extension ladder to the top of the roof or any other structure we’re using the ladder to access. The rubber feet on the bottom of the ladder are not sufficient to keep the ladder from sliding out from under the climber. When I got to the front of the house with the ladder, I realized that I couldn’t hook the top of the ladder to the front (Apex) of the house….. and now it’s only ten minutes before I have to leave. At this moment, The Handy Hazzan could have had the sense to put the ladder away and leave. Vivian had done without this light for weeks if not months. What would be so terrible if she went another day or two? And so, in a senseless moment, not thinking of my own safety, not thinking of the daughter that I love and am mandated to care for… I leaned the top of the extension ladder against the stucco wall, made sure the feet of the ladder were flat on the ground, and proceeded to ascend. About five rungs up, I thought I felt the ladder slip … just a little. I stopped. It stopped… and then I cannot believe I did this… I began climbing again, albeit slowly, up the ladder. I was now about eight or nine feet off of the ground when suddenly, slip gave way to slide – a new twist on the old Simon and Garfunkle tune. The legs gave way and the top of the ladder zipped down the stucco wall, with me holding on all the way, face down. Crash! Thank G-d I had enough koach (koiyich Yiddish) – strength - to cushion my fall by bracing myself in a plank position, although nose and forehead did their parts as well. My face looked like Gregory Hines had tap danced the Twelfth Street Rag on it. My nose was bleeding and my left hand felt numb (ultimately just fine). I couldn’t be sure of my condition, although I knew that was my blood on the ground next to my face. Vivian heard the crash and when she saw me lying there she thought (kinna hera ) I was dead. “Vivian, call 911,” I yelped. She did. By the time the two fireman arrived fifteen minutes later, I was up and at the gate greeting them. Dueling for first place from among my emotions were stupidity, stupidity and stupidity. (Yes, you therapists out there… with me, stupidity is a real emotion.) Guess which one won. Poor Vivian was nearly in hysterics. I assured her I was going to be fine. This was a week ago and what lingers is a damaged left shoulder, the joint exceptionally grumpy for serving me as shock absorber. I convinced the medics that I could do without an emergency room. Finally, I drove away and directly to my union’s (Screen Actors Guild) clinic on LaBrea Avenue, where a great doc was able to put almost Humpty Dumpty Hazzan together again. Good thing Mom was available to get Roxy at school.
I now must insist to myself and you, my readers, that we cannot ever be in a hurry when it comes to safety. Our first obligation to ourselves and others is to maintain safety at all times. Unlike Vivian’s ultimate, plaintive cry, “Never go on a ladder again,” my promise to myself is “Never be stupid again and always take the time to make certain that I am working safely.A few days later it occurred to me that I would have to get back on a ladder, as getting back on the proverbial horse, and I chose to do so in a much safer kind of way on a step ladder (which I call an “A Ladder” in the companion Youtube video) for this week’s Do-It-Yourself” project: washing (exterior) windows. Here goes:
Before washing windows, or cleaning anything else for that matter, it’s a good idea to understand the Ph scale, and how cleaning products range from Acidic – not to be confused with Hassidic (0-2 Ph), to alkaline (13-14 Ph). I refer to a pretty nifty book entitled “Clean it Fast Clean it Right, edited by Jeff Bredenberg for Rodale Press, 1998. Jeff explains that there are five basic kinds of cleaning chemicals: 1. Surfactants … lower the surface tension of water on an item, making it flow more smoothly over surfaces and into tiny cracks, crevices and pores. Then the chemicals can get in there and break down the soils.
2. Alkalies – Most cleaners contain alkalies, not acids, because most soils – from hamburger grease to plain old mud – are acidic. We will be using an alkaline-based cleaning solution to clean the outside of the windows. The dirt is mostly environmental and, in fact, the grill is on the deck not far from that window. Who knows? We might have a bit of hamburger grease on the window as well.
3. Acids – for alkaline soils like lime scale, soap deposits, rust, tannin (from coffee and tea stains), alcoholic beverages, and mustard. These need an acid based cleaner that could range in strength form the mildness of a solution of white vinegar in water, to the harshness of sulfuric acid.
4. Solvents – dissolve soils instead of neutralizing them like alkalies and acids. Examples include paint and lacquer thinner, acetone, alcohol and glycerin. These chemicals are very harsh and toxic, not to mention hard on the environment. Solvents are highly regulated and for good reason.
5. Disinfectants – are for killing germs/bacteria. You may be familiar with such common disinfectants as Lysol, Pinesol, and liquid household bleach (Clorox).
For our window cleaning, I created a solution of a gallon of warm water, baking soda (about three tablespoons), a cup of rubbing alcohol, and two big squirts of dishwashing liquid. Alcohol speeds up drying. You may wish to add a little sudsy ammonia to prevent streaking.
For the longest time I thought that a bottle of blue glass cleaner and paper towels was all I needed to clean windows. (I still might do that on the interior panes.) Then someone gave me the tip that they used newspaper to wipe off the glass cleaner. That’s not a good idea. The newsprint will come off on your hands and you’ll smear the glass. Believe it or not, sudsy water is all you need. Water doesn’t streak and it costs next to nothing. On the other hand, additives like the baking soda will help cut through some of the more ornery dirt.
The secret to gleaming windows isn’t so much the cleaning solution as it is the drying of the windows. You’ve all seen squeegees and probably used them on your windshield at the gas station while pumping gas. Windows dried with a squeegee stay cleaner longer than windows cleaned with paper towels. According to Jeff, scrubbing and rubbing “with a paper towel builds a static charge on the window that attracts dust.” I’ve experienced this. Minute paper particles wind up on the glass as well. A pliable, good quality rubber squeegee adheres to the glass surface for smooth window cleaning.
To see our window cleaning technique, take a look at the video below. Let’s God’s beautiful, summer light into your home with sparkling, clean windows! … and remember, Tikkun Olam starts at home. You can fix it! - HH
11.3.13 at 3:40 pm | The Handy Hazzan and Roxy, America's favorite. . .
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10.27.11 at 6:44 pm | The Handy Hazzan is baaaack, as a dusty, antique. . .
7.29.11 at 12:17 am | The Handy Hazzan returns – with vacation. . .
6.23.11 at 12:32 pm | The Handy Hazzan teaches an important lesson in. . .
6.12.11 at 12:25 am | In honor of Yizkor Shavuot, the Handy Hazzan. . .
11.3.13 at 3:40 pm | The Handy Hazzan and Roxy, America's favorite. . . (4)
6.2.11 at 12:09 am | Blue tape, RED tape and the Big Sunday wrap-up at. . . (2)
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June 12, 2011 | 12:25 am
Posted by Cantor Harris Shore, The Handy Hazzan
This morning (Thursday, June 9) many of us were in synagogue in observance of the second day of Shavuot, which is also one of our four Yizkor (memorial) days in the Jewish calendar. We recite Yizkor on all three festivals - Sh’losh Regalim in Hebrew. Specifically, Yizkor is said following the Torah and Haftarah readings on Yom Kippur, on the last day of Passover, on the second day of Shavout, and on the eighth day of Sukkot (Shemini Atzeret). Some say we recite Yizkor on Festivals because of the vicious progroms that the Jews of Europe suffered during the Middle Ages. And there is always a special prayer reserved in memory of the six million of our faith who perished in the Shoah during World War II. This morning, memories of my beloved parents flooded my being. I will share one of them regarding my mother, not at all because I favored her over Dad, but rather because something happened when I was very young that, believe it or not, has to do with “Do-it-Yourself.” Or, maybe this lesson is DON’T do it yourself. Anyway, this is a secret that I, the Handy Hazzan am about to share with you.
When I was a little boy growing up in our little town of Phoenixville – you read about it in my very first episode – my dear mother, Martha (z’l) used to let me watch while she took her long, thick black hair down at night. Each time she let loose a bobby pin, she’d let it drop to the floor as another cascade of flowing ebony came tumbling softly upon her shoulders and down to her waist. I was such a young boychick – no, that is not a Jewish child with gender confusion - that this recollection remains a vague, almost ethereal daydream. Yet this nightly event must have been mesmerizing, for it has sparked a recurring memory throughout my life.
Decades after and until this day, whenever I see a paper clip on the ground, I pick it up. I am compelled to pick it up. Now, thank G-d I don’t need to collect paperclips in order to trim my office supplies budget, although it does recycle something useful and that’s a good thing. I am still stumped as to why this particular dream – and the one when I was twelve where I rescued an incredibly beautiful dark-haired woman from a fire – IN MY DREAMS! – I wonder why these images stick in my psyche to this day. When Mom was finished taking her hair down, she’d let me collect the bobby pins off the nubby carpet with a magnet she gave me. (Hence, the paperclips all these years later? I don’t know. ) What fun that must have been – and how vital was that evening bond with Mom.
One day … and keep in mind I was four or five years old – one day I saw one of the clips - I mean bobby pins - that must have escaped me the night before. Did I call “Mommy!?” I don’t know. Why was I alone? Was there a babysitter busy on a bathroom break? It must have been late morning or early afternoon. That solitary, glistening bobby pin was just lying there, almost directly beneath an electrical wall socket, staring at me. I looked at the openings in the socket, looked at the two prongs of the bobby pin, and decided that this bobby pin – the one that got away – this bobby pin and that socket would be a perfect match. My dad, Ralph (z’l) told me that the electrical charge from the pin when I jammed it in the socket threw me across the room. Thankfully, I was able to let go before I became a roasted, little Hebrew national. As we say in the kiddie vernacular ….. I gotta majuh owie. My little hand and part of my arm was scorched…. and I learned the hard way … which is sometimes a good way, despite the pain. Was this my first attempt at being an amateur electrician? Oi!
It is so important in life to face and conquer our fears. Just as I Iearned to swim after almost nearly drowning and went on to swim down the coast of Zuma and Malibu on countless occasions … and become a lifeguard and certified Water Safety Instructor much later in life, so I in some smaller way overcame my fear of all things electrical. … with great respect in tact. It reminds me of one of the Hebrew words for fear: Yira. יָרֵא (yârê’). More precisely, Yirah is not just “fear.” It is an awesome fear or trembling respect that we must have for G-d. And in this case, the force of electricity you bet comes from The Almighty, although humans “discovered” and utilized what G-d already created.
And so….. finally … The Handy Hazzan brings you an electrical “Do-it-Yourself” tip for the week, although a lesson in child-proofing the home would also be appropriate and maybe something we’ll cover at another time. (I know my parents were anything but neglectful, and I haven’t researched just how prevalent child-proofing was in the 1950s.) Instead…. I am going to show you how I install an (electrical) wall timer. In designing our carport/garage during our big outdoor makeover a few years ago, I purchased a pair of antique lanterns to put on the stone pilasters that flank the entry gate to our property. I then ordered three hanging lantern replicas, each of which suspends at the front of each carport bay. The automatic timer had been broken for longer than I care to admit, and this week I replaced it with a new one manufactured by Intermatic. The very first thing I did was TURN OFF THE POWER AT THE BREAKER BOX. On top of that, I took the extra precaution of using an electrical tester to prove that there was no power. The tester has two short wires with a little pin at the end of each. You touch each of them to each of the two wires at the wall. A light will go in the tester if there is power. The light did not go on, so we were safe. However, what if the tester wasn’t working? I had my assistant, Roxy, stay away from the area and I threw the power on. I used the tester again, and the light went on in the tester. I turned the power off again, and I was good to go to work.
View the YouTube link below to view the companion video for learning this “Do-it-Yourself” project.
When I visited my friends at West Side Wholesale Electric down on Beverly Blvd just East of LaBrea here in Hollywood, I learned that I had to have a very specific timer whose wiring was compatible for the two wires that I have coming out of the wall where I would be connecting the timer. This is 120- voltage, and the timer had three wires…black, red, and blue. I FOLLOWED DIRECTIONS, connecting the black wire from the timer to either of the two wires in the wall. I wrapped the wire end from that black wire around the heavier gauge source wire and secured the union by twisting a wire nut on the two of them. I then took the blue wire from the timer and connected it similarly to the other wire at the wall. I capped the remaining red wire. It is of no use in this application. There was a remaining, copper colored wire attached o the timer, which is the ground wire. I connected that to the same screw inside the electrical box that already had a thicker, copper colored ground from the source wiring. I tightened the screw holding the thin and thicker copper wire. This is all you need to know to connect your timer. The rest has to do with carefully stuffing the connected wires into the electrical box in such a way that there is room to house the body of the timer. Once you have pushed the timer in as far as it will go, secure it to the electrical box with the two silver machine screws that are supplied with the timer. If you are outdoors, be sure to cover the entire electrical box with an exterior metal housing with flip-top cover. There is usually a place to put on a padlock. Always follow the instructions when installing your timer ….or anything else. It will save you time and more important it will insure your safety. Test the timer by pushing the manual on/off to see that the electrical connection is good. Then follow the directions to program your timer for when you want it to go on and shut off. I set ours to go on at Sunset and off at Sunrise. (Hmmm … Sunset, Sunrise…. Catchy, no? Okay…needs a minor rewrite) Save electricity and money! Use timers throughout your property. Indoors, timers can be important when you are away. Set them to go on and off at different times to give the appearance that someone is home. Tikkun Olam starts at home. You can fix it! - HH
June 2, 2011 | 12:09 am
Posted by Cantor Harris Shore, The Handy Hazzan
There’s a particular kind of tape we use to mask or protect certain areas that border those parts of a wall or ceiling that we intend to paint. This is usually BLUE tape. We use it because it comes up easily when no longer needed, not taking with it any existing paint from the areas it is covering. I like blue tape. However, the Handy Hazzan is not a big fan of RED tape. RED tape often shows up when “X” number of people have to approve a certain proposal, payment, idea for any kind of changes, etc. RED tape is a lot harder to pull off than blue tape. It takes time, patience, personality, politics and more. However, without RED tape, organizations might not be able to function as well…. and some could function better with less RED tape. That requires good efficiency, a product of top management skills. My bout with a certain company in Los Angeles that provides water and power to our homes ended today after six months of GLARING RED tape. I have been all but mummified in their RED tape, all because I erroneously made an overpayment back in October of last year and wanted my credit returned to me by check as the account was closed. But that organization is “six months behind” (said the supervisor) in processing anything that they have to PAY OUT. They still want US to PAY on time, however. Have you ever tried to wait six months to pay your utility bill? Well, today was a victory. I am happy for that. So, RED tape finally became my friend, today….as timing intersected with an understanding supervisor…. and I could have avoided it in the first place if I had been more attentive with my finances.
RED tape can work in quicker and friendlier ways, as I gladly waited an extra week while the execs at the Mid Valley YMCA needed a bit of RED tape in order to decide what color vinyl, cove base molding they wanted to use in completing the work around the new carpet DW Interiors installed for our Big Sunday project. They also needed to take a look at their budget, just in case mine wouldn’t cover it. Duh duh duh dut du dah!!! In walks our final heroic donor in the personage of Fred Stifter, son of Bill Stifter who established Linoleum City in 1948. Still owned by Bill’s wife, the store has grown to a 15,000 square foot warehouse/showroom. This is the number one place in Hollywood for all your flooring needs. The company searches the world for new and interesting designs and products, staying ahead of trends in order to meet the needs of professional and residential buyers, even creating exclusive designs for its customers. Materials are available for the do-it-yourself customers – THAT’S YOU - or arrangements can be made for independent contractor installation. Red carpet for the Academy Awards, old fashioned linoleum for a retro look, home or commercial high tech resilient flooring, hardwood, laminates, sisal or sea grass—Linoleum City, Inc. has what you need. . Linoleum City is located at 4849 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90029; telephone (323) 469-0063.
While Fred was willing to give me a wholesale price on some black cove base, he had an abundance of a special order that he was willing to donate to the project. The folks at the YMCA approved the seagreen freebie – a beautiful color, actually - and I personally installed it last Thursday. Sopha Pok of the YMCA assisted.
Here’s a list of the materials and tools I used for installation; then I’ll tell you how I did it.
1. 60 feet of 6” (high) seagreen vinyl base (BTW….the 6” is usually used only in industrial settings. The 4” can look quite nice in a residential basement or child’s playroom, where the base of the wall might take a bit of trauma.
2. Tub of Taylor 2040 adhesive made specifically for this application
3. Grooved hand trowel no wider than 4”
4. Utility knife
5. Metal triangle
6. Piece of cardboard (to put under vinyl before cutting)
7. Clean, damp rag
8. Clean roller to apply pressure to vinyl when affixing to wall
9. Tape measure and pen or pencil
10. Painter’s plastic to protect the new carpet from adhesive
First, make your surface is clean. That didn’t come out quite right. Make sure the WALL surface is clean. A simple wipe down with a damp cloth should be sufficient. Wash out the rag when finished so it is ready to clean up any adhesive spots later. Next, measure the distance on one wall and then measure the same length of vinyl base. The short wall was only about seven feet, so we did it in one piece. When it comes to inside or outside corners, be prepared to cut the vinyl as it is not advisable to try and wrap it around the outside or leave it uncut on the inside corner. Cutting the molding is easy. Using the metal triangle – or a good plastic one is fine – flush the base of the triangle with the bottom of the 6” vinyl and draw a vertical line on the vinyl at the premeasured spot. Be sure to put that piece of cardboard underneath the vinyl before using the utility knife. Better to measure the length an inch or so long and have too long a piece (which you can trim) than to come up short after applying the entire piece to the wall.
Spread the painter’s plastic, covering the entire carpet area within at least three feet from the wall. Open the tub of adhesive. It has a little plastic tab. Just pull it and the whole seal should come off. The vinyl has a rough side and a smooth side. Place the measured vinyl on top of the painter’s plastic and near the wall to be covered. Take the hand trowel and dip it into the tub to get a generous amount on the trowel. (Fred gave me a trowel that was too wide and recommended that I cut it with a hacksaw. I couldn’t find mine, so I stopped by a neighborhood auto shop and asked if they could please grind about a third of it off, so it wouldn’t be too wide for the application. They were great and now I have a little one and a medium sized one. If you do that, make sure they smooth the ground edge, or it could cut you like butter.) Apply the adhesive lengthwise to the CORREGATED side of the vinyl, which is the side that must be facing up. Keep the adhesive clear of the top two inches of the vinyl and about an inch from the bottom.
That way it won’t seep out onto wall or floor when it is time to put the molding on the wall. Be sure that the top edge of the vinyl – not the bullnose or beveled edge – is on your side, the other edge next to the wall. That way you won’t have to move the vinyl once it has adhesive on it. Wait for the adhesive to thicken for about fifteen minutes after application. Then carefully pick up the vinyl holding it underneath with two hands palms up and start at an inside corner. Here’s where a helper can be important. Otherwise, you have to be the one to keep your eye all the way down the line to make sure that the adhesive side does not flip over and get all over the painter’s plastic or worse, all over the new floor covering in spots where the plastic may not be covering. The adhesive is water based and cleans up well with water if you get to it right away. Work slowly, pressing the adhesive side on to the wall and making sure that the bottom of the vinyl is evenly running along the floor. As you work, take your roller and roll firmly over the vinyl to assure strong adhesion. (The roller I found was an old artwork roller form the days when we used to do paste-ups in advertising. Those days are long gone.) Invariably, you will get some adhesive on the finish side of the cove base. Wipe it off immediately with that clean, damp rag. Remember to wash out the rag clean between vinyl strips. For the long wall, we cut two vinyl strips of about fifteen feet each. A vinyl strip thirty feet long could be a bit unwieldy. Take a look at the photos. This was fun to do, and much easier than having to miter cut and prime and or paint wood molding … and much more durable. It comes in lots of special order colors. For special order, expect to pay about $1.70 per linear foot at Linoleum City. They carry black in stock. They also have several colors in stock in the 4” cove base. If you use 4”, be sure to use a narrower adhesive applicator.
This is something you can absolutely do. Next week we’ll touch on Shavuot, fix a couple of things around the house and talk about the authentic history of handy hazzanim in American and Europe. At one time, some of our greatest hazzanim worked at a trade while still remaining Shaliach Tzibur of the congregation. Until next time…. Remember….Tikkun Olam starts at home. You can fix it! - HH
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