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How to Install a Toilet in 53 Easy Steps

So we discovered a little water on the floor around our upstairs toilet and I determined that we have some sort of leak going on. I was in an adventurous mood – I mean, lately we’ve been painting, refinishing our stairs, changing lightbulbs, watching HGTV, etc. so I thought, “I got this.” What I meant to think was, “I eventually got this.” Here’s how to install a toilet in 53 easy steps:

  1. Mop up all the water from around the leaky toilet and pull the little shut off valve.
  2. Put down a couple of towels that you are willing to throw away. Forever.
  3. Go to Lowe’s and look at ALL the toilets. Call a couple of close friends and ask them classy questions like, “What kind of toilet do you have?” and “Does it, you know…flush pretty well?”
  4. Ask a couple of fellow toilet shoppers at Lowe’s the same questions.
  5. Ask Ed, the guy in the toilet department at Lowe’s, what he thinks. He has some great recommendations and you decide on a nice Kohler which is on sale for $189, down from $209.
  6. From the looks of your fellow shoppers, you realize the baby has probably been crying long enough in the stroller. You thank Ed for his time and determine to come back tomorrow to make your purchase.
  7. Let a couple of days go by.
  8. Drop kids off at choir and run over to Lowe’s to purchase the new toilet.
  9. Pick one from the top of the stack. Look around wildly for a forklift as soon as the bottom of the box clears the top of the one beneath it.
  10. Recover using your knee and your foot to keep from dropping it and somehow manage to get it onto the flatbed cart, sticking your foot behind one of the wheels to keep it from rolling any farther.
  11. Wonder where Ed disappeared to. Turns out it’s his day off.
  12. Get to the checkout and realize the toilet rings up at $209.
  13. Ask David in your nicest frustrated voice, “What’s the deal?” but cut him some slack because it’s his first day.
  14. Realize that you have to pick up the kids from choir in about 7 minutes.
  15. Go back to the back of the store where the toilets are with Lynn from Customer Service and find that the tiny little price sign reads $209.
  16. Express genuine disbelief. Grunt “Me, too.” when Lynn says, “I’m sorry, darlin’.”
  17. Jump up and down like an idiot when you pass by a small stack of YOUR toilet with a big sign that clearly reads, $189!
  18. Check out at Lowe’s, wiggle the toilet into the back of the van. Buckle your 5 year-old in. Put the stroller on his lap.
  19. Pick up the kids from choir and head home.
  20. Wrestle the toilet box out of the well of the back of the van. Breathe. Finally let your wife grab one end of the box, halfway up the stairs.
  21. Realize that she’s probably stronger than you.
  22. Read the 6-step directions on the top of the toilet box. Think, “Really? That’s all there is to it?”
  23. Practice your Spanish by comparing the top two paragraphs on each installation step.
  24. Gather all the tools you could possibly need to unscrew the two nuts holding down the old toilet.
  25. Have both T-bolts start turning in the thing they’re in underneath the toilet.
  26. Determine that you have to pry up on the washer to hold them in place while you use your power drill / driver to unscrew the nuts.
  27. Realize you’ve got the wrong hex bit and go back down to the garage to get the correct size.
  28. Watch the last half of a “Big Bang Theory” episode with your wife on the way back upstairs.
  29. Finally get the bolts free and remove the old toilet. Find more towels with zero sentimental attachments.
  30. Remember from the first time you ever swapped out a toilet some 16 years ago that that is JUST the wax ring – nothing more.
  31. Ask the kids to please stop asking, “Daddy, are you all right?” and assure them that you are…fine.
  32. Mildly panic when the bottom of the new elongated toilet looks longer than the old one.
  33. Take measurements and determine that all is well, with a full eighth inch to spare.
  34. Install the new wax ring on the bottom of the new toilet and notice that they don’t look much better when they’re brand new.
  35. Manage to get the new toilet flipped over without your wife’s help AND have the wax ring stay in place.
  36. The new nuts and bolts work like a charm. Hope that the directions weren’t being really strict when they warned against moving the toilet after the seal was in place.
  37. Manage to install the bolts holding down the tank.
  38. FINALLY use the level on your iPhone to make sure the tank is level.
  39. Congratulate yourself on buying that LifeProof iPhone case and express relief that there was no water in the tank yet to test it out.
  40. Install the new “non-slammy” toilet seat and lid.
  41. Make mental note to instruct 5 year-old that both of the other toilets in the house are still “slammy.”
  42. Realize that the 6-inch connector is about 4 inches too short to reach the new “comfort height” toilet.
  43. Drive to Walmart to buy a longer connector hose for $5.
  44. Drive back home and install the new hose.
  45. Turn on the water and allow the tank to fill.
  46. Make the first flush and…it works! Breathe.
  47. Put the little trash basket against the wall and notice that the PVC connection for the shut off valve seems to be slowly dripping…
  48. Put a bucket under the valve and determine to call it a night.
  49. Ponder why you didn’t call your brother to install the toilet with for you.
  50. Remember the conversation you had with him 16 years ago regarding number 30 and the resulting promises you made to yourself.
  51. Wonder why an ad for a plumbing service shows up on your Facebook sidebar. Are they just messing with you?
  52. Make mental note to call Comcast to see if you can just remove HGTV from your channel lineup.
  53. Ask your wife if she knows anything about fixing a PVC valve joint…


On Being Prepared – A Product Review Series

I’m a believer in being prepared. Go ahead…call me MacGyver, but I carry several items around with me at all times and I use nearly all of them every day. A buddy recently asked me about the flashlight I carry, so I thought I’d do a review on it – it’s the BEST one for the money…I checked, over the past 30 years. While I was at it, I thought I’d do a mini review on each item that I carry. (OK, OK! So I’m also tinkering with my website content to see how different content affects site traffic and it’s “product review” content’s turn…still…)

In addition to the stuff I carry in my pockets, I am never far from…

So, that is my EDC (Every Day Carry) list, as it’s called in society these days. I’ll get going on the reviews soon.

P.S. – Today is Veteran’s Day and I am reminded that I also carry a USAF coin from my friend Jonathan’s squadron. I promised him that I would carry it every day until he returned home, to remind me to pray for him while he is stationed overseas for an extended tour, and indeed for all of our military personnel and their families. Jonathan, I am keeping that promise every day and I thank you for all that you sacrifice for our freedoms.

(My Favorite iPhone Apps…) I mean a bit about Steve Jobs

John & Erin opening the new MacBook Pro for the first time!

Note:  This started out as a long-overdue list of my favorite iPhone apps that several friends had asked me for over the past few months. As I sat down to write it, I began to reflect on technology in general and then I remembered that today is a landmark day in the world of technology. So, I will write my list…later and I’ll finish these thoughts now. That’s just the way I roll.

Steve Jobs resigned as the CEO of Apple today. I don’t know the man personally at all, but he seems to have made quite an impact on the stuff that I work on and with every day these days. I have been a Mac guy since 1984, when I made those first AppleTalk phone wire connections to a couple of Classics at a planning company where I worked. Now I’m typing this post on my beloved 17″ MacBook Pro I purchased about a year ago in August 2010 to replace my G5 desktop (see the first photo on the right that Erin and I took with the onboard camera that first day we opened it). Back then, our hard drive was a 3.5″ diskette that we popped in when we wanted to save something. Now, as I look around my office, I have over 15 TERABYTES of disk space across various hard drives – and that’s not really a lot if you think about it. In 3 years, the terabyte will be the “new” gigabyte. Mr. Jobs hasn’t been responsible for ALL of the advances in technology, just most of the ones that have been done with excellence. And for that, Steve, we thank you.

Only a few months ago, I caught Mr. Job’s 2005 commencement address at Stanford University on YouTube. He tells three stories and it’s worth watching. Take a look – it’s about 15 minutes long.