Sunday, June 29, 2008

Installing a Shower Door

I recently installed a shower door myself. Bottomline, would have preferred to pay a handyman, but the experience is worth sharing.

Choice of door: There are several options around framed vs frameless glass, silver vs brass finish, clear vs frosted or designer glass, door size (28-30", 30-32" etc). Frameless glass looks more sleek, but is more trickly to handle during installation and use. Clear glass shows your tiled shower stall or tub better, but will require you to keep it spotless. The door size is important so it fits precisely once installed. The specs are very important, so you should measure your shower stall and match it right. Otherwise, the door may not fit in your shower stall and will be useless (water will splash outside).

Ordering & Delivery:
The stores usually carry only framed doors or frosted glass, so you may have to order clear glass or frameless doors online. I explored in Home Depot, Lowes, OSH, and ordered online from Home Depot. It was a Kohler Fluence(R) frameless, clear glass that is meant for a shower stall. The cost was around $250. Either store or online, it is better to get it delivered, as this stuff is glass and can be unweildy.

Installation: Ironically, the local Home Depot store told me they don't know installers they could refer me to, since the store sells another brand. I couldn't find a handyman easily, so I was on my own. I went through the first few steps of installation, and those are pretty straightforward, shoving one piece into another, screwdriver job, and marking for holes.

: You should make sure you get the pivot side and the hinge side correct, or your door will hit your shower handle (you may not be able to get inside).

There is a hacksaw and filing job to get the base piece fit precisely - not difficult, if you have some experience with a hacksaw before. If you haven't used one, this could be the opportunity to learn. The most difficult part was drilling 8 holes on the wall tile of my bath. This almost took me a month, finding the right drill bit for porecelain tile, and carefully drilling each hole through the wall, without breaking the tile. The masonry bits are pretty useless to get a grip on the tile to start with, as well as to drill through, and what worked finally was DeWalt drill bits (OSH, ACE Hardware carries them for around $5). To gain confidence, test by drilling on a similar spare tile lying in your garage or somehere, so you get a feel for how much pressure you can comfortably apply. A corded drill with an extension cord is a much better choice than a cordless drill, as it is going to take a long time to get through the tile (Each hole was more than 40 minutes off and on drilling, in my case). As you drill, have someone spray water where the tile and the drill bit meet, so it keeps them both cool. The wall anchors do not fit into the hole size they recommend, so I had to try a few other types that matches the wall, weight and hole specifications. I finally used a wall plug and different screw than what was given.

Caution: This is not the same as putting a picture frame on the wall, so you have to be careful what you pick matches the wall type (dry wall, tile, wood etc), the depth and width of the hole, and what type of anchor can withstand the weight (like 200 lbs).

Once you get past the drilling, you need to carefully move the glass from your garage or outside to the bath. Use 2 people for moving, and use the carboard and foam so you dont ding or scratch it. The way the glass sits on the hinge wall frame is on 4 screws that should be done carefully so it is right the first time, so the door fits snugly with the opposite frame. Caution: Adjusting it by unscrewing and screwing back and forth loosens the screw (they don't tell you this in the manual), and holding up the heavy glass to make this right is unweildy.

The rest is like applyling caulk around and stuff that is pretty easy.

I think they can make it more installer friendly, with a few changes to the design. The manual could be more proactive with warnings and better pictures - at least they can have a video or better stuff online, and refer to it from the manual

I have a close to perfect installation, and it looks sleek, but it was a tough job for someone like me, between novice to amateur.

Suicide - counseling for students

Just one day after my blog on the high suicide rate in India, this news came out in The Hindu newspaper... The state of Tamilnadu in India has announced free psychological counseling to students in 62 colleges! Check out this link.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Suicide rate in Japan

It was surprising & sad. Some 33,000 people killed themselves in Japan in 2007. Here is the related news link.

It was hard to beleive this would be the case in an advanced country like Japan. What is also surprising is the US has half that rate.

What is not surprising but even more sad is 25,000 farmers committed suicide in India in 2007. That's just farmers - the total number goes beyond 100,000. It was something like 3 suicides every 15 minutes. Link with some stats. It was not surprising to me because life isn't easy in India, with so many facing debt problems, family issues, parent imposed peer pressure and what not.

Ultimately, the cause is usually a mental depression or disorder that triggers people to commit suicide. We hope more people call suicide prevention hotlines before taking that drastic move. We can also hope that families and society in general communicates better, stay knowledgeable and sensitive to mental condition of individuals, so much of this is prevented in the first place.

Beware of smoke

There are a lot of "forest" fires around the San Francisco bay area past few days, resulting in a lot of smoke in the air. We could tell by the smell, the moment we step outside from home or office. I was watching related news on TV - they asked people to stay indoors with AC on if they can, especially if one has lung conditions like asthma. Kind of obvious advice, but they also said something no so obvious - sometimes you can't tell by the smell, but harmful particles are in the air when such fires are going on, and inhaling them is equally dangerous. Breathers beware!

The same applies if there is an indoor fire. Obviously, fire kills, but what is not so obvious is smoke also kills. If you have inhaled smoke inside a building that is on fire, it has enough toxic or inflammable particles that can damage your lung tissues or cells. People have died of pneumonia a week later of inhaling such smoke, though they escaped without external burns from the fire.

So, next time you see a fire inside, just get the hell out. And, vice-versa!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dasavatharam - the movie review

I got to see this new Kamal movie Dasavatharam over the weekend. I guess I was expecting more given the hype, but came out with a lukewarm feeling about the movie. It seemed more like a reincarnation of Micheal Madana Kama Rajan, rather than 10 incarnations!

First, the Rangarajan Nambi episode is a bit gross to watch with family. The scenes are well taken, and Napolean has done extremely well sitting throughout on an elephant. I think the legend is Nambi fell by himself into the water along with the statue - not chained up as depicted - they were clear upfront that they have used a figment of imagination. Legend also has it that 2 of Ramanuja's disciples had their eyes gorged out, so we can't give a clean chit to the king. It was a good way to convey the message that people will find divine identities to fight about - when Allah and Jesus weren't around, they picked on Vishnu & Siva, though the Gods have nothing to do with these fights.

The idea of deadly virus and all that is good. The scenes are designed well (especially tsunami related), and somehow linked to the main storyline. What bothered me was the need for so many characters, which didn't look like Kamal at all. The make up as President Bush, the granny, the white terrorist (Keith Fletcher) the CBI officer (Naidu), tall muslim, the social worker (Vincent Boovarayan?), Japanese karate master was all too much. Since the world knows Kamal is a distinguished actor that can do any role, I don't think this proved anything new.

I was actually expecting the avatars will happen in sequence (just like the original Vishnu's 10 avatars). But, all of these characters were mixed, and didn't look like Kamal, so that was disappointing. If I compare this with Austin Powers, where Mike Meyers comes in about 4 roles, I'd rate Austin Powers much higher than Dasavatharam. The dialog, the comedy, the scenes are structured and coordinated much better in Austin Powers, and it doesn't make you toss in the chair at times, wondering how much longer is this going to be. In Dasavatharam, some of the tamil is too intense, the Japanese tamil, telugu mix and plenty of english is a strange combination. I think director Ravikumar is also running out of steam - Sivaji also has a similar formula and somewhat a drag towards the end.

The final message is also good (in complex tamil, though) - there needs to be a majority of rational people for religious beliefs to be replaced with scientific thinking.

My dad didn't like it, and my wife wanted to see it again and I was in the middle. Overall, an ok time pass, but could have been done way better to live up to the name and hype.