Sunday, December 23, 2007

Caught off guard!

I wasn’t paying attention to the news – completely missed the announcement that the Fed was moving Christmas up 13 days this year.
That is the biggest single move since the nine day move of 1958, and the first substantial move in more than a decade. Most of them (like the 14 hour, 51 minute move of 1981) slip by almost unnoticed – and if you did take notice, well – it’s in the rearview mirror even before you have time to think about it.

Well - the joke’s on you, Mr. Federal Holiday Administration! Mr. Big Brother Government! My Christmas cards will -as usual- arrive late, if at all – and the Mall (Maw?) will still see no more or less of me than it usually does. I will not get all caught up in all your irrational Holiday Cheerxuberance®.
Chri$tmas will have to careen down the “Pine-Scented®”, “snow-covered" path without my meager assistance this year.

Sour grapes, you say? Sure – like I said, I got caught off guard.
Sucker-punched, if you will.
I’ll be back on the game next year, though. Just you wait.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Not Dropping Heavy Things.

I don’t feel as though I’ve got to justify my sailing hobby – or more accurately, my ‘learning-to-sail hobby’ – but if I did, this might suffice.
One of the additional benefits of learning how to control a boat is learning how to use rope. I’ve flailed at ropes for years, hoping that if I put enough loops and "knots" in them they would do a job of holding whatever needed to be held. So now, when circumstances might require you to park your horse, or you’ve got a captive, or some big pieces of scaffolding need to go from down here to way up there – it is a relief to know that no matter what else may go wrong, your knot will still hold. This knot is the bowline (pronounced “bo-lin”) and it is sometimes referred to as ‘the king of knots’.
Such was my desire to begin the mastery of rope that I taught myself to tie this knot one handed, with either hand and with my eyes closed.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It better be loud . . .

Distortion? In music? Here’s my take on it:
It’s about an impulse that can’t be restrained – or contained.
An impulse that doesn’t give a shit about the inadequacy of your tiny speakers – it must be heard. The reproduction of distortion in a record is all about that. As loud as possible . . . isn’t loud enough – that’s what we’re saying. I’m listening to “Rosalita” right now – two speakers, one about eighteen inches away from each ear – left and right. Didn’t necessarily plan that – the laptop is on the workbench below the stereo. And the stereo is turned up.
And if you are telling the father of your girlfriend that this is his last chance
to get his daughter in a fine romance
because the record company
you know that you’re going to be needing that to be loud.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why I blog.*

If you are lucky enough to own your home (check) and it is an ooold home (check) with old systems (check) and you are not rich (double check), you’ve probably had an occasion to be treated to a scene like the one above.

This is our water pump. Well, maybe it is our third or fourth water pump - not sure.
I was down in the cellar this morning to try to determine the cause of the loud noise that recently began accompanying the pumping of water.
My guess was that the vibration of the pump had caused it to shift on its platform and come into contact with related items that transmitted the vibrations to other related items until there was a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.
Please excuse the techno-jargon.

As I looked at the shiny new fittings that connected the pump to the copper waterlines of the house, I realized that I’d been here at least twice in the last twelve months.
I’d come down to the cellar for something last winter (Christmas decorations?) and heard that familiar sssssss-ing sound before I saw the water running on the floor. I turned on the light in the back section of the cellar and saw the jet of water coming from the side of the PVC coupling that threads into the body of the pump. (see Fig. 12-J) – just kidding.
The ‘pump repair’ guys (summoned in a previous emergency, no doubt) had managed to force a 1 1/4” fitting into a 1” outlet. Only a pro would attempt to do this. Or a maniac. Granted, it was probably a Sunday evening or a Global Holiday – thereby making the proper fitting totally unavailable. It worked – for a while.
Skip past this next part if you are a poor old house owner – you already know it.
I drained the pressure tank and cut the fittings apart. There’s an hour. I took the coupling out to the hardware store to be sure I was getting the right part. There’s an hour. I cut new PVC pipe to replace what I’d cut out and I dry-fitted the new parts together a couple of times to make sure they’d line up with everything that hadn’t been cut out. There’s an hour. Is it too late for me to make a long story short? Basically, you’re looking at half a day for a non-professional plumber to replace the fittings that connect a pump to the rest of your water system. Oh – I’m a non-professional plumber with about 29 years of experience here at the classroom.

About six months before this I had gone through pretty much the same process because something about our water doesn’t get along with copper. Yeah - go figure. Our water eats little holes in the copper pipes, and then water gets out in places where you really don’t want it to.
To correct this problem, repeat the process outlined above, but this time you'll substitute copper pipe, flux, solder and a torch for the relative pleasures of PVC pipe and vision-inducing solvent glue.

Next week on "This Poor Old House": Let's re-wire!

* So that I've got someplace to share stuff like this - that's why. Thank you for letting me tell you that.