Wednesday, June 23, 2021

It's Typewriter Day!

      Or one of them, anyway.  The Europeans have their own, on 30 April, for their guy who invented one.  The nice thing about holidays is they they're very rarely either-or.

      Ours -- and the world's -- celebrates the day Christopher Latham Sholes and his partners were first granted a U. S. patent, 23 June 1868. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Early Results Are In

      A few responses to my self-test on the subject of hypocrisy have arrived.  So far, they indicate that respondents believe it is perfectly okay to say one thing and do another yourself -- it's only damning when someone else does so, especially if they are someone of whom you disapprove.  (I'm not immune to this myself.)

      How interesting.

Monday, June 21, 2021


      There were a couple of items I was thinking of blogging about, but you know what?  One is simply contentious and the other, well, the other will fuel the worst kind of tinfoil-hat speculation instead of the careful consideration it deserves.*

      Some days, I just don't much feel like poking at scary things with a stick.  Especially if I don't have anything constructive to add to the discussion.  People are already way crazier than I ever expected.  Why add to it?
* Here's a hint for the latter: Sir Arthur C. Clarke covered the general topic in two of his Tales From The White Hart stories, "Big Game Hunt" and "Patent Pending."  There's a fellow at Columbia University making good progress on it right now.  It's a very deep rabbit hole and tinfoil is not going to help.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Everybody Under The Microscope!

      This article about our current politics is uncomfortable reading.  The writer doesn't come at it from the same angle I do -- and he's upfront about that -- but nobody's corner of the present political divides is spared and none of them come off as shining examples of the way forward.

      His analysis of the big picture looks pretty close to me.  It's certainly worth your time to read it all the way through.  Even if you decide he's off-base, it's a good look into another person's perceptions of where we are and how we got there.

Two Questions

      If you are one of those people who believes hypocrisy to be an especially damming sin, I have two questions for you.

      Please read and answer each one to yourself before proceeding to the next.  Be honest.

   First Question:
      Do you believe it is important to respect and obey the laws of our States and nation?

   Second Question:
      Do you always drive at or below the posted speed limit?

     Man, some mornings I just hate having to look in the mirror....

Saturday, June 19, 2021


      Spent the day doing laundry and cleaning up around the sink.  Tomorrow, I'll see how confident I feel about the plumbing project.

Friday, June 18, 2021

A Reminder

      It's reminder time again: while I do encourage comments, not all of them get published.  In particular, comments that I think are overly inflammatory, combative or invidious will not be published.  Comments making unsupported claims will not be published and may be mocked.  Obscure comments will be investigated and anything I can't figure out (oh, guess!  This will be such a surprise) will not be published.

      And comments that simply repeat talking points from online, cable or over-the-air pundits and opinionaters?  Those don't get published and are likely to result in an invitation to go read some other blog.  Especially when it's miserable, wormtongued undermining of confidence in the institutions, Constitution and conventions of our country.  I can't prove some of those nasty little frat boys and desk-pounders get checks from Vlad and Xi's governments to sow poison -- but if they were, what would they be doing differently?

      Be mindful of who you're following uncritically.  None of them have your best interests at heart.

      P. S.: if you couldn't hold your own in a one-on-one fight with an enlisted person serving in our armed forces, you don't get to talk smack about them to me.  Go try it at a bar popular with service members near a military base.  See how that works out for you.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

They've Got Me Outnumbered

      The dishpan thing works okay -- but it's a lot of work.  Having a cat who is intensely interested in the process of carrying a dishpan full of partially rinsed dishes to the water source and bringing them back fully rinsed makes it even more work.  Holden Wu is definitely a member of the Underfoot Wu family.  I've cut way back on the amount of cooking I do.

      I'm hoping to buy plumbing parts Friday and do the work Sunday.  Between then and now, I'll do a better investigation of the source of the leak and modify my plans accordingly.

      Tam was unable to get to the lawn and I can't run a mower or weedwhacker yet.  (All that vibration is too much.)  I admitted this to our neighbor by way of apology, and she promptly offered to have her lawn guys take care of the front yard!  That's when you know you have a good neighbor.  They showed up and had it done in a half-hour this morning.

      There's still so much to do and I'm not done adjusting to the changes in my vision.  Sometimes it seems like I spend all my time scurrying with a tidal wave arching over me, barely managing to stay ahead.  Tonight's job is trash-gathering and litterbox-changing, so we'll be ordering out for dinner.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

We've Got 'Em Outnumbered

      In case you are wondering, there are about two and one-third Americans for every one Russian, so in a fair fight, we can whup 'em easy.

      Small wonder Gospodin Putin acts antsy: he's out of his depth and he knows it.  You can fuss all you like about the current (or previous) Commander-in-Chief, but U. S. Presidents don't win wars; we don't even let them declare wars.  It's the boots on the ground that do the winning and the supply lines that keep them winning.  Better fed and better supplied citizen-soldiers have a long history of winning over tough professionals -- often not with any great brilliance of plan or elegance of execution, just the long, difficult, ugly slog. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Bug-Lady. Also, Plumbing

      Behold, the Bug-Lady:
      After cataract surgery, they've got me wearing tape-on eye shields when I go to bed.  They protect my recently operated-on eyes, mostly by keeping me from rubbing them while half-awake.  I'm supposed to wear them every night for at least a week -- two days to go.

*  *  * 

      After washing dishes in the kitchen sink last night using water hauled in big bowls from the tub spout -- two days worth, and I did a lot of cooking Sunday -- the leak is strongly correlated with using the tap in the kitchen, but not with running water down that drain and it doesn't appear to be dripping when the tap's not running.

      This is relatively good news.  The previous homeowner did his own plumbing, with a fair degree of competence but a complete unawareness that you can't intermix soldered copper and threaded galvanized-iron pipe, despite the existence of simple adaptors.  Run water through it and there's some electrochemical activity between the two metals; the iron pipe rusts at an accelerated rate, the copper goes green early, and eventually it forms pinholes and weak spots.  There's one of his mixed-metal improvisations under the sink, with a shutoff valve that feeds both the sink and (still defunct) dishwasher and the iron portion is rusting.  (There's a right way to do this when you have to, a "dielectric union" with an insulating material between the copper and iron.  But it's best avoided unless you have no other choice.)

      Up top, I have a "coronavirus improvisation:" the actual spot of the faucet had developed small leaks early last summer and I gave it several wrappings of self-amalgamating tape rather than replacing it -- the shutoffs are iffy, one of them being part of the rusting assembly, and I wasn't confident I could identify the right flexible jumpers for the replacement fixture and I didn't feel like having a plumber in just then.  But it leaks, pooling around the base of the faucet and running into the sink basins. I'm not confident it's not trickling down the plumbing connections insde the cabinet, every so slightly, and I'm just not finding it.

     The solution to both of these is to replace the whole thing. Th pipes that come up under the sink are 1/2" copper.  I can buy "SharkBite" push-on fittings (which I have used before) and replumb the shutoffs, distribution and end sections where the hoses for the replacement faucet screw on.  I already have a replacement faucet and I have replaced them in other houses in the past, though it's been a dozen years or more.  I will probably have to buy a small collection of parts and a new "basin wrench," a wonderful specialized tool that helps with the hardest part of the job. 

     I ordered a cheap video borescope that should arrive soon, so I can check in the hidden area between cabinet bottom and floor and see if there's anything lurking there without having to do a lot of drilling and sawing.  And just in case, I ordered some inexpensive plastic washpans: if I'm going to have to use water from the bathtub spout to wash and rinse dishes anyway, I might as well sit on the floor, put washpans for wash/rinse/drain in the tub and do dishes there, and not be slopping gallons of water on the floor.  Yes, it's awful (and I plan to be using paper plates and eating takeout dinners until I fix the kitchen sink), but it should do for awhile.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Today, Possibly, Eyeglasses

      If all goes as planned, I should be able to get some temporary glasses today.  At least that's the hope.  I can't get much done without a better solution than the expedients I have been using.

     UPDATE: got them!  The optician's staff warned me, "It may take some time to adjust to your new glasses."  I walked out with them on under my dark post-surgery-issued sunglasses and started to smile.  I stretched out my arms in the middle of the shopping mall parking lot, turned around slowly and chortled with joy.  I felt like Charlton Heston, watching the lovely film of nature as Edward G. Robinson is being euthanized, seeing trees, flowers and wildlife for the first time and exclaiming, "I never knew!"  It was that big a difference.  I have not seen this clearly in decades.  

     The glasses are from a Lenscrafter's franchise.  They were quick, efficient and completely in tune with my desire to pick from lens and frame combinations they could make that day.  They had them done in less than an hour; I went to the nearby Target and kind of dawdled shopping, figuring it would take however long it took.  Instead, the optician sent me a text saying the glasses were done, well before I had reached the checkout.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Bad Timing

      From the "Oh, Like I Needed This" department: I went down to my basement ham-radio setup to while away some time while the laundry ran, only to find a slow drip of water had started, apparently not long before. There were just a couple of drops of water on a typewriter awaiting repair, and a little more on the cardboard box it was in. The James Millen Co. VFO under it was dry. All this was sitting in my well-used office chair.

      I figured it was a one-time thing, from scrubbing my hairbrush in the kitchen sink right before (horrendous, it was). My hamshack is under the kitchen -- not a great location, but it was a cozy spot next to the stairs, handy for antenna feeds because it's near the center of the long axis of the lot and it was already wired for power.

      I went to the other side of the basement, moved laundry from the washer to the dryer and when I returned, water had been dripping on the chair.

      So the chair is outside drying now. Investigations in the basement aren't revealing any spraying pinholes or iffy connections in the pipes or drain and a search under the sink doesn't find any dripping water -- but there's a hidden area from the bottom of the sink cabinet to floor level, the "kick" about 4" high. The previous owner did a lot of his own plumbing, with a carefree disregard for the intermixing of copper and galvanized-iron pipe. This has made for problems in the past and there may be another of his copper-iron-copper unions hidden in that kick space.

      For right now, I'm going to keep an eye on it. If I have to drill some holes and saw out an access opening in the bottom of that cabinet, I will -- but not four days after cataract surgery, not unless I absolutely have to.

      The fun never ends.

     UPDATE: The dripping appears to have slowed markedly overnight.  For now, it appears to be strongly correlated with running water from the tap in the kitchen sink, which I have avoided doing this morning while continuing to use the drain.