random stuff as usual

The new furnace blower motor is in and much, much quieter than we’ve ever known this furnace to be. It groans a bit the way shaded pole motors do, but we’re not going to be living with it for very long. With any good kind of luck we’ll be taking possession of the playhouse tomorrow, so my resources will be going into that from now on.

Just hangin’ around talkin’ last night, Amethyst and I tallied our anticipated savings resulting from the move, and calculated that the net result is a reduction of about 70% of our monthly housing (including utilities) costs. I said wow to that. I’ll be ditching about 90% of the yard work and 100% of the tree work, too, which is perfectly acceptable to my broken body.

As such things always do, my greenhouse idea has grown. I was thinking of just a simple insulated hoop for season extension, but now I’m thinkin’ I might just be able to get four seasons, without supplemental heat, out of a somewhat more substantial structure. The challenge is that I’ve got to keep the thing small, ostensibly impermanent, and portable, like a garden shed — I can’t take advantage of enormous thermal mass, and the volume of the space is so small that it’s infeasible to manually maintain the environment. Fortunately, I’ve got just the right professional background for it and useful things that used to be outrageously expensive to do are now crazy cheap. The energy management might be my downfall, but the technology stuff I’ve got handled. It’ll be fun.

Oh shucks, the night has got away from me. I’m off. Also, going away to bed now.



Eh fuggit

So it ain’t a bearing and I’ve got to buy a whole new motor. And the overtemp/overpressure relief valve on the water heater next to the furnace was peeing on the floor while I was working on the furnace, so there’s now a new valve on the way…

On the up side, I decided that rather than removing and working inside the cute little junction box that’s both a lot of bother and responsible for a few cuts on my hands I would install plain old power plugs in the motor leads and not deal with the damn box at all. Off to the hardware store we went, and while there one of the guys who works there told us that one of the girls who works there is selling a mobile home… and now we’re buying it. I’m not a big fan of mobiles, but WTF. All of the appliances went into the place in March of this year and are either new or, in the case of the washer and dryer, newly refurbished. And unlike this place that one has fiber internet already installed — bonus! We’ll be escaping well more than half of our monthly housing expense, too.

The place needs some work but nothing major and nothing beyond my existing skills and recently limited ability, so we’ll just make a hobby of it. I foresee a small aeroponics greenhouse (a hoophouse) coming soon. A seasonal one as dictated by our climate — we’re effectively in winter for about half the year and it gets really freaking cold in the depths of it. I figure that if I’m really crafty and unusually lucky I can squeeze a six month growing season out of the hoophouse, and would be perfectly happy with it. It’ll be nice to spend the winter planning the next planting again. It’s been too many years since I was able to do that and my mental health has suffered because of it.

Well, that’s the excuse I’m using. When I have plants around I put most of my crazy into their care, which provides the perfect cover. My last garden somehow became a landmark and got me a reputation all over town, so I could be crazy about it right out in full public view and everyone approved. I became the garden guru. It’s always best to channel the crazies into something of which people approve, I think.

Oh god is that blower motor loud. Dammit, dammit, dammit. I am so ready to be out of this money pit. It’ll only look like a downgrade from the outside.

Life’s funny sometimes. We hadn’t gone to the hardware store to buy a mobile home. We hadn’t ever discussed buying one, even. Eh, fuggit. Embrace the weird, I say.

Spare parts in the sticks.

My day began well enough, as most days do, with coffee mug in hand for the long commute down the stairs and across the family room to my office. I sat down looking forward to the day ahead, but just then the furnace blower made an awful racket. Just as I got to the machine I heard the unmistakable groan of a stalled rotor so I yanked the power cord out of the socket and said some stuff. Among the things Dinkytown ain’t got are electric motor shops or even appliance repair people, so I had to get a move on right quick in order to have heat for overnight. It’s forecast to stay above freezing, but I’d rather it be a bit better than that on the warm side of the wall.

Amethyst had driven the truck to work so my toolbox was downtown. At least it was a nice day for a walk.

Once I got the blower assembly out of the furnace and the motor out of the blower, I was ready to get on the phone. The ear hook on my high zoot douchetooth headset snapped in half. Of course.

The guy in one of our neighboring towns who advertises motor repair and parts doesn’t actually repair motors or stock parts. The shop a couple of towns beyond that one didn’t have the motor I need in stock. The shop in Grand Junction has the motor I need but I couldn’t get there before they closed. The shop in another neighboring town in another direction said they had the motor, and would be there even if I arrived a little after five o’clock so I dashed out the door and hit the road. And they were indeed there when I arrived at 5:03PM, and the receptionist had a new motor in an unopened box there waiting for me. We opened the box, and found a motor nothing like the one I need.

A couple of the HVAC techs took my old motor to see if they could find something suitable in the warehouse… but couldn’t. They did, though, shoot some lubricant onto the thing which magically freed the rotor. I drove an hour to get a spritz of penetrating oil and an hour back to my own damn garage where I keep my own damn penetrating oil.

That’s just how shit happens when you live in the sticks.

In reinstalling the reassembled blower assembly with the miracled motor inside, I found the exact worstest combination of body position and muscle strain to lay myself out. I really had no choice but to lay back on the floor and wait for the pain to subside, and then I found that I had to lay there some more to regain the ability to get my ass up off of the floor again. What a fine day, eh?

I did manage to get the furnace all put back together with only one missing lock washer that somehow went AWOL when I wasn’t looking. I’m not pointing a finger at Miss Awesome, but she does like to play with the pieces when she helps me fix things. And the darn thing ran, too, when I plugged it in. The blower, that is, not the cat. It knocks and rumbles, but the parts going round and round make the airs go up and out, so it’s good enough for tonight.

With the excitement over for the moment, I got to thinking that maybe I shouldn’t trust the word of the guy at the shop who didn’t have the motor in stock about how the thing was built. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to use just cheap-ass bushings on a motor shaft that’s carrying a directly mounted squirrel cage, or that bushings would last 38 years in that misapplication. Hmmm. On Saturday I’m going to take that mofo back out and disassemble the motor, and unless my understanding of reality is wrong I’m going to find actual bearings inside that case. Bearings with part numbers on them. And, if some random guy on some random forum is still as right in my case as he was in a few others, then that part number will be one I found on fleabay for $4.28/pair. Now that I know how the thing comes apart and how to get it back together without hurting myself, I’ll be in and out in an hour.

And no, I don’t give a fuck if they’re cheap-ass bearings from China that will last only a few years. We’ve put more than enough time and money into maintaining this house, and though it is our agreement that we’ll do these things as they come up I wasn’t counting on the place having been neglected so much as it was. I understand how it came to be that way, but I didn’t know up-front just how bad it was. Isn’t that always how it is? Or is it just always that way for me?

Eh, no matter. ‘Tis what ’tis. And it’s not entirely bad spending a couple of hours driving through the mountains without insane tourists or suicidal big game critters to make things overly exciting. I shouldn’t bitch.

Never mind that I already have.

Fall in Dinkytown

We had some wild turkeys goofing around in the yard yesterday. In case you’re not familiar with them, goofing around is what wild turkeys do best. One of the jennies somehow got trapped in the dog run — chain link fencing confounds the hell out of ’em. Most often, it’s not until the bulk of the flock leaves the area that the “trapped” bird will Einstein up the idea of flying over the fence. I can’t stand to witness turkey anxiety so I opened the gate for the jenny to enable her to walk, like the dignified bird that she is, to rejoin her chums (likely her mother and sisters) in the back yard. Also because Amethyst cringed every time the goofy jenny stuck her head through the mesh as if she expected that the rest of her might follow.

Amethyst seemed to hope that the turkeys might make a habit of roosting in our trees, though poplars are a poor choice with brittle wood not much favored by heavy birds. Me, I’d just as soon they not roost here. I’ve no desire to be startled awake at whatever unreasonable hour it is that turkeys start their day by the sound of them landing like sandbags on the roof above our bed.

Fall means bitching about hunters season in Dinkytown, of course. As we made our way across the parking lot at the market yesterday, a hunter who’d just exited from the passenger side of a pickup pulling a fifth wheel camper and, behind that, a trailer full of ATV’s, called out to the driver, “Hey, looks like you blocked a car in there”. The driver, closing the pickup door behind him, replied, “Fuck it. I don’t care”. The passenger looked around nervously but lodged no protest. I hope the whole lot of ’em go home with nothing more than credit card bills, poison ivy, and blisters. And that the forced air furnace in the RV punks out on ’em at two o’clock in the morning. And that their satellite TV reception sucks, too. The elk deserve better ends than to be shot by that sort.

Ye olde sleep disorder is taking its traditional Fall swing so my sleep period lately is about 6AM to 2PM and I’m not fully awake until East Coast business hours are drawing to a close. Coincidentally, all of the clients I’m working with lately are in the Eastern or Central time zones. I worry that my oddity annoys them more than they let on. It works out in my favor that the wife of the boss dude at one place has the same disorder.

I read recently that “the tendency to be a night owl” may be the result of Neanderthal genes. After all these millennia, the family secret is out: my ancestors dated outside of their own species. Which I find amusing, given where in the human population those Neanderthal genes ain’t.

Jus’ thinkin’

I watched the CNN debate-like show night before last, just because the ewe toob suggested it to me. I didn’t even know there was going to be one, and, well, I was high so I thought I might as well give it a look.

Holy shit.

We keep an old cathode ray clunker of a television around to enable Amethyst to play her antique video games, and we like it this way just fine. I don’t even watch streamed television content, so CNN came as a shock to me. I found myself wondering if some previously unknown protege of Paddy Chayefsky were behind it. It was like Chayefsky’s dark humor but without his devotion to literacy and coherence. It was jarring to me to realize that what I was watching was a real and ostensibly serious event. It’s not a metaphor any more: we’ve reduced our political engagement to reality television.

What was interesting about it to me was that it seemed that CNN must have intentionally set a trap designed specifically for the GOP. The stupid bill was a stinker that never claimed any more than about 20% public support, while Sanders, who represented the opposition, remains far and away the most popular politician in America. It just seems unfathomably stupid on the part of the GOP to put two caricatures of the southern republican stereotype on a stage with Bernie to contrast their very unpopular bill with the very popular one bearing his name. Especially so when there’s just no good reason to do it — the only thing the people hate more than Obamacare is the idea of trading down from it so there was no hope of increasing public support for their stinker bill. Assuming CNN knows this, the non-debate looks a lot like CNN providing implicit support for Medicare For All and repudiating Trump right to his nasty face.

I do wish Bernie would learn to articulate his vision so he could rely less upon the broken record tactic, but… whatever… not gonna happen. Hopefully someone who is more articulate will be allowed to snatch the microphone away from him now and then. We can fix a lot of problems if we can get the bankers away from the hospital doors, and the easiest problem with the biggest bang for the buck is the third leading cause of death in America, encounters with doctors — medical errors, that is. 400,000 deaths and millions of injuries per year due to medical error is a lot of destruction and cost that we would all be much better off without. With a single payer free of profit motive for the whole country, that single payer would have plenty of power to bring to bear upon the industry to compel it to get its shit together. I’ve often wondered why Bernie has never mentioned this.

For comparison: our military has to really work at it to kill 400,000 people in a year, with military armaments, on purpose. And they don’t bill the dead and wounded for services rendered.

I’d like to hear Bernie say that. I bet he’d get a standing ovation. But being the one who lifted the taboo, and only recently, he probably doesn’t want to (and is perhaps wise not to) speak in those terms. Nice things. Denmark. Yeah. Trees an’ shit. Advanced industrialized labor union trees that get free education and health care, yeah. Not revolutionary shit like taking power from capitalists, as Medicare For All is designed to do. No, not that. Nice things. Like Canada. Trees an’ shit. Why can’t we have nice things?

But if Paddy Chayefsky were behind it, it would have looked precisely the same right down to the plastic, stinky Chinese plastic feel of it, but then his respect for the audience would have become evident. The Bernie muppet might not have spoken of power transfer, but it would have hinted at it. Then one of the republican cartoons would have seized upon it, and erupted in poor grammar in accusing the muppet of wrapping the baby Jesus in the American flag with a bar of lead and throwing him into the sea of heathen communism. The cute little Midwestern girl senator would have cried but found the courage to stand up for all that is good, right, and just, but not been called upon to do so and no longer certain of her judgment in such matters anyway. And the muppet would be elected president of the network and king for a day and then collapse, dead, smiling, having achieved all of his life’s goals and secured his wildest dreams.

Twenty seconds before it came over the news wire that the dead bill had been revived and passed and was on its way to the House where passage was assured.