Spam (madbodger) wrote,

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Yesterday: Went to mail fizzygeek's tax forms, as I had been at work too late to do so yesterday. Of course, everybody was at the post office and there was a line. I didn't want to bother with the silly Return Receipt forms (which the IRS is notoriously slow about returning anyway), so elected to go with Delivery Confirmation. It turns out that Delivery Confirmation entrains a requirement for Priority Mail. So the clerk stuffed fizzygeek's envelopes into clear-fronted Priority Mail envelopes and added the Delivery Confirmation barcode stickers. All of this ended up costing nearly as much as fizzygeek was getting back from the state.

Then I realized that I now wouldn't really have enough cash for dim sum later, especially if I subtracted the ferry fare (which went up to $6/roundtrip in February). So, already running late, I headed for the bank.

Of course, everybody was also at the bank, so the parking lot was pretty much full. I did see two spaces at the end of a row at the far end of the lot, so I headed that way. I got cut off by a guy in a big truck, who took one of them. I tried for the other one, but there wasn't room to make the turn into the space between the outside kerb, the big truck, and a concrete parking stop someone had left catty-cornered in the lot. So I got out to move said concrete casting. It turns out these are the very deuce to lift, as they're non-trivially heavy and have flat bottoms, making it difficult to get fingers underneath them. I eventually managed one end by rocking it with my toes and winkling my fingers under it, but it still took some scrabbling to get my fingers under the other side. I swung that end around and onto the kerb, leaving it angled so the other end was easy. There was (of course) a line at the ATM. The person at the head of the line didn't know how to operate an ATM, so kept yelling back to the car for help. This took quite a while. After he finally finished, the line moved pretty slowly. I found out why when I got there, the ATM was just really slow. It took about 20 seconds to update each screen for some reason (probably running MICROS~1).

Of course, I just missed the ferry too. I finally did get to dim sum about half an hour late, so went into the restaurant (the general location is very well marked on the parking lot side, but the actual entrance is less so (except for those who read Chinese, which, sadly, I don't). But I did have dim sum with a bunch of most excellent people (some I already knew, and some new acquaintances. There was much good, interesting, silly, and just plain bizarre conversation, both over the table and outside afterwards. Quite worth the trip.

Then I went back home and decided it was high time to move the rest of the yard waste from the big hedge pruning project I did a few weeks back. It didn't look like much, just two rows of piles of sticks, but there was a lot to move. Even the little piles were 'way too heavy for me to even drag, so I'd have to wrest out a bundle of sticks and schlep 'em over to the fence (the neighbors have set up a pile in their field, and are planning on renting a wood chipper at some point). I didn't want to leave the gate open, as they let their horses out irregularly, and I didn't want any to escape). After I'd finished the piles inside the hedge, I started on the ones by the road. Eventually, I started rearranging the wood in the road, so I could more carefully extract it from the unfortunate plants growing through it. When I had a most of it in the road, the woman across the street announced that I'd have to move it all, because she was having a horse delivered IN ONE MINUTE, and they needed to get into the field to turn around.


So I hauled the stuff in the field aside, and shoved the stuff in the road back into my ditch. The horse truck showed up near the tail end of this process, and followed me down the road, inch by inch, while I shoved the last of it out of the way.

I took some time for a breather and cold beerglass of ice water, and after the truck left, I went and hauled all the rest of it to the pile in the field. After that, we showered and went out to Tijuana Flats for yummy Mexican food and hot sauce. Then we went to the mall and got distiller cleaner (the distiller has been shutting down without distilling and my theory is that it's because of scale buildup from the wretched water here). Of course, Sears doesn't put distiller cleaner with the distillers. But we're bright, and found it with the dishwashers. We also scored ice cream (B&J fans note: Free Cone Day is coming up real soon now!).

Today, fizzygeek suggested I do fun things. I said perhaps I'd go curl up with a female friend of mine, she said that would be fine. But I admitted that there were still chores to be done (as in the aforementioned distiller). My first act was to attack the distiller. I filled it with hot water, hauled it out to the porch (I had learned from last time that the cleaner makes some truly vile fumes when it's working) and dumped in a generous portion of distiller cleaner (read: sulfamic acid). I let that perk for a while, and then plugged it in and smacked the power button. After cooking for a good while, the water had turned a lovely deep purple color, but it was hard to see degree of progress. Obviously, there was some, as there were plenty of flakes of scale floating around. I unplugged it and had lunch. When I went to check it, it was still steaming, so I left it a while longer. It was still steaming when I came back, but I decided it was cool enough to dump and rinse it and see how far it had gotten. Happily, it had removed nearly all of the scale, and most of the stainless steel liner was gleaming like new again. So I scrubbed and rinsed it really well, and set it up for a test run.

Then I decided to remove another large trash can load of debris from the shed. When I got the can about 2/3 full, I realized it was suddenly getting easier! Sure enough, the shed has a (partial, at least) concrete floor! By the time the trash can was full, I'd cleared off a good 20 square feet or so of floor. So pouring concrete in there is gonna be easier than I thought. I also found a keyring with a bunch of interesting old keys.

I checked inside and the distiller was perking nicely, so it's looking like a good cleaning fixed it. Then it was time to turn the outside water spigot on. That went pretty quickly (just a ball valve), and I tested it by rinsing the mud off my shoes. Works fine.

Then it was time to attack the bug zapper. This is an old outdoor unit I use in the attic from time to time to destroy any wasps. I had noticed wasps up there earlier this year, but the zapper was still full of debris from last time and made an unhappy noise when powered up. I took it apart and cleaned it, but still bad noises. Today, I decided to uncover the high voltage power supply to see if it needed cleaning, repair, or it was just time to get a new one (but save the lovely high voltage power transformer for evil purposes). Everything looked okay (no cracked wires or burnt components), so I cleaned out all the spiderwebs and so forth, redressed the wires for least opportunity for corona or arcing, reassembled everything, and gave it the juice. Instead of the unhappy hissing noise it made before, there was a decided arcing sound. I unplugged it, ruminated on how long it would take to discharge the capacitor (not long, 1000pf in parallel with a transformer winding is gonna discharge pretty fast). I shorted the grids with the screwdriver for good measure and observed no spark or noise. I eyeballed everything again, but it all looked okay, so I decided to power it up with the cover off to see if I could see or hear any clues that way. Sure enough, there was the distinctive hollow chirping of an arc inside a small enclosed space, near the capacitor. I was afraid the capacitor had failed, but closer examination (after again making sure it was fully discharged) revealed that one of the crimp nuts was noticably darker than the other one. Sure enough, one of the wires came right out with a little tugging. So I worried out the other wires and sure enough, the crimp cap was pretty carbonized on the inside. I considered replacing it with an ordinary wire nut, but since it's high voltage, I wanted to repair it with similar parts, and I knew I had the same kind of crimp caps somewhere. A little rooting around in my box-o-connectors produced one, so I twisted the wires together firmly (they hadn't been, before) and crimped on the new cap. A quick test showed that it seemed happy and noise free, so I hauled it up to the attic, noted that there were indeed wasps wandering around in the windows, fired it up, and ran away.

I think that's enough chores for a weekend.


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