Saturday, February 27, 2010

Water Pressure Tank

I realize this is old news, but every good story (especially those that involve the neurotic adventures of yours truly) always deserve a retelling. Also, excuse my absence, been away at the islands.

A couple of days before we departed, however, we had this massive wind storm that took out the electricity. It wasn't surprising, and to be honest, I was convinced that a few trees were going to fall onto our front lawn, but they didn't. A testament to nature's durability. We lost electricity in the AM, and knew better than to use up the water pressure in the tank. No flushing, when it's yellow, mellow; when it's brown, down it, and all that good stuff. The power came back on right before we were about to head out, so I figured I'd give all the toilets a good flush before we left. However, after flushing, I noticed that the tanks weren't refilling.

I turned on the sink, and sure enough, we had pressure problems. Now I can accept the consequences of my actions when I do something stupid, which is pretty much 99% of the time, but it's such a drag when you do everything right, and things still go wrong. We were very careful not to deplete the tank, and we still lost pressure.

The problem was, I'd forgotten how to re-prime it. I told the kids to wait in the car, and I went into the basement and fiddled with the toggle switch. I kept lifting it, and the tank would prime to about 20 psi, then fizzle out. This was not enough, we needed about 40-50 psi, but the darn thing wouldn't increase. I kept holding the lever, but you could see it wasn't rising. It has to get past a critical threshold before the pressure "grabs ahold" and fills the tank. I wasn't getting that.

And we had to leave. So I gave up and figured I'd do some research during the day to learn what to do, so I brought along my computer, foolishly thinking I'd have time to surf the web. I didn't, and came home empty handed. I did, however, manage to stress all day over how the heck we were going to restore the water pressure. And being the good husband that I am, I made sure R was aware of it, as well, thus ruining her pleasant day. Misery loves company, as they say.

When we got home, I took another long look at that darn toggle switch, but it just wasn't working, so I did what I normally do when the going gets tough - I called my Mentor. Of course, he was off fighting the Visigoths down in New Jersey, and couldn't be reached. I then called my karate teacher, who is knowledgeable in everything under the sun, except for maybe toggle switches on water tanks. His cousin, however, is a plumber, so he got on the horn and called him, and he (his cousin) in turn contacted me, but this was after I'd figured out how to fix it.

I shouldn't take all, if any, of the credit, because in desperation, I called the one person (actually, one of two) whom I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, could help me: SG, the former owner. Now it's awkward calling him, because this is his old house, and he wanted to buy it but somehow his ex (MG, the other person who could help me) wasn't going to let it happen. Under these circumstances, how do you ask house advice?

With a phone call, of course. It was late Friday night, and we weren't going to be able to get a plumber until Monday, which meant doing #2s in the woods for three days. Yikes! I called SG, apologizing profusely for bothering him on a Friday night, and for asking him about his former house the he really wanted to buy, but couldn't.

He was, as always, amazingly friendly and helpful, and the neurosis is completely self-inflicted, though I still think it's a bit awkward. As he started to explain to me what to do, it suddenly came back to me, and after letting up on the toggle a little, the pressure kicked in and voila! We had water pressure. I thanked SG for his help, and he was willing to come over and help. What a guy.

Best of all, we saved money by not calling a plumber, we didn't have to wait, and I could do something with my own two hands, a key attribute of a real man in training.

One more issue that we had to consider is that we were two days from leaving for the Bahamas. In warm weather, we could have just left the water problem, but without it, we had no heat, which could have been a disaster.

Either way, we're back in business, ready to take on the world. Until then, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No Karate For Two Weeks

Make that three weeks, and we're due for testing. I'm going for my purple belt, and the rest of the crew are going for green. If A shows up, she'll be testing for black belt, but we haven't seen her in days. Also, I just spoke with sensei last night and he said D, the uber-blackbelt, is back from Thailand, ready to bust my head open. Yikes, what have I gotten myself into?

Actually, it'll be good to see him, nice to have more bodies in class, especially ones with such a well of experience, not to mention leadership qualities.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bike Project

File this under, "How do I get myself into these situation?" Then again, that's what happens when you train to be a real man. I'd found a bike for A at a yard sale, and it was a steal. Literally. The yard sale had ended, and what was left was all for free. I saw the bike and couldn't resist, though for the record, there was a sticker that said $10, so I left the money taped to the door. Anyway, the bike is in good shape, or at least good enough, and I personally like the color gray, but I'm a guy, and I'm old, and maybe a girl might not be as enthused.

Then again, A is always agreeable, and she likes the bigger wheels and frame. It's just that the bike is not as cool looking as it could be, at least not as cool as her old bike was, which now belongs to N. So I took it upon myself to make this bike look cooler. This project, BTW, has been ongoing for the past 6 months, but in my defense, I sat on it figuring that it wouldn't get much use in the basement over the winter. Fair enough, but spring is right around the corner, and before you know it, it'll be bike riding time.

My first project on this bike is to work on the appearance. The decals are old and scaly, and falling apart. I ordered some flame stickers that look cool, but I have to get the old ones off first. Everyone I speak with tells me the same thing - use a hair dryer and the glue will come right undone. Of course, like everything in life, it sounds easy in theory, but in practice, no such luck. First off, we don't have an industrial strength hair dryer, just this little dinky travel one. Secondly, I don't have the patience to sit there holding the thing and heating the decals off. Thirdly, it seems like a waste of electricity.

So I'm doing it the manly way, with a little sweat and grit, and a scraper. I'm using a plastic drywall scraper, and it works beautifully if you don't mind scraping off a millimeter at a time. Talk about slow! It makes removing wallpaper seem like a walk in the park. Fortunately, I'm working with about 6 square inches in total surface are, so what it lacks in simplicity, it makes up in low quantity. My goal is to get all the decal off, use GooGone to clean it, and then put on the fabulously beautiful new decals. I hope she likes it. Then again, she's not a complainer.

I also got a bunch of spare bike parts at the dump, mainly new wheels to replace the rusted wheels that came on the bike. I have to take the wheels off, replace the tires, and then put the new ones on. I hope I don't screw everything up. When I was a kid, we used to attempt to do bike repair, and always ended up with a few spare pieces that left us puzzled as to their purpose. This puzzlement was immediately dispelled the moment we tried to ride the bike, because it basically didn't move.

I hope I don't repeat childhood patterns.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spice Rack and Good Help

In a true test of real-manliness, I went into the abysmal depths of our basement and made, of all things, a spice rack. Martha Stewart would be proud. I built the thing about a month ago and it sat in the basement because I was going to stain it but managed to put it off. At some point, the question was posed to me, "What's up with that spice rack?"

This, of course, prompted me to go back downstairs and finish the darn thing. Best of all, N came down and helped me do the staining. He did a really good job, he was very thorough and earnest, and put in the time and effort (good help is so hard to find). That boy is such a craftsman, he really loves working with his hands. It got me to thinking that with summer approaching, we could come up with some fun projects for him to work on, maybe even get him his own tools, or just give him open access to mine. That would give him some independence without his overbearing dad watching over him, and also give me some free time. A win-win situation, if there ever was one.

The main impetus to build the rack was because it's a pain looking for herbs and spices when their stacked two or three rows deep. You spend all this time searching for the turmeric or cumin. Now, with the new bionic spice rack, everything is one row deep, so all that will be required is becoming familiar with the layout.

AND, it looks nice, and gives the impression of more space in the kitchen.

On a barn note, I moved more of my tools back out to the barn, which for a person like me, is tantamount to a declaration that barn building will resume soon.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Finished the spice rack, moved my tools back into the barn

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chainsaw Neurosis and the Barn Calling

I was over at GK&Ts and G's buddy D was there. The guy looked a little fried, and I almost didn't recognize him, he's aged so much. Doesn't help that the guy doesn't take care of himself, but somehow I don't recall him looking so old. Either way, G was ready to cut down some trees and D and I watched him sharpen his chain, and the subject came up of filing the links of the chainsaw blade, which I've done. Of course, D is an expert logger and went on about how the chain is going to break and basically kill you. Now I've nicked my chain before and used it to cut several cords of wood, but it got me to thinking that maybe I'm flirting with disaster. Now I'm all worried about that darn chain, and I just sharpened mine.

Oh well, I do have a spare chain, and I could always take the old one into Joe's and have them assess. Better safe than sorry. Chainsaws really scare me.

On a brighter note, I've resolved to start work on the barn again. I've basically done nothing in the past month, and the weather really hasn't been that bad. Right now it feels like Spring is in the air, though I know we're in for some weather at some point. It's only February, after all.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Learning From the Master

There has been a lot of talk about holding a local market in our town, and of course we got into the act and decided that we'd like to make something and maybe even make some money by adding value to local commodities. The initial idea was to make pizza with as many local ingredients as we could muster. Now bear in mind, we are not pizza experts, but we do make it, and we're reasonable learners, so we could probably come up with a decent pizza pie that people would eat. Getting them to part with their cast is another story.

Now besides all the logistical considerations in answering to the state, there was the slight problem of needing an oven. We thought it would be cool to build an oven, which sounds good in theory, but can be complicated when you've never built one.

Well, it turns out that come Spring, they are holding a fair and have obtained a portable wood oven. Not only that, but they have one of the members of the community stepping up to consult, and not only does has he built his own wood oven, but he's a master baker. How's that for going to the source?

Could be interesting. We're not even sure if we'll be able to make pizzas, but at least we'll be learning from the master. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jonathas Mikosz de Moura for the pic.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Taking a Beating

The other night at karate, we had a good round of sparring, but I took a beating on two fronts. First, when I was sparring with P, he clocked me good in the nose. I thought for sure there would be blood, which would have gone a long way to making me feel like a real man, especially if I'd gotten blood all over my gi, but no such luck. That disqualified P from the match for an uncontrolled punch to the face. I sat down and everyone asked me if I was okay, and I said I was fine. Then sensei CH called me up to spar with him, and I said incredulously, "But I'm hurt!" No sympathy for the cowardly, so to add insult to injury, I had to spar the teacher.

For all it's worth, and it's worth a lot, when you spar with someone way above your level, it really elevates your abilities, and though I get smacked around, I do find it helps me a lot. And, I'm getting better at getting my death blows in, I just have to watch those feet of his. They get me every time.

Case in point, during an especially vigorous match, he kicked me in the crotch, essentially ending my time in Eden. Talk about being put to the test. At least it gave me some good stories to tell R and the kids when I got home. Dad's suffering is always good for entertainment value.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Asif Akbar for the pic.