It’s Simple Sometimes

“That’s it,” my wife said. “I think my computer is dying.”

K has some Apple Power Book variation bought years ago. I believe it was 2014. Uses it every day. Apple is her style. All she’s ever used as her own computer. This is her fourth.

“What’s it doing?” I asked from across the office.

“I can’t control the cursor. The touchpad isn’t working. It’s going all over the place.”

I walked over. “Show me.”

She talked me through what she was trying to do (answer an email to Jan about Jan not making it to the book club tomorrow because her husband has a new heart problem) and showed me how the cursor ‘just takes off’.

Wasn’t just taking off. It was scrolling down. “That looks like a scrolling problem,” I said. Reaching over, I pressed the down arrow. It wouldn’t go because it was pressed in and stuck. Sharper pressure released it. The scrolling stopped.

“There. Fixed.”

Monday’s Theme Music

Sunshine coats our southern and western views. Huzzah, my spirit shows. A cup of coffee is served in celebration.

This might be part of recent weather pattern. Calm, sunny mornings. Winds begin gamboling. Then they start raging. By early evening, rain begins. The rains and winds intensify and slam us throughout the night. They fade away with morning.

Not bad for us. We’re on the edge of the atmospheric river slamming California. Stories from the mountains’ south side are about floods and wind destructions, miracles of lives saved, the tragedy of another death. The other cities just a short distance north and west see little of this. While our monthly and seasonal rain levels surge and our cisterns and dams fill, those other places, such as Medford, fifteen miles away, remains behind on their precipitation levels.

This is 2023, Monday, January 9. Sunset has moved back to 4:57 PM. Sunrise keeps yesterday’s schedule, coming in at 7:39 again this morning. It’s 40 degrees F beyond my windows. Letting a cat in (or was it out?), my nose finds that wintry smell has departed from our place. Today’s high temperature will be balanced out at 54 F.

Today’s theme music sprang from DIY projects. Three projects are lined up. As I walked around and considered them, and the steps I’d take to research them and get them completed, I thought, I’ll find a way. That’s like my motto for 2023 so far. Last week, while editing and reconciliating the novel in progress, I ran into a problem. I will find a way, I told myself, but I knew it wouldn’t happen that day. Anyway, I ended up with that as some lyrics being sung in the morning mental music stream. Eventually a song by Tesla, “Love Song” from 1989, was identified. So here we are.

I remember this song from the regular work and shopping circuit my spouse and I followed in the 1990s. This song was part of the heavy rotation of the stations I rotated through, depending on our moods and what we were pursuing, and the time of day. NPR with “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and “Car Talk” were part of the weekend’s rotation.

Ah, the morning coffee is done. I’ll be on to other Monday things now, if you’ll excuse me. Stay pos, test neg. Here’s Tesla. BTW, this is the first time I’ve seen this video. Although I knew Tesla was part of the ‘Hair Metal’ movement, I’d never seen them and their appearance surprised me. They got the hair, they got the moves, they have the sound. Looking back like this is fun.

May your Monday be terrific. Cheers

Another DIY Project

I noticed that the air blowing out of our furnace vents seems weak this year. Something needed to be done. Shouting, “To the net,” I did some research. The first thing I did was change the filter, which helped — that rascal was filthy. I then set a calendar reminder to check and change it every three months. Then I visited the crime scene for clues.

Our furnace is a Tempstar L9 unit horizontally mounted in the attic above the garage. I’ve been up there to deal with problems before so I’m comfortably familiar with it. It’s our original unit, so it’s almost sixteen years old. I’m embarrassed to admit, the blower hasn’t been cleaned since the capacitor failed ten years ago. I decided to do two things, based on research: clean the blower and increase its speed.

Both were easy, with the second part being easiest. The heating and cooling systems use the same blower and ducts (yeah, duh). But the wiring on my system can only specify that one of them has the higher blower setting, and that is the A/C. So I switched it so the heating has that setting for the winter. Before I started messing with the wires, I perused the manual’s wiring table and instructions and then photographed the original wire placement with my phone. I’ve learned to do that last anytime I’m dealing with switches and wires. It’s saved my butt a few times.

Now it’s all much improved. I’m once again grateful to the net and its helpful videos. Finishing, I set another calendar reminder for the summer, so I can go back up in there and switch over the wires for the air conditioning. Have a good one. Cheers

Sunday’s Theme Music

It’s an auspicious Sunday morning. Fox Sports viewers are still reeling from an extreme closeup of Michigan’s Coach, Jim Harbaugh, delivered by a ref cam on television yesterday. Oh, the humanity!

December 4th has its hands around us. Mild weather in our valley is putting on airs. 40 F now, we anticipate a high that exceeds (or not) 49 F. Mostly cloudy, with the sun playing peek-a-boo with us, the ground is wet from nocturnal rain, and those clouds are saying, “Seriously, we might let loose with some water again. Don’t laugh. We mean it.”

DIY plans have gone awry. The microwave went out again last week. New parts were ordered. They arrived yesterday. Soon as I picked up that box, I knew the right parts weren’t within. The box weighed about eight pounds, which seems heavy for a door microswitch and a plastic switch holder. Emails were sent. Replies are awaited. The cats are watching the skies for carrier pigeons from customer service.

Other DIY plans are going well as new interior seals are put on the windows. Tiny measures like that make a huge difference. The house feels so much snugger and cozier. Yes, I did procrastinate on getting that done. It was overdue. I blame the cats for that.

With a weather break and the winds dissipated, both cats are out on sentry, one each covering the front and back approaches. News of a local cougar killing a pet cat has us on edge. Previous reports were out but this time, cyclists witnessed the cougar with the cat in mouth. That seems pretty accurate.

The Neurons have “Let It Roll” by Little Feat (1988) pumping through the morning mental music stream. It’s funny that this is the song that ended up there. Yes, funny, ha, ha. I was thinking of my novel in progress, pondering where the muses were going to take me. I feel like I have a blindfold on. They’re standing around me, giggling and smothering their laugher, telling me what to do. My response is, yeah, let it roll. Let’s see how it rolls out. But a number of artists come to mind when the song lyrics ‘let it roll’ go by. Foremost is usually BTO — yeah, Bachman Turner Overdrive for the uninitiated — urging, “Let it roll! Down the highway. Roll. Roll.” I speculate that the weather has The Neurons in a Germany state of mind. I was stationed in Germany for a few years in the late eighties. Weather there was often overcast. Seeing this weather reminded me of those German days. That’s when this Little Feat song came out.

Coffee time! Stay positive and test negative. Mask up as needed. Be smart about it. I know most are beyond weary. I understand. The vulnerable remain vulnerable, though. Sure, that’s their problem, right? Uh, huh. Sure.

Wait, the cats are clamoring for re-entry. Yep, the clouds came through. Light rain falls.

Here’s the tune. Enjoy. Cheers

Wednesday’s Wandering Thought

He did another little DIY project, replacing the diverter on a bathtub spout. Not difficult, and yet it solved a minor problem, and that felt satisfying.

After that, he wandered around the house, searching for other things to fix. Finding nothing (although some caulking could be in order), he instead culled their financial files, taking out and shredding years of information. It, too, was satisfying, but in a different way.

What next, he wondered. What next?

DIY Victory. Huzzah!

I successfully replaced the flange, drain, and stopper in one of the bathroom sinks yesterday. Before details are parsed out, some entities are owed thanks.

  1. The builders who constructed our house seventeen years ago, because they used standard fittings.
  2. The plumbing industry for establishing clever and simple plumbing solutions that even fools like me can fix.
  3. Hardware stores for carrying parts as needed.
  4. Youtubers who put together excellent how-to guidance.

I’d been planning this job for a few months but was intimidated because, plumbing. It’s right up there with wiring and electricity for me. Fed by sitcoms, movies, cartoons, and cliches, my imagination is well-stocked with visions of what could go wrong for someone who isn’t mechanically proficient, like the guy who looks back at me from the mirror.

Nothing did go wrong, though. Yes, it was work. Two hard parts emerged. First, unscrewing the flange in the sink from the drain. Those puppies had been wedded together for seventeen blissful years. Separating them was a stinking challenge. I needed to hold onto the vise grips and keep the flange from turning while somehow reaching beneath the sink and turning the pipe to unscrew the flange. I needed another set of hands.

Enter the partner, my spouse, aka, K, the wife.

I set up a heavy-duty screwdriver in the hole where the popup lever connects the stopper to the plunger. Yeah, these are the technical terms (*snark*). I don’t know the true terms. With that rig in place, I, um, gripped the vise grips and held on tight. Then I had my wife turn the drainpipe below, using the screwdriver as a lever. I felt tremendously satisfied when that worked.

The other aspect was that we have designer stuff in the bathroom. I wanted to use the original plunger because its design matched everything else in the bathroom. But the lever wasn’t compatible, forcing me to find an imaginative solution for a hybrid system that worked. That, brothers and sisters, consumed about forty minutes of my seventy-five minutes sweat soaked endeavor.

When I finished, I went into the other room. My wife was reading on the bed. “Done,” I said. “Come see.”

“Hang on, I’ve almost finished this book.”

“Really? That has priority over my DIY success?”

“See this tear?” She pointed at her eye.

“I’ll see your tear and raise you my sweat-soaked shirt. It was hot in there, and cramped.”

“I’m almost done. I just have a few more pages.”

I went back alone and admired my results. With one down, I’m purchasing more replacement parts and doing the other two sinks this weekend.

Don’t get cocky, I tell myself.

I won’t, I reply.

What can go wrong?

Two More Things Done

The bowed garage door has been repaired. The repair dude came, he saw, he did what I thought should be done, as he’s done to hundreds of other garage doors in his young career. A strut was tranversely attached via bolts to the garage door’s width. Repair dude used a stouter strut than I would have used mostly because I didn’t see one like it when I searched, but I thought it made sense when I saw the finish. He also tightened the chain’s tension to help compensate for the added weight. Although it wasn’t a DIY project, I was satisified.

The other repair event was the Mazda’s GPS, made by Tom Tom. I’d attempted to update the system before going on vacation. It went badly wrong. I asked for money back. Support reached out to me. I finally set aside time and followed their repair instructions. That didn’t work quite as they suggested, but I employed my own knowledge from my stone-age experience in tech support management. If one thing doesn’t work, observe what happened and try others. Following that perfected process delivered a good result. Didn’t consume much more than twenty-five minutes, too.

So, yeah, yea. Celebrate small victories, right? Yeah.


More DIY Success

Another little victory in the DIY repair realm.

In a previous post, I mentioned that my Black & Decker BH3000 string trimmer had died. A plug-in electrical tool, it went without a whimper. No sparks and few complaints. Intermittently, it wouldn’t begin when I held in the trigger but then operated after tapping it against the ground or jiggling it hard. This time, no jiggling, thumping, tapping, whacking, or swearing brought it back to life.

To the net! I put in the results. Naturally, unrelated things with my search were the first pieces of information provided. Going down past them, I found a link that looked promising.

It was. I watched part of the video three times and then went to work. Twenty minutes later, success.

Yes, it’s a small thing. The device is prolly five years old and cost sixty dollars when I bought it. But I really didn’t want to buy a new one, as that would mean getting rid of the old one. And not having to do the wasteful consumer shuffle is the real victory.

More DIY Success

Another minor problem, another simple repair, and more gratitude for the net and its plethora of DIY videos.

This case involved a running toilet. First thought: change the flapper valve. But when I was checking it out, I saw how much the Fluidmaster fill valve was leaking. Ah. How is thing fixed or replaced? I have minor to zero experience with these things, so it was to the net!

First, toilets are fascinating modern devices. Their designs have been refined. They’re pretty efficient relative to the past, robust, and modular. Fixing things on them is stunningly easy.

Second, I was astonished to learn recommendations that the fill valve be replaced every five years. I have never in my life seen one replaced.

Once I identified what I had installed inside my toilet, I headed down to our local Ace hardware. The right piece was quickly found and paid for, eight dollars after my loyalty coupon was supplied.

Videos demonstrated how remarkably easy it all is. They usually took five to fifteen minutes. I figured that I would need thirty to forty. I was right. It wasn’t a matter of incompetence, but access. The fill valve connects to the feed line through a port in the cistern’s bottom. The toilet’s water supply needs to be shut off, the cistern drained, and then the feed line disconnected. Getting my hands around the plastic nuts to disconnect the water supply — and then tightening them again at the end — was the most challenging aspect.

Yes, I feel pleased, even satisfied. I’ve learned more, saved a little money, and was rewarded with a muffin for my effort.

It was all win.

Sunday’s Theme Music

We’re in cloud city this Sunday, March 27, 2022, facing a temperature of 54 F. It’s expected to go up to 70. The sun bounced a feeble few rays our way at 7:02 AM. Sunset is expected at 7:31 PM.

Some of my balance has returned. It feels like a proper Sunday. Yardwork plans are in the offing. I’ve gone out, pulling weeds and trimming things, in the afternoon a few days this week. We cleaned yesterday, then I walked for a few miles on my own. The sun was full and strong, and it was beautiful to see the flowers in bloom, green flushing the lawns again, and leaves filling trees’ branches.

On the DIY front, I did buy a new thermostat and installed it Friday, which fixed the heating issue. Fifty dollars at the local hardware store, it’s a mild upgrade to the one I’d installed in this place about fifteen years ago. I reckon it’s the fifth thermostat that I’ve installed in my lifetime. The first was one with a mercury switch, a long time ago in a duplex that we rented.

My neurons are having fun with me this morning, inserting an old song, “Polly Wolly Doodle”, into the morning mental music stream. I haven’t heard that song in ages but remember singing it in an elementary school class with the teacher at the piano. You should hear my neurons snickering and chortling as the song goes round and round. I answered their efforts with that classic retort, “How old are you?” That should’ve put them into their place, but they reacted by pumping the 1999 Blink 182 song into the stream, “What’s My Age Again”. More of their mischief. Although it’s been a featured theme song before, I haven’t had any coffee and don’t feel like arguing with them. So, here we go, folks.

Stay positive, test negative, adjust as needed to the changing situation, and stay alert. Don’t let complacency take you down. I won’t, once I have some coffee.


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