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.


Another DIY Success

We have a single handle Moen faucet. We bought the house new back in 2006. This week, the handle began going wonky on us. It was growing stiffer to turn and then added a squeaking noise. A little net sleuthing and I identified our model, homed in on the problem, found a step-by-step video, and ordered the “Moen 93980 Replacement Handle Mechanism Kit for One-Handle Kitchen Faucet Repairs” kit from Amazon for just less than $23. It was supposed to arrive Monday but came today.

I’m not a DIYer by nature. Poor mechanical skills, you know? Other than fixing cars and computers (and painting the house rooms), I have little to no DIY experience except what I’ve gleaned from learning how do to things in this house. That includes installing a new central vac unit to replace the dead unit a decade ago, swapping out control modules on the air conditioner about four years ago, replacing the garbage disposal a few years ago, fixing the microwave a few months ago, and then replacing the master sink drain stem in December. I don’t think I could have done any of these things except for the first two without the net. For the air conditioner repair, the repair guy showed me how he fixed it a few years before. I took notes so that when the time came, because he warned me that it would fail, and it was a common, recurring failure, I knew what to do. For the central vac unit, it was straightforward as replacing a car battery. So I watched the Moen repair video again, sucked in a deep breath, and went at it.

Success! I’ll drink to that. The question is, coffee, beer, or wine?

Unfinished Business Dream

My wife and I were young folks, in our twenties, in this dream, and very realistic to who we were in RL, including our clothes. She was busy with cleaning. I was tinkering with the kitchen faucet, which wasn’t going well. I’d change one thing and it would start spraying sideways. Something else would be adjusted, causing the water to shoot straight up. But I was determined: I will fix this. Yet, I was laughing, telling my wife as the water shot off in a new strange arc, “Check this out.” Unbelievable.

Surrendering to that temporarily because I thought I needed to think about what to do, I went off for more DIY. I’d noticed a younger person holding up a wall in the corner of another room. That might be something that I needed to address. I went in there and asked them about the situation. They were holding up the wall because it would fall over if they didn’t. “Let me see,” I said. “Step back.”

They did. The wall started toppling over.

The two of us jumped in and held it up. “But is it the wall coming down or just, like, wallpaper?” I asked. I thought that’s what I’d actually seen. We tentatively released the wall, confirming that it wasn’t the wall coming down, but just the cover.

Then I was arriving at work. Dressed in a suit with tie, I joined others in a small but well-lit office with lots of windows. “Hello, Michael, about time you got here,” I heard. Stepping into a small office where the voice seemed to emanate, I found the one accosting me was Jeffrey Donovan, of “Burn Notice” and other television shows and movies. “I’m your new boss,” he cheerfully informed me. “You’re working for me now.”

Then, I was arriving at work again, sighing because it seemed like I was just hear. “Hi Michael, good morning,” I heard from Donovan. WTH, why was he singling me out like that?

I arrived on a third morning and sighed. “Hello, Michael,” Donovan called out.

“It wasn’t me,” I shouted back, lying. Then I leaned in around his office door. “How did you know it’s me when you’re in here?”

“I have eyes everywhere,” he answered.

I was done with work. Instead, I was cutting grass and doing general landscaping chores. I was part of a crew of four others. One was a friend and the other two were strangers, but we all got on well. While we worked, we saw an area where another crew had worked; we scoffed at the job they’d done. We could do better.

The home’s owner, an elderly and tall, white woman with silver hair who looked and sounded like Bea Arthur, came out and complimented us on our work. We pointed out where the other crew had been and told her that we could improve it. After some back and forth, she agreed that we could the other area, too. Happy that we’d won more work, we set to work improving it.

A large pool was alongside our work area. Others were swimming. Four young men staged a race. We mocked them because we thought ourselves better swimmers. Then we wondered which of the four of us was the fastest swimmer.

The owner appeared. We asked if she minded if we had a race in her pool. “Go for it,” she answered.

We lined up in our trunks. After counting to three together, we dove in and raced to the far end. I came in second to my friend.

Dream end.

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