Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2005-12-28
  Just trying to keep track of it all
Today was supposed to be a work day, but the kids are still home, and Jonmarie went to go be tortured by the dentist this morning; so I wasn't planning any heavy lifting. I did tinker around in the morning, discovering that nobody knew the access codes for the database servers on node-x because nobody was supposed to be accessing the databases there, and why would you want to do that anyways? (I shudder when I hear that term, its like dry rot of the brain.) Still I poked at this and that downstairs until the pre-lunch tantrum monsoons arrived, then I went upstairs to pry screaming monkeys apart.

I decided at that point that the best thing for me to do would be to take the littlest one out to do chores, leaving the wife with slightly improved odds. I actually had in mind to make stops at three different hardware stores for various parts the many odball plans and schemes I have require. Yes its true. You can't drag me into a department store to try on pants, even if my last pair is split at the crotch and missing both knees, but mention an after Chrismas sale on 110 gallon air compressors and table saws and I'm out the door faster than you can say, "Tim 'the tool man' Taylor."

Now Flagstaff is big enough that we have several hardware stores; but its not big enough that any one of them is worth a darn when it comes to one-stop shopping. Maybe they'll have that Grade 8 bolt in the size you want, or maybe you'll have to make another trip over to Copper State Bold & Nut Co. Sure Home Depot will sell you an L6-30 twistlock plug, but they don't actually have any faceplates that fit it. You'll have to go to Anderson Electric for that. And on and on.

Today was mostly a plumbing day, but I also needed more plastic storage containers to try and constrain the ever growing collection of legos which we sort on an ongoing basis as a sort of therapy (block, wheel, block, flat piece, block, block, special piece, bionicle, block, ...). The containers are on sale at Home Depot right now, and I was also going to check to see if they had any more pellets in stock as the last batch did not crude up my stove as the installers had warned and they're they cheapest in town (which is probably why they don't have any in stock). Unfortunately when it comes to plumbing, they suck. And its not just like the electrical example above. They really suck when it comes to plumbing. If they gave half as much space to plumbing as they do to theme'd carpets and the Disney licensed paint section, they'd be ok; but I guess there's just not as much money in cast iron fittings as there is in "Sleeping Beauty matte pink (tm)".

To their credit, the Ace Hardware actually does a decent job on plumbing. You can get most things you need for the average home "improvement" project there, and even some things you really shouldn't need: like a brass 1/8 NPT to 3/8 barbed fitting needed to hardwire the air into a Hypertherm plasma machine. (Everybody else on the planet uses a much more standard 1/4 NPT, but these guys had to be different.) Down in Sedona, I was worried that the selection wasn't going to be as good, and in fact the entire Sedona Ace Hardware building would probably fit in the lumber section of the Flagstaff Home Depot, but they still managed to cram in a decent supply of plumbing parts, all the way up to 2" which is what we are using for the supply side up to the main transport pump. Ok, so the pump only has a 1 1/4" inlet, so why use 2" for the rest of it? Because it cuts down on flow resistance, which in cold grease could be considerable. Plus it looks more macho. Unfortunately, while they had a considerable supply of elbows, T's, nipples, caps, plugs, bushings, reducers and the like (which we pretty much cleaned out), they did not have any crosses which I wanted to use at the main intersection of the tank drains, pump and external inlet. So our project was on hold, partially assembled, until I could make a trip to Central Arizona Supply which has a warehouse of just plumbing supplys about the same size as the entire Home Depo building.

Since I was going to the meca of all things plumbing, I figured I should also get some parts to fix the kitchen faucet which has been leaking for the last month. I've lived with it that long because you can stop it from leaking by turning it all the way shut (where it leaks), and then turn it on just a crack (where it will stop leaking). Most of the time I'm not the one using the sink though, so it leaks a lot. This would be a bad thing if we were on city water, but we aren't. We have to haul water in by truck, so its even worse. So this morning while I was supposed to be doing babysitting duties, I was actually taking apart the sink while Max banged various wrenches against anything in the kitchen that would make noise. Jonmarie was not impressed that her sink was disabled when she got home (though I didn't break the salad sink, so she had a backup), but adopted a wait-and-see attitude towards my vision of a drip-free outcome.

So with Oscar slung up tight, I headed out into the wild to hunt for the elusive parts needed to restore order to my household and continue my other mad scientist schemes. I picked up the containers at Home Depo, confirmed that they were still out of pellets, and on a whim decided to visit the dejected plumbing department and see about a new spring & seal for the faucet. To my shock they actually had a replacement kit, so I grabbed it, as well as some replacement set screws which I noticed one handle was missing. As I checked out, I took inventory of what was left on my acquisition list, now that the sink was covered. I still needed the iron cross, but that was it from Central AZ Plumbing. I was also going to go to Ace, but for the life of me I couldn't remember why. There was something I was going to get there, but now I couldn't think of what. While I have the "take things apart and maybe fix them" gene, along with the "cook things with an open flame" gene; I suffer from the lack of a "write things down" gene (along with the more usual "ask directions" gene).

So hmmphh. I wasn't going to drive all the way across town just for one piece of pipe. Guess I'll have to get it later. Well now I'll be home early and have time to check on the auction for the 8100 pound electromagnet. Now that's macho.

 
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Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
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Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
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The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

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Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

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Scramjets take to the air
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The Real Way to get a job

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Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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