Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Oh, the possibilities...

I initially read the title of this news item as "Muppet Labs..." clicked it and started reading, and spent a lovely few seconds believing the world of IT was about to take a seriously strange, magical turn.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Equilibria and Day 42: 180

The first few pounds are the easiest to lose.  Clearly I was working pretty hard at holding my body weight so high above what might be described as its equilibrium state, that level that it most naturally would sustain without much attention on my part.  I say working, but really what it was was not working, not getting any exercise beyond pushing back from the table for another trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet.  Those things, while delicious, are a siren's song drawing the ship of your arteries onto the hardened shores of plaque and hypertension.

That's the good news and the bad news combined.  If I assume that this, 180 pounds, is approximately my equilibrium state, that's still a lot heavier than I want to weigh.  I'd like to hold at something more like 170.  I will have to get down to 170 and hold that, probably for a couple of years, before I can relax my vigilance a bit.  You can change your equilibrium, the longer you hold a weight the more likely you are to retain it even when you stop paying attention.  It just takes time.

But, and this is the very good news, this is my lowest post-weekend weight thus far.  I didn't bounce very much.

In somewhat related news, our larger cat has lost a pound.  She had it to lose, too, and seems to be doing a bit better with less mass to haul around.  But she doesn't understand these things intellectually of course, and becomes very vocal at mealtimes.  My previous cats have generally been indoor-outdoor animals, free to go outside if there was someone to open the door for them.  They would prowl around and run off their food.  That doesn't happen with these cats and while our elder cat remains lean, the younger one will wolf down whatever food is in her dish.  This is an animal for whom the word "leftover" has no context.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Handyman's Fidelity Crisis, and Day 35: 181

It might seem like I'm stalled at around the 180 mark, but I'm not too concerned.  For instance, on Saturday morning the scale pegged at 179.  I expect to see a little bit of bounce over the weekend, but now the week has begun and I pay attention again.  Smaller meals, long walks around the block, maybe even lifting a few weights.

My workday was spent mostly on the roof of our north building, arguing with the disparate elements of a rooftop ventilator.  This particular ventilator serves the dish room where used trays are returned after meals, and for whatever reason, all the clips that secured the "hat" that covers the top of the ventilator - and its mechanical bits - broke.

Tennessee isn't that windy, but it's windy enough.  Evidently there was a big enough blow at some point that the hat parted company with the ventilator and I was certain it was gone.  As it turned out it wasn't gone, the hat was just pretty hard to find, since it looks exactly like all the other rooftop ventilator hats, and when you have gigantic 800-gallon water heaters and their exhaust vents, 250-gallon water heaters with their exhaust vents, an exhaust hood for each and every restroom, assorted HVAC vents and other things, well, it isn't the featureless plain you might expect a roof to be.

You can see how finding a replacement for something like that,
 if it's gone, could be a little problematic.

Since the hat had been off the ventilator for a while, the vent motor was seized.  That meant a new one.  No problem, Fenco had an appropriate replacement for under $100.  I've loved Johnstone for a long time but sometimes the prices of the parts and supplies just floors me.  I know keeping a building up and running isn't free, but dang.  Well, there are no motors like this to be had at this price from Johnstone.  On top of that Fenco is literally just a few blocks away, whereas Johnstone is a few miles.  Fenco looks better and better, especially when the closest motor Johnstone had to offer was over $200.  Yipes, and hi, Fenco!  It's not a no-name motor, it's a solid Mars and it went in pretty cleanly.

Eventually.  I seem to have hit a wall with my common sense today.  First I cast around on the ground to the west looking for the hat.  Prevailing winds come out of the west around here, and of course the hat was to the east.

This was after I spent about a half-hour wandering around, first in the kitchen sizing up the big stock pots, then in the maintenance area looking at assorted large tubs, for something that could be called into service to replace the hat.  If I ever have to replace it, I will be finding something to press into service; the price tag on the replacement hats that I could find - none of them right for my application - was bonkers and completely out of line with the item itself.  But while I was holding up what looked like a likely candidate, wondering how it would hold up against sun and wind, I had my dope-slap moment and went back to look in the correct end of the roof.  A-ha, and now we proceed.

Motor procured.  No problem.

Gotta remove the pulley from the old motor.  Okay, lever with a screw...dri....VER damn that thing is really on there.  Give it a whack.

Give it another whack.

Say some bad words.  I'm alone up here on the roof, who's going to know?  Well, you do, now.  But it's only abstract knowledge, nothing concrete, nothing witnessed.  So we're cool.

Take the motor down through the hatch - no stair access here, it's a straight-up ladder and anything heavier than 20 pounds is burdensome - put it in the vise...whoops, won't fit in the vise.

Construct a vise arrangement to hold the motor suspended in a bucket, and now I can put a punch in the Vise-Grip and give it a proper whack.  48-oz. engineer's hammer, hardened steel punch.  WHAM.

Many whacks later I whipped out the torch and tried heating, and further whacking.


Ace Hardware has been so conveniently thorough for my needs of late, and they have a newish location just up the road.  Well, no pulleys there.

Quite a wide selection of pulleys at Northern Tool, but the juxtaposition of 1/2" bore and 2.5" diameter doesn't happen with what's in stock.  Dang it.

I alternately love and hate Harbor Freight.  It's like a Chinese grocery: a little dingy, a little chaotic, and half of what you see doesn't make any sense at all.  But you get the feeling that an entire culture understands all of it, and you might enjoy purchasing some of it just to get a taste.  The power tools are pretty obviously low-rent knockoffs, but the air tools are generally pretty reliable and some of the hand tools are solid.  Sometimes you make a purchase and are pretty damned sorry you did.  But other times you come away with a winner: my main digital multimeter, for instance, puts my original Craftsman multi to shame and only cost half as much.

I'm a solid nerd, by the way: I have a different multimeter for different tool bags, that's how big a tool hound I am.

But there are no motor pulleys to be had at Harbor Freight.  A few sheaves for cables, but that's in the winch section and not the kind of pulley I need.

*sigh*  Back to Fenco.

"Back again, huh?"


"What'd you forget?"

"I didn't forget.  I just can't get the pulley off and I've run out of bad words to try to jar it loose."

Of course Fenco had it.  Of course the one they had was adjustable so I can dial in the exact diameter I want.  Of course it was affordable, and nearby, and exactly what I needed.  Of course it was.  I had wandered away into the wilds of fickle retail, when the wholesale solidity I needed was a mere four blocks away from my office door the whole time.


I love you, Fenco.  I'm sorry I was unfaithful.