Archive for July, 2010

Sheila, Florence, and Mikey

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Our little ranch lost one of its members not long ago.  Sheila, our Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix is no longer with us.  She wandered off, we don’t know why – she wasn’t really a wandering dog.  I found her in the road a few days later – there wasn’t a lot left.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I’m sad that my dog is dead of course, but she was getting on up in years (almost 11).  It’s possible that she wandered off to die and the coyotes left her in the road.  It’s possible the coyotes killed her.  It’s possible she got hit by a car.  Not knowing how she ultimately died leaves me feeling unresolved though.  Lack of closure sounds a little cheesy for a pet (to me), but I guess that’s what I feel.

A few days before Sheila wandered off, we got the two newest members of the ranch – Florence and Mikey.  Both are miniature Australian Shepherds (hey, stick with what you like!).  Florence is named after the “Doggy” in the web-comic Freefall that Dominic reads (now we all read it).  She has readily joined the family and is a very joyful little dog.  Needs some work on manners, but she’s a great dog.  Mikey is named after the Shetland Sheepdog I had as a kid.  His name was Michael.  Mikey looks a lot like him only smaller, hence the diminutive name :).  Mikey is not at all sure about us.  He has decided the ranch is home, but we are not yet his people.  He’s run off several times, but he comes back.  We catch him and try to be calm and pet him and love on him a lot.  Hopefully he’ll decide he likes us before long.

So long Sheila, we’ll miss you.  Welcome home Florence and Mikey!

The air conditioner LIVES!!!

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I just thought I’d share that ;)

Marathon training, or lack thereof

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

If you follow my blog at all, you may be asking yourself “wasn’t he training for a marathon or some such?  I wonder whatever happened with that?”

And you’d be right, I *was* training for a marathon, and making steady progress.  But the training had to be put on hold for a while.  Why?  Two words: poison f’ing ivy.  Ok, that’s three words, but I it’s important to accentuate how I really feel about poison ivy.  I hate it.  I’m HIGHLY allergic to it.

About a month ago, I came into contact with some somewhere, and ended up with a systemic reaction.  My face broke out, my right eye was nearly swollen shut, I hade it on my legs and torso.  To put it delicately, I had it in other areas that made running unbearable (and no Allena, you don’t need to chime in with the gory details of that!).

I got a shot, and some pills and it has finally cleared to the point that training can resume.  I’m giving myself an official kick-off date for the resumption of training: Monday, July 19.  So watch for running updates next week!

Drama in your life

Monday, July 12th, 2010

One of the blogs I read had an interesting post today, and I thought I’d share a couple of highlights.

The following is a quote from the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield:

Creating soap opera in our lives is a symptom of Resistance…Sometimes entire families participate unconsciously in a culture of self-dramatization. The kids fuel the tanks, the grown-ups arm the phasers, the whole starship lurches from one spine-tingling episode to another. And the crew knows how to keep it going. If the level of drama drops below a certain threshold, someone jumps in to amp it up…It’s more fun than a movie. And it works: Nobody gets a damn thing done.

The follow up quote to that (which is what really struck me on a personal level) is from the author of the blog I read (Conversion Diary):

I think the primary difference is that Resistance drama is ego-focused, whereas the healthy ups and downs of the spiritual life are God-focused. When I get mired in bad drama I withdraw into a tiny solar system with my blazing ego at the center, where I fixate on who said what that offended me, whether people will think what I’m doing is great or terrible, whether what I do is good or bad in comparison to other people’s work…and I give nothing back to the world. I’m a black hole. Paralyzed by Resistance. Whereas on the occasions that I’m swept up in positive drama, I’m more focused on God than myself, more concerned with helping people than comparing myself to them, and, most tellingly, I’m still creating. I’m still giving something back to the world.

I see a lot of “ego” based resistance drama in my life (sadly).  It’s something I need to work on, and I thought this was expressed eloquently enough that it was worth sharing.

Ok, now we return you to your regularly scheduled posting

Friday, July 9th, 2010

No, seriously.  I mean it this time.  For real.

I’ve got a lot to talk about, so get yourself a beer, or a cup of coffee, or whatever.

If  you read my last post, you know that our AC has been out.  Sadly our AC is *still* out.  I can not believe what an ordeal it has been to get it fixed. 

First we try to get the guy who installed the system (it’s a ground-source heat pump) to come out and look at it.  This takes like two weeks, ‘cause he won’t return a frickin’ call.  He finally comes out, and says that the recirculation pump needs to be replaced.  The part will cost in the $275 ballpark, and he can be back with it the next day.  Next day comes and goes with no sign of him.  We call, leave a message, no response.  I leave a message every day for four days.  I never hear from the guy.  It’s been over a month and I *still* haven’t heard from him.  So, screw him says I, and I call another repairman.

Second repairman returns my call in 30 minutes, so immediately I’m impressed.  I explain the situation to him over the phone.  I get all the part numbers for the recirculation pump and the compressor unit and all that, and call the guy back.  He says he can get the part in three or four days and he’ll be out when he gets it.  Part will be in the $275 ballpark.  So, he actually shows up in three or four days with the part.  I’m dutifully impressed.  Except it’s the wrong part.  I don’t know how you get the wrong frickin’ part when you’re given the manufacturer’s name and the part number, but he managed.  He calls his supplier.  The correct part is going to be in the $400 ballpark, and it’s going to cost another $60 to get it shipped in a reasonable time.  We have now exceeded the budget for this repair by a significant amount, and we haven’t even included labor yet.  Screw him says I, I’ll do it myself.

Actually, that last bit didn’t go quite like that.  Allena (using the part number mentioned above) finds that the pump is readily available online for $230.  Looking at the pump, it doesn’t appear to be difficult to install.  It’s basically four bolts, a couple of gaskets, and three wires.  I don’t know much about AC units, but I know the basics of plumbing and this looks like a cake job.

We order the part, and spring for next day shipping.  Next day comes and goes, and no part.  Next day after that comes and goes and no part.  So I call them and it turns out that even though it said “in stock” on the web site, I guess that wasn’t meant to be taken literally.  There will be a one to two week lead time to get the part from the manufacturer.  Screw you I says, I’ll get it elsewhere so cancel my order (ok, I didn’t really tell them “screw you”, but I’m developing a theme here, ok?  And I really did cancel my order)

I find another place online with the part.  I call them, and ask if when their site says that an item is in stock, if they mean that for real.  Turns out, the part I want really *is* in stock, and they really can ship it to me that day.  Sold, says I!  We sprung for second day shipping, and lo and behold, two days later we finally have the pump!

I dutifully crawl under the house to replace the pump.  At this point I should mention I don’t really like crawling around under the house.  Spiders don’t bother me, but I *hate* having spider WEBS on me.  Weird, eh?  And of course there’re plenty of spider webs under the house.  I get the webs cleared out, and cram myself under the house, I get the first three bolts off, and of course the fourth one is stuck tight.  I can’t budge it.  I crawl out, grab a couple of BIG pipe wrenches (two feet of pipe wrench gives you a LOT of leverage ;) ), crawl back under and proceed to show that bolt who is boss.  I think I got another twist or two in and then it was stuck really fast.

So now I laying on my back under the house, wondering how the heck I’m going to get this last bolt off.  The easy way would be to use a torch to heat up the nut so it’ll come off the bolt.  Only I don’t have a torch.  Long story short, I end up using a hack saw to cut about a third of the way through the bolt.  This took about 40 minutes – not because it was a thick bolt (3/8 inch), but because it’s hard to cut things when you’re lying on your side under a house.  After my cutting, I applied the pipe wrenches to the problem again and snapped the bolt (did I mention that two feet of pipe wrench gives you a LOT of leverage?).

Finally, I have the old pump out, the new pump in place, and all I have to do is wire it.  I undo the wires from the old pump, but the ground wire is connected with a frickin’ torx screw which I don’t happen to have under the house with me.  Screw it says I, I’ll finish it in the morning (it was nearly midnight).

The next morning comes, and my shoulders hurt so bad I want to cry.  This is from fighting the stupid bolt so hard to try and get it off.  Sigh.  Next time I’ll skip straight to the hack saw.  I take some Tylenol, hunt for a torx wrench (don’t have one), find the wire cutters instead, and gimp my way back under the house.  Get the pump wired up, and crawl back out.

We try firing up the AC and get a whole lot of nothing.  So, after checking a lot of things, we discover that *&%^#$! repairman number two has left the wires from the pump disconnected in the compressor area.  I get them wired back up, we try again, still nothing.

Now this was just a test – I really wasn’t expecting it to work, or at least not very well, and here’s why:  You see, the water line we’re dealing with is a closed loop.  It doesn’t have any way to refill the water that spilled out when I pulled the pump out.  That means there’s a big ol’ air bubble in the line, and so the pump can’t do anything.  The water line/pump needed to be “primed” before it would work.  There were two spots – one where the water line runs into the compressor, and one where it ran out that looked like they might be priming ports.  However, these ports were not a standard size, so I set about to make a hose adapter.

I take the cap for the port to the hardware store and start looking for threaded pipe that it would fit, so I’d know the exact size, etc.  I could not find ANYTHING that would fit.  I went to two different hardware stores, and nothing.  Finally, I take the cap to a *third* AC repair guy.  He doesn’t know about ground-source heat pumps but he does have an adapter hose he thinks will work that he loans me.  What a great guy!

I run home with the hose.  Guess what?  It doesn’t quite fit.  So, I go back in to town to return the hose, and ask repairman number three for his advice.  He refers me to repairman number four who actually works on ground-source heat pumps.

We drive out to repairman four’s place, and have a nice chat with him.  He explains that our priming ports are most likely bleeder valves (to let air out of the water line).  This leaves a little pickle…how do we get the water in? 

We end up constructing our own priming port out of a T-joint and a shut-off valve.  We hook up the hose, turn on the water, kick on the AC, and nothing.  I was hopeful that the pump would suck in some of the water at least but I was wrong.  So, we try the air release valves, only they’re not apparently air release valves as they don’t do anything.  I have no idea what they’re for.  Neither does anybody else except the guy who put the system in in the first place and I can’t ever get him to call me back.

We *still* have no AC.  Our next step is to try and install some kind of bleeder valve ourselves.  Hopefully that will get it going!

That’s enough for now…next time, the adventures of laying laminate flooring, and the bane of poison ivy!