east coast plumbing fixes
Wednesday, January 27 2021
There was maybe three inches of snow on the ground this morning. I could've gotten away without shoveling out the driveway, but with that little snow, it was easy enough to do. That was how I began my day, and I was done by about 8:00am.
As you may know, Woodchuck, my main computer, is attached to five different LCD monitors, all of which I make use of as I work. The oldest of these monitors is a Samsung 204B with a resolution of 1600 by 1200 pixels that I bought in June of 2006. Over time, the metal prongs that run in a spring-loaded vertical track in the monitor's model of stand tend to fail, leaving the monitor drooping like a neglected flower in a vase. My 204B has been doing this for perhaps more than a year, and I've been wanting to replace it. The problem is that it's hard to find monitors with as many as 1200 pixels in the Y-dimension. Most of the monitors made these days have only 1080 pixels of vertical resolution, and I didn't want to give up those 120 pixels. I'd had another 204B that developed a black vertical line and stand failure back in 2013, and 7 years ago I replaced it with an ASUS VS24AH-P with pixel dimensions of 1920 by 1200. But monitors with those dimensions are too expensive to justify the extra band of pixels at the bottom. In recent years, affordable alternatives to such monitors has become available: 4K smart teevees. Such teevees come with screens having pixel dimensions of 3840 by 2160 pixels, which would replace two ASUS VS24AH-P-style monitors and provide an additional 960 pixels in the Y-dimension. Such devices are generally sold at a loss, with the idea that such money can be made up by spying on consumer behavior and charging for streaming services. With that in mind, today I took delivery of a Vizio V405-H19-R smart teevee. It's hard to find 4K teevees with a diagonal measure of less than 42 inches, but this one is only 40 inches, which makes the pixels about the right size for desktop use (that is, the DPI is about 100). My goal is to not use any of the smart teevee features of this television, which will keep me from ever having to deal with firmware updates or privacy issues. To avoid all this, I didn't take advantage of any of its networking features.
Before I can actually start using this new smart teevee to replace the monitors I normally use, I will have to build a new desk. The old desk, which I built back in May of 2007, assumes there will be two monitors. It also assumes less vertical height on those monitors. A new desk to accommodate the 40 inch 4k television screen will probably use a single swing arm attached to a post rising from the back, and it will have a different arrangement of drawers and cubbies.
My brother Don called me today and told me some amazing news: some friend of my mother's (Hoagie's) with plumbing skills had come out to the house and managed to get the water in the doublewide trailer at Creekside working again. Not only that, but both hot and cold water were working, and water was flowing in both bathrooms and the kitchen. Nothing had yet been done to fix the water in the old house I'd grown up in, but that there was any flushable toilet there at all was a huge improvement. I'm not sure what had led to this sudden fixing of the plumbing, but perhaps word had spread on the grapevine after I'd talked to various people and made posts in social media. Hoagie is embarrassed about the state of her house and kept it a secret that she had let things fall into such disrepair, so it could've just been that nobody knew she had been living this way.
Don called later this evening, after I'd already climbed into bed, to tell me that "our mother has a bone to pick with you." My brother tends to garble stories and leave out essential pieces of information, but from what he said, I got the impression that one of the people who had come out to the house earlier today as part of the plumbing fixing operation had also brought up the subject of Don's Facebook page. It bears mentioning that Don does not use the internet and has never been on Facebook. His Facebook account is one I created for trolling, and it is based loosely on Don's persona, if one can imagine him with all his same interests and the ability to write coherent sentences using correctly-spelled words. The url for this Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/dinosaurdictator and it features posts mostly about, well, dinosaurs and dictators (which have always been two of Don's main interests, subjects he will attempt to discuss with complete strangers). I included shout-outs to both dinosaurs and dictators in Don's cover image, which features an old black and white photo of Adolf Hitler reviewing his troops while a pair of tyrannosaurs follow distractedly at some distance.
The Facebook page I made for Don.
Click to enlarge.
The "bone" Hoagie had to pick with me was apparently about the existence of this page, though Don didn't elaborate. As for Don, he seemed ambivalent about it, though when pressed by Gretchen, he said he would've preferred that his Facebook page be a celebration of his famous marathon-running grandfather, Clarence DeMar. (This, I should point out, makes no sense; Don may be proud of his grandfather, but he's not someone Don has ever been obsessed with.) After hearing Don talking about this, Gretchen insisted that I take his fake profile down from Facebook immediately. But, as I then explained, this is something I can no longer do. I've been locked out of that account for years, having been unable to pass one of the pop-quizzes that Facebook occasionally forces upon owners of suspicious Facebook identities. So Don's fake Facebook persona persists, and nobody can do anything about it.
This evening after work, I decided to address a plumbing issue in the "Roman bathroom," the bathroom off the basement hallway that, these days, is only used by Powerful. He'd complained that the sink's hot water tap produced only a trickle of water. I'd determined that the problem was the shut-off valve, which seemed to have siezed up (and perhaps filled with debris. Normally it's an easy task to desolder such a shut-off valve and install a new one. But since this particular valve was so low in the house's plumbing, draining it was not easy. I let it drain for a good 20 minutes, and still water was coming out of it. Eventually I tired of the wait and blasted it with flame, hoping to melt its rubber and plastic innards so I could open up a lower drainage point. When that filled the air with noxious fumes without any benefits, I busted out a drill and drilled down the center of the valve stem. That made it drain faster, but there was still enough water dripping down the line that I still couldn't heat the valve enough to desolder it from the copper pipe it was attached to. Eventually the water slowed down enough for me to do the extraction, but by then I was light-headed and short-tempered from the fumes. I was also irritated that the cats (Celeste and Diane) kept wanting to explore the normally-inaccessible void beneath the sink.
When attaching a new shut-off valve to the copper plumbing, I soldered on a male half inch NPT fitting to which I could screw on a valve with a threaded female NPT attachment. In order to solder on that fitting, I had to block the trickle of water still coming down the pipe. I did this with a wad of paper that I thought I was able to remove before screwing on the new shut-off valve. But when I repressurized the plumbing, the hot water tap produced barely a trickle at all. It turned out there was still a bunch of paper stuck in the plumbing. It came out in sudden pop when I removed the shut-off valve, and I was left with my thumb stuck on the end of the pipe, holding back a fair amount of water at fairly low pressure. Fortunately by this time both Gretchen and Powerful had returned from the places they'd been, and I could yell and have them fetch me buckets and PVC pipe so I could channel the water to some place where it wouldn't cause too much trouble. In the end, the repair wss a success, and now the hot water tap produced a good flow of water.
Meanwhile Gretchen had made linguine with a cheesy cashew sauce, mushrooms with kale, and a somewhat trashy salad.
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