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>Life’s Better When You Know How Things Work

16 Dec

>…In which Nathan struggles with a left-handed thermocouple and wins, then gets to school a doomsayer for his encore.

As a short-term fix, he’d duct-taped the critter in place, which provoked this response:
“Geez. When the water heater blows and launches through your roof, I wonder if it will look like the contrail in LA last month.”

Nathan for the win: “It can’t blow. […] See, a thermocouple is a dielectric generator that puts out a couple of millivolts of electricity when it is heated (e.g., by the pilot light). It is connected to and holds open a normally-closed solenoid valve. If the pilot light goes out, the electricity stops, and the valve snaps shut, cutting off the gas. It does, in fact, fail safely, which is what happened when the thermocouple went bad[…].”

Yep. No moving parts. No external source of juice. Heat it up, it makes electricity; cool it down, it doesn’t. This is true no matter if the lack of heat is from the pilot light going out or the thermocouple falling out of its awkward, backward threads. (And if you think that’s fun, the ancient coal-converted-to-gas furnace in my house in Collegetown even ran the thermostat on the thermocouple voltage; talk about failsafe! And it would run and heat the house, albeit without forced air, even when the power was out.)

I don’t know when it became popular to assume that all household appliances are monsters teetering on the brink of explosion and that all American men are hapless boobs when it comes to fixing them, but it’s not true. It’s funny in sitcoms because it’s not true.
For the record, I vote with Nathan: left-hand threads on a common thermocouple is just stupid. I’d be very tempted to note the backwards threading on the water heater with a Sharpie or a paint pen.



2 Dec

>Sorry, nothing new for this evening — I have been seriously worried about Tam and the tooth; she copes with the discomfort well but hates all the folderol and overhead of dealing with the issue. I don’t blame her for that and especially not in light of this being her most major issue along those lines, ever. (Me, I have had lousy teeth all my life and welcome advances in dentistry with glee. They’ve kept just ahead of most of my teeth, sigh. I tend to nap while they drill and fill). Her dental insurance is what mine was until my current job (opens pocketbook, gnats fly out). So she’s checking her options.

Spent a half-hour this morning uploading files for the I Work On A Starship book in the wrong format and some time tonight correcting that. If — and it is iffy, the text is a PDF and they loathe PDFs because Us Customers struggle with formatting — I can get it right, I should be able to keep the price under $10.00 per each plus shipping. Autographs are free. Ask real nice and I might be able to get Big Tom, Handsome Dave and/or Conan the Objectivist to autograph them. Maybe even Turk Turon if the timing is right.

>I Often Wonder What The Brewers Drink

31 Oct

>Or is it Vintners? Vernors?* (Ale-8-One, maybe?)

There I was, shopping at Giant Home Improvement Store — ‘cos it’s “make more bookshelves,” time for some reason I’m not even real clear on, and it was my idea — and there, close by the entrance, an alarm company’s van is parked. His security system sometimes goes off with a warning as people walk by….

You may wonder, is it a polite chirp? One of those show-off alarms that runs through more and more of its repertoire the longer you linger, louder every time? Maybe the headlights and taillights flash?


It’s a great big dog, who barks and leaps up at the window if you get close.

So, a tip from a guy who’d know? On car-alarms, at least, go organic!
* Now owned by one of the Big Names (and arguably the kewlest) but still darned good.

>Ray. Guns.

18 Sep

>They’re here. Via Unwanted Blog.

Upside: Duh, rayguns!

Downside: Sin-ugly, slow and underpowered. Kind of like an arquebus. Kind of just exactly like an arquebus. Which grew up to be the AR-15, among other things; and the rate of change is faster these days. I would not be selling off the shiny Mylar armor just yet.

I give it, oh, three days before Massachusetts and California ban them — and New Jersey probably already has.

>Infernal Device!

16 Aug

>…It is under that name, I am told, that the hoplophobic state of Massachusetts bans at least some slingshots.

I don’t know if they forbid the kind I own; Wrist Rockets are supposedly Right Out and given that, this little item would give ’em conniptions:It’s called a Big Shot and hams speak highly of it. Thanks to the James Family Outpost (Iowa), have a look at the thing as listed in catalogs. Below, here it is with one of my size 9’s for scale. The projectile is a hackey-sack-ish weight, hauling a few hundred feet of string. Just as Og describes in comments to the previous post, very handy for setting ropes, pulling down deadwood, and other tasks. Jim the tree guy took down dead limbs as high as 75′!

Here’s a “before” look at the fallen limb.

>Smokable Guns!

14 Aug

>Displayed in competition at the Family Arts building, Indiana State Fair, 2010, not one but two examples:Yes, they’re tobacco pipes. Light one of these up at the next anti-Brady demonstration, for dual outrage….

>One Good Thing About Illinois

14 Aug

>Chief AJ lives there!

He has got the inside track on shooting a slingshot and his design is The Ritz. I picked up some ammo for mine today and within 3 shots, I was puttin’ ’em on target. The slingshot will bury a lead ball in a styrofoam archery target at 6-7 yards, too!

I got a few lead muzzle-loader balls, some glass slingshot ammo and a few paintballs. …Might be time to repaint the fence….