pyesetz: (woof)

Saturday morning, we awoke to find no hot water.  The pilot was out on the water heater and it would not stay lit when I pressed the igniter button.  Of course, it was a holiday weekend (isn’t it always?), so we just did without for a few days.  We had a kettle and the stove was still working, but hot showers were unavailable.

I invoked the power of the INTERNET! and searched for knowledge.  The usual cause of “pilot won’t stay lit” is that the thermocouple has failed, so the water heater cannot sense that the pilot is on, so it stops feeding gas down the pilot tube in order to prevent an explosion.  I found a set of owner’s manuals at the manufacturer’s website.  None of them exactly matched my model, but the interesting thing was their owner’s manuals include instructions for “replacing the thermocouple”, implying that this repair does not require a plumber’s licence.  I usually limit myself to electronics repairs.  I generally don’t do plumbing, and have never done a gas-line repair before.

I followed the disassembly instructions until I was able to remove the pilot-assembly, shown here.  The top item is the thermocouple, the middle item makes a spark to ignite the pilot, and the bottom item provides gas for the pilot.  Thankfully, on this model the pilot’s gasline has a screw coupling, so I didn’t have to bend the gas-tube for access, then carefully (one of several places in the manual where they warned me to be careful) bend the thing back for re-installation without cracking it and causing an explosion.

Online sources told me that water-heater thermocouples are generic; the only thing that matters is the “length”.  I thought they meant the length of the tip part, but actually they meant the length of the copper tail that connects the thermocouple to the control unit.

On Tuesday I set out to buy a replacement thermocouple.  Since this is a rather specialized product, I decided to skip Home Depot and drive directly to One Stop Plumbing.  I brought along driving directions for Mark’s Supply as a backup.  The guy at the counter at One Stop said they didn’t have it and suggested I go to Mark’s Supply — for which I already had directions!

The first sign of trouble was the sign outside Mark’s front door: “Contractor and Trade Sales Only”.  They did not want my business, but there was nowhere else to go, so I went in anyway.  I showed the counter clerk my pilot-assembly, but she had no idea what to do — her computer wanted her to enter a part number!  She called someone for help, then went to the stockroom to fetch me a part.  But the thing she got was a thermoelectric generator, which is a totally different part that happens to look vaguely similar and have a similar name.  I was stumped.  Now what?

Another customer, who happened to be in the store and happened to be a gas plumber, took pity on me and told me to look at the end-cap of the aisle behind me, where they were selling thermocouples.  Great!  But which size do I need?  I had forgotten to measure the length of the copper tail.  (I had also forgotten to write down the model number for my heater, as some online sources recommend, but that turned out to be unnecessary.)  The other customer looked at my assembly and suggested that I get the 18-inch model.  Only $8.23!

I drove the 24 km back to my house, then examined my purchase.  The two ends looked right, the press-fit adaptor looked right — but the length was wrong.  There was no way it could work.  I actually needed a 23-inch tail.  So I drove back to the store and bought the 24-inch model.  Only $7.48!  I have no idea why it cost 9% less to buy an item that contains 30% more copper.  Maybe it’s a more popular size?

So now it’s time to complete the repair.  I decided to take photographs of my steps, so this post would have some decoration.  That decision drastically increased the repair time because I am a terrible photographer.  My forepaws shake a lot and — even bracing the camera against a door-frame — it often takes me 3‒6 tries to get a photo that’s sharp enough to use.

Anyway, here is the pilot-assembly with the new thermocouple installed.  The new one has a lighter tip and a brass-coloured ferrule at the bottom.

Here is the pilot-assembly after re-attachment to the burner guts.  In this photo, the pilot-assembly has been flipped over, so now the thermocouple etc are pointing left and the pilot gas-tube is attached on the right.  Once again, I am really glad there was a detachable coupling so I didn’t have to bend the pilot gas-tube for access!

The paint chips at the top-left and bottom-right of this photo are because the back door to my basement is in serious need of a new paint job.

Here we see that the flame-spreader plate has now been re-attached, which partially covers the pilot-assembly (poking out to the left).  Also, the thermocouple and igniter wires have been threaded through the front plate and clamped in a strain-relief thingy.

Note the grey sealing gasket which is supposed to be attached to the front plate, but has partially peeled off.  The manual emphasizes how terribly important it is to have a tight seal around the plate to avoid risk of explosion.  But I thought it would only matter for a moment while I’m screwing the thing into place, so I used two pieces of cellophane tape to hold the gasket in place while shoving the burner guts back into the water heater.

All that’s left is to re-attach the igniter wire, thermal-overload detector wires (not shown here), thermocouple wire, pilot gas-line, and main gas-line to the control unit.

And now, the final act.  Turn on main gas line.  Wait.  Sniff.  No gas!

Turn main control knob to PILOT.  Press and hold red button.  Press black igniter button.  Press black button a few more times.  There is a spark, but no flame.  Shit!

Wait a bit.  Press and hold red button again.  Press black button.  We have ignition!  Hold red button for sixty seconds.  And now, the moment of truth: will things be any better after this repair than they were before, unlike this previous time?  Release the red button.  The pilot stays lit!  Yessss!  The day is saved, thanks to Hero Doggie!

Turn main control knob to ON.  Main burner starts up!  No gas smell!  But, after a few minutes, there is a sizzling noise.  Once again I invoke the power of the INTERNET! to determine that this is probably just water vapour from the burnt gas, condensing on the cold bottom of the main water tank and dripping onto the flame.  Nothing to worry about, but sounds bad.  I decide to go take a nap for half an hour so I don’t have to listen to it.

Upon my return, the heater is quiet.  It has finished heating up the water tank.  There is no smell of gas, but there is a definite “burnt” odour.  Examining the front plate, I see that the pieces of cellophane tape are now crisp and their adhesive apparently melted and ran down the plate.  Oh well, doesn’t seem like a big deal.

And so, once again, the City of Townsville is saved.  My mate and offspring are now provided with running hot water — such a modern convenience!  I will probably never have to do this again, because the Government of Canada is telling people to stop using these old-style water heaters and switch over to tankless models, which do not have pilots.

pyesetz: (woof)
That's the title for this Reddit post.



In other news, on Monday I gave another lecture about stock-trading — or rather, about my inability to make any money at it.  I described the extreme efforts I had to go through to compile an archive of 20,000 hours of trading in one particular stock-ticker (IWM, an exchange-traded mutual fund that holds shares in the 2000 stocks that are just below the S&P 500).  One person asked if I was going to "liberate" this data.

Yes I can!  Unfortunately, intellectual-property licensing agreements prevent me from posting it here (I can give it out only to "a limited number of individuals", without charge, for noncommercial use, on an occasional and irregular basis).  I tried posting the data to the Google Group for the programmer's meetup, but my message has gotten stuck in the queue.  Please comment if you either want it or don't want it.
pyesetz: (woof)


Click on the image to see other examples of "animals dressed as other animals".  The "dog pretending to be a bunny" looks cute.  What breed is that dog pretending to be an ewok?

The cat pretending to be a shark seems to be having a good time, while the cat dressed as a spider looks to be impatiently waiting for this stupid photo-shoot to be over.

More adventurous photographers could perhaps reverse some of these.  How about a spider pretending to be a dog?  A binturong pretending to be a red panda?  A horse dressed as an MLP character?
pyesetz: (Default)


— via Reddit.  Apparently it's a repost, but new to me!
pyesetz: (Default)
In this photomontage of unnamed FurCon attendees, two of the furries are shown wearing headless suits and holding the heads in their forepaws.  Sacrilege‽

(Via metafilter).
pyesetz: (star-of-David)
In 2007, Wifey and I tried making a Star of David decoration, but it didn’t come out well.  For 2008, I let my house be the undecorated one on our street.  For 2009, Wifey decided to invite over our little homeschoolers’ group for a party, so SOMETHING had to be done.



So this is what I did (click images to embiggen):  I pretended that the ropelight was a neon sign tube, which I wrestled into a star-shape and then covered the non-star parts with black electrical tape.  The ropelight has a fairly large minimum curvature, so I curled it into loops at each corner (covered with tape) to create the appearance of a sharper change of direction than a ropelight can actually manage.  This is pretty much exactly what [livejournal.com profile] xolo suggested in a comment on my 2007 post.

This wooden star-of-David form is the same one that we’ve been using for many years.  Previously it was covered in many strands of Christmas lights, with the controls set to “random chasing patterns”.  But those lights stopped working during the move to Canada.  The yellow blob in the window is a hanukkiah; see the daytime photo below.

Blah blah blah.  Need more text because the pictures are too big.  Yadda yadda.

At the Hanukkah party, we cobbled together some electronic gizmos to make a Skype videophone for our livingroom; we used it to call a former member of our group who has moved back to the States.  They were familiar with Skype but we had not previously used it.  The setup for our livingroom was quite easy!

After the typical conference-call greetings, they panned their camera around so we could see how much snow they got; then we pointed our camera out the window to show how little we got (because the jet stream is quite far South right now).

We had a Secret SantaHanukkah Harry gift exchange.  It was notable how many people got fellow family members when they pulled a name randomly out of a hat, but perhaps this is related to the birthday paradox.

Maybe I should make the pictures smaller.


pyesetz: (sozont)


Shouldn't there be four more digits in the corner?
pyesetz: (Default)
Still haven't mailed those tax forms—my accountant doesn't like IRS form 8833 and wants me to use form 2555 instead.  Still haven't got a website to show you—I have one now, but the hostname got screwed up due to the multiple "anti-fraud phone call" failures and still isn't quite worked out yet.  So here's a picture!

I should try that in my basement.  Like most older houses around here, mine has a stone+dirt floor that is always wet and so is covered with pallets (which then grow mildew).  Still don't have a sump pump because I haven't scraped together the $1000 to dig a sump and run a drainpipe out to the back-yard spillway.  I think the spillway is actually the concrete covering for the pipe that runs from the well into the basement (so the previous owners could have "running" water).  Maybe I can buy a pump when the IRS gives me that multi-kilobuck refund they've been sitting on for over a year.  Unless the sun goes nova first.
pyesetz: (Default)
Behold the glory that is the bone-eating snot flower!  How did I find it?  This thing has its own website, which I found by Googling for its Linnaean name, after being unsatisfied with the description of it found in the Wikipedia article for its genus (the thing was discovered by suspending cow bones above the ocean floor and waiting to see what would show up to eat them).  I got to that genus article by clicking on the link "bone-eating snot flower" in the Wikipedia article on polychaete worms, which I got to by searching Wikipedia for "polychaete" after seeing the word in a blog post by Pharyngula entitled A Face You've Got to Love (which includes a photograph of "Barry", a 4ft long tropical bristle-worm and distant cousin of the snot flower).

Isn't the Internet a wonderful thing?

Sadly, the original article that Pharyngula linked includes this quote from the aquarium's curator: We also discovered that he is covered with thousands of bristles which are capable of inflicting a sting resulting in permanent numbness.  Since Barry is described as an extremely aggressive animal, I'm guessing that multiple aquarium personnel suffered permanent injuries while they were trying to figure out what to do with the mystery creature that was eating the fish in their display tank.  When you take a job like that, you never think it's going to be you.  Permanent injuries always happen to the other guy...
pyesetz: (Default)
Furry

Well, there's the Furry Fandom.  I have received some LJ comments I should answer.  The KW furmeets continue, but I think I'll wait for warmer weather before attending another of those—they meet *outside* at a plaza and then stand around in the cold deciding which restaurant to go into.

Computers

My laptop is working reasonably well, but the suspend/resume performance is disappointing: Linux takes 14 seconds to resume, while Windows gets it done in two seconds.  Unfortunately, the Linux-on-TOUGHBOOK community is much smaller than the Linux-on-ThinkPad community I used to be in, so it's much harder to find and copy the fixes that others have discovered.  Linus recently blogged about how soul-crushingly hard it is to figure out the root cause of a suspend/resume failure and how much better life is after you do it.  (And don't miss his post about Christmas toys!)

My laptop has 512 MB of RAM, which is considerably more than any other computer I've ever owned, but still it seems not to be enough.  When I run Emacs, Opera, Kmail, and OpenOffice all at the same time, there's a whole lotta page-swapping goin' on—so I avoid running OpenOffice.  Apparently all those cute 3-D desktop effects that I've enabled eat up a lot of RAM.  Some sources say that the CF-Y5 laptop is picky about specific chips on memory-expansion cards and only certain cards will work (the ones *they* sell, of course), while other sources say that any old 172-pin PC2-4200 microDIMM DDR2-533 card will work.  These days a 1 GB card costs about $80.  I'm so old, I remember paying $1000 for a 5 MB hard drive!

More problems: occasional failures to repaint one of the GNOME panels after resume, and occasional failures in the gnome-system-monitor app which just stops updating until I change something its “Properties” panel.  My guess is that some inter-process signal is getting lost due to timing issues.  I just want to repaint the screen, but I searched all over Google and couldn't find a simple repaint-the-screen app for X11.  The old twm window manager had a "repaint" menu function, but apparently that isn't supposed to be needed anymore.  So today I received an email from the “emacs-devel” list where somebody complained that Emacs was leaking memory and as proof they provided their output from the xrestop command.  I don't have that command installed, but I *do* have one called xrefresh which begins with the same letters.  Duh!  So now I've set up a menu command for repainting the screen (the problems haven't come up since, so I don't know yet whether this command will fix anything).

And why are there no screenshots for gnome-system-monitor, anywhere on the web, that show its "closed" form where it pretends to be perfmeter?  (See perfmeter screenshot halfway down the page.)  It's like some sort of conspiracy or something...

Politics

Speaking of conspiracies, did you know that the Bush Administration ended last Friday?  That was the last workday for most Bushies, who turned in their badges and went home for the last time.  The government is running on skeleton staff during this MLK Jr. weekend until Tuesday's inauguration.

So Obama flew from Washington to Philadelphia so he could then take the train back.  One pundit, at a loss to explain why the Commander-in-Chief-elect did this, suggested that “His magic carpet was presumably out of order.”  Obama’s official explanation had something to do with following in the footsteps of Abe Lincoln, who killed 600,000 of his own countrymen in an avoidable war, suspended Habeus Corpus, depropertized the slaves of Southern landowners without eminent-domain compensation, and wrote some really nice speeches.

Look, I'm all in favour of having Hope for Obama to bring some Change that the whole world can Believe In, but the guy is obviously a power-mad lunatic just like anyone else crazy enough to run for the presidency.  His nuclear-weapon policy makes perfect sense for a guy who is eagerly looking forward to being in possession of the nuclear football, that magic talisman of Presidential Power, the One Ring of invincibility, the only reason (that I can think of) why nobody ever dared to arrest Bush despite his national-TV admissions of criminal acts.  And WTF is going on with Obama's TARP policy?  So he doesn't want transparency in government after all?

pyesetz: (Default)
I browsed through boners.com recently.  That site used to offer some really awful pictures, such as a photo of a guy who had just had his head cut off by a helicopter blade.  It's mostly tamer these days, but here's a pair:
"Asshole".  Get it?  Poor thing...
A Google search for "street to be extended by authority of city of Franklin" suggests that these signs are located in Tennessee.  Apparently the city and the federal gov't are having a bit of an argument as to who has authority over local roads.  Or maybe it's a local farmer who hopes the Feds will back him up?
pyesetz: (sozont)


My favourite part is the blood spatter that just happens to be covering the spot in the comic's text where a serial comma isn't, and this becomes important four lines later.

When I went to Wikipedia to get that reference for "serial comma", I half-expected to see a trivia item about xkcd's mention of it today, because xkcd is more notable than are serial commas.  But no, and I didn't feel like adding it.
(What?  You wanted more "Mass. Trip of Doom" posts?)
pyesetz: (arctic-fox)
Once again I am motivated to post by the thought that Pharyngula will unfriend me if I stay silent for an entire month.  He just got back from a trip to the Galápagos Islands.  He whines that he had to stand in line for two hours to get permission to leave Ecuador.  Well, um, it took me over 20,000 times as long as that to get permission to leave the USA—and I'm a citizen!
Earlier this month I drove to Massachusetts to attend my brother-in-law's wedding.  It was not a fun trip.  I lived in Mass. for 26 years and left with many unpleasant memories (but not all bad: I did meet Wifey there).  The state's mood is terrible these days.  How does the most left-wing state in the Union deal with being the evil aggressor in a pointless war?  They try not to think about it.  Just "support the troops" (because it's not their fault that the CinC is a thrall of Satan) and rename bridges and squares after the newly-fallen.  I suppose I'll do a trip report at some point, after kid#1 finishes expurgating her diary so I can remember what happened.

Near the end of the trip, I saw a baby frog sitting on the siding of the hotel.  It was a very placid frog, just sitting there while I repeatedly tried to get my El Cheapo digital camera to take a decent photo of it.  For this second shot, the camera is maybe three inches away from the frog, who is looking directly at the lens!  The second picture might be "actual size" on your computer screen.

While in the States, I redeemed my children's US Savings bonds, because the thought of owning anything denominated in greenbacks makes me sick (I don't claim to have any rational basis for this).  Because there were so many bonds, I had to go to two different banks on two different days to redeem them.  Bizarre US banking regulations required me to receive the proceeds as cash, not cheques; I presume that a report was made to FinCEN about my unpatriotic behaviour.  Thankfully the amount of currency involved was not enough to require a report to FINTRAC upon my return to Canada—one of the US banks gave me receipts, but the other insisted on completely untraceable cash!  I'm not really a money-launderer, I'm just drawn that way...  Anyway the money is now invested in Canadian government bonds under the children's names.

On the way home, we had planned to stop by the Yankee Candle factory in South Deerfield MA.  The Mass Pike was backed up for miles, so I didn't feel like paying to use it.  I took the back roads, which led me through Ware MA.  Of course I thought of [livejournal.com profile] shun_ri, who recently unfriended me.  Again.  And it's probably permanent this time.  Shun Ri was the first LJer to spontaneously friend me.  I didn't know then how rare that would turn out to be.  I expect [livejournal.com profile] rabbitswift will be the next to go.
   


My dog "Walnut" is clearly having a better time in Canada than he did in the States, because he's getting more walkies now!

Back in June, I started to hear strange noises while sitting in my basement.  One day, a vole poked his head out from behind the washing machine.  He actually sat there staring at me for several seconds, before realizing that I am (A) a much bigger animal and (B) an enemy.  I live a block from a horse-feed factory (now in the process of shutting down) and there are farms only 1 km away from me in several directions, so this area has many voles (and feral cats to eat them).  I bought a mousetrap and baited it with peanut butter.  The next morning, I was the proud owner of a dead rodent.  Ain't modern technology grand?

Dead vole photo 1, Dead vole photo 2.
pyesetz: (Default)
So I played around with the Hero Machine character generator and came up with this.  The generator's selection of tails is quite poor — nothing remotely canine.  Coloration options for the companion animal also were rather limited.  But ultimately the poor quality of this drawing is entirely my fault.

I actually own several pairs of "hot pants" in the style shown, but you probably don't want to see me wear them.

Hat tip: Bark Bark Woof Woof
pyesetz: (Default)
Go ahead!  Flag it!  I dare ya!  If I get banned, I'll just move to GreatestJournal.  You can't build a wall around free software!  (Thank you [livejournal.com profile] brad.)
Explicit Adult Content:If you are a female furry, there is a greater than average chance that your body has PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome.  This syndrome causes insulin resistance (which makes you fat).  It also increases androgen levels, causing masculinization of the brain (e.g., an interest in games like D&D).  Worst of all, your ovaries have difficulty releasing eggs.  In order to make a baby, you might need to take noxious drugs like Clomid and have your boyfriend copulate with you on a strict schedule dictated by your doctor.  And if you want to know more about my sex life, just ask.
Offensive ContentFundagelical Christians are worshipping Satan, whom they call "Jesus".
Hate SpeechEveryone who voted for GW Bush in 2004 is an enemy of the free world.  On an unrelated note, Death to Infidels!
Illegal ActivityI would like to buy a lockpick, which is illegal in Canada.  Will anyone sell me one?  Also, I'd like some instruction on how to use them.
Nude Images of MinorsMy icon photo is of an unclothed dog.  All dogs are legally minors.
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
I have yet to find a source of weather predictions for my area that is accurate enough to be of any use.

(Northeast lawn of my house)


(Northwest lawn of my house)
Yesterday and the day before I received 11 emails from Environment Canada entitled "WINTER STORM WARNING for Waterloo—Wellington".  These two citites are 300 km apart; apparently the forecast is aimed at all 30,000 km² of Western Ontario.

The official statements:
Date/TimeStorm locationSnowfallWarns
WedThu
21-Nov 12:01Missouri5-105-10Ice pellets
21-Nov 17:35Illinois1010Ice pellets, Low visibility
21-Nov 22:46Illinois1010Ice pellets, Low visibility, in a line from Toronto to Goderich
22-Nov 00:25Ohio1010Ice pellets, Low visibility, in a line from Toronto to Goderich
22-Nov 05:01Ohio--5-10Freezing rain in progress from Cobourg to Kingston
22-Nov 05:40Ohio--5-10Ice pellets, freezing rain in progress in Kitchener
22-Nov 07:34Pennsylvania--5-10Freezing rain in progress in Kitchener
22-Nov 09:13Lake Erie--2-5"The worst is over", snowsqualls from London to Barrie
22-Nov 10:39New York--2-5"Ended", snowsqualls from London to Barrie
22-Nov 13:53New York--2-5"Ended", lake-effect flurries
22-Nov 16:59New York----It's over

What actually happened:
  • Rain turned to ice pellets around 2 AM.
  • ½ cm or less of freezing rain fell during the wee hours (note: not predicted until already in progress)
  • About 5 cm of snow during wee hours of Wednesday night, approximately 0 on Thursday.  Not even enough to cover the grass!
  • No snowsqualls or lake-effect flurries.  No white-out blizzards.
The overall effect here is of a weather service that is so afraid of missing a Big Event that they predict 15 of the last 10 recessions.  I don't know what they're talking about re "traditional snowsquall belt from London to Barrie"; the never-wrong Wikipedia says lake-effect snow only rarely gets even as far as Kitchener.

And the stupidest thing?  Starting Wednesday night it was abundantly clear from radar that the storm was passing well to the south of the line from Waterloo—Wellington!  Don't these meteorologists actually *look* at their equipment, or are they required by law to recycle successful forecasts of the past?
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
Success!  Got our immigrant visas, visited Niagara Falls and Canada's Wonderland, bought a house, even got a mortgage with no job or national credit history!  What a nice country—I can hardly wait to move!

Below the fold is my trip report.  It's rather heavy on the photos (over a megabyte of images).

Read more... )
pyesetz: (Default)
Here is a Flickr pool of visual jokes based on HTML tags, which was cross-posted here and thence to BoingBoing.  Below are three of the wrongest pictures in the pool, which do the worst job of visually explaining what the HTML tags do, along with one picture that is correct in several ways simultaneously.  Can you tell which is which?

         
pyesetz: (Default)
So I filled out the pictures-for-your-LJ-interests meme, but I couldn't get the stupid program to give me the HTML code at the end, so I took a screenshot. Well a bunch of screenshots, spliced together.  And as long as I was in the graphics editor, I annotated each picture with the interest it represents (sorry if that spoils the meme for you).  There are some repeating motifs in these pictures, such as lightsabers and an anti-Bush Administration attitude.

Clik on image below to see it at full size.  It's 2MB, so non-broadband users might want to skip it.

That Interests meme

Profile

pyesetz: (Default)
Pyesetz/Песец

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