I Hate Plumbing

I’ve been know to tinker with things at home – I’m generally able to fix things that are broken, and build new things that need to be built.  There is, however, one thing that really don’t like: plumbing. No, let’s get it right, I hate plumbing. And yes, you guessed it, I spent my weekend playing plumber.

All because my washing machine was on the verge of dying.

Two weeks ago, we had a new clothes washer and dryer delivered.  We felt like we’d finally won a home appliance battle – we were looking for one, there was a great sale and it was a Consumer Reports’ Best Buy.  The stars and moons had aligned. Usually they just die with no warning. Sears brings us the stuff, they put it in, take away the old ones, all is right with the world.

Until we washed clothes.

We start to use the washer, and we notice that every time it runs it sounds like every water pipe in the house is banging around. Apparently, new washers have valves that open and close really quick, and it causes the pipes to jump every time the water shuts off at the machine.  As I watch them from the utility/furnace room, on the complete opposite end of the house, I can physically see the pipes moving. Not cool. I can just see one of the copper fittings working itself loose eventually, leading to the kind of plumbing issues that are really expensive and there’s no way I can fix.

So, here’s the plan:

  1. Check the owner’s manual, to see if there’s anything that can be adjusted on the machine. Yes, I RTFM. Remember, I build software applications, which means I write documentation in hopes that some user somewhere will actually read the documentation.  No luck finding an answer there.
  2. Climb into the crawlspace and make sure all of the pipes are secure, which turned into 5-6 hour Saturday afternoon and evening adventure. In and out, cutting and fastening mounting blocks for the pipes. Most were done ok, but there were a few that could have been done better.
  3. Climb out, put all of the tools away.
  4. Wash clothes again – same problem.
  5. Swear.
  6. Check the manual again, to see if its a water pressure issue. I’m on a well system, so the pressure’s not the same as city utility.  Checked the well pressure tank – well within normal operating range.
  7. Swear again.
  8. Start making plans to call a plumber on Monday morning.
  9. Really swearing now, because this stupid washer and dryer is really starting to get expensive.
  10. Calm down a little bit, start doing some research to see if I’m missing something.
  11. Read through about 20 different home repair how-to’s and related things, and stumble across a water heater installation that mentions something called a hammer arrester. It sounded just weird enough to dig a little further.

About five minutes later, I realized that was my answer.

The quick-close valves that supply the machine were causing a back surge in pressure every time they shut off – and the pipes moved/banged/jumped every time it did it. Apparently this is called a water hammer, and they make arresters for it. The next thought was at least there was only going to be one call on Monday, to the plumber.  I figured this was going to be an install kind of thing in the plumbing somewhere, which is the point where I get off the plumbing bus and hire out.

Upon further digging (because I usually don’t like losing to machines) I realized I could buy one with washing machine connections at {name your preferred home improvement store}.  Which really isn’t entirely true, because the only place I could find one was Menards. Of course, the store closest to me only had one, which is how I know nobody else had them.

Twenty minutes of installation time to put on two Mini-Rester Residential Water Hammer Arresters (model 660-H to be precise), move the stuff back into place, and hope this fixes it.  If it doesn’t, it’s plumber time. Fortunately, this worked.

One Saturday of crawspace fun, five different home improvement/hardware stores and a fair amount of foul language – all in the name of clean clothes.

The Bridegroom Report is on Hiatus

As you might have guessed, the Bridegroom Report for 2010 is still not available. It’s been a very busy last few months around here for everyone, and frankly there hasn’t been time to get it all assembled in the way that I want to do it.

So I’m thinking the report will be on hiatus for 2010. My apologies to those who have been waiting for it. As for 2011, I’m not entirely certain how I’m going to assemble one – if at all.

In most years, I post things to this space throughout the year, and hold a few things back to be included in the end of the year report. What I’m finding is that by taking this approach, I don’t keep the Pug Hollow News site entirely fresh with interesting things.  Then the end of the year rolls around, and there’s simply no time to get it all put together. The past few years, it’s been increasingly difficult to get it done – and in the case of this past year, the time to work on was simply not there.

So for right now, I’m going to take the Report down a little bit different path:

  • I’ve spent a fair amount of time writing on my business site this year, something I promised myself I’d do this year. As a result, there’s been less time to write on Pug Hollow News.
  • One result of writing more frequently (regardless of which site) is that I’m learning better ways to assemble my thoughts and get them to the keyboard a little faster.
  • With that said, I’m going to do a better job of posting here on a more regular basis. I know I’ve said similar things in the past, but I think I can do it.
  • I’m going to haul out the items that I’ve been holding back for the report, and get them to these pages soon. Though a few of them may be a little dusty, they’re still worthy of posting.
  • When Thanksgiving rolls around, I’ll take a look at what I’ve posted throughout the year, and assemble a “Best of 2011” collection (with maybe one holiday hold-out).

It’s both easier for me and more entertaining for you if I can deliver some smaller bits of Bridegroom Report-style humor throughout the year. The blogging format that we use now makes delivering in that mode a lot more convenient for everyone. My hope is that you agree.

Over the years, I’ve greatly appreciated all of the kind words many of you have shared regarding your fondness for The Bridegroom Report. Frankly, I enjoy writing and assembling it. More accurately, I enjoy writing, but only when I can take the time to enjoy it. Just slapping something together for the sake of delivering it just didn’t feel right. Since I do value your opinions of my work, I didn’t think it was fair to deliver a half-baked or hurried product to those who look forward to reading it.

The Christmas Day newspaper is no different than most other days in terms of style and format (other than the advertisements, of course). Pug Hollow News will be similar in that philosophy. The idea of an end of the year compendium is still not out of the question, but for the time being, look to get your Pug Hollow fix in smaller doses. I’ll do my best to keep up my end of the deal by making it worth your while to visit often.

Dear Indiana Legislature

This morning, I posted something on both Facebook and my Bridegroom Technologies site, regarding the current state of affairs in the Indiana House of Representatives. I wrestled with where to post it; for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into, I decided to not post it here.

But I do invite all of our faithful and devoted Pug Hollow News followers to read the post here.  Thanks.

REVISED 02/19/2018:

Changed my mind, posting it here as well.

A brief departure from tech talk – in fact, it might be the only one in this space.  But there’s something that’s been bugging me, and as a result, I think there are a few things I need to say.

I’m not one for being overly public about my politics. It usually a toxic discussion topic, particularly in open space like this. So rather than express a lot of my opinions on which bills I’m for and against (because then things get really toxic), I’d like to vent about something a little bit bigger and more fundamental.  The electoral process, or more specifically, what the original constitutional framers had in mind when they came up the idea of electing representatives for the population.

My disclaimer: I’m not a political expert, nor a constitutional history expert.  I think that puts me in the majority of people, so I don’t think I’m speaking out of line here.

Today is the fourth consecutive day of the Indiana House Democrats’ walkout, and in my opinion, a gross dereliction of the duties they were elected to perform on behalf of their constituents.

For those needing a quick fill-in, the situation here in Indiana is similar to that in the Wisconsin state senate.  In condensed form:

In Indiana, both the House and Senate are currently Republican majorities. In this past election, the 100-member House went from a 52-48 Democratic majority to a 60-40 Republican majority. The Senate was previously a Republican majority, but widened slightly after the election (was 33-17, now 36-14).  I don’t think it takes a nuclear physicist to see that the voters of the state chose a new approach to things – a significant swing to see in one election cycle. And by the way, that’s what elections are about – if you don’t like what’s going on, elect new people. Majority wins.  Pretty simple formula.

The Republican-led State Legislature has not been secretive about its agenda. The one surprise (and it wasn’t a gigantic one) was a “right to work” bill that “would have limited unions’ collective bargaining powers”, to which the Democratic minority was greatly opposed. This piece of legislation was not on the agenda radar of the Governor, who has stated on numerous occasions that there are “better times and places to have that conversation” other than this year’s legislative session. But nonetheless, it was introduced by the House Republicans.

The Democratic minority, who pledged bipartisanship and compromise right after the November elections, took an interesting approach to dealing with the agenda. Rather than debate the bill (now more than one bill) or actually negotiate in any way, they decided that the only way to prevent the bill from going to vote was to not show up when the House convened – therefore resulting in a failure to achieve a quorum. No quorum, no business. Nothing happens, other than flushing the reported $20,000/day it’s costing the State of Indiana’s TAXPAYERS to not conduct business.

To reduce this scenario down to something my five-year-old son can understand (if he had any interest in what was going on):

  • The Democratic minority does not have the votes to stop what they’re interested in stopping.
  • When they were the majority, they could (and did) stop things they didn’t like or think were good – things like the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform (my one exception to specific legislative matters – more on that in a minute).
  • Someone else is the majority now, and they’re not very happy about it. They’ve got no one to blame but themselves, the people voted.
  • Rather than do their jobs and represent the people that voted them into office, they’ve run away from their troubles. Better to hide than be defeated.
  • Rather than vote, even in defeat, and rely on their voting record for re-election, they’ll just not show up for work.

I don’t know about a lot of you, but if I don’t show up to work because there’s going to be an unfavorable decision made when I get there, I’m likely not going to be working for very long. Unfortunately, we as a population have to live with this for another two years.  Yippee.

The House Minority Leader is Pat Bauer, formerly the House Speaker. If the roles were reversed, I can guarantee he’d be the first one preaching about the obstructionist politics the other side was practicing. At the moment, he’s claiming that his obstructionism is being done in the interests of the state. He’s also not stopping with the original thorny “right to work” bill. He and his fellow Democrats want another 10-12 bills off the table before they return. Not open for discussion – OFF THE TABLE. From where I sit, it looks a lot more like quasi-legal extortion than being a legislator, and hiding in an Illinois motel (not paid for out of their pockets, but rather by the Indiana Democratic Party) outside of the jurisdiction of the Indiana State Police only sharpens that perspective.

Mr. Bauer, let me refresh your memory: 60-40.  The State has voiced its opinion on how things were running on your watch. It’s no longer your watch.

I might also add, and this is solely my opinion, that Pat Bauer has no interest in what’s good for the state. His interests are in retaining and wielding power. This is yet another example of that behavior, even if it’s from the minority point of view. Always an issue or complaint, but no solutions.

My one specific example, Local Government Reform – also known as the Shepard/Kernan report – was truly was a bipartisan effort, that stands to save the taxpayers millions of dollars.  This was a collaborative effort, the way it’s supposed to work, and it simply makes sense. The report was issued in December 2007, and it’s worth the read, you can get it here.

Shepard/Kernan has been a legislative agenda item since it was released – only to be sandbagged by House Democrats more interested in protecting their fiefdoms than being good shepherds of the taxpayers’ money. My money. But then again, they had to votes to do so. That’s the way the system works. But when the system doesn’t work to meet certain legislators’ expectations or plans, it seems folding up the tent is the appropriate action. It’s cowardly.

So in this, my open letter to the Indiana Legislature, I would like to suggest this:  Do your jobs.  Grow some stones, show up, discuss, negotiate, agree to disagree, or whatever else you want to call what you are right now failing miserably to do. Enter your votes, and run for re-election on how you voted. It’s a lot easier to consider candidates who actually voted, than those that simply took their toys and went home.  And that’s certainly something to which my five-year-old can relate.

Thanks for reading.