So those of you who know me may have picked up on the fact that I am a master procrastinator. I tend to think of it as being very patient most of the time, but deep down I know that I'm just putting things off.
For example, we've had one and a half toilets downstairs for some time now. Not one and a half baths (well... that, too) but one fully functional and one that would spew water everywhere if flushed more than once a day. Yesterday morning while finishing up my morning routine the remaining functional toilet exploded. Water everywhere. Joy.
Fixing the half toilet wouldn't have been such a chore and not put off so long but for the fact that the contractor who built our house in 1983 was high on crack. The shut-off valves for all three toilets were sweated on — with, presumably, a malleable rubber washer inside them. It was sacrificed to the fires. So, to work on the toilets requires shutting off water to the whole house. I have replaced the shut-off valve in the master bathroom, but learning from that experience, the remaining two won't be replaced until the toilets and carpet are out of the way. Since I am planning to put tile in the entire downstairs of my house this year, I was hoping to sneak by a little longer and only do this job once... No such luck.
So, I stopped by Lowe's on the way home yesterday afternoon and retrieved two complete toilet kits. I had done an emergency "3 a.m." sort of repair on the master bath toilet a few years ago by finding an appropriate size bolt and some washers in the parts drawer in the garage. I figured now would be a good time to replace all the parts in both toilets. I was correct. The tank to bowl flange/washer/thingy on both was deteriorated. That's a polite word for it.
And, so, a few hours later, quite a bit of swearing, some invention (built a "wrench" from some used bicycle chain and vice grips), and dropping the rotten rubber washer of the flush valve on the carpet twice, I had two fast filling, quiet and positively stopping toilets.
It's funny how unusual things become normal. It's become clear to me that fixing my own cars isn't usual these days. Unlike folks that seem to be intimidated by "all the computers" in modern cars, I embrace them. I don't have to do tune ups every 6 months now, since my cars constantly tune themselves up - and if they aren't able to do that anymore, they warn me. It's a handy thing.
I had to let strangers fix my truck this week! It was traumatic!
But, this week, I had to resort to having my truck serviced by pros. On Sunday, I had the folks at City Garage evacuate and recharge my air conditioning. That seems to have taken care of the problem, so I'll keep my fingers crossed it was just excess moisture in the system keeping it from working well.
Today, a nice young fellow at National Tire & Battery replaced the left front hub bearing assembly. The bearing has been failing (apparently for a long while based on how quiet the truck is now) and making progressively more incredibly loud groaning sounds. The old assembly looks pretty grungy. I'll have to clean it up to see if it's worth swapping a new bearing into the next time a wheel bearing goes, or if I should just replace the whole assembly again next time, too.
At least I got to do the 600 mile service on my own motorcycle... I did finally have to resort to building a "universal" oil filter wrench involving some drilling and a large metal screw... I would have felt silly buying the special Honda wrench to use only once...
I also gave the truck a bath. Now, there's a long overdue date with destiny... Fortunately, O'Reilly's had my trusty Gunk™ Bug & Tar Remover that got the mysterious residue off the roof. It's almost a pretty truck when it's clean. Well... at least it's less ugly.
Amanda and I are cyclists. It is fortunate that we are. If it was She or I then the other would be slowly driven insane. As it is, neither really has much right to gripe about the other... Being cyclists means we have special clothes that get really sweaty and spend a lot of time in the washing machine. So, what better place to store them than in the laundry room?
The life of cycling clothes is a vicious cycle.
Peel off and fling to bottom shelf or washer
Winter is the toughest season as there are quite a few items that we only have one of. So if we get hit by rain or other events, the sudden discovery that clothes didn't make it from the washer to the dryer on a weekend morning can cause serious panic.
A couple years ago I got some nifty snap together shelving units from Target. They've worked well. They're ventilated in all sides so the occasional not quite dry clean stuff can dry and the frequent nasty wet dirty stuff doesn't die on the bottom shelf if it doesn't make it straight to the washer. I've been meaning to engineer some improvements to the snap-together-ness of the shelf for a while...
Sunday night, I walked into the house with the dog food. I clipped one of the "snaps" and it was clearly a very important one. Within a few minutes, the whole deal came down. Now it's put together better. I wish I'd done it sooner, but it wouldn't have been any more fun if I had.
I'm cautiously optimistic that my engineered solution to make the unit stronger will survive even if I managed to knock out one of the snaps again. I think since it's tied together, it'l hold together well enough that I can replace the missing snap.
Why do today what you can do in the middle of the night? Last night, I decided to hook up the fuel pressure gauge in our new truck. Not a bad idea in itself, but the fuel pump chose that exact moment to die. I couldn't be happier, since it forced me to replace the fuel pump (cheaper) and discover that the injector pump (rather more expensive) seems to be just fine. I should learn better than to trust malfunction codes from computers. I discovered that the replacement part could be had - cheaply - from the Dallas office of Cummins Southern Plains - at the late hour of 10:30 pm! So... I trekked down there and got one. I muttered to myself as I pulled in to the garage, "I should just go ahead and swap those out. It shouldn't be too bad." And it wasn't. Note to self: When changing fuel pumps, put the fuel tank on the downhill side of things. I think I still smell like diesel.
I'm an easy going guy. Really. I decided the old me wasn't worth the stomach acid, so I learned to take a deep breath and laugh.
For a bit of background, I've spent the past several weekends working on Amanda's '97 Honda Civic. It's the first new car she ever bought, so it's sacred. And it's a good car. Just a tick over 94,000 miles, and it has fresh paint on the right side.
Last weekend, with the help of my friend Dave, 4 busted Craftsman sockets and my other friend Todd who brought an impact socket, we changed the timing belt, water pump, thermostat, lower radiator hose, drive belts (3, which of course, are 3 different lengths), radiator cap and coolant. That's the background.
Today on the way home from work I pushed in the clutch rolling up to the light at Hwy 190. The check engine light illuminated. I hit the gas, and the car was running on 3 cylinders. Brief flashes of "Oh no!!!" shot through my brain until I remembered... I had just replaced a 30 day old set of Bosch spark plug wires. I gave her lots of gas and pulled around the corner into the shade of the gas station awning and popped the hood. Sure enough, one of the wires had unplugged itself. I'm not happy. To their credit, Autozone seems to be doing their best to go above and beyond the lifetime warranty on the wires to get some that like my car better. Bosch is now on my poo-poo list.
Oh well. Breathe in... breathe out. I'm looking forward to the arrival of new shocks for installation this weekend. Yay!
It's Monday. Not just any Monday, though. I had my last cigarette at 10 pm Saturday night, so I'm past the 36 hour mark.
What else is up? We finally gave in and subscribed to Netflix. Finding 24 in sequence on A&E was getting tiring. Never mind watching it in "fuzzy-vision" thanks to the lovely quality of analog channels on Comcast cable in Plano. Gotta say I'm impressed by the turnaround-time from Netflix. I suppose it helps having a distribution center just a few zipcodes away in Coppell. The movie I dropped in the mail on Saturday generated an e-mail "We got it!" this morning before I left for work.
I got to spend Saturday on a lovely drive through the countryside in the Miata, but Amanda spent her day playing with her horse. I still need to squeeze in an oil change (or three) this week and give the Volkswagen it's 40,000 mile filter changes (fuel, air, cabin air and oil). It feels weird that it's already mid-April and I haven't run an autocross yet. Two schools as an instructor, but no competition runs. I'm slipping...