Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   balance of vectors
Tuesday, February 26 2008
I continued my propane research today, though a new complication emerged. The line carrying gas from the tank to the kitchen was not, it turned out, interrupted by only a single pressure regulator. There were actually two. Between the tank and the first regulator was a thin line of 1/4 or 1/8 inch copper pipe. After that first regulator, which dropped the pressure to 10 PSI, the line increased to 3/8 inch and ran for a good forty feet, where it encountered the second regulator, which dropped its pressure to 0.5 PSI. From there, half-inch flexible copper tubing carried the gas the 20 feet or so to the stove. The local hardware stores do not sell any regulators except for the kind that drop the pressure all the way to 0.5 PSI in one step, which is more suited to the simple setups used with barbecues. My plan had originally been to connect a propane tank to the stove using a single regulator, barbecue style, and that would have meant keeping the tank out on the east deck. Now, though, for simplicity sake I wanted to connect it at the site of the existing tank, but that would mean getting a 10 PSI regulator, which are not easy to find even online. And when you do find them, they give no indication of how many BTUs they can be expected to supply. I will at least give Lowes some credit: the publish the BTU ratings of their barbecue regulators right there on the packaging: 78,000, which I'm guessing would be enough for our range (which has four burners as well as a gas-powered oven and though the largest burner is rated 15,000 BTU, the maximum BTU draw for the range isn't given.
This whole experience reminds me of the crucial bits of quantitative information left out of the specs given for arc-welding kits. It also reminds me of the continuing failure of computer retailers to provide the power consumption ratings of their products, which typically use more power than a refrigerator (an appliance that always comes with a power consumption rating).

I was out on an errand this morning, mostly so Eleanor could get the two month checkup on the progress of her recovery from cruciate ligament surgery. (The vet says she's recovering nicely, though he has no idea of how poorly we've been enforcing the physical confinement he recommends.) A snow started falling during my detour to 9W to re-examine the barbecue supplies at the big box stores. By the time I made it back to Dug Hill Road, there was enough of an accumulation for me to experience a little difficulty climbing the hill.

Hours passed and several inches of snow accumulated. This was a snow, I should add, that hadn't been predicted by the weather forecast. Meanwhile Gretchen was down south at the prisons doing her prison job. I wondered how she would ever make it up Dug Hill Road, which hadn't been plowed since early in the storm. I left a message for her and she left a message for me while I was out shoveling in the driveway. It said that she was in the process of driving home, but she was going very slowly as even US 209 was in terrible shape. Evidently this storm had taken everyone by surprise and snowplows hadn't been efficiently prepositioned.
I realized at a certain point that there was no way Gretchen was ever going to make it up Dug Hill Road, so I decided to walk down to the bottom and be there when she inevitably got stuck. Setting off with Sally and a pair of rubber boots in case Gretchen needed to climb the hill on foot (she'd specifically mentioned that her shoes were ill-equipped for the conditions), I found the road empty and the accumulation of snow substantial.
As we drew within sight of the curve just above the bus turn around (less than a quarter mile from home), I heard a car struggling to climb the hill. There was only one person foolish enough to be doing that, and sure enough, inching around the corner in a random zig-zag pattern was an off-red 1998 Honda Civic four door piloted by my wife.
She stopped in the road, delighted to see us. Sally immediately climbed in to take the job of co-pilot and I decided to push. In situations like this where traction is the main issue, a human pushing can be enough to tip the balance of vectors in a favorable direction. My pushing definitely helped, and we gained a hundred feet or so on the long, steep grade just downhill from our downhill neighbors. But it was exhausting, so then I tried driving, seeing if I could gain some advantage by being lighter on the accelerator than Gretchen had been. This did no good at all. So then I tried putting my weight on the hood above the front wheels, the only two that are powered, while Gretchen drove. This didn't help either.
The one thing that really seemed to work was using the window scraper to scratch the snow away from in front of the front wheels, exposing tracks of bare asphalt for several feet. This gave the car enough of a running start to have a little momentum to work with. It was enough to get the car nearly to our driveway. From there I was able to shovel clear tracks for the small remaining distance of road that needed to be driven.
I hadn't realized how exhausted I'd made myself until I was in the house and Gretchen tried to have a conversation with me.

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