customized ceiling fan
Wednesday, July 27 2011
After the rains and thunderstorms of the past few days, it was nice to have a day that was both sunny and somewhat cool, with highs in the low 80s.
Meanwhile the ceiling fan replacement project had developed a life of its own, drawing me in even when I wanted to be doing something else. Something made me fetch the 24 foot ladder from the weeds south of the house (it had last been used in the autumn for my evergreen removal project) and set it up beside the living room fan. It's a high climb up to that fan, but once I'd done it a few time I found my inner chimp manifesting itself. I started by disassembling a part of the old fan where a lamp might have been attached had it come with one. In so doing, I exposed some wires labeled "lamp." This intrigued me; perhaps one of the switches on the wallplate below was hooked up to these wires. So I attached an experimental lamp to see, and sure enough it was. This meant that I could control the light on the new fan completely separately from the fan itself. While the new fan is designed to have everything be controlled by the remote, I could just bypass its control circuitry for the lamp and connect it to the switch on the wall plate. By doing that, I could actually make the lamp dimmable, though this would require changing the bulb sockets. This particular lamp had come with odd proprietary sockets requiring bulbs with flared prongs instead of the standard screw thread, and the proprietary bulbs that came with the lamp were not dimmable. So I replaced the proprietary sockets with standard ones (salvaging pieces from my box of old lamp detritus). As I did this, I decided it would be good to have one light socket that was still controllable by the remote. After doing some testing, I found an arrangement of sockets that would allow for three bulbs behind the fan's frosted glass. Two of these would be dimmable CF bulbs controlled by a rheostat on the wall and the other would be a non-dimmable bulb controlled by the remote. For that last one, I decided to install a cheap LED-based party bulb that cycles through a sequence of colors. (It's actually smarter than it looks, because it apparently stores whatever color it was last displaying in non-volatile memory through a power outage, resuming exactly at that point when next powered up.) Somewhat surprisingly, the party bulb looked awesome; even Gretchen thought so. Now the lamp looked like it was thinking. It certainly helped that the lamp's frosted glass cover worked to diffuse and mix the colors coming from the multiple LEDs.
I ended up getting the fan hung and all the wiring working, but unfortunately all my customizations had left some loose wires inside the chassis, and when I powered up the fan it sounded like a bicycle wheel with a playing card strategically placed by a Toughskins-wearing eight year old so as to generate an ersatz motor noise. Fixing the problem was going to require detaching the motor from its down rod, and I left it for tomorrow. By this point I was distracted by other concerns.
A neurosurgeon had called from Virginia to talk about my father. Apparently he'd had another fall and was in the hospital complaining of severe pain. An MRI had revealed severe spinal cord restriction in his lumbar vertebræ and the doctor thought an operation was called for. But by this point my father was heavily-sedated and not making much sense and, truth be known, my mother wasn't making much sense either. The doctor seemed to be relieved to be talking to someone in my family who wasn't batty, over-medicated, or quasi-senile. Though I initially thought of the surgery as a waste of time (and Medicare-channeled tax dollars, assuming those are still available) for someone my father's age, the doctor made a good case for it. And if my father is in pain and suffering mobility issues, there's a chance the surgery might do him some good. It might even do him a lot of good.
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