mouse or nail
Sunday, November 4 2012
I woke up with just me and the critters this morning, Gretchen having spent the night in the City (she'd reported seeing long gas lines at stations along Route 17 in New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy). After walking Eleanor in the forest, I rolled up my sleaves (literally) and began working on the various boiler problems. Leaving the just-in-time electric heater issue for the time being, I focused on the problems with the various zone valves and pumps. It turned out that the only real problem was that a short had developed in the thermostat wire going up to the upstairs bedroom, and this had caused the zone valve for that zone to stick in the open position. When I went to remove the actuator, it became unstuck and seemed to work reliably from then on. Similarly, once I'd exercised the zone valve for the hot water tank zone a few times, the switch that is supposed to turn on the pump started working reliably. Evidently after a seven month slumber, electromechanical devices need a little exercise before they can be relied upon.
There was still the problem of the wire up to the bedroom. How had it been shorted? I suspected it had something to do with the flooring that was put in a year ago. The wire had been tucked into the gap along the wall and covered with moulding that had been pneumatically-nailed in place. I'd been nervous about that causing a short a year ago, but it hadn't. Perhaps an injury to the wire back then had taken a year to manifest. Another possibility was that mice had chewed the wire and shorted it out somehow (though that seemed less likely). In any case, I soon isolated the part of the wire that had been shorted out to a run that included both a mouse nest in the insulation and a place where it had been hidden beneath moulding. To bypass all that, I had to string a length of Cat-5 cable through a hole in the wall between the northeast corner of the teevee room and the laboratory and then over to a hole into the first floor office and then down through the floor into the boiler room (joining a bunch of serial, ethernet, and other cables for that final descent).
It was a fairly arduous, time-consuming job, complicated somewhat by the critters. The dogs kept staring at me or following me around or otherwise getting in the way, so I found myself sternly telling them, "I have to fix the house. You have to let me fix the house." Then when I was back behind the teevee room's couch zip-tying and cable-stapling the new wire, I realized I was kneeling or crawling on my belly in one of Marie's (aka "the Baby's") favorite places to defecate when she has a diarrhea problem (nearly always). She uses a litter box for normal poop and piss, but for diarrhea she insists on just shitting on the floor, usually in a somewhat sheltered location. The dogs slurp it up immediately if they catch wind of it, but traces usually remain and can even accumulate. They felt like tiny bumps against my forearm.
Later in the day I installed a motion-sensor light on the southwest corner of the brownhouse to help illuminate the path to the greenhouse. This was relatively easy; all I had to do was drill a hole through the back of an outlet box high on the inside wall of the brownhouse and run a few short wires out to a new round box on the outside. For light bulbs, I used two low-illumination LED arrays. The idea is not to create a bright pool of light; I just need to see well enough to know where to put my feet.
Later this evening I took a nice hot bath (using water that had been heated by burning fuel oil) and smoked more of my modest marijuana stash. Since having a smoking-related fire in my college dorm room back in 1989, I've preferred my smoking environments to be paperless, especially given how absent-minded marijuana tends to make me.
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