sunny February chores
Friday, February 15 2013
I was astounded this morning when I went to Huffingtonpost.com and saw that a meteor had entered the atmosphere above southwestern Siberia with such power that windows had shattered and hundreds had been injured (mostly by shattered glass). Such a thing had literally never happened before in all of recorded history. There was also lots of beautiful video of the event, since Russians tend to record their vehicular travels so as to avoid various swindles. I don't know what I'd do if I saw a meteor streak across the sky while driving, but I'm probably curious enough to do what at least one Russian driver did: follow the sky trail to see where it led, accelerating crazily at times. When it's the end of the world, what do traffic laws matter? It's a now-famous clip in all the video meteor compilations, and I wonder if the musician playing on the driver's car radio will see an uptick in interest.
Today was another warm sunny one (with temperatures reaching above 50 degrees Fahrenheit), so I took advantage of it to do a number of things best not done in the cold. The first task was the thread the coax cable to the new fuel level sensor probe through a hole I drilled in that 1.5 inch PVC cap I'd bought yesterday. Then I drizzled five minute epoxy all over the place where the cable penetrated the cap, waited for the epoxy to harden, and then tightened the cap down onto the probe's PVC housing (which rises about seven inches out of the tank). The whole system should now be sealed both against flowing materials and radio noise.
My next task was to install an oxygen sensor on the Honda Civic Hybrid. As you may remember, I'd tried doing this before, but had somehow ordered the wrong sensor online (the verbiage had suggested it would work, but no). I'd followed Gretchen's advice and taken it to an official Honda repair shop, but when they charged me $100 to do the same computer reading it takes me a minute to do and planned to charge me $400 for the sensor replacement, I'd balked. Since then, I'd taken delivery of what looked like an exact replacement for the failing oxygen sensor, and all I needed to do was install it. It should be a simple procedure, but the design of the engine compartment of a Honda Civic Hybrid is such that to reach where you need to reach, you need to have long, slender arms. Or you need to remove some difficult-to-remove obstructions. The problem isn't the oxygen sensor itself; it's the connector it plugs into. I've never actually seen that connector; to plug into it I've had to feel my way at the very limits of where my arm can reach. It's the kind of thing that is possible to pull off, but only after numerous attempts. This is why it's a thing best done on a sunny day with temperatures in the 50s. Today I managed to do the replacement in under 15 minutes, surprising myself somewhat.
A final task that I did outdoors was give myself a haircut. Down near the greenhouse (while Gretchen was reading in its upstairs) I was able to comfortably strip down to the waist and then snip away at my hair using a pair of scissors, eventually finishing with a piece of mirror from the greenhouse downstairs. The back was still a mess, of course, but I was able to even that up later with the help of a webcam pointed at the back of my head. (Gretchen, though, would not be satisfied until she'd taken a turn wielding the scissors.)
One final task I undertook today was to replace the lever-ball mechanism in the zone valve used to send boiler water to the hot water tank (the way we heat household water in the winter time). Like the same mechanism in the laboratory zone valve, this one had been showing signs of stickiness since the beginning of the heating season. The other day I went to take a shower and found the water wasn't as hot as it was supposed to be, and when I'd gone to investigate, I'd found the lever-ball mechanism had seized up completely. Luckily, though, I'd gotten three such mechanisms in a recent eBay purchase. The bummer with replacing these mechanisms is that the boiler's hot manifold must be drained in order to do it. It would have been nice to know I'd be doing this replacement a few days ago when I'd had to drain the manifold to replace the laboratory's lever-ball mechanism. Still, I have good systems in place that allow me to drain parts of the system without wasting any of the precious antifreeze (which costs $14/gallon).
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