dead circuit in the wall
Wednesday, January 2 2019
I lingered at the house longer than usual this morning so I could talk to Colin (the cabinet installer) when he arrived to put in a day of cabinet installation. I was confused about a trapdoor he'd installed in the bottom of the kitchen island. It didn't seem to be complete, as I could see no way to lift them up (and they looked like they weren't completely detached from the rest of the structure). But when Colin arrived, he showed me that they were fully detached, and all one needed to do to lift them up was to pry them with a screwdriver. Now that I knew how to access the floor beneath the island, I had the access I needed to route the gas lines and hook up the last of the island's wiring.
It being a Wednesday, I took Ramona with me to work (though Neville also wanted to go and had to be extracted from the Subaru; silly little boy apparently didn't know it was one of his days to work a shift at the bookstore).
I arrived at work a bit later than usual and immediately took Ramona for a walk around the building. As I was nearing a complete circuit, Ramona started barking at a dog who had just arrived with her human mother in a vehicle. It was a brindle pit-mix named Peppers that had randomly visited our office a couple months ago. I would've loved for Ramona to meet Peppers, but Ramona is too much of a bitch these days to be trusted with unknown dogs. I apologetically explained this situation to Peppers' mother and kept walking. But Peppers had her own ideas and wasn't on a leash. She enthusiastically ran after us and started loving on Ramona in a rubbery young dog way. Ramona lashed out as expected, and I had to pull her away. But that was no deal-breaker for Peppers, who insisted on smelling Ramona's but while I held her head to keep her from biting. At that point Peppers' human mother ran up, being all apologetic. I assured her it was no big deal and that it was really all Ramona's fault.
Later in the day there was a fire alarm. And then, after maybe an hour, another fire alarm. On that second one, I took the opportunity to take Ramona for her second (and final) walk of the day, but when I got back, the alarm was still sounding and my co-workers were still standing around in a circle, cold but not too miserable. As it had been in the past, the alarm had presented us all with a rare opportunity to chat with each other and do the basic work of crafting a workplace culture. Ramona was standing around just like a little human, and much of our conversation revolved around her and her various interests (such as a tabby cat who could be seen walking several times to and from an old barn about 200 feet away). At some point my colleague Victoria attempted to scale the brick wall of the front of the building using the lintel of a window and the deep recesses of the mortar lines (the wall could definitely use a good repointing). This called to mind the story of the time Ramona scaled a tree by simply latching onto the arm of a bear, so of course I told that story. Meanwhile, a long chain of daycare children could be seen moving like a long human centipede through a nearby parking lot. The kids were all made to hold on to a string that began and ended with an adult, thereby keeping them from breaking loose and running into the clutches of any nearby pedophiles. "Attack the children," I whispered to Ramona. But she did not obey me.
In other workplace news, I became a bit despondent with my ongoing code migration project after discovering the complexity of a generic date updating routine written in Python. My job was to remake it in the Node.js backend of my Electron app. The problem, though, was that the existing code was written very synchronously, with things happening to the data in the database in a specific order. Node.js does not really allow synchronous database calls. Subsequent actions happen via callbacks, sometimes in deeply-nested code structures. The prospect of making all that work gave me a headache. And meanwhile Alex has told me he wants me to meet with him and the boys tomorrow so I can show him my progress. But there's almost no progress to show; I've still built almost no user interface.
I was the second-to-the-last person to leave the office tonight. From there I went directly to Lowes, where I bought more electrical supplies and 60 feet of high-end half-inch copper tubing (for about $100). I would've gladly bought much less, but the 20 foot roll for sale looked like it had been returned after someone used half of it, and some of the other tubing had been heavily marked as being only suitable for refrigeration. (I don't know enough about copper tubing uses to know whether refrigeration is a low-end use case or a high-end one.)
Back home, I did the work of hooking up the electricity to the kitchen island using the loose ends of wires remaining from the old island. I'd assumed the circuit for those wires had been turned off but was careful to test them first with a multimeter so there would be no surprises (there was no outlet to test and to get to the wire I had to cut through it or try to undo the mess of tape and wire nuts the demolition team had left for me). Surprisingly, there was indeed 120 volts on those wires. This sent me to the basement, where I discovered something else: the circuit breaker for the old dishwasher circuit had been tripped. And when I tried to turn it back on, it immediately tripped again. Something was shorting it! If you remember, that was the circuit where mice had chewed into wires in order to enlarge a hole, and I'd done all this work to first repair and then rebundle the wire. The result had been working a couple weeks ago. Now it no longer was. My first suspicion was that Colin had accidentally shorted the circuit with one of the small lag bolts used to attach the bottom cabinets to the wall. But Gretchen's text exchange with Colin revealed that when installing the cabinets, he hadn't put bolts into the wall in the places where I'd run the wire. It seems the mice had somehow managed to short the cable out despite all the measures I'd taken. Now I was going to have to abandon that wire in the wall and find some other way to power the on-demand boiling-hot water system we would be installing. Fucking hell!
That was a downer, but I managed to make myself feel better by finishing off the island wiring with a gratuitous duplex outlet in a junction box hidden under the trap door. This will allow me to stash and operate electronics hidden in a place that only you know about.
Later, after spending some time in the laboratory, I returned to the kitchen and quickly came up with a solution to the dead outlet under the sink I would still be abandoning that, but to get an alternative source of power, I ran some romex cable along the east wall in the back of the cabinets just under where the granite would be installed (that would be happening tomorrow, thus the urgency), entering the north wall via an unused void at the east end of the north cabinets. From there, I could pull the cable up to an old-work outlet box I'd installed in the kitchen's north wall. This meant that anything powered under the kitchen sink would have to be on the same circuit as two of the outlets near the kitchen's northeast corner, but a 20 amp circuit has a lot of power. Gretchen took a brief interest in adding up the power needs of her various kitchen appliances and determined that we should've been routinely blowing a circuit breaker supplying power to both the toaster oven and the Vitamix. We must've used both at the same time on occasion, and together they can draw 2500 watts on a 2400 watt (20 amp) circuit.
I didn't finish all that last minute wiring until after midnight, and I still needed to bathe. So I took a quick shower and went immediately to bed. But for whatever reason it was difficult to fall asleep, and I couldn't take any drugs to help with that because today was to be my zero drugs day. Gretchen, on the other hand, popped 5 mg of ambien.
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