About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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A new week always seems such a hopeful thing before reality sets in.

Mike Gunderloy



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 1/15/2018

Totals
Posts - 2475
Comments - 2570
Hits - 2,015,535

Averages
Entries/day - 0.47
Comments/entry - 1.04
Hits/day - 379

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 5:23 AM Pacific


  09:59 AM

Scheduled repair today on my not-quite-broken wash machine. Sometime "between 7 and 12." I'm at my desk at home and around 9:00 get up to make some coffee. Hey, there's the Sears truck! Dogs go outside and I meet Mr. Sears at the door. Oh, hello. He's a drinker. He brings in ... a laptop.

I describe the problem -- the machine works, but it will only fill about 1/3 full -- and he says "bad water level switch." Sounds reasonable. On the front of the machine is a switch that says Extra Small - Small - Medium - Large - Extra Large. He sets it to Extra Small and starts the washer. We watch it fill 1/4 full. He switches it to Small. Another inch. Medium, another inch. ("That doesn't look like a medium load to me," he says.) All the way through Extra Large, and still not very full.

He unscrews the panel and contorts himself to read the part number on the back of the switch. Then he plunks away on his laptop, which I note has a wireless connection on it. Apparently he's talking to his truck in front of my house, which has a little satellite link on the top. "Looks like I have one of those in the truck," he says. I suppose he could also have walked out and looked, but ok. The switch is connected to a plastic tube that runs down into the guts of the machine. Apparently water pressure causes the air pressure in the tube to rise, which in turn is read by the switch. I theorize that the problem is in fact that the bottom of the tube is blocked by a piece of Friskies Ocean Fish Flavor, but he doesn't think so.

He brings the new switch in and replaces it, which takes about two minutes. He then performs his debugging routine again and this time it fill right up. So much for my theory. While we're watching, we chat. He has 14 calls to make today. I ask whether those include leftover calls from yesterday. No, he says. 14 calls means 14 calls, no matter how long it takes, usually longer than eight hours. They don't reschedule for another day, even if they can't make the promised time. He tells me that in years gone by, he fixed everything -- mowers, dishwashers, dryers, everything. But Sears sells so many different brands these days that the repair folks specialize and he now does only washers, dryers, and water heaters. I ask him about improvements in wash machine technology. He says they have a new model that connects to the dryer so that it can tell the dryer exactly how long to dry the clothes it has just finished washing. "Does that work better than just setting the dryer's timer to 'three notches'," I ask him? Nope, he says.

While he's using his laptop to figure the bill ("it calculates the tax and everything," he tells me), he gets a gander at my lame little aquarium. Boy, that sure interests him. He's got an aquarium at home where he raises salmon. This is a little unusual. Rather than heating the aquarium to tropical temperatures, he needs to bring down the temperature to that of our Northwest freshwater streams -- 49 degrees, he says. He tells me that one of his buddies in refrigeration rigged him up a compressor and a little submersible unit that cools the aquarium. He raises the salmon till they're fingerlings, and then he releases them in a stream that's close by here, as it happens. In the fall (in fact, in a few weeks), they count the returning salmon in "their" stream. Last year they had 167 fish return to spawn. How cool.

Since his debugging left me with a machine full of warm water, what the heck, I throw in a load. I think the machine is going to get quite a workout this weekend.

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