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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If you have two choices, choose the harder. If you're trying to decide whether to go out running or sit home and watch TV, go running. Probably the reason this trick works so well is that when you have two choices and one is harder, the only reason you're even considering the other is laziness. You know in the back of your mind what's the right thing to do, and this trick merely forces you to acknowledge it.

Paul Graham



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 12/14/2018

Totals
Posts - 2538
Comments - 2589
Hits - 2,103,034

Averages
Entries/day - 0.45
Comments/entry - 1.02
Hits/day - 372

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 10:08 PM Pacific


  12:00 AM

On my list of things to do today was to write up an entry on exciting new commercial transactions in my life, since we, um, achieved some closure on the car dealer thing. But other things have come up, including some actual work-work (documenting what our story is, I think, on supporting XTHML in Whidbey). Plus some familial stuff -- I wrote an actual letter to one of my cousins. (Well, it was an email, but it was a letter.) And helping Saul with an ASP.NET thing he's writing.

And some home repair, which I will talk about. My two favorite types of home repair, too, plumbing and electrical. Plumbing. First, a story. Several years ago we were doing work on Erica's bathroom, and she noticed one day that her kitchen faucet seemed to have lost a lot of pressure. She asked Saul whether the plumbing work we were doing in the bathroom had somehow affected the kitchen. Well, sort of. Saul unscrewed the aerator in the kitchen faucet and out gushed a glob of wet rusty goo. Our work in the bathroom had upset the delicate equilibrium of rust inside the galvanized plumbing that still remained.

This last spring I redid the main bathroom in my house, part of which consisted of taking out the old galvanized iron pipe and replacing it with copper. A while later I noticed the shower in my second bathroom had lost pressure. So, yes, I eventually took it apart and there was wet rusty goo there, too. (I did not have the benefit of literary prefacing when debugging that one, tho.)

Lately the hand-held sprayer in my kitchen sink had lost pressure, too.[1] I'm not an idiot; I took everything apart and looked for wet rusty goo. But I couldn't find any. I also noticed that the faucet (a Delta) leaked a little when I cranked the handle all the way over. I thought that might somehow be related, so I hied myself on down to the local McLendon hardware store, which is peopled by people who know what they're talking about. I explained my leaking-faucet woes to the guy at the plumbing counter. He gave me a rebuild kit for the faucet. When I whined about the sprayer he said "diverter valve" and gave me one of those, too.

To make a long story short (too late, haha!), I took the faucet apart and sure enough, stuck inside the diverter valve was some wet rusty goo. So, folks, if the water pressure in your house seems to lack oomph, I'm here to tell you: look for some wet rusty goo someplace.

And then electrical. I have motion-sensing lights on the outside of the house, and one of them stopped working. The motion sensor didn't seem to be sensing, so I thought it might be a bad switch. But first I thought I'd check the wiring. I got out my old Radio Shack voltometer to check voltage, and it seemed weak. (I was reasonably sure that low voltage was not, in this case at least, the result of wet rusty goo.) Using the probes of my voltometer, one of which was semi-melted due to a little incident with a socket, reminded me that I had been yearning for an improved way to test for continuity.

Since I was at McLendon[2] anyway, I stopped at the electrical desk and asked the guy what sort of tester he had for Joe Homeowner. He took a thing out of his pocket that looked like a fat pen. "This," he said. He touched it to an extension cord, and the tip of the "pen" glowed red. It had a small square tip on the end that you could stick into a socket, too. He called it a "keep alive," but it's officially the Santronics AC Sensor:



An amazing tool that works entirely by induction. It's great for telling you if a circuit is hot. As it happens, the tool would not entirely have helped me find the eventual problem. Which turned out to be that the neutral wire for the light had come loose from the wire nut that housed it. But I found the problem anyway, and the light works again, yay. And I have a new tool now. All in all, a productive session.


[1] The best analogy was that it seemed to be suffering from a prostate problem.

[2] Generally referred to as "McLendon's", akin to "Nordstrom's." As Erica and I like to say, "McLendon's what?

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