Sunday, January 22, 2012

San Francisco

I missed posting about my trip to the Bay Area this past week. The Pacific biomass Conference was being held downtown at the Mariott and I was speaking on Tuesday morning. I flew down from Seattle on Monday afternoon, arriving about 4:00. I took BART in from the airport to Powell Street, which was right next to the hotel. Very convenient, and just as fast as a taxi at 1/5th the price.

Also at that station is an Apple Store. I took advantage of this by taking my iPad in. It had spopped charging normally, and they agreed that it was messed up. They offered to replace it with a new iPad just like the one I had, for $99. I took the deal when they would not make an allowance on an iPad 2. So, this posting is being made on my new iPad.

The conference was well attended and I had a good visit wth lots of industry friends. As the news from Seattle continued to predict a bad storm starting at midnight, I chose to take an early flight and hit the ground at 10:40 pm. I made it home at midnight. It was not snowing when I was coming home, and there was no snow south of Woodinville. However, there was lots of snow on the ground on Wednesday morning, and the depth increased during the day. I made the right call by coming home early.

You have seen the images of the snow from the TV. Suffice it to say that there was as much snow here as anywhere in the Seattle area. Judy was steadily shoveling. I broke out the snow blower on Thursday and did the driveway and the courtyard. I took them down to less than an inch, and when the rain started on Friday they cleared first. It was nice to have clear driving at home.

The local roads were terrible on friday. Slush, deep snow, and lots of rain combined to make things difficult. By Saturday it was getting better. The main roads were good, and the highways were fine and clear. In another couple of days there won't be any snow left.

A bit of home work

Mostly I write about my travels, but I wanted to recount the trevails of a little kitchen repair project that has taken a week to complete.

Last Saturday we decided to finally get around to replacing the not-working hot water tap at the kitchen sink. When we had the grantite counters installed we also had this convenient little tap installed, and loved the occasional cup of tea it provided. The instant-on hot water was nice. Well, after a few years it started acting up with occasional bursts of spontaneous hot water erupting from it, then loud heating noises, then a funny smell in the water. I finally just unplugged it from the outlet under the sink, and turned off the water supply. So, there it sat from then until last Saturday when it "was time" to do somethihg about it. We went to the Home Depot and bought a replacement, cleaned out under the sink, and here I go...

I had put this project off exactly because I knew what would be required. I had to dismantle all the piping under the sink, take out the garbage disposal unit, remove the soap dispenser, and un-hook all the connections to the heater unit. The real trick was to get that large box from behind all the obstructions. Unfortunately the replcement box was even biggger! I managed to get it in, and mounted to the back wall. In fact, after all this Joe Plummer stuff with me lying on my back with my head in the leaked kink drippings (which smelled very bad), I was reminded why I went to university in the first place! Anyway, I had it all but installed when the final act was to be to use the screw in the bottom of the faucet unit to engage a moon-shaped plate under the granite which holds it in place tightly. Damn, the screw was 1/2" too short! Judy ran to the hardware store to get a longer one, but they were closed (Sunday afternoon in the snow storm), etc. We were literally screwed. I got a replacement screw yesterday and the final installation took about 30 minutes.

I didn't mention a slight complication. During the dismantling process I left the main water faucet alone so it could be used. Judy just casually took the portion of the faucet that pulls out, like she had done a 1,000 times, and it snaps off in her hand, spraying water all over her and the kitchen! What are the chances? Anyway, while I had all the parts accessible we were able to replace this part too, so now we have all new hardware. Very nice.

So, in the standard Smith Family fashion, a Molehill to Mountain sort of situation developed when none was planned. We started out to replace the hot water spiggot, and ended up replacing all the sink faucets in the process. Overall cost was about $425.