Plumbing emergency

My plan today was to write some Darths & Droids strips – preferably at least three. I ended up writing zero.

I had some shopping to do – first the weekly groceries. Then I also had to go pick up a game for the current redditgifts board games exchange, which I signed up for. Being such a game player, I couldn’t resist signing up for this one. The nearest game store is a few minutes drive away. I got there a bit before 1:30, but there was a sign on the door saying “back at 2pm”! I guess they’re not getting much business with the COVID restrictions, and decided to actually close up shop for the lunch break. Since I was there, I decided to wander around for half an hour, rather than drive all the way home and have to come back again. So that ate up more time than I expected.

The other thing I wanted to do today was attend to a leaky tap on the bathroom sink. The cold water tap there has been annoying me for years. I have to replace the valve far too frequently, because after just a few weeks the tap starts dripping and needs to be turned off ever harder, until it gets to the point where I can’t turn it off hard enough to prevent it dripping.

I recently bought a tap reseating tool to see if grinding the tap seat down a bit would help, but that didn’t seem to make much difference. And again, just a few weeks after the last time I replaced the valve, it’s been dripping incessantly again. So today I pulled it apart and had a good hard look at it after grinding it a bit with the tap reseating tool.

After a bit of manual grinding, the tool makes the tap seat nice and flat with a shiny new brass surface. This should be ideal for a valve to sit on and cut off the water flow when screwed down by the tap handle. But shining a torch into the tap seat well I could see an odd dark mark on the shiny brass. It was hard to make out, and trying to wipe it away didn’t remove it. I ground the seat a bit more, but the mark was still there. Then it clicked and I realised what it must be. I got a blade and ran it around the flat brass seat… and yes, I could feel what was a crack in the seat.

Cracked tap seat

I took this photo with the help of the torch light. You can see the crack pretty clearly near the top of the shiny brass ring. (And also a lot of the glittering brass flakes that I’d ground away.) Well. This was how the water leak was getting out, even when the tap was screwed down tight with a nice new valve. I’d never noticed it before using the reseating tool because the brass surface was old and dark. It took grinding down to shiny new metal to provide enough contrast to see the crack.

I consulted with a friend who is more of a handyman than I am, and he said I could try grinding further to see if I could remove the crack, otherwise I’d probably need to call in a plumber to replace the whole tap seating assembly – in a job which might require removing the entire bathroom sink and vanity unit. That sounded pretty drastic and expensive, so I gave the grinding a bit more of a go…

It took me some time, and several intermediate checks on progress, but I managed to grind away enough of the brass that the crack is basically gone. I hope. I fitted a new valve and reassembled the tap, and it seems to be working nicely now – shutting off the water completely with relatively little effort. Hopefully it will stay that way and require less maintenance, with the crack not reappearing. If it does, I suppose it will have to be a plumber job next time.

New content today:

Food and food

It was time to stock up with some groceries today, so I made the trek to the supermarket. Things are almost back to normal there, however they are still completely sold out of liquid soap refills, and I’m starting to think we might have to get some bars of soap soon.

I also realised that I’ve been overestimating the amount of food my wife and I can eat in one week, as we still have quite a bit of stuff in the house, and so today I bought less than I’ve been buying in the past few weeks.

Most of the work I did today was making more Darths & Droids comics. We’re building up a nice buffer now, which is good, as we weren’t sure if we could keep up a three-a-week production schedule with the current situation.

And since it’s Friday, end of the working week, we ordered dinner delivered tonight, from a local Indian restaurant. We had a lovely meal of: (take-away containers of lentil dhal, rice, and chunks of lamb, plus foil bags of onion bhajis and naan) in a plastic bag of rogan josh sauce. Despite the mess, it was delicious.

New content today:

Adventure creation

I dedicated today to writing more of a Dungeons & Dragons adventure for my gaming group. We’re partway through the adventure, and I need to write more of it before we play the next session.

I also went out to buy some groceries. The supermarket had no toilet paper at all, but there were stocks of everything else. Although apparently some people have no idea how to cook at home, since half the shelves of instant cup noodles were empty. And apparently people want to stock up on no added salt/sugar peanut butter. That’s the sort I buy. There was heaps of the regular peanut butter that most people normally buy, but virtually none of the no-added salt/sugar type. I have no idea, because normally the no added variety doesn’t sell as much.

New content today:

One of those days

I had a mostly awful day. It started promisingly, with a trip to the golf course, and went as far as the first hole, where my tee shot went sweetly down the fairway and I scored 4 strokes on the par 3 – my best score so far on that particular hole.

But then things went downhill, as I made my worst ever scores on all of the next five holes. I did manage a nice bogey on a par 4, which would have been an amazing par if my chip shot had just rolled another 3 centimetres. It’s the closest I’ve come so far to holing a chip from off the green.

After completing my round (just 9 holes), I dropped the clubs at home and set out to buy a tablecloth for my market stall, and a couple of easels to display large prints, and to pick up a DVD I’d ordered online. I chose pickup because I was planning to drive to a large hardware store a couple of suburbs away to get the easels (not my local one, which didn’t stock them), and to park there while I walked over to the shops to get the DVD and tablecloth.

The first problem occurred when I reached the hardware store. It wasn’t there. Apparently it had moved several years ago, after the last time I’d been there. Right across to the far side of the suburb – too far to walk. So I turned the car around and and started heading over there… then realised I had to get the DVD and tablecloth first, because the easels wouldn’t fit in the car and I’d have to leave the roof down, and I didn’t want to do leave the easels unguarded in the car while I got the other stuff. So I turned around again and headed back… running smack into some roadwork that slowed traffic to a dead stop. I spent 20 minutes driving what should have taken less than 5 minutes.

I went to the DVD shop to pick up my order. I told the guy at the checkout counter that I was there to pick up an online order, and he told me to go to the end of the counter and he’d call someone to assist me. I waited there at least 5 minutes, while three staff members nearby did some stuff on their terminals and completely ignored me. Eventually I said, “Excuse me, I was told to wait here for service, but nobody is serving me.” That got them jumping and one of them got my order right away.

I scouted 7 different homeware, kitchenware, and department stores for tablecloths, but it seems that tablecloths must be out of fashion, because a few of them didn’t even have any, while the others had a very restricted range. I wanted a simple black one. The only black one I found was in the department store… for $120. So I made do with a grey one for $12 from another shop.

Then I went to the art supply shop to get some stiff cardboard to make a greeting card display stand. Up the front was a sale display with cutting mats, which would come in handy, so I grabbed one of those. Then I spent some time at the cardboard sheet racks deciding which sort to get. They had solid black cardboard, marked down from $15.95 to $14.35 a sheet. I grabbed two.

At the checkout there was a new guy, who had trouble entering the prices. He kept saying that he couldn’t get the sale price of the cardboard to come up. We went to the back of the store and he grabbed the actual price display off the shelf and brought it to the front. After some fiddling he managed to do something and got the correct price. Then he scanned the cutting mat, which came up as $15 instead of the $9.50 advertised sale price. I told him it was on sale for $9.50, but he couldn’t get the register to accept that price.

Eventually as customers started piling up behind me, he said he could charge me $15 and give me a gift voucher for $5.50. I didn’t really want to do that, so he said the only thing he could suggest was waiting for his manager to return from her break. So I waited…. must have been ten minutes or more. Eventually the manager returned and took over. She started fresh and entered the cardboard, saying it was $18 or something a sheet. I said no, it was on sale for $14.35. She said, no, it’s not. I said look, there’s the sale tag the other guy got. She looked at it and said no, that’s for a different product.

I took her to the back of the store and showed here where the tag had come from – the same spot I’d gotten the cardboard sheets. She said, “Oh, someone’s put it in the wrong place. Look, it says white core board, not black display board. It should have been down here on this shelf. The white core board is normally $15.95, on sale for $14.35. The black display board is $18, and not on sale.”

I’d had about enough of this and just wanted something cheap that I could use so I said I’d take the white core board then. Okay, so we swapped the black board for white core (which is black on one side, not both sides). She rang it up, $14.35. Good. Then she scanned the cutting mat. $15. I said it’s on sale for $9.50. She said no, it’s not supposed to be on sale. I was getting a bit exasperated now, and showed her the sale sign on the front display, and this time it was marked with the name of the right product. She said okay, she’d give it to me for $9.50, but she made out like she was doing me a big favour.

So finally I had my cardboard. Then I had to drive over to the hardware store. I’d expected to be home well before 11 am, but now it was already midday. So I stopped to have a quick salad for lunch, and then set off. I pulled into a side street and stopped the car partway there to check my navigation, and I saw that the side street I happened to pull into led straight to the new hardware store location. So I continued down that street another few blocks… almost reaching the store, except for the fact that the street dead-ended, with a building in between me and the hardware store that I could see behind it. So I had to go back and around a longer way.

Once there, buying the easels was actually okay, and I headed home, getting in after 1pm, over 2 hours later than I expected when I set out.

After all that I just collapsed and watched TV all afternoon, rather than doing anything productive. And then during dinner I bit my lip painfully. Twice.

New content today:

Into the city

We had rain overnight. Not just rain, but a thunderstorm. I was woken at 01:20 by a huge clap of thunder, not far away, and then there were several more over the next few minutes. There was rain too, moderately heavy, but it was nothing compared to the thunder, and I don’t think it lasted very long. Better than nothing though, as the gardens and lawns got some water for the first time in ages.

Sydney recorded 2.8 mm of rain. Which is not a lot, by any standard except the incredible drought that we’re currently in. Every second post in the subreddit /r/sydney this morning was some variant on “It’s raining!!” That’s how excited people here were to get less than 3 mm of rain.

The moisture mixed with the bushfire smoke hanging over Sydney to create a weird white smog effect that lasted through the whole day. It looked like fog, but had a faint smokey smell. I braved it go head into the city on the train to do some shopping. I signed up to be a reddit Rematch Secret Santa, and I was on an expedition to get some gifts. I won’t say what I got, but I think my recipient should be fairly pleased, as I hit many of the “likes” in their profile.

George Street in smoky haze

I got home and planned to spend the day writing up a new Proof the Earth is a Globe, but a little thing happened in Iran/Iraq that distracted me for a bit. I did eventually get into it, but I’m maybe only a third through writing it. Hopefully I can finish and post it tomorrow.

New content today:

Blending and writing

Our old stick blender threw in the towel a little while ago while I was blending up some pumpkin soup. I had to finish the soup off by hand with a potato masher. It was a bit chunky and not really ideal for pumpkin soup. So I’ve been looking to replace the blender. It was a cheapish model, and didn’t last as long as I would have liked, so I did some research, read some reviews, and decided that a Bamix would be a good replacement. Unfortunately they’re quite expensive… But lo! I found a major retailer who had some on sale, for almost half price. After confirming the colour with my wife, I placed an order yesterday. On this sale item, they didn’t deliver, so I had to go into the store to pick it up.

This involved a train ride a couple of suburbs away to the nearest store. I left in the morning, after leaving my computer upgrade its operating system to MacOS Catalina while I was out. I picked up the new blender, and took advantage of the street stalls to get some Malaysian street food snacks as I headed back to the station. On the way home I realised I should pick up some groceries, so detoured via the supermarket.

I ended up not getting home until just before lunch. The OS upgrade went without incident, and my machine was ready to go. I spent the rest of the day working on an article for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe, which I just finished and posted now, a bit after 9pm. I cooked dinner in between too – lentil dhal with cauliflower and rice. Phew… time to relax…

New content today: