F 1 D 0 -- 02 05 08 at 14 30


I've always liked how home electricity
works. It has made sense to me, in a large
way, since I was young.

You have these super duper wires. Thick.
Well insulated. Colour coded. They make

White wires are popular here. Or at least,
white insulation. Underneath that thick
coating are three wires.

A black one, a white one, and an uncoated
copper wire. Black is hot, white is neutral,
and copper is ground.

So far so good.

If we add a switch, the formula remains similar.

Run the power from the box to the switch. All three
wires, with juice as expected: Neutral juice from
the white, hot juice from the black, and ground
juice from the copper. The switch will interrupt
the black line. We now run all three to the bulb
or fixture, and so white provides neutral juice,
always. Copper provides ground juice, always.
And black provides hot juice when the switch
is on, and no juice when the switch is off.

Just as God intended.

So here I am, working in the computer room.
Ann's computer and mine are on the same
table, one of them melamine boards with
folding legs screwed onto it. 

For electricity, there is a power bar. That's
connected to another power bar. And THAT is 
connected to a blue extention cord, which
runs to the grounded three-wire outlet on the
other side of the room.

The room is lit by daylight. Or at night, by
three 2-bulb 48-inch fixtures, with vita lights
installed. But remember, the room is lit just
fine by daylight.

The switch is OFF. If it was on, the room would
be lit by Vita Light.

So these things happen all at once.

I'm chatting with Cindy on AIM (I am x416daveb
on the AOL Instant Message service).

Ding Dong. "It's just me," sings Sandy, the
Scottish handyman. He's come over to install
the light fixture for the shower he has been
putting up. The shower is done, actually, but
he's putting in a light, and a ceiling for it.

Ring! Ring! It's Ann on the phone.

She's calling to say she's doing lunch with Roly,
another artist and professor at Lakehead. 

Are you counting? I've got three conversations
happening here.

And then.

And then the lights go on. 

Uh, my switch is clearly in the down
position. I stand up, still talking with
Ann, to check this. Yes, the light is switched
off, and I'm getting Vita Light.

I tell Cindy. "X-files. Sounds bad, Dave," she says.

I tell her that something is bad, and everything 
could turn to toast, so I run downstairs to get
Sandy and find out what's cooking.

"I've hardly done anything. It shouldn't
be affecting you at all," he says.

Well, eventually, I lose power in the room,
and my computer shuts down unceremoniously.
Ann's laptop laughs at power problems.

"Beep!" says the power supply.

I'll deal with Scandisk when I power up next.

So I now go downstairs, and Sandy shows me what
he has done.

He's done everything right. He's run a wire from
a convenient box to the bathroom and the shower.
The shower has a special moisture safe fixture,
and the bathroom has a more usual one.

But the box he's getting the power from isn't
right. He found the problem when he touched
the bare copper wire and the outside of the box.

And each time he connected that to the box, my
lights would come on. Wow.

I was thinking that the problem was something
that had been plugged in to the outlet. So I
followed the cables.

My computer is all on one power bar. That goes
to another power bar, with Ann's equipment all
on that. That one is rather full, as it has the
transformer for the laptop, for the Linksys, for
the Terayon cablemodem, for the HP scanner. It also
has more usual plugs for the Canon inkjet, and a 
fluorescent table lamp.

That is powered by a blue extension cord, which
runs around the perimiter of the room behind a
rather large corkboard.

That is one of the things which went wrong today.

I moved that thing a little bit sideways, and 
away from the wall. I wanted to take out all of
the plugged uses of electricity, and see if the
short was coming from there. 

Well, during this, all of the CDs from my blue
desktop fan-holder, as well as all of them from
one of Ann's wooden towers fell to the floor.

As a curious happenstance of fate, all of hers
are just fine, but many of mine shattered. Or at
least, the case shattered. 

These CD cases have a characteristic way of dying.
There is a top, a bottom, and an opaque middle.
The middle and bottom have survived each time.

It is the top, and in particular, the thin wings
which connect it to the bottom, which break off and
shatter into bits of plastic all over.

So these have been pulled back into organization.

Sandy didn't really want to reconnect the electricity,
but it has been running safely for the whole time 
before all of this, so in the end, he figured why
not?, and tied it together again, securing it with
Marrette connectors. He's left his work unconnected
and visible, as he wants us to call an electrical
contractor to straighten this out.

Me? I would have liked it if he ran a single
safe outlet upstairs. It would not even have
to be part of the same circuit. Just a safe
combination. To Anywhere. Then I'd plug the
blue cord into it, and things would be safe.

Then we could stop using the dangerous circuit,
but deal with it leisurely after we travel.

This morning I did oversize laundry. There is
a small place just west of here, on Oliver St.

The machines all look like they're in mint
new condition, and was confirmed when I asked
the nice man behind the counter. It has its
first anniversary in a few days.

He sounds like he's from the Philipines. In Toronto
we have a big community, but here, he is the first
I've met.

These big machines are curious. They don't use 
much water. That might be a good thing. The
cycle involves a short pre-wash, a 10 minute
wash, three short rinses, and a four minute

What is a surprise is how little detergent they
seem to use. 

I added one half serving from the generic
yellow label (Sunfresh) detergent during the
pre-wash. It floods the first compartment
during that time. VERY heavy foaming happens.

It rinses that out, and I think, OK, now
I'll give it just a bit of stuff for the
wash itself. 

How little?  I gave it 1/4 serving. 

Bubble Bubble toil and trouble. I watched
the rinses, and saw that it *almost* got
the stuff out. Sigh. I felt the finished
wet fleeces I'd washed (you know, the warm
polar fleece sweater things?). They were 
slippery from surfactant.

Well, I used less for the rugs. Yes, I waited
for the first things to finish before I started
the next, just so I could get the chemistry etc
all correct.

Again, I used half, but a small half, for the
two rugs. They didn't take much room in the
chamber, all in all. And when I watched the
sudsing, well, it was high. 

So when it came time to give it stuff for the
real wash, I thought, "I'd better be careful."
And I only gave it about a teaspoon of stuff.
I swear. Perhaps a tablespoon. Not more.

Well, you'd think I poured the entire bottle
into the machine. It was full of white suds.

Well, I will get the washing figured out, but
not real soon. I don't do laundromat washing

On the menu tonight, I'm making mashed potatoes.
And I've decided to subject us to Turnip and to
Parsnip.  Oh, I'm sure it will have an onion and
mushrooms too.

That's all I know.