F 1 D 0 -- 02 05 08 at 14 30 Electricity. 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 sense! 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. Zzzzzt. 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 extraction. 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 often. 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.