Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Have Seen The Lights

Since it is nearly the end of February we (i.e. Mrs Stevie) decided it was time to take down the Christmas Tree.

Years ago we had invested in a very nice artificial tree with pre-installed lights. You take it out of the box, you unfold the branches and arrange them "realistically" and you plug it in. There's an optional "festoon with as much crap as the legs will stand without collapsing" phase which Mrs Stevie is a great fan of, but essentially that is it. No driving all over Christendom trying to find a tree without great big holes in the foliage, no mucking about trying to find a way to prop it up, no sticky pine goo everywhere and most importantly, no waking up the next day to the sight of a propped-up tree skeleton surrounded by a sea of fragrant and impossible-to-vacuum-out-of-the-carpet needles.

I mentioned last year how I had replaced a very large number of lamps in one section of the tree, and how over the Christmas period I was witness to chain-blowing lamp syndrome as the short-when-blown mechanism of each lamp functioned as intended, possibly for the first time in the history of the lamp design. This happens because as each lamp shorts out there is a little more voltage applied to the rest of the string, which shortens the life of the remaining bulbs. Each blown lamp makes matters worse.

Usually this isn't much of a problem because the mechanism is notoriously unreliable, and given to the well-known "one goes out, they all go out" effect. I'm currently working on a theory that this is due to the extremes of temperature the lights undergo when hung outside. However, this theory fails to take into account the fact that everyone has experienced the effect in self-strung lamps that have never been outside the house after the seal on the box they came in was broken. Turning off an entire string of lamps saves the rest of the bulbs at the cost of removing years of life from whoever it is that gets delegated to get the bloody things working again.

I had insisted that before the tree get crammed back in its box1 that I would replace all the bebuggeréd lamps, and Monday being a holiday in New York and me getting the day off, I decided that that would be the ideal time. Next time I'll just go an lie down on the railway tracks2 and save myself the angst.

I had done some post Xmas snooping for el-cheapo light strings which could be raided for spare lamps3 but there were none to be had because the world is currently in the process of stampeding into the era of LED Xmas lights. I therefore was reduced to ferreting around in my Olde Lyte Collection and found four strings of colored lights I'd forgotten I had, that dated from before we owned this house. Dirty, yes, but a quick test showed that twentymumble years on they were still in perfect condition, light-production-wise so they were fit for purpose. They also gave me pause because since microprocessors became dirt-cheap light strings have featured a control box that delivers 20-odd patterns of flashing, none of them ideal and most of them annoying. Thank Azathoth only the neighbors have to see the things. These lights, however, had a control box with a knob on it that adjusted the speed and nothing else. The light would "march" along the string at varying speeds or stay lit and that was it. Perfect for twinkling effects.

So perfect I didn't want to junk them any more.

I had an inner argument with myself for a few minutes and decided to compromise. I would strip out the lights as planned, but keep the wiring harness so I could use it for driving twinkling netlights later on.

In no time at all I had removed and washed the bulbs and classified them by color, and so it was that I had 75-ish lamps for tree-lamp replacements yesterday.

First job was to pull the tree apart so I could work on each section. During this I knocked over a side-table with the remains of The Stevieling's lunch on it and got yelled at. I was forced to endure an harangue on a trumped-up charge of clumsiness before I could start work, but I tuned most of it out so I can't recall the details. Then I began changing the blown bulbs for good ones.

This involves the usual process of finding a good string and removing one bulb (which for maximum enjoyment should then be lost so you can waste hours searching for the bulb and, more importantly, the unique fitting it is mounted in and without which the whole tree is so much junk). This will be the test instrument. Then you remove each dead bulb, testing it by plugging it into the good string to confirm it is blown. Assuming it is dead, you pull the bulb from the fitting, insert a replacement bulb4, trim the wires to length and bend them over the base of the fitting, test the result to confirm it is still a working bulb and plug it back into the place the blown bulb came from.

Eventually the string I was working on would burst into magnificent radiance as I finally found the one bulb that had failed to short itself properly, which would speed the process by not requiring me to test each bulb from that point on. This was important because I ended up replacing well over 50 bulbs5, most of them in that one string that was so troublesome over Christmas. It turned out that, as I suspected, there were clusters of bulbs hidden deep in the tree which had blown and which I couldn't see to replace and therefore my intra-Xmas repairs were already overloaded from the get-go.

I eventually finished up and we loaded the thing into its box and then the three of us paraded out to the garage to attempt putting it back in the storage loft. This involved me steering it into the proper place some seven feet above ground while the womenfolk pushed and heaved. It used to be that Mrs Stevie steered while I pushed, but I figured out who was getting the better half of that job a couple of years ago and suggested we swap so she wouldn't be hurt if the box fell from the shelf during loading.

The threat is real enough; it's just that after watching my savings evaporate in the financial crisis, my house disintegrate at each puff of wind and my health depart for a better deal in some teenager's body, I no longer view death by archived Xmas Tree as a particularly bad thing.

  1. And for some reason we can never remember how we got the bally thing in the box the year before and have to go through lengthy trial fits that erode everyone's post-holiday joie de vivre and induce the usual Tax Return Season Rage
  2. I'm told death by hypothermia is not that unpleasant, and the steel rails will conduct the cold nicely. The danger of being run over by a train is minimal these days
  3. For reasons that escape me it is often cheaper to purchase a string of 150 lights, strip them out and junk the wiring harness than to buy loose bulbs. This, to me, indicates an economy wildly out of contact with the real world, but I'm told I am stupid by just about everyone I raise the issue with, and you can't argue with facts like that.
  4. Getting the wires into the holes in the base of the fitting is a lengthy process worth a posting on its own, but I'll omit it for brevity, just remarking that it depleted the reservoir of Class Two Words of Power considerably over the course of the afternoon
  5. Lest you doubt this, I still have the swollen fingers to prove it

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Smiting Continues Apace

Yesterday, Sunday, I rose at the crack of dawn, donned gloves1 and went outside to clear the debris field that was now taking up the concrete patio that runs alongside our garage.

Mostly made up of twisted, bent Aluminum siding of a bilious yellow color I've never cared for but cannot afford to replace, there were veins of silver-coated expanded polystyrene sheets, often snapped into interesting shapes by the wind that ripped it from the wall after ridding the house of the Siding That Should Not Be and that blew sheets of it all over the neighborhood. It would have been an interesting sight had it only happened next door. Oh well.

Moaning a dirge of hopelessness to keep my spirits up I began to clear the yard, transporting the siding to a sheltered area of the lawn by the fence (there was the forecast of more foul weather to come and I've had the experience of trying to excavate this siding from a frozen snowbank before when the patch at the opposite corner was torn off a couple of years ago almost to the day - it was a Martin Luther King Holiday Weekend job excavating it, thawing it and putting it back on the house). It was not one I hope to repeat in this life. Nor would trying to clear the promised snow from the rear of the house be simple if there was a field of razor-sharp Aluminum embedded in it.

I soon had a pile of siding on the lawn, a pile of expanded polystyrene weighed-down with a bucket full of pool chemicals in one corner of the concrete patio and a field of nails all over the concrete patio. It seems the wind had shaken the pile of crap for some time after it had landed, allowing about a pound of nails to dribble down to ground level. What a wonderful example of mixed-particle sorting under turbulent conditions! What a complete pain in the fundament to clean up.

So I didn't, telling myself the musical jingling that accompanied a walk across he patio as nails embedded temporarily in the soles of my boots then dropped free was a pleasant change to the "wocka-wocka" sounds of siding only partially uninstalled from the wall of the house alerting me to the sudden gusts of wind that were buzzing around me trying to claim credit for the mighty work I was witness to.

Then I went round to the East Lawn to survey the damage there.

It was fortunate that I had been sobbing helplessly from the debacle on the patio and was thus unable to summon more than a groan at the sight of my once magnificent fence, now missing a panel. From the way some of the others were flapping it was obvious I was about to witness a complete and catastrophic failure of the infrastructure, fence-wise unless something was done soon. Action was called for.

There followed the usual nonsense at Home Despot as I attempted to find six pressure-treated two-by-fours that were a) straight, 2) unbowed, þ) not corkscrewed and ♥) not dinged-up to the point of unusability by the forklift used to load the banded bundles of wood onto the racks. It took forever.

Then I removed and replaced the lower rail on the fallen panel, added rails to the corner panel that was about to rip free in the light breeze that was blowing when I returned to Chateau Stevie, did the same to a couple of other panels that were looking very sad, and lastly, installed the fallen panel.

I should explain. The reason so much damage had occurred was that the fence rails, the long lengths of wood to which the fence pickets are actually fastened, were not made of cedar as I had assumed when I bought them, nor were they made of pressure treated wood. They were, in fact, just untreated spruce, what the termites and carpenter ants that infest these parts call "breakfast". The insects work from the rear of the wood, the bit that is sandwiched between the cedar pickets and the rail itself, so everything looks good until it suddenly and unexpectedly disintegrates and the fence becomes a pile of loose pickets on the sidewalk.

There are two ways of repairing such damage. The Proper Way, in which the old rail is removed in a tedious and time-consuming process and replaced with a more durable length of wood, and the I Haven't Got Time For this Crap Method in which the more durable piece of wood is laid on top of the rotting rail and secured top the fence posts, then the fence pickets are either nailed or screwed to it, which saves time at the expense of looking really horrible as the old rail falls apart and leaves dangling nails as a lingering Tetanus threat when it falls apart. I used the latter method this day as I was sore wounded and down-at-heart and just wanted the day to end.

Replacing the panel was a job and a half too. First, these panels weigh quite a bit and are a challenge for two people to work with in a tight spot. Next, replacing this panel meant I had to walk around the entire property any time I needed to get to the other side, which I did, a lot. Third, frost heave had raised the ground so much the bloody thing wouldn't fit back in the hole it came out of and I had to hack at the frozen ground for quite some time to prepare the way and still had to sit on the (freezing) sidewalk and lever the damned thing into place with the mighty Stevieplates before I could drive the screws.

The neighbors had already been given much entertainment and were pleased with the performance that entailed me sitting on the ground, kicking the fence into position and thrusting with all my might to keep it there while I drilled new pilot holes, switched bits, dipped each screw in a mysterious fluid (liquid soap, old fencebuilder's trick to prevent the screws jamming half in) and then drove it home with a battery-powered drill and rage-powered Words of Power.

It was all very trying indeed.

Mrs Stevie hoved into theater as this was going on and demanded to know whether the fence was fixed or not. I informed her, over the course of the next three minutes, that it wasn't and made enquiries as to what mental processes were at work that could infer such would be the case given the extent of the destruction and the size of the workforce deployed to deal with things. She responded in kind, visiting such much-explored territory as my genetic heritage and quality of my gonads (though what that has to do with fence reconstruction is beyond me). After that, the conversation deteriorated somewhat and harsh words passed between us, until finally she playfully punched me in the head and went inside so I could continue working.

The Stevieling swept up all those nails, which was nice of her.

I woke this morning to see it was snowing and had been doing so long enough to leave three inches of white inconvenience all over the shop.

  1. I call the right glove "Juan" and the left glove "Quixote" so that each time I wear them I Don ...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Another Day In Paradise

Spent today, Saturday, goofing off, watching other people play Warhammer Fantasy Battle (a colorful tabletop game involving dozens of painted plastic and lead miniatures that eats time and cash like they're going out of fashion).

On the drive home I got caught behind a cop car which was busting chops by driving slower and slower as it proceeded up a virtually empty Deer Park Avenue, obviously trying to provoke someone into passing so they could be stopped and ticketed for some petty thing, so at the first opportunity I took a right and drove the back way back to Chateau Stevie. Thus it was that I was privileged to see a panel of my 15 year-old cedar fence lying face down on the sidewalk.

I parked the fabulous Steviemobile1 and ran inside and told Mrs Stevie.

"Well, I was trying to call you but you weren't answering your phone. The wind went crazy about half an hour ago and blew the fence down" she sniffed. "It also pulled the siding off the side of the garage'"

"WHAT?" I screamed. "All of it?"

"Damn near."

I ran outside took one look at the scene, clutched my head and moaned. The siding had peeled off the side of the house from the roof line to about seven feet from the ground and had dumped itself as a collection of twisted metal all over the yard. Then the insulating panels, made of expanded polystyrene, had blown off, revealing the tatty asbestos shingles that the house was equipped with by the original builder2.

I plan on running the costs of this disaster through the house insurance because those bastards canceled my policy abruptly after twenty years of premiums. Not because of anything I had done, but because some actuarial gimp had calculated that Long Island was now a hurricane-prone area3 and recomputed the cost/risk ratio.

This unannounced move effed up my mortgage payments for the first time since I owned the house and took a while to sort out because it triggered default notices on my account.

Oh yeah. These gits are charging me for hurricanes that haven't happened, so they can bloody well pony up for the siding-wrecking gale that did. But the costs may be high on account of those Azathoth-damned shingles, which are now classed as a hazardous material and will cost much to get rid of.

The wind, which has been gusting strongly for the last 24 hours has now died down.

Its work is done.

  1. now suffering a suspected hole in the exhaust after dinging it up in snowbanks around Boxing Day
  2. A Mr Gak Eisenberg, who knapped flint arrowheads and hunted Mammoth and Giant Sloth in his spare time
  3. because the climatologists say we are "overdue" for a big hurricane - I wonder if these people are solidly behind the anthropomorphic cause of Global Warming since the same climatologists are saying so

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Health,Wealth and a Working Dryer

Well, one out of three ain't bad.

The regular reader 1 will know that I was sick over Thanksgiving, sick again over Christmas and sick in the early New Year. All respiratory infections, and thus all made me short of breath.

Once the illnesses were finally over, imagine my surprise to find I was still feeling short of breath. Not "gotta suck air as fast as I can" short of breath, but in the middle of my chest there was the feeling you get at the same time you are sucking air trying to make it go away after a really long run. The same feeling, sans pounding, that you get when someone really cute announces they aren't entirely averse to the idea of removing their clothes in your presence and will let you touch them afterwards.

I had a long think, interrupted by memories of some of the young women that actually enacted that scenario in my presence2, and remembered that in my case this feeling had once been my body's way of saying "Hey, guess what? Your pancreas's capillaries are all blocked with that stuff that looks like toffee again. Prepare for unspeakable agony!" and the clarion call to start ingesting nothing but clear liquids until I was capable of straightening up and not screaming every 30 seconds as I was wracked by spasms of sensation of the sort that alter one's perceptions to the point one can see God.

It generally took a few days.

Accordingly, I switched from solid food to Ginger Ale, and in no time at all I felt like I'd been kicked in the kidneys and was peeing clear, odorless fluid that all-but fizzed. Amazingly no pancreatitis occurred and so I started eating again. The feeling came back, faded away, came back stronger and finally moved in permanently. Then my legs started hurting really badly

Time to see Doc Rubberglove.

The doctor's staff was obviously in need of some entertainment because they got me an appointment the next day, so reluctantly I announced I was taking a sick day in order to deal with the chest discomfort and the slipped disc I suffered when I leapt into the air and clicked my heels upon being told I would have to take Tuesday off. Anything is better than the Tuesday meeting.

That night I celebrated by laundering some clothes and popping them in the dryer.

The next day, around noon I departed for Doc Rubberglove's House O' Humiliation, noting in passing that The Stevieling must have loaded the dryer with clothing before she left for school as it was tumbling away to itself.

The Doctor's staff weighed me with their special scale that adds 50 lbs to your true weight and stuffed instruments in my ears and up my nose, though they couldn't actually muster enough energy to even pretend they were looking into said cavities. I don't blame them; I've seen what's in there myself and there are limits. Then a med student tapped me in various places, fondled a few limbs and declared the doctor would be with me "soon".

A mere half hour later Doc Rubberglove breezed in and prescribed an EKG3 which involved sticking electrodes to my (hairy) chest, running some sort of inkjet printer for five seconds, then ripping off the electrodes and writing down the ones that caused the loudest screams of pain. Then, while the staff went out to watch re-runs of it all on the surveillance system I was allowed five minutes on Doc Rubberglove's Patent Electric Fog Bong, which didn't cure the problem but made me care slightly less.

Eventually the Doc stopped prevaricating around the bush and scheduled me for some tests, effectively using up the rest of my day in medical froofaraw. It was all very trying.

First there was the Chest X-Ray, for which I had to drive to the other end of the island so some young woman could irradiate me with enough monster-creating hard X-Rays4 it made my ribs glow in the dark.

While I was there, another young woman ultrasound-scanned my legs in case I had a thrombosis or phlebitis or whatever a blood clot in the leg is called. The gel used to make the ultrasonic gubbins work properly got soaked up in my leg-hair and thus when I made my way to Good Samaritan Hospital for blood work I had shiny legs that shone with a sheen that would have looked not out of place on the head of someone around 1985.

It felt nasty too. which was, I believe, the point. Naturally, when I showered that evening it turned to glue, but I'm getting ahead of the story.

I drove to the hospital, having no idea whatsoever where the outpatient lab was. Never mind, I would drive past the Emergency Room drop-off on the left side of the hospital looking for signs saying "Lab", and park at the back if I didn't see any sign and check in at the information desk at the Baxter Pavilion in the rear of the hospital. It's actually more of an annex than a pavilion, but that was a conundrum for another day.

There was no sign for the lab

So I parked and walked to the Baxter Pavilion doors. Once inside I noted with a class three Word of Power that there was no-one at the information desk, and from appearances hadn't been since the desk was installed. Another plan foundered on the rocks of reality then. No matter, the hospital is really one big building linked together by zigzaggy corridors; I would simply walk them until I discovered a sign for the Lab.

A sad mistake.

I managed to walk to the front of the hospital in only about 15 minutes, where a young woman barely out of the Zygote stage laughed at my English pronunciation of "Laboratory"5 before directing me to the right side of the hospital. I then traced a zigzaggy path in which a straight-line distance of what could have been no more than 300 yards became about a half-mile of staggering and moaning. I hadn't eaten since the previous night because I knew that any blood work Doc Rubberglove would order would require an 8 hour plus fast, and since it was now around 4 pm I was getting a bit spacey.

Finally I found the lab and had the blood drawn, two tubes of it.

"Is that it?" I asked dubiously.

"Yep" answered the technician.

"How come? I have these tests done every three months and they always take four tubes full".

"Nah. We can do most of the tests with just this one". He held up a single test tube of blood with an anti-clotting agent added to it.

I knew it. I knew it was not necessary to suck out pints of blood for those damn tests. Those bastards at Gouge Laboratories (my usual blood thieves of someone-elses-choice) were clearly inflating the bill and bleeding me dry into the bargain. Gits.

I asked the girl manning the desk which would be the quickest way back to my car (I had no wish to repeat the epic journey I made on my way in) and was told that if I went out of the door and walked about three hundred feet I would be in the carpark.

And so I returned home in high dugeon, and went downstairs to unload the kid's stuff from the dryer.

When I opened the dryer the awful truth became apparent. I was greeted by no outrush of warm, moist air, and the clothing in there was mine. The damned machine, instructed to dry until the heat sensor indicated the clothes were done, had broken down in such a way that the clothes had tumbled for about 36 hours.


I unloaded my dry and very, very soft clothes and one towel. Then I sighed and pulled the lint filter, and removed the mattress of downy lint that had been sucked off the towel as it was pounded into submission for a day and a half.

Fortunately, Doc Rubberglove had decided to hedge his bets (and mine) by scheduling a Stress Test for the next day, so I had another day off in which I might scavenge a few hours in which to effect dryer repairs.

And so to bed and the sweet oblivion of Lethe.

Wednesday dawned and, once the women had decamped, I got up and removed the dryer faceplate and drum. I jumpered the door switch circuit6 and started the dryer so I could observe the gas jet in action.

Or not, as it turned out. The igniter didn't even glow7 so with a sigh I pulled the entire machine (what was left of it) out from its niche and removed the rear panel.

As usual, this was accompanied by the sudden deformation of the razor-sharp pressed steel panel and the consequent infliction of a couple of dozen minor wounds to hands, face, upper arms and anything else not covered by clothing.

I spent some small time bleeding, crying out in pain and so forth, the stuff that Mrs Stevie categorizes as "wasting time", and got back to work.

A quick poke around with the multimeter showed a suspicious open circuit on one of the components.

Aha! Or, after a bit of thought, perhaps not.

Some of those components are supposed to be open circuit until something happens 8 so I had to pore over the circuit diagram for a bit to confirm my diagnosis, then jumper the component and check that the dryer lit when the circuit was closed, which it did.

Okay, so I would get a replacement from Sid's Appliance and Taxidermy Store on my way back from the cardiologist, who apparently was not planning a stress test, just an initial examination according to the human I finally was able to speak with after a battle with the phonebot- no need for towels, shorts and a change of shirt then, and most of the day not wasted in gasping for air in the quest for health.

I excised the mutinous part and put it...somewhere. I remember it was on a small table at one point and I remember distinctly picking it up, but that would turn out to be the last I ever saw of that particular piece of junk. Then I drove to the cardiologist, who took one look and said that he wanted me to have an echocardiogram and a stress test. Right now.

And so I had my chest hair dry-shaved in patches, then the bare spots scrubbed with a scouring pad because "we need the skin to be more sensitive". It worked, too, and much kudos to the scouring pad-wielding nurse who gave her eardrums in the cause.

After that I was hooked up to another EKG machine with industrial strength sticky pads and was made to walk very fast on a treadmill until my vision became tunneled and I was begging for mercy and/or death with every ragged breath.

There was a Big Red Button for turning off this Torquemadaesque Machine, but it had been placed cruelly out of reach of anyone likely to need it.

I was allowed to dangle from the handlebar of the treadmill for a few minutes while my lungs sucked in volumes of life-giving air, then it was time for the ripping off of the sticky pads which revived me by the expedient of exposing the stuff that grows underneath my skin to the air.

Next, I was conducted to a room where an attractive young woman attempted to stick more pads to me but failed on account of the wringing wet condition of my body (which now resembled that of a mange-riddled Gorilla that had been fished out of the East River) squirted yet more gel all over me and began to use ultrasound to show a student my heart (and presumably gather important health-related data) but got discombobulated when I asked if I could have a look.

She made up some excuse for having me lie on my left side (the machine was on my right) and I acquiesced rather than provoke her into some inventive "test", but I felt - and still feel - that if anyone is going to look at a person's organs using technology that person's insurance is paying for, then top of the list of gawkers should be the person who is lying on a hard couch covered in gel with holes shaved randomly in his chest hair.

She spent the rest of the exam driving the probe into my chest so hard I have bruises.

Well, too bad for her. I've been married to Mrs Stevie for 22 ambush-filled years now. Her attempts were pitiful compared to the ministrations that vile harridan has visited upon me at the drop of a hat.

Mistress Ultrasound wanted the student to practice on me and I agreed to let him do so on me provided part of the process was him showing me my heart.

"You really want to look at it?" she asked.

"Damn straight. It's my heart, I wanna see it too" I snarled.

I was somewhat short tempered by then on account of the bruises and the gel which was doing for my patchy chest hair what the other woman had done for my legs 24 hours before, and the fact that once again I hadn't eaten all day.

It was eventually over, and I was conducted to the certificate- and bookshelf-lined office the cardiologist lived in when he wasn't actually examining anyone.9 He waved me to a chair and told me that according to the tests he had done he couldn't say why I was short of breath. He said he'd be happier if he could've run a test with radioactive dye, but my insurance company wouldn't agree to pay for it. Once again I was confronted with direct evidence that the American Health Care System is dysfunctional10. Oh well.

So I left the doctor and prepared to talk to Sid, or perhaps Sid. Which was when I got my first inkling that all was not well with my foolproof "component replacement" plan.

I emptied my pockets and searched the contents. I searched my car. I drove home and searched the house. I searched my car again. All to no avail.

There was nothing for it but to do without. I did the Bonehead Dance, then drove down to Sid's place where Sid and Sid were in residence, and described the part using mime and interpretive dance. I did okay too, against all expectation, and in a surprisingly screw-up free session with my socket set I had the dryer reassembled and working.

True, I did manage to crush a connector into a wad of useless brass with my Leatherman pliers, and I got a teensy shock when my finger brushed up against that connector's mate because I'd forgotten to unplug the dryer but all-in-all a fiasco-free repair, mostly, if we ignore the losing of the part debacle, the squished connector screw-up and the amps up the knuckle joint of my little finger inattention to detail.

If only the Doctors could pull off the same trick with my body.

  1. there is one, but I've forgotten where he lives
  2. Alright, all three of them
  3. Why is an electrocardiogram an EKG and not an ECG? First order obfuscation so the plebs don't pierce the miasma of jargon the medical community throws around to avoid telling you what exactly is wrong with you
  4. Has no-one but me seen The Quatermass Experiment for Azathoth's sake?
  5. I was exhausted and starving and couldn't be bothered to concentrate on accommodating Americans and their crazy pronunciation and slipped up by saying "la BOH ra tory" instead of "LAB rote ury"
  6. The dryer is designed to cut off power to the motor and shut down the gas jet when the door is opened as a safety measure. Part of the process of removing the front panel involves prying apart a connector that hooks the door sensor into the machines electric circuitry. It goes without saying that the designers viewed the practice of firing up the dryer while it was in bits as dangerous and had designed the circuit so that with the door sensor disconnected nothing would work. However, they then undid all of that careful handyman protection-from-self work by including a circuit diagram (taped inside the control console so it wouldn't be found by just any incompetent fool, only by those with access to tools) from which it was possible, with the aid of a multimeter, to figure out how to run a bypass with a u-shaped bit of wire. We handymen laugh at such concepts as danger and culpable liability. Actually, we usually don't spot them in time but it amounts to the same thing
  7. Plunging me into new territory. A glowing igniter but no flame is a problem I've fixed twice before
  8. usually something getting hot given that a dryer only does two things other than sit in a room: it gets hot and it spins one component, slowly
  9. I'm absolutely certain that there is a company somewhere that supplies doctors with appropriate bookshelf fillers. There's always a large selection of books with the name of the specialist's target organ(s) on the spine - there was actually one called "The Heart" front and center of the case directly behind this one - and a selection of new, worn and worn-out spines crammed in there. All too convenient, if you ask me. Who in Azathoth's name would actually read something titled "Congestive Failure Modes of the Human Cardio-Vascular System"?
  10. Either the doctor is asking for too many tests or the insurance company is being overly tight-fisted at the risk of my life. I can guess which is the actual case in point here