It finally happened.

So, if you’re wondering about the radio silence… it’s because I finally brought COVID home. Ironically not from the hospital. The repeated exposures there didn’t get me.

No, it was a perfect storm of misfortune. We went to Fully Charged Live down in San Diego – and while we were there we went for a dinner. We thought it was going to be outdoors, but it wasn’t. It was in a small back room, and just by sheer shittyness of timing, it was the same night as a game in the stadium. That meant that I dropped the rest of the team off – and they went in ahead of me. Had we all been together, it’s likely our collective panic would have driven us out of the place.

But instead, they sat down while I drove off to park the car, finally making it back about 20 minutes later. By which time, when I walked in, I felt like they’d been exposed and I was feeling social-obligation.

I tried to keep the mask on and eat safely – and maybe we caught it somewhere else, but the timeline of everyone’s illness points to a single point of exposure. And that’s the only true single point of exposure.

It’s been miserable, and I’m so very frustrated that I brought it home and got Kathryn sick. 2 weeks in and I still have a lot of snot, frankly, and an irritating cough. I get fatigued quicker than I should. Kathryn’s about a week behind… so that has spectacularly sucked. Thankfully the vaccines did their stuff, and neither of us have been dreadfully ill. But at nearly a year since my last vaccine my body’s had to do a lot of heavy lifting to get me better.

I went back to work on day 11, because, well – frankly – it was that or engage with the fucking atrocious US healthcare system to try and get some more time off. Today was my second day back at TE – and I can’t say as it went super smoothly. But stuff was filmed, and offloaded, and lo I shall have a ball editing next week.

In chicken news Thelma and Louise seem to have integrated pretty well. I mean, there’s definitely still Astrid and Pippi — and Thelma and Louise — but there’s not a bunch of fighting. Thelma and Louise are way more tractable, which is handy, although they do try and get underfoot. And Astrid is no longer broody – but is now molting. As is at least one of Thelma or Louise. The place looks like there’s been a chicken murder. It’ll be intriguing to see if there’s any big changes, because last time there were some pretty noticable shifts before and after in their feather patterns.

In other, other news, I need to get the shower finished still. Kathryn cleaned off the tiles, so I need to do the last bits of sealing around the shower pipework, tighten up the plumbing on the radiator, and then grout over the top of the shower pipework seal. Then it’s just sealing the tiles and the grout and trim. Endless trim.

But doing that and the attic doors means the permit can be signed off, so I’m gonna try and do a bit of that tomorrow. Unfortunately, just to drive us completely over the edge, the fan in the main bathroom has now died. I can’t believe that 3 years is as long as it’s lasted, and I kinda want to fix it – but I also kinda just want to get a replacement and throw the fucker in. I mean, seriously. 3 years.

Like a military operation

We had a plan. It was a solid plan. The two new chickens (Thelma and Louise) were ready for their next step in flock integration. In where they can interact with – but not actually get to our other chickens.

  1. We would take the temporary run in which they’ve been acclimatising down – it’s made with roughly 4×6 panels (of ABS pipe with chicken wire zip-tied to it… we’re fancy here). We’d move the panels into the main run.
  2. We’d also move Thelma and Louise’s little portable coop into the main run, inside the newly erected fence panels.
  3. Thelma and Louise, being more tractable than our older chickens would be allowed to roam free while this happened and then we’d catch them and pop them in their kind of sub-run.
  4. We’d move their water and food in with them too.

Simple.

And it went flawlessly, until as we carried their water in it became apparent that while the easy-to-catch Thelma and Louise were now safely ensconced in their sub-run, Astrid and Pippi were enjoying the excitement of the garden having found an escape route through a previously unknown hole in the fence.

Astrid and Pippi are not tractable chickens. They do not crouch to be picked up. They sprint rapidly around the garden.

Apparently the average top speed of a human is 8 miles per hour. A chicken? About 9 miles per hour.

We did eventually herd Astrid back in, and Pippi – I caught her but with my arms wrapped around a shrub, which meant that Kathryn had to come and grab her from me in a careful chicken hand-off.

A tale of two taps

…well, valves. But that’s not so alliterative.

So as is so often the case as the deadline for our project being signed off approaches (or us getting *another* extension) I put a bit of effort in to trying to get things finished – at least enough – to get signed off.

The bathroom is the main obstacle, that and what turns out to be the terrifying price of CVG fir plywood. Dear lord.

So over the past few days I’ve made a more committed effort to getting the shower installed (a job I’d been putting off because I suspected it would be hideous), getting the bidet installed (a job I put off because it involved disconnecting work I’d already done), and getting the sink plumbing installed (a job I put off because I hate American FIP threads – despite the fact I used them everywhere because I didn’t know the US has finally discovered compression joints).

The shower – actually turned out to be (as far as I can tell so far) far less of a nightmare than I expected.

It took a fair bit of gnawing at the tiles to get the sort of wobbly stubouts (they’re kinked so you can adjust the width to make up for – fairly big – imperfections in your pipe placement, but actually mine were pretty much spot on because I spent bloody hours getting them to the spec on the piece of paper).

IMG_20220810_134617

Once that was up the assembly proved to be fucking evil – because it didn’t seem like the people who designed it were actually aware that ceilings exist, or that it’s not possible to pass a screwdriver through a pipe to tighten up the screws. However, after a fair amount of pondering I managed to work out an order that allowed me to actually assemble it – and incredibly – it so far has not leaked.

The bidet was the work of a few minutes in the end. It’s awkward, because the toilet is incredibly tight against the wall – a combination of me not really understanding that in the US people often seem to mount their toilets with a noticeable gap between the toilet and the wall – which is probably because the floor mounted drain doesn’t allow for any position adjustment, so the plumbers probably rough it in with more of a gap than I allowed. A combination of that – and the fact that our wall ended up being a good half-inch thicker than we intended.

Anyway, so it’s tight – which makes plumbing anything around it fecking evil.

But, it actually came apart and went back together just fine. So now we had a shower and a bidet. I mean, we can’t use the shower until we seal the floor, but we *have* one.

That left the sink.

Now look, I am able to admit that I am no exceptional plumber. I can make things work – and I’ve got a grasp of the rules that I think is probably good enough to do most basic things. But I do hate FIP joints. Loathe and despise them. So I wasn’t…thrilled to be doing it. But off I went. I knocked the tape off that covered the holes, and took a chunk of time with the hole-saw cutting through the tiles to make a bit more space because I wasn’t wholly convinced by the alignment. And then I pulled the old plugs and inserted my brass stub outs.

And then I spent the entire rest of the fucking day in an unbearably tedious struggle with – mainly – this fucking valve.

IMG_20220817_184951

It was sat on the hot pipe, and it leaked.

I tightened it, left it a bit, it leaked.

I took it apart, replaced the tape, it leaked.

I tightened it, it leaked.

I took it apart and I replaced the tape again – with a different brand of PTFE tape, it leaked.

I tightened it, it leaked.

At some point in this process, the cold line started to weep too – and I took that apart, retaped it with the new PTFE tape… And it was okay.

So I took apart the hot line a sixth time and coated it in the PTFE goop – and it leaked a little. So I tightened it up – and it seemed to have stopped. And a few hours later I went to bed.

Then I woke up in the morning…and it was weeping again.

So I decided it wasn’t me, I went to Bob and got a replacement, and I replaced it, taped it up, and… so far it hasn’t wept.

Before I ran to Bob this morning I had the great sense to plumb in the waste water, which incredibly, also does not appear to be leaking. Which just leaves the towel rail to install, for which I will have to get a hex whatsit adaptor because last time it was a pigging nightmare without it. And then… we’re done. Well, then there’s trim.

There’s always trim.

Oh! But I also picked up some chisels to install the new pulls for the sliding doors. I do have a couple of chisels somewhere, but I’m pretty sure they’re blunt as hell and I don’t have the patience or skill to sharpen them well (although I do have an India stone somewhere). I also worked out what bit of wood I’ll use to fill the void that was drilled in the door (because I didn’t realize that they’d pocket it for something stupid).

And I ordered the fucking expensive plywood for our attic doors. Which is the other job we need to be signed off as done. Which would be epic.

Muncaster Fell, then down to my mum’s

Our final day in the Lakes we thought we’d relax, take a nice short walk, something not too taxing and without too much height. That went about as well as usual, as we wandered up Muncaster Fell. Our map made us think that it was about a 600 ft climb, iirc, and then a faaaairly flat walk across the top – maybe losing a hundred feet, before climbing up, skirting the summit and then wandering down to a stop on the Ratty which would take us back home.

It turned out that the paths have shifted a bit, they now basically go to the top of the two peaky-bits (I mean, it’s not a very pointy fell), then wander most of the way down between the two, making the upy-downyness much greater. We made it longer trying to avoid the inevitable, and then when we had the chance to skip the highest point, we didn’t, because having come so far we thought it’d be nice to actually see the view from the trig point. It was.

IMG_20220727_122754

The next day was, leaving the Lakes super early and driving. And driving. And charging. And driving. And Driving. And Charging. And Driving. AND DRIVING. AND CHARGING.

Yeah, renting a shortish range slow charging EV may not have been the best choice. But, it did it, we did it. And we made it to Brizzle where we caught up with one half of a couple of wonderful friends and their kids. We chatted and caused child-related-ink-chaos (one of their kids discovered that the pen we gave them allowed them to draw not just on paper, but also on themselves! Awesome!), drank tea, ate cake and then piled back in the car to drive the last few hours down to my mum’s.

She had persuaded my sister to stay an extra night, kipping on the camp beds in the study which meant that we got to see my sis and her husband as well. It’s been at least as long since I saw her as it has since we saw my mother, so it was a really lovely surprise and lovely to catch up. They stayed that night and so the next morning we got to have a bit more of a catch up before they headed off to the beach and then home. We – Kathryn, my mum and her husband and me, obviously, then went for a long wander on one of my mum’s favourite walks at the moment. One where a wild flower and grass meadow she walks through has turned almost red as the seeds have reached readiness…

The next few days were chatting, eating and walking for the most part… Enjoying the Cornish countryside, taking in some of my mum’s favourite places. We headed over to the Dutchy of Cornwall nursery where we, of course, partook in a cream tea. My mum also got some lovely plants, because – well – otherwise they’d get lonely. And we got some really nice ideas for plants for us to get for our front garden. That evening we headed out on a bat walk – as the light fades, the bats come out from the trees on the rural roads near my mum’s house, and as you walk along they’ll flit around above your head. It’s a wonderful experience that we couldn’t safely have here in the US (‘cos, no rabies in the UK).

That next day the rain was intermittent and we mainly hung out at home, just heading out with my mum for a brisk walk and some pony petting. I took a bit of the afternoon as the weather cleared up to film the drive review for the car we’d rented, having promised Nikki I’d try and review it since it’s a car we can’t get in the US.

We grabbed our swimming cossies the next day and headed out to the coast. We first headed out to Hollywell, which is a popular beach for both surfers and swimmers – first having a bit of a walk down the head before turning around and coming back having realised that we would run out of time before lunch. Paramito, my mum and me had a quick paddle while Kathryn guarded stuff and did some drawing – the timing didn’t quite work out so Kathryn didn’t get a swim there (sadface), and we headed back to the pub for fish and chips. After lunch we headed over to Cubert Commons – and walked down to Poly Joke beach, where after some lovely paddling I was attacked by a Weaver Fish.

Well, that might be an overstatement. I was stung. My first thought was that I’d been cut by a sharp shell, and I started walking out of the water…then the pain just kept escalating. It crescendoed and then I decided to have a little lie down for a second as I felt a weeny bit faint as the pain eased. After a couple of minutes I stood up and we decided that maybe we should head back to the car because it might be a sting that needed checking – since I really had no idea what it was.

As we neared the top of the beach we checked my toe and it had gone unnervingly white, with the rest of my foot swelling a bit – before mostly resolving by the time we got back to the car. To be honest it’s still not 100% now, but it shows no signs of infection and there’s no pain when I apply pressure. It just feels a little teeny bit off. Anyhow, we think it’s a Weaver fish sting based on the symptoms… next time I’ll be wearing shoes.

On the 2nd we popped around town grabbing some of the things we miss that we can’t easily get in the UK. KP Skips, Eccles cakes, chocolate digestives… We also picked up some bits and bobs for friends and family here in the US. Then in the afternoon I made good on my commitment to film – with Kathryn helping as camera person (lucky, because the wind was fierce) I rattled off the walk around from the car and rapidly shot some more B-roll to drop in the review. I’ve rough cut that today and it’s…surprisingly not terrible.

That next day we spent a chunk of the day – the morning – playing a fun packing game. I repacked the lawnmower I bought so it might make the flight intact, and we played an entertaining game of shuffle the item. Our pre-purchasing things weighing of the cases suggested that we had tons of space. Our post-purchasing of snacks and treats meant that we had to shuffle things very carefully between them to get them under the weight limit. It took much longer than we’d hoped, but we still managed to get out in the afternoon to Goliatha Falls which we’d not been to before and which is very, very beautiful. Unfortunately for us it was super busy that day, but my mum got to clamber about all over the rocks and utterly terrify me.

Then our last full day we headed up to Cotele to see the gardens. While not the biggest or grandest gardens, they were definitely some of my favourites – being as they’re much more informal in their planting and the location provides for some really lovely views. On top of that it’s a rare National Trust property that I really would rather like to live in. Not all of it, that’d be far too much – but maybe a wing. NT – call me? ;)

We went with my mum and her husband out for a wander in the evening and during it, he pointed out something that we’d never noticed before. Kathryn had spotted that a slab of stone currently being used as a footbridge over a little beck looks like it was once carved with patterns, and we were chatting about whether it might once have been part of a grander building – maybe a church or an abbey that disappeared in the dissolution of the monasteries in 1530, or perhaps from some other grand building. And as we made our way up the hill, my mum’s husband pointed out that one of the dry stone walls on the walk was almost certainly part of something more… grand. While some of the wall looks like regular old Cornish dry stone wall, two sides and this particular corner are made up of much higher quality stonework, and the corner in particular is gently, but very evenly curved in the manner of the base of a tower or somesuch.

It’s fascinating because we’ve walked past it a bunch of times and had never noticed… we had noticed that the farm barn a little bit further down does feature at least one window that clearly came from something – maybe a clerestory window?

IMG_20220729_133605

The next morning bright and revoltingly early we started our trek back across the country to the airport… it was, despite COVID a remarkably okay flight and we made it into bed about 24 hours after we got up tired and weary but glad to be back in our own home.

Whin Rigg, Illgill Head and Burnmoor Tarn

Well, fairly astonishingly, we did it. Not only did we do it, but we did it in time to get down and (thankfully) get the train back to our studio apartment.

After some debate, we decided to take Wainwright’s advice, and instead of just heading up to Burnmoor Tarn, which had been plan A, we instead took ourselves up through Low Holme, and the Miterdale Forest before making our way up to Whin Rigg and across The Screes, before creating Illgill Head and making the (it turns out) incredibly steep descent to Burnmoor Tarn.

By this point we were both pretty tired, but there’s no point to bring pretty tired nine hundred feet and a few miles from your destination. So down we went the rest of the feet, our feet complaining intermittently and my sodden five fingers squelching away (to be fair, they started squelching in the Miterdale Forest).

To our amazement we did the whole thing in about seven hours, which means we got to knock the last couple of miles off the walk by taking the train again from Dalegarth to Eskdale.

We did, however, opt to treat ourselves to dinner at The George IV pub, which was…pleasant. Not amazing, but solid pub food.

Ravenglass, Muncaster and Mary

Tomorrow we’re planning a longer walk, so today we planned a more relaxed day of not walking.

Which meant that we didn’t walk as much, and also didn’t wear appropriate shoes for walking. Which may have been an error. At any rate we went to check out Ravenglass, where there stands the highest Roman wall in England. Part of what was once a Roman bathhouse, adjacent to what was a fort, although the evidence for that is mainly underground (and indeed under a railway line) – although a plaque conveniently tells of its existence and of the 1976-1978 excavation that revealed a little more of its secrets.

As it often is, it’s amazing to stand in these places that feel so human and so recognizable, and yet are so far distant in time from us. The stone arch way and block work making spaces that feel very relatable, despite the many centuries that have passed since it was constructed.

From there we headed up to Muncaster castle, a seemingly slightly tired attraction (well, some of the less popular bits). We watched them flying some birds of prey from their hawk and prey bird center, something I’ve never seen before which really drove home the beauty of these animals. They explained how poachers in various parts of Africa are poisoning corpses to posion the vultures, because the flocks of vultures reveal the poachers activity. That is a terrible side effect of poaching which is driving the vulchers to extinction — vultures, incidentally are incredibly beautiful. Anyhow, they explained about their breeding programs (hey, it’s okay that we’ve got animals in captivity! We’re doing good things! (Which was actually good to hear)).

The rest of the gardens were pleasant, but mostly seemed to be rewilding themselves. The old orchard looked like they’d put new trees in a few years back but now seemed to be unmaintained, and the gorgeous collections of Rhody’s are gradually disappearing into a more native woodland.

…except for the bamboo, which seems to be as per usual on a rampage.

Having meandered all over the grounds we headed to the church of St Mary’s in Gosforth. Home to a number of Norse artefacts (a Nordic cross with pagan imagery on the side, one free leaflet inside went to great lengths to explain how this was most deffo in celebration of the one true God — although several other leaflets in the church (which weren’t free and for which we sadly did not have money on hand) seemed to have a more measured tone that explored the presence of pagan and Norse religions.

Anyhow, that was a brief visit since the leaflets were something we only discovered after wandering around and looking at the objects which seemed to have little information attached, so we were just admiring them for their naieve beauty :)

Tomorrow is the day we’ve currently scheduled for our long walk. There’s been some debate, but we’re both tempted by one of Wainwright’s suggestions. Risky because we’re neither of us terribly fit. But it looks quite, quite stunning.

So we’ll see how that goes.

Holi-holi-day

So, despite my best efforts – well, perhaps my it turns out inadequate efforts to bring a keyboard to spur me into writing, it turns out my grotty cheap Bluetooth keyboard is dead or faulty. Its always been a bit odd, but connecting it today on day 7, I think, of our holiday – the first time I got around to getting batteries was yesterday – and it seems to be dead. It’s sending continuous zeros to the phone which doesn’t work very well for writing.

I mean maybe if you’re into a long string of zeroes, but for writing some kind of journal entry it’s kinda inconvenient. Also a bit annoying because I was hoping to get a bit of actual writing in and I’m unlikely to tackle that on my phone.

Annnnyhow, we flew over to Heathrow, with our fancy n95s on, because COVID. That, it must be said, really added to the je ne sais quoi of flying economy. After 9 hours of basically no sleep, no eat, occasional drink, we made it to London and forked out the nearly 100 quid for a taxi to Finchley where our hotel was. That was us trying to avoid another plague tube trip, especially given that we arrived on a 40 C day – record breaking again (actual wildfires in London), and didn’t really want to haul our cases through London on the tube, then on the train, in that kind of temperature.

The next morning our adventure began in earnest. A little late because the rental car arrived an hour and a half late, but we did eventually make it up to our Airbnb at Birley Farm in Derbyshire. From our base there we struck out on a couple of walks, the longest being about 5 miles, exploring a bit of the peak district I don’t think I’ve seen, and to which Kathryn had never been before. We took the time to visit Chatsworth House, which I don’t think I’ve been to in the past. Just the gardens and the grounds, obviously, although the weather was bad enough early in the day that we probably could have got away with a quick inside tour without it getting too COVIDy. The gardens are expansive and quite lovely, and in the grounds they had an interesting exhibit of Burning Man related sculpture. I’m still a little unclear on the exact relationship between the sculptures and burning man. There seemed to be some collaboration with Burning Man folks and local schools and artists, but the information they provided was pretty limited.

Then yesterday we brought the little rental EV up to the Lakes over Wrynose and Hardknott passes, which was a bit of an adventure, after stopping at Booths to get some provisions for our stay.

We’re minimizing inside time and contact with other humans in an attempt to reduce the risk of carrying COVID to my mum, and holed up in a little studio apartment in Eskdale, just above The Green station. Having done a couple of pretty long walks by our standards while we were in The Peaks, today we promised ourselves a gentle walk. Following along the banks of The Esk, we thought we’d meander to Stanley Ghyll Force waterfall if we felt up to it. Sadly one of the paths – the one to the lower viewing point – was lost to a couple of rock falls and is currently closed (possibly permanently, according to the sign). The upper viewpoint, which is very new and posh, was open though so we continued our treck up to the top. Of course it being us we decided not to come back down the way we went up, and taking our selectedly-revised-in-1980 OS map we decided to chart a course around the top and back down the other side.

That didn’t work – it’s possible that those paths were lost to rock falls at some point in the last 40 years, I suppose – but rather than do the sane thing we then decided to track across to Low Ground and then headed across to Whincop before following something that optimistically started out as a path before becoming marshland and then becoming “is this a sheep track”, and then experimenting with being a former path (the stile/climbey-over-wall thing was missing several rungs and looked thoroughly unmaintained and led to an area which was mainly just bracken and willful us going “well downhill is good”), before popping us out by a rather beautiful area that looked like it might once have been a small settlement now hidden beneath a woodland canopy.

Then a rather more intact stile later we found ourselves back on a clearly demarked path. All rather longer than we’d intended, but worth it to enjoy the remarkably good weather and the beautiful scenery.

Having survived our expedition we treated ourselves to a coffee / tea / cake at Brook House Inn before catching the Li’l Ratty back from Dalegarth. Something I think both our feet are grateful for.


I’m still – as always – struggling with the fact that while I adore this place, the scenery is stunning and I just feel so – settled – in this environment, it’s also incredibly painful that the TERFs have made it clear that I cannot come back to live here, at least for the foreseeable future. Maybe Scotland, if they become independent, since the TERFs seem to have not caught on in the same way. But England? It’s simply not going to happen. And I never like having choice taken from me.

Add to that that the Republicans in the US have reportedly advanced a plan for legislation to forcibly detransiton trans adults if they get into power and things get a little angsty in my head.

Anyway, enough of that and back to looking at the pretty views.

Wow, that was a ride

So I decided that it would be nice to check the chickens aren’t hanging out on the ladder, stuck, if the automatic door closes early, which has happened before.

I’d like a second camera that shows a more wideangle view, and frankly, a third camera that is inside the coop. All of which are possible (although the power demands may be…pushing it a bit).

So, I thought, I’ll install a nice fresh OS on my Raspberry Pi 2B which is sat around collecting cruft, and I’ll pop my old USB webcam on it (because the PiCam I got draws too much power which is why this hasn’t happened ’til now). Easy.

Only no.

It’s taken most of my spare time from two days.

First up, the venerable Pi2 doesn’t have on-board WiFi. Easy, I thought. I’d already got a plan for this – I had a USB WiFi dongle. Only…when I added it, it didn’t work. After combining multiple things, and trying a wide variety of configurations (basically you need to configure both the network and wpa_supplicant and then fuck around for ages) eventually it randomly seemed to work.

It kept working through several reboots including a couple of power-cycles so I declared it okay. Then I installed Motion. That went okay. Except that for some reason with this camera, when it first starts if it’s in the boot process or running as a daemon, the image is corrupt. If you stop the service and restart it it’s fine. If you start manually it after booting, it’s fine. But if you start it as a service or within the boot process – it doesn’t work.

After about an hour of trying to work out what was going on or find some fix that would work, I gave up and decided that maybe I should just install motioneye which is what Nikki uses. Unfortunately, when I imaged the SD card…I actually imaged the SD card reader.

I didn’t realize, because I’m a pillock, so then I nuked the card to install MotionEye, which it turns out doesn’t talk to WiFi dongles. Doesn’t even give you a chance to configure a WiFi dongle. Just endlessly reboots.

So then I tried to put the stuff I’d done back on the card – and discovered that lo, I’m an arse. So then I started again this morning (after epically failing to get it working last night). After several hours of failure it randomly started working – and seemed to be working…and then I installed Motion, and it stopped working. Then it stopped detecting the USB WiFi. Then it would detect it but not connect to the network (which is what it was doing before).

After an hour or so of swearing at it I decided that maybe the WiFi dongle was faulty, and off I went to get a new dongle. I did a bunch of other errands, came home, and discovered that no, the WiFi dongle isn’t faulty.

Eventually I gave up and decided to pull apart my Mycroft prototype to yank its Pi3. That has *on board* WiFi.

Yay, I thought. I have a solution – only, yeah, it did work better. Configuring it through the raspi-config did work in the end. Getting Motion up and running was the same – and ended at the same point. It would be corrupt when it started.

Eventually my ‘solution’ to this (if you can call it that) was to add a script which starts motion, stops motion, then starts it again. Yes, it’s very very stupid.

However, it works.

Then I threw it into some food boxes. I have done some pretty ropey prototypes over the years, but this may take the biscuit. Or possibly the hummus and microgreens.

IMG_20220707_164345

But when all’s said and done, it is working.

-g3ssf9

The chickens are, still, refusing to eat food from the feeder though, which is frustrating and concerning.

Eeeking it closer

I’m not going to talk about the US’s hideous slide into fascism because – what am I going to say? I’ve been harping on about it – as have most queer folks for ages and lo, SCOTUS decides to rip up precedent and rewrite the laws for a oligarchic theocracy. Quelle surprise.

We knew the Trump administration had installed a bunch of right wing apparatchiks on the court. The dems did sweet FA to fix it and now we have…what we have. Fuck knows what we do now, but the future isn’t looking terribly rosy for the US long — or even medium term right now.

Anyhow, to finish off from the last post – it turned out that the belt I installed on the record deck was, in fact, too small. Replacing the ~20″ one with the 21.4″ one seems to have cured – or at least massively improved the horrendous wow/flutter, although for some reason my speed sensor doohickey was being incredibly difficult to work with yesterday, so I’m not wholly convinced I’ve got the speed set right.

Getting the belt changed over was about as crap as I was expecting – it is fiddly as all fuck, and requires you to feed the old belt out through kinda looping it through this tiny gap. It has an access plate you can remove to help with getting the belt over the motor, but I can see no possible way of changing the belt through the access plate, so I end up taking the main cover off and partially stripping down the drawer. I get why no one wants to fix these benighted objects!

IMG_20220609_154154

Still, it’s entertainingly fun, and having got it working I’m enjoying the ridiculousness of it. Although connecting it through my cheapie preamp it has a hell of a lot of hum. So I’m gonna need to work on that. The HiFi would be really high-end at various points in time. I guess late 80s? I mean, I’m not sure when the RP-119 was introduced (I should have looked for some date codes while it was in bits), and the DA-1000 CD player is early 80s, but they were still pretty freaking expensive in the mid 80s… So, yeah. Just like our spice drawer would wow a medieval person, if I could travel in time a Hi-Fi buff would be super impressed by the pile of archaic crap I have collected.

Does make me a little sad that I got rid of my laserdisk, and my CED player. Should have kept them… mind, there’s no space for either. In fact, the record whatsit is going to have to undergo a redesign to shuffle these around. We need more space for vinyl (no? really?) and I would think the Hi-Fi stuff may have to live in a narrower shelf up above.

The house progresses. A little bit ago we got a heat pump installed to reduce our gas usage, add cooling, and have a more flexible answer to heating the house when the temperature keeps swinging wildly outside. We’d decided last year that a heat pump was going in, but this is the first job we’ve let someone else do, and I’m super grateful for it, because the weather has suddenly got very warm the last few days (30° c) which had previously made the house very, very warm. And at the moment it’s pretty pleasant in here.

Unfortunately, we hoped to go with an in-ceiling unit which would have been less… offensively plastic lump on the wall, but it turns out they have to be installed flat (who knew?) and we don’t have anywhere flat that it can go. So instead it’s at the end of the dining room.

IMG_20220613_113326

I mean, it’s above eyeheight, and it’s white, so it kinda blends more than it could. But next time? Next time we’re going to think this bit through more.

Of course there’s a next time.

We’ve also crept closer on the bathroom – it’s almost entirely grouted (really annoyingly I missed one groutline that I thought I’d done before where it goes from the floor to the wall. I could have sworn I grouted it, but apparently not. It’s only about a 1.2m long, but… yeah, I’ll have to do that this week.

IMG_20220620_184039

We spent a bit of time yesterday installing the sink onto the wall.

IMG_20220625_185156

The salvage – unused sink that we bought probably 3 years ago goes pretty well in our bathroom and, pleasingly, I managed to locate the blocks of wood I mounted in the wall when we did the framing, so didn’t have to come up with a mounting system for it on plasterboard. In fact, that went pretty well. I still need to plumb it in, which is my least favourite of jobs, but at least it’s just the one bend that I need (a 45° where it comes out of the wall, then it should — should attach to the drain from the sink).

That being in we spent a big chunk of time today trying to find a tap that we liked, and having realised that our medicine cabinet really doesn’t go very well in that bathroom we also spent a chunk of time looking at medicine cabinets. Us being us it took quite a while, but we eventually settled on an Italian design from the 70s (we actually like the 60’s version better, but it is marginally wider than the 70’s one, and the 70’s one was sliiightly cheaper).

The tap ended up, of all places, coming from Ikea.

I also took a brief look at installing the shower. I think I’m going to have to do some gnawing at the tiles to make the connector fit, but I’m thinking I might attack that this week. Then it’s just a final clean, seal, and it can go into service. Although I’d also like to get the trim in around the door, too. That’s a fairly complex job which I’m not… entirely looking forward to. I spent a few minutes sat down with bits of wood, and I now at least think I have a workable plan for how the trim will work.

I’d always known it would be a problem with the floor in the bathroom being significantly higher than the floor everywhere else (thanks to needing the concrete for the shower basin). Again, one of the joys of renovating rather than starting from scratch.

Still, I *think* it’ll work, I just need to grab hold of some motivation to finish it. Although I guess the SCOTUS ruling should be enough motivation, with them making very clear that the right wing already having started villainising and slandering trans folks, attempting to make us social pariahs and outcasts and remove us from public life, and doing so fairly successfully with their base in right wing states, they want to bring that to the whole of the US now. So fucking yay.

Anyhow, perhaps that will be a bit more motivation to get the house finished.

Who’s got two thumbs and (more or less) fixed her double sided record deck?

The B-side record scanning is still… unreliable. It sometimes seem to add its own vibrato to records just for shits and giggles*, but it’s playing records again – which it wasn’t capable of at all when it arrived.

I’m not really sure how it’d been so abused, I mean, I get how the belt turned to goop, but how it ended up with a broken stylus on one of the heads (I mean, it’s inside a box!), how it ended up with the draw position sensor bent out of all recognition (that might have been me disassembling, but I don’t… think so).

And now, just as if I time travelled back to medieval times (assuming I could avoid being burned as a witch straight away), then, if I arrived in the 80s, or early 90s, I’d look bloody flash.

IMG_20220609_154154

I mean, the CD player was nearly a grand new (I got it for under a ton). And these dual sided record decks were produced at the very end of the first life of record decks as a common hifi appliance. They were trying to compete with the first run of CD players, and yeah, were surprisingly good…

I mean, they’re no high end thing, but the sound output is reasonable, and it’s great for when I’m doing the dishes or whathaveyou. It pleases me greatly that the only thing that was bought functional in that pile was the amplifier. Everything else has been repaired by me or my lovely friend John.

Anyhow, this post was really useful in getting it going, although mine interestingly has the STY-144/STY-145 stylus, not the 133 or the 147 suggested elsewhere.

In other news, I have had a bit of a day – with 3 hours spent at Les Schwab for them to do a tyre swap (I have never missed Bristol’s little indie tyre place I used to use quite so much). It kinda blew the rest of my day’s plans out of the water.

But hey, I finally got that bit of adulting done. And I’ve ordered the belt I just discovered I should get.

* Apparently the belt might be the wrong size, the replacement commonly sold for it is apparently 20″ instead of 21.4″, and puts too much drag on the platter. So I get to take it apart again! And check the speed again!