Bathroom Sink Woes

Under the heading of “live and learn.”

Some time back the drain in one of the bathroom sinks broke.  It functioned in a way that was different from what I’d seen before.  Instead of a rod and lever to control the pop-up valve there was this cable assembly in which the core rotated to actuate the plug.  The fitting where the cable attached to the drain broke off.  This meant that the fix was to replace the entire thing–faucet and drain both.

So, I begin by removing the trap so I can get the drain.  That comes out nicely.  Then I begin working on the faucet.

The first problem was that the entire assembly was old, probably installed when the house was built.  That meant that between lime buildup and corrosion everything was essentially fused solid.  It took a great deal of hammering, grabbing with channel-lok pliers and a whole lot of swearing I finally got the faucet off.

Second problem, a minor one but still an annoyance.  The hot water shutoff valve, even when I cranked it down as tightly closed as I could still dripped.  I put a cup under it to catch the drip but it was fast enough I had to dump it frequently.  And when I had to dump it the water continued to drip.

Replaced the drain first, then reinstalled the trap.  Finally (yeah, right) I put the new faucet in place.  Get the hoses installed and…

Problem number three.  Cold water leaks, badly, from the connection between supply hose and faucet.  So I shut things down again, and remove the faucet and hose.

Oh.  The seal is missing.  So mistake one was in reusing the old hoses.  And not noticing (because I didn’t know to look for it–this was my first time doing this) that the seal was missing.

Problem 4, however, was that when I was trying to tighten down the connection to stop the leak (not knowing the problem was a missing seal) instead of tightening it, I had twisted the short copper line that was part of the faucet assembly.  No, there was no untwisting that without breaking it.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to go out and get a replacement.  I leave the hot water supply hose connected to the shutoff valve and fed up to drip into the sink.  At least I wouldn’t get a puddle overnight.

Next morning, shopping for parts.  I get a duplicate of the same faucet (so I can use the drain I’d already installed) and I get a pair of replacement supply lines.

I fasten the supply lines to the faucet assembly outside the sink.  This way I can use one wrench on the fitting on the copper tube side, and another on the supply hose so I can tighten then without twisting and damaging the copper tube.    I’m able to feed the hoses through the holes in the sink.

Fastening the hoses to the shutoff valves was more difficult this time–getting them lined up against the stiffness of the hoses until the threads engaged was a bit of a challenge but, with a little patience–and more swearing–I got them started and a wrench completed the job.

The next step was to wipe up the spilled water and leave it for a while to see if there was any more leakage.  I also closed the plug and filled the After about an hour, everything was still dry under the sink and although the water level had dropped, there was still some remaining.  So, the plug doesn’t provide a perfect seal, but well enough for most usage.

And done.


Home Defense Firearms: A Blast from the Past

When it comes to home defense, a strong argument can be made that the best, the absolute best, weapon for defense against a home invasion is a compact semi-automatic rifle with certain, particular features.

Despite what Hollywood would have you believe, criminals often continue to function after being shot, often after being shot several times. “The dead man’s ten seconds” is a phenomenon well and long known (the phrase comes from the Civil War). The criminal may be effectively dead from the first shot, but they still have the ability to do a great deal of harm before they’re stopped. Thus, it may take multiple shots to stop them. Maybe they’ll spend their entire “dead man’s ten seconds” staring down at the hole in their chest.  Maybe it’s easy for you to bet other people’s lives that that’s how it will go down but maybe instead they’ll use that ten seconds to hurt or kill the homeowner unless distracted by, oh, other holes being put in their body from repeat shots until they do stop.

We have repeated reports of people in military theaters shooting an individual multiple times and having them continue to fight.

And that’s not even counting that robberies are often committed by more than one person. Again, local news reports suggest that the majority of home invasions involve multiple attackers.

Now, maybe in the “average” it’s over after only a couple of shots. But one can drown in a stream that “averages” 6 inches deep if one happens to step in a hole that’s 8′ deep (the rest of the stream only being 4″ or so, so the “average” comes to 6″). But multiple attackers requiring multiple shots each to put down is one of the scenarios a “civilian” may face, and this without a partner, without backup on call, with just what they can grab ready to hand.

In high stress and fear situations human beings have certain common issues. One is that fine motor skills go to hell. Simply working the action of a rifle or handgun can become a thing of fumbling when one is in fear for ones life (a necessary condition of use of lethal force in all jurisdictions in the US). Much better a simple action of “aim, pull trigger, aim, pull trigger”. Thus, semi-automatic. (Police and civilian firearms trainer and recognized expert witness on firearms matters discusses the effects of fear on ones shooting ability in his book Stressfire among others.)

When an attack comes, you can’t be sure that everyone in your household is all together. You may, for example, have to go get the kids. This doesn’t involve hunting the “bad guys.” I don’t recommend that at all. Get your family together and defend them if the bad guys come to you, but “get your family together” may require some moving around. Now, when you’re moving around, you may have to do things like open doors or work light switches. Or maybe (it’s dark, say, and this occurred after everyone was in bed) you need one hand free to hold a flashlight. Maybe you have a light mounted on your rifle but, well, you’re looking for your kids. It would be good to have a light you can shine on things without pointing your gun at them, don’t you think? (First rule of safe gun handling is treat any gun with the respect due a loaded gun but the second rule is “never point a gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.” What that means regarding using a light mounted on your firearm to look for family members is left as an exercise for the student.) A “pistol grip” simply makes it easier to handle and keep control of the rifle in such circumstances. Also, a more “compact” design is easier to maneuver down hallways, through doors, and the like.

The attack happens at night? When you fire the muzzle flash blooms in front of you, temporarily blinding you. Who knows what can happen in the couple of seconds it takes your eyesight to recover? A flash suppressor/hider doesn’t actually suppress or hide the flash. It diverts it to the side where it interferes less with your vision allowing you to keep eyes on target allowing you to assess whether the attacker had been stopped or if you need to keep shooting, and if you do need to keep shooting you can aim rather than fire blindly (literally) and trust to luck.

A rifle is easier to aim accurately than any handgun. A centerfire rifle has more stopping power than any handgun.

Now, maybe you’re not the one available to grab the rifle.  Maybe it’s your wife (or husband if you’re a woman reading this–or whatever if you’re in a non-traditional relationship.  I won’t judge) who’s smaller than you (or larger).  Or maybe you sometimes use the rifle out in the cold while wearing heavy, thick clothing and sometimes when its warmer so you don’t have so much heavy clothes on.  A stock that can be adjusted for length helps size the rifle for easy, comfortable, accurate shooting.

Now note what I’ve just described: a compact rifle with a pistol grip, “large” capacity magazine (actually “standard” capacity since that’s what these rifles are designed for), flash hider, adjustable stock, and possibly a rail to which a light can be attached. While there’s no “shoulder thing that goes up” (Carolyn McCarthy can never be sufficiently mocked for that) what I’ve just described is an “assault weapon” per the media and folk like the Brady Campaign. (Not an “assault rifle” as defined by the military since that definition calls for fully automatic capability.)

It also happens to describe the best tool for defending your family against one of the between 4 and 40 thousand home invasions that occur every year.

How many of those 4 to 40 thousand families, many with children, are you willing to sacrifice?

Alternate History Speculation

I have been branching out from my earlier study of economics with a study of the early history of the United States, although from a biographical perspective.  I have been listening to, via audiobook, biographies of various Founding Fathers.  I started with John Adams, then Sam Adams, Patrick Henry, and now James Monroe.  The sequence has been perhaps a little bit quirky, partly because biographies of some of the individuals I wanted to learn more about were not available on Audible (RIchard Henry Lee for one).  Mainly, it’s just been whoever struck my fancy at the time.

The biography of Monroe that I’ve been listening to on Audible is proving quite interesting. One of the things I’ve noticed, particularly after listening to one on Patrick Henry is that it would seem that one reason the anti-Federalists believed that without an explicit Bill of Rights the government would assume powers not granted to it by the Constitution is that’s what they not only would, but did do. Both Henry and Monroe assumed powers as Governor of Virginia that they explicitly did not have (the position being mostly ceremonial anyway).

I was also puzzled, in the Monroe biography, by John Adams’ response to Monroe about Monroe’s diplomatic mission to France. It didn’t seem to fit the impression of Adams’ character that I got from his biography. On reflection, this was when Adams was catching heat from all sides–backstabbing from the Federalists (damn you, Hamilton) and vicious attacks from the Democratic-Republicans. I suspect Monroe just caught the fallout from that. OTOH, maybe it’s my estimation of Adams’ character that’s incorrect. After all, each of these books I’ve been listening to has been taking a very “partisan” view in favor of their particular subject individual–which is perhaps better than a “muckrake” but still bias is bias. At this point, it’s hard to tell where the truth lies. Suffice to say that one could recognize them as good men of their time, even if flawed.

But let me put on my writer hat for a moment.  Here’s an alternate History speculation: At one point, after a very heated exchange of words, James Monroe and Alexander Hamilton very nearly come to open violence, a duel.  Aaron Burr, acting as Monroe’s second, manages to make sufficient peace between the two to head off the duel but what if…:

Aaron Burr fails to prevent the duel between Monroe and Hamilton. Hamilton killed years early. (Yay!  You may come to the conclusion that I have little love for Alexander Hamilton.  You may be right.)

Result: Adams easily wins a second term. Federalists remain a significant power in both the House and Senate. Does Jefferson get the Presidency after Adams, just delayed four years?

And then what?