My day off… and basic septic plumbing

If you can identify the subject of the photo then you can probably appreciate the unpleasant job I got to spend my day off dealing with.

Replacement pump is now installed and working along with an alarm which will hopefully help me head off any future problems before I have standing water in the basement. Smelly water at that.



I wrote awhile ago about fixing my dryer.  I have to admit that I felt pretty good about that and when my washer quit spinning, I figured “no problem.  I’ll have this one licked by sundown.”

I tore the machine apart and determined what the problem was: a broken plastic part that coupled the motor and the transmission.  One trip to Sears and twelve bucks later it was back in business, spinning and agitating away.

One thing I did notice after replacing that part was a loud squeal and the occasional smell of burnt electrical wiring.  Being the extremely capable handyman that I am, I figured that was bad.

Tore it apart again and found out the motor was toast, and had now seized up completely.

I admitted defeat, and after I was sure the washer had heard the lamentation of the women, I went back to Sears and bought a new one.  The old one was recycled out of respect for its years of service to two families.

I still haven’t gotten that frivolous thing I talked about last time.  Barnacles.

going to sears isn’t always fun

A loud squealing and rattling sound from the laundry room on Friday changed my weekend. Instead of hanging out with the kids and working on cleaning out the garage in anticipation of spring, I got to learn all sorts of things about our dryer.

Turns out that it’s a relatively simple machine and that there is one primary threat to it: lint. Specifically too much lint where you would expect to find it, or lint in places where the design of the machine should prevent it from getting to. I really don’t know how old the dryer is, but it had an impressive amount of lint in those areas.

So, a good rule of thumb is to first fix that which is cheapest among the choices you have. I did. That cheapest choice was to replace the belt and support bearings for the drum.

One 40-mile round trip and $30.49 later I began the two-hour process of disassembly, cleaning, replacing and reassembly. Turned it on. Worked like a charm.


Until later that evening when I tried out a load of towels and it crapped out again. Now to the expensive fix.

Second 40-mile round trip and $106.64 later I redid that whole process, now adding the removal and replacement of the motor. Turned it on. Worked like a charm.

Success! Part two! For real this time…

Next trip to Sears I’m buying something really expensive and only moderately useful to make up for this.


I think posts here are going to be fewer even than they have over the last few months. I’m now going to school full time, trying to finish my bachelor’s degree. Since I am no longer in my 20’s, I have two kids and I still work a fulltime+ job, time is of the essence.

Nothing personal. Just gotta get it done.

in the dark

Justified or not, I am often dismayed at the frequency of power outages in my neighborhood. We are currently experiencing the second outage within the last two weeks I believe. Not that the frequency is the issue, it’s more the timing.

These last two outages have occurred when I was just finishing something and getting ready to go to sleep. Since I work nights, that means on my days off I usually hit the sack around 3 or 4 in the morning. With no power, there’s no white noise in the bedroom. This makes it difficult or impossible for my wife to sleep which then makes it difficult or impossible for me to sleep. I can sleep through just about anything once I’m out, but if my wife isn’t already asleep that will never happen.

So, then I get to sit down and write something while I wait for Xcel Energy to fix the problem. A UPS for my cable modem and router help with that. The crews who do the repairs are always friendly and efficient (yes, I have had several chances to talk with them over the years. I’m awake at night…) but I am concerned that the power grid for the area might not be keeping up with our growth.

There are two electrical substations in Northfield. One of them is so old and outdated that I understand Xcel‘s crews are uncomfortable working on it. Perhaps these should be looked at more carefully as part of the infrastructure that is discussed with development. We hear all kinds of things about streets and sewers but little about utilities. If they are not already part of the discussion, then perhaps we should make sure Xcel and the other utilities are able to plan for and keep up with growth in the area.

built Ford tough

I’m selling my truck. I like my truck. I like hauling stuff in it, both for work and at home. It’s been great the year and a half that I’ve owned it, no problems and needing nothing more than routine oil changes.

I never saw myself as driving a truck until we bought our house. After a short period of time, it became obvious that we would need something larger than our two economy sedans in order to carry out the needed maintenance and improvements in the house. We came across a good deal on the truck simply by driving around a lot. We initially wanted to get something smaller, but this one turned out great.

However, my wife has pointed out that the truck has slowly become less practical than it originally was. We are beginning to have less need to haul stuff, and more need to haul people and stuff together. So in order to meet this need, my wife has we have decided to sell or trade-in the truck on a minivan. Yes, a minivan.

Now I can comment on how I never pictured myself driving a minivan. Maybe later.

If you are interested in the truck, you can check it out here.