The American Political System is Badly Broken

The 2017 election in the US resulted in the most unqualified president to ever occupy the White House. In a nation of 330 million people we had no real choice for president. The same can be said of most races.

The Democrats and Republicans are busy fighting and vilifying one another in a winner take all system and the American people are left without representatives that represent them.

There has to be a better system and many nations seem to have governments that better represent their people.

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Leaky Pipes Fixed

I noticed water in the mixing bowls we store under the kitchen sink. I could have simply tightened up the pipes as I have done many times with this sink over the years. I decided to fix it properly this time.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a before picture, but the completed setup is a more streamlined setup than the old one.

The project took three trips to the store including a trip to return unused parts, most of the day, and $17.15. It took so long because I was recovering from the flu and was not thinking well.

Disconnecting the garbage disposal and reconnecting it was the only risky part of the job. The disposal fell on my hand twice but didn’t injure me. After all of this loosening and retightening I found that the disposal could be rotated without even loosening it up thus allowing me to better align the pipe.

Tools used:

  • Large pair of pliers (For tightening the garbage disposal retaining ring the last inch or so)
  • Screwdriver (For loosening the garbage disposal)
  • PVC pipe trimmer
  • Paper towels
  • Towels
  • A big mixing bowl to catch the water

If you ever wonder what the inside of a drain pipe looks like here is one that I removed.

TV Wars

It was dinner time and I had asked the children for the fifth time to come to the table. They were deep into saving the civilized virtual world on the Play Station and would be done “in a minute” 20 minutes ago.

I needed a way to control the games without pulling the power to the game system which would cause problems for the software of the system. I also needed a way that the children could not easily go around my limits and that I would not have to enter the room or get into an argument with them.

After much thought on the matter a solution came to me.

Materials:

  • A small plastic ammunition box
  • A small padlock
  • Drill bits and a cordless drill
  • An Eco plug
  • A three prong power strip

I used a large drill bit to drill a hole in one side of the box and a smaller bit to drill two connected holes in the other side. It would have been best to have secured the box solidly before drilling the large hole as it flailed around wildly despite my effort to hold it but I got the hole drilled without injury.

An extension cord goes in one side and the power cord to the TV goes out the other side.

The children all received a stern warning that any tampering with the box would result is all electronic entertainment leaving the house.

The system has been in place for about a week and has produced favorable results.

There can be no protest that I am taking their electronics as I am only denying them the electricity that I pay for. The PS 4 and the Wii U still work just fine, there is just no power to the TV.

Installing a New Electrical Outlet

Project: Replace the old worn out receptacle in the bathroom with a new CFGI outlet.

Whatever we plugged into the outlet didn’t stay in the outlet and that is both annoying and dangerous. This project had been nagging at me every time I entered the bathroom and I finally had enough. I figured it would take about an hour to do. It took much longer than an hour but it is finally done.

Tools used:

  • Reciprocating saw
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Battery operated drill/screwdriver set to low torque
  • Non-contact voltage tester
  • Wire cutter and stripper

Supplies used

  • GFCI Receptacle
  • Electrical tape
  • Plastic electrical box

I didn’t track exactly how long it took to complete the project but it was several hours due to two trips to the store, having to widen the hole in the wall and the fact that I am not a professional in these things.

I tested the tester to be sure it worked, turned off the power at the breaker, then tested the wires to be sure there was no power to them. I got seriously shocked a few years ago and barely escaped electrocution when I did something really dumb. I have no desire to repeat that experience or to give account to God for my time just yet.

I went to the store and picked up a good quality CFGI receptacle that was rated for a wet environment.

Once I was certain there was no power to the outlet I removed it from the wall and cut the wires. There was no electrical box covering the outlet so I had to go back to the store to get one.

The black wire is supposed to be the hot wire. Based on what I have seen while installing other outlets in the house I figured that this one might be wired wrong so I tested it. Sure enough, the white wire was the hot wire. The ground wire was also connected to the outlet when there is no ground on this old electrical system. That is dangerous as you could end up being the ground. I verified that the ground was not grounded before I removed the old outlet by using a receptacle tester. The tested showed an open ground.

This kind of sloppiness is one reason I like to do all of the work I can myself. Unprofessionalism in home construction and remodeling is rampant. From my experience, it is more the norm than the exception. Doing repairs and remodeling myself I can use higher quality parts and know it is done correctly.

I put a piece of tape on the hot wire and labeled it accordingly. Yes, black tape is what I should have used but I didn’t have any black electrical tape at the time. I bent the ground wire back and thoroughly taped it to the insulated wire well away from the other two exposed wires. I would have cut it off but plan to rewire the entire house as soon as I can get to the project.

The back of the receptacle has the spots where the wires are supposed to go clearly labeled. There is also a handy label on the back that shows how much to strip the wire. Look on other websites as to what these mean. This site is not about giving advice on electrical wiring as I am not a professional.

The most time-consuming part of the job was cutting the hole wider to fit the box. The hole was about 1/4 inch too narrow. Despite being as careful as I could I knocked some of the plaster off of the wall. I’ll make a patch for it at a future date.

I started to use the holes in the back of the receptacle to connect the wires instead of the screws but one of the wires fell out so I used the more secure screws.

Once the wires were attached it was simply a matter of carefully stuffing the wires and the receptacle into the box, screwing everything down and testing the results.

That is one more thing checked off the list and one more piece of the ancient wiring that is updated and a little safer.

Order in the Car

Here are some ways we found for taming the trash, containing the sniffles, and preparing for the unexpected in the car.

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A tissue box attached to the back of the driver’s seat headrest. No more searching for a tissue!

The box is attached using two reusable cable ties

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I bought these at Walmart
Additional Kleenex are stored in this coffee cup
A shopping bag looped on the seat back makes a handy trash bag
Another trash bag and some hand sanitizer is at the ready for the front seat passenger
With a trash bag within easy reach of all passengers, there is no excuse for trash anywhere else.
The spare grocery bags are in the white container to the left. Our car has places to attach grocery bags to keep stuff in place. The red thing is an emergency power supply to jump-start a car if needed.

 

The floor bins where the Stow n’ Go seats go make great storage areas for seldom used but important items

 

Being Smarter with my Smartphone

Since it is apparent that a smartphone will be a part of my life I now must make sure that it adds positively to my enjoyment of life and does not distract from it. The main problem with my smartphone is games. I only play a few minutes here and there but the few minutes occupies space that far more important items could be occupying. The games also tend to keep me awake longer at night. I deleted all games off of the phone last night. Let’s see how this goes.

Life With a Smartphone

A few days after starting the job in May I reactivated my smartphone. The trigger was trying to fill out the HR forms for the new job. I spent at least 1/2 hour on the phone with my wife trying to walk her through where to find the information on my computer that I could have accessed in minutes on my phone. When I was at home I could access information on my computer but now that I once again spend so much time away from home I need access to the information in the cloud.

The trick now is to gain the benefits of the smartphone while minimizing the downsides of it.