Saturday, August 16, 2014

Washing machine unravelings...

Washing machine unravelings...  Our new washer is unlike any washing machine I've ever owned before.  It's a top loader with a glass door on top, so you can actually watch it working (it even has a light!).  It's very easy to use, especially as it has a built-in tank to hold detergent.  Normally you just throw clothes in and press “Start”; it does the rest.

When you look inside, the first thing you'll notice is that there is no “agitator” (the finned tower in the center).  Every other washer I've ever used had an agitator.  When you watch it work, the next thing you'll notice is that it doesn't fill up the tank with enough water to cover the clothes.  No agitator and not much water.  How the heck does the thing get clothes clean?

I confess to having watched several complete cycles (generally about an hour long) through the glass top, just so I could figure this out.  It had me sore puzzled.

While it doesn't have a standard agitator, it does have a round plate on the bottom of the tank that it can wiggle back and forth (clockwise and counter-clockwise).  That plate has rounded, gentle ridges and bumps on it.  And the tank itself can be wiggled back and forth in the same manner, independently of the agitator plate (my name for it).  Furthermore, the entire tank is relatively free to bobble in any direction.

When you start a load up, the washer appears to sense the weight of the clothing.  Then it uses that weight to judge how much water to use.  Once the wash cycle starts, some complicated motions begin – the agitator plate wiggles, with variable speeds and amounts of rotation.  The tank wiggles, also with variable speeds and amounts of rotation.  The result: no matter how you piled in the clothes, they all end up separated and rolled up into little balls at the bottom of the tank.  I have no idea how they came up with this, but it's actually kind of amazing to watch.  I've even deliberately interleaved the legs of pants, run a pant leg through a sleeve, etc.  It doesn't matter.  Each piece of clothing ends up as a separate ball of cloth on the bottom.

Once the load has been reduced to wet balls of cloth, the action starts to make more sense.  The motion of the agitator plate and the tank churn the clothes through the water on the bottom quite effectively.  All the while, water is being recirculated by a pump and poured over top of the clothes being washed.

The rinse works basically the same way, but with clean water, of course.  When the spinning starts, the self-balancing tank feature kicks in.

Awesome, this modern technology...

Seen in the wild...

Seen in the wild...  In the Logan, Utah Home Depot parking lot...

Business names that are a play on words seem to be a bit of a thing here.  It's a rare day when I don't see at least one of these.

For my readers who aren't all that familiar with the Mormon church: it's common to address Mormon men using “Brother” as an honorific, together with their last name.  So, for example, Joe Nelson might be addressed as “Brother Nelson”.

So I'd be willing to bet you that this lawn service was staffed by a group of Mormon men :)

From junk, beauty...

From junk, beauty...  By sculptor John Lopez, of South Dakota.  More photos of his sculpture here...

This is the kind of problem that creates oppressive regulatory regimes...

This is the kind of problem that creates oppressive regulatory regimes...  Whenever someone's freely made choice offends someone else's sense of what's right (whether moral, religious, or cultural doesn't matter), you'll hear cries for government regulation – which is really just a euphemism for controlling behavior by force.  That's where our laws on drugs, prostitution, and much more come from.

Libertarians generally claim to support the notion of everyone having the freedom to make whatever choices in life that they want to, so long as they don't harm anyone else in the process.  While I have significant disagreements with the Libertarian Party (especially in the realm of foreign policy), on this notion I am largely in agreement with them. 

In an article in The Week, Damon Linker (a self-identified libertarian) constructs a scenario that he admits tests the limits of his political philosophy.  Read it.  Then think about whether the libertarian ideal of free choice really works for you.

I don't have any children, but nonetheless I can easily empathize with the problem posed by Linker's scenario.  I can't be certain of this, but I think that if I did have a daughter, I'd still support her having the freedom to make such a choice.

The problem, of course, with government regulation of such matters is two-fold: first, you don't know who (or with what rules) the regulations will be made and enforced – or how well they will comport with your own sense of what's right.  Second, once there is a rule, there will be more – without end, as we can observe right now in our grotesquely over-regulated society...

This makes me very sad...

This makes me very sad ... not least because I have no idea what can be done about it.  It also makes me think that one of the central lessons of WWII has already been forgotten, a mere 80 years later...

Hi, there, olinguito!

Hi, there, olinguito!  Crowdsourcing information on this newly discovered species...

750,000 begonias...

750,000 begonias...  Holy carpet of blossoms, Batman!

Say what?

Say what?  A county district attorney is convicted of drunk driving, and serves time in jail.  The popular, long-serving governor of the state demands that she resign.  The governor threatened to veto future funding for the district attorney's office if she didn't step down – and after she still didn't resign, the governor did veto the district attorney's funding.

Told that way, I'm supportive of the governor: if you have a bad apple employee, you need to fire him or her.  He didn't have the authority to fire her, but he did have the authority to withhold funding for her office.

Or so he thought.

Governor Rick Perry has been indicted for abuse of power.  The district attorney (Rosemary Lehmberg) served her sentence and is still the Travis County district attorney.  I'm sure the fact that Perry is a conservative Republican and that Lehmberg is a progressive Democrat has nothing whatsoever to do with it.  Nah, it couldn't.

I am surprised, though, that the Democrats would really want to defend a drunk driving district attorney.  Her behavior when arrested was not exactly commendable.  Her behavior after conviction was even less so.  Those Texas progressives (now there's two words that don't seem compatible!) must really, really hate Governor Perry.

Perry is not my idea of a hero.  There are many areas of disagreement between he and I.  But I do like the way he tried to deal with this problem employee.  It doesn't seem right, or American, and most especially not Texan, for him to be punished for this.  In the days of yore, the Governor would have whipped out a pearl-handled six-shooter and dealt out some Texas justice.  Cutting off the district attorney's funding sounds like a suitably civilized version of that to me...

Update: Hot Air is all over this, with video of the district attorney's DUI stop and booking.

Estonia, please accept my apologies...

Estonia, please accept my apologies...  I'm so very sorry that Obama will visit you soon!

If this trial ever goes ahead, global warming is toast...

If this trial ever goes ahead, global warming is toast...  Delingpole, on Mann v. Steyn.  Delicious!

Drinking is healthy...

Drinking is healthy...  This article does a nice job of summarizing, in lay terms, the science results I've been reading about for several years.  The one-line summary: drinking alcohol in moderate amounts is good for you, significantly reducing heart disease and the likelihood of dementia, and likely conferring other health benefits as well.

This is another one of those interesting conflicts between science and progressive dogma.  Depending on whose poll you want to believe, something like 60% to 80% of all scientists (and higher percentages of biologists or other medical-related fields) self-identify as “progressive” or “liberal”.  For years progressive dogma has said that regular drinking is harmful.  Recent science says the opposite.  Time to break out the popcorn.

Meanwhile, I'll continue my moderate wine consumption.  My Mormon neighbors may disapprove, but I may outlive them :)

A bathroom emerges...

A bathroom emerges...  One of the remodeling projects in our new home in Paradise, Utah is the master bathroom.  The house originally had a master bathroom with two doors (one onto a hallway, the other into the master bedroom), an elephant-scale bathtub with jets, a gecko-sized shower, and a vanity about the right height for a hamster.  We knew we had to change all that :)

We wanted a bathroom that we'd really enjoy having.

Back in April we located a contractor who we liked, a fellow named Lane Straatman and his sidekick Pasquale.  We designed the floor plan we wanted, and the Lane and Pasquale team led the project.  Our floor plan called for a large shower (5' 6" square) with a walk-in ell entrance, one door, no tub, and relocation of the vanity and toilet.  Quite a few contractors – all selected and known by Lane – were involved: for painting, tile installation, electrical work, plumbing, cabinetry, granite top, mirrors, and vent installation.

It's not quite all finished yet, but it's getting very, very close.  I've started using the shower, as it is complete.  Next week I'll be receiving an adapter kit to allow the conventional drains I bought to be used in our sinks, which have no overflow.  Also next week the mirrors will be installed.  I need to install some wall-mounted things (towel racks, toilet paper dispenser, shelves, etc.).

And then it will be done.

Debbie and I spent a lot of time designing that shower.  We both love our showers, but especially me – most days I'm in there twice.  We had several objectives in the design: roomy, not slippery, walk-in, well-lit, lots of water, temperature controlled, and attractive.  Debbie picked the tile, granite, and sinks.  I found the plumbing fixtures, lighting, toilet, and humidity-activated quiet fan.  A small army of craftsmen built all the hard stuff.  The result: I think we met every one of those goals, based on my “shower tests” :)

Here are some photos of the not-quite-finished bathroom.  It's a challenge to photograph this small room, but I tried:

6" wall shower heads
Temperature and flow controls
12" ceiling "rain" shower head
Shower, from entrance
Right-hand vanity sink
Vanity, from bathroom door