Thursday, March 1, 2018

Over My Head

I expect to lose power and all links to the outside world soon behind 19 miles of snow piled fifteen feet high. The snow is unrelenting and I am not equipped to battle the merciless elements. I've lost the war but my efforts were honest. A huge 10 wheel state plow went off the road, twice, sealing my doom. If it was defeated by the conditions then what chance does El Conquistador have? none.

I'm re-reading the Shakleton book about his Antarctic quest on The Endurance so I'm well aware that things can get worse. That crew was 500 miles from the nearest whaling station, adrift where no one would find them, their ship crushed between ice floes, hunted by killer whales and sea leopards, sleeping under a canvas sail, eating seal blubber in -24f temps. Survival was no accident.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Scenes From Oggy's Life

I was working next to a Pump Jack in South Texas....

The Pump Jack was operating, so the 440v motor was spinning like a banshee on crack cocaine. The two counterweights were spinning inches from my face and the horse head vacillated overhead. Metallic creaking came from most of the joints as well as as constant sliding sound from the polished rod as it penetrated the tubing. A hot wind blew across the prairie into my face. It felt like a hair dryer but my face was so wet with sweat that any wind gave me some relief.

I was in the 'death zone' because someone needed to feed the metal conduit down the base from one end to the other. Jose, the Master Electrician, was handing me the 10' length of conduit and I was carefully reaching out for it, keeping one eye on the heavy counterweights and one eye on the conduit. Jose was watching too because the counterweight would land on his head if he wasn't careful. We made the exchange and both exhaled as I lay it in place and bolted it down. I waited for the counterweights to pass and then scrambled on my belly over the light brown dirt, under the pipe guard rail, and out of reach of the machinery.

I looked around at the dry prairie and desolate fields of sand. Far off in the distance a buzzard floated over a mesquite tree.

"Well," I said sarcastically, "that was worth risking our lives to do."

Jose nodded with Native American stoicism. When he spoke, and he spoke infrequently while sober, he spoke like a stereotypical wise Indian one might find in a Hollywood Western. His family came from Chihuahua. His family lived in the Valley of Laredo and now traveled far north for work, returning to the valley only twice a year. 

Jose was looking at the empty patch of dirt where our conduit was heading. He had already moved on from the brief drama of staging that last length of conduit. Jose was examining the next step of the project. Jose said nothing. The machinery chugged slowly in endless routine.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


The crew call snow 'white mud' and this is why. A blizzard is charming for about ten seconds and then it becomes no different than a mud slide. Oh yeah, I get to go dig a building out from under a ton of mud! Awesome! Can I go back to Nicaragua now?

Honda snowblower

I unearthed this blue heap of junk

bobcat snow blower on a long road to nowhere

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Worst That Could Happen

I had a burst of creativity that was directly related to my disco shirt and flare jeans. I wrote an explanation for this, and it was completely justified in my opinion, but I think the explanation was a distraction. So I will let this exist without explanation for now.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Glamorous Life

Sure, level a urinal before hanging the drywall. Why not?

What can I say? I'm a plumber who studies toilets and urinals. It's not glamorous and doesn't make for great essays. I'm interested in this trade work because it's relevant to my future plans to build my own estate. Let me say that plumbers are dealing with many different details at once and I would recommend a long discussion about strategy with illustrated maps before starting. Water supply pressure/volume is important so don't go off and buy some fancy urinal that requires 1'' supply line when your house has 1/2'' supply line. The volume will be off and the flush-o-meter will struggle. Speaking of flush-o-meters, they need to match the pipe size of the spud on your fixture. Oh, yes. If the spud is 3/4'' such as on this top spud urinal, then go ahead and plan for a 3/4'' flush-o-meter. And that means, yes, the supply pex should be 3/4'' to supply the right volume. Or you can plumb the wall with 1/2'' pex, such as Oggy has done in the photo, and then realize the spud and sweat fitting are 3/4'' and then reduce the connections from 3/4'' to 1/2'', thus reducing the volume of the water and basically defeat decades of engineering by urinal manufacturing companies with your ignorance. Sure, they make $4 adapters to reduce a fitting to the size you have plumbed into the wall but I repeat that the volume of the water is extremely important and your 1/2'' pex will not magically carry the volume required to run a 1+1/4'' high volume toilet simply because you bought a $4 1/2'' ---> 1+1/4'' adapter or rigged up some ridiculous combination of adapters. No. There will be lots of goodies left over after each flush.

I told you this was not glamorous. It's not like there is one type of urinal and one type of flush-o-meter for sale in the world. There are hundreds of models of flush-o-meters. And there are hundreds of urinals. It's like randomly buying a nut and a bolt and hoping they fit one another. They likely will not fit, but you can pat yourself on the back that at least you bought a nut and a bolt that will fit another bolt and another nut. 

Flush-o-meters have all kinds of spud connection sizes and urinals have top spuds and rear spuds of all different sizes and there are jet wash urinals and washout urinals and low flow urinals and there are different combinations of spud sizes and sensor urinals and there are tankless toilets and back spud toilets where the plumbing is all in the wall and the size of the spud of the toilet determines the size of the flush-o-meter which determines the size of the pex or copper which determines the size of your water supply to the bathroom. 

That's the proper way to map this out, from the fixture itself back to the main water supply. If something doesn't add up then you have to go back to the fixture and start over, preferably before you bought anything. But if you start from the water supply and buy materials and work in the direction of the fixture then I think you will reach the fixture with 1/2'' pex and realize there is no such fixture that accepts 1/2'' pex unless it is a sink or a tanked toilet. But you already bought a 1'' spud tankless high volume toilet and a washout urinal with a 3/4'' spud. Ooops. Neither of those $400 fixtures will work. It goes on and on, hundreds of hours of Oggy trying to learn the plumbing trade by trial and error on a federal paycheck*. I guess someone has to milk that $200,000,000,000 budget for some gas money. 

They talked me into the 'wolverine' beard.

*Don't use anything I write as a guide to move forward with a plumbing project. I know only enough to get into trouble. The best generic advice I can give is to find someone to explain it and map it all out for you before buying anything. The variations and combinations for plumbing are seriously infinite.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.