Caveat: Unpumped

Early this morning, it seems, our water pump failed. This is the water pump that supplies the house with water pressure from the cistern, which catches rainwater from the hillside stream.

It’s not clear how or why it failed. It simply seems to have stopped being able to turn – the electric motor is only able to produce a kind of whining sounds as it attempts to spin its internal moving parts. Perhaps the motor itself is “frozen up” (i.e. not from cold – the temperatures are above freezing at the moment – but unable to move), perhaps there was some mechanical problem in the pump mechanism.

Regardless, this is a big issue.

Not as big as it could be, though. Firstly, Arthur has had, on hand, a “spare” pump.

So we spent the day first trying to diagnose the old pump’s problems, and subsequently trying to switch in the new pump. Both tasks proved frustrating.

The problem with the old pump is not clear. We were unable to even fully disassemble it. The pump housing is “stuck” to the motor, in some way we can’t figure out.

The new pump has its input and output holes positioned differently than on the old pump, which has the consequence that the pipe connections leading to it in the cistern shed need to be slightly rearranged. We ended up driving to town to the hardware store and getting some pieces, but even then, we weren’t really well-prepared for what we might need, and so we ended up improvising a bit to get all the pipes connected to the new pump. And then, the new pump was leaking. A lot. And it was getting dark.

Personally, taking the side of optimism, I think the problem is that we didn’t hook up our improvised pipe connections tightly enough, and we need take the new pump out, re-improvise, and reattach things more securely.

Arthur, for his part, taking the side of pessimism (of course), believes the pump housing on the new pump is cracked.

I’m going to try tackling my solution this morning. If that fails, and Arthur’s view prevails, we’re going to need a new pump. Updates will be forthcoming.

Here is the old pump, already removed from the cistern shed and waiting on the workbench in the shop for us to take on the challenge of disassembling it – which we have so far failed at.


Here is the new pump, already in place but not yet fully connected, while we sought out the pieces needed to get the pipes connected to it.


Meanwhile, we have improvised an alternate way to get water into the house. As was discussed on this blog last summer, we had a well put in (ostensibly for the western lot, #73, though there is some debate as to which side of the property line it ended up on). The well is not hooked up to Arthur’s house, on lot #74. But it’s there, and works, with a jury-rigged electrical supply going to the well controller hut (what we call the “doghouse” because of its size). So I ran a garden hose from the faucet I put in the western driveway across to a faucet in Arthur’s driveway. The well pressure comes through the hose, with both faucets open, and provides water pressure and well water to Arthur’s house. This temporary arrangement will work as long as the temperatures remain above freezing – which they currently have been.

Here is the hose off the well faucet. The “doghouse” is on the left, the western driveway’s faucet (which I installed last summer) is on the right.


Here is the hose connected to the faucet in Arthur’s driveway. I had to make a customized “female-female” length of hose to connect the hose to both faucets.



Caveat: Chicken Little’s cognitive biases

I made up a kind of aphorism for myself. It goes: “It’s not that Chicken Little was wrong, but rather that he was overreacting.”

I suppose this summarizes my feeling about the current atmosphere of “climate change panic” permeating some social spheres. I believe 100% in anthropogenic climate change. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a climate change denier or skeptic. Nevertheless, believing that humans are changing the climate doesn’t (and shouldn’t) necessarily lead to immediate panic.

I think that in fact humans are pretty resourceful and ingenious. I expect that when climate-change crises occur, people will, for the most part, deal with them. I guess I’m an optimist, in some weird way. I think that even now, people are for the most part dealing with these things. But this quotidian “dealing with things” doesn’t make the news. Instead, the failures make the news. And that biases our view toward the negative and catastrophic aspects, and we miss the fact that most people, most places, are dealing with things. This is the same type of negative viewpoint bias that permeates discussion of issues like crime and terrorism.

Unrelatedly, here is a joke.

A man is consulting a doctor, at a very low quality, bureaucratic hospital. The doctor explains that he has bad news and good news. The man asks for the bad news first. The doctor says: “The bad news is that you’re dying of cancer.”

“Jeez. What’s the good news?” the man asks, alarmed.

The doctor sighs. “Around here, things take forever.”

Caveat: documentation of my geofictions

Some of you might recall, I have another blog, besides this one.

I maintain that blog mostly because this here blog is tied to my real-world identity, but I prefer to remain a little bit anonymous (obfuscated and pseudonymous more than truly anonymous) on the geofiction websites where I work and interact on what is really one of my main hobbies. I don’t post there very often – nothing close to daily, as I do here. A few times a month, on average.

So this morning, I ended up writing a quite long entry on that other blog. It also has a number of included images, etc., so rather than reproduce it here (which would be complicated because my two blog platforms are truly independent, and I’ve got them configured quite differently), I’ll just give you a link:

Documentation of my geofictions, at

Consider this to be my blog-post of the day, but off over on that other blog.

Caveat: Я молодость свою переросла



Уже богов — не те уже щедроты
На берегах — не той уже реки.
В широкие закатные ворота
Венерины, летите, голубки!
Я ж на песках похолодевших лежа,
В день отойду, в котором нет числа…
Как змей на старую взирает кожу —
Я молодость свою переросла.

– Марина Цветаева (русская поэтесса, 1892-1941)

Praise to Aphrodite


No more so rich are the gifts of the Gods;
even the river is different now.
Through wide and widening sunset gates
the doves of Venus fly away.

And I, stretched out on cooling sand,
soon into numberless days go forth.
Like a snake, looking back at his old bright skin –
I have outgrown my youth.

– Marina Tsvetaeva (Russian poet, 1892-1941)
– Adapted by Rose Styron

Caveat: Poem #1297

round stones broken stones sharp stones
shaped stones

big stones medium-sized stones small stones
three-dimensional stones

gray stones green stones brown stones
colored stones

i walk
i seek
i cannot

lazy stones calm stones forceful stones
moody stones

– a quennet

Caveat: because sledgehammers

There is a genre television show in which people have their homes remodeled by a snarky team of hosts who bring in contractors. I have only very rarely watched this type of show, but they have intrigued me the times that I’ve caught them. I suppose they appeal to my utterly unfulfilled inner architect. Or something.

I didn’t watch one of these shows recently, either. I’m just saying that I am aware of such shows, as a preamble to this interesting datum.

Apparently the popularity of these shows has driven a measurable rise in the popularity of the so-called “open floor plan,” in which living room, dining room, and kitchen are combined. I’m not opposed to such floor plans – I grew up in one that was de facto open, and of course a single-room apartment such as I had in Korea is definitionally “open” too.

But now it’s being discussed that the reason these home remodeling shows like to implement open floor plans has little to do with the desires of the people whose homes are being remodeled. The reason these TV shows do open floor plans is because the viewers like to see the contractors knocking down walls with sledgehammers. So the viewer preference for violence drives the architectural style, which in turn drives the style’s popularity. Isn’t that interesting? Here’s a link.

Caveat: the bombastic intimations of winter

Contrary Theses (II)

One chemical afternoon in mid-autumn,
When the grand mechanics of earth and sky were near;
Even the leaves of the locust were yellow then,

He walked with his year-old boy on his shoulder.
The sun shone and the dog barked and the baby slept.
The leaves, even of the locust, the green locust.

He wanted and looked for a final refuge,
From the bombastic intimations of winter
And the martyrs a la mode. He walked toward

An abstract, of which the sun, the dog, the boy
Were contours. Cold was chilling the wide-moving swans.
The leaves were falling like notes from a piano.

The abstract was suddenly there and gone again.
The negroes were playing football in the park.
The abstract that he saw, like the locust-leaves, plainly:

The premiss from which all things were conclusions,
The noble, Alexandrine verve. The flies
And the bees still sought the chrysanthemums’ odor.

– Wallace Stevens (American poet, 1879-1955)


Caveat: v-truck

Our nearest neighbors, Mike and Penny, are down the road about a half a mile.

Penny has a hobby of making three-dimensional pop-up greeting cards. She uses colored cardstock paper and some kind of computer-controlled cutting device. The last time we visited there, she was showing off her hobby. She’d said, “I’ll send you guys one, sometime.”

She sent us a Valentine’s Card. It is a red “Valentine’s truck.” Only in Alaska.