The condensate pump for my HVAC systems gave out a couple of months ago. I went down to the basement and stepped in a puddle. It’s amazing how much water came from the HVAC system in just a day. I’ve never really liked this particular pump. It’s noisy and it has failed before – I’ve taken it apart to figure out what was wrong only to have it work again. It has a lever on the side where you can push down to manually activate the pump – to override the float sensor and I’ve needed to do that before. So as I sloshed through the puddle to the pump this time, I was surprised to find that the manual lever did nothing and that the power to the outlet was still on. I didn’t need much convincing to buy a new one. I got a new DiversiTech LCV-120 which has no mechanical float and is incredibly quiet. I really should have replaced the Little Giant with the DiversiTech at the first sign of problems years ago.

However, I don’t want to be without a condensate pump even for a little while so having a backup would be useful. And I’m considering making some sort of system where the DiversiTech is somewhat raised up and I have a second pump below it with some sort of battery back up to make sure there is never a problem again. And therefore, I set out to repair this thing – the pump that I hate, the Little Giant VCMX-20UL.

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Pool Fence DIY Review

| by Ken | in House & Home No Comments »

For a temporary pool, a temporary fence seemed ideal. There are a number of them on the market but only one seemed to have a solution for when the fence would run over grass, Pool Fence DIY. Granted, the grass solution isn’t nearly as good as a concrete solution. But when you consider the purpose of a pool fence is to protect small children from getting in a pool when they shouldn’t and that the fence is basically making an “attractive nuisance” unattractive, a temporary fence over grass will work fine for me. So I spec’ed it out using the Pool Fence DIY estimator and ordered it up. Here are my thoughts after it is now installed.

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Many TV Series Finales

| by Ken | in Admin No Comments »

You can’t blame COVID-19 for the end of lots of TV series this spring. The decisions were made ages ago and the finales have been in progress for a while. So it really just is coincidence that so many TV shows that I watch regularly have now ended their runs. I’m not going to describe any plot in detail and in a few cases, I’ll be intentionally vague to not give things away but if you are worried about spoilers for a particular show, it’s probably wise to skip over that series’ summary below.

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My MythTV setup has been humming along for years now. It still beats what you can get from cable companies primarily because of the commercial skip capabilities. But there’s also other good stuff like being able to archive a recording. I have previously moved copies of recorded TV to an SD card for portable viewing, for example. For years, I’ve wanted an easy way to make a recorded TV show leave the ephemeral recordings section and move to the video library for permanent storage. Today, I finally got that to happen.

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Impeach Trump? Now?

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

I’ve never been a fan of Nancy Pelosi. She isn’t a great public speaker with many hesitancy quirks and frequently seems ill-prepared in her press conferences. She has presided over a House of Representatives twice when she has seemed unable to coral her unruly peers into governing together rather than fighting with each other. I was disappointed to see that she was going to be Speaker of the House a second time and was optimistic about somebody else and her second tenure has turned out to be as bad as the first.

And now, her handling of to-impeach or not-to-impeach has dragged on for way too long. For years, Trump has been doing things that are illegal and easily proven but she has maintained that it isn’t enough for impeachment. And Trump seems to have taken that as a challenge: ‘Oh, if that wasn’t then how about this? Still no? Then I can do this.’ Like a toddler testing limits. Actually, I take that back – he *is* a toddler testing limits. And his parent Nancy is failing to push back. And the toddler President is getting away with more and more. Every day that Trump remains President is another 2 that it will take to fix. Or maybe the time to fix things is going up logarithmically and we are now at a point where 1 year of Trump equals 10 years to fix.

Granted, impeachment seemed unlikely to succeed in the senate so the President would very likely remain in office. But if the House was able to be decisive, hold people accountable, get the sins out into the daylight, there was a chance that Republican Congress might have not wanted to continue working with Trump as much as they have. Or it might even have helped put a fence around Trump that would either have limited his damage or maybe even helped him realize that his powers were not unlimited. (George Will article on the benefits of impeachment) But dragging on for years now meant the public became numb to the idea and Pelosi and her her party seemed feckless.

As of the end of September 2019, Pelosi is now on board with impeachment. Why now? Does she think that she will now get Republicans to vote with her to impeach? Maybe there is some strategic thinking going on behind the scenes – maybe she feels like she can get evidence public that she could not have gotten before and that impeachment will then be supported by the public and possibly even congressional Republicans where it was not before?

But I remain concerned. Because it’s quite possible that the impeachment inquiry that has now begun will not go anywhere, that it will drag on for months with no visible progress, that it will become unpopular, and that it will ultimately leave the Democrats looking worse than if they had continued to not fight back at all. The only thing worse than not standing up to a bully is to try to stand up to the bully but fall down in the process. Pity doesn’t win elections.

Kraft stupid? No, evil

| by Ken | in Soapbox No Comments »

As a father of a young and crazy Patriots fan, I’ve been avoiding this story. I haven’t wanted to think about what Kraft did and I sure as hell don’t want to talk to my son about it. And I’ve read and heard a number of people talking about how Kraft was stupid – with the infinite amount of money he has, he could have paid for anybody at any time anywhere – i.e. go the Heidi Fleiss route instead of the strip mall with a Publix. Therefore, the prevailing wisdom is that Kraft was both stupid and really stupid.

I’ve been puzzling over how Kraft could have been so stupid and I have come to the grim conclusion that he was not. I think he realized that going with high-paid escorts would mean lots of people in positions of power would have awareness of what he was doing. Instead, going the seedy strip mall parlor route would mean no one would know – especially since the women who worked there would be unable to share that knowledge due to their situation. And that’s when I realized that his patronage of a place like that was specifically because he knew that the women who worked there were in no position to disclose what was going on. And the fact that the owner of the business had previously been arrested in Massachusetts for human trafficking means that Kraft could have gone to this business in Florida because of prior visits to one in Massachusetts. Which means Kraft’s choice was not stupid, it was evil. And the only reason he was busted is because of some awesome police work. While he was right that he didn’t need to worry about powerful people leaking information about what he was doing, he was wrong that nobody was on the side of the victims.

While my first try at putting a doc for my iPhone in my Volvo XC90 was, strictly speaking, successful, it wasn’t as good as I wanted.  I had thought it would be cool to have the dock out of sight when the phone was unplugged so as not to mar the beautiful interior with an unsightly growth.  So I figured out how to get it in the front bin of the console.  However, I realized pretty quickly that the phone just wasn’t visible there which makes it only slightly better than the factory version of connecting it in the main console bin.  I eventually accepted that I would need to get a mount for the dashboard and that it would be permanently visible.  But I still wanted to keep things as clean as possible.  Here’s what I did. 

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Republicans vs. Facts

| by Ken | in Admin No Comments »

The recent Congressional hearing with Sundar Pichai provided some useful insight into how many Republican congressional members’ brains work – or don’t work as the case may be. 

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The current generation Volvo XC90 has a USB jack in the center console bin that you can connect your phone to.  And then your phone could charge and participate in the infotainment system through either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.  While that is pretty cool that your phone can be connected to the car, it is clunky to use every time you get in a car.  And to think that your phone can be tucked out of sight while you are driving is naive – at least given the current state of CarPlay and Android Auto.  In the future, maybe the car’s main screen can do everything that the phone can but in a smart and safe way.  But for now, there’s too much that the phone does that isn’t part of the car’s screen so having the phone out is important.  No I’m not texting and driving and no, I’m not playing Candy Crush while driving.  But an occasional look down to see that a text has arrived or the second screen for the map application, etc. are things that make having the phone out useful and less dangerous than having it tucked away.  And that makes the USB jack in the center console inconvenient at best.  It’s also frequently damned annoying when the wire that comes out of the center console and snakes along the cup holders to in front of the shifter gets tangled up in whatever beverage I’ve placed there.  Last week the wire broke and rather than just replace the wire, I figured it was time for me to do something better.  It was (past) time to figure out how to dock the phone in the car.

In the end, I did get a dock successfully installed in the car which is a definite improvement over the aforementioned wire-in-the-cupholders situation.  However, I’m not completely thrilled with the result.  I now have a Lightning connector sticking out of the storage bin in front of the shifter (the optional ashtray) and the phone does connect to it.  But despite my best efforts to simulate what it was going to look like there before I started, it didn’t end up the best of placements.  It is behind the shifter knob when the car is in Park – I can take the phone out of the dock when it is in Park but that defeats the purpose.  It is too low to really access the phone’s home button at the bottom.  And it is lower than I wanted considering where my eyes are – i.e. too far to look down from the road.  That means I’m going to need to work on an alternate location at some point.  But for now, since it does work and it is an improvement, I figured I would document at least that for now.

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Volvo XC90 Center Console Removal

| by Ken | in Automotive 5 Comments »

As detailed in another post, I wanted to add an iPhone dock to my Volvo XC90.  Ordinarily, I’d post all the info in one post but as it turned out, maybe 80% of the challenge was in disassembling the center console.  And since there may be other reasons to disassemble the center console in the future, I’ve broken out the center console assembly here.  It was a considerable challenge and it is worthy of its own post anyway.

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