December 12th, 2012

#3714: Well, that was cheaper and easier than expected.

Perhaps I don't need a new toilet after all.

Brief recap: when you hit the flush lever, the water level in the bowl would rise a bit, and then it would just kind of hang there, circling lazily for an approximate eternity. Any solids in the bowl would not go anywhere, but revolve a little.

It most assuredly wasn't the drain to the sewer line, because if that were the case the bowl would overflow. This was a problem between the tank and the bowl.

Thinking that an in-tank sanitizer cake had somehow gotten sucked down the water supply tube, I took the tank off...and discovered that no, there wasn't anything clogging that passage. Having established this fact, I figured that the water passages in the bowl were clogged. That probably meant I'd have to buy a new toilet, because the alternative was to buy about a gallon of hydrochloric acid from somewhere, find a way to plug up the toilet, and fill it full of HCl.

This evening, though, I realized something: the flush action depends on a jet of water flowing fairly quickly towards the drain. (Filling the bowl full of water will do it, but only if you dump in a lot of water, fast.) This is called a siphon for obvious reasons, and if that siphon passage got clogged with gunk the toilet might do the kind of thing it was doing. I reasoned that it would take perhaps five minutes to test my theory. The coat hanger that I'd used to try to unclog the main water passage was even still in the bathroom, and sure enough I discovered that perhaps 1/3 of the passage at most was open...and that was after I'd worked at it with the coat hanger for a while.

Needing another, more robust tool, I hit the garage and tried to find a piece of metal rod that could be bent to the right shape, and failed to find anything. Then I remembered the slotted screwdriver I've got that's been bent to shit for years; I straightened it, mostly, then clamped it in the vise and bent a 90° angle into it.

Thus equipped, I returned to the master bath and started scraping the crud out of the siphon. The stuff coming out looked like sand, and once I'd broken it up it flowed quite naturally to the bottom of the bowl. There was a lot of it.

Then I withdrew it from the bowl and hit the flush lever. Mirabile visu the damned thing flushed like it's supposed to. A bit slow, but I think it's always been like that--it's not a "low flush" toilet, so it doesn't need the velocity that low-flush toilets do.

The bowl is amazingly crummy, though. I tried using regular-strength toilet cleaner and was able to get the worst of the blue sanitizer crud off, but the lime/calcium deposits are bad enough that they don't mind ordinary toilet bowl cleaner. I got the leftover CLR from the Jeep heater core flushing project (I'll need a new jug for that job anyway) and dumped that in, and will let it sit overnight. Tomorrow, then, I can try cleaning the toilet again and see if it's any better. I might buy another bottle of CLR specifically to dump into the toilet bowl, in its entirety, and let it sit overnight again tomorrow, just to get the rest of the crud out of the water passages.

It'd be very nice if this was fixed, because quite frankly I don't want to be buying a new toilet right now. As it is, the thing needs a new seat and might need a new flapper valve, but if that's all I need to buy, I'll take it!


The law banning citizens from carrying firearms in Illinois has been struck down as unconstitutional! Finally!

I first learned of this last night via Borepatch.

The analysis.

The Chicago Sun-Times.

Their article says, "Illinois is the only state with an outright prohibition on concealed carry," but the law bans all carry, not just concealed.

If you're a hunter, out in the field and hunting for game with a license, then you can carry a loaded gun. Otherwise, it's a felony.

Or, rather, it was.

...okay, there's a six-month stay on the ruling, meaning the Illinois Politburo has until mid-June to do something about it. While they can write another law prohibiting the carrying of firearms, that one would probably get struck down even faster.

Expect the new law to be "may issue" and the conditions to be draconian--but at least Illinois will no longer be less free than Massachusetts or Canada.

I don't give a rip for concealed carry. I want open carry. I want to be able to strap a firearm to my hip and walk around in public with the thing in plain sight. Why?

Because it makes liberals' heads go all 'splody.

Finally Illinois is going to be dragged, kicking and screaming, out of the lefty fantasy that making weapons illegal will prevent violence.




* * *

Yes and no. Yes, you can chemically seperate U-233 from the fuel in a thorium reactor.

No it's not quite as easy as the report would suggest.

Here's the problem: U-233 is not the kind of thing you want to have laying around in industrial quantities. It's nastier than U-235 is, which is itself not really much of a picnic.

"The processing of just 3,200 pounds of raw thorium metal would yield 18 pounds of uranium-233." "Raw thorium metal" meaning thorium that's been smelted from ore...and extracting 18 pounds of impurities from almost two tons of metal is not exactly as trivial an exercise as that statement would make it seem.

Look: there's no way to use nuclear power that does not contain some risk of "nuclear proliferation". A nuclear bomb is just a way of speeding up nuclear decay so that it all happens at once; a nuclear power reactor is the same thing at a much slower pace.

Like any truly useful tool, it comes with a set of hazards. Just saying, "We can't use that because it's TOO DANGEROUS" is both foolish and insufficient protection from those hazards.

* * *

Nokia's CEO is a pointy-haired moron. And the Osborne Effect happens all over again. And the Nokia debacle is even mentioned in that last link.

* * *

Too late. The time for this warning was in 2010 and 2011, not now:
If Republicans cave in now, when it really counts, next time you will be weaker, because your conservative base will be outraged. Many who worked hard to elect you in the past will never lift a finger for you again.
It "really counted" in 2011, when they gave us a $120 billion reduction in the rate of growth and insulated themselves from having to vote for more debt ceiling hikes.

* * *

North Korea can now hit any spot on the planet with a nuclear weapon. Sleep tight!

* * *

Union teachers who staged a sick-out for the children are not very good teachers. 7% can read at grade level? Seven percent?

On the other hand, I do think it's the job of parents to teach their kids to read. Don't just sit 'em in front of the TV and let them play video games until their eyes bug out. Sit down with them and an age-appropriate book and teach them to read. Make sure to have plenty of books around the house; let them see you reading, and have all kinds of stuff on hand for them to read. Let them read comics as well as novels.

The greatest inventions are writing, the printing press, and the computer. All three make information easily accessible to anyone who can read. Reading is probably the most important skill you can teach your children; why on Earth would you leave such a vital task up to a lowbrow government union baby?

* * *

Sending a rocket into a ballistic space trajectory using model rocket engines is impractical, but barely possible. Forget hitting orbit, though.

Black powder just doesn't have a good enough specific impulse, and model rocket engines don't contain enough of it.

He is right when he says you can get huge-ass motors, but he's also right when he says that an O or P engine is in fact a rocket engine, not a model rocket engine. And those big ones use a composite propellant identical to what's used in the Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Boosters: HTPB and ammonium perchlorate, with a leavening of aluminum powder as a burn-rate modifier.

You can get reloadable model rocket motors which use composite propellant, too. I used one, once--a 24 mm reloadable with a D12 fuel slug--and it roasted my very nice Phoenix missile model. It got perhaps 25 feet in the air, and then WHUMPH flames shot out of the wrong end and it stopped dead in the air before falling back to Earth. The entire internal structure of the model was gone; the body tube collapsed as I ran up to where it had fallen and the paint was blistered. I had, to put it mildly, not loaded the casing correctly; the failure mode was almost exactly the same as for Challenger: an o-ring failed. *sigh*

* * *

And so here we are again with the home-brewed Garfield Without Garfield. Yesterday's was, by the way, the Thanksgiving strip. Here's the next one: