Monthly Archives: November 2009


When I started this blog my intention was to avoid political and social policy comment but I now think that is shirking responsibility. I read the diary of Lady Florentia Sale covering the first Afghan war sometime in the late 1960s. The fact that Imperial armies could be defeated stuck with me ever after (even after seeing the Carry On Up the Khyber movie). Afghanistan has never been a nation in the sense we use that word, it is still a collection of clans. Foreign forces have never survived there. I find that Simon Jenkins often expresses my views better than I can and I agree totally with his article. Face down the militarists and get out of Afghanistan

I think we should buy the opium produced in Afghanistan so that the farmers get a living until some other crop proves better. We should decriminalize the derived drugs, making them controller substances that addicts can get on prescription while they are given treatment to get off the addiction. This will greatly diminish the crime associated with drugs as well as the bad effects of adulterated drugs. There are other good medical uses for opium and its derivatives. If there really was a surplus it could be destroyed. This will not solve all the world’s problems but it would straightforward to implement. Don’t think that I have some vested interest in this, I only have occasional wine with meals, have never used any other drugs, and avoid as many medications as I can.

Global experiment

It is rare that we can have an experiment on global warming but this seems to be what the sun is setting up for us over the next few years.
A sharp drop in solar activity could soon tell us how much mankind and the Sun are responsible for warming the planet

This has been a battle area for some time though I think there will still be people believing CO2 is not the main factor even if there is no significant cooling. I accept that the current models do not think this drop in solar activity will make much difference to the global warming trend. This also means that I do not think there is time to wait for the effects of low sun restlessness to be verified before we act on moving away from CO2 producing fuels as our main energy source.

Climate change matters

Climate change has been another big issue for me for many years. It is hard to assess how close to disaster we are but I have believed for a long time that addressing the problem would be to the benefit of most creatures on earth: my view. I will note new items that strike me as important on the links page.

DIY pleasure

Fitting a new shower

This was a fascinating micro DIY that illustrated that however you think things through there will be hitches not apparent until you get to them. I chose the new shower in part because the electrical connections and water inlet were similarly sited to the one being replaced. I had hoped to site the new shower so that it connected to the existing water pipe without modification.

1) Then when I got the new shower I saw that the route that the cables had to take to get to the connection block meant that with the length of free cable available that would not be possible to site it as I had hoped. I had to site the shower to suit the electrical cable as changing the cable would have been a major task; joining on an extra length I thought unsafe.
[I wish the previous installer had left a big loop of cable. There was lots of space for cable, and that bit of foresight would have made the job about an hour long.]

When the old shower was removed two fixing screws were corroded and broke in the wall.

2) After making the top fixing hole for the new shower in the only place that got the cabling right, and putting the shower in place, I found that the single bottom fixing hole was just over the previous blocked hole. The fixing holes in the shower are in thicker plastic and this lower hole was really a slot. I managed to drill a new hole a few millimetres from the old one, but then found a cavity behind the hole that then had to be filled.

3) Finally I got the bits for fitting the plastic pipe and then found that there was inadequate allowance in the shower layout to take the fitting for shower to pipe. Rather than carve out a part of the shower casing to accommodate this part I decided to fit a small section of copper pipe; the metal nut and olive were supplied with the shower although its little pipe was plastic.

4) I connected it all up with all joints tightened, turned on the water, and saw a leak. The leak was from the shower to copper pipe connection. I had made it a tight as I though safe but when I turned off the water and began to dismantle the parts I found that the olive had not gripped the copper pipe at all. All the plastic joints were leak free.

As I needed a shower at this point I used a flexible pipe connection [I have a well stocked garage-store from previous jobs] to get it working leak-free and give me that subconscious thinking time to decide how to improve the fitting. I did not want to do even a minor modification of the casing lest that void the warranty should the shower fail within the three years given.

I waited a day and had a revelation: the shower is working perfectly with a silly connection but I don’t have to make the plumbing fit with my original notion. It needed less than 10 minutes to turn off the water, cut one pipe shorter, reconnect, put the water back on to get a working shower with neat connection. I don’t live in a listed building, I can keep the flexible pipe, and there are many other important jobs. I do use the Pareto Principle, otherwise called 80/20, but forgot it this time until a time-space let it resurface.

This set me thinking about CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. As it was being build I did wonder what up-time it would have because it has so many parts that even a very low failure rate per part could still lead to a significant failure rate for the whole system. My prejudice was confirmed with the magnet failure in September 2008, and then with the crumb dropped by a bird in November 2009, but given my experience fitting a mere shower I have to be impressed at what has been assembled at CERN.

My starter post using WordPress

Having read many blogs and found many of them useful I thought I should do a blog myself. There is nothing to lose, as I make notes on many things anyway, and here there is a structure to help me in that noting. A few other people may find items of interest in what I post such as –

I have just ‘discovered’ Speedfit pipes and fittings. My DIY plumbing in the past was always with copper pipes and elbows and a blow torch. Sometime in the 1950s I fitted a gas geyser and repaired a large ‘boiler’ (for boiling white clothes with bleach) when I lived with my parents. Then I got stuck with that technology. I have known about plastic pipes for many years but not being in the trade I thought of them as second class plumbing citizens for the wimps to use. Now I know better. I found that Speedfit can be bent into a curve just like copper pipe. The first project using Speedfit is a shower replacement. Details

No comments for now until I know WordPress better; it is a very rich system.