Archive for category Oddities

American Standard Kitchen Faucet: Cleaning and O-Rings

The O-rings on the spout of our American Standard kitchen faucet wore out again; having described that repair many times, there’s no need to say much more about it. I didn’t want to get into this repair while thinking about the hot limit problem, but I did check to make sure the box under the sink had some O-ring replacement kits.

A bench vise with soft jaws holds the spout while you remove the escutcheon ring retainer:

Kitchen faucet spout - in vise

Kitchen faucet spout – in vise

Basically, just tap around the ring with a long drift punch and it’ll eventually fall out onto the reasonably clean rag below it.

The interior of the spout before cleaning shows why you should never look into your plumbing:

Kitchen faucet spout interior - before

Kitchen faucet spout interior – before

After a few hours in a white vinegar bath and a few minutes of scrubbing with a ScotchBrite pad:

Kitchen faucet spout interior - after - 1

Kitchen faucet spout interior – after – 1

Another view:

Kitchen faucet spout interior - after - 2

Kitchen faucet spout interior – after – 2

Obviously, you could do better, but it’s hard to get excited about the last few nodules. For whatever it’s worth, the nodules grow despite our water softener; I have no clue what’s going on in there.

A few wipes of silicone grease, reassemble in reverse order, apply a firm shove, and it’s leakless again. For a while, anyhow.




Google Pixel XL Camera Oddity: LED Flicker Stripes

The Pixel’s camera shows a black stripe across both the live preview and the final image:

Pixel XL Camera - shutter stripe

Pixel XL Camera – shutter stripe

That’s under the high-intensity LED lamp on my desk, which must have a high-frequency flicker. I’m amazed the camera remains in absolutely stable sync with the flicker for as long as I’m willing to aim it.

The stripe covers only the moth and greenery, not the LCD monitor in the background, so it’s caused by the overhead lamp, not something internal to the Pixel or its camera.

A closer look shows shading on either side of the deepest black (clicky for more dots):

Pixel XL Camera - shutter stripe - detail

Pixel XL Camera – shutter stripe – detail

The stripe location and width differ based on the image zoom level, although in no predictable way:

Pixel XL Camera - shutter stripe - 2

Pixel XL Camera – shutter stripe – 2

The Pixel camera definitely doesn’t have optical zoom, so it’s surely related to the scaling applied to convert the physical sensor array into the final image. Even though all images have 4048×3036 pixels (or the other way around, at least for these portrait-layout pix), zoomed images get made-up (pronounced “interpolated”) data in their pixels.

Not a problem under any other illumination I’ve encountered so far, so it’s likely something to do with this specific and relatively old LED lamp.


Turkey Vultures on a Rainy Day

These vultures decided to hang out high atop our neighbor’s tree during a recent day-long rainstorm:

Turkey Vultures - rainy day

Turkey Vultures – rainy day

There may be a third vulture on the branch behind the big clump of pine cones near the trunk.

This seems about as disgusted as a vulture can appear:

Turkey Vultures - rainy day - detail

Turkey Vultures – rainy day – detail

I think that’s a young vulture, without the red face of more mature specimens.

They spent most of the day there, then flew off about their business. We’re sure they spent most of the next day drying out.

Taken with the (new-to-me) DSC-H5 and 1.7× teleadapter; no extra charge for the purple fringes.


Buck Season

This eight-pointer was one of two browsing in the back-yard grove:

Eight point buck deer in velvet

Eight point buck deer in velvet

The other was a mere four-pointer. In a few weeks they’ll get all feisty and browse the grove in shifts.

The notion of a “suburban hunting license”, perhaps with crossbows, may eventually gain traction.

A few days later, Mary awoke to a great clattering caused by a buck fighting free of the slot between the garden’s mesh “deer fence” and the neighbor’s wood fence, flattening the corner post in the process. A similar encounter a few years ago ended poorly.


Monthly Science: Solar Eclipse 2017

An hour before the festivities started, I lashed together an official NASA-approved pinhole eclipse viewer from available materials:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - pinhole projector

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – pinhole projector

Although the solar disk showed up fine on the white paper screen, the Pixel’s camera can’t show the notch growing on the left side, even with HDR+ mode in full effect:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - pinhole projector - interior

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – pinhole projector – interior

As usual for astronomy around here, clouds threatened the outcome:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - high clouds

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – high clouds

Near the maximum, the skies cleared:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - maximum - lens flare

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – maximum – lens flare

Although it’s not proof, there’s a definite bite out of the lens flare at about 4 o’clock:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - maximum - lens flare - detail

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – maximum – lens flare – detail

The maples south of the driveway produced lower-contrast images better suited to silicon sensors:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - maximum - shadows

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – maximum – shadows

And, although everyone was specifically enjoined not to do this, because UV reflection = blindness, the obligatory solar eclipse selfie:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - obligatory selfie

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – obligatory selfie

I’m sure similar lens flares count as UFOs in someone’s telling of the tale.

We planned to dance naked in the yard, but our neighbor’s lawn crew picked that moment to scalp his grass and we chose discretion over valor …



Each of the three Mystery Caterpillars wandered around the aquarium for a few minutes, found a spot surrounded by leaves, and tucked themselves into their cocoons.

The smallest one went first and probably got the best site:

Mystery Caterpillar - Cocoon 1

Mystery Caterpillar – Cocoon 1

The medium one:

Mystery Caterpillar - Cocoon 2

Mystery Caterpillar – Cocoon 2

The largest caterpillar munched the leaf around the new cocoon and removed some of the silk (?) wrapper. It looks like the caterpillar’s fur falls off and becomes insulation inside the wrapper.

The large one with mostly black fur managed to bind two leaves together:

Mystery Caterpillar - Cocoon 3

Mystery Caterpillar – Cocoon 3

The Monarch remained calm, well above the scramble:

Monarch Chrysalis - with skin

Monarch Chrysalis – with skin

The caterpillar’s skin (or whatever it is) remained loosely attached to the outside.

All of which puts me in mind of Della Lu:


I wonder what they’re thinking after they type Y E S …


Praying Mantis

It’s the season for large insects, but this Praying Mantis came as a surprise:

Praying Mantis on screen

Praying Mantis on screen

Mary spotted it on the outside of the window screen in the front bathroom. We watched it for ten minutes as it strolled around the screen, all the while keeping at least one compound eye aimed at us.

If humans were half as tall, those things would be terrifying!

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