May 18th, 2017

krazy koati

I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in

If I'd been about a half-hour faster to ordering I might have my new laptop today, and then I'd be able to continue my report from Ann Arbor. Too bad. I'm also not sure what I'm going to do for Thursday and pictures since I don't have more Pinburgh photos loaded and ready to go. Shall see.

Well, this is a small thing but it's done at least. Our basement steps have been getting less reliable, and back in fall the bottommost step snapped off one of its sides. My father recommended we get this sort of metal flange thing to shore up the steps from the bottom and then maybe paint the steps so they look fresh and new. With how distracted we always are and how the bottom step could be temporarily fixed by setting a pair of bricks underneath that kind of slid until a couple weeks ago, to bunny_hugger's only occasionally voiced anxiety.

What finally did happen was I got enough gumption to go looking for self-drilling screws for the flange thingy. And that led me to discover these six-inch deck screws that drive themselves in and looked quite promising for affixing steps to the side supports, which I also learned are called stringers. And with that I was ready to go! Except it turned out I needed a bit to go from the power screwdriver to fit the hexagonally-shaped screw heads. All right.

I also learned that all the steps had these flanges beneath them. The bottom step had seen all the screws sheared off, probably by long use. While listening to the highly recommended by bunny_hugger podcast S-Town I drilled in new screws for that, and found the step already felt a lot more stable again. With the deck screws in the side the bottom step felt solid, like it could never be shaken loose again.

So I went back to Home Depot and got more deck screws, as some of the other steps were starting to feel a little wobbly. And drilled them in right up until the power screwdriver was too weak to do it anymore. Then a several day pause as I tried to find the battery charger for the power screwdriver. It turned out to in the laundry cabinet drawer next to the dryer. Must remember this for future incidents.

But the good news: after a lot of time worrying that we would have to tear out the whole basement stairway and replace it with a new unit, we do not have to tear out the whole basement stairway and replace it with a new unit. The steps feel sound enough to jump on. It's a good start to the summer home-repair season. I'm hoping to crack open one, maybe two more of the painted-shut windows for it.

Trivia: Two minutes into a Saturn V launch the automatic abort circuitry is turned off. The first-to-second-stage staging would be violent enough to risk triggering an unnecessary abort. Source: The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture And Operation, Frank O'Brien.

Currently Reading: The Number Mysteries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life, Marcus du Sautoy.