St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Entropic Thoughts: What Need Fixing Today?

Another morning dawned clear and cold -- -11 F here on the farm.  A few inches of snow fell last night and drifted hear and there about the yard, but none quite so deep as to have to be cleared away to get the car out to the road.  

Mom always insisted on having us put up a snow fence on the west side of the driveway "to catch the snow before it drifts over the driveway."   The north-south driveway is open to the west where the winds mostly come from.   Last year, that of the big snows, I had it up but it caught so much snow even set back farther than usual, the driveway was always drifted. 

So, being daring, and not having Mom giving me orders, I didn't put one up this year.   It has been much better that way as the snow that blows through from the west just continues on and ends up filling someone else's driveway over by Luck.  

At our Pine Island home, on the windswept prairies of southern MN, our leaves and snow mostly blows on through too, so we expected this to be the same up here.  

However, the yard did get a few drifts in the lee of the buildings, so decided to start the snow blower when it got up to -1 at noon.  Of course, it didn't start--battery not enough life to turn it over, so put on the charger for a few minutes and it started up and I blew and plowed the yard clean.  The battery has been in the Cub Cadet for two many years (3) but unless it is below zero works fine -- should get through to next fall and then I will re-battery it.  

However, nothing is easy.  The plastic hood on the Cub is connected to a metal spring-loaded lift by four small bolts screwed into 4 flimsy plastic standoffs molded into the hood itself.  Over the years first one, came loose than another, and today the other two gave up.  I could lift the hood right off the garden tractor and, unhooking the wires to the lights, set it aside.  

The whole plastic hood (cowling?) is sort of flimsy, flexible and cheaply made.  The old cub and my regular mower have metal hoods with really bolts into metal hinges, unlike this $3000 plastic model.  My father-in-law bought it new maybe 10 years ago or so and passed it to Margo when he sold his farm.  

Well, after a little time on the charger, hoodless, and almost up to zero, it started up fine and worked fine too.  Although the wind whipped some of the snow back onto the engine where it sizzled and fogged my vision a little.  I brought the hood in the house to warm up and studied the problem. 

On the right are 4 plastic standoffs. Each is supposed to have a molded insert threaded for a bolt on the Cub.  They have pulled out and the stand offs have crumbled, split and loosened 

The hood top has no indication of the standoff underneath.  Thinking about drilling through it--although that doesn't seem very elegant.
Still messing around with the pump system.  Seems to blow the fuse when hooked up normally, so I ran an extension cord from the garage to the pump shed.  I leave the heating lights plugged to it, unless inside the house the pressure drops too low, and then I go out and plug in the pump and run it for a couple of minutes.  I ran cords outside the building as it is a nuisance to lift off the cover and open the insulation to look at the pressure gauge. 

I think the pressure switch may be bad or maybe some other wiring at fault.   It is too cold to mess with it right now, so I am getting by.  Problem is if I run it too long, may put in too much pressure and damage something else.  The pressure gauge inside seems to be off anyway so looking wouldn't help anyway.    A week from today the forecast is back around 30, so I am waiting and being careful for now.

Sometimes I am tempted to sell everything we have, including the houses and land except for the 38 acres on the lake, and then build a completely trouble free house and garage overlooking the lake and buy a completely trouble free tractor with attachments and a completely trouble free automobile.  Of course, one can never get a trouble free wife, so that would gum things up. 

   Then I realize that my purpose in life is really to lessen the entropy* in the universe, and get back to fixing something.  

* Entropy:  the gradual decline into disorder (thought to be the natural state of the universe--energy has to be applied to a system to decrease entropy -- so mowing the lawn, cleaning the car, washing dishes, and collecting history and putting it into books are all examples of lessening entropy).   

Can you think of a better goal in life than decreasing entropy? 

Some folks say the original energy that organized the world (God in some folks mind, a big bang in others) put in one massive burst of energy and everything has been in inexorable decline since except for periods when huge inputs of energy (oil, coal...) have given brief respite.  Our sun burning itself gradually into oblivion was the burst of energy that allowed life on earth to temporarily give the appearance that entropy can be defeated. 

  No structure, even an artificial one, enjoys the process of entropy. It is the ultimate fate of everything, and everything resists it.” 

― Philip K. Dick, Galactic Pot-Healer 

Resisting entropy's siren call for another day, I remain steadfast in repairing everything in my own domain ;-)