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The Whole World is Addicted

I think that pretty much everyone is addicted to something. Alcohol, sex, gambling, porn, their own world view. People forget how to live without it.

I’m not saying that I am any better.

No Country For Old Men

I went with the roommate Darren to see No Country For Old Men tonight. It was a well done thriller about a drug deal gone wrong, a protagonist who finds the drug money, and an antagonist killing machine who comes after the protagonist and everything good in the world.  Although very dark and a bit depressing, that was to be expected given the title and the nature of the film.

The Yahoo! Movies ranking showed normal people rating it lower than experts — usually a very big warning sign to me. The only reason I agreed to go see it, in fact, was that Sunshine, a movie that I did enjoy, met a similar Users vs. Experts fate. As in Sunshine, the differential for No Country was only one grade point (ie, B- to B), so I guessed that meant the movie wouldn’t be too bad. The guess turned out to be correct. I am no better off for having seen the movie, but it didn’t leave me worse off either. (In cases where audiences and critics disagree by two or more grade points, such as in the case for Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, you are almost always guaranteed a terrible movie.) I give it a 3.0/5.

How To Petition the UW Bioengineering Department

Currently, I am petitioning to have two of my CSE classes this quarter, Neurobotics and Computational Biology, count towards Bioengineering Senior Elective credit. If successful, and assuming that I finish my capstone this quarter, I will be done with my Bioengineering degree and I will not have to take any additional Bioengineering courses. That sounds like a mighty fine goal to me, so I put a little bit of heart and soul into the petition I prepared:

Petition Document Screenshot

While I don’t know if this will actually work, I did get this response from the academic advisor:

This is very good! I think you just set a new bar for petitions with the color-keyed flow chart! Thanks. –KJN

We’ll see how it goes.

UPDATE: Success! See comment below.

Great Tennis Comes From… Serbia?

I just finished watching a thrilling straight-set match where Serbian Novak Djokovic took down world number one and reigning Austrailian Open champion Roger Federer. The Swiss started strong, but by the halfway mark of the first set, it was clear the Roger was not on top of his game. Novak won four straight games to come back from 3-5 to win the first set 7-5. The second set saw Roger looking flat-footed, at times even sick as Novak came moment away from winning the set 6-1. Roger bagan to fight back, but still fell 6-3 in the second set. Federer player much better in the third set, matching his early first set form, but it was too little too late; Djokovic was in a groove and never lost his serve, forcing the tie break. On the first opportunity, what often seems impossible became very much a reality: Roger Federer lost. Earlier in the other bracket, comeback kid Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France stunned world number two, the always exciting Rafael Nadal of Spain, beating him emphatically in straight sets. This all sets up a showdown between two exciting players at the top of their games, who have never met and never won a Major. For one, that will change on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in the women’s bracket world number 4 Ana Ivanovic from Serbia (where else) has put herself in position to win her first major. All that stands in her way is the world number 5, Russian Maria Sharapova, already a winner of several Major tournaments. No matter what happens in this one, we all win.

Ana Ivanovic

Marria Sharapova

I rest my case.

Applied Plumbing: An Epic Adventure

On Monday, the sink began leaking again. This had been an intermittent problem for some time, so I decided that I was going to fix it. The root of the problem seemed to be a plastic nut that didn’t quite fit far enough on to the threads on the sink to ensure a tight seal. So I hit up the local Ace hardware and purchased a replacement piece. Upon my return, I realized that the solution was in fact a bit more complex that I originally imagined: The new piece I had purchased, while mating beautifully to the sink, could not slip over the plastic pipe due to a secondary pipe that connected into the drain (more on this later). So, it was back to the hardware store again, this time with Enpei and a helpful clerk just before closing, to get an entire replacement dish washer air vent/sink drain mating assembly. After some struggles to find out how everything fir together, we finally got everything figured out, cut down to size, and installed. The best part was that everything seemed nice and tight, especially the connection to the sink. It was a nice chance to apply some latent plumbing skills in the real world. I’m glad its not my job though.

Of course, if that is where it ended, there wouldn’t be an epic adventure. Yesterday, there was water under the sink again. I found out that the left pipe was a little lose, so I tightened it up. However, this simple act got me on a roll and I started fixing things around the kitchen. One problem we’ve had is that we have too many pots and pans to fit into our cabinets. So Enpei, Bobby and I selected the best and most useful subset and put the rest into storage. After moving a few other things around, the place was looking a lot nicer. In fact, with all the extra space, the dishwasher had enough room to actually run it instead of just using it as a drying rack. So we decided to run the dishwasher.


About 1/3 through the cycle, the machine started leaking water at an alarming rate. Fortunately, Bobby and I were still in the kitchen talking, so we caught it early and stopped the machine immediately. We then opened it up to investigate. There was a rather deep pool of standing water that had overflowed the bottom part of the dishwasher. We figured that since the dishwasher hasn’t run in a while, that something must have gotten stuck in the drain. So, we went to work to empty the water out and take a look at the drain. First we used big bowls, then cups, to empty the water out.

At this point it may be useful to refer to the following diagram:

Dishwasher basin exploded view

We saw that the outermost screen (506) was clean, so we took it off (two hard-to-turn screws), and then saw that the inner screen (508) was also clear. Curious, we took that off too, only to find a small, lower pool (505) with another screen that did not lend itself to removal (428). However, even this screen was free of debris (although we did clear out a pop-can tab).

Dishwasher motor assembly
Since it didn’t seem to be related to things stuck on the screens, we decided to try to clear the drain next. Unawares of exactly how the drain system worked, we first thought about a snake (but couldn’t find how to feed it in to the proper tube), and then next thought of Liquid Plumr. We let it sit for 30 minutes but it didn’t go anywhere, and our clog theory was quickly losing credibility. For your information, Liquid Plumbr in a dishwasher is a bad idea. As it turns out, Liquid Plumr is very sudsy. Thick, never-ending sudsy.  We had to scoop out many suds. And after that, we had to scoop out more suds. The smell of Sodium Hypochlorate flooded the kitchen. And it was 2:00 am. Again, it was clear that the Liquid Plumr had been a bad idea.

At some point in the middle of all this excitement, I decided that it might be a good idea to watch what the dishwasher was doing, as in with the door open. It was fairly easy to convince the switch that the door was closed and turn the locking lever, which allowed the system to start up. It turns out thatat the beginning of the cycle, the pump pushes a large amount of water quickly through the system. Liquid Plumr-infused water spat up from the belly of the machine and sprayed into the kitchen. I quickly deactivated the machine, a little bit sad that I hadn’t filmed the excitement, but glad that no toxic water droplets had entered my eyes or mouth. This, as it turns out, was another bad idea — but not as bad as the original Liquid Plumr idea.

Stumped, we decided to re-evaluate the source of the problem. The next thing we contemplated was the odd looking plastic nub at the front left of the dishwasher (302). This had a single short screw that was easy to remove. Initially, I thought that maybe the contraption was an emergency drain, but after taking the two plastic covers off, it became apparent that the inner plastic piece was in fact a float that actuated a switch (306) on a post protruding from the dishwasher tub.

In the meantime, Bobby had found the GE dishwasher website from which the above pictures came, and confirmed that the mechanism was in fact a water-float system. We also discovered that what we thought was a drain was in fact the beginning of the motor assembly (505). Apparently — and what a good idea this is — the system reuses most of its water. It just sprays it around over and over, only occasionally actuating a solenoid (assembly 493) that shovels the water out of the drain. Ah-hah! Our new theory was that it must be either the drain tube (462) that was clogged or the solenoid that was not working.

We discovered, somewhat to our surprise, that the drain tube — the only way to get water out of the dishwasher — snaked all the way up to the top of the sink. From our first applied plumbing lesson, I knew that this tube was connected to the dishwasher, but the assembly had said “air vent” as opposed to “dishwasher drain,” so naturally I assumed that the dishwasher had its own big drain underneath, something like a toilet. Well, it turns out that this little tube is the only drain that a dishwasher has! So, forgetting for a moment about the float, we detached the tube from the air vent and ran the snake into it from that direction. We made it easily all the way to the solenoid area at the dishwasher, so it wasn’t the drain pipe that was clogged either. Next, we set about eliminating the solenoid. Of course, we neglected replacing the drain tube back to the drain, so in our test (where the solenoid worked just fine, thank you very much!) we ended up spewing toxic Liquid Plumr hot water all over the area under the sink. Well, having flooded two times in the last three days, it was nothing we were unable to handle, but at 2:00 am it did make us feel a little stupid.

Finally convinced that it wasn’t a clog, and since the original problem was water getting too high and flooding, we finally turned our thoughts back to the (now disassembled) flotation switch. In fact, by leaving the float off, we had been signaling to the dishwasher that it was always full of water, so when we ran the cycle, the solenoid worked fine and the dishwasher drained. So after running a few short test-cycles and determining that the washer was in fact draining, we put the assembly back together, making sure that nothing was jammed, so that the float would work properly. We ran a full cycle and it worked great, completely cleaning itself of all Liquid Plumr residue. So, Bobby having begged off to sleep, I finally put the dishes back in to the dishwasher and started another cycle. As I wrote this post this morning, I checked the dishwasher a few more times to ensure that it wasn’t overflowing. Everything seemed fine and I was dead tired, so I stopped writing and drifted off to sleep.

Its not like I really wanted to do homework last night anyway!

WoW now under development

Bobby and I have started development on an application we call WoW, short for “Win on Warbook,” and of course a play on the popular MMORPG. The basic idea is to help us dominate the online game Warbook, a Facebook application that Joel hooked me on a while back. It is my first attempt at coding an actual project in Python;  it is also my first time using Mercurial. After some initial glitches, both Py and Hg seem be to going smoothly.

Domination is forthcoming.

Google is Sorry

Totally unrelated to my other recent “Google” posts:

Google is Sorry