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The Days are Just Packed

After class yesterday, I went to the Technology Alliance’s annual State of Technology Luncheon. Google had some extra seats, and they are being nice to me right now. The keynote address was a conversation between UW CSE professor Ed Lazowska and one of the few men who can legitimately claim to be the inventor of the internet, Vint Cerf. The conversation consisted mostly of Ed asking questions and Vint responding at length. The event was enjoyable, the food quite good, and the conversation was great as well. Afterwards, I made sure to shake Vint’s hand and thank him for participating in the event. I also owe thanks to Google for the invitation.

At this point this, my day was only half over. Next came Rage Against the Turing Machine, ACM Chair Helene Martin’s brainchild superparty for the CSE department. Undergrad, grad, and faculty were all in attendance, and it was a truly phenomenal production. I helped a little by setting up and tearing down the ping pong and foosball tables, but really, this production is Helene’s seminal achievement — truly a great way to go out.

I made sure to wear my VisionUW t-shirt, and actually had a few people ask me what it was about. Being a diehard supporter of the VisionUW ticket for the ASUW elections, I of course expounded to each inquirer why they should vote for the ticket.

After clean up, I made my way back home, party winnings in hand (biking with a poster, a cup, and t-shirts must look kinda weird), and then played a bit of TF2 with Bobby before hitting the sack. Overall, a great day. Now to keep up the momentum, I’m preparing for mother’s day activities and I need to write some Capstone paper before heading off to a barbecue.

In other news, Microsoft extended their offer through the 22nd of this month — meaning I can hear back from the 5th years masters program (barely) before I tell them my decision. Amazon’s offer is good through the 23rd, and Google’s offer is good through August or something crazy like that. I now have the three offers in front of me that I was aiming for; now I need to sit down and figure out which one would be best for me in case I don’t get into the 5th year master’s program. However, only 35 people applied to the program, whereas I was expecting upwards of 60, so I feel my chances are particularly good to get in to the program now. Of course, time will tell.

As the title says, the days are just packed!

Bowling With The Boys

Jon, getting word that Sunvilla, a local bowling joint was closing, put together what was supposed to be a last hurrah Rock n’ Bowl last night. Well, it turns out that Sunvilla is not closing, but the bowling was still fun. I lost the first two games to Shai and Jon, respectively, but then I came roaring back to take the next three. Huzuh!

Thunderbirds 4 – Silvertips 3

Last night I went to my first Seattle Thunderbirds game at the Key Arena. It was not quite my first hockey game ever — I went to a Carleton College women’s hockey game many years ago — but it was definitely the most intense and fun sporting event I have been to in a while.

After the opening faceoff, the first thing I noticed was how fast everyone was going. The players are really incredible on their skates. Where I normally would have thought about how cool that would be, this time I mostly thought about how much it would hurt for me to try that right now. Kinda lame, I know.

Anyway, the game started out poorly — The Everett Silvertips scored two goals, both on power plays, the the Thunderbirds seemed to have trouble controlling the puck for long periods of time. The second period went much better, with the Thunderbirds battling back to score a shorthanded goal, then a powerplay goal, then a third goal. In the waning seconds of the second, however, Everett ended up scoring a third goal to tie the game at three going into the final period.

During the first intermission, I ended up buying a few huck-a-pucks. During the second intermission, a car with a sunroof came out and thousands of $1.33 pucks flew at the car. Getting the puck into the car meant entering a drawing for $10,000. My first puck careened off the back left of the car; my second puck was short, and the third one maintained good aim but sailed too far. Oh well!

The third period saw the Thunderbirds lock down the game. They scored one more and held the Silvertips to a shutout, taking the game 4-3. The last 90 seconds of the third saw the Silvertips pull their goalie to get an additional offensive presence. Although all the action took place on Seattle’s side, the defense held fast for just long enough, and the Thunderbirds secured the victory.

The occasion for all of this was Scott’s 23rd birthday; afterwards we made our way to the Old Spaghetti Factory and enjoyed some food and conversation. A good time was had by all.

Dishwasher Pictures!

Me leaning over the beast

Bobby takes a turn

Liquid Plumbr meets Dishwasher

Warning the Roommates

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.

Weather in Seattle

Beautiful, sunny, cool, clear, crisp… two days ago
(Perfect day for a bike ride with Bobby)

Rainstorm followed by snowstorm, icy roads, wrecked cars… yesterday
(Interesting day to celebrate Courtney’s 24th 21st Birthday)

Beautiful, cool, sunny, with patches of snow… today
(Love it or hate it, it is amazing.)