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Mundane matters

Note: This first got published without its ending, a fact I caught 10 minutes later. My apologies to anybody who saw it in its naked state.


I mentioned the other day that life at the moment is pleasantly dull. That’s still the case.

After an extraordinary October, we’ve begun an extraordinary November. Cold, foggy mornings, but blue skies all afternoon. Perfect weather for winter preps and completing fall projects.

Yesterday I hauled out my little Honda inverter-generator to give it its seasonal checkup and run under load. I’ve never had to use it in an emergency, but it will run both the refrigerator and the freezer, which is the main thing. Merely knowing that brings a lot of mental ease. I’ll never forget the December day two years ago when this surprise came wandering up my driveway.

Anyhow, it took about 20 pulls to get it started — no doubt my fault for not emptying the carburetor bowl when I last put it away. But once it got going, it hummed along nicely while I treated the last of the new non-ethanol gas, diverted some of it into smaller cans, and rotated it into storage.

Putting the Honda under load revealed a glitch in my winter preparedness.

One of my two long outdoor extension cords — the newest, best quality, and most heavy-gauge of my extension cords — is nowhere to be found. I’m sure it’s somewhere around here; maybe in the attic crawl space. I don’t know. But so far it hasn’t been anywhere I’ve looked. Without it I couldn’t safely run both appliances at the same time. I’d still get by by running one for a few hours, then switching to the other, which may be the best way to go, anyhow. But even if you consider yourself semi-decently prepped, there’s always something not right.

Two is one and one is … you know that drill.


So that’s the sort of thing I’ve been doing with my days. That and planting the last fall bulbs, cooking beef stew (my #1 favorite fall food), and painting (indoors, but in glorious light).

After work this evening, I sat down to a meal of mandarin oranges (from 2011 and tasting fine), stoneground whole-wheat crackers from the new liquidation store, and puckeringly sharp and nicely crumbly cheddar cheese from here in the NorthWET.

And it will be wet again. Supposed to be a very average winter, which will fill up the dams and dampen the forests against next summer’s wildfire season. But for now, I’m enjoying all this climate change.


  1. larryarnold
    larryarnold November 8, 2018 8:03 pm

    So go buy a new long heavy-duty outdoor extension cord.

    Last month I went to our Gibson’s Discount Store. (Old-fashioned locally-owned “hardware store.”) I asked one of the helpful clerks for electrical tie-wraps, and picked up a package of small, 3″ ones.
    “Whatcha needum four?”
    “Well, actually I need them to find the package I have at home that I put where I could be sure not to lose it.”
    “Gotcha. Bringum back ifn it works.”

    Ten minutes after I got home, I found the first package, right where, at the moment I put them there six months ago, I would know where they were. It’s not worth a trip to the store to take them back, so now I have two.

    As you said, two is one.

  2. Jim Price
    Jim Price November 8, 2018 8:36 pm

    Would you mind sharing the name of the cheese?

  3. Arthur M
    Arthur M November 9, 2018 2:09 am

    RE: The Honda: Manually drain the tank as dry as possible (squeeze bulb, aka “battery syringe filler” at Amazon, probably cheaper at a local auto parts emporium), then run engine until it stops. Pro Tip: when it begins to falter, cycle the choke on/off/on/off/etc. to keep it running as long as possible.

    When it stops, remove the side access cover (one large-headed screw at the top of the panel) and locate the carburetor float bowl drain screw (it’ll be on the bottom of the bowl and have a clear plastic tube attached to it which extends out the bottom of the generator). Open the screw about 3-4 turns, being careful to not remove it all the way. Whatever fuel remains in the bottom of the bowl will drain out. When draining is complete (20-30 seconds, maybe, but waiting 60 won’t hurt) re-tighten the screw firmly but gently.

    Replace access cover, set engine control knob to ON (large black rotary knob near the bottom) put choke to FULL ON, pull starter cord vigorously several times. Turn engine control knob to “OFF.”

    To recap: you’ve now emptied the tank and fuel line, run the fuel out of the fuel line and carburetor passages, drained the small amount of fuel in the carb bowl that sits below the fuel pickup in the carburetor, and by attempting to start it with the fuel system empty and the choke full on, used engine vacuum to remove all the fuel from the internal carburetor fuel passages.

    The generator can now be stored. When put back in service, first check the oil level (which should be done anyway each time it is operated), fill the tank, turn engine control knob to “ON” (that knob also turns fuel flow on or off in addition to the engine electrics) wait 60 seconds for the fuel level to “adjust” in the fuel lines, put choke full on, pull starter handle vigorusly. It will take – probably – 4-6 pulls to get a completely “dry” engine to start.

    2nd Pro Tip: Tripp Lite (there also may be other mfgs) makes multiple outlet strips in 8, 12 and 15 outlet versions, in 15 amp and 20 amp capacities, and AFAIK, all have 15 ft cords. I recommend the 12-outlet 20 amp version. Expensive, but worth it. When you buy a new cord, if it’s a 100 footer, go with 10 gauge all copper wire (FYI, be careful on your selection – what’s showing up in stores is Chinese copper coated aluminum wire, especially true with auto jumper cables). A 10 gauge all copper wire cord will be very pricey, but it will work for anything you need to pipe electricity to, won’t suffer the “distance voltage drop” smaller gauge wire will, and it will be something your great granchildren’s kids will still be using.

  4. Claire
    Claire November 9, 2018 5:04 am

    “So go buy a new long heavy-duty outdoor extension cord.”

    I will if I can’t find the other. But have you priced those lately? It’s not a trivial item. If I do have to buy one I might spring for a lighted one.

    Here’s one for half the price, but it’s not as heavy-duty

  5. Claire
    Claire November 9, 2018 5:10 am

    “When you buy a new cord, if it’s a 100 footer, go with 10 gauge all copper wire (FYI, be careful on your selection – what’s showing up in stores is Chinese copper coated aluminum wire, especially true with auto jumper cables). A 10 gauge all copper wire cord will be very pricey”

    Thanks for the advice, Arthur M. I didn’t know that about the copper-coated aluminum wire. Not good!

  6. James
    James November 9, 2018 7:07 am

    No apology needed … hey, naked is good!

    (Wups, I didn’t say that, really. It wasn’t me … it was my eeeee-vil Y chromosome. Yes, that’s right. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!)

  7. ~Qjay
    ~Qjay November 9, 2018 10:35 am

    My wife will share that Cougar Gold with you. There’s a popular Irish Cheddar that tastes the same to me, for much less money.
    I can’t remember the name at the moment, but I’m sure someone will.

  8. Claire
    Claire November 9, 2018 10:51 am

    If you remember that Irish cheddar, Qjay, or if somebody else knows, I’d like to hear about it. Cougar Gold is spectacularly good, and I love its crumbly texture and long life. But yeah … pricey. And good grief — government-made cheese!

  9. Shel
    Shel November 9, 2018 10:58 am

    Thanks, Arthur M. I had thought draining the carburetor bowl and emptying the tank would be enough.

  10. Claire
    Claire November 9, 2018 1:23 pm

    ~Qjay — Kerrygold Dubliner? Murray’s Irish Cheddar?

    These are both about the same price as Cougar Gold, though.

    I get Kerrygold’s grass-fed butter when I’m in the Big City and feeling up for a wild indulgence. But I’ve never had their cheeses. Or Murray’s, either.

  11. ProGunFred
    ProGunFred November 9, 2018 6:20 pm

    How does a lover of cheese, a budding food snob, and an admirer of large cats all rolled into one not know about Cougar Gold Cheese? This is a travesty. Have I been living in a cave? It gets worse, this Cheese is world famous or something, a winner of both national and international awards. Am I a Martian? Was I in a time warp? This is serious. I’ve got some investigating to do here.

    I’ve really gone over line lately with sheep’s milk yogurt and goat’s milk feta. A nice American cheddar sounds good. 22 bucks for 30 oz is not crazy out of line for a quality cheese either.

    Let’s see, who could get me some of this stuff for Christmas…

  12. Arthur M.
    Arthur M. November 10, 2018 1:05 am

    Claire, more on Timothy Leary Devices (“existential cords…..”). If serious amperage over distances is a requirement don’t rule out making your own cord. An electrical wholesaler (check with The Monk to see if he has any supplier connections that may produce substantial discounts) will carry SO cable in different AWG (American Wire Gauge) gauges (the “S” indicates suitable for severe usage, the “O” indicates oil resistant sheath; it can also be found in “O”only).
    Maximum amperage capacities for all-copper multi-strand cable, FWIW:

    16 gauge 10 amps
    14 gauge 15 amps
    12 gauge 20 amps
    10 gauge 30 amps
    8 gauge 40 amps
    6 gauge 55 amps

    More strands in the copper wire is muchly more betterer; electrons travel on the surface of the conductor so more strands = more capacity for a smaller diameter, also more flexibility (which is why good welding cable – electric welding is a very high amperage environment – has lots and lots of very small strands and priced to reflect it).

    As for cost, my local Home Depot sells 10-3 SO for $1.38/ft, a quick internet search turned up $.99/ft with a 50 ft minimum, plus shipping. A local or regional electrical equipment wholesaler will probably fall in between those points.

    Plugs and receptacles: Since in household applications one deals with single phase power – one power-delivering conductor for (nominal) 120 volts – a 3-conductor cable works fine, and NEMA specs (National Electrical; Manufacturer’s Association) show 3-conductor connectors (plugs and receptacles) for up to 50 amp capacity (If your house has (nominal) 240 volt service it has split-phase or dual-phase service – each phase (A and B) delivering (nominal) 120 volts, coupled together producing a total of 240 volts; look at your electric dryer or stove, the connection will have 3 conductors – Phase A, Phase B, Neutral (Phases A & B deliver the power and the Neutral returns the power to complete the circuit loop; grounds are a separate wire, and in residential applications, neutral and ground are interconnected in the distribution panel which is why the Neutral in 240V can serve as a ground).

    So, with 30 amp capacity in the cable – 10-3 – it makes sense to have 30 amp capacity in your connectors, but it’s not strictly necessary. the NEMA 5-30 connector is single phase (one power conductor) but won’t accept your “regular” household plugs (which are 15 amp NEMA 5-15 plugs); the solution there is a short adapter cable with a male 5-30 and female 5-20 plug for one end, and a similar adapter with female 5-30 receptacle and male 5-20. Or, just use a 5-20 plug and receptacle.

    Just in case, Ohm’s Law describes the relationship between amp, volts and ohms (EX: volts X amps=watts; watts/volts=amps); in the garden hose analogy, volts=water pressure, amps=gallons per minute, ohms=internal resistance to flow of the hose.

  13. Claire
    Claire November 10, 2018 8:22 am

    Timothy Leary Devices (“existential cords…..”)


    Thanks for the additional info, Arthur M. I won’t end up making my own extension cord, but no doubt somebody reading will.

    I did spend some time looking at cords and finally settled on the one I’d buy if I were going to buy one:

    Twelve ga. Lighted end. Fifty foot. Triple tap for plugins. And it does have solid copper wire despite the Amazon listing not saying so. (I found the manufacturer’s site, which has a picture of the packaging and info.)

    Then I found my missing cord, tidily coiled in the attic.

  14. Claire
    Claire November 10, 2018 8:27 am

    Have I been living in a cave?

    Have you? If you have, I’ll invite you to write guest posts about your wilderness survival experiences. 😉

    But as to Cougar Gold cheese, you probably just haven’t been shopping at government university websites — and more credit to you for that.

    I will say, though, that in addition to being all that a great white cheddar should be, Cougar Gold, because it comes in cans, is a decent medium-term storage food. The longer you keep it, the sharper it will get, but it should last for several years in the unopened can in the refrigerator.

  15. ProGunFred
    ProGunFred November 10, 2018 12:51 pm

    The notion of a can of Cougar Gold just sitting around doesn’t even register in my puny brain. Best to get 2.

    I turns out that I wasn’t in a cave, I have been pursuing, off and on, local Appalachian products.

    I found this honey that comes from the first valley at the foot of the western most side of the Smokeys/Cherokee mountains, Del Rio, TN.I still can’t describe it but this is what happens when you eat it. A first taste leaves one wondering if it’s honey. It’s not exactly sweet. Is it smoky? Is it lightly sweet but caramel-ish? And you think; well, that’s not how I remember honey tasting, so you ignore it while doing other things..but 20 seconds later the teaspoon is involuntarily inserted into the Mason jar and then into your mouth again. It’s not long from then that it crosses your mind that you have Got To Stop Just Eating It Out Of The Jar For No Reason!!! It ain’t honey from a plastic bear bottle. It’s excellent on ANYTHING.

  16. Jim Price
    Jim Price November 10, 2018 1:04 pm

    I had never heard of Cougar Gold until a friend gave me a can for Christmas about 25 years ago. (great friend) It’s wonderful stuff . . . ambrosia. I currently have an unopened can that’s been sitting in the fridge for 6 years now. It might be time to open it since that same friend is coming for a visit next week. I’ll try to remember to let you know how it is after 6 years. I expect it to be just fine.

    My usual procedure when I open a can is to divide it into 3 pieces and vacuum seal 2 of them and freeze them. Since the cheese is already pretty crumbly, freezing doesn’t seem to change it at all. But it won’t spoil and, being out of sight/out of mind, it lasts longer.

    I also have a still sealed brick of the Tillamook extra sharp that’s been in the back of the fridge for 5+ years. Should be extra extra sharp by now. You and I, Claire, seem to have similar taste in cheeses.

    As far as extension cords go, you really don’t need a 10ga cord. That’s extreme overkill for what you’re using it for. A 12ga will carry far more amperage that your Honda can produce, and it will be lighter and more pliable than a 10, not to mention cheaper. I have a couple of 10s and rarely use them. The 12s and 14s are adequate for nearly anything a homeowner is likely to be doing. I have a pile of both.

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