Know The Drill

Do Not Try This At Home. Do Not Try Something That Looks Even Vaguely Like This At Home.

Deadlines were passed and I could at last return to the furniture restoration. Working in the sun, I was making fine progress with a new fancy flappy sanding attachment. And then my drill decided to start stopping.

Bugger. Checked the cable, it didn’t seem to be that. This job might be non-urgent but I can’t really afford to be without a drill – or, to replace it right now. Nothing to do but strip the thing. It seemed to stop working when held at certain angles so I worried that the bearings were worn, allowing the moving parts to slide around excessively and foul – that is, hit something they ain’t meant to hit. My drill is old.

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Fortunately though it’s a Bosch, nicely robust and built with a view to maintenance. Eight screws and it’s open. Here be the innards; the yellow bit on the left is the trigger and speed control, the white bit holds the carbon brushes that transmit current to the moving core of the motor, the black part is the torque control, and the big grey lump on the right is the outer, non-moving coil of the motor.

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And here’s the core of the motor and the gearing, placed back into the casing without the parts that should surround it so that I could check that it moved smoothly and looked right. It did. The mystery deepens; nothing appears to be wrong with this drill.

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Here it is all cleaned and reassembled. As you can see in the video up top, it runs. But only sometimes… This was infuriating now. Hours of re-checking and tweaking later, I finally realised.

It was the cable all along. Though I’d looked to that first as the most obvious thing, I hadn’t checked it thoroughly enough. The fault was intermittent – a  break in a wire somewhere near where it entered the handle. Which of course caused it to stop only when held at certain angles… And it shouldn’t have been a surprise; the rubber boot thinger meant to prevent too much flexing at precisely that point had worn out years ago. I cut a few centimetres off the cable, rewired it, and remade the rubber boot thinger.

It now runs perfectly. So, good to do some maintenance on an essential tool of course. But basically I lost most of an afternoon and the whole evening because I’d leapt right in instead of being slow and methodical. I’d like to say that life taught me a lesson here, but to be honest life keeps trying to teach me that one.

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Ain’t it spacey though?

They Found Our Cloud, Dammit

IrelandCloud
Picture whipped without any hint of permission whatsoever from Irish Weather Online – hope they don’t mind. Click image to visit their Facebook page, full of climatic gossip.

Well damn. They had to go and find it, didn’t they?

The cloud, the huge one that usually sits neatly over Ireland. They finally tracked it down yesterday – see picture – and must have dragged it back last night. Probably the farmers did it. Those thirsty, thirsty farmers.

So today was the first non-rock-splitting day for over a week. I got up early and thought it was just a morning mist, so often the harbinger of a solar barrage to come. But it never lifted.

Perhaps I should be glad. It was really hard to concentrate in the sun, and yesterday I was researching an article on Big Data and Human Resources. If that means nothing to you I won’t spoil your happy innocence for now, I’ll just say that it was a bit on the technical side, requiring more concentration than I could easily muster. In the end I gave up and switched to a job that actually required a trance-like meditative state. Until the sun went down I stayed in the garden with my shirt off doing a thorough job with an electric sander on that piece of furniture I’m restoring.

The sun meanwhile was doing a similar job on my skin. It feels leathery and itchy today, which somehow seems contradictory. Another reason why I should really be glad it’s overcast. But with the help of the cool and twelve hours of almost unbroken writing I did get my article finished.

Now night has long fallen. It’s quiet – except for a neighbour’s donkey letting out the occasional long, lonely bray. That must be about the most heartbreaking non-human sound in all the world. I’m sitting up late, upgrading a friend’s Mac. As you do. It seems to have worked – which is a relief as I went straight from Tiger to Snow Leopard without any intervening Leopard, something that’s not officially possible.

And I have all the windows open, in the hope of making more flappy friends. I think I’m getting exclusively the tiny, buzzy, feeds-on-blood kind of friend though. But it doesn’t matter, I’m doing it just for the atmosphere really. The insect-laden atmosphere. When I was a child I lived for several years in a caravan, and that made me intimately acquainted with the beasts of the rural dark. We basically couldn’t keep them out. So having them around again is just kind of nostalgic. It’s not proper night air unless it bites.

More Food Porn

FishDish
Tonight’s dinner: Mystery Fish on a Bed of Pilau Rice .

As I mentioned, I bought a mixed lot of frozen fish so I’m not actually sure what this is. Whiting I think though. Grilled on a tray rubbed with butter, with a few leaves of fresh basil and mint in top. Why basil and mint? Because those are the ones I have growing in pots in the kitchen. I have them growing in pots in the kitchen because they smell so good. Lay it on a bed of simple pilau rice, serve with a little soy sauce, and that’s really all there is to it.

About the simplest meal possible, yet the result is somehow magically delicious. You don’t often hear of mint being used with fish, but I was very pleased with the flavour combination.

Seriously, someone needs to marry me.

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And this is nothing but a chicken what I roast. A lot of course for one person; I was having it in omelettes, stir fries and salads nearly every other day for the next week. I show it here mainly because I am really damn proud of the photograph. Chicken is a natural model.

Belief In The System

English: Lucinda Creighton, TD
Anti-abortion Minister Lucinda Creighton, who resigned rather than vote for her own government’s bill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So in the wake of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy, the Irish government rushes through legislation which… Would have done nothing to avert the Savita Halappanavar tragedy. We are left to explain this to a mystified world.

What they’ve done is take advantage of the mood to enact law that has been missing for two decades. In the X Case the Supreme Court found that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, introduced by anti-abortion campaigners to create a right to life for the unborn equal to the life of the pregnant woman, had the weird but logical consequence, where a pregnancy threatened both, of requiring abortion to be legal.

No government however had the political guts to enact this – until now. In the meantime we were left in an untenable limbo where not only was the law in conflict with the Constitution, but it was unclear whether or not one could save a woman’s life without going to prison. Medical professionals probably did intervene in ways that resulted in the death of foetuses, but had to do so almost clandestinely, studiously avoiding words like “abortion” or “termination”. We don’t know if this fear, uncertainty and doubt contributed to Savita’s death. (We may after the malpractice suit.) We do know though that the new law still does not allow the termination of a non-viable pregnancy like hers, an operation which she requested and which would have saved her life. The life of a foetus – even one that cannot survive – is still legally equal to hers.

So if the general thrust of this legislation was simply to clarify what the Supreme Court’s judgement had already made legal reality, why was there so much concerted opposition? There are a few reasons, the most prominent being that the danger of suicide was considered by the court to be a threat to life. Anti-abortion campaigners see in this a trojan horse. Soon women would be claiming to be suicidal to get an abortion when they weren’t really suicidal at all, merely desperate enough to pretend to be.

Yes it is all a bit strange.

But when it comes down to it, the main reason is of course belief. The Eighth Amendment was thirty years ago. In these slightly more sophisticated times, few admit to being motivated purely by religion. Dana, speaking on Tonight with Vincent Brown, weirdly attempted to justify her anti-abortion views with science. An embryo is a person because “All the DNA is there” – as if a plan is the same thing as the finished building.

Having a preconceived belief and misrepresenting the facts to fit it is of course the precise opposite of science. Complete opposition to abortion requires a supernatural mindset. You have to maintain that from the very beginning, the developing foetus has rights separate from and (at least) equal to those of the woman it is developing within – a difficult position to hold unless you subscribe to the idea that humanity arrives complete at the moment of conception by some miraculous process.

Which, as it should happen, is what Catholics and some other conservative Christian groups teach.

People are entitled to their beliefs of course. A huge proportion of Irish women could but do not avail of abortion services overseas, precisely because they have this outlook. Beliefs become a problem though when you try to make other people live by yours. You don’t have that right, even if you are a minister or TD. Especially if you are a minister or TD. All that can ever be enforced is what a society, by overwhelming consensus, accepts as necessary. And our law on this issue no longer reflects any such consensus. Perhaps a majority still believe that human life begins at conception, but few even of those are so dogmatic as to insist that this early life is equal in importance and humanity to that of the woman it abides within. Experience has shown this to be not a reasonable precept but a dangerous religious dogma foisted upon us by extremists.

The government did do right, but it did the least possible right. No one was ever really in favour of the Protection Of Life During Pregnancy Bill, few are celebrating its passage. It’s just a workaround, a patch for the contradictions that will ensue from enshrining the equality of women and embryos in a Constitution. There will be more horrific situations, there will be more bad and unworkable law that no one really wants, until the day comes when we finally have the courage to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

(Apologies to mailing list subscribers who were accidentally sent a much earlier draft of this post.)

 

Brighter Days In Ireland

Irish tradition.Hurling
Father and child playing hurling on the beach, or uneven duel with cudgels (Photo credit: Godo-Godaj)

A hot day in Ireland – more special than Christmas. That feast arrives once a year, like it or not. Hot weather is significantly less dependable. If it comes at all, you know not the day nor the hour. Where the wind and the water currents of the Atlantic collide with land, weather is about as predictable as a fruit machine. So hot days are precious.

Which is why I gave up any idea of getting work done and went swimming. I had no choice.

It was lovely at the lake. The water hasn’t got very warm yet, but it was fine for swimming. Mostly young people there, throwing themselves and each other in. Some had brought hurls and sliotars (hurling balls) and were practising in the water. The ball landed near me at one stage and I threw it back – or tried. Ever thrown something while floating in water? It’s weird, and largely unsuccessful. I was throwing myself backwards as much as the ball forwards. Embarrassing.

I was impressed though by this positive attitude. Galway lost the Leinster Championship final yesterday, to underdogs Dublin. (No Galway isn’t in Leinster – it’s a long story.) Some might have wanted to forget about hurling for a while after that, but here these young guys were not just practising, but apparently developing an entirely new tactical approach that involves flooding the pitch to a depth of over two metres.

It may be romantic optimism brought on by the weather, but I see hope for the future in that.