Plumbing, Gophers and Ghost Towns

This past weekend was a pretty productive one.  We have had a leaky faucet in our kitchen for some time now.  The garbage disposal under our kitchen sink had a crack in it that the previous occupants had “repaired” with duct tape which had also begun leaking.  When we had a professional plumber out here to look at the situation, he balked at even touching it without bringing it up to code.  Nothing in our house is up to code.  The house was built decades before such codes existed.

So, after much procrastinating of my own, The Kitchen Sink Project could no longer be put off.  Esther’s brother Clint came over and evaluated things and we talked.  Esther and I talked.  Finally, Esther and I went to Menards with a list of things to buy.  We knew we wanted to replace the trap under the sink but we read that s-traps were no longer code.  We couldn’t use a p-trap because the drain pipe went into the floor instead of the wall.  Also, none of our plumbing is vented.  A book we found on plumbing offered a solution which involved building a small locally vented riser that you could drain into with a p-trap.  It looked like a good solution so I bought the stuff required to do it.  I had never worked with PVC and solvent welds before but it looked easy enough.  We looked at new faucets and picked a Moen that was one of the pricier models there.  We figured that last time we went a little on the cheap side and regretted it so we held out hope that the new faucet wouldn’t leak or have low water flow (two problems that plagued the old faucet).  We went with a 3/4 HP Barracuda garbage disposal which, to me, seemed like a minor bit of overkill.  We don’t put much down the disposal and that thing looks like you could use it to dispose of a body.  But, as became clear later, much of it’s bulk is because it’s nicely sound proofed to run quieter.

There was metal drain pipe coming up from the floor under the sink and I wasn’t positive how best to connect to it so I bought two options.  When I got home and started removing the old pipes it became clear that the metal pipe was just sort of jammed into a plastic drain pipe downstairs and therefore was completely pointless.  I removed it and wound up just connecting the PVC to the black plastic stuff in the basement.  Also, I found an elbow that was not welded together properly in the basement and fixed that.  The disgusting muck that was in that pipe will haunt my dreams until the end of my days.

By the time everything had been removed from under the sink, the new drain pipe (with vent!) was solvent welded together, the new garbage disposal was installed, a new sink drain was installed and a new faucet was installed, it was pushing 10:00.  I had made a few runs to Menards to return this or pick up that but I had basically done a good job with the initial pick list of parts.  Things were looking solid.  It was the moment of truth.  Esther turned on the faucet and, lo and behold, no leak!  Excellent water pressure!  Lots of flow!  The pipes didn’t fall apart!  The disposal ran!  Everything worked as planned!  Much rejoicing ensued.

The following morning I went downstairs to inspect my handiwork.  It felt good to have accomplished a task like that, something I had previously considered to be beyond me.  I looked under the sink.  Uh oh.  Drip.  Drip.  Drip.  The p-trap was leaking.  Out came the wrenches and some teflon tape and 10 minutes later, no more leak.  No leak the next day, or the next.  I guess that shouldn’t have been too shocking.  Nothing is ever perfect.

Riding high on my success as a Mario Brother, I decided Sunday was a perfect day to make sounds in the Nuclear Gopher so I headed downstairs with some coffee and started playing the guitar a bit.  I had an idea in mind that I would record an Abbey Road style medley of a bunch of songs that I’ve partially written in the last 3-5 years but never recorded.  I wrote down a list of titles.  I can’t remember how many there were.   13 or 14, I think.  I started figuring out the chords for one of them and then got distracted playing with a silly little toy synth I have called a Korg Monotron.  My god that thing is great.  Noisy, spacey, delay and feedback and woop woop woop,  Before I knew it I was hitting record and 20 minutes later I had a bed of crazy synth sounds to play with.  I’m not sure why I thought the next thing to do was to take this little stereo-condenser microphone I have that connects to an iPhone and walk around the house and the neighborhood for 20 minutes recording whatever sounds took place.  So, that’s what I did.  Went out to the driveway, walked around the street, came back in the house, played with the dogs in the yard, made some coffee, basically recorded a bunch of found audio trivia.  At one point the dogs barked really loud.

I pulled that audio off the iPhone and put it on my laptop and overlaid it with the synth.  Then I duplicated it and offset the copy by a minute or so.  Then I applied two very different delay effects to each track.  One generated low, droning, scary movie style sounds and the other high, weird, jarring sounds.  I put the low delay track into automation write mode and did a track of playing with the feedback and delay time knobs, essentially performing the delay plugin as a synth instrument.

By this point I was thinking, hey, RPM Challenge is this month and I need 35 minutes of music.  This is 20 minutes of sound (I hesitate to call it “music”).  It just needs to be 15 minutes longer.  So, naturally, I slowed it down until it was 15 minutes longer.  Voila!

Now I really had something.  35/36 minutes of droning space synths, insane delay effects, coffee grinders, traffic, and dog barks.  Perfect.  Miley Cyrus will want to record a cover, no doubt.  What else could I do?  The obvious next step was to grab a guitar, plug it into my trusty Pod HD500X effects unit, and record start playing with the looper.  OK, so, that wasn’t the obvious next step.  I thought I was done with the thing and thought I was moving on to playing guitar for fun, but when I found some chords and a little riff I liked and was having a good time with the looper I thought, hey, let’s try all this together and see.  I liked it.  So, I went ahead and recorded that.  A bit later I noticed that there were parts of it where something almost like a song appeared briefly and laid down some drums.  At this point I was tired and that was a good excuse to stop.  Applied a little phaser and delay and reverb to the drums, a little AX to the master channel, rendered stem tracks, put them on GDrive and invited Michael and Ben to contribute to the mess if they felt so inclined.  I called it Nininger after the Minnesota ghost town near Hastings, which was a failed city planned by the charming but slightly daffy Ignatius Donnelly back in the 1800’s.

That, my friends, is a weekend.

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