Monday, April 23, 2007

For Earth Day, a Gas Leak!

Yesterday was Earth Day. I hadn't planned anything special. But our house decided to celebrate by burning out one of the compact fluorescent bulbs in the kitchen and - this is the fun part - getting a small gas leak going in the dryer! I was late getting laundry started on Sunday (like 8 pm late) and when I took the towels out of the dryer where they had sat overnight, they smelled VERY STRONGLY of gas.

We have a gas dryer (and stove, water heater, furnace...) so I was pretty concerned. The smell was really only strong inside of the dryer. I opened the window (at least the weather was nice) to air out the bathroom. Then I called the gas company. It took a few times to get past a busy signal, but then it took a while to get through the voice mail system. (I'm glad it wasn't a dangerous emergency...) In about a half an hour a technician pulled in the driveway. He comes in with a fancy piece of equipment that has a sniffer on the end and sounds like a Geiger counter when it smells gas. So what is the first thing he does when he gets to the bathroom? .... He sticks his head in the dryer.

A few minutes later he's narrowed down the problem to the valve inside of the dryer. It is easily accessible if you pull down on the lower panel in the front of the dryer. Apparently the manifold doesn't shut off the flow of gas when it is supposed to anymore. He shows me a manual shut-off for the valve and says that we can keep using the dryer safely, we just have to shut the gas off manually when we aren't using it.

If we can find the replacement part for a reasonable price, we should be able to fix the dryer. If not, we may be appliance shopping soon. (Washer and dryer are Roper brand, came with the house, and are probably 20+ years old. They owe no-one.)

I learned a few things on Sunday:
-Visits from gas company technicians to investigate a gas leak are free.
-The dryer has a panel in the front that is easy to open, and you can see the fire in there when it is running.
-I shouldn't have spent so much time with my own head in the dryer trying to decide if I needed to call the gas company. I got a headache that didn't go away until this morning at work.

In general the weekend was full of ups and downs. A special-occasion dinner at our favorite restaurant was disappointing because they changed the menu from fancy food to bar food. (BAD) We had friends over for the first grilling of the season on Saturday. (GOOD) I walked for 6 miles with another friend on Sunday in a forest preserve and we got to catch up on girl-talk. (GOOD) I ended up with unexplained red blotches all over my arms and legs afterward. (BAD) They stopped getting worse once I showered, and went away by the end of the night. (GOOD) The dryer misbehaved (BAD) which meant I couldn't do laundry (BAD, no, GOOD). And on and on....

Saturday, April 7, 2007

It's Better Live

When life stops changing drastically every four years, time can start slipping by without making much of an impression. Recently I've become aware that going along in my rut (it's a good rut, but still, I'm doing the same thing week after week) isn't letting enough fun into my life. So I'm making an effort to jump at chances to have new experiences interspersed day-to-day.

Last weekend I took Sara up on her offer (see comments to previous post) of going out to a college acapella competition downtown. I've been in choirs and choruses for the majority of my life, but I wasn't quite enough of a chorus geek to be aware of this particular sport. Apparently at some larger colleges (larger than Rose, at least, which was the same size as my high school) groups of students get together and practice acapella songs to perform and compete with other groups. It isn't barbershop, madrigal, Latin chanting, or do-wop. These songs are arrangements of popular music, where there is still one or two main vocalists and the rest of the choir is taking over for the instruments, including the drums. I was really impressed with how many different sounds can be made by the human voice. Each choir did about three songs, and the soloists switched off. Some numbers had choreography, which was like watching just the musical numbers from a school production. The funny thing was when the "instruments" suddenly sing something in English to supplement the number. (My favorite was during that "You oughta know" song, after the soloist said "till you die, till you die, but you're still alive" the rest of the group says "Why don't you die?")

It was a really long night. I left home at about 4 pm, took until 5:45 pm to get downtown to the restaurant. The show was scheduled to start at 8 pm, but didn't get going until 8:30 pm because people were still arriving. Then they had to stall in between sets to let the judges tally their scores. 6 groups for 15 minutes each, a 15 minute intermission halfway through, and THEN the judges took their dear sweet time deciding who was going to win. The host group, Northwestern's Purple Haze, ran through their entire repertoire. Then the had a "beat box" contest. Then they pulled another choir out of the audience who happened to be there ("Is there an acapella choir in the house?) so we heard two songs from Boston College's Bostonians before the judges were finally ready. By the time the night was over and I was back at my car it was after midnight. I actually hit traffic on the way home because of construction, so I got home at 1:30 am. Driving to downtown Chicago... grrr...

My favorite band of the night, the xtension chords, was selling CDs after the show so I bought their most recent one. It's called "Instrumentally Challenged" and I've listened to it twice. Nothing really wrong with the CD, but I have to say in general that this type of music is really better live. I'd certainly go to another concert, but I don't think I'd buy another CD. The excitement isn't captured. The complexity of the human voice isn't captured, and their great acting and stage presence certainly didn't show up on the audio recording. (They got 1st runner up to another band that I forgot the name of.)

So in all it was a really fun evening with Sara, Tony, and Amanda. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to step out of my rut for a while!


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