challenge

Replacing a toilet

July 27, 2018 challenge, family, generic, systems No comments

After a long time, we replaced our toilet last week. The old one didn’t work well for years and years!

We found these two videos helpful, showing in detail how to remove a toilet, replace the wax ring, and then, install the new one. The second video also comes with written instructions. The videos made it look quite straightforward, and so they were very encouraging; and it did work out quite well. It took just about 2 hours.

But here, I provide numbered steps, to follow along one-by-one, as a detailed plan. This way, you will always know what to do next—which can often be tedious, and the most challenging.

1. Empty space next to toilet, clean, etc.
2. Prepare space to lift old toilet to (Step 16)
3. Put new toilet in place to lift from
4. Flush (old) toilet
5. Wipe down toilet
6. Clean bowl, etc.
7. Turn water valve off
8. Flush until will not flush anymore (remember Step 7: water is disconnected)
9. Disconnect water hose
10. Plunge bowl
11. Sponge bowl dry
12. Scoop out water tank, sponge dry
13. Scrape off silicon connecting bottom of toilet to floor (if needed)
14. Lift lids of screws on the bottom / sides
15. Unscrew the bolts that fix the toilet to the floor
16. Lift toilet out
17. Remove the two bolts
18. Scrape out existing wax gasket
19. Clean floor which was underneath the toilet
20. Place new wax gasket
21. Place new bolts (upside down, on sides)
22. Lift new toilet into place. Make sure back is parallel to wall, level perpendicular and parallel to wall
23. Weight down to smoothe out the wax connection
24. Tighten new screws on bolts
25. Connect water, test flush
26. Cut off tops of bolts (saw)
27. Place lids on bolts
28. Connect new seat
29. Test flush
30. Clean up

This is an optimistic list; if anything goes wrong (e.g., at step 13, 18 or 29), you’re on your own. Our new toilet is just a one-piece, so I didn’t cover the case of a separate water tank.

Bezos using the I-words

December 13, 2017 challenge, economics, systems No comments

I came across a more or less generic interview with Jeff Bezos, the founder of “amazon,” a few days ago. It took place in May this year; they chat about management questions, how to run a business, this and that, etc.

But at one point he uses the I-words: impossible and inconceivable.

It is impossible for me to imagine a scenario, where ten years from now a customer comes to me and says, “Jeff, I love amazon; I just wish you delivered a little more slowly.” This is so inconceivable, …

Here’s the link to the quote in the youtube video, jumping right ahead. The context is that the “leader” of a business should “identify” 2 or 3 “big ideas,” and “enforce great execution against these big ideas.” Here, since this scenario is so “impossible” it is easy to dedicate a lot of energy to working on fast delivery. At some other point in the interview he enumerates what he calls the big ideas at amazon, the “consumer business”: low prices, fast delivery, and vast selection. (On the other hand, he is quoted with a different set of 3 big ideas, as well.)

Such a strong conviction and judgement about what is not possible is not common in my world. I almost feel like I go out of my way to avoid talking like that, and so do my friends and colleagues and people I hang out with.

So this morning scenarios popped into my head, of what he deems impossible:

  1. Let’s say you’re at the other end of the world, and don’t want the delivery to happen until you have returned home. Then fast delivery would be undesirable.
  2. Or: your house is full, and that couch you are ordering will not fit until next week, you’re not ready till then.

So in these two cases (or call them “scenarios”), you would like amazon to deliver a bit more slowly.

Surely you can think of other scenarios?!

(Disclaimer: I don’t do any shopping at amazon, and encourage you to avoid them as well. No brown boxes in our house! I’m actually astounded how excited people are about them. You can find a few reasons starting from these search results for boycott amazon from duckduckgo.com)

Alcoholism: The Sinclair Method

November 14, 2017 challenge, economics, food+drink, generic, systems No comments

As far as I can tell alcoholism is quite a terrible disease. I think I am ok, but I used to be addicted to smoking. I stopped smoking two and a half years ago. I’m glad to not be addicted anymore. But recently I came across a treatment for alcohol addiction. I found it compelling, so I wrote this up this short article!

It is called The Sinclair Method, developed by Dr. John Sinclair in the 1960′s. I’ll try to describe it in a few words: You may have heared of Pavlov’s Dog and what is called “Conditioning”. So the bell rings and the dog salivates because the dog is trained to expect food when the bell rings.

It turns out that Dr. Pavlov also found a way to uncondition the dogs. This happens when the stimulus is presented without the reward. As wikipedia writes, “when a conditioned stimulus is presented alone, so that it no longer predicts the coming of the unconditioned stimulus, conditioned responding gradually stops.”

The Sinclair Method consists in the addicted person taking a drug which makes it so that when they drink alcohol, the brain does not perceive the reward as it was without the drug.

In other words, the Sinclair Method thinks of alcohol addiction as a learned behaviour that can be unlearned. The unlearning takes the “fun” out of drinking. But once you’re addicted and desparate, you may find that not much of a loss. And the drug is otherwise said to be harmless.

I found this approach quite convincing. (It appears the drug does not help with nicotin addiction).

The drugs are called Naltrexone, Naloxone, and Nalmefene, keyword “opioid antagonists”.

The Internet has a lot to say about this method. Please read up:

Reddit has a few related forums:

Thanks! Hope this helps. Please do send me any feedback about this if you have!

a challenge II

February 14, 2009 challenge No comments

What is behind a door on which is written:

FLEVATOP

a challenge

January 13, 2009 challenge No comments

Here’s a very difficult puzzle; it might take a day or more to solve it, I would think.

What is this?

A A A B A D A E A G A H A I A L A M A N A R A S A T A W A X A Y B A B E B I B O B Y D E D O E D E F E H E L E M E N E R E S E T E X F A F E G O H A H E H I H M H O I D I F I N I S I T J O K A K I L A L I L O M A M E M I M M M O M U M Y N A N E N O N U O D O E O F O H O I O M O N O P O R O S O W O X O Y P A P E P I Q I R E S H S I S O T A T I T O U H U M U N U P U S U T W E W O X I X U Y A Y E Y O Z A

Answer: next week.