Day 147, repair cafe

Sunday, 4/28/2019

Woke up early, too early to go to the coffee shop. They bake their own pastries and the good stuff doesn’t start coming out of the oven until 7:30 and later. So I did the NYT crossword puzzle at home, as in the old days. Then to coffee and read the rest of the paper.

Back home it was soon time to head out to a day of work at the Palo Alto Repair Cafe, one of my favorite volunteer activities. I and my apprentice, Ritchie, had some quick successes. Box fan that doesn’t work: take off the grille so we can see the inside and very obviously one wire of the power cord was dangling free of the switch. That was easy.

I must say, Ritchie has a degree from Stanford, a doctorate in astrophysics from CMU, and is working at NASA, yet he was ridiculously deferential to me and my vaunted repair knowledge. A couple of other easy fixes seemed to cement my reputation, but then we got the microwave from hell that used up two hours with no fix.

The youngish client had picked this microwave up where it had been abandoned in a school dormitory. It behaved oddly in the following way: plug it in and all seems fine, it beeps and the clock waits to be set. But now, open the door. The interior light comes on, that’s ok, but also the rotator motor in the base, that rotates the glass plate inside, starts when the door opens, as does the cooling fan in the back that cools the thyratron or whatever that tube is. When you close the door the light goes out and the rotator dish stops and so does the cooling fan — and they remain off, even if you start the oven heating. So they are just backwards, on when they should be off, and off when they should be on.

We screwed around with it and then I called in Lawrence who is the main organizer of the event and a veritable God of appliance repair. He fiddled with it for half an hour, which is a lot because he is in constant demand for consultations during these events, and didn’t make any progress. Finally we decided that very likely, somebody had messed with the wiring, there was a wiring error somewhere, and nobody wanted to take on the job of finding a wiring diagram online and tracing all the connections to see what was wrong. So button it up and give it back.

When I got home at 4pm I texted Chuck to see when I needed to vacate so he could show the house as he thought he would, and he texted back, not today, they didn’t call back to confirm.

So I relaxed, made a little food — my eating habits are getting more and more casual, this time it was bacon and an egg and a protein shake — and chilled.

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