Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Wednesday, 7 August 2002

# 12:50 AM

Went back to the vacuum cleaner place.

Me: I have a [brand] vacuum cleaner and it started spewing this burning smell...
Clerk: Because the beater had seized up and burned out the drive belt, so you need to replace both. Lemme see what kind of beater it was.

So I showed him, and he went in the back and got me a new one. Happens all the time, he said. He also showed me how to clean hair out of the bearings before they seize up (after they seize up, you're hosed). The aftermarket beaters have an improved end cap that's supposed to stop the hair from getting into the bearings quite so easily. I haven't yet tried it out though.

On the way there, I stopped to watch Fulton Street (alias Oxford Street) being repaved. Asphalt is an interesting substance: it comes in a truck, as a pile of slightly sticky gravel/sand/tar mixture, which can be moved around with a shovel. Heat it up and squash it, and it becomes a solid. That is all the road-paving machine does. The trucks dump a trail-like pile of asphalt down the area to be paved. The paving machine comes along, scoops up the pile, spreads it evenly over the road, heats it up, and squashes it. (I think the middle two things happen in the opposite order. It's hard to tell just from looking at the outside of the machine.) Poof, road. Then they come round with the grader and make it all even, later.

Road repair machines always remind me of a short story I read once. It's called Mary Margaret Road-Grader. The full text is online at Strange Horizons.

In other news, Bruce Sterling's speech at OSCON 2002 is well worth reading. (Scroll past all the contest entries.)

Kasuri Dyeworks turns out to sell only cloth, not finished pillows.