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Camp Meeker Beat - March 2017

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Camp Meeker Beat - March 2017

by Tom Austin

We made it through February! Hooray! Yes, it was a wet month.  Dutch Bill Creek was a raging brown maelstrom most of the month, but it resulted in no calamity for Camp Meeker. That puts us ahead of Big Sur, Guerneville, Santa Cruz, and most of the central valley.  It’s true that a small chunk of Bohemian Highway slipped into the creek downstream of us, leading to a small concrete obstacle on the way to Monte Rio.  But, knock on wood, there’s more rain coming. To quote every surfer everywhere, it has been both epic and brutal.

Winter is when we hunker down.  I have spent much of the last few weekends hunkered down in my easy chair, thinking about how I could get some more warmth in my house.  My furnace was acting funky – first air but no heat, then heat but no air.  Since HVAC engineering falls under my mechanical engineering training, I figured I could easily troubleshoot, diagnose, and repair.  The thing that moves air is the blower motor, so therefore the blower motor must be at fault here.   Okay, call one of those west county plumbers who can navigate the narrow streets, and it’s my old buddy Skip, a fine musician when he is not repairing furnaces.  Skip’s trained musical ear quickly noticed a sound not unlike a functional blower motor and pointed this out to me – somehow my own musical ears had been talked over and persuaded by the mechanical engineering monkey brain that that sound was coming from something else.  Skip asks “do you have a crawlspace under the house?” -at which point I lead him down there.   Poke a flashlight into dark but yet somehow toasty warm space and see the bottom panel of the plenum dangling in the considerable breeze of my furnace at full roar, spilling my joules into the crawlspace and not into my house.  Some plumber, I.  

What to do, what to do? I checked in chapters 1, 3, and 7-10 of the Man Book and they all said “this is a job for Duct Tape.” Now it’s true that all Man Jobs that do not require WD-40 require duct tape, but now I’m doing honest to gosh duct repair!  Duct Tape for its intended purpose!

I will cut to the chase: Duct Tape is, somewhat surprisingly, really really bad at repairing ducts.  I will be fair and admit my craftsmanship may have been faulty.  The previous application of duct tape had lasted for nineteen years, mine about nineteen minutes.  I tried four or five times with about an hour and a half of total success before I decided to consult another expert, this time my good Humboldt buddy Bob the Handyman.  He told me (and the smart guy at Pierson Hardware in Eureka CA). That what I want is called “metal repair tape” and it’s not on the strictly-for-amateurs duct tape aisle.  It’s over in the plumbing section, don’t you know.  But I also got a can of Goof Off, the recommended product for removing gunky duct tape residue from the previous dude’s nineteen year masterpiece.  Despite getting it wrong at every turn until smarter heads prevailed, I’m quite proud of the bounteous cfm’s of warm air cascading from my ventage. 

Ah, heh heh, guess I got off on a bit of rant there. I know there’s more to Camp Meeker than my navel-gazing plumbing adventures.  It’s just that my crawlspace is most of what I’ve seen of Camp Meeker lately in the daylight.   Lots of away time working, lots of home nap time recovering. I promise next month will be much more journalism than this month’s solipsism. 

What I would love to write about would be Camp Meeker’s musicians.  I don’t care if you’re a jaded touring pro or a humble back porch picker.   What do you play? When do you play it? Who do you play it with?  IF you think about it, sylvan glades like ours have the potential for a real Songcatcher energy.   Back porch jams have a way of wafting through the trees that makes it sound like the music is coming from everywhere and nowhere.  Maybe us musicians should know who else is out there.  My email is on the masthead, so give me a jingle in the key of B natural!