I finally decided to give up on Kubuntu and return to Fedora. (For those who may be confused by this, Fedora and Kubuntu are both Linux distributions).

I have been using Fedora (or its ancestor, RedHat) since 1995. I switched to Kubuntu when I got my new laptop, but it doesn’t work the same as Fedora. Maybe I’m getting old and set in my ways, and I just don’t want to learn something new. Or maybe… I just liked the way Fedora worked.

There were a few things on Kubuntu I never did manage to get working. Chief among them was the automounter (which automatically connects me to network drives on other computers). I also never figured out how to get it to run a custom script during startup. Which meant I always had to run it by hand.

Today, it refused to connect to my company’s email server. I’m still not sure why it did that, but it was the last straw. I bit the bullet. I installed Fedora 10. And of course, there were complications, which I resolved by installing it three more times. But it seems to work now, and I’m now seeing what Kubuntu had that I am going to miss (the speaker-mute button is one of them).

But let’s back up. The alarm went off at 6:30 this morning, and I groaned. I did not want to get up, but the driveway was still under three inches of snow. Va got up too and went downstairs to check the answering machine. School would open two hours late. So I went straight back to bed and slept until 8:00. Then I got up and cleared the driveway. Naturally, whenever I use the snowblower, I end up having snowblower anecdotes to relate, and today is no different.

The throttle was a little stiff. I was able to push it into the open position with some effort, but I was not able to push it back. I figured the cable was clogged with ice or something, and that it would loosen up when the engine warmed it. I cranked it up and got to work. It was really cold this morning, and the choke wanted to be a bit more open than usual, so I set it that way. Once the engine warmed up though, it wanted the choke closed down again, but stupid me didn’t think of that. I just kept running it as it kept wanting to die (but never did). I never gave the choke a second thought. As I finished the job, I headed back to the garage with the snowblower. As I neared the door, I cut the throttle. Or not. It did NOT loosen up like I wanted it to. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may recall that my drive clutch is also stuck in the engaged position. And now so was the throttle. I fought the rising panic and manhandled it around, pulling out a U-turn just in time. Then I reached around the engine and disengaged the master clutch and wondered how I could shut this thing off. I opened up the choke (and that’s when I realized that the engine prolly wanted me to adjust it a long time ago). But the engine sputtered on. I went in the garage and grabbed a hammer, which I used to bang (lightly) on the other end of the throttle control. I was able to get the cable unstuck and shut it down.

Then I moved my car out of the garage, cranked up the blower again, and “drove” it into its parking space, throwing the master clutch as I neared the wall. Whew!

I just know that if I bought a new snow blower, it would work great for a couple of years, but when it broke it might as well just be thrown away. Lawn equipment seems to be built so shoddily these days that the manufacturers likely consider their wares disposable. And that galls me. So I will keep tinkering with this one. It’s been running since about 1971, so I’m sure I can coax another decade or two of usefulness out of it.

I guess I need to take the throttle cable off and give it a good soak in some WD-40 or something. I also need to rig up a handle for the master clutch. And replace some of those bolts that hold the scoop height adjusters in place.

When I got to the office, it was about 12 degrees in my office. I suffered with that for a little while, and then turned my attention to my window. My window has those idiotic slats in it that can be cranked open, and pretend that they can be cranked closed. It USED to also have a storm window wedged into place, but it didn’t quit fit. A couple of years ago, the business downstairs from us was stripping their floors, and the fumes were just rolling into my office. So I made the mistake of trying to unwedge that storm window so I could avoid asphyxiation. That’s when it shattered. I called Joan, and Joan called the landlord. He came in and picked up the glass. Job done! Except that the slightest breeze had no trouble finding a course around those ill-conceived slats. I was told that the landlord was getting ready to replace all the windows and that I should just be patient. Well – that was three years ago, and I still have the same crappy windows. When the first winter set in, I got some packing foam and stuffed it up against the slats. Then I got some cardboard and taped it in place over the foam. In other words, I have a cardboard storm window now. For three years.

Cardboard Storm Window

Cardboard Storm Window

Problem with that is that the tape never wanted to stick to the aluminum frame. I grabbed my pinwheel, which I use to indicate gale conditions, and stuck it in the edge of the cardboard. It spun as little bits of powdery snow zipped through its vanes.

I reasoned that the aluminum frame was just too dirty for the tape to stick. I went downstairs to the manufacturing lab and got a sheet of sandpaper. It gummed up immediately, because the aluminum had been painted. So I grabbed some scissors and employed them as a make-shift (but quite effective) scraper. I scraped it down to bare metal, then sanded it. Then applied the duct tape. Which doesn’t want to stick to the cardboard. I might have convinced it to stick for a half day or so though – we’ll just have to see.