Monday, July 31, 2006

Aqua Nemesis

This, my friends, is a Dolfino Aqua-Leisure Steel-Set pool. It's 15' wide, 4' deep, and holds a volume of water approaching 4,500 gallons. That puts its theoretical weight at 45,000 pounds.

It's big, it's heavy, and it's fast becoming the Summer's offical Backyard Hangnail.

But let's start at the beginning. For the past 5 Summers the kiddos (Jedi Boy and Band Geek) have splashed around in a smaller Aqua-Leisure pool. It was (yes....was...) one of the pear-shaped soft-sided jobbies that have become de rigeur in suburbia. It was a pain, frankly. Always a hassle to setup and position just so on the level crop circle that was it's home year after year. Always the fear that it wasn't quite level and would creep amoeba-like towards low-ground in the weeks after fill up. Always never quite sure if there was too much or too little chlorine and algecide (damn those test strip things anyhow!). And always the extreme hassle of emptying it, cleaning it, folding it, and getting it back into the Rubbermaid lawn coffin that was its home.

This Summer, Aqua-Leisure #1 finally died. Oddly misshapen after its years of service, I enthusiatically dragged it to the curb one fine day for the garbage collector to transport it across the River Styx.


But the promise of a hot Summer and the doe-eyed pleadings of the kids meant that I was bound to replace the pool. Hence Aqua-Leisure #2 - bigger, badder, wider, deeper. It seemed to be a snap; unfold it on site, thread the 12 cross-poles through the pockets at the top of the liner, and connect the twelve down-poles to the cross poles. The kids and I had it assembled in 15 minutes. Then, just add water.

A quick pseudo-physics lesson: 45,000 pounds of water, while largely supported across the bottom of the pool, will still generate considerable force on the down-poles. Just for fun, add torrential rains every other day to soften up the ground. Now, let's add a randomness factor to how soft the ground will become under each down-pole. Now what do you suppose the results might be? Why, of course! The down-poles will sink anywhere from 1" to 3" into the ground!

If you've been paying attention, you'll already know that this sinkage will further result in a pool that it somewhat 'not level' - with bonus points for having 45,000 pounds of water sloshing dangerously against one side. On one hand, this is a prime candidate to win a prize on America's Funniest Home Videos. On the other hand, the threat of a pool full of kids suddenly forming a backyard tsunami is likely a bad thing - roll for damage, as they say.

So, after filling the damn pool (what will the water bill look like?) I was compelled to drain it and put blocks of wood under each down-pole - using varying thicknesses of blocks to level the pool and disperse the weight so as to discourage sinkage. Finally, add another 4,500 gallons of water and enough chlorine to sear the skin off any filthy kid that comes a-calling on a hot afternoon. Inevitably, all this work had to be done in sweltering 100C heat and humidity.

The end-result you can see in the photograph - a seemingly well-behaved pool to keep the kids cool and red-eyed for weeks to come. So far, so good. After 2 days there's no sinkage, no leaning, no dangerous sloshing. One of the down poles on the low side of the pool has developed a bit of a tilt, but nothing untoward (yet).

Lord, just get us through the next 4-6 weeks.
I promise I'll add chlorine, etc. on the recommend schedule.
I'll skim grass, bugs, and unidentifiable fuzz from the water's surface.
Just keep it all together, wouldja?
Then I get to tear the thing down for another winter.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tardy Boy

Now there are shades of meaning to Tardy Boy. Your choices:
  1. A terribly unclever putdown based on a variant of 'tard'; as in "what a (re)tard he is!".
  2. Recognition of a lack of overall timeliness in personal and professional matters.
  3. A character from a wildly unsuccessful series of Young Persons mystery novels written by Franklin W. Dixon's younger and lesser-know brother, Stan
If you guessed (1), you likely found this site by accident and it's also likely you believe Oscar Wilde produces a line of luncheon meats.

If you guessed (3), your trivia knowledge is reasonably impressive, but not quite (the rest of you should refer to Wikipedia).

Which leaves us with the correct answer of (2) and my sincere apologies to my legions of regular readers for a lack of new stuff as of late. No excuses are offered other than, "I've been busy". While my fingers have made only the most fleeting contact with my keyboard this week, I do have a mental backlog (insert the obvious joke here) of posts that may/may not entertain and/or bore you all.

Some possible posts in the days ahead may opine on such diverse subjects as:
  • why I'm mad at CBC Radio
  • how landscapers make me feel inadequate about my body image and my choice of fashions
  • how to have fun with 45,000 pounds of water
  • the awesome responsibility of having too many books
  • 'NSYNC had 4 guys who weren't gay?
  • and many, many more!
For now, time grows short as the hours grow long. But I'll be back. Oh yes, I'll be back....

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Recently Read

Further in my serial brain dump of apres-vacation posts, I managed to plough through a few novels in between dock repairs, paddle-boat trips, and all the other busy-ness that filled the past few weeks. What follows are not so much reviews as they are my slighly vapid impressions of the books I managed to read. I'll leave the real reviews for real writerly-types...

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is the lastest novel from Canuck SF writer Cory Doctorow. I highly recommend this book, but I'm at a loss to fully explain the story here. You'll probably dig this book dig hot babes who sport wings.... you're interested in wireless Internet access..... foul-tempered undead things are're intrigued about how a washing machine and a mountain could mate and produce offspring. While the story, itself, is pretty bizarre; the characters are compelling and touching enough to make the whole thing work.

jPod comes to us from somewhat-legendary Canuck writer Douglas Coupland. I wanted to like this book. I really did. The first few chapters were pretty satisfying and made me believe this book would kick ass.

Alas, jPod sucked ass.

Too precious for it's own good and it reads like a bad amalgam of Coupland's previous novels. I really cannot add anything else here other than to refer you to Sean Twist's spot-on review. Nuff said.

Historian David Howarth has elegantly summarized 1500 years of British naval history into just a few hundred pages in British Sea Power: How Britain Became Sovereign of the Seas. This book is simply friggin' amazing. Howarth knows his subject well and weaves the facts into fascinating accounts of the major events in British maritime history. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for swashbuckelling sea stories and any insight into the inner-workings of ship-life before the dawn of the Industrial Age, so it's pretty much a given that I'd like this book. But, in fact, I loved this book.

You Can Beat City Hall

A few posts back I mentioned a recent parking ticket I was lucky enough to receive. The Coles Notes version: still 1 hour left on the meter, ticket unfair, couldn't dispute ticket based on my vacation schedule colliding with city policy for disputes, paid the $15 fine with an accompanying 'cheeky' letter to the city.

Now that we're caught up..... upon sifting through the post-vacation mail, I found a letter from the city addressed to Yours Truly. First reaction; my letter's slightly sarcastic tone pissed off someone downtown. Upon opening the letter I found that my $15 cheque had been returned along with a letter explaining that the parking meter was faulty. Yup, apparently the city's crack meter technician checked things out and determined that the meter was faulty at the time of my alleged parking infraction. I'm a bit puzzled at how this jives with the fact that the meter still displayed 1 hour of time when Meter Reading Guy issued the ticket. I won't even comment on the time travel implications around determining how the meter was faulty at a precise moment in the past.

Logic aside, my ticket has been rescinded, I have my $15 back, and one more faulty meter has been restored to pristine time-keeping condition. It all feels pretty good to me.

What? No Party?

Well, I'm back after a 2 week hiatus and this place hasn't changed much. I'm guessing I need a focused campaign to:
  1. Provide more edgy, compelling content - but that means I need focus and...ummm...content?
  2. Advertise my wee corner of the Net a little more. Goal: Have this blog appear at the top of the list for all Google searches for 'crazylegs'. Baby steps, always start with baby steps.
While my 2-pronged marketing plan refines itself in the back of my brain, I'll fill the vacuum with a few meandering thoughts about my 2 weeks at The Family Cottage - provided I can shout above the din of crickets chirping and wolves howling under a lonely full Moon.
  • personal electronic devices (such as my iPod) are invaluable when spending any time in an outhouse. Extra points if it's the middle of the night and scary sounds are all about.
  • what did we do before Bell ExpressVu? There's something wonderfully bizarre about being in the middle of nowhere and pulling down 500 channels.
  • 2 weeks without Internet access is cruel
  • baby Ravens are bigger than you'd think and can actually swim for short distances however unintentional it is...
  • Harvest Moon on a Gameboy SP is sorta cruel, too. This only makes sense if you've played Harvest Moon on a Gameboy SP.
  • Band Geek can swim better than I can. In a related vein, I have no problem using the pink pool noodle as a primary flotation device.
  • there's no such thing as a crappy chore if you're doing it beside a body of water (yes.... I was repairing a dock recently)
  • Internet access redux: Using a cell phone to browse the Web is stupid - unless you're doing it from an outhouse, of course.
  • food always tastes better on vacation, but I find I eat less. What gives?
  • I can't hold my breath under water as long as used to....
  • crappy chore corollary: any work done in sweltering heat that requires concentration and the use of both hands is, inevitably, perceived as a buffet invitation by biting insects of prehistoic proportions
  • whatever we build, Nature will wear it away given half a chance
  • Mead (as in wine mixed with honey) is actually pretty tasty stuff!
  • No one - and I mean no one - looks good with a diving mask on their face
  • avoiding the news of the World for 2 weeks is a good thing. Finding out how the World can change in those 2 weeks is a bad thing.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

This Is It - For Awhile

For the next few weeks I'll be sequestered away up on Georgian Bay at The Family Cottage. Actually, it belongs to my wife's family. Lest anyone think I'll be sitting in a Muskoka chair offering Corona-toasts to the loons, think again. The cottage is almost 40 years old, working-class, and in constant need of TLC. As the designated "marry-in" on premises, I'll be spending the next two weeks digging up grey-water tanks, replacing deck boards, levelling doorframes, or whatever else needs doing. On top of all that, there will be (gasp) no Internet access for the next few weeks! But you know what? I like the change.

At all times I am cognizant of my readership's needs (all 3 of you!) and in light of my extended absence from the Blog, I offer the following odds-n-sods:

Our washing machine is in need of repair, so I've been doing some research on what I can do to get it back on its feet. Turns out that the washer needs a new set of 'agitator dogs' (about $7 worth). If I ever learn to play an instrument and form a band, we're going to call ourselves The Agitator Dogs. That would be cool.

I got a ticket a few days ago while parked at a downtown meter. The fact that there was over 1 hour remaining on the meter seemed to elude the Authorities. Fully intending to dispute the ticket (on principle, which is an expensive thing to have), I discovered that London doesn't really encourage disputes. I have 15 days to declare my intention to dispute in person at some city office during the oh-so-convenient hours of 8:30am to 4:15pm (Mon to Fri). Given the vacation schedule, my choices are to postpone the cottage trip or pay the fine. I hope the City puts my $15 to good use. I did, however, write a cheeky letter to the City and Mayor Ann Marie.

I'm bulding a water-rocket, but I'm stymied by PVC piping. That is, I need some Schedule 40 PVC pipe to construct the launch mechanism (just trust me on this). While this material is abundantly available 'south of the 49th', it is apparently a rare commodity here in Canada. It's something to do with the building codes, I think. This stuff cannot be found in London, except from a plumbing wholesaler who cannot (and will not) sell it to me since I'm not a professional plumber. As silly as it seems, I can buy the stuff on-line from a US retailer. I'd rather buy locally, but it looks bleak. If anyone knows a back-alley here in London where shadowy drifters sell illicit Sched 40 PVC, let me know.

Raumpatrouille (Space Patrol) was a German TV space opera that pre-dated Star Trek. I learned this on the Internet. Here are some clips for you to enjoy.

Next time you hear someone say, "Go to hell" - point them this way. I don't know why I love this site so much, but I do.

Thinks that's it for now. See y'all in 2 weeks or so.....