Sunday, June 03, 2012

Slave to the pool

It's been a bad year for pool maintenance so far and it's only June.

I am 4 for 4 on replacing electrical motors used for various and sundry pool purposes.

1. My portable water pump shorted while underwater for the winter and had to be replaced so I could empty the hot tub. Solution: buy a back up sump pump for the house that can do double duty.

2. The Filter pump worked but screamed like a dying Apache. Constantly. The bearings had rusted. Solution: Replace motor portion with an off brand from a local discount pool supply place.

3. The Polaris pool cleaner, but what I can only imagine was peer pressure, screamed like a dying Apache. Again, bad bearings. (It's never good sign when you turn on  a motor for the first time in a season and it just sits and humms). Solution: scour the Internet for a best price solution, enter my credit card and hope for the best. A whole pump assembly arrived Friday - Just in time for the weekend!

4. The heater failed heat. This is where I was sure that the  solution would not be a motor. The blower blew, the gas came on - briefly, and then as quickly as it started, would stop. Start -stop, start-stop. I after more internet scouring I found a few simple trouble troubleshooting steps and was in the middle of trying them when the blower made a tremendous CLUNK, rusted parts flew out of the top vent and then it went quiet. Quiet in a gas hot tub water heater is bad. After a brief investigation I found that the squirrel cage fan assembly was completely gone and all that was left was what looked like a rusted paint can bottom - the remainder of the bottom part of the fan. I thought the worst of course - that it had taken out the motor during the CLUNK. The motor still turned - thankfully but after scouring the Internet I found some bad news: the manufacturer only sold a whole blower assembly including the ... wait for it.... working motor. Uggghhhhh.

People used to ask me if maintaining the pool was hard or expensive and I would dismissively wave me hand and say "No, you just buy chemicals and throw them in". That was because the pool was new! Just wait. It'll get hard and expensive. It's just a matter of time.

The good news is that are no other motors for the pool.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Chancellor has broken her foot.

This means that getting around is difficult and so even a simple things like a trip to buy Danish for her ladies church group turns into an adventure that involves me.

Her meeting was Tuesday morning so that meant going out Monday night. I thought that she was responsible for all the food some how and so that's how ended up at BJ's. I was thinking quantity.

Problem 1: You have no idea how huge BJs is until you have to walk across it with some one on crutches and in a boot. Fortunately, I was thinking ahead when I found the "kiddie car" shopping cart in the parking lot after dropping her at the door. The "kiddie car" model is a regular BJs cart, which has to be 50% larger than your average shopping cart, with a bench on wheels bolted to the back.

This makes it about as long as '62 Buick Electra.

So on to the bench she went and we were off in search of flaky baked products stuffed with fruit.

The Danish, off course, are in the furthest corner of the BJs and so I pushed the Exxon Valdez and my passenger miles to the corner of the BJs. She had to come because she had to pick out the Danish and so she picked.

We put the Danish into the vast, empty cart and I pushed the cart with the Chancellor and now the Danish to the checkout where the clerk then shook the Danish upside down looking for the UPC code, ruining the appearance of the Danish.

Back I went to the Danish sans cart and Chancellor. I picked out an identical Danish package and returned, exhausted, to the checkout. We placed the single package of Danish in the back of the SUV and drove home.

Wasn't I surprised to find the Danish back on our counter at the end of the day of the Ladies group, less exactly 1/2 a Danish. Great. I'm on Weight Watchers and now I have a tray of Danish sitting around staring at me from the counter saying "eat me".

I put them in the refrigerator and the next day they went to work where I know the locusts will come and consume them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Watching someone unrelated to me cut my grass

Because of my recent illness, I am, for the first time ever, paying someone to cut my grass.

I have always cut my own grass. Before having my own home, I cut the US Navy's grass and before that I cut grass at the Granite Run Mall in Delaware County, PA and even before that I cut my father's grass.

I have along history of cutting grass and up until now I thought I enjoyed it, but I have to tell you it might be awfully easy to have someone keep cutting the grass.

Can only recall two extended periods when I did not cut my own grass.

1. After gall stone and bladder surgery in 1997. For two weeks in May of that year, the Chancellor cut the grass here in Mount La-La. After the first cut she came back in the house and had two things to day:

- What was your best time?
- Does the handle have to vibrate so much?

I told her this is not a competition and that I had never timed myself but I guess it took me an hour. She proceeded to tell me that was because I stopped and wiped my brow before each turn. I explained to her that I come from a long line of brow wipers and roughly translated, that is exactly what our name means in the original Italian -  "He who wipes the brow" (it used to be "He who squints from sweat" but that was before the invention of the moppine.)

As for the vibrations, that just comes with the territory.

2. When my kids took over. Sort of.
Nothing will improve your prayer life like having your 14 year old start cutting the grass. Especially ones that are future Italian and Philosophy/Anthropology/major to be named later majors. These are all good things to study (with the possible exception of something called Anthropology of Food which is in Youngest Son's course load next semester - but I digress). Let's just say my kids were never the most mechanically minded or inclined. I was forever thinking that they were going to reach under the mower or adjust the wheel height while holding the "dead man" bar on the handle to keep 'er running. ( This is not as uncommon as you might think, I actually worked with someone that did this - a grown man for crying out loud. Imagine what stupidity a 14 year old can come up with a whirling death machine when compared to a grown - albeit stupid - man).

Besides this a generation that thinks the internal combustion engine is a magical device that never needs gas or oil.

Ohh and they sucked at the actual "cutting of the lawn"  It wasn't incompetence as much as apathy - they just didn't care if an entire strip of grass in the middle of the lawn was missed. Frankly, I was ecstatic it was done - in what ever condition.

I think they spent more time selecting just the right playlist on their iPod then they did pushing a mower.

Other than these times (and there may be a few more like when we went on vacation or something) I've cut my own grass but these guys do such a great job. They trim.(Trim!) and edge. (Edge!)

Also, they beat the Chancellor's record by at least 15 minutes through the use of more manpower and better technology. It's a win-win.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I'm in a timeout.

A Pause.

A Rest

A Caesura 

I'm on Short Term Disability until Tuesday.

My days are peace filled and quiet. I'm just watching spring flourish everyday here in Mount LA-LA. The cherry trees are flowering, the Magnolia is growing leaves and the grass is growing so fast I can almost hear it.

I was surprisingly tired the first few days of last week. I still have the Double -J Ranch/Stent in between my bladder and kidney which makes for fun after drinking large amounts of water and I still have the staples in my leg but other that that you might say "You look great".

And people do say that. "You look great" is what my neighbor said after she knocked on the door and told me the dog had escaped and I told her the whole tale of the previous week.

It's just me and Shadow all day long and she is still giving me the silent treatment after years of leaving her alone after I left for work.

The Chancellor and I have had a role reversal of sorts. She was given work hours in abundance this last week into next and so she is one setting the alarm, getting up and rushing out the door. I wait at home and when the time is right, I make dinner.

I'm usually the one rushing out and home in time for dinner.

Last night I made dinner and then waited for her to come down. I almost felt like a house wife waiting there, thinking "where is she and doesn't understand that I went through a lot of trouble to make dinner" while she did what ever upstairs.

The shoe is on the other foot.

I always thought that if I had a lot of time off that I would get "a lot done". Not true. I did finally hang that under counter LED light in the kitchen where the wire stuck out of the wall for 6 months and I got a hair cut but really, I have long list of things to do. The day just evaporates. Before you know it, it's 4 PM.

If you are in the neighborhood, stop by.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Well I'm in ICU and I'm told I'm the first to come to ICU with their own iPad. I made the Chancellor give it back to me in post-op.

The surgery went well and the surgeon was able to save the interior iliac artery which means my butt won't fall asleep for life.

The surgery was 3 hours and I didn't go in until nearly 3 PM so I was out at 7 something but didn't get my room until 10:30. I didnt sleep well - who can in ICU? There was a guy next too me that was spitting up either blood or cranberry juice, the nurses couldn't decided and so there was a little drama at 3 AM. I'm guessing it was cranberry juice since the drama subsided quietly.

Then of course the lab people wake you up at 6 am to draw blood. With the lights on. Which I guess makes sense since they are sticking you with a 25 gauge needle. I know because I asked, she had Me a little worried when she had to tell herself that the numbers get larger with smaller gauges.

Generally I'm doing well and expect a parole board hearing today for my release. The Dr told me it will be at least 2 weeks before I'm back in the office. We'll have to see about that if I'm up and blogging today.

The incisions hurt a bit and I'm tired but other than that I'm ok. Thank you Lord.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Homeless man

So how did your Monday start? I was woken by the nurse telling me to freshen up because they would be here to pick me up for my stress right away. She had told me the test was scheduled for noon so I had been preparing for at least another relaxing morning in the pants less hotel.

I didn't have much time to "freshen up" because the lab folks came right around to draw blood.

I need now to take a moment explain what I look like at this point.

- I haven't shaved since Thursday morning.
- "freshening up" meant dragging a comb across my head and brushing my teeth.
- I have a surgical gown on.

Basically, if you saw me outside, I'd look homeless.

Looking like this I was whisked off the stress test in Nuclear medicine. Now nuclear medicine is basically the waiting room for cat scan.

It's 7 am, I'm in a wheel chair, I look like I'm homeless and now I'm sitting outside my wife's office.

All in needed was a cup.

You should have seen the look on the Cat Scan supervisor's face when she came around the corner.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Psalm 91

I read the book of the Bible named Psalms. I'd like to be able to tell you I read that book everyday but that wouldn't be true. I do my regular reading and if there is time I read Psalms.

My method is to use a Julian calendar to determine which Psalm to read. That means if it's the 91st day of the year I read the 91st Psalm. Since there are 150 Psalms if the Julian date is greater than 150 I subtract 150.

Did I mention I am an Engineer by trade?

Today is the 91st day and this is the 91st Psalm. This spoke to me very directly tonight.

Psalm 91

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,

10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Another day in the pants less hotel

Well surgery one is done. Technically it is called Cystoscopic surgery where they take an endoscope and retrieve the stone. Like I lost it or something. (While you are in there can you look for the TV remote I lost in 97 and my claw hammer?)

The Dr. Said something about using a laser and tiny claws and baskets and I'm thinking "up there? Really?" claws?. This isn't exactly the Lincoln Tunnel you know.

I woke up to the Dr. shaking a little pill bottle saying she got it. They broke it in half and then brought it out. All I knew was I had to go the bathroom so I was getting up and going.

From the table.

They stopped me of course and and told me "it just feels like you have to go". I don't know about that, I just have to go and I kept telling them that. I have to go. It was like a bad dream where no one believes you.

Waking up in post op here is like waking up in an office full of people. The place was festooned with Phillies gear and people were across from me reaching into box for some kind of food I think. I don't know I was a little groggy.

I woke up very chatty too. I felt like I was doing a comedy act or something.

Where's everyone from? Mount Holly? I just flew in and boy are my arms tired bah-doom-bah.

Eventually they let me "go". My word did that ever hurt and lets just say it wasn't the right color and be done with that whole discussion right there. Suddenly the whole claws thing made more sense too.

I slept well and and fine now.

The next surgery is scheduled for the first thing Monday morning so I have a weekend stay here at the pants less hotel.

In the mean time I think a few clarifications are in order. I did not have a blood clot, I have an aneurysm (which I'm getting much better at spelling). An aneurysm is like an over inflated bicycle tube which can be over inflated for a long time and the one day you have a blow out. A blood clot is different and I'm not qualified to tell you what one is. Google it

I did not get a stone from a hoagie that Gail bought at the Bruce concert. It takes years to make a stone that size. The hoagie only pushed it over the top. Just kidding Gail.

I'll keep every one posted.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I'm in the hospital overnight. Yesterday at this time I was screaming and dancing at the Springsteen concert in Philly. Some days you never know what life is going to throw at you.

I had a little trouble ah ah making water Sunday night. It felt like my bladder was full but instead of the floodgates of the deep, all I got was trickle.

Being a man, I thought the best approach was to "walk it off" because rubbing dirt on it made no sense what so ever and so I went about with life. This particular week life had a concert at the Wells Fargo.

Well Thursday morning brought a large cup of coffee and mucho pain. I spent most of the morning running to men's room (door button badge, button badge door) And by 11 I said "no mas".

Unfortunately I was a walk, a train ride and car ride from home. By time I was home I was doubled over in pain and it was clear that "walk it off" wasn't going to cut it.

The chancellor works at a nearby hospital and so that was my first choice. Off we went the emergency room. I had the forethought to grab the iPad. Really. I'm doubled over in pain like a screaming animal in a trap and my first thought is "grab the iPad honey" sad really.

Off to cat scan where it quickly turned into " take your husband to work day" since that is the very place The Chancellor works. ( she was great to have there, really great)

The cat scan reveled a large stone - one as a fifty something year old man, I was as likely to pass as give birth to.

The cat scan also showed a iliac artery aneurysm which it turns out is as scary as it sounds. Thanks to the iPad, I was able to google it right there. About half way down the page is a blog titled "Dad died today". Check for yourself.

Suddenly "life is but a breath" had a whole new meaning.
Job 7:7
7 Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;

I honestly felt like God had allowed the stone to see the aneurysm.

So the pained passed, I was admitted and now I have a fun day of tests and surgeries in the morning. I'd appreciate prayer. Honest prayer. To God. Thoughts are nice. Good vibes are good. But honestly I'd prefer that you pray. If its for me great but I'd ask that you pray.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

You're the 1/2 Ounce Slice Cheese Guy.

Today at the deli counter is asked for a 1/2 pound of cheese and instead of the ambiguous "sliced thin" I asked for precise 1/2 ounce slices.  Not Troy Ounces, Grains, Singapore Taels or Klingon Ghmeeels- Ounces, as in 1/16 of a pound.

Why did I do this? I'm back on Weight Watchers and 1/2 ounce of cheese is 1 point and I want my value for my point.

I told the young girl behind the count that 1/2 ounce is 0.03 pounds on her scale (well technically it's 0.03125 but 0.03 would be close enough). I also told her that there should be 16 slices to a 1/2 pound. I gave her all the answers.

Still, she was baffled. Math. It's hard.

She went back and consulted with a colleague. I could see her mouth "half ounce slice". Now the colleague was baffled too and I was on the cusp of "a scene".

How thick of slice of deli cheese is exactly 1/2 ounce? That was the question.

She came back to me and I could see where this was going. She was going to deny me my 1/2 ounce slices but behind her I saw another deli counter clerk slicing cheese. They looked close to my 1/2 ounce.

There! like those, I said, pointing.

She cut me a 1/2 pound.

Later while finishing my shopping I saw one of the deli counter clerks on the store floor. We gave each other a smile but I could tell what she was thinking.

"You are the 1/2 ounce slice guy".