June 20, 2012

It's a Good Thing I'm Cute

So lately I've been obsessed with my backyard. Specifically my one corner where I put the kids' pool. Over the last several weekends I've been slogging away in the backyard trying to make it a little more functional, and a little more aesthetically pleasing to stare at whist I'm barbecuing.

Here, in all its glory, minus some grass seed (going down this weekend after the heat wave) is what I ended up with:

Ta da!
Click to enlarge.

So, a brief explanation before I get to the reason for sharing this post. The pool sits where a shed used to sit (I moved it to the corner by the house & out of the way to free up backyard, but leaving behind a dirt pile). So I cut out a bit more, dropped a retaining wall down and a tarp and some anti-slip mats. Tossed some rock in the back (not pretty, just rocks) with a couple urns with tall grass in them (hard to see, but they're there). Put a small bush/tree thing and some wood chips beside the rocks (also hard to see the bush/tree) then some peas, some pumpkins, some peas, more wood chips and another one of those bush/tree things (I dig rectangles and symmetry). Add a box for toys, the pool, the pump, and voila! Oh yes, can't forget the GIANT tennis ball. Water logged 6 year old optional.

The pool is an 8 foot round, self inflating thingamabob. It comes with this shitty pump and some chemicals to keep it from getting algae and some chlorine to keep it from infecting the kids with bacteria or something. It holds 2300L of high quality H20 and takes a bugger of a long time to fill up - at least in the kids' minds it did.

That black contraption on the fence just by the skimmer? Oh yes, that's my "heater". We affectionately refer to it as "the contraption". It's a black garden hose with some plumbing parts chemically bonded to each end so they fit into the hose for the pool. I used "The fucking strongest adhesive we sell. Don't get it on your hands". This is precisely what the 15 year old at Rona said to me when I asked him for "Something like caulking that I can get wet that holds like a sonofabitch".

The water is supposed to snake its way through the black hose cable tied to a lattice piece also painted black, get heated by the sun, and output to the pool. A couple problems with this setup were clear from the first minute:

  1. The pump was screaming like its ass was on fire
  2. The water was not moving very quickly through anything and the pool was getting stagnant
  3. The filter in the pump works better if the water is moving through it at its designed speed
After a couple weeks what I appeared to have was a not-so-awesome looking 2300L of brownish water that was a fraction of a degree warmer than without the contraption. Plus, I'm not exactly sure the contraption's super caulking wasn't slowly leaking chemicals into the pool.

So, tonight I lay the contraption to rest and decided to check the water quality with the strips they give you. A bit too much chlorine (overcompensation is the likely culprit) and a little alkaline. Easy fix. Add more anti-algae stuff (couldn't hurt, right?), lay off the chlorine for a bit, and add more water. Wait a couple days and see what happens.

I put the hose in the pool and turn on the water. I had a few inches of wiggle room before I hit the "do not fill past this line" line. I left the hose to do its thing and went upstairs to read my daughter her book.

Lo and behold, I completely forgot about it.

When I did finally remember what I had done I ran outside and the pool was about to crest. Quite the meniscus on the damn thing even. It was awesome. I didn't take a picture, but I should have. It was a freaking thing of beauty. Could't help but think, "now what?"

Well, I'll tell you what. I decided to drain some water. There had to be a reason to not go beyond the "do not fill past this line" line. I then had a flash of brilliance. I would use one of the hoses from the pump to drain some water. Not wanting water to pour out of the spot where the hose used to be connected I did what any backyard level genius would do: I lifted the pump up above the water level. I was totally using science! [mumble] years of university have never felt so worth it.

So far so good.

Only, I needed another set of hands and my wife would most certainly not come out and help me. She already was ticked I forgot about leaving the hose on. So I did what any backyard level moron would do. I put the pump down.

On the edge of the pool.

Not so gently.

Well wouldn't you know it, the top of the pool caved quicker than it took me to yell out an expletive and a complete shit-ton of water poured out of the pool at breakneck speed (assuming the neck being broken was some sort of small rodent or large insect).

The mats were swept away. The "decorative" rocks that were holding the basketball net in place were washed halfway down my lawn, and was briefly standing in several inches of water, as the pool continued to pour out a steady stream beside me.

It took way longer than it should have to un-collapse the side of the pool, but when I did I took a look and the water was just slightly below the "do not fill past this line" line.


June 19, 2012

Helmets Help. Period.

Well the coroner's report came out with a recommendation to mandate helmets for all people riding bikes. As soon as I read the article I knew all the crazies would come out of the woodwork. You're stomping on our rights! It's more dangerous walking down the street - mandate helmets for that!

Well, having suffered quite a few brain traumas in my lifetime I tend to take an interest in these "discussions". I put the word in quotes because the way I see it there's really no argument. A bike helmet likely saved my life. It absolutely prevented a serious injury. Not having one on while riding a bike seems like a ridiculous notion. But that's just me - and a few hospitals few of other people.

I had a grand idea for a blog post about my position on this so I could share it with those of you who don't have me as a friend on Facebook (where it was written in several comments to a FB friend with vastly different opinions on the matter). Then, his last comment sealed the fate of this post. Regarding a law that requires helmets for cyclists: "I've got a beef with helmet legislation without data to back it up."

That got me thinking, and I asked him point blank: what's the magic number? What data has to exist for it to be OK? Who gets to set that threshold? I would argue that the fine doctors who get to see all the patients (dead and alive) would have a pretty good idea, and they seem to think it's the way to go. I'm sure it's all just a clever rouse though, you know, to get more people into the ER and funding their research. Oh wait... they're recommending helmets and suggesting that FEWER people will pass through their walls, freeing up valuable resources and people for other less preventable injuries? Their data is bullshit and they must be up to no good.

All sarcasm aside I only have one point to say and that is this:
A cyclist wearing a helmet is safer than one without.

June 06, 2012

The Stanley Cup is in the Building

So last year I had the first chance to have a repeat of the night before one of the greatest moments of my life - and it didn't happen. You see, on June 13, 2002 with my wife three weeks away from her due date, Detroit won the Stanley Cup. 

I was watching Steve Yzerman kiss The Cup and I turn to my wife (she was pretending not to watch the game) and pat her on the tummy and say, "OK, you can give birth now". Well, at 05:00 the next morning she wakes me up with, "Andrew, we're going to have a baby". More than half asleep I reply, "I know" and roll over to go back to sleep. She replies with, "No. We're going to have a baby TODAY. My water just broke" and at 17:17 on June 14, 2002, weighing in at 7lbs 7oz, our daughter Avery was born.

Fast forward 9 years ago from then, and go back almost one year from now, and on June 13, 2011 a team had a chance to win the cup (Vancouver). It would have been a great moment for me. Not that I'm a fan of the Canucks, but since that night back in 2002 I haven't seen The Cup handed out the night before my daughter's birthday. 

For almost a decade I've been referring to Avery as "My Stanley Cup", and the presentation of The Cup the night before her birthday as "My Halley's Comet". This year it looked promising with Game 7 happening on June 13 and what promised to be a gritty low scoring duel. Alas, with LA up 3 games to none on New Jersey it's not looking good for an Avery's Birthday Eve Cup presentation. 

It's OK though, as just watching the Stanley Cup get lifted into the air is one of my favourite moments of the year, and it will hereinafter happen within a handful of days of my little girl's birthday. So this year, like every year since 2003, I'll record the last few moments of the game and The Cup presentation - whether that happens tonight or not - and I'll watch them in the morning with my own little Stanley Cup and her little Drive Through Baby brother (which is a story for another day). 

Wednesday, June 6:
  • Update 1: At the time of posting there is no score in Game 4 with 14:04 left in the 3rd period.
  • Update 2: Jersey scored with 12 minutes left and LA just tied it up a minute later.
  • Update 3: Jersey goes up 2-1 with 4:29 to go. 
  • Update 4: Game over.  No Cup tonight. LA up 3-1 in the series. Game 5 goes Saturday night.
Saturday, June 9:
  • Update 1: Jersey up 1-0 15 minutes into the first. LA better start looking better soon. I really don't want to have to watch past my bedtime during the week.
  • Update 2: Three minutes into the second period and LA ties it up. Excellent, my sleep regiment may not be thrown out of whack after all.
  • Update 3: Dang. Jersey goes up 2-1 halfway through the second. Looks like that goal went in of someone's butt too.
  • Update 4: LA has a goal waved off as it went in off a high stick. Sure, it doesn't count but it was impressive nonetheless.
  • Update 5: End of two and Jersey is up by a goal. It's far from over, but I'd really like this thing to wrap up tonight. Going 7 games would bring my Halley's Comet around again though, so I'm a bit torn.
  • Update 6: Six minutes to go in the third. Still 2-1 Jersey and Glen Healey on Hockey Night in Canada just used a rodeo reference when talking about Martin Brodeur for the 973rd time.
  • Update 7: Well, it looks like New Jersey is hanging in there. Since I'm watching this thing wrap during the week anyway, might as well be a game 7 on Wednesday. Could this sequence of events have a 10 year cycle?
Monday, June 11:
  • Update 1: Jersey just gets nailed for a 5 minute penalty. Let's see if LA can capitalize. As much as it would be cool to repeat the sequence of events of 10 years ago (minus Detroit winning the cup, and a baby) I kind of want LA to win this thing.
  • Update 2: No sooner did I post Update 1 and we have Update 2. LA scores and are still on the PP for another 3 and a half minutes. Could this be the night La La Land gets a Cup?
  • Update 3: Wow, another goal for LA. Up 2-0 with still 2 minutes to go in the PP.
  • Update 4: Holy crap. A third power play goal by LA - on the same power play! LA is on a roll!
  • Update 5: Well Jersey has their work cut out for them. 4-0 for the Kings of Los Angeles just two minutes into the 2nd period. 
  • Update 6: Jersey shows signs of live. One minute left in the 2nd period. Is it too little too late?
  • Update 7: Looks like LA is going to pull off the win on home ice. Going to watch The Cup get lifted tonight, and then I'll watch it again with my kids in the morning.

June 04, 2012

Pray for Lydia


I attended the ribbon waving event. Cried a lot, but smiled more. Took some photos:



The date and time for Lydia's ribbon waving event has been set:

Thursday, November 1 @ 5:00pm in the Herrle farm parking lot and laneway.



Lydia is on her way home!

On a date yet to be chosen (though likely the first Friday of November) people will wave green ribbons as the Herrle family gives Lydia a little tour around the parking lot and down the lane way. I will be there. Hopefully you will be too!

As many of you know, on May 17th tragedy struck a small rural town just outside Kitchener-Waterloo. Lydia Herrle was struck by a truck after getting off her school bus and has been in a coma ever since. Her parents, James and Michelle Herrle, own and operate Herrle's Country Farm Market and are not just well known in the community, they are well liked. They are blogging about their journey through this difficult time and you can read about it here: 


I have only had the pleasure of meeting any Herrle on two occasions, both times it was Trevor: once last year at a community event where we exchanged a few minutes of pleasantries, and the other time earlier this morning. The first meeting was much happier. Today, I dropped off a gift for Lydia. A little something for her to look at when she wakes up. I also wrote a letter I hope someone will read aloud to her, and one that she will read herself some day soon.

I added some colourful stickers to brighten it up a bit. A cross, some music, some flowers, and few butterflies. Things I know will bring a smile to her face. My only wish for her now is that she wakes up to see them.

I won't post the entire letter here; that's for Lydia and her family to read, but I will share a particularly fitting quote that I used from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."

So stay strong, Lydia. Stay strong, be patient, and know that there's an entire community by your side every step of the way.