Sunday, April 27, 2008

I tawt I taw a bomber

While cooking dinner, I happened to glance outside just now and saw an airplane silhouette that looked, well, unusual. A quick check with binocs confirmed it: round tail, four engines, big, and not moving all that fast. A B-17 maybe? A few minutes later, it turned and flew over the house, making that distinctive, rumbling big radial engine sound that only World War II warbirds make. And an H-tail. Not a B-17, but a B-24 Liberator. Probably taking people out for rides on a beautiful flying day. Pity there was no camera handy.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Park and Supergenius Criminal Masterminds

So I've started reading The Park, about a trailer park full of people with superpowers. The idea's got a ton of potential, maybe even for some social commentary. And it looks like the villain just showed up.

Which has got me thinking: why is it that so many supergenius criminal masterminds want to rule the world? "What are we going to do tonight, Brain?" "The same thing we do every night, Pinky, try to take over the world." I mean, say you do take over the world. What do you get? The massive headache of running the whole friggin' world, that's what. And guess who everyone's going to blame the next time there's a war, or a recession, or some government agency muffs disaster relief?

So I'm thinking the really clever supergenius criminal masterminds--you know, the ones a cut above the Wile E. Coyotes of the world--they're not in it for the money or the girls or the private 747 with the jacuzzi tub and reporters and NORAD interface, 'cause there are a lot easier ways to get those things. And they're probably not in it for the recognition, either. Let's face it: a good PR firm will take you a lot further for your dollar than world domination will.

So what is it? Resume padding? The sheer challenge of the thing? The belief that they can run things better than anyone else?

Hmmm. Considering how well things sometimes run, maybe there's something to that last possibility.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

the learning curve continues

We moved in last weekend and are getting the new place up and running.

Today's adventure involves the sprinkler system. Since the rains have mostly stopped, our landscape's been dying, which made getting the sprinklers working a high priority. One of the manifolds that controls one of the sprinkler stations is gushing: not merely leaking, but leaking a whole awful lot of water whenever it turns on. So one project for today was to fix or replace the manifold.

I made the mistake of taking the advice from one of the guys at Home Depot who recommended replacing it with a new one. I also learned that replacing one of these beasts involves shutting off the water, cutting the pipes that connect it to the system, and assembling and gluing in the new manifold. So I bought all the parts necessary to do that. The operation started smoothly enough: I assembled the new system, dug around the old one, and cut it off. Only then did I realize that the pipes on the old manifold are a different distance apart than the pipes the new manifold is designed to fit. So, lesson #1: be careful when taking advice from Home Depot.[1] Lesson #2: check the sizes before cutting any pipes.

That left me (us) in a quandary: I had to shut off the water to cut off the manifold, now the pipe's cut, and as long as there's no manifold I can't turn the water back on. At this point, I was in over my head. So we ran a quick web search looking for a plumber who could solve the problem. Lesson #3: plumbers don't necessarily do irrigation, even though both involve pipes. We eventually found an irrigation person, who may or may not be able to make it here before Tuesday morning. In the meantime, he recommended gluing a cap on the supply pipe. So I've done that, and now I'm waiting for the glue to set up before I turn the water back on. Hopefully it'll hold. I guess we'll find out around 3:30 or 4:00.

So much to learn.

Update: at 4:00, I turned on the water and the cap held, so the situation's stabilized until someone who knows what he or she is doing can fix the problem.

[1] The advice from the ex fireman who used to do plumbing work on his days off and now works in the plumbing section turned out to be very helpful for getting the washer and dryer working, so I'm not saying it's all bad, just that caution is necessary.