Monday, June 29, 2009

Too hot to fish, too hot for golf . . .

Carol and I are in our camper, parked in Belton, TX. We arrived here on Saturday when the car’s outside thermometer read 105. That’s degrees Fahrenheit for all you Metric System folks.

Yesterday we played 36 holes of golf. When we finished and got back in the car to return to our air conditioned camper, the reading was 106.

I gotta tell you, this camper’s little roof-mounted A/C unit just can’t handle 106 with the sun beating down from a cloudless sky. But we survived, thanks to ice-cold beer, a fan, and the knowledge that eventually the sun would go down and we’d get some REAL cold air out of that roof-mounted thing.

(Last night I woke up at 3:30 a.m., cold! Ahhhhh! I got out a blanket and loved it!)

Today we played 27 holes of golf, and the car thermometer reading was 103.

I can hear you asking, “Are you gluttons for punishment?” “Are you masochists?” “Are you out of your ever-lovin’ bloomin’ MINDS!!?”

Well, possibly.

We’re beginning to wonder how much more of this golf “fun” we can stand.

Tomorrow we’re set for another round or two at a different golf course. We’ll probably go and play for at least a while. As for the rest of the week . . . well, I’m thinking we should have scheduled a trip to a more northern location; like maybe Alaska.

We’ll take it one day at a time.

The title of this post is from a country song of a few years back. It is indeed too hot for those activities mentioned. I’m just wishing the next line was also true: “And it’s too cold at home.”

For that I’ll need a bigger A/C unit on this camper!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


According to the first book of John (me), chapter 7 and verse 12, Saturdays when the sun is shining and the temperature is between 45 and 100 (depending upon the wind speed) are intended for golf.

Today is Saturday. The sun is shining brightly, the temperature is in the mid-90s but the wind is blowing at 15-25 with gusts to 35. So why are Carol and I not playing golf?

What's that? Did I hear someone wonder aloud if perhaps the dreaded ycaripsnoc might have something to do with it?

Well, judge for yourselves.

Yesterday evening I entered the master bathroom to . . . well, I went in there. I noticed a shiny spot on the floor, and stooped to examine it. Wet! The puddle extended along the wall behind the toilet, and further examination revealed that the toilet supply plumbing was dry. So where was the water coming from?

I noticed a drop of water on the bottom of the top tank. As I watched, it fell to the floor and another drop formed. How . . .?

Then I saw it; a hairline crack running from the top of the tank, through the handle-mounting hole, down and around the side almost all the way to the bottom. Given the small quantity of water on the floor and the speed at which the drips were falling, it had to have started less than an hour ago.

I ask you: Why does a porcelain toilet tank crack from top to bottom all by itself in the middle of an otherwise normal Friday evening? You already know the answer!

Timeline: 0830 – arrived at Lowes and shopped for a replacement toilet. Carol's "must have" list included a "best flush rating" of 5 stars. We selected a mid-priced model with the requisite flush rating, paid, and took it home. The advertising on the box says this commode will flush a bucket of golf balls!

(Side note: Lowes store is only a two-minute drive from my house!!)

0930 – the old commode is drained, dried, disassembled and removed from the house. The area is cleaned and ready for the new installation.

9:50 – determine that the bolts to mount the toilet to the ring in the floor aren't long enough. Try to use the old hardware but drop a bolt down the toilet drain hole in the floor. Unable to retrieve it. Think a few choice words.

10:00 – back to Lowes for some longer bolts.

10:45 – longer bolts are in place, but I determine that the wax ring that came with the new toilet isn't thick enough (a common problem). Mutter a few choice words under my breath.

10:50 – back to Lowes for a second wax ring.

11:20 – toilet is installed with double wax ring in place. However, it rocks slightly because the tile floor isn't exactly flat. Need some shims.

11:30 – break for lunch.

12:10 – back to Lowes for some nylon washers to use as shims. Buy a tube of caulk while I'm there to save any further trips! (Ha!)

1:15 – toilet is in place with top tank mounted and seat attached. All that's left is to hook up the water supply line!

1:16 – determine that the old supply line is two inches too short to reach the new, higher top tank. Say a few choice words loudly (Carol is outside and can't hear me).

1:20 – back to Lowes for a longer supply line.

1:50 – all is connected and in place. With trepidation, turn on the water and fill the tank. Check for leaks. Call Carol to come and try out the new, super, five star flush. Carol's reaction: "This doesn't flush any better than the old one!"

1:51 – excuse myself to Carol, walk through the house and out of the garage to the back yard and SCREAM a few choice words at the sky. Notice the neighbors looking at me strangely. Quickly walk back inside.

2:20 – tools and trash are put away, bathroom is clean, and job is complete. Too late (and too hot) to consider golf today, so opt to watch the US Open and stay in the air conditioning.

5:40 – crack open my second cold brew and order carry-out dinner from Olive Garden.

In the first book of John (me), chapter 7 and verse 13, it is advised that the activities in the preceding sentence are appropriate for Saturdays when golf is not played. Being a "by the book" kind of guy, I agree!

Oh, and by the way . . . Carol and I have agreed that we aren't going to be testing the "bucket of golf balls" claim concerning the toilet's flushing prowess. First, neither of us thinks the commode can do it, and second, we put enough balls in the water on the golf course as it is.

Maybe we'll golf tomorrow. Ycaripsnoc permitting.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Psalm 23

At the office our General Manager called a "staff meeting" today. Though why he wanted to hold a meeting with a bunch of hiking sticks is beyond me. You know; as in "Thy rod and thy STAFF, they comfort me?"


But that tendency of mine to see possible puns in many everyday conversations is what prompted this post. A little background is in order.

My company makes a product that we ship out to customers in granular form. It looks kind of like coal, but much more expensive. We use railroad hopper cars to send it forth. Sometimes we'll send a LARGE shipment in a barge, propelled by a tugboat along the Intracoastal Waterway to either its final destination or to an intermediate one (like a port where it will be trans-loaded onto a ship for international customers).

One such barge-load of product left our plant several months ago, but before it reached the port of Houston (to be loaded onto a ship) the intended customer called to cancel the order. This was about the time the market for our stuff REALLY started going soft.

Rather than pay to bring the barge back to our plant and unloaded, we called all our customers and offered the material to them at a discounted price. Good deal for them, and for us (saving the unloading costs).

Nobody wanted it. NOBODY was buying our product at that point.

While we waited for someone to make an offer, we began referring to the shipment as "the orphan barge." Unloved, unwanted, nobody to take care of it. *sniff *

We have finally bitten the proverbial bullet and had the poor lonely thing brought to the plant, but have waited to unload it, still hoping that somebody will buy its contents from us.

Today, at the staff meeting, a decision was reached to unload the material from the orphan barge.

Unable to resist such an opportunity, I spoke up and said, "You know, we've been talking about that orphan barge for months now. I think we should just name it Annie."

Thus ended the meeting. Some had the courtesy to laugh; most simply groaned.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. . ."

Yeah, I ducked out through the nearest door before the stones started flying.)