Saturday, October 20, 2012

Just a little cleaning

 Please note: Story below has nothing to do with this image. I just like the photo.

Cleaning up my computer today and came across this bit of writing I had done for the Canada's Writes 2010 competition. This was to get us through the qualifying round and into the interview stage. We had been told to write a movie pitch in 200 words or less and have it based loosely on one of the top 50 Canadian Songs. I chose the Ian and Sylvia classic "Four Strong Winds" and came up with the following.

I post it here because I think it is cruel to write a story and then not set it free. Much like a butterfly in a glass jar. Or perhaps in the case of my writing, more like keeping a slug in a tin can - not quite as pretty but still deserving of a bit of freedom:

The movie “Four Strong Winds” has nothing to do with the Ian and Sylvia classic but they do make a brief cameo appearance as one of the country music acts that are a backdrop to the real action of the movie.

Four Strong Winds is actually the title of the great Canadian Chili cook-off that occurs every year, concurrently with the Halfway First Nation’s rodeo.  The movie follows the antics of Shorty, Mel and Hank who are entering the competition with an eye on the $10,000 prize money – money needed to save their ranch.

Shorty, the camp cook, is trying to stay on the wagon but the temptations are many especially since his recipe calls for a fifth of Scotch. Mel enters the pony express race and is fixing to dope up old Stewball, but Viagra, instead of speeders , make it into the equine cocktail with nearly fatal and very embarrassing results. Hank is entered into the talent show and becomes romantically involved with Barbara Budd (the celebrity judge.)  Barbara is also the wife of a homicidally jealous husband.

Will the crew win the purse and save the ranch? Will Stewball or Hank find true love?
Watch the movie!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

How to fix a pool pump

So with the temperatures finally getting up to seasonal norms, which in Kamloops means hot enough to melt asphalt, and to reduce car-left DVDs into weird globs of molten plastic, I thought it time for me to get the pool back into operation.

The pool, left in active for 8 months, had turned a lovely shade of green and large dark forms were seen to be lurking in its shadowy depths.

My attack on the algae pond was based on both a chemical attack and physical assault. The chemistry employed was simple. Keep pouring chlorine into the water until such time that the water became toxic to all forms of life. The fact that a passing sparrow fell out of the sky while attempting to fly across the pool told me that I was nearing the point of sufficient chlorine levels. I could have bought those little test strips but I always opt for the "canary in the coal mine" method whenever possible.

The physical assault required me to fire up the pool pump and suck up the dead algae monsters through a super sucker pool cleaner and then expel the mess out through the discharge/waste valve on the pool filter.

The pump had been doing yeoman's duty for the past two days but today, round about 10 a.m. I heard a sound like bones and glass being run through a blender coming from the pump house. About half an hour later I decided I should check on things.

The dull red glow from the pump's motor was the first clue that something was wrong. The fact that no water was either going into, nor coming out of, the pump was another clue that it was not performing as designed.

Fortunately I had learned from an uncle of mine that most things can be fixed by turning them on and off a number of times. Sometimes if you apply a sharp force with something like a hammer at the same time that you are turning things on and off it will speed the healing process. It is a good thing that said uncle went into something other than small appliance repair because the aforementioned remedy did little to fix the situation. In fact it may have made matters worse.

I knew I would have to put all of my mechanical knowledge to bear and start taking things apart and poking at the inside of the pump. I managed to disconnect about twenty different hoses that were attached to the pump before finding the one that I actually had to remove to give me access to the impeller.

An impeller, for those of you not in the know is a dark piece of black magic that causes water to go from one place to another. No one really knows how they work and their inner workings are best left to the realm of witch doctors and voodoo queens.

I found a sharp screwdriver and gently started to poke about in the very bowels of the machine. At one point I could feel the screwdriver plunge into something that was either a drowned hamster or perhaps a piece of rubber that served as a seal in the back of the pump. I didn't know which was worse to be poking at but at this point I didn't much care. I made a few more stabs that would either dislodge something that shouldn't be there or perhaps puncture something that should.

In a few short hours I had all of the hoses reconnected to the pump and was ready to test my handy work. With hammer in hand - I gave the pump a couple of whacks for good measure as I flipped the switch on and off before leaving it on for good.

Gone was the sound of grinding bone. Back was good green water and chunks of algae swirling around in the pump's filter chamber before being spit out into the Kamloopsian sewer system. Buoyed with my success I think I may take my hammer and try to fix my laptop that has been sounding funny ever since I tried loading up two DVDs at once.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Don't know my *** from a hole in the ground!

A hole in the ground

So yes, I do know what a hole in the ground is. This particular hole is special in that it is the burrow entrance to the lair of the Spadefoot Toad. The Spadefoot Toad is a little fellow, about the size of a quarter, and doesn't do a heck of a lot.

Their main claim to fame is the hard little digging apparatus that they have on their hind feet that allow them to dig their subterranean fortresses of solitude. Don't confuse the Spadefoot burrow with  the pocket gopher hole which is somewhat larger and normally has a mound of loose dirt heaped over it.

I was wondering the other day as I am wont to do, "What would happen if we had no Spadefoots in our ecosystem?" The Spadefoot does not eat a lot nor is it eaten on by a lot. 99.999999999% or more of the population in BC has never seen a Spadefoot nor do they really care to see one.

So my first guess is that not a lot would change if for some reason all of the Spadefoots were wiped out. So why is it important that we preserve this little guy? I guess it is because we recognize the importance of bio-diversity and the need to maintain complete eco-systems. If we protect the Spadefoot, at the same time we are protecting all of the ecosystem that allows the Spadefoot to survive.

To me, the Spadefoot is the poster child of the grasslands ecosystem. It is unseen and inconsequential of itself, but it represents a much larger entity.

But that is enough about holes in the ground and such. I just wanted to post an entry on Canada Day to show that I was being patriotic by not doing any work at all today and just indulging myself in a few of my simple joys like writing.

To all of my fellow Canadians I wish you a happy Canada Day.