And, on a Lighter Note…

Since I have no intention of this becoming a gloom-and-doom blog, I have been attempting to balance my enraging/disturbing/worrying entries with lighter hearted ones. To that end, my brother, Microcosm Overlord, has been selling everything that’s not nailed down lately. His wife works part time, and he is currently unemployed with no unemployment benefits. In order to pay the bills and have a little scratch left over, he started selling some surplus belongings on Craig’s List and ebay. Then, he got hooked. Now, he’s telling me that the water is fine, and there will be punch and pie if I join in. Maybe. Anyway, this new… *ahem* hobby of his has led to some hilarious interchanges, such as the following:

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Why he even thought to send that first pic is anybody’s guess, but bravo! I had to twist his arm to send me the image files so I could stitch them together and post the thread here. I hope this gives you a giggle, as it did me.

Smells Like Oppressive Propoganda

Woah. All stop. So, FEMA is telling local law enforcement that our founding fathers were ‘terrorists’? To me, this means one of two things. Either this is someone’s ill-thought method of shock education to drive some kind of point home, or it’s bolstering local LEOs to act against the people in case of revolt. If that’s the case, the federal government is attempting to desensitize police officers to the idea of opening fire on citizens. That gives me chills quite frankly. Pair that with multiple federal agencies making questionable purchases of large quantities of ammo, and this is a huge point of concern. Indeed, one must ask oneself what the FDA and the National Weather Service need rifle ammunition for, and why the federal government wants the police to view our founding fathers as terrorists, and whether those have anything to do with each other. We live in interesting times.

And, Speaking of Domes…

Jennifer and I have long talked about setting up a rudimentary greenhouse in the back yard. The growing season here in Oklahoma is such that a greenhouse is highly useful for getting a head start when late frosts can be unpredictable. Currently, we do still live in town (much to our chagrin), and city code limits building construction without a permit to 100-square feet and without a permanent foundation. In the past, I’d thought about framing in something with used lumber or pipe, and wrapping the whole thing in heavy gauge Visqueen, or similar clear, plastic sheet. Recently, I began thinking about framing up a geodesic dome out of 2x4s or 2x6s, with the clear plastic stapled to the inside and outside of the framework. That would give plenty of light passage with 3.5″ or 5.5″ of airspace for natural insulation – probably plenty to buffer against those last few late frosts in the beginning of the Spring.

Shortening pi to 3.14, and working out the math, I find that a 11.2-foot diameter dome would be precisely 100-square feet, so I’d likely want to take the footprint down to an even eleven square feet, just to stay on the safe side. That would give us just about 95 square feet that we could use for sprouting seeds, growing things that are otherwise difficult to grow here, and even stretching out the Fall growing season to a degree. Using this nifty utility, I can see that an eleven-foot diameter, 5/8 dome can be made with 165 boards of just over two feet, using 61 joints. If my math serves me, that would give us a ceiling height of about 6.5-feet in the center, which is plenty for us short people.

This guy got the same idea, and built himself a nice little greenhouse dome, and he even worked out the angles that the boards should ideally be cut to. It looks like there are all sorts of choices for fancy hardware connectors, but the gentleman mentioned above industriously used steel strap and PVC pipe for jointing. In fact, there are lots of organized resources for anyone who might want to build a dome. Given the size of the lumber that this project would require, I bet I could get used lumber for next to nothing if I keep my ears open. In fact, I wonder how close to free I could build this bad boy. I may have to go haunt Craig’s List to see what’s available…

Water Dome 2.0

Years ago, when we were teaching the cat to use the toilet…

I’ll let you soak that in for a minute.

…yes, we taught the cat to do his business in the commode instead of a box of grit. See?

Anyway, at some point in time, he decided that the water in the water bowl wasn’t fresh enough for his taste. He started to find more creative places to do his business to keep his newly preferred water (toilet bowl) as clean as possible. We got to the point that we were changing out the cat water twice a day and he was still drinking from the john and pulling towels off the rack to pee on. Yuck! Something had to be done. So we bought The Water Dome.

This was a contraption that we found on clearance at the local franchise of whatever chain pet store we happened to be frequenting at the time. It cost something in the neighborhood of $15.00. I have been unable to find anything else quite like it, even in imagery only. It was a clear acrylic dome full of water that would trickle from the top, and dribble down into a shallow tray underneath. It worked like a charm. Emerson began drinking from the dome and using the toilet like clockwork.

Previously not having a care in the world where the water came from, so long as there was water, Ferrule discovered what he never knew he was missing in The Water Dome. He loved The Water Dome. Physically. Being half siamese and half bengal, Ferrule is an odd one. His mannerisms are not like many other cats you are likely to cross paths with. When he loves, he does so with grand gesture. And, he had a ritual when he took a drink. He would court The Water Dome and speak to it, informing it of his intentions. He would then rub against it affectionately. After he had buttered it up with his attentions, he would then take a sip of water. At that point, fairly well soaked, he would find Jennifer so he could sit in her lap and drip on her.

Needless to say, The Water Dome got clogged with cat hair and croaked after a few months’ use. And yet, it had been worth its weight in gold. We tried to clean it out, taking apart the pump to free it of all debris. But, its spirit had passed on. As precious as a pet water circulator had been to the household, we rushed straight out to purchase another. We never did find another one like The Water Dome, but we found a Petmate fountain for around $30 and took it straight home for the cats’ inspection. Ferrule never loved the fountain like he did The Water Dome, but they both accepted it as the utility that it was.

As we added our chihuahua, Heidi, and another cat, Chance; the little Petmate was strained in its duty. We topped it up when it ran low, and we cleaned it religiously to keep it running. But, it was never intended to support the load we had it under, and two days ago, after many years of service, the inevitable happened. The now mineral-stained Petmate finally gave up the ghost, and no amount of hair removal or swearing would bring it back.

petmate

Believe it or not, all those colorful stains are from our hard water. I’ve chipped that crap off of that fountain before, and it likely had a hand in the destruction of the pump. In case you were wondering, the Mayans were predicting the end of our pet water fountain, not the world. I have spent the last couple of days looking at these things on Amazon and other sources. Years ago, we bought this unit for around $30. Years ago, I scoffed at paying upwards of two dollars per gallon for gas. Years ago, I purchased a one horsepower food waste disposer for around $90 that can’t be replaced for $300 today. Oddly, I do believe that we could get another pet fountain for around $30, but I’m not convinced that it would last.

But, I did have a spare water garden pump that I purchased at the koi shop to use in our rain barrels. As it turned out, it didn’t have nearly enough oomph to circulate water from the barrel. When I purchased this pump, it had been sitting on the shelf so long that I paid a fraction of the $65 scrawled on the yellowing cellophane in black marker. I didn’t have the heart to return the pump when it wasn’t going to work in the barrel. But, we had this extra pump. So, Teen Bot and I inspected the garden pump and compared it to the pump that came stock in the Petmate. The difference was shocking. We probably could install the water garden pump in the Petmate chassis, but it would be about like shoehorning a Chevy big block into a Volkswagen. Needless to say, it would have required some massive modification.

This morning, I woke up with inspiration! Once Teen Bot was up and around, we collected a disposable Rubbermaid dish, an empty one-gallon water jug, and some vinyl hose that I was going to use to pad a leather storage rack at one point in time. I wedged the hose onto the nipple on the pump and ran it into the top of the water bottle, so that it would overflow the jug and dribble out into the tray below. I trimmed it so that it would just go into the top of the handle. That way, if we lost power, it wouldn’t siphon the jug onto our bathroom floor. And I figure, if this setup gets too nasty with cat hair and mineral deposits, the pump is the most expensive component on the contraption. Everything else can be discarded and easily replaced. The entire system holds just over two gallons. I present to you Water Dome II:

WDII01

Magnificent, isn’t it?

WDII02

But, what will the water critic think of it? That’s the real measure of the success.

Em&WDII01

“LOL! WTF is that supposed to be?”

No, really, Emerson. Give it a try!

Em&WDII02

“YHGTBSM. You have finally lost your mind, hooman.”

Just try it please.

Em&WDII03

“Well, it smells okay…”

Em&WDII04

“Haz to make sure nobody’s looking when I try this silly thing…”

Em&WDII05

*sip sip* “Hey, that’s not bad!”

Em&WDII06

*slurp slurp slurp*

And, he likes it! I suspect he was waiting for a replacement, because he stayed like that at the trough for several minutes. So anyway, I was able to avoid spending money on a new pet water fountain, this thing will likely outlive a store-bought unit by a factor of ten, our picky cat approves of it, and if it gets too gross, we won’t feel too bad about pitching the whole thing. I’m calling this one a solid win.