Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ready for gunite

We passed our plumbing inspection, so we're ready for gunite. This has been the eighth weekend in a row that I've worked both days on the pool plumbing. Virtually all of that work has been on the hot tub. (Earlier I was working on plumbing too, but I was machining bits and it didn't feel as much like plumbing.)

Picture right is David Kanter, by the way, who was generous enough to come down last weekend and sweat in the 100 degree noontime sun to lay gravel in the trenches around the pool. This is us right before cutting those 3" pipes to make the main drains. Thanks, Dave!

I like this picture because it gives a sense of the scale of this thing. Granted, it will be a smaller hole once 6 to 15 inches of gunite have gone into the sides, and 10 inches has gone into the bottom. But it will still be big enough that, standing on the bottom with no water to buoy you, you will not be able to jump up and touch a string suspended across the waterline. It's significantly deeper than most rooms are tall.

After looking at this thing, the inspector asked me to double the rebar in the hot tub because of all the plumbing. Done in two hours, and the pic is below. [Update, years later: damn good thing the inspector caught this.  The spa dam wall has developed a small circumferential crack. Because the inner layer of gunite has it's own reinforcing, this is not a big problem, but in retrospect I should have inserted rebar that stitched the inside curtain to the outside curtain.]

We tested a fair bit of this hot tub plumbing to 30 psi, and I was amazed that it held. Most of my flexPVC is tested now, and not a single leak.

Unfortunately, the Valterra 4 inch gate valve on the suction side of the fountain pumps leaks. This is an expensive part, and after talking with the manufacturer it seems that it was never going to work right. Finding an alternative is going to be very expensive. If any reader happens to know of a 4 inch valve made of something compatible with ozone (stainless steel, especially 316, and PVC are the big ones) which won't rust and leave stains on my plaster, and which doesn't have a huge flange... please pass along the info. Oh, and it should take 30 psi of internal pressure without leaking. It doesn't have to take 30 psi across the ports when closed, but 3 would be good.

[Update: I've ordered a 4 inch Spears PVC ball valve. It's a very nice valve, very, very easy to turn, but it was crazy expensive: $670. Including the cost of the built-to-fail Valterra gate valve and installation and rip-out of that, this one item has cost $1000. This could have been done more cost-effectively.]

It is now conceivable that we could have the pool open by June 5 (Anya's birthday), but I don't think it's going to happen. Every other aspect of this pool has taken much longer than expected, so I assume that it will be hard to just finish the plumbing over the next four weekends, let alone get the tile, plaster, cover, coping, electrical, solar panels, diving board, rock facing, patio, drainage, lighting, planting, and sprinklers done.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I'm amazed by our hens' abilities to eat.

I weigh 215 pounds, and eat something like 2700 calories a day, including about 150 grams of protein. So, about 22% of my calories are protein. Those are rough guesses, not measurements.

Our hens each lay one egg a day, with around 6 grams of protein. I'm going to guess that they must eat 24 grams of protein to deliver those 6 grams, and also run around the yard and make lots of feathers. 24 grams is about 1/6 of what I eat.

The hens eat grass, cornmeal, random bugs that they find, and snails. (Martha has found no snails at all in the last year in the back yard, but clears 10-20 every week from the front.) I don't think their diet is particularly higher in protein than mine. In particular, their cornmeal is almost identical. So, each hen must each 1/6 of the calories I eat.

These animals weigh 5 pounds! (Anya just weighed them.) Per pound, they eat seven times as much as I do. Since I spend at least an hour a day eating, it's no wonder that those hens spend every waking minute pecking at something.

Friday, April 10, 2009

National Organization for Marriage

I left a note on the National Organization for Marriage blog that I wrote carefully, in response to their ad.  Here it is:

One of the big problems I see is that when kids are taught that it’s okay for other people to marry anyone they want, they naturally apply that same logic to themselves. So teaching tolerance can end up advocating homosexuality. The big message of this ad is that gays aren’t just asking for tolerance any more, but instead want to evangelize their lifestyle in a (manditory) public venue.

I think the really scary thing happening in school is that we don’t have full control over the values that our kids develop. Some of them, exposed to a message of tolerance, are going to go past that tolerance and experiment with a homosexual lifestyle, against the wishes of their parents. It’s plenty hard just teaching kids the basics, like a sense of justice and fair play. State mandated messages in school open a can of worms that would probably be easier to deal with a few years later when the kids are adults and have their value systems more fully formed.

If we’re going to be teaching tolerance to the children of people of some faiths, who believe that homosexuality is an abomination, then we need to get the message in school clear that, while homosexuality should be tolerated and is part of the “normal” spectrum of human behavior in the larger world, it is NOT acceptable and NOT normal if you are going to be a member of these faiths. Then at least the kids can wrestle directly with the issue that their parent’s faith requires a stricter set of behavior than society at large does. That leads to questions of faith which can then be directed to a priest, elder, etc.


About the marriage license thing: you are part of many groups. Some large, like your state, which grants marriage licenses. Some less inclusive, like your faith. The norms of the more inclusive groups have to be broader. That’s why your faith can say no to homosexuality while your state may say okay. Since lots of people get married in a church, they tend to think of marriage as being something granted by the church. But that hasn’t been true for a long time. As my pastor pointed out, I was legally married to my wife BEFORE we got to church, just by the process of getting a marriage license.

Lighten up about the imprimatur of your approval. If people want to know how you feel about homosexuality they’ll look to your faith before they look to your state, and that’ll be clear enough.