Plumbing the Depths

It was one of those weekends when I did many things, but didn't see a common theme emerge until I spent Sunday afternoon with my hands submerged in a failed attempt to blend art and plumbing and realized I'd had a trio of plumbing references as the meta data for my weekend. But I'm cutting to the chase....

Friday night: One of my all-time favorite summer activities is to announce Williamsport Little League Tournament games at the NJ District level, mixing up my own brand of John Sterling with equal parts radio DJ and CB radio operator. Given travel schedules and the fact that I'm no longer on the local Little League board, I get a chance to do about one game a summer. This past Friday night, I got to the ball field to find out that one of the teams had withdrawn from the tournament, their short post season flushed before it had begun.

Saturday night: Rush at the PNC Bank Arts Center. After having seen Rush in Philadelphia a month ago, I was expecting a repeat of the same amazing show. But having read Peart's Roadshow I should have known of the variation in venues, and how the musicians themselves often feel a show is only "adequate" or "competent", not the exhilarating experience those of us who paid $100 a ticket thought we were enjoying. Saturday's Rush show suffered from significant reductions in the lighting rigging, such that the "spaceship" type lights that normally ascend and descend toward the stage were fixed along the stage's ceiling. Much worse, the sound quality was "Delaware River mud" at best, with bass suffering from echoes and very tinny vocals (I know, I know, Geddy Lee sounds tinny in Carnegie Hall). I forgot how much the acoustics in the PNC Bank Arts Center resemble that of a concrete arena bathroom, and I can also see why Peart refuses to use corporate sponsor names when recalling stops in the roadshow.

Sunday night: I decide, after a fun-filled trip to Home Depot, to attack the two Kohler Rialto toilets in our house that are testing my patience. Toilet plumbing isn't really all that complicated, but when a former software engineer is facing a very low profile, very small tank plumbing fixture armed with a toolbelt and extension cord, only bad things can happen. In the words of Al Bundy, nobody appreciates a toilet for the work of technology that it is, and that's probably because in some designer's efforts to hide its function, it's function got too complicated. Charles Mingus used to say (with reference to jazz music) that anyone could take something simple and make it complicated; only genius could take the complicated and make it simple. This bit of plumbing was the work of the anti-genius; however; two hours, one session with the drill press, four different screwdrivers, a home-made shim, and one custom-cut fitting down the drain (literally) later, I think both toilets are functional.

If I get home to find they're not, I'm unbolting both plumbing fixtures and using them as lawn seats at the PNC Bank Arts Center. Art imitates art.

Comments:

Hal, I commend your bravery. I loathe plumbing. I set out to replace a couple of basin taps a few weeks ago. It should have been the work of about 1/2 hr. Instead, as usual, it was a work of mounting anguish and fury, repeated trips to the DIY store, and several skinned knuckles. Never again. (But then, I said that last time... :\^(

Posted by Robin Wilton on July 16, 2008 at 01:33 AM EDT #

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