Christopher Merle

Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Month: December 2006

Dollar Coins and Vending Machines

I like vending machines and I wish they’d take dollar coins. They take dollar bills and that’s good, but have you ever tried to put a crumpled dollar bill into a vending machine. You have to go through all sorts of contortions to flatten it out and feed it in. And then it’ll spit it back out. You’ll try this five or six times until it takes it or not. Sometimes even a new dollar bill won’t feed properly. Or you don’t look at the illustration on which way to feed it until after say the third try. And sometimes they put the wrong illustration. How much easier it would be if they took dollar coins. Plunk, push, kerplunk.

I’ve seen different dollar coins growing up. My mom had a collection of silver liberty dollars. There was a Eisenhower dollar and a JFK half-dollar in circulation. Then there was the Susan B. Anthony and now the Sacajawa dollar. Neither the Susan nor the Sacajewa took off. Was it because we Americans are sexist and racist and wouldn’t use them? Or was it because they didn’t withdraw the paper dollar from circulation. Partly both. Coins can last thirty years in circulation before needing to be withdrawn. Paper doesn’t last so long.

I’ve seen the coins used in the UK, Switzerland and Europe (France, Holland, and Ireland) and they have 1 unit coins, pound, swiss franc, and euro. They even have 2 unit coins. Speaking of which I really miss the 2 dollar bill. It would be nice to have a 2 dollar coin.

Now I read that we are going to issue yet another dollar coin, this time with presidents. That’s great, but they need to pull dollar bills from circulation and encourage vending machines to take the coins. I’d like to see a Jefferson 2 dollar coin. That’d be cool.

Pond Scum

We have a koi pond in the backyard. It started life as a garden pond, but later owners added koi to it. Koi are a kind of giant goldfish which are a kind of carp. We have only three large abused koi, Red Troll, Black Troll, and Norbert. Norbert is red with black spots. Red Troll is white with red spots and Black Troll is, you guessed it, white with black spots. When Melissa moved into the house she named them trolls because they hung out under the little bridge. The pond is barbell shaped if the barbell was elongated and bent in a curve.

I said they were abused because they do not behave like normal koi. Normal koi are like dogs. They are happy to see you when you come out and feed them. They’ll even eat from your hands. Melissa inherited them when she bought the house. And she’s been taking care of them ever since. I occasionally help out, but, alas, she does most of the dirty work like cleaning out the fish gunk out of the filter barrel. I’ll skim the pond surface and bottom to get leaves and pecans and I’ll even fish out the occasional branch that falls in. I am going someplace with this story and it involves a snowstorm that occurred November 30. We have four inches of snow in the yard. Anyway back to the fish.

The surface of the koi pond froze over. During the day we noticed the water level going down in the pond. Melissa thought there was a tear in the pond liner. And we’d wait until the water level got low enough and thus expose the leak. I had the thought that maybe the pump was leaking and didn’t bother to check it. My bad. Just as it was getting dark I noticed that the water was even lower. Snow covered the yard and there was a bare patch by the pump. If the leak was in the liner then the water level would go down to leak, but if the leak were in the pump then it would pump all the water out.

Thus begins a three hour ordeal to save the fish. While we were out there cleaning and fixing, Mystery, our small black and white dog decided to venture out onto the pond’s ice. This did not make Melissa happy and we put the dog back in the house. The water was flowing out the the of the barrel. We unplugged the pump and began refilling the pond and made sure to put dechlorinator in the water. We then took the pump and barrel system apart to clean and repair it. The sludge hadn’t been cleaned out in a while. It looked like a dark chocolate shake. Yum.

Mel had cleaned the shredded polyvynil and filter and we washed out the barrel. We had to remove it from its raised platform to do that. After hooking it back up the we discovered the water still went over the top. Turns out the barrel wasn’t adjusted quite right. There is a right angle pipe that comes out the top of the barrel and a hose empties into the pond over a rocky grotto-like wall. It was no longer flowing out as fast as it was being pumped out. The opening was angled down and up, so the water had to work hard to get out and the decided to fill up to the top of the barrel. Bad.

I put some cardboard as shims to angle barrel so the right angle opening was down and forward. The water finally levelled off but we didn’t take any chances. We added a hose to the outlet and put it in the pond. When it warms up some more we’ll get some plywood and raise the barrel even more and angle it properly.

I started this post shortly after it happened was going to go into more detail but got lazy and wrote what you got here. Maybe. I’ll rewrite it later. Yeah, right.

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