I Don’t Do My Own Plumbing . . .

01 Jan 2000 --- Plumbers dilemma --- Image by © David Bentley/CORBISSo, I did something I said I would never do again. Plumbing.

And it bit me in the butt.

It was a simple task. Change out the faucet in the main floor bathroom. I figured I could manage that. How hard could it be?

 

I took pictures (Well, actually i forgot to take pictures, so my wife took a few and texted them to me) so I could match it. I went to Menard’s and found a similar new faucet and slotted the time for installation for the weekend.

Sunday afternoon I unboxed the faucet and started the removal. That’s where the first problem popped up. The new faucet had a pop-up drain, instead of a pop-up rod assembly. So I would have to remove the drain and install the new one. No problem.

Well…problem. The area under the sink was very tight. I couldn’t really get my head and arm in the same side without contorting my body. And I was unable to separate the top and bottom part of the drain and it would not pull out otherwise.

It was nasty in there too, fungus and hair and slime. I did manage to clean it up really well. There’s that. But I was missing something in taking out the drain and decided at that point to go ahead and call the plumber to install it all. Which I should have done from the beginning, since I said I would never do my own plumbing again.

So I commenced to put it all back together. It went fairly smoothly and I thought I was done. Did I say the area under the sink was tight? Getting the lines reconnected was a pain due to the lack of space. I couldn’t see very well (at all) without contorting my body again and getting up in there. But I’m not as young as I used to be and I was getting tired. I tried to do it without getting my whole upper body in there, but it all seemed to be back together. I turned the water and nothing was dripping that I noticed. The floor under the sink stayed dry.

Flash forward about eight hours.

My boys coming running up from the basement yelling, “There’s water pouring out of the ceiling!” (Thank God they are down there most of the time. I can’t imagine how this would have turned out otherwise.)

Water was pouring out of a light fixture in the ceiling and there were several places along seems in the drywall where water was pooling and starting to drip through. I ran back upstairs to try and figure out where it was coming from, but nothing was running. Our master bathroom toilet had just been flushed, so maybe something was leaking there and it was right above where it was leaking out of the light fixture. Was it a coincidence that I had tried to do some plumbing work earlier? All I had done was turn on and off the water below the sink.

I was out of my league, but it was 10 PM on Sunday.  I called the emergency number for the plumber and he was there about forty minutes later.

I’ll cut to the chase here; he did an amazing job of pinpointing the problem in fairly short order and had everything fixed by midnight.

Yep, it was my handiwork. I didn’t get the hot water line connected properly under the sink when I put it back together and the water had been trickling down along the line into the basement in a barely visible trail.

I now have some drywall to repair.

Lesson learned. Again. Never, ever, do my own plumbing.

Impedance

Funny how easy it is to not do something. The longer you keep from doing it the more impedance builds up. It might be working out, or keeping up a blog, or writing a piece of fiction. Or maybe you put off making a call to a close relative and then it started to become a thing because you had gone so long without calling.

Last summer, I had managed to run a streak of almost four months where I posted five days a week. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep it up forever. But what surprised me was how sudden it happened and how easy it was to not post anything. I had a run of bad luck physically. Multiple doctor visits for different things.  Pneumonia really knocked me on my butt. But even before that I had stopped blogging when I herniated myself. It wasn’t like I had to exercise in order to blog, but the two became linked somehow. Then I ended up going to Oklahoma to work for several weeks and after I returned I got sick.

But the only way to confront this kind of impedance is head on. You pick up the phone and call and try not to make a big deal about how long it’s been. You get out your workout clothes and start back slow and easy. You post something to your blog and make a new commitment to doing it regularly. Maybe not five days a week.

Fortunately, the impedance didn’t effect my writing too much. I finished my last editing pass a few days ago and sent out the piece to a friend of mine for a beta read. It feels finished. I want to be done with it and move on to the next project.

Finishing that project has brought me to a new starting line. I’m healthy again. I’m going to start exercising regularly next week and I’ve started working on my next project.

Part of this reboot comes with some changes. If you have been following me you may have noticed a name change, both for me and for the web address. I decided on using a pen name and I bought a new domain name for the blog. I had been doing some ancestry research and discovered I had three grandfathers with the name Hieronymus. Hawkes is another family surname and I like the alliteration. I have a new Facebook page and a new Twitter persona. I’ve been on Twitter for almost twelve years, so starting over is a bit daunting.

My new project is a piece that I started while I was working on my MFA, just for a palette cleanser in between edits. It was something that was as close to universally liked as anything I had written before. I only have about 7000 words, but the ideas are solid and the thing has some real potential. I debated throwing it all out and starting over. I’m actually still debating that, but I did some work on the opening chapter and I may keep it.

I am toying with the idea of cutting some of it out and creating a short story out of it as a teaser for the novel. I would have to cut it down by about half to get where I would need for the word count. It would be a good exercise.

5 Things Friday: Movies

No_Way_Out_SE_1024x1024I am doing a triple 5 things day for Labor Day weekend. So 15 of my favorite movies of all time. I don’t think I could actually pick 5 out of this group. There are so many good ones to pick from and I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but these all resonate with me for one reason or another. In no particular order:

  1. No Way Out – This is one of those movies that wasn’t a big hit, but it has a great cast and a great twist at the end. Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman and Sean Young play the leads. This movie has been on my list since it came out in 1987.

 

  1. The Matrix – Keanu Reeves and the amazing story of the illusion of life. This first movie is perfect. It is in my top 3 all time.

 

  1. The Quiet Man – A John Ford masterpiece. Won the Academy award for best director and cinematography in 1952. John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in her prime. This is a rollicking comedy set in Ireland and it is a hoot.

 

  1. Star Wars: A New Hope – Were you born under a rock? This movie changed science fiction movies from campy to awesome. I was in junior high when this came out and it had a major impact on me. It’s one of the reasons I became a pilot.

 

  1. Tron – This 1982 gem starred Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner. A software engineer creates a virtual world and then is captured by it. The CGI is pretty dated now, but the concept and story still hold up.

 

  1. Twister – Two of my favorite actors in Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. Made in 1997, it is one of those movies I will watch if I catch it channel surfing. I have seen this movie probably more than any other. It’s all about crazy tornado chasers in Oklahoma.

 

  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark – Harrison Ford in the first of this series and amazing adventure films. Nuff said.

 

  1. Aliens – This best of this series IMHO. The original is a masterpiece, but this one is scary and funny and a helleva ride. Bill Paxton in another memorable role, along with Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn, from Terminator fame.

 

  1. Back to the Future – Michael J. Fox accidently goes back in time and ends up almost sabotaging his own parents, then he has to fix it so he can be born. Hilarious fun all the way through.

 

  1. Bull Durham – My favorite baseball movie of all time. Kevin Costner plays the perennial minor leaguer at the end of his career, who is called on to help coach a young pitcher with a wonder arm and little sense. Tim Robbins plays the young phenom and I think this is where he and Susan Sarandon met. She plays Annie Savoy, whom both players fall for. It’s a brilliant look at life and love in America’s pastime.

 

  1. Groundhog Day – Another movie that I will watch whenever I see that it’s on. Bill Murray is living the same day over and over. It’s heartwarming and hilarious.

 

  1. Up – This one hit me right in the feels. Pixar won a crap ton of awards for music and animation. It was best animated movie of the year in 2009. An elderly gentleman is trying to finish off his bucket list, but accidentally ends up with an unexpected stow away.

 

  1. Wall-E – Another heart-tugger. Short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, WALL-E is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying up the planet, one piece of garbage at a time. But during 700 years, he has developed a personality, and he’s more than a little lonely, until he spots EVE, a probebot looking for life on Earth.

 

  1. The Incredibles – Another Pixar masterpiece. Superheroes somehow became a liability and have to lead normal mundane lives. One family can’t seem to manage it.

 

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy – A comic book hero movie that is not what I expected. It’s balls out hilarious and action packed. I loved every second of it. Chris Pratt leads a team of misfit badasses.

Tell me about your favorites!

I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Throwback Thursday – Inserting Ideas into the Public Mind

circuit handshake.jpgThis feels timely with all that has gone on in the world in recent months. Especially regarding the Russians using online personas to insert disharmony into social media sites and put out actual fake news about stuff and it worked. It actually did exactly what I wrote about back in March 2011. I know that terrorist organizations like ISIS used social media in a very savvy way to promote their worldview and recruit people. Our military public affairs figured it out late and fought hard to recapture their own media perspectives and now it is part of our toolkit.

It is a real thing that people have tapped into. I wish I was better at it, but I don’t really have an agenda, other than being here for when the time comes I have books out in the world, and to have a place to chat with people that like my books. In the meantime, I put out treacle like this post.


I’m enrolled in a course about Strategic Communication right now and with the explosion of the Facebook and Twitter revolutions across the Middle East it really puts a new face on the whole concept.  It really got me thinking about how interconnected we all are now all over the globe and how powerful the new social media really is.  I’ve read opinion that it is the most innovative development since the industrial revolution.  I’m not sure we understand all the ramifications yet.

How many of you have read Ender’s Game? (If you haven’t you really should) It was originally penned in 1977 by Orson Scott Card and there is a segment in there about Ender’s older siblings taking on personas on the “nets” to shape public opinion.  WOW is all I can say.

There was no true internet back then, not the way we know it now.  The first version of Windows didn’t come out until 1985.  The World Wide Web didn’t exist before 1990.  There were only USENET groups and electronic bulletin boards from the mid 80s until the early 90s.   Card was visionary with some of these ideas.

I see that now is the time when something like Locke and Demosthenes could actually be utilized with real effect — Agents with an agenda to shape public opinion.  Governments across the planet are fighting a war of ideas and information is a commodity.  The ability to shape global opinions through social media would be a powerful weapon if it could actually be harnessed somehow.  I think there is a kernel for a great story here.  But reality could be even more scary.  A determined group of people with money and some real savvy could build a network of social media personas to nudge opinions.  Collectively they could have a real impact on global viewpoints and if the recent events in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are any indication they could topple governments.  Food for thought.

Clear Ether!

Plans Dashed

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We joke at work a lot about how much you get injured working out to be in better shape. Somehow I managed to herniate myself, so I am off my training schedule for the mini-marathon. I was hanging on to my schedule by the skin of my teeth as it was, running about a week behind, with hopes of catching up. But I am giving up on making it to the mini in October. There is another close by in the Spring. So, if I can manage to keep running through the Winter months I will try that one.

The sucky part, other than the surgery, is that I was starting to enjoy running again. I haven’t really enjoyed it for many years, but I was finally getting into running form again after 6 months of effort. Getting old is not for wimps.

Hey, more time for writing, right?

I hope you are having a wonderful day just the same.

How do You do Social Media?

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During my MFA course we talked about how to present yourself to the world. Marketing yourself is pretty much expected these days. The problem for a lot of writers is that they tend to be introverts by nature, and having to put themselves out there in the public eye can produce a lot of anxiety. Especially doing live events, like conventions and sitting on panels or books signings. But even beyond that there seems to be an expectation by the industry to have a presence on social media.

There are so many now, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Patreon, Twitch, Flickr, Tumblr, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Blogger, WordPress and so many more. I found a link that discussed 165 different platforms for 2019. Holy crap.

Obviously, we don’t have time to do everything, and still have time to write. I could have stopped with the first half of that last sentence. We don’t have time for 165 different platforms even if we did nothing else.

Just keeping up this blog takes up quite a bit of my time when I could be writing more for my current work in progress. So, for me I spend most of my energy on three, WordPress, Twitter and Facebook. I have accounts for LinkedIn, and LiveJournal, Flickr, Tumblr, Patreon, Instagram, and YouTube, but I rarely use them, other than to peruse the content of others.

Are my three the best three? I have no idea. My kids tell me that nobody uses Facebook anymore. I have to laugh at that because it is still the largest with over 2.4 BILLION users. That is almost unbelievable. What my kids mean is young people rarely use Facebook now. My youngest spends a lot of time on Reddit, which I can barely stand, but he loves it.

Young people are always moving onto the hot new thing. Which, I have to admit, I have no idea what that might be. I try to stay up on current events, but pop culture moves fast at times, and I have no doubt that at some point it will leave me behind.

I know there is a fine line between selling too hard and not doing any. I think the real trick is to simply be you. I know that I don’t like following people that all they talk about is their latest book, with character discussion or snippets of their novel. If I don’t see some real personality in there, at least occasionally, then I don’t want to be your friend on there. In fact, we aren’t making any sort of connection, because all I am to you is a person to buy your book.

 

So, what are your favorites? If you are a writer or an artist do you actively market yourself? How do you go about it?

5 Things Friday – What I’ve Learned About Relationships

 

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  1. Honesty – It really is the best policy. Trust is huge. Jealousy is a horrible thing and lack of faith in the other person leads to this in many cases. I can vaguely remember being in the dating scene and trying to find someone you could trust. It is much harder than it should be. It was so refreshing meeting my wife. We don’t lie to each other and never have. I don’t have to remember what I told her to keep it straight, she already knows. We have been together a long time now, 27 years, and we have learned to trust each other implicitly. I think this is the bedrock of any strong relationship.
  2. Servant heart – This might sound funny, but what I mean is put your partner first. It takes both people doing this to make it work or resentment will follow. If you are always the one giving and not getting anything in return it won’t work in the long run. The reciprocal is also true. That is not to say we should do things to get things in return, but if both people are putting the other ahead of themselves it works fabulously. That doesn’t mean you can’t have solo time, or plan for things one person wants to do, but when you have the best interest of your partner in mind it all balances out.
  3. Communicate – This is true of just about any endeavor. It is usually the weakest link in any organization from big to small. Keeping others informed about what is going on will save embarrassment and hurt feelings. It helps others empathize if they understand what is going on. It allows you to have teamwork and accomplish things much easier than trying to shoulder a burden by yourself.
  4. Apologize – Even when you are not wrong. Sometimes it just takes someone to say they are sorry to break the ice. But especially if you are in the wrong. Being stubborn does not lead to a better relationship. My wife and I have a policy that we don’t go to bed mad at each other. I won’t say there haven’t been times when it was a close thing, but in the end we talk out whatever the issue may be, and we do try to put the other person first. Keeping that in mind when you are mad is hard sometimes, but in the long run letting go of your pride and remembering why you are together is usually enough of a reason. Making up is a wonderful feeling.
  5. Expectations –  Be clear about them up front. Don’t make your partner guess at what you expect. Don’t get mad at your partner because they didn’t do what you expected when you didn’t let them know. It is not intuitive to do this, even though it seems so obvious in retrospect. This sounds simple, and it is, but it surprises me how many people don’t do this easy thing. I tried to make it one of my priorities as a leader as well.

What have you learned about relationships?