Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dare To Be Stupid

Some bloggers write only about the happy, successful events of their lives, choosing to present a Pollyanna view of their world to their readers. Other bloggers seem to use their writings as a vent-all for everything wrong in their lives and others still just avoid all personal references all together by simply posting photographs. I don't criticize any of these; it's every person's right to blog how they want to! But I do, on the other hand, try to present an even flow, a happy medium between senseless joy and head-banging dismality. Even so, I thought seriously about not presenting this post. Just wipe it out and none of you would be the wiser. However, it does have a good lesson in it; one that is best learned by you observing someone else's stupidity, rather than risk yourself. And lest any of you think that I am truly, always Queen of the Universe, I do present this story to remind you that even I don't always know what the hell I'm doing. There is much to be said for sheer determination in the face of adversity but there should also be much said for not being impatient and getting aggravated easily.
So, you know of the problems that occurred last week with the water pump and my struggle to correct this malfunction, which I did. Well, not one day after my 'success', I was thwarted again when I got up that morning and realized I had no water again. I resigned myself to the situation and walked down to the spring and pump house to see what the problem was. Upon arriving at the spring, I saw that an old, rubber coupling had let go (I failed to check if it was still tight) and the water line was just laying open. Now, here is where I made my first mistake. I forgot that this end of the line had a backflow preventer installed, so the water in the line would not run out in such a situation. It also has a regular shut-off valve below the preventer, and knowing this was open, I assumed all the water below the pump had run out. This meant, in my mind, that the pump and all lines below, would need to be reprimed. So, I put the line back together, actually moving the footvalve back to the original spring (more about this later) and then going up to the pump house to see what was going on there.
When I got to the pump house, the pressure tank was registering about 40 lbs, but knowing that just air was coming out of the lines at the house, I was skeptical that was water in the tank. I opened the drain cock on the pressure tank, and sure enough, just air came out. So, I thought I bled the pressure off the tank. Second mistake here. I was tired and aggravated and I guess I just didn't wait long enough to see that all the pressure was off. Now, some of you who are knowledgeable of such things may be grimacing and squirming in your seats right about now. You can guess what I did. I got my other tools and checked the fittings on the pump. Everything seemed okay there. All the new iron fittings had held, no apparent leaks etc. So, thinking that the line coming into the pump was dry and the pressure tank was empty, I knew I needed to prime the pump and lines so that it could start to draw water again. So, I unscrewed the plug on the top of the pump. Now, if you have never been busted in the face with a one inch, steel plug going oh, about 40 mph, it is a difficult sensation to describe to you. The odd thing is, I can't really say that it hurt. I think pain of that magnitude just goes over to shock. I knew right away something was wrong but couldn't really say what. Then I saw blood dripping on my shirt sleeve. At this point I just sat down and called Allen. He was the closest person that I knew would know what to do. After a few moments, I regained some sense (not much) and saw that the bleeding had stopped, so I went back to work trying to get the pump going. It would run but didn't seem to be drawing water. Allen arrived after a while and when he walked up I could tell from the look on his face that something more was wrong with my face. I thought the force of pressure had just bloodied my nose a little. Not so. The plug had cut a line from my nose down to my lip and it was swelling now. Real pretty. I am extremely fortunate that it had not hit me in the eye or forehead though. In the end, Allen got the pump running again. I had just not let it run long enough and while it took a considerable amount of time to get the air out of the lines, everything cleared out and all is functioning well now.
So, the moral of this little story is this: not much is so bad that it can't be fixed, so don't go to work on something with a crappy attitude and get in a hurry. You are the one that is going to suffer if something goes wrong. Check out the whole situation and if you are not sure about something, ASK somebody who would know.
The experience did have a previously unforseen benefit though! I got to use my busted face as a draw for sympathy from Mr. Mouse, who came to visit on Saturday. That even backfired on me somewhat however, because a sore upper lip is not what you want when being kissed by a man with a mustache!

*Weird Al Yankovic


HermitJim said...

I really don't mean to laugh at your misfortune, but I couldn't help myself! I had to grin a bit, especially when you mentioned getting kissed on a busted lip by someone with facial hair!

Don't worry, we all have some stories like that we could share...but most of us don't!!

Glad you got your water back to working...and I hope your bobo is OK now!

Anonymous said...

Good lord, I am glad you didn't have anything worse happen, hope you are healing well. It is all too easy sometimes for these things to the kisses helped though LOL!

Chieftain of Seir said...

Everyone is familiar with doing stupid things when you are tired and in a rush. But when you work in the trades, you get lots of reminders that being stupid because you are tired and in a rush can get you killed.

Not to long ago, I displayed stupidity on scale that still has me scared. It certainly was stupider then anything you have ever recounted.

I was tasked with taking a used motor starter and making it work on another application. The reason for this jurry rigging was that I was replacing a motor starter that had been burned up because someone had mis-wired it.

So they sent me it to cobble some spare parts and make it work.

Somehow I got it in my head that the guys doing the job before me were stupid. I figured that the dang fools had tried to wire the transformer for 120, when anyone could see that you were going to need to power the coil with 208.

And none of that matter anyhow because their stuff was fried and needed to be ripped out anyway. I was in a rush (and I was using a stater with a 208 coil instead of trying to use a step down transformer like they did).

And I knew I was in a rush, so when I got done, I checked and double checked everything. I made sure that all three legs were pulling in. I made sure nothing was back feeding. I made sure none of the legs was drawing high amps.

I remember how suprised I was by how low the amps were, and that should have clued me in to how stupid I was being. But like every other test I did, I saw but nothing registered.

I showed my boss that it worked, was the hero for the hour, and that was it until the next day.

Next day the motor starter ran for a little bit then stopped.

Long story short I hooked it up to 480 instead of 208. So the coil in the motor starter lasted for a little while before it burned up.

There was no excuse in the world for what I did. I can't even understand how I did it.

All I can think is that because I was told that there was only 120/208 in the building, my mind refused to see anything that contradicted that idea. That is a pretty poor excuse considering all the checking I did with my meter.

I must have been in some kind of dream world where my brain only saw what it wanted to see regardless of what was really there.

But I remember enough of what I was seeing on my meter to know that I should have realized what I had done long before it burned up the coil. But even though I did all the proper tests, I was not paying attention or something.

I don't use drugs or beer. I don't even like to take caffeine. And yet I still did something so stupid as for it to beyond belief.

I have closer to getting myself killed, but I don't know that I have ever done something that stupid before.

It still bothers me today because if I get that stupid again I could kill somebody.

But I guess that is the thing about the trades. You never get good enough that you don't have to stay scared.

Beau said...

Oh my... I can see that happening. Ought to be an indicator or something for that? You were lucky- and glad you're okay! I've thought of starting a category for "almost dying" or "lucky I'm still alive" or something. Not ready to go there yet... i.e. your first comments :)

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Whoa . . . you are lucky it didn't hit you in the eye or the temple.
Take care of yourself.

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

Boy, I'll tell ya, if I blogged about every stupid thing I did, I'd be doing alot of blogging. lol. I'm glad to hear that your injury was'nt as bad as it could have been. Good luck with that nasty old water system, and all the other challenges that lie ahead.

edifice rex said...

Hey Jim! well, it's funny NOW! lol! kinda!

Hey molly! yes, they did! lol! yeah, it is easy, that's the bad part.

Hey Chieftain! good to hear from you again. You make a VERY good point and I was actually going to write another post on that point basically. In our trade, stupid can get you killed or someone else. Glad nobody got hurt on yours but I know exactly what you mean and about every other tradesperson I know has done something similar that later scares the crap out of us, so you are not alone. I know I'll be more vigilant about such in the future and i'm sure you will too! It's a good thing for us to learn and no one had to get bad hurt.

Hey Beau! Yeah, I was lucky and I could have a 'lucky i'm still alive' category too! They should make some kind of pressure gauge for the pump but i still should have known better.

Hey Bonnie! yes, i am very lucky!

edifice rex said...

Hey Hermit! lol! well, I would be doing alot more posting myself if I told ya'll everything like that! But I learned my lesson on that one!

Pablo said...

Yes, I appreciate the variety in your blog. I have more than my share of stupid things.

Since you won't post any racy pictures (!) why don't you post a photo of your busted lip?

Richard said...

We all have done our share of stupid things and fortunately lived to talk about it.

Have you ever noticed that plumbers always put their free hand over the fitting when they unscrew it. Now you know why...:-)

Ed said...

Glad to hear that you nickname now isn't cyclops. Thanks for the lesson.

edifice rex said...

Hey Pablo! How about a racy photo with my busted lip?! lol!

edifice rex said...

Hey Richard! yeah, fortunately! I never really paid attention to plumbers working I guess! maybe I should change that!

Hey Ed! really! I'm glad too!

karl said...

ouch, sorry i had to learn something at your expense. ikwym about posting a variety of stuff. i kinda stick to the rule that i post what is bouncing around in my head when i'm near a computer with a little time. i try to make sure that i document stuff for myself that i might learn from my own mistakes or successes. i also blog a bit for my geographically distant close friends and family. photos of the farm, kids and family are always needed. finally i like to give back a little. when i have a morsel of info that i recently discovered or something that seems pertinent to farm happenings i like to share.

edifice rex said...

Hey Karl! good to hear from you. yeah, those are similar to what i post about. If I learn something new or think somebody else could learn from what I know, I like to post about it.