Pipe Dream

January 19, 2011


From 10 years ago today. When I was a young man, I thought I could do anything, and my spouse believed me. When I was a middle-aged man, I still thought I could do anything, but my spouse had grown skeptical. Now that I’m an older man, I’m beginning to suspect the truth myself. On the subject of plumbing, I once had a friend and neighbor who is no longer with us. He had retired from a career in the U.S. Navy, where he serviced and repaired diesel engines. These were ship engines; the Navy had some big diesel engines! When he finally retired, he began a second career as a plumber. Residential plumbing must have seemed like child’s play to him. In fact, he always told people a plumber only needs to know two things: hot water goes on the left, and sewage flows downhill, though my friend the old Navy man did not say “sewage.” I know from firsthand experience that he was exaggerating.


58 thoughts on “Pipe Dream”

  1. I’m thinking that “Don’t bite your nails” and “Payday is on Friday” were two other plumber rules. In retirement I am remodeling a bathroom, pex tubing is no much nicer to work with than copper!

  2. Plumbing has always been one of my least favorite chores around the house. Even hand tighten fittings almost always cross thread. As soon you start working on a sewage repair, your nose starts to itch.

  3. Home repairs for me used to involve three steps:

    1. Start project
    2. Screw it up
    3. Call the local plumbing/electric/HVAC company (who did the original inspection on my house nearly 30 years ago) to fix my mistake(s)

    I’ve learned to go straight to step 3. Saves time, frustration, and (surprisingly) money.

  4. My husband is very good at normal home repairs but we learned early in our marriage that with plumbing, especially in an older home, it’s cheaper to let a professional do it.

  5. I 1) love old houses, to date having purchased and restored 2 abused examples, and 2) am by no stretch of the imagination wealthy; ergo, no matter how I have earned my bread, I have also perforce become a painter, a plasterer, a drywaller, an electrician, a carpenter, a roofer, a tiler………you get the idea.

    Most of these jobs truly I enjoy – but I hate plumbing, and plumbing hates me. I still do the other stuff (or did until my recent gimpatude), but in my dotage I choose to scrape up enough to pay a real plumber.

    My son assures me that Pex makes all the difference, but I am not interested enough to try.

        • I had a college friend of the blonde female variety who’d drive me between class and dorm in her new PINK T-bird convertible, either ’56 or ’57! While I am not a coffee fan, when she wanted to stop for a cup, I certainly played along. Such rides were highly valued by this guy. As a much more recent blonde female friend observed, “Got ya’ a lot of street cred, eh?” I guess so.

      • My high-school basketball coach had a ’54 Corvette (convertible) that he’d converted to a dragster. I would have loved to have it as an original, but I wouldn’t have had much use for an alcohol fuel race car. :/ A Shelby Cobra would be a strong contender for second choice. Of course, my day-driver is a 1-ton Dodge pickup…

  6. In my youth I could and did fix/install anything. We had a Kenmore washer and dryer (who didn’t in those days). At the Sears parts store you could get any little part down to the tiniest spring or screw. I can remember tearing apart the washer and replacing one of those tiny springs. I also installed our dishwasher, replace a toilet, replaced the under-flooring in the bathroom and a dozen other tasks. My career was computer programming and as the years passed I got to thinking, “The plumber doesn’t do his own computer programming, it’s not fair for me to do my own plumbing. ” Of course now I have a son-in-law who can do these repairs, except he doesn’t have time. He’s also a computer programmer and in this cell phone age, a person is always on call and working 24/7. I’m so glad I’m not young any more.

  7. The worst plumbing job that I tried to do was less than a month after getting my hip replaced, I tried to install a new faucet in our bathroom…on a Sunday night!. I called my son about 10:00 to get the name of a plumber to come out and instead, he decided to come out and finish the job. I think he was done about midnight! Not having the mobility really hurt (literally!) and my son is more naturally gifted in those areas!

      • Everybody, till you get someone who can answer. I can change a shower head for one of the handheld type, pretty easily. They are designed and documented for that. I can change a toilet seat too. But for more than that, call the qualified. I never had issues changing light switches or swapping out light fixtures mounted on the wall or ceiling. In the house we lost to foreclosure, I exchanged the ceiling fixture in the dining room for the one they installed over the front door inside, because they looked better that way. We had 16 foot ceilings, so that one over the front door was a long way up and I was glad we had the foresight to buy a good extension ladder.

  8. My greatest problem has been “helpful friends. “Oh, I can do that for you and save you a lot of time and money.” Until I learned better, it typically took three times as long and cost twice as much as hiring a professional.
    Now I just say, “Thanks, but I’ve already made other arrangements.”

  9. I believe the third thing you must know to be a plumber is “Double time on Sunday.”

    Which brings to mind the old joke of a doctor calling a plumber to fix a broken pipe. The job took an hour and the plumber handed the doctor the bill. The doctor looked at it and Said, “My goodness, I’m a doctor and don’t make this much money!!” The plumber replied, “Neither did I when I was a doctor.”

  10. Just thought I’d toss this in:
    (usual mathematical style) (31, 3), (32, 6), (33, 9), (34, 2), (35, 5), (36, 8), (37, 2), (38, 8), (39, 4), (40, 0)
    ………………………………………………..(41, 4), (42, 8), (43, 2), (44, 6), (45, 0), (46, 8), (47, 6), (48, 6), (49, 8), (50, 0)
    .
    The dots are just to line up the numbers. Now, if each pair is shown as (x, y), what is the relationship between x and y for all the above examples?

    • X is consistently a two digit number. Insert a multiplication operation between these digits. For solutions less than 10, you have defined Y. For solutions greater than nine, reduce further by repeating this manipulation of numerals until you yield a single digit, that solution is Y. If there is a single word or phrase that defines this process, I have forgotten learning it. Thank you for the puzzle.

      I had to recheck the later elements of the series, that is why I was so close to wrong. On second look, realized the operation needed a recycling loop.

    • I should have demonstrated. For (49,8): 4×9=36 , 3×6=18 , 1×8=8 . For (58,,0): 5×8=40 , 4×0=0 ; true of all even values with a leading digit 5. For (69, 6×9=54 , 5×4=20 , 2×0=0 ; oops there it is again, pesky zero.

  11. My mother had a know-it-all landlord. I had to be on hand one day when he came to work on an electrical problem in the basement. I offered to turn off the circuit breaker and he said “You don’t need to turn off the electricity if you know what you’re doing!” So I had the satisfaction of watching him put the screwdriver in the outlet box and blow his sorry a** across the basement. THEN I went to turn off the circuit. But he certainly wasn’t wrong.

  12. Everything I know about electricity, I learned from Dave Barry:
    (Benjamin) Franklin had proved an important scientific point, which is that electricity originates inside clouds. There, it forms into lightning, which is attracted to golfers. After entering the ground, the electricity hardens into coal, which, when dug up by power companies and burned in big ovens called “generators,” turns back into electricity, which is sent in the form of “volts” (also known as “watts,” or “r.p.m.” for short) through special wires with birds sitting on them to consumers’ homes, where it is transformed by TV sets into commercials for beer, which passes through the consumers and back into the ground, thus completing what is known as a “circuit.”

  13. A friend had a “56 Corvette 6pack before he went into the Air Force about ’61.
    .
    Two other plumbing hints: Righty Tighty -Lefty Loosy (mostly – with notable exceptions)- and
    if you try to change a washer Sunday night you will soon work your way out to the Stopcock in the street.
    .
    C-ep it appears that the lower x is 10 more than the upper – the lower y is a progressive 1 more 2 more 3 more etc.?

    • The upper row vs. the lower row is just a matter of my listing of the pairs; nothing to do with the question. The x values run from 31 through 50, inclusive.

    • Oh, yeah. I learned in flight and firearms training that it takes approximately 5000 repetitions of an action before it becomes ingrained behavior. So, relax, Arlo. A few thousand more times and everything will be right as rain.

      • A lens popped out of my reading glasses yesterday. Fortunately, I have a tiny little screwdriver with which to tighten the tiny little screw that holds the lens in the frame. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help one very much when one cannot remember where one’s spare reading glasses are, so as to be able to see what one is doing. 🙁

  14. Another not-pro-tip:
    1) Go to “home improvement” box store.
    2) Ask question.
    3) Probably get less-than-great advice.
    4) Take part to checkout.
    5) Pay.
    6) Immediately take part(s) to return counter, usually located at front of store.
    7) Get money charged back to card.
    8) Go back to #2, above, but find different advice-giver.
    9) Pray.
    10) Go home and discover you still have the wrong part.
    11) If you are lucky, you only have to repeat ##4-5 twice.

    • Personally, I find it offensive because the cartoonist portrays God as picking people’s pockets. If he had chosen pastors I would have no such feelings because too often those who represent themselves as God’s people do so to take advantage of the respect which is rightfully God’s. Have a listen to Ray Stevens’ song “Would Jesus Wear A Rolex?.

  15. Yes emb. You have proven yourself to be correct again. Your suspicion holds true. Several find it offensive. Which causes me to question, not your clarity of insight into others thoughts, but your motivation in sharing the comic with people you have already concluded would be offended. This is an interesting presentation of the content of character,. (nod to the Rev. King)

    Or does this mean you’ve proven your second clause? Does this indicate that we are among the group, ” especially those it really applies to. “? I an interested in your analysis,

  16. My critique of the art in Looks Good on Paper does not rest on the simplicity of the drawing, but my continued observation of those that do not revere God take particular pleasure in mocking those who do. Change the elements to Di Modica’s Charging Bull and the cloudy bit to a suit cuff labled IRS, or more broadly, Government; then I think there is fodder for discussion.

  17. And to think I honestly worried that emb had passed away or succumbed to COVID-19. Just shows my eternal concern for those with whom I disagree and those who deliberately attempt to offend others.

    Just scroll through his comments and do not read or respond to them. I would have hated having him as a professor in college, he probably assigned seats so he could leer easier.

    • I was relieved to read emb had such outstanding accommodations available him. That he had chosen to take part in the advantages found there. That the transition had been achieved, and that he found comfort there. I hope all of us can make such difficult changes at the appropriate times in our own lives. I applaud emb for the accomplishment, and herald him a good role model for this achievement.

      However, I found a reflective bit of humor when I got to C Kennel today, https://www.gocomics.com/dogsofckennel/2021/01/20 . I had asked emb to share his motivation. Without his answer to change my view, he appears somewhat like Will’s agent of chaos. I choose to allow him opportunity to shed better light on his contribution. If my own efforts also seem trollish to others, please also scroll over my comments.

      I remember the furniture for front rows of lecture halls and classrooms formerly feature modesty panels. And that fine young ladies were instructed by someone who cared, to be aware of conditions that could cause a blemish to their modesty. Good that you and your peers were aware of these things.

  18. Who read the descriptions of the “Royal Proper Seating ” during the Meghan-Harry debacle? You kept your knees together and your ankles together and if necessary slid them together to one side or beneath you to adjust for seating heights.

    That’s how you sat in 1950s and 60s when we still wore dresses and skirts for all events. I never wore pants or shorts for any events in college except my Agricultural courses like butchering or training animals.

    We used the Royal Seating rules.

    How have so many very senior college professors ended up here?

  19. Re 1-21-21 real-time cartoon, panel 4: It seems there should be a Limerick with Bangor in it. But probably there isn’t, as Bangor is a four-hour drive from Limerick.

  20. The relatively lower relative humidity of winter-time Oklahoma, compared to that where I formally lived; using alcohol-based hand sanitizers for almost a year; and the natural aging process of human epidermis have conspired to seriously dry out the skin on my hands, especially of my fingers and fingertips. I looked at them under a good light last night at bedtime and thought, “I have alligator fingers!” If alligators had fingers, which they sort of do. At least their skin doesn’t crack from dryness, which mine is doing, especially on my fingertips.
    So, today I went to a trusted source and obtained some lanolin-based balm to try to soften my skin. (“It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told… It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.”) I had a moment of concern when I noticed the container has a picture of a horse on it. But the label says it is non-toxic and does not require gloves to be used for application. So I suppose that will be OK for me to use. Out of an abundance of caution, I’ll ask Jackie to make sure I continue to have oatmeal for breakfast and do not switch to actual oats.

    • I found the Bag Balm to be very greasy, though. Right now I’m trying out Eucerin Advanced Repair, which seems to be working pretty well. I’ve had problems with dry, cracked skin in the winter for years and keep trying new products to see if one works for me. There was one called SBS40 that was the best I’ve used at keeping my skin from cracking. But the manufacturer sold it to another company who changed the formula. And the last time I tried it, it no longer did the job.

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