Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back, to the Yukon!

We did a series a while back on Alaska. It was one of my favorites, so we are going back to that area again, only this time we will be looking at the Canadian side of the border. This week we will be looking at pictures of Dawson City during the Gold Rush. Hopefully we will have some fun, and hopefully we will hear from some of our Canadian friends.

Alright, it looks like I am the winner of the mystery person contest. The woman pictured below was Annie Russell, a noted actress at the turn of the century. It was a good contest, and many people were close, but no one got it.

Domestic Update: Well, I am happy to announce that Mrs. PJM's toilet is once again flushing properly. I had not shared details of this unfolding saga as it was just too painful, and the outcome was uncertain. Now that things are all under control, I will let you in on the story. It all started back at the end of September . . . you remember, back on the day that I had the Solar Panels installed. The Solar System was put in by Imperial Electric out of Dallas. They specialize in home solar and wind turbine installations. Wow, what a great organization. The owner of the company was here on site for the entire job. They were courteous, quick, professional, and knew what they were doing. I was impressed that if any of the workers needed to come in the house for something, they would take their shoes off at the front door. I do not expect people to do that, but it is a nice gesture that they respect your hardwood floors, and dont want to track them up. Anyway, these guys love what they do, and it really shows in their work.

So, they get everything installed. Once they had the system in, you can not turn it on until the evil Utility Company comes and inspects the system and set up. Well, as you know by now if there is anything I despise more than Government Bureaucrats, it is the Utility Company [Note to Self: prepare for inevitable IRS audit for speaking ill of Government Bureaucrats]. Anyway, I do not have time or space here to tell all the nightmare stories of my interactions with the Electric Man. But, I will just start with this one . . . to get the system turned on, we had to have the Utility company come out. Note that right off when they drove onto my property, they ran over my culvert. A culvert is the big metal tube that runs under your road, so that the water runs under your road, as opposed to washing your road away. They cut the corner as they turned in, ran over the end part of the culvert that sticks out, and smashed it closed, which sort of makes it hard for the water to run through it next time it rains. Then they came in to inspect the Solar system. Well, you can imagine seeing that they are in none to good of a mood, seeing that they would soon be buying electricity from me instead of selling electricity to me. They were really in a grumpy mood. Well, I showed them where the system was, and then went about my business. I guess the Imperial Electric Guys (the good guys that did the installation) showed them the details, and the Utility company agreed to let them switch it on. OK, then the system is on and up and running.

After everyone left, I went out to see the electric meter, and watch as it goes the wrong way as I am producing more energy than I am using. What a feeling of satisfaction . . . just my little way of sticking it to the Utility Man. Then I look down and notice that the beautiful Spanish Sage that I had planted underneath the meter had been stomped into the ground. I am sure the Imperial Electric guys did not do it, as they had been so careful in everything they had done. Nope, I am sure that the Utility Man did it, just as I SAW him run over the culvert. I did not get too upset, as you can always expect some damage any time they come on the property.

Boy, this is turning out to be a long story, but I will try and get it moving along now. Anyway, that evening as Mrs. PJM was washing her hair in the sink, she mentioned that we did not have very much water pressure. I told her it was probably because we are on a rural water system, and maybe they were working on the system. That was one possibility, but not the actual reason. So, we went on to bed, happy to know that we now were getting our electricity from the Solar System. Well, I get up the next morning, and get in the shower, turn it on, and we have NO WATER AT ALL. I stand there a second, and start thinking what the problem could be. As I was standing there, I noticed a large gushing like sound coming from outside. I get my clothes back on, get a flashlight, and go out and look at the backyard. I find that we have a geyser spraying a stream of water 40 feet in the air, coming from our back yard. The main waterline to the house has broken (interestingly, about 4 feet from the electric meter, and about 3 feet from the Spanish sage that had been stomped into the ground).

Now about two weeks before we had had 6 dump truck loads of dirt moved into the back, and had had grass put in so we could have a back yard. The geyser had sprayed up into the air all night long, had come down and landed in the yard, and had washed all the dirt and grass away. We were back down to the rock we had started with. So, I realized that the immediate problem was to get the water shut off. The bad thing was that the break was on our side of the water meter, so I was going to get charged for the water used during the break. I finally got out to the street, and started trying to turn the water off. There is this special tool you need, which I don't have, and so I had to use a hammer and pair of pliers. While I am trying to get it off, I notice that the meter is spinning at a very high rate of speed. The water is pretty high pressure where we live. There is a six inch water line that goes down the street, and we had a two inch line from there to the house. Because the two inch line cleanly broke, there was nothing to restrict the water flow, and it was flowing at a very high rate. Immediately I started wondering just how high the water bill might be due to this problem. I started worrying that it could be 3 or 4 thousand dollars. Anyway, I did get the water cut off. I got back into the house, and advised Mrs. PJM of the situation. The immediate crisis had been dealt with, but she would have to call the plumber to fix the broken water line.

OK, so I went on to work. When I got back, the plumber had fixed the water line, and things were nominally working again. Here is the problem though. Since the water line had broken underground, and it took a while for the leak to wash the ground away, and then to end up with the geyser . . . during this process, lots of rock and dirt ended up in the line and was now in the water lines in the house. So, after a little bit, many of our faucets and toilets stopped working because they were clogged up from the trash in the water line. So, for the last month, the toilet in Mrs. PJM's bathroom has not been working. Yesterday, I replaced that little valve unit inside the back of the toilet and it is working perfectly. So, we finally have everything back up and running again.

Now, here is the question. What are the chances that we have a major, freak, waterline break on the same day that we have the Utility Company come to our house, and the Utility Company learns that we are no longer going to be buying electricity from them. Coincidence? I think not. I think they probably had one of their Union Thugs sabotage the water line as payback. Be sure to vote in the poll this week.


  1. I'm thinking that your home owners insurance policy may cover this.

  2. Me again. I don't think that they did it on purpose, (how would they know where the line was located) but by accident

  3. How would they know where the water line was? How about all those little pink flags marking where the water line was. That might have given them a clue.

  4. Something similar happened to us with a frozen pipe that burst and ran for 3 days while we were out of town. Our water bill was over a thousand dollars. The water company let is wave that fee as a one time only courtesy. You may want to ask the local water company if they offer a similar deal.

  5. Did the guys from the Electric Company offer to take a report on the damage they did to your culvert pipe? That would have been the appropriate 'business practice' as I see it.

    And I do believe you should be filing a claim with the Utility Company for the damage they did. They would have to damn-well know what they had done.

    Did you say something to them at the time?

  6. Sorry, I didn't know that the water line was flagged.
    I hope you go after them BIG TIME.
    Nothing tic's me off more than some one doing damage (on purpose of by accident) and with out a I"M sorry, then act like nothing happened.

  7. PJM:

    Wow, what a story!! And since I can’t vote in your polls (because it causes my web browser to crash), I’ll vote HERE - the water main break is definitely related to the visit from the utility company - either directly or indirectly..

    Is it possible that by crushing the culvert, the buildup of water under the ground the made dirt and rocks shift - and that resulting pressure caused the water main to break??? But I’m glad to see that you called the plumber, this time. However, I’m sure you’re going to get HUGE water bill. The utility guys probably did that to make up for the fact that you’re not going to be paying for electricity any more - so they had get you somehow!!!

    I'd file a claim with them, if I were you.

    I’ve been in the middle of water problems myself, as I am putting in a new kitchen. And since my house is 75 years old, I received the happy news that not only does the plumbing in the kitchen have to be replaced, but I needed all new water lines coming into the house from the water meter and throughout. AND I have to run all water new lines to the upstairs bathroom while the ceilings are open, even though I’m not remodeling that area.

    Three different plumbers told me that house has “pipe cancer” and that I “could never sell it that way: - it won’t pass an inspection.” Isn’t that nice? The plumbing added $5,000 onto the cost of my project. They’ve been here for two weeks, and I don’t have any water while they’re working. What fun.

    Well . .. . at least least I’m doing my part to stimulate the economy!!!

  8. If this was sabotage, then something similar must have happened to the other customers of the solar panel company. Do you have any water supply of your own? A well? You talk about self sufficiency but it's a pipe dream (pun intended) if you must rely on a third party water system.
    Since you needed 6 dumptrucks of dirt in order to create a decent backyard, then your soil needs major amemdments to grow your own vegetables. To me self sufficiency means being able to do without any utilities in an emergency and to be able to grow some vegetables and fruits.

  9. PJM:

    go after them.


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