Joie de Vivre

Water Tower Engineer’s Guild Handbook

Last fall, while working on the barn renovation project, I found a well worn copy of the “Water Tower Engineer’s Guild Handbook.” It was truly an AMAZING find.

Water Tower Engineer's Guild Handbook

I am thinking the former owner of my house must have been a guild member – this book contains some rather esoteric material, stuff that Mr. and Ms. Vince J. Public doesn’t know. For example, I bet you didn’t know that water tower engineers and light house keepers have a special bond. They are close cousins, and part of a secret aquatic society. When the master of a lighthouse needs to travel inland, he always stays with a water tower guild member.

I’ve also learned something about the actual mechanics of different types of water towers. The “sky pimple” model uses a gravity driven well system (much like the lochs in the Panama canal) to pump water from underground aqueducts to the top of the tower. An octopus, usually, lives in the tower itself and manages the flow to surrounding communities [see diagram]. An octopus is as smart as a house cat – very clever – and much more industrious. That’s another guild secret – they understand the cephalopod mind. Some common East Coast water tower structures are summarized in the following diagram. Please click to view full sized version:

smaller view of water tower diagram

This book is packed with a lot of information that I don’t really understand – and I’m pretty sure that I am as least as smart as a house cat. As I learn more, I’ll post it here.

Joie de Vivre

Monsters: A History


It’s October in Baltimore. The leaves are changing colors (because they are dead) and blowing away in crisp chilly winds. The sky is getting dark earlier and everyone’s thoughts are turning to one thing: monsters. I am no different and thought I’d share some useful monster facts with you.


Monsters have been a vital part of every major iteration of civilization. While most people believe that the Tyrannosaurus Rex was the first monster to roam our planet, this isn’t actually true. Sharks were the first monsters, and sharks evolved into t-rexes (see figure 1). This is obvious from their dental plates (see figure 2).
Figure 1
(Figure 1)

Figure 2
(Figure 2)


In order for something to be considered a monster, it must meet the following criteria:

  • It must be larger than a full grown professional football player, and ideally, bigger than the building you find yourself hiding in during a monster attack (see figure 3).
    Monster attack in Baltimore
    (FIGURE 3)
  • It cannot be a mammal. [NOTE: Mammals can’t be monsters, unless they are dead. An example would be an enormous stuffed deer head hanging in a ski lodge that uses its endlessly long, sticky tongue to capture tourists and impale them on its horns (see figure 4). Obviously, this is how zombies are created. Zombies, strictly speaking, are not monsters, unless they happen to be exceptionally large dead linebackers that were impaled by dead deer heads.]
    Deerhead monster
    (FIGURE 4)


The best way to survive a monster attack is to not let the monster see you. As monsters typically do not get involved with basements, it is optimal to be in a concrete, windowless basement corridor until the attack has passed.

In the event that a monster has seen you, the widely accepted best practice is to run away from the monster screaming and waving your arms. If enough people do this, the monster will become confused and frustrated and will move to another urban area. Monsters are drawn to urban areas primarily for a healthy supply of crunchy buses and trains. Noisy panic and mayhem are understandably distracting.

Monster attacks declined considerably with the advent of influenza vaccine. Medical professionals have drastically reduced to use of radiation to treat the flu, and there is a direct correlation between the decline crunchy radioactive buses and trains and the monsters that attack and devour them.


Please use the comment field below to share your own monster attack stories. Have a safe and spooky Halloween.

Joie de Vivre


My youngest asked some really tough questions this week.

  • Do spiders have families?
  • What is wood made of?
  • Do people have meat?
  • Are brains squishy like tongues (grabs tongue while saying this)?
  • Wanna know what stars are made of? Circles.


Joie de Vivre

Key to happiness

I found it!!!!

Key to happiness!

Joie de Vivre

Green Commuting

I live close enough to the train station that I can ride a bike there. Recently, I noticed there are bike lockers available, so I dusted off my green friend here.

The green machine

I love this bike.

Joie de Vivre

Holy Hellfire Sandwich!!!

The big haul from the garden this year has been peppers. I have lots of jalapenos, a cayenne, and multiple varieties of the habanero. The peppers I grow seem to alternate in intensity each summer. Last summer? Super wimpy peppers. The one before that? The hottest Jalapenos I’ve ever eaten. I was delighted to learn that peppers freeze really well – I have 8 gallon sized zip-lock bags already, and no end in sight. I am harvesting a bowl full of them every other day.

Bowl of peppers

I’ve been making a sandwich most mornings that goes like this:

1 fried egg (sometimes with cheese)
1 toasted whole wheat muffin (or just wholegrain toast)
2 jalapenos, with seeds, chopped
1 or 2 habaneros with seeds, chopped
1 dab of ranch dressing

I add the peppers to the egg while it’s cooking, so they are fixed in the egg white. The vapor from the pan can be a little intense. And so can the sandwich, but that’s what makes it fun.