Pond Damage

When Tropical Storm Isaiah hit town, we lost power for a couple of days but also had some pond damage.

The Pond on a good day

It turns out a branch not only landed in the stream between the waterfall and the main pond, it also pieced the rubber liner that keeps the water from seeping into the groundwater.

I tried using some Flex Tape the boys got as a joke for Christmas but is surprisingly didn’t stick. I think it was because the rubber was dirty because the Flex Tape was very happy to stick to nearby rocks. I supplemented the Flex Tape with some clear Flex Seal and let it dry for a couple of days. I ran the pond but unfortunately the water level dropped indicating I still had a problem.

I did some further investigation and notice a seam in the rubber. It appears the builder just overlaid some sheets and didn’t seal them. Then I noticed that the branch went through two layers of rubber… and I only sealed one.

Exposing the second hole

Next Day…

Today, I added the patch I bought from Half Off Ponds. First I was told to clean the area with gasoline and then apply the sealer they provided. I was a little concerned about the gasoline and the fish but it all evaporated quickly. (Ironically, I have plenty of gasoline left over from the generator after Isaias.)

I screwed up the first one as the self-stick folded over and formed an excellent seal with itself. The second one seemed to work better but I am concerned about a couple of creases.

12×12 patch in place

I am going to let this dry and then hit the edges with some Flex Seal for good measure. Then I will fold back the overlapping original liner and use the remaining patch kit parts to seal the seams.

Day 3 (?)

I may be getting a little sloppy. I used the extra 6×12″ patches to seal the seam between liners. I didn’t get the area quite as clean as I did with the main patch and I think some of the adhesion is bad. I will spray again tomorrow with clear Flex Seal and (hopefully) call this all done.

Sealing the seam

Some time later.. (12 Sept 2020)

We have had a couple of days of rain which have delayed my progress. I went out to spray the Flex Seal but the liner was really muddy. I hosed it down but noticed the water was pooling. Instead of cleaning that out, I took it as a sign that the seals were finally holding (knock on wood).

Pooling water…good seal?

I let it sit for 30 minutes and the water remained, so I thought it would be time to test the water fall and stream. I started the pump and rearranged some rock. I will let it run for a couple of hours and see if the overall water level remains constant.. fingers crossed.

Water flow test.


Ever since we started letting the cats out, they have become real pests about going out and have figure out how to brute force the screen door. By putting their weight on the frame and clawing to the right, it is fairly easy to bypass the simple Andersen locking mechanism.
There has to be a better way.
Earlier, they broke the knob that latches to the screen and I found a replacement 3D model on Thingiverse. It has worked well, but proved to not be sufficiently cat-proof.

The problem is that the standard latch only prevents lateral movement. As soon as the cats put weight on the door and push it out, the latch disengages and slides open easily.
So my thought was what if the latch grabbed the screen door? I found this on Thingiverse, but it would require too many new holes in my door and frame.

So off to Tinkercad…with a slight detour to SketchUp. It took some searching, but I was able to find a 3D model of the handle in their 3Dwarehouse. Unfortunately, the model was in Sketchup format and I don’t own Sketchup. Luckily, their free web version will let you save in STL format, so I could subsequently tweak it in Tinkercad.

My plan was to add a plate to the handle so my latch had something to grab onto. That was pretty simple. When I printed the piece, the only surprise was that the back of the finger cutout was only hanging on by a hair and popped out. I may fix this at some point, but for now it is fine.
Next I needed to tweak the latch. Again, this was pretty simple in Tinkercad.

This worked pretty well once installed. The door was now rock solid when locked, but it was a little too tight and hard to open.

Another tweak shortened the latch portion and extended the grip.

I tried to extend the base (the round part) so that the latch better lined up with the door handle, but it wasn’t enough. But instead of remodelling and reprinting, I simply resorted to some old fashioned washers to offset the mechanism sufficiently.
Now the door is cat-proof and wife friendly…at least until the cats simply break through the screen.


Our Duck Pond

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard came by today to check out the real estate in the area. They spend a good 30 minutes checking out the food supply and the local nesting potential. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to be overly impressed with the property. Perhaps if Tom would clean out the accumulated leaves at the bottom of the pond they would have been more excited. Or maybe if they had been actual coy (coi?) in the pond…


Let it snow

This is what the house looked like during the first snow of the 2007 season. This is back when we thought snow was cute.

Now that we have lived through the second snow, the “honeymoon” phase has passed. Tom is very thankful for the early Christmas present his mother provided…an electric shovel. Unfortunately, it was only used to clear half of the circular drive this time…and now the other half is a 1″ deep sheet of ice covered in hard snow. Winter cement.
Add to that the fact that the town people that clear our new sidewalks think that our driveway is a convenient dumping area for accumulated snow (after Tom has cleared a path for the car). Now there are two pillars of snow to navigate through in order to get to the street. And the quaint hump that leads from the street to the house is now a treatorous ice slide…fun for both driving over and walking to the mail and trash.
But is does make for a lovely picture.


The Big Fig on the air!

Our good friend and famed actor Jimmy Harder (aka “The Big Fig”; see in Sept 17 entry) was interviewed this morning on KRNA radio (94.1 out of DesMoines, Iowa) by DJ’s Greg Dwyer and Bill Michaels (themselves aka “Two Dorks”). Apparently, the two were reminiscing about their favorite TV commercials and they started to discuss the old Fig Newton classis featuring Jimmy. A quick Google search and they found the video on YouTube. Timing is everything, as the video was only recently posted to YouTube. (We have been searching for a copy for years.)
Here is a link to the commercial:

Here is a recording of the radio interview:
Download the interview (right click then save-as)


Happy Birthday, Ms. Hepburn

Saturday was the 100th Anniversary of Katherine Hepburn’s birth. Ms. Hepburn was a resident of Jen and Tom’s Turtle Bay neighborhood and she was very well loved by the community. Many people in the area got together to celebrate her birthday.

Tristan had a great time at the party. Running all around the plaza, he tuckered his parents out.


We're buying a house!

Since Tom’s company is expecting him to work from home and with Tristan becoming a big brother, the Payne family was simply running out of space in their NYC apartment. So it with mixed emotions that the seemingly inevitable move is upon us. Chappaqua, here we come!

If everything goes according to plan, the house code named “the French Colonial” will be the new Payne homestead in late May.
If you know of anyone who would like to buy a wonderful, sunny New York City apartment, point them this way…


Mr. Fix It

Tristan decided to help his dad work on the stereo when one of the speakers wouldn’t work. It turned out that this wasn’t even the location of the problem, but Tristan and Dad had fun working together.


Tom gets quoted in the NY Post

October 23, 2006 — Bureaucratic bungling, incompetence and old-fashioned greed have short-circuited a plan to install free wi-fi in city parks, critics charge.
Two years ago, the city Department of Parks and Recreation awarded a contract to set up wireless Internet access in 10 city parks, but to date, only two of those parks are up and running.
Parks spokesman Ashe Reardon conceded that only a handful of “hot spots” in Central Park currently work. Wi-Fi Salon, the company awarded the contract two years ago to take the parks wireless, claims Battery Park also is online.
“It’s been a long process,” said Reardon. “But we’re working on it.”
City Councilwoman Gale Brewer told The Post she’s “frustrated” by the situation and blasted the Parks Department as “technologically challenged.”
Wi-fi activists also are fed up.
“No one at the top of the Parks Department food chain knows anything about wi-fi or the Internet,” said Dana Spiegel, the executive director of NYC Wireless, a volunteer group.
In one case, she said, the department demanded a $1.5 million insurance policy from the community group Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza after it said it wanted to install a free hot spot there.

“I don’t know what liability the city was worried about,” said Friends director Tom Payne. “That the antenna would fall on somebody’s head?”

In another example of bureaucratic bungling, a firm building Philadelphia’s free, citywide wireless network offered to construct a hot spot in Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn at no cost to the city – but the department held it up, critics said.
Sources inside and outside city government charge that the department is dragging its feet in order to sign up corporate sponsors – and pump revenue out of them.


The Office

Jennifer surprised Tom with a surprise visit to the office with Tristan. In order to give dad a break, Tristan took over for a while…