Monday, August 20, 2007

Cool Video Camera

I heard a review about this cool video camera (Sanyo Xacti VPC-E1) and am in the process of picking one up for my family to use. I will give a review shortly after playing with it for a few weeks. It is available in blue, white, and yellow. Click the photo to see current Amazon pricing.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Western Pool & Spa Show

Sorry I’ve been away from the blog recently. I’ve had a lot going on in my life and this has slipped some.

I’ve scored an invitation to attend the “industry only” Western Pool & Spa Show this weekend in Long Beach, CA. I’ve been told that it is the best one here in the southwest. Here in North America the pool industry seems to roll out their new products during the winter (January through March), which makes sense since the swim season is just about to get going. I am planning to come back with lots of topics for pool owners to add to this blog.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

New Pool Construction Timing

If you are planning to have a new pool constructed to use during the summer 2007, it is probably too late if you have not already selected your pool builder. Most of the better pool builders have already gotten their hands full with work. I strongly recommend not pushing for a new pool to be completed for the beginning of the swim season because it is just too big of an investment to end up with a less than desirable final project.

Now is a good time to find the “best” pool builders (e.g., those that are already too busy) and start to follow their work to see how the entire project goes. If you have friends and/or neighbors starting a pool visit the construction at least once a week to see how things proceed.

I plan to continue with the rest of the photos of my pool eventually.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Wisconsin middle school gets it right

Here I sit within a few miles from the Pacific Ocean and some of the most popular beaches in the world, and an inland state (yes, I know they have coasts on two Great Lakes and many other bodies of water) is doing a better job of providing water safety to their students. When are we as a population going to realize there is much more to learning than just test scores? Sometimes I think we loose the forest for the trees.

How as a society can we possible believe an emphasis on fences, locks, latches, etc. could possibly be as important as teaching children how to swim?

Here’s an example from here in Orange County. There is a local elementary school where the 5th grade class (10 or 11 years old) of about 100 kids has celebrated the end of the school year and their promotion to middle school with a swim party for at least the last decade until this year. The party was held at a local homeowner’s association facility where they have a swimming pool (shallow and deep ends) without diving boards as well as a wading pool. There are two lifeguard stands situated on the east and west sides of the pool with one primarily covering the deep end and the other primarily covering the area transitioning from shallow to deep.

During the spring of 2006 a non-swimmer attended the party and their parent did not inform anyone of the child’s swimming ability (or inability). Instead the parent told their child not to go to the deep end of the pool. Those of us with kids this age know that 5th graders are only somewhat better than teenagers at remembering and actually following this type of direction. During the course of the party this non-swimmer ended up in the deep end and in trouble. The lifeguards became aware of the situation and pulled the child out of the water and provided the needed assistance in what would be considered a near-drowning event. As a precautionary measure the paramedics were summoned and the child visited the emergency room.

The school principal and superintendent have permanently canceled this type of event. While I do not believe any type of lawsuit came from this incidence, being in one of the most litigious areas of the world (the great state of California) it very easily could have. Life has risks; a few should be avoided or eliminated but the vast majority should be understood, mitigated, and/or concurred. What do we teach our young when we choose not to face risk?

Growing up I lived in inland Los Angeles County. Many years ago when I “graduated” from elementary school we had a pool party too, which was great fun and a good experience for all those that attended. Also, we had a second party where we road school busses about 60 miles each way for a day of fun and play at the beach. Was there risk (hopefully calculated risk), yes! But how do you learn about things and life unless they are experienced?

This event will hopefully return as cooler heads prevail and time has passed. A simple safety plan taken from the Boy Scouts would significantly mitigate the drowning risk. Divide the swimming area into three areas (non-swimmer, moderate swimmer, and good swimmer). Identify each student’s swimming ability (label them with a wrist band) and divide them into the same three groups given to the swimming area. Utilize a buddy system where students can only enter the water when paired up with a partner to “watch their back.” Monitor and enforce the buddy system and provide adequate observation (which apparently was done in the example above).

My family fallows an idea passed down to us, each of my kids must spend at least two summers actively participating in one of the local ocean Junior Lifeguard programs before at what ever age we feel they are responsible enough to spend time at the beach without specific adult supervision. My older son is now a better swimmer than I am and I would want him around if I ever ran into a problem while swimming at the beach. I know that Junior Lifeguard programs exist through out much of the coastal USA communities, as well as, in Australia and New Zealand.

Now back to my original point… It would be great if all kids were taught to swim during elementary (or middle) school, and society would be much stronger if children are exposed to many of life’s risks with tools to mitigate the consequences. Until that time, parents need to take responsibility not only for protecting but also teaching their children through an understanding about risk, consequences, mitigation and of course rewards.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Industry Design Awards

Each year AQUA magazine has its Choice Awards Competition, where for a fee (typically less than $100) the builder/supplier submits an entry for review and voting by the magazine readers. Remember this is a professional/trade magazine, so it may not represent the pool/spa buying public.

Pool & Spa News also has their Masters of Design awards, which have a similar entry program.

Western Pool & Spa Show also has Design Awards presented each year.

While many of the award winners are expensive pools (at least by my standards), I think it always makes sense to look at everything out there to help you in determining what you like as you discuss options and costs with the pool designer/builder.

Remember these are industry/professional/trade magazines/organizations, so it may not represent the pool/spa buying public.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

iVillage GardenWeb Censorship

I can no longer promote iVillage GardenWeb. Read more to understand why.

Profit before information is the mantra for iVillage GardenWeb when it comes to at least their Pool & Spas forum. While all forums and bulletin boards (BB) have rules that exclude the promoting of competing sites, most of the forums and BB realize that they cannot meet the needs for all users and, therefore, accept the mentioning of other forums or BB as long as they are not named, linked, or express prefernce to another site. Today I replied to a question on iVillage GardenWeb that included the following:

“You may want to hit one of the other pool bulletin boards if you do not get an answer here. I have found some of the other BB’s are more frequented by pool builders.” And closed with a generic link to this blog.
In response I was sent “A Friendly Reminder” warning e-mail from iVillage GardenWeb and my reply was removed from their website. In questioning the specific reasons for their concern I included the following:
If your concern is the link to my blog, which I agree has the term "forum" in the title, (please) look at it, I do not believe I come even close to, or have any intent with, competing against your BB/Forum, and I even promote your BB on my blog.
I received the following reply:
Promoting other boards, regardless of your opinion as to whether the topic is covered on our forums, is against forum policy. Also, linking to you blog, where you have links to other boards can also be construed as directing others away from the site.

Your contributions are valuable and we hope you continue posting -- however, continuing to direct others in this manner will result in the revocation of your membership.
I have not yet determined if I should to continue to visit and/or contribute to iVillage GardenWeb because information should be shared; however, I feel it is necessary for me to continue to provide links for forum and BB websites that are valuable resources for me and others. All I know is that can no longer promote iVillage GardenWeb.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Architect and structural engineering

Patrick Marr provided architectural and structural design for my home addition/remodel, which may never be covered much on this blog. Also, Pat was a consultant on our pool/yard project and assisted in the selection of the Landscape Architect we used. Being both an architect and engineer, Pat is uniquely positioned to assist his clients in conceptual design, construction documents, and the practicality of construction by truly understanding the structure.

While located in Santa Barbara, CA, USA (805-898-2096), Pat utilized modern technology to communicate with us in Orange County, CA (about 130 miles northwest of Orange County through stereotypical LA traffic). Face-to-face meetings were used when needed but many times a “picture” and simple phone call kept our project moving along on-track.

Pat did not provide the structural engineering for our pool since the pool builder had a relationship already established with his own engineer that specialized in swimming pool design. However, I would have trusted him to provide the engineering or point us in the right direction if his help had been needed.

Resources Blogs - Blog Top Sites
eXTReMe Tracker