Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


Up early Saturday to go over to the track at the middle school with Middle Girl.



At nine, Rebecca's coach showed up. And no one else did. Not sure if there was a mix-up or just apathy, but no matter.

I left them there and walked over to the library, which was closed for the holiday (it would have been closed no matter what--it doesn't open until 10 on Saturdays--not that I knew that beforehand) so then I walked on back to the school to see that they had been kicking the ball some and stretching.

He ran her and walked her around for a bit more than a mile, and then helped her on her running technique. She tends to hold her hands down at her waist and run on her heels, so to get her out of that, they did several sets of wind sprints and by the time it was over she was getting much better at staying on her toes and pumping her arms. After an hour of hard work, it was time to head back to the house and pick up the rest of the crew to go over to Reba's mom and dad's house for the single most important thing in the world--assembling Boy's basketball goal.

Finally got everyone ready and back out the door, down the hill, over the tracks, up the road, then back up the next hill. Kids scramble out of the doors like they're assaulting a bunker from a Bradley, and I make my way downstairs to see what it is I'm supposed to be doing.

Well, it's a basketball goal. Put it together. It's sad to look at--for some reason Pop had left it all--corrugated cardboard boxes, hardware, poles, bits, pieces--at the end of the driveway, so it has endured a month of rain and weather, and was in the condition one would expect. Soppy wet. With the help of the children, I started picking through the stuff, peeling the mushy cardboard away, sending them with wads of it over to the garbage can. I had begun to lay the parts out, when I felt a few driblets of rain on my head. ::sigh::

Got Granddad to back the truck out of their garage and we moved all of our junk inside onto the floor. The kids got themselves each a folding chair and I plopped down on the concrete and grabbed the instructions. It always pays to read the instructions first. Really. Even when they were obviously the result of the instruction writer being high on mescaline.

It is a Huffy Sports Spyder Acrylic Portable Basketball System, which is not the least bit similar to the sheet of plywood and orange painted steel rim I nailed to the sweet gum tree in my backyard when I was young. We got to work, and I tasked the children with the unenviable job of reaming the paint out the holes of the mounting brackets. Why don't they just make the holes 2 mils bigger? Why not figure out a way NOT to get paint in the holes?

It is a mystery.

Anyway, they set to that task with a youthful vigor and ignorance as I continued to study the instructions.

Slam three pole sections together.

Eyebolt in base of pole through a pin, said pin intended to be held in place by the big plastic base.

Manage to get bottom of pole, pin, eyebolt in proper alignment, leave with Grandpop, go get wheels and axle (also intended to be held by plastic base) which also serves as big washer to keep eyebolt from coming back through the plastic.

Drop wheels. Go catch.

Carefully position wheels and bracket, drop wheels. Go catch.

Carefully position wheels and bracket, eyebolt drops out. One wheel drops off. Go catch. Reposition eyebolt, position bracket with wheels. Eagerly thread nut onto eyebolt. Wait while Granddad takes much too long to use ratchet wrench, very nearly drop wheel.

Read instructions. First inkling of drug-induced mania on the part of the writer noted when instructions have absolutely no correlation to reality. More talk of eyebolts, and rod 11, and lobsters. (Not really--no lobsters at all.)

Finally decide to make the best of the situation and fix it as close to the picture as possible. This works, for some reason. Pole and base now complete.

Backboard. Spread out old blanket on floor, proceed to install mounting flanges and tighten them securely before realizing one is backwards. Untighten, fix, tighten.

Install hoop bracket. Wonder why there is no way to fix things so that they can't be installed upside down. Pop goes to get lunch for everyone. Children disappear.

Install adjustment arms. Looking at picture no longer any sort of help. Instructions begin sounding like Dennis Kucinich on mescaline. Install top arms, but in the bottom holes. Remove, reattach in proper place. Install bottom arms. Which are full of holes. None of which match the picture. No help from instructions, which are now in full, free-associative thought mode. Decide that despite my misgivings, I should attach them in as near an approximation to the picture as possible.

Reba comes down to see how I'm doing, brings me a nice cold Diet Coke, mentions that her dad said the folks at the store offered assembly for only $85. I scoff at such spendthriftiness, and note that such a princely sum was about 80 bucks too much.

Get Reba to help me hold the bottom section and pole while attaching arms to top of pole. Nearly drop everything, then find out there is no way the arms on the bottom will work. Because they were installed with the wrong end bolted to the backboard, just like the picture showed.

Unbolt everything from pole, swap bottom arms end-for-end, again press Reba into service to hold the bottom part...[And let me just say RIGHT NOW--I don't want a SINGLE COMMENT about Miss Reba having to hold my pole! That's just RIGHT out!]...and finally get the backboard married to the upright in an fashion very close to what would be dictated by the laws of physics. Briefly think that maybe $85 wouldn't have been quite such a bad deal, after all.

Break for a bit to go eat lunch. Mmmm--fried chicken with ELEVEN herbs and spices! Not seven or eight herbs and spices like they have in socialist countries...

Finish up my dead bird and go back downstairs to finish up my little project that has now consumed more than three hours of the day.

Assemble nigglingly maldesigned trigger mechanism for moving the goal upwards and downwards, discover that although the hardware package came with many, many spare bolts and nuts and washers, it was shy two plastic spacers of the proper spaciness. The ones supplied were approximately one-half inch too long. They need to be three-quarters of an inch. Decide to reduce the one-half inch overlengthenage through judicious use of my pocketknife. Manage to cut off a bit more than one-half inch, but not my whole finger, therefore the operation is deemed a success. Even though the resulting spacers were a bit too short, leaving a slightly more than optimal level of slop in the mechanism. Instructions begin to mock me with their tauntings. Pictures very clear, and entirely unhelpful.

Attach elevator rod to adjustment arms, attach bottom elevator rod to pole, attach rim to bracket, attach net to rim, stand completed monstrosity up at end of driveway, fill with 33 gallons of water, anchor into ground with big auger, drive in from mid-court on a lay-up, dunk ball, grab rim, break backboard into a million pieces, and sign a $4,000,000 shoe contract. Not really. At least the part past where it says "auger." Got the kids out there and let them shoot a few, then it was time to head back to my house to start doing my stuff.

Which will be discussed in loving detail forthwith.

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