Home > General > Electricity & water: the hazards of bad timing

Electricity & water: the hazards of bad timing

June 13, 2010

 Trophy Wife recently installed an electrically-powered waterfall and stream on the Humbert Estate.

The birds love it. (“Chirp, Chirp.”)

The deer love it. (“Slurp, Slurp.”)

Trophy Wife loves it. (“Ahhhh….”)

Alas, when the electric bill came, Rocky didn’t share in the euphoria.  Instead, he decided to install a timer.  A  project that begs the question, “How many trips to Home Depot does it take to screw-in a lightbulb?”

On Thursday, Rocky purchased a timer at his local True-Value Hardware store and synchronized the river tide with Trophy Wife’s comings and goings. ( Trophy Wife’s weekday departure time=Waterfall Off.   Trophy Wife’s weekday arrival time=Waterfall On.  Sleeptime=Waterfall Off.)

 And all seemed well … until Saturday.

“Why is the waterfall turned off?” ask Trophy Wife.

“Because you aren’t supposed to be home,” answered Rocky.

“But I’m always home on Saturdays and Sundays,” observed Trophy Wife. “You need to fix this problem.”

So, Rocky set off for the local Ace Hardware Store and bought a new timer — one with a label that read  “WEEKLY schedule — every day is different.”

After struggling to remove the plastic wrapping (which rendered the product non-returnable,) Rocky sadly discovered that this was a “Vacation Timer”  designed to  turn lights  on and off at entirely random moments. This timer’s intent is to confuse burglars — especially burglars who check a waterfall before breaking and entering.

Timer #2 could not be programmed,  but at least the timer’s description was honest: “Every day IS different! ”

Rocky knew better than to propose  a waterfall that starts and stops randomly.  Instead, he tossed it in the back of the trunk and headed to Home Depot.

At Home Depot, Rocky  found two suitable choices: (1) An in-line 7-day digital programmable timer with waterproof box (which risked electrocution for both the installer (i.e. Rocky)  and local chipmunks. (2) An idiot-proof 7-day timer with “no assembly required.”  Rocky chose the latter, programmed the weekday and weekend settings, installed a professional-looking weatherproof box,  and went inside to take a well-deserved nap.

[Disclosure: Before purchasing the third and final timer, Rocky sent a Blackberry Email to Trophy Wife which read: “Please note that NONE of the timers can be set to turn on for Federal Holidays.  Trophy Wife replied, “Yes. We’ll deal with those manually. If you’re still there, buy more lawn bags. “]

  1. June 13, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    This so resonated with me. What I really want to know is why Trophy Wife didn’t chirp. That always gets my attention.

  2. June 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm


  3. June 13, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    A reader observed that the picture above looks more like a “babbling brook” than a waterfall. Rocky snapped that picture with his Blackberry camera, and it does not do justice to the grandeur of Trophy Wife’s new waterfall.

    Here is a snapshot of her new waterfall from a different angle:

  4. Gregory Chan
    June 13, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Just Hilarious. Thanks for that.

  5. June 13, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Truly funny…Fakename advises that the water and electric bills will pale in comparison to the boat upkeep: Maid of the Mist, Humbert Estate version.

  6. masteroftheuniverse
    June 14, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Rocky, I enjoy hearing of your attempts to be like “Tooltime Tim” In my case, beyond playing with high voltage electr9onics and making fireworks, I allow professionals to do the work around the house, They are bonded after all.

  7. spamfortea
    June 14, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Rocky…nice to be following you now. if you are concerned about cost, do not, under any circumstance, put any koi in that water. they will ruin you.
    until the next client event (and Daniel). Spam for Tea (adn you can follow me on Twitter).

  8. June 15, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Damn now I’ve got a bad case of waterfall envy (http://dabacon.org/villasophia/waterfall.JPG) but happily look forward to your post solving the fully programmable solution plus remote control. What do you charge per install?

  9. June 16, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Dave: While you may now have a case of “waterfall envy,” Rocky may be developing a case of “Laptop Envy.”

    As for the second question, “Have Voltmeter. Will Travel.”

    (It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Eh, pond.)

  10. ld
    June 17, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Rocky – I think there may be a different solution. The downside is that it probably involves a couple more trips to Home Depot. How about a motion sensor instead of a timer? This will take care of the holidays and even vacations.

    PS. While you’ll probably save even more on electricity, you’ll probably end up having to invest in a Mosquito Magnet or a similar contraption.

  11. allocator
    July 10, 2010 at 9:49 pm


    Have you ever thought of building a hydro-electric dam across your waterfall? Cut your electricity bill down even further. Just sayin’.

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