Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The nightmare of pool ownership

So there I was, walking the mile-and-a-half up the hill in the 90 degree weather and 80 percent humidity for exercise. Why was I doing this? Was it because the intense sun and heat had finally fried my brain to a crisp and the prospect of an iced coffee from the convenience store at the top had become an achievable goal in my unblanced mental state?

No. In fact, I was doing it because if I had stayed in the relative comfort and safety of home, I would have had to work on the pool.

Most people think that pools are great in the summer. Perfect for beating the heat and having fun at the same time. Those people have never owned one.

In reality a pool is an exception to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that the disorder of a system always increases. In my experience, a pool starts out a state of maximum disorder and gets worse as the summer goes on.

For example, as soon as my Dad and I took the cover off the pool we found a dead frog. A couple days later he pulled a drowned mouse out of there and the day after that I came across a waterlogged rabbit. Any day now I confidentally expect to wake up and have to hire a towtruck because there’ll be a deer in there. A carefully tended pool can, in fact, wipe out an entire ecosystem over an average summer. A poorly tended pool will become filled with noxious algae and become a breeding ground for mosquitos and take on an overwhelming resemblance to vomit.

Another problem with pools is that, as the owner, your friends expect you to invite them over to go swimming, avoiding the lines, urine and cost of public pools. However, after hours of backbreaking labor getting all the bugs and leaves out of the pool, removing dead bears and scrubbing away a bird poop stain from last year so that the pool and the area surrounding it are absolutely spotless . . . a friend will complain that “there’s too much chlorine.”

Then you will laugh and wonder how you could have chosen such a moron for a friend. Not only is the amount of chlorine in your pool far less than what it is in a public pool, but that chemical is the main line of defense between your health and the microbial life that loves water, sunlight and dead organic matter to feast on and become a dangerous infection.

Even worse they may stick all of one toe into the water and declare that it is “too cold,” ignoring the fact that not only is that the point, but that on an 80 degree day a pool temperature of 70 is going to be cool in comparison until your body has adjusted by doing things like swimming and actually being in the water.

Ultimately, when that happens the day will end on a sour note: after drowning them, your ex-friend’s body just will not burn properly in a common household mortuary incinerator.

Now, after spending the previous day on back-breaking manual labor to make your pool absolutely spotless and clean, you can relax and enjoy it that way for a few days, right? Nope, you haven’t been paying attention to the bit about thermodynamics.

See, the heart of the problem is that Satan is the patron god of pools. As soon as you turn your back algae spawned from the loins of the Evil One himself will start growing in the cracks and creases of the pool’s lining. This neccesitates deploying the algaecide to kill it and also means you need to add more chlorine. All of that will kill the algae, but it will also mess up the pH balance of the pool, making the water more acidic and requiring the addition of a neutralizing agent to put it back into balance.

As if that wasn’t enough, once you’ve killed the algae it becomes an unpleasant slime clinging to the bottom of the pool and you need to vacuum, which is shorthand for “more back-breaking manual labor.”

That’s just the pool itself. On the mechanical end, there’s a pump and filter that circulates and “cleans” the water. Try as you might, patching it and taking good care of it and making sure very carefully that the system is airtight, you will never never never ever get it to stop leaking and loosing pressure. By the the fourth time it has started leaking after you’ve taken the entire system apart and put it back together—during which time the algae, leaves, bugs and all the neighborhood pets have made a concentrated, all out attack devoted to befouling the water—you’re so fed up with the thing you just put a towel under it, which promplty develops mold and crawls into a dark corner.

Those are just a few of the problems you can face as the owner of a pool. I’d write more, but I really should haul that moose out before it decomposes.

Matthew M. Robare is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].

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  • D StaffMay 30, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    e.F. Fredrickson,

    You have gone by many different aliases on this comment board. We do have the rights to moderate comments and will continue to do so unless you stick to one name or set of initials.

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