If you care, here's the stuff about me, Ben Powell:
Quite a few people who receive the PoolLetter, either in the FREE or the FULL version have spent more time than it was worth trying to figure out who I am.
I mean, more than my name, Ben Powell.
And some people have been curious about my 'credentials'.
I'll do the latter first, since it seems to have more significance, than the former, and do the former last, for those hardcore enough to read to the bottom.
Those who ask me about my credentials are sometimes trying to figure out if I really know what I claim to know. And this is a legitimate, if futile, effort.
It's legitimate because credentials can sometimes help prove, or disprove expertise. It's futile, because there are no credentials that reliably establish pool chemistry expertise.
It irritates me no end that several well established "pool experts" never let their names appear in print without a tag-along "Piled high & Dry", usually printed 'Ph.D.'. This would bother me less if they were as expert as they claim, or if their degrees were in a related field, such as chemical engineering, inorganic chemistry, or something similar, instead of education or physical fitness! (For the record, to the best of my knowledge, Neil Lowry's Ph.D. IS in inorganic chemistry. So his Ph.D. counts!)
Anyhow, here are MY credentials:
But, you ought to apply a heaping dose of skepticism to the alphabet spaghetti tagging behind the name of any self-recognized pool expert. Instead, try before you buy, see if it makes sense, and buy what works!
Anyhow, on to my curriculum vitae, for what it's worth.
When I was little, I wanted to study bugs, and did.
I also began asking more questions than anyone around me cared to answer. (A practice I haven't stopped yet.)
When I was somewhat bigger, and could spell it, I told people I was going to become an entomologist (a professional studier of bugs) which I did not.
Still later, I briefly believed I would become a nuclear physicist. (What does a quantum duck say? Quark, quark!) However, I soon discovered that, though I was pretty good at math, I was not THAT good. It was during this period that I learned how to ski behind cows (carefully, after a rain, preferably while wearing rubber boots). This is a fact which may or may not be related to anything else.
Eventually, I found I was interested in philosophy and literature. And yes, I was a nerd in high school, even if I did become a pretty fair rock climber: to this day, I can't dribble a basketball. During these years, I discovered that you didn't always die, even when you did something stupid enough to get you killed. I tested this discovery a number of times, proving both my stupidity and my good fortune. By the way, this discovery explains the continued survival of many people, especially including lifeguards, who continue to live in spite of the way they handle pool chemicals.
Finally at a place far away, and a time long ago, I graduated from high school. After a year bumming around Europe, on money earned working in a cotton mill, and studying philosophy and religion at a place called L'Abri, skiing (on skis, this time!) at a place called Villars, encountering Swiss sleds and cowbells (still attached to the cows) on a farm called 'vahhn dey boo' (I know how to say it, but I have never seen it written -- and I don't speak French!), and finding culture and castles in Italy and England, I embarked upon a double major in English literature and philosophy at a small, but expensive, liberal arts college. As has been known to happen, my money ran out before my baccalaureate arrived, so I became a plumber in order to support my educational habit. As I plumbed more and more, and studied less and less, I reached the profound conclusion that people didn't pay philosophers, and that I liked eating better than philosophizing, though it was close.
Eventually, some years later, I found myself in possession of a plumber's master license, a B.S. in Engineering Management from a local university, and a wife. Of the three, I like the wife best.
Still do . . .
Anyhow, by that time, I had specialized in commercial service work, primarily for restaurants, churches and theatres. I began servicing a variety of restaurant equipment and eventually provided energy management services to a number of customers -- learning electronic control concepts in the process.
Through an odd series of circumstances, I began doing quite a bit of subcontracting for a large pool dealer, and for a brief period, became an in-house subcontractor. It was a poor match, soon ended, but in the process, I discovered that no one was servicing commercial pools, which I began to do.
So, I bought the books, read the magazines, went to the seminars, and did my pools the "right way". I spent $1,000's of dollars in long distance phone calls pestering obscure engineers and chemists in large companies, and learning a great deal in the process. I discovered that a lot of the official pool solutions didn't work the way they were supposed to. But I continued to ask questions, and sometimes I got answers. Through lots of trials, lots of questions, and lots of errors, I gradually discovered pool solutions that seemed to work better than they were supposed to.
For example, I found that I usually didn't need even half of the chlorine I was supposed to use. I found that there were ways to make the water balance "park" and stay "parked". I found that, even using bleach to supply chlorine, I didn't need to add pool acid. I tried ozone, copper/silver systems, bromine, UV/peroxide and numerous other methods. I found that a lot of pool secrets weren't worth knowing, and that a lot of other pool secrets weren't secret, just buried in old pool manuals or files, but were very valuable.
And, I picked up other bits and pieces and skills along the way. When I needed to exercise, I started swimming for exercise, bought and read books on technique, and developed a passable freestyle stroke (for a middle aged guy). When I needed to find pool leaks or do underwater repairs, I learned SCUBA. When my customers needed lifeguards, I became a Red Cross lifeguard instructor. When my customers needed staff training, I became a Certified Pool Operator instructor. When my customers needed lifeguard suits, I became a swimwear dealer. And, I learned about computers, ostensibly to make things more efficient, but really, because they were neat toys. (I can admit this now that I'm kind of tired of them, and couldn't do without them, even if I wanted to.)
I even learned to really like swimming, which I hadn't as a teenager! (Believe it or not, few people in the pool business are swimmers!)
Now, my whole family is addicted to water. I like body surfing in the ocean, with my 12 year-old son. I like playing in the pool with my 3 year-old son. I like sunbathing and SCUBA diving with my wife. I like teaching lifesaving. I even like swimming laps!
And the rest of my family likes the water even more than I do: my wife is a both a water aerobics instructor, and an instructor/trainer. My older son is a USS age group swimmer and spends 12+ hours per week in the pool year round; my younger son just wants to know when he can go back to the beach or the pool. And though I don't have a home pool -- our tastes run to bigger pools than we can afford, say 25' x 75' -- I think home pools are wonderful!
Because of all these things, I have been frustrated over the years as people have told me how much they hated their pools -- especially when they told me why. Most of the problems they had were either easy to correct, or easy to avoid.
But, I had no practical way of giving them the help they need.
But now, with PoolSolutions I do!
And, I'm even beginning to make money telling people how easy pools can be. . . which is a neat job, if you can get it!
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