I Hate Entropy

This article was originally written for the March 2022 edition of Hemispheric News, delivered as part of the Hemispheric Views podcast member bonus program, One Prime Plus

Things break down and that causes me stress. I know that everything in the world is gradually corroding, eroding and disintegrating but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The root cause of my problem is that I don’t like fixing things. I have zero interest in hardware, maintenance and DIY projects. I’m more capable of worrying about making things worse, and the ramifications of not fixing something than I am about actually getting a thing repaired.

I think I put too much mystique into infrastructure. When a repair person comes around who knows what they are doing, inevitably there is futzing around, bashing things, and basically forcing it to work. I have a mindset that things should elegantly function - that they shouldn’t have to be pushed into working as designed.

My latest adventure has been a hydrochloric acid dispenser for my swimming pool. It uses a peristaltic pump system to draw the acid from a bottle and doses it into the pool. The control unit monitors the pH of the pool water and runs the peristaltic pump on a regular basis to inject small volumes of acid into the pool. According to my research, peristaltic pumps are simple and reliable. According to my real world experience, they aren’t.

pHMate Doser showing high pH reading

A few weeks ago it stopped dosing. I played around with the rubber hosing, asked the retailer for help, and eventually managed to reseat it in a way that must have made it happy, because the dosing worked once more.

Fast forward to now, and a few additional weeks of entropy, and the pH levels were again elevated. This time the control box is telling me to replace the tube. Fine, I do this thinking that a worn tube must be the root cause. Of course, this small piece of tubing was $42.

I manage to remove the old one and install the new one. I seat it back into its peristaltic pump in a way that looks right. I prime the tube. I let it run for a few hours. Has the pH level come back down? No, of course not. Because hardware doesn’t love me. Will it resolve over the next day or two? I don’t know. I don’t even know if the pump is pumping - there is no way to see if there is any fluid flowing. Of course, this is made a little more dangerous by the fact that the fluid is hydrochloric acid.

Another day passes and the problem is still there, so now I have to call out the guy who knows what he’s doing. Turns out the pump spinner had suffered entropy of its own—eroding such that it didn’t create a strong enough pulse in the piping to effect peristalsis.

I hate that entropy exists in the world, such that equipment can’t be relied upon for a longer period of time. I hate that I’m not a more capable handyman.


Today, one of my outdoor taps broke. I managed to find a replacement part - after visiting 4 hardware stores, and get it changed out. So while I fixed it, it’s still more household entropy.

Andrew Canion @canion