"People base decisions upon what they think rather than what they know."
Joe Hunsaker
Words of Wisdom


Counsilman – Hunsaker is always developing innovations in the design of pools and their support features. Recently a team member has written a paper about the design of elevated pools; another has been pondering better-configured gutters for pools and is researching starting blocks.

At such a time, the following may relevant:

We have all grown up with the maxim “necessity is the mother of invention.”  And yet, this logic is sometimes thwarted by the mindset “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” or more significantly “If it works, don’t change it” even though we know there must be a better way. We, like others, may be guilty of ignoring a need because we can’t afford the time to solve the problem and besides we have always gotten by doing it the old way.

One of the great mysteries of history is why prehistoric men rode horses for several thousand Years before anyone invented stirrups. Remarkably, the Romans, who constructed the Aqueducts across Italy and southern France, the Coliseum which held over one hundred thousand spectators and featured a roof awning which moved with the sun and was fully retractable, the Pantheon dome, which was not equaled in diameter for 1400 years, had developed cavalry for its Legions but without stirrups. Presumably because no one had ever seen stirrups or thought through the advantage such an invention would create.

Military historians consider the stirrup the last of the three great leaps in technology that changed the course of history by revolutionizing the traditional way of waging war. The first was the invention of the chariot, the second was the mounted warrior and the third was the stirrup. The stirrup permitted the rider to stabilize himself in the saddle and shoot his arrow, attack with his lance, and most importantly, turn his mount sharply without falling off due to centrifugal force and increasing his ability to attack more adversaries in greater force. In recognized papers, knowledgeable historians state that the armored knights of the Middle Ages could not have existed without stirrups because they would not have been able to control their center of gravity while charging on horseback. These are the same knights who rode their mounts from Western Europe to Jerusalem during the Crusades.

An interesting footnote is the evidence in prehistoric China, which reports that before a foot stirrup was developed, a toe stirrup for the big toe was used for stability of the rider. It required several hundred years before the crude device evolved into the equipment that was the for-runner of what appeared 1600 years later inWestern Europe.

It was not until the 13th century that Genghis Khan developed a horse cavalry using saddles with stirrups to stabilize his ferocious warriors, whose reputation created panic in the inhabitants of towns and villages hundreds of miles in their advance.

Why did it take thousands of years for people with domesticated horses, on two continents, to perceive the benefit of being much more secure in a saddle?  Using current vernacular, it seems that no one took the time “to think outside of the box.”

Sent to CH Staff 2007

All Stories

Thoughts to keep in mind during the interview process

Editorial Comment:  At the end of a interns assignment with Counsilman – Hunsaker, Joe Hunsaker provided the following memo on their departure.  This document is dated May 24, 2006. 

  1. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
  2. The interview is not a one-on-one experience but rather a one-on-many, i.e. the interviewer is comparing your appearance, your comments and skills to the others he has seen and will see.
  3. Be early to the interview.
  4. Shake hands with a firm grip, smile and speak with confidence.
  5. Before the interview, consider how you might be able to make money for the company. Keep this in reserve and use only at the appropriate time, if at all. It could indicate that you are presumptuous and patronizing or it can show that you have some original thoughts as it relates to yourself and your prospective company.
  6. Think outside the bubble. This is not recess anymore.
  7. Before the interview, try to project what questions you would be asking yourself after the interview regarding “What could I have done better?”
  8. Be sure to research the company and determine what it does and how it does it so you can converse intelligently with the interviewer.  Oftentimes this can make an impression because other interviewees will probably not have made the effort. Remember that an interview is not show time for the person being interviewed.
  9. Rehearse an explanation of your experience at CHA. That it is a small design firm with 20 +/- employees and has a national and international clientele. It has high standards both in the university and education market as well as in Parks and Recreation with water parks and leisure pools. The latter can project working in a creative environment that is fun and unique.
  10. Ask technical questions about the company’s graphic design systems and techniques. Be able to converse on these topics.
  11. Present your portfolio in a professional manner. Consider developing a dream facility brochure for CH. The illustrations are present in our computer files as well as the logo has recently been developed, therefore, putting together a layout of the brochure and any enhancements would be all that would be required. Afterwards, you can say that you have done this work for our firm.
  12. A final idea. When you feel that you may be offered a position or at least that you have gone to the next level, you might consider inviting the interviewer and/or someone from the firm to lunch as your guests. This shows maturity, confidence and class. You’d have to be careful with this initiative, but even if the person declines, it certainly leaves an impression that no one else would have demonstrated.

Clear As Spring Water

The water released through automatic hydrostat valves attached to the well points under the main outlet sumps is as clear as spring water.  Most lay people expect it to be dirty because of its source in the ground.  While this may be true shortly after construction, or during construction, the gravel sub-base and soil functions similar to that of a gravity filter.  I’m sure this information can be corroborated by Andy, Bob and Scot, all of whom have emptied and cleaned pools.

Sometimes pools are stained due to construction dirt in the below grade pipes which can be washed into the pool if the tank is being filled for the first time through the surge tank and subsequently through the main drain lines.  For this reason pools are often filled through the gutters (main drained closed and gutter pipes open) so the water overflows the gutter lip and runs down the walls.   When the pumps start, the dirt in the suction pipes is drawn into the filters. Another advantage to this type of filling is that it can warm the water, flowing down the walls, several degrees inside a warm natatorium and, inversely, cool the walls and floor gradually, thereby reducing the variable between the incoming water and the warm pool shell.  As most of you are aware, cold water on a warm shell can result in thermal shock and the cracking of the pool tank. 

Another misconception by many is that ground water must be at or below the main outlet elevation to avoid foating the pool tank.  Field experience, and the laws of physics, proves that this is not the case due to the ballast weight of the concrete pool shell.  During the early years of my pool management company, I personally emptied several hundred pools. In a number of cases the automatic hydrostats opened and ground water ran into the pool for as long as thirty minutes while the submersible sump pumps were extracting the water out of the outlet basins onto the deck.  The pool at Country Hill (which was located at the top of a hill) had so much ground water one year, due to rains, that water started squirting up to 6 inches high through the expansion joint at the 5’ break when there was still several feet of water in the deep end. The hydrostats were plugged rather than fitted with check valves. There was a case at a swim club in Collinsville which was down in a small gorge with a clubhouse and tennis courts approximately thirty to forty feet above. When one of the pool cleaning crew unthreaded the brass hydrostat plug in the main drain, it shot over the three meter diving board.  For that reason everyone knew to stand aside and not be over a hydrostat when the plug was removed. 

Hopefully this specific background information will be helpful should you have an occasion to discuss the subjects with clients or operators.

Are we guilty of being a “know it all”?

Presumably everyone has picked up a copy of the Aquatics International Dream Facility in which our 2006-concept design was featured, along with that of our competitors.  If you have studied all the designs and read all of the articles, you are an exception to human nature. The inclination is to read only the submittal of one’s own firm and possibly one or two others. I believe this transcends all of the entry firms and their respective staffs, and yet such behavior is contrary to the goals and objectives of Counsilman  Hunsaker. 

General George S. Patton was successful against the clever and shrewd Irwin Rommel, AKA “the Desert Fox,” Germany’s great Panzer general in North Africa. When asked how he did it, Patton said; “I read his book” as well as those of Guderian and Von Manstein, other great German generals.  

Between the articles submitted by the various design firms in the 2005 issue and the 2006 issues of AI, such “information” could easily cost between twenty and thirty thousand dollars, and yet, we tend to ignore the opinions and view points of other professionals for which our potential clients pay good money.  Shouldn’t we be curious? Otherwise, we churn to the same solution, over and over. 

I recently sat down with the new issue and realizing that previously I had not bothered to completely read all of the other entries, I made myself do just that.  I found a number of new ideas, concepts and market niches that I had not thought about or were on the periphery of my awareness. I also identified what our competition may be saying when appearing before the same interview committees. 

Taking time away from the press of current work, to gain the knowledge of others, is an example of the struggle between “the urgent and the important.”  If we are to consider ourselves professionals, and responsible for providing our clients with the best knowledge and recommendations, it’s logical that we should take every opportunity to know what others in our field are thinking. Please take time to read and remember the ideas of other successful people in aquatic design, who may have a different take on trends, niche markets, equipment design, the probable interest of future markets and the categorization of attractions, vis a vis, different geographical areas in the United States and beyond.  

Years ago, Doc called me from the ASCA Conference, where he had just looked at a unique bulkhead which had a built-in touch pad.  I knew the designer/fabricator and told Doc he was not to be taken seriously because most people in the industry considered him a flake. Doc cautioned me to not be judgmental about the man’s ideas.  Even though he is not well regarded, we should learn as much about his product as possible because it may be valuable information in the future. 

If you were on a flight and sitting next to any of the authors in these two editions, you would probably talk shop.  Why not educate yourself now.  It’s easy and it’s free.  Only a few people know how to live by their wits.

Sent to CH staff Fall January 2007


Editorial Comment:   

In 2008, Don Burns retired as the CEO from California Spa and Pool Industry Education Council.  Joe and Don had served on the NSPF Board of Directors together for over 15 years.  Joe sent the following note to Don on his retirement.

Hi Don,

I recently saw on CNN where you are retiring ….or was it the History Channel… and I thought you might benefit from some of my observations, having gone through the experience myself, regarding what to expect during the transition. What I noticed most was the phone stopped ringing, no one at my office seemed to need my advice (Although I now really take pleasure in calling my voice mail at the office and there are no messages.) Another benefit is having the first decision of the day being “whether to roll over and go back to sleep.” But getting to that outlook can be challenging due to the lifetime of being essential to others, you know, being depended upon.

I’ve talked to other recent retirees and its pretty much the same. Superman says he was really depressed for a long time after he retired from Dell Comics. He noticed a definite drop off of damsels falling from tall buildings, and a slowdown in airliners losing power at 30,000 feet. Like all of us, he began to notice technology passing him by. He says half the bullets now have a speed faster than his. These new skyscrapers, in the emerging nations, are just too tall to leap over and he doesn’t go near high speed trains in Japan and Europe because he embarrasses himself. But in the end, Superman made the transition, started wearing knee high shorts and moved to Sun City where he rides an adult tricycle up and down the streets. On the other hand, some can’t seem to let go.

There are a lot of people who have never had to cope with adjusting to retirement, i.e. Jesse James, JFK, Amelia Earhart, John Dillinger, Martin Luther King, Billy the Kid, Marilyn Monroe, etc. I think you get the idea. There are a lot lessor options than making it across the finish line and receiving the gold watch.

As Roy Rogers used to sing “Happy Trails to You.” Don.

Best personal regards,