Archive for March 2006

Buying a New House

One of our recent big news items is that we’ve decided to take the financial plunge and buy a bigger house. We seem to be bursting at the seams in our existing home. We originally looked for homes on the east bench of Salt Lake City. My sister Lori lives in that area and we like the neighborhood. Unfortunately, in the past year prices have escalated so much in that area that it became difficult to find the kind of house we wanted in a price range that we could afford.

I’m sure if we had been more persistent in our search we could have found something we liked that we could afford; however, the lure of building a new home where we could pick the floor plans, lot, colors, and options was just to great to pass up. Thus, we started looking for houses in the Daybreak development in South Jordan. Daybreak is a huge development on Kennecott land and the Church has announced that a new temple will be built there.


When looking at Daybreak we generally liked the concepts behind the development and one of the builders had a floor plan that we really liked so we decided to put some money down on a lot. Unfortunately, buying a lot in Daybreak isn’t an easy thing to do. Because the development is so popular, there was a waiting list for lots. It cost $1000 just to get your name on a “lottery list”. Every month the developer would release three or four lots and draw names off the lottery list. If your name was drawn you had 24 hours to decide whether or not to buy the lot or the chance would pass to the next person and you would have to wait another month for the next lottery.

In the first month’s lottery our name was drawn 9th out of 11 which was disappointing. I also grew increasingly more uncomfortable with the way people were throwing money at lots without even getting a chance to see the lot and think about it. In the end I just wasn’t comfortable enough with Daybreak and we decided to withraw from the lottery.

Our next stop was the Ivory Crossing development in South Jordan, just east of Daybreak (on the east side of the Bangerter highway). Our current home is an Ivory Home and although I had some misgivings about buying another Ivory Home, overall Ivory has treated us well and seemed to have the best combination of price and location. Other builders had good location but their prices were more than Ivory’s for the same amount of home. Even more builders had competitive prices but the locations weren’t that great. We wanted a home that we could stay in for the next 20 years until it was time to downsize.

Ivory had a great floorplan that we fell in love with: the Verona. It had everything we wanted except for one thing: the laundry room was on the main floor instead of the upper floor (where are the bedrooms are). We liked the study on the main floor and the layout of the kitchen and we liked the fact that there are no vaulted ceilings (vaulted ceilings are just too noisy when you have a grand piano and five kids). Another great thing we liked about the development was the community pool and neighborhood park. In the end we just felt more comfortable going with Ivory so we gritted our teeth, signed the contracts, and wrote out a huge check for the construction down payment. Hopefully it will prove to be a good decision.

What Would NASA Do Without Me?

Emily had trouble answering one of her homework questions for math class: “What is more accurate: a measurement given in centimeters or a measurement given in millimeters?”

The author of this question made the classic mistake of confusing precision and accuracy. Precision is about being well defined while accuracy is about correctness. The unit in which a measurement is given has nothing to do with its accuracy (unless the unit is incorrect of course).

Take, for example, the question “What is the value of pi?” An answer of “2.78495718397583711985” would be very precise but not accurate. An answer of “3.14” would be accurate but not necessarily precise. The amount of precision needed depends upon who’s asking the question. If your math teacher asks you “What is the value of pi?” then the answer “3.14” would be accurate and precise enough for the situation. However, if a NASA engineer is calculating orbits for the space shuttle and asks you for the value of pi, “3.14” is probably not going to cut it. Space shuttle orbits require significantly more precision, say, 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510

What? NASA engineers aren’t regularly asking you for the value of pi? Well, it must just be you, buddy, because I’ve got NASA engineers calling me night and day wanting to know the value of pi. It’s a good thing I know all about precision and accuracy.

So, in answer to the question “What is more accurate: a measurement given in centimeters or a measurement given in millimeters?”, I had Emily write the following:

“Neither. A measurement given in millimeters may be more precise but not necessarily more accurate.”

I then wrote a little explanatory paragraph below her answer:

“Emily’s Dad thinks this is a poor question because it confuses the concepts of precision and accuracy”.

Who knows, maybe Emily’s teacher is a former NASA engineer and will appreciate an answer like that? Now, if we can just get Emily through fractions we’ll be making good progress…