Archive for May 2008

Leaving Las Vegas

I’m sitting in McCarran airport. It’s 102 degrees outside; probably 80 degrees inside. Plane is 1.5 hours late. Airport is crowded. I’m tired. People are cranky. What a way to end a long day.

I flew in this morning for a quick technical conference (why is it so popular these days to start conferences and seminars on a Sunday?) and am flying out the same day (hopefully).

One good thing about Vegas is the great people-watching it provides. There really is “one of each jellybean” as the popster would say. The outfits that people choose to wear on their Vegas trips really crack me up. In the last half hours I’ve seen a lady in what appears to be a bikini strolling through the airport and a lady wearing a winter coat in the heat. I think she must have been a drug smuggler. Who wears a winter coat in 102 degree weather?

Overall, I don’t mind coming to Vegas. It’s trashy and dirty but it’s definitely entertaining… as least for the first two hours. After that I’m ready to leave.

Another Saturday Project – Part II

With the backflow valve fixed, we were able to turn on the stream. We had to do a little cleaning of the stream bed because some of our evil mulch had blown in during the spring but it wasn’t too bad. Hopefully by the end of this year we’ll have all of our evil mulch collected and tilled into the garden where it will torment us no longer.

I had pumped most of the water out of the sump before the heavy winter hit but there is always residual water in the pump and housing and I was concerned that the pump might not have survived the winter intact. When we plugged in the stream we could hear some gurgling and could see the water level in the sump start to drop which was a good sign. After a minute the water came gushing out of the waterfall and I heaved a sigh of relief.

While cleaning out the stream bed we took the opportunity to make it a little more “meandering”. I think it turned out pretty good.

This year our goal is to plant more ground cover around the stream and some bushes and grasses around it to give it a more natural look.

Another Saturday Project

Today’s Saturday Project was to replace our backflow prevention valve. Our old home didn’t have a backflow valve (or it was underground and I didn’t know about it) so we were used to leaving our irrigation system turned on until late November without any freezing problems. South Jordan requires backflow valves to be installed above ground. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how easily an above-ground valve can freeze and last last November Nancy called me at work to tell me that she had discovered water squirting out of the valve and onto the house. Nancy shut off the water at the street and left it for me to fix when I got home. Of course, I decided to procrastinate fixing the valve until spring. Why do something when you can procrastinate it for 5 months?

The casing of the valve had frozen and burst. The water pressure spraying onto the house had also knocked a chunk of stucco off the foundation. Fortunately, we had the foresight to tell our landscapers to put the valve in the back yard behind the fence where nobody could see it (many of our neighbors have the valve right in the middle of their front flower beds) so I really wasn’t too worried about the stucco on the foundation.

The broken valve – you can see the crack in the middle of the casing

As spring rolled around I kept procrastinating the valve issue until the sudden hot weather forced me to finally fix it so we could start watering the garden and lawn and also turn on the stream. The hardest part of replacing the valve was getting the broken valve out of the line. I had to buy a huge pipe wrench and it took several coats of WD-40 to loosen the joints before I was finally able to undo the coupling.

Unfortunately, Home Depot didn’t have a valve the same size as my old valve and I didn’t want to do any extra plumbing work to change the spacing in the lines so I decided to order a valve over the internet. For the curious among you, it is an Apollo 40-205-T2 1″ Reduced Pressure Backflow Preventer manufactured by Conbraco. You can buy it for $211 with free shipping from

The new valve – you can see where the water knocked the stucco off the foundation

I slapped some Teflon tape on the threads, used a “cheater bar” to screw the elbow joints in tightly, recoupled the valve assembly to the line, and crossed my fingers while Nancy went out to the street to turn on the water. Whaddayaknow – it worked! No leaks or clogs. Not bad for an amateur. Now we just have to be careful and remember to turn the main water off before it freezes this fall.

Diana’s Spring Sing

Today was Diana’s annual Spring Program at Challenger School. They held it at 9:00 a.m. so I just went with Nancy to the program before heading to the office.

Having five kids in Challenger School has made us pretty familiar with the contents of the program – the format doesn’t change much from year to year. Still, it’s fun to see the performance each year even if it is fairly routine for an audience member.

We managed to forget the video camera even after we had charged it up. Fortunately, our handy little HP camera can take videos and they turned out pretty decent for such a small little still camera.

One good thing about Diana’s rendition is that she seems to sing and do the actions a bit more energetically than some of our other kids have in the past. I seem to recall one year one of the kids spent the entire time doing big yawns and one year one of them was grumpy and didn’t sing or dance or do anything.

Diana did such a good job that after the program Nancy took her out to get a treat while I headed to work.


I thought it would be fun for all the kids to be in spring soccer this year. Last year the four older kids all played and Diana got left out. This year it was her turn to be able to play too. One bad thing that happened was that Emily and Anne’s age group didn’t have enough girls sign up from our area so the County Rec-Center people moved them way down south and west to play with the girls out there. The only problem with that is we would have had five kids playing soccer and trying to go north and south would be impossible as well as expensive gaswise. BYUFan and I decided to pull them out and try to get our money back, by the way I am still waiting to hear back from them.

We are now three weeks in and the kids are loving it. Diana loves to stand by her coach and talk her ears off and occasionally she will chase the ball with the other kids. One time she and another teammate kept chasing and kicking the ball even though it was totally out of bounds. The coaches had to chase them down so the game could continue.

Texas loves to run around and be a part of the team, but she tends to be timid when the ball actually gets to her. She will kick it when it comes to her but sometimes it does go right through her legs.

Sam is the kid who just runs around in the crowd and doesn’t even get close to the ball. His favorite thing to do is to sit on the blanket with all his other teammates and play until it is his turn to go in again.

It will be fun to see how this season ends.