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Cambridge

Started: 2005-06-09 19:23:28

Submitted: 2005-06-09 20:36:27

Visibility: World-readable

This morning, my manager mentioned that I had been selected to visit one of our customers, located across the pond in Cambridge. (That's N 52.2° E 0.116667°. I won't bore you with the Great Circle Route for the flight from Denver to London-Heathrow, but it's 4058 nm.) The plan, as it exists today, calls for me to be in the United Kingdom in two weeks, not long after Bethany drops by on her way to Oklahoma from Walla Walla. (Odds are this trip would conflict with my quasi-plan for a Solstice Party, since it wouldn't surprise me if I were in the air on the best Sunday to hold the party.) They want me there to update one of our products on-site so we don't have a trans-Atlantic delay getting the bugs fixed and features implemented. (Although with last-minute flights to Heathrow starting at US$1600 (£878), it seems a bit expensive to me. But if I can get a free flight to London...)

On my way to BLUG tonight, I stopped by the Boulder Public Library and walked out with a collection of travel books: one each for London, the United Kingdom, Colorado State Parks, and San Francisco. (Kiesa and I will visit San Francisco at the beginning of August.) My next visit was to the Boulder Bookstore, where I successfully located a book about Colorado wildernesses, which will help convince me if Flat Tops Wilderness is where I want to go for my four-day weekend surrounding the Fourth of July.

In related news, we've been able to delay both of our Critical Projects for a week or two each, which makes it much easier to actually ship the products on time.


Last week the thought crossed my mind that I should bootstrap my sprinkler system so I could actually irrigate my lawn. I wandered around my house trying to find the existence of my sprinkler infrastructure. (While mowing my lawn last month I managed to locate some of my sprinkler heads in the corners of my yard, shrouded by grass.) On the east side of my house I found the anti-backflow device and the three solenoid valves for my three zones. I opened the valves around the anti-backflow device and hit the buttons on my in-garage sprinkler controller to turn on my first zone.

Nothing happened.

I wandered around my yard a bit more, found two outdoor faucets, verified they had water running through them, and wandered into my basement. I located my main shut-off valve and the shut-off valve for my sprinkler system. I opened this valve, wandered outside, and saw water spraying everywhere. Further investigation revealed that the inlet valve into the anti-backflow device had a nasty-looking hole in the side, which was spurting water when it was open. When I opened the valve all the way the anti-backflow device itself spurted water, which also concerned me.

I photographically documented the irrigation system and queried my coworkers, who assured me this was a standard problem of improperly-winterized irrigation systems. Over the weekend I decided to undertake the problem and acquired a hacksaw and other useful tools at my local Home Despot. (It's probably a good thing that Home Despot is on the other side of town, otherwise I'd spend entirely too much time -- and money -- there.) Armed with my new acquisitions, I sawed my 3/4" copper tubing open and barely managed to unscrew the pipe fittings. I got my first really good look at the broken ball valve and tried to figure out what to do next. I couldn't locate 3/4" compression fittings, suggested by an intrepid coworker, and I managed to break one of the check valves when I unscrewed the anti-backflow device. My attempts to extract the broken fitting failed, suggesting to me that maybe I should acquire a new anti-backflow device. That was as far as I got, which was Sunday. So much for irrigating my lawn this season.

You will always find those who think they know
what is your duty better than you know it.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"