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Irrigation Problems

Subterranean Leak

Since May or June, we have noticed an increase in water consumption on the monthly bill from the Town. At first, I thought it was because we had filled the spa for the summer, but then the increased consumption continued. In July, I found that the circuit breaker to the water system had tripped after having some of the shrubs appear to wither. I got that fixed and then the increased consumption resumed.

Yesterday, I finally contacted the landscapers that installed the irrigation system here. Together, the foreman and I discovered that a continuous water flow was occurring in an unknown location around the property. We also discovered a flow (pictured above) that ran during the active time for the irrigation to flow. Both problems, the one we can see and another somewhere stop when we cut off the main irrigation valve.

After discussing the problem with the landscaper and probable solutions, it would seem we’re in for a complete overhaul and replacement of much of the system. Chronically, in the desert, systems that use PVC tubing seem to need replacement at eight-to-ten year intervals, which is exactly how old the system is.

So, for the time being, we’re going to have to water the shrubs and trees manually since the irrigation valve is closed pending fixing things. Our landscaper has a number of other jobs ahead of us and it will be a week to a month before we can get back to normal.

For reference, the leak pictured above (the one we can see) is located between the ocotillo and the courtyard wall in front of the walkway to the courtyard gate. The irrigation lines and all are controlled from near the corner of the garage. Click on either image to enlarge.

Front Walkway

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Reunion - Ham Radio Style

Eating Meeting

Over the holiday weekend, we had house guests in the form of a couple that I have known since 1960 or so. I met Dick and Taffy on 2 meters AM in California when I was still in high school. We became good friends in those days. We also had a lot of mutual ham radio friends on the air and in person back then.

We got back in touch with them after a lot of years via email a couple of months ago when they found me and invited me to a reunion out in California of a bunch of other hams we knew. We weren’t able to go for a variety of reasons, but kept in touch hoping for a meet and greet opportunity. It so happened that Dick and Taffy were in Arizona to attend a grandson’s graduation from technical school in the Phoenix area on Saturday. We had previously offered to host them here at our place for an extended visit after the grandson’s grad event. They arrived here on Sunday afternoon.

The third party in the reunion was Jim, one of those mutual friends back then, who has recently relocated to the Prescott, AZ, area. Since we planned a Labor Day grilled steaks dinner, we invited Jim and his wife, Shirley, to attend which they graciously accepted. We all had a great visit, dinner and more visit before the confab broke up just before dark. Jim and Shirley headed back north, Dick and Taffy stayed one more night here and the latter departed this morning, returning to California.

We really enjoyed all the story swapping, getting caught up on other friend’s activities and learning about ancestry and genealogy tactics (we may soon use some of those). By the way, everyone present on Labor Day would be considered right-wing lunatics by the anti-constitutional left. Of course, normal people would consider us Patriotic Americans. It was a good and enjoyable reunion and encounter and we hope to be able to have a redux soon.

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Visiting The Ancestors

Great Grandma Spencer

Today is the day we visited Cedar Cemetery in Montrose. Cedar is the resting place of my Great Grandmother and her mother (my G2). G1’s youngest brother, one of my Great Uncles is also buried here. Damsel and I placed wreaths on their graves today and took some photos.

Of special interest to us was the headstone pictured above. We were here two years ago and found that there was no monument for my Great Grandmother who passed in 1960. For over five and a half decades, she was in an unmarked grave.

Last year, Damsel and I contracted with a monument company in Delta, CO, about 20 miles north of Montrose, to place the marker shown above. We had seen photos of it before, but now that we’re here we know the monument company did a great job. We left the cemetery with a feeling of great satisfaction.

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It’s Not A Diet - It’s A Lifestyle

keto.pngLast year, we both had our annual check-up with the family physician. After our exams, he ordered some lab work, mainly phlebotomy (blood work). Within a few days, Damsel got a call from their office advising that her tests had come back showing her to be in pre-diabetes (type 2) with high triglycerides. My results weren’t all that too hot either, with the usual (for me) high cholesterol and other chronic problems showing up (kidney, hypertension, etc.). The doctor recommended a low-sugar (i.e. low carbohydrate) diet for her.

The pre-diabetes condition was something that immediately needed attention. We searched for and found a volume on KETO pre-diabetic recipes that went a step further than food prep and described how a body typically could reverse the diabetic trend by eliminating most high-in-carbohydrates foods. After reading up on some of the science behind the recovery process, we both decided to adapt our food preparation and consumption habits. Damsel to try and slow down the diabetes potential and me to try and lose some of the fifteen or so extra pounds.

The first step was to purge from the pantry any and all items that were on an IMMENSE list of high carb no-nos. After filling up four good sized cardboard boxes of goodies headed out to the local food bank, we dutifully delivered them never to see the likes of those items in our pantry again. The list included rice, pasta, legumes, peas, corn, carrots, wheat flour, cornbread mix, pancake mix and so forth, most of which would regularly be included in our home-prepared meals.

We quickly adapted to the change and found many delicious recipes for low carb meals. There is plenty of on-line help on the food topic out there including Diet Doctor, plus there are cookbooks galore including many by TV Chef George Stella whose variety and clever substitutions for hi-carb goodies is a very good thing.

Early this year, after being on the new feeding arrangement for a few months, we saw the family doctor again. He prescribed follow-up testing to see how we were doing. When the test results came back, Damsel showed a definite drop in the triglycerides and other lipids that were now essentially normal. I did not see her A1C number, but the verbal report indicated it was now normal.

Damsel has lost a few pounds since the onset of the low-carb regimen, but more importantly, she is now in the green arc.

Me, on the other hand, I am now back to my high-school weight, having lost about 25 pounds. My weight is now stable and is normal for my height and build. I have now backed off of my blood pressure meds to about ⅓ of the previous dosage. I visited the kidney specialist and was advised that my marginal function had improved from 60 percent efficient to 80, which is fairly normal for my age (just turned 76 this week). My lipid numbers are all normal except for a high HDL cholesterol reading (a GOOD thing) and a low risk for cardio-vascular problems (a VERY GOOD thing).

The following excerpt* from one of our several books on the topic describes how we are neither starving nor craving these days:

MAINTAINING A LOW-CARB, HIGH-FAT DIET is beneficial for weight loss. Most importantly, according to an increasing number of studies, it helps reduce risk factors for diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and more. The keto diet promotes fresh whole foods like meat, fish, veggies, and healthy fats and oils, and greatly reduces processed, chemically treated foods. It’s a diet that you can sustain long-term and enjoy. What’s not to enjoy about a diet that encourages eating bacon and eggs for breakfast!

Studies consistently show that a keto diet helps people lose more weight, improve energy levels throughout the day, and stay satiated longer. The increased satiety and improved energy levels are attributed to most of the calories coming from fat, which is very slow to digest and calorically dense. As a result, keto dieters commonly consume fewer calories because they’re satiated longer and don’t feel the need to eat as much or as often.

* Ramos, Amy. The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle (p. 13). Rockridge Press. Kindle Edition.

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Grand Canyon National Park Centennial Crowding

View from Yavapai Point

We can all agree that the scenery at Grand Canyon’s South Rim is nearly unsurpassed in its spectacular views of the canyon. And, looking at the second photo below of the South Entrance traffic this morning, we can all agree that the canyon’s popularity tests its infrastructure to the limit. Also, given that 2019 is the canyon’s Centennial celebration, it has become an even more internationally popular attraction.

South Entrance Traffic Jam

Although Damsel and I haven’t been there in a couple of years, the last several times (starting in 2008) we have gone to the South Rim we have found difficult parking, overcrowded view areas and tons of inconsiderate people who seriously detract from the enjoyment of the visit. We probably will not visiting there soon, but I asked the internet to show me slow times at the south rim and I got the following hit from the National Parks Service about a South Rim Survival Guide. They address several points, not all of which are useful to us, but I’ll share them anyhow.

Visiting During Busy Periods

Like other national parks, Grand Canyon has seen a dramatic increase in visitation over the last few years. The South Rim experiences crowded conditions during busy periods throughout the year, including spring break, summer, and holiday times during fall and winter. You can expect:

  • Long entrance station lines,
  • Long shuttle bus lines,
  • Limited parking near Grand Canyon Visitor Center,
  • Large crowds at popular viewpoints.

However, there are ways to navigate and avoid some of this congestion to make the most of your time on the South Rim. Here are some tips:

  1. Park in Tusayan and Ride the Free Shuttle into the Park
  2. Planning to Drive Your Vehicle into the Park?
  3. After 10 am Parking Becomes Limited Around the Visitor Center
  4. Enter the Park at Desert View, If You Are Approaching Grand Canyon from the East
  5. Tips for Touring Scenic Hermit Road
  6. Visiting the South Rim with 3 Hours or Less?
  7. Arriving in the Afternoon with 4 or 5 Hours?
  8. Less Crowded Sunset Locations
  9. Take the Train

The enumerated tips above are all expanded on their Survival Guide. As I said, not all are options for our needs, but we may try to avoid some of the hassle by taking a suggestion or two.

As usual, click on either image to enlarge.

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Celebrating Our Irish Heritage

stpaddyvb.png

Damsel’s sister is an Ancestry addict, having traced not only her roots, but also those of mine, and many of her other in-laws. Thanks to her, we were able to look back in our family tree to establish that, indeed, there were Irish ancestors in both Damsel’s and my lineage. In both cases, we have to go back quite a few generations to actually find someone who lived on the Emerald Isles.

Damsel’s birth surname is quite Irish-sounding, while mine is more of English derivation. In both cases, we each trace to that region of Europe with some Dutch showing up in my ancestry (e.g. Van Patten, Van Slyck). Damsel has some Native American in the Oklahoma region up her tree.

Regardless of our actual heritage, we’re both Irish today as we settle in to enjoy a traditional (to Irish Americans) Corned Beef and Cabbage boiled dinner this afternoon. We hope that you are enjoying the day as well, Irish or not.

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Happy Pi Day - 3/14/2019

pi.png

Before there was a PI key on our Bowmar Brains, many of us would approximate the value of PI using the formula 355/113. Some of us also memorized the first nine digits of Pi - 3.14159265 and input that into our calculators. Either way, the result would be off by less than 1 part per million, good enough for most applications short of space launches.

Scientific American has this offering about How Much Pi Do You Need?:

You might have observed Pi Day on March 14. It gets its name from 3.14, the first three digits of the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Always on the lookout for excuses to eat pie, some geeky math types also celebrate the number on July 22. The fraction 22/7 has a value of 3.142857, so it has the same first three digits as pi.

Both 3.14 and 22/7 are approximations of pi, so the two days deserve the same title. In fact, 22/7 is closer to pi than 3.14 is. So if you’re an aspiring pedant, you can choose to celebrate July 22 as Pi Day and March 14 as Not Quite as Close to Pi Day. (Either way, you’ll enjoy more pie.) But what does it mean to be an approximation of pi—and why does it matter?

[Continue Reading]

This interesting article goes on to discuss how many decimal places of PI accuracy are needed for space operations, navigation (GPS) and quantum mechanics.

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