Wednesday, June 16, 2010

While she's gone

I've been thinking that while Megan is gone I should surprise her with a mural painted on the wall above our bed. The wall is about 8 feet tall (5 feet above the bed) and 12 or 13 feet wide. She posted about doing Nacho Libre in the boys room, but I think it would be fun to experiment in our room first (and because the paint is peeling off the wall in some spots there anyway). I don't know what to paint though, a grassy field scene from the Sound of Music comes to mind. But what do all my faithful readers (there's 21 of you now, well 20 without myself) think I should paint?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lowes Shopping Trip 2010

A quick story for you while I am on my lunch break:

Recently we have been having some issues with our swamp cooler. Megan can tell you how she is suffering. So last night I needed to go to the hardware store to get a pump hose restrictor clamp . I decided that it was about time I take my annual trip to Lowes to help me remember why I don't like going there in the first place. The following is my story. Once again, if you like or are in love with Lowes, then don't read this. However, if you depend on Lowes to put food on your table, you should read this so that your store can be better and you can make more money.

I arrived with my two sons at about 8:00. We walked in and surveyed near the entrance for where the seasonal items are, cause it makes sense that in Utah a swamp cooler is a seasonal item. We found the swamp cooler aisle and headed over there. We were short on time cause the sun doesn't stay up forever and I didn't want to be working on this thing in the dark. 

We straightway found all sorts of parts and pieces and valves for swamp coolers. I quickly scanned the entire aisle and couldn't find the part I needed. I scanned the entire aisle again and again and again, no luck. After about 5 minutes of standing in the same spot, without having anyone come help me, I decided I better seek out the help. 

Nearby we found a small kiosk with a button that said push for assistance. So I pushed it and a little red light on the button started blinking, but nothing else happened. Soon a store worker who was already helping someone came to the kiosk and started looking up something for the other customer, but he never acknowledged me. So what did I do, you ask? I said, hey boys, look, here is a button, who wants to push the button? 2-year olds love pushing buttons by the way. Oh, those boys were having so much fun pushing the button! And finally over the loud speaker a voice said "Assistance Needed in the Seasonal Area". But even still the dude who was no more than three feet in front of me never said anything to me or even looked at me. What the? 

I was getting mad, so the boys kept pushing that button. About every sixth push of the button would set off the "Assistance needed..." voice. Finally after about five times that it was announced that assistance was needed, the dude kinda freaked out and said, "Look, I'm going to get in trouble if you keep pushing the button!" Then he picked up his phone and over the loud speaker canceled my plea for assistance to the entire store!!

Ouch. I was more than mad, I was hurt. Don't I deserve a little help? Am I a nobody? 

Soon though, a fancy mid-aged gentleman in a nice vest that said "Service Manager" showed up. I motioned to him that I needed help and he slowly came over to the cooler aisle to answer my question. He couldn't find the restrictor clamp either. He suggested that I get a regular hose clamp. I agreed that a hose clamp might be a good substitution. But then I asked him, "if I am restricting flow, can I anticipate increased wear on my pump?" He said, "I don't know. You should call a technician and ask him."

WHAT???? Who are you?

OK, I am at a hardware store, if I have the gumption to go all the way to the store and try to fix things myself, why would I want to call a technician? Hello, that's exactly what I am trying to avoid!! Unless you're new to this tricky business we call life, contacting a technician to magically solve all your problems isn't always an option. Only sometimes. We can talk about those later.

So I left and went to Home Depot. And then it was dark, and I barely got the thing put together before all light was gone. And then we used it for a while before it tripped the breaker again. I think it's due to the wire nut and electrical tape splice job someone did on the main power lines INSIDE the cooler. The splice job totally looks like it belongs in one of those emails that goes around showing all the really dangerous things people do with power lines in third world countries. Sorry Brian Hanson if you did the splice job. This weekend's project will be to pull new power lines to the system with connections only in the moisture-protected control box. 

The bright spot in this whole story is that I discovered you can buy a digital thermostat for your swamp cooler! Who knew!?! They're a bit pricey, but I am interested. Once we solve all our problems, I think I will get one.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Best News of the Century!!

I received a phone call this morning saying, "Congratulations, everything is FINE!!!" That means I am done. 10 years later, I am done with school!! Yahoo.

I'm trying to post an audio file of the voice mail message, but it's not working well. Google is supposed to be inventing a way to post your voice mails directly from your cell phone, but it's under construction or something and not available. Bummer.

Try clicking on the "enclosure link" (I don't even know what that is).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'm Famous!!!

A list of 14 things that I love has been featured on Megan's blog as part of her 14 Days of Love project. Check it out here!

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Know how when you're getting a shot at the doctors or at the dentist and they always tell you to think of a happy place? What do people think of? I think most everyone probably thinks of Disneyland. When you're grown up they let you watch the needle, so that's what I do now.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I think the second most stressful part of being a parent of small kids is getting them ready to go out the door (the worst stresser is waking up screaming at 2 am and then not going back to sleep). The getting-ready-to-go-out-the-door process exponentially complicates itself in the cold winter due to coats and shoes even though you might only be going 20 feet from your doorstep to the car, to another doorstep.

Late last night I was getting the three kids ready to leave my mom's house after the Jazz game. Maggie is at the age where she can dress herself 50 to 75% of the way, but then needs help with one thing or another. She was putting her coat on and had one arm in, but was struggling with the other. She was bending her arm back funny like happens sometimes and so she was missing the sleeve. She asked me for help, and silly mean old me, instead of having her readjust her arm, I just forced it until it went in the sleeve hole, at which point a loud pop was heard. She screamed "OWWW!!!" but didn't cry and her shoulder didn't look dislocated and she still had full range of motion, so being the proud, reassuring parent, I just rubbed it and said, you'll be OK.

So then this morning she was watching me put a coat on one of the twins. After I was done she said, "Good job brudder! Daddy not breaka your arm. Daddy breaka my arm Grandma's house." I had to laugh. She is a good sport. I am glad kids are made of rubber and they don't break that easily. I am surprised that none of them have had to have stitches yet. By the time I was their cumulative age (~6.5 years) I had had stitches at least 3 times.

Here are some pictures of the twins the Sunday before Christmas. Things started out good with a standoff-ish high five and went downhill from there.

Will is really good at arching his back. I think he will make a fine wrestler.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Engineering Tip #1

Since this is a blog devoted to the art and science of engineering, I decided I should post an engineering tip.

Today's tip is about broken back slopes. I know that sounds risque and improprietous, but it is not what you think, it is a real engineering term. Click here to google broken back slopes. We will break down a broken back slope to understand its features and then calculate an equivalent slope.

Everyone repeat out loud today's objective with me: We will break down a broken back slope to understand its features and then calculate an equivalent slope.

OK. Lets start by examining the case of a retaining wall. A retaining wall with an infinite slope is shown below. The wall height is H and the back slope rises from the horizontal at the angle B (beta). The angle of the backslope (beta) is used in a long equation ripe with trigonometry functions to calculate the active force coefficient of the retaining wall backfill soil that must retained. The equation is called Coulomb Active Pressure (click to see in Wikipedia - oh, and don't forget to donate).

Now we will look at a retaining wall with a broken back slope. If the horizontal distance of the slope to the point where the back slope breaks is less than 2 times H, we should calculate an equivalent back slope called B' (beta prime) to use in the Coulomb Active Pressure calculation. B' (beta prime) is the angle of a line extrapolated from the top of the retaining wall to a distance 2 times H behind the wall.