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Underground Irrigation Repair Without Digging – All it Takes is a Heat Gun!

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I developed this irrigation repair technique out of desperation. A sprinkler head had launched itself out of the ground right beside me one day and landed in a potted plant. The resulting geyser was spectacular, but the location was horrible!

The area around this particular sprinkler head was surrounded in paving stone and brick, and worse, right up against a fence. To make things harder, I had installed a french-drain only a foot away! The riser’s nipple was missing. Sure enough, a replacement stand-pipe wouldn’t even begin to screw in! Obviously, the broken off part of the nipple was stuck in the t-connector – deep underground! Before I developed this technique, I would have had to dig lateral trenches about 2′ long on each side of the connector, cut the supply lines off each end of the connector, added a sleeve and spacer, then glued in a replacement t-connector. Not this time! There was too much involved in digging this connector out of the ground!

I have a special purpose tool I’d bought from The Home Depot just for this problem. It’s the PVC variant of an “easy-out.” Unfortunately, it wouldn’t work! I couldn’t get enough pressure (the connector was buried just about the extractor’s full length), and I kept scraping my knuckles against a fence post. The stand-pipe wasn’t PVC, it was vinyl. It was so slick, the knife edges of the extractor wouldn’t bite into the inside edge.

But vinyl melts! I have a 1200 watt heat gun I’d bought for paint stripping. The extractor’s tip is metal and by using this heat gun, I got the extractor’s tip hot. Real hot. Sizzling hot! By pushing the extractor straight down the hole, it gently melted into the broken off nipple – deep underground! I let it set and cool for a few minuets before giving it a twist. Two seconds later, the broken off nipple was extracted!

After screwing in a replacement riser, I cycled the irrigation pump to that zone to rinse out all of the dirt that had fallen into the connector. I put a new sprinkler head on the replacement riser, and guess what? That irrigation repair was done. Not only done, I didn’t have to dig one spade of dirt!

The trick was heating up the extractor’s tip hot enough to melt into the broken off vinyl nipple to get a grip.

A few weeks later, I had a different problem. I had mounted new window boxes along one side wall of my home and wanted to use my in-ground irrigation system to water the new flowers. I had a capped off riser right where I need to place a 4′ riser. Unfortunately, this was an old steel riser that I’d bumped into several times with the mower, and when I removed the pipe it left the t-connector’s threads stripped and choked with rust-scale! Unlike most of my irrigation repair projects, this line is very shallow. Shallow enough for me to scrape away the top to really see the damage.

There wasn’t anything I could do to thread the new riser into place, I was going to have to replace the t-connector – or maybe not. I have a pretty complete shop and I have metal working tools to tap holes for screw threads, or cut outside threads for bolts. Since I had to go to The Home Depot or Lowe’s anyway for a replacement t-connector, why not see if they had a tool for pipe threads?

The staff at Lowe’s laughed when I asked them for a tool to cut internal 1/2″ pipe thread for an underground PVC t-connector! Their only advice was to dig it up and replace it. No Way! The staff at The Home Depot didn’t laugh out loud, but they also suggested replacement fittings.

I did buy the fittings, but I also found the perfect tool – an 18″ length of 1/2″ steel pipe! Once again, the 1200 watt heat gun came to the rescue. By heating the pipe end, the thread section, I was able to plunge it into the buried t-connector. It sizzled as it sank in and I quickly worked it in deeper as I screwed it into place. Without letting it sit, I unscrewed the steel pipe to prevent it from welding into place. I repeated this operation several times until all of the pipe’s threaded section was within the t-connector’s nipple.

Guess what? The new replacement 4′ PVC riser threaded itself right in! By using heat, pressure, and steel threads, I was able to partially melt the underground t-connector and cut new threads. Not a spade full of dirt was dug up for this irrigation repair!

Since then, I’ve helped neighbors with their irrigation repair projects that left them amazed – “you can actually cut new threads underground without having to dig” – Wow, thanks Bill, real big thanks!

Not all irrigation repairs can use this technique. Let’s face it, if the t-connector’s nipple or connecting pipes crack or break, you will have to dig. But try this tip first and see if it works. You’ll know within minuets if there’s a more serious problem. You’ll get wet standing there, but you’ll quickly see upwelling around the sprinkler head in operation if there’s a broken pipe or cracked nipple. Oh well, at least you gave it a try!

I’ve had this cheap $20 heat gun for more than twenty years. Not only does it do a great job lifting paint, I’ve used it for boat electrical repairs (heat-shrink tubing), removing self-adhesive vinyl tile, contact paper, and sanding disks, and even starting fires in my charcoal pit. This is NOT a hair dryer – keep safe, keep it away from you at all times!

In conclusion, I was able to use my cheap heat gun and cheaper steel pipe to apply enough heat and pressure to re-mold stripped out internal threads, and enough raw heat to let another tool’s edges cut into material that without that tool, would have required digging lots of dirt for these simple irrigation repair projects!

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Onions – To Cry For

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What would a recipe be like if we did not have onions? The distinctively pungent smell and taste of onions rounds out the flavours of almost any type of cuisine. For centuries, onions have added value to our cuisine and have also been thought of as having therapeutic properties.

The word onion comes from the Latin word unio for “single” or “one” because the onion produces a single bulb. The name also suggests the union of the many separate concentrically arranged layers of the onion. Onions are native to Asia and the Middle East and have thought to be cultivated for over five thousand years-they were highly regarded by the ancient Egyptians. Often the ancient Egyptians used them as currency to pay the workers who built the pyramids, and also placed them in the tombs of kings (Tutankhamen) so that the kings could carry them as gifts in the afterlife. In India in the 6th century onions were used as a medicine. The ancient Greeks and Romans often dressed up onions with extra seasonings in their cooking because they did not find them spicy enough. Many European countries during the Middle Ages served onions as a classic healthy breakfast food. It should be noted that Christopher Columbus brought onions with him to the West Indies and spread their cultivation from there throughout the Western Hemisphere. Today the leading producers of onions are China, the United States, Russia and Spain, among others.

Onions are available in fresh, frozen, canned and dehydrated forms. They can be used in almost any type of food, cooked, in fresh salads or as a garnish, and are usually chopped or sliced. Onions are mainly used as an accompaniment to a main course and are rarely eaten on their own. There are many different types of onions ranging from sharp and pungent to mild and sweet.

Depending on the variety, onions range in size, colour and taste. There are generally two types of large, globe-shaped onions, classified as spring/summer or storage onions. The spring/summer class includes onions that are grown in warm weather climates and have characteristic mild or sweet tastes. This group includes the Maui Sweet Onion (in season April through June), Vidalia (in season May through June) and Walla Walla (in season July and August). Storage onions are grown in colder weather climates and, after harvesting, can be dried out for a period of several months. They generally have a more pungent flavour and are named by their color: white, yellow or red. Spanish onions are classified as storage onions. There are also smaller varieties of onions, such as the green onion (also called scallions) and the pearl onion.

Onions are members of the Allium family and are rich in powerful sulphur-containing compounds which are responsible for their pungent odours and for their many health-promoting effects. When an onion is sliced the cells are broken, which allows enzymes called alliinases to break down sulphides and generate sulphenic acids (amino acid sulfoxides). The Sulphenic acids are unstable and decompose to produce a gas called syn-propanethial-S-oxide. Then this gas reaches the eye it reacts with the water in the eye to form a diluted solution of sulphuric acid which irritated the nerve endings in the eye. Your eye then produces tears to dilute and flush out the irritating substance. This is what makes your eyes sting and water when slicing onions.

Eye irritation can be reduced by supplying an ample amount of water to the reaction, which prevents the gas from reaching your eye. This is why it is thought to be helpful to cut onions under running water or submerged in a bowl of water. Rinsing the onion and leaving it wet while slicing may also be helpful. Other tips to help reduce eye irritation are by freezing onions, which prevents the enzymes from activating, limiting the amount of gas generated. Also, using a very sharp knife while chopping will limit the cell damage thereby reducing the amount of enzymes released. Lemon will help to remove the characteristic odour of the onion.

As mentioned, onions are thought to produce many health benefits. Onions are a good source of chromium, the mineral component in glucose tolerance factor, a molecule that helps cells respond to insulin. Diabetic clinical studies have shown that the chromium produced by onions can decrease fasting blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels and decrease total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as increase good HDL-cholesterol levels.

One cup of raw onion contains over 20% of the daily value for chromium. Since chromium levels are depleted by the consumption of refined sugars, white flour products and the lack of exercise, marginal chromium deficiency is common in the United States.

A case-control study from Southern European populations suggests that making onions and garlic a staple in your diet may greatly lower your risk of several common cancers. Eating onions two or more times per week is associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing colon cancer. As well, the regular consumption of onions has been shown to lower high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, both of which help prevent atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Onions may also help maintain healthy bones. A newly identified compound in onions, gamma-L-glutamyl-trans-S-1-propenyl-cysteine sulphoxide (GPCS) inhibits the activity of osteoclasts (the cells that break down bones). This may be especially beneficial for women who are at increased risk for osteoporosis as they go through menopause.

Other potential health benefits of onions include several anti-inflammatory agents that reduce the severity of symptoms associated with the pain and swelling of osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, the allergic inflammatory response of asthma, and the respiratory congestion associated with the common cold. Also, quercitin and other flavonoids found in onions work with vitamin C to help kill harmful bacteria and are helpful when added to soups and stews during cold and flu season.

In many parts of the undeveloped world, onions are also helpful in healing blisters and boils. Onion extract (Mederma) is used in the United States in the treatment of topical scars.

When choosing onions, choose onions that are clean, have no opening at the neck and have crisp, dry outer skins. Avoid onions that have sprouted, have signs of mold, or once that have soft spots, moisture at the neck, and dark patches which may indicate signs of decay. When choosing scallions, choose those that have green, fresh-looking tops which are crisp and tender. They should be white in colour for 2-3″ along the base. Avoid scallions that look wilted or have yellowed tops.

Store onions are room temperature, away from bright light and in a well-ventilated area. Hanging them in a wire basket or perforated bowl for ventilation is ideal. Onions that are more pungent in flavour, such as yellow onions, can be stored for longer periods that the sweeter variety of onions, such as white onions. Scallions should be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and will keep well for about a week. Store all onions away from potatoes as the onions will absorb the moisture from the potatoes and cause them to spoil more easily. Cut onions should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or sealed in a container, and should be used within a couple of days since they tend to oxidize and lose their nutrient value quickly. To maintain the best taste of cooked onions, they should be stored in an airtight container and used within a few days. Never place cooked onions in a metal container since this will cause discoloration. Peeled and chopped onions may be frozen raw, but this can cause them to lose some of their flavour.

Onions can be eaten raw or cooked in almost any way imaginable-broiled, boiled, baked, creamed, fried, deep-fried, or pickled. They are great in soups, stews and combined with meats and vegetables. They add a versatility to your dishes that is hard to beat.

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Anger Management Tips For Parents

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Do you sometimes get angry with your kids and feel it escalate by losing control? We all get angry, even at our kids, anger is a normal emotion. It’s what we do with it that’s important, and how we cope with the consequences. “Angry parents breed hostile children”. Anger management for parents is crucial because if you learn to control your anger towards your children you are also teaching your children how to control theirs.

Anger management for parents is most important to avoid various teenage behaviour problems in the future. In the book “Solving Teenage Problems”, various ways in which parents can control their anger and have reasonable conversation with their teenager have been discussed. Along with this the book also provides a very effective model called “Communication Enhancement Model”, which can help parents to structure difficult discussions with their teenagers. However it all starts with your ability as parents to control your anger and below are some of the tricks you need to practice right from the time your child is a young kid, so that you can master the art of anger management:

First and most importantly, anger management starts with being honest with your kids! Tell them you are angry, without necessarily giving them all the details. You can say you are angry but you are working through it and finding a solution. This teaches them that being angry is normal, they won’t be punished for it – since mom or dad feels it too – and they can express it the same way.

Avoid anger triggers. The room is a mess? Close the door. It’s not the end of the world. There’s spilt milk on the table? It’s okay; your kid can pick it up after the meal. It’s not life threatening. Ignoring small mishaps is crucial for anger management.

If your anger is caused by your kids’ bad attitudes, try the 1-2-3-Magic method, well known for diffusing potential anger situations. The parent only says “one” to the kids to stop the unacceptable behaviour, until the parent reaches “three”. The kids have already been told that by three, if they haven’t stopped the unacceptable behaviour, there’s a consequence. It also lets the parent calm down before exploding, just by saying “one”. The parent stays composed and the kids know what’s going to happen ahead of time. This method has saved many situations from escalating into parents’ angry fits towards their children. When consequences are explained to the kids and they know that they need to clean their act in certain period of time, anger management becomes easier as you know that you need to have patience and give your kids the time to clean their act and if they do not do it, you exactly know how you are going to react. This itself has a calming effect on you.

Whatever we do, our kids will imitate. Anger, when not properly expressed and dealt with, hurts everyone, including the angry person. For a better atmosphere when the family is together, everyone gains through proper anger management.

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Fruit and Weight Loss

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Did you know that grapefruits, melons, berries papayas and peach can actually help you lose weight? Fruit has zero cholesterol, serves as a good source of fiber and reduces blood pressure and the risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Everybody wants a diet plan that lets them eat as much as they want without feeling hunger and reducing weight. The trick is to choose foods with fewer calories per gram weight of the food. The more water and fiber in food, the lower its energy density, and the more it helps you stay full while you reduce your weight.

So eating fruit is good for us and it helps us to loose weight and not feel hungry while dieting. But will any fruit do the job? What about canned fruit or dried fruit? Actually the best choice is fresh fruit, canned and dried fruit contain a much higher amount of calories.

The top fruits for weight loss include grapefruit, melons, berries, papayas and peach. Fruit serves as a great snack substitute instead of cakes, fries and doughnuts. Try berries grapes and apple slices include red and green grapes, pineapple chunks, strawberries, sliced bananas and pears in your daily diet and you will definitely loose your weight while improving your health. And do not forget fruit canned also serve as part of your breakfast lunch or dinner not only as snack substitute, try making a fruity dessert, eat it with yogurt and low-fat granola add fruit to your cereal or oatmeal and you will have a great low calorie meal.

Fruit can be a dieters best choice to reduce weight use it as a meal or a snack and enjoy natures gift for dieters fresh fruit…

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