Saturday, April 19, 2014

Preventive Actions for Foundation Maintenance

Spring time is also a time to check around the house, to see if there is any problem around the foundation. For North Texas clay soil, too much or too little water around the foundation will both cause foundation problems. In addition to use soaker hose to keep perimeter of foundation moisturized, the following actions may help as well.

Gutter and Rain Water diversion

Gutter is typically installed to prevent drip-line erosion around the foundation. The problem a gutter can cause is that water collected on the roof are drained from limited number of downpour sprouts. With gutters, there is a potential that large amount of water might accumulate at certain areas.

In the following picture, the neighbor's fence is low area where water can accumulate when water is drained directly from the downspout.  To prevent this from happening a drain extension was installed to divert the rain water to driveway.


During hot and dry summer, sprinkling the yard is one way to keep the soil around the foundation moisturized. Last summer, our yard had brown patches here and there despite regular water sprinkling. Initially I thought that it was due to the health of grass. One neighbor commented that the brown patches were due to malfunction of some sprinkler heads. Upon examination, I noticed that a 360 deg sprinkler head in fact only spray water in 180 degree range. This problem can be fixed by replacing the sprinkler heads. Replacing sprinkler head is not difficult but not trivial either.



Trees provide shade, add beauty to a yard. It also absorb a lot of water out of
ground. According to literature, a large tree can absorb over 100 gallon of water out of ground a day!! So a big tree can pose serious problems to foundation especially when there is drought. Many neighbors around us cut down big trees around their houses to reduce the threats from big trees to their foundations. We are not ready to cut trees yet, so we try to mitigate the big tree's threat to foundation in several ways. One is to aggressively trim big trees, which also help to prevent wind/storm damage to the trees. I also cut exposed roots - hoping to reduce the amount of water a tree can take. This should also stun the tree from growing - which may not be a bad thing for a tree too big for a yard. The third thing we do is to water trees additionally during hot dry summer to reduce amount of water the trees suck directly out of ground.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Storms about 10 days ago brought much needed rain to North Texas, and really rejuvenated the landscape from its dormant state. It is time to enjoy the freshness the spring brings.

Last Saturday was a sunny but windy day. Instead of playing tennis, Lily, Nicholas and I went for a late morning bike ride around the Russel Creek Park via the big loop. There were not as many flowers along the route as last year, but the fresh green everywhere is more than enough to compensate for it.

Midway through the ride, we diverted to explore the newly constructed bike route underpass at Independence Parkway. The ramps to the underpass are narrow, and relative steep, and there is not a lot to see on the other side of the road. I guess that the underpass is more for people on east side of independence to have a safe bike route to the park than for any other purposes.

Going to the park is an easy joy ride for us, since it is downhill. Coming home is bit harder. Moving against the strong south wind on the way home was a bit strenuous. This 30+ minute bike ride was a good exercise. The sense of renewal from the green color everywhere was priceless.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Father and Son Bonding

Since Lily started working at her current job and Justin left the house, Nicholas and I have had plenty of time being home together just the two of us.

We watch ABC "world news tonight" together if I get home in time.

We have dinner together every weekday. We watch Wheel of Fortune on CBS together and play along  - he is pretty good at it.

We watch "The Voice" - singing competition show on NBC together from time to time - and exchange our thoughts on a singer's performance or how a coach might react.

We listen to "Intelligence Square" debate on Sundays, and comment on both the substance and the style.

We play tennis together every Saturday.

We learn classical physics, do physics experiment regularly.

More recently I asked him to have more physical activities during weekday afternoon. He went along. When we go biking along the big loop around Russell Creek Park, he would stop to wait for me from time to time if I lag behind too far.

With time, our communication changed from only about school work and the amount of time he spends on playing computer game, to many things more - world news, local event, "what do you think about ...", my opinion on political hot topics, his thoughts ....

Last fall, we had not had camping trip for long time, I asked Nicholas if he was willing to go camping just with me since his mom had to work on weekends. To Lily's surprise, he said yes!

Since I was so impressed with his performance at play along on "wheel of fortune", I suggested that he should consider applying for playing the real thing. Lily asked him whom he would choose to be his partner - to our surprise, he chose me even though I'm not so clever with words!

Despite the fact that mom is closest to him and we have discipline confrontations occasionally, I sense that he and I are getting closer.

Last Thursday afternoon, as I was starting my car ready to go home, I got a phone call from Nicholas.

"Hi Dad, it is Nicholas. Where are you now?"
"I am at Parking lot at work, about to leave for home. What's up?"
"I am watching TV, it is reporting that there is tornado warning in Denton. I just want to know where you are"
" I am miles away from Denton. No tornado warning here. Don't worry. See you soon"
"OK, see you and be careful!"

It was first time ever Nicholas called just to check on my well being. It was heart warming!

Father and Son bonding takes time. There are many ways to strengthen father and son relation. The key is that a father has to really involve in his son's activities, and cares about him.