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Sprinkler Valve Leaks – How I Repaired and Replaced them

My neighbor and I have been chasing down the root cause of the water leaving out from the water meter into the street. It’s a serious offence now we’re in a serious drought here in California. We originally suspected that it was coming out of his main faucet. The water company (San Jose Water Co.) came out to inspect in the summer and fixed some gasket. Now it’s happening again. I then noticed that water was leaking out of my sprinkler valve. So I decided to fix it once and for all. I thought it was a simple task of cleaning the diaphragm. After I opened it it, I determined that the diaphragm was pretty worn out. Upon checking out the price of the diaphgragm (~$8) and comparing it to a new valve ($14), I decided to replace the entire valve instead. No sense replacing a sub par parts when I can get a brand new one. The challenge is to adapting the valve to the copper piping as PVC pipe is much easier to work with. Then I discovered the adjacent value was leaking very badly too. And it got more interesting…
Check out my video how I got the valve(s) replaced here:

Book Review: “The Chemistry Between Us” by Larry Young PhD and Brian Alexander

Until reading this book, I didn’t know how much of our behaviors are shaped by the chemistry in our brain, especially the ones between the sexes. Many kinds of our bodily chemicals are introduced here: oxytocin, dopamine, vasopressin, tosterone and etc. I learned a lot about the sexual behavior of animals like Angler Fish, Bonobos, and etc. This is a very interesting book. In a way, it ruined my perception of love but it explains a lot of our human behavior between sexes. We owe a lot to our human evolution that shapes our brain to propagate our species. Most of time it’s above our “free will.” This is an excellent book if you’re interested in how the various chemicals affect our brain.

A short summary is here:

Chapter 1: Building a Sexual Brain
The story of machihembra was the first I read about. Interesting that girls turn into a boy at twelve years old in Dominican Republic. Society does not make sexual gender. Boys and girls are made differently started in the brain, not dictated by socialization nor the genitals which they’re born with.

Chapter 2: The Chemistry of Desire
Estrogen or production of progesterone receptors during ovulation (in estrous) puts animals (mouses, cats) and women in heat or more receptive to mating. Testosterone drops when men are near their babies or losing a sports match. It rises when encountering another ovulating female, also more mate-guarding behavior.

Chapter 3: The Power of Appetite
Our appetite is based on MPOA (medial preoptic area), nucleus accumbens, the amygdala, and the VTA. Dopamine hits D1 receptors of MPOA, we become attentive to sex-related cues. MPOA directs the parasympathetic nervous system to send blood to the genitals, creating erections in males and clitoral engorgement in females. VTA transmits dopamine into the prefrontal cortex (disinhibiting sexual desire and giving us tunnel vision for cues that lead to satisfying the desire. After orgasm, Endocannabinoids, the brain version of marijuana, make use a little sleepy. Serotonin gushes, inducing a feeling of calms, satiety, and satisfaction. Endorphins floods into the limbic system and hypothalamic area. Fetishes or partner preferences can be developed from early sexual experience due to satisfying the specific appetite via dopamine release.

Chapter 4: The Mommy Circuit
Oxytocin causes contraction for giving birth and induces maternal behavior. Prolactin stimulates the breasts to make milk and stimulates the MPOA, which signals the amygdala to suppress the fear and cause the mother to be calmer. Dopamine rewards the mothers for caring for their children.

Chapter 5: Be My Baby
Prairie voles (Monogamy, mated for life) vs. Meadow (Polygamy) voles. More oxytocin receptors in the accumbens, reward center in the brain, are seen in the Prairie voles. Bonding takes all oxytocin, dopamine, opioids, and good social memory (recognizes faces/smell) with the partner when the feel-good cocktails are released. Couples when nose sprayed with oxytocin (or having the vaginal-cervical stimulated as in sheep) tend to be exhibit more “positive” behavior/communication toward each other and create the bond. “A man is a woman’s baby.”

Chapter 6: Be My Territory
Vasopressin in males stimulate territory guarding behavior. Switching on the avprla gene makes the male meadow voles monogamous and good bonders due to increase of Vasopressin receptors. “A woman is an extension of a man’s territory.”

Chapter 7: Addicted To Love
Drug addiction is parallel to falling in love.
Vasopressin serves as a chemical trigger (like in a loaded rifle) in the CRF system to fire off the HPA axis during separation from partner or drug in an addict. For humans, “falling in love is like putting a gun to your head.”

Chapter 8: The Infidelity Paradox
Normal self control, your prefrontal cortex’s talk with your amygdala, ventral tegmental area (VTA) and accumbens, said “cut it out!” before cheating takes place. Once married/bonded, male’s testosterone and stress hormone drops, hence having less sex. This is a phenomenon named after Calvin Coolidge: slow death of passion experienced by many human couples, and rejuvenation of sexual appetite and performance by lure of novelty and infidelity. There is a D4, cheating gene, associated with human ability to resist impulsive desire or yield to temptation.

Chapter 9: Rewriting the Story of Love
Knowing how all the various chemicals work in our brain, do we feel we still have the free will or are we puppets of those “drugs” inside our brain. Is love induced by a drug still a love, real and true? That’s the difficult question.

Theatrical Review: “寶島一村”

Three military families were thrown together in a village in Taiwan when they retreated from mainland China as part of Chiang Kai Shek’s “temporary” military plan to regroup before embarking on liberating the entire mainland China. However, the plan was interrupted when time ran out and Chiang died in 1975, 26 years since he arrived at Taiwan.

The three families eventually settled and took root in Taiwan. One Beijing family has 4 kids and settled in #99 of the village, one gay officer settled in #98 with a make-believe wife who husband’s plane was shut down over mainland and disappeared and rumored to had defected. And one San-dong family with a local wife settled in between the two walls with an electricity tower in their home. The stories started when they were assigned their houses by the government in the village, and ended two generations later when the village was being torn down to make roads. In between, their lives were tangled and dependent on one another. The kids, resenting being treated as a second-class citizens, rebelled against the parents and their traditional values. Some pursued great careers. Some took the easy ways out and some stayed behind.

The lightly-set show took the audience through the emotional roller coasters of laughter (when one of the friends found that he was never understood due to his unique spoken dialect), disappointments (two lovers were separated because the man was not good enough for her family), and sadness (when they visited their families back in mainland).

The final act spoke loudly of the tragedy of this generation as the ghost of the patriarch showed his youngest son of his written blessing hidden in the house just before the houses and the village were going to be torn down, “May you live in a world free of wars and family separations!” He never lived long enough to return to his home town. And as he reflected on his life, he saw that life is nothing short of of kids’ house game (???, 家家酒) and people were thrown together to act out their parts. It sounded like the desperation of a disappointed man. Also, the separated lovers finally met at the Blackjack table in Las Vegas as the women, who rejected him decades before for being not good enough, dealt the cards to a now successful man with an ABC boy. He was still very much in love with her as he traveled many places to look for her.

As a Taiwan-native boy growing up with the 2nd generation of these military families, I never realized and truly empathized their struggle against poverty, loneliness and the pain of being thrown in a foreign place, not being able to see their family members for so long. This was indeed a tragedy that no one should be asked to endure. And yet, the new political party consists of mainly native Taiwanese still continued to play the native-vs.-outsider card to pit one against another to further divide the country. Unfortunately, it’s the political game politicians play to grab power.

I enjoyed this show very much and learned a few things about the outside-province people who I grew up with. In a way, Taiwan is a melting pot of all Chinese people with all the goodness that each one of us brought from his/her home towns from all corners of mainland. This is what makes it unique and lovely in its own way. Like the nickname, 寶島, for Taiwan, it’s a precious island indeed.