This last week was on the chilly side around here. It's moderated some, though still a little below normal, even for deepest, darkest January.

The coldest I had at my house was -20 for two nights in a row. But it warmed up to a pleasant 5 above in the afternoons, for about 20 minutes. That's a good old-fashioned pipe-bursting, car-killing cold snap.

Having gone through a couple of weeks last winter with the water system frozen, with only intermittent and low-pressure water in my house, I wasn't about to take any chances with it this year. I learned that, by letting the kitchen faucet drip all night, I had to get up about every half hour to go to the bathroom, and the constant flushing of the toilet kept the line from freezing.

The local water company spent some significant money on repairs the last couple of years, and for the first time in memory the system was leak free. That meant that when last year's cold penetrated, stuff that used to be protected by the leaks froze up solid. So this year we did a pre-emptive strike and opened a bunch of hoses up and down the system, running water into the river to keep the mains from freezing. It seems to have worked.

But in that kind of cold nothing is without its problems. My new dog thinks the garden hose is irresistible. He spent the summer chewing a couple of hoses into bits. I had hoped that a few months with the hoses rolled up in the garage would have got him over it. No such luck. The hose on the yard hydrant was more than he could resist. He managed to drag it, flowing full bore, all around the yard. At first it was pretty interesting ice art: little ice pillars scattered around, based on where he had dragged the end of the hose. There are also tooth-sized punctures up and down the length of the hose, making great ice art in the trees and bushes. It was all very interesting until he managed to leave the business end of the hose flowing on the driveway. It ran there overnight. The driveway now looks like the Greenland ice sheet.

When you salt the ice on a gravel driveway, all you get is ice with little holes melted through it. I'm going to be dealing with that until spring. So far I don't need tire chains to get out of the garage, but that's only because there hasn't been enough sun to polish the surface smooth yet.

In the news this week, Lance Armstrong went on Oprah's show, on a network that nobody gets, to confess to doping. Well, I never! Who would have thought that the guy who won the Tour de France seven times against the finest chemists in the world was doing his own chemical experiments? I'm shocked, shocked.

It's not clear that Oprah has the authority to grant absolution. I think, to really get cleared of shameful behavior, you have to get to Barbara Walters. I'm still trying to decide if I care or not. It's not like I'm going to quit riding my bike because Lance was a doper. Celebrity endorsements don't matter to me, although I have to admit to being very impressed by the current Buick ads featuring Peyton Manning. If the OnStar system can understand whatever language Peyton Manning speaks, it must be good.

Speaking of celebrities, Sundance is upon us once again: glitz, glamour, famous people we don't even know about lurking in the grocery store, limousines stuck in the slush, and tow trucks everywhere. Flu viruses from every corner of the globe contaminate every overcapacity theater. It's so special.

I heard somebody on the radio the other day explaining the parking regulations, which appear to change every day. The nature of the explanation was an attempt to reassure us that it is still possible to drive a car and go about your normal business in Park City. But the message was so confusing that the take-away was that now is a good time to crawl into your survival bunker and hide out for the duration.

This year, the Sutherland Institute, an ultraconservative group out of Salt Lake, has denounced Sundance as being inconsistent with Utah values. It is objecting to the state giving grants of tax money (I think the figure was $300,000) to facilitate an event that shows movies that are edgier than "Old Yeller," and perhaps a bare breast. I personally think Sundance has outgrown Park City's capacity to put it on. But anything that upsets the Sutherland Institute is probably a good idea.

But like it or not, Sundance is here. Put on your best black clothes and smoke 'em if you've got 'em.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.