A while back ago (April-ish), I thought it would be interesting to start a blog to document the randomness in my life, but I didn't really have much to write about. Now, I've got a lot of random projects and going-ons that I really want to talk about and record so that I can go back later on and see what I've done and accomplished. Well, I guess it will also be useful for my friends to read since I tend to have lots of random adventures in all sorts of places. And my mom can read it so she doesn't have to get onto me about not knowing what I've been up to. This won't be a consistent day to day type of journal, I'm much to busy/lazy for that, but it will allow me to reflect on whatever I feel like reflecting on.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Road Trip Day 2 (5/21/09)

As Tom worked to reload the car and I packed up our belongings in the hotel room, I decided to step outside. The above picture is my first sight of the mountains. It was quite an “ah-ha” moment, realizing that the trip was really happening and many more first-sightings were to come. Once we were loaded up and had snuck out of the hotel with a couple of chocolate muffins, we discovered that responding “yes” to every question at a gas pump is a bad idea (and may result in paying for a unwanted car-wash). After Jeep was nice and clean we were headed up to Pike’s Peak only to get “him” muddy. The day had begun at 8:40am (MT).

Unfortunately there were snowy conditions, which Tom was sure Jeep could overcome, and we could only go up to the 16th of 19 miles on Pike’s Peak. At the end of our climb, it was starting to snow heavily and we realized just before getting out of Jeep that the temperature had gone from 67 degrees at the base to a chilly 33 degrees just shy of the peak.

Someday, we’ll get back there to complete the journey. As we made our way back down, we took some time to appreciate Crystal Lake Reservoir by making our first commitment as tourists to fuel the cash flow of the gift shop.

On the way to Independence Pass, where the Continental Divide is, we got out to stretch on the side of the road and took the opportunity to make our own Jeep advertisement. Just before the pass we found Twin Lakes and were impressed with the view. Since we didn’t have any pressing time constraints we took the opportunity to get out and stretch; after about 1000 miles in Jeep our legs needed to be used.

Then we headed to Independence Pass. Ignoring “Road Closed” signs along the way, just as we approached the beginning to the pass and were about to turn around, a nice fellow Missourian informed us that they were going to open the pass for the season at 2pm. Luckily, we arrived at 1:55pm, so we didn’t have to wait long. The roads through the pass were ever winding, increasingly narrow and, at times, were crumbling at the edges. As our ears continued to “pop” from the changes in the elevation, we became more daring in sticking the camera out the window of our moving vehicle to take in the view. On the way up we were following the Colorado River and hugging it’s every curve. Going through the pass, we encountered snow banks that were slowly melting away.

“Phew.” Finally, at 7pm (MT) we crossed the Utah state line. We were sad to see Colorado go, but knew that Utah would still provide much better scenery than could be said for Kansas. Driving for about half an hour, we stopped at the first rest area for a much needed pit stop and stretching of the legs. Fortunately for me (Tom) there were plenty of rocks to climb, much like a natural “big boy’s” play ground. The entire day, we had been driving in and out of rain, but it was well worth it when we looked to the south and saw not one but two rainbows. Unfortunately only one of them showed up in the pictures we took, and if you look close enough in the picture of Tom, you’ll see a rainbow close to the left edge of the picture.

We stretched for another half an hour and then began the trek to Kanab, UT, hoping to get there before the wee hours of the morning. As we drove off into the sunset, we began to feel the effects of being in a small confined space for long periods of time. Enjoying some classic snacks, Tom began to contemplate the amount of pain a Teddy Graham may or may not feel as eaten limb by limb. Furthermore, a pen sitting in the storage area in front of the passenger side was determined to be a lethal combination, when encountering a person in an abruptly stopping vehicle. Yes, we’re serious. Even though the chances of the pen piercing a vital organ, let alone human skin, Tom firmly insisted on moving it to a safer location.

As the day came to a close, we were able to enjoy the sunset over the red cliffs of Utah; a pleasant (and awakening) sight for tired eyes. Finally, at 1am (MT) we pulled off at a gas station with a trucker parking lot in Kanab, UT, and proceeded to convert Jeep from a luggage carrier to a somewhat uncomfortable bed. This ended Day 2. Day 3’s agenda was to include the Grand Canyon and Death Valley by sunset.

Road Trip Day 1 (5/20/09)

Yes, I know that this isn't being posted directly as the trip happens. It's more work than we realized and usually the last thing we want to do after a long day is update the blog. Also, the fact that we didn't have internet for the most part of the first half doesn't help. At any rate, here's the first post, others will follow. Eventually, the whole trip will be documented.

The twelve hour journey to Colorado Springs from Monett started at 10 am. The only thing we had to look forward to was crossing the end of Kansas. About an hour later, we crossed the Missouri-Kansas line, and decided to stop and take a picture…of the beginning.

By 2 pm we had reached Wichita where we only stopped long enough to eat lunch; we’ll be spending plenty of time here this summer. Unfortunately there’s not much to write about Kansas, unless you would find watching the wind farms & oil wells as you drive by the least bit entertaining. Luckily about halfway between Wichita & Hays, we found a slight bit of humor in the form of a simple street sign. Crawford Street was exit 92 and gave us a good chuckle. Derek Crawford, one of the TJ senior staff members is apparently important enough to have a street named after him in Kansas. If you don’t know Derek, well, he is almost always looking for some form of recognition. Well, Derek, we found it…in the middle of nowhere.

After we had laughed way too much about Crawford street, our next stop was in Hays. Entering Hays, we’re almost certain that we passed one of the tallest structures in Kansas; the water tower. Much like Wichita, we only stopped long enough to get gas and scrape a wide variety of six-legged creatures off of the windshield and grill of Jeep (note: “Jeep” is capitalized, because Tom refers to it or “him” as a pet).

Sometime after departing Hays, we encountered a suicidal Hawk who abruptly decided to stop munching on his fine road kill and fly into our path. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, we know. At 75 mph, however, this could have caused major damaged and resulted in Janelle having a heart attack. Luckily, at the last minute the hawk decided that death is a terminal choice and veered up and over Jeep. Yes, folks, that was the highlight of Kansas – a true once in a lifetime experience.

Finally, and to our greatest relief, at 7:21 Central, 6:21 Mountain time we crossed the Colorado State Line. As you can see in the picture below, we’re pretty darn excited to be out of Kansas. Plus, the Colorado sign looks pretty cool and the legal speed limit was 75 mph.

We stopped in Burlington, CO, briefly to grab a bite to eat, fill Jeep’s belly, and scrape off even more unwanted friends that we had picked up along the way. Tom might pick up window washing as a side job since he’s gotten so good at getting the windows squeaky clean.

As we continued into Colorado, the sun was setting and we were approaching a storm front. Thanks to the storms, Tom was not blinded by the sun and we were able to safely arrive in Colorado Springs at 11 pm (CT). We were both worn out by the drive and very thankful to be able to spend the night in a hotel, fully aware that we would not be so fortunate the next night…yes, night 2 would be spent sleeping in Jeep.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Final Pyro Shoot

If you don't know, I've been taking a Commercial Pyrotechnics course at school. Soon I'll be able to put on shows like towns typically do for the 4th of July. I'm also going to become an employee at the company where the class has been held so that I can continue to be active in the business and keep getting experience.

So we had the final shoot for my commercial pyrotechnics class this past weekend. Thankfully, someone brought a camera and posted it to YouTube. The song is "Independence Day" by Bob Rivers, and we choreographed the show to fit the music. Watch for the low break at the end. It was a shell from a 4-inch cake. The company, Premier Pyrotechnics, had some defective cakes that had the tendency to break apart after the first few shells went off, and one just happened to come near us. Good thing I had my hard hat on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mmmmm....plastic airplane

Okay, so this really cool guy that Boeing and Spirit trust got to take some cool pictures of the Boeing 787, one of the first commercial airplanes to use huge quantities of composite material. So this outsider got to take pictures, but I’m not allowed. That’s why I took the pictures from his website and am sharing them with you so I can show you what I’ve been doing this summer. I’m not taking credit, it belongs to Jon Ostrower. You can visit his site at http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/flightblogger/ and read some of his other posts.

Spirit doesn’t make the whole plane, only about the first 41 feet of it. It’s essentially a giant plastic shell with stuff on the inside. Don’t let that scare you though, a lot of time has been put into the design of this thing. I’ve been working on the structural repair manual (read: how the flight mechanics fix broken airplane parts) where I basically check calculations and rerun any analysis that needs to be corrected. I’ve worked on parts like the cockpit window frames, composite skin repairs and the forward pressure bulkhead. This first picture shows line units 4 through 7, of which LU 4 is the closest to completion and is being sent out soon. LU 4 is the one closest to the camera. I worked on a package that included determining repair tolerances for the window frames of the cockpit. It was my first project. Not bad for a new hire.

Next is a piece of the aircraft that is close to me. It’s the forward pressure bulkhead, the green dome behind the radar antennae. It is part of what holds pressure in the cabin. Usually, this part is just a flat plate, but it’s domed in the 787. It can catch a 4 lb bird traveling at 350 knots. The video of the bird strike test is pretty cool. The bulkhead catches the bird just like a catcher would catch a baseball. I put in a lot of hours making sure the repair tolerances for this part were good.
The next picture is of the passenger deck. You can’t really see it, but the passenger entry doors are wide enough to fit two people side by side in them. If you’ve ever been on a plane, you know how impressive that is since most planes have you squeeze through a small door. You can see into the cockpit a little bit, but if you want to see more cockpit pictures, go here: http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/flightblogger/2008/06/fours-front-office.html . Spirit doesn’t put the seats or other aesthetics in, Boeing will do that.

This picture is of the cargo area. You can see another part that I worked on, the cargo shear web. It’s mostly covered, but the drill on the bottom right is sitting on it. It’s a piece of composite that sits below the cargo floor. That’s the project I put 45 hours in on last week. I had to determine what kind of bonded repairs (read: how to fix composite material by applying more composite material) needed to be done for various types of damage.

This last one is just because. It’s of the flight recorder, the thing that tells them what happened when the airplane crashed. Hopefully we won’t be using these. You can also see how much random wiring is all over the place. A lot gets stuffed into these airplanes.

Well, that just a little bit of what I’ve been working on here at Spirit. I’ve been having fun doing it, despite the long hours. I could go into more detail, but then I wouldn’t have any conversation starter. Also, I probably shouldn’t talk in too much detail, or else Boeing might send people to get rid of me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

HDTVs and Thunderstorms

Wow, so this has been quite an evening. After coming home from a nine hour workday, I decide I need to go to the almighty Walmart to get some food and other random items. Mike decides to go looking for a joystick for his recently acquired (legally) copy of X-plane. While he was looking for it, I found the HDTVs like I always do. I'm kind of looking for one, and if I saw one for a good deal, I'd consider getting it. Well, Walmart was selling a bunch of display models, and I was focused on the Philips 42" LCD 1080p tv that was selling for $750 or something like that. After thinking it over for a few minutes, I decide to hold off and we proceed to finish our Walmart run.

After ordering pizza and watching some Battlestar Galactica and Futurama, I decided I wanted to go back to Walmart and think about that tv again. A new tv would look good in our apartment, so Mike and I headed back to Walmart. Unfortunately, it had started raining pretty good, but that didn't stop us. As we drove down the four lane turned three lane road (1.5 lanes per direction because water doesn't drain in Kansas), we noticed some cars turning around and some standing water ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE ROAD. It wasn't moving, just standing water. We hold up a minute, watch some trucks go through it, and I'm really considering trudging through the water just because I do things like that. Well, we finally see a Toyota Camery slowly work its way through the approximately 8 inch deep water, and I think "If they have the balls to do it, I do to." So we take to the water crossing, making our way through the water, hoping that we won't have to push the car out of the water. My car starts to sputter. I realized water was getting into the intake. So I pushed my car a little harder, and we finally made it out. High fives were given to honor our victory over nature. Then at the traffic light, I realized my brakes weren't working as well as they should. Oops, got a little too wet, but oh well. Hooray for doing slightly stupid things. I'm still glad I didn't have to make the walk of shame, pushing my car out of the water.

At Walmart once again, I checked under the hood just to make sure I didn't destroy anything. No major damage, so we proceeded back to electronics. After several minutes of staring at tvs, I decided I didn't want to risk buying a show model, no matter how cheap it was. So getting an HDTV will have to wait a while longer. I may not have a new tv, but we had a great time almost killing my car. As much abuse as it has been through, I'm glad it's still running as well as it does, especially considering it's a 16 year old car.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Morning of terribleness

Okay, so I should have known that seeing a spider on the ceiling of the bathroom on Thursday night was a bad omen. So Friday morning comes around, I wake up to get ready for a boring day of orientation at Spirit. As I walk to the bathroom, I see Mike cleaning up the remains of something on the carpet. He informs he that he has killed a brown recluse that was on his wall above his bed this morning. He was pretty freaked out about this, as anyone would be to have a spider above their head when they wake up, especially since ITS BITE ROTS YOUR FLESH OFF! Anyway, I proceed to go about my usual morning routine: shower, clothes, shave, brushing of the teeth. Except something weird happened in the middle of brushing my teeth. Suddenly, the bathroom sounded like Niagra Falls and steam was coming from the cabinet and faucet. I open the cabinet to realize A PIPE BURST AND IS TRYING TO FLOOD OUR APARTMENT! This is the last thing we need, as we are trying to leave for work. However, some things take priority over work, like making sure your house doesn't become a swimming pool. So we call the emergency maintenance line and leave a message. Some emergency maintenance line. So then we try the office. Doesn't open till nine, and it's 7:30. Thankfully, the maintenance guy calls back and tells us how to turn the water off, which we do despite the fact that Mike has figured out the cause (a broken fitting) and has stopped the leaking. So the guy says he'll be there in half an hour to fix the broken fitting and clean up the water. Already exhausted from the morning we head off to be bored to death with orientation...I'll spare you those details. I hope Mike's luck is better this weekend for his trip back home.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In Wichita at last

So it's day two in Wichita. I moved up here yesterday and got interwebs today. It's not that I need internet to survive, but considering Mike and I aren't paying for cable or phone service, internet is all we have. And it's good internet too, a whopping 12 megs, fastest we could buy. I'm still not done unpacking all my crap, just a few more boxes left though. Once things are less messy and more organized I'll post pictures and video of our place. For the first time ever I've been able to play Wii games online, and it's freakin' amazing. I'm quickly moving up the MarioKart bracket, but for some reason Brawl wasn't working for me. It is a little weird living in my own place for the first time ever. I've always lived in the Res Halls or at home. Well, time to waste time doing stuff other than unpacking.