Monday, December 21, 2009


Remember that 8hr test I had to take a few months ago? Well, I found out today that I passed -- YAHOO!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mommy's Little Helper

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Canada Sneezing Rules

Thanks to Nathan, we have yet another great video!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Becky's Brilliant Breakdown

I always say it's great to have friends -- at dinner a few nights ago, I whacked the back of Beck's chair at dinner the other night and she said, "Ouch." I put on my falsely-accused whiny voice and complained, "I whacked your chair, not you." She replied by saying, "Kinetic energy."

Man, is that a great way to sum it up or what? With that one phrase, Becky provided more than several paragraphs of explanation, discussing every aspect of the chair rungs striking her back, from impulse to the physical relationships between velocity and pain. Talk about brilliant! (Though, I still say my hand would have been hurt worse than her back :-)

Thanks, Beck -- I was still thinking about that as I was going to sleep last night :-)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Hehe... Nicole and I exchanged "lame" jokes and she gave me one I haven't heard before: (I only seem to get "lame" jokes.)

There was a man from Spain.
He came to America, but didn't know any English. So he turned on the T.V...

The first thing that he heard, was a McDonald commercial, and he learned I'm lovin it. Next he turned on a silverware commercial, and learned Forks and Knives, Forks and Knives. Then he turned on a candy commercial, and learned Goody goody gumdrops, Goody goody gumdrops. Then he turned on another commercial, and learned Plug it in, plug it in.

He went out into the street, feeling very happy, and met a police man. "Hi", said the man, the police man says, " Do you know anything about the murder that has happened here?", the man says, "I'm lovin it." Then the police man said, " What did you kill him with?" The man says, "forks and knives, forks and knives,". The police man said, "You're going to jail buddy". The man says, "Goody goody gumdrops, goody goody gumdrops". The police man said, "Alright, wise man, your going to the electric chair." The man said, "Plug it in plug it in... Goodbye," and walked away.

Cats are so dramatic!

Somehow, that looks too real to be Photoshoped...


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Store Wars

(Thanks to Nathan for this one!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Robot Tour

I'm about to take apart the May Day robot and build something that's hopefully better, so my brothers made a little demo video since most of you haven't seen it:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why is Gore Disturbing?

Dunno. My brain drained about a year ago. Before I begin, though, let me warn you to take what I say with a grain of salt -- I don't have anything figured out.

I've seen a lot of gore -- real and very disturbing gore. (Thanks, safety training!) Consequently, it doesn't bother me anymore. How come?

If you see someone get a fingernail ripped out it's very disturbing, and the first reaction is imagining what it would feel like to have your own fingernail ripped out. For the next few minutes, you'll probably stand their gripping a finger in your fist in an effort to avoid the same calamity. After that, a lot of people tend to feel very badly for that person. Not me. I say, "HAHA! Too bad for you!" (Ok, not really :-)

As another example, think of a disfigured person. Your first natural reaction is to recoil -- all because they don't look like you do. Your reaction is solely based on the fact that they don't look like you; as with the fingernail, you're using yourself as the point of reference.

So, why don't gory pictures disturb me anymore? I think it's because, with practice, I can look at an injury in a somewhat non-self-referential way -- as long as I can keep from associating gore or dismemberment with my own self, it doesn't bother me. This is something people who work in the medical field have to overcome very quickly.

A good illustration is a car accident involving a serious injury. Most people either leave or stand around the victim in shock, not knowing what to do. Others get weak and faint. Those who are able to keep themselves from comparing the blood and gore with their own bodies are the ones who save lives; those who don't use themselves as the point of reference while observing the victim are the ones who have the presence of mind to make a difference.

Now for a little analogy...

Throughout our daily lives, we judge. "Oh, this is good." "This is bad." "I'm cold and that isn't good." "I'll order from this company because I liked their website."

And when it comes to people, we cannot help but judge -- this happens all the time. When you first meet someone, you immediately form an opinion about them. Using your own mind and self as the point of reference, our opinions tend to be formed by how they compare to us. Do they conform to our self-imposed moral standards? Do they dress how we dress? Do they listen to the same music we do? Do they home school? Do they go to movie theaters? Do they have sound doctrine? or, God forbid, do they drink? Too often we use these self-referential judgements to form our opinion of our fellow brothers in Christ.

Isn't this part what Christ warned about in the Sermon on the Mount? Is it so much that He's calling us to avoid the sin of judgementalism, or is the point natural-mindedness, using our own flawed judgement?

I'll steal something from Pastor Culver's notes on the subject and can be downloaded here:
"And yet, multitudes miss the crucial connection between human estrangement and the
practice of judging – a very likely outcome if this passage isn’t interpreted within the overall context. Jesus was addressing earthly-mindedness as the foundational barrier to the kingdom of heaven, and all human judgment reflects and proceeds out of this human condition. It isn’t judging as such that Jesus confronted, but neither is it merely a faultfinding, judgmental spirit. Perhaps most Christians confine Jesus’ concern in this passage to the sin of judgmentalism, and this was certainly His point of departure. But when this passage is viewed through the lens of the wider context, one discovers that Jesus was speaking ultimately to the entire psychology and operation of human judgment, positive as much as negative. He was here treating the problem of judging in the broadest sense – that is, as a natural, spontaneous, and even unconscious function of the fallen, earthly mind, rather than only in the narrow sense of a judgmental spirit. The Lord’s overarching concern was the human condition that destroys people’s capacity to judge rightly, only one expression of which is judgmentalism. ... Again, the problem isn’t human beings making judgments; this is an essential and glorious feature of bearing the divine image and likeness. Man cannot fulfill hiscreated identity without judging, the greatest proof of this being the example ofJesus Christ, the consummate Man. In every circumstance and with regard to every person, Jesus made judgments. But His judgments were distinguished bythe fact that they proceeded out of a mind in perfect harmony with His Father’s; Jesus judged all things, but always and only with “righteous judgment.”

(I was going to go into much more detail and talk for a while, but I doubt anyone will make it to here, so I'll keep it short and throw out a bunch of disconnected sentences. :-)

It is our obligation to live by the law of love. Judging our fellow Christians in natural-mindedness, and in one aspect, using ourselves as the point of reference, divides the body of Christ whereas judging with the mind of Christ builds the body.

Judging our righteousness or "right-ness with God" on our own works is the broad way -- to steal a phrase yet again, the biggest stumbling block to Christians is often their own righteousness. This is the way that leads to destruction. Judging with ourselves as the point of reference -- what a great way to keep our focus on our own works and live estranged from God and ourselves! What a great way to focus on our works -- what we do to be "right with God" and get what we want, whether it be fulfillment through estrangement, temporal wealth, happiness, or an easy life. Satan loves highly moral and religious people who live with the natural mind as he loves the Atheist -- in the end, they both live by the same mind and he's accomplished the same goal.

Natural man is incapable of rightly judging. We, as members of the body, have the mind of Christ -- we can rightly judge. How often do we live with the mind of Christ and rightly judge, though? I know I don't!

To get back to my weak analogy, those who keep from using themselves as the point of reference when seeing an injured person are the ones who save lives; those who don't live by natural mindedness but rather with the mind of Christ bear the fragrance of Christ -- fulfilled creatures living into their true identity as image sons.

It's only in Christ where we can find our true humanness. Seek fulfillment and you won't find it. Seek Christ and you'll find fulfillment. Seek happiness and you won't find it. Seek Christ and you'll find happiness. Seek peace and you won't find it. Seek Christ and you'll find peace. Christ is the answer and the point where we find our true humanness as God's image-bearers.

And if you made it through that jumbled mess and want to read more, not to mention much better writing with a much greater understanding, check this out:

Sport a Strong Stomach?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Funny Bird

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Post Dinner

Upon arriving at our hotel after a rather hot day of work, the representative from the "local" area office and I agreed on a time at which to meet for dinner. Meeting in the hotel parking lot, we proceeded to Los Banos for a spot of dinner. (And, yes, Los Banos, in common Spanish, means, "The Bathrooms.")

It's funny how you ask and get asked the same questions when spending time with a stranger...
"So... Do you have a girlfriend?"
"Hehe... nope."
"How on earth did you get through college without getting a girlfriend?"
"I was in the engineering program."
"Yeah, there was only one guy in our class who had a girlfriend -- sweethearts from high school. They got married right after they graduated."
"Boy, I hope their marriage lasts -- statistically, they don't have a very good chance."

Spoken like a true engineer -- objectify, add statistics, and analyze :-)

Since then, he's been pointing out "cute girls" to me.

"Oh, the front-desk lady is kinda cute."
"She's married." (Ok, I didn't actually say that :-) "Hehehe. Um... yeah."
"Maybe there're some cute chicks at the pool."

The restaurant was pretty good -- not nearly spicy enough for the area office guy. He said his quote used to be, "You can't make hot sauce hot enough" until he found Habanero oil. Costing about $40/oz and being much hotter than Cinnamon oil, the vile substance might possibly kill.

The restaurant was a "white man's Mexican restaurant." The music reminded me of something Eddie Fisher might sing -- Spanish songs written in English. The interior architecture was quite odd -- I've don't believe I've ever seen Edo Japanese architecture with Spanish archades. Large picture windows looked out into elaborate Californian gardens. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

I was parched, so I drank and drank... and drank... after about the 5th refill, I realized I wasn't going to be finishing dinner due to the large volumes of liquid sloshing around in my stomach. Shortly thereafter, I pronounced my dinner "finished" as I sadly stared at $7 of rejected hard earned per-Diem. (money provided for eating on trips) OK, so it wasn't a funeral or anything, I was just starting to feel rather gross, so I was glad to not have to think about the taste of shredded beef Chimichanga anymore. Good thing I didn't add a salad to the meal -- I would have been content with a salad and a few pitchers of Pepsi... OK, water would have been OK, but pop? Yeah, man!

Whelp, I must go perform CPR on my readers, so hang in there! (Man, do you know how much of a workout CPR is? I hate doing it on our practice dummies at work...)

One and two and three and four and five and six and seven and eight and nine and ten and eleven and twelve and thirteen and fourteen and fifteen and sixteen and seventeen and eighteen and nineteen OK, CLASS, YOUR MANIKIN JUST THREW UP! *rolls manikin on side and cleans out mouth* twenty and twenty one, twenty two, twenty three, twenty four, twenty five, twenty six, twenty seven, twenty eight, twenty nine, thirty... breath, 2, 3, and another breath into the mouth of the manikin that just threw up. OK, CLASS! THE BREATH DID NOT GO IN! *fishes object out manikin's mouth* Yet another breath into the latex airway. THE BREATH WENT IN! CONTINUE CPR! one and two and three, OK, CLASS, THE CARTILAGE HOLDING THE STERNUM IN PLACE HAS BROKEN FREE AND THE STERNUM IS FLOATING AROUND. WHAT DO YOU DO? Continue CPR. and four and five and six and OK, CLASS, AN AED HAS ARRIVED. PARTNERS, ATTACH THE PADS! "ANALYZING! EVERYONE STAND CLEAR!" "SHOCK ADVISED! EVERYONE STAND CLEAR!" "DELIVERING SHOCK NOW!" The manikin is not responding. Continue CPR for another ten minutes... Yes, it can be rather entertaining as people get sick of practicing and start pleading with their manikins to hang in there and sobbing because it doesn't respond.

People seem to get the idea that CPR is some romantic thing a guy could do to save a girl's life, gaining the everlasting gratitude of said girl, but frankly, CPR is not something you'd wish on your worst enemy. I sure hope I never have to do CPR on a real person.

10 Minute Post

I'll be going to dinner soon, so I figured I'd babble since there appears to be a sign of life from a viewer.

It was a nice day -- only in the low 100s with no clouds. There were lots and lots and lots of wasps and mosquitoes to complete the serene environment. It's a wonder I didn't get stung. Oh, I got eaten alive by mosquito's, but that was OK. Having overweight beaks you could feel 'em, so you could squash 'em right as they took their first sip of the red tastiness.

The wasps seemed to have found homes in the pumps. It's a little scary turning on a large pump that's 10 feet away from you, knowing full well that a whole flock of angered wasps will come charging after you to carry you away in their beaks... Yeah, I make no sense :-) Actually, they seemed to be rather confused by their home being turned into a wind tunnel, so they weren't about to eat us.

We skipped lunch today. Good thing I went to a convenience store and bought snacks last night :-)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Elitches Turns Lakeside

Sounds like the headlines on National Enquire, though I'll have to admit it isn't as exciting as "Pit Bull Eats Motor Home."

Elitches is in a sad state. It appears they sold way too many season passes this year -- it's very rare to see someone enter with an actual ticket, and... well... when their rides break, they just kind of sit there... the place is starting to look like Lakeside. One difference -- at least Lakeside has a new coat of paint every once in a while. Eltiches? They didn't even bother to power wash this year. For me, Elitches peaked last year.

Now, on the other hand, I brought my brothers to Lakeside a few weeks ago and WOW! They're really been fixing up the place. Like seriously. We're not just talking about yet another coat of paint. We're talking rides being completely restored, motors being replaced, ALL the neon lights on rides they've restored replaced and working... There was something else I saw that really surprised me -- you know those three pigs on the pole at the Star Ride? There's new high-voltage direct-bury cable installed! (There are three transformers on a telephone pole next to the star ride that have some new, rather expensive power cables going to them.)

Not only that, when I brought my brothers, there were no parking places left in the main lot and people were parking all over the place behind the temporary rides... I got one of the last places in the park!

The only thing I wasn't too keen on was the fact they shimmed the Sattellite tower -- I guess they decided that even though the ride was designed to lurch around, it gave the impression that the ride was ready to break. They also replaced the air hoses -- I bounced at the resonant frequency of one of the arms and the air hose didn't burst, so I guess it's good! (It's kind of an under-damped system.)

And, lastly, the operators at Lakeside are definitely a much higher class than the guys at Elitches. I think it has something to do with actually giving the operators responsibility... Eltiches "safeness" has somewhat backfired. The operators are board out of their heads and oblivious to anything that goes on -- it took a whole two seasons for an operator to finally yell at me for crawling around on the frame of the Thunderbolt while it was in operation -- ok, ok... for using the resonant frequency of the hills to get my car to swing out past horizontal, putting sheer stress on the adjustment mechanism and high energy impulses on the shock absorbers. (BTW, if you want to be completely exhausted and battered in 2 minutes, that's the way to do it -- It's like a power workout times ten.)

Ok, ok... I'm using technical terms to make it sound like I was really putting the rides through their paces... It wasn't nearly as abusive as I make it sound.

I don't know what happened, but Lakeside is shaping up and Elitches seems to be going down the path that landed Lakeside in its pit.

Greetings from the Land of Nuts

I'm back in the lovely little truck stop of Santa Nella once again -- This time, I'm by myself... It's the first work-related trip I've taken by myself outside of Colorado, so it's quite the experience. I had to rent a car for the first time in my life. Yeah, yeah... Hey, there's always a first time, right? :-) I have a Nissan Altima. It's interesting -- a car without a key... well, a mechanical key, that is. When you get in, you put your foot on the break and press the "Start" button. I'm not sure what to think about it. While it's a "cool feature," it further distances the average Joe from an understanding of mechanical systems. True, the average Joe probably couldn't care less, but still... I assume people kind of get a vague idea on how things work after years and years of using something. Guess this generation will only be stimulated by Dopamine.

Time for a short break!

I flew into Fresno, CA this morning/afternoon. The plane was so small I couldn't stand straight in the middle isle without bashing my noggin to shreds -- probably the smallest plane I've been on. (I haven't flown much, as I'm sure you can tell.) Man, I'm really starting to hibernate on planes. I slept next to a mom and her two squirrels, and it didn't bug me in the least -- I slept right through it. As a side note, I'm really not impressed with the new "correct" methods for disciplining your kids. Somehow, asking your two-year-old to sit in their seat for takeoff and reasoning with them while they're in the throws of a temper tantrum just doesn't seem to work. :-) Thank you, child psychology! (BTW, if you ever get the chance, take a psychology class -- it's very interesting and reveals the logical progression that leads to things like today's child-raising tactics. Yes, it's very logical, but it's based on a set of logical fallacies...)

Anyway, I don't know what I'm going to do till bed. I've been studying, but I'm tired of that. I already ate dinner at Carl's Jr... Maybe I'll... OOOH! I'll start rewriting the bridge contest software. Time to learn SQL Server... Huh, I bet I don't have it installed. Well, anyway... LOL! The outlet on the lamp on the desk for a laptop in the hotel room is labeled, "120V, 60Hz, 11Amps Max, Combined." Who on earth is going to sit here and calculate the current draw of their device before plugging it in? And 60Hz? I'd hope so! It ain't the U.K.!

Friday, August 28, 2009

1948 in present form -- one of the most disturbing videos I've seen

Ok, so she did a really good job, but I can't watch more than 15 seconds without feeling like saying, "GET AWAY FROM ME!" I think I almost prefer the version I've heard about 15 times at Elitches -- Love's gunna get you down.

I ran across this video while looking for the disturbing song on Dell's automated phone welcome. Oh, yeah... Not only was I greeted by a disturbing rendition of the Chordettes' classic, I was faced with the rather embarrassing task of using Dell's voice-only automated phone menu. I was starting to hear snickers from the cubes next to mine when I was saying things like "something else" and "none of those" over and over. Man. I hate Dell. No offence if you're a pro-Dell, but in my experience at work, "Dells" are overpriced pieces of junk. Maybe it's just the government contract we have, but they cost way more than they should and drop like flies in our office.


Ok, so I'm not doing things like Abb, practicing my Spanish on people in the E.R. I work in, but I am going on my first two work trips by myself...

Next week, I go to Santa Nella, CA! YAHOO! Maybe I can even visit Anderson's Split Pea Soup again... That land-o-bland restaurant makes you keep coming back, begging for more blandness :-)

A week or two after that, I get to go to Glen Canyon dam to do my first solo battery test. I hope that goes well because a battery test has the potential to trip the entire plant offline -- one of your worst nightmares.

A week or two after that, I'm going to Elephant Butte, NM to do some relay testing -- I've never done one of those before, so we'll see what it's like.

Sparkys show signs of insanity

(Click to enlarge)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Lollipop!

Yeeeeikes! Try calling this toll-free number:


I thought to myself, "Oh, no!" when I called this number at work today... I didn't think I'd dialed the right place :-)

For those of you who are too scared to use the phone (aka me a couple years ago), you can hear the scary maddness here:

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I got this from some people who "took me in" at the church I attended while staying in Las Vegas:

Let me get this straight ---

Obama's Health Care Plan will be written by a committee whose head says he doesn't understand it, passed by a congress that hasn't read it (and whose members will be exempt from it), signed by a president who smokes, funded by a treasury chief who did not pay his taxes, overseen by a surgeon general who is obese and financed by a country that is broke.

What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yeah, robot!

The robot I used for May Day contains most of the parts needed to make one of these:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fifty Years of Math 1959-2009 (in the USA )

Here's a joke I got in my email:

Last week I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters , but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried.

1. Teaching Math In 1950s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit ?

2. Teaching Math In 1960s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

3. Teaching Math In 1970s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

4. Teaching Math In 1980s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5. Teaching Math In 1990s
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying, it's ok.)

6. Teaching Math In 2009
Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?


Friday, August 7, 2009


I made an interesting discovery the other day... Guinea pigs aren't miniature pigs that run around in a cage... They look like ugly rabbits.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kid Calamity

(In case you haven't figured it out yet, I've always admired alliteration.)

There was this one time in Sunday school... Poor teacher. 3rd grade all-boy class? Yikes! Us, being boys and all, we goofed around a lot. Whether we were "sitting" upside-down in our chairs, pulling chairs out from under other people, or devising an even more cleaver and imaginative way to be wild, we had a ball. There were no girls present to impress and despise, no inferior beings to which to flaunt an incredible show of superiority while those of the inferior race looked on in disgust. There were no distractions to prevent us from focusing our full and utmost attention on the task at hand -- being wild. There was this one time a guy PERFECTLY pulled a chair out from under me while I was sitting down. SPLAT! It was a perfect riot! Anyway, the teacher arranged the chairs in a semi-circle around him while he taught. When someone stuck out of the mayhem as being excessively bad, our teacher would scoot the bad boy's chair back 5ft or so, and thus the criminal, the committee misdemeanors, was excluded from the circle of wild savages, all the while, being showered with gestures of shame and mortified that he, a perfect angle, was accused of committing a crime, so heinous in magnitude, as to demanded such an act of retribution.

I usually wasn't bad... well, comparatively, that is. This one time, though, I was rather wild and got scooted back. To make it worse, I said, "Thanks for the ride!" When the roar of laughter subsided, the teacher responded with the imperative command that filled every heart with dread, "See me after class." Needless to say by the end of class, I wished I hadn't been bad that week.


Now... Tell me what it is and who makes the "technology" it uses and I'll be impressed. (I do know the answer, so leave a comment if you figure it out.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Dontcha just hate those childhood memories that still make you go, "erk"?

Yeah, well, there was this one time at church I went to the bathroom in a less-used, smaller bathroom. When I walked in, I saw that the stall door was closed, and this surprised me. I was sure there couldn't possibly be someone there, but I wasn't sure... so, against my better judgment, I looked under the partition. My gaze was met by a pair eyes staring right back at me... not only that, it was an adult I knew fairly well but was rather scared of. Needless to say, I high-tailed it out of there and was in morbid fear for years to come that the man on the toilet recognized me.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Saturday Madness

I went to a review class today... It was weird visiting ol' school for the first time in over a year. Quite depressing, actually. It brought back many recollections from my life a year or so ago. Anyway, I went to the first of many "review classes" today as I'm studying to take a dumb test that means absolutely nothing. At least a degree sorta means something. Becoming a "professional engineer" only means you studied for and took a test -- anyone could do that. Of course, the "professional" engineer's board tries to make it sound all heady and wonderful and this and that, but to me it only means the possibility of a higher pay ceiling. Ok, so it's worth something. Anyway, today, we reviewed Math... from 8am to 5:30pm. We started with the equation for a line, covered college algebra, trigonometry, Calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations... for a long, long, long time. I was rather dead by the time I crawled home to scratch outside the door. :-)

Ok, actually, it was pretty good. The teacher did an amazing job. I don't have a clue how you'd keep people actively engaged in math, of all subjects, for an entire work day, but she did it. Quite amazing. With someone like that, I might actually half-way enjoy math. (I despise math... and just because "I'm an engineer" doesn't mean I'm good at math. All it means is I'm a nerd.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It be Buildin'

See the picture?I was there when the arch was at the half-way point!
(And for you facebook person, you have to go to to see videos or pictures.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reno, NV

Ok, so it wasn't the gambling capitol of the U.S., but it was definitely a mini-Vegas. Oh, how I've missed the colorful lights, the noisy environment, and half-drunk people! Yes, my week-long stay in the nicest casino in Reno was a much anticipated party. And, yes, I'm being sarcastic. :-)

I wasn't sure what to expect. All I knew was I was going to the O&M conference and giving a short presentation. The Operations and Management conference is held something like every 18 months and is hosted by either the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the Bureau of Reclamation. People from both sides give presentations, I believe, in an effort to share hydropower knowledge between agencies.

[Mark, my brother, just came in to show me what was in the "rancid tea." I take it he didn't approve of "Apple-Cinnamon" :-)]

I decided to take the 6:20pm non-stop flight to Reno last Monday. That was a mistake. "Travel days" are usually fun because you get paid to fly or drive somewhere, but getting into the office at 6:40am made for a very long day. :-)

I was curious as to how the hotel would work out. The "Silver Legacy," to me, almost sounded like the "Bugs Bunny Hotel" on Colfax. After talking to some people on the plane, though, I figured it must be pretty nice as they all pretty much said the Silver Legacy was the nicest casino in Reno. I arrived around 9pm, Denver time, and checked in. It was really quite a nice place. After lugging my over-sized suit case to the 24th floor, I decided I must find some dinner. I wasn't in the mood for feeling dork-like and eating at a sit-down restaurant all by myself, so I took a tour of the three major casinos. Even though they're on separate city blocks, they're all connected indoors. After being lost for about an hour and finding one of my co-workers almost to the "I WUV YOU MAN" stage, I finally found that the food court was closed and the only place to eat was a Deli/Bakery. Discovering they had pizza, I decided I must partake of the scrumptious circular perfection, so I ordered two slices... One of those "by the slice" places. Inwardly groaning about spending $9.50 for two measly pieces of pizza and a Pepsi, I paid the cashier and went to go get the... hehe... pizza. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the two slices amounted to much more than I could eat... and not only that, it was good stuff! Not the rip-off variety Elitches would give you, charging you $10 for an extraordinarily low-quality "personal pizza," fresh from the freezer.

About that time, I realized I was quite desirous of sleep, so I headed out of the restaurant and had the familiar sound of slot machines meet my ears in an effort to lure me to the comfy seats, colorful displays, and free drinks. With a zombie-like saunter, I resisted the temptation with little hesitation and headed back up to my room and soon found myself waking to the sound of the alarm clock.

I headed over to the "ballroom" where our breakfast resided, and thus began may days of sitting... and sitting... and sitting... and doodling... and writing a requisition on my cool laptop with a solid-state hard drive... and sitting... It was like sitting through a Gothard seminar, only it went for 8hrs/day for three solid days! My presentation to about 150 high-ranking officials eventually got over, so that made me happy :-) er... yeah... whatever...

Now for the night-life!

The conference got over at about 5:15pm every day which left enough time for a great meal and... then... GAMBLING! I went to my room the first night in hopes of some free Internet... Yeah, right. "Wireless Internet" doesn't mean "Free" in a casino. I was pleased to find that you don't have to put quarters in the shower to get hot water, though. I wasn't willing to pay $50/week for the "basic service," so I decided to take a hike around the city. Downtown Reno is kind of shady. Within walking distance, it was all Colfax. Later, I ran into a group from my office who'd just come back from looking for a movie theater to no avail. They commented, "Hey, you know that guy who sits out there begging in the wheelchair out there? Well, he was up walking around." I saw him at the slots later that night :-)

After that, I decided that I'd be hanging around with my co-workers. Why, even the TV... Well... Let's see... There was the channel showing all the features of the casino, there was the Keno channel so you could gamble from your bed, the "How to play Keno" channel, the "How to play Blackjack" channel, the "How to play..." Ok, I think you get the idea.

Did I ever tell you how much I much I want to own a casino? :-)

The next night, there was no way I was going to go to bed early after sitting through hours of presentations, so I decided to watch my co-workers loose money. It's amazing what gambling does to people. People who'd have a hard time putting up $100 for a show in Vegas don't mind putting a couple hundred down for the gambling tables. Oh, and did you know that blowing on dice makes them magically know and conform to your wishes? I was amazed how superstitious some people can get when it comes to putting their money on the line...

If only I'd been there when they were base-jumping off the top of the Silver Legacy...

Here's kind of what it looks like inside:(hard to see and everything, but there's lots of lights and I like lights... but I still didn't enjoy it much.)

I think it was a good experience for me... what little interest I had in gambling is now completely gone. Do you have any clue how long it takes to finally dispose of $5 in a penny slot machine? Do you know how many $20 bills get sent down the slot at the Craps table or how many decks of cards get shuffled to use up $20 at the Blackjack tables?

Of course, most everyone from my office were engineers and approached gambling using the tools of statistics and mathematics to predict the future. And, true, for the most part, they came out ahead, a lot of them doubling their money... but in order to really do that effectively, you need to really understand the game, calculate odds before playing, and be able to make lightning calculations in your head. (By the way, if you want to get really good at addition, become a Blackjack dealer :-)

Oh, by the way, if someone offers you a little glass of ice-water with a lime in it and two little straws, don't drink it unless you mean to... It's not ice-water :-) Do you know how incredibly boring it is sitting around watching semi-loopy people with slurred speech gamble for hour after hour? WAY more exciting than going to bed!I was ready for the end of the week after the first night... Though I did like the 24-hour ice cream parlor... YEAH! ICE CREAM!

The meals? THEY WERE AWESOME! Casinos have great food! Where else can you get a 1/2lb burger for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Where else can you satisfy your ice cream cravings at any time of day? Oh, and, man... I had some GOOD root-beer at one of the restaurants.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A full day for Ben

It all started when I went Paragliding: (Picture comments tell the story.)


When I got back home and related my tales over and over, I called Steve up to see about a 4-wheeling trip.

He agreed we should go, so he came and picked me up to head into the hills. After grabbing lunch at Good Times (I got a #6), we drove to Idaho Springs to check out the trail off the end of Soda Creek Road. At first, Barbour Forks Trail looked just like any easy off-road trail, but I soon came to realize that I was glad I wasn't driving. We drove for quite some time through all sorts of scenic surroundings. We got fairly close to the top but decided we should probably head back considering the fact we were down to a 1/4 tank of gas. Just as we turned around, an "equipment failure" caused the engine to come to a halt. Ok, ok... turns out the gas gauge now reads 1/4 tank when it's empty :-) Bone dry, man. BONE DRY!

Just to make things more fun, memorable, and exciting, I pulled out my GPS to find we were about 12 miles from the nearest gas station, 10 of which were probably in national forest. About then, my GPS battery died as I'd left it on most of the day without charging it. No gas, not GPS, no cell phone reception, but I can almost guarantee you there was bound to be a Country radio station!

So, we started to walk... At the first high-point we came to, I checked my cell phone and found I had enough signal strength to make a few calls. After explaining our predicament, a friend of Steve's decided to bring us gas after work. It was about 3pm and he didn't get off till 5pm, so we started walking to the bottom.

Upon arriving at the first fork in the road, we exercised our sleuthing skills to determine which way was right to take. After studying tire tracks, bent blades of grass, and dropped wallets, we discovered a spider web stretched across the trail that led us to believe we needed to go the wrong way.

We walked... and walked... and walked... A lot of it was steeper downhill with loose rocks everywhere, so we got our exercise. Fortunately, all the trails merge at the trail head, so we didn't get lost.

As we approached the trail head, we came across a man and his wife who offered us a lift down the mountain. We said, "thanks but we have time to kill." After another ten minutes or so of walking, we began to think we'd taken them up on their generous offer. About that time, they came back and again offered us a ride, stating they hadn't come prepared for such a difficult trail. We piled in the back and headed off to town. The only payment they'd accept is, "do it for someone else sometime."

We walked to Safeway and bought one gallon of water, a two-liter bottle of Tonic water (must try to see if it's as nasty as club soda!), and a two-liter bottle of flavored sparkling water, containing no sugar of any kind.

We went out to pass the time and flopped over on the sidewalk in front of the store. I suspect we were quite the sight, sprawled out all over the sidewalk, drinking water out of gallon and 2-liter bottles. Steve decided his tonic water tasted like chewing on lemon peels, so he didn't like it too much. Me? My "flavored" sparking water without sugar tasted like it. I honestly don't know why people like sugarless drinks. If it's supposed to have flavor, make it taste and taste good! Tea was just an early failure at making pop!

About the time we were getting rehydrated, a bum came ambling over to us and asked, "Can I join you boys?" He settled down with us, offered us a puff on his cigarette, and then talked to us for quite a while. Interesting life story.

A little while later, a bum in training (BIT -- probably an 18-year-old bum) came by on a bicycle and asked if we'd seen Silas. The bum said, "Ah, leave the bike with me. I'll get it back to him." The bright, young bum then settled down next to us. Soon after, the "good time in my pocket" started getting passed around (Vodka), so with hardy "goodbye"s and "stay out of trouble"s, we left.

While walking to McDonald's, Steve's friend and his wife pulled up in their pickup, and we piled in the back. Like usual, I needed a bathroom break having mostly finished a 2-liter bottle of water. So, we stopped at Micky D. Feeling much relieved, I clamored back into the bed of the pickup and we drove to the trail head.

MAN! 4-wheeling just got WAY better. There's NOTHING like sitting in the bed of a pickup going over a rough 4-wheeling trail. I soon discovered that sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed without holding on is INCREDIBLY fun. Besides the occasional branch whacking you in the back of the head, it was most enjoyable. I felt like I was on one of those robotic bull thingys people try not to get bucked off of. I had bought a bag of Chili-cheese Fritos at Safeway, and Steve and I were successful in consuming them and our water while getting tossed around in box that closely resembled a simulator.

For once, I wasn't the one having to go to the bathroom all the time. I think we took four pit-stops, total, and I didn't really have to go at any of them. SWEET! (Then again, I didn't drink the gallon of water :-)

Once we arrived at the truck, we filled 'er up, and drove back home.

A blast was had by one and all and I'd do it again without blinking... er... batting an eye? WHACK! WHATEVER! I'd love to do it again.

Needless to say, I had a hard time remembering the morning by the time I went to bed :-)

I think I need to go to Elitches now for the 15th time this season (Down to almost $3/visit!) to work the lactic acid crystals out of my mussel tissue :-) Man, I wish I had kept track of my trips last year -- I went there a whole lot more last year.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rain Shower

This has got to be one of the not dumber things I've seen recently:

Video Variety

Hey, all!

My brothers decided to make a short video an afternoon before Timberdoodle's "video advertisement contest" deadline... The videos are selected by number of votes, so whoever has the most friends/relatives wins

SO! If you wish, go to and leave a comment. That's all you have to do to vote.

Thanks, guys!


P.S. I'm going paragliding tomorrow so this could be my last post.

Monday, July 13, 2009


We gather here today to mourn the sleep of
Although we are all shocked at its sudden unconsciousness, we will remember the happy times we had with it before it passed.And even while we wonder how many posts total it had and question why so few posts were added so soon before its abrupt slumber, we will be content knowing that it is now at peace with the pillow.

Sleep in peace, May you awake soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Basically, hot air balloons are impractical because F=g(p2-p1)V.

Just to verify, I almost melted a trash bag with hot air and it wouldn't float. That lazy air wouldn't even hold the silly bag up! That lazy air! BAD air! BAD air!

Yet another dumb may day plan RUINED!

Here's a hint: Next May Day, I probably won't be flying the cookies to your house with a remote-controlled hot air balloon.

Hey, at least I'm finally doing a little math before I build stuff that doesn't work!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Well... I finally did it!

No, I haven't gone paragliding yet, but I paid for a tandem flight... Looks like it will either be the 17th or the 31st.

Seen before

Bombastics Boredom

We have misters installed in our porch to make it more pleasant when we eat out there in the middle of the summer.

The problem is, in order to have an even coverage of mist, you need a lot of misters... which we have... but that means everything gets soaked in no time at all. After eating dinner a few nights ago in puddles of water, I decided we needed an automatic valve that turns the misters on for, say, 15 seconds and then turns them off for 30 seconds.

Since I didn't really have anything to do today, I decided to give it a go.

Here's a standard sprinkler valve that controls the misters:

...And here's the box that controls the valve:(I know, crooked labels... Man, Ben, you'd think you could get something right.)

Originally, I was going to make it smart enough to automatically vary the on/off time based on temperature, air movement, and humidity, but that was going to cost about $100, so I went with some dumb analog electronics. I haven't touched true analog for years, so it was... different. I love microcontrollers so much more. True I don't have a cool wireless remote with an LCD display, but it's functional and... well... it costs like $5 in parts :-)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Q: Why did the transformer hum?

A: Because it didn't know the words.

Haha... Yeah, I know... Lame.

I went to Flatiron yesterday and today to observe a core test. Basically, here's the deal... You remember how a simple motor works? You have a doughnut-shaped magnet and an electromagnet on a shaft goes in the doughnut hole? Yeah...

Anyway, if you look at the picture above, they pulled the generator apart because they were going to replace the "stator" in the diagram above. (So, the turbine, generator shaft, and rotor are missing in this generator right now.)

Here's a close-up of a stator:

Right now, there "Stator Coils" are removed so all that's left is the "Stator Core." Before they put the new stator coils in, they test the stator core to ensure the iron is "good," and that the stator core was assembled correctly. Here's a picture I found on the Internet from when they did a core test at Parker Dam:
Anyway, to test these things, they wrap some wire around it and run tons of juice through it, creating a HUGE electromagnet. The test we did today was powered by a semi-trailer-mounted generator... (The oil filters were about 1ft tall :-) During the test, we used our $30,000 camera to look at the stator to make sure it was ok.

It's really weird to stand in the middle of a coil like that... You're exposed to almost all the energy from a large diesel generator and yet it doesn't affect you. If you were to be exposed to it electrically, you'd be fried before you could say, "Agh!" Magnetic fields... weird. I heard you can't bring a mechanical watch in because it ruins them.

We ate lunch at the only local restaurant... I'm sick of eating lunch in old, beat-up bars. They're always run down, dirty-looking, dark, and weird, but they usually have good hamburgers... Whatever! I did pass up my chance to eat Rocky Mountain Oysters... The people I was with tried to get me to order them, but fortunately, someone else from our group told me what they were, so I didn't. I probably would have thrown up when I heard what they were :-)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Some of my Relatives

Music Mayhem

In case any of you are interested in what's going on right now... uh... I pretty much go to work, come home, and go to church.

Let's see here...
My computer is basically dead and probably will be for another six weeks. So if any of you wrote me email in the last few weeks, don't be offended if I didn't respond because I haven't had my computer much...

Uh, I had to do a safety lecture at work a couple weeks ago. Safety meetings are usually pretty dull, so I tried to add some humor. In one of my examples, I stated that a coffin was not a confined space because it is designed for continuous occupancy. (I know, sick. :-)

I found out that Abb played for the World Forum.

Last week, I decided work wasn't for me so I quit my job and am now living off of government subsidies... or that was how I felt after I was informed early Monday morning that I am flying out Reno to help give a presentation at a multi-agency convention on a topic I know very little about.

It was 68 degrees at our house last night on the 4th of July.

OH! My dreams have gotten very, very interesting in the past month or so. Guess my brain is trying to cope and has come up with some rather colour... oops. The circuit board making software at work is British... colorful dreams. For a few weeks, I was apparently chewing people out in my sleep. After that, I started chewing equipment out... Loud enough that I woke people up. One night, I had stuff messed up all over my room... Things from my desk were scattered on the floor, my sheets were all over the place, and all my lights were on :-) Things have settled down, though, and I'm just dreaming "normal" things like having to write a requisition at work to buy a flamingo because it wouldn't fit on my credit card limit, finding it's very easy to buy penguins, having computer games come alive, etc. I've basically been dreaming things every night, and they're rather amusing. I can't remember what I dreamed last night, but judging from the fact I was in a rather foul mood when I woke up, I'm guessing I was chewing something out :-) This is kinda cool, but I'm starting to get tired of my mood being a toy of my imagination, so I guess I'll go get it fixed... Plus, it would be nice to sleep soundly again :-)

Oh... I sorta cleaned out some of my drawers, but I guess I already said that...

We had a big family get-together yesterday. I'll have to post a picture of us all... MWAAAA, HAAAA, HAAA!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Electronics Humor

Dimension Engineering AnyVolt 3 Disclamer

It's easy to tell what you're thinking. "I came to this page expecting to find a series of conditions about what the AnyVolt 3 can't or shouldn't do." Well, it's a fair expectation, but we found it to be too negative. You don't need to be told that AnyVolt3 can't stop a speeding train, leap buildings in a single bound or travel in time by quickly running backwards across the globe - you know that already!

So what is this?
Well, this page is dedicated to something the AnyVolt 3 can do, which is fend off the nefarious clam menace.

Yes, clams! Everyone worries about zombies or robots or nuclear missiles or what-have-you causing the apocalypse, all the while disregarding the silent, subtle, unassuming menace that is clam society at large. I know, I know; "clams aren't very mobile," "they're not very smart," "they're tasty," etc etc. This is exactly what they want you to think! When the clams rise up and overthrow us, it will be so unexpected that no one will be able to organize a proper defense! Except you.

This is ridiculous. I'm leaving.
Wait! You don't want to hear about how the secret weakness of the rebellious clams is an electric current at a very specific voltage that depends on the type of clam, and that when their uprising happens the best portable defense will be a car battery and an AnyVolt3?

No, not even a little.
Well, you might want to know that during that clamtastrophe, a properly calibrated AnyVolt3 would be good for running your cell phone, your lights or your electric chainsaw from that same battery. As long as you have a way to set the voltage, enough juice in the battery and the reasonable confidence that you aren't exceeding the unit's current ratings, you can survive!

For more information on the applications of AnyVolt3, especially as pertaining to post-apocalyptic wastelands, please visit our product page for it!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Seems weird...

...but these are the types of games we all used to spend time playing:

Now to play well, you have to take lessons and practice, practice, practice... My friend's friend made a killing teaching people how to play Halo. (If there's any offending language, I apologize... I didn't take the time to watch the whole thing because I figured none of you would... but now that I said that, you all will, right? MEH!)


H2+O and/or O3 is between the LEL and the UEL!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Guess what?

The LEL of H2 is 4%.
The UEL of H2 is 75%.

May Day is coming.

Funday Munday

Monday Funday

After Mom made a comment, "If the King James Version was good enough for the apostle Paul, it's good enough for me!", a picture started floating around:
Accidentally leaving her ‘King Jimmy’ at home as a consequence of a bizarre and unexpected confluence of circumstances, a young Susan Travers finds herself visiting a prototype mega church and succumbs to the money-changing temptations of a Contemporary-English Bible dispensing machine in the lobby.

And, of course this one's been around for a while, but it still cracks me up:

And... well...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How you know you're shopping in Texas

Thanks to Obama, this is pretty much true anywhere now :-) He's got to be the best gun/ammo salesman ever!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Approach!

I've come up with a new method for organizing my socks.

Ok, ok... It's not quite that boring...

I have these three drawers under my desk that contain a myriad of pencils, pens, paper, junk, stuffed animals, etc. (The stuffed animals aren't my fault.)

I finally realized what I need to do is go through them and remove everything but what I actually use... meaning that my top drawer will have two pens, one mechanical pencil, a couple permanent markers, a stapler, scissors, and a paper cutter.

Wow! What a novel idea. Put everything I don't actually need or use in a box... I'll deal with the box later. I figure if I clean one small item out a month, I'll... er... run out of things to do in a few years.

I sound pretty bored? Well... er... I rarley get any email at home, there's very little blog activity, I have to go downstairs to check my email since my computer fried, etc. I never realized how much time I wasted with the ol' computer. Now I can waste time wandering around the house and bugging people instead!

Oh, I brought my brothers 4-wheeling, Monday. The soundtrack was rather funny.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I had to work Friday this week. *gasp*

I learned that hepatitis C is at an all time high because people aren't washing their hands after using public restrooms. Oh, I also learned not to hold a nitroglycerin pill in your hand or you'll get a horrid headache.

You see, I have to get CPR training every year and the training rolled around on Friday. I'm now CPR/AED/First Aid certified by the American Red Cross... for another year :-)

Ho, ho... What's funny is they haven't changed the test. I STILL didn't get 100%. You'd think after three times of missing "Heat related Emergency" because I read it as "Heart related Emergency," I'd remember? Nah!

Anyway, I decided to take Monday off instead. I've gotten kind of burnt out these last two weeks of work, so I'm going to take a break. I've been researching equipment, writing requisitions, writing a report, and making circuit boards, so work has been kind of tedious. I do get to head down to Elephant Butte sometime in the next few weeks, so that ought to be nice besides the fact that I'll be in charge... My first field trip where I'm the guy in charge... means I get to write the travel report :-) Hopefully I don't mess anything up.

Creepy Crawly Things

Google had a bug, so my pictures are gone... You can view them here, though:
Roozer's World

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Here's the pictures from the trip I went on today. We visited a comm site on top of a mountain near Green Mountain Reservoir. (Take I-70 to Highway 9 (Dillon area), drive to a dirt country road, drive up that for 45 minutes and arrive at destination at top of mountain.)

They're using a fuel cell for backup power, so we had to go test it to make sure it worked.

Here's the site:
Here's the view:
That white cabinet is the fuel cell enclosure. It contains 6 welding bottles of hydrogen and the fuel cell:
Here's the actual fuel cell unit: