Thursday, April 30, 2009

How Man Got the Swine Flu

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Entering May Eve

Back again...

And nothings changed. I guess it's only been two days.

I guess we're too busy to go to Elitches this weekend. I have a melancholy attachment to the place... MY ESCAPE HAS ESCAPED! HELP! LOL -- I'm not making any sense at all tonight.

ANYWAY, I'm back from... er... Kortes. When I told my parents where I'd been today, I couldn't even picture the place for a couple minutes. Seems like weeks ago since I was there, but I guess it was only a few hours ago. I'll blame it on the 5 hours of country/rock on the drive back.

The plant operator was talking about his small heard of Red Angus. 30 or so heads. He lost three calves last night because he didn't find them in time and they froze to death. Guess that happens a lot up near Kortes. It's way up and out there and, of course, it's windy. The road to get to it is half gravel, half paved. It's right above "Miracle Mile," a fisherman's dream. I want to go to Elitches at 7:04.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No peektures

I'm sorry, but I have to go to bed, so I'll just give the highlights and let you all look for your own pictures on Google. :-)

Just a couple quickies:

As many of you know, listening to Country music is a requirement to being in my group at work. When you're on the road, Country is THE music. True, if you're Jill, you hate it, but she just moved out of our group. Me? Uh... I'm up to "It's bearable for about 3hrs" now. It's sad that I have a lot of the songs memorized. AND WHY DOES TAYLOR SWIFT HAVE TO BE CONSIDERED COUNTRY!

Anyway, in Colorado, Country seems to be everywhere... Even in the remotest of areas. Why, even Mt. Elbert has Ski Country! For the most part, I don't mind it. In Colorado, it's usually about some sweetheart or how lucky some guy is to be married to his princess or something likewise vomit-inducing.

Out here? It's just depressing. It's all about "I wish you weren't gone," "I still love you so even though you left," "I'm going to marry for money!", etc.

Anyway I got to listen to that. I'd much rather be reminded about what a princess my wife is... Oh, wait... I'm not married... er... How much I love my betrothed... er... uh... girlfriend? Ok, ok... I'm just a looser, according to Disney.

Speaking of Country, for being "anti-image," it sure has a HUGE image! I realized that yesterday.

Anyway, we went to two dams today: Alcova and Fremont Canyon. Well, we went to the power plants. To get to Fremont Canyon power plant, you have to go through a long tunnel into a canyon wall... It's pretty cool, too. The Fremont Canyon dam is called Pathfinder Dam and is 100 years old this year. My boss brought me up there to see it and it's really cool. It's made out of stone and feels like it's in a mountain plain out in the middle of nowhere... Then again, most of Wyoming is in the middle of nowhere, so what do you expect! Check out the Google pictures if you want to.

Anyway, like most of the places out in the boonies, you get to eat at weird little eateries. We ate lunch from a general store. The owner apparently bags lunches in zip-locks and sells them for $7.50 Sandwich wrapped in plastic rap. Tomatoes wrapped in plastic rap. Pickles wrapped in... you got it! plastic wrap. Moist towelette, salt, pepper, Mayonnaise, Mustard, fork, spoon, chips, jello, cookies, mint, and 2nd mint to wash down the first.

DINNER! I ate at Red Lobster. I've practically never eaten any seafood, so I had to ask my boss what to do, what to order, etc. I ended up with a fried platter... Lots of fish. I don't know what all... My boss seemed to think there was shrimp, popcorn shrimp, something that started with a "G," flounder, etc. It was eatable. Some of it really didn't taste like something you should be eating... like something really gross that was burned... way burnt. Anyway... It was eatable. Tarter sauce, that's all I'll say.

I think my readers can guess how the story ends. (BTW, don't you just hate it how so many great classics end with similar sentances? seems so lame...)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I've met no one at Elitches at 7:04

Beck, Abb, and I have been to Elitches every day they've been open this season... True, they've only been open two days, but nonetheless, we've been there, come rain or cold. Unfortunately, that's all that has come, but it was fun anyway.

Yesterday, it was just plain cold. We thought that the lines would be really short, being the first day they were open and a cold day, but so did all the other crazy people in Denver. Well, whatever. Crazy, if not fun, is usually memorable. It was really, really depressing, but I enjoyed it and I think my sisters did, too.

Today, it was wet. Elitches decided to turn all of their rides into water rides, so no matter where you were, water would just fall on you.It was quite a bit of fun, though we did comment several times how we missed being there with the Hamvas's.

We saw two unusually weird people today... Well, three. I motioned to Abb when two pairs of lips suddenly came forth from the depths of some hoodies. It looked really funny. Abb looked just in time for the two to really give a disgusting show, so Abb leaned over the rail and did a pretty convincing throwing-up scene.

Later, we saw Muscle Man... He was standing in the rain in a tank-top, trying to look warm. He would occasionally forget he was immune to the weather and would then huddle-up, only to see girls in the vicinity and have to pretend his goose-bumps were a figment of the imagination. I'm surprised his fake sun tan didn't wash off in the rain! It kind of looked like something I would do, but there's no one to show off to at Elitches, so it's just as well :-)

I was afraid that after riding some of the better rides in America, Elitches wouldn't be fun. On the contrary! I was very pleased to find that Elitches was still very fun. The Wet-Winder has a drop that can outdo just about every ride I've been on, the Wetster II is really quite cool, the Mind-Drencher, although short, is really fun, and the Half-Soaked... well, it broke right before we got on.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"...I'll meet you at Elitches at 7:04!"

Tomorrow is the first day Elitches is open to the general public for the season! YAHOO!

I have another season pass this year, so if anyone ever needs anyone to go with, let me know :-) All my sisters do, too, so between all of us, surly someone would be available!

The Bozo Brain's Ballistic Adventures

No pictures? Well... Uh... I'm hoping what I did was interesting enough to dismiss the "picture" requirement, but... HEY! When you're as big a looser as me, getting out of bed is an adventure!

Uh, let's see... I got up! Yeah, I know... Hard to believe, but I actually did it, yet again!

After that, I did the normal "getting up" things like taking a shower, etc. I then walked around my room for a while, thinking like I often do.

Kellie then came in my room to see if I was up and she asked me what I was doing. I told her I was going to go to MicroCenter, so I did.

I walked straight to the back of the store and picked up a little USB sound card. It's kind of cool. It's a little bigger than a memory stick and has a headphone jack in the back. (You know, like a Jack in the Box.) I then remembered I needed some more crimp-on ends for network cable, so I walked over there to discover prices that were almost beyond what I was willing to pay for them.

On my way to the tech-out (check out), I saw the rows of laptop cases and remembered I was told to buy a laptop case for my new laptop at work the next time I was at Microcenter, so I picked up a Swiss Gear pack for $89.

After my random musings and trying not to feel embarassed for trying on backpacks, I looked for ways to shoplift. After a couple attempts, the employees told me that this was going to take forever and it would save them and me time to just pay for the junk and leave. I was rather disgruntled by this point, so they gave me a free memory stick to cheer me up.

Upon arriving at the location of payment, I was confronted by yet another "honey" older lady. What is it with the older ladies who look like they've smoked their lives away in casinos? They always call you "honey." Well, I didn't mind. Makes a nice break from "MORON!", "STUPID IDIOT!", and "LOOSER!"

I paid for my junk on my credit card and then told her I needed the backpack tax-exempt on my government credit card. (Thanks for paying your taxes this year, by the way :-) After a bunch of looking, she called the store manager who looked some more and eventually re-entered my info into their computer. I guess they're in the process of changing their database, so even though there's a few people in my group who buy stuff at MicroCenter for government use, we weren't in there for some reason.

I drove back home and stopped at the Kipling Express Car Wash. Great place for a car wash, BTW. For $4 you can have one of the best $4 washes I've seen. Plus, I like the place because they have servo-controlled squirters, but that's just me. I pulled up to the automated payment thingy. Usually, someone comes out and does it all for you, but no one came out this time, so after hanging as far out the window as my balance point would permit me, I finally opened the door and got out to pay. Next, I pulled up to the entrance where people scrub your windows before you go through the automated car wash. I'm thinking the guy who did the scrubbing was the owner because he did a really good job. Meanwhile, I got to feel like a dork because I suddenly realized I really didn't need a car wash at all. I guess the last snow cleaned it all off, so I got to sit in a clean car while the guy scrubbed my clean windows for a long time. It was nice and I got to feel like my normal self. (I.E. an idiot.)

After the car wash, I headed over to the gas station, all the while Bianca (my GPS) sighed, "Recalculating" at every neighborhood street I passed.

After I got gas, I went home and ate lunch.

I then worked on my robot, an old computer, some software, and a thing in the wood shop.

I then turned into a grump, my brothers scattered, I ate dinner, I was still a grump, I ate ice cream, and now I'm happy :-)


They're really good, and if you let them sit long enough, the bag becomes self-resealable :-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I ordered a toy...

My boss just told me to get a laptop for myself, so I ordered a $1900 laptop. 2.4Ghz dual core, 4GB ram, 128GB solid state HDD, back-lit keyboard, 14.1" monitor, etc. I wanted solid state more than space because all my files, including my OS and programs fit in 35GB :-) FINALLY! My very own usable laptop! YAHOO! I'm so excited.

Here's some other "toys" I've ordered recently: (Ok, ok... Parts for projects. It was all Nate's idea, making work sound like fun. :-)

Electronic parts are kind of funny... Here's about $140 of parts:(Yes, it's green, but it sure ain't artichoke juice.)

Here are the contents of the bag, minus a $3.50 USB cable:

You think that's funny? That little plastic tube there contains $60 of parts:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Por Favour

I ate dinner with my friend and then we went to laugh at the "meat alternatives" at Whole Foods. It was a blast. The next time I feel like eating yellow tofu hot dogs, I know where to go!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Short Post

A friend of mine should be here in about 10 minutes... It's our semi-annual get together for each other's burthdayes.

Uh, paintball is sounding fun.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Throwing expensive things out of windows

Here's a word about batteries:

Uh... Ok, so that's really boring. I'll tell you about a bird in our lab. Yesterday, I was at work calibrating some equipment, and I heard something that sounded like a squirrel running around on top of the ceiling tiles in our lab. Since wildlife is pretty prevalent in the Federal Center, I paid little attention to it until all of a sudden, a bird appeared behind me. I'm not sure what it was. It was about the size of a Robbin, but was black and was equip with a seed beak. It flew around for a while, but seemed a little tired. Our group tech ended up chasing the bird around for a while, eventually cornered it, and reached out and grabbed it. Typical bird. If you hold them, they do this weird thing that makes them look like they're going to die in your hand. They sit there perfectly still, their beaks hanging open, and panting wildly. It's as if they're saying their last prayers before being eaten alive :-) Birds are so dumb. They're fiercely afraid of people.

Anyway, back to batteries. The first thing you should know is what Volts and Amps are. If you think of a garden hose, Volts are how hard the water is pushing (pressure), and Amps indicates how much water is coming out of the hose. Batteries "hold" different amounts of power, that is, they can "push" different amounts of water out. A "AA" battery, while it has the same voltage as a "D" battery, won't last nearly as long as a "D" battery. Battery capacities are rated in Amp-hours, or "Ah" for short. (Often, it's mAh meaning "milli-Amp-hours.") Anyway, I have a 12Ah battery for my robot which means that if you hooked it up to something that used 12 Amps, it would last one hour. Conversely, if you were to hook it up to something that used 1 Amp, it would last 12 hours.

There are different types of batteries chemistries. The kind you have in your car is called a "lead-acid" battery because it's filled with Lead plates and H2SO4 (Sulfuric acid.) The type of battery I have on my robot is a variation on a lead-acid battery called a sealed-lead-acid or a gel cell. The only difference is that the acid is turned into a gel so it won't run out all over the place if you dump it upside-down. The advantage to these types of batteries is 1) They're relatively cheap 2) They're rechargeable 3) They tend to have a lot of volts and amps 4) They are "hardy" batteries meaning they can be mistreated with little ill effect. The disadvantage is 1) They're heavy 2) Lead-Acid batteries, if not properly maintained, only last a few years.

I've had my robot batteries for quite a while, so I decided to test them to see if I needed to replace them. I found that they're now 7Ah instead of 12, but considering the fact my robot uses anywhere from 1/2 an Amp to 6 Amps, that should be plenty long enough.

There, how was that for a really long, boring post?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Welding supporing beams

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Patching holes in walls

You can download it here.

I can't believe it's almost been a year since the "clean up day" last year. (May 2nd.) It feels like it's been 500 years... Huh... With that accelerated mental condition, that means I should be... uh... something!

BTW, May Day is coming.

Fixing windows

I seem to have developed a strange habit of jumping out of every window I come across. Once I became the most valuable customer at our local glass shop, I decided I must curb my tenacious habit. After a brief meeting with my psychoanalyst (I've been certified for a while now), I discovered the motive for my habit was based on a desire to break things. Upon finding this valuable piece of information, I've been replacing my habit of jumping out of windows with the habit of breaking scrap glass in the dumpster out back of the glass shop. This newly-formed habit saves a considerable amount of money and has greatly reduced the number of trips to the emergency room.

My brothers built a bunch of these for me while I've been away:
Each "unit" has 20 connections:(They're not all visible here.)

Considering the fact I only found 3 mistakes out of the 300 connections, I'd say my brothers definitely did a good job. It's nice to be able to plan a project and have them build parts for me :-)

I tried a different motor controller on my robot today and really liked it:
Was that an informative post or what?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Words and pictures unite!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Well... we finished our testing two days early, so we cleaned up today and drove to Vegas so we could catch an early flight tomorrow.

After the 15hr day yesterday, it was nice to have a shorter day today.

So, we drove back to my home (Vegas) where we ate at one of the buffets. It was good, but I'm not paying $26.88 for it again :-)

Well, I get to go back to good-ol-Denver tomorrow. Yahoo!

Monday, April 6, 2009

MEH! Vegas... AGAIN!

It was weird being in Vegas again. It kind of felt like home in a weird way. As most of you know, I'm on a field test at Parker Dam. We flew into Vegas and drove to Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

The people I travel with think it imperative that the radio make noise the entire time the car is running, so I got to listen to Delilah help people. (Some radio-talk-show, I guess... But what a name :-)

Anyway, I'm now in Parker, AZ, home of the original London Bridge. It's kind of strange to stay in a hotel in a desertous area and see the actual London Bridge out your back window, but whatever! I wonder what Oliver Twist would have thought about it being moved to the Arizona :-)
Parker Dam is rather small, but it still does have four units. The windings are only about 4' tall, so they're little baby units. Awww... Aren't they adorable?

There are a couple nice things about this field trip so far:
1) We get paid for travel, so the 8hrs it took us to get here counts as work time.
2) We get overtime, so we get paid for all 13hrs we worked today.
3) The Hampton Inn is in Per-Diem, so we get to stay in a nicer hotel than usual.
4) Last but not least, we ate at a small diner-type place. I ate a chicken burrito today. Big burrito... and it contained nothing but chicken. I've never eaten a chicken burrito... especially not for $3.50. Those little remote places seem to usually be pretty good and pretty cheap.
5) I ate at In and Out Burger for the first time. Great fast-food place that has a menu that could easily fit on a business card. They only sell burgers, fries, drinks, and shakes, but they're really good.
6) The fire alarm is chirping in my room. Whoo Hooo. I've decided I'm going to sleep right thought it, though.
7) There's only 2 Christian music stations and 3 Country stations out here, and Jill (one of the two people I'm out here with) can't stand Country, so I don't have to listen to Country for once! YAHOO!
8) We ate outside tonight. I basically worked inside a generator all day today, and we left the plant after the sun went down, so I kind of expected it to be cold. I wasn't expecting to see tons of people in swimming suits in the fast-food joint. (Water sports are huge out here.)
9) I'm running out of things.
10) I want to go to bed.

Sooo, until later, uh... have a great day!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

May Day was 11 months ago...

I guess I have better things to do than upload pictures, so I'll stop at "D." (It's a "Dude," BTW.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Rubber Duck

I decided I wanted to control my robot from a greater distance, so I looked at easy fixes: new antennas! The antennas I were using were 1/4 wave antennas meaning that they are 1/4 the length of the radio wave they're transmitting. Well, it turns out that if you move up to a 1/2 wave antenna (1/2 the length of the radio wave), you get a 3dB gain, or a signal that is "twice as strong." Well, I went with a 1/2 wave antenna for my robot control signals and a full-wave antenna (5dB gain) for my video link... Hopefully it works :-)

OK! PICTURE! I guess these are called "Duck antennas:"
And, if they're rubber, they're called "Rubber duck antennas."

Oh, and it is Beth's birthday, so be sure to wish her a happy birthday :-) I know, no embarrassing videos like last year.