March 30

Racing again.

We started prepping the car in December with an entirely new suspension setup and new rims with pretty aggressive tires. Most of the team worked on it at every opportunity, and today we got the alignment done. I’m leaving quite a bit out as I normally do; this hasn’t been an easy journey. I’m just happy to be this far along and on-target for a successful run.

Double Deuce nearing completion.
Double Deuce nearing completion.

This year we’re going to be competing in both LeMons and Chumpcar amateur series events in three states. Choosing which events to enter is always a problem, and scheduling work-time on the car is never easy when every member of the team is both working a full-time job and managing a household with family obligations. Our most experienced driver AJ had to bow out for the April race in Arizona, and Larry is going to miss the December event at Laguna Seca in California. Thankfully we found a paying stand-by for AJ’s slot in April, but for the other two events we have at least 1 seat open.

We’ll be doing our best to stay on the track and stay competitive for the two LeMons races coming up. Hopefully we have good weather and no mechanical issues. I’ll try to update with our status when I get to the paddock next week.

Category: Cars & Transportation, Happy Things, Travels, Vehicles | Comments Off on Racing again.
October 23

The most suitable moments.

Travelling long distances to new places has been part of my life since I were just a child. The first very long journey I recall clearly was the vacation to Pinellas Park Florida with my family in 1978, and I’ve traveled many a weary mile since then.

Last week I flew once again to San Jose for a training class and to meet up with some co-workers in the region whom I rarely get to chat with in person. I had an early morning direct flight from PHX to SJC on American Airways and in typical fashion I arrived at the departure gate well before boarding had begun, and so I quickly scanned the waiting area for a free chair.

Some recurring themes came to mind as I looked about the room, and I began to tick them off as I came upon them. Observation 1 is that the airport waiting chairs are typically the same type. A row of 6 or 8 seats attached together on a shiny metal frame, with wider than an average leather-like seat-cushions which put an additional 2-3 inches of room between waiting passengers. Even with the extra room it’s obvious that complete strangers still do not want to sit side-by-side and so it is customary to see several passengers sitting on one of these benches with an unoccupied seat between each of them. As additional passengers arrive at the gate and find seats available but not contiguously, they will typically choose to stand with their bags rather than squeeze between *two* complete strangers and occupy one of these remaining seats.

After looking past numerous inconsiderate individuals, you know – those who have their ass in one seat and their bag in the seat next to them instead of on the floor in front of them where it should be – I spotted a seat between two nerdy looking fellows in the corner near the boarding ramp door, and made my way over and took a seat without compunction. No one complained, and so I wondered why the others preferred to stand rather than have a rest.

Being the conscientious individual that I am, I placed my backpack on the floor in front of me and tried to take up as little room as possible. I put my prescription distance glasses on and waited for the cattle line to form.

At every airport the story is the same. You listen for the barely intelligible announcements made by speed-talking-operations-crew, who sprint through their sentences with the pronunciation agility of an auction barker who has become completely bored out of their mind from having to babble the same information every day of every week, repeatedly and, seemingly ad infinitum.

“Attention all passengers, American Airways flight 667 with service from Phoenix to San Jose will now begin boarding at gate B-Seven.”

More instructions are given that First Class, Preimum, Executive, and upgraded passengers are to board first. Then any passengers with disabilities or small children. Then they board the remaining cattle in three groups. Tickets marked Group 1 will board when they call for Group 1. Tickets marked group 2 will board when they call Group 2. My ticket is marked Group 3. Guess who boards when they call Group 3?

At any rate as soon as the first call comes up that boarding will begin, approximately 75% of the sitting passengers will stand up immediately. People who are First Class etc will start filing toward the gate attendant with ID and boarding pass to be scanned, and then they trundle on down the jetway to the flight attendant waiting by the open aircraft door. People in groups 1, 2, and 3 will start jockeying for position and before you know it, there is a relatively steady stream of cattle being scanned in at the gate door and lining up down the jetway as traffic backs up in the tiny aircraft aisle.

This is where it gets fascinating to me as I remain seated, watching the procession. People moving in baby steps. Inching forward, shuffling one step at a time. Shuffle forward, pull the bag, adjust the purse, fish out the ticket, hand it to the lady, get it scanned and read it two or three more times to remember your seat number. Shuffle forward into the jetway. Stand in line. Wait. Step. Wait. Step. shuffle on down the line and wait.

Eventually they get through the important people, the infirm and young, then groups 1, 2, and 3. Just after Group three they start making final preparations to sign off on departure.

The whole time I sit there watching them until the last one goes through the door and the gate attendant starts checking to see that they have all passengers checked in. In my mind, I’m calculating how far down the jetway the last passenger is. The gate checkers know I’m not on the plane, so they can’t close the doors and they have to wait. I stay calm. I wait for them to say “Final Call for flight 667 with service from Phoenix to San Jose.”

This is my most suitable moment. Now it’s time for me to go. I stand up from my comfortable seat, discard my coffee cup and walk toward the gate attendant and hand her my boarding pass. I walk slowly, but freely down the jetway without a soul in sight. No waiting. No rushing. No anxiety and best of all, No standing in line for me. I get to the jet door, step in and greet the flight attendant, turn to the right and walk to my seat with very little delay. A few passengers are still getting situated and one guy is apparently trying to stuff a carry-on the size of a large dog into the overhead compartment. I dodge around them and get to my seat at row 21. But I have the middle seat so the aisle guy has to stand up, but I don’t care and neither does he. I stuff my bag in the overhead, grab my soda, purse, and fleece jacket, then dive into the seat and strap in for the trip.

I haven’t delayed us. I haven’t made us late. There is still lots of work for the flight attendants to do when the door is closed and they set about getting it done without delay. I was simply the last person to board, and I boarded well before departure was scheduled. I didn’t get anxious or nervous or jockey for position. I knew we had a scheduled time to depart and I used all of my available time until that point to read a few more paragraphs of a book, without wasting of my time in line.

Category: Travels, Work | Comments Off on The most suitable moments.
July 14

Boat Car Guy

I mentioned this scene in an earlier post this year and have just gotten around to making this clip. I’m using this under Fair Use as an illustration of a point of discussion.

I believe that our experiences in this life are influenced greatly by how we choose to interpret them. Much like the cat in the box which is both alive and dead at the same time, we worry over the day to day struggles of our lives as if the act of worrying them will influence the reality inside the box. Truly our worrying won’t help our problems any more than it will help the cat, but the way we choose to respond to the reality once it is known will greatly influence the end result.

The “Boat Car Guy” speaks metaphorically about his perception of the world around him and the way he chooses to interact with it. I like his perspective and use it here as an example of spiritual openness and how our perception can influence our destiny.

Waking Life(2001)

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July 5

Summer vacation 2016

Today is the first official day of my summer vacation for this year.  So far I’ve celebrated by buying & installing a new commercial grade soldering/re-work station in the “nerd room” originally designated as a dining area.

I do have a few projects to get finished in the next couple of weeks, but so far I’ve just been staying up all hours of the night and day playing video games.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed playing the Tomb Raider series until I started playing Underworld just yesterday.  What a blast from the past.  I even bought the original Laura Croft : Tom Raider movie to watch while I was playing.

Two weeks of #NOPANTS and #NOWORK are just what the Dr. ordered!

Category: GeekStuff, Happy Things | Comments Off on Summer vacation 2016
June 30

On the United Kingdom exit from the European Union.

Britain’s Prime Minister didn’t want it.
Leader of the opposition party didn’t want it.
Most of the Tory party didn’t want it.
Practically all of the labor party didn’t want it.
100% of the LibDems didn’t want it.
100% of the SNP didn’t want it.
100% of the Plain Cymru didn’t want it.
Clearly the Greens didn’t want it either.

Hollande didn’t want it.
Merkel didn’t want it.
Obama didn’t want it.
Trudeau didn’t want it.

The great peanut gallery of talking heads and political pundits like John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Steward didn’t want it.

Goldman Sachs didn’t want it.
JP Morgan didn’t want it.
George Soros didn’t want it.
In fact, a shit load of other banks and global financiers didn’t want it.

The social justice warriors who label everyone a racist for expressing an opinion on unrestricted immigration didn’t want it.

The overwhelming majority of the elitist, out of touch assholes in the media didn’t want it.

 

But your lads having a pint down at the pub wanted it.
Your barber down the street wanted it.
Your local plumber fixing your pipes wanted it.
The man driving you on the bus wanted it.

The People wanted it lads…and this time, The People won.

Category: Political | Comments Off on On the United Kingdom exit from the European Union.
June 22

Orlando

He was looking for easy targets. People who wouldn’t dream of fighting back.

This man was an example of how holding onto ancient superstitions can poison society in the modern age. He was raised to believe that being comfortable with his own sexuality was a disgrace and it tormented him to such a degree that he wanted to die.

Killing himself would have revealed that he was weak and he was afraid that everyone he loved, and whose approval he wanted most, would find out that he was gay. This would mean that not only was he weak, he would be a disgrace. He would rather be reviled as a villain by the entire world than accept his sexuality and face his family and the rest of society. So this was his way of going out in a blaze of glory.

Societies around the planet have always evolved at very different paces. I fear we have a long way to go before these types of issues are resolved.

On some level, I question whether people who hold to religious beliefs where an anthropomorphic deity watches over them every second of every day and judging their actions, should be permitted to participate freely in society without a tracking system and remote controlled shock collar.

Category: Drips of consciousness, Frustration | Comments Off on Orlando
June 15

Frank.

We’ve lost another friend.

Frank was such a gentle little soul.  He didn’t have a mean bone in his body.  Always wanting either in or out, he flatly refused to use a kitty door.  We joked so many times about being his doorman or concierge.

A poem has been said in my head a thousand times…

The Cat

(Ogden Nash)

You get a wife, you get a house,
Eventually you get a mouse.
You get some words regarding mice,
You get a kitty in a trice.

By two a.m. or thereabouts,
The mouse is in, the cat is out.
It dawns upon you, in your cot,
The mouse is silent, the cat is not.

Instead of kitty, says your spouse,
You should have got another mouse.

We miss you Frank.  Say ‘Hi’ to Bernie for us both!

Category: Drips of consciousness | Comments Off on Frank.
May 24

Progress with projects.

Guilty cat hides his eyes in shame after destroying the Inductrix.
Bart hides his eyes in shame after destroying the Micro Inductrix.

My latest major build called “Project Rome” went live on Monday 5/23 and has been declared hugely successful.  I built a new engineering/compute environment in San Diego and migrated the workload from Sunnyvale into it this weekend.  Monday was day 1 on the new infrastructure and we had only minimal issues.  Months of planning, hard work, and stress.  The sense of relief feels very good.  Of course the work doesn’t stop here – I have to tear the old environment down and dispose of the equipment and a lot of other things, but at least I feel like I’m moving forward.

Hal finished up the engine in the 97 NA MX5 and it runs like a new car.  In fact it turns over on the first turn of the key now, just boom, instantly to life.  I think the last thing he needs to do is set the timing more precisely and then it should be good for another 150,000 miles.  We really have gone over nearly every inch of that car in the last few years and it’s a very fine example of a first generation MX5.  I think our next project should be restoring the 1974 Sun Beetle.  (However the racing team has voted that the next project be race-car suspension rebuild, and so that will probably be Project Next.)

Concrete wall rebuild is done and all of the gravel on the sides of the patio has been removed, graded, and replaced with compacted sand & clay.  Essentially it’s just desert hardpan earth which is very natural in this environment.  It feels like about 50% soil & 50% finely crushed gravel.  After it gets wet a few times, it’s nearly hard as stone.  We’re going to have the block walls painted to match the colors of the house.  I think the entire yard will be very pleasing to the eye with a matching color scheme.  Next autumn I plan to get some large 18-20″ pots to plant some desert flowers in.  I’ll place them strategically around the yard and add a bit of color.

Hal and I have been playing with quadcopters lately and have built quite a fleet.  We just picked up two Zeyrok quads and two of the Inductrix models.  One of the Inductrix is about 3″ across and generally for indoor use only.  It was a hoot until I flew too close to Bart and he smacked it out of the air with authority.

It slammed into the ground so hard that two of the motors were damaged.  C’est la vie, eh?  The wind has been a bit stiff the last few days so we haven’t gotten a lot of air time, but I did get enough video to upload a few here & there on the Youtube channel.

I’ve also been doing a bit of gardening lately.  I have had a number of succulents and cactus on my kitchen window sill since I bought the house, but since Sue passed away I’ve taken a bit more interest and gotten quite a few more little green friends.  Sue gave me one of the first plants I had in the house and just a few weeks before she departed, she had given me some clippings from her golden Pathos plant in her kitchen.  I really wanted to keep them healthy so I nursed them in water until they started growing roots and then moved them into a hanging planter near the sink.

Now there are about 20 different succulents in pots, various cactii being spawned, and the makings of two closed-jar moss & succulent terrariums with a collection of at least six mosses.  I have a couple of epiphytes about to spawn even.  Sue used to say that helping plants grow was good for the soul and I think she’s right.  It makes me feel better to do the little pruning and watering and even talking to them a little bit so they can absorb the carbon dioxide.

The weather is getting warm but we’ve been able to get by with using the swamp cooler, which essentially cools the air by adding humidity to it.  Average humidity in this area is 7-12% in the summer – quite dry.  By passing humidified air though the house, it brings the temperature of the air down and does the plants a world of good.  Of course before long (when Monsoon arrives), the air will be too humid for the swamp cooler to work so we’ll have to turn up the HVAC.  But we’re certainly going to enjoy it all we can.

I hope my next update comes sooner than this one did.  I’ve been stressing and working lots over this project, but now that it’s wrapping up I hope I’ll have more free time.

Until then.

 

Category: GeekStuff, Home, Work | Comments Off on Progress with projects.