Friday, May 29, 2009

White people can't clap

I went to a middle school (sixth, seventh and eigth grade) choir show the other night. They had a fun program, doing Beach Boys and beach song covers. Some of the parents decided to help by clapping along. Except instead of clapping on the regular second and fourth beat, they were clapping on the down beat. The One and Three. Except all those beach songs are classic rock, two/four songs. Where the drums, the snare drum (the one you clap WITH) are on the two/four. So when they started clapping on the one/three, well, it just doesn't work. It almost killed one of the songs. The kids seemed to "feel" that it was off and started getting off tempo with the recorded music.

We need some diversity in that school.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A most welcome telephone call

My sister started to get a Master degree about ten years back. She didn't complete it then and went back to work. Some years back she was widowed. She worked teaching public school a few more years, but then decided to quit and really pursue a Masters in History at the University of North Texas. She's been working on it a few years. I think she gained a lot of respect from her professors when she realised something was missing, took it to them, showed it, and then went back and totally reworked her masters paper. She called around 5 PM last night and was on cloud nine. She passed her oral defense of her work and passed with flying colors! She said it was all still very surreal. She arrived at the 2 PM meeting. Introductions were made. She was asked to go walk the halls for a few minutes. They then called her in and they discussed the work, and some areas that they wanted more details added. Then they asked her to take another walk. She said she had not even reached the ladies room door, when they called her back in. Unanimous vote that she received her Masters! She then said they proceeded to discuss how she could continue the work and work towards her doctorate!

Lets take stock.

Sister: Undergraduate degree, and now a masters.

Mother: Registered Nurse from a hospital school. Undergraduate degree when she was in her forties. Masters after that in Liberal arts.

Dad: Too much to list! Undergraduate degree. Air force pilot training, which is constant. Masters in Business while still in the air force. Yet another Masters degree when he retired from USAF. He went on teaching school. He's been retired from that for 10 years, but he teaches drivers ed, and does tours at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum.

Me: Just an undergrad degree.

I must be the black sheep. I'm also the only one in the bunch that never worked in public education.

A super big congratulations to my sister.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Telephone calls, what where they thinking?

We had two telephone calls that had me wondering what people placing the calls, were thinking. The first was late last night and again this morning. I’ll start with last night. I work in Information Technology (IT). Off hour calls are a way of life. When a production computer job breaks, someone, sometimes me, has to get it fixed. My employer recently sent some jobs half way around the world for support there. This is to save money while the business focus’s on new applications. Last night at 10:30 PM USA central time, the phone rang. Never a good thing being that late. I could barely understand the other person, with the delay for an overseas call and all. I did some mental math and figured out that it was around 10 AM on their Monday morning. Since I had trouble understanding them, I finally asked them to send me an email with the job that had failed. We hung up. I then called our global computer center and spoke with the operator. He was able to point me to the correct job. My first mistake was assuming that it was a production issue and had just happened. WRONG! It was on the test system, and to sweeten the icing on the cake, it had failed FRIDAY morning! When the “on shore” team should have handled it. Not calling up me at 10:30 PM on a Sunday evening on a three day weekend. I looked back through some logs and found that a person must have had trouble running a job, all last week. They probably just gave up on Thursday and left it. Except then the Friday morning job failed, but they didn’t fix that either. By 11 PM, I had it up and running, and pointed out to the off-shore person that this was TEST, and it was 11 PM here, on a holiday weekend.

The next call was this Monday, Memorial Day morning. 8 AM in fact. We were still asleep and enjoying sleeping in. The phone rang. I was still groggy, but the wife picked it up. Our middle school kid is going to graduate and move on to high school. The middle school deemed that important enough to telephone all the parents with an automated message. We appreciate the call, but 8 AM on a holiday? I think whoever set that message up to be sent at that time, needs to be sent back to sixth grade.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eventful three days - part 3

So after almost getting caught up on sleep, I got up Monday morning and got ready for work. At 7 AM, I headed out to my diesel truck. I turned the key and looked for the "wait to start" light. But it didn't look back. None of the gauges registered. Usually at least the battery gauge goes up. The lights were on, the radio came on. I cranked on it, but it would not start. After about 5 minutes, I headed inside. I fired up the work laptop and sent the boss an email about not making it in. I assumed that the engine wash, must have gotten something wet or, hopefully not, shorted out. This hadn't ever happened in the 10 or 15 other times I'd washed it over the years. I posted a message on the North Texas Power Stroke forum seeking advice and did some "real" work while waiting on their expert advice. Within 30 minutes, the president sent me a reply about a GPR. I had to ask what that meant, where was it, and how to test. It is the Glow Plug Relay. Diesels start much better when the cylinders are warm. The relay activates the Glow Plugs, which use electricity to warm up the cylinders on the diesel. This relay is located right up top of the engine on my truck. Kevin even sent me the part number to go get! So I went to work changing it out. Which wasn't too bad. Except the wires didn't exactly line up, so I had to jiggle the wires and grind down the edge of one connector. Still, the truck would not start. By now it was noon. A few others chimed in about checking all the fuses, especially under the hood. At 1 PM, I called Ford and AAA for getting a tow. But then went out and decided to not only check the under hood electrics one more time, but also the in-the-dash fuses. I got down and popped off the cover. Then it hit me. Actually it was staring me in the face. I have a Turbo Diesel Lifesaver on the truck. That allows the truck to idle, while locked up with no key in it. If you try and drive the truck when the TDLS is engaged, it just dies. Great for letting the turbocharger cool down. I use it when real cold weather, or on trips. I've let that truck run for hours, only shutting down while we ate a meal. As part of the unit, there is a "Kill Switch" feature. My kill switch WAS down low on the dash. While wife and I were cleaning the truck on Sunday, one of us must have tripped the switch! It "killed" the truck. So at 1:15, I flipped the switch and the truck roared back to life. I ran in and cancelled the tow, cancelled the service appointment, posted on the forum that "idiot solves dead truck", and then went and moved the switch to BEHIND the dash. I'm thinking I need to tape it so it can't be tripped again.
I worked from home the rest of the day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eventful three days - part 2

So after orienteering Saturday, we headed home. I got home around 4 PM, tossed my wet muddy clothes into the washer, tossed myself into the shower. After that, I delivered our youngest to a sleep over. You see, it was High School Prom night. At 6:30, seven other kids were showing up in their finest. So wife, eldest, myself and my sister ate take-out Chinese food and got ready for the kids. They started arriving, parents started hanging out by the limo, etc. We had a line of cars from the front to the back of the property of their cars.
We took a few photo's here, but then headed over to another parents house. We lost a few getting there.
After that, it was parents collapse for a bit. At midnight, we had pizza delivered. At 12:30, the limo arrived and dropped nine kids off (we'd gained one). Some changed into casual clothes, some hadn't brought any. Then, even more kids arrived, including one just back from Marine basic training. The wife and I attempted to get to sleep around 2 AM. Around 3 AM, some of the kids decided to head to an indoor gymnasium that one of their parents owns. At 4:30 AM, they arrived back at our place. At 5 AM, they all left again to head to IHOP......back where the gym place was! At sun up, a few were still hanging out talking.

We slept in as long as we could, but were still up around 9 AM. I decided to wash and spring clean the vehicles. That included washing the motor on my diesel truck.

I then drove one of my old classic Mustangs. I went to start daughters car to get out my other classic, but her car would not start. May is when I do maintenance on her car, so I started pulling the spark plugs out. It should not have needed new ones, but one of them was the wrong one! Unreal that a "real" mechanic would do such a thing. He took a tapered seat plug, put on a metal washer on it, and installed it!

A new set of spark plugs and her car fired up. I proceeded to change the oil and filter, the brake fluid, the power steering fluid and the transmission fluid.

More about cars not starting, tomorrow.

The top photo is the line of cars in the driveway.

The bottom photo is the spark plugs from the daughters car.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eventful three days - part 1

Saturday, rain. Mr G and I were heading out to the last NTOA orienteering event of the year. But first I had to drop off a bunch of electronic waste for recycling. The local high school had a drop off deal going. We got that done and were underway towards Erwin Park in McKinney Texas. On the way there it took both of us to wake up enough to not take the road north to the Texoma area parks. We arrived about 9:30 at Erwin, to light rain. This event only had about half the usual number of people signed up for it. We parked pretty close and walked over to the pavilion where sign in was. We then went back to the truck to get ready. Our start times were the same and we had about 25 minutes to get ready. We took our start and started in the same direction. I asked Mr. G what number was on his first control. Yep, same control, so we headed over the field and through the forest to the first point, and the second. At that point our courses took different directions. I didn't have any trouble with my third point, but the fourth took me clear across the park to an area that is pretty thick forest. I got to where a trail went down to a creek and ran into about 20 boy scouts, with full packs on. They were S L O W L Y climbing across the stream. I took about 1 minute watching and then decided to find a spot to jump the creek. Even though a few other orienteers cautioned me about it, I did it, made it and headed up the hill past the scouts. I found the fourth point and headed to the fifth. Taking a wrong angle of attack on the way. Funny thing spotted along the way was an orienteer jumping over a "non-crossable" fence. He'd gone off the map! He wasn't the only one to do that this day! That is a bit dangerous thing to do, as people can get lost quite quickly. The rest of my points were not to bad. It had quit raining while I was out on the course. I got back, got out of my very wet clothes. Another friend and I were just getting lunch out when Mr. G showed up. He'd had a good course also, but was also very wet. By the time we finished lunch, the temperature started to drop and it started raining again. We stuck around for the awards and headed home.

I needed to get home, as this was also the High School Prom night. Eldest daughter and friends were congregating at our place and would return after midnight.

To be continued.




control in the forest.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek

The wife and I and some of her old college friends met at the movie theater for opening night of the new Star Trek. I’ll start with it was a FUN movie. Decent effects, decent plot, funny bits, some great casting. We didn’t even realize it was Winona Ryder until after she’d been in the movie for 15 minutes.

However, here are some visuals about the movie and some thoughts on it.

The plot

Simon Pegg will always bring to mind, SHAUN OF THE DEAD. Actually, he was near perfect pick for his part.

There was an Ice Planet. Just like the rebel base in one of the Star Wars movies.

But it looks like this now.

At least the Trek Ice planet had a big red monster and not an abdominal snowman, like an original Star Trek did.

The bad guys space ship

Reminded me of this

Nero the bad guy

reminded me of this guy

They also have a new high-tech dental drill, which is used to distroy the Golden Gate Bridge, among other things.

And you must always have “Kirks Babe of the day”. Which is done to remind us of Bond, James Bond.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Keep your ditches clean, or not

Last weekend I spent a bit of time trimming trees off the roof, fence and other places. The other task was to remove some of the silt from the drainage ditch in the front of the house. In 22 years we've lived there, the city has yet to do it. Not many people do it themselves. I do it as we have two drive ways and I don't need the pipes under the drives filling up. So I got out there and spent about two hours shoveling out about four inches deep between the drives. It only needs done every five years or so. I'd rather do it than have the city show up and break the pipes, chip the drives, and who knows what else. Next rain, we should see how I did.

I take a short cut through an old-town neighborhood on the way home. Wednesday I turned up it and hit the brakes. This other city had a backhoe out cleaning out the ditch in front of this old house. The house is probably 60 to 100 years old. The ditch wasn't half way silted up, but the city was cleaning it out. Thursday I turned up the same street. The homeowner must have decided he didn't like that the city used his tax money to clean out the ditch and put in new rocks for his driveway. He was shoveling the rocks out of his driveway. Back into the ditch.

I wonder when the ditch backs up water, if he will be the first person calling city hall to complain!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Orienteering at Tyler State Park

Saturday April 25, Mr. G picked me up at 7:30 AM and we headed two hours to the east, to Tyler State Park. We drove in and out of rain showers on the way. I blamed Mr. G for that, as at the last event, he'd commented how we had not had to orienteer in the rain this year.
We arrived to just light sprinkles and went to check in. We then wandered back to his car and got our different gaiter, compasses, clue holders, hats, tape and other items we take.

I did the Brown course and didn't really have any problems with it. I finished in an hour and 23 minutes. Mr G did Green and it was very long and he took about an hour and 50 minutes. It was still sprinkling on us at the start of the event. About half way into it, I'd taken a compass bearing and was heading cross country when I decided to back track. The area I was into, was very wet with chest high grass. I was getting soaked. Other orienteers were in the area, but I'd noticed the trail I was on, would intersect a power line. Power lines are like highways in the woods. The utility companies keep the underbrush open. You can follow them. The orienteering maps are so detailed, that even the power poles are noted, so you can count the poles and use one to go into the woods at. I decided to do that and not get so wet in the grass.

After the event, we cleaned up, ate lunch and attended the awards. After that, we went and sat under the trees and read and napped. About 4:30, we headed out of the park to Bodacious BBQ. We sat with an orienteering couple and discussed world events.

After that, we headed back into the park. They were doing a Night-O event. Orienteering in the woods at night. Last year, about 100 people did it. This year, only eight of us. Mr. G and I do it as a team.

The photo at the top, was one of my control points. It was located on a bend in a stream. The control bag is the orange and white thing, the orange thing below it is the paper/manual punch. And strapped to the tree (click the picture to zoom in), is the reddish electronic control punch. After I dropped down to the control, straddled the stream to get my e-punch, I then had to hoist myself up the bank of the stream and head up that hill in the back ground. Such is the way of advanced orienteering. Now, add darkness!

Below are some photos.

Tree at sunset from a trail

Trail at sunset

A night-o photo from the internet. The orienteer has on a head light for hands free use in the forest. Mr. G and I don't have a HEAD light like that one, but we also carry a regular hand flash light.

And what the orienteerer sees during the night-O (not really, you can see 25 to 30 meters)