18 February 2013

LEGO Bonus

For those not paying attention, I like LEGO, okay it may be bordering on obsession, but it's an awesome obsession.  Before Christmas we were at the LEGO store and there was a promotion going on, buy something now and come back after Christmas and fill your bonus box from the you-pick wall.  Last Friday was the day, I was totally stoked!  So with box in hand I proceeded to gather pieces and fill my box.  Being the engineer that I am and skilled in the ways of LEGO and tetris I maximized the space I had.  Just so you know this is not a large box, it is only 3-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 3-1/2".  You think to yourself that's not very big, almost not worth the effort...


...and if your not obsessed it might not be.

Again I am going to say I have the coolest wife ever!  She found a comfy chair, and thanks to free WiFi and pinterest, I spent 45 minutes filling my box.

Here is my stacked block, it is completely solid all the way through, no wasted space for me.

Pretty nice pile of free bricks if I do say so myself.  Just for comparison this is how may 'extra' bricks you can get if you tetris them all together instead of just dumping them in.

12 February 2013

Christmas Village

I know it's February and Christmas seems like forever ago, but I had to share.  Most people have their favorite decorations and traditions, we do as well.  Pretty much since we've been married we have put up the Christmas Village and have added pieces every so often.  Me being me I thought that the porcelain village is really not my style, and that I needed a village of my own.  So with this thought in mind I went to one of my favorite sites, LEGO!  What could be better than LEGO and Christmas?  Nothing!  Because I have the awesomest wife in the world, I now have a LEGO village.  Not only is it fun to put together it is awesome as well!

Can't wait to see what new set they release this Christmas.

20 October 2012

Fun with Vinyl

In preparation for my backpacking trip I needed some new water bottles.  When I got them them they were plain and boring, which is just not right.  Since I have an in with the Vinyl Lady I decided that they needed some decoration.

Aren't they awesome! I think so as well.

12 October 2012

The Miles Don't Walk Themselves

Recently my friend Tom and I decided that we needed some time in the mountains and what better time to go than in the fall.  Not having spent much time in the Olympics I was open to pretty much anything.  A friend at work suggested the Seven Lakes Basin, so without any previous bias it sounded good to me.  Just because the hike was labeled as 'strenuous' and 'High Divide' was in the title there was no reason to think that it would not be a successful hike, that and the fact that I haven't been backpacking for like eight years.

So after a couple weeks of planning it was time to hit the trail.  We decided to spend the night at a state park a little closer to the trail head so that we could get our back country permit and get hiking at an earlier hour.  Alas the best laid plans. We got a late start from camp and got a little lost trying to find the permit office, so we didn't make it to the trail head till around 11.  Knowing that we had a ten mile hike ahead of us we were eager to get moving.

The first part of the trail was an easy .8 miles to Sol Duc Falls.  Along the way we say our first wildlife,

and then the falls.

With that stretch done we were loose and ready to put the miles behind us.  After 3.8 miles we were ready for lunch and what better place than Deer Lake to take a break.

After a quick 30 minute lunch, it was time to strap on our packs and get moving again.  Here is me pondering the trail ahead.  What could I be pondering you ask?

 The fact that the ridge in the distance had to be crossed and it looked high and steep.  But it stood between us and our destination at Heart Lake, so it must be crossed.

After we got on the backside of that ridge that trail flattened out a bit as it contoured around the mountain.

But then we hit the switchbacks.  While I understand the purpose and intent of switchbacks, I do not enjoy them, especially when they are steep and short such as these. 

The trail continued in its relentless up, and we continued on.  Looking forward,

 and looking back where we came from.

After a few more miles we passed Seven Lake Basin. It's pretty desolate and wide open, while I was glad that we weren't stopping here, part of me wished that we were. 

Since we got a late start we knew that it was going to be a challenge to get to camp before it got dark and with about 2 miles to go the fog started rolling in so the spectacular views from the high divide, while I am sure they were there and magnificent, we could not see them.  Can't you just imagine the sweeping vistas?

Finally after 8 hours and 15 minutes on the trail we made it to Heart Lake. Hooray!  After dropping our packs it was time to pump water, sent up tents and make dinner.  It was a fantastic dinner, if i do say so myself, chicken and dumplings.  Who says you can't eat gourmet meals in the backcountry?  Since it was dark and foggy when we made it to camp we couldn't appreciate how nice of an area it was.

From a Ranger we met on the trail we learned that there was a herd of elk around the lake and with the rut going on there would be some bugling.  All night long we heard them, sometimes it sounded like they were right outside the tent.  Lucky for us they were all on the other side of the valley.  See the little tan jelly beans? Those are the herd.

We woke up to a beautiful clear bright day, perfect for the hike out.  Since the day before was ten miles of up, today would be 8 miles of down.

It is gorgeous country, great weather and there were very few people, what more could you ask for?  Was it a strenuous hike?  Here is the trail profile, you be the judge.

Would I do it again?  Absolutely! I'm ready to hit the trail again tomorrow, just maybe not this one again, just yet...

04 February 2012

Lego and Star Wars

Two of my most favorite things, Lego and Star Wars, so what could be better than combining them?  Since my wife has a vinyl and Cricut obsession I figure why not use this power for good.  So now I have the coolest Lego box anywhere.

As you can see there is still room in my box for more, so please feel free to send me your unused and unloved Lego sets.  Please do it for the children.

10 June 2011

Where's Waldo?

For those of you who remember and enjoy the Where's Waldo books, I have one for you. My awesome and beautiful wife got me tickets to the greatest rock band ever (Ash is yelling in the background 'Kansas', which it's not, sorry Kansas fan) U2. Between Lenny Kravitz and U2, unbeknownst to me, they took a picture of the crowd. Using a 500 megapixel camera, that's right I said 500! Woowee, i need to get me one of those, but i digress. If you have a lot of free time on your hand and want to see the happy looks on 70,000 faces try and find me in the crowd (click the picture).

If you need a hint I'm in section 335, row M, seat 16.

18 October 2010

One Night in Bangkok…

Its true I spent one night in Bangkok, yes the one in Thailand, but I get ahead of myself.

It all started in typical fashion by that I mean that planes and dates changed at least four times. Even when I got on the plane to leave I wasn't completely convinced that it had all settled out. At least I knew that I wasn't going to be alone, there were a few others on the same plane as me, so we could commiserate together. Finally the plane took off and I was heading across the Pacific to Osaka Japan. I know you're thinking wow you've been going to Japan a lot lately. It's true I have, but that was not our final destination, just a transfer point along the way. As a side note: Did you know that Osaka airport was built on a manmade island that is sinking into the harbor at a rate of about 1"/year. Not really relevant, just thought it was interesting. Also for those who don't know being the engineering nerd that I am, while most people are watching the in-flight movie I am watching the flight info channel, you know the one that tells you that you're flying at 39000', the outside air temp is -63 deg F and that you have a head wind of 221 mph. When I saw that we had a huge head wind I had to look out the window and see if we were still moving forward. Yes we were, just slower. So as a result we got into Osaka later than anticipated. Not that this was a problem because I had a 4-1/2 hour layover till the flight to Guam left. Bah! But at least the long leg of travel was done, just a short 3-1/2 flight left. All was going well until the Project Engineer rounded us all up for some late breaking news. It went something like this "You know how we were going to get a nice easy day in Guam before heading out to the Ship? Ya that's not going to happen, we are flying out the Ship tomorrow morning (which at this point was basically today)." Yeah! Who would want to sit around on a tropical island and have a leisurely day anyway.

So to put in all in perspective (all times are Pacific), I left my house at 9:00 am, my first flight left at 12:45 pm, arrived in Osaka 12:15 am left Osaka at 4:45 am, landed in Guam at 8:25 am and to the hotel at 9:15 am so 24 hours of travel and waiting time.

After a short nap of about 4 hours it was time to get up, get going and meet up with the other members of our group. Who really needs sleep anyway? So we all met up at the Sheraton to await transportation to Anderson Air Force Base (AFB). The base was about a half an hour north of town and getting all 26 of us to the right place and the same time would have been difficult so the project leader arranged vans to get us all there. As we were waiting for our van to show up an airman came with a truck so we loaded up our bags in the truck and sent them on ahead to get stored in the plane. After waiting for what seemed like forever our van arrived and we were on our way to AFB and then to the Ship. After a brief safety lecture and donning the appropriate gear it was on to the plane. A C-2 COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) flight is nothing if not completely different then your normal airline flight. There is no in-flight movie, beverage service, or even rest rooms, if you have to go too bad should have thought of than before you got onboard. There are also only 2 windows, which are about 6" in diameter and not very helpful unless you happen to be really lucky and get that seat ( I wasn't, just in case you were wondering). So strapped in with 24 of my new best friends, backwards, it was time to take off. Luckily it was only going to be about a 45 min flight out to the carrier. No worries I've done this before, flying is no problem. The flight was smooth until we had to start circling to wait our turn to land. Three times we went around, not nice smooth turns either, hard and sharp. Not having any sort of visual clues really messes with your equilibrium, not knowing which way was which, or that a turn was coming, just wham, turn. It wasn't too bad, kind of thrilling actually, until the last turn, where we turned and dropped all at the same time. I made it through, but a few of the others had to use the bags provided if you know what I mean. Then it was time to get on the deck, full speed to stopped in like 2 seconds. What a rush. I've now been catapulted and caught on a carrier. I have to say the launch is definitely more exciting, but both are totally awesome!

Now for the real work.... Blah blah.....confidential....national security and all the stuff.....boring! Needless to say that Aircraft Carriers are big steel rat mazes with no windows, very easy to get turned around and lost for sure. Being in the South Pacific it was hot. From the time I arrived in Guam to the time I got back to Seattle I was sweaty. Yuck. It was hot in the spaces I was working in as well. One thermometer said 105, with 90-100% humidity. I know some of you are thinking that's not really that bad its like that where I live all summer. True, but that was just the ambient air temperature, now add a large piece of equipment that is 400 deg and radiating heat that you have to be right next to. Luckily it was not all work, there was time to watch flight ops, once again I am my fathers son and love the sights, smells and sounds of airplanes. The ship also had a ‘steel beach party' while we were onboard. This is where they set up bbqs and basketball hoops and have a party on the flight deck. It was fun to take a break for a while and enjoy the cruise. After nine days onboard it was finally time to disembark.

We got off the ship in Laem Chabang Thailand. Then we had to make our way south to Pattaya Beach. It was there that we had arranged transportation to get us up to Bangkok. After a quick walk on the beach it was time to head north.

It is monsoon season in Thailand. The two hour ride was exciting, our driver didn't speak English and we didn't speak Thai. On top of that it was pouring rain for about half of the drive and people in believe that lane markers are more suggestions that rules. I'm glad I wasn't driving, but I'm also glad that I made it in one piece. The place we stayed was a super swanky 5-star hotel, didn;t really fit in there, especially after just getting of the ship. After a good meal and a few hours of sleep, my one night in Bangkok was over. The taxi from the hotel to the airport was a Mercedes. I could get used to that, I'm sure I could.. Then it was on the plane, a quick stop in Tokyo and then home. The flight home was cool, we left at 7:30 am and landed at 9:30 am, from half way around the world in only 2 hours, amazing! If only.

As far as I can figure, I've now been the farthest away from home in my family, 7439 miles, as the crow flies.