Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is that thing Real?

Yesterday was Courtnie Farnes wedding. As I was driving to work in a hard rain I felt really sorry for her but she had Tony Corbell as her photographer so she was lucky. He took them down to Balboa Park and got some beautiful pictures. Balboa Park has miles of covered walk ways with pillars, balconies and all kinds of cool places where you can take pictures. Since Alycia was already in St George for Christmas with her in-laws and Jamie was there with her family, the two of them came down for the wedding (and for a visit with us). Since they were here, Stephani Bradshaw joined them and they had a big sleep over last night. They were watching chick flicks all night so I hit the sack around midnight and left the rest of the family partying (except for Sarah who always goes to bed early). Somewhere around 2:00 AM the phone rang. As I slowly returned to reality I heard a bunch yelling, laughing and screaming out in the hallway. I vaguely wondered what was going on but I figured since Lisa was up she would get the phone and I went back to sleep. Well the phone kept ringing so I eventually answered it. It was Lisa calling me from downstairs.

Apparently the girls decided it was finally time to go to bed and Alycia ran up the stairs first. Stephani came next but as she was walking up the stairs she saw this big snake on the stairs. He is so big that he is stretched out across several steps. Alycia had ran right past him. Steffani figures it must be a fake rubber snake but since it looks so real to her she calmly calls out to Alycia, "Alycia, there's a snake on your stairs". Then she says, "Is that thing real?" At first Alycia can't imagine that it is Tom because she had noticed before that the bowling ball was still sitting on top of the aquarium. When she takes a look and see's that it really is Tom then it was chaos and that is the commotion that I heard. Lisa, Jamie and Stephanie are trapped downstairs and they are not about to come near the snake so Lisa calls me to return him to his home and make sure he never gets out again. Alycia meanwhile wakes Sarah up and by the time I return to consciousness and get dressed Sarah already has returned Tom to his warm and comfortable home. I check to make sure the lid is secure and go to bed. The girls on the other hand were so hyper that I don't think they got to sleep for another hour or two.

The best we can figure, Sarah put the lid back on the cage when we fed him last and I seem to remember that one corner wasn't completely in place. At the time I figured that with the bowling ball sitting on the lid he would never get out. Tom is apparently much stronger than he used to be.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Crab in the Manger

This has been a rather fun week. I've been going in to work for a couple of hours in the morning and then coming home to play with my family the rest of the day. Sunday Brandon and Serene both got sick so we babied them all day and they felt greatly improved Monday morning as they were heading down the highway. It was good to have them for a couple of days but they then had to drive to Texas to see Serenes side of the family. As we were saying good bye to them at the car I looked over at my nativity scene on the front lawn and I noticed that there was a crab on the baby Jesus' head. That's right, a crab. I don't know who put it there or why but it was very dead and smelled very nasty.

I spent Monday night playing with my new toys. This Blue Ray player that we got is very cool. I plugged it into the internet and I can go online and watch anything I want. It hooks up to Hulu, Youtube, Net flix and a bunch of other sights that I've never heard of. We really watch very little TV around here but when I checked out Net flix I figured out that for $7 a month I can down load as many movies and TV shows as I want. It's unlimited and instantaneous. That is only pennies more than it costs to rent a single video from Blockbuster. So I'm now in hack for another $7 a month but I'm catching up on all the movies I've missed out on. You should see what blue ray looks like on a 52" TV. It's like a giant photograph. Very cool.

Today we went to Balboa Park to the natural history museum. They've got an exhibit of jewels. It was fascinating. I've always thought that I have an ugly birthstone. Green Peridot, I can't even pronounce it properly and I've always thought it looked a bit gross. I mean green is one of my favorite colors but who ever heard of green jewelry? I've never really liked emeralds either. Well after today I really like it. We saw some pretty fancy stuff today. We also saw a 3D movie about turtles. It reminded me a lot of the time we went to Hawaii and swam with the turtles.

Well that about brings me up to date on the week so far. It's very quiet around here with only Sarah around but we're having a ball.

There are 7,000 different languages in the world and one of them goes extinct every 14 days.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

First of all let me wish everyone a very merry Christmas. I hope today has been a special day for all of you. What a wonderful Christmas this has been for me. I've been worried that it would be a bummer because for the first time since 1983 it was only Lisa and I with one child. Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with Sarah but I've always had such fun with all of the kids home and total chaos and commotion everywhere. Well I was wrong. It was a wonderful day. For my first story let me go back to about two weeks ago. Sarah's friend Alex Jafek was home from BYU but his family was heading out on a cruise so there was only one day that they could get together. Alex brought his two little brothers over and we ended up pulling out the Nerf guns and having an all out war. We have a plastic tub full of a half dozen Nerf guns and several hundred Nerf darts. Those darts were flying all over the house and we battled until we dropped. Even though we did our best to clean up afterwards we've been finding those darts daily ever since and in the strangest places. I even found a couple today.

To catch up a little bit, last Wednesday after Norbs funeral we took Brandon with us and the four of us went to see the Hotel Del. They always decorate an enormous Christmas tree in their lobby and it is fun to go see it. We also sat out on their deck and ate ice cream. 

So this year we broke several long standing traditions. The first one began on Christmas eve. When the kids were little they always acted out the Christmas story and that sort of grew into a talent show. This year we skipped the talent show for a couple of reasons. The main reason is that we were invited out to some friends house for a Christmas Eve dinner. That went late into the night and so it was quite late when we got home. Sarah didn't feel much up to putting on a one woman show so we skipped the talent show. She did get here usual Christmas Even gift. Lisa made her a pair of pajama pants. They had words all over them like "happy", "unique", "funny", "strong", "playful" etc. All words that describe her to a "T". 

The next broken tradition was an obvious one to break and that is when the kids would all sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve. Sarah slept in her bed. The crazy girl was then about to set her alarm for 6:30 and I gave her strict instructions to turn the alarm off. She managed to sleep in until 7:30 which was OK with me. 

Our next tradition is when we make the kids all wait upstairs until I have the video camera set up and then I video tape them running down the stairs. Sarah gave me strict instructions that I was not tape her. She finally did consent to let me take pictures of her but she felt very weird coming down the stairs by herself. I know I should have just let her come down the stairs with the big people but I couldn't let all of the traditions go in one year. 

It was very strange to open all of our presents so fast. We always force the kids to open their presents one at a time so we can all enjoy the surprises together. When we were all home that meant that we were opening presents until well into the afternoon. Today, even with the late start and two phone calls were done presents before ten o'clock.

Then came our best surprise ever. Early this week were thrilled when we received an email from Alex telling us that he was allowed to Skype this year. We could hardly stand ourselves. We've been practicing conference calling on Skype all week long. This morning several of the kids called and while we were talking to Kira she suggested we Skype so we could see the boys. That was very cool, Even showed us his cool "Ironman" play figure. While we were talking to Kira we got a Skype call from Alex. He was testing out his Computer set up to make sure it worked and he saw we were online. It was so wonderful to see him live. He was transferred on Monday too so we also got to meet in new companion Elder Diaz from Paraguay. He seems like a very cool guy. We also got to say "Ola" to the Hermana of the house. I am so grateful to that family for letting Alex talk to us. 

Our quick little chat with Alex put us an hour behind and we had people coming for dinner at 2:00. Alex was calling for real at 4:00 so we were a little worried about getting dinner going on time so we could be done in time for our call. Brandon and his family showed up right after our call and then Peter and Maron were here right on time for dinner at 2:00 but we were late and then Joey and Tiffany showed up a little bit late but long before we were ready to eat. 

I was just carving the turkey at 3:00 confident that we would be able to be done in time for Alex's call when our computer started "ringing". Alex was calling us. Some how he got the time zones mixed up but we weren't about to tell him to call back an hour later. We quickly put the food in the oven to stay warm and  we abandoned our guests while we talked to Alex. I called Ben, Alycia and Kira to tell them to get onto Skype we had a wonderful time visiting. I feel real bad about our guests but what can you do? When your missionary calls twice a year you don't put him on hold.

I'll let Lisa give you the summary of some of the things we talked about but he's obviously loving his mission and it sounds like his Spanish is coming right along. Not long after dinner Brandon started getting sick. The poor boy has been plagued this month with disease. I sure hope he gets lots of rest this next couple of weeks so he can get his body back into shape with a strong immune system. After a couple of hours we left him reading "Catching Fire" while we took Serene and the girls to see the lights at the temple. They're always nice but his year they are even better. Sydney and Hayley had fun playing with the animals in the nativity. I also thought the Temple looked pretty good tonight and I like the picture I got of it.

In one of the neighbourhoods in our community there is one street where the people string lights across the road from one house to another. Driving down the street feels like you're in a tunnel of light. It is really quite beautiful and while this picture doesn't really do it justice hopefully it gives you some idea of what it is like.

So that was our Christmas. Santa was good to me this year. I got some really cool gifts that I love. I got a Blue Ray player that looks really cool. I got Dan Browns new book, "The Lost Symbol", I got a very badly needed wallet, the new "Enterprise" from the latest Star Trek movie, an electronic picture frame that Grandpa Shaw has put hundreds of pictures on including some very cool pictures of Lisa growing up, way more highly refined carbs than I need (I love those chocolate covered cherries Kira), a gift certificate to a restaurant (thanks Alycia) and I'm very excited about my new Android phone. That is a cool story. I've been contemplating giving up my Treo for some time. I love it but Palm just hasn't kept up with Apple and Google and I'd decided to bail on them and go Android.

The other night I talked Lisa into stopping in at the Verizon store to look at some of them. I loved the look of Samsungs "Fascinate" but Motorolla's "Droid" had a few more features. Both of them were regualar $600 and even with a  two year contract they were $200 so I decided to get through Christmas first and consider it in January. So last night at dinner Brigham Bagley (the college age son) had just got a new Fascinate. As he was showing me all the cool stuff that it can do he mentioned that the Best Buy had them on sale for $50. We went on line and sure enough, there it was. A $600 phone for $50. This morning under the tree was a wonderful note from my good wife to go online and buy the phone. It was the first thing I did. I can't wait to get it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Water Water Everywhere

I think it is funny how when life is boring and there is nothing to talk about you have all the time in the world to write something but when life gets busy and exciting then you have no time to write. So Brandon came down on the train on Tuesday to attend Norbs viewing Tuesday and funeral mass on Wednesday. The funeral was a very beautiful one and quite uplifting. I am really glad i went and I enjoyed it. The more I get to know Norbs kids the more impressed I am. After the funeral Brandon received a phone call telling him that the train he had reservations on to return to LA had been cancelled due to the rain. The tracks were flooded at the Penasquitos marsh. We later learned that in addition to flooding there had been a mudslide that covered the tracks. When he called Serene to tell here about the problem her first response was "You'd better be home by Christmas". She became even more distraught when she went on line and found that there were no trains running until Sunday. We eventually found out that the trains were running as far south as San Juan Capistrano so I drove him up there and he caught a train from there. It was a longer drive that we were planning on but I love any chance I get to visit with Brandon so we made the best of it and solved many of the worlds problems on the way.

I think I mentioned the other day that this storm is the worst we've had in five years but what I heard today is that this is the worst flooding that we've had San Diego in thirty years. It doesn't seem all that bad to me but the interesting thing is that the football stadium flooded. They had three feet of water inside the stadium. That was a problem because the Poinsettia bowl was today and it was the first time that San Diego's local football team (SDSU) has had a bowl game in a very long time. SDSU was supposed to play Navy yesterday but due to a scheduling problem they had to change the date to today. Its a good thing they did because it would be tough to play in three feet of water. The helped out SDSU and the spent the entire night pumping out water. In the end they pumped more than one and a half million gallons of water. They were saying that they had to pump out the water because if they played in a flooded stadium it would give Navy an advantage.

I had an interesting thing happen at work today. The company next to ours is called RF Industries. They make wireless routers and modems and we have a pretty good relationship with them. The owner of the company has a granddaughter in High School and she is in some small choir that performs all over the place. Today I was in the back lab and I heard Christmas songs being sung. I walked out to the front and there is this small choir of about six kids singing Christmas songs and I'm telling you they were wonderful. Some of the most beautiful harmony I've ever heard. They truly could be professional. They are better than most of what I've heard on the radio. It was a great treat.

Well it is past midnight and I wanted to go into work early tomorrow so I can get my stuff done in time to come home early on Christmas eve. I'm quite excited. Just in case I don't get a chance to tell you all before Christmas. Merry Christmas.

Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day (half of that coming from food and drinks other than plain water) could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I've had a few people tell me how much they like my new back ground. I kind of like it too so I thought I'd let you know that this is a picture I took from my front yard. Kind of a nice view don't you think?

Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

Today is the winter solstice. That is the shortest day of the year. Even though this is technically the first day of winter I look at it as the point at which the days begin to get longer. I think Sarah's Celtic heritage is beginning to surface because she decided to have a winter solstice party. Sounds a bit pagan to me but they seem to be having fun. When I last counted there were about fourteen kids in the other room playing guitar hero and they are very loud. They actually look much like I would imagine the Celts looked as they were dancing around a bon fire about eight hundred years ago.

On a more solemn note tonight was the viewing for Norb. They had to wait until now because Norb's son Chad is stationed in Germany with the Marines and he couldn't get home until this weekend. After the viewing they had a Rosary which was a new experience for me. Tomorrow is the funeral. I'm still having a hard time getting used to the idea of him being gone. There's been a couple of times at work when the thought came to me, "I need to go talk to Norb about this". I'll never be able to do that again. How sad.

One glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

Alycia called me today to tell me that there was a lunar eclipse tonight. Later tonight Brandon called me to make sure I knew about it. I was very excited to watch it. What is unique about this eclipse is that it is the first time since 1638 that there has been a lunar eclipse during the winter solstice (which also happens tonight). Unfortunately California is currently experiencing the worst storm that it has seen in more than five years. By the time it's all over we expect some area's to get nearly a foot of rain. For a city that only gets ten inches of rain in an average year that's quite unusual. What this all boils down to is that I can't see the moon tonight. That makes me very sad but at least I won't have to get up at 3:00. Instead what I did was search the internet for a camera that is looking at the moon. I finally found one and as of 11:00 pm Pacific time this is what the moon looked like. At least this is what it would look like if I could see it. It is supposed to be fully covered at 3:00 AM eastern time or at midnight here. Since I can't actually see the moon I think I'm going to go to bed and look at a picture of it in the morning.

OK - so I didn't make it to bed right away. Here is the eclipse at 11:30. Now I am going to bed for real.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Almost Christmas

I haven't written much over the last couple of weeks so I thought I'd take just a minute and bring my life up to date. Work has been very busy but quite rewarding. We're making good progress and this week we hit a very significant milestone.

Monday Brandon called and begged for the calvary to come to the rescue. Apparently his entire family was sick.  he had been throwing up all night and now Serene was sick and the girls were coming down with it as well. It was finals week for Brandon and while he was on the mend he knew he wouldn't be able to be there for the rest of his family. Lisa was hesitant to go because it was also Sarah's last week of school too but we assured her that we'd be fine. So Lisa piled into the van and headed north. When she got to Brandons house Serene was laying on the bathroom floor next to the toilet emptying the contents of her stomach. It sounds very sad. While there the girls also got sick and on Wednesday it looked like everyone was on the mend so Lisa came home. That night Lisa got sick and emptied her lunch into an ice cream bucket. I made sure that I didn't touch her or anything that she touched because I did not want to be puking. It looks like I may have avoided it.

Last week we got our Christmas tree. As always, I launched the Star Fleet. I always look forward to hanging my Star Trek Space Ships on the Christmas tree.

A week ago last Friday a high school friend of Lisa's came to visit us. We haven't seen him for thirty years but last year they hooked up on Facebook. We walked Christmas card lane which is famous in San Diego for their Christmas decorations. I especially like the train sets.

Today was our Christmas program at church. Lisa, Sarah and I are all in the choir and on the Sunday before Christmas the program usually consists of the choir singing a lot of real cool songs along with a few readings. I love the songs we sang this year.

 I know this posting is very disjointed but that is how the last couple of weeks of my life feels. I can't believe Christmas is this week. I'm very excited.

========= trivia =========
In and on our bodies we have ten times more bacteria than our bodies have cells. We are made of 10 trillion cells but we have 100 trillion bacteria.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Last week I went to ride my bike to work. I pulled it out of the garage and as I twisted the throttle to head up our hill the front wheel left my bike. I was stunned. It broke the forks right off my bike. After a little bit of research I learned that you shouldn't use an electric front wheel with aluminum forks. They are too weak. You should only use steel forks. As it happens we've had an old steel bike hanging around for some time. You can tell it is steel from the rust. I switched the wheel and accessories over to the steel bike and today I made the maiden voyage. Everything functioned well going into work and back again until I was about half way home. I was cruising down Hillary street right in the middle of very heavy traffic in front of some middle school. As I was negotiating around the traffic jam I was quite surprised to find myself flying over the handle bars. I'm not sure how I managed it but I hit the pavement and rolled and as far as I could tell I was completely unscathed. My poor bike was another story. Batteries were scattered all over the road, I noticed some broken plastic reflector pieces, my fork and seat were all twisted around and my poor front tire (with the motor) was no longer with my bike. Traffic was stalled waiting for me to drag the wreckage to the side of the road and several people asked if I was alright. It was very embarrassing but it must have looked pretty cool. I assured everyone I was OK and waved them on. I think I could have reassembled the bike but I didn't have a wrench so I called Lisa. Unfortunately she was a good hour from getting me so Sarah called her friend Taylor Peterson (one of my former scouts) to come and get me. It was hours later before I realized that I have removed a small amount of skin from my left knee (the skin on my right knee is only now fully regrown) and my left wrist is starting to throb.

I'm wondering if this electric bike is going to be more trouble than it is worth.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


I'm not sure when I first met Norb, it seems like I've just always known him. I probably first met him in the spring of 1985 shortly after I started working at Global. Back then the thermoelectric conference was always held in Arlington, Texas in the spring. Norb managed the thermoelectric group at General Atomics and it was right about then that General Atomics closed their thermoelectric group and Norb, along with two of his friends (Jack Bass and Bob Campana) started Electro Technology which later became Hi-Z Technology (but that is another story for another day). I remember that Hi-Z presented at one of those first conferences and I was fascinated with their technology. I liked Norb as soon as I met him and back then I never dreamed that we'd become as close as we have. I didn't really know Norb too well until 1992 when we started talking on the phone rather regularly. I could tell he wanted to hire me but he also wanted to get to know me better before he made me an offer so we talked on the phone quite regularly for several months. We talked about everything, not just technical stuff. Finally Norb made me an offer that I couldn't refuse and I packed up my family and hauled them off to San Diego. That is when I got to know Norb probably as well as I know my own wife. I think we have spent more time together than my wife and I have.

Norb was my mentor. Our degrees were in the same field but he had decades more experience than I did. We complemented each other well because I had a lot of experience in one area of thermoelectrics and most of his experience was in another field of thermoelectrics. We taught each other a lot but he taught me much more than I could ever have taught him. I owe him more than I could hope to repay. My career that I love dearly is largely due to working with Norb. Even after I left Hi-Z I still stopped by nearly every week for a few hours in the evening. I helped where I could but my favorite evenings were when we would just sit and talk. We talked about Hi-Z. We talked about proposals that he was working on and we talked about the projects that they had going. We even talked about families and politics and religion. Norb was a very devout Catholic and he loved to talk about everything to do with religion. He lived his relgion too. When you first meet Norb you may think he's a grumpy old man but I've seen him perform countless acts of charity all done in secret. The only reason I've seen them is because I was told by the person who received the charity. Even though we belong to different churches we agree on just about everything and our few differences were never a problem.

I am so glad that I was able to return to Hi-Z when I did. It was like I'd never left and my return was very timely. I was able to be a part of an exciting time at Hi-Z and they were just starting a project that was well suited to my background.

Not long before I returned to Hi-Z doctors found a tumor on one of Norbs kidneys. The kidney was removed and everything looked fine. Unfortunately this last summer they noticed that a few tumors were growing on Norbs abdominal wall so they went back in and took those out. That surgery appeared to go well but I've never seen Norb so sick. He'd undergone surgeries before but he always bounced back quickly. This time he didn't. He did gradually improve but it was a long hard process. In the fall however the doctors noticed that some tumors were already coming back. This time they decided that surgery was no longer an appropriate option. They finally decided to go with some form of chemotherapy. Within two days after starting the chemo Norb had a very bad reaction. He was delirious and weak and didn't recognize anyone. I went to visit Norb at least once a week and he looked very bad. I expected we'd lose him then but the treatments were immediately stopped and Norb slowly returned to us. he recognized me again but sometimes his comments were just gibberish. Slowly however he improved and was almost normal. He would call into work and contribute to the discussions and even though he'd make the occasional remark that was a bit weird, it was good to have him back.

The Friday after Thanksgiving Norb went home. The following Tuesday (four days ago) we even saw Norb at Jacks birthday party. He didn't look too good but compared to what he had been it was a big improvement and it was great to see him out. Wednesday he was having trouble breathing and they had to take him back to the hospital. It turned out that he had water on his lungs. Thursday night at 10:30 Norb passed away. It doesn't seem possible that someone who has been such a huge part of my life is gone. I always knew that Norb would work right up to the day he died. It was the way he wanted it. It just all happened so fast. I had hoped that he would be able to go home and spend a few months with his family before he went but it wasn't to be. My prayers are with his wife and kids. I am a better person for having known Norb.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


How sad it was today. I came home from work and the house was empty. No one was home. It was also deathly silent. It has been very noisy in this house for nearly two weeks. The other day Justin called here for Kira. Kira and her boys were out with Lisa at the time and the first thing Justin said was, "Why is it so quiet there?". He said, "every time I call there it is so loud."
Alycia and Trevor left Saturday, Ben and Sharley left Sunday early afternoon and Brandon and Serene left Sunday late. Kira and her boys left this morning so now every one is gone and it is back to our lonely lives.

As much as I miss everyone though I do have to admit that as I was was sitting on the couch this evening eating my pickle sandwich I really did enjoy the silence.

Lisa had all kinds of fun activities planned for while the kids were here but as always happens when you get more than ten people in one house things don't always go as planned. We did take all of the kids (and especially grandkids) to see "Tangled" on Friday. What a great movie. I know it is an animated movie for children but I still really enjoyed it. I also think Rapunzel has to be the prettiest animated girl I've ever seen.
One night I went with Kira and Sarah and the boys to the pool. Kira has a water proof camera that I used to get some pictures. I'm going to have to get myself one of those. I think this is probably the first picture of myself while underwater.

Saturday we went to the Mormon Battalion visitors center. We did take the family there in the spring before Alex left on his mission but Serene, myself, Ben and Sharley hadn't been there before so Brandon, Mom and Sarah got to see it a second time. It is very good and certainly worth seeing twice.

Monday Lisa took Kira and the boys up to see Pepperdine (Brandon's stomping grounds). It must be about the most beautiful campus on earth. On the way home they stopped to see Ben and Sharley's place.

So now, at least for a week or two, things are back to normal. I will be pulling out the Christmas ornaments this weekend. How fun.

The state of California has a population of 38,000,000 but only 200,000 of them pay over half of all the taxes. That means 0.5% of the people pay 50% of the taxes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Bowl

In our ward Thanksgiving Day means Turkey Bowl. We've done this every Thanksgiving since the boys were very little. At first I wasn't much of a fan but after a few years I found myself looking forward to it. Alex used to make it a point to always make sure I got a touch down so this year while he was not there for the first time I still managed a touch down. Rick Danes made a point of making sure I had a shot at quarter backing and he even had me kick off once. This year Alycia came along to watch and she took pictures. I don't think we've ever had pictures of the Turkey Bowl before. In the first picture you can see me just as I threw a completion. I did quite well if I have to say so myself. In the second picture I'm kicking the ball. It was a very good kick too. They split the teams with odd birth months on one team and even birth months on the other. That put Ben and I on one team and poor Trevor got stuck on the losing team. Ben made about seven interceptions and a ton of touch downs. I even threw a pass to Taylor Wight who ran it for a touch down. Trevor also played well.

After a few hours of football we all came home to a huge turkey dinner. Unfortunately Brandon
and Serene and their girls were at Serenes relatives for dinner so we didn't have them here but we still had a dozen people here.
We invited the missionaries over so we had:
Elder Moses
Elder Tsang
Of course no family get together would be complete if we didn't get Pat over and play Settlers of Catan. We also invited Frank over to play with us.

After sitting around the house for a few hours and letting the turkey settle in we decided to all go and watch the latest Harry Potter movie. It was a very good movie. Brandon and Serene arrived about the time we got home from the movie.
We were going to wait from them to get here before we went but we also wanted to see "Tangled". Alycia and Trevor had to leave Saturday so we decided to see Harry Potter today (Thursday), Tangled on Friday and then we could baby sit for Brandon and Serene so they could have a date on Saturday. We then came home and played into the night. I love it when my kids come home.

If you ask an astronaut what they believe the biggest challenge in space flight is they will likely admit it is the smell. As one person described it, imagine three guys who think "pull my finger" is funny, in a car with the windows rolled up. One astronaut described it like living in a porta potty.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Electric Bike

Several years ago for fathers day I bought myself a kit to convert a bike to be electric powered. The problem is that I cheaped out and didn't get a battery to go with it. I figured since I was the battery guy at Kyocera I could make my own battery. It was actually a good idea but to make a battery that was the right capacity using cell phone batteries would take a hundred or so cells which would include a lot of welding (which we weren't really set up to do) and then I would have to build a custom protection circuit for it so it wouldn't blow up. This meant that my electric motor and motor controller just sat there for a very long time. Finally I got tired of looking at it in the corner of my bedroom and last spring I sat down and ordered some gel cells on-line. When the gel cells came in one had a big crack in it but it took another three months before I actually got a box suitable to hold the batteries in. When I finally tried it all out it worked but the motor kept cutting out. I finally figured out that the damaged battery had a high self discharge rate and was causing a low voltage. I called up the people I bought the battery from and they wouldn't take it back so I negotiated a discount on a replacement battery. Unfortunately they didn't have any batteries in stock. I think they were lying to me and just didn't want to give me a new battery. I asked them to let me know when the batteries came in but of course I've heard nothing from them. I finally got tired of waiting for them so a couple of weeks ago I just bought myself a battery here in town so now I was ready to go. Well as I was pumping up my tire I noticed that I had two broken spokes. Since the motor and the batteries are both very heavy I decided that I shouldn't ride on broken spokes so I stopped at the local bike shop and bought me some spokes and a new tire. When I sat down to replace my spokes I realized that I had to take my sprocket off to replace the spokes but I didn't have the right tool. I finally broke down and took the whole wheel in to the bike shop and had them do it for me. A few hours later I got a call from the bike shop telling me that he broke two more spokes trying to fix up my wheel and that I just needed a complete new wheel.

Well it's cost a lot more than I was planning but yesterday I rode my newly converted electric bike to work. I run's like a charm and I rode it again today. The amazing thing is that I can ride this bike in about the same time it takes me to drive in traffic. I'm actually faster than traffic if it is bad. Without the motor I can ride in an hour but with the motor I can be there in half an hour. I love it. The best part is, if I drive it costs me about $5.00 in gas ($7.50 if you include taxes, insurance and depreciation on the car). If I ride my bike it takes about $0.03 of electricity. How do you like that?

Most people trust a scientist more than they trust other people.

Monday, November 22, 2010

They're Starting to Arrive

Things are getting pretty busy around here and I'm afraid if I don't take a minute now and bring things up to date I may not get to it until next week. The excitement all started on Friday. Kira flew into town in the afternoon with her two boys and then they went from the airport to the train station and picked up Ben. Unfortunately Justin had to stay home and work and Sharley has classes still. Ben is here for the week but he came down this weekend so he could be Pat's date at his sisters wedding. They make quite a motley pair don't you think.

Saturday Ben headed off with Pat for the wedding and we didn't see him again until Sunday morning. From all accounts he had a wonderful time. Ben is only afraid that Pat's relatives will think he was drunk. Everyone else was drunk and Ben was acting so crazy that some people may have thought he was as well.

Evan really wanted to see Tom eat so we fed Tom on Saturday. Kira was expecting some sort of reaction from Evan when Tom struck the mouse but Evan's calmly asked if the "Rat" was dead.

While we're all excited to have Kira here for Thanksgiving she didn't actually come down to see us. Kira's childhood friend that we've called one of our daughters had a baby last week. It is very exciting to see Mandy with little Conner.

Today was another exciting event for Kira and Ben. Kira got her masters degree in music performance (Oboe) at the university of Florida while Justin was getting his Dentist degree. The years they were at the U of F kind of turned them into Gator fans. Of all the football players Kira especially fell in love with Tim Tebow. Of course this means that when Tebow went to the Denver Bronco's so did Kira's loyalties. This of course was tough for Ben to accept because he is a very loyal Chargers fan.

When Kira finalized her plans to come to San Diego Justin bought her two tickets to the Chargers / Bronco game which was today. Kira asked Ben to go to the game with her. He was nearly in tears with excitement when she asked him. This morning when Ben got up the first thing he wanted to do was head down to the Stadium. Kira held him off until three this afternoon (the game didn't start until 5:30) but amazingly enough when they got to the stadium parking was already sold out. Amazing. There are a lot of people who wanted to see that game.

We've been a bit depressed this year because this is the year that our kids all go to the in-laws. Christmas morning is going to be just Lisa, Sarah and I. What we didn't realize was that everyone will be here for Thanksgiving. With the exception of Alex of course. I'm very excited. Ben and Kira got here Friday without their spouses. Alycia and Trevor will be getting here Wednesday and Sharley will be arriving either Tuesday or
Wednesday depending on how her schedule goes. Brandon and his girls will get here Thursday afternoon. I'm so excited, I love it when the house gets full.

In football, if a team doesn't gain yards on their first down they are seven times more likely to turn the ball over during their possession.