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.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Baja 1,000

Today is the Baja 1,000. If it is possible that you’ve never heard of this race before let me explain. First of all the Baja Peninsula forms the western shore of the Sea of Cortez and extends from San Diego to Cabo san Lucas. It is over 1,000 miles long and is mostly very barren and dry dessert. Some one at some point decided it would be fun to have a race from Ensenada (just south of Tijuana) to La Paz which is just north of Cabo San Lucas. Interestingly, La Paz is just across the sea from Culiacon which is where Brandon’s mission office was so these guys are racing essentially from San Diego to Culiacon.

There are very few rules in the Baja 1,000. They ride on surface streets; they have to dodge regular cars, people, cattle and pot holes. The roads are lined with spectators who stand right on the edge of the road and sometimes out into the road. I believe they have more injuries to spectators than they do to the contestants. They have different classes for motorcycles, quads, volkswagons but for the most part you can enter anything you want and there is a place for it. Some cars cost millions of dollars and others are stock volkswagons. It is one very exciting race and while I have no desire to enter, I love the idea of a no holds barred race. I’m watching live updates on my computer. It started this morning and runs through the night and I don’t think the last guy pulls in for a day or two. The first guys in are always the motobikes. Enjoy the video.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


As I've mention many times I've started running again but I'm running the barefoot way. No, I'm not actually running barefoot, I'm just making sure I don't land on my heels. That is when all the damage happens to the knees and hips. The problem is that when you land on the balls of your feet (like our bodies were designed to do) you use a whole lot of muscles that don't normally get used. Every thing you read about this warns you to start slowly and allow those muscles to build up. Of course I've always been the type to dive right in when I wanted to do something and so when I started running I started at three miles. The first time I ran I felt great but the next day there was a nagging pain in my heel. The second time the pain was worse and then this week I started feeling the pain as I was running. By the time I finished my cool down I was limping and the next morning I could hardly walk. I decided to check out what all the ligaments are in your foot and if you look at the picture I've drawn an arrow to the one that I'm definitely feeling. I don't know what it's called but he's sure complaining about being worked after many years of under utilization. I think I'm going to have to back off and get into this running thing more gradually.

Most mammals can only breath once for every step that it takes while running. Man is the only animal that can breathe faster than his running pace.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Greatest Threat to America

I've attempted on several occasions to articulate my feelings when it comes the the United States of America. I just received this from a friend and I think this guy did an excellent job of describing the greatest threat to America. This is required viewing for my children. The rest of you might enjoy it as well.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Test Station

When we make a new material or device at work we need to test it. This can be tricky at times because most of the materials can't be exposed to air. This is a picture of one of our test stations. The entire test is enclosed in a bell jar to keep it away from air. We pump out all of the air and back fill it with Argon and a smidgen of Hydrogen. The glowing red hot thing in the middle is an electrically heated piece of Molybdenum (lovingly referred to as Molly for short). To the right of the heater you may see another red hot strip of metal foil. This is a piece of titanium that is electrically heated. We call this a "getter" because hot titanium will react with any stray oxygen particle and remove it from the atmosphere. All the other wires and tubes are electrical probes and thermocouples to measure voltage drops and temperatures. There are also some water cooling lines. Under all of this we have a pneumatic cylinder that can load our sample up to a few hundred pounds of force. All in all it is a remarkable device and if I do say so myself, I think it looks kind of cool.

A mere 2% drop in body water (that can happen without you even feeling thirsty) can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page. The first thing I do every morning when I walk in my office is drink a half liter of water.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Hartley's Comet

Five years ago a probe operated by JPL fired a projectile into a comet and took pictures of the results. It was actually a bit disappointing to watch because the resulting plume was so bright in the sunlight that it blinded the camera and all we saw was a white screen. I guess they learned a lot from the analysis of that plume but to me it is still amazing that we can launch a rocket from here and hit a bulls eye several million miles away. I thought that was the end of "Deep Impact" (that was the name of the probe) so imagine my excitement when I heard that this morning the probe came within a few hundred miles of yet another comet called Hartley's comet. The probe was actually headed for another comet named 85P/Boethin but that comet suddenly disappeared one day. They figure it must have broken up. They then redirected the probe towards this comet. The comet had such an erratic and unpredictable orbit that they had to put it on autopilot and let it home in on the brightest object around (not counting the sun of course). It did a pretty good job don't you think? Hartley's comet is about 1.35 miles across and is quite small as far as comets go.

More than 40,000 tons of matter enters earths atmosphere every year. Most of that matter is in the form of small particles less than a few millimeters in diameter.

Monday, November 01, 2010


The other day I was talking to Alycia and she told me that she's decided that she's going to run the Rock and Roll marathon. The Rock and Roll marathon is sometime in the spring here in San Diego. Since I'm still all psych'd up from reading "Born to Run" I decided that I'd really like to run a marathon before I die. Perhaps it'll be the day I die but I'd still like to run one. I told her to count me in but the problem I have is time. I'm not afraid of running 26 miles (OK, maybe just a little) but I just don't have the time to train properly. I finally came across an idea that just might work. I work 8 miles from home so if I just run home from work two or three days a week that'd go a long way toward training for a marathon. Well today was my first day. I figured I should start slowly so I actually drove my truck part way home and then parked it on a side street and ran the last three miles. So there I am running down Black Mountain road but it is dark and the cars are coming towards me with their lights on and I'm completely blinded. I honestly couldn't even tell if I was on the side walk for sure. Just as I'm wondering if I should actually stop and walk I hit an uneven sidewalk block and there I am flat on my belly in the middle of the sidewalk. It happened so fast I'm surprised I got my hands out in front of me in time. I just laid there for a moment evaluating the damage I had done to my body and decided it was minor so I got up and ran the rest of the way home. As I started to cool down I realized that my knee really did kind of hurt and upon closer examination I found that I'd removed much of my epidermis. It's hard to see in the picture but you might also notice a decent bruise forming on my left knee as well. I really don't want to run with a light but I've got to figure out some way to deal with those car lights.

A man can run farther than any other animal on earth. This is largely possible because we sweat more than any other animal on earth and therefor we are able to remain cool.