Archive for January, 2006


Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Here’s the waterway they used to feed the waterwheel that powered the bellows at Hopewell Furnace. Pretty cool thing. And don’t readers One and Two look nice?

Busy day today. I’m trying to coordinate the signoff of one of my launch vehicle Interface Control Documents (along with about a ton and a half of other things) and I spent most of the day twisting arms on the phone, via email, and in person. I’m making progress, though. Strange as it may seem, I’m exhausted from the mental effort. I don’t want to think tonight. (Yeah, I know, why should tonight be different from any other night? Har har har.) Well, at least I’m home for almost all of the month of February. Gotta take my happiness where it presents itself.

Reader Number One and I visited the Beerys tonight. We’re ashamed because it’s the last day of the month, and we’ve promised ourselves to visit our Home Teaching families by the tenth. Our only excuse was that I was gone so much of the month and they were busy too. They’re a really nice family. Glad to know them.

Time for a bowl of ice cream, my new (old, actually, but I’ve never read it) Dave Barry book, and bed. A word about the Dave Barry book, though: it’s not nearly as good as his later work, which makes sense. It feels like he’s trying harder for laughs, and it also feels like he has a serious lack of good judgment. Still, I like Mr. Barry’s work in spite of what a dope he was as a younger man. Of course, he’s probably still a dope – he just learned not to show it in his work. That’ll have to do.

The blog is back

Monday, January 30th, 2006

No posts for several days! Sorry about that, dear readers. As mentioned previously, I was in Denver for a couple of days, Cocoa Beach for a couple of days, and on a Scout campout for a couple of days. How the time flies. It turns out there was plenty of high-speed internet service in Florida, but there was too little time. It’s always something.

Here’s a picture of Reader Number Two (he has very reflective eyes!) relaxing on one of the comfortable cots in the leader’s cabin at Camp Kirby, where Troop 262 spent the night on Friday before tackling the Klondike Derby on Saturday. Only it wasn’t too Klondikey, with temperatures in the 50’s on Saturday. Still, we did our best and had fun. Sadly, our numeric results were lower than last year’s, but you can’t win them all. We’ll get ’em next year. Maybe. Number Two looks a little nervous here because the two big guys on the upper bunk looked like they might be coming through at any moment.

Florida’s weather was nice. I stayed at the Cape Winds, which is right on the ocean. I like having an apartment there rather than just a hotel room for a long trip, so I’m willing to do without the Marriott points that would otherwise build up pretty fast during a launch campaign. I’m looking forward to my next campaign being here in the United States rather than some remote location. I don’t have to be away from home for as long as usual, and it will be almost like normal life! Restaurants! Stores! People! Streets! Ocean! Comfort! Not too shabby.

Time for bed. Bye.


Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Ruins. An old coal-fired iron-making furnace that never worked out financially.

No blogging the last couple of days. I was in Denver and couldn’t get the free internet service in the hotel to work the first day and got home from dinner WAY too late the second. Not much tonight either.

I’m off to Cocoa Beach tomorrow, and I frankly don’t have very high hopes for blogging from there either. I don’t think my dialup account works anymore. Well, we’ll see.

There’s ice cream downstairs. Later.

Good and bad news

Friday, January 20th, 2006

I have good news and I have bad news.

First the good news: I’m back. It was a busy week in Luxembourg, but the meeting went well, after a pretty slow start. We shortened it from three days to two and accomplished everything that needed to be accomplished. The weather was cool, with rain one day and pretty heavy fog in the mornings. The travel was as comfortable as it could have been – I traveled in first class in both directions – so I can’t complain. Okay, yes I can. It takes too long to get there.

I don’t work at hard at these meetings as I did when I was with ILS. That’s a really good thing. I can get to the hotel from dinner at 10:00 or 11:00 and read a little bit and then turn in, as opposed to working until 2:00 every night just to keep up. We don’t bring our computers overseas as a general rule, so I can’t even work on emails. I check my phone messages and return calls as needed, and then an hour or two in the evening is free. On the other hand, I don’t get that elation when the meeting is finally over like I used to. It’s still a good trade, though.

Now the bad news. I forgot my camera! I was hoping to take a few pictures to post here. Not to worry too much, though – I’ll be back there in a few weeks. This year’s travel schedule is looking to be pretty heavy, and not just for me. We have four people in our group, and it doesn’t look like we’ll all be in the office at the same time all year long. The good thing is that we have seven launches scheduled this year, so we’ll be making the company a boatload of money.

Anyway, in lieu of Germany/Luxembourg pictures, here’s Reader Number One, with a glimpse of Number Four in the mirror. As with many photos featured here, it was taken during one of last summer’s camping trips. Specifically, at the Hopewell Furnace.

I started reading The Gardener’s Handbook, by Dr. Stefan Buczacki. At least he was the “consultant editor.” It was really written by Tessa Paul and Nigel Chadwick. As you might guess from the names, it’s from England. They write a lot of good gardening books there. Anyway, I guess Dr. Buczacki is world-famous in England as a radio and TV gardening expert. I’m only on page 20, but it’s starting out fairly well as a clear, concise how-to book for beginning gardeners, which is what I expect to be pretty much permanently. The book and the spring-like warm weather we’re having are making me anxious to see our garden start growing again, and for the fish in the pond to wake up. We’re still two or three months away from that point, but I’m just about ready for it.

Another book I really enjoyed during this trip was Engineering in the Ancient World, by J. G. Landels. It’s a well-researched overview of engineering accomplishments (and a few shortcomings) in ancient Rome and Greece. It covers power generation, water supplies and pumps, cranes, catapults, and sea and land transport, along with a few words on general technological development. There are many hand-drawn illustrations that, along with the clearly written text, give the reader a clear look at the state of the art a couple thousand years ago. In many ways, their work was quite advanced and they were able to accomplish amazing things. Sadly, their knowledge and skills were not passed on to subsequent European civilizations and things got much worse before they finally got better in the last 150 years or so.

Went to Costco for dinner tonight – hot dogs, french fries, sodas, and samples. It was great!

Enough for now. See you from Denver on Monday.

Valley view

Friday, January 13th, 2006

Here’s Reader Number Two having a look at a beautiful valley here in Pennsylvania. I really enjoyed that view.

Happy birthday, Gary!

As mentioned yesterday, no blogging next week. Check back in on Monday the 23rd.