Archive for the ‘workbench’ Category

Old barracks

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Here’s the chow hall in the Old Hessian Barracks in Trenton, New Jersey.  Turns out the Hessians were only there for a very short time, preceded by the British and the Americans and then followed by the Americans again.  We still have it.  Seems like a very reasonable way to use military facilities – same fort, new army.  Saves a lot of trouble that way.  Great Art courtesy of the exclusive iPhone-cam and part of my famous Vacation and Workbench series.

At least I assume somebody worked on all of those benches.  Eating is work, right?

Had a great Thanksgiving weekend.  We went to visit family in Michigan.  I needed to work on Wednesday, but I left at about 2:15 and we were underway by about 2:45.  Got to LRN8’s house just a minute or two before midnight.  Pretty smooth sailing all the way.  We enjoyed Thanksgiving day, Friday, and Saturday with the family and drove home on Sunday.  A few spots of heavy traffic and the restaurants and gas stations were incredibly crowded, but we managed.  All in all, we had a nice time.

Work is busy, busy, busy!  I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for our current phase, which should end just before Christmas.  After that, it’ll be another couple of weeks of extreme busyness followed by our probable return home.  Looking forward to that!  We’ve been here a bit longer than predicted, although we always knew it could be up to a year.  It’s been a great job with wonderful people, but I think I’m finally ready to move on to the next thing.  Whatever that turns out to be.

LRN4’s website attracted a bit of high-profile attention this week.  LRN15’s mom mentioned it to some visiting bigwigs at her job with a daycare provider.  The ‘wigs were impressed and are planning to recommend it to parents of their tykes.  We’re hoping a whole lot of people start using the site.  Fortune and fame are just around the corner!

Oh, and go to her website, click on her Amazon links, and then buy something.  Anything.  She’s an Amazon Affiliate, as you know.  Or click on one of [amazon asin=B0042Z55RM&text=my Amazon links] and buy something.  I’m an Amazon Affiliate too.  We both have pretty serious financial juggernauts going on here.

Time for bed.  I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this shocking food violence news: ice-cream woman attack!

See you tomorrow.


Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Here’s an old-time scale.  Great Art taken at Greenfield Village and part of my famous Workbench and Vacation series.

Welcome to a Very Special Morrowlife Blog post.  Are you sitting down?  Okay.  It’s my one thousandth post!  That’s right – one comma zero zero zero.  A grand.  My kilopost.

Absolutely amazing.  A thousand posts without ever saying anything.  Must be some kind of record.

Anyway.  If I still have any Loyal Readers left, leave me a message of hearty congratulations.  Cash is always nice too.

Sadly, nothing happened today.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  LRN12 is here!  Yea!  She and LRN4 had an action-packed day, full of book-related activities (see LRN4’s book-related blog here) and a visit to Library Park.  LRN12 and I played restaurant, cars, balloon, and Spongebob Uno.  We also watched several Spongebob episodes.  Which I possibly enjoy more than she does.  They’re upstairs getting ready for bed now while I write this.  Then it’s lights out for the entire house.

Drove home from work today.  The train people sent me a text message in the afternoon, saying there was a wildfire burning somewhere on the route and the train would probably be delayed.  I wisely chose to drive.  I just checked their website, and the first AND second trains arrived in Lardville at 7:20 (should have been here at 5:21 and 6:21, respectively), while the third train arrived at 7:28 (a mere seven minutes late).  I would have taken the second train, so I chose . . . wisely.  Even though the traffic wasn’t exactly great, I got home shortly after 6:30.  Of course, I have to drive back tomorrow morning, which shouldn’t be too bad.  Friday mornings are usually good drives, followed by horrible drives on Friday afternoons.  Which I won’t need to worry about.

Anyway.  I’ve been thinking about the last space shuttle flight, which is currently on orbit.  A lot of people are predicting doom and gloom for American Space.  I disagree.  I was working for a NASA contractor in the 1980s.  We made expendable Atlas/Centaur launch vehicles one or two at a time, always under NASA’s direction.  NASA handled all the commercial sales and ordered our products to fulfill them.  We never built enough vehicles at a time to afford to upgrade anything until it either no longer worked or absolutely couldn’t be bought anywhere at any price.  We just kept on cranking out the same old NASA-spec launchers.

That lasted until shortly after the Challenger was lost.  NASA decided they didn’t want to be in the commercial space business anymore.  They stopped selling commercial rides on the shuttle, and they decided to turn us (and our competitors) loose.  Many (most?) people in the industry thought it would be impossible to commercialize the Atlas (also the Delta and Titan bad guys) – it was way too expensive and risky for private industry to be able to do.  Well, it turned out they were wrong.  General Dynamics invested a bunch of money to modernize the fleet and offer multiple versions, and it turned out there was a strong commercial demand that kept us building Atlases at a much faster rate than we had done with NASA.  We were able to afford to make a lot of updates – really started a program of constant upgrades that continues to this day.  GD ended up losing their shirts on us, but they eventually sold the division to Martin Marietta and wrote off the development expenses.  Without all that debt, Martin was able to turn a profit on the business.  The Delta folks lived a similar story.  Both vehicles are still flying and still being actively developed – now as a joint venture between LockMart and Boeing.

Titan was a different story.  Martin was never able to position it well for the commercial market, and they were so deep into the Government Contractor way of doing business that they couldn’t figure out what to cost to make it commercially affordable.  They eventually settled on being an Air Force contractor and flew them at a large profit until the Air Force couldn’t afford them anymore.

Anyway, my point is that I believe manned space will go the same direction as the Atlas/Delta/Titan business and its numerous newly-minted competitors.  Some of the old NASA contractors will leave the market, some will lose a bunch of money trying to stay in it and will end up selling their manned space operations to leaner operators, and some will prosper as-is.  Maybe I’ll try predicting who will do what in a later post.

When we were getting ready to go commercial, many people predicted that our customer base would evaporate without NASA to hold their hands.  They thought we’d never be able to afford the financial risk (turns out you can buy insurance!).  They thought there just weren’t enough commercial satellites out there to sustain a viable business.

I see some very distinct parallels in what people are saying about manned space.  How can we send people into orbit without NASA?  Who could afford to do that?  Where’s the commercial market?  There are only so many space-enthusiast billionaires to go around, after all.

My feeling is that the commercial manned space market will blossom exactly as the commercial unmanned space market has done over the past twenty years.  New businesses will appear that will discover novel uses for people in space, and they’ll make a profit at it.  Space tourism will become a reality.  An insurance market will develop that will help spread the risk around.  We’re already seeing an explosion in the number of launch vehicle and manned spacecraft developers.  Some of the old guard will survive – I’m hoping my company will be one of them, although they’ll need to get out of their Government Contractor mode to have a chance.

I think the golden age of space travel is right ahead of us.  What do you think?

I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this exciting Morrowlife Employment Agency job opportunity: Evil Russian Hypnotist!

See you tomorrow.

Office furniture

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Here’s a picture of my new office furniture.  Actually, I only wish it were.  It’s part of an artistic display in the office of the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Pennsylvania.  Great Art taken during our October 2005 camping trip and part of my famous Camping series.  And what the heck, let’s call it part of my famous Workbench series too.  A desk is sort of a bench.  And work gets done there.  So it’s a workbench.  Sort of.

Anyway.  Extreme short shrift.  I’ve been reading an iPhone developer book and downloading iPhone developer documentation from the Apple website and now it’s late.  I have very short evenings on weeknights.  That’s part of the price I pay for living here in beautiful Lardville.  Which I don’t regret.  But my evenings are still short.

The book I’ve been reading is on a very cool website called books24x7.  It’s a pay site, and I haven’t paid.  However, my employer has paid, and they’ve opened it up to all interested employees.  I have a huge backlog of books I plan to read, and I’ve only scratched the surface of the tip of the iceberg.  The one I’ve started reading is called Beginning iPhone 3 Development: Exploring the iPhone SDK by Dave Mark and Jeff LeMarche.  I’m impressed so far.  Time will tell.

If I end up not liking it, there are several other iPhone development titles there.  Cool.

The iPhone project continues to go well.  I’ve having a great time and really coming the like the people involved.  I believe our app is going to be extremely popular, especially once the for-pay alternative ceases to exist (which will happen, sadly, because it violates the church’s terms of service for their website).  I think it would be extremely popular anyway, as it’s free and is already as good as the alternative (which I have on my iPhone) and will become much better as time goes by.

I’m really impressed with the Church’s software development team.  They are really driven – they certainly don’t mess around.  They work hard, develop a lot of really cool things, and release very frequently.  Very impressive.  It’s really fun to be involved with them.

They’ve recently released their own IDE (integrated development environment, for my non-computer-scientist Loyal Readers).  I haven’t installed it on anything yet, but I’m planning to put it on my development Linux machine this weekend and check it out.  As I understand it, it’s Eclipse-based and focused on Java, which I’m not focused on.  But I might be encouraged.  I’m open for suggestions.  Anyway, check out the Church’s tech website!

LRN2 and I have had a quiet evening together.  We’ve been sitting around the family room playing with our laptops.  Kind of pathetic, but we like it.  LRN2’s working on his web comic and I’ve been working on my iPhone development project and am now blogging, as you might guess.

And that’s about it.  I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this shocking food violence news: sandwich down the pants!

See you tomorrow.

Drill press

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Here’s something I’d love to have – a Model T-era drill press. Great Art taken on Christmas Eve at the Sacramento automotive museum and part of both my famous Workbench and Machinery series.

Another Extreme Short Shrift evening. My brother-in-law Ken was here this evening for dinner, which was a treat, as always. He’s heading back for Las Vegas tomorrow morning.

LRN2 went to work with me today, as planned. We didn’t do a whole lot of the activities they had – pretty much just went to meetings and did normal work stuff. The one fun thing we did do was fly an airplane simulator. It was just like Flight Simulator software, but there was a simulated airplane cockpit. LRN2 thought that was cool and so did I.

Otherwise, a normal day. It was fairly sunny again after a couple of rainy days, which was nice. Should be sunny and warm for the next five days or so, after which we’re expecting rain again. It’s been an interesting spring around here – much more frequent rain than we’ve become used to. Can’t complain about it, though.

And I’ll leave you with this surprisingly good food news: chocolate saves!

See you tomorrow.

Edison’s chemicals

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Here are a few of the things that Thomas Edison discovered don’t work for making a light bulb. Picture taken this summer at Greenfield Village. Part (barely) of my famous Workbench series.

Happy Monday. Pretty good day for me. I got several things done at work. Also commuted. That pretty much covers it.

The weekend was fine. As reported earlier, Loyal Readers Numbers Five, Six, and Twelve were here. LRN6 spent pretty much two entire days working on detailing their Honda. It looks great. Really great.

LRN5 substituted for us on the piano at choir practice on Sunday and also substituted as the soprano while Loyal Reader Number Two was accompanying us on the organ. At which they both did an excellent job.

Personally, I didn’t do any detailing. Took the Suburban for its badly-needed first free car wash. It’s definitely going again this weekend. Possibly on Friday, right before I take it to pick up the trailer for its badly-needed brake job.

The trailer has electric brakes, of course, which I’ve never worked on. I’m fully confident that I can fix them, though. They ought to be at least as easy as hydraulic brakes.

I think I need new solenoids. The brakes are grabbing really badly.

On the medical front, scientists have made an important discovery that may ensure several Loyal Readers a long, happy life. Or maybe it will just seem long. For everybody else, anyway.

I noticed one other article from the front lines of medicine that might have helped Loyal Reader Number One through his recent surgery. If only we had a banjo.

Juggernaut update: $7.76. I made 17 cents today alone.

Anyway. I can’t think of any other weekend highlights right now. And it’s past time for home evening. So I’m quitting.

See you tomorrow.