Monday, July 31, 2006

That's the Sweat of the Blues Explosion

The forecast calls for record highs this week, matching the temperatures from my first summer in DC. I do not have fond memories of the walks from my internship at NAVSEA to the Navy Yard Metro in SE. It was only a few blocks, but by the time we got back to our trailer at CUA, we would have sweat right through our clothes. Nasty times.

Didn't follow through on many of my plans this past weekend. I did go to Jane & Ian's for a very fun little party on Saturday night. There was pirate cake, dark & stormies, and a fun crowd. And there were a few hidden connections that surfaced over the course of the evening: one of Jane's friends from HS shared an office at Tech with my good friend Tyson while they were working on their post-grad degrees. And Jane's new coworker Megan was a big Bob Ballard fangirl (as I was a fanboy) while she was growing up, and knew one of the cadets I knew once upon a time at USCGA. It's a small world.

Mike Cintron called from Overseas and we caught up some. He'll be coming to town in October, apparently, so I look forward to hearing his about his adventures. Ryan also called; he and Beth are getting ready to move to their new apartment, which is exciting. This will be their 2nd place in Boston, but this one will have more than just one room, so they are stoked.

Lastly, I finally saw a movie Dad has been talking about for years, The Ruling Class. It was... interesting. Very much a product of its times, I think. I really like parts of it; any movie that features a characted named "The Electric Messiah" can't be all bad, right?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Carry on Wayward Son

or, "Boxing the Compass."

Kansas (North)

Kansas (East)

Kansas (South)

Kansas (West)

Kansas (Rock)

More photos of the Kansas City Wedding Weekend, and my side trip to Kansas, are here.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Freak Out

I'm a little upset and overstressed this morning, since I only have a few hours to finish some deliverables for work. But since I am acting as a project engineer, it's a matter of coordinating other people who actually do work, not doing it myself. But it isn't getting done, probably due to mismanagement on my part. Anyway, I'm finding it difficult to focus, and I'm apprehensive about this and a few other things besides. So, I took a moment, and instead of getting coffee (which I do not like and would not help at all), I decided to learn something new. That usually makes me feel better. So I read about LaGrange Points for a few minutes. Granted, the wikipedia entry is probably half-bogus, like so many of them are. But taking the time to try to understand the phenomenon took my mind off of work, and now I feel like I can concentrate again.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I went back to Ohio

I just had a fantastic four-day weekend traveling with my Dad and my brothers. They arrived last Tuesday, and toured DC while I worked on Wednesday. Early Thursday, we set out for my Uncle Tim's place in Kentucky. Our old skills from many long-distance driving family vacations quickly returned: we passed the time cooperating on crossword puzzles, cracking jokes, or quietly zoning out.

Kentucky was fun - our little cousins Tara and April were full of energy, and demanded a lot of attention. They were a blast, but we had to split time with them, especially April, or we would have all been worn out in a few hours.

Friday, Tim took Chris, Ryan, April, and Dad on a hike of the many natural stone arches that are near their home. I stayed behind to get some drawings done for work. Working on vacation blows. But, it had to be done to get things delivered on time.

That night, Tim and the girls hit the road with us to drive to the Elings' ancestral home in Greater Cincinnati. This time, we stopped in Florence to visit our grandparents. It's been a while since I've seen them, so that was a real treat. We ate pizza and caught everyone up with everyone else. Late, we drove into Ohio to Dad's cousin Mark's house. I guess that makes him my first cousin, once removed. Either that or second cousin. Anyway, he and his family were out of town so they let us use their house. A very cool log-cabin style place, with room for all 8 of us (Aunt Julia joined us Saturday).

Saturday, after playing catch with Ryan and Chris, the grandparents arrived with food, and were fairly closely followed by Uncle Jeff, Aunt Nancy, and cousins Nick and Nina. We ate, we laughed, we let April wear out Nick for a while. Good times continued.

Detail of Roebling suspension bridge over the Ohio

Everyone but G&G then went to the Reds Hall of Fame in Cincinnati. I got pictures of the incredible Roebling bridge over the Ohio to Kentucky, but I didn't take any pictures inside, but it was fairly slick. Especially for dyed-in-the-wool Reds fans like ourselves. Plus, it was Induction Weekend, so many past Reds greats were there, including Tom Browning, Lee May, Dave Concepcion, and Ken Griffey Senior. Weird fact: since Pete Rose is banned for life, he can't even be in the Reds Hall of Fame. This was unexpected - Rose was a god in Cincinnati - I'm surprised they didn't tell MLB to stuff it and induct him anyway.

Anyhow, after the Hall there was the game.

Chris and Dad at the game

Ryan at the game

It was a great game. The seats were ideal - good view of the whole field, out of the sun, nearby Skyline Chili stand selling outstanding coneys. We all had a really good time. Especially when the Reds came back after coughing up the lead in the 8th. They loaded the bases on walks and hit batsmen. Then a bloop to the shortstop snuck through, really should have been scored a hit and an error, allowing two to score and this one belongs to the Reds.

The Reds celebrate their victory, 3-2, over the Colorado Rockies Posted by Picasa

On Sunday we drove back to Alexandria, via Columbus to have lunch with Chris' friend from high school, Dr. Virgil Pierce. He teaches math at Ohio State. I haven't seen him in years, and I'm sure Chris was glad to catch up with him.

We had a long trip back to Alexandria, but made it without too much trouble. It was Mom's birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!), so we called. And she saw Kiefer Sutherland at a restaurant in Portland. So everybody had a big weekend, really.

[more photos here]

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Just Call Me Ric Ocasek...

...'cause this is all about the Cars.

Stella has been having some problems, lately. I can feel her brakes wearing out, the A/C is weak, and there is something... off... in her electrical system. To whit:

  • When you turn the ignition, the radio will come on, then turn off while the engine idles. Until you touch the brakes. But if you release the brake pedal, the radio turns off again.
  • The radio works fine once she's in gear.
  • If the light selector switch is on the setting that allows the high beams to stay on, rather than flash, when you click the light stalk, turning the ignition will cause a CHECK GEAR BOX light to come on at ignition. When you put her in Drive, the car goes into 2nd gear, rather than first. The higher gears work fine.
  • If you select REVERSE, there is a distressing *thunk* before the car gets into reverse gear.
  • There have been intermittent CHECK ENGINE warning lights.
Seriously: what the hell?

So, I took her out to S&S for service - I go there for any major auto work, since they have a certified Saab master mechanic on staff. They also have free loaner vehicles. Good thing, too. Stella's been there since last Thursday, and they haven't exactly figured out what is the problem. The loaner is pretty fun to drive, though.

It's a '92 900 convertible with a turbocharger. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to enjoy the recent beautiful weather, since the roof motor has been disabled. I thought it was just a case of removed fuses, but when I cadged some (spares and fog lights), it still didn't work. What a drag - it was the perfect weekend for a convertible.

Now comes the part where I look a little dim. On Sunday I was going to drive into D.C. to see a movie at the Uptown. That did not happen, since I left the parking lights on for 2 days straight. Brilliant. Unfortunately, my friends who were available to help had no jumper cables, and those with jumper cables were unavailable. The good folks at AAA hooked me up, but not in time to make the show. Oh well.

In happier car news, Liz/Betsy just got a new car, a nice Audi A4.

Note that it's even a Quattro model, as you can see from the dash badging in the 2nd picture.
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Monday, July 03, 2006

Erica Mohr, NYC

I had an unusually productive weekend the past two days. On Saturday I got up extra early to mow the lawn before it got too hot. Then I took care of a bunch of small errands, like a haircut, tuxedo measurements for Kirk's wedding in a few weeks, etc. Then I had to go in to the office for a few hours to finally put together an equipment list for a project that needs to be delivered this week. With the holiday tomorrow, I need to do whatever I can to clear the decks and get this thing over and done with. So that was kind of a drag, and because of it I couldn't go to the reopening of the Smithsonian American Art Museum like I hoped. I guess I'll try to go next weekend.

Sunday morning involved still more chores, but did bring a pleasant surprise. The potted vegetable plants in my side yard really benefitted from the recent rains - I've got like a peck or a bushel of sweet peppers, the cherry tomatoes are ripening, and there is a second cucumber. Still no watermelon, though. I picked some of the peppers and will try them tonight.

In the afternoon, I was able to drive out to Sterling to visit Amanda and Sean. They have a really nice place - very well put together. And they put on a nice barbecue since Heidi and Erica Mohr are down visiting from NYC. There were a bunch of folks there, including Angie and her fiance Sean. Good times. I was surprised when Erica Mohr said she Googled "Erica Mohr" and saw something I had written a few months back. Hmmmm... sounds a little suspect. How egotistical do you have to be to Google yourself?

At any rate, it was a really good time, I'm glad I made it out.