Monday, October 30, 2006

The finest German Engineering

Time to get bloggin' again.
I've been working at Bank of America, keeping those servers humming. We are also putting in a fiber backbone for a new fire alarm system. Why they need that much bandwith for a fire alarm is beyond me, but they have plenty of money. It's not a bad job, but it does have it's pitfalls. Since the Villa Park is considered a "critical" facility, we are subject to freezes. Simply put, they don't want anyone working in a computer room while there is any possibility that a critical system could fail and there would be no redundancy. That means if they take a system down in say San Francisco, we can't work in Richmond. Apparently they have something going on because practically the whole months of October, November, and December are under a freeze. Which brings me to the title of this post.

For the past two weeks, I've been working at Hauni Maschinebau AG. They build high speed cigarette machines for the tobacco industry. They build them from scratch. This is the first time I have ever witnessed German engineering firsthand. The first thing we were told is to take all of our tools off of the job. They are not up to "specification". They then proceeded to provide each electrician with a rolling drawered tool chest filled with the finest tools I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Willy Hahn screwdrivers including hex, torx and precision phillips and slots. Blackhawk stubby ratcheting wrench sets. A variety of metric crimp tools. Swedish made diagonal cutters, and the finest pliers in the business, good old American made Kleins. Of course we need metric measuring tools and an 18v cordless Dewalt drill. The cool thing is they just keep bringing them, everyday we get something new.

I've never been a big fan of metric blueprints. For an American, they can be a little hard to figure out at first. I have to admit though that once you figure them out, they make a hell of a lot more sense. They are just more logical in layout and pretty easy to follow once you get it. The control panels we are building are a thing of beauty. While they aren't very roomy and can be a little difficult, they are laid out to perfection in their use of space. Every plug, jack, and device is well thought out in placement and function. I have always enjoyed this type of work and hope that they can keep us busy through the holidays.
Auf Wiedersehen.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yeah, Baby!

My kind of Fridge!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Bike Virginia 2006- Day 3, 4 & 5

Lets get caught up.

The weather did not look too promising on Day 3, so I decided to bag the rides and hang out at Tent City in Roanoke Rapids. We stayed at the T.J. Davis Aquatic Center, a nice facility for a small town with athletic fields, two olympic size pools-one indoor one outdoor, beach volleyball courts and all surrounded by a picturesque park.
The morning was not too bad, I was able to read quite a few chapters of "A Salty Piece of Land", pure summer escapism by Mr. Jimmy Buffet. The showers chased me away from the pool about every hour, and became progressively more intense as the day wore on. In fact they got so bad, that me and Jimmy headed for Ruby Tuesdays for tall Killian's and a check of the Weather Channel. After a few schooners and a nasty looking Doppler radar screen, I decided camping was not an option, so once again I headed to base camp at the lake. Barb was staying there all week and fed me some delicious spaghetti.

Day 4 looked like more of the same, but I had always wanted to visit Halifax, NC, so I was riding rain or not. Being somewhat of a history buff, I wanted to see the town where the idea of independence from England was born. Halifax was quite the place in the late 1700's. Where most towns were lucky to have one tavern, it had as many as thirteen. It was in these taverns that the well-to-do planters and merchants would hoist a few and curse the King. In 1776, North Carolina's Fourth Provincial Congress met there and the result was the Halifax Resolves, a document that led to the Declaration of Independence.

Many of the historic buildings have been restored, and there is a very nice Visitors Center with a short film that tells the story of the town. Halifax remained an important commerce and cultural center until the 1830's when the railroad bypassed the town, choosing Weldon instead. Weldon then had both a navigable river and the railroad and prospered until it was destroyed during the Civil War. The Petersburg-Weldon railroad was a favorite target of Union raiders during the Siege of Petersburg.
All in all, a nice little 50 mile loop, and I beat the rain back to Tent City although I really had to hoof it through Weldon. Others weren't so lucky and had to deal with flash floods. Guess where I spent the night.

Day 5 started with beautiful blue skies for the trip back to South Hill. Since the route was so close to the Lake house, I just took off from there that morning over my much travelled roads up to the Valentines Post Office. This was the first rest stop of the day and had the distinction of hosting a wedding. This was the second wedding I can remember on Bike Virginia, the first being at the Chateau Morrisette winery during the grueling Southwest Virginia Odyssey. It was also the second wedding I have attended at the Valentines Post Office. I was out doing a solo ride at the Lake several years ago and I had a Great Peanut Tour jersey on. Next thing I know a car pulls up along side me and rolls down the window. I figured it was someone lost and needing directions. Then I recognized a familiar face, Bobby Wrenn, the organizer of the Great Peanut Tour and an ordained minister. He asked where I was headed, and if I would be interested in heading up to Valentines as he was marrying a couple of cyclists there. I said "why not?" So this couple rides in from VA Beach on seperate cycles, gets hitched, jumps on a tandem, and heads back to VA Beach. I get back to the house and Lisa wants to know what took me so long. It took some convincing to make her believe that I really had attended a wedding. Which brings us to this one.

On June 28th, 2006, Sandy Criswell tied the knot with Steve Jakubowski at the Valentines Post Office on Day 5 of Bike Virginia. I wish the happy couple well. I rode with the group down to Gasburg, then peeled off to finish the day with my regular Lizzard Creek circuit. Got back to the Lake house and picked up a paint brush. We got the entire front and high side done before I dove into a cooler full of Yuenglings. Thus endeth BVA 2006.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bike Virginia 2006- Day 2

After some intense rain during the night, I rejoined Bike Virginia in Emporia. Found a great parking spot at Greensville County High School and decided to do the forty mile loop that added the requisite mileage for a century from South Hill. It was a beautiful ride over some familiar roads for me. We did go to a little town east of Emporia that I had never visited, Grizzard, VA. Not a whole lot there, but I did find this old Esso station. After that, there were rest stops in Adams Grove and Little Texas, both familiar stops from the Great Peanut Tour. The route took us down Low Ground Road, undoubtably the flattest road in Virginia. Upon arriving back in Emporia, I decided to brave the elements and camped that night. We got some rain, not too bad and my Eureka tent performed beautifully, keeping me dry and comfortable. I left Emporia the next morning, and after checking in at the lake house, headed over to the next host town, Roanoke Rapids, NC.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bike Virginia 2006- Day 1

The air was thick as soup when we departed Park View HS on our first day. We rode through some tobacco fields on our way to Boydton, VA. I had forgotten how beautifully manicured they are. Boydton was a cool old town. The Boydton-Petersburg Plank Road was a very important supply route before the railroads. It remained an important road for troop movements during the Civil War. The Boydton Tavern dates back to 1790 and there are 183 historic buildings there. I would like to go back and explore some more.

From Boydton, we headed south to our lunch stop at the Buggs Island Dam (proper name is John H. Kerr dam, but no one from Virginia calls it Kerr Lake, as the Carolinians do.} A make your own sandwich thing with various salads and sweets. Not bad and free! All the lunches on the ride are free this year. After lunch we rode across the dam. The route monitor was sick of all the dam jokes. "Where's the dam lunch?, Another dam line, enjoy your dam ride, etc."

From the dam we rode east on the old Jerusalem Rd before turning north on Old HWY One to cross the Roanoke River and up to our last rest stop at Smiths Crossroads. This stop had a cool theme. Every stop tries to be special in some way, and this one was home to some Parrotheads. Palm trees, girls in grass skirts, everything but the margaritas. From there a short jaunt back to South Hill. 57 miles total.

When I got back to the truck, I turned on the NOAA weather radio and the forecast convinced me that camping was out for the night. I packed up and headed for the dry, air conditioned comfort of the lake house. What an intense rain, at least an inch per hour, and it rained for two solid hours. There will be some soggy sleeping bags. I glad mine is not one of them.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Story from Grist Magazine

I thought you might be interested in this feature in Grist Magazine:

Labor Gains, by Amanda Griscom Little. New green/labor alliance brings Sierra Club and Steelworkers together.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Philly in Torino

I guess I am lucky. I have four teams I can pull for in Men's Hockey at Torino. USA, Canada, Sweden and Finland. Why, you ask? Because they all have members of the Philadelphia Flyers!

From the Flyers website:

The following Flyers will be competing in the 2006 Winter Olympics:

Robert Esche - USA Wearing the Stars and Stripes…
• Played for U.S. team at 1995 Under-18 Air Canada Pacific Cup in Japan.
• Was spare goaltender on U.S. team that won the silver medal at 1997 World Junior Championships. Also played at 1998 WJC.
• Played two games at 2000 World Championship. Made 44 saves in 3–0 win over Russia.
• His 2.17 goals-against average in six games ranked 8th at 2001 World Championship. USA was fourth for its best finish at the time.
• Was top goaltender on U.S. team at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Lists this as his greatest international hockey experience.
Olympic Connections…
• Was invited to summer training camp for U.S. team prior to 2002 Olympics.
• His most memorable hockey game watched was Canada vs. USA in the gold medal final at Salt Lake City.

Peter Forsberg - SWEDEN Playing for Sweden…
• Ranked second in scoring (3-8-11) at the 1992 World Junior Championship.
• Named Best Forward at the 1993 World Junior Championship. Is the all time assists (32) and points (42) leader in World Junior history.
• Tied for the tournament scoring lead (6-5-11) at the 1998 World Championship.
Olympic Connections…
• Is competing at his third Winter Olympic Games (1994, 1998).
• He is one of three players on the 2006 Swedish team that were part of the gold medal-winning 1994 team.
• In addition to scoring the gold medal-winning goal against Canada at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, he was one of six players tied for third in scoring.
• Missed the 2002 Salt Lake City games while sitting out the 2001–02 regular season to recover from surgery.

Simon Gagne - CANADA Wearing the Maple Leaf…
• Won gold medal with Canadian Under-18 team at 1997 Three Nations tournament.
• Won silver medal at 1999 World Junior Championship. Led tournament with 7 goals. Scored 4 goals in one game to tie a Team Canada record set by Mario Lemieux in 1983.
• Played for Canadian team that won 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
• Played at the World Championship for the first time in 2005. Finished third in tournament scoring (3-7-10) behind Joe Thornton and Rick Nash.
• Favorite international hockey rule is the big ice “because there’s more space and more time to make the play.”
Olympic Connections…
• Is at his second straight Olympics.
• Lists Canada’s gold medal at Salt Lake City as his favorite international hockey moment.

Derian Hatcher - USA
Wearing the Stars and Stripes…
• Participated in 1990 and 1991 U.S. Olympic Festivals.
• First represented his country at the 1993 World Championship.
• His greatest international experience is winning the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. Led tournament defensemen with 3 goals.
• Was named to original U.S. roster for 2004 World Cup of Hockey but withdrew prior to tournament.
• Lists the big ice surface and the shootout as his favorite rules in international hockey.
Olympic Connections…
• Is competing at his second Olympic Games. (1998).
• Was invited to summer training camp for U.S. team prior to 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Mike Knuble - USA
Wearing the Stars and Stripes…
• First represented the United States at the 1995 World Championship.“It was something I had
never done and I was thrilled to finally play for the USA.”
• Playing against the gold medal-winning Czech Republic at the 2005 World Championship is his greatest international hockey experience.
• He tied fellow 2006 U.S. Olympians Doug Weight and Erik Cole and Brett Hauer for the team lead in points (6) at the 2005 World Championship.
Olympic Connections…
• The most memorable hockey game he watched was the 1980 Olympics, USA vs. Russia “because I was a kid and remember exactly where I was to watch it.”
• Other Olympic sports of interest are skiing and gymnastics at the Summer Games.

Antero Niittymaki - FINLAND Playing for Finland…
• His first international tournament was the 1997 World Under-17 Challenge.
• Played at the 1998 European Junior Championship.
• Played at the 2000 World Junior Championship. Other 2006 Olympic netminders to appear at that tournament were Rick DiPietro of the USA and Ilya Bryzgalov of Russia. Teammates included fellow 2006 Finnish Olympians Ossi Vaananen and Antti Miettinen.
Olympic Connections…
• Is making his Olympic debut.