--- BLOG ---

April 2005


April 4, 2005 #

I have a back log of a few day here... so this will be pretty long. But there are a lot of pictures, so that's fun.

Mission Accomplished!!!

As of 11:30am Thursday morning,  (March 31st), I finished my project at work!!! The week before was an 80 hr week, and this week was on the same schedule, culminating in a 21 hour run to finish everything off. And I did it all without any chemical enhancements, or even any snacks to keep me going. No caffeine, no sugar, not even trail mix to munch on. I did run the battery on my iPod all the way to empty playing my techno (about 12 hours, they didn't lie), but other than that, it was all focus and discipline. I took a 2 hr nap in my office after that, and let a few people know I was done before heading to the airport. (It's not entirely done, but I met my goal of having it ready to use for verification on our coming baseline test. We can't do anything more until we use it for that... so I got it where I wanted it. The rest will be verification that it actually is done right.) That's exactly one month ahead of my initially predicted 14 month schedule ending on April 31. Fortunately I had some friends to be excited about it, because I was too tired to be excited by the time it was done.

* * *

From work I headed to the airport to fly down to Arizona to go flying with my bro Justin. I thought I would have time to head home and pack before... but that didn't happen. So I traveled with the clothes on my back, and a jacket I had in my car. It's great to live in a society of so much convenience that I can buy everything I need when I get wherever I want to go. No preparation necessary.

There was also an Air Show this weekend, so my parents and little bro Trevor also flew in. It turned out to be a good time.

My Dad and Justin doing the pre-flight inspection. They're making sure this Cessna that was built in 1975, three years before I was born, is still safe to fly. If you've ever ridden inside one of these things, it's not the crisp and fitted experience of a commercial airliner. It's more like strapping yourself into a golf cart with wings... a golf cart from a low price, low class, low budget strip of grass with flags over gopher holes type of golf course.

We flew out over the Biosphere just... We flew North for a while, and then West for a while, so it must be NW of Tucson. The total flight was about an hour fifteen.

Justin let me takeoff,  do most the flying, and try to land... right up until the last 30 ft when it became clear that I'd be lucky to hit the runway, let alone land it smoothly. It was fun when he grabbed the controls and banked us over like this. Now I want to go back and try it myself.

We went to the airplane museum there later in the day after flying. It's funny, my Dad tells the same jokes again and again, but we get out around airplanes, and he's got more flying stories than you can imagine... and he never repeats the same story twice. We'd be walking over to another airplane, or chatting about something, and then suddenly he'd light up, his hands would start banking and flying in formation, and we'd find out something we'd never heard before. It just takes a little something to trigger the memory.

Every once in a while you run across a little known stroke of mechanical genius. These old school airplanes didn't have hydraulics to control their elevator, rudder, flaps, etc. Think of the power necessary to hold your car door open against the wind when you're driving  60 down the freeway. Now multiply that by 10. That's the force it takes to move any of these fins on an airplane. Not an easy thing if all you've got is a mechanical link between your stick and your elevator. Then some genius invented a mechanical assist that uses the power of the wind to move the elevator. That little brace up top is linked to the smaller flap on the back. The pilot moves his controls to move this smaller flap. The air pressure against the little flap is transferred by the mechanical advantage of that link up top, forcing the whole elevator to move. The more wind you have flowing over that small flap, the more force you have to leverage against the structure, and resultantly move the entire flap. You put in 1 pound of steering force, and you get 100 pounds of steering force out... and it all comes from the air you're already flying through. They've stopped using it on airplanes today, but if you fly on a DC-9 anywhere, they still have this mechanism built in, but it's only a back-up. Even so... Genius.

Speaking of Genius... There's got to be something genius in that crazy looking airplane in the background. As for Trevor with his crazy looking hair in the foreground... Einstein had crazy looking hair. This has got to be my favorite pic from the trip. It would've all been worth it just for this. Just email me if you want a full size to use for your desktop.

Justin with bigger muscles than me. He'll be leaving AZ in a week to go to pilot training in Columbus, Mississippi. If he gets a fighter slot, he'll be heading out for more training in a T-38 like this one behind him.

This big bulbous C-5 is what my Dad spent a  number of years flying in the Air Force. The largest airplane in our Air Force. It looks even bigger when you're standing up next to it, and especially when you have to climb the flights of stairs to get to the cockpit.

The nose lifts up and the tail opens up to fit anything you want inside, including helicopters and other airplanes. My Dad was telling us about a time they picked up a bunch of Marines. They opened the tail and drove all their trucks onto the deck. They landed at their destination, lifted the nose, drove all the trucks out, and within a half hour were back in the air. Seamless.

This is always worth seeing. Especially after reading Skunk Works, and knowing something of what went into developing it. And people think Engineering and Art are two mutually opposed fields.

The Thunderbirds. Every little kids inspiration. Even more impressive when you've been in an airplane yourself.

This just looks aggressive. The weaponry and control systems in these Apaches are phenomenal.

The Doolittle Raid #
The B-25 is the airplane they used after Pearl Harbor to make a quick retaliation against Japan. A bomber, never intended to take off from an aircraft carrier, but they figured it out. It turns out my Dad's cousin, Melvin Gardner, was one of the pilots for the Doolittle Raid. He dropped his bombs in Japan, crash landed in China like the rest, and successfully returned to service. He flew a number of other missions, but was eventually shot down somewhere over there in the Pacific.

All these aircraft are built for a purpose. All the pilots fly them for a purpose. Either they're enjoying the liberty and freedom that others have earned for us, or they're earning liberty and freedom to pass on to others. To us who have been born in this country, in these times, freedom is something we have always experienced. Prosperity is something we have always been free to reach out and earn. To us, this foundation has been given free of charge. Sure, we have complaints about the system here and there, and we ought to; opportunity for continual improvement is part of the principle. But the foundation has been earned by those before us. If they had not earned it, we would not have it. If we do not maintain it, we will not be able to pass it on.

Freedom and liberty have not always existed in the abundance they do today. Prosperity has never existed in the abundance it does today. They have not always existed, nor do they exist entirely in the world today. They do not appear spontaneously. They must be earned, and they must be maintained. They can be neglected, and they can be taken. I will pick up the effort to ensure this foundation is maintained. Fortunately, there are many who pick up this same effort along with me. When it comes time to pay the price for the liberty we enjoy, let us remember what it is, and remember it is worth the price... however much it may hurt at the moment.

* * *

 "... he who is not with me, is against me."

I wrote this after driving home from work, just to clear my mind. I thought I was going to post it here, but it's pretty long. Here it is if you're interested. It could use some cleaning up and clarification, but it may have something useful for what it is.

April 5, 2005 #

Quotes from Bryan Gardner

Patience is only a virtue if there is no faster way to get what you want.

(Pretty good huh? That spontaneously came out when we were configuring  our equipment to test my program, and Brent told me "Be patient Little Grasshopper.")

The Clarity of Being a Soldier

It's been nice the past few weeks being entirely focused on one thing, and putting everything else aside. It's been like being a soldier, having a single defined purpose, and knowing that nothing in this world is more important than accomplishing this single objective directly in front of me. It makes life simple.

Now I've stepped back into normalcy, and there are several objectives that I must pick and choose from to apply my efforts toward. How much to put into which objective, which to put off until later, and which to discard entirely. It's not as simple as having one objective. So goes the combination of the strategic with the tactical. I've been living entirely by tactics this last couple weeks. That was what my overall strategy dictated was optimal. Now it's back to evaluating the overall strategy, along with tactical execution of that strategy.

April 12, 2005 #

A habit is starting to form for non-daily blogging. I guess that's ok.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I slept on the couch. I came home and found my room full of balloons and confetti and streamers strewn all over.  I'm not dating anybody, and I don't think any girls are particularly interested in me, so I didn't anticipate anything like this. A few of us went out for dinner. Then later I pulled back my sheets to go to sleep and found this.

The confetti was more thickly and evenly spread along my bed than anywhere else.  The couch is comfortable sometimes.

Garvey Aerospace

Back on Thursday I was invited to drop by the shop for Garvey Aerospace, recently relocated onto the CSU Long Beach campus.

This guy is developing rocket technology that nobody has used before. He has successfully flown a few Aerospike Engines. Aerospikes are a non traditional shaped nozzle, that look like a spike instead of a bell. For a rocket engine, the pressure pressing vertically against a nozzle wall is what gives it it's lift. A traditional nozzle holds all that pressure internally, getting an upward pressure around the outside rim. An aerospike nozzle collects the pressure from the inside out (that still doesn't explain it. His website doesn't do much better either unfortunately). The result is a nozzle that looks like some kind of Marvin the Martian gun, and has a few percentages higher efficiency for traveling through changing  air pressure... for traveling from ground to space.

John "Garv" Garvey is the guy in the white shirt in the middle. Very casual. He's worked on the Boeing Delta Series rockets, and now is more interested in new technology than just building big testosterone machine rockets for going really really high. It's a low budget operation, but listening to his test results, I would hope to see some serious funding come his way for expanding. We'll see.

New Acquisition

I've lived for over a year and a half now without a TV. Even when I've had a TV, I always had better things to do than to watch it. So I seldom noticed not having a TV, and whenever I heard the blaring commercials at somebody else's place, or see the attention magnet that the thing is, I'd be reminded that I was glad to be TV-less. But I like movies, and it's never been a matter of principle to be without a TV, so this weekend seemed like the right time to make an acquisition.

TV Stand: garage sale for $10
DVD: pawn shop for $40
27" flat TV: Costco for $230
Total w/ taxes: $305

Not bad if you ask me. Far from the thousands a lot of guys spend on their systems. And it'll do what I want.

Aerospace Politics

Attached is a section of an email I recentry sent to one of the congressional staffers I met at Washington DC. It could use some revisions before I would call it a finished piece of work. But I scratched it out, and I think it adequately illustrates that point I wanted to make about the nature of risk and accountability in smaller vs. larger companies, and the relevant uses of each. It's easy to see trends in where the next wave of success will come, but unless it is understood why success will come, and how it will come, such swings in trends are ill fated.

April 13, 2005 #

Good Friends

First off, I have to put a shout out for my good friends. I'm never one to be concerned about my birthday, but it's nice to hear from everyone. It's a great excuse for everyone to call and say hi, and they take the time for that. Brittany and Katie even put personal posts on their blogs, and I like that, even though I didn't read them until a bit later. Amber even let me host my own birthday card on my site, that I got to participate in creating. Read her April 9 entry, and you'll see it's a result of her new bend toward collaboration.

To all my good friends. Thanks for being Alive!!!!!

Yuri's Night 2005

A successful party. We had some top notch DJ's, Donald Glaude, Mars, and Jason Bentley, and some top notch people. I fell out of the loop for putting it on over the last couple months, but the team did a good job.

Thrown in a film studio with this completely white backdrop.

A good mix of people. Some tech heads, some normal people, and some people who are as far from normal as the stereotype engineer, but on the other end of the spectrum. I even met two guys starting up a new religion. One of them is writing the Bible for their philosophy over the next three months. They even have the warehouse in LA they're going to convert into their... it's not a church, or a worship center, or a meditation center... whatever it is.

Rana Ara. Sounds like a name you would pull from The Lord of the Rings or something. I must say it's nice to talk with a beautiful girl who isn't so distracted by people and things around her that she can carry a decent conversation. I appreciate confidence in random people.

April 14, 2005 #


I think my recent acquisition is ruining my roommate. In the past 3 days he has watched the entire first season of 24. Tonight, the only thing that looked good at Blockbuster was the second season of 24.

"You know, before I got addicted to 24, I used to read."

April 17, 2005 #

I ran a resume workshop for a group of undergrads from various universities at Microcosm yesterday. Some of the young professionals at AIAA organized the event. It went pretty well. It was also good to talk with Jim Wertz, professor at USC and president of Microcosm. He's done a lot of thinking and analysis of space missions, and I learned a few things. Surprising was that it doesn't take much more energy to get to the moon than it does to get to geosynchronous orbit. When you're out there playing with orbits and the gravity between planets,  distances start meaning a whole lot less than speed. He's convinced that a rendezvous station between earth orbit and the moon is a waste of time. Rendezvous requires so much fuel, that you're better off just going straight to the Moon. And for going on to Mars, the absence of any substantial atmosphere on the Moon means that we don't have to do a vertical takeoff like we do from Earth. This opens opportunity for mechanical assist in our launch from the Moon. When taking off from earth, we first need to escape the atmosphere (where drag won't eat our speed), and then we have to start building speed to hold an orbit. I used to think a rendezvous point between here and the Moon was a good idea. So goes ignorance.

* * *

The King and I

The same crew that went to Chicago a couple months ago went to The King and I last night. It was good enough to be worth going. I think I like the movie Anna and the King better, but I'm glad I saw both.

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I've been considering moving away from the beach. It's a long drive into work every day. But I like Sunday afternoon walks with a friend along the beach. I'm glad I'm here for now.

April 22, 2005 #

Brittany and I get to run around this weekend. She spent 16 hours total traveling yesterday, on 1 hour of sleep, so she's still crashed as of right now. She's catching up on sleep, I'm catching  up reading blogs, and it's going to be a good weekend.

April 27, 2005 #

Lots of stuff today. First, running around with Brittany. Second, a decision that is very significant to me, and a few things I learned through the process (which Brittany and I didn't talk about all weekend!!!) Then third, and somewhat related to the second, are more industry thoughts that sparked from an email a guy submitted to SpaceHub.

* * *
I'm not opposed to vacation, but I often think that it's overrated. By the end of this weekend though, I had sufficiently slowed down enough that ... I'm not sure what it was that changed, but I was ready for another few days of it. The momentum I had been running with settled down to a nice mozy... and I liked it. If the state of mind I reached over this weekend is the intended result of a vacation, then it's been a long time since I've had a vacation, and I'm looking forward to my next.

If you have to plan it before you're there, it's not a vacation. That's the way it works for me at least. Brittany was good for that, and that's probably why this weekend unexpectedly turned into a legitimate vacation.

I thought I was going to teach Britt to longboard, but it turns out that she's already a pro (isn't that right Britt?).

I have to laugh at how young she looks in all these pictures. It turns out that sometime in the recent past, she was responsible for a group of little kids, and actually was mistaken to be one of the kids, at 11 1/2 years old. I'm just waiting to hear the stories of the highschool kids she'll be teaching, and the new guys that try to pick up on her before they know she's a teacher.

By the time that day was done, we had decided to go kayaking and camping on Catalina the next day, so we looked things up on the net, rummaged up some gear in the morning, and split.

We got wrong directions to the Catalina Ferry from three different people. All different, and all wrong. Fortunately, the last person to give us wrong directions had a map he could draw on, so we figured it out from that.  We missed the boat by 5 minutes, so we had to hang arond for 2 hours until the next one.

Is it ok to be so vain as to post a picture of myself simply because I think it looks good?

We were too late to kayak to the camp site we wanted, so we had to hike a short distance to a local site. This Catalina Island is really a cool little place. There's just this small gathering of houses and shops nestled in the cove. Everybody drives golf carts, so you see them parallel parked along the streets like they're regular cars. And then the rest of the island is all left as it is. It would be a good place to go back to.

Some people have strange sleeping habits, or do odd things because they enjoy it. Have you ever known anybody who would set their alarm for 3:50am, all through highschool, so they could hit ths snooze button for the next two hours? Britt loves the feeling of being asleep, and then waking up and knowing that you still don't have to wake up for another couple hours, so you can go back to sleep again. What?!?!?! Is that not strange?!?!?!Sure, I like that feeling, but it's not worth waking up 12 times every morning to feel it. Oh well.

Walking along the shore, we saw this over the horizon.

The sun setting? Nope. LA has a lot of bright lights burning all the time. About 100 miles away, and we can clearly see it glowing over the horizon. That's a lot of energy.

And of course, kayaking the next day was fun.

And Brittany... if anybody calls, will you take a message?

* * *
I thought I was going to write about that other stuff, but I'll do that later.

* * *
And the Trajan Line of the Day:
"I made it all the way through Sunday without going online. That's an accomplishment. I think the last time I did that was... hmmm... 1993?"

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Maybe I'll use this space for something.