-- BLOG --

February 2005

February 1, 2005
Talked with SpaceDev's lead engineer, Chris Granger, on the MoTV today. That will be about as ideal a platform to build our ORV capturing system as can be asked for. They designed it to be that way, so I guess they achieved that. They offer it in two off the shelf forms. One as a simple propulsion system, controllable by the spacecraft it's bolted onto. Second with it's own autonomous control system. There's also the custom option, to design whatever you want around the existing platform. It has a set of sun sensors and magnetometers for attitude control. As for telling it where to go, we do that from the ground. There's more interesting stuff, but in a nutshell, it seems like a good package. Everything I hoped it would be.

February 3, 2005

New Roommate

Welcome to the Beach, Trajan.

Chad left. He moved down a block closer to  the beach, with an old friend and a more recent new friend.

Trajan is the new guy. We don't know if we're going to like each other yet, so Trajan decided to put me on probation. Then I pointed out that I was the one with seniority here, so I should be putting him on probation. We decided to compromise, and both put each other on probation. That sounded agreeable.

(Trajan apologizes for the "I've been in the car for 12 hours of driving from Salt Lake" look)

February 4, 2005

Being Social

The trouble with "being social" is that it's not something you can do on your own. If friends bail on a biking trip, you can go biking anyway. If nobody wants to see a move, you can see the movie anyway. If nobody you call is up for doing anything, or is studying, or already has other plans,  then you can't very well go "be social" anyway. It seems like you have to make plans to go relax... but isn't the whole state of relaxing found in getting away from plans?

A Courteous Genius

How do you like the new trick I learned? There just isn't good flow to read something from top to bottom for a day, but bottom to top for the overall chronology. But nobody wants to scroll through things they've already read to get to the new stuff. So I created a solution to both problems. I'll be moving the anchor (named "Latest") to the head of each new day. That way, everybody can ready from top to bottom, but always jump right to most recent day. I'm not sure if that's more astounding from of the thoughtfulness and courtesy to readers, or the pure genius in the solution.

If you want to be a courteous genius too, here's how:
- It's called a "Named Anchor"
- At the place you want to go to (where the anchor resides),  make a bit of code like this:
          <a name="Latest"></a>
     Where "Latest" is what ever you want to name the Anchor (could be "New", "Spot",  or whatever)
- At the place you want to link to the Anchor:
- Type in the text to use for the link
- Insert a regular link to whatever page holds the Anchor
- Go into the code, and immediately following the "...page.htlm" insert a # sign, followed by the name of the Anchor
          <a href="Page.html#Latest"></a>

Pretty easy to do. Fitting. Genius usually is simple.

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Obviously I made a few updates to the overall structure of this thing.

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I'm still in process of gradually getting all my music transferred from my CD's onto my computer, and onto my iPod. This song started playing tonight, and it gave me the most vivid flashback to whenever I'd loose a wrestling match in High school. I don't consider myself competitive, and I never got down on myself for failure, but this song just connected with whenever I lost.

February 5, 2005
Open Source in Space

I read a great article on the growth of Linux into what it is today. This Open Source community idea is the second half of the vision of SpaceHub.org. I've had my doubts about the viability of such a concept working in regard to space. Programming and space exploration ore very different in many respects. JP Aerospace is trying a volunteer model for their orbital access project, and it's working with a degree of success. Having a clearer vision vision into the overall workings of the growth of Linux... possibilities to think about while biking.

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Entirely out of the blue, I got a letter from a friend from college today. Just a short four lines scribbled about a job opening up in San Jose. Jared Parker. He's one of my friends I was disappointed I had lost contact with. Problem solved. Happy day.

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Whiting Ranch today.

If this trail were twice as long, it would be worthy of being in Colorado.

This picture turned out pretty lame,  but then I was playing with my photo software, and ended up with a preview of what Orange County would look like if the USSR hadn't fallen, and we had a sudden riotous disagreement between George W. Bush and Gorbachev (or whoever his successor would have been).

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Amber and I got on the phone and learned PHP in one night. Then she had to go to sleep (Boston time), but I still had time to succeed in being social.

Mormons in Huntington Beach generally throw pretty good parties.
(... and there are a lot of Mormons in Huntington Beach)

Jessica, Sherrie, and Tami. Three of my favorite HB girls.

February 7, 2005
This is the huge satellite dish out by where I park at work. Whatever genius had the idea of reflecting energy waves into a focal point to pick them up from space...

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On the way home from the gym, I ate a Chocolate Chip Cliff Bar. It tasted like a Raisin Lemon flavored bar. I don't think I'll buy that kind anymore.

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My roommate is on IM with a girl, and he wants to go to sleep, but she has a bunch of relationship stuff she needs to sort through and work out. I was just informed that she is now crying.
!?!? Crying over IM ?!?!
How does that work? As a guy, I may be insensitive by nature, but if sensitive means crying while on IM, I'm glad to be insensitive.
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Katie has requested to make comments available on this blog. I'll have to figure that one out. To make it slick and sophisticated, it might take some work. I think that PHP will be able to do the trick, but all visitors will have to wait until I get smart enough.

February 8, 2005
Something is wrong here

I experienced a state of doubt today. It started around 3:30, I confronted it around 4:00, departed from it about 4:45, recognized it for what it is around 5:00, and spent another 15 or so minutes understanding it. A state of doubt is the primal sense that “Something is wrong here.” Whenever I have doubt about anything, I've found that if I put my mind to it and analyze it to death, I find a solution, and the doubt goes away. This is great for engineering, getting up a rock, or whatever.

The significance about today's state of doubt has to do with what the “here” is that something is wrong with. Today, this state of doubt arose from the momentary perception that “something is wrong here” translated into “something is wrong with me.” Previously, this has had the effect of spiraling me into a quagmire of analyzing everything that I'm doing in life, and why I'm doing it. It's the exact same processing algorithm that makes Marvin from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy the most unrelentingly miserable android ever programmed… an android so smart that it can solve every problem in the universe, except its own. It really is quite a waste of time, and doesn't get you anywhere useful. So I didn't waste any more time analyzing it

February 9, 2005
What I don't like about writing

To say everything that needs to be said, so that all bases are covered and there is no misunderstanding, requires an exhaustive document. If you choose to forego the exhaustive document, leaving things to be assumed, and other things not addressed, 9 times out of 10 at least one of the things you consciously left out will be brought up by the reader. If two people read what you wrote, then at least two things you consciously chose to leave out will be brought up. It's not that these issues weren't considered. It's just that they were consciously judged as unnecessary to include for this particular piece of communication, for the sake of brevity. If we judge a writers intent only by what they put on paper, we're drastically disregarding the thought and consideration they took before writing. I wish it were easier for people to remember who it is that is writing, when they're reading what they've written.

French recommendations?

I'm done with the French cd’s from the Library. Now I need to find a second level course before I loose the progress I've made. Any recommendations? Actually, I haven't made much progress. So far, all I know is how to ask a girl if she wants eat, if she wants to drink some wine, and if she wants to go to her place or mine. Some may argue that's all the conversation I need, but that's not my purpose for learning French.

This has actually been a bit of a surprise, learning French. You know how different forms of mental activity make your mind feel different? Not physically different, but functionally different? Learning French feels just like learning an instrument. It's an entirely different feeling than learning a programming language, learning history, learning math (which feels like programming), actually composing and coding out a program, considering mechanical design (which feels like composing a program), learning the geographic layout of an area, learning a physical sport or performance, learning the who's and what's of an industry, or whatever. It really feels exactly the same as learning the violin those last few years in college, or learning to play a new song on the piano. I like finishing my commute, having fit in a half hour of that sort of mental activity.

February 10, 2005
Functional Dreaming

I have to post this really quick, because I woke up, for the second morning in a row, with the most unusual dreams. This morning I was brainstorming on designs for planetary rovers (like the Mars Rovers), but lighter, more efficient for construction and multi-purpose use, etc. Dreams are great because you can produce drawings and solid models really quickly (but they're gone when you wake up). Yesterday morning I was figuring out the relationship between government funding and the entire Aerospace industry, how that relates to manned space flight, govt. budgets, overall economy, long term military and technological capacity, etc. It was great. I've been dreaming about things I'd like to think about while I'm conscious... and I get to sleep while I'm doing it. I think I can handle this kind of dual effectiveness with my sleeping time.
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Eventful Day

Some days, it seems like everything from all different directions all comes together at once. Today was one of those.

The Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department chair from Cal State LA got back with me about my Engineering Resume Workshop, and he wants me to come present it for the their undergrads in their Senior Design course!!! It's not the full workshop that I offer, working with the students individually, but I'm stoked because they want to bring me in for the presentation. I'll set up the dates with another of their professors, but they definitely want me.

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I spoke with SpaceDev's lead engineer on their MoTV project again. A couple days after talking with him last time, it occurred to me that SpaceDev would have a personal interest in our BYU team succeeding with this satellite de-orbiting vehicle. I hadn't considered it before, because they're a small company (about 40), and don't have the personnel to reach out for internships, university projects, and the such. But as long as we're building it to the specs of their propulsion platform... he thought it was a good idea as well. It'll be a couple weeks until I can head out there and really lay out the foundation we're going to build from, but the plans have been made.

We also chatted about other business that they have coming down the line. They're one busy shop. There were some things he couldn't talk about, not because of security, but because they're publicly traded (SPDV), and the SEC is very rigorous about insider trading. From what he could talk about, there is a lot going on.

I asked about Burt Rutan, and the rocket engine for SpaceShip Two. It turns out Burt is rather unpredictable guy to work with. On the rocket engine they provided for SpaceShip One, they went through everything regarding the engine with Burt, and then didn't hear one peep out of him for a year. Their next contact was Burt calling, ordering X number of rocket engines, and wanted them by X deadline. Totally unpredictable.

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I read an article on Space.com about Teaching Evolution in our public school systems. It was a good, positive, up beat article, looking forward to creating a more positive world. I wrote this email to the author of the article. She is the head of the SETI Foundation (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) department for education and outreach.

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This evening I went to a Linux user group meeting at Cal Tech, for a presentation on this Plone software, built on Zope. It's all Open Source software, and we thought we may want to use it for our larger vision for what we want to use SpaceHub for. Basically, it's a groupware tool for dynamically updating a web or intranet collaborative work group. To be honest, most of it was over my head. I'm very new to the whole Linux world. Greg (the software and server guy I'm working with on this) was thoroughly impressed with the software. It goes far beyond what he had anticipated, and as such, is overkill for what we wanted to use it for. Check out his Linux site if you need any tutorials. YoLinux.com

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And all the pictures you've seen strewn throughout this are driving home from Pasadena on the 110.

February 12, 2005

It's fun when people have their little hobbies, and they do them out where everybody in the world can see. Today we went down by the Pier for lunch. It must have been National Kite day, because kites were swarming the sky like seagulls.

These monster kites aren't something you see every day.

I liked this shot with the Pier in the background.

Imagine having this beach toy when you were a kid.

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We went to see Chicago at the Pantages in Hollywood. That was one of the most entertaining musicals I've seen. Yes, the girls were scantily clad, but it didn't come across as glorifying the base things of life. Good humor, good story, and a crisp performance.

We grabbed some food before at this little Coffee / Japanese corner stop. The food was bland. The chocolate brownie  was great.

Kenny, Jessica, Caroline, and yours truly. Kenny's a cool guy. I'm listening to his album right now. Good chill music. Head to his web site and you can listen to his music, and order his album for your very own. And of course, Jessica and Caroline are always fun to hang out with.

This theater is one of the better looking places I've been to, not to mention huge. It has the old style gaudiness, but they didn't neglect to interleave the LA character. There's also a very prominent Aztec / Mayan influence in it, that doesn't stand out initially. The stage is to the right.

Chantico. I've seen billboards for the last two weeks advertising how chocolatey this stuff is. They're not exaggerating. It's good stuff. You can't handle any more than comes in that small cup. I had to get a glass of milk for a chaser. It's so rich, the first sip literally killed my vocal chords, and it took a good minute before I could speak again.

February 14, 2005
Happy Valentines Day

I came home from work expecting to spend the evening wallowing in my own singleness, while covering it up by laughing about what a stupid day Valentines Day is. Actually, I've never minded Valentines Day, and the one year that I actually had an established girlfriend, it was a good time. I think this was the first year in a long time that I didn't at least have a date with a good girl - friend lined up. But I got home and saw this email in my box:

Party info...

This party is PRO-LOVE and PRO-Valentine's Day in the BEST sense of the holiday.
Here's the skinny on Bond Night:
In Celebration of our Singlehood, we pay homage to the singlest, sexiest, superspy in the world: James Bond.

... more party info.

It turned out to be a lot of fun, and then a few of us went to our favorite hot chocolate dive in Sunset Beach.

If only this were a regular occurrence...

Trajan studied for years in a secluded mountain region of China to lean such perfect form.

It's always a welcome surprise when Tarrish shows up.

The nice thing about groups that are a little bit smaller than large, and a little bit larger than small, is that you finally get to talk with people who you've met, but never had a conversation with. Conversation is always more interesting than bland group chit-chat.


February 15, 2005

I almost came to a profound realization today during a brief email conversation with Derek.

Derek: Are all lies bad?
Me: It depends if they serve your purposes... and what your purposes are. It sounds like this has a story behind it?
Derek: No story, just a question on my mind. So if you gain from them, then is it bad?
Me: How could it possibly be bad if you gain from a lie? If you loose something because of a lie, then it's a no-brainer that lying was a bad idea. Anything that improves our overall existence is good.

Then he sent a link to a group working on the Space Elevator concept, I told him he needs to start blogging, and we forgot about lies. So much for a profound realization that could potentially be quite controversial.

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My little Bro Justin off in Arizona sent me this CD of Justin King. This kid can jam on a guitar like nobody I've seen in my life. Head to his site, and watch this clip of him on his double neck guitar. I guess the albums with his band are as good as any other, but pick up his solo album for sure, "Le Bleu." He's not French, he's from Oregon, and that's the name of the street he grew up on, but it certainly has a cross-cultural style.

February 16, 2005
Nothing sparks a fire like controversy

First of all, in justification of the inconclusive conversation about lies yesterday, I refer the reader to my February 9 entry on What I don't like about writing. Among the many things that I didn't include with that entry would be a sentence saying "Sometimes I like to say things in ways that leave people guessing as to the real intent, but saying them such that I am legally in the clear about my statement." Yesterday was just such a day. I don't enjoy continually being a source of controversy, but it's good for a laugh from time to time.

... And it is worth acknowledging the inconsistencies between our expressed ideals, and what we find our ideals really to be when applied to life as it really is.

We'll take Brittany for example. The simple answer is that all lies are bad... but we end up justifying ourselves. Even Brittany sells out for lying about a story if it makes it funnier. Why? Because we gain something from that sort of a lie, and we don't loose anything. Thus we see that by Brittany's logic, in spite of her surface expressed ideals, she too agrees that "Anything that improves our overall existence is good."

Katie shared her experience wherein a seemingly harmless lie ended up in her loosing trust of a co-worker, as well as him loosing her trust. We don't need to continue about the loss of scheduling predictability in the company, and so forth. Much is lost, and our overall existence suffers for it. On the issue of getting a job somebody else may have deserved, again, overall existence as a society suffers. (Anybody who thinks they can remove themselves from the society needs to think again. Our individual destiny is inseparably connected to the destiny of society as a whole, just as the health of each of the cells in our bodies are inseparably connected to the health of our body as a whole... but that's another topic for another time.)

As for myself, I will always act in such a way as to improve our overall existence. That being my expressed ideal, I am entirely confident that there will be many days that I will lie to my kids (when I get married and have kids). Yes, I will be so wretched and depraved as to lie to my children. Every Christmas, and every Easter, for as long as my kids are capable of believing the lie, I will lie about Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. When they stop believing the lie, it won't make any difference if I try to continue lying. I believe that our society as a whole, greatly benefits from the lie about Christmas, as well as other lies that we socially carry. (Though, I must concede that Christmas is carried as a tradition. It is only a lie to little children.
A lie is only a lie when it cannot be immediately identified as such.)

But lying to others is all secondary. Let's first address the issue of lying to ourselves. When you lie about something that reflects on your image, are you lying to deceive the other person, or are you trying to deceive yourself?  It just may be that you base your image on their judgment, so you don't want their judgment to reflect an image that you think is bad. You lie so that you won't be judged negatively, fearing that their negative judgment may be right. You lie so that you won't be judged not good enough, fearing that you really are not good enough. Trying to lie to other people may not be nearly as destructive as the real danger of trying to lie to ourselves.

Next time you feel inclined to lie, as yourself "Why do I feel I should lie about this?" Forget about feeling bad about lying or not. Just find out why you feel you need to lie. You may learn a few things about yourself.

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Corporate Machines

On a more playful note, I went to an
AIAA presentation this evening by Dr. Ballhaus, President and CEO of the Aerospace Corporation.  He spoke on National Security Space, and it was really worth while to listen to. It was the first time that I've heard a good solid case for why the aerospace defense industry needs the huge corporate machines that have grown out of it, and why it needs such a relentless system of processes. I asked a question at the end about the place of the smaller companies in the industry he spoke of, and he identified the very necessary and feasible role that they will play as well. The formal presentation was very well done, and the Q and A session afterwards was one of the most intelligent I've sat through for a long time. It's great to have people around who really believe in what they're doing, and who have the ability to carry through on their convictions so well. I am entirely confident to trust this guy with such a large responsibility for American defense and security.

February 16, 2005
Living with Past Performance

I decided I'll never take anything off this blog, or change anything, even if I'm embarrassed about it a few days or months later. I think it's healthy to be able to live with our past mistakes and embarrassments. Of course we don't flaunt our embarrassments, but accepting that we can have embarrassments just like everybody else in the world... it's part of this trait of Charity. We can expect others to strive for excellence, but we can't expect them to have already been there, and generally we don't make such expectations. We ought to have similar expectations of ourselves. Just as we brush off somebody else doing something stupid on occasion, we ought to brush off our own stupid actions at times. That doesn't mean we thoughtlessly blunder around. We still strive for excellence in all things, aware that sometimes hindsight really will be clearer than foresight.

Or there's this attitude that just came to mind: I'd rather work on changing the future, than work on changing the past. There is a real opportunity that we can change the future. The future is not even set to be changed. The future must still be created. To try and change the past is vain ambition. It cannot be done, no matter how hard we try. In the future, only the physical laws of the universe have been set, and we can create anything we can devise within that framework.

Ok. I'm revising the phrasing of the thesis on that paragraph.

I'd rather work on creating the future, than work on changing the past.

That being said,  check these out....

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I want the pics to be a surprise after you've read the text.

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It was a surprise to me.

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The thought at the top came entirely independent of this, though humorously fitting.

I was rolling like any other day, about 55 in traffic. The road is pretty straight, with something of a downhill slope,  so I couldn't see any more than one car ahead into traffic. The break lights ahead of me came on, so I reflexively nudged my brakes. It wasn't much later that I realized the guy in front of me was applying his breaks with an unusual degree of vigor.

I'm not one to be out done, so if he thinks he can slam his breaks, then I was going to show him that I could slam my breaks even harder. Who does he think he is anyway? Does he think he can stop faster than me?  Huh!?!

Well, he was stopping faster than me... a lot faster!!! I think he just had a head start. I still think I could have beat him on an even que.

There's that moment when you're competing with somebody that you undoubtedly know that you're going to loose. That's when it comes time to make a drastic alteration to the game plan. This time, that moment came simultaneously with the moment that I realized we were having a Stopping Fast contest. (Just my advice, but the middle of the 605 in Los Angeles is not a good place to have a Stopping Fast contest... though people seem to do it all the time for some reason).

I reflexively made my change in game plan, cleared my left side as I began merging into the carpool lane... and didn't quite make it.

My bumper snuck right up under his bumper. That split second to look if I was clear only gave me enough time left to make it half way into the lane. In a Stopping Fast contest, half way doesn't count. Stopping Fast competitions are for hard core people who play for all or nothing. No sissies allowed.

The guy in front of me estimates that he won the Stopping Fast contest with the guy in front of him by only a couple inches. Right in his moment of victory though, is when I finished the job for him.

It was almost odd how matter of factly we all dealt with it. No emotions, no blame, no drama. Just like every day business. We traded info. The cops magically appeared. We rolled to the side of the road, and the world kept on turning.

Such a beautiful vehicle. It's really a shame. And my tires are only few months old. So the cops filled out a report, didn't even pause to hand out tickets or anything, made sure we had tow trucks coming, and then were off. Nobody hurt? Keep traffic moving.

Everything moved along quickly, but I had enough time waiting there to get everything taken care of on the phone with my insurance, take the bike rack off my roof, clear everything from my car into the trunk, watch another accident, read from my aerospace magazine, and then chat with the tow truck guy when he showed up.

Being a tow truck driver has got to be a fun job. You meet lots of people. You meet them in lots of situations. you get to see all kinds of cars squished and crashed. The tow truck guy was pretty cool.

We took my car to the dealership, checked it into their collision center, I talked with a sales guy and looked at new cars, walked over to where my insurance had arranged a rental, and in less than 2 hours I was back on my way to work.

I thought this was a cool looking image from the hood.

My last accident was 10 years ago, a few months after I started driving. Calculating out the numbers, what I've paid into insurance is pretty close to equal what my car is currently worth. That was a comforting thing to calculate, because now I don't feel so bad for making another hit in a companies profits. I still don't like that I've contributed to the overall efficiency of our economy... but in the larger scheme, this might be the best way for it all to run. Having disposable cars keeps the auto makers in business, it keeps the insurance agencies running, a lot of advertising  and marketing is centered around this industry... who knows? It's great to live in a society so well prepared for accents that we can have a 2 hr turn around from a multi thousand dollar incident.

February 19, 2005
Being a Tough-guy

That's all we really want to do. That's the prime motivating factor behind all male action... because it feels so good, just being a tough-guy.

Janae and I rolled out to Hollywood on Saturday night, and it was raining so thick and heavy that we got free parking. (the parking guy ran for cover instead of collecting our money). It wasn't raining in Huntington Beach or Irvine, and I've never owned an umbrella in my life, so the only rain gear we had was my gore-tex jacket, and my baseball hat. Janae zipped up in the jacket, I pulled my hat on, and we were prepared for everything Mother Nature was throwing at us. It was great. I didn't feel a single drop of rain on my face all night, and the only weather complaint out of Janae was that she was cold after dinner (I think she just wanted my arm around her).

The best part of it all was that the streets crossing Hollywood blvd. became raging rivers. That meant I got to exercise my manhood, in the full fledged expression of being a tough-guy, and carry Janae across the raging rivers on our way to the restaurant. Being a guy, you can't ask for a better opportunity. It wasn't showing off. It was rising to the occasion, and doing whatever was necessary to make sure that the beautiful lady I was escorting on the town was perfectly comfortable at all times ( ...and I got to splash through rivers and puddles while doing it!!!).

February 20, 2005

Photos today by Chad Rumsey. Banana Bread by Rachelle Whetten. Apartment by The Green Frog.

Welcoming our new friend Diane to Huntington Beach, recently moved from the bay area.

Our version of a studio.

February 21, 2005 MapQuest is now Second Place

I used to always hit MapQuest whenever I needed to find a place. MapQuest has now been outclassed like I never imagined they would be.

Welcome to web space: Google Maps (said with a tone of awe and reverence)

Just go there, and browse for yourself. No more explanation is necessary.

February 22, 2005
Individuals and Institutions

This evening I split from work early to head down to the board meeting for AIAA. I was a little surprised initially at the prominence of discussion on self perpetuation of the organization itself. Having looked at it, I'm convinced that doing so has a positive result, but that's not what I want to write about here.

Greg Larson, Chairman of the LA Chapter, commented a couple times that "If something is dependent on an individual, then as soon as they're gone the whole thing will leave with them. We need to get things integrated into the institution so that it will continue if the person leaves." He made that comment to express what he wants to be done with the efforts of the organization, but it is an excellent identification of the role of Individuals, as well as the role of Institutions.

Institutions don't create things, People create things. People don't perpetuate, institutions perpetuate. People who take personal responsibility and drive forward for their own purposes make things happen. But when that person leaves, everything they were driving forward leaves with them, unless their work has been institutionalized, or has been converted into a program.

This conversion of what people create into institutions / programs / processes is what Dr Ballhaus was speaking of a week ago (Corporate Machines). Creating procedures for a corporation to follow are an effort to hold onto the learning and expertise of the original creators driving a project. There must be original creators to drive a project forward, but as soon as they are gone, their expertise leaves with them. It's not in the nature of any of us creators, to stay around doing the same thing. We enjoy creating our project, and then want to move on to create something bigger and better. We're not interested in hanging around to duplicate what we have already created. But as soon as we go, all our expertise leaves with us. Having such expertise simply migrate away doesn't bode well for a society that wants to duplicate our inventions. Furthermore, our society wouldn't be what it is today if nobody hung around to duplicate our inventions. As a creator, we want to move on to create something new, but it really is in our best interest to leave behind all the expertise
that we can along the way.

This is particularly important in the aerospace business where projects stretch out over decades. By the time a project has been brought from conception to delivery, the creators are either old and near retirement, or moving on to a tougher and larger project. Their knowledge is essential to continuing the project, so we must find a way to keep that knowledge around. Sure we have the product, but we must be able to duplicate the product or it will wear out and die. The goal of these documentation systems within corporations is to capture the intelligence of these creators while they are in the process of invention. ... I'm going to quit before I repeat myself anymore.

The invention is the product we want, but that invention only comes from an individual. The processes are a means to retain what the individuals of this world create. As creators, we set ourselves free, and allow ourselves to stand upon the progress of our previous work by institutionalizing the work that we do. Creating a trail for others to follow where we have gone is the most effective way to empower ourselves for continuing progress and power to create in the future.

February 23, 2005
Precision Machining

Ever wonder where all those ultra precise components are made for the United States military, commercial aircraft,  and spacecraft?  Some are made in the pristine and high tech looking machine shops you imagine, and others...

The guys making my radiator plate outsourced the difficult machining to another machinist who regularly does this type of precision work. I wanted to make a visit to see how progress was coming (the last few phone calls were all exactly the same status), and this is the shop I walked into. Located just outside the heart of the worlds aerospace hub, filled with some of the worlds brightest engineers, in the southwest quarter of Los Angeles... it was like walking into the midwest land of junkyard rednecks. Don't be deceived though. This is where many critical parts of military and commercial aircraft are created.

Mike, a Vietnamese guy approaching his 60's, speaking with an accent that barely makes him understandable, owns and runs this shop. He started working for an aerospace manufacturer back in the 70's sometime. Then in '78 he left to be a machinist for ITT (a surprisingly large organization) for a $42 K salary, twice what he was being paid by the other place. After 6 years of that he got tired of working for somebody else, and opened his own shop. Eventually he got tired of all the paperwork associated with aerospace corporations, and he was a really good machinist, so he would just do jobs that other machine shops brought to him. If it was too tough for them to do it, then they'd bring the job to Mike. About 10 years ago, one of his employees split to start his own shop, and called it Basic Technologies. That's the shop we contracted through, so now we've come full circle.

This is a small carbon part made on an EDM. The flash got in the way, but the clutter behind it is noteworthy.

Again, talking with individuals is proving to be a valuable thing. First of all, it was fun hearing his stories, and seeing the work he does there. He just finished an order for a slew of pulleys for Boeing to put on their 737, and he showed me the drawing with a tolerance called out at +.0000, -.0005!!!! That's madness. It's hard enough to measure those tolerances, let alone to machine them. I would never put those tolerances on a drawing, fearing that the machinist would throw his calipers at me next time I walked into the shop. But we talked through our design intent, why we could allow more tolerance in certain areas, and less in others. It cleared up a lot for him, and will allow him to make the part a lot faster, and closer to what we're looking for. It's also nice to personally know where the status is, instead of just going by the other guy trying to be optimistic about the schedule.

And yes, there is a cleaner area on the other side of his shop. It's not all clutter and junk.

February 23, 2005

I went to dinner with Sherrie this evening. She's the most sincere girl I've ever known, and I love her to pieces. Then I came home, pulled out a new carton of black cherry ice cream, cut off the seal, and found this...

Can you believe that? Someone on the production line decided to help themselves to a healthy serving of my ice cream!!! I don't mind sharing, but this is something else.

February 26, 2005

My little bro Justin sent this email yesterday. It's hilarious, and certainly blog worthy, but he's not running a blog. It's his story so I can't put it on my blog.. So I started a blog for him to post it on, and posted it for him (surprise!). I'm not sure how well blogging coincides with Air Force policy. He may be limited to what he can post and not post. But this story is good if nothing more.

An Unusually Effective Escape Tactic

It's a change for me to be around another guy who is equally unafraid to kick up a conversation with a random hot blond. Trajan has a different style than I, he's actually a fluent socialite when he chooses to be, and he has no hesitations about going for the gold when in a crowd of people graced with a few beautiful ladies.

We went to this Choc-tail party (chocolate fountains, strawberries, wafers, and other stuff to cover with chocolate), with a large crowd from all around the south LA / north OC area.  Just as it was wrapping up, Trajan walked by, nudged me, "I need a wingman. Let's go." Without pausing I fell into formation to execute the mission.

Mindy was her name, with two noteworthy friends accompanying her. All three of them nurses. She looked even better up close than from a distance (and the distance view was certainly attractive). The five of us did the social jib-jab thing, talking about this and that and whatever else came up. Mindy was very socially adept, entirely able to carry a conversation, balance the interactive sides of who's talking and who's listening, maintain a mix of random humor and informative biographical disclosure,  etc. A very sharp girl who knows how to enjoy life and make it enjoyable for others.

Here's the unusually effective escape tactic -
An appropriate interval of social mingling had passed, when (in her socially polished way) she brought the conversation to naturally include "We're meeting up with some friends so we have to go right now, but why don't we give you our numbers and maybe we can get together some time?" Her eyes settled on me at the conclusion of that suggestion, as though expecting me to routinely pull out my cell and punch in her number. At first I thought she might be sincerely attracted to my dashing good looks and charming personality. Then I realized that my introductory comment about how gorgeous she was probably had indicated to her that I was the interested individual who initiated this pick-up routine. I made the appropriate eye maneuver that passed her on to Trajan for collecting the number.

Is that not an effective way to conclude up a pick-up session? She doesn't have to endure the conversation any longer than she wants to. She doesn't have to feel bad about denying a guy who asks for her number. She doesn't have to feel insincere about giving her number to a guy who she's no more interested in than the next. The really slick part is that for the rest of the party, she can be assured that the guy will not come talk to her again. He's already got her number. They're strangers so he has nothing more to talk with her about. It's flawless!!! If they guy is the obsessive kind it certainly could backfire, but I'm sure she has an effective tactic to deal with those kinds of guys as well. It took a few minutes for me to realize the intent and the full genius of her maneuver. I was impressed.

The rest of the story is fun as well -
I maneuvered over to her friend Sherice (sp?) to collect her number. I learned from A Beautiful Mind about the dynamics that take place within female groups sporting a flagship girl and background girls. Mindy was clearly the flagship girl of the group, and these two friends in particular had become accustomed to being background girls. A beautiful background, but background nonetheless.
Trajan's odds of subsequent success would be greatly enhanced if I left him to be the only one collecting her number. As for myself...

When you've spent a number of years being fairly adept at picking up on girls and getting their numbers, eventually you learn that it's a useless proposition. If there's no background you share, or nothing that brings both of you to interact socially on a regular basis, then it's hopeless. Every relationship needs to have a highly balanced level of interest for it to develop without getting derailed along the way. Correction. Every relationship needs to have a highly balanced level of 'perceived' interest. It's the perceived imbalance of interest that makes a girl turn and run. No girl wants a guy to be more interested than she wants him to be. She wants them all to appreciate her and think she's beautiful inside and out, but she only wants them interested in a relationship to the level that she wants them to be interested. In the brief interval that it takes to pick up on a girl, there really is no way for her to see through to your qualities that would make her any more attracted to you than the last guy that spent five minutes picking up on her. There are a lot of guys in this world with dashing good looks and five minutes worth of charm to display to a girl. These flagship girls can choose from any one of these guys she wants, at any time she wants. They can also get a new one any time they want. The five-minute-charmers all come and pick up on the flagships whenever they are in public to be hunted. The girls enjoy this through High school, but eventually it becomes a nuisance. As a guy, if you want a flagship girl, you really have to rely on fate to put you in some sort of regular interaction, during which interaction you must restrain yourself from expressing any interest  that will make the girl feel an imbalance and turn and run.

Back to the story. Sherice, the background girl, must be accustomed to guys like me that are either wise to the dynamics of the group, or the type that go for second best. She denied me!?!?  Granted, she has a boyfriend in Las Vegas, but she said things weren't working out with him. It's never fun getting denied for a legitimate reason. It's frequently fun getting denied for an almost legitimate reason. The best is getting straight up denied. It happens so infrequently. The boyfriend in Las Vegas that "isn't working out" was a good almost legitimate reason, and we had a good laugh over that.

So this has been a really long entry. I hope Trajan calls the flagship. It'll be interesting to see how she plays out the rest of this. If she actually wants to pull through on the group thing she suggested, it might be fun. Background girls are usually fun, and flagships always have background girls to bring along.

Trajan: "Just like sales, it's a numbers game."