"Keep a Journal: How else are you going to get a good look at who you were?"

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Been a long time...again.

I'm not sure I like Bloggers new look, but I suppose I can live with it.  For this entry, I think I will start where I'm sitting...and move outward.  

First is the new computer.  A Dell Precision 490 workstation with WAY more power than the custom Asus machine I was using.  I've got it sitting at the foot of my massive waterbed on a little Ikea-esque desk I bought from JYSK a few months back.  It has all the toys; webcam, mike, internet phone link and a printer/scanner/copier that is sitting on a rack above the desk...bolted to the wall.

I am so going to miss this place when we move out.

Oh yeah; I suppose I should mention us getting evicted.  This summer, and past spring, the Landlord spent a little money sprucin' the place up a bit.  We got a new coat of paint, a new backyard fence, some new woodwork on the back deck...

Note that exactly none of that was requested, or required.  This is just how the management company that acts as Landlord for the Owners decided their yearly budget ought to be spent.  I can hardly blame them; between the brand new United Church on the north side of our property and Mr. Avtar's new house on the south side, this place was looking like a dump.

Mind you, what the place needs is new double-glazed windows and new non-drafty-and-non-dry rotted doors.  A new furnace would have been nice.  Kathy told the Landlord that we would not be signing the lease renewal unless they could at least address the furnace issue.  They said; "see ya!".  Silly people.  Mind you, we're still probably going to fix the garage door for them...'cause we need for it to be able to open in order to get our stuff out of it.  This will require dis-assembly of a very heavy (and ALSO dry rotted) solid wood garage door about 10 ft wide.  Has some damaged hardware too...

Hmm.  Got sidetracked a bit there.  What was I doing in the garage already?  Okay, lets move over to the living room next...

Starting at the fireplace, we've got the toolbox holding all the Model Rocket Gear...

I got Colin into Model Rocketry.  Just like his old man, the boy has taken to "blowing stuff up" (under controlled conditions) really well.  His catch phrase when pressing the launch button on our Estes Electron Beam Launch Controller (tm) is; "SUCK IT, PHYSICS!!!".  We've lost 4 ready-made models this summer after about 18 launches (or six packs of engines, if you prefer...).  Our most reliable model was an Estes Loadstar, with 10 Launches and 9 successful recoveries.  That's right, the remaining three models accounted for only 8 launches between them.  Heck, the Cosmic Cobra didn't even open its parachute!  The shuttle express had 4, and the Athena had 2, and a "frankenflight" of the Loadstar with the Athena's nose cone had 1 flight...which crashed.  The Loadstar was repaired after the crash, but never really flew straight after that.  It's up a tree somewhere east of Crescent Park School's ball field.

We learned from our mistakes.  Our current ready-made is a bit fancy: an Estes SkyTraxx, with a 3 piece nose cone suitable for carrying a small payload.  We've also moved up to D class rockets.

The back story behind the move to bigger and better goes like this:  One of my many Facebook friends is a former Single Adult Ward alumnus named Roger Tewson.  Rog is a EMT these days and he's been following our rocketry exploits on my page for awhile.  A few months back he asked me how best to get himself and his boys started in the hobby, and I obliged.  He bought his youngest son the Estes Moon Mutt mini-A class kit...and himself and his older son the starter kit with the Estes Amazon and Crossfire models.  The Amazon is 34" tall...way bigger than our somewhat battered Loadstar.  That's right folks...I got Rocket Envy.

So, our next model was a level one D class kit: the Estes Stormcaster.

It's very similar in design to a Canaroc kit I built when I was Colin's age: the Black Brant V.  The Black Brant series is still in use in Canada and other Commonwealth countries...but sadly Canaroc, and the models based on the Black Brant sounding rockets are no longer available.

Okay, so what else is there in the living room?  Well, there's my workbench.  I bought a PVC folding table and a couple folding chairs for it.  It's the nexus for most of my Projects.

Ah yes...my Projects.

I have discovered that I need Projects to keep me...sane.

Currently there's a couple of HP workstations that I got from Sister Williams.  One has been donated already to my friend Tony, and the other is being used by Colin; 'cause he killed his Dell laptop after spilling water on it.  Teens with expensive electronics?  Buy the extra warranty coverage!  I still have another of those HP's and the previously mentioned Asus system to find homes for.  I've got Colin's system hooked into that boom box that used to belong to Laurie's Opa.  Sounds awesome.  I've been using it to dub my CD collection onto tapes (reversal of fortune, no?) as the new mini van's CD changer doesn't work (I removed it), but it's tape deck does.  What else gets done on there?  Well, we built the Stormcaster on it, (and when I say "we", I do mean both of us; Colin helped) and I performed a Minor Mechanical Miracle there.

The MMM came about when Vijay was trying to replace the pull cord on his Echo gas powered line trimmer.  I've read the manual for that model and there ought to be a warning something like this: "CAUTION: under NO circumstances should the user of this trimmer EVER REMOVE THE PULLEY FROM THE PULL STARTER UNIT."

Newer model trimmers made by Echo and other manufacturer's now include a sheet-metal retainer inside the pull starter housing to keep the clockwork spring in place...but this was an older model and it lacked that refinement.  So, Vijay removed the pulley, the retaining bolt flew to the far corner of his shed, and the clockwork spring SPRANG out of its housing and darn near took his eye out...

...and he asked me to try to put it back together.

I did some due diligence: I had a consult with the guys at Fraser Valley Tools in Surrey, and reviewed a few YouTube videos on the subject.  The consensus from all sources was that getting that clockwork spring re-wound and getting it to sit still long enough to get the pulley back in place over top of it was absolutely and unquestionably IMPOSSIBLE - without the factory tools and jigs used to put it in there in the first place.

Took me nearly a month to figure it out.

I have discovered a native talent for mechanical assembly:  If I can envision it in my mind, I can make it work.  If I can't see it...that is, if the "simulation", the mental model I've built of a procedure in my mind doesn't work...I can't do it.  If I can see it working, I can do it.  If I envision it, and I can't see it working...I keep thinking about it until I find a way that it can work.

I would love to describe how I pulled this off, but I think I'll leave it for another post.  Are we at the front door yet?  Yes?  Good, let's go outside.

First thing in view is the Van.  I'm rather pleased with it.  It really proved its worth today as we participated in the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive for the Surrey Food Bank.  We picked up two routes in Delta and transported a third to the depot at the 126th street chapel.  We also did a little overtime chasing missed pickups in the area.  I had to bribe Colin to get him to come along, but it worked.  It's going to come in handy when I move.

Further outward yet and what do we have?  My neighbor Roy Crabb.  An incredibly interesting man.  He's recently joined our Ward and is a fellow Ward Missionary.  I have a lot of respect for the man.  He's also going to be the subject of another, later, post.

Beyond that there's Church, and Work, and Phil's hobby hut; that last being a place that Colin and I have made frequent pilgrimage to in search of engines, models, and other Rocketry sundries.

Oh! Church! I almost forgot; my eldest niece, Shayla Marie Hastings...is getting married next week at the Vancouver Temple.  I will be attending.

Work has been awesome...and it's about to end.  I am saddened by this.  I'll tell ya more about it later.

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