Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Let's hope not...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Livin' the high life!

We had a wonderful day with our friends (and neighbors, and home group leaders) Jason and Krystal on Sunday. We told them we wanted to take them out for a long lunch. We didn't tell them where, or exactly how we were getting there.

So I hope they were a little surprised when we arrived in North Scottsdale to find our ride waiting...

This was originally supposed to be a surprise trip for our anniversary. My mom bought the trip at the PCS fundraising auction, and gave it to use for our anniversary (thanks Mom!!!) However, after I had the surprise all planned, the morning we were supposed to go, there was several inches of snow and a severe crosswind and the Sedona airport. We delayed and delayed the trip, until Tom (our pilot) finally called us and said he wanted to go before it got too hot.

As Jason and Krystal said... "We're glad it was snowing and windy on your anniversary!" :)

Packed into the plane like sardines. Actually it was very comfortable. More room in the plane than in my boss's Infinity that we took to lunch.

Jason, sitting up front on the way to Sedona, getting the lowdown on watching for other planes in the sky.

Rolling down the runway for takeoff.

Scottsdale from the air.

Approaching Sedona.

Then we made a loop around Sedona. Absolutely unbelievable scenery, from not very high above the cliffs (and sometimes below them.) Jason said he got a little nervous when he kept hearing the "Terrain! Terrain!" alarm in his headset. :)

Humphreys Peak in Flagstaff on the horizon.

Approaching the runway in Sedona. It doesn't really seem like you are going that fast in this little jet... until you come hauling into a runway perched on the edge of a cliff. Our pilot did an excellent job though.

Then we jumped in a rental car and headed for our lunch at L'Auberge de Sedona (part of the whole package trip.) Good music, good company, good conversation. And the food? We were so busy enjoying it, I didn't even manage to take a picture. It was a buffet, but let's just say not even in the same class as the Golden Corral and a step (or whole flight of stairs) above Hometown Buffet. There was lamb, salmon, sushi, fruit salad, made to order omelets, artisan cheeses, lemon tarts, chocolate mousse, and about a dozen other selections. All of it delicious.

Oh, and did I mention that you literally could have jumped from our table right into Oak Creek? This was the view from my seat at the table...

And our waiter (who was also excellent)? Totally reminded me of Emilio...

"I fear you're underestimating the sneakiness sir..."

After eating enough for two meals (seriously, neither Paige or I even were hungry for dinner) we had to head back to real life.

But not before the requisite touristy photo op.

I stopped to take a picture of the cool engines on the plane. Cause I'm an engineer, and think things like this are pretty. Even though my wife called me a nerd...

Back onto the plane for the return trip.

Coming in for the landing in Scottsdale.

It was a great trip. I'm thinking I might have to swing by the PCS auction this year, and see if Tom has donated another trip like this one. And we won't wait so long to take it next time...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Happiness is 1200 rounds per minute

I just finished my latest project. I've had it in my head for a while to make some... upgrades... to my Nerf gun. Tonight I made them.

Here is the starting gun. Semi-automatic. Magazine capacity is a measly three. You have to yank that handle in the back several times to get the wheel up to speed, and then the trigger drops the balls onto the wheel which fires them out the front.

First order of business was some trigger work. I cut off the portion of the trigger that holds the second round back while the first is fired. So now you pull the trigger, and the rounds just keep firing off.

Next was to eliminate that pesky crank handle. Luckily, we just cleaned out some old project hardware at work, and I was able to snag an old Maxon motor. It's a brushed DC motor, exactly what I need. And due to the crank handle, the gun already has a little gearbox that engages and disengages the power source from the main wheel.

By an amazing coincidence, one of the gears was exactly the right size to press onto the motor shaft, with no machining required!

Mounting the motor to the side of the gear box was a piece of cake.

I also rigged up a switch built into the trigger. Depress the trigger slightly, and the motor comes on, but no ball is released, giving the wheel time to spool up. Additional pull on the trigger then releases the balls. Somehow I didn't take a picture of this.

Next up was addressing magazine capacity. Three rounds is just not sufficient. Luckily, and old caulk tube was the perfect size to hold additional rounds.

What modification would be complete without using duct tape? New magazine, now with a capacity of 7.

And finally, because an assault rifle really should be a scarier color than blue and orange, it got a fresh coat of paint.

Put it all back together...

And then test it out...

Run the math on that burst, and it is firing roughly 1200 rounds per minute. That's twice as fast as an M60 machine gun. Of course, with only 7 rounds, that 1200 rounds per minute only lasts .35 seconds.

My only remaining task is to figure out a way to strap on the two 6 V dry cells needed to power it.

Our next nerf gun war, my kids won't know what hit them... :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Give zeeze people eyhr!

The last few weeks (months?) my allergies have been horrible. I've also occasionally been having a hard time breathing. I chalked it up to allergies, and figured I must be getting asthma or something. But then I spent most of the beginning of this week feeling like air was only getting into the top 1/4 of my lungs. Wednesday was particularly bad, enough that I broke down and made myself a doctor's appointment for the next day.

The next day I went in, figuring they would say I had asthma. The doc's first comment to me was "Don't plan on being out of here very quickly." Uh oh. She ordered a breathing treatment, an x-ray, an EKG, and bloodwork.

Breathing treatment = Not breathing any better, but holy cow does that stuff make me super jumpy!

EKG = Nothing apparently wrong.

Bloodwork = Still don't know the results of this one.

Chest X-ray = I met the doc in the hall as she was reviewing my x-ray....

Her: "See that bubble right there?"

(I asked the x-ray tech for my pictures, and she gave me a CD. Sweet! So yeah, those are my actual lungs!)

Me: "Ummmmm, no."

Her: "Well, you get to go for a stat CT scan to check it out!"

Ummm, great. I don't think that you typically get a CT scan for asthma. What on earth do I have?

So I left the doctor's office and headed across the street to the CT scan place. On the way out of the parking lot, I saw a sign for the Gilbert Tea Party, this way! Well, heck, I've got 30 minutes until my CT. If I'm going to find out I have some terminal lung disease, I might as well hit the Tea Party for a few minutes.

I arrived (wheezing) just in time to hear the tail end of Sheriff Joe's speech.

On my way out, someone handed me a flyer for some guy running for Arizona governor and screeched "The income tax is illegal!!!"

Really? I consider myself fairly right wing, but I'm not quite sure how you argue with this...

Amendment XVI to the US Constitution: "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."

Pretty sure I am not voting for that guy...

Back to the CT scan place to get bombarded with more space particles. First they jab an 18 gauge needle into my arm, and tell me when the contrast goes in "you might feel the sensation of urinating." Let me tell you... they aren't kidding around with that one!

But I asked them for pictures too, and they gave me a CD. Not just of the pictures, but a whole program that lets you manipulate them, shade different types of tissue, make movies, etc. Very cool!

(Again... pictures of my actual insides. How cool is that!)

I wonder how much they are going to charge me for that CD? Eeek!

Back to the docs. Apparently, whatever she saw on my lungs didn't show up in the CT scan.

So I still don't know if I have the consumption, or dust pneumony, or what. I'm waiting for the results of the bloodwork, which are supposed to be ready on Friday Saturday Monday. Until then, I've got a prescription for prednisone (medicine of the gods, love that stuff! says Paige) which seems to be helping, but hasn't entirely solved the problem.


You should see the other guy!

I found Luke in his bed on Friday morning, looking a little worse for wear. Poor kid...

(Yes, I went to grab the camera before lifting him out of bed and handing him to his mother in the shower.)

One ring bearer, ready to go!

Ron and Mandi, does this getup meet your requirements for a ring bearer? We might not get him down the aisle without his "fluffy" though...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


(A rare post from Paige, which she wrote before realizing I had just posted the update in the previous post.)

I dream about and long for the day when we will see “her” for the very first time. More than that I long for the day she will be in our arms and in our lives forever. Until then we wait, and wait, and wait some more.

Where are we in all of this? I am asked almost daily how the adoption is going and when will we have our child. I don’t have answers really for either. Our adoption is “going”, and we have no idea when we will have “Someday Sister” in our home. I tell the kids, and anyone else inquiring, that we hope to have her home for Christmas. We hope and pray it will be before Christmas. If it happens before them I will be thrilled. If its late fall hopefully, I won’t be too disappointed.

The journey so far has been paperwork piles, and now waiting. We have been officially waiting for4 ½ months. The wait with our agency is typically 5-6 months (stretching into 7). So, our time could be coming soon, or it could be three more months yet. Ugh! Anyway, we wait. We wait for our referral. A referral is a picture of our child and a brief write up about anything that may be known about her. At that time we accept or decline (that would NEVER happen) our referral and the process moves forward to a court date.

This is the part we are very disappointed about. Ethiopia has just changed its adoption laws. Just, as in a few weeks ago, and they go into effect on May 9. No one is “grandfathered in”. We all must now follow new policy. The new policy that has us disappointed is that now we are required to travel to Ethiopia TWICE. That means two times leaving our brood in the care of another, two times Jason taking off work (using up those precious vacation days), two times the cost of airline tickets and hotel stays, two times crossing the ocean to see her. Don’t get me wrong we would cross the ocean a dozen times if that’s what it took, but at $1500-$1800 a plan ticket, it is a rather costly change in laws. When we appear in Ethiopia the first time for court, she will become legally our daughter, and we will have to leave her behind and return home. Not sure how Jason is going to get me back on that plane, leaving OUR daughter in an orphanage, in a third world country. We won’t be able to bring her home for weeks or maybe months (please NO!) later when her Visa is ready and we return for our Embassy appointment.

So the road to “her” just got a bit more tangled, more costly and longer. We do not know who “she” is at this point, but she is daily in our prayers, and we are longing to have her home. We don’t have a name for her yet. The kids still call her “Someday Sister” and refer to her when they are playing, clapping syllables of family members names (they learned to do that at preschool), in drawings, and in their prayers. Hopefully by the time our referral comes we will have agreed upon a name and we can begin to call her by name, rather than “Someday Sister.” Until then, she is a dream that we long for.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Adoption update

No, nothing exciting yet. But we get lots of questions about "how is the adoption going?" and figured all 5 of our blog readers might be curious as well.

- All our paperwork has been submitted and sent to Ethiopia (in November). The next milestone is a referral, basically some pictures and info on the child we've been matched with. We signed up for an "infant" girl (usually 12 months or younger) so that is what we expect. When we submitted our paperwork, our agency was saying 4-6 months for a referral. November to April is 5 months, so we are hoping for a referral in the next few months.

- The next step is... well, we aren't quite sure. We just found out that Ethiopia is changing their process for adoption. When we signed up, the process was that we flew to Ethiopia and stayed for 10 days to finalize paperwork, and then flew home with our new munchkin. Now it appears that the process will be changed to require two flights, one for your court date in Ethiopia, at which point you accept and officially adopt the child, and then a second flight several weeks (months?) later to complete paperwork at the US embassy and bring home your child. We are still trying to figure out exactly what this all entails, if we both have to fly for both trips (although neither of us is volunteering to stay home), how long we are required to stay, etc. We are hoping we can learn from the families who are going through the new process before us as to exactly how this new system works. Not exactly good news, but we didn't expect this whole thing to go perfectly smooth either.

So that's about the only news in the last several months. The next adoption update should be a note about our referral and new daughter!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I'm not sure if I am ashamed or impressed...

...that my mother-in-law owns one more Gadsden Flag than I do.

I'm going to have to rectify that hole in my right wing paraphernalia.

Judy at a Tea Party Rally. I've gotta say, I'm impressed with your new interest in right wing political activism.

But you know you are on all kinds of watch lists now, right? ;)

Is someone trying to send us a message?

Discovered in the playroom...

Maybe we should have looked him over a little closer...

...before we left for Costco.

Mario Bros. hat? Check!

Camo rubber rain boots? Check!

Pants on, backwards? Check!

And... "commando" style? Check!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"I commit to being a responsible pet owner..."

"...by providing a loving, safe, and appropriate environment for my companion animal."

You apparently have to sign that at PETCO in order to buy a rat.

Inside a snake cage is a "safe and appropriate environment," right?

Our friends in our homegroup have a rather large snake, and we got to bring her dinner tonight. The kids thought it was pretty cool, until it started taking longer than the attention span of a 4 year old.

Dad thought it was pretty cool the whole time.

Luke kept saying "Nake going to eat us? Nooo, nake eat rats."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My first video blog, in which I waterboard myself

We took the back way to Tucson yesterday. The sides of the road were covered in wildflowers of every color. Very pretty.

A desert that green has its downside though. My allergies are worse than they have ever been in years.

Enough so that I actually went out and bought a Neti pot.

Don't know what a Neti pot is? Well, are you ever in luck! Because while Paige often says to me "You are not allowed to put that on our blog!!" her first words upon discovering my new purchase were "This is totally going on the blog!!"

And thus was my first video blog born...

Tucson Easter pics

One of these birds is not like the others...

I spotted him like this, just thinking about who knows what...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

7 Miles...

Audio is from Matt Chandler. Full sermon is here.

Boy, you got a puuurrrdy stroller!

I drove out to Mesa today to pick up Thomas Gordon's new wheels.

Because a certain friend of mine doesn't "want to feel like I am a walking tupperware party."

Apparently, no one in Utah feels the same way, since Jonathan couldn't find one up there. So he convinced my wife to do some Craigslist stroller shopping for him (he certainly knew where to find the expert on both those topics.)

I'll tell you what though... this thing is fabu. Tres fabu, I tell you.
Luke tested, Luke approved. We took it for a spin around the block and both agreed it was one of the nicer strollers ever to enter our house. And let me tell you... "strollers to enter our house" covers virtually every make and model over the past several years.

(Yes, our son is licking your stroller. Sorry about that.)

Jonathan swears they are going to use the pram for young Thomas Gordon. That his offspring will never lower themselves to riding in a DuPont monstrosity. That would be right up his Scottsdale alley (unlike his redneck friends out in Gilbert.)

But just in case he caves, this stroller did come with the adapter for a Graco seat, in case he wants to go half redneck Gilbert tupperwear. And I am guessing that one experience of trying to transfer sleeping Thomas Gordon from car to pram (Seriously? Pram? It's so upscale they can't even call it a bassinet like the rest of us rednecks?) and they will be all over that Graco tupperwear.

But I can seen why Jonathan likes this stroller. It is a fine piece of engineering. And it's even Dutch as well:

"Max's vision comes from a distinct Dutch point of view that informs design at Bugaboo: reduce complexity to the essence to create harmonious form and function that endures."

I'd say they succeeded.

Enjoy the ride Thomas Gordon. Can't wait to meet you!