Sorry I have not posted in some time. I really enjoy posting but simply have run out of time in the day. In the grand scheme of things, bogging is actually pretty low on the priority list so it has fallen off the wagon. Perhaps I will be able to resume at some point but will sign off for the time being.
Sorry it has been so long… again. Last week I had to learn about “translating” a ship on land. To explain, clearly we must start building ships on dry land but once they are between 70 and 75% complete we must float them to continue. This is primarily so the major sea water systems (A/C, fire pumps, radar cooling skids) and propulsion systems can be tested similar to the way they will be operated. A 75% complete ship looks close to a completed ship on the outside and weighs about 6700 long tons. I will try to post some pics of this later in the week with some float off pictures. In short, we translate (or roll) the ship on rails using about 75 little cars onto a sinking dock. Then we incrementally sink the dock to float the ship. As you can imagine there are many steps to this process and this is my first rodeo so I am learning a great deal.
Char and the kids were watching Dancing with the Stars for the first time while I was gone to DC and found out that Binh really loves the show. So tonight I tried to get a little video of him watching a routine. From what I understand he was not as in to it as he was in previous weeks but you can get the picture. BTW: the fall at the end looks worse than it was.
I was in DC the first part of the week getting “connected.” Most naval engineering concepts and solutions come out of Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington. It was eye opening to see where all those folks worked and hear about the issues they deal with. Contrary what one might think, there are a great deal of very talented people working very hard there.
Just before heading to DC, the family met up with some close friends and hit the outlet malls. Our friends have a daughter close in age to our kids. Usually the dads would watch the kids while moms hit the girly stores and vice versa. Well, we were in Old Navy and it was my time to watch the kids and my heart sank! Were did Binh go? I started to go into search and rescue mode, performing an expanding square but initially did not see him. However, I did see a group of kids near the changing room so I moved in that direction… Ahh… Not only was I happy to see Binh but I was happy to see what he was doing… hangin with the ladies!
At the end of the day we all had good fun. Did manage to get some good video so I will post a Youtube Tuesday next week.
Oh, how history repeats itself. I just read an article that stated President Obama suggested a deal to eliminate the proposed missile shield deployment in the Czech republic and Poland for help with Iran’s nuclear program. WHAT! Why would one do such a thing? Actually, I think I know why but that is not the point. The key here is judgement.
So the new administration has decided to make a deal with the devil… I mean the former Soviet Socialist Republic. As we know, the best indication of future behavior is past behavior, so what can we expect? Well the last time we had a significant relationship with this government was prior to the second Iraq war. Remember the whole “Oil for Food” program scandal? That’s the one where both Russia and France set up intricate webs of companies and individuals stretching from Europe to Asia in order get money from Saddam. Going back a little in history, one might recall the fact that we spent a significant part of the twentith century in a nuclear standoff with this communist nation. From the 60s through the early 80s, Americans were inclined to build bomb shelters because of this new “partner”. During the cold war, the missile shield was the one thing that got a reaction out of the Soviet regime. Have they changed? They still sell lethal weapons to many of our enemies as well as nuclear secrets to Iran. Russia has had a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran since mid to late 2002, allegedly for a civilian reactor. Do you trust either of these two parties?
Let’s look at Iran for a moment. A country who’s government absolutely hates the U.S. and would seize any opportunity to get the upper hand on Israel. Now that the U.S. is making deals with Iran through Russia to reduce our influence in Europe. Such a deal proposed by the Obama administration would be perfect! Isolate Israel, reduce influence in Europe, and reduce influence in the Middle East.
One field of engineering involves controls and control networks. We seek to design systems that require single degrees of control or Single Input Single Output (SISO) control networks to reduce the complexity of the control network. One thing you always try to avoid are control problems with two or more degrees of freedom that cannot be decoupled. A U.S. deal with Russia to control Iran is exactly that, an impossible control problem. Decoupling a relationship between Iran and Russia when money and nuclear materials are involved sounds nearly impossible to me. Additionally, like the appeasement deals of the past between the free world and Stalin, a single deal with a regime like the current one in Russia or Iran alone is ill advised. With two degrees of America hating, we are guaranteed to loose!
Ava has developed a pretty good command of the English language and can articulate what she means most of the time. At the same time, she also has started to make judgements about her environment. This combination has resulted in what I might call “absolute honesty.” I learned in a comical way that child-like honesty can be a two edged sword.
Ava said that she needed to potty so she and I made the trip to the kid’s bathroom (“the monkey bathroom” ). I popped her up on the potty and began to wait with her. She began to push on my nose and rather hard. It felt like she was trying to push it back into my face. Finally I said, “Ava, what are you doing?” She got a serious look and said “I want you to be pretty!” But hey, at least I honestly know how she feels about dad’s honker.
Last night Ava made us laugh again. Just before leaving work I checked my favorite web page and noticed that the Dow had dropped another 250 points or so. I came home and Char had dinner ready so the family was all seated at the table. Just after we started eating I mentioned the fact that the Dow had dropped again. And Ava responded “drop it like its hot daddy!” I’m not sure if she meant it was time to drop our mutual funds like they were hot or if she simply was making a joke. Those that know us well know that she is familiar with a Snoop Dogg song by a similar name. Does the fact that my daughter knows a song by Snoop make me a bad father? Regardless, I still need a nose job.
The military requires anyone who rides a motorcycle to attend a rider safety course. I have been riding off and on for about 20 years, progressing from moped to crotch rocket. The military has had a problem with soldiers and sailors coming back from deployments to Iraq and Afganistan with extra cash, buying “high adrenalin” toys, and getting hurt. A link to the required courses can be found here. Needless to say, I had to attend and did not expect to get much out of it. It was actually very good. The instructor was a guy who lived and breathed motorcycles. He owned nine bikes and could speak intelligently about off-road, street and sport bike riding. While doing tight figure eights in a parking lot may not be the best indicator of how well one will do on the road, I don’t think a person could pass this course if they could not ride. It was fairly aggressive.
Another more pleasant part of the week was the arrival of my in-laws. I have had a great relationship with my in-laws from day one, with the exception of the day I asked Char’s dad for his permission to marry Char… He actually initially said NO! That is a funny story for another time. We celebrated Jan’s birthday and had a good time hanging out. Charles and I played wii baseball for a couple of hours. Charlie learned how to throw the fancy pitches and got his timing down. What a slugger. It was sad to see them go but we will be back down their way in a couple of months.
The last big thing was that one of the ships at the yard passed a major milestone, the ability for the new crew to operate main engines and generators. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems and TRUXTUN’s crew had equal parts in the achievement. The company crafted the material condition of the engineering spaces to meet the needs of the crew and the crew operated the ship systems safely and in accordance with Navy procedure. Not an easy task when one considers that both teams essentially started from scratch.
Char and I are from the South so you wouldn’t think there would be much that takes us by surprise. However, there are a couple of things that still make me go, “hmm?” I take the back roads to and from work so I get a chance to see what’s off the beaten path. First question, why is the single wide mobile home still so popular? If you have ever been in a single wide, you know that it would be a unique living. Especially when you add a couple of dogs and kids. I might have figured it out coming home one day when I saw a good ole boy pulling one behind an F350. It’s all about doing it yourself I guess.
The second thing that is interesting is the decor of the garage (this is clearly for those who have moved up from the manufactured home). Every southern garage has a theme, whether it be NASCAR, college football, or professional football. You know who the man roots for if you have seen his garage. Nearly every garage has both a refrigerator and deep freeze. The refer is usually for the beer (Miller Lite for some reason) and the deep freeze is for the deer meat.
The last thing that is in the garage but usually not noticed until it’s on the road are the fake testicles hanging from the rear bumper or trailer hitch or rear differential of many 4X4 pickups. I might see 10 – 12 sets of truck testicles on my way to and from work. Some are larger than others and made with a variety of materials. My favorite are the stainless steal balls hanging from the differential. I mean that guy had to try hard to get those things up there and when he hits a bump they spark a little.