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.
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.
A couple of days cago Char was gone with a friend so it was just the kids and I. We were back in Binh’s room playing on the floor having a good time. Then all the sudden… Wham!!! Something hit me in the head so hard I didn’t know where I was for a minute. The only thing that cued me in to what happened was the fact that the toy that struck me was a battery powered Curious George and was laughing. Well, I had been playing with Binh so I turned an grabbed Ava by the arms and said No! you don’t throw toys! That hurts people, blah, blah, blah. Well the whole time she was making faces similar to the one in the picture below. She would methodically go from the “Oh” face to the “who0s” to the “Eek.” As I really tried to drive home the point that you should never throw things at people I realized that she was just being silly. It became harder and harder to keep a straight face. Finally, I gave up and just laughed. Wow, that hurt. I can appreciate her skill for getting out of trouble.
We had a very Merry Christmas. Let’s just say that Char and the kids were very good this year. Ava woke multiple times in the night in anticipation. We all got up around 6:30 (normal time) this morning. The kids rounded the corner to see the gifts Santa left (the unwrapped ones). Char said, “look at what Santa brought!” and Ava added, “from Target!” Their big gift was the Step 2 Retro Diner pictured. It is a big hit, the kids can take turns serving each other and pretend cooking.
Today marked the second traditional Daddy Christmas meal. Luckily, this year I had some help with the ham from Honey Baked Hams . Just a little word of advise, let them do it, they are really good at it. I fixed yams, green beans, corn, and rolls to go along with it. Char fixed a pecan pie and cookies last night for the feast today. Everything was delicious. So what makes holiday cooking better? Real butter, cream, and sugar! During the holidays everyone has a free pass to forget about what the health nuts say, no chemical substituted flavor. Granted we are finding out more and more that the natural stuff is still better for you in the long run anyway.
Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.
Thanksgiving has come and gone. A little bittersweet in a way. Thanksgiving is the day that many on my side of the family choose to get together but I was not able to make the trip due other obligations. A couple of weeks prior a friend that I work with invited us over for Thanksgiving and we accepted. This was the same person that gave the kids their first pony ride which can be seen here. This lady, I will call Ms. K, opened her home to four families and a couple of straggling teenagers. Char, the kids, and I all had our first experience with fried turkey. Actually, somehow I ended up being the fry daddy. It’s really not hard at all and only took an hour to cook a 13.5lb turkey. It was not greasy or heavy. Ms. K marinaded it so it had a great flavor throughout. The picture is not of ours but it looked about like this when we finished. We all had a great time with the animals. All of Ms. K’s animals are so well socialized. All the kids got pony rides and had the time of their lives. A big thanks to Ms. K!