Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkeys Can Fly

When the kids were home over Thanksgiving, we went to the iFly tube in Tukwila. It was a blast. Some of us took to the air better than others. In the video, Whitney flies for the 2nd time and stays aloft pretty well. Alex, McKenzie's boyfriend, flew like an ostrich, a lot of flapping and a couple crashes.

Otherwise, it was great to have the kids home for the Thanksgiving weekend.Add Image

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mother's Day - Finally

A year ago I bought concert tickets for Mother's Day for Melanie to a band which I really wanted to see but which Melanie was only okay with. At about the same time, Melanie had a life-long dream to see another band. Both bands were supposed to be in Seattle during the Summer of 2010. I bought tickets to my band for Mother’s Day and she bought tickets to her band for Father’s Day.

As it turned out, Melanie’s Eagles came to town in 2010 and my U2 had to postpone the concert for a year.

Last weekend U2 arrived at Qwest Field.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Hobby

Bought a pile of steel parts over the past several months. Sold a bunch of excess baggage on Craig's List and e-bay to raise the money. Assembly was easy after watching several videos on YouTube. Had to borrow a few tools from an armory wizard.

Didn't have all the tools and vises so I improvised. Here is a shot of a jig to hold the gas block steady while the gas tube pin is set in place.

Here is the assembly when the scope arrived. Scope came with Weaver rings so I had to buy high rise Picatinny rings - much nicer and beefy enough to handle the abuse. In this shot the butt stock is collapsed.

Here is the final assembly with a leather sock on the flash suppressor to keep it from scratching the table.

Specs on the assembly:
> Bored for 5.56 mm
> Aero Precision upper & lower receivers
> Magpul adjustable butt stock
> Black Hole Armory 16" stainless steel heavy barrel
> 3-Land Polygonal bore
> Yankee Hill Phantom flash suppressor
> Yankee Hill free floating forearm, semi-smooth, carbine length
> Yankee Hill over-sized take-down pins
> Bushnell 6X24-50mm mil dot reticle scope with red & green illumination

Shot 50 rounds through it trying to sight the scope but couldn't make the adjustment. However, I could hold high and to the right to make up the difference and at 100 yards, hit the 4" steel plate every time. Small bullet can deliver a lot of energy. I'd hate to be a Talibani in the cross hairs of a US Marine looking down the barrel of an M-16.

Scope sent back to manufacturer for repair, dang-it. Hope to have it back soon.

No recoil to speak of. Maybe too much scope but my plan was to compromise between a varmint gun and a tactical gun. Could have gone with a longer barrel but that would have been too long for hog hunting and self defense. H-bar was the compromise to make it suitable for long-range varmint shooting. After the scope gets back, it will be sighted for 200 yards. We'll see.

Most parts were purchased at Surplus Ammo and Guns in Tacoma, WA. They have good prices. Hand guard was purchased from in Florida. Again, a good price and excellent service and knowledgeable. Fast shipping.

A shout out to all those who are and have served our great country in the military services. We remember you on this Memorial Day weekend.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter Blues

Has my blog gotten stale? It has only been since May 2009 that my last posting was published. It was hard to focus on it this past several months, not that there hasn't been a lot going on, it has just been difficult to commit.

Enough has occurred that I should explain.

In April last year, the company for which I was working moved most of its people from the office here in Federal Way to their new office building in San Antonio, TX. Although the company was good to work for, I wasn't enjoying my situation and it had turned into a low-grade maintenance job where I was renewing leases and closing gas stations. All the fun parts of the job had gone away and the tedium was all that remained. I left the company and became one of the millions of unemployed.

Having a good wife with a good education and profession was a blessing during the past year. We took my severance money and socked it away in one of those high-yield CD's paying o.5% annual interest and settled into a long job search. We interviewed in the East Bay area, Dallas and Boise. In August we got a job offer in Boise, where I personally really wanted to land. It was with Idaho Power as manager of their real estate department - it was tempting. However, Melanie would have to change jobs and start over. In the end we turned down the job and continued to look more locally.

At about the same time, I had spent a week doing some research for a local trust company which is owned by a family friend. This company was expanding its line of business to allow people who own an IRA to buy and hold real estate in their IRA. Since the big brokerage houses where most IRA and 401-K money is located don't allow that much flexibility, this trust company wanted to try and serve that expanding market. Only about a dozen companies in the country do this so the prospects looked terrific. I designed their program as well as additions to their website, wrote a guidebook and set up procedures.

To be short, one thing led to another and we started a new company together. Three of us are partners and we are looking for investment deals where we will be the equity partners and will bring in others to finance. Our first deal just started to produce revenue this past week so we are hopeful it will work out for us. I'm the manager of the day-to-day operation and keep busy trying to remember the accounting classes I has at BYU in the early 1980's. The work we already have lined up should keep me busy at least through Spring 2011. This also allows me to relieve some of the pressure from Melanie who has kept us afloat this past year.

Through this, I have seen the the hand of God preparing the way for us and helping to make our path more clear. Had we taken the Boise job, we would have missed this opportunity. We feel our prayers have been answered and must give credit where it rightfully belongs.

IN OTHER NEWS - After playing Turkey Bowl with Brandon and Curt last Thanksgiving at the local Middle School football field, I had to find another exercise program. My knees were shot from schooling the high school and college boys on the gridiron. During 2009 I had run over 700 miles since I had a lot of time to myself while looking for work. When the doctor told me I had torn my meniscus on my left knee, I decided to take up rollerblading to get my daily fitness fix.

One night while out for a roll, I got going down a small hill a little faster than my comfort zone would tolerate. I knew a cul de sac just ahead had an incline to it and if I could make the turn, I could bleed off my speed and get under control. Halfway into the turn I noticed a small Toyota parked right near the end of my trajectory. The last thing I heard was the captain's calm voice saying "Brace for Impact!"

The pain wasn't terrible but I was too afraid to skate home. I straightened the mirror on the car and left. About a block away I sat down and took off the skates and walked the rest of the way in my socks.

My wrist was broken and my thumb wouldn't extend out. The doctor had to borrow one of the spare tendons in my index finger to connect to the torn thumb tendon.

Surgery went well but the doc had to search for the loose ends by opening windows up my arm.

This will be my friend until March 17th. Everything moves now though maybe not as well as originally. If the thumb doesn't extend as far as normal we may have to go back in to shorten the tendon a little. The doc calls it a "nip & tuck". Maybe I'll have him do the same thing to my belly while I'm out. That way I wont need an exercise program.

These past months have taught me a lot. Life is more than making a living and there is a difference between "Fun" and "Happiness". I've also discovered how important my marriage is and how much I can rely on my sweet wife. She has been the foundation in our home since the beginning and continues to be the most reliable partner I could wish for.

Finally, we had the best time with our family at the reunion this past Summer. Thanks to Alan and Helga for a great time and all their work putting it together. Here we are at the Grand Canyon with our exchange student.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Exploring Hidden Corners

After 21 years in Western Washington, our family is still discovering hidden corners of beauty just a few miles from home. With a few days to enjoy Whitney at home, we looked for a short hike where we have never been. We wanted a place within an hour's drive and settled on Wallace Falls State Park just outside Gold Bar on Highway 2 east of Monroe. The drive in mid-morning was uneventful and easy - no gravel roads, no traffic. Only a few cars in the parking lot.
The trail follows the Wallace River into the Cascade foothills. Even through I have only been through God Bar a couple times before, I had never noticed the falls, which are easily seen from the valley floor a couple miles away. The trail was marked by the typical legal warnings which keep the government from being sued by ignorant people who have no judgments. In this case, McKenzie brought along a marker and changed the sign to make it more appropriate for the college boys she knows. The lower falls were interesting but not spectacular. It would be fun to see them when a raging torrent is boiling through the canyon.

At the middle falls, the scene opens up to a gorgeous view of the valley below. You can't buy this picture in Texas. You don't know how hard it was for McKenzie to sit for this shot. The smile disappeared as fast as it flashed.

This is the middle falls - a spectacular series of pools and cliffs. Hiking to this point is a small challenge but well worth the effort. In winter, this would be even more beautiful with the mist frozen on the rocks and trees. It is definitely on the list for a short winter jaunt.
At the upper falls is the end of the trial. One has to hike to the end, even though the view isn't nearly as rewarding as the middle falls. For a 2.7 mile hike to the top, it was satisfying. Knowing that we didn't quit was joy in itself. Being with my wife and kids brings me a lot of pleasure, more now that they are adults than before. I thought the teenage years were good - these are better.
Exploring the beauties around us should have been a bigger priority these past 21 years. There must still be hundreds of places near our home which we have yet to discover. Like this gem, it was hiding just a few miles from home, giving enjoymnet and recreation to anyone willing to seek it out.

Spring Has Delivered Hope

After all the cold weather and snow from this past winter, we had a week of optimism and hope. It seemed we were bogged down since the first of the year in endless discomfort, longing for brighter days. The snow kept falling right up to the first week of April, the days were dark and cold. When the month of March was colder than the month of February, it seemed we would never emerge into the light.
When the sun finally broke through, it brought a sense of relief and anticipation. Blossoms bring the expectation of future fruit, flowers bring the bright colors of joy.

It is a reminder to me that even when things are despairing, when our battles seem lost and when light cannot shine through, that there is something to which we can still aspire. In Seminary we are nearing the book of Revelation. The great message of that book is that in the end, the winner will be clear, that this contest is not going to end in a tie score. At the moment it might even feel like we are losing, that the momentum is all with our opponent and his team of miscreants who go about tearing down everything wholesome and clean. The pressure on us is bearing down more each day making it feel irreversible. But, in the end, Good overcomes in a big victory. When ten thousand times ten thousand ascend to the highest station, that is a large contingent of winners.
As these flowers open their pedals to the summer sun, I am filled with anticipation of warmer, joyful days ahead. I don't despair nor waiver but look with hope to ever-brighter days ahead.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Arnold Has a Friend

With a few days of sun, Arnold started to explore our yard. He finally became bored with the front porch and roamed around in the warmth. Finding Mole, Arnold decided to make friends. They wanted their photo taken so I took this candid shot. Mole is a little shy being a nocturnal mammal, hiding underground, looking for worms and generally playing hard to get. He is fuzzy and clean despite tunneling everywhere he goes. You can see how strong his front paws are with long nails and a pointed snout for pushing through the dirt.
Here is another shot of his paw. Hind legs only push forward and help him scurry about. No hair is wasted on his pointed tail, much like a gopher which is more common in Idaho. You can also see the hole just behind where Mole came out. Just after this photo was taken, Mole went right back into the hole for the last time, never again to see the light of day.