Sunday, February 26, 2012

We're Putting The Band Back Together

I have some excellent news for all of my loyal blog readers. The blog is about to become much better. About a month ago I got a call out of the blue from my good friend, Justus. He asked me if it would be OK if he moved back in with me. You see, when I first bought my house in 1998 Preston and Justus were my first roommates. I told him to give me 15 minutes notice and I could have the Lincoln Bedroom cleared out for him. Fast forward to yesterday morning, I hadn't talked to Justus since that call a month ago. He said he was moving in. True to my words, I had that spare bedroom cleared out for him in under 15 minutes.
So back to the point of this posting. With Justus back in the house, things are bound to get more interesting. Because with Justus most things do not go smooth or according to plan. We shall see.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Roller Derby

Alright, I tried the roller skating thing and everyone backed out. Now I wish I had gone out of spite. Oh well. But here is your change to join me in watching some roller skating. Check that roller derby. Mark your calenders, March 10, 7:00 p.m. U.S. Cellular Arena. Tickets are $18 at the door.Cocktails at my house prior to the event. Let me know if you are in. Or you can just be lame and sit at home and watch tv. Live a little. Get out and do something. I will send out a reminder and another post as the date gets closer.

Chinese Acrobats

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hard to Imagine

I was jumping around the internet and found this page with some pretty cool landscape pictures. I decided to download them and share. I have no idea where most of these pictures are from. I am certain that none were taken in Milwaukee. It is pretty amazing that there are places out there that are this beautiful. It makes me want to pack up and move there.

This is a on a ski lift somewhere. I would love to ski it wherever it is.

Chinese Acrobats

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Work Work Work

I don't vent about work very often. But today sort of pushed me over the edge, so I have two things to talk about here.
There is one individual that I work with that likes to make mountains out of mole hills and tries to make himself more important that he really is. This individual, I will call him Bob, but his name is really Ed, came to talk to me today. He asked me about a training I will be helping out with for construction staff. When out on a construction project, everything needs to be documented. So if the contractor places 100 linear feet of curb and gutter, it needs to be measured and documented. This is pretty simple, you have a wheel or a tape measure and you physically measure from one end to the other. Then that number is put into a spreadsheet which then totals up all of the curb and gutter on the project. That total is then entered into a program which pays the contractor for that curb and gutter. Bob told me that people do not properly measure and document water. Water is an item that gets paid for in the unit of "mega gallon". 1 mega gallon is 1000 gallons, at least by the DOT's definition. Bob asked me "How do you measure water? You know there are at least 4 different ways to do it." I told him there are only 2 ways that I knew. The first would be if the water was taken from a city well, which would be directly from a fire hydrant and the city would put a meter on the hydrant. The second way would be to read what the capacity is of the water truck, in most cases it should be written somewhere on the side of the tank. If not, there is this thing called the internet where you can type in the make and model of the truck and it should pop up with the capacity. After I told Bob, those two, I asked "So what are the other two ways?" Bob said in a real pompous tone, "You could weigh the truck empty and full and then calculate how many gallons based on the difference in weight." I gave him that one, it was a reasonably good answer. I had never seen it done that way before, but sure, that makes sense. Then I said, "So what is the 4th way?" Bob paused and then couldn't come up with another way. To which I said, "What the hell are you telling me there are 4 ways, when you can't come up with the 4th way?" He really didn't say anything after that. You can bet that from now on, whenever I see Bob, I am going to ask him if he figured out what that 4th way is. I will try to be sincere and will explain that I want to learn as an engineer. When really I just want to put him in his place.

Now let's get into what really got me started on this rant about work. I was at a public meeting this evening to discuss my project which is starting on Monday. For safety reasons it was decided within the last month that the local road that is under the bridges that are being reconstructed will have to be closed during construction. Some residents that live on the road aren't too happy about the road being closed. The first question that came up was, "Are you going to post a detour?" Here is the answer I wanted to give, "It is a local road, which in name alone means that for the most part, only people who are local and familiar with the area use the road. Why would someone who knows the area need a detour?"
The next question was actually more of a complaint. "On Monday, every one who normally uses the road isn't going to believe that the road is closed and will be turning around in my driveway. What are you going to do about it?" This is the same individual who earlier in meeting made mention that the one of the portable changeable message signs is right next to his driveway. For the record, this portable changeable message sign was put in place a week in advance of the closure and reads "Road Closed Starting 2/20/12". The answer I wanted to give, "Other than the big sign next to your driveway that reads 'Road Closed Starting 2/20/12' what would you like me to do to alert the traveling public of this road closure? I can't read it for them."
The next question was from a concerned parent. When it was learned that the road would have to be closed, the local emergency services were notified as well as local school bus company. Due to this closure, the bus company is requiring 2 children that live on the south side of the project to walk to the nearest road on the north side of the project. It was made clear that the site will be kept as clean and safe as possible to allow for pedestrian traffic through the area. Still she was concerned about her children, she had even offered to allow the school bus to turn around in her driveway, but the school bus company would not grant her request to have the school bus go down that road. What I wanted to say was, "This project is going to happen no matter how you feel about it. I will make your children's passage as safe as possible. Other than that there isn't much I can do. I can not make the bus company do what you want them to do."
She went on to say that the road itself isn't in very good condition, the shoulders are bad and the ditches steep and is still worried about kids walking the road. I wanted to say, "So what, the road is going to be closed, your kids can walk right down the middle."
Then her husband chirped in. "What about when the guy who is on vacation for 2 weeks tries to get through, gets frustrated and then is speeding back down the road past my kids walking home from school?" What I wanted to say was "What guy? Give me his name and I will give him a call and tell him personally that the road will be closed starting Monday." Obviously his reply would have been, "I am speaking hypothetically." To which I would have replied, "Hypothetically what about the guy breaking into your house and kidnapping your kids while you are at this meeting? Are you worried about that?"

New Website

Ethan, This post is specifically for you. I know that it is impolite to correct people. But in the interest of helping educating you, I feel I must say something. There is a website called I have added it to my links. In fact I moved it to the top of the list, so it is easy to find. Resource it when posting comments, it will make you sound more intelligent. Back when I was your age and I would misspell a word, the teacher would tell me to look it up in the dictionary. I always thought, who do you look up a word in the dictionary if you don't know how to spell it. However, in today's computer age, if you go to this website you don't have to get very close to the correct spelling and you will still receive many suggestions which normally include the word you are looking for. Much easier than paging through a big book. My point, it is knives, not knifes. Just trying to help you out.

Chinese Acrobats

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chinese Acrobats

Saturday night I went with Jody, Jill, Abby and Josh to see the Chinese Acrobats at the Pabst Theater. It was pretty amazing. It was not just amazing in what they could do physically, but also that someone could think these things up and then to put in not the hours but years of practice to master these "skills". I shot a bunch of videos, so that is what you will be getting for the next week or so. Here I am with Jody Josh and Abby.
My brother, Dan, was suppose to go but he decided he would rather work. So let's pretend that he was there. He looks a little grumpy and taller than normal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wax on Wax Off

Saturday afternoon I went down to Mayfair to watch Jake and Brian break some boards. Here is Jake.Jake breaking two boards at once.I like the intensity that Brian is showing here.A picture with Jake and Brian. That is my bent finger pose that I do with Brian. Brian hurt his pinky finger playing rugby. I think he snapped a tendon and didn't get it fixed and now his pinky finger is stuck in bent at a right angle. The next time I am around Brian I will get a good picture of his finger and make sure I have the story correct.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Any Sporting Event Part 2

The event that I would want to see. It is a slam dunk. The 1980 US Hockey Team vs The Soviet Union. It was more than David vs Goliath. It was more than a sporting event. It crossed boundaries into politics, and some would say it changed the course of The Cold War and the history of the United States. How about some facts surrounding the game. In the four Olympics leading up to 1980, the Soviet team was 27-1-1, out scoring opponents 175 - 44, and won four gold metals. The scores in the Soviet games leading up to the face off with the USA, 16-0 vs Japan, 17-4 vs Netherlands, 8-1 vs Poland, 4-2 vs Finland, 6-4 vs Canada. The field house capacity at Lake Placid 8,500, can you imagine how loud a small venue like that could get? The Soviets declined a request to have the game moved from the afternoon to the evening, which would have made the game aired live. In the United States, the game was aired on tape delay. Coach Herb Brooks pre game speech ended with "You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours." The average age of the US team (21 years 8 months), the average age of the Soviet players (25 years 11 months). During the game, the Soviets had 39 shots compared to 19 by the US Team. In the final minute of the game, the Soviets did not pull their goaltender in favor of a 6th attacker. In fact, the Soviets never practiced pulling the goalie, the coach did not believe in it. Right after the clock had expired and while the dramatic scene of the US team celebrating on the ice, coach Herb Brooks ran back to the locker room and cried. The Sports Illustrated cover the following week ran with the just photo below, no captions or headlines.
Here is video of the final minute. I like the quick shot of the Soviet team dumbfounded and just standing there watching the US celebration, dare I say almost entertained by the reaction. But that was not the goal medal game. There was still the matter of defeating Finland to capture the goal. The team was down 2-1 at the 2nd intermission, during which time Herb Brooks told his team, "If you lose this game, you will take it to your graves." He paused, took a few steps toward the locker room door, turned back to his team, "To your fucking graves." and walked out. The US went on to score 3 goals in the final period and won 4-2. The Soviets went on to crush Sweden 9-2 winning the silver. While they did accept their silver metals, they declined to have their name individually inscribed on them, as is custom. A US team did not defeat a Soviet team again until 1991

Another one came up just the other day. How about Bo Kimble shooting a left handed free throw in honor of Hank Gathers, his fallen teammate who days earlier had died on the court. It was the first game of the NCAA tournament. It was known that he was going to make the tribute and as he stepped to the line, the arena was silent, and when the free throw was good, the place erupted. Some say, had Hank not died, that team would have won the whole tournament. Side note; The Loyola Marymount vs. Michigan game that same tournament, final score 149 - 115. The highest scoring tournament game in history. An average of 6.6 points per minute.
Continuing on I found this great high quality Youtube video of sports highlights. It captures about everyone other one you could think of. In watching the video, my short list of athletes and /or games I would have loved to see.
Pete Maravich while he was in college. For those that don't know, he holds the record for highest career average points per game in NCAA history at 44.2 points per game. However, they went back and looked at game tapes and calculated what his career average would have been had there been a 3 point line when he played....57 points per game! He is highly underrated as a basketball player.
I think seeing Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson in their primes wound have been a real treat.
Barry Sanders while at Oklahoma State and Herschel Walker at Georgia. A couple of things fall in Georgia's favor and they could have easily won 3 national championships in a row while Herschel was playing for them.
I can't think of a bigger college football game in recent year than Boise State vs Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. I was living in Minnesota at the time and I went to bed half way through the 3rd quarter. Big mistake.
One word: Pele.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Favorite Reader of the Year

I usually give this award out right around the New Year, but it actually takes some time to go through and calculate out all of the comments. But for the 5th year in a row Preston takes home the crown as Favorite Reader of the Year. Maybe one day I will go back and calculate all of the gyros people have won. But because Preston is the Reader of the Year he gets a Oakland Gyro Sandwich, Extra Pita and Large Rootbeer. Let me know when you want to collect. I will say this about Preston, I think his reign will becoming to an end. His comments really started tapering off towards the end of the year. I would chalk that up to a new job and two kids. For those new to the blog, my Favorite Reader of the Year is simple, it is whomever left the most comments on my blog. Here are the results from this last year:
#1. Preston - 46 comments
#2. Rickie - 34 comments (he makes the posts and leaves comments? Get a life.)
#3. Borky - 31
#4. Roman & Tree - 28
#6. Anonymous - 25
#7. Ethan - 22 (Newcomer of the Year, Julie told me that his goal was to have the most comments, and it was because of my conversation with Julie, that I finally decided to write this post)
#8. Julie - 14
#9. Sugar Lips - 8
#10. The General - 6
#11. MKA - 5

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Tax Help

Can any one recommend an accountant that would be willing to do my taxes?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

High School Drafting Assignment

I was digging through some stuff the other day and ran across this. This goes way back to my high school days. I had taken some drafting classes, and if I recall correctly, my Junior year of high school the school got their first AutoCad computers. I want to say the version was 2 or 3, for all I know it might have been the first version. I knew more about AutoCad than the teacher. That would be Mr. Piazzi. The athletic department had come to Mr. Piazzi and asked to have a campus map drawn up to be used in programs and to circulate to other schools for when they needed directions to the school. I was asked to draw something up, and I made sure that my name was on it. I recall Mr. Piazzi asking me to make my name smaller. I told him no. And there was nothing he could do about it because he didn't know how to change it. Not to mention, I had the file buried in one of the directories and named something like, "jerkweed1". The year after I graduated from high school and I was home for the weekend. That weekend the soccer team was playing in a tournament and I had a number of friends on the team, so I went to watch the game. As I walked into the football stadium they had programs, I grabbed one and I was surprised to see that they had my map in the program because some of the games were at a field off campus. Below is the map.Not surprisingly you can see that I made my name as big as any other wording on the map. I have really grown up.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Any Sporting Event

I was flipping through ESPN and I got stuck on one of their 20 different shows where they have a number of people yelling about how their opinion is the best, and this was the topic. If you could pick any past sporting event to relive and watch with the best seats in the house what would it be? This show claimed it would have to be Ali vs Frazier Number 3. I have a different event in mind, but before I reveal mine, I would like to hear yours.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Super Bowl Prediction

Here is my quick Super Bowl Prediction. Patriots 32 - Giants 26. Brady MVP.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Two Rivers

I was out of town for most of this week. I was in Two Rivers Wisconsin where my company is overseeing the construction of a movable bridge. It isn't one of my projects, but the engineer on site had to take some training classes and I filled in for him. I thought I would show you just how boring engineering work can be. Here is the bridge, you can see two cofferdams have been build and on the near side of the bridge they are driving piles.Here is a close up of the piles. In this particular case, bed rock is 120 feet below the water line. Normally a pile driver would be used to get the piles to the proper depth, but since it is 120 feet of muck the piles are just being vibrated down to 110 feet.Here is a concrete pump truck. We poured somewhere around 500 yards of concrete on the seal pour. The seal pour is within the cofferdam. This creates a seal and then the cofferdam can be pumped out and the bridge pier footings can be poured.Here they are getting a clog out of the pump.Since the seal is below the water, about 25 feet, there is nothing to see during the seal pour. Just the end of the concrete pump truck in the water. Incredibly unexciting.The pour was to start at 7:00 a.m. But there were problems with the concrete being out of specifications. We (I) rejected 12 trucks (108 cubic yards of concrete) before we poured anything into the water. The first concrete didn't hit the water until 9:30 a.m. The pour stretched out until 6:30 p.m. Here you can see some splicing of the piles going on (on the left). To reach 120 feet down, 2 60 foot sections of piles need to be welded together. This bridge has right around 100 piles that need to be driven 120 feet at $45 per foot of pile. Some quick math, that is $540,000. I forgot how much it was per cubic yard of concrete. But the first seal pour had a plan quantity of 433 cubic yards and the next seal pour is close to 1,000 cubic yards. I know, this is some real exciting stuff. Kids, do not grow up to be an engineer.Here you can see all of the piles that need to be driven.
And that is the life of an engineer.