Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years - LASER Fire

As some of you know, we have a 35 watt laser engraver that we use to create artwork, build prototypes, and sometimes make a few extra dollars doing wedding glasses and such. The primary rule of the laser is to NEVER leave it unattended when it is in cutting mode.

Engraving mode could have some problems, but the laser is firing tiny blasts of power to create a pattern on the surface of the material. When in cutting mode however, it is usually running at full power burning it's way completely through the material. On a lightweight material it can overheat and catch fire... usually you can just blow it out. But what if the machine was being run with nobody around to watch over it?

Bad things happen.

This is what I found when I came home from working in Connecticut. (I also had a bad case of kidney stones while there... so it's been a rough month.)

This is what the laser looked like when I opened the top... full of ashes, badly burned interior, and the optical head would not move more than an inch [25mm] in either direction. (Normally it moves 24 inches [600mm] in the X-Axis.)

You can click on any image to get a larger view.

I knew that the unit sustained high temperatures and that the X-Axis gantry contained not only the lens assembly to focus the laser on the target, but the electronics and optical encoder system that allows the precise positioning of the unit. I was hoping that the optical encoder was intact as it is an expensive part due to the accuracy needed to produce it.

After opening up the gantry cover I saw what I was really up against. The cooling hose had completely melted and had to be cut away... this gave me an idea into just how much heat had been generated... it was not a small fire in there.

The optical encoder which is pivotal in the overall accuracy of the machine was melted in a couple of spots... one bad area will throw off the entire machine so it needed to be completely replaced.

The ribbon cable which carries the power and position signals to the processor sustained major damage and also needed to be replaced, but the socket it plugs into was intact. If the rest of the lens assembly was in good shape it wouldn't be too expensive, but would take a good deal of labor. (I have the skills needed.)

When I examined the auto-focus switch, a plunger assembly on the bottom of the lens housing, that's when I started to get a bad feeling. It was frozen in place which meant that the unit probably melted in place. I would need to pull the lens assembly off for shipment to Epilog Laser for repair or replacement.

After looking closely at the lower lens, I saw that it had sustained heat in the fire too... and if it has any materials fused to it, the assembly will need to be torn down and the lens replaced. That is likely expensive and will also mean that I will need to do a complete alignment on the machine.

I'm still hopeful that they won't need to run a calibration on the machine... if they do I have two choices... fly a tech here or ship the machine to Golden, Colorado. The best price I can find right now is $300 shipping each way.

So for the moment it looks like this is the shopping list for the replacement parts... but I won't know until Epilog reopens in January and I speak with the tech there. I'll send him (or her) this blog so they can evaluate it better.

I also have images posted on Photobucket so they can take a closer look.

Replacement Parts List

* X-Axis Belt Assembly
* Top Cover
* Cooling Hose
* Optical Encoder Strip
* Ribbon cable Assembly
* Plunger switch
* Lower Lens (possibly)
* Optical Encoder Sensor (Possibly)

Stay tuned for more information as I find out.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A hot time in Kyle Texas

Well last night I got an interesting phone call from Eve. She was cutting foam board on the laser to make Christmas ornaments. That was fine... but with foam board you need to cut it to fit inside the machine... if you don't, and it sticks out... when the parts are cut out the board in the machine now weighs less than the board sticking out of the machine. This means that unless the foam board is taped down, or propped up, it can tip up and hit the lens assembly which could cause damage.

Whenever doing a vector cut (cutting through a material) there is more power being delivered to the material than during raster marking. As a result, you want to pay particular attention to the material being cut at that time. (I had a piece of walnut catch fire and had to blow it out once.)

Eve set up a job in the machine with foam board and had the material sticking out of the machine, she started the cut, then went back to her office to finish up a drawing she was working on. The machine cut out the parts, and now that the foam board in the machine was lighter than the part sticking out, it tipped up and jammed into the optics of the machine. That wasn't very good... but because she wasn't in the room... when it caught fire, she didn't know about it until the fire alarms started going off.

By the time she got in there the main drive belt melted and burned, the top cover deformed and charred, and the entire assembly was filled with soot. I'm still in Connecticut for another week... so I don't know if the upper optical encoder is toast or if it was protected by the cover, and I don't know if the laser fused the soot to the optical glass as the beam was still at 100% power the whole time.

I'll know more when I can disassemble it and take a closer look. For now however, the laser is definitely out of service. I'm just glad the upper door didn't ignite or it could have been much worse. (Remember, there was an air compressor and a vent system pulling air through it too.)

If the optics didn't get toasted, I should have to replace the belt, replace the lid, and clean the machine, then do a calibration on it. If the optics are messed up then it gets more complicated and we will need to drive it to Colorado to be repaired. (I priced shipping the unit... $288.00 each way.) Eve is okay... that's important, and the house didn't get damaged aside from being a bit smoky so I'm thankful for that.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Connecticut - The Starbucks Run

Eve likes to collect the Starbucks mugs... and since I was pretty much just sitting around the hotel this weekend, I decided to do something special for her and get the Boston mug. I mad a few calls... I'm glad I did... not everyplace has them. Then I found a Starbucks just under two hours from here that had not only the new series, but the older, hard to find version too. It was time for a road trip.

After I made the video and posted it... I ran across this next video. I usually post only my stuff here... but this was pretty good... and it made me laugh... so it was worth it.

Usually I can stay fairly positive while away... but this week... I just feel like being at home, doing stuff around the house, and being with Eve. I have two more weeks to go before I get home... then only for a day or so and I'm off to Canada. It has been quite a month or so.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Connecticut - The Last Minute Job and Thanksgiving

I'm in a motel room in Connecticut tonight trying to figure out exactly what I am doing tomorrow. At first I was told to be here a week or two from now... so I had a friend who was going to visit me that I haven't seen in about five years now; he's been living in Norway.

I was very excited that he was going to travel to see me and spend a week with me including his birthday. Two days before he got to the house I received an email from work... I had to be in Connecticut for a job. I had to leave the house about 4:30AM to make my flight... and my friend George wasn't going to get in to San Antonio until about 9:30PM the night before. That meant that I would drive an hour, get him, get back home, pack my stuff, then leave in just four or five hours to be at work. I was pretty bummed out about that.

Well... I picked him up and took him to a late dinner, showed him the new house where I live, then after a few hours (we all stayed up all night) I got on a taxi and headed to the airport. Normally I get a good taxi... this time the guy was nice enough, but he was a large man and he smelled like sweat and Old Spice... not a very good combination. I rode with the window partially down, and it only marginally helped.

I got the the airport earlier than expected... almost 2 hours before I was due to catch the plane... but as fate turned out... that was a good thing. The line for security went completely beyond the normal area, down the hall, doubled on it's self, went past the ticket counters to the far wall, doubled again, and came about 3/4 of the way back. I got my boarding pass, turned left, and the line was right there. (Normally it is about 200 feet away.)

Just as I reached the gate they started to announce the boarding procedure, so I took a chance, got something hot to eat... and made it in okay. As it turned out, they needed someone to take the emergency seat... which is more leg room for me... so I swapped gladly. I never felt the flight take off... the next thing I knew they were collecting the drink cups and getting ready to land.

When I landed in Cincinnati, I headed right for Starbucks to see if they had one of the series mugs... and they did. I picked one up for Eve, then jogged to the plane in time to get my seat. I fell in and out of sleep most of the flight, never even took my iPOD out of the case. (Wouldn't matter if I did... I forgot my earpiece.)

I went to get my rental car but apparently took the wrong one... so a trip around the lot later... I was in another (quite less sexy) car... and heading out to the hotel. When I got to the location about an hour or so later... I found out it is actually a Motel... like something built around 1950 or so... clean... but not what I'm used to... no hot tub, no pool, no exercise area, and no business center to scan my documents. The internet has been pretty zippy... so that's a plus... and there was a pharmacy a block away, so I got my supplies.

Now I'm waiting on another team member to arrive about 9:30PM or so... then we will sort out tomorrow. I need cables and tools... so with luck my teammates will have them for me when they arrive... otherwise it's going to be an interesting day tomorrow.


The tools never did get here... but I was able to borrow enough to get through the first couple of days.

And this just in... the Thanksgiving video.

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Grand Kids

I was in Houston taking classes this last week... as fate would have it, it was also Colby's birthday... and since I don't get to see them as often as I like... we made a party for the three kids. (Colby, Josh, and Nickolas)

Terryann put up a photobucket album that came out nicely. Click Here to see it.

I also made a short YouTube video for you...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Radio Testing in New York / New Jersey

It's been a bush couple of months for me lately. I have been testing new radio systems in New York and in New Jersey. I thought I would give you an inside view into what drive testing is like... just a typical day for us in the field.

Let's start with the testing in Long Island, New York.

Then we will jump over to New Jersey where I worked with the police in Bergen County to verify another new system. I worked with a great bunch of guys there... nicest people you could ask for.

My daughter Rebecca posted a video of her work... she is an actress and model... I couldn't find a way to embed the facebook video, but here are the links:




Monday, October 18, 2010

Craft Fair And Other Stuff

I'm up in Long Island, New York for another two weeks working, and while up here I was going through my video files and arranging them. I also found that I had footage from when Eve and I did our first craft fair together. I composed it and uploaded it for your enjoyment...

We had fun and actually made a few dollars too... we are now gearing up for a very large fair in Wimberly, TX which is about 45 minutes from our house in Kyle, TX. Hopefully all goes well.

I also made some tutorial videos and sorted out my files on the YouTube page. Later I hope to add more if I get the time to edit them this week. I visited my sister Helen in New Jersey again... but it was a bit chilly to do any swimming this time around. I do have an interesting video to share about events here at the hotel... the fire alarm kept going off one night and I ended up sleeping in the car for a few hours. (Oh fun.)

Talk to you soon!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Getting ready to return to Austin (Kyle) Texas

I'm finished my project here in Long Island NY, and I'm packing everything up getting ready for my flight home tomorrow. Since I thought I might need my second monitor for work, I have two suitcases. This turned out to be very convenient since I picked up a few things when visiting my sister these last couple of weekends. Eve's birthday is coming up on the 13th of October, and I took the opportunity to hit the Jersey Shore and pick up a few things that I'm sure she will like. (She loves the ocean.)

It looks like I'll end up here again in a week or so... that's fine... another chance to visit my sister and her family. You never know how long your loved ones will be around... so enjoy them while you can. It works the other way too... who knows how long I'll be around... so I'm sure they enjoy seeing me.

It's funny... I still don't feel like I'm going "home"... ever since moving out of "my house" in Overland, I feel like a transient. I just have no feeling of having any "roots" anywhere now. Don't get me wrong, the place we are renting is fine... it's clean, everything works, and it's centrally located... it just doesn't feel like "home" to me. I really don't feel much difference between there and this hotel room... except that more of my "stuff" is there as opposed to here.

I realize that in all likelihood I'll never own a house now. With the cost of houses and all... Texas has a 40 year mortgage... which means I'll pay on some place until I'm 90 presuming I live that long. Even a 30 year loan won't be paid until I'm 80... and if I do live that long... we will probably go for a reverse mortgage to live on in our old age. Funny how that works... I was certain that my home would be paid when I hit 50... I had it all worked out... then everything changed. It changed my whole perspective on life, relationships, everything.

I have learned not to take anything for granted... nothing is permanent. Even your best plans are all written in sand... and not far from the winds and ocean waves... all subject to change or to be erased completely. Things that I never used to think about now keep coming to mind... I never needed glasses... I could read the finest print on a microchip with no problem... now I can't see the microchip, and couldn't use this computer without my glasses. I used to run a mile in six minutes flat... now just getting up from a chair can be a chore sometimes... everything is stiff. When I get moving it gets better... and I am thankful for that... but if I drop something and need to get on my knees to pick it up... I need to brace myself for the pain I will feel both getting down, and getting back up. Now I look at things I did before... jumping over fences, running hard, and climbing trees... all with a new respect.

I wonder what really old age is going to be like... but not too much... instead I believe I'll enjoy what I can do now while I can still do it. I go to the gym and work hard. When my joints hurt I increase the speed until I can't stand it anymore... then when I go back to my normal speed it seems trivial and painless. I guess that's how you have to look at life... when it hurts and goes wrong you can give up... or fight until you have nothing left... then if you survive... it doesn't seem quite as bad. I'm learning to fight... to stick around at least one more day... just to see what happens next.

That's my thoughts for the day... peace, out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New York / New Jersey

September has proven to be an interesting month, and full of travel too. My employer needed someone to travel to New York to test out a new communications system and assigned me to the job. As I was going to be here for several weeks (I'm here now) I decided that instead of flying back to Texas on the weekends, I would make a drive to the South Jersey shore and visit my sister Helen and brother Vincent.

While I was there, I wanted to shoot some home movies and share them with you so that you could see what it's like there. It has sure changed since I left back in the 1980's... there are some places that I no longer recognize.

On the second week I got to go back and do some more video... this time more of a home movie rather than a documentary style. It is an inside view into my somewhat crazy family... and after seeing it... you will likely get a better idea of why I am the way I am.

Today (September 28th) is also my daughter's birthday... so I'd like to wish Rebecca a very happy birthday today!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August has been a busy month so far.

We have been keeping busy this August... it started off with a trip to yet another swimming hole that we didn't know about... Krause Springs. This is about an hour away... but the drive goes pretty quick. It is private property, they charge $5 a person... but we feel that it was worth it.

Next up... my friend Marshall came over to work on a robot project... but we decided to do some swimming first. It was his first time at San Marcos so we just had a great time playing in the waterfall...

The rest of the month looks like I'll be in New York for work... but I may get to visit my sister during the next weekend. If I do... I'm sure there will be more pictures and video to follow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

End of July - Eve's Oasis 6 and the Waterfall Video

So July is nearly over... and it's been an exciting and fun summer down here in Kyle Texas... lots to do all summer long. First off we'll start with the latest installment of Eve's Oasis, Part 6... Sunflowers. We had some fun adding animation to this video... I hope you enjoy it!

Eve's Oasis Part 6 - Sunflowers

Next up... my crazy day down in San Marcos on the river... or more correctly in the river being insane!

Waterfalls and Fishes

I hope you enjoy... we were really experimenting with adding animations here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bull Creek

Eve planned a surprise for me today... she had me drive to Bull Creek... but I didn't know where we were going... I just followed our GPS until it said we were there. A little creek crosses over the road... that's how you know you are there.

The water is really warm because the sun shines through the shallow (3in / 7.5cm) water to the rock below and heats it. We had a great time... it was like swimming in a bathtub.

On the beginning of the video there is a picture of a bull... I didn't draw it... as I was walking I saw a chipped area of rock under the water and noticed it was bull shaped. I took a picture and when I was making the video I decided to use it in the title. I should have made a short video... then it would have had that wavy effect... but I still really like it.

YouTube didn't like that I had a bit of the JAWS soundtrack... so I had to re-render the video.

Oh... we don't work for EZ's restaurant... we just like to eat there!

Be sure to watch the "blooper reel" at the end of the video too.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Eve got a job today!

So today started off well... Eve had an appointment for a job as a nurse for a really good hospital here in Austin. This was the type of job where the location is great, the hospital is great, and you almost think that it won't happen because it is just too good to be true.

But the key is that you have to believe in yourself and go for what you want in life. She did... and I just got the phone call which confirms that her interview went very well... they offered her the job she wanted at the salary she wanted too... wonderful news for us! I am very proud of her... always have been... glad to see she got the job she wanted too!

~ Eve's Oasis ~

We also have more videos online as well... the Eve's Oasis series is moving along nicely... we may even be starting to get a following too. That gives her great encouragement to do more... something she needs... the gardening really helps her.

Eve gets a new rolling chair to help with working in the plans at waist level without needing to kneel or bend over.

In this video she gets a new wagon that proves very useful as she needs to re-pot many of her plants which should be in less nitrogen rich soil. She also refines her theme song a bit more with her solo recorder performance.

Stay tuned for more to come!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 4th and Fun in the Garden

Well it certainly has been a fun few days here in Ole Kyle Texas. We went swimming in Barton Creek, had a great meal together, and went out to see the fireworks which were just around the corner from the house. Afterward we returned home to find our neighbors setting off yet another fireworks display.

I hope you enjoy the video!

Eve looked at the video and wanted to make a companion piece that showed much of the video segments I had cut out... a behind-the-scene version for our friends and family. So with me at the controls and Eve playing the part of director... we produced this version that I like to call "The Director's Cut".

Today Eve was back in her garden gathering Basil and got so excited she called me to come make an impromptu video to show it off... Enjoy!

Let us know if you like the videos... your comments are always welcome!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Welcome to July - Gardining with Eve

Wow... halfway through the year already? Pretty close... and so far it's been a great Texas summer. People say that it's too hot here in Texas... but if you avoid the middle of the day we find that it's just fine.

Eve has been wanting to do some serious gardening since finding out how long the growing season is here... and the result is a collection of new videos for your enjoyment.

Eve's Oasis - Part 1

In this video Eve introduces her garden and shows you around. It was the single longest video series I have recorded to date... over an hour or more of footage. I weeded it down (no pun intended) to fit within the YouTube limit of ten minutes. Her monologue goes on for over twenty minutes in the original video... but this section has been trimmed and has a Home Garden Channel flavor that I think you will enjoy.

Eve's Oasis - Part 2

Here we move onto the addition of new raised platforms so that Eve can sit on a chair and work the plants without needing to bend over constantly. Her goal is to grow herbs to sell in the local farmer's markets.

It's the attack of the Tomato Hornworms... Oh no!

We were very surprised to see these monsters in the garden... each one over 2 and a half inches long. (6.5 cm) We thought they would turn into some kind of beautiful butterfly... but sadly no... they are just a pest. It was a good thing we found them before they destroyed the tomato plants!

I think you will like this short video... it was done in a news broadcast format just for fun.

If you like these videos then stay tuned as I'm sure more will follow later in the summer as our progress continues.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

San Marcos River - Part One

I live about ten minutes from the San Marcos River which is just South of Kyle Texas. Sometimes I'll finish work early and hop in the car for a quick swim in the clear and swift current which is also great exercise for me.

In this video we started at the Saltgrass Restaurant about one mile from the rapids where we decided to have some dinner and relax. Eve had just bought me an underwater housing the week before... so I told her to order her drink and relax a bit while I took a quick swim to test out the rig in the river.

After the swim I went to the parking lot, changed into a dry shirt and shoes... and went back for a great meal. I'm sure I'll be making more videos of the river as it is one of my favorite places to go.

If you get to visit the river please notice the wild rice grass flowing gracefully... it is endangered as this is the only place where it grows. It needs a steady, clear, constant temperature year round which the river provides. The river is between 68 to 70 degrees all year... people even swim here in the winter.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Building A Dam

It was another hot June day here in the Austin area and we had a meeting downtown about 10:00, so we brought along our bathing suits "just in case" we decided to go for a swim. After the meeting we stopped by the local Goodwill to get some glassware and other odds-&-ends. Afterward we headed for Barton Springs Road between Congress and First Street where there is a really good snow-cone place. They also had some Sushi, Cajun, and Mexican food there, so we got a byte to eat, a nice cold snow-cone, and headed further down the road to Barton Springs.

Eve leisurely floated in the stream while I was busy playing with my new underwater housing for my camera. (A birthday present from Eve.) I met some guys who were moving rocks around and building a dam... so I joined in as I had the same idea last time when I was at the creek.

It's amazing what 20 guys, four hours, and 4000 rocks can do...

All in all... it was a lot of work, a great deal of fun, and it looks like it made a bunch of people happy. I'd love to go back and find out that others have added to the little dam and made it bigger and stronger. I wonder if it will be there next time... or if people and the currents will tear it down. I suppose I'll have to wait and see!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

50th Birthday and Port Aransas

It's already June 15th for another half hour at least... and I still haven't posted about my birthday yet. This year was the BIG 50 for me... and it was bittersweet. I found out my divorce went through on my birthday... which means that all the effort I put in over the last decade with Carol (wife number 2) was for naught... all washed away with only rubble left behind. (Not something I wanted to dwell on during my "big day" you can imagine.)

On the other hand, I'm with Eve now, and things are at last starting to look up a bit... she passed her nursing exam... a real hard one too... she has been studying for months. This means that she now has her Texas license and can start to look for work... it also means that I'll be able to start catching up on the last of the debt acquired while with Carol... and hopefully be able to at long last have a happy life.

Eve really cares about me... and she wanted to do something special so she decided to take me to Port Aransis on the Gulf of Mexico (before BP screws that up too) for some swimming and fun. She also got me an underwater housing for my camera... which is WAY-KOOL because I can take pictures on the beach and under water now.

We made the 3 plus hour drive there... not bad really... and were able to park right on the beach. I used to go to the beach in Pensacola with Terryann (wife number 1) but we always had to park what seemed a mile from the beach. This was right there... I mean really... on the sand... walk into the water. It was great. There was a big pile of seaweed on the beach... about 6 inches deep... and there was plenty of it in the water as well. But it didn't really bother me... with all that "stuff" in the water there were no jellyfish, and it was not what sharks would swim in because it would likely clog up their gills. So for me... perfect.

The water was pretty wavy too... not huge "knock you down" waves... but about 3 foot so they packed a nice enough punch to go along on a boogie-board. (We ended up getting two... Eve bought them for us.) We spent a couple of hours in the surf... then went out shopping for an umbrella and the boogie boards... then went back in for another two or three hours. It was an all day affair... we got to Olive Garden about 10:00 and had a late dinner. (Not so good for my diet... oh well.)

After dinner we went home and pretty much wound down and headed for bed. All in all... I would call it a pretty good day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Weekend - Heading into Monday

This is turning out to be a pretty busy Memorial Day weekend, hot and sunny. Eve and I have a way of finding places to keep cool... but around this area of Texas there are plenty of places to go... a real hidden treasure of rivers, streams and places to enjoy nature if you know where to look.

Right in the middle of town is Barton Springs... we went there today to enjoy swimming by the dam in the area where people bring their dogs and kids. There is an area you can pay to go to... but I find it boring like a swimming pool. This side is more interesting with shallow and deep areas... quiet and with a current... depending where you go and what you feel like.

Yesterday we just went to the side of the road off Farmers Road 150, there is a place that has a few storm pipes under the road... it has a fast current but is only about 6 inches deep. It's nice to sit in and just cool off. But rather than tell you about it, let me show you.

Saturday's Side of the Road Cool Down

Sunday at Barton Springs

I like doing this videos for people... it is a great way of telling them about what we do. I would like to see what you are up to as well... so don't be afraid to share!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Weekend on the Horizon

It's Friday before the Memorial weekend... usually a big deal, party time, etc.  My plan was to drive to St Louis this weekend to get some of my stuff from the storage unit... but finances being tight, unfortunately that isn't going to happen for awhile now. I got the tax results... I owe a large amount... so it may be a couple of years before I can accomplish that goal. I'm looking for ways to make extra cash... and I'm staying as positive as I can given the circumstances.

I've got three days with no real plans, and I'm hoping that something will present its-self so I'll have something interesting to do.... hopefully nothing to do with repairs, finances, or work. Perhaps we will go to San Marcos and do some swimming... more likely not... the place will be crawling with people this weekend. Usually we like to go there on a Tuesday afternoon after I have finished my work... it's not too crowded, and we usually have a good time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gung Fu

I like to expand my horizons... so while looking at some random blogs I discovered one from a tea aficionado who was very much into the Chinese art of Gungfu. Many people have heard of the Japanese tea ceremony and the many rituals involved, but not as many are familiar with the Chinese form even though it predates the Japanese version by centuries.

The Chinese version appeals to me because as an engineering type of person I like things to have a reason and function... with less emphasis being placed on just artistic appeal. The Chinese Gungfu is a series of steps which may seem overly ornate and elaborate to the casual observer, but what I like is that each step has a function.

You will see the host pour water on the tealeaves, then take that tea and pour it out over the cups for example. It seems wasteful to make tea then pour it out. But there is a reason for this... the hot water hits the leaves and starts a reaction that takes time... and the first flavors released are often bitter in taste. Pouring the tea out over the cups serves two functions, it preheats the cups for later, and it allows the aroma to fill the air which enhances the effect.

Later, when the next steeping of the tea is made, the leaves open up more and yield a more delicate flavor that the guests can enjoy. The cups are very small... and one may think that it would make more sense to serve a more generous serving... but by using a small cup, the tea is steeped several times, and each time the tea opens up more and it's flavor changes slightly. Each serving becomes a new experience and therefore more enjoyable.

At some point I may write a web page to explain the entire process... but for now I have found several very useful videos that cover this process and are very interesting if you want to experience something new.

The Basics
The Chinese make several different teas... as does the rest of our world... so they created a Giawan from a different type of clay that can be cleaned and not hold the deeper aromas of some teas. It too has a ceremony or series of steps to allow the users to really enjoy the full flavor and aroma of the teas.

Using a Giawan
So now I have learned something unique, interesting, and cultural that I can share with my friends.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Middle of May

It's the middle of May already... not much has changed around here. I'm waiting for my divorce papers and Eve is still studying for her nursing exam. I've started putting images on Photobucket to keep the family up-to-speed as to what is going on in our lives... what little adventures we have had, etc.

You can check out the images here:

I have been getting into photography as a way to deal with my stress... taking pictures and working on them in Picassa is calming for me... so I do as much as I can to keep myself occupied.

I have also been starting to put together videos for YouTube with a software package called Vegas Video that I got for work. I'm doing it because it's fun and it helps me to hone my skills so that I can make really good production and training videos for work. I figure that makes me more valuable to the company too.

Here is my video link: I have everything from family trips to robotics events on there... it's a real mix. Perhaps later I'll create another account and split up the works... perhaps not... time will tell.

Here is just one example of the videos I shot.

Well... back to work I suppose.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chinese New Year

We went to see the Chinese New Year today... it was a lot of fun and quite noisy.

Here is another video of the dragons getting money from the kids for luck.

Then we went across the parking lot to see more dancing and fireworks.

We will be sure to go again next year.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday 17th

It's a Wednesday just like last week, and the week before that, and the week before that. Nothing special, just another day. I'll take that as a good thing since I'm not stressing out more or less than any other day this last month or so. Valentine's day went as well as could be expected, I think I did okay. We saw a movie, had dinner, nothing really outstanding. It was better than some, not as good as others... but it was calm and nobody got their feathers ruffled... so I'll call it a success.

I'm resigned that at least for awhile this is how life is going to play out... I work, I pay bills, I do my workout, I watch what I eat, I live another day.

I am in what you would call a "holding pattern" for awhile. My soon-to-be-ex-wife was served her divorce papers, and I am waiting on my tax paperwork to see if I get anything back or if I owe a king's ransom. It can go either way... I have no clue. I set up things as best as I could considering that I was put in a situation where I pretty much lost everything I had, my home, my retirement, and my respect for myself. If I withheld enough tax I should be okay... if not, things will get very tight very quickly... I will be glad once I know for sure... the not knowing is difficult on me.

Now it's damage control and an attempt to move forward. Time will tell I suppose... I will see if the choices I made this time around are better than those I made in the past... and I will see if I can still make something of this life before it ends.

I remain hopeful... but cautious.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Almost Valentine's Day

Well it will be Valentine's day tomorrow and I went out today to get a few things for Eve. I always feel like I am being graded... did I spend too much? Not enough? Did I get the right thing? If I buy too much candy they think you are trying to make them fat, if you don't by any then you don't care.

Guys are easy... tell us we are going to the movie and we call it a good day. Get us a tee shirt with something interesting on it... wow... a bonus. Well... I guess we wait and see how tomorrow goes.

I suppose I'll write here more often... sort of an online diary... not like anyone is really reading it... but it's a way for me to get my feelings and such out there I suppose.