Thursday, April 28, 2011


I've been in a bit of a funk for the last few days.  The weather has been horrible and I've done very little work on the airplane. I did just enough to finish up the right flaperon, which was the last official piece of the airframe. This will officially kick off the transmogrification from airframe to airplane.  Unfortunately, I can't proceed with that until next week. Not only does the hangar need a complete rearrangement of parts and work surfaces, a job that will require at least one helper, but I have also been busy at the paying job. Hard, frustrating work and late nights combined with the lack of recreational effort in the hangar had dropped my mood considerably. I'll also be gone this weekend as I fly up to Oshkosh with Mr. Rush and The Jackson Two, where we will attend the 16 hours training course that will allow us to do our own annual condition inspections on our airplane.

My mood has vastly improved over the last couple of days, mostly because of the spectacular success of another practical joke I played on a co-worker. The background is this: I've been pretty frazzled at work because I'm developing two new applications concurrently. One of them will provide an application to manage large (100 - 300) store chains, while the other is a data analysis and research tool used by a single user. I was developing a workflow system in the team application and decided that I'd like to have it play a little sound and pop up a little notification window whenever a user received a new issue assignment. To play the sound, I would either have to go computer to computer installing the sound file, or find a way to embed it directly into the application. I eventually figured out how to embed the sound, but since the people that will ultimately use the application have yet to be hired, I had no good way to test it on a "clean" machine. I had to be sure that the sound would travel with the application.

A devious idea soon came to mind. I'd find a subtle yet irritating sound and embed it in the other guy's application, and set a timer to play it every few minutes. It only took a few minutes to Google up the sound of a mosquito buzzing and build it into the program. Just a few minutes later I was walking down to his workspace in order to see the ensuing hilarity first hand.  The joke was on me, though; he has no speakers on his computer. Oh well, I figured. Nothing lost.

I forgot all about it.

A few weeks later on a Tuesday afternoon, he received a new laptop computer that his manager had upgraded him to.  It was late in the day, so I only got as far as getting it out of the box and set up on the desk area behind him. I got a couple of his applications installed, told him to just let it sit until I was back in the office on Thursday, and headed home.

Wednesday I had an off-site strategy meeting that I had to attend. Around 7:30 I started getting emails from John, the guy that sits in the cubicle next to Rudy, the proud owner of a new speaker-enabled laptop that he simply couldn't resist messing around with, despite my directions to just leave it alone:

Email from John: "The sound just started.  He's looking around trying to figure out where it's coming from."

Email from John: "He wants to know how to record it and let you hear it so you know he isn't crazy. Now he's searching to see if something is running in the background."

Email from John: "This is getting great! Now he's sitting there saying "WHAT THE HELL!!"
Email from John: "This is hilarious!  Now he's swatting at the air around his head!"
(At this point I was laughing nearly uncontrollably)

Email from me, to John: "Don't let him call the corporate help desk!"

At nearly the same time that I sent the above, Rudy CC'd me on an email he had just sent to the help desk: "This is bizarre, but this morning as I am working on my new laptop, every two minutes or so it makes a sound like a bee flying by your ear. I can mute the computer and it stops the sound, but I am at a loss for what could possibly be causing this. I don't see any odd apps running, and the noise began without me doing anything out of the ordinary."

(And now there was no 'nearly' involved - I couldn't stop laughing!)

Email from John: "He muted the computer so you can hear it tomorrow."
I still chuckle every time I visualize Rudy sitting there looking frustrated and befuddled, muttering "What the HELL??"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A New Venture

I haven't finished up the riveting of the second flaperon over the last couple of evenings because I've been saving it up for my scheduled Aviation Venture Crew on Thursday night. What's an "Aviation Venture Crew" you ask? Well, peruse these purloined paragraph that I pilfered from the nets:

  • What is a Venture Crew? A Venture Crew is a group of young men and women (ages 14-20) who gather to learn about and engage in a high adventure activity. The group is sponsored by a committee of adults as well as a sponsoring organization. This program is run under the direction and guidelines of the Boy Scouts of America, but is a coed program.

  • What is an Aviation Venture Crew? An Aviation Venture Crew concentrates is meetings and activities around the many fields involved in aviation, including piloting, maintenance, traffic control, and operations.

  • I figured a little riveting would be just the ticket. It's easy to teach and hard to mess up, and people really seem to like it. After a few minutes (that I'm sure seemed like hours) of me pontificating on my two favorite subjects, those being 1) airplanes, and 2) well, me, I turned Co-pilot Egg loose to train any willing volunteers and get some riveting done:

    Time ran out before we could rivet the bottom of the skins, so I'll take care of that this weekend. Then it's on to the finishing kit!!

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Writer's cramp

    If this blog was all you had to go by, you'd think I had completely given up on the RV-12. While that's at least partially true, I have in fact been working on it now and then; I'm still working on the right side flaperon. Since the right side flaperon is pretty much just like the left side flaperon (with the notable difference of not having a helpful picture to follow in the plans unless you hold them up to a mirror), I haven't felt compelled to write much about it.

    It's also the case that I'm getting a little burned out on writing. Having just finished a major systems and processes documentation effort at the paying job, I had hoped for a week away from the keyboard (at least a week away from prose; I was enthusiastic about getting back to the ever more gratifying writing of C# code) to recharge. It wasn't to be. The game reviews that I write, those being of a feast or famine nature, chose last week to provide a feast. Five, FIVE reviews, right out of the blue. I enjoy doing them (or, obviously, I wouldn't do them) but they are a major time drain. A simple game or a piece of hardware take three to five hours each just in playing or research, then at least another hour or two to write. A complex game or a game that I hate (or both, in the case of the one that I've been putting off) can take much longer.

    So, one is published, one is written and staged for publish, and three yet to be written.

    In case you're interested, here's the one that's published:

    And, if that's not enough, now it's mowing season. I hate mowing season. We had it all figured out, though. This year we'd pay Co-pilot Egg's boyfriend, Case, to mow for us. We'd pay him the money that we have already been spending by taking them to dinner with us or forking over a $20 when they want to go to a movie. The financial outlay will remain the same, but the lawn will get mowed too. It was the perfect plan, albeit cunningly nefarious. We couldn't in clear conscience (and by 'we', I mean my wife) put him on the poorly maintained mower I have grown to loath yet tolerate; no, we would have to have someone come clean/fix it up a bit.

    Over $300 later, it looked great! A new bearing somewhere down in the moving parts, new anti-scuff wheels on the mowing deck, and three brand new, pristine mowing blades rounded out the general cleaning and tuning. I showed Case how to start the thing and perform necessary operations like engaging the blades, move in forward and reverse, and set the parking brake. I then walked him around the palatial estate showing him areas where extra caution would be required to avoid damage to the mower or fixed assets on the property. I know whereof I speak; I myself have done brilliant things like running in the curbside water stop (which broke the weldments on the mower deck to the tune of $700+ in repairs, that burden thankfully being covered under warranty for some reason), the septic leach field standing vent pipes, the various pipes and hoses that run into and out of the manse itself, and getting stuck between a tree and the fence.

    Safe in the knowledge that I had adequately trained young Mr. Case, I trustingly sent him off with my spiffily cleaned and repaired mower, anxious to see how those brand new blades would cut the young spring grass.

    Not five minutes later, the blades were no longer virginally sharp, and the curb side water stop lay in ruins.

    Somewhat of a Karmic retribution, that.