The holidays were great. They were relatively short, but that worked out well for us. No snow this year at the mother-in-law's. The kid had his first Christmas, and got pretty spoiled, which worked out pretty well.
And then we all got sick after we got back, so January was really busy once we were recovered from everything. The kid has a passport, so the long slog of adoption paperwork that started February of 2015 is basically done. His paperwork for applying for stuff will always be slightly more complicated than for other people, but he now has ID that shows he's a US citizen and he can fly on planes with official ID and stuff.
I've been trying like heck to get ahead of things just a little bit; only slightly successful. I've been going through some tubs of "need to go through this" stuff that I filled when I moved offices about 2 1/2 years ago. Once through those, then I'll hopefully get back to working on unsorted boxes from the basement.
And I'll be trying a little bit to be a producer not a consumer. Youtube has been really bad for that. It figures out what I want, and it can always show me something that I'm interested in. It knows I like space stuff, and computer stuff, and some narrow slices of car stuff (and it's good at guessing what).
Thus trying to get back on the blogging bandwagon. Internet pal Wil Wheaton (at wilwheaton.net) had until yesterday an unbroken blog-entry-per-day streak from December 1. He and his wife Anne were in the Womens' March in LA yesterday and there's no entry from them, so they may have gotten home late and he didn't write. So I'm trying to hold up the tradition in a weird way.
More on politics in another entry. This one is just to prime the pump. Talk to you later.
A few photos taken in and around the time of the long annual. The
cats looking resplendant.
Also during this time, we were gearing up for a big project that went
over the summer through the fall. We'd been thinking about adopting a
child internationally, and this spring we got serious about it. It
involves a LOT of paperwork and scanning and stuff, so here I'm doing
Among the various paperwork required are statements about your household and asseets, so I took an artsy photo of the house,
and had to go to the local police station to get fingerprinted (slightly odd).
One other thing:
While I was at the parent-in-law's that spring, I went to the regional
battery store and got a proper battery for their generator. It's
shown here, installed.
This brings the chronology up to May 10, 2015.
Spinner bulkhead re-attached with new hardare.
Getting inspection panels re-installed without dropping them inside
the plane is sometimes tricky, especially
when they're on vertical walls. Here's the trick my mechanic taught
me about that. Form a handle with tape:
which allows you to hold it in place until you get the first couple of screws attached:
All buttoned up, ready to fly.
Getting ready to fly the plane home after the annual; charging all the
Heading home, loading the plane.
April/May 2015 was the first annual for my airplane since the propellor was replace and engine overhauled in 2013-14. This was the first semi-normal annual. Still plenty of work done, but not major systems were replaced.
Taking apart the spinner to annual the propeller.
The pressure plate was a bit rusty and wasn't holding pressure on the front spinner bulkhead.
We painted the pressure plate so it at least wasn't corroding.
Prop dome with the spinner bulkhead removed.
Electric fuel pump, fuel selector and fuel system sump at the bottom of the photo.
While parts came in and we worked on stuff for the annual, I was
driving my father-in-law's truck around.
When we had a break, I took a couple of days and drove to HQ and spend a couple of days in the office. Here's the office recharging setup.
I spent a good bit of time during this trip testing chargers in the truck for use in the airplane.
Back to the annual, all the belly panels off.
It was my first time taking the panels off. Over a couple hundred screws; I stripped three and had to extract them by cutting a slot with a dremel tool.
We did some work on the landing gear. Here's the plane on jacks, gear
retracted, looking vaguely Airwolf-like.
It's been a long fall. And November was very rocky, for various reasons. Oy. Mostly the election. Double-oy. I frankly still have an emotional hangover from that, five weeks later. But trying to put the pieces back together, I guess I'm also trying to resume normal life.
So last time I was blogging about the past, I was back up through April 4, 2015, roughly. We continue the narrative from there. I bought a new phone then, so photos since are from my current phone, the Droid Maxx, which I got because it has MUCH better battery life than the LGE.
Here's Pangur reviewing the Verizon bag my phone came home in:
and the other cats editorializing what they think of all of this:
I was still working on commissioning the front stoop/porch. The gate
didn't close well with two hinges, so I added a third spring hinge in
And finally, my mother's mother, who had been in declining health for years, died in such a way that we had a time window to go to the funeral. My wife and I flew to Omaha and then rented a car to drive up to South Dakota for the funeral.
In all my travelling for work starting in 1994 through now, twice I've
randomly received a cheap rental car upgrade to any car on the lot.
Once in 2010 when I was in Minnesota to get my instrument rating, and
the other was trip I took in March of 2015 to California via
Minnesota. I was all prepared to get compact sedan, but she wanted to
get a fun car too, so we got a Dodge Challenger:
The drive up was along Interstate I-29 along with Missouri river
valley, which has an 80 mph speed limit. We spent the time driving 85:
What was amazing was we got almost 30 mpg. The engine was only turning 1800 rpm:
It had Sirius Satellite Radio. Of course, this was on:
Not much of an entry, but I wanted to get back into it. That takes us through April 12, 2015.
Now that the summer is winding down, but full fall semester hadn't
settleed in (that happens today) I had a bit of a chance to get ahead
on some house projects. I have to say I'm still loving the
solid-surface countertops we put in in 2007. Here is the sink,
freshly cleaned for the first time in a while:
The 2016 Summer Olympics started just before the fall semester, and
since we have another person in the house, we wanted to be slightly
better set up for watching sports and eating in the TV room. We
re-arrange the TV room so that most people had a place in front of
them to eat, so that we don't have to have massive amounts of TV
trays. Here are two seats along the right side of the room with their
Brats and hot dogs to roll in the end of summer and the Olympics
Opening ceremonies on th big screen.
We've been able to clean sort stuff that hasn't been really clean in a
while, including the freezer.
We watch the Olympics on the big screen, onto to which we point a
One of a our long-term problems has been the input filter on the project. Here's the cover; it's kind of an irregular shape:
The original foam filter disintegrated when I tried to change it. I put one in of a too-heavy cloth, and it's overheated several times in the last year. Before the Olympics started, I replaced that with a couple of layers of cheese cloth cut to fit, and that seems to have fixed it. It's now run for a couple of all-day stints without a problem.
A random picture of the cats.
Thrice is under the table, chilling. Pangur is on top, looking intently at the hummingbirds that are at the feeder we put out on the deck.
On our other big sight-seeing day in Houston, we went downtown and the USS Texas memorial ship, and the memorial to the Battle of San Jacinto.
Battleship selfie. You know, like you do.
My wife, on one of the anti-aircraft turrets, taking aim at plagerism
A lot of the gear on the battleship still kind of works, which is cool. This turret doesn't shoot, obviously, but the articulation works.
Bridge, which we couldn't go into but could photograph.
The engine spaces were amazing, but it was difficult to get photos,
because everything's massive but you can't tell because there's
nothing for scale. I did snag one photo of the engineering main
The battle site is an interesting walk-around, but not a lot to
photograph, other than plaques and a lot of grass. The memorial
itself is amazing and huge. Here it is looking like one of the final stars in
Super Mario 64:
Everything really is bigger in Texas. Driving back to the house, we
have to wait for a crossing oil tanker.
(I think we were actually waiting for the ferry, but I liked the photo.)
Flying back home, gratuitus instrument panel photos:
One nice thing about this trip was that it was the major long-distance trip that my wife and I have attempted to take in our airplane where everything went flawlessly. Two legs out, two legs back, the airplane was completely consistent and dependable.
Continuing a series of posts that I last worked on, in....er.... February, one of the places we visited in Houson (visiting my brother and sister in law) was the NASA Center in Houston. As a space nut, this was a pretty awesome trip.
The guest rooms we stayed in were very well-equipped:
While we were out on the town for a day, I charged all my stuff.
A few highway photos while we were driving into town.
Houston is VERY big on flyover-overpass exchanges. Here's a good example.
A bit of skyline.
Another overpass set; at least three layers!
A lot of the stuff on display at NASA in Houston is so big that it doesn't particularly lend itself to photography without serious wide-angle gear, and I just had my phone. I attempted to take a few shots to commemorate the occasion.
Here's one of the shuttle carrier 747's with an engineering mock-up
shuttle on top of it, parked outside the museum:
Another highlight of Houston NASA is that they have a complete
Saturn-5 laid out in a horizontal display building. This is looking
down the first stage from the second stage. The first stage is
sitting on its ground carrier vehicle; look at the enormous tires!
An (I'm guessing) engineering test Command Module (the brown bit) with its escape tower on the right.
As of this trip, I have now seen all of the Saturn-5 rockets on public display in the US. There's one at Saturn Apollo Center at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, there's this one at NASA in Houston, and there are two at Huntsville, Alabama, one inside like the other two are, and one stacked vertically outside (which is REALLY impressive to see). I've read there's one more Saturn 5 first stage outside somewhere in Louisiana; maybe I'll go fly over it someday.
Outside the Saturn 5 display building, they have some rocket engines,
and this. It's a "Little Joe" test vehicle that NASA used to test the
escape system for the Apollo Command Module. You can see it here,
sitting with a command module mounted on top of it.
Another flyover interchange.
Oh, right. The *other* thing that's been going on in our lives is that we've adopted a kid. We started the process of international adoption from China last February (2015), aiming to travel to China in May of 2016, right after the end of the spring semester. We managed to hit that perfectly; we travelled in May the week that my wife finished finals.
The paperwork process is long and annoying. I may post about it sometime. It involved background checks and lots of getting verification of the previous layer.
Early in the process last year, the adoption agency we were working with started a program bringing kids from China who were in danger of aging out of the adoption system and bringing them to the US for three weeks. We were part of the way through our initial paperwork, so when the social worker was at our house, we talked about that program. They had a couple of kids still without host homes, so at that point we decided to sign up. It was a way to try out parenting and help the program, without the commitment to keep the kid.
Not surprisingly, one of the things that can happen (and they hope happens) in the hosting program is that the hosting parents fall in love with *that* kid, and decide to adopt them. We definitely did that. We wanted to answer three questions with the hosting. 1) Are we capable of being parents? 2) Do we want to be? 3) Do we want to be parents to *that* kid? By the end of the three weeks, we knew the answers to all three questions was YES. So once the kid had headed back to China, we formally requested to be able to adopt him specifically, then continued the rest of the paperwork.
One of the things my wife and I did as preparation for the trip and
for adopting a Chinese child who didn't speak english was to take a
year of beginning Mandarin. Here I'm taking one of our exams in the
second semester. One of the dialogs was all about location words. So
the dialog is about the computer that is ON the desk, and the dog that
is UNDER the desk. The teacher had props for the dialog, which I
thought was hilarious.
We flew out of Lexington to head to China for the adoption. Our
flight was early enough in the morning that we got a hotel room with
shuttle service to the airport. Here are our suitcases, ready to go
to the airport for the big trip.
A nice, auspicious sunrise on our initial climbout.
The adoption took place in the province of Jinan, China. My wife,
kid, and me at the big central park in Jinan City. The sculpture in
the background is reminiscent of the Mandarin character for the name
of the city.
There will be more posts about our trip and about raising a kid, but I wanted to get the topic out there.
While I'm catching up on the status of things....
The plane is fine. In the annual this spring, we dug into the hydraulic system. The hoses were original, and pretty stiff. The flap up/down control was super-stuff. It turns out I was wrong about the diagnosis of that; it was the cable, not the pump. That's fixed. The retraction speed is fixed. We don't really know what the problem is with the pump that had been in there, but I bought another one and that one worked fine. I still have the bad pump to try to figure out what was up.
The brakes still act slightly funny; it will be interesting to find out if it's better or worse when it's cold. We'd decided that the old problem with the mag checks might have been a weak plug, so we put a massive back in the bottom of #2. However, a couple of flights later, I had another bad mag check, so bought and installed a brand new fine-wire plug there, and it's been fine ever since.
I need to take it down to Knoxville tomorrow to get its IFR sign-off. After that, I can start flying it more, potentially.
My blog server had pretty severe bit rot. I hadn't kept up with the site maintenance, I'm afraid. I don't know exactly what the problem is, but for at least this calendar year, I coudln't reboot the server without serious work to get it back running again. I think what probably happened is that something in the emulation layer got out of synch with something in the packaging, and so it just woudln't boot correctly. I got the great folks at my hosting site, vps.net to get the server running again a couple of weeks ago, and so I managed to pull a full backup, but then within the last week it died again.
Ove the past couple of days I backed up the backup, so I have everything from the old server image in multiple places. Last night and this morning, I bit the bullet and had the server completely re-installed. Now I've re-installed everything from the blog. If this entry shows up (It will be the first August 1, 2016 entry) then we know it worked.
When doing stuff like that, you discover all your sins in the installation. Like the fact that the blog is all packed into /var/www like it should be, but some of the support script are in a directory in my home directory. Ooops. And the includes are scattered around in wierd places.
More on that in a while. The house is fine, the cats are fine, the plane is fine. The family is fine, and has had another (human) member added to it, which is very exciting.
All for now. This has been a systems test; please ignore. If this were an actual blog post, I'd have a picture of an airplane instrument panel or some electronics or some such.
A schematic map of the brake system in my airplane. Figured out from looking at the hydraulic lines in the airplane.