Thursday, September 28, 2006
Something very odd, and very good, happened to me at work this week. I'll give you a little background first, just so this makes since.
For a nuclear power plant to buy and install a doohickey of some sort, they have to buy it from an approved vendor. Being an approved vendor ensures that they know you're following quality practices that are acceptable to the standards they require, and that the parts they are getting have been tested for functionality in whatever worst-case scenarios they can come up with. We are an approved supplier for most nuclear plants out there, so suffice it to say we mainly deal in high margin sales, if you know what I mean.
To satisfy part of this worst-case scenario, we have a seismic table that is used to simulate vibrations, earthquakes, etc. Well, for this big project we've been working on, we've been shaking a flowmeter for TVA's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. And, what we didn't know, is that for this hard of a shake, this flow meter weighs too much for our table. So Russell and I have spent the last 3 weeks attempting to shake these flow meters, and subsequently rebuilding the table after it broke with each attempt. Well, this past Tuesday Russell and I finally got through with the final shake. Of course we found metal shavings on the slider rails of the table just before the final shake, thus the table must be rebuilt again before we shake anything else, but that project is done. To give you an idea of what we've gone through, the first time the table broke it pulled itself out of the concrete. After we got that fixed, we've broken most everything else on the table and we've honestly lost count of the number of times we've had to rebuild it.
I know what you're thinking. "Kelly broke something? That's not that hard to believe." Well, I'm not finished yet. It just so happened that our president and vice president were in town for the final few shakes, along with a particularly troublesome last rebuild of the table. Wednesday morning our vice president pulled me and Russell aside to give us gift certificates to Connors Steak House, just to thank us for all the hard work and extra hours we put into getting that project done. We were shocked! I honestly didn't know what to say. Appreciation is something that I'm not really accustomed to. I was at ESC for 6 years, and for the first 5 years I spent most of my time trying to make sure that my bosses didn't have a way to use me as a scapegoat for something they screwed up. (On a positive note, I had a new boss for that last year of the six that was great to work for.) The only thing I could say at the time was "that's what you pay us for."
Nothing makes you smile like an "Attaboy".
As for the next week, Christal's leaving tomorrow to go on a cruise with her family. I'm having somewhat conflicting thoughts about it. We're very different in that sometimes, I just like to have my own time. Christal doesn't do very well if she's not with someone at all times. So, in one way, it'll be nice for it to just be quiet and alone around here. On the other hand, it'll be that quiet for a week. I'm sure I'll keep myself busy though. I've already got a project in the works. Next week I'll either have a cool post about something I've built, or a really good "how not to" post. We'll see next week!
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Sorry for the delay this week folks. I didn’t get home from work until about 11:00 PM Thursday night. Friday night I attempted to recover, and last night the power went out during the storm as I was finishing up my post. It was just the perfect end to the not-so-perfect week. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good challenge. But I think this week was a bit too much. I can’t point to anything specific, or blame any one person. It was just one of those weeks, ya know? It’ll be ok though. I have faith that everything will work out for the best.
On a positive note, I noticed last weekend that Wal-mart already has their Halloween stuff out. I love Halloween! Halloween means it’s almost time for my now annual, soon to be famous pumpkin carving contest with Mike! Of course, as with everything else Mike and I do, it didn’t start out as a contest. Two years ago Christal and I were hanging out with Mike and Lori one October weekend when Mike suggested that we carve jack-o-lanterns. Lori and Christal humored us as we searched all of
Her first was this cool happy candy corn.
The second was this incredibly intricate cat. I was very proud of her for pulling this one off.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
I actually have something to talk about this week! I know, I know, you’re probably much happier than I am about it. I think it’s something that everyone will like too. I mean, who doesn’t like a road trip?
I’ve been trying to plan this trip for a while now. I haven’t said anything for a couple of reasons. Of course, I didn’t want to spill the beans. It makes for a much better story if I haven’t told you about it before it happens. Second, it’s been pretty difficult to plan. At first no one could do it on the optimum weekend for me. Then I was busy when anyone else could go. So, when Patrick told me when he could go, I just bit the bullet and did it anyway (almost spur of the moment, two weeks notice). Of course I ended up sending my mother-in-law a big basket of chocolate for missing her birthday, and was still the first one to tell her “happy birthday” on her birthday, but sometimes things just work out that way.
As most of you would have guessed, we’re talking a motorcycle trip. Even though I live 19 miles away from one of the greatest motorcycling roads in the
Anyway, I have many pictures to share and a few stories to tell. So, on with the story and pictures!
Note: For some reason Blogger didn't let anyone but me post comments to my blog last week. I'll check into it, and get them involved it I must. If you have something you'd like to share and Blogger won't let you, feel free to send love or hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most every Saturday morning (and Sunday morning for that matter) some guys from EastTNriders get together for breakfast at Deals Gap. We get up unbelievably early to meet at the overlook at Deals Gap. Of course, as I complain about how early we get up, I live a mere 19 miles away. Some guys ride from as far as
Here’s a pic of us packed and ready to go, early Saturday morning. Photo credit to Pat.
About 8:15, we decided that everyone that would show up had, and we headed out for some breakfast. Here Pat shows off his pancakes and bacon. (BTW, if you’re hungry, you might want to postpone reading this. By our pictures, you’d think all we did was eat.) Photo credit to Pat.
For those not familiar, Deals Gap is actually in
From after that Dam stop (hehehe) we headed on down 28 towards
It turns out that once inside, you’d swear you were in a European restaurant. Very quaint, very homey. The owner (whose name is Richard, in case you were wondering) noticed we were wearing gear and came over, with a restaurant full of people for lunch on a Saturday, to spend about 5 minutes just talking, asking about our ride, asking if we thought the Gap would be a good place to play with his sports cars (we’ll get to that), etc. He told us that when/if we were back through, make sure to say hi! Just a really nice touch to a really nice restaurant.
When the waiter came to take our order, he brought a plate of bread. It was probably the softest French bread I’d ever had. It came with something I’d never had before, marinara sauce served over olive oil. VERY tasty.
As we were remounting to head on down the road, we caught our first little shower of the trip. It was just enough to wet the road, and was over just down the road. We thought, “Wow, if this is all we get, this has been a good trip!” Why we had to jinx ourselves, I’ll never know.
Not far after the rain let up, we came to
Now there’s a bit of a break in the pictures, as we started to realize that we weren’t really getting anywhere. We headed on in to Highlands, NC, then cut over to
After getting our luggage unloaded, I know the VFR was a little lighter on it’s tires. Patrick even commented on the change in my riding. We headed south out of Hiawassee on 75 to 180 over to
Day Two started out with lots of potential, and boy did it live up! We first started out heading to Brasstown Bald, the highest point in GA. Thankfully, some old guy will drive you from the parking lot to the observation center for $2 round trip. Money well spent.
Once there, we struck up a conversation with an old lady that worked there. When she found out I was in the power industry, she wanted to know why the
Anyway, the views from the top were a little hazy. It was a little disappointing, but oh well.
After our leisurely ride down the mountain in the van, we saddled up for our next jaunt. We headed down 180 to the
After lunch, it was time for some straight up RIDING!!!! I wanted another crack at the
At the north end of the Highway, we turned left for about a mile, then south on highway 129. Yes, it’s the same 129 that goes through the Gap. Only here, it goes over
Here’s some pictures that Patrick took from the top of