Disney Marathon Weekend 2011 Day 6

Today is the saddest day of all and a very hard day for me. I find it difficult to be in Disney World and not go into the parks even if we just go in to people watch and take in the atmosphere. Matt and I decided not to burn a full days pass since there were a few outside the parks things that we wanted to do anyway and we could probably fill the time before we need to leave for the airport.

We checked out of Bay Lake Towers, stored our bags and took a bus to Downtown Disney to get something for Lorie and Jenna. The are has change quite a bit form last year an Pleasure Island is a shell of what it was when it first opened. I only saw 2 clubs and could not tell if they were even open since the bars did not open till after 7pm normally. The whole island is just restaurants and a few shops and quite a bit of demolition and construction going on. The West Side is pretty much the same with the swapping out of a few stores for some more current ones. One big store that is gone is the Virgin Megastore which took up a huge two story warehouse. In its place is a ‘Build an RC Car Shop’ which did not even take up all of the first floor of the previous tenant. It is kind of a Build a Bear for boys. Build a basic car then trick out out with customizations and drain the credit card.

We did a bit of shopping for about and hour before taking another bus from Downtown Disney over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge villas to see the DVC rooms. We have never stayed there so we wanted to see if it was something we might consider in the future. The rooms were nice, very similar to the other DVC studio and one bedroom accommodations, except for the African inspired furnishings. The property was appealing as a novelty, but I still don’t like the fact that it is so far removed from everything else. If you stay there to see the animals outside your balcony, that is nice, but after about an hour of that I have seen what I need to see and want to move on, so I don’t think we will be staying there anytime soon.

While on property, Matt and I had a nice lunch at Sanaa where we split a burger and had a nice salad sampler, just enough food to hold us over for the rest of our last day. We grabbed our final bus from Animal Kingdom Lodge to the Magic Kingdom then had a short walk back to Bay Lake Towers to catch our Magical Express to the airport. We still had about an hour to kill so Matt suggested we go to the rec center and play some shuffleboard to pass the time. This was another first for Matt and it only took him one game to catch on. I took the first match and he took the second. He was a avid watcher of curling during the Olympics so he knew the basic premise of what to do and caught on very fast. He now has the skills to become a hustler when he retires to warm climates.

The Magical Express arrived right on time and got us to MCO about 1.75 hours before the flight to Charlotte. I checked on my Droid and both our flights ( to Charlotte and to ORD) were clear of weather all the way through. We boarded on time and settled into 2A and 2C for the first leg of the flight. I was a bit disappointed that we did not get a meal on the US Air flight but they did double up on the drinks and it was very smooth ride all the way.

We landed in Charlotte and grabbed some fast food chicken ( I took all the skin off mine and ignored the biscuit as next week starts my calorie counting test, which I will outline in a later post) and I passed the 1.5 hour layover time by catching up on some of my kindle books and my pursued new high scores on a few of his handheld games.

We boarded the flight to ORD and settled into our same two seats for the last leg home. On the flight from MCO, I had put the Thumper stuffed animal that I got for Jenna on the large arm rest space between Matt and myself, and it ‘rode’ there for most of the flight. I placed him in the same spot when we boarded and as I looked up I noticed we had the same flight crew from the previous flight even though it was a different plane. The flight attendant said ’Are you following us?’, in reference to the same two guys in the same two seats with the same rabbit between us, on a different airplane. I said ‘Yes, and I am hoping you are taking us someplace warm tomorrow. Where are we off to next?’

This flight was equally smooth and in no time we were landing in Chicago. As we pulled off the runway
I called my wife who was waiting at the Oasis and told her to head on over to pick us up. As most of you know, ORD and MDW are VERY strict about waiting at the curb to pick up arriving passengers. They will make you circle endlessly or have you park way over in the cell phone lot, which is OK. Lorie prefers to wait at the O’Hare Oasis since she can get there early if need be and have some coffee, use the free Wi-Fi and just wait for our call. The timing works out well because by the time we get to the gate, deplane, and walk all the way out to terminal 1 she is just about there.

I will have some reflections about the race in my next post, but for now, home again, glad to be here, but already planning the next trip.

Olympic Swag and St. Patrick’s Day

I decided to take a walk tonight after the client site visit, to see if I could pick up some Olympic swag. The concierge at the hotel directed me The Bay department store which was the ‘official’ supplier of the gear for the Olympics. The Bay is located on the Grasnville street mall only 5 blocks from my hotel so I figured I would just take a walk and see what was available. The mall is just a five or six block length of street that is closed to car traffic so that people can mill around a bit. Although Granville itself is closed, the cross streets are open so you must still stop for traffic lights and you can’t walk the whole length without stopping.

There was still a huge roped off section of the store that housed all the Olympic gear flanked by the giant VISA advertising banners. I found it interesting that all the USA merchandise was outside the roped of section all by itself. I would like to think they were making it easier for all the visiting Yankees to find the merchandise or perhaps they just did not like all the ugly Polo clothes mixing with the otherwise attractive items.

I had little luck finding anything as all the sizes were huge. The average size was XXL with the occasional XL item mixed in. I settle for a few items for my brothers kids, the red mittens with the maple leaf on the palm and a nice mascot cap with some cute designs and buttons on them. I will probably see more items at the airport but not at the 50-60% discount that these items were going for.

On the walk back to the hotel I noticed the long lines outside all the Irish bars in downtown Vancouver. It was aandre-the-limo002andre-the-limo011 strange contrast to the streets I had seen the days before when all the bar patrons were inside the bars. In front of one of the bars I also saw two of the biggest limos I have ever seen.

If you are familiar with truck limos, they are big enough to stand up in and can hold up to 30 people at a time. Both the limos were full of partiers who were well on their way to enjoying the holiday. If your going to get loaded, that is the way to do it, with an armored designated driver.

Looking forward to getting home tomorrow.

More Stick Welding

I continued with my stick welding in class today and was able to complete two of the three assigned tasks. I was able to complete a steady bead of 3016 stick on a 3/4 inch 4×4 steel plate 8 times in a row. I was also able to completely cover a 4×4 plate with overlappingIMG_0276 beads, keeping them all pretty straight.  With each pass you cut into the previous row by 1/3 of the width of the original bead, so that when you have two rows complete, the first row is only showing 2/3s of its width and the second shows its whole width. The second exercise was not necessarily a real world example, but it shows that your straight bead is repeatable and that you can manipulate the previous bead with your new molten pool of metal without totally screwing things up and compromising the integrity of the original weld. Lincoln Electric has a nice article here on creating high quality stick welds.

The third exercise was a butt joint where you lay two pieces of 16 gauge metal flat on your surface, side by side with a gap between. The gap should be approximately the size of the stick that you are using as the filler material. So, since we were using 3016 stick, you lay the stick in between the to pieces of metal to get your correct gap. The trick here is that each stick has a coating on it and you should NOT include that in your gap width. You need to either eyeball the gap or use the mall one inch end of the uncovered stick as you guide (one end of the stick is uncoated so it makes good contact with the electrode holder you grip when welding).

The cross-section of a welded butt joint, with the darkest gray representing the weld or fusion zone, the medium
gray the heat-affected zone, and the lightest gray the base material.

My gap was a bit too big and I was spending too much time in one place, so I kept burning through and could not get the desired ‘keystone’ weld. A keystone weld is where after you complete the weld you theoretically could pick it up, hold it between your fingers and look across the flat surface of the metal weld. You would look right into the gap from one end of the metal and see a nice bump across the top of the weld, the gap totally filled with metal and just a tiny round metal fill coming out the bottom of the gap. Having the tiny metal fill coming out means you had total penetration in your weld and those two pieces of metal are bonded across the whole gap.

I only had about 45 minutes to practice that one so I did not get very far, plus it was not all weld time. We were trying to conserve (not waste) metal so after an attempt we would go over to the punch press and cut the metal to give us another set of surfaces to practice on. A little bit of info that I learned about the weld and the punch press, you should NEVER cut across a weld. When you weld, the metal is forged so that it becomes harder than it was originally. If you try to cut across a weld, the weld will usually win and your blade will loose. It is cheaper to get more 16 gauge and very expensive and time consuming to replace the blades on the press. Don’t cut across welds.

After watching the speed skaters at the Olympics, the process to weld a butt joint makes more sense to me. You have to touch each side of the weld and move across the gap to the other side wile moving down the gap towards your destination. I picture the skater with a piece of metal on each side of his path down the ice. He must touch each side with one of his skates as he moves forward but cannot spend much time in contact with the metal. So touch right side, touch left side, touch right side, touch left side, on and on until you reach the end. You don;t need to worry about filling the gap as the melted metal from one side will naturally flow down into the gap as you slide over to the other side. Notice I did not say jump you as you want to keep you distance to the work constant. Moving too far away from the work causes your arc (picture orange lightening) to jump around and spray your nice pool of molten metal to areas you did not intend.

I will pick this task up next Saturday and have the picture of Apolo Anton Ono or C.J. Celski in my mind as I ‘skate’ across the gap and bind the butt joint.

A Quick Five Miler

I had a long day today with a few deadlines to meet. One customer was going live with a new system we installed and I was on call remotely (they are in Calgary, AB), while another customer needed some changes to an existing system for a new group that is coming online for them. The go live went very smooth with just one frantic phone call which turned out to be an admin error (she was pointing to a test server instead of the new live production box). I assured her all was well, pointed her in the right direction and let her know that mistakes like that are normal. We sometimes get overly excited and nervous about a brand new system, even though we have done lots of testing and UAT.

The customer was on Mountain time so I was on call till about 6:00 my time and still had to package up some changes for the second customer so I could do some testing that night and Saturday. That meant I would not get my run in until almost 8, which is close to my do not run after rule. If this was Saturday night, I could break that rule as I could sleep in on Sunday, but I have class tomorrow morning so  no such luck.

I was able to get in a quick 5 miles on the treadmill and it felt very good. All the pain I had in my ankle is completely gone and I no longer feel or hear the creaking that I had following the marathon. It has taken 3 weeks to rid myself of the pain and swelling so the doctors estimate was pretty close (he estimated 4-6 weeks).

My run took place during the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics so I had that turned on with the volume off (I recorded it for later viewing as well) and was listening to my This Week in Google podcast. I did get a bit of a speed boost as I watched the US athletes enter the stadium. The look of pride and excitement on their faces made my exertion feel very minimal. I am amazed by the dedication and sacrifice many of them have to make in order to achieve that level of athletic ability. I wish them all the best of luck and I will be cheering for them during my workouts over the next 10 days.

3 Days Up North

I’m sitting in the Calgary airport after a 2 internal day company meeting and 1 day client visit, trying to get back to my postings. I know it is not realistic to post every day, but I miss the outlet even after a few days of not writing (I loosely call it that, I know). I don’t know if it is weird to feel that way after less than two weeks of posts or if it is an indication that the blog is good for me and I should miss it if I don’t do a regular push.

Anyway, I enjoyed seeing the colleagues from our Canadian offices that I don’t get to interact with very often and I came away with a good feeling about the direction the company is following. We have picked up a new Service Desk software product called Cherwell Software and we are dedicating more resources than in the past in order to make the practice successful. There were many good ideas thrown around and I hope some of them make it off paper and into production very soon as we will be in a very good position to grow once the economy picks up again.

The only bummer of the trip was that the Olympic torch came right by our offices at 4 PM on Monday and we were not able to step out to see it. Sad that we miss these opportunities but we were so wrapped up in discussions that everyone lost track of time. Maybe I will get to see the Chicago torch relay… no wait… that one is not going to happen.

Still waiting for the flight as it is delayed 30 minutes, which seems to be the norm. The plane is coming from San Francisco which had some weather delays so there is not much we can do but wait…and catch up on my posts.