Photography has definitely taken a back seat lately. But I’ve also focused on other things that are creative…. well, at least somewhat.

I like to make stuff. It’s usually not fancy, and it’s almost always a home repair project or a quick DIY job.

I recently got a cheap cross slide vise for use on my drill press.

The vise needed a lot of fixing up despite being new. It was cheaply made, but with the right lube, cleaning, and adjusting, it actually works pretty well. I even added roller bearings on the crank stops so they would turn smoothly and easily.

Cooking is something else I enjoy, but I don’t do it very often. I don’t do fancy or gourmet necessarily. I just spend a lot of time chopping, cutting, and preparing. And it’s usually stuff packed with flavor, spice, and stuff that’s generally bad for you in large quantities. This was for Thanksgiving sides – stuffed mushrooms and bacon wrapped stuffed jalepenos.

Beer is still a great source of enjoyment. And I’m still trying new brews when I can.

A recent new one was Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. It’s unlike anything I’ve had before. It’s expensive but a nice treat. At 18% alcohol it’s not a beer to drink in large quantities. It’s sweet and smooth and does not have a crisp hoppy taste. It’s just mellow liquid gold that smoothes out any hops that went into it.

And finally, the biggest time consuming activity in the past several weeks has been a total change in lifestyle. I turned 39 last month, and I’ve vowed to not reach 40 in the current shape that I’m in.

I’ve been exercising A LOT both biking and running. I’ve gotten on Weight Watchers, and I’m learning to eat right.

I’ve set two goals for a 365 day period:
1) Do Weight Watchers every day
2) Travel 1800 miles on foot or bike (combined)

I really don’t have any goals for my weight. I know I will lose weight, but I’m more concerned about eating right and getting healthy.

So it’s a big change. I can still eat and drink what I want, but I have to learn to do it in moderation. It’s occupying a lot more of my non-work time than I thought. However, it is important and I must make time to exercise.

Been busy…

I’ve been really busy at work lately. What you see below is a really large flange.

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I had to be on hand to witness and somewhat monitor the fabrication of a few things. Playing field engineer is tiring and sometimes difficult. 12 to 15 hour days will wear you out in a hurry.

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Heavy Lifts & Big Trucks

I spent some time in a fabrication yard last week to witness and participate in the testing of some newly built equipment. This stuff is special, custom-built equipment for subsea pipelines. It will be installed thousands of feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico, and we must be sure that it all fits together and operates correctly.

testing in progress

Testing like this always goes about the same: slow. I had some time to check out the other work going on in the fab. yard (work not related to our job).

Jo Ann
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This is a heavy duty Pacific truck/tractor helping move a Goldhöfer hydraulic platform trailer. The load on the trailer is some sort of large steel framework/foundation. I didn’t find out what it was for.

This is the first time I’ve seen a truck like that, and I had to do a little bit of research on it. Turns out, Pacific built large, heavy duty trucks like this for a long while but are now out of business. There’s a great write up of Pacific’s history here. Apparently, what’s left of the company is now part of this place, which should help keep old Pacifics, like Jo Ann, running for a long while.

Jo Ann is operated by Palletized Trucking of Houston.

Below is a different truck and trailer combo being loaded out with a part of a very large pressure vessel (or a piece of some sort of vessel for the refining industry, most likely).

Pressure Vessel Load-Out
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The truck is a Peterbilt. My wife’s brother is an engineer and works for them. So, this one’s for you, Clint.

Peterbilt Loaded and Ready
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Photos from a 3-year Old

A while back, we got Henry a little kiddie camera. It’s a low-quality web-cam adapted into a “child-proof” camera body. I’ll vouch for its robustness, but the picture quality is terrible.

Henry and his cam.

I put together a little gallery of Henry’s photos yesterday:

click to see gallery

There were some interesting photos in the bunch. One interesting observation is that he often shoots things from his eye-level, i.e. he does not look upwards. Another problem is that the camera has a terribly long shutter lag, so he’s often putting the camera down while it’s in the process of actually taking a photo. He likes to shoot the TV a lot. There were several dozen photos of some of his favorite TV shows.

Some photos seem completely random and some are accidents. He’ll depress the shutter sometimes when he’s holding the camera at his side.

click to see gallery

But some photos seem like he’s actually seriously thinking about the composition when he takes them. It doesn’t seem possible because he photographs like a madman, running all over the place rarely standing still for more than 3 seconds. Maybe he’ll make a good photojournalist someday?

Happy New Years Eve

Greetings from the backyard. I’m currently sitting outside, watching Henry play and smoking some chickens.

Of course a good backyard cook-out isn’t complete without beer :-) I’m sipping on some Trippel from New Belgium Brewing Co. Good stuff!

And the chickens? Well, it’s pretty simple: three whole birds (two with sliced and pickled jalepenos stuffed under the skins) with salt, pepper, and a lot of Mesquite smoke :-) We’ll also have some pinto beans and potato salad later.

Hope you all have a fantastic and safe New Year’s Eve!


While we were in Del Rio over the Christmas holiday, Henry and I went camping out at Lake Amistad one night. It was a daddy/son camping trip, our first real one since he and I camped in the backyard last year.

We passed a pretty good time. The weather wasn’t ideal – the skies were gray and the temps were pretty chilly (low 40′s, but the wind was blowing pretty good).

About 3am we both had enough of the cold (our tent was not blocking out the wind effectively, even with the rain fly on), and I put the air mattress in the back of our RAV4. We climbed inside and enjoyed a wind-less sleep the rest of the night.

Henry hunts for rocks to throw into the lake.

Henry and daddy kick back and enjoy a few cold ones (Capri Suns & Fat Tire)

Henry warms by the campfire and makes a good-night phone call to momma.

Many thanks to the kind rangers at the Amistad NRA headquarters. They were very helpful and friendly to us. They even gave Henry a Jr. Ranger badge, which he proudly wore. And thanks also to the camp host (at the San Pedro campground) and his lab (Montana). They were very kind as well and even checked up on us.