Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Well gang, I'm sorry to report that my youngest son, Leigh, lost his wrestle-off and had to bump up to 135lbs for the section tourney. He finished 4th, which is pretty respectable seeing the he was giving away about 25-25lbs on the second day. He plans on wrestling through the summer so that he'll reach the top rung next year.
On a brighter note, my oldest son, Rory won the ECWC conference title at 149lbs to advance to the NCAA Division III tournament at St. Olaf's College in Northfield, Minnesota on March 4-5. He will also be a Scholar All-American for the second year in a row.
I'll keep everyone posted on his progress. Bye!

Monday, February 21, 2005

I was helping my friend, Dan, last week to put some finishing touches on his Varieze after he rebuilt its engine. The Varieze is the Rutan-designed airplane that was the predecessor to the LongEZ that I fly. Dan had the plane down for several months having the cylinders bored, honed, ported, and replacing the pistons and rings with brand new high compression pistons and rings. He also made a number of other improvements on the airframe during that time. One of the goals was to get more horsepower and with it, higher top end speed. The engine had been using a lot of oil, about a quart every hour or two, so a top-end rebuild wasn't an option, but a necessity.

The Varieze is no slouch on top end speed to begin with and there is one highly modified version of the Varieze that regularly turns in speeds over 240 mph at the Reno air races each year. Dan had already performed the break-in procedure on the engine the previous day and test flew the airplane. We took off from Loveland, expecting to fly for about 10 minutes and land in Greeley. No sooner did we leave the ground, that I could tell that Dan's efforts had paid off. He was a mile ahead of me in no time at all. I let him know how far ahead he had gotten and he circled around and came up along side me. He passed me like I was standing still even though I was going 160 mph at the time! His groundspeed was over 200 mph and he wasn't even at full throttle. He pulled up into a nearly vertical climb to slow down. After leveling off with the thottle pulled way back, Dan got on the radio and said, "Lee, I have a problem". "What kind of problem?", I asked. "Vibration" was his answer. We were about 6 miles out from the Greeley airport and I asked him if he could make it. He told me he'd try and I told him not to worry about the radio, I'd make the calls. Luckily, no one else was landing at the time and we were able to land straight in on the east runway. It was a tense few minutes but he managed to put it on the runway safely and taxied it over to my hangar.

I pulled up behind him to see a lot of smoke rising from his cowling and oil pouring out of the bottom of the plane. It was a very good thing that we had been only a few miles from the airport. He had lost about 4 of the 5 quarts of oil in the engine due to a very large hole you can see in the photo. (You can click on the images to see larger versions.). A connecting rod had come loose from the crankshaft and got knocked through the engine's case and the engine cowling. Some of the parts that came off the engine went through the propellor and chewed it up pretty badly, but fortunately, it stayed together. Otherwise, it might not have been possible to get to the aiport. The engine was still running, albeit roughly, on three cylinders. On Saturday, we removed the wings and loaded it on a trailer for the trip back to Loveland. I expect that this time the rebuild may go a little faster, but he'll have a lot more parts to buy. He still has to determine the root cause of the failure so that it won't happen again.

We are very thankful that he was able to land safely and not damage the airframe or himself in the process!

Friday, February 18, 2005

The topic of blogging came up today on a mailing list that I belong to associated with the Entcon conference I attend each year in Denver. We have a visionary in the group by the name of Bill French who is sometimes so far out ahead of everyone that it's hard to see his dust. He's quite familiar with blogging and RSS and has a company that wrote some amazing software to help automate the process. He commented during a recent exchange that one of the people who was interested in blogging (Jack) should give Blogger a test drive. Jack got it set up in no time and had 7 postings to it in the first hour.

While reading Jack's blog, I found a new feature that had been added to Blogger that now allows people to comment on postings. I've decided to add it to our blog. You just click on the link called 'comments' below this posting to read comments or add a comment about it. That way, if you want to comment on a posting rather than making a whole new entry, you can give it a try. You do have to have a user ID on blogger which most of you that read the blog already have in order to make a comment. Otherwise, I'm sure it would accumulate spam-like postings.

So go ahead and give it a try if you like. It will be interesting to see how it works.

Friday, February 11, 2005

What the heck.......... I am a proud parent...........

Wrestling: JC staging its own struggle for 119 supremacyBY MIKE MANGANPress & Sun-Bulletin
Though the Section 4 Class B, C, and D wrestling championships will be contested on Saturday at Waverly, Greene, and Harpursville, respectively, some of the biggest matches this week won't be taking place at any of those sites.

They'll be taking place in the Johnson City High School wrestling room.

That is where Leigh Tobias and Ryan McCormick are currently involved in a week-long wrestle-off to see who will represent JC in the 119-pound weight class at next week's Section 4 Division I Tournament at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
Wrestle-offs for starting spots in a weight class aren't uncommon, but in this particular case it's rather noteworthy with McCormick -- a Section 4 Division I champion at 112 pounds last year -- and Tobias both considered among Section 4's top wrestlers.
The winner of the Tobias/ McCormick wrestle-off figures to be the strong favorite to win the Section 4 Division I 119-pound title next weekend. The loser will have to move up to 125, where four-time state champion Troy Nickerson of Chenango Forks looms, or to 130, where two-time state champion J.P. O'Connor of Oxford will likely reside.
JC coach Pete Capone said that the Wildcats' 119 representative would probably be decided by Monday and that the two are "dead even" right now.
"It's been very intense," Capone said. "Some might feel it's unfair, but it's a problem I don't mind having.
"From a coach's standpoint, you have two very good guys with a chance to win, and these are guys that are going to be coming back next year."

Monday, February 07, 2005

Guess so Lee and Jay don't feel lonely - I will check in -- I read the postings periodically, but never have anything that matches Lee or Jay's writings! Someone at work today was talking about the new HP laser labelling system and how neat it was -- and I mentioned that I knew one of the developers of it -- so Lee you are a celebrity. Enjoyed the pictures of Taiwan -- I echo your sentiments about Asia versus Europe travel -- I am always on edge in Asia -- and primarily due to the language. Lately, I have been going to Mexico City (3 times since Halloween) - and that is an interesting place to say the least. I speak enough Spanish to get by (thank goodness for Sister Xavier and the Latin background!). My work in Mexico involves brokering a deal between the Mexicans and Italians -- ugh!

I am in the process of setting up a new corporate credit card program for my company -- and working with JP Morgan -- a fellow I was speaking to last week works in the same group as Rob Crawford -- what a small world

My two sons (ages 7 and 8) both really got involved with football this year and started to follow the NFL closley -- with the Steelers this year, it was very easy to get caught up in it. Anyway I had to explain the facts of sports' life to them two weeks ago after the AFC championship -- both were very distraught and could not understand why Pittsburgh was not going to the Super Bowl

Lastly -- my 8 year old did his First Penance this past Saturday -- we are very friendly with our priests and afterwards -- my youngest (Chip -the 7 year old, who will do First Penance/Communion next year) - told our pastor -- "Fr. Zywan - you better bring a lunch, a pillow and maybe a bowl of cereal -- because my First Penance next year might turn into a sleepover" Think I might have my work cut out?!?!?!

Glad to see that you made it back safe and sound, Lee. I hope Terri has a good trip and returns safely as well. Nothing uch new to report here in the not-so-big city. Gearing up for regionals on the 18th and 19th. Will be going to Scranton U. next Saturday to watch my oldest, Rory, wrestle in his final 2 collegiate matches before the conference tourney. 4 years has gone by so quickly! He's now waiting to hear if he gets accepted to Fordham or Columbia for his pursuit of a MSW. He's got the grades (soon to be Academic All-American for a 2nd year). ust waiting on his reference letters. Keep your fingers crossed for him... I think he's finally growing up! Ya'll be cool................

Saturday, February 05, 2005

I'm back from my trip to Taiwan. I spent a few days in Hsinchu and a few more days in Taipei. The picture to the left here is one I took of the Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world. It was completed recently and has just opened for business. It was located next door to my hotel in Taipei. It seems an odd location for a skyscraper, since Taiwan regularly experiences some impressive earthquakes. In 1999, there was an earthquake that measured over 7.6 on the Richter scale that killed more than 2,000 people. The guy I was traveling with was actually in Taipei at the time, and around 2:00 a.m., he noticed that his hotel was falling apart with tiles cracking and things coming off the wall so he ducked under a door frame until it stopped, and then crawled in his bed and went back to sleep. His colleagues all got the first flights out of the country the next morning after sleeping in the park for fear the hotel would collapse. He found a place where he could conduct his meetings and had his Taiwanese hosts come in to work, even though most of the power was out in the country. His wife was worried about him and he never thought to call her to let her know he was OK thinking that the earthquake probably wouldn't even make the evening news in the U.S.

Terri was in Taipei last year and she experienced an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 but it was centered off shore about 60 miles, so it didn't do much damage although it shook the building she was in vigorously for about a minute. During one of my presentations, the room began to shake a little and our Taiwanese hosts smiled politely and informed us that there was an earthquake in progress. I'd never been in an earthquake before, but this was a small one with a magnitude of only 5.2, so I'm not sure I can even count it. They generally have over 100 earthquakes a year in Taiwan. It makes California seem stable by comparison.

Terri is now on her way to Germany for a business trip. She's flying to Frankfurt direct from Denver and will arrive tomorrow morning and then fly on to Stuttgart and then take a train to her final destination. She makes this trip about twice a year and is getting used to it. The people who run the family-owned hotel where she stays know her by name and take good care of her.

I miss traveling to Europe on business. The people in Asia are very nice and make you feel very welcome, but the history and culture of Europe are easier for me to appreciate. Even though I can't speak any European languages other than English, I can understand the words well enough make my way around without much difficulty. By contrast, in Asia, the characters are all gibberish to me. I have to get the directions printed out in Chinese characters for the taxi drivers since most of them can't read English. So it's at least an order of magnitude harder to communicate in most Asian countries than it is in Europe. And, of course, many people in Europe speak English in the workplace on a daily basis.

I hope everyone is doing well and that a few more of you join in the blog so that Jay and I can enjoy hearing from you. We're past the halfway mark between the 25th and 30th reunion and so that means in a just a little over 2 more years, we'll get to see each other again!