Operation Firefly Completed

I figured it was best to get this post out tonight for the simple reason that I am planning on converting my primary PC from XP to Windows 7 tonight.  If things go terribly wrong I’ll still have at least one post for the month.  The good news is I already went through this process with two of my other machines and quite frankly it went pretty smooth.  It just makes me a little hesitant when there’s work being done on my workhorse machine.  So what is the topic that may have to hold you over for the rest of the month?  It’s Operation Firefly and represents  the final phases of Operation River Kwai.  Yes folks, the actual bridge building effort has come to a close.  On July 4th, my family was able to make it up for a cookout and opening ceremony.

It about killed me getting everything done for the big day.  It was less than a week after getting back from Acadia National Park so the yard was completely out of control.  Two mowings of the yard, a complete mowing of the back lot (trails and bridge area), 3 hours weeding the landscaping, 2.5 hours trimming the house lawn, 6 hours trimming and weed clearing the back lot and mixing 3 50lb bags of cement took up most of my time.  I also had to put up the Tiki torches (even little ones for the bridge, check out the railings).  The hope being the torches would keep the mosquitoes at bay.  Cutting it pretty close, I drove down to the bridge to put up the ceremonial ribbon about an hour before everyone was suppose to arrive.  Attaching it to one end of the post (check) start rolling the spool out (check), attach to other end ACCCKKKKKK!  Turns out there was only about 2 feet on the spool.  The heart sank, all the planning, all the work crushed by 6 feet of missing ribbon.   I slowly walked back to the ATV, and puddered back to the house.  Thinking all was lost, the day jumped back on the tracks with a great idea from Linda… “Why don’t you use duct tape?” Brilliant!  As you can tell from the picture, that was the perfect solution.

With my family watching, the  ribbon was cut and the bridge given its official name.  After long discussions with myself and thousands of ideas, it came down to really one name… SERENITY.  Firefly happens to be one of my favorite TV series and their spaceship happened to be called that.  I also thought it was quite fitting since it was truly relaxing spending all the hours alone down there clearing the area and doing the finishing work.  Just me, the bridge, the flowing water over the rocks and the sights and sounds of the local wildlife.  A stark contrast from the hectic days in the office and quite frankly the driving reason we decided to move out into the country in the first place.  I could probably sit on that bridge and just relax the entire day.

My brother Dan played a major part in this operation.  His design assistance was key to the whole effort and he spent numerous hours (including vacation days) helping me bring this beast to fruition.  He also highly recommended having the opening ceremony as soon as possible in case it fell .  You have to like his confidence!  Based on some initial tests, I was pretty sure it was going to hold up just fine, although, I will not go into the reasons for the extra 3 bags of cement mentioned previously.  He would not help me cut the tape, so I gave him the privilege of christening Serenity.

We actually discussed the best way to carry this out before he went at it.  Unsure whether a whack across the post would really break the champagne bottle a decision was made to take advantage of some bolts on the side of the bridge.  Now mind you we have never done this before, or at least me.  He owns a boat and might have done this with that, but clearly this is our first bridge christening.  Without a doubt, we were both surprised as to what happened.  Right before he went to do this, I took my safety glasses off (which I always wear since getting my eyes LASIK’d a few years back) and put them on him.  This turned out to be a wise move since the bottle COMPLETELY shattered when it hit the bolt, and by shattered, I mean everything but the handle was in a pile of glass with no piece bigger than a 50 cent piece.  If you look closely in the picture above you can see some of the glass making its way through the foam spray.  I thought Linda took a great shot of the aftermath.

As you can tell, Dan looked rather surprised at what little was left.  All in all, the day turned out fantastic.  We had good eats, good games (frisbee, ladders, Jarts (crappy safety ones) and Bocce).  But most of all it was one of the few times most of us were able to get together at the same time.  Unfortunately, my niece Kristen had to work and the our boys missed getting to play with Max, but the rest of the newphews/niece, brothers, sister-in-laws and parents were all present.  We were also able to get a family photo (on the bridge) which, believe it or not, is pretty rare.

In closing, thanks to everyone that helped on the bridge (Linda, Dan D., Jeff, Sung, Billy, Dan N., Paul R., Rand and Norm) with special thanks to my father who taught me how to use the tools of the trade at a young age.  He was disappointed he didn’t get a chance to help out, but in truth, he’s the one who set the foundation for us to even consider taking on such an ambitious endeavor.

(Spoiler Alert – Firefly Ending)

Okay, now who out there has been impatiently waiting to comment that SERENITY crashed towards the end of the Firefly movie?  Come on, I know at least one of you were thinking that.  I take comfort in knowing they put it back together again at the end and the fact I haven’t seen any Reavers in the area – just one CHUPACABRA and I’m hot on that trail.

Views on the Move

Howdy everyone.  It has been a very busy weekend so going to crank out a quick post today.   That is if my fingers hold out long enough to get all the words typed out.  I am literally sitting here too exhausted even to get up and turn the channel to something other than golf.  The cause of this discomfort is the 3 hours on Friday, 12 hours on Saturday and 8 hours today spent finishing off the bridge decking.  The good news is, this completes the last major task on Operation River Kwai.  There are some odds and ends to complete, but the stress is basically over.  The bad news is I can barely stand at the moment and the arms are like Jello.  There will be a future post covering the progress in more detail.

It was a definite struggle to come up with the graphic for this post and opted for the easier way out and just set up quick picture with the two key components of the observation.  It also provided a great reason to show off my favorite toy car.  Not only is it a replica of my dream car, it is painted up as my favorite comic book theme.  Not positive anymore, but pretty sure Pakage got this gem for me!  Lately I have been checking out the various drivers encountered while motoring around the city of Peoria.  Apparently, there is a serious problem with wrecks occurring due to someone “texting” when they should be watching the road.   Strangely (for being so prevalent), I have never encountered a driver actually doing this.   There are plenty of distracted cell phone users and makeup appliers out there, but no one doing the thumb olympics.  While doing my investigations, I came upon two very interesting scenes.  The first one involved a green Cherokee that came up alongside me.  Catching my eye was a huge prescription bottle that the passenger was raging war with to get open.  Finally outsmarting the child proof locks, the lady took a large yellow pill and handed it to the driver.  Fairly mundane.  However, the lady then took one out of the bottle and washed it down with water.  This I thought was odd, since I can’t remember anytime where a prescription was given to a party of people.  This was either another buried feature in the healthcare reform, a rare case of two related people needing the same medication or something that likely was not legit.  It could have just been a handy storage container for over the counter drugs, but that would have been an interesting discussion should they get pulled over since it still had the medical label on it.  They drove away when the light turned leaving me still pondering a situation I had not encountered before.  Eventually, the Sixteen Candles quote “Now we are both on the pill” came to mind giving me an internal chuckle.

The other interesting visual I had was when a blue GMC Jimmy came up next to me on the right at a stop light.  As soon as the car came to a stop, the driver turned toward the passenger seat (away from me), grabbed a 6 inch by 4 inch by 2 inch piece of white plastic and started blowing heavily into it.  After one long breadth he brought it down and looked at the top and then repeated the whole process.  On the second read, he put it down on the seat and exploded off the line when the light turned green.  My best guess is he had a portable breathalyzer.  This seemed odd and a little troubling that he felt the need to check it at 4pm in the afternoon leading to the assumption he had spent a good deal of time drinking and was concerned enough to check it.  On additional scrutiny, a thought occurred that it was a contraption for convicted drunk drivers that prevented the car from going unless the breadth was clean.  I had heard of contraptions to get the vehicle started, but didn’t think it was required to get the car going again it came to a stop.  If this was the case, that could be a serious safety risk above and possibly beyond actually driving drunk.  Obviously, I’ll never know the actual reasons, but like the first situation, this still seems like it would be an interesting discussion if he was pulled over by the police.  “Look officer, I’m not legally drunk, my handy breathalyzer says .0799999999, which means I’m still legal!”.  “Why do you have that?”  “Because I need to know when to drive really fast to avoid being pulled over when I’m drunk.”  “Please step out of the car…”  I cleverly let this individual get a number of car lengths ahead of me before leaving the stop light, no reason to take any chances.

Good news, Linda just showed up.  Hopefully I can convince her to get the remote (sitting 2 feet from me) and change the channel.  Be safe out there!