Archive for March, 2006

General Conference Trip: Driving Up

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Flip those fake swear words!The day began too early for me. I was still exhausted from the previous day when I woke up. We left at around 9:30 to go to Salt Lake from Las Vegas. On the way we stopped for breakfast at McDonalds. We ordered One Sausage McMuffin without egg and two Egg McMuffin meals. As we drove out and I began handing out the food I found in the bag two Sausage McMuffins, two Egg McMuffins, and three hash browns. They had given us an extra Sausage McMuffin and an extra Hash Brown! I guess that makes up for all the times I didn’t get all the stuff I ordered but still had to pay for at other fast food places.

Driving through Provo was interesting as usual. The billboards there seem to be the most Mormon-centric of anywhere in Utah. There are many businesses looking to woo missionaries with their special discounts even on seemingly unrelated items. If you have a missionary on your billboard you can’t go wrong because everyone will look at it.

We arrived with little hassle. There was some horrible traffic for a while, but all’s well that ends well. General Conference is tomorrow and it looks like rain… as usual.

General Conference Trip: Las Vegas

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

Just before take-off at Palomar AirportMy brother, Christopher, just turned twelve and was ordained a Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood. He lives within 10 minutes of the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, so we, his family, felt it appropriate that he actually attend the first Priesthood Session of conference that he will hear. As it turns out, my Grandfather has never attended General Conference in person. We, his family, have decided that he should attend General Conference in person at least once in his lifetime. To both of these ends I took a flight from Palomar Airport in Carlsbad to LAX and then another flight from LAX to Las Vegas. Tomorrow we will drive up to Salt Lake City.

The terminal at Palomar is incredibly tiny. It made for a somewhat different experience than what I am used to in pre-flight passenger screening and boarding. There was only one metal detector, and it was at the end of a narrow hallway. It all seemed somewhat strange in that everything felt less formal than at larger airports, but some of the proceedures felt oddly out of place. My favorite instruction was not to go near the outer fence surrounding the runway or else you’d have to go through the metal detector again.

Each flight was very short. The first was only in the air twenty-five minutes, and the second was around forty. They served drinks on the flight from LAX to Las Vegas, but the stewardesses were still cleaning up when the Captain anounced that we were beginning out descent and he instructed the crew to be seated.

Checking on which items need to be restocked

After I arrived in Las Vegas my Grandfather took me directly to the Bishop’s Storehouse where he and Grandmother volunteer twice a week helping people fill food orders and restocking as necessary. It really is a lot of work, but it was fun to work with my Grandfather again. I stayed there for three or four hours until Grandmother arrived and drove me back to their house. I’ve only had about two and a half hours of sleep, and I feel as though I may fall out of my chair, I’m so tired.

Pausing for a rest between restocking trips

I took Grandfather geocaching in the afternoon. Then after Grandmother got back from getting her hair done we ate at In-N-Out Burger for dinner. Finally, we came home and I collapsed from exhaustion went to bed.

Read All About It (GCTXH7)

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

This is my first cache outside of California! Before I left for Las Vegas I looked for the closest cache to my Grandparents’ house, and this was it. I wanted to show my Grandfather how it worked, so I asked if he wanted to come along. I think he really enjoyed himself. I spent all of my time scrounging around in the dirt and he decided to look up… and there it was! I think he had a good time, and he “gets it.” The really random thing is that even though the name of the cache refers to the library it is hidden near, it is more easily accessable from, and in actuality on the property of the church building my Grandparents attend church at every week.

I was so excited that I forgot to take my camera along, so no pictures.

Homer: San Marcos (GCTB0W)

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

Krissy Geocaching at Homer: San MarcosThird time’s the charm. This is the third cache I tried to take Krissy to find. The first two we couldn’t ever find for one reason or another. I was happy to finally find one with her and let her get the gist of what geocaching is all about. This was also our third try to find this particular cache. I guess we just weren’t thinking creatively enough the first two times.

This cache is in the parking lot of the San Marcos Home Depot, right next to where we were going for Family Home Evening. We went looking once at around 6:30pm, right before FHE. Afterwards we went back again and had to use a flashlight. The only clue we had was “Genesis 1:3” and the light pole was in a planter with groundcover and shrubery. I just assumed it would be in the bushes. It turns out it’s not in the bushes, but we figured it out and were on our way.

Krissy couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten at Long John Silvers so we ate there tonight. She just recently discovered that she likes fish, so she was pretty excited. I joked that this was our mini date night since I won’t be here on Friday to go out.

Long John Silvers

The Restoration of the Piano

Monday, March 27th, 2006

When our piano was tuned Krissy asked about what we could do to restore the finish and beautify it. Ever since then Krissy has wanted to fix it up. Tonight we finally bought the product and Krissy was so excited that, even though it was ten o’clock at night she started in on her project.

Krissy Restoring the Piano

It didn’t take very long until we were seeing results. This stuff is amazing. Krissy was able to make the exposed portions of the piano look almost exactly like the unexposed portions under the lid.

Here is a side by side comparison of what part of the piano looked like. On the left, the upper two inches had already been done. On the right the whole side is finished. It’s not perfect, but for the price and the amount of effort involved the results speak for themselves.

The Piano: Before and After

The Evil Light Switch Repents

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Light Switch Control PanelAfter conquering the Double Peak Mountain overlooking San Marcos, Randy and I came back to the apartment for a bit. While he was here he looked at the light switch in the bathroom for me. He was quickly able to determine what needed to be done to swap the switches in the closet and the bathroom. After hooking the sensor switch up in the closet, though, we ran into some problems. The light came on, but the switch didn’t seem to be functioning. The LED on the switch itself never illuminated and the button didn’t do anything. Worst of all, the light would come on, then, after ten seconds, turn off again. It would only stay off for one or two seconds, then turn back on again. This behaviour made no sense.

I went on the internet to find out if there were others that might have had similar difficulties and I found the company’s website. I never found the information I was looking for, but I was able to find a product catalogue with switches that were similar to mine. On one of the pages was a layer by layer photographic diagram of what was inside the black box. Nothing too useful about that, although it was interesting. Also of note was that the diagram showed the switch with its faceplate removed exposing the sensitivity and duration controls.

Sensativity and duration controls!? This was just what we needed! Randy put the switches back the way they had been and turned the sensativity and duration controls to maximum. I started a timer to see how long the light would stay on if no movement were detected in the bathroom. The light stayed on almost exactly thirty minutes! This is a much better solution because now I don’t have to worry everytime maintenance people popped in to check on things.

Thanks to Randy, the light switch formerly known as evil has redeemed itself.

San Diego Ocean View (Double Peak Summit) (GC140)

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Randy has been talking about getting to the top of this mountain for over a year. Once we even drove around trying to find a way to the top. When I discovered there was a geocache hidden near the summit, I started to really get motivated as well.

Randy had the idea that we could go straight up the construction at the end of San Elijo Road then north to connect with the trail leading up to the top. On the way there was another cache, Twin Oaks To Be. We found that without much trouble. Randy figured we just needed to head north from there and we’d hit the trail up to the summit for sure. I couldn’t see anything and couldn’t really tell where we were exactly, so I was sceptical. I had nothing better, so I figured if he wasn’t right we’d probably find a way anyway.

Not more than 400 feet later we found ourselves at the sign pointing the way up to the top!

Broken Sign on Double Peak Trail

The trail was no sissy switchback trail, it went straight up to the top at quite a steep grade. I was trying to keep up with Randy and pushed myself a little too hard. I started to feel light-headed and a little queasy. I sat and rested for a while, and we continued on. From the top we could see almost all of San Marcos. On the one side is San Elijo Hills and all of the earth moving going on there, and on the other is Lake San Marcos and the rest.

Panorama of San Marcos

There is quite a bit of trash up at the top including a bathtub and an old rusted refridgerator. There is evidence that there may have been a house or a cabin at the top at one point.

The cache was well hidden under some rocks at the base of a bush. I moved the rocks on a whim. They didn’t look like they were anything special, until the top rock was removed and the old World War II relic was revealed.

The Cache

We returned the cache as best we could to its hiding place and started considering our descent. Once we reached the top the “hard way” we realized that there were some construction roads that went almost all the way to the top. We were going to take one of those down until Randy heard construction traffic down below. I didn’t really want to go back down the way we had come, but what goes up must come down, and so it was with us.

After we got back to the car we went and got Slurpees at the 7-Eleven on Rancho Santa Fe and San Marcos Blvd. Randy thought it would be cool to get a picture of the peak we had just been on from the vantage point of the 7-Eleven parking lot. It was pretty hazy. I’ll never look at that peak the same way again.

The Summit from the Bottom

Twin Oaks To Be (GCMM6Q)

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Before getting my GPS, Krissy and I tried to find this. I don’t know what I was thinking. Now that I’ve acually gone geocaching I know that it’s virtually impossible to do. Randy and I found this cache this morning on our way to San Diego Ocean View (GC140). The cache is hidden just off of a trail. The only thing is that the trail it is hidden next to has almost completely been destroyed by construction related to connecting Twin Oaks Valley Road all the way over the hill. It’s amazing that this cache has survived this long.

On our way in and back out we passed huge towers of tires. I never know how quickly these tires get used up.

Tires at San Elijo Rd Construction Site

The Evil Light Switch

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

The Worst Light Switch in the WorldUpdate: the light switch is not at bad as originally though. Click here to see why.

A few months ago there was some maintainance performed in all of the apartments in our complex. Our normal, up is on, down is off, human-style light switch was “upgraded” to the monstrosity pictured at the right. Now, I’m a technical kind of guy, and I was intrigued at this new hi-tech switch. There is a motion sensor on the top and a button on the bottom. When you click the button it always returns back to the same position. The green LED flashes intermittently, and sometimes seems to flash when it detects movement. All of this is fine, so far. But there is one really annoying “feature” of this light switch: it shuts off after 5 minutes of no motion detected.

I am assuming this was installed to save electricity. The first time I took a shower with this thing, the light turned off while I was rinsing soap off of my face. My eyes were closed at the time, and when I opened them, it was pitch black. I got to finish the shower in the dark. Thank you crappy light switch.

Every time I take a shower now, I’m always paranoid that this thing is going to shut off on me, so I wave a towel over the top of the shower curtain every one to two minutes. Sometimes I am really relaxed and forget about waving the towel, and just when you least expect it: “Click!”

I came up with what I thought would be a solution. There should be a mechanism to detect if the shower is on, and if it is on then the light won’t shut off unless the light switch is manually turned off. The problem with this comes when someone wants to take a long relaxing bath. The water won’t be running, and the light will still turn off!

I could see where this type of switch might be useful. If it had been me, I would have installed this thing in my closet. That’s the light I tend to forget is on when I walk out of the bedroom. I can’t recall forgetting to turn off the bathroom light. Anyway, I had some ideas for fixing the problem. I unscrewed this switch to see if it might have an adjustable timer. Unfortunately it was just a black box and I didn’t want to risk breaking it because I don’t own it. My next idea was to actually switch it with the normal light switch in the closet, but I didn’t know what the maintenance people would say to the landlord if they came in and noticed it.

Finally, there are the paranoid theories I keep thinking about. How do I know that this thing doesn’t have a hidden camera in it instead of just a motion sensor? This thing reminds me of HAL, a little bit too much. It’s just a switch with a light in it, but it still creeps me out sometimes.

I hate this stupid, evil light switch.

Ice Cream + Baby = Disaster

Sunday, March 19th, 2006

Tonight we had dinner with family. My neice was given mint and chip flavored ice cream for dessert and, capsule well… you can imagine what happened.

Ice Cream Covered Baby