Saturday, April 25, 2009

Good Press

Our rural electrification projects using micro franchising and hydropower were given some good press in the Baylor Business Review, the primary publication of the Baylor Business School. They have a large subscription base of 39,000 people, so I am hopeful that some new contacts will come our way as a result. Click here for the latest BBR issue, or go straight to our story here.

One Honduran man, a Baylor Business alumnus, has already written us in response to reading the story. He now owns a restaurant in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the second largest city in Honduras. I plan to follow up with him to ask some questions! I love this part of the work, if you can call it that. What part if it, you ask? I guess I would call it the non-linear networking part: connecting from one person to another, always learning, frequently reevaluating, faking Spanish... it's kinda fun.

"Wheels within wheels in a spiral array
a pattern so grand and complex
time after time we loose sight of the waves,
our causes can't see their effects." - Neil Peart

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Estoteric Knowledge: the Plumbing Merit Badge

When I was a Boy Scout in the early 80's, I wanted to work on the Plumbing merit badge. It fascinanted me to imagine the network of secret places, like miniature tunnels, that were formed by the hot water, cold water, and sewer pipes. They ran behind the walls, underground, and to imagined sercret chambers which, if we were only small enough to enter, would be an endless labrintine playground, nevermind the sewage.

And so the sailing ships of childhood dreams crash hard against the rocks of reality. As adults, we are called forth to repair our own homes by the siren song of Home Depot and chased forward by the high price and questionable hygene of professional plumbers. And so began my Saturday.

It seems the foul smell that filled my kitchen whenever I ran the diswhasher was the result of a broken rubber fitting that connected two pipes in the crawlspace under the house. So when the dishwasher emptied its rinse water, it simply pooled under my kitchen, not availing itself of the sewer lines that were made for such mechanical discharge. Water full of tiny food particles tends to rot, of course, and hence the lovely aroma.

Instead of crawling under the house (and through the puddle of yuck) I decided to come from above and cut a hole through the subflooring of my house all the way to the broken fitting. It is repaired and not leaking. It took three trips to Home Depot, about $50, about eight hours, and lots of prayers mumbled in utter frustration. I still have a bit of a gaping hole in the floor under the sink, but at least the hemoraging has been stopped!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rained Out

Jono was very excited to play his first baseball game tonight. He has been practicing for a few weeks now. He had on his new gray shirt (his team is the Electric Eels!) and his black hat and he was ready to go. The whole family was ready to show up and cheer him on... but it rained out. Apparently children with metal bats is considered "dangerous" in lightning storms. Whatev.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cub Scout Baseball Night

BATTER UP! This evening Jono's Cub Scout den attended a college baseball game between Baylor University and University of Texas at Arlington. With his new-found interest in baseball, Jono had a great time. There were only a couple hundred people in attendance, so we could choose seats right at first base!

This is a fancy picture that I took as the sun was going down. Yes, I know, I'm a pretty amazing photographer.

Behind the park is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Brazos river.

FOUL! This foul ball landed a few seats over from us, and the college students who caught it felt the intense cuteness pressure of Jono in his Cub Scout uniform, so they gave the ball to him! It was the highlight of his night!

By the eighth inning, he was getting restless, so we took a walk down to lonely left field. Man, these fields are big compared to the little league!
At some point in this wonderful evening with my youngest son, I realized something about the game of baseball. I think I like it. Why did it take me 41 years to figure this out, you may ask? I think because my exposure to the game has been limited to little league and one pro team. That team was the Houston Astros in the 1970's when they still played in the Astrodome. Have you ever been to the Astrodome? You sit about a mile away from the players. They are small. You can't tell one from another. You can't hear the crack of the bat or the pop of the ball hitting the catcher's mit. You can't watch the sun go down or feel the wind.

I hear people talk about loving baseball parks, but I could never relate until tonight. A small park is a good thing. It ranks up there with doing something special with your son, or taking home a foul ball.

Oh yes, Baylor won 10 to 7.

Monday, April 13, 2009

May Plans for Honduras

Ten engineering students and a few other folks are planning to take another trip to Honduras next month. We will spend two weeks there upgrading our pico hydro electric system in the rural village called Danta Uno where we worked last summer. Our plan is to replace the Kill-A-Watt meters and fuses with a new electronically resetting circuit breaker. It works like this: if you use too many lights or appliances, the current limit will be exceeded and it will disconnect your house from the power. After 15 seconds it automatically reconnects if you have lessened your load by unplugging something.

We also plan to design and build a distribution grid for a new system in another village where we have some relationships, Pueblo Nuevo. The system there provides lights for a church and a house, plus charges cell phones. We want to expand it to bring power to the 50-60 houses there. We used a GPS receiver to get the latitude and longitude of each home in the village, and then we used Google Earth to design the layout. I will post pictures soon.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yard Day

I was awakened this morning by a cat clawing deep into my left big toe. Bad Kitty (a.k.a. Henry) crawled under the covers and decided to attack me in my sleep. He ran away when I yelped and kicked, but a few minutes later he came back to sharpen his claws on the side of the bed. So I whacked him with a pillow.

These pictures have nothing to do with my feline alarm clock, but they are pretty. The whole family worked in the yard yesterday; we mowed and edged and swept and planted some new plants. Ryan even came over and got started on the decking of the tree house. I love spring.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

To Quote a Starfish...

Around the Orangehouse, we like to quote SpongeBob from time to time. One of my favorites is when SpongeBob's best friend, Patrick Star, says:

"The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma."

Here is a 30 second video of Jono's attempts to say this!