Monday, June 30, 2008

Honduras Arrival

We arrived in La Ceiba, Honduras today. I felt the need to telephone my mother and let her know we were safe. This is not my normal procedure, but then again, I usually call my wife and let her know. This time, my wife and boys are with me, so I phoned my mother instead.

Unfortunately she told me some terrible news. I don't feel the liberty to discuss it on the blog, but I will please ask for your prayers. Thanks.

For those that need it, here is my contact information:
Cell phone: 011 504 9614 1872
Address of our rental home:
Casa 700
Colonia El Sauce
La Ceiba, Atlantida, Honduras

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wind Turbine Project Part 11 (Tower Repair)

The student organization I sponsor, Engineers with a Mission, is building a wind turbine for the World Hunger Relief farm. A month and a half ago, we ran into a problem when we put the tower together. One of the steel pipes developed a crack in it, and it took a while for us to get it repaired.

Coordinated by David (good job, David) we had our great departmental machinist, Mr. Orr, bring a welder out to the site, and also a generator to power the welder. The repair was successful, so the project can continue...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More Images from Scout Camp

We are home from camp now, and busy getting ready to leave for Honduras. After getting permission from some of the other boys' parents, I am posting some of my other favorite pictures from our week at Sid Richardson Scout Ranch, or SR2, as they call it.

Mail call! RG gets a letter from home.

Here is W relaxing around the camp in the evening.

This is a photo of one of the daily flag ceremonies we had. He is not from our troop, but I liked the picture.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Blob

One of the most fun things to do at Sid Richardson Scout Ranch is the Blob. It's a giant balloon floating in the lake that is used to catapult kids into the air. They sit on the end of the blob and another person, preferably a large person (you see where this is going) jumps off a platform onto the other end of the blob. This sproings the kid into the air and down into the lake.

The bigger the blobber, the higher the blobbee goes. Needless to say, I was one of the more popular guys at the blob! They would look me up and down and say "will you blob me?!?" Being a big guy has its perks.

Here is me giving D a shot:

And here I am shooting one of his friends. He was a smaller kid than D, so he went even higher:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Campfire

Monday night we had a camp-wide camp fire at a natural amphitheater. It overlooked lake what's-it's-name and we arrived at dusk, which was about 9:30 p.m.. About 500 boy scouts and their leaders arrived with the clonk clonk of water bottles clamped to their shorts with caribiners (sp?). We sat down around a semi-circular set of rock seats made at seven different levels. They lit the campfire and began the program.
The opening program included skits and introductions of the staff. Here is one of the skits...

The Archery Merit Badge

One of D's chosen merit badges is Archery. He learned how to make arrows and bow strings, the proper safety and handling of the equipment, and of course, got lots of practice shooting. Here he and one of his buddies take aim...

and then laugh because one of their arrows went flying over the target!

We are both having a great week here, though not without challenges. It is "hot as blue blazes" as they say. And at night, there are lots of bug problems in the tents. There are ants and cockroaches that come up through the wooden pallets and sometimes crawl on the walls, or even your body. Brace yourself for this: one of the older boys, whom I will call Greg, even had one crawl into his ear at 4:00 in the morning! He went to the medical center (the quack shack) and the medic looked in his ear with a light scope. This startled the roach so that it ran out of his ear and was promptly stomped upon!

He handled it well. In fact, Greg has handled many things well this week and has shown tremendous leadership to the younger boys. He's a great role model for a certain eleven year old I know.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sid Richardson Scout Ranch

This week I am attending Sid Richardson Scout Ranch somewhere north west of Fort Worth, Texas, with my son D and his boy scout troop. Yes, I brought my laptop. But no, it's not because I am a workaholic. It is because I leave for Honduras two days after I get back! We'll be gone for seven weeks, so there is lots of preparation to do - even if you have to do some of it from boy scout camp the week before.

D is learning first aid, archery, swimming, and perhaps rifle shooting. He is having lots of fun, though it is blazing hot.
I am writing from the "Scoutmaster's Saloon" which is an unairconditioned room with crude tables, chess boards, and oh yeah, a wireless internet connection! There are seven of us middle aged boy scout leaders with laptops, laughing at each other. We're like a bunch of ants swarming over a piece of dropped candy.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More Party Pics, a Funeral Pic, and Water Slide Video

Man! this kid is good looking!

Jono is excited to have his friends at the party!

And here he goes!

Party Pics

We held the boys' dual birthday party at the Student Life Center of the university where I teach. They have a great pool and the boys loved it. I took pictures of them on the water slide.

Do you see Jono at the top?

Here he is swooshing into the pool!

D cashed in with birthday money. He's buying dinner...
Jono has been wanting a pogo stick for months! He was very excited and filled with sugar from the Central America cake.

D had fun with some of his friends. Here he is laughing with MJ.

And our seven-and-a-half year old is pretty darn cute. I love this picture!

Aunt Rosa's Funeral

The family and I traveled to Corpus Christi last Monday and Tuesday to attend the funeral of my Aunt Rosa. She was originally from El Salvador, but had lived in Corpus for over 40 years. She died at age 77 leaving two daughters, two grandchildren, and many friends.
Here a friend comforts Aunt Rosa's niece who traveled from El Salvador to attend the funeral.

Joe, Mom, Cousin Marion, and Cousin Lidia.

Here I am helping D with his tie in the back of the church. I think it was both boys' first time to wear one. Jono's was a clip-on, but D wore one of mine.

On the drive back to the hotel, we stopped at a scenic point and asked a stranger to take our picture. It was unbelievably hot and humid, and we had to get out of the ties before we burst into flames.
It was really good to see family, and to let the boys be seen, and to celebrate the life of Rosa Stowe. We will miss her, but we trust that she is with the Lord now.

Boys' Joint Birthday Party

Since we were unable to have a party for Jono near his birthday, and since D's birthday will occur while we are in Honduras, we decided to have a joint birthday party today for them both. The party starts in a few hours.

We have a family tradition that I bake custom birthday cakes for the boys. They are usually odd, and frequently amateur, but always fun. This year I made a "Central America" cake in honor of our upcoming trip to Honduras. I baked a sheet cake of chocolate and another of white cake with blue food coloring added. Then I cut them into the shape of Central America, along with some of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the northern bit of South America. I used blue cake for water, and brown cake for land. Here is what it looked like before I added frosting.

Then I frosted the land with chocolate, and frosted the water with lemon frosting with blue food coloring. The frosting can cover up the disjoint sections of water, and gives it a certain wave-like quality. Do you see the Panama Canal?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More Swimming Photos

I like Picasa, the free photo editing software from Google. I have been cropping and color-adjusting all my photos. Here are a couple more from our swim the other day, after I worked on them a bit. I have nothing clever or witty to say about them, other than my boys are wonderful, and I think I'm a good photographer.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rock Climbing? Are You Kidding?

Jono's cub scout den had an event today. We all went to the Student Life Center at Baylor and climbed the rock wall. In truth, we were much too busy and over committed to go, but we paid weeks ago, and it was Jono's last time to do anything with scouts for a couple of months.

But I'm so glad we went! It was loads of fun. The whole family went, and the boys and I all climbed the rock wall. The M came along to cheer us on and take pictures, and we all went out to Dairy Queen for lunch afterwards. The other scouts and leaders had fun too.

Jono dons his harness and psyches himself up for his first climb.

It's hard to climb in Crocks, but they didn't have any shoes small enough for the littlest kids. It was also harder for the kids to reach the handholds, since they were spaced out with adults in mind.

Then it was my turn. The college girl who belayed me (held my rope) was probably only half my weight, but she was tied to the ground, so I felt safe. Do you see my calf muscle? I didn't know my leg would do that. Man, I'm ripped.

About four feet above my head is a cow bell. It's at the top of the tower and you get to ring it if you make it all the way (which I did, amazingly). To come down, you hold onto the rope with your hands and push away (repel) with your feet. The repelling part is fun, but I had to force myself to let go of the handles and hold onto the rope. That was the only time I felt fearful.

Spiderman, Spiderman, does what ever a spider can...

D's first climb only went up 10 or 15 feet, but on his second attempt he made it to the top! Then he went up a third time on a more difficult area. He made it to the top again!

I'm at the bottom watching, D's at the top climbing.

Time to repel down.

Since Jono wasn't enjoying the climbing as much as D and I, he went to play with a ping-pong ball in the racquetball court.
Time for a little ping-pong.

And here is the Christmas card picture, except The M was behind, not in front, of the camera. We can Photoshop her in later!

Flag Day

Our Boy Scout troop has an agreement with the city to put out flags on holidays. So every Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and one other day I can't remember, we put out several hundred flags all over town. Some are along main streets, but most are in neighborhoods. D and I have a double route, about 75 flags in all, so he can earn $720 per year in camping credits. This helps offset most of the camping costs, including the $300 camp we plan to attend in eight days.

Last night we took all the seats out of the minivan and loaded the flags at the scout hut. This morning we got up at 6:30 and began our route, stopping first at Shipley's to get some coffee and ham-and-cheese kolaches. Kolaches are popular here, and originate from the large group of Czech immigrants from many years ago.

Some of the houses are very pretty on our route. This one, in particular, has a cliff-side view. If you look carefully, you will see the sprinkler squirting the flag pole. One minute earlier and it was squirting yours truly.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cooling Off at Grandmommy's Apartment

During the heat of the day, around 5 p.m., we took the boys to my mother-in-law's apartment for a swim. The boys enjoyed cooling off and they had a lot of fun.

Jono comes up for air.

Leaping from the side, D begins to form an obligatory cannonball.

Are you gellin'?
Do you see the muscles this boy is getting? He is only eleven!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Hydrogenerator

My hydrogenerators for the Honduras projects are nearly complete. I received these pictures today from the manufacturer, Energy Systems and Design, in Canada. It is very exciting. Their customer service has been very good, and I have high expectations for the performance of their product. This is the alternator, you can see the permanent magnets. They are the rectangular, silver colored items spaced radially around the axis.

This is the draft tube. It's a flared pipe that the water flows through. A propeller-like turbine will be mounted inside.

The unit is sitting on a workbench, being prepared for shipping.

This is my favorite picture, because it shows the turbine. I can't wait to try it out!