Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Paula Jo

Rest in Peace Paula Jo

Paula working on her Badminton Championship during the Elbing Olypmics

Life ain't always beautiful
Sometimes it's just plain hard
Life can knock you down, it can break your heart

Life ain't always beautiful
You think you're on your way
And it's just a dead end road at the end of the day

But the struggles make you stronger
And the changes make you wise
And happiness has its own way of takin it's sweet time

No, life ain't always beautiful
Tears will fall sometimes
Life ain't always beautiful
But it's a beautiful ride

--Gary Allan "Life Ain't Always Beautiful"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

wii Friends

I've now had my wii for a few weeks and am still loving it. One of the fun things to do is work on your "mii" and create miies (that is how I'm going to pluralize that word) of family and friends. For those that have never heard of a "mii", they are basically cartoon version of people. Dem, Mike, Karen, and I have combined to give a good grouping of miies on my system. Picture below are all of our miies hanging out in "mii plaza". There is another place were there is a mii parade, which consists of miies from our friend's systems visiting our system. It's pretty cool.

miies of our family, friends, and Daria.

Some people are difficult and I don't think I've captured them very well yet, but for the most part I think looking at the miies one could guess who they are suppose to be. Below is my family in mii form.

The Elbings

And it won't be a post without the traditional Dem and Brian picture...

Dem and I...dang my eyes were closed.

I was actually taking these pictures of all the miies and right when I took my picture my eyes closed...this wasn't planned...I don't know why suddenly I can't keep my eyes open during pictures. Anywho, the final thing to include on my wii post is that Dem and I have been doing the wii fitness age thing on wii sports (not to be confused with wii fit). Basically once a day each mii can do three training activities and based on your performance it gives you an age. Last week, I think, Dem managed to get an age of 21, which is really great (her first age was like 72 or something). We snapped a photo to capture the moment...until two nights ago that was the youngest age either us had gotten. I managed to get 20 years, which I'm pretty proud of, but no picture for proof.

Dem's fitness age

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Matt Nathanson

My friend Ciara has been talking up Matt Nathanson for quite some time now. I've heard him on the radio a few times and to be honest wasn't too excited about him. It wasn't that his songs were bad, but that they seemed kind of boring. Then Friday he was playing in Ann Arbor at the Art Fair and Ciara had invited Dem and I. We went down there and I quickly came to the conclusion that it was going to be quite unpleasant since the show was going to be an hour, I had to sit on the concrete in a small space (my legs and butt weren't happy about that), it was really hot and humid at the start, and from what I had heard from him I thought it was going to be boring.

Ciara was really, really excited about the Matt Nathanson concert.

Well I have to say that he is really, really good live. The show was extremely entertaining. Matt had the entire crowd participating in the performance, he was really quite funny, the songs were really good, and he sang the songs with a lot of passion and energy. Dem and I were both pretty impressed by the performance and really glad we went...Ciara you are correct that one should see Matt Nathanson live. Check him out in the video below of him getting some crowd participation going for covering Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl".

Dem and I enjoying the concert.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Creepy Billboard on US-23

Also, on our drive home Dem and I managed to remember to take a picture of this billboard on US-23 just north of Ann Arbor near Fenton that has been creeping us out. Its been up for quite awhile now and there is nothing on it besides this faceless/alien looking thing. When we first saw it we assumed it was part of some big ad campaign, but we haven't seen anything else related to it since...it's just weird. IF ANYONE KNOWS WHAT IT IS PLEASE LET US NOW.

Creepy sign on US-23 North of Ann Arbor

Elbingfest 2008 Recap

This past weekend I had the pleasure of going up north for my family reunion. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that everyone that was there had a really good time, and we are all looking forward to the next chance we get to spent time together. Thanks to Bob and Laurie for letting us use their cottage and doing a great job of organizing everything. For those that were and weren’t there I’ll give an overview from my perspective of the reunion.

Dem and I left in the afternoon and made really good time getting up there (besides the 30 minutes it took to get 10 miles from Ann Arbor. When we arrived up there we had dinner (fajitas and ham sandwiches) and then just relaxed out by the lake. Dem and I watched the sunset from the end of their dock and took the picture below.

Sunset over Lake Charlevoix

Nothing too eventful happened that first night…just chatting and catching up with various family members. We then went back to our cabin for the night and I decided to sleep on the pull out coach in the living room. Lets just say that there were some problems with that and the big one being that the temperature dropped to around 50 degrees and I had no blankets. I did however have a fire and try to warm myself during the night by slowly rotating in front of it.

My heat source for the first night

On Saturday we went back to the lake and had lunch (brats and burgers) before starting the Elbing Olympic Games. These were really fun and I think everyone enjoyed themselves, but it was really exhausting. Games included badminton, horseshoes, washer toss, bags (a.k.a. corn hole), bocce ball, croquet, riding jet skis, riding the boat, petting or playing fetch with the dog, and balloon toss. There was a point system setup, but was never really used (Vicky was named the winner for winning everything). However, the participation by everyone and their enthusiasm was what made the Olympic Games just so much fun. Partners were selected at random. Dem and I never actual ended up being partners the entire day, but Dem said she had fun and felt really welcome the entire day (thanks family). The balloon toss was delayed until after dark, but in the spirit of the Games we held it even in the dark. We even upped the difficult level by trying to toss two balloons simultaneously. Most of the balloons weren't actually used for the balloon toss, but to randomly hit family members when they weren't looking throughout the day. I got my cousin Jess really good right in the face…though she did get me back later in the evening.

Elbing Olympic Games: (clockwise from top left) badminton, bocce ball, balloon toss (sort of), washer toss, and bags.

As the Games were coming to an end we had a surprise birthday party for my 2nd cousin (I think that’s right) Sue.

Sue’s 60th Birthday Cake

Then after dinner (spaghetti and salad) we had the awards banquet for Olympic Games. My cousins Dustin and Ryan did a really good job of organizing the Games and coming up with awards for everyone that competed. I won the "most romantic" award for my multiple walks with Dem to the end of the dock and my constant hand holding…I got it without them even knowing about the Gerber Daisies I got Dem when I picked her up to go to the reunion.

Gerber Daises I got Dem

Dem got “my long game is better than my fianc├ęs/when is the date” award for her skills on the bocce ball court (is it a court?). Dem overall did really well in the Games and won the majority of games she played…she’ll say that it was all her partners but I’m not believing it.

Also one of the fun moments of the evening was everyone attempting to get a splinter out of my toe. I think over a half a dozen people tried to get it out at the lake and couldn’t. We decided at that point the best idea was to clean it out and let the body get it out on its own. There was no rubbing alcohol there but I said there was plenty of alcohol and we decided to soak my foot in whiskey to clean it out. (This is a better idea then pepper in a cut at least).

Liquor selection for the reunion/disinfecting my toe.

Soaking my foot in whiskey

We then went back to our cabin and my brother-in-law Tom managed to get the splinter out of my toe…thanks Tom you came through for me this weekend.

We got up and went to a brunch to finish the reunion. Basically it was just everyone getting together one last time and saying goodbyes. We did have a few nice things to end the reunion. There was the passing off of the banner from Laurie and Bob (who had the banner made) to the Wisconsin Elbings for the next reunion, a family picture with our centennial farm sign, and Laurie and Bob giving everyone bags with our names on them.

The handing off of the new Elbing Family Reunion banner

Me, my uncle Gerald, and my dad sporting our “man bags”

Then my parents, Rey and Tom, and Dem and I drove to Grayling where we met up with Dem’s parents and had lunch (I had a Philly steak sandwich…others had something else). This was the first time that Dem and my parents met each other. Dem and I thought it went pretty well, though I think all of us from the reunion were so tired that we were quieter then normal.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Goodbye Tiger Stadium

Tiger Stadium (pictured taken in April by Dem)

The stadium is currently being demolished. While it maybe necessary it's still sad to see the old stadium go. Not so much even because of the sports history that it holds, but because of personal memories. For me it was the place me and my dad (plus other family members and friends sometimes) went once a year to see a Tiger's game. My memories are filled with peanuts, my first sight of a prostitute, learning why you should stick with the crowd after games, walking up those famous ramps, getting on the news for heckling the team (I feel a little bad since I was harassing the Tigers), getting tons of free food from fast food places late at night (it would be late and they would just want to get rid of food), driving home really late at night, wishing that I could catch a baseball, and watching the game. Thanks dad for taking me.

Tiger Stadium seats seen threw the demolished exterior of the stadium.
(RASHAUN RUCKER / Detroit Free Press)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Holiday Weekend

Unlike last year when I went up to Traverse City, this time Dem and I didn't do an too much stuff. It was much more of a relaxing weekend rather then an experience Traverse City weekend, which was really nice actually. However, it doesn't make for the best blog entry, but fortunately Dem and I are really fun and thus everything we do is actually exciting.

We took off from Ann Arbor Thursday evening and it took quite a bit of time to get up there...turns out a lot of people wanted to go north at that same time. Below is a picture Dem took of the Zilwaukee Bridge, which if you look close you notice that besides a ton of traffic we are all on the wrong side of the highway...weird.

Zilwaukee Bridge with cars on the wrong side of the highway.

We managed to get to the cottage that we were staying at for a night. Friends of Dem's parents lent the cottage to them for a night. It was on Long Lake with a nice view...see below.

Dem sitting on the deck overlooking Long Lake.

I also have to include the traditional Dem/Brian self picture...though this time Dem took the picture. Dem's brother was actually sitting right there when we took this, but why break the traditional of taking our own picture.

Dem and I

Friday evening we went back to Dem's parent's house and spent the majority of the weekend there. We filled most of the time with games (scrabble, crossword puzzles, wii, basketball, running, Super Mario Brothers 3, etc). We also got to see some fireworks on Long Lake Saturday and light some of our own off Friday. It was also nice to spent some time playing (or maybe watching him eat, try to eat something, or just lay there) with Dem's dog, Cal (pictured below).


We were also able to do a little bit of work on Saturday. I had to remake some figures for my JFM paper and Dem wanted to pick lavender, which she picked a ton.

A small sample of the lavender that is in Dem's parent's backyard.

Then Sunday we spent the morning/afternoon laying around, playing wii, and getting another run in. After that we started making the track back to Ann Arbor at about 5pm, which we didn't actual get home until some where around 11pm (if memory serves me correctly). Highlights from the trip home include stopping at Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, and Burger King (all before getting to I-75), the hood of my car some how coming loose (I noticed before anything bad happened), sitting in traffic, and chatting with Dem (plus both of our parents for a bit).


Dem and I saw Wall-E and recommend it to anyone, as is apparent from Dem's face going into the movie (and she wasn't disappointed).

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Red Wings Report

Next year Hossa doesn't want to end up like this.
Photo by Jim McIsaac /Getty Images

If you haven't heard, the Wings signed Marian Hossa (yeah one of the Penguins top players) to a one year contract. Just thinking about having Brad Stuart, Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall and Brian Rafalski as our top 4 defensivemen coupled with four guys that are amazing at offense and defense (Hossa, Zetterberg, Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk) makes me so excited for next year. Sometimes things don't go the way you would expect them to, but I'm definitely liking our shot at a repeat next year.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

HIPLATE Experience - Phase 2

My second HIPLATE experiment took place between November 2005 and February 2006. It wasn't suppose to be that long of a test, but there was an accident that put a big delay in testing. For this test I don't have any pictures of us preparing the model so I'll start with a picture of the model mounted in the tunnel.
HIPLATE mounted in the tunnel (it makes up the top surface in the picture) for my second test in Memphis.

I've pointed out the "very hot lights" because there is a good story about those. I think it actually occurred during my first time in Memphis, but will tell it now anyway. Basically I was working on installing some stuff in the HIPLATE while it was mounted in the tunnel. I kept smelling smoke so I stuck my head out of the test section and asked if anything was burning. However when it didn't smell like smoke outside I realized it had to be in the tunnel...I looked down at my leg to find out it was on fire! I attempted to put it out for awhile until Eric said "Brian we are in a water tunnel...go down to where there is water and put your leg in it." Good advice...after that I also burned my shoe.

In the picture above I also labeled the two "stupid struts" because they were the bane of my existence during this test. Basically we spent a lot of time designing and building these things (Eric did most of the work), only to have then screw up the flow and thus screw up our measurements. Below is a nice picture of one of them...they are pretty, but useless. the picture below that I believe is from me working on these struts...Bondoing, grinding, sanding, etc in a 80+ degree, 99% humidity dark tunnel.

The strut we mounted on the model and some laser light coming out of the model for a different measurement.

A good picture (not sure who took this one) of me working in the tunnel...amazing how dark it can look in there.

So after about a month of work getting everything setup we were finally ready to start collecting data. Then one day Eric and I were up by the test section and the entire facility lost power...pitch dark. Eric and I waited for a few minutes, but no one came to find us. So I decided I would go find where everyone was and see what happened. I went outside to find that one of the technician's, Tony, had been electrocuted. I've heard various stories since then about what exactly happened, but either way Tony survived though in pretty bad shape. He says he remembers it and that he wasn't electrocuted but the thing just exploded in his face...whatever Tony says is what I'm going to believe. He was even back to work within like a month, though he had to wear gloves since his hands were kind of blown to pieces in the accident.

After a month delay because of the investigation into what happened, Eric and I were ready to run our experiment. That allowed me to get to work on my electrical impedance measurements, which were the first instrumentation I ever designed, built, and used. Picture below is me at my little work station I built for my measurement. While the results turned out really well, I actually got half way through the experiment and figured out I screwed something up and had to redo everything...oops. I thought I was going to be fired or Eric was going to kill me, but actually everyone was really understanding.

Me (right) with my custom made instrumentation (left).

We then got to work going through our test matrix (plus doing a little extra that we weren't suppose to do, which turned out to be the most interesting find from all the HIPLATE experiments). Below are pictures from the two sides of the tunnel. I was always on the electrical impedance measurements (and communication with the tunnel control room), Eric was on the bubble cameras (and project manager), random person (in the picture its Keary) on the shear stress sensors, and quite often Marc was down there advising.

Typical team during testing; (left to right) Marc (advising/helping), Keary (shear stress), me (electrodes), and Eric (bubble camera/project manager).

Once the test was over we came back to Ann Arbor and began processing data and preparing for the next HIPLATE experiment, which I would be the project manager for...yikes!

Me back at my office in Ann Arbor processing my electrode data and preparing for the next experiment.