Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pitt is the Ultimate Champions

One of the highlights of my weekend was watching Pitt play for the USA Ultimate college championships.  They defeated Wisconsin 15-10 in the finals.  Go Pitt!

This warmed my heart for many reasons.

1. I love ultimate & I went to Pitt.  The club team started the 2nd half of my senior year (spring '98) by Kirk Edleman.  Despite already being hooked by the sport I had no part of the college team, so it's just an alum cheering for his namesake.

2.  When I did start playing ultimate ('97) there were a few highlights of that team (Mountaineers). 
A) Running deep to have a disc float down into my lap - thrown by either Henry Thorne or Evan Schmidt.  Every speedy rookie should have the joy of chasing a perfectly thrown disc to help them learn to cut.
B) For halftime at games Henry & Karen's kids would take the field.  Watching 6 y/o Alex Thorne toss wobble free flicks 40 yards to his 4 y/o brother Max.  Amazing for 2 reasons. 1) These youngsters were physically too small to throw a backhand.  They couldn't bend their arms while holding a disc and get any velocity; so they only threw flicks.  All rookies struggle making a flick happen and these kids were effortless with it.  2)  Catching.  They didn't do sloppy pancake catches to protect their face; it was an automatic grab of the rim regardless of velocity or location.

Alex & Max both played a major part in the Pitt program accomplishing this feat.  Congrats to them and their proud parents.

3.  In many ways this is the purest and hardest fought championship in sport. I would watch the championship game regardless of the teams on the field.  It is still an underground sport where the "pro" league (just started this year) may end up paying you $200/game.  FYI, that isn't enough to live on.  Every college team is hungry for the title.  They work hard, they practice hard, and they play hard.  The players work to be the last team standing when the fields are cleared of those who didn't measure up.  There is one championship and one champion.  Not computer selected, not controlled by a political structure with TV contracts; it is purely who played the game best and won.  Better than every other team out there.

There are not really scholarships for ultimate.  Pitt has one (not a full-ride) and I'm not aware of any others.  Ultimate battles for athletes with the "real" sports for players.  I'm not sure there will ever be an ultimate coach sitting in a living room trying to convince some parents that their school is better than all other schools for their precious child to go play ultimate at.  No university is paying ultimate coaches.  I've heard the "real" sport coaches deride any participation and leverage against it.  Ultimate is played by folks who love the game and play it at the highest level for the love of the game.

Go Ultimate!  Go Pitt! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

GKC on birthdays

On this day in 1874, GK Chesterton was born - I nearly let it slip without a quote:
The first fact about the celebration of a birthday is that it is a way of affirming defiantly, and even flamboyantly, that it is a good thing to be alive….But there is a second fact about Birthdays, and the birth-song of all creation, a fact which really follows on this; but which, as it seems to me, the other school of thought almost refuses to recognize. The point of that fact is simply that it is a fact. In being glad about my Birthday, I am being glad about something which I did not myself bring about.

Friday, May 25, 2012

You'll Find Your Way - AP Song

Andrew Peterson will have a new album coming out this fall.  I caught this song a few months ago (live) and I'm still excited for the album which will hold it.  This video hit the y-tube recently, so I thought I'd share it.

Jeremiah 6:16, which is referenced:
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Watch the first 0:52 (below) for a good introduction :

Then watch here for the song:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Behind the Times

Christianity is always out of fashion because it is always sane; and all fashions are mild insanities.  When Italy is mad on art the Church seems too Puritanical; when England is mad on Puritanism the Church seems too artistic.  When you quarrel with us now you class us with kingship and despotism; but when you quarrelled with us first it was because we would not accept the divine despotism of Henry VIII.  The Church always seems to be behind the times, when it is really beyond the times; it is waiting till the last fad shall have seen its last summer.  It keeps the key of a permanent virtue. -GK Chesterton (The Ball and the Cross)

Friday, May 11, 2012

What a bunch of Hippocrats

The other day I listened to "The Hippocratic Oath".  It was part of a collection of Non-fiction. 

Today I heard someone make a boldly stupid statement of "doctors performing useless amputations for profit" and it reminded me of the Oath.  There is now modified/modern versions but I find the history and ethic weight of the original the most compelling.

The original Hippocratic Oath (thanks wikipedia)

I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:

To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art; and that by my teaching, I will impart a knowledge of this art to my own sons, and to my teacher's sons, and to disciples bound by an indenture and oath according to the medical laws, and no others.

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all humanity and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my life.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

California - part 1 - The Work

I recently had a work trip to Bakersfield California.  It's a nice enough area.  In Bakersfield pocket communities are all over and they have decent highways to get everywhere.

A customer has a new plant starting up and I was there to help my company's equipment tie in and run perfectly.  Nothing like this remotely happened but it was still worth a shot.  3 levels of things went wrong from 3 different areas. 

Failure #1 was that we had an assembly problem (Assembly, read the drawing) and put two pulleys on backwards in Ellwood City.  I was burned by this for 2 months at the last startup so I managed to check and find it in 10 minutes.  The work pace is slower in CA but it managed to get done and things looked good to go.

Failure #2 was that we (Engineering, know your application) had v-belts delivering the motor power to the turning straightener.  I'm sure that isn't understood by most of my readers but that was the plan.  Well this machine needed to deliver a high amount of torque at a low running speed.  That is something v-belts aren't particularly good at.  It ran fine at our shop and through programming but at testing material being produced the belts slipped.  In the machine world this is technically known as "not having enough ass".  It took me some scrambling and working with a local supplier who is trying to get in the door but we got some parts, at a hefty price, delivered the next day.

Failure #3 was the motherload.  We implemented a customer design and it had some parts that ran very close to each other - 0.003" (which is about the thickness of a hair).  It was fine until some material was being worked and this clearance disappeared.  When moving metal hits non-moving metal it doesn't last long.  Friction, heat, and it seizes/welds itself into place.  We identified the problem in about 10 minutes, but it'll take a good 2 weeks to fix everything and get it back into running condition.

All of this took a 3 day trip and stretched it into a 6 day trip.  A long 6 day trip.  It wasn't hard work; I actually enjoyed much of it.  The people were great to meet and work with.  The town was good.  The hard part was being 6 days away from family and friends.  Being away from home.

There was nothing "freeing" in the trip.  I tried disc golf and one course could fit inside my garage and the other was like navigating the labyrinth and a creepy David Bowie-ish figure was even there.  I quit after 3 holes.  I watched some TV, ate at a few restaurants, read, and wrote a few things.  I have a new understanding for those who have to travel alone often for work.  Road life can be the pits, or at least full of potholes.

"For a plain, hard-working man the home is not the one tame place in the world of adventure.  It is the one wild place in the world of rules and set tasks.  The home is the one place where he can put the carpet on the ceiling or the slates on the floor if he wants to." GK Chesterton