Chopping Wood

Last winter we ran out of wood.  

This was the first winter with the Lodge house, so we weren’t sure how much wood to store up.  We head a little less than a cord, which I thought would be plenty.  

Around March we totally ran out and had to make some emergency calls around to get some wood delivered.  The problem is that we have a small wood stove and need the wood cut at 14″, which apparently is not a normal length. 

So this year, I set a goal of building up my wood pile large enough to last throughout the entire season.  I’ve been cutting trees down, cutting them to length, splitting, and stacking.  We are usually pretty busy, so I’ve been trying to sneak this project in an hour here or there once or twice a week.   

It’s now late September and I’ve built up a pretty decent pile.  Unfortunately I don’t think I’m there yet.  Also, the wood needs to season.  By ‘season’ I figure it needs to sit out for a single season, but I’m still not sure.  

Overall, I’ve found it incredible satisfying to see the lifecycle of chopping down the tree, stacking it, and now starting to burn it.  It’s hard work, but very enjoyable.

Oregon Family Vacation 2018

We just got back from spending 10 days in Oregon and California.  Overall it was a great trip.  We got to spend a lot of time together before the kids start school for the year.  Below are some pics from the trip.

Part 0 – Arrival

The first day of the trip, Friday, was spent traveling from Boston to our Airbnb in Central Point, Oregon.  On the descent into Portland, we got to see Mt. St. Helens, Mr. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood.  Eli was so excited to see these huge peaks.

After the cross country flight, we stopped at a brewery in Portland, before the long drive (5 hours) across the state.   Oregon is filled with tons of breweries, and they all seem to cater to families.  After filling up, we drove down to Central Point, where we stayed for 3 nights.

Part 1 – Crater Lake, OR

The kids loved the Airbnb.  It had a nice in ground pool, game room with darts and ping pong, and a movie room with a big screen tv.  Tommy got his own bedroom, and the other two boys slept in another room.  The house was in a suburb of Medford, which is not too far from Ashland.  We were about a 2 hour drive from Crater Lake.  Unfortunately I (Michele won’t let me forget it) waited too long to book the lodge at the lake, and there are no other options within an hour of the park.  I thought it would be good to be in civilization and have to put in the extra drive.

On Saturday, we did a short hike to see some waterfalls and the Rogue River up close.  The trail was called the Mill Creek Falls trail in Prospect, OR.  We were struck by the huge Cedar trees everywhere.  After the hike we went back to the house and hung out in the pool for the afternoon.  We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant right down the road.  

On Sunday, we spent the day at Crater Lake, OR.  We got there early because we wanted to reserve a spot on the boat that takes you to Wizard Island.  We took a steep 1.1 mile hike down to the base of the lake.  Tommy was freaked out by some overly friendly chipmunks who were crawling all over us.  We took the boat ride out to the island.  Then we hiked up to the top of Wizard Island, which is a volcano instead of another volcano.  The trail, 2.1 miles each way, was filled with switchbacks.  There were more friendly chipmunks at the top, which I’m guessing somehow hitched a ride on the boat at some point.  After hiking down we took the boat back and then made the steep trek back to the top.  After hiking we completed the drive around the rim and headed back to the house.  

On Monday, Michele took Eli and Aaron up to hike Mt. Scott, which is 8934′.  We figured this was a little too tough for Tommy (who’s 5), so I stayed back with him.  Tommy and went to the local arcade and did Go Kart’s, bumper boats, and played games.  

After they got back from the hike, we hung out in the pool and went to a local pizza place.  

Part 2 – Redwoods, CA

On Tuesday, we headed to Crescent City, CA, which is right next to the Redwood national forest.  Along the way, we stopped at the Oregon Caves national monument.  This place had a 1.5 hr guided tour through some natural caves.  I totally wussed out at the entrance (I don’t like closed spaces) and waited while everyone else went on the tour.  

On Wednesday, we played by the ocean in the morning and then headed to the Redwoods to hike the Boy Scout Tree Trail.  This trail was 5.3 miles round trip, and was supposed to offer the most stunning views of the redwoods.  Boy this trail did not disappoint.  The trees were just massive.  It’s really hard to describe their size and pictures do it no justice.  After the hike we went out to the SeaQuake brewery, which everyone liked.  

Part 3 – Newport, OR

On Thursday, we drove on the coast to Newport.  Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy, so we didn’t get to see many sites.  We did make a couple stops though and the kids got to play in the ocean.  

On Friday AM, we went to the Newport Acquarium.  In the afternoon we hung out at the pool and beach.  At night we went to the Wedding rehearsal dinner and got to see some family.  

On Saturday, we did more beach and pool in the morning.  In the afternoon we went to Michele’s cousins wedding, which was right on the coast.  The wedding was a great way to wrap up this trip.  

On Sunday, we headed back to Portland and caught a flight back to Boston. 

A great ski season, and Tuckerman’s

Overall we had an amazing ski season.  The lodge is getting tons of use, with the kids racking up almost 50 days of skiing this year!

To top it off, Eli (9) and I skied tuckerman’s ravine last week.  There is a full trip report over on the lodge blog at:

http://weatherwaxlodge.com/tuckermans-ravine-2018/

Overall it was an awesome trip that I am sure we will both remember for a long time.

Transitions

After 2.5 years at my current company, ClearMotion, I have decided to move on.  I will be starting a new job as Director of Software at Endeavor Robotics on Nov 27, 2017.

Endeavor Robotics is a spin off of the iRobot defense business unit.  They have a large portfolio of existing products on the market as well as some pretty impressive developments in the pipeline.

Overall, it’s always a tough decision when making career moves.  These companies are where you spend most of my waking hours.  After carefully weighing the pro’s+con’s, Endeavor seems like the right move to make.  I’m very excited about this new chapter in my career and looking forward to joining the team!

 

Pittsburgh, and first ride in a self driving car!

This week I visited Pittsburgh, PA to attend the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) career fair.  This was my 3rd or 4th time to this career fair.  These fairs are a great way to find amazing interns and fresh grads.  I’ve had great luck w/ CMU students, which is why I keep coming back!

I went with a few coworkers and we stayed in an Airbnb that had a pretty awesome view overlooking the city.

The buildings in Pittsburgh are very strange.  Everything looks rundown from the outside, and the siding on many houses is a strange mishmash of clapboard, brick, tile, and other materials.  Also, the houses are extremely close together:

We attended the fair all day Monday and Tuesday, which was pretty exhausting.  There was a line of students behind everyone in the booth, all day long.  The basic system is to meet as many students as possible at the fair and then pick the top ones to interview on campus on Wednesday.

We met w/ probably hundreds of kids and ended up interviewing around 20-30 on Wednesday.  From there we are planning on making offers to about 5-10 of the top ones.

We met some great candidates and I’d say overall the trip was a success!

At the end of the day on Wednesday we were heading out and grabbed an Uber.  Uber has been testing self driving cars in Pittsburgh for about a year now, and recently they have opened them up to anyone.  In the app you can’t select a self driving one, you just have to get lucky.

The trip started by our vehicle flying past us, so far not so good.  We grabbed a pic before the trip:

Inside the vehicle there are two displays, one in the front and one in the back.  There were two drivers in front, there to help out if the car got into a jam and couldn’t drive on its own.

In the back seat there was a display that showed a live shot of the lidar data and object recognition.

Currently the pickup and drop off process is done by the human driver.  Once they get going they put it into autonomous mode.

Overall the self driving mode was very cautious, probably too cautious, which resulted in a jerky ride.  If there was any pedestrian or bicycle traffic nearby it was hit the brakes pretty hard.

There were several intersections where the car went out of self driving mode.  I’d say less than half of our 20 min drive was autonomous.  My guess is they are several years away from being completely driverless, but it is inevitable that the tech challenges will be overcome.

Definitely a highlight and great way to end the trip.  Can’t wait to see these things all over.

 

 

Cape Canaveral, Florida Trip 2017

This week the whole family went down to Cape Canaveral, Florida to watch Michele’s rocket launch up into space.  Lots more info on the satellite that she worked on can be found here.

Michele headed down on Tuesday with all 3 boys.  I headed down on Thursday night so I could get some more days of work in.  Everyone headed back on Monday.  In addition, Michele’s dad and wife spent the weekend with us.  Less than a year ago they moved down to Florida, so it was good for everyone to catch up!

We spent Friday hanging out at the hotel pool.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn at Cape Canaveral.  The hotel had awesome amenities (arcade, indoor playground, pools, lazy river, water slide, etc.), but the room kinda sucked.  All five of us aren’t used to being crammed into a couple hundred square feet for a week!

Here’s some pics of the hotel pools:

After dinner, we then went to a gathering of people that worked on the mission.  They had presentations from various military personnel.  Eli was fascinated by these presentations.  The event was held in this very cool building that looked like a wave and was overlooking the launchpad.

The original launch time was scheduled for 11pm.  After the 9pm presentations we found out that the weather wasn’t cooperating and the launch was delayed until 2am!  This was definitely a concern w/ the 3 boys.  We ended up going back to the hotel room and hanging out until about 1:30am.

We then headed out to the beach and watched the rocket launch off from a pier.  It was so cool!  Overall I was super impressed by how well behaved the kids were!

On Saturday we slept in late.  We then spent more time at the pool.  In the evening Michele and I got to spend some alone time and go hang out with some of her coworkers, then went out to dinner.

On Sunday, we pretty much spent the entire day at Kennedy Space Center.  This place is like Disney for geeks.  We got to see an entire Saturn V rocket, visit launch pads, touch moon rocks, see the space shuttle Atlantis, meet an Astronaut, and a bunch of other cool stuff.

Some pics from the space museum:

On Monday we all headed back home!  Overall it was a great family trip.

 

3D Printer

For Eli’s birthday (he turned 9!) we got him a 3D Printer.  We settled on the MonoPrice (MP) Mini 3D Printer V2.  It seemed to be the lowest cost entrant into the 3D printing world that also had good reviews.

Overall setup has been kinda a pain.  I had to download Cura and figure out the correct settings for the printer.  There’s no documentation, so I had to google it.  There’s actually a nice Reddit page for the printer that has been super helpful.  It took me several days to get things set up.

Printing time is a lot slower than I was expecting.  It’s typically 3-4 hours for a small figure.  Also, I’ve had the printer stop half way through for no apparent reason.  In general the firmware on the unit is a little buggy.

On the positive side, the quality of the printed items is awesome for the price.  This is going to be a great way for Eli to explore his engineering side.  Also, the Thingiverse site is great.

Overall this printer is definitely not ‘kid ready’.  Even once it’s setup, you have to download CAD from Thingiverse (or a similar site).  Import the CAD model into Cura, adjust it as necessary, apply the printer settings, save it to a file, put it on an SD card, start up the printer, preheat it, then start printing.

If someone came out with a fully integrated ‘itunes store’ where you could just click a print button it would be a huge step forward.  Maybe the printer can be integrated as a printer in chrome and you can print directly from the thingiverse site?

For now I’m having Eli just pick items out on Thingiverse and I’m taking care of the rest of it.