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Monthly ArchiveFebruary 2008

Life &Work by Spencer on February 21, 2008

It’s Good to Be Home

Wow! I’ve traveled more in February than I ever have in the past. Three trips in three weeks (the first two already documented below). This last and final trip was to Elekta’s Atlanta headquarters for a Project Manager’s meeting. The meetings went well and were worth the time in general. Whether we needed to have them during the middle of 4th quarter (by far our busiest team) but now I am back in the office for the foreseeable future and ready to hit the ground running.

One very good thing is during my time in Atlanta, I was able to have some Chick-Fil-A! It was as good as always and I would have really been upset to go to Atlanta and not have some Chick-Fil-A.

I’m finding that travel really takes all of your energy in general. All of the trips have been short (1, 2, and 3 days) which makes for a lot of flying time in a short period and I’m worn out. Getting sick in the middle didn’t help either and I felt hopeless while away and having the rest of the family sick as well. We’re all getting better so it looks like we’ve turned the corner.

On a different front, I will soon be announcing the launch of the Stanton family web site. I’ve found a good content management system to use and have started to build some pages. I hope to officially debut it during the first week of March.

Take care everyone and have a great weekend!

Life &Work by Spencer on February 13, 2008

To Houston and Back

A semi-live blogging event.

Here was how yesterday was supposed to go:

  • 4:00 AM PST – Get up and head to the airport.
  • 6:40 AM PST – Fly to Houston and arrive around 11:35 AM CST.
  • 1:00 PM CST – Attend Kick Off Meeting with a client.
  • 3:00 PM CST – Conclude meeting and head back to George H. W. Bush Intercontinental Airport (that has to be the longest name for an airport around) .
  • 6:30 PM CST – Fly back home to Vegas.
  • 7:30 PM PST- Arrive in Vegas and go home.

This would have made for a quite long day with about 10 hours of travel for a 2 hour meeting. If only it could have happened that way.

Now for the real story:

  • Throughout the night – Wife and baby were sick with colds and fever. We all had rough nights sleeping.
  • 4:20 AM PST – Got up and went to the airport.
  • 6:40 AM PST – Fly to Houston… so far so good.
  • 11:00 AM CST – Announcement overhead stating that there are storms in Houston and we have been requested to hold over San Antonio for about 30 minutes. No big deal at this point. I’ll still have time to meet my colleague and get to the meeting.
  • 12:00 PM CST – Announcement overhead stating that we have been requested to hold for an additional 30 minutes. This makes things really tight but ok. Ah, but the message wasn’t over. After a brief pause, the pilot announced that we don’t have the fuel to stay up for another delay and we are going to land in Austin. Day ruined.
  • 12:30 PM CST – Land in Austin. Call work colleague and tell him I won’t make the meeting. He had already seen the re-route and was ready to go by himself. While we are waiting on the tarmac to get refueled, I was able to call home and found out my wife was going to take our son to the doctor for his cold. I really hoped all was well and couldn’t stop thinking about them. If I had known that this would have happened, I could have stayed home and taken care of them rather than fly half way across the country and back (dressed up nicely at that).
  • 2:00 PM CST – Get in line to take off to Houston. Decided to start writing this out on paper to pass the time. I’ve had nothing to eat or drink today, not even water.
  • 2:10 PM CST – Announcement that we will be able to take off at 2:40. Not holding my breath.
  • 2:53 PM CST- We have liftoff! Should be 31 minutes to Houston.
  • 3:35 PM CST – Touchdown! At this point, at least I’ve had one small glass of ice water. My plan was to eat at the airport and then try to find my way back home.
  • 4:00 PM CST – I look on the flight board and see a 4:10 flight back to Vegas. I don’t think I can make it in time but I also don’t see any other Vegas flights on the board (including my scheduled flight) so I skip food and try to make this flight. SUCCESS! I’m on my way back home, even if without food.
  • 4:35 PM CST – I’m in the air and heading home. I am so hungry I could eat a horse. Not sure exactly when I’ll get home but I’m glad this long ordeal is almost over. I watch Gladiator to pass the time.

I made it home around 6:00 PM with Burger King in hand. Such a long day with no real purpose. I’m glad it’s over.

NOTE: My apologies for the inconsistency regarding time (sometimes using present tense sometimes past tense). I knew I was switching back and forth but don’t want to worry about fixing it. 🙂

Sports by Spencer on February 11, 2008

Purdue Leads the Big Ten!

Purdue Logo

For the first time in a long time, and at least since I’ve been there, Purdue is in sole possesion of first place in the Big Ten for men’s basketball.  This has been a long time coming and is great to see.  The team is made up of primarily young players (four freshman regularly start for the team) so I didn’t expect much from this season except hopefully building to the next two years.

All expectations have been well exceeded by this group of kids.  They play hard, and most importantly play together.  No one person is the star or tries to take the glory.  Each night a different two or three players tend to step up to give Purdue the win.  They are having a nice 9 game winning streak and just came off a terrific win at Wisconsin, a place they hadn’t won at since 1996.

Hopefully Purdue can keep this up going into the conference tournament and NCAA tournament as well.  This just makes me more excited for March coming up!

Work by Spencer on February 7, 2008

Linear Accelerator Installation: Day 2 – Unloading/Starting

Today’s installment of my trip to North Iowa will be much shorter as today wasn’t nearly as exciting. We got to watch two of our colleagues start to put together the machine. We all felt as if we were in the way most of the time as the vault is quite small. I don’t even have anything interesting to show a picture of.

To top it off, I seem to be coming down with a bit of a cold. Great to get when I’m about to fly home. 🙁 It’s not a bad cold, but flying when feeling less than 100% is a horrible experience. As soon as I get home, Zicam to the rescue!

News Opinion by Spencer on February 7, 2008

Poor Day for GOP

Romney Quitting Race

Mitt Romney has decided to drop out of the race and concede to John McCain.  This is a very sad day for me as a Romney supporter, but even more so as a conservative.  It is now guaranteed that we will have a liberal in the White House come next January.  Right now McCain is claiming that he would push a conservative agenda.  I can’t believe that given his record of late opposing most, if not all, any conservative positions on legislation.  He was against the tax cuts.  He wrote the very illegal campaign finance reform bill (breaks freedom of speech in the ways candidates can and cannot respond to attacks).  He wrote the bill for immigration reform which would have given amnesty to millions of people who shouldn’t be in the country now.

So now what to do?  I can’t vote for anyone at this point.  I almost would rather a DemocRAT in office so Republicans can oppose all non-conservative legislation.  If McCain gets elected, the rank and file Republicans would have their hands tied in opposing the President (much like they do now with many of Bush’s proposals).  I don’t know if I could ever actually pull the lever for a Dem, but I really can’t say I approve much of McCain at all.  A lot can happen between now and November, of course, and I can only hope that it won’t be nearly as bad as I currently fear.

Work by Spencer on February 6, 2008

Linear Accelerator Installation: Day 1 – The Push-In

My company has required all of the project managers to visit a site during the first three days of a new linear accelerator push-in. Today was the first day for me and some of my co-workers. Today’s main job is for the riggers to bring in parts of the machine and load them into the treatment delivery room.

The process takes a full day and starts with bringing in the base. This piece is bolted into the ground. After that, a large drum is put in place. This is the main component that holds all of the electronics as well as the gantry used to deliver radiation to a patient:

Base and Drum

After that, a bunch of 30 pound plates are added in the back of the drum at the top. This will counterbalance the beam arm where electrons will be accelerated and radiation will come out:

Beam Arm

This beam arm is about 12 feet long so moving around corners through the hospital can be quite challenging.

I’ve seen equipment used to move heavy items like I’ve never seen before. They use a large A-Frame with two pulley systems to lift pieces of the machine out of crates and into place. It was pretty cool to watch, even though most of the day I felt like we were all in the way of the workers trying to get their job done. The amount of work and effort it takes to bring in the larger pieces of the accelerator is daunting. The company that we contract to do these has got their stuff together and they know what to do to get the job done right. To think that in about 10 weeks, this empty room will deliver radiation treatment to a patient is pretty amazing and it helps me remember that what I do has a real impact to fighting cancer.

We’re all pretty tired from standing today but not nearly as tired as the riggers, I’m sure. Tomorrow is the first day of putting on the smaller parts of the machine and we may actually get to help where possible. I’ll write a full report.

Take care and have a great day, all!

Sports by Spencer on February 4, 2008

(Not So) Super Bowl XLII

So, last night was the Super Bowl… la di da. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pay attention as much as I would have liked as Connor is really keeping us on our toes now with all of his crawling and pulling himself up on things. Even more unfortunate is that I don’t seem to have missed anything. From what I saw, outside of the 4th quarter the game was boring and none of the commercials were all that great.

First, the game. I was routing for the Patriots; partly because I do like them, but mostly because I think the 1972 Dolphins are insufferable and I’m sick of hearing how they are the only perfect team and all of their pomp and circumstance around that. I hope the Giants enjoy their cases of champagne that the Fish will send them. I am, however, happy for Eli Manning. I used to not think much of him as he seemed in his past to not work very hard. This year, it was evident that he worked much harder on becoming a good quarterback and while he still has room for improvement, I was impressed with him the 2nd half of the season. That pass in the fourth quarter to put them ahead for good after a scramble was Elway-esque and made me happy for him.

Now the commercials were just as pedestrian as the game itself. I only have a few to judge from but in my opinion the first Diet Pepsi Max commercial was the best of the game. Taking it’s play from a classic 90’s SNL running skit (Night at the Roxbury) was pretty clever and the cameo by Chris Kattan at the end really added to the whole thing. Other than that, nothing really grabbed my attention enough away from everything else going on.

Overall, I would rate the Super Bowl experience this year a D+. Nothing worse than a D+. How do you dress it up? “It wasn’t a D, it was a D+!” If there are any commercials that you liked that I should check out, please let me know. I know you can see all of the commercials on MySpace and I may check them out with recommendations.