Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day of the Year



Today was a great day to carry the Christmas tree to the chipper, take down all the outside lights and wreaths and pack away all of the Christmas decorations for next year. Then there was the task of vacuuming up all of the fallen needles from carrying the tree out of the house. Several other chores popped in my mind as I worked. And I did not mind working outside because after weeks of 20 degree weather, it hit 61F.



But at the same time, the 61F weather made me wanna go for a motorcycle ride. I really did not care where or for how long, just to get a little time in on such a beautiful day. So, I took a break for lunch, fired up Rosie and set course for Dawsonville via two lane twisty blacktop. Mind you it was just a 15 mile trip to Burger King, but it was therapy to my soul after enduring cold winter weather with wind for the last several weeks. I donned the half helmet intentionally so I could enjoy the smells of chicken houses, cow pastures, pig pens, and all the other things that nature provided.



The burger was good, the ride was better, and when I got back to the house to knock out a few more errands, I was in an even better mood that when I awoke to a 60 degree day in the middle of winter.

In years gone by, I would have wanted to plow through the chores in my mind and try to get as much work done while the sun was up without considering any time to enjoy life. But one thing I have learned through the lives of others in the last few years, is to make time in my schedule however hectic it is, for a few minutes of enjoying life. That has a lot to do with why I commute on the bike as much as I do.

I managed to get everything accomplished that I wanted to do today and had time for an enjoyable time on the North Georgia two lane roads. And, I am really glad I made the time.

Ride Safe!

Happy New Year!

-Peace

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Want to get my Motorcycle License

First day back at work after the Christmas Holiday. Probably one-third of our staff was on hand, the rest were using vacation time to lengthen their holiday. So there was a little less hussle and a little more time for conversation. One conversation with a co-worker started something like this, "I want to get my motorcycle license, so I guess I need to buy a motorcycle first."

It dawned on me that I have been in a conversation that started like this several different times over the last few years. I am somewhat surprised every time I hear this thought and am always quick to alter the thinking slightly.

"No, I would recommend getting your license first", is my typical response. This usually is met with wide eyes. I then explain that I would recommend doing what I did. Attend a Riders Edge course or a MSF RiderCourse. Many rider training courses provide the motorcycles for the students. So, first time riders can learn to ride without a significant investment. The cost of the course runs around $275 and the student is responsible for supplying their own helmet.





Why do I suggest taking the rider's course before buying a motorcycle? If you buy a motorcycle before you have a license, you are going to ride it. Without sound instruction, chances are, you are going to pickup some bad habits, and even more likely, you are going to ride it on public streets and roadways (in violation of the law). And in the chance that you wreck it while riding without a license, most insurance providers will not pay a cent for damage caused by an unlicensed rider.

So why not get that initial exposure to a street bike in a controlled environment with someone coaching you through the right and safe way to ride while at the same time getting prepared for the written and riding exam. At the end of the course, you get to sit for the written exam (which you have been properly prepared for) and then you get to take the riding exam (which you have been practising for).

The course I took was painless, two week nights, a Saturday, and a Sunday and you were done. Advanced courses are available to fine-tune your riding skills and are always a good idea.

Just my two cents, but it sure seems like the best approach to me.

-Peace

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas



About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

Luke 2 (The Message)

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Word From my Nerd Side

For those of you own, utilize, depend on, or are responsible for an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), let me strongly recommend that you either have a vendor check the internal batteries at least once a year.

Why ,you ask? Well despite looking at the indicator lights on the outside of the UPS and seeing that it is properly charging, there is a lot about batteries that you cannot easily detect without visually inspecting the batteries. Most, if not all, UPS systems have the batteries mounted inside a metal housing preventing a casual glance.

Ever paid much attention to a car battery? UPS batteries have a lot in common with automotive batteries in that after many charge cycles, they will begin to fail. One of the external signs you can detect just by looking is that the plastic casing of the battery swells and becomes deformed.



Sorry the picture is not my best, but yes, that battery has a big lump on the top side. And yes, that is one of several the service technician found while performing a visual inspection of the internal batteries in a moderate sized UPS system. A battery that has deformed like that has become unstable and undependable. A more dramatic failure is on the way.

Another item of concern that only a visual inspection will provide is corroded terminals.


Yes, that is one of about 16 batteries inside one external battery cabinet for a UPS system, and that is what the service technician found when he opened the cabinet to visually inspect the batteries. The corrosion was so severe that the battery post had separated from the battery itself but was still bolted tightly to the battery cable.

How much power would that provide in the event utility power was lost and your computer room or dispatch center were to flip over to the UPS system for power?

Leaking battery acid is another item that can be found during a visual inspection of internal batteries. Most UPS systems have a drip tray under the battery racks to prevent battery acid from reaching the floor of an equipment room or computer room, so you will not see it if the cover stays in place.

UPS battery maintenance has to be one of the most overlooked items in the technology arena. For some reason a lot of people have a mistaken notion that they can purchase the UPS, have it installed, and forget about it. We all know that does not work with car batteries. They usually die somewhere between 3 and 5 years. Well, guess what? Yup, UPS batteries have a 3 to 5 yr expected life span as well.

Over the years, I have observed some of the pitfalls of overlooking UPS battery maintenance. A few years ago, I was working in a work room just outside a computer center in a large company's IT department and noticed a strong "rotten egg" smell. I followed the smell to its source, the UPS system. I ran my hand along the metal enclosure and half way along the side found a very warm spot. I called the situation to the attention of the computer room operations staff. They called the UPS service provider who quickly dispatched a technician. When the technician opened the enclosure, he found a battery that had swollen, then cracked its plastic housing and was boiling battery acid across the battery rack where it was located.

I have also heard about a 30-story building that was evacuated because of a very bad "rotten egg" smell on all floors. Another UPS system with some swollen and leaking batteries was really close to an HVAC system's return. The "rotten egg" smell was sucked into the HVAC and pumped to every floor of the building. The Fire Department and Emergency Services were in full force when the UPS technician opened the enclosure to see what he had to clean up.

So, avoid the potential hazards that can result from leaking batteries and avoid the hazard of your UPS system not being ready to keep your equipment up and running should utility power fail. Annual battery inspection/maintenance is the only answer.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Good Reason to Stand Out in the Cold

A cold breeze blew across a huddled group of people standing in the driveway of a town home in Milton, GA. Hushed conversations were held over mugs of gas station coffee cups held by gloved hands. The quiet was soon pierced by giggling of small children bundled warmly running to the park area in the center of the homes where they descended onto the swing set.

The children's laughter and joy suddenly transformed the circle of 29 town homes into a neighborhood. One that any parent or family would be overjoyed to be apart.

Soon the huddled group in the driveway became so large it spilled out onto the road in front of the home and into the edge of the park. This was a day of celebration marking the completion of the final four of the 29 town homes that make up Centennial Village, a community designed and built by Habitat for Humanity.



Habitat for Humanity of North Central Georgia started construction of this community in 2007. The new home owners purchased the homes with zero percent mortgages financed by Habitat for Humanity. Make no mistake, these are not give away homes. These are affordable homes with no interest loans. The home owners are responsible for making their down payment and making their monthly mortgage payments. As Habitat explains it, "It's a hand UP, not a hand out", and "Decent, affordable housing transforms a family's life, breaking the cycle of poverty and improving health and educational outcomes."

Additionally, the homeowners invest "sweat equity" in the construction of their home along side volunteers, and sponsors of their home. They typically also work on the construction of a neighbor's home.

The stories from the new homeowners during the home dedication are a testimony of the impact Habitat has on families and communities. Today one of the homeowners shared that a few years ago she would have never dreamed of owning her own home after living in a homeless shelter for a period of time. But, now her and her children have a home of their own and are a part of a community where her children were playing and laughing on a cold breezy morning with several of their neighbors' children.

For more information on Habitat for Humanity, how it works and how to get involved, visit: http://www.habitat.org/how/factsheet.aspx

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Christmas Story



Well, it was 23F this morning with a 15 mph wind making it feel much colder than 23 even. So, it would be safe to say it is feeling a lot like Christmas in North Georgia. And of course when the Christmas season rolls around, all of the talk about NASCAR kind of simmers as they won't wage battle again until February. And for most, it is just too darn cold to enjoy riding their motorcycle. So, conversations seem to head towards Christmas legends and of course the origin of the Christmas Moose always comes up.



For those of you who have followed this blog for years, you are probably very familiar with the story. For others, this may be your first introduction. Whatever the case, here is the link to the story from last year's posting. Enjoy!

The Legend of the Christmas Moose