Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas 2013

We wish you an enjoyable Christmas and are betting on a great time next year.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Mara Graduates

Number Three in as many years. Nine-school-veteran Mara and Gaynor just before her college (high school) graduation ceremony.

And for Mara this year, three is the number of the ballet exams, the auditions and the times she cleaned her room. A busy year indeed. Well done Miss Mara.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Heroes at Five

Micah recently celebrated his fifth birthday in fine five-year-old-boy fashion by organising a bunch of close friends to dress-up as their favourite superheroes and run around the park. A few regular heroes organised a bit of food, some semi-structured games and a good time was had by all.

Heroes in the Park
Super Micah and his friend Iron Man (a.k.a. Tom) roam the park looking for people to save or things to blow up (basically the same thing).

Even Heroes Eat
A break in festivities to refuel. Even Captain Suprised needs something.

Determined Fruit
With a bite like that, the fruit does its best to stay out of the way.

Later, at home with some fire to extinguish, Micah dressed as a pirate (as you do) and did the honours. So glad to have this happy boy in our lives.

Captain Hornblower?
Micah showing great form on the inhale ...

Captian Hornblower?
... and blows as hard as a scrunched up nose will allow. (The nose-blowing method suggested by a sibling who really shouldn't be offering that kind of advice.)

Friday, 7 June 2013

Half-Life Day

Gaynor and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary a little while ago and, since we were married fairly young, I started wondering how much of my life I have spent married to her. The outcome of that wondering is that I realised that yesterday, 6th of June, I have spent exactly[1] half my life -- 7588 days -- with her.

Even better, I got to spend a lunchtime date with her today at an exhibit at the National Library. While Gaynor has yet to reach her half-life day I can only say, I love what she's done for me so far.

Half-Life Date
A great time with a wonderful woman on a beautiful day -- just like the other 7588 of them.

[1] Accurate to a resolution of a day -- still, that's an error of 6.6x10-3%

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Motorcycling Again

Late last November an odd thing happened. I'd just arrived home on the Silver Numbat and placing her up on her centre stand with the usual creak and groan, I heard a plop from a couple of metres away. Investigating revealed the end of a large bolt with a nut on it. Not only unexpected, it was a bit disconcerting having never sheared a bolt that way before (not going to list all the ways I have torn one apart though).

The Cause
The Cause -- wear grooves in the ground, hardened steel bushing seized against the needle bearing in the swing arm.

I gingerly brought the bike down off it's stand and wheeled it through to the de facto repair area next to the shed. Given that the swing arm seemed to be hanging on by only a few millimetres of shaft at one end, I decided best not to ride it until repaired -- losing a swing arm and then a rear wheel at 100km/hr is not my idea of a good time.

Unfortunately, I knew the bike couldn't be looked at until at least January. December was filled with a conference in Japan, a wedding in Adelaide, a deadline at work and then Christmas and New Years. January rolled around and I decided I needed to finish the house extension plans first. Fast forward three more months, plans are not quite finished but my patience at missing out on riding the motorcycle is.

Redback comes to the party
Showing good taste in both humans and motorcycles, this redback decided the chain guard was a good place to hang out. Leave something long enough around here and they usually set up shop.

First thing is that the old bolt needs to come out. I should have realised that anything that would hold the shaft sufficiently well that it could be twisted in two was not going to release its precious easily. I think my fears of losing a swing arm and rear well headin down the freeway were unfounded. Still, not worth the risk :)

Shaft Extraction
Seized bearings and a neat fitting shaft don't make for a pleasant extraction.

Rear wheel, chain and suspension-attaching bolts are removed in preparation. The shaft should come out using a simple 'tapping with a suitable drift'[1], however it resists my subtle, and then not-so-subtle, charms. Eventually I decide a more custom approach is needed. The shaft is 16mm diameter so I drill and tap an M10 hole into the end of it. A threaded rod goes into that and a nut, winding against a thrust plate slowly draws the bolt out with much angst, creaking and groaning -- some of it from the shaft. Eventually, all is apart and an inspection reveals groove marks on the hardened steel of the bushings, so it's likely the bushings seized and placing the motorcycle up on to the centre stand sheared the bolt.

A new bolt is not available as a part to buy so a scrounge through the wreckers -- same ones who had previously come to the rescue -- yielded one close enough that a favour from a colleague with a lathe at work modified it to a usable condition. An M16 nylock nut, larger than the one on the original shaft, just squeezes in to the space in the bike frame, so further modifications are averted. :) Other parts, the bushings, dust seals and a new chain guard for the swing arm, are ordered and when everything finally comes in, it's in to the mechanic who fits the new bearings with a hydraulic press I'm unlikely to ever own. :(

Motorcycling Again
All back together again; new parts and cleaned parts living in harmony.

A replacement rear brake disc goes on instead of the legally-too-thin one that was there, parts get a bit of a clean and it all goes back together fairly easily, about a month after deciding to get her repaired and six months after putting her off duty. Unfortunately, the delay has meant I've essentially missed all the lovely summer riding and we are now well into sub-freezing morning temperatures. Still, I did a happy dance after the first ride . :)

[1] This is a typical phrase from many a vehicle repair manual. As long as you have a collection of about twenty steel bars, rods, bearings and sockets you'll usually find something 'suitable'. The 'tapping' is always repair manual humour.

Monday, 4 February 2013

2013 Ahead

Busy times in our family this coming year. Though we usually have a (more than a) few things going on, this year is shaping up to have quite the slew of notable events. So, from the top of the tree ...

Gaynor is now officially looking for part-time work. A bit more income has been on the agenda for a while and, after a brief fruitless search early last year, she focussed on writing her first cookbook and getting some more recent experience that she could use. Subsequently, she spent a few times a week throughout the year at Bryna's school helping a few students with remedial reading. With Micah starting pre-school (more on that below), Gaynor is in a better position to enter paid employment and she is hoping to pick up casual teacher-assistant work a few days a week. She has just accepted the position of teaching seminary (an early-morning scripture study class) with about a dozen students. Somewhat conveniently, it'll be held in our home, starting this Tuesday with class commencing at 6:40am.

Joshua has been accepted to university, studying for a Bachelor of Writing. He took some time last year to write for himself and evidently enjoyed it enough to want to continue with more formal studies. Work during December and January gave him some funds, from which he has purchased a laptop that he hopes will see him through the degree. Classes begin on Tuesday.

As avid readers would recall,Elijah graduated last year and picked up the same work as Joshua during December and January. He's had his contract extended and so is now in an excellent position to build up a good pile of money (which he'll be sleeping on in the shed if he doesn't keep his room tidier). Though he also received an offer of a university place, for the Bachelor of Design, he's declined in favour of working to save for the missionary work he is planning to undertake later this year. Currently, he expects to take up the design studies upon his return.

Per year of age, Mara might have the most going on in 2013. She'll be studying for her final year of college/high school, undertaking two ballet exams -- May and August -- and auditioning for dance programs she hopes to enter next year. Usually it is one exam per year but, since she is an academic year ahead of her age-peers, she needs to cover both. This is also her last year of early-morning seminary. Next year should be interesting for her as well and this might well be her last at home for a while.

Ariana is still enjoying her high school studies and is looking forward to continuing them this year. In addition to her saxophone playing in the school band, she'll be busy at church being president of her young women's group (12 - 13 year olds) and is keen to start seminary. Both Ari and Mara will only have to go as far as the lounge room for this class.

As for Bryna, well she'll be continuing with her ballet and schooling, both of which she thoroughly enjoys. She's at a lovely, uncomplicated age.

Micah put an apple in his new pre-school lunchbox just after Christmas and for the past week has been bouncing around the house reminding everyone that he'll be going. Two full days every week and three every other week is the schedule. He went up last Friday with Gaynor to meet the pre-school teacher and have a look around. He seemed very much at home and it only increased his desire to get there.

Happy to be Going

Finally, apart from my full-time job and church responsibilities, I'm finishing up the design and paperwork for the house extension, which we hope to complete in the next few months. Then it's just the regular things like fixing the cars and motorcycle, making sure I have a job next year, raising the children and keeping out of trouble. Barring the last, they've been working out pretty well so far.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Micah and Multiplication

Leave it to Gaynor to teach Micah multiplication using food. Every time he now sees peanuts or chocolate chips he asks to do his 'times'.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Puzzle Time

Everyone loves 'The Laughing Cavalier' by Frans Hals, the well known Dutch painter. He also did 'Rarnaby Budge'.