Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wedding Pictures

A little while ago I got married. It was way more fun than I thought it would be! (The wedding day, that is.)

So here are a few pictures, I'm pretty sure the wife will give me grief for not getting her approval to publish each and every one of these, but I'm not completely whipped yet...

(Click on any picture for a larger version.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cochem Castle and the Autobahn

For my birthday and the 4th of July, Jenna and I rented a car and drove over to West Germany to visit my Aunt & Uncle & Cousins for the weekend. I drove on the Autobahn, they took us to the military base commissary, we celebrated the 4th of July with Americans en mass, and we visited the Cochem Castle in the Rhineland's Moselle River Valley. Keep reading for details!
Cochem Castle

Monday, July 11, 2011

German Observations

Here are a few observations I have about Germany:

Things I Like
  • Bakeries - There are tons of them and they're uber delicious. They have this cream monstrosity that is oh-so-yummy it makes me want to go into convulsions and die.
  • Ivy - It's everywhere and is really pretty. (Not the poison variety!)
  • Cobblestones - Quaint and practical (but reportedly difficult to walk on in heels). Because cobblestone streets are just a bunch of little pieces you can put back together, after they tear up a cobblestone street for sewer work it looks like nothing ever happened! Cobblestone streets are also viscous, so they'll move to adapt to changing ground levels.
  • Consonants - It seems like speaking Deutsche is hard work - so many consonants! Their mouth is going crazy. Fun to listen to, watch out for spit.
  • Universal Functional Windows - They're all the same and swing open wide, or pop open at the top. (No screens though.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What was I thinking about just now?: Ode to Nickolas Pickolas

My first wife published a review of my personality on her blog. Enjoy:

Ode to Nickolas Pickolas: "Well, today my Old Man got even older. That's right friends, Nickolas Pickolas has reached the ripe old age of six and twenty. In honor of..."
*Jenna is my first, current, and only wife.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Exploring Jena

Because we have no money, we haven't really gone anywhere. At the beginning of the summer we had big plans to visit Prague, Vienna, Switzerland, London, as well as a bunch of German places: Munich, Berlin, Neuschwanstein Castle, and Oberammergau. (Of course if we had lots of money I really want to go to Rome and Istanbul, but I kind of always knew we would get those in on this trip.)

But, since we're poor, we've been seeing a lot of Jena and tagging along with members of the ward to other cities whenever we can. A couple of weeks ago we visited the Freiberg Germany Temple, which was the first temple behind the Iron Curtain. We found mostly American temple workers there but the services were in German - so we had to wear headphones (that used an infrared receiver that you could wear under your clothes! I admit, I was distracted by this...). The temple is very small - smaller even than the "small temples" the church has been building the last 15 years or so.

Freiberg Germany LDS Temple

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lobdeburg Castle

Here are a bunch of pictures from my latest adventures in Germany.

Since we're so poor and work all day we really don't have the ability to travel outside of our town (at least for now). So lately we've been exploring the sights around Jena. Luckily, as is the case with pretty much everywhere outside of the USA, there's all kinds of history right here in our valley.

For instance, here are a few facts about this small city that you probably have never heard of. Jena has Luther's original tombstone and the world's first planetarium. It was a frequent stomping ground for Geothe and Napoleon marched through. Coolest of all: the Carl Zeiss company was founded here.

There's also a medieval town center and castles or towers on almost every hill surrounding the city.

The closest old-stone-thing to our house is the Friedensberg WWI memorial. We found it quite by accident - we wandered up the hill and I saw a tiny trail going into a clump of trees at the top. I jokingly said, "I wonder if there's a castle in there?" So we went in (with Jenna gagging and screaming because plants were brushing against her legs and there might be bugs). We found a huge round stone wall! Circling round we found the entrance and it turned out to be a WWI memorial by the name of Friedensberg.

The gate to Friedensberg memorial

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I got hitched! The wedding was in California at the Newport Beach LDS Temple and the reception was in Fountain Valley. It was epic - we had a New Orleans Jazz Band, awesome food, and much fun was had by all.
The next day Jenna (my wife) and I left for Miami to catch a big-ass boat across the ocean! The Norwegian Epic is the world's 3rd largest cruise ship.
Norwegian Epic docked in Miami

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to Thoroughly Vaporize a Multimeter

Sorry it's been awhile since I've posted. I've been busy getting engaged (almost married!) and trying to get through school. Here's my latest adventure:
1950s Vacuum Tube Tesla Coil (vacuum tube not pictured)
A 1950s vacuum tube tesla coil based around a Hartley radio frequency oscillator. My uncle gave it to me over thanksgiving. He got his hands on it from the scientific instrument shop of the Los Angeles County School District. Apparently, they gave it to him because he asked nicely and it didn't work (it's ancient).

The last week or so I've been trying to get it working, with limited success. So far I've got the smaller transformer working - providing 6.3 VAC to the base of the vacuum tube so that it lights up nicely.

This evening I was testing the large transformer, which is supposed to convert 120 VAC to +/- 600 VAC (I think). It supposedly puts out -600 volts on one lead and +600 on the other, for a total of 1200 volts. My multimeter says it can handle 600 V, so I decided to try each lead individually.

I disconnected the leads from the large red capacitor shown in front of the large transformer (you can see the leads detached in the picture) and tested each individually with reference to ground. The first (attached to the right side of the cap) came out at about 40 VAC. The second came out as 340 VAC.

Puzzled and assuming I had found the problem, I decided to test both transformer leads at once. I hooked up each lead from the transformer to a cable from my multimeter and turned the thing on. There was a flash of light and a loud buzzing sound as the insides of my multimeter vaporized under what definitely was not 380 VAC. I quickly hit the switch on my power strip and opened up my multimeter to examine the damage. Here's what I found:
Back side of the board of my vaporized multimeter
Front side of the board and underside of the dial of my vaporized multimeter
So, I'm down one multimeter. This was after last week vaporizing my oscilloscope probe by touching it to the large red capacitor while charged.

Tesla coil:   2     Nick:   0