Friday, September 30, 2011

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 30

Finally!  The end is neigh!  As we come to the close of the 30 Day Blog Challenge, I have a confession to make.  This was a heck of a lot harder than I ever expected it to be.  The challenge to the challenge wasn't what I expected it to be.  Writing for 30 days in a row is challenging in and of itself, especially as an engineer in the auto industry.  Things come up that need to be dealt with.  Sometimes, you go into work expecting to be out after 8 hours and you end up leaving after 12.  It's also a challenge just to generate content on a specific topic when you feel no connection to the topic at all.  I'm sure that when you read the posts of the past 30 days, it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly which topics I struggled with.  However, I also learned that if I force myself to write, trudge through the inability to choose words or think coherently and just get letters on the screen, I'll hit a rhythm and something will turn from a struggle of a post to a long, almost manifesto.

I love that the 30 Day Blog Challenge ends on a positive note.  There have been many positive things that have happened to me since the start of this challenge, especially since I try and find the positive in any situation.  Here's the required five positives, and only the required five.  If I went longer, I'd find myself typing all day.  In no particular order.


As I mentioned in a previous post for the challenge, a few weeks ago, my wife and I learned how to spin yarn.  I didn't really expect to enjoy myself that much, but I found it thrilling.  I've since spun a whole bunch of yarn, taught myself how to Navajo ply it, and wound it into a center pull ball, all new skills that I've begun to develop.  Now, I can add this to my Zombie apocalypse bag of survival skills.


Tonight, Katie and I get to go see Tim Minchin live!  Have you not heard of Tim Minchin?  Try looking here. Tim is a great Austrailian living in England musical comedian best known for his ability to tackle any topic with a great deal of humor.  Did you see that, Tim?  Humor.  Not Humour.  Humor.  I don't care what BBC America tries to tell me, Humor is not funnier with an extra U.  Frak, I love boobs though.  (Watch some Tim Minchin videos online if you don't understand that joke)


As many of you know by now, I'm an engineer for Chrysler.  Just yesterday, I was privileged enough to see a bit into the future.  It's well known across the industry (and is no secret) that we have a few new vehicles in the pipeline.  I was able to see the drawings of several of them, and you will love them.  We have vehicles coming out within the next five years (cars can take a really long time to develop, if you weren't aware) that fill every vehicle niche.  The first of these cars will be publicly revealed and in showrooms within the next 12 months.  I can't tell you much, but I can tell you that it's a vehicle that you'll want to stand in line for.  This car is gorgeous.  It's practical, economical, and fun to drive all at once.  The car will have a version for just about every customer.  I can tell you that there are a few things we're putting on this vehicle that will be class exclusives (meaning no other vehicle in the vehicle class will have them).  I can also tell you that the new lines of vehicles coming out will represent the best of what Fiat and Chrysler have to offer. Considering that our Chrysler 300 just received the highest Consumer Reports score ever given to a Chrysler vehicle, you can imagine how excited we are about our future.

Also work related, this month I learned a great deal about vehicle dynamics.  See, one of my programs has a new limited build coming up (I don't know if I can explain more without losing my job) and the vehicle is getting retuned by dynamics.  What this means is that many of the suspension components that are tunable (shocks, springs, stabilizer bar, ect) are getting changed to give the car a completely different feel on the road.  When Top Gear talks about the "handling" of a car, about 75% of it is suspension tuning, the other 25% is steering tuning.  Because of this I got to learn a lot more about the dynamic performance of vehicles and what they look for in tuning a car.  I learned about the 70 mph flick steer test (don't try this at home) where while driving at 70 mph (usually on a closed course), you flick the steering wheel about 15-20 degrees to one side and count how many oscillations it takes for the wheel to center itself out.  I also learned about after shake, cyclic yaw, and a number of other things.  The best part about is was that I got to do essentially side by side comparisons between several cars to see what impact these things have on your driving experience.


Last Saturday was pretty much a day full of amazing. Katie and I met up with a friend of ours and headed out to ArtPrize over in Grand Rapids.  While there, we were able to see a large number of impressive works of art, but most notably, The Infernal Device.  Then, there was lunch at Founders Brewing Company for lunch.  Not only did I get a fantastic pulled pork BBQ sandwich, I also had Backwoods Bastard, their Dirty Bastard aged in barrels.  It's the best beer that I've ever tasted.  From there, it only got better.  We found a great little fiber store on our way out of town, and I picked up 8oz of a fun dye of merino and a full pound of another fun purple dyed wool.  Once we got home, there was what GQ lists as one of the Top 25 burgers in the country at Sidetrack and Dogfish Head Brewing's Punk'n on tap.  Of course, we finished it all up with ice cream and Doctor Who.

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