July 25 (again from a letter to family)

So, today actually began really nicely, when in the beautifully cool early morning fog while riding to work, I saw 6 hot air balloons floating over Santa Paula. I was going to race them to my work, as some of them were going at a fairly nice clip, but then to wind stopped, so it didn't seem very fair to them. Poor balloons.

And this morning turned out to be a very aircraft-filled morning, as we saw two F/A-18s flying in formation around the valley for a bit, and later heard something that sounded like military aircraft using large loud afterburners, which we think were probably the same planes.

Today we spent almost all of the day straightening panels, which is not a very fun job, because it involves coordinating 8-14 peoples moving large aluminum structures, trying to line them up to within and 1/8 of in inch tolerance, which is not easy when they weigh close to half a ton each. However, after lunch we did have the enjoyment of finally looking out upon our great sea of solar panels, 3/4 finished, all in nearly perfect lines.

Since that was pretty much the end of our work for the week, we spent the rest of the afternoon leisurely panelizing, just me and Max and Bridget on my team, since McGarry has flown off to a wedding for the weekend. We ended up having several long lengthy discussions, since we didn't have to focus as much on cranking out the panels as fast as we could. After Max and I discussed corporate ethics for awhile, about how companies should treat and pay their workers, and how they would be responsible for some basic compensations and minimum standard of working, but might not have to do more than that unless they could convince their competitors to join them, since the rewards would be diminished unless they all pitch in together, the real topic of the afternoon emerged as we began discussing movies.
It was a long developed discussion, mainly revolving around Max's belief that movies should be a very rare activity, and from his argument supporting that, a debate over whether they were a social activity, and if so of what type and so on.
And the even longer discussion took place once we discussed whether or not they were art, and whether that art could be compared to the acting of plays, or paintings and music and such. We debated on the meaning of art, and whether there was a bond between the artist and the audience, and whether the use of technology such as a camera made it less on an art, since art is an imitation of nature, but a camera makes an image, not an imitation.

July 18th (again excerpt from a letter)

So today wasn't quite as interesting a day as yesterday, but it *was* a Friday, which is a good thing in and of itself. Got up for work in time, the bikeride was much nicer then yesterday, being early in the morning again. Saw Max on the way to work, didn't beat him today (he's figured out a faster route using the highway...cheater...but made decent time anyways. We had a great team panelizing in the morning, and had gotten 10 panels done before our first break (which is very good time) when Brett decided we had to align all the panel already in place, so we spent the rest of the day with Elijah and Max shouting command at the other 12 of us, as we attempted to move segments of 10 panels bolted together into a structure about 40 feet wide, 50 feet long, adn weighing close to a ton. Oh, and it's about a foot and a half off the ground, so lifting it is incredibly good for our backs, and very easy. Needless to say about the seven hundred and 83rd time Elijah called out "You moved it too far, nudge it a quarter inch back south!" tempers were slightly frayed, which was not aided by the arrival of the pizza car half an hour late (we always get pizza on fridays). It was rather strange to observe people though, especailly how easily their attitudes and reactions changed. One minute, McGarry was cursing the "stupid pizza driver, his only job is to get us our pizza here at 11:45, in his air-conditioned car *grumblegrumblegrumble*" and five minutes later was shouting, "Hey! He even honked so we knew we could come in from the field! The Pizza Guy is awesome!"
Fortuantely, it never got too bad, even after lifting and shoving for 6 hours, because it was a friday, which makes everyone happier.
And I got my paycheck from last week, and paid the next two months rent, which made me happy.

Oh, and when I got back to the Ferriers, I made a much better smoothie than yesterday, almost a slushie. Instead of the amazing conglomeration of ingredients from yesterday, I stayed a bit simpler, and put in a grapefruit, a peach, a few slices of watermelon, and lots of ice. This tasted a bit sour because of the grapefruit, which I've decided is better eaten on it's own, but a touch of cane sugar (couldn't find any honey or molasses) remedied that, and it was very watery and refreshing. :)

July 17th (excerpt from a letter to a friend)

So, today didn't begin all that well; I got up at nine, rather late for getting to work, but I called McGarry and he said it was fine to come in late, so I threw on some clothes and jumped on my bike. It was wonderful to be biking again, I missed it, even though it had just been a week. However, it was by no means the most wonderful ride ever, usually I started 3 hours earlier, when it's the moist cool early windless dawn, but by 0930 it was starting to get warm, the sun had burned away the cool protective mist, and the wind was rushing in from the ocean up the valley, purposefully to make my life hard. And my nose was clogged, so I couldn't breathe through it, and my mouth was dry, but none of that mattered, because I was back on my bike, a very happy place to be. :) I arrived at work just as they were finishing their morning break, so I hadn't missed much, but the instant I got there my technical expertise was pushed into action. I fixed one of my boss's (Brett) laptop's last week, with the whole virus thing, but now the other boss (Bill, the non-engineer one...who spent alot of time int he 70s and hasn't left it far behind) managed to jam a DVD into the drive on his laptop and get it stuck, and now the computer tried to recognize the drive when it booted up, but couldn't, so it wouldn't boot up either. Fun fun. I thought it would actually be a hard problem to solve, and was all ready to unscew it, take the drive out, mess with the bios settings, and stuff. However, it turned out all I needed was a paperclip to trip the manual release catch and pop the drive out. Yay for easy fixes! However, when Bill asked what was wrong (very happy to have it working again, since he just bought it last month) and I explained it to him, he said "that's all?", my IT training came in handy and I swiftly placated his almost injured ego by spouting some jargon about bios ram drivers and stuff i had to configure to fix it. He was much happier when he couldn't understand what had been wrong.

Then I ran into Brett, who asked how Alaska was, and when I mentioned the lack of a normal day/night cycle he told me about his friend in Hammerfest who watches to sun go around and around for a motnh without setting at all. He asked me in the course of conversation if I knew where Hammerfest was. Of course I did, it's at the northernmost tip of Norway. What I didn't mention is that I knew this from many hours spent play Command and Conquer Tiberian Sun, where GDI had a huge base in Hammerfest and one of the hardest NOD missions in the game was to infiltrate it from 3 hovertanks and 1 subterranean APC full on engineers. And this stupid stupid Firestorm defense wall they had was such a pain, and you had to sneak around the back of the base, and trigger avalanches to create ramps for the hovertanks, and watch out for the ice, because it might cave in if you were on it too long and all the engineers would drown...but I digress. Very fond memories of Tiberian Sun though. :)

Anyways, after that I went out into the field to rejoin my wonderful crew, with max Becher, Elijah White, Nathaniel McGarry, and Ulysses the Mexican. They actually hadn't gotten all that much done while I was gone, but it looks like we might still finish on time. Our morning discussion was incredibly TACish, Nels had quibbled with Elijah and McGarry about what equivocation was, starting from the premise the an alien from Mexico and an alien from Star Wars was an equovocation, while McGarry presisted that it wasn't. Although Nels left for the other panelizing table, this swiftly divirged into an indepth discussion of Aristotle's categories, supplemented by remarks from Elijah and Max about this differences between Aristotle equivocation, univocation, and denomination, as compared to St. Thomas' definition of equivocation, and naming things analogously.

So after that came lunch, and I just couldn't sleep, so I was kindof walking back and forth in the warehouse, trying not to look too dead, when Elijah came up to me and said, "Here, you need this," and handed me a mdeium sized peach. He told me it came from the Woods peach tree (he's housesitting for them while they're gone), and to someone who hadn't eaten anything but toast in the past 4 days, it was the most delicious thing ever. I've had good peaches, but I'm not sure if I've ever had any that were so perfect. One bite into it, and the skin just peeled off, and it seemed like it was bursting with juice and flavor and goodness, and just...oh my gosh it was the best thing I've tasted in a long long time. mmmmmmmmmmm
So incredibly good. Just...the inside wasn't mushy, not hard but just tender enough to melt in your mouth, and the falvor was perfect, full and delcious, but not overpowering or too sweet...and even the fuzy skin was good, not very fuzzy, and just soft and...I can't even describe how wonderfully delectable it was.
So in the afternoon, it was rather quiet, as we were pretty industrious. Elijah got stolen from another table, and they got more people, so there were three tables. But at the end of the day our one table had done 23 panels, whereas the other two combined had only gotten through 16. Pathetic lazy bums. We were quite pleased with ourselves.
The ride home was much nicer, since I had the wind at my back, and I raced Max Becher in his car about 3/4ths of the way home, before the hill to to the Ferriers killed my lead, and he zoomed off in his silly gaspowered contraption. Sadface. But I was on my precious bike again. Happyface! But then I noticed, someone had SAWN OFF THE TOP OF THE HANDLEBAR AXEL!!!! ANGRYFACE! >:-(
Well, it works fine for now, but I guess I'll have to find some palce to keep my bike inside, since locking it up obviously isn't enough, and maybe Mr Tolberg will be able to find me a part to cover it. He's probably even got something to weld it on.
I hope.

Then I got home and made...a rather interesting concoction, somewhat resembling a smoothie. I had a hard time coming up with what i wanted in this house, I couldn't find much fruit, or yogurt, or molasses, or cabbage (suggested by Elijah, I think it would actually work better than the Romaine lettuce, which wasn't bad), so I combined a couple oranges, a couple lemons, a dash of cream, a spoonful of ice cream, some leaves of romaine lettuce, half a sprite, half a container of concentrated orange juice, and lots of ice cubes, and some water, and the result actually tastes pretty good. it's a bit on the sour side, but I don't like smoothies to sweet anyways, I could do with a bit more wateriness, and a bit more fruit flavor, I would skip the cream and ice cream, and add some plums and grapefruit and just...more fruit.

After thatI started writing this, and about halfway through volunteered to drive to the store with George to pick up some stuff for the homemade pizza they're making tonight (Mr. and Mrs. Ferrier are gone on a fishing/camping trip). And while I was there I picked up more peaches and grapefruit and watermelon. Happyface. <3 watermelon.