Friday, December 31, 2010

Local Motors Rally Fighter: Cool car, cool company

This afternoon, I went to the Local Motors micro-factory. I was reading about their car, the Rally Fighter, on a car blog and got to clicking on their site. Lo and behold, Local Motors happens to be located in Phoenix, where I am vacationing for Christmas with the Thompson extended family. Sweet. I dispatched an email regarding a tour and got a phone call yesterday that a tour could be done today. Rock on!

Let me introduce you a bit to Local Motors. This company seeks to fill niches in the automotive market with vehicles designed by a collaborative community and fabricated in a local micro-factory, partly with the owner-to-be's labor. Local Motors is a startup, and they are now rolling the first production-spec models out of their factory. Cars are aimed at the local market, meaning they have special appeal to the region in which they are produced. Their first car is an offroad rally design for desert racing, and it's called the Rally Fighter. Feast your eyes on this:

Take another look:

It's a 430 horsepower, 20-inch suspension travel, 3500lb... er, what is it? Well, a monster, but it looks like someone popped the body off of a sports car and popped it on an offroad truck frame for giggles. No wait, that would be these rednecks from Manti: 

Not quite the same effect. (I mean, cool... but I like the Rally Fighter better) Back the task of defining the RF. What is it? Well, it doesn't fit into any existing car market, and that's exactly the point- it fills a gap in the auto market that's too small for any of the large automakers to feasibly target, but which has enough demand to make people like me drool over their product. Local Motors isn't a desert racing vehicle company, it just so happens that their first product is a desert racer. They've got designs on the table for sports cars, electric vehicles, and tiny city-dweller transportation. As the company grows, it will pop up other micro-factories in markets suitable for their newest designs.

Let's get back to the Rally Fighter. It starts out as a tube-steel chassis:

Then they add a glorious 430HP GM LS3 V8 engine:

...and some enormously huge rear shocks,
(it's hard to judge the size of these in the picture- they're about 48" long)

Next they stir in some body panels, bumpers, steering column, axles, and other goodies:

Better get the wiring harness in there:

Got to make sure they get something sweet in there as well:

A whole lot more goes into it as well. We got to take a look at the back area where they fabricate the chassis and other parts as well. LM is a pretty small operation right now, and they are able to pound all the cars they are producing right now out of a single jig, which looks like a jungle of steel and vice grips.

Local Motors is growing fast. They actually only have five of these vehicles produced right now, but they have  132 on backorder with deposits paid. Dadgum. By this time next year, the engineer I spoke with says he thinks they could have all of them out the doors. LM is only producing 2000 of these, so they'll be something of a collectible as well. 

I joked about moving to Phoenix a week ago when I arrived and saw five sportbikes in two minutes at a gas station. The climate is pretty boss (except for the past few days) and now there's a sweet small car company looking to explode right here. I could see that happening. I could also see it not happening, but you know. 

Here's a slideshow of all the pics I took... I always kick myself for not taking more (and better-framed) pictures, and this set isn't an exception.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Have a nephew? Save the world. (Works for sons, daughters, grandkids, etc)

I know that as soon as I get the point, you'll think me horribly biased and prejudiced. However, I believe I have a point (if I didn't I probably wouldn't be writing... probably). Okay, the long and short of it is that I believe that a world with more engineers is a better world. Why are engineers so highly paid? There are two primary reasons- because the work they do is generally very valuable, and also because there just aren't that many of them. Not a lot of young people want to be engineers, and even fewer of those follow through with their ambitions. I'm not just making this up- engineering schools across the US have noted a disturbing trend in the last decade towards both declining enrollment and failure to graduate (either from dropping out or switching majors). This isn't just a pet problem with one sector of the world which will recover in time, it's a real issue that hasn't yet reached the limelight.

Very often you'll hear about something being so essential that the world can't exist without it. This is frequently employed to lend creedence to some argument or add awe to something. You'll hear about how without sunlight, the world couldn't possibly exist, or without the nitrogen cycle, plants could never go, or "Without Trucks- America Stops". Whatever it is, it's always essential. The implication here is that whatever is being argued for is the most important thing... IN THE WORLD. This happens so much that I believe that the American populace is becoming immune to being told that something is important. I say this because I don't want you, my reader, to underestimate the gravitas of this issue. I don't argue that this is the most important issue in the world- it's obviously not- but it can be corrected relatively easily and does have a significant impact on the world.

First, why is engineering important? The first and most obvious thing is what engineering creates. If you look back at our world as it was in the Bible times, you can note a lot of differences. It wouldn't be hard to argue that things are better now than they were then. People live longer, in greater comfort, with more leisure time and less oppression and greater freedom. All these improvements can be linked to advances in some field- civics, art, philosophy, medicine, politics... and engineering. I won't pull the typical 'look around the room, now notice that everything you saw was made by an engineer' tactic because that's cliché. (But it's true) We can thank engineering for almost all of our modern conveniences. More importantly, though, we can thank engineering for most of the significant advances that actually make a difference in the world- modern sanitation leads to greatly reduced disease and thus fewer people dying early deaths. The invention of the printing press made the printed word, and thus education and knowledge (not to mention God's word) available to the masses. The textile mill means that your mom didn't have to stay up late with an oil-lamp crocheting your underwear. All of these things- significant and insignificant, would still be problems in the world if someone didn't employ the design process to solve a problem.

My proposition for you is this- if there are young people in your life, give them two things: a curiosity about how things work and a strong desire to make the world better. The former will give them the inclination to design better things, and the former will motivate them to put those inclinations to a meaningful use (the world needs appropriate technology more than it needs better iPhones). I need to leave the better-world part up to you, as a single 23-year old non-father, I have no idea how to make kids into better people. When it comes to curiousity about how things work... now that's something I'm familiar with.

The best way that I know of to foster curiosity (and the creativity that will follow) is to explore the world's wonders with your son/daughter/nephew/niece/grandkids. God made an amazing world and offers endless entertainment for those who endeavor to explore it. Don't force any young person to fit a mold- but make the mold available to them if they want to crawl into it. One reason, perhaps, that engineering has been less popular is that it's viewed as an honorable but eccentric trade. The remedy to this, probably, is to get a life-size cardboard cutout of Werner VonBraun to put in his/her room and venerate him as a hero at every family meal.

Provide resources for kiddo to explore. When I was a kid, we had a cutaway book which showed cutaway views of different things like jumbo jets, oceanliners, and tanks. Even though I'd looked at each of the diagrams already, I loved to look at them all to see how everything fit together and wonder how it all worked.  LEGOs are great, but get them the ones where they actually build stuff instead of just assemble their own figurines. Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, K'nex, pencil and paper, aluminum and a bandsaw, whatever. Stuff like this is great:

Check out the whole site- it's great.

Anything to get kiddo's brain stimulated in a constructive and creative way (preferably towards making something practical and useful) is good. There's more to being an engineer than just analysis and computation- get kiddo familiar with a ratchet and box-end wrench as well.

Shucks, I ran out of creative juice. Turn all the kids you know into engineers. Fin.

Monday, December 27, 2010

If I've made a pilgrimage to Zion, does that make a me a Zionist?

Here's your promised tale of adventure from On Distant Shores™, the official blog of Ned Funnell. With the parade in the dust, it was time to move on to bigger and better things. We had a new intern join us for a short one-month stay this fall, John Clark: 

John is an outdoorsman and is on a mission to visit and hike/camp/explore every National Park... IN THE WORLD. (Maybe not. But he goes to a lot of them.) John invited me to go visit Zion National Park with him, which is a golden opportunity.We backpacked, meaning we carried everything we'd need for the two-night trip in backpacks. I'd never been backpacking before, just close-to-the-car camping. Having to carry all your stuff miles and miles makes packing a different story! We hiked into Kolob Canyon the first day. (Mormons believe their god came from a planet called Kolob, hence the name)

As everyone who's backpacked knows, proper footwear is the most important element to a successful backpacking trip. That's why I selected some random shoes I'd bought for six bucks at a thrift store. Although I thought this plan was failsafe, it turned out to be flawed. I got enormo-huge blisters on both my feet after the first few miles, which made the next dozen all the more exciting. As everyone knows, the best thing for blisters is swimming in frigid water.

I was amused in this picture, but I was less amused a few minutes later when some people came around the bend in the river doing a study on the aquaculture. My swimwear would not have been approved by 9 out of 10 dentists. The one-way hike was only 6.5 miles or so in and we made camp with plenty of time to spare, much to the enjoyment of the local mosquitoes.  The next morning we woke up and were greeted by some wild turkeys:

After a backpacking-friendly breakfast (Goober PBJ on a tortilla with extra peanuts inside) we hiked another 1.5 miles to see Kolob Arch, which is pretty neat. We wanted to get a good picture of one of us with the arch, but unfortunately the best/only view of the arch is up through some trees:

The natural solution to the problem was to throw a loop of rope over the branch of a tree and pull it tight so that it couldn't be gotten down again without an hour and a half of devising and attempting rescue. It worked great! John was able to walk up the tree with the rope, but the branch was on the wrong side to get into the frame with the Arch:

He did get into the frame with a different rope trick, though:

Then there was the ordeal of getting the rope out of the tree- whoops! We threw one end of the rope over the tree branch, then tied a loop in it and put the other end through and pulled it tight. Immediately after, we thought something like "Gee, how are we going to get that down?" An hour and a half of failed experimenting later, we succeeded with John standing on my shoulders with a long branch with an improvised hook lashed to the end. In the meantime, we met two guys that had made it a day hike out to the arch. One of the guys was an engineer from Detroit working at a Tier II manufacturer. Neat. They took a video of us getting the rope out of the tree- they said they'd email it to us, but no such luck at this time.

Our original plan was to hike around that day and stay the night again at the same site, then hike out the next day and spent the morning seeing some stuff down at the main part of the park before we headed back. However, we'd seen the main attraction in the northwest part of the park. We could hike more on the trail, but we'd really just hike as far as we felt like walking back and then turn around. Not very exciting. In contrast, there was a lot to see down in the southern part of the park. We hiked out. Hey look, a tarantula!

John snapped a pic of me coming up the trail:

I don't remember where this picture was taken, but it's not as impressive as one you'll see later:

We drove from the north part of the park to the south and brainstormed about where to stay that night. John had been to Zion NP before and had some ideas. We also took the opportunity to have some hot food at a Jack in the Box. We started with driving the park road, which includes a neat tunnel carved through the rock in the 1930s. We also rode the shuttle up and down the park road and looked at all the neat sights. Most of the features of Zion are along one main road and we were able to get a lazy-man's tour of the place on the shuttle. Our morning had been spent getting out from our campsite neat Kolob and we'd driven an hour, plus an hour or so on the shuttle... not much time before sunset.

John knew of a free campground not far out from the park's borders that we might be able to get a spot at that night. We found it to be quite busy, even though it is entirely unadvertised and unmarked from the road. It's true that they say- word of mouth is the best advertising. We walked around and tried to meet some other people but most were not so amenable to the idea. We did wander over and join a group of young people who were coming to climb the rock faces of Zion. They were slack-lining, which is an like tightrope walking, only you use a ratchetstrap or some webbing and you sling it two feet over the ground between two trees. It's a skill. I tried it and almost biffed it both times so I called that my college try and let the Serious People have their go. I struck up a conversation with a fellow who was all about natural remedies and solutions, who seemed to use a tincture of basil for everything from deodorant and disinfectant. How 'bout that. One of my goals in life is to be able to talk intelligently about any topic, so I took the opportunity to educate myself a bit more on natural medicine. 

We slept well enough and set out the next morning back to Zion. We had only this morning remaining on our trip and wanted to make the most of it. Since John had been here before, I relied on his expertise when we chose what to do. We decided on Angel's Landing, which is a short hike (around five miles round trip) but with a lot of elevation change. It ends up on the tippety top of a big rock. Sweet. I've got to say, for a short hike, this one exhausted me. The blisters didn't help either. We took a bunch of water and I drank like a sieve. The hike is pretty standard, up the side of the mountain, for the first half or so. Then you hit the back of a big rock and climb several hundred vertical feet in short, steep switchbacks. When you hit the top of that rock, you walk along a narrow ridge with an 800-foot drop on one side and 1000-foot on another. For a short section, it's only three feet wide. Sweet action. Don't look down: 

I met one lady on the trail who was conquering her fear of heights. I'd say this would be a good test! The last section is along a ridge and is moderately treacherous. Although I saw all sorts of people at the top, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a hike for general consumption. There have been nine fatal falls from the trail since 1987. If you're in decent health, though, don't let my warning stop you- there are chains anchored into the rock at all the tricky points for you to hold onto. Just don't do anything stupid. We made it to the top:

John's on the highest point of Angel's Landing there. Note the astonished hiker below. He's wearing pants. If you go in the warm months, don't wear pants. (Wear shorts) I wore my double-layer canvas pants, which are thick and heavy and made for chainsawing in. Don't do that either. And bring lots of water. Better to arrive back at the base station with water to spare and have carried a little extra weight than to run out or have to ration your water and dehydrate yourself. 

The trip back down, predictably, was much easier than the trip up. Once we made it back down into the valley, John and I elected to dip our heads in the cool river water, which was excellent and comes highly recommended to others returning from that trip. After that hike, I was exhausted and not sure that my feet could take much more. Angel's landing is the greatest view in the park which is available to tourists who are not specifically prepared for an expedition. We could have gone on several lesser hikes, but we opted to let that be a suitable 'finish with a bang' to our trip and headed home. 

It's always a bonus to end blog posts with a bang, so here's Shane looking funny:

Image credit for all photos except Shane goes to John Clark.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Buried alive!

We've got TONS of snow here! Yesterday afternoon a snow-laden branch broke off of a tree outside the college house and fell nearly on the man van. Zach, Chip, and I went out to move it out of the neighbor's driveway. Just as we got it into the yard, there was a crack and a snap above us! A branch snapped right off of the other tree were now under. I didn't see it, only heard the shouted warning- I tried to run out from under the tree but slipped and fell on the snow, then hands-and-knees crawled away from the tree and the still-unseen falling branch. Once in the clear I turned and saw the sizable branch laying where Zach had been standing- fortunately, Zach is quick on his feet and got out of the way with time to spare. It scared me, though- the branch could have just as easily have been the one above me.

That night I was over at Flic and Amanda's place last night playing sweet Wii games like Wii Sports Resort, which somebody needs to donate to the ministry. Zach and I left pretty late, around 1AM- and as we walked out the door, the lights went out! Power outage. Ephraim has short outages and flickers pretty frequently, and usually power comes back on within a few minutes. Not so this time. Power was out for a few hours at least. When I drove over, I'd cleared 4-5" of snow off the Camry, and now it had 8" or so on it, just from the few hours I was Wiiing. We went drifting in the Race Camry and didn't get arrested. It was kind of eerie to be drifting around a corner and the whole town is completely dark and unlit. No lights on main street, nothing. Cool, though.

When we got back, we naturally returned to a dark house. I'd left my lighter over at the Thompsons during the week or so I lived there (while my floor was getting done). So, no candles. Fortunately, I am an engineering student. More than that, I am certified and Applied and Practical Nerdery. By this time the power had been out for 30-40 minutes, so who knew when it would come back on again. The first order of business is light, which was provided by a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and a reading lamp, which thankfully has a very long cord:

Of course I could have used the flash to take a decent picture, but then you wouldn't have gotten the idea.

I didn't want my cell phone to be dead the next day if this power outage was for reals, so I rigged my car charger up to an SLA (Sealed Lead Acid [battery]).
I know, scotch tape is not appropriate for electrical use. Just call it Field Expedient Electrical Tape.

It's silly, I know- but the power outage got me thinking, lying there in bed. What if the light don't come on tomorrow? Am I prepared for that? As the maintenance guy for Trigrace, is the cafe ready for that? We're prepared for short term 'blips' of power with a UPS on the computer system, but the furnace doesn't work without power. Neither do the fridges. (Although I just put the potato soup out on the back porch.) The fireplaces in this house have long since been decommissioned. I don't know why this next thought came into my head, but what if the sun didn't come up tomorrow? What if this insignificant power outage was to be how the end times begin for me? Am I ready for that spiritually? Could I handle what that might bring mentally and physically? Sobering. 

Well, the sun did come up this morning, and so did the power, at least for a little while. I was awoken by a call from Chip soliciting help with snow removal. I saw also a text from him earlier saying only "HELP", which probably would have been disconcerting had I not received the call first. Anyway, I prepared myself for the cold, including my waterproof over-socks (read: walmart bags). When I got outside, boy howdy was there snow!

Dadgum. We had a fun time clearing it all. That's not sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek either. We had the proper tools (read: Dingo) and no time crunch. I didn't have to actually manually shovel much because I spent half my time on chainsaw duty. It was mildly disheartening to watch snow continue to fall and accumulate on the surfaces you'd just cleared, but with a lot more of this still to come, we couldn't afford not to clear it. To my great satisfaction, Jamie made breakfast for us (on her gas stove, no power needed). Everyone had a good laugh that I'd freaked myself out wondering if the sun was going to come up this morning. 

Side note: I offered to charge Chip's cell phone from my SLA the same way I did mine. I saw it took the same connector as my phone so I left his car charger there and figured I could just plug it into mine. Well, not so, because the software engineers at VZW are a bunch of jerkfaces. Turns out you can't use any charger but the ones they sell you. I got a screen on the phone saying "UNAUTHORIZED CHARGER" when I tried to use mine. Come on, VZW, five volts is FIVE VOLTS. I went back and got his likely-overpriced VZW car charger and it worked great. Doesn't matter too much, though, 'cos power came back on before it finished.

We always try to help out our neighbors with snow whenever we are able. We had the Dingo taking care of most of our heavy snow, so we could afford to go to a few other houses and clear snow. I spotted a branch fallen across the driveway of our two-doors-down neighbors and grabbed Chip's chainsaw to take care of it. It was still attached quite a ways up, so I was only really able to chop up the lower parts of the branch for easy removal. I discovered halfway through the nobody lives there (it's a history site- Brigham Young or someone stayed the night there once) so I left the chopped pieces for the city to clear. I also cut up a branch that'd fallen next to the LDS missionaries' driveway

Looking farther down the street I spied another downed branch across the sidewalk and walked down to take care of it. Turns out it was also leaning against a police cruiser, but precariously held aloft by a still-attached branch. I carefully cut on the side I wanted it to fall towards and was able to get it all down. The guy who lived in the house next door came out, and it turned out he actually was the officer to whom the cruiser belonged. He was surprised to find out I wasn't a city worker, and was thankful to have his cruiser freed. I discovered that he is also the owner of the possibly-race-prepped-but-at-least-dope-looking Impreza that I see parked on the street there. I left the chopped up bits of tree there for the city again. The guy said his landlord was crazy about firewood so maybe he'll end up with it. He and a young lady that also lives there snapped some pics of the process and kindly sent one to me:

Because of this, I assume that I'm now Totally In with the police in Ephraim, which means I can commit crimes like crazy and get away with it. I'm pretty sure that would only ever apply to snow drifting in the Race Camry, which I'm pretty sure isn't illegal anyway. It's just turning with gusto. 

I returned and we cleared snow some more. I manned the snowblower for a while, which has a ritzy electrically-adjustable snow chute. Fancy. Our old one growing back in MA had a steel rod and a leadscrew.  I hacked up some more trees on our property and finally figured out how the bar lock on a Stihl 034 chainsaw works. 

That's all, you can stop reading now.

P.S. FORGET YOU, SNOWSTORM! You totally ruined any chance of seeing the lunar eclipse last night.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ned's Totally Bombski Potato Etc Soup

Don't worry, if I have this stuff, you do too.

Start by wanting to use the old potatoes you have. Peel and quarter about 4lb of potatoes to the Seatbelts on MP3 player, place in plastic bowl and microwave for a long time. Fetch pot from upstairs kitchen, while upstairs realize the music played in basement is almost as audible upstairs as down. Add a big dollop of Blue Bonnet margarine and some milk to potand turn burner on '2'. Press 'add minute' on microwave several times. Run over to the Thompsons and get onions from 50lb bag in their garage. Take three, then decide a fourth is in order. Return to kitchen and peel and halve onions LENGTHWISE, WITH THE LINES ON THE ONION. Dice according to this technique:

Put diced onions in smaller pot with water and turn burner to HI. Notice burning smell and wonder if it is dust on seldom-used small burner burning off, or microwave frying itself from grossly exceeded unpublished duty cycle. Smell microwave and continue if not smoking. Use a whisk to stir the milk/margarine in larger pot. Run over to MP3 player and turn on Section Quartet to increased cooking tempo. (Seatbelts were too slow) Add random amount of flour to milk/butter mixture directly from the bag and stir for form a roux. DO NOT BURN THE ROUX. Stir frequently and maintain low heat. Once flour is absorbed into roux, add a whole lot more and make it way too thick. Fix problem by pouring some of the now-boiling onion water into roux using whisk to strain out onions. Double win: onions were about to boil over and removing water fixed problem. Stir both roux and onions with arms crossed.

Realize you intended to put celery in this shebang and get celery from fridge. Realize that celery is not very crisp at all, floppy in fact. Use remainder of celery anyway, about five stalks. Chop and add to onion, making smaller pot very very full. The roux will now be simmering, try to stir it continually with one hand while doing whatever else with the other. Add Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning to both pots using large opening. Look in microwave and discover that potatoes are drying out, pull out of nuker and add hot water almost to cover potatoes. Return to microwave and press add minute many times.

Look in fridge for Bonus Ingredients and add what seems right. Example: about 1/5 jar of  sliced jalapeños. Add directly to already-brimming smaller pot. Do dishes while waiting for vegetables in small pot to cook. Peel thift store price sticker off of strainer and wonder how many use/wash cycles that brave sticker has survived. When celery and onions looks like they're kind of cooked, sort of, add entire contents of pot to larger roux pot. Stir vigorously and wonder if pot will be large enough to hold potatoes and their water.

Poke potatoes in microwave with fork to check for doneness. Neglect results. Pour some of the potato water into the pot, then strain the potatoes, discarding remaining water, and add mostly-uncooked but hot potatoes to large pot. Attempt to mash potatoes (and rest of pot contents) with potato masher, but withdraw masher from pot strewn with partially-impaled uncooked potatoes. Stir again and remark how full pot is, resolve to plan better next time. Leave to simmer on medium-low heat and go write blog post while waiting to cook, deem soup 'bombski' before it's even done cooking.

Serves one for a week.

Update: I realized I hadn't included any meat in the soup. Gareth's rule #52 is: "If there's no meat, it's just a snack." I couldn't bear to have my soup relegated to snack status, so I chopped up some breakfast sausage patties and threw those in there. I will update again when the Deliciousness Index of the soup is established.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The ghost of Christmas yet to come

Last episode, I had been to general conference, gone to Texas, made T-shirts, and painted a stripe on my car. I'm glad to report that I still have my T-shirt, the Camry still has its stripe, and I've still been to general conference and Texas. But wait- THERE'S MORE! Here's a preview of what you'll get in the next few action packed episodes of On Distant Shores™, the official blog of Ned Funnell: 

(for maximum effect, read in the voice of a monster-truck-show announcer)

  • Solid Rock appears in the Snow College Homecoming PARADE with a tie-dye themed float!
  • I go backpacking in ZION!
  • Sarah Smith returns from distant shores with tales of ADVENTURE and loci!
  • I do well in the Chili Cookoff with the help of TONY CHACHERE'S CREOLE SEASONING!
    • (There is NO finer seasoning. Use it on everything!)
  • I create a VOLCANO inside Ephraim Church of the Bible!
  • Some friends go out the CHINESE RESTAURANT!
  • I make COFFEE!
  • Solid Rock celebrates Martin Luther's REFORMATION!
  • I make CORNBREAD!
  • A YWAM team comes and we learn a NEATO Indian song from them!
    • Also, we climbed ROCKS!
  • Internationally-renowned musical group SIXTEEN CITIES plays EPHRAIM!
  • Everyone loves grandpa DAVE THOMPSON!
  • I become a DAD!
  • I mourn the loss of my BELOVED Logitech MX620 mouse. :(
  • I bring the TIM-TAM SLAM to America!
  • I celebrate THANKSGIVING with my Ephraim peeps!
  • There is SNOW and DRIFTING in Ephraim! 
  • Ephraim Church of the Bible is in a PARADE!
  • Ephraim Church of the Bible is in ANOTHER PARADE!
  • I start a SIDE BUSINESS!
  • I make a geodesic dome out of an IMPROBABLE MATERIAL!
  • Work begins on my FLOOR!
  • Work finishes on my FLOOR!
  • I make a ten-foot long DESK!
BAM! You'd better strap in for all that EXCITEMENT! 

Okay, enough with the caps and monster truck announcing. I'll bring these adventures to you, a few per post, and hopefully in rapid sequence, over the next week or so. Today's installment brings you bullet point #1. 

Just after my last post, work started on making a parade float for the Snow College Homecoming parade. We always make a point to enter a float in parades as a way to keep the public informed that we are here and active- of course, not all of the community likes the idea of us being here (much less active), so the response isn't always outstanding- but anything that confronts people with Christianity can be used of God. 

The theme of the parade was love, and we had a tie-dye event while we were planning this whole shebang- the natural result is a giant tie-dye heart:

...and also some goofy getups, once the costume box has been unearthed.

Shane and Kim (or is it?) looking festive.

Clarification: I'm not in love with Jamie, just her cooking.


The parade was a success. My part in the float construction was to find a quiet power source for the sound system- although we looked for one of those sweet Honda EU2000i super-quiet generators, what we ended up with a standard loud generator in a box. I made a box out of MDF (particleboard) and put it over the top of the generator. It hardly did anything- you still had to yell to have a conversation. When I lined the inside with fiberglass insulation, though, one could have a conversation only a few feet away with an only slightly raised voice. Success! We could have our (obnoxiously repetitive) music!

The parade was a success. We danced, we waved, we hucked candy and bouncy balls at little kids- all the way through E-town, then back through side streets to get back to the college house to dismantle the float. To get a feeling of what the parade was like, listen to these two twenty times, only skip everything but the choruses: 

I count it a success, but not only in the sense of having made a cool float, chucking candy, and making fools of ourselves. I also call it a success in bringing God glory and reaching the people of Utah. The entire theme of our float was directed at God's love and loving God. Furthermore, we confronted people with the cross. That's significant in Utah in a way that it is not in the rest of the continent. LDS people do not use the cross, it is not their symbol. They don't like it. When my friend Steve received Christ and bought a cross necklace, his then-Mormon wife flipped her lid when she saw it on him. The cross is not a welcome symbol here. By displaying it proudly, we confront people. From my experience, LDS people in Utah are happy to live in a 'bubble', surrounded by Mormons and enjoying the isolation of being surrounded by like-minded people. This existence is not one that will typically generate spontaneous contemplation of truth and eternity. The Holy Spirit can use little things like being startled (and possibly offended) by a giant cross in the parade to work on people.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for the next episode of On Distant Shores™, the official blog of Ned Funnell. (Hopefully tomorrow)