Ransom Family

Random Ramblings and Happenings

Carry Me Back to Old Virginny – Again

on December 2, 2010

Andy here:

I just got back from a trip I took this week (Nov 29 – Dec 1) to Virgina. I had to go to the chicken factory I went to back in October. I messed up and we didn’t build everything into this panel that it was supposed to have. Plan A was to send our customer a revised wiring diagram and a new program. Then he’d have the electricians he was already working with make the changes, and I’d talk him through downloading the new program.

That plan started out fine, but … skip ahead if you don’t want any details … there was a problem with these two pumps that supply hot water for production and cleanup. Sometimes only one pump is needed, but the second pump has to come on automatically when the first pump can’t keep up with demand. The idea is to have a pressure transducer monitor pressure and if pressure goes below a setpoint turn on the second pump to supply more water. When two pumps worth of water is too much, the pressure will go above a second setpoint, and the second pump will shut off. The problem was that there was something wrong with the pressure transducer, and we weren’t getting anywhere trying to troubleshoot it over the phone, so I had to go there and find out what was going wrong and fix it.

If you skipped ahead, I’ll sum things up by saying Plan A didn’t quite work out, and so I had to use Plan B, which was to go there. I left Monday morning. I had to take three planes: Pasco to Seattle to Charlotte to Baltimore, which I reached at midnight. Then I had to drive two hours to my hotel, in this town called Woodstock, VA. I got to bed at about 3:30, but it wasn’t that bad because it was only 12:30 Pacific time.

Tuesday morning, we went to the chicken plant. It took an hour or two to figure out that our pressure transducer was no good, and that one of the channels on our I/O card was no good. The good news was that we had a spare transducer, and I had brought a spare I/O card with me just in case. The bad news was that we couldn’t replace anything with the pumps running, and the pumps couldn’t be shut off until clean-up time, which started at 1am.

I had some time to cruise around for a while, and take a couple naps, then I went back to the chicken plant after midnight. By 3am everything was replaced and tested. Mission accomplished!

Wednesday was the day for me to fly home. I had plenty of time to get back to the airport because my plane didn’t leave until 6:30pm. Driving from Woodstock to Baltimore was fairly uneventful. The only trouble was on the Washington DC beltway. There had been a lot of rain, and the two left lanes were blocked by deep water at a certain sharp banked curve. The storm drain must have been plugged up with leaves or something. Traffic was backed up five or six miles, but because of all the curves and little hills there was no way to see how far the backup would last, and I was a little worried that traffic was backed up all the way to Baltimore.

I got to Baltimore and cruised around there for a while. I stopped at Fort McHenry. This is a fort that was built in the 1800’s to guard Baltimore’s harbor. During the War of 1812, British ships attacked the fort, and watching the battle inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner. This was the only place I took any pictures, and they’re not very good. NaDell sent me with the crummy camera.

The first thing I saw when I got there was this larger-than-lifesize naked-guy statue. It says on the pedestal that the statue is dedicated to Francis Scott Key. I wondered if he was the naked guy, and I’m not the only one to wonder that because there was a plaque that said, “you’re probably wondering if this naked guy is Francis Scott Key, but it’s not, this is a statue of Orpheus, the song-writer of Greek mythology.”
Here’s the inside of the fort, and sure enough, “we still had our flag.”

Here’s some cannons that were installed about the time of the Civil War.

These cannons are replicas of the type of cannons that would have been here in 1812. There were once many of these little earthworks around the fort.
Here’s the view from ‘o’er the ramparts’, some of Baltimore’s harbor. In the distance is the Francis Scott Key bridge. I didn’t drive on that bridge. Instead, I drove through the Ft. McHenry Tunnel, which passes somewhere between that grass and those ships.

It was windy (even by Tri-Cities standards) and cold so I didn’t stay out there long. Then I made my way back to the airport. I only had to ride two planes: Baltimore to Denver to Pasco, and you can’t do much better than that.

The plane rides were uneventful, except for there was something wrong with the first plane. You know that loud noise that chimes when the pilot turns on the seatbelt light. Normally it chimes once and that’s it. On this plane, it chimed over and over the whole time the stewardess was talking on the PA, and it nearly burned a hole in my brain. I guess it was better than the plane crashing, but not by much.

All in all, another successful trip. I fixed the problem (naturally it would have been better if the problem hadn’t been my fault). Nothing bad happened to me. Nothing bad happened at home while I was gone. As an added bonus, I got out of having to help with Christmas decorations.

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2 responses to “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny – Again

  1. Juwmama says:

    Hey, I just read a book (fiction) that was set in Woodstock, VA. Funny. Loved the pictures! NaDell and I should have coordinated . . . I was a single mom this week,too. JULIA

  2. Mary says:

    Always great to hear from you Andy. Maybe you need your own blog… You could call it "Andy's Adventures". Glad the planes got to you there and back safely.

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