So It’s Been Awhile…..

Has it been a decade already? Fuck I’m old.
Call it a midlife crisis, whatever, figured I’d get the old site back up and running.

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Why You Shouldn’t Fly Air Canada

Let me preface this story with a bit of an explanation, I have very low standards. Really I do. When I fly I expect to be delayed, I expect to miss flights, have issues with security and customs, to have my baggage lost, and even to experience overbooked flights (an assanine practice, but one that is industry wide, and therefore unfortunately unavoidable). Expecting all of this, I judge airlines and my travel experiences based on how they handle these inevitable problems and mistakes.

So with that in mind, let me tell you a story:

Me and the wife were flying to Reno for New Years Eve, on our first flight from Edmonton to Vancouver, Air Canada neglected to send our bags with us, choosing instead to overload the plane with some sort of commercial cargo. Changes to U.S. Security (a whole other post in and of itself), require that your bags travel with you, and be x-rayed/photographed, since our bags were still in Edmonton we could not clear U.S. Security for our next flight until they arrived. At this point we are placed in a side waiting area while Air Canada locates our bags, so far I’m okay with this, a delay that could have been avoided yes, but hey it happens.

They soon realize that our bags will not make it in time for us to get to our next flight, they provide us with documentation explaining this to pass U.S. security, so we can get to our next flight, and our bags can follow behind. At this point we are placed in another room while U.S. border services goes over this new paperwork, I am impressed at this point because an Air Canada rep is waiting just outside to help us to the gate as soon as we clear security. After 20 minutes we clear U.S. security to find no Air Canada rep, I guess he had something else to do.

I do see 3 Westjet employees greeting passengers and shuttling them with golf carts to a nearby gate, and not just old people with walkers who might die without the golfcart ride, no. They are actively asking everyone of any age if they are on the Westjet flight and offering rides. I can find no Air Canada rep. We try the gates, (our flight has now left), including several other Air Canada flights. Not a rep to be found. We return to the security desk where the Westjet employee’s are still happily shuttling passengers and convince the security guard to have someone sends us an Air Canada rep when they pass back through security.

We finally flag down a rep who informs us they are working to book us another flight, leaving 8 hours later, and she provides us with two $10 meal vouchers for while we wait, telling us that this is all she has to offer.

I am not impressed at this point.

We eat our $10 breakfast and wait for the rep to get back to us. Now I have worked customer service for many years, I know how it works, I understand reality, you will not find me randomly screaming at some poor agent. Arriving 8 hours late is not the end of the world, but $20 worth of greasy food does not fix Air Canada’s error. I have no intention of making some poor ladies day more difficult than necessary, I know If I set out a simple and reasonable request it will be much more productive than just screaming randomly. We don’t want one of our friend’s to have to stay sober for 8 extra hours to pick us up from the airport, and you always see those Limo driver’s holding up people’s names at the arrival area….how cool would it be to see our names?

….So I ask for a cab ride or limo ride from the Reno airport to our final destination. Simple enough right? Considering we lost 8 hours each, due to Air Canada’s errors, and our going rate is well over $25/hr that cost us at least $400. A $75 Limo ride isn’t a lot to ask for, throw in a bottle of champagne and Air Canada could have not only won me back, but gained an advocate and this article would be very different.

The first Air Canada rep advises me that this is impossible, Air Canada has no way to book a cab or limo for us, the process simply does not exist. I advise her that I could call the airport as we speak and book a limo, how could a major company not have this ability? I ask to speak to a manager. She begrudgingly radio’s a CSM (Customer Service Manager). Fifteen minutes later the CSM arrives, and informs me that Air Canada has no way to book a limo or cab, I assume she must be joking.

She is not.

I open it up to her creativity and ask if she can do anything else for us (travel voucher, 10% off a flight, coupon to not pay that ridiculous $50/bag fee) Nope. She can’t do anything, and advises us that we did get $10 meal vouchers. I tell her how disappointed I am in Air Canada, that I will never fly with them again, and that I will actively pay people I know to do the same.

 She still has nothing to offer. With our new manual tickets, we fly to Portland where we are to take a United flight (Air Canada’s U.S. partner) to San Fran, and finally Reno. The United rep in Portland informs us that our manual ticket says we are not on her United flight but a US Airlines flight, despite the fact that no US Airline flights are going to San Fran for the next 18 hours. She directs us two terminals over to a US Airlines gate.

 We are pressed for time, we run two gates to US Airlines, where the very very friendly US Airlines Reps inform us that the United rep must be lazy because when you type in the ticket information it clearly comes up as a United flight. Seeing my wife, who is now in tears, they search all their systems in hopes of booking us on a US flight to Reno, to bypass all this trouble, but unfortunately they can’t find none.

Air Canada: 0   United Airlines: 0   Westjet: 1   US Airways: 1

We run back to the original United terminal and lazy agent, where thankfully the United flight we should be on is delayed, and finally manage to get “Oralene” to type in our ticket info. (I’m not joking, that’s her name). Oh yes we are on her flight, it’s overbooked, we’ll have to wait to see if someone will take a travel voucher to go on a later flight. (On a side note: While we were running back from terminal to terminal we past an Alaskan Airlines employee (I think he was a food/caterer guy since he was hauling around those massive steel food trays). Seeing angry me running and crying wife in tow, he wished us a good day in such a genuine, friendly way that I swear I could feel his humanity and soul. I will go out of my way to fly Alaskan Airlines as much as possible because of that guy.)

Air Canada/United Airlines: Still 0 Alaska Airlines: 2

We do eventually make it to Reno, and enjoy our New Years. Our return trip is unfortunately pretty similiar, although we have 10 hours of delays this time, and actually get attitude from 2 seperate Air Canada Reps in the process, when they hear our tale of 18 hours of delays. At this point I’m not expecting any solutions from these Reps, but shelve the attitude at least and do what you can to get us on the way.

So to summarize; Air Canada lost our baggage and delayed us a total of 18 hours each, several agents were bitchy, none were helpful, if we could find any at all. Air Canada is partnered with United Airlines, whose agents are too lazy to type in simple information, (oh yeah United Breaks Guitars too). When given every opportunity to win us back as customer’s they failed to do anything besides give us attitude and $10 worth of food vouchers. Along the way we met agents from several other Airlines, who were providing better service to their regular customers who hadn’t been delayed, and whose baggage they hadn’t lost.

Imagine how well they would have treated customers with difficulties…..Actually don’t imagine, find out yourself, fly anyone but Air Canada or United Airlines. I know I will be.

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Fuck Your Guilt – A 2010 Burning Man Theme Camp

Yep, that’s right, we made our own camp

get more details here: http://houseoexcess.com/?page_id=129

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Spring 2009

Updated the look of this place

Burning Man 2009 is on for sure for the three of us, bought a trailer to fix up for the trip

Working on a massive propane project 🙂

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Back From Burning Man

We are back from Burning Man, for pictures click on “Photo Gallery” to your left.

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Logic Puzzles

Logic Puzzles are up and working. Have fun….

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The Pyro Pages

The Pyro Pages are back up and running, let me know if anything is broken or missing.

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What Went Horribly Wrong…

I lost my very first fight, the reason for this was an extremly powerful and well built robot Named The Village Idiot, sure I made a hell of a lot of mistakes and I’ll share them with you, but when it comes down to it, Bang’s design couldn’t take The Idiot. 

Mistake #1  The Weapon
My first mistake was of course Bang’s design, the basic shape and especially the weapon were flawed. This doesn’t mean that the pick axe can’t one day make a good weapon….just not the way I did it.

To make the Pick axe work it has to spin fast and hard enough to knock the other robot around and physically move it. My motors were not strong or speedy enough to move the axe with that type of force, all I could do was put some small holes in Lexan. To win in competition, you need to inflict and withstand major damage, the successful bots are scary, so much so that their builders are physically afraid of them. If you’re scared to approach your Robot, you’ve got a good weapon… can you imagine standing in front of The Judge?  How about Nightmare when his blade is spinning?

Mistake #2 The Motors
Look through the build reports of The Village Idiot, or any other successful bot, and you’ll see a video, or 2 or 3, of a giddy builder riding his bot around the workshop. This is of course just something really fun to do, but it also shows just how much power is needed….if you can’t ride your bot around without breaking it, your not going to get too far in competition. That goes for any weight class, even lightweights should be able to move your tubby ass around at least slowly My motors couldn’t do this, and if I tried they would have been fried long before competition. Since my drive motors powered my weapon (A huge mistake in it’s self), I had no offensive or defensive capacity. Which brings me to my next point.

Mistake #3 The Armor
I used 1/2 Aluminum plating, this was overkill for my weight class.  1/4  inch would have been fine with some heavier plating by my sensitive electronics, this would have reduced my weight into the lightweight class where I may have survived just a tiny bit longer. Their’s lots more to come but I can only feel stupid for so long before I get bored I’ll up date this more later.

I also used metal angles and bolts (without lock-tite) to secure my panels into a clumsy block shape….this was my biggest mistake.  When The Village Idiot rammed me, the bolts went loose, and the angles bent, my clumsy box shaped body turned into a rombus and everything fell apart, another ramming and my wheels could barely touch the ground.  

A good frame securely fastened is worth it’s weight in gold, or titanium. You should be able to throw your frame off buildings, hit it with hammers, cars, heavy inlaws, and all manor of things, and it should not fall apart or dent enough to effect your robots ability to function.

I’m an Idiot. I saw the problem with loose bolts far in advance, I knew it was a problem…I figured I’d double up on the nuts and tighten everything between fights..(The idea of making it to 2 fights…how naive was I?).

A well planned out, and decently machined body frame with armor is just as necessary as a good weapon. If you see a problem, fix it properly….don’t be like me.

 All the pictures here:

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What ‘Bang’ Cost

All the items weren’t actually used on the final version of Bang, but I bought them and they were probably used on the earlier versions of Bang

Aligator Clips 10/pkg………………………………………………….4.59

6 Channel FM Radio/ Accessories………………………………278.19

2″ Hole Saw…………………………………………………………..17.64

1 5/8″ Hole Saw……………………………………………………..14.64

1 1/4″ Hole Saw………………………………………………………13.05

1/4″ Hole Saw Mandrel Adapter Washer………………………….6.91

9/16″ Hole Saw Mandrel Adapter (Hexagonal)………………….21.11

1″ Hole Saw……………………………………………………………11.54

7/8″ Hole Saw………………………………………………………..10.58

3/4″ Hole Saw…………………………………………………………10.58

1/4″ Hole Saw Adapter (Round)……………………………………11.05

Vantec RDFR 23 Speed Control………(375.08 US)………….480.00
Delivery Charge……………………………………………………….40.00

Receiver Battery Cartridge (Radio)………………………………..10.69

8193 Dremel Grinder 2/Pkg…………………………………………10.14

Jaw Coupling 1/2″ Bore (Qty 2)……………………………………..8.47

Jaw Coupling 3/4″ Bore (Qty 2)………………………………………8.47

Jaw Coupling Rubber Spider (Qty 2)……………………………….5.09

#40 Chain Sprocket 3/4″ Bore (Qty 4)…………………………….40.91

Set Collar 3/4″ Bore  (Qty 9)………………………………………….9.63

Ball Bearing 3/4″ Bore  (Qty 9)………………………………………38.13

6061-T6 Aluminum Plate 1/2″ x 18″ x 24″……………………….235.40

6061-T6 Aluminum Blocks 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ x 3″ (Qty 9)………….39.91
Threaded Holes   (Qty 18)……………………………………………96.30

Sealed Lead Acid Batteries 12 volt 7.0AH (Qty 4)……………….99.98

Battery Charger 800mAH……………………………………………..85.00

Wheelchair Motors/Hubs/etc………………………………………..300.00
Motor Repair……………………………………………………………165.89

BattleBots Entry Fee…………………………………………………..159.89
Postage……………………………………………………………………..7.25

Fuses 20 Amp 3/pkg…………………………………………………….3.19

Inline Fuse Holder (QTY 2)…………………………………………….7.04

Table Saw Cut-off Wheel 10″………………………………………….9.50

Crimp Tool & Accessories…………………………………………….24.73

Black & White Motor Wire 10 Gauge…………………………………3.85

Terminal Kit……………………………………………………………….28.85

Assorted Heat Shrink Tubing (Qty 2)………………………………….6.37

Roller Chain #40 9ft………………………………………………………14.35

Cut-off Disk 4 1/2″…………………………………………………………3.61

#8 Bolts 1 1/2 32/Pkg……………………………………………………..3.47

1/4″ Nylon Lock Nuts (Qty 12)………………………………………….1.62

Flat Stock Aluminum 6063  1 1/2″ x 1/8″ (Qty 3)………………….27.78

Galvanized Pipe 2ft 3/4″ I.D…………………………………………….6.95

Pillow Blocks (Princess Auto) 3/4″ Bore (Qty 8)………………..+76.95
Returned (Qty 7)………………………………………………………..-67.34

Surplus Motors 36volts 3600RPM (Qty 4)…………………………..29.92

12″ Drill Press…………………………………………………………….214.18

C-Clamp 2″…………………………………………………………………..4.44

Hex Bolts 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″ (Qty 20)………………………………………1.97

3/4″ Keyed Shaft…………………………………………………………..25.67

8″ Wheels Plastic Hub (Princess Auto) (Qty 4)……………………..98.40

FM Frequency Chips 2/pkg……………………………………………..64.54

Colson Hi-tech Performa-Wheels 8″ x 2″ (Qty 4)…………………167.59
Delivery Charge……………………………………………………………50.00

Piranha 7.2Volt 1500mAH Battery (Qty 3)…………………………..96.27

Hobico 7.2Volt Chargers……………………………………………….139.08

Toggle Switch 20Amp…………………………………………………..11.59

1/4″  1″ Long Hex Bolts (Qty 2)…………………………………………0.34

420 Dremel Cut-off Disks………………………………………………..8.90

1/4″ Titanium Drill Bits (Qty 2)………………………………………..12.80

5 Lb. Clay Pick Head…………………………………………………….14.96

5 Amp fuses 4/pkg…………………………………………………………1.59

Reflective Tape……………………………………………………………..7.48

1/2″ Split Taper Wheel Bushings (Qty 2)……………………………..12.82

19 Range Multitester………………………………………………………51.08

1″ Steel Square Tubing 3ft =……………………………………………10.68

1/4″ 1″ Long Hex Bolts (Qty 6)………………………………………….1.09

1/4″ 3/4″ Long Hex Bolts (Qty 6)……………………………………….0.90

Hent Shrink Tubing Assorted (Qty 2)………………………………….4.26
           (Qty 2)………………………………………………………………6.40

12 Volt Power Supply…………………………………………………….32.09
115 Volt 8ft Power Cord………………………………………………….4.27

Model “D” Rce200x Digital Switch…………………………………….57.75
Delivery……………………………………………………………………….8.03

Castor Wheels 1 1/2″ (QTY 2)……………………………………………5.91

#8 Nuts 32/Pkg………………………………………………………………3.21

5/32″ Titanium Drill Bit (Qty2)………………………………………….10.66

16 Gauge Wire……………………………………………………………….4.92

4″ Hex Bolts 1/4″ (Qty 6)………………………………………………….1.61

3ft 1/4″ Bright Zinc Chain…………………………………………………4.94

4 Diodes 1N4001…………………………………………………………..4.26

Multicolor Electrical Tape…………………………………………………4.80

8 Terminal Barrier Strip……………………………………………………4.27

6061-T651 1/2″ Aluminum Side & Front/Back Panels……………115.56

Angle Barce 1″ (Qty 24)……………………………………………………9.76

Hex Bolt 1″ (Qty 100)………………………………………………………8.56

Hex Bolt Nuts 1/4″ (Qty 101)……………………………………………..6.48

800mAH 12Volt Battery Charger……………………………………..100.00

1 1/2″ Castor Wheels (Qty 4)……………………………………………11.81

8193 Dremel Grinder (Qty3)…………………………………………….15.22

3″ Hex Bolts BAH 1/4″ (Qty 8)……………………………………………1.71

WD-40 (Qty 3)……………………………………………………………….9.57

Painters Masking Tape……………………………………………………..2.09

Black Gloss Spray Paint (Qty 2)…………………………………………9.76

1/4″ Titanium Drill Bits (Qty 2)………………………………………….12.80

1/4″ Quick Links (Qty 4)…………………………………………………..7.62

1 1/4″ Swivel Castors (Qty 4)…………………………………………….10.66

6ft 1/4″ Threaded Pole……………………………………………………….2.96

Electrical Tape (Qty 3)………………………………………………………3.15

1/4″ x 18″ x 11 1/4″ 6061-T6 Aluminum Plate………………………..53.39

12Volt Sealed Lead Acid 7.0 AH Batteries (Qty 4) …………………..55.60

Total Cost $4,017.33 Canadian
(That’s $2,585.15 U.S.)
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May 18, 2001

After a hectic night of packing last night, and then some more today…we were ready to go and left Edmonton at 2:00pm.

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