September 13th, 2002
Day 149

Start: GrandRapids, MI
Finish: Grand Rapids, MI

Miles Today: 20
Miles to Date: 13760
Trooper Mileage: 182681

No pictures today - spent most of it in the facilities of a private company, and they frown on stuff like that.

Bob works for Smiths Aerospace, so I went over and had lunch with him and a tour of the facility.

Smiths Aerospace makes a number of commercial and military aviation products, amongst them the "black box" flight recorders (which are actually bright orange). I also had a sort of interview with one of their managers, so this counts as a job-search contact for the unemployment people.

For you techies out there, the new flight data recorders store everything on flash memory. There are essentially no moving parts and are tested to an impact force of 622 G's. For those of you who are not techies, this means they are just really, really tough.

They also do stuff with missiles. A few guys had Stinger missile launch rails (the helicopter mounted type, not the shoulder launchers) set up in their work space, looking out over the cubicle tops. Bob said they were testing some of the ranging systems across the building to the far wall.

Q - "Gee honey, what did you do at work today?"

A- "Oh, not much, just aimed missiles at my boss's office."

Ah, we can only dream.

While on the road, I've been reading - some good stuff, like Hemingway, and some pulp too. But one thing I've really enjoyed is a book on tape, "Travels with Charlie" by John Steinbeck, that was given to me as a 50th birthday present by a family friend, Jean Goldberg. Mr Steinbeck and I seem to have shared some similar experiences places seen, people met, camping adventures and mis-adventures, and "vehicular issues" - although I'm not traveling with a standard poodle named Charlie, so I don't find myself having long conversations with a dog. He writes more about the new people he as met than I do - I should probably do more of that. If I ever make this into a book, I'll have to do that. But, Steinbeck's tone is light and humorous, in a manner that I try to present here. Of course, he is a master, and I'm certainly not comparing my humble ruminations to his wonderful work.