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I’ve been in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin for the last couple of weeks getting trained up on the Cray XT4 clustered systems. Now I’ll be flying back to Butte, MT to spend a few days with Roberta and the girls and then I’ll be headed for Oak Ridge National Labs to help Maintain Jaguar for 3 weeks or so. Jaguar is currently the 2nd fastest computer in the world at 101.7 Teraflops.  Kinda neat to think about.

 After Oak Ridge I’ll be headed back to Butte for another visit then off somewhere else. It kind of sucks, but it’s what needs to be done while waiting for the UK work visa to come through.  at least I’ll get to spend some time with Roberta and the girls between each assignment. I’m hoping this doesn’t last too long like this, it get’s tough after a while.

I was thinking I would start off at NERSC, but things changed in the last week  and instead I may be headed there next.  This does give me an opportunity to see Darrin and Yvonne, who still live in Clarksville, TN and I haven’t seen in 5 years or so.

I’ve already given D a shout out and found out that he’s offered me his modded CBR600RR for the Friday track night. 1/8 mile drag racing. Wooo Hooo! Down the track I’ll go! Being only a 1/8 mile I’ll be lucky to tag 100 mph, but I’ll get their quick.  Hard part will be keeping the nose down as I’m grabbin gears. It’ll be interesting to see how the bike handles. Whether it’s like my Yamaha R6 was or not.  He’s replaced the stock pipe, added a power commander, trimmed it up a bit and a few other minor changes. It’s gonna be fun fun fun!

I wonder if Cray would be mad if I broke half my bones before headed for Scotland? Hehe.. Let’s not find out.

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While up in Montana, just before heading to Chippewa Falls, WI, the girls, Roberta, Dorathy, Ronda, and I went to Yellowstone park for the day.

 It’s about 180 miles each way down to the park, so it made for a fairly long ride. We stopped on the way to check out some of the other sights.  Here the girls are playing at the river.



We came in the west entrance, stopping at subway en route then ate lunch picnic style near the Madison river in the park itself. 


Then we proceeded to head south towards Old Faithfull, stopping at the sights along the way.


The girls posing next to one of the hot pools.

We made it down to Old Faithfull just after it had erupted so we had an hour or so to mess around. After getting an ice cream and sitting for a minute we walked around and I saw the camera’s up in a tree and a light came on. That’s the Old Faithfull Webcam! So I grabbed the girls and called Lynn and Chuck back in Monterey, CA and told them to find the web site. Then the girls and I started waving. It only updates every 30 seconds or so, but they found the page and saw us waving at them. It was great. Afterwards there were probably half a dozen people all on their cell phones calling friends and family to do the same thing.  It was a kick.

In the week between driving up from California and heading off to Wisconsin we had a little bit of time to do some site seeing.

 Butte Montana: Butte is a small town that got it’s fame mining the “Richest Hill on Eath.” It’s estimated that over 1/3 of all Copper mined in the US during the 19th and 20th centuries, came from the mines in Butte.


Sign overlooking the town.


Yes that sign says, 1Mile High, 1 Mile deep. Butte is at about 6000ft, or over a mile above sea level, and the shaft that drops down below the headframe is over a mile deep.

What happens when you mine a hillside for over two centuries? Well, this.


It’s a waste land of torn up ground, headframes, and debris. The water in Berkely pit lake is so toxic that when a large flock of geese decided to use it as a stop over point, well, 340+ of them died. ARCO decided to say it was because of their diet. Not! Acidic water and poisons killed them. Now Berkely Pit is one of the Superfund cleanup sites because it’s so toxic.

Berkely Pit lake

Sadly all the mining wasn’t just hard on the environment.

On the afternoon of June 8th, 1917 the worst metal mining disaster in history took place in Butte, MT. What became known as the Granite Mountain Disaster.  168 men lost their lives that day. A new power cable was being lowered into the shaft when a miners helmet light touched the sheath covering the wire and caught it on fire, setting the mine shaft ablaze. Trapping the men and killing them thousands of feet below the surface.

Well, it seems that the UK immigration can be as nasty and bureaucratic as the US immigration department. They have denied my work visa on the claims that Cray did not properly advertise for the position with a UK based advertising firm. It seems that advertising in HPCWire  and the other places just wasn’t good enough.

 So, what does this mean for me. Other than I’m not going to the UK any time soon. It means that Cray now has to readvertise for the position for a minimum of 7 day with a UK based advertising firm, then wait an aditional 28 days minimum to see if anyone qualified puts in a submition. Only after all that can they then resubmit my visa application paperwork.

 It was a real fun conversation last night when I told Roberta this. We’re now at least 60 days out if not more like 90.  We have no furniture, no dishes, no house.  Guess how many furnished places there are to rent in Butte MT? Not many. (-;

We’ll get through this. It’s just a bump in the road. Cray isn’t dropping me, which is a good thing. They are going to try again, and probably with a different visa firm this time. My new boss is less than happy. I’ll be finishing up training here in Chippewa Falls, WI, then I’ll probably swing through Butte to see Roberta and the kids on my way down to San Jose, CA for BlueArc training for a week or so. Then maybe to NERSC to help support that site for a while.



If you’ve read the webpage lately  you’ll know we made it to Montana. It was fairly uneventfull, fairly.

 The first day went okay. We hit some ugly traffic outside of Sacramento. Other than that the first day was pretty smooth. We tried to make the town of Elko Nevada but ended up stopping  in Winnemucca Nevada. We stayed the first night in a Holiday Inn Express. All in all I was happy. $150 roughly for the five of us and the dog. The girls got some swimming in and there was a fairly decent breakfast the next morning.

 The second day of our travels was a tad more interesting. We stopped for some icecream at the McDonalds in Elko. It was really hot running through the desert. Stopping in Elko was a terrible mistake. There must be some pretty serious lead, arsinic, radioactivity, or something in the water there. Picture Deliverance, and then subtract another 20 IQ points. You’ll get close. I was so glad to get the hell out of that nasty little town, I’m just glad we didn’t stay the night there.  If you ever have a chance to go there, don’t.

We kept going through the desert and got almost to the Idaho border. As we pulled into the small town of Jackpot Nevada my serpentine belt spun off, literally as I was slowing from 65 to 35 as we entered the town. Checking the engine showed that the 4 bolts holding the fan assembly to the water pump had worked themselves loose and tossed the belt. 15 minutes later and I have the truck running again thanks to the tool kit Chuck gave me. The belt was pretty tore up but still in one piece. We had a choice, have Roberta and the girls make a run to Twin Falls Idaho for the belt and come back with it, 90 miles round trip, or hit the road and hope the belt held till we got to Twin Falls. Jackpot had NO auto parts stores. Well we took our chances and away we went, and made it. Whew.

I changed out the serpentine belt in the parking  lot of the parts store and on we went. We finally made Butte, MT at about midnight, but we made it. A lot of smoke and ash in southern Montana, I think half the states on fire. All in all we made just over 1150 miles in two days with the girls and the dog. Not bad time considering.


Saying goodbye to Lynn and Chuck. The hardest part of the move. You won’t find better people than them. They are the best and the girls just absolutely love them.


Packed and ready to go. Everything we own fit in the back of my truck and in the Jeep. Scary.


Taking a break just across the Nevada border.


Not much too see going though Nevada, a lot of desert.


The face of an Adventurer. Molly playing with the camera.

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September 2007
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