Thoughts on Being Adopted

This coming April 24th I will be celebrating my 30th birthday.  I can’t believe it’s happening, but it is… and with it, the new shine off this old pup will be gone.  Undeniable adulthood… oh the horror!

As I think about it, I can’t help but think about my natural mother and the fact that I am sure she’ll be thinking and wondering about me as the day draws nearer.  For those of you that don’t know, I was adopted at birth and have known about it since I was really young.  I have always been pretty open and candid about being adopted and my mom and dad have always been open with me in regards to it as well.  My mom even asks me once in a while if I have ever thought about attempting to try and meet my natural mother, and I always tell her that I will in time I am sure… but only when it feels right.

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Speaking of Launches…

The Space Shuttle Discovery launched yesterday… a complete surprise to me as the media seemed to completely ignore it for the most part.  It’s frustrating how the media swings from ambivalence to persecution of the shuttle program depending on the day… ignoring it until something goes wrong, then jumping all over the underfunded program with aging equipment.  All my hopes are with the crew though… and I wish them the best of luck over the coming week.

I am glad the private sector is getting involved with space travel though. If we had to rely solely on NASA, I’d be worried.

Another launch that happened this week was the new Daniel Webster College website.  Over the past 6 months, I have been designing new print materials for the admissions department and the branding has been migrating into other departments.  To refresh the web presence and make it align better with these materials, the Marketing Department was tasked with pulling the design into the web.  As of last Thursday, the resulting site became live and can be found at http://www.dwc.edu

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The primary layout for the pages and graphics were developed by me and DWC webmaster Tyson Sukeforth built the underlying code and pulled it all into the current hybrid content management system… no small task at all.  I am really happy with the result and hope that our constituents like it better than the orange design which had been a creation of mine as well back in 2004.

On the environmental front here in AZ today, we had some pretty strong winds… strong enough to kick up a dust storm that lasted all day and obscured our view of South Mountain. These same winds originated from the high pressure dome that’s sitting over Colorado… the same system that is driving the horrid Santa Ana winds that are fueling the terrible forest fires in Southern California.

The apartment community threw the tenants a catered BBQ tonight with ribs and fixin’s from Famous Dave’s BBQ in Chandler. I was really surprised that the turnout was as big as it was (as most other events within the community have really poor attendance). It was good to meet some of our neighbors and have some great food at the same time.  I was even surprised to meet (and have dinner with) a gentleman who moved to the area this past Spring after being hired by USAirways as a Airway and Route Planner/Analyst… and he did say they were hiring (hint hint to my friends looking for aviation work). 

For those of you looking for my contact info (phone and address), it’s just as simple to jump over to my homepage at http://www.ryankeough.com and click on “Contact”… all of the info is there if you need it (including the new cell number).

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I Love the Smell of Jet-A in the Morning

Today turned out to be an interesting adventure.  I was invited to lunch with some friends at Cutter Aviation today and got a chance to go inside a Boeing 707 Corporate Jet… actually, this bad boy:

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I was actually pretty surprised to see it on the ramp.  For those of you who are not so aviation-oriented, the 707 was the first real jet airliner and those that remain flying are some of the oldest passenger jets in the skies.  A 707 derivative, the KC-135, is a re-engined 707 still used as an aerial refueler by the USAF and ANG.

So this plane, N88ZL, is a real-honest-to-god-kerosene-burning-honkin-retro-rocket outfitted with a full executive interior.  It’s got the original Pratt & Whitney JT3D engines… without hushkits!  I didn’t get to see it take off, but I am sure the denizens of the Phoenix metro heard it for about 30 minutes after taking off… these things are LOUD. 

I was really surprised on the interior.  It had three stateroom bedrooms, a dining room, a full galley, a living room, and two full bathrooms with showers… had lots of room to say the least.  However, it’s decoration was a bit a dated… something like a high class late 70′s look.  I guess when you burn a quarter of a million dollars in gas in a month, it might be hard to have some cash left over for some paint and spackle.

Evidently this particular plane sees service all over the world… I did a search for the N-Number and there are photos from Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.  Somewhere in it’s travels it fell on some bad luck it seems

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Oops, off-roading in a speedbird… not exactly stellar there ol’ chap! This was taken by someone at Hamilton, Ontario… evidently Jon Bon Jovi was a passenger on this adventure.

I wish I could have taken some of my own photos… perhaps next time.

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Trip to South Mountain

One of the best parts about living in the Phoenix area is the fact we are surrounded by these beautiful rugged mountains.  To the North are the McDowell Mountains; to the East are the Superstition Mountains; to the West is South Mountain and the Sierra Estrella range, and to the South is pretty much open land to Tucson.  To many who have flown into or visited the Phoenix area, South Mountain is one of the easiest to recognize landmarks — day or night.  At the top of South Mountain is a huge outcropping of Television and communications towers… which looks like a bundle of red Christmas lights at night.

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Not my photo – from this link.

South Mountain is also home to one of the hidden secrets of the area… the South Mountain Preserve.  Accessible only via Central Street right on the edge of Phoenix, you have to actually know where you are going to find the entrance.  It’s located behind a huge commercial street (Baseline Road) and has few signs directing people to it.  It’s in a bit of a shady part of the city… but not as bad as some.

One of the other cool things about the park is the fact that there is a fairly easy driving road to the top of the mountain.  Even better is the fact that the drive is free of charge.  The access road and all the overlooks were constructed back in the 30′s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the native stone structures in the rest areas and overlooks are very indicative of their work in other parks (Yellowstone, Letchworth Park in NY, etc).

The road is pretty narrow and has some VERY steep drop offs.  Due to the fact that I was driving our Jeep Liberty, I wasn’t able to get any good photos of this part, but the next time I visit, I will make sure to get some.

Here are some photos from the Dobson overlook… (click on images for larger).

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That is Phoenix downtown.

IMG_0004  A closer shot of downtown (no smog today)

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One of the overlook shelters (these are quite cool)

IMG_0008  Another shot of the shelter.

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Lil and I… it was really windy at the top.

One of the strange things I saw… which seems to be common in the area, is the fact there are “squatter” trinket vendors all over the outlook area.  They will take a blanket, attach various “Native American” crafts or jewelry to it, and spread it out in a parking space at the top.  Though the rules of the park forbid this, it is clearly not enforced.

We decided to travel to the other outlook by the towers at a later time as we wanted to pick up a few things at the store. It was a good little diversion that’s only about 15 minutes from the house, so we will certainly be back!

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