I almost titled this “My 4th of July was better than you’re 4th of July” but thought better of it.

So I realize that it has been awhile since I last posted on this blog…OK, ‘awhile’ is an understatement, the first two posts were in April 2007 and there has been nothing since then.  But I figured I’d try a making a new post and see if maybe this helps drive traffic.   Using keywords like “fireworks”, “ordinance”, “explosives”, & “Benihana” should help me in the Bing search results.  

My July actually started out in mid-June when as a combined Birthday & Father’s Day gift, my wife & Son got me the “You Be The Chef” experience from Benihana.   In my travels as a Premier Field Engineer, I’ve somehow managed to dine at nearly every Benihana that has been near any of the customer sites I’ve visited.   I nearly always get the same thing:   an Ala-Carte Hibachi Chicken, an Ala-Carte Hibachi Chateaubriand, and 2 orders of the Chicken Fried Rice.   I’m not a fan of veggies, shrimp, or the soup (I’m told they are great at Benihana, I just avoid those things in general), so ordering ala-carte allows me to only get what I want, avoid wasting food that I won’t eat, and saves quite a bit on the bill.    For the “You Be The Chef” everyone at the table received “Land ‘N Sea” and we added the Chicken Fried Rice.    On the afternoon of June 30th, I arrived at my local Benihana for my training.   I spent about 90 minutes with my chef who helped me learn the finer points of providing The Benihana Experience to my guests, this included the right way for preparing the shrimp appetizers, the steak, the scallops, the fried rice, as well as proper use of the spatula, fork, and knife.   I also was able to practice flipping the shrimp tales into my hat.   This is not only much harder than it looks, but at 6’3”, I was a bit taller than the bottom of the range hood and had to work extra hard to get the shrimp tale all the way to the top of the hat.    I returned the following evening (July 1st) with my wife, my son, and my mother so that I could cook the dinner for the 4 of us.   Everyone said that I did a great job with the presentation and the cooking, though to be honest, with the high quality of the ingredients that they use, it would be extremely difficult to have had it taste anything but fabulous.    Pictures of the event are posted at my SkyDrive.

My July continued being great because of this blog post that I ran across in May.   I was able to assist with the setup of the 4th of July Fireworks Show at the Des Moines marina, which is about 30-minutes from my house.    We worked for about a half-day on July 3rd getting the pier prepared for the fireworks by setting up the mortars and such, and then all day on July 4th loading the ordinance into the mortars and wiring the mortars and the other fireworks up to the firing board so that Greg could shoot the show.    We had many mortars as well as boxes called “cakes” which are pre-configured with various types of explosives similar to those little multi-shot boxes you’d find at a fireworks stand, only these are much larger with many more rounds.   Once we had finished testing all of the connections, we patiently waited until it became dark and the show could start a little after 10PM.    I’ve posted my still pictures of the event here, and the two videos I took are here (two of the three videos are mine, the third is one that Greg took) and embedded below.

Here is my tour of the Fireworks Pier after we finished setup:

My video from the shore during the fireworks show:

And what has to be one of the most amazing camera angles was this one that Greg took with a camera that was next to the 3” mortars and looking skyward as the fireworks went off all around it:

 

So while I can’t say “My 4th of July was better than your 4th of July” and have it be true 100% of the time, my July has definitely stated off with a bang.   My July will conclude with me attending a week-long class on Microsoft Forefront Protection Suite (FPS) (formerly known as Microsoft Forefront Code Name “Stirling”) in Redmond, WA, and delivering a Windows Server 2008 Directory Services workshop in Portland, OR.   I will endeavor to post a bit more frequently, especially as things like Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 reach RTM.

And for anyone wondering…YES, I still have all 10 fingers attached where they belong.   There were zero injuries sustained at either Benihana or the 4th of July show.   The chef was good about teaching me the proper way to prepare the meal safely and Greg was the consummate professional when it comes to the safe setup, handling, and discharge of fireworks.