Posted by mike d. Filed in family

Here we go!

The Rings:
The Rings

The Main Attraction:
The Main Attraction

A Perfect Tie Dimple:
PerfectDimple

The Wedding Party in its entirety:
The Wedding Party

More tomorrow!

Posted by mike d. Filed in Quickthoughts

I will begin posting tomorrow. We have 800+ pictures which were narrowed down from the original 2000+. I’ll pick out some favorites and post them during the week. Stay tuned!

Nov
26

Houston

Posted by mike d. Filed in Quickthoughts

Bear

Just another business trip to Houston.

Nov
21

Chicago

Posted by mike d. Filed in Quickthoughts

photo (2)

Just another business trip to Chicago.

Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

As I wait for the wedding pictures to come in from our esteemed photographers, I thought I’d take this time to share with you my recent adventure at -109°F.

For my birthday this past year my folks gave me a Soda Stream! As a passionate seltzer drinker, the soda stream is a soda dream. Custom carbonated water on demand is surprisingly convenient. Jen and I drink seltzer every night with dinner, so it really makes cents… or does it?

The machine operates using CO2 cartridges. Each cartridge claims to produce 60Liters of carbonated beverage. For Jen and me, this quantity is likely inflated because we are generous, some might even say profligate, with our bubbles. But for the sake of math, let’s presume the 60L thing works out.

At the local grocery store, we can get two liters of setlzer for $0.89. That’s a mere 44.5cents a liter. Frankly, the fizz fades furiously once one opens the orifice – but still, that’s cheap! Soda stream refills run about $15/canister. That’s $0.25 per liter. A savings of 19.5 cents per liter!

With a $100 price tag on the machine and the price of the refills, it would require ~360 liters to break even after initial investment. Better than the store brand? yes. Much better? no.

Now if only there was a way to refill one of these canisters myself.

ENTER: DRY ICE.

I did some research online. While many lauded the use of paintball gun refilling methods, I was hesitant because of the whole ‘food grade’ thing. While CO2 is CO2, I was worried about the oils used in lubrication of the paintball CO2 valves. There was, however, a video online that suggested the use of Dry ice to refill the canisters. Dry ice is the solid form of CO2. It is safe for food and except for the fact that it’s so cold it burns to the point of disfigurement. (Fun Fact: Dry ice is about -109°F)

No problem!

The plan would be to partially fill the empty canisters with dry ice. As the temperature of the canister stabilized, the dry ice would melt under pressure into liquid CO2. When that liquid was released into water it would rapidly depressurize into gas. Ta-da! Seltzer!

I decided to give it a shot.

Tools: meat tenderizer, wrench, gloves, dry ice, vise grips

Tools: meat tenderizer, wrench, gloves, dry ice, vise grips

I have two canisters, making refills extra convenient. I picked up 5lbs of dry ice at a local ice store for $11.99 and the adventure began!

This is what 5lbs of dry ice looks like.

This is what 5lbs of dry ice looks like.

First, I used a release valve on the side of the canister to make sure that both canisters were completely empty. Next, I used a vise and a wrench to unscrew the valve atop the bottle.

Dryice3

dryice8

Next, I put on my safety glasses and thermal gloves, covered the ice with a dish towel and smashed it to pieces.

Bam.

Bam.

Dryice5

Admittedly, I thought that the dry ice would be cold enough not to stick together. I imagined it pouring from a cup like dry sand. Such was not the case. It clumped up like snow.

This was completely useless for pouring.

This was completely useless for pouring.

This made my make-shift paper funnel completely improbable. Even with a plastic funnel I had to jam the dry ice into the hole using a skewer.

Note: Failed paper funnel on the counter.

Note: Failed paper funnel on the counter.

I filled each container up to about 50% full. Then capped ‘em.

For the most part, this was not a frightening endeavor. HOWEVER, it sketched me out a bit that after I finished filling them, both containers frosted over somethin’ fierce. This isn’t surprising because dry ice is COLD. Yet it freaked me out enough to isolate the canisters in the garage and wait inside while the canisters warmed up.

Once the canisters were room temp, I transported them gingerly to the condo where we installed the first of the two canisters into the soda stream. I depressed the switch… and FIZZ! Beautiful fizz at half the price!

Things I would do differently:

1. At the ice store where I purchased the dry ice, 5lbs was the minimum. I really only needed 4lbs for two canisters. For my next refill adventure, I will most certainly be seeking other dry ice vendors.
2. $12 for this is CRAZY EXPENSIVE. As a comparator, my quick online searches suggest that I should be able to get dry ice for about $1/lb. See #1.
3. I need to improve my crushing method. Dry ice went everywhere. It was hard to contain underneath the towel. Apparently you can order dry ice in 0.25″ pellets – this would be awesome. See #1.
4. I should have weighed the canister before I started so I’d know precisely how much dry ice to add. I wrote above that I filled each to about 50%. It was probably closer to 75%, but I had no precise gauge. As we all know Pv=nRT. If you add too many Moles (n) your pressure could be higher than the defined limit of the container – this could lead to trouble (i.e. exploded canisters). This is why I let my canisters warm up in the garage far away from my body. If I had weighed the containers when they were new I would have been able to closely approximate the moles of CO2 (~44grams per mole for dry ice). I was reassured however by the release valve on the canister. I figure if I added too much, that release valve would have failed and the results would not have been catastrophic.
5. I had/have mild concerns about the O-ring in the container. With the excessive cold of the dry ice I worried about the failure of the o-ring a la the Challenger. When we finish consuming the fizz, I will carefully inspect the o-ring and report back.

Posted by mike d. Filed in family

At 2:30pm, with Jen tucked away in a preparation room, the guests began to arrive. We had about 50 people total, and as they arrived I greeted them, gracious but nervous about the upcoming event.

Just a tad bit nervous

Just a tad bit nervous

Alicia began playing her flute around 2:30. Shortly thereafter, mugs of apple cider in hand, family began to take their seats by the Pergola.

Seats

And right at about 3pm, Steve, Michelle (our officiant), and I headed to the Pergola to await the bride.

to the pergola!

Also, how epic is this Pergola?

Positions everyone, positions.

Positions everyone, positions.

Noah, our faithful MC/music guy, started up the processional: Air on a G String – J.S.Bach

My folks walked down the aisle first, followed by Jen’s mom and brother, Kelly (the maid of honor – heretoafter “MoH”), and finally Jen escorted by her Dad.

The Parents D.

The Parents D.

Mom G and Bro G.

Mom G and Bro G.

The MoH in all her red glory!

The MoH in all her red glory!

Here comes she!

Here comes she!

The Meet

The Ceremony was fast and furious. It started with a brief story by Michelle where she described her and Noah’s frequent attempts to get us hitched. Then, a first reading by my sister T ‘The Art of Marriage’ by Wilferd Arlan Peterson

The Art of Marriage

The little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands.

It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry.

It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through all the years. It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.

It is standing together facing the world. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.

It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.

It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have wings of an angel. It is not looking for perfection in each other.

It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. ?It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.

It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. ?It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal. ?

It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.

—–

Our second reading was read by Jen’s sister Kati: Celebration by Carl Thitchener

Celebration

We celebrate the love that brought you to this day.

With love that deepens through many years, may you know its meaning and its mystery – how we become truly one in sharing ourselves with one another, and yet, remain truly two in our own uniqueness.

May your house be a place of happiness for all who enter it, a place where the old and the young are renewed in each other’s company, a place for growing, a place for music, a place for laughter.

And may those who are nearest to you and dearest to you constantly be enriched by the beauty and the energy of your love for each other.

—–

Next, we read our vows:

[insert name] I take you to be my (wife/husband), my best friend, and my future. Whatever lies ahead, good or bad, we will face it together. Today I take my place as your (husband/wife). Please accept this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness.

—–

THEN, Michelle made it real and it was the kiss the bride part.

smooch

smooch

Bam! Married!

ta da!

ta da!

Posted by mike d. Filed in family

Jen and I stumbled across The Wadsworth Mansion during one of our frequent Connecticut exploration adventures. She and I got our hands on an insider’s guide to CT, and the Wadsworth Mansion (and the accompanying falls) were on the list.

Mansion1

(That’s totally their professional promotional photo.)

The Mansion was built in the early 1900′s, designed by Francis Hoppin. It was built in much of the same style as some of the Newport Mansions with a greater focus on the landscape. Trees were planted in mass to visually support the structure and its surroundings. This was extra awesome for our event what with the trees in full regalia.

Foliage

The Wadsworth family owned and operated the estate until Colonel Clarance Wadsworth died in 1942. After this point the estate changed hands from the state, to a catholic institute, to a private developer. After a fire in 1990 the property was stagnant for a bit, but finally landed in the hands of the town of Middletown in 1994 where it was renovated for a grand opening in December of 1999.

Inside the mansion there are two ballrooms and a dance area as prime people places, with a bar off the kitchen and a beautiful terrace off the back framed in Hydrangeas. Upstairs? Some rando accounting or insurance firm. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to work here daily?

We decided to use one ballroom as a dining room with the other as a reserve for the ceremony in case of rain with the center area as a dancing spot.

Our layout for the wedding

Our layout for the wedding

The inside was decorated all fall-y with pumpkins at the bar, fall colored flowers everywhere, and red napkins.

inside

The organizers were very friendly and pleasant to work with. Setup went smoothly and we really didn’t have any major disruptions to the plan. I’m pleased with our venue choice.

1385900_657330264299983_1865380355_n

Posted by mike d. Filed in family

Thursday

Four days before the wedding Jen got a call from the Wadsworth. The wedding planned for the night before ours had purchased a pergola for use.

Pergola: noun An archway in a garden or park consisting of a framework covered with trained climbing or trailing plants.

As the structure would take some time to deconstruct, and they really didn’t want to have to take it apart Sunday morning, they asked us if we’d like to use it. It was a good looking structure.

The picture sent to us, showing the pergola.

The picture sent to us, showing the pergola.

Jen and I agreed that it’d be nice to use, though the offer came with a warning. The structure was setup about 100 feet further away from the mansion than we wanted. That means we’d have to move it.

Saturday

Once the pergola was set up by the preceding wedding, Pat, T, and I went to the mansion to check out the structure and see how hard it would be to move. That pergola? 12 feet tall, ~8feet long. i.e. HUGE. I admitted that this would be too challenging to move, but Theresa, perhaps enamored by its beauty, encouraged us to reconsider. After a brief discussion, we agreed to give it a go.

I didn’t want to take any chances, so I asked that our Pergola team report to the Mansion at 9am on the day of the wedding.

The Pergola Team:
Mike D
Steve
Tree
Pat
Dad D
Jay

Sunday

Sunday morning, after an episode of star trek, I loaded up the car with some tools. Steve stopped by and we headed to the mansion. T brought coffee and doughnuts.

Tree ready for action

Tree ready for action

Steve, analyzing the construction.

Steve, analyzing the construction.

First task: remove the ornamentation

Pergola3

Second task: we had no idea.

We had two guesses for moving this thing. The columns were hollow, so the first idea was to lift the columns up and carry the structure as a whole. This didn’t work as there were significant stakes in the ground beneath the columns.

Our second idea was to lift the top structure off the columns, and then move the columns individually. We had four ladders, and at their highest A frame height we were able to just barely lift the structure. The problem here was that we were extremely unstable on the ladders. There was high risk for disfigurement.

Steve directing we, the peons, in our top off method

Steve directing we, the peons, in our top off method

We struggled with this for about an hour before Dad D recommended we remove the top cross members to lighten the burden. The annoying part, and why we didn’t try this out of the gate, was that the pieces were secured with torx head screws and we didn’t have the right tools.

After discussion, we agreed with Dad D and Steve and I went off to Home Depot to buy the a set of Torx head screw drivers. This was much quicker than driving home.

Pergola5

Once we’d decided on this method, the deconstruction went pretty quick.

Pergola6

Lifting off a column

Lifting off a column

Measure!

Measure!

Please note the extremely large stakes that were used to secure the pergola columns.

Repositioning and Rebuilding begins

Pergola9

Dad D and Jay, hammering in the stakes

Dad D and Jay, hammering in the stakes

Columns up! Top cross sections going on!

Columns up! Top cross sections going on!

Final Construction

Yes, once we figured out what to do it was a quick process but with so many failed attempts, the process ended up taking 4 hours for 6 people. What an endeavor!

We were extremely glad to have taken on the task. The Pergola was a beautiful structure and in retrospect was a very fun distraction from pre-wedding stresses.

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