Slide Rules, Logarithms, and Compute Servers

If any of you have been to PADT’s headquarters in Tempe, Arizona, you probably noticed the giant slide rule in the middle of our building.  You can see a portion of it in the picture below, at the top of our Training, Mentoring, and Support group picture.

PADT-TechSupport-Team-Prop

This thing is huge, over 6 feet (2 m) from side to side, in its un-extended position hanging on the wall.

In theory a gigantic slide rule could provide more accuracy, but our trophy, a Kueffel & Esser model 68 1929 copyrighted 1947 and 1961, was intended for teaching purposes in classrooms.  Most engineers had essentially pocket size or belt holder sized slide rules, also known as slip sticks. 

For the real thing, here is a picture of a slide rule used by Eric Miller’s father Col. BT Miller while at West Point from 1955 to 1958 as well as during his Master’s program in 1964.

Burt-Miller-SlideRule-D2

Why do we care about the slide rule today?  Have you ever seen World War II aircraft, submarines, or aircraft carriers?  These were designed using slide rules and/or logarithms.  The early space program?  Slide rules were used then too.  Some phenomenal engineering was accomplished by our predecessors using these devices.  Back then the numerical operations were just a tool to utilize their engineering knowledge.  Now I think we have a tendency to focus on the numerical due to its ease of use and impressive presentation, while perhaps forgetting or at least de-emphasizing the underlying engineering.  That’s not to say that we don’t have great engineers out there; rather it’s a call to energize you all to remember, consider, and utilize your engineering knowledge as you use your simulation tools.

By contrast, here is a picture of PADT’s brand new server room, with cluster machines being put together in the big cabinets.  Hundreds of cores.

servers

What about the giant slide rule?

My father found a thick book at an estate sale a few months ago.  There are a lot of retirees living in Arizona, so estate sales are quite common and popular.  They occur at a life stage when due to death or the need for assisted living, folks are no longer able to live in their home so the contents are sold, clearing out the home and generating some cash for the family.  This particular estate sale was for a retired engineer.  The book caught my father’s eye, first because it was quite thick and second because the title was, Mechanical Engineers’ Handbook.  Figuring it was a bargain for the amazing price of $1.00, he bought it for me.  This book is better known as Marks’ Handbook.  It’s apparently still in publication, at least as late as the 11th Edition in 2006, but the particular edition my father bought for me is the Fifth Edition from 1951.

marks-handbook

Although the slide rule is mostly a curiosity to us today, in 1951 it was state of the art for numerical computation.  While Marks’ has a couple of paragraphs on “Computing Machines”, described as “electrically driven mechanical desk calculators such as the Marchant, Monroe, or Friden”, the slide rule was what I will call the calculator of choice by mechanical engineers at the beginning of the 2nd half of the 20th century. 

As an aside, these mechanical calculators performed multiplication and division, using what I will describe as incredibly complex mechanisms.  Here is a link to a Wikipedia article on the Marchant Calculator:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marchant_Calculator

Marks’ Handbook devotes about 3 pages to the operation of the slide rule, starting with simple multiplication and division and then discussing various methods of utilization and various types of slide rules.  It starts off by stating, “The slide rule is an indispensable aid in all problems in multiplication, division, proportion, squares, square roots, etc., in which a limited degree of accuracy is sufficient.” 

The slide rule operates using logarithms.  If you’re not familiar with using logarithms then you are probably younger than me, since I recall learning them in math class in probably junior high in the late 1970’s.  The slide rule uses common logarithms, meaning the log of a number is the exponent needed to raise a base of 10 to get that number.  For example, the common log of 100 is 2.  The common log table in the 1951 edition of Marks shows us that the common log of 4.44 is 0.6474.  For the sake of completeness, the ‘other’ logarithm is the natural log, meaning the base is the irrational number e, approximated as 2.718.

log-table

Getting back to common (base of 10) logs, the math magic is that logarithms allow for shortcuts in fairly complex computations.  For example, log (ab) = log a + log b.  That means if we want to multiple two fairly complicated numbers, we can simply look up the common log of each and add them together.  Similarly, log (a/b) = log a – log b. 

Here is an example, which I will keep simple.  Let’s say we want to multiple 0.0512 by 0.624.  On a calculator this is simple, but what if you are stranded on a remote island and all you have is a log table?  Knowing the equations above, you can look up the log of 0.0512 which is 0.7093-2 and the log of 0.624 which is 0.7952-1.  We now add:
adding_numbers

Writing that sum as a positive decimal minus an integer is important to being able to look up the antilogarithm or number whose log is 0.5045 – 2.

Looking up the number whose log is 0.5045 we get 3.195, using a little bit of linear interpolation.  The “-2” tells us to shift the decimal point to the left twice, meaning our answer is 0.003195.  Thus, using a little addition, some table lookup, a bit of in the head interpolation, and some knowledge on how to shift decimal points, we fairly easily arrive at the product of two three digit fractional numbers.  Now you are free to look for more coconuts on the island.  Or maybe get back to a hatch in the ground where you need to type in the numbers 4, 8, 14, 16, 23, and 42 every 108 minutes.  Oops, I’m really becoming Lost here…

sliderule-book

Getting back to the slide rule, one way to think of it is a graphical representation of the log tables.  In its most basic form, the slide rule consists of two logarithmic scales.  By lining up the scales, the log values can be added or subtracted.  For example, if we want to multiply something simple, like 4 x 6, we simply look from left to right on the scale on the ‘fixed’ portion of the slide rule to get to 4, then slide the moving portion of the slide so that its 1 lines up with the 4 found above on the fixed portion.  We then move left to right on the movable scale to find the 6.  Where the 6 on the movable slide lines up with on the fixed portion is our solution, 24.  What we’ve really done is add the log of 4 to the log of 6 and then find the antilog of that result, which is 24.  Now that we’ve found 24, we’re not Lost

We don’t intend to give detailed instructions on all phases of performing calculations using slide rules here, but hopefully you get the basics of how it is done.  There are plenty of online resources as well as slide rule apps that provide all sorts of details.  Besides multiplication and division, slide rules can be used for squares and square roots.  There are (were) specialty slide rules for other purposes.  Note that with additional knowledge and skill in visually interpolating on a log scale, up to 3 or even 4 significant digits can be determined depending on the size of the slide rule.

ted-slide-ruleThe author, attempting to prove that 4 x 6 is indeed 24

After having studied the Marks’ section on slide rules, experimenting with a slide rule app on an iPad as well as the PADT behemoth on the wall, I conclude that it was a very elegant method for calculating numbers much more quickly than could be done by traditional pencil and paper.  It’s must faster to add and subtract vs. complicated multiplication and long division.  My high school physics teacher actually spent a day or two teaching us how to use slide rules back in the early 1980’s.  By then they had been made functionally obsolete by scientific calculators, so looking back it was perhaps more about nostalgia than the math needed.  It does help me to appreciate the accomplishments made in science and engineering before the advent of numerical computing.

The preparation of this article has made me wonder what the guys and gals who used these tools proficiently back in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s would think if they had access to the kind of compute power we have available today.  It also makes me wonder what people will think of our current tools 50 or 60 years from now.  When I first started in simulation over 25 years ago, it would have seemed quite a stretch to be able to solve simultaneously on hundreds if not thousands of compute cores as can be done today.  Back then we were happy to get time on the one number cruncher we had that was dedicated to ANSYS simulation.

Incidentally, this article was inspired by my colleague David Mastel’s recent blog entry on numerical simulation and how PADT is helping our customers take compute servers and work stations to the next level:

http://www.padtinc.com/blog/the-focus/launch-leave-forget-hpc-and-it-ansys

If you are ever in our PADT headquarters building in Tempe, don’t forget to look for the giant slide rule.  Now you will know its original purpose.

3D Printing brings history to life

640px-Vincent_van_Gogh_-_National_Gallery_of_ArtDid you hear that they have 3D printed Vincent van Gogh’s ear? How about the 3D printed spine of King Richard III?  This week alone 3D printing has given us two amazing examples of how this technology can be used to look at history in amazing new ways.

In the case of van Gogh, researchers used real living cells from his great-grandson to bioprint the cells to resemble van Gogh’s severed ear.  The ear is being kept technically alive in a nutrient solution and is said to be able to actually “hear”.  You can read more about this amazing application here.

Richard_III_earliest_surviving_portraitKing Richard III has been famously written as having a hunched back by William Shakespeare.  Anthropologists at the University of Cambridge wanted to determine if the description was accurate or exaggerated. Utilizing CT scans to create a model of the spine they were able to create 3D printed replica of his spine based on the models.  It turns out that while he did have terrible scoliosis, there was no evidence that he had a hunch as described by Shakespeare.  You can read more about this research here.

Just two of many new and innovative ways to integrate 3D printing into just about anything!

why does no1 respon to my request for help (Some Pointers to Students Looking for Help on Forums, Social Media, and Blogs)

xansys.org[Note: I know I misspelled respond… that is the point] As many of you know, PADT hosts a very successful mailing list and forum called XANSYS.org. It is one of the most successful online community help places I have ever seen.  There are a lot of reasons for that success, but the biggest is the moderators and how strongly they enforce rules for those posting.  Especially on using complete sentences, punctuation, showing that you have tried, and fully identifying yourself.

I bring this up because I’ve seen several posts on Facebook and LinkedIn groups for ANSYS users that just don’t get many responses, or don’t get the quality of response that posts on XANSYS get. I thought it might not be a bad idea to make some comments on the subject and share this post on some of those other forums.  Although I’ll focus on the ANSYS community, what is said applies to any community that supports engineering and technology tools.

Show Some Effort 

The thing that posters need to remember is that they are often asking industry experts to take time out of their busy day to help them.  Those experts want to see some effort put in to the question.  It is very important that the requester form the question in proper English, or whatever language the forum uses.  Even if the poster is not a native speaker, an effort needs to be made to use full and complete sentences, even if grammar is a bit off. (I won’t comment about speling, because that is a my weakest area… so I’ll forgive others on that one)

The easiest way to show a lack of respect to the people you want to answer your question is to not use capitalization or punctuation. As someone commented one time on XANSYS

“If you can’t find the time to use a shift key, I don’t have the time to answer your question.”

Do your own Homework/Work 

The most famous “bad post” on XANSYS was something along the lines of:

“i have been told to model a turbine blade in ansys, can someone show me how to do this”

Needless to say, no one helped them.  Before you post a question you need to try and figure things out yourself. Read the manual, search the internet, talk to co-workers. Most importantly, just try it.  Trial and error is a great learning experience. If you can’t get that to work or you still can’t find the information you need, then post your question. But, make sure you let people know what you have already done and tried.

The people who can help you on forums want to help, they don’t want to do your homework or your work for you.

Ask about a Single Item 

The quote above is not just notorious  because it is asking someone to do their work for them, it is also well known because the question is insanely too general.  Questions that are very specific are the ones that are answered the quickest and with the most useful information.  Even if you have lots of questions, break them up – solve one, then try and solve the next.  

Identify Yourself 

Saying who you are and where you go to work or school is huge. It is a professional courtesy that says “I have nothing to hide.”  When you hide your identity, people assume you are trying to get someone else to do your work and that you don’t want your professor or boss to know. Or, more seriously, you could be posting from an embargoed country or using illegal copies of the software. 

Give Back

This is obvious.  Many people who answer a lot of questions also ask a lot of questions. Even if you are new to the tool you are asking about, share what you learned on the thread when you get it all working. And as you get better, go back and answer some other people’s questions. Remember, it is a community.

Learn More

If you want better help from online communities, here are some great links to give you pointers:

The moderators on XANSYS have developed a great set of rules that really work. Follow these and you will do well on almost any site: www.xansys.org/rules.html

A resource that has been around since the dawn of the internet is “How To Ask Questions The Smart Way” by Eric Steven Raymond: www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

And the Venerable Guy Kawasaki has a famous post on emails, that has a lot of tips that apply to online posts as well: blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/02/the_effective_e.html 

Check out the posts on Xansys.org/forum.html and CFD-Online . They are both vibrant and intelligent communities with good posts.

3D Printing…….Pancakes

It seems like people are using 3D printing for just about anything these days…….and that is a very good thing.  From art to dentistry and all things in-between, 3D printing has allowed people without engineering expertise or special equipment to be truly innovative in their fields.

main_pancakebot
Just the other day we ran across a really unique and creative use of 3D printing……..The Pancakebot! As the name suggests, it lets you 3D print custom-shaped pancakes.  Fun and delicious!  Pancakebot started as a project that Miguel Valenzuela tinkered with for his young daughters using LEGO Mindstorms. There is a great video on the website that shows Pancakebot in action!model

All fun aside though, this is just one example of how 3D printing and the Maker movement as a whole is innovating how we think about making anything.  The idea of printing pancakes may seem simple and silly, but it just takes small ideas like that to get people excited about what is really possible.  Besides, can you just imagine sitting down to breakfast at Disneyland and having a Pancakebot roll up to your table to custom print any character you can imagine?  Even if Pancakebot doesn’t become a mainstream kitchen staple, it is still an amazing use of the technology, and also one that can engage and inspire kids toward STEM and STEAM education.  If that’s all something like Pancakebot does, then I would consider that a big win.

If you want to make your own, the instructions are here.pbot2

Pictures and Reflections from PADT’s 20th Anniversary Party

PADt-20-Logo-Rect-500wPADT held our 20th anniversary party at our primary offices in Tempe Arizona on April 10th. Despite the record high temperatures, around 400 people stop by to help us celebrate.  There was good food, good entertainment, and most importantly, good people.  

A highlight of the event is that April 10th was proclaimed PADT day in Tempe!  That was an unexpected honor.  

The only problem was not enough time to talk with everyone.  If you could not make it, no worries. We have several events planned throughout the year.

Here are some images that we captured:

Most of these pictures were taken by Aaron Moncur from PipelineDesign.

#padt20

PADT Announces New Product and Video: Detoxinator 1200

(Tempe, AZ) PADT is pleased to announce the release of a new product: The Detoxinator 1200.  Based on their proven success with the Support Cleaning Apparatus used in the 3D Printing industry, PADT has modified the design for the medical market.  A well known celebrity has also signed with PADT to promote the product.

The best way to learn more is to watch the new video, just released today:

Detoxinator-1200
Watch the Video here.

The Pets of PADT – March 2014

You can tell a lot about a person from their pets.  But what can you tell about a company?  We recently decided to share pictures of everyone’s pet to learn a bit more about each other, and to spend a little bit of time ooh’ing and ahh’ing over how cute some of these guys are. 

Enjoy:

Happy PI Day: 3.14

i 8 sum pi and it was greatBest wishes to everyone who loves math and enjoys being irrational and transcendental.  

Have you ever really thought about the fact that dividing  the distance around a circle by the width of a circle is an irrational number? That means that at least one of the distances can not be a whole number.  Have you ever really thought about that… you know who you are if you have.

A bunch of people brought fresh pies in this morning to share, and we shall all spend a little bit of time celebrating Pi.  We will also make fun of those weird people who somehow think e is a better number to get excited about… losers.

Here are some clever pi Pies I found on the interweb.  My favorite is the book pi pie.
google-pies

Introduction to APDL Book Turns One

PADT-Intro-APDL-coverWe got our monthly report from Amazon on our book  “Introduction to the ANSYS Parametric Design Language (APDL)” and we noticed that it has been one year since we published it.  This was our first foray into self publishing so we thought it was worth noting that it has been a year.

Being engineers, we are kind of obsessed with numbers.  The first number is a bit discouraging, 194 units sold.  That is not going to make any best seller lists (more on lessons learned below).  51% were sold on Amazon.com, 19% by Amazon Europe, and 16% on Amazon UK, with 13% sold by non-Amazon affiliates.  

Lessons Learned

This is our first time doing self publishing we have learned some lessons worth sharing:

  1. You can’t publish a work document as an e-book.  
    We figured we would format it for a paper book, then just publish the same file as an e-book.  WRONG.  The formatting, didn’t translate at all. If it was a novel, it would have worked fine, but with all the figures and code, it was a mess. So we took it off the site.  We have received feedback that this has kept some people from buying the book.
  2. Reviews matter.
    We got one review, and it was not good because they bought the E-Book (see 1).We have resisted the temptation to publish our own review… everyone does it… It would be great if anyone reading this could put up a review.
  3. We should have done this 5 years ago.
    The reality is that APDL usage is down as ANSYS Mechanical keeps getting better and better.  So the need to do advanced APDL scripting is not what it used to be. Plus, many new users are never exposed to APDL.
  4. Amazon fiddles with your price.
    It may or may not be a bad thing, but Amazon lowers your price if their affiliates start selling a book for less than you originally set the price at.  So the initial $75 price has gone as low as $55 when demand was high (several copies a week!).  In that the whole thing is an experiment, this has caused no grief but it is something to be aware of.
  5. Overall, the whole process was easy and a nice business model
    Let’s be honest, there is not a huge demand for a book like this. The CreateSpace.com (owned by Amazon) model is a great model for niche publishing like this. It was easy to upload, easy to monitor, and those fat royalty checks (what is the emoticon for sarcasm?) come in once a month. The best part is that because it is print-on-demand, there is no need pay for an inventory up front.

If you don’t have a copy (and only 190 some of you do so I’m guessing you don’t) head on over to our page on amazon and check it out.  You can spin it around and see the front and back cover!

If you are one of the select few, maybe write a review and help us out a bit?

PADT Turns 20 Today

PADt-20-Logo-Rect-500wAt 11:06 am on March 7, 1994 a clerk at the Arizona Corporation Commission placed their stamp on stack of paper titled: “Articles of Incorporation of Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies, Inc.” and a new company, and a new path in life for many people, was started.

2013-07-29 18.20.36Before that moment it had all been talk and ideas, now it was real. Still working their day jobs, the four founders spent their evenings and weekends trying to figure out how to convince customers to hire them, how to get computers to run ANSYS on, and how to raise money to buy a Stereolithography machine. Friends and Family stepped up and invested their money along with the founder’s savings to fund the crazy idea with an (in hindsight) incredibly long name.

After two decades PADT is now established and thriving, investing in other companies, and expanding into new geographies and businesses.  We could not have done it without all of the employees that have worked here through the years, the support of everyone’s family, our software and hardware partners, and of course our very loyal customers.  

There were a lot of reasons why we started PADT, and everyone that has joined us through the years has had their own impetus.  But, one common purpose motivated us in those early days, and still motivates us today:  to create a place where everyone actually wanted to go to in the morning.  That motivation will not make any business books, it has not made anyone super rich, nor will it make PADT the darling of Wall Street.    

What we can say is that after twenty years of going to work day after day, we can look back and confidently state that it is a motivation that still works today, and still makes for a more rewarding work life than many of our peers have experienced over the same two decades.

PADT-Offices
We want to thank everyone that has been on this journey with us. Everyone that has allowed us to make a living doing what we like to do, learning new things every day, and spending it with such fantastic people. 


#padt20

Happy (nerdy) Valentine’s Day

Valentines-day
We could not pass up trying out one of the online aps that generate Valentine’s Day candy hearts. 

Good fun.  It didn’t take long to find a FFT for a standard heart beat (the equation) and maybe only the rotating machinery types among you will get the blue one’s message. 

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!

Microloaning with Kiva

kiva_121x64

We just updated our loans on www.KIVA.com, a microloan website that PADT has been a member of since 2007.

Kiva-loans-2014_01_29

Kiva takes very small loans from people, pools them together, and makes  small loans to entrepreneurs around the world.  It is a great way to make a big difference in someones life with a small donation.

You know how much we love numbers here at PADT, so here are some about our Kiva loan activity:

Attention: The internal data of table “1” is corrupted!

It is interesting to read the little loan pages and understand a bit about what the applicants are trying to do and where they are coming from. You can see our loans on our lending page:

www.kiva.org/lender/padtinc

At first $1,500 seemed like a lot of money, but over the years it has gone a long way.  Who would have thought we would be involved in pig farming in the Philippines, a Peruvian Beauty Parlor, or a Cafe in Albania?

If you want to try it, make a loan through this invitation link.  When you make a loan, $25 gets added to PADT’s loan pool.

www.kiva.org/invitedby/padtinc

 

Read also: https://www.evergreenfunders.com/dont-be-part-of-the-17-billion-banking-scam/

PADT’s Arizona Holiday Party: Celebrating 2013 and Looking Forward to 2014

photo 3Another year is winding down to a close and PADT’s Arizona staff gathered in Chandler for our annual holiday party. It is always nice to step outside of the cubical and talk with co-worker’s spouses, employees you don’t get to talk with at work, and even with the people you do spend all day with, but in a festive setting. We had already had dinners in Albuquerque and Denver, so it was now time for the bulk of the company to celebrate and reflect.

12191318392013 has been a great year for PADT.  We saw good growth across all of our businesses, doing more business with existing customers and adding a number of new customers.  Our core Simulation, Product Development, and Rapid Manufacturing business all so new and exciting growth. Some highlights include:

  • Growing sales of Flownex for thermal-fluid simulation and CUBE systems for HPC
  • Several key new ANSYS, Inc. product customers have joined our user community
  • An explosion in interest in 3D Printing and the line of systems that PADT sells that resulted in a record number of new customers.
  • We saw significant growth in Product development with several large jobs started and a few others completed.  A typical project was the SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger.
  • The recent merger between Stratasys and Objet enabled PADT to begin offering PolyJet additive manufacturing systems.
  • We opened an office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, our second satellite office. We also moved into a larger facility in Littleton, Colorado.

After dinner we read this years gift exchange story… which maybe went a little long. But everyone ended up with something new and exciting to take home (and perhaps re-gift). The evening of great food and conversation was topped off with a little Info about Leicester race course and some recreational gambling. It turns out that some of us are luckier than others… and most of us still don’t really know how to play craps.

photo 1

As we cashed in our chips (those that still had chips) and gathered our gift-exchange presents (a talking Sheldon doll was this years big hit) many of us commented on how excited we are about 2014. Many of the investments that PADT has made in the past are starting to pay off and 2014 is looking to be a fantastic experience.

We wish all of you reading this a very Joyous Holiday Season and a peaceful and profitable 2014!

Christmas Right–Left Gift Exchange Story: SciFi Style

For our Christmas parties at PADT we generally have over 40 employees so a traditional secret Santa gift exchange takes to long. So a couple of years ago we downloaded a right-left gift exchange story from the internet and it was a big hit. We ran out of stories on the internet, so we started writing our own, usually in some sort of over-the-top style.  This year we may have gone way over the top with a SciFi story that involves an alien scouting party visiting a new planet.  I got a little carried away and it is a bit long.

If you have never played this game before it is simple. Everyone gets their gift and forms a big circle in the middle of the room.  Someone with a strong voice reads the story and every the word LEFT is read, everyone passes the package they have to the left. Every time the world RIGHT is read, everyone passes the package they have to their right.  You should pause a bit at each LEFT/RIGHT to give people a chance to pass.  This year I also added a twist.  When you use the word TURN, everyone needs to spin 180 degrees.  Added complexity can make it more fun… or not.

We hope you get as many laughs out of it as we did.

Here is a list of all of our Left-Right Christmas gift exchange stories:

– Elf Family Christmas (2017)
– Western Christmas (2016)
– Star Wars Christmas (2015)
– Fairy Tail Christmas (2014)
– Science Fiction Christmas (2013)
– Romance Christmas (2012)
– Film Noir Christmas (2011)


BookCover

 

Winter’s Night Rediscovered

Left to their own devices, the Zalaks will in general, wonder right around the galaxy.  Captain F’Tool G’K’Right and his right hand man, and nestmate, leftenent P’Turn N’Tuk were lucky enough to have a job where they were paid to wonder around the galaxy.  It left them both with a sense of true satisfaction and a feeling that could only rightly be described as joy.

“P’Turn, where are we Right now?” asked captain G’K’Right. “Right now… let me see” muttered N’Tuk as he stared as his navigation console.  “We are approaching an inhabited planet referred to as Earth in the dominant language.”

G’K’Right asked: “Technological Status?”

“They appear to be right in the middle of the standard computational revolution, having just left a short nuclear period wherein the majority of the planet appears to have been left untouched by thermonuclear conflict” answered leftenent N’Tuk.  “Where should we land for our initial investigation?”

Captain G’K’Right tapped his right temple with his right foreclaw.  “hmmm…. This should not be left to chance, I think we should land in an uninhabited spot, right here” he said pointing at the nav screen with the same right foreclaw “right on top of the planet on this ice cap.”

“Right sir!” responded N’Tuk.  “Turning on landing engines, setting course left 237, right 124”

The ship shook violently, left to right, forward to aft, as it descended through the atmosphere of the planet.  Soon the ship slowed and stopped right above a huge ice ridge, looking down into a valley that should have been just snow. The crew looked at the right view screen, which showed sensor data.  It registered the expected uninhabited snow covered valley. But right there in front of them, on the left view screen, which showed a visual image, they were left with no doubt. The valley was filled, from left to right,  with a sprawling village.

The view left the captain stunned.  “Turn off the landing engines and set down right here. Leftenent N’Tuk, we are left with no choice but to go out and explore this anomaly with our left, right, and center eyes!”

A short time later the landing party stood in a large open square.  Their initial exploration had left them with the impression that the village had recently been abandoned.  They had also discovered that right beneath their tentacles was a huge industrial complex that was capable of manufacturing a staggering amount and variety of items.  It too had been recently left abandoned.

Captain G’K’Right looked around the square.  In the center a tall pole stood, stretch right up to the bottom of the clouds, wrapped in red and green stripes arranged in a right-handed spiral.  To the left of the pole, someone had left a pile of boxes wrapped in colorful paper. On the right of the pole was a giant green plant of some type that formed a cone shape and it had green and red decorations hanging from its branches.  As G’K’Right stared at it he realized it leaned a little to the right, the imperfection of which seemed someone how right.

“Right!” said the captain “Before we turn around and get back on our ship I want to understand why our sensors still read snow but we can see and touch a complete village and a gigantic manufacturing facility.”

Leftenent N’Tuk looked up from his portable sensor array, gazed left, gazed right, then gazed left again and said “Captain, I am left with no doubt.  It turns out that this whole area has a temporal damping field that obscures all non-biological sensing.  It is as if the sensors see what was right here about 3000 orbits of this planet around the sun ago.  But what we see and touch is what is here right now. The technology required has left me amazed.  The temporal generator appears to be right there on top of that pole”

The captain was about to order the disassembly of the pole when, on the horizon to the right, he saw a bright red light.  “Set up a defensive perimeter, right now!” he ordered.

The landing team formed an arc on the left of the square behind a low wall.  As they watched, the red light got brighter and what appeared to be 9 fur covered animals pulled a large red vehicle right across the sky.  Once again the captain was amazed.

The train of animals pulling the vehicle landed right in front of them in the square, where they realized that the red light was actually coming from an organ on the very tip of the lead animals head.  Soon, a door on the right side of the red vehicle opened and out streamed bipedal creatures dressed from head to toe in green. The creatures formed a lines that stretched from the left to the… other side of the square.  When several thousand had left the vehicle, a much larger, and rounder, bipedal creature came out of the opening and strode right up to the landing party.

He began to speak and the team’s universal translator translating what it heard into an earpiece they wore in their right ears:

“Hoo Hoo Hoo. Welcome my friends to the North Pole!  I’m sorry we left no one here to great you, but right now is the only night of the year where we are not home! Ho Ho Ho!  Your timing has left us un-prepared. Ho ho ho.”

Captain F’Tool G’K’Right strode forward to greet the large but friendly alien.  And then he stopped. A memory had popped right into his head that left him wondering.  He turned to and asked his right hand man, ” P’Turn, do you think, that this might possibly… , no it can’t be right. But the more I think the more I’m left without a doubt.  Could this be S’ta C’las?” As the captain looked at his childhood nest-friend, he remembered rushing with P’Turn into the nursery room on Winter’s Night to find gifts scattered under the Winters’ Night Mushroom… and a tear of joy formed in his right eye.

He turned just in time to see the bi-pedal alien morph before his eyes and become S’ta C’las.  In the Zelak language he heard S’Ta C’las say “N’ka, N’ka, N’ka. Merry Winter’s Night to you!  F’Tool G’K’Right, you have been a good little Zelak, N’ka, N’ka, N’ka,  and I welcome you to my home, right here on earth.  I of course knew you were coming so we left you and your crew something here, right beneath this tree.”

As the landing party rejoiced and rushed forward to put their tentacle right around S’ta C’las the captain realized, with a mystical and magical creature like this for every planet left with a civilization on its surface, no matter where his travels left him, he know that in the end, no matter how bleak the situation, no matter how difficult the challenges, no matter how deep the sadness, everything would turn out… right.

‘Tis the Season: PADT Holiday Dinners for New Mexico and Colorado Offices

albq-xmas-13One of the best parts of having other offices is that we get to visit during the Holiday Season and have small dinners with the employees, families. (And even a lapsed employee and spouse sneak in now and then) This year we enjoyed dinner in Old Town Albuquerque with the New Mexico Staff and their Significant Others, then headed up to Denver for dinner with the Colorado Staff and family. It kind of reminds us of what it was like in the early days of PADT when we could all sit around one table. We had a great year with good growth in both states, and hope to see more people around the tables next year!

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