Saturday, May 26, 2007

Your Sunday Funny

The Cat Is Out Of The Bag

We're always on the lookout for a new cat gadget. Four cats equals lots of cat hair. Combs, brushes, de-tanglers, grooming mitts, scrapers-- all of them are no match for the FURminator®. I spent almost an hour brushing the felines and was reqarded with these prodigious piles of pelage. The actual tool is an expensive little bugger: $35 (PetSmart) for the cat sized version. You'll fork over nearly $60 for the poochy model. Best prices are available on eBay. It comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. Don't worry, you'll love it. And your mousers will thank you.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

To my mother, my mother-in-law, and the mother of our daughter, thank you for being such great examples to your children. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

And He Lives In A Van Down By The River

I had the pleasure of hanging out with this former POW over the past few weeks. Really nice guy, good pilot, and chock full of pretty amazing (race) stories. This farmer claims to have shot the golden bb that possibly brought down the Apache (pictured in background).

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Your Sunday Funny

And the gunship uses less gas than a Hummer.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

F-14 V. Japanese Zero

The USS HARRY S. TRUMAN entering a time warp, just like the NIMITZ.

U.S. Navy photo.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Glasnost

Happy International Workers' Day. Please to enjoy your local parade of military might. I've always wondered why the US never celebrated May Day by driving tanks and missiles through the streets like the Soviets. I guess an airshow is about the closest show of force we can conjure up. If you're reading this at work, get back to laboring, peasant.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Living Off Bark And Elephant Dung

I really like the new Discovery channel show Man vs. Wild. The host is a former British SAS operator turned outdoor-crazy-survival-guy. And his name is Bear, so he has to be tough. The show is pretty amazing and his limey accent gives the program an unmistakable air of credibility. Plus he writes a blogspot blog, so he is definitely cool.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

The End Is Near

The "new" Juice, Barry Bonds, is going to be the all-time king this season. Tragic. I think MLB is in a quandary about how to commemorate the occasion. Issues that the Commish might be considering as he tries to boost ticket sales:

1. What if he breaks it on the road? He'll be booed mercilessly. Good.
2. Hank Aaron has already stated that he will not attend any event surrounding the record breaking. What would it take to get him into the parks as the inevitable day approaches?
3. What happens to the record and Bonds' impending Hall of Fame induction when proof surfaces that he was ingesting massive amounts of human growth hormone?
4. MLB needs Bonds more than Bonds needs MLB.
5. Some mega-record holders like Ripken are class acts. Bonds is a jackass. Who will pay Bonds to endorse anything short of a Girls Gone Wild video?

This Yahoo! page appeared when he surpassed Ruth last summer. Truly, an omen.

Lightheaded

Yesterday I flew a sim with the NVG HUD system. The system is fairly primitive in that it is essentially a bolt-on addition to the already heavy ANVIS-6 night vision goggles. There is plenty of symbology to display on the eyepiece; too much, in my opinion. And the information scheme doesn't really match the analog cockpit layout so I couldn't figure out where the "important" numbers were. I prefer to just look under the goggles at my trusty ol' steam gauges. Plus I save myself the extra 1.5 pounds pulling down on my head.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Feet Dry

Well, I've officially changed airframes. Seahawk driver is now a Blackhawk driver. Check ride complete, somewhat anticlimactically. My career goals in this aircraft are to complete a flight with four external tanks loaded and strap on a pair of skis. Living in Arizona, I think the skis might take awhile.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bird's Eye View

The other day I flew right over the tornadic aftermath in Enterprise, Alabama. Later in the week I drove through a neighborhood in the same area. The destruction is unbelievable. It looks as though bulldozers just pushed everything flat. The high school where eight students were killed looks like a bomb exploded on the campus. Blue tarps serving as temporary roofs dot the landscape for miles. Makes me glad to live in a disaster-free state.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Zowns!

Holy crap. I was attempting to study the intricacies of the Blackhawk hydraulic leak detection and isolation system while the BOS-NYY game droned in the background. But then...Manny hammers one into the streets outside Fenway and the next three batters follow suit. Four home runs in a row. Nothing like The Nation taking it to The Evil Empire.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Missing Man Formation

The Blue Angels lost one of their own in a mishap this weekend. I've always been awed by their performances, especially the tight formations. Unlike their North American counterparts, the Thunderbirds and the Snowbirds, the Blues' signature move is close form. Really close form. Form so close that you could stand up in the seat and touch the other aircraft. Form so close that they can, and do, swap paint during flight. And that is why it looks so amazing from the ground. Fair winds and following seas, #6.

The aviator's verse from the Navy Hymn:

Eternal Father, lend Thy grace
To those with wings who fly thro' space,
Thro wind and storm, thro' sun and rain,
Oh bring them safely home again.
Oh Father, hear an humble prayer,
For those in peril in the air! Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Recycled

Now that I am a safety-officer-to-be, I thought I would dig up some of my safety related memorabilia. The below is my first (but not only, hopefully) published aviation writing. Reprinted from the December 2001 issue of the Naval Safety Center's monthly magazine, Approach. Please pardon the Navy jargon, but enjoy.

(Almost) Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Primary

As I sat in my tiny FFG stateroom, muddling through the final weeks of a counter-drug ops cruise, I realized there are axioms of aviation that, no matter what your experience level, will always hold true. I learned a few of these early in my career as a naval aviator, during primary flight training in the mighty T-34C Mentor. My on-wing, a Marine CH-46 driver, never failed to pass along the truisms of flying, often using colorful language to capture my attention. Here are the translations of his aviation oratories and how I have managed to incorporate them into fleet flying.

"What are you doing up there?" My esteemed instructor had his own way of developing the finer points of CRM from the back seat. In multi-place aircraft, the copilot and crew are there to help you, just as you are there to help them.

"Have you even read your NATOPS?" Despite his criticism of my systems knowledge, I really did read my NATOPS. Now that your fleet aircraft NATOPS is about four times as thick as the T-34s, there is plenty of reading to be done.

"Underwater is not the time to inspect your SV-2." Before you walk, make sure your HEED bottle has air and your PRC-90 and the rest of your gear works so you will be somewhat comfortable if you go for an unexpected swim.

"You're preflighting the wrong aircraft." Yes, I did this once. Checking the tail number is just part of the attention to detail demanded by every preflight, whether on the beach, at an airshow, or on the dark, cold, rain-slicked flight deck.

"Zip up your pockets." After witnessing numerous near-FOD incidents, this is part of my personal preflight every time I get on or in the aircraft. Extra change rolling around in the engine compartment never did anyone any good.

"Are you going to put the gear down?" Checklists aren't just a fact of life; they are the crux of safety in aviation. Rushing to meet the critical launch, becoming lax and not paying attention in the cockpit have caused more than just gear-up landings.

"Relax and take it one step at a time." When the master caution light or fire light comes on, don't rush to complete the immediate-action items. Take time to determine the precise nature of the problem, then methodically configure the aircraft. When fighting emergencies, speed can kill.

"Knock, knock. That's your ball trying to get back in." Nowhere is solid instrument flying more important than when launching into the inky blackness at sea. A poor scan and lack of proficiency can allow vertigo to seize even the most savvy aviator.

"This hop will be over when we run out of gas." Yes, it most certainly will. Ideally, that time also will coincide with a suitable runway or deck. Trying to stretch the legs of your aircraft can lead to disaster. Hawk your fuel, whether droning around your local NAS or venturing far from Mom on the big blue.
"It doesn't look like it's going to clear up. You're canceled." OK, sometimes bad weather has its benefits.

"Fly the aircraft. Don't let the aircraft fly you." Aviate. The first commandment of the always-germane rule: aviate, navigate, communicate.

"Where are you going?" Navigate. This is the second most important thing you can do in the aircraft. If you don't know where you are going, you won't be able to get back.

"Think, key, speak." Communicate. Tell your lead, wing or controller what you need and want. This will set you up for success. Keep in mind that comm brevity and radio discipline are essential elements of tactical flying. Just ask the air boss.

The author is a former detachment maintenance officer in HSL-47. His on-wing's whereabouts are unknown.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Dangerous Game

Why kids shouldn't play first person shooters. Seven years ago the APA studied what the world felt this week.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Reading: It's Like Words For Your Brain

I love to read. Always have. In a sort of nerd Le Mans, I tried to read 20,000 pages of books during a high school summer vacation. That's fifty 400-pagers in ninety days. I fell well short of that mark. But still I'm rarely without a book on my bedside table. Here are my observations.

Recent completions
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer - Weird LDS hystery (that's a historical mystery...I just made that up.) Krakauer wrote one of my favorite book of all time, Into the Wild.
The Night Stalkers by Michael J. Durant and Steven Hartov - A string of helicopter adventures. Good, not great.
The know it all by AJ Jacobs - Man reads encyclopedia and writes about it. Creative, if nothing else.
The Google Story by David Vise - Thought it would be as good as The Perfect Store. It wasn't.
Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson - In work currently. Already an outstanding find.
Heart of the Storm by Edward L. Fleming - See The Night Stalkers above.
Cocaine by Dominic Streatfeild - The definitive book on coke. Tedious at times, but overall a nice heady high.

I like to read non-fiction, only because sometimes the truth is truly stranger. And secretly I have wondered how reading as an adult is any more intellectually stimulating than a PBS special. Here's why.

Amazon has some great recommendations, especially listmania. But once I find my book, it's off to the Phoenix Public Library. Free books at the click of a button. Lavar Burton would be so proud.

Monday, February 12, 2007

What About A Nice Walkie Talkie?

We wanted out of our Verizon Wireless contract, and there has never been a better time to exit. The Consumerist has a script that will lead you to freedom. I can attest that this works like a charm. After eighteen minutes, our accounts were cancelled without penalty, saving us $350 in early termination fees. Can you hear me now?

I think Verizon has great coverage, but our 15 minutes per month of "I'm on my way home now, do you need anything at the store?" calls weren't worth $80. Virgin Mobile, here we come.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Your Sunday Funny

We have too many cats and we watch too much of The White Rapper Show.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Just Another Happy Day

I'm not really a gun guy and I'm certainly no marksman. To date, my military firearms training has consisted of shooting a Sig off the fantail of a ship at bags of trash. Incredibly, I was able to qualify on the M9 today. And I ate an MRE for lunch, which was surprisingly tasty. I'm practically in the real Army now.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Here Comes The Sun

Minus the tv antenna, the electrical pole, and our neighbor's roof, today's sunrise reminded me of my blog header.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore

My alma mater holds the proud record of graduating more American astronauts than any other undergraduate institution in the country. It has now earned the distinction of graduating more crazy astronauts than any other school.

Mrs. Spacely wore adult diapers so that she wouldn't have to take bathroom breaks on her fifteen hour drive to eliminate her rival. That's determination. Diapers on a Shuttle mission: acceptable. Diapers at Mardi Gras: acceptable. Diapers for a long car drive: crazy.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Terror Emitting Diodes

The only cartoons I watch are The Simpsons, Little Einsteins, and Dora the Explorer. But thanks to a panicky public and an obviously overzealous police department, I now know about Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The mooninite voice sounds like the Microsoft text-to-speech translator. Special thanks to Boston PD for keeping me hip.

I predict the ATHF craze will fizzle slightly faster than Gremlins.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Your Sunday Safety Tip

Sign from some flightseeing operator. But seriously, it's a mess to clean up.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Your Sunday Funny

After nearly losing a digit in an electrical near miss today, I found this to be appropriate.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pretty Much The Same

What I know.

What I need to learn.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Boogey! Boogey! Boogey!

I love the direct personification of our worldwide archenemy. During the state of the union, our exalted leader referred to terrorists as "the terrorists" no less than four times. Use of the article "the" is a deliberate literary attempt to put a face on a faceless existence. The Boogeyman is scarier than a boogeyman. I had to chuckle thinking about "the terrorists" getting together at their annual meeting.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Call Me Science

I'm pumped. Dead people, skinned, injected with plastic, and splayed out for the world to see. This sci-art hits the Arizona Science Center at the end of this month. I will definitely be among the 400,000 projected visitors. I haven't been to the ASC since tesla was still cool. This tesla, not this tesla.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Your Sunday Funny/Scary

At this rate, it will be 178°F in Phoenix this summer.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Why My Wife Loves Me

Sometimes I feel like I'm living a lie. I'm finally coming out, er, clean. I hate sports. I don't know the first thing about football. Or basketball. Or fantasy foosball. I've lived with this secret for as long as I can remember.

For my entire life people have engaged me with questions like, "Dude, did you see Lebron James hit that homerun for the Jaguars last night?" No. No, I didn't.

Yesterday in Boston, a guy at the airport ticket counter asked me if I was going to Phoenix "to see the big game." I mumbled something about having to work then let my voice trail off in quiet embarassment. Could he smell the stink of my deceit? If I had the slightest idea of what "big game" he was referencing, maybe I could have mustered up a believable excuse.*

But I have tried. Oh, how I have tried. I'll watch MLB's League Championships and The World Series. I have even lingered on a hockey game and a NASCAR race. And I've always enjoyed playing sports. But even the sports I have played, and played with some degree of talent, I might add, can be fairly categorized as weird: waterpolo, ping pong, and ultimate frisbee.

I have learned to hide my sporting obtuseness. I can usually ask a harmless follow-up question that will preserve my facade without leading to additional conversation. So if you're discussing the "big game" last night and I am smiling and nodding politely, chances are I have no idea what you are talking about. I don't even know what channel ESPN is on.

*Turns out he was wondering if I was going to the Fiesta Bowl. On the flight home I was thinking about his inquiry and the only "big game" I knew of was the Superbowl, over a year away.

Ed. Note: These people really don't like sports. I actually wish I liked sports. Life would be easier that way.