Monday, December 20, 2010

Full eclipse of the moon tonight. Are you going to see it. If so bundle-up and put on a pot of coffee.

The real action starts at

1:32 AM: Eastern time here in the U.S.
2:40 AM:
Total Eclipse

3:53 AM: End of the full eclipse

5:01 AM: Bed time the action has ended

Have fun

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Third of U.S. teens with phones text 100 times a day

I have a cell phone and I am sure you do too. My wife and I were among the first people in the U.S. to carry a bag phone in our cars. I well remember that 7 pound monster with it's 5 watt output. Everyone who learned we had one wanted to see it. Man have time ever changed. In those days we used our phone only for outgoing calls and reserved those for car trouble. Now my phone travels everywhere I am, usually attached to my side. Good thing they reduced the size. These days phones are actually mini computers. You can surf the web, complete projects and send messages to virtually anyone in the world. In a pinch it'll even make an actual call.

One application that I truly think was a game changer is when phones were enabled to send short text messages. That at least frees us from having to commit to conversation, saving time so we can play with the on board or online games. I say that somewhat as a joke, but truly texting has become a way of life, especially for kids and teens.

I read a recent study that said around one in three U.S. teenagers now send more than 100 texts a day. ONE HUNDRED messages a day. That is crazy. They have even developed a sort of second language, a shorthand if you will to save time and space in messages.

Three weeks ago I was trying to fill a position within our office. We received a stack of resumes, some very qualified and many not so much. Among the stack was a cover letter from one job seeker that was filled with misspellings and apparently text message shorthand. Teenage texting slang in a cover letter? Really did they think that was correct? Needless to say, that didn't cut it, and that candidate was rejected. How unprofessional. What image were they trying to convey?

Anyway like it or not texting is replacing language, and seriously face- to- face conversation is a historic relic. It's a shame.

hope U R ok w this b/c it has b-cm U R GR8 new way 2 comm-u-cate catch U L8tr

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Today is National Aviation Day.

Set aside By President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939 to honor and celebrate the development of Aviation. Appropriately it is observed on Orville Wright's birthday.

Normally I take-up the plane on special aviation days like this, just to ride around and soak-up the feeling of wonderment of soaring freely. But today my plane is in New Orleans with my partner. So I am earthbound. No matter I see some rather nasty looking thunderstorms building and that is one thing that I will NOT challenge.

Yesterday I posted about my interest in learning from accidents. I truly believe by learning what went wrong, and why, we can become safer. I have read litterlly thousands of accident reports, and they have revealed some surprising facts. Also there have been quiet a few strange events recorded, but last Saturday an accident occured that strange and unlikely as it seems, the thought gives me nightmares.


This past Saturday at a small airshow in Colorado there was a midair collision between two aircraft, causing one to crash out of control while the other, heavily damaged managed to land safely. While horrorifing this seems pretty straight forward upon 1st glance. Fortunately no one was killed.
It seems that at the airshow a group of model enthusists were flying their VERY large r/c ( radio controlled ) airplane. They were over the runway as a manned stunt plane approached the area. At this point the show was under the direction of a man on the ground, the "Air Boss" who was talking on a handheld radio and supposedly clearing the airspace.
Well there seems to have been some type of breakdown in communication because the Stunt plane, a single seat Pitts biplane continued to fly down the runway while making a trail of smoke which is normal for airshows. It continues on making a high speed pass until it collides with the r/c plane.Following impact, the biplane continues flying, apparently under control , while the model tumbled to pieces falling off to the side of the runway. There were no injuries to anyone on the ground but the video does show the public were much too close to an active runway.

Without my trying to fix blame as to who was in the wrong, I need to note that the current FAA regulations dictate manned aircraft always have the right of way.
After regaining control of his aircraft the manned stunt plane returned to the runway making a safe landing. The pilot was shaken, but not injured. His plane however shows significant damage. The bottom wing of the Pitts aircraft has a huge dent in it making the plane unflyable until repaired.

The very large $8000 r/c model faired much worse. Here is the largest remaining hunk of it's wreckage. Things could have been much much worse. The collision could have brought down BOTH machines, debris from either or both aircraft could have injured or killed many in the crowd. the potential for harm was enormous.

The FAA accident team is investigating the event. It will be interesting to see how this investigation plays out. One lesson already seems obvious. Better communication could have helped.

The images from the airshow ( above ) are off a video shot by someone in the crowd.

  • The 1st one is the r/c plane in an extreme nose up attitude seconds before the collision.

  • Next the photo shows the Biplane just before impact

  • In the 3rd shot the actual impact ( in the far right side of frame)

  • And finally a photo showing the models damage from the collision.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I truly love flying. Some people don't. Maybe it's the fact that they are not totally in control. Or maybe it's as simple as fear of something unfamiliar. Once in a while accidents do happen, planes do crash. But statistics prove beyond doubt that flying is about the safest of transportation. Your chances of being in an air crash is so small it's almost unthinkable. Still being honest there is some risk involved with climbing into a metal, wooden and or fabric covered machine and soaring with the birds. Actually there are risks everywhere. Trains, cars, buses, even walking along introduces some level of risk into your life. That thought sometimes makes people want to just lie in bed with the covers pulled up around their necks, cowering at every unexplained sound. There is risk in that as well. Maybe the roof will fall, or maybe you'll drift off into a deep sleep, roll out of the bed and bump you head. There is Risk in everything.

In flying it is a pilots job to minimize the risks. He doesn't do it alone. There are mechanics, weather professionals, routing specialists, and many others to help him. Then there is training which can help reduce the risks and even help avoid most of them. I truly believe this training, works. It is helpful to practice. Learning to avoid or dodge risky actions, and by learning how to minimize others can help make flying or any activity safer. Knowing in advance what to do, how to react to situations, making a plan before the risk arises is a key to safer flying.

I believe there are lessons to be learned from every accident that ever happened. Learning what went wrong and why can help you avoid a similar situation and thereby reduce the risks. I feel so strongly about this that I spend a portion of every day reading aircraft accident reports. Searching for insights that may help me one day.

I have a LARGE collection of official accident reports. From all over the world. Some are just a few paragraphs others contain massive multi-part volumes. I have one report of an airliner accident that runs almost 3,000 pages.

The earliest report I have is of the first crash in history to be fatal to a passenger ( non crew member ). It was with the U.S. Army signal corp ( forerunner of the U.S. Air Force ) and it happened in the extreme early days of powered aviation when a Wright Brothers airplane piloted by Orville himself was giving a demonstration flight to the Army at Fort Myer, Virginia. An Army officer Lt. Thomas Selfridge was along for the ride as an observer. After a few circuits around the field something caused the propeller to break and the "Flyer" crashed nose first into the ground from about 150 feet. Lt. Selfridge died from a massive head injury several hours after the crash. Pilot Orville Wright suffered severe injuries, including a broken leg, several broken ribs and a hip injury. He was hospitalized for seven weeks.

I wrote this as an introduction / background for a series of blogs I have in the works.

I hope you will check back and read the updates, including my next entry. It's a story of a truly bizarre accident that occurred just last Saturday.

See you here

Friday, August 13, 2010

Do you suffer from Triskaidekaphobia?

Fear of the number 13.

If you do then today must really be tough. It’s estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States have a fear of Friday the thirteenth. So many the symptom even has a name Paraskavedekatriaphobia.

Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. What is really strange is that most of the people can offer no explanation at all, logical or illogical. They just have a fear for its own sake.

The superstition does have deep roots that may explain why the fear is so widespread today.

The number thirteen and Friday both have been considered unlucky:

In some places the number twelve is considered a good number.
• as in the twelve months of the year, • the twelve tribes of Israel • twelve Apostles of Jesus • twelve hours in a day, twelve hours of night

But the number thirteen is considered a bad number.

• At the Last Supper, thirteen people were seated at the table. The 13th was a traitor. And Friday is considered the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified, which is viewed as both good and bad by Christians

Are you afraid of Friday the 13th? Are you taking any extra precautions? Or is it just another amusing day for you?

In any rate be careful especially with mirrors and whatever you do please and watch out for back cats open umbrellas and ladders.
Disclaimer: No I don’t believe in any luck good or bad other than the luck you make.

A classic repost

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Huge Triangle in the sky.

Starting tonight and continuing for the
next couple of weeks there will be a rare chance to observe three of the brightest planets without a telescope . If you have clear skies, and a view to the west-northwest you will be able to Venus, Mars and Saturn together in a tight cluster. When and Where to Look

Unlike many of the stellar displays you won't need to stay up all night nor awake at 3am to enjoy it. About an hour to hour and a half after sunset is hen the planet trio will be in view. Any later and they will have dropped below the
horizon and out of view.

Astronomers measure the brightness of objects in the sky using a standard yardstick called magnitude. The lower the number, the brighter the object, with the brightest stars in the sky categorized as either a zero or first magnitude.

So while Venus (dazzling at magnitude - 4.3) should be more than bright enough to see with the unaided eye in the fading twilight glow, Saturn (magnitude +1.1) and Mars (magnitude +1.4) will likely be a bit more difficult. Indeed, although Saturn and Mars are of first magnitude, they appear only about 1/150th as bright as Venus!

Personally, I would strongly suggest also using binoculars to scan the sky for the three planets, especially if it is still hazy like it has been the last few days.

The peek for this event will be tonight and tomorrow but they may still be seen for about two more weeks.

Hold your fist at arm's length. This will be about a 10-degree circle all three should appear well within that area. Look about a fist and 1/2 above the horizon at the begining lower as the time passes

Good luck

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I was reading a story about the test flights of a new plane today. Like almost always when I am on-line one story leads to another and pretty soon I am in a totally unrelated place from my start. Today I was led to another article about the storage of retired airliners in the desert. This is just another area where I find acute interest. One of the planes featured in the article was the famous or infamous 'Gimli Glider'
Some of you may remember the tale of the almost new Boeing 767 jet that had to land on a dragstrip when it accidentally ran out of fuel on a flight. But to most of you the jetliner registered as C-GAUN was little more than a run-of-the-mill widebody plane.

The incident on the pride of Air Canada jets happened way back in 1983. I remember the actual day it happened. I poured over the news reports and later the official reports trying to learn how in that modern era, a high-tech long-range plane, like a 767 could run short on fuel on a domestic flight in good weather while crossing southern Canada. I am amazed at how it successfully imitated a 173 ton glider.

Even though it was 25 years ago (July 23, 1983) most old timers at Air Canada and around the aviation community remember the details well. It all started with the discovery of a problem with part of the aircraft's flight management system. Basically that is a problem with the fuel gauges. It was a bad electrical connection, a faulty soldering joint.

That by itself is not enough to ground a plane, because the fuel can be measured manually. But this led to several problems.
  • First none of the ground crew trained to do so, but the pilots would recheck the numbers.
  • This introduced the 2nd problem. The pilots used an incorrect conversion method. The ground crew had used imperial measurements to compute the 767's fuel load as was common in Canada. Air Canada & in fact the whole country was just beginning the process of changing over to the metric system. This Air Canada 767 the first plane set up with the new system. The difference between the amounts calculated was huge.
The flight took off and was progressing normally. But as it crossed high over Red Lake, Ontario, a warning signal in the cockpit sounded, and suddenly the flight crew realized the error.

One engine failed, followed soon by the other. As that happened the generators supplying power for the aircraft's glass-panel avionics stopped too. Quickly the battery went dead which left the 195 seat airliners powerless.

With only a few mechanical backup instruments and unboosted flight controls the plane was descending at 2,000 feet-per-minute.

The Good News

Call it fate or just serendipity but one of the pilots on board that day was Captain Robert Pearson, also an expert glider pilot. He enjoyed this hobby on his days off. Still even with that skill there was no hope of keeping the plane in the air all the way to Winnipeg. Fortunately the other pilot, the co-pilot First Officer Maurice Quintal had been a pilot in the Air Force and knew of an abandoned base near their flight path -- in Gimli, Manitoba -- where he had once served.

Using their limited instruments Captain Pearson and First Officer Quintal successfully glided the plane toward the runway at Gimli. But as they neared on their silent approach the crew saw that spectators and campers were spread out, watching go-cart races on the abandoned runway.

There was nothing they could do. They were committed.

Still on a short final the crew realized they were going too fast and were too high to make the field and stop safely. Captain Pearson, making use of his gliding skills did something some pilots thought impossible. He put the plane into a hard side slip. This maneuver would cause the aircraft to lose altitude quickly without increasing the speed. In fact with the nose slightly up it might even help slow them a little.

It was a firm landing and the plane's nose landing gear collapsed. They were now skidding quickly down the runway sending up a shower of sparks. Captain Pearson could see two boys bicycling on the runway, in front of them. They were pedaling like crazy " "My heart leapt into my throat." He remembers. "One of the boys stared straight back at me in the cockpit."

Fortunately, the plane missed the boys and other onlookers coming to a stop 100 feet from where the spectators had set up their campers. Miraculously there were no injuries on the ground, nor to the extra light load of 61 passengers and eight crew on board the plane.

The plane was repaired a few days later, safely refueled and flown out eventually returning to service.

Both Pilots continued to fly and 1985 received the first-ever Federation Aeronautique Internationale Diploma for Outstanding Airmanship.

C-GAUN may have been just another jetliner to most people. But when she was retired almost a quarter of a century later in 2008, she was a legend and a "proud lady of the skies".

This story was also told in a book I have owned and enjoyed several times, "Free Fall" and later it was made into a TV movie staring William Devane. I have a copy of that as well. Think I watch it again tonight.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I am a rock hard manly man (stop snickering). And I have my very own bathroom. Not one of those trendy 40 foot long bathrooms with two sink basins that are so popular now, but a for real mans bathroom all to myself. I am lucky I know. It’s a little smallish but fully functional. It’s a mans place.. Well except for the shower curtain.

My amazing wife was in charge there. And she hooked me up with not one but two shower curtains and two shower rods. A real one inside where the water hits and a cloth frilly one with tiebacks over the outside. That ones true purpose is to vex me daily when entering and exiting. But I accepted it as the price of privacy. And I never have to contend with panty hose... Ok?

I like a HARD, FULL spray from my shower. And I have that. But that itself added one other slight problem. The towel rod at the far end still gets very wet, making it useless for my drying towel during the showers.

So I solve that problem by placing my folded towel on top of the rods next to the far end wall. That works well more than 99% of the time. But every once in a while,, not often, maybe three times a year, usually due to my carelessness, the towel falls to the floor. Like it did today. So in the all the years we have lived here how many times do you think the towel falls outside the shower? NONE never!! And it only falls after the water is on, my back is turned and I have shampoo and soap everywhere.

What are those odds? And why is that?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What is on my Ipod this week?

I generally don't do tracks or mix cd's each of these are complete cd's

In no particular order

  1. Jars of Clay: If I left the Zoo
  2. Switchfoot: Hello Hurricane
  3. Mercy Me: Almost There
  4. Stryper: Murder By Pride
  5. Jethro Tull.: J-Tull dot Com
  6. Robert Simon: Latin Passion
  7. Randall Bramblett: Meantime
  8. Marillion: Los Trios
  9. The Mulberry Purple: The Mulberry Purple
  10. Creed: Full Circle
  11. Rodney Crowell: Fates Right Hand
  12. Saga : Human Condition
  13. Todd Fields: Todd Fields
  14. Scott Mosher: Deep Horizon
  15. Joe Satraini: Surfing with the Alien ( unofficial artist of A-control)
What is on yours?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

25 years in a motel.

That headline may seemed like it was talking about me some years ago. No I really didn't live 20 years in a motel but I did live in one eight months once. I wasn't married in fact I hadn't yet even met my bride to be. But the 4 room suite I lived in was a comfortable home.

I read today of a British couple, man and wife, have been calling a roadside motel home for more than 20 years. Why? "We never have to do the laundry or cooking", they said.

David Davidson, and his wife, Jean first tried out a Travelodge hotel while visiting a sick aunt way back in the 80's -- and became instantly hooked.

Their home 'room' is near Grantham, on the A1 motorway between London and Edinburgh. They have a grand view ... of the parking lot. Well actually if they look beyond that they can jazz it up a bit by watching the trucks that rumble past
day and night.

"We get great rates, now because we book well in advance in fact years in advance and we even have our own personal housekeeper. It doesn't get much better than that, does it?"

The husband was a former sailor in the Royal Navy so maybe that is why the small living space doesn't bother him. The wife added "We do have to be a bit choosy about what we keep in our room as it can fill up easily."

The couple figure they have spent around 100,000 pounds renting which works out to as little as 15 pounds a night. The couple reminded everyone they don't get hit with huge heating bills over the winter.

Ten years ago the motel renamed their room The Davidsons' Suite and mounting a plaque in the reception to mark their 10-year anniversary.

Some people may think David and Jean Davidson are totally bonkers to have spent
the last 25 years living in a hotel. But the amount they have spent is about the same as people would spend on their mortgages, but with no housework and no
utility bills. What's not to like?"

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It all started way back in 1962. Frane Selak, a music teacher, was traveling on business from his home to Dubrovnik on the train. Inexplicably the train jumped the track approaching a bridge and plunged down the ravine into the icy river below. Seventeen people were killed but Selak managed to free himself from the wreckage and swim ashore, bruised, battered and with a broken arm he then fought off hypothermia until help arrived. He was just glad to be alive.

One year later in 1963, Frane was once again traveling on business in a plane between Zagreb and Rijeka when the door blew off the plane which sucked Mr. Selak out of the aircraft. Moments later the plane crashed killing all 19 aboard. Selak woke-up in the hospital with only minor cuts and bruises having landed …yes in a haystack.

In 1966 Selak was riding in a bus that hit a slick spot in the road, and skidded into a river. This time only four people were killed but once again Selak escaped with minor cuts and bruises.

Four years later in 1970 while driving along his car caught on fire. He managed to get stopped and jump to safety just as the fuel tank exploded and the car was engulfed in flames.

In 1973 while driving another car, the fuel pump failed, spraying everything under the hood with gasoline. With flames shooting out of the air vents Selak once again jumped to safety. He was basically unhurt except for the loss of the some hair. This is when his friends started calling him “Lucky”.

More than twenty uneventful years passed and Mr. Selak thought his exciting run was over. But in 1995 Frane was crossing a street when an out of control city bus struck him sending him flying onto the concrete. He got up and walked away, suffering only minor injuries.

1996 turned out to be exciting as well. While driving on a mountainous road near his home he was met by out of control United Nations truck heading straight for him. He quickly chose to drive his car into a rail to avoid the head-on collision. The guard rail gave way and his ran straight off the cliff. Again keeping his wits Selak jumped from his vehicle as it plummeted 300 feet down the cliff and exploded. He landed in a tree unhurt once again.

His amazing run came into play again in 2003 when Mr. Selak decided he had enough of cheating death and at the age of 74 figured it was time live the sweet life. He went and purchased a lottery ticket hoping to get rich and retire. Wouldn’t you know it? He won! His prize was slightly more than $1,000,000 dollars from the Croatian National lottery. “I know God was watching me over all these years. I am the world’s unluckiest man, or the world’s luckiest man,” says he insist preferring the latter. He bought a house, a new car and a boat. He then married his long time sweetheart, his fifth marriage. Reflecting, “My marriages have been disasters too. “

In 2004 an Australian Television company offered a staring spot in a series of ads for Doritos, but he turned them down fearing the flight to Sydney and not wanting to “test his luck”.

This may seven years after winning the lotto, and after having cheating death seven times, Mr. Selak decided to give away his remaining fortune. He has decided that "money cannot buy happiness" and has decided to live a frugal life.

He sold his luxury home on a private island, and has given away his fortune to family and friends and moving back to his old modest home in Petrinja, south of Zagreb.

He did keep a small part of his winnings for a hip replacement operation so he could enjoy life with his wife and also so he could build a shrine to the Virgin Mary to give thanks for his luck.

Mr. Selak said he has never been happier.

"All I need at my age is my Katarina. Money would not change anything," he said. When we got married, “I knew then that I really did have a charmed, blessed life.”

What do you think? Lucky or Unlucky!

*as of this writing Mr Selak is still alive and enjoying a hopefully quiet retirement with his wife in Petrinja.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Last night my wife and I had a great 'date night ', attending a concert by Randall Bramblett. They are trying something new at the Electric City Playhouse. here in town. It was a small solo unplugged show. Just a singer-songwriter, his guitar and his piano. Randall has one of the most soulful voices I ever heard and is an outstanding musician as his hundreds of recording credits testify. But above all he is a poet, writing and singing songs with such expressive and emotional lyrics.

A lot of the almost two hours he played was songs from the new cd "Meantime" his 7th solo work. It is such a laid back easy recording. In the vein of a male Norah Jones. These songs featured just a singer and his piano. Very nice. The cd is a slight departure from his norm but after only one listen I am hooked.

The "room" as Randall refered to it was great with comfortable theater seating in a semi-round high rising layout that designed for the community playhouse productions they normaly hold. The sound was near perfect. It is a very nice place for relaxing music.

Even after a few decades in the business Randall is still a down-to-earth guy. Very open and great to talk with. He even autographed a cd for me.

Walking in the door we were greated by our friends Dan and Mary. I had not thought to inform nor invite them. It never crossed my mind, but as soon as I heard Dan's voice (he spotted me first ) I thought of all the people I know he WOULD be the one most likely to attend. I was glad he didn't miss it. We had a wonderful time. I hope they hold more events like this. I even

Here is a short ( incomplete ) list of people Randall Bramblett has recorded with :

Sea Level
Chuck Leavell
Greg Allman
Levon Helm
Allman Brothers Band
Widespread Panic
Steve Winwood
Gov't Mule
Bonnie Raitt
Delbert McClinton
Bonnie Bramlett
Roger Glover
Atlanta Rhythm Section
Elvin Bishop
Goose Creek Symphony
John Hammond
Warren Haynes
Robbie Robertson
Johnny Jenkins
Jerry Joseph
Jan Krist
Francine Reed
Vigilantes of Love
String Cheese Incident
Phoebe Snow
Grateful Dead

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I was just reading about the re-usable space plane, conventional rockets and the Space Shuttle. It got me thinking. What will NASA do with the retired Shuttles?

There were never that many to begin with. Here is a list:

  • OV-101 Enterprise; Test vehicle only, never meant for spaceflight. First free flight August 12, 1977, on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum outside Washington DC.
  • OV-099 Challenger; Was actually NASA's second orbiter to be put into service, Columbia being the first. Its maiden flight was on April 4, 1983, and it completed nine missions before breaking apart 73 seconds after the launch of its tenth mission, STS-51-L January 28, 1986, resulting in the death of all seven crew members.
  • OV-102 Columbia; Launched on April 12, 1981 , the very first Space Shuttle mission, STS-1. It completed 27 flights before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th,STS-107. All seven crew members were killed.
  • OV-103 Discovery; First flown August 30, 1984 , Discovery became the third operational orbiter, and is now the oldest orbiter in service. Discovery has flown 38 flights, more flights than any other orbiter in the fleet. The last one to date was completed on April 20, 2010. Discovery will replace Space Shuttle Enterprise in the Smithsonian, which will then be loaned to other museums.
  • OV-104 Atlantis; The fourth operational shuttle launched from the Kennedy Space Center on October 3, 1985. In early 2008, NASA officials decided to keep Atlantis flying until 2010, the projected end of the shuttle program. This reversed a previous decision to retire Atlantis in 2008. It last flew in November 2009. Atlantis is now projected to fly at least one more mission.
  • OV-105 Endeavour; Is the fifth and final spaceworthy shuttle to be built. It was constructed as a replacement for the Challenger. Endeavour first flew in May 7, 1992 on mission STS-49 and is scheduled for decommissioning in 2010. NASA expects to use Endeavour for the STS-134 mission, final shuttle mission. It is likely that Endeavour will then go to March Field Museum near Riverside, California.

The final retirement of the remaining Space Shuttle fleet, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour will be here soon. All three are expected to be placed on public display. And more than 20 museums currently vying for one. Insiders expect the winners to be Either the March Field museum, the Johnson Space Center in Houston; U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio; the Museum of Flight in Seattle; or the Intrepid Air & Space Museum in New York City.

Where ever the winning museums may be they will need deep pockets to cover expenses. Recently NASA set the price of its museum-bound space shuttles at $28.2 million. In addition the chosen museums will have to pay for ferrying the orbiters atop NASA's modified Boeing 747 aircraft from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to their destination. Then there is the price associated with the display, areas and parking. The clock is ticking. Museums need to raise funds and build the required indoor housing for the shuttles.

A little cheaper would have been acquiring the soviet Shuttle prototype "Buran". But Buran was destroyed in a hangar collapse on May 12, 2002 in Kazakhtan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome The collapse killed 7 workers and destroyed the orbiter. It had flown one time, UNMANNED back in 1988. Construction was started on four others but never completed. Interestingly a unmanned 1/8th scale of the Buran, the BOR-5 ("Kosmos") flew on several sub-orbital flights, and was offered for sale on E-Bay opening at $98,000. The auction failed to attract a bid high enough to merit what the seller wants for it and it was removed unsold.

NASA expects to have the Shuttle replacement craft, Orion ready to fly no later than 2014. Assuming it survives the budget cuts and the Obama administration flip-flops .

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Cinco de Mayo

Happy 5th of May

Since I was a teen living in Southern California I have celebrated Cinco de Mayo. Our school band always attended a big festival, parade and fair. Held in the desert town of Indio California. It was so much fun. Fair midways, rides, exhibits, lights sounds. Ladies in colorful dresses dancing. Mariachis strolling around playing lively tunes. And the food. Oh the food. But my favorite was the ostrich races. The held camel racing too, but come-on. A kid riding ( ok holding on for dear life ) on the back of a giant bird. That's funny stuff.

Cinco de Mayo is not an America Holiday. It should be. And it is not the Mexican Independence day holiday. It should be. That in fact is 15th of September ( 1810 ) .

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of a smashing military victory over a large force of Mexican army traitors and the French soldiers at the battle of Pubela, East of Mexico City in 1862.

Enough history, today is the 5th of May. And I am celebrating it. Tonight I am cooking a Mexican Dinner with all the trimmings for Kristie and myself. But right now I am playing some Latin Music and having tacos.

Join me.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Where did headlight dimmer switches used to be located?

a. On the floor shift knob
b. On the floor, left of the clutch
c. Next to the horn

2. The bottle top of a Royal Crown Cola bottle has holes in it. For what was it used?

a. Capture lightning bugs.
b. To sprinkle clothes before ironing
c. Large salt shaker

3. Why was having milk delivered a problem in northern winters?

a. Cows got cold and wouldn't produce
b. Ice on highways forced delivery by dog sled
c. Milkmen left deliveries outside doors and milk would freeze, expanding and pushing up the cardboard bottle top.

4. What was the popular chewing gum named for a game of chance?

a. Blackjack
b. Gin
c. Craps

5. What method did women adapt to look as if they were wearing stockings when none was available due to rationing during W.W.II?

a. Suntan
b. Leg painting
c. Wearing slacks

6. What postwar car turned automotive design on its ear when you couldn't tell whether it was coming or going?

a. Studebaker
b. Nash Metro
c. Tucker

7. Which was a popular candy when you were a kid?

a. Strips of dried peanut butter
b. Chocolate-licorice bars
c. Wax coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside

8. How was Butch wax used?

a. To stiffen hair cut into a flattop so it stood up
b. To make floors shiny and prevent scuffing
c. On the wheels of roller skates to prevent rust

9. Before inline skates, how did you keep your roller skates attached to your shoes?

a. With clamps, tightened by a skate key
b. Woven straps that crossed the foot
c. Long pieces of string or twine

10. As a kid, what was considered the best way to reach a decision?

a. Consider all the facts
b. Ask Mom
c. Eeny-meeny-miney-mo

11. What was the worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex?

a. A cold
b. VD
c. Cooties

12. "I'll be down to get you in a ________, Honey?"

a. SUV
b. Taxi
c. Streetcar

13. What was the name of Caroline Kennedy's pet pony?

a. Old Blue
b. Paint
c. Macaroni

14. What was a Duck-and-Cover Drill?

a. Part of the game of hide and seek
b. What you did when your mom called you in to do chores
c. Hiding under your desk, covering your head with your arms in an A bomb drill

15. What was the name of the Indian Princess on the Howdy Doody show?

a. Princess Summerfallwinterspring
b. Princess Sacajewea
c. Princess Moonshadow

16. What did all really savvy students do when mimeographed tests were handed out in school?

a. Immediately sniffed the purple ink, as this was believed to get you "high"
b. Made paper airplanes to see who could sail theirs out the window
c. Wrote another pupils name on the top, to avoid failure

17. Why did your mom shop in stores that gave Green Stamps with purchases?

a. To keep you out of mischief licking the backs, which tasted like bubble gum
b. They could be put in special books and redeemed for various household items
c. They were given to the kids to be used as stick on tattoos

18. "Praise the Lord, and pass the _________?"

a. Meatballs
b. Dames
c. Ammunition

19. What was the name of the group who made the song "The Gypsy" a hit in the US?

a. The Ink Spots
b. The Supremes
c. The Esquires

20. Who left his heart in San Francisco?

a. Tony Bennett
b. Zavier Cugat
c. George Gershwin


1. b) On the floor, left of the clutch. Hand controls, popular in Europe, took till the '60s to catch on.

2. b) To sprinkle clothes before ironing. Who had a steam iron?

3. c) Cold weather caused the milk to freeze and expand, popping the bottle top.

4. a) Blackjack Gum.

5. b) Special makeup was applied followed by drawing a seam down the back of the leg with eyebrow pencil.

6. a) 1946 Studebaker.

7. c) Wax coke bottles containing super-sweet colored water.

8. a) Wax for your flat top (butch) haircut.

9. a) With clamps, tightened by a skate key, which you wore on a shoestring around your neck.

10. c) Eeny-meeny-miney-mo.

11. c) Cooties.

12. b) Taxi. Better be ready by half-past eight!

13. c) Macaroni.

14. c) Hiding under your desk, covering your head with your arms in an A-bomb drill.

15. a) Princess Summerfallwinterspring. She was another puppet.

16. a) Immediately sniffed the purple ink to get "high."

***Two other answers Could be appropriate:

b. Made paper airplanes to see who could sail theirs out the window

c. Wrote another pupil' s name on the top, to avoid their failure

17. b) Put in a special stamp book, they could be traded for household items at the Green Stamp store.

18. c) Ammunition, and we'll all be free.

19. a) The all male, all black group, The Inkspots.

20. a) Tony Bennett and he sounds just as good today.


17 — 20 correct: You are not only older than dirt, but obviously gifted with mind bloat. Now if you could only find your glasses.

12 — 16 correct: Not quite dirt yet, but your mind is definitely muddy.

0 – 11 correct: You are a sad excuse of a geezer. Redeem yourself by declaring to everyone that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I wish I could claim this photo, but it's an official NASA photo of the shuttle Endeavour silhouetted against Earth's horizon. It was taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station just before Endeavour docked just after midnight on Feb. 10, 2010 during the STS-130 mission.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Kind of a nice idea , eh?