Thursday, November 16, 2017

Singapore - The Botanical Gardens

Singapore is often called the Garden City, so of course we had to visit the botanical gardens.

The gardens from the outside look like two large domes, with posts that look like large trees in a large courtyard in front of them.

As you enter the gardens after paying the entry fee, you see a waterfall with two walkways that circle the perimeter of the entire building letting you look down upon the natural beauty before you.

Flowers are all around you as you stroll through the gardens.

There are multiple levels to the gardens, including a lower level forming a cave complete with stalagmites and stalactites.

Ascending the highest walkway around the inside of the dome, to the cloud forest, we looked down through the mist left by the waterfalls.

The large posts outside in the shape of trees are lit up at night.

Each night there's a musical show with the trees all pulsing different colors.

As we visited during the National Day celebrations, the songs were distinctly patriotic and stressed the unity of Singapore's people and that Singapore was their home.

Yes, they were really pushing the "One Nation Singapore" theme.

The gardens are a really beautiful spot to see in Singapore, with an amazing variety of flowers and plants from the tropics and elsewhere, and the night show with all of the posts pulsating in time to the music was really neat to watch and the gardens are well worth visiting and enjoying.

So That's Why Clinton Allegations Are Resurfacing Now

The Detroit Free Press: Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump in 2020? Poll predicts winner

The Democrat establishment seems to be trying to clear away the obstacles, namely a very large one named Hillary Clinton, for Joe Biden to run as the Democrat establishment candidate in 2020.

If former Vice President Joe Biden is thinking about a run for president in 2020, there's reason to believe he could do well against President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, polling firm Morning Consult and the publication POLITICO put out a survey showing Biden leading Trump 46% to 35% in a hypothetical race between the two for president in 2020.

Of course whether the creepy Uncle Joe allegations slow down the Biden train, or his numerous gaffes. Biden's gaffes, even as the media will likely go full court-press to cover for him. are the gifts from the git that keep on giving.

Biden's latest but likely base-pleasing gaffe that the hero who stopped the church shooting using an AR15 should not have been allowed to have an AR15 will go over well with the anti-gun elites in the party. But, the gaffe likely cost him in the election as gun control and gun bans don't seem to be playing nor polling well.

Of course, these same polling organizations that claim Biden will win it in 2020 are the very same ones that proclaimed Hillary! was inevitably going to take it in a walk.

That didn't quite happen, and any proclamations of an inevitable Biden victory should be taken with a very large, gaffe and creepy crusted grain of salt.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Blue On Blue

The Detroit News: DPD Chief: Cop fight during raid 'embarrassing'

Officers from the 11th Precinct ha a search warrant for a suspected drug house and as they approached the house they came upon undercover officers from the 12th precinct that were apparently doing undercover buy/bust work.

The meeting did not go well.

The plain-clothes officers were directed to the ground and at some point, an officer from the 11th Precinct pointed a shotgun at the officers, Craig said.

"Once that brief encounter was over, the 11th Precinct officers continued on to execute the search warrant," he said. "So this is when things started to go terribly wrong."

As officers from the 11th Precinct entered the home, officers from the 12th Precinct also entered and a dispute began, the chief said.

"We know from video there was arguing, some pushing and shoving and at one point, one officer grabbed another in a headlock and there was a subsequent punch," Craig said.

He said the officer who was struck retaliated with another punch. One officer was treated at a hospital for a contusion on his lip and the other was treated at a different hospital for a black eye. Both were released after being treated, he said.

Apparently the house in question was in the 11th Precinct on the border with the 12th Precinct and both Precincts failed to coordinate their activities with each other. None of the officers were badly hurt and it could have been worse, wiht luck they'll coordinate their actions better in the future.

Seatbelts Save Lives, But Only If Actually Used

Failing to wear them doesn't.

The Detroit Free Press: Crash on I-94 in Harper Woods kills 4 people; toddler survives

About 1 a.m. Monday morning, a 2006 Buick SUV with five people inside was traveling at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control while trying passing another vehicle and struck the 8 Mile overpass in Harper Woods, according the the release. Four adults between the ages of 18 and 25 were instantly killed in the crash, MSP said. The release also stated that none of the adults were wearing a seat belt.

None of the adults were wearing a seat belt, and both males were apparently ejected from the vehicle during the crash. The vehicle managed to cross three lanes of oncoming traffic before hitting the overpass bridge and the only survivor was a toddler that was properly buckled in.

Not much good happens when you're speeding along unbelted at one in the morning. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether alcohol was a factor in reducing judgment and ability.

A stupid waste on all counts.

One Would Think That Would Be Important To Know . . .

The Wall Street Journal: Equifax CEO to Congress: Not Sure We Are Encrypting Data

"Not sure" is possibly dissimulation for "No, we're not encrypting data", or "Don't tell the boss we're not encrypting data".

After one of the largest and most publicized data breaches in history, for Equifax not to be 100% positive that all pertinent consumer data in their possession is encrypted as an additional line of defense should be considered nothing short of a criminal failure.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Flying - Rockin' The Pattern in The Gloom

I had planned yet again for a day to fly out to Jackson and meet up with a fellow pilot friend for lunch. Today would yet again not be that day.

The weather was VFR not recommended all the way out there, some icing Airmets and MVFR conditions at Pontiac, and it was lightly raining.

I headed to the airport anyways even as the cross-country was completely out, just to see if I could get in some flight time.

Arriving there at noon, the flight school dispatcher stated there was no VFR flying outside the airport environs but pattern was ok.

So I preflighted N8570F in the light drizzle and started her up.

Visibility was about 5 miles, ceilings were low at 2,000 feet, but the wind started out calm, and the light rain didn't really interfere with flying. It was definetly a pattern day as low overcast was in every direction.

I joined the pattern for 27R traffic after a nice smooth takeoff. I then found the top door latch, which I had closed, was not very latchy, and I got some extra air conditioning from the wind. The main latch held and it was no real issue - don't let yourself get distracted by it and fly the plane first. I followed a Piper Warrior around the pattern and landing number one was very nice and smooth. I then opened and shut the door again but the upper latch still didn't fully latch shut. No big deal and I continued the patterns with a little more wind noise than usual.

Landing number 2 was simply sublime - the plane literally went from flying to rolling with no perceptible impact with the ground. That was a landing to savor.

Pattern number three was fun as I was to follow a Diamond and couldn't pick it out of the soupy, greyish sky for nothing. I finally caught sight of it turning base and then continued my downwind and came in and did another nice landing adjusting for the extended downwind I took while trying to find it, and then landing as it did the go part of a touch and go.

There were a few jets coming in on the parallel runway, and with the wind calm they had a jet do a takeoff from 9R so we had opposite traffic which was interesting with my plane leaving from 27R and us flying past each other.

The wind then kicked up for Pattern 4 blowing from 180 degrees at 8 knots - no big deal at all, and I nicely did the crosswind correction and on the 180 degree direct 8 knot crosswind the upwind wheel touched down first, followed by the downwind wheel and then finally the nose wheel. Just as it should and I was quite happy.

The wind continued to blow from 180-220 degrees between 5-8 knots the rest of the time and it took only a slight bit of crosswind correction to handle.

Pattern 5 I came in a bit high and adjusted and made yet another nice landing, followed by my practicing a short field takeoff for variety, and then 2 more great landings on Patterns 6 and 7 and I decided to call it a day.

No bounces, no hard landings, and every landing was one that I would be proud to call my own and importantly they were all consistently good. To say I had a lot of fun up there today would be an understatement.

1.2 and 7 landings.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Affordable Care, Accessible Care, or Amazing Care - Pick Two, or Maybe Just One

There's an interesting article over how on Doctor found out how insurance preauthorization requests for medicine are dealt with, and to someone with no idea of economics, nor of the messed-up state of our health system it seems shocking.

Medpage Today: Who Actually Is Reviewing All Those Preauthorization Requests?

While it is on the Internet, there's no reason to disbelieve the veracity of the account. Some Facebook friends were in high dudgeon over how dare an insurance company deny requests due to cost, after all how dare they?

As explained in the account, if they approve every expensive treatment to everyone who requests it the system goes broke - and fast.

Obamacare isn't making it any better and if anything is making it worse combining even more byzantine regulations, taxes, and fees that serve to subsidize one portion of the population at the expense of everyone else.

While some people demand we adopt the Canadian health care system, that system scores high on affordable (to the patients if not the government and overall payers) but low on accessibility due to wait times and low on amazing as many treatments are withheld or denied due to lack of resources as everyone is scrambling for all of it. You'll get access to care all right, in a few months or years, eventually, if you don't die first. Canada while excellent for access to emergency medicine is pretty lousy for access to non-emergency issues - average time in Ontario for an MRI for example is 101 days. Depending on the situation, you may not have that time to wait, not to mention waiting possibly in pain for 100 days to get whatever is wrong diagnosed. Looking over that site, while they often claim they're close to hitting their targeted date, the date itself for many procedures is set pretty darn far out beyond what would be acceptable to people in the USA to make it an achievable goal with the resources they have, and they often can't hit it even after they set it up with that in mind.

Yes, the US Healthcare system is a complete mess, so much so that it's hard to tell what the cost for a procedure even is before you have it, and depending on the insurance you have, you might pay for some, all, or none of it. Even the amount actually paid for the procedure after it is billed can also vary dramatically.

Adding to the fun the US Pharmaceutical market subsidizes the world market in pharmaceuticals as the same drug s sold cheaper elsewhere due to either government purchases and formularies or because the company knows that Americans can be made to pay more. Since people in other countries can't, the companies decide to make less overall profit in those countries but maintain some volume there and make at least something for their drugs and they then makeup the profit margins back in the US.

No easy answers to the problem, and anyone who tells you they can get you Affordable Care, Accessible Care, and Amazing Care all together just by adopting their genius plan to revise the American healthcare system is lying to you.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

PPO Fun in Court Today

Today was Personal Protection Order day in court.

Oftentimes and as was seen in court today, a Personal Protection Order is sought sometimes just because some people can't communicate effectively nor take "No" for an answer, or for some serious and actual threats or acts of violence. We got to see both examples while I was waiting for my client to be called.

We had EXs sparring over nasty emails sent to each other and the court told them to play nice or else but did not enter the PPO in that case.

We had a case where a dingbat separated from his wife broke down her door and punched a visitor at the house thinking he was involved with his ex, and yes a PPO was justly entered in that one.

My client had a higher end threat to deal with and quite the story to tell. You see, he was in a romantic relationship with a lady who apparently liked having ongoing multiple yet separate relationships with her being the part of multiple couples and couplings so to speak. He was ok with the non-exclusivity part yet it turned out another boyfriend, who we shall name Mongo for both his intellect and overall size, was not.

Said boyfriend Mongo gets liquored up one night, buys some knives and ammo and starts heading to my clients' place where he knows my client and the lady are located. Oh, and he was wearing a skull mask while driving there, and it sure wasn't Halloween.

Luckily for all concerned, Mongo was stopped by police on his way to carry out his plan and they have him clearly and cleanly for DUI....and then they find the knives and other accoutrements in the vehicle. The police, being rather perceptive police and on the ball after stopping a drunken masked man with knives and ammo, after Mirandizing him ask Mongo what that's all for.

Remember the line from Ron White that he had the right to remain silent but lacked the ability? If you haven't seen that clip, click and go forth and watch it, it is worth it.

Mongo sure lacked the ability.

At the roadside Mongo says he was heading over there to kill them. This definitely piques the police's interest. After further custodial interrogation and after he's Mirandized yet again Mongo again states he is heading over to kill them and doesn't care if he goes to jail. Mongo does not wax poetic on being a pawn in the game of life, Mongo instead wants to go kill people.

So why yes, he does go to jail.

Then he pleads guilty to two felonies, one of which is carrying a weapon with unlawful intent - said unlawful intent being to do in my client, and the DUI. But, Mongo gets time served while waiting to be sentenced, and is released on probation upon entry of his plea and is now out on the streets.

This makes my client a little concerned so we file a PPO and have the hearing today.

After making a record of the incident to the court and other procedural niceties, relaying the facts and circumstances and the very credible nature of the threats and subsequent felony convictions that arose from the incident, the court has no problem entering the PPO against Mongo.

I also advised my client that getting a firearm, a CPL and appropriate training would likely be a valuable option in case Mongo decides to get frisky again and shows up at his house to carry out his threat.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

What No Call For T-Dog To Go Vote?

Detroit is on the cusp of another mayoral election. It's a choice of sticking with competent progress and rebirth or regressing to the bad ol' racially-charged days of yore that led to the city's collapse.

On one side there's the current Mayor Mike Duggan who, for all his association with the MacNamara Democrat machine in Wayne County politics, is at least quite competent and has done some very good things for Detroit, including hiring and backing Police Chief Craig.

On the other side of this Democrat-on-Democrat election (Republicans need not apply to run for mayor in Detroit) is Coleman Snow, sorry, Coleman Young Junior (nee Joel Loving), who is basically an actual bastard in the Game of Thrones illegitimate sense trading on his father's name (which does seem to be working and drawing support) and little else.

Coleman's use of the race card is so frequent it has got to be burning a hole in his pocket.

Some choice statements include:

Young said, “It's time to take back the motherland for the people.”
Yes, really as well as claims of apartheid and invoking the memory of Malice Green of all people.

Basically he's running a pure hard left racial campaign hitting all the doctrinal high points.

Except for excessive use of the race card fun and pandering to the lowest common denominator, with ideas such as ordering the police to ignore drivers without insurance and not be permitted to ask for proof of insurance, Coleman is not offering much but the same old, same old, trading on his father's name and some racial animosity.

On this election day we got the following exhortation from him, an exhortation to vote that you don't typically get in a mayoral race:

He also encouraged Detroiters to get out and vote Tuesday.

“Vote Coleman Young,” he said. “Take Ray-Ray, take Pookie, take all them out to the polls and make sure they vote and they vote for Coleman Young.”

Seriously, how did he forget T-Dog? T-Dog be angry that he be disrespected by not being invited by name, ya know?

Hopefully, Detroit voters will not fall for the race-baiting Coleman Young Jr and take a giant leap backwards. Mayor Duggan may not be perfect, but he's head and shoulders above Coleman in competence and he has an actual track record of accomplishments in improving the city.

Election Results Update: Duggan trounced Young 72% to 28%. That 28% of Detroit voters voted for Young is rather worrisome but at least 72% had enough sense to back the mayor who is actually doing good things for the city.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Scenes From Court: Learn To Quit While You’re Behind

People will often talk themselves into more trouble than out of it during a traffic stop. They’ll also talk themselves into more trouble than not at court.

So I’m waiting for my clients case to be called and I get to listen in on a case. The fellow in question being represented by a public defender for his DUI offense. This isn’t his first, he has two other DUI charges pending in two other courts which means he was driving drunk a lot in a very narrow space of time. Including one of the DUIs, as it turns out, being when he was on the job, which led him to be fired as a delivery driver.

Of course, he has a compelling story of tragic recent loss of his wife that led him to both depression and the bottle, and you can feel for him and hope he turns his life around. The judge is sympathetic, decides she wants not to send him to jail but instead to a sobriety court program. Sounds like a good resolution and an opportunity for him to get his life back on track. Then he opens his mouth and it all starts to go downhill.

The Judge asks him how he got here and he said his friend who dropped him off. Ok, the judge says his ride needs to check in with the court before he leaves and he’ll be all set. He then instead of saying a simple "Yes Judge, thank you.", says he needs to go to the parking lot to his van to get his phone to call his friend to come pick him up.

His van.

The judge is suddenly rather interested in how the van got there and why his driver would not be with it. The judge notes that as they have video of the parking lot if he gets in and drives away on a suspended license he's going to jail.

He starts to give a story about the van belonging to his dad who is now too old to drive, and that his ride lives close by and walked home after dropping him off and the judge doesn't buy it at all. There's way too many inconsistencies and he's a lousy liar. He finally admits he drove to court himself.

The quickest way to get yourself into more trouble for any offense involving a suspended license is to drive to the court for your hearing about the offense leading to your suspended license yourself. Take a cab, take an Uber, take a reliable friend (hopefully not driving on a suspended license themselves), but whatever you do, don't drive yourself to court, it never works out well.

The judge lets him know that the van is going to be clubbed in place and he's not to drive and lets him know that the rules apply to everyone including those with a tragic loss and drunken driving offenses. She defers his sentencing to decide what to do with him and lets him know if he drives at all in the meantime before his new sentencing, including the fact that he did drive on a suspended license and tried to deceive the court, he will go to jail.

Don't drink and drive, don't drive yourself to the hearing, and don't lie to the court. One would think that all of this should be pretty easy to figure out and it would be easy to avoid the resultant snowball of stupidity, but for some people, not so much.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

Halloween began with the kids carving pumpkins to their liking:

One went for scary, the other elementary.

In full-on dark they really popped:

Then our eldest having already decided that as she is almost 14 she was too old to go trick or treating so she went to hang out with a friend.

The rest of us went to a friend's place for a Halloween pre-treat gathering, and then did a blitz of their neighborhood searching for candy.

A quick group pose and they were off:

Much candy was retrieved from their neighborhood and much fun and friendship was had while doing so. The adults kept everyone safe, especially with the occasional car coming by, and while it was cold out it was happily neither windy nor raining and was a rather pleasant evening considering it had sprinkled snow here this morning.

The kids all had a great time as did the adults as adult beverages to fortify our expedition were generously passed around. Good times and good people.

Smoking Salmon In The Rain

On Sunday, Tash noted that I should smoke something.

Since she desired some fresh smoked salmon, some fresh smoked salmon she would have.

I bought a salmon fillet and after curting it in half as it was rather large, and washing it off covered it in a mix of 1 cup salt and 3 cups brown sugar, covered over the tray with saran wrap and left it in the fridge overnight. By morning there was a syrup-consistency and colored fluid all about it in the tray as the salt and sugar did their work to draw the moisture from the salmon. I drained it, flipped it and went to work.

Coming home from work last night I removed it from the tray and there was even more liquid, briefly rinsed it off, patted it dry and started the smoker.

It was rainy and cold and I found that peanut oil really helps get the coals going when you soak the newspaper in it.

I added boiling water to the smoking bowl and placed the locally-sourced apple wood in the smoker in the base and waited for the charcoal to be ready.

Then I took the fillet and placed it on the smoker.

Then I added the burning charcoal, placed the smoker top over the base and let it smoke away. It was hard to get it up to temp as it was cold and wet out but after 2 and a half hours of smoking it was ready.

It tasted great when served with some freshly mashed potatoes and all concerned, including the dog, were quite happy with the way the salmon came out.

Yes, the Salmon was most agreeable, I must say.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Stop Playing With It, Part The Umpteenth

The Detroit News: Police: Man finds gun, accidentally shoots self

Yes it's a tale of Detroit Dude, a close relative of Florida Man, but still:

A 20-year-old Detroit man is recovering after shooting himself with a gun he apparently found in a heat vent outdoors on the city's west side.

. . .

Witnesses told police that after finding a handgun in a heat vent in the area, the man was playing with the gun when it went off and shot him.

Yet another reason why basic firearms handling safety and the 4 rules should be taught in schools as part of health class.

Guns aren't for "playing with". Unfamiliar firearms you happen to find that were probably hidden in a heating vent are even less so.

The gun didn't "go off" - He was probably clowning around with his finger on the trigger or otherwise fiddling with it while pointing it at his bodily appendages, and he had a negligent discharge as a result.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

No Aerial Joy In Mudville Today

Very low overcast layer at 1,000-2,000 feet all along my planned route of flight. Too darn low.

I had planned to fly to an airport and meet another pilot friend there for breakfast.

No such luck.

It should clear later in the day. . . . by the time I don't have a plane available.

Getting an IFR rating is moving up the priority list.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Another Reason Why The Libertarian Party Just Isn't Taken Seriously

They run candidates like these for office:

New York Post: NYC mayoral candidate once tried to hijack an airplane

Yes, it's true the Libertarian Party's symbol should be changed to a white circle on a red background. After all they have a snowballs chance in hell of winning even if they ran a credible candidate and when they even fail to vet or run credible candidates . . . .

Well, that low chance of winning is compounded and reinforced when the candidates they do run are simply not credible - either ex-mental patients with a history of hijacking an aircraft, or recently the episode when their Party Chairman decides to let it all hang out and run around naked on stage during the party's presidential convention. Yeah, that inspires confidence.

The image most people have of the Libertarian Party is that of a bunch of doctrinal college students hanging out in their parents' basements smoking weed, reading some Ayn Rand, and screeching "taxation is theft!" during a full moon.

Since you can push for legalizing marijuana with the Democratic party and tax cuts with the Republican Party it kinda makes their base of support rather thin.

Seriously, did no one think that running this guy was a bad idea and that somehow he wouldn't make the LP look even more of a joke and fundamentally unserious and incapable of winning an election than it is?

That's the Libertarian Party, having what should be the best political message - Freedom - and then consistently coupling it with the most inept and incompetent presentation, marketing, execution, and candidates.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

On Infrastructure

Going on five days without potable water being pumped to the house does lead one to think. Water pressure is pretty much restored but were still under a boil water advisory. I still have plenty of bottled water on hand and it is still just an inconvenience to me at least. But it certainly shows some serious issues with our infrastructure. Apparently it should be restored fully by midnight Friday and then everybody has to flush their house lines, which should give the local sewer system one heckuva workout.

This incident leads to a few observations:

First, when you have any disruption to society's typically smooth-flowing infrastructure the panic gets rather palpable - people around here the first day or two of this crisis have been clearing out all drinking water from store shelves - completely. Its now been restocked in most places and while the water issue has affected a very large area of southeastern Michigan one can only imagine if the size of the affected area was much larger how much worse it would be.

Second, people hate that the law of supply and demand becomes very visibly in effect during a crisis. A gas station in Commerce Township was selling cases of bottled water for $19 a case of 40 bottles and people were flipping out and complaining on Facebook etc about gouging. The same bottles they would have no problem buying for $1 each from a cooler they suddenly hate the idea of buying a case of bottles at .48 cents each as pre-crisis a case of the water was about 5 bucks. In places where the price stayed at 5 bucks, there were empty shelves. The higher price encouraged the gas station owner to have it in stock and those who wanted it at that price paid it. Your choice, had you not stocked up on it prior to the break was either none or $19.

Third, we don't pay nearly enough attention to infrastructure. it's simply not sexy.

Few politician wants to be seen ribbon-cutting at a refurbishment of a water processing plant. No politicians, none, no mater how they may deserve it, would like a sewer line named after them.

Maintenance gets short-shrift as maintaining power lines, sewer and water lines tend to not be noticed until they break and society then notices their lack very quickly indeed. The sorry state of the roads around here is illustrative of the failure to maintain what is already in place. Lots of the infrastructure around here is old and getting older and failure to have enough funds to maintain and improve it over time is going to lead to a much larger bill as politicians keep kicking the can down the road until it becomes too big a failure to go unnoticed. Add the endemic corruption in Wayne County and Detroit, with its sorry legacy of diverting water and sewer funding (including payments form the suburban communities around Detroit) into a slush fund for political patronage and the problem gets even worse. The longer we wait to fix the issues and defer the needed maintenance, the more expensive it gets and the higher the consequences when failure inevitably happens.

The historic lack of spending on infrastructure in this area is unconscionable even as its understandable for politicians to spend money on more shiny and visible things for their constituents and to buy their votes and feather their own nests rather than on the necessary but not necessarily seen supports for decent civilized living. The consequences of the political misalignment of priorities are fast coming to a head and this should be seen as a wake-up call rather than an unexpected and unanticipated incident to be forgotten once the pipe is fixed.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Unknown World War Two Tales - The Tragedy Of The Cap Arcona And The Thielbek

The Cap Acona was a German liner of the Hamburg-South America Line, that interestingly enough stood in for the Titanic in the German movie of 1942 named, creatively enough, Titanic.

From operating as a cruise liner prior to the outbreak of the war, she was then painted grey and entered war service and its last runs were evacuating German soldiers in the Baltic from the advancing Soviet Army.

She then was floating in the Bay of Lubeck along with the SS Thielbek

and the SS Deutschland.

Himmler had ordered that concentration camp inmates were not to be allowed to be rescued by the allies alive.

Himmler and other Nazis, seeking to hide evidence of their crimes sought to wipe away all evidence.

Concentration camp inmates, mainly from the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg, and the Stutthof and Mittelbau-Dorastarting camps began on April 20, 1945 and prisoners were ferried to and loaded on the ships Cap Arcona, Thielbek and Deutschland. The Cap Arcona, a liner by this time did not have functioning engines.

When the ships were full and there were still more concentration camp inmates from Stutthof and Mittelbau-Dorastarting could not be loaded, the SS simply machine-gunned or beat to death 500 inmates on the beach.

The full ships with prisoners locked aboard lacked the facilities for caring for them and 20-30 of the prisoners died daily from April 20 up to May 3, 1945. Hitler had already shot himself on April 30, but the killing went on.

The SS planned to sink the ships with all aboard. In a terrible irony of war, It turns out they would not be the ones to sink the ships after all. The ships were to be sunk by the Allies.

On May 3, 1945 just days before the end of the war, Typhoon fighter-bombers of Royal Air Force 83 Group roared overhead and commenced an attack, firing rockets and dropping bombs on the ships, and then strafing survivors in the water.

While Swedish and Swiss Red Cross officials had informed British intelligence on 2 May 1945 of the presence of large numbers of prisoners on ships at anchor in Lübeck Bay, and RAF intelligence was informed of this, this vital information failed to be passed on to the RAF pilots who were instead instructed to attack the ships on the belief that they might be used by the SS to escape and set up resistance elsewhere.

Wracked by rocket fire and bombs, The Cap Arcona was immediately set on fire and capsized soon afterward.

The Thielbeck was set afire and capsized in 20 minutes.

The Deutschland also capsized and sank but apparently all on board survived and were then loaded onto the SS Athen.

5,000 died when the Cap Arcona sank with only 350 concentration camp inmates surviving. By comparison, 490 of the 600 Germans on board survived.

Of the 2,800 prisoners aboard Thielbek, only 50 survived the attack.

The SS then proceeded to shot those survivors who could not move unassisted from the water.

1971 is the last year where known bones from this attack have washed ashore.

British records relating to the incident are apparently sealed until 2045.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

If It Weren't For All The Fake Hate Crimes . . .

There may not be any hate crimes at all.

The Detroit Free Press: Eastern Michigan U. racist graffiti: Ex-student charged, did it for 'self-serving' reasons

"It was totally self-serving," Eastern Michigan University Chief of Police Robert Heighes told the media during a quick news conference. "It was not driven by politics. It was not driven by race."

Well, thank goodness for that. A black guy graffiti-ing "KKK" and "Leave N-word" around a campus cant possibly have a political or racial motivation. And if not, it sure as heck was used for both political and racial means.

Especially when his fake hate crime led to a convenient protest complete with blocking of traffic to protest the racist messages and claim systemic racism etc.

The idiot perpetrator Eddie Curlin is now charged with

three counts of malicious destruction of property; four counts of identity theft; and one count of using computers to commit a crime. Malicious destruction of property is a misdemeanor. Identity theft is a felony, as is the charge of using computers to commit a crime. Curlin was returned to the Department of Corrections following his arraignment.

Heighes said the identity thefts came to light as the department investigated the grafitti, but were not directly tied to it.

Let's hope he is prosecuted to the fullest to make other fakers of hate crimes (and perpetrators of actual hate crimes) think again before doing it.

Lonely Planet Editors Seem To Be Seriously Smoking The Electric Lettuce

The Detroit Free Press: Detroit is the No. 2 city in the world to visit, Lonely Planet says

Seriously, I had to check that it wasn't reporting form The Onion. Lonely Planet rated Detroit the 2nd top city in the word to visit right behind Seville, Spain.

Detroit just managed to eek its way ahead of both Damascus and Kabul (both somehow didn't place in the top ten), and handily beat out Olso, Canberra and Antwerp in the list, not to mention all the amazing cities that didn't make the top ten - as in most of them.

I mean this whole campaign to say good things about Detroit is nice and all, but Lonely Planet crowning it the Number 2 city in the whole freaking world to visit has just got to be SWPL ironic self-parody.

Kid Rock Won't Be Rockin' The Senate Anytime Soon

Kid Rock has now come out and declared his candidacy for senate was just a publicity stunt and he's not actually running.

The Detroit News: Kid Rock: Senate run just a publicity stunt

It's a pity. After all, he might very well have won. The powers-that-be on both sides of the aisle wouldn't have liked that very much, and one wonders what influence that had on his announcement not to run after all.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Monday Night Boil Water Advisory For The Area

Due to a major water main break, there is now a boil water advisory in effect for Wixom, Farmington Hills, Walled Lake, West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills Commerce Township, areas of Novi Oakland Township (sand Rochester Hills.

Basically one must boil any tap water and let it cool before using.

Since I keep a reserve on hand of a few cases of bottled water (Costco does make minor incident planning rather easy), this should prove to be no more than a minor inconvenience.

Of course, they just announced that schools will be closed tomorrow due to the boil water advisory, so that will prove more of an inconvenience.

Update: Boil water advisory is extended through Friday for the whole area and lots of restaurants are ordered closed. On top of that we have very low water pressure now at the house.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Smoking Ribs - It's What's For Dinner

Today was a beautifully nice and sunny day here in Southeastern Michigan. Since we hadn't done any smoking in awhile, I was requested to do so and the weather promised to be good for it.

I picked up some ribs last night and prepared them for smoking, rinsing them off, drying and then applying some yellow mustard and spices. The mustard makes the spices stick.

So today after some errands I started the smoker, getitng the charcoal going and using some locally-sourced hickory wood as the smoking wood of choice for the ribs.

Smoked to perfection for hours, and they smell and more importantly taste great.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Flying - Fly By Night To KLAN

After not having flown at night for over a year as my last night flight was in April 2016 it was time to get up again and give it a go.

Considering the long time since I had last flown at night, I decided it would be prudent to take an instructor along for safety reasons and guidance, but I would be pilot in command and sole manipulator of the controls.

I planned a flight from Pontiac to Lansing to get some cross-country time and some more experience in Class C airspace.

The instructor suggested we do some landings at Lansing to get me comfortable with playing in a Class C and to get my night rating back up current. So that is what we did and I had the route prepared. It would prove to be an experience.

I arrived at the airport and started to preflight 88J.

It was a very nice evening with light winds of 5-6 knots out of 260.

Preflight was good and it started fine but during the runup I saw two things:

1. The vacuum system was sucking, or rather not sucking enough and was making both the heading indicator and attitude indicator inoperable.

Ok, you don't need those to fly VFR bit they're certainly nice to have and I'd be happier with them functioning especially on a night flight.

2. Next, the Alternator warning light came on and stayed on.

Losing electrical power and thus all lights, turn coordinator and radios and transponder while flying at night in controlled airspace would really suck.

The instructor based on the other instruments seemed to think the alternator was working and we could try it but he asked "If you were alone, what would you do?"

I stated that two error conditions meant the plane already had two strikes and three would mean we're out, so I would not fly it under those conditions.

He said that showed good judgment and was the right decision so we parked it and got another plane.

By now it was full on dark so the red/white LED flashlight I had brought along was necessary and I used it while flying a fair bit as well, as the instrument panel lighting in the Archer left a bit to be desired at times.

So we got into N8570F and all worked on that plane. Before we took off the instructor noted I could ask Pontiac for flight following so I did cal ground and we got a transponder number and directions to call Detroit departure after we took off. Tower then cleared us for a straight out departure and off we went.

We were soon handed off to Lansing approach and as we were flying a course of 282 they said expect a landing on 28L, which is the really big runway at Lansing.

On the way another plane was also flying at 4,500 in the same general area so Lansing had us descend to 4,000 and instructed the other plane to make no altitude changes without informing them. Flight following can come quite in handy for noise abatement purposes.

As we got closer they then switched us to 28R which is the forlorn little brother to 28L. At 3,600 feet compared to 28L 8,500 it does get lost in the mix, and pilots have apparently sometimes almost landed on 28L'staxiway thinking it was 28L and 28L was 28R, especially as 28R is not as brightly lit as 28L or 24, which would cause an issue later.

So we headed in and landed on 28R. Landing at night was interesting - first off 28R really does seem like the red-headed stepchild of a runway at KLAN, and its not nearly as well nor as brightly lit as the other runways, at all.

But I found it and at night it feels like you're going to land well short of the runway. Adding to the fun is that if you fixate on the numbers during landing at night you will drive the plane right into them, you have to be ready to look down the runway and flare earlier than it feels like you need to. Yes, that first landing was a bit exciting and a little flat-ish but not terrible, but the instructor did mention I would want to flare - NOW. Some people get nervous I guess.

So we did a full stop and did a taxi back along echo and took off again, and then the fun started.

A good takeoff but the lights of 28R were quickly lost in the background as Tower had us really really extend our upwind for traffic, and as we came around I had lost 28R but the instructor saw it and then we turned cross and downwind and then final we saw it nice and lit up and made an excellent approach. Heck it was so beautiful it would be a perfect landing, I mean everything was lined up just right and we were just about to make out the numbers when....

Lansing Tower: "N8570F I show you lined up to land on Runway 24".

Oh family-blog me.

Me: "N8570F is going around". So go around we did. Good thing I'm good at those and have them down pat.

Yep, 24 was lit up brighter than a Christmas tree and drew us like moths to a flame, and with the extended upwind and with 28R by comparison being not readily visible, both the instructor and I thought we were lined up on 28R at the time.

No runway incursion occurred, problem was averted, and it was a good learning experience.

We then did a couple more landings on and takeoffs from 28R and then headed back to Pontiac again with flight following.

A good landing at Pontiac at 27R with winds calm and that was a nice cross-country night flight.

2.0 and 4 night landings.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Did Michigan Narrowly Dodge a Foxconn Con?

Michigan officials are all sad that Wisconsin got the Foxconn plant.

Now when we see what was offered we might just take a moment and be glad that as taxpayers it was Wisconcin that got it after all.

The Detroit Free Press: Michigan offered Foxconn $3.8 billion for flat screen plant, still lost to Wisconsin's $3 billion bid

The Detroit News: Inside Michigan’s $7.3B pitch to Foxconn

Note that two different news papers, owned by the same management group are about 4 billion dollars apart in their description of the offers Michigan made to Foxconn.

Ah, that's just petty cash among incentive plans, right?

So let's take the lower 3,700,000,000.00 number, noting that is about 7% of the entire state budget - for an incentive to one company.

Reading the articles its rather difficult to say how many proposed jobs were claimed to be created by these moves, nor how would actually be created by this incentive plan, and as such the following calculatiosn may be totally off under the principle of JGIGO - Journalism Garbage In, Garbage Out.

So, reading between the lines The Detroit News says of the 3 Billion portion of the offer that

Wisconsin won the first round of the Foxconn sweepstakes after finalizing a $3 billion incentive plan that will reportedly allow the company to qualify for up to $2.85 million in cash from state. Foxconn plans to build a liquid-crystal display panel plant in Racine County and will qualify for the full state incentives over 15 years if it invests $10 billion in Wisconsin and ultimately adds 13,000 jobs paying an average salary of nearly $54,000.

Basically that portion will cost Wisconsin and not Michigan now $230,769.23 per job or the government is essentially paying the $54,000 annual salary for each of these workers for about 4 years. Putting them all on welfare directly, or heck giving each of them $100,000 in cash upfront rather than having their employing unit on welfare would be cheaper, neh?

But it gets better, and possibly it will become worse for Michigan.

The Freep offers the following gem:

The jobs announcements from Foxconn may not be over, as the offers from Michigan and Wisconsin show.

Both states bid on another potential factory known as Project 868. Little is known about this plant but Michigan expected it to bring a $4.2 billion investment from Foxconn and up to 5,200 jobs. In their June letter to Foxconn, Michigan officials offered the company $3.1 billion in incentives for Project 868.

Well, 3.1 billion by 5,200 jobs is a whopping $596,153.84 subsidy per job, and dividing it at the above claimed average salary of $54,000 would mean the state via the subsidy (in other words, your taxes) would be paying the worker's wages for the company for 11 years.

How anyone thinks that Michigan winning this bid would be an actual win for Michigan taxpayers is beyond me.

Did anyone actually do a cost-benefit analysis or was the shiny lure of a technology company promising jobs in return for massive subsidies overriding any rational thought?

Sure, a ribbon cutting ceremony and a claim that high-tech manufacturing is coming to Michigan is nice and all, but the level of outright bribery involved via these incentives and the costs imposed on all the people in Michigan who are not beneficiaries of this largess is pretty much outrageous.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Unknown World War Two Tales - Frenchmen Flyers In Russia

World War 2 was by its very definition a World War, engulfing the globe and having a cast of millions. While much of the course of it is well known, there are many aspects, units, episodes, and smaller engagements within it that I certainly have not learned about and I suspect others are similarly unaware.

So I've decided to do an occasional post, and perhaps should interest be sufficient make it a regular thing on this blog on some of those lesser known episodes.

So without further ado: Frenchmen Flyers in Russia!

In 1943, at the suggestion of Charles De Gaulle, a group of French pilots was sent to assist the Russians on the Eastern Front.

Groupe de Chasse 3 of the Free French Air Force was sent to the Soviet Union to fight the Nazis, and soon became the most decorated unit in the French Air Force.

The unit was soon named the Normandie-Niemen Regiment, commemorating its contribution to the Battle of The Niemen River.

Initially flying the Yak-1 fighter that they used to good effect, and then transitioning to the superlative Yak-3 fighter, the Regiment racked up 273 enemy aircraft shot down, 37 probables, for a loss of 87 aircraft and 52 pilots.

The Yak 3 out turn and out run the Germans' Bf-109 and FW 190 fighters. German pilots were warned not to engage a Yak-3 in a dogfight below 14,000 ft, as it could roll with the Focke-Wulf Fw-190, and its turn radius was superior. With an excellent plane the excellent pilots of Normandie-Niemen made their presence felt.

Picture of a Yak 3 in Normandie-Niemen colors

Apparently the unit annoyed the Nazis so much that Field Marshall Keitel had issued an order that any French pilot captured on the eastern front would be executed rather than treated as a Prisoner of War.

4 of the French pilots were awarded the decoration of Hero of The Soviet Union, the Soviet's highest honor.

A surviving Yak 3 fighter from the Normandie-Niemen Regiment is on display at Le Bourget in France. There is a Yak 3 in flying condition at the Planes of Fame Museum in California sporting Normandie-Niemen colors.

To learn more about the story of the Normandie-Niemen Regiment, there's a book by John D. Clarke titled French Eagles, Soviet Heroes: The Normandie-Niemen Squadrons on the Eastern Front that looks rather good.

The Normandie-Niemen Squadron name lives on in active squadrons in both the French and Russian Air Forces today.

In the French Air Force as the Escadron de chasse 2/30 Normandie-Niemen, flying the Rafale, and in Russian air forces today s the "8-й гвардейский Витебский дважды Краснознаменный ордена Суворова второй степени истребительный полк ВВС России "Нормандия – Неман" of the 11th Air Army flying Mig-29s.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

No Flying Today

I had planned out a nice cross-country flight to KJXN to meet a friend who also planed to fly in for lunch at the airport.

Over the week the prog chart started looking progressively worse.

Sure enough, I cancelled last night after it was predicting low clouds and winds from 230-250 degrees at 18-30 knots (This makes for a crosswind in excess of the Archer's crosswind limits at times), and I'm glad I did.

Winds today are gusting 18-32 and there's a broken cloud layer hanging out around 1,500 feet. Either factor would be more than enough to weather cancel a flight and both make it a complete no-brainer.

Ah well, I'll get out again and hopefully soon if the weather will ever cooperate with a planned flight.

All The Ones

Yesterday consisted of a lot of running around town in the pouring rain, chauffeuring kids and doing multiple errands.

During that time, the Odometer decided to hit a numerically interesting number. Picture was taken by sidekick that I was chauffeuring around at the time while I was driving.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

More Stupid Criminal Tricks

There's a reason they're called dumb criminals folks.

Probably this is one of Livingston County Sheriff's easiest catches to date, and yet another reminder to not do drugs as they sure do make you all sorts of stupid:

The Detroit Free Press: Sheriff: Man brings heroin to girlfriend's release from jail

Yes, the idiot actually went to the Livingston County Sheriff's Office and Jail parking lot, in broad daylight, passed out in his car, likely from drug use, and had plenty of heroin in his car. They only thing he didn't provide was posting a sign in the car window stating "Idiot and drugs inside, come and get 'em".

One has to wonder if he really just wanted to give them an excuse to get him put in jail because his girlfriend was getting out.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Singapore Day 6 - To The Beach

So at my birthday party the day before, Jonathan suggested we go to Changi beach as we wanted to swim in the Pacific Ocean on our trip.

So bright and early we got on the bus to head for Changi Village.

It was a nice double-decker air-conditioned bus, figuring out the fare was interesting as the driver had limited English, and we had no Chinese and limited varieties of banknotes, and the fare is based on distance and age, but we got it figured out.

Taking the bus was rather enjoyable and we got to see quite a bit of the city. We passed by the Malabar Mosque on the way:

And the famous Gay World Hotel:

Gay in the original and very English sense of the word. That hotel has been in Singapore with that name for a very long time which might disappoint certain travelers who might book there expecting the more modern meaning.

Then we passed by the infamous Changi prison.

Yes it is the same site as the Changi prison of World War 2. The Changi World War 2 prison museum is now at a different location. The prison today still looks very imposing indeed.

The bus drops you off at a station in Changi village and it's a short walk from the bus station to the beach.

On the way you cross a bridge by the docks lined with small boats.

Then you reach the beach.

It is a nice sandy beach with trees farther back for shade. It's also quite near a shipping lane so large freighters come by while you're swimming.

The water was warm and the beach was nice and sandy, and there were nice clean changing rooms and shower facilities, and restaurants close by so we had a nice picnic lunch on the beach.

The day was full of swimming and watching the boats go by.

Not only did boats go by, as Changi Beach is, luckily for an aviation buff like myself, in the flight path to Singapore's Changi International Airport.

I may have gone a little plane crazy, with so many planes from so many different Asian airlines in liveries that I've never seen in person before (click 'em to embiggen as they say and see the liveries, quite a few of which are rather ornate):

Air Asia has a cheerful slogan: "Now Everyone Can Fly", so carry on flying Mr. B.

There was Lion Air:

There was Tiger Air:

There was no Bear Air, Oh My.

But there was Royal Brunei:

EVA Air:

Vietnam Airlines:

China Airlines:


Garuda Indonesia:



The venerable Cathay Pacific airline:

Heck, just when you get over Fox cancelling Firefly, you find out it's still flying -- in Asia:

That was quite a nice day at the beach.

After getting our fill of swimming, lunch, swimming some more, walking along the beach and sightseeing, we then took the bus back into town and had to stop for Starbucks.

However, we decided to have drinks there that you could only get in Singapore:

We got a Shiok-ah-ccino, and two more drinks that I don't remember the names of, but one was rather memorable as it had oatmeal in it which was rather interesting, but I really wouldn't recommend it. However, the Shiok-ah-ccino was very tasty as was the special iced tea drink.

Then we headed back to our abode, rested for a bit, and prepared for the next event of the day.