Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Why Detroit Can't Have Nice Things, Part The Umpteenth

Detroit's fireworks displays were again disrupted this year by innocent people being shot when in the crossfire of hood-rats having arguments.

The Detroit News: Victim recalls pain, fear after being shot at fireworks

Also in Detroit, a very eco-friendly and people-friendly Bicycle shop and its employees get death threats after a black customer first verbally abuses a Black employee for "working for the master now" (yep you can't make that up), and then the goofball makes up a claim that the store personnel jumped him because he was black, leading the usual scumbags and those with perpetual grievances to threaten the lives of the store workers and the store:

The Detroit News: Detroit bike shop closes after alleged racial incident

The headline on the article for the incident is rather misleading, do read the whole article to get an accurate picture. Note the shop being threatened is part of a group in a program giving bikes to impoverished Detroit youth and teachign them bike repair. Apparently no good deed goes unpunished in Detroit.

That's Detroit for you.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Disney Day 4 - Hollywood Studios

Our last day at Disney was dedicated to the smallest park they have, Hollywood Studios.

We had left our luggage and all bags at the hotel and traveled light for this one. You know what that means - yep, a sudden torrential downpour and no umbrellas.

e went to the Star Tours ride first. Last time Leah was 5 and didn't enjoy the experience. This time the story was different and felt less rough and shaky compared to last time and all 4 of us enjoyed it a lot, it was very well done indeed. Can't wait for Disney's Star Wars park to open.

Then we did the Great Movie Ride which was a fun relaxing tour of some great scenes of timeless films and a brief history of the silver screen.

We did the Toy Story Mania ride and had fun blasting things.

Then we headed back to the hotel, retrieved our luggage from the storage area and caught a Disney bus to the airport.

Amazingly Spirit was actually on time and we arrived in Detroit Early. Baggage handling, what seems to be a perennial problem for every Spirit flight I've been on, was as expected, sluggish.

That ended our End of School Year Disney Trip.

In short, Disney was magical - the Coronado was a great place to stay, the staff there was great and welcoming and made it an excellent place to rest in between Park visits. The parks all had different aspects and everyone found rides to their liking and it was an excellent family time together.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Be As Tactical As Master Ken

If you're not regularly watching Enter The Dojo on YouTube, you just can't honestly call yourself a sheepdog, nor a member of Mall Security Team 6 for that matter.

While Master Ken typically does specialize in unarmed combat, this time he decided to do some firearm-related tactical exercise activities:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Flying Lesson #135 - Naviguessing Perambulations

Today the winds were 15-25 but mainly right down 270 degrees which made it not to bad, but there was some shifting to make life interesting at times.

We did a simulated check-ride with Ray acting as the examiner. I flew a previously planned cross-country course and then after finding my first two way points got diverted to Linden. So I naviguessed from my then current position up to Linden - I continued west until I hit US23, ent north along US23 to just before the curve, dropped down below Flint's Class C airspace and found that Linden had not moved from its previous location, for which I was thankful.

At Linden I did a normal landing, a short field landing and a soft field landing.

I did do one go-around when I did not like the approach on a short field landing - a bit too high and fast so I figured just go round and do it again and that was according to Ray a good call.

The short field landing I then did after the go-round would have qualified as an aircraft carrier landing - would have made Juvat's Navy instructor happy it would, but nothing was broken, just a very very solid landing indeed right on the numbers.

Then I naviguessed us eastwards to the practice area and Ray threw some foggles on me and I got to make turns, climbs and descents by instruments alone and he said I did very well. It didn't help that the turn coordinator in the plane was Tango Uniform but I made do without it.

Then the foggles came off and I did some clearing turns and then did steep turns and he said they were the best ones I've done, so the lesson went quite nicely.

Thence I naviguessed us back to Pontiac, called them when we were 11 miles out and entered a right base for 27R and did a short field landing that would have been more to Juvat Air Force Instructor's liking, but with the fun of a sudden gust from 300 degrees just as I was about to touch down, but I handled it and it was fine.

Can I ever get a nice calm wind day, please?

1.6 and 4 landings.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Disney World Day 3 - Animal Kingdom

The Kali River Rapids ride was our first ride of the day, and as a water ride there was perfect for a hot day, and Sunday was a scorcher.

Heck, it was so nice we rode it twice and got well and truly soaked and enjoyed it profusely.

After that we wandered about the park seeing many of the animal exhibits, including a walking path that had these two birds acting rather curiously:

They were resting right on the path, not moving, and there was a Disney cast member right there to make sure no one messed with them. They basically were sunning themselves and had picked up a habit of regularly just laying there and watcing the people walk around them without a care in the world.

We then did the Kilimajaro Safari ride which was quite cool - you get a guided tour on a truck through a land filled with impressive animals, some of which get quite close sch as the Ostrich that tried to play chicken with our truck.

I mean, who doesn't love seeing a baby elephant?

We then went to ride the newest roller coaster, Expedition Everest. Unfortunately, Leah decided at the last minute to bail out and I had to go with her. I think she got a bit freaked form all the screams coming from the coaster. Abby and Tash went on it and Tash really did not enjoy the experience much. Apparently going backwards in the dark on a fast roller coaster will do that to people. I believe her words were "I'm never getting on that thing again!". Leah regretted that she bailed out so we will have to come back and do it again someday.

Animal Kingdom's newest exhibits are the rides from Avatar - The World of Pandora.

Right as we headed to the world of Pandora however it began to rain rather heavily.

While Avatar was a neat movie from a special effects standpoint, its overall theme of "Dances With Smurfs" hardly made it an enduring tale nor does it have a tight Disney connection. Most people today if you ask them about Avatar are hardly going to rank it in the realm of great or especially memorable movies. I do have to wonder why they decided to spend four years building Pandora. Now the Star Wars theme park they're working on, that makes sense from a cultural and thematic perspective, Pandora, not so much.

We could not get Fast Passes for either of them and we waiting in line in the wet for the Navi River Journey ride as at 2 hours it was a shorter wait than the more exciting ride of the Flight of Passage with a two hour forty-five minute wait and the kids were not going to wait for that. Two hours in the rain was enough, thank you. At least the waiting area was full of interesting Pandora-like scenery and fake Pandora plant life that made it interesting:

It's an awesome spectacle and they really went all out on the scenery to make you feel like you are indeed on Pandora. But its scenery that seems to have no real overall heart. I think they'll do better when they make an immersive Star Wars park as if they take this level of detial to scenery, characters and story line it will be beyond awesome. Pandora feels like its great scenery that's missing something.

The Navi River cruise, once we finally got on it was pretty cool with lots of neat bio-luminescence and fun effects and some neat moving Pandora creatures, but to me it rated a solid Meh. At least they didn't sing "It's a Small World", but they might have sang it in Navi and I just missed the translation. Nothing scary nor a unifying story, or particularly really cool, but it provided some interesting scenery and a place to rest our tired feet. Not worth waiting two hours for I'm afraid.

After that we declared it a day.

While Animal Kingdom felt like a smaller park, we still racked up 16,921 step and 6.7 miles.

Flying Lesson #134 - To Troy Again

Today winds were gusty out of the west and Pontiac's Runway 27L was closed again.

I complete the preflight and then Ray comes over and says that the checkride examiner seems having applicants navigate to Troy and says we'll go there today.

So I get taxi and takeoff clearance and we head to Troy, passing over Orchard Lake on the way.

I find the airport ok and checking the AWOS to confirm the wind is from the west as well go for Runway 27 at Troy in a rather shifting wind. So I do a short field landing and then taxi and we do it again and again, coming over the building and thinking I'm going to land on the building, but I do some pretty decent short fields and short field takeoffs on each time. The winds would shift from left to right and gust a bit on each landing and it made the short final approaches kinda interesting.

Then we navigated north to the practice area and I did some steep turns and turns around the point and it went ok and the steep turns were within tolerances.

After that I navigated back to Pontiac by dead reckoning called in and got a landing clearance to come in on a right base and landed on Runway 27R and that was the lesson.

1.7 and 4 landings.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Disney World Day 2 - Epcot

EPCOT would be the most miles walked of the Disney World experience. It was also the hottest day we were there.

We had to go do my favorite ride, Soarin' first.

They've changed Soarin' since we last did it. It's no longer a scenic glider ride over Claifornia, it now takes you on a whirwind world tour. With dips and swoops its a lot of fun and they inject appropriate scents into the air as you fly over things. Flying over the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids, and the Taj Mahal and other sites was very cool indeed and its amazing how immersive and detailed they've made the experience.

After Soarin' we did the Living with the Land ride and rode a boat through the EPCOT greenhouse. Then we did Soarin', again. Because that's how you have a good time at EPCOT.

Then we found there were spots open in the Behind The Seeds tour which takes you for an up close and guided tour of the Greenhouse and I highly recommend it. You get to walk through the greenhouse and see everything up close.

We learned that the items grown in the greenhouse are indeed used as food at the parks.

We started in their bio technology area where they are using natural predators to defeat agricultural pests - for example they use a parasitoid wasp to control leaf miners and we got to seee a time lapse video of the process. Yes, parasitoid wasps were the foundation for the creature in Alien.

Everything in the greenhouse is grown hydroponically, and mainly vertically to save space.

Cucumbers for example.

We then got to sample a cucumber and they were some fo the best cucumbers ever with a lot of flavor.

One of my favorite agricultural plants was there:

We also got to feed the Tilapia they fish farm there:

Lots of neat things to see, including some huge winter melon and an 9 pound lemon.

We learned a lot about hydroponic and drip agriculture, and fish farming, so it was rather interesting and educational tour that was done very well.

We had then originally planned to go to all 11 World Showcase national pavilions and eat a dish at each one. A good plan but execution was lacking as we were beyond full by stop 6. We did get Viva Puffs at the Canadian pavilion, Fish and Chips and a nice Ale for me at Britain, fine French delicacies at France, Mint tea and baklava and the Morocco pavilion. I highly recommend the fish and chips it was most perfect. We did make it to all the pavilions and did a fair bot of shopping at the Japan pavilion and saw first a very cool acrobatic performance and then a nice short film at the China pavilion about, yes you guessed it, China.

Then we did the Spaceship Earth ride which was a nice relaxing way to rest our tired feet and learn some things about the history of communication technology.

Then we stayed for the fireworks show, but wow we were completely wiped by the end.

Over 20,000 steps and over 7 miles.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day 1 At Disney World - Magic Kingdom

We had planned out our 4-day-long-weekend trip to Disney planning to go to one park per day. We didn't bother with the expense of a Park Hopper pass as there's more than enough to do for a day in each park.

We woke up to a beautiful morning:

After we got up, we went to the main pool at the hotel and enjoyed the water slide.

On the way there we walked by the pond which had these prominent warning signs, likley put up after that unfortunate incident of the unfortunate child and alligator encounter last year:

We had breakfast poolside and Leah had to have the Mickey waffles - which really were excellent.

In fact we found all the food at Disney to be very good indeed with some of it simply outstanding - The food at the Maya Grill certainly was the night we arrived. The only reason we didn't pack on the pounds this trip was due to all the walking we were about to do around the parks.

We put on our magic bands and got a Disney shuttle from the resort to the park.

Magic bands are Disney's latest stroke of genius - each band is its own chip and pin system that not only has your park tickets and acts as your room key, but when tied to your credit card lets your purchase anything you want at a park or resort by placing the band on a scanner and entering your PIN. No need to carry a wallet or cash around the parks - and it has the neat effect, from Disney's standpoint of the feeling that you're not paying with real money at the time so you're less concerned about the cost. Simply brilliant.

We had arrived at the Magic Kingdom:

We did the Pirates of Caribbean ride first, and they've added to it since we lat rode it and added much more of the movies to the ride which made it even more fun.

We then did the The Magic Carpets of Aladdin ride and it was pretty cool to see them enjoy it since they last rode it five years ago.

Of course we had arrived in Disney's rainy season so each afternoon it variously drizzled, poured or combinations of both so umbrellas came in handy.

It started raining right after the Magic carpet ride, so we went indoors for the It's a Small World ride.

Then it was off Futureland was a ride on Buzz Lightyear, a fun cartoon shoot-em-up game that, while it kept pausing for some reason, was fun for everyone. After that was a relaxing ride around Futureland on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover which gave some nice elevated views and ran us through various rides in Futureland.

Then we did the new Dwarf Mine Train roller coaster - we didn't have a Fastpass for it so we stood in line for 2 hours and 45 minutes but Leah really wanted to ride it so we hung in there and then had a very fun roller coaster ride. Some yelling and screaming was heard.

We also wanted to do Splash Mountain but it was sadly closed due to technical difficulties. That closure got us a FastPass to ride Thunder Mountain, Magic Kingdom's signature roller coaster and it was a lot of fun too.

After 8 hours at the park we were done and took the bus back to the hotel and had dinner at the Pepper Market - cafeteria style restaurant at the resort, and we had a swim and that was Day 1.

At Magic Kingdom we walked about 5.6 miles and 15,000 steps per my iPhone, but it sure felt like more than that. We had the blisters to show for it too.