Monday, November 30, 2015

The Stupid, It Burns

As one might expect, criminals manufacturing illegal drugs at their homes aren't the brightest of the bunch.

Manufacturing illegal drugs tends to be a rather dangerous business even apart from the likelihood of a negative interaction with the criminal justice system. Manufacturing illegal drugs generally involves chemicals or substances that may very well go "boom" before you can make them get you high.

So today's example for others, identity not yet released, manages to badly burn himself and his apartment as well as damage other apartments by trying to manufacture hash oil.

Apparently you do this with butane. Butane, as most people happen to know, is a "highly flammable, colorless, easily liquefied gas".

The Detroit Free Press: Man severely burned in fire tied to hash oil production

An initial investigation by the Rockford Department of Public Safety indicates butane was likely being used to extract hash oil from marijuana.

Here's the extra stupid part that will enshrine this fellow as a prime example to others and potential Darwin Award winner if he doesn't pull through:

"The butane ignited when he lit a cigarette,'' Rockford DPS Director David Jones said.

The victim suffered burns to nearly half of his body, including his mouth. Rockford police were not releasing the man's name because of pending criminal charges, Jones said.

So, you're working with a highly flammable gas, in an enclosed space, manufacturing illegal drugs, and you decide to light up a cigarette?

There's a reason it's called dope.

He's Not Exactly Inviting Them Over To His House, Now Is He?

The Detroit News: Rev. Jackson: Welcome Syrian refugees to Mich.

I'll note that the Reverend, and I use that term loosely in this case, is not a resident of Michigan, nor with a net worth of $10 million has he so far allocated any funds nor any room in his mansion for Syrian refugees.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Michigan's County Gun Boards Go Bye-Bye

A holdover from the rather racist past of Michigan's gun control laws, the County Gun Boards are finally on their way out.

The Detroit News: County gun boards abolished in Mich. starting Tuesday

The Gun Boards were originally composed of the county prosecutor, a state police representative and a sheriff's office representative and you needed two out of three "yes" votes to get a permit. For some time prior to Shall issue, the Michigan State Police had a policy of an automatic "no" vote on applications.

The board's original purpose was, to put it mildly, to ensure that none but the "right sort of people" get a carry permit. The right sort of course always included the connected and those who made the appropriate contribution to the appropriate politician's coffers to buy the required yes votes. An ordinary decent citizen in most counties had little to no chance of getting a carry permit.

Since shall-issue passed, the gun boards have had very little raison d'etre.

Some accepted this with good grace, some with mild go-slow obstructionism, and others decided to be petulant and require every single applicant to spend time before them during a working day even when the board had no valid reason to question, much less deny, their permit application.

That this anachronism is finally being done away with is a very good thing.

Weight And Balance Are Not Optional

Cessna 172s while having 4 seats, are really 3 seat aircraft when it comes to adults.

Overloading it, as is the case with any airplane, leads to some very bad consequences.

The Detroit News: NTSB: Plane overweight in crash that killed 4

According to the report, the Cessna 172 had a maximum gross weight of 2,457 pounds. Using weights from the medical examiner’s report, plus 10 pounds of baggage and 35 gallons of fuel, the NTSB found the plane had a gross weight of 2,550.6 pounds but would have been within center of gravity limits.

A second calculation, adding 10 percent to the body weights to account for thermal injuries and increasing the baggage weight to 15 pounds, determined a gross weight of 2,622.6 pounds, or 165 pounds overweight, with a center of gravity outside the plane’s operating limits.

Being overweight and outside the center of gravity limits is a very bad thing. Compounding the error, after realizing he was low and slow, the pilot made a left hand turn back to the airport, more than likely stalled in the turn and crashed with fatal results.

Unfortunately, the pilot did the weight and balance calculation in his head and was off by quite a bit, and not in a safe direction. A very sad and completely avoidable accident.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

The house is cleaned, the turkey is in the oven, and my parents are now on their way driving towards us for a festive meal.

The quintessential American holiday, it's a fine time to sit around a table with family and/or friends and enjoy a fine meal together.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your families.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

She Went To Bed At 11 And She Woke Up At 12

Abby turned 12 today.

The kid is growing up fast.

This morning we had our traditional cherry cheesecake for birthdays, with hers having 12 candles, sang her happy birthday, and gave her some presents.

Since it is a half-day at her school, she's invited her friends for a lunchtime party today, so she's going to have a great birthday indeed.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Now That's How You Do A Trailer

The crew of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) did a US Navy-style recut of the trailer from The Force Awakens, and it's rather epic:

I'd watch that film.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Flying Lesson #24 - Landing In A Winter Wonderland

I got my first experience flying in winter today.

The storm last night dropped in 10+ inches of global warming.

This made for some fun, including taxiing on ice.

Happily, they had moved N757MK into the hanger and cleaned the snow off of it before I got there this morning.

I pre-flighted it in the hanger and it was then moved outside.

Unfortunately it had no usable fuel in the right tank and about 8 gallons in the left. That's not enough. The fueling trucks were actually stuck at the fueling depot by the snow.

So we started MK up and I got a taxi clearance to the fuel depot. We then were asked to go past and turn back so a plow could come through and clear the way into the depot for us, and we were happy to oblige as we would not have been able to get through the ridge from the taxiway to the depot without it being cleared.

We got in, got the fuel and then the engine wouldn't start. Finally we got it working and then the heading indicator decided it liked to spin around. Since its not required equipment as we had a compass we went flying. Funnily enough it stopped spinning after we were airborne and righted itself.

Only Runway 27L, which I had never used before, was open, and winds were 10-15 knots from 250-300 shifting.

I got to do some fun patterns today. It was busy as only one runway was in service, so the controller had his hands full with spacing and at times we were asked to expedite turning crosswind, extend our downwind, or tighten and shorten our base, and on one occasion to do a go-round so he could clear some traffic just after we had turned base.

We did both right and left patterns.

As usual my cross-wind takeoffs were really nice.

As to landing, I'm starting to get a bit more stable in my approaches, but now that I sorta have that I'm now not flaring enough. Actually, I flare enough to float up but then not enough at the point of landing itself so I'm landing flat. When asked, Sean has said I shouldn't be frustrated as I'm getting there and just need to put it all together.

I swear I should just yell "Banzai!" on my next final.

That's 1.5 more hours, 7 landings and one go-round more.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Karate Test Day

Today was a Shinsa day for the North American Beikoku Shido-Kan Shorin-Ryu Association.

To translate that, it was a black belt test. All black belt tests for karate practitioners of the association are held in Lansing three times a year. There are pre-tests you need to pass before you can proceed to the test, and test-takers from all over North America attend - we had people from Canada, New Jersey, New York, St. Louis, and Michigan there today.

I had passed the pre-tests and was permitted to test today.

The test began at 9 am. I drove through blowing snow to get to Lansing and arrived at 8:15. I checked in, changed, and started stretching out. The judges assembled, all seventh degree, or higher black belts and the test began.

Each person was called in order of rank (ie everyone testing for 1st degree went first, then those testing for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th) and then alphabetically to do their kata alone in front of the judges and the spectators.

The katas were announced as Passai Sho, Kusanku Dai and Chinto. You will always do Chinto, but you do not know which two of the four katas: Passai Sho, Passai Dai, Kusanku Sho, and Kusanku Dai you will do until they blind draw them on the day of the test.

You do all three in a row, starting with the Sho, then the Dai, then Chinto.

Kusanku Dai is also unofficially known by the names "You Count And I'll Die" and "No Kata For Old Men".

Here's why:

Interestingly enough, the sensei in this video was present today for his 5th degree test. He looked even better today.

Kusanku Dai lived up to its reputation today as "You Count and I'll Die", almost killing a few test-takers' hopes.

After each of the 16 testers individually came forward and did their kata, four testers had to redo Kusanku Dai due to mistakes. You're allowed to blow one kata and redo it after everyone else has finished, and if you blow it again you're done. Luckily they all settled in and redeemed themselves with really good retakes.

Happily for me, I had no mistakes in any of the kata and felt pretty good doing them. Feedback I received later was they were some of my best demonstrated efforts yet.

Then we all went to the basement of the dojo to continue the test.

We had to hit the Makiwara (striking post) with three punches from each arm, then we had to kick a bag with 3 front, 3 side and three roundhouse kicks with each leg.

Then we had to try and break a board.

The boards were one-inch thick pine, hanging unsupported by a clip from a string from the ceiling.

You had one punch to try and break the board. If you hit it wrong it wouldn't break and then it would swing and fly off the clip at rather high speed.

Of the 16 testers, only 7 were able to break the board.

I was one of them:

You get to keep the board as a souvenir if you break it.

Then we all headed back upstairs.

We did kumite (2-person drills) involving kicks, punches and throws in set combinations, both right and left sides.

Then we did Bunkai. Bunkai are set interpretations of the various kata and involve a defender in the middle surrounded by three or four attackers. Again the attacks are set and the proper response is set and typically involves a block and counter-attack which can be a strike, kick, throw or combination thereof. There were four bunkai and you were expected to not only be able to properly do all the actions in the middle as the defender but also be a proper attacker from each angle as well, including knowing how to fall properly and be thrown head first in one bunkai.

The test ended at 12:30 and the results were announced.

I'm pleased to report that I passed the test and am now a Nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt).

Friday, November 20, 2015

Flying Lesson #23 - How To Get Really Winded

Today I had the pleasure of flying the pattern and doing landings in a cross wind with gusts from 15-30 knots and low level wind shear warnings. I was flying N7455PR for this particular lesson.

Today, that the flying did not go particularly well would be putting it delicately.

I was fighting the plane all over the damn place and the gusts and shear was doing their level best to kick my butt, including some impressively frightening moments that were really not happy-making. Lots of trouble making anything close to a stable approach today.

I actually called a go-round on one landing and did so as the approach was not working well at all. Meanwhile, before and during the go-round an idiot was chatting with the tower about whether the tower has seen any security changes since 9/11, cause that's important for flying operations now, right? He kept right on chatting away. Will this guy ever shut up? Apparently not.

So, go round completed with no way to notify the tower, rejoin the pattern and he's still chatting away. We get on approach to final and finally dip in at the first pause of blessed silence asking if we have clearance for the option, which we get on very short final. Not a terrible landing on that one - crab into the wind and at the last moment get the nose aligned with the runway.

We did some landings with less than 30 degrees of flaps and more speed due to the wind gusts and then Sean had me try a flap-less landing - which really sucked but I got it down and for a first time it's supposed to suck, right?

Certainly not my finest bit of flying and to say I was not having fun in those conditions would be an understatement. Some days you think you're ready to finally solo and you're getting it, and then a day like today comes along and slaps you around nicely.

That's 1.3 Hours, 9 landings with 8 by me including one flap-less, and 1 go-round.

Not Exactly The Definition Of Being Tactically Ambiguous

Saw this on the drive home last night:

Hard to be carrying concealed when you're announcing to all and sundry that you're doing so. Also, leaving the car in a public parking lot in Detroit and expecting it to not get broken into if it's near a CPL-No-Go-Zone venue may be a forlorn hope.

Any bets the first question he gets asked when he's pulled over is: "Where's the gun?".

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The New York Daily News' Diversionary Hack At The NRA

The New York Daily News, in a mad attempt to divert attention from (Islamist) terrorism and the threat posed by all these incoming "refugees" as potential terrorist actors, decided to print "Hey Look, Squirrel!" on the paper's front cover.

It's a rather transparent and desperate attempt to get attention back to the left's favorite bugbear, gun control, and to defame the NRA.

National Review: The NRA Is Absolutely Right to Fear the ‘Terrorism Watch List’

The real question is, if there really are 700,000 people in America on the terrorist watch list, is anyone actually watching them? If they're suspected of terrorism or support for terrorism sufficient to get themselves placed on the list, why isn't some serious interdiction occurring rather than just putting them on a list and letting them walk freely about in society save for an occasional and only possible extra experience of being felt up at the airport?

After all, if they're allowed to walk around freely without any real attempt to apprehend them as terrorists that means they can acquire materials to make bombs and such, so perhaps this list is not really being taken seriously by the authorities.

When 280,000 people are on the list with no known terrorist affiliation, that's a cause for concern.

That there are thousands with actual listed affiliations to terrorist groups like Hamas, Al Qaeda, Hezballah, and the Taliban, and they're allowed to just wander around this country while the only thing done after identifying them is putting them on the list shows the government is rather fundamentally unserious about this whole counter-terrorism thing.

Indeed, since the criteria to be placed on it seems rather vague, and that people can be added to the list at whim, there is darn well a reasons to be concerned to add a new disqualification from owning firearms at the whimsy of some faceless official.

One can certainly see the Obama administration expanding such a list very quickly to do some "gun control under the radar" should it become a disqualifying condition. After all, he seems more rather obsessed with his "Republican enemies" rather than enemies of a foreign ideology and origin.

In short the New York Daily News should save the bile it is flinging at the NRA and instead direct it at the administration that has us fighting a phony war rather than a real war on terrorism while humming "I've got a little list".

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Antiochus IV's Fortress Of Acra In Jerusalem Discovered

A very cool archaeological discovery:

The Detroit Free Press: Ancient Greek fortress may solve archaeological mystery in Jerusalem

Archaeologists believe they have unearthed the ancient remains of the Greek fortress of Acra.

The discovery solves one of the city's “greatest archaeological mysteries,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said Tuesday. The 2,000-year-old remains were found under a parking lot in the City of David in the Jerusalem Walls National Park.

For the past 100 years, archaeologists have puzzled over the location of the ancient fortress, which was used by Antiochus IV Epiphanes to monitor activity on Template Mount and subdue the Jewish population.

The fortress was finally retaken from the Greeks by the Hasmoneans in 141 BC, and its discovery before Hannukah is rather timely.

Flying Lesson #22 - More Happier And Crosswind Landings

Lesson 22 had me using runway 9L for takeoffs and landings, with a left pattern as the wind was from 130 degrees at 10-15 knots. I had Sean as my instructor today.

Overall the landings went pretty well, even with a gusting crosswind, with my last three out of four being very nice indeed. I had decent roll-outs and flares that got better as the lesson went on.

I think I'm getting the hang of it, finally.

Sean demonstrated an engine out emergency landing with a short base turn and then I got to try it.

Wouldn't you know it? My engine out glide-it-in-at-idle landing was perfect - a nice turn to base and then final, pitched for 65 knots the whole way through, then lined up with the runway and I was perfectly on the glide path and had one of my best landings.

But to keep me humble, my last landing of the day sucked - approach was too low so it wasn't stabilized, and while I landed ok it was really not great by any means.

Apparently, I'm making sufficient progress that I was given a take-home pre-solo written test to complete. So, we'll see how it goes from here.

That's 1.3 more hours and 11 landings.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Governerd Begins To Get A Clue

Suddenly, 10,000 unvetted Syrian "refugees" settling in Michigan doesn't seem like such a good idea.

WXYZ: Gov. Snyder puts Syrian refugee efforts on hold following Paris attacks

Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement Sunday that the state is postponing efforts to accept refugees until federal officials fully review security clearances and procedures.

"Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration," Snyder said. "But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.

"Given the terrible situation in Paris, I've directed that we put on hold our efforts to accept new refugees until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security completes a full review of security clearances and procedures," he added.

That he thought it was a good idea in the first place shows rather terrible judgment on his part, but he at least seems to be waking up to reality. Hillary still clearly has not.

Not to mention the plan to resettle them in Pontiac was just plain nuts.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Europe Is In Deep Trouble

Newsweek: 16% of French Citizens Support ISIS, Poll Finds, while only 18% support Hollande. The poll doesn't seem to include the non-citizen Islamist immigrants, so it's quite likely that more people in France do back ISIS than Hollande.

And in Britain, the same article notes that 1,500 British Muslims have gone off to fight for ISIS - twice the number of Muslims in the British armed forces. To put this in perspective, the estimated number of full-time, active IRA terrorists at full strength was all of 200 - and they tied the United Kingdom's security forces in knots for decades.

Well, Europe's leaders now have the Eurabia they have arranged for, but they are unlikely to enjoy that which they have wrought.

Flying Lesson #22 - Happier Landings

So this morning I had a lesson booked with Will so I headed to the airport, did the pre-flight and got the plane ready to go.

Winds were 8-10 knots,most of the time straight down the runway but occasionally were fickle and shifting to give a nice crosswind.

More pattern practice was the order of the day.

I had a cunning plan. A plan so cunning it had graduated from Oxford with an advanced degree in cunning.

I explained to Will that I was having problems getting a stabilized approach down, and I asked him to let me do pretty much everything on the first pattern around as he watched and let me know what I was doing wrong and to critique the hell out of it.

So off we went.

I did a nice taxi and takeoff as always so that part is nice and consistent.

The I turned crosswind and reduced power as we got near pattern altitude, which is an improvement for me so it was nice and we ended up right on the altitude instead of going over as I tended to do.

Then abeam the runway I added carb heat, reduced power to 1500 RPM and then added flaps - all much smother than before.

I had a bit too much of a downward pitch in my turn from downwind to base, and then made the turn from base to final a bit to early (which I tend to do - I may be subconsciously trying to really avoid runway 27L's flight path as I line up on 27R), so I had to fight to shift over to the left as the winds had also just shifted, so it was not a stable approach. Got it down with a decent slow flight over the runway with increasing pitch to flare and not a terrible landing. Then go and do it again.

Will pointed out two things that made a huge difference - 1. Keep each turn to 20 degrees, and pitch up the nose a bit before entering the turn, I was pitching up after entering the turn which just made for a sharper angle and causing the diving down problem from downwind to base, and 2. Don't turn so early from base to final but again keep it 20 degrees and get lined up on the runway so I don't have to fight my way over while landing.

Huge difference following that advice. I wasn't fighting the plane nearly as much on final and could have a nice stable approach and adjust as needed with the minute adjustments that should be used rather than all over the place as I was doing.

The pattern and approaches got much better after that and even with the fickle crosswind the landings started becoming pretty nice and right on the glide slope.

It was a busier day with lots of traffic in the pattern and wake turbulence advisories from numerous jets taking off, including a good wake turbulence one for a falcon jet that took off in tandem with us - we started and rotated first, but he passed us in the air and climbed away like we were standing still.

We also had a tower ordered go-round when a plane dawdled on the runway when we were on short final. I put the throttle all the way in, carb heat off, brought the flaps up as the airspeed rose and sidestepped to the right of the runway where we were then directed to do an early crosswind about mid-field, and back to the downwind we went and around for a landing. Kinda neat.

That's 1.1 more hours and 10 more landings.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Paris Burning

With over 140 reported dead (now 150) and probably more sadly to come, this is a bad one.

My nephew, who lives in Paris, has just reported in to the family that he's safe and that's a relief.

At least one terrorist has stated he's with ISIS, so that makes them quite uncontained, contrary to Obama's rather ill-timed statement today.

It'll be interesting to see if the French go Charles Martel or Henri Petain in response to this outrage.

In other but related news. The Russian passenger jet downed over the Sinai has been confirmed to have been brought down by a bomb and not mechanical reasons, with ISIS again claiming credit for it.

You May Not Always Have Paris

The Religion of Peace strikes again.

Fox News: At least 35 reported dead, 100 hostages taken in Paris attacks

YNET news by contrast reports 60 dead, and states the gunmen did indeed yell "Allahu Akbar", and notes this is the deadliest attack on France since the Second World War.

This isn't looking good for the City of Lights.

Here's to hoping the French anti-terrorist units are better at hostage rescue from theaters than the Russians.

Flying Lesson #21 - The Winds Of November

Flying Lesson 21 turned out to be a short but instructive lesson.

While skies were clear, winds were 20 gusting to 30 knots but pretty much along the runway. Sean figured it would be a good experience for me to handle the winds and since they were generally blowing around 270 degrees there wouldn't be a huge crosswind issue.

So I showed up, pre-flighted the aircraft, had it fueled up and added oil as usual. The plane was rocking a bit in the wind as I did so, and a slight bit of snow started falling.

We got clearance to taxi and went to the run-up area where I did the run up without any issues as I held the aileron into the crosswind as we taxied to the area.

Then we got clearance to takeoff with a right pattern.

The takeoff was fast to say the least, with a 30 knot wind blowing right down the runway we were up in a flash. So much so that I was at pattern altitude before even getting over the runway threshold. The crosswind turn was fun, and the downwind went by fast. Even with the throttle way low were were still zipping along. Then the turn base and the wind shifted a bit and started pushing us right so I had to compensate left. Not a bad landing and then flaps up, carb heat in, check trim, throttle all the way and we were up again in a jiffy.

On the second pattern we started getting some really heavy gusts and shifting winds. So much so that on final I was getting pushed up and then dropping really fast which was not good. I added power and Sean then took over as it was getting a bit much and we decided to call it at that point.

Overall a good experience in high winds and I did well getting the aircraft where it should be for the most part, but I still need to work on a stabilized approach. The experience should make a calm wind landing much easier by comparison - assuming we get some calm winds here any time soon.

The taxi back was fun - even with throttle fully out the wind was pushing the plane faster than having it throttled up so there was a fair bit of braking involved, as well as holding the ailerons away from the wind and the elevators all the way forward to keep the plane on the ground. Excellent and fun taxi, and I got the plane perfectly placed in its parking spot.

That's .4 hours - my shortest flying lesson so far - and 2 more landings in the book, and the end of a log book page.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Uh Oh, Proposed Michigan Senate Bill Requires Voters To Think Before They Vote

The bill, which will eliminate straight-ticket voting in Michigan, is accused of being a hardship to Democrat voters.

Don't believe me? Ask the Democrats themselves: The Detroit News: Senate votes to end straight-party voting

[State Senator Morris] Hood [D-Detroit] said eliminating straight party voting would make it more difficult to vote and add confusion and wait times at the polls in November general elections.

Yep, not being able to just fill in the box marked Democrat but instead having to go through the entire ballot and make choices is just too darn hard for the average Democrat voter.

Let's hope this bill becomes a law and people become better informed about who they are voting for as a result.

Armistice Day / Veteran's Day

In the eleventh month on the eleventh day at the eleventh hour, the guns of World War One fell silent. The Great War had ended.

It was not to be, as had been hoped, the war to end all wars. Armistice Day was changed to Veteran's Day to memorialize and honor all those who served before and since.

Perhaps one of the most moving and poignant reenactments of the futility of going "over the top" is from the comedy series Blackadder:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Edmund Fitzgerald, 40 Years Gone.

Thanks to Gordon Lightfoot, the Edmund Fitzgerald is the most well-known Great Lakes freighter, and the most famous wreck on the lakes.

40 years ago, she sank in a gale, taking all 29 of her crew with her. The exact cause of her sinking is still not known, though a few theories provide likely answers, with either water coming in through the cargo hatches, or grounding the bottom on a shoal or a combination of the two being the most likely reason for the sinking.

The wreck lies on the bottom of Lake Superior in two main pieces,

In 500 feet of water, she's a greater than Mt. Everest level dive, and less than a handful of divers have visited the wreck using SCUBA gear. Now, with the Canadian government banning diving on the wreck, it's unlikely that more will visit the famous site.

Here's to the Edmund Fitzgerald and her crew, 40 years gone.

Monday, November 09, 2015

After 102 Years, The Wreck of The Hydrus Is Found

One of the ships that went missing during the Great Storm of 1913, the freighter Hydrus had eluded discovery as to its final resting place.

Until now.

The Detroit Free Press: Man discovers Lake Huron shipwreck missing since 1913

Dave Trotter has found another one. The legendary shipwreck hunter of the Great Lakes has done it again.

I know some of the divers that found her: Keith, Fred, and Chad are all part of the Union Lake diving group and the pics they've brought back of the Hydrus are nice indeed, and the video they took of thee wreck is fantastic, as can be seen at the Free Press. At 200 foot depth, it's not a recreational dive by any means but it looks like the wreck is in great shape.

Nice find guys.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Fall Fix-Up 2015

We had such a good time volunteering last year we did it again today. 400 volunteers headed out to help.

The annual Fall Fix-Up is where you volunteer and go out in the community and help elderly residents by raking their leaves and cleaning their exterior windows. This helps them keep up their homes and so stay in their homes even after they can't be expected to be out doing all of that.

This year we had two houses, and the same two other families from last year joined us as a volunteer crew to make it happen.

As always, Abby and Leah were excellent workers and very dedicated to getting the job done.

Many bags of leaves were raked, windows were cleaned until they sparkled, and a good time was had by all the volunteers.

Afterwards, the team went out to lunch together and it was a great way to spend a morning to help others.

Friday, November 06, 2015

It's National Love Your Lawyer Day Today

Clearly destined to be a new Hallmark holiday celebrated by all today is National Love Your Lawyer Day.

Certainly long overdue recognition of the unsung heroes representing the unjustly (and justly) accused, the wronged and those trying to wade through the faceless bureaucracies of life.

Remember folks, if you can't afford the lawyer you love, love the lawyer you can afford.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Flying Lesson #20 - Landings At Livingston

So this morning's flight lesson began with IFR weather at Pontiac due to low ceilings and fog that turned in marginal VFR as we were taking off.

We headed west towards Livingston airfield to go somewhere different and get more practice at pilot controlled fields and some naviguessing along the way. We did have to go off course as requested by Pontiac control for a bit to get out of the way of a King Air coming in IFR to Pontiac, but once that was done we settled back on course.

Overall naviguessing was easy - just follow highway M59 west until you see the airport.

Of course, Sean then asked me where I was at a certain point, so I had to say in an airplane.

The ground reference he pointed to was of course at the fold of the map which made it fun to find. I need to work on navigation some more.

Livingston has its own AWOS station so I turned that in on COM 2 and listened to the report. Based on the winds we would be using runway 13. It was a bit of a pain figuring out where I had to go to line up for the downwind for 13 based on where I was, but I got it entered the pattern and announced my presence.

I then did a touch and go which had a bit of a lousy setup due to being disoriented as to where the fargin' runway was during the pattern so it was an ok landing but nothing great.

Then for the second pattern which was better, when I had announced on final and was set for what promised to be a darn good landing, a twin Cessna came in IFR announcing that he was on final and that he didn't have us in sight. Discretion being the best part of noise abatement, we did a go-around to get out of his way. Since he was clearly behind us and faster it made sense to get out of his way and avoid any issues. Then we did three more landings and overall they weren't great but ok.

Then we headed back to Pontiac and the controller originally put us on 27L, changing us to 27R when we were abeam of the tower with a left pattern which was kinda weird but I did it and landed ok even though my final approach was kinda low and from too far out. Taxi on back and done.

I need to fly more of a stabilized approach, not get behind the aircraft, and make very tiny adjustments on final. This is all easier typed than done.

At least my flares are getting better, and my takeoffs are still excellent so I've got that going for me.

That's 1.4 more hours and 5 more landings, and now contemplating collecting bottle caps.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

No, Weight And Balance Checks Are Not Optional

Over at Bayou Renaissance Man, you can watch a video where having an airplane being overweight on takeoff had some bad but not fatal consequences.

Now we get another reminder that weight and balance is not optional, this time fatally so.

The Detroit News: Cargo plane crashes along Nile River in South Sudan

A cargo plane that was reportedly overloaded crashed along the banks of the Nile River after taking off from the South Sudan’s capital, killing at least 25 people.

Given the plane was built in the Soviet Union in 1971 and the likely shoddy maintenance and lackadaisical compliance with checklists and regulations in that part of the world since, weight and balance probably wasn't done or was ignored with a shrug.

Denial of basic pre-flight requirements and maximum takeoff weight limits results in you crash landing on the banks of de Nile.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Seriously? They Needed A Study For This?

The Detroit Free Press: Study: Frequent sex may raise chances for conception

Who knew?

It's About The Small Things: An Accurate Inventory Matters

Knowing what you have, and what you've done away with, can prevent embarrassing situations.

Situations like this one:

The Detroit News: Report: Guns, radios missing from police department

Apparently the state of accounting for the inventory in the Michigan town of Memphis police department is a bit of a mess right now, and considering they went through 4 chiefs in 5 years it's likely that the important but not urgent stuff got overlooked without consistent management.

A police-issued shotgun, two handguns, at least three police radios and a long list of evidence are unaccounted for at a small Michigan police department, according to a report from an outside agency.

It's highly likely no crimes of commission occurred, but instead crimes of omission led to the items becoming missing. Most likely the items that are missing were either surplussed out or destroyed and not properly removed from the department's books.

It's always possible that someone took them home with them, but that tends to be pretty rare, and the most likely explanation is that they were not keeping up with the unglamorous but necessary job of keeping their records accurate, or they thought someone else was doing it when they weren't.

So, when's the last time you inventoried your important items?