Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve Preparations

Well the temperature here is brisk but manageable as they say.

Manageable if you're a polar bear, anyways it has warmed up to 9 degrees F but will rapidly head towards 0F tonight.

The mother-in-law has arrived and preparations for a traditional Russian New Year's Eve feast and celebration proceed apace.

Greenery has been cut from trees and brought in and presents are wrapped and ready fro their midnight release. The kids are planning to stay awake to greet the new year - we'll see how that goes.

The house is being cleaned until it sparkles and the table will be set.

Winter salad, a rather labor intensive delectable is already being made. As are other appetizers and traditional Russian dishes are also being prepared. Champagne is chilling.

As the centerpiece for tonight's table, I'm doing a standing rib roast - first time doing one of those, so wish me luck as it needs to be perfect.

May you all enjoy a fantastic New Year's celebration as we say goodbye to 2017, and have a peaceful and prosperous 2018.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Flying Around Ft. Lauderdale

In what will likely be my last flight of 2017, I decided to get a flight in. My first fight outside Michigan. After all if you're gonna fly in winter, what better place than Florida?

I went to Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport (KFXE) and checked in at North Star Aviation Academy. I had called ahead and they had a Cessna 172 for rent.

They did require I do a checkout ride with one of their instructors, which would not be a bad thing considering that not only is KFXE under Ft. Lauderdale's Class C airspace, it is right by Miami's Class B and there was a yuge Presidential TFR just north of the airport.

With all that busy airspace, having an instructor along to check me out and keep me on the straight and narrow was not a terrible idea. I asked the the checkout flight include a bit of sightseeing and we decided to head south along the coastline as going north would have gotten us our very own private airshow, and we really didn't want that.

It turns out flying a Cessna 172 is rather like ridding a bike.

I hadn't flown a 172 since early February 2017, but the preflight I still had down from memory and got it done and started N739UP up with no issues. It was a C172N, but handled the same as any other Cessna I've flown.

KFXE has a separate Clearance Delivery you have to call before ground and it is a busy airport.

So we called up, then got cleared to call Ground and did a long taxi to Runway 9. The taxiways are also a bit more convoluted than I'm used to but I figured out the way to the runway just fine. I did the run-up from memory, checking it against the checklist to verify and then from Tower we got the clearance to takeoff. Winds were 10 knots from 050 degrees.

I did a nice easy takeoff and then we turned south. As we did we were passed off to Ft. Lauderdale Control and given a squawk code and told to stay under 500 feet. Sweet. I got a nice up close view of the Florida coast.

I flew down to Miami Beach and then I turned us around to avoid Miami's Class B airspace.

Now the view was on my side of the aircraft.

Here's a nice marina with the Hollywood Golf Course in the background.

I then got a good view of the Ft. Lauderdale airport as we headed back to KFXE.

After passing it, we were soon handed off to KFXE Tower who initially had us climb back to pattern altitude of 1,000 feet and then headed in for a right base. Then, due to traffic they amended it to a downwind for Runway 9. I entered the downwind, got everything set and did a nice pattern and was perfectly set for final.

I then did a perfectly nice landing, touching down as the stall horn went off and greasing it on, and the checkout instructor said it was a darn nice one and he said he had no problems approving me for flying their aircraft.

My first Florida flight and it could not have been nicer, and everything just flowed, and it was a great relaxing flight.

1 hour and 1 landing as pilot in command and sole manipulator of the controls.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Home Again

The return always feels longer than the trip out.

About 22 Hours and we're back. Spent the night in northern Georgia after getting past traffic delays in Atlanta and then pushed the rest of the way home today.

First task - clearing snow off the driveway and it's rather cold out. How fun.

On the upside it was a great, albeit short time had with the folks in Florida and we're now back. Time on the road pretty much equaled time spent in Florida, still it was worth it.

Crystal River Swimming With Manatees

Driving down to Ft. Lauderdale, we decided that we should take a detour and visit the Manatees again in the Crystal River. It had been 4 years since we last saw them and the ids have gotten older but were still very enthusiastic about interacting with these amazing creatures.

We again went with River Ventures and they again did a fantastic job. The first site was pretty low in the visibility department but we did see a mother Manatee and calf. Neither were very interested in interacting with people and you do not touch or interact with a Manatee without them interacting with you first.

So, we snorkled and hung in the water nearby and got to watch them come up to breathe and watch the mother nurse her baby and eat some seagrass, which was still pretty neat up close. The mom had to weigh at least 1,000 pounds and the baby was around 300 per our guide.

Ah, but the second site was crystal clear water right by a spring releasing gallons and gallons of clear water for wonderful visibility and it was magic.

I had just gotten off the boat when:

Yes, a baby manatee came right up to me, rubbed his whiskers against my face and decided to have fun with me and the rest of the group.

He really found the camera interesting as well and seemed to pose on purpose for it.

This was very cool. The mom was nearby and apparently figured we were offering free daycare as she just relaxed unconcerned on the bottom and let the calf roam around a pretty solid distance from her playing with all of us. He enjoyed nudging each swimmer and getting a rub in return (one open hand only per the rules, and only after the manatee touches you can you touch it).

After playing for a good long time, he then swam away to his mom for a break and a snack.

Yes, that's the calf nursing from his mom.

He was a very playful and inquisitive Manatee, and it was an awesome experience to hang out with him. We all loved visiting again with these truly magnificent creatures.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, A Drive To Florida We Go

Yep, we left Michigan for a brief getaway to the Sunshine State.

We drove on down as it was a relatively late invite to a secret location near Ft. Lauderdale and the plane fare was pretty high, and driving gave us more flexibility in any case.

The first day we made it to Loudon, Tennessee before calling it a day. and happily putting the sweaters and jackets away.

The second day we got caught in Atlanta traffic, but still made it to our first stop in Florida that will be the subject of the next post.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Belated Merry Christmas And Happy Boxing Day

Blogging has been light as I've been otherwise engaged in all good family things.

I hope that all my Christian friends and readers had a very Merry Christmas.

Boxing Day hasn't seemed to have caught on in the US but its rather big in Canada and other former British colonies, but a happy Boxing Day to y'all in any case.

Blogging will be back to normal shortly with some tales of the fine adventures of the last few days to report. Suffice to say it was nice and warm where I have been, and it was a welcome break from the snow, and it was a great time indeed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

That's Not How It Works, That's Not How Any Of This Works - Legal Edition

I had received a call from a potential client regarding a real estate matter.

Real estate as it turns out means a citation for leaving broke-down vehicles and other junk in the backyard contrary to local ordinances. I.E. blight.

Then it gets better.

He starts off by stating the government should not be able to tell him what he can do with his property as he patented it. After all, he filed a patent with the Register of Deeds after he bought the land on a land contract.

He of course thoroughly confuses the idea of Patents and Land Patents and neither would do anything for him in this matter in any case. You can't give yourself a land patent, and historical real land patents are essentially treated the same as deeds and offer no escape from taxes nor local ordinances and code enforcement. Nor does a land patent give you exclusive rights with the government of your township being unable to regulate you for 20 years. Even if he could really give himself a land patent, it would avail him not. It Does Not Work That Way and anyone telling you differently is selling something.

See where this is going yet?

Next, when I say that argument really won't fly and explain why and that we'd have to go to court to deal with the citation as a citation without the land patent tom-foolery argument, he says "Will we have to petition to remove it from Admiralty court?".

As if the 52-2 District Court in land-locked Clarkston, Michigan is a beehive of admiralty law. While there are some small lakes nearby, not an admiral is to be found around the courthouse.

Yep, if you hadn't caught on before, it's Mr. Sovereign "I Googled It On The Internet So It Must Be True" Citizen.

I noted that his theories are really, really, not correct, and it is not how this works, and I would be unable to represent him under such a theory.

He then bemoans that he's disabled and on Social Security Disability. The irony of a sovereign citizen with a "The government can't tell me what to do" attitude collecting SSDI seems to escape him.

Next, he states that he believes it is double jeopardy as they keep writing him citations for the same blight. No, that's not double jeopardy, it's a continuing uncorrected code violation that you failed to correct after being fined on your prior citation.

In short, I will not be representing him anytime soon, but I almost want to observe his next court appearance if just for the sheer entertainment value.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Some Random Pics Of New Orleans

Just some random pics from the New Orleans trip.

There used to be a statue upon this pedestal.

That statue is gone now.

At least they haven't gotten around to removing Ben Franklin's statue - yet.

At a fine antique store there were fine antiques aplenty.

In the 1850s, when you can't decide whether to carry a knife or a pistol you can do both.

A $50 Texas banknote with Sam Houston's signature (apparently it wasn't actually signed by Houston but by William G. Cooke).

If you had to ask the price on any of these items, you probably couldn't afford them. The mark-up on the antique firearms and coins were quite high above typical market value, likely to snag visiting tourists with cash and not a lot of market knowledge.

Now, if you could afford those items, you likely would be riding around in this very clean Ferrari:

Then on to the river.

A ship making a 90 degree turn on the river.

A tug and barge meandering down the river.

An abandoned wharf awaiting redevelopment.

'Twas a darn good trip with a fine host.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Of Snow And Muppets

Of course it snowed yet again, this time before and during the drive home. I made it up the Driveway of Doom™, covered in about a half inch of snow, complete with a bit of a skid on the way up but powered through and made it to the garage.

I then got out ye trusty snowblower and cleaned it off, loaded the kids in the car along with a couple dishes and made it down well enough and headed to a holiday party, with Tash to meet us there.

Had a good time there and then I brought the kids home while Tash stayed to chat with some friends.

On the way back though, I had a bit of an issue. A couple of muppets (Murphy's trademarked phrase for douche bags of this type) had parked their SUVs directly across from each other -- In the road -- and not exactly hugging the side. This made getting through rather challenging and involved opening the windows to push their mirrors out of the way not to mention folding mine. It was tight but I made it through without swapping paint and I noted both cars were more expensive than mine at the time. Had I gone around it would have involved a rather long and stupid detour as they were about 400 yards from my house and backtracking and going around in the snow for no good reason would have sucked.

Walking the dog a bit later that same way, I noticed another car at that location who similarly tried to get through. He probably wouldn't have made it and didn't want to try especially as his car was without a doubt a newer and more expensive model than mine. Much more expensive. Instead he honked angrily to no avail. Then he did finally get out and rearranged the muppets' windshield wiper blades for them, which was awfully considerate of him I'd say considering their clear lack of consideration. Then he reversed away having to do one heckuva detour from that spot. I'm sure the idiots enjoyed their new wiper blade alignment and I can't say that I blame that driver at all.

Parking directly across from another car is pretty dumb on our relatively narrow streets at the best of times. Doing it in the winter and being both in the roadway fully leaving a lack of room to get through is just darn inconsiderate and will likely result in undesired things happening to your vehicle whether by accident or intent from the people you are inconveniencing with your stupidity.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

First Snow Day 2017

Yesterday it began snowing at around 10 am and went straight on through midnight.

We got about 9 inches of accumulation.

It wasn't windy at all and the snow just lay where it fell.

Schools in the area are all cancelled for today and the kids were thrilled to have their first official snow day of the season.

Digging out the Driveway of Doom™ this morning was a treat. I Certainly got my morning exercise in nicely. It's sunny out so with the shoveling and scraping job I did I've got a good chance of having a nice clean and safe driveway as the sun melts the slippery layer off, I hope.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Unknown World War Two Tales - The Jews Awarded The Iron Cross

There was a country in World War 2 allied with Germany where:

Three of its Jews were awarded the Iron Cross, and all three declined the honor.
A Field Synagogue was setup near the front lines and actually visited by German officers.
The country's leader told the Nazis to go pound sand when they demanded he turn over the country's Jewish citizens to the Germans.

Yes, if you haven't guessed it by now, we're talking about Finland.

Finland in the Second World War was between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Invaded by the USSR in 1939, the Winter War, she fought the Soviets to a standstill. Then she fought alongside the Axis in the Continuation War 1941-1944 but with its own war aims, and finally fought the Lapland War in 1944-45 pushing the Germans out of Finland. Finnish Jews fought in all three wars.

It was during the Continuation War that three Jewish soldiers were awarded the Iron Cross.

Major Leo Skurnik served as a Doctor and organized the evacuation of a German field hospital under fire, thereby saving the lives of more than 600 German Officers and Soldiers. He refused to accept the award.

Captain Salomon Klass saved an entire German Company that had been surrounded by the Soviets. Two days later, German Officers came to offer him the “Iron Cross”. He refused to stand up at their presence and proclaimed the he was a Jew and did not want their Medal. Embarrassed, the Germans responded with a “Heil Hitler” salute and left.

Dina Poljakoff, who served in the women's voluntary organization, Lotta Svard was the third Jew to be awarded the Iron Cross. Poljakoff went to look at her Iron Cross at headquarters, but she did not accept it.

The field synagogue, complete with a Torah scroll, was setup by the 24th Regiment which had a large number of Jews in its ranks. The Finnish army issued an order that all Jews in the army could have leave to attend services there.

German officers and soldiers did visit the synagogue, as the nearest German unit was only a kilometer away, which must have led to some interesting and awkward exchanges in the rather unique situation of a field synagogue located alongside Nazi lines.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Happy Hanukkah!

Tonight is the First Night of Hanukkah.

Once I got home I hurried to make the traditional latkas.

I went old school today, using a hand grater instead of a Cuisinart.

It was a rather sharp hand grater. Ah well, no pain, no gain.

I followed the recipe and had the latkas ready to fry in the pan.

They came out golden brown and delicious.

Presents to follow the festivities and lighting of the Hanukkiah (Menorah).

A very Happy Hanukkah to you and yours, and may the light of Freedom shine brightly.

An Example Of A Poorly Thought Out Vicitm Selection Procees

Today's Stupid Criminal decided to do a burglary. That by itself wouldn't normally be cause for a featured sport as a stupid criminal What he decided to burgle does.

He decided to burgle a gun store.

With the owner inside.

As can be expected in such circumstances, it didn't end well for him.

The Detroit Free Press: Burglary suspect held at gunpoint by Livonia firearm store owner

Unsurprisingly, the burglar, Jair Christian-Lee Miner, even at age 27 is no stranger to the criminal justice system, being out on parole at the time of his latest offense, with convictions for robbery, car jacking, and larceny of a person.

Deciding maybe he hasn't learned his lesson and that releasing him on parole probably wasn't the brightest idea, he will also be charged with being a habitual offender along with the felony breaking and entering charge.

Winter Is Here Allright

A couple inches during the day yesterday, followed by three inches overnight. Quite a bit of snow for early December.

So I get the snow blower out and it performs most admirably - the secret:" Prior to use I sprayed the interior and chute with a silicone spray and now the snow is not sticking and jamming the machine. Winning.

Of course, right after I get the driveway nice and clean and put down some sand for traction, it starts snowing yet again.

This is going to be a long Winter.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Trump Kicks Off An Actual Peace Process By Recognizing Jerusalem As Israel's Capital

Trump does come through on his promises, and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital is an important step for eventual peace in the region. It's long past due that the US and the world recognized the obvious, that Jerusaelm is ISrael's capital and has been for years and it's not going to change.

Of course, Arabs are upset with the idea.

The Detroit News: Hundreds rally against Trump’s Jerusalem declaration

Hundreds of Metro Detroit Palestinians gathered in Hart Plaza Friday to rally against President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. ....

Trump said his recognition acknowledged the “obvious” that Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government despite its disputed status that’s one of the key elements in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The announcement on Wednesday also directed the State Department to begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as required by U.S. law.

“What’s the benefit (for the U.S.) coming in between the fight ... endangering the possibility of a peace settlement between Israel and Palestinians,” said Khalid Turaani, president of the American Muslim Leadership Council. “It’s stupid, but we’re not surprised.” . . .

During the two-hour demonstration, Detroit police said they helped escort the peaceful protestors, who chanted “from the river, to the sea, Palestine will be free,” as they marched from Hart Plaza to Campus Martius.

Note the chant "From the river to the sea - They mean the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and looking at a map that's all of Israel, not the disputed "Palestinian" territories. Again its part of the Palestinian and Arab fantasy that they can make Israel go away and they'll destroy it eventually so they don't need to actually engage in a real peace negotiation.

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital is another important step in the peace process - it makes the Arabs deal with the reality that Israel isn't going away and Israel is not going to give up Jerusalem. There will still be an Israel "from the river to the sea" regardless of their rejectionist approach. The sooner they give up the fantasy of destroying Israel and massacring the Jews and move forward with acceptance of reality, the more likely peace talks will actually succeed. Trump just kick-started the peace process by this declaration that it won't be the standard game as usual and hit them with a cluebat of reality.

The sooner the Arabs start to negotiate in good faith and from reality rather than fantasy, the closer the prospect of an actual and lasting peace.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Statistically Insignificant Study On Firearms Is Insignificant

So according to a study, 3 million more guns purchased in a 5 month period after Newtown shooting have a correlation of 60 additional "accidental" deaths.

That's .002% of the 3 million firearms purchased leading to an accidental death, assuming that there even is a causative link between the two events.

That's so small as to be amazingly insignificant. Then add in the fact that there was already about 300 million plus firearms in circulation, the 3 million more would be the proverbial drop on the bucket.

Heck if you added 3 million more cars to the nations roads there would be far more fatalities. But that wouldn't help push the narrative for gun control.

But it got major headlines.

Washington Post: Surge in gun sales after Sandy Hook led to spike in accidental gun deaths, study says

Of course, The Washington Post and other outlets did not report the criticism of the study. Of course, the study's author pushes for more "stringent gun storage laws", rather than for gun safety training that would be an actual and effective solution to reduce accidental firearms-related deaths.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

First Snow Of Winter

Ah, the first winter’s day of snow.

The feeling of schadenfreude watching people in their cars slipping and sliding through intersections due to forgetting the basic laws of physics. Simultaneously having the feeling of concern as they’re slipping towards YOU.

People spinning out in a small amount of snow when panic braking as they don’t understand the concept of slick surfaces and increased braking distance. Your 4-wheel drive may help you go, but it doesn’t help you come to a quick stop, and momentum from a larger vehicle can indeed be momentous.

Drive safe out there, and put the darn phone down and focus on your driving, ok? You’re just not as good a driver in snow as you think.

The first snowfall of the season has happened and people have completely forgotten how to drive in it. It's a lovely wet and very slippery snowfall of about an inch, custom designed to mess up the roads nicely. The roads are indeed a mess with nary a snowplow in sight and getting to a meeting this morning was an experience.

Good thing this was on a weekend as having the first snowfall in a morning rush hour would have been extremely bad. Winter is officially here, and so is winter driving season.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

New Orleans Day 4 - The World War Two Museum

In the morning we took a trolley down to the Central Business District.

First we had brunch at Mother's, a New Orleans landmark with fantastic food and lines to match.

Then pleasantly full, we walked from the stop to the World War 2 museum.

As you enter the museum you see an LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) also known as a Higgins boat. It was the LVCPs that brought the first waves ashore at Normandy and other amphibious operations in 36 man loads.

Ascending up the stairs you come nose to nose with C-47 number 096.

Number 096 served in the three largest airborne operations of the war: Normandy, Market-Garden, and Varsity, and dropped supplies to the surrounded 101st Airborne at Bastogne. It later was operated by the Finnish Air force and Starred in the movie A Bridge To Far starring as itself in the airborne operations in Market-Garden. Acquired by the museum in 2006 she has both pride of place and a well deserved spot of honor.

Other aircraft on display in the musuem include

A Spitfire

A TBM Avenger

An SBD Dauntless

The mighty P-51 Mustang

An F4U Corsair

A B17 and B25, a P40 and a BF-109 rounded out the aircraft collection.

We did the Final Mission interactive exhibit - recounting the fatal last voyage of the USS Tang, a submarine sunk by her own torpedo while attacking a Japanese convoy.

On entering the exhibit, you're given a card and assigned a duty station.

The card comes complete with the picture of one of the crew of the Tang that did not survive the final voyage. Rather sobering, that.

On leaving the exhibit, you pass by a list of US World War 2 submarines still on eternal patrol.

Other exhibits included excellent ones on the Guadalcanal campaign and Operation Torch.

After 5 hours we had covered all of the exhibits, but not to worry, they're growing and adding more as we speak.

To say the National World War 2 Museum is a must-see when visiting New Orleans is an understatement.

Monday, December 04, 2017

New Orleans Day 3 - The Lights Are Calling

After the swamp, we rested and then prepared for further festivities.

First we met up with a friend of Murph's and went to Buffa's Bar and Restaurant where while they had some burgers, I had an alligator etouffe that was simply out of this world. An Abita Amber accompanied it for pure New Orleans perfection.

The bar also had important evacuation proceedures posted:

Then we headed off to the Celebration of The Oaks.

It was a glorious holiday light show with displays aplenty.

Being New Orleans, a Christmas display was simply not complete without a crawfish.

This was part of a catchy musical display The 12 Yats of Christmas. Certainly not a typical rendition. Yats sound like a bunch of New Yorkers who moved to New Orleans. That song will get seriously stuck in your head if you click that link. You have been warned.

 Other musically interactive ones drew onlookers like moths to a flame.

There was also a very nice Hanukkah lights display.

Mr. Bingle was also there:

There was also a huge toy train display that caught Murphy's intense interest. After all, who doesn't love toy trains?   Yep there had been some adult beverages involved on the way to the display.

 After thoroughly examining every display we headed of to the First and Last Stop bar for more drinks and came across a neat part of New Orleans culture.  Mardi Gras Indians.

The Monogram Hunters tribe were in the bar practicing for Mardi Gras.

Very cool to see and they were very, very good.   Quite a unique  look into a not very well known part of New Orleans culture.

That was one heckuva night,  Now off to this day's adventure.

New Orleans Day 3 - To The Swamp

A trip to the big easy isn't complete without a journey to the Barataria Preserve.

There is a ton of life forms out in the swamp to see.

But, you need to find them first.

Did you spot the gator?

It was a little 2-foot gator. The only one we would see as most seem to have hidden themselves away, mainly due to a variety of visitors making noise throughout the preserve boardwalks. The screaming kid in particular probably annoyed the gators to no end.

There was also a turtle encountered this visit.

Aside from squirrels, that was all the animal life seen this trip along the swamp's boardwalks.

A beautiful day to be out and about the natural areas near the Big Easy.