Thursday, September 29, 2022

Long After The Horses Have Already Bolted And The Pigs Have Fed At The Trough

Democrats are beginning to realize their Marie Antoinette approach hasn't been a hit with most Americans.

The Detroit News: Democrats unveil bill to restrict trading by lawmakers, presidents

This is of course, long after the Nancy Pelosi stock picking method, and the wealth she has amassed from it, has become legendary, and long after she;s moved to block prior bans.

Interestingly, and not surprisingly, there's lots of push-back from the Democrats in the House and Senate who want to keep on insider trading.

Unsurprisingly, the bill itself has apparently a huge loophole to keep insider trading alive.

Hilariously, the Detroit News article states that:

Forcing a vote now has the added bonus of putting Republicans on the spot, they said.

So, the Democrats themselves are conflicted with many against the bill as it harms their economic self-interest and opportunity to make millions insider trading, yet somehow bringing it up to vote will be "putting Republicans on the spot".

Pull the other one, it's got bells on it.

That Subsidy Could Have Bought An Awful Lot of New Power Plants

The Detroit News: Germany to spend billions to tackle high energy prices

Green dreams tend to end up in power supply nightmares, don't they?

Germany plans to spend up to 200 billion euros ($195 billion) helping consumers and businesses cope with surging energy prices, particularly for natural gas, due to the war in Ukraine.

Note this doesn't actually tackle high energy prices and does nothing to address the supply issue, it merely papers over it for consumers and has the government pay for the increase that is due to lousy planning on the German government's part when it comes to energy.  It's just a lot of spent money to kick the can down the road and not address the problem.

At approximately $4 Billion per reactor in construction costs (Nuclear power plants apparently are very expensive to build but relatively inexpensive to run), that money could have built 48 Nuclear plants and had money left over for operations of them.

Pity Germany embraced outsourcing its power generation and power supplies to a rather unreliable supplier in Russia.  

Even better, remember how they smirked and outright laughed at Trump when he noted their reliance on Russian gas was a bad idea. Who is laughing now?

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Putting The Mental in Judgmental

Ah, Detroit is a place that is run in a demonstrably poor fashion by Democrats, and its 36th District Court is even worse, which is why I try to avoid practicing there as much as possible. 

The Detroit News: 36th District judge 'unfit,' should be removed from bench, state commission says

The commission determined each of 36th District Court Judge Kahlilia Davis's multiple acts of misconduct are "egregious in their own right," according to the organization's decision and recommendation for discipline that was released Friday night. Davis was accused of failing to record court proceedings, refusing to abide by a performance plan the court set up for her and blanketly dismissing cases from a specific process server because she did not trust him.

Of course she then attempted to sue playing the race card.  The hard part about playing the race card in Detroit, however, is most of her superiors are Black themselves, and her many egregious mistakes were rather prominent, and the case was dismissed.

As for the mental part, she:

Routinely showed up late, missed days of work and performed the job poorly, according to the report. The State Court Administrative Office stepped in to make a performance plan for her, in which Davis refused to participate. Instead, she attacked the people assigned to help her "with discourteous and unprofessional written threats and barbs, including biblical quotes insinuating that her colleagues and the administrators should or would go to Hell."

Not exactly showing a proper judicial temperament there at all.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Happy Rosh HaShanah 5783 / 2022

Happy Rosh Hashannah!

Services get to be live this year, which is a welcome improvement over the Zoom of the past couple years.

May my readers and friends have a good and sweet new year, and be inscribed in the Book of Life.

שנה טובה ומתוקה

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sunday Match Day

This morning I headed out to a match, in the rain.

Luckily, the rain subsided as I signed in and got ready. I was in a good squad of 11 shooters and we had a good time.

The morning went quite well, and thanks to the class I took last weekend, I was measurably more accurate and quicker shooting, and had better stage planning and was more aware of where the targets were.

Overall pretty happy with my performance, but, of course, there's plenty of room for improvement.  

I did not fail to engage a single target the entire match, compared to my normally sailing past at least one hidden one per match. Even better I did not engage any targets twice either. Better stage planning certainly helped, especially with the confusing stages where some target could only be seen form certain angles or were viewable from multiple locations.

Got the match results, and it turns out I shot one stage with a B-Class percentage, and the rest with mid to high C-class scores, with the overall percentage within 7% of a B-Class score, so that's a nice start to some improvement.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Since We're Already in One, I'd Say The Odds Are Pretty Good

The Detroit Free Press, ever covering for the Democrats had the following article: What are the odds of a U.S. recession in 2023?

Since we're already in one I'd say the odds are pretty much 100%.

Indeed, now Federal Reserve Chairman Powell is backing away from his statement of just 11 days ago that higher rates likely won't cause a deep recession, it doesn't look good.

Fox Business: Fed's Powell abandons promise of 'soft landing' amid inflation fight

Given Powell's previous wrong statements that inflation frrm his and Biden's monetary policies would be merely tranistory, and that he;s now abandoning his promise that he can controlinflation while creating a "soft landing", I'd say that economic reality that their actions are goign to cvause a deep recession is pretty much spot on.

Inflation and flooding the economy with dollars may make you feel pretty good initially, and Biden is trying to keep the bender going by continuing spending under the "Inflation Reduction Act" that will actually increase inflation, and spending over half a trillion in forgiving his supporters' student loans.  

But, the hangover is going to suck - and its going to hurt those of us who weren't even drinking the Democrat's Modern Monetary Theory Kool-Aid.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Case of The Dyslexic Who Married an Insomniac Atheist

Had a weird one in court today.

Friend of mine had called me that he got a notice to appear in court for a crime he did not recall committing, nor did he recall even getting a ticket for it.

He apparently got ticketed for not having a licensed dog.  This is a misdemeanor in Michigan.

The problem is he does not have any dog -- licensed or otherwise.

Turns out there were census workers going around his neighborhood, knocking on doors and if they heard a dog they told police who then wrote the owner of the house a ticket.

Somehow they wrote him up for one and we're not sure how it happened.

Managed to talk with the prosecutors prior to the hearing today, and had to go in and put on the record that he does not own a dog, and the ticket was then dismissed.

Quite a waste of time for all involved.

So what happens when a dyslexic marries an insomniac atheist?

You get a bunch of kids running around in the middle of the night saying:

"There is no Dog."

In this case, there really is no dog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

End Of The Cruise And A Day In London

After Cadiz we were at sea for a couple days.

The first of these days we were in some serious fog:

 The ship's fog horn sounded regularly and it was rather neat to walk the deck and see nothing beyond,and in fact often not even seeing the rest of the ship.

The next day we watched a cooking demonstration by the Ship's head chef and got some neat recipe ideas. We then attended another British trivia show and had a really lovely conversation with some British couples and had a great evening.

The sunset at sea was awesome, too.

 We then arrived early in the morning back at Southampton, had a final breakfast on the ship,  and then began the disembarkation, which was all too efficient and fast.

We retrieved our luggage, and found our transport and headed to London. We had arranged to meet with my cousin that lives there with her family and she suggested, as it was still rather hot out, that we meet at Greenwich.

To get to Greenwich we needed to take the tube which we did successfully, finding he proper line and getting off at the correct stop.  Then we took a ride on the Uber Boat on the Thames, which is not actually booked with the Uber app.

Its a rather nice ride on the ferry, and it goes slow for awhile for a few stops, and then really picks up speed.

As it meandered along, I got a nice shot of HMS Belfast, a Town-class light cruiser with service in World War 2 and Korea and the first British naval vessel to be preserved since HMS Victory:

Picking up speed we soon arrived at Greenwich and the old Naval War College, which is now a museum and park.

Of course, there are large naval cannons: 

There's a statue to Sir Walter Raleigh in the grounds:

Inside the building is an extensive museum about the history of the Naval War College:

It was at this time my cousin and her family arrive, so my tour of the museum was cut short, especially as their young child doesn't like museums.

Heading out of the museum, we passed by the Cutty Sark, but it had a huge lineup and with impatient young child on a hot day so we moved along.


We then wandered through Greenwich Market, saw various shops, and had some lunch.

So we walked along the grounds of the University of Greenwich, and saw the  Royal Observatory in Greenwich, home of Greenwich Mean Time and the prime meridian.

Quite cool to see it, and we had enough time to do so.

We then walked a bit more around and then had dinner together and we headed back to our hotel. I had a good time catching up with my cousin and her family, and all that walking about wiped us out nicely.

We got back to the hotel, and then the kids and Tash went to a store they wanted to see and I wandered around London for a but and then sat and had a cask ale at a pub near the hotel.

We then got ready for our departure from Heathrow the next day, which was its own adventure.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Detroit Schools: Throwing More Money At A Problem Does Not Solve The Problem

Detroit Schools got the greatest amount of Covid aid of any school system in Michigan.  Not only that it got the greatest amount of Federal Covid aid of any large school system in the United States - more than $25,000 per student.

Detroit also gets as of 2018-2019 data (good luck finding more recent info) at least  $15,891 per student in funding.

The result: The Detroit News: Dumas: Half of Detroiters illiterate? We need action

Detroit is the eighth highest spending school district per pupil in the entire United States, and it still has the worst outcomes.

Expect the action demanded to be to throw even more money at the problem, even as throwing tons of money at the Detroit Public Schools for decades now has not increased the school system's performance.. 

Because the doing the same thing time after time and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.  But, it is a very profitable insanity for the teacher's union, the school administrators, and the Democrat party that gets donations and activists in return for the funding.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Remember The Rule To Know Your Target And What Is Beyond?

There's a reason it is a rather important firearms safety rule.

In short, there's now at least one Detroit police officer (and I suspect many more)  that certainly needs some remedial firearms training and improved proficiency.

The Detroit News: Officer accidentally shot by partner aiming at dog, Detroit police said

Vicious dogs are an ever-present problem in Detroit.  From feral dogs to criminal's pit bulls and rotties to just plain negligent owners who don't properly train and control their dogs there's sadly a lot of bad and dangerous dogs out there. 

Bad dog related stuff, as a result, happens all the time, and police often do have to shoot dogs that are attacking them or others.

But, shooting your partner instead of the dog charging at the two of you is really not an ideal solution to an attacking dog problem.

Gun School: Tim Herron's Practical Performance Class

This weekend I was near Fort Wayne Indiana for Tim Herron's Practical Performance Class hosted by Condition Red Response.

To say the class is excellent in terms of the detailed instruction and absolute flood of information and analysis you receive to increase and improve your shooting performance is an understatement.

Tim is a USPSA Grand Master and it shows.   To say he is both fast and accurate in shooting is an understatement. 

He also has an excellent teaching demeanor and is able to convey a lot of complex information broken down into understandable parts, as well as a very sharp eye to detect issues with each student's shooting and point out immediate techniques for improvement.

He explained USPSA's often confusing concept of Hit Factor in the simplest way possible - it is simply the number of points you collect per second on a stage.  He also talked about how the classification system worked, and discussed stage planning.

Yes, there was indeed a stage in the class. First time we ran it cold and  I sucked.  We then worked on all the techniques to learn to shoot better and faster as well as identify how to better plan and read a stage, and improve our overall shooting technique with tailored instruction to each student based on what Tim observed as we ran the stage.

In short, I was definitely in the bottom quarter of the sixteen shooters there in terms of ability walking into class.  Wonderfully humbling. This was good as it gave me a lot of room for improvement, and some improvement did indeed occur, not to mention the desire to further improve. 

There were some really exceptionally good shooters attending - some A and B class and many other proficient shooters, all very friendly and willing to exchange information and everyone supported each other during the class.  So, I learned a lot from not just Tim but my fellow classmates as well.  I did improve quite a bit on subsequent stage runs becoming both faster and more accurate both.

Carry Optic Pistols dominated the firearms choices present with SIG 320s being the majority.  We had a few Glocks, some 2011s, one Walther PDP, a Canik, and an Open gun, and some iron sight-only pistols as well. The SIGs ran impressively well and I may just look into one moving forward as they offer some definite advantages over the Glock -- except in the area of magazine cost where Glock has pretty much everyone beat. The experienced USPSA shooters highly recommended the SIG 320 and had lots of good suggestions.

Among many other drills over the two days, we did the rectangle drill, Blake Drill, and a barrel drill.  This specific barrel drill was designed to teach shooting on the move as well as transition flow and it was quite challenging. 

Lots of movement on the second day and my hip was telling me it was getting annoyed.   It certainly didn't help my speed any.

Tim diagnosed an issue with my grip and my shooting improved remarkably from that one small observation and change.

I left the class with a ton of practical drills to use to improve my shooting, and  a much better understanding of how to do better, and of USPSA shooting itself which is really helpful.

I highly recommend Tim's class if you want to learn how to shoot faster and more accurately -- as well as on the move -- whether you participate in an action pistol game or not. There's measurable improvement after spending two days in class alone and he gives you the methodologies to improve further on your own  -- which is the hard part to keep the work up to have the improvements stick.

Practical Performance is a great class with a great teacher.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Yeowch - I Was Not Expecting That

So yesterday I went to do some jitsu.

The lesson was on the overhead sweep from guard.

First time learning it, and it is a very fun sweep.

In short, the attacker stands up in your guard or runs into your guard, and decides while doing so to grab your throat, jacket etc. You basically get your feet in his hips, grab his arms, and basically can get him up in the air with his weight on your feet like a leg press and roll him north above  your head in a somersault-type maneuver, and if you hang on to his arms while doing so you end up on top.

The sweep can be stopped by the attacker if he knows how to shift his body to counter, but it then opens him up for two other sweeps if he persists in standing up.

Much fun, and I did the sweeper but not the sweepee side of things and having people's feet leg pressing into my hips lifting me into the air would be a bad idea. Still not allowed to fall, and the sweepee does do a definite fall onto the hips which is contra-indicated.

So that was good and went well.

Then we did some rolling which went well until . . .

I was in my second  roll of the night with an opponent and had a good opportunity to do a trap and roll maneuver to get him off of on to of me. The problem is as I extended by hips up in a bridge, he in reaction brought his foot down hard right on my right hip to get a hook in to stop me rolling him.

He hit a rather unpleasant spot on the leg, pretty much right on the surgical scar as my hips were fully extended, which unpleasantly triggered a reaction I did not know could happen.

Basically, it felt like 240 volts of electricity coursed through my entire body and I collapsed nicely.

Ow, Ow, Ow.  Basically every nerve in the hip area went absolutely bonkers and I could not move.

After a bit, I discovered I could actually move again, and was able to move the leg and hip.  I was able to get up and move around.  Hip joint seemed ok, but the muscles around the hip were not happy.

I sat out the rest of the rolling and watched, and then helped with cleaning the mats afterward. Got changed, went home, had a hot shower, and took some Tylenol.

Rather sore and a bit limpy this morning, but no serious damage done, still same range of motion as before and no excessive pain. 

So, it turns out I'm not quite as healed up as I thought, which is a bit disconcerting. 

I'm going to need to take it a bit easier, and not do trap and rolls unless I have my training partner know not to try and stop it with the non-rolling side hook, but that was the first time that has happened. All prior rolls to date have only resulted in some soreness, not electric, body-frying pain like that. 

Good to know and certainly a corrective as I thought I was healed up and well past the point that kind of thing happening, but apparently not. Will just carry on, but being a bit more careful as we go here.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

High Performance Endorsement And Dakota Checkout Achieved

So yesterday, after the debacle of the trial,  I headed off to the airport, preflighted the plane,  and met up with Mike.

I got to play with the GFC 500 autopilot  and put it in Take Off/Go Around mode and esenetially pre loaded the route and once we hit 800 feet afdter taking off form pontiac and being cleared on course, I hit the autopilot button and the plane got on course and climbed at 500 fpm to the selected altitude.  Piece of cake.

We again headed to Lapeer so as we neared Lapeer I put the autopilot ion heading mode and by adjusting the heading got it ready to enter the downwind and descended via the vertical speed feature to pattern altitude.  Piece of cake and I was right where I needed to be.  I can get used to this.  Then I disconnected the autopilot, entered the downwind and got to work on landings.

The landings and some pattern work were even better than those I did on Monday. I was nailing the speeds and settings. Pretty much had the place to ourselves and I got a lot of good practice in - short field landings and takeoffs, soft field landings and takeoffs and regular ones as well. Lot of good practice and I was making some smooth landings with great airspeed control.

Then it was getting dark and we headed back to Pontiac and I handled it via autopilot as well.

There were some unwanted visitors at Pontiac airport - a flock of Geese had decided to land between the runways and migrate around willy-nilly which led to some issues.

We first were told to enter a right base for Runway 27R but got changed to 27L due to Geese threatening runway incursions on 27R.

Did a landing, then stayed in the pattern and did a couple more on 27L.  By then it was getting rather dark but wasn't an hour past sunset so I couldn't use them as credit for night landings, but in reality they were at night so good practice indeed.

Then for the last landing we switched to 27R, I greased it in perfectly and taxi'd back to the hangar and shut the plane down.

Mike then endorsed my logbook with the high performance endorsement and let the club secretary know that I was now fully checked out on the aircraft.

That's 1.8, 9 landings, and the high performance endorsement in the logbook!

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Well That Sucked

Had a trial today live in Wayne County Circuit Court.  first live appearance down their since Covid started.  Had to wear a mask going into the building and it was rather hot and unpleasant.

Getting there was more than half the fun.

Due to Joe Biden being in town to visit the auto show, the highway exit I normally use to exit the highway and get to the courthouse was closed off.  No notice until I was right at the exit and saw it blocked with police cars.

So I had to navigate a rather roundabout way to the parking structure near the courthouse in rather heavy traffic that also had a really high percentage of police and DHS vehicles of all types around.  Upside, crime in downtown Detroit probably dropped significantly.

So I get there and we start.

Right off, I lose a motion I had filed to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, as I point out even if we total all their alleged damages and apply the law, it still doesn't reach the Circuit Court's $25,000.01 floor. 

Plaintiff cunningly argues we can ignore the law and facts that would fix their damages below the limit. and in a bizarro world ignoring the facts of the case, that they even admit to, they could be able to get over the limit if those facts are ignored.

The Court agrees and on to trial we go. It would be one of those trials.

In short, I knew going in that cannot win this trial in the normal sense of the word. 

There's not too many trials where I on the defense side get to say that we admit and stipulate to my clients breaching the contract (that is an uncontested fact), but the clients don't owe all the damages the Plaintiffs claim we do, but do owe some damages.  Plaintiffs refused to settle the case at all.

Clients were residential renters and had economic hardship due to Covid and lost their income.  They were evicted and now Landlord who is a complete dick, is suing for the entire Lease amount. They failed to re-rent the property and instead decided to list it for sale at a high amount and sold it after months of doing not much to sell it.

I argue they failed to mitigate and for at least four of the six months they seek additional damages, as they didn't even list the property at the time. I have the MLS listings(form them in discovery no less) to prove they didn't.

At trial, for the first time ever, they claim they put it up for sale as a FSBO without an agent and placed a sign out front during those 4 months.

I note they never produced any evidence of this in response to my discovery requests pre-trial, and  have no evidence they actually did it, and not even a picture of the sign to introduce as evidence.

The judge rules their claim that they did the FSBO, with no evidence but their testimony that they did it and nothing more, as credible to her, so we get slapped with those months as well.  Not happy about that ruling.

But the judge now wants me to do a brief on whether their choice not to try and rent it for those months at all affects their damages and if it could be considered a failure to mitigate.


Well, at the very least, I saved my clients $1,000.00 when I get Plaintiff's claim of damages to the premises (there were none, it was a complete BS with a suspicious invoice for work allegedly done 3 months after they left) dismissed due to their not following Michigan law.

Oh yes, even if the damages are fully applied now they are still well under the jurisdictional limit.  Sheesh.

Cruise - The Sights And Sherry Of Cadiz

The next morning we arrived in Cadiz, Spain and got a good view of the city skyline. 

The monument on the skyline was made in 1912 to commemorate the Spanish Constitution being signed in 1812.

We then boarded a bus and drove through Cadiz and headed to the Jerez region. We had a very upbeat and friendly guide who told us the history of Cadiz and the Jerez region.

Jerez de la Frontera  has often been mispronounced in English as Sherry.  It's the Sherry production region.  We were off to a sherry and tapas making tour.

We went to Bodega Casa Del Marques - since 1846 it's been producing fine sherries.

The bodega is on a classical estate in a lovely Spanish villa.

We got a nice tour of the facilities and saw the hisotric areas where sherry is made.

Then we saw some barrels full of sherry and learned the difference between the sherries made there and got to sample the olorosso and cream sherry they make there.  Very tasty and we bought a small bottle to bring home. 

 We then were served glasses of sangria and got to work making Tapas.

Since neither the Brits in the group, nor Tash or I knew Spanish, Abby and Leah managed to use their high school Spanish to chat with the ladies running the cooking demonstration as our guide translated.

We made mushroom caps stuffed with beef.

Potatoes fried in olive oil with greens.

And three more dishes.  All amazing, and yep, quite a few more glasses of Sangria as we made and then ate the tasty dishes.

After that we then headed back to Cadiz for the end of the tour and had some time to walk around Cadiz near the port on our own.

We walked to the Plaza de San Antonio and then wandered the narrow streets for some browsing and shopping.

We stopped by a cute Gelato place and sampled the tasty treats inside.

I mean how could you not go into such an establishment?

We then saw the outside of rather ornate literary, arts, and science center dedicated to Cervantes:


No windmills to tilt at in sight, unfortunately.

We then came upon a row of ladies clothing stores and some damage was done as both the fashions and prices were great. I got to rest my hip by sitting down and patiently waiting as they shopped so it was all good.

Shopping instincts sated, we headed back to the ship with plenty of time to spare to board.

We then had dinner with a view as we pulled away from port, having acquired a taste for sherry and tapas while we were there.

Cadiz was a great city to visit and the Tapas tour was excellent and well worth doing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Well, That's Very Reassuring

The Detroit News: Powell: Higher rates won’t likely cause deep US recession

This statement is not reassuring, at all.

Remember, this is the same Powell that stated  in the not-so-distant past that the "Recent Rise in Inflation Is ‘Transitory - as inflation that proved it was not transitory at all.

Turns out it is not, in fact, transitory and it is still very much continuing.

You know, the same transitory inflation that he later admitted he was wrong about and has now been raising interest rates to try to beat down, even as the Biden administration continues to flood the economy with more government spending and more dollars into circulation?

Yes, him.

His current statement that raising rates now won't likely cause a deep US recession needs to be taken with a large block of salt, not to mention an expectation that we're about to hit a deep US recession considering his prognostication accuracy to date.

A 50th Birthday At Sea

The day after we left Alghero was a relaxing day at sea.  

 It was bright, sunny, and beautifully calm day in the Med.

It was also my 50th birthday.  

The door lock on the cabin cheerfully wished me a happy birthday:

Tash had managed to get a couple cheesecake muffins from the pastry shop, and garnished them with some maraschino cherries from one of the bars along the way, and thus continued our tradition of a cherry cheesecake for a family member's birthday, even at sea.

I then celebrated with a morning workout, followed by a more indulgent breakfast at the buffet, and then relaxing on deck reading books with the family in the sun.

After that we attended tea time, and then did some more walking around the ship, and shot some hoops on the basketball court.

Then we went to dinner.  We decided to splurge for my birthday and had reserved a table at the Crown Grill Steakhouse, one of the three premium restaurants on board.

To say the steak there was excellent would be an understatement. 

The steaks and service ranked up their with the best steakhouses anywhere. I had a porterhouse steak which was immense, flavorful, and cooked to perfection and one of the best steaks I've eaten, period.  

Also, I  got a birthday cake as a dessert which made it extra special.

If you're on a Princess cruise, a dinner at the Crown Grill is an excellent choice for a special night.  

After dinner, we went to one of the bars where some lively entertainment was going on.  

It was Princess' version of Fun with Flags.  Everyone participating got a paper and pencil and the host would put a picture of a flag on the screen up front and you had to guess what country it was.  To make it even more interesitng, he would add additional questions such as a famous singer from that country.  (ie the Jamaican flag was put up and Jamaica and then Bob Marley was the answer to question #2)

Lots of fun banter and humor during the game, and lots of flags of countries I had never seen before so it was challenging and fun, and the host occasionally gave some hints.  Lots of really tiny British ex-colonies have flags, as it turns out - the Brits on board knew them pretty well, but no one got all 10 countries along with all the extra facts but much fun was had.

After the game we then took it easy and relaxed, then played some craps at the casino, and then took a dip in the adults-only pool and then ended the night.

It was a most excellent birthday at sea.

Flying - The Piper Dakota Checkout Ride 2

So yesterday, I headed straight from work to the airport to continue the checkout.

I did the preflight and then Mike arrived and we discussed the plan for the evening - fly to D95 Lapeer and do some pattern work to get used to the Dakota's handling.

Since the wind was out of 220 at 8 knots we'd use Runway 18 there.

Turns out, landing the Dakota well is all about airspeed engagement.  If you're on speed in each stage of the pattern, you're going to get a good landing in.

Downwind is 90 once you hit midfield, base is 85, final is 80 slowing to 75 on short final.

Once I got those numbers dialed in, everything went very well.

First landing was ok but not great, a bit left of center-line and needed to keep the nose up more. Not the best approach.

For the second pattern, I really worked on nailing the airspeeds and having the correct pitch and power in and the next landing was right on center and very nice indeed. 

Did it again and then we started adding some more fun into the mix.

I then did short field takeoffs which in a Dakota are rather fun - two notches of flaps, rotate at 50 and climb at Vx. The plane lifts off with no issues at all, gains airspeed rapidly, and it is a fun and easy performance takeoff.

We then did some short-field landing practice and with managing the air speed correctly for them I nailed those pretty well too.  The Dakota is very much a numbers aircraft - get it on the proper airspeed, at the proper time, with the proper pitch and power settings and it is a shoe-in for a good landing.

Then we did some soft-field takeoffs. The short field takeoff begins with the yoke puled all the way back and two notches of flaps in. The only problem is the Dakota really wants to climb and get out of ground effect before it is ready to actually fly and you have to quickly transition and push the yoke forward to stay in ground effect and pickup speed, put not so soon that you stay on the ground or return to it.  Took a bit of finesse but I got it.

Soft field landings are the same as regular landings for the most part, but you leave a bit more power in at landing and keep the nose high as long as possible on the ground.  Easy.

A couple of other planes came and went while we were practicing, including a Cirrus doing IFR practice missed approaches on Runway 36 -- opposite the wind and our direction of travel, which made for a few interesitng moments including one where I simply held short of the runway after landing until we figured out what the Cirrus was actually doing as he wasn't quite clear. The second time he did his approach practice we were on final as he zoomed in but he stayed quite high above traffic pattern altitude so it was no issue.

We then played with the GFC 500 autopilot on the way back to Pontiac and I enjoyed another opportunity to use it.  I sorta knew how to use it having done it once before, but it was great and got a good refresher and I'm fully up on it now.

We then headed back to Pontiac and the pattern was all sorts of busy.  First had an instruction to report a 2 mile right base, but as I reported that Tower had us break off the base to do an extended downwind for traffic.

I used the autopilot to turn us onto the downwind nice and easy and we flew outward for quite awhile.  Disconnected the autopilot, and turned back in when instructed to by the controller and was then number 2 to land.

Really extended final as a result and it was pretty much civil twilight but not night yet so I brought it in for a nice landing. Then taxi'd to the hangar, wiped the bugs off and put the plane to bed.

Mike said I did very good with the landings and had really improved my control of the plane, and assuming I keep that up on the next ride, he has no problem signing me off for the high-performance endorsement and the Dakota.

That's 1.8 and 8 landings.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Pocket Portraits Of The Queen

So, quite a few people in Commonwealth Countries around the globe are apparently concerned, or at least journalists are claiming such concern, about the status of their banknotes and coins with the Queen Elizabeth II's image on them.

The short answer:  No worries, it is all still fully legal tender and remains so even with a new monarch and upon the passing of her majesty.

The Detroit News: Queen Elizabeth is featured on several currencies. Now what?

Longer answer:   The banknotes and coins will continue to circulate and eventually be retired as they go through their respective banking systems. As the current notes and coins get worn out,  new notes with the new monarch's visage enter circulation - which is going to take quite a lot of time.

In fact, even much older series notes from many years ago can still be used or exchanged with your central bank (and often your local bank accepts them) for new notes. 

But, those older series notes likely have a higher numismatic value than their face value if in excellent condition as a collectible at this point.  So, you may not want to turn in your crisp and shiny old banknotes just now. However, the recent dated crumpled up notes in your pocket with her portrait likely won't bring much of a premium over face value now or in the immediate future.


Recovering from the hard walking around Rome, the next day we arrived off of the port of Alghero in Sardinia.

Alghero is a charming town of about 45,000 people, on the upper west side of the Island of Sardinia, with quite a bit of history, nice architecture, and a really nice beach in walking distance of the port.

We decided not to do a shore excursion but explore it on our own, as it is rather small and easy to navigate and we felt like wandering about on our own time.  I used the GPSMycity App to create a custom walking tour.

First we had to get to Alghero.  The port cannot dock a cruise ship, so we went by ship tenders, which were actually the lifeboats (note the empty davits in the picture above).

The good:  It was a really neat ride and well organized.

The bad: You got in a tight line to get on the tender with people who were going to be on the tender with you, on the tender you then had to put on an N94 type mask in a rather hot and stuffy interior, and then as soon as you hit the dock you could take the mask off.  This didn't make a heckuva lot of sense, but that's covid regs for you.  Had a nice chat with a British family on board the tender - their eldest and ours were going off to colleges after the cruise and it was a very pleasant chat. 

So we arrived and got off the tenders on what would be yet another sunny and really hot day:

 A nice historic tower greets you at the port:

This used to be the entrance and exit to the walled city of Alghero from the port, and it is now a museum and visitor's center.

We walked through the streets and visited quite a few shops:

And saw the central market with lots of produce, including fresh caught fish from the sea:

We walked along and saw a memorial to Italy's Airmen:

The inscription translates to: "In memory of all the aviators who in arms and in service for the supreme ideal of the homeland."

After that the walking tour was cut short due to the heat and a 3-1 vote to hit the beach immediately to cool off, and so we walked to the beach, which was a short walk from town and the port.

It's a very nice beach and we had a great time swimming in the Mediterranean, lying on the sand, and sipping some cold beverages. 

We then wandered back to the port and got in line for the tenders taking poeple back to the ship.

We waited by the Torre Della Madalina, also known as Garibaldi's tower, as the famous Giuseppe Garibaldi had visited Alghero, arriving at this point in 1855.


The long line gave us time to admire the city walls and try to get some shade. 

 Princess crew members came along offering people umbrellas/parasols/or sunshades (Actually they all the same thing but the game with the crew member was you got to pick which one you wanted) for shade as we stood waiting to board.

On the upside, for the tender on the way back we got to go on top of the tender and enjoy some fresh air and get a good look at the city and harbor as we motored away:


A nice and very relaxed day, especially compared the almost endless amount of walking throughout the rest of Italy under a very hot sun.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

9/11 - 21 Years On

It appears the Detroit Free Press as of right now seems to have forgotten all about it.  Not a single mention of it on their home page. They have more headline room for a teenage twit to opine about social justice and gun control than the biggest terrorist event in US History.

The Detroit News does at least have it on its home page, but you have to scroll way down to find it mentioned under the "Nation + World" Section.

So some have forgotten about it or reduced to a distant memory, for some it seems like yesterday, and some adults now were not even alive when it happened.

Some of the problem is we refuse to identify the enemy and make it a vacuous "War on Terror" which by its very nature cannot be won as you can't beat a tactic.  You beat the enemy using the tactic.

It's also undercut this year by the rather fresh memory of Biden's debacle of an Afghanistan rout, for which many would rather we forgot.

We still remember 9/11 though, and we do remember those heroes and those innocent victims who lost their lives that day.

Rome IV - The Vatican

We then walked back to the bus and drove on to our next stop.

We passed the Tiber, which is rather low this year:


We then reached the Vatican parking lot - a very large underground parking garage setup for tour buses of all types.

We then walked to St. Peter's Square. Unfortunately, it was still a hot enough walk that another lady in our tour group dropped out before even reaching the square. I really cannot recommend visiting Rome in August. If you do, stay hydrated.

 We had apparently missed the Pope's appearance by a few hours that day.

The square is impressively large.


We also saw some of the walls of the Vatican, click to embiggen and see the many inscriptions on the wall.


We saw a few Carabinieri about:


And a nice display by the Italian Army by the Vatican wall:

A street vendor saw me looking the vehicle over. and offered to sell it to me for 100 Euro.

I said "If you've got the keys, and it runs you've got a deal".

He didn't, so we both got a laugh out of it.  

There are a ton of street vendors both within and without the Vatican area selling all sorts of stuff - mainly religious items and hats for protection from the sun. Unfortunately, there's lots of pickpockets about as well so you need to watch your wallet.

We then got some free time and the options were to hang around the Vatican, or take a rather long walk over a bridge to a shopping area.  The family's answer may surprise you - they were fried so further long walks and shopping was out.

So we stayed around the Vatican and went to a find a place for lunch.

First we went to the Caffe San Pietro which has been operating since 1775. Yes, 1775.


It's a cafeteria-style restaurant but it unfortunately was packed and not even standing room only, so we headed out to try and find somewhere else to eat.

We wandered about and with some Apple Maps help did manage to find a restaurant somewhat nearby with a table available and then had a real Italian lunch.  The place was rather packed, but we had a most delightful lunch of real fresh Roman-style pasta that was amazing.

We then headed back to the Vatican, bought a few gifts in the many gift shops in the area for some Catholic friends of ours, and then went to the pickup point and tried to find some shade and then got on the bus and headed back for the long drive to the port.

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Rome III - The Colosseum and Constantine's Arch

We continued walking along the Forum until we reached the Flavian Amphitheater.

Yes, thew Colosseum is not actually the Colosseum, its the Flavian Amphitheater.

It became misnamed as the Colosseum as a true colossus - a giant statue of the Emperor Nero, the Colossus of Nero, was located here after he was deposed it was changed to represent the Sun God and become the Colossus solis - so People on their way to see the statue were off to see the Colossus, and the name then got applied to the Flavian Amphitheater itself. It was built by Vespasian and completed under his son Titus.

With a capacity of 80,000 spectators the amphitheater is truly a colossus.

The multiple levels are neat to see:


Roman numerals identify the various entryways into seating areas, much as stadium entries are marked today.

A papal sign marks the Colosseum:

By the time we reached the Colosseum however, one of the ladies in our tour group had had enough of the sun and almost collapsed. We helped find her a place to sit in the shade and brought her water to drink and she recovered after a bit.

We then admired the Arch of Constantine: 

Built to commemorate Constantine's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge, the inscription on top of the arch can still be easily read 1707 years after it was dedicated.

Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity, which made for a logical transition on our way to our next stop.