Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Damn Stupid Porch Pirates

Well had my first porch pirate experience yesterday.

Had a delivery form Amazon, which included a nice picture of a small Amazon box and an Amazon box nicely located on my front landing.

Got home, the box was gone and the envelope was still there, along with some fresh footprints in the snow leading to the front landing that showed where the bugger came from and the direction he left in.

Interestingly, the jerk grabbed the box only, and they grabbed the wrong item.

The box had a 4-pack of lithium AAA batteries that I needed but has a value of about $12.

The envelope had some supplies in it that was worth more than that.

I'm rather curious as to why the scumbag decided to just take the box and leave the envelope behind. I expect the lithium battery warning label on the box probabl;y made them think they were getting something valuable.

First porch pirate experience, cannot recommend.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Good Reading Around The Webs

MosiacEcstasy and Amnesia in the Gaza Strip 

The article gives quite a good explanation as to the Arab mindset and how we got to the present conflict.  It's not just that, as Abba Eban said,  "The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity", it's more and more clear that they don't want the opportunity in the first place. Unfortunately, they keep getting bailed out of their continuing string of bad choices, leading to the conflict continuing ad infinitum.

Daniel Greenfield: How Hamas Became an Environmentalist and Gun Control Cause.  If you're not regularly reading Daniel Greenfield, you should be. 

In this article he explores how the strange leftist bedfellows came to be through intersectionality.  The weird case of LGBTers standing up for Hamas - the same Hamas that  gives LGBTers flying lessons off rooftops as standard practice.  Also the case of environmentalists for Hamas, (one would think Hamas' rockets harm the environment and lead to global warming and all that). That gun controllers are demonstrating for Hamas is also rather impressive - Hamas' attack shows the horrible outcome of gun control where defenseless people get massacred by armed monsters, but gun controllers never really act from logic anyways.

Hot Air: Hamas Keeps Violating Ceasefire Agreement

Totally unexpectedly, of course.

CDR. Salamander:American Naval Forces (with a Japanese assist) Capture Pirates

If you're not regularly reading CDR. Salamander, you really should as you're missing out on some masterful analysis of world naval affairs. 

Here we have Yemeni pirates hijacking ships that have connections to Israel, and the US Navy once again taking on anti-piracy operations in the region.  We also have the Houthis launching ballistic missiles at a US Destroyer - no forcible response from the Biden administration to this attack so far, which seems to be par for the course.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Well That's An Oopsie In Order Processing!

I recently ordered a Sealife Underwater Case for my iPhone. 

Given the camera on the iPhone is rather good, between it and a Go Pro I should be rather set when diving.  Bringing along a DSLR for underwater work is both bulky for travel, and the underwater case for the DSLR is extremely spendy (which makes reasonable sense as it is to protect a spendy DSLR).

The Sealife underwater case is rated to a depth of 130 feet and has two different leakage alarms which is rather reassuring.

So I received the case from (which is also known as Leisure Pro and they are both owned by Adorama).  It came in a box sealed with Adorama markings.

Unfortunately, opening the outer box revealed a bit of a problem.

The box for the Sealife case had clearly already been opened.

Indeed, I had been shipped a used case. 

So I called up to report the issue, and noted I had paid for a new case and definitely didn't want a case that had been returned, as I didn't know if it had been returned as defective or not, and I had after all, ordered and paid for a new case.

They asked me how exactly did I know it was used.

Well, I noted that the fact that the product box and the case inside the  porudct box inside the shipping box was open was a clue.  

A blonde human hair visible on the outside of the inner case inside the product box was a further clue.

Further clues included all the contents inside the case being rather jumbled up, and the fact that the case itself had scratches on the windows, which is not great for photography.

But, the most telling clue that it had been used was the fact that it had a really cool sticker placed upon the case - with the prior owner's name on it:

The customer service rep then agreed with me that yes,  that would certainly  make it a used item.

They immediately shipped me a new one, expedited (as I have a need for it sooner rather than later), at no cost to me for shipping, and sent me a return label for the used case.  

The only downside is I had to pay for the new case in addition to the original order and I will get a refund issued when they get back the used case. 

The customer service rep apologized for the mix up and believed what happened was the picker had inadvertently picked it off the used pile when shipping. Mistakes do happen, but they took immediate steps to fix it, and all should end well and that was good customer service.

I should get the new case soon.

It is however definitely a cautionary tale to immediately check goods bought online to make sure you're actually getting a new item when you buy new.

Abby's Chicago Trip - The Long Wait To Charge Home

Their trip was good and she was much surprised and they had a very nice time.

The return trip however was not quite so delightful.

You see her boyfriend drove her there in a nice new Mustang Mach-E GT.

E is for electric.  Now it is a very nice car, very well appointed with all the bells and whistles, and apparently is both zippy and comfortable.

While electric cars are great for in-town travel, a 241+ mile trip turned into quite the ask of the vehicle. 

It led to a game of find a car charger, wait for charger to be available, wait to charge car, rinse, repeat.

Took them well over 12 hours to get back to their respective places in Ann Arbor for a trip that would take under 3 hours and 45 minutes by gas-powered car, or four and a half hours by train.  Their way there took quite a while as well, but the way back was apparently a lot longer due to both a lack of chargers, and a lack of available chargers not being used by others on their trip home.

So for in-city travel, electric cars seem to be doing very well.  For longer trips, anecdotally, not so much.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Thanksgiving And More To Be Thankful For The Next Day

So, Thanksgiving was very nice.

The next day the family gathered for Abby's 20th Birthday. Also attending is someone who may very well become part of the family, Abby's boyfriend.  

They've been together for a few years now and he seems to be quite a good lad with a good head on his shoulders so we will see what the future holds. He's in pre-med at UofM.  He also has his EMT certification, and among other things, works part time for an ambulance company in addition to the crazy amount of studying a pre-med needs to do. They compliment each other nicely and make a nice couple

Her Birthday, as all family birthdays do, began with cherry cheesecake.


This was excellent.

In addition to the cheesecake, Leah decided to make Abby another cake to commemorate her older sister turning 20, completely decorated with her own lively sense of humor:

Yep, it says: "Congrats U Beat Teen Pregnancy". 

It came complete with babies made out of fondant.

That kid has got quite the sense of humor, Abby and boyfriend were suitably embarrassed, and  I daresay both parents were relieved that the message was true.

She then got most of her presents and had a nice time.

Her last present came a bit later in the afternoon.  Her boyfriend took her on a surprise trip to Chicago for this weekend, and as they drove to Ann Arbor they kept on driving west.  Leah helped by secretly packing a bag of her clothes and things and hiding it in the boyfriend's car. She'll be back in Ann Arbor tomorrow afternoon and back hitting the books Monday.  

The kid is certainly growing up fast and has turned out just fine as a young adult. Heck, she's turned out rather awesome. Smart as a whip and a good head on her shoulders. Be fun to watch her continuing to grow.

So it was a great day yesterday and I'm thankful for that as well.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!

The All-American Holiday of giving thanks, being grateful for what you have, and spending time with family is now here.

The turkey is just about ready to come out of the oven, and I've made some excellent homemade cranberry sauce to accompany it.

May you and yours enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving time.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Range Trip - SIGs, Bullpups, And More

Went to the range this morning with Tosh.

We started off doing some handgun practice.  

Tosh wanted to work on splits so we setup a silhouette target at the center of the Bay and another on the far right side and worked on transitions between them. Good practice and we hadn't done much on transitions before and it showed.  Need more practice with that,. My heavy sweatshirt got in the way a few times as well to slow me down, so it was good to practice with different clothing on.

Then we moved on to Bill Drills, and my lack of range attendance the past couple months showed there.  While I fired three sets all clean, none were below 3 seconds. Shooting is a perishable skill and ,my Bill Drill progress sure perished.  Need to get to the range more.

After handguns, I broke out the PS90 and we each shot a full magazine of 50 rounds through it. Quite simply shooting the PS90 is a ton of fun.  No recoil to speak of, multiple shots right on target as fast as you can squeeze the trigger as the firearm simply doesn't move, and its' a nice compact package.  It's a fun gun that never ceases to put a smile on the face of whoever shoots it.

We then moved on to rifles, and I shot my Tavor  X95 and Tosh his shorty AR. he was getting a ton of gas blow-back from his Griffin Armaments suppressor. So much so that the charging handle occasionally flew back all by itself while shooting.  It's a great suppressor that works amazing, and a great value for the price, but you do pay for that sound reduction in gas right to the face.

We then decided to work on rifle reloads because that's not a thing we typically do, as in just about ever. Reloads were out of our back jeans pockets as we hadn't brought rifle magazine holders out.

Basic setup was a full magazine in the back pocket, a round in the chamber and an empty magazine in the gun. On the beep, safety off, come up and shoot the silhouette and then immediately drop the mag and reload and fire a second shot at the target. Then safety on, pickup the empty mag from the ground and reload it into position and full mag back into the back pocket and repeat. Both shots had to hit to count.

We did this on the timer and the lack of practice showed. Managed after a bit of initial fumbling to get the time from first shot to second shot hitting after the reload down to 4ish seconds but with practice I think I can get it faster.  Great practice and the Tavor does handle differently from an AR for reloading. But, once you have the process down, you can do it at a decent clip.

Then, we moved on to shotguns and did transition shooting with them.  I brought out my third bullpup of the shoot, the Tavor TS-12. Tosh brought his Mossberg 590A1.  With 16 rounds loaded on the Tavor it was fun to just keep right on shooting and hitting the targets long after he ran out of his 9 shot and was having to reload.  Much fun was had and I tried out his 590A1, as he got to use the TS-12, and it was a lot of fun and rather smooth - he's upgraded the safety and the magazine follower and it works quite well, and the pump action is rather smooth after all the rounds he's run through it. He's considering SBS'ing it and if he does I'll help him with his doing a Form 1 for the first time.

It was a heckuva good time at the range on a beautiful clear if cool morning.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

$10 Billion Is Going To Buy A Lot Of Drones

And Rockets, and missiles, and terrorist paraphernalia.

Daily Mail: USS Thomas Hudner shoots down drone launched from Yemen over the Red Sea in act of self-defense

USS Thomas Hudner shot down a drone sent by the Houthis, a terrorist force backed by Iran, after it approached the destroyer:

The official confirmed that the drone originated in Yemen and was heading toward the ship, which was operating in international waters. It's unclear whether the drone was armed or how close it came to the ship before being shot down.

The incident follows a wave of drone and missile attacks against US forces in Iraq and Syria, launched by Iran's proxy militias in retaliation for America's support of Israel in its war against Hamas.

In Yemen, Iran backs and supplies the Houthis, a Shiite faction that has been at war against a Saudi-led Sunni coalition in the country since 2015.

Iran has been busy with its proxies attacking and sending missiles and drones at American soldiers and sailors. Nor is this the first occasion it has done so.

So, what does Biden and the Arabist Pro-Iranian US State Department do in response to these attacks?

Legal Insurrection: Biden Administration Renews Sanctions Waiver, Opening $10 Billion to Iran from Iraq

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision-making process, said Blinken signed the waiver mainly because the administration doesn’t want to cut Iraq off from a critical source of energy.

But, they said the administration is confident Iran will not be able to use any of the money for nefarious purposes. They said a rigorous vetting process is in place to ensure that the cash can only be used for food, medicine, medical equipment and agricultural goods.

Yes and if you can keep a straight face after reading and believe that last paragraph, the check is in the mail, and there's just a darling bridge for sale in Brooklyn just waiting for you.

Note that this is on top of the $6 Billion paid to Iran for 5 US-Iranian hostages. 

You really can't make this up.

Compare And Contrast

Pro-Israel Rally in DC with over 290,000 participants.  Note that there was no unruly behavior, no property damage, no arrests and apparently no litter left behind.

JTA:  290,000 people show up for historic pro-Israel rally in DC, organizers say


The Detroit news: 2 Michigan lawmakers trapped as police clash with pro-Palestinian protesters in D.C.

Fox News: White House silent, Secret Service makes no arrests after pro-Palestinian protesters vandalize gate

Funny how the progressive, leftist, pro-Hamas side somehow always manage to go for threats, violence, and destruction, isn't it? 

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Diving In For Something A Little Different

This last weekend, as Delta had held a seat sale that I had jumped on, I flew to Ft. Myers, Florida and then drove an hour up to Venice and arrived after midnight Saturday.

Sunday, the next morning I was up bright and early and headed to the dock to get on a boat at 7 am run by Venice Dive Center. It was Shark-Tooth diving time. They've got a nice roomy boat and they offer a 2 dives per day trip. The only downside with them is you have to bring your own weights so I lugged 10lbs of lead through the airport which is kinda dumb.

We headed out to the fossil grounds and soon I was doing a giant stride entry off the stern of the boat and into chilly 71 degree water with 6 feet of visibility or less.

Monday, I got up and went to the meeting spot for Aquanutz Dive Charters.  They offer a 3 dives per trip and provide weights,  They sadly had no openings on Sunday. Aquanutz has a smaller six-pack boat so you don't do a giant stride off the stern, you do a back roll off the side of the boat into the water.

Do you know why divers do a back roll off a boat?  Because if they did a front roll, they would land in the boat and bang their heads.

So I did 5 dives in 2 days.  The water temp was 71 degrees F, so it did get a tad chilly. Bottom time was anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour per dive for me.

Sunday, the water was pretty choppy but not a big deal except it made getting back in the boat a fair bit of work.  Visibility was about 6 feet and mucky.  Dives were to 30 feet or so.    Monday it was less choppy but visibility was still low and there was still a fair bit of current.

I sadly didn't find any Megalodon teeth, but did find a fossilized Lemon Shark tooth and a lot of fossilized bones - Dugong (ancient manatees) and fossilized turtle shell. Still neat and fun diving. A few fish but mainly mud and current was moving pretty good.

I also inadvertently almost petted a stingray as I was searching for fossils.  He was hidden on the bottom in the muck and as I went near him he jumped up, I jumped in response.  We both agreed that we startled each other and would mutually go on our separate ways without any further ruckus.

After the dives following a recommendation, I headed to Nokomo's Sunset Hut for a great lunch.  A blackberry Jack Daniels tiki drink and a Grouper sandwich really hit the spot.

Great restaurant, great service, and one heckuva nice view.

Monday I again got up early and  headed out with Aquanutz.  It was a fun boat with quite a few neat people on board. They also had some spare neoprene hooded vests to go around, and I put one on top of my wetsuit and was much more comfy for the dives.

Visibility was again about 6 feet or less, but less choppy. 

Quite a few more fish to see at these dive spots, including on the last dive a huge Grouper (bigger than your head in size) hanging out by the anchor line.

Sadly while all the experienced divers found some great Meg teeth, the two newbies on board, myself and another fellow, both didn't find any. We were, as the captain said, Megless in Seattle. Apparently it is hard for newbies to find them, but once you've found one your brain knows what to look for and you then find more a lot more easily.

On the upside on these dives, I found a Bullshark tooth, whale ear bones (they're rather neat), more dugong bones and a big whale bone.

I also came across some large fossilized sand dollars. These are each slightly larger than the size of a teacup saucer.  Kinda neat.  Also neat they survived the trip back to Michigan. The regular smaller sand dollars tend to disintegrate as you ascend from depth as they are a lot more fragile.

So sadly, no Meg teeth for me. Other folks on the Aquanutz charter did find some real beauties including one that was 4.5 inches in size, meaning the Meg it belonged to was around 45-feet long!

I then headed back to the hotel, washed the gear and hung it to dry and did some work until late, then ate at the hotel restaurant.

Tuesday, I again worked at the hotel until it was checkout time, checked out of the hotel, drove back to the airport and dropped off the rental car and then worked at the airport until it was time to leave.

TSA at Ft. Myers Airport was both the nicest and most helpful bunch of TSA people I've ever seen.   My artificial hip, as I set off the metal detector with it, now gets me fun with the x-ray machine for screening every time now.  They were cool about it, and actually listened when I told them that would happen and so they routed me right to the scanner rather than wasting everyone's time by first beeping at the metal detector. They were fine with the bones and sand dollars in my carry-on but did search the bag to check out the dive computer and regulators.

Then I got home around 11:30 pm to 43 degree weather after enjoying the 80s for the past few days, and had court Wednesday morning nice and early.

In short, it was a great experience and I need to keep looking for Delta seat sales to do that again in the future.  Delta was perfectly on time and offered nice fights with great service on board. I will find some Meg teeth eventually and the fun of those dives and the thrill of the hunt is still there, even if I didn't find any.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Very Situational Protesting

A picture is worth 1,000 words they say, and this one speaks volumes:

Funny, isn't it, that the Left and the Arabs don't seem to care one bit when Muslims and Arabs are killed by their fellow Muslims and Arabs.  

Nor, may I add did they protest in the slightest when Hamas broke the ceasefire and killed 1,400 Israelis. In  fact social media was awash with Muslims saying Happy October and the Left generally defended it, said nothing, or issued mealy-mouthed platitudes, or called for Israel to restrain itself.

But have a conflict where Jews respond to an Arabs/Muslim attack and then they suddenly can't wait to protest, attack the White House and monuments etc.

There's no wonder why that is, now is there?

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Tlaib's Support For Genocide Even Gets Nessel To Notice

Rashida Tlaib, as is her wont, lies, and lies a lot when it comes to Israel.

She recently ran an twitter video that includes Michigan Arab protestors chanting "From the River to the Sea".

So, what's between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea?  Israel. 

From The River to the Sea (in Arabic from the water to the Water) has always been a call for the destruction of Israel. It was a slogan begin by the PLO and then picked up by Hamas.

Tlaib, being caught out echoing calls for genocide then quickly lied:

The Detroit News: Tlaib's defense of Palestinian chant prompts Nessel to call for retraction]

On Friday, Tlaib posted a video on the social platform X in which she said President Joe Biden's support of Israel would cost him reelection in 2024, accused him in a lettered overlay of supporting "the genocide of the Palestinian people" and showed protesters in Michigan yelling the slogan "from the river to the sea!" The Detroit Democrat called for Biden to support an immediate cease-fire.

The lone Palestinian-American in Congress linked that tweet to another one that explained what she said she meant by "from the river to the sea" — which refers to from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, or the land between the bodies of water that includes Israel.

"From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate," she tweeted Friday. "My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity."

This is so absolutely false that even her fellow Michigan progressive Democrat Attorney General Dana Nessel called her on her BS. 

Note that her comic buddy and confidante Amer Zahr wears a sweatshirt that has all of Israel replaced with a Arab Keffiyah, and remember that he wiped Israel off the map in Tlaib's office on her first day in Congress.

Tlaib knows exactly what "From the river to the sea" means. Indeed we'll note she retweeted a "From the river to the sea" call back in November 2020, before broadcasting her own a couple days ago - she later deleted it when called out on it.

She's and other fellow-travelers are hoping she can cover a call for genocide that she supports by dissimulation and hoping you don't know what it actually means.

Friday, November 03, 2023

A Ceasefire or "Pause" Only Benefits Hamas

It's the very typical scenario:  Hamas, or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or Hizb'Allah or Fatah attacks Israel.  Israel then responds and the attacking Arab party then cries for a ceasefire, uses the ceasefire to rearm and reequip and dig  then does another attack and it repeats.

One should note that the October 7 attack occurred after a prior ceasefire with Hamas.  That ceasefire was not the first, there had been numerous ceasefires all previously broken by Hamas whenever it felt it could get away with it. Once Hamas starts to lose it asks for another ceasefire until its ready for the next round.

We will note the current request for a ceasefire from Hamas and its fellow-travelers worldwide sounds different depending on whether its asked for in English or Arabic.

In English it claims to want a ceasefire for humanitarian grounds.

In Arabic, they proclaim what we know to be true  - that they intend to use the ceasefire to rearm, rebuild, and repeat the atrocities of October 7.

Quite simply the answer should be No to any pause or Ceasefire.  

Israel has it right in refusing to continue this same sordid dance of a ceasefire to save Hamas every time they start losing.

Hamas may end the current hostilities by surrendering anytime it wants to do so. 

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Toronto Via Rail

So this weekend I had headed over to Toronto to visit the folks.

I had planned to fly on Saturday and had booked the plane and was even going to take the Piper Dakota as it has an awesome GFC 500 autopilot in it to make IFR flying easier.  The autopilot in the Archer is currently inoperative and awaits being changed out for a GFC 500 and that should have been done in October but the avionics shop is ridiculously backed up right now..

But flying was not to be.  Direct perpendicular crosswinds of 20-28 knots, gusting in a plane with a demonstrated crosswind limit of 17 knots, was not my idea of a good time and past my personal limits for crosswinds.  Couple that with a first time international flight to an island airport and IFR conditions, and discretion was the better part of valor.

So I crossed the border by car, and at Windsor took the train to Toronto.

Overall, it was a pleasant trip, even being late by practically an hour.  Via Rail's on time percentage is around 53% and I sure lost that coin toss (it was even worse on the return trip being late to get home by over an hour).

Upside, the train had wifi, and it was a comfortable way to travel and I got work done while doing so. I arrived at 7pm.

The train station has a nice view of the CN Tower.

Met up with the folks and had a pleasant time even as my Dad tends toward the MSNBC school of politics.  I've finally learned to just smile and wave at some stuff instead of getting into arguments that benefit no one.

We caught up, and did some family stuff, and I assisted with their computer technical questions.

We also got some exercise in, and had a long walk around the huge Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.

The cemetery is huge, well kept, and designed for people to stroll through or bike through. There are signs up that it is a cemetery and not a race track and that while bicyclists are welcome,  racing or race training is prohibited in the cemetery.

There's some very impressive tombstones and monuments within it.

Toronto's Chinese community has quite a number of impressive tombs and monuments, and the majority were red colored markers:

 There's also a monument to those who lost their lives in the SS Noronic disaster of 1949 that took place in Toronto Harbor:

Nearby, there's the tombstone of Dr. Frederick Banting, the famous co-inventor of insulin:


It's an appropriately large funerary monument considering the millions of lives he saved.

After walking there for hours, appreciating the chill weather and fall colors as well as interesting tombstone inscriptions, we headed back.

I visited with some other friends and did work remotely and then took the train home.

Got home at midnight as the train was over an hour late but crossed the border with no issues and made good time driving home.

Not a bad short weekend trip to see the family. Hopefully some good flying weather will occur and I can get there a lot faster and in better style next time.

A Prog On The Detroit City Council Wants To Weigh In On International Affairs

But not all international affairs, mind you, only one in particular. A vile Progs on the Detroit City Council have decided to play to her base and weigh in way above her pay grade:

The Detroit Free Press: Detroit City Council to consider resolution calling for cease-fire in Gaza

Council member Gabriela Santiago-Romero is requesting that the council’s legislative policy division draft a resolution calling for releasing hostages, humanitarian aid and requesting the federal government push for reconciliation between Israel and Palestinians since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack. Santiago-Romero attempted to walk on a resolution last week but could not get enough support from her colleagues, who asked her to draft a "more neutral" statement, she said.

How very interesting.

There is no known record nor mention of Gabriela Santiago-Romero requesting a resolution for a ceasefire in Russia/Ukraine, nor in Yemen, nor in Syria, nor in Sudan, nor anywhere else in the world where a conflict is occurring for that matter.

I will also note she showed absolutely no interest in crafting a resolution condemning the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas that kicked this off.

Funny, how that happens.

Or really not funny at all:

Santiago-Romero, at a Saturday rally at Hart Plaza, stood in solidarity with protesters calling for an end to the airstrikes on Gaza, noting too many politicians are silent on the issue.

Yep, she's just on Hamas' side and trying to get in front of a crowd as the good vile prog that she is.