Wednesday, January 31, 2024

I Used To Be An Adventurer Like You.

Then I took a knee in the face.

Which happened tonight at jitsu.

We were doing side mount sparring and wall drills.

A wall drill is a fiendishly clever workout.

As you might expect, there's a wall involved.

2 practitioners are on the mats, in this case lying down, the remaining practitioners are lined up. on, you guessed it, the wall.

How it works: 2 people on the wall take top of side mount on the 2 on the mats.  If the one on the bottom of side mount escapes they get to remain on the mat and the person on top heads back to the wall, and another person immediately comes off the wall to try and get them.  If the one on top gets a submission,  they take the place of the person lying down on the mat and the next person comes  off the wall tries to submit them. As soon as someone escapes or submits, someone comes off the wall to replace the person leaving. You keep going round and around until time is called.

It's fun, fast-paced, and it's a ridiculous amount of energy spent defending and attacking. It's a great way to hone techniques against a lot of resistance and different opponents as everyone wants to stay out on the mat and off the wall as long as possible.

I managed my personal best tonight - I submitted the opponent on a time when I came off the wall, and then fended off and escaped two other practitioners who were the trying to submit me.

That was happy-making.

Then I took a knee in the face.  

Not intentional, but in the scramble my opponent had his knee connect to my face and I managed to get a nice bloody lip and saw a few stars to boot. Ouch. 

I held on for a bit being nice and effectively defending, but noticed I was bleeding, which is a stopper in the action.  Got up, cleaned up and stopped the bleeding and got back at it after. Since then, I've had some ice on it and some lip balm, and we'll see how bad it looks tomorrow. No pain, no gain I guess.

Even with the bloody lip, it was still a good night and my techniques were on point, and it was nice to be the windshield rather than the fly for once.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Michigan Republican's State Party Clown Show

Ever since losing the last state-level election, which very much was the Republicans to lose - and lose they did, the Michigan Republican Party has been busy running a three-ring circus.

First, they elected Kristina Karamo as the Republican State Party Chair.  The same Karamo that lost her race for Secretary of State, badly.

The same Karamo that made allegations without evidence just before that election regarding Detroit's mail-in ballots and filed a lawsuit against Detroit right before the election which was guaranteed to piss off and fire-up Detroit Democrat voter turn-out - and it did - to her and everyone else's detriment.

She then went on to unsuccessfully sue Comerica Bank and a Trust that owns the Michigan Republican Party Building.

Finally, it looks like the adults will be back in charge with Pete Hoekstra being elected as the new leader in a party meeting - but Karamo is claiming that vote was not legitimate and she's still the party leader. In short: Clown Show.

The Detroit Free Press: Trump weighs in on Michigan GOP chair fracas, backs Hoekstra

Verily Jane’s Law strikes yet again especially if you change it to include party chairs and functionaries: “The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.”

The state Republican party needs to get its act together, and start acting like the adults in the room, pronto.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Meeting Michael Z

Michael Z. Williamson was in town this weekend, and he's an author whose works I enjoy reading quite a lot, as well as his many posts on Facebook and his blog.

I got a chance to meet him Saturday in the afternoon in person.  

Met him at one of his friend's places up in Auburn Hills. The friend, Nathan, graciously allowed a stranger to visit, and welcomed me in to his place, as did his cats.

Another friend of Mike's also showed up and much fun conversing took place on a very wide range of topics. The two friends (host and visitor) were authors as well.

The discussion ranged from everything from the VA, red dots on pistols, to tectonic plates, conventions,  fandom, post-apocalyptic survival, and yes, rocket science.  Those three were a very smart group indeed.

Mad Mike is at least as much fun in person as he is online, if not more so.

He's very convivial, congenial, and has a bunch of great stories to tell.  In short, he's a great guy.

My first time meeting him in person and it was great to do so. We all went out to a pub for dinner and then headed back to the friends place to chat a bit more before everyone headed out.  It was very kind of Mike and friends to include me and it is appreciated as it was a great time with very good people.

The ICJ Decision

 In short, the ruling is preliminary, and no, it does not say Israel is committing genocide, only that the court may have jurisdiction to investigate if that is happening and, that. shocker, Israel shouldn't commit genocide.

You can read the decision for yourself here.

In short the decision basically refused to dismiss South Africa's  case and holds the court may have jurisdiction to examine the accusations and South Africa may have standing to bring its claim (see page 12  and page 24).

The cool question will be, if South Africa continues it's plan to withdraw from the ICC and ICJ, and it keeps refusing to enforce ICC and ICJ orders, would it still have standing? Be sure to pass the popcorn if that happens before this case is resolved.

The decision does not say Israel was committing genocide in Gaza.

It did say Israel should take steps to prevent a genocide in Gaza. Since Israel isn't committing a genocide, that's rather easy for Israel to do.

It did say Hamas was to immediately release the hostages it holds unconditionally (p.24).

I suggest you do not hold your breath waiting for Hamas to comply.

It did, ridiculously say that:  "The State of Israel shall take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip"

This of course goes against the whole point of siege warfare, and also improperly requires Israel to do something its not required under actual  international and military law to do. 

At least they didn't order that Israel has to keep providing jobs for Gazans, so we can be thankful for that.  For now, anyways. 

We can also note that Egypt and not Israel controls one of the borders with Gaza.

In no other conflict has an adversary been ordered to enable or provide such to its adversary - especially as the fact is that Hamas uses these supplies to provide for its fighters.  If anything it is Hamas responsibility to provide such and they've gone out of their way to not provide  such services so they can complain to the world about it.

Other than that,  it basically said some Israelis have used bad language such as calling Hamasniks animals, which is dehumanizing per the court and Israeli officials shouldn't say such hurtful things about an organization and its members that beheaded babies, raped women and massacred civilians.(p.17-18). Quelle Horreur.

Oh, and the court ordered that Israel is to provide a report in a month on how it is following the court's order.

In short, the order is not even all sound and fury signifying nothing.  It is far less than that, but is yet another troubling example of lawfare.

Again, the fact remains that the population of Palestinians in Gaza has continued to increase  massively over the years since 1967 when it was taken over from Egypt. Even since 2005 when Israel completely pulled out of Gaza the population there has continued to grow. So, if Israel is committing genocide as claimed, they're not just doing an extremely crappy job at it, as they're apparently causing conditions that lead to the exact opposite of genocide.

The Court should have dismissed the claim outright, but instead the case will continue to wind its way through the process.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Saturday (Finally I Get A) Fly Day

Finally there was a break in the weather that has been giving us fog on really low clouds for quite some time now. In short its been either ridiculous winds, or Low IFR for weeks.

Forecast for today was for more of the same LIFR, but today it broke and was pretty much clear up to 2,500 feet.

So I headed to the airport and got some practice in.

Just stayed in the pattern as there was a solid layer at 2,500 and I needed to get my VFR daytime currency back.  A light wind from about 050 meant we would be using the 9 side of the runway and I was using 9L. Typically its the 27 side but today the winds wanted us to use the 9s.

The plane loved the cold air.  The performance was amazing in terms of climb and I had to use less throttle than typical in the pattern.

 After takeoff I was hitting the 1,500 foot altitude for the turn to the crosswind leg of the pattern incredibly early compared to where you would reach 1,500 in the heat of summer.

I started out with some full stop landings.

First one, I was a little low going from base to final, seeing 4 red lights on the PAPI, so I added power and climbed back up to 2 white and two red which is the proper glidepath. Put it down right on the numbers and went to do it again. 

Incidentally, 1,400 feet is the sweet spot to end up on final to get two white and two red when you level out from your base turn at Pontiac. 

After the first landing, I was the only plane in the pattern, which is unusual for Pontiac.  Likely the forecast kept people home.  Made for some very efficient pattern work.

I then did two more full stops and switched to touch-and-goes for three more landings. Dodged a flock of geese on one of them.

Then for #7 I declared it good and did a full stop landing.

All the landings were nice and smooth and after the first couple patterns I was pretty dialed in. Not bad after horribly not flying for over 90 days.

That's .9, and 7 really quite good landings for my first flight of 2024.

Friday, January 26, 2024

The ICJ Decision - First, About South Africa

Before we even go into the inane decision, which in many ways didn't amount to much but is the camel's nose under the tent so to speak. We should first note that thus case was brought by South Africa.

The same South Africa that after the ICC issued an arrest warrant on Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine, invited Putin to South Africa for the BRICS conference, and had in 2015 failed to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir under an ICC warrant in June 2015 when he was in South Africa. 

Indeed South Africa under the ANC is busy working on withdrawing from the ICC even now over the Putin warrant. In short, South Africa only cares about the ICC when it can be used as a tool for supporting their allies and their own terrorist-supporting ends.

South Africa under the ANC also seems to be busily practicing genocide against whites in South Africa at his very moment.

In short South Africa probably wasn't the best country to bring such a ridiculous charge given its own issues, its own disdain for the court, and its constant failure to adhere to the court's orders, but commies and terrorists gotta commie and be terrorists, so what can you do?

So, on to the decision in the next post.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Ann Arbor Public Schools Beclowns Itself

Ann Arbor Public Schools sticking it's nose in a rather partisan fashion into international relations of which it has no mandate, authority, or power to do so.

In an anti-Israel way of course, unsurprisingly the board president just happens to be a Muslim Arab and the rest of the progressives on the school board approved the partisan resolution.

The Detroit News: Ann Arbor school district OKs measure calling for cease-fire in Gaza and Israel

Schoolboards are rarely called upon, nor equipped, nor desired nor even smart enough to engage in international relations.   But, that didn't stop the Ann Arbor School Board.

Do note that they amended their resolution only after they had proposed it to at least add a statement about releasing the Israeli hostages so as not to appear completely partisan. Apparently the cause of the conflict - the mass murder and taking of Israelis as hostages was but an afterthought, and a sop to pretend neutrality after they got called out on it.

Most curiously, for a board trying to have international heft and show how caring they are about advocating resolving conflicts to their students,  the Ann Arbor Public School systems has yet to pass any resolutions at all calling for a ceasefire:

a.  Between Russia and Ukraine;

b.  In the Sudan civil war;

c.  In the Myanmar civil war;

d.  In the Syrian civil War;

e.  In the various Islamic-led insurgencies throughout Africa;

f. Nor in any other of the many ongoing conflicts around the world, even where Muslims are the bulk of the victims (or indeed the perpetrators).

Funny that.  I daresay we all know exactly why that is, now don't we?

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Media, Aircraft, And False Connections

The latest example of media misdirection, sensationalism, and  lousy reporting is the media's presentation today of an event involving a Boeing 757.

The Detroit News: Boeing 757 lost nose wheel preparing for takeoff during a very rough stretch for the plane maker

A Boeing 757 jet operated by Delta Air Lines lost a nose wheel while preparing for takeoff from Atlanta.

It was an older model of plane than those made by Boeing that have raised safety concerns about Boeing, yet it occurred with an intense spotlight on one of the nation's top manufacturers.

 Let's note the Boeing 757 last rolled off the Boeing production line in October 2004.

What this Boeing 757 incident, where it lost one of two nose wheels,  has to do with the Boeing 737 Max 9 assembly quality issues currently and appropriately in the news is exactly zilch, zero, nada, nothing.

As reported in the story, much farther down from the headline and the early paragraphs idiotic attempt at connecting the issues is that the plane in question in this incident is 32 years old

No cause for the nosewheel coming off is reported yet, but it's highly, highly unlikely to be a Boeing assembly issue from 32 years ago - that nose-wheel has likely been replaced multiple times since then, and not by Boeing.

It simply has nothing to do with Boeing's current assembly quality issues that led to the door plug blowout.   The 757 is quite simply one of the most successful and safe aircraft ever produced. Indeed while there have been fatal crashes involving 757s, none of the fatal crashes were due to a fault in the aircraft itself but were either pilot error,  controller error, or weather related hull loss or terrorism.

To say or indeed suggest that a wheel coming off a 32-year-old aircraft reflects on the manufacturers current assembly quality problems is ridiculous.

Well That Just Sucks

Having a rough time based on an life event that occurred last Thursday, and it is hitting me rather hard.

Not sure how much I want to discuss it at this point, but it's hitting me like a ton of bricks and worse than I had anticipated.  Didn't want this particular event to happen, but nothing to be done it happened and that's the reality.

Well, falling down seven times but getting up eight times is a secret to success, so they say.  

After all, that kind of persistence leads to success for everything except a DUI roadside stop, so time to work on picking myself up and carrying on in the new reality.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Someone's First Discover Scuba Diving Adventure

The day after the Cenote experience, was time for another diving experience,

Leah was going to try Scuba diving for the first time.  Abby was not feeling 100% and didn't want to go so it would just be me and Who #2 for the dive.

Prodive offered some excellent professional instruction, and their DSD program was much better and more thorough than the one I had back in 2006.

They even gave her a booklet to read and a quiz to do prior to the day.

At 11 am, I took both kids to check Leah into Prodive.  They got her suited up and all her gear ready.

I had a court hearing at 1:00 so I had to run back to the room and do it by Zoom as they were doing the classroom instruction.  Abby got to sit in on the class portion and there were two other divers, a father and son going for their DSD as well.

They then headed to the pool to practice before heading out to the ocean.

The hearing went well and I ran back to Prodive with my gear and got things ready.  I was coming along to dive it as well, and the instructor figured since this would be dive #280 for me he wouldn't have to worry about me all that much.

The Discover Scuba Diving by Prodive instructor, Andy, did an excellent dive brief and was excellent. We then went down to the beach and got on a boat and headed out to the reef. The boat has two other groups of divers as well. A short 15-minute boat ride and we were there.

Leah got to do a backroll off a boat for the first time. 

Basic instruction was roll in with hand on mask and reg in mouth, and then after surfacing go grab the down-line and wait for the instructor and other two DSD divers.

We then descended on the downline to visit the reef.

The instructor then had all three of them move together with him, typically holding hands as a group to stick together.

Certainly a high workload for that instructor, but he did a fantastic job keeping them together.

I would swim around them taking pictures and having fun.

Good amount of surge on the reef, you could not kick and just let the current push you back and forth.


Lots of cool fish to see.

We saw a stingray:

 A flounder:

A puffer fish:

Quite a few pipefish:

Leah had a great time.

With the current down there, we were not heading back to the boat.

Instead, the instructor launched a surface marker buoy. We then surfaced,  and the boat came to us to pick us up, and we climbed up the ladder to get back on board.

We then took the boat back to the beach and hopped out of the boat into the surf. 

Leah had a great time for her first dive experience, and is seriously thinking of getting certified as a diver.

Cenote Dives

I got up early on December 27 and the kids slept in.  I grabbed my dive gear and  walked over to  Pro Dive, located at a resort right beside ours on the beach and  after checking in I then got in a van to Chikin Ha.

No Chicken at Chikin Ha, but there was a cenote.

Time to dive a Cenote for the first time. This would be a guided cavern dive.   A cavern dive means you're in an overhead environment but still within range of seeing the natural light from the entrance in essentially a straight-ish path from the entrance. There were three other divers and the guide for a total of five in the group.

The plan was for the first dive to take the line on the left (starting form the bottom left of the diagram of the diagram to the rainbow cenote, surface in the rainbow centore and come back along the line.  Dive 2 took line 2, the one on the bottom to the right for a longer dive.

This was done on single tanks.  One wrinkle emerged as one of the divers had a full-face mask.  If he had an out-of-air problem, the only one who could donate air to him was his spouse who had a special hose for that purpose.  This presents some problems in terms of redundancy . Worst comes to worst you can always rip the full face mask off, shove a normal regulator in his mouth and then give him your spare mask (you do carry a spare mask in your right pocket, right?).  The problem of course is the fellow had 60 dives to his name and I'm reasonably sure he hadn't done mask removal drills since he was certified and having someone freak out in an overhead environment would suck.

We had a very detailed safety brief and a condensed cavern diving class - keeping the guideline in sight at all times; keeping your fins up and don't kick up the silt; how to use the flashlight for proper signalling; diving thirds (1000 psi out, 1000 psi back and 1000 psi in  reserve); and emergency procedures,  all the stuff I knew but was completely new to the other divers in the group.

We dove in a single straight line. The guide led, and I got to be tail-end charlie for having the most experience in an overhead environment, and the guide could tell I knew what I was doing.

We all showered as required, and then kitted up and headed to the entrance.

Going into the cavern was neat. Heck it was otherworldly. The water was crystal clear and the flashlights gave some good illumination.


Some areas were a bit of a tight fit but nothing too serious.

We then reached the Rainbow Cenote:

We surfaced in the Rainbow Cenote

Simply breathtaking.  We looked around for a bit and then descended back down to return to the cavern entrance.

We then changed tanks, had a snack, and got ready for Line 2, which would be a longer dive.

Line 2 rocked.

Lots of rocks.

We also got to experience the halocline.  A halocline is what happens when fresh and salt water meet.

It looks like this when you go through it:

Do  not adjust your set.  The picture is actually in focus,  but the mix of the salt and fresh water makes for really interesting distortion. Rather neat making our way through it.  Crystal clear on either side of the layer and then this cloudy mess in between.

We then headed back towards the entrance.

 It was an amazing experience,  a first taste of Caverns Measureless to Man. I want to get cave certified to be able to experience this some more, which is going to be a heckuva lot of work. Apparently Mexico is a great place to get cave certified,

Mexico has some awesome cenotes for diving, and ProDive offers a great cenote diving experience.

Mexico in addition to great Cenote diving also has cute Cenote dogs.

Lots of stray dogs around Mexico, and a bunch hung around this cenote.  This little fella was pretty skittish but eventually came to get a snack from me as I donated some meat from my sandwich to him. Poor fella didn't look like he was getting regular meals.

It was a great day,  met some great fellow divers, and it was well worth it.

Cenote Line 1 Dive: 39 feet max depth, average of 23 feet and 39 minutes in 77 degree water.

Cenote Line 2 Dive: 42 feet max depth, average of 24 feet, and 49 minutes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Playa Del Carmen

The next day we decided to go shopping in Playa del Carmen and went to the main shopping drag, 5th Avenue. 

Basically your standard Grade A tourist trap.

But still fun.

It had it all, from shlock to Sephora and  everything in between.

Lots of browsing occurred and some gifts and trinkets were purchased. 

The streets of Playa del Carmen had a lot of law enforcement around - policia, Mexican National Guard, Mexican Marines and even a full on Federale Gun Truck. Still, it had a pretty safe touristy vibe and no problems were experienced.

After that we took a taxi back to the resort and went to the pool and checked at the sports desk and booked two adventures. More on that in the next couple posts.

Maybe Quit Wasting Money On DEI Until You're At Least Competent In The Basics

The Oakland County Commission, the government that runs Oakland County recently became completely Democrat-dominated as of the last election.

Of course they've gone all in for DEI initiatives and other Dem-favored clap-trap and spending in such areas.

However, with such distractions, they've been falling down on their job to provide for basic services and core competencies that are actually needed.

Like snow removal for roads.

West Bloomfield Township and other townships in the county have their roads handled by Oakland County.

This snowstorm Oakland County has singularly and impressively failed to maintain the roads. 

Most of the major roads in the township are still snow-covered wrecks, days after the snowfall.   Many of the roads have become two-tracks where there are ruts to drive in where tires have been ,and mounds of snow and ice otherwise. Some lanes are still snow-covered and totally unusable.

Instead of getting salt on the roads when the temperatures rose these past few days (before plunging again) to get rid of the ice, they did sweet bugger all.  It appears they all took a day off for MLK day, and left the plows and salters in the yards.  Schools have been closed due to this road conditions.

While traffic circles are claimed to offer efficiency in moving traffic, when they're iced over it is another thing entirely. Nothing like moving in two directions as you go around the circle (the direction you want to go and spinning outwards from the circle at the same time).  

The snow fell Saturday. As of today, Tuesday, the roads are still sucking quite badly.  Quite simply, I've not seen the roads this bad this many days after a snowfall before.

Nearby Farmington Hills, that is in charge of its own roads, has them nice and clean and passable, as does Troy.  

The change is absolutely remarkable when you leave areas under the County's authority and reach a place still working on its core mission to its residents rather than being distracted by ideological frippery.

Chichen Itza

The next morning on December 25, we got up nice and early, had a quick breakfast and got on the shuttle.

The shuttle drove us to the Xel-Ha waterpark where we then switched to a nice larger bus for the trip to Chichen Itza.

This turned into one heckuva long bus ride.  Upside we got to learn a lot from our tour guide on the way.

Chichen Itza was settled, built, and developed by the Mayans and Toltecs and there's apparently a lot of scholarly fracas over who built it and what the relations were between the Mayans and Toltecs at the site.

Occupied from 500-1200 AD the city site was an important center and was later mostly abandoned by the 16th century. Archaeological research is ongoing. Only 12 of approximately 300 buildings have been uncovered so far. What has been uncovered is rather impressive.

On the bus, we learned about the Mayan numbers system and Leah solved a Mayan math puzzle, and earned a Coca-Cola as a prize.  The bus happily had A/C and complimentary drinks including water, soft drinks and beer which made for a civilized ride and we got a nice snack on the bus as well.

We then got to the site and there was quite a line to get into the archaeological park.  There's an additional fee if you have a video camera, but they don't charge for iPhones or standard cameras even if they can shot video. Kinda strange but that wasn't the only place we found in Mexico that had that additional fee for video-specific cameras.

After entering, you walk along a path with lots of trinket sellers.

You then enter and see the pyramid dedicated to Kukulkan which certainly grabs your attention.

Its rather impressive and there's an interesitng acoustical effect if you have a group of people clapping in unison in front of the entrance.

There is likely a cenote (a water-filled sinkhole, often part of an underground cave system - more on that later) below it were sacrificial victims, including children, were thrown in.   Other sacred cenotes in the area have been explored with lots of child skeletons within.

There's no taking the stairs on the pyramid anymore - both due to preservation and prevention of wear and tear and because people have been hurt or even killed falling off of it. The stairs are rather narrow.

There's quite a few impressive buildings to see such as the Platform of Eagles and Jaguars:

 If you click to embiggen you can see the carvings of the eagles on the buildings. Rather impressive.

There's also the Tzompantli a platform emblazoned with carvings of skulls -- back in the day, there were apparently multiple racks of real skulls on display to show their enemies' heads.

We also visited the famous ball game field where the acoustics are rather amazing - you can hear whispers from one end to the other and there's a neat echo as well.

Rather cool.

Quite a neat place to explore.

We then headed to a cenote to take a dip. Since the cenotes are part of Mexico's groundwater, you have to shower before entering. 

In this Cenote, after showering you had to get a life jacket as life jackets were required to be worn, lest you become a unintentional sacrifice to Kulkulkan. 

You had to walk into an underground cavern to enter.


 The entrance opened up into the Cenote, which  had a collapse in the cave ceiling so light streamed in, as did tree roots and vegetation searching for water It was a neat experience.

We had a very nice swim around the cenote.

After the cenote, we changed and headed to Valladolid, a town that looks like Spain was transplanted to Mexico.

We had an amazing lunch in Valladolid at a Mexican buffet that was quite simply incredible.

After that we took the long bus ride back.  Caught a few Zzzzss along the way.  

Certainly a great, full and tiring day, no problem sleeping that night at all.

Monday, January 15, 2024

December Kid Trip

In the last week of Decmeebr, I took the kids to Playa del Carmen in Mexico. A  nice holiday trip for them to de-stress, and a reward for the  both of them  doing so well at school.

A nice flight to Cancun was followed by the longest wait ever to get our luggage.  They processed it at a speed of about 1 piece of luggage ever five minutes. Seriously, it was the slowest luggage processing  I've ever seen. Took over 2 hours to get our luggage and get out of the terminal.

We got to the resort and checked in a bit later than we had hoped as it was dark when we arrived.


 So we had dinner, which was a great Mexican buffet, and they mixed a nice Margarita. We got our rooms in order and went to sleep.

The next day we got up and hit the beach, but before we reached it, we got to check out some wildlife.

Of course there were iguanas.

 And there was the cutest rodent known to man, the Agouti:

There were even Agouti babies for more cuteness:

They're cute, and they were all over the place.

The beach was spectacular.

We got a lot of sun, swam, had lunch at the beach, and took it easy the rest of the day.

Kids got a little too much sun, especially Leah.  Luckily I had brought aloe along and it was sorely needed.

Heckuva great day.

The next day, we were off to get some culture and see one of the newly proclaimed modern wonders of the world.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Remember It's Not An Insurrection

Unless it comes from the Maga region of France.

Otherwise, it's just a sparkling peaceful protest.

Legal Insurrection: Anti-Israel Terrorist Supporters Breach White House Security Fence, Staffers ‘Relocated’

No arrests made, and not even a mention of the events in the Detroit papers today. 

Funny, that.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Snow Far Snow Not So Good

From yesterday afternoon to this morning, we got 5 inches of snow, which led to the roads becoming a wreck with multiple closures from downed trees, power lines, and of course, car accidents.  Never received so many road closure texts at one time before.

We also had thunder snow, which was kinda interesting to experience.

Wind then picked up today to over 30 knots crosswind to the runways at KPTK and low IFR.  So, no flying today for sure which I had planned to do prior to this weather coming in.  Just getting to the airport would have been a tad hazardous given the condition of the roads and blowing snow today.

So winter is now officially here.  It's been a rather enjoyable and nice delayed onset of winter, but the mild weather is done for now.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Blackbeard's Trip Review Summary

Blackbeard's was my first diving liveaboard experience.

Short review: It was awesome and all I had hoped it would be.

Longer review: Don't expect the Ritz, but if you're there for the diving then the  entire experience, camaraderie, and value can't be beat.

This is seriously camping at sea.    

You will Dive, Eat, Sleep, and Repeat. Everything else is secondary.

Your space is limited to storing your dive gear under a seat on deck shared with your dive buddy; your BCD and regs attached to your tank; your wetsuit hanging on the rail (don't forget to buy clamps/clothespins!); and a bunk with your soft luggage at the end for a footrest at night. You're in your bunk for sleep and the occasional nap, otherwise you will be spending your time up on deck enjoying the sea air and chatting with your fellow divers, or at the table in the galley chatting and dining.

You will be in tight quarters, bumping into people at times whether going up or down ladders, in the galley, or gearing up for a dive and being patient is key. Going alone, you will find a dive buddy and you'll get on the same page pretty quickly.

A flexible mind is necessary, and you need to be able to roll with it, whatever it is.

You will be bunking with others in your cabin, and your private space is your bunk with a light-blocking curtain and that's it. If anything under-pack as there isn't space and you likely don't need that stuff anyways.  You're gonna meet people from all over the world (On this boat we had Americans from all over, a lot of Canadians, 1 Australian, and a French couple, and while you all have a love of diving in common which helps, there's gonna be differences, so just play nice and it all works out. Politeness, a positive attitude, a sense of humor, and being always ready to be helpful to others goes a long way, as does not being standoffish. 

There will be changes in weather that can affect your trip and dive sites;  the A/C may break (it did in our case making below decks a tad sweaty), and other stuff can and will happen. Just roll with it (literally).

You will be getting in line for food and you eat what they make, but while it won't be cordon bleu, what is there is flippin' amazing considering it is made in a galley the size of a phone booth.  The food really was great and I never walked away not being well fed and ready to get another dive in. You will be eating above deck a lot given the lack of space at the table, so expect to eat picnic-style with the plate on your lap above decks and enjoy the experience.

The maritime heads are not exactly spacious, but they work (so long as you don't clog them), and there's one shared shower that is salt water with a 30 second fresh water rinse. You're diving 4 times a day, so not a lot of people showered much anyhow.

In short, with a good and friendly attitude it is the best live-aboard value there is anywhere and the diving can't be beat.

The diving is fantastic, the crew work their tails off both ensuring you have the best possible experience and keeping you safe.  The crew really sets the tone for the trip from the outset and their enthusiasm and professionalism really made it a great trip.  

In short, it's an amazing time and a great experience with a great bunch of people.

Yes, I will be going again!

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Blackbeard's The Last Diving Day

The Thursday of the trip was to be the last diving day.  Thursday offers two morning dives so that people can off-gas and fly out on Friday afternoon.

While the weather had been rough and waves were still rocking the boat, we had breakfast and maneuvered to calmer dive sites.

The first site was the Blue Hole. As it sounds, its indeed a hole in the seabed that drops down from 20 feet to a lot deeper, in this case to 220 feet. Not always a lot to see in there but ti would be a fun dive.

Here's Jeff looking down into the blue hole before heading over the edge to descend:

 We dropped down and started exploring, maxing out at a dept of 91 feet. Jeff had an earlier flight on Friday, so we didn't want to load him up too much on nitrogen.

There was a neat cave in the wall at about 70 feet.

 Some fish in it. At other times a shark is known to be in there but it wasn't there that time.

We then headed back up and swam around the hole for a while.

Around the hole, stingrays hid in the sand.

A turtle also cruised around, and turtles are always chill dudes:

It was a nice 30 minute dive.

After the Blue hole, we headed to Periwinkle Reef for a nice shallow dive at 25 feet for 40 minutes to see some fish and enjoy our last dive in the Bahamas.

We then sailed back into port at Nassau.

 When then got our suitcases and larger items we had stored at the dock back, and started packing things up.  We also all headed to the marina tio use the showers, which were much appreciated.

As night fell, we had dinner on the boat and then headed into town to the very appropriately named Pirate Republic Brew Pub and had a great time quaffing drinks and having fun on land.

A great time as a group playing games, drinking rum and beer, and having a fun time.

We then headed back to the boat and a bunch of us had an after-party party in the galley, and then everyone finally hit their bunks.

Friday morning we all awoke, had breakfast, finished packing up, tipped the crew of the Morningstar and then went on our separate ways.

It had been one heckuva great vacation and a fantastic first live-aboard diving experience.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Will The Houthis Finally Find Out?

The US Navy stopped yet another drone and missile barrage by the Houthis at ships in the Red Sea.

USNI News: US Destroyers, Ike Aircraft Shoot Down Houthi-Launched Missiles, Drones Over Red Sea

USS Laboon (DDg-58), USS Gravely (DDG-107), USS Mason (DDg-87) and F/A-18s from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), along with the United Kingdom’s HMS Diamond (D34), shot down a number of Houthi-launched drones and missiles over the Red Sea, U.S. Central Command announced via social media site X Tuesday night.

The ships and aircraft shot down 18 one-way attack unmanned aerial vehicles, two anti-ship cruise missiles and one anti-ship ballistic missile Tuesday at around 9:15 p.m. local time, CENTCOM said in the release.

As reported in the article, this is the 26th time the Houthis have launched weapons at shipping in the Red Sea. That's twenty-six separate attacks without any retaliatory strikes on the launchers and launchees. Not much deterrence is going on right now.

Freedom of navigation in the sea lanes is rather important for the world economy, and such freedom has been aptly and ably enforced by the US Navy in the past.

At a certain point, eventually even the passive Biden Administration will get tired of the Houthi's antics, stop being weak and indecisive, and finally let the gloves come off.

Assuming the Navy is given free reign to both restore deterrence and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, the Houthis will definitively find out what happens when you interfere with US shipping and fire weapons at US warships.

Update:  The Biden Administration apparently is continuing to refuse to re-designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization,  The Biden Administration had removed them,  both as an appeasement move to Iran (the backer and shot-caller for the Houthis), and to stick a thumb in the eye of Saudi Arabia.  The Biden policy of appeasement and weakness is sure paying dividends - for America's enemies.

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Blackbeard's - Of Wind, Waves, And North House Reef

After the Shark Dive we then did 3 dives on North House Reef due to waves and weather getting a tad rougher.

North House reef was a fun series of shallow dives in the 20 foot range with nice long bottom times.

First dive was 57 minutes, the second 41 minutes, and the third 33 minutes as it was at night, and after seeing all there was to see we headed back to the boat.

There were some nice schools of fish to see.

The water was so clear you could sea the bottom from the deck of the boat, and the boat from the bottom. Made navigation a cinch.


Getting back on with the wave action took a bit more effort than when the water was calm, but it was no problem. It did make it a bit more challenging getting back on the boat for the night dive but no major issues. Watching out for the movement of the ladder became a concern and hitting it feet first was required.

That evening however, the wind really picked up and the boat started seriously a rockin' back and forth.  Those that were prone to seasickness were not happy with the rolling motion of the ocean.

The rest of us hung out on the deck, watching the mast dip back and forth,  chatting with the captain, and listening to  sea shanties through the evening then headed below decks to get rocked to sleep while managing to not get rolled out of our bunks.  Still one heckuva great day.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Every. Single. Time.

Yet again, continuing what has been the case since the reporting began under the Biden Administration, the Bureau of Labor's employment numbers are being yet again revised downwards after their initial happy result.

The New York Post: Initial US employment reports overstated by 439,000 jobs in 2023

This overstatement has occurred Every. Single. Time. the Bureau of Labor has released employment statistics under Biden.  The original happy pronouncements of job creation on the report, which Biden & Co is quick to take credit for, and which gets published widely, gets quietly walked back on a slow news day and revised downwards, by a significant amount.

That every single time the initial reports come out with a higher number than the corrected reality, with the correction published without any fanfare, and typically on a slow news Friday afternoon shows this is unlikely to be an honest mistake. 

In short, the Bureau of Labor's employment numbers under Biden have been politicized and are quite simply statistically unreliable. When all "mistakes" made in a series only go one way, that's a pretty sharp indication it;s not a mistake at all.

This is rather problematic as those politicized numbers are not just there give a false impression that things are going great, they are used to set policy, including by the Fed to adjust (and likely raise based on these false reports of rising employment) interest rates based on believing the economy is growing more than it actually is doing.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Blackbeard's - The Shark Dive

The next dive started with an extensive safety brief.

We were all to enter the water and rapidly descend to the wreck of the Bahamian ship Henry Smith and gather around a spot on the railing.

As we descended, sharks could be seen circling.

That's because it was time for the shark feeding dive.

Once we were arranged along the rail, the chumsicle was lowered from the boat and placed above us on the deck. 

The chumsicle is a bunch of herring parts frozen in a 5-gallon bucket mold and the attached to a chain.

With the chumsicle in the water, a swirling mass of sharks and other fish swirled around and had at it.

A friend I made on the boat, Steve, an English tech diver, took a cool video:

Bahamas - December 2023 from Scubasteve#* on Vimeo.

After the feeding frenzy subsided, and the chumsicle was devoured, quite a few sharks hung around for pictures.

Including this guy, who swam at me for a close-up:

 Also a shark named Finnegan hung around.

You can see why he's named Finnegan.

They think he lost his fin to a boat prop, and he's a readily identifiable regular at the shark feeding events.

The sharks had no issues swimming closely by the divers:

The sharks, oceanic reef sharks, were rather chill and curious about us, but not aggressive.  

That was one of the most thrilling dives I've ever done.

An awesome shark-filled dive of 43 minutes with an average depth of 44 feet, and a max depth of 58 feet.