Saturday, December 27, 2008

More Holiday Scenes

I Couldn't have paid for better weather in the end...

Take a look at our accommodations in the snow at dusk as our evening's transportation arrived:

And here's a shot at our little Missy the Turbo Pup sitting around under the tree looking for left over presents and that weird bearded guy in the red underwear...

And here's a look at this little girl, Olive, a tiny mini smooth dappled Dachshund, that won my heart about four years ago and caused us to want our own giant dog in a miniature package...

Heading home tomorrow to catch up on some new consulting work and answer the mail.

Did you miss us?

The Limo Cometh

Film At Eleven...

MORE: 11:45 CST

And The Limo Goeth Away...

And a very merry time was had by four adults and Pat's two excited teen Grand Girls.

It snowed nearly an inch while we were out...I just wish I could have taken the three mini Dachshunds along for the ride.

Sixty Eight Degrees One Minute

33 Deg The Next...

Well, we walked around in short sleeve shirts here yesterday afternoon after wearing a parka and gloves two nights before with lows near 17 degrees, so I guess that it makes sense that we'd be back down to 33 and looking forward to an afternoon of freezing rain, sleet, and snow after spending the evening listening to it thunder and rain.

I think we got a little bit of hail while we were at it at one point.

Talk about variety being spicy...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reheating Your Left Over Turkey Or Ham?

Here's Another Use For Your Microwave...

(for the tone deaf or otherwise musically declined...that was Jingle Bells...)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Homemade Sin Snow

And Some Real Stuff To Boot...

Here's a look at the results of my own snow storm I made in Knoxville

And here's what God gave us for Christmas Eve in Independence, MO.

The celebrations continue as the weather warms. Hope everyone is safe and enjoying the holidays.

White Christmas

We made it...

Photos to follow

Hope y'all all have a lovely Christmas, we already have.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Live From St. Louis

Interesting Travel...

Well ladies and gentlemen, I'm happy to report that we made an executive decision Monday night and as a result our long planned Christmas expedition to Kansas City, which had been canceled due to weather concerns, was back on.

The theory was to slip out between cold fonts and avoid driving in hazardous conditions.


We've pretty much managed to beat the cold front part thus far, but looking at the clouds about 3:30 PM Tuesday we elected to stop short of our destination and spend the evening in a really nice pet friendly Marriott Residence Inn in downtown St. Louis instead of pushing on an additional five hours to our destination.

As we were unloading luggage into the lobby there was a flash of lightning followed by a peal of thunder, and it proceeded to "thunder sleet" until the ground was covered with melting ice pellets.

So far my amateur weather forecasting skills were correct. More than one good private aviator has been killed in an accident caused by a "had to get there" mentality that ended in a fatality.

Driving a car is no different in my opinion.

Having settled into our borrowed abode, as usual, one thing led to another and my culinary nose had us making a reservation at Tony's Restaurant in downtown SL.

The food and service was nothing short of awesome, but thirty years ago they'd have refused to admit us because we were both in jeans and I didn't have a jacket or collared shirt. (I was surprised they didn't have a closet full of "loaner jackets." )

Our head waiter warmed up to us after I apologized for our casual attire and explained that we were just passing through, found the place on a whim, but intended to sample a little of everything that evening.

Two hundred bucks later, after sitting a couple of hours in a room full of women in sequined dresses, and we were cruising back to our rented accommodations in the hotel's courtesy van to check on the Turbo Pup.

Looking at the forecast, this mornings plans present a bit of a dilemma because the weather forecast has taken a 180 degree turn and it looks like we're going to have to feel our way on across the state of Missouri in crappy 40 degree weather that deteriorates into a snowy mess in the mid 20's in KC.

So much for using the Weather Channel to fly or drive anywhere past the end of your driveway, I guess.

Wish us luck, if you will...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Making My Own Snow At Home

Am I "Father Nature"?

Here's what happens when you stumble across this web site...

and you end up building one of these:

...and you put it in your front yard connected to a garden hose and your air compressor:

...somebody wrap me in duct tape before I hurt myself...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why We Win...

Cause We're Smarter Than Everybody Else--In spite Of Our Government's Stupidity

Below are the actual words from a recently closed US government solicitation for bids. Read along with me:

AF083-096 TITLE: Perching Micro Air Weapon


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 3.5.b.(7) of the solicitation.

OBJECTIVE: To develop the technology for a Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) to harvest alternative power/energy sources to remain “on call” and engage targets while perching on a structure.

DESCRIPTION: The field of MAVs is revolutionary and highly necessary to maintaining complete dominance in the ever changing battle space environment. One newly identified role for MAVs is for a bird size Micro Air Vehicle, less than two pounds, to have the ability to harvest power or energy from alternative sources (e.g. power lines, wind, solar, etc.). This MAV should be capable of flying to and then perching on structures (e.g. power lines, trees, buildings, ground, etc.). Once perched, the MAV must be re-deployable, being able to return to the user or to remain “on call” and engage targets. The MAV will be remote controlled through the use of a line of sight datalink. The datalink will have an approximate range of 5 km at a frequency of about 1 GHz. A small onboard video camera will transmit what it sees back to the user by way of the datalink thus allowing the user to designate the target. The MAV will use GPS and an inertial navigation system (INS) to accurately fly from one waypoint to another as required. The warhead payload should be on the order of half a pound of high energy explosive which will be used to target people and/or lightweight vehicles. Combining all of these features a user would be able to fly the MAV into any environment, wait for an extended period of time for a specific target, and then eliminate the target. The ability to harvest power/energy from external sources is critical to persistent surveillance and would extend the operational time of the MAVs exponentially and benefit the war fighter immensely. These capabilities would require innovative technologies in power harvesting and storage technologies.

PHASE I: Define concepts and predict the performance for harvesting and storing power/energy from external sources for application to a perching MAV weighing about two pounds. The power plant should weigh no more than half a pound, and fit roughly within an eight inch long fuselage of one and a half inch radius.

PHASE II: Develop an operational prototype that demonstrates the intended technological concept. The final report should describe how CONOPS are supported and how using an alternative power source as well as the ability to perch affects the structure and design.

PHASE III/DUAL USE: Military Application: This technology will provide users an unprecedented surveillance and targeting combination for any environment. Weapon could wait days for a specific target. Commercial Application: This technology could be applied into any remote controlled device to provide it with a longer functional time.

1. Energy Havesting (EH) for Small Air Vehicles:

2. Wickenheiser, Adam, Garcia, Ephrahim, "Longitudinal Dynamics of a Perching Aircraft," Journal of Aircraft, Vol. 43, No. 5, September-October 2006,[Wickenheiser]%20Longitudinal%20Dynamics.pdf.

3. Bachmann, R., Boria, F.J., Quinn, R.D., Kline, J.E., Vaidyanathan, R., "Utility of a Sensor Platform Capable of Aerial and Terrestrial Locomotion," IEEE Conf. on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics, July 2005.

KEYWORDS: Micro-Air Vehicle, alternative energy supply, precision engagement, Multi-mode mobility, perching

So now our military is buying "mechanical Pigeons" that can fly around and "see" what's going on out there in the world and transmit the information back to a safe location instead of putting some poor bastard with combat boots and a helmet in harms way.


How about you?

They're Sinking My Ship

OK...Scrapping It, But With The Same End Results

I was Googling my way around the WWW this morning and happened to start looking at some story about mothballed Navy ships, and that lead me to check on what ever happened to my old ship, the USS_New_Orleans_(LPH-11) .

Turns out she's still around, but has been decommissioned and is scheduled for scrapping soon. She was even a movie star some time later after I left, serving as the stage for part of the movie Apollo 13 since her sister ship the USS Iwo Jima had already been decommissioned and scrapped.

I never will forget standing watch in her smelly stinky 110 degree F engine room back in 1978, or watching the sun set across her stern as we sailed past some of the thousands of little uninhabited islands in the Philippines.

I know we can't possibly keep every 40 year old ship sitting around rusting, but it's sad to see a place you lived and worked and grew up a little on going away.

New Year Coming

Old Year Passing Away...

I don't see how any sane person can't stop at the end of each calendar year and take the time to consider the events which have occurred while the Earth made yet another orbit around the sun.

As my own life roars toward covering a span of nearly a half century, I'm continuously amazed at the things I see each day and the lack of memory and understanding exhibited by men and women which are paid to manage things like companies and countries and the world overall.

Of course if the people that vote for or otherwise put the leaders in their positions of responsibility (or allow the thugs and dictators to remain in power instead of rising up and overthrowing their illegitimate governments) made better decisions and held the leaders accountable I think that things would be better overall.

Instead of making intelligent, well informed decisions, too many people elect to spend their time on the cell phone or playing video games or watching "Dancing with the Stars" and worrying about dead toddlers in Orlando--literally "playing fiddle while Rome burns" like Emperor Nero.

I, on the other hand, am in the process of starting two new businesses with which I want to produce substantial income in 2009. One is a catering/confections business which Pat will soon be involved with handling full time, and I'm moving toward going back into business as an independent insulting consulting injuneer engineer.

That's right, this beach bum blogger's putting the band back together going back into a business on his own, full time--something he swore on a stack of Bibles he'd never, ever, ever in a million years do back in the late 1990's when the world crumbled down around his head.

There's just too many opportunities out there, and too much money to be made to not shed the limitations of being a mere "employee" and not take a little risk in return for HUGE profits to be earned working for myself.

I don't know where blogging is going to fit into this picture. I don't see just quitting as a possibility, but I also recognize that the mental effort needed to crank out work and sell and market traditionally takes time and energy at a level which shuts my mind down when I would ordinarily be writing some screed here on the keyboard.

There's also a new web site coming which will be the advertizing front end for "Rocky Top Confections & Catering" and is obviously going to take a good deal of time to develop and support, and The Redneck Gourmet is going to follow along as a companion site with recipes and other cooking stuff that doesn't fit into the main business page.

I guess that you'll have to stay tuned to see how things develop, but I'm excited with the prospects while being tired at the same time knowing how much work is in front of us.

Wait...I almost forgot that Christmas is coming up next week?

And did I mention that in the middle of all of this career insanity I'm also building a snowmaker which uses a garden hose and an air compressor to make artificial snow in your front yard?

Photos to follow.

Ho Ho Ho...dammit...