Sunday, December 31, 2006

Is It Summer Yet?

I hate winter. I hate snow. I hate being cold. I hate getting colds. I hate icy roads. I hate big heat bills. I hate cars that won't start. I hate scraping windows. I hate frozen water pipes. Most of all, I hate it when my niplets get all pokey and rub themselves raw on the inside of my shirt, damn I hate that. There's nothing worse than having sore, bleeding niplets. Yep, I'm ready for spring.

I remember when I used to like snow, back in the days when I didn't have to drive in the shit to earn a living. Maybe after I win the lottery I'll like snow again, just like back when snow meant a good excuse to go sledding. Back when snow meant a good excuse to go do donuts in a parking lot somewhere until the Gestapo showed up and gave everybody the boot. And snow forts, remember those?

I grew up in Eastern Montana where the snow never melts, it just blows around until it wears out. When I was a kid it'd snow a foot or so, then the wind would come up and blow it all up against whatever happened to be in the way. Six foot high drifts sometimes, excellent opportunity to do some serious tunnel building. After I win the lottery, I'm gonna build a snow fort. Then I'm gonna get in my airplane and fly to some island in the fucking Caribbean where it never goddamn snows and stay there until spring. Y'all can have this rotten white shit.

I know, I know, quitcherbellyachin', but it is the first real snow that we've had this winter after all, so I'm still not used to it for the year. By the end of January I won't even notice the crap but right now I'm still lamenting the end of another way too short summer. It's all good though, because before we know it the temp will be hovering around 100 degrees and I'll be bitching that it's too damn hot. Is there anyplace in the world where it stays between 60 and 80 degrees all year, never snows, and there are no bugs? Anyplace? Didn't think so. Better learn to like snow I guess.

So how does everyone like the site's new look? Personally I think it sucks ass but at least it's a change of scenery. I was hoping that Blogger's new template editor would make it easier to customize these blogs, but it turns out that they consider being able to easily change colors "customizing". I already knew how to change the colors, I want photo backgrounds and custom headers and nifty little whizbang doodads that I'm far too uncreative to think up on my own. Maybe since the weather sucks anyway, I should spend a little time researching html code eh? Hell, maybe I should spend a little time thinking up something worth a shit to write since that's what people really come here for anyway, not to see what color the background is today. Sorry, I've just been feeling a little uninspired lately. Don't be surprised if the look changes again however since I'll likely be fooling around with it some more.

Did everyone get everything that they wanted from ol' Santa? I didn't get shit from ol' Santa, but my beloved bride helped me get one step closer to finishing this. The wife and kids loved their stale, half eaten pretzels. We ate loads of my wife's outstanding cooking, and of course my daughter and I observed the time honored Christmas tradition of dancing in the living room and singing along with Boris Karloff's striking original rendition of "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch", which is my favorite Christmas song of all time. Actually, it's the only Christmas song I can think of that I can even tolerate. May anyone who remakes it be infested with the fleas of a thousand camels for I've yet to hear a remake that doesn't suck. While my head was plunged deeply into the toilet over the course of the past week, my world was thankfully devoid of the rotten Christmas music that I'm sure was belching forth flatulently from practically every speaker in town. I think I'll release a Christmas album next year since I seem to be about the only person on the whole damn planet that's yet to do so.

Wulfgar has the results of the weblog awards posted. I didn't win. I'm not surprised. Actually I'm sort of glad I didn't win. Sarpy Sam and Moos put a lot more effort into this whole endeavor than I do these days, so I really don't think that I deserve to beat them. Maybe the new year will bring an uber creative blogstorm out of the old Justinmeister, then we'll see what happens in next year's contest. I don't want anything that I don't deserve. Sportsmanship - get some.

How do you really define a "Montana Lifestyle" though? When you think about it, anyone that lives here has a "Montana Lifestyle", since the one common thread that most all Montanans share is our love of the freedom to just be ourselves and do what we want within reason. With every passing session of the legislature more and more of that freedom seems to say bye bye, but compared to a lot of other states that I've been to we're still mighty damn free lemme tell ya.

Sarpy Sam made a comment a while back about how he didn't really fit the stereotype of a "Montana Lifestyle" because he doesn't hunt or fish. Hunting and fishing are hobbies, not a lifestyle . . . well maybe they're lifestyles . . . for the exceedingly wealthy or exceptionally lucky, but not for us normal folks.

What makes Sarpy Sam fit the Montana stereotype, in my opinion anyway, isn't the fact that he does or doesn't hunt or fish, it isn't the fact that he's a rancher, it isn't the fact that he's likely forgotten more about horses than I'll ever know, it's the fact that even though he doesn't hunt or fish, he's not trying to tell me that I shouldn't. It's the fact that even though he's a rancher, he doesn't look down his nose at me because I'm not. It's the fact that he knows what the word "respect" means, gives it appropriately and only where it's deserved, and doesn't expect any more or less than his fair share of it in return. He takes care of his own and doesn't worry about everyone else's in other words. That's not to say that he wouldn't lend a helping hand should the need arise, we Montanans are well known for our generosity and I get the idea that Sam fits that stereotype quite well, he just doesn't feel the need to force everyone else to do things his way. If you do, then go back to California where you belong and leave us the hell alone.

When it comes to a Montana lifestyle, how could anyone downplay the story of a woman that moved here from New York to marry the love of her life, and rather than trying to make the rest of us into New Yorkers, hopped right into step with the life of a rancher and farmer? After facing the terrible loss of said love, our hero didn't pack up and head back to the Big Apple either, she's sticking it out and running the show just like a real pioneer and doing what she has to do in spite of her tears.

That's how this country was settled in the first place. A lot of folks came here from back east with everything they owned strapped to the back of a horse or piled into a covered wagon. The ones with the grit to be Montanans survived and prospered, the ones that didn't either starved to death or went home with their tails between their legs. Karen may have came from New York, but from what I can see she's been a Montanan all along. Too bad more of these out of state immigrant types don't have the cajones that she's got. If I wanted to live in New York I'd move there, this is Montana and we like it just the way it is tank you veddy much. If you don't have grit like Karen, then pack up your crap and head back to where you came from, we don't need your kind here telling the rest of us how to live.

Congrats to all of the winners, and thanks again Wulfgar for MCing the whole shebang. I'm sure it takes a lot of time to keep track of all the nominations and votes, and I salute you for doing it.

So what are your resolutions for the New Year? Last year I made the same resolution that I make every year: To not make New Year's resolutions. It's great, I always stick to it, I'm never faced with the guilt that some people feel when they gain 20 pounds after resolving to lose 30, I don't have to face the failure of not being able to quit chewing my finger nails, I'm never disappointed when I don't walk five miles a day like I said I would, I don't drink enough anymore to have to worry about quitting, and I'm smart enough to know that unless I just decide to on my own someday, I'll likely not quit smoking until several minutes after they're finished cremating my cancer ridden carcass. The best way to not have to deal with failure, is to not set oneself up for such I say.

Well folks, it appears that even though the ground is shrouded in that meddlesome white shit, the sun is shining brightly and I'm sure that I'll soon have two of my own, and several of the neighbors', enthusiastic rugrats begging me to tow them around the neighborhood on their sleds with my 4 wheeler. OK, maybe I don't completely hate snow. ;)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bah . . . . Humbug

So has anyone else tried out this new Christmas shopping shit? Who's the douchebag that came up with this idea anyway? I actually found myself at the mall today.

That's right.

The Mall.

Now I go to the mall about once a year, less if at all possible, and every time I'm dim enough to venture within I'm immediately reminded as to why I only go to the mall once a year. I've been to the mall twice this year. No . . . I'm not pleased.

The trouble is, that there's few places on the planet that I fit in less than at the mall. I'm the kind of guy that can go to a rodeo, a biker rally, a country concert, a rock concert, any kind of a racing event involving any type of powered equipment, a trap shoot, you name it and make myself right at home. But the mall? There ain't no Abercrombie and Fitch on this sumbitch.

Imagine if you will, a grumpy old bastard in a dirty black Carhartt coat (yes, I earned the right to wear Carhartt, no fashion statement here), camo ball cap emblazoned with the logo of the trucking company of your choice, work boots, jeans that look older than most of the mall's typical patronage, a camo T-Shirt, and a really bad attitude, at the mall, in a futile attempt to get in, find what I want, and get out. At least all of the other guys that looked equally as unenthused to be there as I was were being towed along by their wives, I was by myself and therefore woefully without an excuse. Have you ever realized that malls are purpose built to thwart the efforts of people who want to just get in, get what they want, and get out? At every turn is some other schmuck attempting to interest you in something that you never knew you needed until you blindly wandered into the mall.

No, I don't need a cellphone with a camera and an MP3 player built in for $399.95 on a 50 year service contract. My current cell phone is a useless piece of shit and I do need a new one, but that doesn't mean that I'm a moron put on this earth to boost your commissions income you ignorant fuck.

No, I don't need my picture taken and digitally superimposed next to some scrawny assed little beach bunny in a bikini. My coat would look out of place on a beach anyway and she probably wouldn't like the way it smells, even if she isn't real which is probably for the best since if she was real my wife would likely track her down and kick a mudhole in her skinny little ass and stomp it dry. She tends to frown on other chicks sniffing my Carhartt. Ya'll got any pictures of farm gals in that there computer?

No, I don't need a giant pretzel with a teeny tiny little thimble of some kind of radioactive cheese sauce that's likely been around long enough for its half life to expire. No, I don't need some floofy assed coffee drink to wash it down with either. I like my coffee just like I like my women: strong and bitter. And you thought I was gonna say hot and black didn't you?

I can't even go into Hot Topic and find anything cool anymore. Well, except for the chick with the tattoos and the hot pink and black striped hair that works there, she was kind of cool.

I ran screaming from the mall headed for someplace hopefully less populated, yeah I'm a dumb fucker. With squealing tires and cloud of diesel smoke I headed for ~insert favorite overpopulated huge assed box store of your choice~ only to find that it too was not designed for antisocial old goats like myself, at least not at this time of the year anyway. I managed to find a couple of the things that I was looking for, and hopefully the wife takes into account just how much I hate shopping and therefore isn't disappointed when all she gets from me for Christmas is a stale, half eaten pretzel and a thimble full of green haired radioactive cheese sauce. I tried alright, what the hell do you want from me? No, of course that isn't a hot pink hair on my coat, you must be imagining things.

One more observation before I go. Who, pray tell, is the mindless dipshit that came up with the idea of having greeters at the door passing pleasantries even to folks like myself who would obviously rather be left alone? It was bad enough when Wal-Mart was the only place that had them. Back then I figured what the hell? Gives some old retired duffer something to do and keeps his ass out of traffic, big deal. Said old duffer would have been a lot smarter to head straight to the sporting goods section, pick out some fishing gear, and run screaming like a frightened little school girl being chased by well hung pedophile sodomite demons from that awful place in my opinion instead of filling out a job application, but that's just my take on the situation. Give a man a fish and he'll eat for day then get a job at Wal-Mart, teach a man to fish and he'll get a Cabella's catalog, an ice auger, and a walleye boat and never go to Wal-Mart again.

If anyone happens to see me working at Wal-Mart after I retire, please, please do me a favor and shoot my sorry ass. Be merciful, since if you ever see me working at that shit hole it means that I've likely already sold all of my guns for grocery money and therefore am incapable of ending my suffering myself. Thank you in advance for your compassion.

Now, every place I go has greeters accosting me at the door and gleefully exclaiming "WELCOME TO ~insert favorite big box store here~!". As if either they, or I for that matter, are actually happy to be there. You'd think that they actually believe that it's a good idea to give people fake assed greetings as they come in the store or something. What the hell? Most of them aren't even old retired duffers, hell, they're not even cute young chicks, they're these metro looking guys in their mid twenties with perfectly coiffed hair and well trimmed fingernails that don't even have any dirt under them. What are these idiots thinking? Is this little wuss supposed to make me feel welcome? Am I supposed to look at this douchebag and think "I must be in the right place"? Am I supposed to have any reaction to this guy whatsoever except to give him that "say one more word or take a single step toward me and I'll give you a power wedgie just like your mom does every night when you get home from work" look? Hell no.

Either get some old duffer with a genuine smile and nothing better to do out there, or some drop dead little hottie with a pretty face and perky little boobies that might actually have a prayer of cheering me up and put little girlie boy back in the fucking warehouse where he belongs. Let the little peckerhead heave heavy boxes around for a year or two then maybe he'll grow some hair on his nuts and be able to actually relate to a guy like me. There's probably already some hot looking pink haired goth chick with a nose ring and a barbed wire tattoo around her neck back there unloading trucks with a forklift that'd kick his peachy little ass if he got in her way though, so maybe that's why he's working the door. Maybe I should start sneaking into the stores through the freight entrance, I tend to fit in better with the folks on the dock anyway.

Now if you'll all excuse me I must go put my head in the toilet and flush repeatedly until Christmas is over.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Nominations Are In, And Wulfgar Is Now Taking Votes For The Montana Weblog Awards . . .

And wouldn't you know it I made the cut in one category. I highly doubt that I'll win, the competition is mighty stiff in the "Most Exemplifies A Montana Lifestyle" class, but I'd like to at least show up for the game if you know what I mean. Of course anyone that doesn't vote for me will not be receiving a Christmas card this year, but then again the people that vote for me won't be receiving a Christmas card from me either . . . . . . .

So go vote for somebody, even if it isn't me, just make sure that you get over to Wulfgar's and support your favorite Montana bloggers.

Just for the record, I will not be voting for myself, just as I did not nominate myself. I don't know why I'm taking the high road this year, but I am so deal with it. The other thing that I'm doing differently this year, is that I'm keeping all of my votes and nominations secret until after the polling is complete, then maybe, just maybe, I'll post them. I'm not ashamed of my nominations or votes, it's just that I don't want anyone to be guilted into voting for me because I voted for them or anything like that. I want everyone to be frightened into voting for me because I'll hunt them down and kill them if they don't. OK, just kidding, I'll aim for the genitalia . . . . ;)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Yes, It Flies. But Then Again . . . Did You Have Any Doubts?

I managed to make it to the park Sunday morning to test fly the new Mugi Evo, and I'm happy to report that it does indeed fly, however the action of the semi frigid weather upon my stubby little thumbs made it difficult to really wring the thing out. This one's a little heavier than my other one, and therefore flies a little different and I'm not quite used to that yet. The speed is phenomenal, as is the vertical performance or at least for what little I've been able to test it. This bad boy will shoot straight up as far as I want it to at a speed far greater than my other one will run flat and level. Besides manning the catapult for a flawless launch, Mark grabbed the camera and caught a little video of the first flight, but I haven't had a chance to do anything with it yet.

Besides the aforementioned numbness in my thumbs, I was noticing that the flight characteristics were indicative of the thing perhaps being a wee bit tail heavy, so I added another 1/4 ounce to the nose but haven't had a chance to test it yet. I've also noticed that the controls were a tad sluggish for an aircraft of this type, but I haven't quite made up my mind whether that's due to the conservative control throws that I set up for the maiden voyage, or perhaps due to the inflexibility of cold plastic. I used flexible control linkages on this one in a quest for less drag, and I have to imagine that cold weather would make them far less flexible than they were sitting on my dining room table when I tested everything. If I had it to do over I would've routed them a little differently as to not require as much flex, but that's a good part of the reason why I keep building these things: I learn something new every time and that's part of the fun kiddies!

Be sure to check out Morgan's new page over at the Mugi site. He sent me an email the other day asking if it'd be all right if he put this up. I basically said "hell yeah!" If I keep this up I'll be able to start running around with my ass hanging out any day now, just like a real live famous person! It's kind of odd when you think about it, but before the internet came along the probability of a simple yet effective model aircraft designed by an enthusiast in England becoming wildly popular in Billings, Montana was slim to none. These days however, it's not only probable, but highly likely, and that's a beautiful thing methinks. We modelers are no different than anyone else in this neck of the woods. Simple and durable are important qualities to folks around here, and I think that's a big part of the reason why these planes have built up such a following. Practically everyone that sees them wants one, and I don't see much of a decline in interest from the current owners either, especially not from this one. I'm still just as stoked about these things as I was when I blasted across the park with my first one, pulled it vertical and checked out the roll rate. Toss in a little heart stopping performance coupled with a price even my friend Mark could love, and it's no mystery why we love our Mugi Evos. ;) (sm)

Sorry Mark, I just couldn't resist that one, hehehehe.

Ok folks, I've bored you all long enough. I've got some motors to pick up at the post office, and I wouldn't mind spending a little more time working on this before it's time to go to work. At least I'm done Christmas shopping for myself, I suppose I should get started on the wife and young'uns one of these days though. ;)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

If They Keep This Up, You Won't Have To Get A Chick Drunk To Get Laid Anymore

Has everyone heard about this new "Hug Me" shirt? No, it's not a summer version of the straightjacket, but a shirt embedded with all sorts of sensors, and actuators, and gizmos and gadgets that can actually simulate a hug from another human being. The shirt uses Bluetooth technology, and therefore can be activated via cell phone from anywhere in the world.

So what this means is, that I could give one of these to my ol' lady, call some magic number from my cell phone in the middle of the night, and give her a virtual "hug" from the comfort of my rattly old truck cab. Yippee, sounds great. What will they think of next?

This is assuming of course that:

A - My cellphone had signal long enough to actually complete the call, which is seldom/never.

B - She happened to be wearing it when I called.

C - She was awake and had consumed an adequate quantity of coffee when I activated it, thus preventing me from having the inside of my colon hugged at her every whim forthwith from the moment I returned home and she shoved it up my ass.

With my luck the damn thing would be laying in the laundry pile, the cat would be sleeping on top of it, and fire a cat shaped hole through the fucking roof when it was unexpectedly "hugged" from beneath. No thanks, I think I'll just stick to real hugs for the time being.

What I'm thinking though, is if they can make a hug me shirt, what comes next? Could I get slap me gloves for my kids? Kick me boots for the cat perhaps? This technology could give the term "fuck me pants" a whole new meaning! This is exciting technology, I'm off to contemplate the possibilities.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Don't Waste Your Time Reading This Post. It's Way Too Long And There Isn't Anything Worthwhile In It Anyway.

The man regarded by many to be the greatest fighter pilot ever to roam the skies was born in Kleinburg, Germany on the 2nd of May, 1892. The son of a soldier, he was groomed from an early age in preparation for a life of military service. At the age of 11, he entered the Cadet Corps. in Wahlstatt, but soon found that he had a certain distaste for the rigorous daily routine and strict discipline of military school. He excelled at sports and all feats of balance and physical prowess that he attempted however, and soon earned himself a reputation for being quite reckless due to the constant stunts he was known for pulling.

Revered by his friends for every sort of daredevil escapade imaginable, an important quality for anyone destined to pilot one of the stick and tissue paper flying machines of his era, our future aviator entered the Armed Service in 1911, although not yet as a pilot. Serving first as a Cavalry soldier, and becoming an officer only a year later.

When World War I broke out, our subject was still busy playing horsey, but the disease had began to take hold. For every time young Manfred heard the drone of an "aeroplane" passing overhead, he was overcome with excitement. At this point however, our young friend doesn't even know how to tell the difference between a German aircraft and one possessed by the enemy, let alone how to fly one. Later he would discover that German planes were marked with a cross, and enemy planes with a circle, or Roundel. An important discovery for sure, for soon he'd need to know that information in order to not be a secret weapon for the enemy.

Eventually ending up in the trenches of France, Manfred soon became bored by the endless days of just sitting around waiting for nothing to happen. When sneaking off hunting wild boar lost its appeal, he sent a strongly worded letter to the Commanding General saying that his talents were being wasted, and that he wished to be reassigned to a post with a little more action. In May of 1915, his wish was granted.

The very next day, he'd take his first ride in one of the glorious flying machines he'd been watching as they droned overhead, and from that first terrifying and rather disorienting flight, he knew that his destiny was forevermore to be controlled by stick and rudder. Serving for a time as an observer and navigator on reconnaissance planes, and later as a gunner on one of the larger twin engine battle planes which he affectionately called "The Apple Barge". Manfred had many close encounters with death, but still no taste of what it felt like to man the controls of one of the beasts. Fearing that the war would be over by the time he'd completed his requisite 3 months of training to become a pilot, he was content to continue his current assignment of a Cavalryman observer, attached to the Flying Service.

On October 15th, of 1915, that was all to change however. Upon meeting a rather insignificant looking Lieutenant named Boelcke on a train, Manfred struck up a conversation and soon learned that the man was a fighter pilot. A fighter back then, to a German such as Manfred anyway, was a Fokker, and although primitive by modern standards it was a far cry up the performance and agility ladders from the Apple Crate who's guns he had been manning. From that moment on, he was determined to make pilot, and take command of a Fokker of his own. After only 25 training flights, was ready for his first solo venture into the wild blue yonder. As it turns out, he was indeed ready for that first solo flight, and make that flight he did . . . . . it was the landing that didn't turn out so hot. 2 days later, with passionate resolve and a different airplane, Manfred completed that solo flight and started on his way to being one of the world's most famous legends of aviation.

He managed his first kill on the 26th of April, 1916. A French Nieuport biplane fell victim to the haphazard machine gun that he'd fastened to his two seat training plane, he had not yet acquired for himself his beloved Fokker but he hadn't long to wait. Soon after the news of his prowess in shooting down the Nieuport, he and a friend were given the priveledge of sharing one of the greatest technological marvels of the time, the venerable Fokker DR I Triplane.

With a top speed of 115 MPH, and a climb rate unlike anything else of its time, it could easily outrun or outclimb any opponent likely to be encountered. By using three wings as opposed to the customary two of the era, the wingspan could be shortened thus increasing the roll rate. Aircraft of this time period were definitely not strong enough to withstand very hair raising aerobatics, but the increased roll rate translated into the ability to turn, and just as importantly, stop turning much faster than the French, American, and English planes that it was designed to pursue. This would prove to be one of Manfred's favorite maneuvers in combat. When he would get an enemy plane on his tail, he'd pull his Fokker into an ever tightening circle in which his opponent could do nothing but follow him in a two airplane dance to the death. Neither could fire at the other since there was no way to get on target while turning so tightly, but when his enemy's craft would attain too high of a G loading, it would snap stall, stumbling and falling out of the sharp turn floundering for airspeed and the precious control that it would bring. The speed at which the controls would again become effective was seldom attained by enemies of this pilot however, since as soon as the enemy craft bagan to falter, Manfred would then simply whirl his more agile Fokker around and send the unlucky chap to his maker.

When his friend, who flew the Fokker in the afternoons as opposed to Manfred's morning shift, managed to get shot down in it over enemy territory, Manfred was issued a Fokker of his own. "It climbed like a monkey, and maneuvered like the devil" he was quoted as saying about the three winged aviation legend. The third time he flew it however, the finicky old Oberursel engine, (a notoriously unreliable German copy of the French made, rotating cylinder LeRhone) which had so amazed him upon his first sight of one, sputtered and died immediately after takeoff, forcing him to set down in a field. The resulting forced landing was a far cry from graceful, and although he survived mostly unscathed, his beloved Fokker was basically reduced to so much rubble.

He'd get another however, several more actually, until he found himself in the one that even those with no penchant for aviation whatsoever could likely pick out of a crowd, or at least they could if it still existed. The one painted bright red, as if to mock the inaptitude of the enemy airmen who went skyward attempting to hide in camouflaged planes with the 80 previous victories of Manfred remembered, and an insatiable thirst for his blood in revenge for their fallen comrades.

80 victories. This was by far the most enemy planes shot down by any single fighter pilot, before or since.

CORRECTION: As Jay Stevens has pointed out, this statement is not true. While Manfred did indeed shoot down more enemy planes than any pilot before him, his record has since been beaten, although not during the 1st World War. In WWII however, Erich Hartmann of the German Luftwaffe, was credited with shooting down 352 planes from the cockpit of his Messerschmidt Bf109-G6 fighter while flying on the Soviet front. Thanks for the clarification Jay, and I apologize for the misstatement.

On the fateful Sunday morning of April 21, 1918, Manfred's aerial reign of terror was finally ended. As he pursued a British pilot by the name of Wilfrid May, fellow Brit Roy Brown spied an opportunity while Manfred was thus engaged and took it. When the guns of Brown's trusty Sopwith Camel finished hurling lead at the unsuspecting German airman, Manfred reached the end of his reign over the skies of Europe in a trail of smoke, and a ball of fire. Stories would be told and embellished. A legend would grow. Songs would be written about him, and various things related and grossly unrelated would be named after him, but Manfred Von Richthofen . . . . . AKA: The Red Baron, would fly no more.

What the hell is the significance of all this rubbish you ask? Just hang on a minute, keep reading, and I promise that it'll all make sense soon enough.

Now let's jump ahead a few years to 1967. It was in this year that one particularly ingenious fellow, one who's invention I'm quite fond of actually, managed to invent the world's first fully proportional radio control equipment. His name was Phil Kraft, and to this day antique Kraft radios still circulate around in estate sales and online auctions, many of them still functional although I doubt that anyone accustomed to the fineries of modern equipment would want them for anything other than a conversation piece. Nostalgia just ain't what it used to be after all.

Now Mr. Kraft needed a model in which to test his new invention, but rather than convert one of the existing free flight or control line offerings of the time which would've been far too heavy after adding the necessary equipment which at that point in history was about as light as a featherweight shot put and comparable in size, he decided to design his own so that he could keep the weight to an absolute minimum. What he came up with, was a simple wing and square fuselage affair with rounded tail surfaces designed more for gentle but somewhat spirited flight characteristics over anything else.

Although it was never really designed as such, it loosely resembled a Fokker Eindecker, an early German monoplane.

Since it was regarded by many to be quite ugly, and since it was made out of sticks, and since it basically resembled a stick, the name Ugly Stick, or Das Ugly Stick to pay homage to its WW I German visual cues, was born.

As RC equipment advanced by leaps and bounds over the coming years, and modelers began demanding more and more aerobatic performance out of their planes, the original Ugly Stick design was changed a little here and there, but still remained true to its "simple yet effective" roots, and amazingly enough they still remained . . . . period. The plane was designed strictly for its flight characteristics, not to look like any particular aircraft, but since the plane did indeed loosely resemble the aforementioned Fokker Eindecker, it was only a matter of time until one was covered in a loose translation of the final color scheme favored by the infamous Red Baron: Mostly red, with white stripes trimmed in black from the leading to the trailing edge of the wing, adorned by black crosses.

At that point, a monster was born.

Offered as kits and ARFs by several manufacturers over the years, Sticks as they've come to be called are still sold in a multitude of versions, as are plans for the modelers that prefer to build their planes from scratch. Sticks, Ugly Sticks, Das Ugly Sticks, Das Plas Sticks, Big Sticks, Giant Sticks, Ultra Sticks, Mini Ultra Sticks, plus a multitude of copies by other names altogether flooded the market for decades, and they still do to this day. Famous for their predictable flight characteristics and moderate aerobatic ability, hardly a modeler out there hasn't owned at least one stick in his life or a variant thereof.

Many RC pilots, myself included, regard them as an excellent 2nd plane after an aspiring pilot has become proficient with a basic trainer. With a little aptitude, and some help from an experienced pilot, I see no reason why a lot of beginners couldn't skip the first step and just start out with a Stick and spare themselves the agony of getting bored with a trainer and not having the money or time to move up to something more advanced and capable right away. They fly a little faster than the average trainer, but nothing that shouldn't be manageable with a little experience on a modern simulator and some back up by someone with some know how on the other end of a trainer cord. The part that's still somewhat endured in spite of all of the various variants however?

The Red Baron's color scheme.

Now I'll finally get to the point of this not so little history lesson. I proudly present my homage not only to Herr Von Richthofen, but also to one of the most fun and versatile RC models ever conceived: The Ugly Stick. I pay this tribute with another one of the most fun and versatile RC models ever conceived: The Mugi Evo. Believe me, it took far longer to lay out this color scheme than it did for you to read this post. The 3600 rpm/volt brushless motor strapped to the back of this bad boy says that not only does it look better than my last one, it'll haul ass like a fresh fucked fox in a forest fire. I'd be extremely happy to match the top speed of the Fokker DR I from which its color scheme was pilfered. 115 MPH? Not likely, but as soon as the weather allows, we'll find out. Long live the Baron.

There, now aren't you glad you spent all that time reading this?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

He's At It Again!

That's right folks, my good friend Wulfgar is once again hosting the Montana Weblog Awards. At this point, he's taking nominees in several categories, so be sure to get over there, follow his simple instructions, and nominate your favorite bloggers. You can nominate 3 contestants in each of the categories, just 3, no more, like I said, simple instructions, and every category that gets at least 3 nominees will be eligible for the final vote. This was a lot of fun last year, it requires an enormous effort on Rob's part to keep track of all of the votes, and I long for the taste of victory. Nominate someone, you know you want to.

Especially me.

Nominate me.

I need all the help I can get.

So far the only nomination I've seen is for the Popular Culture category, and if there's one thing I despise it's popular culture. Considering my lackluster blogging efforts of late, I'd probably be lucky to win "Montana's Least Updated Blog", so I guess I'd best quit bitching and take what I can get.

So how about this weather we're having? Has anyone else gotten actual real life frostbite on their nutsack yet? OK, I haven't gotten frostbite on my nutsack, but I know I've been close a time or two. Warmth please, this sucks, what else can I say? I'd go flying but there's regretfully no deicing trucks stationed at Amend Park, and I don't even want to think about how brittle coroplast would get in this kind of cold. Ever seen a Mugi Evo shatter like glass? Neither have I and although it may be cool to watch, I'm not going to be the poor sap to stand out there and make it happen. If anyone else would like to give it a try though, let me know. I'll sit in the cab of my truck with the heater on and take pictures.

Speaking of pictures, I'm sure that anyone that's been reading this blog since its inception is rather disappointed at the the lack thereof this year. Last hunting season I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to take several pictures of local wildlife, and in turn post them here. This hunting season was a total flop however. A lack of time, coupled with a lack of ambition, coupled with a waning interest in hunting in general teamed up to make this hunting season basically nonexistent for me. There was a time when I virtually lived for hunting season, but that time has long since passed. Anymore, my interest in hunting, like my interest in most things, seems to ebb and flow from year to year. This was one of my off years, we'll see what happens next year. I am planning on spending at least a little time with my son this winter in pursuit of wascawy wabbits however, so we'll see how that pans out.

I've always enjoyed hunting smaller game moreso than the big stuff anyway. Rabbits and birds aren't nearly as much work to drag out of the woods, and they're mighty tasty too I might add. In Montana at least, there's still no season or limits on rabbits either, so your hunting is limited only by the size of your freezer. I also tend to spend more time humping the boonies when I'm after smaller game, which makes for a much better hunting experience in general. I'm smart enough to know my physical capabilities, which aren't all that great to be honest. Hey, I can admit it. When hunting big game I tend to find myself sticking fairly close to roads and trails since I know myself well enough to know that quartering an elk and making four or five trips over 20 miles of rough terrain is far outside of my physical limits. I've been known to cover a lot of ground when in pursuit of critters that are small enough to carry and not even notice that they're there however. Lord knows I can use the exercise, and any time spent in the outdoors is better than the best time spent at work in my book. Yep, time to polish up the .22's and warm up the bunny pot methinks.

To be honest, I just have too many hobbies, and my feeble little brain only seems to be able to concentrate on one at a time. Fishing gear, boats, 4 Wheelers, motorcycles, snowmobiles, guns, model airplanes, RC cars, tools, boxes of pieces parts, CB radios, motorhomes, tents, other odds and ends camping gear, junk cars and pieces thereof, this is gonna be the mother of all yard sales if I ever get tired of tripping over all of this shit and decide to sell out. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is fun, but it's also awfully expensive. Did I just mention one of those alphabet soup diseases that those in the psychiatric community love to toss around? Oops. I really should go to a psychiatrist some day, really. By the time they got done listing off all of the letters for all of the disorders that I probably have, likely myself and the shrink would both wind up wearing hug me coats and sitting in a pink padded room. At least it would be warm . . . . and the drugs . . . . . aaaaaaah the drugs. Fuck medicinal marijuana, I want some medicinal harder stuff.

With that, I think I'll solicit a little audience participation. How about a top ten list? Here's mine.

Justin's Top Ten Songs For Which There Is No Stereo On Earth Loud Enough To Play Them Properly.

10 - Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train - Ozzy invented loud, he's gotta be in here somewhere.

9 - AC/DC - Highway To Hell - You should see the looks you get from your mom's church friends when you drive by with this one cranked up, especially when you've got a skull and crossbones painted on the hood of your truck.

8 - Skid Row - 18 And Life - If you think I play it loud now, you should've heard it when I was 18.

7 - Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit - Why do all of the really cool rock singers die of overdoses? Maybe it takes a lot of drugs to make great music.

6 - Mudvayne - Happy - Did I say something about a pink padded room?

5 - Alice In Chains - Man In The Box - Eternal truths set to a kick ass beat, what's not to love?

4 - Offspring - Gone Away - And to think that this is a love song. Just proves that you don't have to be a flaming wimp to love someone.

3 - Queen - Fat Bottom Girls - Fat girls are like mopeds. Everybody wants to ride one, they just don't want their friends to find out.

2 - Dire Straits - Money For Nothing - Even better if you know the story behind how Mark Knopfler came up with it. One of my all time favorites.

And the winner is . . . . . Envelope please . . . . . .

1 - Motley Crue - Girls, Girls, Girls - This one needs no explanation, just crank it the fuck up and toss up some devil horns you pussy.

There, I showed you mine, now you show me yours. I'm going to the hobby shop, this fucking ice cube has to melt sooner or later, best be ready for it when it does.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Keeping A Low Profile

I picked up two packages at the Post Office the other day. One of them was a box from a Mr. Anthony Lewis of Coos Bay, Oregon. Anybody know this guy? ;)

Anyway, I open the box and what do I find inside? Four jars of the most delicious, home canned, albacore tuna I've ever layed taste bud upon. Mmmmmmmmm . . . . . . . . tuna! (sm)

Thanks Tony, my fish craving is almost satisfied for awhile once again. As soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers taper off a bit, it's fishburgers all around, LOL. Were you still interested in a Coroplast glider? I think I may just have something figured out, and enough extra pieces to toss it together. ;)

The other box was the reason why I've not been doing too much blogging lately, well that and the fact that I've been too busy working to spare any valuable sleepy time sitting in front of a computer. I've been looking for one of these things for months, ever since one of my flying buddies told me about them. At one time they were going on ebay for several hundred dollars, but luckily the supply has caught back up with the damand and Toys R Us and Radio Shack both have them for less than $50. Originally, they were $29.95 all over the place but they sold out almost immediately. I got mine off of ebay before I knew that anyone local had them in stock, or at least they did a few days ago. These things are loads of fun, not very controllable but with a little practice they can be maneuvered rather effectively, and best of all I can fly it in the house when the weather's shitty like it is right now. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Picoo Z, quite possible the coolest flying toy since the frisbee.

Indoor Fun With The Picoo Z Micro Heli
Video sent by raginredneck93
That's all I've got for you all right now. I think the Picoo Z is just about charged back up, and I've got all the parts cut out for two more Mugi Evos. One of these two is going to be the lucky recipient of a 3600 RPM/volt brushless motor, and a rather ingenious color scheme that my friend Mark helped me come up with. I haven't decided what I'm going to do with the other one yet, but at this point it's going to be ready in case I need a spare. I'm considering pulling the brushed power system off of the first one and just using it for a sloper, and putting that motor and speed control on one of the new ones. Stay tuned for more pics and videos.

P.S. - There's a really cool video of some Mugi combat action on Ralpho's Putfile page from last week, so go check it out!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Calling All Trolls, The Elections Are Over, Come And Get It

So has anybody switched to this new Blogger Beta thing? Every time I log in it asks me if I want to, but then it takes me to some page where it says that certain things might not work, and there's no way to go back, and my palms get all sweaty, and I start to shake, and this ominous foreboding comes over me, and I just. Can't. Click. On. The button. Help me out here. Will sitemeter and all that nifty jazz still work? Will my blog be lost forever? Will I get groggy, fall asleep, and wake up chained to a drain pipe in a dark spooky basement somewhere? I hate dark spooky basements, especially ones with spiders, I hate spiders.

Ok, on to other news. Since there's no recent breakthrough developments on the hunting or model airplane fronts, I'll have to find something else to wax philosophical about. How about politics? I haven't gotten myself in a heap of trouble lately, about time I set out some troll attractant. Here goes.

So the left won a sweeping victory in the elections. I wasn't surprised. With all of the BS the right has been spewing in the last six years it was about time. Now personally, I like to see a perfect 50/50 split in congress, that way the idiots are too busy bickering back and forth at each other to get anything done. All of my more politically involved readers are now gasping and looking wide eyed at their monitors in horror, but think about it. When have the greatest breakthroughs in history been accomplished? During the period at the beginning of any given industry, before the government got involved. Automobiles, computers, aviation, the internet, all of these things and more grew by leaps and bounds, made millionaires by the boatloads, and bolstered the economy of the entire nation in ways that can't even be defined . . . . . right up until the government figured out a way to tax and regulate them to death. Still we have people all over this country saying "we need to do something". Sorry folks, when it comes to the economy, the best thing we can do, is absolutely nothing. Let human ingenuity take over, it's an amazing force, but it really frosts the asses of control freaks. Quit trying to control stuff, just let it take its natural course, and you just might be surprised what comes about. I hate control freaks. We're individuals for a reason, quit telling me what to do and worry about yourself. Yeah. My Dad taught me that. He was the type that would let me get in trouble, then ask me if I learned anything. My answer was usually yes. What do you suppose I would've learned if he'd been shooing me around like an old mother hen? Every kid needs to burn himself at least once to learn what "hot" means. Guess what folks, we never outgrow that.

My Father and I have long shared similar opinions about politicians as well, we disagree on a lot of things politically, but we've never had difficulty when coming to a conclusion about politicians. They're crooks, they'll tell you exactly what you want to hear if they think it'll get them elected, and never trust one any farther than you can kick a mule. Tester is a wholesome Montana farmer from Big Sandy right? Yeah, I guess so, if you consider organic lentils a traditional Montana crop. All those pictures of him with a dog and a shotgun? Avid hunter right? While I haven't verified it, I've heard reports that a check of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks records will show that he hasn't had a hunting license in 15 years. So what? He's a poacher? If that were the case I'd vote for him in a minute, but he'd have to come out and admit it. I think it's more likely that the hunting pictures were more of a photo op than reality. Sounds a lot like John Kerry's little trip to South Dakota in the last election, it didn't fool me then, and it doesn't fool me now. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Cornhole Burns fan either, but it would be nice to see someone run an honest campaign for once. The Libertarians at least got a few percent of the vote, hey, gotta start somewhere.

If the economy sucks, the working people are suffering, elect a Democrat. They'll take a little from the rich, give it to the poor, and likely things will get better. Just don't leave them in power too long, or else they'll tax your ass to death and any benefits that they may have brought about will be used up and then some. Simple observation: Take from the rich and give to the poor works really good in those old Robin Hood stories, but in the real world it's called Communism, and it's already been proven that it doesn't work. Keep doing it long enough and pretty soon there aren't any more rich people, then what the hell do the poor people have to work for? If they know that as soon as they manage to get "rich", the government will just take it from them anyway, then what's the incentive to get "rich"? It's a hell of a lot easier to just stay poor and let the government give you everything. Next thing you know, there aren't any rich people left to take from anymore, then everything goes to hell. Doesn't it comrade? Yep, it sure does. I like the idea of giving a helping hand to those that need it, but there's a lot of people taking it, that don't need it, and sometimes the left seems all too willing to give it to them.

What's this? Has ol' Justin did a flip flop on you all? He's slamming the left? What the hell?

Don't check out just yet my right wing friends, your turn's coming. Assume the position motherfuckers cuz here it comes. How in the hell can enormous corporations turn record profits in this country, yet wages be stagnant at ten years ago levels? A lot of my friends have heard the siren's song of high paying jobs in Eastern Montana and North Dakota now that the oilfields have fired up again. Guess what Einstein, those "high paying" jobs are paying about the same as they were back in the '70s and '80s when my Dad was working out there. Still think you're making a killing? More and more companies have assumed a strict anti union stance, and rather than step in and see what the problem is, our government just turns a blind eye to it and tells us everything is just peachy. That's the Republicans for you. It's no wonder that gigantic corporations funnel money to the GOP by the truckload, the GOP is their cash cow. As long as the right stays in power, they know they can rape and pillage and keep all of the money to themselves. The left does nasty shit like raising the minumum wage and empowering labor unions, big corporations hate that, it makes them pay their slave . . . . um . . . . . workers a fairer wage. Yeah, the end of slavery didn't destroy the cotton industry like a lot of people predicted that it would, but outsourcing is sure as hell getting the job done. Find me a textile mill in this country.

I've long held the opinion that most labor unions were just coasting along pilfering money from working folks and trying to find ways to justify their own existence, but I think a time is coming when they'll need to step back up to the plate and actually pay a few dues instead of just collecting them. The only trouble is, our good friends on the right have made it far too easy for a company to just pack up and move to China for unions to be effective anymore. Factory workers go on strike? Fuck 'em, we'll move the factory to China, we were already planning on it anyway. Now that the left is back in power, we'll see if they make good on any of their promises, or if they get mired in a bunch of social bullshit and spend all their time playing "I told ya so" with the Republicans.

Here's what the left will have to do to impress me. End outsourcing now, end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home as soon as possible without throwing all of those people over there to the wolves, repeal the Patriot Act and replace it with something that still allows investigating agencies to exchange information while staying within the bounds of the Constitution, make good on your promise to further cut taxes on working people, DO NOT reinstate the death tax and don't even give me that bullshit about only effecting the rich. Most of the people hurt by the death tax are individuals and small family owned businesses, especially ranches and farms. Large companies are corporations that are owned by more than one person anyway, the death tax doesn't mean hooey to them. It seriously fucks "real people" though, get rid of it. Don't create any new wilderness, we have enough public land that doesn't do us any good. It's time to realize that the tree huggers are on the fringe. The resounding majority of Americans realize that common sense environmentalism is not only smart, but a necessity, talk to them, not the wackos. If the wackos were the majority, there wouldn't be semi loads of ATVs and snowmobiles running in convoys up and down the Interstate. Don't fuck with my public land access, it's mine, I have the right to use it, but on the same note come down like a ton of shit on anyone caught abusing it. You can bet your ass that I will, as long as you don't fence me out of it.

Pass a single Goddamn gun control law and I'll vote for every Republican on the ballot in the next election, it's time you fuckers realized that gun control is unconstitutional. If people in New York want gun control, then pass it in their state legislature, not in the federal government. I've had an ass full of having my style cramped because some gang banger in LA decides to convert his AK 47 to full auto and mow down a yard full of school kids. The gun didn't do it, the person did, and if he has the capacity to kill a yard full of school kids then his weapon of choice doesn't matter. He's the killer, not the rifle, and full autos have been illegal since the 30's, no new gun control necessary just enforce the shit you already have. Even the hard core wacky assed anti gun freaks realize that they're not likely to pass too many restrictions on hunting rifles. Trust me folks, this country boy could be a hell of a lot more lethal with a bolt action hunting rifle than these city idiots can be with a full auto. Accuracy is a wonderful tool, but I'm not a killer, that's the difference. I am a good shot though, trust me.

Here's my idea for the next election. Any candidates, or every candidate for that matter, can feel free to use this idea if they'd like. I don't even care if they give me credit for it, just as long as they do it. If I were running for office, I think the first thing that I'd do is call up my opponent and set up a meeting. Surely we'd disagree on things, but I'd just bet that if we tried, we could find a lot of common ground on a personal level. I'd suggest to said opponent that we make a public appearance, and promise to the voters that we absolutely, positively, would not resort to smear campaigns and negative ads. I'd then ask my opponent if he or she were willing to agree that neither of us air an ad on our own, in other words, both of us would appear in every ad that we put out, sort of like mini debates instead of attacks and stabs. TV ads could feature myself and my opponent sitting around a campfire, or sitting in a boat fishing, discussing our stands on the issues, not each other's personal lives, but discussing like a couple of normal folks, not like two politicians that hate each other. Maybe we disagree on taxes, maybe we disagree on the environment, but the commercial would show that even though we disagree on those issues, we both like fishing, or we both like camping.

At the end of our little exchange maybe we'd exchange a couple of "what kind of idiot are you" looks, then laugh and say something about enough politics, let's get back to fishing. As the camera panned back and the sound faded out, we'd be talking about which lure we were going to try next. It might be difficult to do when tempers start flaring and differences of opinion got out of hand, but anyone who was truly wanting to serve the public instead of their own personal agenda would be able to grin and bear it in order to present their stance on the issues and put personal differences aside for the filming of a 30 second campaign ad. There you go politicos, will any of you step up to the plate and try it out? Maybe if a few races were run that way, it'd show people that we aren't all that different, we just happen to disagree on a few issues that should not have the power to divide a nation as great as The United States Of America.

The elections are over, the Democrats won, I'll be patiently waiting to see what happens next.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Missed Me . . . . Didn't Ya?

I seem to have started a trend.

The Mugi Evo population of Billings has grown a bit since last update. I may not have the fastest, but I did have the first!

Tomorrow is election day. Be sure to get out and vote for the crook of their choice, it is our civic duty to play their silly little fucking game after all. As if the outcome isn't already decided . . . . .

There's my conspiratorial reference for this year, I can't let an election day pass without at least one, it's bad for my reputation. On one side the elections are all rigged . . . . . on the other side we have to be sure and vote or else we're some kind of lesser citizen. What's the difference? It'll all turn out the same anyway.

Sorry to be so cynical, I've just been struck with another case of writer . . . . . um . . . . . blogger's block. I'll get my sorry ass back to normal soon, right after I quit getting bombarded every five minutes by another smear ad payed for by another crooked politician or group that stands to gain something by the election of said crooked politician. Our government may suck, but it still sure as hell beats the alternative. At least we think it does. But what's to say that we don't already have the alternative? Ponder that for awhile.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Whatever You Do, Don't Look Outside

Wow, what a change in the weather. Sunday was nice except for the wind, not that it did me any good. I snuck out a little after day break and did a little flying, but thanks to my recently acquired cold from hell that was about all I had the ambition to do all day. Luckily I had the foresight to leave my more fragile aircraft at home, since my final . . . . um . . . . . landing, proved that I was a little off my game. Did you know that Mugi Evos can . . . . . um . . . . . land(?) upside down at full speed and still survive? I didn't either but I do now. Built up balsa Piper Cubs and CAP232's can't . . . . survive that is . . . . . . . they land upside down just fine . . . . . . . but they usually only do it once. Yeah, best to leave them home until my head quits feeling like it's about to explode. I did try something new with the Evo besides the aforementioned inverted landing though, check out the video.

Luckily Morgan Wood designs tough airplanes, I'll stick to his stuff until I start feeling better. If you haven't checked out the site yet, go give it a look. Turns out that he's a bit of a blogger himself. If you go to his FTE56 (Flight Training Europe) page, he's got really cool photos and journal entries from himself and his classmates at flight school in Spain. Really neat stuff, especially for an airplane geek like me. (Sticks and stones firefly, LOL) I can't wait until his newest creation is finished in kit form.

The Tea Racer is what he's calling it (he is British after all), and it's a really cool looking sort of retro pylon racer made of Coroplast and designed from the ground up for light weight and electric power, no heavy plastic gutter pipe involved like most Coro planes that were originally designed for glow power. There's a picture of one of his earlier prototypes here, he sent me a pic of what the final form is going to look like but I don't know if he'd like me to use it or not so for now anyway I'll keep it top secret. Other than a little narrower wing which effectively gives the plane a longer tail moment and I assume a little more manageable control characteristics, it's basically the same plane as the one pictured anyway.

The wider wing would be better for slow speed control, but a plane called a "Tea Racer" isn't exactly what I'd picture as a slow speed aircraft. Add that to the fact that when working with Coroplast I've found that weight tends to add up just as fast if not faster than wing area anyway, there's not a lot of benefit to going with a larger wing. Mostly you just add drag, the added weight of the additional material tends to eat up any lift benefits on these smaller planes, so I can definitely see why he narrowed the wing. He tells me that he's planning on offering it as a kit first to try to make up for the more than two years that he has invested in designing and testing it, then eventually he plans to release the free plans like he did with the Evo. If I have my way, I'll have a kit making its way across the Atlantic shortly after they become available. I think I've freeloaded off of Morgan long enough, time I ponied up and sent a few bucks his way I think. It's not everyday that we find someone as generous as he is in this hobby, or this world for that matter, where it seems everyone is out to make a buck. Actually there's a lot of stuff that I'd like to order from him, but the cost of shipping from Great Britain can get a little pricey for anything that isn't small enough to go airmail.

There . . . . that's enough advertising for today.

Why isn't there a market for snot? I've got barrels of the shit and no end in sight to the supply. So how about it? Anybody want to buy a barrel of snot?

Didn't think so.

Sorry to be so brief once again, but I seriously feel like ass. I'm gonna go have another Airborne and echinacea cocktail and go back to bed. Snow on the ground and one of our drivers is off for the week so I doubt I'll wind up with a night off. I guess if I'm going to be sick I might as well get paid for it. From what I hear, the snow's supposed to be short lived but the cold assed temps are likely to hang around for a few days anyway. Do yourself a favor and dress up like an Eskimo tomorrow night, I wouldn't advise the nude surfer costume.

Oh yeah . . . . enjoy the video. ;)

Cheap Thrills
Video sent by raginredneck93

Thursday, October 26, 2006

No Time For A Real Post Today, But I Had To Do Something

Here's a pic of my latest Mugi Evo. This one came out absolutely perfect, straight as an arrow and smooth as silk. I can't wait to see how it flies. Too bad it isn't mine, I built this one for a friend, and used the last of my Coroplast doing it. Maybe with a little luck I'll get to do the test flight, and get some more Coroplast soon so I can apply what I've learned to a new one for myself. Just a little something to chew on while I'm busy paying the internet bill. Later.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I've Renewed My Membership With PETA - People Eating Tasty Animals

I made that comment over at Rockstar Mommy's a few days ago.

Someone called me a Republican.

I can handle being called fat, I can handle being called ugly, I can handle being called a geek, but about one more person calls me a Republican and I'm liable to dot the fucker's eye for him.

What? If you're mature enough to be able to handle the idea of where your food comes from then you're obviously a right wing nut job that has a Dubya poster on your bedroom ceiling, Rush "Pussgut" Limbaugh cranked up on your stereo, and a morbid fear of those nasty middle eastern boogie men that are bound to get us any day now? Sorry, but I don't think so. Keep the petty political labels for the terminally ignorant, I don't buy into the name calling anymore, and they don't fit me. Trying to convince me to be afraid of your made up enemy is not an effective control tactic for this hillbilly, it just really reminds me of a chap named Adolph and another made up enemy that suffered terribly at the hands of tyrants. I may have no problem with harvesting my own food, but I'm most definitely not a Republican, and if I had been in the past, I wouldn't be any longer.

You know that bloody, eviscerated deer carcass that you spied yesterday? Yeah, you know the one I'm talking about. The one tied to the flatbed trailer beside the ATV that some guy was pulling behind his pickup. The hamburger that you ate for lunch looked just like that a few weeks ago.

Deal with it. I do. No GOP membership card required. Gut a deer, spoon the seeds out of the middle of a delicious acorn squash, skin an elk, peel a potato, filet a fish, slice a tomato, pluck a chicken, it's all just necessary food preparation to me and anyone that's concerned about the smell really should stuff their sniffer in a cow's innards some time. I have, and I still eat 'em, but I wouldn't advise it for the faint of stomach. Notice I didn't say whether or not I blew chow afterwards.

Why do I bring this up you ask? Well . . . because it's now officially hunting season that's why! Oh sure it's been hunting season for weeks for some folks, but I don't shoot goats, and I haven't had time to shoot any birds, and although I'm not fundamentally opposed to the idea I feel no need to sit in a tree all day with a primitive weapon with hopes of skewering my future food with an aluminum arrow. Nope, my idea of hunting is much the same as my idea of gardening. Pluck it and eat it, works for me.

This year I'm not going to get too concerned with hunting though. I bought the boy and myself deer tags, but I've decided not to set myself up for failure by forking out the bucks for an elk license again. Maybe in a year or two when I've built my vacation time back up to where I actually have time to get serious about it like I used to, but going elk hunting for a day isn't very productive unless one is extremely lucky. It's just a waste of time, effort, and fuel.

Sunday morning found us standing watch on a hayfield near Joliet. A hayfield that turned out to be loaded with deer when the sun came up. A hayfield that turned out to be about 400 yards across, with loads of deer on the far side of it when the sun came up. A hayfield that was about 400 yards across and loaded with deer until my son and a coworker's stepson fired at, and missed said deer. There weren't any deer in it after that.

I think Junior and I should've spent a little more time at the target range last summer. In his defense however, it would've been a long shot even for me, and it was damn cold. A one hundred yard shot is difficult when you're shivering like a puppy shittin' razor blades, let alone four hundred. An older, more experienced shooter is more able to shut off his or her body's reactions to things like cold or being out of breath long enough to make a clean shot, but an inexperienced kid just knows that he's cold. The kid missed plain and simple, but like I told him, there's more shame in the fact that he took the shot in the first place than there is in missing. I've always taught him that if you're not absolutely sure, just say so. I'll never chew him out for refusing to waste ammo or take a chance on wounding an animal. Half of being a good marksman is knowing your capabilities and the capabilities of your equipment, and the only way to figure out what those capabilities are is with experience. He needs some.

This year I've resolved myself to let the boy shoot a deer before I even try. No matter how frustrated I get with his inexperience, no matter how much I just want to beat him over the head with a stick, no matter how many bullets he deposits into terra firma in the general vicinity of deer, I'm not firing a shot until I have pictures of my beloved son kneeling beside a bloody carcass holding my old rifle and smiling.

Smile damn it. I don't care if you're tired. I don't care if it stinks. I don't care if you're about to puke. I said SMILE.

I'm not one of those dads that "insists" that his kids follow in his footsteps. If the boy had no interest in hunting whatsoever I can't say that I wouldn't be disappointed because I would be, but it's his choice and I'm comfortable letting him make it. If he wanted to be a ballet dancer I can't say that I'd exactly support him wholeheartedly . . . . . The fact is though, that the boy IS interested in hunting, and I would really like for him to experience the pride and sense of accomplishment that I did when I bagged my first buck. There's just nothing in the world that makes me feel manly like killing something and eating it. Call me names if you want, just don't come crying to me if you get hungry.

Most of all, my daughter is already expressing increasing interest in taking Hunter Education and going hunting with Dad as soon as she's old enough, and I can't even imagine the embarrassment a young man would feel at having his little sister shoot a deer before he did. Actually I can imagine it, my sister goes elk hunting every year, and actually brings home elk. It's not quite the same though, my sister's older than me, and she usually tosses me a few packs of elk steaks. Anyone know of a good ballet instructor?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Prepare For A Revolution!

No no no, not some hokey assed political revolution. No Mel Gibson movies will be made about this one, but it's pretty damn exciting news for anyone involved with radio controlled airplanes.

Horizon Hobby has just announced the release of the Spektrum DX7 radio system! I know, no one gives a shit, but this is actually really big news.

Didn't I just mention in response to a comment on my last post that this would likely be introduced soon? Gee . . . I must be psychotic.

For a year or so now, those of us that stick mostly to small, electric powered park flyers and micro helicopters have been enjoying the benefits offered by the Spektrum DX6 Parkflyer system. I have one myself and absolutely love it. This is a fully programmable, 6 channel computer radio system that operates on the 2.4 GHz band like wireless internet does, but it's only approved for use with smaller planes since it lacks the range of the higher powered FM systems. With the introduction of the DX7 system however, the parkflyer restriction is a thing of the past, and I wouldn't be surprised if, in a few years, every other manufacturer of RC equipment has either gone out of business, or introduced similar technology. This is truly a revolution in the industry. Besides having the range to fly everything from foamies and micro helis to giant scale aerobats and 3 meter sailplanes, the new DX7 system also includes more advanced programming features than the DX6 as well as a seventh channel to play with.

What it means is that unlike with traditional 72 mhz FM systems which have been the norm for decades, RC flyers no longer have to worry about which frequency they're on, and more importantly, they don't have to worry about someone else turning on a transmitter on the frequency that they're already using and having their plane shot down by some idiot that's too lazy to ask around as to what channel everyone's using. The Spektrum systems automatically scan all 80 channels on the 2.4 GHz band when they're powered up, and then lock on to the 2 clearest channels. That way there's always a redundant dual RF link between the receiver in the plane, and the transmitter on the ground. The 2.4 GHz band is inherently less receptive to unwanted interference and RF noise than the 72 mhz band as well, which means that no longer will a metal pushrod rattling against a metal screw head be enough to send a plane out of control as it has been in the past. This also allows a lot more freedom for modelers as to where they route servo and motor wires since in the past one had to use caution to avoid picking up interference that way as well.

As if that isn't enough security, FCC regulations require anything operating on the 2.4 GHz band to incorporate "smart" technology. What this means is that each device, be it a wireless router for your computer, a cordless telephone, or a Spektrum RC system, is assigned a GUID (Globally Unique IDentifier) code so that devices will only recognize other devices that they're designed to operate with. With a Spektrum radio, the receiver in the plane has to be "bound" to the transmitter that it's going to be used with, and once the binding process (simple 5 second procedure) is completed, that receiver will only recognize that transmitter regardless of how many Spektrum systems or other 2.4 GHz devices are in the immediate vicinity. Since there's over 4.2 billion possible GUID codes, the chances of any two being on the same one are nill to none. I've been flying a Spektrum in all of my planes except the Sky Fly for several months now, and I'm happy to report not a single glitch, these things really work.

Another neat feature of the DX7 is that it will work with all existing Spektrum equipment. The DX7 system includes the new AR7000 dual receiver for use with larger aircraft, but it will also work with the smaller AR6000 micro receivers that I have in my planes, which is big news for those of us that wish to upgrade from our DX6 systems. Spektrum receivers aren't the cheapest ones on the market, but they do compare favorably in price with the higher end FM micro receivers. From what I've been able to find out so far, the price for the transmitter, one receiver, and four large "standard" servos, or a complete system in other words, is supposed to be around $350, which is comparable to similarly equipped FM systems currently available. The DX6 system is $200 with four micro servos and one receiver, so for an extra $150 you get a lot more programming options, a 20 model memory as opposed to 10 with the DX6, and more importantly, you get a lot more aircraft options as well as the aforementioned 7th channel.

The DX7 system also incorporates a feature called "Model Match" that will not allow you to attempt to fly a plane with the wrong model selected on the screen. That way you can't try to take off with your Piper Cub if your radio is still set to fly your Mugi Evo, which is a big plus if you're scatter brained. Luckily I haven't done that yet, but I'm told that pretty much everyone does it sooner or later.

This might just be the thing that will get me to dust off one of my old glow powered planes, or at least it will if I can get my hands on one. Unless Horizon already has a warehouse full of these things, I wouldn't look for them to be too easy to find at least for the next several months. With a little luck, the supply will catch up with the demand by the time flying season really kicks into gear next spring. John and Clay are at the hobby expo in Chicago where Horizon made the release announcement, maybe with a little luck they'll bring a few back with them.

7 channels. That's enough to not only fly the plane, but add flaps, retractable landing gear, and a bomb drop. No interference, 20 model memory, 1024 resolution, what's not to love? I wants me one!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sure Glad We Did It When We Had The Chance

Looked outside today? If you haven't, don't. At least not if don't want to be depressed.


Snow predicted.


On the bright side however, I should be making some cash this week. It's illegal to pull triples in Montana during inclement weather, so when the snow starts falling my gracious employer tends to need a few more drivers, namely me. Last week's crappy forecast petered out before it ever got started, we'll see what happens this week. Maybe with a little luck it'll clear up just in time for the weekend. From the looks of the National Weather Service reports however, I'm sure not holding my breath. Oh well, I've got a backlog of airplanes that need built, I can deal with one crappy weekend before I go looney.

I have in my grubby little hands, one Hobby Lobby Mini Telemaster kit that's just begging to be modified with ailerons and tricycle landing gear, a Hobbico Flyzone free flight plane that's about half way converted to RC and mostly just waiting on some itty bitty servos that are on their way here from Taiwan or Korea or wherever they come from on the back of a piss drunk sea turtle, a GWS Pico Stick F that's scheduled to receive a reinforced wing and brushless power, possibly ailerons as well, a sort of 3D aerobat meets WWI monoplane looking Coroplast and carbon fiber creation that I've affectionately named "The Evil Little Bitch", and a 3600 kv brushless motor that's just begging to be on a 100 MPH Mugi Evo. OK, maybe 100 MPH is a bit of a stretch, but there's only one way to find out.

As I mentioned in my last post, pretty much all of the repair work is done on my current planes. After spending Saturday afternoon getting everything ready I awoke before the sun on Sunday only to find that the wind was howling like a banshee at my house. All that cussing that you heard at 6 AM? Yep . . . . that was me.

I figured that at the very least a few of the guys would be at the field planning a foray out to some hill in the boonies someplace to go slope soaring, so I tossed the Sky Fly, the Mugi, and after careful deliberation, the CAP 232 into the back seat of the big Ford, tossed my wife and daughter into the front seat, and we headed out for the field. OK, I didn't actually toss them, actually I set them down very carefully . . . the airplanes that is . . . . the wife and daughter just climbed in all by themselves. When we got there, I was extremely bummed that I didn't bring the Cub, the wind was dead calm. @$%!@#.

I hadn't seen the park that busy on a Sunday morning in ages, and most everyone there was flying something. Loads of cool airplanes, but I was so busy flying my own that I only managed to get pics and video of a few of them. My darling wife Carrie was nice enough to jump in on camera duty however, and caught some good video of some of the stuff I was too busy to worry about. Ralpho even showed up for a while, but by the time I got a chance to stop and talk to him with everything else that was going on, he was gone again. That happened to me a bunch yesterday, and I hope I didn't offend anyone, I was just busy flying since I knew it'd likely be the last good weather for awhile. I flew all three of the planes that I had along several times each, even the dastardly CAP232 which I haven't flown in over a month. It handled flawlessly and even though it could still stand to lose an ounce or two in front of the CG, the little bit of weight that I was able to shave off helped tremendously. After battling with the Cub, the ground handling on the CAP seemed exemplary, now if I'd just brought the Cub I could've found out if my modifications fixed the problem. Oh well, there's other days I guess.

The soccer players finally started moving in and taking over the park about noon, so we all headed off in our separate directions. As if we hadn't had enough socializing already, several of us sort of accidentally met up at a local cafe for lunch. It was a great way to round out the day.

Upon arriving back home, I soon found myself stuffed under the hood of a recalcitrant Chevrolet. For some reason my wife's car is not able to just break down, oh no, that'd be far too easy to figure out. Nope, this sorry little #$%!# for some reason feels the need to only have intermittent problems, the kind that will either only happen when she's driving and never show their ugly heads when I'm anywhere in the vicinity, or else the kind that could be caused by any one of a million different things so that I get to spend hours and hours scratching my big empty head trying to figure out what the hell could possibly be wrong.

After raiding my parts car for several little easy to replace tidbits I swapped out the PCV valve and the throttle position sensor to no avail. Next on my list of stuff that's likely wore out and not looking too healthy is the EGR valve, but after checking the spark plugs, running half of a compression check, spending a half hour repairing a leak in my compression tester, and then performing the other half of a compression check, I'd had an ass full of this blasted car. Before I resorted to tossing a hammer through the windshield, I grabbed the Mugi and headed for a nearby school to fire off a couple flights before dark.

Everything went smoothly until I put the Mugi back in the truck. When I set it on the seat one of the control surfaces moved, and something didn't sound quite right when it did. Upon closer examination I found that several of those eeny weeny teeny tiny plastic teeth on one of those eeny weeny teeny tiny plastic gears inside one of my elevon servos had said bye bye to the gears they were supposed to be on and set out to make their own way in the world. That's great for them, but it doesn't make my servo work worth a shit. Anyway, the Mugi is now out of commission waiting for me to replace said servo, no easy task in a Mugi I can assure you, but from the looks of the weather I've got plenty of time to get it done. The next Mugi that I build won't have cheap used servos from Ebay I can assure you. I'm just glad that it did it in the truck instead of in the air.

At any rate, here's the video from yesterday's adventure into the wild blue yonder. Be warned however that this one has some explicit lyrics involved, so don't turn the sound on if you have virgin ears. There's one plane featured in this one that I've been wanting to see fly for some time, and I was most definitely not disappointed. Oh yeah . . . . I even tossed in something that I said I wouldn't just for comic relief. Enjoy.

Winter Can Wait
Video sent by raginredneck93

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dreaming Of Calm Wind In The Morning

I worked Friday night and therefore missed out on one of what is likely the last two nice weekend days of the year for flying. The weather was beautiful this morning, and from the line of vehicles parked on our makeshift flightline at Amend Park as I drove by on the Interstate on my way back into town from Butte, quite a few of my flying buddies took advantage of it. I was really itching to get something in the air this afternoon when I woke up from my nap, but decided to concentrate my efforts on tomorrow instead. Most all of my aircraft were in need of some kind of attention, so I spent the afternoon tieing up some loose ends in preparation for what looks to be another fine day tomorrow.

  • The ground handling on the Cub sucks. There's just no other way of putting it. At first I thought it was just me and I just needed to get used to the thing, but after the utterly frightening and equally embarrassing takeoff I had Friday, I decided that something must be wrong with it. Dick has the same plane, and he says that for a Cub his ground handling is awesome, and I've never had this much trouble getting any of my other planes off of the ground. Hopefully I found the problem today. Taildraggers tend to respond favorably when the wheels on the main gear have a little toe in. That way if one wheel tries to get ahead of the other one, it turns sideways and acts like a brake pulling itself back in line and keeping the aircraft tracking straight down the runway in the process. A disassembly and close examination of my landing gear today showed that I had one wheel toed in, and the other was toed out. As a result, the whole airplane had to dog track to the left going down the runway to stay in a straight line. No wonder it wanted to ground loop so bad. After a whole lot of tweaking and measuring and retweaking and remeasuring, it now has about 3 degrees of toe in, equal on both wheels. We'll see if that makes a difference.

  • The CAP is getting mighty nose heavy. After my numerous "firm arrivals" and resulting repairs to the landing gear bracing and motor mount the CAP232 has taken on some considerable nose weight. We have a saying in this hobby, "Nose heavy planes fly poorly, tail heavy planes fly once". Actually it doesn't fly all that bad, but it has to be going like a striped assed ape to land without bouncing like a pogo stick on crack. Getting the CG back to where it's supposed to be would no doubt make it a bit more responsive as well as easier to coax back to terra firma in one piece. First I replaced the busted tail wheel to not only improve the ground handling but to add a little weight to the tail to neutralize some of the nose weight. It broke off a month or so ago, but since I haven't been flying it much since I got my Cub I haven't bothered to fix it, I just stuck a piece of tape to the bottom of the rudder to keep it from getting beat up and called it good. I put a new one on it today, as well as hogging some excess wood out of various areas ahead of the CG (center of gravity) with my Dremel. It's still a bit nose heavy, but no doubt a lot better than it was. Most of the screw holes for affixing the cowl and canopy were getting wallowed out, a little thin CA applied to them tightened the fit right back up. This is a fun little plane and I have no intention of writing it off just yet. Hopefully it'll get a little air time tomorrow.

  • The Mugi is a bitch to hand launch. I've got some video of some of my less successful attempts, I doubt I'll ever show it here. I may send it in to one of those funniest home video shows and see if I can win some cash, but I won't show it here. Let's just say it's a good thing that the Mugi is double tough. Eric has a Great Planes XPD-8 (check out the claims of only 56 MPH on the site, Eric's has been clocked at 77 on Dick's radar gun, but that isn't with the stock motor either) ducted fan flying wing that's a bitch to hand launch as well. This type of aircraft is basically overpowered as far as pitch speed is concerned, but not from a torque perspective. They can't muscle themselves up off of the ground like a 3D capable plane can, they're more about flat out speed than raw displays of power. It's sort of like trying to take off with your car in high gear, if you could get it rolling first you'd be fine, but from a dead stop it doesn't work all that great. Since the aircraft equivalent of a transmission is a variable pitch prop, which I don't have, I don't have any choice but to get the speed up somehow before leaving the ground or go to a prop with less pitch and lose a considerable amount of top speed in the process. Most flying wings don't have landing gear, but if they did they'd need a rather substantial takeoff run to get airborne. I could add landing gear, and the takeoff run wouldn't be a problem at our field, but that's a lot of weight and more importantly, drag. Most of what makes this thing so fun is the phenomenal speeds that it attains, so adding drag would be defeating the purpose. Anyway, Eric uses a piece of rubber surgical tubing to bungee launch his, but there has to be a suitable hook on the bottom of the aircraft, ahead of the CG, to attach the bungee to. The Mugi now has one, a tow hook that is, anchored to the carbon fiber internal wing spar for strength, and coming out of the belly of the beast a few inches behind the nose. Hopefully Eric is there in the morning, since he said he had an extra piece of tubing that I could have. I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

  • The Sky Fly works just fine. Like I've said over and over again, for less than a hundred bucks, it's a damn hard plane to beat! I don't get paid to brag this thing up or anything, it's just nice to find a product from time to time that's an excellent value and lives up to its claims and then some. However, if anyone at Hobbico had a few extra bucks laying around . . . . . . ;)

So hopefully it's off to the park in the morning. I hope everyone else is enjoying the beautiful weather as well, since it'll likely be a long winter before we see anything like it again. It's possible that we may have several really nice weekends before winter, but I'm not taking any chances.