Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Look At This Hornet Nest I Found, Here, Let Me Poke This Stick In It And See What Happens!

My esteemed fellow blogger and real life journalist, Mr. Ed Kemmick , and all of today's commenters thus far with the exception of yours truly, seem to have jumped on a very disturbing bandwagon that I see gaining steam everyday in our great state. In today's post Ed applauds the fine City of Billings in their draconian enforcement of the fireworks ban that I consider just one of the many reasons why I will have to be dragged kicking and screaming before I will ever so much as consider living within the city limits.

Now normally I would be my normal live and let live self rather than nominating myself unofficial "City Lights" critic for the day, but Ed said something with a flavor that ranks right up there with fingernails on a chalkboard in the great realm of Justinisms.

In Ed's own words, cribbed from the very post of which I speak.

"I was a serial offender myself for many years, blowing off fireworks in my front and back yards, in the alley, in the street, on the McKinley School playground, etc. My conversion to a law-abiding citizen came with the acquisition, some five years ago, of an extremely skittish dog. No, not skittish, just super-sensitive to loud noises, even distantly heard loud noises."

So let me get this straight Ed. Not only did you do it yourself but are now somehow reformed and therefore better than we who would choose to celebrate the independence of our great nation in the traditional way, but your dog's a wuss, so everybody in town should drop what they're doing and bow down before the holiness that is the Kemmick family pooch?

I don't mean to pick on Ed so bad, the comments on his post are living proof that he's not the only freedom hating old busybody in town that's so fragile as to not be able to tolerate a couple pops and cracks in the name of this once wonderful country we call the United States of America, but come on man, you're a somewhat respected journalist, you don't have to stand up and applaud the communist bastards in the name of your friggin dog for Christ's sake.

This attitude is the reason why our country is headed directly into the proverbial toilet. "I don't like it so nobody should be allowed to do it, I'm special and I'm all that matters, everyone else should bow down and kiss my ass, my dog is more important than your freedom." Poppycock.

In response to all of these people that I'm sure will fire back at me here and on Ed's blog with a whole shitload of statistics and horror stories and whatever other reasons they can muster to justify their own positions in direct opposition to freedom whether it involves fireworks or seatbelts or cigarettes or helmets or open containers of alcoholic beverages, I'd like to ask you this.

When was the last time that your, that's your own, not your cousin in Cincinnati, not somebody that you saw on Oprah, not your cousin's stepsister's uncle's former roommate's, but your very own house got burned down because of somebody horsing around with fireworks? If there's one person out there that can name a date I'll be really surprised. Even so, there's a lot of people out there total so I still wouldn't consider that good enough odds to suppress the freedom of a single American citizen in any way, shape, or form. As a very wise man once said, "Shit Happens". If I were to ever see entire blocks of our fair city ablaze on the morning of the 5th of July, perhaps then I would consider this to be a just and forthright law. Until then I'll consider it nothing but the extremely loud whining of a handful of babies that managed to get their way simply because the city spied a potential source of revenue in the form of fines.

I'm sure lots of fires get started by careless morons with fireworks every year, but I'm the type that's more inclined to ask "How many people didn't start any fires with their fireworks last year?" If an honest study were done I'm sure it would find for a resounding majority on the side of safety and responsibility, as would be the case with most all of the once common things that the "childproof the planet" crowd have succeeded in outlawing.

With that I'd like to announce the beginning of What I Think (as if you give a damn)'s official campaign to ban the eating of turkey on Thanksgiving. I fucking hate turkey so I don't think you people should be allowed to eat it and I'm important damn it. Don't say that it's different because your eating of turkey doesn't hurt me, oh no, you're not going to get away with that lame assed excuse buddy. For the next week after your little turkey slaughtering festival every place I walk into is trying to pawn off a turkey sandwich on me. You bastards don't even eat these once majestic birds, in your insatiable thirst for bloody feathers you just kill kill kill, then roast their eviscerated carcasses and leave them in the fridge to rot except for what sandwich meat you can pawn off on unwary visitors. I see right through your bloodthirsty annual death fest, and I'm going to put a stop to it. LONG LIVE THE TURKEYS!

As a side note I'm going to branch out and ban the cutting of Christmas trees because it's a horrible waste of a natural resource, that and it disturbs my goldfish, I don't know why it just does, he's sensitive. Poor little fellow goes belly up instantly the second he hears a chainsaw. Last year I had to spend a fortune on life support at the vet's office just to keep him alive until it stopped. I'd also like to ban the wearing of green on St. Patrick's day, just because I'm an asshole and I can't stand to see other people having fun, even if they are Irish.

Sound ridiculous? Goddamn right it does, now go check yourselves before we're all required to put on a helmet and a padded suit within five minutes of getting out of bed, bunch of self righteous crybaby fuckers, grow some stones and deal with it. Just because you don't like something doesn't make it wrong, and it'd be a cold day in hell when I'd use my dog as an excuse to cramp someone else's style.

Now I'm sure I've once again placed myself directly in front of a virtual firing squad of name calling and statistic spouting and blah blah blah. Go ahead, let me have it, just keep in mind that I really don't give a shit if your cousin Elmo doesn't have any fingers because he lit an M80 and held it in his hand and now the poor bastard has to pick his nose with his pinky toe, nor do I care if your poor little dog Fluffy pisses himself whenever he so much as smells burning incense.

When I was a kid I had a dog that was afraid of loud noises, guess what, he lived to a ripe old age and an astounding majority of his life was devoid of loud noises and therefore all and all he was a very happy little hound. I loved that dog, but I lit fireworks every year in honor of the groundwork that our nation's forefathers layed for us to live by, that and I really like blowing shit up. He may not have liked it, but he survived and your dog will too. If you'd piss away the efforts of people like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson because your dog's a pussy, then so be it. Just don't expect me to join you, and don't let me hear you bitching when something that you believe in gets outlawed because some other whiney bastard doesn't like it. Over the top? You goddamned right, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Kegger and barbeque at my place 4th of July weekend, bring explosives or don't bother showing up.

Let the beatings begin, the comment link is ready and waiting, you know you want to. ;)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Let's Try This One More Time

I had a whole post typed up last night, was just about to hit "publish", when my browser hung up and I lost the whole damn thing. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!

So I'll try again now that I've quit foaming at the mouth.

The other day I was coming home in the big diesel Ford when I noticed a horrible grating racket emanating from the right rear wheel, so Saturday I set out to discover the cause. Jacked it up, took off the wheel hoping for simply a dislodged doohickey somewhere in the brake that could easily be "relodged". Murphy has a law, Murphy hates me, Murphy sucks.

News flash, it's a 3/4 ton, as in full floating axles and inboard brake drums, no easy fix for me hell no, I've got to tear the whole damn hub apart. So I turn my shop upside down only to discover that I do not own one of those nifty little stamped steel 2 9/16" wheel bearing sockets necessary to disassemble the rear hub of a 3/4 ton Ford. Went to the nearest auto parts store, they had one, to the tune of 20 bucks. Nuts, I just doubled my investment in my "free" Ford pickup, oh well. Some time between my procuring of a nifty little stamped steel 2 9/16" wheel bearing socket and actually using said socket however, I somehow managed to get my head stuck in an 18 pack box of Rainier beer. Had to drink my way out, damn near drowned, it wasn't pretty. I didn't get the truck fixed Saturday as you might have guessed.

I have come to the conclusion that drinking is sort of like playing pool, if you want to stay good at it, you have to keep practicing. I took a short hiatus from both a few years back, now I'm a lousy pool player, and my once super human tolerance for alcohol is absolutely and completely gone. Take this as a lesson, if you drink, don't stop if you ever think you may want to start again, it's painful, and it makes you feel really old when a twelve pack of beer will make you hurt for two days, when you used to drink a case and a half and come back for more the next night. Just a bit of wisdom I thought I'd pass on, now back to the truck.

So Sunday morning, with my head pounding like John Henry driving steel on meth, I pulled the hub assembly off to discover that a brake spring had busted allowing the rear shoe to lodge itself sideways on top of half of the other shoe and most of the brake hardware had been riding around in the drum rendering all of it useless and bending the rear shoe all to hell and gone. The brakes looked like brand new too, too bad a 15 cent Taiwan spring had to bust and flub up the whole works. Another $120 later, I have most of the parts in my grubby little fingers, actually they're already on the truck except for the slack adjuster that I had to order. Should have that tomorrow then she'll be back on the road. Now I've just got to tackle those two leaking injectors, and see about getting the air conditioner working, oh yeah and get a new windshield because mine's not only cracked, the glue's all rotten and it's about to fall out on the hood. Is there really a such thing as a "free" truck?

Brakes aren't supposed to try to climb on top of each other like this.

And all these pieces parts aren't supposed to be rattling around in the drum either.

Murphy, go suck an egg, a big one.

So anyway, the big Ford's almost back together, which is a good thing because with it's ample back seat it has been elected as Justin's official airplane hauler. There just isn't enough room in my other truck, and the wife gets all bent when I leave her home alone on the weekends without her car. I'm starting to wish that I hadn't sold all of my vans.

One thing that I haven't been dim enough to sell yet however is my boat. I don't do a lot of fishing, but when I get the urge to go, well I've just got to go. Sort of like when you have to pee, know what I'm talking about? So while I was out in the shop working on the truck I just couldn't help but notice my boat sitting there looking all lonely and rejected, I'll have to fix that problem soon and spend some quality time with her at the lake before she starts thinking that I don't love her anymore. Boats get jealous like that and well, it isn't a pleasant sight.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to "The Old Dead Fish". It ain't much, but I bet it was cheaper than your boat. ;)

Smooth seas to ya mateys, I'm off to me bunk. AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR! ;)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Now What Did I Just Say?

Here it is folks, I don't think I was even completely done with that last post and this douchebag had to rev up his alligator mouth before even considering shifting his Mickey Mouse brain into gear. Here's the first comment I found on the list this morning.

honda boy said...

you say that people that drive hondas and put "NOS" and "TURBOS" on there car and go beat a Slutstang think there cool or fast. how about we do a little math a Slutstang has how many cyclinders and a civic has

8:15 AM

Here would be my response.

Hey douchebag,

How about instead of doing a little math, hows about we do a little reading, as in read the fucking post before you shoot off your mouth. I'm really sorry if I offended you by mentioning the word "Honda" in anything but a position of worship, but let's face it, although they are cool, they aren't fucking perfect and they most definitely aren't the fastest cars on the goddam planet. I don't care how many cylinders any engine has, it isn't a matter of the number of cylinders, it's a matter of displacement but since you obviously need to watch 2 Fast 2 Furious at least one more time to be anywhere near my mechanical prowess here's an example.

A few years ago I took a ride on a Yamaha FZR 600 crotch rocket. The thing was a friggin dog, how the hell anybody could think that thing was fast was beyond me. I guess if you just jumped off of a Vespa I could understand it, but I've ridden bikes that were fast, and that wasn't one of them.

Not too long after that I bought a KLR 600 Kawasaki dirt bike. That bike was fast. A firm handful of throttle in almost any gear would stand it right up if you weren't paying attention, and damn near dump you off the back if you were. Anybody that's ever ridden a 500 2 stroke motocross bike knows what I'm talking about, they have even more torque than my 600 thumper did.

Now why do you suppose that is? Same displacement, as in same size engine, but one had a shitload more power than the other. The reason is a little secret called reciprocating mass. See the FZR had a 4 cylinder engine, the Kawasaki was a single, so instead of having 4 little cylinders, it had one big one. What that means in layman's terms is that although the FZR could rev up a lot higher and probably make power over a wider RPM band, it took a lot more inertia to get all those pistons and rods and valves moving up and down together, so there goes all the torque right out the fucking window. There's also the charge factor, keep in mind that an engine runs by a series of finely timed explosions inside of a mechanism that's designed to harness the power of those explosions. Inside the engine of that Yamaha there were one of 4 little explosions propelling that bike forward at any given time, unlike the one big one happening every other revolution of the Kawasaki. Also take into account that in order to cram 600 cc's of air into one cylinder it needs to be about as big around as my arm, and move up and down on a stroke that's about as long as a whore's dream. Longer strokes mean more mechanical leverage on the crankshaft, and more mechanical leverage means more torque.

The point you ask? More cylinders at a given displacement translates into more horsepower, and we all know douchebags love horsepower. Fewer cylinders at a given displacement translates into more torque, and we all know that torque is actually what makes a car or bike or anything for that matter, fast, in a drag race at least. Don't tell the douchebags, it's a secret.

That FZR was obviously designed to run damn near wide open all the time, and that's fine if you're carving up a mountain road at a high rate of speed and you know enough to keep the revs in the power band. The Kawasaki on the other hand was designed to be able to shoot up hills and accelerate out of corners with the flick of a wrist, it wasn't intended to run over a hundred MPH all day, it was made to slow down when it had to, but be able to get back up to speed as quickly as possible because that's what happens if you want to make good time in the dirt.

If you happen to have a dad douchebag, you might ask him some time about back in the good old days when a lot of the cars with inline six cylinders used to run the balls off of similar cars with V8's. He'll probably just go on about how he used to whip 'em all with his Porshe powered Vespa motorscooter that he ran on jet fuel though so I'll just tell you what a whole shitload of real old timers told me. It happened, and it happened a lot, and the reason is because of what I just explained - Fewer cylinders at a given displacement is a potential for more torque, plain and simple.

The reason that a Mustang can whoop a Civic doesn't have jack squat to do with how many cylinders they have, it's far more a matter of how big the cylinders are. I can show you a 300 cubic inch engine with 12 cylinders, and I can show you an 855 cubic engine with 6, it doesn't mean shit except that the V12 can rev a lot higher, and the inline 6 has a shitload more torque.

If you're a Honda fan what you really should be concentrating on is the fact that the Honda can even give the Mustang a run for its money, because that's the amazing part. Honda has managed to extract a higher level of volumetric efficiency (you might have to watch the special features on 2 Fast 2 Furious to figure out what that means sonny) from their engines than anybody even though possible 5 or 10 years ago. Pushing a naturally aspirated engine over 100 hp/liter is no small feat, but it isn't all that uncommon these days thanks to Honda's engineers. The really amazing part is that not only can these engines make that kind of power, they get 35+ MPG doing it, and it's not uncommon for them to do it for 300,000 miles before they hatch. Next time read the whole thing instead of just seeing "Honda = anything but the most awesome car in the world" and shooting off your mouth. You just make yourself look like a douchebag.

Oh yeah, and trash the 2 Fast 2 Furious DVD, you really won't learn shit and what you do learn will probably be wrong. When you browse through copies of Sport Compact Car at Wal-Mart you might want to actually read an article or two as well, instead of just looking for pictures of hot Japanese chicks and drooling on the ugly assed 22 inch wheel ads. I recommend Dave Coleman as required reading, he's an engineer, as in he actually understands how shit works instead of just shooting off his mouth. If you can control your anger when he occasionally says something less than perfect about a Honda, (He's a Nissan guy), you just might learn something.

Monday, June 19, 2006

This One's For The Google Children

I have certainly been getting some interesting Google strings in my Sitemeter reports lately. I guess if you type out enough crap over a long enough period of time you're bound to start turning up some keywords, but when the same ones keep popping up over and over you can't help but notice. Here's a response for a few of them.

For all of the people that keep Googling "meth recipe", and "how to make meth", and other related subjects: I don't have a friggin meth recipe, if I did I'd gladly give it to you so you could graciously remove yourselves from the gene pool. If you didn't manage to blow yourselves up making the shit you'd likely kill yourselves slowly over a period of time by using it. Either way society as a whole would likely be far better off, now go find something useful to do with your time, like get a job.

For the guy that's found me for the umpteenth time by doing searches on various subjects relating to his 2-stroke weed eater: No, you can't run the son of a bitch with no oil. No, you can't use regular motor oil unless you like fouling spark plugs and basically gumming the whole works up. And NO, no matter how many fucking times you Google it the truth isn't going to change. Now go to the goddam store and get some 2 cycle oil and mix up some gas according the instructions that came with your friggin weed eater, or try to run it on rubbing alcohol for all I care. When you burn the fucker up maybe you'll go buy an electric one and accidentally weed eat the cord during a rain storm and fry your dumb ass, society as a whole would probably be better off.

Since I'm obviously in a grouchy mood this evening, I'm gonna vent a wee bit on something else that pisses me off. Hey, it's my blog right? Here goes.

Classic cars.

Am I the only person that gets pissed when I see some douchebag driving around in some nice old set of wheels that obviously doesn't deserve it? Who the hell am I to decide whether or not someone deserves a car you ask? Allow me to elaborate on how to tell if someone doesn't deserve a particular automobile.

If you pay a guy a compliment on his car, as in "hey man, nice car", and he says something lame like "oh, yeah, I love my classic". Dead giveaway, this fucker's a douchebag. He either bought the car just as you see it, or payed somebody to fix it up for him, and if he was confronted with so much as a burned out taillight bulb he'd be at the mercy of whatever sheister mechanic was lucky enough to find him first. This fuck deserves to drive nothing with more sex appeal than a Geo Metro . . . . . . a pink Geo Metro . . . . . . . with missing hubcaps . . . . . . . . . . and no radio.

A car guy will never refer to his pride and joy as his "classic", neither will a car chick for that matter because these days there's plenty of women out there that can turn a wrench with the best of 'em. A car guy knows that no automobile ever manufactured was simply called a "classic", that's a generic word for lame assed fucks that don't even know what their car is. Sure there were cars with the word "classic" in the name somewhere, like a Chevy Malibu Classic for example, but never a car just called a "classic". A dead giveaway that a guy's a car guy is when you pay him a compliment, as in "hey man, nice car", and he spends the next five minutes listing off all of the parts in it, but here's the tricky part: You have to know what you're talking about too, lest he try to bullshit you. Here's an example.

"Hey man, nice car."

"Yeah, it's a 68 Chevelle, but it's got a Porshe motor in it."

"No shit?" (as you actually fight back the urge to cough out the word Bullshit)

"Yeah, my friend in California (they're always from fucking California) built it, he's got a rod shop and that's all he does is put Porshe motors in classics (there's that word again. Douchebag alert, douchebag alert, danger, danger) for movie stars. He usually charges like a million bucks, but he built this one for Burt Reynolds and he never came and got it, so he just gave it to me."

Fight back the urge to tell this moron what a douchebag he is, he'll just call you a douchebag back and since most people wouldn't have a clue what would actually be involved in a project like that, or how counterproductive it would actually be, they'll probably believe his dumb ass and you'll be the one that looks like a monkey when it's all over. No, just let the dumbass revel in his own ignorance and drag the masses down with him. I'll tell him he's a douchebag, that way I can take the heat for you. Aren't I a nice guy?

Here's how to recognize the real thing.

"Hey man, nice car"

"Thanks, spent 5 years building her, but it was worth every bit. See, I was driving down this two lane road out near Bumfuckville, when I spotted this rusty roofline that looked like a '57 Chevy sticking up above the weeds. So I stopped at this farmer's house and asked him if he wanted to sell her. He didn't give a shit one way or the other so I went home and got my trailer and loaded her up. I didn't even look under the hood until I got home but when I did, I'll be goddamned if there wasn't the original 283, so I dumped some gas down the carb and hooked up some jumper cables and the SOB fired! So me and my buddy unloads her and rolls her into the shop . . . . . . "

He'll go on for hours if you look interested, he'll go on for at least one hour if you look like you could give a rat's ass less, but either way, you'll know this guy is the real thing, he deserves a '57 Chevy.

Here's a few BS redflags to remember, just so you don't get burned.

No self respecting American would ever put an import engine in an old American car. Not only would it be obscenely expensive and ridiculously difficult, it would be counterproductive. Most imports that are considered fast are far lighter than damn near anything of American manufacture, since speed is a product of power to weight ratio moreso than just power by itself. If you take a given engine and put it in a heavier car, you're defeating the purpose. That's why a Honda with a 2 liter 4 cylinder can often spank various older American cars with seemingly enormous V8 engines, it's not that the Honda engine has more power, it's just has a hell of a lot less car to haul around. Take that big V8, build a tube frame and convert the Honda to rear wheel drive, and drop that sucker under the hood, then you might just have something, likely a piece of shit, but at least it isn't stock.

Import fans love to talk about horsepower too. If there's anyone out there that would like an explanation of what "horsepower" means, let me know. The short version is this: horsepower means exactly dick squat when you're talking about an engine in a car. Oh it's great if you're trying to decide which engine to use to run your generator or irrigation pump, but if you want to build a fast car you should be far more concerned with torque. Horsepower is a measurement of how much work an engine can do over a period of time, torque is a measurement of how much work an engine can do right friggin now, as in when you slam the peddle to the floor and the tires disintegrate into a cloud of smoke, that's torque. Nifty high tech stuff like variable valve timing and space shuttle porting jobs and computer numeric whiz bang neato designed piston crowns can do all sorts of far out things to horsepower figures, but if you want more torque, you just gotta have a bigger engine, or cram more air and fuel into the one you got. Sorry, just the way it is.

Know your numbers. No street driven car turns 6 second quarter miles. Very very few street driven cars turn 12 second quarter miles, although the latter is at least possible. Don't let people BS you with altitude corrections either, yes cars will run a little faster at sea level because there's more oxygen in the air, but that slobbering slug that you just wasted with your VW Bug couldn't run 10's on the friggin moon, let alone sea level. Oh sure, Billy surfer dude will tell you all about how he wasted top fuelers at Pomona back in the day, but obviously something's not quite right with the Porshe power plant in his '68 Chevelle today.


There is no replacement for displacement. This is one BS red flag that will draw countless amounts of fire from wannabes. Anyone younger than about 25 will go on for days about Honda VTEC, and turbos, and nitrous (or NOS, which they pronounce as one word, another dead douchebag giveaway), but it doesn't matter. If you take a 2 liter Honda VTEC engine, and put nitrous and a turbo on it, and go waste a stock Mustang with a 5.4 liter engine, and think you're special and you just proved my theory wrong, then I'd like to present you with this douchebag award. What say we put nitrous and forced induction on the Mustang and see what happens shall we? Wanna race now? ~crickets~ That's what I thought, now go get a real engine Junior. Also bear in mind that the Mustang probably weighs a thousand or so pounds more, making your ass kicking all that much more humiliating. I'm not saying that there's no such thing as a fast import because there definitely is, I'm just saying that comparing apples to oranges is a sure sign of a douchebag. The import craze has brought about a whole new generation of douchebags, J-spec douchebags, it's what's for dinner. Tastes like chicken, smells like sushi. If your entire knowledge of all things mechanical came from watching 2 Fast 2 Furious 15 times, and looking at the pictures in an issue or two of Sport Compact Car, you'd better do your fucking homework if you want to talk turkey with me.

Here's one of my favorites, albeit I haven't ran into it in a while. Some douchebag starts telling you all about how he runs his car on jet fuel. Avgas maybe, as in airplane gas, a car will run on it but it isn't very good for it unless you have sodium cooled valves, but jets run on kerosene, or diesel fuel. Ever tried to run a gas engine on diesel fuel? If you have you know it doesn't work worth a shit, if you haven't let me assure you, it doesn't work worth a shit. If somebody tells you their car is fast because they run it on jet fuel, present them with a douchebag award. The only place their car will be going in a hurry running on jet fuel is the shityard, unless it's a diesel, in that case it probably would actually have less power than it would on regular diesel fuel, a jet engine doesn't have pistons, whole different ballgame, whole different fuel . . . . . douchebag.

I know that no one probably gives a shit about any of this, but I just felt like rambling on about nothing at all, and it's my blog, so I can, that and I just felt like using the word "douchebag" with annoying repetition. Maybe it'll get me some more interesting Google hits.

I think the ebola is starting to get to my brain.

I think I just coughed up part of my brain.

It doesn't taste good.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I'm Still Giddy

But man am I sick. Like . . . hurt everywhere and occasionally cough up something that bears a striking resemblance to a low budget movie space alien kind of sick. I think I have ebola.

I regretfully had to miss the Montana Blogger Bash tonight at Pug Mahon's. Thanks to Karen for giving me the heads up, and I would've been there had it not been for this terrible affliction of mine. I don't think we need an outbreak of ebola among Montana bloggers, that and I'm really not feeling too hungry right about now. I was really looking forward to finally meeting some of you in person too. I think my left eardrum just exploded.

I'm gonna go guzzle another gallon or two of Airborne and pop a couple Echinacea. Be sure to wash your hands after you read this, you don't want none of what I got.

Hmmmmm. That's strange tasting phlegm, will you excuse me? ;)

Monday, June 12, 2006

I'm Giddy

Update: If you're accessing this post from the link at Yellowstone Valley Aviation, please be sure to check out my most current posts. I hope you enjoy your visit, and please feel free to comment on anything that you like. Hell, comment on something you don't like if you want to. ;)

That's the only way I know to describe it. When I got up this morning I was giddy. When I arrived at the airport this morning I was giddy. While my instructor was going over the basics of flight with me on the ground, I was giddy. When we were doing the preflight I was giddy. When she had me start the engine and I screwed up and leaned it out too soon and it died I was still giddy. When she had me taxi the plane out onto the runway I was giddy. When she told me to firewall the sucker and steer it down the center of the runway until I hit about 60 MPH airspeed and then start feeding in some up elevator I was giddy. When the plane started lifting off of the ground with me actually flying it, I was scared shitless, but I was still friggin' giddy. Is it unmanly of me to be so giddy?

Sorry folks, I'm just like a little kid when it comes to airplanes, I'm just not particularly fond of riding anywhere but the cockpit, hard to learn anything that way, and I've always had issues when it comes to dieing on someone else's terms. Bouncing around with a bunch of panicking sheep in the passenger compartment of a commercial airliner isn't my idea of a good way to go, I've always been the "go down fighting" kind.

To say the least, my first time ever at the controls of a full scale aircraft was quite possibly the coolest thing I've ever done. My only regret is that I have no idea when I may get a chance to do it again. I learned so much today, and I'd give darn near anything to have another chance to apply it, oh well, unfortunately flying is sort of a rich man's game so hard to say when I'll get another chance. I've come to the undeniable conclusion however, that flying an airplane is a lot like eating Chinese food. You can do it, but a half hour later you'll want to do it again.

My instructor, Bianca at Yellowstone Valley Aviation, said she was very impressed, and that I obviously had a knack for flying and it was obvious to her that I spent a lot of time thinking about it. Maybe she was being too kind, or just doing her job and boosting my confidence, but I have to say that when we were lining up on final and I was still controlling the aircraft and waiting for her to take over, and she didn't, either I really did show her some skills, or she's got far bigger balls than me, pardon my figure of speech. I managed to mostly land the plane, I say mostly because she was running the throttle when we got close to the ground, and she'd trimmed the tail for a proper rate of descent, and I did flare out a little too soon, and she might have been monkeying with a few other things over there too but I was too busy to notice, let's say if I didn't land that plane, she did a damn good job of making me think that I landed that plane. Rather than grabbing the yoke and taking over like I figured she would though, she just calmly told me not to flare yet and pushed the yoke back forward to put us back on track then told me I had the aircraft, for a beginner like me it was looking like we were mighty close to the ground when in reality we were probably still 20 feet above the runway. We settled back to earth with a little bit of a thump, not exactly textbook but hey, I'm a beginner right? Only after we had almost completed our rollout did she take over and taxi the plane back to the tie downs. At that point, you guessed it, I was still absolutely, positively, not a question in my mind, friggin GIDDY!

I didn't get much of a chance to take pictures or video since my mind was obviously on other things, but here's a few pics that I did manage to snag.

This is the plane I flew, a 172 Cessna. I've been up in these before, but never one so shiny and new.

This is a Piper J3 Cub that was parked next to the plane I flew, like I said before, there aren't a lot of airfields around where you can't find at least one of these things. Probably one of the most recognizable icons of aviation history.

This is a 1946 Cessna 140. She's a real beauty, and Yellowstone Valley Aviation uses her for a tailwheel trainer. I'd sure like to take a ride in this old bird.

Here's a shot of Billings from the air. Bianca took over for a few minutes and let me take some pics. Sorry there aren't many, but I just couldn't wait to get rid of that camera and get the yoke back in my hands.

Here's another one from the air. You may notice that I'm sitting on the LEFT side, that's right, the driver's seat baby, am I cool or what? ;)

I spotted this Beechcraft Bonanza on my way out of the airport. Notice the For Sale sign? Now if I could just win that damn lottery.

Thanks again for the gift Carrie, it was quite possibly the most awesome thing that anyone has ever given me.

Thanks again to Bianca and Yellowstone Valley Aviation , I don't think anyone could have possibly made me feel more at ease or confident.

And yes, I'm still friggin GIDDY!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I'm Having Way Too Much Fun On Sunday Mornings These Days

OK, not really. Is it even possible to have too much fun? Nope.

There weren't a lot of people at the park this morning, and most of them were the usual suspects, so no new airplanes to introduce you to this week. But I did manage to get enough video to throw together a short clip.

The morning started out beautiful, then the wind came up all sort of suddenly like, so a couple of the guys were going to head out to a slope south of town to try a little slope soaring. I've never witnessed the feat of flying without the benefit of a motor of some type so I decided to tag along.

After completing a very impressive stationary hover landing with the CAP232 in the face of about a 15 MPH wind (why doesn't anyone ever have a video camera running when I do stuff like that?) I tossed my planes in the back seat of the big Ford and headed out in the boonies to watch John and Dick do a little sloping. Only trouble was, when we reached the slope there was no wind . . . none . . . well maybe a little . . . but not enough for slope soaring without a motor. I considered tossing the Sky Fly off of the slope and zooming around a bit just for kicks, but the rough, rocky terrain would have been hell on my landing gear when I finally decided to bring her down, so I passed. We did find something to amuse ourselves though, and we couldn't complain about the scenery, so all in all it was a mighty fun morning. Watch the video and you'll see why.

Last week's video obviously had a Star Wars theme, but this week I'm going to let you all try to guess, sort of a "look for the hook" contest if you will. Now we're not looking for a specific film this time, just the genre. I'm even offering a $50 cash prize to the first person to give me the correct answer. (see contest rules below)

Offer not valid in any of the 48 contiguous United States. Offer not valid in Hawaii or Alaska. Offer not valid in Europe or Australia. Employees, family members or affiliates of www.asifyougiveadamn.blogspot.com not eligible to participate. All answers must be submitted in writing on a Post-It Note affixed to the screen of a 52" High Definition Plasma TV delivered and set up in Justin's living room. All answers submitted by any other means will be disqualified.

Thank you for playing and good luck!

Now here's the video, this is a short one for all of you impatient people out there. Enjoy.

Charlie Who?
Video sent by raginredneck93

Now I must sleep. My beautiful wife was kind enough to help me live one of my life long dreams as an anniversary present this year. Tomorrow morning I'll get the chance to fly an airplane, but this one won't be controlled from a little box on the ground. That's right folks, I'm hanging up my toy airplanes for a day, and going out to play with the big boys. Damn that instructor must be brave. So long ya ground bound slimes. ;)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Look Out Hollywood, Here I Come!

Well here's my latest filmmaking venture. This one is 10 minutes long so it might take a few minutes to load, but I worked hard on it so watch it anyway, and don't tell me if it sucks, I don't want to know. ;)


And may The Force be with you . . . . . always.

Video sent by raginredneck93

Monday, June 05, 2006

Seether Concert Report

So we checked out the Seether concert at the 12th Planet last night and I can definitely say that I've spent more money and had a worse time. Simply put, I dig live music, and I dig Seether, so it was cool. Even more simply put, when it comes to going out for the evening, I'd rather pay to watch shitty live music, than watch "good" karaoke for free, assuming that there was a such thing as "good" karaoke. Did I mention that I fucking hate karaoke?

The show started off with Mercy Fall on stage, a band that I have to admit I hadn't even heard of until last night. It wasn't hard to tell that they had a serious case of "opening act syndrome", meaning that for whatever reason beknownst only to those who do sound work for concerts they were only allowed about as much stage presence as Seether's sound checks. I thought they did a pretty good job in spite of it though. Nice, loud, old school, long haired rock and roll just the way we like it. I was so impressed that when the lead singer came walking through the crowd selling CD's (how often does that happen?), I bought one. Hey, anybody that's willing to work that hard to make it is welcome to my extra 10 bucks. If I were him I'd probably have been backstage consuming various intoxicating substances and getting as friendly as possible with a couple of fine young ladies instead of walking around peddling CD's, but that's just me.

Next up was Evans Blue, another band that . . . you guessed it . . . I hadn't heard of until last night. Does this mean that I'm getting old? Basically the same report here, nice and loud, but if you don't know the tunes it just isn't the same. Still beats the shit out of listening to some drunk cowboy wannabe caterwalling a striking rendition of "Friends In Low Places". The lead singer was too good to walk around selling CD's though, so they didn't make any extra cash off of me like Mercy Fall did, but the guitar player did come out and chum with the crowd a bit. Maybe they have enough cash already?

Following Evans Blue we were treated to a fine performance by Faktion, FINALLY, A BAND THAT I'D ACTUALLY HEARD BEFORE! I felt 5 years younger when they started thrashing out "Take It All Away" and I actually knew the words, well at least some of them. Whew, I was getting worried there for a minute, thought I'd have to stop off for some Geritol after the show.

Finally Seether took the stage by busting straight into Fine Again and all of a sudden the oldness left me and remained only a feeling of youthful bliss. OK, that's bullshit, but it's good bullshit isn't it? Thanks to mandatory random drug tests and a total depletion of my tolerance for alcohol all feelings of youthful bliss left me years ago but by the time they rounded out the set with Remedy I was feeling pretty good for an old fart surrounded by people with purple mohawks and nose rings. Earlier in the evening I'd been making fun of the only guy there that looked older in spirit than me who was parading around in a Motley Crue T-shirt, I figured it was probably the last concert he'd gone to back in '85. I really felt like a dumb ass when the drummer for Seether came on stage sporting, you guessed it, a Motley Crue T-shirt . . . oops. Anyway, after Remedy they were coaxed back onstage for two acoustic encores and finished up with Shaun singing Broken all by his lonesome. I kept hoping that by some miraculous turn of events Amy would show up and help him out, but it was not to be. Damn, and here I figured that after meeting me the last time she was here she'd jump at the chance to come back to Billings, wrong again was me.

So if I were to offer up a review, (isn't that pretty much what I just did? Damn I'm stupid sometimes.), I'd say that overall it was a pretty damn good show. The 12th Planet isn't exactly the kind of place that I'd hang out all of the time, but as far as a concert venue is concerned it's pretty hard to beat. I don't mind paying to see a band as long as I can actually SEE THE BAND. All too often when attending shows at Metrapark, unless you want to bounce around in the mosh pits on the floor and dodge falling crowd surfers your only alternative is a spot in the nose bleeds guaranteed to have a herd of tall people in front of you that stand up for the entire show unless you're one of the first people in line for tickets. The best seats that I've ever had in the Metra were for Linkin Park and they were comparable to the worst possible view from anywhere in the 12th Planet except the shithouse.

If I had to suggest anything that could be improved it would be this: Get a fucking air conditioner! We were sitting on the upper level of the bar and it was almost unbearably hot, I had sweat literally dripping off of me by the end of the show and all I was doing was standing there watching, I can't even imagine what it was like for all of the people on the floor bouncing around and the guys on stage. But then again, I'm an old fart. Damn it hurts to say that.

It's Time For The Annual Montana State Ride

I just got this from the Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association. Every year they put on a huge ATV Jamboree called the State Ride and from what I've heard they've traditionally been a really great time for the whole family. I've never personally attended one, I generally ride my ATV in order to get away from large crowds not to be a part of one, but if large gatherings are your thing you may want to check it out.

At any rate the MTVRA does a lot to support the "war effort" when it comes to keeping the trails open, so anyone that rides should show them at least a little support as well as the FFOR and our own Treasure State ATV Association, another is the Blue Ribbon Coalition which works on the national level. The more turnout that events like this draw, the better case these groups can make when attempting to demonstrate the popularity and significance of motorized recreation.

The State Ride is usually held in a different location every year and even though I haven't done any serious riding in the Pipestone area, I have poked around up there a little and I can tell you for certain that the scenery is second to none and there's something up there for everyone from the rankest beginner to the most seasoned thrill seeker.

Anyway, just thought I'd pass the message along in case anyone is interested. Click on the pictures for a larger view, and if you have any questions contact the MTVRA.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I Looked Up Into The Sky This Morning . . . .

. . . . and there were no holes in it. So I went out and bored some myself!

Remember that video I told you about that was shot from the big Telemaster? Well I ran into Ralph and Dick at the park and found out that one of the videos that they shot that day is available here. In this one they have the camera mounted under the right wing looking out sideways, it's pretty darn cool to say the least. They were fooling around with the camera most of that morning and also shot some video with the camera pointing back at the tail, and some more with the camera strapped on top of the wing looking forward like I did, but I don't think Ralph has any of that posted yet. If I find out otherwise I'll let everyone know. This aerial photography thing is a blast. It's something I've wanted to try ever since my first flight and finally making it a reality has me pretty stoked. Now I just need a bigger plane, or a smaller camera.

I tried to get some more aerial video today, but either my battery charger shut off prematurely or I grabbed the wrong battery, because shortly after the trusty Sky Fly left the ground it started rapidly losing power. By the time I figured out that something was wrong and figured that I was going to land whether I liked it or not, the battery was almost dead and my plane and camera were coming down with all the aerodynamic fervor of a typical landscaping timber. Hobbico Sky Fly's by themselves land power off, they'll glide around all day if the conditions are right. Hobbico Sky Fly's with 5 1/2 ounces of camera strapped on top of them however, well let's just say they like "power on" landings, as in haulin' ass at about 3/4 throttle. What followed wasn't exactly pretty, but I managed to set her down without breaking anything. Actually I set her down about 3 times by the time the speed bled off enough for it to quit bouncing and it's a darn good thing I aborted the mission when I did. While attempting to taxi back to my truck the battery completely died and I had to walk out and get the plane, if it would have done that in the air things would've been a whole lot worse, as in busted camera, plane, and extremely pissed off pilot. I guess that'll teach me not to rush on the preflight inspection won't it?

I don't think this video is really worth editing, so I'll just toss it up here the way it is. Most of what you can hear is wind noise, but if you listen you can hear the motor getting slower . . . and slower . . . and yep . . . even slower yet 'till . . . bloop, throttle cut, which is when the speed control cuts the motor to save power to run the radio so the plane doesn't go out of control. I managed to get one more burst out of it which was the only thing that saved the whole mess, it wasn't going to land very nice at all with no power.

Video sent by raginredneck93

The famous Crashis Clay from Abell Hobby brought out this awesome Precision Aerobatics Extra 300. It's a real beauty both on the ground and in the air. With Clay on the sticks it's especially impressive in the air. I've got some video of him flying it, but I don't have time to edit it right now so I'll just show you this still pic for the time being. Be patient my friends, good things come to those who wait.
The full scale Extra 300, and it's derivatives, is a German made aircraft that's quite popular with airshow pilots around the world, and awesome to behold in action. If you're an airshow fan, you may have heard of Patty Wagstaff, she flies an Extra, and quite well too I might add. That and she isn't too hard to look at. ;)

Here's a pic of the coroplast disaster in the back of my truck. You may notice that I've added graphics. Remember those generic products that used to be in the grocery stores years ago with the plain, white packages and names in black letters? Well folks, this one is aptly titled "AIRPLANE", Hey, I thought it was funny.

Here's Dick's Corsair. He's the guy with the big Telemaster and numerous other examples of exquisite model aviation equipment. This one started out as a Great Planes 1/12 scale combat ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) which was intended for glow power, but Dick converted it to electric. To say this plane hauls ass would be a bit of an understatement, very impressive on a low altitude, high speed flyby to say the least, and when it climbs out and does a roll or two at the end of the field you'd almost swear that you're watching a clip from an old war movie. I've always had a soft spot for WWII warbirds, but I'm leaning a little more toward a twin engine P38, or maybe a British Spitfire with retractable landing gear. P51's are easy to find, but that's half the problem with them, the fact that they're SO easy to find. Seems that most everyone either has one, or had one at one time, and I'm more of a non conformist. I've never even considered a Corsair, but after seeing this one fly I may rethink that position. Now all we need is a scale aircraft carrier for him to land on. I'd be forced to add retracts though, belly landing is for ugly planes and planes made of styrofoam. I like landing gear.

Steve brought out his Multiplex Twinstar, which I've nicknamed the "Flying Beer Cooler". I'm not a huge fan of styrofoam airplanes, but this one flies awesome. To the best of my knowledge the little cheapo brushed motors that came with this plane only flew once, as Steve tossed them through the air into the shit can. This badboy is powered with two brushless motors, two speed controls, and two batteries. It has enough power to take off from grass, and you may notice that it's sans landing gear. Belly landing in the grass is pretty common with smaller planes since landing gear add weight and drag. Belly take offs are almost unheard of, but this plane will do it. I've got some video of this one in the air as well. Patience Grasshopper, patience.

This is Ralph's Sig Kadet. Talk about a sweet flyer. This is another one where you're best off to toss the factory motor and replace it with a brushless. From what I was told by another guy that has one, the factory brushed motor leaves a really cool smoke trail in the air when it burns up. The fact that he was pumping the juice from a 3 cell Li-po through it might have had some influence on its short lifespan however. I'm considering one of these some time in the future since I'd like to have something slow and stable for just buzzing around, and hauling video cameras! This plane is an ARF, but Kadets can be had in all sorts of levels of completion from plans to kits to completely ready to fly combos. I'm not anywhere near ready to buy another plane right now, but when I am it'll be a decision between this one and a Mini Telemaster.
Planes like this aren't really a model of any particular full scale aircraft, but they loosely resemble various high wing planes such as Piper Cubs or one of the many Cessna products. This one bears a striking resemblance to a Super Cub or a Taylorcraft.

Here's another member of Dick's flying circus, a De Havilland Chipmunk. I'm not sure who the manufacturer of this particular model is, but I can say that it flies awesome. Pretty much anything that you see Dick flying flies awesome, I think the guy could fly a slab of concrete to be honest.
Like many airshow favorites, the full scale Chipmunk started life as a British and Canadian military trainer after WWII, and later fell into favor with stunt pilots after surplus and retired models became available. Any prop driven airplane that was designed to prepare RAF and CAF airmen to fly the later model Griffon powered Spitfires and the temperamental early jet fighters is bound to have some pretty good aerobatic capabilities, and this little De Havilland was no exception.

Although I urged, begged and even pleaded, the mighty Crashis Clay wouldn't pull this bad boy out of the truck. Out at the Mustangs field is where this one aviates, it's not exactly what you'd call a "park flyer". We're trying not to peave the neighbors too bad and get booted from the park. I imagine that the 100 cc twin in this bad boy makes a little racket. That's right, I said 100 cc, I've had motorcyles with smaller engines than this plane. That's a full size, long box pickup that it's in, as in 8 foot box, yep, it's big. The wings are in the red bag laying next to it.

This is a model of an airplane called a YAK, which if I'm not mistaken was originally of Yugoslavian manufacture. Full scale YAKs were used by the Russian Military for years as a basic trainer, and their instrument panels and controls are layed out very similar to a Russian fighter jet, making the transition from the YAK to a MIG or a Sukhoi easier. These days a lot of them can be found performing in airshows around the world. All of the model YAKs I've seen do a very good job of emulating their full scale prototypes. Stable, maneuverable, powerful, and capable of any trick in the book is the norm for YAKs in any size.

Correction: This plane is actually a Sukhoi, not a YAK as I originally thought. The two are very similar in appearance and both were used as Russian military trainers. The tall bubble canopy and balance tabs on the rudder and elevator should have been a dead giveaway, but I guess I was sleeping at the switch.

Here's Eric's Clipped Wing Piper Cub peeking out from under his van. This is a fun little plane and Eric has proven it's durability time and time again. This one even got to go for a swim one time when Eric decided to try float flying. Some of the electronics didn't survive, but the trusty Cub lives on.
Cubs are a popular private plane, and there's probably more of them still flying than just about anything. A specimen or two of the trademark yellow J3 as well as the striped Super Cub can be found at just about any airfield in the country. This one is a model of the "clipped wing" variety, which was a modification performed on a few full scale Cubs that involved shortening and strengthening the wings. This made the planes capable of various aerobatic maneuvers, a feat that isn't advised in a factory model.

Here's another of Eric's toys, a Miss Hyperion flying boat, made by the same manufacturer as my CAP232. That's right, it looks like a boat, but it flies. It can take off from water, grass, snow, you name it. Eric says it's a handfull, but you'd never know it to watch it with him on the sticks, it looks like it flies great except for being a little hard to see. Since it doesn't have wings, it's a little hard to tell which way it's pointing in the air.
This one doesn't have a full scale counterpart, however I have seen video of a few Unlimited Hydroplanes that attempted to fly, with disastrous results of course.

Anyway, there's a rundown of how I spent my morning. Tonight I'll be checking out the Seether concert at the 12th Planet so if you see me tomorrow, be sure to talk really loud. Later on Amigos.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I'd Like To Tell You A Story

Many moons ago, back about 1988 to be approximate, there were two young boys about age 14. Now these two boys had just recently met, but they were already becoming pretty good friends, and they had one very important thing in common. They were broke, and it sucked.

So these two boys did what any two industrious young fellows should do when they're broke and it sucks, they pilfered their parents' lawnmowers and set out to earn some cash. Little did one of the boys know that the events that were to follow would change his life forever.

The two young entrepreneurs spent the better part of the morning knocking on doors and pushing their lawnmowers up one street and down another, making a few bucks here and a few bucks there, and after a few hours they found themselves near one of the young lad's homes, prompting him to offer the other young lad a cold glass of whatever was in the fridge. Now this was an extremely tempting offer being that it was mighty hot, and they'd been hauling those lawnmowers around for hours, so the other young fellow gladly accepted.

When they arrived at the boy's house they were greeted by his mother who gladly offered up a glass of Kool Aid, but that wasn't all. They were also greeted by the prettiest little red haired girl the one boy had ever seen. Now of course the other boy wasn't too enamored with her since she was his sister, but the first boy however. He absolutely couldn't take his eyes off of her, and after they left, he couldn't stop thinking about her.

Time went on and eventually the boy and the girl became friends, then they became a little more than friends, then they became just friends again, which is the way of young boys and even younger girls.

After a couple years of this the young boy moved away, but every time he'd almost stop thinking about her, he'd see her somewhere and it would all start over again. He just couldn't chase that darn girl out of his head. For several years this went on, and during this time both the girl and the boy had many experiences, some good, some bad. They made mistakes, they got their hearts broken, but each in their own separate worlds.

Then, one fateful evening in 1993, June 1st to be exact, one week after the boy graduated from high school, those two world collided in spectacular fashion when they ran into each other at the graduation of a mutual friend. They started talking, they kept talking, as a matter of fact they kept talking almost all damn night and by the next morning something special had began to take place, they had decided to do what the young boy had figured they should have done that day after the glass of Kool Aid, but the young girl hadn't been in agreement until June 1st, 1993.

No they didn't do that, get your minds out of the gutter ya friggin perverts. That came later.

They decided that they were finally going to try to be more than friends, possibly for good.

Well, over the course of the next several years they moved in, moved out, they'd break up, then they'd make up, they fought almost constantly and basically made everyone around them's lives miserable and often even their own, but in spite of it all they knew that they loved each other, so they figured out how to make it work. In 1997, on June 1st of course, they finally took the leap and got themselves hitched. Pretty stupid right?

Well miraculously enough, the fights (which had already been tapering off for some time, these two weren't total morons) virtually ended over night. Of course they had a little spat from time to time like all married people do, but no more did they end by one of them walking out and proclaiming the whole thing over for good only to start over again the next week. Nope, these two were in it for the long haul, and they're still quite happily married to this day and only fight when they need an excuse to make up.

While I can't speak for the little red headed girl, the young fellow (now a grown man, most of the time) is still just as smitten with her to this day, and every time he looks into her eyes he's that happy go lucky 14 year old boy again without a care in the world except how he's going to impress that pretty little girl with the curly red hair and win her heart.

I love you Carrie, just as much today as I ever did, and I always will.

Happy Anniversary