Saturday, August 26, 2006

As National Truck Driver Appreciation Week Comes To A Close . . . . .

What's that you say? You didn't know that it was Truck Driver Appreciation Week? You should be ashamed of yourself. Now go out and thank a truck driver right now you inappreciative clods. Everything you own was likely on a truck at one time or another. If it wasn't for us, all of that cheap, Chinese shit that you bought at Sprawl-Mart would either still be sitting at the sweat shop in Huang Fooey, or piled up on the docks in Seattle or L.A.

We also accept gifts. Donuts, T-bone steaks, free cups of coffee, dirty magazines, hemorrhoid cream, those nifty little chrome girlie silhouettes for our mudflaps, or anything that runs on 12 volts and plugs into a cigarette lighter will do nicely. Or better yet, just resist the urge to flip me the bird the next time you get stuck behind me in traffic and insist on dramatically flying by me as fast as you can, engine revved sky high, tires squealing, practically taking my front bumper off in an effort to get in front of me just in time to slam on your brakes for the next red light. If you do that one simple thing, then when I finally decide that I've had enough of this shit and I really don't care if I have to find a new career, I'll resist the urge to jump out of my truck at said red light and bust you on the side of the nugget with my 5 lb. stainless steel tire thumper. Savvy? I knew we'd come to an understanding.

In other news, it seems that the Sanctuary Fire has received a good old fashioned Montana ass kicking.


And Corndog says you guys don't do a Goddamn thing. Yeah right, why don't you come to Lockwood and say that, buttplug? That fire might not be the only thing in these parts to receive a good old fashioned Montana ass kicking. If you didn't want to be a Senator anymore, all you had to do was resign. Or keep your original promise, you know, the one about only serving two terms. Remember that? But oh no, you had to make an ass of yourself and the entire state of Montana, multiple times as a matter of fact. Shall we book you on the next flight back to Missouri Mr. Cornhole? If you promise to stay sober, and be nice to the flight attendants, we might not even duct tape your mouth shut before we strap you to your seat to keep you from embarrassing us any more than you already have. Bad enough we're getting overrun with out of state immigrants, the last thing we need is one representing us in Washington.

Did I just say something political? Bad Justin. I was gonna stay away from that stuff wasn't I? Oops. I've been naughty. Who wants to spank me first?

Speaking of naughty people, and people that likely enjoy a good spanking, has everybody seen this asshole that claims to have killed JonBenet Ramsey? This story is just rich. One look at this dipshit, coupled with about five words about his past, makes it quite obvious that he's a wack job of the highest order probably quite capable of committing the crime in question, but here's what I think. Although I'm probably wrong, I really don't follow this kind of stuff, I think that Mr. I'm a Weirdo probably got himself in a wee bit of trouble over there in Thailand. I can't imagine how a second grade teacher looking for a sex change operation could possibly get himself into trouble in a country with an entirely different and far less tolerant legal structure than our own, but anything's possible right?

So here's this fine specimen of a professional educator, a molder of young minds, in trouble with the law . . . . . . in Thailand. From what I've heard about the Thai prison system, the prospective of spending any time whatsoever in one of their fine detention facilities would likely be enough to make just about anyone with the presence of mind to do so instantly fess up to crimes anywhere from kidnapping the Lindberg baby to murdering Jimmy Hoffa. Let's face it folks, if it meant the difference between slowly rotting away in a damp, dark, foul smelling shithole of a prison in Thailand while shitting tapeworms and watching my teeth fall out one by one, and doing time in one of the veritable luxury hotels with fences around them that we call prisons here in the states, I'd confess to the first unsolved crime that popped into my head as long as said crime would likely win me extradition back to the good old U. S. of A. From what I've heard about this twinkle toed Tweety Bird, I don't think he'd particularly mind being some big guy's bitch. As a matter of fact, I think that's what he had in mind all along. Hey, if that's what floats his boat, lotsa luck to him.

John Ramsey's public statement is what really cracked me up though. As soon as they arrest this asshole, Ramsey goes on record talking about his late wife and how she would want everyone to reserve judgment, to not make any assumptions until this guy has been found guilty in a court of law. Yeah, I'll bet you still would have said that if you hadn't had your own balls on the chopping block back when the whole thing started, wouldn't you? This fucked up legal system of ours starts to make a whole lot more sense when you find yourself accused of a crime doesn't it? The rights of the accused are just obstacles to putting bad guys behind bars until it's you that's never going to be able to look at dropping the soap the same again aren't they? All of a sudden that whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing doesn't sound quite so ludicrous does it?

I really wonder what he would have said if he hadn't been the first suspect, I have a feeling it would have been a whole lot different. Face it buddy, anyone that would dress their six year old daughter up the way you guys did, isn't exactly in the running for the "Dad of the Year" award alright. Normal fathers just really don't want their little girls being dressed up to look "sexy", at least not until they're 35 and even then it's a stretch. Unless of course they're perverts. O.J. was acquitted too, I never said our legal system was perfect.

I'd love more than anything to see the asshole or assholes responsible for killing that poor little girl swinging from a short rope attached to a tall tree, but that case has been so tainted by law enforcement foul ups and excessive media coverage that I doubt we'll ever know what really happened. Fuck it, hang 'em all. Let God sort 'em out. Whaddya say to that Mr. "Innocent Until Proven Guilty"? Betcha would've agreed with me a few years ago.

Well folks, that's all I have to bitch about today, and I leave you now with these words of wisdom.

Never pet a porcupine.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

You'll never make your mother in law happy, so you might as well just have fun finding creative ways to piss her off.

If at first you don't succeed, look in the trash for the instructions.

If your wife catches you in bed with another woman, it will do you no good whatsoever to say that she's your sister.

And finally,

There's only one thing in the world that's worse than having the shits, and that's trying to have them quietly in a public restroom.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More On The Emeral . . . . . . Ummmm . . . . . . . . Sanctuary Fire.

The best place I've found for daily information about the fire so far, is the good old Gazoo. You can read their article here, and they have some pretty impressive pictures as well.

Since the fire has moved a considerable distance from my house at this time, and would have to burn backwards over a considerable amount of already burned timber, I figured that even with the forecast of strong South winds for this morning I was safe to go back to work last night. I did take a drive yesterday though and snap a few more pics of the fire area during the daylight. Here's what I managed to get.

A huge plume of smoke rises from the main fire. It sort of looks like a nuclear mushroom cloud. This picture was taken from Highway 87, just a couple miles from the latest area to be evacuated.

A stripe of red fire retardant marks the tops of these two hills just south of the area where the fire jumped I90. Luckily, most of the retardant hit it's mark exactly, the crews were really on the ball on this side of the fire. When we surveyed this area in the dark Tuesday night, it looked like the fire had progressed much farther to the East, past the Interstate. In the daylight however, it was quite obvious that they managed to stop the fire in its tracks shortly after it crossed the highway. Way to go fire bombers!

This picture was taken from the top of the hill on Johnson Lane, next to the big water tank. If you remember the picture that I took from here Tuesday night, this was the main part of the fire at that time. The fire has moved quite a ways to the South now, and this area is just a smoldering mess of hot spots. Helicopters toting water buckets were beating the hell out of it as I took this picture, so hopefully they've got it cooled off by now.

Other than that, not much new to report except for the fact that we seem to have jumped the shark once again. Some weren't so lucky, and many were far luckier considering how much closer the fire came to their houses than ours.

Most of all, we'd like to extend an enormous THANK YOU to all of the firefighters, pilots, the Montana Highway Patrol, the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Department, Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative, NorthWestern Energy, and anyone else that has helped with the efforts fighting this fire, protecting the residents, and maintaining order. I'm sure that I speak for all the residents of Lockwood when I say that your efforts are not unappreciated. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who's homes are still in the path of the fire, and all of those waiting to return to their homes. May they be exactly as you left them when you return.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Emerald Hills Fire Update

I would've done this sooner, but up until just a little bit ago the power was off. Shortly after I finished my last post, all went dark and stayed that way for about 3 hours. I talked to a Montana Power crew working on a nearby substation and had my suspicions confirmed, the fire had taken down a main power line interrupting service to pretty much all of Lockwood. Little by little, the area lit back up in sections but as usual the area where I live was one of the last to get the power turned back on. No problem, it's back on now and I'd much rather have a dark house than no house at all. As the sun sank slowly in the West this evening, the ominous glow just over the hill South of us was an unpleasant reminder of just how close to us this fire is.

So far the fire seems to be moving to the South and thankfully away from the Big J Ranch. I strapped a 5 gallon jug of water on the 4 wheeler just after dark and took a ride partly to see if I could get a better sense of how close the fire was, but mostly to see if any thirsty emergency workers needed a drink. All that I spoke to said that they were doing alright, and that they had people distributing supplies to them regularly. From what I had gleaned from the Gazoo article earlier I was picturing a bunch of cops standing around all day directing traffic with nothing but what they happened to have in their cars when they got the call. Even though none of the several Yellowstone County Sheriff's Department, Montana Highway Patrol, Northwestern Energy, or Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative personnel I talked to were particularly in need of my unsolicited services, they all seemed thankful that at least somebody cared enough to check on them.

No problem at all guys, and I'd like to extend a hearty Thank YOU, for doing such a good job getting this under control as quickly as possible and making sure that an already bad situation didn't turn into more of a tragedy than it already is.

This was the view looking South from directly in front of my house just as the sun went down. Too close for comfort if you ask me.

This is another picture of about the same area after dark. The fire's been flaring up like this every so often all night so far. It'll calm down to just a tiny strip of light just peeking over the hilltops, then explode into an enormous inferno when it finds another stand of dry timber to consume.

We went for a drive around midnight to survey the situation and see how it had progressed since I'd last seen it. The traffic had finally settled down to a point where the roads were no longer quite as congested as they had been when I went squeezing between cars on my 4 wheeler earlier in the evening. This is a view of the West side of the actual fire, the picture was taken from the top of the hill on Johnson Lane next to the big water tank.

This was the first picture that Carrie tried to take, before we thought to turn off the flash. The reason I posted it, was to show how much ash is falling out of the sky over the entire area. It's literally falling like snow, and at times I can barely see the yardlights across the road because of the smoke. My eyes feel like they're on fire, and almost everyone is blowing a big wad of black crud out of their noses every five minutes. The whole neighborhood is covered in a thin coat of grey ash, and the thick layer of smoke makes simply breathing a chore. We're just extremely thankful that we're still at home, smoke and all. Our prayers go out to all of those living across the highway that are currently sitting elsewhere, wondering if they still have a home.

I restricted myself to just the immediate area on my early evening 4 wheeler tour since I didn't want to get too far from home in case we needed to evacuate. Most of the blocked off access roads with the emergency personnel I was looking for are within a mile or two of my house anyway. As I mentioned earlier, we did load up and take a drive later on to see how much the fire had spread and decided to check out the area where the fire had jumped I90. Hundreds of hot spots still flickered like campfires for as far as the eye could see on both sides of the interstate, but the eye couldn't see all that far through the inky smoke that blanketed everything. We couldn't see the glow from the fire to the Northeast either, and I wanted to find out if there were a possibility that the fire could sneak around behind us from that direction, so we turned off at Pryor Creek and took the backroad over to Huntley. There didn't seem to be much action in that direction however, so hopefully the crews have been successful on that front anyway. Besides providing another potential path to my neck of the woods, there's a lot of houses between here and there, and I hate to think about how many of them could be in the fire's path should the wind shift.

Anyway, that's all I know so far. This is your favorite live on the scene roving reporter signing off.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Emerald Hills Is On Fire . . . . . Again.

This just in from the What I Think (as if you give a damn)'s breaking news department. OK, it's not exactly breaking news, but it's what I woke up to this evening. Link on title to the Gazoo story. If you really want to puke, just read the peanut gallery on this one. I simply can not believe that in a state like Montana, that people would act the way they do in the Gazoo article comments. I was so infuriated that I even sank to their level and dropped one in the soup myself. You can read what I had to say there if you'd like, I'm not going to hash it out again here.

Now if everyone will excuse me, I'm going to go back outside and watch the fire planes fly over. If you don't hear from me for awhile, you can figure that the wind must have shifted. This fire is REALLY close to my house, and we're under a standing order to be prepared to evacuate.

Actually, THIS is what I woke up to this evening.

Like I said, it's close.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Move Along Folks, Nothing To See Here, Move Along. Just Some Dumbass Pretending To Write Something Original.

Happy Monday folks.

I'll just give you all a minute to tack up a picture of me and throw a few darts at it.

OK, now I can get on with the post.

It's been so long since I had anything that even remotely resembled a real job that I almost forgot how bad Mondays suck to the majority of the populace. I don't know for how long I shall have something that resembles a real job, but my Mama didn't raise no fool. I'm taking their money while I can get it. Best not to feast too heavily lest we be not prepared for the impending famine.

Sometimes I really wish that I hadn't adopted a strict "no blogging about work" policy when I started this thing. Damn I could have some fun getting myself fired if I didn't have to earn a living. There's just some companies, and some coworkers, that really should have their asses slammed on the internet.

It's like they're begging for it, pleading, groveling at my feet like filthy, starving little street urchins saying "Please Justin, please slam my ass on the internet and expose me for the fucktard that I am, I need the world to know about my fucktardiness, it's not enough for me to wallow in my own dipshitosity. I need you to point it out for me because I'm so stuck on my own silly assed little existence that I can't even see what a flaming fucktard that I am. By the way, you got any spare change?"

But I'll behave myself . . . . . . . for now . . . . . . . at least until I win the lottery . . . . . . . then the gloves come off.

The last year and a half, since I lost the only job I ever liked (I know, whah whah quit your goddamn whining about it, it was just a job), has definitely taught me a few things however. A lot of it I already knew, a lot of it I would've known had I simply taken the time to think about it, and a lot of it smacked me upside the nugget like a rocket propelled cinder block. The one thing that it all boils down to however, is that no matter how bad you think your job sucks, or how much greener the grass looks on the other side, it's probably just an optical illusion.

More pay? Better benefits? What's the catch? There's always a catch. Been there, done that.

Pay sucks? No benefits? Then why do people stay there? There has to be something. Is it the kind of place where the profit margins aren't too high but the boss would cancel his vacation to help you move? Yep, been there too, even got the T-shirt.

Pay and benefits seem alright but nobody stays there more than a month or two? Congratulations, your job officially sucks. Probably better join the ranks and move on yourself, especially if you're female, before you have to find out the hard way that the boss is a touchy feely alcoholic pervert with bad body odor that sees himself as superior to all who consider themselves men. Been there, done that too. But I didn't drink at work and I only touched the HOT chicks. Just kidding.

All the world is a trade off. There is no black and white, only a million shades of grey. More is seldom better, there's always a happy medium. If there's more on one end, there's less on the other. Take what you get and don't waste time dreaming about more lest you get yourself into trouble, or addicted to Prozac. And a whole lot more mushy assed Dr. Phil shit. Blah, blah, blah.

Do you feel all warm and fuzzy inside now? Face it, if you come here for the advice you're one sad sack sumbitch is all I can say. Hell, it's my blog and I don't even come here for the advice. I just do this because the chicks dig it.

I did get some good news today though.

I'm cured.

Yep, I had a nasty case of (insert terrible STD here) and it's cured, no more painful oozing lesions.

Just kidding.

I haven't talked about it here a whole lot, but in 1999 I was diagnosed with the dreaded "C-word", and I don't mean Chlamydia. Let's just say that when you've just finished attending funerals for three of your cousins from the same generation as yourself, and somebody tells you that you have cancer, the first thing you do most definitely is not to start making plans for your future, unless they involve cemetery plots or cremation urns. I though my goose was cooked, but here I am, seven years later, having just received the news from my oncologist that at this point, I'm considered cured. If you're feeling the urge to congratulate me, save it. I didn't do anything different, I didn't make any profound self bettering changes, I just submitted myself to being nuked in a giant microwave every day for a few months and the rest just handled itself.

When I was first diagnosed, my doctor at that time told me that 7 years was the cutoff for my particular affliction. Stay cancer free for 7 years and you can consider yourself cured. 7 years it is, I'm now declared the winner. Too bad I've been exposed to more radiation than a typical Hiroshima survivor in the process so it wouldn't be at all unusual for some other kind of likely far more serious malignancy to pop up some time in the future, but for now, just like with my job, I'm taking what I can get and thanking God for every bit of it.

All of you people that squirrel away every penny and work every available minute in an effort to ensure yourself a comfortable retirement, please don't be offended if I don't see your reasoning. Have you ever considered the possibility that you might not live long enough to enjoy it? I have. I'll do my living today if you don't mind. Every day is a gift, and once you've looked death in the face and told him to get fucked, you start to see the value of that gift. There's no telling how many more gifts the Good Lord is going to give you, there isn't any way to stockpile them, and Mr. Reaper only takes no for an answer for so long. Trust me, it's a lot easier to have fun when you realize that you're living on borrowed time, or at least it would be if it wasn't illegal. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go and find something dangerous to play with . . . . . . . as soon as I finish this rambling assed post.

Speaking of modern medicine . . . . .

It never ceases to amaze me that we have pills to make an 90 year old get a hard on, but there's still kids dieing of leukemia. Let's face it, 90 year olds with trophy wives have money, families with little kids dieing of leukemia don't. When was the last time you heard about some new disease being cured? There's new treatments coming out every day, but when was the last time you heard about a cure.

Or better yet, when was the last time you heard about a treatment that didn't have a list of side effects that would rival the original ailment in their severity? There isn't any money in curing a disease. From a financial standpoint it just makes a hell of a lot more sense to keep stringing people along for years on end all the while dishing out buckets of high dollar pills to treat the side effects of the last bucket of high dollar pills that were supposed to treat the original ailment but instead just caused a whole host of new ailments that are likely far worse than the piddly assed little problem that started the whole thing.

And you actually believed all of those feel good pharmaceutical company ads talking about how Ubergigantic Pharmaceuticals donated 15 bottles of placebos to the AIDS stricken population of Nigeria. Did I mention that I have some swamp land for sale?

I recently had a good laugh at the expense of one of those annoying pharmaceutical ads if nothing else. The ad was for a drug to treat (not cure mind you) bladder control problems. Of course it had the token side effects disclaimer at the end listing off all of the horrible things that could happen should you choose to ingest this little bit of witch doctor voodoo.

"Hexamephrophilactapseudophedricycline may cause a rapid increase in blood pressure resulting in a horrific death by bleeding profusely out your anus in rare cases. Other more common side effects include headache, erectile disfunction, loss of hearing, loss of vision, loss of your car keys, severe anal itching, hair loss, strawberry tongue, severe ass acne, armpit warts, muffintop, underboob, (thanks to RSM for the last two), that special feeling in your seminiferous tubules, projectile vomiting, and diarrhea."

WTF? All of the other stuff aside, diarrhea?

So let me get this straight. I take a pill to help me stop pissing my pants, so now I can start shitting my pants instead? Is this really the lesser of two evils we're talking about here?

"Good news honey! I saw the doctor today about my bladder control problem and he prescribed this great new medication that's supposed to fix me right up. It sure seems to be working great so far, not a single accident all day . . . . . . . um . . . . . will you excuse me?"

"My God, what the hell is that stench? Did you shit yourself? Hell yeah I'll excuse you, and wash out your own damn shorts while you're at it you sick bastard. Oh man, you're dripping all over my carpet! Get your smelly ass out of here, damn."

"Well at least I don't have a bladder control problem anymore! Three cheers for Monstrous Pharmaceuticals!"

The whole scene ends with the happy couple standing next to each other smiling and giving the thumbs up as the brown puddle on the floor gradually gets larger.

After imagining that little scenario, my son and I thought we needed a sedative to stop ourselves from hyperventilating we were laughing so hard at the implications of the whole thing. At least until we looked at the warning on the back of the bottle.

Side effects may include dry mouth, anal seepage, blurred vision, double vision, tunnel vision, watery eyes, runny nose, leaky hose, ear hair, and an extreme tendency to swallow bullshit.

We decided to take our chances, and are now officially



Saturday, August 19, 2006

Happy Holiday!

What holiday is it you ask?

Why it's National Aviation Day, what else?

First observed in 1939, during a period known by us airplane geeks as "The Golden Age of Aviation" due to the numerous technological advances made during the period between the two world wars, National Aviation Day was started as a way to commemorate the achievements of aviation's earliest pioneers. December 17th, would have been a better day in my opinion, since that was the day in the monumental year of 19 hundred and 3 when Orville and Wilbur first ventured into the wild blue yonder in a craft that flew under its own power, but August 19th is Orville Wright's birthday. I guess poor Wilbur is just chopped liver. Maybe the people that started the holiday didn't want to compete with Christmas or something?

At any rate, if anyone wants to get me a National Aviation Day present, for the mere price of $139.99 there's this really cool Piper Cub from E-Flite . . . . . . . ;)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Another Week Shot To Hell

Just in case the posting here gets a wee bit more sporadic than it already has been, don't start thinking that I'm too stuck up to share a few good times with my good friends in the blogosphere. The reason I'm not spending quite as much time goofing around with the computer lately is because I'm luckily spending a wee bit more time making some cash to pay the bills. Due to a few changes in circumstances at work, things have picked up a bit and therefore I'll be spending a little more quality time lining my badly neglected pockets instead of having fun and writing about it. I like taking it easy just as much as the next guy but hey, we all gotta eat right?

I knew you'd understand.

When I got home from work yesterday I headed directly to Amend Park to check out the aviation action. John from Abell Hobby just finished putting together the first E-Flite Super Airliner in town, and he'd promised everyone that stopped into the shop last week that he'd be test flying it on Saturday morning. This is a cool plane, or at least I think it's a cool plane, John didn't show up much to the dismay of the ten or so guys that were there waiting for him all morning. Electric power, twin "jet" engines, scale looking landing gear with functional spring strut suspension, and loads of power to spare from what I hear that allows it to do things that it's full scale prototype could only dream of.

Ever seen a jet airliner doing loops and rolls?

Neither have I, like I said, John didn't show up. Maybe he was chicken?

I didn't make it to the field this morning since I was dead dog tired and slept in. That and I STILL don't have the CAP fixed so there really wasn't much point in going anyway, except for the fact that I likely missed the first flight of the Super Airliner. If John didn't show up this morning he'd best be ready to fly the thing in the Abell Hobby parking lot tomorrow or face being tarred and feathered by an angry mob of disapointed would be spectators. If I get a chance before he hangs it up in the shop with a for sale sign on it, I'll get some pics and maybe some video of it flying to share.

Or you could all just take up a collection and buy it for me, then I could see it fly any time I wanted!

Since John stood us up yesterday, the boy and I decided to venture out to the Flying Mustangs field and watch Crashis Clay fly his utterly enormous Extra 330. 105 cc twin cylinder engines on model airplanes tend to tickle my fancy a bit. This bad boy weighs in at almost 30 pounds, and puts on quite an impressive show with Clay bending the sticks. Just the sound of that all business power plant in the cowl is enough to make the trip out to the field worthwhile. Besides being a damn impressive RC pilot, Clay's quite the metal fabricator as well. Besides all of the products that Abell Hobby manufactures, he also makes a lot of one off stuff for his own planes including the exhaust system for this Extra. The stacato reverberations it emits are enough to make this gearhead get goosebumps.

I wants me one I do.

Besides watching Clay pull off some impressive aerobatics with the Extra in spite of a rather nasty breeze that kicked up, we helped Tracy test fire the engine on the giant Sig Rascal that he just bought. He was short one receiver crystal and his radio isn't programmed for it yet so he was regretfully unable to leave the ground with the big blue and white bird, but just seeing it run made him quite happy for now. I have to say I was impressed as well. I've flown glow powered planes with up to five foot wingspans weighing in at about 5 pounds, but I've yet to venture into the gasoline fueled 20 pound+ monsters that these guys were playing with yesterday. If you'd like to see an impressive video of Tracy's Rascal in the air, you can find one here. This was filmed a while back when John still owned it, but it is the same plane. Tracy's still busy picking off the glue that they used to attach all of that light wire, but it's a really cool video, and a really cool plane.

Like I said before, Tracy couldn't fly the Rascal yet, but Clay did brave the wind to put on quite an airshow. We showed up just a few minutes too late to witness another guy (I didn't catch his name unfortunately nor did I have the presence of mind to snap a pic of his plane) flying his recently completed electric powered pylon racer.

Picture a plane that's about a foot and a half long, with about a two foot wingspan, that flies over 150 MPH! That's actual MPH, not scale. Nobody had a radar gun handy but Dick was present for the show and he estimated that it was humming along in the ballpark of 170, and Dick knows what he's talking about. I've "flown" a similar plane on a computer simulator and let me tell you, it's a handful.

I was really bummed that I missed the flight, but with a little luck I'll get another chance. I wouldn't hold my breath for any video though if I were you. I'll try my best if I get the opportunity, but the odds of being able to actually see anything are slim to none. This is a really small plane, and it goes really damn fast. The wing loading on this plane is pretty high in a quest for less drag, so there isn't even really a way to slow it down for pictures. Motocalc, which is a computer program that we use to estimate the theoretical performance of various plane and power combinations, estimates the stall speed at about 28 MPH, so flying it anywhere under about 35 MPH anywhere near the ground is asking for trouble. Flying this plane anywhere near the ground period is asking for trouble. Most planes this small can barely hit 35 MPH wide open, if they can even get going that fast at all, and here this thing is about ready to fall out of the sky at that speed. Once again, I'm bummed that I didn't get to see it in action.

At any rate, here's some of the video that I did shoot yesterday. Sorry I didn't get too involved on the editing on this one, but time is at a bit more of a premium now that I'm working a bit more steady. Every time I put together one of these videos, I learn a few new tricks however, so just think of these last few as experiments. I elected not to add a lengthy credits section at the end of this one either, so just in case anyone is wondering my son, Nic is running the camera on all of the scenes in which my ugly mug appears, and the song I tossed in for effect is by Evanescence. Speaking of which, my Patron Blog Babe and company have a new album coming out October 3rd, so be sure to check it out. You can bet that I will.

Now I'm off to finish fixing the CAP so that I can hopefully do a little aviating in the morning or possibly even this evening if the prevailing zephyrs cooperate. Enjoy the video.

Watching The Big Boys Fly
Video sent by raginredneck93

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Congratulations! Today I'm Giving You All A Free Quickie!

Went to Columbus Sunday, flew the Sky Fly, rode some dirtbikes, visited with my good buddy Jon M. the gen-u-wine airline pilot that comments here from time to time, got to make some money last night, came home and tossed together a quick video, now you get to watch it, and I have to go to bed.

Wham, bam, thank you Ma'am, that's all I have time for today.


Play Day In Columbus
Video sent by raginredneck93

Thursday, August 03, 2006

What Do You Call A Boomerang That Doesn't Come Back? A Motor Mount For a CAP232!

I know, I know . . . . . no one in the blogosphere gives a rat's ass about my airplane even one simple little iota. Well I do damn it and it's my blog. Add that to the fact that I have absolutely nothing else to write about right now and you start to see why you're all about to be treated to yet another post featuring graphic descriptions of a busted assed miniature flying machine.

Even Orville and Wilbur had to start somewhere.

So here's the deal. The stick mount idea didn't start out so good. After sawing off most of the remains of the factory plywood motor mount, I attached the aluminum stick mount adaptor that came with my motor and started test fitting the whole contraption on the front of the plane to see how it was going to line up. At first everything looked like it was coming together nicely . . . . .

Until I tried to test fit the cowl.

The motor ended up sitting about a half inch lower than it was supposed to. Were I to reuse my battered cowl, deleted aperture and all, It might fly like that, but it looks like ass. Nope, not gonna do.

So I was once again off to see my good friends at Abell Hobby. I really should start charging these guys for advertising, maybe I could get a little of my money back anyway. After picking out the rest of the parts I needed (replacement for busted up engine cowl, replacement for bent prop hub that was determined by the FAA's post incident forensic analysis to be the actual cause of the entire disaster) and hashing out the pros and cons of various different motor mounting options involving a whole lot of cutting and drilling and filing and fitting on the part of Justin the would be aviator, John suggested an offset plastic stick mount from E-Flite that seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. After a test fit this evening I'm happy to say that said doctor knows just what to order, it fits perfectly and appears to be a good bit stronger than the old mount, without adding much if any weight. Now it's just a matter of final fitting everything together, applying a little epoxy in the appropriate places, and trimming my new cowl to fit hopefully without screwing up. In the name of light weight the molded parts of this plane are made out of a single layer of micro thin fiberglass with another layer of micro thin gelcoat applied to it for that magnificent, glossy, Turtle Wax shine. It looks great, and is reasonably durable, just a wee bit fragile if you don't handle it carefully.

The stuff is about as easy to work with as an eggshell.

Ever tried to cut an eggshell without cracking it?

Anyway, here it is with the new mount test fitted together awaiting final fitting. As you can see if you ignore the blurr and the perspective induced optical illusion of misalignment, the new mount moved the motor right back up to where it should be, but it attaches to the opposite end of the motor. As a result the motor should get a lot better airflow for cooling, but I'll have to reverse the motor shaft. I didn't happen to have an Allen wrench to fit the set screws in the house and the shaft has to be pressed gently to avoid breaking the bearings, so the final assembly will require a trip to the shop to complete the necessary modifications to the powerplant extraordinaire. It's a long walk, and I'm tired (lazy), so it'll just have to wait until morning.

If the morning happens to demonstrate an absence of severe zephyrian displacement, I may just grab a different plane and head to the field and it may have to wait a little longer. Ownership of multiple Lilliputian sized aircraft has its benefits, if I ever figure out what those benefits are I'll be sure to share that information. None of my other planes can match the CAP's performance however, so I shall not rest until it's once again certifiably airworthy, hopefully for an extended period this time.

Zooming around with the Sky Fly is alright, shooting touch and goes with the Coroplast disaster is far better than being at work, but nothing quite replaces the thrill of flying the CAP. Ease on a little throttle to taxi out to the runway, get on centerline, feed in power as I muscle the rudder to counteract the torque of that little blue power house in the nose and watch her gain speed until the tail comes up, then ease back on the stick to break the bonds of gravity and lose the drag from the wheels so the airspeed can build up just a little higher.

Then, as soon as all is right with the world, point it straight up and nail the throttle until she almost disappears from view, chop the power and lay the rudder full over for a graceful stall turn. As soon as the prop is where the tail was a second ago, corner the sticks for a death defying spin back to a dangerously low altitude. Add power, apply some elevator to level off, then toss it through a couple snap rolls (did I double check to make sure the battery was tied down solid?) before making a few passes over the runway as low as I dare, maybe inverted, maybe knife edge, maybe right side up at half throttle with a little opposite aileron and rudder thrown in for nice sideways crab like the big boys do at the airshows to give the crowd a good look at their planes.

Level the wings, firewall the throttle, ease back on the stick and concentrate on the rudder inputs necessary to fly a nice, round loop, easing off the power on the back side and coming out of it right where I went in just like the pros do. Then make a fast, high pass to the other end of the field just for an excuse to pull it straight up again, crank it through half of a vertical roll, then lay on the elevator to swing the tail up and around so she's flaming back toward mother earth at breakneck speed, pulling her back level as close as possible to the point where the whole thing started, a little trick called a Humpty Bump that's really just a creative way to turn around.

Make a bunch more passes, throwing in a roll or two on each one just to keep things interesting, maybe fly a few circuits of the field inverted, or maybe just fly around slowly enjoying how realistic she looks with nothing in the sky for perspective until the juice from the battery starts to fall off. Throttle back for the downwind, execute a 180 degree procedure turn allowing some speed and altitude to bleed off for the approach, roll the wings back level hopefully lined up with the runway. Ease back a little more on the throttle, crab her sideways a little to bleed off the last of the excess speed, add a tiny bit of elevator to set up a nice, controlled descent being sure to clear all obstacles, don't stall her now or things get ugly.

Then just at the right moment, feed in just a hair more elevator, not too much, and watch as she settles onto the asphalt, hopefully as gentle as a feather. Taxi back to my feet and let my heart slow back down before I pull out the battery and turn off my transmitter. Is another battery done charging yet?

Yeah, you might say that I enjoy flying it.

Picture compliments of Matt Chapman Airshows.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

And The Lord Said Unto The People: "Maintain Thine Altitude And Thine Airspeed, Lest The Earth Rise Up Sharply And Smite Thee"

Well once again the dastardly CAP232 is demonstrating the reason why I named it "Lucy Quipment". Actually I stole the name from a B17 that crashed in WWII, but considering the fact that on its first several flights, something always managed to fall off or break I figured the name applied nicely. Just when I thought it might change its reputation after 30 or so successful flights, it proves me wrong again. It would seem that somehow my prop got a wee bit out of balance, (likely on my last less than textbook landing it managed to firmly contact the surface of runway one eight left), and caused the motor mount to explode like a hand grenade . . . . again . . . . . I already fixed that problem once . . . . . . I guess I didn't fix it good enough . . . . . . . . maybe it's time to buy a prop balancer, and use it frequently. It's definitely time to buy a new cowl because as you can see, mine's toast. It did look kind of nifty when the thing turned loose with a helacious clatter and it started raining chunks of plywood and fiberglass out of the sky.

"Amend Park Center, this is Papa two three two requesting emergency landing on first available runway, preferrably not the one with pieces of my cowl scattered all over it."

"Roger three two, clear on two seven right."

"Uhhhhhh . . . . . Center . . . . . there is no runway two seven right."

"Three two . . . . . . there is now!"

The resulting dead stick landing was a little hair raising, but I have a little more experience with the thing than I did last time the motor mount gave up the ghost so I managed to get it out of the sky with no further damage this time. Last time the landing gear and the wing covering suffered terribly.

Hey John and Clay, did you hear that? If you don't have a cowl in stock, get on the horn to Hyperion, you'll be hearing from me in the next few days.

RC airplanes are a constant battle from an engineering standpoint. There's a constant balancing act between strength, and weight. In this case, a little extra weight wouldn't have hurt methinks, the motor mount in this thing has always left a little something to be desired and the all up weight of this plane is only about 20 ounces. At any rate, I've already got the new motor mount figured out. The original one is far beyond repair, and I never liked it anyway so I'm starting from scratch on the new one, hopefully I can outguess whoever came up with the factory version. Not likely, but the original design already has a provision for what we call a "stick mount" . . . . . . I have a stick . . . . . . it's about to become a motor mount . . . . . . along with a little bracing so we can hopefully err on the side of strength this time.

Nic got to do more flying than the old man tonight, considering that the old man's plane had a minor malfunction seconds after takeoff.

We stopped by Abell Hobby today so I could pick up a new propeller (should have actually installed it on the airplane instead of just hauling it around in that pretty little package that it came in) and he happened to spot a free flight plane that "looked pretty cool!", as he described it, and what do you know, Dad agreed! Needless to say we took it home, Dads are funny that way.

The plane is a very realistic looking P40 Warhawk, part of the Hobbico Fly Zone lineup which is the same product line that my Sky Fly comes from. Most of the Fly Zone stuff is borderline toys, not what most purists regard as "real" hobby class models, but all of it that I've fooled around with so far is excellent quality especially when one considers the price, and all are geared towards people looking for a quick entry into flying model airplanes whether they're looking for a simple foam glider, or a full blown RC trainer that may have a prayer of surviving a few crashes if one was to choose to try and teach themselves to fly. (I wouldn't advise it unless you have a LOT of room with nothing to run into. Buying a new plane WHEN, not if, you crash is the least of your worries, stuff one through the side of somebody's house or hit some innocent bystander and you'll likely find yourself in a courtroom learning the meaning of the word negligence.)

My first plane was a Hobbico Superstar .40 with a 5 foot wingspan and a glow engine, a lot bigger than most of the stuff I'm fooling with these days. Although I had an instructor, (I shudder to think how many planes I would have cracked up had I tried to go it alone) the plane provided a rock solid platform with no bad tendencies at all, and I was able to solo with it after only a few hours of instruction on the "buddy box". After that I enjoyed countless hours committing the crime of aviation with it, until on a particularly windy day (too windy to have been flying actually) I managed to run out of altitude, airspeed, and ideas all at the same time. The wreckage still occupies a place of prominence on the top shelf of our bedroom closet, much to the dismay of my beloved bride. Will I ever fix it? Not likely, but every decade or so I cannibalize it for parts, so I really see no reason to toss it just yet. Besides, it has sentimental value.

I've yet to run into anything that Hobbico hangs their name on that I would consider junk. This nifty little airplane is no exception. For 15 bucks you get the plane, (which is easily assembled and decorated to a very realistic scale appearance with the included decals in a matter of about 15 minutes), and a "charger" that takes 4 AA batteries. Just plug the charger into the side of the plane for about a minute, flip on the motor switch, give it a gentle toss into the wind and you're flying! Granted, it's a free flight plane, but it seems to be an extremely good free flight plane and we've already got it pretty much figured out how to convert one of these things to RC. Now I see that Hobbico provides the instructions for you on their website, gee, all that head scratching for nothing. If we get one of them flying along with the benefit of an RF link to our greedy little fingers, then the REAL fun begins. They have a Japanese Zero and a German ME109 in the same series, maybe I'll have to get one of those so we can have realistic looking dogfights!

The kid thinks that idea "sounds pretty cool!" as well. I'm afraid that I'm rubbing off on him, poor kid. ;)