The Spechtacle

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Paradise lost

I guess if you are a terrorist and you accidentally blow yourself up before you reach your target, instead of all the promised virgins you get a magazine and a sock.

Getting Ready for Santa!

The crew worked hard putting up candy canes, lights, tree at Marcia’s.

Colgate engineering gets it right

I struggle with the output of engineers every day. Our marvelous technological world is due to engineering mainly, and it is impressive. As an auto mechanic by trade, though, it seems that the manufacturer, and consumer get the better part of the deal, as all the engineering money is spent on making cars easy to manufacture, and appealing for the consumer to sit in, not so much in ease of repair.

Nonetheless, I simply can’t say good enough things about the modern toothpaste tube. Not just any toothpaste tube, but Colgate Total. It’s alright for toothpaste I guess, (I haven’t had any cavities for a long time), but it’s the engineering in the toothpaste tube that’s impressive.

I’ve grown up with toothpaste tubes since the 50’s, and they weren’t a pretty sight. Not only was it impossible to get most of the product out of them, but squeezing and rolling them up caused them to crimp, tear and eventually leak. Squeezing the tube by that time meant toothpaste coming out in at least 3 places. (That would be fine if 3 kids needed their teeth brushed at the same time,) And the tube would rust. Rust and toothpaste don’t belong on the same brush.

Toothpaste tube

Along came the 21st Century and Colgate Total. The tube doesn’t rust. and you don’t have to do any rolling of the tube to get the toothpaste out, just squeeze. When it’s used up, the tube is empty, with no rolling or anything, it just all comes out! I have no idea how they accomplish that, but it is one of life’s little joys. And the tube can stand on end, taking little space in the medicine cabinet, full or empty. The humble toothpaste tube has reached perfection.

Time to think

Recently, I joined the ranks of the unemployed. I still own a small company, but my day job has finally ended. it is kind of a bummer and kind of a relief. When you work states away from your boss, you don’t get a farewell lunch or plaque. You get a mailing address for returning all your stuff.

I do have more time to think now. Lots of time to ponder my situation, the past, the future, and everything in between.

I hear many people give their opinion of the Wall Street protests. “They want a handout” is a common phrase. If student loans are too high, it doesn’t matter. The students are the ones who accepted them. They have a choice. I hear this over and over. But it skips over the real issues of tuition costs skyrocketing, back breaking loans, and the real possibility of no job at graduation. There are so many issues like this wrapped up in the protests: Tax system unfair – lobbyists have all the power – congress is ineffectual – education costs are out of control – wall street killed our economy, but it did not kill wall street. I could go on and on.

Man, many Americans are just not sympathetic. And if they get their news from FOX, they leave their brain at the door. I just don’t think it is as simple as that.

People in these protests are mad, because they have seen too much in terms of not being fair and a lack of transparency. They have seen their vote amount to nothing. The rich wall street elite have more of a vote. The situation is not fair, and this gets to the hart of the matter. If you can afford a lobbyist, you can buy votes. It’s just that simple. If you are rich, you are insulated, perhaps. But you should at least pay a share of the taxes. A fair share. Of course, we idolize those who beat the system. Well, we did…

If Saddam would have had effective lobbyists, we would be up to our ears in cheap oil. Same with Gadaffi. We’d be swimming in it. Global warming be be damned. But no, we had to go to war. Let’s get physical.

We certainly did not need to invade Iraq. If you still cling to this idea, get help. We had two no fly zones over Iraq, so dangerous we engaged and destroyed our own helicopters on several occasions as a result of mistaken identity. We had every clandestine agency of world wide capability in there looking everywhere. Yet Saddam was creating a delivery vehicle that would hit Europe? Really? So what. Ever hear of the Tokyo fire raids in WWII? The Dresden fire raids? We now have weapons that make these bonfires look like Boy Scouts learning to make fire. We could have gone down this road instead of an invasion.

We did not need to invade Afghanistan either. Make a statement there? Yes, definitely. Something insanely ugly. But we certainly did not need to stay. Now, as soon as we leave, Afghanistan will fold like a house of cards. You heard it here first.

Anyone anywhere who understands our political system, our love of money, our self absorbed character, and our self imposed image of grandeur understands the leverage and power of effective lobbyists.

Unfortunately, you and I cannot afford lobbyists. It is beyond interplanetary for us. And we are invisible to them.

“But who will do all the research and brief our representatives?”. Gosh, maybe they could do that themselves with a staff?

Our political friends in Congress get a pretty good pension for not too much time served. Also, a majority are millionaires. If you are not a millionaire when you enter the Congress, you are almost assured you will be by the time you leave. Inside deals, with information we are not privy to, are made by our representatives daily. Ouch. How about a crumb for the little people?

Or maybe just some intelligent legislation?

Hey Circus Lady…

When I was a little boy, I stayed with my Aunt Marcy in Amelia, Ohio. She had a great big family, a cool home and big yard that went into the woods behind the house. But she wasn’t around much. She had to work away from home, leaving early, and returning home very late. I never know exactly what she was doing working so hard. A few days ago, going through old albums of my Mom’s, I discovered what she was doing. She was apparently the original Horse Whisperer for the local circus.

Just look at the eyes on that stallion. I sure would like to know what mental messages she was sending that horse…

The Shuttle and the Solar Impulse

Flying machines are radically different from each other depending on the job they have to do. You would think that flying around in air would make them all pretty much the same, more power than weight, aerodynamic and the rest. Today the next to last shuttle flight took off. Talk about power, the 3 main engines provide 1.2 million pounds of thrust and thats not counting the 2 solid rocket boosters which all push the shuttle from 0 to 17,000 mph in around 6 minutes. I don’t know what that is in horsepower but it’s a lot.

Also in aircraft propulsion news, the Solar Impulse made it’s maiden flight and landed in Brussels this week. It’s the first solar powered aircraft and is an ungainly looking thing. But it is thrifty, and uses no fuel. It’s four 10 horsepower electric engines push it along at a blistering 60 mph, a challenge to land at an international airport when the craft goes so slow. You would think high winds could give it fits, also. But it is pretty cool. Not likely to get us to the moon.

I’m torn by which one I’d rather ride in… I think I’ll take 1.2 million pounds of thrust, please.

Rockets in the Spring

When your hobby is building and flying airplanes, helicopters, and general kid/man stuff, winter is the time for preparation. It is a time when goofy ideas begin to turn into visions within our grasp.
Right now, in the Rineyville Skunkworks, we are getting ready for the next chapter of aviation. But more on that later. This is where and how it all started…

The Day of the Underwear.

In Vine Grove Kentucky, we had a little tradition.
Every 4th of July, to celebrate the birth of our great nation,
we launched a pair of underwear into outer space.

Equipment on Pad 13 (we spared no expense)


The Launch Vehicle (just like you would see at NASA)


The Payload, complete with special re-entry coating


The Flight Ain’t she a beauty! Up, Up, And Away!


Another small step for man…a giant leap for Kentucky. And,
another pair of underwear into outer space!

This year, possibly in April, we will make the aviation community cringe again. We will launch the sacred Saturn V Rocket (almost complete):


Launch it, we will, with the mighty launch controller:


And of course, the finale will be the space underwear launch (candidate yet to be chosen). We have begun construction of the launch vehicle. Stay tuned.


Afghanistan – just say no

I think I’m losing my patience as I get older. I’d rather not hear anymore about Iraq, and especially Afghanistan.

We Americans are in love with the impossible. No matter how many countries have tried in the past, whatever it is, we can surely do it. We’re Americans.

Afghanistan, in terms of what we want to do, is impossible. We have set out to transform a people. We plan to take a 4th century country, and change its culture, it’s governmental structure, it’s very technology base. We want to do this over several years, with less than 100,000 teachers (soldiers, NGOs, etc). Impossible.

In WWII, the objective was to kill the enemy, up to a point that they surrendered, or to a point where there just wasn’t too may of them left alive. We bombed Dresden, Tokyo, and other major civilian structures into oblivion. Collateral damage was off the chart. Civilian casualties were also off the charts. No more enemy, job done.

We are after Osama Bin Hidin, and his organization. We think he and it is now in Pakistan. We don’t want Afghanistan to become a terrorist staging area. So take the money we save from the war and send up a new spy satellite. Keep a few more SR-71s flying. Buy a few more Global Hawks. But don’t send more troops to chase shadows. Recruit more people into the CIA.

Western Armies are very useful. But, they are best used against other like armies. in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are more like security guards. The biggest killer, the roadside bomb and the suicide bomber, continue with success.

Western Armies are typically very good at swift large scale destruction. The typical America 4 tank platoon routinely trains to defeat 14 or more opposing weapon systems entering their engagement area, in under a few minutes. Unfortunately, this kind of fight doesn’t happen in Afghanistan.

Coaching the Afghans to do their own fighting and ruling is like going through little league with your son. He cant grow up fast enough, no matter how hard you want him to. It’ll take years, and you’ll never be finished.

Flying over the lake

Saturday, May 23rd, my Radio Control Club hosted a Float-fly at Freeman Lake, in Elizabethtown KY. Of course, we had to mount a camera to a 110 inch wing spanned float equipped airplane, and fly over the lake. Boy with toys. What can we say?

Photos at

Ghosts -OOPs

try that again after going to
you have to go to archives,
Feb 21, 2009

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