Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Despite the absolutely perfect weather, the show wasn't all that crowded. We walked around for a little bit, until we found a nice spot of shade under a C-20's horizontal stabilizer, courtesy of the good folks at VR-48. Note to air show guests: the brown stuff leaking out of the bottom of the engine nacelle is probably oil. The blue liquid leaking out of the bottom of the fuselage is most certainly not oil. You probably shouldn't be touching it. Or smelling it.
Since we were both hungry, we bought the world's most expensive hotdog and fries, and lunched to the wonderful sounds of P&W Radials and R&R Merlins. I don't care who you are, but there is nothing in the world like a P-51, wide open, at low altitude. I need a moment just thinking about it...
"Don't you want to see some more airplanes?"
"No. I'm good"
"Are you sure? I can tell you why the EA-6B refueling probe is installed at an angle. Or how thrust vectoring works."
"Nah. I just want to ride on the shuttle bus again."
Oh well, she did put up with it for over 2 hours. And we did see the Raptor demo while walking back to the bus. It may have some O2 problems, but that plane did some pretty impressive things. Also, while it may be stealthy, it sure as heck isn't silent.
At this point, you're probably wondering where all the pictures are. Honestly, I didn't really take any. You can find far better pictures of just about anything they had using the good old Google machine.
After an uneventful ride home, we found The Wife hard at work in the garden.
To be honest, there was more posing than actual digging/planting. But that's OK. Working hard is only worthwhile if you look FABULOUS while doing it. Right?
By now it was time for The Pirate to wake up from her nap, so we grabbed a blanket and some toys to spend some time in the yard. I don't know about you, but she seemed to enjoy it. A lot.
I figure this might be a good place for some gratuitous pics of the girls being cute.
A good time was had by all, and once we're well and truly done planting all the flowers, I'll put up some pictures.
* On Names:
My daughters are Aggie and The Pirate. Aggie just turned 5, and The Pirate just turned one. Their Noms du Blog are based on their initials. Aggie's are AG, and The Pirate's are, well, something pirates say. I wish they were cooler stories, like one was born in Texas, and the other was born whilst sailing the Spanish Main, but the truth is (as usual) rather mundane.
Friday, May 11, 2012
About 2 months ago, Aggie, (the elder) announced that she wanted a Richard Scarry Busytown theme for her fifth birthday party. Seeing as how I grew up reading his books too, I was thrilled. The Wife ordered all the accoutrements, and even made a Busytown cake.
It's a little hard to see from this angle, but the cake is a road shaped like the number 5. We had to sort through a lot of M&Ms for the decorating. Ate a lot of orange ones that day, my friend.
We played "Pin the Tail on Huckle" and a good time was had by all.
Aggie wasn't the only one having a birthday. The Pirate turned one, which was a big milestone, even if the birthday girl was not completely aware of what the hubub was all about.
She got some cake, but didn't quite know what to make of it.
At least she tried it, which is all we can ask.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
The Thomas A. Dixon Observation Area is part of the BWI Trail, a county-administered park and playground just to the south of Runway 33L.
I have to say, it was pretty cool. They even had a playground with slides and swings. For some reason, Aggie* (the 4 year-old) lost interest after the 7th or 8th Southwest Airlines 737 come in for a landing. In fact, this is the only picture she would allow me to take of her.
* New nicknames for the kids. Aggie is the older one, and The Pirate is the little one.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
One of the things that you learn by being in the military is that traditions mean something. They’re important. We wear swords and sabers. We get medals and ribbons. We salute. Some of these things, like the salute, are functional. They remind us of where we stand in the pecking order. That’s good in a more-or-less fully functioning meritocracy. Some are purely window dressing. Sure, my ribbon rack is a short-form resume, but the sword is only good for cutting cake and impressing the ladies.
“Oh my. It’s so… long.”
Where was I? Oh, right. Tradition.
Sometimes, traditions fall victim to economic reality. We have to do away with things because it just doesn’t make sense to spend the money. We used to have (in the Navy at least) up to four different clubs on the larger bases and stations. There was the E-Club, the Acey-Ducey Club, the Chief’s Club, and the hallowed grounds of the Officer’s Club. It’s pretty rare to find even 2 clubs these days. Oceana still has an E Club and an O Club, but that’s pretty rare. Cutbacks. As a club become less frequented, it becomes harder to justify the expense. Ergo; the “Combined Club.” All ranks welcome. We don’t discriminate.
Which has its plusses and minuses. Neither of which are the subject of this post.
As I said, I realize that there are economic realities that force us to change well-loved, nay, beloved traditions. Things we have known about for as long as we remember. Cherished parts of our collective past we are loathe to surrender. I get it. We must, on occasion, yield.
But not this.
This is not forgivable. And it’s a shame.
Cross-posted at The Lexicans.
Friday, March 30, 2012
I joined the Navy Reserve in the spring of 1999 through the Advanced Pay Grade (APG) Program. APG was for non-prior service folks to leverage life and work experience to forgo the normal 8 weeks of boot camp. The typical enlistee would see a recruiter, take the usual battery of tests, and choose a rate. The initial pay grade was dependent on education level and applicable work experience. Sometime during the first year of drilling, the enlistee would attend a 12-16 day abbreviated boot camp. If I’m not mistaken, the Navy has done away with the program, and all non-prior enlistees now attend the full 8 week boot camp at Great Lakes.
I enlisted as a Seaman (E-3) in May of 1999. I was issued my uniforms, got all my shots, and was told to report for duty the first weekend in June.
Some of you may have already seen the flaw in this cunning plan. Granted, Navy uniforms aren’t all that complicated, but can you imagine being handed a stack of clothes and being told when to show up and be expected to know what went with what? Don’t even get me started on protocol. I somehow muddled through without getting too much of an a$$ chewing before I got to APG School and was taught what jacket went with what uniform.
In any case, there was one drill weekend in that first year I remember quite well. We were wearing the old winter blues, which consisted of a black shirt, black tie, and black pants. It was known in the fleet as the “Johnny Cash”.
Did I mention that I had a cat at the time? Yeah. That’s important to the story.
So there I was, standing in line for something, and I hear a voice behind me.
LCDR: Seaman Jeopardy, do you have a cat?
Me: Yes ma’am. Her name is Hester Prynne.
LCDR: Thant’s nice. Seaman Jeopardy, do you own a lint roller?
Me: [gulp] Yes ma’am.
LCDR: Seaman Jeopardy, is your lint roller in your car?
Me: [trying to look casual while frantically picking cat hair off my uniform] No, ma’am.
LCDR: Perhaps it should be…
Me: Aye, aye, ma’am.
After that, I never left the house without a lint roller. It was the month after my cat died when I stopped carrying it with me every drill weekend.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Seeing as there's military content in the video, I feel required to mention the mistakes I saw.
1) Katy, why did you cut your hair in the bathroom? I'm pretty sure they'll cut it for you when you get to recruit training.
2) I thought we did away with bayonets. Maybe I'm wrong on that.
3) I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to talk, much less sing in formation.
There were probably others, but I was distracted by her, um, talent.
In all seriousness, my hat's off you you Ms. Perry. Nicely done.
I'd also like to add that should you ever decide on a career in the military, I'd be proud to serve under you in any position.
P.S. Feel free to look me up when you're visiting Canoe U. next month.
Friday, March 16, 2012
As of now, there have been over 1,500 comments on the "Open Thread." There have been over 150 blogs who felt it worthy to mention his passing and to memorialize him. A rundown of some of these blogs can be found here. Some of the regular commenters have set up a... well... let me just say this; "the first rule of super-secret Neptunus Lex Facebook club is that you don't talk about super-secret Neptunus Lex Facebook club." The Secretary of the Navy saw fit to personally comment on his death. The U.S. Naval Institute has pledged to preserve Lex's writings and publish the manuscript he wrote a few years ago.
The local paper in Fallon has 2 wonderful articles about Lex, that I think give a terrific insight into the community he built.
Of Friday and Saturday of last week, there were no fewer than 25 remembrance events (most a the same time) all across the country, from Bath Maine to San Diego California. The Wife and I went to the one in Lex's hometown of Alexandria. It was like meeting old friends you've never met before, if that makes any sense. There was laughter, tears, and Guinness. For strength.
*I wanted to open with a "that's what she said" line, but thought better of it. Lex probably would have liked it, though.
"The Stack" weighed in at a hair under 4.5 million pounds, and it took a lot of power to get that much mass into orbit. The fully loaded orbiter weighed 240,000 pounds, about the same as a 16"/50 Mk 7 gun barrel from an IOWA-class battleship.
That means roughly 95% of the total launch weight* was fuel to get the shuttle into orbit.
After the loss of the Columbia in 2003, NASA mounted external cameras on the External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters to monitor debris strikes during ascent. Not only did this improve the safety of the shuttle, it gives us stunning views like the one below.
The sound was re-mastered by Skywalker Sound, so I suppose George Lucas can be forgiven for some of the sins committed in the prequels. But not Jar-Jar.
* I'm well aware of the difference between weight and mass, nerd. This isn't a physics class.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
As is the custom, the Air Wing (all the planes) arrived a day or so later in what is called a "fly-on." At the end of this deployment, the air wing will depart the ship a few days prior to her arrival in Norfolk in what is not-so-surprisingly called a "fly-off."
Pretty cool plane pr0n, even if the only Hornet in the video bolters at the 2:15 mark. Yeah. I almost missed it too. Based solely on this video, it would appear that Carrier Air Wing One has one Hornet (still circling the ship), one Hawkeye, a few Greyhounds, and about 50 Prowlers. Maybe this is some sort of CHINFO disinformation campaign to lull our enemies into thinking that the "flying drumstick" is all we've got.
Or maybe scare our enemies.
Prowlers are pretty bad-ass machines, if I do say so my damn self, and the Growler is nothing to sneeze at.
In any case, ships come and go. A very good friend of mine served as a CAT Officer on the Big E back in the late 60's. Long hair, beards, Phantoms, A-3Ds, A4-s, and Spads. Shore leave in the Philippines.
When she is decommissioned, the U.S. Navy will be without a U.S.S. Enterprise either in service or in the pipeline for the first time in a VERY long while. As we dither about naming ships after people for the sake of political expediency and clout, we're losing sight of our heritage.
And that's a shame.
Friday, March 9, 2012
The video is about 30 minutes long, and if you really want to get technical about it, I haven't actually, you know, watched it. That being said, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Kony is probably not portrayed as someone you'd want to have over for dinner.
I've worked Africa issues from a number of different perspectives since late 2005, and not to sound too much like a hipster douchebag, but I was aware of this particular issue before it was hip to be.
So my question is this... Why now?
Thursday, March 8, 2012
I don't think we've changed all that much. Sure, I have a little less hair and more ribbons, but all in all, we're looking pretty good.
And we have these...Yeah, the little one is new since you were here last. I have lost more to share. Don't worry. I'll be back. In the meantime, I have to start looking for the perfect gift for the big 1-0 next year. Wikipedia says I should get her this...
What say you?
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Carroll LeFon (aka Neptunus Lex) was killed yesterday in a mishap aboard NAS Fallon. He was flying an F-21 Kfir as a contract pilot working with the U.S. Navy.
At first, I couldn't put words to my thoughts about this. The only thing I could come up with was a string of shouted expletives that did not befit a man of such eloquence and dignity. No, that wouldn't do. Not for Lex.
The regulars at his site were a family, albeit one where most of the member had never actually met. Some of them were even regular readers here, back when I was posting more often.
His talent for the written word was boundless, and his intellect razor sharp. He made all of us readers laugh, cry, get mad, and most importantly, think. I had the honor of chatting with him a few times via email, and always promised myself that we'd meet up in person next time he was in town. Next time. Sometimes, there isn't a next time.
His loss may be devastating to the milblogging community, but it is nothing compared to that being felt by his family. If you've ever read what he wrote about them, you'd know that he loved his family more than anything.
Over at his place, the "regulars" are searching for answers and dealing with the loss. Praise and sorrow abound in the comments. Join them, won't you? Read some of his archived posts. Say a prayer for his family. Leave a comment.
When your life has been enriched by someone like Lex, its almost a compulsion to do something meaningful when they're gone. Since he got me into this blogging thing, maybe that's how I can honor his memory. Start blogging again.
Today, I mourn the passing of an officer, gentleman, husband, father, and friend.