dxmachina: (Thunderbird 1)
I suppose I ought to post something, if for no other reason than if I don't, it'll really screw up my first lines of each month meme in December.

The air show was this weekend, so yesterday I headed on over to Quonset to view the festivities.

Words and Pictures... )
dxmachina: (Books 04)
Spent a long weekend in Burlington, MA, riding my bike, eating terrific barbeque, and attending Readercon 21. The weather was really muggy, but otherwise I had a pretty good time. I drove up Friday morning, so I missed Thursday night's session, which looked like it had some interesting stuff. Anyway....

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Friday Sessions... )


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Saturday Sessions... )


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Sunday Sessions... )

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Other... )

 
dxmachina: (Runforit)
It was frelling 85° in the house when I got back from my bike ride this evening, so I dragged the a/c up from the basement and installed it in the back room window. I gotta say, there's nothing like lugging a forty pound air conditioner up a flight of stairs, then maneuvering it into a window after you've just finished a nice 21 mile bike ride on a hot night. In truth, I should've done it Monday night, when neither ceiling fan nor floor fan nor wide open window were able to beat the warmth and humidity enough for me to get any kind of restful sleep. Last night was a little better, at least until a midnight thunderstorm forced me to close the window.

I didn't bother with the big roll-around unit I use for the rest of the first floor. There's nothing on TV worth watching tonight, and so I'm just going to hole up in the back room with my laptop.

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Meanwhile, back at Quonset Point, it's airshow week. The Thunderbirds haven't arrived yet, but some of the stunt planes have been practicing since Monday. At lunch today the ANG stunt plane was running through it's routine while some RI-ANG C-130's did some passes and dropped stuff with parachutes out of their back door. The RI-NG was up, too, circling the field with a couple of Blackhawk choppers and their lone C-23 Sherpa, the military version of the boxy Shorts commuter planes that were all the rage among short haul airlines 15 years ago or so. And just up the way, The Quonset Air Museum's aircraft were spiffed up and waiting to be towed over the the static exhibits area. Good times.

Dreamliner

Dec. 16th, 2009 10:47 am
dxmachina: (Thunderbird 1)
DreamlinerAfter more than two years worth of delays, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, finally flew for the first time yesterday. The plane is notable as being the first airliner built from carbon composites instead of the usual aluminum. What I found kind of neat about the event was that the chase plane flying alongside the 787 is a T-33, an aircraft that first flew in 1948 and that hasn't even been manufactured in more than fifty years. I didn't realize there were any still flying, apart from private collections (one of which, Wikipedia tells me, is owned by Michael Dorn).
dxmachina: (Charrpe)
Monstrous Regiment — Terry Pratchett

Pratchett's take on the military and on gender politics. A young woman disguises herself as a man and joins the army. Hilarity ensues as she discovers that she's not the only one in the unit keeping secrets. Very funny stuff. Vimes shows up, too, so that's good, and there's also this:

'You'll have noticed, sergeant, that the men were wearing the dark-green uniform of the First Battalion the Zlobenian Fifty-ninth Bowmen. A skirmishing battalion,' said Blouse, with cold politeness. 'That is not the uniform of a spy, sergeant.'
Heh.

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The Battle of Britain — Quentin Reynolds
The Men Who Bombed the Reich — Bernard C. Nalty and Carl Berger


Two finds from a terrific used book store I visited while at Readercon.

Never in the field of human conflict... )
dxmachina: (Thunderbird 1)
The air show is this weekend, and the performers have started to drift in. Team Oracle was the first in, doing a practice run yesterday at lunch in miserable weather. Today they were moving some corporate jets from their usual parking places to spots away from the expected throngs of people who'll be wandering around on the tarmac. I also noticed that Blue Angel #7 was parked over at the ANG end of the field.

This year the show will have both the Blue Angels and the Canadian Forces Snow Birds. I was planning on going until I realized that my niece and nephew's graduation party (HS and 8th grade, resp.) is on Saturday, which means I ought to go to NJ. Bother.
dxmachina: (Thunderbird 1)
I watched Bill Clinton's plane take off yesterday, not to mention the Vice-President Elect's.

I was heading towards my usual lunch spot aside Quonset State Airport when I spied a bus with a bunch of black SUV's following heading in the same direction. It was then that I recalled that Clinton, Biden, and several other bigwigs were in town (Newport, actually) for former Sen. Claiborne Pell's funeral. The motorcade pulled into the airport parking lot, while I parked in my usual spot. Clinton's Gulfstream was first to head out since it was right there at the terminal. Flight Aware tells me Big Bill was heading back to Westchester. The Air Force plane for Biden (and perhaps others) was parked over at the ANG base, and it took off a little later. Air Force 2(½?) is a relatively nondescript 737, although its serial number is 20202.

I have had previous brushes with the high and might like this. Quonset is a pretty useful place for flights like this because it doesn't get much traffic, but it has the long runway left over from its glory days.
dxmachina: (Bike)
From the dew-soaked hedge creeps a crawly caterpillar,
When the dawn begins to crack.
It's all part of my autumn almanac.
Breeze blows leaves of a musty-coloured yellow,
So I sweep them in my sack.
Yes, yes, yes, it's my autumn almanac.
— Ray Davies


AAA showed up about five minutes after I posted, and I was out and about in no time. Went to Sears looking to burn a gift card I got last Christmas, but couldn't find anything I really needed to have. At least, nothing that I could buy with the gift card.

Sears is near the Cranston bike path, so I took the opportunity to take a ride. Not my favorite path, but it was a nice day. A cold front had moved through overnight, but it wasn't as chilly as predicted. Good chunks of the path are tree lined, and since we're hitting peak foliage time around these parts, it was very pretty. The only negative was when some of the local fauna started yelling insults at me from out of a car window near Lowes. I have no idea what prompted it.

I also drove over and did the Coventry portion of the path (RI DOT still hasn't connected the two properly), and even a little bit of the trestle trail. Twenty-four miles on the day, breaking 1500 for the year.

Since it was such a lovely afternoon when I finished riding, and since I was already out in the boonies, I decided to drive through the woods and look at the leaves. I started by heading up to Rice City, just to see what was there. I never heard the name until I drove through there a couple of weeks ago, and it was dark then, so I did see much. Turns out there is neither rice nor a city. Just some houses and farms. There's not even so much as a filling station.

I drove a bit further west to the CT border looking for Riconn airport, a small, private field right on the border, but it's not visible from the road. Then I headed south along the border, through Greene and Hopkins Hollow. It was a very nice ride. The roads are in very good shape, and since they don't go anywhere, I was usually the only vehicle in sight. The leaves were colorful. I only wish I'd brought my camera. Maybe another ride is in order. (Side note — gas prices dropped fifty-five cents a gallon this week. That's kind of stunning, even if it's still pretty damn expensive.)
dxmachina: (Pitching)
The Dodgers were no-hit by the Angels last night... And won anyway. Jered Weaver held LA hitless for six innings, and when he was pinch hit for, his replacement, Jose Arredondo, gave up no hits in the seventh and eighth.

It's only the fifth time since 1900 that it's happened, which makes it one of the rarest of baseball's oddities. Technically it's not considered an official no-hitter because the Dodgers didn't bat in the bottom of the ninth. The Dodgers run came when Matt Kemp hit what Vin Scully called a "runaway gyroscope" off the end of his bat in the fifth inning. The ball rolled up the first base line, then took a left turn like a bowling ball seeking the 1-3 pocket. This seemed to flummox Weaver, who let the ball roll under his glove for an error. Kemp then stole second, and then continued on to third when the catcher Jeff Mathis airmailed his throw into center field. Blake Dewitt hit a sacrifice fly on the next pitch to plate the only run of the game.

As far as I can recall, it's only the second no-hitter I've ever watched start to finish. (The first was Dave Righetti's Fourth of July no-hitter against the Sox.) It was a weird game to watch, partly because it was so even throughout. The fascination with the no-no sort of hides the fact that Chad Billingsley (7 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 7 K)pitched a pretty terrific game, himself.

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The air show is this weekend. Still trying to decide whether or not to head over today. I didn't go yesterday because it was hot and humid and miserable. The weather calls for showers later today, so maybe that would knock down the crowds some, and I'll go. I'm more interested in the static displays this time around anyway.

Still haven't seen the Red Arrows anywhere but on the ground. They never did practice this week, at least not around Quonset. Apparently the RAF have no need for practice runs, because they're just that good.
dxmachina: (Thunderbird 1)
The air show is coming this weekend, and the skies over Quonset Point have begun to fill with the sounds of planes practicing aerobatics. (Actually, the first pair of planes was already up practicing last Friday.) For the first time in many years, neither the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds are doing the show. Instead we get the Red Arrows, the RAF equivalent. Like the Canadian Snowbirds, the Arrows fly training aircraft, which lack the sheer power of the American teams, but they fly more of them (9 instead of 6) which makes for more variety in the formations they can fly.

They flew in yesterday, but the weather prevented any practicing, but the sky's pretty clear today, so perhaps I'll have something to watch at lunch.
dxmachina: (Rain)
So yesterday at lunch it was sunny and up into the fifties, and I figured that I might finally get a chance to ride after work. Then about four the clouds rolled in and it started raining. This morning it's still raining, and the wind is whistling. If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.

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The Dodgers and Padres played the first ever MLB exhibition game in China last night. Nobody won. The score was 3-3 after nine, but they didn't continue because they wanted to make sure they had enough pitchers left for today's game.

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I spend most of my work week lunch hours parked down next to KOQU, where I have lunch, read, and watch the airplanes take off and land. There's one plane, a Piper Cherokee, parked very near my usual spot that I didn't see fly all winter. Thursday, someone finally showed up and started preflighting it. He did all the usual stuff, and then he did something I'd never seen before. He pulled his car up next to the plane, pulled out a set of jumper cables, and jump started the Piper. I guess he really hadn't flown it in a while.
dxmachina: (Thunderbird 1)
Last year it was Monaco One parked at good ol' Quonset State Airport. Today KOQU decided to up the ante, as Air Force One is currently siting on the tarmac down at the RI-ANG end of the facility. I'd wondered about the possibility of this a couple of days ago when I'd noticed what looked like Marine One sitting amidst the RI-NG helicopters . Sure enough, Bush is in town to give a speech over at the Naval War College in Newport. (It's the first time he's actually been to Rhode Island since he became President. Probably finally getting around to crossing off states from his to do list.)

I was kind of surprised at how little obvious security there was in the vicinity of the airport. There were a couple of airport police cars imported from PVD wandering about the taxiways, but not much else that I could see. The airport itself is closed to general aviation traffic, and there are flight restrictions above, but nothing on the ground outside the perimeter of the base.

The one mystery of the day is the presence of a JetBlue A-320 parked next to the terminal. Press corps transport maybe? Alas, I didn't have my camera with me, so no pictures.

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The AF1 sighting caps one heck of an Airshow week at KOQU. At some point I need to post a recap of the weekend. There are an awful lot of photos.
dxmachina: (DX-Opus)
I have my new, improved bike back, though it was a near thing. When I dropped it off Saturday, the guy at the shop said he couldn't do the shifter swap then, but he'd be working Monday and even Sunday, so no problem picking it up Monday evening. Except I had to work late Monday, so I didn't make it down there until last night. And... it wasn't ready. He'd stashed the bike off in a corner and forgotten about it. Not only that, he'd forgotten why I'd left it. Have I mentioned the guy has the attention span of a three-year old? It was okay. He kept the shop open an extra half hour while he swapped in the quick-shifters. Of course the set of nine-speed shifters he'd thought he had in stock were nowhere to be found, but since the Widowmaker had nine-speed quick-shifters, he was able to swap those in for the twist-shifters on the new bike. So the change wound up costing me nothing, since I already owned the parts and he didn't charge me any labor. He also mentioned that he'd already had a serious nibble on the Widowmaker, so that was good news. I hope the nibbler likes twist-shifts.

Keeping the shop open late worked out for him, too. While I was there, a man came in with his two really cute kids, and bought his son a $140 bike that the kid will grow out of in about six months. To lessen the sting a bit, the bike shop owner offered to buy the bike back for half when the kid grows out of it as long as it was still in decent shape, which sounded like a good deal to me.

I really do like the shop, absent-minded owner not withstanding, but I do wonder how long this guy can stay in business. Unlike most of the other shops around, he really doesn't cater much to general, walk-in business. It's a small, very cluttered shop, and he doesn't keep much in the way new inventory, and accessories are scattered hither and yon. It reminds me of my office, actually. One reason he was eager to take in the Widowmaker on consignment is that it still looks new. OTOH, I'm sure he does a lot of business with folks who need to customize their bikes, like me. I just hope that's enough to keep him in business.

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The other local news is that it's airshow week, and the planes have begun to drift in. There's been a stunt biplane flying about since Monday, and I heard the sound of a high-performance jet engine today. The Blue Angels are doing the show this year, but I haven't seen or heard them yet.
dxmachina: (Default)
Damn. Three weeks after one of the Blue Angels was killed during a show comes the news that one the Canadian Forces' Snow Birds crashed during practice, killing the pilot. Not a good year for the demonstration teams.
dxmachina: (Computers 01)
So, the weekend. Didn't do anything other than my best impression of a turnip. This involved sitting in front of the computer playing crappy games, and watching the Dodgers take two of three from the Padres. I had hoped to go for at least one ride, but the weather was chilly and wet. So it goes.

Today was bright and sunny, but by this evening it was far to windy to ride, so I finally did some of the yard work I've been avoiding. To my utter amazement the lawnmower, which had sat dormant since October, started on the second try. Despite the blusteriness, it was really quite a pleasant evening for a mow. Now I am tired, and the plan for the rest of the evening is to stretch out on the couch, watch Heroes, and fall asleep in place.

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I was surprised to see busloads of school kids down at the airport at lunch time. Turns out one of NOAA's atmospheric research aircraft, a P-3 Orion hurricane hunter, was sitting on the tarmac for school tours. Aviation, yay!

---
In programming news, I managed to successfully complete my first little bit of C# coding today. Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. We launched a snazzy new .net based website in January, about a week after we fired the outside developers for being mutton-headed boobs (and bad spellers). The marketing manager, who was supposed to be overseeing the project, decided to seek other employment opportunities shortly thereafter. We hired a consultant to handle all the back-end fixes that needed to be done, whilst I spent my time changing the text color in eleventy zillion style sheets from light grey to black, and otherwise tweaking what I could in the html. Up until recently I couldn't do much more because I didn't know how.

.Net takes some getting used to. Rather than the site's pages being programmed through scripting in the pages themselves, the programming occurs in separate files that are then compiled prior to being published. For some reason the scripting language of choice appears to be C#, rather than anything I'd ever used before (you know, something simple), so now I have to learn how to program in yet another language. Today was my first baby step in that process, finally fixing something I'd complained to the original developer about several times to no avail. I gotta say, it was a lot easier and less complicated when I did the exact same tweak in VBScript on the old site. Anyway, go me!

Heroes

Dec. 7th, 2006 02:10 pm
dxmachina: (Thunderbird 1)
Kenneth Taylor died this past November 25th after a long illness, less than two weeks short of the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was during the attack that Taylor and his wingman, George Welch became heroes as the most successful of the handful of American pilots who managed to get into the air during the attack. They'd been partying the night before, and as dawn broke they were still in their tuxedos at the Officer's Club at Wheeler Field, the main Army fighter base a few miles north of Pearl, trying to decide whether to finally hit the sack, or to go up to the north shore for a swim. They chose sleep, but it didn't last long.

Real fighter jocks... )

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I happened to stumble across an airing of Pearl Harbor last week, the first time I'd watched it I think since it was in theatres, and I still can't believe how awful the flight sequences in it are, with the P-40's and Zeroes whizzing around a few feet off the ground like Star Wars X-Wings. Truly an abomination.
dxmachina: (Roadkill)
It's weird. One of my flashbulb memories is the moment I heard about Thurman Munson's death in a plane crash. I was in grad school, and a bunch of us were having beers down at Iggy's, the closest bar to campus, when the local news came on TV. (No cable in those days in RI.) It was a shocking moment, and even the Sox fans in the group drank to his memory.

I doubt that today will remain with me like that. Events unfolded to slowly, and work was busy, so I didn't pay much attention. People were mentioning the crash, but it was a small plane kind of far from anything symbolic, so I assumed it was just a peculiar accident. And so it was.

When I got home, they'd just found out that it was owned by Yankee pitcher Cory Lidel. That was a bit of a stunner. And just weird, too. You never expect to discover something about a high profile incident that makes it even more high profile.

I logged in over at the Toaster, left condolences at Bronx Banter, and then got involved (along with a some others) in a mild kerfuffle at DT with someone jumping to some extreme conclusions. Meanwhile, there was a troll attack on Bronx Banter as the fans there were coming to grips. People suck.

It'll be interesting to see just what happened. It sounds like something malfunctioned, but that's only from reports I heard on the news, which seems to think that rumors and facts are the same thing.

Damn, I miss Iggy's.

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