Sunday, May 29, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend

BarbieIII_2On Saturday Dianne and I went to Lunken field to have lunch at the Sky Galley restaurant. It's a good restaurant in the old terminal building. It has a good view of the field and the general aviation ramp. This weekend, in commemoration of Memorial Day, there was a restored and flying B-25H bomber, the Barbie III, visiting the field. They were selling rides and ground tours of the plane. Here and here are some pictures of the Barbie III. The Cincinnati Warbirds group also had a T-28 and an SNJ-5 on display. Here is a picture of those planes.

We also went for a walk along the north side of the field along the pedestrian/bike path. We got caught in a passing shower, but it was a light rain. A good day for a walk as it wasn't too hot (around 75) and there was a nice breeze blowing. Many years ago we walked around the whole field on what seemed like the hottest and most humid day we had in August. Wow…that was a hike!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC)

I was a couple months outside of the 6 month clock for recent flight experience requirements for instrument flying. Yesterday I took an instrument proficiency check with an instrument instructor to get back up to speed. It was a good flight. It was a nice day with only a few high clouds. I had to wear a view limiting device so the only thing I could see were the instruments (Click on the Pilot Training Foggles link at this site).

We did two GPS approaches (one coupled with the autopilot). Because the Dayton approach controller was very busy, we had to fly the first one as a full approach (he didn’t have time to give radar vectors). That worked out well and was good practice doing a procedure turn. After the second approach, we followed the published missed approach instructions and entered a holding pattern. Personally, I don't find holds that difficult. After the first circuit, and often through the entry, you can detect how to compensate for the wind in order to stay on course. After a few turns in the hold, we headed back home and did a VOR approach opposite to the prevailing wind so it included a circle to land maneuver. A good IPC is a confidence builder, helps make sure I haven’t developed any bad habits and know how to use the system, and alerts me to any problem areas. Fortunately, I don’t have any problem areas. I just need to keep up on the instrument flying to stay current.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Grumman Gathering at KBMI

On Saturday I flew to Bloomington/Normal, IL, for a Grumman Gatherers event at Arnie's restaurant in the old terminal building on the field. The airport is also home to the Prairie Aviation Museum. It was an open house day at the museum and their DC-3 was giving rides around the city. I didn't tour the museum since I needed to head home. The airport is very nice, but there is construction taking place on some taxiways and access roads. One of the runways is closed and is being used as a taxiway.

TonyAtBMI1I had a strong tailwind on the way to KBMI. Made it in just over 2 hours. My ground speed ranged from 125 to 142 knots! I flew VFR since it was a clear day. The way home took a little longer (~2 1/4 hours) due to the headwind. I flew a little lower on the way home and the headwind wasn't quite as strong. Nevertheless, it was a little bit bumpy. Not unusual with the afternoon heating over the green and brown fields. This is a picture of Tony and some of the other Gatherer aircraft in front of the old terminal building at Bloomington/Normal that is now the general aviation area. Click on the photo to see a larger view.

It was a good turnout -- approximately 20 people and I'm not sure how many planes. I took a few pictures of some of the Gatherer aircraft and also snapped a couple pictures of some airports I passed along the way. The service and food at Arnie's was very good. This review was on target. If you're in the neighborhood, it's worth stopping.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Dayton Hamfest

Today I went to the Dayton Hamfest and ARRL National convention (they were combined this year). It is the largest hamfest in the country. Although I've only been an hour away for the last 12 years, I've never been. I haven't been active on the amateur bands, but I thought I'd go to find some power supply and antenna equipment for my low power radio to do some operating when mobile.
HaraArena2It took me all morning just to walk through the indoor exhibits. The picture here is only one of several indoor areas at the Hara Arena in Dayton. The new radio technology has really improved in the last decade. Just like most electronic gadgets, there are more features packed in a smaller space. Unfortunately, I didn't find what I needed. Nevertheless, it was an interesting day. Click here to see a few other photos including a motorcycling ham that had over a million miles on a Honda Goldwing.

There were a lot of people there and folks representing many different countries. It's relatively easy to tell where folks are from as most people wear name badges that also have their amateur radio call sign. The prefix of the callsign tells you what country they are from. I saw people from England, Scotland, Finland, several Eastern European countries, Japan, and of course Canada. There were folks from all over the US.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Human Powered Hydrofoil

This looks very interesting – I wonder how well it really works. Has anybody tried one or seen somebody using one? It reminds me of a Trikke for water. Dianne and I got the Trikke and it works well once you get the hang of it. It’s a good, low impact cardio workout. I should clarify it’s low impact unless you take a spill and then the impact is high. In that respect the hydrofoil would be nice.

Bike Radio

I always had the best bikes when growing up. My dad owned a bicycle shop when I was younger and so I had good bikes with nice accessories. I rode around a lot with neighborhood friends.

When I was 12, one of my birthday presents was a battery powered AM radio that mounted on the handlebar. I thought it’d be neat to be able to listen to the radio while riding around. I was reminded of that yesterday as it was the anniversary of the start of the Watergate hearings in 1973. There weren’t a lot of AM radio choices during the day in central Minnesota (i.e. one unless you like old-time music). Our local station carried the Watergate hearings. Talking about boring to a kid! In fact, Senate hearings are boring to me now. Needless to say, I didn’t listen to that bike radio very much in the summer of ’73.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Sporty's Open House

SportysOpenHouse1Last Saturday, Dianne and I drove to the Clermont County Airport (I69) to attend an open house event sponsored by Sporty's which is based at the airport. The weather wasn't that great to fly over. Even so, the parking lot was pretty full of cars. It was raining lightly and the light breeze made for a cool day.

There were several vendors in the two new large hangars showing avionics, pilot supplies, new airplanes, etc. You can click on the picture to see a larger version. I was most interested in the AirMod organization based at I69. I'd be nice to eventually redo the interior of the Tiger. There was an AT-6 which did some passes over the field and was on display. I also thought there was a Bird Dog or similar aircraft with military markings.

You can fly or drive in to Sporty's any Saturday around noon to get a hot dog. Here are the directions.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Lite Brite

Remember the Lite Brite toy? If you are really bored, your can try the on-line version here.


What do you think of when you hear the term “Spam”?

Having grown up in the state that is home to Hormel Foods and having married someone from Hawaii, the canned meat pops into my head. We actually have cans of Spam in our cupboard at home. I don’t know if I buy the Hormel site slogan about crazy tasty.

The vision of canned meat is quickly followed by thoughts of unsolicited email -- the term that originated in honor of the Monty Python skit.

What I didn’t realize until today is there is a Broadway musical to think about too. My department head, a huge Monty Python fan, mentioned this to me. He and his son plan to take in the show while on a college hunt in the neighborhood. I can imagine this musical being like a Rocky Horror Picture Show kind of experience.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday Rant

I love satellite radio. I’m an XM Radio subscriber. From that point of view, this story is good news. However, the survey response as reported seems insane and led to this rant.

There has to be another side to the results of the survey – e.g. expense of the satellite radio and subscription costs. I find it hard to believe Howard Stern is the reason people didn’t want satellite radio. Did people explain satellite radio to these Hyundai customers before taking the survey!?! It’s not like Sirius satellite radio only has one channel fixed to Howard Stern. Just choose a different channel and enjoy! Your satellite choices are being tracked and if the number of Stern channel listeners is low, they’ll drop him. Enjoy the other offerings. C’mon….think about where you can hear Howard Stern now. Do they want their FM radios ripped out of their car simply because they could maybe tune into Howard in the morning? Are they going to give up their cable box because they might see him on E!?

Motorcycle Season

DiOnPieIt’s that time of year when Dianne shows an interest in the weather. Each day she wants to know if it’s going to be dry so she can ride her motorcycle to work.

We got the bikes out of storage several weeks ago and had their annual service done. This picture is Dianne coming home from work last week on her bike. It was still pretty cool in the mornings so she was wearing her Aerostich suit to keep warm during the ride. With that suit, an electric vest, and heated handgrips you're able to stay fairly warm. I’m OK down to about 45 F, but anything below that is too cold for me. However, I’d say she’s good to go down to about 35 F. This site has more detail about her bike. The seat height adjustment allows for a reasonable fit for her. The saddlebags can hold a lot of stuff.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I’ve had this picture of Mashimaro in my cube at work for quite awhile. Someone stopped by to talk with me yesterday, noticed it, and asked what it was all about. Mashimaro, the main character in an online animated adventure series, is a lovable little rabbit that has a mischievous side. Check out the Mashimaro website to see the cartoons and get some info on the characters.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Dictionary of Altitudes

I was in the library at work looking for a German/English chemical dictionary when this book caught my eye: A Dictionary of Altitudes in the United States, 4th Edition, by Henry Gannett. The book was published in 1906 by the Government Printing Office in Washington and contains tables of altitudes organized by state and city. As a private pilot, I think a lot about altitudes but they are so easy to obtain you take them for granted. Charts are loaded with them, planes have reasonably good altimeters, and GPS with WAAS capability will give position and altitude with an error of roughly 20 feet. I did a little digging to understand what was behind the altitude dictionary.

Gannett started with the US Geological Survey around the time it was founded as a separate agency in the Department of the Interior. He was chief geologist about the time that then director John Powell got the blessing of Congress to continue preparation of a geological map of the US. In that period, the topographic mapping effort received the bulk of USGS funding. Gannett was a founding member of the National Geographic Society and one of its presidents. You can find a short entry on Gannett here and a nice overview of the USGS here. Besides the general desire to understand US geology and geography, a lot of folks needed altitudes. For example, railroads planned paths to minimize grades, the military needed terrain information for strategic planning, and topological information helped determine watersheds.

The Dictionary of Altitudes has a short methods section describing how they measured the altitudes. Many were based on barometric pressure readings and a fair number mentioned using trigonometry. Some altitudes were based on measuring the boiling point of water. This website has a great discussion of how altitudes were measured in the 1800s. It also discusses why different methods were used and the limitations and errors in the measurements. Quite a good read.

I checked a few of the measurements to get an idea of accuracy. It’s amazing how good the values are! For Little Falls, Minnesota there were two entries. The first was for the Northern Pacific Railroad (1120 feet) on the east side of town and the second was for a square cut on a step at the entrance to the Buckman Hotel (1114 feet). The Hotel was still operating when I was growing up. I wonder if there is a USGS benchmark there (here is an example). If there is, I walked past it hundreds of times as a kid and didn’t even notice it or know about the effort involved in placing these markers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Clean Glasses Today

Clean Glasses

I got reading glasses a little over a year ago. What a difference they make – especially for my right eye! It really helps on days when I’m doing a lot of reading. The only frustrating part about them is they are hard to clean. Originally I tried a cleaning spray and dry wipes and then the pre-moistened cleaning wipes available from LensCrafters where I purchased the frames. I also tried some other brands. They all end up cleaning, but it generally takes several cleaning cycles because of the streaking. All the products I tried did more smearing than cleaning. Once I got the glasses mostly clean, I used a polyester/nylon cloth from Crizal to get rid of the streaks.

A few weeks ago we were at Sam’s Club walking by the optical area and I noticed a box of pre-moistened, lens cleaning cloths with the Zeiss name. On a whim I thought I’d give it a shot. After all, Zeiss should know how to clean optics (although I thought that about LensCrafters too). I finally got around to trying them today – after using two other pre-moistened cloths with no luck. The first Zeiss cloth worked like a charm!! Clean glasses with no streaks in one easy step! I can read again. If you haven’t tried ‘em, buy a package next time you’re at the store. Here is the smaller version of the 90 count package I saw.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Blogs for the Blogroll

I've been using BlogClicker of late to get a random look at some of the blogosphere. There haven't been too many sites that have jumped out at me on my journey. It's a matter of the first couple of posts catching your eye. Every now and then you'll find what you consider a gem. I've listed two new entries on my short blog roll: Seedlings & Sprouts and the Neverending Rainbow. I think these sites, while each covering very different material, are both very well done and interesting. Check them out.

Julie synthesizes a lot of things she reads on other blogs and tosses in observations of her own -- including those made through the eyes of her children. That makes for some interesting insights and there is always something on her site that gives good food for thought.

I also enjoy reading Michael's blog. I can relate to a lot of the topics he discusses. For example, although growing up in Minnesota I never listened to the X, the song "Heard it on the X" is one of my favorite ZZ Top tunes. Dianne and I like Project Greenlight which he's also discussed recently. I also enjoy the more substantial posts (as compared to most of my short ones).

Finally, both these blogs have simple layouts and no annoying banner ads -- just good content.

How's Your Report Card?

Dianne and I were at Barnes and Noble tonight doing some browsing. I came across a compilation of stories by Hans Christian Andersen. I hadn't read some of these in years and some weren't familiar or they have slipped away from me over the years. It brought back memories of the Fractured Fairy Tales segment of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show.

I read Andersen's story of the sandman. I had forgotten the Sunday sandman story talks about the sandman's brother who only knows two stories. How good is your report card?

Miscellaneous Web Items

Here is an eclectic mix of stuff I’ve run across recently.

For all the beach bums out there, check out these sand sculptures.

Here is a clever project that illustrates the 7 deadly sins using Mr. Potato Head. I love the sloth picture.

Not as well executed, there is also a gummy bear version of the 7 deadly sins. I like gluttony here.

What should you bring to your next picnic? Check out this gallery of watermelons!

Here are some web applications that aid learning about US states. In “place the state”, I had an average error of 12 miles in 254 seconds. Delaware and New Hampshire threw off my average. Guess I need some practice. I could use one of these for countries of the world.

Here is some math around communion.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Personality test

You can go here to draw a pig and then see what your drawing says about your personality. Here is my pig. I never said I was an artist.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Butterfly Exhibit

Today Dianne and I went to the Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park in Cincinnati. It's free (except for special exhibits) and worth stopping by if you're in the neighborhood. Today was the start of their annual butterfly exhibit. It was a nice exhibit with hundreds of butterflies flying around in one of the greenhouses. Kids and adults were enjoying the butterflies. I took a few photos and posted them in a set on Flickr.


Friday, May 06, 2005

More Finger Food

Check out this story about another finger in food. It's just sad it wasn't documented and the finger given to doctors immediately.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Photo Fun

I saw this link at The Mad Perseid site. He had it listed under a subject of 40 reasons not to post photos on the Internet.

Social Security

The AP has a bizarre story out of Wisconsin. This won't happen once Social Security goes bust.