Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spaghetti Monsters - They're What's For Dinner

So I decided to make something special for the kids for dinner tonight.

I told them it was a secret so while they were watching TV I prepared these:

The kids were impressed, and had no idea how I got hot dogs right in the middle of spaghetti like that.

It's easy, and kids can be easy to impress sometimes.

Step 1: Get a pot of salted water on the stove and get it heating up to boiling., get your tomato sauce in a separate pot on simmer.

Step 2: Take Spaghetti pieces and poke them through the uncooked hot dogs:

Expect some to break and that's fine, just keep pushing the rest through, and you can also make different size monsters by evening them off.

Step 3: Place them into the boiling water and cook until the spaghetti is done, nice and floppy.

Step 4: Drain, strain, and place some on plates.

Step 5: Add the tomato sauce, serve, and get accolades for preparing a cool meal for your kids.

Step 6. Eat while you bask in the praise and adulation. Treasure the moment as you realize the teenage years are coming up fast.

Hamas Violates Ceasefire Number 11

To what should be to no one's surprise by now, Hamas again violated a ceasefire, launching rockets at Israel.

At what point will the rest of the world see through Hamas' charade and get fed up enough to let Israel do what has to be done to defend itself rather than having a myriad of worthless ceasefires that only give Hamas time to rearm and resupply?

Monday, August 18, 2014

B-24 Magic - Diamond Lil

One of only two B-24s currently in flyable condition, the Commemorative Air Force's Diamond Lil was at Thunder Over Michigan. The most produced bomber in American history and only two are still flying today.

Made famous by the Ploesti raids, this bomber fought in every theater in World War 2.

The 25th of over 18,000 B-24 Liberators built, Diamond Lil never saw combat, being damaged in a landing accident shortly after being built on its delivery flight and then used by its builder Consolidated Aircraft Corporation as a company transport.

The roar of her four radial engines was impressive.

A less well known function of the B-24 Liberator in World War 2 in addition to being a strategic bomber was its yeoman work as an anti-submarine patrol aircraft. With it's long range, B-24s were able to reach areas out of range of other aircraft and were responsible for sinking or assisting in the sinking of 93 U-Boats.

She also made a pass with the gear down:

The B-24s had many notable occupants as crew, including Jimmy Stuart and Congressman Stewart Udall.

While this B-24 was not one them, many a B-24 was built right at the home field of Thunder Over Michigan - Willow Run. At Willow Run, Henry Ford's Bomber Plant mass produced the B-24 Liberator for the allied war effort, and he turned them out at the rate of one per hour.

Diamond Lil is living history on the wing.

Ground Battle At Thunder Over Michigan

In addition to the airplanes, there were some serious ground reenactors present.
Whenever you get some reenactors together, a battle breaks out. In this case, Americans and Brits vs the Waffen SS.

It all started when a landmine flipped a US jeep, resulting in the driver getting captured by SS troops waiting in ambush.

Hand Hoche Amerikaner!
But then they see whats coming up the road:

Schiesse! Where'd all those troops come from?

Double Schiesse! They've Got tanks! Run Away!

We got 'em on the run boys!
Let's use their guts to grease our treads!
The Germans retreat in the face of the armored assault:

Uh Oh, the Germans have brought up a Hetzer to join the fray.

Rally on der Hetzer!
The engagement becomes general:


The Allies emerged victorious after flanking the Hetzer with their Stuart tanks.

It was an interesting display of World War 2 weaponry and reenactors doing their thing for an appreciative audience.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Leah's Birthday Trip

To celebrate her birthday, Leah wanted a day trip.

So we loaded into the car. Jett wanted to drive initially.

He was convinced to head to the back once it was explained to him that a dog license and a driver's license are two different things.

After just short of three hours, including a spot on I-96 where traffic was at a complete standstill due to construction we arrived.

Kruse Park in Muskegon on the shores of Lake Michigan. The park is a public dog park and beach where dogs and humans can run, play in the water and hang out on the beach.

Jett didn't quite know what to make of the waves and the water constantly rushing towards him. His first time on a Great Lake

The water was also pretty cold, Leah jumped in anyways, the rest of us just got our legs wet.

Jett soon found new friends to play with:

Following their lead, he jumped in the water with the rest of them. He had a ball.

After hanging out for the day we headed home, picking up some BBQ takeout form Famous Dave's along the way. At home we had a nice meal, cleaned up all the sand from the beach that we had brought home with us and had a nice end to her special day.

Happy Birthday Leah!

Today my little girl turned 8.

She woke up excited and we had the traditional birthday breakfast of a cherry cheesecake.

For her first present, she received a Razor A5 Lux Scooter with pink grips and wheels.

She donned a helmet and I took her for her first spin (and fall) on it while walking the dog. The fall was impressive - the Razor fell sideways and she had some good scrapes on her shin and palm, but after just a few tears she shrugged it off and got back to scootering. She's already named it "Hot Wheels".

She also got a Horse Diaries book from Abby as she loves that series.

In additon she got some Waba Fun Kinetic Sand, which is very neat stuff. It's sand but it sticks together so you can make shapes out of it but it also can separate into individual grains of sand. Very neat and an interesting item - you can squeeze it for stress relief, make tunnels into it with your fingers and build sand castles that stay in shape.

A great birthday so far, and more stuff is planned for her today.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Knights In Shining Parachutes - The US Army's Golden Knights

You don't need to fly a plane to wow the crowd at an air show. You can also impress by jumping out of a perfectly good working aircraft.

The US Army's parachute demonstration team, the Golden Knights certainly impressed.

The Knight's Fokker transport at altitude with the door open and ready for paratrooper deployment:

Jumper #1 is out:

Good chute:

And landing dead center of the landing zone for a perfect precision landing.

One was good, so next they decided to double the fun with a tandem jump.

Again a perfect landing right in the center of the landing zone.

Then the rest of the team jumped and did a formation parachute demonstration:

Again, they all landed perfectly in the landing zone in a remarkable display of control and precision.

That was a very impressive display of what a team with nothing more than parachutes, hard training, and a lot of guts can do. A great and thrilling demonstration.

Friday, August 15, 2014

King Of The Rare Birds - The P-63C Kingcobra

The only Bell P-63C Kingcobra currently flying made an appearance at Thunder over Michigan.

The engine in the Kingcobra, just like its predecessor the P-39 Airacobra, is behind the pilot, and the propeller shaft ran beneath the floor of the planes' cockpit.

Note the 37mm Cannon in the center of the propeller hub, and the twin fifties mounted above and synchronized to shoot through the four-bladed propeller.

In addition to the nose cannon, the air scoop is a very distinctive feature of this plane:

The P-63 also stands out as it is one of the few American World War Two Fighters with a tricycle landing gear configuration rather than being a tail-dragger.

While the US Army Air Force considered it inferior to the P-51 Mustang, the Russians liked them and received 2,397 via Lend-lease. They were used primarily as an air-to-air combat aircraft. The Russians didn't tend to use them for anti-tank missions, preferring their native Sturmovik for that role. it was a great to watch its pilot run this rare warbird through an aerobatic display.

Detroit When Felons Get Shot Threatens To Det Riot.

So, after the attempted running over of a police officer, resulting in one of two of the attackers getting shot, criminal supporters threaten to run riot in Detroit.

The Detroit News:Detroit police urging calm after cops shoot suspect, unruly crowd gathers

In light of clashes between citizens and police in Ferguson, Mo., Detroit police officials are taking steps to quell unrest in the city following an incident Wednesday in which an unruly crowd here had to be dispersed after officers shot a suspect.

A crowd gathered near Berkshire and Nottingham on Wednesday after Detroit police officers opened fire on a pair of men when they reportedly tried to run the officers down with their SUV. Police say the officers witnessed the men illegally purchasing a gun.

One of the suspects was shot in the arm and taken to an area hospital. The other man was arrested.

Sounds quite reasonable, trying to run someone over with a vehicle is deadly force and cops may quite fairly respond in kind, especially against presumed felons who are presumably armed.

That didn't stop the locals from taking umbrage and trying to dip in.

In the wake of the incident, the crowd reportedly became so unruly that other units had to be called in to help. Some in the crowd, upset because officers shot one of the suspects, reportedly invoked the situation in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson...

Then Detroit's criminal enabler class stepped up and dipped in:

Ron Scott, director of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, who was instrumental in bringing federal oversight to the city, said there’s still a rift between many citizens and police.

“I think the situation in Ferguson could easily happen here,” he said. “We saw the tip of the iceberg last night, where the smallest thing could spark an incident. People feel disrespected, with the stop-and-frisk policy, and all these militarized raids.

“It happened in ’67, and it could happen now. I’m not hoping for it; I’m not advocating for it, but I’m just saying there’s tension in the street.”

The criminal class in Detoilet doesn't like it when police enforce the laws, and the criminal enabler class feels its power base slipping accordingly and wants to get some media face-time by threatening the possibility of a riot claiming the criminals are feeling disrespected. Both Detroit's criminal and criminal enabler class are quite simply reprehensible.

Interestingly enough, the Detroit Free Press notes the two suspects had an "AK-47" in their possesiona nd its unclear if they fired at the officers, but doesn't mention anything about the unruly crowd beyond saying "Police are also looking for additional people who were in the area at the time of the shooting.". Curious, that.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Camera

Juvat in a comment asked me to talk about the camera I got, and I'm happy to oblige.

It's a Canon EOS 20D DSLR Camera. My first DSLR, and my first SLR of my own for that matter.

Bought used in a deal I absolutely couldn't resist, it was ten years old before I got it last month. While Only 8.2 Megapixel, it works great and is the fastest camera I've ever owned. Of course there's a lot newer and better DSLR cameras out there, but this will certainly do for a start, and the lenses can be kept and still used if I ever upgrade to a more powerful camera body.

The Camera came in its original box, along with the kit lens, The EF-S 17-85mm IS USM Lens, which took pretty much all the ground display shots.

The real reason for the great aerial pics is this lens:

It's the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens, and it's absolutely outstanding. You can pickup one used from KEH camera and its pretty darn affordable over buying new.

Even as a total rank amateur photographer, just after reading a lot of how-to guides online about taking airshow pictures and using the camera and of course after RTFM, I was able to turn out some pretty decent pics if I say so myself.

The camera took pictures fast and the auto-focus worked great. I still need to learn a lot about the camera and its settings, but it's a fantastic starter camera. If you're on a budget and want to go DSLR, the D20 combined with a nice lens works quite nicely.

There are a few drawbacks going with a 10-year-old used camera: The LCD screen at the rear is quite small compared to today's DSLRs, so it's hard to see if the picture you took came out crisply; it can't do video; and it is a bit low on the mega-pixel count. Those are about the only serious drawbacks that I would be concerned about with this camera. To remedy those issues, you just throw more money at a more recent camera body - couldn't do that right now, so I'm happy with what I've got.

There was however a hardware bug. Murphy's Law can verify that it looked like Murphy's law was about to strike my debut with the camera.

This particular hardware bug was a real bug in the camera. It was a tiny round one with small legs. He might have been a camera mite. He showed up in great detail on the viewfinder and was moving around in a slow yet most frisky manner, typically trying to hang around the very center of the rangefinder. He wasn't on the outside of the lens, nor at the base of the lens, no, he was inside the camera body. Luckily he was in the upper mirror, otherwise every single one of my pictures would have had this bug photo-bombing the planes. How he got into the camera body I have no idea. He's apparently gone now but I think an internal cleaning of the camera body is in order. Thankfully he didn't mess up the pictures.

Oh, and there's an underwater case available for it......but that will be a post for another time.