Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Passing

This lil blurb from the Usual USAF Source caused a twinge of something like regret and/or sadness in me this morning:
One-Ring Circus
Workers at Misawa AB, Japan, began a year-long project to demolish the base's "Elephant Cage" antenna that the Air Force used for gathering radio signals intelligence for nearly 50 years, announced base officials. "During its long life, the antenna played a major part in the Cold War and beyond," said Col. Andrew Hansen, vice commander of Misawa's 35th Fighter Wing. "However, the technology has outlived its usefulness," he said in the Oct. 17 release. The three-ringed, 137-foot-tall AN/FLR-9 antenna was part of a global network that intercepted and pinpointed the location of Soviet and Communist-bloc radio communications. The array, completed in 1965, could detect and locate signals from up to 4,000 nautical miles distance, according to the release. Misawa's 373rd Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group controlled the antenna until demolition work began on Oct. 15. A similar antenna at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, is the only remaining AN/FLR-9 worldwide, said officials.

The FLR-9 was the "sister system," if you will, to the FLR-12 I worked on back in the day (see here, that's the FLR-12 antenna farm and ops building at Wakkanai, Japan).  But back to the FLR-9... From The Wiki: 
FLR-9s were constructed at the following places:
USASA Field Station Augsburg (Gablingen Kaserne), Germany
Chicksands, England
Clark AB, Philippines
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, USA (formerly designated as Elmendorf AFB)
Karamursel, Turkey
7th Radio Research Field Station/Ramasun Station, Udon Thani Province, Thailand
Misawa AB, Japan
San Vito dei Normanni Air Station, Italy

Advances in technology have made the FLR-9 almost obsolete.
"Almost obsolete" is prolly being too kind.  That said, I've roamed around the vicinity of the elephant cages at Chicksands, Karamursel, and Ramasun Station and it grieves me to know the old world is fading fast, if not gone.  But Hey!  All things must pass.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Panic In Portales!

Well, no... not really.  Just concern.  I'm just in from a visit to my doctor and was asked the following questions during check-in:
Have you traveled to West Africa lately?

Have you had contact with anyone who might have Ebola?
Negative on both counts, Ma'am... and did our gub'mint mandate you ask these questions?  "No," sez she, "but our management did."  "Well, now," sez I.  "How interesting."

So we did our bid'niz with the lovely Dr. Erika Garcia and got a referral to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist over in  The Big(ger) CityTM.  We have some sort of stubborn issue with one of our nostrils which involves a growth that resists antibiotic ointment and weeps a very small amount o' blood when I apply the meds.  Cue the "It's always sumthin'" chorus.

Oh yeah.  We also got a flu shot AND a pneumonia shot.  The flu shot was painless but that pneumonia shot HURT.  I have no ideer what's in the P-vaccine but it stung the bejeezus outta me.

Beer me!

Kinda Unusual

The view from the study window this morning...

And, for comparison's sake, last July...

Fog in an arid climate.  Who'd a thunk it?  I think I MIGHT have seen three foggy days in the 12 years I've lived on The High Plains o' New Mexico.

This caught my eye while goin' through the overnight mail:

That describes me to a tee.  What AM I doin' right?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

The Grateful Dead...

There are things you can replace
and others you cannot
The time has come to weigh those things
this space is getting hot -
you know this space is getting hot
I told Althea
I'm a roving sign -
that I was born to be a bachelor -
Althea told me: Ok that's fine -
So now I'm out trying to catch her

Can't talk to me without talking to you
We're guilty of the same old thing
Talking a lot about less and less
And forgetting the love we bring 
Getting hot?  It got hot and burned out, long ago.  But here we are, talking about less and less and forgetting the love we bring.  What a great tune this is.

Story Book Endings

We almost had two such endings yesterday... one worked out and one didn't.  Here's the one that worked:

The game was a 0-0 tie until nearly the last possible moment in OT when The Captain brought home the win.  It doesn't get a whole lot better than that, Gentle Reader.  I was semi-upset when it came time to tune into the game last evening and found The Powers That Be mandated US coverage of the game would be provided by Hockey Night In Canada.  This wouldn't upset me normally but last night?  Yes, and that's mainly coz the HNIC guys are such homers.  It gave me GREAT pleasure when the Wings won the game, if only because it shut the HNIC guys right the Hell up.  Well, that and back-to-back wins over the Hated Leafs.  The fact the Wings took a home and home over Toronto... in very convincing fashion... is sweet, indeed.

I was conflicted last evening, given the Wings and ND were playing at nearly the same time.  I got to watch all of the hockey game's first period without interruption but the remote sure got a work out after that.  Remote workouts ended with Number 40's OT goal; I watched the second half of the ND game in its entirety and that game certainly lived up to its billing, to the point where I think it was prolly the best football game I've seen this year... except for the ending.  I jumped up off the couch shouting "Yes! YES!!" when Golson completed a pass into FSU's end zone with 14 seconds left for an apparent game-winning TD.  But, no.  The play was negated by a VERY dubious pass interference call and FSU squeaked out a win.  From the linked article:
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was not happy with the call.

"We execute that play every day," Kelly said "And we do it legally and that's the way we coach it. We don't coach illegal plays."
I can vouch for the fact Mr. Kelly wasn't the only one who wasn't happy with that call.  A couple o' thoughts come to mind here... (1) "Sometimes it bees that way" and (2) "It's always sumthin'!"  It was a great game, even if the Irish were robbed.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday: Good Visuals But...

... very, very stupid.

From the Usual Source of these things:
Base jumper John van Horne leaps from the 1,381ft KL Tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in to a roof-top pool of another 34-storey building in the distance.
Just climbing the tower is dumb, jumping off the thing is even dumber. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Really Should Do This More Often*

From the Usual USAF Source...
Joint Power
Air Frame: Ships from the George Washington and Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Groups and aircraft from the Air Force and Marine Corps operate in formation at the conclusion of Valiant Shield 2014, Sept. 23, 2014. Valiant Shield is a US-only exercise integrating Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps assets, offering real-world joint operational experience. (Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Trevor Welsh)
A rather dull day for a photo-op, right?  But the pic IS impressive, click to embiggen.

* You might ask "Do what more often, Buck?"  "Publish more pics and stories about our allies the other services" would be my answer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Not Your Father's Air Force XXXVII

And now airmen can get a medal for sitting in a hole...
Criteria for New Medal Announced
The Air Force last week announced the criteria for the new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, which Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James approved in late May in an effort to acknowledge and help retain high-caliber airmen in the nuclear mission. Airmen who were assigned, deployed, or mobilized on a nuclear mission to a wing, center, or below for 120 consecutive days or 179 nonconsecutive days are eligible to receive the award, retroactive to Dec. 27, 1991, according to a release. "This service medal provides a clearly visible way to recognize the dedication and professionalism of our airmen who are the guardians of our nation's nuclear deterrence. Because of our success, often times nuclear deterrence operations can be overlooked as a critical function," said Col. Zannis Pappas, the missile operations career field manager. "The medal acknowledges the special challenges faced by those airmen charged with supporting the nuclear enterprise and will be a point of pride by all who wear it." The medal is expected to be available in March 2015. Nominations for current airmen are to be processed through the normal chain of command. Retired or separated airmen and families of deceased airmen can submit requests to the Air Force Personnel Center, states the release.
Airmen performing nuke missile duties will get more money, too.  Fame and fortune, USAF-style.  

Apropos o' not much, one wonders if USAF will award the medal to the guys who loaded nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on a BUFF that flew from Minot to Barksdale without the aircrew knowing they had live weapons aboard.

And then there's this in other, better, USAF news:
Three Million and Counting
—Marc V. Schanz
The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper family of systems and its variants have amassed three million flight hours, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced Oct. 14. Of the nearly 222,000 total missions completed in MQ-1 Predator/MQ-9 Reaper and Gray Eagle aircraft as of Oct. 2, almost 90 percent were flown in combat. The milestone represents the widespread usage and growth of remotely piloted aircraft systems for applications from intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance gathering to strike operations. Flight hours have grown at an explosive clip for the systems, with just 500,000 hours flown as of 2008, a million two years later, and two million in 2012. The Air Force's own MQ-1 and MQ-9s hit two million flight hours last October. According to the company, it has produced a total of 700 airframes of the various types to date, and is currently testing upgrades and modifications to add range and capacity to the Reaper.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: I get a serious case o' the willies whenever I'm out at Cannon and see a Predator shooting touch 'n' goes in the pattern.   I suppose that's yet another example o' Ol' Fart Syndrome rearing its ugly head.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Another One o' Those Time-Lapse Video Thingies

Time-lapse vids seem to make everything much better than real life, including big cities.  Case in point:

The usual, customary, and reasonable drill applies:  View full-screen HD.  The colors are simply VIBRANT.

h/t:  Digg, where they say:

This Cool Layer-Lapse Makes Boston Look Freakishly Beautiful

And not a single drunk college kid in sight!
Thank The Deity At Hand for that last, eh?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Caught My Eye

So, there I was... going through the overnight mail, a piece-part o' same bein' a missive from Amazon concerning new music releases.  Which is where I saw this:

Doncha miss album cover art?  I mean real, big-ass vinyl albums, not CD jewel boxes.

That's the cover art from a new Pink Floyd album due to be released in November.  Here's an excerpt from the Amazon editorial review:
In 2014 David Gilmour and Nick Mason re-entered the studio and, starting with unreleased keyboard performances by Richard Wright, who sadly died in 2008, added further instrumentation to the tracks, as well as creating new material. The result is The Endless River, including 60% of recordings other than the 1993 sessions, but based upon them. The title is a further link, '... the endless river...' being part of the closing phrases of High Hopes, the final song of the previous Pink Floyd album. 
Interesting, but I'm not sure I'll lay down 31 Yankee Dollars for the 2014 Floyd.  But I MIGHT.

In other news... what's Sunday without an EIP re-run?  I was curious about how many times I've mentioned Pink Floyd here at EIP and it turns out that I've posted quite a bit about them.  Not too surprising, eh?  Here's one such mention, which is pretty much a throw-away when it comes to Pink Floyd:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hey! It's December!

I watched a re-run of Frontline’s Secret History of Credit Cards on PBS last evening, and absorbed some distressing facts on how Americans use credit cards, and much more distressingly, how banks exploit credit consumers. “Exploit” is a pretty loaded word, but it fits. I would say that, as a capitalist, I’m somewhat conflicted about this exploitation, but I’m not. The principal of Caveat Emptor should apply here, in other words, an intelligent individual would avoid the exploiters and do business with banks that are on the up and up. But they’re all in the consumer exploitation business. When it comes to credit cards, the contract language banks provide you is so opaque and so lengthy and so fraught with legalese that no one, and I mean NO one, short of a contract law attorney, can understand the damned things. And nearly no one reads ‘em, either. According to Frontline, anyway, and I tend to believe the assertion because, well, I’ve never read mine.

Some “fun facts:”
145 million Americans carry credit cards
55 million pay off their balance in full every month
90 million Americans carry a balance. These folks are known as “revolvers.”
35 million of the revolvers make only the minimum payment every month.
The average balance…average…is $8,000.00. Per card.

And worst of all, there is nearly NO limit on the interest banks can charge on credit card accounts. You may thank the Supreme Court’s Marquette Bank decision, which effectively eliminated usury laws, for that. (Details here.)

What allowed Wriston to make good on his threat to leave New York was a little-noticed December 1978 Supreme Court ruling. The Marquette Bank opinion permitted national banks to export interest rates on consumer loans from the state where credit decisions were made to borrowers nationwide.

So by early 1980, with New York refusing to go along, Citibank set out on a search for new place to base its credit card division. The pickings were slim. Usury laws were still on the books in the vast majority of the states. And federal banking rules required that before banks could set up operations outside their home state, a formal invitation had to be issued by the legislature of the state they wanted to enter. Local bankers had prevented any state legislature from ever extending such an invitation.


In an effort to stimulate the local economy, South Dakota was in the midst of eliminating its usury laws. Mr. Wriston told Mr. Janklow that if South Dakota would quickly pass a bill inviting Citibank into the state, he would bring 400 jobs. To preempt concerns from local banks about new competition, Citibank also promised to open only "a limited" bank. "We'll put the facility in an inconvenient place for customers and we'll pay different interest rates," Mr. Wriston recalled telling Mr. Janklow. "All we want to do is use it to issue cards.''

I learned my own personal credit card lesson back in the early ‘70s, before the Marquette decision. I’ll not point fingers or anything, but I cut up three or four cards at that point in time and paid off the balances, slowly but surely. It took me over five years to pay the bastards off, and that was at extremely modest interest rates, compared to today. I’ve not paid a penny in interest since. Well, not entirely true. I’ve paid interest once or twice. But it’s REALLY a rare occurrence. I know one thing, though. I’m awfully damned glad I’m not in the same credit card debt situation today as I was back in ’72.

I know another thing, too. The banks need to clean up their act when it comes to credit cards. It’s way past time. If they refuse, then it’s time for the government to step in. As I said in the beginning, as a good capitalist I should be conflicted on this issue. But I’m not. Wrong is wrong. Period.

This is The Weather Channel…and this is The Weather Channel On Drugs… So, I’m standing in the kitchen around 2030 hrs last evening, finishing up the dishes and just generally cleaning up. I have the Tee Vee tuned to the WX Channel, “Your Local on the 8s” comes on, and my head just whipped around. Nothing to see but the familiar blue screen with WX data, but what’s this? Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days?” Yes, it most certainly is! I’ll be damned…
You may have heard the song before, even if you’re not a Pink Floyd fan. For instance:

"One of These Days" is the song playing over the end credits of the Sopranos episode "The Fleshy Part of the Thigh".

"One of These Days" is featured in "The Lives of the Stars" episode of Carl Sagan's television documentary Cosmos.

And now The WX Channel. On drugs. A one time good deal, perhaps, or a momentary lapse of reason? Because the next and subsequent “Local on the 8s” had the usual innocuous, unidentifiable, guitar soft jazz background muzak music. I like Floyd better.

Speaking of weather…The storm that cut its teeth over the High Plains night before last through yesterday morning is kicking butt and taking names as it moves east and north. We only got a burst of bone-chilling cold and a dusting of snow, but the intersection of that cold front and moisture from the Gulf has dropped anywhere from eight to ten inches of snow on northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas. The St. Louis area was suffering from a pretty good ice storm, with the usual mass power outages ice storms bring. And it ain’t done yet. Not by a long shot. Look out, East Coast…here she comes!

It definitely could have been worse here on the High Plains.

When Terror Strikes… My propane tank went to “empty” overnight, as I strongly suspected it would. After all, our high yesterday was only 35 degrees and the low last night was in the mid-teens. In other words, maximum furnace run-time. The interior gauge LEDs indicate empty, but there’s probably a gallon or so left in the tank. So, at 0800 this morning I make the call to the propane company in order to get in at the front of today’s queue. The nice lady on the other end of the phone sez: “OK, I’ll tell Albert to stop by, but it’ll probably be late this afternoon or early tomorrow morning. He had to go to Roswell this morning to get the truck inspected.”


After I told her I was “on empty” she assured me Albert would be by this afternoon. Good thing we’re warming up today. My brand new little ceramic heater should be able to hold the heating front until the heavy artillery arrives.

Speaking of ceramic heaters... I bought a new one yesterday, the fourth such in six years time. The danged things seem to get less and less efficient as time goes on, until they reach the point where you generate more heat by passing gas than the heater does running on full-stroke. In other words, they wear out. Faster than I think is acceptable, but that’s just me. I switched brands this time, moving from a Holmes heater to one made by Honeywell. In China, of course. Don’t get me started on that subject.

Today’s Pic: The interior of one of our local watering holes: The bar in The Roosevelt Restaurant. This bar is a great example of those old mahogany bars one found throughout the US in the 19th century. This particular example was found in an old abandoned bar near Roswell, disassembled and trucked to Portales, where it was lovingly and beautifully restored. The Roosevelt is the one place in P-town where you can get a good single-malt or small-batch (read: boutique) bourbon. January, 2003.
Ah, Former Happy Days, part IV or V... which is to say when we were still in El Casa Móvil De Pennington and when we were generating blog posts that actually had some content.  The Roosevelt is also a memory at this point in time but that magnificent bar still exists in the Italian restaurant that took The Roosevelt's place.  We're happy about that, dontcha know.