Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grousing about the weather

Nobody can do it like Lileks:

It is cold as Mars’ Arse out there. I’m already tired of it. Not a good sign; it’s like a stitch in your side sixteen yards into a marathon. The fussy idiot wind doesn’t help any either, poking its nose into everything. The dog wants to go out; the dog goes out, rethinks the wisdom of the effort, then barks to be readmitted. A few minutes later he recalls why he wanted to go out, and he walks over to the door and paws the frame once. The door is opened, and a hand is put on his hindquarters to expedite his passage. Once outside, his nose hurts, and he announces a desire for the comforts of civilization. I wonder if there’s anything to be smelled at all when it’s this cold. I wonder if dogs lean into the wind, nostrils wide, and think: I’m blind.

Lileks' dog is named Jasper, and I have to admit that at times I've taken to telling Brave Sir Hogarth that "he's being a real Jasper" whe he pulls stunts like that. To be fair to Jasper, though, he lives in frikkin' Minnesota, where they know cold like Columbus knows fast food.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kayak Skim Coat

The final thin layer of epoxy was applied to the kayak on Sunday. Unfortunately, quite a bit of dust got stirred up while it was still tacky, so the surfaces basically feel like the Braille version of War & Peace. The next step is a sanding with 220 grit paper, though, which will hopefully smooth it out. After that, it gets varnished. I have an open question that I need to resolve first, though. When I sand the epoxy, it loses the glassy shine that looks so darn good. Putting another layer of epoxy on brings the shine back. Here's the question: will varnish bring back the shine too? If not, I'm reluctant to sand it again. I'd rather just varnish it the way it is now:



Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Now we're talking!

There'll be flying today!



Later:

It turned out to be my first ever "Two Rick" day today. Co-pilot Rick and I braved the early morning cold to take a ride up to Urbana for breakfast. He had a new little camera with him that he wanted to try out. According to the meta data of the pictures, it's a Canon PowerShot SD1000. It's a tiny little thing, but delivers 7 megapixels of resolution in still photos, and a nice 640x480 resolution in video. I've always been disappointed in the smaller digital cameras because they are so unresponsive when you press the shutter release (and isn't that a really archaic term? I don't think they even have shutters), often taking 2 or 3 seconds to actually take the picture. That's just enough time to miss the picture you wanted often enough to make them virtually unusable. The little Canon didn't have that problem, though. I wouldn't say that the picture quality is as good as my Olympus (and for 25% of the price, I'd be pissed off if it was!), but it does a pretty good job and is insanely convenient. Rick and I often battle for space in the confines of the RV if we both have our full size cameras with us, but there was no crowding at all this morning.

Here are some of the pictures he took:













At under $200, we're talking stocking stuffer here.

As we were on the way back out to the runway to head back to Bolton, the second Rick called. Rick Lee is a professional photographer from West Virginia, and you've probably seen some of his comments here on the blog. If you've ever followed his Blogger name back to his own blog, you've seen some of the pictures he takes. If you haven't tracked him down that way, you can just follow this link:

http://rickleephoto.blogspot.com/

Rick and I know each other from way back in the days when the Internet still lived in the petri dish that was Compuserve. More specifically, we know each other from the Flight Sim forum on Compuserve. I flew down to Charleston, WV to visit him once many years ago, and have felt like I owed him a plane ride ever since. Back then, I was renting and was due back in Columbus before we could get it done, but since he was in town this weekend I was able to re-pay his hospitality from all those years ago with an RV ride.

We met at the airport right around noon and took a short hop out towards MadCo. The weather was friendly in that it was nice and smooth, but I've been warmer. To be fair, I've been colder too, but still... winter is definitely coming. The winds weren't too bad, being out of the south at about 7 knots. I managed to make a pretty good landing (in fact, all four today were pretty good) which is always nice when a guest is on board.

It's supposed to be nice tomorrow too, so at a minimum I hope to get over to MadCo to gas up before the prices shoot up.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A fresh perspective

Still no weather conducive to flying - it appears this drought of acceptable aviating weather may last longer than our current national nightmare which is, of course, the Hollywood writers strike. How we'll survive without fresh and new episodes of the dreck that passes for TV these days is simply beyond me. Well, the gusty, low cloud conditions can't last forever, so I went out to the hangar to day to prepare for the next chance to fly that comes along. There were a couple of little maintenance items to take care of, and I was really keen on trying out the fantastic little Bogen-Manfrotto clamp/head that I bought to mount a camera in the airplane. I suspect it will be primarily used to support the camcorder, although it is strong enough to hold the still camera too.

I picked a location right between the seats. The articulated head will allow for a straight ahead view, or off to either side. It won't be all that easy to adjust in flight, but nor will it be impossible to do so:





Here's some teaser video:

video

It's a little depressing - even a nice mount can't compensate for my camcorder being pretty crappy. Unless $750 for a nice Canon HV-20 HD Camcorder drops out of the sky and beans me on the noggin, though, that's a situation that's unlikely to improve. I know, whine whine whine.

That snippet of a Lancair Legacy taking the runway was a guy in the hangar across from mine that just finished building and was on his way for a test flight. It wasn't first flight, but it was definitely on of the first few. Avidyne panel, huge engine. Wow!

Since I had the Olympus out anyway and they were so darned colorful, I also took a shot of our front yard pear trees:



Also tried out the new flash unit on Brave Sir Hogarth. As you can imagine, he hated it:



And, as long as I was just hanging around the house, I started on the epoxy skim coat on the kayak. This time the epoxy goes on with a foam roller, and is then "topped out" with a foam brush. Once this coat is on, it will get lightly sanded with 220 grit paper, and then varnished:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why we need User Fees and increased fuel taxes

No, it's not to modernize the ATC system. No, it's not to alleviate commercial airline delays. No, it's not for anything that will benefit the little guy pilot.

Here's why:

With exquisite timing, Boeing chooses a travel weekend that could go down in the annals of airborne horror to deliver a top-of-the-line Boeing Business Jet that will be assigned to Congress - those folks who have charged billions in air travel taxes over the decades and left us with 1930s blind-landing technology.

The C-40C, jam-packed with 40 seats by luxury-jet specialists at Greenpoint Technologies, is the third and last of a batch ordered in 2005.


When commercial First Class simply won't do:






Never let it be said that we don't know how to treat our Royalty in this country.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why is this so funny?

I can't stop chuckling about this. I called XM today to put by Nexrad service in what they call "end of season" status, but I'm calling "wait until I sell the Anywhere Map and Garmin 295 to get a Garmin 396 and have everything on one package" status. Anyway, it took a total of five phone transfers to get to the appropriate service department, each of whom had to be told my phone number in order to identify my account. Nice transfer process, there. Anyway, what's funny is that each transfer was prefaced with an automated recording that warned me that "I might hear brief moments of silence during the transfer."

I find that humorous, for some reason. So, if a tree falls in a customer service phone queue, does it really make a sound? More metaphysically speaking, can you actually hear silence?

A self-aggrandizing, multi-syllibic treatise about nothing, really.

Fresh from feeling the stinging rebuke I received from an anonymous and potentially flawed algorithm that deemed my writing to be suitable for consumption at an Elementary School level, I feel the visceral need to forego my normal vernacular conversational tone, typically interlaced with contemporaneous popular culture references, and expound on my weekend anecdotes by utilizing the bloated and nearly incomprehensible linguistic style typically associated with such bloviating gas bags as a recent lugubrious aspirant to the office of the President of the United States, who now, thankfully, is returning to the relative anonymity and inconsequential nature of the sinecure that is incumbent with his role as a Forbes, and one that excels at repeatedly espousing vast wealth at that.

The aforementioned weekend was defined by an acute case of the seasonal malaise that afflicts all who find inclement weather to be detrimental to their beloved interests. With the visual obscuration resulting from the characteristic autumnal climatic patterns being what it was, the challenges of aviation were insurmountable to one of such limited abilities as myself, and for that matter, my aircraft. The ambient weather conditions intimated a change for the worse, possibly involving precipitation of the freezing variety, an event for which I find myself ill prepared. Realizing that, I decided that it would be expedient to perform the semi-annual transformation of my mechanized yard maintenance device, which we usually call the “lawn mower,” into its wintertime configuration of what we commonly refer to as the “snow plow.”

This transformation requires hours of back breaking exertion, accompanied by copious quantities of often blasphemous language. It is an endeavor best effectuated in isolation for that very reason, but simultaneously a task that would benefit from a second pair of hands. Lacking time or desire to recruit additional resources, however, I launched myself into the effort sans compatriot. And I paid the toll. The remainder of the day was spent in excruciating (well, not that bad, really, but that word brought a lot of syllables to the table) discomfort as I found it difficult to lie recumbent for the entirety of the Ohio State versus Illinois athletic event. Not that said event wasn’t fraught with opportunity to leap afoot with choice expletives and violent gesticulations, mind you.

On Sunday, with the weather being even worse that the previous day’s, I sanded the kayak, an activity that generated plenteous amounts of miniscule dust particles that infused themselves into my clothes, hair, and skin, and were thus transferred from my lair in the basement to the rest of the abode. As you can imagine, this was not very popular with the spouse. An expiatory late prandial celebration at the Golden Corral (a gastronomical buffet-style establishment well suited to both my periodic impecuniosity and midday appetite) sufficed to sooth the angst, and the remainder of the weekend was spent cocooned in marital and familial bliss.

So, how did I do? Well, let's consult the expert:

cash advance

Eh, good enough.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wow, that left a mark.

Ouch:

cash advance

But if I point it here, I get this:

cash advance

November Weather

It's all over the place. Snow flurries as I look out the window right now, but a thunderstorm earlier this week. The thunderstorm had its normal effect on Brave Sir Hogarth, who predictably went into freak-out mode as soon as he heard the approaching boomers.

We were ready this time, though. Having found that the earlier attempt at giving him a bowl of a fermented beverage made of hops and barley caused more problems than it solved, an over-the-counter medication was purchased in the pet aisle at Wal-Mart. The active ingredient of said product is L-Tryptophan, the very same stuff that turkey is chock full of.

Now, the idea that eating turkey makes you drowsy is widely considered to be an urban myth, but I'm not so sure. Not only did the product get Brave Sir Hogarth through the intestine-twisting stress of a thunderously loud weather event by calming him down, further evidence of the efficacy of the tryptophan amino acid is demonstrated by the great difficulty we are now having in getting him off the sofa, where he is lolling around insisting that we "get some damned football on the TV!"

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Testing.... more Gimp stuff

I created an animated GIF image to demonstrate the removal (albeit a bit sloppy) of extraneous background objects:



Unfortunately, it only 'animates' if you click on it. Hmm.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Awww, crap!

Or, "Why Not to Rush Your End Pours."

The front, most definitely not the way you want it to look:



The back, which is still (although I guess there's no guarantee that it won't sag too, but I had to being the boat back in for the night) looking ok:



Where do I go from here? Well, the plan for now is to wait until spring and re-do the front pour. There's no way of getting the droopy stuff out of there, so my boat is going to be a pound or so heavier than it should have been. I'm also very nearly out of the epoxy that came with the kit, so I'm going to use the West Systems stuff I used on the airplane.

Saturday with Co-pilot Egg

We might fly somewhere today, we might not. But if we don't, it won't be because of the weather! Here's the weather-out-the-back-window report:



Looks like Fall is giving way to Winter. See the frost line along the edge of the shadow thrown by the house? Brave Sir Hogarth didn't spend much time on his morning survey of his domain today; he knew he had a warm spot in front of the fireplace waiting for him and he was in a big hurry to get to it.

Temperature-wise, it probably isn't the best day to do the end-pours on the Kayak (which is, quite simply, a matter of pouring a cup of epoxy down into the ends to add a little strength to the pointy parts) since the epoxy likes a little heat to cure, but it's something that has to be done outside, and the temps are only going to get lower. Hey, it doesn't really have harden until March, right? All I need for it to do today is harden enough so that it won't run back out when I take the boat back down to the shop later today.

It's big, ain't it:



While we waited for the epoxy to set up, Co-pilot Egg and I flew up to Lima/Allen Co. to have lunch with Brandon, the world record holder for "Shortest Time Between Buying and Losing an RV-4 to a Thunderstorm." Not a record he's particularly fond of, as you can imagine. Egg flew most of the way up. She still flies mostly on instruments, even though she can see out the front now:



A light touch on the controls is the secret to RV flying:



On course, and on altitude:



I took over just in time to make a horrendous bounce on landing. I blame performance anxiety: I knew Brandon would have his camera. Sigh.

At least it was a still camera, and not the "preserve a bad landing forever" video camera:





Friday, November 02, 2007

Books - they know things

I had ordered a GIMP book from Amazon a few months ago, but it never showed up. Amazon finally just canceled the order. I looked elsewhere for it, but it was only available used at prices well north of $100. Odd, that. Using man-budgeting, this meant that I now had $100 to spend on GIMP books, so I bought two.

I'm learning a lot from them. Consider this:

















Pretty slick, eh?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Finally....

Way up there on the "List of Things No One Cares About" is the news that I finally taught myself how to remove that damned inconsiderate fellow's foot from my favorite Oshkosh picture.

Before:



After:



It's pretty fast and easy once you figure out how to do it. It's just the figuring out how to do it that apparently takes more than a year.