Plane down

I saw this video on today:


The plane in the video looked sadly familiar…  Turns out it was this plane:

First solo (4)

This was the plane I did most of my flight training in, including my first solo (after which this picture was taken) and my checkride.  Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the crash, although I’m guessing the pilot is suffering from a bruised ego; but I talked to my friend who owns the plane and the airport and she said that insurance will probably total the plane.  That’s a shame, it was a fun plane to fly.

Here’s a more detailed video about the crash from an article here:

The piece has some glaring errors, though.  First, the reporter says the pilot was taking off to the east on runway 32.  Not possible.  Runway 32 goes northwest (hence the number 32, which means the runway heading is 320 degrees, which is northwest).  In fact, the pilot was using the opposite direction of runway 32 which is runway 14 (140 degrees being the opposite direction of 320).  He also says that the situation could have been worse but for “light winds and quick thinking by the pilot”.  I’m guessing that a gust of wind and some poor piloting is exactly what caused the accident.

Football and cheerleading

We got back this year’s New Tampa Sharks football and cheerleader photos for the kids.  Here are a bunch of them:

Owen 2010 football photo

Nicole 2010 cheer photo

Owen and coach

Cheer team

The team “attitude” photos were pretty cool.  They took individual photos of everyone and then composited them into a single picture:

Sharks football attitude photo

Sharks cheerleaders attitude photo

Lastly, here’s a video of Nicole’s squad performing at the 2010 Pop Warner Cheer Jam at the USF Sun Dome:

Fun in stereo

Beth’s old car stereo hadn’t worked right in a long time, so I bought her a new one.  The old one was a JVC head unit so I got a new JVC unit thinking that the installation would be pretty simple, hopefully just a plug and play.  Of course it didn’t work out so well.  Turns out JVC changed their standard connector on the back of the stereo so the old one wouldn’t work and I had to do all of the wiring manually.

I was out of connectors so I went out in search of a good solution.  If we were still in California I would have just gone to Frys where I’m sure they would have had eight different good options, but we’re not so I tried Home Depot first.  They had crimp connectors which are OK, but tend to come loose over time.  They also had some heat shrink connectors, but those are a pain when you have so many wires all bundled together and besides, my workbench is made of particle board which is not a good surface for using a glow torch to heat shrink the connectors.  So, I figured the crimp connectors weren’t a horrible choice but maybe I could do better.

I drove over to Radio Shack since they’ve always had wiring and electronic supplies, right?  Nope, not any more.  The guy said they stopped carrying that stuff so clearly I no longer have any reason to ever set foot in a Radio Shack again.  (I don’t need a new cell phone or iPod accessory…)  The guy there suggested Best Buy so I drove over there.  They had nothing either.  But I did notice that the car stereos they were selling were significantly more expensive than anywhere else I’ve seen, including Crutchfield from whom I bought the one I was installing.  (I know I could have gone back to Crutchfield for wiring supplies, but Beth wanted her stereo installed TODAY so ordering online wasn’t an option.)

So I schlepped back to Home Depot and picked up the crimp connectors.  I used the self-service checkout which is fast, but there is a downside.  With that checkout you cannot chat up the cute checkout girls.  Of course the cute checkout girls probably consider that an upside…

Anyway, I got home, spent another hour and a half or so working on it, and got the stereo installed successfully.

This and that

It's gotten cold here the last few days.  FREEZING cold, like in the 60's!  I just can't handle even marginally chilly weather any more; I guess I've been in Florida too long now.  But it has been nice to open up the windows and air out the house.


I think that Tuesday has become my favorite weekday.  I usually don’t have very many meetings at work and it’s the one day of the week when I normally don’t have to be anywhere in the evening.  Although today, the crushing weight of project issues at work is dampening my enthusiasm for the day.


Owen’s football team is still winless, although they’re playing fairly well.  On Saturday, we took a 0-0 tie into the last minute and the other team broke free for a long run (helped by some blatant holding that was missed by the officials) to score the only TD of the game.  One of the players’ mom lit into the coaches before the game, telling us (in detail) how we “suck” as coaches.  Her primary complaint was that her son doesn’t play enough.  Like no coach has ever heard that complaint before!  At least she was finally coming to us with her complaints in person.  This particular woman (a horrible person) has spent the better part of two seasons now complaining about the coaching behind our backs (which of course is duly reported to us by our wives who usually have to listen to it).  So I guess that’s an improvement of sorts.  But the team is getting better each week and I don’t think we’ll go winless for the entire season.

Forgot his pads

Owen forgot his pads tonight for football practice, so his “punishment” was to run circles around one or more of the coaches for the entire two-hour practice.  It wasn’t my idea (it was our head coach’s), but I thought it was great.  Beth thinks it was mean (and assumed I had thought of it), but I bet he won’t forget his pads again…


I don’t get the thing with Mel Gibson.  I mean, I get the outrage (racism = bad), but I don’t understand why he would bring race into the argument with his girlfriend.  He’s trying to rip into her for whatever, so why muddle it up with the racism?  Isn’t that just getting off topic?  What’s the girlfriend supposed to get from that?”  I’m a lying whore and Mel’s mad at me… and black people.  Mel, if you’re trying to tear down your girl, stay on point!  Focus, dude, focus.

(This useless post brought to you by Danny Glover, who is too old for this s---.)

Oil me up

So I hear they’re now asking James Cameron the movie director to help fix the oil spill problem.  I think they’re now officially clueless about how to fix this.  Seriously, a movie director?  There’s no blue screen here.  Special effects and sh-tty story telling isn’t going to fix this!  And then I heard tonight that Kevin Costner is getting into the act as well?  Really?  Because he made “Waterworld” he’s now qualified?  Why not reach way back and get Patrick Duffy.  He was “the Man from Atlantis” after all.  Why not just get Aquaman to fix it all?

I”ve also heard that there is a fear that the next hurricane that comes along could pick up the oil and rain it down on us, which is pretty much what hurricanes usually do with the water in the gulf.  Or, in addition to the oil, that toxic oil dispersion stuff they’ve been using.  That’s about the scariest thing I’ve heard yet.

I think it’s high time that both the feckless government and BP admit that they have no clue whatsoever how to plug up that hole or how to clean up the oil.  We’re screwed, but at least this way we can prepare ourselves mentally.

By the way, my idea?  Use a bomb.  A BIG one.  Maybe even a tactical nuke.  Drop it into the ocean and detonate it under water and above the ocean floor over the leak.  The explosion would send a shockwave downward that could compress the ground and close up the hole.

Blacked out and seeing red

2010-04-24_232505Sometimes DirecTV really sucks.

I pay for the NHL Center Ice package so I can watch the games I want to watch.  Usually that’s the Sharks games, like tonight.  It’s game 6 of the Sharks / Avs series and naturally I wanted to watch and tuned in.  But instead of showing the game, tonight DirecTV had the game blacked out on both Center Ice channels that were supposed to be showing it.  During the playoffs, they will usually offer both local feeds of the game, from both teams.  But both channels tonight just showed a big DirecTV logo in the center of the screen.

Versus was also supposed to show the game, but since the Pittsburgh / Ottawa game went into overtime, they showed that instead until it was finally over.  Shouldn’t be a problem since I paid big bucks for Center Ice, but apparently DirecTV had a different idea.

I called DirecTV and spent 15 minutes on hold with their stupid automated system until finally I got a useless customer service rep who barely understood the problem in the first place.  He put me on hold so he could check to see if the game was supposed to be blacked out.  Yeah, they’re playing in Denver in a sold-out arena, so it makes so much sense that it would be blacked out in Tampa,. Idiot.  He quickly gave up and dumped me over to their “technical support” (after another wait on hold, of course).  That lady also put me on hold (again) to check to see if it was supposed be blacked out (again).

Meanwhile, I’m stuck staring at the big stupid logo on the screen, as if to remind me; hey, which TV service is screwing me out of watching the game?  Oh, that’s right!  There’s the logo right there.

While I was talking to the lady, Versus finally switched over to the game after a long postgame analysis of the Pittsburgh game, so I hung up on her.  I also sent them a nasty letter, which I’m sure will result in a form-letter response.  I asked them to explain to me why I should continue to pay a lot for Center Ice.  I thought the whole point of it is that I don’t have to watch whatever game Versus is showing, I can watch the game of my choosing.  That doesn’t work so well when they black out the channels I paid for.

When the game finally came on, I had missed about half of the first period, including the Sharks first goal.  Beth mentioned that they’d surely show a reply, but remember I’m stuck watching it on Versus, the all-Sidney-Crosby-all-the-time network.  During the first intermission, they didn’t show one single highlight from the Sharks game; not one.  All that they showed were highlights and interviews and analysis of the Pittsburgh game.  I expect that the second intermission will be more of the same.


I’ve always been blessed/cursed with a moderate amount of nerdulence.  I like computers and gadgets and Star Trek, for example.  And it turns out, that I like (some) math, too.  Those who know me well may laugh at that as I am notoriously bad at math.  It’s hard!  But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what others are able to do.  Specifically, I like real-world applications and the more unusual, the better.

For example, the Monty Hall Problem.  If you’ve seen the movie 21, then you know this one.  It goes like this: Suppose you’re on a game show and the host tells you that there are three doors and behind one of them is a new car and behind the other two is a goat.  And you get to pick one door.  After picking one, the host (who knows what is behind each one), opens one of the other two doors to reveal a goat.  He then asks you if you’d like to switch your selection, or keep the one you made previously.

Most people would claim that there is still a 1 in 3 chance of getting the car no matter what, but they would be wrong!  Others would say that, since one door/goat has been eliminated, you now have a 50-50 chance of getting the car no matter what, and they are also wrong.  It turns out, and this can be proven mathematically, that you have a 2/3 chance of getting the car if you switch your choice and only a 1/3 chance of winning if you don’t.  Weird, right?  But it works out in the math.  Wikipedia spells it all out.

Then there is the Missing Dollar Riddle.  I’ve loved this one for years, but it’s not so much a math problem as it is a riddle; in other words a trick question.  It goes like this:  Three guests check into a hotel room and the clerk tells them that the room will be $30, so they each give the clerk a $10 dollar bill.  The clerk then realizes that they are eligible for a discount and the room will only be $25.  So he gives them back five $1 dollar bills.  They each keep one dollar and tip the bell hop $2.

So, they each paid $10, but then got a dollar back.  So now they’ve each paid $9.  That nine dollars multiplied by the three guests is $27.  Add that to the $2 they tipped the bell hop and you get $29.  Where did the other dollar go?

As I said, it’s a trick and Wikipedia has the answer

On a more serious math note, I’ve always found the Fibonacci Sequence of numbers fascinating.  That sequence is the set of numbers that are the sum of the previous two numbers in the sequence.  For example:

0 + 1 = 1

1 + 1 = 2

1 + 2 = 3

2 + 3 = 5

and so on, so the sequence goes 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377 …


Where it starts to get cool is that if you divide any of the numbers in the sequence by the number immediately before it, you get a number very close to the Golden Mean (aka Golden Ratio) of 1.618.  The higher the numbers, the closer you get to the mean.  And this is where it gets cool, because that Golden Mean is used all over the place in nature.  Here’s a neat video which shows some of it:

Wikipedia has good articles on both the Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Mean.

As long as I’m in supernerd mode, I should also mention a couple of my favorite scientific problems / paradoxes.

The first is Fermi’s Paradox, which is pretty well known.  Fermi wondered why, given the size and age of the universe, and if Earth is typical, then shouldn’t extraterrestrial life be common?  If so, why have we not detected any at all?  No radio or light waves or any sign of intelligence anywhere else.  Projects like SETI are designed to try to figure this one out.  Here’s the Wikipedia link.

And finally, a fun one: Olbers’ Paradox.  I especially like this one.  It supposes, if the universe infinite and static, then why wouldn’t every spot of the night sky be filled with a star?  How can there be any black/empty parts of the sky?  Shouldn’t it be white all over?  If there are that many stars, one would expect to see one in any direction one looked.  It is solved best, I think, by the theory of the Big Bang and an expanding universe.  Wikipedia link.

Ok, enough.  I’m going to go pretend I’m cool and coach Owen’s baseball game.

AirFest 2010

I spent last weekend working at McDill Air Force Base at their annual AirFest airshow.  I was there with the Civil Air Patrol and we had perhaps 160 cadets or so and about 25 senior members (adults) as well.  It was very tiring, but fun!  Most of my duty was on transportation, driving a van and ferrying cadets and gear between our camp site on base and the flight line.  During the day on Saturday I also helped out at the CAP static display airplane, answering questions about the plane and the Civil Air Patrol.  The Navy Blue Angels performed both days and were fantastic.  On Sunday a big thunderstorm blew through early in the afternoon, so they had to close down the flight line for a couple of hours and suspend the air show.  When the storm had passed, they opened everything back up, but a lot of people had gone, so we got to get very close to the Blue Angels performance.

Here was my home for the three days:


The cadets get a very early morning breakfast:


I also took several photos from the airshow.  Here is one of the coolest planes they had, an F22 Raptor.  I got a walkaround tour of the plane from the pilot; it is very very cool!


Here is the CAP display aircraft, a Cessna 182 Skylane.  People enjoyed this one because we let them sit in the cockpit and take pictures.


Here’s a B52 Stratofortress - H model:


A B1B Lancer:


A V22 Osprey:


And here are several pics of a KC10 Extender tanker, from in and around the plane:





Finally, the cadets in formation at the end of the airshow:



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