Leaving Las Vegas

Our four days in Las Vegas were up. Leaving town we passed a site where I expect to return some day as a sworn enemy.

“There is evil there which does not sleep…”

But why “as a sworn enemy” you might ask if you’re not familiar with American professional sports? “Evil”?

Oh. Yeah. That.

My current masks have attracted a bit of  notice in Las Vegas. This is a good thing!

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Filed under KC Chiefs, Photography, Sports

Always An Interesting Place

It cooled down a bit (low 90’s) after sunset and we were out of other set plans, so I went out walking the Strip for a couple of hours.

(Embiggenate by clickenating, as always)

“Interesting” is a great descriptor of this place – in all of the many and varied interpretations of that term!


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Filed under Panorama, Photography, Travel

Twentieth Anniversary

How does one celebrate one’s twentieth wedding anniversary? Well, some folks go to the French Riviera, some to New York, some just go out to dinner, some something somewhere in the middle.

We went out and beat the shit out of bottles, VHS tapes, dishes, a computer monitor, a printer…

It’s like a scene out of “Full Metal Jacket.” “Let me hear your war cry!!”

The protective gear is necessary – glass, plastic, metal shards flying everywhere. Along with every muscle, tendon, and ligament in my body. I’m going to need a fork lift to get me out of bed tomorrow.

There was much destruction. And sweat. And soreness tonight. It was worth it.

Dinner was at the Top of the World restaurant (rotating!) at the top of Stratosphere. Occasionally you would see someone plummet by past the 106th floor on the express route from the 108th floor to the 63rd floor (or someplace down there). We did not do that adventure for our twentieth anniversary. Maybe for the fortieth.

After that extreme destruction, hand to hand combat with inanimate objects earlier, an unusual amount of walking through casinos, and enough great food to sink a ship, we ended up with some amazing dessert.

Happy Anniversary, Ronnie! It’s been an adventure every day, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next twenty bring! Love you!


Filed under Ronnie

No Survivors

Long day, but some fun stuff and new sights. At the end of it all was a large ice cream treat with novel toppings.

It was called “The King Shake.” Not sure how the banana and bacon tie in with that name…

The end result had a look that reminded me of Chihuly Garden & Glass in Seattle.

On the inside, there were no survivors. But my cardiologist will be a winner!

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Filed under Photography, Travel

Laugh Track

I think my most hated thing on television is the laugh track.

There are shows that I used to find absolutely hilarious. “Two & A Half Men” and “Big Bang Theory” are two good examples. Then I realized that: a) the characters are real assholes, and b) there’s an omnipresent, relentless laugh track. It’s not a spritz of a couple chuckles here and a hint of a few guffaws there. Nope, it’s like being rolled over by a 250 ton Laughter Express bus and squished flat like a bug.

Once you have that switch flipped in your brain, once your perception has been re-tuned… Well, you’ll never watch it again.

Some favorite shows still have laugh tracks, but they handle it differently. “M*A*S*H” for example never ever has a laugh track during the scenes in surgery or with incoming patients. It really makes a difference.

On the other hand, while an episode of “Friends” was on last night and I walked into the room, the laugh track mugged me, stole my wallet and watch, and left me bleeding in the gutter. It was like swimming with piranhas. The worst part once I was being inundated was again realizing that: a) the characters are ALL real assholes, and b) they weren’t saying ANYTHING funny. There wasn’t even the slightest one-liner even approaching “borderline humorous,” but the laugh track would have us thinking that the funniest joke in the history of mankind had just been uttered. But if your brain can filter out the laugh track but still listen to the dialogue you can hear the “posturing one liner,” brief pause with medium laughter, response to set up the “joke,” brief pause with light laughter, punchline delivered in character from a self-centered, annoying jerk, longer pause with 100% over the top levels of laughter, rinse and repeat ad nauseum. But, again, if you could cut out the rest and just listen to the dialogue, it’s moronic and annoying.

That might be my standard moving forward. A laugh track might be an instant deal killer for any new show.

You know what show never had a laugh track but still had me laughing every show? And crying? And singing along? “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” that’s which show. It’s a freaking CRIME that it was cancelled!

[Insert laugh track here!]



Filed under Entertainment

No Context For You – July 18th

Well, maybe a tiny little bit of context.

This isn’t exactly “Find That Lizard” quality “no context” material (that makes sense in my head – you’re on your own) but what I wanted to show you is that mask. I found them early in the pandemic and lockdown. They’re custom printed with an FAA VFR map for the area of your choice. Mine are for Camarillo Airport.

These days the folks who do these are also doing shirts, hats, pajamas, all sorts of things with your choice of maps on them. That’s clever. That’s ingenuity at work. I hope these guys are making a fortune.

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Filed under Flying, Photography

Creeping Back To Normal At CAF SoCal

It’s been a long sixteen months at the CAF SoCal hangar in Camarillo (remember, I’m still on Staff there for the 8th year as Finance Officer) but we’re slowly creeping back to normal.

Our planes were all mothballed and our museum closed. We got a lot of maintenance work done, on both the facilities and the aircraft, but it’s time to get back to our mission.

The museum is open three days a week instead of six, but we’re getting some decent visitor traffic on those three days as word spreads of our soft re-opening.

We’ve had our first aircraft rides and have more being booked for the near future.

The Camarillo Wings Association will be moving ahead with the Wings Over Camarillo airshow on August 21st and 22nd. We’ll be flying our PBJ bomber, F6F Hellcat, Spitfire, and Zero. Plus all of our other aircraft and museum and PX (and the beer garden) will be on static display down at our hangars at the west end of the ramp, along with the STEM pavilion being in our “new” hangars.

(Clickenate to embiggenate!)

From left to right: The aforementioned “new” hangars, PBJ (gray bomber), F6F Hellcat (dark blue fighter), someone’s Cessna (white plane behind the F6F), YAK-3 (gray/blue camouflage fighter), AN-2 (huge yellow biplane), C-46 (silver cargo plane), MIG-17 (red jet), SNJ (yellow trainer), jeep & trailer.

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Filed under Airshows, CAF, Panorama, Photography

On The Side Of Caution

I’m never sure if it’s me or the machine that’s failed (actually – it’s me) but I don’t want to find out that I’m slightly dead if the machine is working just fine, so generally I’ll re-take the readings.

Fortunately, it’s a known issue and the recommended workaround is just to take the reading again. It turned out fine, I’m no more dead than I am most other days.

What a relief!

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Filed under Health, Photography

Friends Of Old Friends

If you’ve been following this drivel for any length of time, you’ll remember that at our old house we had some raccoons that were regular neighbors. (Actually, “tenants” might be a better term than “neighbors” since they lived up on our roof and in our trees.) The most famous incident (and best pictures) came from the great Racoon Rescue episode, but we had then around pretty much constantly., sometimes in some not quite safe-for-work situations, which in turn led to encounters with up to five curious and trouble-making kits.

Then we moved about a mile away, but at the top of a hill.

Since we’ve been here I’ve seen pairs of raccoons in the early evening around sundown sometimes, but always at the bottom of the hill. Never up here.

Until last night.

As I had folded up the camera tripod after photographing the ISS pass, I took a couple steps toward the front door and noticed that the bushes next to the door were rustling and moving about. I thought it was a cat at first (we have feral cats we see once in a while, often with a writhing lizard in its mouth) but if a feline this would have been a bobcat, not a house cat. Nope, not a cat. Instead, out wandered a raccoon that was almost as big as a mid-sized dog. He/she was ignoring me but headed over to the flower beds (I should have been wondering why those were being dug up) but freaked a bit when I pulled out my camera and grabbed a couple of pictures with the flash.

It’s a lousy shot, but under the circumstances and with the equipment at hand, good enough.

So – they will climb the hill. Duly noted.


Filed under Critters, Photography

ISS Pass – July 14th

It’s “high beta-angle” season on the ISS – short version without getting into too many discussions of orbital mechanics (maybe some other time…) is that for a few days the ISS is in the sun 24/7, so if it’s in your night sky it’s highly visible. There are some great passes coming up this week for most places, sometimes both in the sunset hours an hour or two after sunset in the evening and in the pre-dawn hours in the very early morning.

(Click to see it BIG – it’s worth it!)

It came up from the south-southwest (lower right, behind the telephone pole) and headed close to the zenith (i.e., directly overhead). One problem is that honkin’ big streetlight right there, which in turn caused caused those UFO-looking lens flares at the top. They’re reflections, not UFOs, which I guess makes them IFOs.

The second problem is those two jets coming out of LAX. The one on the right is Alaska SkyWest flight #3300 headed toward Boise…

(Image from FlightRadar24 app)

…while the one on the left is Delta flight #2408 to Seattle. Bye, guys!!

(Image from FlightRadar24 app)

The bigger problem is that it was barely an hour after sunset, not very dark, a little hazy so we got some reflected light pollution dancing around. I tried at first doing 1-second photos to keep the sky from over exposing, but I was also saving photos in RAW format in addition to JPG format and with a shot every second the camera couldn’t keep up with storing the images. So I switched to 4-second exposures and hoped for the best. “The best” in this case is a bit over exposed.

But then it swung through the zenith (center right) and headed down toward the north-northeast horizon (lower left). That sky didn’t have a street light or lens flares in it, and the sky was darker to the east, so the background light didn’t overexpose the frames quite as much. And that plane is unidentified, but it sounded like a Cessna or Cirrus, probably out of Van Nuys.

Lessons learned tonight? Again, I love this lens. Not much I can do about how bright or dark the sky is. But there are a number of opportunities for great evening passes for the next few days still. If you can, check out some of the NASA or other websites for ISS tracking to see if there’s a pass for you this week, or better yet, check out the Heavens-above.com site for pass predictions and maps.

Finally, there are also a number of opportunities for great morning passes for the next few days. You won’t see any pictures of those here. I don’t get to bed until nearly 1AM and I’m up a very few short hours later. I’m not getting up at Oh-freakin’-dark-thirty just to see a morning ISS pass. Sorry!


Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space