Category Archives: CAF

The Most Boring Video Game In The Universe

There are projects and deadlines afoot. One of the larger ones involves my CAF gig as Finance Officer for the Southern California Wing and a conversion of our accounting records from Quicken to QuickBooks Online (QBO).

The nicest thing I have to say about QBO is that is probably is no longer in the top three worst programs I’ve ever used in my life. It easily was when I first looked at it about two years ago. Now, it’s probably just in the top ten worst programs I’ve ever used. When you’re stuck with the hand I’ve been handed on this one, you look for “good” wherever you can find it.

As an example of the difficulties involved, consider that  when our old file was converted to their new format and uploaded two years ago, there were thousands of “recurring transactions” created, every single one of which was wrong. Flat out wrong. Garbage. Useless.

Worse than useless in fact, since the “recurring transactions” function is one which I’ll need to rely on heavily. But I can’t use it because of all of the garbage that’s already in there. So I went in to delete the old stuff, the garbage.

3,153 useless, problem, garbage entries.

Where’s the delete button?

Well, I finally found it. On each item listed (slowly, because QBO has to refresh the screen via its Internet connection after every change, so you had damn well better have a good one) there’s a tiny icon that will let you edit, duplicate, or delete that entry. Hit “delete.” Now, of course, you’re asked to confirm that you want to delete the entry. Hit “yes.” Wait for the screen to refresh. Repeat.

Cool – so how do I delete all of them? (If you see this coming, don’t spoil it for those who haven’t been exposed to QBO yet.)

I searched and searched for something that would let me block a whole bunch of entries and once and delete them en masse. Can I do a “page” of 50 or 150 or 300 at a time? Nope. Can I go down the list and highlight or tag a whole bunch of them one at a time and then delete them, like I would spam emails? Nope.

So I went to the “help” function, which actually isn’t really any help from QBO at all, but a portal into a user community. The people who wrote the program don’t seem to be able to take the time to answer questions, but I can throw myself on the mercy of those who also have to use it and pray for guidance.

Guidance was swift and brutal. There is no way to delete those 3,153 entries other than to do it One. Entry. At. A. Time.

Click the icon, click “delete,” click “yes,” wait for the screen to refresh, repeat until the heat death of the universe.

Mind you, this needs to be done in addition to the thousands of records of data that need to be entered and reconciled and verified from the old program file. This is just one tiny little aspect of the bigger problem.

The only good news is that this particular useless task can be done on my iPad. That means that if I need to take a break and sit and watch a ballgame or just plotz for an hour or so, I can mindlessly work through another few hundred entries. At lunch time, every single day this month so far, you’ll see me sitting out on the plaza, stuffing my face with one hand and Icon-Delete-Yes-Waiting with the other.

It was while doing this today that someone saw me and came over to chat. “I see you here every day on that thing. What are you playing?”

Yes, yes, please tell me, you look so engrossed! Minecraft? Some new MMORPG? Pokemon Go? How can I get in on some of this?

“The most boring video game in the universe.”

“So…why are you playing it?”

Nothing gets past some folks.

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Raccoon Wrestling (DEFINITELY A Euphemism)

Tonight as they’re trotting around up there I know there are at least four. I haven’t stuck my head up there (not a particularly good time to be climbing in the dark, especially to invade the territory of some potentially pissed off critters) but at least twice I’ve heard them quite clearly walking by in single file (to hide their numbers, no doubt) and it’s not that hard to tell.

In the last year or two we’ve learned that they’re a bit solitary and usually the only time you’ll see two adults together is if it’s mating season. When you hear a larger group (like the ones in the other pictures I’ve published before) it’s usually a mother and her young, a grouping that can last up to a year and a half.

January – two of them, almost every night. June – at least four of them, almost every night.

One doesn’t need to be Marlin Perkins to figure out how we got from a pair to a full house. (Again, it might be easiest to download them all and then “flip” through them to animate the series.)






























Note the time stamps – that’s about three minutes.

Two hours later, she’s still looking a bit “rumpled,” don’t you think?

 

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Raccoon Wrestling (Not A Euphemism)

As I threatened to do yesterday, this evening I went up on the roof and pulled down the trailcam.

Are there raccoons up there? Let’s put it this way. It was about sunset, maybe a little after when I went out. When I unlatched and rolled open the heavy sliding glass door to the patio, which is directly under the entrance to their under-eaves hidey-hole, there was a clatter of feet above me as they scrambled back inside.

“Run away!! Run away!!”

As I was walking around on the roof, maybe ten feet from said hidey-hole entrance, I could just see a little black face peeking around the corner in the shadows, ready to sound the alarm if I did anything “funny.”

I did not do anything “funny.”

I did pull off over three months of pictures. Over 10,000 pictures. (I won’t put all of them up here, although that would be an interesting thing to build a twitterbot for…)

One of the first things I did find was an example of the kind of ruckus that I was complaining about last night. This series of photos covers about ninety seconds and makes the sort of racket that will wake me up all the way at the other end of the house.

For best effect, download them all and then “flip” through them quickly to more or less animate them.
























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What’s The Buzz? Tell Me, What’s A’ Happening?

While we did build these hangers to be the home of flying things, we prefer fixed-wing critters.

No bees or beekeepers were harmed in the making of this story.

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Maintenance Saturday 

Lots and lots of aircraft undergoing maintenance, routine and/or otherwise, at the CAF SoCal hangar today.

The P-51 is getting closer to flying again, we just need that big spinny thing on the nose!

The Spitfire is getting some touch up paint.

The Hellcat was having some hydraulic issues in the landing gear so it was being elevated a bit and working some gear swings.

The Navion was having some engine work.

We had three rides scheduled today for the T-6, but a pre-flight mag check showed and issue. Safety first! All of our riding customers were patient and chilled while we worked the issue. In about two hours, they had found it, fixed it, and were giving customers their money’s worth!

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Bomber Flight Video

​​​Videos from yesterday’s flight in our PBJ bomber. One of the striking things to me was the differences in the sound of the engines in various places.

From the waist gunner’s seat on the starboard side, just aft of the wing. ​​

From just aft of the round (and open!) hole on the starboard side. Listen to the sound of those pistons popping!!

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From the tail gunner’s position, looking out the back.

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Bomber Flight

If you’ve been here any time at all, you’ve seen our PBJ, including its first flight after 23 years of restoration.

If you’re new, it looks like a B-25 bomber, but it’s not quite the same. And by “our” I mean the Commemorative Air Force Southern California Wing (CAF SoCal), where I am on staff (my volunteer second job) as Finance Officer.

Every good WWII bomber needs a tail-gunner position, as well as a machine gun on either side. From this view you can see the starboard side machine gun just aft of the wing, the tail gunner’s position between the tails, and a big, round, open hole just aft of the starboard machine gun. Keep those in mind.

Today we had a flight with a handful of paying customers (FYI, for a very reasonable price I can get you hooked up as well…) and at the last minute (literally) a seat opened up. We hate to have empty seats if there are CAF members around who want a ride, so one of the PBJ crew stuck their head in the office to see who was there. Since I hadn’t flown in the PBJ yet, I was told to take a seat.

The view here is aft. That starboard machine gun is in my face on the left and we’re looking back toward the tail gunner’s position, all buckled in for takeoff.

Once in the air we could move around a bit, very carefully. Here’s the view out of that port side machine gun bay, about 4,500′ above Ojai.

Back there is where the tail gunner’s position is. Good thing we’re not in an incredibly LOUD aircraft that’s bouncing around a bit. Wait… (It was actually a gorgeous day for flying, very calm up there.)

I got my turn to go back to the tail gunner’s position. It’s freakin’ incredible, a view that you have never seen before to have the ground slipping past from underneath you.

From the Ojai Valley we crossed over Simi Valley. Here we’re still looking straight back toward Ventura and the ocean way off in the distance, with the 118/23 transition on the left.

The view forward from the tail gunner’s position. It’s not terribly claustrophobic at all, but there’s not a ton of maneuvering room either.

Moving up from the tail gunner’s spot, that big open port is on my right. Everyone who thinks of aircraft as being sealed aluminum and titanium tubes with no openings to the outside air – you should fly this!

Back in my aft-facing seat, we were on final approach when the tower asked us to slow down because of a Cessna in front of us. We were already as slow as we could get without doing that whole “no-speed-equals-no-lift-falling-out-of-the-sky” thing, so instead we did a couple of big 360° steep turns. Definitely an “E” Ticket!!

Someone was having a good time.

Back on the ground, we “announced our presence with authority” to the wedding reception and quinceañera going on at our hangars. (We make a big chunk of our operating income by these rentals – if you need a big venue in Ventura County we’re the biggest and I know people who know people. Hell, I AM a people!)

“Semper Fi” is the one and only true PBJ still flying. There are a couple dozen airworthy B-25s and one or two are advertised as PBJs, but they’re not. I look forward to flying “Semper Fi” again and again in the future.

Hard to stop grinning.

For the rest of the day, people will walk up to you in the hangar and immediately say, “You went flying this afternoon, didn’t you!”

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