Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

Two Entire Days Without a Cigarette!

Well, the Chantix I've been taking is really starting to work well.

I've been taking it for about a couple of months now, and at first, I didn't notice anything.

After a couple of weeks, it dawned on me that I wasn't smoking my first cigarette until almost noon, rather than as soon as I was up and around.

I've never smoked more than 3/4 pack a day, and after my cardiac "incident", I actually stopped cold turkey for almost a week, mostly because I was still shaking off all the meds they gave me in the hospital, and getting used to all the new ones.

I never got back up to what I used to smoke, keeping to about 5~6 a day, but the scientific part of me (along with all my family and friends!) kept telling me to knock it off, you idiot!

I've tried several times to quit before, but NOTHING helped with the nicotine addiction/craving.

Patches did NOTHING

Gum did NOTHING

The lozenges helped some, and could help me from jonseing if I had a meeting or something to do that absolutely precluded me from smoking, but as soon as I was free, WHAM! Fire that sucker up!

So, we'll just have to see how I do on Monday. If I keep myself busy, the Chantix blocks the craving, and I do just fine.

It's the "ritualistic" part of smoking that I think I miss now. The lighting up with a cup of coffee; the lighting up when I'm driving somewhere; the act of having something in my hands, etc.

Zora Arkus-Duntov, our beloved "Father of the Corvette" allegedly had some porcelain cigarettes made up when he had to quit. It gave him something to gesture with, and something to keep his hands busy.

I could do far worse than to emulate Zora......

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Mini-Tour" of USS Halsey DDG-97

This is a couple of weeks ago, from "Navy Days", and I hope I haven't forgotten too much of it!

You had to get an online ticket to see any of the ships that were in port, and which one you got to see was pretty much a random thing, although I heard you could get out of line and wait for a different group if you wanted to visit a specific ship.

It didn't matter to me, so I wound up getting to see some of the USS Halsey.

The Halsey is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, and is as far removed from the "Tin Cans" of WWI as a 747 is from the Wright Flyer.




This is the forward ramp leading to the ship, as seen from the line I was in:




The first thing I saw once I was on the main deck was a display of the Commanding Officers of the ship:




And, of course, the ship's placard:




Going through an exterior (it was open to the weather on both ends) pssageway, I snapped a picture of one of the frame numbering signs. It's identical to the ones painted on the Iowa, that were done back in the 1980's, and they probably date back much earlier. I'm sure some of my regular visitors will fill me in on the details!

I can read these well enough to know where I am on the ship, which is real handy yo know if you have to leave the compartment in a hurry!




And at the forward end of this portal was a very interesting sign:




This is what the sign is referring to, the forward section of the Vertical Launching System, consisting of 32 tubes:



According to the crew, each tube can be can be loaded with several different types of missiles, from the Surface-to-Air SM-2 "Standard" missile to Tomahawk cruise missiles, and antisubmarine ASROC missiles.



Just forward of the VLS is the ship's gun, a 5",  62 caliber, Mark 45 mod 4 rapid firing gun:



It's capable of lobbing a shell over 20 miles, and has a variety of ammunition it can use.

Here's the "business end":


Sorry for the crummy picture. My "fill in" flash just wasn't big enough. Next time I'll bring my BIG strobe to fill in the shadows.


We then started down the port side of the ship, stopping at a pintle-mounted SAW:



This was one of the longer stops on our little tour, as everybody wanted their picture taken "shooting" the gun. Out of the 10 or so people who posed with the gun, the only one who did it right was another old guy like me. He said it "fit better" than the M60 he used in Nam!

The sailor in the picture was our guide for the tour. Quite a jovial fellow who's been in the Navy some years, and was planning on making it his career.

God Bless You, sir!


And of course, the ships' bell:




Next was this little device, which I'm sure some of you know well:



In Ye Dayes of Olde, this was how they'd transfer a person between ships.

Yes, you could get quite wet, especially if the guys handling the lines didn't like you.

They don't really use it anymore, as it takes about 20~30 minutes to set up the ships in position, shoot the lines over, and then get everything else ready.

He told us they could have one of the RIBs manned and in the watter in under 7 minutes, so guess which method they use.....





Back on the starboard side, and heading aft.....




First stop was a CIWS gun:





This is the latest-and-greatest model, with a "surface target" engagement mode. The ones on the Iowa were strictly for engaging airborne or sea-skimming targets, but this one can go after small craft.

Note the optical/TV sight with the wiper blade on it, just above the gun barrels:





And yes, it was loaded with live rounds:



The ship also carries torpedos, but not the big ones like a Destroyer would have had during WWII.

These are Mk 46 "lightweight" torpedos, used against smaller surface targets, and submarines.

Although considering the range they have (12,000 yards), by the time a hostile sub gets that close, you're probably already taking on water and going down!





Here our guide and the lady sailor are explaining about the different types of missiles loaded in the aft VLS, consisting of 64 launchers:



IIRC, that's the USS Bunker Hill off the stern of the Halsey.


And another warning sign:



Some of the missiles have semi-active radar on them, which means the target is illuminated by the ship's radar until the missile gets within a certain range, and then the missile's internal radar takes over.

These are the target illuminator antennas:



They might look like they're pointed at the sky, but because they use an offset feed, they're actually pointed down much lower, towards the horizon:



And the helo deck:




And a warning sign I'm very familiar with:



One thing I kept noticing were what I thought were "fire fighting" nozzles all over the place:





I think these might serve a dual purpose; besides possibly being for fire suppression, I'll bet they're also used for NBC washdown.




The plaque between the nozzles is interesting, but I'm not sure what it means:



And the Mk 36 SRBOC dispensers, just like on the Iowa:




On our way back to the pier, I got some better pictures of this 25mm gun:



I asked if it was similar to the Bushmaster that the Bradley carries, but the crewman I asked didn't know, as he was from some different department. All he knew was that it was fully automatic.

Turns out it's a "Navalized" version of the Bushmaster.


Back on dry land, our guide  showed us some firefighting equipment, and explained how it was similar to, but different from, the equipment used on land.

For instance, your local Fire Department has a separate coat and pants for their turn-out gear. The Navy uses a one-piece garment to keep the heat from getting under the coat as they descend ladders, something their land-based brothers don't generally do.




I didn't get his name, but he was a great tour guide, very friendly and knowledgeable and an asset to our Country, and I'm sure his ship.

Bravo Zulu!



I could have gone back the next day and gotten a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bunker Hill that had been arranged for the Iowa crew, but we had something planned for that day, so I couldn't make it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

USS Halsey DDG-97 Post is "In The Works"

Just didn't feel like finishing it tonight.

 I'm organizing a huge stack of "stuff" that will go on eBay, and that means photographing it, and writing the listings, and that's taking me longer to do than I expected.

And I've also got a few pictures from a crew-only, 2nd Deck tour I was on Sunday. I've seen and posted 75% of it before, but this time we went as far forward as is allowed, and saw the anchor windlass mechanisms.

BIG stuff, and probably things you'll never see.....


Friday, August 14, 2015

70 Years Ago Today......

The Empire of Japan announced their surrender.

Due to the time differences, it was heard in the U.S. on August 14th, which was yesterday.

In commemoration, we had a memorial on the Iowa Friday at 1400 local time.

An old Army vet played the most perfect rendition of "Taps" I've ever heard live, and there wasn't a dry eye to be found.

Let us all remember that day so long ago, and the courage and sacrifice that led us to it.

The USS Iowa Veteran's Association has been aboard all week, and meeting these guys was quite an honor.

I met some who served on her during WWII, and some of the guys who were the very last on her; literally the guys that sailed her into the mothball fleet.

We greeted them all with "Welcome home", and they loved it.

We also learned a tremendous amount from them about how the ship has changed over the years, and the younger guys were an absolute wealth of information about the ship's current configuration.

And we thanked them all for their service.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Just Told the RNC WHY I Won't Give Them Any Money......

I rarely do any "Political Commentary" here as I'm not very eloquent at it, but today is different.

Just had an interesting phone call.

It was the RNC calling, and rather than just hit the "disconnect" button, I thought I'd talk to the guy, and see if I could get my viewpoint across.....

The call started out by asking me who I thought was "the best" candidate in the current crop of people vying for the official RNC head nod.

I told him that, at this point in time, I favored Scott Walker, but also liked Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina.

I'll get to Governor Walker, and my brief "chat" with the caller, in a bit....

I've got some gripes about Carly's time at HP, but for now, that's neither here nor there. She's extremely intelligent, very personable (I saw her speak at a Tech Convention once, years ago), and I generally agree with her political positions on things.

I like Senator Cruz because I also agree with his political positions, and especially like his stance in strong support of our 2nd Amendment rights. I think he's a bit of a dark horse candidate, and his "Pull No Punches" approach to things turns some people off, but I think you can say with confidence that he knows where he stands on issues, and he's got the gumption to tell you.

I like Governor Walker because again, I like his stand on the issues, and the fact that he has a proven history of getting a budget under control, and ending up with a surplus.

The fact that he survived a very nasty recall election shows to me that he can "get out the vote", at least in his home state.

Now, about that phone call.......

After chatting with the guy for a while (he claimed to be from Wisconsin, and claimed he was calling from Oshkosh), I was wondering when he'd get around to holding the cup out.

Sure enough, after niceties were over he asked for a pledge of "$100, $50, or even just $25", and I flat out told him "No".

I told him that unless and until the RNC ran a candidate that was a true fiscal and Constitutional Conservative, I wouldn't give them 10 cents.

I told him their record of running such candidates in the past had absolutely SUCKED, and that the party was well and truly on it's way to being irrelevant to their "core" or "base" or whatever they call it these days.

I told him that I would much rather give my money directly to a candidate than the RNC, as the RNC had quite a history of promising one thing, and then either "forgetting" it, or turning around and doing something almost 180* from what they said they'd do.

Once I told him no, he seemed to want to cut me loose, but I was able to hang on to him for a while, and he let me finish. I asked him to try and get my positions bumped up the line to somebody who would listen, and he said he'd flag the recording for review.

Considering the past history of RNC "promises", I doubt anybody else will listen to the recording, if indeed it was being recorded at all.......

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Battleship USS Iowa Fly Over Flight

Something to amuse my readers while I ponder what to post next....

OH, I know....my "Mini Tour" of the USS Halsey, DDG-97!

I'll try and get that up later.

In the meantime, enjoy!

These guys are from the Chino, CA "Planes of Fame" air museum, a place I've visited many times.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

We Might Be Leaving Kalifornaistan Earlier Than I Thought......

Sorry I didn't get going on this earlier. Much to my surprise (and delight!) my lovely wife has all of a sudden become rather "antsy" about moving to Colorado, and relegating the wonderful People's Democratik Republik of Kaliforniastan to the dustbin of history.

I guess it started a few days ago when I was looking at real estate prices in the Fort Collins/Bellvue/Laporte/Wellington area, and saw some rather nice properties for about $75~100k less than what we'd walk away with if we sold this place.

She ran the numbers again, and confirmed my SWAG about the valuation vs what we owe, and realized she could retire early.

ANYWAY.....we could get a nice 3br 2ba on at least one acre of land, and if we moved a bit further out, we could get the same thing on 2~3 acres, and be well within our comfort zone regarding PITI, and other matters that she understands very well.


Here's one on 2.6 acres for $290,000:




Here's one on a 13,000 sqft lot for $250,000:



I noticed there's a trend towards Manufactured Housing in some areas, like the 2.6 acre property shown above.

I have no real opinion on Manufactured Housing (different link than above), other than I know it's improved tremendously over the last 25 years. My step son's future Father-In-Law (great guy) owns a construction company and builds "custom" homes, and has an excellent reputation in the area, so I'll talk to him about manufactured housing as used in that area before I make any final decision on it.

As an Engineer, I believe that if it was properly designed, properly assembled with quality components, and properly transported and installed, it should be OK.

As a potential buyer, I have a lot to learn!


And of course you can get real "fixer-uppers" in the $150,000~$200k range, but I'm just too damn old to take on another "fixer-upper" house!



Some more Good Things:

Colorado sales tax is 4.5~6.5%, compared to 9+% here.

Gasoline is 75 cents to a buck a gallon cheaper.

Food is cheaper.

Colorado state income tax is a flat-rate 4.63%, compared to 13.3% here.

Colorado property tax is generally under 1% (varies GREATLY by county), but on a less expensive home, it would be less than we're paying now, and it could very well be half of what we're paying now.

And I found several references to a "Senior Exemption" on the property tax, but as of this time, I have no idea what that means.

Our current house payment is in the $1800 range right now, and after she ran the numbers (again), she realized our payment would be in the $800~$1000 range.

The last thing she wants me to research are utility rates, and I want to look into "High Speed" Internet access.

We might possibly be out of here in two years, or less, compared to the 3~5 years she was looking at before.

I just hope things hold together that long........

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Navy Days Was Great!

Got to tour the USS Halsey, and I'll post pix on Sunday.

Maybe about 25 contacts from NI6BB, and band conditions were poor.

I usually operate during the week, and I was surprised how quiet things are on the weekends, with few operations taking place across the channel on Terminal Island.

All the electrical equipment on the big cranes and the other gear over there tends to make quite a racket, but today the local noise level was only S2~3!

Too bad propagation stunk.......


In the meantime.....enjoy the video of the USS Cape St. George arriving, and our simulated "salute firing" of 5" gun, Mount 56!



Friday, August 7, 2015

Almost Forgot.....Navy Days L.A. 2015!

I'll be on the Iowa all day Saturday, and I have a ticket for a brief tour a1300~1330 of one of the three ships here for Navy Days.

The ships arrived Tuesday morning around 0900, and were graced with:



The USS Halsey, DDG-97




The USS Bunker Hill, CG-52



and

The USS Cape St. George, CG-71



Here's some video courtesy of WABC, Channel 7:



   

And here's the story on the ABC website.


Between tinkering away on the Supra, fixing my wife's granddaughter's laptop (it "self upgraded" to Windows 10 on her!), AND doing research on proximity fuzes for a planned exhibit on the Iowa (hey, they're "radio related"!), I totally forgot this was coming up this weekend!

The Iowa was closed on Tuesday for filming, and when I woke up Wednesday morning, I was rather ill, so I didn't go in for my usual Radio Room shift.

Had a 48-hour stomach bug that knocked me for a loop, but I'm back to normal now.

SO......I'm taking my camera with me, but I think they have a "No Camera" policy on the ships; I'll have to read what the ticket says.

At least I should get some good shots from the pier and from the Iowa.