Thursday, January 31, 2013

L- 2hrs, 20 minutes, and counting

They started filling the launch vehicle with LOX and Kerosene, and all is proceeding well.

Gonna get pretty busy here, so see you all tomorrow!

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Sundown at Coffin Rock"....Our Future?

I remember reading this years ago, and it took me a while to track it down.

For those that haven't read it, it's definitely worth the time.

So, presented here as I found it, with all attributions, is "Sundown at Coffin Rock"


    This article was originally posted to the Internet by "Annonymous" This story originally appeared in "The Blue Press" (a catalog/magazine put out by Dillon Precision Products, Inc., 7442 Butherus Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85260, phone 602-948-8009.) The editor, Mark Pixler, was kind enough to allow distribution on the Internet.
    This story may be reprinted as long as due credit is given to the author and publisher.

Sundown at Coffin Rock

by Raymond K. Paden

The old man walked slowly through the dry, fallen leaves of autumn, his practiced eye automatically choosing the bare and stony places in the trail for his feet. There was scarcely a sound as he passed, though his left knee was stiff with scar tissue. He grunted occasionally as the tight sinews pulled. Damn chainsaw, he thought.
Behind him, the boy shuffled along, trying to imitate his grandfather, but unable to mimic the silent motion that the old man had learned during countless winter days upon this wooded mountain in pursuit of game. He's fifteen years old, the old man thought. Plenty old enough to be learning. But that was another time, another America. His mind drifted, and he saw himself, a fifteen-year-old boy following in the footsteps of his own grandfather, clutching a twelve gauge in his trembling hands as they tracked a wounded whitetail.
The leg was hurting worse now, and he slowed his pace a bit. Plenty of time. It should have been my own son here with me now, the old man thought sadly. But Jason had no interest, no understanding. He cared for nothing but pounding on the keys of that damned computer terminal. He knew nothing about the woods, or where food came from...or freedom. And that's my fault, isn't it?
The old man stopped and held up his hand, motioning for the boy to look. In the small clearing ahead, the deer stood motionless, watching them. It was a scraggly buck, underfed and sickly, but the boy's eyes lit up with excitement. It had been many years since they had seen even a single whitetail here on the mountain. After the hunting had stopped, the population had exploded. The deer had eaten the mountain almost bare until erosion had become a serious problem in some places. That following winter, three starving does had wandered into the old man's yard, trying to eat the bark off of his pecan trees, and he had wished the "animal rights" fanatics could have been there then. It was against the law, but old man knew a higher law, and he took an axe into the yard and killed the starving beasts. They did not have the strength to run.
The buck finally turned and loped away, and they continued down the trail to the river. When they came to the "Big Oak," the old man turned and pushed through the heavy brush beside the trail and the boy followed, wordlessly. The old man knew that Thomas was curious about their leaving the trail, but the boy had learned to move silently (well, almost) and that meant no talking. When they came to "Coffin Rock," the old man sat down upon it and motioned for the boy to join him.
"You see this rock, shaped like a casket?" the old man asked. "Yes sir." The old man smiled. The boy was respectful and polite. He loved the outdoors, too. Everything a man could ask in a grandson ....or a son.
"I want you to remember this place, and what I'm about to tell you. A lot of it isn't going to make any sense to you, but it's important and one day you'll understand it well enough. The old man paused. Now that he was here, he didn't really know where to start.
"Before you were born," he began at last, "this country was different. I've told you about hunting, about how everybody who obeyed the law could own guns. A man could speak out, anywhere, without worrying about whether he'd get back home or not. School was different, too. A man could send his kids to a church school, or a private school, or even teach them at home. But even in the public schools, they didn't spend all their time trying to brainwash you like they do at yours now." The old man paused, and was silent for many minutes. The boy was still, watching a chipmunk scavenging beside a fallen tree below them.
"Things don't ever happen all at once, boy. They just sort of sneak up on you. Sure, we knew guns were important; we just didn't think it would ever happen in America. But we had to do something about crime, they said. It was a crisis. Everything was a crisis! It was a drug crisis, or a terrorism crisis, or street crime, or gang crime. Even a 'health care' crisis was an excuse to take away a little more of our rights." The old man turned to look at his grandson.
"They ever let you read a thing called the Constitution down there at your school?" The boy solemnly shook his head. "Well, the Fourth Amendment's still in there. It says there won't be any unreasonable searches and seizures. It says you're safe in your own home." The old man shrugged. "That had to go. It was a crisis! They could kick your door open any time, day or night, and come in with guns blazing if they thought you had drugs ...or later, guns. Oh, at first it was just registration -- to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals! But that didn't work, of course, and then later when they wanted to take 'em they knew where to look. They banned 'assault rifles', and then 'sniper rifles', and 'Saturday night specials.' Everything you saw on the TV or in the movies was against us. God knows the news people were! And the schools were teaching our kids that nobody needed guns anymore. We tried to take a stand, but we felt like the whole face of our country had changed and we were left outside."
"Me and a friend of mine, when we saw what was happening, we came and built a secret place up here on the mountain. A place where we could put our guns until we needed them. We figured some day Americans would remember what it was like to be free, and what kind of price we had to pay for that freedom. So we hid our guns instead of losing them."
"One fellow I knew disagreed. He said we ought to use our guns now and stand up to the government. Said that the colonists had fought for their freedom when the British tried to disarm them at Lexington and Concord. Well, he and a lot of others died in what your history books call the 'Tax Revolt of 1998,' but son, it wasn't the revolt that caused the repeal of the Second Amendment like your history book says. The Second Amendment was already gone long before they ever repealed it. The rest of us thought we were doing the right thing by waiting. I hope to God we were right."
"You see, Thomas. It isn't government that makes a man free. In the end, governments always do just the opposite. They gobble up freedom like hungry pigs. You have to have laws to keep the worst in men under control, but at the same time the people have to have guns, too, in order to keep the government itself under control. In our country, the people were supposed to be the final authority of the law, but that was a long time ago. Once the guns were gone, there was no reason for those who run the government to give a damn about laws and constitutional rights and such. They just did what they pleased and anyone who spoke out...well, I'm getting ahead of myself."
"It took a long time to collect up all the millions of firearms that were in private hands. The government created a whole new agency to see to it. There were rewards for turning your friends in, too. Drug dealers and murderers were set free after two or three years in prison, but possession of a gun would get you mandatory life behind bars with no parole.
"I don't know how they found out about me, probably knew I'd been a hunter all those years, or maybe somebody turned me in. They picked me up on suspicion and took me down to the federal building."
"Son, those guys did everything they could think of to me. Kept me locked up in this little room for hours, no food, no water. They kept coming in, asking me where the guns were. 'What guns?' I said. Whenever I'd doze off, they'd come crashing in, yelling and hollering. I got to where I didn't know which end was up. I'd say I wanted my lawyer and they'd laugh. 'Lawyers are for criminals', they said. 'You'll get a lawyer after we get the guns.' What's so funny is, I know they thought they were doing the right thing. They were fighting crime!"
"When I got home I found Ruth sitting in the middle of the living room floor, crying her eyes out. The house was a shambles. While I was down there, they'd come out and took our house apart. Didn't need a search warrant, they said. National emergency! Gun crisis! Your grandma tried to call our preacher and they ripped the phone off the wall. Told her that they'd go easy on me if she just told them where I kept my guns." The old man laughed. "She told them to go to hell." He stared into the distance for a moment as his laughter faded.
"They wouldn't tell her about me, where I was or anything, that whole time. She said that she'd thought I was dead. She never got over that day, and she died the next December."
"They've been watching me ever since, off and on. I guess there's not much for them to do anymore, now that all the guns are gone. Plenty of time to watch one foolish old man." He paused. Beside him, the boy stared at the stone beneath his feet.
"Anyway, I figure that, one day, America will come to her senses. Our men will need those guns and they'll be ready. We cleaned them and sealed them up good; they'll last for years. Maybe it won't be in your lifetime, Thomas. Maybe one day you'll be sitting here with your son or grandson. Tell him about me, boy. Tell him about the way I said America used to be." The old man stood, his bad leg shaking unsteadily beneath him.
"You see the way this stone points? You follow that line one hundred feet down the hill and you'll find a big round rock. It looks like it's buried solid, but one man with a good prybar can lift it, and there's a concrete tunnel right under there that goes back into the hill."
The old man stood, watching as the sun eased toward the ridge, coloring the sky and the world red. Below them, the river still splashed among the stones, as it had for a million years. It's still going, the old man thought. There'll be someone left to carry on for me when I'm gone. It was harder to walk back. He felt old and purposeless now, and it would be easier, he knew, to give in to that aching heaviness in his left lung that had begun to trouble him more and more. Damn cigarettes, he thought. His leg hurt, and the boy silently came up beside him and supported him as they started down the last mile toward the house. How quiet he walks, the old man thought. He's learned well.
It was almost dark when the boy walked in. His father looked up from his paper. "Did you and your granddad have a nice walk?"
"Yes," the boy answered, opening the refrigerator. "You can call Agent Goodwin tomorrow. Gramps finally showed me where it is."

Editor's note: "Sundown at Coffin Rock" is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual events or to actual people, living or dead, remains to be seen. - Mark Pixler, Editor

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Little Duece Coupe

Watched "American Graffiti" today, and every time I saw Milner's '34 coupe, this was in the back of my mind.


Little Deuce Coupe, you don't know what I've got
(You don't know what I've got)
Little Deuce Coupe, you don't know what I've got

Well, I'm not braggin', babe, so don't put me down
(Deuce Coupe)
But I've got the fastest set of wheels in town
(Deuce Coupe)

When something comes up to me, he don't even try
(Deuce Coupe)
'Cause if it had a set of wings, man, I know she can fly

She's my little Deuce Coupe
You don't know what I've got
Little Deuce Coupe
You don't know what I've got

Just a little Deuce Coupe with a flathead mill
(Deuce Coupe)
But she'll walk a Thunderbird like it's standin' still
(Deuce Coupe)
She's ported and relieved and she's stroked and bored
(Deuce Coupe)
She'll do a hundred and forty in the top end floored

She's my little Deuce Coupe
You don't know what I've got
(She's my little Deuce Coupe)
(You don't know what I've got)

She's got a competition clutch with four on the floor
And she purrs like a kitten till the lake pipes roar
And if that ain't enough to make you flip your lid
There's one more thing, I've got the pink slip, Daddy

And comin' off the line when the light turns green
(Deuce Coupe)
Well, she blows 'em outta the water like you've never seen
(Deuce Coupe)

I get pushed out of shape and it's hard to steer
(Deuce Coupe)
When I get rubber in all four gears

She's my little Deuce Coupe
You don't know what I've got
(She's my little Deuce Coupe)
(You don't know what I've got)

She's my little Deuce Coupe
You don't know what I've got
(She's my little Deuce Coupe)
(You don't know what I've got)

She's my little Deuce Coupe
You don't know what I've got, what I've got
(She's my little Deuce Coupe)
(You don't know what I've got)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

We've Arrived

At the launch site, 0*N, 154*W, elevation ZERO.

We started performing our "L-3 Day" launch processing, BUT ULA is launching an Atlas-V with a TDRSS bird for NASA, and they have priority for use of the TDRSS network.

 They were supposed to launch a day before us, but due to some problems with their launch vehicle, have slipped one day, and are jnow right "on top" of us.

SO....we'll go ahead and finish the L-3 day processing, and do about half the L-2 day processing, and then stand down until they either launch, scrub, or abort.

If they scrub the launch, we *might* be able to go ahead and launch, depending on what NASA decides to do. If they don't want to, or aren't able to, reconfigure for our launch, and meet their crew rest requirements, we'll just sit here and wait for the Atlas-V launch.

If they slip a day, then we slip a day, and so on, up to a 4 day maximum at which point they have to roll their launch vehicle back for various reasons.

We're hesitant to go ahead and finish L-2 and proceed to L-1, as this is when we roll the rocket out and stand it up. At that time we start using up liquid nitrogen to keep things purged and inerted, and since we have a finite supply with us, we'd rather not do that.

The "Saturday Night Movie" for me will be "Quigley Down Under", which I'm looking forward to watching.

I also brought "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" with me, and a whole back-pack full of other movies, so I should be able to keep busy!

In the meantime, we're all "Standing By To Stand By", as I'm sure some of you are very familiar with.....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"The Night Stalkers" by Durant, Hartov, and Johnson

The Night Stalkers

My wife bought me this for Christmas, knowing how much I respect our troops.

It's the story about the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) of the U.S. Army.

In case you don't know, these are the helicopter pilots who take the various Special Forces units into combat, and retrieve them.

I have to say this is a wonderful book. While I enjoy reading books by Matthew Bracken, and Kenneth Royce, those are fiction.

This book is about REAL people getting shot at, wounded, and killed, by REAL bullets.

As Admiral Tarrant says at the end of the movie The Bridges at Toko Ri, "Where Do We Get Such Men"?

Where, indeed..........

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Quiet Weekend

Well, we pulled out of Long Beach at 1000 Saturday morning right on schedule.

We'd had our safety and lifeboat drills by 1130, so I had a light lunch, and took a nap.

Proceeded to finish reading "Patriot Dawn", and watched "Casino" before hitting the hay at 2200.

Today was a "No Work" day for most of us, so I started watching the PBS series "Warplane", narrated by Stacey Keach.

If you haven't seen it, it's great, and Keach, as usual, does a great job narrating it.

The IT guys set up streaming video on the big TV in the Lido Lounge, and football was enjoyed by all.

Except me.

I. DON'T. Watch. Football.


"Pro" football has to be the stupidest scam ever foisted on the American "Sports Fan".

How ANYBODY can take a nominal ONE HOUR game, and bloat it out to FOUR FREAKING HOURS is beyond me.

And I won't even go into the obscene money paid to the thugs on the field, the team owners, and the ticket sellers.

It's almost as bad as "Pro" basketball, but I won't go there, either.

ANYWAY....the ship's catering crew set up a nice hot buffet for all the people watching the game, and we had hot dogs, burgers, and meatballs in red sauce.

Hope you all have a good week!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

*FINALLY* Feeling Better

After being knocked down by this damn flu bug for over a week, I'm finally starting to feel somewhat normal again, just in time to pack my stuff up, and head out to sea again on Saturday.

I made a COSTCO run tonight and picked up a bunch of snacks and things for the trip, and I'll lug some of that in Friday moring.

2x 3lb bags of pistachios
2x 12 pack bags of beef jerky
100 packets of Emergen-C drink mix
1 LARGE bottle of glucosamine sulfate for my battered old knees
2 bottles of Robitussen
2 boxes of Chloroseptic throat lozenges
1 HUGE bag of Hall's Mento-Lyptus cough drops

And various and sundry other items.

I also bought a new set of headphones, as my Koss Pro-4AAT cans finally bit the dust.

I had to replace the cable between the earpieces a few years ago, and then the 1/8" stereo plug failed, and now the plastic has broken on one of the earpieces so it won't stay on the headband.

I found a set of Sony MDR-7506 Studio Monitor phones at a good price, and they're quite nice. They don't seal out the background noise as well as the Koss' did, but they sound very good, with solid bass, midrange, and treble.

They probably reproduce more frequencies than my ears can pick up these days, as in my youth I subjected myself to a LOT of open-exhaust race cars, and el-cheap-o aviation headsets that hardly blocked out the noise of the little Cessna and Piper aircraft I used to putt-putt around in.

But I *ALWAYS* wore ear protection (and eyes, too) when shooting.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Flu Shot Didn't Work

I've been getting flu shots since 2009 when I got really sick for about 2 months with some bug that just wouldn't go away. So far, things have been fine, with just "regular" colds.

Not this year.

I noticed I was starting to get a sore throat on Tuesday, and by Wednesday night I could hardly speak, and was running a fever.

"Dr. Mom" insisted I got to bed early, and loaded me up with some OTC stuff that helped. Thursday I stayed home from work, and Thursday night I had one of those coughs that kick in about 3 minutes after you lay down, making it rather difficult to get any sleep. I called in to work Friday morning, and my boss told me to STAY HOME, as we're too close to leaving to have me come in, spread something around, and have everybody else sick just as we're getting to the launch site.

Friday and Saturday morining I was pretty 'zombiefied' from whatever hit me, AND the cold meds, so I just kicked back and didn't do much.

I went in to work today at 0800 to help set up and run the final RF testing we do before they lower the rocket, and roll it back in the hangar, and everything went smooth as silk. We were finished by 1430, and rather than hang around, I came back home to take it easy. Tomorrow we'll get all our gear on the platform stowed for transit, and then wave them off Tuesday morning, with us following 4 days later on Saturday.

So beware!

There's a nasty bug floating around out there, and I hope it misses you....

Friday, January 11, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pre-Departure Preps Underway

They rolled the payload over to the ship this morning, and tomorrow we'll do some RF power checks from the launch vehicle up to one of the equipment rooms. If that goes well (it always does), then Friday morning we'll flow live data from the ship, through the NASA TDRSS network and do an "End-to-End" test of the entire network we use to relay telemetry from the launch site to all the places it goes.

Yesterday they filled the LN2 tanks in the Launch Platform with NINE tankers of Liquid Nitrogen, and today they started loading the LOX. There were 8 tankers on-site when I left, with another 25 on the way. The day before departure they'll bring in three more to "Top Off" the LOX supply, for a total load of THIRTY SIX tankers of Liquid Oxygen. Something like ONE TON per day boils off during our transit down to the Equator, and we carry enough to make three launch attempts. The fuel can be drained back out of the launch vehicle and saved, but pumping LOX always incurs losses.

Almost all of the RF testing my little group handles is finished, and we're kind of sitting around twiddling our thumbs until Sunday, when we do "Roll Out and Erect", and run the full countdown, minus fueling the launch vehicle. The satellite builder for this launch is an American company we've worked with many times, and things go very smooth, as all involved have done this before, and we all speak English, unlike the last launch, when we could barely communicate with the foreign customer, leading to some "interesting" problems, and very long days.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lucky Gunner Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo Test

I don't know how many of you received this in your email, but it certainly is an amazing amount of work and data gathering.

Go here and read the whole article.

Just amazing....

Monday, January 7, 2013

An Entirely New Meaning for the Term "Enemy of the People"

As ususal, T.L. Davis has an excellent piece over at his place.

Please, go RTHT.

I always thought the phrase meant a person or persons who were at odds with society, and dangerous to society.

TL turns the meaning around with something so obvious I felt like I just got clobbered with the fabled "Clue-By-Four".

On a side note, when I worked at DirecTV we used to joke about how somebody would change the title to a movie to make it more "relevant" to the foreign audience.

When Will Smith's "Enemy of the People" was playing, and we were broadcasting it to South America, the tile had been changed to "Public Enemy".

A subtle change to some, but considering how corrupt most South American governments are, it was a telling change.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Traffic Web Cams As Remote Intelligence Assets

Found this over at Rawles' Survival Blog, and it looks like a great idea.

Use all those Nanny State traffic cams to see who's moving what to where.

As long as you have power and an Internet connection, these could be useful.

This website has all sorts of webcams that might provide some "interesting" viewing.

Friday, January 4, 2013

"Fiscal Cliff" Survival Package

From a friend.....

Just wanted to let you know - today I received my Fiscal Cliff Survival Pack from the White House.
It contained a parachute, an 'Obama Hope & Change' bumper sticker, a 'Bush's Fault' poster, a 'Blame Boehner' poster, a "Tax the Rich' poster, an application for unemployment, an application for food stamps, a prayer rug, a letter of assignation of debt to my grandchildren and a machine to blow smoke up my ass.
All directions were in Spanish.
Keep an eye out. Yours should arrive soon.

Weird Network Problem at Home

Well, I got home from work the other night, and proceeded to fire up my PC to check my email. network connectivity.

I powered up my Ham Radio PC to see if it had a network connection, and got the same type of error message.

I went and reset the Ethernet switch in my little "Network Closet", and things worked for about 2 minutes, and then the network connection dropped out.

About this time, my stepson arrived home, and said "Hey, could you check the Internet for me? I can't get on".

I told him I was in the process of doing that, and went and power cycled our Verizon router, and waited for it to come back up.

STILL no Internet connectivity, so then I tried to connect to my weather server, which is loacted in the living room, but on a different segment of our LAN.

Uh-Oh.....can't get to it, either. little $20 "Dynex" Gig-E switch in the closet must have rolled over and gone casters up.

Since my Audio/Video PC is still set up on the dining room table, I powered it up, and was able to get on the Internet to see what Best Buy had in stock for a new Ethernet switch. I would up buying a Netgear 8-port switch like the one I have on my desk in the Radio Room to tie everything together with, and proceeded to swap out the "dead" Dynex switch.

Oh, boy......STILL no Internet access from the Radio Room.

Thinking perhaps the cable from the router to the switch had gone flakey, I then pulled the cat6 cable going to the router, and ran a cable directly from the router to the switch on my desk.

STILL no Internet! I went back to the living room, and tried connecting to the Home Theater receiver and/or the Oppo Blu-Ray player (they're both "Net Aware"), and discovered I couldn't reach either of them.

Hmmmm...something is definitely rotten in the network segment with the Home Theater, Radio Room, and stepson's bedroom, but a direct connection to the router works, as my wife's PC, and the Audio/Video editing PC have full connectivity.

Back to the network closet, where I unplug everything except the cable back to the router, and the cable to the Home Theater gear, which has it's own little D-Link 4-port 10/100 switch.

NOW I can get to the Onkyo receiver and Oppo Blu-ray player from either PC that has a direct connection into the router.

I reconnect the cable to the Radio Room segment and all works well.

I reconnect the cable to the back bedroom, and all works well.

I reconnect the cable to stepson's bedroom, and BLAM.....the whole network GOES DOWN.
And for the first time I noticed via the LED's on the network switches, that there's a tremendous amount of traffic flying around.

I pull the cable to stepson's bedroom, and all the traffic disappears.

HMMMMMM......WTF is going on in there? His PC and his X-Box are turned OFF, and I know I have the BIOS in his PC set so you can't remotely hit the PC with a Magic Packet to turn it on.

X-Box go berserk? Cable get crushed/shorted?

I go into his room, and he helps me pull his PC from under the desk, and I see the special Netgear "Home Theater and Gaming Series" Ethernet switch I bought for him some time ago. This switch has the traffic on certain ports prioritized, so that your X-Box or PS3 gets priority over any other device connected to it. It supposedly reduces the "Ping Times", something critical for networked games, but otherwise it's just an Ethernet switch.

It has five ports. One port goes to the Network Closet in the Radio Room, one port goes to his PC, and one port goes to his X-Box.

But all 5 ports have cables in them. It's then I notice that two of the ports are "bridged" with a yellow cat5 jumper cable.

I seem to remember having a yellow Cat5 cable in there so his girlfriend could use her laptop until we got all the wireless issues solved, but I thought I'd pulled it out after we got her laptop working on the wireless network segment.

I ask him why he has the cable connecting the two "unused" ports, and he says he doesn't know anything about it, but then his girlfriend chimes in and said she saw the free end of the yellow cable "just dangling there" and decided it had to go *somewhere*, and since it looked like it would fit into the unused port, she plugged it in!

Now, I don't remember specifically why you never connect two ports togther, as it's lost among all the dust of my brain somewhere under "Networking 101", but I know it's a Bad Thing to do so.

Ahh....found it. It's called a "Switching Loop" and causes the switch to broadcast out of *every* port it has,  causing a "Broadcast Storm", and will bring even a well-managed network to it's knees.

As soon as I unplugged one end of the mysterious yellow cable, "traffic" on the LAN went to about zero, and all connectivity was restored.

In retrospect, I should have fired up Wireshark (formerly Ethereal) on my Linux box and observed what type of traffic was bringing the network down, but by the time I "fixed" the problem, and restored everything to normal, it was 2130, and my bed time!

Supras and Stereos.....

 The repairs on the Fisher RS-2010 are proceeding, but a bit slower than I expected. The failed transistor is an obsolete part number, so I ...