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April 29, 2012

Shuttle Enterprise fly-by and Pneumonia

Just two highlights of an interesting week in New York.

I was in NYC for the past week taking care of my client obligations… Y’know the usual work gig.  This week however had a couple of added twists.  I already wrote about my trials in simply getting to the Big Apple… It only got more challenging from there.  On day two, I started to notice the onset of what I initially thought was a sinus infection… Upon my return to Denver and subsequent doctor’s visit I learned that nope… I have pneumonia.

One of the real highlights however of the past week, outside of some genuinely successful and rewarding client visits was that I had the opportunity to witness the last flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise.  Although using the adjective “Space” in her naming is a bit of a stretch considering “Enterprise” never experienced space travel.  “Enterprise” was the designated test article of the shuttle program, specifically built to test the glide and landing characteristics of the new vehicle.  But still a cool piece of hardware associated with a now bygone era in America’s declining dominance in Space exploration.

Originally Enterprise was scheduled to fly from Dulles where she had previously resided as a major attraction at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Part of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Complex) on Monday of this past week, however due to the same storm front that forced my unexpected stop in Philadelphia the transport was delayed until Friday.  Enterprise was being flown to New York as the first step in transferring her from the Smithsonian to her new home onboard the USS Intrepid Museum.  The Smithsonian had received the Shuttle Discovery the week before and was swapping exhibits.

So on Friday morning I identified the flight route the Shuttle and Shuttle Transporter (a modified Boeing 747) were to fly and realized that she would be coming right up the Hudson River doing a U-turn around the Tappan-Zee bridge, about 4 miles from our office.  So there was a good chance I would be able to see this historic flight for myself if I was able to attain a good vantage point.

As the time approached, I stepped into my Boss’s office (the CEO of our company) and said, “Hey, y’wanna go see the shuttle fly by?”  To which, my slightly confused boss said “Sure!”

Out the door we went, looking for a good vantage to a westerly view.  The top level of the Parking garage at the White Plains Train Station was the perfect spot, if we couldn’t see her from there, we wouldn’t see her from anywhere in the town. We hustled on over and got to the top level right on time, we were up there only a couple of minutes when from the south approached the mated pair, Shuttle and 747.

Unfortunately I didn’t have my Big 300mm lens attached, but I did the best I could with the 200mm I had.  This first image gives you an idea about our general view…

shuttle fly-by4

Then with the zoom capabilities I did have I captured these…

shuttle fly-by2

shuttle fly-by

And then as she began her final turn back to the south and her eventual home in Manhattan…

shuttle fly-by3

I was glad I had the opportunity to witness this first hand, yet saddened by the fact that the United States appears resigned to no longer leading the way in Space and Science exploration…

At the arrival of the Shuttle Discovery at Dulles last week, a young child asked a current NASA astronaut what he should study in school in bettering his chances of one day becoming an astronaut… the Current Astronaut simply replied “Study Russian”.

Ouch… Truth hurts…

April 29, 2012 in Aviation, Current Affairs, Just Plain Cool | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack


April 23, 2012

Case III Recovery to a LaGuardia Wave-off

Yesterday I flew from Denver to New York for a scheduled week of presentations and client visits.

All was going quite well initially.  My Frontier airlines flight departed on time amazingly enough (despite two similarly routed United flights posting a 2 hour delay).  I sat, mostly comfortable (as comfortable as a economy airline seat can be) traversing the countryside at 500 miles per hour, enjoying the distraction of the 4 inch TV broadcasting from the seatback in front of me.

I can’t say I was surprised when about 3/4 of the way through the planned duration of the trip, somewhere over western Pennsylvania, I noticed we took a significant left turn.  Followed shortly by another left turn… and alas another followed by another.  Yep your typical holding pattern.  I changed channels on my video, first to the moving map display to confirm my suspicion, yep… we had apparently joined NASCAR… then I changed to the Weather Channel to see the onus of our penalty laps. 

Gleefully explained by some tight skirted blonde with a pair of “Store-Boughts”, the New York Metro area was getting pummeled by 40 knot winds and torrential rain!  About that time the Captain came on the PA to explain what I had already deduced… we’re gunna be delayed.

We continued in marshal for the better part of an hour, finally released to our approach into LaGuardia through still angry skies.  The airbus? She was a’buck’n.  But alas our Cowgirl of a pilot pressed on!  We continued the approach bouncing off airborne moguls with all the dexterity of a drunk hippopotamus riding a pogo-stick!  Our bus driver ever determined pressed on though the murk… “down” appeared an easier direction to maintain.  No comfort in that by the way…

As we proceeded through the soup, altitude, attitude, and bearing all appeared to be mere suggestions… and even that a stretch!  We broke through the clouds at a mere 600-800ft, and the runway?  It was Dutch rolling!  Out MY WINDOW!  (remember, I look out the side of the plane…).

I’m pretty sure our Captain made a Bovine Scatology reference and then pressed the throttles forward!  Really forward!  We climbed… and there was much rejoicing!  We eventually poked our nose through the top of the turbulent cloud deck, and heard the voice of our frustrated Captain inform us that we were running out of “Go Juice” and would be modifying our itinerary to include a stop in Philadelphia!  Yep, we made yet another left turn and headed south.  About 30 minutes later we arrived in the city of brotherly love… or at least their airport.  It was 1:25am.

Oddly enough our plane did not taxi to the terminal in Philly.  In a heavy rain, we taxied out to the far east section of the airport and set the parking break in front of the Signature Air terminal.  Engines secured, the airstairs drove up, door opened, and in walked 4 soaked, reflective vest clad ground crew.  One I swear was holding a credit card swipee thing… No, no need to fill-er-up, we’re just going a few blocks!  The gas truck pulled up, and added needed ballast to our wings.

We hung out, there on the apron, passengers awaiting their turn for the head (toilet) and others continued watching the Food Network programing droning on in front of each of us.  Many also texted our plight to friends and family in an effort to reswizzel completely FUBAR’d logistics.

Me, I pinged Ginger and gave her the promise I’d let her know whatever happened, as it happened.  What the hell else was I gunna do? 

After another hour bored on… and amazingly enough the same chick who had won on “Chopped” earlier in the night won again!  It might have been a repeat of the same show… We were cleared to try again at LGA.  Yippie!  Load her up in the shoot again!  Let’s see if we can stay on the whole 8 seconds this time!

We got airborne quite expeditiously and turned north, toward the city that never sleeps… wondering when I would.

We broke through the cloud deck at an uncomfortable 400 feet, and proceeded to land after a somewhat less dramatic approach, reverse thrust kicking up the two and a half inches of rain that had fallen on the runway that day.  Taxied… and eventually parked.  That is the emptiest I have EVER seen LaGuardia!!! 

The one smart thing I had done is checked the Metro North Railway schedule to learn that the trains did not… train… between 2:30am and 6:00am… it was now a few ticks past 3:00am.  So taking a cab to Grand Central Station would be pointless… borderline stupid.  Yep, was gunna have to pay the fare to White Plains.  Assuming there was a cab to be found!  You see, cabbies in New York have learned over the years that hanging out past midnight at an airport where the last scheduled arrival is 11:30pm, is only good if you want to nap.  There were no cabs… there, I said it… IN NEW YORK!  I COULD’T FIND A CAB!  I or 130 other passengers of our flight… So I walked to the middle roadway and hailed a car service!  White Plains please… Ok. 

Fastest I’ve ever got to my hotel from LaGuardia actually.  I walked in my room at 4:15am… Have to be at the office in 4 hours… easy peasy! 

And that’s just day one of the trip!  Looking forward to my Earth Day Celebration with the GSA tomorrow.

Me? Tonight?  I have a date with my eyelids and my pillow!  G’night!

April 23, 2012 in Aviation, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


April 02, 2012


People have agendas, knowing what these agendas are help us filter the content and intent of their message, especially when that message is meant to be persuasive. 

One of the oldest “tricks” in persuasive rhetoric is to obfuscate the intent to persuade by representing the context as simply informative.  Our current news media is guilty of this tactic to the nth degree!  In Classical Rhetorical Theory, this practice is considered as unethical, but our media cannot be burdened.

It boils down to Agendas, which agency or organization has what agenda?  Some are as plain as the nose on your face and very clearly represent themselves in such a fashion.  Everyone knows where Code Pink’s loyalties are and what their agenda is… Same holds true with organizations like the National Rifle association.  Where a fog develops is when organizations make public facing claims of neutrality (no agenda) in delivering a message, “Oh, I’m just the messenger, I’m not responsible for the content”.

News organizations are growing in this unethical behavior.  NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, BBC, New York Times, Investors Business Daily, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, USA Today… will all claim truth and neutrality in their reporting of the News… “We Report, You Decide…” or “The most trusted name in news”, “All the news that’s fit to print”.  Which causes many of us, who actually have cognitive reason, to snicker a bit every time we hear or read these slogans.  We all know there is a bias, not only in what is reported and how it is reported but also, in what is NOT reported (also known as omission bias). But we have to come to that conclusion through exercise of our Cognitive Reasoning skills!  A skill set I suspect is painfully lacking in our population at large (and you do to…) examples of brain dead individuals pollute our path every day, go to a McDonalds, a Safeway, a Starbucks, a freeway, a Wal-Mart, any roundabout or any Wholefoods market… or you could simply watch “the Jersey Shore” or anything else on MTV… Hell I’ll even include “Finding Bigfoot” in that fray too! and the proof will be apparent.

Unfortunately, we who would like to think ourselves as “Enlightened” and “Intellectually Honest” are contributing to this problem, by allowing its practice without recourse or consequence.  We as a Republic need to know facts!  Not opinions!  We need to know the substance of what is happening in the world around us to allow us, the voting populace, to make INFORMED decisions.  When the information is represented as simple facts, but in reality the delivery methodology does not match the agenda based intent, it gives the appearance of malfeasance, an intentional act we need to not sit idly by and laugh off.

In these past few days there are two glaring examples of where we are left to question an agenda, both regard the much to much overheated Trayvon Martin™ case and the Media’s reporting.  We have all seen a very disturbing tendency of Racial Opportunists taking advantage of situations and running very loose and very fast with facts often even resorting to outright fabrications!  This is regularly the modus operandi of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, The New Black Panthers, Sheila Jackson Lee and the like… we know their Agenda, and this reaction is expected, if not misguided.  It is important that in these stressful times that “Cooler Heads” prevail and manage with facts, and share those facts with we the electorate, not simply carry the water of the loudest.  But apparently when the “Facts” don’t support an agenda they are either omitted in the story, or manipulated. 

ABC News recently bragged about scoring a coup in the Trayvon Martin™ case by obtaining the raw police station video of George Zimmerman’s detainment.  In the story, ABC’s Good Morning America was so eager to manipulate the discussion that the Headline even read…"Trayvon Martin Video Shows No Blood or Bruises on George Zimmerman"  [link].

The associated article, written by Matt Gutman goes on to self-righteously proclaim (contrary to police reports) [bold rendering mine]…

A police surveillance video taken the night that Trayvon Martin was shot dead shows no blood or bruises on George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who says he shot Martin after he was punched in the nose, knocked down and had his head slammed into the ground.

The surveillance video, which was obtained exclusively by ABC News, shows Zimmerman arriving in a police cruiser. As he exits the car, his hands are cuffed behind his back. Zimmerman is frisked and then led down a series of hallways, still cuffed.

Breitbart (another organization with an Agenda) challenged this assertion the day the original “Scoop” was posted by ABC news highlighting specific frames of the video (without the need of enhancement) that seemed to indicate a gash and a wound on George Zimmerman’s head, a wound that would support his “Self-Defense” claim.  But no… ABC News couldn’t be bothered with these inconvenient facts in their rush to get it to air first! (Who gives a damn about accuracy? We have an agenda to advance!!!  Wait… Shhhhhh).

Now, 5 days later, ABC News themselves are now stating that, through THEIR research and processing the footage through legally approved enhancement, that “oh… yeah… hmmmm… yeah, it does look like George Zimmerman has a gash and wound on his head… Hmmm what???… oh yeah… as Zimmerman… and the Police Report claimed.”

What’s even more disgusting is that in ABC’s not-a-retraction-revision, the same Matt Gutman goes on air in a joyous proclamation of how great we are at ABC News!!! We got this video first (no mention of editorializing about no blood or apparent wounds) and now… We’ve ENHANCED it!  WOW!  Look! a head wound!…

Enhanced video footage of George Zimmerman being taken into custody less than 30 minutes after he shot and killed Florida teen Trayvon Martin shows the neighborhood watch captain with what could be an injury to the back of his head.

The never-before-seen evidence of an injury to Zimmerman, in this case a gash or mark to his head, would appear to back his claim that he was in an altercation with Martin on the night of Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman says he shot the teen in self defense after he was attacked.

Hallelujah! aren’t we just great?… Dudes seriously, in your rush to publish and editorialize you poured gasoline on an already raging Race Fire!  And now, now that you have done your job, you’re trying to pee the fire out while whistling, hoping no one will remember your original accusatory inference.

In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.
~ Buddha

Next page… Not to be outdone by ABC news and Good Morning America in misrepresenting the facts, NBC news published a segment on their Today Show where they played an edited version of George Zimmerman’s 911 call to police that fateful day.  The way NBC edited the recording, made it sound like Zimmerman volunteered that Treyvon was Black, thus making it part of the motive.  NBC originally aired the recording to make it sound like George Zimmerman said the following:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good…  He looks black.

The transcript of the real 911 call is:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

Obviously, again the facts didn’t fit with NBC’s Today Show Agenda… So they altered the facts (by omission) to make Zimmerman appear more racist.  But, they don’t tell you their agenda, you have to guess at it… work at it… discover the obfuscation.  So, is the media biased?   No… they are as neutral as they come! 

I CALL BULLSHIT!  And so should all of us!  Damn it, whistling in the graveyard pretending this is not happening is inexcusable, especially for those of whom we are to rely on to provide us with the facts to better run our Republic!

Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.

~Albert Einstein

April 2, 2012 in Idiots on Parade, Media | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack


April 01, 2012

Shot of the Night!

Spent my day relaxing on the veranda here at Casa de Carmichael…  It was a balmy 80+ degrees here in the Denver area, and I didn’t have a tee time. So I resigned myself to being a lazy bum under the blue skies. 

I did, as I often do, have my Nikon sitting next to me incase the world passing by presented opportunity.  Actually I was presented with a few this afternoon, mostly shots of the cats, an occasional bird or two and one pissed off squirrel that Scrunch (my cat) had tree’d.

But much of my attention was drawn to the blisteringly clear blue today, I watched as countless airliners flew over on their approach to Denver International Airport (KDEN… or DIA to the locals).  As the half moon climbed overhead I noticed once again that the approach path followed by the aircraft was nearing an intercept course with the moon, which would present another opportunity for one of my usual moon crossing images. I’ve taken a few of these in my history as a photographer, but they are always a fun challenge.

I must have waited and shot dozens of planes as they came close but never quite crossed the moon.  Day moved into dusk and I was hoping to get a good image of a plane, highlighted by the sun crossing the moon’s path, but alas it was not to be… (A number came close… but just not there).

It was getting dark now, and my chances for my desired shot were rapidly decreasing with each minute after the sun had bid its farewell.  I was about to pack it in for the evening when I saw a behemoth of a bird (a Boeing 767) approaching from the southwest.  I thought, well I’ll give one more try. 

I altered my settings on my camera to be able to take the shot handheld, and expose properly for the moon’s brightness against a darkening sky.  I advanced the ISO to 1600 to allow for a 1/200 second of a shot to reduce as much motion (my motion that is) blur in the resulting shot.  I focused on the approaching plane noticing that indeed it was looking promising for passing across the moon’s face.  But damn that plane was dark… I heard the voice of the wingman in Star Wars ringing in my ears… “Stay on target…” I continued to pan with the plane… and as I saw the glow of the moon enter my view I squeezed the shutter in multi-shot high frame rate mode… all 6 shots per second of it! 

And sho-nuff!  Bagged me the image I was seeking!  Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Plane Crossing the Moon

I know it’s a little dark, but again I was exposing for the moon, not the plane so the details of the 1/2 moon are prevalent.  Besides, it was more night than dusk by this time!  Below are the sequenced shots leading up to and following this one… (each has been lightened a bit so you can more clearly see the plane as it approached).  I really liked shots 5, 6 and 7.


And there you have it.  Love that Nikon by the way!  9 shots in rapid succession, low light an all!

April 1, 2012 in Aviation, Just Plain Cool, Photo | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack