Monday, August 28, 2017

High 'n Dry for now, up here.

We have been blessed to not be in the active rainfall zone for H/TS Harvey.  We have clouds from it, but no rain.  At least not until later in the week.  Then it might rain a lot.  Time will tell.

We have been watching the activities in the affected zone with interest, as we have friends who live there.  So far, they are safe, if not totally dry.  It could be much worse for them.

Much has been made of the conflicting advice in the media, from Gov. Abbott, and the Mayor of Houston.  Abbott advocated "get outta Dodge if you can", and the Mayor advocated "shelter in place".  Initially, I would side with Abbott, if you can evacuate safely and early enough, do it.  Pack your $h/7 and get moving.  But the Mayor also pointed out the last time they tried to evac Houston all at once, it didn't go very well!  H. Rita, again, anyone?  Yeah, that evac killed 100+ people, just through the evac process.  Folks stranded for hours and days on the flooding roads...and this event with Harvey is worse.  Much worse on flooding.  I suspect far more than the 5 thus recorded fatalities, would have occurred during evacuation.  I can see wisdom in both approaches.

I would like to thank, though, all the first responders, the Cajun Navy, the tree cutters, linemen, telco guys, the ham radio folks, the various formal disaster services, Texas Guards (National and State), the neighbors helping neighbors, the internet folks trying to coordinate aid and assistance, the weather folks for getting it real damned accurate this time (Steve McCauley!) Red Cross, Salvation Army and anyone else who is helping those in need whom I have failed to mention in specific.  Thank you!  This is what makes America great.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Canine adventure, and goodbye

Some of you may know we have been fostering a dog for our local shelter.  His name is Sarge.  He is a Harrier hound mix, and very good natured.  He has been with us nearly 6 mo, with no adoption prospects in sight.

Yesterday I got word, on short notice, that a place on the Rescue Wagon had been secured for Sarge, and he would be going to a shelter (no-kill) in Cheyenne WY.  Apparently they have a nice community program, and a much larger adoption pool for Sarge to find his Forever Home from.

It would've been very easy to foster-fail him.  He fit into our pack and routine so easily.  He's very gentle and loving, and not a big barker either.  We had a good handle on his separation anxiety.  But...if we had kept him, we would have to opt out of fostering any other dogs.   We are maxed out at 4 dogs (3 Ridgebacks and 1 foster).  As is, with DH's probable hip surgery coming up, having one less dog in the house should make it easier for him to navigate whilst recovering.  We are planning on helping walk dogs that have been pulled for rescue groups, that are housed offsite.  It's a way we can help out, without bringing another dog home after DH's surgery.  Once all that is cleared up, we may well do short term fosters.  That makes space and pens available, for intake, and helps reduce the euthanasia risk.

Sarge, I will miss you!  I wish you all the best, in finding your forever family.  It was hard to let you go, but I have to trust the process.  I hope you love the change in climate, and discover snow!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

It never fails...


Yep, more rain is on the way.  It even rained yesterday on us, up in Kansas, ruining our eclipse viewing.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Psalm fits today

Psalm 64. (NIV)

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
    protect my life from the threat of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
    from the plots of evildoers.
3 They sharpen their tongues like swords
    and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
    they shoot suddenly, without fear.
5 They encourage each other in evil plans,
    they talk about hiding their snares;
    they say, “Who will see it?”
6 They plot injustice and say,
    “We have devised a perfect plan!”
    Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.
7 But God will shoot them with his arrows;
    they will suddenly be struck down.
8 He will turn their own tongues against them
    and bring them to ruin;
    all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
9 All people will fear;
    they will proclaim the works of God
    and ponder what he has done.
10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
    and take refuge in him;
    all the upright in heart will glory in him!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Grumman Guardian!

DH's friend in KC who is both a trainspotter, and planespotter, knew right away what the mystery plane at Toco was!  This is the ultra rare Grumman Guardian!

The Grumman Guardian was the original USN anti-sub warfare plane built specifically for that purpose.  It came in two different airframes, the Hunter (aka Guppy) and the Killer (aka Scrapper).  This particular plane is a Killer.  Note the bomb bay doors which are opened.  The Hunter variant had a radome underneath instead.  There were only 193 planes in the Killer configuration ever built.

A few weeks ago, this plane was in full Navy colors.  The tail color is more likely the dark navy blue, not black.  It also had the distinctive 4 bladed prop mounted at that time.  Apparently, someone is refurbishing her.  I'd love to get a serial# off her because there are only 5 known surviving Guardians.  This one is none of them, as far as I can tell.

Airworthy  (source Wikipedia)
On display
  • 123100 - National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida. It was the seventh AF-2S produced. The aircraft was operated as a firefighter until 1978. It was acquired by the museum in 1980. It is displayed in the colors of its first Navy assignment, though still carries the number "30" on the cowling, which for many years was the aircraft's call-sign as a firefighting aircraft;[14]
  • 129233 - Pima Air MuseumTucson, Arizona. This aircraft is displayed as it appeared while serving as an aerial firefighter with Aero Union in California. During this period the distinctive empennage with twin vertical stabilizers on each horizontal tail were removed to make a more conventional appearance.[15]
  • 126731 - Static display at the Commemorative Air Force's Mesa facility in Mesa, Arizona as a memorial to VAdm James B. Stockdale, who flew this aircraft early in his Navy career.[16][17]

What she is doing in Toco, at a tiny airfield, (besides being refinished apparently) is unclear.  Why in Toco?  What is here, that drew the owner to bring an ultra rare plane here?  I know there is an extensive warbird history at this field, but that was a LONG time ago.  I don't know if she flew in here, or was trucked in, but I bet there is a good story in there somewhere!


Per a wise gentleman on the web, who linked me some information on this plane, I know this is #126792 previously based in Ocala FL.  Also known as N9995Z, and based on the newest registry of record, it now makes sense why she is in Toco.  Mystery solved!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

November 255 Sierra

It's always been a bit of a mystery to me, this plane, parked in a field on the edge of Hwy 82 at Toco.  There's a couple small hangars and some light aircraft, like Cessnas, in the back.  But this big ol' girl just sits there, intact, but showing the wear and tear of the unsheltered in Texas, her paint fading, her tail holier than swiss cheese now.

Today, on the road home from a doctor visit in Sherman, I could resist the siren call no more.  I turned down the barely paved road that runs past the airport, such as it is...

I was hoping to get a tail number off her, and maybe if I was lucky, to see the blue Navy warbird that has been parked outside one of the hangars, for most of this year.  Neither DH nor I could ID the Navy bird, so I was hoping to photograph it.

Despite her condition, I find her rather photogenic.  I was rushed to take these shots, and being limited to my cellphone for a camera.  As I pulled down the road beside her, I was able to make out that most-essential bit of information, her tail number.  November 255 Sierra.  Now I had her!
The plan was to look the number up online, and see what I could find.  Little did I know what a fascinating set of links this mere number would unveil!   While I was there, I managed a longer range shot of another aircraft.  I couldn't pull a tail number off it, and it's obviously not flight worthy at this moment, as it is missing the prop!  Still, I can see it was apparently once military, there being a white star in the faded blue on the wings, and the SM in the black on the tail.  However, I don't recognize what type of plane it is.  Do you?  If you do recognize it, please let me know in the comments section.
I tried a reverse image search on this plane, to no avail.  Any help would be much appreciated.

Once home, I used my Google-fu, and discovered the history of N255S.  What was so fascinating was not so much the plane, as the place!  The Flying Tiger Air Museum used to operate out of this little dirt strip field (yes I know the runway is somewhat paved...).

The man who owned and ran it, was a former stunt pilot, with a bit of Hollywood history to his resume.  He also had quite the collection of flight worthy warbirds!  On top of it all, the planes were not just to look at, like static displays--oh no, you could FLY THEM!  Yes, plunk down your money, and Mr Burchinal could teach you to fly warbirds!  At various times, there was a B-17, a B-25, an SNJ, a T-6, a P-38, F-86 Sabre, a Corsair, and the creme de la Creme, a P-51 Mustang!  How many of these were flight ready I am unsure, though I did find a link to a lengthy write up of one man's experience studying under Mr Burchinal and eventually soloing the Mustang.  Sadly, such a flight school could no longer exist in today's litigious world...

Alas, the museum eventually closed, Mr Burchinal passed away, and the aircraft were mostly sold off.  A little piece of Texas history, and American history died with it.  I wish I had been around here, back then, to see it all.  It would've been glorious!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Rain, anyone?

Yesterday was just a tad bit wet.  The rain, which is  forecast to plague bless us all this week started falling at 8:00am.  By 9:00am, there were 2" in the gauge.  By 10:00am, it was over 4".  By noon it was over 5".

All that rain meant we had to set the sump pump out, to drain the water from the back side of the house, lest it flood Monkeyboy's room.  DH was getting dressed to go out, and I decided to get out there quickly, as the water was rising.

 So I lifted the sump cover and dropped the pump into the hole.  Then I went to lay out the discharge hose.  As I was coming back to the pump to attach the hose, I misjudged where the sump hole was (being full fo muddy water made it hard to see) and I stuck my left leg smack in the hole.  I sort of fell over.  Nothing broke, or got sprained, at least in the hip-to-foot region.  My low back however, is distinctly unhappy about it.

We eventually opted to install our other pump, one with a float switch.  That meant we didn't have to manually plug in the power to the original pump any more.

I spent most of yesterday taking it easy, napping and laying on the heating pad.  This morning, it felt pretty good.  Though it is a bit tired and achy late this afternoon.  And after the morning rains of yesterday, we got yet another 3/4" last night, and this afternoon yet more rain,this time being just over 1/2" in about 20 minutes!  It's a good thing I backwashed the pool today, as it probably would've overflowed otherwise.