About Me

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I live in the Florida Keys. I've been in the military and worked inside the Beltway. I've had 22 technical books and two novels published. I fly, boat, dive, shoot, and swim pretty damn well.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Florida Lobster mini-season: Get Them Bugs!

The bug hunters sleep in their trucks, buy beer, and pee in the water. Otherwise, they have NO redeeming value -- social or otherwise!

UPDATE: Three persons have died as of Tuesday evening. This thing is really stupid!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wow! A Gangbuster Review of "A Glint In Time"

Bill Parker is probably the most blunt person I know. He pulls no punches, but he might pull something sharp or explosive out on you if you make him mad. However, here is what a HAPPY no-BS Bill Parker had to say about "A Glint in TIme" This is a review posted on Amazon.com

W. Parker "Gunny1911" (ISLAMORADA, FLORIDA USA) - See all my reviews Author Frank Derfler's journey into science fiction manages to combine the paradox of time travel with the fast paced action of a Tom Clancy adventure novel. Melding the 1925 documented theoretical science of Satyedra Bose and Albert Einstein with successful physics experiments from U of Colorado (1995), Derfler brought a 'new dimension' to the science fiction genre of 'alternative histories'. Unlike many predecessors, this work explains the time travel paradox in an understandable manner while weaving the science in a fast paced action thriller reminiscent of Tom Clancy's early works. The science is solid and the adventure non-stop.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Secret History of Silicon Valley

Steve Blank gets it 98% right as far as I can tell. The roots of Silicon Valley are fascinating indeed! He brushes off Route 128 too quickly, however. The MITRE / MIT / Hanscom Field links are as strong and as influential as the links to Stanford. In fact, if you factor in Bell Labs, then "Silicon Valley" doesn't hold a candle to the work done around "Route 128" in the 50s and 60s. .. and later. But, he was addressing a Stanford crowd.

I can't make the YouTube code work.. CLICK HERE until I do.

Anyone who has travelled Highway 101, anyone with a taste for the history of technology, will like this video lecture from YouTune.

The Very Beautiful B-58 Hustler: Steeljaw Scribe

Steeljaw Scribe is one of my favorite military aviation Websites. The site recently carried a super story on the development and deployment of the B-58 Hustler. Certainly one of the finest "looking good" airplanes of all time.

As a young lieutenant in 1967 I had control of SAGE air defense radars across Washington, Montana, the Dakotas, and Canada during an exercise called “Snowtime.” I was in charge of ECCM at the Great Falls SAGE Direction Center.
We thought we were in pretty good shape because of the frequency diversity we enjoyed in the radars. Sitting near Malmstrom AFB we had an FPS-24 operating at 200MHZ and there was an FPS-35 a little north operating at 300 MHz. We knew from previous experience with the B-52s at Minot and Grand Forks that they didn’t have the jamming gear to touch those low frequency radars. So, we had them peaked and tweaked and were accepting all the data they could process down two phone lines. (1200 baud x 2 if memory serves)

We watched the Buffs take off out of Minot and head north well over Canada before they turned around to make their attack run. Even down low, we picked them up pretty well because of the high terrain and, frankly, really good radars! They were about to reach the CAP line when poof, everything went white.

We jumped radar frequencies, fiddled with receivers and antennas, and did all the things that you do, but we were having a hard time getting a skin paint on anything. At the debriefing, the word came out. Two B-58s, one low and one high, had taken us down across three states. Poof. Better jammers and antennas than the Buffs.
An interesting lesson in the power of that beautiful bird.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Carb Ice: Even in Florida, Even in Summer

I learned to fly in Miami, I keep my plane in the Florida Keys, and I've only flown outside the state a few times. The flight school in Miami never said a word about carb icing or carb heat. (They didn't say much about leaning the engine either!)

Then, I went for tailwheel training and spin training. I was fortunate to link up with an instructor who first reamed me a good one and then really taught me about carb icing... even (or ESPECIALLY) in Florida. I fly over water 90% of the time. (Why don't I have an amphib?... I ask myself that a lot.. and then I remember .. 4X the maintenance.! ) The humidity is always high.

THIS ARTICLE discusses a tragic accident in Florida in the summer due to carb ice. It's written by a good author and is recommended reading

Carb icing can and will get you in the summer in Florida with any normally aspirated engine. The chart in the article is a little small.. I am displaying a bigger chart here that, along with a more technical discussion, is at THIS FAA Website. Note the slope of that Relative Humidity line. It's the humidity that drives the equation. If my tach drops below 2200 RPM, I pull the carb heat. That's the rule in my cockpit.

ADDED: I just checked and the report from the AWOS at 9:30 AM on the ground at 10' MSL says the temp is 28c and dew point 23c. So, according the chart I'm in the clear... just BARELY.. now, how about at 1000' MSL? ooops.

ADDED: See also this chart that includes more relative humidity lines.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Flying Today: 111K, 2450RPM, 5.9 GPH

It was hot up there today. The density altitude on the 10' MSL runway was 1800'. But, at about 1600' the Zodiac was putt putt over the alligators in the everglades at 111K, turning 2450RPM and burning 5.9 GPH. CLICK on the PHOTO to make it a lot bigger and easier to see!

A Good Objective Analysis of Electric Cars

I would like to believe in electric cars. I wold also like to fly an electric airplane. Although I have to admit that replacing the battery with a compressed air tank, as apparently a company in India is doing, is so simple as to be brilliant (if the air tank can really hold enough energy safely).

THIS REPORT, from a Blogger sponsored by National Semiconductor, is objective and insightful. I guess the all-electric numbers are getting a LITTLE better. But, we really need better battery technology. (or compressed air tanks!)

The Blog called EnergyZarr (the guy's name is Zarr) is about energy in all forms and would seem to be worth following!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An Interesting Hands-On Report on Solar Power

PC Magazine's Extreme Tech posted an interesting hands-on report about a residential solar installation. A lot of unknowns so far, but interesting.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bell 609: A Civilian Osprey.. People are Buying them!

What a way to make an entrance! The Bell 609 is a civilian Osprey! A lot better billionaire urban status symbol than a slippery old transcontinental jet. Greg Norman and Ross Perot have signed up for something like $20 million each. Annual maintenance will be a few bucks too! See the story from the Wired Magazine Danger Room HERE

Friday, July 18, 2008

Good Grief! An iPhone flight attitude indicator!

Zow! An extremely inexpensive application for the iphone that gives it an attitude indicator function. I have NO IDEA how well it works, but if has any value as a tertiary backup, then it would justify the cost of the whole darn iPhone for me!

I have successfully kept myself away from retractable gear airplanes, fallen women, and the iPhone, but if this app is any good, it might be the end of me. Velcro the iphone to the panel! I would be thrilled to hear from anyone who had tried it!


UPDATE: The reports from pilots are that the device is just a toy. For example, it doesn't react in a coordinated turn. It wants to feel lateral forces. Overall, I've been very disappointed in iPhone applications. They all seem... incomplete or just kind of a sketch of what they could be. Another example, in a location sensitive device no one (that I can find) has created a "distance / time / calories" application for walkers, bikers, and runners. I mean really.. if the phone knows where it has been and where it is, then it ought to be able to do a simple distance / time / calories computation.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'd Like to Tell You About My Book: A Glint in Time

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Click on the Arrow for an Important Message

Gold Coins in an IRA?

Investigated putting gold into an IRA. Oh yes, I know, should have done it 18 months ago. The way it works is that you open an IRA account with a "repository" agency. You fund the "repository" (for example an IRA-IRA transfer) and then the repository buys the gold from whoever they work with (MONEX or Blanchard, etc.) And, that's it. Then you own gold in an IRA.

One could argue that the dollar is going to continue to slide as the "central government" prints more money in order to "prop up" (one could also say "nationalize") the banks. I don't see anything happening in the near future to strengthen the dollar.

IF we have a hurricane in the Gulf or if there is a war in the middle east (even just an air attack on Iran... watch for it in December if Obama is elected in Nov.) then the dollar will continue to slide.

Now, about the repository...Would you put your gold into something called the "Happy State Bank" ?? Ooooooo... color me skeptical

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why I'm NOT Flying Today!

Some folks on FriendFeed asked why I'm not flying today. Drove 30 miles to Marathon Airport. The radar showed a line of broken echoes, but it looked like it would pass through. Untied the airplane, took off the covers, wiped down the wings with an old towel. The clouds kept building. Okay, got on my butt under the belly and kept cleaning. The clouds kept building. Then the lightning. The line stalled and just kept building. Tie her up. Put the covers on. Join the EAA guys in the FBO!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My High and Low Level Analysis of the "Energy Crisis"

a friend recently asked me if I thought the "energy crisis" was a result of speculation. He said that airline executives were sending out letters to their frequent flyers begging them not to speculate on oil futures.

It's more complex than a speculative bubble, but at the same time the explanation is much more fundamental. To go up to 100,000 feet for a view... the normal action of the supply and demand curve has been upset because of limited supply. So, speculation will happen. But, the speculation is not a cause, it is a result. At the 10,000 foot level, speculation does raise the price, but only because the price is already on the rise.

In my thinking, we are at a very steep place in the supply / demand curve. Even more steep than a hockey stick shape. SO, any little bit we do to increase supply or to reduce demand will significantly reduce the price. That's where we are on the curve! When the price goes down, speculation will become non-profitable and the price will go down more.

The liberals would have us push on the demand curve. We should all cram into clown cars and keep the thermostat at Siberian temperatures. We should let the government set our thermostats and control our driving because they know best. (bullshit)

The realists (uh hem.. like me) know that bigger is better. Sure, let's put in those solar and wind plants and let's squeeze algea for whatever it gives. But, let's also drill anywhere there is oil we can control. BECAUSE, even the start of drilling will reduce the speculation portion of the pricing. Just ANNOUNCING THE INTENT to dill would substantially reduce speculation.

I think it's pretty clear. It's just the roar of people wanting to use the situation to gain control or profits that makes it difficult.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Source of Some Great Airplane Art

This site is the source of some great airplane art. Most of it on T-shirts! That is some sort of comment the portability of our society!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ah Yes, Flying is Good

Ooof.. 10 days between flights. Missed it! Yes, it is a LOT like sex. Sometimes you just have to make the time to enjoy yourself. Lots of changes at Marathon Airport in the Keys. One FBO (my favorite) is dying while the other is expanding. My FBO was bought by a developer a couple of years ago who is now having very tough times due to over-expansion.

Lots of clouds at 2500 - 3500 feet. I got to do a cool climbing turn while staying "clear of clouds." Buzzed along at 4500' with the carb leaned back sipping about 5.8 gal / hr. Took a long loop over Florida Bay, the Upper Keys, and back to Marathon. Used 8.6 gallons of gas.

Oh, it is lovely to fly!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Two Different Ways to refuel an SR-22

An SR-22 is not a complex airplane. It's a relatively low tech low wing. But, you'll get an interesting view of two very different ways of refueling an SR-22 at The Atlantic.com

A Great Photo --From NASA of course

It seems that NASA gets all the great shots!

See this one.. But, note that you might have to scroll sidewise or change screen resolution to see it all!

A Really Cool Low Level Drone

The Navy is developing this one for low level surveillance. It lasts an hour or so. Could be dropped from a plane, launched bty hand, popped off a ship..

The Gartner "Hype Curve" (an "S"-shaped adoption profile) clearly is in play. The drone phenom will get HUGE before it drops back to becoming just another part of the force. Keep in mind that we have no real corner on this technology. Anti-drone drones coming next? Certainly!

The Tech That's Fighting the Big Sur Fire

A very interesting article in the Wired Danger Room on Aviation and Technology being used to fight the California fires.

Our friend Steve Weintz, who is helping fight the Basin Complex fire in California, checks in...

I'm on the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade and we've been working hard with the huge force here to keep our friends' and neighbors' houses from burning down. The air support alone has been spectacular and effective -- in the last 48 hours an Air Guard C-130 with a retardant pod, two four-engined bombers (turboprop P-3 Orion airframes), a couple of two-engined bombers and a couple of twin-engined spotter craft. Add to that [helicopters like] a civilian Chinook, a big-ass old Sikorsky and a bunch of Hueys hauling 1,000 gal buckets from the ocean or from ponds up to the fire lines

Read it ALL HERE

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Aircraft Lightning Strike

Airplanes being hit by lightning is more common than most people understand. In fact, most airplanes are designed for it. Either way, it's quite a thing to see!