An amazing radio controlled B-29 with X-1 launch

An RC airplane powered by four chainsaw motors!  It’s a B-29 which will launch an X-1. Watch it all the way through. As a former RC flyer (and pilot) I find this to be fascinating, and guarantee you’ll be thrilled as well as you contemplate the fact that this plane had to be built from scratch.

The Pledge of Allegiance to the United States Flag

It’s Flag Day. Notice all the flags around town? Many changes to the Pledge of Allegiance have occurred on Flag Days past, including insertion of the phrase “under God.”

On September 8, 1892 a Boston-based youth magazine “The Youth’s Companion” published a 22-word recitation for school children to use during planned activities the following month to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of America.   Under the title “The Pledge to the Flag”, the composition was the earliest version of what we now know as the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.

via The Pledge of Allegiance to the United States Flag.

It seemed like a good idea … to kayak the Llano

My sterling kayaking companion, Robert Henley, should have had a counseling session with us both before setting out on this adventure. Recent rains made it seem like a good idea to paddle the Llano. Reports were that the water was good. We had previously done the Highway 87 bridge (near Mason) to Castell so taking a different route was in order as we finally made our schedules coincide.

Castell to “Scott Slab” (a/k/a Llano CR 102) would be a good 10 mile paddle. Then, as we passed the Llano City Park, and each of us having day-long kitchen passes and being filled with visions of flowing waters (and probably sugar plum fairies as well) dancing in our heads, we dropped his truck there — at the park — which would add an estimated five miles to the trek. No step for a stepped as they say. After all with my “Couch to 5k” training program I was in great shape. It seemed like a good idea.

On to Castell and unload the “yaks” and away we go.

Henley strikes out ahead

On the water by about 8:30 with an overcast sky to limit the heat (but, of course, not the UV rays!), fishing gear on board, the estimated 15 miles would be nothing.

Right away we started fishing but all day we would have little luck. Robert caught a few perch on his fly rig but I was skunked. I did not have the right lures, having left them in Jones Valley because I did not expect a fishing opportunity prior to getting back up there.

The Llano is a beautiful river.

A typical scene on the Llano (click the photos to enlarge)

There are many scenes such as this one where calm waters can be found for a rest or a chance at sneaking up on a bass. We know the fish are there, but today would not be the day to do anything about it. Some of the trick of floating this section of the Llano is to determine whether to go left or right when approaching these rock clusters which often divide the lazy river into multiple routes through what can become a maze of granite.

A fishing opportunity

Robert paddles a bit faster than I do and then fishes while I catch up. Here he ties on a fly, ever changing the bait with which to entice an unsuspecting fish. He ties a lot of his own flies and has an endless array of what should have been tantalizing treats.

Shortly after this photo was taken we decided that we should pass some water under the keel and not spend quite so much time fishing. Hey, we were “fishing,” not “catching.” So putting down the fishing poles for the most part and picking up the paddles we started covering some ground, er, water. That photo was taken about 9:15 after we had been on the water only 45 minutes. With 15 miles (we guessed) to cover, we needed to paddle. It seemed like a good idea.

Now remember that I said those rock formations could divide the river. Like Yogi Berra said, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.” The same idea applies on the river as well.

Walking the yak

We had come to one of those “forks” and took it. It seemed like a good idea. But it wasn’t. Wrong turn and the result was dragging the kayaks through shallows. This was not too bad but we would later give up on this “channel” and drag the yaks across a wide sandbar and over a sand spit of about four feet feet in height to gain access to the main river channel. Such are the foibles of attempting to float an unknown section of river. Imagine what Lewis and Clark encountered!

We would up doing 10.2 miles. More later on just how that happened. Here is the track on a topo map.

GPS track from Castell to Scott Slab Road

After we began paddling in earnest we had a bit of a surprise when a breeze came up. OK, paddling in the breeze is nice, except when it’s against you! We had a steadily increasing wind (15 mph and gusting) and were facing that with the thought of “gee, why did we add five miles to this trek?” It would eventually abate, but we had nearly two hours of a relentless wind that would occasionally try to rip the hat off of my head — and as I had already (last year) sacrificed one nice hat to the Llano River gods, I had the chin strap down on this one.

There were some nice rapids even with the water flow not being what we had hoped. On one really nice chute that had the most drastic drop we encountered, it required a hard right and immediate left — both of which were impossible. So I took the alternative route (and later learned that Robert did as well) which amounted to taking the huge boulder head-on, riding up on it to the point where I thought surely I was shooting over it — and understand, from the water level this boulder rose a good three feet — when the boat slid off to the right and the current took me on around followed immediately by a blood-curdling scream. Oops, that came out of me!

As I said at the beginning, the river’s basin had gotten heavy rains just two weeks prior and the reports were that the water was good. A primo opportunity to get on the Llano. It seemed like a good idea.

But the rest of the story is that the water had already dropped to a level that would present more than a few “opportunities to excel.” On rapid after rapid we would hang up on a rock and have to “hump” the yak off the rock or, on more than a few occasions, dismounting and dislodging would be in order. Those hangs plus the wind was making this trip not the fun back when it was conceived as being … a good idea.

That is what led to Robert calling Janet, who was already in the Llano area, to come-a-runnin’ and bring the truck to the Scott Slab Road. Praises to Verizon for good cell coverage in the area! She surely looked like an angel when she drove up. As a bonus I got to meet her dad. I’ve known Janet for way over 20 years but never knew her dad. Nice fellow and he allowed as how our decision was a good one as the next segment, Scott Slab to Llano City Park, got rougher than what we had been on. Turns out he’s been all up and down that river.

So, slightly chagrined at stopping short, but with aching arms and shoulders we loaded up  the yaks and headed on our way.

It seemed like a good idea.

Here is the river gauge data that shows why we were faced with the conditions leading to dragging and hanging. (click to enlarge)

Google Earth photo of the route.

Google Chrome – Why use Google Chrome?

The web browser is arguably the most important piece of software on your computer. You spend much of your time online inside a browser: When you search, chat, email, shop, bank, read the news, and watch videos online, you often do all this using a browser.

via Google Chrome – Why use Google Chrome?.

I’m experimenting with the Google “Chrome” browser. It is a LOT faster than Firefox and has much less hit on the CPU. Firefox has come to be a resource hog and crashes frequently. I’ll likely go back to it when they get over the current issues, but right now Chrome is kinda interesting.

Tea Party Member Stuns Crowd

I previously posted this directly onto Facebook, but want to preserve and further share this marvelous moment. This former marine belts out the 2nd verse of “The Star Spangled Banner” — which I frankly never had heard. (lyrics below) It’s a stirring verse and he really belts it out. Notice the crowd when you view the video — it takes them a bit to realize the origin of the song, and to stand and salute.

This marine obviously stood up for something — America — and still does. It seems to me that a lot of the trouble with some folks today is that they’ve never stood up for something important, maybe not even for themselves. Many people can be proud of their country, their religious beliefs, or their favorite team without having been in the military or the clergy, never having played pro football, but they can still become “invested” in that endeavor and its tenets.

Of course, most who DO step up into something important will stand up for that entity or activity for a lifetime.

But conversely, if you have an “America hater” you almost always have a person who never stood as a “servant citizen” — military or otherwise.

Now listen to someone who has stood up, and now stands out.

OR here for an alternative site.

Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, “In God is our trust”
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Don’t Cry for me Argentina — America

Don’t Cry for me Argentina America … you have to watch this if you care about the fiscal disaster which America is rapidly becoming. Besides, the music alone is worth it. Argentina was once a thriving country and was driven into the economic ground by soaring debt resulting from its government’s (remember Peron? Evita?) pandering to those with their hands out for the “entitlements.” Can it happen here? After you view this you’ll be convinced … yes.  Just today, the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury estimated the national debt to be $19Trillion in five years, up from the $13Trillion it hit in May of 2010. About a 50% increase in only five years. Here’s a nice summary:

According to the Debt Clock:

• Total national debt: $13 trillion
• Debt per citizen: $42,026
• Debt per taxpayer: $117,982
• Total interest due: $1.9 trillion
• Interest per citizen: $2,211

Click here to see the Debt Clock, which is updated every second.

(Source: (accessed 6/9/2010))

Click here to view the powerpoint show. (be patient, it can be slow to load)

Source: (accessed 6/9/2010).

There is a copyright notice on the website, but no name or attribution.

Further Analysis of Arizona’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Law

I have previously written about the Arizona law and want to update my thoughts since the AZ legislature amended the statute.  The hue and cry continues, even by those who either don’t understand it, or haven’t bothered to consider the big picture (like the entire U.S.), or (sadly) have not even read the law. The focus here is on some of the changes to the law.  There is a great source of the text including red-lining of the changes.

Arizona’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Law

There has been a great outcry in the press and on the internet about the terrible new anti-illegal immigrant law signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010.  The sad reality is that very few people on both sides of the issue have actually read the new law, but their ignorance of the law does not stop them from making statements about  it.

This post is part 1 of 5 posts that contain the entire text of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, (aka SB 1070) as as revised by House Bill 2162 (aka HB 2162) on April 30, 2010.  The new illegal immigration law / anti-immigrant law becomes law on July 29, 2010.   Deletions to text made by HB 2162 are show in red text that is lined out and new language is this color and underlined.

via Text of Arizona’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Law – Part 1 | KEYTLaw.

The essence of SB 1070 is that law enforcement refrain from NOT enforcing existing federal law.  Put more directly, law enforcement is supposed to enforce all existing laws, federal, state and local.  Hardly a unique thought since every oath of a public official and law enforcement or military officer that I’ve ever seen includes the obligation to “protect and defend the Constitution and law of the United States and of this state … from enemies foreign and domestic.”

A criticism often voiced was that “contact” with a citizen could lead to investigation of immigration status. AZ has made a strong change in  Section 11-1051 thusly:

B.  For any lawful contact stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state. . . .

By limiting the investigation trigger to a “stop, detention or arrest” puts the immigration inquiry on the same footing as the other information gathering done in any such circumstance.

An further in part B the anti-profiling provision is strengthened, as in

A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not solely consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection

Critics complain “but the cops will profile anyway” but that complaint is a red herring because that potential issue always exists. I suggest that there has to be a degree of trust in our officers, but even if you distrust them, it’s not a unique argument that should sway against this one law, of many.

Let’s put the situation in context. A person has been stopped, detained or arrested. Those are circumstances subject to volumes of cases, including the U.S. Supreme Court, about when, and how, and for how long a person is subjected to one of those varying degrees of restriction on their freedom.  Either we allow a person to be “stopped, detained or arrested” in the enforcement of laws or we simply abandon enforcing the laws of the nation and states.

So the person has been stopped, detained or arrested according to existing law and procedures, and will simply be asked to identify.  That is accomplished

. . . if the person provides to the law enforcement officer or agency any of the following:

1.  A valid Arizona driver license.
2.  A valid Arizona nonoperating identification license.
3.  A valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification.
4.  If the entity requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance, any valid United States federal, state or local government issued identification. . . .

How hard is that? It’s what any of us would have to produce if stopped, detained or arrested. And note the relevant provision of existing federal law regarding ID:

“Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d) of this section. Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.” 8 USC section 1304(e)

Thus it is no imposition on the registered alien to produce what he is already required to have on his person.

Other sections of the law relate to various offenses such as trespassing, smuggling, employment and in every section is included the following provision:

A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin in the enforcement of this section except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona constitution.

Yes, skeptics will make light of that but it’s the best that can be done in the face of extraordinary circumstances of need, and there is ample existing law to govern actions in the AZ enforcement of their laws.

The final point is that while pundits (and bloggers) across the nation decry Arizona’s groundbreaking efforts, the problem of illegal immigration is not simply a border problem.  Folks in the midwest and Eastern seaboard would do well to consider that fact.

Baseball missed the pitch

In the recent baseball game where pitcher Armando Galarraga was cheated of a perfect game due to a blown call (YouTube video here), the baseball commissioner had a chance to “do what’s right” … and he blew it.  In his own bottom of the 9th, Bud Selig missed the pitch. He didn’t strike, didn’t take a ball, wasn’t even at the plate as the pitch came to him.

There is much discussion about resisting instant replay in baseball but that begs the question. Firstly, there could be limited replays, certainly not including a review of balls and strikes. But it would be feasible to allow limited review of events such as this.

Secondly, this was an extraordinary event and without creating a precedence and without moving to instituting instant replays, Selig could have simply repaired the record. But he didn’t … he struck out without even stepping up to the plate.  Shame on him. I’m a very casual fan of this national sport of ours, not a fanatic, but I know what’s right. This isn’t.

545 vs. 300,000,000 – Politicians vs. We The People

This is great. Read the whole piece. It’s an adaptation from an article written in the 80’s but still quite relevant.  Perhaps even more so, embellished by Jon Stewart.

545 PEOPLE — By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them. Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits? Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

via 545 vs. 300,000,000 – Story Ideas – The Daily Show Forum.