Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fucking burros!

I had to leave the airport of Pleasant Valley, Peoria or I would be in massive credit card debt for glider flights. But moreso because of the strange occurrence of 'Boogey Burros." What you say? You have heard of the Boogey Man, but not the Boogey Burros? To quote the good senator from AZ... "My friends..."

When you are in your RV late at night and the wine is upon you... and you are writing very long intricate emails... and outside your fucking window you hear the braying of the ass... what would YOU do? I almost pissed myself, I admit. Yes, I admit.

I shut off my interior light and peered through the slats of my blinds to discover the source of said sound! Nothing was to be seen! Yet... again it came, riding on the desert wind as a knife to my gut. HHHHH--SSSSS! I cowered in fear. I scrambled for a weapon and peered out. Nothing, my friends. Nothing.

After a while, I calmed down and turned on my light again, expecting to see out the windshield a demon burro with laserbeam eyes, piercing my brain. Nothing, my friends.

The next day I inquire as to this phenomenon. The glider pilot, Rick, my instructor, tells me of a herd of wild burro that make their way across the runways at night and drink at a tub of water on the park grounds. My fear abates, my friends.

The next night I wander, as I am wont to do, toward the runway to have a cigarette and talk to the gliders. A superstition for good winds the next day. Then I hear them... footsteps. Plodding hooves moving with intent toward my position. I freak out and head back to the RV. I hear them behind me... dozens of clopping sounds. Yet nothing is to be seen, my friends! I hang back by the RV door and then I hear it. The ghostly braying. Not one but two... three.. four beasts crying into the night, their thirst overwhelming them. Their parched throats seek purchase of cool liquid. I saw shadows against the lights of a far off desert town. That was when I hopped in Althea and hid in the bathroom.

If you think Boogey Burros are something to be fucked with, my friends... you will end up as the small compact green lumps that cover the runways every morning. Think... again.

Before I get to the trip to Sedona (dud), I wanted to share a tragedy for America (fuck yeah!). I was riding my bike through a construction yard and found the sad remains of Iron Man. We knew he was lost in flight in late 2008, but this was insult to injury. To be nothing but a pile of rubbish in a town already full of rubbish... an American tragedy.


So, I sauntered into the Sedona area. I have not been here for almost nine years and man, is it different! Houses everywhere. This is from the road on the way in.


Here are some rocks in Sedona.




This is the Javelina Cantina, my honkies!



My bad assed vegetarian enchilada with potatoes, spinach and cheddar and green sauce. What? The margarita you say? It is prickly pear puree and tequila.


*** NERD STUFF ***

So I was looking to see what satellites were visible tonight and tripled over in laughter at the fact that that toolbag that floated away from the ISS during a spacewalk/repair mission is being tracked and you can see it! At mag 8! HAHAHAHAHAH... AHAHAHAHAHA!! That is seriously one of the funniest things I have ever read on a technical astronomy site. Track the Toolbag! HAHAHAH... at mag 8. Yeah right. Like you could even see that from any city in the U.S. OMG... funniest thing ever.

So, I am walking from the RV park today to the town center to get margaritas and this pink Jeep drives by with the sign on the side, Pink Jeep Canyon Tours or some shit like that... full of people on tour, and this kid leans out and points his finger at me and yells, "YEAH MAN!" to which I point the gun hand back at him and yell, "Yeah!"

What the hell? Why does everyone in Arizona have to make note of me? I wasn't even carrying today and I get the AZ salute!

So, I have to wonder... they have parking spaces for disabled people. Well, if you are disabled you really aren't going anywhere are you? When my car is disabled for instance, it doesn't go very far. Why have a parking space for it? Oddness.

Top secret: Whenever I pull out of an RV park, I put the Star Wars Main Theme on the iPod and blast it though the stereo. People look at me kinda weird, but fuck man, it is like the Millennium Falcon pulling out of Mos Eisley! Give a Wookie a break!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Up.. up... and away.

Took my second glider lesson today at Turf Soaring School here in way north Peoria. Images below have information no one needs known, except myself.

My excitement builds! I had to image it for future recollection. When my mind is slow and feeble. (NOT!)


This is me and Chiquita, my glider girl. I made the name up myself, cause everyone called her N30485 or something. Yes, there was a phallic moment with her. Rick, my instructor called it 'taking ownership.' I figure she needed a stroke before I put her through the abuse I do. You can see by my pants the force of the wind upwind from the field.


I am onboard, testing the elevator, ailerons, rudder and spoilers. The big red knob is the tow release. Zoom! Ignore my dorky clothing. Speaking of clothing, all the glider pilots wear the same kind of hat, not a ballcap like me. Luckily I brought the kind of hat they wear on my trip, but did not wear it this time out. You can see the altimeter is preset to 1600 ft MSL, which is the altitude above Mean Sea Level of the Pleasant Valley (P48) airport I am staying at. If you don't do that, you crash on approach. Well, not really, but you can't gauge altitude correctly and in bigger planes, yeah, you WILL crash.


I think that is Jeff towing us out. At this point, there is a lot of scraping of the skidplate against the gravel runway edge. In a few seconds we are balanced on the landing wheel and then we put the elevator down and we are up.


I am about to release from tow and soar away to find thermals. I think we are about 3000 MSL (so, 1400 ft above ground). I was supposed to note the release alt. but was feeling the tow instead.


Smoggy ass Phoenix in the distance.


Lake Pleasant. Woo!


I found a thermal, now I am trying to stay in it. Instructor Rick had to whack me on the head a few times to remind me to watch my bank angle and shit. I can't think of anything more exciting than this, really. It is like a video game. You search out thermals or bubbles and get lift until they fizzle, then glide to another one. Clouds, birds, and other gliders are the keys to finding good ones.


Me... flying. No shit. It is not EASY, but it is not HARD. Once you get the feet/hand coordination down, it is pretty straightforward. It is really a whole body thing, like playing the drums. And these things are SO lubricated and tight you can feel your ship respond to everything you are doing.


The Turf Soaring School airport where I am staying.


Be, being insane in Chiquita. That is Rick behind me. HE is wearing the appropriate hat. ROXXOR!


The airport again. You can see Althea there in the fucking dust. We had a crazy dust storm the other night. This RV was rocking and not in the GOOD way.


Chiquita after I abused her. Rick let me do most of the landing this time, downwind, base and approach. He said to level her at 1 foot above the runway. Well... when you are in the cockpit, it is hard to tell 1 foot. And I dropped her a little early, not realizing how much runway I had left, so I leveled her at three feet and he took over and dropped her. With gliders, though, you don't land on the actual runway or you will skid to Mexico. The gravel beds along the edges are where you drop the glider and then the skidplate hits and you crunch to a stop. Thanks Rick! That rocked!


And for good measure, here is an Iridium flare I captured tonight about 9º SE of Polaris.


And that, as I say... is all.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How high am I?

Well, I was high as 7000 ft MSL yesterday during my first gliding lesson. Today there is a crazy windstorm that is keeping the planes on the ground, so I am not going up again today. Will try for tomorrow. One of the pilots and I are going to bike out to some petroglyphs this week, hopefully. I will get some pics up. On a ride today through the desert I brought my camera to photograph some cacti for my new website, I will post some samples below. In one cactus, there was a special treat! An owl's nest with at least two, that I could see, babies in it. Scanning around, I knew the folks would be nearby. And then I found them.

The cactus on the left has the nest. You can see fluff!


Here is a shot from the 17mm cropped and enlarged of the nest.


This is with the 300mm. The owlings? moved between lens changes.


This is either daddy or mommy owl watching me.


And the other one.


Beautiful animals, aren't they? We are blessed!

Yesterday I was riding my bike along the highway, open-carrying my Glock, and this car full of young dudes drove by on their way to the lake nearby to get MORE drunk. One kid puts his hand out the window and makes a gun with it and yells, "Bang bang cowboy! WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!" What is it with kids yelling at me on my bike. Maybe my 'safari' hat prompts these calls to me.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's NOT a dry heat! - Pt II - Nerdly things.

If you didn't read the beginning of this bullshit, read yesterday's entry. Wait... who am I talking to? My-fucking-self of course!

I would be remiss to be here in the relative darkness of the Arizona desert without looking at the sky.

*** WARNING - Astro-Nerdiness ahead! ***

The Phoenix Nebula in the southern sky is a travesty, let me begin by saying. Firstly, it has grown from what used to be maybe 30º on the horizon and maybe 10º in altitude to over 60º wide by 30+º in altitude. One thing I lack in the Pacific Northwest is the ability to see anything below -25 Declination. This means that most of the Sag. Complex, Ophiuchus, Libra, Scorpius, etc. lay on the 10 degree of horizon that is mostly unviewable and definitely cannot be photographed. You can see Antares, but the seeing is terrible at that altitude from horizon.

So, it is nice to come down to the south where you can see stuff like that. At 14º lower latitude, all sorts of stuff come into play. But I am 30 miles NORTH of the Phoenix Nebula, which is reaching up to -30 Dec these days and I can's see SHIT!
Okay, I still got the northern skies and the celestial equator, which for me at this time of the year is not that interesting. Orion is almost setting by midnight, as is Auriga, Perseus, Gemini, etc.

Virgo, Böotes, Ursa Major, etc. are at zenith, and they are fun to play with, but Spica is almost swallowed in the south and the VGC is a bit washed.

So I figure, okay, I will do some binoc Messier viewing. I started in the west cause I wanted to catch the Open Clusters in Gemini and Auriga. As I poke around the south-central region with my Russian 9x63's, I start counting off the OCs and then it dawns upon me what a confused little Frenchman Messier must have been!

The two outer OCs in Auriga are M37 and M38, while M36 lies in between them and M35 lies about 9º away.

So, if Messier is hopping from OC to OC, in Gemini dig?, he is like oh! nice bright cluster that is NOT a comet... I call it... M35! hmm hmm hmm... *keeps going* Oh! here is another one just inside the Auriga boundary. I will call it... M37! *keeps going* Ahh! Another one, in the same linear path at the last two... I will call it... OH! I skipped 36. I will call THIS one 36! *keeps going* Another one! I will call it... hmmm... M38!

What Tomfoolery is this, I ask!? Why not get your eraser (yes, I know he had a quill) and fix that M37 to M36 and do not confuse us 250 years later! I NEVER understood that logic. As if you can't see 4 BIG ASS CLUSTERS in a row. You know they are not comets because you can resolve stars. Yes, I know he had a 2" scope or whatever. Still.. he is like... the French Observatory's village idiot!

Anyway, I tried to get The Triplet in Leo, no go...M104(The Sombrero Galaxy)... no go. I found Praesepe though! But it is in my constellation (Cancer) and quite viewable. Since Cancer, also known as the Dark Sign, was in a fight with Aries for being the suckiest constellation, God gave it the Beehive Cluster (M44) and put the issue to rest. It is known by four major names, The Manger, M44, The Beehive Cluster, and Praesepe, which I have always chosen to call it. The Greek names are the best. The Pleiades, the Hyades, Praesepe. I give the Persians their due, but names like Zubenelgenubi make astronomy tests HARD. I am not making this stuff up, folks!

So, I had some time to play around with my digital camera and took some star trail shots. The first one is just a fun little exercise in taking a long exposure and putting a 'hat' over the lens for a minute or so, then re-exposing for about 20-30 seconds.


Orion is particularly fun for these kind of exposures because the north-most star on his belt, Mintaka lies just below the celestial equator. This means that any star north of Mintaka will swirl around Polaris and any star south of Mintaka will swirl around the southern celestial pole. (They are too poor down there to afford a pole star although Polaris is not really at the TRUE celestial north pole, but shhhh... no more words.) So, a long exposure involving Orion will show slight curvature in star trails in either direction on either side of the belt. If you look closely you can see it in this pic. As Sniper says in Training Day, "This is some trippy shit, Holmes!"


Ehhh... maybe you can't see it in that image there. It is a 50mm shot... should be... 28 or less to really get the effect. So... here is a photo of BeBop and I. She loves to take my hat off... which she is not doing in this photo.


It's NOT a dry heat!

Because of various issues with the North Phoenix RV Park, I took my show on the road this morning... 40 miles north of town to a nice little place called Turf Soaring School where you can pay some ducats to be towed aloft in a glider and sail around silently for awhile then hopefully land safely and live to tell the story. I can see the airfield from my writing desk, in fact.

Oh course, now that the temps are reaching the 90's, it decided to get cloudy, which means of course... humid. So, now instead of walking around like Hannibal himself, I am sitting here wishing I was in Puerto Vallarta, where it HAS to be nicer weather.

AND in the process, the viewing for the Spring Equinox star party at Lake Pleasant (which is a total fucking misnomer) will be 'clouded out'. Which sucks cause Saturn is BRILLIANT out here, even though his rings are within 5% of edge-on. Still! There are moons to be seen and storms and shit.

Note to self: when you first turn on the overhead AC after 4 months, make sure there is nothing edible under the vents.

Next to me is a purple and pink trailer looking as if it has been here for awhile. I am guessing a woman lives there.


Yesterday, I was able to take in the first game of a Mariner's doubleheader with the Cubs. Of course it was a split squad game... which means I got to watch every player that will NOT appear on the starting roster of this 2009 season.

Here is how it went down.

I was standing out here where the guy is, described by the large red arrow.No, that is not me, but I look just as dorky, believe me.


Waiting to get this: (I apparently lost my ticket after the game, so i hadda sub the one from Tuesday)


Then, I heard a plop and looked behind me to see a ball hit foul out of the stadium veering away from a point not two feet distant from myself. I am standing directly behind home plate, mind you. I look around to see if any kids are going to chase it down, but there is nothing but my elders discussing their Madhoff investments. So, I take a stroll and pick it up after photographing it, seen below.


The great part about this whole game was this: the game was apparently sold out, so the parking guy said... well-uh, befoh ya pay for pahking, you go check about a ticket! So, I drove to the ticket window and asked. Oh, they have lawn seats. Well, fuck... just like a Dead show man... all that matters is getting in! So I bought the $6.00 ticket, got back in my rental van and headed back to parking. Well, after the 2nd inning (which is when I returned from ticketing), the parking leaves, so I just parked for free and found a good seat on the lawn and I was drinking!

Me: whitest guy in Air-eh-zone.



So, the game, yes...

This guy stood around a lot.


These people were there.


Okay... this thing...


This is a close up of the LED matrix for the big scoreboard. Because we are dealing with transmitted light, we are going to be using RGB values here, correct? Ergo, this matrix should contain modules of either three discrete diodes with perhaps 255 values for brightness OR one tri-color diode. But, as far as I know, three individual SUPER-BRIGHT LEDs will be seen at a greater distance and one tri-color. And there is some weird bleed you get at distance with tri-color. So, here we should be dealing with three large, bright LEDS of each of the primary colors. Which means each module of three discrete LEDs would represent one pixel (which as I moved away from the board, this was true). Nothing interesting here, yet. But then I looked at the modules and as you can see, the colors appear in different positions within their module. Red would always be in the right corner of the triangle, but blue and green would change position up and down, which to me makes no sense at all. Now, I did not notice that blue and green would change positions within the same module, but from module to module they would appear at random vertical positions. The only thing I could figure is... they got one batch of modules from one manufacturer and another batch elsewhere, where blue and green were juxtaposed. This makes no difference to the viewer, of course, because it still appears as one solid pixel color, given enough spatial relationship. Anyone got any ideas?

Then... these guys were on base and... nothing happened. We lost 9-2.


The flags of our nations.


The elusive Mariner's Bullpen Catcher's Gear.


That was the end of the game. We sucked. And some other fucker was wearing Junior Griffey's #24! WTF MAN!?

Something about Phoenix and hos. I went to see Watchmen (which I will get into later, but let me say that it was exactly what I was expecting and worth seeing again and again.) and saw this movie playing. There were a lot of little chunky white girls in line to see this! Seriously. I think it was sold out.


Then as I left the theatre, I saw this on one of these girls' truck.


Crazy shit, mangs!

So, I am gonna go take a bike ride through rattlesnake country. When I get back I will post part II of this relating to the cool star pics I took last night and some crazy explosion shit going on in PHX.

Big secret of the day : When I watch basketball games and the players step on the lines, it makes me cringe.

Until then... I am chilling like a villain.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

They said my feet were too flat.

I don't think a lot of people GOT Mork & Mindy. How many people knew about Boulder at the time? My next sitcom is going to be in Arcata, where my soulmate awaits me in a drunken stupor outside the Red Onion pub and livery.

My fate is construction. Downtown Seattle, I moved into the Nettleton, total disaster. For the entire year I lived there there was construction upstairs and downstairs so loud I could not find my space before going into the show. Reciprocal drills, banging of pipes, all sorts of shit to eventually culminating in me being moved to the OTHER tower in the complex to stay for a month. Which was the worst, cause it was right down the way from Vito's nightclub, which was great for when I was high on Absinthe and the fools exited the place. Of course, it was a yo-yo night club, so at 2am there were usually sisters screaming at each other from four feet away about "where they tampons be at?"

To create balance in this scene, there is the move last year to Alki Beach next to a conspicuously empty lot. Within hours of my move, a new building was being put up! You gotta dig the trip, here, man. I am at home all the fucking day, where I work, sleep, or slay. It is hard to make quick with the slashy-slash when all I can hear is mariachi music and pile drivers. After my six month lease was up, I fucked off back to Des Moines.

Here in the desert town of Phoenix, Arizone, I am at the lovely (and admitted ex-worst-tweaker-park in the city) North Phoenix RV Park. I have the 'best spot in the park' right next to the office, laundry (also internet kiosk), bathrooms, showers, pool, etc. As luck would have it... THIS week, they decided to start remodeling the building! Which means at 7:00a here comes the mariachi music and the nail guns and rotary saws and Fuckall™.

I love A & E. At night, I turn on the old laptop, plug in my cable TV tuner in and have real life crime shit on while I am playing with photos, writing, and digital manipulation. In the matter of twenty minutes, I get to see probably 5-10 corpses in various forms of decay. Brilliant evening imagery.

There are big balloons floating around the desert here. I will make photon-collection reproductions! You will make sticky!

I want to change my name to Sincock. It seems like the Federal thing to do.

Why do shows like Dog the Bounty Hunter get renewed? It is a travesty. It is not informative, it is not enlightening, it doesn't help anyone. You get this hambeast of a woman screaming at people who get pulled accidentally into orbit around her boobs. You get this mullets-r-us Hulk Hogan-a-bee that is still high from way back when yelling shit about brah and Jesus and his crew of people who are unable to carry real weapons because they are poseurs who probably steal cable.

My next unscripted game show is going to be on some deserted isle off Tahiti where everyone has to have sex with the fauna and guess as to which venereal disease they have contracted.

I finally got my ass to the Spring Training yesterday and it was NOT the M's, but the Padres and the Angels. It was actually a really good game. The haloes stomped in the ninth. The bad assed thing about the Spring Training is the fact that the stadium holds 11K, but only about 4K show up. So, you get to just hang about wherever you want and talk to the players and kick little kids in the kneecaps and drink 6 dollar margaritas in the hot sun of the desert. Here are some pics!

My favorite avenue in all of Bisabol!


The Peoria outfield.


Some action on the field! What is happening? I have no clue cause I have... Margarita! (and not the dippy Russki down at the Enterprise Rent-a-Car who can't figure out that you CAN put a bicycle into a cargo van!)


More child abuse by the Padres' Burke. I saw him throw a kid over the railing earlier.


How baseball was meant to be seen.


The BOMB ASS Mexican food in Peoria. This place was completely empty except for Jessica, the server, and myself, Jim. Everyone was down the street hanging out at the Mick joint getting stupid non-compostable green plastic bead strands and shitty Budweiser with food coloring in it. Me? To quote the great Bukowski, "I'm drrrrrinkking!"


Today the M's are 'away' playing the Royals. The stadium in which that contest is to be held is only 5 miles from the Peoria Sports Complex. Interestingly, there are TEN stadia here within a few miles of each other. How Columbo!

Behind the RV park I am in is a nice little mountain I will be hiking up later. I should post pics. Also there may be some hot air balloons in the sky I will try to bring to light.

In the next few days or next week, I am going to try to get out to Roswell to see where I was born. My birth certificate says Torrance, CA, but I think that is some kind of crypto-anagram for Roswell, NM. I remember a bit of the birthing process and there were these rocks and mountains all around and a Big Wheel and a Nerf football and a Spirograph. Also gotta stop at the Carlsbad Caverns which is where I was raised by the outcast EBE's from the M51 system. It if funny that most of us tend to think of alien races in terms of the Zeta Reticulans, the Pleidians, or maybe the Mizar Binary groups, but these are all in the Milky Way. Think about all the Exosystem Entities. The EEs make up a FAR larger population of overall EBEs and EQEs and those are just the carbon-based organic biological ones. I am not even counting the Androidal Multipedal races from the Magellanic Cloud Collective. To them, Roswell is like... Bakersfield... which is like Roswell to those from Bakersfield. We don't have a proper contingent of representation there in Bakersfield, but there is a small underground transfer station not far south near Lamont.

Gotta run, droogies! Gotta date with Junior Griffey. Funny thing, I have his rookie card at home. I should have brought it down here to get autographed on the last year of his career! You see? The alpha AND the omega!