Monday, April 30, 2012

Air France 447

Someone posted a link to an article on the Air France 447 crash over the Atlantic a couple years ago and it is both fascinating and terrifying reading. I’m uneasy when I fly. Not scare, but uneasy, and I’m definitely a little more concerned after reading this. In fact, my stomach was clenching while reading it.

It does seem like there is some problem with the design, to me. The fact that a stick can slip back into neutral, and hold the previous command, while convenient, isn’t something I like. I hate the shifter sticks on modern cars that would require me to look to find the gear. I like having my manual shifter that I can feel what gear I’m in by the placement. I’d have to defer to pilots that have flown both of these types of aircraft.

A horrible crash, and for sure we can’t predict how people will react in crisis. I do know that we have to give people a chance to learn. Without that, we’ll never get better pilots, or new ones. I do hope that the threat of lawsuits doesn’t prevent Air France, Airbus, or even Boeing, from going forward with better designs and ideas that make things work better. Not just sound better.

Book #26 - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

51zrA-bD RL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-72,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I’ve been wanting to read this so I could watch the movie, and I finally got a copy in the UK, starting it last week. I’m surprised how popular The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is after reading it, since it doesn’t have a ton of action in it, but it is well written and builds into something that I struggled to put down.

The book meanders along, working between the two main characters. It almost seems like a lazy Sunday afternoon as it progresses through the year. There are a few exciting moments, and it’s definitely an adult themed book with some graphic sex in it, but not thrilling. I enjoyed it, but I like those slow moving, thoughtful books.

There’s the unsociable, or maybe anti-social Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. She’s a PI, world class hacker, but not well functioning well with others. She’s hired to investigate people by a security company, and she ends up taking a case on Mikael Blomkvist, the other main character.

Mikael is a writer, an investigative financial journalist who owns a financial magazine and has just been convicted of libel. He’s unsure of what to do, but he’s offered a job to come search for a murdered by a retired industrialist in Northern Sweden. The entire book takes place in Sweden, was written in Swedish, and is really a murder mystery. Except the murder occurred 20 years ago.

A family on an island had the grand daughter of the industrialist disappear. No one every found the body or knew what happened, but there were only a few people on the island and suspicion is cast on all of them. I don’t want to give the details, but with little confidence in the outcome, and partially to get away, Mikael takes the job, and becomes fascinated by the story.

The story moves to an exciting conclusion about the murder, and then continues on, meandering further as it wraps up some of the other questions of Lisbeth and Mikhael as they work together and become closer.

It was a book I really enjoyed, and now my reading list is getting jumbled since I want to read the next two.

A Rough Baseball game

After last week’s exciting win, I was looking forward to this week’s late afternoon game. I think most of us came into the game with some confidence. Even with a left hander starting the game on the other side, I thought I’d do well.

It didn’t last long. I sat out the first inning, being the official scorekeeper as they other team hit the ball hard and into gaps, getting 8 runs. We did make a few plays, and we had 2 errors, but mostly it felt they were much more ready to play.

We got a few hits in each of the next few innings, but couldn’t put anything together. They added more runs, and I had a strikeout, getting fooled on a curve that just dropped below my bat, even though I swung about 2” off the ground. I did get a nice hard hit into right in the 5th, and came around to score after a few people. However batting in the 6th, I let a called third go that was outside and low (to me), but not egregiously so. I should have swung, though I don’t think I could have reached it.

We ended up losing in the 7th, 16-5. I missed a really hard hit ball at third that flew below my glove. I picked up another one cleanly, but then threw it wide at first. I’d been throwing left all day during warm-ups, and ended up throwing this one right. Grrr.

All in all, not a good day. I did play more third as the other guy pulled a hamstring. I was in on a 1-2-5 double play, but afterwards, my legs were sore. I didn’t have the normal cleats, or the orthotics, which might have been part of the problem. Certainly sore today.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


What I want is a hot shower, a cold cocktail, and a soft bed.

What I will do is go out into the cold, prepare a mixture of horse feed, and walk along the hard ground leaving hay and feed for the beasts.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chef D

Delaney’s been working on his Cooking merit badge for scouts. He went to a few classes over the last month and spent a Saturday at a counselor’s house with a few other boys. They all came home with a rack of ribs and a hunk of brisket, which was excellent.

This past weekend he went camping for the spring Advancement Camp for the Boy Scouts. It’s where they try to orient the new 5th grade boys and get them moving in Boy Scouts, hoping most can get their Tenderfoot badge. Delaney’s been a few times and went there this time as an instructor for the Orienteering merit badge. That was good since he earned the badge over the weekend with the work he did.

However he also had to cook 5 meals for the adults over the weekend. Each kid had to plan, cost, shop, and cook the meals for himself and 2 other adults. Tia got him shopped and settled at camp since I was out of town, but he wasn’t completely organized. He called in a panic Fri night that he couldn’t find the spaghetti sauce for his meal. We were worried, so I drove out Saturday to be sure he wasn’t really missing anything.

As I drove out, he called again, in another panic over how to cook his chicken dinner. I got there, and one of the adults was helping him determine the best way to cook it and he ended up making a nice BBQ chicken dinner with salad and peas. A few of the adults complemented him, and told me that he’d done a great job with spaghetti the night before. I guess his panic was reserved for the parents as no one else noticed.

On the drive home he told me that he did what Tia and I do. He browned meat, added sauce, cooked it a bit, etc. Neat that he’s paid a little attention to us. He did a much better job than a few of the other boys. I was sitting on a few board of reviews this past week for a few of the cooking students and I asked them about their meals. One kid “cooked”

peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

  • cold cereal
  • grilled cheese
  • ramen
  • cold cut sandwiches

Another did

  • hamburgers
  • quesadillas
  • hot dogs
  • bagels and cream cheese

Delaney did:

  • quesadillas
  • egg burritos
  • spaghetti and salad
  • BBQ chicken

He took the “cook" part of the merit badge seriously.

He has to cook 9 meals at home as well. He did quesadillas on the weekend a few weeks back, and last night I asked him if he’d cook little pizzas. He asked for a little supervision, but he took spaghetti sauce, added some red pepper and basil, cooked it, then spread it on bread, added pepperoni and cheese for Kendall, onions for himself and me. Very tasty.

Looking forward to seeing what else he will cook.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How cool is this?

This isn’t the first time it happened, but for some reason a week ago I grabbed the video camera and walked outside around 3:50pm, after seeing this out the office window.

Kendall, Rain, and Uma

I usually get Kendall from the bus stop, picking her up since it’s about a mile away. Usually she comes in the house with me, looking for a snack (I make baked, homemade fries lots of days), but sometimes she leaves her book bag in the car and runs out

“Bye, Dad, going riding.”

She’ll run over to the barn and I’ll go inside. In about ten minutes or so, I’ll often see her ride past the window, going out in the front pasture with her horse.

She can catch the horse from the fenced in pasture, put on a bridle and a saddle. Often she’s bareback, as she is here. She can get on, no small feat with a 16+ hand horse, and then ride. She usually rides about 10-15 minutes, and then goes to put her horse away, coming inside for a snack and homework.

How lucky is my daughter?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tired and Sore

Going to be a slow, short run today.

Last night I went to karate, the first time in two weeks, and it was hard. A small class (10 people), and mostly advanced belts. For some reason our teacher decided it was kata only night, and we started off with lots of kata, moving from one to the other fairly quickly. I think we had 4-5 repetitions of the first 3 in about 10 minutes and then progressed to advanced forms.

We did vary the technique a little, but for the most part we were moving quickly. The only break I got was when we made it through the black belt form and moved to the second one, which I know little of and aren’t interested in learning more right now.

The break didn’t last long. After shodan-II, we went back to the basics, but this time we added push-ups or squats, or both, between sets. So a kata, then right away 10 pushups. Then kata, then more push ups. Then kata then 30 squats. By the time we got near the end, with another small break for shodan-II again.

I was beat, exhausted at the end.

Pics from Pensacola and SQL Saturday #77

I realized that I never posted a few pictures from last year. I’ve booked another trip to Pensacola, this time for SQL Saturday #132. Kendall is coming along for the third time, and we’ll get a Daddy / Daughter weekend again at the beach.

Last year I got a nice shirt:


And Kendall did as well, getting the same shirt as the female speakers:


A good style for me, and we look good together.

Photo Jun 04, 6 31 48 PM

At the after party, Kendall posed on the firetruck outside Rosie O’Grady’s


We spent a day at the beach, a day at the fun park, and a day at the mall, killing time on our way out of town. The FunTown is a tradition, having gone twice with her. We did go karting, mini-golf, and then a little water war before swimming a bit.

Photo Jun 03, 4 37 39 PM

Photo Jun 03, 12 28 47 PM

At the mall Kendall tried the bungie thing. She was really nervous at first.

Photo Jun 06, 11 36 30 AM

Photo Jun 06, 11 37 20 AM

By the end, she was having a blast.

Photo Jun 06, 12 36 52 PM

A little video of her ride.

Looking forward to going back there with my little girl, who’s not so little.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yoga mat for sale. Used Once

Tia sent this to me and I had tears in my eyes as I read it and laughed.

Yoga mat for sale. Used once.

Hidden Gems

I opened the cupboard this morning to get stuff to make pancakes for Kendall. Here’s what I found:
Photo Apr 23, 7 37 17 AM
Being slightly nosy, I moved the paper
Photo Apr 23, 7 40 01 AM
The Oreos came home from Delaney’s camping trip this weekend, but I’m sure he didn’t do this. I suspect this is the work of our little girl, concerned that she might not get enough Oreos between Kyle’s and Tia’s preference for the sweet treats.

Tia thinks it was Delaney, but we'll see. I'll ask when he gets home.

First win

My first baseball game of the season, after a month layoff of not practicing due to travel and work. The second game of our season, after the first was a loss. It was a night game, 7:30, which I don't like. As a kid I always looked forward to night games in little league, but as an adult, especially one in his 40s, it's hard to see and I don't like it. It was really bad as we started playing as the sun was behind third when looking from first. I threw a few balls over there which were hard to see, and then got one thrown to me from the foul outfield and looked right in the sun.

I decided to sit out hitting at first since I hadn't seen a ball or a pitch in a month. Plus I've been too busy and not enough stretching, throwing and other stuff. I ended up platooning with a guy at third, which would have netted me only 4 innings of play, but I also did an inning at first, so I got 5 innings in the field. That was a slight mistake. During warmups between innings, the third baseman short hopped one to first. I reached out, and the ball hit a rock, bouncing at an angle, hitting the edge of my glove, and then getting me in the lip. A small cut inside, but it only bled for a minute, however it still hurts this morning, a nice fat lip.

Almost a second one as well. I batted in the 7th, first guy, first pitch from a hard throwing lefty with a nice curve. I was looking curve, and he threw a fastball that was up, in, and tailed in on me. I saw it late, leaned back, and when it came higher, I came backwards, letting the bat end fall as I lifted my arms. The ball ended up sliding past my cheek, went inside the crook of my elbow, and glanced off the bat. A close call for me.

What was surprising is that the umpire pointed for me to take a base. I told him it hadn't hit me. My team was saying take the base, but I insisted it hadn't hit me, and they had a good time joking I couldn't tell what happened. We were about to get started again when the shortstop came in and said the ball hit something. The umpire told him he called a hit batter, I said it hadn't hit me, so it was ball 1. I could understand the guy being upset, but I wasn't going to admit anything without him asking me directly. It ended being a non-issue as I saw 3 straight low, outside balls and walked. I ended up coming around on a single and a double to start a 6 run inning that put us in the lead.

We managed to hold on, going into the 9th up 7-5, giving up a run on a very hard hit fly that our left fielder reached up for, got in the glove and then dropped as he spun around. One run scored, and with men on 2nd and third, we got a bouncer to second, that short hopped to first, but the first baseman caught and we won quite dramatically.

A good game, glad to be back out there, but I need some swinging and throwing practice.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Better and Better

Volleyball today, Kendall back on the court. The team struggled to return some serves from a few very good serving opponents, but they did rally on some, and did a good job of returning all the hits that came back to them. Very few out of bounds, not too many mishits, and they won all three games.

A fun morning for me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Home, Sweet Home

Back home, showered after traveling all day. I left the hotel at 6:30GMT this morning, after an early run, and arrived in Denver around 5pm MST. Almost 19 hours of travel, and then a 15 minute wait while I tracked down the parking assistance number for the Denver airport and got a jump for my car.

All in all a smooth trip, that makes 3 in a row across the water, which is good since I go back again this year. Lots more travel coming, with Phoenix, San Diego, Pensacola, London, New York, Austin, San Fran, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, and Las Vegas still scheduled for the year.

Nice to be laying in bed, though a little work to do since I was on the move all day.

Back in the US

Kind of. An early flight to Toronto from London, and now sitting in the US section of the Toronto airport, having cleared customs and waiting on a plane.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book #25 - Executive Power

Continuing my way through the Mitch Rapp series, I re-read Executive Power again. This is a turning point for Mitch, where he is more mature, he's married to Anna at the White House and on his honeymoon. Unknown to him, however, there is a SEAL team in the Philippines that is set to rescue a family that was taken hostage. They're ambushed on the beach, and two men die.

When Rapp returns, he's furious. He finds out two government people warned the Phillippine government that the rescue was coming and one of the generals is being bribed by the terrorists. As usual, Rapp has a plan and he uses it to get his way. He flies over, has the General killed, but stumbles on the American hostages. Using the SEAL team there with Coleman, he's in on the rescue, getting shot in the process.

This is where we see Rapp becoming more of a maturing worker. He's older, and he promises Anna after a fight that he won't take part in any more operations. However he's not done. A Palestinian terrorist is no the loose, determined to bring about a Palestine state. He kills a few people in the Middle East and then assassinates a couple more on US soil. Fortunately with the help of his crack team, Rapp tracks him down, just in time to prevent the abandonment of Israel by the US. His hands get dirty one last time, taking down a Saudi prince that was funding the terrorism, since we can only expect so much change from him.

A good read, not quite as exciting as a few of the others, but still a great way to enjoy a little downtime while traveling.

English Cooking

A pub for dinner last night, which had me worried. There often isn't much to chose from that I like, but this wasn't bad. White onion soup, then a chicken and chorizo quesadilla, which wasn't anything like I expected, but not bad. Certainly not a Mexican based dish as I would expect in the US.

A number of beers, none of them great, but I did try a "mild", which was pretty goad. Toasted, almost coffee like.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Book #24 - Separation of Power

This is the continuation of the story started in The Third Option. At the end of that book, we knew that Hank Clark, the senator, was plotting to bring down the administration, the CIA and make his bid for the Presidency. He's got a new plan in Separation of Power, getting the angry House of Representative chair of the Intelligence committee to look into what Kennedy and Rapp are doing.

Kennedy is planning on leading the CIA. She attends Stansfield's funeral at the beginning and then is getting ready for her confirmation. Rapp heads to Italy, intent on asking Anna to marry him, but he first wants to confront the Israeli killer, Donatella. He does, but she's shot as Israel has decided she isn't useful anymore. When Anna finds Rapp with another girl, they fight and she leaves. Meanwhile Rapp has to bring Donatella back to the US, trying to determine who hired her to kill Cameron in the previous book.

The twists and turns of the book are similar to the other ones, where you aren't sure what is coming next, and how the various plot lines will come together. Will Kennedy get exposed as a CIA leader of killers? Will Rapp be exposed? Will Anna and Mitch get together? It's an evolving part of the relationships between the characters, with Hayes in the middle as the ploy to ruin is Presidency continues.

The book wraps up the mini-two book series at the end in a surprising way. It's a great read, one I enjoyed on a plane ride during my second read, but you really need to read The Third Option first.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chilly but quiet and peaceful

I tossed and turned after 2am, finally getting up to read a bit before trying to sleep again. I gave up at 5am, and watched a little TV before heading out for a run along the river in Cambridge. I was thinking I'd hit the health club since it was chilly, but they didn't open until 7, so I just ran outside.

Cold, and I wished I had gloves, but I did have a headband and I enjoyed my run along the river, rather quiet and peaceful. A little jealous of the couple of scullers and the 8 that were getting ready to row, wishing I could get out there again.

Still a nice run along the water before I start my meetings today.

Book #23 - The Third Option

The continuation of the Mitch Rapp series after Transfer of Power, The Third Option looks at a Mitch that is becoming involved with Anna and wants to get out of the assassination business. He plans to finish up one last job, but before he can quit, he has to figure out what happened to him in Germany. He's on a job with two other agents, who double cross them. One of them shoots him after the job, leaving him to be found an embarrass the CIA.

Mitch escapes, and disappears, making his own way back to the US. Anna is worried, but he can't contact her, instead he stays away from everyone. Meanwhile there's an uproar in the administration from the assassination of a German count along with a fire (set by Mitch) that upsets the Secretary of State, someone that is working with a senator and congressman to reign in the CIA.

We also have a third group, the man that hired the two other agents to kill Rapp, and who kill stem when they get back home to Colorado. Coleman witnesses it, and is confused, along with Stansfield and Kennedy. The book goes back and forth among the conspirators, the other killer, and Rapp.

It's a good book, lots of action, weaving story lines that we know are converging, but we're not sure how. It's an exciting finish, and one that's sad as well, with Stansfield about to die. Worth reading, but reading both Term Limits and Transfer of Power will help you understand.


Back for annual department meetings with my company in Cambridge, UK. I flew overnight from Denver to London, with delays everywhere. I managed a first class upgrade to Dulles from Denver, which was nice, with a few glasses of wine and because we were delayed leaving Denver. I was out of the plane, with 5 other people that hurried down the concourse in DC, getting there as the plane was boarding.

Apparently United couldn't figure out how to assign seats, since I was in Economy Plus, but they gave my seat away as I scanned (the guy in front of me from Denver got it) and then I got a bulkhead, but further back. That wasn't too bad, but we left the gate 30min late, then spent 20 min getting back to the gate after we got to the runway and found the bathrooms weren't working. Glad that caught that.

We ended up leaving about 90 min late, getting me into London after noon. Not a bad flight, I got some sleep, and felt OK after the drive up to Cambridge. First order of business was a run so I could relax for the day, but the weather didn't cooperate. Sunny on the drive up, raining after I checked in and changed.

Fortunately there's a health club next to the hotel, so a treadmill run, a little weight lifting and now I'm ready for some food.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I was hoping for a long run this morning before heading to London, but it’s not to be. Tia took the Suburban to go for a 12 mi walk and it died, likely a fuel pump. Since I have to get Kendall to Girl Scouts, I decided on a short run first, then try to get the truck towed, then off to the airport and London bound.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mighty Mule Gate Opener - One Beep and It Won’t Close

We have a Mighty Mule 502 gate opener for the front gate. It’s been up there 4 or 5 years, and it’s worked well. We rarely use it, but there are times my wife has the horses in the front pasture, and we just want to keep them from wandering away.

Photo Apr 13, 2 52 43 PM

Yesterday I went out there and pressed the button to close the gate so the horses could be in front. I got one beep and nothing happened. I tried all the remotes and the hard wired button, but none of them worked.


I disconnected the arms, closed the gate with a bungie cord and went on my day. Today I checked the GTO website and the troubleshooter mentioned power as being a problem when you get one beep. So I drove up there, disconnected both batteries and brought them home. One was clearly the original older one, and had corrosion on the terminal. I cleaned that off, connected it to the charger and got nothing.

The newer battery showed a tiny charge, so I hooked it up and planned to get another battery today. I did, and when I hooked it up, things started working right away. Good to know one beep is power.

However they didn’t completely work. The gates closed like this:

Photo Apr 13, 2 53 10 PM

Not exactly secure enough for our horses, some of whom would be nosy enough to slip out.

So I went home, downloaded a manual, and printer out the programming pages. I went back up and had an issue. The instructions and diagrams didn’t match my gate. I double checked the model number, 502, and looked again. No luck.

I called the company and got a tech support guy who gave me some instructions. We were working through the setting, when we got cut off. Right after he told me to turn off auto close the wrong way, using instructions from the newer models.

Double Grrrrr.

I had to get kids, so I picked up Kendall and then started searching the site. I found the old, discontinued model here:

Using those instructions, I re-programmed the limits, after turning off the auto-close (dip switch 3), and things started working.

Once again, the gate works, at a fairly low cost in $$, but a good cost in time.

I Don’t Understand

I like the Lincoln quote about how not to treat people.

"You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling down the wage payer.You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves." - Abe Lincoln

I want to see people helped in a way that allows them to help themselves, and I think it is important for people to both succeed and fail largely on their own. If they succeed, let them reap (most of) the benefits of success. If they fail, let them grow from it, and if they fail badly, give a safety net.

This is something I don’t understand about Romney and the GOP. Why do they insist on working on taxes in a way that doesn’t really benefit most Americans? This quick look at the Dem and GOP tax plans isn’t detailed enough, and it’s somewhat gross, but it is telling in that Obama’s plan, which seems to have Democrat support, would raise taxes in many cases, including on the President. However the GOP plan gives breaks to rich people, but then increases taxes on lower incomes.

I think this Lincoln quote is being taken a little out of context when it’s posted on conservative sites. I don’t think Lincoln intended the flip side of this quote, that being that you strengthen the strong by giving them more breaks, or that you should push the wage payer higher by policy.

I also think that the media, and campaigns, are taking too simplistic a view of this. I know it’s a campaign strategy, and neither one wants to confuse voters and lose the election, but it’s a problem that so many people fall quickly to one side or the other because of the way these positions are stated.

We are in a tough spot, and we have spent a lot of money. We are deep in debt, and while I don’t think the world will end because of it, I would like to see the country move to a more fiscally responsible place. That means that we need to watch out spending, lower it, and also raise some taxes. In my mind, we need to opposite of the Bush tax cuts, and we need a limited time frame of raising some taxes on people. And that would mean raising them some on the rich, for a period of time. Arguably, compared to many countries, the wealthy in the US (people making over $250k) are less taxed than they should be since they receive a lot of benefits from the way this country lets them succeed.

However there’s a flip side, one that the Democrats fail to acknowledge. I don’t think most people would object to more taxes if they money were well spent. If it were used to pay down debt, and used to fund programs that are fiscally responsible and not wasting much of their money. How we do that, I don’t know, but the Democrats need to acknowledge that many of our programs are spending too much money, returning too little benefit, and in some cases, encouraging way too much entitlement.

Volleyball is fun

Last night was another adult volleyball game. We lost again, almost as bad as the first week. We scored about 21 points in three games, and Delaney was having a good time laughing at us, as was I. We didn’t play great, missing lots of serve return opportunities, and while it’s annoying to have someone serve 10 times overhand when we can’t return it, I know we need to get better.

However it was fun. I had some good hits, joked with people, and a few mishits, but it was good to run around. I heard next week is our last game, which is disappointing, since I’ll be in the UK and miss it.

Hopefully we can get this team together again in the fall.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Quiet Night

Mostly quiet for us. There was a thunderstorm outside, with lots of wind, and Tia came home late, after midnight, from her two day trip to Boston, but inside it was quiet.

I was exhausted last night, struggled through work for the day, replaced some electrical ribbon on one fence before the weather turned, and then called it a day.

After cooking dinner and listening to Delaney practice his Battle of Stalingrad presentation, I lay down and read. Kendall watched some TV, came in to kiss me goodnight, and put herself to bed. Delaney wasn't far behind, and soon after that I was trying to sleep.

Nice to have a night off, nothing going on.

Book #22 - Act of Treason

Another re-read for me. After digging through Consent to Kill, I moved on to Act of Treason for more excitement and escape from the world.

This is the next book, starting with the new Presidential election. The other party is struggling, and we find an annoyed Maria Rivera is in charge of their Secret Service protection. The candidates get in a limo, the wife of one in the next limo and there's an explosion. The wife is killed, and Josh Alexander is catapulted into the White House on the sympathy with Mark Ross (from the previous book) as the VP. Kennedy is sure her days are numbered and Ross is sure he is going to be the one to fire her.

It's days before inauguration and Hayes has a surprise for the new President. Kennedy and Rapp have been working behind the scenes and trace the assassin to Cyprus, where he's apprehended by Mitch. Not easily, as Rapp shoots the guy (a former Bosnian sniper) in both knees and both hands. When he's brought back to the US, he's turned over to the FBI by a junior agent, Rapp having disappeared on the way.

The book is similar to the early ones, politicians angling to get Rapp in trouble, and Rapp holding all the cards. He maneuvers throughout the book, working to prove his case as the new administration is sure they'll be able to get rid of Rapp.

A fairly exciting conclusion to this mini-drama. A fun read, but make sure you read the one before this first, if not all the Rapp books.


Tuesday night Delaney had a scout meeting, one we've been looking forward to for a month. We finally managed to get his Scoutmaster conference scheduled, after two failed attempts for various reasons.

He passed it fine and a board of review was set for later in the evening. He went in, a little nervous, and then came out with his Star rank, presented to the troop as the latest Scout to advance.

He looks nervous here, just after the announcement, and when he came up, he was sweating. I can sympathize since it's hard for the boys to sit in front of three adults and answer questions, almost like a job interview. I do a number of boards, and most kids are pretty nervous.

Proud of him, and glad to see him moving forward. He now needs 6 months of Star service, and 6 months holding a position, which won't start until elections in August. We are aiming for him to have his Life rank next Feb/Mar and then it's on to Eagle.

In addition to the rank, he's earned the Chemistry merit badge, and is working on Cooking, Family Life, and Personal Fitness.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book #21 - Consent to Kill

After finishing Kill Shot, I was in a Mitch Rapp mood, so I went back this weekend while I had some spare time and re-read Consent to Kill. Still a good thriller and fun to read, even the second time.

This one continues from Memorial Day, with Mitch Rapp as a target. After killing a Saudi billionaire’s son, a contract is put out on Rapp. A former East German takes it and hires two young killers who have something to prove. Meanwhile Rapp is settling into life with his wife.

The book alternates between the life Rapp has as he goes to work, and the assassins who are plotting to kill him. When they miss and kill Anna instead, the second half of the book as Rapp pursuing them. A great read, a little sad, but also one of my favorites of this series.


Back to karate last night, with lots of kata work. Felt good to be moving a bit and I worked up a nice sweat. Tired today, however and looking forward to tonight already, not a good way to start the day.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Using Leverage

I had to move a grounding rod this weekend from one gate to another. Tia’s new building blocked a lot of sun from the fence charger we have for the track and I was a bit worried about it. I’ve been planning to move it, but weather was not cooperating. It wasn’t great on Saturday, a little windy, but I needed to do it, so I went out there.

I started digging with the spade, thinking if I went down a foot or so I’d be able to pull it out. It’s a straight copper rod, about 4 ft long. I’d cut an 8ft one in half, using one part for each track. I dug and dug, getting down a foot, but it wouldn’t budge.

I also hit some clay, so I grabbed the post hold digger and worked the hole deeper. It was hard work, and I poured some water in, letting it sit for a bit between digging down.

Digging is hard work, so I took a little break, walking out to the other fence, fixing a couple of the electrical strings. I spliced in new part, and re-buried part of the cable under one gate. It felt like a productive day, even though I was working slowly.

I got back to the grounding rod a few times, getting the hole down to 2-2.5ft, but the rod wouldn’t budget. I didn’t think it could be much deeper, but my little strains didn’t move anything. Sat night a friend said I should use the tractor and a chain, so Sun am I went out and tried that. I put a chain wrapped around it and wrapped the other end around the forks. Just a slight tap on the controls tilted the forks up and pulled the rod right out.

A minor facepalm for not trying that Sat, but I walked it over to the other gate post, pounded it in the ground and then moved the charger over.

One part of the fencing I needed to do done. More to do, and I’ll try to fix a couple more things before I leave for the UK Saturday.

Almost Done

Tia has two trips this week, Boston and Phoenix. She left today for Boston, coming home Wed and then a day trip to Phoenix Fri. Kind of crazy on her last few weeks of work, but she agreed to go, and she’s a professional, so we’re chugging along to get through things.

I will certainly be glad when she’s done traveling, though I’ll probably have a few more trips this year to deal with myself.

Countries I've Visited

A little prompt from Plinky, asking me what where I've been in my life.

  • United States

  • Mexico

  • Canada

  • St Maarten

  • Bahamas

  • England

  • Ireland

  • Scotland

  • France

  • Switzerland

  • Italy

  • Spain

  • The Netherlands

  • Germany

  • Pakistan

Disappointing Tea Party

When I first heard about the Tea Party, people fed up with large government and looking for reforms and lower taxes, I was interested. It sounded like something I’d be for, but over the last few years it seems it’s evolved into a complaint-driven group with highly conservative agendas that looks more to prevent anything than driven towards an agenda.

Apparently I’m not the only one as this Washington Post blog notes. The Tea party really doesn’t know what they want or how to get there, looking only to disrupt things and stand by their agenda. I admire people that stand up for what they believe, but government requires compromise, something few people get.

Making that compromise is a hard thing to do and it’s very difficult to balance your principles with the pragmatism of working with others. I’m hoping that the Tea Party can actually build some principles that are positive, looking to achieve specific goals, rather than just being negative about the way things are right now.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Chef Junior

Today Delaney had the second part of his cooking merit badge, heading over to the counselor's house for the afternoon. I dropped him off, and when I came back, he had a rack of ribs he'd smoked, a hunk of brisket that they cooked, and told me they made homemade pizzas.

Nice to see him a little excited about cooking, and now he has to make 9 meals for the family over the next month or so to finish the badge. Looking forward to seeing what he makes.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Clean Sweep

Last night was volleyball night. Kendall had a good practice, not great, but not too bad. The girls don’t have a game this weekend with Easter coming, so this was just a regular practice. Hopefully next week will be better.

After coming home and getting kids fed, I headed back out. Tia was tired, after getting up at 5am Wed, flying to Phoenix, then flying home and getting back after 1am Thur. I didn’t bother waking her and just let her sleep, heading out to volleyball myself.

The team played better. We started with 6 or 7 serves to get an early lead, mostly because of mistakes by the other team, but we had a few good returns as well. I managed a few good saves, decent serves, and relatively few mistakes. Despite having 5 men, and sitting out a few long stretches, it was a fun time. We won all three games, the second one 22-20 being the only close one.

For once we didn’t finish that early and managed to just play 6-7 scrimmage points afterwards before we were kicked off the court.

I called the in/out lines for the next game, and chatted with one of the players. He said that his team, which looked really good, had been playing together for 3 years, and they were really bad when they started, but they kept getting better and really enjoy it. Hopefully my team can do that as well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sad Panda

I’ve been a bit disturbed the last few weeks as I flip through the news. It makes me want to crawl back into a hole and ignore the modern world, focusing on technology for work and fiction for fun. After the amazing run of news in the Zimmerman/Martin tragedy, with no shortage of hate filled comments to articles, themselves often shoddily written to garner attention, these are a few articles I see in the headlines today.

Anti-Evolution ‘Monkey Bill’ Poised To Become Law In Tennessee - Personally I think that creationism isn’t worth teaching in school. If you believe it, fine, I certainly can’t prove you wrong, but it’s a secular belief, not science. If you’d like your kids to know about it, teach it in a secular setting, not a public education place. For what it’s worth, the article obviously is looking to denigrate those that believe in creationism. There’s no reason to slant like that.


Author Revives 'Birther' Theory in Morristown

Seriously? I’m always surprised that people believe this, including my diesel mechanic and a few other people. I look at it this way. Even if Obama isn’t a citizen, the GOP has had four years (the last election cycle to now) to prove this and they have gotten nowhere. So maybe they’re the incompetent ones.

If you really believe this, then ask yourself this. Wouldn’t someone have come forward? Wouldn’t someone in the Hawaiian government who is a conservative dug up evidence? Do you really think that this could remain a secret?

Tea Party Introduces ‘Wacky’ And ‘Ludicrous’ Conspiracy Bill To Shut Down Arizona Energy Efficiency Programs

How do we elect people that are so friggin whacko? Are we that shallow that we listen to a few sound bites or or vote along party lines because we think electing someone from the red (if you’re blue) or someone blue (if you’re red) will destroy the country? Even if you agree with them? I’d like to think this is a joke and this State Senator doesn’t really believe the UN is plotting to make this entire world one country, or that it could. I guess if she still doesn’t believe POTUS is a natural US citizen she might believe that.

Mine Union President Compares Fate Of Coal Industry To Osama Bin Laden’s Death

Perfect example of a union guy that should be terminated. Sensationalism and nonsense.

At least I saw one well written piece:

Just the Facts on North Carolina's Marriage Amendment

Caramel Apple Muffins

61S8Q9YMTDL._SL500_AA300_Kendall has a little recipe book and lately has been pointing out a few things for me. She’d asked for Caramel Apple Muffins a few weeks ago and I made them, and since everyone liked them, I decided to grab them again.

The book is the New Junior Cookbook, and I’m not sure I can repeat the recipe here, but I’ll give you a few hints.

There’s a streusel mix of brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon, held together with butter. I put that together for a crumbly topping that will go on before they go in the oven.

Photo Apr 04, 4 06 59 PM

Obviously you need an apple, and I chopped one up. Flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder get mixed together dry, as you can see here:

Photo Apr 04, 4 06 53 PM

Then you make an ugly, disgusting mixture of an egg, milk, cooking oil and apple butter. It looks fairly gross, I have to say. Mixing it is not appetizing at all.

Photo Apr 04, 4 20 51 PM

From there it’s simple, mix the dry and wet together, getting a batter. Add in the apple, and then you’re ready to drop things into muffin cups.

Photo Apr 04, 4 25 47 PM

Add the streusel topping and drop in the oven for 20 minutes.

Photo Apr 04, 4 35 06 PM

Things come out looking pretty good. I had some caramel topping for ice cream, and I drizzled a ltitle on top of the muffins. Last time I made them, they didn’t last the evening. We’ll see about tonight.

Photo Apr 04, 4 56 34 PM

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book #20 - Kill Shot

51dTK9iMQUL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_I have loved the Mitch Rapp series for years, and even have my son reading it. I got American Assassin in a bargain bin and enjoyed it, and with some gift certificates, I got Kill Shot as well. Both of these books are the beginning of Rapp’s career.

This one continues on from the first book, with Rapp being operational for 6 months, with lots of success. There is still some concern from Kennedy, the young Stansfield, and Hurley. The story is similar to many of the other books, betrayal and ambition inside the US government, an operation gone wrong, and the lack of trust.

Rapp is set up on an assassination. He barely escapes, getting shot in the process. He kills a number of his would-be killers, but one gets away, kills a few civilians, and since it’s in Paris, the French are upset. No one knows what happens, and as the French investigate, the CIA worries. Hurley is sure Rapp went crazy, Kennedy doesn’t want to believe it and Stansfield isn’t sure what to do.

The book spends it’s time moving between the bad guys, Rapp, and the CIA groups. It’s well written, building suspense, switching characters, and making you want to hurry to get back to your favorite storyline. It builds to a rapid convergence of characters at the end with plenty of action. Looking forward to the next one already.

Book #19 - Gideon’s Sword

51M8 lTfxbL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA115_I have loved the Douglas Preston/Lincolk Child series on Pendergast, starting with the Relic years ago. I looked forward to many of their new books and pre-ordered the last few in advance of the release. When I saw Gideon’s Sword, I was tempted, but decided to wait since it was a new character, and there was no discount for the e-book. Recently I had a gift certificate and decided to grab this paperback at a reasonable price.

The book is interesting, with a young child witnessing the killing of his father, an NSA employee that took a hostage over a dispute. We jump forward to him as a young man, one that has grown up, become successful, with the hint of some criminal activity, but overall a successful man working as a researcher as Los Alamos. He hasn’t forgotten, however, that his father was set up and continues to search for evidence.

He finds it, and then uses it to set up and kill the man responsible for his father’s death. However that’s just the beginning of the book. We have EES, with Eli Glinn back, hiring Gideon Crew, the young man, to try and recover some technology from a Chinese defector. As with some of Eli’s other schemes, this sounds crazy, but it works. Gideon is on a wild ride through New York and then into China as he tries to determine what the technology is, even though everyone suspects a weapon.

It’s an action packed book, one I really enjoyed and highly recommend. I’m looking forward to the next one.

Book #18 - The Jackpot

51RKRn4ixPL._AA115_The Jackpot was selling well, and it was interesting after I grabbed the sample, so I picked up a copy and ripped through it while on vacation. It starts out exciting, with a man in the projects winning the $415mm lottery. He cleans buildings, including a lawyer’s office, and when he realizes he wins, he must escape his friends from the ghetto complex who suspect he won something, but aren’t sure what. He does, and is unsure of what to do.

We cut to a Lebanese female lawyer, having worked extremely hard for 8 years for a prestigious Richmond law firm, is not promoted to partner. She’s upset, and eventually realizes that her brother, who blew up a bus a year earlier, was one of the reasons.

She’s upset, working late, when Julius, the winner of the lottery, walks into her office and asks for help. She gets him started, then takes him to a partner as she’s not sure what to do with her career and is sure she’ll be fired or quit soon.

The book takes a twist then. We have a killer, hired by an unknown party, to find the ticket and return it. Meanwhile the partner conspires to get the ticket away from Julius and cash it in himself. The action picks up as the female lawyer, Samantha, gets a call that makes her suspect what will happen. She arrives in time to find Julius killed by the partner’s brother in law, who is killed by the partner. Samantha gets the ticket, intending to find Julius’ son and give it to him.

We have a wild ride, as the killer tracks the ticket and leaves a trail of bodies around the town on a snowy Christmas weekend. Samantha and her friend stay one step ahead of the killer, even finding the son of the winner, only to lose him. The end of the book is quite a twist, one I never expected, and wraps the story of nicely. A fun read for me on a weekend.

Tennis Kid

Delaney has Monday night tennis lessons. I’ve been dropping him off, going to karate, and then coming back to pick him up. Last night my neck was still sore, so I dropped him off, went to get some groceries, and then came back.

Photo Apr 02, 8 16 28 PM

There were only two kids last night (usually 5) and they were on the close court. So I could get pictures and watch. The kids were throwing each other balls and practicing hits. I saw Delaney throwing first when I arrived, tossing forehands to the other girl in the class.

Photo Apr 02, 8 17 49 PM

Next I saw Delaney working the backhand. The coach demonstrated, and then they practiced together a few swings.

Photo Apr 02, 8 17 19 PM

Finally Delaney was then swinging, and hitting the ball. Some miss hits, but across the two times he was up there, he got better and better.

Photo Apr 02, 8 17 56 PM

He’s enjoying it and getting better. At least it looks like it. We need to get out there on a real court sometime and see how he does.


It was 85F Sunday, with everyone hot and walking in shorts and t-shirts outside. Yesterday was slightly chilly, and I had a sweatshirt on, but drove to town in shorts. This is today:

Photo Apr 03, 8 24 59 AM

School was delayed an hours, which the kids liked, but they were disappointed it wasn’t cancelled. I was certainly grateful for the chance to sleep in a bit more.

Spring snows are a fact of life. We had one in May last year, the first snow day of the year. We’re hoping to get a few more this year since it’s been so dry. With any luck this will be just the first of a few to help moisten the ground and give us the water we constantly need.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Book #17 - The Shop

51Uo-Bdi1zL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Highly rated, and on sale from Amazon one day, I grabbed The Shop, a thriller. It starts out exciting, with a number of celebrities killed at an Aspen home. A writer survives, and we’re left wondering what happened. It seems there must be some wild reason while a former Navy SEAL led a team in there.

The book jumps to the death of a police chief in Florida, and the investigation by a female detective of a neighboring district. She’s confident, but not well liked and is trying to work through the strange incident, while also dealing with her fear of water.

What do these stories have to do with each other. They wind through the book, jumping from one to the other until they finally come together at the final battle of the book, on an island in Florida. It’s a thriller, full of conspiracy and action, but the writing wasn’t great to me. It somehow lacked the excitement of a Clancy, Child, or Ludlum thriller. The characters are a little shallow and the story doesn’t unfold smoothly.

It was OK, but not one I’d recommend.

Book #16 - MockingKay

mockingjayThe final book of the Hunger Games, Mockingjay was good, but also sad. The book deals with the aftermath of the Quarter Quill, which ended early as Katniss was whisked away to District 13.

The book is hard to read, at least to me. The writing it still good, and Katniss’ character continues to develop, but the entire world is now at war. District 13 is openly battling the Capital after District 12 was bombed and destroyed. Hundreds made it out safely, thanks to Gale.

Katniss must become the symbol of rebellion, or the Mockingjay, to the world. She does so, reluctantly, but does work to drive the rebellion forward since she feels Snow is oppressing people. She engages in battles, and even a final drive to take the fight to the capital.

This is definitely a story of war. Not the excitement of rebellion, with the quick emotion of rage, but the drawn out sadness of loss as people die. Intertwined with this is the decisions Katniss must make about her love life, between Peeta and Gale.

It ends the trilogy well, and we get closure in Katniss’ life, but this is a sad book.

Back Home

Tia and I had a great weekend getaway in the mountains this weekend. We hired Kyle to watch the little kids, and left Friday night, heading to Copper mountain for one of our two times to spend time alone for the year. Not sure where we’ll go in the fall, but it was nice to get away. Our plan was to ski the weekend and come back Sun night.

We slept in a bit Saturday, after a quiet night in the condo Friday, both of us tired from the week. Our neighbors, with thin walls between us, were annoying. Coughing at night and a 6am alarm. We grabbed our stuff and walked over to the center village, getting a little coffee to start the day.

Photo Mar 31, 10 40 11 AM

We skiied a bit, going down some blues and smooth blacks. Nice to be without the kids, but the snow was a bit slushy. Not too bad, but not that great. Tia was more careful, not wanting to fall and get hurt with her walk training on the afternoon schedule. She took a break once, while I raced down a solo run, and then we knocked off after about 6 or 7 runs.

After a nice lunch, with margaritas on tap (yum), we took a break in the condo for an hour before driving over to Lake Dillon. The training schedule said an 8mi walk was needed, and I decided to go with her. We started walking the trail around the lake, then jogging for a mile. Tia stopped after a half mile and I kept going, stopping after about a mile and a quarter. A few minutes later, she jogged up as I was stretching.

Photo Mar 31, 5 14 01 PM

We continued walking, moving around the lake to Dillon (we’d started in Frisco) and turned around at the marina. A long walk, made slightly more annoying since the bathrooms were still locked for the winter (it was 70F Saturday), but it wasn’t too bad. A little blister on the bottom of one foot for me since I’m not used to 2 hours of steady exercise. Most of my days are bursts skiing, or an hour of karate or running.

Photo Mar 31, 5 14 14 PM

We made it back, going out for a nice dinner in Center Village, with more margaritas, and then watched The Chaos Theory in bed on Netflix. Sad movie, but a great day.

Sunday had my neck sore, a pinched nerve, so no skiing. However it was really warm when we checked out at 10:30. Funny to be walking around in shorts and a t-shirt, while the lifts turned behind me and people skiied,

Photo Apr 01, 10 42 23 AM

We drove down through Fairplay, wandering around and looking at a few pieces of land for sale. We didn’t find anything, and aren’t sure what we really want, probably less so after looking around.

We got home early, about 5, and Tia rode horses with Kendall while I rested a bit, trying to heal the neck.

Great weekend, and lucky that we had the chance to get away.