Not a bad haul from the Wainui bookfair this year. Non-fiction on the right.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Not a bad haul from the Wainui bookfair this year. Non-fiction on the right.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Right then I have made some tweaks, probably the most noticable of which is the addition to the title board. From this point on (at least when I remember ), each update will be accompanied by a new line of quote in the title board. I just got bored of seeing the same words up there all the time. The quotes will essentially be from random sources, some funny, some wise, some arcane, some wierd, some morbid, some incomprehensible.
Also added are a number of new and not so new bloglings, and a number of older non-functional links have been removed.
And now a request.
Calling all readers!
In the fine tradition of (i.e. completely ripping off) Morgues birthday quotes, I have a request of you. This blog needs a soundtrack.
So what I ask of you dear regular readers, is to think of a song that is best associated with reading this blog (I don't think I said anywhere that this would be an easy request. Maybe I should state it as a challenge....), and relate your choice to me via the magic of comments.
Go forth and ponder.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Flew a kite
And went to the zoo. One of the Giraffes was my favourite.
And it seemed as interested in me for a while as I was in it. Very cool.
More photos of both activities to come later, but for now its almost bedtime.
In other news:
Job applications continue. 5 in so far, one turn down, one no response, one screening call (good start), nothing from the others yet. The hunt continues, and I want to be replaced in six weeks or so. Appying for things that look interesting, and not necessarily what I have been doing for the last few years. I am definitely ready to do something different.
This blog turns two tomorrow (which will be today when most of you read this). Expect some minor tweaks, possibly a new feature, and a request.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Back to posting about planes again.
A significant aviation milestone occurred about a month ago, on April 22. A legend passed into history.
After more than 25 years in service, the last Stealth Fighters were retired. (Link to story here. Couldn't find the Dompost one, but the LA times one is from the same source).
Often regarded as the epitome of sexy high tech, especially in the 90's, the stealth fighter is now yesterdays technology. The stealth is state of the art; for the late 1970's when it was designed. The proof of concept vehicle was test flown in 1977, and the first Nighthawk (its actual name) in 1981.
All of this was done in the utmost secrecy. By the time Italeri made this model kit of a Stealth jet in 1986, the real thing had been operational and ready to go to war for more than two years. It would be another two years before any photograph of the F-117 would be made public, and three before it would be allowed to fly in daylight. Throughout most of its history, anyone making their first flight in a Nighthawk did so at night, and on their own, as no two seaters were ever built.
In addition to releasing a kit of the US stealth, Italeri also produced a model of a highly speculative (and completely fictional) Soviet Stealth aircraft. As far as I know, the Soviets never built anything like this, although ironically, conceptually it is closer to the real thing than the US model.
The real thing employed complex faceting to deflect radar beams, rather than curves to attenuate them. Plus radar absorbing paint, radar absorbing skin, and a host of other things.
In the mid eighties, stealth was the buzzword for plane enthusiasts. People knew about it, but its real world applications were years away from being made public.
While the Italeri model may have been conceptually misguided, it prompted a lot of security questions from politicians when it was released, as no-one not in the know knew that at the time. There has been speculation that one of the competing designs for the Nighthawk from another manufacturer that was never built may have looked like that though.
If the Cold War had ever turned hot, the Nighthawks would have been in the first wave, hitting high value and well defended targets with laser guided bombs, or nuclear weapons if things had gone that far. Contrary to its tag, the aircraft was never a fighter. Fighter is generally used to describe an aircraft able to fight other aircraft. The Nighthawk was never capable of that. Slow and relatively unmaneuverable, it would be dead meat for anything able to find it, hence it only operated at night. It carried no defensive weapons at all. It was not able to fly supersonically. Not being able to carry any extra fuel tanks externally limited its range. The need to carry all weapons internally limited the usual bomb load to two large laser guided bombs, meaning that in strict speed, range and weapons load terms, it was equivalent to something from the 1940's or 50's. The need to make it practically invisible to radar, and radically reduce the heat signature forced performance compromises. The difference though, was that while the performance may have lacking, it could go anywhere it needed to with virtual impunity, and put a couple of precisely aimed weapons on its target when it got there. 100 were wanted, but only 59 were built.
And it worked. When you are invisible you can get away with a lot. Although most famous for its role in the first Gulf War, where it was the only aircraft allowed to operate over highly defended Baghdad, it actually flew its first live mission during the invasion of Panama in 1989, putting a couple of bombs into a field beside a barracks to create confusion and panic. Only one was ever shot down, over Serbia in 1999. Speculation over just how is rife, but the main theory is that the mission planners had gotten a little relaxed, and sent the jets night after night along the same route and the same time. The canny Serbs got wise to this, and hit one with an optically guided missile (no-one has figured out how to make things disappear at visual wavelengths yet, although it is being worked on I'm sure). Also speculation is that the 'accidental' bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade occurred because the wreckage was being stored in its compound.
The Nighthawk is one of the aircraft that gave Area 51 its reputation; all of the test flying was done there. And the thing I'm curious about is, if this is the sort of thing the black world could come up with thirty years ago, what have they got cooking now?
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Finally clapped my eyes on my magazine article, two months after it was published in the UK. The article subject is at the top of the photos if you're wondering.
5 pages of glory.
Hard to describe how this feels, but wierd elation comes close. After having read magazines like this for several years its a very strange sensation seeing my work and words in the same expansive glossy context. Even though I wrote it, I have still read through it several times. And haven't yet cringed. And my photos look good.
Strange but kinda cool.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
We're looking after Ryan-dog (his name is Ryan, but I call him Ryan-dog. I like the cadence it has to it) for another while while his regular keeper is down south.
There is an unexplained field near our place, unexplained in that we have yet to figure out why it is there. It has no apparent purpose. It is however large, away from houses and enclosed by gorse, and thus reasonably dog friendly. We discovered it when we were looking after Ryan during the summer.
Its the only place we are comfortable to let him off the leash.........
Its kinda cool to watch something run for no other reason than it likes to and it can.
And there are lots of things for a curious dog to explore
Drainage in this field isn't so good though, and it is quite marshy. Which meant that by the time we left Ryan was quite marshy also.
He took the required bath quite well.....
In other news I have dreamt about trying to find a stolen bike for the last three nights in a row now. Even though at times I am riding the stolen bike while trying to track it down. The bike in question is my old giant. Maybe it is resenting finally being replaced....
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
I had this dream that the Dalai Lama was a guest on the Daily Show (where he proved to be a bit of a prankster). Anyway, he was on to promote a new movie about his life (I know, this was done already in Kundun).
The actor chosen to play the Dalai was Arnold Schwarzenegger.....
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Last night after work I drove into Wellington to pick up Fi from the airport.
From mid-afternoon the cloud had been thickening, and the day getting gloomier and darker. It was dark when I left, and while the air was still, the forecast was stormy.
It was at about Ngaraunga on the motorway when I noticed I could not see the airport or the Miramar peninsula, which are normally easily seen. Looking along, I could not make out Oriental Bay either.
A plane passed over the motorway toward the airport, indicating the wind had already turned to the south. Not far over the harbour its lights too disappeared.
It was then I noticed the line on the water. About halfway across the harbour the black water stopped at a line, and above the line was a mass of dark grey, tinted amber by the city lights.
Nothing else was visible.
The line was the forward edge of the southerly storm front crossing the harbour.
There had been a few spits of rain on the motorway, but at Kaiwharawhara the spits became a spatter.
When I started to pass over the railyards I crossed the line, the spatter became a deluge, and I was engulfed by the storm.