Photos: Our resident Red Shouldered Hawk stopped to say hello

Posted By on January 27, 2015

HawkIMG_6677smOur mouse and rodent catcher made an appearance on Monday afternoon just after the snow had finished up for the day. The bright afternoon sunshine came out and must have brought out both the hunter and his prey? Normally our previous Hawks will sit back on the fence or spend time circling looking for varmints. This guy came close enough for me to pull out my DSLR and snap off a few “portraits” before he flew away.

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I never realized the Red Shouldered Hawks or his offspring nesting in our wooded area were banded. Hmm? (a couple more photos below)

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Will the toy quadcopter be used in the next wave of terrorism

Posted By on January 26, 2015

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It’s really not a laughing matter, but a drone flying around the White House is unfortunately a sign of the times. Technology has advanced to the point that a person who wants a quadcopter or UAV can probably buy/build and fly them … some more successfully than others, sorry Vice President Biden.

WASHINGTON –  A two-foot "quadcopter" drone crashed onto the White House grounds overnight, the Secret Service said Monday — though the White House says the device posed no threat.

Brian Leary, a Secret Service spokesman, said an officer posted on the south grounds of the White House complex "heard and observed a ‘quadcopter’ device, approximately two feet in diameter, flying at a very low altitude and ultimately crashing on the southeast side of the complex" shortly after 3 a.m. ET.

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Celebrating an 86th birthday with my dad over the weekend

Posted By on January 26, 2015

DadCatRon150124sWe celebrated my dad’s birthday this past weekend with pizza and conversation at my brother and sister-in-law’s in home. While it is difficult to see my dad getting older and more feeble, I’m still thankful he is able to enjoy time with his family. His spirit is good, although for the first time in my life am seeing him with a “less than positive” attitude about having a birthday. For years my dad joked about living to 140 … and while that is still a possibility … his optimism is no longer as strong as it once was. Aging issues aside, I do enjoy the twice a week visits (my goal) with him at his house, but recognize that he will not be able to stay “alone” much longer. The time is near where decisions will need to be made on what comes next. My brother Ron is semi-planning to have him come live in Tipp City (not too far from Sidney) … but it is going to be a big decision. Ron and I have initiated the process by convincing dad to visit for a couple of weekends using winter and convenience as an excuse … but writing is on the wall.

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Book: The Rape of NanKing–The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII

Posted By on January 25, 2015

I picked up a book, The Rape Of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust Of World War II, published in 1997 and written by the late Iris Chang. I decided to read it after a bit of Twitter sparring with CBJapan1 and his/her “allegation of lying” about rapeofnankingcoverthe book and movie Unbroken, as well as how America recorded the history of the Japanese brutality in China and treatment of U.S. soldiers. There is a small but noticeable number of political and mostly conservatives in Japan who continue to deny the atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers. They have been actively rewriting and purging history regarding the Empire of Japan’s warring with their enemies, treatment of POWs and in the Nanking Massacre, Chinese civilians in 1937. Most Americans who have studied the Pacific theatre of WWII know how brutally American POWs were treated and may not realize that there is an active group of Japanese deniers still excusing this today.

I was familiar with Chang’s NYTimes Bestseller in the late 1990s, but didn’t give much attention to events prior to America going to war with Japan. I’ve heard the stories and know about the AVG Flying Tigers and Japan’s war with China (history and aviation interest), but not so much about the extent of the atrocities Japan inflicted on the Chinese civilians … probably not something that is going to enhance my faith in humanity?

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Looking forward to Land Rover SUVs with diesel engines

Posted By on January 24, 2015

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The auto shows across North America are in full swing for the winter of 2015 and while keeping an eye to what is coming is always interesting, there are a few quiet stand outs that have peaked my interest.

The capable and respected (AND fairly expensive) Land Rovers have always been interesting, but in the United States, they are not diesels. Things are changing as two of their SUV models will have diesels in the fall of 2015 according to reports from the North American International Auto Show and they will be followed by the entire Land Rover line up in coming years. The new 2015 Land Rover Discover Sport CUV will be particularly interesting with a diesel and base pricing on the gasoline models are actually lower than expected (strong dollar and exchange rates, perhaps???)

Land Rover will offer consumers the option of fuel efficient diesel powertrains in two 2016 model year luxury SUVs, the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The Range Rover HSE Td6 and Range Rover Sport HSE Td6 SUVs will deliver 25 miles per gallon combined*, a 32 percent improvement over the supercharged V6 gasoline engine, and reach a high of 28 miles per gallon on the highway*.

LINK

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TechFriday: Clear your head by clearing the Mac desktop

Posted By on January 23, 2015

If you are an Apple Macintosh user and have been living with a cluttered desktop, give the free program Hocus Focus a try … if you like it, make a donation.

hocusfocusscreenThe purpose of the small program is to automatically hide unused but opened applications and windows so it is easier to focus on the task at hand. I regularly have a dozen or so windows and apps open on my 27” iMac and clutter is something I’ve learned to live with … until now. I liberally use the cmd-h and cmd-TABBER in order to rotate into the correct program, but having automatic timers for cleaning “certain” windows from the desktop is helpful.

For example, I run a virtual hocusfocusrunningWindows 7 PC desktop using Parallels to display a live screen of stock tickers and charts and often work on top of it with other applications. Sometimes its just the Apple Messages app or the calculator a program that doesn’t need to stay “on top”… but one I don’t mind keeping open. What is nice about Hocus Focus (its predecessor was Houdini) is that each profiles can be customized and apps given different time parameters for “hiding.”

My only only nit is that I run a full virtual window for all the PC based applications rather than the Coherence mode (not sure how Hocus Focus handles that?) and so everything in the Parallels window is either all hidden or ALL showing. This is probably more of “my problem from 30 years of using Macs” than a problem with the software. I assume each Coherence window could be managed separately and might have to give it a try … someday, but not now. Time will tell IF I opt to change my ways … but for now if you are using a cluttered Mac, give Hocus Focus a try.

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Memories: Deep Impact Mission inside Comet Tempel 1 #TBT

Posted By on January 22, 2015

kandfriendhelmetsMy wife has been busy cleaning out our closets and getting rid of “old stuff.” One the the items dates back in 2003 and brought back memories of my “space girl.” 

My daughter Katelyn was inspired by science and particularly by an adventurous NASA, space exploration and astronomy. In part, her interest could have been our sending her to Space Camp when she was young, but also like many sponge-brained youngsters, exploration and space is an excellent way to inspire … and is a great educational tool too. Besides pursuing the sciences at school, she also saved her own money to buy a high quality telescope. She spent many evenings (early morning too) blanketed up in the backyard looking up (the times I was will her are treasured as well). Brenda also found the homemade red-lens flashlight for reading and writing in order to protect her night vision while the dark. Another “old stuff” item deepimpactmission_kfc2003was the Deep Impact Mission certificate when NASA planned (2003) and succeeded a couple years later (July 4, 2005) to impact the Comet Tempel 1. (See Deep Impact PDF)

Besides Katelyn heading to Space Camp and having aspirations to be a NASA Flight Surgeon, she also spent a high school summer at the University of New Mexico in the NASA Sharp (Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program) working on Immunosensors … fortunately it was just before the program’s (and NASA’s) demise. We were fortunate to still have such educational internships available. I wonder just what will inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, doctors and explorers? We as a nation need to inspire and challenged our youth “for good” … I for one wouldn’t mind seeing some national pride and incentives that cause us to dream big.

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More of the same from President Obama after the SOTU

Posted By on January 21, 2015

After taking notes during the State of the Union address I went to bed disgusted rather than hopeful … even though I knew in advance the direction President Obama would be saying in his address. Call me sentimental or just hopeful, but I really thought that after the mid-term elections where, “make no mistake, his policies were on the ballot,” that we might see a sotu2015President Bill Clinton moment … and as much as I disliked President Clinton during his 8 years in the White House, when push came to shove, he did put the country before before politics; I’m not so sure about this administration putting the country first, as much as I want it to be.

I will give President Obama credit, he does carry himself with a confident swagger, something that is missing from his foreign policy. Of course it comes off as arrogant and self focused. Listening to his  “I” and “me” gets a little old, but is probably calculated by his advisors and speechwriters and is genuinely Barack Obama.

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As for those who know public speaking, they praise the delivery and the weaving of stories and real people throughout the delivery. It was good, but also added to the length – a total of 61 minutes. The president also avoided questionable current events such as the political coup taking place in Yemen even though the administration recently pointed to Yemen as a victory against terror. The pomp and circumstance of the congress was also within keeping with our tradition, as the applause interrupted the 649s word address some 76 times. The president used his wit to get in a couple cracks about campaigns and winning (Vine below).

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Bridge being dismantled collapses in Cincinnati blocking SB I-75

Posted By on January 20, 2015

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The Twitter updates last night kept me up late than usual as I contemplated how this would impact traffic on I-75. The heavy construction north of Cincinnati has been challenging the last year or so and having the old Hopple Street overpass pancake collapse on the southbound heavily traveled interstate highway is going to be a problem. Officials stated that I-75 would be shut down for at least 48 hours and travelers should make alternate plans. I’m sure they will reroute thru traffic, but that will still make for difficult commutes and travel.

A construction worker died and a tractor-trailer driver was injured as his truck smashed into the fallen bridge section. Thankfully police were already on the scene and able to stop traffic and prevent further accidents and injuries.

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Rebuilding a brake caliper on the W123 Mercedes Benz 300D

Posted By on January 20, 2015

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Once I priced a rebuilt brake caliper the 1982 Mercedes Benz 300D Turbodiesel, I knew I would be rebuilding the the caliper this past weekend, especially since the seal kit was only $9.00 on eBay. The project was pretty straight forward, but removing the old “baked” on seals was not as easy at one might have thought.

MBCaliper_150118_RemoveCaliper MBCaliper_150118_Tire

No doubt I’ve been living on borrowed time considering just how much brake fluid was leaking after looking at the tire and from the feel of my spongy soft brake pedal … although I justified that a quick pump of the pedal would get the clamping pressure up enough to stop the car. The only time I started to worry was when the “low fluid” light would pop on the dash lights … thankfully I had an extra bottle in the trunk.

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Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.