Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Southwest 1380...

Southwest 1380...  I'm sure you've heard the story by now – if not, just search for the flight number and you can read all about it (and try to stay more in touch with the world, would you?).  Here I'm posting the audio of the communications between the aircraft and the air traffic controllers as the pilots flew the damaged aircraft to the Philadelphia airport.  They made a safe landing there.  Several passengers were injured when the left engine disintegrated, one of them died later.

It is remarkable to me just how calm the pilots (especially the captain) are as they flew this damaged plane down.   Lots of people are making comparisons to the “Miracle on the Hudson” a few years ago, and I think they're fair.  BTW, the captain on this flight happens to be a woman, 56 years old, and a former Navy FA-18 pilot.  Her husband is also a captain at Southwest Airlines.  I'll close with an excerpt from this morning's Wall Street Journal piece (The Right Stuff at Southwest Airlines):
At the outset, the pilot calmly announces, “Southwest 1380 has an engine fire. Descending.”

A short time later she reports, “Actually no fire now, but we are single-engine.” At one point she informs controllers, “We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” Each report from the cockpit is delivered in the same even and reassuring tone.

“If you would, have them roll the trucks,” she asks politely, hoping for emergency vehicles on the runway given that her engine has exploded, passengers have been injured and perhaps killed, there’s a hole in the aircraft and shrapnel has been sprayed around the wing and fuselage.

Readers may be wondering, just as this column does, how one could not only maintain composure but even exhibit impeccable manners in such a situation. After landing the airplane, Ms. Shults says to the controllers, “Thanks, guys, for the help.”

Where do airlines find people like this? The U.S. military, of course.
The right stuff, indeed...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Apparently not all dogs like banana slices...

Apparently not all dogs like banana slices...  Idaho mogul-of-everything Doug S. wrote yesterday; first time I've heard from him in months.  Amongst a lot of catch-up stuff was this little gem:
I tried to get my dogs to enjoy bananas, but the slices just hit the floor as I get questionable looks as if they are saying what's this crap... ha ha
This led me to do some investigation on the Intertubes, and what I found was lots of dogs that love bananas, lots of dogs that hate bananas, some dogs that are actually afraid of bananas, and a few that are allergic to them.  It's clear that our five banana-loving dogs are not especially unusual, nor are Doug's dogs doing the WTF?  I'm not sure why, but I'm surprised at the variation.  Generally foods that appeal to dogs seem to appeal to all dogs.  For example, I've yet to run into a dog that doesn't love Milk Bones.

Anyway, I'm sad for Doug.  The banana-slice ritual is a big part of our mornings, every day.  I'm well-known at our local grocery for buying bananas (we go through 14 a week), and many of the clerks know I'm buying them for my dogs. :)

More weird weather...

More weird weather...  It's April, or so the calendar tells me.  Yesterday was beautiful, sunny, and warm: 70°F.  This morning when I got up at 1:30 am to let the dogs out, the back yard was covered with ... snow!  This morning that danged white stuff is still out there, about an inch and a half.  Thankfully it didn't stick to the driveway or our walkways; they were too warm.  But the grass and the trees are covered.  I'm going to ignore it, and hope that our 40°F high today is enough to melt it all...

Monday, April 16, 2018

Windy!

Windy!  We've got a fairly steady 25 mph wind, with gusts considerably faster – about 35 mph, I think.  My barn is shaking!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Since we've been back...

Since we've been back...  Yesterday morning we woke to something we didn't expect at all: snow.  The forecast had called for rain, but we got heavy, gloppy snow instead.  In the photos below (of our back yard) you can see just how hard it was snowing, as I capture quite a bit of it in the air.  You can also see that the “snowflakes” were actually more like little snowballs.  We got just over an inch of this stuff before it warmed up enough to actually rain.  By the end of the day yesterday it was nearly all gone – but we do still have a bit hanging around at the end of the day today...


We didn't do all that much yesterday; made a grocery run and picked up our mail.  In the mail I got the “reward” from one of the Kickstarter projects I backed: Wood Trick.  The actual reward is a (very complex, hundreds of parts) big rig model, but they sent along two much smaller models with it.  I built both of them yesterday afternoon; somehow it was the perfect thing to occupy me – very relaxing after our trip.  Photos of these two below.  The first one is a cute little animated frog – by moving a lever in the back of him, his four legs all wiggle and his eyes goggle.  It uses rubber bands as a return spring, and wooden gears to provide the animation.  The second two photos show an amazingly realistic jeep, made entirely from laser-cut pieces of plywood.  This entire model was cut out of a sheet of plywood roughly 8" by 12".  It's all assembled with friction-fit connections – no glue or fasteners are used in the model.  The wheels turn on axles that work quite well, despite being made of square pieces of wood!  Wood Trick is a Ukrainian company, trying to break into the world's biggest toy market: the U.S.  I hope they succeed, because their products are very cool indeed, and quite reasonably priced (the little frog kit, for example, is $4 at retail)...


Today the highlight was the Lily fashion show in our living room.  Little Lily, you might remember, is the little girl that Debbie bought some outfits for while on our trip.  Well, today Michelle (the grandmom), Lizzy (the mom), and Lilly all came over to try out Lilly's new outfits.  Afterwards we all went out for lunch at Jack's pizza.  A grand time was had by all.  Below are the photos I took during Lily's fashion show (which Lily appeared to thoroughly enjoy!).  You can see Michelle at left in the second photo.  I'm partial to that yellow dress myself; everyone else seemed to like the outfit in the second photo the best....

Hanging around Kalispell...

Hanging around Kalispell...  After we arrived in Whitefish (just north of Kalispell) and checked into our lodging on Monday night, we were exhausted.  Debbie had the brilliant idea (especially in hindsight) of eating at the hotel's restaurant instead of driving into town as had been our plan.  The restaurant got good reviews on Yelp, so we thought we'd be ok.  Well, we were ok and then some!  Our delightful waitress Natalie strongly recommended the grilled elk tenderloin, so we tried it – and man, were we glad we did!  That was hands-down the best elk dish we have ever had.  So on Tuesday morning, we went there for breakfast – and it was just as wonderful as the dinner.  I had a special, pulled-pork and eggs with a mild verde sauce; Debbie had the stuffed French toast.  Both were outstanding.

After breakfast, we visited Lazy K and Advanced Powder Coatings to take care of our actual business up there.  After that, we had some time to just hang around the Kalispell area.  The first thing we did was to visit the Hockaday Museum of Art, in a former Carnegie library (my photo at right), right downtown.  We'd read about an exhibit of bison engravings they had going on, which sounded interesting to both of us.  It was even more interesting than we'd expected.  Most of these engravings were woodblock prints, but there was one exquisite engraving that was perhaps the best example of a steel engraving print I've ever seen.  The detail was such that you'd need a magnifying glass to see it.  It's hard to even imagine the patience it took to make that engraving with nothing but a block of steel, scratch awls, and an idea.  The exhibit including engravings from every phase of European's encounters with bison, and the commentary that accompanied the exhibits ended up giving us a nice history lesson – much of which is quite sad.  It treated the American Indian's involvement quite objectively, which I was glad to see.  “White men” and American Indians both carried out the near-extinction of the bison, a fact which all too many history books ignore in their efforts to blame Europeans...

After our enjoyable visit to the museum, we headed up to Whitefish to search out a pottery store that we'd read good things about.  Here we were a bit disappointed.  There was some stuff there that we found attractive, but the majority of the pieces were of the imaginary category Debbie and I call “modern art”, which is really our catch-all term for art that we don't understand, don't find beautiful, and really don't understand why anyone does.  That store was full of it. :)  However, on our walk toward the pottery store, we happened by Sprouts, a store selling children's clothing.  Now you might well wonder why we might be interested in such a store.  It's all because of our friend Michelle H., whose daughter Lizzy is also a friend.  Well, six months ago Lizzy had her first child (and Michelle's first grandchild): Lily, a beautiful little red-headed girl.  Debbie was hoping to find a store with locally-made clothing for Lily, and at Sprouts she hit the jackpot.  We came home with a complete wardrobe for Lily!  :)

We were ready to pack it in for the day at that point, and we headed back to our hotel.  After a bit of discussion about where to eat dinner, we decided ... to eat at the hotel again.  It was so good!  This time Debbie had an all-appetizer meal, with a nice salad, a bowl of excellent parsnip and cauliflower soup, and luscious elk meatballs (below).   I had the soup as well, along with crispy roast duck.  I love roast duck, and have had it many times; this was among the best I've ever had.  I especially enjoyed the contrasting flavors of the Brussels sprouts and apple slices along with the rare duck.  Most delicious, that was!  We had no room for dessert, though we suspect it's just as wonderful as the rest of the food there...


Back in our room the lake fogged over in a light rain.  That made the beautiful scene at right, from the balcony of our room.  We left at 4:30 am on Wednesday, and drove back home without incident.  I did cut the battery management a bit close on the Missoula-to-Butte segment: we pulled into the Butte supercharger with a mere 6 miles estimated remaining in the battery.  That's the closest call I ever made on that!  I have no idea how accurate that gauge is, or whether there's any reserve built in (as there is on gasoline-powered cars), so I'm not entirely sure just how close I really cut it, but still...

We pulled into our driveway at about 6:30 pm, and both of us were very tired.  After greeting the animals, we were snoring in short order...

The actual purpose of our trip to Montana...

The actual purpose of our trip to Montana ... you may remember, was to pick up a bunch of metal work we had done for us by the folks at Lazy K Wrought Iron.  We arrived at Advanced Powder Coatings (they do the powder coating for everything Lazy K does, and our stuff was still there) on Tuesday morning, per plan, and got to see the work for the first time.  As usual, it was gorgeous!  But ... there was a huge pile of metal there.  Larry (APC's owner), a couple of his employees, Debbie, and I all looked at the pile and said to each other that there's no way in hell that whole thing would fit in our Tesla.  I made a mental note to talk with Abigail (at Lazy K) about either shipping the part we couldn't take, or maybe making another trip up here.  

But we were wrong.

It all fit.  I'm still astonished at this!  The photos below show the back of our Model X after we packed it all up.  Larry and I worked for nearly an hour to achieve this, and some of it was advanced puzzle fitting.  Also, there were parts that we could only get into place by angling them in a side door, rotating them (very carefully!), and then nestling them in place.  We used every packing blanket we brought.  About 50' of paracord plus a ratcheting cargo strap strategically placed, and the entire load behaved as if it was a single piece of steel.  In that pile are about 30 pieces of formed steel, some of them quite oddly shaped, all locked together as if they were pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  Kevin (at Lazy K) did not design that feature – that was Larry and I carefully packing.  Note how close to the ceiling of the car we got!


For the entire trip home, there was not a single rattle, and I never needed to retie the load down.  Larry and I did well. :)  We did have one minor casualty on the trip home, though.  Before we even got out of the Advanced Powder Coatings parking lot, we heard a couple of alarming “thunks!”m, quite loud.  It took me a while to figure out what they were, but I should have known right away.  The back floor of the cargo compartment is a false bottom, covering a small luggage compartment.  That false bottom is held up by a couple of fairly flimsy plastic brackets, one of which has broken before.  This time, they both broke.  That means another call to Tesla, and probably their tech will be back out here to fix them...

If you love dogs...

If you love dogs ... then you'll know what I mean when I say that I just love hearing the sounds of dogs happily eating their morning kibble, in five-part harmony (because we have five dogs).  In the case of our dogs, this comes right after our morning banana-slice ritual, which already had me grinning from ear-to-ear.  My favorite thing about being back home is being back with my dogs...

And I know, I know ... I missed my promised posting yesterday.  You shall have it soon...

Thursday, April 12, 2018

And we're back!

And we're back!  We got home around 6 pm last night, more-or-less right on schedule.  The trip went without a hitch, though with one mechanical issue I'll talk more about in a later post.  My original plan was to unload our (very loaded!) car this morning, but ... Mother Nature decided to innundate us with snow (photos later).  I think I'll wait until tomorrow. :)

While on our trip we found out that one of our neighbors (Elayne S.) is in the hospital for treatment of some issue with her pancreas.  She's been there two weeks and we never knew it!  We'll be visiting her today...

I'll fill in some details and post some photos later on today...