Thursday, April 24, 2014

Safety Tip: Don't ever drink tap water on an airplane

I saw a tweet on twitter tonight that really got my attention.  Katie Pavlich from Townhall.com posted a photo of a bottle of water that she filled on an airplane in filled from the spicket in the lavatory on the plane thinking it was drinkable.  Really Katie?  I know you are young, but you travel.  Here's a safety tip to those who travel.  That water is NEVER safe.  First the water tank, although on US carriers is cleaned regularly doesn't mean after every flight, and the source of the water is always unknown and the tanks are not sterilized.  That flight you just took to from DCA to LGA may have had last been serviced for water in Guatemala.  Don't drink it..  If you need clean water on an airplane get bottled water from a flight attendant.  Colera and typhoid are still common in places just a few hours by 737 from ATL or DFW.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Help still needed

I'm still trying to help with the aftermath of super typhoon Hayian (Yolanda in the Philippines), but since the media abandoned the place once the sizzle for their network dried up, the donations and help have to. This was a storm that made Katrina look like a thunderstorm and throughout the central Visayas west of Leyte and ground zero in Tacloban they are still trying to recover. 


This is a place that still needs a lot of help. Of course most of the international relief organizations are still there in some form, but not so much. My go to guys there are still the Salvation Army. Once all the governmental orgs leave, thery are there and so are Catholic Charities .... to a point. Still it not governments who bail out people who lost everything, it is us, we have to step up to the plate and help out. Do you want the same people who blame Israel for all problems in the Arab world, or Americans for causing nonexistant global climate change running a relief organization?


I'm only asking a simple thing, donate what you can to to a charity that can help. The Salvation Army is my first choice. But what ever yours is, please give generously.


Thanks!


Keith



Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dealing with Multiple Sclerosis and ObamaCare

I'm having yet another sleepless night, and my legs are twitching a lot. Getting out of bed, reading, having a green tea are not helping much.


I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis just a few years ago, but I'm 57 years old, this usually has early symptoms at much younger ages, so apparently when I was stumbling around during my mispent younger days, it may not have always been the beer talking to me.


Well, some of the treatments really do help me, some don't, and most are expensive and even with insurance, which has gone up astronomically under the Orwellian named "Affordable Care Act" better known as ObamaCare, some of my costs for these treatments are ow getting out of my price range. I've been informed under the new policy that takes effect on April 1, the most effective ones will no longer be covered by any of my insurance plans.  I'm not a millionaire by any means, but have saved a bit of money, but not enough to pay for these treatments, so I guess it sucks to be me right now. 


I'm not whining here, but I'm not alone with these expense issues.  Now that the federal government owns the health care industry, they own our lives, and as Barack Obama once said to a man who had an elderly mother who needed heart surgery, "can't she just take a pill?" says everything we need to know about government run medicine.


Welcome to the DMV of medical treatment.  We are all screwed.


As for me, I'm hobbling around with a walker tonight, something I hate using, and I know this will only get worse. MS won't kill you, but it does cripple a lot of people a lot younger than me.  The beautiful Mousketeer and actress Annette Funachello suffered with it all her adult life, so I am grateful to only putting up with this in the later third of my expected lifespan.


I'm trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life right now, before I get too crippled up to do something about it.  Moving to my property and building a home in the Philippines is very attractive now. I'll have to buy expensive helath and evacuation insurance, but pricing it out right now, it'll be cheaper than when my next ObamaCare increase shows up early next year, and I'll be able to live without all the intrusive regulations, taxes, and bureaucrats I have here.  We'll see how this plays out, but it is an attractive option.


Ok rant over. I'm going to try to get some sleep.


Who wants cake?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What Kind of Person Represents You?

I was out with some friends, some of them who look down at the average auto mechanic, HVAC technician or plumber as not being as "smart as them" because they have advanced degrees from anything from law to underwater basket weaving.  But still they have masters degrees in something, and that dummy who is fixing their furnace is your inferior. It's a bit of a strange world we live in these days when your masters of arts degrees in prepubecient transexual studies trumps a HVAC guy who can actually produce something than well...who knows what the other guy can do.


We have a very bad habit as a nation to consistantly elevate Ivy League graduates to almost a cult status, and revere them as the people who know how to "fix" this country.  It hasn't worked out that well, has it.  The Clintons are the "smartest people in the world".  Barack Obama, who is supposedly a constitutional scholar from Columbia, maybe is, because he knows how to trample all over it, but maybe he was saying constitutional scholar from Colombia.  We don't know, because his records are sealed, is the "most transparent administration EVAH!!!!!!"


So, here we are in an election year, not to elect a new president, but a new congress.  Who do you want to represent you in DC, which seems to consolidate more power over the states daily.  Does a Harvard or Yale lawyer represent me?  No, not at all.


I'm a reasonably educated guy with a BSEE degree from a state university, and about 40 years of experience working in various jobs and industries afterwards.  I've never been active in politics, or a community agitator, but I like to think I helped our country and the businesses I worked with. 


My Grandparents were not Ivy League, or necessarly the best educated, but my dad's father, who grew up a poor farmer who had a drunk for a dad and built up a very successful business as a building contractor, and my mom's dad who helped his family survive the great depression by working wherever he could, and was a master electrician and machinist made their lives work, and kept their families together without "our betters" taking care of them. 


So, the  question is why is "WHY DO WE NEED IVY LEAGUE LIBERALS" to help us poor pleebs live our lives.  Think about this before you vote next time.  Rodney Dangerfield put it best.   Academia is not the answer.  They are why we fail whenever they get into power


Corrections: Fixed a few typos. Thanks to my editor @tamij for noticing.



Monday, March 10, 2014

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Disappearance



the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 in itself is a very disturbing event, but not knowing what happened to the plane even more so.  It has been mising for several days now and there is no sign of an aircraft or a wreckage.  This is unusual, but not unheard of, especially when the plane was not under radar contact from ground air traffic control.  The airplane was also not equiped with satellite communications data uplink (SATCOM), something more and more airlines are installing, on long range planes that travel vast distances between ground controllers.  SATCOM allows messages, and aircraft performance data to be communicated to ground stations, either airline operations and maintenence or air traffic controllers.  MH370 had to rely on HF radio to communcate with controllers and the last communication was with Subang Malaysia ATC, however at the time of disappearance they were nominally under Vietnamese ATC control. 


What we do know is the last known position was over the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam at 35,000 feet altitude.  Vietnamese military controllers may have seen the aircraft attempting to turn back toward land, but this is not verified.  There are issues with 2 passengers who may have been flying on stolen passports, which is disturbing, but I'd be hesitant to read too much in to this at this time.  The captain had well over 17,000 pilot in command hours flying and had been with MAS for years.  I don't know much about the first officer, except he was a very junior B-777 F/O. 


The 24 hour media has been bombarding us with a lot of "experts" giving their "woulda, coulda, shoulda" analysis, and I'd advise to either ignore it or take it with a grain of salt.  We do not know what happened to the plane.  If for some reason the plane was either bombed, or came apart due to an explosive decompression, the debris field may be hard to find, as a lot of parts on a modern airplane would simply disintegrate.  Also if for whatever reason the plane nosedived into the sea, there might be a very small debris field.


The Air India plane that was bombed over the north Atlantic back in the 90 was never recovered, and it took years to find and retrieve the flight data and voice recorder from the Air France plane that went down off the coast of Brazil.  This is something to keep in mind when everyone wants everything to be solved in a 2 hour episode of 'Without A Trace".


At the request of all parties involved the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been called in to the investigation.  Having worked with them, I know that they are very good, methodical forensic analysists. They do not jump to conclusions quickly, and even in a fairly straight forward accident like the Asiana crash at San Francisco, which was undoubtably caused by pilot error, the final reports has yet to be released.


Finding this airplane may take a lot longer than the drive-by media is interested in and will soon move on to talking about lane closures on New Jersey roads, or some such nonsense that fits the 24 hour news channels' standard operating procedure.


I'll keep you updated here as more info is known.


UPDATE 1: There are now reports from the Malaysian Airforce that they tracked the airplane after it turned 90 degrees off it's flight path across the Malay Penninsula and over the Malacca Strait.  They apparantly had radar contact briefly there, but the plane was as a much lower altitude.  The aircraft then disappeared.  This revelation begs to question, why did it take so long for the Malaysian military to acknowledge this info, while the search and recovery teams were wasting time searching the South China Sea?  Obviously the MAF had this info from day 1 of the disappearance.


Both of he transponders had been turned off, What caused that?  The only way to tor off power to the transponder is pull the appropriate circuit breaker in the cockpit.  If a hijacking had been taking place, the pilots, with a flick of a switch could have sqwaked 7500 on the transponder indicating a hijacking in progress. 


Was the cockpit door closed and locked?  Apparently Malaysia Airlines has pretty lax security in that respect, as they often fly with the door open during flight.  I have witnessed this personally when flying on them a few years ago. 


There are still many more questions than answers.  Again I'm hesitant to speculate as to why this airplane went missing.  A hijacking or possible pilot suicide are among the possibilities, but until the aircraft is located, there is no way of telling, and the talking heads know exactly what I do, not enough to make an educated guess.


More as new data comes in.


UPDATE 2:  The Malaysian military and civil aviation authorities have proven themselves as inept and ill prepared for an aircraft disappearance like this, and the Chinese government is understandably losing patience with them.  Today a Chinese (spy?) satellite detected what might be debris from a crashed airplane and the Malaysian Air Force is sending aircraft to investigate it.  Again, not reading too much in to this, the airplane had 8+ hours of fuel aboard, so this aircraft could be almost anywhere in Asia.  I'm still not convinced that the plane crashed.  I am still wondering why many of the passengers' cell phones are still ringing.  Most of these were on the Chinese QQ network, and I would think that by now, those who were calling those phones would be getting a "subscriber can not be reached" message if the phone was under 600 feet of water. 


The talking heads are all going through the woulda, coulda, shoulda pseudo-analysis on the various news channels, but an act of air piracy or hijacking is not out of the question.  There are plenty of places to land an airplane in the often very remote regions of south and southeast Asia.  Just a thought, but at least I'm not assuming all are dead and at the bottom of the ocean.


More as info comes in.


UPDATE 3:  There has been a lot of chatter on the internet and on the network news about a Wall Street Journal article mentioning that engine data recorded aborad the aircraft and sent to Boeing and engine manufacturer Rolls Royce indicated that the airplane flew for 4 hours after loss of radar contact.  My friend Ed Morrissey at Hot Air picked up on this along with the Malaysian authorities rebutal of this claim.


I'm skeptical that either Boeing or Rolls Royce has such info.  First Malaysia Airlines did not buy the option that allows ACARS data to be automatically transmitted to the manufacturers.  Second, the airplane was not equipped with SATCOM, which allows voice and data communication pretty much anywhere in the world.  SATCOM is an expensive option and many airlines do not choose to install it.  They rely on a VHF data link, which is strictly line-of-sight reception.  Now at 35,000 feet, line of sight is a long distance (up to 150 miles), but the aircraft would have had to be within that distance of a designated VHF data receiver, and there are not that many in the part of the world where the airplane was flying.


Did somehow Boeing and RR get this data?  They are not saying at this point, but the WSJ did some shoddy journalism by suggesting that these companies had the data, when even MAS is saying they don't have that data.


So the question remains, what happened to the plane?  I don't know, and neither do the talking heads.  There have been disappearances of aircraft ofver the years that were never resolved.  Most recently, back in the 1970's a Boeing 727 disappeared near Iceland and was never recovered.  Hopefully with the large scale international effort to find this airplane, it will be found.  In the mean time, be skeptical of "reporting".  The media has a very bad history of getting the story wrong time and time again.


UPDATE 4:  Well here we are a week after the disappearance of the plane and all the over the top coverage of this, with all its talking heads hasn't found it.  Well, they know about as much as me.  NOTHING.  India and Pakistan are no longer saying anything, and the US which has a significant naval air station on the tropical paradise island (not) of Diego Garcia has said nothing.  What's not being said is as important or more than whats being said.  Has this plane been tracked to a refuge for terrorists?  Who the hell knows, I don't and neither does CNN.  What's telling to me is that the chatter from countries in the region where the plane was supposedly tracked have been deadly silent.  Diego Garcia is a major listening post for American intelligence in the region, and they don't usually talk about what they are seeing.  India and Pakistan also monitor the region very closely.


I really have nothing to add other than stop watching and listening to all the talking heads spout off theories that might get ratings, but produce no information. 


Stay tuned for more.  This is far from over.


UPDATE 5:  Everything you know I know by now.  And CNN has denegrated into tragedy porn as far as I'm concerned.  Shoving a microphone in a family's face ans asking "how does it feel not knowing what has happened to a loved one?" is disgraceful. 


Also media is also keeps telling us that the area of investigation is off the coast of Australia.  Technically they are right, but 1800 miles off the coast of a continent is not :off the coast".  The analysts who have satellite images as well as aircraft in the area spotted stuff in the southern Indian Ocean. This is not 24/7 news, there are garbage patches through out the oceans.


Dear CNN, get back to news and quit this horrible death Kabuki you are playing out. How about reporting on the gun control advocate cum gun runner Leland Yee?  Nothing there yet, eh?


Bottom line, this is an airplane that has been lost, and we don't really don't know where.  It's a sad story, but there are better things to report on than this. When/if something shows up, it'll be news.


I've got nothing more to say here, other than I'm disgusted by the 24/7 ratings war over this tragedy.


And the beat goes on.







Monday, March 3, 2014

How well will western sanctions work with Putin's Russia?

So, how is that "reset Button" working out?  Putin has 16,000 (as an estimation) troops on the ground in Crimea, and is threatening all of Ukraine.  President Obama and Sec. of State Kerry issue strongly worded statements and Putin farts in their general direction.


This is not looking for the west.  NATO has proven to be pretty much a debating society, and there will never be any action by the UN so long as China and Russia have veto power in the Security Council.


Lets be clear here, the US and the Europeans are not going to go to war over Crimea or all of Ukraine for that matter,  Putin learned his lession in Georgia that he can get away with land grabs.  Sanctions are an option, freezing bank accounts in the EU and USA are certainly possible, but Russia stores their wealth in Cyprus, the new Switzerland for money laundering.


So how about a little hypothetical situation here.  The west imposes tough economic and military sanctions on Russia.  Putin, like all dictators loves to play tit-for-tat.  Now that Obama killed the menned space program, the country that once put men on the moon can't even put astronauts in low Earth orbit.  We rely on "our friends" the Russians to use their antiquated Soviet era Soyuz space craft to get Americans and Europeans to the International Space Station.  Russia can easily unilaterality decide to no longer transport our people to/from the space station, possibly stranding our people there.  Would he dare to do such a thing? You betcha in a Moscow minute if it served his interests.


Here's just another unintended consequence of a president who is more interested about redistrubuting the wealth than further advancing science and technology.  NASA is a shell of what it was, and "our friends" the Chinese are working on lunar missions, and not necessarily for the good of mankind.


But fighting Global Warming is far more important to President Obama than engaging in a very dangerous world and promoting our interests at home and abroad, and by abroad, that includes in outer space.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Weakness at home, Impotence Abroad

When President Obama assumed power after an overwhelming victory in 2009, he made his apology tours, Cairo speech blaming The United States for all the evils in the middle east, sent Sec. of State Hillary Clinton to Moscow to present a Oversize Reset button in the hopes that "leading from behind" would make the worls live us him.


Things didn't work out according to the plan of using Smart Power, now did it?


Overthrowing a friendly dictator, but friendly to US dictators in Tunisia and Egypt led to Islamists seizing control through one man, one vote, one time elections.  Tunisia's Islamist government policies have emptied out their previously very popular beach resorts, due to prohabition of alcohol, and strict dress coads and separation of sexes on beaches.  Egypt is a basket case, tourists are gone, the Muslim Brotherhood tried to force Sharia Law down peoples' throats and the tolerant people of Egypt were not having any of that.  Of course Obama sided with the wrong people, the Brotherhood.  The military stepped in, and the formerly stable Egypt is on the brink of a civil war.  The intervention in Libya to overthrow Kadafy made no sense then and makes no sense now.  He has not been a threat to US national secutiry for years.  We were left with a failed state where Al-Qaeda linked jihadists have been trying (almost successfully to neighboring Mali and Niger).


SMART POWER indeed.


In Europe Obama cancelled the military defense missle agreements with ou NATO Allies, the Czech Republic and Poland with nothing to show in return from the increasingly beligerant Vladimir Putin in The Soviet Union Russia. But President Obama was being flexible. 


Of course all our allies as well as advisaries and enemies see all this as a sign of weekness, as they should.  Obama made a deal with Iran that relieved sanctions that allows them to keep the centrifuges running and refining bomb making nuclear material.  And the band played on.


Is it  any surprise that China has taken an aggressive stance towards Japan over some oil rich section of the East China Sea or all but declared the entire South China Sea as China's private lake, threatening Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and once again Taiwan (who China still considers a renegade province)?


North Korea keeps testing missles and developing more nuclear arms, and even with a large American force just across the 48th parallel, and a strong ROK army, who is to stop a mercurial dictator from deciding to make the ultimate test of Obama and decide to nuke Seoul followed by an invasion by a million man army who are nothing more than cannon fodder?


Yes indeed SMART POWER has certainly changed the way we do business with other countries.


Are people sleeping easy now in Tel Aviv, all of eastern Europe or the pacific rim?