Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Grouch heads East! The grand tour of part of the east coast - Alexandria VA part I

The Grouch, the Missus, Young Daughter, and Young Son journeyed in July to the east coast for visiting both sides of the family in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.  We touched down at Reagan IAP in Washington D.C. and drove to Older Son's abode in nearby suburban Virginia.

On our first full day in town we headed to Alexandria for some sightseeing.  We were there in March when it was snowy and very cold.  This time around we had heat, humidity, and drizzle.  Despite that we had a great time!

Not only is this street interesting for its construction of stones and obvious old age but something almost as interesting sits at the top of the street on the left.  Can you spot it?

A close up view of the fitting of the stones.  That had to take some patience to do!

Here is what was at the top - a Land Rover Defender.  Fairly rare here in the U.S.

The Missus cannot pass up a Christmas shop, even in July so we went in where we saw platoons of nutcracker figures.

We signed up for the Potomac river cruise.  Goodbye Alexandria! 

A nice day on the water
This ship looks just right for exploring exotic isles in the far Pacific.  What it is doing on the Potomac is a mystery to me.

The Missus told me not to take her picture so I did

Something impressive is going on in that building if the satellite dish is any indication

Reagan airport, where we arrived the day before.

The Watergate stairs to the Lincoln memorial, not be confused with the Watergate hotel

The Coast Guard was busy inspecting boats on the river

They don't mess around - look at the M240 MG!

The former presidential yacht ex U.S.S. Sequoia 
All in all it was a grand day out and a great start to our tour of some of the east coast (the best parts).  Stay tuned for each day's adventures!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sunset off road trek

Recently the Missus and I participated in a sunset off road trek.  The trail was steep and the descent was even steeper.

Read about it here:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Off to war

My co-worker has kept me up to date on the progress of her daughter who did a service transfer from the Air Force to the Army with the intent of becoming a pilot.  Usually people join the Air Force to be a pilot but she took the opportunity to become a Warrant Officer in the Army and then attend helicopter flight school.

Her mother is so proud of her daughter and has kept me up to date as she has moved through the Army system, becoming a Warrant Officer and then graduating from flight school.  Her daughter is now a Blackhawk pilot and set to head overseas to see the elephant.

Her daughter is in town on leave so mother and daughter came to see me and say hello.  Back in the day for me, all of the Army Warrant Officer aviators were guys, some with Vietnam war experience and a couple almost too young to be served in the officer's club.  Now I hear from the daughter that her instructor pilots are retired Vietnam war era Warrants.  She told me that the 'old guys' who taught her have outstanding skills and the best stories.  I hope that someday she will be an old, bold aviator too.

She is off to fly in the most challenging terrain and conditions experienced by Army aviators since Vietnam.  She'll be flying machines left behind by other units, in winter.  I wish her all the best of luck coupled with the skill those old warriors taught her at flight school.  She is excited and eager to go.  her mother is so proud of her, and worried.

The new Warrant Officer shook my hand as she left my office and looked me in the eye and said 'Goodbye Sir'.  My eyes got watery as she turned away.

Please come home safely to your mother, please.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July to all of the freedom loving folks on planet Earth!

We skipped the traditional 4th of July home town parade this morning in order to get ready for our semi regular 4th of July family and friends gathering and cookout in our backyard.  

We realized at the last minute that we didn't have pretzels on hand for our guests so the Missus and I set off for the local drug store to get some.  As we set out I heard the very distinctive sound of a Merlin/Packard aircraft engine and after a quick scan - there is was!  An invasion striped P-51 doing some wide circles over town.   We got to see three passes before it flew on.  What a memorial to our Greatest Generation and the 4th of July!

A fellow veteran gave me a copy of the Declaration of Independence yesterday.  I've never read the whole thing but yesterday I found time to do so.  What a magnificent document!

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Young Daughter goes hog wild!

So, over the weekend Young Daughter revealed that she has been a motorcycle rider and owner for about the last three months. Figuring that I would worry significantly about her riding a motorcycle she delayed telling me but the story had to be told eventually so she let fly with the information during a phone conversation with her mother.  At the appropriate time the Missus said to me that YD had something to tell me.

I'm glad she told me (finally) and yes I am worrying about her now but she is an adult and able to make her own choices in life.

Young Daughter followed the Goldilocks approach to motorcycles.  The Suzuki was too small, the Honda was too big, and the Harley Davidson is just right - for her.  She looks good on it and the bike's exhaust isn't loudly obnoxious but still has the Harley chug sound to it.

Young Daughter says riding her Harley is the most fun she's had in  a long time.  Please, everyone, keep your eyes open and leave her some room on the road!

Ignition - contact!  Oops, that is what you say when starting a Sopwith Camel

Young Daughter in charge and ready to ride

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Citizen Grouch sees "Edge of Tomorrow"

The Missus, Young Daughter, and I went to see "Edge of Tomorrow" yesterday for a pre-father's day celebration.  The movie starring Tom Cruise was great and lots of fun.  The title is dopey and doesn't do anything to make someone want to see it.  In case you know nothing of the movie, it is a sci-fi adventure that merges "Ground Hog Day" with "Starship Troopers".   Some time in the near future the Earth is battling an alien invasion in Europe; Tom Cruise's character is a O-4 Major PR flack detailed by the Eisenhower of the day to be in the first wave of the modern D Day invasion from the UK to France to roll the invaders back. He is supposed to 'sell' the planet on the success of the invasion.  Being the cowardly sort he declines to go, gets busted to Private and sent off in the invasion force the next day with no training where he is killed; only to wake up at the exact same spot 24 hours earlier and goes on to replay the day over and over again, each time getting a bit further along.

It was a lot of fun to watch and great performances from one and all.  Just a few quibbles as a military type guy:

1. There didn't seem to be any pre-landing artillery or missile prep of the battlefield.  The infantry just got dropped right on top of the enemy at the beach.
2. I didn't see any AFVs, just masses of soldiers.
3. No air support except for what looked like a couple of Apache type attack helos
4. No crew served weapons or individual AT type weapons capable of taking out really large and bad aliens with one shot.  All they seemed to have was a full auto 5.56mm rifle and grenades.
5. With the amazing capabilities that the aliens showed in the movie, what had confined them to Western and Central Europe?  They should've overrun the entire continent by the time of the movie.

The mech exoskeleton was a nice touch and something that the Army is working on right now.

All of that said it was exciting, funny in some spots, and enjoyable to see Cruise's character grow from the panicking guy only worried about saving his skin to a modern day Audie Murphy who has plans to save the world.

Fours Stars!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dogs 'n Pills

So our three dogs all get pills of some type or another with their meals.  The Missus' approach is no nonsense:  she pries the dog's mouth open like a lion tamer preparing for the stick-your- head-in-the-lion's-mouth routine at the circus but in her case it is about to be her hand.  Then the hand and the pill go down the dog's throat, seemingly past her elbow, the hand is withdrawn and the dog is left with a dazed look on its face wondering what had just happened.

I don't have the time or inclination to do that act, so at each meal I lace the food with the required pills.  One of the dogs get a glucosimine pill, one gets the glucosimine pill and a baby asprin, and all three have been getting an anti-itch allergy capsule.  They are allergic to something and spend the better part of the day scratching depending on the season of the year and the capsule is supposed to solve the itching.

Kerby, our youngest dog who is a rescue Australian shepherd/Border Collie mix has an amazing talent:  without the use of hands she is able, while eating, to seperate out the capsule from her food and spit it out, unchewed, onto the floor.  I find the pill laying on the floor after she is done and marvel over this talent of hers.  I pitch it back into her bowl where it is probably consumed by Roscoe our senior dog, who feels it is his duty and his right to visit each dog's bowl and lick it for any remaining flavor for easily 5 minutes or until I tell him to knock it off and move on.  He always looks at me reproachfully and wanders off to wait until I leave the room to resume his bowl licking.

Kerby's ability to separate the pill from her food has never been observed, only the result.  In practice this is reminiscent of the mysterious sliding rocks of Death Valley that move across a dry lake bed under unknown and unseen locomotion, leaving a trail in the dust but not seen by human eyes to move. Who knew that we have a similar mystery in our very house, the unseen separation of the pill from the food!