Saturday, December 28, 2013

How low is low?

Somehow the Grouch family got on the subject of insanely low flybys from aircraft the other night.  Young daughter talked about the fighters at her airbase and how noisy they are when on afterburners.  I recounted the tale of when I visited Norfolk Navy base at the height of the Vietnam war.  My Boy Scout troop stayed on the base and toured an aircraft carrier and a WW2 era diesel sub.  While standing on the deck of the sub two F4s came overhead at low altitude and cut in their afterburners.  The noise was so overwhelming that I thought I was going to fall off of the sub's deck!

In honor of our Christmas eve pizza dinner and fun conversation, here is a video for the Grouch family's (and anyone else who wants to watch) viewing pleasure along with some pictures that I got from somewhere in the past:


Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Day Hike

After the presents are opened, the scrambled eggs and bacon cooked and eaten, and the resting completed, it is time for our annual Christmas day hike!  Our traditional venue for the hike is Apocalypse Road which is what we call an abandoned stretch of road in the national forest that was partially washed out in the floods and rain of 2005.  It looks like life after civilization has collapsed.  We are on the look-out for imaginary bandits and road warriors when we take our hike.

The weather was sunny and warm, perfect for our walk!

Off we go!

Missy loves the outdoors

The only thing better in Missy's estimation would be if she was free to walk the road herself

The dogs like the road too

The Missus trying some off-roading with the invincible stroller
The Missus looking glamorous, even after the collapse of civilization

Young Daughter's family

Missy telling us how things are

In the springtime this section can be mostly underwater but no worries now

Two beautiful dogs waiting for the Missus

Almost back to civilization!

We made it!

The Christmas hike is a perfect way to build an appetite for the Turkey dinner that the Missus had cooking while we walked.  Another great Christmas day for the Grouch family. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The incredible shrinking newspaper!

The Missus was doing something with the Christmas decorations today and pulled out some old newspapers that had been cushioning the stuff for the last 30 years.  She handed them to me to look at before she recycled them.  I was struck by how much larger newspapers once were.  The 1981 Baltimore Sun is on the bottom with the current sized newspaper on top.
We can thank inflation for this turn of events.
It was interesting seeing car ads for new cars @ $5,700 each!

Christmas lights 2013

We set out Christmas eve after mass and our traditional dinner at Pizza Hut to see the amazing and fantastic neighborhood light display at Wakefield Court in our happy little valley.  True to the ingrained car culture of SoCal, folks were waiting 45 minutes or more in line to drive through the court to view the lights.  The Grouch's are from out of town originally so we knew that it is possible to park the car, get out, and actually walk half a mile to the lights! Imagine that!

The pictures cannot convey the overwhelming spectacle of the multicolored lights that made everything glow with pastel colors.  It was incredible to experience and even more incredibly, this neighborhood got second place in the neighborhood display contest run by our local paper!  What could first place have looked like!

When I saw the lights I envisioned the scene from Christmas Vacation when Griswold plugs in his outdoor Christmas light display; we see the nuclear power plant go to overload and a rolling blackout hit Griswold's city.  I think Southern California Edison had to lay a separate power line just for this neighborhood display!

The Grouch's walking to see the show.  A passenger asked us on the way back how long of a wait they had.  The Missus suggested that they park the car and walk but the young woman wasn't able process the concept and rolled up her window instead.

At the start...

This isn't nearly as bright as it was in person

Young Daughter lets loose with a Santa belly laugh

Walking was the only way to go!

A traditional display - good for them!

I have no idea what the guy on the tractor has to do with Christmas but it was impressive!

The Grouch family and the Christmas turtle

Mistletoe handily placed for a quick smooch!  Missy wants to know why the old people are being silly.

A gingerbread house
One of two grumpy houses in the plan.  There's a party pooper in every crowd.

Young Son and R2D2

The weather was unseasonably warm but this young lady was taking it a bit far!

Another gingerbread house with full size carousel

The before mentioned carousel 

Missy is peeking out to see the lights

There she is!

Imagine these lights to the power of 10 - that's what this street is like!

The Grouch looking typically disreputable.

It was a grand time out and a great way to spend Christmas eve.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas day.

Christmas animals

I'm sure you've seen the Christmas deer on folks' lawns, you know, the white wicker type strung with lights that sometimes are even motorized so their head will move?  Yes, that's what I'm referring to.  So in the grand tradition of American oneupsmanship we are now seeing an exploding variety of Christmas lawn animals.  Here are some we saw the other night:

Christmas Dachshund

Christmas SpongeBob (more a plant than an animal but he does talk and has semi-sentient characteristics)

Christmas Moose

And the Christmas Goose!
Christmas wind-surfing Penguin

Christmas Pigs?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chuck Norris wishes us a Merry Christmas

I couldn't have said it better myself.


Saturday, December 14, 2013


The Grouch family was walking through the local Mall parking lot one evening when we came across this car with clearly visible tire tracks up the hood and over the top.  Either this is the practice vehicle for an Evil Kenevil wanna-be or the owner is the luckiest/unluckiest person on the road.  How the heck did a tire either attached to a vehicle or loose and on its own roll up and over his/her auto?  Lucky in the sense that besides the tire track and the windshield there wasn't any significant damage; unlucky because it happened in the first place!
As SGT Phil Esterhaus used to say on Hill Street Blues:  "Hey, let's be careful out there!" 
Especially when tires are on the loose.


Goodbye A-10 Warthog!

I read the other day that the Air Force is finally going to get its wish and kill the A-10 once and for all.  I've read that the A-10 drivers love the aircraft but the Air Force has never really had the same affection for it that it does for a fighter.  The likelihood of the USAF engaging in air to air combat on the scale of WW2, Korea, or even Vietnam is unlikely for the foreseeable future, but precision ground support missions are a given for a long, long, time.

I first saw the A-10 in Germany in the late 70s.  The newly arrived A-10s would sometimes practice strafing runs on the lines of obsolete equipment parked at the end of the runway at Harvey Barracks.  The engines have a distinctive whine to them and the rush of the plane at low altitude as it passed by on its simulated attack run was always fun to watch.   Not too much fun to be on the receiving end.

I next saw them in Maryland when I was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and the MD ANG was flying them.  I find the aircraft beautiful in its functionality and amazingly maneuverable.  The Air Force wanted to get rid of them after the end of the evil empire (AKA the Soviet Union) and started sending them to the bone yard.  There was talk of perhaps converting them into fire bombers.    The Army agitated long and hard to keep them in service and even started talk of overturning the agreement that prohibits the Army from having fixed wing ground attack aircraft.  Rather than share its toys the Air Force decided to keep them in service although at a fewer number.

Then came 9-11.

I am reading a book called "The Outpost"  by Jake Tapper.  I highly recommend it.  The sacrifice and tragedy faced by the new 'Band of Brothers'  in the mountainous areas of northern Afghanistan is truly heartbreaking to read.  In the description of the battles, frequently A-10s show up just in the nick of time to prevent the outnumbered and sometimes outgunned soldiers from being overrun by the enemy in Afghanistan.  Ask the soldiers who served in the mountains of Afghanistan if they want the A-10 replaced by F-16s? 

The A-10: the infantryman's best friend and the enemy's worst nightmare
We saw this one at an air show in 2010.  the maneuvering of the plane was amazing

A bit of rough language in this one

Remember those MD ANG guys I mentioned  earlier?  They're still at it!

I imagine in the end the Air Force will get its way and the A-10 fleet will end up as gate guards at some air bases around the country, the rest turned into aluminum ingots for recycling into soda cans.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Congratulations Young Son!

Young Son applied for an internship with the U.S. State department and received notification that he has been accepted for an internship in D.C. next summer!  Way to go YS!  We will be lonely without him but it is a fantastic opportunity for him and it should be a great time and lots of fun also.

The Missus and I are so proud of him.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks

So the Missus and I received an invitation from Disney studios to see the new Disney movie "Saving Mr. Banks" at the Disney theater on the Disney lot in beautiful downtown Burbank.  We went tonight to see it.   I must admit that I was skeptical about the movie, the subject matter didn't seem to be particularly interesting but I was wrong.  It was a great movie, a tear-jerker of the first water. 

I recommend it, I think even someone as grouchy as me will like it.

It was fun seeing the scenes in the movie filmed in and around the very Disney studios that we passed to get to the theater!   The Missus is always star-struck when we are invited to the Disney studios and I have to keep a tight grip on her to stop her from sneaking off to hide on the lot and try to get discovered by a movie producer.

Go see the movie, you will enjoy it.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Middle East Conflicts memorial

Spend five minutes watching this video about the Middle East Conflicts memorial erected by a private company in Illinois.  I had certainly never heard about this until now.  It is a touching story and show what individuals can do to achieve something of meaning together.

How many people can fit into a.....?

Back in the old days the craze was to see how many teens could fit into a VW bug or a phone booth (if you have to ask what is a phone booth you are too young to be reading my blog)

Here is a modern version of   'how many people can fit into a...'

Apparently 675 people can fit inside an Air Force C-17!

Friday, December 6, 2013

It's done!

I had my final class Thursday for my Organizational Leadership Master's program and as long as my capstone project isn't found to be lacking I will have earned my master's degree.  Yay!   I will miss the others in my cohort, they are great folks and we have gotten to know each other over the past year. 

It seemed so abrupt. We did our presentations, said goodbye to the teacher and to each other and that was it.  A year was finished and we move on with our separate lives.  I guess I am lucky to have known all of them for the year that we spent together.

Now, no more homework start on Sunday afternoon and cumulating Wednesday evening.  I didn't think I could be nostalgic for the work and the classes but at least for right now, I am.