Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wind storm

Not even the 30 pound deck blocks could keep this tent down!
The rain washed mud onto the sidewalk... it looks like a riverbed

My neighbour's tree.
The wind flipped my lawn tractor.

And knocked down my birdhouse. Not too much other damage though.

The motorcycle survived, it got knocked down, but it is fine.

Sunday Rant....

power politics, office politics... (yeah, this is a rehash of a post I had written back in '05)

Back in 2005, I was planning out my future career, and was reminded how seldom we get a chance in our lives to actually do that. Usually, people do what they gotta do from day to day, to make other people happy. There is usually a payoff in the long run, same as there is a payoff in taking the wife to the Ice Dance finals. (something which I detest so much that I have been known to pay people to stand in for me....)

Back when I was in the military, we would always be working at cross purposes. They said they wanted one thing, but always rewarded another. For instance, even back in basic training, they "said" they wanted super shiny shoes, super shiny floors and so forth, but they always rewarded conformity. If they really wanted the shiny floors, they would not have objected to the self shining floor waxes, and if they really wanted shiny shoes, they would not have objected to the lacquer. After a while, it became a bit of a game...."sure you SAY you want such and such, but you really want...what?" After I graduated, right on the grade point average....where I expected to be because of course I was too good too flunk out, but too independent to get top career followed much the same path.

I was on Bill's blog, and he posted a thing about office politics...some academic who had a theory that not all politics is excessive amount of verbiage to state the obvious that if it works FOR you, it is good, if it works AGAINST you, it is bad. So you should learn to make it work for you. theory. I would like to meet an organization that didn't know that from the get go!Office politics is okay when it works for you, but not okay when you don't get what you want. It is there regardless, so it pays to learn how to play the game.It helps to write down your goals, put it on a paper under your blotter on your desk. The first question you ask whenever somebody comes up with an idea is "how will this aid the achievement of my goals". Second question..."If I support that fellow on his tangent, will it affect me and my goals in any way?"

Unfortunately, if they are brutally honest, most goals people would write down on that paper they slide under their blotter is "I want to get paid, get promoted, and look good to the boss, my wife, her brother and my employees." Fair enough...of course, nothing other than those goals will be achieved as long as management rewards that goal. As a boss myself, I recognized this phenomon, and roughshod over the office politics, making myself thoroughly unpopular with most people, getting the job done better than anybody had ever done it, but getting no loyalty from the organization when something goes wrong. And it did...eventually something blew up in my face, and I was disiplined not for messing up, but for not picking up a problem my idiot underling did. But a lot of airplanes got fixed right.

When did I become cynical? Well, maybe it was when a person I trained got promoted over me who had never done anything but organize office parties and file log books. He never fixed a problem, just worked in the front office handling the reports from the workers, filing them, collating them, being in front of the bosses all the time. We were aircraft technicians, and this joker got promoted without ever setting foot on an aircraft in his entire career. All cynicism aside, it was very instructive for me and my group to observe this, and re-define our goals based on solid observation....sucking up to the bosses if you want to get promoted, buy the knee pads, and start organizing parties. We did that, the aircrafts languished, eventually being retired because they were "too difficult to keep repaired", and we partied and played office politics because you could get into less trouble by doing nothing than by possibly doing something wrong.

In retrospect, with the loss of the aircraft, we all lost our jobs as well, but hey, ya gotta do what works. At least we didn't end up in jail. This often happened to the last person who fixed the aircraft. I saw how to make the organization work (define your goals), how to make it fail (reward the wrong goals) and how to thrive in either mode. Not bad... Of course, it really doesn't matter now since this knowledge has made me pretty much unemployable!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Funnies.....airports chat

Here are some conversations airline passengers normally will never hear. The following are accounts of actual exchanges between airline pilots and control towers around the world. Thanks Judy for sending these to me.


Pilot: 'Albuquerque Center, this is United 372. I have an engine that just went out and I need to land. No panic, but I need a runway that's close to my present location.'
Tower: 'United 372, this is Albuquerque Center. You are cleared to land at (Name of town I have never heard of) Airport immediately.'
Pilot: (Who had obviously never heard of town either) 'Hey, I'm not talking some crop duster airport here, Albuquerque Center.'
Tower: 'United 372, that runway is 6,700 feet long. Is THAT going to be enough for you, or do you want me to send someone up to help you land?'


Tower: 'Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!'
Delta 351: 'Give us another hint! We have digital watches!'


'TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 Degrees.
''Centre, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?
''Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?'


From an unknown aircraft waiting in a very long takeoff queue: 'I'm bored!'
Ground Traffic Control: 'Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself immediately!
'Unknown aircraft: 'I said I was bored, not stupid!'


O'Hare Approach Control to a 747: 'United 329 heavy, your traffic is a Fokker, one o'clock, three miles, Eastbound.'
United 239: 'Approach, I've always wanted to say this... I've got the little Fokker in sight.'


A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked, 'What was your last known position?
'Student: 'When I was number one for takeoff.'


A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll out after touching down. San Jose Tower Noted: 'American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadalupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights, and return to the airport.'


There's a story about the military pilot calling for a priority landing because his single-engine jet fighter was running 'a bit peaked.'
Air Traffic Control told the fighter jock that he was number two, behind a B-52 that had one engine shut down.
'Ah,' the fighter pilot remarked, 'The dreaded seven-engine approach.


Taxiing down the tarmac, a DC-10 abruptly stopped, turned around and returned to the gate. After an hour-long wait, it finally took off. A concerned passenger asked the flight attendant, 'What, exactly, was the problem?' 'The pilot was bothered by a noise he heard in the engine,' explained the flight attendant. 'It took us a while to find a new pilot.


A Pan Am 727 flight waiting for start clearance in Munich overheard the following:
Lufthansa (in German): 'Ground, what is our start clearance time?'
Ground (in English): 'If you want an answer you must speak in English.'
Lufthansa (in English): 'I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany. Why must I speak English?'
Unknown voice from another plane (in a beautiful British accent): 'Because you lost the bloody war.


Tower: 'Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on frequency 124.7' Eastern 702: 'Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way, after we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of the runway.' Tower: 'Continental 635, cleared for takeoff behind Eastern 702, contact Departure on frequency 124.7. Did you copy that report from Eastern 702?' Continental 635: 'Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we copied Eastern... we've already notified our caterers.'


One day the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short of the active runway while a DC-8 landed. The DC-8 landed, rolled out, turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee. Some quick-witted comedian in the DC-8 crew got on the radio and said, 'What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?' The Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with a real zinger: 'I made it out of DC-8 parts. Another landing like yours and I'll have enough parts for another one.


The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it waswith some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the followingexchange between Frankfurt groundcontrol and a British Airways 747, call sign Speedbird 206.
Speedbird 206: 'Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of active runway.'Ground: 'Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven.'The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.
Ground: 'Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?' Speedbird 206: 'Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now.'
Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): 'Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?'
Speedbird 206 (coolly): 'Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark, -- and I didn't land.'


While taxiing at London's Gatwick Airport, the crew of a U.S. Air flight departing for Ft. Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose with a United 727. An irate female ground controller lashed out at the U.S. Air crew, screaming: 'U.S. Air 2771, where the hell are you going? I told you to turn right onto Charlie taxiway! You turned right on Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the differencebetween C and D, but get it right!'Continuing her rage to the embarrassed crew, she was now shouting hysterically: 'God! Now you've screwed everything up! It'll take forever to sort this out! You stay right there and don't move till I tell you to! You can expect progressive taxi instructions in about half an hour and I want you to go exactly where I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you! You got that, U.S. Air 2771?''Yes, ma'am,' the humbled crew responded. Naturally, the ground control communications frequency fell terribly silent after the verbal bashing of U.S. Air 2771. Nobody wanted to chance engaging the irate ground controller in her current state of mind. Tension in every cockpit around Gatwick was definitely running high. Just then an unknown pilot broke the silence and keyed his microphone, asking: 'Wasn't I married to you once?'

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Beechwood Cemetary

On a fine day last May, I visited Beechwood Cemetary with Brenda, and saw these nice plaques. I am surprised that nobody has pried them off to sell for scrap metal yet!

Below is a stone at the entrance to the military portion of the cemetary.

Below is an honest to gosh battle tank brought back after the unpleantness of Europe in 1945. The tulips are supplied by the Dutch government in perpetuity in thanks for their liberation.

The plaque on the tank. If you enlarge this pic, you "should" be able to read it.

And below is the plaque at the entrance to the military cemetary. And thats probably me in the background, still above ground.

It was a pretty day....getting on towards dusk. The crab apple and cherry trees were in full bloom, the lilacs were perfuming the air, and we were the only ones there. That is, the only ones alive. And no, it wasn't spooky....rather cozy, like a well kept garden, or a nice park.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stan Rogers

On this date, oh, a lifetime ago or so, I went to a concert at the Astrolab, here in Ottawa. The headliner was Stan Rogers, and his brother Garnet. A stunning concert, and my introduction to a Canadian legend. Sadly, Stan died in a plane fire only the next year, before I had time to get to know his music.

Surprisingly enough, Stan comes from Hamilton Ontario, not Nova Scotia! But his tunes are the sort of tunes one would expect from hard bitten, horny handed fishermen, salt of the earth small town folks, and beer drinking checked shirtted Canadians.

Tunes like "Make and Break Harbour" and "Barrett's Privateers" are still in my "shower singing repertoir" lo these many years later.

Please visit Stan Rogers web site...., and go to "ongoing legacy"; check out the beautiful music Chorleoni has made from these classic tunes. Chorleoni is a male choral ensemble, Their version of "Make and Break Harbour" brings tears to this old sojer's eyes, and is worth the visit.

(And Jennifer, check out Coyote Run's version of "Mary Ellen Carter", and see if it doesn't put a spring in your step. Play it loud!!!!)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ren Faire 2008

The Vikings next door.

Birds of Prey

Handsome Men and handsome horses.

Good looking rich folk. (note their rebellious teen age son in the tee shirt...grin!)

And me teaching some stuff in the safe area.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ren Faire Fox

click on the images to enlarge.

This is a fella who I met at the NAC ren faire...he remembered me at the Upper Canada Village Ren faire we did this weekend. He is a fox. And he is looking for work.

I suggested he be the spokes-animal for Fox News, and of course, there is 101 "The Fox" FM here in Potsdam NY.

You would thing a good fox like him would be able to find work, but you know how it is...movies like Shrek tend to give foxes a bad name. (I did have to brush a couple of chicken feathers off his muzzle after all....)

So if anybody knows of an opening for a highly intelligent articulate fox, let me know.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

News of the weird.

What can I say that Chuck doesnt say better. His blog is at
Here are some samples. Lots more at his web site, above. All well researched and verified. Guaranteed to make you shake your head!
There was yet another fight in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre this past Easter (celebrated in mid-April by Orthodox Christians).
This time, Armenians (one of the six Christian branches that share management of the holy site) believed that a Greek Orthodox priest had encroached on their part of the church and tried to eject him, leading to a brawl in which some in attendance used Palm Sunday fronds as weapons. It usually falls on Jerusalem's Muslim police officers to restore order. [Agence France-Presse, 4-20-08]

For Easter every year in Vrondados on the Greek island of Chios, villagers carry on a 19th-century tradition in which parishioners of two churches attack the other's building with homemade rockets during midnight Mass. Villagers spend the days before Easter boarding up windows in order to minimize damage, and the goal is to be first to hit the other church's bell tower. [WTAM (Cleveland)-Reuters, 4-27-08]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Prague Armour

Because I am too hot and tired to actually MAKE any armour lately, and rather than post any of my own extensive collection of armour pictures, I decided to post some of Pierre's. I have been posting fairly extensively on my "armouring" blog....a blog in which I discuss armour, show off my work, and my student's work, and talk about the details which separate one armour from another. Needless to say, opinions are my own.

The above pic is of a landsknecht leiderhosen. I betcha it is NOT period to the late 1600's....the idea of fabric lasting this long, and certainly leather would not! But, it is a really neat costume piece, and I figure the seamstresses and tailors who follow my blog might find it more than a little interesting.

Click to enlarge, and visit my armouring blog.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday Toons

I've always liked "Crabby Road". Puts a smile on my face every time!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Did a small repair on swords week before last. More pictures on my armour site...

Canadian Air Museum

Most of Canada's aviation history involves getting around this huge country of ours. The first world war provided enough money and talent to develop the anti submarine aircraft, the Curtiss HS-2LS. Then the war ended, and these aircrafts were snapped up by people who wanted to fly into the Canadian north. The Curtiss HS-2LS was pretty much in the vanguard of a long series of planes which created the trade of "bush pilot". click on the images to enlarge.
This very historical aircraft was pulled off the bottom of a lake just outside Kapuscasing, Ontario. Even though now, a road goes up to Kap, it is still about 6 to 8 hours drive Nor-West from Ottawa. Gold mining country. Mosquito country. Shanai Twain country. The kind of country people think of when they think of Canada....trees, brush, pickup trucks with canoe's on them.

From the front you can still see the clean lines...the holes are for the landing light and an access panel to the cockpit instruments.

Even some original paint still on there!

Still pretty broken up though. The workmanship was top notch, and the damage has the unintentional benefit of opening up the airframe so that you can see see it!

In back is the re-built version of this airplane. It is actually three Curtiss HS-2l's married up with new canvas and dope. Not a bad looking airplane....more boat than bird though.

Placque on the exhibit.

A closeup of the HS-2L as re-built by the air museum. This was three HS-2Ls which where badly damaged, they took a boat hull from one, wings from a second, and an engine which might never have been installed on an airplane, but was in storage, ready to be installed. It looks awfully good. Can you imagine sitting in the front turret of this plane, putting into a dock in some obscure fly in fishing camp up in the tree line, tossing a mooring line to a chequed shirted Algonquin?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Monday Mornin' smile


Sign in a local occult shop..."shoplifters will be frogged".

Fire house dogs. Go figure.

Frank! What have you done! Gone over the dark side! Oh My.

Pocahontas. No, my mistake, Poca-woof-tas.

My main post today is on my armouring blog

This is just to put a smile of people's faces after the nastiness which comes from taking the road less traveled.