Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

You Can't Pick Family (but you can keep them out of the kitchen)

My wife has taken over the preparation of Christmas dinner and has been doing it now for several years. This usually involves meal preparation for at least 20 people. She starts cooking in mid December in order to have everything ready and she sets a very formal table. This year was particularly difficult as we had her mother living us for post op care following a triple bypass and heart valve replacement. But one thing that we can usually count on is that we will have plenty of leftovers and those can save her the chore of cooking at least for a few days while we nosh on them.

Yesterday we headed for the refrigerator to pull them out and microwave them for dinner but they were nowhere to be found. After some thought and picking through the memory of the chaotic clean up after the meal we determined that one of our "sisters in law" walked out of the house with most of our leftovers. She made off with all the oyster dressing, the scalloped potatoes, most of the white meat from the turkey and all of the stuffed roast pork. We don't begrudge people a take away plate but this was over the top. Well, lesson learned. She will not be allowed into the kitchen ever again.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A New Orleans Christmas Classic

What is Christmas without this classic song.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hyvaa Juolua

Merry Christmas Y'all.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Emirates and Freedom of Speech

When I worked in Dubai I became aware of some of their laws regarding freedom of speech. Basically, if you say anything bad about the Sheik, you can be arrested. And that includes bad satire. Now we have the case of an American that has been convicted and sentenced to serve one year in a Dubai jail for making a video that the government said violated their cyber security laws. It is supposed to be a tongue in cheek representation of urban ganstas in an area of Dubai known as Satwa. Satwa is primarily an area that contains Indian and Pakistani businesses and is the center of the knock off stores.
Shez Cassim from Minnesota was the film maker. Here is the video in question. Do you think it is worth a year in jail?

If you travel, be aware that other countries have different levels of tolerance for criticism and that if you run afoul of their laws, the US will not help you unless you can generate a lot of publicity.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Obama's Election Manipulations

I've written before about how government regulations will be used to control the country. And now the Washington Post, not an especially conservative rag, has an article about how the issuing of regulations was delayed to benefit Obama in the 2012 election. The graph below shows how the pace of issuing regulations was slowed prior to the election to keep them from becoming campaign issues.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review - Spirit of Steamboat

This started as a short story but Craig Johnson decided to turn it into a novella. It is not a mystery story as much as it is an adventure tale. Of course, Walt Longmire is the central character and it takes place after Walt has been sheriff only a few months. A traffic accident during a December snow storm leaves a child in need of emergency air transport on Christmas Eve. The only vehicle capable of flying in the deteriorating weather is an old B-25 and the only person who can fly this beast is Lucian Connally.

This story is appropriate for the Christmas season and aviation buffs will enjoy the technical aspects. This is only 129 pages so it won't take long to read. And while it helps to know the Longmire backstories, it's not completely necessary.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sidebar Addition

I stumbled upon a new web site that I promise will become a big time waster for you. It's called "Retronaut" and the link can be found on the right. If it's quirky, it will be in this site. In a very short time I learned that the US Government tried using nuclear bombs to "frak" gas fields in Colorado and New Mexico as late as 1973. I also learned that the Pledge of Allegiance has gone through four revisions. The first two did not include the words "under God". Also, the salute to be made during the pledge was similar to the Nazi salute and was changed to the hand over heart in 1942. See, it's educational.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Packing in Church

Middle grandson's school had a Grandparents mass last Saturday evening. While his school is not in the worst of areas, it is in an area that could be described as "sketchy". It's a bad enough area that restaurants within a couple of blocks pay to have uniformed police officers on guard duty. I debated whether to leave the Airweight in the car while we went to mass or to carry it into church. The decision was made for me when I found out that we would have to park on the street and walk about 200 yards to the school chapel - it went into my pocket and went to communion with me.

I'm not sure why I had this aversion to carrying in church. Anyone have any thoughts about this?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fast Food Strike

The fast food strikers are being sold a bill of goods by the unions. If they get their demands, they may have the added benefit of losing their jobs to technology. The only purpose of the order taker at your local fast food establishment is to smile and punch some buttons that sends you order to the kitchen crew. If you think about it, you could perform the same activity. All they have to do is put a  touch screen at the order station. You punch your order into the screen, swipe your credit card and you are done.

Take a look at your local big box store.......why do you think that there are so many self check out stations now? At my Home Depot, one person can now oversee the operation of 4 checkout stations because the customers do it themselves. Sams, Wal Mart, Lowes, Home Depot; they all have self checkout.

Liberals think that they can change the rules that business operates under and nothing will change. They seem surprised when business adjusts to compensate for the new rules, and it's usually the low level workers, the same people liberals claim to want to help, that suffer. For example, Obamacare has driven business to reduce the numbers of fulltime workers to avoid the regulations.

I understand that some chain restaurants are experimenting with order screens at the tables. It won't take long for that to catch on. What good is a job that pays $15/hour if that position is eliminated? If you want to earn more money, you need to develop marketable skills.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Finnish Independence Day

Today marks the anniversary of the adoption of Finland's declaration of independence from Russia by the Parliament in 1917. The holiday is second only to the end of the Finnish Civil Way on May 16, 1918.

My grandparents had emigrated in 1903, well before independence. Listening to her parents stories about growing up under Russian oppression may explain why my mother disliked the Russians so much. Of course, their invasion of Finland in November of 1939 thereby starting the Winter War  probably didn't help.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Head Count

Saudi Arabia executed four (4) men last month raising their year to date total to 69. Three were murderers and one was a druggie. Technically, only three should count for "head count" as one of the murderers was shot. If you remember, KSA had a shortage of swordsmen and planned to resort to execution by gunfire.

In other head count related items.....My wife bought some Chistmas decorations the other day. They looked OK in the store but when we got them home and hung them, they looked demonic. For effect, I hung them on our Festivus Pole.


Is this what happens when Santa meets Col. Kurtz?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Winter War

November 30 marks the anniversary of Russia's invasion of the Karelian Peninsula in 1939. Their stated reason was to provide a buffer zone for the protection of St. Petersburg. The Finns, of course did not appreciate this and fought a defensive war against mass wave attack tactics that devastated the Russian Army. The Russians used the mass attack tactics because Stalin had seen fit to purge the army of competent leadership and replace it with officers more politically aligned to Stalin.The war ended in March, 1940 with Finland giving up territory to Russia.

There were 70,000 Finnish casualties to Russia's 323,000 causalities: a ratio of 4.6 to 1!

Russia's poor showing in the Winter War helped convince Hitler to invade Russia. The Germans, however, were not as adept at winter fighting as the Finns.

The war gave us the "Molotov Cocktail". In fact, a Finnish distillery mass produced them and made almost 500,000 of them. It should be noted that petrol bombs had been used earlier in Spain but the Winter War gave them a name that stuck.

The worlds most prolific sniper, Simo Hayha, came out of this war. He was credited with 505 kills using a Moisin Nagant rifle with iron sights. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 96.

I've written about Larry Thorne a few years ago. His is an interesting story.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Uranium Enrichment and the Iran Deal

Nobody ever said that John Kerry was smart. It now looks like he got snookered by Iran. Part of the agreement hinges on Iran stopping enrichment of uranium but not eliminating their stockpiles of partially enriched uranium. The chart below, taken from a report by the American Enterprise Institute, show the amount of time and effort required to refine uranium from bulk ore to weapons grade (90%) As you can see, most of the time is spent getting to the 5% level. Once you are there, it takes a relatively short time to get to the higher concentrations. In short, if Iran does not get rid of their stocks of 5% and 20% uranium, they can put together enough for a bomb in a very short period of time.

And all bets are off if they only want to make a dirty bomb.

The lesson here is don't leave technical details to politicians.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Trivia for the Day

I used to work for a company that built printing presses. It was a great job for a mechanical engineer - lots of gears, wheels and cams to play with. One style of press that they built was used to print the wrappers for Wonder Bread. If you know anything about printing, you know that each color is printed by a different print roller and Wonder Bread wrappers have a lot of different colors. In fact, we used to print Wonder Bread wrappers to get all the print rollers synchronized. The multicolored balloons were great for being able to see which print roll was out of synch.

I guess technology has changes the way that the wrappers are produced today but there was nothing like watching this huge machine print with such delicacy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

I'm now SQRT 4096. Do the math!

Another One Gone

I just learned that a friend of mine was killed last weekend. Details are sketchy, but evidently his death was the result of a negligent discharge at a corporate hunting event. Reports are that the round hit a rock and the ricochet struck him behind the ear.

He was in marketing and was always involved in some golf tournament, fishing rodeo or some other oil field/pipeline event. He once convinced me to be a judge at an industry sponsored chili cookoff. I ate some strange chili that day, I can tell you. He was a part of the old oilfield that worked hard and had a good time doing it, when things were done on the basis of mutual respect and trust. He'll be missed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Health Care Hits Close to Home

It's been a little crazy for the past month or so. The family matriarch (my 87 year old mother-in-law) was diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis and blockages in three arteries. Since then my wife has been on a continuous stream of doctor visits with her mother along with an angiogram and other tests. Kidney disease was also discovered which added to the complications.

Bottom line is that she went in earlier this week for a valve replacement and three bypasses. Risks were high but she is an active woman who lives on her own, drives and gets about unassisted. She came out of surgery well. Her surgeon said that she was "spunky". (That was a new medical term to me) Her nurses now say that she looks more like one week post op rather than 2 days. So, the prognosis is good and everyone of her 9 children, umpteen grandchildren, and the few great grandchildren who were old enough, breathed a sigh of relief.

We were thankful to have this done before Obamacare kicked in. My suspicion is that if the death panels had to approve the surgery, they would turn her down and give her palliative care for the remaining 6 months of her life expectancy. Because the family and physicians made the call, she should live well into her 90's and see a few more great grandchildren born.

All of the BS that Obama has told us about the medical plan sounds good until it hits you, as those who have been kicked off their plans can tell you. Next year, those of us with corporate plans will feel the sting. Remember this when you vote. And remember that if you do not vote, you are still making a choice.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Head Count

Saudi Arabia only beheaded one (1) person last month. He was a murderer. This brings the Kingdom's year to date count to 65.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book review - Storm Front

This is John Sandford's latest Virgil Flowers mystery. It starts with the theft of an important archaeological find which may have important religious history implications. The thief tries to auction the relic off to the highest bidder and suddenly we have a cast of characters that include the Mossad, Hezbollah, a couple of Discovery Channel adventurers and an attractive local female criminal. It's just the kind of charlie foxtrot that typify a Flowers novel. More of a comedy than suspense, I can see this as a screenplay for the small screen. Probably not one of the more intense Sandford stories but entertaining none the less. It's a good, light read for an intercontinental flight.


There is a lady I worked with that keeps an email list and sends out news about company retirees. Usually it is an obituary. The other day she send out a notice about the death of a 96 year old retiree. I knew his name but never really worked with him. (he was in accounting and I was in engineering) His obituary let us know that the was a B 26 pilot in WW II and completed 66 missions over Europe, Africa and Italy. Yes, that is not a misprint. 66 missions!

Monday, October 14, 2013

No Good Deed Etc.

Wal Mart stores in NW Louisiana made the decision to honor EBT cards even though they could not confirm the balance remaining on the cards due to the recent system failure. They didn't want to deny food to their shoppers.  It didn't take long for word to spread and shoppers emptied the shelves. These were not shoppers in a panic, but thugs who thought they could get something for nothing. When the system went back on line and people were caught with more than the card could pay for, they left their carts and Wal Mart employees had a fun time re-stocking the shelves.

These people belong to the same class that loot stores in times of disaster and spend their Hurricane Katrina money on bling. They were raised in a system that failed to teach them personal integrity. They are Obama voters.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Park Service Brown Shirts

The news has been full lately of the tactics used by National Park Service rangers to enforce the government shutdown. The vision of friendly guides with Smokey the Bear hats has pretty much been replaced with Gestapo tactics. The nadir for me was the idea that they would prevent foreign tourists from leaving their hotel in Yellowstone Park giving the tourists, who didn't speak English well, the idea that they were under arrest.

How, you ask, can this happen? Aren't most of these guys nice upstanding family men? Well, go do a little study on the Milgram Experiment and the Stanford Prison Study. I have blogged about these before in relation to the TSA, but it applies to the NPS just as well. Good people, when given complete authority over someone else or are ordered to perform an onerous task by someone in authority, will behave counter to their moral compass. The ultimate example is Nazi Germany but you can see it in everyday life in fraternity hazings, police brutality and now the National Park Service.

We do not live in Russia where a passport and permission was required to travel within the country. It is time for Americans to exercise their First Amendment right to free travel and perform a little civil disobedience by stepping around the barrycades.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review - The Quest

Nelson DeMille is one of my favorite authors. Therefore, I looked forward to reading this new novel about a search for the Holy Grail. But in reading the forward, I found out that this was a book he first wrote 40 years ago. He made some editorial changes to it and re-released it. It is a total snooze. The characters are not interesting and the location (Ethiopia) has nothing to recommend it. Give this one a pass.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Bridge

Do you like current day crime dramas with quirky characters, unpredictable plot twists and gritty drama? If so, go take a look at The Bridge. The Bridge is an FX Network (the same folks who brought you Justified, Sons of Anarchy and The Americans) crime drama about two detectives, one from Mexico and the other from El Paso, Texas as they join forces to solve crimes that span the border. The pilot featured a dead body placed exactly on the border between the two countries. Soon they discover that it is really two bodies that have been cut in half and placed together.

You will probably recognize Diane Kruger as the El Paso detective. She is socially inept, only sees things in black and white and continually makes social gaffes. Her Ciudad Juarez counterpart is one of the few non-corrupt policemen but he has a philandering habit. Other characters are the gruff and grizzled lieutenant, the dope head newspaper reporter with a lesbian sidekick, a rich widow with a cross border tunnel and a desert living hermit who rescues abused women. The plot is unpredictable and several plot lines are woven together to keep you thinking.

The first season has ended but it is available for download on Amazon Instant Video. I predict that you will find it hard to stop watching.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Review - Damned if You Do

This is the latest of the Jesse Stone novels with Michael Brandman as the approved ghost writer for Robert Parker. I like the Jesse Stone series but Brandman's writing does not bring out the angst and latent alcoholism of the main character. Brandman has a background in screen writing and it is evident in this novel. There is a lot of short, clipped dialog that makes the reading go fast but has little depth.

In this story, Jesse's investigation of a young girls murder takes him to a clash between rival gangs. While he is handling that, he is also bringing the wrath of God down on the heads of the operators of a retirement home who drug their residents, one of whom is a friend of Jesse.

It's a fast read and good entertainment but don't look for anything much deeper than that.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Head Count

Looks like 6 murderers and druggies lost their heads over in The Kingdom last month raising their year to date total to 64.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Submarine History

This video tells the story of an interesting piece of submarine history.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review - Never Go Back

In the 18th in the series, Jack Reacher finally makes it to Virginia where he plans to meet the mysterious Maj. Susan Turner, the latest CO of the 110th MP. When he arrives at the office he is arrested on a 16 year old homicide. He also finds out that he may have fathered a child some 15 years ago and a paternity suit has been filed. Reacher is recalled to the army, arrested and put in the same jail where Maj. Turner is also being held on trumped up charges. But, there is no jail strong enough to keep Reacher so he breaks out and goes on a hunt to find the real reason for his troubles. The action is typical of Lee Child. It keeps pulling you into the next chapter. This may not be the best Jack Reacher story but it ranks pretty high. My favorite part is when Turner asks Reacher why he is the way he is. He tells her that he thinks it's in his DNA. His theory is that some humans evolved with a gene that gave them the desire for adventure. This was done, he surmises, to keep the tribe from becoming inbred. The one with the adventure gene would travel and mix the bloodlines. I think it's an interesting analogy of what made people travel to the new world, establish the colonies and move west. Our fore fathers possessed the adventure gene, but unfortunately it has become diluted and too many are now content to sit by the campfire and wait for government cheese.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Head Count

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia beheaded 5 people last month. They were 3 murderers and 2 drug dealers. This brings their year to date total to 58. There doesn't seem to be any impact from the feared shortage of qualified executioners. They have not had to resort to the firing squad yet.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Old Iron Sides

At the end of Bostons Freedom Trail you will find the USS Constitution, the oldest naval vessel still in commission. No, she did not fight in the Revolutionary War but she provided naval power in the War of 1812. You can tour her decks guided by a Navy enlisted person in period uniform. Sometimes the Navy assigns a class of prospective CPOs to spend a week on her for "teambuilding". Every year, they take her out for a "turnaround". This is designed to place her other side to the dock to even out any wear and tear. There is a lottery that you can enter that selects a lucky group of people who will be allowed to be on board during that operation. Although I know my chances are minuscule I enter the lottery every year.

Here is a picture of Red Dog shooting one of her canons.

I noticed something odd about the canons and approached the guide after the crowd had moved away. Did he know that all of the canons had British markings on them? He did and told me that the canons were reproductions and that the British markings were a major error made during her restoration in the early 1900s.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Noisy in the Hood

It seems the naval reserve unit is practicing for their upcoming carrier qualifications. Lots of low and slow air traffic as they do touch and goes. Still, it's not as noisy as a flight taking off on full afterburner. I don't mind the noise. It's the sound of freedom.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Movie Review - Emperor

Tommy Lee Jones as MacArthur. That's gotta be good. Unfortunately, he only had about 15 minutes of screen time during the entire movie and I had to spend my time watching Matthew Fox wander around like a refugee from the "Lost" set. I had expected to see a movie about MacArthur's relationship with the Japanese Emperor during the occupation. What I got was a bad characterization, and not a historically accurate one either, of Gen Bonner Fellers. Gen Fellers was on MacArthur's staff and was charged with investigating the emperor for war crimes. This opened up the opportunity for some dialog accusing the west of being as big an imperialist power as Japan. And, of course, Gen Fellers had a romantic relationship with a Japanese girl before the war and he used his office to try to find her. His investigation culminated with a description of the attempted coup by the militarists once they learned that the Emperor had made a recording about surrendering to the Americans. This was shown as proof enough that the Emperor had resisted the militarists and was therefore not guilty of war crimes.

The actual history, of course, is more complicated. The government had done several studies on Japanese culture during the war that underscored the need to keep the Emperor in place as a pacifying influence on the population. Keeping him was a central part of the occupation planning.

I can't recommend this movie, even if it does have Tommy Lee Jones. It's not a good love story, it's not historically accurate and Fox is not a good actor.

More Counterfeit Stuff from China

The Association of Diving Contractors International has alerted the industry to counterfeit diving helmets. Copies of the well known Kirby-Morgan helmets are being sold and advertised as being "interchangeable" with the brand name helmet. See this link for the press release from Kirby-Morgan. Use of the counterfeit helmet could have deadly consequences. While this will only be of interest to the professional diver, some technical divers may use this equipment and should be on the lookout for it.

Red Dog at the Waterworks Museum

Grandpa took D and I to the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum in Boston. It is a pumping station that pumps water from the reservoir across the street to a reservoir at a higher elevation so that water can flow by gravity to the City of Boston. It was built before 1900 and remained in operation until 1976. If you like old steam engines, this museum has three of them that drove big reciprocating pumps. This is a picture of me next to the mechanism that operated the steam valves on the Worthington-Snow horizontal engine.
The other two engines are big vertical engines that are three stories high. If you are in Boston, the museum is easy to get to. Take the "C" branch of the Green Line to Cleveland Circle (end of line) and then walk straight ahead for 1/2 mile. And best of all, the museum is free.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rule 303

When my weight hit the caliber of an Enfield rifle, I knew I had to do something if for no other reason than to reduce wear and tear on my stainless steel knee. I found a program that several relatives had success with and got on it. It's basically a very low (almost non existant) sugar and carbo diet. Anyway, it's working and I have lost two stones with another 2 stone or so to go.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Red Dog at the Museum of Science

Grandpa took me and the boys to the Boston Museum of Science. While we were there we went to the electrical show. They have the worlds largest air insulated Van de Graaff generator and every hour they turn it on and send lightening bolts arcing through the air. At one point, they had a cute girl get into a Faraday Cage and then they shot lightening bolts at her. But she was perfectly safe. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Slide Rules

We took our grandsons to visit the MIT Museum on our recent vacation. It seems the museum had a display of slide rules and I took the opportunity to teach the boys about an instrument that was now obsolete.
Slide rules make use of logarithms. When working with logarithms, the log of the product of two numbers is equal to the sum of the logs of each number. When Napier invented logarithms in the 1600s this rule was used to simplify arithmetic because the multiplication of large numbers could now be reduced to simple addition. I don't think they teach logarithms any more. Slide rules are just logarithmic scales inscribed on a ruler. You multiply and divide by adding or subtracting lengths on the ruler.

As an engineering student, my slide rule was my constant companion. Indeed, it was one way to identify who was an engineering student. Mine served me well through graduate school in 1974. At that time, calculators were making their way onto the market but they were very, very expensive. For a while, there was a controversy about allowing students to use calculators as it may give them an advantage over poorer students who could not afford one. That didn't last long as soon calculators became cheap.

Lots of stuff was designed and built using slide rules. The scale forced you to think about the accuracy of your calculation as the scale would get cramped in numbers above 5 and you couldn't carry too many decimal places. The term "slide rule accuracy" was a common benchmark. Today, an engineer can calculate out to 6 decimal places but it doesn't mean that his answer is any better than the guy with the slide rule. It also forced you to use scientific notation in order to keep track of the decimal place. A common multiple guess test trick was to provide answers differing only by a factor of 10 to see how well you managed the decimal point.

Slide rules are no longer manufactured. K&E, who made most of them, retired their dies and donated them to the MIT Museum. Knowing how to use them is a useful skill.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Book Review - Light of the World

Dave and Clete and their families, including Alafair and Gretchen (Cletes daughter), are vacationing in Montana. But, as you can guess, bad stuff follows them. Alafair sees a serial killer that she interviewed in prison several years ago. He was not happy with what she wrote about him and is seeking revenge. Also, a teenage girl who had been adopted by a local wealthy family turns up dead and is soon followed by a couple of corrupt local cops. It's hard to imagine a small town in Montana attaining shuch a high body count. Dave and Clete hit the problems in their typical head on style that eventually ends in a fire fight in the mountains. This book takes off from the first page and keeps you interested. Yes, Burke does spend a few paragraphs preaching about the devastation that fracking is visiting on the coutryside, but if you ignore his environmental rants, its a good read.

Head Count

Saudi Arabia beheaded two armed robbers and a murderer for a monthly count of three. It's probably low because of Ramadan. This brings their year to date total to 53. I apologize for the late post. I was on vacation and just got back.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Movie Review - Killing Season

DeNiro. Travolta. One on one shoot 'em up. Should be good, I'm thinking. But I thought wrong. Travolta spends the entire movie with a fake Serbian accent that makes you think he has rocks in his mouth. He was barely understandable. He, oh so realistically, tracks down a man (DeNiro) who shot him during the war and seeks his revenge....in the USA, of course. DeNiro plays a hermit army officer who is guilty of war crimes (against Travolta). Of course, no US soldiers participated in the Bosnian war and the idea that a member of a known Serbian death squad could get into the US is mind boggling.

They spend most of the movie alternately hunting and torturing each other and each one manages to let the other escape so that the games can continue. I only paid $7 to see this in streaming mode from Amazon. Don't pay any more than that to see it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

News from Dubai

A Norwegian woman has been pardoned and allowed to exit the country. Her crime? She was raped.

Yes, the 24 year old interior designer was raped by a co-worker but when she reported the crime to police, she was arrested for "having sex outside the marriage". She was detained and sentenced to 16 months but she was able to get a call home and her parents alerted the embassy. Since the publicity was not going to look good for the Emirate, and because it was Ramadan, she was pardoned.

This, folks, is a simple example of how Islam treats women.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Obama and Race

Obama recently said that what happened to Trayvon Martin could have happened to him. Lets take a look at that statement....

Obama was raised in Hawaii and went to The Punahou School, an elite private school. As a non-Hawaiian living in the islands he would have been called a "haole", a semi-derogative term for non-islanders. At the worst, he would have been called a "hapa haole" or half haole. Note that haole does not differentiate between white or black - it refers only to your Polynesian heritage. So, racially, he would have been lumped in with all the other white people on the island.

Also, as a student at Punahou, he would have been insulated from the racial tension between the Polynesians and haoles normally seen in high schools in Hawaii. When my father moved us to Pearl Harbor in the 60s, he was told that there only two schools for a white boy, Punahou or Radford HS. Radford because it had the majority of the military brats and was mostly white.

Finally, because he was in Hawaii during the era of racial strife in the south, he had no idea of what was going on and by his own admission he was stoned most of the time.

I wish someone would ask him how smoking weed at a prestigious private school in Hawaii means he has any knowledge of the black experience.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan starts today. Be alert.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Energy Return on Investment

Take a look at the chart below.

This chart shows the ratio of energy returned to the amount of energy invested in developing the source. It could be considered a measure of efficiency. You will note that bio-diesel is at the bottom of the curve. It has a ration of about 1.3. Corn ethanol does not do much better. This is because both require a large amount of energy to make and provide only a little more energy than are used to develop them. Hydro is at the top because after an initial investment to build the dam, you can get a continuous source of energy from it.

Scrolling through the chart you can see that nuclear is about 15, wind is about 20, world oil production is about 40 and coal is about 80. The red cross is where experts think shale gas will fall. Shale gas - that's the stuff you get from fracking that the greenies are so against.

If you were investing your money, where would you want to invest it?

Here's another version of the chart.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Head Count

Saudi Arabia, in ramping up to the upcoming lull during Ramadan, beheaded 7 criminals. They were a mix of druggies, murderers and armed robbers. This brings their mid year total to 50. Contrary to concerns about running out of swordsmen and having to revert to the old fashioned firing squad, these were all done in the proper manner of public beheading with the sword.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book review - The Last Battle

The Last Battle tells the history of an obscure fire fight that took place in Austria in early May, 1945. It was unique in that US and German soldiers fought side by side against a determined group of die hard SS troops.

A small castle in an obscure town in Austria was used by Germany as a prison for high value political prisoners. The prisoners, a group of high level French politicians, were housed in relative comfort but were still prisoners of the Reich. There were held as political bargaining chips and included names like Daladier, Weygand, Reynaud and Clemenceau.

When it became clear that the war was lost, the German SS commandant left the prison and the prisoners unprotected. Alerted to the situation by Austrian partisans and fearing that roving bands of die hard SS might act on orders to kill them, an American tanker was ordered to secure the castle and protect the prisoners. When he arrived, he found that a few German soldiers had also decided to protect the French politicians and the two former enemies joined forces against the SS.

This obscure battle in a remote Austrian town had a profound effect on the future but details about it had been lost to history until Stephen Harding's research brought it to light.

Harding spends a great deal of time describing the prisoners and the key players. This makes reading a little slow but it is necessary to set the background for what is to happen. The battle itself was probably rather routine for the time and was relatively short, ending when a larger group arrived and the SS retreated in the face of a superior force. What is unique is that German and US soldiers fought side by side in the last day of the war.

Harding tries to provide an after the war follow up on the people involved. This was easy to do for the French politicians. He was also able to learn a little about the post war life of the US commander. But the life of the other soldiers after the war is unknown.

This is worth reading to learn about a unique piece of history.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Review - Wonderland

Wonderland is the latest of the ghost written Spenser series. The Parker family selected Ace Atkins to write these under Robert's name. It was an excellent selection because I cannot tell the difference between their writing styles when Ace puts on his Robert Parker persona.

Wonderland was the name of an old (and now derelict) amusement park that was located on Revere Beach a little north of Boston. Revere Beach was the place to hang out back in the day. Spencer's friend Henry Cimoli has a condo on the beach. Henry, and his fellow condo owners, are being pressured to vacate their homes and Henry asks Spencer for some help. As is typical of any Spencer mystery, there is much more going on behind the scenes and Spencer, along with new side kick Zebulon Sixkill, jump into the mix of competing casino developers.

You will recall that Zebulon was introduced in the last book written by Robert Parker.

Haaaaand, Salute!

Tom is a long time friend. We have known each other since first grade and have been lucky enough to stay in touch through the years. He emailed recently that his son is now one of the newly minted Second Lieutenants graduated from West Point. After Ranger school, he's probably headed for Afghanistan in 2014. It's good to know that there are still young men like him.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cajun Turnips

Here's a little something my wife dreamed up last night that makes turnips taste good. She deviated from the usual Holy Trinity (green pepper, celery and onions) although it could be modified to include that if one so wished. She did it this way because we are doing a low carb diet that restricts cooked onions (we don't know why, but they do).

3 lg turnips peeled and diced into small cubes
½ diced jalapeno pepper
1 stalk of diced celery
2 Oz Tasso, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
handful of chopped fresh thyme, marjoram and parsley,
2 smashed cloves of garlic
¼ tsp. asefetida
½ tsp. of onion pwd
½ tsp. garlic pwd
½ tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. Splenda
1 cup chicken stock

Put olive oil in a hot pan when oil is hot add Tasso, celery, jalapeno pepper, garlic and asafetida. Fry until fragrant - a couple of minutes. Add chopped turnips and cook, stirring until they are brown. Be  careful not to burn them. After about 6 minutes add chicken stock and all seasonings and fresh herbs, and Splenda and cook until done. When done add ½ cup chopped green onions   Asafetida is a spice substitute for onion and is common in Indian dishes. If you don't have it, add more onion powder.  

Friday, June 7, 2013


Ramadan will start on July 8 this year. This date, along with 9/11, should trigger an automatic increase in the level of security alert for all westerners. Be alert......the world needs more Lerts!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Review - The Broken Places

This is the third in Ace Atkins' series featuring Quinn Colson that started with The Ranger.

Three inmates break out of prison and head to Quinn's home town of Jericho. They want to settle a score with another fellow inmate, Jamie. Jamie had been in prison for murder where he started preaching the gospel to his fellow inmates. He managed to secure a pardon and returned to Jericho to continue his ministry. Quinn and the family of his victim are not happy to see him return but the fact that Quinn's sister is living with him complicates the issue. Everything comes to a head when the escapees come to town and, in the process of settling accounts, leave a trail of bodies and end up in one of the worst tornadoes the area has experienced.

Ace is one of my favorite authors. He should be up there with Sandford, Child, Crais and Connelly. This one has plenty of twists and the action to keep you engaged. While you can follow the story without reading the previous novels, you will understand the characters better if you take the time and do your homework.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Several bloggers have posted that today is the anniversary of the capture of U-505. She is now a museum boat in Chicago. Go pay her a visit.

But what happened to the crew? All but one was captured alive. They had to be kept isolated so that they couldn't alert the Germans that they had been captured and the naval codes compromised. They were sent to a POW camp in Ruston, Louisiana. It so happened that their guards were members of the US Navy baseball team. These guards taught the German submariners how to play baseball and that story can be found in "Playing with the Enemy". Evidently a movie based on the book was in development but it never got into production.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Head Count

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia made up for lost time last month by separating 11 criminals from their heads. This brings their year to date total to 43. Most of them were murderers with an odd druggie thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ready, Aim at Foot, Fire!

New Orleans is a city that depends upon tourism. Therefore, one would think that when an established tour operator suggests a new, family oriented attraction, that the city would jump at the opportunity. But then New Orleans politics and special interests get involved. I watched it happen with pedi-cabs, Segways and food trucks. Now its the Ducks.

Most major cities have Duck Tours. WW II era DUKWs are refurbished and used to take tourists  for rides through the city culminating in a splash into the local water feature. I have been on Duck tours in Boston, San Diego, London and Singapore. In New Orleans, we have a historical tie in with DUKWs with the National WW II Museum. A Duck tour would be a natural for the city.

The operator wants to take tourists on a 2 hour tour driving over to Metairie and launch into Lake Pontchartrain. The Vieux Carre Commission, the body that is charged with overseeing the French Quarter, claims that tourists with duck call noisemakers will detract from the ambiance of the Quarter. (You have female tourists baring their breasts for beads and you're worried about a few noisemakers?) In fact, the tour operator does not plan to drive through the French Quarter. His proposed route is to get out to Canal Street and take that route to the cemeteries. From there he will jump onto I-10 and over to Bonnabel Drive to the boat launch.

But our city council has decided not to decide and postponed approval for "further study."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cajun Horse Trading

A Yankee has moved to a farm in Louisiana and needs a horse. He goes to see Boudreaux to look for a suitable animal. After looking over Boudreaux's herd, he picks one out and asks the price.

"Oh, I don't tink you want to buy dis one. He no look so good.", Boudreaux says.

"Nonsense", replies the Yankee. "He looks fine. I'll take him."

"No", says Boudreaux, "He no look so good."

But after several back and forths and some price negotiation, the Yankee hands over some money, puts the horse in the trailer and drives off.

The next day the Yankee is back and he is spitting mad.

"You sold me a horse that is blind.", the Yankee protested. "I want my money back."

"I tol' you he no look so good!", Boudreaux responded.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Mustang and his Hunting Dog

A Mustang retired after 35 years and realized a lifelong dream of buying
a bird-hunting estate in Alaska. He invited an old Admiral friend to
visit for a week of pheasant shooting. The friend was in awe of the
Mustang's new bird dog, "Chief". The dog could point, flush and retrieve with the very best.

The Admiral offered to buy the dog at any price. The Mustang declined,
saying that Chief was the very best bird dog he had ever owned and that
he couldn't part with him. Six months later the same Admiral returned
for another week of hunting and was surprised to find the Mustang
breaking in a new dog.

"What happened to Chief?" he asked.

"Had to shoot him," the Mustang replied. "Another old shipmate came to
hunt with me and couldn't remember the dog's name. He kept calling him 'Master Chief.' After that, all the dog would do was sit on his butt and bark."

(This joke courtesy of the late Doug Clower, Viet Nam POW from an old email)

Book review - Silken Prey

The title gives this away as the latest effort by John Sandford. Lucas is called by the Governor to investigate some skulduggery in a political campaign. The first thing he uncovers is that a well known political operative has gone radio silent, and to Davenport that smacks of murder. But Lucas can't use his usual technique of beating confessions out of people because the principals in his investigation are in the middle of a political race. So, he has to resort to more subtle means and he calls in his friend Kidd. Yes, the same computer hacker/thief we know and love from Sandfords other series of novels. Kidd is now married and living a legitimate life as an artist - until Lucas calls him out of retirement.

This novel starts a little slow, but trust me, it builds steadily until the last fifty pages when you will not be able to put it down.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


The cable on my NOOK charger gave up the ghost just before my trip to Ohio. Without the NOOK I was faced with reading using old technology. A quick check showed that there was an App for that. The NOOK app gives you access to your entire library. It was easy to download and easy to log in to your NOOK account. While it gives access to your library, it only downloads the books you want. I was worried that reading on the phone might be a problem but everything was cleat and the font big enough to read easily. It has a feature that, if someone else is reading the same book on another device, it will give you the option to jump to that page or stay on the current page. This is useful if you jump back and forth between devices. Battery useage is reasonable. It allowed me several hours of reading time.

Now that I have it on my phone, I will be able to read whenever I have the phone with me.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Energy Game Changer

As I said earlier, I spent last week in Ohio performing HAZOPs on gas pipeline compressor stations. The pipeline system consisted of 4 large diameter (24" - 36") pipelines with compressor stations having about 50,000 HP of compression. The big Cooper Bessemer integral compressors in these stations have been mashing gas for 50 years or more moving it from the south to the north. The operator now plans to reverse the flow and send gas south where it will be liquified, put on LNG tankers and sent overseas.

How is this possible, you ask.

First - The Marcellus Shale
Second - Fracking

Warning: geology geekness follows......rocks have porosity. Some rocks are more porous than others. Most of the oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico comes from sandstones which are porous and have good permeability. Shale are not porous and, in the past, oil and gas found in shale was ignored as being too expensive to recover. Then came fracking. Fracking cracks the rocks along cleavage planes which provides passages for oil and gas to flow to the well bore.

The Marcellus Shale is a massive formation that is in New York and eastern Ohio. It is estimated that it contains over 260 Trillion cubic feet of gas. It has made the northeast almost self sufficient in natural gas. With no need to supply gas to the northeast, this pipeline operator is looking to export the excess. Fracking has been a game changer in the energy market in the northeast.

Friday, May 24, 2013

On The Road

I've been in the Buckeye State near the birthplace of John Glenn doing a HAZOP on a series of gas pipeline compressor stations. For over 50 years these pipelines have been delivering natural gas to the northeast. Now there are plans to reverse the flow and send gas to liquification plants on the Gulf Coast for export. The reason for this?.........fracking. More later about this energy game changer.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Riley, The Incontinent Beagle

Meet Riley, the new addition to my son's family. She is the second stray to find their way to his house where three boys and a soft hearted mother almost guarantee room and board for life. (There must be some sort of hidden hobo dog  signs that guide them there) After a check for chips and tattoos and lost dog posters, it was determined that she had no owner of record and oldest grandson quickly claimed her. They are now inseparable and both seem the happier for it. Even Toby the Shi Tsu was glad to have another one of his kind in the house.

The only problem is that Riley, in adapting to her new surroundings, has a case of incontinence. Have you ever seen a beagle wearing a diaper?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year Old

This scotch is aged in oak casks that were used to age Spanish sherry. This scotch is available in 10 year old, 10 year old cask strength, 18 year old and 25 year old.

Color: Dark Amber
Nose: Sherry, weak
Palate: Gentle
Body: Smooth
Finish: Short but pleasant, warming

I usually don't like scotch that was aged in sherry or wine casks but this one is smooth and palatable. I'm going to kick back with a couple of finger of this in a glass. Slainte.

Welcome to Louisiana

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Head Count

Saudi Arabia found employment for their swordsman last month by beheading 6 murderers. This brings their year to date total executions to 32. But note that only 25 of those were beheaded. The remaining 7 were shot.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bragging Rights

The private school my grandsons attend is one of several tracked by Duke University's Talent Identification Program. Part of the program is for the 7th graders to take the ACT. Middle grandson just got his scores back. He is scoring in the 99th percentile in all areas. That means he has scores that qualify him to enter some of the most elite universities in the country - in the 7th grade! Hell, he scored a 29 in math, some of which he hasn't even had yet! (Remember, these scores are compared to high school seniors)

My wife and I have been trying to convince the parental units that the two older boys need to take a trip up north to see grandpas roots. The Boston bomber worked against that plan but now I see the need to visit a few college campuses. Watch out MIT!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Backyard Oil

If the the activities of Raylan Givens were not enough to convince me never to visit Kentucky, I found another reason - Discovery Channel's Backyard Oil. Backyard Oil is to Adair County what meth is to Harlan County and Marshall Raylan. The only difference is that the characters are real.

The short story is that several hill country farmers have learned that oil may exist about a half mile below the ground. This show follows their antics on trying to get some of that oil and become rich (by Kentucky standards). Lucky for them, they only have to drill about 2,000 feet and that can be done in a day or two with a compressed air drilling rig. They locate their drilling location with dowsing rods and coon dogs. They also show no regard for the environment, letting the blow pipe from the rig blow rock dust and oil all over the landscape. In the episode I saw, the driller was so stupid, he ran out of fuel and didn't know it.

I guess this is just another spin off of Duck Dynasty - a true life Beverly Hillbillies story. If I were on the Kentucky Board of Tourism, I would pay Discovery NOT to show it. Folks, This is not how it is done in the real oil field.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston Bomber Shootout

Instapundit had this link with pictures of the shootout. My first thought was that if those guys had a rifle, they had a perfect flanking shot at the bomber brothers. Sadly, all he had was an non-lethal iPhone. Then I scrolled down and saw the pictures of the holes in his wall. If you map out his orientation, it's pretty clear that the shot that made that hole was fired by the police. The fact that it went through second floor indicates some pretty poor shooting by the police. The fact that it traversed a couple of walls (exterior and interior) proves how powerful this round was. The condition of the car in the driveway is further testament to the number of wild rounds that were fired.

IMHO, there needs to be a review of the police shooting and command and control in this incident. We are all taught that we are personally responsible for any round that leaves our barrel. I am surprised that we didn't have any civilian friendly fire casualties during this shoot out.

The police tell us that they need armored vehicles and special SWAT equipment to deal with modern terrorists. If they have this equipment, my expectation is that they use their armor to advance on and capture the bad guys using only the firepower necessary. But it appears to me that they substituted an extended Mad Minute instead with many of their rounds going wild and endangering the civilian population.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Boston Bombers, The Constitution, and You

I have a Canadian friend who crossed our northern border and became a citizen. During the Clinton administration a census taker knocked on his door and wanted to ask him the myriad of questions that the Democrats wanted answered. He responded by telling the hapless government employee that he had studied the Constitution in order to become a citizen (unlike most Americans) and the only thing he had to tell the government was how many people lived there....and nothing else.

I remembered that story as I watched SWAT teams searching houses in Watertown. I understand the need to find the bombers, but under what authority do the police enter and search your house? I believe that we should have an answer to that question. I thought it was just me until I saw this post by the Bayou Renaissance Man.

What if the government had a registry of all gun owners? You can bet that the database would have been used to identify houses with guns. What if the police decided they needed to secure those guns to keep them out of the hands of the bombers? Never happen you say? Well, that's what happened during Katrina, and even though the police lost their legal case, as far as I know, no guns confiscated during Katrina have been returned.

So, if you want to give up your constitutional rights and voluntarily allow the police into your home, that's up to you. Me, I'd try to limit their incursion to no more than 2 officers instead of the entire SWAT team and I'd go with them. What you do is up to you, but you should put some thought into your reaction because it very well might happen in your neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Claw

What you see is a time lapse series of the fabrication, testing and the first salvage of an offshore platform by The Claw. Designed, built and operated by Versabar, it was intended to pick up junk from the seafloor and minimize the exposure of divers to working at depth. It uses a base frame that can be placed next to the object to be salvaged. The object is then placed on the base frame and lifted. Previously, such a salvage operation would require extensive underwater diving work to attach lift points and rigging.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Paranoia is Setting In

Last year, the National WW II Museum hosted a travelling exhibit from the Holocaust Museum called "Deadly Medicine." It told the story of how the Nazi party used the science of eugenics to create the master race. The first step was finding out the whereabouts of people deemed not worthy to live by virtue of disease, race or mental disorder. Teams of workers went house to house providing free physicals. People thought this was a great idea and complied peacefully. Then they came and told the family that they would take their mentally challenged child away where they could be treated and educated. Of course, it was a one way trip.

When I saw the exhibit, my thoughts turned to Obamacare. Then I thought that it was too far fetched and paranoid to think that way.

Today I read this story over at Ann Althouse about the National Health and Alcohol Study.

Gun owners know that the first step to confiscation is registration and a national data base. What is the government going to do with all that data....and DNA? Maybe you can't be too paranoid.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Head Count Follow Up

One of the murderers executed last month in the Kingdom was a Yemeni man who sodomized his Pakistani victim before killing him. Evidently, this called for extra punishment, so after he was beheaded, he was crucified. I cannot explain why crucifixion AFTER beheading is deemed as extra punishment but it seems to be reserved for really, really bad criminals.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New WW II Museum Exhibits

We had family in town over Easter weekend so we made a trip to the National WW II Museum to see the new exhibits. They have added The Boeing Center building where they now keep their static displays of aircraft and vehicles. The aircraft include a B-17, B-25, SBD Dauntless, TBM Avenger, F4U Corsair, P51 Mustang and a B-24. They are all hanging from the ceiling and can be seen from catwalks. The floor is open for vehicles.

Off to the side, they have the 4D interactive experience "Final Mission", a reenactment of the last hours of the USS Tang. The room is set up to resemble the interior of a submarine, although much more spacious. When you enter, you are given a card with a crew member and his duty position. You will take his position and respond to commands during the 12 minute show. The show compresses the last 5 hour battle of the Tang into 12 minutes and is fairly realistic with vibrations, noises and lights. If you know your history, you know the Tang was sunk by a circular running torpedo. I expected to get a spray of water in the face when the torpedo struck but all they did was theatrical smoke. It will be good fun for the kids and is not as scary as it sounds.

I was told by one of the volunteers that the new GI Joe movie used several vehicles from the museum. Their ME 109 reproduction is supposed to be in the film.

The museum is growing. If you plan to visit, you will now need almost an entire day to see it all.

George Orwell was Right - But just a Little Early

Read the news today and you can learn that the Associated Pres (AP) is removing the term "illegal immigrant" from its style book. It's beginning to sound eerily like "1984", although George Orwell may have been about 30 years early in his prediction. Newspeak was the language of the times. Keep watching the liberal press for more current day examples. Perhaps you can invent a drinking game (drink a shot every time you hear "man caused disaster" or "overseas contingency operation") or play Newspeak bingo. For more examples of newspeak, go to the Newspeak Dictionary.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Head Count

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia executed 10 people last month. However, only 3 were beheaded. These guys were convicted of murder. The remaining 7 were convicted of armed robbery and they were shot. This may be the beginning of a change in execution method due to the lack of qualified swordsmen in the KSA.

Total number of executions in Saudi is now 26, but only 19 of them were public beheadings.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New Hampshire Shenanigans Follow Up

The NH House narrowly voted (189 to 184) to pass HB 135 which repeals New Hampshire's stand your ground law. The bill will now go to the Senate where the GOP has a slight majority.

To me, as a 6 decades plus old male with an artificial knee, I will not be able to retreat from ANY confrontation. This law will only embolden criminals who will now think they can confront you with impunity and not worry about the threat of immediate gun fire.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

More Counterfeit Stuff

Read about counterfeit USCG approved fire extinguishers here!

USS Miami Follow Up

The guy that started the fire aboard the USS Miami was sentenced last week, He received 17 years and a fine of $400 million. Of course, the fine is mostly symbolic because it's doubtful that he will become Bill Gates rich in federal prison.

Also, given sequester, the Navy is currently evaluating repairs to the boat. Estimates are that repairs could cost $500 million and would give the Miami another 10 years of service. It is doubtful if the boat will be repaired.

All it takes is one nut with a match to affect our national security.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ocean Engineers Needed

You may not be aware of the role rare earth metals play in modern technology but we would not have the gadgets we find so important if it were not for these obscure elements of the periodic table. The problem is that most of them are in China and the Chinese have leveraged them to drive their own economy. They refuse to export them and forced manufacturers to build plants within China if they wanted to use their rare earth metals.

Now the Japanese have found and alternative source. It 's deep ocean nodules and sea bed mud. This could drive an expansion of sea bed mining and, as these elements are in the deep ocean, it will require a new class of offshore vessel and development of technology to recover these minerals from depths of 15,000 feet or greater. Ocean Engineers will be needed.

Those of you who know submarine history will recall that the CIA used deep ocean mining as the cover story for the Glomar Explorer and their salvage of a Russian submarine.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale

The Yankee Government held a lease sale yesterday for offshore tracts in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama was able to add $1.2 Billion, with a "B", to the government cash register. That's in one day. A total of 52 oil companies submitted 407 bids on 320 leases. The high bidders were:

ExxonMobil: 7 high bids totalling $220 million
Shell: 38 high bids totalling $140 million
BHP Biliton: 24 high bids totalling $107 million

Remember, this is money the oil industry is willing pay just for permission to drill. There is no promise of success, no government subsidies and no bailouts. If they find oil or gas, they will then have to fund the development and pay the Yankee Government a royalty for everything they produce. If they get a dry hole, the money is gone.

Can anyone show me a "green energy" company willing to take on those kinds of risks? Well, T Boone did and he lost his shirt.....but he has plenty of shirts he bought with oil money.

Now, think how much more money Obama could get to fund his socialist schemes if he just opened up drilling!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Energy Game Changer Follow Up

An Ocean Engineering friend of mine from Scripps saw my news about the methane hydrate well test and sent me this email.

15 or so years ago, while I was at TAMU, I had an interesting discussion with the lady who headed the DOE research lab in Pittsburgh She was wildly enthusiastic about one of her major research programs --- how to acquire all those methane icecubes on and in the deep offshore sediment. I snorted derisively, which seemed to upset her, and she launched into a sales pitch that included assumptions of huge deposit densities based upon interpretation of (at that time, at least) seismic layering as monster seams of methane hydrate. I made a succinct evaluation of her solution to the energy problem. I boldly stated "Never in my lifetime will you deliver a single cubic foot of gasified methane hydrate into a commercial pipeline". I'm still here and that still holds.
He may be right, and I admit that I still remain skeptical, but I've seen a couple things happen during my career that make me say, "Let's wait and see". One day back in the early 90s we had a visit from the top guy in the E&P organization. He had a meet and greet with the worker bees and I was nominated to attend. During his talk, he was asked about deep water. He responded that he was watching Shell and did not believe their economics. Clearly, we would not follow into deep water developments. Then a geologist asked him about sub salt plays. Evidently, there were big reserves suspected to lie under the massive salt sheath. Seismic could not, at that time, penetrate the salt to see what was under it. He replied that he did not believe in sub salt.

Fast forward about 10 years and deep water developments are the main plays in the Gulf of Mexico. Forward another 10 years and I'm working on a deep water play offshore Brazil that was drilled into.......wait for it........a sub salt reservoir.

So, what are the implications? If hydrates are real, it will mean a continuing supply of cheap, clean natural gas. This could drive a stake into the heart of Green Energy projects by keeping them non-economical for at least another generation. Don't buy any windmill stocks.

As the noted philosopher J. Garcia has said, "What a long strange ride it has been".

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More NH Shenanigans

New Hampshire leges will vote on HB 135 on Wednesday, March 20. HB 135 is a bill that eliminates the 2011 provision allowing a person to use deadly force anywhere he or she has a right to be, (negatively) amends the definition of non-deadly force, and repeals the provision granting civil immunity for the use of force in certain circumstances. If you live in NH and want to keep your right to live free, you need to contact your representative.

I'm afraid this is a result of good intentions that will have unintended consequences. But, as Daniel Webster said, "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Energy Game Changer

Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. announced that they are testing a well drilled into methane gas hydrates. While this is only a well test, and experimental in nature, if the technology can be advanced to full production, it will unlock a source of natural gas currently unavailable for use. It will be a game changer in the energy business and will dash the hopes and dreams of the Green Energy proponents into the dirt by keeping natural gas prices cheap.

Hydrates are a frozen mix of natural gas and water and occur naturally at certain temperatures and pressures. I blogged about them earlier. Go there to read about the burning snowball.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

More Bad Stuff from China

A safety alert came across my desk concerning polyester lifting slings from China. The slings are supposed to have a red colored yarn in the center. If you can see that red yarn, it is an indication that the sling is damaged and should not be used. One contractor happened to notice that the red yarn was absent and, upon further checking (and destructive examination), found that none of their slings had the warning yarn. An immediate notice was sent out to stop using any polyester slings manufactured in China.

The slings in question were sold by S-Line, a major supplier of lifting and tie-down gear to the transportation industry.

I've blogged before about the quality of Chinese manufactured goods. A label that says "Made in China" should send off warning bells.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Swordsmen Needed in the KSA

There is a story on the internet, as yet unconfirmed, that Saudi Arabia is considering replacing public beheadings with shootings. It seems there is a lack of qualified swordsmen. Shooting is evidently acceptable under Sharia Law and would solve the current problem of the lack of executioners skilled in beheadings.

You can be sure that I will follow this developing story.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Filibuster

I had Rand Paul's filibuster on in the background on my computer yesterday. To me, it was an inspiring performance and a useful one as well. I was gobsmacked to hear our Attorney General try to equivocate on the Bill of Rights and the idea that the government could justify killing an American citizen on US soil without due process. (Yes, I know they did it at Kent State and got away with it) But it still makes me cringe that Holder's response wasn't an immediate "Sir, NO Sir!" and that Ted Cruz had to coax that out of him.

Today I read that the older senators (McCain and Graham) didn't agree with the filibuster. (They were off have din-din with Obama) To them I say, it's time for you to go. You have out lived your usefulness and you should retire.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Head Count

Saudi Arabia beheaded 7 criminals last month (murderers and druggies). This brings their 2 month year to date total to 16 heads. It appears that the Kingdom is starting the year off with a splurge of executions.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Alumni Giving

It has started again. Last night I got a phone call and today I got an email requesting donations. I am tired of people who don't know how to economize asking for more money. Therefore, I sent the following response back to the email:

I was excited to receive your offer to donate to XYZ University. I was excited because it gave me a chance to offer something of value back to the university, something that XYZ gave me when they educated me – my experience. I have spent almost 40 years in industry. Twenty of those years was in a major oil company. The main thing that we did during those 20 years was cut costs and reorganize in response to weak oil prices. I survived reorganizations, downsizings and budget cuts that occurred on an almost annual basis. I know how to economize in lean times. Therefore, I am offering the following:

I would be willing to consult to XYZ University and perform a detailed budget review with the goal of cutting operating and capital expenses by at least 10%. I would be willing to do this for a small hourly consulting fee which I am sure the university will find reasonable given the potential savings I could produce. When these cost savings are in place, the universities need for donations should decrease. Allow me to bring the real world of industry to the halls of academia and help you to get lean and mean.

I look forward to your prompt response.

I wonder what I will get back???

Roses for Valentines Day and Engineering Geekery

The other day, my wife looked over at me and said, "Honey, don't order flowers from the florist this year."
"Okay", says I, "But why? I thought you liked her work?"
"Oh, you are ordering me flowers, but they will be roses of the bare root variety."

Looks like I have a post Valentines Day appointment with a shovel.

In other Valentines Day trivia (for engineering nerds), it's George Ferris' birthday, which you will know if you use Google. Ferris built the very first Ferris Wheel. He won a competition put on by by the 1893 Chicago Exposition to design something to surpass the Eiffel Tower. His wheel stood about 265 feet high and could carry 2160 people. While it did out shine the Eiffel Tower for a short time, it didn't have Eiffel's longevity. It was moved twice after the exposition but could not find a long term home and was finally blown up in 1903 for scrap. However, its construction did mark a few engineering firsts, one of which was the largest single hollow forging (the axle - 71 tons, 45.5 feet long). You have to be a metal monger geek to appreciate that.

If you want to learn more about how the Chicago Exposition promoted technology, and enjoy a good murder mystery, go read "Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Review - Suspect

The latest book by Robert Crais. He introduces two new characters in this police novel. One is a policeman who survived a shooting where his partner was killed and the other is a police dog whose handler was killed in Afghanistan. Both are gimpy and heavily affected with PTSD but carry on in spite of their problems. The cop, Scott James, rather than take a medical retirement joins the K9 unit where he meets Maggie, who is on the cusp of being cut from the training program.

Crais does a wonderful job of developing both characters. Some of the most interesting chapters are when he puts the reader in the mind of Maggie and you get a little feeling of what it must be like to see things through a dogs eyes. If you are a dog person, you will find these chapters interesting.

The plot takes you from the bonding between Scott and Maggie and then how Scott, with Maggies great nose, tracks down an obscure lead related to his shooting. This book clamps on you and won't let go, sorta like the bite of a German Shepherd.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


This is a picture of the arrival of a new TLP (Tension Leg Platform) Hull at Corpus Christi where it will be mated with its deck and production equipment. It will be installed in 3,000 feet of water and will produce 100,000 barrels of oil per day starting in 2014. We have BIG toys in the oil business. (click to embiggen so you can appreciate the whole thing)

Keystone Pipeline....er, Railroad?

I lead a HAZOP recently on a facility that would offload oil from rail cars and pump it to barges for transport. It seems that there is a glut of oil out there and not enough pipeline capacity to move it to refineries. Therefore, this operator is planning to ship crude oil in tank cars.

As they say, what's old is new again. The industry has not used rail cars to ship crude oil since before 1900 and the days of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. In fact, John D pioneered shipping in pipelines as a way to avoid rail tariffs. Pipelines have since become the most economical and safest way to transport oil and oil products.

Environmentalists have blocked construction of new pipelines, so the industry has had to find alternatives. This facility is designed to offload more than 120 rail cars simultaneously and pump the oil to a barge on the river or to a storage tank. Each tank car connection has to made, by hand, by a man who has to crawl under the rail car. Every one of those connections is a potential leak point. And think about the condition of the nations rail system. A train of over 100 tank cars travelling from, say, North Dakota through the small towns of America to south Louisiana. How often do you hear about derailments? I know, we already transport dangerous chemicals by rail, but I don't think we have over 100 cars of the stuff at one time!

I hope that my HAZOP served to make the operation a little safer. But I think the environmental lobby is stupid for blocking construction of new pipelines and thereby increasing the risk of an accident and oil spill.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Offshore Platform FAIL

This is a recent video of an Iranian platform sinking into the Persian Gulf. It appears that the structure had just been set and it looks to me as if the sea floor collapsed on one side and over she went!

Flinging Manure, Shovelling Shyte

It's Spring in south Louisiana and time to get the rose beds prepped for the season. It's been several years since my wife and I have worked the beds and it was time to improve the soil. Our zoo sells a product that the animals provide for free. It's a composted mix of elephant, zebra and ostrich dung with some plant clippings and coffee grounds thrown in. It's called Zoo Doo Gold. We mix 1 bag of that with 2 bags of commercial topsoil mix and add a couple handfulls of cotton seed meal for a nitrogen kicker. I mixed and spread over 1 ton of that stuff last weekend.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Head Count

Saudi Arabia executed 9 people in January. They were a mix of drug users and murderers. One was a woman. Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan housemaid, was executed for the "murder" of a 4 month old baby left in her care. The prosecution claimed she killed the child after an argument with the childs mother. She claimed the child choked during feeding and the death was an accident. An autopsy to determine cause of death was not performed. Her case captured international attention and requests for amnesty. Unfortunately, cooler heads did not prevail and she was beheaded on Jan 9.

In related news, there is an obscure news story that Saudi Arabia commuted the sentences of 1200 death row inmates if they would fight against the Assad regime in Syria. I guess the Saudis saw "The Dirty Dozen" too many times.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This is Progress?

Congressman Alan West has joined Pajamas Media with a show called "Next Generation". He posted this score card for reference.

All I can do is shake my head in wonder.......wonder that we re-elected Obama.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hornets Morphing into Pelicans

The new name for the basketball team formally known as the New Orleans Hornets has been announced. They will become the Pelicans. This was done to give the team a name more indicative of the region, to honor an old baseball team of the same name and because the brown pelican is the state bird.

But somehow, I can't visualize a pelican as embodying the grace, speed and accuracy that the game of basketball represents. And it reminds of an old poem that used to hang in the family cottage by the lake when I was a child:

A strange old bird is the pelican.
Its bill can hold more than its belly can.
It can hold in its beak,
Enough food for a week.
Although I don't know how the hell he can!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Root Cause Analysis

When engineers do a failure investigation one of the tools we us is called Root Cause Analysis. The idea is to get to the ultimate reason for the failure. One of the techniques used is called "The 5 Whys." You keep asking "why" until you cannot go any further. Usually about 5 times will do it. Here's an example of the 5 whys in practice.

In the mid-70's I was living in Japan as one of the owners representatives for new construction in a Japanese shipyard. I worked with an older Japanese gentleman who we shall call Ishimoto. Ishimoto was a pilot during the war and had a bad back. One day I asked, "Ishimoto-san, how did you hurt your back?"
"Plane crash" was the answer.
"Why did your plane crash?" I asked.
"Run out of gas." he replied.
"Why did you run out of gas?"
"American shoot holes in gas tank!"

And so we come to the root cause of Ishimoto's bad back.

Chicago of the South

There were five people shot shortly after the MLK parade yesterday. One of them is now dead. It's ironic because Louisiana law makes it illegal to carry a firearm (even if you have a concealed carry permit) on the route of a parade permitted by the city. Of course, that little legal item doesn't deter the criminally minded from doing just that. Parades, after all, are where you can find your rivasl and gun them down. These guys were planning to murder someone, do you think violating a state gun law will make them think twice?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Kabuki Theater

If you look at almost any news agency - right, left, or Martian - they all have headlines about Obama's "Executive Orders" on gun control. The interesting thing is that none of them, zero, are Executive Orders.

An Executive Order is numbered and published in the Federal Register. You can look them up. What Obama did was issue three (3) "Executive Memorandums" and a bunch of other non binding "notes". The Executive Memorandums are considered to have the same weight as an Executive Order but they are not published in the Federal Register. That probably makes it more difficult to find in the public record and therefore not easy to find and track progress. For example, you can't reference it when making regulations like you can an Executive Order. ("pursuant to Executive Order xxxxx......") Those other things were basically a Presidential "to do" list and have no legal standing.

If you read carefully, you will see that they always talked about Obama taking "executive action". Everyone just jumped to the conclusion that he intended to issue "Executive Orders". He didn't.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe that he wants to ban guns, but this last bit of theater was strictly Kabuki and didn't come close to overturning the Constitution. I think he was sending a recon party out on gun control. He wanted to test public (and party) reaction without putting himself at risk of being overturned by the Supremes.

In short, he was bluffing. Why didn't he get called on it?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Korean Food

The oldest grandson had been expressing an interest in trying Korean food. NOLa only has one Korean restaurant and, since he was the only on in his family interested, we had to find a time when we could cull him from the herd without his brothers feeling left out. The stars aligned on Saturday so we headed out to Korea House.

We started with steamed dumplings and a hot kim chee and tofu appetizer. My wife and grandson had bulgogi while I opted for dak bulgogi, which is the chicken version. Of course, we had a selection of different kim chee to sample. Cooked it all at the table on a charcoal grill.

Since I had spent several months in Seoul and Ulsan, I knew what to expect but the neophytes proclaimed that they enoyed it as well. We'll be back.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Book Review - The Panther

The latest release by Nelson DeMille. I really like DeMille. My favorite book is "The Charm School" about a training facility in Russia where US servicemen captured in Vietnam are held prisoner and used to train Russian agents to be more "American" and blend in as deep cover agents. My other favorites are "Plum Island" and "Up Country".This last book joins that group.

This is a continuation of the character John Corey, the NYPD detective that is seconded to the FBI anti-terrorist squad. They are looking for a homegrown terrorist that is operating out of Yemen. Corey has been there before to investigate the USS Cole bombing. He had also killed another terrorist known as The Lion (another book worth reading) and was therefore known to Al Qaeda. He is sent to Yemen to track down and kill The Panther. He is not only the hunter, but he is the bait as well. But wait, the CIA is involved and nothing is as it seems.

It is an excellent read and difficult to put down at the end. DeMille also brings back Paul Brenner (from The General's Daughter) in this book. I suspect we will see more of the Corey-Brenner combination.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

More New Hampshire

In an earlier post, I told about a state representative who wanted to change the state laws so it became less attractive for people to move to NH for personal freedom. Now another representative wants to change the rules for use of deadly force.

NH House Bill 135 will "Eliminate the provision allowing a person to use deadly force anywhere he or she has a right to be." In other words, it requires you to retreat unless you are in your own home. The perpetrator of this is Stephen Shurtleff from the Merrimac 10th District.

If this keeps up, I'll have to renounce the state of my birth.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I've been in Houston leading a HAZOP. Those of you in the engineering or construction fields will be familiar with them, but sometimes I think it stands for Herding  Asleep, Zombified, and Oblivious People. This group, however, was an exception to the rule. The team was small and they were driven to finish the exercise instead of second guessing and attempting to re-design the facility. The facility in question was a natural gas storage facility. Excess natural gas (you know, the stuff produced from that evil fracking) is stored in an underground reservoir until it's needed by the Yankees during winter. Then the gas is withdrawn and sent north in pipelines. There are lots of these types of projects going on, both here and in Europe. Passing gas is where it's at these days.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Is Confiscation Even Possible?

Some of our politicos are talking about the outright confiscation of guns. Ignoring the legal issues for the moment, is that even remotely feasible?

There are some 300 million guns in the United States. What would be required to confiscate them? Well, lets assume that each gun owning household has, on the average, 10 guns. That means that authorities would have to physically go to 30 million houses to collect their guns. Lets assume you send 2 guys (because the confiscating officer will need a backup) to each house and that it takes about 1 hour to collect the guns. That is a 60 million man-hour task - or about 30,000 man-years. If you are going to be effective, the confiscation has to be done quickly. So lets further assume that those 30,000 man-years must be expended in 1 month! That means you have to recruit an army of 360,000 officers to confiscate guns. Somehow, given the competency of our government, I can't see this happening.

And then there is civil disobedience. Once people see confiscation taking place, they will hide their guns. Only a very few will voluntarily turn in their guns. Remember the lessons of Nazi Germany. When Jewish citizens turned in their private guns, they were typically arrested and sent to a concentration camp.

Guns are private property and the government cannot take private property from you unless you are compensated. Sure, the government can afford it, but think of the organization they would have to build to process the payments. Their track record in Katrina, Rita and Sandy demonstrate what a poor job they do in handing out emergency money. Why would gun compensation be any different?

Finally, go back and read the law suits stemming from gun confiscation during Katrina. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that this is clear case law that the politicians should study before they start talking about confiscation. It was tried and the courts slammed them hard.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Resolution

One of my resolutions is to acquire an M1 Garand via the Civilian Marksmanship Program. I'm not interested in a collector grade model and don't really care if it has been repaired as long as it is serviceable and can shoot straight. I'd appreciate any comments from folks who have had experience purchasing an M1 through the CMP. For example, what grade rifle would you suggest if all I want is to take it to the range a few times a year?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Head Count

Saudi Arabia finished of the final month of the year with only 4 beheadings - all murderers. This brings their total number of executions for 2012 to an even 70.