14 October 2014

RBAR Road Trip!

Photo courtesy SandCastle Son  c2014
We took a weekend road trip to the Red Bull Air Races and hang out with my cousin & family.

The course itself didn't look terribly exciting compared to some they've come up with in the past, but considering the venue, it still promised much exciting racing.

Saturday was a beautiful day only a bit hot due to the harsh Sun.  We arrived around 1030-1100 to watch some pilots practice a bit.

Then reviewing the schedule, discovered we'd arrived about 3 hours too early.  That meant a lot of time standing around in precious shade avoiding the sun and purchasing exorbitantly priced food  & drink just to ward off heat stroke and dehydration.  The food wasn't just bad, it makes the pre-cooked stuff at your corner gas station five star cuisine by comparison.  And of course they don't allow any outside food or drink.

Protip: Pack a cooler for lunch and leave it in the car.   Then plan a midday tailgate! (in & outs are allowed on the ticket).

Finally the qualies started.  to my grand amusement,  one of the announcers clearly is not familiar with speed units "Knots"  (abbreviated kts).  The announcer breathlessly called out starting speeds as "197 knots per hour!", or "199 kilometers per hour".  He'd occasionally get it right and just call it "knots".   For those unfamiliar as our announcer, suggest check reference 9b here.  The SCQueen suggests his normal job is probably announcing American motor races, not international air races.  Methinks she's on to something...

So with the Sunday schedule in mind, we arrived much later with the intent of catching the actual racing.  The flags standing at full attention provided the first clue something was amiss indicating a stiff wind.  The pylons are intentionally made of a very flimsy material so that an inadvertent touch will not harm the aircraft.  But in windy conditions it makes for pylons that dance around quite a bit.  this is especially a problem for the air gates where they seem to simultaneously either bend together or apart.  My cousin pulled out his smart phone and checked winds at Nellis AFB.  The ASOS was reporting winds 0, calm.   We disbelieve!  North Las Vegas (VGT) told a more realistic story, some 26G30.

The first two pilots both clipped a pylon or two, though the next several raced clean, truly a testament to their skills.  Still  the decision was made to suspend qualies due to the winds.  It was about time for us to leave due to travel constraints.  As we headed out to the car, the wind in my face felt  even stronger, I'd guess pushing 40 kts.  I mused... "I wonder what makes them think the winds are going to die down any time soon."   (long discussion on what causes those winds and when might they end interesting only to weather geeks omitted.  couple hints; "air masses" and "not today buster!")

And sure enough, the winds never did ease enough to resume racing.  So our call to leave early was proven correct.  And we were not alone in leaving after qualies were suspended.  Legions accompanied us to our cars.

Race organizers offer 50% off tickets to next year's race due to the lack of racing.  Quite frankly this surprised me as they did not even come close to filling the seats.  I'd guess 10% capacity at best and fully expected their decision would be "well this was a bust, let's regroup next year!"  Also weather conditions in this area go through a major shift mid October where daily high temps will drop from mid-hi 90's to mid-hi 70's over a period of three days.  They need to push it back a week on the calendar.  But no...  2015 is already on the calendar

I'll probably sign up for the "refund".  Though it's really a  credit towards next year's event, assuming it does.  They say it's on the schedule, but with such a dry turnout, what will be different next year?

This episode of the RBAR will air on Monday Oct 27 at 7PM ET/4PM PT on Fox Sports 1.

The well worn curse...

"may you live in interesting times"  played out last Friday AM.

The SandCastle Queen and I ventured a few miles South to rent a car for a weekend road trip.  This is a storefront car rental operation, nowhere near the airport.  We'd reserved a car online so we were expected.

While going through the preliminaries of presenting ID & credit cards, the rental agency phone rang.  We only hear one side of the conversation,  "No I can't release that information, my company is very strict about that...  hang on a second".  [he continues processing our transaction]"Who are you with?"  "What names are you interested in".... "okay... hang on a bit, I'm with a customer right now."

A minute or two later a young hispanic guy (HG) walks in and gingerly takes the chair by the door while we continue our transaction.  A minute or two later he asks to use the bathroom.   I'm thinking "interview"? He quickly continues "I'm here to rent a car."  The guy behind the counter (GBC)  asks for his name.  I do not recall the name but the GBC tells him, "Oh we just talked on the phone and as I mentioned, we are out of cars.   Come back after Noon."

The HG turns and walks out... exposing the 1911 on his right hip.  Now AZ is an open carry state so no freakout on anyone's part.   GBC picks up the phone and says "one of them just came in"...  "OK, hang on"

We head out to check out the car we are renting... The HG is lurking in the corners of the parking lot with a couple friends.  The car looks good 'cept the GM badge in back is crooked.  The SCQueen asks the GBC if we should call 911 for him.  "No need they are watching these guys and they have eyes on".

The GBC made some comment about the HG wearing a gun.  I commented "But you have yours too, right?  "no.. company rules".   Scanning the area, the HG & friends are gone,

I tried to put a bug in his ear,,, "What us more important?"  "This job or your life?"  Thinking "Dude, You are out here all alone,  Should something happen, you are dependent on the folks at the Sprint store next door or the kids working Arbys store to come to your aid."  And then how long before how long before help shows up?  See also, realtors of Texas.

Arizona is under a manhunt right now.  An LEO was shot in the face a couple days ago and these guys may or may not be connected.  Equally possible these guys are running drugs or involved with any such criminal activity,

Returning the car Monday AM, we inquired about the HG.  Nothing came of it.  "He never came back."  And nothing in the news.  Guess it never happened.

06 October 2014

DGC update

503: three badguys invade a home while grandma makes breakfast for the grand children.  Adult son hears the commotion and comes out shooting.  One DRT and two on the run!  And that works for me...

504 & 505: Four bad guys enter a Texas bar but a good guy within is carrying and sends two to the final roundup.  Catch is, the bar is posted no weapons allowed, felony penalties apply.  Needless to say the sign didn't stop the bad guys.  Fortunately it didn't stop the good guy either.  I hope this ends up "no billed" on the good guy and failing that "There's not a jury in Texas that would convict a good guy in a case like this"  and the prosecutor declines to pursue charges.

01 October 2014

DGC update

DGC 499:  Teens break into home, one dies of a case of lead poisoning.

Normally I'd be cheer a headline like that, but this may be a case of four lives thrown away for peanuts.  What'd they expect to score in the invasion?

The teens were enrolled in a welding program at the local technical school.  Certified welders are in high demand and they would have a job on graduation day.  Just ask Phil @ RNS.

Instead, one dead and three facing murder charges (Felony murder rule) which a timely 911 call probably could have avoided.  The wasted potential makes me sad.

Kids, remember this case.  The choices you make today will affect the rest of your life.  A felony at 18 means limiting your employment prospects, no voting (mebbe) and never touching a gun.

DGC 500: 11YO shoots man stabbing her mom.
Good on the 11YO and whoever taught her to use a gun!  Update the attacker survived.  No DGC for you.  (Still good shooting and I'm glad the 11YO was there and stopped the attack.

DGC 500 & 501:  three bad guys attempt to rob a gas station attendant.  He pulls the gun openly carried on his hip and returns fire, killing two of the three.

Let me say that again ... OPENLY CARRIED ON HIS HIP...  Wow... did these guys sleep through "the interview" class in bad-guy school?

The Good guy took some hits to the legs & hip, but nothing life threatening.  Heal fast good-Guy!

Via The Blaze which includes this gem
Everybody knew all the employees carry a gun!
How did they miss that?  If they catch the third guy, he'll likely get the Felony-Murder rule treatment as well.

DGC 502: I Shot My Stalker! (Via Bearing Arms)

Woman shoots a man who has been stalking her for six months and just kicked he way through her door, past the chair backing up the deadbolt.  Good Shooting! i am so glad you were armed and able to stop this guy when clearly the police couldn't/wouldn't.

And a side note, if they took your gun as evidence, as I hear this is often the case, I hope you have procured another!

Sigh, so many DGCs, so little time.  Seems there were others but these are the one I can recall today.

Update 03oct:  I misread the story of the 11YO - the attacker survived.  Also, the gas station attendant gts two DGC credits.

09 September 2014

DGC plus three

Web wanderings today bring us another three DGC stories.

Yesterday via Fox59  via Bearing Arms: a bad guy tries the old ATM double withdrawl  (good guy withdraws cash from ATM, bad guy attempts to withdraw cash from good guy).   But talk about a poor choice of location, the ATM is across the street from IMPD West End Police HQ where officers are having roll call and hear the shots.  they came running and found one dead, one wounded.

Note the ATM is in front of a Kroger grocery store.  As BA notes, hopefully this will wake up shoppers to the need to carry a gun and why Kroger should not make itself a gun free zone.


Next from Omaha we have the story of a father at home with his 4 YO daughter.  The doorbell rang twice and before dad could get to the door, the BadGuy has kicked it in.  Fortunately Dad has his gun and shoots the intruder.

Today we learn the shooting has been ruled justified.

Good shooting Dad!

DGC: 497

And finally from WRAL in South Carolina  again via Bearing Arms:
A homeowner shot and killed a masked man early Sunday who had broken into the Timberlake home, aimed a shotgun and demanded money, authorities said.
Fortunately the good guy shot first.  It must have been a good shot as he didn't survive the helicopter trip to the trauma center and into surgery.

The remaining question is will the now dead bad guy's girlfriend be charged under the felony-murder rule.  She was found driving in the area at the time, but can they tie her to the crime?

DGC: 498

08 September 2014

It was a dark and stormy night...

No really it was.

Doppler RADAR was clear about 0030 but the noise of the rain on the roof woke me from a dead sleep around 0220.  To say it rained cats and dogs would be an understatement. Let's go with tigers and wolves for now.  The first band moved off by 0300 followed by another around 0630 and a third around 0830 as I headed to work.  Local news reports Phoenix Sky Harbor logged 3.69" rain and surrounding communities reported 5" give or take.

Streets were flooded.  Case in point, SandCastle Street:
Photo credit SandCastle Queen c2014
The SCQueen waded in about a foot of water to take this picture.

It helps to understand Arizona laws regarding water retention.  I've been told* Arizona state law requires a land owner to retain any and all water that falls on his property, on his property.  This helps recharge the ground water and simplifies city provided storm run-off management.  While communities that regularly receive a surplus of water they can easily divert storm surplus out to sea,  We live in  desert and every bit of water that falls upon us is precious should be saved for the future.

Now it's not terribly practical for each home owner residing on a sub-acre lot of suburbia to comply. Instead each section of suburbia has a low spot that the storm run-off drains to, also called retention basin.

Our community retention basin is 90 degrees to the right of the above picture and  750 ft down the street seen here:
Photo Credit SandCastle Queen c2014
The retention basin is about the furthest you can see in the shot above.  The four tall palm trees just right of the close in palm at the left edge is in the retention basin.

360 days a year the retention basin is conveniently disguised as an inviting grassy park.  Ours even has a sand covered tot play area and a sports court with basketball rims.  5 days a year it's a small pond after typical summer thunder-boomer.  Once or twice a century that "pond" overflows and the local drains backup into the street.

Like this:
Photo Credit SandCastle Queen c2014
The water retention basin is to the left, sports court close edge marked by the basketball hoop.  The rest of the retention basin heads off about 500' to the left.

The main street bends off to the right of the fire hydrant towards the previous pic.

Judging by the fire hydrant, the sidewalk is about a foot underwater.  The street another half foot below that.  The basket ball rim suggests the sports court is about 4 feet deep and there are deeper parts of the park than that.  Some residents near the park reported 4" water in their homes.

Compared to many other parts of the country, 4-6 inches of rain over a couple hours is a normal summer rain shower, or just the opening bids of a hurricane.  But places like that have storm run off systems to deal with that kind of run-off on a regular basis.

This was one for the record books in these parts!

* IANAL and I haven't bothered to research the relevant ARS.  But it makes sense to me.

01 September 2014

DGC + 1 2

This is the kind of headline I like to read:
"...Homeowner shoots, kills burglary suspect"
 Two guys break in and hold two women and an 11 YO at gunpoint.  Guy sleeping in the back of the house wakes up and comes out shooting.

The comments are refreshing in that there wasn't much attempt to paint the intruders as choirboys.  

DGC: 494

And I just spotted another one At Albuquerque Journal via Breitbart:  Badguy robs a DQ, but isn't satisfied with the take and keeps pointing the gun demanding more.  GoodGuy comes around the corner and shoots the bad guy.

Fortunately the right people are alive and the aggressor is not.  Obvious question is whether corporate will have anything to say about it.  I hope the word is "Thank you" or "good shot", but all too often the word is "You're fired".  We'll keep an eye on this one.


Update:  The bad guy's name has been released.  The story includes this gem:
Sergeant Aaron Williamson said he has an extensive criminal history.