Friday, February 26, 2010

KC-X is ON

It's ON.

The great race for the next Air Force Arial Tanker Replacement Aircraft or KC-X is ON. The Final version of the RFP hit the street on Wednesday this last week and both competitors are busily pulping trees for the paper they will need for their submissions. The DOD claims they made hundreds of changes to appease the two suspected offers. Time will tell.

Both parties are claimed to be upset. The Northrop Grumman/EADS/Airbus complained earlier that the Draft RFP leaned towards a replacement of the KC-135 airframe which they feel reflects more the Boeing product not theirs. They had threatened to throw a temper tantrum and go off sulking on some corner sucking on their thumps. Collectively.

Meanwhile Boeing was laying down the crocodile tears and still moaning about the fact no one dared address the illegal subsidy issue that Airbus is guilty of. As determined by the WTO Airbus received 5 Billion dollars of illegal support from partner countries.

By all rights this should have been addressed in some kind of penalty on Airbus but the DOD/Air Force did not make any changes to accommodate the WTO finding. Maybe they think Boeing is guilty of the same thing however the business model and the funding sources for the 767 airframe (and most if not all of the Boeing commercial products) is not from the US Government or any government for that matter. That source is what is known as "venture capital" and is usually made up of private sources.

If you want to see how the European sausage is made simply look at how much over the barrel Airbus has their government partners on the A400M Transport aircraft. When they miscalculate or have problems and they run out of money they simply go back to the partner governments and get more money. No risk and all the reward. The WTO ruled that the A330 aircraft contains 5 billion dollars of extra aid that makes it less expensive than its competition.

So, standby to standby I will be watching if the NGS/EADS/Airbus actually puts in a proposal.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Airbus/KC-45 (right face) stolen from:

Boeing KC-767 (left face) stolen from:

Props To Them Canadian Laides

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

I do have to do this even though it hurts.

One of the finest Ice Hockey games ever was held last night, the US versus the Canadian Ladies played for the Gold medal at the Olympics. It was a wonderful and entertaining game, both squads of Ladies showed the world that Ladies playing Ice Hockey does not mean slow or boring or Not physical. It was a Great Game.

The only problem with it was of course the score, Canada 2, USA 0. Not that the US Ladies did not play well, they were magnificent. It was great to watch them but they did come up short. They never connected on the Power Play despite having many opportunities (and twice they had long 5 on 3 power plays).

I wish them all the best as they move on, I hope to see them again it really is too bad that there is not a woman's League that one could watch on TV.

My hats off to the Canadian Ladies, they did a phenomenal job and they deserve the Gold.

I just hope the Canadian Men were not watching!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Summit Summary

I heard parts of the Great Obamacare Rescue Debate on my XM radio. My take is that PresBO and his Democrat Cronies in both the House and Senate are really grasping at straws with this charade of a debate. Some of my thoughts on what was said and by who:

PresBO, he literally became the Blackmailer in Chief (and not because he is HALF Black) but because in his closing he basically told the Republicans that if they did not get on board well then, the Democrat Leadership will go and Pass the Bill any way they could. Using the Reconciliation Club on the Republicans like they were baby seals, it's a good thing most Republicans have hard heads. He really is a bully and his time in Chicago politics really shows.

Harry Reid's comment about "No one was talking about Reconciliation", WOW. And he said that with a straight face too, bald face lying on National TV (ok, it was on CSPAN which is at least on cable).

Joe Biden (sorry I can't bring myself to call him Vice President) and him saying that he hasn't a clue what the American Public is thinking. This is so funny because he must not have bothered to look out his window on September 12th when around 1 million Americans were hanging out around his house bitching about what He and PresBO and all the democrat cronies are doing. I won't give him the benefit of watching TV because it's probably tuned to NBC anyway and they missed completely so far the entire Tea Party movement and the September the 12th protest.

The best performance by a Republican was Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) who decomposed the Obamacare using the CBO to do it, really great work.

I do think the biggest hit here does go to PresBO because he gave up the high ground here. He should have acted as a moderator or arbiter between the two parties, but instead he joined the Democrat side thereby diminishing his standing as President. David Bellavia has a great analysis of the summit but mostly about this idea of PresBO selling out the Office of President to pull this off. Go HERE for that story.

The message here is simply, By Any Means Necessary. The PresBO has basically sold his soul and his Presidency for this monstrosity that we can truly call Obamacare. He has bought it hook line and sinker and he wants us, You and Me to swallow.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Monday, February 22, 2010

White Lightning

I have to admit I take great pride in the USA Hockey team beating the Canadian Hockey team. I know they are teams filled to the brim with NHL players but I get this wholesome good feeling anytime a Canadian Hockey team loses to any other team, from any other nation. They "own" ice hockey; it's their national pass time. Here is a story about just how many people watched the game last night, some think like 2/3's of the entire population of Canada.

I hope the USA Woman's team kicks-ass on the Canadian Woman's team too; you know just to rub it in a little. Maybe a lot!

I love that it's been since 1992/1993 season since the last time a Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup (Montreal Canadians – I spell it the USA way not the 'other' way). Oh they have been close having teams in the final games 4 times in the intervening years but they all went down in flames.

I know I have more deep rooted issues here with this almost maniacal antipathy towards the supposed "Great White Up" and yes for the record I have been there, once. Montreal. For a Hockey tournament. Let's just say, it was not pretty and I hold all them Canucks responsible for it. And yes, I hold a grudge a long time.

As for all those people watching their Hockey, I am sure a large portion of the population up there are still viewing it in Black and White TV sets. I say that because the NHL requires that the Centerline in the NHL rinks be a dashed line so that you can tell that's what it is without color TV. I am sure there was a lot of squealing over the border when the US TV market went all digital. And no rebates for them to get those converter boxes. Poor babies.

I guess I am a bit down on them because we are soon to get a worse health care system then they have. Makes me sick. Good thing we are playing better Ice Hockey right now then they, I'd really hate them if they were winning!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Earlier this week the PresBO entertained us with one of his traveling road shows at the site of what may eventually become a Nuclear Power plant, pledging over 8 Billion of China's dollars in loan guarantees. The power plant IF built and permitted would be the first Nuclear Power plant built in the US in almost 30 years. That's a big IF from a democrat and especially from one that has rabid environmentalists in his administration, especially within the EPA and its permitting arm. That very arm which has shown it is not afraid to shut down an industry because they just don't like it, just ask the Coal industry in West Virginia. Permitting a Nuclear Power plant is a 5 to 7 year process and you are NEVER guaranteed the permit no matter how much money you pour into the actual project. To say it's hard to get venture funding for something like that is an understatement.

But, there is a budding movement towards Nuclear in a slightly different direction. Here is a story that ran in the Wall Street Journal about very small Nuclear power plants designed for outputs on the smaller scale compared with the large size ones that were normal in this country in the way back, you know before the China Syndrome movie came out and ruined the industry. Ok, actually it was 3-Mile Island but who's to say that if that movie was not out when that happened it would have garnered the attention, especially with the oil embargo happening at the same time and gas prices shooting up out into space.

This new design is based on and built by the same company that has been building Nuclear Power reactors for the US Navy which as we all know has a sterling record in the Nuclear business. The small Nuke Plants could be sited in many places off limits today because of the size constraints and construction of large buildings. It would also make for quicker permitting given the same plant design could be used in many places.

And this is something that has always bothered me. I live within 10 miles of a Nuclear Power plant.

The company that owns and operates these two mammoth reactors owns two other power plants and get this, none of the plants are built with the same reactor plants. That's right, of the 6 reactors that this power company owns and operates they are of three different designs. Not much efficiency there, no redundancy, no sharing of personnel or being able to share parts.

I've always felt that the there should only be one reactor design licensed by the DOE and used in the nation's Nuclear power plants. The power company could put it in any kind of building they wanted and there would be different sitting issues that each power company would have to handle but the basic reactor plant would be the same from company to company, from power plant to power plant.

This design philosophy would allow for very simplified permitting since the government has to approve every pipe, valve, nut/bolt and wire installed in the reactor. The same reactor used across the country would allow for common pool of approved parts and large lot purchases would drive down their price. It would also mean one set of plans which if you know anything about the 3-mile Island incident you know was an issue.

It makes too much sense I guess and it would mean the government taking a leadership issue here and you know that's not going to happen anytime soon.

One can dream. This new format is a game changer and a move in that direction. Good on them. I hope it works and that our government gets on board and does not hold up permitting.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tanker Wars - Update

I am just throwing out some generic news about the upcoming "Spring Offensive" in the Tanker Wars. Currently the Air Force is planning on releasing their RFP sometime next week. They did address some issues in the RFP from the Draft version that the bidders were all complaining about, some more than others.

So far this is what we have:

The NGS/EADS/Airbus Team is still crying about "competition" warning the Air Force that it may not bid because it feels the Draft version of the RFP is tilted towards its major competitor in this arena – Boeing. Their complaints are legion and the Air Force to its credit did go through the motions of listening to NGS/EADS/Airbus but we won't know how much affect this will have on the actual RFP until it is released. Northrop is keen on the competition complaint (where else have we heard that, oh yeah the Royalty in our House and Senate whining for a public option in Health Care) that I think they have hooked their whole wagon to this rube, here is a quote from NGS Spokesman Randy Belote

"the current draft RFP, as structured, fails the test of true competition and, without meaningful changes, is not an RFP to which Northrop Grumman can respond."

So let's see just how far the Air Force goes in modifying the draft, that should be this coming week.

As far as Boeing is concerned their pretty much ok with the draft and I think their only complaint was about the Fixed-Price portion of the effort. This to me is understandable because on any new aircraft program there are issues that you cannot predict and bidding that as a Fixed-Price is assuming a lot of risk. Boeing should be able to master this however given they already have a version of their Tanker, the KC-767 flying and operating for both Japan and Italy. But still, the Air Force will want its own "stink" on this aircraft and the contractor will have to apply that and that is where the risk is at.

Programmatically the biggest worry Boeing had was the idea of"Split" tanker procurement. This is where the Air Force buys aircraft from both contractors. This is of course beyond dumb, it borders insanity but it is a favor to some. The biggest proponent of this approach was disgraced Congressman John Murtha and he had the good fortune of dying. Murtha was the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and he welded a lot of power in that role, and was involved in a lot of shady dealings in that role. I won't go into the Hidetha Marines incident and his comments on that, which is why I called him "disgraced". But that is another story.

At any rate, with Murtha pushing up daisy's the idea of a "Split" procurement pretty much goes down into the hole with him, Senator Shelby aside. His replacement as Chair on the HASC is generally recognized as a Boeing supporter.

Here is an article regarding the fact that the Air Force is prepared for a single bidder, is this the Boy's in Blue reading the tea leaves? One wonders. Well we don't have long to wait.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fire from the Sky – ABL Test

The Airborne Laser Test Bed aircraft (a highly modified Boeing 747) has successfully shot down two ballistic missiles by using nothing more than amplified light.

Story here and here. Short version: The massive flying laser shot the first missile down after a sea launch while it was on its initial assent only two minutes after launch. The second shot came just an hour later against a target that was launched from a land base. The tests were done off the Coast of California near about to the Navy Sea Range, a part of the NAWC-Weapons Division at Point Mugu.

The demonstration included both liquid fueled and solid fueled missiles. A great success for the combined/joint test team that brought all of this together. Now they get to pack their bags and throw away all they have done. The program was scrapped by PresBO.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Snow Blower - Need to Get Me One

Yeah, just as soon as the season ends and they go on sale.

I did not post this yesterday simply because my arms and hands were still 'used up' from all the shoveling on Wednesday. I went out three times to clear off the driveway and front walk. Even with the help of the Good Mrs. T we had a time of it. On top of the accumulation from last weekend, which I was so fortunate to miss, this new snow has caused a fairly high banks on either side of the driveway, nearly too high to shovel over. WE need some thawing!

Now for some pictures.

Below, the driveway. This is after the first shoveling of the day. I would go out two more time moving 8 to 10 inches each time. In the final shoveling at 9:00pm I was having a hard time throwing the snow over the side banks.
Above - you can see the accumlication around the back yard. It is safe to say that it would be hard to get around back there without a dog sled team.

Above, our deck and the viga's that cover it are covered. You can see the dept of the snow on the lee side of our shed. Some of this was from last Saturday.

My Fish are down in that hole. As you can see only this small hole is open, the rest of the pond is frozen. I have an air pump in there that keeps this hole open and the fish alive. Well, as far as I know they are alive. Have to wait for the spring thaw to see if any of them survived.

Lady gets her "business" area cleared out. She likes to supervise operations that affect her the most!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Travel Notes

Here are my musings from my recent trip to the Czech Republic.
  • Security Screening – yeah more than your average PIA (Pain in the Afterworks). I was patted down twice and let me tell you when a German gives you the frisk; they know everything on your person. Plus my Laptop back was of particular attraction for security officers. Three times it was give a "secondary" screening, once they empted it out completely and twice they did the nitrate swabs on it. Lines were not too long, the most we waited to go into the X-rays was maybe 10 minutes.
  • Long Flights – we did the 7 hours from Philly to Frankfurt, waited 3-hours for an hour flight to Prague then caught a commuter flight to Brno in the South east. We then rented a car and drove 30 minutes to the plant we were going to work and went right into a meeting. We had been traveling for more than 20 hours. We had only had airline food since we were in Frankfurt too early for airport food and we had no time anywhere else. I had beef jerky and granola with me so I was in pretty good shape.
  • I did not see much of the Brno area (we actually worked in a little village called Slavikovice) since we were up on the road early while it was dark and worked until it was dark again. In the twilight of the mornings I did see many acres of grape orchards and was told that wine is a big deal in the region. I'll have to bring some back the next time I am there. I also saw a bunch of Reindeer which interestingly enough was on the menu in one place we went. I had some.
  • Food – WOW! I loved everything I had to eat there. From the Goulash to the schnitzel to the venison it was all so good it is hard to describe except to pour some drool on the page. I even had this stuff I cannot remember its name, but it was kind of like Mac-n-cheeze but instead of macaroni there was this "stuff" that was kind of like potatoes or even a bread, no one knew what it was but it was really good. They sprinkled cubed bacon on it and I wolfed it down so fast you would have thought I had gone without food for a week. We even had the Czech version of pizza and it was really good too, made with a very thin crust. I had one with their version of sausage which is a specialty food in Czech and it was to die for. Can't wait for more.
  • We ate one night in the basement of an old monastery. I am not sure how old the place was but I am sure it goes way back. The dining room was made completely of brick with a curved ceiling, maybe 20 feet tall in the center. I could easily see in my mind's eye, the place being used as one of them mid-evil dudgeons or torture chamber. We ate in another place that was a simple family restaurant, the ground floor living room used as the dining room with only 4-tables. We were hip to hip with the other diners and I was impressed at their friendliness, once they found out we were Americans.
  • The People – two thoughts here, warm and friendly towards us as Americans and absolutely beautiful women. Several times I was asked simply "English" and thought they were referring to my language. In each occurrence when it was revealed we were from America the mood and temperament towards us changed. They really do like Americans over the British which I guess travel there a lot. Speaking with one old timer who spoke really good English he told me their ambivalence to British is that they have never come to the Czech to help them whereas the United States was always there to help them. Chatting with a bunch of young women in Prague they were in love with our "culture", the TV and Pop Stars. They all want to come over here and live.
  • Prague – what a lovely city. I hope to be able to visit again in the daylight. We did the walking tour in the big square and over and across the St. Georges Bridge, but it was all at night. Lots of shops with crystal, jewelry (Garnet and Amber are big there) and wood figurines. Lot's more of them Beautiful Women too, Can't wait to go back.
  • The biggest problem was the return. After getting up at 4:30 am for the cab ride to the airport we find out our connection to the US was cancelled. The airport in Philly was closed so we got stuck in Frankfurt for another day and night. We lost the whole weekend to the travel back.

In the end, what a great place, I will take a better camera with me next time I go and I will bring a huge suitcase to bring back a bunch of souvenirs or maybe one of the many beautiful girls!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

B-52 Model – Cool Beans

Inspired by Blog Buddy Buck (who recently put up a V-22 model that was way cool ) I have purloined this video of an RC model of a B-52. What a great job of building and of course flying. Most of these kinds of models are built from scratch without commercial plans. Looks real enough to me and does a fine job flying just like the big ones.


Thanks to Zip over at Weasel Zippers.

BT: Jimmy T sends

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sorry, can’t Resist pitching In on DADT

Ok, we all know it's on the way and no amount of whining about it is going to stop it. And that's too bad because as they say "It's not your Daddies Military" and they mean that.

What I don't get is why the Democrats want so badly to go into the ONLY part of the Federal Government that actually works and muck it up. Yeah, yeah, I know I have spent enough time in the ole "Hurry-up and Wait" mode and there are a lot of warts and puss filled blisters to be sure but still, compare the military to ANY other branch of our government and then try and tell me it's NOT head and shoulders above them all. Maybe even a whole body over the rest of them. I don't get it.

The Democrats have no legs to stand on in the National Security Arena except for toads like John Kerry and John Murtha (may he rest in a Pool of Fire) and they go in and stir up the pot to prove they are the "Manly" CINC. Why they don't leave things as they are is beyond me.

As far as Gays serving in the military, so what, let them, I have nothing against them or even Heterosexuals serving. But don't go around flaunting it which is what getting rid of DADT will allow them to do. I never liked hetero-braggers or that Married First Class that came back to the ship with crabs from sleeping with a woman (one of them pay by the hour types) especially because he lived in the rack immediately above mine. Sex was always an issue but not in the way that Gay's NOT in the military make it out to be. We had plenty that served and worked out just fine, most never knew who or what they were because they did their job. And that was all that mattered.

My problem is the status quo, leave it. Dam stupid Democrats, they should simply grow some balls and join up and serve.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Long Flight Over

So I am jetting across the north Atlantic pretty far out over water by the way for a two engine aircraft (but that's OK, the FAA has deemed this safe) and I can't sleep. The flight departed in the late afternoon and will arrive in Frankfurt at midnight "my time" but it is actually after 6:00 am real time. So, I lose a night's sleep unless I can curl up and catch some shut eye. Normally I can sleep anywhere. And I do mean anywhere. But for some odd reason this night I am struggling. I try the in seat entertainment system looking for something sufficiently interesting to waste the time or boring enough to put me out. No such luck. But I did find a music channel that had Three Dog Nights greatest hits Live. I can't believe they had enough hits to make a greatest hits release. But oh well, I tuned in. I listened to them while I read my book.

About 8 or 9 "hits" into the track a familiar tune started up. It was not only familiar but it was one that provoked lots of memories. One of them tunes that you take note of whenever you hear it playing. I stopped reading and listened, the "Way Back" machine in my mind winding back time and place.

We were parked along one of the many canals that criss-crossed the area, the western most in fact, the furthest one out, for the privacy. We steamed up the windows pretty good on the Plymouth we were in. It was one of the Police Interceptor Fury's, bought at auction by her father but it had all the markings removed, except for that big spot light on the driver's side.

While taking a break and getting some air, this tune played on the radio, we chatted about how often it was on the radio when we were alone. I can still remember her voice, the shape of her lips and the curve of her eyebrows, the high cheek bones and the soft feel of her hand. I studied them there in that Fury, wondering as one does, where this was all heading. Hoping for the best taking advantage of what we did have.

It did not last of course, she would inform me later that she just wanted "to be friends" and you know what that means. She would leave the high school in at mid-year forever dashing any hopes I had of starting over with her. I can remember driving by the lot where she used to live, looking for that Fury. It was all gone, the lot was empty and so was my heart.

I would learn later that she and her entire family had moved to Oklahoma.

Sleep did come to me but it was short lived, while the memories triggered by that song danced in my mind he lights went on in the cabin and the crew announced we were approaching Frankfurt and that we should prepare for landing. Just my luck, but it was nice while the tune played I was brought back to a different time, a different place.

Oh the Song:

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Traveling Blues

Sorry one and all for the lack of updates. My Day Job required Me to be reassigned from the one project I was doing supporting the UAE Air Force to helping a project that is developing equipmnet for Norway. That project is slightly underwater engineering wise and a crusial milestone is looming and without immediate help from a "hard charger" the Company would be under the gun for not only a working design but Penalties built into their contract.

So, with that I was moved and tossed into the mess. I now sit, as I type in a hotel room in the village of Brno of the Czech Republic. A quaint little place of old buildings, stone walkways, narrow roads with snow piled up every where a car is not parked. It took an all night flight and two commuter flights to get here passing through Frankfort on the way. I was unable to sleep on any of the three flights which is unusual for me, only the last one being one I would not have dared drifting off as the plane was small nor did we get very high into the air for the flight, Prague being close enough to drive to Brno but everyone I am traveling with insists this was the best connection. Well enough I guess when you can walk away intact, bonus if all your bags are with you.

My weekend last was spent repairing what would be called an "engineering casuality" in the comfy confines in the Swamp. A minor flood of water on one of the coldest days we have had here required my attention. I had to remove a section of pipe which had become clogged causing the washing machine to spew water in the basement. Once the pipe was flushed, re-installed and its angle of drain adjusted to give the exiting debirs more gravity assist we were able to continue with Laundry Opertations. Some of that necessary for the cloths I needed to take with me on this week long trip.

I will try and post pictures if for no other reason than to use up bandwith!! Right now, sleep is necessary for to be bright eyed and wide awake for what I know will be some Ass-burning meetings I must suffer through.

BT: Jimmy T sends.