Archive for November, 2006

Black Friday fun

Friday, November 24th, 2006

We got up in the weeee hours to head out to Best Buy this morning.  We got there about 3am thinking that’d be early enough to pick up a couple of deals (or at least one of them).  Best Buy had advertised a $249 laptop that wasn’t too bad and a nice 32″ Westinghouse LCD HDTV for $479.  Well, we didn’t get either.  I was surprised at just how long the line was at 3am.  We could have picked up the 42″ Westinghouse LCD HDTV, but at $1000, it’s just a bit more than we could spend.  Oh well, maybe next year.

HCP Issued

Monday, November 20th, 2006

I’m so excited.  I got my HCP in the mail today.  It wasn’t a quick process (not that I was exactly pushing), but it wasn’t too bad either.  I took the HCP class August 5th; (big delay) submitted my application October 6; got fingerprinted Oct 14; and received my HCP today November 20.  I’d been waiting for this before ordering holsters.  I didn’t want to jump the gun (okay, bad pun).

Good CCW Article

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

I was a bit surprised to see this in the Commercial Appeal, but it’s quite good.  This is probably one of the most positive articles on CCW I’ve ever read in a publication that didn’t specialize in the subject or at least firearms in general.  Take a look:


Happy Feet

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

We went to see Happy Feet today.  I can’t really say too much.  It’s obviously a kids movie.  Taken very lightly I guess it’s pretty good.  It’s funny, it’s lively, it’s got all the right elements for this type of film.  The problem I have with it is laced in it’s assumptions and, frankly, indoctrination.  Like I said, it’s obviously a kids movie.  It’s targeted at kids.  So, the problem I have is the inclusion of some things that are pulled in.  The first thing that caught my attention was the opening chorus where they had a brief inclusion of “Let’s talk about X”, where “X” replaces the original word.  No need to get little kids singing along only to prematurely discover the real lyrics and start asking the wrong questions.  The second thing that caught my attention was the seal that chased Mambo up to where he meets the little penguins.  It’s a “bad” seal that wants to eat him.  This seal is portrayed as a cold blooded killer that is strong, fast, and has a strong resemblance to to African ethnicity.  Even the character’s voice sounds such.  I think they could have just made the character scary without implicating any particular race or ethnicity.  The seal was African, the skua were Italian, the overbearing Emperor Penguin leader was Scottish.  Also, regarding the Emperor Penguin leader, the implication made is that believing in religion is bad/wrong/stupid/backward/etc.  I just couldn’t believe they did that.  The final thing is the overall “moral” imperative that says we should stop fishing in Antarctic waters and that everywhere man goes is bad.  In fact the whole portrayal of man as bad and stupid is awfully anthropocentric.  It’s also a gross oversimplification of what issues are involved.  If it was as simple as expressing that we should be careful with our trash, fine.  I think that was expressed well enough.  But they take it further, far beyond what kids need to try and comprehend.  I’m not saying kids are stupid, not at all, I’m saying we shouldn’t have them worrying about that stuff yet.  Let kids be kids for a while.  This film seems to diminish that.

Casino Royale

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

We went to watch Casino Royale yesterday.  Every Bond actor transition is an adjustment, so I attempted to hold back any prejudgments going into it.  The one thing I couldn’t get out of my head was Daniel Craig’s role in Munich.  I don’t want to spoil anything, because I actually recommend people go see the film, but it’s obvious from my grammatical connotations that I do have some hang-ups with it.  I’ll put it this way, this is a good film — a great action film, but not a Bond film.  I’m not saying this is a bad Bond film, it’s just not a Bond film.  I think I’ve actually seen every Bond film.  With a few minor exceptions they all follow a particular formula.  This does not follow that formula.

Is that negative or positive?  I know it sounds like I feel that is negative, but I don’t.  I certainly hope that future installments of Craig’s portrayal of Bond reapproaches the classic Bond in all his previous iterations, but this installment is a good, clean, fresh remake of Bond.  Much as comic book series get “reset” with new twists and approaches to the same characters, that is what this is.  It is a new beginning.  We get to see how some of Bond’s peculiarities came about.  He transitions from an unlikeable, but human character to something cold, mechanical, and well, Bond-like.  Craig does this transition extremely well.

I really look forward to where they take this.

Sky Diving Pics

Monday, November 13th, 2006

After all these years, I finally got around to getting the negative scanned.  I’ve posted them up.  For all those that thought I was pulling their leg here’s the proof.  These are from December (I forget the exact date) 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Actually, it may technically be Henderson, Nevada, but I don’t know where the exact boundaries are.

Downtown Aviation

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

We went by Downtown Aviation today.  I finally looked up how to get to the airport.  If you look at a map it’s obviously very close, but one previous outing didn’t find it.  So, we took a look as we were out anyway.  Neat place.  It’s about 3 miles away in a beautiful location.  We talked to someone from the flight school and got some good information.  Looks like that’s where I’ll go when I get back to flying again.  They’ve got a nice fleet of mostly new aircraft.  I was excited.  In doing a walk around it turns out that there are some WWII birds based there (the Hawker Sea Fury was buzzing around), and even the WMCTV 5 chopper is based there.  Being in such close proximity to all the hospitals, apparently they medical helicopters are frequent visitors.  One came in for some gas while we were there.  I’m getting excited to fly again.

Stranger Than Fiction

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

We went to see Stranger Than Fiction today.  I must say, off hand, this is the best film I’ve seen this year.  I need to go back and review my notes on everything else I’ve seen for a more complete comparison, but regardless, this is a good film.  I left with a feeling that is hard to describe, but it was sort of a joyful, introspective daze.  I really liked this film.  It just works on so many levels.  The mis-en-scene was well thought out.  The trailers I had seen completely misrepresent the genre that this is really in and I suppose it makes for a more interesting experience in that you learn that it’s not the genre you were expecting walking in.  That said, don’t read on as it may spoil the experience for you.  Otherwise, if you don’t care, read away.

So, the first bit of mis-en-scene than I noticed was the peculiar, ordered, and perfect emptiness of many scenes.   In fact, it was more than just obviously artificial.  It is not an over sight.  It is very much intentional.  This is available for multi-level interpretation and I’m sure there are more ways to look at it than I see.  Thinking about it merely enhances the experience.  To me it’s as if the muse comes forth.  Also, the casting is outstanding.  Each actor/actress projects their role well.  All the characters are believable, even the quite fictional main character.  I just can’t say enough times that I really liked this film.  Go see it, rent it, buy it.  It deserves financial return.  We need more films like this coming out of Hollywood.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

We went to see Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan on Saturday.  For anyone thinking about going to see it, I’ll say this: you will either love it or hate it.  It’s not one of those movies that leaves much for middle ground.  In general, if someone were to ask me whether or not I’d recommend it, I’d say no.  I say that because I’d rather err on the side of caution.  Some people I know would love it.  I enjoyed it.  It’s crude.  It’s raunchy.  It’s intended for a very specific kind of audience, and I guess one that I’m in, but that particular audience I suspect is a very small part of the population.  So, tread with caution on this one.

Air Power Arkansas 2006

Monday, November 6th, 2006

So, we went to the air show in Little Rock (well, technically Jacksonville, but it was at “Little Rock Air Force Base”) on Saturday.  You know it’s a sign of things to come when you don’t even set your alarm correctly.  The plan was to get up at 5:30am and be ready to hit the road at 6:30am so we could get there a little after the gates opened.  I actually woke up around 5am, but stayed in bed waiting for my alarm to go off.  After a while I start to wonder, because I saw the faint light of daylight coming through the window.  I check the time and it’s just past 6am.  So much for my alarm.  As we’re getting ready it goes off.  I had set it for 6:30am, not 5:30am.  We rush to get ready to go, which means we’ll forget something.  Camera? Check.  Cash? Check.  Extra Battery? Check.  Ear Plugs? Check.  Directions? Check.  Okay, we must be ready to go.  Then, out of habit, we get on I-40 East instead of West.

After we get turned back around it’s smooth sailing–until an hour later when I remember that we forgot our folding chairs.  When we get to the exit for the show, things are working fairly well.  The police are manually directing traffic instead of letting the street lights get things backed up.  We enter the base’s main entrance in a very long line of cars.  As we come up through one of several points where armed soldiers are directing traffic we get randomly selected to go through the security check line.  That was pretty painless, actually.  It just feels funny seeing uniformed soldiers with M4′s, M9′s, and German Shepards going through cars.
After that, we just follow the huge line of cars down the road.  I don’t know how big Air Force bases tend to be, but this one felt pretty large to me.  Most of the driving down the “entrance” felt like normal roads with few signs of being a military installation.  Eventually we get to the parking area, which is actually just a very large section of tarmac roped and blockaded off for parking.  It was quite organized.

We got parked, hydrated, suited up (still a little cold) and headed toward the entrance. They had security screening there with metal detectors (not really set very high) and bag searches.  That went quickly.  And then we were inside.  Notice nothing about tickets?  There were none.  That was a pleasant surprise.  Programs were handed out for free too.  Not that the schedule was accurate, but it was a good gesture, and the programs were of very good quality otherwise.

The static displays were outstanding.  Directly by the entrance was a C-5 Galaxy from Altus (there were several aircraft from Oklahoma Air Force bases) setup almost like a gateway in that you could choose to walk right through it.  The static displays consisted mainly of current Air Force aircraft, but there were several from the Navy, Marines, Army, Coast Guard, and private groups.  The military aircraft were a very nice cross section of currently deployed machines.  I was particularly happy to see the F-22 (I had never see one in person), the F-117, and the B-52.  Being the “Home of the Herk” (C-130′s), they had several varations of the C-130 on display and to me it was educating.  It marks the first time I had seen the J model with the new engines and props.  It is quite odd looking to me, but the benefits sound quite good.  I noticed that the V-22 wasn’t there.  The website for the show indicated it would be.  I didn’t see any UAV’s either.  An interesting aircraft I saw was the AN-26 with the question mark on the tail.  I take it that it’s a private carrier, because it had nearly no markings.  A google on the N number shows it’s owned by a “SRX Transcontinental Inc.” since June 2005 from the Russian Air Force for $72,500 (which seems insanely cheap to me).  This one makes me feel funny.  Probably best not to ask too many questions about it as it’s supposedly the only AN-26 in U.S. registration.

The show portion of the show was pretty good too.  I have a general preference for high performance prop planes doing extreme aerobatics, so the show was a little lacking to me (only 2 such acts).  Seeing the Red Baron team do their thing is impressive.  They really have some amazing skills to do what they do, but it just doesn’t get my heart pumping like watching the late Eric Beard do some pretty gyroscopic stuff in his Yak-54.  The two acts that fell into this category were quite good.  I forget their names right now, but the one in the pink SU-26 was an outstanding performer.  I just assume he didn’t have the low level waiver, because it seemed like he was so far back from the line (both up and away).  The quality of the routine was outstanding, but it just felt less engaging due to the distance.  The pilot in the Pitts was certainly more engaging with a lower and closer act.  He really got my attention.  The Canadian CF-18 demo was good.  The Viper West demo was alright (fairly routine).  The F-15 demo was interesting.  I don’t recall seeing that one before.  The E-2 was interesting simply in how low they flew it in 90 degree banks.  The C-130 cargo and troop drops were cool in the scope of their demo.  The flights were huge and were so cool to watch.  Shockwave was okay.  It felt rushed, because I’ve seen him do longer acts at other shows.  The “other” F-16 demo was good.  The heritage flight was good.  I really loved the F-86 — it was beautiful.  Fat Albert’s JATO launch was the same as before.  The Blue Angels were flawless yet again.  They truly are a precision demonstration team.  If only I had a chair for the 6.5 hours of flying.

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