Strawberry Moon

Strawberry Moon

We went out last night to view the International Space Station (ISS) as it flew overhead. I attempted to photograph it, but was unable to get a decent image. I did however capture the waxing gibbous moon, what tomorrow will be the full strawberry moon. The ISS pass over started at 9:38 and lasted three minutes. A beauty of the space station is that it is never late. It was distinctly visible as it passed nearly directly overhead. To the naked eye, it looked like a fast moving plane. Interestingly, it first just appeared, well above the horizon and likewise it suddenly disappeared also well above the horizon. I later figured out that this phenomenon is caused by the ISS itself, first passing into sunlight and then back out of it again. I was a little concerned going out last night. Because of all of the civil unrest, here was a curfew in the city and not in the county, where I was, but sometimes these situations change rapidly. We were on the old AB Green ballfield and were the only ones out. My only mishap last night was collecting some chigger bites. Interestingly, when Anne and I walked this morning, our path brought us close to the city-county line. Suddenly, both of our cellphones simultaneously squawked then with an emergency security warning that announced last night’s city curfew. Good to know!

And Now This…

Last Week Tonight Stamps

A few weeks ago, comedian John Oliver had as the theme for his weekly HBO comedy show the plight of the postal service. In this episode, he explained the situation and offered a remedy of sorts for the post office’s woes—buy more stamps. After all, it is through the sale of postage that the mail service sustains itself. Leading by example, he went one better, when he advertised the sale of his own brand of vanity stamps. Who knew that vanity stamps were a thing? Not I. His show airs on Sunday, but it wasn’t until the following Thursday that I watched it. By that time, when I attempted to order a sheet of his special stamps they were already backordered, which actually tickled me pink. This being a clear demonstration of the power of liberal slacker activism.

The reason that Oliver chose the post office’s problems as his show’s subject is that the president has decided to lambast this institution, because it would be the servant of something that Trump fears, vote-by-mail balloting. Something that in this time of pandemic would allow Americans to safely use to express their political will. He claims to fear voter fraud, but disenfranchisement is his real goal. He wants to limit the vote of older, poorer, blacker Americans and aid his own reelection this November. To this end, he has been tweeting of late baseless lies about voting-by-mail and voter fraud. These lies have been accompanied by others, most pointedly involving the unfortunate death of a woman who had been working for then congressman Joe Scarborough, now of MSNBC. In his tweets, Trump dredged up twenty year old conspiracy theories, in an attempt to smear a political opponent.

What he did though was to elicit a heartfelt plea from the woman’s widower, asking Twitter, not Trump to cease and desist. The resulting kerfuffle so embarrassed the execs at Twitter that when Trump returned to the subject of his voter fraud lies, Twitter had the temerity to add an “asterisk” on to his posts. This minor recrimination of course triggered another Trumpian temper tantrum.

Never one to hold on to a thought for long, last night Trump tweeted about the ongoing civil unrest that is occurring in Minneapolis and is the direct result of the apparent murder of Floyd George, a black man, by city police officers. His tweet echoed verbatim the threat made in 1967 by former Miami police chief Walter Headley, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Obviously, Trump did not get the hint, causing Twitter to nuke that tweet for “glorifying violence.” Twitter later explained that it was in part the historical connection of that tweet’s last line that caused the company to take action.

Is there a new sheriff in twitter-town? I doubt it, but perhaps this moderating action will result is some small measure of moderation, before people get shot. I am reminded of the tale of the troll and the three Billy-goats Gruff. One-by-one, the troll threatens the three goats, only in the end to butted on down the river This week one-by-one, Scarborough, voter fraud and Minneapolis, Trump has employed his bully pulpit to threaten others. Only to learn, he is just a user. 

Dodged a Bullet

Bullet through Apple, Harold Edgerton, 1964

I dodged a bullet today, when I realized in the nick-of-time that an email I had received, purporting to be a receipt from the Apple Store, was in fact a spear-phishing attack. Said email claimed that I had signed up for a trial subscription to the Lifetime network. Really? Lifetime?? It said that after the free one-week trial offer, I would be charged $30 a month. The email contained a referencing link that I clicked on. It asked for my Apple ID login, which I entered and then I was told that my account was locked and was transferred to another page that asked for all sorts of personal information. It was only when I got to the line asking for my social security number that I got suspicious. I did not provide that nor the credit card info that was also asked for either. It was then that I noticed that the page’s URL looked suspicious too. I closed it all down, googled Apple and successfully logged into my real Apple account. I knew by then that even though I had divulged my Apple ID login info everything was still OK, because my Apple account is protected by a two-step authentication process. After I enter my user and password info, I got a texted code on my phone to enter, to complete the login process. I went ahead and changed my Apple ID password anyway. It just goes to show that in addition to the coronavirus, there are still all of the other thing to watch out for in life, like internet scammers.

The Avrocar

Avrocar

Before 9/11, anyone could visit the Air Force Museum’s Annex. A special bus would transport you from the main museum to the annex, but after 9/11 this bus service was discontinued, yet the annex remained open. It has been a few years since I last visited the place and I don’t know if it was ever reopened to the public, but I suspect that like everything else these days, it is shutdown for the duration. At the time I last visited the place, I was at Wright-Pat on business and as luck would have it, I had a couple of hours to kill, before my meeting. Since, I was already on base, I could just drive to the annex and park.

While the main museum mostly has production aircraft, the annex specializes in prototypes. It also has a more modern bent than the main museum, which covers the entirety of the history of the Air Force. There were even a couple of things that came from projects that I had worked on. While the Avrocar certainly isn’t the strangest aircraft on display, it is on that far-out end of that spectrum.

Like the Avrocar, the annex is populated with what could be termed failures in aviation. The problem with the Avrocar was that its shape resulted in making the vehicle inherently unstable and impossible to control other than as a low-speed ground effects vehicle. Designed and built in Canada during the Cold War, the Avrocar was originally envisioned as a vertical takeoff short landing (VSTOL) supersonic fighter. Because its development was paid for by the US Air Force, when the Avrocar program was eventually cancelled, its test articles reverted to the US Government. That’s how the pictured prototype ended up in Dayton.

The whole flying car thing aside, it is undeniable that the Avrocar has an other-worldly appearance that shouts UFOs and space aliens. Since, it was developed in the fifties this aspect of the design had to have some play back then. I have better photos of this craft, but I chose this backlit one for effect, choosing to shroud it in darkness and lending it an air of mystery. I especially love its dual plexiglass canopies. You can easily image and almost see, the heads of two little green aliens sticking-up out in them. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Avrocar Schematic

Kubo Cherry Tree at Isazawa

Kubo Cherry Tree at Isazawa, Namiki Hajime, 2001

Zoom-bombing is now a thing. Zoom is a video conferencing app that is now of course all the rage. Our school district is using it for online teaching and Anne uses it to do her virtual gyro classes. Speaking of which, while she was working out, I virtually virtual exercised, while playing Civilization in the next room. Anyway, on some of the more public uses of Zoom, internet trolls have hijacked the video feed and substituted objectional imagery. I think that more experience will halt this behavior, but this is the world that we now live in. 

I have placed my first delivery order for groceries with InstaCart. I have seen their green t-shirt clad shoppers in the store for months now. With one hand on their shopping cart and the other holding a cell phone, they ply the aisles looking for other people’s food. Their website seems up-to-date with what is still available and warns when an item selected is running low. Their surcharge is modest, but my order won’t be delivered until Thursday.

Well, it wasn’t just the rain that halted the water company from tearing up the street and more importantly, putting it back together again. I think that a week is plenty of time to cure concrete. Besides they still have the other half of the block to do. They worked last Tuesday. It rained (a lot) both Wednesday and Thursday. It didn’t rain of Friday, but they usually only work a half-day anyway. They never work weekends and there was no sign of them today. I’m afraid that a torn up street is now also part of the new normal, but as Anne pointed out to me, at least they are on the other side of the street. If this situation continues, I expect that our across the street neighbors, will first cut the yellow caution tape, so that they can start using their driveways again. Then the orange cone will get moved, allowing on street parking on that side too. Except for my across-the-street neighbor who was gifted with a gravel pile. Do you detect a little schadenfreude here? Well, let’s talk about sewer lines then. The shoe was on the other side of the foot back then, when all of the work was on our side of the street.

While the above artwork version of cherry blossoms is gorgeous, there is nothing quite like the real thing. Saturday was a beautiful day and Anne and I took advantage of this brief spell of nice weather and got out for a walk. Spring has sprung and there are many varieties of flowering trees in bloom.

Neighborhood Cherry Blossoms