Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pissed Off Dinosaur

Is that what I look like when I get in a
"Hey! You! What the hell are you looking at?!" mode...

(Best not to click on the pic...seeing it full size should probably require a trigger warning.)

Over Christmas I got the pic in an email from the famous Shanghai driver Mr. Gu.

Mr. Gu, Yours Truly, and our other driver Sum Ol Gai

Mr. Gu has been RF's driver for several years, and he always takes care of me and the other guys once the tournament in Shanghai is over.
In this pic we had all gone to the Cybermart to shop then to lunch in XinTanDi. I got to ride in the S-Class with Coop, while the other guys took the M-Van.
I let the other guys have the S-Class for the airport run, though...
Nice ride... Nice guys.
Thanks Mr. Gu- you da man.


Choose Wisely

Decisions decisions...

Of course, here they should mention the spiders, snakes, crocs, and jellyfish.
And the friggin' cliffs that surround the country.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Well Look At That...Nice Job.

I see you got your Mustang detailed...


Friday, December 26, 2014

Glutton For Punishment - The Followup

The plan:
Drop off car near Cronulla Station, take 5:25am train to Otford, Walk to trail head at Otford Lookout.
Begin hike at +/-6:30am.
Need to complete hike at Bundarra before 7:00 PM to catch last ferry back to Cronulla.
12 hours to do 26km. Easy peasy.

You know- there is a reason that they recommend making it a two-day hike...
Looking at the satellite views from Google maps doesn't tell the whole story.
I should have taken the walk from the station to the trailhead as a sign of things to come.

I got to the station just after 6:00 am.

From the station to the lookout is a 300' climb.
Not a good way start...
I had my backpack with water, a change of clothes, etc, and I had picked up an aluminum telescoping walking stick... The stick was a life saver.
I used it in it's original office to steady myself- but I also employed it to fight off the spiders...
The bad thing about being first on the trail for the day is that overnight the spiders have laid webs thick and heavy across the trail.

(One of billions)


Once I got started I was doing pretty good. I resigned myself to the fact that this was going to be an all-day thing.
One thing that all the documentation said was that it could be done in one day if the hiker was in excellent shape.
Dude, I am NOT in excellent shape.
I'm not even in decent shape.

By about 10:30 I had made several up-and-down traverses- from the top of the hills and cliffs, then down to the beach, then back up to the top of the next cliffs to the next descent to the next beach...
And the beaches- beautiful and deserted, but-

Slogging in hiking boots across the sand will sap every bit of energy you have.
And there is an inevitable realization that when you go down, you must also go back up.

I had made it to Garie Beach by 10:45 and the sun was starting to come out...
I slathered up in sunscreen and kept at it.
The worst climb was coming up... The climb up to Garie Overlook was another 350' up a winding log and stone path. I'm not embarrassed to say that it took me almost 90 minutes to get to the top, and another 30 to recover from the climb and eventually move on.

One thing about the paths and trails...
There is quite a bit of variation in the paths- from barely-recognizable paths through scrub, to wide-open roads, to composite decking that traverse grassy areas.

Rocks in the path like this are ankle-breakers. Not to hikers: Wear boots with good ankle support. I wore my Belleville boots- had I worn sneakers I would have had to bail an hour into the trip.

Wide-open spaces. Watch for spider webs.

Another danger was not paying attention...
If you stopped on the trail, you had to make sure you weren't standing on these:

Some bad-ass army ants would boil up out of these holes and (I assume) bite the shit out of you...
I saw them swarm once early in the day, and I steered clear after seeing how fast they could move.

Composite decking on the cliffside.

Another high climb from sea level...

Mmmm. Nice decking...

There was a long relatively flat stretch (about 4 miles or so) where I just got roasted by the sun... It was a tease, however.

Pretty plants... They are probably poisonous, this being Australia and all...
(Took this pic with my Samsung phone, hence the quality- most other pics were taken with my Oz iPhone from the tournament.)

Rain was in the forecast for the afternoon and I could see the clouds rolling in from the north as I soldiered onward.
I didn't realize how fast the storm was coming. I got to the next way point, Eagle Rock at a 1:45p, and the wind was whipping and the rain started.
I hunkered down under an overhang of rock waiting for the worst of the rain to pass-
it took almost an hour- and now I was starting to worry about making the ferry at 7 PM.
I also knew I had 2 major climbs in front of me...
One thing I had in my backpack was one of those Mylar space blankets...
I wrapped up in that, covering my head and my backpack (a wet backpack is HEAVY) and got on my way.
Fortunately the rain had slacked off a good bit- just waves of drizzle...
Curracarrang to Wattamolla was a wet blur for me. It was my next resting place...
I changed socks and got going again- another high climb off the beach at Wattamolla and then off across the cliffs again heading for the Marley beaches.
I got smart going across the Marley beaches by taking off my boots and carrying them in my backpack- much better going- definitely worth the time.
One last climb up from Marley's beach - it was just after 4pm... I had a 400' climb over the next mile and a half- then a long downhill to the ferry in Bundeena and the rain was getting heavier... the drizzle was now waves of short light showers.
I got to the trail end at 6:05pm, and walked through the streets of Bundeena trying to find the ferry dock. I got to the dock just at 6:30- the last inbound ferry just arrived.
I got my ticket and sat on the boat to wait for the ride back to my car...
It was uneventful, except I could barely drive once I got to the car.
I had to take my boots off and massage my feet and legs for a bit before I could get back on the road...

But I made it.

From the pedometer on my phone...

Did I have a good time?
Not really...
Was it cool?
Yes- I'm glad I did it.
Do it again?


Are You F-ing Kidding me?

From the NY Post...

NYPD find arsenal after busting man who ‘talked about killing cops’

An arsenal?

One pistol and a shotgun are an arsenal?

Talk about clickbait/sensationalism...


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Still Alive...

...but just barely.

Just wanting to wish all Constant Readers a Merry Christmas, happy Boxing Day, and a prosperous new year.
I'm going to take 15 or 20 Advil and go back to bed.

More later,


Glutton For Punishment - Christmas 2014 Plans

For Christmas break 2012 I spent the day getting washed out to sea up near Crowdy Head and took a nice long ride on the beach...

In 2013 I did a little snorkeling down near Jervis Bay and took a long enjoyable hike on the Beecroft peninsula before Christmas and just stayed in my hotel room for the day...
I just wasn't feeling like braving the highways and Sydney traffic.

The motorcycle thing was too expensive to repeat this year... It was fun, but not worth the end cost, especially after I had to shell out big $$$ to replace the ABS module on the BMW...
(Don't ask, very embarrassing.)

This year I'm going on a nice long Walkabout...
Royal National Park is just south of Sydney, and there is a network of hiking trails that run through the park. One in particular is referred to as the Coastal Track - 26km (16 miles) from Otford to Bundeena.

Now 16 miles is a nice long stroll...


16 miles over broken ground, clifftops and beaches is probably going to be a good challenge to complete in one day...

If you don't hear from me by Boxing Day, send a search party.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mind: Not Changed

Sony's Rogen/Franco film "The Interview".
Wasn't going see it.
Still not going.

In Case You Need It...

Get your eelslap here.
In case, you know... ya gotta eelslap someone over the holidays.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Light Fuse, Stand Back

It's really never a good thing for me to see videos like this because I go into
"Shit, I could do that!... I could do it even better if I xxxx...." mode.

Right now I have an Amazon window open trying to source a shitload of Estes "D" size model rocket engines...
Soon to be followed up with an obligatory-
"Here, hold my drink- I saw this on a YouTube video once...."


Monday, December 22, 2014

Reactions - Douglas Adams

In The Salmon of Doubt, Douglas Adams writes, "I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

1.    Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2.    Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3.    Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

Damn right.
You kids take your new-fangled blueteeth every-damn-thing and iPhones and GTFOff my lawn. Pronto.


The Rules (Gibb's, Not Mine)

If you watch NCIS (the original) you have no doubt heard one of more of Gibb's Rules...

After a discussion today with some Aussies who were ignorant regarding such Rules To Live By, I though it might be worthwhile to post the current list of known Rules....


Rule #1: Never let suspects stay together. (Season 1 Episode 1, Mike Franks)
Rule #1: Never screw over your partner. (Season 4, Episode 14, Gibbs)
Rule #2: Always wear gloves at a crime scene. (Season 1, Episode 1, Mike Franks)
Rule #3: Don't believe what you're told. Double check. (Season 1, Episode 1, Mike Franks)
Rule #3: Never be unreachable. (Season 3, Episode 13, Gibbs)
Rule #4: The best way to keep a secret? Keep it to yourself. Second best? Tell one other person, if you must. There is no third best. (Season 4, Episode 11)
Rule #5: You don't waste good. (Season 8, Episode 22)
Rule #6: Never apologize. (Season 7, Episode 12, but referenced previous times without a number attached)
Rule #7: Always be specific when you lie. (Season 1, Episode 23)
Rule #8: Never take anything for granted. (Season 3, Episode 10)
Rule #9: Never go anywhere without a knife. (Season 1, Episode 13)
Rule #10: Never get personally involved on a case. (Season 7, Episode 21)
Rule #11: When the job is done, walk away. (Season 6, Episode 24)
Rule #12: Never date a coworker. (Season 1, Episode 15, and referenced on other occasions)
Rule #13: Never, ever involve a lawyer. (Season 6, Episode 7; Gibbs is said to have other rules involving lawyers, but according to Tony, this is the "umbrella" one)
Rule #15: Always work as a team. (Season 5, Episode 5)
Rule #16: If someone thinks they have the upper-hand, break it. (Season 8, Episode 24)
Rule #18: It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission. (Season 3, Episode 4)
Rule #22: Never, ever bother Gibbs in interrogation. (Season 4, Episode 10)
Rule #23: Never mess with a Marine's coffee if you want to live. (Season 2, Episode 9)
Rule #27: Two ways to follow: First way, they never notice you, Second way, they only notice you. (Season 7, Episode 15)
Rule #35: Always watch the watchers. (Season 8, Episode 22)
Rule #36: If feels like you're being played, you probably are. (Season 9, Episode 1)
Rule #38: Your case, your lead. (Season 6, Episode 16; Season 10, Episode 3)
Rule #39: There is no such thing as coincidence. (Season 7, Episode 21)
Rule #40: If it seems someone is out to get you, they are. (Season 7, Episode 22)
Rule #42: Never accept an apology from someone who just sucker punched you. (Season 9, Episode 16)
Rule #44: First things first. Hide the women and children. (Season 7, Episode 23)
Rule #45: Gibbs remarks, "Left a mess I've got to clean up," which Tony later comments is basically Rule #45 … clean up your own mess. (Season 7, Episode 24)

Here endeth the lesson.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Perks of Being Over 50

An astute Constant Reader will notice these are all in large font for "convenience".

1. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

2. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.

3. No one expects you to run--anywhere.

4. People call at 9pm and ask, "Did I wake you ????"

5. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

6. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

7. Things you buy now won't wear out before you can't use them anymore.

8. You can live without your better half, but not your glasses.

9. You get into heated arguments about investments and politics.

10. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

11. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

12. Your eyes won't get much worse.

13. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.

14. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size.

15. You will enjoy this post every time you read it, since  you won't remember seeing this list last time you read it.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Reasons I Like Australia - #3243 in the Series

This is why I like Australia.

Not because of the jellyfish, crocodiles, 10 billion species of poisonous snakes, wombats, drop bears, and Kylie & Dannii Minogue...

(Nice, but hardly a primary reason to like Oz. We have plenty of this back home.)

It's because of guys like this:



Ms. Bosalina Sassafras (a/k/a Bosie or The Bear) has begun to show a new behavior...
I call it "The Black Shuck"

If she is outside, ostensibly to assist with taking the trash out or to help me cover my motorcycle, when it is time to come in she just selects a spot and sits (or lays) down, staring me down until I have to come out and tender a formal invitation to go back inside.
Night or day- no matter.

The accusatory glare.
"Don't just stand there gawking - go get a tennis ball and throw it for me."

"I can wait all day."

The scary one...

Actually, there may really be a Black Shuck in the neighborhood.
I didn't notice it until The Perfect Child pointed it out...

Holy crap.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Milestones... We Got 'Em...

Things have been hopping at The Estrogen Palace since about...oh...Thanksgiving, I guess.
I had a trip to NYC / NJ last week, and at the end of the week it was time to make an important trip down to Tampa.
A little over three years ago I regaled you Constant Readers with the tales of The Perfect Child's high school graduation, trying to tone down the intense pride that kept creeping into my 'blogpost. 
It was difficult because Perfect Child. Amiright?
She headed off to USF, first in a dorm, then into shared space with other students and finally into her own apartment. She eschewed participation in collegiate sports, opting instead to concentrate on her studies...
It paid off, it seems, because she now has a sheepskin from the USF College of Public Health with a minor in disaster/risk planning management.

It has been a very gratifying experience to see her progression
from high school to college, seeing her weather some personal storms like marginal roommates, a ne'er-do-well boyfriend, her 21st birthday and the attendant festivities, and the ins and outs of apartment life.
Now she's out she's heading home to start the next phase - job hunting.
This will be interesting...
The job market is pretty open- her degree will be useful in any hospital administration, health insurance company, state or county health department or emergency planning department, or in any of the many FedGov offices like HHS, DHS, CDC or other TLA departments...
I'll be interested to see what progress she has made by the time I get back...


Monday, December 15, 2014

Annnnd We're Off!

It's Yours Truly in a grudge match with United Airlines...

In this corner:
Standing 6'5" weighing in at a healthy 315lbs, the pissed off dinosaur.

In the opposite corner, United Airlines- a 3-hop 25-hour nightmare of cattle-class seats, projectile vomiting children, surly Flight Attendants, and disease-laden aircraft- arriving sometime Wednesday in scenic Sydney NewSouthWales- latest victim of jihadi terrorism.
Lovely. Just lovely.

(My life in Three Letter Acronyms...)

This is my third year working this event - missing out on my anniversary (24th this year), Christmas, New Years, & my Mom's birthday. Probably won't do it again next year. 
Let some dumb noob do it instead of me.
Hopefully I will survive unscathed this year.
We'll see how it goes. No bike rental this year, and I'm going to try to avoid shark attacks and rip currents this go-round. Australia is full of dangerous shit that will kill you-
No doubt I will find some trouble to get into.

Wish me luck...

Getting Home - Another Ordeal Courtesy of United Airlines

So I got to the airport in Newark early to try to catch an earlier flight...
A strong Nor'easter was coming into the New York area and I had bad feelings about my 9PM flight.
I went to the customer service desk to see about changing flights...
Can I get on this earlier flight to JAX?
Let's see... Ah... No... Sadly, they have just cancelled that flight.

Sh!t-balls. So I have to wait until 9 tonight.

Ok... I head to the C Concourse to soak up some free wifi from the United lounge...
(This takes some doing, since my flight is going out of the A Terminal. The TSA doesn't want you to go into the incorrect terminal... I had to reason with them: it's several hours until my flight- I want to use the good United lounge, not the crappy one at the A-Terminal. But they finally let me in...)

I had just logged in and was going through my emails and doing some housekeeping when I got  text alert from United: Your flight at 9PM has been cancelled by Air Traffic Control. Contact Customer Service for further assistance.
Lovely. Just what I needed. I packed up my goods and started for the CSU Desk.
As I stood in line I got another message.
You have been re-booked on a flight tomorrow at 10 AM. 

No f*cking way... And since it was and ATC action, the have no responsibility to house or feed travelers... Double f*ck that.

I stayed in line... No way am I spending yet another night in another airport.
As I waited I got our company Travel Goddess on the horn...
"Is there anything leaving Newark that gets even close to Jax tonight?"
There are two flights to Orlando- one at 5:30 and one at 8...
Any seats?
Oh... Three on the first one, and the 8 is wide open...
Ok... Thanks-

I got to the Customer Service desk- 
Got the rep to get me on the 5:30 to Orlando-
It would get me in about 8:15 or 20... That's doable. Then a rental car to Jax.
No problem.
Flight boarded just after 5:00 and I even scored an upgrade... Nice.

I had Travel Goddess book me a car with my Car Rental of Choice-
When I go to the Preferred Desk I followed the sigh to my appointed car- 
a Kia Sh!tbox... No f*cking way on that- I won't survive 2+ hours folded into a pretzel to operate that thing...
I went back to the service desk...
"Um... I'm sorry- do you have anything else? I can't fit into that car- let alone drive it for 3 hours." 
"Absolutely... I have just the car for you..."
She gives me a Chevy Camaro S/S complete with the Corvette engine and full instrument package.
Holy crap... What a car...
I head out of the Airport and head up 528 toward the Greenway. Lots of wide-open space, very tempting to see what this thing is capable of...
Fortunately I was able to curb my curiosity- there was a preponderance of FHP officers out that night.
But that car is quite tempting-
One really funny (and potentially dangerous) feature was the G-Force reading on the HUD.
It would measure g-forces in the cornering...
Now, maybe it's just me, but when I saw that, all I wanted to do was see how high I could go in the curves...
You give a testosterone-filled steroid junkie college football player (the Camaro's target demographic) something like that, you might as well give him a bottle of Jack Daniels along with the keys and send him on his way...
He's going to see how far you can push the edge of the envelope.
Not so much.
It took me 2:20 to get from Orlando airport to The Estrogen Palace...
Google Maps says 2:26 from door to door...
So I wasn't breaking any records...
But... Had I made my original 9pm flight, I would have laded at 11:40, then another 40-50 minutes home, so in the long run, I was better off time-wise.
Now if I can get United to cough up the $$ for the rental car...

We will see...


A Girl After My Own Heart

I was in Noo Yawk Sitty at the beginning of last week.
Meetings with the good folk in Secaucus and OhDannyBoi in Midtown. Always a good time.
Things were pretty good- I'm doing the low-carb thing - fortuitously there was a Brazilian steakhouse less than a block from the hotel, so I had that going for me...
(Fogo de Chao for those keeping score at home)

A couple non-paid endorsements are in order here- first:
If you are a traveler, have you installed the Hotels Tonight app on your phone yet?
Do it. Do it NOW. Listen to your Uncle Jay: It's awesome. 
I got the Manhattan Hotel on Times Square (which is NOT on Times Square) for $140 for that evening. A steal for Midtown property... 
Second - I picked up a pair of Belleville Tactical Research Hot Weather Boots (TR606 - Sage) from Outdoor Equipped via Amazon and I've been wearing them pretty extensively- including this trip to the (very rainy) Big Apple and they are amazing...
I have been having issues with Plantar Fasciitis, and I have had to swear off flip-flops and sandals (difficult for me) and have been wearing shoes with significant soles and arch support to clear it up.
These boots are no exception- Mid rise uppers, lace-ups, great sole and arch- and great for the extensive walking around the mean streets of The City. And they stood up to the water and mud 
Love me some Belleville boots. Get you some.
(I repeat- unpaid endorsement. Note to FTC: Blow me.)

So... to the Girl...

I was heading back out to Newark for my flight back home- I hoofed it through the mud, blood and rain to Penn Station and decided to get a bite before catching the train to EWR.
Found a little bar/restaurant that looked promising...
As I sat down, the barmaid was yelling to another waitress-
"F*ck that guy! He gets nothing!" indicating another customer who just laughs along with the bar wenches...
Wow. Nice language... You kiss your mother with that mouth?
It was the start of an amazing barrage of public profanity in epic proportions...

Now, I'm as bad as then next events technical staff member when it come to extended time on the road - 'Events Tourettes' we call it. Usually takes me a week or so to rein in my language after a long stint in the field. But this woman put me to shame... Her range creative profane embellishment and command of invective would embarrass a sailor...
She dropped the F-Bomb three times in the first minute I was at the bar-
(Being the good statistician that I am, I had to start keeping track...)
Her use of the F-Word was remarkable... She used it as a noun, a verb, an adjective, adverb, pronoun, article and a participle at one time or another over the 40 minutes I was in the bar.
The final count- in 40 minutes over 110 utterances of the F-Word (or variations like MFer) alone.
I didn't count the rest of the expletives like d*mn, sh!t, and the oh-so-popular 'C0cks^ck3r' - (her second-most used multi-function word) but there was a ton of them.
She reminded me of the line from 'A Christmas Story'...
"He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master."
This woman has picked up the gauntlet of challenge and is striving to bring a new range and timbre to recreational cussing...