Archive for May, 2006


Leander Train Station

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

Work is well along on the north terminal of Austin’s coming commuter rail system, run by the socialist CapMetro orgainization. The parking lot seems finished, if a bit smaller than I expected.

The rail siding for the commuter trains is about done I think. I’m a little curious about the design of the actual embarkation/debarkation area. I couldn’t see where there was provision for any covering. In fact, it doesn’t look like there is much covered space at all in this facility. Not good on a rainy or hot day.

I think people will ride the trains to Austin, especially if gas prices continue to rise. Leander is exploding with huge new tract housing developments, thousands of people are moving there. Most of the residents in the Cedar Park/Leander area are working class folks, attracted by affordable housing and good schools. Many work for the state and the big Austin hospitials, and therefore have train-friendly predictible schedules. Most are concerned about gas prices.

I also think voters were very wise to reject the trolley car plan which would tied up traffic in Austin for years and years and years, cost the earth, and would not have served the places where productive people (as opposed to students) actually live.

This rail project uses existing rail lines which were passenger rated by CapMetro years ago. It is very hard for me to see why trains were not running within a few months of passage of the authorization. Capmetro already runs a railroad! It carries marble from quaries near Marble Falls into Austin. The tracks were there. Space for sidings and simple parking lots exist all along the route. Surely trains could be leased from somewhere. Heck, the Cedar Park steam train people have cars. Why CapMetro must have years and years to build a parking lot and lease some passengers cars defies explanation.

Instead we will not have trains running until 2008!!!!

By contrast, across the street from the Leander station there is going to be a huge shopping center with a Mega-sized HEB as the anchor. Ground on this facility is expeced to be broken in just a few weeks. The faclity will open by Thanksgiving. Too bad we couldn’t have turned the rail project over to HEB or Walmart.

I’m glad we have may someday have commuter rail, but it saddens me that CapMetro is appearently run by an incompetent bunch of political hacks.

Austin, commuter, rail


Mojave Weblog – A Must Read Blog

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Today’s Mohave Weblog is particularly good. Alan’s blog is a must read for any aviation enthusiast.


A B-757 Hit the Pentagon

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

The other day I was extremely upset when our local talk radio AM station allowed a lunatic drooling nutcase to have several hours of time on their station.

Among the many insane ravings that spewed from this idiot was the standard tinfoil hat idea that the Pentagon was not hit by American Airlines Boeing 757 on 9/11/2001. Instead it was a missile, a UFO, or the Masons.

Hundreds of people saw it happen, the entire aircraft was found in the wreckage, but these conspiracy carnival barker hucksters will say anything to sell a video tape.

I was glad to see this article, which totally debunks the lunatic tinfold hat’s nonsense theories.


M.C. Escher reincarnated

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

Some mindblowing art by Rob Gonsalves – via Digg.

This are really fasinating.

See the pictures. | digg story


Good X-Prize Cup Information

Monday, May 15th, 2006

Robin Snelson has a good article on the status of the X-Prize Cup 2006 competion.

My impression of the intial draft rules was that were written for Armadillio Aerospce, and also maybe to smoke out Jeff Bezos/Blue Origin.

Robin’s article seems to suggest I was on the right track.


U.S. Air Force Generals – On Crack!

Monday, May 15th, 2006

Female Billy Mitchell

Originally uploaded by JimNtexas.

No Kidding. These are real Generals and Senior NCOs wearing uniforms that are under serious consideration by U.S. Air Force leaders managers for adoption.

The USAF is laying off hard working war fighters for budget reasons, but they have enough crack-smoking Generals to put on this horrible fashion show.

I’ve been in the Air Force one way or the other since 1970. Every new class of generals almost without fail changes the uniforms. Every change is always a pathetic imitation of some other service. We’ve had Army, Navy, Marine and U.S. Airways imitations. Now add Star Fleet to the list of services that can mock us for being their groupies.

This just makes me sick.

air force, usaf, uniforms


I’m not a podfadder!

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

I’m not a pod fadder. It’s been a long time since my last podcast, but I have an excuse.

I’ve had recorder malfunctions twice now. In the first one I pluged the patch cord into the earphone jack. And then last night I recorded a very nice podcast while flying solo to regain my night landing currency. The only problem was that for some reason the recorder recorded only the radio, not my commentary. I can only assume that the audio panel may have been in the ‘pilot isolate’ position. But I swear I heard myself speaking to myself.

In any case, I haven’t podfadded, and there will be more podcasts Real Soon Now.


Airport Motorcade

Friday, May 5th, 2006


Originally uploaded by JimNtexas.

When I stopped by the Austin-Bergstrom airport today (KAUS) I went on to the ramp via the Signature terminal. You couldn’t help notice this unusual Malaysian Gulfstream surrounded by a smal army of milling people. I started to take my camera out when a stern young lady in a black pants suit with an earbud in one ear asked me what I was doing. “I was going to take a picture” I told her. “Please don’t” she said nicely.

So I retreated to the wing of our Warrior, about 200 yards away. By the time I got there this motorcade of limos, suburbans, and police cars rolled up to the airplane.

I believe this airplane was used by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, who was visiting Austin for the World Information Technology conference. Earlier they had closed IH-35 for this motorcade.


A Painful Vist

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

Well, Monday was a bad day. I went to my dentist (“Dr Sid“) at his office, aka “Sid’s House of Pain”, for a routine checkup.

Let me give you more information than you want. I am a walking full-employment program for dentists. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to the dentist until I was about 14. At that time I went in to see an old country dentist who told me my mouth was disgusting and I had 14 cavities. That was the first of many ass-chewings I’ve recieved from the dental community.

During my time in the Air Force I had annual dental exams, which always resulted in multiple fillings, several root canals, and I’d let them pull one tooth.

Shortly after leaving the service a civilian dentist wanted to pull one of my teeth. Remembering how much I regretted letting the Air Force do that I told him I would seek a second opinion. Sid’s House Of Pain was on my way home and at that time he was staying open late on Thursday.

I went in there after work with the XRay and asked for Dr. Sid’s opinion. Sid said he could save the tooth, no problem. And he did, using two metal pins or somesuch to nail it in place. That was six or seven years ago, and I still have that tooth. So Sid became My Man for dental work. I have seen hundreds of dentists in my life, and he’s the best one of all of them. I apprecate the way he only gets mildly hysterical at me, as opposed to some of the screams of anquish I often heard from Air Force dentists .

Sid embarked on a literal five-year plan to completely overhaul my mouth. Over the course of the next five years all the Air Force fillings were replaced with crowns, I had a several more root canals (two from an expert, a couple from Sid), and some bridgework was added. I think I spent about $10,000 out of my own pocket for all this work, but I still have all the teeth I had when Sid started.

Then about a year or two ago, just like that, Sid declared that His Work Was Done and all I need do was floss and see him every six months.

Amazingly, the last two checkups were the first “Look Ma, No Cavity!” experiences of my life.

The last six months seemed uneventful to me. I flossed and cleaned regularly and had no dental discomfort of any kind. When I went in to see Sid on Monday I fully expected that he would find little or nothing amiss. But as soon as the dental tech started cleaning my teeth she started gasping, groaning, and sighing. Not a good sign. Sure enough, after the cleaning Sid come in, pokes around with his probe for a minute, and says “You drink too much soft drink”. “But it’s all diet!” I protest. “Doesn’t matter…acid from soft drinks is eating your teeth, one of your crowns is ruined, you have some cavities, I’ll need to see you twice more as soon we can”. The bill is going to be $1800. Ouch!

But he’s right. I have been guzzling Diet Coke like it was going out of style at work ever since my startup changed locations about six months ago. At the old place we had tea and designer water. The new place has only coke machines. I have to cut all the soft drinks out and start bringing tea or bottle water to work.

My Office

Originally uploaded by JimNtexas.

While this isn’t as bad as what happened to poor Rob, it’s enough to ruin my day. I think of the things I could buy with $1800. That would be 21 hours of Cardinal Flying. A good down payment on a small boat or Honda Nighthawk that I’ve been wanting. Enough money to have a good time at the Oshkosh Airshow. Or a big diamond for She Who May Not Be Named.

It’s not my fault! I’m a victim! I blame President Bush.


Writing about the Sopranos

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

Blogging is a pretty self-indulgent hobby, but there are some rationalizations for it. The best one I can grasp is that it is desireable to improve ones writing, and the only real way to improve ones writing is to write words on paper as often as possible.

I’m a big fan of “The Sopranos” on HBO. Several times I’ve started to write about why I like this TV show, but somehow its never come out right.

I do know that I like movies and TV that have large ensemble casts as does The Sopranos. Examples include pretty much all of the movies by John Sayles, the original ‘Hill Street Blues’, and of course The Simpsons. As a guy trying to raise a family I can identify with some of the struggles and frustrations that poor Tony suffers along the way. I envy his ability to just wack people who get on his nerves. But I find I’m just not articulate enough to really explain why I like this particular soap opera.

Fortunately, I don’t have to. Via The Volokh Conspiracy ( a law professor blog, of all places), I discovered Tim Goodman, a TV reviewer in San Francisco. He really nails this last episode. So from now if anyone asks why I like the Sopranos, I’ll just point them to to Tims blog.