Thursday, October 23, 2008

Random Thoughts

Time for some assorted and random thoughts that have passed through my mind. Or more to the point, didn't pass all the way through, but instead got stuck halfway across. Fans of LAX airplane chat and pictures can come back next time, when I may resume the "Where can we go from here" series.

Thanks to my dad, I'm listening to Christmas music as this is written. Having said that, I can't elaborate on this any further at this time. Not that it matters: You can go into either Home Depot and Lowes and hear Christmas music too. They've been playing it for a few weeks now - I bet their employees are already sick of it.

We're having another mini-heat wave, once again in aggravating synch with my days off. As such, instead of tending to any one of the approximately 2,694,527 chores that I've been putting off, I was out and about this afternoon and listening to KCRW, one of our local NPR stations. During one of the program breaks, I heard an underwriting announcement, which is nothing new - but what got my attention was that it was promoting the city of Houston, Texas. I've only heard the promo once, but as a native Houstonian, my immediate impression was embarrassment. The gist of the announcement was that Houston occupies a huge amount of space: the promo reeled off a list of about a half-dozen other major US cities that combined take up less area than Houston. I'm not sure what the point was, but I don't think the listening public is going to think better of Houston for this.

From whence came the so-called 30-second rule? I think my introduction to this concept came in my years in the scouts. For those unacquainted with the idea, the 30-second rule says that if you drop something, usually a piece of food, on the ground or floor, and pick it up again within 30 seconds, it won't have had time to get dirty or contaminated. As I learned it, you have to orally invoke the 30-second rule in order for it to be effective. For those skeptics among my readership, I've also heard of the much more conservative five-second rule. In my current living situation, there are times that even the five-second rule seems dodgy - I find cat hair on stuff even before it hits the floor.

Yesterday, I was helping a neighbor with the vent hose on her clothes dryer. At one point, I made a trip to the plumbing section of the local hardware store. Once there, I was reminded of something I had first encountered a month or two ago: How did golf balls become the measure of a toilet's effectiveness? Several of the new toilets on display had placards touting their ability to flush buckets of golf balls. Who came up with this idea? And how did it come about? Picture the antics that must have taken place in the conference room of the marketing company who developed this concept. What other items did they consider before settling upon golf balls? And who was the lucky stiff whose job it was to test them? I started to research this on line, but got no further than this Wikipedia entry:

Speaking of her clothes dryer reminds me of what, besides just the sheer lack of space, I miss most about not living in a house right now: The lack of laundry facilities. Oh sure, we have a small laundry here in the park, but it's not the same as having your own washer and dryer. Several times I've found myself in some store looking at the laundry appliances on display with longing - much as others might ogle new cars or widescreen TV's. Thanks to one of the cats barfing all over it, I've got the new bedspread in one of the laundromat dryers right now. I need to make sure to go and fetch it before they lock up at nine. He couldn't have barfed on the old bedspread last week.

And speaking of cats. I seem to have been adopted by one here in the park. Where she (I think) came from, I've no idea. I was out working with the roses a few weeks ago and discovered that I had a helper following me around, weaving amongst the pots, playing with my shoelaces and otherwise being generally useful. She's become a regular, appearing pretty much anytime I step outside. The first time I saw her she had a collar, but it's gone now. She must be or have been somebody's - no stray I've ever encountered has been this friendly from the very start. The inside cats are fascinated and always gather to watch out the screen door; once or twice she's almost come in when I've opened it. Although I think she may be still a kitten, I'm not ready for the level of excitement that would cause. I've been talking with my neighbor about how we could get some of the regular local strays fixed, but so far all we've done is talk about it. There's definitely a need: I'll bet we've had at least half a dozen litters of kittens in the park this summer.

Some time back I mentioned my annoyance with pigeons roosting on the top of my hangar doors: And here's the solution:

I just finished reading Flights of Passage: Recollections of a World War II Aviator, by Samuel Hynes. Hynes was a Marine TBM Avenger pilot in the Pacific during the last year of the war. I mention this because he mentions the Japanese Baka bomb, an example of which I showed previously in the museum photo spread:

"I saw an attack happen only once while I was flying. I was out over the water west of the island, patrolling, when Ground Control reported that a Japanese bomber had just dropped a Baka bomb and that it was in flight somewhere between me and the island. (Baka means stupid or crazy in Japanese. A Baka bomb was a tiny suicide plane, powered by a rocket engine and carrying in its nose an armed bomb. It had no landing gear, no armor or defensive armament, no radio, and almost no instruments. It was carried into attack position by a bomber and dropped. The pilot then fired his rocket and flew the bomb into the largest enemy ship he could see. In a revetment near Yontan there was a captured Baka: stubby-winged, fragile-looking, like a toy. It made me sick to look at it. A machine for killing pilots.)

All three of the museums I visited have TBM Avengers, but none of them show particularly well in my pictures:

The green plane with D-Day invasion stripes is the Palm Springs Air Museum's TBM Avenger. Theirs is somewhat unusual, as it's painted in RAF colors: most Avengers in this country are painted in blue U.S. Navy or Marine paint schemes. Thanks to the docents modeling between it and the adjacent T-6, you can see that it's a big airplane - it normally flew with a crew of three.
An example of the customary naval blue scheme: the Planes of Fame TBM,
displayed in their simulated aircraft carrier hangar deck.

The Yanks Air Museum's TBM is currently in their restoration shop.

Here's another shot of the Baka bomb. The aircraft next to it is an F6F Hellcat.
If you look at the museum entry again, the Hellcat appears in the second photo:
It's the one closest to the camera.

Gratuitous P-51 picture. The car in the foreground is a 1940(?) Studebaker Commander. Next to the Commander, reflected in the hubcap, is a 1941 Chevrolet Special Deluxe sedan. I mention this because the rear of the Chevrolet appears in the museum entry photo of the intact T-33. Ironically, one of the blog comments asked about the car in that shot, and I had tried hard not to include the cars in any of my photos. Next time I'll take pictures of the cars instead - it'll probably be easier! The other ironic thing about this picture is that while it was clearly taken at the Palm Springs Air Museum, the lettering beneath the Mustang's cockpit says "Planes of Fame" - which museum is in Chino. Admitedly, Planes of Fame has no shortage of P-51's on display - I can remember at least three. Here's one:
And another:And one more:Interesting coincidence: All of these were shot from the right side


Since I first started on this article last night, I've heard another Houston promo on the radio. This one claimed that the yearly average temperature in Houston is 68 degrees farenheit, and went on to say that there were year-round recreational opportunities. What they neglected to mention is that while the average temperature may be 68, it rarely is actually 68 degrees at any time of the day when a person would find it useful. Another missing tidbit was the fact that usually the humidity makes the average temperature almost a moot point. I imagine that most of the recreational opportunities the actual Houstonian engages in take place indoors - in the air conditioning.

About the lucky stiff whose job it was to test golf balls in toilets: A later search led me to this article:

1 comment:

  1. After reading the addenda, I decided it is a good thing American Standard is sticking to golf balls , at least publicly. They might be advised to post a conspicuous "Don't try this at home!"
    Muffin is cute.