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And another season comes to an end.  The 76th International Bonspiel finished up this afternoon and with it, so did this winter’s curling season.  The year wasn’t bad, but I sure could have done without three and a half days of catnaps interspresed with mad bouts of sweeping curling rocks.  I normally play the skip’s position and don’t do a whole lot of sweeping, but for this tourney, I was playing as a lead.  That involved throwing the first two stones of each end and sweeping the other three guy’s rocks.  My shoulders are letting me know it’s been a very very long time since I’ve done that.  The team I was on ended up playing quite a few more games than I expected to play which was kind of a double edged sword.  One side was that the season just kept on going and I really wasn’t ready to end it yet. The other is I’m baked to a crackly crunch and feel like I’m 108 years old. 

We’ve shut the compressors off at the club, pulled all the rocks off the ice, and  brought the season to a fitting end.  It’s in the mid fifties ouside, the beer’s cold and flowing, the sun’s up, and the snow’s melting fast.  Spring has finally arrived.  Where’s my fly rod???

At least til next September when we do it all again!


Why am I not surprised at this

Seems our boy Barry, in true weasel fashion, is ditching the opening day game (in DC, no less) of our national pastime. The following is courtesy of Weasel Zipper: 

Dandy-in-Chief Won’t Throw First Pitch on Opening Day

And who can blame him? — You can tell from his previous fopperies that he never learned America’s pastime when he grew up in Pakistan or Indonesia or wherever else the undocumented poser may have been preened.

(POLITICO) — Stephen Strasburg isn’t the only pitcher who will be missing from the mound when the Washington Nationals host the Atlanta Braves this afternoon to open the 2011 Major League Baseball season. President Barack Obama won’t be on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch either.

Like Strasburg, the 22-year-old phenom who underwent Tommy John surgery in September to repair ligament damage in his right elbow, Obama may be letting his wounds heal. The president got a PR pummeling earlier this month for taking time away from world affairs to appear on ESPN to reveal his March Madness basketball picks.

Or perhaps the president is still sensitive after the national chortling he set off when he appeared in his high-waisted “dad jeans” at an earlier All-Star Game — although he seemed to make up for that fashion flub at last year’s home opener when he sported khaki trousers, a red Nats jacket and a Chicago White Sox cap as he launched a high toss in the direction of Ryan Zimmerman.

Another possibility is that Obama’s absence could be calculated to avoid a possible boo beatdown from fans unhappy with . . . well, pick your gripe. It wouldn’t be the first time a baseball crowd heckled a president: As the Great Depression and Prohibition dragged on in the early ’30s, Herbert Hoover was verbally roughed up at a World Series game in Philadelphia by a crowd that chanted “We want beer!”

Whatever the reason for Obama’s absence, he is departing from a largely unbroken, century-old tradition that began with William Howard Taft on opening day 1910 when the hometown Senators took on the Philadelphia Athletics. (The Senators won, 3-0, as Walter Johnson fired a one-hitter.) For you trivia fans, the first president to take the show on the road was Richard Nixon, who launched the 1973 season from Anaheim Stadium, home of the California Angels. (They won, too, 3-2.)

This isn’t Obama’s first whiff. He skipped out on the 2009 opener as well, sending Joe Biden to Baltimore in his place. In characteristic fashion, Biden trotted to and from the mound like a JV player getting his big break.

In Obama’s (and Biden’s) place this year, the Nationals will have five flag officers — one from each branch of the U.S. military — throw the ceremonial first pitches. It’s safe to say no one will boo them.

Is this guy afraid of a little heckling because he throws like a girl or is he afraid of getting booed out of the ballpark because he’s a weasel?  Either way, it’s pretty damn sad.    (Bet ya a nickel he’d have bounced it short…  the wimp)

The boys of summer

It’s baseball season again!!  And with the start of the new year there’s only two things I have to say:

1.  The Cubs are gonna make it 103 years


2. Yankees SUCK!

Any bets our boy Barry  bounces the first pitch in front of the plate?


or maybe winter.  Who can tell?  It’s snowing yet again in the Frozen Freakin’  North and the weatherguessers are calling for lows to -10 again this week.  No matter.  The sun’s up from before 6 AM till way after 8 PM now and it’s just staying light longer every day.  Spring has got to be on its way.  At least I hope it is because somewhere under this two foot thick blanket of snow is four feet of ice and under that is water full of trout.  And I’m jonesin’ for the feel of a fly rod attached to one of ’em.  It’s been a long winter.

This weekend marks the start of the 76th Annual International Bonspiel at the Fairbanks Curling Club. (  It’s four days of round the clock curling intermixed with the quaffing of frosty cold carbonated adult malt beverages.  All in all, a really good time and a great way to end another season.  I get a bit of a break this year; my first game isn’t until 10:30 PM Thursday night.  After that it all depends on win or lose.   So if I’m short a post or two this weekend it’s because I’m on the ice…

 And having said that, I’m off to get ahead on what will surely be a serious lack of sleep.

Victory is mine!

Or so I hope.  It appears we’ve found and corrected the oil leak on the Caravan engine.   We replaced a couple of suspect seals on the front end while one of the Gang of Three (does three constitute a gang?) replaced the dodgy tachometer generator.  Slapped the cowls back on, dragged it outside, and spun it up.  No leaks noted and the tach works as advertised.  I really like running jet engines.  Kinda miss being able to bang in the old afterburners though.  That was way too much fun.

We even managed to get the Embraer from hell back inside and ran the rudder through its paces.   The primary travels are fine, but the rudder trim isn’t quite right.  Trim is the fine adjustment Joe Pilot can make via a secondary set of controls to compensate for weight, wind, or minor differences in flight characteristics.   What it does is lessen the amount of felt force needed to keep the plane flying straight and level.   Think about how you feel if your car is pulling to the left as you drive  and you have to keep some right pressure on the steering to stay in the lane.  Trim does away with that pressure and is aviation’s way of making it easier to stay in the right lane. 

We’ll get it sorted out.  We actually made a little progress today….

No steps forward,

Two steps back.  Today was supposed to be a move ahead kinda day.  One of those days where you get things accomplished and have visual signs of progress.  Didn’t quite work out like that….

We’ve been hammering on this Embraer for the last week.   We  needed to borrow a special tool from another airline to check the rudder travel dimensions, so we called last week and asked them to shoot it our way.  We have everything ready to do this check and the tool finally showed up this afternoon.   The downside is the one hydraulic lift we have in the hangar that’s tall enough to reach the tail of this airplane is broken.  There’s no way to do the check without getting to the upper reaches of the tail.  My two cohorts and I spent the day fixing the things that make me crazy like touching up paint and cleaning under the floorboards.  All those little cosmetic things that you know need to be worked but don’t really affect the safety of the aircrew or the airplane.  Until about 4:30 this afternoon.

Joe “Golden Hands” Pilot comes back from the end of the runway with an engine issue on the Caravan.  The Caravan is a big single engine turboprop built by Cessna and looks like every other single engine Cessna ever built except that it’s on steroids.  The gang at Cessna stuck one of Pratt & Whitney’s best engines on the front of this beast; the venerable PT-6.  This engine is as reliable as Old Faithful and virtually bulletproof, so when I have a pilot come back with an engine issue, I get a wee bit concerned.  

He calls our flight dispatch guys on the way back, they call me, and I meet him at the door of the jet when he shuts it down. I climb up into the right seat and say let’s go for a ride.  The engine start-up goes exactly the way the book says it should and I’m starting to get a bit skeptical.  This guy’s been flying this type of airplane a very long time so I tend to believe him when he says there’s a problem, but still…  Golden Hands gives me the brief on what he saw happen while we taxi to a relatively dry spot on the airfield where we can run the engine to maximum power without sliding on ice.  Sure enough, everything runs perfectly fine.  I try a few things, check some different settings on throttle and prop blade pitch, even wind the clock.  Not a hiccup.   GH takes us back to the ramp in front of the hangar and shuts everything off.  Just for kicks, I open the cowlings around the engine and take a peek.  There’s far too much oil laying in there for my tastes.   This particular engine was just taken off the plane, overhauled, and reinstalled by another company.  Something’s leaking and we have the honor of trying to find it.  Imagine taking your garden hose, sticking it under the hood of your car, spraying it, then trying to find the first place the water hit.  That’s the task ahead.  As far as the original issue?  Using superior troubleshooting ability and outstanding technical expertise,  I reckoned that the part which tells the tachometer how fast the engine is spinning is going bad.  We have one and it’s about an hour-long job to change it. 

So,  I started the day out with four good airplanes with the potential to make it five, and ended the day with three good ones.  At least last night’s snow started melting off today….

It’s baaaaaaaaaaaack…..

There I was…enjoying the balmy spring weather here in the Frozen Freakin’ North.  We’re up over 12 hours of sun above the horizon, the birds are out and the daytime temps are running into the high 30’s.   Even the roads were beginning to thaw and the ice coating left over from our little rainstorm in November was starting to recede.  All in all, just a great time to be alive.  Until this afternoon. 

What started out as a gorgeous March Sunday has turned into something I’d expect to see in October.  Snowing like hell.  I was about ready to put the sled up for the season, drain the gas out of the snowblower, and turn my thoughts to getting next year’s stock of firewood cut & split.  I was even going to run the truck through the car wash this afternoon. 

It’ll be interesting to see just how much of this white stuff  we get tonight….  By the way, Joe Weatherguesser was calling for clear skies all day with temps in the 40’s.  I wish I had a job where I could be wrong 90% of the time and still make six figures.

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