Saturday, April 28, 2012

Is Anyone Out There?

I have a problem I hope someone can help me with.  For reasons I don't understand I can no longer access the analytics for this Blog.

For those of you not familiar with them, analytics provide a wealth of information.  I can see how many folks have visited the blog each day, week, month, and even for the last year.  I can see which articles have been most popular.  I can tell where the folks are coming from.  I owe much of what success I have to James at Hellinahandbasket and Zack at The Next Chapter.

I was never surprised to discover my largest concentraton of readers are from Texas.  I was surprised, not unpleasently, to discover the next higest concentration of readers is consistently from New York State.

I am pleased to say I have readers from all over the world.  Most of the time the majority are from the United States.  The day I posted Spitfires on a Mission it was well recieved, but that night there were more readers from Germany than anywhere else.  That was the only time that has happened.

There are changes taking place on Blogger that I am trying to cope with, but I need help.  If anyone can tell me what happened to the analytics link and how to get there I would be greatful.  I would contact Blogger with this question, but as far as I can tell there is no way to do so.

So, in the meantime, if folks could drop me a comment to let me know your out there I would be grateful.

Monday, April 16, 2012

100 Years Ago Today - Harriet Quimby

Timing is everything, so discovered Harriet Quimby, an Aviation Pioneer you have probably never heard of.

Harriet was a force to be reckoned with. She was a journalist and theater critic in New York City in the early 1900’s. She even wrote early screen plays. When she discovered aviation she entered that world with the same intensity as everything else in her life.

Her first major accomplishment was getting flight training. The Wright Brothers did not teach women to fly in 1910. It seemed no one would even discuss it. At long last she convinced Alfred Moisant to be her instructor after meeting him and his sister Matilde. As a result Harriet was the first American Woman to become a licensed pilot. But the license was only the first step. She needed to make her mark in aviation and thought she knew just how to get everyone’s attention.

In March of 1912 Harriet set sail for England with a letter of introduction to Louis Bleriot. Louis had thrilled the world on July 25, 1909 when he became the first man to cross the English Channel in an aircraft of his own design. In a series of meetings Harriet persuaded him to lend her a Bleriot XI similar to (if not the) one he had crossed the Channel with himself.

This was a different era in aviation. The fifty horse power Bleriot had no ailerons. Banking was controlled by a system called wing warping, changing the shape of the wing to control roll. I’ve known a number of pilots who have flown older planes with this type of control. NO ONE prefers it! The plane Harriet used was equipped with a compass. Louis assured her he wished he had one when he made his crossing. Harriet was taught to use it the morning of her channel flight.

On April 16, 1912 Harriet took off in the Bleriot XI for the first time and headed across the English Channel. The weather was dismal, but she plowed on through poor visibility and fog. Louis Bleriot’s flight took thirty seven minutes. Fifty nine minutes after Harriet took off she touched down near Hardelot, France. The crowd greeted her wildly, but that was about the only recognition she received.

Timing is everything.

You must remember dear reader; the RMS Titanic had just sunk the day before. News papers all over the world were printing every scrap on information they could find and the public was clamoring for more. Harriet did have enough clout with in New York to have the story run, but the best they could manage was page 17 in the New York Times.

Harriet Quimby would have overcome this in time, but that was a luxury she didn’t have. Three months later to the day - July 16, 1912 – she was involved in a fatal flying accident. One can only wonder what she could have accomplished with more time.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

100 Years Ago Tonight – Titanic

We have heard the story all our lives. 100 years ago tonight, on April 14, 1912 at eleven forty PM, the RMS Titanic stuck a glancing blow on an Iceberg 375 miles south of Newfoundland. It was actually on April 15, 1912 the ship “not even God could sink” went down. She was four days into her maiden voyage. Two hours and forty minutes after the iceberg strike she slipped beneath the waves taking the lives of 1,514 people in the process. I will not retell the story here. I am sure others can and will do that. I am more interested in the effect Titanic’s legend has had on our lives.

Titanic was more famous in death than she ever would have been in life. Over the years there have been hundreds of articles, books TV Specials and Movies to keep the story alive. The 710 survivors were haunted for the rest of their lives by a cruel celebrity. I can remember as a child seeing news stories about reunions of the survivors, often on the anniversary of
the sinking.

The last survivor, Millvina Dean, passed away in 2009 at the
age of 97. She was two months old when she was lowered to a lifeboat in a sack and spent the rest of her life famous for something she had no memory of.

For more than seventy years the location of the ship was a mystery. That changed in 1985 when she was located in 12,415 feet of water. Since then the already thriving Titanic industry has swelled to include mining the debris field and high price submarine rides to visit the wreak.

Problems for the Titanic didn’t end with sinking. Due to the growth of iron-eating bacteria on the hull she is growing into the seabed. Visitors who want to see the Titanic still resembling the ship she was will probably need to visit in the next fifty years. Luckily the images will last forever.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Voting For or Against

It was four years ago I stood in line at a local convenience store waiting to pay for my gas and listening to folks talk about the upcoming election, not unlike today. I forget the exact question and my answer, but it was followed up by some coward in the back of the room piping up “You just don’t want a Black President!”

If he weren’t a coward I don’t think he would have wanted to stay anonymous. In the silence that followed I replied“I don’t have a problem with a Black President. I don’t have a problem with a Female President. I don’t want THIS Black or FemalePresident. Get Condoleezza Rice to run and I’ll vote for both.”

Of course that didn’t happen, and the folks in the crowd considered that answer to be as wrong as the earlier one. Truth is I don’t talk politics that much, other than gun rights. I trust no one is foggy where I stand on the second amendment. But the words of Edmund Burke burn in my ears – “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” With that said this is my first, and probably only, political blog.

This will be the eleventh time I have voted in a presidential election. In review I have faced a sad truth. I can count on one hand the times I voted for a candidate.

I’m not saying the times the guy I voted for won the election, but rather the times I have looked at the field of candidates and said “This is someone I can support.” Most of the time I have voted for a place holder, someone to put into office rather than the guy that scared the living hell out of me. As often as not I cast the vote with “God forgive me” on my lips. This may be one of those times.

I know many folks who make symbolic votes, writing in Mickey Mouse or voting for a candidate who can’t possibly win. I would beg folks not to take that route.

President Obama has done many things I am opposed to, but the handling of the health care plan makes my skin crawl. Our law makers were urged to vote for a two thousand page plan they had not read. The reasoning was that it was too important to delay. Just pass it! Once it’s law we can fix what we don’t like! The best part enough or our elected offices – “the people looking out for us in Washington”(?) bought into it.

And the fixing, that’s still going on and being fought every step of the way.

If all contracts were handled that way it would be a very interesting world.

I don’t want to think about what this man would be capable of as a lame duck.

Friday, April 6, 2012

News - Not Unexpeted

I got a call from my sister Alesia last Saturday (March 30). She told me my Aunt Frances, my fathers sister, had passed away that morning. This was not unexpected, but still sobering.

The world knew her most of her life as Mrs. Frances Fisher, a life long resident of Moore County, Texas. She married my Uncle Thurman in 1941, and they were only parted by World War Two until he passed away in 1996.

To me she was, and will always, be Aunt Tansy. For the life of me I can't recall where the nick name came from.

Aunt Tansy was the strong one who looked after those around her. She gave wise councle.

When we are young we expect parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins to be with us forever. All too often we don't realize what a treasure they are until they are gone.

We had Aunt Tansy for 93 years. The years ahead will be poorer for her absents.

God's speed Aunt Tansy. You were loved and will be missed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Post will be hit and miss for a while

Once again the computer is headed to the shop. I am back on the kerosean powered dial up Presario until further notice.

Hang in there folks. Like Arnold, "I'll be back!"