Category Archives: Fun Stuff

Some Motorgliding To Inaugurate Spring

I enjoy writing essays on current events and critiques on U.S. policy as much as anyone, but if I keep my face in that stuff too much along with the unpleasant effects of being so limited in my range, my mind threatens revolt by going absolutely bonkers.

Thank goodness the spring weather’s arrived. The past couple of winters have been a bit more difficult to deal with; being not only dependent on my wheelchair for movement but cooped up in the house for months at a time tries the sanity…I confess there might have been some baying at the moon forthcoming if the weather hadn’t changed.

It’s still a touch chilly around dawn, but certainly not cold enough to stop me from resuming my dawn patrol expeditions to do some flying with one of my micro aircraft on my lap at the parking lot I use about a mile away. Today after months of casting wistful glances at the Nine Eagles box in the corner of the living room, I took the little Sky 500 motorglider my friend Karen made possible for me as a Christmas present along, fired it up, and gave it a toss into the light morning breeze.

What a fun little aircraft! Sailplane flying would probably bore the adrenaline junkies out there, but it suited me fine today. I had a handful of the little cells that power the Sky…they set me back a whopping five bucks plus another eight added for a wall charger for them when I ordered my present…and that gave me over an hour and a half of flying today. Some people disdainfully scoff at the hobby, but these aircraft are far from toys. R/C flying involves my old professional skills to do it well, it’s therapeutic by making me use my weak hand, and I’ve found few activities that can match it for taking one’s mind off real world problems.

The tiny Sky 500 performed better than expected, climbing well under power and showing a surprisingly flat glide with power off at altitude. It was nicely responsive, dealing well with the gusts and chop that had picked up toward the end of my session. It’s hard to be certain, but I swear I found some patches of lift where the plane gained height even with the motor off…the goal of motorless soaring for models and their full size counterparts.

Today’s outing has whetted my appetite for more soaring. Since I no longer have a car payment to make, I do believe I’ll allot the $70 or so for this plane’s bigger brother, the Sky Surfer, as my next addition. While I’m at it, it might be fun to obtain one of the inexpensive keychain video cameras that are popular these days to get some aerial video.Between the planes I enjoyed last year and these new ones, I’ll have a great diversion from fundraising, blogging and column writing for months to come!

While I fervently hope that I’ll be able to drive long before next winter, I’m grateful to this hobby…it’s a true sanity saver!

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Is It Spring Yet?

I know, I shouldn’t wish any of my precious time away, but I was looking at two of my Christmas presents today…it’s gorgeous weather out…and got to pining for the warmer weather.

As you may recall, I went out almost every morning with good (and even not so good) weather this past spring, summer and autumn to indulge my love of aviation with my ultra micro R/C aircraft. All of them are in fine shape and I’ll be flying them, but now I’ve got a couple more in the hangar.

I’ve already talked about my nano Red Arrows-schemed Hawk electric ducted fan jet model, shown here on the right. I’ve been applying some hobby-type TLC to an already decent machine to get it ready to really perform, and the Sky 500 on the left just arrived from China, a gift from my friend Karen. Incidentally, that’s my cell phone between them included for scale…these guys are small!

It’s another item that was sheer fantasy a few short years ago, a capable radio controlled sailplane that only weighs 40 grams, yet can climb under its own power to the altitude of choice, where the pilot can shut down the motor and cruise around looking for areas of rising air to stay aloft, soaring just as full size sailplanes do. To minimize drag, the propeller blades fold once the power’s off from the pressure of air passing it. I used to love flying my 6 foot span glider at the nearby Percy Priest dam here in Nashville, but haven’t been able to do anything like that since becoming disabled and stuck in the house…until now!

My new favorite vendor HobbyKing just started carrying these, so it was a natural choice when Karen told me she wanted to get me something nice for Christmas. If anyone seeing this wants to try one, HobbyKing has just added them to its US-based warehouse. Inexpensive to begin with, now you can save the time and money you’d spend if ordering it from Hong Kong. It’s ready to fly, including the needed transmitter with four AA batteries and one tiny rechargeable lithium polymer flight battery (I ordered a few extras so I can fly as long as I like, at about a buck each it’s no strain on the budget) and it’s entirely assembled…charge the flight battery, bind the transmitter to the plane’s receiver, and off you go! It’s remarkably easy to fly and made of crash resistant EPO foam, a heck of a deal for new or experienced pilots.

Yep, it ought to be a very fun spring!

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Anti Claus Is Comin’ To Town

I always enjoy the Christmas season, even though I’m an unreconstructed agnostic. The lights, sounds, foods and spiritual ceremonies all have their own unique appeal, taken in good measure. Sure, many in this country go way overboard sometimes, but that’s just human nature…I define how much of the hoopla I enjoy to suit myself, and neither expect others to share all of my tastes nor share all of theirs. There are plenty of folks who get carried away by the over-commercialization of the holiday, while others’ religious practices frown on celebrating the holiday at all. I’m happy seeking my own balance.

I appreciate the positive Christian themes of renewal, hope, good fellowship and charity as much as I do the older pagan representations celebrating Yule and the winter solstice in various iterations depending on their origins in old Germanic, Norse or Gothic cultures.

Of the lesser known Christmas traditions, my favorite comes down to us from this last, most commonly associated with Austria. I’m speaking, of course, of the Krampus.

The portrayal of our Americanized Santa Claus, traditionally bringing gifts to good boys and girls and lumps of coal to the bad ones always seemed to me to be just a wee bit one-sided and oversimplified.

I mean, really? Some kid’s rotten all year long and his or her only punishment from Saint Nicholas is a lump of coal?

I never quite thought that was fair, frankly. I’ve personally known plenty of little fiends over time that were mean to animals, bullied their peers, and were guilty of all manner of unpleasant things that clearly warranted worse treatment than just getting a lump of coal in their Christmas stockings. When I eventually got online some years ago, though,  it wasn’t long before I discovered the Krampus, and that finally put life back in balance for me.

If you recall your folklore, the original Saint Nicholas was a bishop and thus about as far from wicked as you could ask for. He was known for giving presents to the kids, especially poor ones, who had been good while driving the devil away by admonishing children to behave decently. Human nature being what it is, his good advice and example weren’t always taken to heart. You and I both know that truly nasty kids would only sneer at a kindly old man with what would seem to them a goody-goody message, so legend provides us with a sidekick who’d be up to the task…enter the Krampus.

This frightening creature accompanies Saint Nick on his rounds, ready to scourge bad kiddies with birch switches or even carry off really naughty ones in a sack to be eaten later or cast into the Pit. With his horns, long red tongue and cloven hoofs he makes a hideous sight, guaranteed to scare the worst kids straight.

Ya gotta like this guy…not only does he serve a useful purpose, but he was suppressed in fascist Austria in the 30s, so he can’t be all bad. Besides, he seems to have an eye for attractive young ladies…in modern Krampusnacht festivals they are often singled out for a friendly swat from his switch.

So you’ve been warned, kids, I suggest you be on your best behavior if you encounter this fellow. Be good, mind your manners…and for goodness’ sake don’t forget to donate to worthy causes at this special time of the year!

Music For Cold Sundays

All hail YouTube!

I’m spending the afternoon doing some computer housekeeping, not the funnest chore but it needs to get done. Since I’m a junkie for input I’ve invariably got a favorite movie or song playing as a comfortable background sound. Today I’m on a YouTube jag, which can be fun in a free-association way. You never know where this sort of activity will take you…I might start with folk or classical and end up with 70s psychedelic rock!

Today, though, since I’m busy I’ve just been putting on one playlist after another to keep my efforts centered on the tasks at hand. Right now I’m listening to Tom Lehrer’s The Elements, the lyrics are the actual periodic table of the elements set to Gilbert and Sullivan’s Modern Major General melody! Check out my playlist if you like, I can’t recommend Tom Lehrer’s witty songs enough, and of course you’re free to make this your own!

Banzai!

To better prepare for the imminent holidays, as well as formally celebrating my Honda being entirely paid off (freeing up a bit of disposable income for the first time in years, I should add), I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a good long while: I placed an order with Asian Food Grocer!

They carry all sorts of great stuff, from seasonings to kitchenware, but the primary attention grabber for me is their huge selection of Asian munchables. I learned about the great cookie stick snack Pocky a long time ago, but when you can find it in American markets it’s invariably the most generic…though still good…boring stuff like plain chocolate or strawberry.

HAH…not any more.

Among other goodies too numerous to catalog, I have some Panda (cookies and cream) and Almond Crush Pocky, stuff you will never, ever see in any local Tennessee market. The natural fruit gummies, baked potato snacks and caramels are all brand new to me as well. Names like Pocky, Collon, Spicky, Panko and Ramune tend to sound a bit odd to American ears unfamiliar with them, but take it from me, they’re delicious. Normally I wouldn’t order drinks or sodas because of the weight, but shipping stays at a flat $6.95 once your order exceeds $25, and it’s free for orders of $100 or more, so experimenting around a bit won’t break the bank.

Color me content with my hoard!

Asian Food Grocer is so far impressing beyond my expectations. Recommended.

I’ll Be Hawk for Christmas

My, my…it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet and I’m already looking forward to spring!

My mom noticed me slavering over an item on the Hobbyking site a week and change ago and insisted I order it for myself for Christmas. That’s not too terribly guilt-inducing; she’s decided that getting me an airplane or two is a new Christmas tradition and it’ll give me something to look forward to for my spring morning outings.

The advancements in miniaturization, better construction materials, and light weight electronics and batteries have brought some amazing stuff to the table over the last few years that was pure fantasy a decade ago. Last year’s ultra micro R/C machines have been loads of fun, and now I’m getting a 35mm electric ducted fan jet model. The Chinese company Skyangel has been releasing machines in this tiny size over the last year and they just came out with a  BAE Hawk military trainer in the bright red colors of the Canadian Red Arrows airshow exhibition team.

Remember, this plane is miniscule…its wing spans just about 14 inches and the aircraft’s all up flying weight is only 3.4 ounces! A guy on RC Groups just got some video of his Hawk flying…this looks like it’s going to be a blast. Another fellow attached a midget keychain video camera to his to get some aerial videography done, now that’s cool stuff.

A lovely kick in the face

So much for my great idea.

I took a bit of time and effort when I posted my intro over at the Honda Element Owner’s Club as I reported yesterday, making it a bit shorter than the ‘about’ page here so I wouldn’t bore the socks off the casual reader, but included enough data to explain my dilemma and why I’d created his blog. I put it in their ‘Greetings and Introductions’ forum, since that looked likeliest. The description said:

“You’re new to the community? Not sure about our rules? This is the forum to use to introduce yourself to other EOC members and to learn the basics about our club and forum. We’re glad you are here…now make yourself known to us and start interacting.”

Cool, I wasn’t sure about the particulars of these rules, but it’s always a sure thing that any web site will prohibit direct solicitation, links from members not known to the community, or advertisements, as it should. We’ve all seen the various types of lowlifes that’ll barge into a group spewing all of the above, usually spamming every available forum with their crap. So I went ahead and told them about the bind I’m in, being sure not to add a single link or even naming this blog, just letting the community know who I was (including my own name) and specifically asking the members and moderators for suggestion and guidance with my project here.

I proofed it and posted it, then took off.

I returned last evening, hoping to see some helpful responses from community members or moderators…maybe someone had a helpful idea or suggestion I hadn’t thought of, ya never know, right?

Surprise! The post was gone. Vanished completely. Odd, I thought perhaps they’d moved it so I checked my member profile and it showed I had zero posts since I joined in 2008. Okeydokey…I wrote a second post, just three or four lines politely asking where my post had gone, reaffirming that I was sincere, not a spammer, and that I was mainly looking for suggestions and guidance at this point.

It was a troubling feeling, you’d think that if I’d violated any rules a moderator would have sent me a note explaining why.

This morning there was a PM from ‘Mike,’ one of the moderators there. Get this:

Your thread(s) were removed because...

...you were evidently soliciting for donations. Yes, your circumstances are unfortunate, but EOC cannot be used for solicitation. The policy is stated here in the forum FAQ.

 You are welcome to repost your intro without mention of your blog, or requests - direct or inferred - for monetary assistance.

 ...mike
 EOC Moderator
Yeehah! This yutz skimmed my post, drew his own conclusions without actually reading it, then vaporized it…way to go, Mike! I just have to post my response, I was rather proud of myself for maintaining my composure:

Hello, Mike-

You didn’t bother to actually read my post before zapping into oblivion, did you? ‘Evidently soliciting,’ my lifeless, dead foot.

A real spammer would have joined that day, had a random jumble of letters for a user name, would have posted the same spam in every forum, full of links, and been unresponsive to communication. A moderator worth his salt could spot the difference in a second.

I came here looking for fellowship and guidance, and got kicked in the face. I’ve been a moderator before, and have never treated a member with such callousness and indifference. No warning, no questions, not the slightest attempt to reach out.

If you’d read my post, I was seeking permission from the members and moderators to discuss my dire situation, and how best to solve it. Sure, if at a later point members felt my cause worthy, I’d have loved it if they visited my blog, participated in open discussion, and contributed to it, but there was never any solicitation.

I’m in a life threatening situation, it directly involves my Honda Element, which I adore, and I’m honestly scared to death that my progressive neurological disease will cause me to fall while I’m trying to use it, leaving me broken and bleeding on the concrete floor.

I feel like a hobo who found his way into a snooty country club and was thrown out by the bouncer before the members could be offended by his presence. Congrats, you threw the riffraff out.

I notice you didn’t even have the courtesy to address me by name, Mike. I suppose you view me as untermenschen…subhuman and not deserving of that courtesy.

Have you ever been that frightened, Mike? Ever really feared for your life from a clear and present danger? It’s not at all pleasant. I suspect you’d feel the same desperation to escape it as I do. Before you have a snicker at my attempt while deleting this note along with my post and call for help, you might want to stop and consider for a moment that what’s happened to me can happen to anyone…even you.

You’ll notice I’m verbose. Guilty…I love the language and using it to communicate which is why I picked the blog format to communicate my distress to the world…and have the ability for the world to communicate back.

I’m trying to make it a warm and friendly place; here it’s cold…cold as ice. Enjoy, I’ll seek warmer climes. Sayonara.

Glenn Horowitz

Hey, sometimes things don’t work out, but I was pretty appalled by the actions of this twerp, being a moderator carries a degree of responsibility with the job, and he acted like a rude moron. I especially liked that last line of his, You are welcome to repost your intro without mention of your blog, or requests – direct or inferred – for monetary assistance. Woohoo..shades of the totalitarian ‘PATRIOT’ Act, huh? Like when the spooks break into your house and trash it, rifle through your computer and papers, but you’re not allowed to talk about it to anyone for…ahem…stern voice…’reasons of national security.’ Give me a break.

I think my take on this was right on, I came into their spiffy country club looking for help and got the bum’s rush. Sure, I’m free to talk about myself so long as I don’t mention anything that might upset the locals or that I’m looking for ideas to better this blog and help it reach more people. Oh yeah, and by the way, Mike…and I’ll speak  s l o w l y  so perhaps you’ll get it this time: I surely am soliciting money for my cause. Here. Not on your message boards…but then I was serious…I won’t be back.

Thanks for the li’l kick in the face, Mike me lad. In return, have a nice BOOT TO THE HEAD on me! ♥

Glenn Horowitz

Let’s see…

Does a PayPal donation button work?

Hallelujah, it does!

Now I’ve got to spiff up the look of the blog. Bear with me, I’m just getting started…

For the moment, you can jump in the cockpit with me on my last landing in an MU-2 back in 2006, and if you enjoyed it, perhaps you’ll consider dropping a buck or few in the kitty. There’ll be more vids and other cool stuff to come, this is just the beginning: