March 30, 2014
Cripple Creek, Colorado
Yesterday was Saturday. Jen's in Houston for Spring Break. The night before (Friday night), I decided I'd spent the night in Colorado Springs.
It's sort of weird to have two places in two different cities and try to decide which place to stay. I spent Friday night in Colorado Springs, got up Saturday morning, and drove to Morrison.
so I got up and went for a long ride through the mountains. Everyone on a motorcycle is out riding every chance they get this time of year. You're sort of threading the needle, trying to get in a ride here and there. If the weatherman says it's going to be 60, you can bet your sweet ass that the bikes will be out in droves, and they are.
Steve says a young rider picks a destination, but an older rider picks a direction. I get on my bike and start riding, and as I ride, I start to get excited about the possibilities of where I might go. Of where I could go. Maybe I could go up to St. Mary's Glacier...or to Rollinsville...or down the canyon through Golden Gate Canyon.
As I ride, I pass other riders, and at first, they don't wave at me. And I get sort of bummed out and start thinking that maybe the riders in Colorado aren't as friendly as I'd remembered. But then, they start waving, and you have to realize that life is like this. You win some, you lose some. And if you let the losses get you down, or change your outlook, then this is just silly. Not everyone on this earth is going to like you. Or be nice to you. Or be friendly. Fuck them. They don't matter. Move on.
So I end up rolling up the Central City Highway and it dumps you out in the middle of downtown Central City, not that anyone cares. Not that it matters. The place is a ghost town. Black Hawk overtook them in the gambling industry, and a new trillion dollar highway won't change that.
I roll down into Black Hawk and hit Highway 119, the famous Peak to Peak Highway.
Now, I have to choose a direction. North? Or South? I can't really remember which way the Golden Gate Canyon is. So, I pull out my cell phone. Turns out, it's North. So I roll out North towards Rollinsville. For some reason, the signs direct me onto a dirt road, which I don't recall at all. Eventually, it dumps me into Coal Creek Canyon, and I know where I am now, but the signs completely fucked me. They steered me away from Golden Gate Canyon, for whatever reason. Thanks for that.
Eventually, I wind my way down to get my hair done down the hill.
On the way back, I decide to stop and get Jennifer the Easter Bunny for sale at King Soopers. I go inside, find the rabbit, buy it, and bring it home on the motorcycle. The rabbit is roughly 3-4 feet tall, and it's hard to miss, on the KTM. It's like I have another passenger.
He's too big to go out with, so I take him home, shove him in the closet, and decide to crash for the night.
In the morning, I get up and I'm trying to think of what to do. I can't really come up with a plan. Finally, about noon, I get up and decide to drive the KTM down to Colorado Springs. I want to get down there in the daylight hours. Before it gets too cold. So far, I've only had my Tahoe down in the Springs. It's too cold in the morning for me to get on the bike and take off on a 1 hour 15 minute ride. I just can't do it. The Tahoe is a luxury because it has this compartment of air that travels with you, making the drive tolerable, instead of a freezing cold nightmare from hell.
So I roll out and decide to stop by and pick up another Easter Bunny on the road. Head by another King Soopers, and pick up another giant Easter Bunny. Then, head south on Highway 285 to Pine Junction, then south through Pine...at this point, I don't really know where the road goes. So far as I can recall, I've never been down this far before. I mean...maybe I have...but it's really fuzzy. Maybe never. I'm not sure.
Just rolling south through the mountains...lots of burned out forests. I spend a lot of time thinking about the forests. But, really, I don't have a better plan for the forests. They're all beetle kill and forest fires and they look like shit, but honestly, I think this is sort of nature's plan. I'm not sure that cutting fire breaks and thinning them is any better, honestly.
Some of the houses are sort of nice, but it's hard to imagine living out here all isolated and all. I mean...it's just too isolated, really. We're an hour from nowhere at this point.
Then, I turn a corner, and I recognize where I am...Charlie and I came down here fly fishing one summer many years ago. God how the years slip by.
Now, I keep going, and I'm following the South Platte River....I sort of loosely remember this...and now, the town of Deckers. I've been here a few times before. I met a guy here when I bought the canoe. What year was that?
Now, south out of Deckers on Highway 67. I'm looking around and I decide I've never been here before. But then, some parts start to look familiar. And the funny thing about the brain is that, when I see these pieces...and it triggers memories...I can always place the pieces. This puzzle piece reminds me of a turnout outside of Ouray, Colorado. That's where that piece fits.
But now, more pieces. This looks familiar. More familiar. We came back this way...with Wendy one time....maybe when she and I went to Santa Fe. She knew this shortcut/backway back and we came this way. For sure.
So, maybe for the whole trip, I didn't ever really find anything new. Maybe I just am retracting my steps that I'd forgotten over the years. It's weird getting old. It's hard to understand, really.
At Woodland Park, I turn west on 24 and get up to Divide. At Divide, I'm supposed to turn south and make it up to Cripple Creek. But it's cold. Windy. Weather isn't really looking all that good. Not inviting, really. I'm tired. Cold. Hungry. I stop at this little BBQ place in Divide.
Go inside and get some nice BBQ. The woman's from Dallas. Knows her shit. Sets me up with a BBQ sandwich. I decide that it's too cold to finish my trip. And head back down the hill to Jose Muldoons.
March 21, 2014
I put my application in to see if I could be a photographer.
Oh? A photographer?
March 13, 2014
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370)
So, I've been following this crazy missing airplane fairly closely for the last 5-6 days. I think that, at this point, they have a pretty good idea about where it went down in the Indian Ocean. The United States is sending a boat/ship to an unspecified location in the Indian Ocean right now. The trick is that ACARS was constantly pinging a satellite with the location of the airplane for about 5 hours after the flight crew turned off ACARS and the transponder for whatever reason.
So, they have a pretty good idea where this plane went down. What's hard to understand is why?
They say that the simplest explanation is usually the right one, but there's no simple explanation for this at all. Not even close.
A Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-2H6ER ( 9M-MRO ) departed KUL bound for PEK.
The plane took off shortly after midnight local time (MYT) from Kuala Lumpur heading to Bejing airport. About an hour into the flight, they left Malaysian airspace, and would then be handed over to Vietnam airspace flight controllers. They said "Goodnight" to the air traffic controllers in Malaysia, but never said a word to the flight controllers in Vietnam.
"Two U.S. officials tell ABC News the U.S. believes that the shutdown of two communication systems happened separately on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. One source said this indicates the plane did not come out of the sky because of a catastrophic failure.
The data reporting system, they believe, was shut down 1:07 a.m. The transponder -- which transmits location and altitude -- shut down at 1:21 a.m."
Flightradar has data till 1:21 a.m., meaning ADS-B (Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) was transmitting until then.
So, they shut off the ACARS data reporting system at 1:07 a.m., then shut down the transponder at 1:21 a.m., 14 minutes later.
Chinese military radar reported plane showing steep descent after transponder turned off, heading change from 020 to 330
Either the ACARS Data Reporting System went down at 1:07 a.m., or the last ACARS message was sent/received at 1:07 am. However, it's possible that the ACARS system could still be operating, but because messages are sent at intermittent intervals, it may have been working but had nothing to report?
But ACAR's transmissions are not continuous - so this does not mean ACARS shut down at 1:07 a.m., just that this was the last time it sent anything.
But the SATCOM network interrogations pings continued, even though ACARS data was not being transmitted. This suggests that ACARS was somehow disabled in some way other than by disabling SATCOM.
The SATCOM/VHF/HF radios are all discrete avionics blocks and are separate from the avionics blocks generating the message traffic on the radio signals. The radios aren't dumb signal-forward devices, they have intelligent modems that build the digital link over the radio wave. Think the PHY device on a network card or the optical transceiver module in a router or switch. The data messaging level is one step back, you push the message onto the radio's input channel and it encodes it into a modulated analog signal and sends it on over the antenna.
If you disable or fail the block that generates the ACARS messages, or the transponder block, and the SATCOM block remains powered and operational, you would get the situation where the SATCOM keep-alive signals are present, but no data can flow.
The CBs for SATCOM are not on the flight deck but are located down below in the EE bay (electronics equipment bay).
To cut ACARS you need to access the electronics bay behind and under the cockpit.
Turning off transponders, and VHF Data Link radios for the ACARS system is more straight forward through the control tuning panel. But shutting down the Satellite communication is not as straight forward and may have not been turned off.
ACARS and SATCOM are two different "boxes". ACARS compiles information, and then sends it with SATCOM (in this case). Pulling the breaker(s) on either one would stop ACARS transmissions but I'm pretty sure you need to get to the electronics bay in either case.
On PPRuNe a 777 pilot mentioned that you can simply turn on/off various ACARS broadcasting modes (VHF/HF/SATCOM) from the computer right there in the cockpit
But you need to pull the CB in the EE bay to stop SATCOM from pinging.
Quoting captainx (Reply 136):
No. The circuit breakers are located in the E/E bay."
Only the SATCOM, VHF/HF are in the cockpit.
Instead, they turned off the transponder, turned off ACARS, descended 3,000 ft, and turned west, flying back across the Malaysian peninsula undetected on a dark moonless night. The military primary radar tracked them, but wasn't sure what plane they were seeing, as the transponder had been turned off.
They did not turn off ACARS 10 minutes before the transponder - on this ship the ACARS data was from the engines and it only transmits 'on occasion'. The last ACARS transmission happened to be 10 minutes before the transponder stopped.
The SATCOM pings are NOT ACARS data. ACARS does use satellite communications when out of VHF range. But the SATCOM is the transmitter - and it is used for lots of stuff. The SATCOM 'reportedly' sent keep alive pings every hours or so to the satellites.
Disabling the transmission of ACARS over SATCOM from the flight computer, I assume, would not power down the actual SATCOM hardware, meaning it would still be sending keep-alive packets to the satellites.
After they crossed the Malaysian peninsula, and the Strait of Malacca, then they were over open water, and flew for 5 more hours. The last ping from MH370 came at least 5 hours after vanishing, with the last ping indicating that they were at cruising altitude over water. Each ping that came from the 777's SATCOM included GPS coordinates, altitude, and speed. We know exactly where MH370 last pinged Inmarsat's satellite constellation, and a ship from the US Navy is sending a vessel there right now.
We know this because the plane kept pinging the satellites with the plane's location as it flew thousands of miles off course, eventually running out of fuel and crashing into the Indian Ocean.
Best guess at this point is pilot suicide. Possibly, the reason that the plane flew for 5 hours after turning off the transponder and the ACARS was so that the CVR and FDR would write over the initial data from the time of the hijacking. Maybe this was a scam tot ry to collect life insurance for the pilot or the co-pilot.
Malaysia Air only uses one pilot and one copilot for this flight. The pilot had a flight simulator in his home and had been flying the Boeing 777 for over 15 years and knew this route extensively.
Probably the pilot locked the copilot out of the cockpit when he went to the bathroom. Depressurized the cabin, causing hypnoxia in the plane cabin. The pilot would have been using an oxygen mask. And then, why he chose to fly for 5 more hours is pretty much anyone's guess.
It's possible, even probable, that the pilot also turned off the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. So, we may never know what really happened, even if we find the plane.
Although some of the Boeing 777-200 planes have satellite phones for the passengers on the plane, no phone calls were made. This could be because this plane didn't have the satellite phones, or because they were turned off.
March 10, 2014
I was sort of roughly trying to figure out how many miles I drove last year on the motorcycle(s). I figure it breaks out roughly like this:
1) I drove from SF to Denver in May on an XR650L. I don't take the interstate, of course. I go through Yosemite, then US-6 to US-50 to I-70. The way I go, it's about 1,220 miles.
2) I drove the KTM from Moline, Illinois, to Panama City, Panama. According to the KTM 990 speedometer, this was roughly 5,602 miles.
3) Flew the KTM to Jackson, MS.
4) Drove the KTM to Goodland, Kansas which was essentially the end of my motorcycle driving for the year. We loaded up the KTM in the back of Robert's truck and when we got home, my odometer when I got home said 8,019 miles, so that means I drove roughly 2,417 miles to get from MS to CO.
Then, over the rest of the summer/fall, I ran it up to 9,500 miles.
So, total miles driven on my motorcycles last year was 1220 + 9500 = 10,720 miles.