Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Parents and In-Laws

Well, boy howdy.

This weekend The League's parents and The League's In-Laws arrived. And The League is now a very tired League.

We did NOT go to Ostrich Fest. After 140 rainless days, it rained all day on Saturday. Literally, from when i woke around 7:30 until when I went to bed at 11:00, it rained. So no Village People for us.

Sunday we tried to go to Ostrich Fest, but someone decided the all dirt parking lot wasn't dry enough, and that nobody could park at the Ostrich Fest. So, maybe 150 yards away we could see all the rides whilring and twirling, but completely empty. And all 6 of us were packed into a Mazda 5, just stuck.

The gomer in charge of traffic redirected us to the Community College parking lot directly across from our neighborhood, where we would have been one of the first 150 or so cars to arrive. The line, however, reflected the carloads of people form the first batch of cars. The teen-age kid directing traffic informed us "the" shuttle (I assume meaning one) would be by in 20 minutes. Quickly doing the math that the first shuttle hadn't yet arrived, and that there was a mile long line headed into the Ostrich Fest (where people would be told there was no parking) led me to believe it could take up to two hours just to get to the Ostrich Fest. Let alone depart in the evening.

Anyhoo, no Ostrich Fest.

We did go see the movie, "The World's Fastest Indian" which I plan to review at some point over at Nanostalgia.com.

Sunday the MEN jumped in The Admiral's pimpin' rented white Taurus and headed to Tucson to visit the Pima Air and Space Museum. Leaguer's, you wouldn't think Tucson would be much of place for a museum, but aviation and electronics development are big business down there, and it's reflected in the sprawling complex with hundreds of planes on site.

A brief list of what's on hand of note

SR-71 Blackbird
F-111 (a big thrill as I had a poster of one of these and a B-1 when I was in middle school)
F-4U Corsair
Super Guppy
three presidential planes, including a prop plane used by Kennedy and Johnson which we got to tour
three B-52's

and a B-36 which was being restored.

Very nice day.

Two items struck me as we toured the museum:

1) I was reading the plaques near each plane and noticing the dates of development and use for planes. We are no longer living in an era of wild progress. We've given up the pioneering spirit of discovery and invention for multiple redundant safety systems and iPods. I am certain new planes are being developed, but it's impossible in this age to imagine so much innovation occuring simultaneously as companies rush to create perfection in flight once again. Faster processors? Check. Bigger TV's, check. Feasible mission to Mars or Moon Colony? uhhhh

The SR-71, able to travel Mach 3 at a ceiling of 80,000 feet (that's as much as has been declassified) is now sitting there collecting dust while we let satellites do the work. The SR-71 was developed more than 10 years before I was born.

You have to think there's value to the development of such aircraft. And moreover, there's got to be value to the world in knowing that development of faster and better aircraft is possible, if, for no other reason, than to spark the imagination. What value does a 747 have to kids growing up today? It's a bus that flies. I am sure there's a highly classified follow-up to the SR-71 (just as it took a while for us to learn about the B-2). But the era of innovation, of multiple new jets entering the skies each year and seeing what can be done... that era is over. Give us our repairs on our 737 and begone with you.

The museum sat close to he local Air Force base, and it's a hell of a thing to watch a C-130 doing touch-and-goes, and to see people training in an A-10.

2) The other thing to see, the thing that's heartbreaking, was to first walk through Hangars 3 and 4 and see the bombers from World War II and look inside. As magnificent as the planes are fromt eh outside, on the inside it's all sheet metal and wire. You forget watching these things in the movies that it's a 1/8th of an inch of metal that stood between the crew and flak, metal that looks like it would peel away with a good hit from the claw of a hammer.

Looking into the B-17 (beautifully restored and housed in a special hangar/ museum dedicated to the 390th) reveals a cramped and confined space with wooden platforms for walking or sitting, and areas exposed directly to the elements. And this is what we used to bomb Berlin.

Anyway, once every few years I get a chance to hit an aviation museum, and this may have been the best one I've toured since the Smithsonian's Aviation Annex.

And... today...

Cubs fans poured into Mesa, AZ for a Spring Training match between the Seattle Mariners and the Chicago Cubs. In my old age basebell is finally growing on me. I'm no longer too ADD to sit for 3 hours and appreciate a game as it unfolds.

Unfortunately I didn't keep up with the Cubs last year, so I have no idea who any of the players are anymore. They appear to need some work, but they did get a few runs in.

I love baseball crowds. Everybody comes out to see baseball. And to sit in a park where you're closer to the pitcher than the outfielders if fantastic. Terrific afternoon.

Anyhoo, Doug comes in tomorrow evening.

Get your Mellie Nominations in.

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