March 2006 gets update got an update today. It seems to work well but the ability to login using an ID from a site still running Drupal 4.6 is missing. So until this site gets updated I'll not be able to login/post over there.

The Green Bus Project

With apologies to those friends who have a band called the Green Dot Project, I'll be posting from time to time on the Green Bus Project. The Green Bus is a 1979 Volkswagen Transporter Type II Canadian model with a Westfalia weekender camper conversion. Since 1980 Green Bus has been in the family. The stories of its past are too numerous to recount in one telling. Among those that stand out the most are the summers spent riding across the west, stopping in one national park and another, venturing into Canada and making memories to last a lifetime. Then there is the first accident I ever had at age 16 and the first year at college when Green Bus was my transportation. It marked our arrival in Colorado by the snapping of the clutch cable on Highway 36 on the way into Estes Park leading to a clutchless trip down Highway 34 to Loveland and on into Fort Collins.


I got promoted today to CW2 (Chief Warrant Officer 2). This is an automatic promotion that occurs two years after becoming a WO1 (warrant officer 1). CW3 will not come along for another 5 years. The cool thing about the CW2 rank is that no can tell if I am brand new or have 4+ years service.

The promotion ceremony was memorable - to say the least. The company commander pinned my new rank on. Then the fun began. I was the last WO1 in the company so the other warrants decided to have some fun. Five or six of them tackled me, held me down, bound me with duct tape, cargo straps, and zip ties, carried me outside, tied me to a post and soaked me with water. It took all six because I put up a lot more of a fight than I think they expected. After all, it wouldnt be any fun if I just gave up. We were all worn out by the end. It was a good initiation into the more senior warrant officer ranks and I think I put up a fight that couldnt help but earn me some respect.

There were cameras clicking away the entire time so I am attaching just a few photos.

The failure of wikis

Dave Taylor has a great article in April's Linux Journal titled The Failure of Wikis. He nails the underlying problems with this form of mediocre way of creating and editing content. Perhaps the funniest part of the page is, however, a reader's comment "If you still have problems I suggest you start hiring smarter people or get smarter friends." The irony is that is exactly one of the points Taylor made - that wikians think those that don't get wikis are just too dense to get it.

It is a rarity to find a wiki that comes close to being as good as a page with comments on it. Each trip I make to Wikipedia leads to much more time spent editing incomplete or inaccurate information than is gained in the gleaning of information originally sought.

Knowing the place

This morning's New York Times brings story of coyote capture in Central Park. While I'm naturally drawn to stories about these beautiful creatures it occurs to me I would likely have not finished the story were it not for last year's trip to Central Park. Having walked much of the park and the area described in the story made it much more interesting.

What does the video say?

Earlier this month a Florida woman was exonerated after spending two and one-half years in jail charged with child abuse. The video from the parent's "nanny cam" appears to show Claudia Muro shaking the child violently. However the nanny cam used shoots video at about 1/10th the rate of a regular video camera. This difference can change gentle back-and forth motion into motion that appears violent. The local CBS station has copies of the video footage.

With the advent of the inexpensive video camera the instances of using video in courts of law or public opinion have increased. At the same time the multitude of ways of capturing and processing video have grown more powerful and complex. These advances bring great possibility to the consumer while making it imperative that video be looked at with a critical eye to ensure it actually shows what is first perceived.

Snowy spring

The first night of Spring 2006 brought snow to the desert southwest. At lower elevations the snow took the form of rain more frequently than snow but it was beautiful and refreshing all the same.

A series of accidents on Columbia Pass and the closure of Columbia Pass as well as State Route 160 near Mountain Springs meant a morning spent at home. The sights of the first day of Spring in Sandy Valley are much better than those from my office.


I am sure that most, if not all of you, have seen the attention that operation swarmer is getting in the media. The term swarm implies a lot of activity and, in that regard it accurately reflects my role in the operation. In other words, I have been flying my butt off.

I was scheduled to do my two week rotation in the planning cell during this time. That planning job is night shift work and involves preparing all of the maps and gps data for the next day's flights. When swarmer came up, however, planning moved a lot higher than me and I got back involved in flying. I have been flying, under night vision goggles, three of the last four nights. My crew has been doing everything from transporting prisoners, to dropping off troops to conduct raids, to picking up cameras and film for use by the media, to flying reconnosance along various roads. I know this sounds exciting but it is not really. It is routine flying. Routine flying, however, makes for good experience and I have been happy to get it. I now have about 200 hours of combat flight time, almost half of which is google flight. That is less than average for our company but pretty good for a new pilot.

I know that a lot of you would like the "inside scoop" on Operation Swarmer to help you make sense of the media hype. Unfortunately I am not in a position to give much additional perspective. Even if I was, I wouldnt really be at liberty to write anything about the operation in this forum. It is very hard for me to see from my vantage point what, if any, long term effect this operation will have on the war in general or Iraq in particular. It seems to me that the media is making it out to be a lot more than it is but I suppose time will tell. All I know for sure is that it is giving me a break from "battlefield circulation" missions and that is a good thing.

Early Spring

Catnip's minty freshness mixes with the edgy onion aroma in the air as the sky fills with clouds bumping into one another as so many bags of cotton candy piling up. Spring is well on its way in Southern Nevada. Though the warmth of the day is somewhat less than the normal 70 degrees for this time of year, the trees are budding out and the grass is greening up. All of which means it is time to get the garden underway. As one who spends most days building with electrons planting season is a perennial favorite. The richness of the soil and dealing in the realm of real things instead of theoretical always refresh the mind.

For gardeners and those considering some improvements to the home landscape, Rain Bird publishes a nice Low Volume Landscape Irrigation Design Manual. Sometimes better know by the name "drip" low-volume irrigation saves not only lots of water but lots of money for its users. With the savings, folks might be interested in Hunter's Wireless Valve System.

Apache crosses the rainbow bridge

The following passage written by a mutual friend pays homage to Apache, a wonderful dog I had the pleasure of working with on a couple of searches. There is never a good time for such a passing. Humankind is drawn from our very primal core to "man's best friend"? only to find that their days are much too short when measured in human lifetimes. Those who are fortunate enough to live life with these beautiful creatures spend a lifetime reconciling how such magnificence can come and go so quickly. All the thought one can muster, however, cannot erase the pain of their departure nor will it diminish the glow of the memories.

December 29, 1993--March 11, 2006

Apache has crossed that rainbow bridge to join the other search dogs and searchers whom have gone before him. He has other dog friends to chase ball or stick with and someone there to throw them for him. He is now free of the ailments of old age that brought him down rapidly the past few months. Unfortunately, it is probable that his illness was accelerated by things he was exposed to while doing his work as a search dog.