Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Sad Time for Model Railroaders Caboose Hobbies Closing its Doors

Caboose Hobbies is closing its doors. The landlord is not renewing the lease and the owners have decided to retire. While it doesn't seem like something like this would have an immediate impact on gamers and painters it removes a major source of easy access to materials for scenery, different types of paints, airbrush equipment and all kinds of other stuff suitable for gaming and diorama building.

Yes, I know I can buy everything I need online. But that store is truly an experience as you would expect from the Worlds Largest Model Train Store (certified by the Guiness Book of World Records no less). I loved taking out of town guests and painters to the store and watch them go wild purchasing all kinds of stuff that they might eventually need!

I'm going to hope that maybe some of the current employees decide to band together and buy out the store and open it up in another local spot. This store really is an institution. I started going to it when we moved to Colorado in 1975 when it was downtown on California street and I had even easier access to it when they moved to Virginia and Broadway in 1981. I literally worked across the street from it for about a year. And for those of you up on your Denver area trivia the Blue Bonnet used to be right next door and not in its current location across the street.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Wings over the Rockies - Air and Space Museum on the former Lowery Airbase

Lowery airbase in Denver was shut down in 1993. Most of the area was part of a massive real estate development but some features were maintained. One of those features were two of the original aircraft hangers. Hanger 1 became the home of the Wings over the Rockies museum. I was there years ago when it first opened and it was till going through some growing pains. I was reading in the Sunday paper that there was a new sculpture exhibit there created by a former WWII P-38 pilot to honor his fallen comrades. I decided that it would be a good time to go again.

There is not a huge museum and except for the B-52 out front everything is housed within the hanger including the aircraft restoration area. While I was there to see the sculpture exhibit I had to take a complete walk around the facilities to see how it had changed. They have done an impressive job. Not only with the variety of aircraft but with historical displays (the Colorado Air National Guard exhibit is exceptional) and flight simulators as well. It was a very enjoyable couple of hours.

So of course I left and discovered that my camera batteries were died and that my phone was on the tail end of a charge. I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked because of battery issues, but then it is close and I imagine I'll be going back a lot sooner this time.

The Entrance!

A B-52 out front. I think there is a B-52 and almost every major air museum in the US!

From the "control tower" over the front entrance

"Lest We Forget: The Mission" - A bronze exhibit memoralizing the aviators of WWII.

Sculpted by WWII Aviator Major Fredric Arnold USAAC (ret), to honor, preserve and promotes the heritage of the American combat pilots for future generations.

The statues were sculpted by Major Arnold and fellow artist Sutton Betti, using 3000 pounds of clay and then cast in bronze. The process took more than 4 years to complete. The figures depict a group of fighter pilots - inspired by the deaths of 12 fellow pilots in Arnold's class of 42-J, they represent the 88,000 airman who died in WWII combat - in a pre-flight briefing before yet another of the war's seemingly endless critical missions.

F14 Tomcat, thoroughly fenced off!

F-111 Aardvark

Open bomb bays in the B1 Lancer

Yes, that is a pod racer

The Dream Chaser currently under development by Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems

X-Wing fighter

F-86 Sabre

F-105 Thunderchief. A family friend flew two tours in Vietnam in this aircraft

F-100 Super Sabre

F8 Crusader, a navy plan flown, in its later years, by the Colorado Air National Guard out Buckley Field in Aurora CO

F4 Phantom II, I knew it was a big plane but you don't realize how big till you are standing next to it.

I think this is a B57 Canberra

B1 Lancer from the catwalk

F-111 from the catwalk, check out those swing wings

E6-B Prowler


Colorado's own; Jack Swigert, command module pilot on Apollo 13. there is a wall listing all of the Astronauts from Colorado. While most flow on shuttle missions (STS), there were a representatives on Mercury (Scott Carpenter from Boulder), Gemini, Apollo and Skylab.

Friday, August 12, 2016

NASA Memorabilia

I was going through a box the other day and I stumbled across a ziplock bag of NASA stuff that my mom must have given me after my uncle passed away. Its an interesting snapshot of the later part of his career working, primarily, on the Space Shuttle.

This is an interesting artifact. It details all of the key positions and the people that filled them for STS-1 the first Space Shuttle mission which orbited the earth 37 times with a crew of 2.

Mission decals for STS-51A (on top), which was the 2nd launch for Discovery and STS-41G (on the bottom) which was the 6th flight for Challenger, the first mission  with a full crew of 7. These are the 13th and 14th Shuttle missions so I'm already lost on the numbering system.

Some buttons. The blue button in the upper right celebrates the 1st Challenger launch, mission STS-6. Challenger was his "bird" and he was a permanent part of that launch team. He was on vacation though during the Challenger disaster. He was the first one into the office the next day already working on what caused the explosion.

I think these hung from the back of his badge.

This is the name of the company formed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin to consolidate 30 heritage contracts in 1996

This is another interesting artifact. This is a Skylab coin about the size of a .50 piece. I think its made of aluminum.

Bad picture. A pin celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Kennedy Space Center. My uncle worked at the facility before NASA was even formed. At that time is was a missile launch test site.

I think this is a pin showing 5 years of service with Lockheed. Generally one of the big aerospace groups would win the contract but they would just continue to hire the engineers that were already working there. My uncle probably worked for every major aerospace firm in the US during his time with NASA.

This cartoon must have been pinned to his cube wall. He owned a Jaguar XKE. Study the cartoon and you should get the joke pretty quick.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Series Review - Harry Bosch detective novels by Michael Connelly

While I haven't been painting I have been doing a lot of reading and a little TV watching. I accidentally got hooked on the Harry Bosch TV show and decided to give the books a try. This series is by Michael Connelly which he started in 1995 with The Black Echo. In the TV series the character of Harry Bosch has been updated to a more modern look, in the books you will find that he served in Vietnam before joining the LA Police. Harry is a hard edged detective with the motto of "everybody counts or nobody counts" (a statement made well before the phrase of "black lives matter") and as such is often at odds with both his partners and the administration as he works on case after case.

Bosch is in many ways a very tragic figure, totally devoted to his pursuit of justice yet yearning for things that are seemingly beyond his reach. I enjoyed all the books but I found that the books later in the series are quite a bit better than the early books. Connelly can be quite wordy at times especially in the earlier works but gets much better later on. Each book is stand alone but some of them make a lot more sense when you read them in order, especially when...well I guess I leave out spoilers here. There are usually quite a few twists in the book and Connelly has got me by surprise more than once while reading these. I averaged about a book and a half a week during this binge.

If you watch the series it won't spoil the books. Rather than have a season devoted to a specific book the series pulls bits and pieces from more than a couple of different books from the series and the first two seasons have changed several endings as well as relationships. So you can watch and not be worried that its going to spoil a book for you.

I figured I would just copy in the current book covers and put them in the correct order for you if you decided to take on this series. Michael Connelly likes to bring characters in from some of his other series, especially from the Lincoln Lawyer series (the main character in this series is Harry's half brother). I have only listed books where Harry is the primary or one of the primary characters. I have left out those books where he only makes a brief appearance. A couple of these books are actually written from another character's point of view which through me off a couple of times thinking that I had picked up the wrong book.

This book will be released in November of 2016