Saturday, July 30, 2016

Justice?

(Source)
On the 31st of July in the year 2015, something happened in Smithfield, Rhode Island which apparently became the straw that broke the camel's back. As the prosecutor from the State Attorney General's office termed it, a dark family secret came to light. A chain of events was triggered which eventually found me sitting in the jury box in a court room in Providence.

This is not a happy story. Before I was called to sit in judgement on the facts of the case, a family had been destroyed. When were the seeds of that destruction planted? I don't know. All I know is that two young women claimed to have been molested by their father, sexually abused and assaulted. There were eight counts in the indictment, going back to 2008 when the oldest daughter was thirteen.

I would like to say that the depths of human depravity surprise me. I have lived too long and seen too much to be able to say that anymore. It is only by knowing that the majority of our species does not engage in such depravity do I retain any hope for the future...

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While I don't remember the exact circumstances, I do remember wondering when the charges with which the defendant was being charged were going to be read. After all, how could we possibly weigh the testimony if we didn't know exactly what the charges were? So I asked the deputy sheriff tasked with keeping an eye on the jury what the proper protocol was in asking the judge a question. He told me and moments later a note, signed with my juror number, was on its way to the judge. (I think we were taking our morning break, it was early on the first day. It may also have been during the opening arguments, the eight days in court were pretty intense. Hard to remember the exact sequence of events.)

When we returned to the courtroom, the judge indicated that the jurors wanted to know the specific charges in the case. She then proceeded to read to us the eight counts contained in the indictment. Now that we had the specific crimes with which the defendant was charged, we could now more intelligently hear the testimony in the case. Perhaps it's the engineer in me that needed these details. (At the end of the case, our youngest juror mentioned that she was glad I had asked as she too was wondering what the actual charges were.)

Now this case had no forensic evidence and the only testimony as to the facts of the case would come from the two daughters, who the attorneys referred to as the "complaining witnesses". I guess that the prosecution was concerned that many of us had watched too many crime dramas and would be expecting lab work, fingerprints, and crime scene photos in order to prove the facts of the case. Nope, didn't have that kind of evidence. The prosecutor did tell us in her opening argument that we would be seeing none of that sort of evidence. Just testimony.

The defense attorney in his opening statement told us that the testimony we were about to hear was littered with changing details, stories which changed from one time to another. The two complaining witnesses had both given police statements, had testified at a bail hearing, and had testified at the grand jury. The defense indicated that he would show us where the details between those three events and the testimony to be given at trial would differ. The defense attorney said, "The truth doesn't change from one telling to the next." He told us to pay attention. So I did.

First the older sister testified. It was an awful story and it did have the ring of truth. At least it did during direct. During cross-examination, her story fell apart like a branch going into a wood chipper.

"In your police statement you said this, correct?"

"Yes."

"However, at the grand jury you said something else, correct?"

"I don't know."

The he would produce the transcript to refresh her memory. She would indicate that, yes, that's what she said. Each time the details had a different flavor, things she remembered very well during direct became vague, even different. Something was going on here. Something odd, to say the least.

And so it went, the defense attorney brought out that the older sister had problems with authority, that she disliked men in general, and her father in particular. The incidents of abuse always occurred when no one else was home (in a family of two adults and five siblings). I sensed that something had indeed happened, the law had been broken. So far though, no meat to the testimony.

The younger sister testified. She was much more compelling, much more believable. But again, details changed, things got vague. After a while she retreated to answering "I don't know" and "I don't remember" to nearly every question. Bear in mind though, she's only 17 and this defense attorney was very good at cross examination. Brutal in his directness and in his questions, no mercy was offered.

At this point (bear in mind this all happened over a number of days) I was fairly convinced that a crime, or crimes, had been committed. I was waiting for the prosecution to sweep in for the kill. I was expecting testimony from the detectives who investigated the case. I was expecting testimony from the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) giving the results of their investigation.

What we got was the girls' former stepmom. (The mook on trial had been married three times. First marriage broke up because the birth mom of the girls had been accused of beating the kids. This was the second wife and both sisters still thought of this woman as their mom.)

This woman was a wreck. She was about as believable as a campaign ad. She claimed no knowledge of the abuse, her only claim to fame had been that she had called DCYF in 2011 to file a complaint about her husband abusing the children. Under cross examination she fell apart faster than a bamboo hut in a typhoon. She too was reduced to "I don't know" and "I don't remember."

As I sat there, wondering just why in Hell the prosecution had put her on the stand, I figured that she was a set up for the next witness. I'm thinking that DCYF was coming up to testify as to the 2011 complaint. Maybe the detectives were up next, maybe...

"The State rests."

Say what? Some of us looked at each other as if to say, "is that it, that's all they've got?" This immediately sprang to mind...



I was gobsmacked. No testimony to answer any of the questions floating through my mind, no more witnesses to tie together all of those loose ends. It was almost as if the State had said to us, "This is all you're gonna get, now go find him guilty."

Defense offered up a single witness. The guy from DCYF who had investigated the case in 2015. Both sisters' testimony as to being interviewed by DCYF had varied. One said a guy and a woman had come to the house and interviewed them together, while their father watched from an ajoining room. One said that just a guy had showed up and had interviewed her apart from her sister, one on one.

Cross examination from the prosecutor revealed nothing more, other than a lot of objections by the defense and a lot of "sustained" from the judge. As if to say, if you wanted DCYF testimony to support your case, than you should have called them to the stand, not the defense. (My understanding is that after cross examination, you can only go over the ground covered during direct. Not introduce new lines of questioning.)

When the prosecutor sat down after "no further questions your Honor," and looking very flustered, the defense attorney stood up.

"The defense rests."

Oh shit, oh dear. Now what? That's it?

There were fourteen jurors, now it was time to pick the "real" twelve, the men and women who would weigh the evidence and decide the case. Yes, I was one of the twelve. Believe me, I would have been pissed if I'd been "sent off" at that stage of the trial. The two guys who were sent off, yes, they were angry. And no, they couldn't go home, if one of the twelve dropped dead, they would then step into the deliberations. So they had to be available at the court house, but not with us. Also not free to roam the halls.

While I was pleased to make the final cut, I did not in any way, shape, or form want to be the foreman. I don't have enough diplomat in me, and these were all civilians. Dear Lord, it would be like herding cats. (Which it did turn out to be.) Fortunately I didn't get tagged as the foreman. I think our oldest man was chosen. Whether he was the oldest member of the panel, I don't know. He was definitely one of the top three "elders." Turns out, the judge chose very wisely as to the foreman.

Deliberations began, we went around the table, each juror to state their potential verdict and why. Not on each of the eight counts mind you, but overall. Basically, "Is he guilty of at least one of the charges? Why yes, why no?"

First lady, "Guilty. He had to have done something. I believed the witnesses."

First guy, "Not guilty. Too many holes in the testimony. Sure, maybe he did something, the State didn't prove it."

Second guy, "Not guilty. The guy is a scumbag, that's fairly obvious, but the State didn't prove it."

Second lady, "Guilty. Those poor girls. He's a monster."

Third lady, "Not guilty. While he may have done something, the State didn't prove it to me beyond a reasonable doubt."

Fourth lady, "Undecided. Overall, there's a couple of charges I'm not sure of." (She eventually came to believe the State proved nothing. So she did decide to declare "Not guilty.")

Your Humble Scribe, "The State has to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The guy is never going to be proclaimed Father of the Year and this has to be the most screwed up family I've ever seen. But the State did not prove its case, they failed miserably. I want to convict the mook, but I can't. I just can't. Not guilty on all counts."

Fifth lady, "Not guilty. The State dropped the ball. I don't like the guy but the State proved nothing."

Sixth lady, "Guilty. While the testimony was patchy and unbelievable in spots, that's how abused children behave."

Your Humble Scribe, "We can't take your word for that, why didn't the State have someone say that?"

Sixth lady, "Well, that's how I feel. Guilty."

The elephant was now in the room. "That's how I feel." Every single juror who voted to convict used a variant of that phrase, all seven who voted not guilty indicated that the State, by a preponderance of the evidence, did not prove their case. Emotion versus logic. The judge had warned us of that.

Seventh lady, "Guilty. I work with abused children and the sisters' behavior matched what I've seen in my experience." No, I didn't ask why the State didn't think that was important enough to bring up. The prosecutor seemed almost surprised when the defense shredded the two sisters' stories.

Eighth lady, "Guilty. There is no way he could be innocent." Again, really, why didn't the State prove that?

Fourth guy (the foreman), "I hate to say it, it pains me to say it but I have to say 'Not Guilty,' the State didn't come close to proving their case."

So there we were, seven "Not Guilty," five "Guilty." All four men (yes there were only four of us vice eight women) and the two youngest women voted "Not Guilty." The three oldest women, and the two women in their forties (one was a social worker, a very nice person but how did the defense not challenge her?) voted "Guilty."

There the first day of deliberations ended. We were sent home to "sleep on it" and to return at 0900 local the next day to "try again, harder."

That night I agonized. Rethought the entire trial, considered "Ah what the Hell, I'll agree to convict on one charge and..." Nope, can't do that and live with myself. The State failed to prove its case. How dare they dump this piece of crap in our laps!

Where I parked. I would watch the birds, waiting for the shuttle to the court house. Very peaceful, very conducive to quiet contemplation.

The second day of deliberations (the first full day) was more of the same. We debated, we argued. Eighth lady (originally from New York City) wanted to spend lots of time going over the counts in the indictment and the judge's instructions to the jury. I think that she thought that she could convince us all by the depth of her passion, her attention to minutiae, her absolute lack of understanding of what "beyond a reasonable doubt" meant, might convince us to change our minds. Every time someone would make a point her hand would shoot up and she would commence her song and dance.

How could we not see that because the defense attorney was so mean those poor girls were rattled beyond belief?

I pointed out that I needed a Hell of a lot more to send a man to prison. I mean seriously, I asked my fellow jurors, do you know what they do to child molesters in prison?

Almost immediately lady eight dove for the judge's instructions. "It says here that we're not supposed to consider the sentence. Just the evidence..."

I was ready to start taking heads at that point. Before I could roar at this sweet, genteel little lady that "WE'RE TALKING ABOUT SENDING A MAN TO EFFING PRISON, NOT GIVE HIM AN EFFING PARKING FINE!!!...," our foreman, a lovely man, a wise man, beat me to it. Reminding everyone that the penalty here was indeed prison. The judge's instructions told us that we would not be sentencing the defendant, she would. It was indeed our job to judge him guilty or not, and that sentence indeed had consequences. Consequences we should remember before we judged him based on "feelings and emotions."

At that point, a note went to the judge (1600, the witching hour at which all State employees had to go home, was rapidly approaching) saying that we were still deadlocked, 7 versus 5. With no hope of ever resolving that.

The judge brought us down to the court room, commiserated with us as to how hard our job was, that she was glad that we were taking it seriously, but to consider this -
"Were I to declare a mistrial at this point in time, what makes you think that the evidence would be different next time, what makes you think that another jury would do a better job than you? Go home, relax, don't think about the trial, come back in the morning at nine and we'll give it another shot."
So we did, though relaxing was most definitely not on the menu. A restless night followed, up early I was, alone with my thoughts I was. Not even the feline staff could offer any advice.

In the hour or so I had to wait for the shuttle, I would pace in front of this church, it was their lot we parked in. Did I pray for guidance? Of course, I did. Did I find it? Yes, I did.
While waiting, and thinking, I'd stand in the shade of this lovely maple between the church and I-95.

That's the Armenian Church, I-95 in the foreground. "My" maple is the one just to the right of the church. The parking lot is just behind those pines to the right of the maple. (Google Maps)

We returned to our deliberations on Thursday morning. The foreman had something he was going to try. Eighth lady wanted to debate it, he shut her down totally. He informed us that he was going to talk, we were going to listen, then we would go around the room once more.

Eighth lady cried out "That isn't fair!"

The foreman pointed out that the judge had chosen him to run things. Run them he would. He was tired of interruptions and everyone speaking out of turn.

Eighth lady indicated that she had an idea and...

"Be quiet. You will all sit and be quiet until I tell you that you have the floor. That's the process and that's how it's going to be. Now, " pointing to first lady, "it's your turn. Go. And everyone else be quiet until I say you can speak."

Eighth lady looked mortified, this is not how things are done in her circles. The rest of us looked pleased that he'd finally torpedoed her quibbling and search for the mysteries of life in the indictment and the judge's instructions.

Me? I was ready to make him President. He reminded me of a tough little bastard commanding an infantry regiment. We had an awesome foreman.

Nothing much had changed as to verdicts and feelings. Those saying "Not guilty" had uncovered no new magic evidence to make them change their minds. As I listened, I heard a lot of "I feels" and "emotionally I" and was getting more and more discouraged. I was furious with the prosecution for giving us this limp P.O.S. of a case. So I thought I'd approach things differently from my fellow jurors. Then my turn was upon me, I took a deep breath and began. (This is, as far as I can recollect, exactly what I said. Or damned close.)
We are all citizens of a country which has a representative form of government. We don't govern directly, we chose people to represent us, we allow others to be "the State." We don't have a king, there is no queen, no dictator to force us to do things. We give that power over to our representatives.
Even so, the State wields immense power in our names. I have seen it, I was part of that instrument of State power for 24 years.
The State can take away your freedom, the State can take away your job, the State can take your life if need be.
But the State cannot do that arbitrarily. When crimes are committed, people, citizens are called forth to serve as jurors. The State can indeed take your freedom, take your possessions, indeed even take your life. But not without the consent of the people, represented by people like us, people sitting on a jury...
At that point I see the deputy sheriff, the judge (not in her robes!) and (of all things) the lead defense attorney come into our area. WTF? I'm thinking. Damn it, that would have been my best speech ever!

As the judge gets our attention, we are all looking a bit unsettled at this point, we all turn to and give our attention to Her Honor.
"You can stop your deliberations. The defendant has, with the advice of counsel, decided to plead nolo contendere (no contest) to two counts of the indictment. The other six charges have been dismissed. His sentence is time served. Any questions?"
Yes, we had questions. I did get the judge's attention first and indicated to her that she had, with all due respect, interrupted my speech as to how it was the jury's duty to limit the power of the State and...

Yes, the judge found that hysterical (I told you two weeks ago, the judge and the lawyers all loved me) as did the lead defense attorney. I swear, that speech would have been epic. Or maybe it was a good thing she interrupted me when she did. Things could have gone downhill fast, I was, after all, damned exhausted. As we all were.

So the mook plead no contest to two of the eight counts of the indictment. His sentence was time served, seems he'd been in the hoosegow since being arrested on 31 July 2015. Almost a year. Each count was for abuse of each of the daughters. So each sister had her day in court, each sister had some justice done. Was it enough? I don't know.

I asked the judge if this counted as a felony conviction. She assured us that it was. The mook now has to register as a sex offender as well. Will he do it again? Probably not, his family is destroyed, his daughters are free of him. Remove the opportunity, no way to commit the crime.

We were then set free. The judge told us that we had done our jobs, our not coming back with a verdict right away made both sides nervous. I think the prosecution realized that they'd presented a weak case, the defense no doubt realized that if they didn't cut a deal, who knows what we might come back with. As I told one of my fellow jurors as we left the jury room, "Well, I'm not satisfied with the outcome, but it beats a mistrial." She agreed.

I'm still disappointed in the State's prosecution of this case. They could have, they should have done better. Protecting our children from such monsters is pretty important.

All in all, it was an exhausting ten days. Sitting in judgement is hard, if it's done correctly. While I was pretty miffed at the "I feel he's guilty" crowd, perhaps there is something to be said for intuition. Especially when logic has nothing to work with.

Still and all, I'd do it again. But not for a while, no thank you. (State law says it has to be at least three years before I can serve again. Praise the Lord!)

Being a juror is hard.

But then again, it's supposed to be.

My "home" for the last two weeks. (Google Maps)



For the curious among you...
Is a Nolo Contendere Plea to a criminal case a Conviction In RI ?
A Nolo contendere plea means a Rhode Island criminal defendant is not contesting the criminal charges. When an accused agrees to a nolo contendere plea in RI, the alleged perpetrator is throwing in the towel and not fighting the charges but is also admitting to the charges.
What is the primary difference between a guilty plea to a criminal charge and a nolo contendere plea in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations? 
There is a big difference between guilty and nolo! Pursuant to Rhode Island criminal law, a guilty plea always constitutes a conviction although a plea of nolo may not be a conviction. A conviction could effect a persons employment status or future plans in a significantly worse way then a nolo plea. A nolo  plea may not be a criminal conviction in RI. Nolo contendere only constitutes a conviction under the laws of the Ocean State if there is a sentence of confinement (such as the ACI or home confinement), a suspended sentence or a fine imposed. (Source)


Friday, July 29, 2016

Comic-Con Con Job




This past week I was either fortunate enough, or crazy enough to attend Comic-Con San Diego.  If you didn't see or don't remember my post from a couple years ago, Comic-Con is an annual convention covering multiple genres of entertainment and comic books.  It was originally just for comics and sci-fi/fantasy movies and TV, but has grown exponentially to highlight nearly all of pop-culture arts - animation, anime, toys, action-adventure, card and video games, horror, webcomics and fantasy- novels, TV, movies and 2D art.  Forbes calls it "the largest convention of its kind in the world."


Your's truly, dressed as a Comic-Con tourist, with my beautiful wife.
And that description is true to form, with over 130,000 attendees each day, which makes the exhibit floor VERY crowded.  You can't walk more than a few feet without needing to squeeze through a throng of people.

This picture must have been taken on a really light day.


This is my fourth year in a row and I enjoy going, for the most part.  Some of the fun is seeing all the attendees in their costumes- or Cosplay as it's called.



Black Widow and Hawkeye from the Avengers
My Godson, the Predator, and a female Loki (Thor's ne'er-do-well brother or is it sister?)



Ms. Marvel looking Marvelous

Part of what makes the floor so crowded is the ability to get free or exclusive stuff.  The lines for some of the booths are crazy long, because they are most likely giving away or selling something that a fan can only get at Comic-Con.  The staff does a good job of keeping things organized, breaking up the lines and continuing them against a back wall or even out into the lobby.  Pops figures are really popular, although I don't quite get the appeal.


While the crowds are heavy, that doesn't really bother me, but because it's gotten so popular, the exhibit floor is really the only guarantee one can expect with the purchase of a ticket.  The convention has outgrown the San Diego Convention Center and has expanded into the ballrooms of nearby hotels and even those are crowded.



My wife and I wanted to see a Game of Thrones exhibit in the Hard Rock Hotel across the street, but that line was just too long for us.  One fan, dressed as Robb Stark told me that he had been in line for seven hours, and he was still 50 people back from the entrance.

The convention has an incredible variety of panel discussions, covering every type of entertainment mentioned above, some with the biggest stars from the biggest movies and TV shows.  Hall H is where the biggest of the biggest panels are held,.  That's where the first Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer was debuted last year, to include 100 Stormtroopers marching past the people waiting, and each attendee getting their own Light Saber.  This year it covered Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Dr. Strange, never-before-seen clips from the still-in-production Justice League-




And the movie getting the most buzz at Comic-Con might be one of the biggest of the summer- Suicide Squad:




But getting into those events requires some serious determination, a little bit of luck, and a willingness to burn most of the day.  For some of the biggest panels as I mentioned, a fan has to line up several hours, if not days ahead of time.  I heard that some people lined up on Wednesday for a Hall H event on Friday.  I'm a fan of the superhero movies and would have really enjoyed seeing many of the Hall H panels, but camping in the heat wasn't worth my time, and I've grown too accustomed to air-conditioned comforts.  I only had a two-day ticket, Thursday and Sunday, so I couldn't have gotten in line for the big Friday/Saturday panels anyway.




The panel I thought I'd have the best chance of seeing was for The Last Ship.  I got in line an hour before it started though and barely got in before it was cut off.  I didn't realize it was that popular.  It's about a Navy Destroyer crew after a virus outbreak across the world.  It's not the best show on TV, but it's about the Navy, it's pretty exciting to me, and it's actually really well done.  Sure, the main character is a little Harmon Rabb-ish - 



You remember him don't you?  Good looking Navy guy, Tomcat pilot turned JAG Officer, sniper, Astronaut, all around bad-ass.  In The Last Ship, that character is portrayed by CAPT Tom Chandler (actor Eric Dane), good looking Navy guy, Surface Warfare Officer extraordinaire turned Special Ops warrior, Combat Search and Rescue expert, diplomat and savior of the world.    He's now the Chief of Naval Operations, mainly because that virus in season one wiped out the rest of his competition.  He's still onboard the USS NATHAN JAMES (DDG-150), but has handed over the helm to his former XO, CAPT Mike Slattery who is also an all around bad-ass.




That actor, Adam Baldwin (no relation or political compatriot to Alec), is a big fan favorite at Comic-Con due to his work on one of the more popular sci-fi shows of the past- Firefly.  He's played several military roles in the movies and I really like the guy, especially after hearing him rave about the Navy during the panel session.  He spoke about how amazing it is that we have young men and women of every race running the ship, from weapons to navigation to engineering, and that the crew, like everyone in the military, are the ones keeping us free.



He knows this because the Navy supports the show, allowing them to film on active Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers a couple times a year.  Off duty or former Navy SEALs also serve as technical advisers on the show.  In one episode, CAPT Slattery had to carry a heavy machine gun through the jungle.  When he was fatigued, he asked the SEAL about it and was met with the response "Get stronger."  These advisers help keep the show on course and realistic, as much as a fictional show can be.

The Navy is apparently happy with how he wears the uniform in The Last Ship and with the show itself.  “They love it,” Baldwin tells Breitbart News. “They were thrilled, and the funny thing is, you have a dedicated fan base, and a built-in fan base, from the Navy, because our goal was to portray the Navy as realistically as we could within the scenario and within our Hollywood creation.”  Source
The show does stretch the limits of what an actual CO would do and the senior writer, Stephen Kane admits as much, but he says it just fiction, not reality TV.   While Eric Dane admits his character always leaving the ship and charging into action is unrealistic, he knows they can't kill him off.   Adam Baldwin just asked them not to put him in a red shirt.  As for how well the Navy is portrayed, Kane he recently received the Distinguished Public Service Award from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus for his work.

Raven from Teen Titans

Thor and Captain America, as well as their female counterparts.
 I had fun, but I probably won't be going again next year.  I'm a fan, but I realized that I'm not a big enough fan to want to buy any of the exclusives, nor wait in line to do so.  I don't have a favorite artist or want to commission a work from one of them.  I also don't want to pay $300 for a four-day pass and wait in the long lines for the popular panels.   It's a good time and there's a lot to see, but I heard that they broadcast the big panels online in real-time anyway so I don't think you'll have to sit through another Comic-Con post next year.



Unless you really want me post about it again.  I can go as a freelance blogger and Sarge can cover my expenses!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

It Is Done...

(Source)
Yes, she sang today.

Not much had changed since yesterday when court recessed for the day.

Apparently this made both parties to the case nervous.

So...

While things did end, they ended in a less than spectacular fashion. Let me say this though, justice was served.

The AAR will be published on Saturday, much to think about, much to write about.

One thing I found amusing, the case ended in the middle of my speech to my fellow jurors regarding our duties as citizens and the need to limit the power of the State.

I daresay I would have had them singing had I'd gone on much longer.


(Source)
Yes, I do tend to over-dramatize things.

Why do you ask?



The Old Office

Well, it's been quite a week so far.  Friday evening, I came home and sat down in my easy chair and indulged myself with a cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.  Got up after that, started the charcoal and the Mrs and I enjoyed a nice steak with an artichoke on the side.  Dinner finished, it seemed to me that the house was a little warmer.  I shrugged it off as the after effects of a little after dinner Rum.  Helps me to sleep, you see.  Woke up the next morning and the house was definitely warm, a very unpleasant, muggy 85.  

So, we called the AC guy whom we pay an annual fee for him to come quickly when needed as well as provide periodic scheduled maintenance.  Works for an airplane, why not an air conditioner?  A bearing had seized and the fan motor burned out.  "We'll order the part on Monday, install it on Tuesday and you'll be good as new."

Yeah right!

Saturday the temperature rose to 93 inside the house.  It was cooler outside.  Sunday, the guests left the guest house, so we moved in.  5 dogs, 2 adults, 720 sq ft.  We survived.  

Monday morning, we wake up to no water.  As I'd commented on a great blog, the only two reasons there's no water in a well in the hill country is fire ants or no water.  No reason to expect the latter, so fire ants!  Bastiges!

Water restored and I'm at work.  It's the first day that the staff is back at work after summer break.  We've just moved to Windows 10.

Phone never stopped ringing!  "How do I?"  "My documents are gone!"   Blah, blah, blah.

Finally the day ends.  I drive home.  The house is cool, blood pressure drops to above normal (from "Doc, you don't wanna know").  A nice night's sleep in my own bed and wake up this morning to 85 degrees. 

Call the nice AC guy and ask him politely if it would be convenient for him to return to our abode and fix the AC again! (Not really those exact words)

The wife calls around lunch and says the house is cooling again.  I ask what had happened.  She replied, "The compressor burned out."  

"How'd that happen?"

Fire Ants!

What is it about electricity that those minuscule forms of pestilence find so entertaining?


So, as I said, it's been quite a week so far.  Made me nostalgic for my old office.
Chairman of the Board's Desk for the F-15
Best view in the world, all the power one could ever want, AC worked well, and nobody to intrude on your solitude.  Ahh, to be there again!

Or even here.

  
That was my view looking out the front of an F-4.  Not the best visibility, but still quite a bit of power.  The AC worked well, if you were above 20K, not so well down low.  You did have the ability to have a conversation with someone sharing your experience though.

  
Sarge, undoubtedly would prefer this view of the office, being the information seeking gentleman he is.  Every bit of critical information in your life is displayed right there.  Lights coming on?  Generally bad.  Green?  Good, Red? Bad!  Yellow switches, leave alone.  Red switches?  No kidding leave alone.  Safety wired Red switches.  I think the wings fall off if those are used!

And of course, as readers are pretty aware, (I'm not reticent in telling them) I had one other office that I used rather frequently in that particular point in time.  While the above offices were nostalgic, they were just reminiscent of my office.

  
I actually spent time in THIS office!.  It was assigned to the 435TFTS, To which I was assigned.

A very dark blue stripe  denoted our jets


The 435TFTS patch
And the squadron patch on the intake confirmed its lineage.




Those two indicators remove any doubt that yours truly has looked through that gunsight and smited strafe rags with 7.62 minigun rounds, slaughtered cactus with 25 lb practice bombs and embarrassed my fellow fighter pilots by taking movies of them in compromising positions whilst they were ensconced in their office. 

It was good to see the old girl again.  Glad she's being cared for in her retirement..

And not a verdammt Fire Ant in sight!








Wednesday, July 27, 2016

7 v 5

(Source)
Day two of deliberations.

I am experiencing the Irresistible Force Paradox first hand.

While I am in the majority, unanimity is required. Half measures aren't allowed.

"Come back tomorrow and continue."

So at 0900 tomorrow, the whistles will blow, we'll climb out of the trenches once more, and advance into the fray.

(Source)

It's all starting to feel rather futile.

Emotions are not evidence, how one "feels" is not probative.

What part of "reasonable doubt" don't they understand?

I am keen to tell this story. But it ain't over yet.

(Source)

I hope she sings tomorrow...



Twelve Angry Men and their X Planes

OK, show of hands.  Does anybody NOT have a visualization of Sarge playing Henry Fonda's role in "Twelve Angry Men" running through their head?  I mean, he even looks like Fonda!  Well, except he's older.  And has less hair.  Oh and wears glasses, but other than that...He's a dead ringer.  

Just in case any of you whippersnappers didn't see the classic version, here it is. (Sarge is on the left). Hope you've got 1+15 available.



In any case, in lieu of content regarding the circus that occurred recently in Cleveland and is ongoing in Philadelphia (P'tui!), we'll show the class some pictures of experimental aircraft at the National Museum of the US Air Force.

The last building in the museum also is divided into two sections.  The right section is dominated by the sole surviving XB-70, but is surrounded by experimental aircraft never intended for development (denoted by an X), experimental aircraft built for testing new configurations/technologies (denoted by an X and another letter F for Fighter, B for Bomber etc) as well as some prototype aircraft (denoted by a Y).

Given that a lot of these aircraft were built in the '50s and '60s, they had very exotic looks to them, and flew in flight envelopes that would be difficult to achieve even today.  

Needless to say, I was enthused! So let's get started, shall we?

The X-15
Only 3 X-15s were built, and one was destroyed in a crash along with its pilot, Major Michael Adams.  This was #2 and was the fastest, achieving Mach 6.7.  The two pontoons are actually fuel tanks.

It wasn't until I prepped the pictures for this post that I noticed something very unusual about the aircraft, and I don't know why the aircraft is configured this way.

Here's another picture.  See if you notice the difference.

See it? *
A very cool plane and definitely was "one of the models I made when I was a kid".

Right beside it was this X-bird.  If you ever watched "The 6 Million Dollar Man" , you saw this aircraft, albeit not at its best, in the opening credits.  The footage was from a crash on landing of the X-24
X-24A -Actually this was a trainer and never flew.  The X-24A that did fly was converted to the X-24B in the background.

Here's that video (I spent a lot of time watching that show).

The X-24B was a much more aesthetically pleasing aircraft.  That having been said, it still looks like it got a significant beating with the ugly stick.

Perhaps it's the paint job
Bell X-1B
Similar in design to Glamorous Glennis, Chuck Yeager's Mach 1 buster (less the orange paint of course), the X-1B had the bigger engine that the X-1A tested while incorporating into the design a more efficient wing.  It also looks like it has a canopy instead of the low visibility windows in the original.

I read a book when I was a kid about Scott Crossfield and this next aircraft, and always thought it was a cool airplane.  Couldn't find the title on Amazon though.

The Douglas X-3
Built in 1952, it's older than even Sarge, and was flown by Crossfield, a Naval Aviator.  Which might explain the yoke.  Designed to test flying characteristics at Mach 2 and above, engine problems kept it from achieving that and led to its retirement to the museum in 1956.

Cool as it looked in the book, it was even cooler close up.

X-29A
The X-29 is the only experimental aircraft I have seen in flight.  I had flown a cross country into Edwards and on leaving, got an "expedite takeoff for recovering test flight" (i.e. "hey, you!  Get out of here right now or wait quite a while!"  We blasted off).  In our climbing departure turn, I looked down at the runway to see this one on short final.  It was good for a "Hmmmph's" worth of interest.  I liked the looks of the thing though.

The forward swept wings kept the airflow on the control surfaces longer, so the aircraft remained controllable at very high Angles of Attack, where other aircraft might depart controlled flight (AKA a bad thing).


X-10, if you like it's looks, you'll have to visit.  This is the only one remaining.
Knew nothing about this aircraft until visiting the museum.  The X-10 was built in 1953 as a Mach 2 capable cruise missile.  13 were built with one reaching Mach 2.05.  The program was shut down in 1957 in lieu of the ICBM.

X-13 (Yes, that is the tail of an F-107 in the background.  Good Eyes)
The X-13, two of which were built, was designed to satisfy a more relaxed USAF life style.  The aircraft and it's trailer could be towed behind a Corvette, so a fighter pilot would never have to be without his ride(s). There was even room for golf clubs. This aircraft was the reason other services think the USAF builds golf courses first then runways.  If this aircraft had been successful, they'd have been right.

Egregious attempt to elicit comments!

X-4 Bantam
The X-4 was built to test a different configuration than available in 1948 for near supersonic speeds.  conventional tailed aircraft experienced difficulty with control the closer the aircraft got to Mach 1.  The near tailless configuration of this test aircraft was used to test a German theory that the configuration would eliminate the turbulence.  Unfortunately, aviation technology in 1948 was not up to the task.

XF-82A XF-92A  (220, 221!)
Readers of this blog and aficionados of Convair products in general (Dave!), will certainly recognize the characteristics of this aircraft seen in its descendants.  This aircraft was used to develop and test the delta wing, which, of course, featured prominently in the Delta Dagger, Delta Dart  and the Hustler.



UFO's are REAL! and in Dayton, not Area 51
The Avro VZ-9AV was built to try and satisfy the Army's need for a Subsonic transport vehicle as well as the Air Force's requirement for a vehicle that could hover and hide then dash to supersonic speed to smite the enemy.  If failed at both.

X-36

The X-36 was designed to test the capabilities of Tailless aircraft.  Evidently, aviation technology has improved since 1948 as this program was a success.


YF-23
The YF-23 was Northrop's entry into the 5th generation fighter competition against what would be the F-22.  It borrowed heavily from the X-36s experience with tailless technology, but lost out of the competition by not using thrust vectoring.  Cool looking jet though, and with a proposed name of Black Widow II, what's not to like?















* The right side of the cockpit is oval while the left is covered with a rectangular shielding.