Saturday, June 9, 2012

USS Iowa Veterans Information

An interesting post appeared on CorduroyPlanet's Facebook Page Friday.

A veteran named Bill Sandlin asked:
"There are a lot of us veterans that would like to be there for the Grand Opening. I would like to make this a big event for USS Iowa and veterans. Is there anything I can do to make this happen?"

I responded:
"If you're a USS Iowa vet, the USS Iowa Veterans Association is holding their 2012 Reunion in San Pedro for the Grand Opening July 2-6"

"Veterans who served on other ships or in other services could pose their questions to The Pacific Battleship Center or on their Facebook Page":

Mr Sandlin replied:
"Thanks, I will pass this information on to other veterans. I am sure some served on the USS Iowa"

"Thanks for your service Bill! God bless you and all Allied Veterans". I replied.

That happened twelve hours ago. I've spent a little time since then looking at the USS Iowa Veterans Association website, and it's a little gold mine.

History comes a-knockin':
It occurs to me that another WWII milestone needs marking. The Battle of Midway, June 4-7, 1942 was fought seventy years ago this week. This naval battle was the turning point in the Pacific Naval War, and though the USS Iowa wasn't launched until August 27, 1942, Iowa would play her part in Imperial Japan's surrender, the surrender that became a fait accompli as the result of the Battle of Midway.

Perhaps ironically, the Battle of Midway also foretold the end of the Battleship Era. Though 49 ships fought in the battle, only two were battleships, the real business end of both navies were the aircraft carriers. Japan brought four carriers to bear on Midway Atoll, the American Navy fielded three flat tops.

The USS Enterprise, USS Hornet and USS Yorktown and their combined Air Wings sank all four Japanese carriers, Kaga, Akagi, Hiryū, and Sōryū, four of the five fleet carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor just seven months earlier. The Yorktown sank after twice suffering devastating direct torpedo strikes. Japan lost 248 aircraft and 3057 men. The Americans lost around 150 aircraft and 307 men. American air crews suffered near total losses while devastating the Japanese carriers.

Japan stubbornly fought another three years and three months across the Pacific before the surrender was signed on the Iowa Class battleship USS Missouri while much of Missouri's crew was temporarily billeted aboard the USS Iowa on Tokyo Bay.

There's lots of these anniversaries coming down the pike. We all pray that there will never be a Total War like WWII again. Those of us who came after the war, and those that didn't serve can never repay our veterans for the sacrifices they made on our behalf.

If you know a veteran, thank them for their service to our country, and tip them to the upcoming Grand Opening of the USS Iowa as a floating museum on Independence Day weekend in Los Angeles Harbor. Talk up the USS Iowa Veterans Association as well, and point them to the Pacific Battleship Center's Facebook Page.

If you're going to be in LA before the 4th of July weekend, the LA Times has a guide to getting a closer look until Iowa opens for business.

USS Iowa On the Move Today:
The Pacific Battleship Center: "USS Iowa is expected to transit from Berth 51/52 to Berth 87 on Saturday, June 9.  Invited guests on a pre-approved manifest will be the only people permitted onboard USS Iowa and within the secure zone established at both berths.
The transit will begin at approximately 1430, with arrival at Berth 87 at approximately 1530/1545.  Access to Berth 87 prior to transit will currently be limited to those on the pre-approved manifest.
It is expected that there will be a lot of traffic within the San Pedro area.  The Pacific Battleship Center Outreach Center is located at 437 6th Street for further details on USS Iowa and for purchase of hats, t-shirts, tickets, and membership."

USS Iowa veterans salute the Big Stick.

It would be awesome to volunteer on the USS Iowa don'tcha think?

Friday, June 8, 2012

What Is This?

No news is good news says everyone except TV News people and TV News producers.

This afternoon, my Mom asked me to read a note she was sending to a fellow church member who does all the planning and catering of Mom's monthly church luncheons. In the letter Mom bragged on all the kids (of course), talked about my writing (blogging), and mentioned that I get "email responses" to my blogs...or as Mom calls 'em, "writings"...

So I thought I'd write a blog explaining the whole blogger shebang as a way to delicately shame her into rededicating herself into getting friendly with personal computers.

Then this thing happened...The Pacific Battleship Center linked to my "Sunday Bonus: Penultimate USS Iowa Update" blog from last Sunday on their Facebook Page, and retweeted my tweet that linked the same blog...

Mom came into my room about 19 minutes after the links went up, and I explained how all this worked. The hits were up to 155, and I explained the Blogger Platform, that it's owned by Google, and that Blogger has a feature called "Stats", that's a rudimentary version of Google Analytics, that gives the blogger some stats about how many visits his blog gets, where the visitors come from in both the geographic sense (what country the visitor is in), and the internet sense (referring URL)

I refreshed the Stats Page...227 Page Views...Mom perked up...299 page views...I started explaining the concept of linking...333 page views...I explained that I don't write to start a conversation, or to feed a forum...that most of the comments I get come from BajaBabe, but a few of my most read blogs did attract some other commenters.

Mom really perked up each time I refreshed the Stats Page and read the latest count and amount. So I'm thinking maybe I could get Mom to start blogging...

I'm gonna sleep on it...I'll come to my senses when I get up and watch streaming P1 from Montreal's Formula One Canadian Grand Prix...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Venus...In Passing

Tuesday's Transit of Venus was a once in a lifetime event for those who missed the last one on June 8, 2004. The next time Venus passes between the Earth and Sun isn't for another 105-1/2 years. Because of our relative orbits about the Sun, the celestial mechanics insure paired transits eight years apart, separated by extrahuman gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. Next one comes in 2117, followed by the second in 2125.

So I wasn't surprised when I got a whiney email from BajaBabe lamenting the cloud cover hanging over her corner of the Emerald Empire Tuesday morning...I whined back at her about my skies and the Leonid Meteor Showers every November, that I've actually seen once since moving to the mountains in 1980...that one year that I could observe, was a weak year for the Leonids, coupled with a full moon...I saw a couple of meteorites, but nothing like the Leonids in full fury when there can be thousands of meteorites an hour. Look up the 1833 Meteor Storm, when estimated rates were in the hundred thousands per hour!

I made sure that I was ready for the 3:05PM start of the event, and kept my calendar clear.

When the appointed hour neared, I was dumbfounded to see towering cumulus clouds scudding overhead heading south!

Even without a telescope, I still wanted to view the moment that Venus first "touched" the Sun's such luck, these were juicy, dense clouds, and I didn't get a clear look until the trailing edge of Venus had long since passed onto the face of the Sun.

Undeterred, I watched online images from a giant telescope atop Hawaii's Mauna Loa.

Finally some gaps in the clouds gave me a clear shot at the spectacle, but then I was just confused...the web images from Hawaii showed Venus at the 11 o'clock position on the Sun's face, but from my viewpoint  in the Inland Valley, Venus was at 2 o'clock, and with the eclipse glasses and no magnification, it took my mind a while to resolve the tableaux.

Finally my eyes and brain were firing on all eight cylinders, and the experience was filed in my brain's database. This felt good...I instantly relaxed, and went back to what I was doing...waiting for the Giants vs Padres game to begin. I wandered back outside every few minutes to gaze up at the show. The Sun felt good on my face after the too-cool Monday cold system passage.

NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center put together a great time lapse video of the transit that runs about three minutes. The whole transit from start to finish lasted 6:41, but only 4:21 was visible before sunset here.

I've gotta get a real solar telescope!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's Like Déjà Vu All Over Again

God bless Yogi Berra, baseball's Patron Saint of malapropisms. Can you blame baseball, of which Yogi quipped: "90% of the game is half mental.", for loving the guy?

But I is one of Yogi's  "Déjà Vu All Over Again" type days. I watched the fourth and final Giants/Cubs game from AT&T Park on the TV. It was drizzling at the yard, but not enough to stop the game. It was another nice pitching duel that the Giants won, making for the four game sweep. Soothing, winning Giants baseball...thanks Giants!

As is my new fashion, I was on Twitter during the game...Giants' fans are the best tweeters, plenty of snark, stats and silliness in 140 characters or less!

Anyway, as the low key game languorusly unfolded, some tweets from the High Sierra caught my eye...viewed together they tell a little story:

2:24PM @rgj: "It's snowing over Donner Summit, but no travel restrictions "

2:56PM @R5_Fire_News: " Receiving snow across the upper reaches of several National Forests in the "

3:31PM @KirkwoodMtn: "Seriously - Chains required on SR88? Snowing my friends... Stay Thirsty, Coop"

5:39PM @TheSkiChannel: "| Squaw Valley Welcomes Summer | Head over to for fun Summer activities"

I surfed to the Sierra webcams...yep, snowing. Sugar Bowl looked like 2-3 inches on their picnic tables. The CalTrans webcams showed snow down to Soda Springs, with misty rain at Kingvale.

I tuned in the local TV News, yup Déjà Vu all over again! KTVU2 the Bay Area Fox affiliate had a live remote, NOT from Blue Canyon, but atop Donner Summit (I guess CalTrans finally finished the two year long remodel of the Summit Rest Areas)

The snow wasn't sticking to the roadway, and apparently, the rest stop was filthy with foreign tourists in shorts, who were happy to gush to the camera about how surprised they were by the snow...good sports they were all breathlessly smiling and carrying on. It was good TV, and chillingly, it reminded me of last Spring!

It's OK, I did a quick scan of the AFDs, this is just a fluke system passing through...not a "pattern Change"

So, the Ancestral Diggins benefit from the .10 inches of rain, and the rest of the week will be warm, but not scorching. I can dig it!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Bonus: Penultimate USS Iowa Update

Now berthed in Los Angeles Harbor, BB-61, the USS Iowa is getting good press in Hollywood. Can an agent and film deals be the next entries in the Ship's Log?

A very good USS Iowa photo album at the LA Times link, too.

As the son of a native San Franciscan, it brings my heart joy that the lead photo in the LA Times story on the USS Iowa is the battleship on San Francisco Bay!

New readers, please feel free to Like my CorduroyPlanet Facebook Page, Thank you!

I expect that the Final USS Iowa Update will be the announcement of Iowa's Grand Opening and hours of operation in July. As for the Big Stick's Hollywood updates, I think that's best left to "Her People"...Ciao, Babies!

Past and Future

I'll just wrap up some past stories to make way for the future stuff.

San Francisco Giants:
While the Giants club dates to 1883, baseball didn't start keeping real stats until 1918. I became curious over the past weeks because so many club records were falling or in danger of falling, and usually the copy read: "...since 1918"

USS Iowa:
Smooth sailing for the big battlewagon, her hull work completed, she entered Los Angeles Harbor Saturday morning.

The photo is courtesy of Donna Littlejohn, The Victory Ship in the foreground is the SS Lane Victory built in Los Angeles and returned from distinguished service in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, she's a museum now. The Lane Victory has been restored to seaworthy condition and offers "Victory at Sea" summer cruises.

The Lane's website features an incredible photo album from the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond that includes day by day photos of a Liberty Ship on the ways under construction. It's really worth a look.

OK, now on to the Future:
There's bunches of spaceflight news this week.

Private/Public Spaceflight tallies historic first milestone.
The SpaceX Falcon/Dragon mission to the International Space Station is a rousing success. NASA says in light of the mission's success, approval for continued resupply missions under a $1.6 billion contract would be a mere formality.

Not everything in civilian spaceflight is rosy:
Sea Launch, another commercial spaceflight contractor successfully launched an  Intelsat 19 communications satellite into geosynchronous orbit. There was a problem with the satellite however when one of the spacecraft's two solar array wings failed to deploy.

X-Ray Space Telescope Nears Launch:
The NuSTAR space telescope will be launched by Orbital Sciences Corp. as early as June 13th, 2012. This satellite is launched from a converted Lockeed L-1011 airliner that launches a Pegasus rocket plane that carries the NuSTAR into orbit.

There's Military Spaceflight News...sort of:
The Air Force's XB-37B "Mini Space Shuttle" will return to Earth after it's classified 15 month mission in Low Earth Orbit sometime in the next few weeks...

Sutter's Mill Meteorites Found:
This story is getting a little long in the tooth, but I suppose it's the nature of the beast...I don't recall Mark Twain reporting on every nugget and vein discovered in the Comstock when he was a reporter for Virginia City's Territorial Enterprise

Video of the Sutter's Mill Fireball surfaced this week, and to date almost a pound of the meteorite has been found and reported. I wonder how many bits of the meteorite were found and sold on the spot to meteorite dealers at $1000/gram... At least one piece made it's way to a UC Davis geologist so far...

Don't toss those eclipse glasses just yet:
You'll need them again Tuesday June 5th to view the Transit of Venus across our Sun. Sky and Telescope have a good observation guide.