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Archive for year 2003

Permanent link to archive for 25/12/03.Thu, 25 December 2003

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Merry Christmas!  Look what was under the tree.

Permanent link to archive for 24/12/03.Wed, 24 December 2003

Capn' Jack and Karen stopped by last Sunday to exchange holiday gifts and to go out to dinner with Rae and I this evening, and they brought me the coolest gift.

When I went out to Jack's truck in the back was 3 pre assembled parts of a workbench, with a big red ribbon on it.

Jack made me a custom workbench that is basically a 8 x 3.5 surface that sits atop 6 4x4's on casters that I can roll around my huge basement shop.  I have always been very weak in the workbench dept. in my shop, and now I have a really nice one!
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A new surface to put a project on, I can't wait!

Permanent link to archive for 22/12/03.Mon, 22 December 2003

I've been blogging for more than a year now, it's been fun.    I plan to keep updating my website in this fashion for 2004.

Permanent link to archive for 17/12/03.Wed, 17 December 2003

100 years ago today Orville and Wilbur Wright flew a powered aircraft for the first time.  It has been an amazing centennial, and the next 100 years of aviation appears to be just as promising.

Here are some links to celebrate this event...  Click Me   Click Me   Click Me

Permanent link to archive for 13/12/03.Sat, 13 December 2003

Subject: [RCSE] Having a bad day (more photos)

More on DG 300 crash (more photos) 
It seems that this pilot was trying to "land out" on to a soccer field, but he overshot and went between 2 concrete pillars that held up the end of a cable car station (shown in jpeg 4). It seems that he did not hit these pillars with the wings at the same time, which accounts for the crazy angle and snapped fuse. This explains the sheared wings.

There were a fair number of people in the immediate vicinity; luckily no bystander was hit. The pilot was able to walk to the ambulance. The wreckage was cleared away within 30 minutes.

Eric Swenson thanks kenavo for the pics.

Permanent link to archive for 12/12/03.Fri, 12 December 2003

I like what Steve Jobs has to say about patents and intellectual property in his recent Rolling Stone Interview.

Permanent link to archive for 20/11/03.Thu, 20 November 2003

I've been spending much of my time in front of computers lately developing software, so I have fallen behind on personal emails and blogging.  I really enjoy developing software, the whole process of it, design to finish.

I've been working on some fascinating projects in virtual microscopy lately, OK, I have been totally absorbed in them, yielding a few "firsts" and "breakthroughs" that are even amazing to me.  The development tools I have been using, some for a decade now, some new, really allow small teams to get complex projects completed rapidly.

For instance, one of the best and most forward thinking IDE's I have ever used to date is IntelliJ IDEA for Java.  Java is not my main language for development, but I have programmed in it for many years now, and I use it primarily for development of one of my companies virtual microscopy viewers, an applet for use in web browsers.  IDEA is just a sweet environment to work in if you are a real programmer, there are just some really cool features it has that I wish were incorporated into other IDE's at the moment.  As long as we are on Java, I also like to use Borland's JBuilder which I think I have been using since v3.  Both of these environments work on multiple platforms, (i.e. Linux, OS X, Windows) and moving my project between either IDE or any platform is easy.

My main choice of IDE for Windows development is Borland Delphi, since Delphi 1.  One of the easiest to use tools out there, yet deep enough for the professional.  I have built some very nice software with Delphi over the years.

Permanent link to archive for 07/11/03.Fri, 07 November 2003

Every now and then I surf across a funny custom "error 404" page on a site...  here is one I stumbled into today.

Permanent link to archive for 24/10/03.Fri, 24 October 2003

Click MeThe December issue of Model Aviation magazine contains the annual U.S. Nationals issue, one of my favorites.  I was offered the opportunity to cover the Nats soaring event again this year, to photograph and write the R/C Soaring column.  This is an event I enjoy participating in as a contestant, but it is also a favorite topic of mine to write about as well as photograph.

I like that tiled cover art design, and hey that's me holding TK's AstroJeff on the cover!

Should be on the magazine stands or in your mailbox if you are a subscriber very soon.

If you would like to see additional Nats pictures and video, click here.

(Did the 8pm Panther purchase at the local Apple store this evening, install in progress...)

Permanent link to archive for 22/10/03.Wed, 22 October 2003 is a clever way to track the weather from your aggregator.  It's currently being beta tested, I think it's a neat use of an rss feed.

By the way, I recently purchased the full version of NetNewsWire for the Mac.  The cool feature the full version has over the lite version is that I can see all the changes the bloggers make to their articles as they edit themselves.

Permanent link to archive for 21/10/03.Tue, 21 October 2003

I just read Julian Dibbell's blog Play Money, which is about auctioning online game virtual property on eBay.  I had no idea people were addicted to online games at this level.  Fascinating.

Permanent link to archive for 14/10/03.Tue, 14 October 2003

I bought an Apple iSight camera yesterday, it's just an attractive gizmo that keeps catching my eye.  The design is very appealing, typical of hardware that Apple designs.  And the packaging, I really enjoy the way Apple presents its products out of the box.

Unfortunately, once I started getting ready to use it there were some misses.  From all the pictures I looked at, it appeared that this camera would mount on top of my iMac screen, but I discovered that attachment works only for a laptop.  The suggested mount for the iMac is a piece that is attached to the back of the monitor with double sided sticky tape.  I didn't want to do that to my monitor, so I used the third stand which is just a mini table stand.  Next, there is no included software.  You can download the iChat AV beta and wait for Panther

It is supposed to have a IIDC interface on firewire, so it probably will work on some other computers around here.

I guess lack of software is just an opportunity...  still a neat little camera, I have some plans for it.

Permanent link to archive for 09/10/03.Thu, 09 October 2003

I haven't written about virtual microscopy in awhile, it's not for lack of effort, I have been busy working on several exciting projects throughout this year with my team at Bacus Labs

Going back about 10 years in history, during the normal operation of the CAS 100 and CAS 200 imaging systems a technician manually manipulated the microscope and captured individual grayscale images and made quantitative measurements over a small subjective area of the slide.  Years later automated microscopes start performing the same tasks offering the improvement of measuring a larger sample area, but it ties up an expensive system with one slide at a time under the lens as the results are obtained.  Now we are entering the era where a microscope slide scanner rapidly digitizes the entire slide and places it on a server for archival, viewing and subsequent image analysis.  Network distributed image analysis, it works, and it's here now.

We just released a product utilizing this technique, software for tissue microarray (TMA) research, named TMAscore.  It's main user interface is that of a virtual microscopy viewer, with an image analysis and multivariate classifier engine built in behind it.  The software is novel in itself for tissue microarray research, but the cool thing is that obviously these virtual slides are available over the network.  So now I can work with my laptop on a WiFi wireless network and do research and analysis that once tied me to the microscope workstation.  I don't have to store the slides on my hard disk, they are safe and secure on the server.  And of course there are all the obvious benefits of virtual slides, they don't fade or break, and are easy to find, or share with collaborators.

Permanent link to archive for 05/10/03.Sun, 05 October 2003

Five months ago on this day I wrote this on my blog.  At that point I had 1,146 songs on my iPod, 6 GB's or about three days of continuous music.  Today, I have 2,568 songs on my iPod comprising 13.38 GB, or about seven days of continuous music.  I am still not finished with digitizing my complete CD collection, but I am close.  I think it's just wonderful to carry my complete music library with me where ever I go, I get more use out of my music than I ever did before.  The iPod is not full yet either, and the iMac is just handling all of this with ease.  The iPod is one of those gizmos you wonder if you really should buy, but after you own it for awhile not only do you continue to use it, it makes you think how you ever did with out it.

Permanent link to archive for 30/09/03.Tue, 30 September 2003

I found these spy shots of the upcoming C6 Corvette, this may be my next car.  Until then I'll continue enjoying my C5.

Permanent link to archive for 15/09/03.Mon, 15 September 2003

I attended the annual LOFT Fall Round Up (FRU) contest last weekend, a contest that I have been going to as long as it's been a part of the Ohio Valley Soaring Series (OVSS).  TK and I took Friday off, and left in the morning so we could get some practice flying in at the AMA grounds.  It was one of the smoothest trips to Muncie that I can remember, we managed to miss traffic and we arrived in plenty of time to fly.  Upon arrival to the AMA, we drove out to the place where we normally fly sailplanes and nobody was there.  Strange to be the only ones out there, I asked TK to check his R/C frequency scanner, (AMA grounds are large, people could be flying somewhere else), and sure enough, we see someone on channel 60.  We drove around to the power field with the tarmac landing strips, and found other R/C modelers.  Cliff was out with a winch and some other guys with sailplanes, and were sharing a flight line with the power guys.  It has been a long time since I flew along side power models, there was no problem with cooperation, but it sure was different.  Don Smith arrived shortly after us, and not too long after that Martin Doney.  Marc Gellart showed up a little later, and flew other peoples planes (OPP).  We all flew until sunset approached, which was just about the right time to quit as the mosquitoes seemed to get quite active.  We all went over to Muncie Airport to Vincent's Restaurant and enjoyed an excellent meal and conversation, basically a great day and evening.

And then I got completely ill late that night.  Maybe it was something I ate, but ouch, I was sick.  Very little sleep as well, not the way to start off the contest weekend.

The weather on Saturday was beautiful, just great weather for a soaring contest.  I wish I felt better, but it was not going to hold me back from contesting.  Mike Remus was the contest director for today's contest, and I like the way he does seeded MoM.  He will call long rounds and lets you fly the model you want to anytime you want to, he runs a sportsman class along side the experts and it works.  He has a real good understanding of which rules work and which one don't, and that only comes from contesting all the time.  I don't know if Mike started this, but the last two OVSS contests they allowed the first round one line break just to test the lines.  I think this is a good idea, an even better idea is to restring your clubs winches with new line before a big contest as we do at SOAR OVSS Fred Fredrickson memorial, or as CSS does at their OVSS memorial contest.  A new idea Mike introduced at the FRU this year was a coned area that you had to land in to score a flight.  It was about the same area as the HLG guys use at the Nats, and the landing tapes were in this zone.  It really cut down the off field landings, tightens up a big field, I liked this idea a lot.

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Mike Remus pats himself on the back after awarding himself 2nd place on Saturday.

Thirty six pilots competed in four flight groups off of the AMA's real ball winches on the same field that we fly the Nats on.  I wish I could remember more about the days event, but I was just hanging on health wise.  At one point I nearly gave my timer my TX because I thought I was going to hurl, but I hung in there.  I do remember just getting buried by Mike Remus in round 4, he really pounded a bunch of us there.  Flying a very competitive round 5 where a couple of us pounded the group.  And then I got buried again in round 6 by Richard Burnoski, heck I was able to walk back, disassemble my ICON and put it in its bag, and he was still flying.  "That will leave a mark!"  That flight scored the win for Richard, I dropped into 6th place for the day.

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The top three places in Expert and Sportsman.

Expert: 1st - Richard Burnoski, 2nd - Mike Remus, 3rd - Ben Roberto

Sportsman: 1st - Greg Prater, 2nd - Jim Redden, 3rd - Robin Meek

It really was a good time, the flying was superb and the sportsmanship and attitudes on the field were just wonderful to be around.  After the contest Sieb whipped out this electric P-51 that he let me and TK rape the air with, all kinds of aerobatics with great snap rolls.  Another pilot flew an FAI contest type helicopter and was pulling off some cool 3D moves, Capn' Jack and I found that to be quite impressive.  We both liked the half pipe tail slides.

I went out to Cafe 909 with a group of SOAR guys and had an early dinner, and then it was off to bed to catch up on some sleep.

The weather for Sunday did not look so good, when we arrived at the field it was still raining, and a lot of guys out preparing to fly.  Tom Siler, CD for Sunday looked impatient to start this contest, and looked like he might even start with it raining.  He already called three 5 minute rounds just to get a contest in.  I didn't even have to ask TK if he was going to fly, I already knew the answer.  Don Smith looked at the weather and decided not to fly as well.  I still have no ink on my LSF level V voucher, and with unstable conditions like this I might have a strong chance for a win.  I asked TK if cared if I flew today, (I was driving with him), and I wanted a shot at a level V win.  He said, "Go for it...", and I smiled.  Robin, Cliff and Ben helped keep my wings dry in the rain so I could get some tape down and stuck to hold the panels together, and then helped me lay a tarp over my model.  Tom called the first flight group out, it was still raining... I was thinking I am glad I am not in group A, I wouldn't launch in this.  Then he thought better of the situation, and paused the contest until the rain stopped, which wasn't long.

Stepping up to winch in round one, everything was wet.  I know the lines were going to be really heavy and weak due to the rain, so TK and I decided to take a real light tension launch.  I tapped the model up the line and *BAP*, the line broke.  I couldn't have been more careful but the CD was not going to allow any line breaks today.  "Fly it out!"  All I had was a stiff head wind and that little berm out by the road just beyond the parking lot.  I flew up wind and sloped the berm for 4:44 and got back to the inbounds box, no landing.  Not a great start, but heck, the first three rounds are 5's, the scores will be tight.  Mike Remus also broke a line in the first round, so in the second round we flew in group D with the sportsman, I am sure they just loved our company.  This time I only launched with a bit of camber, no launch mode, and was just as careful tapping my model up.  Now with the luxury of almost full launch height I explored up wind to see which treelines and ground structure was working.  I wandered around a bit and them came back with a decent landing approach, but wind and turbulence in the landing zone combined with a low and slow approach caused me to catch a wingtip just before the tape.  I couldn't believe it, TK and I just laughed it off.  I would be sure to make that approach much higher with much more authority for the rest of this contest.  Capn' Jack came by after that last flight and reminded me to keep focused, he had jumped up to second place and scores were really tight.  That last score was just enough to move me up into group C in round 3, and this time I finally felt like I was getting on track.  I took a very cautious launch, got as close to 5 as I could in the wind and nailed a 90 landing.  We marched through the three 5 minute rounds rapidly, the weather started improving and Tom decided to make this a flying contest, and called a 12 minute task for round 4.  I was talking to Jerry Shape and Mike Remus at the time and declared that no one would make a 12.  Jerry said with this group of pilots someone would max, and asked me if I wanted to bet him.  I thought about it for awhile, and decided against it, he was probably correct.  The first two flight groups didn't even make it half way, this was a last down contest now... I like this.  I moved up to group B from that last good round, and now I had some tough cookies to fly against.  Everyone here was hungry for group A, as was I.  I still took a cautious launch, and struck out left on my own upwind.  I asked TK, "Does it look like I am going up as I push out?", and he replied "I like your program".  Within a minute I am at cloud base and my bright green ICON Lite is graying out in the mist.  I slow the model down and TK reminds me we can stay at this level as long as I want, we were in this inversion layer at cloud base, we just need to keep the field position right in case I loose it into the clouds.  So I start playing this visibility threshold game, the model wants badly to climb into the cloud and disappear on me, yet I don't want to give altitude away.  At about five minutes in, TK tells me that some guys are really struggling.  Around 6 minutes it starts lightly raining and I hear models start landing.  My model is still strong at cloud base and full of energy.  Now it really starts to rain and TK pulls out his large umbrella and shields it against the wind to deflect the rain from my TX and face.  Only Marty and I are left in the sky around the 9 minute mark, Marty is flying a wave upwind of me in speed racer mode, working it for all it was worth.  I mentioned to TK he was really flying that well, he thought so too, but the rain was taking that all away.  Jerry Shape walked up to me at this point, and just put his face were I could see it.  I said, "I know Jerry, you would have won the bet", and he replied, "I know you wouldn't land early to win that bet either!".  8-)  Marty landed at around the 10 minute mark, and I flew the remaining two minutes alone in the rain.  TK was the ultimate timer in this situation, he moved the umbrella around, had a plastic bag over my TX and had his towel convenient to keep the TX dry. We set up for the landing, and such as things are, when you are applying the burial, all eyes are upon you at the landing zone.  I slid the landing a bit in the wet grass, but 60 points works.  The applause after a flight like that always makes one smile, that one felt good and everyone saw it.  Tom Siler pronounced that there would be one more round, another 12 minute task.  I awaited the clipboards to get displayed by flight groups, to see if I made it to group A.  The first three groups were hung up on the board, and I wasn't there so that was a good sign.  The first flight group went out to fly as the money round was displayed on flight group board, and I had closed the gap quite a bit being in a close third place to Karl Miller and Richard.  Karl and Richard were both concentrating very much on winning the OVSS season championship which was tightly scored between them at this point.  I pulled my clipboard down and put it in my jacket, I didn't need those guys to know I was that close at this point.  I went back over to the SOAR tents to have a Red Bull, and Richard came over to work the mind games on Karl before the last flight.  I let these guys talk their talk back and forth on each other while I took the picture below.

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Richard, Bill, Karl and Cindy check out the air before the last round.  Richard and Karl are "contest talking".

I grabbed my iPod out of the van and jammed out to Nicholas Tremulis "King of the Hill" while I watched the flight group ahead of ours.  Nobody maxes, everyone struggles, but the air still kind of looked good right where I took my last flight, the guys just didn't keep flying over the right spot.  So here it is, the last round of the OVSS season, the money round, and I have worked hard to get to fly in it.  As I walk out to the assigned winch, I tell TK that I want a full tension launch for this last flight, I want a big launch.  I have been holding back on my launches all day since my line break in round one, but not with this group.  Bill Wingstedt launches first and promptly breaks a line.  I look at TK and tell him I am still going for it, full launch.  I took a full launch and zoom and it felt great to get that much altitude.  About 20 seconds in I hear Richard and Karl arguing about who found a particular thermal, both hooked up in it and started dragging most of the pack downwind.  Marc Gellart and Jerry Shape fly upwind to the right out to the far tree line.  And I flew by myself back to the same spot as the previous flight, and right back up to cloud base.  TK kept me informed of everyones progress, and it was clear that many of us were going to max this round one way or another.  He said the downwind pack was flying well beyond the AMA building, almost invisible and trying to make their way back.  There was a good chance that Marc and Jerry had their maxes.  I heard Karl yelp and moan as he landed early, apparently it was wicked trying to make it back from that downwind run.  Sieb didn't make it back, and landed his Pike Superior way out, and it was lost.  About two minutes to go my air had deteriorated, as well as my much of my altitude.  I had to make a run for home, the schmeg demons were just yanking my stab to the ground.  TK was telling me it was going to be close, take any air I find on the way home and stretch.  I flew over the parking lot downwind on my way back and the ICON bumped.  I threw it on a wing tip and the wrap was neutral.  TK says "Kick it, kick that rudder".  I wish I had more energy but I can't take my hand off the stick at this moment to click in some down trim so I am pushing around the dish trying to get some speed, and I do kick that rudder.  Second dish I get some speed and we are going up, I quickly click a digital "beep" of down trim and get a faster dish going.  Next wrap add a little camber to taste and I have the ICON cored on that thermal, just cooking it.  Next thing I know I am setting up for a landing and it's windy.   Guys are missing their landings up and down the zone due to the wind gusts.  I carry a lot of energy in, not worrying a lot about the count down and stab the landing tape for 30.  As I turned around there was my good friends Capn' Jack and Karen standing behind me applauding, that was a special moment.  I gave that flight everything I had and it felt real good, I knew Karl landed short, and Richard missed his landing, the scores would be real close now.

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Tom Siler awards Robin Meek his first and last win in the Sportsman class.  Robin was flying an ICON Thermal in sportsman, is that like a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac? 

Tom Siler, CD awarded the sportsman trophies, and Robin Meek earned his first win in the sportsman class, now he will be flying in expert.  I remember when I did this, I didn't see wood for an entire season after that event. 8-)  Marc Gellart and Steve Siebenaler did a great job of a announcing the OVSS championship, here is a little mpeg video I shot of the event as it happened.  As it turns out that lousy 30 point landing was enough to edge Richard for first place, and I was awarded my first LSF level V win.

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Sportsman: 3rd - Jim Redden, 2nd - Bob Burson, 1st - Robin Meek

Expert: 3rd - Karl Miller, 1st - Jim Bacus, 2nd- Richard Burnoski (OVSS and weekend champion)


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Karl Miller - OVSS Champion 2000, Jim Bacus - OVSS Champion 2002, Richard Burnoski - OVSS Champion 2003

All three fly in the SOAR club and are proud to keep that eagle roosting in Chicago

Capn' Jack suggested to the SOAR guys that we stop at the Loon Lake Lodge on the drive back home for dinner.  It would be on the last exit on 69 before you take 465 around Indy, there would be a full size yellow aeroplane on the roof with floats.  We all managed to find it and arrive at approximately the same time, and were seated to a large table with plenty of room.  It was a pleasant way as a club to end the contest season and celebrate it with an awesome meal.  This spot is definitely a "keeper", we will be eating there on every Muncie trip now.

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The SOAR club dines together after OVSS FRU

Over dinner Sieb rings my cell and tells me he found his Pike.  Folks, let me tell you he out did Karl Miller's infamous leaving the Stork hanging on the high tension wires on the AMA grounds, I wish there were pictures.  His Pike was found on the roof of the new AMA building...  I about dropped my cell phone I was laughing so hard. 

Thanks once again to Mike Remus, Tom Siler, Marc Gellart, Steve Siebenaler, the LOFT club, AMA and everyone else involved with the OVSS and the Fall Round Up, it was a blast!

Permanent link to archive for 02/09/03.Tue, 02 September 2003

Click to enlargeI just got back from the USA F3J team selection contest which was hosted in Denver, Colorado by the RMSA club.  The contest was held over the labor day weekend, with practice and the pilots meeting on Friday, qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sunday, and the final rounds on Monday.

I jetted in on Thursday from O'Hare with Rae and met my team mates Jim McCarthy and Tom Kallevang who drove in with the models and equipment, and David McCarthy who arrived on a later flight.  The weather on Thursday was pleasant, only a few people were flying and we had a good time testing all our models out.

Friday was more of the same, good weather and many more pilots out practicing, cutting lines, catching up with friends and preparing.  Don Smith and Robin Meek, also from Chicago SOAR arrived today via driving bringing more equipment and help.  When the field slowed down a bit we practiced some two man tows, I towed all my models up.  Friday evening the pilots meeting was held at the Marriott Courtyard on Tower Rd., which also turned out to be a really nice place to stay.

Friday Photo Gallery

Saturday we only got in two rounds due to weather, the day degraded rapidly.  My first flight was strong (a nice start to the contest) and my second I thought was flown as about as well as I could in the weather, I wasn't the only one finding it difficult.  We got rained on for about four hours, thought we might be able to go again, switched the field and another front moved in and hit us again.  I didn't carry a camera because of the rain, so I took no pictures on Saturday.  We had to rapidly disassemble and pack everything in the rain, there were planes and parts in the wrong wing bags, in the wrong vehicles, all wet.  It took some time back at the hotel to dry everything out and get it back to the proper owners.

Sunday morning started off with rain but it eventually stopped and the contest rolled ahead.  The first round and the last round of Sunday probably had the toughest conditions of the weekend.  We only got a chance to fly 7 qualifying rounds, which made for a one throw out contest.  I really wish we could have flown more.

Sunday Photo Gallery

Monday morning still wasn't cooperating, with heavy fog that didn't clear for hours, it was going to be yet another late start.  When the fog cleared we had 3 rounds of seniors, 3 rounds of juniors, and finished up with 3 rounds of seniors again.  The sun came out and the whole sky was UP!  I am sure the guys in the final liked the sunshine, but wished the conditions were a little tougher as this became a rapid launch and precision landing game very quickly, with about 14 and a half minutes or more of cruising around in between.

Monday Photo Gallery

There was no doubt in my mind a contest with this many good pilots in attendance was going to produce a good USA F3J team.  And it did just that, with Joe Wurts in first, Tom Kiesling in second, and Larry Jolly in third with Josh Glaab in fourth as the team alternate.

MPEG movie of the 2004 US F3J Team announcement

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Josh Glaab - Alternate,  Tom Kiesling - 2nd,  Joe Wurts -1st,  Larry Jolly - 3rd

Memorable Moments

Larry Jolly making one of the most incredible saves I have ever seen on Sunday.  LJ popped off at about 100' and proceeded upwind to small cove of trees and started doing wide smooth circles, there must have been a thermal there but I didn't see it.  He actually walked out all the way to his towers as he concentrated on making his Eraser stay up.  I watched him fly at about 100' for over five minutes in this area, it looked at times it was all going to fall apart but he would reposition and keep the model barely off the ground.  Towards the end of the flight the thermal finally kicked off allowing him to get some altitude so he could walk all the way back to the landing tape and shoot the landing. It was an incredible show of persistence and just willing a model to stay up.

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Larry Jolly and 'Roo' the Aussie F3J Team Mascot

Later in the afternoon I was lucky enough to see my first bald eagle soaring amongst models.  Two local hawks decided to attack the bald eagle and performed dive attacks from above.  The eagle did the nicest series of rolls that I have ever seen a bird do, each time taking it's claws to the hawks diving at him from above.  I have to imagine the eagle heard us on the ground cheering him, because he treated us to this show several times and more and more pilots got to watching the show, and cheering louder.  The bald eagle is a majestic soaring "B" one "R" "D",  larger and faster than anything I have seen.

Joe Wurts entire set of flying was methodical, he never seemed to ever get into any position to harm himself.  Since I had a lot of time to watch him in the fly offs on Monday, I noticed things I hadn't before.  His strategies are well thought out, and executed equally well.  For instance, nobody gets off the line quicker than Joe (at least on purpose).

Tom Kiesling was flying as well as I have ever seen him do in a contest.  His landing precision was amazing, continually placing his Mantis on the 100 between the 1 second to go beep and the horn.  He left very little meat on the bone.  And his team mate Josh Glaab, I have heard of this guy but never seen him fly before, wow!  What nice guys to be around too.

If LJ's pop off and save wasn't good enough for everyone on Sunday, Jim McCarthy duplicated the deal in a 15 minute final round.  LJ was going to give one of his bionic high tension launches, (if you don't know what I mean, try towing a model that Larry is holding on to in preparation for launch), unfortunately Jimbo's model over accelerated and popped off really low.  LJ called for Jimbo and he flew most of that 15 minutes below 400'.  Jimbo took that round with a 14:56.57 and nailed the 100.  Incredible flying, just amazing.  Lesson to learn, never, never give up.

TK (Tom Kallevang) my close flying friend for the past several years made the finals with some very consistent flying.  In the finals he was flying more aggressively than I have ever seen him, and I have seen about every flight he has taken for years.  Nice to see new tricks from old dogs, I'm impressed, definitely took it up a notch.

And finally, my last memorable moment was LJ snapping a line just as he was tensioning to launch in the finals, the line hit him in the neck and drew blood.  The line break also somehow caused the boom on his Eraser to break.  If he were to change models it would have wasted valuable time needed to make the team, so he launched and flew a model with a completely broken boom, the only thing that may have been holding this model together were the push rods and shreaded glass.  The boom was drooping about ten degrees, but he had enough up trim to keep the model flying.  Ya baby, he maxed the remaining amount of time and nailed his landing.

It was a difficult weekend of soaring due to the weather, but in the end we have an awesome team to cheer for and support for the 2004 F3J world championships.  At the edge of the flying site I spotted this barn with a huge message on its roof, I think this picture gives a hint about our new F3J team.  (As usual on my web site, click any picture to enlarge it)

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Permanent link to archive for 26/07/03.Sat, 26 July 2003

The final day of Nats, and Nostalgia and RES can make for a great way to spend it if the weather cooperates. Unfortunately, it was overcast and windy which makes it difficult to fly some of the older wooden Nostalgia models. Back again this year was Jack Iafret, CD of Nostalgia and Mike Fritz was the CD of the RES event. Both of these gentlemen did an excellent job.

In my opinion, Nostalgia brings out some of the most beautiful looking models in our hobby. And the pilots that brought them out today were determined to fly them. The wind was so strong at points that models were launched without tapping the winch peddle more than once or twice. I remember Steve Siebenaler with the help of Rob Glover launching Steve's Windfree in what seemed like what was going to be a disaster. But they didn't press the winch peddle, the model barely spooled out line as it climbed out on a successful launch. Sometimes we were on the line as long as 20 seconds. We parked our gas bags in the wind, and brought them down as safe as we could, hopefully on a landing tape.

Another flight I remember is Tom Scully popping off with his Challenger, hooking it up from low level in a thermal and maxing the round. In fact getting so hooked up that his talking timer beeped for over 40 seconds after he was supposed to be on the ground, it just didn't want to come down!

And the last flight memory I can share here was that Jim Deck got to compete in his first contest at the Nats in several years. The flight line literally broke out in applause after Jim landed his 3m Gnome in the last round of the contest on Saturday. It's moments like these that make coming to the Nats so special.

In the Nostalgia event, James Vanderzly placed first flying his Challenger, Ryan Woebkenberg placed second, and Tom Scully place third also flying a Challenger. In RES, Troy Lawicki is the new national champion, Mike Fritz placed second, and Don Richmond placed third.

The results of RES and Nostalgia can be seen here:  2003 RES and NOS  Nationals Scores

2003 Nationals Picture Gallery

Permanent link to archive for 25/07/03.Fri, 25 July 2003

The good weather continues, but somewhat cooler than what is typical for Muncie this time of year. Ed Wilson was the CD of the unlimited class thermal duration contest this year, and he ran an extremely smooth contest both days. Although there were rumors floating around the pits both days, there was no throw out round for the unlimited class contest.

As you might have guessed by now, all eyes are upon Joe Wurts as he has won every contest he has entered to this point. Joe chose his ICON Lite to fly for the next two days, I noticed that he always carried a pipe or two of ballast in his cargo shorts, and he frequently changed the amount he carried in his model right up to the point he had to launch.

The air for both days was typical Muncie, ever changing, sometimes great and sometimes down right awful. But at least when you fly Man on Man like we do at the Nats, all the pilots are scored in the same air, good or bad. Man on man flying with a group of pilots of this caliber means minimizing or making no mistakes for two days. The flying is solid and skills are honed at this point in the season. One little bobble can send you tumbling down the score sheets prominently displayed on the blue box by the "white whale" scoring trailer.

Early on Friday I saw Larry Jolly pop off on launch, that is not something that would normally happen to him. He instantly flew down wind rapidly towards the new control line tarmac, and guess what was waiting for him? He thermalled out from low altitude and made one of the best contest saves of the week that I witnessed.

Although the scores in the top ten were tight, by the last round in the contest Larry Jolly was keeping the pressure on. As contest luck would have it, Larry and Joe were lined up in the matrix to fly in the last round of the contest against each other. After what seemed like it was going to be a non event as all the pilots easily found air and achieved the task times, Joe missed his first landing in four days! And believe it or not, Larry missed his too.

Joe Wurts is now the new unlimited class national champion, and he swept every event he entered at the Nats with some very impressive flying. Larry Jolly placed second flying a Hera cross tail, and Dr. Dan Williams placed third flying a F3J ICON.

The evening was topped off with the traditional Friday night banquet out at the golf course.  Capn' Jack got the affair started on time, and it was a very pleasant evening.  It's always fun to share time off of the field over a good dinner, and always interesting to see all the pilots in street clothes with out their hats or sunglasses on.  It was such a nice evening I popped off the roof on the Vette and took a long drive home through Muncie.

The results of unlimited thermal duration can be seen here:  2003 Unlimited Nationals Scores

2003 Nationals Picture Gallery

Permanent link to archive for 23/07/03.Wed, 23 July 2003

Mike McGowan was the contest director for 2m this year, which was flown on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and he wanted to make it a "kinder, gentler" contest this year.  All the task times for both days were in the 7 to 9 minute range, and for the first time I can remember in the years I have been attending the Nats, we were going to get a throw out round in a thermal duration event.  I would have to say it was a very relaxed contest, his recipe worked.  Although I am not sure a throw out round is needed in a thermal duration event at the nationals.


This is the first event were we got to fly on the new landing zones and tapes, and I think they really improved the system from last year.  If there is anything left to iron out, it could only be minor.  These are challenging landings to make as a pilot, but quick and easy to score so the zones are cleared quickly.


The weather for both days was very pleasant, the thermals were there if you could get a big launch and make the right decisions.  After the first day, it was apparent that Joe Wurts was flying very strong again.  He was flying a molded V tail Image from Maple Leaf Designs, a model that he has had in a box for over three years and built just before coming to the Nats.  In fact the first flights were just after the HLG contest on Monday.  But you couldn't tell that by the way he was flying it.


On Wednesday it was simply a Joe show, he won every round he flew in, and scored landing points in each of those rounds as well.  Joe Wurts is the new national champion in the 2m class, Oleg Golovidov placed second with a model of his own design, and Larry Jolly placed third flying an Organic.


The results of 2m can be seen here:  2003 2m Nationals Scores

2003 Nationals Picture Gallery

Permanent link to archive for 21/07/03.Mon, 21 July 2003

I still had to be out at the field early today as I was fullfilling my obligation to help time and call for Steve Meyer in the HLG contest, but it was somewhat of a break for me as I was not competing.  Steve helped tow in F3J for me, and in return I help him in HLG, it's a good deal for both of us.  It's nice to have good help.

I don't know why these guys have all the bad luck, but the weather did not cooperate again this year for the HLG contest.  At least the rain for the most part missed us, just harassing us with a light sprinkle in the morning.  Overcast, cold, windy, but there were thermals moving through, sometimes rather quickly.  Marc Gellart was back again this year to CD the HLG contest, and his experience showed with starting the contest at the right time after the front moved through, and using the appropriate predetermined tasks for the current weather at hand.

Six rounds were flown, with a break for lunch mid way through the contest.  The pace of the contest was relaxed, but the flying once on the field was intense.  At times there were many strong small thermals rapidly passing through the flying area, and it was always a judgment call on how far you could take one up before you got too far downwind.  Steve Siebenaler flying an XP-3 and Larry Jolly flew very strong contests.  Joe Wurts was flying a Taboo designed by Oleg Golovidov with 5.5 oz. of ballast in it, and won every round except his first. 

Joe was really in my ear about getting back into contesting HLG, it sure looked like the guys were having fun.  It certainly got me thinking about it again.

The results of HLG can be seen here:  2003 HLG Nationals Scores

2003 Nationals Picture Gallery

Permanent link to archive for 20/07/03.Sun, 20 July 2003

Waking up to that alarm buzzer again, feeling the effects of the previous day and evening.  My head hurts and I am down one model.  I checked out the weather on TV and drank the small pot of hotel room coffee, got my stuff together and met TK down in the lobby.  TK and I would end up driving together each morning, we always do that.

It was bright and sunny out, but a bit of dew on the ground early in the morning and that was going to take a while to burn off.   We did a drive thru at McDonalds so we ate breakfast at the field and built our models.  TK had the Best of the Beach Boys jamming from the Van, it was an appropriate set of music.

The air today really got challenging at times, other times it was quite easy, the cycles were long and the wind variable in speed.  The plan was to get 4 more qualifier rounds, take a lunch break, and then use the rest of the day for the fly off rounds.

There was some hero or zero flying going on, and some guys were not making it back to the landing zone, even worse, some even landing out.  Larry Jolly who was quite strong to this point took two zeroes in the difficult morning air, both were excellent flights, just not quite enough to make it back.  Dan Williams who also was flying strong lost his F3J ICON out in the corn.  I remember watching Joe Wurts flying fast through sink down wind that guys were bailing out of and limping home, way out over the corn fields, and instead of turning back he went faster and farther down wind, way past the point of no return.  And then just at the far end of the field probably less then 100 foot in altitude he finds a thermal and screws his ICON into the sky at an alarming rate of ascent. 

We took a break for lunch and scoring figured out who the top 10 fliers were going to be in the fly off.  TK and I were in the top 10 before they did the throw out scores, but shifted out after they did the throw out.  David McCarthy picked me to be one of the experienced towers, we had a strong  new guy with me, LJ would call for David. 

The plan was for five 15 minute rounds so there could be one throw out round.  The qualifying scores were not carried through, all the fly off pilots started with a clean slate.

The air continued to be unpredictable, there was some really incredible flying going on.  The turning point in the fly offs was in round 4.  There was one good thermal cycle moving downwind fast just before the launch horn, it was going to be the ride, hero or zero.  Right after the launch I saw two pilots go for it, David McCarthy and Joe Wurts.  I was towing for David McCarthy and after running back from towing I see Larry Jolly on one knee next to David looking towards the horizon.  Larry says, "Do you have David's plane", I quickly scan the sky and don't see it.  I say no, and Larry says, "DOWNWIND", and I spot it, just a little cross of a dust spec on the horizon.  I try not to say anything to alarm David, but I can't hold it back and an "oh shit"  spurts out any way.  So Larry and I keep an eye on it for over a minute, it's just silence between us all but David is squirming and leaning the TX around.  It's only Joe and David that are left flying but Joe is zipping by overhead and David has made very little progress getting back.  Larry says, "You are flying towards us aren't you?"  Oh man, I am biting my lips trying not to laugh.  David mumbles something at Larry, probably appropriate at the time... and then Larry says, "You don't have camber on do you?"  David makes this groaning noise and cleans up the wing.  The model starts getting closer, but it's clear it's going to be in the corn.  Several of us get a good spot on it as it goes in.

David proclaims "That was farther out than last year, BABY!!!"  He's got a good attitude, of course that flight scored a zero.  Unfortunately the model was never found.

The results of F3J can be seen here:  2003 F3J Nationals Scores

2003 Nationals Picture Gallery

Permanent link to archive for 19/07/03.Sat, 19 July 2003

Up at 6:30am to the hotel alarm clock buzzer, this would be the normal routine for the week as we like to get out to the field early and take care of business before the contest starts.  Many of my friends were looking forward to the two days of F3J this year at Nats, as was I.  Two days of F3J flying also attracted some really great talent from California, namely Joe Wurts and Larry Jolly, both former US F3J team members.

My F3J team consisted of Tom Kallevang (pilot), Jack Strother (pilot) and Steve Meyer (experienced tower), but we had adjacent lanes with Jim and David McCarthy (father and son) and Steve "Sneidley" Schneider, all fellow SOAR members and guys I practice with.    So it's like we are one big happy team.  It turns out that this morning I learn that Larry Jolly will be flying with our teams as well, he is flying un teamed and solo.  Jim McCarthy and Larry are good friends, and know the F3J game.  If there was a way that Larry could be taken care of within our mix, they would figure it out with reasonable logistics.  I was wanting a chance to fly and talk with LJ during this week at Nats anyway, this was going to obviously provide an opportunity for that to happen.

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It took a while to get started this year, Phil Renaud, CD is usually quite punctual with an early morning start.  I think there were some timing equipment problems, but they got things straightened out and the contest proceeded.  We decided this year not to run a TX impound so that radios did not have to be shuttled back and forth to the pilots as has happened in previous years.  The morning air was not easy, the sky was a bit overcast and the winds were light.  My first two rounds were certainly nothing to write about, but no major mistakes either so I just keep trucking like I usually do in F3J, it's a long contest and anything can happen.  In my third round I maxed and hit a nice landing, just before the horn, or so we thought.  A strong way to finish before lunch break.  As I walked off the field Joe Wurts approached me and said, "Your last landing was late."  I said, "It was?"  He said, "Phil said it was late."  I said, "I guess it was late then" without emotion.  Joe continued to talk to me about how it is better to be early then cut it close as well as other strategies, but I was thinking to myself no official has told me I was late yet.  I also knew that once Phil had made a decision it was final, so there is no reason to even talk about it.  Still, kind of strange no one other than Joe has mentioned anything to me so I decide to sit at the picnic table with Phil for lunch.  No mention of the late landing call, but we had a very pleasant lunch and conversation.

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Back out on the field for round 4, mid way through the round I hear a rumour passed down the flight line that Joe spotted an error on my score card and pointed it out to the CD for correction.  I haven't even received my card yet, but I guess someone forgot to tell scoring about my late landing.   The only thing that upsets me about this moment is that these guys might think I am cheating or trying to pull a fast one.  Up to this point, I have been passive about the situation.  I now approached Phil, told him no one told us we were late, we thought we were in and scored it on the score card.  If he calls it late, it's late, the CD has the final call and I knew I was close.  I was on an end lane at distance, there is the issue of when each of us actually heard the horn, but the lesson to be learned here is not to cut it so close. 

So my head is now clear of those issues, it is my turn to fly in round 4.  I hook up my trusty old friend, the green meanie ICON lite, TK says kick on one, this means we have beaucoup tension.  I kick, we rip a launch with a great ping and I get all of it.  I start drifting to the left and my model is non-responsive.  I yell those sick four words, "I DON'T HAVE IT".  Within seconds, the model is whistling in a straight dive towards the ground.  I don't watch it hit the ground, I can't.  I am already setting the TX up to the memory model of my back up F3B ICON lite, I can hear my tow guys in high gear resetting the lines for a relight.  Jack and TK are in my face yelling at me to focus on the flight, forget about what just happened.  I am doing it, probably slow because the multitude of thoughts that are racing through my mind, but this is all a routine for me now and I get set.  TX is OK, got the model, everything wiggles, hook it up... man, my tow guys are on it, kick, nail a launch and right into a pack of guys already in good air.  Continually being coached by good friends to keep focused on the flight, right to a 100 point landing.  I actually scored a pretty good flight, but I was emotionally so low now.  That was my number one model, a model I was very successful with over the past season and a half, now it is history.  Jack tells me what happened, he accidentally left his TX on after the last flight, he is feeling lower than me and that makes me feel bad too. 

That left me with two models to complete the F3J contest with, a F3B ICON lite that was better suited to windy weather, and my new AVA , a 39oz. RES model that has a similar design of the Mark Drela Bubble Dancer, but has the construction of a Vladimir model, i.e. like an Organic or Graphite.  The AVA was only a few weeks old, but I think it could make an excellent dead air tool.  I hadn't even done an F3J tow with this model yet, but the conditions towards the end of the day were pointing to using this model, so I was going to go for it.  Joe came down to our lane for it's maiden flight, he even offered to help tow it which he did with Steve Meyer.  I told them to take it easy as this was the first time, and they did, so it was a gentle launch.  I basically maxed the round (I left about 10 seconds on the table) not used to the landing approach of this model but I did get a 90 on the landing.  I also flew it in the last round of the day, this time taking a full launch zooming as high as the rest of the models, maxed the round and shot a 100 landing.  Not a bad debut for a 3 channel polyhedral model in a national level F3J contest.

The evening was to end with an excellent BBQ and bonfire with a close group of F3J fliers and friends.  Rae had made it down safely, and wisely avoided me after the model crash until the party started.  Joe Dirr was doing his BBQ chef thing, and it was all on.  Thanks once again, Mr. Dirr, and to everyone else that contributed to the BBQ.  The food was so deluxe, the best of everything you could have at a BBQ was out.  He had a smoker going out there with his special rib recipe, there were steaks, chicken, potato salad, fresh sweet corn cooked on the bonfire, and plenty of good things to drink.  What a party, things just kept getting wilder, it was a late night after a long hard day.

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Permanent link to archive for 18/07/03.Fri, 18 July 2003

I had been preparing for the Nationals for the better part of the month, but the last two evenings I burned the midnight oil.  I tried to finish my new ICON Lite, but it wasn't to be.  At least I finished the fuse, and I could use it mated to my light F3B wings, an interesting combination.  An unfinished ICON Lite wing left at home safe in the box would be good insurance.

I had the Vette all packed (to the limit), and Rae's Explorer too, she was going to meet me down in Muncie a day later so she didn't have to take the day off of work.  My business wasn't letting go of me so easy in the morning, but I took care of the issues and got on the road by 1:30pm.

The traffic out of Chicago on 80/94 just sucked, I spent two hours in what should take about 35-40 minutes of driving.  I will never take that route out of Chicago again, I am sick of it.  Stop and go traffic with a stick shift Vette wallows in lameness.  After I got into Indiana and started south on 65 everything opened up and I followed a bumblebee yellow Nissan R big cannon exhaust rod for a long time, made up some good time.  I like getting the Vette out on the open road, it drives so nice.  Traffic around Indianapolis was light, they call that feeder into 465, 865 now.  The ride back northeast into Muncie was relaxing, but laced with anticipation to see all my friends.  I wish I was able to leave earlier, it was such nice weather driving down, I bet the guys got some good practicing in today.

The sun had not set by the time I had made it to the Roberts and checked in, many were still out at the field.  I unpacked the car, the parking lot was full, this hotel was packed.  Got all my stuff up the elevators and into the room, cranked up the A/C and ventured down to Flappers to see who was hanging out at the bar.

No surprise to bump into Jack and Karen, they had just finished dinner at the bar, and I was going to do the same as they were staying awhile.  Jack recommended a BLT sandwich, sounded good to me so that's what I had.  Followed by a few drinks with Jack, Karen, and the steady stream of Nats contestants that kept popping in.  Jack and I are on the same F3J team and we knew this Nats was going to start early and likely be intense, so we called it an early evening.  I went back up to the room and fell right asleep and had a full nights sleep, a rare thing at Nats in Muncie.

Permanent link to archive for 15/07/03.Tue, 15 July 2003

I've been quite busy developing software and preparing for the R/C Soaring Nationals, working hard and playing hard.

Most of the pictures on this web site are photographed by myself, but I often get great photos sent to me by guys who enjoy my web site or pictures, and want to share something back but they don't have their own web site.  I am going to start sharing some of these photos, it seems a shame for them to dead end in my attachment folder.

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Karl Miller snapped this shot of me at the SOAR Fred Fredrickson Memorial contest earlier this year.  I was smiling and shrugging off an average attempt in very light air with my SchpotDorker, and he caught that and the V tail model on landing approach above my left shoulder.  I like this shot, thank you Karl for sending to me.

Permanent link to archive for 03/07/03.Thu, 03 July 2003

I am listed on the LSF Upgrades page!  I am one of four guys who made it to level IV this month, and one out of 680 ever that have made it this far.

Karl Miller sent me this photograph of the SOAR club members that were down at the Mid South contest last weekend.  Congratulations to Karl Miller for a win in expert on Saturday and a second in expert on Sunday to take home the Louisville slugger weekend champion (bat / wood).  Congratulations to Richard Burnoski for a win on Sunday in expert, both Karl and Richard are local SOAR club members.  Remember me saying long ago the OVSS series was going to be tight this year?

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Richard Burnoski, Karl Miller, Steve Meyer, Ben Roberto, Robin Meek

Last weekend I was with three other SOAR club members in Denver, Colorado at the F3J in the Rockies contest.  Jim McCarthy, his son David, Capn' Jack Strother and I, with Jim's brother Tom as a dedicated tower which formed our team.  This contest was held by the club that will host the USA F3J team selection contest, on the field that they intend to use for that contest.

I put together a simple web gallery of some of my best pictures that I snapped while I was there.

Permanent link to archive for 27/06/03.Fri, 27 June 2003

Several days ago I visited one of the American Board of Pathology testing centers to watch the virtual microscopy section of the test being taken.  As I entered the secure area, the first thing you notice after passing thru the reception area is 70 numbered cubicles each with a nice desk, microscope, computer and large monitor.   And each one of those cubicles was filled with a doctor taking an examination to be board certified.  It was very impressive for me to watch 65-70 people all using computers as their microscopes, and to realize my inventions have helped make that happen.

Our digital microscopy solutions are now being used in the board certification process along side traditional optical microscopy.  It would be difficult to find a better validation of the technology.  It struck me that we finally have achieved one of our goals of starting Bacus Laboratories , that is dramatically improving the way microscopy is practiced in medicine. 

We have worked years developing our scanning to produce professional diagnostic high quality digital microscope slides, to develop viewers that are fast and easy to use, and that can be integrated into other software such as the custom testing software that the American Board of Pathology has developed.  And servers to distribute large collections of slides to hundreds of students simultaneously, like we do daily at any one of the many medical universities that now teach with virtual microscopy.

Virtual microscopy is here to stay, and we will continue to invent, innovate and implement the solutions that will shape microscopy of the future.

Permanent link to archive for 24/06/03.Tue, 24 June 2003

Contest Report - SOAR Fred Fredrickson Memorial - OVSS #3

The SOAR Fred Fredrickson Memorial contest is a contest the SOAR club really looks forward to hosting each year.  This was the 6th year running of this contest, and I have watched it grow into what it is today, I have been to every one since its creation.

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Pilots Meeting

Weather for the weekend was perfect soaring weather, it was nice outside, but the air was challenging, nothing was easy.  We had eight winches out, all with fresh 280 lb. line that we loaded the weekend before, all winch batteries were constantly charged and connected to a gas generator.  Launches were strong, and not one line was broken in two days of contesting.  Landing task was an FAI tape with no skegs allowed, easy to score, easy on the models, easy to setup, and rapidly clears the landing zone, simple.  Seeded man on man OVSS style, and with one further modification, SOAR allows you to fly any model that you want to during the contest.

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Tom Kallevang helps Jim McCarthy measure his landing score.  The model is an Eraser.

It seems that it has become tradition that I take the first launch and flight at the Fred contest each year.  I am assured that it is a random draw, yet this year again I had the first flight both days.  We had 32 pilots competing both days, with guys traveling in from all over the country.

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Steve Siebenaler on approach with his Pike Superior, you can see the pits in the background

On Saturday the task times were 10, 10, 12, 15, and 10 for a total of 57 minutes of flying.  On Sunday the task times were 11, 11, 10, 10 for a total of 42 minutes of flying.  TK has a way with picking the appropriate task times for the conditions, and they were quite appropriate as many guys were not making the goal.  We brought out lunch for the pilots each day, sub sandwiches and a cooler full of ice cold pop that were quickly consumed, and kept everybody happy and the contest flowing.

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SOAR wood to 5th place, and a weekend overall trophy

Since the contest was at Crystal Lake this year, Jim McCarthy hosted the traditional Saturday night BBQ, it was awesome.  He had tenderloins going on a roticery before I got there, salad, baked beans, Rae's guacamole dip, Joe Dirr's crab dip, and of course, the Margarita sphere!  Not to mention all the good people, it is really a good idea to get together the night after with the people you contested with all day, it just allows everyone to get to know each other a little more, and it reinforces that this is all for fun and a good time.

Don Smith handled the scoring each day and did a great job.  Steve Meyer had the results posted to RCSE each evening, and had the final results on the SOAR web page by Monday.  Generally, the whole club pitched in and made this event happen.

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A group of pilots helping wind in the landing tapes at the end of the day

I have to say, there are some really good pilots in the Midwest right now, and they were really showing off their skills this weekend.  Tom Kallevang (TK), pulled something off that I don't think has ever happened in OVSS history so far, he stole a win from the series by winning back to back on a two day contest.  Congrats my friend, it was your weekend, and that performance makes you the lead dog at the third bend in the road.  Here is a link to the current 2003 OVSS standings provided by Steve Siebenaler.

The top five pilots on Saturday were:

  1. Tom Kallevang
  2. Mike Remus
  3. Barry Andersen
  4. Jack Strother
  5. Karl Miller

The top five pilots on Sunday were:

  1. Tom Kallevang (Weekend Overall Champion)
  2. Martin Doney
  3. Barry Andersen
  4. David McCarthy
  5. Richard Burnoski

I've put together a little slide show below with pictures of all the winners!

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Permanent link to archive for 23/06/03.Mon, 23 June 2003

Last Friday, June 20th, was a practice day for the SOAR Fred contest, but some of us planned to do some LSF tasks that day because there was going to be a good group of guys in town.  The original plan was to get Capn' Jack his 10 K goal an return so he could finish his last LSF task and become a level V.  Jack took two attempts on Friday, one with his ICON that made it half way through the course, and one with an Aquila XL, that he flew for about two hours on course, and painfully came up about 1.5 miles short. 

Barry Andersen, Steve Meyer and I all completed the LSF level IV goal and returns, and we all graduated to level IV on the same day.  The LSF level IV goal and return task is 2 kilometers in distance, you can just about get it done from one decent speck out, and being careful on course.  I logged my entire flight with the ALTi2, and you will see that is exactly what I did.  I finished comfortably at over 1200 feet, and landed directly afterwards.

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ALTi2 Chart of my LSF Level IV Goal and Return

Barry also had to complete a one hour thermal duration flight on that day too to get level IV, we all helped him achieve that task as well.

Holding my completed LSF IV form

These LSF tasks are all about getting together with pilots, and helping each other coordinating the tasks.  We had a large group of guys out there in support of this, and I want to thank all of you and special thanks to Jim McCarthy and Tom Kallevang, both level V pilots who took me on the X/C course today and helped me knock that task down with style.  I topped out at 2,430.8 feet in altitude during that task.

On Saturday Jim Deck, the current secretary of the LSF drove up to the SOAR Fred Fredrickson memorial contest and presented all three of us our level V packets so we could start working on those tasks, and in doing so, graduated all three of us to level IV that day.  This day will definitely hold some special memories for me.

Permanent link to archive for 18/06/03.Wed, 18 June 2003

Yesterday there were 1060 different visitors to this web site that looked at one or more pages.  That's a pretty good day for this site, I usually get several hundred visitors a day.

Lots of people looking at last years Nats pictures, probably thinking about this years event.  Here's a little news on that end, Bob Hunt, the editor of Model Aviation magazine  invited me to do the Nats R/C Soaring Column again this year, and I accepted.  I will be a photographer as well, so expect another gallery of the weeks event.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my web site.

Permanent link to archive for 14/06/03.Sat, 14 June 2003

I have owned the Alti at (1.0sec, 2.0sec sample rate), the LoLo at (0.1sec, 1.0sec sample rate) and now the new Alti2 (0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 6.0sec sample rate).  All of these devices are great and have taught me much, but the new Alti2 and software just makes it more convenient and easier.  Sheldon at YNT uDesign has hooked me up with all these electronic devices, he is a distributor for the Alti2, check out his web site for all the cool stuff he sells. 

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The Alti2 I ordered from YNT uDesign

The Alti2 comes with an interface cable, and the new software that doesn't require Excel.  I don't have Excel on my small notebook computer, but now with this custom software I can install it on a computer I can take to the field.  This now allows me to have instant feedback between flights, a huge difference.

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ICON lite with Alti2 interfaced to a Sony VAIO notebook computer via a USB serial adaptor

Installing the Alti2 is easy, just plug it in to an empty servo connection on your receiver.  It is so small, I just push it down the ballast tube on my ICON.  One of the nice things about the Alti2 is that is can be controlled from the TX, you can start it out of stand by mode, you can place markers in flight on the log, and you can stop recording in flight.

Out at Hampshire field today we were restringing and testing winches for the big SOAR contest next weekend.  Although the lines were not set out too long, we were launching at high tension to test the line so we were getting all of what we had in the wind. 

I took this opportunity to put my new Alti2 to a field test.  It was a windy day in Chicagoland, so I wanted to do some launch comparisons with my ICON by using a F3B wing and a F3J lite wing on the same model, and doing several launches.  I wanted to see if sampling at 0.1 second intervals would have enough resolution to profile the launch / ping / zoom of a competition launch.  After the first flight, we downloaded the data into the new software which seems quicker, and it was clear that this was going to be good.  Interesting enough, I was not the only one with a Alti2 out, Sneidley had one in his NYX and was stopping by between flights to download his logs. We instantly started having an informal launch height contest. I posted long ago on RCSE about the idea of a future contest format that will involve just logging flight data instead of using a stop watch to measure our flights.  I am sure this will happen one day.

Back home this evening analyzing the days data, this new software is really interesting.  Much easier to use than the Excel macros, and so many new features.  I like the ability to overlay different flights for comparison, and the flexibility to zoom in on graph data.  Below are screen shots of the new Alti Logger software, the graph on the left is the entire flight data, while the graph on the right is a zoomed in portion of the data that just represents the launch.  I chose four flights to view in these graphs from the treeview on the left of the screen, this is an easy way to navigate and data mine the logger data. Two good launches on the F3B wing and two on the F3J lite wing.  I wish I could say I had more flight time on the F3B wing, but it was only my second day with it so my launches are no where near as smooth as with using the F3J lite wing.  For instance, the B wing launch that is represented by the green line went way too deep in the bucket, but resulted in a high launch.

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It is very clear that you can see the entire launch profile on the graph on the right, (you can click on these graphs to enlarge them).  Which wing did you think was going to have a launch advantage?  Without a way to measure you may never know, I like the ability to have quantitative results.

Permanent link to archive for 11/06/03.Wed, 11 June 2003

Recently I asked Don Peters of Maple Leaf Design to build me an ICON Lite better than the green one I currently own, if that was even possible.  The model I have now is awesome, contest hard and proven.  I fly it all the time just for fun, and have completed many LSF tasks with it as well.   It would be hard to make something better, but lighter would be nice for all that Rocky Mtn. soaring I will be doing later this season.  Incredibly, he out did himself...  there is a good chance this model will end up sub 70 oz's. after the build.

If you have ever opened a box from Maple Leaf Design you know the feeling.  An old Supertramp song came on the radio in the hangar as I started removing pieces from the carefully packed box, ah the smell of a model fresh out of the molds.  Directly to checking out the wing tips, then the fuse, I kid you not, I got chills from inspecting this model.  I've received several new ICON's before this one, so it is easy for me to get more critical than excited this time around.  But this is the best one I have seen yet, it is so stiff and light.

Many of you have commented how sexy my color scheme is on my current model so I had the new one painted the same.  It going to be hard to tell which one or combination I am flying, and oh yeah, I have the thinner F3B wing in the same color scheme too.  This is the first ICON I have owned where the rudder is not taped on to the fuse, there is an internal hinge, it is very clean looking.  (That might make it a Mk II, Paul...   )

Permanent link to archive for 08/06/03.Sun, 08 June 2003

Contest Report - LOFT Bob Steele Memorial 2003 - OVSS #2 (Saturday)

I had a long week which I have been finishing up a major software project, the midnight oil had been spent and Friday at 5pm one of my companies servers went haywire, the work week just wouldn't end.  I solved the problem at about midnight and tried to get a few hours sleep.  TK was picking me up at 5am and we were going to do a one day trip to Ft. Wayne, Indiana for some contest flying.  It turned out TK had a tough week too, but nothing was going to stop us from getting a second OVSS series contest in the bag.  The 3.5 hour drive was uneventful and we arrived in plenty of time, the LOFT field is very easy to find.  The weather was just gorgeous, and the prevailing winds allowed them to set up 6 winches in the longest direction on their field, so the lines were long.

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Pilots meeting

The contest format was seeded MoM flown on 5 winches with one back up winch, all with a generator backed batteries, so there was no winch fade all day.  The tasks were 10, 12, 12, 12, an 14 on a 100 point landing tape, expert and sportsman classes flying together but scored separately, otherwise normal rules but the LOFT guys just like the SOAR guys allow model changing.  In other words, this is a contest format I really enjoy.

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SOAR club members Ben Roberto, Karl Miller and Tom Kallevang chill in the pits between rounds

Round one was fairly routine, although I do remember Ben Roberto working a bit harder than anyone else in that round, he had some nice patience and slowly worked himself out of a bad situation to a max.  Karl Miller flew his new Eraser Xtreme in a somewhat difficult round for himself, but went back to his Victory C for the remainder of the contest, which proved to be a good move for him.  In round two I was in the last group with the big boys, and we got handed some very interesting conditions.  Richard, Ben Roberto, Mike Remus, TK, Don Harris and I flew into absolute smeg air after all the previous flight groups had easily maxed.  The guys in that group all tend to fly their own air, so no one covered anybody at launch and everyone went there own way.  Siebenaler was calling for me, information was coming at me fast... guys in every quadrant of the sky, and everyone was getting hammered, and Sieb had lost sight of Richard.  I don't think Richard had a very good launch, and took a very direct route over the road to the left of the winch lines.  I played a strategy to fly a upwind treeline that paid off for me in round one, only to just get hammered on the way out and back, Ben was working some buoyant air over the field so I floated over to try use some of it, hardly enough to do anything, but better than nothing.  We flew opposing circles in this light air with our big ICON's, I don't think either of us wanted to change direction because of the energy and height loss we would suffer for the effort, so we dealt with it.  I've flown with Ben before, I knew he would fly smooth and we could cooperate.  Mike, TK and Don had landed, and Sieb finally picked up Richard coming back to the field low.  His entire flight must have been at extremely low altitude.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Richard's Space Pro limbo between a stack of power lines that edged the field, successfully.  Couldn't dwell on that, had to concentrate on the air.  I thought I felt the air feed to the back of the field, so I separated from Ben and circled back to the tree line.  That didn't play out for more than 20 or 30 seconds and I bailed and shot a landing.  Ben won that round with a 5:21, but left some on the table because his stretch left him in a bad position to get a landing which he didn't make.  All that happened so fast, and every second is so important...  I wish I had been a little more patient and stuck with Ben.  Needless to say, that scattered the flight groups.

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Will Sears launches as Ben Roberto executes the zoom on his launch

Round three sets me back two flight groups, to fly against three of the guys that were just in the top group with me last round.  I am thinking to myself, man is this a tough group of pilots to be two groups back, and I need to get back into this contest with a max and a landing.  And we all did in that flight group, but the group ahead of us got a nasty cycle of air which scattered a bunch of us again for round 4.  In round 5 I moved forward one flight group, but did not max (nor did anyone in my flight group, but I did not win the group either and dropped valuable time), another cycle of smeg air and I did not get up and away.

Marty's X tail Hera alongside Cliff, TK and my ICON

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Karl Miller, Marc Gellart, Richard Burnoski, Tom Kallevang and Steve Siebenaler casually chat and watch the current group of models flying

In round 6 I got to fly with the Team JR guys with 14 minutes of all you could eat air, we all specked out, chatted and finished the contest right.  I remember hitting 14:00 straight up with a 95 landing, and I was happy with a strong finish.

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Bill Friend and his highly modified Sailaire.  Notice that he flies with a vario.

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An inflight picture of Bill's Sailaire

The contest flow was exceptional, Will Sears had the scoring under control and there never seemed to be a pause between rounds.  The LOFT guys brought out a gas grill and a cooler, cooked up hot dogs and provided ice cold beverages for a lunch donation.  Smiles were abundant and everyone was having a real good time.

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Martin Doney prepares for his next flight

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Bob Steele's son presents Karl Miller with the first place trophy on Saturday

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Saturday's winners.  Left to Right, Richard Burnoski 3rd, Marc Gellart 2nd, Karl Miller 1st Expert.  Shannon Uhl 1st, Greg Prater 2nd, and John Gospodarek 3rd in Sportsman.

As I have previously mentioned, the LOFT club was all over the details of this contest, and already have the official results online here.  Impressive, this is just hours after the contest was finished.

Permanent link to archive for 03/06/03.Tue, 03 June 2003

Steve Meyer told me he put up some maps to the upcoming 6th Annual Fred Fredrickson Memorial Contest, OVSS #3.  Here is a link to the maps.

Permanent link to archive for 28/05/03.Wed, 28 May 2003

Dynamic Soaring is probably one of the most fascinating forms of r/c soaring.  I actually got a taste of it for a few days at the legendary Parker Mtn. where Joe Wurts introduced the soaring community to this technique.  It's very addicting, you just want to minutely adjust your circles to go a little faster, it always seems like there is more there.

There are some guys that are really going fast now, and the 200 mph limit has just been broken by a few guys last weekend.  A new record has been set by Dave Reese taking it to 206.6 mph.  Want to see what 206.6 mph looks like on an r/c glider? (remember, no engine on this model for you non-modelers, it's a glider, and no, the video is not speeded up.)

Permanent link to archive for 27/05/03.Tue, 27 May 2003

Tom Kallevang just sent me the updated 6th annual Fred Fredrickson Memorial Contest document with directions and hotel information.  

Mark your calendars and update your PDA's, this contest is to be held on June 21 - 22.  If you have ever considered traveling to Chicago to go to a classic SOAR club contest, this is the one, you don't want to miss it.  This year we will be flying from the same facility and field that we used to host the F3J team selections a couple of years ago in Crystal Lake.  It's a great place to fly, and easy to get to.  The format is seeded man on man, no skegs on a FAI landing tape, model changing is permitted and you can count on long task times.  This contest is also on the OVSS series, and draws the best pilots from across the Midwest.

Permanent link to archive for 21/05/03.Wed, 21 May 2003

Contest Report - CSS Memorial 2003 - OVSS #1

Rae, Tom Kallevang and I took off last Friday and drove to Cincinnati to see our friends and stay with the Strothers.  Soon after arriving Karen Strother had reservations made at a fine steak restaurant in the city, and we drank and dined for hours in our own booth, it was a very relaxing way to end the week and unwind after the drive.

We woke up Saturday morning to light rain, but we packed up and made it out to the Voice Of America (VOA) field.  The VOA field is an old long wave transmission base which apparently at one time was a immense jungle of large antennae.  The antennae are now gone, and there is a huge piece of property the government now lets the general public use.  The CSS guys had a good setup out, and the turnout was exceptional considering it was still raining, like 30 guys or so.  It was fun catching up with friends, but the rain continued.  Steve Siebenaler was the CD on Saturday, and he called a pilots meeting in the light rain and asked everyone to sign up and get ready if the rain stopped we would go.  Even though the first round in seeded MoM is random, I just had this gut feeling I would be up in the first group.  As predicted, I was and I put together my lime green ICON in the light rain.  TK still hadn't built a model, and Team JR pulled the plug and left for the weekend, they decided not to fly.  The first group was called up, I finished gulping a Red Bull and was checking out the treelines upwind, ready to contest on this new field.  I was working through my first flight in my head, neck strap on, ready to go, and then they called off the contest for Saturday.  I took a towel to my ICON and quickly put it away with TK as he chuckled at me, his ICON was bone dry.  At least 4 other pilots walked out to the winches and launched and flew in the light rain.  I would have gone if the group went out to contest, but in retrospect it was the right thing to call it off on Saturday, it was not going to be a fun day.

So we made our own fun on Saturday, and went out to Dave & Busters and had food, drinks and games.  I know they have been around for awhile but I have never gone to one before, it wasn't what I expected, we had fun.  I even got Rae and Karen to try racing on the ski machines!  Before we knew it we had to get back to Jack and Karen's for a small party they were having.  Joe Dirr had some ribs cooking all day long, and his rice and beans were just awesome.  The gals made up a great salad.  Marty and Reece did up some huge T-bones on the grill, and Sieb came over with a beer cooler recharge.  We snuck a surprise birthday cake on Jack, the guys got him a cake with a plane crashed in it, really cool!  Oh, and the Strother sphere of margs, ever so dangerous.  The one thing I learned that evening was nothing gets Marty fired up more than to consume a bottle of Jack, hit the sphere pretty good, and then talk about the Nats landing zones.  Heh Heh Heh...  Many opinionated pilots pontificating and debating that evening, sometimes the discussions were heated, it was great.  The rain continued and we all wished it would stop.

Sunday morning and the rain had stopped by Jack's house.  The weather forecasts were constantly changing, the only way to tell what the weather was going to be like was to go up to the field.  No rain at the field, but less guys compared to Saturdays turnout.  I guess many pilots probably thought that Sunday would be a rain out too, but it actually turned out to be good contest weather, i.e. challenging.  Today, John Measamer was our CD, and we flew a seeded MoM format, on a standard 100 point AMA tape.  There were six rounds flown, the task times were 7, 9, 11, 11, 11, and 13.  That's 62 minutes of total flight time folks, I'm fairly impressed when a contest can pull off over an hour of flight time for the day. 

Through the first three rounds, Siebenaler held on tight to first place.  I mentioned to him it would be fitting that he would win on a day that doesn't have enough pilots for a level V contest.  But in the third round, Cliff Bryan flying his new ICON light, buried group 1, took the lead and received a round of applause from the pits after he landed.  In round four I slipped by Cliff into first place and stayed there for the rest of the day flying my trusty green meanie ICON light.  I would like to see the official final scores, there was a lot of good flying going on, and a few hero or zero moves that went either way to promote all the shuffling of the pilots scores.

Below are just a few of the pictures I snapped on Sunday, you can click on them to enlarge them.

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CD John Measamer in front of a flock of models ready to contest 

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Everybody has a landing stance, this is Marc Gellart's  

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Jerry Shape's Fusion ready to strike the tape, Don Harris' Mantis on approach in the background   

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Tom Kallevang accepts the 5th place wood, was in the third group in the previous round!   

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Capn' Jack was swept off his feet to accept 4th place wood   

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Barry Andersen displays 3rd place wood, the only guy in the top five not flying an ICON   

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Cliff Bryan displays 2nd place wood, flew a brand new naked yellow ICON lite   

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CD's John Measamer and Steve Siebenaler present the first place trophy to me   

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Post contest toast with Capn' Jack and TK at the high-life lodge (Jack's shop)  

Permanent link to archive for 20/05/03.Tue, 20 May 2003

Back from a fun packed weekend in Cincinnati.  Trying to catch up on everything but I will post a contest report here soon with pictures.

Since both the SOAR club web site and RCSE seem to be down at the moment, I'll announce the 6th annual Fred Fredrickson Memorial contest to be held on June 21 - 22 from my web site for right now.  If you have ever considered traveling to Chicago to go to a classic SOAR club contest, this is the one, you don't want to miss it.  This year we will be flying from the same facility and field that we used to host the F3J team selections a couple of years ago in Crystal Lake.  It's a great place to fly, and easy to get to.  The format is seeded man on man, no skegs on a FAI landing tape, model changing is permitted and you can count on long task times.  This contest is also on the OVSS series, and draws the best pilots from across the Midwest.

Permanent link to archive for 14/05/03.Wed, 14 May 2003

Don Harris, Mike Remus, Karl Miller, Paul Siegel and Jim Bacus, what do these guys all have in common?  They all like to contest r/c sailplanes and have all had a chance to display the Ohio Valley Soaring Series (OVSS) season champion perpetual glass eagle in their trophy displays for an entire year.  I am currently enjoying this privilege at the moment, and it is on display in the Bacus household.  The picture below shows the 2002 season wood pile leading to the glass eagle, and my two "Wood Tools". 

OVSS Champions Click to enlarge the picture

  • 1998 - Don Harris
  • 1999 - Mike Remus
  • 2000 - Karl Miller
  • 2001 - Paul Siegel
  • 2002 - Jim Bacus

What else do these guys have in common?  They were all in the top 10 in the OVSS standings for 2002.  And none of them have been able to pull off the championship twice, yet...

And there are still some very good midwest pilots that have been in the running for many seasons now, just look closely how tight those season total scores are.  You probably see a wider point spread at a single local club contest, and this was a best of four out of seven series contest.  That's a lot of rounds of flying, on a lot of different terrain, and in a variety of weather conditions.

The OVSS is intense, yet probably the most fun contests I participate in during the season.  Most of the contests in the series are in Man on Man (MoM) format, many are seeded MoM, my favorite.  The pilots that fly in this series enjoy that format, and are very good at it.  MoM means we launch and fly a group of guys at the same time, in the same air.  Seeded MoM means the best fly against the best after the first round.  This leads to some very strategic flying, and it also means that it mixes up timing partners, which is great for the learning curve of upcoming pilots, and sharing techniques. 

I have been flying in the OVSS since it began, I really didn't know what it was about in '98, but I was sure having a great time meeting all the nice people I can call friends today.  Marc Gellart is the guy responsible for organizing the OVSS, and he has done a great job growing it into what it is today.  Over the past five seasons, I have seen the rules get refined in the seeded MoM contest format by the guys who really fly in these contests, and not at just one club, but by clubs over several midwestern states.  I have seen the popularity of this format rise each season, and there are so many reasons.  It's fun and about the fairest format then can be created within the reasonable parameters we have to contest with.  And when I say fun, I mean the entire package.  This format is as much fun to fly in as it is to be a spectator.  Watching guys fly against each other is entertaining, it's usually pretty easy to see who wins each group (like a mini-contest in it's own right), and the cheering/howling from the pits can be loud and funny!  It can stack the best pilots from around the midwest against each other, flying some of the latest hardware head to head.  It can stack a group of sport flying friends together, where a guy with the right moves will bury a bunch of moldies with gentle lady.  Everyone who has flown this circuit over the years has improved and honed their skills to new heights, each year offers tougher competition, and tighter results as the season progresses.  Last season the championship was decided in the last contest, and I will predict here today that it will be the same for this season, but perhaps between 3 or 4 pilots.

Next weekend starts the 2003 OVSS series in Cincinnati, I am ready and I look forward to it.


Permanent link to archive for 11/05/03.Sun, 11 May 2003

I have just been chillin' around the house this weekend, taking it easy and fixing little things.  The storms moving through my area have been amazing, borderline scary!  I had another large tree in my yard blown over by the wind, the second in just a couple of weeks.  That took some time to clean up, I am hoping I can keep the rest of my trees.

Reflecting on the last two weeks, work has been very interesting, so much so that I haven't taken much personal time at all.  It's been exciting, it seems like each day someone comes up with something new or an enhancement that allows new direction or vision.  The new team is starting to leverage projects/products and mesh together.  We have recently implemented software that is taking our slide scanning to new levels of speed and quality.  I saw the BLISS last Thursday scan tissue micro array slides (TMA) faster than I have ever seen before, with outstanding image quality.  It easily beats a threshold I have been looking to obtain for years.  Time for a new threshold, and I have new ideas.

Permanent link to archive for 07/05/03.Wed, 07 May 2003

I just read this when I got home from the office this evening, and I really enjoyed it.  It's an oldie but a goodie.  Dave Winer is on my blog roll on the left, known as Scripting News, and I enjoy reading what he writes.  Not only do programmers have a very precise understanding of the truth, so do good competition r/c sailplane pilots.

Well, I am trying out CityDesk Beta 2.0.1, this is one of the main tools I use to update this site.  So far so good...

Permanent link to archive for 05/05/03.Mon, 05 May 2003

Six months ago I started a web log on my personal web site, otherwise known as a weblog or blog.  I've had personal web site for years, but it seems everyone has a blog these days.  I've found that it really makes for a nice format for sharing info in a time line fashion.  And using the right tools, it's easy to do.  I wish I had more time to write about what I do at work, but I am usually too busy working on it!  So I blog on the weekends, which is also the only chance I get to soar my r/c models and take photographs.

Also, I have about 6 months on my 20 GB generation 2 iPod.  It currently has 1142 songs on it, or over 3 days of continuous music taking up 6 GB of storage.  I still have so many CD's in my personal collection to rip onto the Mac, it just takes time.

Are there any parallels between iPod usage and blogging?  Probably, it seems that everybody who has a blog has an iPod too, or wants one.

Permanent link to archive for 03/05/03.Sat, 03 May 2003

Spring time at Hampshire Field and all the new models are out being tested.  Ever see a NYX, ICON lite, Artemis X tail, Eraser Xtrem, Eraser V, and Tragi 705's in the same picture? 
Spring time brings out the new models
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With all these wicked models in the pits I had to snap a few pictures, let alone get my hands on the sticks.  McCarthy was letting TK and I sample his new toys, and they were flying sweet.  And we did a lot of flying today, nobody was in a rush to leave and the air was incredibly good.  I tapped the battery down in my ICON to a point where I won't fly it anymore, and that is close to two hours. 

Four by SOAR
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Instead of charging I just built the Dorker and flew it for awhile, and this doesn't count the time we put on McCarthy's models.

I shot landings on my LSF cap on every arrival (well, except for those hand catches...  8-) ).  Although I pierced the hat once, I am still rusty and need to practice more.  The first contest in the OVSS series, the CSS Memorial is in just two weeks and I know the turnout just from the SOAR club is going to be strong.


This is the second season for my green ICON lite,

The Mean Green Machine
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I have over 35 hours on it as of today.  It should have "Wood Tool" wing art on it because it has certainly been a virtual chain saw in my hands.  With over 70 hours on my yellow F3J ICON, I have accumulated well over 100 hours of flying time on the ICON model now.  Although I would love to own every model in the above two pictures, I am still on the game plan of flying the same model all the time these days.


Permanent link to archive for 01/05/03.Thu, 01 May 2003

The era of CRT computer monitors is over, I've pronounced it dead.

I no longer use CRT screens, and my eyes feel so much better now.  I am very picky about monitors, I work daily with virtual microscopy and when the computer becomes your microscope, the computer monitor becomes your binocs (eyepieces).  The LCD screens with DVI have surpassed the performance of CRT's by a good margin these days.  My main workstations at home and the office use ViewSonic 21" ViewPanel VP201m running at 1600 x 1200 native pixels interfaced to my PC with DVI.  These monitors produce gorgeous images, and have a quick enough refresh to handle live video in a window that our microscope slide scanner the BLISS produces.  I guess I've seen live video from my WebCam application at home too.  My media and hot game machine has a Hitachi 17" CML 174SXW running at 1280 x 1024 native pixels also using DVI to that PC.  This monitor is also spectacular, what it lacks in resolution it makes up for in refresh rates that handle the most demanding 3D simulations and games available.  I also have a TV tuner board in this computer, and watching cable TV in a window is sweet on this system.  My iMac has a wide 1440 x 990 native pixel LCD display that is mounted on a very convenient arm.  This is a very comfortable monitor to look at and use.  Finally my small Sony VAIO notebook has a 12" 1024 x 768 native pixel display that is also very nice to look at and use.

I have and work on a lot of computers, and as of about two months ago I have used nothing but LCD monitors with DVI.  I've noticed a positive difference, my eyes feel so much better now, so much less daily eye strain.  And I had some really nice low emission CRT monitors.

Anytime I look at CRT screen it appears to be so fuzzy, I don't know how anyone can stand to use them anymore.

The era of television CRT screens is close to death as well...

Permanent link to archive for 30/04/03.Wed, 30 April 2003

I downloaded iTunes 4 and the iPod 1.3 and QuickTime 6.2 software updates yesterday, but I didn't get a chance until this evening to try out the new iTunes Music Store.  I have to admit, I like it.  There are definitely many one and two song albums that I would rather just buy the one or two songs individually.  I have created an account with Apple and I have bought 4 songs to date.  Each song is 99 cents, but you can buy the entire album as well.  You are allowed a 30 second preview of the song, and after your account is setup buying a song is basically a one click affair.  The music downloads directly into iTunes, and syncs painlessly onto the iPod.  You also get the album cover art, a nice touch.  The search engine interface seemed straight forward, I easily found the music I was looking for if they had it in their library.  The top download lists are interesting to shop as well.  The music selection seems wide, but there are certainly some gaps.  For instance, you might think a company named Apple might have a better selection of the Beatles music.  If this gets popular I am sure those gaps will get filled quite quickly.

Apple also released a new iPod design in parallel with the Music Store business.  The last time I was talking to the designer my company uses for instrument enclosures and cases, we were discussing the iPod I was showing off.  The first thing out of his mouth was that he would round off the edge around the face, I said I liked the hard edge because it gave me something to grip on to.  Well, he called it, Apple rounded the edge off on these new designs.  I like the button setup on the classic iPod (which don't need to be illuminated because their position can easily be found around the dial), but I can't wait to see how the illuminated buttons on the new one look.  I am envious of the docking station, that is the way it should have been in the first place.  However I can't imagine trading in my 20 GB iPod anytime soon.  Especially since I am supposed to get one of these later today.

Permanent link to archive for 29/04/03.Tue, 29 April 2003

What a nice weekend to be outside in Chicago land.  I managed to get out and do a little soaring on both Saturday up at Hampshire Field and Sunday out at Central Sod farm, in fact on Sunday the SOAR club had its first club contest of the season. 
My two favorite composite ships to fly
My two favorite composite ships to fly - Click to Enlarge

The weather was about mid 70's 12-18 mph winds.

Robin Meeks, current club president CD'ed the contest, and asked for a club vote before the contest... open winch or seeded man on man?  Overwhelming majority vote for man on man.  We had 4 winches out, and were doing 10 minute rounds all day on a 6' in or out tape for 25 points, fly anything you bring.  Interesting side fact, the top 5 or 6 guys were not using skegs, although they were permitted.  Just something I noticed, nobody discussed it.  This is getting to be a very popular contest format in Chicago, and great practice for the upcoming OVSS season.

A subtle Windy City ground marker of thermal activity
A subtle Windy City ground marker of thermal activity - Click to Enlarge
After a long winter like we had this year I thought some of the guys might be a bit rusty, but Richard Burnoski (Space Pro's) and Jim McCarthy (NYX) were putting on a freekin' show this early in the year, and with the wind.  Bill Wingstedt (Tragi), Tom Tock (Escape) and Karl Miller (Eraser) were flying a very good contest as well.  I worked with McCarthy most of the day, we both flew un ballasted in the very low 70 oz range.  Jimbo had that NYX flying right, it really retained energy in the wind for such a light model.  I was able to work upwind with ICON farther than most without any ballast, and this was one of my light ships!  Good experiment to fly this model in the wind, I was going to fly my heavier yellow one.  I really need to try the matching F3B wing for this model in the wind.  In retrospect, I had my moments in this contest, but was not as smooth and aggressive as I would have liked to have flown.  I'm knocking the cob web's out from the long winter and it was a fun day for sure.

At the end of the day Karl and I were fun flying in the strong thermals and wind, and I challenged him to a first down contest from about 1000'. 
Karl Miller
Karl Miller - Click to Enlarge
I went directly vertical and pulled out at about 20' foot at the edge of the sod field, green ICON full head of steam.  From across the field McCarthy yelled LOOP, and I pulled the stick into my gut.  I have to say I pulled the lowest, fastest and tightest loop I have ever pulled with any model...  8-)  it was quite cool, and a bit surprising. 

Oh ya, I landed first too.

Two days of flying in row, and a MoM contest to boot, life is good...

Permanent link to archive for 20/04/03.Sun, 20 April 2003

I've added a long overdue blogroll on the left.  I haven't included every blog or news feed that I aggregate daily, but the ones I have included I like to read on a frequent basis.

Permanent link to archive for 19/04/03.Sat, 19 April 2003

The private sector is getting closer and closer to space travel.  Burt Rutan just unveiled SpaceShipOne, launched from an airborne platform.  John Carmack of id Software (Doom and Quake first person shooter games) is working towards the X Prize goal as well at Armadillo Aerospace.

I think this is exciting, small teams of bright people on tight budgets often create incredible things.  The other reason I think this is exciting is that I will see this happen in my lifetime.

Permanent link to archive for 17/04/03.Thu, 17 April 2003

The screen suddenly fades to dark and a strange white message box appears, at the same time the mouse and keyboard become unresponsive. Is this a BSOD on Mac OS X?  Have you ever done this to your Mac?

Click to enlarge
BSOD on Mac OS X - Click to enlarge
  I am a prolific software developer and I have crashed some of the best operating systems around, never on purpose.  I had to take a picture of it, I have only done this once, it is such a rare event on OS X.

Does anyone remember the days of rebooting slow PC-AT systems every debug cycle on 16 bit Windows after yet another crash? ugh. 

Things are much better these days.

(Early the next day I read that you don't BSOD OS X, you "kernel panic" it.  And that kernel panic is fairly common with recent OS X 10.2.5 upgrade, as a bug in the USB system has just been verified that interferes with some USB hubs.)

Permanent link to archive for 13/04/03.Sun, 13 April 2003

First soaring session of the year today, it's been a long gray winter.  We had significant snow on the ground just last Monday, but the weather is starting to feel more like spring now.  Today it was in the mid 60's with 12-15mph winds.  I had the Vette packed and ready to go Saturday night, SchpotDorker Lite, ICON Lite, my TX case and toolbox, and a hosemonster bungee.  This morning arrived, only a few business issues to resolve via e-mail and I was on the Red Bull express for Hampshire field, the SOAR clubs north field. 

Hampshire Field, Spring 2003
Hampshire Field, Spring 2003
By the time I arrived, the rest of the gang was there, TK, Don Smith, Sneidley, George, Steve Meyer, Rick, and even a couple of new faces.  Steve and George were heading out to whirl XP-3's into the sky, and they were hooking up and taking 'em downwind.  No winch was up yet, so I took out the hosemonster bungee I bought from Mark Mech last year and finally got to use it, nice bungee!!!  I figured I would fly my old friend the SchpotDorker first, this is the same Dorker that Pat McCleave built for me what, going on 3 years ago now? 
My 57oz SchpotDorker Lite
My 57oz Schpot Dorker Lite
Still looks like brand new.  I was shooting the Dorker up with just full camber, the 12mph wind made it fun and zippy.  Hooked on my first ride and rode it downwind as far as I dared, then just kept coming back to this treeline to reacquire the next cycle, tricky but fun.  The Dorker was kind of light for the conditions being about 57oz, but I was making the best of it.  TK had brought his SchpotDorker to the field too, and after watching my first ride he went back to the van and assembled his.  He popped off on the bungee, but grabbed a little air off to the left and rode it out, too cool.  I launched again and we had a flight together patrolling for lift.  Meyer put down the DLG, and grabbed his SuperV, and shot up the bungee and rode one out as well.

I landed, took a break for some peppered beef jerky and a Red Bull, and I noticed the rest of the crew was assembling moldies.  Sneidley had enough of this watching stuff and was going to put a winch out.  I finished another piece of jerky and put the Dorker back in the jim bagg, it's ICON time!  I waited for all the guys who hadn't had a flight yet to get a winch launch, then I hooked up the green machine and pounded out a heavy metal high tension launch into the wind, over did it a bit but it's not like I am going to break this model.  Slapped off a zoom, and the ICON came to life...  I am so in touch with this model, every move is like instinct.  I walked out and flew with George and his Artemis for awhile, we patrolled and worked the spotty and fast moving Hampshire lift together for at least a 20-25 minute ride at one point in the day.

It's great to be back in the saddle again!

Permanent link to archive for 10/04/03.Thu, 10 April 2003

I think this is a European TV advertisement, I found it rather amusing.  This is an mpeg video, click here if you have the bandwidth.

Permanent link to archive for 09/04/03.Wed, 09 April 2003

My iPod now has 1000 songs on it, that is two days, seventeen hours, fifty five minutes and fifteen seconds of continuous music comprising 5.22 GB of storage.  I have a 20 GB iPod so I have plenty of room left for my large CD collection of music.  The album that pushed it over 1000 songs?  Rolling Stones Tattoo You.

Permanent link to archive for 05/04/03.Sat, 05 April 2003

Here is a link to Air Extreme, a gallery of extreme aviation pictures.

Permanent link to archive for 28/03/03.Fri, 28 March 2003

I've been working daily with video and digital cameras for many years, usually attached to a microscope, and as you can imagine I was an early adopter of digital photography.  I own a few digital cameras, I am a big fan of Sony products and the current camera that is always with me is a DSC-P9.  I was aggregating the web the other day and came across this page: Top Ten Digital Photography Tips.  Quite a nice collection of tips, I need to try out a few new things with my camera.


Permanent link to archive for 23/03/03.Sun, 23 March 2003

SOAR tents, AMA / LSF Nationals 2000
SOAR tents, AMA / LSF Nationals 2000

I found this photograph in my study last week while looking for something else.  Steve Meyer shot this photo and gave me a print, I really like it.  After finding it again, I decided to scan it so I could preserve it and share it.  This is an interesting picture because this is a very dedicated group of pilots that you will rarely see sharing the same scrap of shade together.  These kinds of things just happen at the Nats.  I know everyone in this picture, it was taken in Muncie, Indiana on the AMA flying fields.  Probably taken towards the end of the day, just before digging into the coolers for the ice cold "screamers".

From left to right:  Daryl Perkins (4 time world champion), Jim McCarthy (national champion and USA F3J team manager), Karl Miller (OVSS 2000 champion), Ron Kukral, Don Smith, David McCarthy (junior USA F3J team member), Steve "Sneidley" Schneider, Jim Bacus (OVSS 2002 champion, model in hand), Richard Burnoski (back to back F3J national champion), and Martin Doney from the middle of nowhere.

The model I am holding was an Agate, one of three in the states at the time, and only the second one left as Daryl had blown one of them up on launch.  I bought it second hand from someone on the west coast for more money than I had ever spent on a model before.  Was it worth it?  You bet, my first nationals trophy placing 5th in F3J.

Considering going to nationals this year?  click here

Permanent link to archive for 20/03/03.Thu, 20 March 2003

Here are the pictures of the new AVA RES model that everyone is looking for.  You may click on the images below to see a larger version.


Here is the recent post by Pat McCleave that brought this model to my attention:

From: <>
Subject: [RCSE] New AVA RES
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 11:40:30 -0500

Hi Guys,

I just received my new AVA RES from Kennedy Composites and Vladmir or Graphite and Organic Fame.  The Glider is an absolute work of art and weighs almost nothing.  Thanks to my brother Randy letting me in on this little secret, I was able to get one of the first few planes to come into the U.S. so I am not sure about how quick they are going to be readily available.  For more information you can contact Barry Kennedy at or by phone at 972-602-3144.  To be honest I am not sure of the span and area of the plane but it is in the 3M range and should weigh under 40 oz.  When I saw my first pictures of the plane I just knew I would have to have one.  I can say this much this ain't your dads old Gentle Lady.  I will give more reports as soon as the radio gear is installed and first flights are taken.

See Ya,

Pat McCleave

Wichita, KS

Permanent link to archive for 18/03/03.Tue, 18 March 2003

I acquired the domain name about 24 hours ago and piggy backed it to this web site.  I originally wanted both and but another Jim Bacus in Arizona owned that domain name already and was selling real estate off his web site, so I settled just with the .net domain name.  I have never met or talked to that other Jim Bacus in Arizona, but he let go of the domain name for reasons unknown to me.  Now I own both domain names ( and, and they both point to this web site.

Permanent link to archive for 17/03/03.Mon, 17 March 2003

Try your hand at Flight Club, a soaring simulator.  This is a very basic simulation, but it is entertaining in a simple sort of way.  I guess I got a bigger kick that it is presented as a Java applet, something I have a deep appreciation for lately.  I've played/tested it on the iMac and on Windows and it is virtually identical.  The author is developing this simulator as open source, and his source code is well documented.  Ok, I admit it, I found reading the source code more interesting than playing the simulation, but it was close.

Permanent link to archive for 06/03/03.Thu, 06 March 2003

The USA F3B Soaring Team has a new web site up at www.usaf3b.comThere is huge amount of talent on this team, visit the site and check out the team members bios.  Buy a T-Shirt and support them if you can.

Permanent link to archive for 22/02/03.Sat, 22 February 2003

I am just wrapping up a project I did in Java, and I am quite pleased with the results.  My company has been getting more and more requests to have a virtual microscopy viewer for the Mac or Linux platforms, so we decided to port our single pane ActiveX viewer user interface to a Java applet.  I usually work on Windows, but I figured for this project I would work on the Mac for a change of perspective and cross check with Linux, Solaris and Windows. Working on the Mac gave me a chance to evaluate the new OS X operating system, and it was a pleasant experience.  If any PC looks the part of a computer microscope, it's the iMac.

A fun thing about this project is that I can show it off here.  I am sure I will be the first person to embed a virtual microscope slide into a weblog...

Below is my new Java viewer displaying a microscope slide of a cross section of a mouse, the mouse is oriented with its back down and head to the left.  You will notice there is a thumbnail in the upper left hand of the window, that can be used to see an overview of where your current field of view is, and it can be used for navigation, i.e. just click where you want to view, preferably inside the green outline if you wish to see the upper four objective magnifications.  The main window can be scrolled around by the click-n-drag technique with the left mouse button.  Just clicking the left mouse button without moving the mouse will center that position in the field of view.  The right button on the mouse will display a pop up menu allowing magnification change amongst other options.  If you need some more help you can obtain it here.

This browser does not support Java applets!

If you would like to see some more virtual microscope slides, click here.

Permanent link to archive for 19/02/03.Wed, 19 February 2003

I was awarded my 12th patent today, an event that is always special to an inventor.

This patent is for Virtual Microscopy, which is the science of digitizing microscope slides at diagnostic resolution and saving them to a data set that can later be displayed on a typical personal computer running software that emulates the operation of a microscope.  Once a microscope slide is digitized, the common PC becomes the microscope.  This is a topic of great interest to me, and I have most likely been inventing and implementing ways to do this longer than anyone else.

Permanent link to archive for 16/02/03.Sun, 16 February 2003

We were getting nostalgic on RCSE last week, which prompted me to take a picture of my first R/C transmitter next to my current R/C transmitter. 

Milestone - my first R/C tx from the 70's next to my current tx.

The Kraft transmitter on the left is from the early 70's and could control 3 channels, basically all a sailplane needed in the 70's, control for rudder, elevator and spoilers.  The JR 10x transmitter on the right is a state of the art system with touch screen LCD display, computer controlled with a variety of ways of programming in mixes to the 9 channels it supports.  A modern full house R/C sailplane these days typically has six servos in it, controlling rudder, elevator, ailerons and flaps.  These surfaces are computer mixed for various applications and flight modes.

Permanent link to archive for 10/02/03.Mon, 10 February 2003

It is common when I discuss R/C Soaring to someone who is not that familiar with it, their first idea of it is typically of fragile hand built balsa wood models that fly slow because they have no engine.  Check out this 13.5mb video of a camera mounted on the wing of a modern composite hollow molded R/C sailplane.  Too much fun!

Permanent link to archive for 08/02/03.Sat, 08 February 2003

RSS Have you seen this little orange button on web sites lately?

What these are used for is something called Really Simple Syndication (RSS), an XML based format for content distribution.

What does this mean for you?  Using a certain type of news aggregator software one can monitor many web sites containing news or weblogs just for the latest headlines.  Usually this type of software works in concert with a web browser.

Some examples of this type of software are listed below

I happen to use NetNewsWire Lite on my widescreen iMac, I don't know much about the other software listed above.  NetNewsWire is interesting software, it has changed the way I use the Internet.

The next question you may ask, is there a directory where I can find interesting RSS feeds? has a large directory of available feeds.

As you can see, I have added RSS to my web site on the left.  It was something I just wanted to try out, and CityDesk made it extremely easy to do.  I just followed the directions on this web page, and tweaked the script a bit.  My current implementation automatically creates a RSS feed for the 10 most recent stories on my site everytime I publish in CityDesk, but the process is very flexible and could be implemented in many different ways.

Permanent link to archive for 20/01/03.Mon, 20 January 2003

While searching around the net this weekend I discovered that my dog Bear has a web page.  You just never know what you may find some days.

Permanent link to archive for 18/01/03.Sat, 18 January 2003

I have installed TuneCam on my site and placed a link to it on the left under Navigation, My TuneCam.  It is a cool little AppleScript that publishes the current state of iTunes on my iMac.  Since I am constantly in a state of digitizing and organizing my large collection of music onto my iPod, you will probably see a wide variety of music being played.

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