Archive for the ‘Travel Posts’ Category

Some shots at Toledo..

May 20, 2010

Last month I worked the Toledo Show as I’ve done for the last several years with Hobby People and Airtronics. Toledo is simply spectacular for RC Aircraft. If you have a passion for R/C you should go to Toledo at least once. Airtronics and Hobby People booths were simply packed all weekend. I gave two seminars, one on the basics of using 2.4GHz radios and one that was simply an info-mercial in-person for Airtronics. Team Member Mark Atwood every year gives a seminar on intro to programming computer radios. Each are well-attended by friendly modelers. GOT to love the midwest. Everyone is so friendly and polite and EXCITED about our hobby!

Here’s a link to my photo album with static shots of some of the display aircraft. These displays are ALWAYS beautiful!

Toledo Shots

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Air Force ONE

March 16, 2009
USA Flag on the Tail of Air Force One

USA Flag on the Tail of Air Force One

For my Father-in-Law’s Birthday, we all crammed in the family truckster and made the 1+ hour drive to Simi-Valley to the Ronald Reagan Library. My Father-in-Law is a Republican, liked the former President immensely (as did his mother).  So, it seemed like a good activity for the family.

Politics aside, the Ronald Reagan is famous and was involved in an amazing historical and interesting time in USA history including the end of the Cold War and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

Of course, I like aviation, so I was excited to see the Air Force One exhibit (my main motivation to saying yes to this trek). Indeed it’s impressive. The retired aircraft is on raised pedestals in a nice sized hanger that includes an open-to-the-sun, glass covered side.

Retired Air Force One from the Reagan Era

Retired Air Force One from the Reagan Era

The aircraft was very nicely restored inside and out and gave an interesting look at how the President used it. They would not allow me to take pictures inside, Sorry. It was interesting to see the avionics and communications display as well as the Presidential quarters and where the military officials kept and guarded “The Football” (the code name for the military strategies, documents, and all the launch codes for the Nuclear Arsenal.) Frankly, from my point of view, that’s a fair amount of scary stuff. I’m glad the Cold War is over. They’re plenty of other scary stuff but now at least the Russians and Their Nukes aren’t one of them.

Anyway, the aircraft is impressive. But after walking through it, you can see why they couldn’t wait to retire it and get a 747 wide-body. I know it’s a ton of money, but it’s OK with me that the President of these United States flies in a modern aircraft.  This 707 convert really was TINY inside comparatively. (Looks like a 737 inside!)

Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

Outside in the simulated Rose Garden, stood a monolith of Cold War Symbolism, a piece of the Berlin Wall. An ominous monolith symbolizing the fear as well as the ending of the Cold War.

Marine One at the Air Force One Display

Marine One at the Air Force One Display

The Library also housed a Retired Marine One Presidential Helicopter. This one had not only carried President Reagan and his family and advisers to the Air Force Base, but had been used to take him out of the country to visit Mexican diplomats. This is fairly uncommon as normally it’s only used domestically.

All of these items look bigger on TV!

I wasn’t allowed to take a picture of this either, but I’ve now seen, in person, an actual document of the Magna Carta. On temporary display at the Library, this document is on loan from the Lincoln Cathedral (not to be confused with President Lincoln, the Cathedral is a truly OLD cathedral in Licolnshire, England –  NOT in the USA 🙂 ). This is their comments about it from the Library:

Magna Carta Exhibit Opens:

• The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is pleased to announce the opening of its latest temporary exhibit, Magna Carta: The Essence of Democracy.

Opening January 23rd and running through June 20th, 2009, Magna Carta: The Essence of Democracy will explore why the 1215 Magna Carta is widely viewed as one of the most important documents in the history of our freedom and how it became the cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution. The highlight of this exhibit is the original 1215 Magna Carta, on loan from Lincoln Cathedral in Lincolnshire, England.

Regular admission rates apply to visit the Museum and the Magna Carta exhibit.

Bottom line is the library possibly borders on Ronald Reagan Worshipping, but the information in the Library is unusual, interesting, and tells an interesting story about our country. I couldn’t help but feel patriotic in the presence of Air Force One and a piece of the now fallen Berlin Wall. Interestingly enough, my children THOROUGHLY enjoyed it.  I know, this post doesn’t have much to do with Model Airplanes, but any chance to be around an actual Air Force One and Marine One is a good one for any aviation affecionado, R/C or Full Scale. And since I’m a fairly patriotic person, as far as I’m concerned, any chance to wave the flag is a good one. And bottom line – the Ronald Reagan Library is worth the visit, even if you’re not a Republican.

Factory Conditions

November 29, 2007

Since 1998 I have been traveling to Model Factories throughout China, Taiwan, and Viet Nam. I’ve heard of the horror stories about fabric sweatshops, child labor, factories that look like internment camps, and even here on WordPress there are articles about HORRIBLE conditions at factories around the world.

And even in the Hobby Industry, I’ve heard of modelers making snotty comments about having children build the models, etc…

So, ever since that first trip, I’ve looked at each factory, toured the facilities, and toured the facilities of factories near our own. There’s a few interesting things I found about OUR factories.

1. The working conditions are typically very clean, very safe, and always exceed the local and national standards. Some factories even have government employees inspecting the factories (much like Cal/OSHA) does looking for problems.

2. The factories typically work a standard 40 hour work week or they have a full month off for new year (Chinese Lunar New Year) in addition to all the regular holidays. The factories are ghost towns on their normal days off.

3. Workers are reworded for working at the factories for longer periods of time. Many factories pay 2-3 times the going local wage because painting, building models, covering, etc. is skilled labor. Not just anyone can do it.

4. The workers are making well above minimum wage, get room and board in many cases, have standard national health care, and are not forced to work. In fact many factories have trouble keeping employees because the factories are being built at such a fast rate product and job openings out perform available workers in many areas which drives pay rates UP, not down!

5. No Children work at our factories, PERIOD. It’s not legal there, it’s not moral, and none of the factories we work with would ever do something so horrible.

So when you hear alarmist stories, these are NOT the norm, these are NOT common, and they are NOT to be found anywhere in our hobby industry that I’ve ever seen.

This is a subject that has always bugged me. The factories we deal with are run by really nice people who simply would NEVER do these horrible things to another human being. EVER.

OK, I feel better. I’ve got that off my chest!

Mike 

Tombstone

November 8, 2007

The OK CorralTombstone AZ 1When you grow up in Orange County, CA, if you’re in a building that’s more than 50 years old, that’s “historic”. Huntington Beach High School is 100 Years old (most of the buildings aren’t anywhere near that old) so that’s about as historic as it gets around here….

 Maybe it’s why I like to travel. I’m a total geek when I travel (OK, MORE than normal…). I hear about people going on vacation and laying around for a week! For me, no way! Yes, it’s nice to slow the pace, get a little rest, but for me vacation is a chance to do new things and see stuff that’s more interesting than the HB Pier (not that there’s anything wrong with the pier…but…)

There’s nothing like standing in front of stuff that really did shape our history, and certainly a collective part of the American Psyche.. (sorry if this is rambling, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want…)

 I LOVE American Stuff!! This year I was able to take the family to Tombstone Arizona. Talk about cool! Walk on the same street where Virgil Earp walked, where Morgan Gambled, where the “whole thing went down” in the very place where the shoot out took place. The world thinks we’re all cowboys, maybe we are, but it took guts to live and operate in one of these settlements in the 1800’s.

Most of Tombstone has been recreated to sell stuff to tourists. (The town burnt down more than once, so yeah, the old buildings in many cases aren’t there anymore). What is there?

OK Corral has been modified but it’s a museum of sorts and shows you details you just wouldn’t see otherwise.

Another thing there that is mostly original except for some museum pieces is the old courthouse. It no longer operates but it’s all there. And in the back they even rebuilt the gallows (that were used so much less than people realize…really they weren’t hanging people right and left like they did in the movies!)

But maybe the coolest place was the most run-down…the Bird Cage Theatre is still there. Original parts. It’s the seedy side of town but just as important in many ways as the courthouse. And yes, there really are bullet holes in the stage where the Cowboys got drunk and shot at the actors. (talk about a rough gig).

Another thing many don’t know is that Tombstone is in the high desert. VERY HIGH. So, when its 110 in Tuscon, it’s 78 in Tombstone. It got COLD and is even cold in the summer with rain, thunderstorms, and cloud cover. In the winter, it snows and gets COLD. So those long coats were not just shown in the movie because Kurt Russel looks cool when he pretends to be Wyatt Earp when wearing a trenchcoat. That was Authentic garb for the local yocals. Self defense from the cold and the wind and the rain.

 Anyway, Tombstone feels like the middle of nowhere when you drive there (because it really kinda’ is) but man, is it fun road-trip that is rewarded with an AWESOME experience if you have any interest in westerns and the “real” old-west (I’m SURE it didn’t feel old to the people there!)

I posted a couple pics so you can see it. The photos suck (I can’t find the pics we took with the good camera) but they show you what it kinda’ looks like. If you go, do everything! Cemetery to the courthouse to ok corral to the Bird Cage. Take a stagecoach ride, enjoy the view. And take the time to read everything. You’ll be amazed at how much information is there, how must history happened right there in a 10 year period, and I think you might also be amazed at how enthusiastic and fun the locals are. It is a GREAT family destination. Just watch Tombstone before you go! (I’m your hackle-bearer…yes Doc Holiday said Hackle bearer, not Huckleberry in the movie Tombstone… but I digress…)

We’ve got 50 states in the GREAT nation. Go see them. There’s intersting history and remarkable people in every state in this great nation. It’s my plan to see as many of them as possible. Oh, and take a plane with you because there’s so many COOL places to fly!!!!

Cool stuff in Beijing

October 12, 2007

OK, Beijing is a GIANT city (more of its own state really..) But, each year we go to a tradeshow there for the hobby. (http://www.cmexpo.com.cn/index_e.asp)And, so I thought it would be fun to share a fun place or event from this great city! Most likely I’ll post stuff over time from the other cities I visit too. This job has me traveling a lot and frankly, it’s pretty fun!

OK, so my tip for today is about a really cool little restaurant. (OK, little makes it bigger than just about any restaurant in the USA, but small to medium sized by Chinese standards…)

It’s called:

Mansion Restaurant (Always such original names when translated to English!)

Tel: 88356687

http://www.bjdazhaimen.com

The restaurant has great food from Chinese food Westerners will like to real Chinese delicacies only the most experience Chinese palate can appreciate.

The COOL part about it is the live show that goes on while you eat. Contortionists, Martial Arts Demo’s, Traditional Chinese Music, Dance, Beijing Opera samplings, and more are all part of the act. And you don’t have to speak a word of Chinese to enjoy the entertainment.

We eat there at least once everytime we attend the show. It’s fun, exciting, the food is good, the service is good, and the show is great. Westerners, don’t be intimidated. You will be able to order without problem and on most nights, there’s at least one English speaker on the floor.

I love traveling to China (I’ve been doing so since 1998) and this restaurant is one of my all-time favorites!