Friday, August 26, 2011

Flight: 100 Years of Aviation

Next weekend the Annual Cleveland Air Show will be soaring in the skies again, and since I'm in an aviation mood because of's an excellent book to review....Flight : 100 Years of Aviation. Oh gosh, this is indeed a fabulous book! ( I have a weakness for loving finely printed books ) Dorling Kindersely teamed up with Smithsonian Institute to make this coffee table style compendium of the history of aviation, and they certainly did out-do themselves on covering this large topic. Over 450 pages of photographs of airplanes, aviation pioneers, and the engines behind these metal birds, are discussed in detail. Fascinating little sidebars also offer tidbit information about inventions, famous air races, technology, Hitler's rocket program, the Cold War space race and lots and lots more. If you can find this book at your library, take a look see!  Here's a peak at the inside....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Space Lattice - The Geodesic Dome of ASM International's World Headquarters

"The Space Lattice" of Materials Park

Set amid 44 acres of rolling lawns and pine trees along Ohio 87, in Geauga County stands the geodesic "Space Lattice" of ASM International's world headquarters. It's obscure rural location makes it hard for even locals to find, but if you catch a glipse of this iconic structure in passing from your car, don't be surprised if...brake! find yourself sreeching to a halt to stare in wonderment at this marvel of engineering.

Designed by R.Buckminster Fuller and built in 1959, this entirely aluminum dome looms above another architectural achievement in modern style - the ASM office complex ( which recently underwent a $7 million dollar resoration ) designed by Cleveland architect John Terence Kelly.

The American Society of Metals is one of the largest scientific societies of it's kind in the world, with 36,000 members. Officially, this building is not open to the public during normal working hours - when you can see some of the 80+ white-coated employees on the premises - but it's not unusual to find Sunday drivers stop by to have a picnic in it's gemstone lined garden....At least, that's where you'll find us when we head out to Geauga County.

ASM International, 9639 Kinsman Road ( Ohio 87 ) in Russell Township. Tours can be arranged by calling 440-338-5151 , ext. 5500

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Possibility of the Impossible

If those canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth - Mark ix. 23

So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
  So near is God to man,
When Duty whispers low, Thou must,
  The youth replies, I can.

                                               R. W Emerson

KNOW that "impossible", where truth and mercy and everlasting voice of nature order, has no place in the brave man's dictionary. That when all men have said "Impossible", and tumbled noisily elsewhither, and thou alone art left, then first thy time and possibility have come. It is for thee now : do thou that, and ask no man's counsel, but thy own only and God's. Brother, thou hast possibility in thee for much : the possibility of writing on the eternal skies the record of a heroic life.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

F11F Tiger.... Ready to Roar

Did I say that I didn't have a plastic model to assemble? Well, that no longer is the case!... My father brought home a F11F Tiger jet fighter this very morning for me to glue and stick together, and boy is it a beauty! The F11F was one of the first Navy fighters to fly at super sonic speeds and it was used for many years as the fighter jet of the Blue Angels.

The Tiger debuted in 1954 and could carry 8 sidewinders and fly up to speeds of 750 mph, so it was a vast improvement over the previous jets the Navy/Air Force were using. Since today is such a lovely day, I'll start spray painting the model tonight. And by the end of this week, this little dynamite model will be ready to blast off! ( Just in time for the upcoming Air Show too )

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Anchor's Aweigh!

Yes, it's time to set sail on the Buccaneer blog. Let's see now, where shall we begin on our warblings?..... The beginning is always a good place to start. As Maria Von Trapp so aptly put it , " Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start "....but I'd rather we pass on introductions and About Me's - it's much more interesting discovering things about each other over time. So I'll start at a different beginning :  the first thing that pops in my head. And matey, that happens to be on the topic of Naval Boardgames. Not the ideal topic to begin with, I agree, but nevertheless that's what me mind was a-thinkin' 'bout!

This morning my sister and I slept in late and stayed in bed watching " The Caine Mutiny " ( watching Navy pictures with breakfast on Saturday mornings is a favorite past-time of ours - one I doubt we'll ever outgrow ) and afterwards I felt like sitting out on our patio and putting together a plastic model of a carrier, or a destroyer, or even an Air Force fighter plane but alas! no unassembled models could be found i the house, and so we went to PLAN B - play Mission Command : Sea Game. And what a great backup plan that always is!

Mission Command : Sea , is a simple strategy game which was released by Milton Bradley in 2001. The object of the game is to destroy your opponent ( what else? ) and this is accomplished by either missiling their carrier twice or by elimating their aerial combat units...ahem....fighter jets.

What I really love about this game is that it is so simple to play and yet the strategy involved can become complex. Much like a game of chess. That's pretty much the only two ingredients to making an exciting and engaging game - simple rules and deep strategy, but unfortunately many game designers haven't grasped this bit of knowledge yet.

So in the field of naval wargames you have the extremely simple ones, aimed at a younger crowd ( notably, Battleship ) and the extremely difficult ones ( that last days on end ) aimed at the die-hard war gaming enthusiasts....and very little in between.

Mission Command : Sea Game is one of the few navy games on the market today that fall in that "in- between" catagory, and even this game isn't a product of modern ingenuity; Milton Bradley simply repackaged a line of war games from the 1970s ( Tank Battle and Carrier Strike ) and retitled them under the Mission Command series of games.

The board is pictorially pleasing with a computer generated print of an ocean and little plastic islands that players can place where they will along with their carrier and the pieces are well detailed too. The games are always swift ( a great boon ) and yet like I said earlier, have enough strategy involved in them to satisfy you if you are looking to have an enjoyable "bout" with an opponent.

Another excellant naval game - of an earlier period in seafaring history - is Broadside. This game was released in 1961 apart of Milton Bradley's American Heritage Command Decision series along with Dogfight ( WW1 aerial combat ),  Battle Cry and Civil War ( Civil War ), Skirmish ( American War of Independance ) and Hit the Beach ( WWII Pacific Theatre ).

Broadside has little miniature red and blue colored ships with detachable masts and saild. This way when an enemy ship flies at your fleet the masts that have been damaged can be removed. Clever, clever. I've been trying to get a copy of this fame for many years but it's hard to find a "complete" game and the ones that ARE available are so expensive. Broadside fits in the ideal war game catagory though - simple and yet strategic.

Other great naval games include Naval Battles ( a fast paced ship-attacking card game by Phalanx ), Modern Naval Battles, and an oldie but goodie Bombardment. But as you can see....there are not enough sea battle games out on the market!! I think this afternoon I'm going to start designing me very own. It's too good a game theme to pass up on.