WESTIN—CHATTANOOGA

November 18, 2018


Just about every Friday evening my wife and I celebrate the weekend by going to dinner.  We like to go early, i.e. 4:30 or 5:00 P.M. In other words—happy hour.  The crowds are smaller and the prices are much more in line with a reasonable budget.  This past Friday, we tried the Westin—Chattanooga located at 801 Pine Street. Pine Street is just west of the “main drag” and close to I-27.  Great location for a restaurant.  We heard the Alchemy Bar and Restaurant on the tenth (10th) floor of the hotel was great.  We were not disappointed in the least.

The Westin was at one time Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Chattanooga.  A digital picture of that building is shown below.

This building was called the “Gold Building” for obvious reasons.  The gold windows reflected sunlight, thus keeping the interior office areas much cooler and saving considerable utility expense.  Blue Cross basically outgrew these facilities and relocated some miles away.  Westin purchased the building some time afterwards and spent millions and over one year of time in refurbishing it and turning it into a marvelous hotel and commercial facilities.

As mentioned, the Alchemy is located on the tenth floor.  We will take a pictorial tour of the facility.

You are greeted with a plaque indicating the location and name.

One of the great features of the Alchemy is the lighting.  Lights everywhere and beautifully done.

I hope you can tell the restaurant is “kid-friendly”. When we were there, there were children ranging from infant to young teen. All very respectful of the furnishing and QUIET.

The dining area is very spacious with plenty of room to move around.  I did not include it in the pictures but here are high tables along the picture windows to the left of this JPEG and to entry of the facility.

You get a great view of the famous Lookout Mountain.  Lookout Mountain is noted for the “Battle Above the Clouds”—a famous battle between the North and the South during the Civil War.  This profile is on the City seal just as you see it here.

The picture below shows a small portion of the Chattanooga skyline.

LOBBY:

The lobby is really inviting with an exceptional amount of space.  The pictures below will definitely give you that reality.

I want to note the “picture wall” below.  The Westin has hung pictures of Chattanooga new and old to show a very brief “evolution” of the city center.

CONCLUSIONS:

You really need to make Chattanooga one place on your agenda while driving South.  We have become a destination for visitors due to the following: 1.) Great dining, 2.) The Tennessee River and all the “stuff” you can do on that river, 3.) Great accommodations, 4.) Wonderful tourist attractions in the downtown area and the surrounding tri-state areas. It’s a great destination summer, winter, spring and especially the fall.  Come on down.

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THE WAR TO END ALL WARS

November 11, 2018


Exactly one hundred (100) years ago today (November 11) the first world war ended.  World War I, which introduced industrialized killing to a world utterly unprepared for it, ended at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 — the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

WWI actually ended in 1918.  That day was described in America as Armistice Day. Church bells would sound at 11 a.m. and people would observe a moment of silence to remember the men who died in the 1914-18 war. In 1954, in the aftermath of World War II, Congress renamed the day as Veterans Day. Let’s take a brief look at several reasons for the term “War to End All Wars”.

  • By that first Christmas, over 300,000 Frenchmen had been killed, wounded or captured. During the same period, the Germans suffered 800,000 casualties.
  • Throughout four years of war, casualties on both sides on the western front averaged 2,250 dead and almost 5,000 wounded every day,” Joseph Persico writes in his “11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour.
  • Battles large and small were fought on three contents — Africa, Asia and especially in Europe — the war claimed some nine million combatants and an estimated seven million more civilian lives.
  • America, which entered the war in April 1917, lost 53,402 of her sons in combat and another 63,114 to non-combat deaths, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • 204,000 American soldiers were wounded.
  • Germany lost 2.050 million men, while Russia lost 1.8 million. Great Britain lost 885,000 men — more than twice the number of Americans killed in World War II.
  • France’s losses were catastrophic. Fully 1.397 million men, 4.29 percent of France’s population, died in the war.

I would like now to present a timeline relative to the events of WWI.  This may be somewhat long but I think on this Veterans’ Day very important.

1914:

  • June 28—a Serb teenager, Gavrilo Princip kills Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand
  • July 18—Austria-Hungry declares war on Serbia
  • August 1—Germany declares war on Russia
  • August 4—Germany declares war on France
  • August 23—Japan declares war on Germany
  • September—Battle of the Marne stops the German advance in France
  • October 29—Ottoman Empire enters the war
  • November—Beginning of trench warfare
  • December 25—Unofficial Christmas Truce

1915:

  • February—German U-boat campaign marks the first large use of submarines in warfare
  • April—Allied troops land in Gallipoli, Turkey, a defining moment for Australia and New Zeeland
  • April 22—First use of a chemical weapon, chlorine gas, near Ypres, Belgium
  • May 7—British ship Lusitania sunk by German U-boat
  • May 23—Italy enters the war against Austria-Hungary
  • October—Bulgaria joins the war on the side of the Central Powers

1916:

  • February 21—Battle of Verdun begins
  • March 9—Germany declares war on Portugal
  • July 1—Battle of the Somme begins with the first mass use of tanks
  • August 27—Romania enters the war and is invaded by Germany
  • September 4—British take Dar es Salaam in German East Africa
  • October—Soldier Adolf Hitler is wounded
  • December 23—Allied forces defeat Turkish in Sinai Peninsula

1917:

  • March—Bagdad falls to Anglo-Indian forces
  • April 6—United States declares war on Germany
  • April—Battle for Vimy Ridge which was the defining moment for Canada
  • July—The last Russian offensive ends in failure as their revolution nears. Inconclusive Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium
  • October 15—Spy Mata Hari is executed by a French firing squad
  • October 26—Brazil declares war joining the Allied Powers
  • December—Battle of Jerusalem

1918:

  • March 3—Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ends Russia’s involvement in the war on the Eastern Front
  • April 21—Legendary German fighter pilot known as the Red Baron is shot down and killed near Amiens, France
  • June—Battle of Belleau Wood, which the defining moment for the United States
  • July 21—German submarine fires on Cape Cod which was the only attack on the mainland U.S.
  • September 26—Battle of the Meuse-Argonne begins
  • October 30—Ottoman Empire signs armistice with the Allies
  • October 31—Dissolution of Austro-Hungarian Empire
  • November 9—Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates
  • November 11—Germany armistice ending the war

You can see from the chronology of major events above: this was a war of global significance.  A war our planet has never known.  As we know, it was not a war that ended all wars.  We never learned that lesson.

THE MOST UNRELIABLE

November 7, 2018


One of the things I like to do with my posts is deliver information you can use in your daily life. “Stuff” that just mike make a difference.  I certainly hope this one does.    Some of the information you will read is taken from Consumer Reports Magazine and Design News Daily Magazine.

Consumer Reports recently published information regarding the reliability of automobiles offered for sale in the United States.  They drew their conclusions from owner surveys of more than five hundred thousand (500,000) people. The surveys look at numerous problem areas including engine, transmission, suspension, cooling, electrical, climate, brakes, exhaust, paint, trim, noises, leaks, power equipment, and in-car electronics, among others.  We will highlight now those automobiles considered to be the most unreliable.  This list may surprise you as it did me.

I would say that if you are looking for new wheels you heed the information given by Consumer Magazine.  They accept no advertisements and generally conduct their research by interviewing consumers and actually testing the products they report on.

MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM

November 6, 2018


Atlanta is the host city for one of the most beautiful stadiums in our country.  Also, from an engineering standpoint, one of the most complex.  You can see from the digital above the stadium at night.

My wife and I traveled to ATL recently to visit our granddaughters and thought we would take a tour of the stadium prior to our visit.  The Atlanta Falcons were not playing so things were relatively quiet; otherwise, you could not get within ten (10) feet of the places we were allowed to go on the tour.  The prices for a tour are as follows:

  • Adult Ticket-$25.00
  • Senior Adult Ticket: $20.00
  • Parking: $15.00 (In the parking garage.)

I don’t think this is too bad for the “look” we got.  The entire tour is about one hour and twenty minutes.

STATISTICS:

Let’s take a look at several statistics to get some idea as to the immense project this was.

  • Arthur Blank indicated the groundbreaking of the stadium would be conducted the last week of March 2014. The stadium opened in 2017.
  • Cost to build: $1.15 Billion (Yes that’s billion with a “B”.)
  • Construction time: Thirty-nine (39) months
  • Parking space: 21,000
  • Stadium height: 305 Feet
  • Field level: 1018 Feet above sea level.
  • Total stadium footage: 2,000,000 Square Feet
  • Total concrete: 150,000 Cubic Yards
  • Total structural steel: 27,000 Tons
  • Roof size: 14.5 acres
  • Total seating capacity: 71,000 expandable to 75,000
  • Club seats: 7,600
  • Number of suites: 190
  • Concession points of sale: 673
  • Bars and restaurants: 24
  • Beer taps: 1,264
  • Escalators: 25
  • Scoreboard: 63,800 Square Feet

In other words, this is one big place.  Let’s now take a digital tour.  I made all of these pictures so please forgive, in some cases, the armature nature.

As you approach the stadium you get an idea just how big it is. This is the walkway leading from underground parking.

The most prominent indicator announcing “we have arrived” is the Atlanta Falcon—otherwise known as the “dirty bird”.

We mentioned earlier the number of escalators used to access seating. From the JPEG below, you get some idea as to the layout.

With out a doubt, the most prominent feature of the stadium is the dome and the skylight.

As you might expect, the roof is an un-suspended design with no supporting internal posts or columns blocking view from any seat.  The complexly of the superstructure may be seen as follows:

This is a civil engineers dream, or nightmare.  Choose one.  There are eight (8) petals to the retractable dome and they actuate like the shutter on a camera lens.

CLUBS WITHIN THE STADIUM:

There are various clubs within the stadium, each bearing the name of the sponsor.

The AT & T Perch is the first you encounter.

Atlanta is the hub for Delta Airlines so you know they will be involved in a big way and support a club—a beautiful club at that.

Mercedes-Benz sponsors an equally beautiful restaurant and bar called the Gullwing.

 

Another “Benz” club is shown below with internal seating.

PLAYING FIELD:

OK, this is a football stadium.

LOCKER ROOM:

By far, the most disappointing aspect of the entire facility was the locker room.

We are taking bland and generic although, maybe for game day, things improve greatly.  After all, this was a guided tour.

CONCLUSION:

I can certainly recommend to you taking the tour the next time you are in Atlanta. It is well worth it to see the come by itself.

BORDER SECURITY

October 27, 2018


Some information for this post is taken from the publication “Military & Aerospace Electronics”, October 18, 2018.

For more than a week, thousands of migrants from Central America have been marching north towards the United States. They say they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence in their countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The journey poses a host of dangers, such as dehydration and criminal gangs.   Many of the migrants say they feel safer travelling in numbers and I am certain they are correct. One can only guess as to how many will die along the way but there is safety in numbers.

On 12 October, in the crime-ridden Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, a group of one hundred and sixty (160) people gathered at a bus terminal and prepared to set off on the dangerous journey.  By the time the group set off in the early hours of 13 October, more than one thousand (1,000) Hondurans had joined. Honduras, which has a population of about nine million, has endemic problems with gang violence, drug wars and corruption. The wider region has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

I will not debate the pros and cons of allowing them into the United States but our federal government is positioned to stop as many as possible from entering.  This post will strive to detail the methodology used by our military and the Office of Homeland Security to facilitate that effort. The technology is striking and, for the most part, developed by the military.  Homeland Security is using that technology.  Please keep in mind, these programs have been developed over the years and not specifically for the caravan slowly approaching our boarders.  Let us now take a very quick look at some of the methods used.

  • Air-based technology
  • Apex border situational awareness
  • Artic communications and technologies
  • Biometric technology engine
  • Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment (CAISE)
  • Countering violent extremism—actionable indicators and countermeasures project
  • Data analytics engine
  • Eye-dentify
  • Future Attribute Screening Techniques (FAST)
  • Ground-based technologies
  • Identity and access management engine
  • Low-light internet protocol cameras
  • Pat-Down Accuracy Training Tool (PATT)
  • Polar Scout
  • Space-based technology
  • Port of entry-based technology
  • Port and waterway resiliency
  • Port of entry people screening
  • Port and coastal surveillance
  • Port of entry forensics and investigations
  • Post Tracking System (PTS)
  • Small dart aircraft, or the hunt for drug-smuggling aircraft at the borders
  • Tunnel detection and surveillance
  • Video-based training for border patrol trackers
  • Virtual shooter

For the sake of time, I will let you discover the specifics of the list above but as you can see, it is very extensive and laden with cutting-edge technology.  Most of the technology, if not all, was developed for the U.S. military but adopted by Homeland Security.

If members of the caravan are successful they will be on U.S. soil. In the very near future The Border Patrol will have to take them into custody and unless Mexico agrees to take them back, the migrants will be held in detention until they can be deported.   If the migrants are accompanied by children, the government has virtually nowhere to put them.  Let’s just hope there is no more separating children from mothers and fathers.

The Trump administration has been preparing to expand family detention capacity by housing detainees on military bases, but those facilities do not appear to be ready. And once asylum-seeking migrants are on U.S. soil, it becomes significantly harder for the government to deny them access to the legal system, with the rights and protections it affords, in accordance with international laws and norms.

At this writing the caravan is still more than one thousand (1,000) miles away from U.S. territory, and there is a great deal of Mexico left to traverse. If the group manages to advance fifteen (15) miles per day, it would take more than two months for the caravan to arrive at the Rio Grande.  That timeline changes significantly if caravan members manage to board buses, trucks or freight trains, in which case they could reach the U.S. border in less than a week. But that’s a major if, absent a significant fundraising effort to provide mass motorized transport.

I cannot imagine living in a country in which it is unsafe to go to the market, making a doctor’s appointment or visiting a family member.  This is the condition that seemingly exist in the three countries mentioned earlier.  Then again, look at the southside of Chicago on any one given weekend.

As always, I welcome your comments.

SEVEN TRIBES

October 21, 2018


I read a fascinating article written by Mr. David Brooks regarding the “typology” of the American electorate.  In the study were several very interesting comments, one being: “American politics is no longer about what health care plan you support its’ about identity, psychology, moral foundations and the dynamics of tribal resentment”.  The report he references is entitled “HIDDEN TRIBES”.  This report breaks down the American electorate into seven (7) distinct groups from left to right.  Let’s take a look at these groups:

  • PROGRESSIVE ACTIVISTS: 8%–Younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, and very angry.
  • TRADITIONAL LIBERALS: 11%–Older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
  • PASSIVE LIBERALS: 15%– Unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
  • POLITICALLY DISENGAGED: 26%–Young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial.
  • MODERATES: 15%– Engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the road, pessimistic, Protestant
  • TRADITIONAL CONSERVATIVES: 19%–Religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
  • DEVOTED CONSERVATIVES: 6%–White, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising, patriotic.

Progressive Activists and Devoted Conservatives are the two groups that are the most-wealthy and the most-white.  Their members have among the highest education levels, and report the highest levels of personal security.  (I find this fascinating.)   If we consider “civil war” we would probably find that civil war between privileged progressives and privileged conservatives.   The study has indicated that tribalism is the fruit of privilege and that people with more stress in their lives generally pay less or much less attention to politics. Another takeaway from the study is “ideas really do drive history”.  Several very interesting conclusions are stated in that report as follows:

  • Ninety (90%) percent of Devoted Conservatives think immigration is bad.
  • Ninety-nine (99%) percent of Progressive Activists think immigration is good.
  • Seventy-six (76%) percent of Devoted Conservatives think Islam is more violent than any other religion whereas only three (3%) percent of Progressive Activists agree.
  • Eighty-six (86%) percent of Devoted Conservatives think It is more important for children to be well behaved than creative where as thirteen (13%) percent of Progressive Activists agree.
  • Ninety-one (91%) percent of Progressive Activists say sexual harassment in common, whereas only twelve (12%) percent of Devoted Conservatives agree.
  • Ninety-two (92%) percent of Progressive Activists say people do not take racism seriously enough compared to six (6%) of Devoted Conservatives.
  • Eighty-six (86%) of Progressive Activists say life’s outcomes are outside people’s control whereas two (2%) of Devoted Conservatives believe this is the case.
  • Progressive Activists are nearly three times as likely to say they are ashamed to be an American as compared to the average voter.

Now the good news, once you get outside those two somewhat elite groups you find much more independent thinking and flexibility.  This is definitely NOT a 50-50 nation.  It only appears that way when disenchanted voters are forced to choose between the two extreme “cults”.

Roughly two-thirds of Americans across four political types fall into what the authors of this study call “the exhausted majority”.  Sixty-one (61%) percent say people they tend to agree with need to listen and compromise more.  Eighty (80%) percent say political correctness is a real problem and eighty-two (82%) percent say the very same about hate speech. Unfortunately, people in the exhausted majority have no narrative.  They have no coherent philosophic worldview to organize their thinking thus compelling action.

CONCLUSIONS:  We do not know what the next political paradigm will look like, but one would possibly assume it will be based upon abundance, not deficits: gifts, not fear; and hope not hatred.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NASA

October 17, 2018


Some information for this post is taken from NASA Tech Briefs, Vol 42, No.10

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite.  I remember the announcement just as though it was yesterday.  Walter Cronkite announced the “event” on the CBS evening news.  That single event was a game-changer and sent the United States into action. That’s when we realized we were definitely behind the curve.  The launch provided the impetus for increased spending for aerospace endeavors, technical and scientific educational programs, and the chartering of a new federal agency to manage air and space research and development. The United States and Russia were engaged in a Cold War, and during this period of time, space exploration emerged as a major area of concern.  In short, they beat us to the punch and caught us with our pants down.

As a result, President Dwight David Eisenhower created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA.  NASA opened for business on October 1, 1958, with T. Keith Glenman, president of the Case Institute of Technology, as its first administrator.  NASA’s primary goal was to “provide research into the problems of flight within and outside the Earth’s atmosphere, and other purposes. “(Not too sure the “other purposes” was fully explained but that’s no real problem.  The “spooks” had input into the overall mission of NASA due to the Cold War.)

NASA absorbed NACA (National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics) including three major research laboratories: 1.) Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, 2.) Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, and 3.) the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory.  There were two smaller laboratories included with the new Federal branch also.  NASA quickly incorporated other organizations into its new agency, notably the space science group of the Naval Research Laboratory in Maryland, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed by Caltech for the Army and the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama. As you recall, Dr. Werner von Braun’s team of engineers were at that time engaged in the development of very large rockets.

The very first launch for NASA was from Cape Canaveral, Florida.  It was the Pioneer I, which launched on October 11, 1958. In May of 1959, Pioneer 4 was launched to the Moon, successfully making the first U.S. lunar flyby.

NASA’s first high-profile program involving human spaceflight was Project Mercury, an effort to learn if humans could survive the rigors of spaceflight.  On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard Jr. became the first American to fly into space.  He rode his Mercury capsule on a fifteen (15) minute suborbital mission.

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of sending astronauts to the moon and back before the end of the decade.  To facilitate this goal, NASA expanded the existing manned spaceflight program in December 1961 to include the development of a two-man spacecraft. The program was officially designated Gemini and represented a necessary intermediate step in sending men to the moon on what became known as the Apollo Missions.  I had the great pleasure of being in the Air Force at that period of history and worked on the Titan II Missile.  The Titan II shot the Mercury astronauts into orbit.  Every launch was a specular success for our team at the Ogden Air Material Area located at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah.  The missile has since been made obsolete by other larger and more powerful rockets but it was the “ride” back in those days.

One thing I greatly regret is the cessation of maned-flight by our government.  All of the efforts expended during the days of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo have not been totally lost but we definitely have relinquished our dominance in manned space travel.  Once again, you can thank your “local politicians” for that great lack of vision.

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