Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

50th successful recovery of a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster

Starlink Mission on 1/6/20 by Official SpaceX Photos is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0  – A carefully observation will show the payload fairing reveals this not a Dragon capsule, but the photo provides a superb nighttime view.

Overnight SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 booster with fully loaded Dragon capsule on a Commercial Resupply Service mission (CRS-20), lifting supplies to the International Space Station.

This specific capsule already has been to ISS twice. This will make its third trip up and third recovery.

Successful recovery of this specific Falcon 9 booster back at Cape Canaveral marked the 50th time that SpaceX has recovered a booster. Astounding.

This launch was at 10 minutes before midnight, resulting in quite different visuals than a daytime launch. You can watch the launch, recovery of the booster, deployment of the capsule, and deployment of the solar panels here:

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Reference points of big numbers from the banking industry

Concord coach, from the days when Wells Fargo was the gold standard of honesty and integrity. Painting of Old Town San Diego is visible at top. Photo at Wells Fargo’s San Diego museum by James Ulvog.

To provide reference points for really big numbers, I’ve been accumulating information from articles that describe big things.

An article in the Wall Street Journal gives some detail of the fourth quarter financial results for Wells Fargo: 1/14/20 – Wall Street Journal – Wells Fargo CEO: A Wonderful Bank That Made ‘Some Terrible Mistakes’.

Top-line Revenue for 4th quarter:

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Airplane photos: Heritage Flight, #1

Some cool pictures of Heritage Flight presentations, all courtesy of U.S. Air Force:, with two more sets of photos to follow:

Superb profiles of P-51, F-15, and A-10 with great comparison of size of WWII and modern fighters:

A P-51 Mustang, an F-15 Eagle and an A-10 Thunderbolt II, fly the heritage formation over “The Show of Force 2007, From Heritage to Horizons Air Show” at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., March 24. The show was part of Air Force Week, a week-long event designed to highlight the amazing things the Air Force is doing around the globe and to show appreciation to the local community for its support. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)


A great age span – F-86 (Korea), P-38 (World War II), F-4 (Vietnam and Cold War), and A-10 (Cold War, Global War on Terror):

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Deserter from U.S. Air Force in 1983 was convicted at general court-martial, dismissed from service, and spent a short time in prison.

William Howard Hughes, Jr. (U.S. Air Force photo)


William H. Hughes, Jr., also known as Barry “Tim” O’Beirne deserted from the U.S. Air Force in 1983. He was found in 2018, arrested, tried by a general court martial, then convicted on September 5, 2018. He was dismissed from service and given a reprimand. He also spent 45 days in prison.

On October 8, 2019 the United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the conviction.

At the end of this post, I’ll ponder the severity of the sentence.

The disgraced former-officer, now-felon is William H. Hughes, Jr.

He had been hiding for 35 years under the assumed name of Barry “Tim” O’Beirne.

Previous post provides more detail on Deserter from the U.S. Air Force apprehended and tried.

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View from a telescope into a world far away I’ll never visit: wholesale drug distribution

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Watching news reports sometimes provides a glimpse into worlds far away that I’ll never visit. Such reports give some hint of what that world is like. There are lots of posts on my blog about such worlds. I wrote lots of posts about Silk Road, the on-line drug/ weapon/ body parts/ hacking tools/ contract murder web site.

An article in the Daily Bulletin on 2/29/20 provides another from a telescope of a distant planet:  Authorities seize 2,669 pounds of meth from San Bernardino County stash house and storage facility.

DEA led several raids on February 20 and 21 with the only explicitly mentioned assistance being San Bernardino County Sheriff deputies.

What they found:

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More detail on how SAC bombers and missiles would have gone to war in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s than you have seen in print before.

Keyturn  – – First Lt. ___ ___, the 321st Missile Squadron missile combat crew commander, performs a simulated key turn of the Minuteman III weapon system during a Simulated Electronic Launch-Minuteman test inside the launch control center at a missile alert facility in the 90th Missile Wing’s missile complex, Neb., April 11, 2017. During a SELM, the missileers in the LCC are responsible for sending commands to the Minuteman III ICBMs in the launch facility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano)

A treasure trove of formerly classified materials on nuclear launch procedures in the 1960s and 1970s were published by National Security Archive on 3/13/19:  How the Strategic Air Command Would Go to Nuclear War.

I will mention a variety of tidbits I found particularly interesting. If you enjoy this post, you will definitely want to read the full article.

You may see a lot of material you haven’t seen in print before.

Just to be clear, every comment in this post from this point forward is based on specific comments made in the linked article.

Article has extensive discussion on the increasing readiness of bomber and missile forces. Preparedness at levels DEFCON 5 through 1 are described.

Article also describes some of the various Postures, with explanation of what aircrews, maintainers, and missile crews would have been doing at different levels of readiness. Postures are described as immediate efforts to get bombers and missiles launched.

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Number and alert status of U.S. nuclear weapons in 1980.

Minuteman ICBM, Hill AFB Museum, Utah – Ywmin_1b by Greg Goebel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Previous post strung together my guesses, assumptions, and speculation to develop a table of how many nuclear weapons are on day-to-day alert and how many additional weapons could be generated to alert in what length of time.

Those guesses are for 2020, well after the U.S. won the Cold War and the Soviet Union, the bad ol’ Evil Empire, collapsed.

What would a comparable estimate look like for the depths of the Cold War? This post combines another string of guesses, assumptions, and speculation to figure out the available of U.S. nuclear weapons in 1980. Why that date? Well, it corresponds to when President Reagan won election, took office the following year, and then took necessary steps to conclusively win the Cold War. It also corresponds to the time frame when I was active duty.

Strategic Bombers

I’m fuzzy on number and armament of strategic bombers back in the 1980s. Wikipedia has List of B-52 Units of the United States Air Force.  Going through the list of units active in 1980 I count 17 wings with 29 squadrons.

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Oil production in North Dakota for 2019.

Producing well with pumpjack in the foreground. Drilling rig in background. Two more pads between them.  Photo by James Ulvog.

Release of the December production data in North Dakota lets us look at production for the full year.  Following graphs show the average daily production and total for the year. Multiplying the monthly data by the sweet crude price in North Dakota reported in the Director’s Cut lets us see the value of production by month and total value for the year.

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Costs of some big projects.

Artist rendering of a B-21 Raider concept in a hangar at Whiteman, Air Force Base, Missouri, one of the future bases to host the new airframe. (Courtesy photo by Northrop Grumman) (also courtesy of U.S. Air Force). Cost $550M each.

For a few indicators of the cost for some big projects and thus some reference points for big numbers, take a look at the Nuclear Notebook – United States nuclear forces, 2020, published by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Some projects with their specific costs mentioned in the article:

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Number and alert status of U.S. nuclear weapons in 2020.

A KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, prepares to transfer fuel to a B-2 Spirit from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., off the coast of Spain, June 13, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

Previous posts have described the count of nuclear weapons in the U.S. inventory and how they are deployed. Future posts will dive into the inventory of other nuclear powers. Plan to have some discussion of the U.S. inventory at various times in the past.

Reading the various articles made me wonder how many weapons are available in what time frame.

(Update 2/28/20:  Realized the photos of 1970s and ’80s weapon originally included in this post would be better in a comparable post discussing weapons in 1980.  Photos moved. New photos added to this post.)

For example, the Minuteman-III loaded with the Mk12A reentry vehicle can carry 3 warheads but are only loaded with 1. It would take months to reconfigure 200 missiles with another 400 warheads.

Of the 12 Ohio-class subs not in refueling, 8 are usually at sea with 4 of those on-station. The other 4 are hours or days away from their assigned station.

There are guessed 200 ALCMs at Minot and 100 gravity bombs at Whiteman which would take a fair amount of time to load. It would take an even long time to transport the remaining 550 weapons out to Minot and Whiteman.

So, I took a wild guess at how many weapons are available to the president immediately and long it would take to get the remaining inventory on line.

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Details behind North Dakota oil production.

With a huge pad, lots of storage tanks, yet only three pumpjacks, notice how much room there is for more wells. Photo by James Ulvog.

Some background data for oil in North Dakota provides insight for the production info.

Drilling rigs have become more productive in recent years. In the past, say before 2014, the number of rigs directly tied into production levels. Now, with a variety of technologies, such as multi-well pads for example, the drilling time is down so the wells per rig are up.

A far lower number of rigs is needed to keep new well production rolling.

Rig count since 2010:

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North Dakota oil production in December 2019 is fourth highest level on record, after setting new production level in 5 of last 6 months.

Workover rig working on well in North Dakota. Photo by James Ulvog.

North Dakota oil production in December 2019 is fourth highest level on record, after setting new production level in 5 of last 6 months.

Average daily production in the state was 1,475,685 barrels of oil per day (bopd) (preliminary) after hitting the highest level ever of 1,519,037 bopd (revised) in November. The November production broke the state’s record for the fifth time in six months, and the twelfth time in the last twenty months.

The routine record-level production is being achieved with stable and low level of drilling rigs and without the wild-west craziness in the local economy that existed before 2014.

Graph of the average daily production in the state and in the Bakken pool:

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Two successful space launches in three days by SpaceX and Northrup Grumman

Starlink Mission on 1/29/20) by Official SpaceX Photos is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0  – 2

Two launches in three days. Behind the Black provides a tally that year-to-date launches are 6 for US companies, 3 for China, and 1 each for Arianespace, Russia, and Japan.

SpaceX launch of Dragon lifting 60 communication satellites

Watched the recorded video of SpaceX’s launch of 60 more Starlink satellites from this morning. This is the fifth launch in the Starlink mission. After the fourth launch there were 182 sat, with 2 on first launch and 60 on each followup launch. Sixty  more on this launch brings the total in orbit to 242 by my count. Eventually the Starlink constellation will have 1,584 sats at a 341 mile altitude.

Video of the launch:

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Gettysburg Address.

A tribute to the memory and legacy of Abraham Lincoln as we remember his birth on February 12, 1809.

The Gettysburg Address, presented at the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands, California on February 8, 2020.


More tidbits on U.S. nuclear forces.

Two B-52H Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 96th Bomb Squadron fly in formation during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1 over the Baltic Sea, Oct. 23, 2019.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)

There is an astounding amount of information on U.S. nuclear forces found in Nuclear Notebook – United States nuclear forces, 2020, published by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Not having dived deep into the nuke world for a long time, I’m amazed how much info is available.

Previous posts have gone into a lot of detail on U.S. nukes. This discussion will cover a few interesting tidbits in no particular order with no particular theme.

New START is the name of the current treaty which limits U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons. It went into effect back in February 2011 and will expire in February 2021 unless it is extended for five years by mutual agreement of the U.S. and Russia.  The article is skeptical that it will be extended based on what the articles describes as the “demonstrated disdain” of the current administration for any arms control agreements.

On-site inspections are a feature of this treaty. Article says through the end of 2019 there have been a combined total of 321 on-site inspections.

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