31 December 2006


New Year's Day, 2007

The first day of the year....
We've watched retrospectives of 2006 on different networks-
One I enjoy is on TCM, the "Turner Classic Movies" old movie network.
At the end of each year they do a review of those involved with movie production that died during the year. It's sometimes easy to forget who died early in the year, and this review is a good reminder.

Various News Channels also do reviews of the major news stories of the year. "Major" means differing things to different people, but it's still nice to be reminded of stories that happened during the previous year.

And then there are the personal stories..... those things that happen to each of us individually, or as a family, that impact us in an important way, but don't affect others much.
A big one for the Greybeard family just came to fruition-
Four and a half years of work behind him, Big Bubba has gotten his Bachelor's degree. His major emphasis is communications, with a minor emphasis in Journalism. He already has two job offers, and accepting either of them will result in his moving a considerable distance from us.

So this year we are conflicted-
We are proud of him for his achievement.
We're proud of him because he's a fine human being.
We're proud of him because his talent has resulted in some folks in the Movie/TV industry taking notice of him and offering him jobs.
But it means he'll be leaving home.
He's always been a home-body.... now the activity we've always heard emanating from his bedroom will be quiet. The "life-support system" he has established there will be packed up and moved across country, leaving space for us to fill as we wish.

Have we properly prepared him for this transition?
How will we deal with "empty-nest syndrome"?
(Not well, I'm afraid.)

Comparisons with my parents, and so many other parents, are impossible to avoid-
Mine sent me off to the care of my Uncle Sam, knowing the conflict in Viet Nam was expanding.
It's hard for me to imagine sending my son off under similar circumstances.... could I handle that kind of emotional transition? God gives us the strength to handle such things, but I sure am glad I'm not facing that circumstance.

The change we face is the result of plans and dreams unfolding as we hoped.
Still, we face the stress that major change in our lives presents.
We need to focus on the positive side of this change.
It's an exciting time for us.

Happy New Year everyone!

28 December 2006

"Tiger Fatigues"

"Greybeard, you have a phone call- line one".

On duty at my EMS job, I was watching TV.
I picked up the phone and pushed the button for line #1...
"This is Greybeard."
"Greybeard, this is 'Larry Rocker'..... remember me?"

..... Quick search of the memory banks-
"I haven't spoken to the only Larry Rocker I know since October of 1969!"
"That would be me!"

No, I couldn't forget Larry....
He was a favorite Crewchief in Viet Nam.
He hailed from Southern California. Larry and I share a love of cars, so we talked alot about what kind of wheels we'd be driving when we got "back to the world."

"Listen Greybeard, my wife is a flight attendant for Blah-Blah Airline, and we're gonna be in your State next weekend. If your schedule permits, I'd love to come visit you!"

"Larry, have you looked at a map? We're six hours from Bigtown!
You realize how far you'll have to drive?"
I wasn't surprised at his response..... "I don't care."

We had a great weekend, reliving old times, telling lies to one another, and catching up on almost 30 years of news.
One of the things Larry talked about was going to Viet Nam Unit reunions.
Had I attended any?

I was always afraid of going....... fearful I'd be surrounded by a bunch of guys reliving Viet Nam experiences, crying in their beer.
Larry said, "I think you'll be surprised".

So when he called a few months later and said our old Company was meeting in Dallas, I talked it over with Sara Jean, and we agreed to make the drive.
My relief valve- we had loved ones in Dallas, so if the meeting went into the pooper, the visit with relatives would make the trip worthwhile.

Larry and his wife Mary Kay met us in the lobby of the hotel.
After our initial greetings they asked, "Have you seen 'Tiger Fatigues'?"
"What? Tiger Fatigues? No, I can't say we have."
"Well, he's here for the reunion, and he's weird lookin'.
He walks with a cane, and he stands out like a sore thumb in his Tiger Fatigues."
The rest of us were dressed casually in civilian clothes.

A few minutes later we spotted him, limping along with his cane.
Tall, lean, and wearing the "thousand yard stare", he WAS a little scary looking.
This was EXACTLY the reason I had avoided these reunions!

Next morning we nervously made our way to the meeting room that organizers had rented for our use. There I ran into Bill, a gunner I hadn't seen since 1969.
We shared stories and enjoyed one another's company.

My lovely Sara Jean is 10 years my junior.
While I was being shot at in Viet Nam, she was 12 years old, not yet worrying about pimples.
When the North Vietnamese turned Saigon into Ho Chi Minh City, she was still just 16.
Her older brother, same age as me, was a Marine Corp Viet Nam Veteran who had been "in country" a little over a year before I got there.
She had never been able to understand the impact the war had made on two of the most important men in her life.

While I visited with Bill and others, she sat quietly at the table and eavesdropped on conversations.
To her immediate right, she heard one guy exclaim, "He's alive?!"
Another guy says, "Yes! He's in a wheelchair, but he's alive."
She overhears the first guy say, "The lower half of his body was gone when we put him in the helicopter."
Then, in tears- "I can't believe he's alive!"

The door opened, and "Tiger Fatigues" limps in.
For a moment, the room was uncomfortably quiet, then conversations returned to normal as he took a seat.
To my amazement, Mary Kay made her way over to Tiger, sat next to him, and engaged him in conversation.

They chatted long enough that I wondered if I needed to rescue her.
I made my way to them and introduced myself to Tiger, then, to give her a chance to escape, I asked Mary Kay if she needed to go up to her room to check on her messages.
"No thanks. I'm fascinated by the stories I'm hearing."

And his story is compelling.
Let me set the stage, so you'll better understand:

You may remember, our unit was a reconnaissance outfit and had a mix of aircraft-
Gunships, Scouts, and Slicks.
While our aircraft were parked, we protected them from enemy rocket and mortar fire by parking them in revetments-
walls of sandbags 5 feet high, supported by ammo boxes or pierced steel planking.
The slicks and Scouts were parked in "shotgun" revetments.....
a wall on both sides, but open at both ends.
The gunships were parked in "L shaped" revetments with the aircraft facing the base of the "L".
This arrangement precluded the off-chance of a 2.75 inch rocket being ignited by static electricity and flying into someone's living quarters.
Hovering out of either type of revetment was difficult.....
the rotor downwash would reflect off the sandbags, causing a great deal of turbulence until you were completely clear of the enclosures.

One morning, "Tiger Fatigues" was helping his best friend, a Cobra Crewchief, launch his Snake on a mission.
The Snake came to operating R.P.M., then slowly came to a hover and started it's sideward slide to get clear of the revetment, while Tiger and his Crewchief friend stood and watched.
Suddenly, one of the rockets accidently fired, and from a distance of about 30 feet, went through the Crewchief's chest.

I can't imagine it...... a rocket almost 4 inches in diameter!
The wound would be ghastly.

Tiger's friend lived long enough to say he was cold.
Tiger ran to the supply room to get a blanket to cover him.
The supply clerk wouldn't give him one....... wouldn't believe Tiger's story.
When he returned, failing to get the blanket, his friend was dead.

It's easy to understand why Tiger looks at the world through a "thousand yard stare".

I came home from that reunion glad we had attended.
Sara Jean returned with a new understanding about her husband and brother.

We drank a lot.
We hugged a lot.
We laughed a lot....
we cried a little, too.

I've been to a few reunions since, but the memories of that first one will always stand out.
Mary Kay stops by here at "Pitchpull" to read and comment now and then.
She needs to know how much I respect the courage it took for her to walk over to Tiger and start that conversation.
Mary Kay..... I'll always love and admire you for that!
I know it was exactly the therapy he needed........
I found out I needed it too.

25 December 2006

The Christmas Effect

I'm at home this Christmas, and it's wonderful.
We work a screwy schedule...... four days with 12-hour shifts, then four days off. So although it would seem I would have a 50-50 chance of being home for Christmas, it sure seems I have worked more than my fair share of Christ's Birthdays. This morning Sara Jean and I discussed how Big Bubba learned to sleep in on Christmas day because his Old Man frequently wouldn't be home to unwrap presents until late morning.
While it's nice to be home, I never resent being at work on holidays.... someone has to do it, and I'm glad to be of service to others in what can sometimes be desperate times for them.

But Christmas is a strange time.
You would think we'd experience a big up-tick in the number of accidents because of all the holiday travel. For whatever reason, it just doesn't work out that way. It might be the additional patrolling done by various State Police. I think folks are less likely to drink and drive if they know somewhere along their travels they could be stopped by a concerned Trooper.

Weather sometimes slows traffic, so even though there might be more accidents, slower speeds mean they are more minor, and less speed means less likelihood of serious injury.

From Thanksgiving to just after New Year's we do see an increase in what I can only describe as mental stress problems..... suicides, heart attacks and other cardiac issues. There is high expectation of happiness during the holidays. Sometimes things don't work out exactly the way we want, and the disappointment can be too much for some. And although we see less drinking and driving, I'm sure alcohol consumption at home goes up, with the additional stresses that entails.

For whatever reason, Christmas Eve and Christmas day are normally quiet for helicopter ambulance services. Tomorrow will be another story altogether.... Docs coming back after the holidays will have many patients who need to be transported to tertiary care centers, so tomorrow morning, crews coming in can expect to be busy for several hours, catching up on the backload.

So to all, I hope Christ's Birthday is filled with great fellowship and many smiles.
And if you could, sometime during the day, say a little prayer of thanks for all those performing public service of one sort or another..... servicemen and women, EMS and Law Enforcement personnel, and even those folks that have to be at work to keep the machinery of life working..... powerplants, water purification plants, etc..
It's easy to take these things for granted, because all these folks do their jobs so well.
We are truly blessed, aren't we?
Be safe and well, everyone!

20 December 2006

The Minimum Wage

There's big talk recently about another minimum wage increase.
Blah, blah, blah....
Lotsa heat..... almost no light.
Foolish political games!

I have a market-based solution to low minimum wages:
Control our borders, arrest and deport illegal immigrants!

The laws of supply and demand cannot be repealed......
The pool of laborers willing to work for low wages and NO BENEFITS will quickly dry up. Employers will be
forced to pay higher wages to attract workers to those jobs. (It's already happening in some agricultural states, harvesting some crops.)
As wages for people at the bottom rung of the ladder increase, wages will have to rise all the way up the ladder.
(And as an added benefit, overall health care costs and the crime rate will go down.)

Minimum wages increase!
But does it materially change anything?

19 December 2006

Desilu Update:

FURTHER UPDATE, Wednesday evening:
Both dogs are okay.
Desi is home, listless and drowsy. When he's not interested in a 'treat", ya know something really outta the ordinary is going on.
Lucy is fine. I'll pick her up on my way home from work tomorrow.
Now the question is, how much behavioral change will we notice?

Time will tell.


It's been three months since we found Lucy roaming the streets, trying to get squished. She's a delight, and we wouldn't trade her for the world.

A few points about her, for those of you that care about critters, doggies in particular:

I really felt that training her with Desi would be easier than starting from scratch with her alone.
I was wrong.
She's a smaller dog, so her "pile" is small......
easily identifiable as "Lucy's mistake."
Still, I'm uncomfortable punishing her unless I actually catch her in the act. The problem is that the two of them are so active.....
they irritate one another to death..... hot laps around the living room!
In order to remain sane, you learn to ignore much of their behavior.
Ignoring their behavior results in finding a small pile beneath the dining room table.
Poor Desi...... we point to the pile and ask, "WHAT IS THIS!?"
Lucy wags her tail, cocks her head, and looks dumb. (She really reminds me of Ellen DeGeneres' character "Dori" in "Finding Nemo"!)
Desi knows house poopage is wrong, so he slinks off, afraid he's gonna be punished for her mistake.

She really is Desi's dog. She loves us, but he comes first.

She follows him everywhere, watching what he does, gnawing on his ears, chewing on his tail as they go.
He's a Saint.
He more than puts up with it...... he actually seems to enjoy it.

If she ignores him, he checks on her..... and sometimes instigates a tussle on his terms.

I finally caught her in the act. She squatted in a corner of the living room and I shouted at her as I picked her up in mid-poop. Solid waste landed on a recliner as I paddled her little butt. There's been no pooping in the house since.

I normally get home from work at 7:30 A.M..
Doggies are ready for our normal "one lap around the lot."
We leash Desi only...... so long as he is restrained, Lucy won't go far.
Both squat immediately when we get outside.
Poopage takes a little walkin', in order to get the machinery lubricated.
Funny..... we frequently get formation poopage!
Good Boy! Good girl!

Desi is just over a year old.
The Vet tells us Lucy is probably about 6 months old now. (By the way, on the papers he filled out on her, he decided her major breed type is "poodle".)
After our morning ritual when I get home from work tomorrow, Desi, Lucy and I will drive to the Vet, and both dogs will be neutered.
Desi gets to come home tomorrow night.....
Lucy has to stay the night for observation.

I know it has to be done, but I'm a little scared.
Is it silly to ask for prayers for animals?
If you don't think it's stupid, I'd appreciate it if you'd include them in yours.
I'll update you afterwards.
Thanks everyone!

17 December 2006

Just Plain Cool!

I have more than 1500 hours in various iterations of the BO 105 shown in this video that lifetime friend Ole Prairie Dog sent.
I had seen this video several times before, but never with the cool background music on this one.

It's obviously a tough, agile bird.
The 105 has a rigid (hingeless) rotor that allows the pilot to do "negative G" maneuvers that would destroy many other helicopters.
The BO 105 was the precursor to the BK 117 I'm now flying in EMS, which principally has the same rotor system and would also be able to do these sorts of maneuvers.

Yeah, a tough bird......
It's comforting to know these aircraft can withstand forces I will never subject them to.

12 December 2006

Coffee, and the Production of Lift-

Sometimes I fly.
Sometimes I sit and try to learn something new.

The other day, I was poking around the archives on Aviatrix's blog and found
this post.
I cannot imagine any pilot that has been at this trade for more than a few months not smiling and nodding as they read her words.
Caffeine isn't part of the aircraft's checklist, but without it,

lift may not occur.

For 14 years, I flew UH-1H "Hueys" with the Army Reserve in an "Assault Helicopter" company. The main mission of the company was to put together a flight of a few Hueys and carry infantrymen from point A to point B... point B frequently being the place where our passengers might be needed to confront adversaries with the baggage they carried with them.

To do our job well, we practiced.
We'd frequently plan what we called a "boondoggle"......
Well ahead of time, we'd plan a trip to some Navy or Air Force Base several hours away, requiring a fuel stop or two, then we'd stop and R.O.N., (remain overnight), and return the next day. Most often, these plans would attract several pilots, and we'd get to practice formation flying along the route.

One trip we planned was to fly to Pensacola Naval Air Station, spend the night in Officer's quarters there, then go to the Naval Air Museum the next day, spend another night in the Officer's quarters, then fly back home. Sixteen pilots expressed interest in making this flight, so 8 Hueys were blocked off for that weekend.

Weather didn't cooperate. Ceilings and visibilities went to pot,

and we ended up landing at an Air Force Base well short of Pensacola. Luckily, we found they had "room at the Inn" for all of us.
We showered, donned civilian clothes,
and made our way to the Officer's Club.

Hangovers were the order of the day when sun came up.

Sixteen pilots showed up at the Operations Office in desperate need of "the Army Aviators Breakfast"-
Cheese crackers with Peanut Butter, and a big cup of coffee.

Coffee was available- in a vending machine next to the machine that sold the cheese crackers. One pilot put in his quarter, and the machine failed to deliver the necessary caffeine.
Another tried, pounding the machine as he inserted his coins.... same result.
This is a real Emergency!

We notified the clerk at the desk and he called the vending machine service number. They announced they'd have someone there to fix the machine right away.
Now we're gettin' somewhere......
our fix was on the way!
We grumbled and shuffled around in the Ops office, yearning for that first cup.
Finally, a Van with the vending company logo approached and parked right in front of the main entrance. Wearing a one-piece coverall uniform, the serviceman got out of the Van, grabbed his tool box, and strode toward the door.
We could feel the relief coming!

He set his tool box down and turned to look at all of us.
He was portly, unshaven, and looked a little like a character from the movie "Deliverance". Seeing how badly we needed our first cup, he smiled and said, "you guys got it bad, don't ya!?"
He had no front teeth.
Where he had teeth, they were yellow-green with dark spots.

He pulled out his keys and opened the machine, saying,
"I bet I know just what's wrong".
Next we heard, "Yep! Look at that! Feed line is blocked."
The nylon tube that delivered the coffee to the cup was blocked with a gelatinous coffee/cream plug.
He put the nylon tube to his lips, took a deep breath, and blew....... Phlewwww!
We could hear a muffled pop, then the sound of air rushing through as the plug was cleared.
He put the tube back in it's proper place, then closed and locked the door. He put a quarter in the machine and selected "coffee with cream". The machine efficiently delivered the product.
He turned to us, and with his Jack-O-Lantern, Yellow-Green gap-toothed smile said, "There ya go fellas...... all fixed!"

At that point we all decided to soothe our caffeine addiction at the Coca Cola machine.

10 December 2006

Crosswind Landing Gear-

In the video at this post
we discussed, in the comments,
the fact that the gear on one airplane looks as if
it is canted in order to absorb the stresses

of landing in a strong crosswind.

One of the neat things about Blogging is how our
blog-family comes up with
answers to questions.


sent me the addresses of a couple of his friends
that flew Boeings for the airlines.
Both responded to my notes....

Both are Viet Nam Vets,
so I've added new members to my "family". (Thanks TWD!)

"I flew B727's for UPS and B727's /B757's for Northwest
and have several
thousand hours in Boeing products.
The video of the cross wind landings of

Boeings was made at an airport in South America,
can't remember where,
they have high sustained cross winds during
certain parts of the year.
is where Boeing takes their aircraft to test the max
sustainable cross wind
component allowable so they
can validate the engineer's estimates for the

aircraft manuuals. The aircraft are all rigged with
sensors and
instrumentation to measure stress
on various parts of the airframe.
And no,
the gear geometry doesn't adjust for wind component
like the C5 does.

What you see on the video is distortion due to heat
and debris in the wind.

Every time I see that video I have new respect for
Boeing machines.
build a tank, Airbus builds a Humvee."

So there ya have it-
Tough gear, but it doesn't really do anything out of the

ordinary in order to land in strong crosswinds.

08 December 2006

"But It Was Just Sex"

Mid 50's,
Married.... a family man.
At the peak of his career.

He's having more than a little difficulty remaining faithful to his wife.
He gets involved with a woman less than half his age.
His dalliances become public knowledge.
Should he lose his job? After all, "it's just sex. It's his personal business."

Well, if you are President of the United States, you might be able to squirm and keep your job, but Corporate America won't put up with that kind of sleazy behavior!

And the amazing thing-
Apparently this guy actually could say,
"I did not have sex with that woman......"

He no longer works for Pepsi.

05 December 2006

6 Dec.

I nag a lot about history and how we sometimes seem to have learned nothing from it, therefore having to relearn painful lessons.

If I had a time machine, I'd like to go back and experience 6 Dec 1941.
I wonder how many American citizens had any inkling of what was about to happen? Certainly most Americans were aware of the trouble in Europe. But wouldn't it be interesting to find how people felt about the U.S. entering that war? I know a large group wanted no part of the war..... felt it wasn't "our fight". Another large block, including our President, worried about what was happening in Europe, and thought we had to go to war to save Britain and Europe from Nazi dominance. How dissimilar are attitudes today?

I watched a great program last weekend on "The History Channel" that focused on unsolved mysteries surrounding the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. There was some neat stuff about the mini-submarines...... how they may in fact have been more successful than previously thought. If you're interested in the subject,

I recommend you keep an eye out for a re-run of this program.
I believe it was two hours long, and it's worth your time.
(And if you've not been watching the "Dogfight" series on the History Channel, you're missing one of the best depictions of air-to-air combat I've ever seen! They cover dogfighting from WWI to present, with fantastic graphic animation.)

One of the things that stood out about the Pearl Harbor attack is how we're making similar mistakes today-

My EMS flying frequently takes me over a local Air Force Base......

To cross this base, I get permission over the radio:
"##### Tower, Lifeflight 3 is 8 miles East, to flyby midfield, Westbound, at 1500 feet."
"Lifeflight 3..... no traffic reported, cleared to transition as requested."

It's just that easy.
And as I fly across the airfield, I look down and spot 13-707 sized airplanes beneath me, 7 in one row, 6 in another, parked wingtip to wingtip . If I had evil intent, before anyone could do anything to stop me, I could drop an explosive device on the middle airplane in each row, and the ensuing fire might very well involve all 13 airplanes before anyone could do anything to put the fire out.

Similarly, in another town 70 miles away, (this time with a tower that shut down operations just after sundown), I overflew a line of 9 F-16's at the attached Air National Guard Base.
I can only assume many of our aircraft, all across the Nation, are parked similarly.

Some of us think we are at war.
I've commented before on how I worry that our entire Federal Government is packed into one relatively small city, and how much of that Government, including those in the line to assume the Presidency, could be taken out with one relatively small nuclear device. I'd still like to see action taken to spread the Federal Government throughout the Central part of the Nation.
But shouldn't we be on a war footing even when it comes to the small potatoes?
How hard would it be to scatter those aircraft, making it much harder to take them all out with one attack?

Seems like an easy history lesson to me:
Pearl Harbor 101-
"6 December" Americans were pretty naive.
I wonder what advice "8 December" Americans would give us?

03 December 2006

Here It Comes?

Well, maybe. Maybe not. I wish I knew.

Several months back we discussed the insecure economy and market, and talked about buying Gold as a hedge..... just in case.

Now this, from Tennis.com:
Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf just sold their home in the San Francisco area for $20 million.
This is the second highest sale price for a home in their county, yet it's bad news. How can this be?
The highest price paid for a home in their county was $23 million, when they bought this same home a few years back.
So much for Real Estate bein' a "sure thing"!

A personal story:
In 2000, I bought a piece of property in a prime location.
If..... IF I had been smart enough to sell it last year during a window that opened for about 6 months, I could have sold it for four times what I paid.
Now I'm not sure I'd even get a nibble if I put it on the market.
Buyers are taking a "let's wait and see" attitude, watching to see if there is a bottom in sight.

I'm hearing rumblings about A.R.M.'s and "interest only" loans.
Some so-called "experts" are taking on the Chicken Little role, announcing the sky is gonna fall. I have no crystal ball, but I'll repeat the mantra I live by:
"Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."
So, be prepared.
For several reasons, gold still looks like a secure buy.

01 December 2006

Good Enough?

Big egos......
In my career I've been exposed to a lot of them. I own and cultivate one myself, but I think being aware of it tempers it somewhat.
It takes a pretty big ego to be a pilot, thinking your skills are good enough to take the lives of others in your hands.
It also takes a bit of ego to Blog, hoping someone will read your stuff, then agree or disagree strongly enough to punch that comment button and respond. A really big ego can cause problems when those comments are negative!

I think people in general are of the opinion that military officers have some of the biggest egos in the world. As a retired Army Officer I'm not an objective judge, so I won't approach that discussion. But I will tell you, I've met supervisors in my civilian life that could go head-to-head with most of the egos I dealt with before I retired from the military.

The title of my post today refers to an essay posted on the wall behind the desk of one of my last military bosses. He looked enough like H.R. Haldeman, the guy in the picture above, to be his twin brother. Same haircut. Same behavior.........
Ego the size of the Astrodome.

The essay was centered behind his desk, with its title in letters big enough to be read the instant you walked into his office that said, "Beware of Good Enough!"
The essay warned that if you were satisfied with "good enough", you'd be buried by competitors that weren't satisfied with just good enough.
The essay was thought-provoking.
My initial reaction was, "Why isn't good enough, good enough?"
I hated working for this man. He was a first-class jerk. The essay posted on his wall said everything you need to know about him.

A couple years ago, I read a basic engineering book on "How things work".
The book went into detail about several common, everyday things most people work with daily, starting with paper clips, working its way through beverage cans, fax machines, and bridges. It went into great detail about engineering details, how the design of things evolve as cheaper, more efficient ways are found to do the job. But it also discussed how over-engineering something, (making it more than "good enough"), would result in it weighing too much, or being wasteful of resources and not economically competitive in its market.
I immediately thought of my old boss and wanted to mail him the book!

The phrase "Good Enough" pretty much says it all, doesn't it?
As an example, if you are in the market for a quality automobile, you won't go shopping at your local Yugo dealership....... a Yugo isn't "good enough" for you.

But if you are searching for reliable, economical transportation.....
something that won't cost a fortune to insure and maintain.......
there are literally dozens of automobiles you'll need to consider before making your purchase. They meet your needs and are "good enough."
(But does it come in Fuschia?)

But let's get back to my old boss and his attitude-
What was he telling those of us that worked for him, putting that essay in such a prominent place? From the little I've said about him, you obviously can't judge his character. But I'll tell you this- I thought he was a poor leader. I think he wanted his subordinates to fear him.
He succeeded.
And although he always accomplished his mission, I believe those of us that worked for him, seeing him broken down along the road, would have looked the other way as we drove by.

I've been a manager of one thing or another for over 40 years. I've studied the leadership techniques of a lot of people during that time, and I've learned a little something from most of them. I tend to agree with the old saying that "you draw more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."

Here's the leadership style I personally find most effective. See if you agree, or have anything to add:
-Don't ask others to do something you wouldn't do.
-Share as much of the "Why something needs to be done this way" as you can, and be open to suggestions about getting the job done more efficiently.
-Lead in such a way that employees want to do what you ask.
-Use negative reinforcement only as a last resort. When you have to lead negatively, try to find out why positive reinforcing techniques aren't getting the job done.
-Praise all involved for a job well done.
-Share "attaboys" when they are given.

And always be aware that when something is "good enough", it is good enough!
An employee that does work that is good enough is worthy of praise.
Not realizing that may result in that employee moving on, being replaced with someone that does substandard work.
Just make certain you know what is "Good Enough" before you start the job!

26 November 2006

Pointed There, Landing Here

Until my first attempt at crosswind landings, I thought flying an airplane was no more difficult than driving a car. Then, with the benefit of no crosswind training, I lined up to land with a 10 knot direct crosswind and found myself unintentionally touching down parallel to but alongside the runway, in the grass.

K had a similar experience on her first supervised solo,
and because her landing also resulted in nothing more serious than sweaty palms, a raised heartbeat, and newfound respect for the skills of more experienced airplane pilots, it was fun to read about her adventure.

Many of you will already have seen this cool video,
but when I saw it, I immediately thought of K, and of a young Greybeard being taught a lesson in humility.
(Thanks to Alexisparkinn.com for the video.)

25 November 2006


I added this comment to one of the posts below, and then realized it was buried far enough down there, some would not read it-

FD and others-
Thanks to all of you for coming and commenting.
I may mutter "idiot" under my breath when I read your comments, but I truly appreciate the discussion and find those that will stand up and speak their minds SO much more interesting than those that don't have that passion.
Given the choice, my cocktail parties would be populated with passionate folks, not "Casper Milquetoasts"!

Don't you feel that's true?
Wouldn't life be dull if we couldn't have a lively discussion now and then?
Thanks for your attention and comments.
Having read this post, you now know I think it's fine to mutter "idiot" under your breath!

23 November 2006

Yo Ho Ho, Three in a Row!

I love comments.
Even when someone disagrees with my opinion, comments indicate someone out there is reading and has been moved enough to express themselves. That expression is truly a function of our 1st Amendment rights, isn't it?

If you haven't read the two previous posts and accompanying comments, stop now and go read them. This post is an unprecedented "three-fer".

Commenter FlightFire had the cojones to stand up and speak his mind.
Ya gotta admire that..... it's more than many are willing to do.

And he may be on to something I hadn't considered-
We in the U.S. have done a really poor job of marketing ourselves.
He says we need to educate people, (and I'm assuming he means fundamentalist Muslims, because they are the folks that are blowing people up in Israel, Spain, Britain, Indonesia, and the U.S., along with causing chaos in Sweden, France, and scores of other places around the world).

He says, "We need to be sell (sic) America as the kind, generous and strong power instead of the angry, vengeful, defensive power."

A revolutionary idea, wouldn't you agree?
And an idea that certainly bears exploring.
We just need to do a better job of showing extremist Muslims who we truly are!

It set me to thinkin'......
(I know, I know! But bear with me here..... and remember, a lot of this thinkin' was done at 3 A.M.)

I propose an overwhelming, P.R. attack......
a multi-pronged, multi-media barrage, focused to show these fundamentalists we truly mean them no harm.....
that we are really just kind, generous, and strong, (but strong in a fuzzy bunny kind of way.)

And we need to enlist our most talented people in this educational process..... Experts that know exactly how to market what is best and brightest about our society.

Let me lay out my ideas to get us started down the road to peace with fundamentalist Muslims-

1. TV- America the Beautiful
I love the ads during the Superbowl. They command huge dollars, because they showcase the best marketing a company can do, in front of a huge television audience.
And no one does it better than Anheuser Busch!
Imagine the A-B wagon full of Budweiser, being pulled by those gorgeous Clydesdales, rolling down a desert road, so the Clydesdales can meet their distant cousins, the camels, and invite them to come to the U.S. for a visit, where they can teach cousin camel how to kick a field goal!
And after all the exercise, what could possibly be better than to relax with an ice-cold Bud?....
"The choicest product of the brewer's art".

Alternatively, you could produce an ad showing Mohammad, finishing up his prayers, rolling up his prayer rug, then poppin' a top on an ice-cold Bud Lite. He reaches for the phone, and to Omar, Abdul, Gamal, Anwar, and Ishmael says "WHASSSSUUUUUUUPPPPPPPPPP?", in Arabic of course! Funny!

2. Radio- What Happens in the U.S., STAYS in the U.S.!
Don't you love the Las Vegas ads? I know I do.
We could expand on those ads, showing that when Gemayel comes to the U.S., he need not fear that we'll be tellin' anyone about what he does while he is here.
There is a little problem here, with trying to hint what Gemayel might do while he's in the U.S., particularly in a town like Las Vegas, since that might offend a few fundamentalist Muslims, but a talented agency like the one that puts out the Vegas ads can probably figure a way around that.

3. Print- The Land of Opportunity-
I think this is a stroke of genius on my part!
We combine the talents of Playboy magazine,the Democratic National Committee, and President Clinton, and print fliers to distribute, showing that you can be born in a white-trash neighborhood in a little town like Hope, Arkansas, yet still get the education and opportunity to rise and grow to the point you have the job of leading the Free World!
And what benefits come with that job?
While at your desk, on the phone, dealing with Leaders from all over the world, you can be fellated by a Plus-Sized Jewish woman your daughter's age, (who is not your wife)!
What a country!

4. Other Thoughts- (Needs Expanding)
The National Organization for Women could educate wives of fundamentalist Muslims that beatings are cruel and WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
Also, what's with this Burkha thing?
Get rid of that!

I think we need to enlist the help of the North American Man-Boy Love Association for their assistance in producing something to show that we are in fact a "Big Tent" country, willing to accept behavior that might be frowned upon in some fundamentalist countries, which might result in a beheading, or smacking of hands or something there.

In this marketing drive, we really need to show how we are terribly misunderstood as a country and as a people. These fundamentalists just have the wrong idea about us. If they truly knew how diverse and accepting we are as a country, surely they would realize how "generous and kind" we are, and how we are no threat to their fundamentalist vision for the world.

Now my question is, how and when can we start?

21 November 2006

Please, Something to Consider:

Yeah, I'm gonna do something I normally try not to do.....
two political posts in a row.

Comments to that last post were so interesting, I need another hit!

We hear a lot about fear mongering these days.
For heavens sake, we're all so afraid, our comedians are having nervous breakdowns and using racial epithets on stage!
I blame George Bush, don't you?

Lemme back up and make sure I'm clear-
Am I happy with the way things are going in Iraq?
Do I think anyone could have done a better job?
Maybe, but who?
In the last Presidential election, I had a choice between "bad" and "terrible".

I reluctantly held my nose and voted for "bad".

I'm so disappointed in George Bush and other leaders I could scream.
But although I think he's made serious mistakes, I realize his decisions are colored by things I know, and by things I cannot imagine.

One thing I know for sure..... he's dealing with an ignorant constituency.
Do you watch "The Tonight Show, with Jay Leno"?
Ever see the segment he calls "Jaywalking"?
Yeah, it's funny, but in a sad way. It sure seems there are a lot of fools out there.
Does it scare you?
It does me, because I know those folks vote, and I have a pretty good idea, since they're from California, how they vote.

If you get all your news from Jay Leno or David Letterman, or from "The Daily Show", or from Keith Olberman, you're getting a constant bludgeoning of "Bush Lied, people died!"
I know...... I've watched.
I know that if you watch those shows, you won't get the news that the furor over the investigation into republican overseas junkets came to a screeching halt when it was found that many democrats would also be caught in that web.
Or that democrat hopes to pin the "corrupt party" badge on republicans suffered a similar fate when it became obvious the Abramoff scandal would net several democrats if that investigation continued to fruition.

Harry Reid, Jack Murtha, Alcee Hastings and others are a corrupt disgrace to their constituents. Why do we not hear more about them?
Because it doesn't meet the "old media" agenda.
So my friend Neil is correct when he says, in so many words, "a pox on both their houses."

But back to "Bush Lied, people died".
Or, "Iraq is another Viet Nam."
How do we, the old media, insure those statements come true?
By insuring our agenda is front and center, and by ignoring news that doesn't further that agenda.

Let me tell you something that may amaze you.
Something that, if you have any curiosity about you at all, will make you say, "why am I not hearing that on my nightly news?"
And I've already answered that question for you.

What if I were to tell you that over 100 automobiles were being burned in France on a daily basis? Would you believe that?
Surely that's not true, right? We'd certainly hear about that on our "old media" broadcasts, wouldn't we?
No, we wouldn't.

Read this article from the U.K. Times. When the riots first broke out in France, it was big news. Are you surprised to hear that over 100 cars PER DAY are being burned there now?
I was.
And I was more surprised that we haven't heard about that on our news, until I realized the reason why.

OVER 100 CARS PER DAY, AVERAGE! Let's see...... if the rate continues to the end of the year, 100X365 equals over 36,500 cars burned in France this year! Why haven't we heard that?
That's not just big news, that's monstrous news!
But you see..... it doesn't further the agenda-
Bush Lied, people died.
Bush is frightening us.

If we truly knew how much chaos and disruption there is in our world, we might realize that accusations of "fear mongering" ring pretty hollow.
Regular readers know what I mean when I say, "Froggy, isn't the water beginning to be a little too warm for you?"

Jump outta the water, Frog!
Wake up, people!

20 November 2006

Do You Feel a Draft?

Fun, fun, fun.
It's gonna be interesting to watch.
The U.S. Army has
met or exceeded most of its recruiting goals for October. Of course, that was before the mid-term election...... before Kerrys, Murthas, and Durbins were elected to take the reins of government.

Will future recruiting efforts be successful?
Would you be attracted to serve if you knew your leaders thought joining indicated you were stupid?
Well, don't worry about that at all, Bunky!
Our new leaders have an answer to recruiting difficulties:
Revive Selective Service.......
"The Draft".

Charlie Rangel, democrat Representative from New York, and Fritz Hollings, democrat Senator from South Carolina have authored a bill
to revive the Draft. It was submitted and defeated in the previous congress, but it would surely be met with a different attitude now, with new, progressive leadership in place.

And we may need it.
Do you think recruiting numbers will increase, since the favored party of fundamental Islamists now has control of the legislative branch of our government?
Islamic extremism will grow unfettered.
Would you want your son or daughter to join under present conditions?

Big Bubba has no interest in following in his old man's footsteps, and I'm VERY glad for that now.
Let's watch and see what happens to the recruiting numbers, which will indicate if Selective Service is needed. If the democrat's bill passes, and Big Bubba is drafted, we'll be following the "Bubba Bill Clinton" route to military service!

More here.

This article came out just as I was about to publish this post.

15 November 2006

A Favorite Story, Obsoleted

I need your help again. I have a favorite story that is gonna become obsolete soon, for reasons that will be obvious. I hate to lose the story, because it shows how with adversity, sometimes there is opportunity. Let me tell it, and afterwards maybe you can help me find a way to change and perpetuate it:

"The Custodian"

Anxiously, he worked his way to the Vicar's office....
His old boss and friend of 35 years was dead, victim of a heart attack.
Now he was to meet the new Vicar, a man much younger than he, and find out what duties might be expected of him.

He had been Custodian of this Anglican Church for all these years.
Dyslexic, his classmates had been cruel with their teasing. They made such fun of him, he quit school early and was lucky to nail down this job. He was a hard worker, and had maintained a wonderful relationship with the recently departed Vicar.
He and his wife lived a modest, but comfortable life on his wages. They had even socked some money away for their eventual retirement.

Entering the office, he relaxed immediately when he saw the new Vicar's smile and extended hand.
His new boss explained that his work would basically remain the same, with a few additional duties. Then the Vicar dropped the bombshell:
"Now and again, I'll need you to do some Secretarial duties."

"But Vicar, I can't read or write, much less type!"
"Oh my. That IS a problem."

After much discussion, it became obvious the Custodian could not remain in his position.
The Vicar reluctantly had to let him go.

Shaken, the newly fired Custodian leaves the Church.
He pats his pocket....... finds an empty pack.
"Bloody Hell, I should have bought cigarettes on the way to work!"
He needed a cigarette, NOW!
And although he had worked at this Church for 35 years, he really didn't know the surrounding neighborhood all that well. He walked several blocks looking for a tobacconist, to no avail. When he finally stopped and asked directions to the nearest shop, he had to walk several blocks further to get there.

Discussing the situation with his wife, he mentioned how much difficulty he had trying to find a cigarette when he desperately needed one.
Then the light bulb flashed as they both came to the same realization-
That neighborhood needed a tobacco shop!
They withdrew all their savings to start the store. It was a desperate move, but what other recourse did they have?

Their store was an immediate success.
Thereafter, the old Custodian and his wife surveyed other neighborhoods, finding those that had no tobacco store. Soon, he and his wife were managing dozens of stores, and were approached by a large retail concern to buy their business. He and his wife were ready for retirement, so they agreed to sell for a tidy sum.

Closing the deal, the buyer's lawyer handed him a contract to sign.
He responded, "I'll have to allow my lawyer to review this, I can't read or write."
The buyer's lawyer was surprised-
"Imagine how successful you'd have been, had you been able to read and write!"
To which our friend responded, "Yes, I know exactly how successful I would have been......
I'd still happily be Custodian of the Anglican Church just down the street!"

Smoking is under fire. Whole cities are making it illegal to smoke within their boundaries.
I'm seeing more and more "At least I can still smoke in my car" bumper stickers.

Like it or not, it's gonna get more and more difficult to practice the habit.

And that dooms my story.
I'm at a loss to think of any product that will fit in place of tobacco. The story revolves around the fact that the Custodian is so stressed he needs his fix, and he needs it quickly!
Will it work with any product that is not addictive?
Is my favorite story doomed to the scrap heap?
Will I need to just preface it with the setup that "long ago, cigarettes were legal"?
Do you smart folks have a suggestion?

There's No Jack S......

"I did not do anything illegal or unethical."
Tom Delay

"I did not do anything illegal or unethical."
Harry Reid

"I did not do anything illegal or unethical."
John Murtha

"I did not do anything illegal or un...... uhh, NEVERMIND!"
Alcee Hastings.

12 November 2006

Greybeard's Darwin Awards

Somethin' I should have done long ago, I suppose....
I'm sure you've received them via email-
The Darwin Awards.......
awards given to people for doing stupid things that get them hurt or killed.

When I talk with others, I frequently hear the question,
"I bet you see lots of interesting things, don't you?"
Yes, I certainly do.
I respond...... "Just about the time I think I've seen every way there is to hurt yourself, someone comes up with a new twist."

Let me tell you about the Darwin candidates I've flown this month........
All involve alcohol consumption:

Candidate number one was a 14 year old male.
Folks that work in the ER have heard the start of his story often-
"I was just walkin' down the street minding my own business, when......."
This youngster had run away from home three days earlier.

Even at 14, he was intoxicated enough that I could smell him in the front of the aircraft.
While walking down the street, an unknown party, for an unknown reason, threw a glass bottle of something flammable at his feet, bursting the bottle and splashing much of his body with the liquid.
Candidate #1's reaction?
Time to light up a cigarette!
Result- 1st and 2nd degree burns over 35% of his body!
And he's lucky. It could have been much worse.

Candidate number two was less original. He tried an old method I have responded to all too many times: Get a bellyful of alcohol, then drive the wrong way on the Interstate highway.
Landing on the shut-down Eastbound lanes of the highway, I could see he had driven his car into the face of a tractor/trailer, resulting in compound fractures of femurs in both his legs. He'll be mighty sore for a while, IF he survives.

Candidate number three, a local college student, was celebrating his 21st birthday. He returned to his fraternity house with a blood alcohol content of .03........ drunk three times over.
When his key didn't work in the door, he did the only thing a drunk 21 year old could think of under the circumstances: He broke the window in the door with his fist. This resulted in a to-the-bone laceration of his right arm at the bicep, severing an artery, giving our candidate a pretty good chance of bleeding to death on the front porch. Fortunately for him, the residents of the house responded to the noise, put pressure on the wound, and called 911. There's a slim possibility, with skill and God's grace, that his arm can be saved.
Why didn't his key didn't work in the lock?
He was at the wrong address........ he lived next door!

These three "Darwins" have happened during the last 30 days.
Let me think a while about others I have transported, and I'll share those with you later, along with any innovative new ones I might encounter.

09 November 2006

Trang Van Nguyen

That Huey is evacuating the last of the Americans from Saigon in 1975.
I hadn't seen this image before. It's a different angle than the famous image we normally see of this event-
Interesting, in that he has a big chunk of that left skid off the pad, which means he had to be hovering while people got aboard the helicopter.
From this perspective it looks like all he had to do was slide forward four feet or so, and he'd have been more secure on that pad. Wonder why he didn't?
Was he in that much of a hurry?
Maybe. There are a bunch of folks on that ladder.

Now, to the task at hand-
How much do you know about Viet Nam?
We've discussed the fact that President Johnson probably led us into that war under false pretenses, rightfully causing much of the valid suspicion of our government today. But once committed to defeating the Vietnamese communists, shouldn't we have finished the job we started?

Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. We know now if we had ignored Walter Cronkite and stuck to our task, history would read differently for us, and millions of Vietnamese citizens would still be alive.
I want to tell you the story of one of them:

When I first started flying EMS, we made our shift change at 10 A.M..
By the time I briefed the oncoming pilot and finished all my paperwork, it frequently was closer to 11 A.M..
On those occasions, I would often run to the closest Chinese restaurant and get food to take home and share with Sara Jean.

The proprietor of the restaurant, a young asian man, would smile at me as the waitress took my order.
Wearing my "Captain's uniform", I stood out like a weed among the daisies.
On about my fourth visit, he came from behind the counter and asked in good, but accented English, "what line do you fly for?"
"I'm a helicopter pilot. I fly the helicopter ambulance here in town."
"Oh? Were you trained by the ARMY?"
"Yes sir, I was."
"Were you in my country?"

And at this point, we became friends.
"Are you Vietnamese?"
"Yes, I am."
"Then yes, I was in your country!"

The next few times I came, he refused payment for my food. I finally had to tell him if he wouldn't allow me to pay, I would quit patronizing his restaurant. After that, I'd get home and find extra large portions and items of food I hadn't ordered in my sack.
I resorted to leaving a big tip.

He introduced himself as "Tony".
I later found out his real name was Trang Van Nguyen.
Tony was 13 when that picture was taken in 1975.
Tony's father was the Commander of the South Vietnamese Air Force.
When it became obvious Saigon would fall, his Dad parked a Huey and Pilot in Tony's back yard. When the enemy tanks rolled into the heart of the city, his Dad loaded the entire family onto the Huey, told them he was staying to continue the fight, stepped off the skid, and saluted them goodbye as the Huey departed for the safety of an American ship just over the horizon. Tony hasn't heard from his Father since. It's unlikely his Dad survived the ensuing purge...... those with strong links to the old Republic of Viet Nam government or the United States were quickly "neutralized" as political risks.

We had it won.
But our enemy was more dedicated, more disciplined, had a long-term vision, and the stomach for a long, dirty fight.
We Americans have a VERY short attention span.

So here we are again.
President Clinton called for regime change in Iraq. We accomplished that.
Now it appears we'll abandon the Iraqi people to a horrible fate, as we did Tony's Dad.
Arab perceptions of us as weak and unable to take a punch are validated.
We are weak. We will get what we deserve.
I'm dismayed, but unsurprised.

If you are a Sunni Arab in Iraq, you are now terrified.
You're probably a better student of American history than the average American.
The bloodbath is coming.

08 November 2006

How D'ya Spell That?

Filibuster. That's how it's spelled.
Gridlock. That's what it means.

And that may be a good thing.
It'll sure be interesting to watch.

06 November 2006

Ants, Grasshoppers, and Pregnancy At 13

I love the story of the Ants and the Grasshopper!

You remember it, don't you?
All Summer long the ants work hard putting food away for the coming Winter, while the grasshopper fiddles away having fun.

The ants warn the grasshopper he needs to prepare for hard times, but he's having 'way too much fun to be troubled with work.

"Don't worry- be happy!" Somehow, things will work out.

When the weather turns deadly and the grasshopper is about to freeze to death, the gracious ants take him in and share the fruits of their labor with him, allowing him to "sing for his supper".
Moral: Don't waste time with working hard. Hard work is for weak people that later can easily be taken advantage of with a good "hard luck" story.

I frequently listen to talk radio while driving late at night.
One night a few years ago, the host was talking with the Junior High School teacher of a school in a large city. She made the comment, "my 12 and 13 year old girls know TO-THE-PENNY, (her emphasis), what they will receive in welfare benefits when the have their first baby! They know TO-THE-PENNY, how much they will receive when they have their second baby!"

Remember now, we're talking about 12 and 13 year old girls!

These little girls fantasize about being "grown up" and having babies.
They know, from such an early age, there is no need for them to make long term plans, because the system has a safety net in place for them.

Fathers? They had no Father!
We don't need no stinking Fathers!
We just want a baby that will love us!

So here we have a vicious circle:
Babies having babies.
Babies whose home lives are unstable.
Babies that think their lives will improve if they just have something they can love that loves them in return.
Babies trapped because, being pregnant or saddled with a child, they get no education.
They're like our friend the grasshopper, except I'm not sure they get the warning the ants gave the grasshopper......
they don't have time to get even that much education when they're pregnant at 13 or so.

We have to figure out a way to break this cycle.
Our children need to realize, from an early age, that a good education is one step in the stairway to a successful life. Our children's education should include how to avoid a dead-end life by avoiding early pregnancies, so necessary skills can be learned to prepare for living independently.

It also couldn't hurt to tell the story of the Ants and the Grasshopper early and often, with more emphasis on the grasshopper as a character to be pitied.

02 November 2006

Five Minutes of Office Banter

I think my kid is brilliant.
He'll graduate with a Degree in Communications-Radio/TV in December.

As a class assignment he wrote, produced, directed, and recorded this piece
with classmates.

I was moved. You may be too.

30 October 2006

In the DNA?

Thanks Sis, for the memory jog.

That cobby looking airplane is a BT-13 Vultee, a WWII trainer.
The "BT' stood for "Basic Trainer".
Pilots that flew it affectionately called it "the Vultee Vibrator".
It had a big, noisy, radial engine, and an adjustable propellor. It's the first airplane I remember my old man flying. He'd come over our house fairly low, put the propellor in the flat pitch setting, and push the throttle to the firewall.......
The resulting roar announced to everyone in three counties that my old man was "in the 'hood".
Of course I was proud...... that was my Dad flyin' that thing!

Dad had three brothers.
All learned to fly. Two survive, and still fly now and then.
An Aunt surprised me recently with an interesting story-
Dad's older brother washed out of Navy Flight School.
Caught red-handed flying beneath a bridge that spanned a river, he was reassigned to the Battleship "West Virginia", where, on December 7, 1941, he had a front row seat for the morning activities. He swam to safety as the ship sank in Pearl Harbor.

Mom and Dad were both in the Civil Air Patrol after the war.
The C.A.P. exposed them to different people and different airplanes, one of which was that Vultee Vibrator.
As a very young lad, I can remember accompanying Dad to Sky Harbor airport in Indianapolis, an airport long since covered with expensive homes.
It's fun to remember walking toward the flight line and through the gate with the sign that warned:
"Pilots and Passengers only beyond this point."
With my Dad, I was accepted in an exclusive club!

Growing up with Pilot/Father, I assumed I would eventually learn to fly. But I always had six things goin' on at once- I never had a burning desire to start. I guess I always thought I'd learn when it just became so convenient to do, I couldn't avoid it any longer. I also thought, wrongly, that Dad could teach me. Well, he could have taught me many things, but not legally..... he wasn't a Flight Instructor.

We had the typical tense relationship while I was a teenager.
Fiercely independent, but proud of one another, we were both "Macho" guys, and clashed a lot while I lived at home. It wasn't until I was drafted and away from home that I realized how in spite of the conflict he had gently guided my path.......
had always been RIGHT THERE! every time I needed him.

He showed his pride in me when I graduated from Officer's Candidate School...... Grandmother on one shoulder, Dad on the other, they pinned the "butter bars" to my uniform.
He was doubly proud of me when I added a set of wings to that uniform.
That gave us something concrete to share for the rest of our lives...... our love of flying.

We flew together some.... not nearly as much as I would have liked.
We went to OshKosh and other airshows. He knew much about airplanes and shared his knowledge with this ignorant helicopter pilot.
When he was old, he made one trip to California with me to ferry a new helicopter home. It took us 19 hours over a three day period to fly that machine home, and although I never had the time to teach him to hover, he was perfectly comfortable cruising in it within a couple hours.
I think he was on the controls more than I was during that trip.
Friends tell me it was one of the highlights of his life.
It's certainly a memory I will forever cherish.

Dad was good at many, many things, and flying was one of them.
My pride in watching him roar over our house in that BT-13 planted the seed that grew and put me where I am today.

Sis thinks flying is in our blood.
I won't argue with her.

25 October 2006


I have a terrible admission to make. It may upset some of you.
I shop at Wal-Mart.
I shop at Wal-Mart a lot!

Talking with a classmate last weekend, she let me know in no uncertain terms that she DOES NOT shop at Wal-Mart because she doesn't agree with their marketing policies.
I can understand that, and I respect her decision. Wal-Mart is such a huge organization, they can, and do throw their weight around. I've heard horror stories about how they forced suppliers to live by their rules in order to sell their merchandise at Wal-Mart.
An acquaintance didn't want to play their game and simply withdrew his offer to sell his goods at Wal-Mart. He was disappointed, but that was his choice.

There is no question you can buy stuff at Wal-Mart cheaper than you can buy it elsewhere.
A friend that owned a Gasoline Service Station said he could buy oil at Wal-Mart cheaper than his supplier could sell it to him. I buy my oil, oil filters, batteries, and tires almost exclusively at Wal-Mart. Doing so, I save a few pennies over purchasing these items somewhere else.

I tell you all this to set up the following story:
At the Wal-Mart cashier station, I noticed three pennies lying on the floor and stooped to pick them up. When I expressed my surprise that someone dropped them and wouldn't pick them up, the cashier, a young woman, said, "You wouldn't want to hear what I do with mine!"
So of course I asked- "What do you do with them?"
"I throw them away."

How much money does this young woman make, working as a cashier at the world's largest retailer, that she is financially well off enough to throw pennies in the trash?
How do I get a job like that?

Admittedly, I pick pennies up partly to reinforce the fact that I am one of the cheapest people on the face of the earth...... it's expected of me.
But I was tempted to ask her, "If I bring a jar to your house, rather than throw them away, will you throw your pennies into it?"


24 October 2006


We went home last weekend.
Central Indiana is home. I've grown to hate cold winters, so returning there full time is out of the question. But a big part of me was carved out of the soil and the people of that area. Ours was a relatively small, mostly farm community.

One of the things that I loved about home was the sunsets. Returning from fetching something from the car, I snapped this photo and smiled. Rolling hills, green, green grass, and enough clouds to make the sky interesting..... sunsets are frequently gorgeous at "home". And although you can't see it in this photo, the trees really show off this time of year!

You may remember that I was plucked from home in 1966. "The Draft" seems foreign now, doesn't it? But it was a way of life for me and my peers. Graduating from High School, those of us that didn't get married and didn't go to college knew that our Uncle Sam would come calling soon. My Draft notice came exactly one year after I graduated High School.

I had spent all the life I could remember in the same bedroom in the same house. Mom and Dad stayed together, so my family life was also stable, if not solid as a rock. Being drafted, therefore, was a pretty big shock to this 19 year old that had known very little of what went on outside my sheltered community.

I don't know how to put into words how homesick I was. My heart ached. I don't mind telling you that during the first weeks of basic training at Ft. Knox, Ky., the only thing that kept me from crying myself to sleep was the friendship and support of a High School classmate in the bunk above me.
Thank you Dave H!

The first few ARMY years, I would drive home every chance I got, then run around the old stomping grounds trying to reconnect with friends. It was difficult. They had moved on to the next level in their lives, and I was trying to turn back the clock. It was unsatisfying for me, and probably puzzling for them.

It took a few years, but I realized the most satisfying way to come home was to announce the dates I would be there, so those that really wanted to see me could seek me out. That way, I wasn't interjecting myself where I wasn't wanted. I realized pretty quickly who my true friends were.

High School reunions have been somewhat like that. I went to several of them, and like my first attempts to reunite with old friends after being drafted, they left me feeling empty. The reunions would attract lots of classmates, but we seemed to talk AT one another, rather than TO one another.

The last few have been wonderful. I think now that we are more mature, maybe more secure, we are genuinely interested in what has brought all of us to this point in our lives.
But we've also arrived at a formula for our reunions that contributes to a more comfortable atmosphere: the "Mini" reunion.

We had the first of them more than two years ago, and only 7 people attended. Several of us that hadn't seen one another in years had gotten in touch via email, and we decided to meet at one of our classmates home, centrally located for all. As we left in the evening, our faces hurt from laughing.

If you have one reunion every 5 or 10 years, a large number of folks aren't gonna be able to attend, for one reason or another. Life is like that these days....... our calendars fill up all too quickly.
But if you have several "Mini" reunions in a year, more dates are opened up for people to attend. Those that cannot attend on date "A", may be able to attend on date "B". Over the year, if you attend two or three of these minis, you may see several people you haven't seen in years.

And that is what happened last weekend. Three people attended that I had not seen since May of 1965. Once again, it's hard to describe the feelings........ seeing these people after all these years.

My heart no longer aches. Can a heart smile? I think mine is grinning from ear to ear!
We have several minis planned for the future. I may not be able to attend all of them, but I'm sure as heck gonna try.

20 October 2006

Desi and Lucy

(Click the pic for a better look.)

Destin the miniature Doxie on the left, and Lucy the who-knows-whatsit on the right, on Sara Jean's lap. Poor Lucy is finally getting a chance to settle down, and we are gonna uproot her again. She found us on a Saturday. The following Thursday, she slept 95% of the trip to Destin, Florida... a GREAT traveler!

She quickly learned her way around the condo in Destin, but never got accustomed to walking along with us on our "walkees", so we sometimes left her in her pet taxi as we walked off the calories.

Ten days later, she was back in the car headed Northbound, once again sleeping like the Princess she is. We were interested to see how Desi would react to her return. The concern was wasted... they took up right where they left off. Desi loves Lucy, but they tussle continuously!

He tips the scales at twice her weight, and his lower center of gravity gives him a definite advantage, but her energy makes up for any deficit. She won't leave him alone. When her attention is distracted elsewhere, he turns the tables on her to bring her focus back to him.
It's almost exactly like watching a couple of kids!

She's probably half again as big and heavy as she was when she found us. Her coat is shinier, fuller, and blacker, almost certainly because she's no longer eating scraps off the street. The two of them are jealous of one another at the doggy dish... both try to empty it to keep the other from getting the larger portion. Desi has certainly gained weight. We'll have to begin to watch their weight and limit the amount of food we put down at some point in the future.

Today, (Friday), Sara Jean and I depart for Indiana to attend another mini-class reunion. We got the okay from our hosts to bring Lucy with us to visit Elle, the long-haired Chihuahua in residence there. I'm excited to see the two little dogs get to know one another.

Desi will stay home to keep Big Bubba company and protect the house in our absence. Sunday night Desi and Lucy will once again be reunited, with no more separations on the horizon.

Housebreaking and other adjustments are going well. We all have adjusted to her... she's made all our lives brighter. She's quickly become an integral part of our family.

So now you can put a face with the name...
Thanks to all of you that showed an interest in her via comments and email!

16 October 2006

Getting Fat in Paradise

Remember, we just returned from 10 days in what we consider to be one of the most beautiful places on earth: Destin Florida.
The beaches there are literally white as snow. At night, sitting in a beachfront restaurant with a window seat, a Northerner can easily be lulled into thinking she is looking at snow- they use snow fences to control the drift of sand the same way Northern fences keep snow off highways where it snows and blows.

We love the beaches, and we love the restaurants on the beaches.
We try to visit at least one place where we've never eaten each time we go to Destin. That's easy...... there are LOTS of good places to eat! And there are a few that fall into a "must return" category.

Some of those are ratty looking. Some are definitely upscale.
What will cause you to return to a restaurant?
For me, the food is the focus, but while we're in Destin, other factors also come to mind.

First, make sure to bring your checkbook or credit card.
I try to take a quick look at a menu before we are seated to eat, so I know whether we need to discretely duck out the door before embarrassing ourselves. Sometimes that's not really the best technique...... let me tell you why-
One restaurant we enjoy would scare you off if you looked only at the bottom line. But the food is very good, and when you've eaten enough of your entree that you are turning green, there is enough food left on your plate to comfortably feed two more people. A "doggy bag" is procured, and for lunch the next day I will frequently eat the rest of what Sara Jean ordered while she checks to see if my order, a day old, is as tasty as hers was the night before.
Dividing the overall cost by making two or three meals out of one, makes the tab seem much more reasonable.

This time down we met old friends at a place called "Baytowne Wharf".
It's a beautiful area with lots of shops and restaurants, located in Sandestin, Florida. When you arrive, you know your meal is gonna be dear.......

someone has to pay for the wonderful atmosphere.
We allowed our friends to choose the restaurant. They picked a place, a chain, that serves good Bar-B-Que. Sara Jean and I had eaten in another of their locations in another town and enjoyed the food there. While I'm near the ocean I try to eat seafood, because it is fresh and we cannot get great seafood at home. This restaurant specialized in cooking beef, so I was not surprised that my fried fish dinner was less than spectacular. The food was good, not great, and when the check came we could tell who was paying for the ambiance.....

we were!
We'll surely go back to Baytowne Wharf, but we won't be returning to this restaurant.

Polo shirt, shorts, and sandals will suffice in 95% of the restaurants here.
I've eaten in a dockside diner where Mallards literally patrolled beneath the tables for the errant scrap dropped by the careless (sometimes intentionally) diner.

I loved the food, (breakfast in this case), and the price was really right.

It all really does boil down to a formula that probably works for most people:
Seat me fairly quickly.
Take my order shortly thereafter.
Serve good food and serve a portion large enough for me to take some home in a plastic container.
If you meet those requirements you'll quickly have trouble with the first two requirements, because customers will beat a path to your door.

It's okay to charge a fairly high price for good food, providing I'm surprised by the quantity served.

We eat well and often while in Destin.
You can also see why we walk 2 miles, twice daily while we're in town!