30 January 2006

Size Matters

In this earlier post I discussed the history of the M1911 .45 calibre automatic.

Some years ago, in a controversial decision, the Army switched from the .45 to the 9mm Beretta as their sidearm.

It now appears that in the big bullet vs. smaller bullet comparison, we are taking another look at the big bullet.

Everything old is new again!

(The comments are interesting.)

28 January 2006

"The Kiss"

Oh no, this ain't goin' where you might imagine!

To fly with my company as a Paramedic or Nurse, you have to have at least 5 years experience in emergency care. So all my Paramedics have been out on the street in ambulances, and have "seen the elephant.......heard the owl."

In another of those late night conversations, one of my favorite Paramedics was talking about airbags, and the perfect lipstick prints he sometimes finds on bags in cars driven by women.
The bag deploys, and the lady "kisses" it as the bag does it's job protecting her.

The thought brought a smile to my face. A good Ad Agency should make an advertisement with an example of this phenomenon.

We also talked about another circumstance. Frequently, particularly when I'm driving long distances and tired, I cross my hands on the steering wheel so my right hand is on the left, and vice-versa. This places my forearms just over the airbag, crossed.
My Paramedic advises me that he also takes patients to the hospital that have put their arm or arms over the bag, only to break their nose with their own extremities.

Take it as a caution from someone that does it too often.........it's better to have nothing between you and the deploying airbag.
That "kiss" needs to be unobstructed.

26 January 2006

I Have No Savings!

(A reminder.....I'm a pilot, not a professional financial advisor.
Do your homework and make your own decisions.)

Big news on financial programs last week:
For the first time since "The Great Depression",
the U.S. population had a NEGATIVE savings rate.

Wow, that's terrible news, isn't it?
Surely we are on the verge of economic collapse!

Well, maybe not.
I'm more worried about current political issues than what I consider some egghead's incorrect definition of savings.

How much money did you put into passbook savings accounts last year?
How 'bout a Certificate of Deposit......
most of which earn about 1% right now.
I'm sure you invested a potload in those, didn't ya?

Me neither.

And that is the definition of "savings" economists are using as their yardstick:
Passbook savings, Christmas savings accounts, Certificates of Deposit......
none of those even keep up with inflation, so virtually no one is using them as an investment vehicle.

Since I have had access to one, I have participated fully in my 403b or 401k plan at work. That means a good chunk of my salary goes into a variety of Mutual Funds, and my employer matches a certain percentage on top of that.
Obviously, I'm hopeful those investments will pay dividends in the future.

But none of that is counted as "Savings"in this definition.

Got an I.R.A.?
Not counted.
An S.E.P.?
Keogh plan?
Nein, negative, nosirree.......that's not "savings".

I'm beginning to think my "virtual/adopted" son
Infinitegtr may have the right idea about putting a portion of your money in assets you can hold in your hand, or bite to check for authenticity.........
I'm talking Gold, dear readers.
(Silver or platinum can also be considered, but take the term "hold in your hand" literally.)

I've been accused before of being alarmist. But I have always subscribed to the adage:
"Hope for the best, plan for the worst."
That way, you have most situations covered.

We are looking at ugly situations in at least two spots on the globe:
Iran and Korea.
Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is also flexing his muscles, currying favor with China, Iran, and Cuba.

If we turn Iran or Korea into a glowing wasteland,
or if Iran or Venezuela shut down their oil contribution to the Western world,
or China decides shocking our economy is more important than serving their #1 market..........
a handful of gold coins will serve you better than a wheelbarrow full of greenbacks.

And the great thing is, even if I am wrong, wrong, wrong about all this,
the coins will always have some value.

I hope that you, like me, have been participating in the current market upswing.
If so, don't be too worried hearing all the screaming about "negative savings"........
That comes from using a strange definition.
But you have probably experienced an increase in portfolio value over the last year.

It might be a good time to take a look at your portfolio and consider covering your "worst case" scenario.

25 January 2006

January 25, 1947

That would be 59 years ago, wouldn't it?


That's the day Al Capone died.
It's also the day an actress named Leigh Taylor Young was born. She later married Ryan O'Neal.
And later divorced him......irreconcilable differences or mental cruelty, I suppose.

Greybeard's Mom had a package arrive that day......red, squirming, and fussing. It was a special day for her, and for me.

I guess it's good to mark Birthdays as special. A time to reflect on where ya been and where you're goin'. And if you're fortunate enough to survive another year, they just keep coming,
so it really makes no sense to fret about 'em.

And 59.........
Still starts with fifty, so that's not so bad, right?
And I have an entire year to adjust to the fact that my next birthday will be the portal to another decade, starting with the dreaded "6".
Any age starting with a six is undeniably old, isn't it?

I take some solace in the fact that others say, "well, ya don't look it." when they hear my age.
It's comforting to hear, even if they're lying to me.
My health is great. My mind still works well enough to figure out how to post on my blog. I wake in the morning looking forward to the day.

And something that I hope all of you experience........
Wisdom can come with age, if you allow it.
I know I still have much to learn. I'm more willing to learn now than I have ever been.
I'm lucky enough to have a teaching job, and I enjoy that too. Oddly, while teaching, I learn more.
I know what makes me happy, and I'm better at avoiding people and things that complicate my life.

Flying the helicopter ambulance is a constant reminder that in spite of all we do, none of us is promised a sunrise tomorrow morning.

So my wish to you today is that you enjoy your life. Surround yourself with people and things that stimulate you, make you feel good, make you smile.

I want to thank those of you that stop by "Pitchpull" to visit, particularly those that leave comments to let me know how my thoughts affect you.
My "virtual" family has become a source of enjoyment and stimulation.........and smiles to me.

With your help, I can handle 59. But next year?
I may take a hint from Jack Benny.

Well, it didn't break the camera!

22 January 2006

The Communist News Network

After I found out CNN had been censoring their News output in order to keep Saddam Hussein happy, the only reason I ever watched the network was to catch Robin Meade, left,

or Rudi Bakhtiar, lower right, reading the headlines.

(I know......Dirty Old Man!)

Robin is the morning anchor for CNN's "Headline News", and she is a hoot. I'd buy dinner just to watch her chew.

Rudi anchored CNN/HN's night desk, and didn't have the platform to show her personality much. She's just easy on the eyes.

I turned on "Fair and Balanced" Fox News this afternoon, and guess who I saw?

Rudi, Rudi, Rudi!

It's obvious Fox knows how to get men to watch.....
They took Martha MacCallum from MSNBC a year ago.

C'mon Robin!
I know how to increase your viewership with one simple move!

P.S. A thought to counter any idea that Fox is nothing but a beauty pageant:
Robert Novak is in, Laurie Dhue is gone!

20 January 2006

The Lone Ranger

Gonna show my age:

We got our first TV in the early 50's.
I can remember getting up in the morning, turning the TV on, and watching the "Test Pattern" until programming began.

I have fond memories of many of the shows on the tube back then:
"I Love Lucy".
"The Honeymooners".
"20th Century".

Some time back, one of our independent stations advertised they had acquired the rights to show a real favorite of mine from those days, "The Lone Ranger".
They were going to air the show early in the morning, in a time slot where I could watch as I ate breakfast while getting ready for work. I can remember being pretty excited when I heard the announcement!

Boy, Oh Boy!......
Something sure happened to the acting on that show during the time it was dormant.....
Acting was terrible, plot lines were thin to non-existent.
I didn't watch long, and apparently others didn't either. The show didn't stay in that time slot for more than a couple months.

The shows I listed above have aged well, and along with "The Twilight Zone", "Dick Van Dyke", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", some can be seen in syndication today.

Some that I enjoyed then that I would love to see but haven't seen since their original airing, maybe because there weren't enough of them made to sell in syndication, are: "Make Room For Daddy", "Have Gun Will Travel", and "Father Knows Best".

Of course maybe, like "The Lone Ranger", I'd be disappointed to find my memory of the quality of those shows was better than the reality!

Big Bubba and the 20 Jan. Open Forum

That's my kid over there.

6' 3" and 250 lbs.......
he takes after his maternal grandfather.
(Photo by his Old Man, who is very proud of him.)

Once again, if you have something on your chest,
feel free to post your comment here.

18 January 2006


"Your patient is a 39 year old male, trauma inflicted by a Bull."

We do a lot of stuff that gets routine to us......this time of year we carry a lot of Cardiac patients to get the specialized care they need in the "Big City".

Trauma patients are a break from the relative boredom of all the heart stuff.
And this one.......inflicted by a Bull!

You remember the game:
I land and cool down the engines while my crew goes in to "kick death in the butt".

I shut the helicopter down and walk into the ER to see CPR in progress on this guy.......
Easily 6 feet tall and all of 250 pounds........not much fat on him at all......solid.
He got into a stall with a cantankerous 2,500 pound Bull, and the animal crushed him against the wall.

"Everyone clear?"
"Everyone clear?"

It's the one thing they get right in movies and TV shows......
the patient literally jumps about 4 inches off the bed.

Once more:
"Everyone clear?"

Back to CPR.
"Give him some Eppie!".........adrenaline, to further kick his heart in gear.
"Chest tubes!".........
to drain blood from his chest cavity, and make breathing easier.
Blood drips all over the floor.

I move to the reception desk
and watch the monitor for trauma room 1.
Heart rate is 34. The wave shown on the monitor is 'way abnormal, and in small red letters above the wave it says, "V-tach."
Better than nothin', but not much.

After the adrenaline is given, I watch the numbers climb......58, 75, 105, 125.......
But the heartwave is still strange lookin'.
Within a few minutes, the numbers retreat........100, 80, 65, 50, back to 34.
More Eppie......
Roller Coaster.
"We need blood! Where's the blood?"

"We crossed and matched the last of it!"

The numbers start back up, and again reach 125. Wave still looks terrible.

The Sister from Pastoral care comes in with three women, obviously sisters.
The one in the middle sees the CPR in progress and her knees buckle.
Her sisters support her.
She wails.
They escort her into the trauma room with her husband.
I'm incredulous, but this is the way they do things today.

Blood arrives from a nearby hospital.
They give it, but our patient is bleeding it internally just as fast as they can administer it.

The door to the waiting room opens.
Mom and Dad maybe, and a brother?
Strong smell of cow manure........
In the middle of this confusion........a comforting smell to a pilot raised in farm country.

Wife's sisters both on cell phones, telling others "it's bad."
More folks through the door. This hospital has a very liberal policy about this.
Within this gaggle is the 12 year old son.
This boy has the "100 yard stare" of a combat veteran.
Face, arms, and from the waist down.....covered in mud. (Or manure?)

I overhear a conversation about the boy.
Last year, a huge round hay bale fell on his grandfather breaking both his legs, and the boy was the only help the old man could depend on. The boy got on a tractor with a front-end loader and pushed the bale off his granddad, then loaded him in the bucket and drove him to get help.
He made the TV news as a local hero.
Tonight, he used the same tractor to load his Dad and rush for help.
They bring the boy over and introduce me as "the Pilot that will fly your Dad to get him help."
I hug him.
I cry.
I'm ashamed of myself for maybe taking away any hope he might have.

Heart numbers up, down, then up again, and stabilize somewhat.
It's been two-and-a-half hours since we landed.

We load him for the 19 minute flight to the Trauma Center.
Four minutes from landing, he arrests again.

He dies.

Sometimes you do your best, and it just ain't enough.
Tonight, the Bull won.

17 January 2006

Puppy Breath

Avid "Pitchpullers" know the story of "Little Bubba", our miniature Dachshund that was hit and killed while protecting me from evil grey squirrels. Those that don't know the story can quickly come up to speed by reading old posts:



then here .

The lady that bred Little Bubba is a friend,
and was as crushed as we to hear he had died.
She immediately bred Little Bubba's Mother again,
mostly to supply us with another pup.
She was ecstatic when she called to tell us the bitch was pregnant, and proudly announced we would have a "Christmas Puppy".

When the puppies were born, Sara Jean and Big Bubba went over to look them over, and picked the pup from the litter that most reminded them of Little Bubba in looks and personality. We all went over to handle and visit him as often as possible, hoping to help avoid "separation anxiety" and the crying stage that pups generally go through for two or three nights when you first bring them home. Sara Jean invested a great deal of time in this effort.

On Christmas Eve,
the breeder drove into our driveway and presented us with the pup.
Like Little Bubba, he was tiny.
I asked how old he was.........5 weeks.
To me, that seemed mighty early to wean a pup.

She gave us goat's milk and said we should mix it with a little water and try to get him to eat often.......every three hours or so, if possible.
He was cute as a bug.
He slept most of Christmas Eve, but was feisty while he was awake.
He also slept most of Christmas day. He didn't have much of an appetite......wasn't at all interested in the goat's milk.

We had planned on taking off on a little vacation in paradise during the week between Christmas and New Year's. I got off work the morning of the 26th expecting to rush home, put Wife, Son, and new Pup in the car,
and get an early start South.

Big Bubba woke in the wee hours and found the pup dead.
He had been shivering terribly, and Big Bubba covered him with a feather pillow to try to warm him. The pup died without a whimper of warning.

I came home to tears all around.
It brought to the surface the pain of losing "Little Bubba" all over again.
We all were crushed.
I called the breeder to tell her, and you can imagine her reaction.......
"Take him to the Veterinarian and I'll call and have an autopsy done."

She wasn't accusing us, but needed to know if she was going to get similar calls from owners of other new pups from this same litter.

I was surprised to find the Vet. open the day after Christmas.
We dropped the poor guy off as we headed Southbound.

The verdict?
Hypoglycemia........low blood sugar.
In her attempt to deliver a pup for Christmas, our friend weaned this little guy too early.
He couldn't thrive.

Of course, this made our mood even worse, thinking of how this poor little fella may have suffered during his too short life!

We were halfway to the Panhandle when Sara Jean's cell rang.
It was the breeder.
"I sold a pup to a gal that made a present of it to her 84 year old Mother.
The pup is too much for the old gal, and she is bringing it back.
Are you interested in him?"

I couldn't hear the conversation, but saw the tears start to flow.
Sara Jean announced the news to Big Bubba and me.
Then there were tears all around!

She put this pup back on Mom's teat for two weeks.
When we got home, he was strong and rambunctious.
He is black and tan, as opposed to Little Bubba's beautiful red coloration.
He does not have Little Bubba's personality........he's much more aggressive.

But he is already a member of our family.
He's smart as a whip.....stops to watch TV, and watches the screen scroll up on my laptop while he helps me blog.
He's already showing signs of being housebroken at 8 weeks of age.
And he has "Puppy Breath", which we have decided smells a little like coffee.......all pups have it......a comforting smell.

Like Little Bubba, he burrows beneath the covers to find the warmest spot of my body to take a nap.

He's healing a huge wound.
How do we not spoil him rotten?

12 January 2006

Friday the 13th! Open Forum Time!

Superstitious? Just a little maybe?
Be careful out there!

Sara Jean and I are driving South again today.
It was 61 here today, but will be in the 20's tonight......
a great time to be buggin' out!

Pray for safe travels for us. I'll keep you posted if anything
extraordinary happens.

In the meantime,
if you have something you absolutely need to get off your chest.....
Or you just have to share some great news....
leave a comment!

Can't Help Myself!

C'mon now......
You know you've thought the same thing!
P.S. Sorry for the quality of the photos. Blogger just didn't want to cooperate!

11 January 2006

GM, Chrysler, Ford, Citroen?

Regular readers know the story of our last new car purchase.
It was a Chrysler LHS, and it has served us pretty well.........193,000 miles now.

Several planets will come into alignment at the end of the year:
Big Bubba will get his degree, so college costs go away.
I will start drawing my Army Reserve Retirement.
I'll be eligible, if I want, to start withdrawing
I.R.A./403b/401k funds without penalty.

I have no idea how my life will change at the end of the year......
Things at my EMS job are in a state of flux.
I'm getting old and grumpy and I'm not adjusting as quickly as I once did.
I'm seriously taking a look at retirement, or at least semi-retirement.

But back to the subject of this post.
We are gonna need new rolling stock within the year, and I enjoy researching a new car purchase for a while.
The question on the table is this:

What's the best way to go?

Sis bought a Kia Optima two years ago.
For the price, it's a sursprisingly nice car.......looks good,
gets great gas mileage, and comes with that 100,000 mile warranty!
She also gets free tires for the life of the car.
Kia/Hyundai are owned by the same Korean parent company,
and are making huge improvements in quality.
Both make a nice looking, comfortable, mid-size sedan that would fit our needs.

I'm glad Sis bought her Kia.
It gave me the chance to watch her experience from afar.
So far, the little Optima has performed well.
Sis has had no real difficulties with it.

The only fly in the ointment with the Kia/Hyundai is the resale value.
It goes in the pooper the minute you drive it off the dealer's lot.
This means nothing, of course, if you actually drive it for the 100K miles....
By then it's more than paid for itself.

I really like the new Cadillac STS.
From reports I read,
Cadillac has done a real turn-around and is building fine cars again.
The STS is nice looking. Seats four comfortably and five in a pinch.
And with that Northstar engine, it goes like STINK!

Buying one would mean needing to trade within a few years, 'cause the Caddy doesn't come with the monster warranty like the Kia.
But the Cadillac maintains a pretty good resale value.

So, what're your thoughts? Upscale or down? Buy the warranty and drive the wheels off the thing, or buy the fantasy and trade before the warranty runs out?

Maybe you have a totally different idea?

I've got a year or so to make up my mind.

10 January 2006


Two things I hear a lot that surprise me:

"I could never do what you do........I'm afraid of heights."

"When the engine quits, doesn't the helicopter fall like a rock?"

No one is more "afraid of heights" than Greybeard.
Put me above the third rung on a ladder, and my knees are audibly knocking!
The whole idea of being afraid of high places is wrong anyway......
We're not really "afraid of heights".........we're afraid of falling.
When I'm securely strapped into the machine I have no fear of falling out, so I'm perfectly comfortable flying at any altitude.

Similarly, would I risk my ample derriere in a helicopter if I thought it would assume the aerodynamic characteristics of a brick when the engine quit?
As we've discussed before, a powerplant failure in a helicopter is much less dangerous than the same event in an airplane, because the helicopter floats down like a Maple seed until it gets close to the ground, then the helicopter pilot can slow both the forward and vertical speeds to nearly zero.

In today's information age, why do these misconceptions continue to exist?

08 January 2006

No Problem!

I say, "Thank You".

Generation "Y" person likely will respond, "No Problem!"

I'm slightly offended. I didn't realize I had presented a problem.

Whatever happened to good, old fashioned, "You're Welcome"?

2006 I.D.I.O.T.

Certainly I am not so dense to think my readers didn't know the point I was trying to make.

2006 C.E. ?

What a pantload!

I asked what happened to start the "common era" 2006 years ago, and got some nice explanations as to what C.E. is, but no answer as to what started it.
The reason?
I believe this common era probably started with the birth of Jesus Christ.
That makes it pretty special in my book!
If I'm wrong, I'll immediately give up my candidacy for the position of "King of the World".....
I certainly can't be that delusional and hope to lead you all to a more wonderful existence!

But what am I to think of anyone that would try to make me think the date 2006 has nothing to do with my personal Lord and Savior?
Those folks should immediately start using the Chinese or Jewish Calendars. The date at the top of those is not 2006. I'm sure they would be much more comfortable with them!

Or maybe this is all just a stupid joke that I didn't completely understand.
I really can be pretty thick, ya know.
In that case, let's use dates like:

2006 H.Y. (Henny Youngman)


2006 P.F. (Pink Flamingo)

Both make as much sense as C.E., because.......try all you wish to separate 2006 from Anno Domini, when you see the number 2006, remember......
it is inseparably connected to Jesus Christ!

And.......2006 I.D.I.O.T.?


Sorry to burst so many bubbles out there.

06 January 2006

Purple Tabby's Nine Lives

Posted at the old "Purple Tabby" site:

It is with heavy heart that I must report the death of Purple Tabby.

Purple Tabby's owners came home Christmas Eve to a cloud of smoke and the smell of singed hair and overcooked meat. On further investigation, they found Purple Tabby beneath the tree, still smoldering, with a very surprised look on her face.

As it turns out, the owners had left Purple Tabby home for the holiday, and in a fit of rage, Purple Tabby took it out on the wiring for the Christmas tree lights.

But don't be dismayed, Purple Tabby has 8 lives left!
She continues to purr at:



Dad's Deadpool

I just added another blog to the blogroll. I happened upon "The Oldman's" blog when I read a particularly insightful and concise comment he left on Chuck Simmin's blog.

The Old man was 20 miles from me when I started my tour in Viet Nam.
He's a little more direct than I am with some of his views, but we have a similar sense of things.

New Orleans is improving because of his work.
Drop by and give him a look.

03 January 2006

Helicopter "Stealth Mode"

The impact Hollywood has on the general public can't be overestimated. After "Blue Thunder" was a big hit, I had to explain to more people than you might imagine how there was no such thing as "Stealth Mode" on the helicopter!

The machine I fly weighs just under 7,500 pounds when it is at it's maximum weight. It has to move a lot of air to pick it's fat self up.
There are two 700 horsepower engines doin' a lot of work, and lots of stuff turning in order to get that job done.
The noise it makes is beyond the threshold of pain.

We are aware of the noise, particularly at night.

When I teach students, I tell them, "fly over a guy's house once and he'll say to himself, 'sounds like a helicopter.'
Fly over a second time, and he'll exclaim, 'damned noisy helicopter!'
Fly over the third time, and he'll be saying, 'what's the phone number for the FAA?'"
He has that right. We'd like to avoid that outcome.

I fly straight nights.
I prefer night flying for reasons that started with my tour in Viet Nam, and I'll cover that in detail later.
Night flying can be hard.
Weather can make it more dangerous.
It's also when more of the serious accidents happen, and I do more scene responses than the day guy does. Scene landings are the closest thing to Combat flying you can do as a civilian. They get your blood pumping!

Our aircraft is based at a little airport in a town of 4500 people.
When we take off at 3 A.M., we try to make as little noise as possible.
Even so, most of the 4500 know we are on our way somewhere.

Last week, one of my Flight Nurses was in the Wal-Mart SuperCenter in uniform, standing in line waiting on the cashier. A lady walked up behind her in line and said, "I live just down the road from where you park your aircraft. I hear you guys taking off at all hours of the night."

My Nurse tensed a little for what she expected.......a noise complaint.

Instead, what she heard was, "I just want you to know how comforting it is to hear that helicopter going out to help someone. It's good to know you are here in case we need you."

Isn't that nice?
Warms my heart!

02 January 2006

Censoring a Great Story

You were born in difficult times.
Your Mother literally feared for your life, and rather than lose you,
chose an unorthodox method of putting you up for adoption.
Her method worked.

You were raised in opulence.
Your adoptive parents truly loved you as their own.
But you had questions about your heritage,
and finding answers put you in conflict with your upbringing.
When you are old enough to strike out on your own, you leave the life of wealth and comfort behind you.

Starting anew is hard,
but you establish a new life, take a wife, and start a family.
Life begins to be bearable again.

Your new Boss is an intimidating figure.........
a sort of beneficent dictator.
He comes to you with a challenge:
"I've been watching you very closely. I like what I see.
I have a difficult job I want you to tackle."
When he outlines the job he wants you to do, you are overwhelmed.

"Boss, that job requires someone with great speaking skills.
You know I have a tendency to stammer when I'm under stress!
And you need a great leader of men.
If you want to be successful, surely another man can do this job better!"

But The Boss won't be dissuaded.
"No, you're my guy. Believe me, no one can do this job but you.
I'll provide whatever you need to accomplish the task."

You've seen the boss in action.
His powers to get things done are amazing.
It's hard to turn him down......He can be VERY persuasive!
You reluctantly agree to take on this huge job.

It means you must uproot your loved ones from
their comfortable surroundings and extended family.
You pack them and your modest belongings and set out on your goal.

Mid-way in your journey,
while you and your family are asleep in temporary quarters,
The Boss sneaks in and tries to murder you!

Your wife, a very quick thinker,
does something odd that mollifies The Big Guy,
and he departs before he succeeds in taking your life.

You continue on your mission,
still dedicated to the task and your Boss!

Are you familiar with this story? I wish more people were.
That too few people know it has troubled me for some time.
I'd like to do my part to fix that problem.

I'll be here with more on this story and share more thoughts with you later.

01 January 2006

2006 A.D., Uhhhhh A.C.E., Or Whatever

I sure want to wish a Happy 2006 to everyone that drops in to "Pitchpull"!

But someone help me, please.......
I know I'm no longer supposed to use the term A.D.,
meaning "Anno Domini", or "The year of our Lord."
I guess the politically correct term now is A.C.E., or "After the common Era."
Please, what happened to begin this "Common Era?"
Did something "common" happen,
or was it actually something pretty UNcommon?

Must have been something pretty special, huh?
Fill me in!