31 December 2007

Jay R. Grodner, Attorney at Law

This one takes the cake.

I know Chicago is "Blue", but I also know most folks there are good people... not idiots.
I'm not sure about Jay R. Grodner, Attorney at Law.
Blackfive has the story.
I'd like to use Mr. Grodner's services, and tried to call his business number in downtown Chicago, and in Deerfield, IL.
Surprisingly, both phones have been disconnected!
How's a professional supposed to make any money with no working telephone?!

Need the services of an anti-military Attorney?
Mr. Grodner wants to hear from you too.
You can go to whitepages.com and type in
Jay R. Grodner, Chicago, IL to see what pops up!

29 December 2007

Cobra Accident

I routinely read both the NTSB and FAA accident briefs to see if there's anything I can learn there to help maintain my body temperature at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

This report caught my interest because it appeared to involve the "Cobra", an aircraft I flew in Viet Nam.
I was surprised for several reasons...

Mistaken identity!

Fatalities or injuries in the accident?
Not possible!

My question for ya-
Should unmanned aircraft accidents be listed in the same forum as manned aircraft?

27 December 2007

Terrorist Permutations

Well, the asssassination of Benazir Bhutto is not exactly the way I imagined chaos in Pakistan might unfold more than two years ago, but it's still scary as Hell.
Just keep repeating-
"We are not at war. We are not at war!"

24 December 2007


(Tip o' the hat to Powerline.)
I had not heard this story, and that alone bodes well for Southwest Airlines in my book...
They aren't trying to "make hay" with it.
I think it is one of the best
feel good stories of the year.

Thank you Southwest Airlines...
Next time Sara Jean and I fly, you'll have our business!

Merry Christmas everyone, and again... please be safe.

22 December 2007

Merry Christmas. Try To Stay Alive.

"You're on standby for an MVA at ******.
I have no further information for you at this time."

A few moments later the phone rings again...
"Your flight is a go, but they now want you to meet them at the hospital there."
That means our ETA is too long for their conditions and they want help with their patient sooner than we can arrive.

We take off on the 19 minute flight. From dispatch-
"I still have no information on your patient."
This ground crew obviously has their hands full.

We arrive at the hospital and my crew makes their way to the ER.
As routine, I shut the engines down, secure the aircraft, and make my way to the ER to assist in whatever way I can. The door to the trauma room is closed. Outside the door in a wheelchair sits a late-20ish woman with two women in scrubs providing moral support. The woman is obviously emotionally distraught.
The trauma room door opens and I hear what sounds like the heart monitor they hooked up to Sara Jean when Big Bubba was about to be born. It is really loud, but since I don't hear a discernible heartbeat I question what I'm hearing.

I recognize the Doctor coming out the door and nod to him. He makes his way to the woman in the wheelchair and says, "We're still doing CPR on him, and I'll continue to do whatever I can to help him."

Family arrives...
It's the woman in the wheelchair's Mom and Dad. Dad is carrying a pumpkin-seed carrier containing a few-months old baby. The woman takes the baby from the pumpkin seed and holds it to her chest, sobbing.

My crew comes out of the room, looks at me and shakes their head. We won't be transporting.

He was 27 years old, helmetless, riding his ATV on the highway. Crossing the centerline and hitting a pickup truck head-on under these conditions is not conducive to good health.

Less than a week before Christmas, he has left behind a widow and a baby that will have absolutely no recollection of him... a tragedy at anytime... a particular tragedy when his death will be associated with a time that should bring joy and happiness.

My "Pitchpull" reading friends...
Please use good sense:
-Helmets on two/four wheelers.
-Stay out from behind the wheel after alcohol consumption.

I'm working three of the next five days. I don't want you horizontal in the back of my BK117!

Be safe everyone.

18 December 2007

Sigh... Just Watch

I try to have a positive outlook, you know that. But sometimes it's mighty hard.
Good friend Terry is in Law Enforcement and sent this:

Binary Explosive, New Terrorist Threat,scary Stuff! - Free videos are just a click away

17 December 2007

Your First Amendment Rights

Time and again we've been told our Constitutional Rights would be denied during the Bush Administration.
Unfortunately, that prediction has turned out to be correct...

How important are your Constitutional rights? Would you be willing to die protecting them? Would you die protecting mine?
The word "HATE" has been used on more than one occasion in comments to this blog. Once the word was used to describe feelings for President Bush. I can't understand that, but those that are feeling that emotion are being affected by it and they have to live with it.

My problem is that these "haters" demand the right to express themselves, while denying the rights of others to point out when they are wrong. Now it has taken a pretty serious step, to almost, (not quite), death threats.
Our higher learning establishments are fortresses of Liberal thinking.
Conservative thought is not welcome. Don't believe it?
Read this article, then tell me you wouldn't feel threatened by Liberals around you.

If "Freedom of Speech" is truly important to you, please take 10 minutes to watch this movie trailer:

I spent 22 years in the ARMY defending the attitude generally attributed to Voltaire-
"I don't agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Apparently that attitude only runs within Conservative circles.

That George Bush.... what a tyrant!

UPDATE: 18Dec-
A commenter points out, the Princeton emails are fakes!
The professors shown in the movie telling others to STFU are not.
Care to comment on the subject, David Horowitz?

13 December 2007

Traffic Cameras

Remember this post?

Someone else had the same idea, only this guy was a man of action!
Tipped once again by Instapundit.

I Am Bud Light??

I found this while visiting John's Blog.

Like John, I disagree with the premise, 'cause I don't drink "Light Beer" of any color, strength, or title. It's real beer with added distilled water... if you want light beer, buy a 2 liter bottle of Club Soda and add your own water to real beer!

As to the description of my "beer character"...
I can't be objective, so you'll have to ask a drinking buddy. ( A few stop by "Pitchpull" now and then!)

You Are Bud Light

You're not fussy when it comes to beer. If someone hands it to you, you'll drink it.
In fact, you don't understand beer snobbery at all. It all tastes the same once you're drunk!
You're an enthusiastic drinker, and you can often be found at your neighborhood bar.
You're pretty good at holding your liquor too - you've had lots of experience.

12 December 2007

The Name Game

My Mother's maiden name is Schreiber.
She gets angry when I tell folks that name means "horse thief" in German...

maybe because I'm lying.

I've always been fascinated with names... Schreiber's a simple one. It's an easy process to see "scriber" in the name and guess it's origins.
Other names that end in "er" are obvious... "Barber", "Carpenter", "Fisher".
Others were more difficult and took a little research:

Last night I came home to find Sara Jean watching the wonderful
"How Green Was My Valley" on TCM. My ears perked as I heard "Collier". The context in which it was used gave me a clue.

Got an interesting or unusual name?

You may find it at the bottom of the page here.
(The -ters surprised me... Baxter, Brewster, Webster.)

I have a couple friends named "Fleener".
That one appears to be a mystery.

10 December 2007

Alaska Helicopter EMS Accident- Update

It's a BK117.
They have found the body of the Nurse, and pieces of the aircraft.
doesn't look good.

Relationships- The Care and Feeding Of,

I wanta talk about two-way streets... or what OUGHT to be two-way streets.

I admit it freely... I'm a "Rube" at heart!
Go back in the archives of this blog and read some of the stories of my childhood and you'll learn I was perfectly happy staying close to my Central Indiana home. When I was drafted in 1966 I had been out of the State only three or four times. Away from home, all I could think of was getting back... back into my comfort zone.

Of course Uncle Sam changed all that with the draft. He took me away from family, friends, and neighbors. To the degree I could I tried to maintain my close relationships. And the way I did that, mostly, was via letter-writing.

It's a lost art now,mostly because of email but part of the blame lies with cell phones too.

I mourn the loss.

I used to LOVE receiving letters! You could open a letter and sprint through it's contents looking for any surprising or important news, then go back again, (and again, and again) and re-read the words... savoring them, looking for subtleties.

And of course, letters that came from someone REALLY special generally included even more... a scent... and wonderful reminder of times past and times to come. (Mail Call in my early ARMY training was done the way we've all seen it portrayed in movies... A group of GI's gathered around the Company clerk calling out the names and passing the mail to the recipients... AFTER sniffing the letter if it appeared to be from a wife/girlfriend. If the clerk oohed and aahed about the letter, we all smiled and shared in the warm feeling, knowing someone had taken the time to put pen to paper, then scent the letter and get it on the way to their special correspondent.)

I loved letters from home. I knew that if I wrote, the recipient was more likely to write back and answer questions or respond to my comments. So I wrote LOTS of letters!
I wrote to family.
I wrote to girlfriends.
I wrote to buddies.
Girlfriends ALWAYS wrote back. Family would frequently write back. Buddies... not so much. Mostly, guys would wait a period of time, then they'd call.

To me that was cheating. I expended time and effort to gather pen/paper/envelope/stamp and send my thoughts in a material way. Their communcation came in such a way that when the phone was returned to the receiver, all I had left was the memory......No goin' back to review the correspondence. Nothing to save and re-read later, maybe YEARS later and be reminded of what was going on at that time in my life.
I resented it a lot!

I don't know why, but most guys are terrible about communicating! I've been given lots of excuses to explain this fact:
"I can't spell.
My writing looks like 'chicken-scratches'.
I can't express myself well.
I don't have time, (and the corollary... never think about it when I have the time.")
What a bunch of crap!

But I finally learned the rules of the game and gave up trying to change people.
If I wrote you a nice long letter and you returned my communication via telephone, our communicating was over until you called again to inquire about me. No more letters... I won't waste my time.
(An extension of this rule applied to trips home during leave too... if I drove 700+ miles to come home, surely you could drive ten minutes to shake my hand personally, right?)

So now, in another compartment in my life, I'm bein' reminded that relationships are not always 50/50...
I know that and accept it. I've had relationships where I put out 70% versus 30, but when I needed that 30% friend to be there... they were there in Spades! That certainly makes the 70% expenditure worthwhile.
But what if the relationship is 90/10? What if it's 95/5? At what point do you say to yourself, "I'm bein' used here, and I'm not gettin' back the interest I oughta be gettin' on this investment?"

And that's not a rhetorical question, folks.
I really would like your input on the care and feeding of relationships!

Thanks in advance for your response!

09 December 2007

Election '08...


Thanks again to Instapundit

Compare and Contrast-

Watch out guys...
More and more
women are becoming active in the helicopter industry.

I couldn't be more pleased!
(I've added Maggie and Stacy to my Blogroll.)

08 December 2007

Just... Gone.

It's another unfortunate reminder-
Try as hard as we might,
the job will always entail a certain amount of risk.

07 December 2007

An Open Letter To NBC

Dear Sirs,

I am aware of your stance against running the ads submitted to you by Freedom Watch.
I have had my fill of your anti-troop, anti-American attitude.
If I could have NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC removed from my list of available channels, I would. Denying my ability to do that, I'll set up a new "favorites list" and omit them there.
Folks, you owe the country an apology!


Don't know what I'm talking about? Go and read about these shameful people HERE!

UPDATED 8 December-
In the face of considerable outrage at their censorship,
NBC retreats!

Further update, 9 Dec-
Nope, no bias at all at NBC!

Tip 'O the hat to Instapundit.

Hillary Rodham

Oh... and Clinton, of course...
when it's to her advantage to remind you.

I've intended for some time to write about HRC and how interesting it is gonna be now that Obama and Oprah have hooked up.

The "inevitability" of Hillary's candidacy has vanished, like the puff of smoke in a magicians act.
Then I saw Ann's post and realized I could not do better.

--Added, from Synova in the comments:
"Being told what to think by men?
Is that any worse than being told what to think by Jane Fonda and subject to abuse if I have my *own* ideas?
Hillary is evil, not stupid.
Jane Fonda is stupid."

Oh my!


Of course he said nothing about it.
I suppose he figured the storm would come soon enough, and wanted to put it off as long as possible.

We'd had it about a month...
This was back in the day when video cameras still looked like something the guys from "Channel 2" carried around... it was substantial in size. Even on sale it had cost a weeks pay.
Our old video camera had died, so I replaced it with this one...
1Lux meant it would take video in VERY dark conditions, and it had lots of other bells and whistles. I hoped I (and he) would learn how to use them all.

Heading out the door to attend an event I wanted to record, I found the camera in Big Bubba's bedroom. That wasn't out of the ordinary because we had already seen glimmers of his talent in the audio/visual realm and were hoping he'd experiment like a young Steven Spielberg, right here under our roof. But something looked a little odd...
The viewfinder was gone.
Gone... as in non-existent-make-the-camera-USELESS gone!

"Uhh son, what happened to the camera?"

"I just wanted to see how it worked."

This wasn't the kind of self-educating I was hoping for.
I wanted "M. Night Shyamalan", NOT "Big Bubba, video camera repairman."

You've probably anticipated the rest of the story-
Getting the viewfinder fixed was 25% the cost of the camera in the first place. But it was almost certainly worth it...
He got very good at writing/producing/directing his own productions, and I don't recall his curiosity getting the best of him again.

04 December 2007

Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Bomb Gone?

There's a beach in the shadow of that lighthouse where I've spent many wonderful afternoons. There once was a campground just a few hundred feet away where my parents would park their RV.
Now I'm surprised to find there is a
chunk of Plutonium submerged within shouting distance of the spot where I sunbathed, drank daiquiris, and figured a nuclear device was the least of my worries.
I spent several months in Savannah Georgia in 1968 while attending ARMY flight school. I liked it so much I came back and lived there while teaching others to fly helicopters from late '69 to 1972. In those three years I never heard anything about the mid-air collision that resulted in the dropping of the device.

The Discovery Channel is presently running a documentary on attempts to find the bomb using technology that was not available in earlier searches. It's an interesting story. Let's pray they find it.

02 December 2007

MSNBC Objectivity-

Subtle, huh?

More of this, please!

More Olby!
More Erin Burnett!

How low can their ratings go??!!

30 November 2007

Rooftop Pads, Good Stories, and Lousy Reporting

One of my favorite stories used to be told by a guy that became a close friend after he recovered from a serious heart attack.
I flew him to the Cardiac center in our old Bell LongRanger days. He caught a glimpse of the rooftop helipad as I flew past it downwind, and said to himself, "That thing looks like a postage stamp! I hope this S.O.B. is good!"
(Our flight gave him five good years until "the BIG one" took his life.)
this blog post today and found it quite interesting... thought you might find it interesting too.

It pays Kandy and me a supreme compliment, and reinforces
what I've said before about the media. (Links are all out of date at that post, but you'll get the idea.)

28 November 2007

Gentle Evisceration

I had never heard of Avi Lewis.
From reading the comments to this video, I understand he's a Canadian media person.

I certainly had heard of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I think she may be the bravest person on the face of the earth.

Watching the video will take just over 9 minutes, but will educate you in ways that may surprise you!

26 November 2007

Big Bubba's Excellent Adventure-

Whoosh, he's here. Whoosh, he's gone.
I'll take whatever time he can offer with no complaints.

He wanted to be home for Thanksgiving.

He's homesick, partly for the oddest of reasons... the weather in Mesa makes him feel a little like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day". It's much the same, day after day. BB was actually hoping for chilly, gray, overcast days. A little snow or rain too please... that'd be gravy on those mashed potatoes!

Thanksgiving morning I got off the killer shift I wrote about earlier, and came home to grab a couple hours shuteye. BB boarded a USAir A319 in Phoenix... temperature 84 degrees F.

When he called as the airplane was taxiing to the terminal in Bigtown I had done the addition:
Collecting his bags- 30 minutes.
Walking to the train- another 10 minutes.
Riding the train to our meeting point-90 minutes.
Total- 2 hours, 10 minutes.

My drive to meet him at the station would take just over an hour, so I showered and got a couple cups of Arabica in me. After an hour, while Sara Jean began the finishing touches on our Turkey-Day feast, I headed out solo to pick him up. My timing was almost perfect... the train pulled into the station 10 minutes after my arrival. It was spitting fine grains of snow and was 34 degrees as BB loaded his bags into the car.

What pleasant changes we are seeing in this young son of ours. He has always been considerate of others, but the issues he must contend with now are more serious-
One of his best friends is having serious personal issues. It's gratifying to hear him talk about life and the important things he faces, and hear how he weighs both sides of an issue carefully. We know he'll still make mistakes along the way, but the mistakes he makes won't be because he hasn't given them considerable thought.

We open the door at home to that wondrous smell... and of course, Sara Jean's tearful welcome.
BB hasn't eaten, so he is ravenous. We are like Jewish parents... it's wonderful to see him pack it all in!

He's beginning to learn the hard lesson I learned when I first left home in 1966- you can't do it all. Over the weekend he is selective about who he visits.
I'm proud of his choices... an invalid neighbor that has loved him like family... an older cousin with Alzheimers who has always known how special he is.
Some peers are aware he is home. If they want to see him, they can drive the few minutes to visit with him here under our roof.

Sunday comes too soon.

Traffic to the airport will be heavy. Gettin' through security will take longer than normal. We leave 'way before necessary so an accident or flat tire along the way won't be a catastrophe. We stop along the way and get a Big Bubba favorite... White Castles... there's nothing like 'em in Phoenix!

We get to the airport two hours before his flight is scheduled to depart. Hugs and kisses are not so sad this time... he's coming home for Christmas, and he's bringing
Desi with him! It'll be fascinating to see how long it takes Lucy to become comfortable with Desi again... the dynamics of their relationship have changed... this is HER house now!

I tell BB we'll stay near the airport until he's at the departure gate... just to make sure there are no glitches. We are 15 minutes away from the airport when Sara Jean's cell phone rings. He has made his way through security quicker than we expected, but when he arrives at the gate there is a BIG GLITCH... the agent informs him the flight is overbooked and he may not get a seat on the airplane. I know and understand why the carriers do this... But Thanksgiving weekend?!!
We stop off at a safe place and wait for more information.

An hour later... he has a boarding pass! They are loading the airplane.
Sara Jean and I resume our trip home.
Thirty minutes later her phone rings again... the airplane has a flat tire. They are trying to find a replacement tire. BB and the other passengers have been off-loaded and are stuck until the tire is fixed.

Long story short- they fix the tire and BB gets home 3 hours later than expected, but nevertheless he is home safely. The knowledge that many of the folks on that airplane missed their connecting flights on Thanksgiving weekend makes me sad... for them, and for the USAir support people that have to deal with the (rightfully) irate passengers. What a mess.

But once again I'm amazed at the facts of all this:
BB paid less than $350 for his round-trip tickets.
It's 3400 miles from our home to Phoenix and back. Driving round-trip in a car getting 25 miles per gallon would have cost approximately $340, and that's not counting the overnight stay, both going, and coming.
It seems to me that flying, in spite of its surprises and hassles, is still quite a bargain!

21 November 2007

What Is It About Pilots?

... Or maybe it's just "Macho" at work?

First, keep this in mind-
We've just changed the schedule at our base. We're trying 7-on, 7-off. It makes for a long work-week, but the time off is great!
My story begins as I have received a call late in my shift on the last of 8 days in a row... (I'm repaying one of the "trade days" I needed to go to Hawaii that I spoke about in an earlier post).
It's been a butt-kicker. When we talked about this 7/7 schedule I forgot there can be days when you strap the BK to your back and pretty much keep it there until quittin' time. I flew 5.6 hours yesterday, and have flown 3.3 as the phone rang for this flight.
This week has been like that. I was REALLY lookin' forward to time to go home when this call came in!

I sigh, check weather, and agree to take the flight. It's to a University... a teaching hospital 130 miles away. When I get there I'm gonna need some kerosene to make it back home. I ask dispatch to check and see if my memory is correct... that my landing helipad has fuel available right there. When they verify it does, I ask them to call and see if someone can meet me and make sure I pump the fuel safely.

This hospital is known for its helipad rules...
Don't turn the tail rotor toward the building...
Don't hot-offload unless your patient is tryin' to die immediately.
The rule I have always liked best is... "Sometimes it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission."

But I decide to be a good boy. I land near the BK based at the hospital, then snuggle up close to the fuel pump so we don't have to pull the hose too far. My med-crew stays aboard until I pull the throttles on the engines and stop the rotor with the rotor brake. We unload the stretcher and my crew gets on their way to help the patient. A guy wearing a flight suit with Captain's shoulder boards comes out to the fuel pit and I walk over and introduce myself. He's younger than me, but no Spring Chicken. He begins to show me how to operate the fuel system, and together we pull the hose off the hose reel. At this point he says, "By the way, we NORMALLY land East-West on this pad".
His BK IS in fact pointed West. Mine is pointed North. I specifically pointed it that way for safety... to keep anyone departing or approaching the aircraft as far away from the tail-rotor as possible.

Remember now... I'm now at 8 days in a row, and I'm damned tired.
I bite my tongue and say, "Please tell me what is unsafe about the way I parked."

He's taken aback a little, but after a moment's hesitation says, "Well, it's just the way we normally do it around here."

I'll ask you... Do you think he was trying to establish a pecking order?
I did.
So I quit biting my tongue and said, "I'll tell ya this, partner...
Right now I don't give a flyin' flip about what you do around here normally. I landed that way because I felt it was the safest way to land. If you can show me how that's not the case, I'll be glad to do it your way."

Pecking order firmly established, we finished pumping my fuel and went to his quarters where he brewed a pot of coffee and we got to know one another better.
He's actually a nice guy... a National Guard Apache pilot.
Just needs a little social trainin', that's all.

19 November 2007

Sara Jean, Thoroughbred

I was bragging about my wife again, trying to describe her to a fellow pilot, so I asked my paramedic-
"Hey Dave, how would you describe Sara Jean?"

And that's no exaggeration. One of these days I promise to tell ya the story of how we met. It's a sordid, but interesting tale.
Seventy inches tall, blonde, and a face that renders some men speechless...
I love her more now than when I met her.

We've been together 27 years. I never figured I'd be able to stay with one woman that long. Part of the reason our relationship has worked is that I still find her stunning. The other part is that I've matured, and realized I had to put some work into patching cracks between us for our foundation to remain strong. Knowing she is doin' the same has made that job much easier.
I know I'm demanding, and a hard guy to live with. She's sometimes hard to live with too, but for different reasons...
she's a thoroughbred.

As I've written, on our way home from Hawaii we stopped for two days at Big Bubba's apartment in Mesa, Arizona. We wanted the chance to visit with him alone, (all three of us had made the Hawaii trip, remember), and we knew we'd need the time to wind down and regain our balance.
"Winding down" has a different meaning for Sara Jean than most of us...
Windows need cleaning? Carpets need shampooing or spot removal?
How'd this sink get in this shape?!
It's one of the things I love about her. She keeps an immaculate house, wakes me with a cuppa Joe, feeds me too much. In my wife alone there's enough energy to power a town of 1000 or so.

So I'm sitting at Big Bubba's computer... blogging, I think.
From behind me I hear, "You're gonna kill me."
I turned to look and she's serious... that beautiful face is ashen.

"No honey, nothing can be that bad. I'm NOT gonna kill you."

"Yes you are. I've done something terrible!"

Her hands are behind her back. She brings them around front, waist high, and has to cup them to keep the contents from falling to the floor. In those cupped hands she has what looks to be scraps of paper with something else mixed all through them. It looks most like the nest some exotic bird would build.

"What is it?"
"Your Datebook. I washed your clothes and forgot to take it out of your pocket."

Yeah, she's stunning alright... I'm exceedingly stunned!
It's November, so what she has done is completely destroy 11 months worth of contact names, phone numbers, and addresses. Tax info, combinations to various push-button door locks, dates that I needed to remember for whatever reason... now literally in tatters.
She can't help it... she felt she had to be doing something,

I bet I have the cleanest Datebook in the country!

17 November 2007

"Love Is In The Air"

A song I love,
A handsome guy,
A cute gal,
A classic Cadillac convertible,and,
A skywriting Stearman...
What's not to like?

15 November 2007

Go! Stop! Go!

I wish I had a quarter every time this has happened in the two decades I've done this job...

Dispatch calls-
"Weather check for P-Ville, please... it's a scene flight."

I check closely 'cause I drove through schmutz coming to work.
"Yeah, I can do P-Ville."

"Okay, you're on standby for an MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident) on Interstate ## just North of P-Ville."

We all dash to the John as a precaution, then wait for the phone to ring again, which will either cancel us or force us to push the "pause" button on the TIVO.
And we wait.
And we wait some more.

My Paramedic says "this is taking too long, we're not goin' anywhere" just as the phone rings...
"Your flight is a GO."

We quickly move to the aircraft, get both engines started and take off. We've just gotten high enough to see above the treeline when Dispatch crackles over the radio...
"Your flight is cancelled."
I make one circuit of the traffic pattern and land.

Bein' cancelled is aggravating for several reasons.
I'ts expensive... starting the aircraft is the hardest thing you can do to it. I just shocked and expanded some pretty exotic metals within two combustion chambers, waking two engines and bringing them from ambient temperature to 700 degrees centigrade in just a few seconds. There are limits on the number of times you can do that before you have to throw out the old exotic metal and buy new exotic metal. $$$$$!
Starting the engines costs money. I just did it for no revenue.

Over the intercom to my crew I wonder out loud...
"Okay, how long do you think it'll be before we are called for a flight to the hospital at P-Ville?"

Scene flights are cancelled for several reasons...
-Upon arrival at the scene, the ground crew finds everyone is okay.
-The patient(s) is/are DRT, (Dead Right There. We don't use the helicopter to transport corpses.)
-Our ETA is excessive. Sometimes it's quicker to transport the patient to the closest hospital for evaluation where the decision may be made to call us again. This happens OFTEN!

An hour passes. The phone rings. I pick up the receiver and don't even give our dispatcher a chance to speak...
"Lemme guess... we're goin' to P-Ville for the victim of an MVA."

And my dispatcher laughs out loud.

I guess there's comfort in things that never change.

13 November 2007

Cooldown Lap

Please forgive me for taking a breather.
I promise I'll fill ya in on the rest of the Hawaii experience, but I'm still trying to catch my breath...
We got home from the journey Midnight Sunday. Monday morning found me headed to the airport to fly with a student in the R22, then meet with an old Viet Nam Cobra jock that wants my help purchasing a new R44. No rest for the wicked.

This A.M., (Tuesday) is "payback" time. When we've used up our vacation days, we take days off by finding someone willing to "trade" days. Friend Dan made my Hawaii trek possible by covering for me, but needed me to reimburse his trade today. I rolled outta bed this morning and had to look around to see if the bed was in Hawaii, Mesa, AZ, or home... took a few seconds to clear the cobwebs!

When I finally hung up my ARMY flight suit and received my final printout of flight time, I had accrued exactly 2,999 hours in various iterations of the Huey... UH-1B,C,D,H, and M.
I've written before about my love for the old, stable machine.
A comment to a post below this one led me to
this Huey Pilot's Blog...
I'm always interested in reading about the distaff side of flying, and I'm particularly interested in reading about Elay's experience flying my favorite old bird. She's a new addition to my blogroll.

And "The Hits Keep Comin'!"...
Another Blogroll addition will expose you to flyin' fast and flyin' low/slow simultaneously.

Kandy and Darren are a husband/wife team.
Kandy flies EMS down in TX in the same gas hog I fly. Darren flies even bigger gas hogs, both military and civilian.
Go give 'em a look!

Upon further reading of Kandy and Darren's blog I find she flies the EC135... a newer, sexier, slightly smaller aircraft than the BK117
I "yank and bank" in.

And when I've caught my breath, I'll finish the Hawaii diary.
Thanks for bein' out there!

12 November 2007

On The Ground

By the time we start the helicopter to launch on a scene flight, most of the heavy lifting has already been done by Police, Firefighters, and ground EMS Crews. I'm in awe of the job they do, and uncomfortable with the attention we get because our part of this work is truly "batting cleanup".

I was "Google Alerted" to a blog because the writer put up a post about calling a helicopter to her scene on a night when weather was questionable. I like her style... and as always, smiled to see that EMS folks have similar experiences everywhere.

Go spend a little time at "My Life In The Firehouse" and see if you agree it's worth your time.
I've added her to my Blogroll.

A Photo of Greybeard...

Fellow blogger, former Marine, and former Presidential Candidate Cary Cartter is a guy I agree with much of the time. He comments here now and then. When he found out Big Bubba moved to Mesa he quickly volunteered to lend a hand if ever needed, and made me a lot more comfortable with the idea my son was 1700 miles from home.

We finally got together at the "Chevy's" restaurant in Mesa Saturday night, and Cary's beautiful wife took a picture of the two of us together. So if you're interested to see what Ol' Greybeard looks like, check out the pic at Cary's Blog here!

06 November 2007

Subs, (Not Sandwiches!)

I'm gonna tell ya about an extraordinary Saturday, but I forgot to relate something important about the trip to Honolulu-
Our flight from Mesa, AZ to Honolulu was on an ATA 757. The flight was full... approximately 200 people aboard. There were four bathrooms on the plane... three amidships and one up front. The flight took 5.5 hours. About 4 hours into the flight the bathrooms began to smell pretty bad... I think the holding tanks may have been nearly full. The otherwise satisfactory experience was made uncomfortable by the fact that from our seats four rows away the smell was strong enough to make Sara Jean gag.

But back to Saturday-
In an earlier post I mentioned our Hawaii classmate's husband Ken works for the Navy at Pearl Harbor. He wanted to give us a special tour of the Harbor facilities. Big Bubba, Sara Jean and I rode along with Ken and his wife as Ken pointed out different points of interest at both Pearl Harbor and Hickam Air Force Base. Many of the sights were familiar from movies we've seen, like "In Harms Way", and "Tora, Tora, Tora!"

Then we stopped at the Submarine base.
Security there is obviously VERY high.

I had never been close to a sub, and even though we were 75 feet away behind a fence, was happy to be able to get a good look at three of them... two at the pier near us, and one across the channel in maintenance.

I asked Ken if he thought there was any way we could get inside the fence for a closer look. He said he thought maybe I could do it with my retired ID card, but was much less sure about Big Bubba and Sara Jean. I asked the security guard if I could pass through the gate and he surprised me by saying yes, then asking, "Are you sponsoring the rest of these folks?"
The whole group followed me inside the fence.

The two subs closest to us were Los Angeles class... the "Bremerton" and the "La Jolla".
This is the Bremerton:

"La Jolla" is similar in appearance, but has "bow-planes"... the elevator-like control surfaces on the Bremerton's sail are on the bow of the La Jolla, and its sail is unencumbered.
We chatted for a while with the armed (12 gauge shotgun and sidearm) guard at the Bremerton, then moved on to the La Jolla and did the same. Walking back to the Bremerton, Ken noticed some sailors leaving the boat in their dress whites and said, "Ya know... sometimes when the crew is ashore they give tours on the surface ships"...
The idea of it stunned me. Was it possible to take a tour of an active nuclear submarine? I walked up and asked the guard.
I was amazed when he turned and picked up the phone. A few moments later the "Officer of the Day" appeared and escorted all of us down the hatch!
For the next hour+ the five of us were given a wonderful tour of one of the most deadly weapons systems known to man. We were not allowed near the reactor, but toured three levels aboard the Bremerton, asking what were probably stupid questions.
I would NEVER have thought touring the boat would be possible, and will NEVER forget the experience!

Dateline: Ford Island

Aviators know what I mean when I say I'm "behind the power curve".
We've seen so much... done so much. So much has happened, I've had to make notes on what to share with you. I'll try to blog in my spare time, (HA!).
Let me slowly bring you up to speed.

First- the idea of coming to these islands for a week... spending a couple days on Oahu, then hopping over to Maui for a couple days, then on to Hawaii for a couple... absolute crap. By the time we leave we'll have been here a week, and we won't even have done Oahu justice.

That's how it looks through these eyes anyway. Our rooms in the "Navy Lodge" here on Ford Island are fabulous. Two queen beds and bath, kitchenette, and separate sitting room with desk and sofa/sleeper. We sleep within 1000 feet of the remains of almost 1000 men that died on the U.S.S. Arizona.

This is another mini-High School reunion for me. I sponsored four classmates and spouses to stay here at the Inn with us. We arrived Thursday evening to very light rain and moderate temperatures. The rain stopped and we congregated at one of the Lanais for beverages and conversation with our classmate that lives here on Oahu and her husband who works for the Navy at Pearl Harbor.

Friday morning dawned beautifully and found us with coffee cups in hand on the front porch, overlooking the Harbor. Showered and ready for action, we drove one mile to the Battleship Missouri and signed up for the guided tour. It's impossible to describe the effect approaching this ship has on ya... almost 1000 feet long and 20 stories tall, 9-16 inch guns lying in standby, my thoughts went to what it must have been like on 6 Dec 41 to see a clutch of similar ships moored here. The tour lasted an hour or so and was well worth the time and money. From the bow of the Missouri it's impossible to miss the beautiful white structure that is the Arizona Memorial. That was next on the agenda.

The only way to get to the Arizona is by water, so we had to drive to the other side of the harbor to visit her. There is a museum there with many 7 Dec exhibits, and we idled some time there while waiting to go into the theatre to watch a 20 minute film about the U.S. being invited into WWII. The film moved me to tears. We then boarded the ferry and crossed the harbor to the Arizona. There were 60 or so people on the ferry... many of them Japanese tourists. All were obviously affected, like me, by the film. What talk there was among the visitors was done at a whisper.

We've all seen so many images of the Memorial, you feel as if you've already been there. After disembarking the ferry we walked to the far end of the Memorial to view the names of the crewman that were killed that day, including those whose remains we stood above. A smaller separate plaque shows the names and dates of death of those Arizona shipmates who survived into old age who made the decision to have their ashes deposited here alongside their shipmates who died over 60 years ago.

We were the last tour for the day and the sun was low in the sky, so it was hard making out the outline of the big ship beneath us. On the bow, a buoy is tied so you can see the ship's length. Not quite as long as the Missouri, it boggles the imagination, thinking of something that large exploding... burning... sinking.

So our Friday was a full, emotional day.
Adjacent to the facility/theatre for the Arizona is a WWII submarine, the "Bowfin".
We intend to take a look there before we leave.

More to come...

01 November 2007

He Works In Strange Ways-

Sad news came last night...
The 25 year old son of close acquaintances was killed two nights ago.
He somehow got his car stuck in the Interstate median, then was struck and killed trying to cross the highway. (The vehicle that hit him didn't stop.)
Like our Big Bubba, he was an only child.

Engaged to be married, his fiancee' was expecting.
I haven't talked with his Old Man in some time, but I'm sure he would have been somewhat embarrassed by this pre-wedding pregnancy.
How do you think he feels about his coming grandchild now?

Hug your loved ones folks, and try to remember what's really important in your life.

Tonight we'll be in paradise.

We took the first step yesterday and arrived here in Mesa, Arizona just before 10 A.M. local time. Being a cheapskate added a little stress to our lives... my cheap tickets had us departing our home airport a little after 6 A.M.
Backward planning then indicates our problem-
It takes 3 hours to get to the airport.
Waking, personal hygiene, loading the car, etc., takes an hour...
Clearing security adds another.
So 6-3-2= a 1 A.M. departure from home.
We questioned if we should even go to bed. Knowing that I have to be up that early precludes me from really sleeping anyway-
I guess it's actually a good thing my system is screwed up from working nights all the time!

Every time we travel I'm reminded of the old George Carlin "Stuff" routine, (and I notice he's talkin' about Hawaii ! ):

What part of your stuff is important enough to pack and bring along?
After you're packed you stress out that you've forgotten an important part of your "stuff". So far we seem to have done pretty well...
the stuff we brung is the stuff we've needed.

Today is another adventure altogether...
I hoped Big Bubba would be able to tag a friend to take us to the airport.
No dice. His folks at work are tied up meeting an important deadline for a project and can't be torn away. So we're left with a couple options...
Call a taxi, or take the bus.
We checked, and the 20 minute taxi ride would cost $30. (Knowing how cheap I am, I'm sure you can see where this is leading!)
We checked the "Vally Metro" website and found we can make our
4 P.M. flight by boarding the bus at 1:19, one block away from Big Bubba's apartment. The fare- $1.25 each! We have to transfer to a different bus twice before arriving at Sky Harbor International, but transfers are free for the asking. I'm no expert on riding the bus, so I'm concerned about the logistics of all this. But if it all falls into place, I think we'll be using mass transportation to get to/from the airport here from now on!

The other night I thought of another coincidence. In my previous post I told you I had been to Honolulu on one other occasion...
on my way to Viet Nam.

The date of that flight?
1 November 1968... exactly 39 years ago today.

Aloha everyone!

25 October 2007

Bruddah Iz

I first took note of the tune when we rented the Chick-Flick
"Meet Joe Black".
The tune starts with a Ukulele solo, sweet and simple.
A few bars later you hear a clear tenor voice,
And that's it-
Just the Uke and one voice.
It was beautiful.

I'm an oddball about watching movie credits. I want to know who directed, who wrote the book from which the screenplay was adapted, who wrote the screenplay. I like to know who flew the helicopter. I also read the credits if I'm impressed by the music.
The tune that impressed me was the medley

"What A Wonderful World/Over The Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, known in Hawaii as "Bruddah Iz".
You've probably heard the tune. I also heard it later in the soundtracks of
"Finding Forrester" and
"50 First Dates".

I've been thinking of Bruddah Iz and Hawaii a lot lately.
We leave for Hawaii early Halloween morning.

We'll stop in Mesa and spend the night with Big Bubba, then the three of us will board an ATA 757 for the trip to Honolulu. We'll meet a few friends there and will be there for a week.
My only other visit to Honolulu was in 1968, when the stretched DC-8 carrying me and about 299 of my best friends stopped to refuel on the way to Saigon. Most of the 300 of us made our way to the airport bar... we had an hour or so layover. I had two Scotch-and-Water with a Twist doubles, and since it was night-time, don't really remember much about Honolulu, except that the weather was perfect.

So this really will be my first time there.

We intend to visit the Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri, and tour Pearl Harbor/Ford Island. (That'll be easy- we're staying on Ford Island.) We also intend to find our way to the Big Island to get as close to molten lava as possible. But beyond those sights we need help. Got any suggestions about "must-see's" while we're there?

Back to Bruddah Iz...
He died at age 38 from heart problems, no doubt brought on by the fact that he was 6' 2" tall and weighed 753 pounds.
A lovely, talented man, dead 'way too soon.

I found this video with the tune I referred to. Watch carefully near the end and you can see them casting Bruddah Iz's ashes to the beautiful, blue water:

22 October 2007

Yeah, But How Smart?

Startled awake... just after 3 A.M...


If you've owned a dog, you've probably heard the sound represented by my poor interpretation of them trying to regurgitate something they should not have eaten.

The wretching starts quietly, then gets louder and more dramatic with each spasm until finally-
...and you see them standing sheepishly over the mucous filled, carpet staining amalgam of whatever it was they shouldn't have ingested a couple hours before.

But Lucy had awakened me with her distress in time for me to jump from bed while grabbing her as I stepped quickly to the Master Bath, and placed her so she could safely barf within the confines of the bathtub.
When she was done, in the center of the slimy mass... a pebble.
(Don't ask me.... ask her!)

The next night/morning... a re-run, only this time it was a little earlier... closer to 2 A.M.
The offending pseudo-food this time was one of the yellow foam earplugs I use for noise protection. (Chewy... the little thief stole it off my end table.)
Again, we successfully made it to the tub prior to the eruption.

The following night was a work night for me. When I got home after work, Sara Jean said,
"You'll never believe it! Lucy woke me up wretching again. When I sat up to grab her she wasn't on the bed, so I jumped up and started moving toward her sound effects. When I got to her, SHE WAS ALREADY IN THE TUB!"
(This is no easy task for Lucy. She's so small, jumping into the tub would be slightly dangerous for her.)

I'm amazed.
In two previous incidents she had learned where to throw up, and had decided to do it without human help.
So... how smart are dogs?
Some of them are smarter than some humans!

19 October 2007

The Silent Majority

President Nixon used to refer to "The Silent Majority". At the time he used the term, I agreed with the idea of a Silent Majority, but had no way to prove such a thing existed. Information was controlled by Big Media. The majority had no media voice... and therefore was "Silent".

Ahh, but how things have changed! The Silent Majority still doesn't make the obnoxious splash made by organizations like Code Pink or Moveon.org, but more and more conservative blogs show our existence cannot be denied.

In the last weeks, much has been made of fundraising, comparing Democrat and Republican party receipts. It's still really early in the game, so some pundits have cautioned us to wait until both parties have selected their candidates before watching how the money flows to each of them.

Democrats should take heed to that advice.
I personally feel their behavior has frequently bordered on treason, and I'm not the only one in my circle of acquaintances that feels that way. The Democrat initiative on the Armenian genocide last week was kinda the straw that broke the camels back for me.

This week I was heartened by this.
Anyone thinking the Silent Majority has not found their voice will be surprised at the outcome of the next general election.

Nothing... not a PEEP, about the auction on CNN Headline News, or CNN.com!
Wonder why?

14 October 2007

Lanza, Andretti, Gabelli, Et. Al.

At age 60, I frequently find myself awake at 3:30 A.M., wondering if I can turn the TV on to catch a little news without waking Sara Jean. TV advertising for sleeping aids has increased as we "Boomers" have entered a new phase in our lives, so I take comfort that this experience is probably not all that different from my peers. What I find interesting is the way our minds work, (or don't work), during this sometimes "half awake" period of time.

For whatever reason, this morning my mind focused on the name "Mario".
This gearhead immediately thought of Mr. Andretti... perhaps the greatest race car driver that ever depressed a throttle, but I also thought of the actor/tenor, and the recently scandal-ridden mutual fund manager named Mario.

Here's my question:
By adding the masculine "O", did Italians find a way to name boys Mary?

I'm treading dangerous territory here, I know. But remember, this is "half awake" thinking.
If these guys are really named Mary and it becomes general knowledge, Marios the world over will need to be warned to avoid saloons in Wyoming or in certain small towns in Alabama!
(Or maybe they can just go by the nickname "Butch"?)

08 October 2007

Helicopter Crash!

More than two years ago, before I knew how to make going to links simple for you, I wrote this post.

Yesterday, I laughed and shook my head when I was "net alerted" to this article.
(You have to read the last sentences of the article to see that with "News" people, nothing really changes!)
Di, these dummies are from Roanoke!

07 October 2007

The Best Line of the Week-

If you are easily offended, stop reading now.

Talking about how effective Liberals are at stopping evil in the world ie. protecting freedom of speech for everyone,
in a comment to
this post,
Josh Scholar wrote the line of the week:

"... Puffed up turds. They are to shit what cheese puffs are to corn.
I would go quite a distance to avoid being associated with such people."

Slam... Bam... 10-Count... "Yer out!"

That folks, describes it crudely, but perfectly for me.

Instapundit led me there.

04 October 2007

Memory and Coincidence

September 1st was Mother's 82nd birthday. She's very well, all things considered...
thank you for asking!
One of these days I'll treat you to a comprehensive "Nellie" post, and by showing her sense of humor, give you insights into her son.

But that's for another day...

Mom is now living in a "Luxurious Senior Living" apartment in Pensacola.
It's a beautiful place... Grand Piano and two fireplaces in the foyer, pool, arts and crafts room, library, exercise room, putting green, billiards room...
I hope to live as well if and when I reach that stage in my life. Sometimes she forgets and loses things. Nothing odd about that... she's 82 and most things she's lost turn up later. "Wonder how that got THERE?!"
So I wasn't surprised two days ago when she said, "I've forgotten which unit you were in in Viet Nam. There's a gal here who talks about her son flying helicopters and she said what unit he was in, but I couldn't remember if that was your outfit."

I emailed and reminded her I was at Camp Enari in the 4th Infantry Division with the
"Gambler Guns" my first three months in Viet Nam, then I was infused North to Chu Lai and spent the rest of my tour with the Americal Division and the "Warlords".

The number of American soldiers in Viet Nam reached its' peak in 1969 while I was there... something like 550,000 U.S. Troops. When I came home and some nice grandmotherly type, hearing I had just returned would ask "Did you know my grandson, Bob Smith?", I would smile and just say "No, I don't think so." To her credit, Mom started off acknowledging the chances I'd know her neighbor's son were slim...
"But wouldn't that be a coincidence?!"

Yesterday she emailed:
"She told her son your name and he said, Greybeard? Sure I know him! Prince of a fellow! We went to O.C.S. and Flight School together, and my hooch in Viet Nam was 300 feet from his!"

And when Mom said his name, his face came to mind and the memories flooded in. (OPD, It's Wiggs.)

So, the next time you're forced to look for a needle in a haystack, don't be dismayed...
You MAY prick yourself with the first handful!

02 October 2007


Can you believe it? This was just a couple months ago!
(Thank God, "Wishin' don't make it so!")

01 October 2007

Airline Reservations Rant

Yeah, that's the way I feel sometimes.
Several months of operating a muffler-less chain saw... years of riding noisy motorcycles... and 40 years of operating turbine helicopters, (even with proper hearing protection), have taken their toll on my hearing. So it really seems to me the Airlines have conspired to frustrate me in this stage of my life!

We leave for a week in Hawaii with beloved classmates on 1 November. We'll be flyin' to Mesa to spend the night with Big Bubba, then he will accompany us to Hawaii for the week. Through a mis-communication, we ended up making our reservations separately. Although we are traveling to Honolulu on the same airplane, we didn't insure we would be seated together.
I decided to remedy that situation this morning.

Our reservations were through Priceline.com. Our flight was booked on ATA. That presents a problem all its' own, 'cause those folks don't talk to one another. But the most irritating thing is that when you dial an 800 number these days you can just about bet you'll get someone that speaks English with a wonderful, lilting accent. If they are a soft-speaking individual, this tired old hearing-impaired Fart simply cannot understand what is being said at the other end of the line.
I got put on hold, and the music they played during that interim was loud enough to be heard across the room when I laid the phone down!
Why can't the customer service reps speak at the same volume as the "hold" music?

Gettin' old's a bitch!

30 September 2007

Hi-Tech Scouts

Former student Tom calls and says, "I'm involved with an experimental unit of the Boy Scouts and I was wondering if you'd help me?"
According to Tom, the Boy Scouts are experiencing dwindling numbers. In the face of "Halo 3" and other distractions, scouting seems pretty boring to kids, I guess. Tom is a leader in a program the organization is testing to try to get kids interested in technological vocations like aviation. Tom owns a nice Piper Seneca, and has already exposed the boys to his airplane... showing them a thorough preflight, then taking them on a short flight. He realizes taking a bunch of boys (and a few girls) for a ride in the helicopter would be cost prohibitive, but wants me to talk to them about what makes the machine tick... helicopter aerodynamics... being safe around helicopters... what jobs are available today... what I think the future holds for the industry in general.

I'm glad to volunteer to help and flattered that Tom would ask.

Two hours before the Scouts arrive I push the helicopter out and give it a bath. I've been givin' it "a lick and a promise" for a couple weeks now, and I'm glad to have the incentive. "Pledge" on the windshield, a good vacuuming of the interior, then a damp cloth to take the dust off the instruments, panel, and all the hard surfaces. I'm pleased when the job is done.

The group arrives. There are 8 boys, 2 girls, and 4 adult leaders. I had forgotten about the semi-military nature of scouting, and was mildly surprised when Tom called the group to attention, then put them "at ease" to introduce me and ask me to detail my background.
I'm also surprised, looking at these 16-17-18 year old faces, to hear myself talking about almost 40 years of flying beneath varied rotor blades.

We discuss how helicopters are like airplanes, and how they are different. We talk about how to avoid being dissected by rotor blades. I hand Tom the checklist and we do a thorough preflight, discussing how the various components make the machine work, and how stresses sometimes make those parts break... necessitating a good preflight.

Three of the boys are soaking all this up like a sponge. The rest, including the girls, are along for the ride... they're "punching a ticket" for some reason... to get one more merit badge? I don't know. They're not disrespectful or disruptive... they're just "there".

Finished with the preflight, I position the group a safe distance away and start the bird, then do a short hovering demonstration, to include flying backwards. When I'm ready to land, I do a hovering autorotation, demonstrating what the pilot would do if the engine failed while hovering.

Another question and answer period follows with a few more questions about my demonstration. One of the kids asks, "what does the helicopter cost?" I can tell they're a little stunned at the answer.
I explain why helicopters are so expensive, but I sense much the same thing I feel whenever I talk with the public about helicopters... although the R22 has brought the cost of flying helicopters down by a huge margin, they are still prohibitively expensive for "everyman", and I don't think we will see a helicopter in every garage in the foreseeable future.

But the industry is changing. There are more and more helicopters flying. Within five years, virtually all the Viet Nam era pilots will have retired... the industry is aware of this fact and the numbers of students learning to fly helicopters is up dramatically in the last year. One flight school is advertising on National media outlets.

I hope Tom's experimental Scout unit works. Today's video games are amazingly realistic. Kids need to be exposed to the real world those games emulate.

27 September 2007

I Really Left My Heart, In...

Savannah Georgia.

Spring of 1968-

Ole Prairie Dog, another classmate, Jim, and yours truly were about to graduate from Primary Flight School at Ft. Wolters, Texas.
Our leaders informed us we had a choice to make:
The Viet Nam war was chewing up helicopter pilots at a pretty rapid rate. The ARMY realized a need to expand their training facilities and in addition to their Advanced Flight Training School at Ft. Rucker, Alabama, had just opened a facility at Savannah, Georgia to increase the output of pilots. Those of us that thought we might like to train at Savannah rather than "Mother Rucker" were told we should submit a letter stating why it would benefit the ARMY for us to get orders for Savannah. The whole idea of training in Savannah... heart of the
Old South and near the beach... fascinated me. I had to stretch pretty far to come up with a reason that might seem logical to my ARMY leaders... after finishing Flight School I had applied to go to Cobra School, which was located at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah.
I suggested that if I was already at Savannah, the ARMY wouldn't have to cut new orders and bear the expense to send me there.
I don't know if my letter was convincing or if there were so few classmates asking to go to Savannah that all those requesting to go got their wish, but OPD, Jim, and I all ended up there.
I'll always be glad I made that decision. I loved the town.

We moved into a 200+ year-old townhouse in a part of town being gentrified.

We were all single. We knew at the close of training we were going to Viet Nam. We were in a town with a great history, a bustling economy, and great restaurants...
(we lived two blocks from the famous
Mrs. Wilkes boarding house.)
As you might guess, we tried to pack a lot of living into the four months we spent in Savannah!

We loved to eat at a restaurant called "The Boar's Head", located on River Street. There was one thing that kept us from going there as often as we would have liked...
River Street was paved with cobblestones, and driving to the restaurant rattled the fillings outta your teeth. I hated those stones!
That is, I hated them until I got the history lesson:
Ships from England would dock on the river to pick up mostly cotton, some tobacco, and other goods "the colonies" could offer. These ships came to Savannah empty, and were loaded with the stones as ballast for stability. Deckhands would throw the stones overboard to make room for the cargo headed back to England, so those stones were used to pave River Street. When I realized the cobblestones had all made the long trip from England on sailing ships, I had a different attitude about driving on them.

I looked for a photo to give you a look at the stones and found the one below.
If you've never been to Savannah I recommend you go.

But ladies... if you're gonna walk around River Street, wear flats!

24 September 2007

U.S. Health Care

"An MRI in May 2005 revealed a tumour in her brain. Her family doctor couldn't expedite appointments booked with specialists for July 19 and Sept. 19, 2005. As the tumour pressed on her optic nerves, her vision deteriorated."

Talk about terrible health care!
This system MUST be changed!
It's expensive, inefficient, and it's certainly not meeting the needs of the people.

And worst of all,
some folks want to model the U.S. Health Care system after it!

A malignant tum(our), removed in time to save the patient's life, in the U.S.!
C'mon, think about it... Do we truly want Socialized Medicine here folks?
Our Health Care system isn't perfect... not even close.
But it's a lot more responsive and a helluva lot better than anything else I'm seein' out there.

20 September 2007

Use It Up, Wear It Out?

Them's my new boots, just arrived from Sporty's Pilot Shop.
They're exactly like my old boots except I'll have to go through the temporary pain of having to break these in. My old boots were wonderful... like putting on an old pair of slippers.
But there's a big problem with my old boots...
my feet get wet when it's raining because there are "substantial" holes in the soles of both boots.

I've been wearing "Wellington" boots since High School. I like the look of them. While I was riding motorcycles I liked the protection they afforded my ankles. Once they are broken in I love the way they feel.

Normally I'll wear them until the soles wear out, then have them re-soled. With proper care, I'll re-sole a comfortable pair a couple times before cracks begin to appear on the boots alongside the widest part of my foot. Then I start lookin' for a new pair of Wellingtons.

My old ones were quite comfortable, and except for letting weather in, were perfect.
I took them to my local shop to be repaired.
The sign on the door said "Closed".

So I grab the yellow pages and search...
Shoe repair, boot repair, shoe sales and service?
No listing.

I ask friends.
Most referred me to my old shop, thinking as I did that it was still open.
Now I'm desperate. I ask friends from other towns... and find out most were driving all the way to my old shop for their shoe repair.

Last week, while in "Big Town", I ask friends if they can help. One tells me of a shop that is 60 miles from my home, but it's not far off the route I take when I come to town to teach students. Well if that's my only choice...
I walk into the store, and immediately there's a bad vibe...
The proprietor isn't friendly... he's got "attitude".
He gives my boots the once-over and without humor says, "Well, ya wore these out, didn't ya?"

"Yep. Are they repairable?"


He produces a form, takes down my name and phone number, then says "that'll be $70, and I need payment up front."

Seventy dollars!?
A new pair will only cost $104, and my company will reimburse
all but $4 of that as a uniform expenditure!

He shrugs. He's not tryin' to work with me at all.
"Do you want 'em fixed or not?"

"I think not. Thanks anyway."
I pick up my boots and walk out.

At the airport, after hearing my rant, one of my former students says, "I know this old Italian guy that'll repair 'em. He charges $38. I'll take 'em and have him fix 'em."

But there is an alarm in that sentence, isn't there?
"An old Italian guy?" He's more than 80 miles from my home.
Under normal circumstances I wouldn't make that trip to have a pair of boots repaired.
I'll bet he doesn't have an apprentice at his elbow learning his trade. When this old craftsman dies, what then?
We all know the answer to that question... we'll be pitchin' something into the trash that once could be recycled. Like so many things these days , it'll be something we can add to our "I can remember back in the old days" list.

Isn't that sad?

I don't want to end this post on a downer, so I figured I'd show ya this article to make ya smile!
Some of "the old days" are making a comeback!