29 April 2008

In Life and Politics...

If you HATE...
If you are negative...
If you surround yourself with destructive attitudes...
Others take notice.
Positive, productive people avoid that behavior, and those that live it.

Watch with me as this story unfolds...
Indeed, "The chickens ARE coming home to roost!"

28 April 2008


I was "Back Home Again, In Indiana" last weekend.
I intended to take notice of something Saturday, but TwoDogs and Cinders kept Sara Jean and yours truly relaxed and involved in wonderful conversation all weekend long, so I decided pointing it out could wait until we got home.

"Pitchpull" was three years old Saturday.
Big deal.

Thanks for stopping by and helping to educate me.


I teach.
Well, it might be better to say "I try to teach."
More and more, I find students expecting me to tilt their heads upward, open their mouths, and spoon in the information they need to become helicopter pilots. That ain't the way it works, folks.
True learning only comes when you know "Why".

All flying things are fascinating, aren't they?
In my opinion, helicopters are even more so because they have so many things spinning this-way-and-that in order to accomplish lift without twisting themselves into a death spiral. There are SO MANY things a student needs to fully comprehend before he can fly safely. In order to react properly to an emergency, the student needs to really understand the "why".

My latest question, so appropriate today, is "Why do we need fuel?"
Wouldn't it be great if we could commit aviation without using any fuel?!

Students are initially puzzled by the question. Then, when they answer, they try taking the easy route... "Because it makes the engine run."
Yeah, of course.
But WHY?
Or maybe more appropriately here... how?
Why DO we need fuel?

Pilots and non-pilots... do you know?
Some of you only THINK you do.
Yeah, we gotta have fuel, but down to the kernel of it, what does fuel do for us, and...

25 April 2008

Charles Krauthammer

I watch Fox News.
One of the reasons I watch FN is because of Charles Krauthammer and other consultants that have the ability to open my eyes to the "whys" I sometimes fail to see.
Mr. Krauthammer, an MD and psychiatrist, suffered a life-changing diving accident some years ago and is now confined to a wheelchair. How interesting... if the accident forced him to devote more attention to political commentary, I find myself perversely glad he had the accident...
I've learned much from Dr. Krauthammer's writing and commentary.

Last week while watching Brit Hume's"Special Report" I called Sara Jean to stop and look at the TV with me. It looked as if Krauthammer's right arm had been amputated... the right sleeve of his suit appeared to be folded and pinned.
Looking for more information I happened upon
this exchange, which really didn't answer my question, but I found the comments to the post illuminating.
See if you do too.

TalkRadio Humor

Tonight on the Dennis Miller show a guy called in and said:

"Some choice we have in November!
On the Democrat side we have-
... A witch, who is a Lawyer, who is married to a Lawyer.
... A Lawyer, who is married to a witch, who is also a Lawyer.

On the Republican side we have-
A bona fide war hero, who is married to a classy, attractive, soft spoken lady,
Tell me again... why are we having this election?"

22 April 2008


When "the fan stops turnin'" and it gets quieter than you'd like,
your likelihood of surviving the upcoming landing depends on the quality of your landing area and how quickly your body comes to a "complete, dead stop". (Excuse the choice of words there, please.)

Here's why I prefer my chances in the helicopter:

20 April 2008

The Patriot Guard Riders

I have a fairly quick temper. It's gotten me into trouble more times than I can count.
Getting older has mellowed me to an extent. I'm not objective enough to say to what extent, 'cause certain things still anger me to a point that's scary sometimes.
The behavior of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church at the funerals of our dead heroes has, on more than one occasion, made me happy that Fred and his Zoo are several hundred miles away, lest I be tempted to do something I later might regret. (I'd be ashamed to admit the thoughts that have passed through this old skull about Fred and his clan.)

My outrage at this hateful bunch was replaced with joy when I first read the reaction of a group called The Patriot Guard to this poison. The Guard Riders quickly neutered Fred Phelp's ninnies.
(Neutered Ninnies? I like that!)

Would you like to take a front-row seat at a PGR ride?
here and ride along with Jim as he and the PGR provide an escort to one of our fallen heroes. If you like what you read, drop down and read his post below about how "La Nina" came into his life and led to his involvement with the PGR.

Good on ya Jim. You make us proud!

19 April 2008

Canadian National Railway

A week ago I sent the following note via email:

Dear CN,

I'm writing to suggest a way you might improve safety at your grade crossings.
I live in XXXXXXXX, XX, on XXXXXXX XXX Road. There is a CN railroad crossing 1/2 mile West of my home. Sunday night, after working a 12 hour shift, I arrived at this crossing at 8:50 P.M. local time and found a train blocking my way home. No big deal, right? I put my car in park, and with gasoline prices at almost $3.50 per gallon U.S., shut the engine down to wait for my way to be cleared.
At 9:20 local, still blocked by the same train, I called the State Police to insure the train had not derailed. The dispatcher took my number and said she'd get back to me. Ten minutes later she called to say it was a CN train involved in the switching process, and would be clear of the track soon. This was quite a surprise to me, as there had been no movement in the train while I sat there. Shortly after she called the train began to move Northbound. Having to be back to work shortly after dawn in the morning, I sighed in relief. Ten or so railcars passed in front of me, then the train again came to a stop.
At 9:45 I again called the State Police and inquired about the law, stating if it had been broken I wanted to sign a complaint. She said she would give my number to the shift commander and have him ascertain what the law says, then call me.
At 10:10 local the train again began to move North and cleared the intersection, and I drove the 2 minute drive home... after an 80 minute wait! (The XXXXXXXXX State Police Shift commander never returned my call. I'll be calling them again today to clarify what the law says about this matter.)

Here's something for you to consider-
Whenever I see Public Safety announcements concerning the dangers of "racing" across intersections while the safety crossing arms are down, I'm amused...
Believe me, had I had the chance to race across in front of this train, rather than wait 80 minutes for my way to be cleared, I would have. As a matter of fact I'll make you this promise... next time I'm presented with that situation, I WILL be sneaking across the tracks in front of the approaching train!

If you want the public to respect the danger of your trains, you must respect the time the public spends waiting for your trains to clear the way for them to proceed.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this matter. Thanks for your attention.

Your neighbor,

So far I've received no response. I'm sure I can attribute this to the fact that Candian National is pondering which response would most please me. I'm hopeful the company has someone perusing the intenet for comments about them, and they read this post. If I hear from them, you'll be the first to know!

18 April 2008

Do I Have Bad Breath?

Found her.
Enjoyed her.
Blogrolled her.
Dumped by her.
Click on "My Life in the Firehouse" there in my Blogroll and see what happens.
Did you get your invitation? Me neither!
Detail Medic, was it something I said?

She lives!
Click and see.

17 April 2008

Adventures With Kandy

Night landings at accident scenes...
Yeah they're exciting, but statistically they're probably the most dangerous part of flying a helicopter ambulance. The industry has recognized this and is working to make that portion of our job safer. One of the ways to do that is with the use of Night Vision Goggles,
or NVG's.

I retired as the U.S. Army was beginning to use the devices in earnest. I was introduced to NVG's but never flew with them. Early versions were pretty sad...
VERY heavy and awkward, with a limited field of view. (Some said using them was like trying to fly while looking through two toilet paper tubes.) Still, those that learned to use them properly said given the choice, they'd never fly at night without them.
New versions are improved in EVERY way.
In our company, bases in mountainous areas are getting them first. Our base MAY get them sometime before I retire... I'd like to get the chance to use them so I know what all the fuss is about!

Kandy has attached her first set to her helmet and also seems to be sold on them. Go and read about her "Goggles" experience.

16 April 2008

Flying (Color) Blind

I chuckled when I read
this post ...thanks to Instapundit for bringing it to my attention. I once had a color blind student, and he passed his add-on checkride and got his Private Pilot Helicopter license!
This question is for my non-pilot readers:
This gentleman had a restriction on his license that applied to both airplanes and helicopters.
Can you guess what the restriction was, and why?

12 April 2008

Better Than Goin' to the Movies!

(Click to enlarge and get a better look at all those awards!)
Daryl Cagle's cartoon brings a smile, and to Republicans and Obama supporters emphasizes how many questions there are about the poor old General. But help me with something I really don't understand...

John Kerry lied about much of his tour of duty in Viet Nam, to include stretching the truth in order to get his early ticket out or RVN... that third Purple Heart. He lied about signing the SF180 so the general public could review his military service, to include illuminating the questionable discharge he received.

How are Hillary's prevarications different? Isn't this normal behavior for a politician?

Now Obama virtually accuses Pennsylvanians of being "banjo pickin hayseeds".
When this primary process started, did you imagine it would be this entertaining?

10 April 2008

Las Vegas Aerials

We just returned from our trip to Las Vegas a little over a month ago.
How neat to go to Maria Langer's blog and see aerial views of things we just visited at earth-level.
Go. It's worth it just to get a look at the bridge they're building to bypass the Hoover Dam!

09 April 2008

Flight Nurse, ARMY Nurse!

Once in a while I'll type "Pitchpull" into a browser and see what happens.
What happened this time is, I found a Flight Nurse that had linked to "PitchPull" some time back.
I've only had a cursory look at her blog, but what I've read so far is interesting. She likes motorcycles, helicopters, and she's a life-saving Angel.
What's not to like?
Go now and check her out!
I've now had the chance to look more closely at Emily's blog, and find she's been blogging since Hector was just a pup. No probation necessary!

"Land of the Free, Home of the Brave"

Freedom of Speech...
Is that a concept that stops at the Northern U.S. Border?
Actually, for attorneys upset with U.S. foreign policy, I see this as a great opportunity... Go North young man! Seems there's plenty of litigation to be done there!
H/T Instapundit and Michelle Malkin

08 April 2008

Showin' My Ignorance?

Photo credit: Allen Tannenbaum

Pouring steel...
One of these days I'd like to tour a steel mill and watch them actually doing that. I can only imagine how noisy and hot it would be, and I'm sure there would be interesting smells involved too... sensory overload!

When we approach "BigTown" from the right direction, we pass near a steel mill. When they are pouring steel at night, the bright orange glow can be seen from tens of miles away. The roof of the mill is open, I suspect to allow heat to escape. An area two city blocks around the structure is bathed in the golden light. There's a lot of energy there.
It always sets me to thinking... that energy is wasted.

Ethanol is the subject of much discussion these days. Now that we've had a chance to study the ethanol production process, it's beginning to sink in that there are some negative consequences to using it as a motor fuel... the resources we use to make ethanol result in less food being produced to put on dinner tables around the world, and the process to produce ethanol requires as much or more energy than it will return at it's end use.

So my question-
What if we located ethanol production facilities near steel mills, and used the heat now being vented to the atmosphere in the ethanol production process? And I wonder if the same could apply at electric production facilities... those cooling towers we see venting steam at nuclear and coal-fired powerplants?

I'm ignorant. I know absolutely nothing about what it takes to produce a gallon of ethanol.
But if one of the big problems truly is the energy used to produce versus energy available in the end product, it sure seems to me there is energy now being wasted that could be used to reduce the "energy to produce" side of the equation.

Anyone out there know enough about ethanonl production to educate us all?

07 April 2008

"Winning Isn't Everything..."

I'm sure you know how to finish the sentence in my subject line, don't you?!
A few posts back I asked about military leaders and politics.
Stephen Green approaches the question from a different angle, and relates it to political games being played while our troops try to do their jobs.

04 April 2008

I don't care what you THINK you read....

At a friend's blog, a commenter hijacked the comments from out of the blue with this one:

"I would like to ask whether you might want to consider removing Pitchbull (sic) from your blogroll. Having been pointed to this post has not been a pleasure.

I have followed much of the discussion about the video his post points to and I do not want to repeat all the background information available on it. In short, though, this video will not help solve any problem -- and I think it is safe to say that it is a work of fundamentalism; western fundamentalism in this case, but in such not any better that what it claims to criticise.

The only, and really the only good thing about the video is that it shows that we live in countries sticking to the principle of freedom of speech. This, however does not mean that we should agree to all the opinons stated within our culture of freedom of speech or even point to them.

If this was the pig war, I might just have a good laugh and go along, but in this case, the level of escalation is far beyond a point where occasional insults are the only things happening. Further insults will not help.

Pitchbull/Greybeard writes in his post "Bloggers- If you agree with Wilders views, show your support by posting the film. Numbers may help save his life." May I add: Films like this one will put fuel on the fire and take more lives. If the aim really is to bring democracy to other parts of the world, this film is a very drastic and anti-democratic example about how not to "get the job done", to quote somebody else."

I don't know this person, so I have no idea what his/her thought processes are like. But even at a blog frequented by some fairly Liberal folks I think he/she was surprised how readers there defended this crusty old freedom lover.
In response to receiving a cool reception, he/she comes here with this comment:

"Nec, when you say you "do support Greybeard in that [you] believe freedom of speech is more important than weather (sic!) [you] agree with what is said," you also seem to support my opinion stated in my comment above. I do not find an indication that I called for censorship of the video; I stated pretty much the contrary of a call for censorship. Please also note that I did not ask for the censorship of Greybeard's blog. What I did in the comment section of the blog you are referring to was, simply, ask a question. Where are we when questions may not be asked?"

I'm really REALLY confused...
He/She didn't call for censorship of "PitchPull"?
Suggesting others not watch Geert Wilder's movie "Fitna" to determine it's value or lack thereof... that's not an act of censorship?
As one of our Presidential candidates has repeatedly told us, "words have meaning".
Now help me to understand...
What am I missing about the meaning of the word "censorship"?

03 April 2008

Rain Rain Rain

I found that picture on the internet, but it depicts the view our mechanic will probably have of his home tomorrow. One town just South of us had three months worth of rain in 24 hours. Ground saturated, it started raining again last night and has rained through the morning today. I'm working day shift today. Lemme check the weather for ya...

KXXX 031845Z AUTO 14008KT 7SM OVC006 09/08 A2994 RMK AO2 LTG DSNT S THRU W=

That visibility is actually an improvement... it was 2 1/2 miles in rain and fog when I got out of the car this morning.

Under these circumstances we pull the multi-million dollar hovering/flying emergency room into the hangar and let our dispatchers know we probably won't be aviating. This gives them the ability to warn those calling for flights that they probably should be rounding up ground transportation for their patient, even as dispatch checks to see if our weather has miraculously cleared enough for us to push out of the hangar and launch.

And they do call.
We call it "Chopper Shopping". The phone rings and I'm asked to check weather for an inter-hospital flight to Blah-blah. I smile.
"Blah-blah" hospital has one of our competitors helicopters parked literally within sight of their ER door, about half a mile South. It's almost certain they called our competitors first, got a refusal, and then called us to tempt us to fly in these conditions. They're not being evil... they have someone in their ER that needs a helicopter, and they're trying their best to set up the transport.

I check current weather and forecast for the entire route... home base to the transmitting hospital, from there to the receiving hospital, then back home, considering flight and waiting time involved. With the weather I showed you above it's a no-brainer...
I say NO.

Fifteen minutes later the phone rings again. My dispatcher says, "It's Blah-blah again. They want to know if you can do the flight now."

They've just wasted 15 minutes of this patient's life... time they could have used to get them rolling toward the care they need via ground ambulance. Sometimes this can go on for hours...
"Can you fly now?"
"Can you fly now?"
It's oddly like dealing with children on a long trip, asking "are we there yet?"
Sometimes I'm tempted to anonymously call the patient's family and suggest they have a lawyer investigate what transpired before their loved ones were finally transported to get proper care.

With rain comes car accidents. It's frustrating to turn down flights knowing those victims need our help. In all cases we have to resign ourselves... it does no good to pluck a patient from an accident scene, then kill them and all aboard the aircraft trying to fly in non-flyable weather.

So we put "The Astronaut Farmer" into the player,
kick back, and push "play".

Phone rings... push "pause".
Push "play". A few minutes pass. Phone again... push "pause".

We REALLY do want to fly!
Since we can't, we're happy they invented the "pause" button.
(A review of the movie is on the way. Hint... NO!)