30 July 2008

It Made Me Oddly Sad...

Go and read this post and see if it has the same impact on you.
Heaven help us, 'cause we can't seem to help ourselves.

Optimism, Or Lack Thereof...

We've all had the experience...
You encounter the "gloomy gus" who wants to go into the details of his quadruple bypass and recovery therefrom. If you see him in the grocery before he sees you, you hightail it to the opposite end of the store to check the price of premium diced clams, hoping he's headed for the checkout line.

It pays to be positive.
Like flies to sugar-water, positive people attract others.

I'm mostly a "positive attitude" guy, but it's getting more and more difficult.
One of my last flights bummed me out.
"Your patient is at Rock City Memorial Hospital. She's a 58 year old female, renal failure and rule out sepsis. She weighs 320 pounds."

Ugh for several reasons...
It's hot. The Rock City helipad is adjacent to tall utility poles with wires, mandating a one-way in, one-way out approach/departure.
I check, and the wind is cooperating for an into-the-wind departure, thank God. But that can only happen after we have loaded her bulk into the helicopter. Hoisting that kind of weight through the clamshell doors will be a task that will require two people on the lifting end of the stretcher and another inside the helicopter holding the folds of fat away from the wall as the other two push and lock the stretcher in place.


I always stay close to my crew on these flights... these little hospitals don't have many hands to help lift these heavy patients, so I frequently need to don gloves to help transfer them from the hospital bed to our stretcher. This time is no different. She has about a foot of tissue overhanging each side of the hospital bed, so I'm interested to see how we'll elevate the siderails of our stretcher after we have loaded her there.
Six people around her, three on each side, we all grab handfuls of the bedding beneath her...
Steve counts "one, two, three", and we move her more easily than I thought possible until I do the math: 320 divided by 6= less than 60 pounds each. No big deal. Steve reaches from the opposite side of the stretcher and lifts the fatty tissue out of the path of the siderail as Jim raises it, then they do the opposite side. The siderails disappear. It's an amazing sight.

We load her, fly her, unload her, and get her to the ICU safely.
On the flight back to base I ask, "Was she insured?"
Laughter from the crew answers my question. "She was on Public Aid."
Your tax dollars paid for this "Uninsured" patient to fly by helicopter to get the health care she needs, folks. And tax dollars will pay for her hospital stay, because no federally funded hospital can turn her away, and all the Level One trauma hospitals in Bigtown are federally funded.

I'm conflicted here. How much of this is a lack of personal responsibility?
I realize she's probably mentally ill. I realize she needs a support network.
I realize for her, food is a drug. To her, it's a drug every bit as powerful as heroin.
But she is our slave, isn't she?
We have established a system where she has locked herself up.
On public aid, she has the funds to eat enough to make herself morbidly obese. (This case is worse than morbidly obese... what's the term for that?)
And the scary part? We deal with cases like this often enough that my question, "Was she insured?" elicited laughter.
I ask, "How does she get so fat on Public Aid?"

Jim responds... "Government cheese."

What is OUR responsibilty here in our nearly bankrupt health care system?
Isn't caring for a patient like this a form of codependency?
The system we've established is partially responsible for her condition!

And here is where it begins to be difficult for me to remain positive about the course we're taking...
Let's get back to personal responsibility. These days no one is responsible for the mistakes they make.
"I stole those shoes because he was rich and I was embarrassed with my footgear."
"I stole his BMW because he looked so smug sitting there and I can't afford one."
"I'm fat because I can't stop eating trans-fats at McDonalds."

And instead of realizing where our real problem lies and resolving it, (that would be HARD and would require facing personal responsibility), we're headed toward more Socialist attitudes... more codependency. "Hope and change" means more government programs and more tax dollars helping more of these folks get more access to "government cheese"... a vicious cycle.

I'm in a funk.
Help me to see how we get back on the right course.
Show me how to be optimistic about our future.

28 July 2008

300 Miles Per Gallon

Would you be interested in an enclosed, 4-wheel, diesel powered motorcycle that gets 300 miles per gallon? The rumor is that Volkswagen may actually produce this thing in 2010. I have the same problem I had when considering the new "Smart" car...
If it costs $26,000, the purchase price would fuel/repair my present (paid off) work car for the rest of my life, even assuming $5/gallon gasoline. But it's exciting, and a step in the right direction.
You can read more about it here.

26 July 2008

Moron Global Warming

"While it will take some time for the research community to digest this new information, it must be mentioned that new research contradicting the latest IPCC report is entirely consistent with the normal course of scientific progress. I predict that in the coming years, there will be a growing realization among the global warming research community that most of the climate change we have observed is natural, and that mankind's role is relatively minor."

Apparently the good Doctor was very nice while he shot holes in AGW theories during his testimony before the Senate.

Very soon, some will be able to tell us it tastes like chicken, I bet!

Another One Bites the Dust

I'd take great pleasure in it, except we are balanced on a precipice ourselves and don't need someone poking us in the sternum...
Several Brit Blogs I regularly read are referring to a political meltdown there. "Two countries separated by a single language" keeps me from knowing precisely what is going on, but what little I can glean indicates a big part of the problem is economic. The "Tax and spend" Labour party has apparently screwed the pooch there, and will be on its "arse" soon enough. If you can speak and read English, please go here, read the post and all the links, then come back and translate for the rest of us.
(Don't read the comments unless you're prepared for strong language.)

And the ironic thing for me, once again?
Doesn't "We are the ones we've been waiting for" want to take us down that same Socialist path?

GOD help us.

Look Ma, No Tail Rotor II !

(If you missed the first exciting installment of "Look Ma, no tail rotor", you can catch up with the rest of us here.)
I can never remember whether it's Newton's first, second, or twenty-third law...
"For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." For conventional twin-engine airplane drivers, it's what makes takeoffs interesting because if you lose your "critical engine", Mr. Newton's law might make the last seconds of your life exciting.
Newton also keeps most helicopter pilots on their toes by constantly keeping them aware of that little turny-thingy on the back of the machine, the "anti-torque rotor".
The turning main rotor tries to twist the fuselage of the helicopter in the opposite direction. The tail rotor is used to stop or control the amount of "equal and opposing" force.

Tail rotors are dangerous.
Back when I was still flying Bell LongRangers, one of my main worries on scene flights was having someone walk into the tail rotor. The bottom of the tail rotor arc reached down to a level less than 4 feet above the ground, so even a child was at risk. I always tried to park the aircraft in such a way that the tail rotor was opposite the direction ground EMS personnel would approach the aircraft... Chaotic scenes with everyone running around willy-nilly were nerve-wracking.

You have to be more than 6 feet tall to be concerned about encountering the tail rotor on the BK117 I now fly, (assuming the aircraft is sitting on level ground). So I can now be a little more relaxed at accident scenes.
The other consideration about tail rotors is their vulnerability. They are quite fragile, and they are at the rear extreme of the helicopter, helping them to be a better lever and do the job they have to do. That position also makes it more likely the pilot will screw up and strike them against something in a hovering turn or extreme nose-high attitude. As we have seen before, a conventional helicopter suddenly losing its tail rotor is an interesting study in physics.
So for a number of reasons, efficiently doing away with the tail rotor is a good thing.

Sitting in my office the other day I heard what sounded like a truck going down the road with the tread of a tire coming off. When the sound didn't fade away into the distance I ran to see what was causing the noise and saw one of the above pictured aircraft land and taxi to the fuel pumps. It's a Kaman Aircraft company "K-Max". The two main rotors cancel out torque. Eliminating the tail rotor also increases the amount of power supplied to the main rotors... and since this machine is designed for lifting, having that extra power to lift is a great thing. And it's an efficient lifter... it can pick up its own weight. There is a penalty in the design... the pilot was flying his machine cross-country to do another job, and when I asked his cruise speed he replied, "Ninety knots".

Other machines use two main rotors to counteract torque...
here's an interesting shot of one you know. Here's another that has just started its U.S. military career.

Finally, there is one more example of a two main rotors to cancel torque shown here. This example is a Russian Kamov, with its coaxial rotor system.

Now, a mental exercise for ya...
Think of how hovering turns are accomplished in all these machines!

25 July 2008

Sparta... Greatness!

It's not often that I'm dumbstruck. I can think of only two or three occasions in my life that I've been rendered speechless.

Back in the days I was flying an AStar for the big construction company, we hangared the aircraft next to some pretty expensive flying machines. Normally I'd preflight the aircraft while it sat next to your everyday Piper Cheyenne or King Air 200.

One morning, groggy and with full coffee cup in hand, I rounded the corner to see this vision parked next to me, and I was awestruck. Like the pictured aircraft, the aluminum shone like a new dime. An aging beauty, it was as nearly perfect as its owner could make it.

Preflighting took longer than usual that morning!

24 July 2008

We Are Building A Religion!

YouTube has censored the video, but it is still available at this blog.

Does the censorship bother you?
First the scumbag New York Times won't publish McCain's op-ed article,
now YouTube also limits the free expression of ideas...
Scary, huh?

Heads up, free-thinkers.

Via Instapundit.

The major media is protecting another fluff democrat too!

21 July 2008

Media Manipulation

"The belief that reporters are trying to help Barack Obama win the fall campaign has grown by five percentage points over the past month." Gee, do you think? Plus this: "A separate survey released this morning also found that 50% of voters believe most reporters want to make the economy seem worse than it is. A plurality believes that the media has also tried to make the war in Iraq appear worse that it really is."

Most of that from a Rassmussen Poll.
It's reassuring, looking forward to November, that people understand they are being mislead.

Lifted from Instapundit.

19 July 2008

How Obama Could Get My Vote

Not really, of course. I prefer my Presidential Candidates to be principled.
But now, instead of doing this, what are they calling it now... a pivot?
(That's a nice way of saying flip-flop.)
So instead of "pivoting" on his position on Iraq, wouldn't you respect him more if he would just say, "My stand on 'the surge' was wrong, and I'm glad to admit it. Our brave heros in Iraq have been successful."

I certainly would.

18 July 2008

17 July 2008

Sometimes It's Irritating

I love it, most of the time.
I'm talking about my job.
As you know, I'm nearing retirement. Another of our Viet Nam Vets retired last month, and it was heartening to see how others reacted... our Med Crews bemoaning that one of their safe, experienced pilots was headed out to pasture, leaving a position open for... the unknown.
So I'm frequently asked, "What about you, GB? When will you hang up your spurs?"
Read the first line of this post again. The answer to that question lies there.

Even when I have to drag myself outta bed while it's still dark outside, it's the gettin' up that I hate. I still enjoy the idea of going to work, strapping the aircraft to my back, setting out to see if someone has found an ALL NEW way to hurt themselves. (And of course, once in a while they do.)
But the last day of my last shift was a trial. May I bore you?

The call from dispatch came at 11:30 A.M.
"Can you take the Children's transport team to Funkytown for a Neonate?"
It's hot... 95 F., but there isn't a cloud within 250 miles, so I accept the flight. I'm airborne with my Paramedic/Neonate team wrangler at 11:42. Twenty-five minutes later we load the team and set out on the next 30 minute flight to pick up the baby. After briefing the team I say, "So let me guess... Premature, respiratory distress, rule out sepsis?"
Over the intercom I hear laughter. That's the situation with about 90% of these flights.

We arrive at the referring hospital, and after shutdown I make my way to the nursery. When I arrive they make a face at me.
"The baby isn't born yet."
That's out-of-the-ordinary, but not unheard of. What's odd is that normally the transport team has been notified if that will be the case. This time they were unaware.

We wait.
And we wait.
And what's odd... the mother-to-be is in the room next to us and we can hear her grunting, at times nearly screaming. At one point we stifle a laugh as she shouts expletives at her significant other.
We wait some more.

At 4:30 P.M., five hours later, the transport team leader comes to me and says, "Another baby has been born that needs to be transported. Can you take this baby back, then come back and get the other one?"

Now my duty time begins to be an issue. I cannot accept a flight that will have me in the air 14 hours after I started my duty day.
I do a quick calculation...
"Yes, I can come back. But I want assurances that that baby will be 'on the ground' before I start back here."
She assures me they are moving Mom to take the baby via C section as we speak.

So we load our new charge aboard the helicopter and fly 35 minutes, back to where we picked up the team. They have one box, (Isolette), so they have to take this baby out and disinfect it before they can go back to get baby #2. That's fine... the BK needs fuel anyway.

Paramedic and I fly 4 minutes to the local airport and get a load of Jet A. We potty, then grab a couple bottled waters and wait for the call from the hospital that the team is once again ready.
The call comes, we fly back and get the team and the box, then fly 32 minutes back over ground we covered earlier.

Back at the nursery I'm relieved to see they are actually hovering over a real baby. I'm looking at my watch. It's gonna be close. Should I call my lead pilot and let him know what's going on here? Yes. If it's necessary I can get an emergency extension for the flight, provided he and I both think the flight can be safely conducted. I call him and let him know what's goin' on.

They take longer than I would like getting the baby ready. By the time we load and take off it's dark, and I'm within an hour of "turning into a pumpkin". We land and safely get the preemie on it's way to get expert help, then takeoff on our final leg.
I land and look at my watch. I have 8 minutes left in my "normal" 14-hour shift, (the normal 12 plus the 2 hour accepted extension.)
I've flown 3.6 hours during my 14 hour duty day. I've landed 8 times during that time, including two night landings. I'm irritated and tired. I'm questioning whether I love my job.

And you should know...
Both Moms were unmarried. Both Moms were "uninsured".
Both Moms were less than 20 years of age.

This was your tax dollars at work, folks!

15 July 2008


You already know I'm a "Use it up, wear it out" kinda guy.
So Marathon Pundit's post made me smile...

Footgear used at the last Republican Convention can be re-used at this one!

Fill In The Blanks-

Two Dead, so this is serious stuff.
But do you suppose the investigator was able to stifle a grin while he wrote this narrative?

Thanks to Bayou Renaissance Man via my brother from another Mom, The Old Man.

14 July 2008

Oh! Canada!

I was surprised and somewhat pleased when I started "Pitchpull" to find many Canadian citizens stopping by, leaving interesting, thoughtful comments. I was fortunate to have considerable email correspondence with one Northerner in particular, where we amiably discussed the differences between our countries. National Health Care and National Defense were top issues in those missives, with a little U.S. politics thrown in for good measure. I'm now realizing we didn't discuss human rights to the degree we should have...
rights like freedom of speech.

Apparently, Freedom of Speech doesn't really exist as a right in Canada.

I don't know if you've been paying attention to our Northern border, but Canada has had quite the tussle going on about what can and what cannot be said about a certain religious group. Up until recently, the skirmishes have been pretty one-sided, with the religious group winning most of these battles simply because they had more money to throw into the fight. Now, finally, Canadians (iens) seem to have awakened to the dangers they face and have begun to dig in their heels. That's a good thing.

One author seems to think if Canada doesn't start protecting the rights of its' citizens, it should be put on a human rights watch here in the United States.

Oh, and my predictions to that correspondent about National Health Care in Canada are beginning to come true too.
I take no pleasure from that... it's just the way socialist systems naturally seem to mature.

The Liberal Mind...

Images are such powerful mind movers.
I'm really, really slow, so can someone please explain to me how putting this image on the cover of a leading lefty magazine helps their candidate?

13 July 2008

Bush Lied! Ummm, Well... Nevermind!

...."We have been hearing from the far-left for more than five years how, 'Bush lied.' Somehow, that slogan loses its credibility now that 550 metric tons of Saddam’s yellowcake, used for nuclear weapon enrichment, has been discovered and shipped to Canada for its new use as nuclear energy.

It appears that American troops found the 550 metric tons of uranium in 2003 after invading Iraq. They had to sit on this information and the uranium itself, for fear of terrorists attempting to steal it. It was guarded and kept safe by our military in a 23,000-acre site with large sand beams surrounding the site."

Since you won't see this on MSNBC, you can read the whole shebang

C'mon! I'm no Rube!
Everyone knows we invaded Iraq to steal their oil!
If you agree, do this:

Put your fingers in your ears, close your eyes, and chant with me...
"Saddam was NO threat! Saddam was NO threat!"

12 July 2008

PUMAS! There's Pumas Out There!

Absolutely cracks me up, and democrats truly are "the gift that keeps on giving"! Hillary Vs. BHO, and the Michigan/Florida fiasco, (which still ain't over, just watch!)

"The Smothers Brothers" had a comedy routine where Tommy would refer to Cougars as Pumas. I've looked all over the 'net to find a video or audiotape to share with you, to no avail. But when this latest "Puma" sighting exploded, the mirth brought on by the Smothers Brothers came rushing back to mind.

And the neatest part? YOU MAY BE A PUMA!
Wanta find out?
All the links you need are
right here!
ThirdWaveDave found it:

10 July 2008

So, How Are You Today?

I am well, thank you, and SO grateful that unlike Varifrank, I am NOT represented by Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Nancy Pelosi !


09 July 2008

Flexibility In Action!

Hopey, Changey, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, Bashful and Doc...
More and more, this guy is looking like Snow White's sidekick.

06 July 2008

July 6, 1983

Twenty-Five years ago today.
A day much like today... hot and humid. Showers were a possibility.
A very pregnant Sara Jean got out of bed to go to the bathroom. She returned to the bedside and woke me...
"I think it's time."
Through bleary eyes I looked to see fluid running down her leg.
That ain't normal!

Suddenly wide awake, bolt upright in bed, I grabbed the phone and called the hospital...
"Yeah, you need to get her here ASAP."
Fiat 124 Spyder had a broken starter, so I ran out and pushed it downhill to jump start it, then came back and loaded my precious cargo. Two miles and five minutes later Sara Jean was on her way to the birthing room. Big Bubba was born a few hours later.

Gosh, is it really 25 years? It doesn't seem that long until you start considering the memories.
I was concerned my male offspring would pay me back in Spades for the worry I had caused my parents for all those years. I fretted needlessly.

My relationship with my son was not, and is not perfect.
From an early age he let me know he had his own interests and would not be following in my footsteps. When I bought him his first logbook and introductory flight lesson, he landed saying he was "frightened from the moment the plane left the ground."

Oh well.

He has been the joy of our life. He has a strong sense of right and wrong. He is overly sensitive to hurting others' feelings. He is a known expert at
his chosen work and won't release a product until it is as nearly perfect as he can make it.
And the thing that impresses me most...
Unlike other 25 year olds I meet and converse with,
he knows he doesn't know.

Reading a comment in another blog a couple weeks ago the commenter said,
"I was forty before I realized there were thousands of things about which I was clueless."
Knowing what you know is one thing. Realizing what you don't know is more important. Maturity comes with knowing you don't know.
Big Bubba has never pretended to know it all. And because of that, he's easy to like.

There's no easy way to emphasize to your kid how proud of 'em you are. They know you're biased, so they shrug their shoulders and say "Oh Dad/Mom!", then look away, embarrassed.
But in Big Bubba, Sara Jean and I have so much to be proud of...
He's intelligent, kind, and sensitive. He wants to succeed on his own, but he's not afraid to call and ask questions when he "knows he doesn't know." He's 1700 miles from home, making his way with extraordinarily little input from his parents.
I am proud of him. WE are proud of him.

So, to my son-
Shrug it off as I know you will, but this I am sure of:
Your old man still doesn't know it all, but when we look around at your peers, most come up miserably short in the comparison.

Your Mother and I are rightly proud of the citizen you have become.
Be proud of yourself too... Don't change a thing.

Happy Birthday!
We love you more than life itself.

05 July 2008

And Then There Were None

Sad news.
James Taylor, the only survivor from the crash of two Bell 407's at Flagstaff Arizona, has succumbed to his injuries.
He also worked at the Flagstaff Medical Center, the intended destination of the helicopter before the crash, so I'm sure the staff there is doubly devastated.

And something that is not being generally reported...
One of the helicopters landed at the Flagstaff airport because of weight concerns and disembarked a Flight Nurse prior to taking off on the short flight to the Medical Center.
I'm having difficulty imagining how that crewmember must now feel.
God bless them all.

I was mistaken. Taylor did not work at the Flagstaff Medical Center. An updated report, with a little new information is here.

04 July 2008

What's It Worth?

We were at a bar. I sat across the table from my two closest friends, both, like me, recently returned Viet Nam Veterans. The conversation turned to military service, and my decision to make the military my career. My friends had both left the military after honorable service.
One commented "I don't want to die for this country."

It was a shock to hear the words.
I had no desire to "die for this country", but knew when I raised my right hand and swore to "protect and defend the constitution of the United States" that my death could be the price necessary to uphold the oath. I took that oath with pride.

My friend's comments were in the immediate aftermath of Viet Nam and should be weighed in that light. Many of us were bitter that our government had risked our lives in that effort, then much of that same government aided and abetted the enemy by openly using the media to further their political careers, questioning our goals there.
I told my friend I was willing to die for his right to express his opinion. It was his turn to be surprised.

There is no question that this country is imperfect. There is no question this country is now politically divided more than it has been in my lifetime.
Yet we still have defenders willing to risk their lives so we have the right to argue, and by arguing, hopefully improve this country.

In my opinion, one of the best measures of how we as a country are doing is to consider how many are willing to suffer great trauma in their lives to come here. Our great neighbor the North, probably one of the better places on earth to live, watches as citizens migrate to the U.S. in surprising numbers.

Is this country worth dying for?
Only so long as there are enough folks willing to earnestly think it is.
Thank GOD for our military!

03 July 2008

Maria Dries Cherries

The list of things that can be done with a helicopter are nearly endless. We frequently use the downward airflow produced by the rotor in agriculture to do beneficial work.
Maria Langer recently used her R44 to dry the fruit on cherry trees.
Her post will give you an insight into the inherent dangers of the work.

02 July 2008

Once An Eagle

Perhaps the best book about military service I ever read.
It's available at
Amazon.com in Hard and Paperpack.
Now and then I get a glimpse of one of our Presidential candidate's close advisors on TV and am reminded of the A**hole West Point Grad from the book- Courtney Massengale.
I assume my readership is smart enough to sort out who I'm talking about.
You are a genuine ass, General. Thank you.