31 October 2009

Going Off To War

I was a 21 year-old kid.
I had just finished flight school and had a whopping 210 hours in my logbook, meaning I was just beginning to comprehend what caused helicopters to successfully push the air away from them.
Forty-One years ago tonight I crawled into my bed in my parent's home knowing that when I opened my eyes in the morning I'd be headed where someone would try to shoot me.
"We interrupt our regular programming to bring you this special news announcement..."
President Johnson announced, effective tomorrow, bombing would be halted on enemy supply routes.

What had I gotten myself into?

Trick Or Treat!

Halloween, and It's SATURDAY NIGHT!

One of my dispatchers reminded me...
We also have the benefit of an extra hour tonight!
(Thanks for nothin', Christina!)
From a year ago, a review.

Prey Or Predator?

I'm always amazed at the fact that now and then someone can say something that is SO obvious you take it for granted and THINK you understand it, but don't REALLY digest it.
Prodded by a comment at
"Althouse", the "light bulb" illuminated.

Are humans predator, or prey?
Of course, the answer is- "yes".
We ARE NOT at the top of the
food chain.
Act accordingly. Our world is changing and we always need to be planning to meet those changes.

30 October 2009

"Yearning To Breathe Free!"

Are you aware of what the Obama administration is doing
(Update... HAS DONE! ) in Honduras?
I'm truly ashamed of our country.
Research. Be informed.
Let's get back to our Founding Father's ideals before it's too late.

Obama's Misery, 30 October 2009

Alert readers will have noticed I've fallen short on my "Misery Index" posts.
There's a reason...
The "M.I." site hasn't been updating on a timely basis.
When I last blogged on the subject the index stood at 8.16%.
Unemployment figures still have not taken off as I expected (but that's still coming, bet on it), and inflation is still a negative number. (With all the money being printed and "stimulating" the economy, that CANNOT last!)
Nevertheless the number IS up, though only slightly, to 8.51%.
If the site continues to update, I'll continue to link as the numbers rise. Will they reach President Jimmah's levels?
I bet Obama can top them.

Chris Muir's DBD- On The Health Care Bill

29 October 2009

"The Story of A Student Helicopter Pilot"

Interested in the costs and difficulties of learning to fly helicopters?
Browsing my sitemeter to see who had stopped by, I found
Alan's blog. He's been blogging the experience of becoming a commercial helicopter pilot and Flight Instructor, and he keeps a running tab on his training, to include flight hours and costs.
He also posts with some regularity.
You might want to give him a look!

Learning "The Impossible", Part 1.

Ft. Wolters, TX, FEBRUARY, 1968
You know you're gonna learn to fly one of these things, so you stand and watch them move against the background of blue sky and marvel. There are lots of little buzzing birds up there...
TH-55's, OH-23's, and a few OH-13's, but every once in a great while you hear the rythmic thumping of a Huey or Cobra and your heart quickens as you run outdoors and watch in awe as it flies by at what seems to be twice the speed of the others...

One of these days you may find yourself in THAT cockpit, manipulating those controls.

You're introduced to the machine you'll fly, the Hughes TH-55 "Mattel Messerschmidt".
Man, it's ugly! Kinda looks like half-an-apple with a pencil stuck in the middle of its butt. You learn to preflight the thing and are boggled by the number of little parts you have to check-
because they can, AND DO, break!
Are you really sure you want to do this? Remember, it's not just the machine that can kill you...
They're shooting real bullets where you're gonna go.

In the machine for the first time with your instructor...
In the luck of the draw you've drawn a good one...
a Warrant Officer-Viet Nam Veteran, easygoing and friendly. He doesn't scream like some of the other student's instructors. And unlike some of the other instructors he keeps his hands off the controls so you know the crazy attitudes the machine is assuming are caused by you, not him... making the little bird come perilously close to crashing.

I know regulars here have seen this video but it bears review, because when you first get your hands on the controls of the helicopter you think to yourself-
Yet when he takes the controls to miraculously avoid making contact with Terra Firma the machine stabilizes and remains motionless over one small piece of real estate.
So, he can do it... Will you ever be able to?

A few days later, four hours in your logbook...
He says, "Pick us up and hover over by that brown patch on the ground." You gingerly lift the collective and the nose swings a little more to the right than you would like, but you nudge the cyclic in the direction he indicated and the bird moves (!) at a steady speed and three foot hover to the spot he indicated. You're unhappy 'cause you never quite get the nose pointed in your direction of travel, but he smiles and says "Good for you!", and suddenly you realize...
"I may eventually be able to do this!" Still you know without question... if he was not in the seat next to you and the engine quit, you'd be in a world of hurt.

But from that point on the dual instruction is magic. You get to the point you can hover and keep the machine in one county and initially you wonder, "is this better than sex?" The machine becomes an extension of your body. You lift, turn, move laterally across the ground, and land... all completely under control. Amazing!
You take off with no difficulty. The approach and landing to a spot is more difficult, but eventually you learn the secret... get your ground speed and vertical speed under control early in the approach, and you'll have better control at your intended landing spot.
Your instructor notices.
He points and says "hover and land over there".
He turns to you, smiles and says "Give me three trips around the pattern... normal takeoffs, normal approaches. If things don't look right, go-around and do it again. Radio calls the way we've been doin' 'em. After your third landing, hover over here and pick me up and we'll talk about it. You'll do fine!"
He unplugs his helmet, opens the door, steps out, gives you a "thumbs-up", latches the door, and leaves you feeling as alone as you've felt in your life....


More later.

The instructor I refer to in the post was a guy named James Gilbreath. He was a good guy and a damned good instructor.
I've intended for years to contact him.
Now, poking around, I find
it's too late.
Prepare the way, Jim. I'll express my thanks to ya later.

28 October 2009

Out Of Tanks, Into Helicopters

Why it was one of the best decisions I ever made:



No "Shouting At The Screen" Here!

I've looked forever to share this with you. A friend finally sent it via email and I was able to identify the source...

How'd she get that thing to fire on automatic?
The Question? "Why do you want a gun?"

Answer- "'Cause a cop is too heavy to carry."

27 October 2009

Stored Food

More handguns than anyone needs... Check.
Short-range rifle... Check.
Home defense shotgun... Check.
Reach out and touch someone rifle (with Leupold scope)... Check.
Abundant ammo for all the above... Check.
Emergency "crank-up" radio... Check.
Bug out bag... Check. (Thanks Terry!)
A respectable amount of "real money"... Check.
One year of stored food... Gettin' there.

We have four months of "Nutrisystem" food in the closet.
"Dinty Moore" beef stew, "Sweet Sue" chicken and dumplings, canned tuna and chicken, and lots of large cans of soup are in the larder, along with a box of powdered milk.

Just to share with those of you as worried about the future as me, my Britisher Chief Pilot, who saw firsthand what happens when a country's economy falls apart, said "Rice!"
A fifty pound bag of rice at Sam's or Costco is cheap...
Will fill your belly with energy-producing carbs...
And will keep forever in a cool, dry storage place.

Thanks Phil. Anyone have further suggestions?


Rush Limbaugh nails it.

Thomas Sowell, one of the few sane voices from the Black community, thinks we are on a path to self-inflicted destruction.

A Good Description of Translating Tendency-

...And other helicopter stuff that doesn't concern Fixed Wingers and normal folks here, because airplanes are relatively simple machines and ordinary people have no need to know this junk.

26 October 2009


"Mainly, the young will pay. They tend to use less care. Obamacare depends on this: Young workers' premiums are needed to fill the pool as aging workers drain it. That's how insurance works, they say. They mistake insurance, which pools similar risks, with the pooling of known dissimilar costs, which is called a raw deal."

Obamacare. Is this REALLY what you want?

25 October 2009

Let's Pretend!

Let's play a game, okay?!!
Let's pretend Banks across the country are in real trouble.

Let's pretend commercial real estate values are plummeting, causing mortgage holders to walk away, which in turn is causing many banks to fail, while we are being told by some media sources, "Don't worry folks, everything is just fine!"

Let's pretend banks, in spite of huge transfusions of tarp money are in more trouble than ever because of commercial real estate problems and mergers with other marginal banks.

Let's pretend further, that insurance provided by the government to cover depositor's assets provided by the FDIC is in BIG trouble.

Then let's try to imagine what would happen if we had a really, really HUGE bank failure.
What do you think would happen?

Do you have large sums in non inflation-proof accounts?
Might be a good time to reconsider those accounts.

Top 40, News, Weather, 'n Sports!

A long time ago in a land far away I listened constantly to the radio and loved Gene Pitney. The DJ would cue up this tune, and after the first few bars...

I thought I was gonna hear this one:

Listen to the first 30 seconds or so of each and see if you agree. George Harrison was sued because the first three notes of "My Sweet Lord" sounded like the first three notes of The Chiffon's "He's So Fine". I'm surprised there wasn't a lawsuit over these tunes opening similarities!

Home Is Where Your Heart Is

I'm sitting up in bed, laptop up and running, Lucy between my legs beneath the covers sleeping. Workaholic Sara Jean scheduled three houses to clean today (Sunday, for heaven's sakes!), and was up and out the door before I woke. Before leaving she brewed a pot and filled the thermos for me...
That thermos and my tall coffee mug were bedside when I woke. I poured myself a cup before firing up the computer.
Life is good, thank you Lord.

Do you travel a lot? We're traveling more now than ever. We go South to Destin as often as possible, (not nearly as often as I would like). We make it back to Indy two or three times a year for get-togethers with old High School classmate friends... these relationships now stronger than they were so many years ago thanks to re-connecting via the internet. I frequently have business in California that requires me to fly there. And now we're getting more familiar with the Phoenix area because Big Bubba lives 15 minutes from the airport in Mesa, Arizona.

Like John Mellencamp, "I grew up in a small town", and my small town was not all that far from Mellencamp's small town. But mine was a short drive from a medium-size town... Indianapolis, Indiana. My town was rural, farmland all around. But drive 15 minutes North and most of the benefits and temptations of big towns were available. So I was aware, sort of, but the foundation laid by my parents kept me out of most trouble. Growing up where I did was a great education unto itself. But that was my nest... my comfort zone.
I didn't leave what is identified on a map as "Indiana" until I was 13 or so, and that was just a foray across the State line into exotic Louisville, Ky. A family trip driving Westward across the nation to California when I was 15 opened my eyes to how much country there is in our nation...
Another great bit of education. I was homesick from the time we left until I was once again petting the Labrador we left in our neighbor's care.

I moved to the town where we now reside in 1980 because a Nurse friend and her Doctor husband owned a JetRanger and needed a Chief Pilot, and I needed a job. But a factor in that move was that I was tired of living in a big town...
Traffic, noise, smells, traffic, crime, rush-rush-rush, population density, traffic...
I wanted to take a deep breath and lower my heart rate.
I've now lived here longer than I've lived anywhere else. It's not perfect, but moving here was a good decision... I met Sara Jean here and raised my boy in an area where I had much more control over the things he could be exposed to. (And "the proof is in the pudding!")

Phoenix is exotic and interesting. Tall beautiful cacti, mountains in the distance, and an absolutely clear blue sky most of the time. It's a short drive from Phoenix to lots of wonderful things to see.
But it's a big town with all the problems associated with big towns... and more.
There is a disconcerting attitude there. Lots and lots of folks speaking Spanish around you. And we've had at least two experiences where someone we approached didn't speak English at all, and had "attitude" about the fact we expected them to be able to communicate with us. (These folks were in retail outlets!)
Phoenix is now the #2 kidnap city in the world, following Mexico City. In a previous post I showed you the "Bait car" warning signs that you see frequently in Big Bubba's neighborhood...
A constant reminder to not leave your car unlocked... don't leave valuables in your car, even out-of-sight in the trunk!

So we're back in our little town. My heartrate is back to about a beat a second.
No cactus... The grass is out of control because it's been raining most of the time we've been gone, so skies have been gray.
But we're here 'cause we want to be here. Are we "Hicks" because we're comfortable with this lifestyle? Obviously I can't be objective about that, but probably.
Experiencing Phoenix, and the drive over to L.A. to spend a few days was wonderful.
Being back in "dullsville" is pretty boring...
"Boring" is wonderful too.

24 October 2009

PHX, 24 Oct 09

We're at the gate, waiting to board the airplane. There's much to like about this airport...
You can get here from Big Bubba's apartment via Light Rail, although we didn't use that service this time. The terminals are separated so traffic is split and not so heavy dropping passengers off and retrieving them. Security is also easier to clear because they also are split in several areas throughout the airport. So here I am, taking advantage of the FREE WiFi at Gate C-9, and we have an hour 'til the flight takes off. The smell of Cinnabons and Starbucks is in the air.

It's 90 degrees here but we hear it's a comfortable 60 or so at home.
That's bearable, thank goodness.

I'm sure you frequently feel as I do...
I need a vacation to recover from my vacation.

The "Working Vacation"

We left home last Saturday and flew Westward to Phoenix. The whole idea was that Sara Jean and I would spend one night in Sun City, collect our son, and head further West to Los Angeles. I had a refresher clinic to attend. Big Bubba hoped to schedule a few interviews with celebrities while I was in school. But gathering the family together would mean the drive to L.A. could be spent catching up on news, and the evenings in L.A. could be spent enjoying one another's company while going out to eat and doing other things after I was out of class.

The stars didn't align... literally. Big Bubba called several of the celebrity's agents he was interested in interviewing and NONE of them were gonna be available during the period we'd be out there.
Big Bubba started waffling about going. Torrance can be chilly during this time of year, so Sara Jean feared she wouldn't be comfortable spending time around the pool.
My family abandoned me. I drove out and back alone, listening to "The DaVinci Code" on CD...
Fifteen hours behind the wheel, out and back.
Do you think I'll ever try this again in the future? Ha!

For a week now it's been donuts and coffee in the morning, fast food at lunch, and whatever restaurant strikes me/us in the evening. Fat, starch, sugar, a little alcohol, and too many calories has been the order of the day. I know I've gained at least five pounds this week. I'm glad they don't weigh you and charge you by the pound to get on the airplane, 'cause the trip home for the two of us could break the bank!

I've got to jump in the shower, then pack my bag. We're goin' out to eat again, then heading for the airport. I hope to update you from home.
Be safe 'til then.

23 October 2009

God's Blessings

I just got off the phone with a brother.
Without an internet connection I never would have known this man.
Just one more reason I know...
God has a plan, and it's a good one.

Metals, 23 October 2009

Gold, $1.056.40.
Silver, $17.72.

It's still early in the game.
Get on board.

23 October 2009, Back In Mesa

That's the father of the Robinson Helicopter line... Frank Robinson. He literally built the first R22 in his living room, choosing and maybe modifying every nut, bolt, washer, and flange on the machine. If you compare an R22 today to that first machine, although there have been lots of changes, it's been an "evolution" rather than "revolution" as the helicopter has matured. Most would have difficulty telling the difference between the newest and oldest R22. Frank got it right, straight outta the box.

Folks who know the Robinson line will notice the strange oval hole in the flat back-plate of the machine in the picture above. That's the exhaust for the RR300 turbine in the new R66. The RR300 is an upgrade of the tried-and-true Allison 250, so it will be a reliable power source from the start. It will burn less fuel while providing more horses than the JetRanger powerplant, and since the R44 is already faster than the JetRanger, I suspect the numbers across the ground for the R66 will be very attractive to those looking for a replacement for that bird. Stay tuned.

The school was 3-1/2 days long. Monday and Tuesday were spent in the classroom reviewing history, weather, accidents, systems and limitations, emergency procedures, and performance. We had a great tour of the factory on Monday.

Wednesday morning was devoted to maintenance issues...
What breaks. How it breaks. Why it breaks. How to maintain and use the machine in the safest, most efficient manner.
Wednesday afternoon we fly. You get to climb into the bird you chose when you signed up for the school, either the R22 or R44, and go out with an instructor that most likely is a factory test pilot flying these birds every day. I've been flying Robinsons since 1983 and consider myself proficient in both machines, but these guys make my skills look like chopped liver...
They "put the helicopter on" like you or I put on an old pair of slippers. Got questions about a maneuver? This is the place to be. Ask, and you'll get your question answered, most likely with a practical demonstration.

Our flight lasted an hour and since I was renewing my flight instructor certificate I got to demonstrate "settling with power", hover,
straight-in, and 180 degree autorotations, and a demonstration of an auto starting from an out-of-ground-effect hover. During the flight we talked about zero-G pushovers and why they're to be avoided.

Friday morning, back in the classroom, was spent in review. There was some confusion about starting and shutdown procedures, so the company's chief mechanic was called in to discuss those issues. All questions satisfactorily answered, we took the end of course exam, graded those tests, and got our certificates of completion. (Mine indicates this course is an FAA approved "Flight Instructor Renewal Course" and is the document I'll need to take to my local FAA office next week to get a new CFI certificate headed my way.)

I cannot remember... is this my ninth, or tenth time attending this course? I was asked several times by other students... "Why are you here?" The answer is simple...
I want to stay on top of changes to this machine. If someone has come up with a better way of doing something, I want to know about it. If there are changes happening in the industry, this is one of the first places you'll learn about it. My 3+ days spent here were well worth the effort.

Today? There is a museum over at Falcon Field here in Mesa that I've been threatening to go have a look at since Big Bubba moved here.
I think I'll get that ticket punched, and if I see anything of real interest I'll try to get pictures to show ya later.

So stay tuned.

21 October 2009

My Friend From Yellowknife-

My new friend from Canada said today,
"Government is like a leech. Leeches suck your blood. BIG leeches kill their host!"
Guess how he feels about health care in Canada?

21 October, '09

Doc Richard emails and asks "What did ya learn about carb ice? What were your impressions of the R66?" I'm beatin' my head against the wall tryin' to get my friend to just leave his comments here...
Gotta have a talk with the guy!

This is why I continue to come to this course after all these years. A Britisher named Rick Mornington-Sanford just happened by our classroom. He's an accident investigator, and in pursuit of doing that job has taken a personal interest in carburetor ice in Great Britain. Cool and damp much of the time, Rick feels many of the accidents that leave him scratching his head looking for a cause have carb ice as a big contributing factor. He felt so strongly about this, he petitioned several organizations to help him prove his theories, finally finding money and resources to actually put a camera in the carb throat of an R22 Beta and photograph what happens there.

Robinson helicopters are different than airplanes, obviously. But they're also different from other helicopters in that they are de-rated, meaning they have high-horsepower engines but the operator is limited in the use of that power. The reason for this is that the engines will continue to produce normal horsepower ratings at higher altitudes, making Robinsons the heliocpter of choice for many of us that know and love them.

But that presents an unintended consequence...
Partial power settings, particularly on takeoff, allow ice to form across the gap between the carb butterfly and the throat of the intake. In England, they have had many accidents where they find a smoking mess and dead pilot and can find no reason why the helicopter crashed. It's been Rick's theory that these accidents were caused because pilots typically don't use carb heat on takeoff, and the above mentioned throttle setting, (NOT WIDE OPEN) allows ice to close off the intake system, causing the engine to quit during one of the most critical times in a flight... takeoff.

The photos prove him correct. Using carb heat at all times carb ice is possible will prevent many accidents, all thanks to Rick's research.

The R66?
There were two of 'em on the flightline when we were allowed to look them over...
One with strain gauges and other test equipment all over it, the other looked like it could be started and flown away by a new customer. (I suspect it will be on the floor at HAI in Februrary, if you want to see it.)
It looks enough like an R44 that your average citizen won't discern the difference. The interior is JetRanger-like... two seats up front and three across in the back. My calibrated eye thinks interior room is slightly larger than the JetRanger, but I cannot swear to that... it's just an impression.
For R44 owners that want to move up to a 5 place machine, and for those that are wearing out their present JetRangers and now cannot replace them because the grand old bird is no longer in production, the R66 will be a natural choice.
I think it will sell well.

UPDATED, 1700 hours:
For those of you with an interest in the "Carb Ice" comments, go
here to view articles on that, and other subjects.

20 October 2009

Robinson Safety Course, 20 October 2009

Today, I...
Saw the new Robinson R66 helicopter up close and personal.
Learned something new about Carburetor Icing.
Met a Cree Indian helicopter pilot from Canada who answered a bunch of questions I had.

This is my ninth time here.
This course renews my Flight Instructor certificate, but that's not the only reason I attend.
I learn something to help keep me and those that fly with me safer every time I come.

19 October 2009

We Love Lucy

We found her on the street... a three month old pup. We brought her home and introduced her to Desi the Dachshund with a little concern... he's a territorial, bossy fellow.
Our worries were unfounded... they started friendly tussling with one another immediately and were soon covered with one another's saliva. We knew almost instantly she was part of the family. She was Desi's "Lucy".

Three months later Big Bubba moved to Arizona and took (his dog) Desi with him. Lucy remained and became the focus of attention in our empty nest. The Vet said she was likely a "Schnoodle"... a Poodle-Schnauzer mix. Nice to know, but we didn't care... she was turning out to be pretty special.
She was housebroken in record time. When we travel she sleeps. She never meets a stranger...
Turn her loose in a room full of folks and she "works the room"...
On the lap of anyone that welcomes her.
We cannot imagine life without her now.

So when we leave home, as we have this week, we fret about leaving her behind. We're fortunate to have friends that will dog-sit her, and they know how special she is. But we miss her, and we know she misses us. We love traveling, but these days we prefer to do it by car so we can bring our "Loose Goose" along.

Sara Jean, my Chicago "apartment" gal, never had a chance to bond with an animal as she grew up because of apartment life. It's been interesting watching her relationship with this canine grow. Lucy has improved my relationship with my wife.

Some people don't like Cats. Some don't like Dogs.
I don't understand any of 'em.
Their life is less than it could be, isn't it?

18 October 2009

I Become A Slice of Pepperoni Pizza!

Wow, what a day!
I started my drive at 2 P.M. thinking it would take about 5 hours to get here. Forecasters were predicting a high of 97 degrees today. When I got into the truck the thermometer indicated 102. It's Big Bubba's Ford Explorer Sportrac, and thank God it has a great air conditioner! On the highway I realized I'd better check the fuel status and to no one's surprise BB left me with 1/8th tank of fuel. So first order of business... stop in this heat and buy a tank of gas. I pull into the gas station and notice a disheveled looking gal pushing a bicycle, chatting with a guy at the front door. She looks at me as I drive up and when I get out of the truck she approaches me...
"Sir, do you have any change?"
(We're gonna see more and more of this as the economy worsens, folks.) I used to have compassion for panhandlers, but I know many of them simply use your money to buy booze/drugs, so I just shook my head. It's hot. I gotta buy a tank of gas to even get started on my trip. It's a bad time to ask me for money. I open the gas door to find a locking gas cap. On the phone to BB... "Where's the key to the gas cap?"
"Oh shoot! I forgot about that. It's here."
Backtrack... foul mood. Bite tongue... retrieve key. Start all over again, glad I didn't drive 'til the tank was empty, THEN find I had no way to refuel.

Gassed up, Carmen the Garmin takes me to I-10 West outta Phoenix. This is the same GPS unit I have at home, but something is different and I'm initially puzzled. I finally figure out the icon for the vehicle moving down the road is different...
At home, mine is a car. Big Bubba's icon is a slice of Pepperoni Pizza. (Don't ask 'cause I don't know!)

Traffic comes to a stop...
Road construction. I watch as the GPS indicates I've added an additional 20 minutes to my drive. I clear the construction zone and I'm JUST ABOUT out of Phoenix when traffic again comes to a stop. ARGGHH! Now I remember why I moved from BigTown to TinyTown, where it takes 5 minutes to drive from the North side to the South side of city limits! This jam adds yet another 15 minutes to my drive.

Now I'm West of Buckeye, Arizona, and although there is still considerable traffic, we're all behaving like adults and some are blithely exceeding the speed limit. I settle into the right lane at 2 miles less than the speed limit and poke in the first disc to the monstrous, 15 cd "DaVinci Code", take a deep breath, and vow to enjoy this drive. At about this point I hear Carmen say "Stay on I-10 283 miles to Riverside, California", or something like that. Ooooookay!

I'm pretty sure fuel will cost more in California than Arizona, so I tell myself to stop and buy fuel before crossing the State line. At Quartzite, AZ I stop at a truck stop and swallow hard at the fuel price...
$2.68 per gallon. Lots of folks filling up, I don't want to wait in line and add more time to my trip so I get back on the road. At Blythe, California I pull into a gas station and get the wind knocked outta me...
$3.19 per gallon! I've still got half a tank, so I decide to march on and hope for better pricing later.

Darkness falls... So much for seeing things I've flown over on this route! I drive through Banning and can faintly see the huge windmills closest to the road. The wind here is turbulent enough it's moving the truck a little in my lane, so I'm sure the windmills are making their owners happy with their power output.

Thank God for the GPS! I had the road atlas tucked next to the seat if needed, but my eyes are such at night now that I'd have had to pull over to read it if necessary. The GPS takes all the fear out of driving in unfamiliar areas... just poke in the address and let the machine guide you.

I pulled into the Ramada parking lot at 10:30 P.M.
I'm drinking a cold one for ya CJ as I type this. School starts at 0800 hours tomorrow. If I hit the hay RIGHT NOW I can get about 7 hours sleep.

More later.
G'night all!

With Us, Or Against Us?

A reminder.
It shouldn't be necessary. Unfortunately, some memories are short.

A Quick Thought On The Mid-Term Elections

Bloggers across the spectrum are reporting the Tea Party movement is gathering strength rather than subsiding. There is considerable discussion about whether this is a good, or bad thing. I reported one of the things that disappointed me about the Ft. Walton Beach Tea Party we attended was that some political speakers were allowed to address those assembled there. I didn't ask about the political affiliation of those folks, but I assume they were Republicans...
Doesn't matter, they shouldn't have been given that priviledge.
Democrats are mostly responsible for the mess we are in, but GWB and other Republicans could have stopped this madness and instead, threw gasoline on the fire.
A pox on them all. We need fiscal responsibility in ALL offices now, and that's gonna mean PAIN for a while. Candidates prescribing the necessary medicine probably don't stand much chance of being elected, but we need to support them anyway. By doing so, as it has with President(?) Obama, it will be obvious what AIN'T workin', and as our (Tea Partiers) numbers grow, fewer and fewer RINOs (Republicans in name only) will run in primaries.
Let the Democrats run this train into a cliff...
Vote for conservatives!
Yeah, the pain will come, but it's the only way to heal the country.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

First, some airport/airplane thoughts...
Signs all over our hometown airport, "WiFi available throughout the concourse". Yeah, it's available alright, just enter your credit card number and you'll be billed $9.95 for the priviledge of using the service for what... 20 minutes?
WiFi at Salt Lake City... free.
WiFi at Phoenix... free.
If intitial impressions about cities are formed by folks with computers, our home town comes off looking less than welcoming.

Flying on Saturday, I hoped the airport would be less congested and maybe the airplane not completely full. I was right about the airport... we made it through security in 10 minutes or so, but the airplane was a sardine can. We forgot with Southwest Airlines you can book your seat online 24 hours ahead of time, so we were among the last to board the airplane at BigTown and weren't able to find seats next to one another. At 5' 9" and 190 pounds I'm not a real big guy, and I consistently wonder how the 6' 4" guy feels with his knees literally leaving imprints in the seat in front of him. Fastening the seat belt is a fiasco because there's not enough elbow room to grab the loose ends from beneath you. How does an obese person even fit between the armrests of an airliner today? If we ever get smart and develop high speed rail service in this country, I think the airlines will have to rethink the way they herd us into these "cattle cars".
Flying commercial is NOT a pleasant experience.

I think I've told you that my son thinks Phoenix is like the movie "Ground Hog Day"...
The alarm goes off and the weather is clear and 100 degrees plus, every day. He rescued us from Sky Harbor airport last night at just after 7 P.M. local time and the temp. was still 97 degrees. Yeah, it's a dry heat, and at 97 it's not stifling...
But it ain't paradise either. It will, however, be nearly like paradise in a few days, and it's easy to understand why so many "seasoned citizens" Winter here.

Big Bubba has moved into a larger apartment in the same complex since we were here last, so we came home, deposited our luggage, dropped Desi the Dachshund off, and took a look around the new digs. Three bedrooms and two baths, it's well laid out and there's enough room to get away from one another if we want. Perfect.

There's an "Olive Garden" restaurant right across the street... Sara Jean's favorite.
Happy Birthday SJ! We all love the salad and breadsticks, and all three of us liked what we ordered so much that we cleaned our plates.

Back to Big Bubba's apartment we chatted later than I expected since our bodies were two hours ahead of local time. It was 3 A.M. for our bodies when we finally hit the sack.
I woke at 10 A.M. local.
It's "Ground Hog Day"! (Predicted high- 97 degrees,)
I'll be leaving for Los Angeles by car in a few hours, driving Westbound on roads I have flown over headed Eastbound with a new helicopter 20 times. It'll be interesting seeing sights like the windmills at the Banning Pass from the ground instead of from overhead. It's about a five hour drive, so a book on CD is in order. I hope to have a review of the book, and the drive for you later.

Have a great day y'all!

17 October 2009

Salt Lake City

Off work yesterday at 0700 hours with two hours sleep under my belt I drove to the airport to check a young man out in the R44. The aircraft had just finished having an Airworthiness Directive accomplished on it... replacement of the crankshaft, which is a pretty big deal, so the check out included making sure the helicopter worked properly. Federal regs required a guy with his total helicopter time to get 5 hours in the R44, so we killed two birds with one stone...
Five hours on the bird showed it to be glitch-free, and allowed him to fly the machine back to its owner by himself. On the drive home from the airport I was nodding off... off and on running off the road. I'm ashamed of myself for being so STUPID.

Awake this morning at 0830, I rose and threw some clothing into a carry-on bag. Charged this netbook, my camera, and my cellphone, drove to the Post Office to stop our mail for a week, dropped the "Loose Goose" off at a friend's house for dog-sitting, and made our way to the Big-Town airport. We're now in Salt Lake City where it is 70 degrees and clear, and we can see big-ole rocks East of us on this concourse. We catch our connecting flight to Phoenix in half an hour where our son informs us it is 105 degrees.
I'll drive from Phoenix to Torrance, California tomorrow to attend the Robinson Helicopter Safety Course for the 9th time since 1983. I'll be in school Monday through Thursday at Noon, then back to Phoenix for a couple days before heading back home.

Today is Sara Jean's birthday. She's 39+. Our family will be together to celebrate in about 3 hours...
Wish us safe travels. I'll update you later.


16 October 2009

Racist Hate

Mr. Obama, just because I hate the fact that the "Change" you are bringing to the country will make it a place I wouldn't want to raise children in, doesn't mean I hate you personally.
I'd like to point out those changes cause me deep sadness. The frustration over that sadness should not be confused with racism.





15 October 2009


That's not in the United States, is it?
(Reported by the AP.)

What Will You Do?

When the government says, "Turn in all your gold, now."
What will you do?

When the government starts imprisoning your neighbors...
What will you do?

When the government says, "Turn in all your guns."
What will you do?

When the government says "Your loved one's cancer care is costing taxpayers too much...
It's hopeless.
Take this Tylenol 3, go home and die".
What will you do?

Government now controls the insurance industry.
Government owns most of the U.S. automobile industry.
Now they're trying to control the health care industry, and they're working desperately to
make your power bill "skyrocket".

When I can no longer point out here how government is steadily taking away your freedoms because your government is censoring bloggers...
What will you do?

At what point do you shout "ENOUGH!"?

14 October 2009


(In .308 Winchester, in case you're interested.)

In The Eighties, Chicks ROCKED!

The NFL , Again

Michael Vick, Ray Lewis, Terrell Owens, and literally hundreds of other sociopaths inhabit the NFL, yet they feel comfortable isolating Rush Limbaugh for quotes he never even said?
Tell me again...
Why do millions watch NFL games?
Use your remote, folks!

"Panic Room"

We watched "Panic Room" with Jodie Foster last weekend.
Good story, well acted... I LOVE Forest Whitaker, and Dwight Yoakum does a wonderful job as the heavy, (as he did in "Sling Blade").
But be aware, "Panic Room" is another "Shouting at the screen" movie.

13 October 2009

A Little Up, A Lot Down.

My precious metals purchase from three weeks ago is now UP almost 10%.
No other investment in my portfolio even comes close to that return.
But there's a problem, isn't there? The upward price of the metal is a sad graphic indication the greenbacks in my wallet are worth 10% less in that same amount of time.
And that's depressing.

12 October 2009

Life Surprises

Surprises along the way...

There are people in this world you TRY to help...
With moral support, or t
hey get in financial trouble and need help YESTERDAY and you are there with a loan... once, twice, three times.
The relationship is such that not only do they then conveniently forget you gave them money, you often find yourself in that "No good deed goes unpunished" situation.

Then there is the other side of the coin...
Sometimes, out of the blue, someone will come and say "You probably don't even remember the advice you gave, but you once told me something that had a dramatic impact on my life and I wanted you to know how much I appreciated it."

I've seen both sides recently...
Life can be full of surprises, can't it?
And oddly, it's ALL good.

10 October 2009

Bet Ya Didn't Know, 'Cause I Didn't:

"...Sept. 21, 1991, when Gen. Petraeus was commanding the Third Battalion of the 101st Airborne in Fort Campbell, Ky. He was at a live-fire training exercise. A soldier tripped on his M-16, and it discharged. The bullet hit Gen. Petraeus in the chest."

The story has a surprise...
Who was the surgeon that saved General Petraeus'life?
Find out here!

09 October 2009

More Thoughts On The Peace Prize-

Apparently nominations for the prize had to be submitted by February, so this nomination had to have been made what...
11 days after Obama was elected?
Tell me again, what had this man done at that time to deserve this award, other than not be GWB?

Some years back when the economy of the Soviet Union collapsed, in a political discussion with friends, I made the comment:
"We're in trouble now because we are the ONLY superpower in the world. Up 'til now, other countries needed/used us as a bodyguard. They won't need us now... in fact, they'll be frightened of our power."
Now they're watching as we are being castrated by this administration, and they couldn't possibly be more delighted.

Congratulations President Obama.
The future will tell if the cost was worth that prize.

The Peace Prize

Obama refuses to meet with the Dalai Lama, maybe the most pacifist person in the world, and the Nobel committee awards him the Peace Prize?
We truly do live in "Bizzarro World".

07 October 2009

Metals, 7 October 2009

At the close:

Gold- $1,044.40, up $4.70, a record high.

Silver- $17.50, up $.21.

Both closed at the high of the day.
Are you on board?

06 October 2009

"Kitchen Table Learnin' "

I think I've figured it out, at least a big chunk of it.
It's not just me that's noticed. It's not just me that's concerned.
And it's not just ethics, although indirectly I suppose your ethics have an effect on your total behavior. There is something different about most kids today and I've been trying to figure out what it is. I've come up with an answer, not necessarily the only one, but it's gotta be a factor...
Their "Kitchen table learnin' " was MUCH different from mine.

My Dad was one of seven kids in his family. Four boys and three girls, the boys ALL served in the military. Dad's older brother was on the West Virginia in Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 41 as she sank there. My Dad was assigned to an ARMY infantry division in the Pacific theater, and the Purple Heart over his left breast pocket earned him an early return from overseas in 1945. His two younger brothers served honorably after the war ended. Two of Dad's sisters married men who served during WWII...
One of them was injured when his glider crashed during the Normandy invasion. A big man, he lost nearly half his weight while he spent the rest of the war in a German P.O.W. camp.
Extraordinary, selfless men (and women)...
These heroes were the "normal" folks I grew up with. They taught the living history lessons I learned around the kitchen table at family gatherings. They taught me there are barbaric, evil people in the world.

So when my draft notice came in 1966 there was no question about what I would do.
No, I wouldn't blow my "great toe" off my left foot. I wouldn't flee to Canada. I wouldn't marry the first girl that would have me and start a family just to avoid conscription.
I looked at the men around my kitchen table and knew what I had to do. I was frightened, but I couldn't disgrace these men in any way...
I would serve. I would do my level best. I would try to make them proud of me.

As you know, my training led to a year in Viet Nam flying helicopter gunships. I came home to a different nation than my Dad and his siblings came home to. Me and my generation were shunned in some cases. We weren't welcomed as heroes.

My peers? Many of them found a way to avoid serving.
To them, Viet Nam was a disaster. Many actually felt those that avoided the Viet Nam war were the true heroes. Those that risked their lives fighting the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong were chumps... "Baby killers", or worse.
Sometimes that attitude seemed to be the majority view expressed by my generation.

So then my generation had kids. And around their kitchen table, those children got a much different education about the world and the people in it...
-War was evil and to be avoided at almost all costs.
-The "military-industrial complex" was evil.
-We learned from "M.A.S.H." that military leaders were all buffoons, (except those that thought war was always evil like "Trapper" and "Hawkeye".)
(Granted, there ARE a few that are willing to suffer in uncomfortable situations to help others... Peace Corps, Mission work, etc..
And the fact that our military is an all-volunteer force shows that not all kids were raised in "Bizzarro world". God Bless those exceptional few!)

But most now seem to think all we have to do to get along with others in the world is extend a helping hand, build a campfire and ask them to join us in singing "Kumbaya"...
If there is evil in the world, it's because the U.S. is an aggressor nation.

Now we're seeing the result of the kitchen table education these kids got...
"I don't want to have to worry about getting a good job."
"I want good pay without having to work for it."
"I don't want to have to worry about my security."
"I don't want to have to worry about my health care."
"I want Big Government to take care of me from cradle to grave."
"What's so bad about Socialism?"

Well folks, we'll soon find out how successful this generation's kitchen table schooling has been.
But from what I read in comments here and what I overhear in real life, so far I don't like it much.

05 October 2009

An Overdue Review-

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

03 October 2009

Shouting At The Screen

I loved her then. I love her now. What a face, huh?
The first time I saw her was in the movie
Shenandoah. It's a movie that moved me in several ways and I recommend it, but don't watch expecting it to be a "feel good" movie. The movie itself may bum you out, but the end will at least have you crying "happy tears".
Jimmy Stewart plays a family patriarch/pacifist in the Shenandoah Valley as the Civil War is heating up. In a terrible mixup, his youngest son is taken prisoner by Northern soldiers, and the bulk of the movie depicts Stewart's character, "Charlie Anderson's" quest to retrieve his son. He leaves one of his sons, James, to take care of his farm while he and the rest of the family go looking for "the boy".
Near the end of the movie, "James", the husband of Katharine Ross' character is murdered by two outlaws who then enter their home and rape and murder her.

My wife made me suffer through the movie
Well acted by Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, and William Petersen, I found myself shouting at the screen continuously during the movie's last half hour...
"Where's your gun?!!!"

Most would agree, "Shenandoah" is an anti-war movie. "Fear" is just a movie about how a single thug can terrorize an innocent family. In both movies if the good guys had simply had access to a firearm to protect themselves, I'd have been standing on my feet applauding as more bad guys assume ambient temperature and the world became a slightly better place.

"Shenandoah" is worth your time, but if you're like me you'll take a different message from the movie than was intended. The role of victim doesn't fit me well.
"Straw Dogs" left me feeling more satisfied.
But that's just the warrior in me.

02 October 2009

"If We've Lost Sesame Street..."

Yeah, It's STILL The Economy Stupid!

“The single threat in the credit area right now is commercial mortgages…commercial real estate’s in trouble… I think in terms of taking the loss and recognizing loss has only just begun.”

And more:
“You ought to be potentially worried about inflation…the administration is perfectly conscious of the fact that they’ve got a problem…"

...Quotes from the guy that used to be in charge of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker. He's now one of President(?) Obama's economic advisers. Some would say he's finally realizing he should have done more to straighten this mess out years ago. Maybe he's beginning to feel the need to atone, because he's now sounding the alarm.

Hope for the best.
Prepare for the worst.

Character: Tiger Woods. Brendan Marracco, and Kristy Swanson.

Go here and read.
Oh, fair warning....
Have your tissues handy.

(Thanks Wes.)

And on that theme, she looks like this:

But she's not stuck on herself. (Give the recording time to get past the ad.)
Thank God, not all celebrities are jerks.

01 October 2009

National Public Radio

Heard on my way into work tonight, (paraphrasing)...

"... The couple, pretending to be a pimp and a prostitute, were seen being given advice from A.C.O.R.N. on how to comply with the law."

Uhhh..... no.
N.P.R., this is EXACTLY why this former donor will no longer give you a dime.


He says Capitalism has done nothing for him.
If he caught fire he'd burn for quite a while.
(Not that I'd wish that on 'im.)