31 March 2010

I Think You're A Jerk.

Computers and the Innertubes have changed our lives dramatically.
I pay most of my bills online. I buy most of our big-ticket items after finding the best price online. I stay in touch with my family either via email, Msn Instant Messenger, or Skype. If someone set an E.M.P. device off tomorrow and took these capabilities away we'd all be scrambling around like "Keystone Kops" for a while, wouldn't we?

But there's an ugly side of this system too.
Over in my blogroll you'll notice "Bloviating Zeppelin" listed there. As indicated, I do try to check most of the blogs on that list daily. BZ is a kindred spirit... I seldom disagree with him on matters of import.
If you go back and read some of his older posts and you'll see he had a couple liberals contributing comments there. One was mostly rational... although I disagreed with him most of the time on things political, he was at least trying to add to the dialogue and maybe illuminate why liberals think the way they do.
The other commenter was just a "hit and run" idiot...
His comments added nothing to the discussion and ended with childish name-calling. BZ must be a Saint... he was always more tolerant of both these guys than I would have been.
But then the unexpected happened. The guy that normally had something intelligent to add to the discussion stepped over the line... DRAMATICALLY, and "Saint" BZ became "BZ, bringer of Blogowner's wrath".

Much of what is written on Blogs is done anonymously. I have met a few of the commenters that come here in person. I have had email communications with a few more. A few are even listed as "Friends" on my Facebook page, so I obviously know MUCH more about them personally. But the folks that come by and say really nasty things would probably, for obvious reasons, want to remain anonymous. If BZ were a little unstable, (which he's not, thank Goodness!), I can see where saying the evil things his normally rational commenter said might make him go hunting for the guy that said those evil things if he knew how/where to find him. But the reason the guy felt comfortable saying them in the first place was because he knew there was little-to-no chance for repercussions.

So that's where we now find ourselves-
We have this wonderful system where we can easily communicate almost instantly with one another. We can freely express and argue about our opinions. And we can say nasty, vile things about one another with almost no worry of paying a price for being uncivil.
But we're getting angrier and angrier with one another.
We've now had the window of a Republican Congressman shot out. Liberal talk-show hosts are openly suggesting the world would be a better place if Conservatives were killed. Anti-Semitism is once again rearing its ugly head. Our "Uniter" President(?) is fueling the fire.

I'm afraid. Most folks I chat with are afraid. The fear builds and builds. In some, the fear begins to convert to anger. That anger causes more uncivil behavior. It seems to be a vicious cycle.

Our country is bankrupt. We have terrible unemployment and that situation is getting worse by the day. Our leaders are doing nothing to put people back to work... on the contrary, they are legislating and regulating in such a way that businesses are closing or outsourcing their work to countries with more "business friendly" attitudes. Folks who have money also have the ability to move that money elsewhere to protect it.

But the overall atmosphere...
It's one thing to have "anonymous" commenters adding stupid comments on a blog.
It's another thing entirely now to have discussions with relatives and acquaintances and have them suggest that rewarding negative behavior will resolve a problem. (A few members of my extended family are no longer welcome in my home because of comments they have made about "Socialism being a good thing".)
I could never have foreseen feeling this angry with loved ones.

We've seen a guy fly an airplane into an IRS office.
We've seen militants in Michigan trying to fan the flames of revolution.
We see folks on the left trying to further restrict our freedoms of speech, religion, and our right to protect ourselves.
How long can this go on before something really terrible happens?

29 March 2010

28 March 2010

What You Can, And Cannot Do:

What you can do: Claim to be a "Moderate Republican".

What you cannot do: Claim to be a Conservative, if you voted for the bailout during Bush's administration.

27 March 2010

Flying The Friendly Skies

Do you like to fly?
When I started thinking about it I realized that question is more complex than it initially appears. Some, the "White Knucklers", will immediately answer with a resounding NO!

But my question today really refers more to "traveling by air" than the physical act of flying.
The whole process of flying somewhere with the airlines, for me, is rapidly approaching the point where I'll have a decision to make-
Is this time savings worth the trouble?
And that question will ultimately be determined by the number of hours spent devoted to the entire process... planning, packing, and the total movement to go somewhere. I fear as travel becomes more and more complex, folks like me will just determine it's not worth the trouble at all.

Going somewhere requires you to think ahead about what you'll need when you get there.
Heavy clothing? Shorts and polo shirt? Both? Skiing? Golf?

And for Sara Jean... Special Shampoos/hair stuff, face cleaning stuff, face painting stuff, eye enhancing stuff, moisturizers, tanning stuff... I could go on and on but you get the picture. We MUST have it all. And what about packing it? Will it explode do to changes in pressure? How to prevent that?

The flight departs at 1730 hours. We have to back-plan from that point. We need to arrive at the airport at least an hour before departure. I like to fudge that a little when, like last evening, we're leaving on Friday or Sunday night, because there are always more people trying to get outta Dodge. Yesterday I allowed 90 minutes.
The drive to the airport at BigTown takes two hours. What if we have tire trouble? What if there's an accident along the way that traps us in a jam? I allotted 150 minutes for the drive. That makes our "getting there on time for departure" time 240 minutes... 4 hours. To depart at 1730, we have to be out the door at 1330 hours.
But we have two dogs to think of now. Dropping them off at their respective caregiver's homes adds another 30 minutes to the plan... out the door at 1300 hours.
At some point you begin to wonder, "Is it worth this?" And I think the answer to that question more and more will be "No".

A comfortable drive to Los Angeles would take 3 days and would put close to 2100 miles on our car. Coming home would double those figures. Driving here was not an option. But what about shorter trips?
In the four hours it takes to drive to the airport, make our way through the security check and board the airplane, we could be 240 miles down the road to our destination in our car, and in many cases the dogs could come along. If you then add the flight time to the destination and the time getting from the destination airport to the place you really want to spend your time, you have a matrix for the "travel by air?" decision.
For me, the breaking point is now somewhere around 1,000 miles + -.
Trips less than 1,000 miles will be driven. Trips over 1,000 miles MAY be driven if the destination airport is not close to where we need to be.

Airlines are in a dilemma and have to be pulling their hair out-
They have to insure folks arrive safely, but the checking-in and security process is already cumbersome and looks like it will get worse. Add to their woes the increasing costs of fuel and insurance, and you have some understanding why you're now packed into an airplane like a sardine in a can.

Thinking about what I've written above I realize the question is not really "fly or drive?". It's really "fly or don't go at all?".
More and more, I think the answer may be "Let's just stay home."
This is the change. Where's the hope?

26 March 2010

Dateline- Orange County CA, 26 March

We're safely here. We had a stopover in Denver. Got off one airplane and directly on the one that brought us here. It's clear and 57 degrees in Orange County... feels cool but nice.

I met a delightful gentleman on the leg from Denver to SNA. Now hailing from Corona, CA, he's an architect and has family back in Indiana. He was tentative about feeling us out politically, but we found him to be pretty much in complete agreement with us about what is going on in the world. It's good to know there are others in addition to CameraPilot that are not Looney Tunes out here!

It's late here... creepy late for our body clocks. More tomorrow.

Be well... ALL.

John Wayne, Orange County

I'll finish writing this post, push "publish", and pack the computer away for our trip to see Big Bubba in Orange County. I haven't seen him since I helped him move in December. Sara Jean hasn't seen him since Thanksgiving. We're all thirsty for one another.

If the situation permits I'll blog along the way.

25 March 2010

A Gift From God

Yeah, that's Yogi.
Given to us because he had diarrhea and terrible gas and the previous owner couldn't handle the stress that came with overcoming those problems, we're now two weeks into his ownership of us. The diarrhea is gone. The gas? Well, he takes after his old man. It's much improved, but he still shocks us with an odor, then lifts his head from a nap as if to say, "Alright! Who cut the cheese?!!"
Ya can't help but guffaw.

Lucy was a street find.
Yogi was given to us in desperation.
I have never had any doubt all things happen for a reason.
Yogi just reinforces that belief.

A Fatal In Tennessee

ThirdWaveDave emailed with the terrible news of another fatal EMS helicopter crash, an AStar in Tennessee.
I flew a "D" model AStar three years for a construction company...
(It was the aircraft I wrote about having the unreliable Lycoming engine. This one was a "B" model with the Turbomeca engine.)
The aircraft is roomy and quiet, and visibility out of it is wonderful... which is the reason you see so many of them used in giving aerial tours.
But I sometimes woke with night sweats after nightmares dreaming what it would be like to fly the thing in "IMC"...
Instrument Meteorological Conditions.
In Europe its nickname is "Escureil"...
"Squirrel"... for good reason. I think it's the most dynamically unstable aircraft I've ever flown. Trying to fly it under instrument conditions, and worse... at night, would verify that nightmare.
Let's watch as this investigation unfolds.
Three people trying to help others, now dead.
May they rest in peace.

Pleasing The Eye And Ear

21 March 2010

Repeal It !

Go here now and express your dissatisfaction.
And fair warning:
Someone somewhere may go off the deep end. When they do, constituent anger, like the guy flying the airplane into the IRS building, could get out of control quickly. If/When it does, you'll need to be prepared, and be prepared to take sides.

So be prepared.

20 March 2010

It Begins.... Sunday?

I've hoped it wouldn't come to this.
I continue to pray it can be avoided.
But some already think it's time to get started.
(You MUST read the comments there.)

"Give me liberty or give me death."
How bad do things have to get before you'll resist this tyranny?
(And it IS tyranny!)

Hope for the best.
Prepare for the worst.

19 March 2010

The Perils of Yogi

Housebreaking progress continues. It's now been over a week since we've experienced house poopage. We're still stepping barefoot on damp spots now and then, but I think we'll have even that under control in short order. We're now taking Yogi outside as often as possible... every 3 hours or so, and praising him when he performs correctly.

Our lot is 2-1/2 acres. The house is situated more on the roadside of the property so our back yard is large, and it abuts a five acre pond and 80 acres of timber. That's a lot of space for a 5-pound pup to run and get the inner machinery moving. Sara Jean took Yogi back there for his last constitutional prior to bedding down for the night. There was a sliver moon and the night was clear and reasonably warm. Yogi was zipping here, then there, stopping to smell whatever it is dogs are so fascinated with when you want them to finish their business and get back in the house. He was about 50 feet away when she began to be concerned he was getting too far away from her. From the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of movement and turned to focus on it. It was moving pretty quickly, making a bee-line toward Yogi...
Sara Jean did EXACTLY the right thing and I'm proud of her, because as a Chicago-raised gal it was counter-intuitive...
She shouted YOGI ! and started running for the pup. This was enough to startle the Coyote and stop him/her in its tracks. Then when the Coyote saw SJ intended to defend Yogi it turned-tail and ran back into the brush. Sara Jean was so frightened she called me and breathlessly related the tale.

Hearing them yipping and calling to one another back there I know there are probably 20 or so Coyotes in the woods behind our house, and I suspect this time of year many of them are Mothers trying to eat enough to keep up their strength while they suckle their newly-born litter.
Yogi could easily have been dinner.

Needless to say, from now on he'll be on the leash when we take him to the back yard at night.

18 March 2010

Note Of Thanks To Twenty-Somethings:

Overall health care costs will be coming down.
This is due largely to young people being forced to buy insurance they don't need (and don't want).
Isn't this kinda the way Social Security works... younger people carrying the load for older folk?
And how has that worked out... hmmm?
You young folks are wonderful. Thank you!

While Supplies Last!

On the radio this morning I heard Home Depot has a sale on "Large" 32-ounce bottles of "Windex".
What do I do if I want the "Small" 32-ounce bottle?

17 March 2010

"A Republic Madam, If You Can Keep It"

Do you cringe when you hear someone refer to the United States as a "Democracy"?
I do.
We are NOT a democracy.
We ARE a Representative Republic.
We elect "Representatives" to vote the wishes of the people they represent. At least that's the way it's supposed to work.

It's not a perfect form of governance, but to paraphrase Winston Churchill, all the others are less perfect.

But look what has happened:
Not only are our elected representatives apparently ignoring the wishes of the majority of their constituents, they are now trying to find a way to fraudulently pass a bill into law WITHOUT EVEN VOTING ON IT.
Representative Republic?
Not anymore. What the hell is this? I can no longer recognize my governing body, 'cause it sure as hell ain't a "Representative Republic"!

I'm angry.
Everyone I know is angry.
Do our "Representatives" have any idea just how angry we are?

I am fearful of the things I am seeing and hearing, but I want someone... anyone to hear this:
If you attempt to pass this bill with a sleight-of-hand move like the "Slaughter Solution" or some other underhanded method, I'm truly afraid of what will happen to you. (And me.)
And to those of you so afraid of your constituents that you won't even attend Town Hall meetings...
The reason you're afraid is because you know you are no longer "representing" the majority.

Benjamin Franklin answered the question, "A Republic Madam, if you can keep it."
We've lost it.
Now the question is, can we get it back?

Toyota Feeding Frenzy

So you did something stupid and wrecked your Toyota.
But really... think!
The gas pedal stuck wide-open, then the brakes failed, didn't they?
Yeah! That's the ticket!
Call your attorney.

16 March 2010

Cabela's... Slow To Learn?

Over the weekend I received this email from Cabela's:

Dear Customer,

Unfortunately, your backordered merchandise listed below
has yet to arrive from
our supplier.

230GR FMJ600BX
Backorder-Tentative arrival to Cabelas 05/15/10

If you wish to keep the item(s) on backorder or if you want
to cancel or change
the item(s), please contact us via e-mail
customer.service@cabelas.com or via
Phone 1-800-237-4444.

If a reply is not received within 10 days, the item will be
cancelled. Please note that backorders are
processed immediately upon receipt
of stock from our suppliers
and therefore it is possible that the item(s) in
question may
ship prior to receiving your reply.

I like Cabela's, but this is more than a little irritating-
We all KNOW there are a ton of guns being sold to a terrified
We all KNOW there is an ammunition shortage because
everyone who has a gun is trying
desperately to get a
"comfortable" amount of ammunition for EVERY piece in their

inventory. I placed this order for .45 ACP because
I WANT THE AMMO. I accept the fact
that it may take a while

start this process all over again because I forgot to call
you within ten days of your

Cabela's, take note:
This is the sort of behavior that pisses people off enough to
go to another supplier.

Get your head out of your butt.

Whatever Happened To Dan Rostenkowski?

Borrowed from Instapundit.

Choose Carefully, Mr. Congressman

Today I did something I've never done before-
Sara Jean needed her hair highlighted. She has that done in a town 40 minutes away. I dropped her at the Salon, then realized I had a chance to affect all our lives...
I drove to the regional office of my U.S. Congressman in this town and asked his intermediary there to relay a message for me about health care reform.
To say the least, it was an interesting experience.

His regional office is in a Federal Building, co-located with other Federal functions like the Social Security Administration. Since Oklahoma City, security at these places is, as you might imagine, tight. I had to ring a buzzer and stand before a security camera before anyone would come find out what business I had with the Congressman. A lady came to the door and opened it but stood in such a way that I couldn't walk in. She said, "I'm talking with another constituent and I'll be back in a moment. Can you tell me what you need?"
"I want the Congressman to know how I feel about his vote on the health care reform bill."
"I'll be back in just a moment." And the door closed behind her.

She returned five minutes later with a pre-printed form. She asked for and filled in my name and address. She then said "Pro, or Con?"

"I have voted for this man every two years since 1988. I'm tired of this country rewarding failure. We are on a runaway train, and economic disaster is just around the corner. Tell him if he votes for this bill, he's gonna get hurt."
She quickly checked a block on the form, said "Thank You", and once again disappeared behind the door.

My Congressman is listed as "undecided". I think he'll eventually vote "no". I have met him personally and hope I haven't misjudged him.
The next two weeks will tell the tale.

15 March 2010

Yogi's Vet. Visit

Why would anyone schedule an appointment with anyone at 0830 hours? And on Monday! I certainly wouldn't. I barely had time to grab my first cuppa going out the door, which was interesting 'cause my other hand was occupied with a squirming Yogi. The Veterinarian's office is all the way on the other side of town, so I was out the door at 0820 and still made it in time to finish my coffee before going into the exam room.

We inherited the appointment time when we inherited the pup.
I could have changed the time, but walking in with Yogi at his appointed time meant his paperwork would likely be there waiting on him. Since we would have to deal with an "ownership change" this morning, I figured it would be less confusing to keep the appointment.

Yogi's not yet old enough to realize he needs to get the shivers when we walk into the Vet's office. He was his normal self, all curious and wiggles. The Vet's assistant weighed him and asked about the diarrhea problem. I told her I thought it was under control and asked for a reminder about what a puppy's stool should look like. She agreed from my description that his stool was probably normal. The scale indicated he now weighs 5 pounds 7 ounces... an increase of 7 ounces since his last visit. We're on the right track.

The Vet came in and did a good exam... joints, extremities, eyes, ears... all normal.
We discussed starting him on his heartworm medication... he's old enough to start now. Yogi got a booster shot... DPHD? Then he got his Rabies shot. He yelped and struggled a little at both, and will probably know to get a good case of the shivers the next time we get within a block of the Vet's office.

I mentioned I had read an article about neutering at a very young age. The Vet said it's a good idea to do it around 5-6 months, before the pup reaches puberty. This virtually eliminates the tendency of male dogs to mark their territory.
We scheduled Yogi's neutering procedure for next month, just before he turns six months of age.

We were alone when we got back out into the main room of the office, so I set Yogi on the floor. He immediately scampered over into one corner and proceeded to give the Vet a stool sample... a REALLY good one! When the assistant came back I asked for towels to clean it up and she said "Oh no, this happens all the time. I'll take care of it." And when she came back she had the Doc in tow... he looked at the sample and declared it perfectly normal before she toweled it up and then mopped that section of the floor. Then she gave me Yogi's Rabies tag and the associated paperwork. Then came the bill. It was less than I had imagined it would be. Yay!

So we have a delightful perfectly healthy puppy who is now gaining weight. He has completed all his puppy shots. We're scheduled to take care of that "Macho" thing next month.

All is well with Lucy, AND Yogi.

14 March 2010

Greetings From The Census People!

"Dear Resident:

About one week from now, you will receive a 2010 Census form in the mail. When you receive your form, please fill it out and mail it in promptly."

Couldn't they also have sent me a letter to warn me the letter to warn me that the census form would soon be arriving? Certainly this is one way to "save" a bunch of jobs, but at what cost?
One sheet of paper. One envelope. The cost for the mail carrier to deliver it...
Gosh, now I can hardly wait for that 2010 Census form to arrive...
It's like Christmas in March!

13 March 2010

12 March 2010

The DD214

Ole Prairie Dog sent me this link, and I thought since it might be useful to several reader-Veterans I'll share it here. I have several copies of my DD214 so I don't need it and haven't tried it to see how difficult the procedure is, so you're on your own. If you use it, please come back and comment on your experience.

Now, tell me this...
How can I use it to have a look at the document Senator John Kerry promised to make public a hundred years ago?
Integrity? Transparency?

11 March 2010

Puppy Poopy

We're about to start our second week with our new Malti-poo "Yogi".
I think his diarrhea problem is almost gone... I say "I think" because I'm having difficulty remembering how solid most puppy's poopy is. Isn't it normally kinda semi-solid anyway? If so, we're back to normalcy with Yogi... his poop now comes out in a long, semi-solid string. I'd fill you in on all the details, but this post is gonna be scatalogical enough as it is.
(Blogger thinks "scatalogical" is misspelled!)

Having more than one dog in the house complicates training.
This morning we found "number two" remains beneath the dining room table. We "Dog-sat" a friend's Schnauzer yesterday, so for a few hours we had three dogs in the house. (Yogi's antics made the Schnauzer glad when time to leave rolled around.) This Schnauzer is sneaky. She can find a hiding spot and take a quick poopy faster than Sara Jean can make me feel guilty about being a "MAN"!
So if you don't catch 'em in the act, it's not fair to punish 'em. Whoever left this deposit gets a "get outta jail free" card.

Yogi is doing much, much better. His appetite is good. He sleeps on his back with his legs splayed out... and I've heard this is an indication of total security. Still, we're watching him in shifts...
I keep an eye out most of the daylight hours, Sara Jean watches him at night. It works.

He's a good little traveler... both he and Lucy went shopping with us last night, and after each of our three stops we snuck up on the car to find Yogi asleep in the driver's seat.
Attached to him you ask?
Nah, not me!
I sent the "Milk Bone Free Dog Tag" offer off in the mail today. [Free, with two proofs of purchase and $1.95 for shipping and handling.]
Now there can be no further discussion... "Yogi" it is!
Stay tuned for the next installment in "The Mis-Adventures(?) of Yogi"
(And I promise not to go into my choice of colors for this post!)

Stolen Valor?

Just a quicky post that I may update with more detail later...
When I helped move Big Bubba to California, one of his co-workers, "Chuck", helped us unload the moving van. Chuck claimed to be a Marine Veteran of Desert Storm, medically discharged due to a blown knee. (But his knee didn't seem to bother him as we unloaded the van.)
He was aware of my service and as Vets always do, we chatted and laughed about shared military experiences. Nice guy. Likeable. We spent three or so hours of hard work unloading and organizing Big Bubba's household goods.

The next night we took Chuck out to eat Mexican to thank him... even allowed him to choose the restaurant. He chose well... the food was good. But when we sat down to eat I noticed a military ribbon on his left collar... the Silver Star.
As always in these situations, alarm bells went off. I always find myself not wanting to know someone is a lying, deceptive coward, so in most cases I don't ask for details about awards. He didn't volunteer.

Now Big Bubba and other workers at his new employer have done some investigating. So far, their search to verify Chuck's award have turned up Bupkus. My alarm bells seem to have been valid.

Is there a place we can go to see who has been awarded something as prestigious as the Silver Star? I have never before had reason to pursue such a search, but being exposed to this possible poseur shows that I need to be able to investigate this sort of personality before I invest any trust in them.

I'll start pokin' around to find what I can, but any help with links to sites referencing the major awards would be appreciated.

I found this site referencing Silver Star recipients. If I'm reading it right, there were only 9 Silver Stars awarded during the Persian Gulf conflict. Take a look and see if you think that's correct.
"Chuck's" name ain't on the list.
If there were just nine awards, why would he take the risk of being so easily exposed as a fraud?
How does anyone trust anything someone like this says after finding such a character flaw?

09 March 2010

Bathing With A Drowned Rat

Get away from it for a while and you forget what a FULL-TIME job it is, raising a puppy. When he's awake he's full of spit and vinegar, chewing on Lucy's ears, chewing on anything he can get his muzzle on, exploring this "new world" he now finds himself in. We have had success in the past limiting the amount of chewing on unauthorized things by having "Cheweez" distributed all around the house and making sure he has one near whenever he decides to come to a stop. We have lots of rawhide chews and one Nylabone. He likes the rawhides, but only shows interest in the Nylabone when I hold it for him. Dogs are just like people when it comes to stuff like that...
A pedigreed Schnauzer we regularly dog-sit loves that stupid Nylabone and has both ends of it almost completely chewed off, but neither Lucy or Yogi seem to have much interest in it at all.

I use the tried and true method my parents used.
It worked for all the dogs and cats we had when I was growing up, and it has worked for every animal I've owned since.
If you can catch them in the act of peeing or pooping, you immediately grab them up, shout NO!!, rub their nose in whatever it is they've exhausted onto the floor, and escort them outside while saying the words you want them to associate with going outside to do their business. We use "Go potty, OUTSIDE!" We gently set them down outside and hope they still have something more to "exhaust". If they do, it's time for great praise... "Oh... WHAT A GOOD BOY! SUCH A GOOD BOY!" This praise is normally met with not just a tail-wag, but a wag of about 1/4 of the rear of the dog.
If we have success with "Go potty, OUTSIDE!", we always have a treat waiting when we come back indoors... either a piece of these new "Pupperoni's", which all dogs seem to absolutely love, or a Milk Bone of some variety. (I bought two boxes of different "Milk Bone" treats this week because with two "proofs of purchase" I can send off for a free ID tag for Yogi's collar.)

So I know this housetraining method works, but there's an eventual problem with it:
The four-legged student pretty quickly begins to have a snoot that smells like "Go potty, OUTSIDE!" This is particularly noticeable when Yogi is trying to do what puppies always do... get as close to your face as is possible and slather me or Sara Jean with kisses. Uck.

So it's bath time. I have a method that works for me here, too.
I bathe him, then hand the finished product to Sara Jean for drying/brushing, and then wash "Go potty, OUTSIDE!" off me. I use a healthy amount of baby shampoo for his head, so as not to irritate his eyes. On his body I use what his "Poppy" uses... regular old "Zest" soap. It lathers well. It's mild enough that we've never had a skin problem on any dog we've owned, and of course... important for me... IT'S CHEAP.

I scrubbed his head down with the baby shampoo. He doesn't like that very much. Then I lather the rest of his body up with the Zest. You can see the puzzled look on his face as I scratch/massage his body with all those suds...
"I'm I supposed to hate this bath, 'cause this actually feels pretty wonderful!"

In this shower we have one of those shower heads on a flexible hose, so the dog-wash process is accomplished with me sitting, Yogi between my legs, in the tub. I hose him down good to remove all the shampoo/soap, then yell for "Mom" to come grab the sparkling clean subject of my attention and towel dry/blow dry him while I lather my own body up. By the time I'm done showering, Yogi and Lucy are doing hot laps between the living room and kitchen. Obviously, getting a bath isn't TOO terrible.

I feel pretty good too, and wish I had the energy to join them in their hot laps.

08 March 2010

Malty-Poo... MaltiPoo... Whatever.

Life's weird.
Good, but weird.
At first I didn't even see him, he was so small. When she came in the door I could tell she had something in her arms but it didn't register that what she was holding was alive until she set him on the floor. He saw me and came running. When I picked him up he was all wiggles and squirm, stubby tail goin' 110 miles an hour, licking my chin and neck with that every-now-and-then nip the way puppies sometimes do.

"Who's this?", I asked, smiling.
"Lucy's little brother... Maybe."
"Maybe? Whattya mean?"
"I wanted to make sure it was okay with you."

I was gonna wait and post this after I had gotten an actual photo of him but there's no need for that. The picture above is an internet grab, but it may as well be HIM!
Four months old. Five pounds.
They named him "Yogi", but Sara Jean doesn't like that, so we're considering changing it. (I kinda like it, and he perks up when I call him, so I'm gonna lobby to keep it.)

A friend's daughter bought him from a pet store when she was feeling down. She brought him home and her husband literally threw a fit... he felt they didn't have the time to raise a puppy. The shouting apparently got worse when Yogi got diarrhea.
The diarrhea got worse as the shouting got louder.

The friend's daughter brought Yogi home to Mom... "Can you take him?"
Mom raises miniature Dachshunds. We've bought two puppies from her... you may remember Frankie, and Desi.
She has 8 miniature Dachshunds in her home and decided she didn't need to add a MaltiPoo to the mix. She thought of us and called Sara Jean...
"He's a cutie, but there's this diarrhea problem. Are you interested in him?"
Sara Jean said, "I'll have to ask Greybeard", but she already knew the answer.

We've had him two days now. With less stress in his life, a mile "walkees" yesterday and a mile-and-a-half today, with proper food going into his belly, the "problem" is going away.
I'm amazed with his temperament... on my lap he almost immediately goes to sleep. (I expected him to be nervous and a handful.) Lucy is in a bit of a snit...
Don't ask me how she knew, but she realized immediately that Yogi wasn't just a visitor... that this little ear-pulling bundle of energy was gonna be a permanent addition to our household.
But she already is showing some interest in him... She'll come around eventually.

Our biggest problem now?
We have friends who LOVE having Lucy come over for a week or so when we travel to visit Big Bubba...
She is no trouble at all, a joy to have around. But two dogs? That's expecting a lot, isn't it? (And at this point we obviously have no idea what sort of personality he's gonna have as he matures.)

He's a little dog, but he's gonna bring big changes in our life.

Maybe we'll be doing a lot more traveling by car.

07 March 2010

Big Numbers and The Problem of Understanding.

The engines were crap.
It was 1990 and I had just started flying the BK117.
It had two Lycoming LTS101 engines. The manufacturer of the aircraft actually printed a piece of propaganda showing how two engines are safer than one...
The problem with that was that there was another statistic known by most helicopter pilots...
The Bell 206 series... the Bell JetRanger/LongRanger, was statistically the safest aircraft flying.
Not the safest helicopter flying...
Per hour flown, the safest AIRCRAFT flying. And it had only ONE engine.

It's hard to tout the "twin engine safety" of the machine you're selling when the engines are literally "exploding" with frequent regularity. Those of us flying BK117's had heard the news of the beautiful
Bell 222, the same machine that was used in the television series "Airwolf", that had one Lycoming LTS101 disintegrate, sending debris through the engine compartment at a high enough velocity to destroy the Lycoming on the other side...
And when was an engine most likely to quit producing power?
When you were demanding it produce as much power as it possibly could... out of a tight Landing Zone, for instance. And like a twin-engine airplane, there is a speed at which the helicopter can fly on one engine... a little over 50 knots for the BK117. If one gave out below that speed the helicopter was coming back to the ground. So it was important to pick your place to have an emergency carefully.
"Twin-Engine Safety"? With these engines, that was sort of a cruel joke.

We had two of these machines. For a time, they were co-located because management felt centralizing them would mean cost-savings if mechanics didn't have to drive long distances to maintain them. The pilot working the same shift as me was an interesting character...
He was a Juris Doctor. He had gone to law school, passed the bar, and started practicing law.
He hated the job. Hated it so much he volunteered to become an ARMY helicopter pilot at the height of the Viet Nam war. Returning from his tour in Viet Nam he went back to school and got a Doctorate in history. He was intelligent, engaging, and interesting.

We shared the "Pilot's Quarters" where there were two single beds. One late night we were discussing the "Twin-Engine Safety" issue and "John" mentioned the fact the problem with the BK117 could be resolved by simply replacing the Lycoming engines with a similar Turbomeca engine... that one of these Turbomeca engines had been tested for "one million hours" without a failure.
I was skeptical. "Are you sure of that number, John?"
"Yep. All they'd have to do to fix the problem with the BK is put on Turbomecas."

I got out of bed, turned on the light, and got a calculator.
"Let's see now... 24 X 365 means there are 8,760 hours in a year.
One million hours would equal 114 years. So you're telling me there is a Turbomeca engine that ran for 114 years without a failure? They started running this engine back in the late 1800's?"

A million is a huge number.
A Billion is one thousand million.
A Trillion is one thousand billion.

The Obama administration just added about $10 Trillion in debt to our deficit projections ten years from now. That works out to an additional $30,000 of debt for every man, woman, and child presently in the United States.

My friend the Juris Doctor/History P.H.D. had trouble understanding the number ONE MILLION...
NO ONE can really understand TEN TRILLION.
And that's why our economy is on a runaway train.

05 March 2010

Against The Law!

Regarding yesterday's shooting at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C....
Didn't the shooter know it's AGAINST THE LAW to have a gun there?
What can we do to better educate citizens so they know when they go on a rampage like this, they do it where guns are legal?

03 March 2010

Lucky Lindy

The first person to cross the Atlantic SOLO, NON-STOP in an aircraft. The video is pieced together from archived photos from several sources, many of which I had never seen. The text also reveals some facts I didn't know.
In four parts, if you have an interest in aviation and history, go here and start by clicking "Part 1".

02 March 2010

Frownie Faces

I know it's partly because I've lost a ton of brain cells and thinking is not quite so quick/efficient as it once was, but I can't help but feel some of it is because there is more going on in my life than ever... more to try to schedule, compartmentalize, and remember. I have found myself, more and more, forgetting to do something relatively important. So I make myself notes... little checklists, to try and avoid slapping my palm against my forehead while exclaiming "Dog-gonit, I forgot that!"

Today's checklist says-
Green Beans
Frozen Broccoli
Frozen Cauliflower
Margarita Mix

Our Wal-Mart SuperCenter is all the way across town-
Three stop signs and two traffic lights away, even during "rush hour" it takes all of five minutes to drive there. Lucy likes to go "Bye-bye in the car", and stands on my lap looking out the driver's side window, navigating. It's chilly but not cold, so she can curl up in her "Blankey" the short time I'll be shopping.
I park, grab a lonely looking shopping cart sitting by itself near my parking space, and start my walk into the store.

On these outings I've begun my own un-scientific study:
On the way to the front door I take a deep breath, stand up straight as I can, put a smile on my face, and start watching others.
As I said, it's a chilly day, overcast, with a slight breeze making it actually feel colder than the temperature. Still, Spring is just around the corner isn't it? Isn't that reason enough to celebrate?

But all I see are frowns. Who knows what is going on in the lives of others, but surely not all these frowns indicate serious trouble in the lives of those wearing them, right? Maybe I'm mis-reading the faces... maybe what I'm seeing is determination. Or maybe that serious look is because the wearer is contemplating their own "internal checklist"? I try to smile and say "Hello" to all who make eye contact with me. Some respond with "Hello" in return. Many simply nod. Now and then I'll run into someone I know, and only then will faces break into smiles.

Try it yourself and see if you get the same results.
Life's too short to walk around with a continual frown.
It's almost Spring...
Let's plant a few smiles and see if we can get a good crop of 'em growing!

01 March 2010

Margaret Thatcher-

"The problem with Socialism is, you eventually run out of other people's money."

Can ya lend me $20 'til my neighbor gets back to work and pays me the Twenty he owes me?

To My Liberal Reader-

Yes, I capitulated long ago...
You're SO much smarter than me.
I admit your superiority in being able to see much farther down the road, so as to avoid the catastrophes into which our country finds itself presently entangled.
And yes, you're also morally superior...
I now realize my "Teach a man to fish" thinking is SO yesterday!

But please, humor me...
Why is it you choose to email me your comments rather than leave them for ALL to see here at "Pitchpull"?
When you questioned my knowledge about energy use and I responded, then asked about your lifestyle and energy use, why didn't you respond?
When you questioned my knowledge about the physics involved in flying helicopters and I responded with a factual article backing up my position, why didn't you respond?

Am I so ignorant I'm worthy only of your contempt?
I feel SO ashamed!