28 December 2011

Signs of The Times-

When I read something in a blog that strikes a chord, my initial reaction is to hit the "like" button. It's irritating to remember there isn't one.

You all know my hearing is less than satisfactory these days. Listening to the radio
I frequently miss important parts and think, "I'll just back that up so I can hear it again."
Everything that is broadcast should have TIVO's capabilities.

And it's my bet one day they will.

26 December 2011

The Douglas Dragonfly

Vincent. Brough. Henderson. Excelsior. Ariel.
Those brands are familiar.
A new marque to me. (And doesn't that engine look like an old boxer BMW?)

It's British. Owned by the brothers Douglas, the company was the first to experiment with disc brakes on their racing bikes (in the 1920's!)

If you'd like to learn more about the Douglas "Dragonfly", go HERE.

24 December 2011

"The Christmas We Get We Deserve"-

It is my hope that what you deserve is an adequately filled tummy, warmth in your surroundings, freedom from fear, contact with friends and loved ones, (and a lack of friction there), and just enough stress in your life to make it interesting.
Those of you who come here often to comment have become family in an odd way.

I appreciate your thoughts.

"Odd Family"... thank you.

22 December 2011

Ya Can't Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd

And I won't ride a motorcycle when it's raining and the thermometer says 45 degrees.
I'm pretty tough, but I'm not interested in seeing how miserable I can make myself.
All four of the bikes have electrical systems that drain the battery even with the ignition off...
Clocks, radio memory, etc.. I like to start them all and ride them half an hour or so every two weeks. But it has rained a lot lately, and my time off hasn't coincided with dry days.
Monday morning the rain stopped. By afternoon the temp was still about 45 but the streets were dry. I disconnected the trickle charger, pushed the old BMW out of the garage, and rode into town to pick up a few needed items.
Later, Sara Jean came home and said, "I have a craving for a 'Subway' sandwich... let's go get one."
To which I replied, "Bundle up. Let's ride."
And so we did... top speed of 30 mph in third gear. Still, it felt great, good for bike, and us.

Big Bubba flew in from Arizona last night. I drove into BigTown to pick him up and arrived early so I could do a little last minute shopping before going to the train station to pick him up. I arrived at the Mall about 9 P.M... they were staying open until midnight. I was surprised at the number of folks there shopping, and most of them were actually carrying bags of items they had purchased. Almost everything was on SALE, so it will be interesting to see how retailers have done this year. I suspect the fact that sales started early and stores have kept their doors open longer will mean profits will be slim. Let's see if my feeling of the pulse is correct.

So the Greybeards are ready for Christmas. It's been a year since BB has been home and it is a comfort just knowing we can reach out an touch him. I'm starting my week of nights tonight so our celebrations will be scheduled around my hours at home. That's fine. It may limit chances for disagreement.

All of us in EMS hope to be sitting on our hands the next few days. All too often we are called to cases we know will taint memories of the holidays for years to come. All we can do is try to mitigate the damage and hope to make those memories brighter.
Hold your loved ones close, everyone.
And behave yourself... please.

14 December 2011

The Final Frontier

Our steps toward space haven't been halted...
detoured, to a more efficient path.
Lead on, Mr. Rutan!

12 December 2011

On Two Wheels Part 4- The Japanese Two-Strokes

"Combat Pay".
It IS just as it sounds... pay for being in an area where your body might get perforated by some fast-moving projectile.

I was in Viet Nam, a single guy making a decent wage. And on top of that decent wage my Uncle Sam was adding "Combat Pay" and something called "Hazardous Duty Pay", because someone in the Federal Government actually thought flying low-level in a fairly large, slow-moving target over folks wanting to perforate me was hazardous!

For a year my food, clothing, and lodging were paid for.
Even my "wants" were cheap...
A Scotch and water at the "O Club" was 35 cents. If I tried hard enough I could drink six of 'em in an evening and stagger back to my hooch having spent all of $3.00, including the tip for the beautiful, almond-eyed cynic that delivered the libations.

I paid little attention to my checking account as the year slowly passed. But I subconsciously knew my funds would be accruing and I knew I wanted two things when I got "Back to the world"...
I wanted to get back to Savannah, Georgia and teach others to fly "Hueys".
I wanted to buy a new motorcycle and, on warm evenings, with an attractive member of the opposite sex, take regular rides to Savannah Beach.

To that end, about halfway through my year-long tour I started educating myself by reading motorcycle magazines. As a teen I had mostly ridden Harley-Davidsons. Back then, anything other than a Harley was something less.
But in 1968-'69 there was big change going on in the biking industry...
Triumph and BSA had just come out with a new 750cc triple.
Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki all had new offerings. And there were rumors Honda was about to release a radical new machine.
But all the magazines were RAVING about the performance of the new Kawasaki two stroke triple:

Zero-to-sixty time of 3.2 seconds!
Top speed around 120 m.p.h.!
I decided to kill two birds with one stone-
Buy my first Japanese motorcycle. Buy the first bike I ever owned with a two-cycle engine.
At the end of my Viet Nam tour I got my wish to return to Savannah. I quickly found the local Kaw dealer and bought a machine exactly like the one pictured above.
It was evil.
Extraordinarily fast in a straight line, in turns the frame couldn't stand up to stresses involved and it flexed and wobbled terribly. It made a noise like a hive of hornets. Two-stroke engines produce more horsepower for a given displacement and engine weight, but the penalty you pay is in fuel efficiency... they are gas hogs.
Vibrations made the handgrips buzz and would put your hands to sleep on long trips.
From dead-stop, the initial acceleration of these machines was less than mediocre. Then, as the tachometer ticked past 4000 rpm... WHOA NELLIE!! It was as if someone flicked a light switch...
All the torque the engine could produce came on, trying to wrench your hands from the bars. It was difficult to keep the front wheel on the ground in first and second gear.

I loved the power of the thing. After riding it just over 10,000 miles I bought another one almost exactly like it (with upgraded electronic ignition) the following model year.

A year after that the rumors started...
Kawasaki was coming out with an even faster bike.
They were increasing the displacement of their two-stroke triple to 750cc's.
I went to my Kawasaki dealer, (who was now a close friend) and threatened him with noogies and wedgies if he sold the first 750 he received to anyone other than me. He called me when they had the first bike out of the crate and assembled. I rode home on it that night. This is what it looked like:

That disc brake up front eliminated any chance at brake fade, so it stopped better. But the rest of the evils remained:
Noise. Vibration. Terrible handling in anything other than a straight line.

All in all, I rode over 30,000 miles on Kaw triples in five years.
In spite of their terrible faults, I still have fond memories of all of 'em.
Others obviously do too...
Prices for examples in good shape on eBay bring more than I'd consider spending for one.
(But I'm still lookin'. And if I can find one in decent shape at a reasonable price, I might just own one again!)

10 December 2011

Too Good...

You may have had a similar experience...
It happened to me shortly after I got my driver's license, setting the date sometime in 1963 or '64, so the subject car would have been about five years old.

One of my closest friends says, "My Uncle knows a guy who is trying to sell a '59 Cadillac for $100.00. But there is a problem...
The owner died in it and wasn't found for several days, and the car reeks of the smell of his decaying corpse."

Wow. $100 for a car that was the "Cadillac" of automobiles when it was new?
For a new driver it was tempting. If necessary, I could drive that sucker around for a year or so with the windows rolled down, even when it was -4 degrees F. outside!
I talked with my old man...
"Well, if necessary we can take it apart and sell it as a parts car. The engine alone would be worth more than the asking price."

So I called my buddy-
"Tell your Uncle the car is sold. Where should I take the check?"

And you probably know "The rest of the story" already, don't you?
The rest of the story is that my good friend didn't return my call.

Oh well.
The car probably had a prosthetic hook hanging from the passenger door too.

08 December 2011

Fine For Me, But For You? Not So Much!

How do you know you've been a successful parent?
I won't even attempt to answer that. Jerry Sandusky's parents probably thought they had done a decent job raising their son. If they're still alive, they must now be reconsidering.

But our son has been on his own for almost five years now. He supports himself, and we're often made proud by remarks we hear from those associated with him at work and play. Thanks to Verizon, the 2000 miles that separate us are almost eliminated by several cell-phone calls daily.
He talks with his Mother often...
He calls me (not so often), when he wants advice or reassurance.

He has watched with interest how his old man has gotten back into motorcycling now that he's moved to Arizona. Last Fall he even rode behind me on the GoldWing about a half hour to see what that experience would be like. It was chilly and he wasn't dressed properly, but still he seemed to enjoy the ride.

I think he's been talking motorcycles with his friends in Arizona, because one of those friends just GAVE him the Yamaha 400 "Special" that has been sitting idle in his garage for a couple years.

His drive from his Casa Grande, AZ home to his workplace in Chandler, AZ takes about 40 minutes and is spent mostly on Interstate 10. His Ford Explorer "Sport Trac" gets a little over 20 m.p.g. on the highway, so he's burnin' about 4 gallons of fuel each round-trip.
Driven sanely, the Yamaha should get around 50 m.p.g. and will cut his fuel costs in half. Great Arizona weather should allow him to ride the bike to work much of the year.

When his friend gave him the bike our son called and was excited.
We are excited, AND concerned.
In my head I'm thinkin', "It's okay for me to something slightly dangerous and fun, but I'm not so sure I want you doing the same thing, my son!"

So we have to do what we have done in the past...
Try to educate and instill the proper amount of respect he needs to have for the bike-riding experience.
He has always listened well and put our advice to good use. I see no reason he won't do that again.
And now I'm lookin' forward to our next trip to Arizona...
I hear there are some wonderful roads to ride East of "Apache Junction"!

06 December 2011

Easy To Assemble. No Tools Required!

We've been sleeping on a Queen-size, soft-side, fully baffled waterbed for 22 years. With one exception we love the thing-
My wife sleeps as a "runner". At 5'10" she's mostly legs, and she lays claim to about 80% of the bed when she's sleeping. Put both of us in a Queen-size space, add two dogs (that want to lay right on top of me), and you've got a cramped situation.
I don't complain...
I only need about a foot WAY OVER HERE on my side of the bed. But if she happens to touch me or the dogs when she is "sprinting" , she's not a happy snoozer.

For several years now she's been begging for a King-size bed. A couple months ago QVC had a special on "Select Comfort" air beds. We chatted, then agreed a new bed would be a nice Christmas gift we could give one another. So we pulled the trigger.
And that meant doing a "musical chairs" routine with our bedrooms. The bed in our guest room was a full-size... much too small for our 6'3" offspring to sleep on, requiring us to inflate a portable air mattress for him during his visits. So the plan unfolded:
Sell the antique bed in the guest room.
Drain and move the waterbed to that bedroom.
Build the new "Sleep Number" bed in the Master BR.

Our UPS driver Tim delivered seven big boxes about a month ago.
Three weeks ago we finally sold the bed in the guest room.
Draining, disassembling, the re-assembling that bed downstairs took the better part of two days.
Then my work-shift week started. We inflated the portable air mattress normally used by our son and slept on the floor of our bedroom for a week.

Two days ago I started unpacking (BIG!) boxes. (And what a shame there isn't an easy, good use for all that wonderful cardboard.)
No tools required... EASY to assemble!
Yeah... right.

There was an assembly manual, AND an "easy to follow" DVD. Problem was, they didn't agree on how to build the bed. Tired and frustrated the first night, I finally quit when I couldn't make the foundation pieces fit the way the DVD said they should, figuring I might better understand with a rested mind.
Sure enough, the next day I did a little experimenting and sorted that problem out, only to be once again stymied by missing pieces to the puzzle. The DVD indicated four plastic "corner pieces" should be installed to hold foam inserts in place at the side, head, and foot of the bed.
Go outside and search through all the discarded cardboard...
Those pieces were nowhere to be found.
Find the "800" number for help...
Dial it...
"We're sorry, but there is no one here to answer your call. Please call back during normal business hours. Your call is important to us!"


RTDM... read the damn manual...
There I find, those pieces ARE NOT necessary with our particular bed.

The rest of the assembly goes without a hitch.
We slept off the floor last night on a bed that looks the size of a tennis court.
My "runner" would have to sprint the 100-yard dash to touch me.
The dogs and I slept undisturbed on my 1 foot piece of territory at the edge.

It's a great bed.
I'm calling "Select Comfort" today with suggestions on how to improve the instructions so that when you buy yours you won't consider committing suicide as I did.

03 December 2011

That Unlocked Door

Now more than fifty years later I cannot tell you how old she was, but she was old and infirm. A walker parked next to her chair, she was able to get up and slowly make her way to the bathroom if necessary.

The house was tiny...
Two bedrooms, barely big enough for full-size beds. A bathroom, living room, and kitchen.
The interior was austere...
Nothing on the walls. Two old rocker/recliners in the living room with a floor lamp between them. The chairs faced a small television, (black and white of course), and "The Secret Storm" was always on when I entered. No knock at the door was necessary... she expected me.
I was her newsboy, and I'm sure that on many days I was her only contact with a real human being.
She wanted to talk. I knew she needed to talk.
Her daughter paid me to deliver "The Indianapolis News" to the old woman. I'm sure she paid me not for the newspaper, but to walk through that unlocked door and insure her Mother was still alive, then spend a few moments in conversation with her.
She didn't have much, but when she had something to share she wanted me to partake-
"There are fresh radishes in the refrigerator. Do you like radishes?"
Not really.
But I ate a couple and acted as if they were delicious, then thanked her for her generosity.

She was still alive when I handed the paper route over to my replacement.
I made sure he knew to walk through that door, put the newspaper on her lap, and brighten her day for a few minutes with chat about what was happening outside her unlocked door.

Looking back, I now realize I learned most of what I needed to know about life from being a newsboy.
I've even learned to tolerate radishes.

27 November 2011

Better Than A Dirty Diaper!

I am not a big Newt fan. There are things about him that trouble me A LOT. As others have pointed out he comes with his own set of "baggage". His recent immigration comments make me cringe. But I have also said many times recently, a feces-filled baby's diaper could do a better job as POTUS than the present golfer in the White House. And if that's my only choice versus Obama, the soiled diaper will get my vote.

Viewing this video will consume less than ten minutes of your life.
Watch it.
Then, in the comments, tell me if
it doesn't give you hope for the future of our beloved country.

24 November 2011

Face- Updated

I'm a sucker for a beautiful face.
This one stunned me.
No, it's not a young Bo Derek.
You may know her if you're into historical trivia.
Hers is a fascinating story! (WWII Germany)

Know her?

24November Update-
Both "The History Channel" and "The Military Channel" have had a lot of programming devoted to Nazi Germany and the steps leading to World War II lately. Regular readers know I see many comparisons with that era and what is going on in the U.S.A. right now. (In his comment to the post just below this one, Ed Bonderenka points out that the Nazi party started out as community organizers. Start the spooky music now!)

One of the programs I watched was devoted to the fact that many Nazi leaders (certainly including Hitler) were interested in the occult, and thought ancient civilizations could not have accomplished their great works without the aid of "other world" beings. We've seen some of this interest portrayed in movies like "Raiders of The Lost Ark".

The face above belongs to a gal named Maria Orsic (or Orsitsch). She was a member of a post-WWI group called "The Vril Society". They wanted to know how the ancients, in their buildings and art, could accomplish things impossible (or nearly impossible) to accomplish today.
I think we still have much to learn from history. I think we are a LONG way from having all the answers. If you agree, click the links and read some more about the Vril, and the beautiful gal who mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth in 1943.

14 November 2011


I'm watching a program on the military channel illuminating Adolf Hitler's life just prior to and during World War II. There is a saying out there that the first person to bring up Adolf Hitler in a political conversation is the loser.
So I guess I'm a loser here. But there are many interesting comparisons going on right now for those with eyes that see and ears that hear. And while I was watching the program this morning, this one struck me-

Hitler had signed a "non-agression" treaty with Russia. When it became politically expedient to forget his promises, Hitler ignored that treaty and invaded Russia. All went well until Winter time when Germany's offense was stifled more by the weather than the Russian defense. Russian soldiers, knowing what the weather could bring, were FAR better prepared to deal with Mother Nature than their German counterparts. Hitler's top military advisers suggested a retreat... with the hope of "living to fight another day" against troops that obviously were better prepared to fight in those conditions.
Hitler, ego bigger than the superdome, ignored his advisers and issued a statement saying something to the effect that German soldiers, being German, were better than Russian soldiers and should hold their ground until Spring when they could once again wipe the floor with the ignorant Russians.

And we history buffs know how that turned out.

It's an interesting study...
An egomaniac doesn't want to admit he might be wrong so he blames his failures on others, in spite of the fact those others, (who were smarter than he on these matters), tried to save his bacon by giving him VERY good advice which he ignored.

In the White House now we have a guy with a pretty big ego.
In spite of having done pretty much nothing of note since being born half-white, he's been surrounded by sycophants all his life telling him how "cool" he is...
How smart he is...
What a wonderful speaker he is...
And our President(?) is convinced of his own greatness, not smart enough to listen to that adviser whispering in his ear.

Now we find the reason our economy is failing is because
we are lazy.
Yeah, it's not his fault. And his advisors are just stupid.

Is it too late?
Who is smart enough to listen to the whisperer?
I fear we are not.
So to those of you with ears that hear-
Be prepared.
Listen to the whisper...
There is almost nothing to lose by preparing, but there is MUCH to lose by ignoring the many signals.

12 November 2011

Retire? I'll Miss The Good Outcomes. I Won't Miss The Injured Kids.

I walk a tightrope here much of the time.
I'm frequently involved in stuff that makes the news...
"So-and-so was involved in a head on collision last night and was taken by helicopter to such and such medical center where he remains in critical but stable condition."
And if I give you too many details about the case, I might find myself talking to a lawyer.
But my job involves real drama much of the time. And that's particularly true when young-un's are involved.

Last night was one of those nights. At some point in the future I hope to tell you about it. But for now, let me relate a story about a similar case that happened long ago enough I likely won't get my butt in trouble telling you-

We were called to the scene. Paramedics were there and knew this was one of those situations where "seconds count". The patient was a four year old boy. He had gone out into the family's garage and against one wall was his Dad's tool chest that looked somewhat like this:

There was something at the top of that chest this boy wanted. So he pulled the lower drawers out and used them as steps to reach the top. His weight, combined with the weight of the tools in the box, toppled it over, crushing him beneath it.
My crew quickly did what was necessary...
Established a secure airway.
Started an IV.
We loaded and transported him the short distance to the Children's hospital.
There, they immediately took him to the operating room where they found he had a badly torn aorta and other internal injuries.
He died.

My kid last night was not so terribly injured, and it's my hope he'll have a much better outcome.
And I hope his parents don't beat themselves up with guilt.

10 November 2011

Motorcycle Road Racing

March of 1971-
I had just bought my new
500cc Kawasaki, so it was just natural I'd be rooting for Kaw riders. Daytona was just five or so hours away and I had never been to "Bike Week". I mounted my new bike and headed South out of Savannah on I-95.

If you like motorcycles, Daytona Bike Week is nearly heaven. I've never been to Sturgis so I cannot compare the two, but my image of Sturgis is that it is mostly a Harley-Davidson event.
Daytona is different. Sure, there are plenty of Harleys there but that Saturday night, standing on a street corner oogling the bikes as they stopped at the traffic signal, I saw just about every motorcycle made to be ridden on the street, including the one and only
Munch Mammoth I have ever seen in person... one of the first motorcycles ever built with an engine designed for an automobile.

Sunday morning dawned and the weather was perfect. I got to the track early and was amazed at what I saw...
The speed of the bikes was just unbelievable. They were hitting almost 200 m.p.h. on the banked part of the track, then they had to brake heavily to slow and enter the twisty infield portion of the course. (Just a few years after my visit the bikes had gotten so fast that tires could not be made to withstand the forces put on them, so a chicane was installed in the middle of the backstretch to slow the bikes down.)

Other Kaw riders I had talked to were buzzing about this rookie-expert Kawasaki rider- Rusty Bradley. He was fast. He had a good ride. He was someone I needed to watch.
Most of the Kawasakis were painted Lime Green. I picked him out... number 64.

There were so many bikes competing in the race they started them in two waves...
The fastest group of about twenty roared off, then a few seconds later the second group followed. I watched in awe as Rusty passed several machines on the back side of the track, then came down the front straight where he'd need to clamp on the binders in order to make the left turn into the infield.
I still don't know for sure what happened.
He fell.
Right in front of me.
Still traveling at about 150 m.p.h.
It was horrible. He log-rolled, over and over and over. His arm would flail out until the weight of his body would bear down on it and it would fold under him just as the other arm would get free and would flail out.
It seemed he rolled forever before coming to a stop. Then he laid there lifeless. To the guy
I had befriended in the seat next to mine I said, "He's dead".

They waited until the end of the race to announce what I already knew...
Rusty was gone.

To me, motorcycle road racing is the most beautiful, dangerous sport in the world. Unlike car racing, the riders are exposed so you can see how they manipulate their machines to make them do what they have to do...
Hang their butts off the machine to the left or right to lower the center of gravity so the bikes can reach a lean angle (and at a speed) that just seems impossible. On the straights, they tuck down behind the windshield making themselves as small as they can in order to reduce drag. Then approaching a turn they sit upright to catch the wind on their chest to provide an aerodynamic assist to the brakes.
It's a gorgeous ballet.

Two weeks ago, the same weekend Dan Wheldon was killed at Las Vegas, a young man named
Marco Simoncelli fell during the Moto GP race in Sepang, Malaysia and was struck by two other riders. He had terrible head, neck, and other injuries and did not survive.
The video of the accident is hard to watch.
It took me back to 1971 and made me think of

Motorcycle road racing is a beautiful thing to watch.
And I cannot deny it...
Part of my fascination with it is because it is SO dangerous.
And, like so many things in life, those who live "out on the edge" sometimes pay the heavy toll.

But they come back the next week, suit up in their protective gear, and go try to extend the envelope once again.

And I'll be watching and enjoying, knowing how hard it is to do what they make look so easy.

07 November 2011

Making Do

Use it up. Wear it out.
This economy is forcing a lot more people into this mode of thinking, isn't it? One of the things I will proudly tell others is, "That butt you see hanging outside the dumpster is probably mine!" I NEVER go to a dumpster without checking to see what perfectly usable item others have thrown away. (And wonder, why didn't they consider giving it to the Salvation Army or Goodwill?)

But this attitude can result in the kind of trouble we face right now...
The lowest mileage automobile we own now has 152,000 miles on it. Last week Sara Jean had just left home when she came back through the door...
"The steering is locked up on the car!" She had driven about half a block, then parked the car alongside the road. We walked back to the car and I jumped behind the wheel, started it, and experienced something I'd never had happen before-

From the neutral point, (driving straight ahead), to the right steering lock, everything worked fine. Moving the steering wheel from the right lock to the neutral point... fine.
But from the neutral point to the left steering lock, it was like there was no power assist at all. (And obviously, to the weaker sex that felt like the steering was locked up.)

I drove the car the short distance back home and SJ grabbed the keys to our second car, (238,000 miles) and headed off to work.
Our mechanic says the rack and pinion has failed on the newer car and the repair will be $700+.
So we're keeping our fingers crossed the older car will continue to motivate until the new car is repaired.

Buying most any new car would entail taking on the payment for the car loan... probably somewhere in the vicinity of $5- $800 per month. The cheap voice in me shouts that so long as the cars we drive are safe and are not costing us anything close to what a new car payment would be, we should just continue to drive our perfectly nice driving older cars. But just over the horizon we can see the time coming when our high-mileage cars will no longer be "nice driving" OR "safe". Were it just me, I'd just drive 'em 'til the wheels fall off and take out some roadside billboard. But I'm not willing to take that risk with my bride.

Got a better formula for when to trade?
Share it, please.

02 November 2011

On Two Wheels, Part 3- Ride As If It's Yours

In my "pre-legal" driving days as a teen I wore out certain pages of the Sears catalog...
If you are "of a certain age" like me, you'll remember the "Good/Better/Best" way Sears displayed some of their more expensive items. I wore out the motor scooter/motorcycle pages in those catalogs. Under motorcycles, "Good" was a Puch 150cc machine, "Better" was a Puch 175, and "Best" was a Puch 250. (If you're interested, there's a decent pic of the Austrian-made Sears/Puch 250 pictured here.) I'm actually glad I wasn't able to afford one of 'em because I've since learned they had a strange engine that used a system of two pistons sharing one combustion chamber. That, along with the inherent inefficiencies of two-cycle engines, made the Puchs terrible gas hogs.
I ended up buying the Aermacchi/Harley 250cc Sprint we discussed earlier.
I wanted a bigger bike, but my budget precluded me from buying one. And there was another reason I never bought a larger displacement motorcycle.

I've written before about my love for the Harley Davidson Sportster:

I love the Sportster because next to my little Sprint, I probably rode more miles on one than any other motorcycle while I was in High School.
How is that possible?
It REALLY pays to have a wealthy, generous friend! One of my best friends owned two Sportsters while we were in H.S....
An early "H" model, which was probably of 1957 or '58 vintage, which he traded on a "CH" model similar to the one shown above about the time we became Seniors.
I was able to frequently borrow both bikes and ride them almost as if they were my own.

When I came home on leave after Flight School and before departing for Viet Nam I found my friend had bought a new toy...
Another machine for which, as an early teen, I had saliva stained sales brochures:

He flipped me the keys to the Bonnie and told me to bring it back when I had to go back to playing soldier. I rode and loved that Triumph for 30 days.

I have some GREAT memories thanks to my wealthy friend.
And with friends like that, it's pretty easy to feel rich yourself.

01 November 2011

The Root of Our Problems-

New York City.

Democrats from that corner of our Nation, and those calling themselves "moderate" Republicans, have joined to royally screw up our economy.
"Fool me once"...
Have we learned anything here?

Remind me...
Where is Mitt Romney from? And what is his track record on this HORRENDOUS health care reform bill?

29 October 2011

R.E.M. Sleep Vs. E.M.S. Sleep

Here at our base, pilots make shift change at 0700 and 1900. My days of riding to work are coming to an end. Tonight I had to leave almost an hour early in order to arrive before darkness fell. Even at that, there were two instances tonight where I motored by deer grazing in fields only a football field or so from the roadway. We will change our clocks... "Fall back" soon, and when we do my ability to ride to work will be gone until March or April next year. Riding to work has been great this year... I think I've only had three or four days when rain precluded my coming to work on two wheels.

I've had a surprise. If you told me right now that I could only keep one of the four bikes parked in my garage, I'd want to keep the 800cc BMW airhead. It's a comfortable machine to ride, gets good gas mileage, is "flickable", and even though it only has two cylinders it doesn't vibrate. This morning on my way home at 60 mph I decided the proper word to describe the sensation in the handgrips and footpegs isn't "vibrate" or "buzz"... it's more of a "hum".
It makes me smile.

This is my first shift back since our trip to California and I'm finally back in stride with the routine of work. Weather set in on us my first night back and I was reasonably sure I wouldn't fly because of low ceilings and poor visibility due to rain. The phone didn't ring.
The second night was clear blue and twenty-two... and again the phone didn't ring. We all watched that marathon of a World Series game between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Tonight it is once again flyable. Game seven of the World Series is in the history books and we got to watch it in its entirety because the phone has once again remained silent.
So we have been able to "Earn Money Sleeping". And although it's nice to earn a nice wage while watching TV, reading, or resting, it ain't quite what a lot of folks imagine.

A long time ago in another life the second best wife I ever had, while working on her Master's degree in Education, did some research on kid's sleeping habits and the effect those habits have on learning. I helped her with the research and learned some interesting stuff:
We need to dream when we sleep. It's while we are dreaming that our bodies rebuild and recharge. When we dream our eyes move behind our eyelids. This phenomenon is called "Rapid Eye Movement", or R.E.M. sleep. R.E.M. sleep happens late in our sleep cycle... So if your sleep is limited to just a few hours, you may experience little or no dreaming and R.E.M. sleep. That's why you feel like a dog if you have a "toss and turn" night, and why you may actually begin to be a danger to yourself and those around you if you have bouts of insomnia several nights in a row.

Here at work we all know our sleep may be interrupted at any time, so we always sleep seemingly with one eye open... never allowing ourselves to fall deeply asleep. And then we go home in the day and try to recharge our batteries, only to sleep fitfully there too. After a week of a little sleep here, a little sleep there, we need a couple nights to recover.

This is a great job and I'll miss it like crazy when I finally hang up my wings...
But I won't miss having my sleep messed up all the time.

27 October 2011

Affirmative Action

I'm damned tired of racial issues.
I've said before, one of the things I hoped for when this man was elected President was that in our country, all would realize that all things were possible for ALL people if they applied themselves and were prepared to take advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves. Say what you want about him...
Bozo certainly was smart enough to take advantage of the opportunities that fell at his feet.
But now we have members of the "Gimme" generation soiling people's lawns and businesses all over the nation.
Hope and change...
I'm sure we all hoped things would change for the better.
Is it better?
You tell me.

At some point a proud people will begin to realize you're not equal if you're a guy playing golf, competing against your friends while hitting your initial drives from the women's tees.
Then, and only then, will racial issues begin to improve in this country.

Racial minorities need a unifying leader.
That leader needs to be able to say "Yes we can!", and MEAN it.

26 October 2011

"No Drugs Were Found in her System"

CBS, and other news sources today:
"But her blood alcohol content was FIVE TIMES the legal limit."

I think we need more drug education in SOME circles.

25 October 2011

Unintended Consequences- The Airlines

We just got back from another trip to LaLa land. Every two years I make the trek to Torrance, CA, home of the Robinson Helicopter Company, to renew my Flight Instructor certificate. The school lasts three and a half days and includes a flight of at least an hour in either the R22 or R44. (For interested helicopter pilots, the company will be adding the R66 to the list of aircraft you can fly starting January.) I have been alternating the aircraft I fly each time I attend... two years ago I flew the R22, this year I flew in the R44. Next time out I'll probably fly the R66. I expect to find the R66 is very "JetRanger" like, only lighter, faster, and more fuel efficient.

We participate in the Frontier Airlines frequent flyer program and had enough miles to use on this trip. When I made our reservations I was surprised to find Frontier Airlines intended to charge us $20 for each bag we intended to check. This presents a problem for this family...
The bag containing Sara Jean's hair care, cleaning and moisturizing, and makeup products is about the size of a 15 cu. ft. freezer, and she is VERY attached to all of these products.
I worried that trying to convince her to limit her "stuff" to a single carry-on bag would be met with wailing and gnashing of teeth.
She surprised me. "Twenty dollars! That's highway robbery!"
And when we left the morning of our flight I was surprised at how well she had packed...
Her carry-on bag met the carry-on requirements... It just WEIGHED as much as a 15 cu. ft. freezer!

Getting to the gate to board our airplane was an adventure this time and I may bore you with the details later. But waiting at the gate to board we heard this announcement:
"Ladies and gentlemen this flight will be full and all the overhead compartments may be filled. If you are interested in checking any of your bags, FREE OF CHARGE, please see me now and we will insure your bag arrives at your final destination."

So SJ's bag, weighing half as much as a Volkswagen, went into the cargo hold of the airplane and cost us nuttin'. I can't begin to tell you how glad I was that I wouldn't have to lift that sucker up into the overhead storage compartment! (And it happened again on the trip home.)

Now, watch with me and see how long this "first checked bag" charge remains in effect. (I already wrote to Frontier and gave them my opinion on the subject.)

21 October 2011

City Mouse, Country Mouse

Waiting for the light to change I first noticed the approach of the lady with the dog, a mutt with his question mark tail wagging over his back. Only then I noticed the reason for the wag...
An old man, bent slightly forward due to age and bent even further because of a slight dowager's hump, was speaking to the dog as it and its owner approached. The lady stopped alongside the old guy, waiting for the light to change to "Walk", and the old man bent down to scratch behind both the dog's ears. It was VERY obvious that both beings, four and two-legged, were enjoying the encounter. It made me smile.

I was on a mission.
The donut shop that provided the delicacies I had been eating all week was just down the road. I'm once again in Torrance, California to renew my Flight Instructor certificate. The class is 3-1/2 days long and includes three days of classroom instruction and a half day in which a flight in either the two-seat R22 or the four seat R-44 is accomplished. Two years ago I flew in the R-22, so this time I needed to fly in the R-44. Yesterday morning I passed the end-of-course test. Sara Jean came with me this trip and after hearing my raves all week about the pastries, gave me orders last night to bring some back to the motel this morning.

Through "Thrifty Rent-a-car" I rented a Hyundai Sonata, wanting the chance to see if we might be interested in purchasing one in the future. When we arrived at John Wayne airport, my Hundai Sonata had magically turned into a new Chevy Malibu. We were running late and the rental agency was closing in 15 minutes, so I didn't complain. The Malibu looked like a nice car. But halfway in our 45 minute drive to the Torrance Ramada a bell sounded and these warnings appeared on the dash:
Rental agencies remove the owners handbooks from their cars so I have no idea what these warnings mean. I haven't noticed any change in the car's driveability, so we'll keep the thing and report the discrepencies when we return the car tomorrow.

Sunny Southern California... isn't. It's been overcast and chilly most or our week here. That's a real shame, because we are only five or so miles from some of the most BEAUTIFUL views of the ocean to be found. With this bad visibility, it's not even worth the hassle of driving there.

And then there is the traffic.
Surface streets aren't much different than anywhere in the U.S.. Traffic is busy and you just have to resign yourself to dealing with it. That means long, LONG waits at stop lights where you sometimes see chance encounters between man and beast. But the Interstates?
There are places here where there are 8 lanes on either side of the median and sometimes all those lanes are FILLED with cars. Sometimes all those lanes are moving at reduced speed. Sometimes those lanes aren't moving at all. We went to "Knotts 'Scary' Farm" last night and for the first time I heard "Carmen the Garmin" warn, "Severe traffic ahead, RECALCULATING."
And we were then redirected to the surface streets. The trip to the amusement park took 15 minutes longer than we planned. Still, we had a great time.

We're headed home tomorrow morning.
I'll catch you up on details soon.

18 October 2011


In that half-awake, half-asleep state thinking about these "Occupy Wall Street" folks I had one of those "Eureka" moments this morning:
The government is abusing ALL OF US!
We all need to retire and let GOVERNMENT take care of us.

"You may think I'm a dreamer.
But I'm not the only one.
Some day I hope you'll join us,
and the world will live as one!"

15 October 2011

Deal's Gap

Watch for these guys to pass the "Speed Limit 30" sign about 50 seconds into the video. Think they're exceeding the speed limit?
Both these guys are riding Honda GoldWings. These big bikes aren't supposed to be able to do this:

The now-and-then scraping sound you hear in the turns is the sound of something on the bike's undercarriage being ground away because the bike is being leaned at such a great angle.

Sent to me by friend Cary, who knew I'd be interested.

13 October 2011

Formation Flying Made Easy

Flying formation in a helicopter is stressful, hard work.
I have no fixed-wing formation experience, so I won't address that, but I can't imagine it's as tough as doing it in a fling-wing. But done well, both are beautiful to watch.
Still, we are amateurs at it.
Watch an expert:

12 October 2011

Revolvers Are Dead? Not So Fast, Bunky!

I thought I had bought my last revolver. Now I'm not so sure.
I'd appreciate your thoughts and feedback on this thing:

11 October 2011


There's a hole in the front bumper of that MG-A. Do you know why?

(Motorcycles have similarly done away with something no longer considered necessary, and for the same reason.)

10 October 2011

Heart Attack

Myocardial infarction...
When I started flying EMS, one of the smartest and most experienced flight nurses I know told me the single most important factor in avoiding coronary problems...
"Choose your parents carefully!" This, after I had related the story of distance runner Jim Fixx. Jim's father had died of a heart attack in his early 40's. Wanting to avoid that fate, Jim took up long distance running. He was mostly muscle and bone when he died at the age of 52... of a heart attack.

Last night as I lay in bed trying to doze off I was thinking about the term "heart attack".
An attack is an aggressive thing. Why would our hearts want to do something so openly offensive to us? These attacks are not good for the body as a whole, therefore they are not good for the "attacking" heart.
Why do hearts attack?

C'mon hearts...
All we are saying, is give peace a chance!

06 October 2011

Accessory To Murder

Two U.S. Law Enforcement Agents dead.
Countless civilians dead in Mexico.
All because of a program put in place, then overseen by this man.
Is this the most corrupt adminstration EVER?

You are a liar sir, and you've been caught in your lie.
Go to Jail.

03 October 2011

They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore.

Do you ever get the "urge to splurge" and go buy some piece of machinery that will SWEEP you back to those "good ol' days" of 50 years ago?
I do.
And then I think about THAT car.
One almost exactly like the one in the photo.
A 1957 Pontiac Chieftain, four-door hardtop. Two-tone, white with red trim.
347 cubic inches with a four-barrel carburetor. Automatic transmission, radio and heater. It was a nice car, for sale by another Uncle so I knew its history. I was already bored to tears with the '53 Ford Flathead V-8 Victoria even though I had been driving it less than a year. I wanted something faster.
The Pontiac filled that bill. So I bought it.

And it WAS fast...
The problem was that carburetor... The engine ran on two of the four venturis most of the time to conserve fuel. The only time the additional two "barrels" would open was if you pushed the gas pedal to the floor... then that big-for-its-time engine would bellow like a castrated bull and the car would LEAP forward, gathering speed (and burning LOTS of premium gas) at a frightening rate. It was a lot of car for a 16 year old.
The two extra barrels on the carburetor were vacuum actuated, and something about the system on my car wasn't working right. Pushing the pedal to the floor would sometimes produce the desired result... Thrilling.
Sometimes the two extra barrels wouldn't open... Disappointing, and sometimes, if I was depending on that extra power, dangerous. I tinkered, wrenched, cursed, spat, and chanted incantations suggested by friends... all to no avail.
The carburetor still worked intermittently.

There was another problem with this car. Fast and HEAVY, the four-wheel drum brakes weren't up to the job of stopping it effectively.
I should qualify this statement...
The brakes worked fine so long as someone like my Uncle was driving the car. With a 16 year old maniac behind the wheel, this car needed the stopping power of a Ferrari. It would stop just fine if it wasn't traveling at Warp 9. But during a panic stop from anything above the speed limit the brakes would heat up and fade, and it didn't make any difference how hard you mashed on that pedal... the car would slow, but at about half the rate you needed. And it would let you know it was not happy being treated that way by inundating you with the smell of overheated brake linings.

So here's the scenario-
I'm headed for school one morning and I am BARELY on time when the phone rings. A sister of one of my closest friends says, "I overslept and missed the bus. Can you come pick me up?"
She lives a couple blocks in the opposite direction I need to go to get to school, and I'm already nearly late. But I'm a nice guy and don't want to disappoint...
"I'm on my way."

I collect her and figure Warp 9 may still get us to school on time. Gas pedal down, tryin' to get those two additional venturis to open, we're probably goin' 70 in a 35 zone. There's a school bus stopped out ahead of us. I take my foot off the "loud" pedal and wonder what the bus is gonna do... It's just stopped there. No flashing lights. No "Stop" sign extended.
Then the little girl comes out of the adjacent house and the school bus driver goes all "lights and stop sign" on me.
I push that brake pedal hard as I can and pray.

And the damn thing lets me down. By the time I get stopped, smoke from the brakes swirling all around the car, we're about 10 feet past the bus' extended stop sign. I look up at the driver, shrug my shoulders, and continue to school.

We're not late! I'm actually sitting in my seat, ready for class when the announcement comes over the P.A. system:
"Will (Greybeard) please come to the office?"
In the office sits Officer Sheek from the Indiana State Patrol. Sitting in his drive warming the engine on his cruiser when I pulled my bonehead stunt pretty much right in front of his house, all he had to do was follow me at a leisurely pace, watch me turn into the school grounds, and do a 10-28 on the license plate.

Reckless driving.
Loss of license for 6 months. (Which would impact my life in some interesting and positive ways in a few years.)
... At a time when driving/riding meant the world to me.
All because I was an idiot, driving much too fast in a car equipped with brakes I KNEW were not up to the task demanded of them.

No, they don't make 'em like that anymore...
Disc brakes.
Fuel injection.
Better lighting.
Better tires.
Better electronics.
And to top it all, less expensive too.

When I start getting the urge to buy a "classic" car, I think of that old Pontiac...
And then I lose that urge pretty quickly.

02 October 2011

A Word For Our President(?)-


You promised 'em. Where are they?
We've experienced our "recovery summer".
You've thrown money at companies racing into bankruptcy.
You've rewarded unproductive behavior.

Do you know the definition of insanity, Mr. Obama?
This country desperately needs some Hope and Change.

Can you change?
I hope you ARE changed.

01 October 2011

On Two Wheels, Part 2- Starter Bike

There's always a special place in your heart for "firsts", isn't there?
You're looking at one of mine in that photo. At 15 I found out a trusted Uncle was selling his car, a 1953 Ford Victoria. I bought it from him, then stored it until I could drive it legally. When I turned 16 and became a legal driver I started driving the Ford, but I also wanted to upgrade my two-wheeled capabilities. I wanted to go distances that would be impractical at 35 mph on the Cushman. Now, let's back up a moment...
My first experience with things "Made in Japan" was with the cheap toys we got from that country. You could actually look inside some of these toys and see the labels from the beer cans the toys were made of. The phrase "Made in Japan" meant cheap and fragile. That reputation worried me about some of the first Japanese motorcycles that hit our shores. For me, the "Harley-Davidson" name printed on the gas tank meant quality and dependability.

Shopping around bike shops, I saw a used bike exactly like the one pictured above for sale... a 250cc Harley-Davidson "Sprint". The Sprint was actually Harley's response to Honda's invasion...
H.D. realized they needed a small, entry level bike to draw folks to Harley shops and hoped when they moved up to a bigger bike they'd stay under the H-D roof to make that purchase. So Harley bought the Italian company Aermacchi (who made airplanes during WWII), and simply added the Harley-Davidson name to the small, decent motorcycles being produced by that company. How well that venture worked out for H-D is debatable... everyone knew these little bikes were not made in Milwaukee and looked at them skeptically. But I liked the looks of the Sprint and hoped if I did have problems needing service, my local H-D dealer would treat me right.

I owned the bike three years and put almost 10,000 miles on it, finally selling it when I was drafted into the ARMY.

With some minor complaints, it was solid, dependable transportation. It had a single-cylinder, pushrod engine and came up short on horsepower when compared to the efficient vertical-twin overhead cam engines being produced by Honda. In a 1/4 mile race, the Sprint would always fall a couple bike lengths behind a comparable Honda. It vibrated so badly I couldn't feel my hands after an hour of riding. But the Sprint would go 85 miles per hour, (and the speedo needle pointed to 85 on the rural roads I traveled FREQUENTLY!) It had an exhaust note like a shrieking banshee, (which I loved then but would HATE if my neighbor had a bike that sounded like it now), and would go forever on a tankful of gas.

It actually turned out to be a great starter bike, and in spite of its shortcomings I still have fond memories of it. If money wasn't an object and I had a place to store lots of bikes, I might buy one to tool around town on today.
(But as we've discussed earlier, 250cc bikes being offered by manufacturers today are better in EVERY way, and I'm also tempted to buy one of those simply because they are a SUCH FUN to ride!)

Later, I'll tell the story about moving up in the motorcycle world without having to worry about the money factor. Come on back!

30 September 2011

Today Is A BIG Day!

September 30th.
I'm not going out on a limb to make a prediction here, but it'll be fun to see if it DOES happen...
Do you know what's special about 30 September?
It's the end of the fiscal year for the U.S. Government. That means there are a ton of agencies and offices that, finding themselves in a "Use it or lose it" situation with their alloted budgets, will spend that money, even if they don't necessarily need to. ( I once watched as the U.S. Army spent a literal fortune sprucing up a military base that was scheduled for shutdown and return to the local economy, rather than lose that money and face the possibility of a lower allocated budget for the next year. Sadly, this is just the way our government works.)

So tomorrow is $$$$$$ day. I cringe when I think about how much taxpayer money will be wasted. But don't be dismayed Bunky... THERE IS a silver lining.
Smart democrats must be shaking in their boots right now, imagining the political ads they'll be facing in just a year. Solyndra has exploded in their face and will only get worse for dems as time passes. Now we find there are at least two more possible Solyndras out there, and this is "use it or lose it" money, so these two companies may have had the same amount of scrutiny as was given to Solyndra before that half-a-billion dollar subsidy was poured down the sewer. These two companies don't even have to go bust to hurt dems pretty dramatically...
They can hurt dems re-election prospects simply by not proving to be "The future of American industry", which I suspect is the way this will play out. Solar power is a VERY competitive global industry. What are the chances these two companies have a truly radical idea to reduce costs so "made in America" will once again be a big deal?

So this money will be spent tomorrow and dem pols cannot stop it...
it's "already allocated"... or in other words, in the pipeline.

But lots of eyes will be watching these, and other companies that got government handouts on 30 September. When the true reporting starts, I'll wager we'll all be stunned at how much this "spend our way out of debt" administration wasted on risky businesses they should never have had a hand in.

Anyone want to accept my wager?

26 September 2011


Maxine Waters, Andre Carson, and now Morgan Freeman have called me racist because I want government to stop spending money it doesn't have.
I guess I don't understand the full definition of the word.

I thought the oceans would stop rising. I thought we were the ones we have been waiting for. I thought electing a half-white man would cause us to look more closely at "the content of a man's character". Have you seen some of the things these liberal{!} idiots are saying about Herman Cain? (Who I am thoroughly impressed with at this point.)
Oddly, Martin Luther King's character seems to be under question these days!

I didn't vote for him, but I truly hoped BOzo's election would lead to a more unified nation.
Man, was I naive!

(Seen the latest catchy acronym? OMG!... Obama Must Go!)

19 September 2011

Hotel, Saloon, Brothel. Hotel, Saloon, Brothel...

We just returned from a weekend spent at The Riverboat Inn in Madison, Indiana, once again sharing time with my schoolmates from High School. The hotel is quaint, clean, has a great view of traffic moving up and down the Ohio River, and the help does a pretty decent job of making everyone feel like occupants are all part of one big family...
Fresh baked cookies coming out of the oven at almost all hours and the coffee pot is never empty.

Saturday morning, twenty or so of us boarded a trolley for a tour of the city. It's a neat town, obviously situated there because of the river and the trade coming from that line of communication. Something the tour-guide said set my "light bulb" off...
She commented how streets in Madison, in the old days, seemed to be lined with "A Hotel, a saloon, a brothel, a hotel, a saloon, a brothel..."
This statement, seemingly, was made with some pride. It made me think of the town I presently live in and how folks here speak with pride about the gritty things that happened long ago near our downtown hotel, adjacent to our railroad, our comparable line of communication.

What is it about the passage of time that makes a sordid past something to be proud of?
("Frankie and Johnny" and "Stagger Lee" are both songs/stories of passion and murder from St. Louis, and illustrate what I mean about pride in our "colorful" history.)

15 September 2011

On Two Wheels, Part 1

I drove to work tonight because it was raining, HARD. It's the first time I've had to drive a steel cage to work in over a month. My round-trip to/from work is +-70 miles, depending on the route I take, and I figure I save at least $4 per round trip by riding, depending on which bike I happen to ride on a given night. My seven-night work shift also means I can exercise each of the four bikes at least once in a shift, weather permitting. All four have full-fairings and provide pretty good protection from the wind. My head sticks up higher than the windscreen on the Moto Guzzi and BMW, so I have to put my faceshield down if I'm caught in a rainshower on those machines.

I started riding "bikes" with motors when I was twelve. At that time our community was pretty rural and the county was geographically fairly large, so I suspect our Sheriff's department was stretched thin... we didn't often see a brown and beige Sheriff's cruiser, and we saw even fewer State Troopers. Those I did see seemed to ignore me... I think stopping us might have required calling out someone to deal with Juvenile offenders, and already overworked Deputies probably said, "I don't need the hassle". For four years I rode a Cushman Scooter similar to, (but not as nice 'cause it was OLD and WELL-USED), the one pictured above. It would go 35 miles per hour at full-throttle with a good tailwind, so although I have no idea how far I drove that thing, with daytime-only riding, nine or so months per year, I MAY have put 1000 miles on it in four years.

It was dependable. In addition to flitting around the neighborhood I used it to deliver "The Indianapolis News" to my customers for a couple years. Powered by a five horsepower Cushman Husky engine, it would start on the first kick when it was warmed up. Cold starting took two or three kicks with the help of full-choke. It had a centrifugal clutch... it was like an automatic transmission... there was no manual clutch to deal with. It would sit motionless until you increased the throttle. If you added throttle, (and you added throttle in the opposite direction of today's motorcycles), two spring loaded "shoes" attached to the end of the engine's crankshaft would be pushed by centrifugal force against the inside of a drum similar to a brake drum and the scooter would accelerate slightly faster than a turtle.

At the time many of our roads were barely "improved", meaning they were gravel-covered and graded whenever the county could get to 'em. These roads were traveled infrequently, and automobile wheels would cause gravel to be pushed aside so that there were two "paths" with very little gravel and a lane of gravel in the center in addition to the the sides of the "paths". Tiny wheels on scooters didn't negotiate these gravel roads very well... crossing from one path to another or meeting a car and being forced to the side of the road was like balancing on marbles.

Take a close look at the picture and you can see a little pedal on the right side of the floorboard. That's the rear (drum, of course) brake pedal. No speedometer/odometer. No tachometer.
Look again at the handlebars... no levers. Not only was there NOT a manual clutch, there was also NOT a front brake. It's a very good thing these little scoots would only go 35 or so, 'cause with only one (rear) brake they took a long time to stop, even from that sedate speed. Trying to stop quickly on rain-soaked pavement was an invitation to possible disaster.

I paid $50 for it with money I had earned on my paper route. I sold it to a friend for 50 dollars just before I turned sixteen when I started contemplating buying my first REAL motorcycle.

Looking back now through the eyes of a Dad, I'm surprised parents allowed teen-age kids in our community, (and in my case a PRE-teen), to ride a motor vehicle on public roads.
Strange feelings...
I wouldn't have allowed my kid to do it, but my son was 12 in 1995, and 1995 sure as heck wasn't 1959! But I have fond memories of riding that old "putt-putt", and I'm sure glad my parents didn't stop me.

I'll write about that first (and other) real motorcycle(s) later.

09 September 2011

Man, Would I LOVE To See That!

After the big speech Thursday night, even libs are beginning to question BOzo's intelligence.
No surprise to me... he's done nothing in his life of note except fool the fools.
Palin is smarter than he is. She had her facts straight on Paul Revere and made idiots of those trying to ridicule her. Obama's "Lincoln founded the republican party" comment? Dead wrong. Call the "Corpseman"!

But I bet she's a better athlete too.
I would just LOVE to see her take him on one-on-one in a game of B-Ball.
Sarah Barracuda Vs. BOzo!
Who are you betting on?

Where's a promoter when you want one?!!

The only thing more stupid than the present occupant of our White House is our media, thinking we won't notice when they try to erase his gaffes.

06 September 2011

6 September 1986

I had been out of work 8 months. My unemployment checks had ceased and my "networking" to find another flying job in the area had apparently failed. What was I gonna do? How would I pay the bills?
In the distance, I could hear the proverbial howling of the wolves.

The phone rang. It was my friend J.M....
"You still looking for a job? I need you. How soon can you start?"

There have been mergers and acquisitions, so my paychecks have had three different signatures on them. But today I'm celebrating 25 years flying as an EMS helicopter pilot.
What a long, strange trip it's been!

05 September 2011

Will You Watch The "Jobs" Speech?

Fred Imus, (Don's younger brother), died a few days back. His appearances on the "Imus in the Morning" show always put a smile on my face. I TIVO the show and fast forward through most of it, slowing only for a few political interviews and Fred's now-and-then bits.
Just after BOzo's State of the Union address Don asked Fred if he had watched the speech. Fred replied he watched long enough to realize Obama didn't intend to resign, then switched the channel.
That's pretty much how I intend to handle Thursday's speech. I'll watch long enough to see which political factor will be furious by the end, then I'll start looking for a documentary somewhere on the WWII Lancaster bomber or an old "Honeymooner's" episode.
If there truly is a bombshell, (HA!), I'll catch it later on FOX News.

Are you gonna watch?

02 September 2011

Work. Off. Work. Off. Work

I'm at work. I work 12 hour shifts from 7 P.M. until 7 A.M., seven nights in a row. My shift starts Wednesday evening, so the following Tuesday night is the last night of my shift and I'm headed home for seven days in a row on Wednesday morning.
The four pilots at this base have a sort of love/hate sentiment about working this schedule...

We don't need to take much vacation because of the seven day break every other week. But stress factors involved with the job can make this schedule tough-
More flights than normal or other work stresses, and we can begin to feel a little draggy by the sixth or seventh night of our workweek.

Our company doesn't care about our schedule so long as the work gets done safe and efficiently. We've tried other schedules and the four pilots at this base have decided we like this one best.

Our schedule, no matter whether it is four-on, four-off or seven-on, seven-off means we all spend a quarter of our lives at work, not counting extra days covering for someone bein' sick, and vacations. So we all work a couple hours more than the normal wage-earner out there who works 40 hours per week:
There are 268 hours in a week (7X24). 268 divided by .25, (the 1/4 of our lives we spend in the air or waiting for the call to go fly, equals 42 hours (average, obviously).

Summer is harder than Winter. Our clientele are more active and are more likely to need our services. Weather is generally more conducive to aviating. Inclement Winter weather can sit on you for days at a time, and it's then that we frequently E.M.S.-
Earn Money Sleeping.

This summer has been stressful for another reason-
It has been hotter than normal and that puts added stress on people and machines. We had record high temps today (102 or so) and the forecast is for similar weather tomorrow. I had difficulty sleeping today because my upstairs bedroom was too warm. Still, I was glad I wasn't here at work waiting on a call to go take off in a "flying greenhouse" in above 100 degree temps.
(My counterpart didn't get a call today so the helicopter was still sitting where I left it last night when I parked it.)

It's an interesting job, different in almost all ways from the way most folks make a living...
And interesting almost every day because of the many ways people find to hurt themselves.
I love it. And I'll miss it like crazy when I can no longer do it.
And that day may be just around the corner.