21 December 2020

Another "Dad" Memory-

My Mother raised me.
Dad was there, in the background.
He provided. He presented an example. But he was aloof.
I always thought losing Mom would be hardest.
I was wrong.

I woke in the wee hours to a mechanical sound I knew was trouble. It was VERY cold outside, and our furnace was making strange mechanical noises. Snug in my bed, I could feel the temperature in the house begin to drop.
I heard Dad get out of bed and walk past my bedroom, then out the back door. I knew where he was going. Our garage with all the tools was detached.
Soon I heard the back door open, then the sound of the tool bag being dropped on the floor of the utility room. "Clink, clunk, clank"... the sound of tools being manipulated resounded through the getting-colder night air.
And then the furnace came back on, making normal furnace sounds.
And the room warmed.
And Dad went back to bed, to catch a few more Z's before he had to get up and go to work.
Roof overhead. Food on the table. Comforting warmth.
To provide.

We had a very strained relationship until I was drafted and left home.
We never got as close as I would have liked. He was too Macho for that.
But we did get closer.
And I thank God every day for that.

07 December 2020

My Dad-
WWII Veteran and Purple Heart recipient, would have been 99 today.

02 December 2020

Life Throws A Curveball

I HAAAAAAAATE talking on the phone. I use mine as a tool, NOT a social device.
I tell that to all my friends.
Few listen. I let them talk to the machine.

He'd call. He'd be drunk. He wanted to talk. He needed me to listen.
I got to the point when I saw his number on my phone I'd let his go to voicemail.
Eventually, he'd call Sara Jean.
She LIKES to talk on the phone.
It was a heaven-sent match. They'd talk, (he'd talk, she'd listen, with an uh-huh inserted now and then), for HOURS.

We've known him a long time. He's had a strange upbringing. His life is... let's kindly say "unorganized".
Money is not a difficulty, but it may be a problem-
The problem is that he doesn't have to worry about it.

He's out of work. He wants to work in the discipline he has trained for.
Those jobs are scarce. He's been unemployed for, let's just say a LONG time.

So he sits alone in his beautiful home, with his beautiful car in the garage and he drinks.
And he calls my wife. And she, thank God, listens to him.
For hours.

In Arizona, we were looking forward to coming home so we could get face-to-face with him-
Go out to eat. Engage in other activities to distract him from the problems in his life.
He was excited. Told us he loved us both. He began to plan activities for our return.

And then I got the call from his Mother.
He's dead.
Morbidly obese. Heart attack.
We are crushed.

Yeah, life is not fair.
Make the most of yours.

26 November 2020

A Wonderful Life!

 It's one of our traditions.
We watch "It's a Wonderful Life" during our Holidays.
Great story.
Great acting.
And Donna Reed, (she misspelled her name) is certainly "Eye candy".
I hope your day is as satisfying as ours.

25 November 2020


LARGE Monolith found by helicopter pilot in our kitchen.
Investigations continue. Stay tuned.


21 November 2020

Mayday, Mayday!

Our government is corrupt.
Our Court System is corrupt.
Our Law Enforcement, at the management level, is corrupt.
Our Vote? Meaningless.
Can someone explain to me how we now differ from Mexico?

18 November 2020


Happened upon Jimmy Fortune singing this on TV last night.
You may also get a little dust in your eyes-

15 November 2020

Irresponsible Youth

WSF's comment to the post immediately below sparked a memory:
I was headed home on leave before departing for Viet Nam, driving my '68 Olds 442, (Oldsmobile's version of the Pontiac GTO platform) on Interstate 65 between Louisville and Indianapolis.
Thinking about what the future held- FM radio blasting; dress uniform complete with medals and badges hanging on the hook behind the driver's seat.
And that was when the Plymouth GTX pulled alongside.
He looked my way. I looked his. And right feet hit the firewalls.

The big number on my 442's speedo was 120. But there was then a gap of about half an inch where the speedometer needle could continue it's journey.
I figure I was going about 130 when acceleration on my car really began to die off, and I watched as the big GTX showed me its ass.
I backed out of the throttle with a smile, wondering what engine that Dude had under the hood... 440? 426?

A few miles down the road the red flashing lights came on in my rearview mirror... Indiana State Police.
I pulled onto the right shoulder and wondered how much trouble I was in.
"License and registration, please sir."
He went back to his car. Most of ya know the situation.
Anxious anticipation.

He came back to my door and asked, "Where ya going, Lieutenant?"
He had noticed my uniform. I told him-
"Viet Nam. I just finished flight school. I'll be flying helicopters there in a month."
He lifted his ticket pad and wrote a few lines.
"I clocked you at 85 in the 70 back there. I'm gonna write you a warning."
Odd smile on his face.
He knew better. I knew better. He knew that I knew better.

"I have a son in the infantry over there right now.

And as he turned to walk away he momentarily turned back and asked,
"How bad did he beat ya?"

But he didn't wait for an answer.

14 November 2020

Monsters On Four Wheels

The GM/Ford/Chrysler horsepower race started in the early '60's.
"She's real fine my 409".
"....But parked in her rickety old garage is a brand-new, shiny red, Super Stock Dodge!"
"Hey little Cobra, don't ya know you're gonna shut 'em down?!"

Insurance companies had not yet awakened. Premium gasoline was $.35 per gallon.
And they drank it to the tune of 13 mpg, IF you were careful with your right foot.
But WOW... the sound! The feeling of being pressed into the seat.

Cars like the one in the video, (with just slightly less power), could be purchased at our local dealership.
Want a sense of that sound and fury?
Watch the video:

06 November 2020

Sad. Just Sad.

Am I different than everyone else?
When I am bored with the computer on my lap I poke around and check on people that once were important in my life...
Past associates.
High School class and schoolmates.
Old flames.
And ex wives.

I was doing that today. There are several old girlfriends I would LOVE to know what has happened in their lives since I last heard from them.
I've found a few.
Too few. The search goes on.

I've had two wives.
I cheated on the first and she didn't take kindly to that.

My second wife is wonderful... treats me like a King. After divorcing "the second-best wife I ever had" I was gunshy about remarrying and lived with my present wife 10 years before I finally figured out I wanted to keep her. My present wife resented the second-best wife I ever had BIGLY because of that.

Today I was bored and started doing what I always do when I'm bored.
I surfed around trying to find lost people from my past. And there it was-
Her obituary. Complete with photo and long narrative about what a dynamo she was.
She was a teacher. I have no doubt she was a damned good one. Some of the condolence notes rave about her.
I paid for her Master's degree in education. I'm glad my money improved our world.

It's still a gut punch.
Divorce is generally ugly. Ours certainly was.
I couldn't realize at the time that she was doing me a great favor.
And I'm oddly sad.

02 November 2020

The Times THEY Lived In

In 1948 my parents purchased a little home South of Indianapolis, Indiana.
It had two bedrooms and one bath, on a 1/4 acre lot.

Dad worked an 8 to 5 job.
Mom was a homemaker. She saw us off to school, and was home when we got off the school bus.
By today's standards, to say our home was "modest" would be understatement.
But our family never lacked essentials. We never went hungry. Dad would come home and read the conservative and liberal Indy newspapers until Mom had food on the table.
Then we would all gather and eat together.
What a concept.

Today's kids want the "3-bdrm, 2-1/2 bath" as their "starter" home.
That requires two wage earners if they're lucky.
Dad might have to work two jobs... maybe Mom too.
And that reality may bring a Nanny into the picture.
Is this "improvement"?
When we look around at the overall mental health of our Nation, are we happy with what we see?

If they're broadcast in your area, take a look at "Leave It To Beaver" reruns, but put Mrs. Cleaver in a housecoat or simple cotton dress and try to imagine the world I grew up in.
I know... it's nearly impossible.
Try anyway.

27 October 2020

The Times We Live In

It was when I met our mail carrier at our mail box that I noticed it-
A BIG puddle of bright red paint, reaching from the center of the road to the shoulder, immediately in front of our home.
"Yeah, I've seen several of those puddles along the way to get here", he said.
Tracks through the puddle indicated one car had already passed through. Fearful the paint would splash all over following car's bodywork, I pieced together sections of garden hose and tried to dissipate the puddle.
I was mostly successful, but remnants of the patch remained.
What would cause someone to dump blood-red paint in front of several homes along our road?
I called the Sheriff's Department.

"No, we've not had any other reports" said she, "but I'll call the City and see if they've had any."
I did some investigating on my own and found little spots of red paint on our side of the road, stretching half a mile West of us.

I've been very open about my political views. Was this done by someone marking republican homes in our area? The thought sent a chill down my spine.
Was the "trouble" I've been expecting about to begin? Did I need to get a long gun out of my safe and have it close at hand?
And so I thought about it all afternoon. Was there any OTHER explanation?

Four hours later I had my "Eureka" moment.
It was "trash pickup" day. I had pulled our trash can out for pickup the prior night. When the truck stopped to pick up our can, it apparently dripped the paint all over our side of the road and left spots of paint intermittently for at least half a mile West of us.
I sighed in relief, then picked up the phone again to report my thoughts to the Sheriff.
She laughed.
But it's a sign of how tense we all are in this political environment, isn't it?

I'm still preparing for trouble.

19 October 2020

Using A Loose Rein

I'd hear this sound walking past his room:
And it sounded as if spit had to be flying all over the room.
Peeking in the door I'd see my young son lying supine on his bed with his model of the "Enterprise D" held at arm's length, flying through space. Sometimes the Saucer Section would detach and go off on a mission separate from the main part of the spacecraft, then return and be re-attached. These maneuvers always required extra spitty sounds.

He watched "Star Trek, The Next Generation" religiously. Eventually, mostly to just have something in common with him, we started watching too.
The shows were well produced, well acted, and the stories stood alone even if you didn't particularly like SciFi.
He watched "Babylon 5". We watched "Battlestar Gallactica" together.
But he LOVED "Stargate, SG-1."

His schoolwork didn't mean much to him. His report cards showed his disinterest. And this made me angry enough once to literally jump up and down in the living room like a madman trying to get his attention devoted to getting his education.
But we never came down hard on him because of his TV watching.
Turns out, he WAS getting an education...
From the television.

His marks improved in college and he got a job immediately after graduation... with a company building a video game devoted to... Stargate SG-1.
He's a nationally-known expert on the movie and various Stargate series.
And his knowledge has earned him a living for years.

Now he has started a new venture; a podcast devoted to the show. And it is taking off.
It's exciting to see how many absolutely DEVOTED fans the show still has. In his first month now, his podcast audience has grown every week.

If you are a fan, or have any interest at all, give him a look.
And let me know what ya think.

10 October 2020

Living In Rural America

So often, I'm just not in the mood to contribute here.
Is that because I'm able to rant on the "Book of Feces", as my friend Larry calls it?
Some snippet thoughts, just to post a post:

I love our neighborhood.
My "Chicago born and raised" wife is having trouble with it.
Neighbor to the West has Chickens.
And a large mixed Standard Poodle dog.
He's a love.
The chickens come into our West side yard and rid us of bugs and worms.
One of the chickens is a rooster.
He is a FINE specimen, and knows it.

Neighbor two doors to the East has chickens AND ducks.
The ducks waddle across our property into our pond.
They're fun to watch.
The chickens and ducks wander over and eat stuff I wouldn't wanta eat from our West yard.
One of these chickens is a cock.

Neighbor immediately to our East has two Chihuahua dogs.
These dogs prefer our home to theirs.
The MOMENT we show signs we are awake, they are in our laps...
Until 2130 hours.
We LOVE the dogs.
But they constantly bark at the Standard Poodle mix who also runs free in our yard.
BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK all day long.
The poodle doesn't care.

At about 0430 hours, the rooster to the West decides it is time for the sun to rise.
When he crows, the rooster to the East tries to convince him the sun won't come up unless he summons it.
Back and forth, back and forth...
I've decided the sound IS NOT "Cock-a-Doodle-Do!".
It is "Er-a-Roo-Aroo".
Believe me, I've heard it enough to know now.

Yes, we have our windows open in this beautiful Fall weather.
But we pay a price.
Dogs bark.
Roosters crow.
And "Miss Chicago" complains about it all.
She's worse than all the critters.
God be with me.

I'll try to post more than once monthly.
But no promises.

08 September 2020

"Take a Chance On Me"

 I once read an article that suggested when we look into a mirror, the reflection we see is a face we want to see. We change our expression and turn our faces into the best light so we see what we want.

Our PBS station last week aired a bunch of programs about various cultures, concentrating mostly on music. I recorded documentaries and semi-docs about the "Stones", the "Who", Neil Diamond, Leon Russell, "Riverdance", and ABBA.

Last night I watched the ABBA program. Back in their prime I had a HUGE crush on Agnetha.
They showed Bjorn, Bennie, and Frida as they attended an anniversary showing of "Mama Mia".
Those kids have gotten so OLD! How is that possible?
When I look in the mirror I've aged very little.

I must be livin' right, huh?

07 September 2020

Reverse Mortgages

I got pulled in by "clickbait" that turned out to be a place for others to argue...
Tom Selleck is evil because apparently he's shilling for a company that wants to steal "seasoned citizen's" homes.
I have no intention of biting, but it sparked a question I've had for some time:
How does getting a reverse mortgage on my home differ fundamentally from refinancing it?

I've given considerable thought to refinancing our home, then using that "nest egg" money to either buy real estate, or precious metals, or both. I could then pay off the refinance over a period of years while holding the solid stuff in my hand, or enjoying a piece of property that hopefully will increase in value.

I don't know anything about reverse mortgages, obviously.
Are they a scam?

29 August 2020

Research Laziness-

 Depth perception and distance measurement are important to survival, not only to pilots, but to all creatures.

Our neighbor is raising ducks and chickens. She allows them to "free rein" during the day, and while grazing they spill over onto our property and beyond. Watching them today a question I've had for years again popped up:
With both our eyes facing forward, our depth perception is determined by the difference in information we get from eyes located a slight distance from one another on the front of our face.
Ducks, pigeons, etc. have their eyes on the sides of their heads. When they walk they move their heads in a back and forth fashion. I've always assumed they do this to get different perspectives about how far an object in their world is away from them.
Is that assumption mistaken?

21 August 2020

Guns, Unions, and Freedom

 I don't like Unions. Or should I say I GENERALLY don't like Unions?
After I graduated High School I joined one because it was a prerequisite to getting the job I wanted.
I joined another more recently when our employer refused to pay pilots time-and-a-half for overtime.
(Stupid employer. The company ended up losing more than just fair pay in that negotiation.)

I've been watching an "American Experience" episode on coal mining in West Virginia from just after the "Civil" war until just after WWI. It's a very interesting episode in the life of the country.
When the Governor of the State of West Virginia threatened to deport miners who were trying to unionize, those miners started buying guns and ammunition and fought back against coal company thugs and even the WV National Guard, and after a very bloody period, won their rights to a better life.

When idiots tell you that you're stupid to think you might need firearms to protect yourself against your government, ask them if they're aware of the "Paint Creek" and "Cabin Creek" uprisings in 1912 West Virginia.
Those "Union" men could not have succeeded if their 2nd Amendment rights had been infringed!

18 August 2020


Some years ago I took a substantial position in physical silver. Since then, the value of my stash has been up a little, down a little. And that's been fine with me. A major move in precious metals value may be an indication of coming economic trouble.
Last week, for a short while, the spot value of silver was nearly twice what I paid for mine. And I wonder-
Are people finally paying attention to what our government is doing to our deficit/national debt, and beginning to get the jitters about the value of the monopoly money we have in our wallets?
But silver is still at a reasonable price.
It might be time to buy some. (And I mean PHYSICAL silver that you can hold in your hand and put into your gun safe next to all that ammo you've been buying.)

God help us all.

15 August 2020

"New And Improved"

Four years ago our old TV gave up the ghost. In our little town the local TV repairman has retired.
I'm not at all sure anyone out there would have attempted a repair anyway.
Best Buy had a few on sale and we went and reviewed picture quality on those. We liked what we saw and bought a 55-inch Samsung 4K HD model.
"Would you like to purchase the extended warranty"?
Three years coverage... Too expensive for my taste. We declined.  

We've been VERY satisfied with the set until a few months ago when we started seeing a dark spot forming in a small portion of the screen. That spot quickly changed and became a bright spot that looks somewhat like viewing the sun through a moderate overcast.
No big deal.

But today we notice another "sun" beginning to appear about 12-inches and East of the original sun.
Is this the way things will progress with this appliance?
How many bright spots will we be able to tolerate?

A similar TV today can be purchased for less than $500.
So stay tuned.

13 August 2020


My wife likes to "cruise".
Me? I'm easy to please.
I'd be just as happy, (maybe even happier), to get in the car and point it to destinations with stuff I'm interested in... mostly historical sites.
We just spent three days in Vicksburg, Mississippi in a hotel overlooking the river there. I was mighty disappointed that many of the Civil War Museums there were closed to the public due to the Chinese virus. Nevertheless, I was edified to look at the terrain there and imagine General Grant trying to figure a way to take the city without getting his butt handed to him.

We had booked a cruise that was scheduled to depart Venice, Italy 10 October. Our gut has been telling us this trip wasn't gonna go because, 1- Venice ain't accepting tourists right now and,
2- The cruise lines are no doubt going to wait until they're more comfortable that this disease is under control.
Fine with us. We didn't want to get on the boat then have a bunch of folks test positive and have to be quarantined on the thing for an extended period of time.
Anyway, we were notified yesterday that the cruise was cancelled, and offered a list of options as to actions we could take now.

One of those options is to ask for a complete refund.
Another option is to leave that money with the line, take an upgrade in living quarters on the ship, or take a 125% credit to use toward a future cruise, booked before the end of the year to sail before the end of 2021. We took the 125% credit and booked a cruise similar to the one just cancelled that will depart Venice 20 April.

I'm trying to imagine how much the cruise lines are hurting. It's gotta be a HUGE financial hit.
Nevertheless, I'm a little miffed at the fact they've had several thousand of my dollars for a few months in their clutches, and offered no interest on it if I decided to take a full refund.
Oh well... they're not a bank, and banks ain't givin' crap for interest on money either.

So in April of '21 we hope to depart Venice and spend 11 days eating, relaxing, and visiting several Greek ports (and one in Turkey) before disembarking in Athens, Greece.
And this time I'll try not to compound fracture my right ankle on the cliff in Santorini!

03 August 2020

A Blur Of Black

It's true that time heals wounds. But WOW, three weeks later we still tear up at the loss.

She was a street find. We quickly realized she was easily trained. She was quiet, social, and gentle.
We were hers 14 years.
And losing her to cancer made me wonder- How do parents who lose children function at all?

We were blessed to share her life.
And we'll never forget our Lucy.

08 July 2020

The "Jiffy Lube" Saga

A couple years ago I wrote with some enthusiasm about how, being bored in retirement, I had found a possible part-time job I'd enjoy.
I had gone to "Jiffy Lube" to use a coupon to get a special price on an oil change. There was a "Help Wanted" sign prominently displayed on the front door.
The store manager there was a Viet Nam Veteran and we chatted. I asked about the employment situation and, since it was late in our Spring season in Arizona, inquired about the possibility of working at the store the following Fall. This manager was optimistic about my chances.
This store was within walking distance of our Winter residence, so I could leave the car in the garage in case Sara Jean needed it. And they were asking for part-time workers. I DID NOT want a full-time job.

When we returned to AZ in the Fall, one of the first things I did was go to the store and get an employment application. The new manager there gave me one. I filled it out and returned to the store with it the next day. This new guy told me I ought to hear something from company headquarters within a few days.
So I waited.
And waited.
And waited.

A couple weeks later I returned to the store to ask what was going on.
There, it was pretty obvious this new manager had taken a look at my application and work history, and wanted no part of me anywhere near his store. I was a little put off.
"Look", I said... "I'll do most anything... empty trash cans. Sweep the floor."
He nodded and said he'd pursue what was going on with my application.

But I knew there'd probably be no response to my employment request-
A 24 year old Jiffy Lube store manager does NOT want some 72 yr-old retired Army Major running around, looking over his shoulder.

Ain't that a shame?
I'da been great at that job.

03 July 2020


I think racing should promote improved technology- in performance, efficiency, and safety.
The rules should be written in such a way as to not stifle, but encourage change for the better.
When race teams try something innovative and it works, it'll soon be adopted by other teams; but only after those that first took the risk have been rewarded for their forward-thinking.
Technology that is too complicated, unreliable, or counterproductive, like the Tyrell Six-Wheeler shown above, will be pretty quickly abandoned.

Rules in racing today are being written to achieve parity in racing-
To equalize the teams for closer finishes, I suppose. And the sanctioning bodies have achieved that goal. In some races today, the winner can only be decided by looking at a photograph.
Some can only be decided by looking at electronic data.
I suppose there is SOME excitement in that. But I think I prefer watching a race where something new has been tried; for instance when there's a new performance-enhancing gadget on the track and there's a question as to whether it'll last long enough to cross the finish line first at the end of the race.

Rules today stifle that kind of risk taking.
And racing has become boring.

01 July 2020

Separated At Birth?

Avid watchers of "Downton Abbey", we didn't notice the similarity until we watched the Miniseries "Liar".

Do you see it too?

25 June 2020


I have family that have actually uttered the words of the title to my post:
"Stick it to 'The Man'!"
And they believe in that ideology.
To the degree I can, I have separated myself from that element of my family.

It set me to thinking about an "Association" that's in real trouble for a number of reasons today, not the least of which seems to be they have forgotten where their bread is buttered:

This "association" is just now beginning to allow fans to return to the stands to watch the performance of their "talent" on the track. The fact they want us to believe we're watching "stock cars" with Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota emblems on their hoods is a major pet-peeve of mine and will be the subject of a future post about how stupid the general public is.
But that's not the subject of this post.

This post is about last weekend's gathering in Talladega, Alabama.
Think about they money "the man" risked to make that race happen. Track owner. Promoters. Television coverage and their sponsors.  Concessionaires. Insurance providers. And (shudders)... attorneys...
HUGE amounts of money had to be spent in order for this event to happen on the scheduled date.
And contracts had to be written to cover all aspects of what happens IF it does not happen on the scheduled date... AND what happens if it runs on a later date... AND what happens if it doesn't happen at all.
That's a LOT of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

And what happened?
Mother Nature said, "Not so fast, Bubba", and rained on everyone's parade.
And everyone went to "Plan B".

The race DID happen a day late, after we all went through the heart-sinking thought that someone would be stupid enough to suggest lynching one of the drivers would have been a great idea if only we were still in the democrat-controlled post-Civil War years.
DAMN those garage door pull-ropes!

And we peons have absolutely NO idea what hoops "The Man" had to jump through to make the race happen a day late. (I still watched it, in its entirety, on FOX Sports. Bubba finished 13th, and when the FBI pointed out he should have just closed his garage door he insisted it was still a noose.)
I enjoyed the race, and thank "The Man" and everyone that was involved in pulling off that event.

But here's my point:
I've pointed out here many times that I'm not rich. I have enough income that my needs and the needs of my family are met. I have enough discretionary income left over that we can do "frilly" things like buy tickets to go see NASCAR races if we want.
But someone with a WHOLE LOT MORE MONEY needs to risk a BUNCH of money to make more money in order for me and my family to go watch Bubba finish 13th in a "Stock Car" race.
I have NO desire to stick it to that man. In fact I thank him and all the others that had to put their necks on the block in order to make that even happen.

I fear what I see going on in my country right now. I hope cooler, smarter heads will prevail.
In the meantime I'm cleaning, lubricating, and practicing.
You should too.

23 June 2020

Waste Management

We've been home from Phoenix three months now.
Due to retirement, our "home town" trash disposal folks punted our collection service to an out-of-town company.
Are their services more expensive? Of course.
Dealing with them has been a fiasco from the outset-
Three weeks after we arrived home they FINALLY brought out a receptacle for our trash. (And we had to pay a $50 charge for that.) We paid an initial quarterly fee to get them to start regular service.

Today we got another bill from them.
And it's for more than we were told. They've added a bunch of new fees...
Fuel Surcharge. Environmental adjustment fee.
We don't generate a lot of waste. It seems usury. And the company has NOT been responsive when we've called to deal with them.
So we just called and canceled their service. They'll pick up their receptacle in three weeks.

Our neighbors are all having similar experiences.
We WILL find another way to dispose of our waste in an environmentally friendly way. But I fear what we are gonna see, more and more, is a roadside that looks like the above photo.
And then? We'll all be paying someone to pick up our nasty roadsides with our tax dollars.

Some municipalities include trash pickup in services provided by taxes.
That sure seems to be a better way to keep our community litter-free.

18 June 2020

The Purple One

When you see some high-ranking soldier on TV with a "barn door" full of ribbons on his left breast, what do you look for?
For me, I first look for the purple one.
Medals on a military man's chest, by regulation, have a priority. Medals of valor rank first. The Purple Heart comes after them. But it will appear in line BEFORE medals of merit and campaign medals.
Thank Goodness, my search of our warrior's chests for the purple one is almost always fruitless.

Today at Wally World I saw him again. I'd seen him a couple weeks ago, wearing his "Purple Heart" baseball cap, and wanted to approach and, these days of "stolen valor", challenge him about it.
At that time I was in a bit of a rush, so I let it go.
Today? I had the time and the inclination.

I walked up to him, pointed to his cap, and said "I got one of those too. Where'd you get yours?"
"Phu Loi", he replied.
And a half hour of conversation ensued.

He was an Army medic. His whole Viet Nam tour was spent in the South of the country, from the outskirts of Saigon clear over to the Cambodian border.
He was the genuine article. And I thanked him for the job he did.

Hearing I was a helicopter jock he made the same statement I have heard a thousand times:
"You guys saved our asses SO often. Thank you."
To which I related the fact that my job in Viet Nam was to use the helicopter to kill people, and when I came home I used the machine to save people's lives.
We both smiled.

He talked about watching us fire the mini-gun at night... about what an awesome sight that was...
How counting bodies after the gunships had done their thing was like walking through a Civil War battlefield.
I said, "I have no idea how many people I killed during my tour."
He said, "You have no idea how many of US you saved."

And as always, the tears came.

07 June 2020

"Dream Sheets"

I've used that photo in this blog before. It's a Bell UH1-C model similar to the one I flew in Viet Nam. I LOVED the old bird. Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars didn't. Oh well...
They were Marxist/Socialist/Communist/democrats. 

About halfway through my tour of sunny Southeast Asia in 1969 I realized I needed to have a hand in planning my future. At the time the ARMY had a form we called a "Dream Sheet" that you could fill out and specify what YOU would like to happen to your life in your future career efforts. By this time in my ARMY life I had figured out that if I could figure out that if what the ARMY needed could coincide with what I wanted to happen, I had a pretty good chance of actually succeeding in guiding my life. So I filled out the form and said I wanted-
1. To go back to Savannah, GA to be an instructor at Hunter Army Airfield there.
2. To go to Germany to join a helicopter unit there, or
3. Go to Ft. Knox and fill whatever helicopter Command job the ARMY needed.

A couple months before my DEROS- (Date to return from overseas service), I got orders assigning me to Hunter AAF in Savannah, GA.
There, I successfully graduated from the ARMY's "Method of Instruction" school and became an instructor, teaching Vietnamese Air Cadets how to fly the Bell UH1 Huey helicopter.
My assignment there lasted from November of 1969 until August of 1972.
To quote a phrase from the Brad Pitt movie "Fury", it was "The Best Job I Ever Had!"

While you're living your life you are too close to it to be objective.
I had survived my Viet Nam experience.
I was a 22-yr old Captain in the ARMY making more than enough money to keep a smile on my face.
I was flying a machine that by this time I was "putting on" like an old pair of house-slippers.
And I was doing a job that obviously was necessary to help my country.
It took 14 years until I found another job that gave me that kind of satisfaction-
Flying an EMS helicopter.

Memories of Savannah make me smile.
Chatting with others I realize how fortunate I am to have 'em.
Now? I'd like to make some more just like those.

04 June 2020

The Apollo Missions

We're coming up on the 21st anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. In Viet Nam when our team landed there, I looked up at the moon in awe and felt pride that I was defending a country that could accomplish such a feat.
We've just experienced the first "commercial" launch of a vehicle taking men into space to rendezvous with the International Space Station.

If you, like me, have an avid interest in history and how it relates to our lives today, I think you'll enjoy Bill Whittle's four-part series on how we... the USA, won the "Space Race" and got to the moon.
Click on the link above to see Part One.

I hope you enjoy the series as much as I did.

31 May 2020

"Respect My Authoritah !"

I've been a cop.
It's a lousy job.
While I wore a badge I mostly flew a helicopter above the guys down there doin' the dirty work.
And I was glad I wasn't down there with 'em.
Cops are now, for all intents, front-line soldiers.
And I'm amazed that anyone wants to do the job these days, considering the compensation they get.
If we continue to treat them as we are, I fear NO ONE will want to do the job.
And then... where will we be?

We live in interesting times.

22 May 2020

Grasshopping ?

Since we "Covidians" were trapped in Arizona an additonal three weeks, we came home to find grass in our yard high enough to hide small prey AND predators. Thank goodness we have a machine to handle that problem. Similar to the photo above, it mows a 60-inch swath at 7mph.
Damn the small prey... full speed ahead!

Waking the machine from nearly five months of slumber was surprisingly easy. After bringing the battery up to full charge I attacked my foe. Clippings FLEW for 20 minutes, then it ran out of gas.
WTH? I had checked fuel and oil levels before engaging the starter key.
Fuel cap off... yep, almost full. I mount back up and crank a while, exercising both throttle and choke levers. No dice.
Scratch head. Yeah I know... that never does much good.
Go get an adult beverage to allow for the "Eureka" moment to come upon me.

Back to the subject at hand I mount up and try again...
It starts instantly! I knock down grass that goats and cattle would be delighted with for another 10 minutes until once again... it "runs out of gas".

I'm no genius in this situation, but I know infernal combustion engines need O2, fuel, compression, and the ability to eliminate their waste. And I know how REAL mechanics would attack this problem-
They'd start replacing the cheap stuff and work though the more expensive as necessary.

I take off the fuel filter. It has an opaque outer cover, so it's not easy to tell if it's moving fuel.
"AutoZone" fixes me up with a new one for $8.99. The new one has a clear shell.
Mount up again... it starts instantly.
I mow for 15 minutes or so and it "runs out of gas".
Of course I'm dismayed. I wanted this to be easy. That never seems to be how it works for me.

Right at Close of Business time I call the Pro and I'm pleased when he answers. I give him the symptoms and tell him what I've done so far.
"I've cleaned the air filter; checked all the fuel lines for obstructions. I changed the fuel filter. I loosened the gas cap in case that vent is clogged."
"Sounds like your fuel pump" says he. "They go bad on those Kohler engines after a few years."
Crap. I'm tired and fuzzed.
I don't think I can do that, so that probably means he'll need to come and get this thing. That means $$$$$$.

He says, "We're COVERED UP right now and it will take several days for us to get to your machine."
Yeah, it's Spring. That stands to reason.
"You can do this. The fuel pump is on the side of the engine. There are three lines coming into it..."
And at this point I realize I'm gonna have to do without my mower for a week... maybe more.
I stop listening to his instructions. The forlorn looking mower sits idly in our side yard all evening.

Freshened by a good night's sleep I awaken and have a cuppa. The light bulb goes off-
Into the search block I put the magic words "18 horsepower Kohler fuel pump replace".
And VOILA! There it is. Like the man said, it has three lines coming into it. Two bolts hold it in place on the side of the engine.

I grab tools and attack the slumbering monster. The possibly faulty pump is in my hand in 10 minutes. My mentor sells me a new one for $28. My machine is once again whole in another ten minutes.

THERE! I mount up and twist the key.
The engine spins. And spins. And spins, but doesn't fire.
My hopeful heart sinks. I start my diagnosing process all over again.
I pull the line coming out of the pump to the carburetor and crank the engine. Fuel SHOULD spurt out.
Is this new pump faulty? Possible, but not bloody likely.

In desperation I decide to try something that seemingly makes no sense at all-
I take off the gas cap and give the fuel tank a "blow job", pressuring fuel through the system.
I hear fuel squirt into the fuel filter.

Back in the command seat.
Turn the key.
INSTANT start. Runs like a top!

And, thanks to "YouTube", I feel like I've gotten away with murder.

21 May 2020

Hitting the Barn Door

Some years ago one of my active Law Enforcement buddies showed me the backup firearm he'd just purchased. That's it shown above... a 9mm "Keltech". It just slightly larger than the palm of my hand, and impressed me as a good concealed carry piece.  So I bought one.
Took it out to the range and fired two magazines through it. The little S.O.B. is uncomfortable to fire, and at the end of the second magazine I was literally missing the entire target with some of my rounds. (I was tired that afternoon and probably shouldn't have even been on the range.)
That was two years ago. I haven't fired it since.

I've been thinking about it this week. It's time to get back on the horse.
I'm going to grab it and figure out what I'm doing wrong.
I'll let ya know.

15 May 2020

When The Gullible Awaken-

More and more, it looks as if a tremendous FRAUD has been perpetrated on the American People. And I've been amazed at how many of my "intelligent" friends and loved ones have fallen for it.
But there IS a silver lining here, in spite of the fact it may take DECADES to recover from the damage done due to our naivete.
And it is this:
The real truth is beginning to surface.
This fiasco was forced upon us to kill the best economy the country had experienced... certainly since the end of WWII, and maybe EVER.
Evil-doers succeeded in that mission.
But they didn't consider that there is now plenty of time for scales to fall from eyes.
And when that happens, even the presently ignorant will be angry.
And there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth in political halls.
In November... REMEMBER.

12 May 2020

Hong Kong Flu

In 1968-69 our nation lost 164,000 population adjusted lives to Hong Kong Flu.
We didn't panic.
We didn't destroy our economy.
Obviously, we weren't as smart then as we are now.

11 May 2020

Duty. Honor. Country.

Whittle's generalization, analyzing this Lt. General Flynn fiasco:

"When you're dealing with military personnel, with very, very few exceptions; and I can't think of any right off the top of my head, their personal sense of honor, integrity, and above all, patriotism,
their love of country, is not just their primary characteristic.
That is what their SOULS are constructed of."

If you don't know Bill Whittle, go to "YouTube" and GET TO KNOW Bill Whittle.
I think he had no personal military experience.
But he sure seems to have his finger on MY pulse.

09 May 2020

I Touch Myself

"Don't touch your face. Wash your hands frequently. Stay six feet away from others."
Yeah. Sure.

Are you paying closer attention to how often you break these "rules" now?
I am.
And I'm watching on TV the people insisting we follow these rules closely.

They don't follow their own commands.
So... wash your hands. A LOT.

08 May 2020

Submission Urination

We've owned two male Dachshunds.
Both, when greeting you for the first time, would roll onto their backs and when you reached to pet them, urinate on you.

Seems lots of people are rolling onto their backs and submitting to unconstitutional government edicts these days.
I guess we should just be pleased they're not urinating on us.

30 April 2020

Another Milestone

It went by without my notice.
My first post here was published 26Apr05.
So I've now been blogging here 15 years.
Yes, FaceBook has made a dent.
But when I want to express myself in detail, I still do it here.

Fifteen years...
That's a lotta water 'neath the bridge.

28 April 2020

Tribute Bands

 In Branson, MO last year we saw tributes to ABBA, Elvis, and the Temptations. (The Temptations group had a couple guys that actually sang with the original group.)
In Destin, FL in the Fall, we saw wonderful acts playing songs made popular by the BeeGees and Chicago.
And it made me think-
"Journey" is still touring.
There's a fabulous Filipino singer out front that sounds more like Steve Perry than Steve Perry. Some of the original backup players now performing are not from the original group. So the question:
Isn't the present "Journey" group now a "Tribute Band" for all intents?

Rock and roll is here to stay, I know that very well!

26 April 2020

"What's That?"

Pointing under our coffee table she exclaimed, "WHAT'S THAT"?

It was moving, slowly. I had no trouble identifying it... a spider, about the size of a U.S. quarter dollar.
She immediately reached for a slipper to squish it.

"Don't do that!" I shouted...
"I'll take care of it."

I got up, got a wine glass, and covered him/her.
And we finished watching an episode of "Twilight Zone" and two episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" on "MeTV".
I then got a stout piece of printer paper, slid it 'neath the glass, and carried glass, paper, and spider outdoors where she/he belonged.

One of God's amazing inventions, I've always been fascinated with spiders and snakes.
And yes, they have a place in our world.
That place is... out of doors.

Sara Jean thinks I'm crazy.
I wonder what God thinks?

13 April 2020


Five episodes, each about an hour long.
And I'll have trouble describing how excellent I think it is.

We couldn't help thinking about comparisons to the Covid-19 situation we find ourselves in:
"Is our government handling this competently? Are we being lied to? Are they using this to consolidate their power to further control us?"

Anyone with an interest in the Chernobyl disaster probably knows most of the "big pieces" shown in this mini-series. But for me, there were several details that were illuminating. Most of us cannot fathom how many people were impacted, how much geography, and how far into the future this catastrophe will reach.

If you have any interest, and have access to the series, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

11 April 2020


I like bread. 
I love it fresh out of the oven, still warm, so the REAL BUTTER melts on it.
For a guy who's "height challenged" with newly diagnosed blood glucose issues, that's a problem.

Years ago, Mother bought us one of those bread makers.
You add all the ingredients and turn it on. It mixes, kneads, and bakes automatically. When it BEEPS you have a one-pound loaf to spread butter on. (Don't forget to remove the little stirring thingy from the bottom of the loaf as Mother did, or your machine becomes useless.)

With my weight/cholesterol/glucose troubles we realized the bread maker had to be retired.
So it is now gathering dust out in the utility room next to some of the other "gadget" appliances we have acquired along the way. (Why did we ever think we'd make regular use of that thing that makes a sort of frozen yogurt out of fruits?)

I miss bread and butter.
Life is cruel.

09 April 2020

Losing My Medical Certificate?

A little over a year ago I registered with the VA because of my Agent Orange exposure in Viet Nam.
I don't think my exposure to the chemical was serious, but who knows? So, "just in case", I threw my name into the pool. Little did I know the machinery I was setting in motion!

I was called in for lab work.
Not extensive stuff... just height, weight, blood pressure, a couple vials of blood, pee in the bottle, and a consult with a Doctor.
My blood pressure was slightly elevated. My blood glucose number was through the roof.
I was diagnosed as diabetic.
The Doc prescribed several medicines. I'm now using one of those pill dispensers I used to see "old" people using. Mine has a little cubby for Sunday through Saturday and AM/PM.
It takes me about 20 minutes to sort the meds and the food supplements I also use into the dispenser.
What a pain.

So time rolls on and I go see my Flight Surgeon to renew my med certificate.
Like the honest trooper I am, I listed in detail the pharmaceuticals and dosages my VA Doc prescribed.

A month or so ago I got a letter from the FAA:
"So you're taking Terazosin, Oxybutinin, and Metformin, huh? How nice! Maybe we'll deny your medical. Have your Doctor type up a detailed letter telling us more about why you need this stuff."

The FAA, like virtually every bureaucracy on earth, has resorted to a phone system manned by machines: "Press one to not be disconnected", etc.
I spent half an hour waiting to speak with a live human, then got disconnected.
When I called back I was informed the office was closed and I should "call back during business hours".

Next day, after another half-hour wait, I did speak with a live person and got a 30-day extension so I can get back home to work with my VA Doctor about clearing this up...
IF we can clear this up.

The idea of losing my medical certificate when I feel great and want to get out and do some more teaching?

This getting old is frustrating.

07 April 2020


I enjoy podcasts.
While we're suffering like caged animals, they can  be entertaining and informative.
I became aware of Bill Whittle back in 2005 when he was writing a weblog.
He's a pilot. He's clued in to what's going on in the world.

I wish he'd run for president in 2024.
Spend an hour watching the above video and see if you don't emerge agreeing with me.

02 April 2020

"You might think I'm crazy"... The Cars

And if you do, skip this one.
I'm always trying to "think ahead of the aircraft".
And that attitude has been a positive effect my entire life.

There's a little old lady lives just down the street from us.
She's about 80, cute; in good health, and she's smart enough to maintain her distance from us when we stop to converse.
After a conversation with her the other night I was "thinking ahead".
... If I'm a guy with a family and kids, and my kids get hungry... and there's nothin' but dust in my wallet, what am I gonna do?
Initially I'll try to find help that's available.
Government will be handing out goodies.
If I belong to a Church, they might help.
Good Samaritan neighbors might also work together.
But if this thing lasts a long time, those venues might start drying up.
Then what?

I don't know about you, but if my kids are crying and hungry, I'm gonna find A WAY.
And little old ladies in reasonably affluent neighborhoods might just be an attractive target.
I hope she is prepared. Next time we chat with her, although I hate to do it, I may scare her just a little bit.

You don't need to be scared.
Remember the mantra:
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

30 March 2020

"Bad Boys, Bad Boys..."

Compared to others, maybe I've had a strange life.
I've worked at MANY jobs.
Being a Deputy Sheriff was one of 'em.

Now, don't get me wrong-
I spent virtually all the time I wore that badge in a helicopter flying overhead, mostly at night, providing "Night Sun" services to my guys on the ground who were actually doing the "dirty" police work. I continually marveled at how patient my fellow Officers on the ground were, dealing with society's "nasty underbelly".

Here in Phoenix, Arizona last night, a 32-year Veteran of the Police Force was shot and killed. Certainly, he had to be approaching retirement. Another Officer was wounded in the same attack and thank GOD will likely recover.

I was a helicopter pilot in Viet Nam.
Before that, I trained to be a "11B Light Weapons Infantryman".

Knowing what I know now, I'd MUCH rather be flying a helicopter over enemy troops or walking patrol as an infantryman, than be a Cop in today's world.

They are "Front-Line Defense Soldiers" in today's environment.
And it's a scary nasty job.
I'm surprised anyone wants to do it these days.

When you see a Cop, thank him/her.
If you can... buy 'em breakfast/lunch/dinner, as we do.

25 March 2020


The sun is out. Our windows are open and we have ceiling and floor fans moving air.
It's PHOENIX for heaven's sake! And this "disease" makes us glad we are here for another reason.

Arizona is now one of the States suffering from few cases of the outbreak. I think at this writing there are less than ten folks identified with it, and no deaths so far.
We can't eat indoors in restaurants, but they are all still open so we are trying to throw money their way in appreciation of their suffering.
We DO NOT want the restaurants within walking distance to shutter their doors.

We had planned on flying home Monday. Word came today that won't be happening. The flight has been canceled. We are grateful for the extension on tax filing because that was the main reason we needed to be home.
We're just worried about our neighbors looking at our grass growing, wondering if they should call a local farmer to turn his cattle loose on our pasture.

We are blessed.
But we are at "WAR".
And we are now searching for ways to help those around us that are not so fortunate as we.
We've been overseas so we  CANNOT give blood, though we'd love to.
I think the TRUMP administration should illuminate what people can do to help others from the safety of their homes.

So, for tonight, I think we'll get takeout from Olive Garden.
Yes... I'd like parmesan on my salad, please.
And LOTS of it.

20 March 2020

Helicopter Air-To-Air Combat!

The MAIN mission for Army Helicopter Gunship pilots is to provide Close Air Support to the guys doing the dirty, actual work in Viet Nam; the "grunts". If they encountered serious resistance, they could shout for us. We'd come out and identify where they were, and where the resistance was coming from, and try to help them move on with their mission by eliminating that resistance.
To help them more efficiently accomplish their mission we'd frequently move a team of gunships to a safe harbor somewhat close to where they were doing their job so we could more quickly react to their needs.

One of the "safe" places we frequently re-positioned to was a little artillery base called "Polei Kleng".
This base was located about halfway between the city of Kontum, Viet Nam, and the border with Cambodia. It was VERY mountainous territory. In the valleys, the "elephant grass" grew so tall that when we inserted infantry troops into it they were simply swallowed whole... and I always wondered how in the world we'd ever be able to come back and recover them if that was necessary.

It was a scary place to fly. Our old "Charley Model" Hueys would not hover when we filled them with fuel and ordnance to do our mission. Our takeoffs were always done like airplanes...
Scooting along the ground until we were going fast enough for the rotor to reach out into the "clean" air necessary to lift all that weight. This was called a "running takeoff".
But we had a job to do, so we did it.

One day we got a call from an Air Traffic Controller-
"Almost nightly we've been watching a "primary" target come across the border from Cambodia and land just West of you. It's GOT to be a helicopter! Would you be interested in trying to shoot it down?"

Imagine the headlines.
Imagine the textbooks:
"First Air-to-Air helicopter combat in history!"
Were we excited? Were we all smiling?
Our faces HURT in anticipation.

So here was the plan-
ATC would call us when the "suspect" target appeared on their screen flying Eastbound. We would launch as quickly as possible on a Westerly heading. They would then guide us to the location of the "enemy" aircraft and as it reappeared on their radar after takeoff we would turn it into a ball of flames.
It would be... EPIC.

So we waited at Polei Kleng until the call came from ATC, right at dusk.
We launched in three minutes and headed West as fast as we could go.
From ATC: "He's just landing, about 10 miles West of you".
We couldn't see him, but knew we were eating up the miles between us as he offloaded whatever it was he was carrying into Viet Nam.

Again, from ATC: "Okay, he's back airborne, about two miles from your flight path."
And we're thinking, "We've got this S.O.B.!"
We still couldn't see him. It's getting dark, and of course he's "lights out" to prevent anyone from seeing him.
From ATC: "He's on your nose, about three miles distant."

ATC: "He's 12 O'Clock, four miles."

ATC "He's 12 O'Clock, six miles."
And we are pulling the GUTS out of our old Hueys trying to make them do things they were never designed to do.

We never did see him.
Our wager later was that he probably was in a French "Gazelle" helicopter, capable of about 30-40 knots faster airspeed than our old Charleys.

So we never did make history.
But it's a good story, and a fun memory.

17 March 2020

Lt. Bacon

St. Patty's Day rolls around and I'm always reminded of the guy that taught me to fly the Bell UH-1 "Huey". His name was Bacon, a 1st Lieutenant.
He was a Viet Nam Veteran, a great guy, and a Southern gentleman with an accent to match.
He told me this story-

"I had a set of students, both of 'em had been airline pilots prior to starting flight school. Both learned VERY quickly and were so good at performing new tasks, I had to search hard for things to downgrade them on when I filled out their daily report slips.
One day we were flying in particularly rough weather and both had difficulty maintaining assigned heading and altitudes. During the debriefing, when I showed them the 'less than perfect' grade slips, one of them commented, 'SIR! It was really rough out there!'
To which Lt. Bacon replied, 'Well guys... when this happens you should just say something like-
Sir, I think I have something in my eye. Can you take the controls for a minute?
That way I'll take the controls and see how difficult the conditions are, and I'll take that into consideration when filling out your grade slips!'

That night was St. Patrick's Day, and I went to the Officer's Club to partake of some green beer.
I partook of a LOT of green beer!
And the next day, while flying with these two excellent students, my gastrointestinal tract was acting up a little...
Correct that... my G.I. tract was acting up a LOT.
I could not help filling the cockpit of that Huey with an aroma so strong I was surprised it didn't peel the paint off the instrument panel!
After about my third 'volley', real SCORCHERS, over the intercom I heard-
'Sir, can you take the controls? I think I have something in my NOSE!"

I think of Lt. Bacon every time 17March rolls around and wish there was a way I could contact him. I can't even remember his first name.
But he taught me well, and I OWE the man a lot.
Including the ability to retell this story!

15 March 2020

Logic = Common Sense?

I started flying a helicopter ambulance in 1986.
An old ARMY aviator I respected that had been doing the job a couple years gave me the best advice I ever received:
"Ground ambulances were doing this job long before helicopters started doing it. Don't kill yourself, your crew, AND the patient by flying in weather you shouldn't be flying in!"
In other words, there are times where "Just say NO!" saves lives.

Here in Arizona we frequently see reports of someone who has gone out hiking in the mountains and gets hurt, forcing an emergency crew to risk their lives to save the injured.

Right now we're watching "The Perfect Storm" on AMC and the Air Force Blackhawk has been dispatched to fly in unflyable weather to attempt a rescue of the sailing vessel "Mistral".

Even after being warned not to put myself and everyone else in the aircraft at risk, I still sometimes ended up flying in situations where I used ALL of my skills, (and then some) to get everyone back to safety. And I learned from those situations.

If you-
Don't wear your seatbelts.
Ride a motorcycle and don't wear protective gear.
Drive after consuming alcohol.
You are putting yourself AND OTHERS at risk.
And I resent that.

Don't be stupid.
Live to fight through another day, and don't force others to take risks to save you.
And don't cause heartbreak for friends and family.

11 March 2020

Beauty, In the Eye of the Beholder-

Helicopters were NOT naturally beautifully machines.
When we speak of beautiful machines I think of the Jaguar XKE; the Gulfstream Jet; Raymond Loewy's Greyhound Scenicruiser. (Yes, the big bus!)
While I was in ARMY Primary Flight School I lusted after the Bell UH-1 Huey. Not because I thought it was beautiful, but because I knew I'd likely be flying that aircraft while getting shot at.

At Ft. Wolters, Texas, one evening I went to the Post theater and saw a movie called "The President's Analyst" starring James Coburn.
Near the end of the movie one of the characters comes onto the scene by landing in an aircraft similar to the one pictured above- A Bell JetRanger model 206.
I'd never seen one before. It took my breath away.

I couldn't have imagined at that time that I'd end up getting nearly 1600 hours total time in that model aircraft.
Other helicopters in the "nearly beautiful" category?
The AH-1G Cobra.
The Bell 222, (like the machine in "Airwolf".)
And the Sikorsky S-76.

Well... in MY eye they are!

07 March 2020

Virulent Virus

I'm inwardly shaking my head.
Now we can't shake hands?
Yep... don't wanta spread germs ya know!
And I wish I had some time ago bought stock in the company that produces hand sanitizer.

The cruise ships have been out in front of this stuff for a long time. When you show up to eat there you'll be met by a welcoming crewmember, smiling, and insuring you use the hand sanitizer before you enter the dining room.
NONE of the crew aboard the ship will shake your hand. The preferred method of contact is the fist-bump.
Cruise lines, knowing the spread of disease is their achilles' heel, have been VERY proactive trying to control it.
And they've failed.
We humans are bacteria-laden, nasty animals. So you use the hand sanitizer and get into the buffet line. While there you reach up and scratch whatever that irritating thing making your nose itch out of it's den of irritation. Then you grab the serving tongs. And the next person in line receives your hidden gift!

Some time back I was in a buffet restaurant. I had finished my entree and was ready for some of that wonderful looking banana pudding I had seen at the dessert station.
On my way to serve myself there, a young boy of about six ran ahead of me and got to the big bowl of pudding first. He grabbed the serving spoon, plopped a healthy serving onto his plate, licked the spoon with a very satisfied look, and returned the spoon to the bowl.
I decided the carrot cake looked wonderful.

We humans are social critters... wonderful and efficient at sharing stuff.

Wash your hands. Often.
And try to keep yourself otherwise in good shape.
You need every advantage you can gather.

05 March 2020

At the Dentist.

Some time back I broke a crown on one of my molars.
I immediately went to the Doc to have it checked out.
"The basic tooth is intact... it was just the crown that cracked. The tooth is fine. Can you stand the feel of it?"
Interesting question. The remnants of the crown WERE jagged.
Ever try to keep your tongue from going over there to cop a feel?
I got used to my tongue's flirtations with it.
And I put off the fix, knowing I'd be here in AZ soon.

My son turned us on to this (his) Dentist.
When we first moved him here to the PHX area, he lived in a nice apartment complex that was located in a... kind of questionable neighborhood. We first realized it was "iffy" when we saw the signs:
"Bait cars in use."
He never had any problems there, thank goodness, and has since upgraded his living quarters.
But one of the neat things that came out of the experience was his finding a new Dentist that serves this underprivileged neighborhood and serves it WELL. He loves it and recommended it to us.
They take digital X-Rays. They take them for FREE. Those pics are available instantly, and have cut the cost of our dentist bills DRAMATICALLY.

Dentistry has come a long way. I now have a new crown back there.
My tongue is no longer interested in that corner of my mouth.
And that's great.

04 March 2020

Why I Hate Dogs-

If you're here regularly you know my title is a lie.
But our Lucy will be 14 people years old in June. She's had some sort of funky psoriasis-like stuff on her belly since she first adopted us.
She's been under the Vet surgeon's knife three times... two of those to remove cancerous growths.
Now we're finding a weird flap of tissue on her belly again.
Could she survive another major surgery? Do we want to spend beaucoup bucks to have another surgery on a dog that's over 90 dog years old? And with her history, how long would it be before we had to make this decision again?

We've decided to let this play out.
It's tough, because our family agrees- this is the smartest dog we've ever owned.
You know... she's family.
And we know we'll lose her soon.

That's why I hate dogs.

03 March 2020

THE "Assault Rifle" !

"Wait... you DON'T own an AR?" he exclaimed.
And I understand why he's surprised. I own many different pieces, in many different calibers, figuring it would be better to have a variety so that maybe some sort of ammo would be available when needed.
I own an M-1 Carbine. The round, to me, looks similar to the 5.56 round used in the AR.
But I'm no ballistics expert.

I have a chance to buy a Ruger "Mini-14" on sale at a GREAT price.
The sale ends soon, so I need advice from my expert friends-
Should I pull the trigger on the Ruger, or wait for a great deal and buy an AR?

27 February 2020

"Stick it to the man!"

Taking my family to lunch here in AZ we passed a VERY large apartment complex under construction. The amount of lumber being used to cover nearly a city block motivated Sara Jean to exclaim:
"Think of the MILLIONS of dollars spent there on wood alone!"

To which I responded:
"Yeah, and the people who move into those apartments will likely vote for a man more than willing to punitively tax the folks that risked millions of their money to build that complex to house those residents."

That comment motivated my 36-yr old son to say about the left:
"It's not so much that they support the poor as it is that they hate the rich."

My son's intelligence often surprises me.

25 February 2020


On my walk last night I was thinking how crazy the politics of our country are today.
We somehow think failed policies from the past will work today, if we just squeeze our "lucky penny" hard enough.

And I thought of the academy award winning movie, "Bridge on the River Kwai".
There's a climactic scene at the end of the movie where the Japanese train is approaching the bridge.
A team of commandos has rigged the bridge with explosives. The Allied Colonel in charge of bridge construction notices the wiring attached to the explosives and tries to stop the detonation.
He finally realizes he's been complicit in aiding the enemy and at the end of the movie asks,
"What have I done?"

Will left-leaning voters see their mistake before, or after our country is destroyed and come to the realization they've aided and abetted our enemy?

20 February 2020

Proud Papa

Dateline: An Officer's Club in Chu Lai, Viet Nam. January 1969.

I had been transferred from Pleiku, Viet Nam to Chu Lai, and was awaiting orders to my assigned unit there. There was NOTHING to do until I got orders so I could get to work. I spent the day reading and listening to "AFVN Radio", and after evening chow
I entertained myself by having a few scotch and waters at the nearby O'Club.

I was on my first drink when a young Warrant Officer swaggered into the club with his buddy in tow, loudly announcing-
"My wife just had twins. Drinks for the house on me!" He and his buddy assumed position at the bar on three-foot-tall barstools. And he ordered a double martini for himself. When the six or so of us in the club had our drinks, the young Warrant Officer tilted his martini back and chugged it.

Again, when everyone else had been served, the young pilot downed his drink in one throwback.

"ONE MORE TIME FOR EVERYONE!" At this point I had three untouched scotch and waters on my table. The young Warrant picked up his double martini, tilted it back, and toppled backward off his barstool like a giant Sequoia being felled by a lumberjack.
His young buddy helped him to his feet, smiled and waved to all watching, announced "Good night everyone!", and escorted his friend back to his unit and bed.

Those twins would be over 50 today.
I'd love to be able to tell them this story.

12 February 2020

Supporting The Arts-

We have time, although I'm amazed at how "the vacuum" got filled with activities once I left full-time work.
We are blessed to have a little discretionary income.
When things fall into place, we've been going to concerts and shows we have an interest in.

Over a month ago I bought tickets for the "Ladysmith Black Mambazo" concert here at a wonderful facility, the "Chandler Arts Center" in Chandler, Arizona. For a month we looked forward to attending.
And then we got sick.

I was first...
Hot scratchy throat. Then came the coughing and snotty nose.
Sara Jean followed suit a couple days later. Historically she always stays sick longer than me.
When concert day rolled around I was well enough to attend. SJ was not.
I know a few people in the area and offered her seat to them to no avail.
So Big Bubba and I attended the concert sitting next to an empty seat.

Wonderful harmonies.
These guys are known for their amazing "above their heads" kicks and movement around the stage.
They didn't disappoint.

Now we hear that the group's founder, Joseph Shabalala has passed.
(He was not at the concert, but three of his sons were in the group.)
What a legacy he has left!
We left the L.B.M. concert smiling, with a warm feeling of oneness with the world.

It's sad that Joseph is gone.
But his music will continue to impact our world.

10 February 2020

The Great Equalizer

For the better part of three years I flew for a VERY large construction company. My job included moving parts, personnel, mail, V.I.P.'s
and, on payday, employee paychecks. I got to be close acquaintances with the woman in charge of payroll. While waiting for all the checks to be gathered up for delivery one day, we got into a discussion about firearms and the 2nd Amendment. She was "scared of guns".

I shared my opinion that I felt guns, and particularly handguns, were a woman's best friend...
A properly trained woman with a handgun is suddenly equal to any man. She shook her head, unconvinced.

At a later payday...
"GB, can I chat with you?"
She shared that she lived in a ground-floor apartment. She heard screams coming from next door and called Police. By the time they arrived on scene, the perpetrator had escaped after raping her neighbor.
"What handgun do you recommend?"

I gave her the address of a gun store/shooting range nearby and advised her to go there and shoot several guns, then select the largest caliber pistol she felt comfortable shooting.
The next time I met her we talked about the 9mm Glock she had purchased.

She felt safer. She was actually enjoying shooting at the range.
I felt I had done her and her neighbors a good deed.

Next time you talk with someone fearful of firearms, invite 'em to shoot with you. You'll be doing them, and the neighborhood as a whole, a favor!

27 January 2020

The Kobe Crash

It happens infrequently, thank God.
A helicopter crashes with a politician or other celebrity aboard and the event garners national attention. And with today's wonderful technology, it almost always turns out that people are dead because someone did something stupid.
This Kobe Bryant crash is no different. The investigation continues and it's possible, but unlikely, we'll hear something electronic or mechanical failed. And even if that's the case, we know stuff is gonna fail and train for that eventuality. It's called "EMERGENCY PROCEDURES" for a reason.

I started training people to fly helicopters in 1969. At first I was teaching people not only to fly safely, but to survive flying a machine while folks on the ground were trying to shoot your machine out of the air. It was an important job, and I took it VERY seriously.

I became a civilian "Certified Flight Instructor". I was glad I no longer had to worry about someone on the ground trying to kill my students and the folks aboard their helicopter. But I knew there were still great dangers lurking for them... their worst enemy continued to be their decision-making processes.

Helicopters are amazing, wonderful machines. I have always argued they're safer than airplanes.
Ask anyone who has a decent amount of time in both, (like me), and they'll agree. When things begin to vibrate and make a funny sound, airplane guys get a map out or punch the "closest airport" button on their GPS.
Helicopter pilots look right beneath their aircraft for an open area about the size of a tennis court.
"We're landing there to check this out!"

All pilots know the term "Get-home-itis".
It describes the pressure a pilot feels to press on and complete the mission, even when their GUT is telling them doing so is dangerous.
Accident investigations are rife with fatal accidents caused by the phenomenon.

It's still possible something failed on Kobe Bryant's helicopter. As a helicopter pilot and instructor, I actually hope it turns out Kobe's pilot didn't make a stupid decision and kill himself and all aboard that gorgeous Sikorsky S-76. It's sad and odd, hoping it was some sort of mechanical/electronic failure. But I always told my students, "If your gut is telling you that you should be on the ground, listen to it!"
All it takes is a tennis court-size open area.
More than forty people are walking around today with licenses to fly helicopters in their pocket because I recommended them to the FAA. None have killed themselves so far, thank God.

It's gonna take a LONG time for the final results of the cause of this accident to be revealed.
But no matter what, it probably was an unnecessary tragedy.

26 January 2020

"Old Rockin' Chair's, (Um, Recliner's!) Got Me..."

Yesterday was my Birthday. It's my 73rd trip around ol' Sol.
Today marks the 7th year since I retired from my EMS piloting job.
That... absolutely seems impossible.

I'm still enjoying NOT having to set an alarm EVER.
But I am NOT enjoying the fact that I haven't flown a helicopter in almost a year. I'm losing my skills.

I'm also bored.
That's CAPITAL B.O.R.E.D. !
Surely there is a job out there for a guy that will show up for work on time; is willing to do most anything; and knows how to read and spell.

But where?

18 January 2020

Cutty Sark

Long-term readers know I had a "frequently strained" relationship with my Dad.
But I loved and respected him and knew the feeling was mutual. Whenever I could do something nice for either of my parents and it was feasible, I did it.
Dad was good with his hands. Among the many things he did well was assembling something useful out of a bunch of pieces.

Just home from Viet Nam, I was in the Post Exchange and saw a nice, big model of the beautiful British "Clipper ship", the "Cutty Sark".
You've seen images of her... trim, fast looking, (and she WAS fast).  I knew Dad would enjoy building the kit, so I bought the model and made a present of it to him when I was home on leave.
Months later on my next trip home I had no doubt he'd have the kit assembled. And of course, he did.
Beautiful. It sat prominently and proudly displayed on top of the TV in my family's living room.
It sat there for several years, (gathering dust :>) )

Some years later I came home in Spring and Cutty Sark was no longer on top of the TV.
"Hey Dad... what happened to the Cutty Sark?"
"We had the windows open to let the warm Spring breeze through the house. Cutty Sark sailed off the edge of the earth!"

Fitting, I think.
She was a thing of beauty, designed to catch the wind.
And she died doing what she loved.

16 January 2020

Management Material ?

My son had an acquaintance that lived nearby.
I didn't like him much. He just gave me a "negative vibe".
Unemployed for an extended period of time, when I asked him what was goin' on with his job search he replied, "I'm management material. I won't take a job just flippin' burgers".
His Mother died. The family sued the Doctor and got a multi-million$ settlement. The money is in a trust.
Management? Indeed.

So then, as I frequently do these days, I started comparing my life to the life of kids today.
I became a "manager" at age 20 when I graduated OCS.
I certainly thought I was "management material". Obviously, lots of other folks thought so too.
How much managerial knowledge can a 20-year old kid have?
Upon reflection... in my defense, I DO think I was a better candidate to manage others than my son's friend would have been. And I think I MOSTLY made decisions based on common sense. I have no horrible memories related to poor decisions I made.
Thank God.

In 2008 we elected a Junior Senator from Illinois with virtually NO management experience to the highest, most important post in the world, simply because of his skin color.
Many heroes are dead because of his poor decision making.
I wonder if he has nightmares about them?

04 January 2020

Woman in Gold

^ That's the title of the movie I watched last night. I recommend it.
 Here are the details
if you're interested. (I LOVE Helen Mirren!)

Based mostly on a true story, at the end of the movie there's a statement that over 100,000 priceless art objects stolen by the Nazis have not been returned to their rightful owners.

I read a book some years back about what happened to the Japanese when (Democrat!) FDR forced them into concentration camps.
They too, for the most part, lost all their worldly goods.
Is there a "Restitution" movement ongoing for the Japanese too?

01 January 2020

Is That All There Is?

My title is an old Peggy Lee song. Haven't heard it? Go look it up.

Retirement is... okay.
I loved my job and hated to leave it. But there comes a point (more than once in my case) where regulations have ruined things in my life, and I had to move on.
When you begin to feel like someone is constantly looking over your shoulder waiting for you to make a mistake so they can terminate you from the workplace, it's time to move on.
Luckily, "moving on" in my case meant I could REALLY move on.
I retired in 2013.

But I loved the old job and loved the satisfaction I felt from doing what I thought was "God's work" and receiving a paycheck for it.
I'm not certain I'm over it yet. But my dreams of work happen less and less during the night now, (and they were always stressful anyway so I'm glad!) And I finally realized sitting in a chair with the remote all my waking hours was going to add so many pounds to my frame it would kill me, so Sara Jean and I share a couple hours a day
walking/talking/listening to "Oldies Radio" to keep "Mr. Cardiovascular Problem" as far away as possible. (We recommend it.)

Three years now we've spent the Winter in the Phoenix area. It's obvious to us now why many come here as "Snowbirds". Once in a great while the temperature will reach 39 degrees F. But even then the temp will rise to the mid 50's during the day.
Rain? In the three+ months we were here last year it rained three days. And those days were not bitterly cold.
It's wonderful here during the Winter. But I am BORED STIFF. You can only ingest so much irritating news before either going crazy, or relieving stress by SHOUTING AT THE TV!
I've done a lot of shouting at the TV.

There was a "Jiffy Lube" coupon in the Sunday paper last year offering a semi-synthetic oil and filter change, up to five quarts, for $19.99. We "do-it-yourselfers" know that's a darned good deal.
So I took our son's truck and had the Jiffy Lube people do the job. While in the waiting room we noticed the "Help Wanted" sign on the front door, and I asked the manager, "Could I, as a Snowbird, apply"?
And he quickly said "Sure!"

So I stopped by that store last week, got a job application, filled it out, and turned it in the next day.
I hope for a response tomorrow.
How much work will they offer? How much will the job pay?
I don't really care.
I just want to do something... anything... that needs doin' and will put a smile on my face.

Wish me luck.