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.