29 July 2006

Greybeard, You S.O.B.!!

Just a little braggin' here.....

Regular readers know I've now been "pulling pitch" for over 38 years.
I've been teaching others the art of "Pitchpull" since 1969. Hovering, next to learning how to automatically say "yes dear", may have been the hardest thing I ever learned to do.

After learning to hover, landing a helicopter on sloping ground is one of the hardest tasks.
When I want to learn how comfortable a pilot is with his fling-wing machine, I'll put him on top of a steep slope and challenge him to put it on the ground.

Almost always, I'll do the first landing just to show it can be done. I'll land on a really steep surface, then move to a slightly less steep piece of Real Estate and ask the person sharing the cockpit to show me their stuff. Frequently their response is, "You (fill in your favorite affectionate obscenity here), you make it look SO easy!"

My response always is, "yeah, when you've been doing this for as long as I have, it'll be easy for you too!"

Are you comfortable driving your car?
Of course you are!
Consider that I'm in the pilot's seat of a helicopter longer than I am in the driver's seat of an automobile, and you can see why I feel that climbing into that seat is like putting on an old pair of slippers. As an instructor, I also get to practice the stuff that is important when things break. That's important, because when your car breaks, you pull to the side of the road and call the Auto Club. It can be a little more difficult if something breaks on a flying machine. Even then, I'm sure glad to be in a machine I can land in the parking lot right beneath me!

So where am I headed with this? If you are already a fixed-wing pilot, learning to fly a helicopter will make you a better fixed wing pilot. If you are like some of my students and have no interest in flying airplanes, but are fascinated by helicopters, put the money together and go buy an hour of instruction from a helicopter school. The stories you'll be able to tell after that hour alone will make the price of admission worthwhile!

(I recommend you find an instructor that's been doing it since before you were born!)

25 July 2006

Red State Secession

Okay, I'm ready to quit.
I'm tired of pulling more than my fair share.
I want to revert back to capitalism.

After the '04 election, there was a great deal of wailing by the Blue States about how terrible it was that they would be forced to live under the rule of "King George the W" for another 4 years.
(He got us into that war under false pretenses, ya know.......No WMD!)

Now the economy is plugging along at record levels....
Employment at record highs, unemployment at near record lows.
The Dow is once again hovering around 11 Grand in spite of high crude oil prices.
Yet Blue Staters still see the glass as half empty:
Those terrible rich folks like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett aren't doing their fair share, ya know!?
GWB's election elicited a great deal of talking about secession of the Blue States.

Well, if ya can't beat 'em, join 'em!
I'm gettin' on the "Secession Bandwagon" too!

53 Million folks voted for GWB.
Most of them are red meat eating, gun owning, country music lovin', hard working, "Red State Rubes" just like me.
Living space for that many Rubes will take a good-sized piece of property.
And of course we don't want to displace "Blues" that don't want to be ruled by the likes of King George the W, so we'll need to occupy "Red" territory.

Here's my suggestion:
"Rubes" can occupy the Southeast corner of what is now the U.S. of A. This corner will include Red States-
Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, Lousiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. These 13 States can adopt the original "Betsy Ross" flag as their symbol!
(Fitting too, I think, that Red Staters will have the benefit the original 13 colonies had.....
the religious freedom to pray in our schools if we wish!)

These States will give Red Rubes a varied cross section of the country.........
mountains, seashore, good country for agriculture, coal, some oil, "The Pittsburgh of the South", and good ports to ship goods to Blue States and beyond.

Blue Staters can take the rest of the country and try to defend it against their enemies.

Sounds like Utopia to me....
No more lying about the best economy in years.
No more gun control arguments.
No more worrying about use of the phrase "Under God".
No more wailing about a lack of Federal help when disaster strikes........
given three days warning, "The United Red Rube States" (U.R.R.S.) will have heeded the warning and packed up and moved to higher ground. When the disaster no longer threatens, "Rubers" will grab generators and chain saws to put things right in a hurry.

There are a couple problems I can foresee popping up right away:

1. From their midst, how will Blue Staters find anyone willing to be part of an Army to defend them?
2. Unless we quickly build a fence, the U.R.R.S. will have a problem with illegals crossing our border.

Then I can start my campaign for "King of the World", (at least the Red State world), in earnest!

20 July 2006

A Thin Skin?


That one word will probably net "Pitchpull" several hits, just from his fans coming to see what I have to say about him. They'll be disappointed. I've read very little of his work.

Reaction to his death has been amazing.
Elvis is more popular than ever...... makes more money now than he ever did while drawing breath. Acidman may follow this path, if tributes to the man keep rolling in.

I'm sure I would have liked the guy. Intelligent, irreverent, opinionated, yet his feelings about his family showed a core that was caring and sentimental.

But I probably wouldn't have been comfortable around him for long........ and I flinch when I read his posts. Maybe I'm just naive, or maybe I'm too thin skinned.

I'm offended by casual use of "the F word".
If you really want to focus my attention on the words you speak, rather than the meaning you are trying to convey.........use "the F word". I'm instantly distracted. That's just a fact.

I'm amazed at how common it is to hear it in normal conversation these days.
It's spoken in public conversation loud enough to hear from across the room.
I have a flight nurse that can't speak two sentences without using it. She throws "Mother" in front of it now and then so she doesn't sound repetitive. She's a great gal and a good nurse.
I don't want to be around her any more than necessary. She frequently makes me cringe.

Rob....."Acidman", no doubt wrote some wonderful stuff, but I don't want to get down in the gutter with him. Don't take me wrong here...... if you loved him and his writing, good for you!
His language just made me uncomfortable.
Maybe when they come out with the version of his blog fit to be shown on network TV, I'll become his biggest fan!

17 July 2006

Cheap! Who, Me?


I have always been from the "use it up, wear it out" persuasion.

The new car that I earlier blogged about purchasing now has 200,569 miles on it. It still looks good, runs good, burns no oil, and gets 27 m.p.g. on the highway.

Sara Jean loves to talk about how "cheap" I am.
Listening to her talk, and watching some of my actions, neighbors must think we are in really dire straits economically.

A male acquaintance of ours has a toenail/sock problem. For some reason, his toenails cut through the perfectly good brand new socks he wears to run in.
He cannot stand to run in socks with holes in them, so he throws them out.
In wonderful "George Costanza" form, Sara Jean saw these socks in his trash can and inquired about them. Knowing that I would be perfectly happy to wear them, she started bringing them home. I now have 20 or so pairs of athletic socks in my drawer with one hole in them.......I simply put the hole over my small toe! If by chance the pair has two socks with the hole on the same side so that one hole will line up over my large toe no matter what, I simply turn one sock inside-out......problem resolved.

But there's another story that Sara Jean loves to tell about me:

I've worn a pair of Wellington boots since I was in High School. Once on, at first glance they look like an oxford shoe, yet they provide good protection for my ankles and lower calf.

A couple years ago I bought a new pair and after breaking them in, found the right one fit my foot tighter than the left one. It wasn't so bad that I couldn't wear the boots, but there was a noticeable difference in the tightness of the right boot. Because it was tighter, when the right boot was worn out, the left boot was still perfectly serviceable. I pitched the right boot and saved the left one.

Sara Jean had a fit!
When are you ever gonna use that one boot?"

The next pair I bought were virtually identical to the preceeding pair. After wearing them for a little over a year, the "pulls" that you use to pull on the boots failed on the left one...... came out by the roots.
But I had a spare!

Imagine my grin.......
Of course I immediately showed Sara Jean what had happened, and wore the "ALMOST" identical pair of boots for over a year until I wore them out.
As Sara Jean would say, "You couldn't tell the difference in the boots from a galloping horse."

She just thinks I'm cheap.
I'd define myself with a different word!

12 July 2006


What's a real friend look/sound like?

I started to post the definition of friend here as a foundation, then decided against it.
In my gut, I know what a friend is.
I think you do too.

A friend is someone you can call at 3 A.M. and say, "I'm broken down at mile marker #888 on I-465 and I need help. Can you come and get me?"
Your friend may be irritated, but you know they'll show up.
And they know that if the shoe were on the other foot, they could depend on you, too.

There's a point here, and I'm gonna get to it......bear with me.

Sara Jean and I have lived in this little town for about 30 years, plus or minus.
When we decided to live together 26 years ago, we met our neighbors "Stan and Suzette".

Both are Sara Jean's age.
These two made Mr. and Mrs. Greybeard laugh.
We'd frequently socialize.......they'd come over for dinner and to play cards afterwards.
After an evening with them, our faces would hurt because we weren't accustomed to that much smiling in so short a time.
We loved them like family.....they played important roles in our wedding.

Sara Jean was a second mother to their daughter, 6 years old when we first met them.......
when the daughter reached adolescence and had "female troubles", she came to Sara Jean for help rather than discuss it with her Mother.

When Stan was faced with the prospect of making a decision to change his retirement investment plan, they came to me with their entire investment portfolio, trusting me to guide them in an area where they were unsure of themselves.
(They considered, then acted on my advice.)

You can see why I thought we were CLOSE friends.

They got a computer.
The next thing we knew, they were talking about the "friends" they had made online.
I was amazed.......they would come home, have their dinner, get on the computer and go to a chat room every night to visit with their "friends" from two States away!

Our card playing nights fell by the wayside almost instantly.
Then Stan and Suzette bought a second computer and got a second telephone line so they both could visit the chat room simultaneously!

We were hurt and dumbfounded.
These people........folks we truly considered friends, were more excited about chatting online than visiting with long-term neighbors that helped raise their daughter.
We finally gave up on the relationship.

Don't get me wrong here...... I love my laptop.
With it, I am better able to stay in touch with my family and friends.
I'll even admit to having a few "virtual" friends......but I emphasize the "Virtual" there. I am profoundly aware of the difference between virtual and real.

I think you can get addicted to these damned things.
Check that.......I KNOW you can get addicted to them.

Lately, I'm finding I spend more time than I would like sitting in front of this computer screen. Part of that is my love for the blogs........ once I found I could no longer trust the New York Times to print the facts, I started getting almost all my news via the computer and Blogs.

I started "Pitchpull" a little over a year ago.
I love where it has brought me....... I've had contact via email with fellow Bloggers and some readers, and that has been wonderful.
But are these people friends?
They certainly could BECOME friends......
but they will have to prove themselves over time......
a LONG time!

A "virtual" friend suggested I should open a "MySpace" account.
The reasoning was that I would then have access to MySpace profiles and photos. It's been educational, to say the least, (and oh my, the personal information many people make available there!)

One gal I checked out last week had "12,886 friends"!
An amazingly fortunate soul......right?
I think "MySpace" is more than just a little weird.

Are we all spending too much time in front of a computer screen?
Is it an escape?
Is surfing the net and doing the chat room thing a way of avoiding the work required to cultivate and grow a relationship with real people?

Don't laugh.......
Stan and Suzette spent so much time chatting with "virtual" friends, they lost their relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Greybeard!
I'm concerned with what I perceive.......that it's happening more and more!

So here is my question:
At what point does spending time on the computer become abnormal?
Do you foresee long-term social effects/problems because of this behavior, and if so, what kind of problems?

09 July 2006

Burt, Benny, and Edward

We love movies in my household.......
Old or new, we are continually searching for movies that entertain, educate, and emotionally touch us.

Sara Jean tends toward big names and big productions.
I love to venture out a little and give a "quirky" movie a try.

Last night we watched "The World's Fastest Indian", with Anthony Hopkins.
I'm happy to recommend it without reservation.

We also watched "The Family Stone".
Ugh, ugh, ugh.

I've wanted to watch "Indian" since I first saw trailers for it on TV.
I think Anthony Hopkins, who plays Burt Munro, is wonderful, and my interest in motorcycles and going fast made it a "must see" for me. I've seen several independent flicks from New Zealand that I have enjoyed....."Whale Rider" comes to mind..... so the fact that "Indian" was produced in New Zealand was a plus.
For some reason, Sara Jean didn't want to watch it. Previous movies I have picked showed that all I had to do was push "play" and get her to watch the first few minutes, and she'd be hooked.

Although I think he personally is a wacko, I'm a big fan of Johnny Depp as an actor.
Years ago I brought home "Edward Scissorshands".
Here again, getting Sara Jean to sit down and start watching was like pulling teeth. One look at Johnny Depp on the cover with cutlery for hands turned her off. I started the movie and she was hypnotized. The next thing I knew, she was on the phone recommending it to a friend.

My interest in Depp, and a catchy tune (I'm gonna be [500 miles] by "The Proclaimers"), attracted me to "Benny and Joon".
Again, Sara Jean initially turned her nose up about watching it until she got sucked in by a good story and great performances.

The two Depp movies are obviously works of fiction.
I loved "Indian" partly because it is based on the true story of an eccentric man whose impossible dream comes to fruition because of his pluck and determination.

Back to "The Family Stone"........ a Sara Jean pick.
Craig T. Nelson, Diane Keaton, Sara Jessica Parker.......
Several other recognizable, good actors........ the movie trailer looked interesting enough. For me, the movie was never believable and I never got "invested" in the characters. Several times during the movie I found myself saying out loud, "well, THAT would never happen."
It's a shame......
The actors perform well. Slight changes in the screenplay could have made the story credible, but I could tell where the story was headed almost from the beginning and the characters end up doing some strange/questionable things to make the story progress.
At the end of the movie, Sara Jean and I looked at one another and asked, "what'd we pay to rent that?!"

A good movie has me interested in believeable characters from early on.
As outlandish as Edward Scissorshands was, we've all known good people that were misunderstood the same way he was, so we identify with him and root for him to succeed. Same with both "Benny and Joon" from that movie.

And if the movie is also based on a true story, all the better.

Want to recommend a personal favorite?
I'd love to hear your picks, and why they affected you.

08 July 2006

Little Tiny Hairs

I hate shaving.
I put it off as long as I possibly can. There are several problems in putting it off:
Sometime in the last few years my beard decided it was no longer gonna match the color of my eyebrows........ therefore my nom de plume.

I have a patchy beard that has gaping holes in it, so when my beard begins to show, there is NO way to say it is attractive........
even calling it "macho" is a stretch. Don Johnson I am not!

After three days growth, it begins to itch.
Ugly, patchy, itchy, and grey...... I finally give up and shave.

Bill Cosby had a comedy routine years ago where he wakes in the morning and looks in the mirror, then calls his wife to the bathroom:
"Wife, look at me! Little tiny hairs........growin' out my face!"
The other line I remember from that bit was: "Zip-Zap, self sacrifice!"

And that's also true with my face. When I go a few days without shaving, my face is unaccustomed to the rigors of a razor, so when I do shave, I inevitably end up looking as if I've been in a minor knife fight.

We've all heard the myriad suggestions about making the task easier and more efficient:
I started shaving when razors had one blade, felt the improvement when we went to two, and even thought the three bladed razor was a slight improvement, even though it no longer fits beneath my nose to shave the hairs closest to that protrusion........ I have a Bic two bladed razor that I reserve for that task.
Now, of course, we have four bladed razors. I have no experience with them.
I can't imagine one would make a dramatic improvement in this uncomfortable task.

I'll relate what I have found, over the years, that seems to work best for me when I do finally break down and drag a razor across my face:

First, I cannot use an electric razor. When I do, unruly hairs get turned around 180 degrees and start a journey back into my face. Ingrown hairs are painful and look like blemishes. I end up looking like a 60-ish zitty teenager. Only a blade shave will do.

The ladies have it right. We see pictures and videos of them shaving those lovely legs in the bath. I agree, shaving is best accomplished during the bath/shower. I once heard a report that compared hair to 18 gauge wire. Strong stuff. It is best cut after being softened during the bath/shower. I always wash my face, rinse, then lather the parts of my face I want to shave. For this task I use regular Zest soap because it is easy, cheap, and convenient. If I were truly looking for perfection, some of the shaving gels work best for me and better lubricate my face to keep it from being irritated. Shaving in the shower makes it easier to rinse the razor, AND my face.

Once out of the shower, I use Vaseline Intensive Care lotion as an after-shave. This comforts and moisturizes my face, and I suppose helps to keep the moisture gathered in the shower from drying out quickly. Anyway, it feels great.

This routine works for me, but I still hate the job. I'm open to ANY suggestion that will improve the shave or make the job easier or maybe less onerous.
Can you help?

03 July 2006

2006 Wild Goose Chase

I just finished our Annual "Goose Roundup" with the Dept. of Natural Resources folks.
Another safe roundup completed, thank goodness, and a great time was had by all but the geese, who weren't troubled for very long.

It was cooler than normal this year........in the low 80's most days. That's better for the birds, who we sometimes have to drive for long distances. Of course the cooler, thicker air is also better for helicopter performance.

A couple quick comments:

Canada Geese are monogamous. I asked one of the biologists what happens when a bird's mate is killed. His answer made me feel better........they pair up with a new mate in the Spring.

This year we tried using Jon boats and a little, (2' long), remote control boat in conjunction with the helicopter to move the birds in difficult situations. Surprisingly, the remote control boat had more affect on the geese than did the Jon boats. The Jon boats frighten them initially, but when they get close to shore the birds simply won't be turned by them anymore. They were spooked by the little remote control boat, so we used it as a block to help keep the birds moving the direction I wanted them to go. BUT........when it comes time to force them out of the water and onto the shore, the only thing that scares them enough to get that job done is the helicopter! But the little remote control boat gave me an idea: I have a former student, (who also reads Pitchpull), that is an excellent remote control helicopter pilot. How big does a helicopter have to be to get the bird's complete attention? I made the suggestion that we might try to use my former student and his R/C helicopter next year to help guide the birds. The DNR folks seemed amenable to that idea, so I asked my former student and he agreed to try it next year.
Something to look forward to next June!