26 November 2006

Pointed There, Landing Here

Until my first attempt at crosswind landings, I thought flying an airplane was no more difficult than driving a car. Then, with the benefit of no crosswind training, I lined up to land with a 10 knot direct crosswind and found myself unintentionally touching down parallel to but alongside the runway, in the grass.

K had a similar experience on her first supervised solo,
and because her landing also resulted in nothing more serious than sweaty palms, a raised heartbeat, and newfound respect for the skills of more experienced airplane pilots, it was fun to read about her adventure.

Many of you will already have seen this cool video,
but when I saw it, I immediately thought of K, and of a young Greybeard being taught a lesson in humility.
(Thanks to Alexisparkinn.com for the video.)

25 November 2006


I added this comment to one of the posts below, and then realized it was buried far enough down there, some would not read it-

FD and others-
Thanks to all of you for coming and commenting.
I may mutter "idiot" under my breath when I read your comments, but I truly appreciate the discussion and find those that will stand up and speak their minds SO much more interesting than those that don't have that passion.
Given the choice, my cocktail parties would be populated with passionate folks, not "Casper Milquetoasts"!

Don't you feel that's true?
Wouldn't life be dull if we couldn't have a lively discussion now and then?
Thanks for your attention and comments.
Having read this post, you now know I think it's fine to mutter "idiot" under your breath!

23 November 2006

Yo Ho Ho, Three in a Row!

I love comments.
Even when someone disagrees with my opinion, comments indicate someone out there is reading and has been moved enough to express themselves. That expression is truly a function of our 1st Amendment rights, isn't it?

If you haven't read the two previous posts and accompanying comments, stop now and go read them. This post is an unprecedented "three-fer".

Commenter FlightFire had the cojones to stand up and speak his mind.
Ya gotta admire that..... it's more than many are willing to do.

And he may be on to something I hadn't considered-
We in the U.S. have done a really poor job of marketing ourselves.
He says we need to educate people, (and I'm assuming he means fundamentalist Muslims, because they are the folks that are blowing people up in Israel, Spain, Britain, Indonesia, and the U.S., along with causing chaos in Sweden, France, and scores of other places around the world).

He says, "We need to be sell (sic) America as the kind, generous and strong power instead of the angry, vengeful, defensive power."

A revolutionary idea, wouldn't you agree?
And an idea that certainly bears exploring.
We just need to do a better job of showing extremist Muslims who we truly are!

It set me to thinkin'......
(I know, I know! But bear with me here..... and remember, a lot of this thinkin' was done at 3 A.M.)

I propose an overwhelming, P.R. attack......
a multi-pronged, multi-media barrage, focused to show these fundamentalists we truly mean them no harm.....
that we are really just kind, generous, and strong, (but strong in a fuzzy bunny kind of way.)

And we need to enlist our most talented people in this educational process..... Experts that know exactly how to market what is best and brightest about our society.

Let me lay out my ideas to get us started down the road to peace with fundamentalist Muslims-

1. TV- America the Beautiful
I love the ads during the Superbowl. They command huge dollars, because they showcase the best marketing a company can do, in front of a huge television audience.
And no one does it better than Anheuser Busch!
Imagine the A-B wagon full of Budweiser, being pulled by those gorgeous Clydesdales, rolling down a desert road, so the Clydesdales can meet their distant cousins, the camels, and invite them to come to the U.S. for a visit, where they can teach cousin camel how to kick a field goal!
And after all the exercise, what could possibly be better than to relax with an ice-cold Bud?....
"The choicest product of the brewer's art".

Alternatively, you could produce an ad showing Mohammad, finishing up his prayers, rolling up his prayer rug, then poppin' a top on an ice-cold Bud Lite. He reaches for the phone, and to Omar, Abdul, Gamal, Anwar, and Ishmael says "WHASSSSUUUUUUUPPPPPPPPPP?", in Arabic of course! Funny!

2. Radio- What Happens in the U.S., STAYS in the U.S.!
Don't you love the Las Vegas ads? I know I do.
We could expand on those ads, showing that when Gemayel comes to the U.S., he need not fear that we'll be tellin' anyone about what he does while he is here.
There is a little problem here, with trying to hint what Gemayel might do while he's in the U.S., particularly in a town like Las Vegas, since that might offend a few fundamentalist Muslims, but a talented agency like the one that puts out the Vegas ads can probably figure a way around that.

3. Print- The Land of Opportunity-
I think this is a stroke of genius on my part!
We combine the talents of Playboy magazine,the Democratic National Committee, and President Clinton, and print fliers to distribute, showing that you can be born in a white-trash neighborhood in a little town like Hope, Arkansas, yet still get the education and opportunity to rise and grow to the point you have the job of leading the Free World!
And what benefits come with that job?
While at your desk, on the phone, dealing with Leaders from all over the world, you can be fellated by a Plus-Sized Jewish woman your daughter's age, (who is not your wife)!
What a country!

4. Other Thoughts- (Needs Expanding)
The National Organization for Women could educate wives of fundamentalist Muslims that beatings are cruel and WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
Also, what's with this Burkha thing?
Get rid of that!

I think we need to enlist the help of the North American Man-Boy Love Association for their assistance in producing something to show that we are in fact a "Big Tent" country, willing to accept behavior that might be frowned upon in some fundamentalist countries, which might result in a beheading, or smacking of hands or something there.

In this marketing drive, we really need to show how we are terribly misunderstood as a country and as a people. These fundamentalists just have the wrong idea about us. If they truly knew how diverse and accepting we are as a country, surely they would realize how "generous and kind" we are, and how we are no threat to their fundamentalist vision for the world.

Now my question is, how and when can we start?

21 November 2006

Please, Something to Consider:

Yeah, I'm gonna do something I normally try not to do.....
two political posts in a row.

Comments to that last post were so interesting, I need another hit!

We hear a lot about fear mongering these days.
For heavens sake, we're all so afraid, our comedians are having nervous breakdowns and using racial epithets on stage!
I blame George Bush, don't you?

Lemme back up and make sure I'm clear-
Am I happy with the way things are going in Iraq?
Do I think anyone could have done a better job?
Maybe, but who?
In the last Presidential election, I had a choice between "bad" and "terrible".

I reluctantly held my nose and voted for "bad".

I'm so disappointed in George Bush and other leaders I could scream.
But although I think he's made serious mistakes, I realize his decisions are colored by things I know, and by things I cannot imagine.

One thing I know for sure..... he's dealing with an ignorant constituency.
Do you watch "The Tonight Show, with Jay Leno"?
Ever see the segment he calls "Jaywalking"?
Yeah, it's funny, but in a sad way. It sure seems there are a lot of fools out there.
Does it scare you?
It does me, because I know those folks vote, and I have a pretty good idea, since they're from California, how they vote.

If you get all your news from Jay Leno or David Letterman, or from "The Daily Show", or from Keith Olberman, you're getting a constant bludgeoning of "Bush Lied, people died!"
I know...... I've watched.
I know that if you watch those shows, you won't get the news that the furor over the investigation into republican overseas junkets came to a screeching halt when it was found that many democrats would also be caught in that web.
Or that democrat hopes to pin the "corrupt party" badge on republicans suffered a similar fate when it became obvious the Abramoff scandal would net several democrats if that investigation continued to fruition.

Harry Reid, Jack Murtha, Alcee Hastings and others are a corrupt disgrace to their constituents. Why do we not hear more about them?
Because it doesn't meet the "old media" agenda.
So my friend Neil is correct when he says, in so many words, "a pox on both their houses."

But back to "Bush Lied, people died".
Or, "Iraq is another Viet Nam."
How do we, the old media, insure those statements come true?
By insuring our agenda is front and center, and by ignoring news that doesn't further that agenda.

Let me tell you something that may amaze you.
Something that, if you have any curiosity about you at all, will make you say, "why am I not hearing that on my nightly news?"
And I've already answered that question for you.

What if I were to tell you that over 100 automobiles were being burned in France on a daily basis? Would you believe that?
Surely that's not true, right? We'd certainly hear about that on our "old media" broadcasts, wouldn't we?
No, we wouldn't.

Read this article from the U.K. Times. When the riots first broke out in France, it was big news. Are you surprised to hear that over 100 cars PER DAY are being burned there now?
I was.
And I was more surprised that we haven't heard about that on our news, until I realized the reason why.

OVER 100 CARS PER DAY, AVERAGE! Let's see...... if the rate continues to the end of the year, 100X365 equals over 36,500 cars burned in France this year! Why haven't we heard that?
That's not just big news, that's monstrous news!
But you see..... it doesn't further the agenda-
Bush Lied, people died.
Bush is frightening us.

If we truly knew how much chaos and disruption there is in our world, we might realize that accusations of "fear mongering" ring pretty hollow.
Regular readers know what I mean when I say, "Froggy, isn't the water beginning to be a little too warm for you?"

Jump outta the water, Frog!
Wake up, people!

20 November 2006

Do You Feel a Draft?

Fun, fun, fun.
It's gonna be interesting to watch.
The U.S. Army has
met or exceeded most of its recruiting goals for October. Of course, that was before the mid-term election...... before Kerrys, Murthas, and Durbins were elected to take the reins of government.

Will future recruiting efforts be successful?
Would you be attracted to serve if you knew your leaders thought joining indicated you were stupid?
Well, don't worry about that at all, Bunky!
Our new leaders have an answer to recruiting difficulties:
Revive Selective Service.......
"The Draft".

Charlie Rangel, democrat Representative from New York, and Fritz Hollings, democrat Senator from South Carolina have authored a bill
to revive the Draft. It was submitted and defeated in the previous congress, but it would surely be met with a different attitude now, with new, progressive leadership in place.

And we may need it.
Do you think recruiting numbers will increase, since the favored party of fundamental Islamists now has control of the legislative branch of our government?
Islamic extremism will grow unfettered.
Would you want your son or daughter to join under present conditions?

Big Bubba has no interest in following in his old man's footsteps, and I'm VERY glad for that now.
Let's watch and see what happens to the recruiting numbers, which will indicate if Selective Service is needed. If the democrat's bill passes, and Big Bubba is drafted, we'll be following the "Bubba Bill Clinton" route to military service!

More here.

This article came out just as I was about to publish this post.

15 November 2006

A Favorite Story, Obsoleted

I need your help again. I have a favorite story that is gonna become obsolete soon, for reasons that will be obvious. I hate to lose the story, because it shows how with adversity, sometimes there is opportunity. Let me tell it, and afterwards maybe you can help me find a way to change and perpetuate it:

"The Custodian"

Anxiously, he worked his way to the Vicar's office....
His old boss and friend of 35 years was dead, victim of a heart attack.
Now he was to meet the new Vicar, a man much younger than he, and find out what duties might be expected of him.

He had been Custodian of this Anglican Church for all these years.
Dyslexic, his classmates had been cruel with their teasing. They made such fun of him, he quit school early and was lucky to nail down this job. He was a hard worker, and had maintained a wonderful relationship with the recently departed Vicar.
He and his wife lived a modest, but comfortable life on his wages. They had even socked some money away for their eventual retirement.

Entering the office, he relaxed immediately when he saw the new Vicar's smile and extended hand.
His new boss explained that his work would basically remain the same, with a few additional duties. Then the Vicar dropped the bombshell:
"Now and again, I'll need you to do some Secretarial duties."

"But Vicar, I can't read or write, much less type!"
"Oh my. That IS a problem."

After much discussion, it became obvious the Custodian could not remain in his position.
The Vicar reluctantly had to let him go.

Shaken, the newly fired Custodian leaves the Church.
He pats his pocket....... finds an empty pack.
"Bloody Hell, I should have bought cigarettes on the way to work!"
He needed a cigarette, NOW!
And although he had worked at this Church for 35 years, he really didn't know the surrounding neighborhood all that well. He walked several blocks looking for a tobacconist, to no avail. When he finally stopped and asked directions to the nearest shop, he had to walk several blocks further to get there.

Discussing the situation with his wife, he mentioned how much difficulty he had trying to find a cigarette when he desperately needed one.
Then the light bulb flashed as they both came to the same realization-
That neighborhood needed a tobacco shop!
They withdrew all their savings to start the store. It was a desperate move, but what other recourse did they have?

Their store was an immediate success.
Thereafter, the old Custodian and his wife surveyed other neighborhoods, finding those that had no tobacco store. Soon, he and his wife were managing dozens of stores, and were approached by a large retail concern to buy their business. He and his wife were ready for retirement, so they agreed to sell for a tidy sum.

Closing the deal, the buyer's lawyer handed him a contract to sign.
He responded, "I'll have to allow my lawyer to review this, I can't read or write."
The buyer's lawyer was surprised-
"Imagine how successful you'd have been, had you been able to read and write!"
To which our friend responded, "Yes, I know exactly how successful I would have been......
I'd still happily be Custodian of the Anglican Church just down the street!"

Smoking is under fire. Whole cities are making it illegal to smoke within their boundaries.
I'm seeing more and more "At least I can still smoke in my car" bumper stickers.

Like it or not, it's gonna get more and more difficult to practice the habit.

And that dooms my story.
I'm at a loss to think of any product that will fit in place of tobacco. The story revolves around the fact that the Custodian is so stressed he needs his fix, and he needs it quickly!
Will it work with any product that is not addictive?
Is my favorite story doomed to the scrap heap?
Will I need to just preface it with the setup that "long ago, cigarettes were legal"?
Do you smart folks have a suggestion?

There's No Jack S......

"I did not do anything illegal or unethical."
Tom Delay

"I did not do anything illegal or unethical."
Harry Reid

"I did not do anything illegal or unethical."
John Murtha

"I did not do anything illegal or un...... uhh, NEVERMIND!"
Alcee Hastings.

12 November 2006

Greybeard's Darwin Awards

Somethin' I should have done long ago, I suppose....
I'm sure you've received them via email-
The Darwin Awards.......
awards given to people for doing stupid things that get them hurt or killed.

When I talk with others, I frequently hear the question,
"I bet you see lots of interesting things, don't you?"
Yes, I certainly do.
I respond...... "Just about the time I think I've seen every way there is to hurt yourself, someone comes up with a new twist."

Let me tell you about the Darwin candidates I've flown this month........
All involve alcohol consumption:

Candidate number one was a 14 year old male.
Folks that work in the ER have heard the start of his story often-
"I was just walkin' down the street minding my own business, when......."
This youngster had run away from home three days earlier.

Even at 14, he was intoxicated enough that I could smell him in the front of the aircraft.
While walking down the street, an unknown party, for an unknown reason, threw a glass bottle of something flammable at his feet, bursting the bottle and splashing much of his body with the liquid.
Candidate #1's reaction?
Time to light up a cigarette!
Result- 1st and 2nd degree burns over 35% of his body!
And he's lucky. It could have been much worse.

Candidate number two was less original. He tried an old method I have responded to all too many times: Get a bellyful of alcohol, then drive the wrong way on the Interstate highway.
Landing on the shut-down Eastbound lanes of the highway, I could see he had driven his car into the face of a tractor/trailer, resulting in compound fractures of femurs in both his legs. He'll be mighty sore for a while, IF he survives.

Candidate number three, a local college student, was celebrating his 21st birthday. He returned to his fraternity house with a blood alcohol content of .03........ drunk three times over.
When his key didn't work in the door, he did the only thing a drunk 21 year old could think of under the circumstances: He broke the window in the door with his fist. This resulted in a to-the-bone laceration of his right arm at the bicep, severing an artery, giving our candidate a pretty good chance of bleeding to death on the front porch. Fortunately for him, the residents of the house responded to the noise, put pressure on the wound, and called 911. There's a slim possibility, with skill and God's grace, that his arm can be saved.
Why didn't his key didn't work in the lock?
He was at the wrong address........ he lived next door!

These three "Darwins" have happened during the last 30 days.
Let me think a while about others I have transported, and I'll share those with you later, along with any innovative new ones I might encounter.

09 November 2006

Trang Van Nguyen

That Huey is evacuating the last of the Americans from Saigon in 1975.
I hadn't seen this image before. It's a different angle than the famous image we normally see of this event-
Interesting, in that he has a big chunk of that left skid off the pad, which means he had to be hovering while people got aboard the helicopter.
From this perspective it looks like all he had to do was slide forward four feet or so, and he'd have been more secure on that pad. Wonder why he didn't?
Was he in that much of a hurry?
Maybe. There are a bunch of folks on that ladder.

Now, to the task at hand-
How much do you know about Viet Nam?
We've discussed the fact that President Johnson probably led us into that war under false pretenses, rightfully causing much of the valid suspicion of our government today. But once committed to defeating the Vietnamese communists, shouldn't we have finished the job we started?

Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. We know now if we had ignored Walter Cronkite and stuck to our task, history would read differently for us, and millions of Vietnamese citizens would still be alive.
I want to tell you the story of one of them:

When I first started flying EMS, we made our shift change at 10 A.M..
By the time I briefed the oncoming pilot and finished all my paperwork, it frequently was closer to 11 A.M..
On those occasions, I would often run to the closest Chinese restaurant and get food to take home and share with Sara Jean.

The proprietor of the restaurant, a young asian man, would smile at me as the waitress took my order.
Wearing my "Captain's uniform", I stood out like a weed among the daisies.
On about my fourth visit, he came from behind the counter and asked in good, but accented English, "what line do you fly for?"
"I'm a helicopter pilot. I fly the helicopter ambulance here in town."
"Oh? Were you trained by the ARMY?"
"Yes sir, I was."
"Were you in my country?"

And at this point, we became friends.
"Are you Vietnamese?"
"Yes, I am."
"Then yes, I was in your country!"

The next few times I came, he refused payment for my food. I finally had to tell him if he wouldn't allow me to pay, I would quit patronizing his restaurant. After that, I'd get home and find extra large portions and items of food I hadn't ordered in my sack.
I resorted to leaving a big tip.

He introduced himself as "Tony".
I later found out his real name was Trang Van Nguyen.
Tony was 13 when that picture was taken in 1975.
Tony's father was the Commander of the South Vietnamese Air Force.
When it became obvious Saigon would fall, his Dad parked a Huey and Pilot in Tony's back yard. When the enemy tanks rolled into the heart of the city, his Dad loaded the entire family onto the Huey, told them he was staying to continue the fight, stepped off the skid, and saluted them goodbye as the Huey departed for the safety of an American ship just over the horizon. Tony hasn't heard from his Father since. It's unlikely his Dad survived the ensuing purge...... those with strong links to the old Republic of Viet Nam government or the United States were quickly "neutralized" as political risks.

We had it won.
But our enemy was more dedicated, more disciplined, had a long-term vision, and the stomach for a long, dirty fight.
We Americans have a VERY short attention span.

So here we are again.
President Clinton called for regime change in Iraq. We accomplished that.
Now it appears we'll abandon the Iraqi people to a horrible fate, as we did Tony's Dad.
Arab perceptions of us as weak and unable to take a punch are validated.
We are weak. We will get what we deserve.
I'm dismayed, but unsurprised.

If you are a Sunni Arab in Iraq, you are now terrified.
You're probably a better student of American history than the average American.
The bloodbath is coming.

08 November 2006

How D'ya Spell That?

Filibuster. That's how it's spelled.
Gridlock. That's what it means.

And that may be a good thing.
It'll sure be interesting to watch.

06 November 2006

Ants, Grasshoppers, and Pregnancy At 13

I love the story of the Ants and the Grasshopper!

You remember it, don't you?
All Summer long the ants work hard putting food away for the coming Winter, while the grasshopper fiddles away having fun.

The ants warn the grasshopper he needs to prepare for hard times, but he's having 'way too much fun to be troubled with work.

"Don't worry- be happy!" Somehow, things will work out.

When the weather turns deadly and the grasshopper is about to freeze to death, the gracious ants take him in and share the fruits of their labor with him, allowing him to "sing for his supper".
Moral: Don't waste time with working hard. Hard work is for weak people that later can easily be taken advantage of with a good "hard luck" story.

I frequently listen to talk radio while driving late at night.
One night a few years ago, the host was talking with the Junior High School teacher of a school in a large city. She made the comment, "my 12 and 13 year old girls know TO-THE-PENNY, (her emphasis), what they will receive in welfare benefits when the have their first baby! They know TO-THE-PENNY, how much they will receive when they have their second baby!"

Remember now, we're talking about 12 and 13 year old girls!

These little girls fantasize about being "grown up" and having babies.
They know, from such an early age, there is no need for them to make long term plans, because the system has a safety net in place for them.

Fathers? They had no Father!
We don't need no stinking Fathers!
We just want a baby that will love us!

So here we have a vicious circle:
Babies having babies.
Babies whose home lives are unstable.
Babies that think their lives will improve if they just have something they can love that loves them in return.
Babies trapped because, being pregnant or saddled with a child, they get no education.
They're like our friend the grasshopper, except I'm not sure they get the warning the ants gave the grasshopper......
they don't have time to get even that much education when they're pregnant at 13 or so.

We have to figure out a way to break this cycle.
Our children need to realize, from an early age, that a good education is one step in the stairway to a successful life. Our children's education should include how to avoid a dead-end life by avoiding early pregnancies, so necessary skills can be learned to prepare for living independently.

It also couldn't hurt to tell the story of the Ants and the Grasshopper early and often, with more emphasis on the grasshopper as a character to be pitied.

02 November 2006

Five Minutes of Office Banter

I think my kid is brilliant.
He'll graduate with a Degree in Communications-Radio/TV in December.

As a class assignment he wrote, produced, directed, and recorded this piece
with classmates.

I was moved. You may be too.