29 January 2010

Forty-Two Years of Pulling Pitch

In three days I will have been a helicopter pilot 42 years.
I'm now approaching 18,000 hours in my logbook. About 95% of that total is in an aircraft with a wing I can see through as it rotates overhead. Almost all of that time is VFR, and because of the nature of my job, a majority of my flying is done at night.

I was scanning an Airline Pilot's blog the other day and saw his
"2009 Wrap-up"...

There was little detail in the post, other than to say he flew 805 hours last year, a number he said was down 40 hours from 2008. If he continues to fly 805 hours/yr. he'll eclipse my total time in about half the time I've been flying. Amazing.

It set me to thinking about the differences in our jobs. How does his day differ from mine?
I am dual-rated, meaning I can fly both airplanes and helicopters.
But I have just enough time in airplanes to be dangerous... I'm not all that comfortable flying something that reaches the ground still going 60 miles per hour (or more). Admittedly, my ideas about what this guy's job entails may be wrong, wrong, wrong, and if they are, please correct me. He flies some pretty big iron, so I suspect he shows up for work in uniform and has much of the before-flying stuff done for him...

Weather checked. Flightplan filed. Maintenance logs laid out for his perusal. I have no idea how you preflight something like a 757... I've seen videos of pilots walking around the aircraft checking it out...
"Yeah, the wing is still attached to the fuselage, and the engine is attached to the wing."
Does he also look at the engine and think "Wow, that's a big ol' hole in the front of that sucka!"?
I would.

Like me, I know he has a checklist to follow and make sure all the equipment works as it should...
All the switches are in place and all the buttons that needed pushing have been pushed. But when he has made the decision that it's safe to commit aviation his job differs from mine a lot.
He'll coordinate with his company dispatcher to make sure all is well. He (or his company dispatcher) will call clearance delivery to make sure his flight plan is in place. He'll then call ground control for instructions on how to taxi to the runway that is actively being used, push away from the terminal, and taxi as instructed. Checking to insure everything is "in the green", he'll call tower and let them know he's ready to go when they're ready for him to go. When tower gives him permission to takeoff, he'll take the runway, push the throttles forward, and use up a mile or so of pavement to get airborne. He'll climb like a homesick angel to altitude that would require the use of oxygen if he and his passengers weren't in an aluminum balloon, and will have ATC looking over his shoulder to help keep him out of trouble for the entire flight. I suspect his average flight is MUCH longer than mine.

When he reaches his destination, ATC will likely give him instructions to help line him up with the runway he needs to plunk his big machine on, pointing out other aircraft they see that might come close to his flight path all along the way. Once on the ground, the procedure is a modified version of the process he used above to taxi to the runway. Like me, his number of takeoffs should equal his number of landings.

Me?
The telephone rings. The dispatcher on the other end of the line asks "Can you...?" I have to make the yes/no "is it safe?" decision before they'll even tell me the nature of my flight... scene, hospital to hospital, or specialty flight/baby transport. I quickly check weather and make the go/no go decision. If it is "go", the dispatcher then tells me where I'm going and a brief description of what's ailin' the patient to relay to my medcrew. I briskly move to the aircraft, do a quick walk-around to make sure the cowlings and fuel cap are secure and all shorelines are detached, then climb in and use my checklist to start the machine and do a quick systems check.

I lift the collective and hover, then point the aircraft into the wind and take off. When I've climbed enough for the company radio to work I call our dispatch and let them know we are on our way and our approximate time enroute. They then give us more detailed information about the patient, and in the case of a scene flight, contact information for the folks we'll be working with on the ground. At this point, knowing I have my mount pointed generally in the correct direction, I'll program the GPS with my destination waypoint.

Let's review my flying yesterday, which, when weather permits, is pretty routine:
I started my shift at 0700. My first flight, a scene flight to pick up a guy who caught and crushed his arm in a machine at work was at 11:27 A.M.. We completed that flight at 2:01 P.M. and I logged 1.5 hours of VFR/day with three takeoffs and landings. One of the landings was to a dust covered parking lot between two rows of cars with powerlines on two sides of my LZ, in a 16 knot quartering crosswind.

Takeoff for flight#2 was at exactly 3:00 P.M., a hospital to hospital flight to pick up an elderly gentleman that was found unresponsive and unconscious in his kitchen. We landed at the receiving hospital with him at 3:56 P.M. after 21 minutes of VFR/day flying... one takeoff and two landings to hospital helipads.
On takeoff to come back to our base from this flight dispatch called and asked, "Can you...", I checked my fuel status and I answered yes. We made a 120 degree turn to the heading for our new destination and I plugged in the GPS waypoint while my crew listened to patient information. My takeoff for this flight was at 4:33 P.M. and our flight-completed landing was at 7:14 P.M.. I logged 1.3 hours total time, .8 VFR/day, .5 VFR night, two day takeoffs and landings and two each after sunset.

Totals for the day-
3.1 hours. 9 takeoffs and landings, one each to a very confined unimproved landing site, and two each at nighttime. By the time I finished filling out the paperwork I left work an hour later than shift-change time.

How do you compare the two jobs?
The fixed wing guy flies a machine that, set up properly and left undisturbed, will pretty much fly unaided until it exhausts its fuel supply. If I release my controls, the helicopter will crash... I must be continuously on or near all of the controls.
I suspect if he was logging 3.1 hours, he'd also be logging one takeoff and one landing. That takeoff and landing would be to a relatively flat, unobstructed, lighted ribbon of pavement, aided by ATC...
No parking lots.
I may, or may not talk with ATC during my entire day.

Which job would you prefer?
We both fly, but he's paid much, much more than me.
Would I trade places with him?
You've been reading here long enough to know the answer to that question, haven't you?

28 January 2010

From Drudgereport.com:

CABLE NEWS RACE
TUES., JAN., 26, 2010

FOXNEWS O'REILLY 3,581,000
FOXNEWS BECK 3,196,000
FOXNEWS HANNITY 3,133,000
FOXNEWS BAIER 2,624,000
FOXNEWS GRETA 2,415,000
FOXNEWS SHEP 2,187,000
CNNHN BEHAR 949,000
CNNHN GRACE 914,000
MSNBC OLBERMANN 818,000
CNN KING 796,000
MSNBC MADDOW 726,000

Hardball with Chris Matthews...
Is it still tingling?

Post- State of the Union...

1986

"God's Own Lunatics"

27 January 2010

Yeah, Ya Done Good My Friend!

Go to Clint's Blog. Read and smile.

Facebook Information

Let's say you want to contact someone from your past...
Someone important to you to whom you'd like to say "Thank You".
Or someone who tip-toes across your thoughts now and then and you'd like to hear what has happened to them after so many grains of sand have found their way through the hourglass.

I try to use FaceBook that way.
Through FB I've connected with several guys I haven't heard from in over 40 years.
With gals and their taking on a different surname, it's much more complicated. I actually have found some old female friends by searching the "friends" list of old male acquaintances.
To you gals who are FaceBook users, do you add your (Maiden) name to your information?
It would make it easier for old friends to find you, but I know there have to be other considerations.
Care to share your thoughts?

Boobs!

The girl with the big boobs thinks she may have voted for a big boob.

How To Pass A Health Care Reform Bill-

1. Establish Health Savings Accounts,
2. Allow Interstate Sales of Health Insurance Policies,
And the most difficult of my suggestions...
3. Get Ambulance chasing Attorneys (and attendant costs) under control by limiting judgments in malpractice suits.


(And Docs... you can help us, and yourselves, by policing your peers!)

26 January 2010

Why We're In The Mess We're In

Simplistic?
Yeah, what I'm about to share with you is bare bones, but it's illustrative of the problem we face in our Nation today.

Several years ago I had a house for sale. I chose to sell this house in one of the worst real-estate downturns our area had experienced in years. The house sat with an agency's sign out front for 3 months...
And got nary a nibble.

Neighbors had asked me about the place, but although I knew them to be of good character, their financial history was such that banks wouldn't consider lending them the money to buy my house.
My contract with the agent expired and they took their sign off my lawn.
By this time we had moved into our new home and were paying payments on two mortgages.
A couple more months passed. I needed to sell this house!

I approached one of the neighbors who had asked about the place to see what sort of deal we could work out. He was pleased...
His elderly Mother was moving to the area and he didn't want to bring her beneath his roof, but wanted her close enough to check on her frequently. My empty house would be perfect for him.

By this time I had reduced the price of the house to $30,000. To sell him the house "contract for deed", I was asking 8% interest... just slightly more than the bank was charging on a loan, to cover the extra risk I was taking in selling the house to someone the bank wouldn't take a chance on. As I explained my proposal to my neighbor he nodded his head and smiled. I began to feel "warm and fuzzy", 'cause it was beginning to look as if I'd get some extra income to cover the burden of having two mortgages sucking my checking account dry.

Then came the bombshell:
He said to me, "She's on a fixed income. Her budget will only allow for a house payment of $200 per month. If you'll agree to accept a payment of $200 per month, we've got a deal!"

"Uhh.... no, that won't work."
"Why not?"
He said this with a questioning look on his face. It was as if I had slapped him. He obviously thought I would jump at the chance to sell this house under almost any circumstance.

So I got a pad and pencil and scratched out the figures...
"$30,000 is the selling price. The interest rate is 8 percent, or .08, right?"
He nodded... with me so far.
"So $30,000 X .08 equals $2400 in interest per year. $2400 divided by 12 equals $200 monthly. If your Mother pays me $200 per month she'll be paying me interest alone and will never own the house."
Now it was his turn to be shocked,
And I was surprised that he was shocked. This was BASIC stuff...
Why hadn't he figured this out on his own? Why was it not obvious to him before he came to make the deal with me?

So when you wonder why the general public is not in an uproar when the Obama administration takes steps to add yet another $30,000 in future debt load to every boy, girl, man, woman, and transgendered person in the United States...
consider that most voters are CLUELESS about what is going on here!
It's OBAMACASH!

(And I'm feverishly trying to sort out how I can make a ton of money taking advantage of folks like my neighbor without projectile vomiting when I look at myself in the mirror.)

25 January 2010

Lucille Le Seuer


Ceiling of 600 overcast and visibility of 3 miles, I was strolling through Clint's blogroll yesterday afternoon, bored to tears. One left-click took me to "Seraphic Secret", where I read a tale about one of my most favoritest actresses. If you're an old movie buff, I bet you'll enjoy it too.

24 January 2010

The Chicago Way-

Let me start off by saying I don't read the blog.
But I'm tired of the attitude that "Freedom of speech is okay so long as you're saying what I want you to say".

It's too early yet to say if ACORN or the SEIU is involved, but know this:

Hillbuzz is a bunch of folks that supported Hillary Clinton in the Presidential election, then threw their support behind McCain/Palin when Hillary was out of the race. They also supported Scott Brown against Martha (Marcia?) Coakley.
Now they are being threatened with violence by the nasties.
How long before the nasties come to threaten you, me, and our families?

Lock and load folks...
It's gettin' serious.

The Little Shop Around The Corner!

I'm into book sales now. My cousin Becky... a sweeter, gentler soul you'll never meet, has written a book.
Today I received this note via email:

"Would you mind putting something about this in your blog? Guaranteed to make you smile -- In 6 weeks, my first novel, 'Non-Prophet Murders: A Grit and Grace Mystery,' will be available here and at other book websites and by order from any bookstore.
It is a contemporary, humorous, clerical crime novel set in a small University town in the South. Or message me for an autographed copy. $22 – no postage."

Becky is a true Christian... none of this Pat Robertson hypocrite stuff that offends us all. I'll be one of the first in line for an autographed copy.
If you like to read, please give her your consideration.

The Airbus Hero

Posted on Kontain.com [Time-lapse Footage of Flight 1549] from David Martin on Vimeo.

23 January 2010

Comfort Zone

I'm fat... back to weighing 20 or so pounds more than I'd like.
I'm gray... we haven't seen the sun in days (and days!) and my face is beginning to look like a piece of meat with freezer burn.
I get out of breath bending over to tie my sneakers because I'm fat, haven't been out in the sun in what seems like an eternity, and gave up walking two months ago when the snow/rain/gray started.
I'm also realizing that you are now looking at part of the problem...
The most exercise I get these days seems to be when I have to reach the extra distance to either the "shift" key or the "enter" key.
I'm spending hours per day online, diddling around between Facebook, MSN Instant Messenger, email, blogs, or news outlets.


Here's a delayed New Year's resolution:
Less time on the internet.
More time exercising.
Lucy the Schnoodle seems happy with my intentions.

Scary. Scary. Scary.

Succession to the office of President of the United States:

22 January 2010

For Mike

I'm thinkin' of ya brother.

One Down, Three To Go?

Unemployment UP, UP, UP.
The national debt at a record high, with a congressional request in to make it higher still.
Other nations are fleeing the dollar as quickly as they can without drawing too much attention to the fact.
Our President(?) having his butt handed to him in Copenhagen twice, in Gubernatorial elections twice, and then losing a gimme election in Massachusetts.
It's hilarious and educational to go back in the archives and read the post and the comments it sparked here.
Enjoy.

UPDATED:
Wow. Just- WOW !

20 January 2010

Two "After-Action" Thoughts:

1. It's a good thing Scott Brown didn't take advantage of the "Cash For Clunkers" program.

2. Republicans MUST NOT take this election as a vote of confidence. This election, and many in the future, was/will be ANTI-INCUMBENT!!!

Now I'm Hoping For Change!

Old, But Interesting:


BK-117 Crash Landing - The best free videos are right here

This machine was repaired, then subsequently sold to the company
I work for. Painted and looking like new, I can testify that it flies just fine, thank you!

19 January 2010

Repudiation


Now let's get started down the difficult road to recovery.
Thank you, THANK YOU Massachusetts!
(Like this post, wear BROWN to celebrate tomorrow!)
... Oh, and by the way Keith Olbermann, you are an A$$HOLE.

"The Bob" Shares The Perils We Deal With:

I disagree with him on a couple points:
I first learned to love flying at night in Viet Nam, 'cause at night you could see the muzzle flashes when little brown men were shooting at you and could see exactly where to place your 2.75 inch folding fin rockets to convince them that wasn't allowable behavior.
I'll also argue his point that "Helicopters are not all that difficult to fly". A former student of mine who flew C-5's, the largest airplane made in the United States would also argue, saying "Helicopters are at least 10 times as hard to fly as C-5's."

But "The Bob's" article about the feeling that wells up in your gut when you see fog forming beneath you, particularly at night, is worthwhile reading.
So go and read it.

18 January 2010

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire?

More info about how our Government may attempt to resolve the economic crisis it has caused-
Take control of your IRA and 401K.
(Lots of links there.)
Think they won't/can't do that?
Just ask GM and Chrysler Bondholders what the Obama administration is capable of doing!

Is It Torture? Is It A Crime, Or An Act of War?

Few will take the time, but the extended disassemblage of Jon Stewart by John Yoo starts here.
It'll take about half an hour of your time, but I recommend it as nothing short of extraordinary.

One commenter I saw somewhere said something like this:
"It's like a dog chasing a bus, then having caught it, having NO IDEA what to do!"

It's a good primer on the thinking of left-leaners.

17 January 2010

Obama's/(Our) Misery Index, 17 January, 2009

It's higher this month-
Up to 12.72% from 11.84% at last report.
Is this the start of the wild ride I've been predicting?
Let's watch and see.

UPDATED:
Bigger, better, prettier...
Clint gives you more of what you need.

Precious Metals @ 15 January

Yeah, yeah...
I'm a Pilot, not a psychic...
(I started to say financial/economic expert, but many of their predictions have been worse than mine lately.)
No one can predict when the bottom is going to fall out of our economic bucket, but it is become obvious to more and more "experts" that the Obama administration has a tightrope to walk, and at any moment circumstances could shake that tightrope. Yes, this problem is the result of years of mismanagement. But no sane person can argue that it can be fixed by doubling or tripling the mistakes made by those previous administrations. WE MUST FIX THOSE PROBLEMS. Unfortunately, it looks as if the resolution to the problem will be forced upon us by the laws of nature, rather than some wise leader pointing the way to the correct path.

Metals prices continue to moderate. I think they'll remain "relatively" stable until inflation rears its ugly head, then they'll take off. So if you agree with my prediction, this is still a good time to start purchasing precious metals.

At Friday's close, the spot price for Gold was $1131.00, down from the $1138.70 close a week ago.
Silver closed at $18.42, down from $18.51 last week.
Both are still UP CONSIDERABLY from a year ago.

It's an interesting market to watch.

You May Be An Idiot If-

You use the term "Teabagger" for a Tea Party enthusiast.
It's an offensive term, and will immediately identify you as someone to be totally ignored.

16 January 2010

15 January 2010

Breaking News:

The monster earthquake in Haiti was caused by TOO MUCH CARBON IN THE ATMOSPHERE-

14 January 2010

Ch-Ch-Changes

As usual, women get all the attention.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining here. Most of the time,
I think drawing attention to yourself results in "The nail that gets the hammer", rather than "The squeaky wheel that gets the grease".

Stay away from me with that damned hammer.

But gals do get the attention...
Pre-mentrual stress. Post-natal depression. Menopause. Post-menopausal stress. Hormone therapy. I'm sure I've missed a few. No wonder women have difficulties... everyone wants to jazz 'em up with some chemical in order to cure one or more of the listed problems.

I'm a little fearful of sharing this with you, 'cause in doing so I'll be showing weakness. But I've known you now for what?... all these years anyway, so here goes...
I'm amazed at how much I cry these days.
Now I'm not talking about "cryin' " as in being miserable. I'm talking about cryin' as in melancholy.
I'm talkin' about cryin' when I realize how charmed my life has been. I'm talkin' about bein' so moved by how beautiful life can be that the tears flow.


Get a few adult beverages in me and this character (flaw?) has always burbled to the surface...
With a buzz, I've always been happy and sentimental. Tears come SO easily.
But as I've aged, that character (flaw?) no longer needs an alcohol prompt to appear.
An example you say? Okay-

He came to work in our organization in 1994... little guy, big smile, talked funny 'cause he was raised in Bristol, England. I liked him immediately. He took the spot opposite me on the same shift. He hated working nights, so he was a perfect shift partner.
For 15 years now we've worked this way. I've watched his son, same age as mine, grow into a fine young man. I've watched and counseled to the best of my ability when he went through a divorce. I've put up with the fact that he leaves his candy wrappers behind in the helicopter because I'm aware he is "picking up my socks" or something else when I head for home and he never complains about it.

Like many of us, he grew tired of working in cold weather. He's been vacationing in Florida for several years, and has been networking down there, checking the possibilities. He found a company base in Southern Florida that needed a pilot and interviewed for that position. He emptied his locker and took his pictures off the wall two days ago and will start training in his new aircraft, the EC135, next week.

Fifteen years I've worked opposite this guy.
It's been somewhat like a marriage.
Now it's a lot like experiencing the loss of a spouse.
And here come the tears.

I'm hopeful this cryin' stuff can be attributed to the fact that I'll turn 63 in a few days.
I'm sure there has to be such a thing as male menopause...
I'm goin' surfin' to find out more about it when I push the "Publish Post" button!

13 January 2010

"Bottom Looks Like Up!"

I've heard it from alcoholic friends...
When you truly hit bottom you have a near-impossible choice to make...
You can change, painfully.
You can die.
Most wait until the "bottom looks like up" before they realize they have to make that decision.

As a country, for years we've been addicted to spending "other people's money".
That money supply is about to be cut off, and like an alcoholic, we're going to suffer withdrawal symptoms. We're not there yet...
we've not yet quite reached bottom.
I think the country is now in a flat spin...
A trajectory that is difficult, but not impossible to change.
Will we realize we have to take extraordinary measures to recover, or will we have to crash, ("Bottom looks like up") before realizing how much trouble we're in?

I'm taking another step to reduce my blood pressure...
I'm taking a hiatus on political posts. It's a waste of everyone's time.
The coming tragedy now looks so certain, all I can do is be amused by those who choose to cover their eyes and ears while still talking hope and change.

To those like-minded individuals out there, I leave you with a checklist-
It's long, detailed, and sometimes difficult to read because English is "Ferfal's" second language.
But I believe those that read and heed the suggestions given here will be glad they expended the effort.

Deep breath now...
Brothers and sisters- God Bless and be with us all.

11 January 2010

"Now It Begins..."

The road will be bumpy, but I think this is the only way we fundamentally change the problems of the country.
Get on board!

A Political Future?

According to Louis Leakey, I am a light-skinned African-American.
I too can have a "Negro Dialect" if I choose to.
(I'm also clean and articulate.)
Should I run for President?

A.G.W. !!

Record lows in Key West and many other points in Florida...
Wouldn't it be wonderful if those that were touting this expensive, government power-grab LIE would have the character to come and apologize for being SO WRONG?!!
(It'll make ya feel better folks, I promise.)

UPATE:
So now a guy I tried to respect informs me the problem NEVER was Global Warming...
It was always about the carbon!
Okay, so is this natural product of breathing causing warming or cooling? Take a position and stay there, please!

09 January 2010

Precious Metals @ 8 January, 2010

Not that you've noticed, but due to all the commotion... L.A. and several points between, I've been tardy in staying on top of my precious metals posts. My last post on the subject cited the market close on 18 December.
Here's the 8 January update:
Gold closed at $1138.70, up from $1112.00 three weeks ago.
Silver closed at $18.51, up from $17.32 at that time.
Both metals are higher than they have been for the last couple weeks... experts indicating they were pushed down during my hiatus due to profit-taking.

Today's unemployment numbers are ugly.
Housing numbers have been revised downward.
GM just got another massive infusion of taxpayer cash.

Not concerned? Please give me any reason to be optimistic.

"These negotiations will be conducted on C-Span!"...
The media is finally catching on that "Bozama truth" means whatever he wants it to mean.
The start of the rough ride I've been anxious about may be just around the corner.

08 January 2010

ZING!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Stealth Care Reform
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

"Atlas Shrugged"

Tonight the Fox Business Channel will re-run the John Stossel
"Atlas Shrugged" program they aired last evening, (10 Eastern, 9 Central).
I wasn't aware it was on last night...

Work permitting, I'll be in the viewing audience tonight.
How 'bout you?
More here.

"Do You Have Your 'Phone?"

That's normally the last question she asks me as I go out the door to work.
(And if she doesn't ask, inevitably she'll hear my cell phone ring in the next room when she tries to call me.)

I don't really care if my phone can take pictures. I don't need it to wake me. I'll keep track of my own anniversary, thank you veddy much. I just wish my phone would efficiently do what I bought it to do... transmit and receive telephone calls so I'm not continually asking "Can you hear me now?", or "Are you still there?"

This thing looks a little bulky, but at $200 or so the price is right and a smaller version is probably just around the corner. If something similar is always strapped to my wrist the last question she'll be asking as I go out the door will be "Do you have the communicator for your watchphone?"
And another thought...
Will we now have to start worrying about wrist cancer?

HT-Instapundit.

07 January 2010

Small Numbers. Sad Numbers.

Two (BR).
Six (OVC).
Four (Fatal).

Calm winds. Two miles visibility reported at the airport.
(But what was the vis. at the accident scene?)
Six Hundred overcast.
Night- 8:40 P.M.
Four people dead.
What is so important that you have to fly in such weather?

06 January 2010

Universal Health Care- A Question

Almost no one likes this health care bill.
Liberals I read don't like it because it doesn't cover enough, or because it doesn't have a "government option".
Government option? !!
Yeah... those supporting the "government option" claim insurance companies need bureaucrats in there pulling levers and flipping switches in order to "promote competition".
Boneheads.
I've got a personal story along those lines, and I'll discuss government competing against private industry at some point in the future...

Let's just say... government doesn't have to make a profit and therefore CANNOT compete fairly.

Back to my point...
If you come here often you know my Dad died in 2003 of lung cancer at the age of 81. He had worked all his life... he told us stories about riding his bicycle as a kid, delivering telegrams for Western Union.

While in his early 20's he went off to war in the Pacific with an Infantry Division in WWII, then came home and was fully employed until he retired at age 62.
He was pretty much a life-long smoker. I think there's just no way to determine what effect almost 70 years of medicating yourself with nicotine and tar will have on your body, but we can guess from my Dad's experience that it can cause you to be short of breath due to emphysema, then cause you to have several unexplainable incidents which, while being investigated, expose the fact you have Stage 4 lung cancer.

Two years or so before Dad died he developed macular degeneration. Though I had never heard of it, we are now seeing ads about it on TV, so it must be a fairly common ailment. Although not rendering him totally blind in the affected eye, Dad described it as "Like someone covering that eye's focus point with a "big fuzzy dot". We've since discovered that smoking is a big risk factor for the disease.

They treated Dad for macular degeneration, telling him it wouldn't cure his problem but might slow its progression and might improve his vision slightly. The treatment was expensive...
As I recall, it was $2,000.
It didn't work. But for some reason they thought another treatment might help, so they did it again...
Another $2,000.

I tell you this story to illustrate why I think this pending bill will doom health care in this country. My Dad paid for health insurance his entire life. He also contributed to our government "Ponzi scheme", Social Security, from the time he was a very young man. I don't begrudge him or others like him the costs they incur as their health fails.
But those costs!!!
Emphysema. Macular degeneration. A slow deterioration due to lung cancer...
I'm frightened to think of the expenses Dad accrued during his last years due to investigation, diagnosis, treatment, hardware/equipment, and pain control.

Now consider-
We intend to give health care to EVERYONE?
Heroin addicts diagnosed with Hepatitis C... we'll give them the best treatment possible, no matter the cost?
The same for smokers with smoking related diseases?
Obese patients... are we gonna smile as we replace their knees and hip joints? What about high blood pressure meds? And of course there is obesity related diabetes....
Do we intend to cover ALL the health-care costs for EVERYONE... even those with mostly self-inflicted problems?

No, in spite of the idealists out there who will argue otherwise, we cannot give everyone the treatment they will need. The budget for universal health care will necessarily mean some, like my Dad, won't be getting two-$2,000 treatments for macular degeneration at that late stage of life. Some bureaucrat with the intellect of say,
Joe Biden
, will sit in judgment and decide who will be treated, and who won't. (And of course politics and the corruption we are now experiencing will play a part too. Welcome to Socialist medicine, Komrade!)


Will they ram this bill through?
I'm sorry to say, at this point I'm fearful they will.
Have your pitchforks and torches handy.

04 January 2010

Someone Is Terrified of This Video:

BZ posted it and suggested it had been taken down twice at his site. (His link wouldn't work for me.)
I searched and found a working link...
Check it while you can.
(Now my link isn't working either. Try watching here. )
UPDATED UPDATE:
Try the video. It worked for me this morning.

03 January 2010

Cold Temperatures And Flying

She asked, "How does the cold affect the helicopter?"
Then she was surprised when I said, "To a point, the colder it gets, performance-wise, the better."
Do you know why?
Do you know why, for a helicopter, the power requirements for a given performance level begin to increase again at a certain point as the temperature drops? (But that is a COLD, COLD temperature!)
UPDATED-
In the comments, ddf says:
speed of sound (m/s) = 331.5 + 0.60 T(°C)

The speed of the advancing blade must be kept below .92 mach 1.

And he's right. Remember, helicopters have many parts not flying at the same speed as the airframe.

Back while I was still flying Hueys for the ARMY, I had put in a request on my "Dream Sheet" for an assignment to Alaska. Having heard from others about the severe temperatures they encountered there, I was reviewing the performance charts in the UH-1 operator's manual. I noticed the "required power" to hover "in ground effect" at a certain altitude went down until the temperature reached -40 degrees, (coincidentally the point at which the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales join), and then markedly increase. The reason?
At that temperature, the 48' 3" diameter rotor of the Huey begins to experience the effect of "compressibility" related to approaching Mach 1. (Read the "Forward Speed" portion of the article here. ) As temperature drops, the speed necessary to reach Mach 1 also drops because the air molecules are packed closer together and transmit sound more efficiently.

More modern helicopters have shorter rotor blades, so we can assume the temperature would have to drop even further to experience this phenomena because their advancing blade tip speed is lower, but the principle would still apply.
So...
Colder is better for performance in the helicopter, but only to a certain point.

02 January 2010

"Elegant Senior Living"

My mother is 84. In the 1950's our family Doctor prescribed diuretics for her, and we have since found out he should have prescribed Potassium supplements to take with them. Her heart was damaged, and she had her first pacemaker installed when she was 58. She is a tough bird, and is in better physical and mental health than anyone expected her to be at this time.

She lives by herself in a home for Seniors in Pensacola, Florida.
Enter the front door and you'll see a Grand piano, two fireplaces and a sitting area in the foyer. The premises also has a billiard room, indoor swimming pool, theater, workout room, dining area in addition to kitchenettes in individual rooms, and a putting course out back. The sign out front says "Elegant Senior Living" and it's true... I wouldn't mind living there myself if I could afford it.
This is not a nursing home... you're really supposed to be self-sustaining in order to live there. Still, people get older every day, and she's had some interesting "age related" stories to tell.
This morning she emailed me one:


THE FURTHER SAGA OF LIFE IN THE OLD FOLKS HOME.
Ok , it is 3:45 on the first night of the new year.
I have been up watching the ball and Pelican drop with other friends in the common area on the second floor.Have gone to bed and am asleep when my squeaking door opens and closes waking me up. A little scared but I try to go back to sleep when my squeaking door really opens and the light from the hall shines in... I say "who is there" and a man's voice says " how do I get out of here?" I say " you don't need to get out of here" because I can see by his silhouette that it is a decrepit old man that I could knock over with a feather. He has boxer shorts and t-shirt and nothing else on... has a cane and a twisted knee. I recognize him as the man who lives around the corner in the hall, so I try to take him back to his apartment but it is locked up tight . Nobody else on the first floor is awake. He says " I woke up and I was in the wrong bed", so I told him to go lie down on the couch in the common area of the first floor and I go back to bed. I lay there still with my heart beating 'til it hurts for a few minutes and worried that he might get out the front door that opens automatically and not be able to get back in so I get up and go check to see that he is on the couch and he is, so I come back to my apartment and call the nurse on the 3rd floor and they come down and unlock his door and put him to bed. I go back to bed but can't get to sleep until it is daylight. I missed breakfast .
I don't want to do that again.
Never a dull moment.

Los Angeles- Las Vegas- Little Rock- La Casa

I wake on the mattress on the floor in the living room of Big Bubba's apartment. My legs are still sore from way too many trips up and down the stairs, but my feet and back no longer ache. During the evening, Big Bubba found the box with the coffee maker and has not only set it up to make a half-pot, but has gotten up before me to push the button for it to brew manually... this machine has no timer. For a non-coffee drinker, he has made a pretty good pot of Joe.

Cuppa in my left hand, I leash Desi up and let him lead me by my right to get his morning ritual done. Back in the apartment I look at my watch and realize we have about 15 minutes to make it to the airport if I want to be there an hour before my flight.
I needn't have worried. Even in morning traffic, with my E-Ticket in hand I'm at my gate a full forty minutes before takeoff time. The flight to Las Vegas, where I'm supposed to change airplanes for my home airport, arrives 15 minutes early.

"Wheel... Of... Fortune!" cries the bank of slot machines near the gate, and it continues calling attention to itself that way by repeating the phrase every 20 seconds or so. It's 9:30 A.M., and only about half the machines are being used. Folks walking to their gates stop by to drop a few last coins into the machines before boarding their airplanes. VEGAS, BABY!
I have a 90 minute wait for my flight home, so I have the time to get a bite to eat. In addition to the slot machines, the concourse has lots of places to eat and drink... many of them national chains. I stop at "Wendy's" and get a Buffalo Chicken nugget combo, which, because we're in Las Vegas, probably costs nearly twice what it would in Indianapolis. I take my food to my gate to eat it there. The gal at the gate picks up her microphone and says, "Ladies and Gentlemen waiting to board flight YYY to XXXXXXX, this flight may be overbooked. I'm asking for volunteers to be bumped should that be the case. We'll make it worth your while by refunding you the one-way price of your ticket and I'll add $100 to that in the form of a travel voucher." I was in no rush. I volunteered. They later asked for more volunteers and added another $100 to the offer, so when I got my voucher it was for a total of $446.00 toward future travel on Southwest Airlines. (I have heard there are folks that are near-professionals at this, booking travel on holidays in hopes of being bumped. I can now see why!)
My new flight makes another stop in Little Rock before I finally take off for home.

The airplane to Little Rock arrives late because of weather delays in Portland Oregon(?), but I board and it doesn't have an effect on my trip home. I walk to my parked car in light rain, with temperatures 30 degrees lower than those I experienced leaving L.A.. (And THAT'S partly why people live there, right? :>)

What a trip! The review-
I worked 7 nights in a row at my job, then left for L.A. the morning I got off work with Desi the Dachshund in tow. Together, with weather delays, we spend more than 12 hours in airplanes and airports to get to Phoenix, arriving at near-bedtime. I wake early next morning to become a pack animal, carrying stuff down a flight of stairs, then 150 feet to a waiting moving van. After 7 hours of up/down and hiking, we go out to eat, then sleep on the floor. Up early the next morn, we finish packing and I drive 6+ hours to L.A., then three hours more of across/up/down with boxes until the truck is empty. I'm dyin'! Sleep on the floor. Wake to help do "the furniture shuffle" all day. Go out to eat, then back on the floor for 6 hours sleep. Wake and do "the airport rodeo" all day. Does it make ya tired to read it? It sure made me tired to do it!

But Big Bubba is safely in L.A. and has already started his job. Over the phone he sounds happier than he has in months, and there simply is no way for a parent to put a price tag on that sound.
I'm glad I was part of it.
I'm glad it's done.
Vacation anyone?

01 January 2010

2009, A Personal Review

Does it seem to you 2009 passed quickly? It's been an odd year for me, and although I've been busier than I'd like, from my viewpoint the year hasn't passed quickly. There are normally four pilots assigned to my base at my EMS job. Two pilots work 12 hours/7 days, then two pilots work the next seven while the others take that week off. Working 7 in a row can be tiring sometimes, depending on flight frequency and weather, but being able to take seven days off without using vacation is wonderful. But with the exception of a short stint for a couple months this year, there's been a problem at our workplace for a little over a year now... we've been short a pilot at our base. Obviously, that means we've had to change our schedule dramatically. We've gone to six-day shifts, working days one shift, nights the next, with a three day break in between. The result is that instead of our normal 42 hour workweek, we end up working 56 hours per week. Yes, that extra time is at time-and-a-half, which means my W-2 will be fat this year. But the three days off between shifts leaves little time for travel, and taking vacation puts a real burden on the remaining pilots who are already working 56 hours/week. It's been hard, and there's no end to it in sight right now.

The year has been a mixed bag for our family.
We remain healthy, thank God. My son lost his full-time job early in 2009 and was fortunate to have several part-time jobs to keep his head above water. The new year finds him going back to work at a job he's THRILLED with, although it required a move to Los Angeles... a place I'm convinced people only live because they are stuck there. (I joke, sorta.)

Sara Jean has now been a self-employed house-cleaner for almost thirty years. She loves her work and the people she works for, and the business allows her to mold her schedule around mine when we want to travel. Her hands and wrists are beginning to cause her trouble. I'm sure what she is experiencing is repetitive-task injury, and I'm just as sure she'll have trouble with arthritis or some other joint problem as she ages. We are having to take a close look at the possibility of her retirement and the impact that will have on our finances.

I have always been outspoken. I'm warned by superiors that I can be "intimidating" to fellow employees. I accept that as true. I'm getting old, but I've been flying helicopters 42 years now and I do my job well. I get angry with those that don't do their job well, don't do their job enthusiastically, and those that impede me from doing my job well. I've analyzed this situation for years and have come to accept the fact that I'm just a complete JERK, socially. I forgive myself for that. The election of Bozama was a trigger for me, and this year I decided to take one more step...
My life is growing short, and I don't intend to allow idiots to degrade it... (please note, the above work schedule has focused my mind on "quality time"). Be an idiot in my presence and I'll do my best to make you go away. Henceforth, to the extent I can, I intend to enjoy my life by sharing it only with non-idiots. This means many so called "friends", family, and acquaintances will be on probation until they find the "Non-Idiot" button. The results of this action? You'd be amazed at how my blood pressure has dropped.

So what does the future hold? Regular readers know I'm worried. Our country's leadership is doing everything it possibly can to devalue our currency. They seem to be doing everything they can to punish wage-earners and reward strap-hangers. They are making it as difficult as possible to keep work here in the U.S. by increasing taxes and passing stupid regulations to increase the cost of doing business. I think talk of an improving economy is a lie. I think talk of an improving housing market is a lie. I think we are in big, BIG trouble and it is just a question of time before "difficulties" start. If this health care catastrophe passes, the damage may be irreversible.
I continue to "Hope for the best, while planning for the worst."

And to that extent, I'm surrounding myself with true friends, and separating myself from idiots.
How 'bout you?

UPDATED, 2 JANUARY-
Theo nails it!