30 November 2010

High And Low

We were excited as Thanksgiving approached.
Big Bubba was coming home. And we've established a tradition...
Desi flies home with him on Thanksgiving and stays with us through Christmas so BB saves on one airfare for him and it gives us a chance to love on him for a month or so. We were looking forward to watching the "pack dynamic" that would develop in the three dogs... Desi, Lucy, and Yogi.

BB's flight home was actually on Thanksgiving day and he was working Wednesday. BB manages a warehouse in L.A. and is fortunate to be able to take Desi to work with him. The workers there and all the vendors that come and go know and love Desi, (as does anyone who meets him... he's a hugger and loves attention). Desi normally snuggles up in a blanket next to BB's desk. Big Bubba had returned from a trip to another venue with Desi alongside and had come back to his workplace, Desi leading the way back to the desk, when BB got intercepted by a distraction. When BB got to his desk, no Desi.
The door was open, so BB quickly went and looked left and right... no Desi.
Panic time. The warehouse is in an area with busy two and three lane thoroughfares on all sides.
Every worker in the warehouse was activated for the search. All were looking at the streets, hoping they wouldn't see a little black, bloody blob there.
No Desi. (And through an oversight, he was wearing no collar.)

The search continued for a couple hours before BB resigned himself to making up posters with Desi's photo...
"Lost Dog"
Reward. Call **********
And then he called us to tell us the news.

Is it stupid to invest so much love and emotion in an animal?
We were devastated.
Desi wouldn't be coming home for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving morning BB checked his email to see if there was a response to his "Craigslist" post. Finding none, he dejectedly went to the airport alone.
It tainted the joy of his homecoming for everyone. We were overjoyed to have him here, but we knew if we were missing Desi, BB's thoughts had to be ten times what ours were.

The next few days were more of the same... joy mixed with sadness. Sara Jean had resigned herself to the fact Desi was gone. I refused to do that....
"He's wandered off before and someone found and returned him. That's gonna happen again."

Yesterday I came home from work exhausted after having flown all night. I went to sleep at 10 A.M. hoping to sleep well until about 4 P.M..
At 1 P.M. BB woke me...

"THEY FOUND DESI!!!"
I'm normally irritated by being awakened early, but obviously this was different...
"WONDERFUL!"

BB's workplace is not far from where he lives. Desi decided he was going home and actually had made it to an apartment complex enroute and was passing by as one of the tenants was leaving his apartment. The tenant called to him and Desi, gadfly that he is, immediately responded.
Desi spent the Thanksgiving holiday with this guy and had a great time...
The tenant had actually given Desi a new name in case a rightful owner didn't show up...
His new name was "Max".

Yesterday morning the tenant went for a walk in the neighborhood, saw one of BB's posters hanging on a utility pole, and called.
Of course we're rejoicing...
For two reasons...
We've got our fur-grandkid back, and...
There are still damned fine, honest people in this world.

Thank you God for an answered prayer!

27 November 2010

25 November 2010

Give Thanks, Everyone!

Cancer is an ugly thing. It used to be a sure death sentence. But more and more we're finding ways to make it go away, especially if found and treated in the early stages.
This country has Cancer. We've watched in denial as the tumor grew, and grew, and grew.

This month's "shellacking" of big spenders is an indication a majority of voters have suddenly realized the severity of the problem. The only question?
Is it too late to cure the Cancer?

Treating Cancer is painful.
Surgery. Chemotherapy. Radiation.
No matter the treatment, the patient suffers.
And sometimes, after the passage of time and considerable suffering, the patient still dies.

I love my country.
I've watched fearfully as we denied this economic Cancer was growing.
Have our eyes been opened?
Do we have the discipline to continue striving for a cure, in spite of the pain we'll suffer killing the disease?
I hope so.

Big Bubba is on his way from L.A. and will be here this evening.
We've invited two Navy Trainees to share dinner and the weekend with us. There will be lively conversation, laughter, and joy beneath our roof.
And I'm thankful we still live in a country where this can happen... a country that still produces young people willing to raise their right hands and sign that "blank check".

The election was a great first step...
Let's cure this disease. We can do it!
We still live in the best country on the face of the earth.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

23 November 2010

A Puzzle Solved-

There are two radio-alarm clocks in our bedroom, one on each side of the bed. We actually began to wonder if they had learned to read time. At 0715 hours each morning, (plus or minus about five minutes), both dogs begin the "stare and licking game" to wake us. It was uncanny...
Were their full bladders nearly as good at keeping time as our digital clocks? We found that hard to believe, but what other answer could there be? We discussed the possibilities and came up with bupkus. We finally just shrugged our shoulders and accepted it as a fact of life...
We don't understand it, but there it is...
We don't need an alarm to wake us. The dogs do that job nearly perfectly...
Until Saturday morning.

We came home late Friday night after dining out and shopping. It had been a long day. I walked the dogs that final time of the evening, then found my wife comfortably horizontal with the bedclothes pulled up beneath her chin. The dogs joined her immediately. Two minutes later I was there too. We were all asleep within minutes.

Bright sunshine...
I checked the time on the alarm...
Eight A.M.! What the... ?
What happened to our canine alarm clocks?
And then we realized what was going on.
The riddle was solved.

When I walked the dogs Friday night, Sara Jean made a bee-line for the bed. When I came in the door she called downstairs, "Can you fix the coffee for tomorrow morning?"
And I forgot it.
The timer on the pot brews coffee at 0700. The entire brewing process takes about ten minutes until the pot makes that sputtering sound all coffee drinkers know so well. The dogs were keying on that, knowing we normally rise and shine pretty quickly after the coffee has brewed.
In effect, the coffee pot became their alarm clock. When I didn't set it for Saturday morning, they overslept.

Again I'm amazed...
How do you measure intelligence?
That seems pretty smart to me!

22 November 2010

Exercising Motorcycles

I'll tell you what I did today, then you give me your thoughts-

It's a gusty, cloudy 72 degrees outside...
Not totally out of the ordinary for November here, but these days come few and far between.
I pushed all three bikes out of the garage onto the drive and started them all. Once they were all warmed sufficiently to run without the application of choke I left the two 'Wings idling and rode Pizza bike eight miles, including a blast down the highway to click my way through all five gears up to (ahem...), highway speed.
I brought the Guzzi back home, left it idling, mounted the '89 'Wing, and did the same thing on it.
Then while the Guzzi and newer 'Wing idled I did the same thing with the '87 Interstate. All three bikes ran/idled for 30 minutes before I shut them down and put them back under roof.

I know it is important to allow an engine to warm enough to boil moisture out of the oil, and running them for 30 minutes should also be enough to recharge drained batteries.
But is there a better way to accomplish my mission than doing it this way?

Can Do!



"You might be a redneck if... ":
Like me, you'd enjoy getting to know this guy.

18 November 2010

Does The Job Require A Strong Stomach?

I'm never asked that question directly.
Instead, folks will say something to the effect, "I'm not sure I could do your job."
Funny...
When I started I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it either.
Me and my crews see some ghastly things.
An example:

About the time I started the job we launched late one Fall night for an accident scene. This was "back in the day" when weather reporting was MUCH sketchier than it is today, and when we got away from the heat island of the city the temperature dropped and I began to notice fog rapidly forming and spreading beneath me. I called the waiting ambulance and informed them I was aborting the flight, and asked if they wanted to drive the patient to us somewhere that fog wouldn't be a factor. They declined and said they'd just transport the patient to the nearest facility for care.

I then called my dispatch and told them we were headed home, and why.
They responded, "We have another flight for you. Can you make it to ********town? "
(This was on high ground and would be no problem.)
"Yes, we can do that. Go ahead with your report."
"Your patient is a pedestrian, struck by a car. He has severe facial trauma. Your ground contact there is Unit ****."

State troopers closed each end of the highway and allowed me to land immediately behind the ambulance. My crew walked our stretcher over while I secured the aircraft controls, then walked over to watch them work.
Ya can't prepare yourself for this...
The guy was drunk, walking home. He passed out ON THE ROADWAY, just over the crest of a hill. The vehicle that hit him may not have even seen him. It struck his face just below the eyes, destroying his nose, mouth, and jaw, and the tissue there looked exactly like the ruptured abdomen of an opossum or raccoon lying in a heavily trafficked roadway.
Conscious now, his eyes were pleading... "I can't breathe!"
My crew was frantically trying to find his airway in this mass of destroyed tissue so they could insert a breathing tube. They failed.
I watched as the life slowly drained from him.
It's the stuff of nightmares. It bothered everyone... later.

But people are gonna continue to hurt themselves in strange and wonderful ways. I've been at this job 24 years now, and I'm still amazed that our ingenious customers can find new scenarios in the "self destruction" repertoire.
And when they get hurt, someone has to have the stomach to transport them to the help they need. That's our job. Most of the time it's not too bad. But sometimes (like with kids), you have to tell yourself, "Do the job. You can cry later."

Could you do my job?
Yeah, I think most of you could.
'Cause someone has to.

16 November 2010

Deadly Weapons

In a comment at the post below readers discuss having had nail clippers taken away from them at airport screening points so they could not be used as weapons on the flight.
Yet as others have pointed out, there is an axe on board the airplane for emergency use, and even a Bic ballpoint pen or plastic cutlery could probably be used as a deadly weapon if someone was able to file a sharp point on it.

But the discussion made me think of a story from long ago...
Over drinks one evening a female friend told a group of us at a party about the time she was home alone and heard a noise at the back of her house. The fact that her Irish Setter alerted to the noise raised her heart-rate and blood pressure. She walked toward the back door of the house, dog leading the way, and passed through her utility room where she armed herself with the closest weapon she could find... a twirler's baton.
(She taught baton-twirling professionally).
At which point I asked, "What did you intend to do... TWIRL HIM TO DEATH?!!"

I'm betting a twirler's baton is another item that would not be allowed in hand-carried luggage!

Open Note To The Airlines-

How badly do you want to stay in business?
Gauging the current furor I get the impression others feel as I do-
I WILL NOT go through TSA scanners.
I WILL NOT ALLOW TSA employees to grope my wife.

Want my business again?
GET THIS FIASCO UNDER CONTROL!

14 November 2010

Baa-aaa-aaack Ache

I woke Wednesday morning and felt an almost electric shock as I started to roll out of bed...
Uh-oh. If I'm not really careful I'm gonna be disabled today.

I inherited the potential for back trouble from my Dad. I can remember knowing how much his back was hurting him just by watching the way he walked. I can also remember him lying on his back on our hardwood floor while my Mom would lean over him, slowly pushing his knees toward his chest in an attempt to try to stretch and straighten his vertebrae. (That exercise must have given him some relief 'cause I can remember them doing it many times.)

Thank God I don't have the kind of troubles he had. But I do get warnings from my back now and then and I've also learned what I need to do when I receive those warnings.
But Wednesday was a puzzle.
What had I done to strain my back?

And then the light bulb went off.
Monday I rode the '87 Goldwing into Bigtown. I rented the truck and loaded the bike in the back, then drove the truck home and unloaded the big bike.

Tuesday I drove several hours to pick up the '89 Goldwing. Noticeably bigger and heavier than the '87, the newer bike has "carburetor issues" and runs rough off-idle to 3000 rpm.
I had to push the heavy monster up the ramp manually. It was a scary process. Unloading the bike at home was somewhat easier... gravity did most of the work, but I still had to make sure the bike was balanced on the ramp as we backed it off the truck to its new home.


So there you have it...
Trying to "Hoss" two 800-pound motorcycles in and out of a Van exercised muscles that may have been idle for years...
Muscles I certainly had forgotten were there until Wednesday morning.

Yoga practitioners will tell you "You're as young as your back is old".
Wednesday morning reminded me I've been neglecting my body.
It's time to ease back into my old ARMY "Daily Dozen" and loosen up those muscles!

13 November 2010

Moscow Commute



Moscow also has a "Ghostrider"?
This is just insanity.
But look at all that traffic!
The economy is obviously doing pretty well there.

11 November 2010

Abducted

On May 23, 1966 I was forced against my will to leave my home.
I was 19, and it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I was rounded together with 50 or so complete strangers, pushed into a bus, and transported to a facility miles away where I was mentally, physically, and verbally abused, had my head shaved, and was forced to wear ill-fitting, ugly clothing and eat uniformly bland food.

I was a draftee, conscripted to serve in my Uncle Sam's ARMY.

Thank God we don't do that anymore.
Thank God there are enough volunteers willing to raise their right hand and put their lives on the line for us.
Thank God for all the selfless women and men who have acted as our sword and shield.
There is NO WAY to repay them for our freedoms.

10 November 2010

But Is It Motorcycling?

I brought the (new to us) '89 Goldwing home last night in the back of a rented Penske truck.
Today I loaded Pizza bike into the truck, returned it, and rode home.
It was a glorious day. It was a GREAT ride. The bike "talks" to ya with its slight vibrations, intake howl, and exhaust note.

Shortly after I got home from returning the truck, Sara Jean came home.
She wanted to see how the newer Six-cylinder 'Wing differs from the older 4-cylinder bike. Our latest addition needed fuel, so she got aboard and we rode to top it off, giving me a chance to experience the stark differences between the Guzzi and the Goldwing.

I'm trying to come up with a comparison that tells the tale, and I think this statement comes close:
The Guzzi is a hammer.
The Goldwing is a pneumatic nailgun.

After refueling, on the way home I asked Sara Jean, "Is this actually motorcycling?"
She smiled and said "Of course".

I'm not so sure. The 'Wing is a wonderful machine.
But the Guzzi is a MOTORCYCLE!

09 November 2010

The Beginning?

Silver at the 15 October close: $24.34.
Silver at the spot market when I checked this morning:
$28.24.

You know I'm no economic expert. I just regurgitate here what my gut tells me is true...
But it seems to me that when it becomes obvious to the rest of the world how bankrupt we truly are, we're in for a wild financial roller coaster ride.
We all need to BE PREPARED!!

08 November 2010

The "Non" Vacation?

We had high hopes.
We were going South to spend 10 days in Destin. While there we'd spend 48 hours going farther South to watch the historic (maybe last?) launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, then we'd come back to Destin, bring my Mom from Pensacola to do further Pelican studies, and as my friend Old Prairie Dog puts it... "unlax".
We were SO looking forward to the break...
In addition to her full-time job, Sara Jean has been helping care for a dying neighbor/friend.
I haven't had a true break from work since May.

But life conspired against us.
The launch was delayed one day before we could even get in the car.
Six hours into the 8 hour drive the next day we heard the news of the second launch delay.
The only true bright spot in all this is the fact that we met and LOVED Mary Lou and Dan, or new best friends from Titusville. We spent two wonderful nights with them, and their Dachshund "Buddy" was every bit the fabulous host to Lucy and Yogi that his owners were to us!
When they announced another delay in the launch schedule we gave up and returned to Destin, (and had to change a destroyed tire along the way.)

The next day I bought a replacement tire and drove to Pensacola to get Mom. We had a nice, but WAY TOO SHORT visit with her.
Saturdy morning at 0430 Sara Jean's cell phone rang.
No good news can come from a call at that hour.
Our friend Norma had finally lost her battle. That news weighed, (and weighs) heavily on us.

Ten days that surely didn't turn out as we wanted.
We're home safely, but...
We need another vacation.



06 November 2010

Oops, I Did It Again!

There are two motorcycles in our garage... the Pizza Bike, and the '87 Goldwing.
Both are beautiful pieces of machinery, in much better-than-average shape and relatively low mileage. I bought the Guzzi before I realized Sara Jean would not be comfortable as a passenger on it. The Goldwing put a smile on her face and showed me what it was gonna take to fulfill my wish... to have her behind me on the bike sharing neat experiences.

It also opened my eyes to a few other things...
It's VERY heavy and difficult to maneuver at slow speed. You REALLY have to be careful maneuvering it into tight spots... like parking it in the garage.
It needs a reverse gear.
Newer 'Wings have a reverse gear.
So I just bought an '89 with reverse gear.

In addition to the reverse gear the new bike has two more cylinders and 300 more cc's.
It has a CB radio and an intercom system.
It has a stereo system that includes speakers in the rear armrests so SJ will hear better.

I'm working on details to bring the bike home as I write this. But I also know this:
I don't need two of the things!
Anyone interested in a perfectly serviceable 1987 Honda Goldwing in excellent condition?
Call me at BR 549.

04 November 2010

Dateline: Titusville, Florida, 4 November 2010



Yeah, the best laid plans...
We intended to come to Titusville Sunday night to view the Monday launch with newly-met friends. Tracking down and fixing a fuel leak canceled the launch Monday and the launch was rescheduled for Wednesday. We started driving South from Destin Tuesday morning to be rested for that Wednesday afternoon launch after spending the night with friends we have met here in Titusville via the internet. Six hours into that drive we heard the news the Wednesday launch had also been scrubbed due to electrical glitches.
No matter... that just gave us more time to get to know our new friends better.

I was introduced to Mary Lou by another virtual friend, Andrea Shea King. The world of helicopters is a small one. Mary Lou's brother Herb was killed while on a mission flying a helicopter gunship in November of 1969. Herb's unit was based at the South end of Chu Lai, the same base where I served my tour in Viet Nam. One of my close friends and flight-school buddy, Vic, was in Herb's unit and knew him well. Communicating with Mary Lou via email, I knew pretty much what to expect before she opened her door to welcome us into her beautiful home Tuesday evening.

We've had a great visit. I hope Mary Lou will be able to say the therapy she received from our visit was as healing as what I have felt while being here sharing memories and talking about mutual friends.

We took advantage of the day yesterday to go to Kennedy Space Center and walk around the museum there. If you are in this area and are interested in the Space program I heartily recommend the museum... you can easily spend an entire day there soaking up all the exhibits.

We went to bed last night expecting the launch to take place today (Thursday) at 1529 hours. This morning dawned gray and rainy and the forecast stinks, so they've scrubbed the launch once again and scheduled it for tomorrow.
We've run out of time. We'll be returning to Destin today, disappointed.

But we've gained wonderful new friends who have invited us to come back down for another try.
We'll certainly consider a drive down in the future for what may be, (please Lord, let our leaders realize what a mistake this is!), the last shuttle launch, in 2011.
Are we, as a country, really gonna do this?
We've been the world leader in Space exploration. Will we hand the baton to the Russians and Chinese with a smile?
I hope not.
If you agree, it's time to let your new Congress hear your thoughts!

01 November 2010

Liars. Cheaters.

We caught 'em lying about George Bush's National Guard record.
We've marveled in their bias ever since.
Now a media outlet in Alaska (CBS AGAIN!!) tries to lie/cheat about Republican Senate Candidate Joe Miller.

In Delaware, a TV station conveniently "forgets" to run Republican Christine O'Donnell's political spots.
These people are despicable.
They are nasty.
Would you want them for your next-door-neighbor?
Why would you want to vote for them?