30 December 2010

I Don't Think That Means What You Think

"Scumbag", the Pastor said at some point in his sermon.
Ohhhhkay...
You may as well have slapped me in the face.
I'm sure "despicable person" was his intended meaning.
But I'm also pretty sure he would not have used the term at all if he knew the secondary definition.

28 December 2010

He Gets It-

My cousin sent me the link to this video.
Several things about the video struck me-
He found a way to become a citizen the CORRECT way.
He decided to become a citizen after being impacted by those providing freedom to us all.
He's got a set of stones to be able to kid those guys the way he does without breaking into tears.
I couldn't do it.
I bet you couldn't either.
Tissue warning!

(Thanks Kathy.)

26 December 2010

Maggie The Cat



It's another of those movies I had never watched from start to finish.
But I watched it last night.
Did Elizabeth Taylor ever look better? Wowzer!
Like a fresh strawberry shortcake with whipped cream and a cherry on top, I watched as "Brick", Paul Newman's character, parried any advance "Maggie the Cat" made on him and wondered-
Does "Brick" ever get to taste that delightful dessert?

Do you remember how the movie ends?

25 December 2010

Blessed



Got a full belly?
I do.

It snowed most of the night and I drove home this morning in a beautiful, monochromatic world, having spent the night saying "NO" twice to calls asking me to venture out in below-minimums weather. I was reminded of the caution an old pilot relayed to me when I first started this job...
"Our customers need to be very careful of weather when they decide to get seriously hurt."

It's a 32 mile drive from workplace to home. At just after 7 A.M. I met five cars on the road in that distance, and was mindful that someone had been out with a snowplow early Christmas morning clearing that road so I could more safely drive home to my loved ones.
I am blessed.

Sara Jean and Big Bubba were both still in bed when I unlocked the door. The dogs all met me when I entered, three twelve-pounders jumping, licking, and nipping.
"Hi honey"... the sleepy voice from upstairs called down.
"Have the pups been out?"
"No."
Mr. Coffee had done his work at 0700, so I poured myself a fresh cup before inviting the three canines out into four inches of fresh snow. Low to the ground Dachshund Desi hates it and stays close to the house where the snow is thin. Lucy is more indifferent, venturing out to quickly get number one and number two taken care of. Yogi LOVES the snow... nose down like a plow, he takes off in a dead run, stopping now and then to investigate something, sniffing and snorting. When I turn to go back into the house announcing "Good doggies get TREATS!", Desi and Lucy stand at the front door waiting for me to grant them entrance. Yogi has to be further cajoled.
I stomp snow from my boots, then make my way to the treat jar to reward good pups.
We are blessed.

Coffee cup in hand, I sit in my recliner and turn on our TV which is attached to a receiver provided by Dish Network carrying more channels than anyone could have possibly imagined in my youth. I then turn on our Bose surround sound system. Having caught up on the news during my drive home I switch to channel 6004 and listen to "Traditional Holiday Music" in wonderful stereophonic fullness. My wife approaches, bends down to kiss me, covers me with a flannel wrap, then removes my boots.
I am blessed.

We chat.
Sara Jean and Big Bubba attended a friend's dinner party last evening. Sara Jean spent 6 hours in the kitchen yesterday baking cookies, then stirring chocolate and peanut butter fudge until it was a perfect consistency to take to this get-together.
I listen as she relates neighborhood goings-on. She and BB obviously had a good time socializing while I was at work last night. From this gathering she brought home more food than she took.
We are blessed.

At 0900 we woke Big Bubba and opened all our gifts... fewer this year than last, but the gifts we shared were nice and were also mostly tools and gadgets that will make our lives easier. When the wrapping paper finally stopped hitting the floor we all were wearing smiles.
We are blessed.

I napped in preparation for work tonight. SJ woke me this afternoon with a fresh cuppa. I sat up in bed and grabbed my laptop to read messages from near strangers and new and old friends via Facebook and email, wishing me and mine the happiest of holidays. And they MEAN it.
We are blessed.

"Dinner's on the table! C'mon down."
I dress and descend to a table covered with Turkey and all the normal fixin's.
Big Bubba offers a prayer of thanks for food, friends, loved ones, and warriors abroad protecting us.
"Amen" we all say.
We are blessed.

Back to work tonight, the helicopter is still in the hangar. It hasn't moved now in over 36 hours, making my preflight a pretty simple matter. We turn on "A Christmas Carol", this version starring George C. Scott. I watch as Scrooge comes to the realization that he is a fortunate soul and decides to (on his own!) provide for his less fortunate employees and neighbors. And I am once again reminded...
The world HAS changed.
Here in the U.S. at least, there is probably less hunger out there than ever before in our history.
But there ARE folks still homeless, cold, and hungry out there.

Our kitchen table at home is COVERED with food.
Our kitchen table here at work is COVERED with food.
There is SO MUCH FOOD I cannot imagine that some of it won't be wasted before being eaten.
WE ARE SO BLESSED.

Are we thankful?
Do we know how we got here, so rich we cannot imagine not having tables overloaded with food during this season?
I do.
My family does.
And my family also knows this condition may be temporary.
All the more reason to enjoy this bounty while we have it.
But this year I'm challenging myself and I'll gently challenge you too...
Look around you and find those who could use a helping hand, then offer it.

I fear we're approaching a time when we'll be spending A LOT more time taking care of one another.
And we'll still be blessed in many ways.

22 December 2010

3000... Finally?



I can't remember the form number...
DD-175? DA-175?
It's the form the ARMY kept to show details of flight time.
During my 22 years in the U.S. ARMY and Reserve I flew various models of the Huey-
The UH-1B,C,D,H,&M, along with a little time in the AH-1G Cobra.
When my ARMY wings were put away for good and I reviewed my records I was shocked when I looked at the total UH-1 time: 2,999 hours.
Does that number really mean anything? Of course not. But it would have been nice to tell others "I have 3,000 hours in Hueys" without fudging even that tiny bit.


Today I got a note from an old mechanic friend who knows my situation-
"GB, I'm gonna be changing the TT straps on '****'s' Huey in the Spring and wondered if you'd be interested in coming down to do the track and balance and test flight?"

Ha.
He knew my reaction before he pushed the "send" key.
He also knows I'd probably PAY to watch that big rotor blade cycle overhead again.

I suspect we'll fly about an hour.
(Are you ready Terry?)

21 December 2010

"Blinded By The Light"



The internet takes much of the fun out of trivial knowledge.
One of the things I have ALWAYS been VERY good at is remembering worthless crap.
At "Trivial Pursuit" I could (and did) individually take on groups of people and win.
Playing "trivia" is still fun in person, but is obviously impossible over the internet...
No information is secure from the search engine!

For some time, this tune was a favorite piece of trivial knowledge.
I've always liked it. Like most, I heard and enjoyed "Mannfred Mann's" version first, and because it pretty quickly becomes obvious the lyrics don't have much value to the song other than the fact that they fit into the rhythm and rhyme, it was easy to make up my own words if those coming out of the speakers weren't clear.
YEARS after the Mannfred Mann version was a hit I was listening to an "Oldies" station and heard a familiar voice singing a song I had never heard him sing. As the song progressed an alarm went off in my head...
This is a different arrangement of a song you've heard before, but WHAT IS IT?!!
I was shocked when I finally realized he was singing "Blinded By The Light".
I was doubly shocked when I found out he had written it.

Now, DON'T CHEAT!
Do you know who wrote it?
You don't even need to go searching. I've done it for ya.
The composer, singing the version of the song that had me momentarily confused, is
here.

Be honest... did you know?
(And did you notice "Deuce", as in "Deuce Coupe", is spelled wrong in the video?! So is "Adolescent".)

19 December 2010

Time For Another Lefty To Go!

John Kerry.
Disgusting, liberal, elitist, tax-dodging, Viet Nam Veteran bashing scum.
In his January 31, 2005 "Meet The Press" interview with Tim Russert he promised he'd publicly release his miltary records so we could all know his discharge status.
That's six years ago.
Have you seen those records?
No. You haven't.
Why?

I'll tell you what I suspect and you tell me why I'm wrong...
John Kerry's military discharge was less than honorable.
There is some question as to whether that discharge was later mitigated by the odious Jimmy Carter.
I want to know.
I truly have doubts.
Like President(?) Barack Obama, is John Kerry eligible for the office he now holds?

Senator... follow up on your promise.
A.B.K...
Anyone But Kerry in 2012!

18 December 2010

Digital Camera Screwups

It has to be gremlins at work. How else can you explain the photo/video button on my camera being pushed over to the "video" selection? I DIDN'T DO IT!
But it happens now and then, and some of the results are interesting. It's helped me decide I need to do more video.
This Spring in Destin I had a chance to take photos of a beautiful gal alongside a beautiful dog, and got a mini-video before I realized I needed to put that darned switch in the correct position. Here is the result:

video

17 December 2010

Viva Mexico!

As you know, our son lived in Arizona for a couple years. I moved him to the Los Angeles Metro. area in January. Going out to visit with him there is revealing-
In both places he has lived, there are areas you can imagine you no longer live in the United States.
Not being able to speak Spanish in certain stores has become problematic.
This saturation of immigrants, whether legal or illegal, has lead me to wonder out loud,
"If they wanted to live in Mexico, why did they leave Mexico?"
And then I remember...
We stole Southern California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and parts of Colorado, and they are simply taking back what is theirs.

Like much of the rest of the country, California is bankrupt, but Fornicalia affords us the benefit(?) of being at the vanguard of the meltdown, so the rest of us can watch what happens there to see what we'll be experiencing soon.
And I'm also wondering...
How different are we, the United States, from Mexico these days?
What REALLY separates us from our neighbor to the South?

With a couple exceptions, I've never had any desire to visit Mexico.
I suppose I'd enjoy visiting the Mayan ruins there, but the rest of the country? Meh.
We have beaches and resorts just as beautiful as any in Mexico, and I have no fear here of some bandido waking me in the middle of the night wanting me to empty the contents of my wallet.
Yeah, I know... that sort of event is unlikely in the "resort areas", at least right now. But the reason it's not likely is because those resort areas are paying someone to insure bandidos don't bother the tourists.

So how are we REALLY different?
Our law enforcement system is different.
Our cops are not corrupt.
Our Judges are not corrupt.
If you screw up, you have an expectation of being treated fairly within our borders.

But imagine with me please...
State economies are failing.
Local budgets will be impacted.
Police forces will be cut back, or personnel may be asked to take reductions in pay.
How do those people continue their standard of living?
How do they keep their babies fed and clothed?
Do we become like Mexico?

It's another of those scenarios you may point to in a few years and ridicule me...
"Ha Greybeard! You were such an alarmist!"
And I really hope that is the case.

13 December 2010

Mitigating Risks

***** Community Airport, Automated Weather Observation-
0-6-1-1 Zulu Weather-
Wind 3-0-0 at 1-3, Peak Gust 1-niner,
Visibility 1-0
Clear below 1-2 thousand
Temperature minus 1-2 Celsius,
Dew Point minus 1-7.
Altimeter 3-0-1-0.

When I left work this morning the helicopter was safely in the hangar.
It was snowing. Ceilings and visibilities were below our flying minimums and the temperature was just below freezing.

The snow stopped just as my shift started tonight but the temperature has been dropping all day. I've left the machine in the hangar and notified my dispatchers to add 10 minutes response time to any call that might come in so we can push the bird out.
That minus 12 celsius temperature converts to ten degrees fahrenheit, but the sky is clearing so that's probably not our coldest temp. of the shift.
If the telephone rings it will be decision time...
How cold is too cold?

We take this job knowing there are inherent risks and we accept those while trying our best to mitigate them. But the fact of the matter is that there are situations that could present themselves where even a successful landing after an emergency could put me, my crew, and a patient at risk...
Loss of transmission oil pressure is one of them.
The book says, "Land as soon as possible".
Under the best of circumstances I'd let my dispatchers know I was landing, relaying a set of coordinates so they could get help on the way.
But what if that landing is in a place where it's difficult for ground vehicles to reach us?
We're dressed warmly, but how comfortable will we be under those circumstances if the temperature continues to drop? And what about the patient?
Thirteen knots of wind gusting to 19 knots is gonna suck the heat out of the helicopter's living area pretty quickly.


When I made my "check-in" call to dispatch tonight I warned them-
"I won't be taking any long flights tonight due to the cold. I'll probably decline any flights longer than 30 minutes."
That restriction will keep me fairly close to towns, roads, and help if necessary.

Old pilots and bold pilots...
I'm no longer bold.


10 December 2010

Room For One More?



Almost there.
I'm getting fairly comfortable with my arsenal. If your intent is to bring harm to my family I can "reach out and touch you" from long, medium, short, and VERY SHORT distances.

I actually did something that caused me some pause a couple weeks ago...

I had two revolvers in .357 caliber, both with relatively short barrels.
I carried the one with the longer barrel in a shoulder holster when I was a Deputy flying the Bell 47 more than 30 years ago. Fellow fling-winger Dan heard I might sell one of my .357's and expressed interest. I decided
to hang on to the more concealable of the two magnums and sold him my old service piece. It hurt a little to give it up, but I had just bought the Glock 26 for Sara Jean and two .357's seemed like one too many.

I have/had a "belly gun", a Freedom Arms five-shot revolver in .22 Magnum. Sara Jean saw it and it immediately became HER belly gun.
So I'm back in the market for one and will accept whatever advice you can give.


I'm considering the derringer pictured above, the Bond Arms "Snake Slayer".
It's chambered for either the .410 shot-shell or .45 Long Colt, and would serve as a good "give me time to get to my bigger handgun" piece.
Anyone have experience with them, personally or indirectly?
I might have to deal with some "snakes" soon.

09 December 2010

Effin' "F" Key!

My son Big Bubba works in the audio-visual world. His work requires tons of bits and bytes, and he can't sit around and wait for things to happen. He therefore pretty much has to be out on the leading edge of things technical. In pursuit of the "latest and greatest" he buys a new laptop at least every couple years. I get the "hand-me-downs".

The last of these was a Dell Inspiron, on which I'm typing the note you are now reading. It has a 17 inch monitor and the most unbelievably loud, clear speakers I have ever heard on a laptop.
I love the thing, (except it's a pain when traveling).

Three months ago my fingers started catching on the F key. Now and then they'd catch solidly enough that that key would depart the keyboard. I'd curse under my breath, stop what I was doing, find the key and re-attach it by snapping it into place. About a month ago it popped off and wouldn't snap all the way home, meaning it stuck up and interfered with my fingers even more than usual. After the fourth time in one hour of chasing it down and snapping it (nearly) back in place I gave up and left it off. I'm amazed...
With it gone the keyboard looks weird, the spring and locking mechanism beneath the key are now exposed, but when I'm typing I notice absolutely NO difference!

I've begun to wonder though...
When passers-by notice my "F" key is missing, will they think I wore it out?!!
(And I guess the followup question is, did I?!!)

08 December 2010

Home Grown Terror

Another "U.S. Citizen" arrested for an attempted terror act.
It truly is just a question of time until one of these people acts without unsuspectingly getting involved with the FBI and succeeds.
Their targets will be big crowds.
Be aware and be alert.

05 December 2010

Places?

There is an "Inferior Cul-de-sac". Is there also a "Superior Cul-de-sac"?

Do females feel slighted because there is a "Bundle of His", but apparently there is no "Bundle of Hers"?

Inquiring minds want to know.

02 December 2010

Silver, Gold, and The Hunt Brothers




My first wife (wisely) left me in 1976. When she left she took almost all our community property, my dog included. Most of what she left behind required a monthly payment... mainly the house, which was at a location where neither of us wanted to live.

I moved out and was fortunate to immediately find good renters to move in.
When I finally made the decision to sell the home in 1978 the renters bought it. I found myself with $10,000 cash in my hand and the need to put that money to work.

I had been investing in Mutual Funds for years with some success and thought about adding this money to one of my funds. But the very week the 10k fell into my hands I got a tip from a friend...
"Gold is gonna explode!"

I had a trusted friend in my ARMY Reserve unit that made his living as a stock broker...
"Hey Jim, whatd'ya think about investing this money in gold?"
At the time, gold was trading in the area of $240/oz. He responded, "Gold is at near-record highs. I'd be frightened to tell you to put that money there."

Cautioned, I invested the money in CD's, which at the time were paying about 8%. I then sat back and watched as gold climbed steadily to just over $825/oz., and wished I had listened more carefully to what my gut was telling me.
Now we're sorta in a similar situation. Every other commercial on TV exhorts us to "BUY GOLD!" Watching what's happening in this economy my gut is telling me once again that is good advice, and this time I'm acting on my hunch. Gold is now at record dollar highs, but would have to reach $2300+ to reach an inflation-adjusted record high.

Some think that silver, with all its industrial uses, is actually a better play in the precious metals market. For a while today it was selling at a near-term high of $29.00/oz., but has a long way to go before it reaches an inflation adjusted high equal to its $50+ per ounce cost when Nelson and Bunker Hunt, with the help of a few Arab investors, tried to monopolize the world's silver market.

Remember when you read my words that I'm just a financial nobody, and the precious metals markets are volatile under the best of circumstances. But the price of silver is up 50% in just 13 months and most believe that price is likely to coninue going upward so long as our treasury is continuing its present course of printing greenbacks...
And they're printing a BUNCH of greenbacks right now!