31 March 2012

Motorcycle Riding is Dangerous

I lost a brother I didn't know, in Atlanta.
You can mitigate the risks...

Wear proper gear. Drive responsibly. Avoid certain areas at certain times.
But there's no way to eliminate ALL risks.
Then again, no one gets out of this alive.
LIVE while you're livin'.

29 March 2012

Karma Truly IS a B****!!

Think this display of stupidity might now be affecting decision making in a certain VERY important group? :>)

She's Seven Years Old.



Thanks for the tip Suzan.

Stressin'

"Your flight is a go. It's in the vicinity of ******town. Your patient is a 31 year old male, victim of a rollover accident. He's trapped beneath the vehicle. Heading of 182 degrees for 39 miles."
In my favor...
It's a clear, starlit night and we can see forever. Little towns along the way stand out like beacons in the dark.

But there ARE factors makin' my life difficult...
Our normal aircraft is bein' used elsewhere and the loaner we have is an older, less powerful machine with older radios, not the same as in our primary aircraft.
The GPS in this machine is located on the right-lower side of the panel, making it difficult to see/use, and requiring me to take my right hand off the cyclic and fly the aircraft with my left hand while programming it. It's an aggravation.

We lift and I point the nose in the general direction we need to go.
"Your ground contact is ******* and your coordinates are...."
Reaching cruise, I take the cyclic in my left hand, input the coordinates, and push "enter".

Initially all looked and felt okay. But about ten minutes into the flight I began to question:
" ******town SHOULD be right over there, about 20 degrees off the nose."
We're seein' nothin' but black beneath and around us.
I call dispatch... "Read me those coordinates again, please."
No change, so we continue.

But soon the GPS says we're close enough we should be seeing flashing lights, and we're still in the middle of nowhere.
"Dispatch, call and see how far and in what direction they are from ******town, please."
Now I'm tense. Our patient may be slowly circling the drain and here we are floundering around in the air, not sure which direction we should be headed.
"They say they are about 15 miles Northwest of ******town."

I know there's an airport at ******town. I quickly set the GPS to go there, then point my nose to arrive Northwest of where the instrument wants to take me. Soon we're seeing lots of red and white flashing lights. We get LZ and obstacle information from the scene commander, then land safely.

The first thing I do when I land at a scene is copy the landing coordinates. The GPS can only take you to the correct location if you plug in the correct numbers. Comparing the correct numbers with the initial numbers we were given, I notice one of the coordinates was supposed to be "93", but was read to our dispatchers and relayed to me as "39". Realizing early on that we were headed in the wrong direction kept a circuitous flight to the scene from being a total screw-up.

We cover miles and miles of geography.
Once in a while it helps that I've been flying this area for over 37 years and know my A.O. well.

27 March 2012

Savannah, Georgia

How I LOVE Savannah!
Rather than go to (Mother) Ft. Rucker, Alabama like any normal Army Aviator, I volunteered to take my advanced helicopter training at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah.

My friend Ole Prairie Dog had found us a neat place to live... a 200 year old Town House on Jones Street, not far from the famous Savannah town "squares".
We were there four months PARTYING and learning to fly Hueys, just before leaving for our all-expenses-paid year-long vacation in beautiful Southeast Asia.

While in Viet Nam I filled out my "Dream sheet"...
The form you fill out that tells the ARMY what you'd like to do and where you'd like to go in the future. I found out pretty quickly that if your request mates up with something the ARMY actually wants you to do, you stand a better-than-even chance of having your "dream sheet" wishes come true.
I asked to return to Savannah as a Flight Instructor and got my wish. I lived in Savannah almost three years, from November of '69 until August of 1972.

I bought a motorcycle almost immediately. With a warm jacket you can ride all year long in Savannah. Winter temps will drop down into the 20's briefly now and then, but will then rebound quickly back into the 60's in a day or two.

One of my fondest memories of Savannah is hard to describe. With my favorite gal riding behind I could leave my home, set off for "Victory Drive", and follow it to the end of the world...
The end of the world on the motorcycle, anyway. I would drive my Kawasaki, generally with my friend Joe alongside on his new CB750 Honda, until we came to the parking lot at Savannah Beach where you couldn't go any farther without getting your wheels wet in the Atlantic Ocean.
There we'd stop, put the bikes on center stands, look out at that endless water, chat, and absorb as much life as we could.
Being unable to go any farther was calming.
You HAD to accept it.
We always hated to start the bikes and leave.

I love Savannah.
My new "Dream Sheet" includes going back and driving Victory Drive 'til I can't drive no mo'...
On a bike.

26 March 2012

Quiet Sunday


Names.
Sometimes they help us. But sometimes our parents saddle us with labels we have to deal with all our lives. (A Boy Named Sue!)

In first grade I sat across the table from a kid named "William William Williams".
We called him William. I wonder if, as a teenager, he picked up a nickname, (Sue, for instance.)

I went through OCS with a guy named "Land Grant".
I once met a gal named "Female"... (pronounced "Feh-mah-lee"). While trying to decide on a name for her, her Mother noticed the tag on her nursery container...
Female Boyd. Her Mother decided she liked the name if she could pronounce it the way she wanted.

I'd like to talk with "Moon Unit" Zappa to hear if she thinks her name has been a plus or a minus in her life.

And then there's the guy in the photo above, Placido Domingo.
I don't know Italian, but my limited Spanish fluency hints his name probably means "quiet Sunday", or "peaceful Sunday".
You're holding your new son in your arms...
Could you name him "quiet Sunday"?

I went to basic infantry training with a guy named "Danny Deer-in-water" and think Native Americans have the right idea. Holding a newborn baby, the temptation would be great to name them something like "Screams Like Banshee", or "Smells potent".

And folks you meet would have difficulty forgetting your name.

19 March 2012

My Music and the Hard Lesson Learned

"We're having a party. Can I borrow some of your records?" my friend asked.
"No."
"Aw c'mon man! I PROMISE to take great care of them!"

So after showing him how I wanted him to handle my vinyl, I relented.
And you know the rest of the story...
Alcohol flowed. He wasn't the only one handling my records. Most came back with scratches.
This one didn't come back at all-



When CD's first came out, it was my first purchase.
No, you cannot borrow it!

16 March 2012

Richard C. Schoenberg

His name came to me in another of those "wee hour revelations" as I was more asleep than awake.
Richard C. Schoenberg.

We were not supposed to lie, cheat, steal, or quibble.
This is the Officer Candidate's Creed.
But here I was, faced with a dilemma...
One of my "additional duties" as a candidate was to act as "Fire Marshal". The only thing about this duty that amounted to a hill of beans was that I had to do a monthly check of all the fire extinguishers in our company and insure their inspections were current and the CO2 extinguishers were properly pressurized. (Some of the extinguishers were of the old, water-filled type you had to pump.) Playing around, Richard was accompanying me on my rounds and had pulled one of these water-pump type extinguishers off the wall and had hosed me down with it.
It was inopportune that almost immediately after soaking me our Tac Officers called us to a company formation.

So here I am standing next to Richard, front and center of the platoon, looking like a drowned rat. The Tac Officer approached me and asked, "Who did this to you?"
And I lied...
"I don't know, sir."
Raised eyebrow... stern look...
"I'll ask one more time Candidate. Who did this to you?"
To myself I think, "Heck, here I am ALMOST finished with this torture and I'm gonna be forced out for lying over something so stupid?!!!"
"I'm not sure, sir."

Loyalty counts for something. This Tac was a good guy and realized he had backed me into a corner where I would have to rat on a fellow candidate. I fully expected him to ask me one more time, then tell me to pack my bags.
But he didn't.
He turned and walked away. I couldn't believe it.
Both Richard and I breathed a sigh of relief.

This is the memory that came floating back to me at about 0430 hours a few mornings ago.
And the name was clear... Richard Schoenberg.
I remember Richard SO well. He had been a (volunteer?) firefighter before joining the ARMY. He had a '61 Oldsmobile Starfire that he loved. He was amazed at the power of the American LaFrance fire truck he had gotten the chance to drive.
Odd memories of a guy I hadn't seen or talked to since 1967.

So I googled his name.
Sadly, THIS is what I found.

Karma!


The ELECTRIC Fisker Karma-
Gorgeous, right? A real work of art.
(And of course, subsidized with U.S. tax dollars, thanks to the Obama administration.)
You want one, right?
Well actually... NO, you don't!
Unless you're lookin' to pretty much display a "still life" in your living room.

12 March 2012

"Radical" Islam

For openers, I know next to nothing about Islam. I hope my fears are for nothing.
But in previous discussions with Islamic followers I have found there are certain questions that bring dialogue to a halt...
-Is it true the Koran commands Muslims to either enslave, convert, or KILL non-Muslims?
-Is it true "taqiyah" condones lying to non-Muslims if it benefits the expansion of Islam?
-Is it true the later, more militant sections of the Koran supercede the earlier, kinder, gentler verses?

We continue to hear we are at war with "radical" Islam.
If the questions above are all answered in the affirmative then Islam, at its very core, is radical and we are at war with the basic "religion"...
A rapidly growing cancer that it seems we're ignoring at our peril.

08 March 2012

USAA

This post is a test.
Part rant/therapy, part request for input, part experiment to find who actually is reading "Pitchpull" when certain subjects are addressed.

I first insured with USAA while I was still an Officer-Candidate at The Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY in 1967. With one small (stupid) break, I've insured cars, home, life, and motorcycles with them since. It's an interesting company with a devoted following...
It used to be that to insure with them you had to be a military officer. Customers were MEMBERS, and shared in the company's profit experience. If the company had a good casualty experience, a check to share in that good fortune was added to the member's "subscriber savings account". (That part still applies.)
Rates are more than competitive, and service has always been exemplary.

But the company is expanding. Some time ago they started insuring enlisted military personnel.
Shortly thereafter they opened their doors to dependents. (My son is now also insured through USAA General.) If you've had your eyes and ears open over the last year or so you've no doubt seen the TV ad where a guy is slogging through a Viet Nam rice paddie with an M16 and matures so that he looks frighteningly like me at the end of the commercial... gray hair, glasses and all.
I have no heartburn with any of this, except that the little boutique operation that once was USAA, where I could literally call and voice my complaint personally to the President of the company, IS NO MORE. It's still a great company and for the most part I recommend it. But it's now a BIG, and getting bigger enterprise.

Two years ago when I bought the Pizza Bike I called USAA to insure it.
WHO ELSE WOULD I CALL?!!
When they heard I wanted to insure a motorcycle I was told to standby, they were transferrring my call. The next voice I heard was from a "Progressive Insurance" agent, acting on behalf of USAA.
Progressive Insurance is a good name for this company. It's a well-known fact the "progressive" management of the company donated heavily to the Obama campaign, and is now partly responsible for the hate and division we are experiencing in our political world.
I don't like being a part of that. I've told USAA that on more than one occasion. I took the policy with them, but immediately called USAA and told them I was unhappy.

So today I did something I haven't done in three decades...
I shopped other companies for motorcycle insurance coverage. Guess what I found? "Dairyland Cycle Insurance" provides the same coverage I now have at a lower premium.

I just emailed USAA to express my dissatisfaction with Progressive one last time. They've always been good about responding to communications promptly, so I expect an answer from them soon. (I once had a problem with one of these "subcontractor" companies and complained to them about the service I had received. I got a personal note from USAA's President telling me others had complained, and soon they stopped doing business with that company.) It's my hope something similar will happen here, because in a month I'll have three bikes to insure and I WILL NOT insure them with Progressive Insurance.

Stand by for further.

(Updated: The "Dairyland" link doesn't seem to work.
Their phone # is 1 866-324-7952.)

06 March 2012

Freedom

Freedom is wonderful, right?
Everyone wants freedom!

Except when it comes to planning for retirement. Then the government should take care of us.
Or when it comes to health care coverage. We're just too stupid to plan for those contingencies.

Or buying our own contraceptives...
That might cramp my lifestyle!


I'm more and more convinced the only way to rebuild this broken Nation is to allow it to completely collapse, then start over.
And for a while, that will be anarchy.

01 March 2012

The Ducks are Walkin' !

It's called "pea soup".
I'll have to look up the origin of the term. Our room is on the fourth floor with a decent view of Pensacola Bay and for the third time in the last four days we cannot see the water, about two blocks distant.
Our original intent this trip was to spend four days here. Four of my first cousins are in town having a reunion of their own and they chose to come here partly to visit their Aunt, my Mother.
They wrote and asked if there was any chance I might also be able to come. I was delighted with the idea. So we planned for what I felt would be a comfortable visit... four days here, then we planned to head East to Savannah where for three years I taught Vietnamese Air Cadets the art of flying the UH-1 "Huey" helicopter.

Plans get changed.
Mom was sick the day we arrived.
Still down slightly with symptoms of a cold the next day she felt well enough to visit, and together we all laughed, reminisced, and played table games.
She was sicker the following day. I called Savannah and canceled our lodging.

So last night was our sixth night in lovely Pensacola. With plans to Winter in Destin next year we've been watching the weather anxiously, making note of the type of clothing we'll need to be comfortable this time next year...
If this stint is a good indicator we'll need umbrellas, ponchos, and yellow hunter's glasses to brighten up ugly days. The temps have been fine...
Sixty-ish most days, it actually reached 75 yesterday. But we have had SOME fog almost every day, and when I say fog I mean fog like the thickest you've seen in your life... the kind that drips from the trees.
"The ducks are afraid to take flight, so they're walkin' down the sidewalks."

Of course we are right on the water so conditions may be considerably better inland a little. But we'll be on the water in Destin too, so I think what we see is what we'll get.
We can deal with it.

Meanwhile...
Last Saturday my son received the 800cc BMW I sent out to him. He went Monday and titled/licensed it in his name. It's been WINDY in Phoenix the last several days so he didn't ride to work... just puttered around the neighborhood. Last night he rode to work for the first time. The trip TO work was uneventful. The trip home was not. When the phone woke us from deep sleep I looked at the clock... 0244 hours.
"HOW OLD IS THIS BATTERY?!!"
"I have no idea son, why?"
"Because I'm five minutes from work, 25 minutes from home, I stalled it and it won't start."
He gives me an audio presentation by pressing the starter button and I hear the sound of the solenoid working but the bendix not engaging to turn the engine.
"You'll have to bump start it."
"WHAT?"
"You'll have to bump start it. Make sure the ignition is on and the bike is in neutral. Push the bike as fast as you can, hop on, pull the clutch in, kick it into second gear, then release the clutch lever. If you're lucky, it will start."

I hear him make two or three unsuccessful attempts at this, knowing he's not done it before...
probably never even SEEN it done before. Now back on the phone, breathless, he's frustrated and angry. I'm equally frustrated on my end, knowing he's broken down on the road 2,000 miles away and all I can do is give him advice he may or may not understand over the phone.
He hangs up, angry.
At this end WE'RE BOTH wide awake at 3 A.M..

Sara Jean says "Now you know how I feel. He does this to me all the time."
Fifteen minutes later we call him back. He has called a towing company to haul him and the bike home. It's gonna be interesting to see his attitude toward enjoying "classic" motorcycle riding when we call later today!

So...
We've seen so little of the sun we applaud his intermittent appearance.
My Mother is sick.
My beginner motorcycle-riding kid is unhappy with the bike I loved.

And our side-trip to Savannah is off.

How's YOUR week goin'?