29 September 2012


About me:
It's 1978. I'm a Major in the Army Reserve, going to school in Ft. Bliss, Texas to learn about the wonders of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical warfare. The school is two weeks long and I'm a LONG way from home. Daytime temps are running about 106 degrees. I'm not a happy camper.

The school is a little challenging. Learning non-standard radiation decay rates is driving me a little crazy. I want to ACE this school, and I'm not gettin' this non-standard decay rate business. I know there will be at least one problem on the test to solve, and I'm honestly fearful I'll screw it up.

I'm lonely.
I'm the ranking officer in the class and haven't been able to connect with anyone to spend time with after hours. I'm still feeling the effects of my ugly divorce a little over a year ago. I have a "significant other" back at home who without question saved my sanity, and may in fact have kept me from becoming an alcoholic, thereby possibly saving my life. But I know in my heart-of-hearts that my relationship with her is going nowhere long-term, and I wonder what the future holds.
Far from home, exposed to these extreme temperatures, I may as well be on Venus.

I hit the sack, study non-standard half-lives until I can't take it anymore, turn the light off and radio on, and roll over to go to sleep.
And from the box comes this tune.
It doesn't help my mood, but there's no denying it is an extraordinary piece of music.

About Gerry Rafferty:
I didn't know his name before "Baker Street" came out.
But most of us are familiar with "Stuck in The Middle With You" by "Stealer's Wheel", and I've since found he played with that group before going solo.

I heard "Baker Street" on my way to work two nights ago and remembered Ft. Bliss.
I remembered the loneliness, and how that loneliness was somehow made greater by "Baker Street".
I also knew that Gerry had died a while back, so I decided to check on him and learn more.

Gerry was a troubled soul.
His Wikipedia entry is here. If you've enjoyed his work and don't know anything about him, check it out. Then listen once again to "Baker Street" and see if you'll ever listen to it the same as you have in the past.

I won't.

25 September 2012

Don't Steal My Stuff, Bro !

I need advice, and I'm hopin' there are some expert readers to give it.
I'm pulling the plug. I'll be 66 in January, eligible for full Soc. Sec. benefits. There's enough irritation at work now, even though I still LOVE helping folks when they need the help, it seems a good time to leave the job to someone with better eyes, ears, and a higher tolerance for management's Bravo Sierra.

We want to travel.
We want the luxury to be able to act on an impulse "to go see 'such and such'... let's start tomorrow morning!"

The photo I chose to head this posts hints at my concerns...
For the last couple years we have been preparing for troubles. The house is now jammed with resources we MAY need if the dominoes begin to fall. If we take off on an extended vacation, I'd like that stuff to still be under my roof when we return. To help insure those things are there when we need 'em, I know we'll need to make it tough on scoundrels who would take advantage...
We need a home security system, and we need a good gun safe. I've been doing online research on both, and I have to admit to being just as confused now as when I started reading.

I've been warned to buy a bigger gun safe than I think I need. That sounds like good advice, but of course means lots of $$$$ for a quality safe.
I have NO IDEA what details I should be looking for in a home security system.


20 September 2012

Near Miss

"Greenstreak 8, you're cleared to enter left base for runway 24... Landing at the ramp will be at your own risk, that area is not visible from the tower." 
"Greenstreak 8, Roger". 
So I set myself up on a close-in left base, looking to the right down the runway centerline I was about to cross to insure no landing fixed-wing was trying to occupy the same airspace I was using. Seeing no traffic, I started my left turn to final and my eyes focused on something through the left greenhouse of the AStar 350D I was flying... 
It looked familiar... 
As it SHOULD, because I was looking at the bolts attaching the skids to the right front crosstube of a Bell 47, an aircraft similar to one I have flown about 1100 hours. 
 Instantly I lowered the collective ALL THE WAY, then rolled the AStar violently to the right, gritting my teeth as I expected to hear metal-to-metal contact. 
Thankfully my actions, and the actions of the guy flying the 47, allowed enough space for my composite rotorblades to not slice his aircraft to pieces. 

My heart was pounding. I couldn't talk, so there was no reason to key the mic and say anything. I landed, shut the aircraft down on the rolling platform, and told the refueler how much fuel I needed. 

Paperwork finished, I drove to the County police office and walked in. 
There, the police pilot was also finishing up his paperwork. 
When he looked up I asked, "Was that as close as I thought it was?" 
"Closer than I ever want to be to another aircraft", he replied. 

 He was cleared to land before I even entered the traffic pattern and we weren't warned about one another... 
Human error by the controller. 
 I shook his hand, smiled, took a deep breath, and walked out of the office, vowing to do a better job of keeping my "head on a swivel" in the future. 

Thank you Lord. 

12 September 2012

My Dad's "Super Cruiser".

I cannot remember the first time I flew.
I'm told I actually first flew when I was still a bump in Mom's belly.

But my Dad was a pilot, and I can remember standing on our property watching in wonder as Dad flew by in one aircraft or another.
It was neat knowing my Old Man was at the controls. I was proud.

I have vivid memories of driving with my folks to (now closed) Sky Harbor airport in Indianapolis, leaving the car in the parking lot and going through the gate with the sign saying "Pilots and passengers only beyond this point."
What a great feeling...
Unlike the others sitting in that lot watching airplanes come and go,
I was "authorized"! Soon they'd be watching us!

When I was in my early teens my Dad bought an airplane similar to the one pictured above. It's a Piper "Super Cruiser".
Just a little bigger and more powerful than the "Cub", it would seat three...
Pilot in front, two (smallish) passengers in back. Many of my friends took their first airplane ride in that aircraft and talked fondly about it when Dad died.

It was also the first aircraft I actually flew. A set of controls in the back, Dad turned around and said "You wanta fly it?"
And so I did. I slipped and skidded. I couldn't maintain a set altitude.
But I noticed with amazement something everyone realizes when they first fly...
I could see for miles and miles and miles!

Small changes in ground elevation are flattened out at altitude, so it took a while to find familiar landmarks and know where I was above my old stompin' grounds.
Look at how close our home is to White River!
And look how the familiar creek winds its way to join it!

What a thrill.
That was over fifty years ago.
I didn't realize it at the time, but the seed was planted.

Thanks Dad.
Thanks Mr. Piper.

06 September 2012

Olympic Pandora's Box?

Apples and oranges-
Something just didn't feel right when Pistorius ran against able-bodied runners.
Now he's complaining that artificial limbs CAN give an advantage?
If the Olympics are to survive, the decision-making folks will have to insure folks like me have a desire to watch.
And for me, that means apples to apples.
Case in point: