Thursday, December 17, 2009

Moved to Apple

Well we've taken the plunge and moved away from Microsoft... This is my first post on our new I-Mac. It will take some getting used to, but I've already managed to cause a program to fail and learned Apple does have a cntrl-alt-delete equivalent.

I have this tiny keyboard and no number pad but I've got to admit it is a beautiful piece of hardware and Apple knows how to make things pretty straight forward.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I see an increasing amount of time spent on local news about the impacts of social networks and the postings or boasts people are putting on them. It is almost as if it is wrong of employers to use the Internet to see what people are saying about themselves. For example, a federal employee who is collecting disability for her depression, and posts pictures of herself at Chippendale's is distressed when her disability is called into question, and her benefits are rescinded. Newly graduated college students are bewildered when their drunken festivities, posted for the world to gaze on, call into question their claims of sound and mature judgement.

We all have ghosts and skeletons in our closets. I am sure there is only one who has walked among us that has nothing to regret, nothing to wish they had not done. The difference between my youth and the youth of today is we had time to consider the error of our ways before the entire world was made aware of them. We did not grow up believing that everything we thought, everything we did, everything we tried to do was worthy of public discourse. Obviously this must be a problem brought on by Soccer Mom's and Dad's who want everyone to be winners!

One truth I have always understood was the young had to find their own identity. They would not accept the advice of the elders, and would often choose a contrary path just to show their independence. Unfortunately for too many, that need to take a contrary path, and the desire to share their perceived triumphs collide now on the Internet with a record that will last far beyond the moments of fame they seek.

To all the American youth who want the world to know they get drunk every night, work hard to contact every available STD, or hate their boss, job, life, parents, teachers or spouse I offer this thought. Hope it works out for you in the future! Don't whine when it is thrown back at you.

To every American scamming the disability system who get caught because of a stupid posting. Too bad, so sad, maybe they will offer federal disability for stupidity in the new health care plan! Call your legislator for clarification.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When did news become opinion?

This has been a long standing question for me. As I watch the major network's broadcast their evening reports several obvious things jump out. First, apparently there is only one set of writers who they all share. They routinely have the same subject matter to broadcast, even on days when there is no overwhelming national story. Its almost like price fixing, sometime in the day they must have a conference call to lay out the common agenda they intend to present.
My real question is why has uninformed public opinion become central to the reporting on almost every story? Is this a national conspiracy to attempt to get every living American a chance for their 15 minutes of fame? For example, this evening ABC broadcast a story on mammograms and a medical panels recommendation they were not critical for woman younger than 50. As part of that report they must have asked 10 patients what they thought of a report none had read, but were only informed of by the reporter. The fact all 10 were about to receive their annual mammogram certainly can have no influence in their assessments and opinions, can it? Personally, I would rather have seen them interview 10 men who had survived breast cancer and asked them about how critical the mammogram was, at least that would have required some research on the part of the news staff. If this issue is worthy of national news coverage, why aren't recognized experts called in to discuss the reasoning and implications? Is it because it would not be as emotional as interviewing someone in a medical gown walking into the examination?
This same sense of fair reporting was evidence last night when they asked a series of New York city residents about Sarah Palin's new book. Certainly you can expect measured, well thought out positions from the average NYC person on the street. NYC is legendary for its central American view and as a bastion of conservative thought. Personally I can think of no compelling reason to report on Palin, but at the same time attempting to make her a cartoon only strengthens the argument the liberal press is out to polarize the American population into two camps.
Wait a minute! Maybe this is all like the Colbert Report. It is all a parody of an actual news report and their real intent is to make us question the statements and come to a conclusion buried deep in the false logic of their dialogue. My hat is off to you Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson, Bryan Williams, your subterfuge almost had me...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


This is the day set aside to remember the end of the 1st World War, the war to end all wars. We have made it a day to recognize the sacrifices, service and commitment of our men and woman of the American Armed Forces.

I spent the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in a jet, headed to Dallas, TX. Somehow, that seemed okay to me, working on this Veteran's Day. As I gazed out the window, crossing just north of Mobile AL I thought of friends I've lost in defense of this nation. I would like to take a few minutes to reflect on them and what I've learned from them.

In a nameless desert in the middle of Iran I watched Capts Hal Lewis, Rick Backe, and six others die when the EC-130 flight deck was crushed by an RH-53 helicopter that was disoriented as it took off in the sand. Rick was my original instructor as I trained to fly the MC-130E Combat Talon. He was patient, knowledgeable and had a passion for life. He made sure I was good enough to join a pretty small group of people qualified to navigate the C-130 as it flew 250' above the ground, in weather and at night. Hal was one the aircraft commanders in the 1st SOS when I arrived. He was a very good pilot, steady hands and made sure his crew knew what was expected and ready to perform. He partied hard, had his share of faults, but was about doing whatever it took to accomplish the mission.

About nine months later, in January 1981 an MC-130E, returning from a training mission flew into the Ocean, off the coast of the Philippines. On board were Major John King, Capt Greg Peppers, Capt Jeff Blume and TSgt Jack Felton, all friends and people I had flown with for the past year. Greg and Jack were with me on the Desert One fiasco and Greg was probably the best partner I had ever flown with. If he had survived I think he could be a General today. Greg taught me to enjoy the moment. Jack Felton was our Flight Engineer, he had a marvalous sense of humor and was a great mimic of Father Guido Sardouchi. This crask taught me if your number is up you are going to die, if not you won't! for there is no other way to explain how Jeff survived the crash. I think it had a serious impact on his outlook from then on.

Please take a moment to think of your friends and loved ones and what you gain from them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things to be Thankful For.

Today I am sitting in the USO lounge at Philadelphia Int'l Airport. What an under appreciated organization they are. When I was on active duty I don't think they had the outreach they have now. This facility provides the men and woman of the armed forces, as well as their families a place to stretch out, relax, get something to eat and prepare for the next stage of their trip. Thank you USO!

So what brings me to Philly? I came up as a personal obligation to celebrate the life of my Mother's twin sister Bobbetta Jean Stewart. Aunt Bobbie was the last of the Ingraham's (my maternal Grandparents) and with her passing it is inevitable the ties to the surviving Stewart's; Louise, Beth, Cecil, and George will begin to stretch and erode. Her life was filled with trials and tribulations, but through it all she was loving, gentle, and gracious. We will all be poorer for her passing, but I've got to believe she is at rest and in a better place.

This trip also afforded me a wonderful chance to visit my Daughter, Son-in-Law, and Granddaughter. Hannah is now 25 months old and turning into a wonderfully charismatic youngster. Her smile is infectious and she is learning so much each day that its obvious her Mom and Dad are doing the right things. She walks around the house singing the ABC song. Her vocabulary is remarkable, it just takes some concentration to work through the pronunciation. I am sure her progress towards a fully rambunctious child will be filled with many moments I will regret missing, but with the technology we have available, even separated by 1,000 miles, we can be a part of her life. Thank you Hannah for the joy you brought me on this visit.

Finally, as I return home I look forward to seeing my wife of 32 years, and sharing with her the hopes for a bright future. Compared to so many in this country we are secure and comfortable and able to share those blessings with our children and those less fortunate than us.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Nobel Prize for Peace

The Nobel Prize for Peace, originated from a grant by Alfred Nobel, is the only Nobel Prize not awarded in Stockholm Sweden. Alfred Nobel made that choice as part of the bequeath, and the Norwegians have embraced that duty. If you ever visit Oslo you will be reminded of the distinction on several occasions during your stay.

Today President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. An award for which he was nominated roughly 2 weeks after his entering office. As I look at past winners they run the gamut from the Quakers to the UN Nuclear Energy Commission, from Le Duc Tho to Mother Teresa. I believe there have been two sitting Presidents who've received this award, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Both received theirs for ending wars and moving toward peace. A third president, Jimmy Carter, was awarded the Nobel prize for his decades of efforts toward international peace.

We can only speculate on the discussions held in Oslo leading to this award but it appears the committee is awarding now based on potential. Let us all pray they are correct, and the President fulfills his potential and finds an end to the current terrorist threats and wars.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On the Loss of Civility

As I watch society unfold before me I am struck, no distressed would be a better description, on how we have lost our ability to be civil to one another. Why is this? We have only to look at the almost daily news reports to see example after example of this. “Congressman Joe Wilson calls Obama a 'liar',” “Kanye West Crashes VMA Stage During Taylor Swift's Award Speech,” “In Toronto, Bike-Car Road Rage Escalates,” and the list goes on.

I believe we, as humans, are selfish, aggressive and violent by our nature. What has historically separated us from the other species is our ability to modify our base instincts to conform to the expectations of society. For example, rats are social, they live in ordered society and each is able to determine its place. They don’t seem to build unique cultures and I believe they play out their base instincts in the formation of those societies. We, on the other hand, are social beings, and build our societies for similar base goals, protection and furtherance of our race. We then train our youth to conform to those expectations so that society may evolve. Our history is filled with example after example of this, each eventually leading to a collapse and emergence of a follow-on civilization. Which brings us to today, and the question that is troubling me, what can we do to bring a sense of pride and civility back to our nation, and then the world?

Today it seems unfashionable to talk of cause and effect relationships, but I believe this is the only way to understand and address this decline. Parents of my generation began the process of trying to relate to their children and reinforce positive attitudes and performance in the belief if someone has positive thoughts about themselves they will fit better into society. My generation expanded on this to reinforce the idea that their child could do no wrong, and our children carry this to the next level where everyone must be a winner. I wonder if this could be a base cause for our failure to train the younger generation on the expectation for their role in society and the now prevalent belief they can say and do whatever they feel like and it is okay. The belief that their needs or ideas are more important than anyone else; debate and movement to a common approach is never an option.

As society embraces the idea that everyone can do, or say, whatever they feel like I am concerned with our ability to resolve the real problems that confront us as a society. With that inability to resolve conflict there is only one inevitable outcome. As uncivil behavior is spread, and more widely tolerated, what will be the next societal norm to be cast aside?

To my congressman, Jeff Miller, who rationalizes Congressman Wilson’s outburst, as emotions stirred by the health care debate, shame on you. I would hope, no I would expect, that Congressman control their emotions and do the nations business. What happened to the expectations of respect for your colleagues?

To rapper Jay-Z and all who rationalize Mr. West’s outburst as emotions to be understood and overlooked… shame on you. I don't expect you to condemn him, but you don't need to rationalize it away either. Perhaps this is one point where silence is a virtue?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

August has come & gone. It has been a momentous month for us. On August 31st my son's wife gave birth to our second grandchild, and on September 4th our first grandchild turned two. It is hard to believe I now have two grandchildren.
On the way home from church today there was an interesting observation which, I think, summarizes the "whatever I think" picture of today's society. My wife observed that the nation was more divided today than anytime in our past, and it must be a direct result of the Roe v Wade decision that limits the states ability to prevent abortions. I would suspect that most of our society may think the same way. My only comment to this -- it seemed to me the issue of slavery or states rights, and the resultant civil war was probably more divisive since we've not yet seen a state attempt to seperate.

Friday, July 31, 2009

How to Create a Problem

In my job I find the hardest part is to deal with decision making based on opinion, emotion, or spur of the moment ideas. This is the way the US government works. Every senior leader, regardless of whether he/she is a General or a Civilian makes multi-million dollar decisions based on nothing more substantial than a set of briefing slides. Then, regardless of whether the decision is good, bad or indifferent, their successor will want to review and probably change that decision. This leads to tremendous waste, and serves as a model of what the Obama administration believes is the way to run things.

In flying we had a saying. There was nothing more useless than altitude above you, runway behind you, and airspeed you don't have; for the Federal government it would be last years budget. Your money wasted last year should have no impact on the decisions we make this year.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Government HeaLth Insurance

As I sit listening to President Obama discuss health care reform I can certainly see his point that sick people shouldn't have to pay too much to get better. In a perfect world, all medical professionals should be friendly, good-looking, competent and fix sick people for free. Here's what is bothering me about this latest thrust for greater government control over how our existence should be managed.

I know of no endeavor the federal government has ever attempted where efficiency, accurate cost accounting, and effective management have been central to the success of the effort. We have acquisition professionals who believe that we should pay $100,000,000.00 for a fighter, that it is reasonable to spend $50,000 for each hour we fly that fighter, and since it isn't their money no cost is unreasonable. A government bureau once established, will do whatever it needs to further its own existence. Everything else becomes secondary.

Let's take, for example, Homeland Security. Once established, exactly what have they done to educate us, or tighten our defenses? Maybe it is just it is all so secret! TSA, a part of Home Land Security certainly has dramatically improved our air transportation experience with the security color code systems and all the gate checks.... Wouldn't it be a little better if we didn't have the same heightened state of alert for the last 7 years?

Medicaid is probably as close an example of what we can expect from government-run health insurance. Isn't this the same organization that is routinely found to have paid fraudulent claims costing American taxpayers millions and millions of dollars. Apparently, government bureaucrats are quite gullible.

It would be my hope we can find a way to provide a safety net to Americans without health insurance, but if we socialize medicine I expect we will see so many abuses of the system our overall ability to provide the finest medical care in the world will disappear.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I've been thinking lately about how we deal with failure, misfortune, and unexpected outcomes. I have come to believe it is a fully human reaction to rationalize these events are always beyond our control and there was nothing we could do to alter the outcome. Or is it?

Why is it so hard for us to admit to ourselves, or to others, we've made a mistake, we've forgotten something, or we didn't accomplish what we've set set out to do? Is it to protect our psyche, our reputation, or is there another motivation?

In my current job I find dealing with this is perhaps the hardest communication issue I have. If nothing is ever our fault then how can we affect change? How can we learn from our mistakes or not make the same mistakes over and over?

Wouldn't it be neat if we could teach our children to be responsible, to try their best, to recognize their mistakes, to find alternative approaches and move past the self pity that comes so naturally to our generation?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The problem with Jet Ski's

The problem with Jet Ski's is they require you to keep them running.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


As I surf through television channels, looking to watch something, besides the movies I've watched a couple dozen times, I am amazed by the hundreds of foolish reality shows, and how little imagination goes into them. Right now reality shows seem to have rule in the secondary channels like Discovery, UPN, Lifetime. I suspect it is for two reasons, first it is relatively cheap to produce, and most importantly Americans have become a nation of voyeurs.

It seems the current fad is watching the disintegration of Jon and Kate's (?) marriage. A couple who have found a way to make a living off the exploitation of their eight children. Not only do you have the simple reporting of their problems, but you have the color commentators who allegedly have the inside line on who's done what to who, who is fooling around with who, and what are the odds for whatever. It seems like a lot of people talking about something that really is a "who cares?" issue.

Then it dawned on me... Is this all an orchestrated marketing campaign to set up a new show? Perhaps "Jon and Kate go Their Separate Ways," or "Jon and Kate; Who Gets to Exploit the 8?"
With Jon gone, who will Kate get to push around, her kids? Surely all the liberal woman of the world will band together to give her advice on why its Jon's fault.

Perhaps I need to go back to reading books again?
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