Friday, April 29, 2011

A Poem (A Day in the Spring when I was young)

The trees stand as sentries in our woods
Guarding the glens and the brooks within
So many drive by these hills I climb
Never seeing all they hide from sight

Here, I find a small cave quiet and dark
Where perhaps a cub first saw a night
There, rocks jut from the earth
As if climbing to reach the light

Atop the hills are glades and glens
Soft, alive, green and bright
They invite this climber of the hills
To rest, perhaps to see his life

A drink from a mountain stream
Before I feared what it contained
Sweet and cooling on my lips
It brings my body life and refreshes my soul

But what brings me to these hills?
Why do I walk the woods?
Why is the day filled with growing dread?
A pilot, and his family, await my finding
Hidden... somewhere up ahead

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What is Important in a President

A friend shared this video with me and asked my opinion of it.  The Firewall - The Enigma.  Here is my response to her.

"I've not read Dreams of My Father but there seems to be a fair amount of controversy with regards as to the original author, which if true would mean it is at least part fiction spun to sell a product.  So I would have to take with some reservation the excerpts Bill Whittle pulls from the book, the assumptions he makes with regard to motivation and the supplemental information he provides about the communist influence from school and church that may have shaped his Mothers life and perhaps his Grandmother.  It is a compelling story regarding the socialist and communist influences that perhaps shaped his life and which clearly shape his politics today.  You can see in his actions the belief in state ownership of the individual, and control of the market place.  In his public policy you can see the desire to enforce a socialist system at the cost of our economy, and when given any choice the need to interject an ever larger government presence.  When the Congress and the Executive were under a single party control that was the major push.  You can know all this by observing his action today, and you could have known that if the last election had been about issues and not personality.

One of the opening statements made by Bill Whittle was that to know what someone will do you had to delve into his upbringing and background.  I do take some issue with that.  It is only now, in the age of instant communication and the internet that all the gory details of the candidate become "critical" to the opinions of the voters.  The problem with today's primary process is we allow the personal attacks and debate about character to submarine the discussion of real and important issues.  Talking about an opponents infidelity is so much easier than being forced to lay out how to tackle the national debt.  How much did the nation know about Thomas Jefferson when they elected him the 3rd President?  Surely the knowledge of his alleged affair with Sally Hemings was never put on the record.  How about when U.S. Grant ran, did the press hammer him for his drinking?  While in hind sight that may have been a good thing I don't think it would have made a difference to the election.  I was raised in a small town in the Hudson Valley, called Hyde Park, so lets talk about my home town hero Franklin D. Roosevelt... so much could have been brought out but never was.  During his Presidency he implemented more socialist reform than anyone and the nation loved him for it.  The press never pointed out he was incapable of walking more than a few steps or he was having a long term affair with his secretary, although both facts were widely known to the press.  I doubt it was widely reported he was  controlled by his Mother and was considered a "Momma's boy."  Would it have mattered in his elections?  Would the nation have been better off if we had known? What the nation did understand in 1932 was he wasn't a Republican (blamed for the stock market crash), and in 36 he was putting people to work, and in 40 he was putting many more to work as we built up our wartime industries.

In our history the real issues are usually glossed over because they are often too abstract and complex to put into campaign speak or sound bites.  What is understood by the politicians in the Presidential election is a large portion of the country always votes Democratic or Republican and if you are to win you need to persuade that small percentage of uncommitted to side with you.  I think that is why the Democrats choose Obama, he brought out in hugh numbers the black communities that are usually apathetic non-voters.  I can assure you the turn out here in the South was huge compared to just four years earlier."

So we now come to the question on what is important in a President?  Is moral character critical, how about patriotism, or a strong religious foundation?  I think each of these qualities bring both value and risk, for each is hard to define in a universal sense for all the nation.  

When John F. Kennedy was running for president the Nixon campaign played against protestant fears he would be subject to Vatican influence.  In todays world this is hard to imagine, but in 1959 it was a very real fear that Kennedy had to address head on.

Clearly our President should be a patriot, but how do you quantify that?  If he is opposed to immigration is he a patriot? What if he is in favor of states rights?  Does that make him unpatriotic?  If he thinks big government is the cure for all that is wrong is he by default unpatriotic?  How about baseball?  If he can't name all the teams in the American League should he be declared a Canadian?  We have fundament extremists who wrap themselves in the cloak of patriotism, if the President were to interfere with their activities would he be unpatriotic?

The same things can be said about moral character.  Each of us bring a slightly different sense of what that term means and no one can live up to everyone's definition.  Some of our better Presidents were philanderers.  Andrew Jackson married Rachel Donelson Robards while she was still married to Lewis Robards.  While there may be some debate over his or her knowledge of the situation he did then enter into a number of duels to defend her honor.

So you ask what do I think is important?  I think the President needs to have the following qualities.  A strong sense of self, a vision he or she can articulate, the courage to make a decision and stand behind it, the ability to ignore the crowd, the humility to admit when he/she has made a mistake, and finally a willingness to compromise for the greater good.  Several of these characteristics are linked and I will explain why I think them important together.

As the President, he/she must govern for the nation, not the party they belong to.  Therefore there will be times the President must be prepared to go against his party for a common good.  This requires a very strong sense of personal worth and confidence, courage to make decisions and face the consequences and a willingness to compromise.  We see very little of this in the current President, who is in a non-stop campaign mode.  In the 1960's, we can look to Lyndon Johnson and see his ability to work with Republicans for the social legislation as an example.  No one questioned his Democratic credentials so when he needed to bend a little to achieve the goals it was possible.  As much as we may dislike Richard Nixon for his failures, these same strengths played a part of his ability to open up Communist China.

The President sets the tone for the country and, when successful, the goals we collectively strive for.  Thomas Jefferson had the courage to go against his previous beliefs on the role of government, when he saw an opportunity to purchase Louisiana from the French.  In one move, without seeking Congressional approval beforehand he doubled the size of the United States and opened the great westward expansion that dominated the 19th Century.  To undertake such an endeavor he had a vision far beyond the day to day management a weak federal government linking 13 collective states.

John Kennedy is known best for his ability to set those visions into the American psyche.  We will never know if we would have reached the Moon in the 60's if he had lived, but clearly we did reach it because of his vision and Johnson's willingness to push it forward.

I would also use Kennedy to illustrate a man with the strength to admit he had made a mistake and stand up to it.  Shortly after he assumed the Presidency he authorized the invasion of Cuba with a group of expatriates trained by the CIA.  He did not have the will to commit the necessary US forces to insure their success and the invasion failed on the beach.  Hundreds were killed, captured or wounded.  Although the effort began well before he came to office it was on his authorization it executed.  I don't recall him blaming Eisenhower for the failure.

Perhaps he had the foresight to see the quagmire Vietnam would become when he established the US Army's Special Forces (Green Berets) to attempt to keep our involvement in the Communist insurgency small, but we will never know for sure.

Having a vision and not being able to articulate it is almost like not having a vision.  We need only to look to the 41st President to see how his inability to clearly communicate the grand ideas into a vision caused him problems.  After the first world war, Woodrow Wilson helped create the League of Nations, but was unable to persuade Americans that we must be a part of it.  That failure doomed the League to become the ineffective agent it was, while it allowed German expansion in Europe.

Presidents will not always make popular decisions but they must be able to make them and stand behind them in the face of rising controversy.  Reagan made the decision to win the cold war.  Something all his predecessors since Truman had either attempted or felt impossible to accomplish.  In his eight years as President he built an Arm's race that eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Without firing a shot he won a war we had been engaged in since 1949.  His decision unified Germany, freed the nations of the Warsaw Pact, and reduced the threat of nuclear war to a level last seen in the early 1950s.

This event gave Bush the elder the ability to maneuver when Iraq invaded Kuwait.  Without it, we would have risked war with Russia if we chose to engage directly, or we would have had to fight through surrogates.

So, with all that said what do I see in our President?  I see a man who blames others, who when he makes a choice will change it if he feels the winds of opinion pushing against him. I see someone who even when attempting to compromise cannot resist slamming the other side, a man nether gracious in victory or defeat.  I see a gifted speaker, when the teleprompter is working, but at other times is no different then his predecessor.  I don't see a man guiding this nation for the common good.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Did I Hear Correctly?

Did I see the news clearly this evening?  Speaker of the House Boehner suggests we reduce tax breaks for the oil companies and the first thing the President does is say how he would increase spending?

Standard and Poor’s is threatening to downgrade the US credit rating, because of our debt and spending versus income imbalances and the very first thing the  President can think of when he learns the Republicans may be willing to consider a tax increase is to lay out how he would spend it?

No wonder the Tea Party is gaining in popularity every day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25th, plus 31 Years

Today the birds are talking amongst themselves, the air is clear and the day starts cool, but the humidity is growing until it will become oppressive.  We hit golf balls, my son and I.  It is nice to spend a few minutes alone, without the stress of family responsibilities.

At the chapel a remembrance of those who on this date 31 years ago were in the wrong place, at the wrong time.  The speaker lauds the courage of the team, the men who died are heroes.  He talks about all that has stemmed from our failure and how we are better than before.  We have better equipment, we have better training, we are better funded now, but has anything really changed?

An old question haunts me, and again I ask myself, was I courageous, or just na├»ve?  Where the men who are now heroes, courageous or where they like me, just less fortunate? 

What is courage?  How do you know if you are courageous? Merriam Webster defines courage as the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and to withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.  When we flew into Iran the evening of April 24th, were we being courageous, or just doing the job we had trained years to accomplish?  Maybe the right answer is a little of both.  I speak for no one but myself when I say that the fear of being left out of this adventure far out-weighted the fear of death.  The fear of screwing up and causing a problem was much greater than the fear of what lay before us.

I’ve written in the past about the mindset of the community I am a part of.  We are by training and our nature competitive.  If we weren’t we wouldn’t do this job, we are to varying degrees risk takers.  Some are emotional and others are calculating, but each holds a personal view of themselves that leads them to the uncertain challenges of flying.

I realized later in life that not all share this need to excel, or the desire to be the first called.  I’m not sure how they can do their jobs without it, but it is there.  They find their fulfillment and satisfaction in other ways, and I am sure for them it is the right way.

After the service I return home to my family.  Families are the real heroes of any military operation.  The ones who must face the uncertainty alone, surrounded by friends and families who try but can not appreciate the fear and uncertainty of the future they feel.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


There is a low rumble somewhere in the distance.  It is unmistakable if you’ve spent most of your adult life around it.  It doesn’t increase, nor does it decrease.  It is just there in the background.  It is the sound of a C-130 bringing its four Allison turboprop engines to life in preparation for a flight.  Somewhere in the world, as you read this, there will be a C-130 starting engines.  Some crew will be preparing for their mission.
The C-130 has been in continuous production since 1955, and in that time the aircraft that was originally built to provide the US Army with tactical airlift has been adapted for almost any mission you can imagine.
They have been used to snatch men from the ground with a system called sky hook, they have caught satellites falling from the heavens with the All American system, they have flown low, dragging a hook to have cargo pulled out of them to support Kah San, or they have had their cargo pulled from them with extraction parachutes.
The aircraft has landed on an aircraft carrier, and Antarctic.  It has been equipped with rockets powerful enough to lift it off the ground in 300 feet when it weighted 175,000 pounds or stop in in the same distance.   Some have been modified to be the most accurate and deadly close air support platform known, and are in continuous demand when special operations teams need help.  Others have been equipped with special radars allowing them to fly 250 feet above the ground on nights so dark and weather so thick you can’t see the hand in front of your face.  Other's search for survivors, or refuel other aircraft needing fuel to complete their mission.
It has sniffed the air looking for radiation, and it has dropped the biggest conventional bombs ever made.  But perhaps it is best known as being the first aircraft sent to help with disaster relief.  It has dropped food to starving people on every continent and it has brought medical teams to victims of floods, earthquakes, tsunami’s, droughts, and civil wars.
It has fought wild fires, and feed starving cattle cut off by blizzards.   When villages are isolated by weather the C-130 and its crews find ways to get to wherever they need to be.
When Lockheed built the C-130 they gave it a name, I doubt anyone appreciated how appropriate it would be.  Hercules, the Roman and Greek hero known for his strength and perseverance, I think the C-130 has certainly lived up to his legends. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Thoughts on a Thursday (Well Almost Thursday)

The world was without form, it had no shape, no substance or purpose.  There was no light; there was no life, there was … nothing.  The sun was not, the universe was not, there was nothing as we know it.
There were no believers, either true or false, as we understand them.  Atheism did not exist, evolution did not exist, and nothing, as we understand nothing, was all there was.
Yet somehow everything came from that nothing.  The world was formed, and light was created.  The air we see in the cold morning breath was made, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, the life of this earth became.
Are we truly to believe this was all a random act?  How much harder it is to rationalize there is no God; than accept there must be.
Each of us must, at some point in our life, come to understand and accept our life and our role in that life.  If we believe we are in complete control, how difficult it must be to accept death.  Death may be postponed, delayed, put off, but it cannot be avoided.  If there is not a controlling force why is that?  Wouldn’t random chance mean at least some life forms would never die?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Entitled

We have become a nation of entitled.  I think this began with the creation of social security and the belief the government had to provide a national retirement system and safety net for the elderly.  Shifting the burden of care from the family to the state.  From there it was a simple leap to create social welfare for the unemployed and the unemployment compensation for those who’ve lost their jobs and are in temporary need.  Each of these is arguably a good thing and something a socialist country does to maintain its hold on the people and legitimize its role.
When the nation is populated by young people earning a living and paying taxes the system can work, but as the workforce ages, and the ratio of those paying in to those drawing out decreases there is an inevitable tipping point where the system must fail.  Couple this with a large segment of the population that has grown up believing they need not work or pay taxes and we accelerate towards that tipping point.  
Tie in the social system that says if you don’t earn sufficient dollars you not only don’t pay taxes but the government owes you an earned income credit, how can we not believe we are entitled to whatever we want?
Finally, create a tax system that is so labyrinth in its rules and regulations that if you can afford a good accountant you need not pay any taxes.  Once you accomplish this you have a financial system that mirrors the US. 
If you made over $33,000.oo in 2008 you were in the top half of all wage earners in the US.  This half of the population paid 97.3% of all the personnel income taxes collected.  The other 50% paid the remaining 2.7% or collected from the top half, because they were entitled.
Somehow our elected representatives and senators see nothing wrong in this structure, and wonder aloud about the radical Tea Party movement.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Morning Observation

On a sunny morning in Northwest Florida, corn feed leaf blowers don't work worth a tinker's damn.  This new ethanol mix is playing havoc with my lawn machines.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

On Trolls

It is funny the things you learn while reading political blogs.  The internet is really a reflection of the humanity in us.  In life we cluster with those of similar interests, and we really don't want to hear disagreeable opinions.

Conservative bloggers, when on point, write about the evil of large government interference and cost; when not, they are calling the liberals names.

Liberal bloggers, when they are on point, write about the virtue of a social structure where all our needs are addressed and how much better we are with large government; when not, they too revert to ugly name calling.  (see Why are Political Commentators so Mean?)

Something I should have understood long ago was political bloggers aren't writing to engage in active debate, they are just transmitting and anything that interferes with their transmission must be destroyed.

One blog I read had this link defining what a troll is, and even categorizes them. Defining Trolls  They assume the opposition has an army of these trolls just waiting to disrupt the free exchange of ideas by interjecting opposing or subversive threads into the conversation.

Political bloggers are the 21st century equivalent of the town criers who would stand on the corner yelling the news of the day, not seeking truth, simply yelling what they are told to, just to a wider town.  Political bloggers now educate themselves to identify and remove the offending comments before they do untold damage to the blog.

I suspect I am a bit trollish, I will occasionally interject a comment when I see something I disagree with, at least now I know why they aren't published.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ten Reasons Why Life Like Baseball?

1.  Most of the time you're just standing around
2.  To be successful you need to work well with others
3.  Occasionally you need to take risks
4.  If you always swing for the fences you will miss more than you hit
5.  Sometimes you need to sacrifice yourself for the greater good
6.  If you get knocked down you have to get back up and move on
7.  Each game you play is different than the last one
8.  You can't win if you don't play
9.  You've got to believe in yourself each time you are up to bat
10. Life throws you a lot of curves, if you can't hit them you won't succeed

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Birthday Ballon - Remembered

I came home this evening and my fourteen week old birthday ballon was not in its usual place.  It had wandered off to another room.  I think this is akin to what pets do when they are not feeling well.  They go to find a quiet dark place to rest and perhaps die.  

I tracked him down and brought him back, he showed signs of regaining his old self, but you could tell he just didn't have the helium he once had.  I couldn't stand to see him, a shadow of his former self, just hanging there and waiting for the inevitable leak that will mark the end.

So like a good friend I did the only human (I did mean this word and did not misspell humane) thing I could do.  I took him out to the trash to await the truck in the morning.  He will have one last taste of freedom as he is dumped into the compactor, but then he will become one with earth.

14 weeks and one day... how quickly helium passes.

An Update:  Today when the trash man came the balloon made its break for freedom and headed off into the sky seeking its freedom.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Life of a Balloon, Update 5

What are you looking at?
Well, here we are in week 14!  My birthday ballon has wandered off to the far corner of the room, no doubt in search of solitude, or perhaps seeking a better view out the window.  I am thinking we are approaching world record balloon age here.  Perhaps the stuff of legend in the world of helium filled balloons, or maybe the sign of our impending doom.  The first of a new generation of helium balloons that will rise up and take over the world.  Maybe he is just floating around waiting for the Red Sox to actually beat someone?

Tonight should be a great night.  The Boston Red Sox can't lose, they've been rained out.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In Tribute to the 8th AF

Near Savanna Georgia, along interstate 95 is a museum dedicated to the 8th Air Force, the men who carried the air war to Germany in WWII.  I don't think any of us today can appreciate the sacrifices these men made, flying missions with a 10 to 15% chance of being shot down.

They crew's where required to fly 25 missions before they would be rotated home.  In the early years of 1942 to 1944 very few crews made it to that magical number.

This was the organization made famous in the movie 12 O'Clock High, starring Gregory Peck, as well as a slew of others like The War Lover, starring Steve McQueen.

Just outside the museum is a memorial garden dedicated to the men and organizations of the 8th.  There is a replica of a typical English church these men would have seen outside their bases.  The church has some remarkable stained glass windows I would like to share.

Inside the museum is some fine artwork, reflecting the times they were in, as well as aircraft, in various stages of restoration, they flew.
A Navigator in his office

I have a very hard time understanding the scope of this force and when I see the information on where they were located I am stuck by the sheer magnitude of our effort.  US Army Air Forces Air Fields in East England.  

For what it is worth if you look at the map I was stationed at base #1  RAF Alconbury, just 50 years after the men who made the real sacrifices.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Just Another Day

It is pretty funny to read the blogs from the left and the right about how well this whole government shutdown threat has worked out.  Republican's got some concessions, the Democrat's look to keep funding for PP and NPR alive, and the President got to keep the Washington monument open for Denver school children.  Everybody wins! Well, kind of.  What you won't hear is how much federal funding we wasted preparing for the furloughs, and closing of select federal offices.

Just a couple of observations, if I might.  In 1995, when the Republican's allowed the government to shut down the President was nearing reelection.  He gained a tremendous boost in the polls, but he learned from the event and, at least with regard to the budget, cooperation between the legislature and the executive moved toward the center and by the end we had a balanced budget.

Does anyone really think this President and this Congress will learn that same lesson?  When the Presidents speech to the nation about the resolution of the problem is more campaign speech than anything else I am thinking we won't.

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Position (Part 4) Authority

Okay, so what have we covered so far, and what is my position?  First why are we here?  I think each must decide why we are here, but for me – I am a life created by God to be a part of this world and this humanity.  I have value, I have purpose and my life has meaning to both myself and to others who I affect.  When did my life start?  I believe it started at conception when an egg was fertilized and an embryo was created. If I were to die will the world go on without me?  Absolutely it will, but for some there would be a void.
So where does this leave us?  I have written, perhaps well, perhaps poorly, on what I believe to be foundation questions on the purpose of life and some concepts we need to consider in the discussion of life.  Now lets talk about who has the right to end life and where that authority comes from.
Starting with the issue of authority, I think there are only two possible answers.  Someone has either a legal authority or a moral authority to do, or not do, something.  The legal concept is quite clear and relatively simple to understand in concept, but as lawyers can point out we make it extremely complex in practice.  The state conveys on each of us a degree of legal authority to end life.  Each government is a little bit different but each holds the belief they have the ultimate right to govern the decisions of their population.  Some governments choose to not exercise the right to put people to death, but they fundamentally believe it is the states decision on this.
So what do I mean the state grants us the legal authority to end life?  I think this is easily explained in a simple illustration.  It is the middle of the night; you are awakened when a prowler enters your house.  In the dim light you see he or she is armed and when confronted threatens you.  You struggle and you kill the intruder.  Will you be prosecuted for murder?  Perhaps you will, but in all likelihood I think not.  You were protecting yourself, and the right of self-defense, especially in a home invasion, is viewed in most states as a justifiable use of deadly force.
Doctors have the authority to end life under certain circumstances and again this right is codified in the statutes.  In Roe v Wade the Court clearly vests the physician with the decision authority to terminate the life of the fetus, at least through the first trimester.  In today’s debate on pro-life and pro-choice it is always argued it is a woman’s right to choose, but in the landmark opinion the Justices never state it to be a woman’s right.  That has like most things been altered to suit the liberal agenda.
“(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician.”
So technically women in the United States don’t have a right to terminate a pregnancy, they only have a right to find a doctor who is willing to kill the fetus, and convince him of a medical need.  It is the doctor who has the authority to determine it is in the woman’s best interest.  Interestingly, convincing will usually involve little or no real consultation on the woman’s medical history.
What about moral authority?  What is it and who has the moral authority to end life? USLegal tells us moral authority is a philosophical concept that forms the basis for our government and our laws.  The other common definitions refer to the legitimacy of individuals who through their acts or their lives reflect back to us how we should live.
If we look at the life of Mother Teresa we see someone dedicated to the service of the poor.  She reflects what is good in us and as a result has great moral authority.  Billy Graham is another good example, a man committed to his religion and bringing people to God, he was respected, beloved, and I think would have great moral authority.   Gandhi, a man of peaceful resistance, committed to improving the lives of his people and securing for them the freedom from England,  his life shows us what we can be and as a result he had the moral authority to free a nation.
Perhaps it is my lack of research, or  my simple understanding, but I’ve not come across anyone who I believe has the moral authority suggesting the taking of  an innocent life is a good thing.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Congressional Showdown

So, once more we come to the brink of a governmental shutdown because politics becomes more important than governing for the common good.  Just as the Democrats did when they failed to pass the fiscal year 2011 budgets the Republican's now put self serving politics in front of the governing.

It is unfortunate we can't come together as a collective group and vote everyone out, but why should we expect from the Congress any behavior that is different then what we exhibit.

A fan for an opposing team is beaten senseless outside of a Dodgers game.  Union teachers threaten the state politicians.  When a Congresswoman is shot by a deranged man, the media blames Sarah Palin.  I wonder if the Roman's blamed the Goth's for their problems?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I was at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Warner Robins, Georgia this week.  They repair and perform maintenance on the C-5 Galaxy airplane there, so I would like to spend a few minutes recounting C-5 jokes and stories.  I think at least one of them I’ve mentioned in a previous post, but what the heck; it’s not like old people can’t repeat themselves.
If you fly into a base and see two C-5’s and one of them is up on jacks what does that mean?  There is only one set of jacks on the base.
The C-5 has 28 wheels in its landing gear.  In the early phase of the test program it was demonstrating its capabilities to a congressional supporter, Senator Stom Thurman.  On landing, about four or five wheels came off and when rolling down the runway.  Senator Thurman turned to the press and said “That’s why they put so many wheels on the thing.”
The C-5 program has the distinction of being the first program with a $1 billion dollar cost over-run.  That means they spent a billion dollars more than they planned to.  (Wikipedia)
When I was a new lieutenant at Dyess there was a C-5 accident in Oklahoma.  The C-5 had a hydraulic fire in the landing gear and was trying to make it into Tinker (its home base).  The fire was getting worse and they set the aircraft down on a small (3,000 ft) runway a few miles short of the Air Force Base.  They tore up the asphalt runway and as the slid to a stop the airplane sanded itself down to the flight deck.  The airport got a new runway and I think the farmer whose field they ended up in got a very expensive high tech barn.
How do you know you’ve landed your C-5 with the gear up?  Using the brakes doesn’t slow you down.  (proven by two pilots flying out of Travis AFB, CA)
My family and I were going on vacation one year and we were going to fly space available (free(ish)) from Travis AFB, CA to Hickam AFB, Hi.  When our names came up on the list we were given a choice of C-5 or C-141 and I made the mistake of taking the C-5.  We made it as far as the ramp where the airplane was parked.  As we drove up I saw the flight engineer and a maintainer looking up at the tail.  When they said to get off the bus I told my family to keep their seats.  Everyone got off and started walking to the airplane but the flight engineer, who said we wouldn’t be leaving that day because the tail didn’t look right, stopped them.  They all came back to the bus.
FRED = Financially Ridiculous Financial Disaster 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


This is my first attempt at blogging with an IPad. Don't think I will do it very often. I am at Warner Robins, Georgia for a couple of days. Drove up this morning after a night of severe weather. Boy were there a lot of trees down. In fact the downtown portion of Donaldsonville Ga was on fire. Interesting drive.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Stars at Night are Big and Bright

There is a cartoon I saw today.  It was a class full of people and one of the students had a smaller head.  The caption, "Mr. Osborne can I be excused, my brain is full?"   There are days I feel like that so I've decided to empty some of the useless knowledge I've gained over the past five or so decades.

First, how do you tell a star from a planet?  Stars twinkle (just like in the song), planets don't.

50% of the earths atmosphere is between the surface and 18,000 feet.

The real North pole is not the same place as your compass points to.  I think it is all a plot by Santa Claus to keep us from finding his home.

The shortest distance between two points is a great circle route.

East is least and West is Best, is the mnemonic we use to remember to add or subtract variation from a magnetic heading to get the true heading.

If you can fly above 60,000 feet the FAA says you can go wherever you want and they don't care.  Which leads me to a favorite story, one day Fort Worth Center is talking with an airplane.  The airplane call sign Hustler 51 asks for clearance to flight level 600 (60,000 feet).  The controller chuckles and says, "Hustler 51 if you can make FL 600 you are cleared!"  Hustler 51 says "Roger, descending"

If you want to know what time it is go to Time

Sea snakes are more poisonous than land snakes.

There are restaurants in Germany where you can take your dog, but not your children.  From what I've seen of some children this isn't a bad idea.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring in Northwest Florida

I love this time of year in Northwest Florida.  The days are cool to warm and the humidity is not oppressive.  You can be outdoors without wilting, and whatever activity you have planned is likely to go off without a weather hitch.
As the world greens up from its winter hibernation the songs of birds fill the air, and you can feel the renewal of life.  Despite the troubles we see in the news, everyday worldwide, there is something about the optimism of spring that lightens every aspect of the day.
The colors of spring range from yellows of the roses, and red hues of the Azalea to the emeralds of the waters off our beaches.  It is a time when everyone comes out from their shells to be renewed.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Atlas in New York

There was a time when the government spent a lot of money to put people to work.  They built infrastructure like building and roads, planted trees, created great engineering works like the Hoover Dam and in the process employed artists to enrich our lives.

Artists have always pressed the limits of sensibility but the enduring works seem to show us a future.  Funny thing, I don't think the average tax payer would object to this, but someone would and it would probably not be commissioned in todays world.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Day in Perspective

The clock silently moves forward, but for me it is time to start the day.  I glance at it, but just for the reassurance it really is time to face the future.  I roll out of bed and pad quietly to the kitchen to start the morning routine.  My responsibilities start with the cats.  Bama waits patiently for his breakfast, as the dominant he will eat his fill.  Ali cries, she always cries, but when it comes time to eat she turns up her nose.
Grinding the coffee and filling the pot to just the right level; the coffee starts.  The house is quiet except for the plaintive cries of the cat and the nasal intonations from the bedroom.  I plod back to the bath; to shower and prepare for the day.
Dressing, I have few hard choices.  My shirts are where they always are, my slacks wait my choice as usual.  Socks and shoes are in their places and of course a belt so I have something to buckle.  The house remains at rest and quiet in this early morning.
Silently to the kitchen and then the street to fetch the morning paper.  We have little news here in Northwest Florida, but the comics are a must for me.  Glancing at the front page I notice the ex-wife of a co-worker gets four years for racketeering.  Probably not enough, but her boss got five so what are you going to do?  What are you going to do…. a rhetorical question my father often asked.  I wonder, am I my father’s son.  I hope not.
I slip into my car for the 10-minute drive to base, and to work.  The IPod plays the songs of my youth and I think back to how I should have made different choices with friends I had.  What if I knew then what I know now, what would I have done better?
Through the gate, showing my identification.  How things have changed since 9/11.  Before, the base was open and inviting, now it is a fortress.  There are fears of attack and the work goes on to separate us from the population we are to protect.  Walls are everywhere, barriers abound.  To reach my desk from home I have to show my identification, enter a code to open a barrier, swipe a second identification (twice), enter a separate code and then pass another disinterested guard.  All because we are afraid of what could be.
At my desk I turn on my computers and clear away the clutter I am too lazy to file.  While the computers come to life I make a single cup of coffee.  I suppose it would be more social to wander off to the communal coffee pot, but I’ve come to love my little Keurig.  What shall it be today, Kona or Newman’s own? 
Proposals, questions, requests, and quarries; my day is filled with people asking for things, or me asking people for things.  We say we need to do with less, but somewhere along the lines the people at the top never get the memo.  I have bosses and I am a boss so stuff flows through me, around me, and sometimes just over me.
Someone in Washington needs to know some useless information in two weeks or life as they know it will end.  It is information that if we were to be accurate in providing would take six months to extract from our records.  We will spend 200 man-weeks extracting data from our files and when we can’t get it from our files it will come from some other orifice.  They will have data they won’t believe and we will all move on to the next great crisis.
I push forward a decision package so my General can approve a course of action.  He carries it to his boss, they mumble back and forth and he tells me what we should do, but he won’t sign the document.  If he signed it we would have something he could be held accountable for.  Can’t have that!  Our motto:  admit nothing, deny everything, and make counter accusations.
Lunch, an old friend is retiring.  I hate farewells, but I have to go.  I hate Thai lunch buffets, but I have to go.  Nice words, stupid gifts, ah well.
Back to the office for more paper shuffling, and a conversation with a Colonel in Tampa.  He has a job, I have a job, and we try and make sense of the rumors of direction the Generals haven’t signed up for.
Finally the end of the day and I make my escape.  I call home to see what medicines I need to pick up for my wife and she says the EPA was visiting and they took pictures she had of the great flood of ’07.  She is optimistic they will force the county to take action.  Can I pick up fish?  It’s Friday and she has to have fish.
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