Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Coats, cans, and kickers

How many coats does a man need?
If you boil it right down to the essence, we only need one coat. And that's only if its cold , rainy, windy or other hazards. During a motorcycle wreck I would like to have on my body a strong leather jacket. If I were in an airplane crash I would want a fire proof jacket. If I were in battle I would want a bullet proof jacket that makes me invisible to my enemy and visible to my ally.

  So the question is, rather, how many coats SHOULD a man have.?
My son identified four; a dress coat, a warm casual coat, a wind and/or waterproof coat and a work coat. 
My daughter added a motorcycle jacket and perhaps a flying jacket.  My wife is convinced that I'm insane and looked at me like I was from a different planet when I asked her. The dog and the cats firmly back the one coat theory.

What a ridiculously materialistically blessed human am I? I suspect that there are people in Harnett county then cold of the last few weeks they do not own a coat and I have more than enough.  I'm not planning on giving all of my coats away but merely the excess. Then I have to identify the moral issues of giving away coats that were gifts to me. I only have a few coats that I actually bought for myself.  Each of these pieces of cloth have meaning.  Much of my cold weather attire was issued.  My lovely bride gave me the majority of my wardrobe including the winter stuff.

I have identified that I have an excess number of coats and I am going to give some of them away.  Forgive me for being so selfish that I want to keep more than one. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ten years after

I retired from the USAF ten years ago.  I have been blessed to be able to earn a living as an instructor.  My roles have included performing as an adjunct instructor for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, as a rider coach for the North Carolina motorcycle safety program and as an independent flight instructor.  I have the pleasure of helping people learn about things I love. 
Years ago I was returning to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan from a deployment and I noticed a sign “Kadena Aero Club.”  I signed up for a discovery flight and I was immediately hooked.  I landed, took my Harley off order and signed up for 30 days of leave.  My instructor, and dear friend, Naoya Tamanaha taught me how to fly.  He is a brave and patient man who provided an excellent example of how to combine precise professionalism with endless enthusiasm.  Flying has allowed me to interact with a multitude of interesting people. 
During the last ten years I have logged over six thousand hours and had the pleasure of working with over 200 individuals.  Fifty of those folks went on to complete a rating or certificate.  Some of them were returning to flight after a long hiatus and others were blank canvass that I was able to mold in the image of my mentors.  The saying “we see so far because we stand upon the shoulders of giants” especially applies to aviation.  My teachers and mentors each gave me additional tools and insights in both the technical aspects of flight and the art of instruction.  My students have inspired me, scared me and, at times, frustrated me.
Inspirational students include Jessica who overcame a physical disability and went on to set world records in the light sport category.  When I feel like complaining about my ailments I am shamed into silence.  If I had her heart nothing would stop me. 
Emmanuel is another student that taught me about life.  He started his aviation journey as a young man, too young to drive.  He had plans, I remember him telling George how he was going to proceed through the ratings and become an airline pilot.  It was my privilege to help him achieve his goals.  We had to wait until his birthday on several occasions because he was too young for the FAA rules.  He is living his dream.  His level of maturity and focus are indeed motivating but how he treated people was even more enlightening.  As a young, talented aviator he had every right to be proud and this often leads to arrogance.  But he showed humility in his words and deeds.  Whether interacting with “air bullies” who seek aggrandizement over their ratings, aircraft or experience or speaking to timid potential students he was respectful and candid.
One of the joys of aviation is the fact that the airplane does not care who you are.  Rich or poor, regardless of race, color, sexual orientation or creed it is merely physics and the human machine interface. If you are truly honest there are no excuses only performance or lack of.  Either you are humble when you start or the aircraft affords you opportunities to learn humility.  The students that scared me include ones that were arrogant and did not recognize their limitations and occasionally ones that surprised me during critical phases of flight or fright. 
The students that frustrate me divide into two basic categories ones who fail to achieve because they won’t listen and those whom I can not figure out how to present the material.  This may be different sides to the same issue.  Either I do not know what to say or do that will allow the student to learn the skill or knowledge or I have not presented it in a manner that they think is useful.  I am rarely frustrated because a large part of the fun of teaching is to figure out how to present the same material translated for the individual. 
  Some people ask "when are you going to move on to bigger and better things?"  I have no plans to move on because it is hard for me to think of too many things that are more fulfilling. 
            I need to start a series of “inspirational people” so I can talk about George, Sam, Stan, Gene, Betsy, James, John, Tonya, Jay, Hanna, Catherine, Len, Greg, Bob, Grover, Jan, Kory, Harrison, Ashok, Emily, Shelley, Mauricio, Steve, William  and many others.  What a great time I have had, I look forward to the next ten…(second, minutes, days, weeks, years). 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


We had a great time on Halloween.  I dressed up as myself working in the garden on a cold winter day.  Hat for the sun, jacket for the cold and the face mask Angie and Tina got so I can ride my bike in the winter.  I had my tools, hatchet, machete, and what I refer to as my Molly Hatchet...I did not include the flame thrower.  
The price the children had to pay for the candy was to tell me "WHO ARE YOU?" and to pet Ben. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

One year and two days

One year and two days ago I rang the gong.  The gong hangs in the UNC radiology department of the cancer hospital.  When you finish your treatment regimen you can ring the gong.  I hit it with all my might.  At that point I had lost 30% of my body mass and had been puking for about three weeks so I was pretty weak. 
Since then I have recovered enough to get my medical and return to flight instruction.  I still don’t have the stamina to attempt motorcycle instruction, mainly because of the long hours on the range with out protection from the elements.  I try to PT most everyday.  I am still too weak to put on a good show but I am getting stronger.  The pain still sucks a lot of the fun out of things but it builds character. 
Thank God for my lovely wife and awesome friends and family. 

Friday, October 17, 2014


Don't pet a burning dog

Look both ways before you cross the street

Use caution when applying capsaicin cream on your body parts

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Good friends and a bottle of wine

            The lyrics to a song from my youth ran through my mind as I sat down to eat with my good friends.  It is wonderful to be healthy and happy.  My buddy invited me over for dinner and I got to meet two more of his adult children.  We spent the night discussing nothing and everything.  God has really blessed me by putting a lot of interesting people in my life.  

            A few days later another buddy came over to help me with some home repairs and we ended up shooting the bow at the zombie targets.  Life is good.  Funny thing I did not have any wine either time.      


Thursday, September 4, 2014

What to do with my second chance

            Last year I had been cut on, poisoned and fried.  I was in a fairly miserable state physically.  God put wonderful people in my life that strengthened my resolve to fight.  I survived for some reason.  The fundamental questions of life are more pointed when we brush up against our own mortality.  What is my purpose on earth?  Does my life have meaning? 
My personal mission is to increase beauty and happiness, decrease fear and ignorance by exemplary conduct.  Be a pillar in times of crisis.  I seek balance and want to make logic-based morally just decisions.  Wisdom, integrity, and happiness are what I want.
I wrote that back in the 1990s after much soul searching.  I revisit this every so often with the intention of revising it.  Perhaps replacing happiness with joy and adding something about love are the only edits I have contemplated for twenty years.  But really who gives a flip about what feel good bumper sticker you have on your sleeve what really counts are actions.
This goes back to my current quandary.  You ain’t dead.  Should you stay in your current profession and location or pursue something else or somewhere else?