Sunday, December 14, 2014

A festive article

Barry asked me to write a festive article.  Everyday is Christmas for a pilot. People ask “How are you?” “Awesome!” I answer.
I woke up. I am blessed with life; I woke up breathing non-toxic air under a roof that does not leak and in a warm bed with no one shooting at me. I went and brushed my teeth and drank some water with no fear of dysentery. What a magical time.  How many gifts I have!  Every day is Christmas for a pilot.
My breakfast was nutritious and delicious. I do not want for food as a matter of fact I have to restrain my gluttonous tendencies. I am blessed more than most; I kiss my wife and my children as I leave for the airport.  Should I take my truck, or my car, or my motorcycle? What a magical time.  How many gifts I have!  Every day is Christmas for a pilot.
I get a standard weather briefing on the way to the airport.  I live in a delightful time where I can speak to another human that is miles away and discuss the intricate knowledge gained from satellites and radar.  What a magical time.  How many gifts I have!  Every day is Christmas for a pilot.
Arriving at the airport I am greeted by my friends as I head out to pre-flight the aircraft.  I examine with exacting glee the product designed by geniuses and shaped by of hundreds of skilled craftsmen.  What a magical time.  How many gifts I have!  Every day is Christmas for a pilot.
After some time I find myself applying throttle and accelerating down the runway.  Before you know it we are in the air and climbing!  Some days I get to fly in and out of the clouds. I get to glimpse at sights that only the birds and the angels see. Last night was a light show.  Ribbons of light made of angry motorists stuck in traffic but it's beautiful to me. What a magical time.  How many gifts I have!  Every day is Christmas for a pilot.
After multiple vectors to and fro we roll out on final and see the approach lights all in a row, flashing white leading to the green and red of the runway with beautiful blue lights of the taxiways trimming the edges with wisps of green taxiway centerlines. What a magical time.  How many gifts I have!  Every day is Christmas for a pilot.

Sometimes I get to give people their first ride in an airplane. What a magical time.  How many gifts I have!  Every day is Christmas for a pilot and some days you get to be Santa Claus. Merry Christmas.

Pain number

"What is your pain number?" is a question the medical professionals ask. 
I do not know how to answer. 
They say "Using a scale one to ten where zero is no pain and ten is 'the worst pain you can imagine.'"
'The worst pain I can imagine" is not physiological. 
How about the worst pain I can remember, and that just makes you pass out.  I do know that the more I pay attention to pain the more it hurts.  (See the post on nueroplasiticity.) 
That being said what number do I assign when it makes me lose control of my bowels? 
How about makes me curl up in a ball and cry like a female dog? 
What number is it when the hairs on my arm stick out straight?
What about it make you walk all funny?
Six point seven nine is my final answer. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A day in the swamp

I live on a swamp.

Why do I live on a swamp?

Because I purchased a house on a was a good price.
I may be Shrek.  I am an ogre.

DWARF, not a midget!
I was born in Baton Rouge, LA and, as a child lived in the woods.  I also spend time in the desert.
I LOVE the swamp.  A day of silence in the center of a vibrantly alive piece of North Carolina wetlands brings peace.
Among my  companions were three species of duck, two or more flavors of geese, and a heron.

It was and is a cold wet cloudy day.  "If it ain't rainin' we ain't trainin'" was the refrain used during my youth. Adapting to the environment is evolutionary so it is no wonder I feel right at home in the swamp.  There are several life changing big events coming and I need to clear my head.  Being silent outside in the world grounds me like nothing else. 

Who kilt Christmas

I don't know who kilt Christmas but he lives in my neighborhood and it looks like he did in Frosty as well.

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.