Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Reflections on my Sabbatical

  I am returning to instructing after a year of reflection.  "What do you want to do with your life?" is a question we should ponder.  In the rush of daily life we sometimes find that ten years have passed and we wonder about eternal questions.  I survived cancer; is this what I want to do with my new lease on life?

 I think it is called a mid-life crisis.

Have I lived a meaningful life?  What type of legacy have I left?  Am I on the correct path?  How does one measure success?   

More specific questions.

Do you want to be an airline pilot?
An aerobatic instructor?
A retired dude surfing in the Philippines?

These are questions should not be answered lightly.

I read the good book and several other good books searching for answers.  I spent time with my loved ones and time alone. 

I determined that my mission remains unchanged.  I think sharing the joys of life with others is an appropriate occupation.  I remain enthusiastic about human factors and physics.  I love learning and sharing that process with others.

The FAA rewrote most of the books but the laws of gravity remain unchanged. 

I am glad to be back!  Retirement does not suit me. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Memorial Day

  "Happy Memorial Day" is not the proper greeting.  I truly did reflect on the fallen.  I did not attend any ceremonies but spent the day with my family.  I wrote down the names of my fallen brothers and said a prayer for each of them and their families.  I could deal with it for forty five names but then the emotion started to overwhelm me. 
  I am sure that most, if not all, of my brothers would agree that the reason they fell was to lift us up.  To kiss my wife and family, to celebrate the day and feast upon the blessings of our great nation. 
  I know a veteran who served in the US Navy in WWII during the liberation of the Philippines.  He left home for "the duration."  My wife's grandfather was beheaded by the Japanese during the occupation.  If DK had not done his part it is likely that my wife and I never would have met.  Thank you.  I am privileged to know him.  There are thousands that had as much of an impact that I do not know.  Thank you.

  I try to live my life and raise my children to recognize the power of ideas.  The US Constitution and Declaration of Independence spell out great truths.  Individual humans are important.  The idea that we can live without a king was quite shocking.  An armed freeman terrifies despots and tyrants.  It is distressing that the public seems concerned with bathrooms, gorillas and celebrity gossip rather than justice.  Our external enemies are cowards hiding behind women and children unwilling to meet in uniform on the field of battle.  Our internal enemies are apathy and selfishness. 

  Pray for peace, pray for our country.  Thank God that we have brave souls willing to fight for us. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Best Caregiver ever

My Caregiver is the Best

              God blessed me with the best caregiver.  She loved a stinky punk rock skateboard paratrooper.  We have been together almost thirty years.  She took care of me through broken bones, broken hearts and broken dreams.  She loves me and prayed for me, I imagine since we met.  She left her country, her family and risked it all with an insane young man. 

              We met.  We like.  I can talk her into and out of anything.  It took several months for the Air Force to approve our marriage.  They investigated her since it was the middle of the cold war.  We had to get written permission from our parents to get hitched.  That was a Pilipino law.  I met her father, once.  He asked if I would keep her safe.  I had to get my supervisor and commander’s approval.  I was released from work a few hours early.  Still in my jungle fatigues my then pregnant wife hopped on my motorcycle to get married at the justice of the peace.  That is one crazy woman.

              It turned out that Judge Lansong knew her father personally.  He yelled at her in their native tongue!  Her father was a police officer in Manila.  I was worried.  I know why we have witnesses at weddings and trials.  I was first arrested at seven years of age!  Many years later when people meet your wife they will say “I can’t believe that woman would marry THAT man.”  Anyway we got married and then we were able to get her glasses.  Then she was worried. 

              A few weeks later she got her first airplane ride!  When we left Clark Air Base in the Philippines it was undoubtedly very hot and humid.  We landed in Anchorage Alaska several hours later.  She was shocked at how cold it was, and frightened of the stuffed Kodiak bear in the airport.  Welcome to America. 

              My parents are normal scary Americans.  Soon we were on our way driving cross country in a 1967 Oldsmobile.  We left California and she would not sleep because she did not believe I could drive a car.  A motorcycle at breakneck speeds in and out of traffic in the Philippines but not that boat of a car in my hometown.  I made sure we stopped at the Grand Canyon on the way.  I was a low ranking airman so we slept in the car.   She held me tight because she was worried about the bears.  The next morning I showed her the GRAND CANYON…she said “I’m cold.” 

              We stopped in Louisiana to visit my grandmothers.  I took her out to the cabin in the woods that my parents and I had built.  She would not get out of the car because she was afraid of the “axe murders.”  It did not reassure her when I told her that most of the killers in Louisiana use guns and stay in town.  Next!

              I made sure to get some good ol’ Georgia peaches as we approached the Carolinas.  I fixed them up with sugar and cream.  She tried it but looked like she would throw up.   Next stop Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Soon we had a house and our first child was born.  My caregiver took care of me and our kids around the world and supported me throughout my military career.  War, injuries, and all the pleasures of part-time single parenting.  As a special operator I was deployed two-hundred to three-hundred days a year.

              When I was broken so bad I could not get dressed she took care of me.  She would yell at me if I got blood on my uniform, even if it was not mine.  She fed me and encouraged me no matter what I wanted to do.  I was able to complete three degrees and become a pilot.  All this was before I was diagnosed with cancer. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Suicide, homicide and other unpleasant realities

  The recent suicide/homicide at Lackland AFB is tragic.  A high stress training environment brings out the best and worst in people.  Serious training for serious business shaves pretentions away and what is left is raw humanity.  When a trainee does not meet standards and faces elimination their world is shattered.  Letting them know that it is not the end of the world is a difficult task.  Telling them “Thanks for trying, most people don’t even show up for the entrance exam” can seem cruel.  Understanding that when attempting to become elite sometimes we just don’t meet standards.  That is why they are elite. 

Preparing warriors for the battlefield is not an easy task.  Pray for them. 

Monday, April 4, 2016


              I am an American mutt, the product of several waves of immigrants.  Some legal, some already here when the laws were made up and maybe even some illegals.  I don’t know since I am American.  We only keep track of a few generations back. 

              Some Germans legally immigrated and then moved to Texas and told the Indians to move.  The legally immigrated Spaniards disputed this and war ensued.  Raping and pillaging probably happened on both sides and pretty soon your grandchildren look like your former enemy. 

              The legally immigrated Europeans fought and died on both sides of the Civil War.  Were the slaves legal immigrants?  Breaking the law is not cool unless the law is immoral, then compliance with the law is wrong.  Slavery is wrong. 

              We are a nation of immigrants.  We have a history of hating and oppressing the latest wave of foreigners coming to take what’s ours.  Even if what is ours was taken from others.

              Trying to live up to the preamble of the Declaration of independence should be the focus. 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

              Human rights are an interesting concept.  We need to recall that just because the other human is not complying with our will does not turn them into an animal.  Contrast this with a human who violates the rights or murders others, still not an animal but maybe Texican rules apply.  But that is an entirely different discussion


              The political season is quite contentious.  We have the government we deserve.  Although the turmoil we see these days is distressing a little perspective is reassuring. 

              In my lifetime there were riots at the political conventions, police were using water cannons and clubs to deny Americans basic civil rights and the military killed student protestors.  Despite the insanity that attempts to tear our nation apart and separate us we are moving in a relatively peaceable manner toward the orderly transfer of power by an electoral process.  The American people seem unimpressed by idiots attempting to divide us by race, religion, income, gender, sexual orientation or other method. 

               I hope the passion that some people feel will last long enough to hold the elected accountable.  The elections are important but the years between are why we “hired” them.  Perhaps this is the year the stranglehold of the two party system will collapse.  I mainly vote against the candidates perhaps this year people will say NO to (red vs. blue) and pick one of the other choices.  That would be funny.

              The “powers that be” have tapped into anger, pray that we remain civilized. 

Twenty-nine years

              I have an amazing wife.  She loves me despite all my faults.  She has stuck by me in sickness and in health.  We recently celebrated our wedding anniversary.  Twenty-nine years and I still find her irresistibly attractive.  We used to make people ill because we were the sickly sweet love birds, now it is because we are the old married couple. 

              Thank God for letting me get to know this woman.