Out all day today on various errands, and returned to find the animal control officer parked in our driveway, looking for my daughter’s dog, Cooper (aka Rocket Dog). The animal control people now have a state-of-the-art computer complete with automatic vehicle locator, and they are following up on licenses. She moved to Windy City three years ago. This visit suggests how hard up the county is for $$ eh? It also suggest a day when mobile computers might track every thing we do, Big Brother style.

Our most recent walk and snowfall combined to  produce interesting photos.

And my blog entry on the Gliding Brick Flight (e.g.,the flight profile of a KC-135 without fuel) brought a few comments from former K.I. Sawyer, USAF guys.

The U.S. lost the gold medal game to Canada 2-0 yesterday in women’s hockey, but the men whacked the Finns today 6-1 and will play for the gold tomorrow. I won’t be surprised in the opponent is Slovakia rather than the favored Canada, eh?


Cooper the Rocket Dog
One of the last snowmen of the season, and one of the most creative. Looks like he should be hanging with Akroyd and Belushi in the Blue Bros, eh.
Sometimes all this snow puts trees in a lousy mood.
Did you guess sumac? You should have.
More sumac.
When first seen this fellow was trying to ride his bike and wobbling and flopping like an eel on ice.
Our last snowfall was only 8-10 inches, but heavy and even pretty in the ways it piled on.

Night of the Gliding Pig

Back in 1969 I was  saving leave in preparation for getting out of the USAF the following year, and my own crew was on leave, and I was called in to substitute for the navigator of another crew one  afternoon; this story reports the bare basics of the event.  Some day I will write more in depth about the events, but for now this should suffice. Our 46 Air Refueling Squadron Reunion is coming up next September in Marquette and this will undoubtedly be one of the stories that gets chewed over. It always does. It is hilarious now. It was not so funny during or immediately after the events herein described.

I just read something this morning  on the squadron site about the great KC-135 glider flight of August 1969, it was written after the fact  by someone who was not involved,  and I decided I’d better put the story right. As previously stated, I was the substitute navigator on the crew that day; we started off with several hours of transition,  which means touch-and-goes, various approaches, etc, up-down, up-down; the crew’s copilot needed a recheck on an Instrument Landing System [ILS] approach. After several hours of up and down, the IP came out and climbed aboard and wanted to get the ILS done, but was informed the KI Sawyer ILS was broken and not in service, so we had to go to Kincheloe. Why he didn’t already know this has always puzzled me. We knew before we flew by checking Notams, etc. He asked for clearance going east at 10 or 12  K feet. When asked if he was sure about the requested altitude, he said, “You’re right, get 6 K or 5 K.’ whichever was the appropriate level for east bound. As a crew we expected to quickly pop up above 20,000 ft. to save fuel on the  run east, then drop back down. We were all dumbfounded by the altitude request which would keep us down at a level where consumption rates would be high.

All the way to Kincheloe, the pilot and copilot debated the need to stop and refuel. The IP would hear none of it. The copilot on final at Kincheloe said he was going to land to top off our fuel. The IP said, “You will make a missed approach and that is an order. Our fuel is all right.” We thus dutifully made the missed approach and headed back to KI Sawyer, this time only a thousand difference in altitude than on the trip over. You could almost hear the engines slurping JP-4. The copilot looked back at me and raised his eyebrows. We began to experience fuel starvation around Munising. At that point the IP told the AC to get out of the left seat, and in sliding down into position, he pulled back two throttles, not to idle, but to off. Once in his seat, he restarted the engines, another waste of fuel.

Thus we lumbered west and somewhere between Munising and Skandia the AC and copilot made it clear we had serious fuel problems. Thus, the IP now shut down two engines (the same two he had shut down and restarted once before). Then things began to become frantic as the copilot and IP played with fuel tanks, trying, I assume, to get a handle on what we actually had and to move fuel from tank to tank to get the best possible balance, etc. At one point between Skandia and the runway, the copilot suggested we declare a Mayday and the IP vehemently rebuked him . “We do not have an emergency.” But now engines were beginning to starve out and go silent and reluctantly the IP said on the interphone: “Prepare to bailout.” By then we were all strapped into our chutes and the boomer stepped up and pulled the bar and blew the escape hatch. I stood by my nav seat, looking down, watching trees pass below. The IP was silent through all of this, and the boomer, seeing that we had no engines and were in flying brick mode, said, “I’m out of here, sir,” grabbed the bar, pulled up his knees, let go and away he went. I stepped forward and looked at the fuel panel. The IP was fiddling with everything. The AC, sitting in the jump-seat, was silent.  The panel read all zeros. I said, “Okay, we’re gliding and I’m out of here.” I then did what the boomer did and my chute popped, I had time to check that it was deployed and full, and then I was sliding down the side of a white pine. Beyond my chute I could see two other chutes, the boom operator and I was not sure who else. When I stepped out, I could look down at the trees and all I could hear was the soft whistle of wind coming up through the hatch. All four engines were dead and windmilling.

On the ground, I popped my riser releases and reeled in my beeper and turned it off. Then I heard a voice yelling for help. I spread my chute on a tree so I could mark my place and went and found the AC hanging in a small tree, and helped him to get down. We then build a fire in a small clearing and waited for the cavalry, which finally arrived about 0130 and was lost The copilot did not get out until 0430. He  had landed on an island in creek, after one swing in his chute; there he  built a fire only to have had a bobcat or lynx scream at him and the fire from 20-30 yards away until almost dawn.

The night before the flight evaluation board [F.E.B] I got inappropriate phone calls from someone with Stanboard  “suggesting”  If I knew what was good for my career, I would testify a certain way, which made it obvious someone wanted to blame the boom operator for all that had happened. I told him I was going to testify the way it happened. Period.

At the F.E.B, Colonel Bert Brunner (our former 46 ARS CO) said, “You guys didn’t have the order to bailout.”

I said, “Yes sir, that’s true because the pilot was out of his seat and silent and the tanks were empty, the four engines were out, and as far as we were concerned the IP was dead. We had been given the order to prepare to bailout, which we had. And altitude was falling fast and we knew it was time to get out.” I told the board if they were going to try to pin everything on the boomer, I knew ways to make the whole thing quickly nationally public and very, very messy. After the boomer, myself and the AC had bailed out, the copilot asked the IP if he could go to and only then somewhere between Skandia and the runway did the IP agree that a Mayday should be declared. Which it then was, and then the copilot jumped from his seat to the bar, took one second to stabilized and dropped out the escape hatch. The first thing I did when I landed in my chute was disconnect my O2 mask and listen for the thump of an explosion, which I never heard. As the crow flies it is about 6 miles from Skandia to the north end of the runway at the base. The terrain between is some of the nastiest in the U.P.

There were lots of funny events during the course of this goat rodeo, but the funniest concerned my wife, Sandy. The CO and a chaplain showed up at our house and she talked them through the screen door and the CO sort of mumbled and hemmed and hawed and finally said, without looking her in the eye, “We think your husband’s crew has had a little problem.”

“What kind of little problem?” she shot back.

“They bailed out – but we think they’re okay.” By now the two are trying to push their way inside to take care of the little lady of the house.

She stared at them and said, “Did they bail out over land or over water?”


Sandy said, “Okay, my husband will be fine, you guys can go, and closed the door in their faces.

I had parachuted before and I had always told her that if I got out over land not to worry, that the only worry should be an over-water bailout. She had taken what I had said as gospel.

When we applied to the Caterpillar Club for membership we were turned down because our aircraft had “never been disabled” and thus there had been no need for a bailout. Despite the board finding that the deployment of the weighted hatch plus the loss of  600-800 pounds of human meat was adjudged the critical factor that allowed the IP to dead-stick the pig to the ground short of the runway. In other words, our getting out prevented a crash. Talk about ironic.

The story of that night’s emergency  got released to the media before we were found and we were all listed publicly as “missing.”  The headlines the next day read, “Engines on Fire, Pilot Orders Crew to Bail Out.” Where to you supposed that fantasy came from?

Ah, them were the days. We were the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th people to ever parachute safely from a KC-135.


Snow Day

All schools in the area are closed  today, at all levels. Rained last night, followed by heavy wet snow. Streets are ice rinks. And the U-ESS-Eh dey beat dose Kanadas  fi-t’ree (5-3) you betcha, thanks mainly to a former Michigan State goalie. Good thing the YankCanuck had cleared town or he might have been homicidal, or something.  Photos today from the Bullshido Half Dinner of Saturday. Enjoy your week. Over.

Patychkys are labor-intensive. You marinate pork and beef over night, then put them on skewers, roll skewers alternately in Panko crumbs and eggs, brown lightly in the pan, as depicted here, then throw them into the oven. We used them as a first, but they would have made a meal all on their own.
Meat sticks all done, lukovey vzhar cooking in pan (honey-onion sauce). The house she smell purt good all day!
Special wines. These were made with juice for Barolo in 2009. Reg and Marcia scanned book covers for wine labels. Their homemade Barolo is fantastico, as is their white called Luna Blanco!
Snacks in the Studio
His Majesty, snug on the couch.
Snowcayman -- ready to ice you to death if you're not prepared outside.

Time Moves, Life Happens, Memories are Made

Friends Mike and Sue from Arizona took a four-wheeler ride along the Mexican border, in the Sonoma Desert area on Friday, February 19. At one point they encountered a uniformed group of men on the other side of the border, with a Hummer. They were packing AK-47s. Some had their faces covered with ski masks. Because of dust, the four-wheeler crew is usually spread out over hundreds of yards and Mike happened to arrive as first of eight machines total and he got the impression that the army guys were trying to intimidate him with various gestures but as other riders joined him the uniforms drifted south and out of sight. Over five years of riding the same area, and dozens of trips, Mike had never before seen uniformed men. But he has heard all sorts of stories about corruption being endemic in the Mexican army. Later that day Mike talked to the Border Patrol about the incident and they informed him there was a 50-50 chance the uniforms were up to no good. Mike says, “One thing is for sure. They did NOT want their pictures taken.” Naturally he had one, which is shared herein.

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Soviet US Olympic hockey game at Lake Placid. The kind of upset that took place that day can never happen again because back then we had college kids playing on a team formed only 6 months before and many of the Soviet players had dominated the world as teammates for eightteen years. Ironically Ted Swaboda sent me a wonderful photo of an eagle taken over in the Saugatuck area, and I include that as well.

The bullshido bash last night was fun. Will post a coupla pix tomorrow. Needless to say, way too many libations and calories. We have a winter weather warning for tonight and tomorrow. It is moving up from Indiana, shadowing the YankCanuck, which strikes me as making perfect sense in an imperfect world. The US plays Canada today in Olympic hockey. Go U.S. But not the same panache as three decades ago. And by the way, from the department of little known facts, Captain Mike Erruzione before making the US team was playing for the Toledo Blades in the old IHL. Had he not made the US team, he would have played for the Kalamazoo Wings in the Eye. I’m glad he never showed up here.


Encounter on the border
Swoboda's Eagle

Musings of a Technoflop

This isn’t exactly a rant, but earlier tonight a TV ad bade me download a song: To where, I thought, to my brain? I have no cable TV beyond local stations, or PIN numbers, no satellite dish, no debit card, have never used an ATM, watched Blu- Ray, or used an I-phone, I-pod, Blackberry, or MP-3. Hell I don’t know what most of that stuff even is.   I have a basic computer, with free software downloaded by someone else. My software does not include Power Point or a publishing program. I have word processing, just like when I had a typewriter, but this is a lot better. Still, I don’t use spell check because it is often wrong at the wrong times.  I don’t own a laptop and I prefer a mouse, not a touch-pad. I’ve never seen one of them work worth a damn. Back in my corporate days an computer dude announced to me that our computer could do 100,000 calculations a second. I replied, “I can type 40 words a minute. Why should I care? Because it’s better, he said.  For whom, not for me. He had no answer.

I don’t use GPS as a hand-unit, or in my truck, and I never owned a fuzz buster when they were in vogue.  I didn’t grow up digital and I haven’t gone postal. My generation didn’t label itself the greatest. We lost the only war we fought — not out where it was actually contested in blood, but back here by those same folks who lost morale and now “support our troops,” which is pretty much abject bullshit. As long as they are not involved, or one of their kids, most people flat don’t care what happens to war-fighters. They just don’t.

We still had a draft and most men registered and went when called, or volunteered. Some ran to Canada. They weren’t missed. They were later given amnesty, were not welcomed back, and as far as I know, haven’t contributed much to anyone or anything since. I’d like to see the draft brought back, and all men and women called. I’d like to see two years of national service be mandatory for all citizens. I know it will never happen.

The Internet is connected at my house by a high-speed line, but it’s like taking an express train to the epicenter of all bullshit and misinformation, with nobody bothering to check facts, or veracity.  I have call-waiting on my phone but have no idea how to use it. I consider its use rude at best.

Newspapers, which in our time played societal watchdogs and referees , are now dying. Free media are worth exactly what we pay for them, which is nothing. I blog, you blog, everybody blogs: Who cares? It’s all blather, just like this entry.

I’ve never owned flip-flops, much less worn them. It never occurred to me to duck military service for college. We didn’t get medals or blue ribbons simply for participation and our peers didn’t call themselves peers or walk around giving “man-hugs” and declaring “I love you” to every wanker that mouth-breathed and took up space on planet earth.

The Y generation allegedly prides itself in speaking its mind, and so far they don’t seem to have much to say collectively. We multi-tasked and didn’t make a thing out of it.  We didn’t play computer games and we engaged in actual problem solving rather than the virtual form; texting was done on paper, not secretly over a telephone by some snot-nose in the back row of class when the teacher isn’t looking.  Students who habitually disrupted class and school got their butts kicked and were expelled from school and not invited back. They weren’t missed.

The legal system in this country used to trumpet rehabilitation, which was never more than rhetoric . Our legal system has always been punitive, is now, and ever shall be. Those who get ensnared in the system have one hell of  time getting out and most never make it. They never have.

Music has rarely moved me and I find music and those who play it less and less interesting more and more. The Cronicles of Narnia bored me, and so too did Harry Potter.  I’m glad Harry Potter encouraged a lot of young people to read. What are we going to do for older people who need the same boost?

I went to a public school, graduated in a class of 58 and have done just fine. Why public schools can’t do that anymore, I don’t know and I don’t believe they can’t and aren’t. Just a guess, but I’m thinking the same school systems which were in trouble and under-performing when I was a kid are the same ones still having troubles, only those problems are deeper now.

The only thing globalization helps is the shareholders community.

I haven’t seen Avatar and have no interest in doing so. I enjoy Blue Man Group. That’s enough blue for me unless it’s a sky color.  I’ve never enjoyed animated films. 3D started out when I was a kid. It was silly thing then and continues to be so.

Want to see computer reality? Watch the avionics in  US Navy fighter flying a synch (sink) rate and ball onto a carrier deck at night. A computer tried to manage our first lunar landing, but Neil Armstrong had to disconnect it and land manually because the computer was about to put us into the rocks. That’s a good lesson to remember. For people like Armstrong and carrier pilots, nothing’s pretend, and there are no daily awards other than the satisfaction of knowing you get to keep living if you do your job right.

We had lots of small hot wars and One Big Honking Cold One. As school kids, we practiced sitting under our desks or along the walls in hallways awaiting nuclear attack by the Soviets. Nobody thought it was a game and nobody was laughing while the practices went on.

We had a selective service, military draft, and the vast majority of us registered as the law required, and went when we were called. A lot of us even volunteered. We had the GI Bill after Vietnam. It had not changed since World War II, twenty years before, and was marginal at best. There were no bonuses for signing up for military service. Nobody looked at you like you were a Martian if you volunteered. Most of our dads and uncles had served the country: Why not us?  It took forever to get paid by the government, and when there were glitches, nobody in government gave a shit. Just like now. The emotionally and physically wounded were sort of patched up, then dumped, and mostly ignored forever after. Apparently that hasn’t changed all that much, though today’s prostheses seem a whole lot better. They surely do.

We wore baseball hats that fit, with the bills pointed forward and the logos on the crest reflected teams, not social statements. We didn’t have Columbine. We had Manson, Richard Speck, Son of Sam, and Kent State.  I admit it: I’m  a technoflop.  But I am not a Luddite. Change is fine and natural, part of evolution, but change for the sake of change and the resulting chaos are not.

I do not expect the government to provide 100 percent safety from terrorists. They haven’t in the past, why would they be able to do it now? An American got to us in Oklahoma City, the Japanese  got us in Honolulu.  All the money we’re spending now is bankrupting the country and it is not working. A guy yesterday flew  his single-engine plane into an Austin building that housed an IRS office, an organization with whom he has some sort of problem. The first question in the wake of the event: We should look at the rules for licensing private pilots. Hello! How about we ask what the IRS did to drive the wad over the edge? Shouldn’t that be in the first tier of questions, you know, in case there are others out there like that one homicidal cretin? Okay, so Reagan defeated the Soviets by outspending them, or more accurately by forcing them to keep spending what the didn’t have and their economy couldn’t support. Guess what: Bin Laden’s put us in the same boat as we put  the Soviets into back then.  But OBL spent a little, a few times, and now we keep spending lots and lots and lots, trillions upon trillions. We keep spending to achieve a level of unachievable safety, and look at our economy and social system, all of which is in shambles.

We have individuals spending million$ of their own money to win political offices that pay salaries of less than $250,000 a year. Why would they do that unless there are fiscal rewards the rest of us suspect but can’t see and we’ll never have access to?

Maybe Generation Y knows the answer and will give us the benefit of their deep wisdom — if they can step away from their electronic gizmo-handcuffs or get off their mountain bikes/skateboards/snowboards/roller blades long enough to weigh in. Don’t hold your breath.

Bullshido half-dinner today (three of the six). Spring she ain’t that far off. More snow coming Sunday night and Monday, but hey, it’s February. It’s supposed to snow, even in a time of climate change. I need sleep. Over

Bullshido Ukrainian Dinner

Robochef and Yank Canuck of the Bullshidos here tomorrow night for Ukrainian dinner, mostly.  Start with pertsovka (pepper vodka, remember Petrov et al in The Berkut), along with various finger foods, and Uke hors d’ouvres as well as  hottaspicy Italian sausage from Da Soo,  Rustic Ukrainian bread,and some Bernwood Barolo (Ft. Wayne).  Starter will be Patychky (pork and steak on wooden skewers) and served with Lukovey Vzhar (honey-onion sauce) Then Pidpenky (shrooms), followed by hot turkey lentil soup as the main and a dessert of Ukrainian apple squares. The dinner wine is California’s McMurray Ranch Pinot Noir (2007).

More Ice Thoughts

We had a little thaw, some freezing rain, melting off roof, new ice formations. Won’t have all this much longer, so I keep looking for interesting ones to photograph. Sort of like looking at clouds in summer from your back and seeing what you can see. Believe it or not, it also helps you when you look for fish in swirling riffle water. Enjoy. Over.

Work in Progress: Lake Superior coast at the Blind Sucker River mouth.
Mom Redtail or our local pair. This day she let me get close before taking flight. Have seen them housekeeping the nest so we may have another little one -- third consecutive year.
Arranger, or re-arranger? Chicken or Egg?
Angel Ribs
cobra strike
Christmas Tree Ornament
Ice Curtains

Sound Bites

Last night the local coyote pack yodelized down the Scary Path, days after Consumer’s brush-hogged their hunting ground. Adult redtails screeched in protest to no avail. The Cat-Lady down the street sets out dishes of food for cats, which will morph now into traps to help coyotes partake of raw feloin steaks. Some glibs call Vanco’s games the Glitchympics, but the chase for gold is unrelenting. Fat Tuesday gone, Cathoholics are mired in Lent. Sputnik beeped in space like The Roadrunner. The Star-Mangled Banter remains hard to sing, harder to visualize. Cryingwife.com and Marley and Me: Talk about a train wreck in the wings. I’ll take Shaun White over Tiger Woods, until putts are taken in half pipes. Most drama, history suggests is only retrospect, rear-window fodder. Spring training starts soon in sunny lands. The cruelest month looms. T.S. Eliot claimed this title for April, but we real humans know the cruel bastard is March and round about the idus. Today I shall spend writing and painting and walking the gimpy mutt who has pulled a leg muscle from thoughtless hunt-romps through snow drifts. Dogs are Olympians in their views: they go balls-to-the walls no matter what, and make neither good patients, nor good nurses. Over.

All Aboot Ice

This time of year is, as our Canadian pals say, all aboot ice and ice makes for some really interesting photos. Meanwhile I give you these to enjoy with a couple of other things thrown in. Over.

Rusty's Tree

Chasing Ohlimping Gories

Dinner last night at Bold at Texas Corners.  Seafood bisque and a glass of an Oregon Pinot Noir. We had Pacific barramundi flown in “fresh.” Outfit from Hawaii ships the fish packed in dry ice; it arrives in a brown UPS truck. I’m guessing farmed fish, not wild-caught, but magnum delish. Bold has the right idea about a restaurant: It’s about the flavor, stupid. [IATFS]

Whew boy. Then home to watch the Olys. Friday night we watched Vancouver’s  opening ceremonies, NBC commentators characterizing it — compared to Beijing’s over the top half-billion — as intimate and small, this go-round for a price-tag of forty-or-so million buckaroos, US, not Cannuckian. Meanwhile, up on there on the beastly luge run, they like…failed(?) to put pads on naked steel girders, and thus a 21-year-old Georgian was turned into lugean mush. Today the course was shortened something like 800 feet and the racers were still cutting the finir line at 90 mph.  NBC says it won’t show the death tape anymore, but they should so everyone can see just how poorly the preparations were for lugers.

All of this strikes us as somehow overdone and underthought. Where the hell are the professional amateurs who used to plan and people such games? Or is that just a  trick of my old-man memory? One of the mogul skiers last night — not yet twenty five reportedly has had something like six reconstructive knee surgeries. For what, knee replacements at forty, hips at fifty?In pursuit of gewgaws dangling from ribbons?

Oh yeah (Oy),  much heralded and ballyhooed Ohlimping Gory is about individual pursuits and excellence, not countries and nationalism, but at the end of each evening’s telecast we get a medal count  summary by country.  Each set of games has the stench of money on it, like something nasty on the bottom of your shoe. Maybe it’s always been a group-grope toy for bunches of  edge-living rich boys, feeling no need to justify whatever, leaving us now with amateur professional amateurs building venues, you know, lowest bidder wins the gold — an enduring and endearing capitalist koan. Contracts: There’s the real mettle at issue.

What is the sound of an unlet lowball contract?  And oy, Day One of the compo has been zipped up and we have four medals: 1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze. But who’s counting? Over.