Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tis the season hippies... for parties and shit.

The second holiday party that I attended this year: An associate of mine invited me to her work party. It was an entirely different scene to the max. But before I get into that, I want to clarify my definition of hippies. It has probably gotten a lot wider since I left the U of Mich. I have an easy if/then test to check if you are a hippie according to me. Do you overhear discussions of the 7.62mm Minigun vs the 50 cal Machine gun more than once a month? If "Yes," then you are not a hippie. If "No" probably a hippie.

Ok, so the second party I was going to was at an architecture firm that specializes in "Green" or low impact, sustainable tech type buildings. Obviously hippies. Anyways, it felt much more like a pizza party in a dorm common room than the prom run amok that the squadron party had been. It was cool enough, but mostly because I had never had pepperoni and green chili pizza. I recommend!

Shortly after it was acceptable, we ditched that place. I had gotten a call from UPS earlier that he was going to be up for whatever that night, so we went and picked him up to go to a different party. UPS was waiting for us in the bar at Apple-bee's. (Yea, you all know the one. Turns out they remodeled it on the inside. Not as homey for sure.) Anyways, we were on our way to a house party though I was warned that this place was going to have a lot of "REAL" hippies, not the kind that make the cut from my definition.

As soon as we walked into the back yard, UPS says, "Holy shit... a yurt!"

And he meant it.

There was a full size Mongolian yurt right there in a backyard in Albuquerque, New Mexico! So what was in the yurt you might ask? Why it was massage apparatus and a DJ of course.

I guess that checks out, either way, I needed to go to the bathroom. When I got back UPS says to me, "Dude, we need to go on a beer run..." I was slightly confused. This is a party and it is early. It wasn't a BYOB. That doesn't make sense at all! Well, it turns out there was no booze there at all! This is not to say everyone there wasn't chemically affected, but there was no alcohol. Luckily it was right next to a grocery store. So that problem was easily solved.

When we got back, we obviously were the heroes of the party because we had beer. I don't know why it didn't occur to everyone else there to do that. We passed a few of them out and took our place back next to the bonfire. That is when I realized that I was sitting next to a baby! Like a real baby that will eventually grow up and get a drivers license type baby.

After a moment of looking around at all the people toking up and tripping out, I told the baby that the only way she will be able to rebel when she is gets older is by starting a "Young Republicans Club" at her high school. I don't think she took notes. To be fair, the dad stayed completely sober and called for them to go home early for baby bed time. And, not being a drinking party, it seemed really unlikely that it was going to get rowdy, so it was probably a pretty reasonable party to take a baby to... if that can be said.

And, because I know you all will go into withdrawal if you don't get a few vehicle pictures:

I have been slowly removing the paint off the jeep so that I can find all the original markings... here is the elusive "S" from the ford factory! FOUND IT!

1942 Ford GPW S Position

Do you see the hood star hidden in there?

Some people get a little nuts/anal making sure that the markings are exact for restoration etc... then I find someing like this... the star is in the wrong possition and crooked. I would guess the stencil must have slipped when they were putting it on.

Yes, those are fresh welds on my cast iron engine block. I took the gamble with a guy that says he does it all the time on boat motors. (I guess they freeze with water in them a lot.) Anyways, it was either junk the block and pay $1300 for a new one... or let this guy try. It looks like it worked, making this the sexiest weld I have ever seen!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


My jeep engine is now completely apart... it is in the proverbial, "No two pieces are touching" state. That is where all my time has been going.

Nick's approved Machine shop finding techniques: Feel free to take notes.

It is tough to guess by looking in a phone book to figure out where the good machine shops are, and with a 1942 engine, I don't want to take it somewhere with amateurs. I really don't want to try and find another engine block if they screw it up. So to solve the problem of finding a decent machine shop, I went out and drove around in the crappy part of town. I looked for an mechanic shop that looked only marginally like they wanted actual customers to come in and had at least eight half disassembled cars in it's chained in area that were obviously not customer's cars. I figured the kind of guys that run a shop like that would be the kind of guys that would KNOW a good machine shop.

So, I after finding just such a place... I asked them about machine shops. They gave me two that they thought did good work. The first had moved locations or had gone out of business. (At this point, I started to doubt my theory) The second one though, was better than I could have imagined! I walked in, sort of assessing them. I wouldn't want to drop the heart of my baby off with clowns! I started off asking if they could do welding on engine blocks if mine had cracks... if the do resleeving, etc. They asked what I was working on. When I told them it was a 1942 ford jeep, the guy I was talking to started quoting me engine tolerances and and details of the engine that could be known if he was very familiar with them. Though to be honest, the guy I was talking to missed one detail of the depth of the valve guides... luckily the guy who was standing right next to him corrected him as he was talking. Shit, any random place you can walk in with a 60 year old engine and they know the specs on it with out even looking them up gets my vote!

It seems my technique worked. I think from now on, I will do that with everything. If I need a good bakery, I will go ask a sketchy looking butcher, if I need a good pet store, I will visit... well, you get the idea.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oh yea... the internet is still here isn't it?

So, it seems I have been a bit out of circulation as far as the internet goes.

I have completed training with the Marines in North Carolina and am back in The Albuquerque. The Marine Osprey training ended with a bang! Over the course of the training I had started to think I may have gotten myself into a boring piece of equipment... though those thoughts were purely an artifact of the method of training an not at all related to the aircraft herself.

Training of course started of with just flying in circles in the pattern barely able to get the aircraft to do what you want. It is all very benign, slow, and in control just to teach you how to fly the thing. The next phase is Instrument flight. Again very smooth, preplanned, with shallow turns. Don't get me wrong, it is all still interesting, but you all saw the video... my instructor was eating his lunch while we flew! I was starting to think that I had traded in helicopters for a heavy airlift gig... (not that there is anything wrong with that... I just don't like it.) Anyways, one of my last flights was "Low Altitude Tactics." Like I said, I had started to think I had traded in my magic carpet for a smallish boring cargo plane... until that ride!!!!


In case you need a vehicle to girl or girl to vehicle analogy to understand what I am trying to say; It was like when you are dating some girl, things are nice... but it seems that the sex is destine to be boring forever, but then out of nowhere one night she pulls out handcuffs, a saddle, and custom molded prosthetic fangs! (and she doesn't even pretend like it is the first time she has used them) It was like that!

All through training we had been flying it very conservatively... mostly because as new tilt-rotor pilots, we didn't know what the fuck we were doing. Once we figured that out they could finally show us the real shit this thing could do. I had already been impressed by the climb rate of this thing, but everyone always talks about that. What I hadn't expected was the turn rate of this thing. You take it, turn it sideways and pull! I know what you are thinking, "with those stubby wings... it would be like turning a school bus by sticking bar coasters out the window!" True... the wings are a bit short to be very effective... but the trick is the rotation of the nacelles! You turn it sideways and pull. It does turn you, but mostly it just bleeds off your speed. bringing you right into a beautiful regime to rotate your engines! So instead of pulling yourself around through the turn with your stubby little wings, you pull the turn with pure gorilla-with-a-Thor-hammer thrust from your engines! Not only does this make for a tighter turn than is possible with just wings, you can bleed off so much energy that it sets you up for doing anything you want with the aircraft coming out of the turn. You can land, accelerate out, or climb to the moon!!! What ever you want! There can't be any other aircraft ever made that can be going that fast in one direction and do a complete coarse reversal in that short of time and that small of turn radius. It is fucking insane... Like first firing of a potato cannon maniacal laughter type insane! I hadn't felt the blood swish out of my head like that since T-37's!

The even crazier part is that there are dudes walking around in the back, hanging off the tailgate, with all the doors open. In a fighter, the one or two dudes are strapped into ejection seats facing forward. In this thing you can do all these crazy maneuvers with people walking around and standing out the door!

Ok, so I completed flying with the Marines... Now time to get back to that mythical place called "the real Air Force."

The trip back through across the country was great, the colors were all changing through the whole Appalachians. I didn't get pulled over even once!

Now I am back at KIKR. Time for a new round of Computer Based Training!

In an absurd display of domestication, I have rented a house. (To be honest I just wanted a place with the garage.) Apparently it wasn't made for full size American!

It turns out, i have absolutely no furniture. I knew that academically, but hadn't noticed as violently as after the moving truck left after delivering my house hold goods and I didn't have a place to sit down beside the floor and no convenient place to set my drink! I would like to say that I have acquired furniture, but that is not the case... I am now quite used to sitting on the floor. Problem solved!

Thanks to the truck and skills of C-Mac, I have been able to regroup my troops. A-S, you aren't the only only one that can drop property values!

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't been online quite as much recently. That is because of my new Mistress.
Yes, those are some of her naughty bits dangling out...

Expect more updates more regularly in the short future.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Second post of the day...

I hear this happens...

This is a screen shot of one of our computer based training lessons.

This is my face reacting to that slide...

WTF man... aircrew are known to be the picture of wholesome health.

I found this old picture on my hard drive and cracked up.

If I remember right, Bull filmed an entire training operation with the video recorder held sideways. We are reviewing the training tapes...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

People, people... go away!

Don't like people anymore... I think I know enough of them, I don't need to meet anymore. This place is much better without people. I have to say that they idea of going to the gulf coast of Florida with all it's people and traffic and subdivisions and people is kind of oppressive to me. To much time in Montana, and Afghanistan I guess... I am not saying that I am about to volunteer to go to Clovis, NM for the next half decade of my life, but it is starting to appeal in some ways.

Surf City has definitely changed atmosphere... I would say around 95% of the houses are closed up for the winter. The weather isn't bad... but i guess everyone is back at a work and school. I like the place much more with nobody in it. I just watched a program on the History Channel about what would happen to the earth if all the people disappeared off of it. It kind of feels like that happened around here.

It isn't completely empty around here. As the tourists have left, it seems they are now replaced by about 1/100th as many fishermen. Before I didn't run on the beach because it was a huge obstacle course of beach blankets, little kids, sand castles, umbrellas, and people playing batchi ball. Now the only ones on the beach are fishermen. I had never expected there would be many fish right in the surf... I have seen fish swim right out of the side of waves when I have been surfing, but didn't expect that they would hang out right where the waves crash right against the shore. I was wrong! They seem to pull out foot and a half long scaly fish right from the edge of the water! But back to what I was saying... every 200 yards or so there might be a guy fishing in the surf... other than that the beach is now totally open and clear for running. After the tide goes out, it leaves the sand almost completely smooth and hard, and without a bunch of people churning it up, it stays that way!

The fishermen don't look like they are pretending to have fun the way that a lot of the people sitting on the beach did.

I have also been surprised to see how many dead rays washed up on the shore. Maybe it is a good thing I can't see very far through the water... That way I can't see the sharks either.

Cops... always reminding me why I am a fan of our law enforcement professionals: One of the biggest differences seems to be in the local police's behavior. Before, the cops drove around on four wheelers in t-shirts and waved to everyone... now they are back in their cruisers with full on aviator sunglasses and triple creased dark blue shirts. This entire tourist season, I never so much as saw a cop pull anyone over for anything though I am sure most of the vacationers were all half in the bag after 9 pm every night... now that the only people here are the fishermen... they pull people over all the time, they set up drunk check-points, and there are speed traps everywhere. Granted, I could give the cops the benefit of the doubt... but though the tourists were almost exclusively well-to-do whites... the fishermen are mostly rural and about 50% black. Though i would like to think the best, it seems that the cops are trying to keep the fishermen out. Kind of discourage them through being pains in the ass. Maybe I am just being paranoid...

In other news:

As I am getting older, more songs make much more sense to me than ever before... I just realized I understand this song now. Probably I would have for a while but hadn't heard it in a while.

I am not saying it isn't easily understood, but I guess I hadn't realized I could feel what it meant before. Turns out it isn't just a good lick to sing about bloody underwear...

"Shot through the butt,
and your to blame!
Baby you gave my underwear
a blood stain!..."

I can only assume that in a few years this song will make sense...

"Someone left the cake out in the rain,
and I don't think I can take it,
cause it took so long to bake it,
and I'll never have that recipe agaiiiiiinn!!!!"

(maybe not)

This song I understood completely when I first heard it in sophomore year of high school. I am just posting it here so it will get stuck in your head.

(My parents had the record... I found it an played it over and over again.)

In other news...

After looking up quotes by famous people that don't indicate care for good spelling I started reading a bunch of quotes by our presidents. If you judge a president by his out of context quotes... "I like Ike!" So, to up my nerdyness quotient... Dwight D. Eisenhower is now my favorite president. As crazy as this sentence may sound, He seems to embody the ideal form of government as it is described in the book "Starship Troopers."

Read these:

If a problem cannot be solved, enlarge it.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

In most communities it is illegal to cry "fire" in a crowded assembly. Should it not be considered serious international misconduct to manufacture a general war scare in an effort to achieve local political aims?
Dwight D. Eisenhower

(Probably one of his best... though I hadn't solidified it in my mind the way reading it did.)
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

The best morale exist when you never hear the word mentioned. When you hear a lot of talk about it, it's usually lousy.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.
Abraham Lincoln

You don't lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
Abraham Lincoln

Every one desires to live long, but no one would be old.
Abraham Lincoln

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.
Abraham Lincoln

I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.
Abraham Lincoln

It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
Abraham Lincoln
(I can only assume that if also follows; those with many vices have many virtues... so bring on the booze and women... I am trying to be a virtuous person here!)

If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour?
Thomas Jefferson
(probably better that they talk than actually act... I would hate for most of the wacko shit they say to actually become public policy!)

Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor - over each other.
Thomas Jefferson

It's true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?
Ronald Reagan

You can tell alot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jellybeans.
Ronald Reagan

Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.
Ronald Reagan

Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.
Ronald Reagan

Why can't I just eat my waffle?
Barack Obama

Sunday, October 04, 2009

I am just here for the view!

Since I am mostly talking to myself on here... I'll entertain myself with some pictures from a recent Osprey training flight.

Expencive... CHECK
Breaks alot... CHECK
Dangerous operating charictaristics... CHECK
Fun as fuck when everything is working... CHECK

Obviously the V-22 Osprey is an Italian sports car!

Myrtle Beach from about 3000 feet.

This video I took should clear up why I think all of you people mumble now.

"What did you say?"

Cross cockpit view of Charleston... or at least a bridge into Charleston, SC.

One of the Rolls Royce powerplants... and a few gearboxes.

Sweet! More water!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Fish and Birds AGREE: Toxin Covered Nurdles Found to be Tasty!

So... I guess bottle caps are enough like shrimp... Mostly a vehicle for cocktail sauce as far as I can tell.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Autopilots are Magic and Chasy Lane is no good for the O'club.

If I wasn't used to it, this might seem crazy. The airfield on the Marine base is closed over the weekend. We are behind schedule in our training, so the squadron wants to fly on the weekend... Well, we can't fly out of the closed airfield so instead we took a few aircraft and parked them last night (Friday night) at the local civilian airport so we can still get to them during the weekend. Now we can fly during the weekend!

Yesterday taking the aircraft to their weekend-out home, I had my first "instrument" flight in the Osprey. I think it is a bit hilarious to call THIS my first flight on instruments because honestly, I have been doing that this whole time! Even with my massively vast experience of about 7 hours flying this thing, I am not quite able to feel exactly what the aircraft is doing by the usual way of sensing it just with my ears, eyes, and ass... so I spend a lot of time looking at the little TV screen with all the flight information on it to figure out what is going on. In a normal helicopter I can easily tell a 500 foot per minute decent just by the change in sound and slight change in pressure on my butt. In this 50,000lb beast, that seems to always be surprising me with new sounds and sensations, I can easily miss a 1500 foot per minute decent if I am not paying very good attention. So, like I said, I end up spending a lot of time looking at the instruments to figure out what in the hell this aircraft is doing with itself at any given time. The Hawk and I have been joking that there will be pretty much no difference between our previous flights and now flying on "instruments."

Regardless, this was the first time I have taken it up into the clouds. It is absolutely amazing how much easier it is to fly an aircraft that will trim. The H-1 and Mi-17 were fine to fly, but if you let your eyes wander off from the instruments in the weather, they would sneekily flip them selves over in about 15 seconds. Unlike those squirly in the weather machines, this V-22 thing does exactly what you tell it to and doesn't start doing what ever it wants just because you aren't watching it closely! You trim it exactly as you want it to fly... and it just stays doing that until you get back to it! AND THEN!!! you can even turn on the autopilot! Holy shit, you want a mind blowing experience... fly holding with an autopilot!

In helicopters, I have always considered holding to be an exercise in frying your brain like the anti-drug commercial. First of all, it is a helicopter so without using the big window it takes most of your concentration just to keep the thing upright, on altitude and speed. Then you have to figure out just from watching all the little shaking wiggling needles where you are, where you are going, which way to turn, all while adjusting for wind and timing your maneuvers with a little "push hard" clock that is probably on the wrong side of the cockpit from you. Eventually you do get good enough at it... but it is not really "fun."

(Aside) We all know that technically according to the FAA that you only have to keep the aircraft on the "maneuvering side" and how ever you do that is your business... but it also seems in every squadron there is an Evaluator Pilot that wants you to explain the "AIM -B" procedure (*note) for holding entry while you are trying to shack a fix to fix by closing one eye and looking at your pencil. I hate that guy!

Well, no more of all that silliness for me! I just put it in trim and push the button. (That last sentence should probably be taken out of context.) But seriously, it is one of the most unnatural feelings I have ever experienced in my life to take my hands off the controls of an aircraft... turn a knob... and have the aircraft execute a perfect level standard rate turn all by itself. The controls even move on their own! doesn't even seem real. It would be like driving your car, but taking your hands off the wheel and peddles and having the car all on it's own take the freeway exit and come to a stop at the next intersection. WILD!

Well, after the flight, the civilian field where we landed had free beer for crews that brought their aircraft there. (Quite reasonably there were two Harriers, three US ARMY Hueys, and our two Ospreys) This is a good way to keep military aircrews coming back! Though the best place for this I have ever seen is a field in Houston that not only has beer, but also will order any food you want and employs models and former miss Texases to refuel the aircraft and work behind the desk. Anyways we had a few beers while waiting for the bus back to the base. We got back to the base to pick up our vehicles to go home, but it was a horrible thunderstorm. I looked at my motorcycle there in the rain, felt the buzz in my head and made the wise decision that instead of riding home on a motorcycle in a thunderstorm with a buzz, we should go to the O'club instead!

Wonderful idea!

It seems there had been some sort of formalish event going on in the club somewhere and now the formal type crowd had trickled into the bar. We ended up talking to the Base commander. Turns out he is an old Cobra pilot. Anyways, They had a karaoke thing going in the corner... and the base commander was encouraging people to go sing. After reading the selections available, I saw a song I liked and decided to sing it.

"The Ballad of Chasy Lane" by the Bloodhound Gang.

The pilot I had been flying with that day decided to come up there with me. Turns out I didn't remember the song as well as I thought. It wasn't that I didn't remember all the words or that we couldn't sing the song correctly... but I had forgotten quite what the words actually said.

So there was... up on stage with A+9 as my wingman. And bigger than a two story building, up on the screen comes the refrain:

My eyes glance over it... a cold chill goes through me as I realize what I am about to belt out into the microphone... Then I look out at the crowd of well dressed wives and senior officers.

You've had a lot of dick,
you've had a lot of dick,
I've had a lot of time,
I've had a lot of time,
You've had a lot of dick Chasy,
but you ain't had mine!

I had also forgot how much that song references eating out a pornstar's ass... Oops!

After that, one could say the ice was broken.


* The AIM -B otherwise known as the "Airman's Information Manuel procedure "B" method for holding entry" is the airborne equivalent of trying to do your taxes in your head while giving a impromptu speech in front of a crowd of accountants. If you just think about it, it makes sense, but when you start to do the math for it, it usually gets gummed up.

** You are on the tail of the number 2 needle!

"The Ballad Of Chasey Lain"

Dear Chasey Lain
I wrote to explain
I'm your biggest fan
I just wanted to ask
Could I eat your ass?
Write back as soon as you can

You've had a lotta dick
Had a lotta dick
I've had a lotta time
Had a lotta time
You've had a lotta dick Chasey
But you ain't had mine

Dear Chasey Lain
I wrote to complain
Ya never wrote me back
How could I ever eat
Your ass when ya treat
Your biggest fan like that?

You've had a lotta dick
Had a lotta dick
I've had a lotta time
Had a lotta time
You've had a lotta dick Chasey
But you ain't had mine

Dear Chasey Lain
I wrote to constrain
This letter is my last
As your biggest fan
I must demand
You let me eat your ass

You've had a lotta dick
Had a lotta dick
I've had a lotta time
Had a lotta time
You've had a lotta dick Chasey
But you ain't had mine

Mom and Dad this is Chasey
Chasey this is my mom and dad
Now show 'em them titties
Now show 'em them titties
Mom and Dad this is Chasey
Chasey this is my mom and dad
Now show 'em them titties
Now show 'em them tittïes

Would ya fuck me for blow?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

V-22 Osprey Documentary

Several folks have been asking about the V-22. This sums it up pretty well.

I think it has a few to many computers... but maybe the glass cockpit will grow on me. Other than that...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In the absence of wit, you get this...

So, this is just from rain...

Don't let the meniacle laughter in the back ground distract you...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The post you all were waiting for!

“Anything that will blow snow on your balls is guaranteed to be a good time!” quote from anonymous V-22 Osprey pilot regarding the aircraft and it’s impressive air conditioning system. ‘

The first time I had ever heard of the V-22 Osprey was when I was I little kid visiting my aunt out in Washington state. She took my brother and me to see the Boeing factory up in Everett, WA. On the wall of the waiting room at the factory they had a picture of the prototype Osprey touting it as the obvious future of aviation.

Fast forward about 15 years:

For the past few months I have been here in North Carolina training to fly the production version of the same aircraft that I first learned about so many years ago. About 90% of this training has been sitting at a computer of some sort learing about the aircraft and how to fly it. This particularly fits as the V-22 is mostly a bunch of computers itself. Granted in a supremely sexy package, but still pretty much a flying computer lab.

See… fun shit. Up on my computer screen you can see pictures of other computer screens…

But after several months of playing with computers…

YESTERDAY: Finally! I got to touch the real aircraft, strap in, start the engines… and then had the computers freak out… and broke right in the chocks. No problem, we just gave the aircraft back to the maintenance dudes, told them what was wrong with the aircraft, and went home to try again the next day.

TODAY: Weather, about 98 Deg F on the flight line. 95% Humidity. We got out to the aircraft and were about halfway through the preflight when, “lightning within five” miles of the airfield caused us to have to come back inside. After about an hour of telling war stories about women and love stories about war we went back out. Son-of-a-bitch! almost everything seemed to be working on the aircraft! I guess we get to go flying!

These are my impressions of the MV-22 after my first flight today. I figure I should write them down while they are still fresh.

My first comment is that the quality of the air conditioner was vastly exaggerated!

Before I had even gotten out to the aircraft, as I was walking out across the ramp I could feel my sweat beginning to soak through my shirt and flight suit and into the flight equipment on the vest. I was totally drenched in my own salty sweat by the time I even sat in the seat. Once inside the cockpit it was nothing like the climate controlled happiness I had been expecting. It was even hotter than outside, with more stale locker room smell, but without the nice humid breeze that had been outside. Blow snow on my balls? More like loitering next to the drier vent on the ouside of a laundromat! Well maybe a little cooler than that, but nothing like the titilateing excitement I had been anticipating. One of the vents does blow on your crotch so… I guess it is partially right. Maybe I just had a bad air conditioner on this one. I fully realized the airliner pilot comfort I had been expecting was just a lost dream when I felt that first tricle of sweat forming on the small of my back and oozing down my butt crack into the seat… Whatever, I have sat under magnifying glass canopies for a long time. I had just been expecting more because of all the stories.

NOTE: I have learned that the technical term for butt sweat trickling into aircraft seats is called skeech. I believe it is a navy term.

Taxiing: Surprisingly easy. Once you get the hang of controlling your speed with your left thumb, your balance in the turns with your right hand, and the direction of your turn with your feet it is no problem at all. The brakes aren’t very good so after a few minutes you kind of consider them not even there. Overall it behaved very well as a rolling vehicle.

Hovering: (Alright, you have all been waiting for the obvious machine/female analogy… so here it is.) This thing hovers very easily… almost to easily! Your first pick up in any totally new to you aircraft is always a bit tenetive… like a first kiss where you don’t know for sure if she wants to be kissed. So, pucker up! It turns out she loves to be kissed! She lifts right up into the air with ease! In fact, it only took a few moments to realize that as far as hovering is concerned, she almost doesn’t even need my input. Sort of like a girl that knows how to get herself off so well that any fancy moves you try on her only slow things down. I realized that the less I wiggled the sticks, the more she liked it. So I obliged and let her hover herself as well as she pleased. Of course it was nice, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that she would hover just as well for any guy that sat in that seat. Oh well… I guess now I’ll go get a real girlfriend or a nintendo wii if I want something around that appreciates my hand eye coordination.

Conversion patterns: Otherwise known as “Helicopter patterns.” My first conversion pattern was no problem at all. Only once did my left hand and my brain get confused as to what I was supposed to do to control the power. (The thrust control in this is exactly backwards from a normal helicopter…) in the moment, my muscle memory and my conscious brain fought for what to do to. The instructor just made the standard comment, “we will log all three of those landings.”

Transition to Airplane!: This is what makes this aircraft fucking cool! After mucking around as a helicopter for about an hour, the instructor says to me, “Hey, you want to turn this thing into an airplane?” “FUCK YEA I DO!” my obvious answer. So, we coordinate our departure and he says, “alright, take off and turn to heading 332.” I hadn’t been expecting him to let me do this my first time without him demonstrating at all… but I didn’t ask questions and took off! (Now that I think about it, he let me do almost everything with out him demonstrating it first. I guess the simulator training worked.) To be honest, this thing gets a little squirrelly during the transition back and forth between helicopter and airplane modes. It really does throw you back in your seat pretty good. When the nacelles are in airplane mode, you have insane amount of thrust and acceleration available to you. This thing loves to go fast! It loves speed Ducati style! I found myself using most of my penguins to try and not break any low altitude speed limits or blasting off into space!

Speaking of blasting into space… This thing climbs like nothing I have ever seen. It will easily climb at over 5000 feet a minute. To give you some perspective on that, the next time you are driving in your car at 60 mph… think about how fast you are going… now imagine that you are going that same speed… only UP! That is an absolutely ridiculous clime rate to be able to SUSTAIN! It is also going forward at near 200 mph at the same time, but the impressive vertical component is the same as 60 mph… UP. Fucking wild man!

The Cadillac is fine to get to work, but check out Rolls Royce hanging on the wing out my window!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Crawl... Walk... Drown...

Taking a break from our resent weeks of sitting at a computer and reading about other computers, the Navy regulations decided that several of our class needed to go through an impressive bit of training that will probably start to seem fun again in about four to five years… probably about when we are due for it again. It was a two day combined refresher for Hypoxia, Water Survival, and Dunker.

This really is some of the better training that they send us through… and is worth describing it in some detail. It seems the better training is always the most hands on… though it seems also that this is a trend we are getting away from in most things. Dread the day when this sort of thing becomes an online powerpoint presentation that must be viewed biannually!

Anyways. The first day was for the most part Classroom review of all the standard ways aircrews get messed up and fly perfectly good aircraft into the ground. The afternoon was a bit more interesting. A hypoxia lab of sorts. The idea behind this is to remind you what the beginnings of hypoxia feel like while your brain still works so that you can recognize it and fix what ever the problem is before you loose the ability to fly the aircraft. The old way to do this is to put you in a altitude chamber, suck out the air while you do math problems or play cards. After you can’t figure out what beats two of a kind or answer “4 + 4 = YOUR MOTHER TRABECK!” you are done… hopefully able to recognize the onset of Hypoxia before you chucle about “FAMOUS TITIES for 500!” at the controls of an aircraft. Interestingly, they came up with a new way to teach this particular lesson. Instead of using the altitude chamber and sucking the air out… they put you in an F-18 simulator, have you fly around, and slowly replace the oxygen you are breathing with nitrogen. The point is eventually you stop being able to fly the aircraft well, you recognize the onset of hypoxia, and push the 100% emergency oxygen button… restoring your brain to normal function. The best way to describe trying to fly an F-18 with most of the oxygen depleted from your blood is that it is like drunk sledding… The vehicle isn’t quite doing what you want it to, but you don’t mind that much and are still having fun. Overall very good training.

The next day was “Underwater Egress and Water Survival.”

The first thing they did was introduce us to a piece of ninja gear that I am very impressed with. It is basically a mini SCUBA tank to use if you end up underwater in a sinking aircraft. It is designed to give you just enough air to reach the surface if you can’t get out with just what is in your lungs. This little scuba tank is about the size of a redbull can and has a mini regulator on it. The last time I went through this training, we were shown one, but didn’t get to actually use it much. This time we would carry it with us underwater and at the approved times were aloud to use it. Before we get to that… a few exercises that as far as I can tell were designed to get anyone with a fear of water over it… and anyone that didn’t have a fear of water to instantly grow some aqua-phobia.

Just to add to the fun you are in full flight gear. Flight suit, gloves, helmet, survival vest, steel toed boots, and an inflatable life vest that you are not allowed to actually inflate. I barely float as it is. With all that shit on, I sink like a ten penny nail! There is a technique they were teaching us with the euphemistic name of “Drown Proofing” but it is the same move that used to go by the much more real name of “Dead Man’s Float” Either way… I have no doubt that this was invented by a person significantly more buoyant than myself. When I do it, I pretty much sink for a while, struggle back to the surface, cough in some water, then sink for a while again. Obviously it is a calming and energy saving technique!

The first exercise was they attached you to a sunken steel pole. The pole is at the bottom of the pool. You have to go down to the pole, release yourself from your attachment belt, follow along the pole to a sunken hatch with about six different latches on it. After manipulating each latch, you open the hatch and swim through back up to the surface. Mot much problem there. We only had to do that one once without our magic scuba bottles and once with them. It was a warm up.

The next bit of fun was a cage with two chairs over it. The roughly 25 by 6 foot long cage is submerged under water. You sit in the chair blindfolded (simulating night time) and strapped in like it is your aircraft seat. On the count of three, they flip both chairs over and plunge the both of you upside down underwater into this sunken cage. You have to extricate yourself from the chair and find your way out. The nearest hatch to you is always blocked… so you have to make your way blindfolded through the cage to find the hatch on the other end, then manipulate the mechanism, and swim back to the surface. It is easy enough when you just hold your breath and do it… though it is a little less comfortable than the first one. Eventually they make it so your seat belt won’t release you from the upside down seat. Luckily on this iteration you get to use your magic SCUBA bottle though and once you are breathing from your bottle, they release you from the seat to find your way out of the sunken cage.

Fun stuff!!!

Next came a sort of swim with your shit on exercise. After about one and a half laps with all this junk on I thought to myself, “this is stupid! The easiest stroke is the back float! I should just back stroke my way around here.” So I there I was back stroking my way around the pool… Unfortunately I got told I had to redo the swim portion. Apparently the only approved strokes were the breast stroke and the side stroke. There were no points for style! (to be honest, I didn’t look that stylish even back stroking… more like a bobbing half sunken helmet.

After all that, we were ready for “The Dunker” itself. It a mock up of the front of an aircraft that they strap you into in your normal crew position, lift it out over the pool, and drop the whole thing into the water. It of course flips upside down and sinks to the bottom of the pool. Your job is to make it out of the aircraft before you die. They have divers in the pool waiting incase it looks like you are not going to pull that off. Everything went fairly well for me except my first time through. (we did it 5 times.) The way we were supposed to do the first iteration was that we would stay in our seats, use our little scuba bottle, then escape calmly out of the aircraft. Well, I had set my bottle up wrong…(No better teachers than experience and adrenaline, right?) so I was strapped upside down in the sinking aircraft with no air. It isn’t bad itself as we had to do it without extra air too, but was a shock when I was expecting to be able to use it. So I then jettisoned my window, released my belt, and started swimming out and to the surface just holding my breath. My lungs were already burning as I had been dicking around with the stupid bottle that didn’t work and my window didn’t open very easily… Just as I was inches below the surface… BOING! My leg was snagged in the seatbelt and still stuck inside the aircraft! I wish I had had something witty to think about my situation, but I’ll tell you what, being trapped only inches underwater with your breath running out, snagged to a sunken aircraft has got to be one of the most terrifying feelings in the world. I could see the surface only inches from my face, but there was no way I could get to it. “About to drown” is a terrible, terrible feeling! After a moment of paralyzing panic I shook it off, swam back down to the sunken aircraft, unsnagged myself, and then finally made it to the surface. It felt like I had been underwater for a week! Fuck that shit! Though the rest of the times went fairly incident free.

The last time through we had to escape the sunken aircraft, swim across the pool, and huddle up with each other and wait to be rescued. This went just fine… Much better than the first time they did this with us 5 years ago or so. Last time they sprayed us with fire hoses to simulate waves and rain.

All this has made me completely sure that I don’t ever want to crash an aircraft into water. Two-engine failure 50 miles out to sea… to hell with ditching in the water brother, I will glide that bitch back to the beach on will power alone!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Little Italian Thing liberated!

I arrive in the Detroit airport. Jonny Moto, after some “dude… what terminal are you at?” type problems picks me up. It was iffy if he would make it when I talked to him earlier in the day as he was drilling holes into his exhaust manifold and wasn’t sure he would have any vehicle that two dudes could reasonably ride in… (later we would abandoned the “Two dudes and two wheels is not enough wheels!” convention, but we were not quite there yet.)

From DTW we go strait to The Greek’s house. Like Rupunzle, the Ducati is hidden away in his garage. Unfortunately, we discovered that the garage is locked… and The Greek is also not home… he was out running scams on the west coast so it wasn't convenient at all. No problem, I remember from previous conversations that the keys to his garage should be on his kitchen counter. To borrow a term from the auto industry, we used some “keyless entry technology” to access the kitchen and were thus able to open the garage. Later on Amateur-Sophist would ask, “why didn’t you just break into the garage… instead of bothering with the house?” The answer… we just didn’t think of it.

Anyways, back to the garage! After a brief examination of the bike all seems to be in order, except one thing. It still has temporary plates on it… though not a problem itself, the problem is that the number on the temp plate is actually its expiration date. The plate said, 2009 02 07… technically the date was 2009 03 07. It had expired the one day before. Well shit. At 9 O’ clock on a Friday night before a holiday weekend is not the time to get an extension for temp plates. Lukily, Jonny Moto had a brilliant idea!

JM: “That is nothing a magic marker can’t fix… that two looks like it would make a very nice seven…”

N: “Shit, it looks like it would make an even better eight!”

So after Department of Markers on Vehicles, DMV for short, gave me an extension, my plates now read 20090807. Problem solved again! The weirdest part was that earlier that exact day my mother called me out of the blue concerned that I was going to ride the bike with expired temp tags! Her intuition has kept me from a life of crime no doubt and is for sure the reason I have absolutely no capacity to lie to women. (I feel very handicapped because of that.) It was like growing up with Sherlock Holms as your mother only with women’s intuition. She is like a ninja of knowing when you are planning to break her rules! Either way... the bike now had non-expired looking tags.

I rationalized it as this: 1. The bike actually is registered, 2. It does have insurance, 3. The only real rule I am breaking is that the current plate has to be physically attached to the vehicle. (The real plate was somewhere between Michigan and North Carolina in the custody of the US Postal Service. There was really nothing I could do.) This was probably the best solution. Besides, with my new no speeding philosophy I shouldn’t have any reason to get into conversations with jonny law on my way back to North Carolina anyways!

So, to celebrate the rescue of the cute little Italian thing we decide to go to bars in Royal Oak. My “SCIENCE, It works bitches” t-shirt was even a hit with the ladies! ...though they were all elementary school teachers with relationships… My, “a ring never plugged a hole” philosophy was also of no use. Oh well.

Due to the prodding of some chick Jonny Moto knew but neither he nor I were sleeping with… we ended up drinking to many shots with sexual innuendo type names. Lots or blow jobs and slippery nipples for everyone! We cabed it back to his place. :-( <------- because="" br="" face="" is="" morning.="" next="" not="" notice="" of="" smily="" that="" the="">
So the next morning: I wake up around 7 or 8 and wait a few hours for J. M. to wake up. I attempted to wake him earlier but the only coherentish thing I got out of it was his claim that he has no towels. Obviously he needs to practice this shots thing more often…

Finally he wakes up and we are faced with the obvious problem that the not smilely face alluded to earlier… that is right… we have two dudes, a garage full of motorcycles… and we have to go pick up another vehicle. This is streaking toward the two dudes on one bike quite quickly and neither of us could figure out a way to avert this disaster. Unfortunately for me I didn’t have much of an argument why I should be the driver. I didn’t know where he parked his truck, I didn’t know where I was even now, I also am lighter, and my bike’s back seat is pretty much designed only for girls to cling to you on as you try and find the right RPM to give them an orgasm. Shit, so on the back I went. :-( Riding bitch on another dude’s motorcycle….

Shortly after that, I rolled out and headed down to Dayton. Met up with Amature-Sophist and what appears to be his female slave.

The Forth of July was basically some beer and watching amateur pyros play with fire. The next day it was time for me to make it back to North Carolina so I wouldn't get in trouble for being AWOL. It was 13 hours strait of riding in the rain. Cold, wet, mountain roads filled with traffic… I considered stopping, but after the first 6 hours in the rain I almost wanted to do it just to see if I could! I got off that bike after that horrible ride and was one data point more sure that there is absolutely nothing I can’t do!

Break, Break!

On a different note I have undoubtably met a Jedi Knight of aviation. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week we had the class “Tiltrotor Aerodynamics.” It was taught by one of the test pilots that took the V-22 from prototype through production. He is now retired from active flying, but still teaches this one class... mostly for his own entertainment as far as I can tell. It was like Obi Wan Kenobi telling you how to survive your battle with Darth Vader… he told us shit like, “the bank limit and pitch limit are totally bogus made up by ninnies in your chain of command… If you need to bank the shit out of this bitch to get away from some missile you just go do it!” and, “The G-limit on this thing is for real! You exceed them and you will sling an engine!”

This video is footage from one of his test flights.

After the first day and a half of listening to this guy, I decided to start writing down the finer points of his wisdom in direct quote form!

“They were smoking their socks when they decided that!”

“you are thinking, ‘alright catfish breath! That isn’t how turbine engines work!’”

“that cockpit will go dark like you have your head up the ass of a cow.”

“I’ll bet you Dollars to turds, and you can keep your shit…”

“You do this and your commander will tap dance on your pecker with golf shoes… but the aircraft won’t care.”

“he was jacking off the controls…” (imagine with arm movements)

“Your sphincter will swell up and cut off blood to the brain!”

“if there are female flight crew, you can’t call it a cockpit anymore, that’s impolite… then it is the box office!”

“Don’t jump through your anal area!”

“You don’t need to slam dunk the bitch!”

“That makes sense like wiping your ass then taking a dump!”

“effective as a polish mine sweeper!” (Covers eyes and stomps blindly at the ground)

“You do this and you will install a smoking hole in the dirt!”

“In CONV mode this thing wants to mate with tankers… and she wants the bottom!”

“It will be, “Kate barr the door!”

“It doesn’t matter how you get there, you can navigate to Paris with an astrolabe, a duck, and a cat as long as you get there!”

(He later went on to explain how a duck, a cat and dog tags could be used as improvised instruments incase of primary instrument failure.) Either way, all of what he said was the most useful thing we have heard so far and I am sure that someday some of the shit he said will save my life! Probably the box office comment!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Not a regularly scheduled broadcast.

Greetings from the world without regular internet access!

Last we talked I was still up in Montana practically with snow on the ground… Let me catch you up!

I have been getting pulled over quite a bit since I got back. Five times in five weeks seems like a lot to me. I figure you have more chance to get pulled over the more time you spend on the road right? So if I drive faster, I am on the road for a shorter amount of time, so I should get pulled over less often. Though logically sound that really isn’t the logic I was using. What I have come to the conclusion is that racial profiling is absolutely true. How did I come to that conclusion you might ask? Granted, I may have exceeded the posted speed limit at times. But I will argue that if I had been in a gray Honda I would never have gotten to have so many Socratic discussions with so many law enforcement officers.

I think the problem is that when I drive, the cops think I am black. I have for the most part been driving mid seventies General Motors Luxury vehicles. In fact I may be the only white guy left in the world driving mid seventies GM products by choice. Right, I know… I am a racist bastard… how can I say that? Well it is years and years of experience rolling these things. When I am stopped at a light and a black guy pulls up next me he often says, “That is a fine car! Is it for sale?” Where as a white dude pulls up and says, “WOW that is a big car! What kind of gas mileage does it get?” That digression was only to demonstrate that I am driving cars predominantly driven by black people… obviously blacks have more style!


Now let me tell you two stories about being pulled over in the last few weeks.

First of all, after the first three times getting pulled over in the last month, I had decided that I absolutely want to follow the speed limit! I am actually NOT trying to break any laws! Not so much because I care about laws or respect cops more than the consequences they can inflict… but I am tired of getting harassed. So I am going what I think to be the speed limit just north of Cheyenne, Wyoming. I say “think” because the Buick has sort of an open for interpretation speedometer.

For demonstration purposes only, take your finger and hold it in the air about a foot and a half in front of your head. Now shake it back and forth from right to left like you are telling a small child “NO.” That is what my speedometer does! I had been under the impression that about the middle of the shake was probably about the speed I was actually going. As it turns out, I should have taken the upper limit. Whatever… So again I am on the side of the road with a cop car behind me. Once he comes up to the window he sees that I am just a white dude with a lead foot so he takes his hand off his gun and we talk for a while… he gives me another damn ticket… blah blah blah. I go to leave… and I get this vision in my of my car not starting. (I can honestly see the future. Unfortunately it is only about a second and a half before it happens, but I really can! How else could I always win at “Egyptian Rat Screw” when I never start with any cards? It is sort of an impression that I feel with my entire body… but for real it exists.) So I touch the key and I realize that the car is not going to start. Turn it… CLICK… it doesn’t even turn over.


I get out of the car and walk back to the cop car.

“Hey, I think I may need a jump.” I say.

“No can do… we are not allowed to jump off the squad cars. Might damage the radios” he says, “I’ll call a tow truck for you.” He then drives off.

So there I am, staring at my engine compartment confused. I know for sure that my battery is not low… there is not a damn thing wrong with my car! Why the hell won’t it start! So I stand there looking at my car for a few minutes… try and start it… nothing… etc. I do this drill for about 20 minutes with no luck. (Granted the whole thing about doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results being the definition of insanity may be applicable… but watch this shit!)

After making no mechanical adjustments to a vehicle I know to be in working order, I stand in front of the Buick, look her right in the bug covered headlights and say, “Listen you bitch! Stop fucking around! We have shit to do and you throwing a tantrum out here on the highway is going to give both of us problems! START NOW or you know the consequences!” (I am paraphrasing for all the little kids that read this… but that is pretty close.)

I got in turned the key… “VROOOMMMM!!!!!!!”

Right on! Apparently Stacy was right about women! (And Machines because they are obviously the same thing.) *See Note:

Onward! With my car now started, I didn’t wait for the tow truck. Fuck that shit! I even squealed the tires leaving the side of the road! As a side note, I read the ticket while I was waiting. Apparently part of the laws I had broken was “violating the dignity of the peaceful people of the sovereign state of Wyoming.” I didn’t want to have a charge laid like that against me and not have actually done it!

BREAK BREAK>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Checked in there at Kirtland… Shit, I am a student again.

So, even though 4 weeks ago I was commanding an aerial armada across the skies of Afghanistan with near impunity! That I was… (INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK TO BE FILLED IN OVER BEER.) I am now undoubtedly back to being a student. No more briefing at dawn with an M-4 slung across my back for missions out to the Pakistan boarder… no… now it is plain black student name tags and the “flaming snow cone” of Air Education and Training Command. After the Afghan Army, AETC is a tough pill to swallow. Oh well, nothing to do but shut up, listen up, and try not to make a fool out of myself. Back to the bottom of the pile… again.

Oh yea! You guys are probably wondering about the second time I got pulled over after the first three. So there I was… driving a bright orange 75 Cadillac Eldorado across Louisiana. I am ABSOLUTLY not speeding. As far as I know, I am the most law abiding driver on the road! FUCK! Lights in the mirror! I pull over as well as I can without falling off into the swamp.

I get the loud speaker from the cop car. “STEP OUT OF THE CAR!”

“Dang old dang!” This is new! I have never been asked to step out of the car like this before. I look down. Damn it! I only have my socks on. I took off my shoes somewhere in the last 3 hours of driving. Disappointed at the tactical situation I have put my self in; no shoes on, surrounded by swamp, and the cops are behind me and barricaded behind their car doors… I get out. I could visibly see the disappointment on the cops’ faces. I could see the thought, “shit, a white dude in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and only socks… he even has short hair!” go through their heads. They came out from behind their barricades looked at my license, then told me not to change lanes without using my blinker. I was free to go.

BREAK BREAK>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I am now at training in North Carolina.

Technically I am out here on TDY status. I am not realistically able or even supposed to set up a household here, I am expected to just live in hotels for the next however many months. Luckily I heard some good ideas from previous students in this program… Basically, I found a condo on the beach for less than the cost of staying in a hotel for the next few months. I save Uncle Sam money and get paid to live on the beach!

I have taken up surfing.

Just so you don’t all get too jealous let me tell you this. This is the first “furnished” apartment I have ever lived in. Furnished it is! Decorated as well! Unfortunately it is decorated in a style I like to call, “Un-cool Aunt.” Everything in this place is either pink or covered in flower prints. I didn’t even know you could get this many things with matching pink flowers on them! Even the light switch covers! Oh well, I can put up with that for the only thing between me and the beach is a sand dune!

One last comment: It is the most unbelievable mind fuck to go from a year living in half a shipping container in Afghanistan to drinking beer looking at the beach and surfing every day in under 6 weeks.

*NOTE: Stacy always would say mean things to helicopters to fix their mechanical problems. His infallible philosophy being: “You should treat whores like ladies and ladies like whores… they both will love you for it.” He reasonably extended this philosophy from women to aircraft and cars.

**NOTE: He did always say sweet things to 68-10776…

***NOTE: I didn’t rename Stacy because he is already a seven foot tall giant bearded helicopter mechanic former Navy Chief-Master-Chief-I-C from the mountains of Montana whose real name is already Stacy. Where could I even go with that?

****NOTE: For the female readers: If I am nice to you, please don’t assume I think you are a whore. It is best if you believe I don’t subscribe to this philosophy.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A tan left forearm.

Greetings from the never ending road trip! I believe when we last left off I was headed to Detroit via the High school parking lot. Unfortunately the hood broke off the Fiat so I had to skip the High School. (Some combination of metal fatigue and rust… Just another opportunity to upgrade as far as I can tell.)

Anyways… so I rolled into Detroit on a Friday. Amateur-Sophist was surprisingly still at work. If you are also a reader of his writings, you will see that he solved that problem almost immediately. With the work problem solved so begins the week of over powered, underweight vehicles. I was in the market for a motorcycle… and as it turned out, they didn’t have any in Montana. Not the case there in the motorcity USA! A-S and I went and looked at some bikes.

The Sophist and I have been known to make a few analogies about women and vehicles… For the purposes of clarity here, if I am talking about a vehicle, it is just a vehicle, and of course visa versa.

VOICE FROM THE PEANUT GALLERY: “There is a difference between women and vehicles?”

NOTORIOUS: “Yes, but it is mostly academic…”

Anyways, I had plenty of time in my shipping container in Afghanistan to contemplate the merits of almost every bike on the market… thoughtfully comparing various thrust to weight ratios, reading reviews of riding characteristics, and visually studying every picture of all the interesting bikes I could find. I came to the conclusion that the best bike for my purposes was going to be the BMW R1200R. It will cruse anywhere in relative comfort, it has the power to do awesome things, it will last for ever, and despite A-S’s discountable opinion, it looks pretty good. We went to the dealership… and I rode one. It was exactly what I expected in every respect. It road perfectly, it behaved in all riding regimes that I could test, and the salesman was giving me a very good deal. I was pretty sure I had found my bike… but decided to wait until Monday to pull the trigger. On the way back to the Sophist’s apartment, we stop at the Ducati dealership. Mostly it was just to look at the eye candy and kill time. I mean, my decision is pretty much already made… the BMW is perfect. This is sort of like stopping at a strip club on your way home from getting engaged.

We look around the Ducati dealership for a while. The bikes are crazy hot… but lots of cheepish plastic parts. After looking around a bit… we are about to head out the door. Just as we turn to leave, the sales man says to me, “Hey, I have one warmed up out in back… you want to go for a ride?”

So I went for a ride.

Oh shit! I got on it and Holy FUCK! Inside my chest was the competing sound of the silent scream of terror only felt by the immediately doomed to violent death and the “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” of Curious George the monkey when he accidentally flew a NASA rocket into space! Plus it had started raining!

Believe it or not… for several hours after riding both those bikes I still thought I had a decision ahead of me to make. I probably could have stayed mentally debating the pros and cons of the perfect bike vs the mechanical insanity for days. Finally, the Sophist pointed out that I already knew the answer to my question. He was right… I did.

And like so many important decisions, once contemplated in the right light, there really is no decision to be made… only action to enact.

So, when given a choice between a bike that is absolutely perfect and satisfying in everyway vs a maintenances intensive beast that is impractical in almost every measurable way and pretty much scares the shit out of me… I went with the latter.

(Now insert all your comparisons to women if you like… they are undoubtedly applicable.)

Stage two: Detroit arrival +9 hours.

We are in a bar in Hamtramck called “Whiskey in the Jar.” Despite what you would expect, it is neither an Irish nor a Polish bar. It is in fact a Drinker bar. They seemed to specialize in super cheep beer and cherry flavored hydraulic fluid. I do have to say, after a few sips of cherry hydraulic fluid, the mind becomes very clear. A zen way of thought takes over and you have ideas like… We are one hour closer to Ohio from here than we would be if we were an hour farther from there.” Obviously we should go to Ohio from here!

By an odd play of transportation… Jonny Motto, who had had no intention of going to Ohio at all that day, found himself on his way to Ohio with the Sophist and me. His resistance was minimal given the previous mentioned logic. We were in the Buick… So, being out of drinking practice for the last year, I handed the keys to the Sophist and retired to captain’s cabin (back seat) and left the crew to take us into port. It was dark and rainy. My only significant impression of that ride was the insane numbers of cars crashed in the ditch with their headlights pointing the wrong way. Being able to see the silver lining… at least the cops were to busy to mess with us… as long as we were able to keep the car on the road! From now on, if I have some reason to need to roll with no interference from the fuzz… I will be doing it during really crappy weather and natural disasters.

Ohio… it is right on the way anyways.

Kentucky… even more right on the way!

What the heck was I doing in Kentucky right? As a birthday trip for AG, we went to the Creation Museum. This place is unbelievable… literally! The unfortunate part was that it was full of “real” visitors and obviously well funded. I don’t consider myself to have been a real visitor… though they do have documentation of my attendance. I am not sure I would say it is worth the trip, but if you are in Kentucky anyways, stop by! The dioramas are the best I have ever seen. They also had a petting zoo…sans dinosaurs. Outside in the petting zoo there were two ponies… and they were being quite amorous regardless of the young Christian minds they were performing for. So, to the sound of grunting animal sex I realized, “Shit, I guess this is a Creation Museum!”

Next tactical problem to solve how do I get both a gigantic Buick and a Ducati to Montana… After attempting to solve this for about a day and a half, I realized that I didn’t want to solve it at all. Detroit is much closer to where I am going to need this thing than Montana is anyways. So I developed a new plan. I will leave the bike in Stos the Greek’s garage… and come back in a month or so and take ride it to North Carolina!

(Didn’t I tell you I am on a never ending road trip!)

From experience, I have learned that I shouldn’t leave anything I care about in Detroit for to long unattended. The entropy of that place is to much to high! I will be back for the bike ASAP!

Speaking of entropy… I visited my grandmother as well. Alztimers is hitting pretty hard, but she couldn’t have a better attitude about it! I have always said “you only have to lie in your own mind.” She is taking full advantage of the fact that she can make pretty much everything about her life up and no one is going to call her on it. According to her, she is 35, has several boyfriends, and her main dilemma is who to flirt with at dinner. Actually, it seems that she is sliding around in her memory “Slaughter House V” style. By her account she will out live us all. She might.


Next stop for this boat show is what was described as, “Just outside Chicago.” Now, technically it is… just a little more than an hour Northwest of Chicago. In my mind I had assumed this meant something along the line of just beyond decent public transportation. In fact this meant directions include “so you turn off the paved road.” Just outside Chicago… like Jupitor is just outside the inner solar system.

Either way, with a progressive taxi on cell phone I found his house. Years can change people… Not having seen him in a while I was quite surprised to find that the years have turned him into a combination of Jesus Christ and Arnold Schwarzenegger… looks wise anyways. We talked for quite a while. Then after what turned into a 4 hour conversation with his new female associate about the public education system… it seems we are fucked! On a side note, I have heard lots of adults talk about how the “kids are different now, not like we used to be, etc.” I had always blown this off as the thing every generation says about the next one. After listening to some very well thought out examples and arguments… it may actually be the case. This seems to indicate more need for my genes to be preserved into the future of humanity. One can always hope that in Nature vs Nurture… Nature is the Dom!

Also, as I think about it… if this current generation really is mentally, educationally, and socially fucked up, it is probably their fault! These kids are different! They can’t read, and can’t speak proper English! They can’t communicate without electronic media as an interface! Who else could have brought this about? I am sure it is the 12 year old kid that decided to cancel art and music from the curriculum to focus on standardized tests and it is also them that volunteered to be a market for all sorts of mind numbing mass produced electronic gizmos… Oh well, fuck them! At least I am not in their generation! These kids are different from us anyways! …not like we were!

Onward again…

Pretty smooth drive across the rest of the great plains… then about 200 miles out side of Great Falls the Buick started to tap out. She started some wicked vibrations. It wasn’t through the steering… but it was enough to make the mirrors useless. Luckily if I stayed over 75 mph, the vibrations seemed to smooth out. Below that though… shit, I am glad I don’t have dentures! In addition to the vibes I was loosing power under load. It almost seemed like a few of the cylinders were cutting out. I nursed her to Louistown. Unfortunately all the auto parts stores are closed on Sunday… (Auto parts store parking lots are my preferred location to breakdown in cars) Next best place is gas stations across the street from airports where I know people. I figure worst case I can go over to the FBO and borrow some tools or assistance. Turns out part of the vibe was from the alternator bracket having lost one of it’s retaining bolts. I borrowed a crescent wrench from one of the other cars parked at the gas station. (all my tools are unusefully sitting in the trunk of the fiat… or one could just assume that I have made the fiat so fast and light by now that if hadn’t left them there it might float away all by itself) So I looked around for a bolt to secure the alternator. I found one! It was conveniently in the hood mounting hinge! I pulled it out of the hood mounting hinge and resecured the alternator. Now with the alternator bolted back into place, I attempted to restart the car. No dice. When the bracket was loose, the belt on the alternator had been slipping on each bounce so I didn’t have enough charge to turn over the tiny 7.5L engine. Jump start! No problem… back on the road… unfortunately with still about 2/3s of the vibrations still shaking the car. (Maybe the alternator bearings are all reamed out from the bouncing! Maybe!)

Either way, made it back to Great Falls… though the Buick was not happy about the rest of that trip… making it’s displeasure known by shaking enough between the speeds of 35 – 65 that the radio stations would change themselves. No time for that shit! With a quick change of horses R^2 and I continued on to Seattle! This time in a Mazda 3.

My aunt lives in Seattle… so in addition to exchange of philosophy she also restarted my tradition of pasta for breakfast! This was subtly encouraged by providing a real kitchen and putting bags of pasta next to the stove early in the morning. It is a lot like encouraging ants to eat potato salad on the forth of July by putting a few pieces next to their house when your mother isn’t looking. A little weird but so natural.

Seattle: Best place to drink beer with a view.

As long as we are this close… might as well take a quick day and a half trip out to the pacific coast. I thought I had never been there before, but once we got there… like some sort of weird deja vu I felt that I had been there before. (OK… enter a SMALL amount of nerdyness on my part…) As it turns out I had been there on a field trip with Science Camp about 17 years ago. I know… I know… Science Camp was way cool back then though. Even more absurdly I realized I had been there before by recognizing a tree, actually I recognized one particular tree. Then, like being splashed in the face with a bucket of ice cold water I realized that I recognized everything! I will caveat this with the fact that it is a really impressive tree that I had actually thought about several times in the last two decades.

Now, on this trip because of the near perfect weather, we stumbled what may be the most ideally romantic situation possible. Granted you have to be willing to break a few laws… maybe only regulations… well, just have a good explanation ready if you get caught by authority figures. (Should be no problem for anyone who would read this blog.) I will only go into describing the ingredients of this situation. It combined every standard ideal romantic situation possible… completely secluded beach, sunset over the pacific, campfires, wine-cheese-salami-cracker combo dinner, moonlit waves crashing on the shore, sleeping under the stars, and even a little adventure from rising tide in the middle of the night. Thank god for the sand flees or my teeth might have rotted right in my head! The only thing missing was a serenading gondola ride. Actually it was very nice. And to think, the beaches in my childhood were mostly about digging holes and poking dead carp that had washed up on the sand. Either way, if anyone needs a situation like this… keep the Pacific Northwest shore in mind. Be aware though, normally it would require rain gear. (As for breaking regulations… technically you are not allowed to “Camp” on the beach. As far as I see it, we had no tent… thus we weren’t camping! We were just sleeping on the beach near a campfire. Believe it or not, fires are allowed!)

A side note: I will admit that my fire craft is not quite what it used to be. It probably took me about 4 matches to get that thing lit. That was using wetish all natural found tinder and kindling… but I will have to practice more. I am a long way from the no match fires of my early teen years. I guess have just gotten used to the idea of having to start fires near crashed aircraft that I haven’t been practicing the no resources fire starting techniques.

Alright… enough for now. And just incase anyone is curious, it wasn’t the bearings in my alternator. Now I am hoping for impending U joint failure! If I can get the Buick fixed in the next few days, I will be off to New Mexico next week.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Finally a post... an update from the US of A!

Before I make someone else's list of failed and dead blogs, I need to post an update. The problem this last month is that a lot of actually living life has been happening and has kept me somewhat off the computer... well, at least not as much time by myself in a shipping container... Anyways...

Flew some missions... some training... eventually that was done...

So I said good by to my guys. It was a bit sadder experience than I would have expected. They put together a sort of special lunch up in "the babe's" office. I was advocating the classroom for more space but the former warlord turned general rank wearing Lieutenant Colonel squadron commander wanted to have the going away thing in his office. So, that is what we did. Who doesn't want to put twenty guys in a room the size of a walk in closet along with kebabs, roast chickens, and crazy amounts of bananas?

I would have pictures, but I gave my camera away to one of my pilots. That guy probably took about a third of all the pictures on that camera anyways. Any time we went somewhere and I wanted to get pictures, but didn't want to take them myself, I would just give the camera to him and would have about 300 pictures almost instantly. I am pretty sure that there is some shutterbug gene that some people have. He even makes my mom seem like she takes a reasonable amount of pictures. (Those of you who have suffered photo taking experiences with my mom can appreciate that comment.)

So, no pictures.

But I can make the very carefully worded claim that, "None of the guys who I trained died, got hit by any enemy fire, or destroyed an aircraft after I began training them!" That is probably what I am happiest about and can not be said by all who are over there. Obviously I needed to leave because time and statistics were probably going to catch up soon!

So, I gave the keys to my motorcycle to a guy who was going to give them to my replacement... put everything I had that was legal to send in the mail, and hopped a flight up to Kyrgistan to catch my rotator home.

We have a base up in Bishkek, Kyrgistan. It is sort of a train station/bus stop of a base. Everyone on their way in and out of Afghanistan goes through that there. On the base are a few hanger sized tents filled with dudes waiting to go somewhere and the smell of dirty socks. They also have a chow hall and a bar. At the bar is where you get your two drink ration! Yes, so I had my first legal drinks in theater in a year! While I was there I was surprised how many people I knew. It seems that everyone who is anybody eventually goes through the bar at that base. I ran into people from school, pilot training, old squadrons... etc. It seems to be one of those places on the planet that if you wait there long enough, you will see everyone you would ever need to run into eventually.

As a side note, two beers was enough to completely knock me out of my brain! Granted they were some crazy burly russian beer that only go by the the name "number 9"... but still... I am out of practice! For all those of you that have ever wanted to out drink me, this is your chance! You have about two months. I am training and should be back up to my old competition standards in that time! Though being there and buzzing after two beers, I see why they don't allow that in combat areas... mostly because everyone would tell their bosses how idiotic everything that is going on and they might have to call off the war for lack of interest and beer induced rational thought!

Eventually the land of two beers slips into the past and I find myself landing in Baltimore at midnight. I have to check in at 0415 in the morning. I had no interest in going to a hotel for that short of time, so I sit down at the USO and turn on my cell phone for the first time in a year. My texting skills were rusty, but they have come back quickly.

About then I find out that a few of the hotels near the airport let returning GI's take showers in their staff locker rooms. Excellent! After three days of no sleep and riding in government airplanes I was in the mood for a shower. I stowed my equipment in an empty room at the USO, took my weapons in their case, (can't leave them unattended) and brought my toothbrush and a change of underwear to the hotel to take a shower. Turns out the hotel had a bar! Of course! So me, my weapons, my change of underwear, and my tooth brush in the pen pocket of my flight suit went into the hotel bar! I was not the first off that plane coming back from afghanistan to discover that hotel bar. The place was filled with us. The Marines were hitting on some chicks from a wedding party, some other helicopter pilots were devoting themselves to scotch, and there were some under 21 year old types still in uniform pretending they were older and seeing what they could get away with. I joined the other pilots. I would have joined the marines crashing the dressed up wedding chicks, but they were making territorial body language gestures and it seemed like to much work.

Eventually the bar closed, and we got around to taking showers in the hotel staff locker room. It was amazing! The hot water lasted FOREVER! Ever better than that, the shower drained! Showers are much more cleansing experiences when you aren't ankle deep in dirty water, piss, and hair... and maybe some other fluids... YECK!

Eventually I made it back out to Montana for a low key week of in-processing and hanging out with R^2. They made me give back all my weapons and cool equipment. Damn!

HOLLYWOOD: Dude, I don't know how you endured this change. The 40th has become a haven for babies and boredom! It wasn't that long ago that we were a marauding band of vikings slashing our way through he Great Falls social scene with free drinks and skanky mustache rides! Now the place is a get up early Saturday to cut the grass and pick your next assignment based on comparisons between school districts! Either way a girl still can't go near the 40th HS without worrying about getting pregnant... but for entirely different reasons now!

Right now I am in Gladstone. It is pretty much the same... I always expect this place will be different when I come back but it never is. They built a skate park in the park... that is about it.

For those of you that are interested, I took the Fiat out of storage. It started right up! It seems my mom thinks I drive it to fast. This is how that conversation went.

(She was in the car, I thought she would appreciate the mechanical capabilities and driving skills of her son.)

Mom: Nicholas! DO NOT SCARE ME!
Me: We aren't even going faster than the speed limit! (Points to speedometer indicating less than 35 MPH)
Mom: Dear...... Don't drive like an idiot!

Apparently staying under the speed limit doesn't count when you are doing it going sideways through a residential intersection with smoke coming off your tires... I didn't know that.

Tomorrow I will be headed down to Detroit and Ohio.

(The high school should be getting out about now... maybe I can go impress some High School chicks by doing doughnuts in the school parking lot as they get on the busses!) Obviously I have to go now.