I’ve had a short car ride to consider the matter and I have resolved that, next time, I will simply step out of line, open the luggage, and begin to rifle through the contents until you people learn.
But this morning, all I did was admit to myself that if it was a bomb, if today was the end, then I’d rather go out without panicking or making anyone else panic. And I was so close to the left-alone-luggage that I was actually happy that it would probably be instant, painless death, instead of painful injury, followed by opioid-addict life.
Truth be told, I only treated the situation as terrorist-dramatic because I like to test myself. Sure, the lady who just decided to stop pulling her carry-on right next to the 40-min long TSA security line was BIPOC, brown to be exact. I’d guess from India. Huge strike against her, and for travel terrorism. But she had a child with her. And she clearly was pissed at her husband. He was—somehow—the one lagging on the trip through the airport. In my experience, men usually drag their wives. But given the end of the holiday weekend, and given the packed nature of the airport, all I guessed was that she was doing the classic dumb-wife move of being mad that they might miss their flight (perhaps it was even his fault) and then compounding that anger with the fact that her husband was not reacting with the emotional interest that she expected. When exactly did remaining calm become an undesirable quality?
Anyhow, taken together, I was not afraid, but I was shocked. Dumbfounded. Who is left on this planet that is stupid enough to walk away from a piece of luggage at an airport?
That’s why I say that next time I will just attempt to shame the person by exposing their messy undergarments to the general public. If they haven’t learned nicely, then shame is the only remaining tool, in my book.
Today, however, I was consoling H- who, when we reached the “end” of the security line and discovered it was double-wrapped in a way we had not experienced before, had begun to cry. Despite my later-proved-to-be-accurate claim that “we’ll be at the gate before they even begin boarding,” I couldn’t prevent the water works.
Anyhow, that is what distracted me from going the “open-luggage-to-shame” route, and instead just notice it—notice it and focus unrelentingly until a worker came by shouting instructions for the line who then added, “Whose is this?” All I could do was point. But I pointed with a force that said, “That dumb mother fucker over there.” Then I laughed to myself and low-talked to H-, “I pointed! Ha. Didn’t even blink. Just dimed them out. Funny.”
Guess maybe I, too, was getting tired of watching a woman make stupid decisions after a long holiday weekend with one.
Oh well. At least you and I are ready for next time.
Don’t wait. Find out for yourself if it’s a bomb.
Especially after my last two posts full of heroic bravado, I know my female faithful are longing to know what it’s really like to be my bride. Well, as luck would have it, I feel like pulling back the curtain a bit. The following back and forth occurred on the drive to see some houses. As expected, I lead. Enjoy!
“I’m just saying that I don’t think ‘how old a house is’ should automatically disqualify it.”
“All I think about is how much everything is going to break and any money that we save we will spend on fixing it.”
“Every house needs repairs. To me, and this may just be me, the key is having money for those repairs. Sure we could probably afford a slightly newer house, but we’d be signing on to not having that extra few hundred dollars every single month for the next 30 years.”
“I just want a nice house.”
“I know you do, Honey. Me, too. I just feel like you’re not seeing things the best way. So I’m going to keep trying to paint the picture I see.”
“I just would like a nice house.”
“I’m not saying we’re not getting a nice house. I’m mostly just saying we need to stick to a budget. That’s a good idea, right?”
“If we buy a house that’s one hundred years old, and then we need to sell it fast, who’s going to buy it?”
“We don’t know the future no matter what. We didn’t think we’d be moving again just three months ago. I don’t think the future should weigh so heavily in the decision.”
“You’re not understanding me.”
“That may be. But I am asking you to try harder to explain yourself then. (breath) The way I see it, even if you’re right–and we buy an old house and are stuck with it–it’s better to be stuck with a small mortgage payment, than a big one, no?”
“That kitchen was very small.”
“And I feel like I can imagine how knocking out one part of one of the walls would make it feel bigger.”
“-And, sorry, I have a philosophy that small is better anyhow. In the future, there will be more people crowding together in that kitchen than in a big kitchen, I promise. I can’t explain it, but I have seen it. In my last house, it was small and I could fill it with people. Other houses I’ve been in weren’t like that. I can see the full, noisy kitchen now. There’ll be twenty of you in that little area chatting away and interrupting each other, saying, ‘Excuse me!’ ‘Pardon me!’ ‘Ha, where’d the … go?’ Everyone will love it.”
(Here, reader, I think it’s better to spend your time imagining the look I felt being cast upon me, than read any feeble description of it.)
“No? Well, I’m right. But I’ll try another way. How’s this? When you say you want a nice and big kitchen, what I hear is that you’d rather spend three hundred dollars per month to look at a kitchen, than on anything else. Is that what you’re saying? Would you say it like that? ‘I’d rather spend money to be in a kitchen than on shoes or clothes or A-‘s education or vacations?’ Is that what you’re telling me? If so, that’s easy. I agree. Let’s do it. But then you can’t complain in the future.”
“Did you just say that to me?”
“(Here see laughter coming out of my big, beautiful smile as I shake my head.) That’s not wrong to say. It’s helpful to say. It helps us communicate because as of this moment I still can’t figure out what the problem is. The way I see it, we have to pay a certain amount of money to live in a building. And anything above that is not smart. Why pay more than the minimum? I’m talking about flexibility. Sure, if we get an old house, it may have more problems. But as they come, we have options. We can fix them immediately. Or maybe never. Or sometime in between. But all the while, we can choose and rank how important every other thing is.”
“The bathtub was very short.”
“Let me put it this way. Would you rather have $300 a month or no money a month?”
“Then I win. I’m telling you that if we stick to the budget and get an older house, which perhaps will need more repairs, we will have $300 a month extra to spend on whatever we want.”
“What if I put it this way? What I’m saying is, if we get an old house, within budget, then every month you can go to the store and buy anything you want.”
Here, careful reader, the flaw in husbands and wives trying to talk to make decisions together manifests itself fully. The following questions remain:
Did my heroic, strong, brave, and incredibly intelligent self just get worn down to promising a blank check to my wife?
Was this her aim the entire time?
Did I, in fact, promise it? Follow-up: And, if so, am I bound to keep that promise?
These questions and more are now staring me in the face as I proceed down the path only found by those seeking marital bliss.
My aim here is to give you the good stuff, the thoughts of a professional helicopter pilot who had to go to work the next day. Most of the following is criticism of your reporting of the crash, not my speculation about the crash. Listen up. You’ll learn a lot.
To begin, you journalists are doing a great disservice to language and how it works (not to mention your reputation) during your reporting. For example, the word “special” in, “He was on a special VFR clearance,” is nothing like “special” in, “Kobe was a special basketball superstar.” In other words, on any given day, every pilot in the sky could simultaneously be on a “special VFR clearance”.
Secondly, after completing every paragraph, reread it and ask yourself, “Is there anything in here which betrays that I have a complete misunderstanding of all things aviation?” If you answer affirmatively on any level, rewrite it. Specifically, pilots don’t ask for “flight following” because they are worried. When I’m worried, I hold my breath, I pace, I shake my head, I purse my lips, I mutter to myself, and I probably do a few other things of which I’m not even aware, too–no different than you. “Flight following” is meaningfully on the same level of flight safety as learning how to fly from someone else before flying solo. It’s absolutely unremarkable.
Thirdly, flying has so much drama inherent to it, or so much “organic” drama, that if you find yourself needing to add some, then you’re clearly not writing about flying. For instance, “Too low for flight following,” (Oooh!) has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with the capabilities of the sending and receiving technologies which have been tasked with “following” the flight. In other words, in Iraq, we routinely flew at 100 ft above the ground. This is much lower than Kobe’s flight, and yet our Operations Centers knew exactly where we were every second we were there.
Fourthly, reread your articles for general common sense blunders. Particularly ridiculous are your claims about the differences between IFR and VFR flying. To be clear, whether flying under “Instrument Flight Rules” or “Visual Flight Rules”, whether flying in clouds (fog is just a cloud at the Earth’s surface), whether flying under clouds, whether flying over clouds, or whether flying in skies totally free of clouds, all pilots fly by eyesight.
Do you copy? You’re not doing your job responsibly when you’re not doing your research or using your brain. Admit when you don’t know what you’re writing about. You’re embarrassing yourself.
What caused the crash? Poor judgement. Bad decision making. At some level, once removed, the weather can be called a factor. But clouds are merely invisible gaseous water vapor that has condensed into visible liquid water. They cause daydreams; they are the outward cause of lightning and its thunder. The condensation can occur strongly enough to cause itself to fall to the earth as precipitation. But clouds do not cause pilots to crash.
Pilots cause pilots to crash.
We know that.
That’s why we’re so special.
“Well where’s the hood?” he asked.
“The hood?” H- replied in kind.
“Which side is the hood facing?” he repeated.
The father-daughter duo were back in the tent from an early morning bathroom run. H- had really needed to go.
“Yeah, on good sleeping bags like yours they put a hood where your head goes for when it is super cold,” he explained.
With wide eyes and delicate hands she proceeded to maneuver the sleeping bag around until she thought it matched her father’s words.
“Good,” he confirmed. “Now get in like normal,” he suggested. “That’s right. Now-”
H- needed no further instruction. Once in, she pressed her head up against the top of the hood and pulled down on the sides, experiencing that sensation which must fall within the bounds of what more studied men call pure delight. Soon, no longer seen by H-, he observed that she had let the hood fall over her eyes all the way down to the tip of her nose. After she fiddled with the drawstring she carefully exposed her finger from within the bag once more, this time to touch her nostrils.
“What are you doing?” he inquired, chuckling to himself.
“What?” she feigned.
“Were you just checking to see if you could still breathe out of your nose?”
A pause–probably much longer for the girl in the dark.
Click here if you need your memory jogged.
Or read these two snippets.
“You stare at him, and he just stares right back. And that’s when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side, from the other two ‘raptors you didn’t even know were there.”
“The point is… you are alive when they start to eat you. So you know… try to show a little respect.”
Do you remember how surprised you were to learn that the ever mysterious and enchanting king of the dinosaurs T-Rex’s visual acuity was based on movement, as “Oh Alan” describes? What an intriguing revelation that was. And then in the time it took for Sam Neill’s index fingers to swing from his side to his front, within that instant, a previously unknown dinosaur severed any remaining connection our minds had with any reality outside the film. From that moment, unlike the annoying kid who has had enough velociraptor for a lifetime, we found ourselves thirsting for them. Like Dana Delany’s head-straightening declaration “I want one” after hearing Billy Zane’s thespianic description of a quintessential cowboy while marveling at a distant, lean-silhouetted Wyatt Earp upon arriving in Tombstone, we wanted velociraptors. And Jurassic Park gave them to us. And to prove how much we wanted them, we set the Memorial Day weekend box office record as we paid to to see the sequel, The Lost World, way back then. Remember that? It’s true.
But the filmmakers failed us in the sequel. They had a little girl gymnastic-kick our beloved.
And then in number three, a velociraptor spoke English.
Last weekend, however, Sam Neill’s speech was back in the forefront as a new box-office record was set by the head-bobbing six-foot turkeys. Why? Why did we rush to see it? Because the previews and movie posters teased us with the idea that we’d get to see what it would be like to have our very own velociraptors. Velociraptors as pets. Awesome.
All because of Sam Neill. Nice work, Sam.
Almost from the day I began this blog I had my suspicions about the integrity of the likes/follows my blog was getting, but last Thanksgiving was definitely the turning point. I’m sure that like many of you, I couldn’t help but notice that my posts often got a “like” plus “follow” by another blogger within moments of publishing my newest post. Blinded by the promise of fortune and fame, I would check out the culprit’s blog and see if I thought they were a discerning reader or a machine. More often than not, I allowed myself to believe they were a discerning reader and that their “like” meant that I had published something valuable.
Then came last Thanksgiving. I had been blogging fairly regularly for about one and a half years, and beginning in early 2014 it seemed that this blog was finally gaining some traction with “readers”. Letting myself succumb to the holiday spirit, I decided to write a post “thanking” all the “likers” that, in part, motivated me to keep writing. Of particular note was one particular blogger. She had tens of thousands of followers (30K+ as of today) and yet was liking my blog posts regularly. It felt so good to see that she was reading and liking my writing. I really wanted to throw some blog-love her way (and others) and so I began my thankful post with her name. Surely she would notice this, I thought. I named some thirteen other bloggers (see the post here) before moving to the names of real people that I knew were reading nearly every post–friends and family.
Guess what happened?
Not a single one of those bloggers “liked” the post.
I mentioned this to my sister and she said, “Maybe they don’t like being called out?” Maybe. But no. It soon became clear that the reason they didn’t like my post was it was Thanksgiving–a holiday. And unlike me, they didn’t get on their laptop that day. They didn’t go to their WordPress Reader and click “like” on some dude’s post in an effort to gain a follower.
Another example of this disingenuous tactic was a blogger that has since disappeared. He jumped from 1200 to 4000+ followers in no time. Yet he took the time to read (so I thought) and “like” my posts day after day after day. But I would never “follow” his blog. I’d “like” some of his posts, but it’s like I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of following his blog, so I didn’t. Finally he wore me down. So I clicked “follow”.
Guess what happened?
You got it. No more “likes” from him.
But it looked so cool that these blogs had thousands and thousands of followers. I wanted my blog to be that cool. It wasn’t. I had been writing for a year and a half. I had published about 300 well-written, engaging, strongly/uniquely-voiced posts and had around 400 followers heading into last December. Remember, I quit my job and was determined to write two books and keep blogging Monday-Friday at this point in time. I also decided while I wasn’t working that I would use the time to gain as many followers as I could by whatever methods were available. (“If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin'” as we said in the Air Force.) Being a doggedly determined guy who still held onto a fool’s hope that blog-followers would eventually become book-buyers, I gained 1400 followers between mid-December and late January (six weeks).
Tomorrow I will share how I did it so that you can too, not that you’ll want to. Tomorrow, I will also demonstrate unequivocally why you should learn to honestly stop caring about likes/follows. Tomorrow, I will unapologetically pull back the WordPress curtain.
Not to argue with Shakespeare, but from my humble experience all the world’s not a stage–it’s a runway. I don’t mean Top Gun runway, I mean runway like Zoolander–the place where fashion is king.
Topping a long list of very surprising situations in which I have discovered, post Air Force, that appearance reigns is last Saturday’s episode. I found myself wearing a black suit with a black open-collar button-down underneath it. A gold chain around my neck suspended a gold security officer badge. I was stationed at the front of a bar while the St. Patrick’s Day parade was passing by just outside. My mission: prevent liquid from passing by me in either direction.
At least I had a stool to sit on.
The guy who arranged the gig freely told me he wanted me specifically (out of three others) to man this highly visible post at the fairly nice bar because I had “the look.” It didn’t take long for a few of the older women from the group nearest me to come over.
“What are you? Off-duty cop?”
“Right. You’re the best dressed off-duty cop I’ve ever seen. What’s that badge say?”
“It’s just for show.”
“Sure it is. I like your glasses.”
“Can we get a picture with you?” Turning to a friend, she says, “Hey. Use my phone, I want to get a picture with this guy. Isn’t he the best-dressed cop you’ve seen?”
One of the older guys with them then says to me with a knowing nod, “It’s pays to be good-looking, no?”
That proved the day’s only photo-op (luckily–it was exhausting) but about three more times before the end of the shift I found myself unable to convince talkative admirers that I was not an off-duty policeman and that the badge was just a psychological aide to calmness and security for the less talkative. Can you imagine my consternation? I’d suggest envisioning an ironic, unbelieving smile for starters.
A new portrait of the world is slowly forming in my head. One that includes me dressing like a millionaire and parking my Elantra several brisk-paced blocks away.
The planet’s Earth-like gravity had an unexpected welcoming effect on Mission Commander Stevenson as he stepped out of the craft. This was the forty-first world he had visited on this particular eighteen month mission. He hadn’t shared with anyone yet that it would be his last. He was sixty-four years old and while his mind was never sharper, his body was starting to say no.
NASA probably expected him to call it quits sooner rather than later, but he knew they would be sorry to see him leave. Not the first mission commander to make a career of exploring new galaxies, he hoped he would prove to be the most steadfast. He had personally stepped foot on six hundred thirty-five extraterrestrial worlds. Not one of them contained life.
Oh, sure, he had had plenty of R and R back on Earth between missions, but it was all beginning to wear on him. As evidence of this, to a person, all the other astronauts could even deliver his famous “one complaint” speech–accent and all–verbatim.
Month thirteen, almost to the day, he’d say, “For someone as fortunate as me, someone who has seen the glory of the cosmos up close and in person, to complain would be criminal.” The imitator would then pause, just like Stevenson always did. “But I am human. I do have my own thoughts. And if I had to pick one thing that I would change about the program, it would be the gloves! I have spent over half my life feeling the inside of a pair of gloves. Every celebratory hug we’ve had after discovering we got a chance to live on after opening the door, every rock I’ve lifted, every flagpole I’ve planted, every tool I’ve used, everything has felt the same. I just wish something could be done about that.” Every newbie expected the speech to end at that point and just about interrupted the old man as he continued undeterred, which made it all the more amusing for everyone else. “I miss the feel of a woman, the feel of a Christmas tree, the feel of not quite warm enough shower water. Most of all, I miss the feel of dirt–my dirt.”
As he looked back for the others to join him on the ritual first walk around the new world, he unconsciously reached for the fastener on his glove.
Damyanti, Stephswint, iGamemom, Stuart M. Perkins, Frausto, E.I. Wong, Man of Many Thoughts, theryanlanz, RobertOkaji, Elan Mudrow, Dennis Cardiff, KidazzleInk, Dieter Rogiers, Christine Fichtner, Betsy, Karen, Daedalus, Ron, Drew, David, Joan, Vince, Alex, Joe, Eileen, Elliani, Susan, Greeny, Schoen, Tripp, Andy, Garrett, Shannon, Preston, Janet, Larry, Kate, Sam, (Mike?), Grandma, Grandpa, Noa, and K-: Thank you for reading. Some of you have read every single post, and it seems that the rest of you have read nearly every post. Thank you. You give me your time and that means the world to me. Thank you.
We’re all busy today, but in exchange for two minutes more, I’ll give you guys tomorrow off. Please keep reading.
I have quit every job I have had since leaving the Air Force. The other day I finally figured out why. The reason has to do with time and energy. I gave all my time and all my energy to my singular goal of becoming a hero pilot for the United States of America for over a decade. And now when I unintentionally find myself in front of a news source, I see stuff about ISIS. To be clear, I can’t shake the feeling that I wasted my time and energy. If I believe serving in the Air Force of a country whose way of life is worth defending to the death is a waste, you needn’t read my anti-carwash/anti-customer posts to empathize with how I might feel about working at a carwash. Simply put, I realized I’m once bitten, twice shy as they say.
But through it all it’s been seeing your gravatars at the bottom of the posts that keeps me writing. I don’t think it’s a waste of my time to improve my writing, because I think I have something to say. Whether I do have anything of value to contribute on a large-scale is yet to be seen. What I know is that you make me feel like I might. While this blog is primarily a sounding board, I spend hours making sure I don’t think I’m wasting your time. And I think my writing has improved. I’m especially proud of Piano Practice and there is no way I could’ve written that without two years of your encouragement. Again, thank you.
Next to H- and the Mark Twain Listening Club, this blog is the only other thing I give my full attention to. If your name is in the list above, whether you care or not, know that you are one of my top three reasons to try–to fight–in this life. But there is one name missing.
I met George two years ago. He is a constant source of inspiration. He is as principled a man as I have met, moreover he reads and responds sincerely to every post. I have moved away from nearly every friend I’ve ever had for one reason or another and will not hesitate to admit that I’m scared to ever lose George. Honestly, regarding my writing, his encouragement falls under the “dangerous” category.
To know that someone believes in you is probably the most empowering/powerful feeling we can experience as humans. Only I know how I’ve handled this life, and despite the tone that I’m sure comes through in my words, the great “I Am” knows that the truth is not pretty. But that’s the thing about believing in someone. It’s contagious. I know George believes in me. And that makes me believe in me. That makes me believe that no matter what mistakes–sometimes terrible mistakes–I’ve made, the fight is winnable and worth winning.
Thank you George.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
The only way to get there is together.
“I just realized something, H-” he announced, turning down the car stereo.
“I just remembered that on our trip today we’re going to be passing through the toll booths again,” he said. “You know, the ones that have the trolls in them–the trolls that look like people.”
“Trolls that look like people?” she asked, her tone signalling that memories were beginning to solidify.
“Trolls collecting tolls, remember?”
“Oh yeah, I remember now,” she said.
“Do you want to practice your song now? Or do you think you’ll be ready to sing the beautiful flower song when we get to where they are?” he asked.
“I can practice now,” she answered. “And daddy?”
“If I don’t sing a beautiful flower song,” she began earnestly, “then the trolls will chase us down and eat us.”
“That’s right, H-. I gotta pay the toll, and you gotta sing a beautiful flower song as I do. Do you think you’re up to it today?”
“Yep,” she said.
The little girl then began to sing.
Flowers are up in the sky
Flowers are up in the sky
Flowers are dying and some flowers are dying-
“Wait, H-,” he interrupted. “Why are flowers dying? I don’t think that’s going to pass the test. Dying flowers aren’t beautiful.”
“Oh,” she said, realizing he may be telling the truth.
“That’s okay, H-. Just start again.”
The little girl began again.
Flowers are up in the sky
Some flowers are unhappy and other flowers are unhappy-
“H-!” he interrupted a second time. “What is going on here? Why are you singing about flowers dying and being unhappy? The song to keep the trolls from eating us has to be a beautiful flower song. Beautiful. Do you think you can do that?”
“Yes, daddy, I can.”
And so again, H- began to sing.
Flowers, flowers are up in the sky
Some flowers are happy
And some flowers-
She cut herself off as soon as the “D” sound began. Laughing at her perfect demonstration of what pilot’s call “strength of an idea”, he suggested she wait until they were at the toll booth and just shoot from the hip then.
Luckily for our duo, on cue H- put together a beautiful number as he paid the toll to the troll.
“That’s my girl. You did good, H-, real good,” he said as they sped away from the danger.