Monday, August 25, 2008

Funny Tandem Story

My friend Alan recently talked about writing a novel. I mentioned the idea of writing a tandem novel of some sort with each of our blogging friends adding a paragraph in succession, wondering how it would turn out.

I was reminded an old, supposedly true story of such an experiment done in a college English classroom. I hear the students got an "A." Probably an urban legend, but it's still a funny story.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Harriet Oleson Flies US Air

Ran into another "colorful character" on the flight home from Philly to Seattle. This lady, her husband, and 4 children, provided running color commentary for the entire 5 hour flight. Whatever volume control she was born had been removed or simply burnt out from overuse. No sense of confined spaces and respect for people sleeping. It eventually became mildly humorous, actually, listening to her lambast her children and berate her husband in her thick Philly accent over nothing. I was reminded of Harriet Oleson of "Little House on the Praire" fame. Poor Mr. Oleson. I always found some satisfaction when Nels would finally stand up and say, "Harriet, shut up." Classic.

Nothing like this happened, though as much as I would have liked it to, and the flight ended quietly. Back in Seattle and ready for another week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Life's "Colorful Additions"

I need to "up my game" a bit. I've been slacking a little with the blogging.

I'm TDY again, attending a tactics course at McGuire AFB, NJ. I was stationed here for a year from May 03-Jun 04 while I attending the Advanced Studies in Air Mobility school. I drove past our old house at 4533 East Castle Drive. Looks the same. I couldn't help but chuckle as I looked over at my old neighbor's house. She was a very odd person, perfectly harmless, but one of those people that, shall we say, "adds color to life." She was a karate nut and would wear her black karate suit all the time while she worked in her yard. This in itself is a bit odd, but when it was sunny she'd top off this fashion faux pas with one of those Ho Chi Minh hats. For the first month we lived there I no-kidding thought my neighbor was VC. I looked out the window one day and her and her husband (also a karate nut) were chopping bamboo poles with samurai swords. Odd to say the least, but it still brings a chuckle every time I think about them. Spice to life, right?

This discussion brings me to another "colorful lady" I had the pleasure of riding with on the airplane from Seattle to Philly Wednesday. She was harmless enough. But she turned out to be one of those "20% of the people who cause 80% of the work." She hounded the poor flight attendants non-stop for the entire 5 hour flight. Normally I don't have very much pity of flight attendants. Most that I run across are borderline rude and make it very clear when you cross over into the realm of inconveniencing them. I honestly felt bad for the flight attendants that had to deal with this lady. She was a nice enough lady and meant well, but was just one of those folks that start to make you uncomfortable, you know? Like something is just not right.

What do you do short of telling her, "don't talk anymore, please?"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

We The People...

I've been TDY to Scott AFB, IL, this week, solving the world's airlift problems. I've been brought together with a group of experts from the operations, logistics, maintenance, and airlift management specialties, to work a particular problem. You ever see that movie, "Twelve Angry Men?" That's what it's been like. In a way, it's kind of interesting watching a diverse group come together to solve a common problem while simultaneously trying to champion their own agendas. I imagine it's something like what the founding fathers went through trying to carve out the first draft of the US Constitution, though no one here is wearing a wig and everyone is not nearly as formal and polite. I'm waiting for the Connecticut Compromise to come up so that we can all get things solved and go home.

This base is pretty nice. Being HQ for Air Mobility Command, I guess it's got to be. We're right outside of St. Louis which, I've found, is a very nice city. There's lots to do here and the weather has been very, very nice. I've been able to visit with some old friends from Altus here. It's been nice catching up on old times.

Tomorrow is the last day on the Continental, conference. We brief the General at 1000. Hopefully he likes what we have to say.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hackers and Ponies

Some great ideas from my friends to help spark the creative juices. Although very humerous, I opted not to use Rick's Survivor Island theme with kids being voted off. I once told a story where I killed off the kids' characters after a horrible meteor strike on their spaceship. The initial shock was quickly replaced with a long, "Nnnnooooooo!" Didn't go over very well. I had to quickly recover with the Soap Opera ploy, "It was all just a horrible dream."

Caryn, I used your suggestion and gave one of the characters computer hacker skills. My niece thinks it's pretty cool. Her character used it last night to help escape from a room filling with deadly poison gas. I'm trying to think how I'm going to fit a pony in the story. My boy doesn't have a problem with a pony as long as it's a man-eating pony. That would be cool. Even better, a man-eating pony with laser beam eyes and machine guns strapped to its back.

Chuck, I hear you about reading stories. It's tough to find stories that have the sheer number of farts, burps, mutant monsters like "Pizza the Hutt," and other non-sensical things I tend to include. I'll take any suggestions, though.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Little Help, Please

I need a little help from my friends.

I posted previously about a bedtime story that went horribly wrong. I just completed a series of bedtime stories that were the complete opposite--the kids were absolutely enthralled for nights on end. That's the problem. Now I've set the bar pretty high and they will accept nothing less than perfection. The natives are getting restless for a new batch of stories. I feel like Cheherazade of the Arabian Nights story--forced to come up with new and exciting stories on pain of death. Well, not death, but you get the idea of the pressure I'm under.

I need some ideas. The last story was about how my daughter, son, and three nieces were princesses and a prince going on various quests to see who was worthy to be queen or king of the kingdom. In the end they all realized that they had to work together and rule jointly. Government by executive committee, if you will. I jazzed it up by giving them all special powers (power to heal, super strength, Benjamin could turn into a rock creature like The Thing, super speed). I also gave them their own special weapons. They used their skills and weapons to fight various monsters like a dragon, a shark, and an ogre. One night after I finished a particular section of the story, the kids talked themselves to sleep discussing the best way to turn the story into a movie.

I'm toying around with a few ideas. The kids are a band of kid mercenaries called together when their nation needs them via secret signal--kind of like the Bat Signal. Who do they fight? Special powers, or do they just have special weapons?

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Frau Discovers You Tube

Tough day at work yesterday. Worked all morning on various squadron things then played in the wing's golf tournament all afternoon. This was my third time playing golf over the past 5 months--I'd forgotten how much I enjoy playing.

Got home around 6 o'clock, ate some supper, then took my two older boys to see "The Dark Knight." Great movie...and long. Definitely get your month's worth with that one. I remember the 1989 version of Batman and how everyone went ga-ga over Jack Nicholson's Joker. Heath Ledger's Joker was 10 times better, almost other-worldly. I also like how they didn't kill the Joker off, though the next person to play the Joker will have some very large shoes to fill.

We got home around 11 o'clock and found my wife and her two sisters sitting around the computer watching old 80's videos on You Tube. There was a half-finished bottle of wine and chick songs playing. Definitely too much estrogen in the room for yours truly, but I decided to accept the challenge and stick around. It actually was pretty fun watching the videos and watching them reminisce.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Baby We Were Born to Run

Here's a picture of my youngest boy, Benjamin, running in last week's Sea Fair 5K in downtown Seattle next to his cousin. He walked/ran the entire 5K! I'm very proud of him. His brother, William, actually ran the entire way. They had a lot of fun running it.
It warms my heart to see them living a healthy, active lifestyle. I remember the first time I went running. I had just finished off a heaping plate of hamburger steak, gravy, and mashed potatoes. I gave it about 15 minutes to settle and then strapped on my running shoes. "I'll be back in an hour or so." I took off down the street and made it to about, oh, Rick's house before the cramps kicked in. Another 200 yards and I got to see dinner again. It took me about 20 minutes to make it back home doubled over with stomach cramps.
I washed off the shoes and hit the trail the next night, giving myself a bit longer after a much lighter meal.
Thankfully, Benjamin didn't toss his lunch on the streets of Seattle.

Friday, August 1, 2008

800-Pound Gorilla's Off My Back

Finished up my airdrop requalification checkride last night. It was a typical checkride...everything that could go wrong did go wrong. From one aircraft with a fuel leak to equipment problems to dealing with was a long night. Believe me, there were several points where I questioned my sanity in going through all of this. These moments are overshadowed by the coolness of the mission, though. It's probably like someone who really, really enjoys going through childbirth.

We finished up around 0300 this morning. Now I'm signed off to fly in command on airdrop missions. I heard someone the other day put it very eloquently:

"If you like a mission to go as planned with no spur-of-the-moment changes, then airdrop is not for you." So true.