Sunday, October 28, 2007

"All ya can do... all you can do."

It's out there. Hard copies and attachments and a brief follow up note.

Now we wait.

Ordinarily, it would would be killing me. Patience comes and goes with me.

Before I go long here, to those that don't understand, keep checking back.

We should know something soon...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

On down the East Coast

Ft Knox was a bit of a let down. Not a horrible assignment, just not what I imagined. (For the record, I didn't have a single horrible assignment while I was on the road.)

The gold Repository was, well, smaller than I expected. My bet is that there's nothing in it.

I did run into a friend on site. We had been roommates in sunny Selma, AL a few years earlier. I've run into him off and on and here and there since then.

That stop was the last time, to date, that I've seen another friend from Selma, JD. He was pretty much the first friend I made in Cell Block 915.

On down to Orlando. Now, that was a great stop!

My wife and daughter came down to stay for the duration.

All three of my "Little" brothers were born in Orlando and I had a lot of memories.

Thanks to Bill U. we were comp'ed into Disneyworld for a day. (Do Not ride that damn 'Small World' ride first, if at all. That song will kill ya!)

Bill U. took a day or two off to go see his cousin get blasted into space aboard the space shuttle!

Work was interesting. Two or three things come to mind...

One morning I was out in the hangar and kept hearing a tinkling noise, like a dog collar. I finally dislodged myself from the plane far enough to look across the hangar. The noise was coming from shackles!

It seems that the place was a stop on the Con Air Express. They were marching con's off of a DC9 and in to the bathroom. (I wonder if they saw Dallas that night?)

We went to Canaveral to see the museum.

We got to work another morning to find that one of the guys had decided to "Sweep Up" the hangar. He even talked a pilot into helping out! They pulled a U21 out of the hangar and fired that muther up!!! Can you say 'counter productive'? Using a King Air to sweep the hangar, while it must have sounded like a good idea, at the time... I can only hope neither of them said, "Here, hold my beer and watch this!"

In second place among the Orlando Adventures goes to...

The lead man of the site and I were out front. OK we were out there smoking. As we talked I saw all of these HIGH dollar rides pulling up to the gate and being admitted to the ramp.

When we went back inside, the previously vacant FBO was full. It was full of really big guys. We were separated pretty quickly in the crowd and I found myself in a 'Steady Bearing Decreasing Range Situation' with the biggest guy of the bunch. I accelerated. Just as I thought I was clear...

This hand came out of the sky and landed on my shoulder. I turned and looked eye to belt buckle with this dude, then craned my neck to look up to see his face.

"Say, Bro, they got a soda machine around here?"

"Sure. Follow me."

I got a cup of coffee and he went for a soda.

When I got back to the hangar deck, the lead man and Bill U. were laughing their heads off.

"What's so funny? What did I miss?"

"Do you know who that was?"

"It was the biggest sum-bitch I've ever seen in my life but, no..."


Rookie year. Orlando Magic.

The single coolest thing about the trip...

Remember, my brothers were born in Orlando during the Apollo days. We'd watch the launches on the Today Show. When it was 'time', Daddy would gather us up and we'd head to the back yard to actually watch the rockets go up.

Remember Bill U's cousin?

The morning of the launch we woke up late! You can imagine my first word of the day. I hit the remote on the hotel TV, "Launch delayed." Sweet words!

I held my baby daughter as we watched the Today Show. When it was time, we walked out on the balcony and watched the shuttle launch.

That, boys n girls, ranks among the Top Moments of My Life! My daughter may never remember it but I will never forget it.

Monday, October 8, 2007

True Tales From The Fabled Road, Part Three

Wilmington, DE to Andrews Air Force Base Maryland.

Actually, there was a whole East Coast Tour sort of thing. Since all of the dates and sequences are out of synch these days, I’m going to combine some of the stops from Wilmington to Orlando and back.

Andrews is a pretty impressive sight with several ‘sites’.

During the two trips to Andrews-

I had to wait in Guard Shack at the main gate. Be photo’d and finger printed. (Funny/Scary thing… Second trip they didn’t photo me. The temporary ID had the photo from the first trip.)
While waiting for my escort I read an article posted on the desk. In short it said, ‘if you feel this is an unnecessary inconvenience… we have arrested X# of fleeing felons as they tried to gain admission to AAFB‘.
Saw a helluva air show,
Went aboard the 707 that served as John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One,
Went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and several other monuments,
Played a lot of darts,
Was deterred from further trips downtown by a shot-gun toting maniac,
Went to Thanksgiving Dinner at a new friends home (60 Miles South of the airport!), Went to a Birthday Dinner for Michael Myers (60 Miles North of the airport! Those guys had the worst commutes ever.)
Was blessed out by an Area Supervisor for asking a question during an All Hands meeting. (After which, All Hands agreed, if the Asshole had answered my question it would have answered the 10 questions that followed.)
Met a great group of guys.

Next stop, MCAS Cherry Point, NC

Not so impressive.

I did take a nice drive down the coast. Gorgeous country.

I ran across an abandoned trailer from an 18 wheeler with the logo of an electical supply house from my old home town in Oklahoma. I remember the Mclain boys from camping trips at Ft Cobb Lake when we were kids.

I looked for Ben Scruggs in New Bern but had no luck.

MCAS Cherry Point and NAS ‘Tinker’ were two anomalies. Each bizarre in their own right.

Cherry Point was a wing walking nightmare. Especially when you worked alone and had to pull an airplane in or out of the hangar.

When you move, BEFORE you move an airplane, you go to Maint. Control and request Wing Walkers and check out whistles. Then, you wait for them to show up.

AFTER hours, same procedure except when there weren’t enough hands on deck you had to wait for Maint. Control to call them to duty!!! Yeah, that’s gonna work. After hours, call around and find four sober Marines to come in to work!

One Friday evening, late recovery, 15 minutes waiting for Wing Walkers, One airplane safely pushed into the hangar and a LTC, Marine, Pissed Off One Each….

“Did you just tow that aircraft within ten feet of any object or aircraft?!?!”


He stomped off to tell on me.

I stowed the tow tractor and went home. I never heard another word about it.

That was the ‘Lowlight’ of the first trip.

The second trip was more unnerving.

The site was being divided in two. The former T39 Lead man was to be the new C12 Lead and the biggest idiot from the T39 site was promoted to T39 Lead. YIKES!!!

Oh, yeah Johnny Not-So-Smart was now the H.M.F.I.C. Without simply saying Johnny didn’t know his anus from Uranus let me give a quick anecdote or two…

The Compass Rose.

A Compass Rose is basically a calibrated piece of concrete. The Cardinal Points of the compass are marked off. To use it, you maneuver the airplane to align it with the marks on the concrete.

Johnny Not-So-Smart was all over the map. The Tower called, repeatedly to warn him about encroaching on an active runway!

His response to my concerns? “Oh, they do that all the time.”


The next lowlight happened during engine trim runs after an engine change.

Johnny Not-So-Smart switched the cross feed to the new engine and, left it there. When he turned to taxi out of the run-up area the plane suddenly listed, hard!

One wing tip was 6 feet in the air and the opposite was 6” off of the ground.

“M2, get me outta here!!!”

“All Aboard! Next stop, Ft Knox, KY!”

Security? Surely, you jest!!!

Off course, again. I’m deviating from the “True Tales From The Fabled Road” series.

As is want to happen, another Blogger, Bob B. at FH1100 Pilot posted and it diverted my thought process.

After reading about the ‘Incident in Podunk Pensacola’ I decided to skip ahead…

Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, OK.

Officially, I was posted there “Permanently”. In this case permanently equaled one year.

I was assigned to work with, uh, the Boys on the South End of Tinker. The ones with the big ships anchor at the entrance to their area. (They were a little touchy about their anchor after someone, NOT ME, painted it pink!)

I arrived before the airplane. The plan, I found was to house the airplane in a lean-to, to set up an office in one hangar and set up shop space in another hangar. We were to beg for space inside either hangar when maintenance was necessary.

Both hangars were full of High Priority aircraft. Heavy jets, “roped off” by Red Lines painted on the floor. (Remember the Red Lines. They will become very important later.)

Obviously, the plan was unsat! Unsatisfactory. Having me and my work partner, our tools and shop, the airplane and maintenance space scattered about haphazardly wasn’t going to work.

One of my Pilots had scoped out an unused hangar in (literally) the middle of the airfield. It was a “Hush House” formerly housing fighter jets for engine runs. That had to be a sight to see/ hear!

The hangar was HEAVILY reinforced. There were small electric doors that opened along each side, a larger door in back that opened on a long tube to duct and diffuse exhaust and noise. The office space had a large window that looked out into the hangar. There was a large control panel in the office to control all of the louvers and doors. It was the only hangar I’ve ever seen where I could open the hangar doors without leaving my comfy chair!!!

Problem was. (You knew there had to be problems.) It was smack dab in the middle of the airfield.

The Boys on the South End of Tinker issued us a cargo van (add the cargo van to the red lines.) and a hand held radio. We could not drive our personal vehicles to the hangar.

We could have parked the van at Base Op’s on the North End but after the Painting Pink of the Large Ships Anchor, the Boys on the South End were leery. Parking At Op’s would have saved a lot of trouble.

As it worked out we parked on the South End. We drove to the entrance to the secured area (more Red Lines outside the hangars), cleared security, drove to the edge of the ramp (the outer perimeter of the Red Lines) and called Ground Control on the handheld and drove to the hangar as per their instructions.

To leave…
Call Security from our office.
Get in the van and radio Ground for permission to proceed.
Drive to the Red Line (IN A CARGO VAN).
Radio Ground and declare ourselves clear.
Wait for Security to clear us into the secure area.
Drive around the hangar and clear security outbound of the secure area (IN A CARGO VAN).

Feeling a pain in the ass here?

Soon, patterns emerged.

Security would pull up, drivers window to drivers window, glance at badges and wave us through (IN A CARGO VAN).

Security would wave us in from afar. (IN A CARGO VAN!)

We would get to the Red Line and Security would be a No-Show. We’d radio Ground for an assist and would be told something like, “They say they are on their way.”

Often we could see the Security truck on the ramp. Usually, under a shady lean-to. We got calloused and began breaching the Red Line. As we drove past the lean-to we would see the guard napping!!! Not just once or occasionally but often!

My time at that Permanent Duty Station was coming to a close. Most of you know that I ten days between the phone call dispatching me to Honduras and arriving in Honduras.

One Sunday night I recovered the airplane and followed the steps to head home.

At the Red Line… Security was a No Show. Ground couldn’t help. After a year of this, I thought nothing of crossing the Red Line.

I drove across the ramp, around the hangar and to the manned checkpoint to get through the fence. I pulled up, the gate opened and a little S.P., USAF, Female, One Each Armed approached the drivers window.

“Did you just cross the Red Line?”


“Wait here.” With that she went back into the guard shack. The gate closed and she returned with reinforcements.

Now, with a face full of automatic weapons, I decided to cooperate.

“Sir! Shut off the engine, put it in park and slowly exit the vehicle with your hands up!!!”

It wasn’t the weapons that made me nervous. It was the NERVOUS pimply face kids wielding them that made me nervous.

I wondered, briefly, if the weapons were actually loaded but decide that I didn’t really want to know.

By now the lights and sirens were approaching.

Soon after, I had a large, loud mouthed illiterate A.P., USAF, NCO, Asshole, One Each Armed getting in my face.

I didn’t like that.

[A quick aside here. As a rule, I ‘Sir’ Enlisted Folks and ‘First Name’ officers. I ‘Sir’ Warrant Officers but that’s because you’re not supposed to. But, that’s just me…]

This BackwardsAssedIlitterate, I ‘Last Named’ as snidely as possible.

A shouting match ensued.

He wanted to lecture me about Red Lines.

I informed him that I had been traversing that Red Line unchallenged for an entire year IN A CARGO VAN THAT NOT ONE A.P. ONE EACH EVER LOOKED INSIDE BECAUSE THEY WERE SLEEPING IN THE SECURITY TRUCK UNDER THE SHADY LEAN-TO!!!!!!!


I’ll give the Cracker this much, he stood up for his people. I can only hope he ripped them later.

I lost the match. It’s fair to say that I was out manned and out gunned. Oh, and hand cuffed for the first and so far only time in my life.

I had to call the Officer of the Day to come get me. I very nearly would rather gone on to jail than ask that particular idiot for help… When he arrived he out ranked slash smooth talked SGT Cracker and got me sprung.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

True Tales From The Fabled Road

Part Two

The departure from Athens was much less exciting.
Of course, by then I was an old hand at this.
Yeah, sure.
I can’t even convince myself of that all these years later.

The first leg, Athens to Frankfurt, I met a woman from Athens.
During our chat she told me about attempts to build a subway line
in Athens to relieve the traffic congestion.
Trouble was, every shovel full of dirt revealed more artifacts and
that caused delay after delay.
It seems the project was more of and archeological dig than a
Public Works project.

The arrival in Frankfurt lacked the drama and trauma of the first visit.
We entered through a jet way instead of deplaning on the ramp.
There were plenty of machine gun toting police inside but no gauntlet.
No time for a side trip to Dr Mueller’s. (If you have to ask, don’t.)

Frankfurt to New York.
I sat next to a silent guy. He didn’t say a word until we were nearly home. The Flight Attendant came around and he ordered, “Two Viskey’s.”
Then he asked for two more and put them on my tray table. (?)
We began to try to talk. He spoke very little English and as it happens I speak no Russian.
He was on his way to NYC. He had a subway map and that was it.
No one was to be waiting for him at the airport. He had some destination.
He showed me on the map where it was and how he would get there.
He showed me pictures of his wife and kids ‘back home’.
Another Soul in pursuit of the American Dream.
I often wonder what ever became of him.

Back in CONUS (Continental United States) it was dark, raining and cold.
Bags in hand I made my way to the rental car counter.
The rental counter was always like roulette. You just never knew what you’d land on.
This time I drew a Subaru Outback Station Wagon, Forrest Green. Yee Haw.

‘Where’s the light switch? Where’s the windshield wiper control? What’s that noise? Oh, rear windshield wiper. How did I turn that on? Where am I? Where am I going?’

I just started driving, glancing at a map without a real point of reference for my location or destination. I recall being ‘pretty sure’ of my direction.

The rain diminished and increased as the miles clicked by. Trouble was, I didn’t know how to adjust the wipers! Each attempt to match the tempo of the wipers to the rainfall resulted in some other system being activated. I finally gave up and just adjusted speed to visibility. That worked until the rain stopped. I had no idea how I had activated the rear wiper in the first place and less idea how to make it stop.

I made it to the Wilmington area but without a local map or a hotel reservation. I tried several times to call the guy on station. Answering machines picked up at the hangar and at his home. I was beginning to see a pattern here.

I pulled into a motel and secured a room. The girl at the front desk gave me directions to the room. I was already two steps ahead. I had a room AND directions to get there.

Back in the Subaru, I rounded the corner of the building and what did I see?

Yup, the airport. The RIGHT airport. Turned out, I could see the hangar from my room.

Wilmington was OK.

The guy on station was interesting, an active member of the “Society for Creative Anachronism”. Seems to me he was also studying. He was already on his way off of the hangar deck before he racked up the scars to show for his time there.

There was a neat bar down from the motel. Decked out in a WWII motif. Sand bags and artifacts/ memorabilia everywhere.

One night we went to the local Holiday Inn for karaoke. And, NO, I did not. I can still proudly say that I have never participated in karaoke (in any English speaking country).
There was one guy that was a real ‘stand-out’. Bad rug and all, belting out “Old Time Rock and Roll”.

Next stop, Andrews AFB Maryland, Thanks Giving, JFK’s Air Force One and Michael Myers. Until then, “… gimme that old time rock and roll, yeah!”

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

True Stories From The Fabled Road

Part One.

After a year at NAS Dallas I applied for and was tapped out as a "Rover".

'Red Rover, Red Rover, Come on over...'

'Over' to where? That varied by the moment. Sometimes, I would learn, plans would change while I was en route and the people at my destination would know before I got there that plans had changed.

It all started simply enough. My then soon to be new boss M2 told me repeatedly, "David, I'll keep ya in the States until you get used to living out of a suitcase. Then, if I need ya, I'll send ya overseas."

Fair Enough. I was anxious to go OCONUS (Outside Continental U.S.) but was ready to pay the dues.

One week before I was to leave Dallas M2 called, "David, I hate to do this but would you mind going to Athens Greece for a week?"

"You know me Boss, team player and all..."

Away I went.

I had never been outside the borders of the USA. Mexican border towns don't count.

The first leg was DFW to Frankfurt Germany.

We landed and deplaned to a phalanx of Police and Soldiers complete with an APC aiming a machine gun towards air stair.

"Welcome OCONUS David."

A layover in a big strange airport with moon mat flooring. (Moon mat is the stuff you see in the galley area of heavy jets.)

On to Athens. I followed the herd into the airport. No hang-ups in Immigration or Customs and nobody I knew waiting on the other side.

I learned right then and there what the phrase, "It's all Greek to me!" means.

I lingered in the terminal, looking for anyone looking for someone. Nobody in sight.

Somewhere I changed Dollars for Drachma and found a pay phone. I didn't know if the damn thing was ringing or busy! I tried the hangar and home numbers for the guy on station without any answer.

I began to get a little antsy. I didn't have a hotel name or rental car reservation and my point of contact was pointless.

'What are ya gonna do now smart guy?'

"David?", my point of contact...

On to the Hotel Brazil. A small place in Glyfada. It was an apartment hotel without any features like a restaurant or bar.

They did have a fridge in the lobby where we drank Amstel and got acquainted. I can't recall the guy on stations name but I met R2 that night and he was staying in the Brazil as well.

My rental car was waiting out front the next morning. I followed R2 through the tangled streets of Athens to the hangar. Every stop light was like the start of a hare scramble. Motorcycles of every ilk worked their way to the front, then launched when the light changed as if the next stop light was the finish line.

We had a lot of work. The unwritten job description for Rovers reads, in part, "Ye shall do the dirty work that the guys on station don't want to do." So, I found myself sitting in the dirt floor of the hangar flow checking fuel nozzles.

I wont get too detailed about a mundane task such as flow checking fuel nozzles. Suffice to say, it causes a 'fuel fog'. Atomized jet fuel hangs in the air and you stink like diesel for a few showers to come.

As I sat in that stinking fog of volatile fumes, up walks a Greek Airman, smoking a cigarette, "How are you doing?"

'Welcome OCONUS.'

At night, I explored the area around the hotel on foot. I found a great bar. More Amstel with Expats from a number of English speaking countries. We threw a lot of darts, drank lots of beer and Tequila.

The funny thing was, I was wearing cowboy boots, Levis without tags, unmarked tee shirts and speaking English (it was all I knew at the time) yet when asked where I was from, the asker was always surprised to hear, "Texas.".

I heard, "I thought you were British." "I thought you were French." "I thought you were German." "I thought you were Russian." (Russian? French?!!!) Oh, well.

That Saturday I set off solo to see Poseidon's Temple. That's a mini post all it's own. Driving along that coast highway. The mountains. The sea. Then, to round the bend and see the ruins in the distance... all these years later, it still makes me take a breath. Just to think of all of the sailors that have approached, seen it in the distance and said, "I'm almost home.".

The next day, R2, Mrs R2 and I went to the Acropolis. (They really need an elevator!)

The one week stretched into two and we tried to keep it rolling but M2 was anxious to get me back across the pond.


Late Summer in Greece back to early Fall in Wilmington, Delaware.

Such is the life of a Rover Dog.

I may have posted this before. It's now the first in a series of road tales that I plan to continue for a while.

A Post With No Title...

This is the part where Bloggers often apologize for the (self) perceived sin on "Not Posting".

There will be none of that here, not today.

Saturday morning, I drafted yet another post that got dumped into the Draft Bin.

I woke up that morning with big doings in my head. We had a Family Day planned. Beers and OU Football, etc.

After "The Incident In Colorado"... Well, my mood went to hell.

It wasn't just my mood either. There was a mob chanting, "Get a rope! Lynch Stoops! Hang Him!"

They were eventually subdued with more liquor and German Chocolate Cake.

The bright spot was Echo November running around shouting, "Boomer Sooner!" and "Make Steaks". He reminds us all that there is always 'next week'.

So, here I am. Into 'next week'. Pimping myself out, looking for work as a writer and or photographer. I've got the resume and cover letters out there. Anxiously awaiting the first rejection letter. I have a frame all ready for it and a bulletin board ready for the ones that are sure to follow.

Negative? Pessimistic? Nay, nay, nay! Not so. Realistic.

If the first shot comes back with an acceptance, it will, no doubt, have a line that reads, "David! Congratulations! You've been accepted. Now, if you can recruit five more people who can recruit five more people each who can recruit..."

You get the idea.

I don't say that with simple cynicism. Oh, no.

I've been down that road or one like it.

In a world now far away, a friend I'd known most of my short life invited me to a 'business meeting'. He admonished me to, 'dress nice'.

I did. We went.

We went to a home on the East side of town where a couple greeted us cordially and offered Hors d'oeurev's. This wasn't the sort of 'Business Meeting' I'd imagined but there was free food.

Anybody guessed it yet? They were 'Soap Salesmen' of the legendary 'Soap Sales Pyramid'.

Thanks Again Rick!!!

Years later, I wound up in a B2B cold calling scam for a while. For this post, the definition of 'B2B' is, Bonehead2BrighterPeopleWithRealJobs.

And, later still, what I call, "The Rainbow Road To Ruin".

No, no, no not the colorful, celestial phenom in the sky.

The vacuum cleaner!

Really neat machine. I wouldn't mind having one. But, have you ever met anyone that bought one? Me either. That pretty much sums up my vacuum cleaner sales experience.

I did learn a lot from those experiences. Mostly, if it looks like a duck... well, duck it.