Sunday, August 23, 2009


In case you didn't know, I have a grandson. He's 4 now, but at a slightly earlier age he was delighted by squirrels.

For a youngster learning to talk, the "squ" in "squirrel" was hard for him to wrap his tongue and mouth around, so the word came out "Ski Roll."

Thus, in this family every time a squirell is spotted we say, "Look! A Ski Roll!"

Here's a shot taken by his mom Christina of grandson in the tub. A picture like this is bound to embarrass the tar out of him when he gets bigger. But for now, it's cute.

Well, a blog-(and excellent author)-friend of mine Candace put me on to a web site called "Squirrelizer." It allows you to insert a picture of a ground squirrel into any photograph that has a URL address.

Here's the result, using the picture above:

I'm hoping this will further delight my grandson.

I'll let you know.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A funny story

As some of you readers know, I used to fly F-4 Phantoms off the Forrestal. I thought this story was hilarious, but Carol said, "Well, maybe it's funny to a pilot."

See what you think.

also reported as

Below is an article written by Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated. He details his experiences when given the opportunity to fly in an F-14 Tomcat. If you aren't laughing out loud by the time you get to 'Milk Duds,' your sense of humor is seriously broken.

'Now this message is for America's most famous athletes:

Someday you may be invited to fly in the back-seat of one of your country's most powerful fighter jets. Many of you already have. John Elway, John Stockton, Tiger Woods, to name a few. If you get this opportunity, let me urge you, with the greatest sincerity...

Move to Guam.
Change your name.
Fake your own death!
Whatever you do, Do Not Go!!!

I know. The U.S. Navy invited me to try it. I was thrilled. I was pumped. I was toast! I should've known when they told me my pilot would be Chip (Biff) King of Fighter Squadron 213 at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.

Whatever you're thinking a Top Gun named Chip (Biff) King looks like, triple it. He's about six-foot, tan, ice-blue eyes, wavy surfer hair, finger-crippling handshake -- the kind of man who wrestles dyspeptic alligators in his leisure time.

If you see this man, run the other way, Fast.

Biff King was born to fly. His father, Jack King, was for years the voice of NASA missions. ('T-minus 15 seconds and counting' Remember?) Chip would charge neighborhood kids a quarter each to hear his dad. Jack would wake up from naps surrounded by nine-year-olds waiting for him to say, 'We have liftoff'.

Biff was to fly me in an F-14D Tomcat, a ridiculously powerful $60 million weapon with nearly as much thrust as weight, not unlike Colin Montgomerie. I was worried about getting airsick, so the night before the flight I asked Biff if there was something I should eat the next morning.

'Bananas,' he said.

'For the potassium?' I asked.

'No,' Biff said, 'because they taste about the same coming up as they do going down.'

The next morning, out on the tarmac, I had on my flight suit with my name sewn over the left breast.

(No call sign -- like Crash or Sticky or Leadfoot. But, still, very cool.) I carried my helmet in the crook of my arm, as Biff had instructed. If ever in my life I had a chance to nail Nicole Kidman, this was it.

A fighter pilot named Psycho gave me a safety briefing and then fastened me into my ejection seat, which, when employed, would 'egress' me out of the plane at such a velocity that I would be immediately knocked unconscious.

Just as I was thinking about aborting the flight, the canopy closed over me, and Biff gave the ground crew a thumbs-up. In minutes we were firing nose up at 600 mph. We leveled out and then canopy-rolled over another F-14.

Those 20 minutes were the rush of my life. Unfortunately, the ride lasted 80. It was like being on the roller coaster at Six Flags Over Hell. Only without rails. We did barrel rolls, snap rolls, loops, yanks and banks. We dived, rose and dived again, sometimes with a vertical velocity of 10,000 feet per minute. We chased another F-14, and it chased us.

We broke the speed of sound. Sea was sky and sky was sea. Flying at 200 feet we did 90-degree turns at 550 mph, creating a G force of 6.5, which is to say I felt as if 6.5 times my body weight was smashing against me, thereby approximating life as Mrs. Colin Montgomerie.

And I egressed the bananas.

And I egressed the pizza from the night before.

And the lunch before that.

I egressed a box of Milk Duds from the sixth grade.

I made Linda Blair look polite. Because of the G's, I was egressing stuff that never thought would be egressed.

I went through not one airsick bag, but two.

Biff said I passed out. Twice. I was coated in sweat. At one point, as we were coming in upside down in a banked curve on a mock bombing target and the G's were flattening me like a tortilla and I was in and out of consciousness, I realized I was the first person in history to throw down.

I used to know 'cool'. Cool was Elway throwing a touchdown pass, or Norman making a five-iron bite. But now I really know 'cool'. Cool is guys like Biff, men with cast-iron stomachs and freon nerves. I wouldn't go up there again for Derek Jeter's black book, but I'm glad Biff does every day, and for less a year than a rookie reliever makes in a home stand.

A week later, when the spins finally stopped, Biff called. He said he and the fighters had the perfect call sign for me. Said he'd send it on a patch for my flight suit.

'What is it?' I asked.

'Two Bags.'

Friday, August 14, 2009

As long as I’m breaking my own rules . . .

Jack K got me going on this topic. It’s HIS fault. Blame him.

One of my blog rules is that I won’t post about certain topics. Like religion. Oh, I have strong ideas about the subject, and very strong personal beliefs.

But who cares, right? Am I going to convince anyone by preaching what I believe? Probably not.

Some will agree, and some won’t. The ones who disagree will be the ones most likely to comment. Why? Because they’ll want to argue their own, differing beliefs. They are JUST as convinced they’re right as I’m convinced I am.

Will either one of us persuade the other to change? HA! Do pigs fly? (No, let’s not argue that one either.)

Another hot topic I try to leave alone is politics. Same reason as religion (see above).

Last post, I quoted President Reagan’s, “Never say never.” And then I said never. Broke my own rule.

So in this post I’m going to break another rule and venture into one aspect of politics I believe in; and I’m sure I won’t convince ANYONE to change his or her own mind on the subject.

What got me going on this? Like I said, Jack K did. In a comment on my last post he said at the end, “Wouldn't be interesting in the next election if every, and I mean EVERY incumbent were voted out? Hmmmm.”

My response is that it would not only be interesting, it would happen EVERY election if we just had . . . are you ready for it? . . . TERM LIMITS!

Most people think term limits are a short-sighted attempt to get rid of the “bad” politicians. They quickly retort, “Oh, but then we’d lose the good ones as well as the bad. That wouldn’t help.”

However, a longer look at the concept will show you that term limits for all elected officials would have a huge, profound effect on much of what ails our representative system. It would remove the seniority system for committee appointments and committee chair assignments. The relationships developed over multiple terms between elected officials and lobbyists, and special interest groups, and well-heeled constituents, just wouldn’t develop. Or they’d have to develop very quickly and they wouldn’t last very long.

Our politicians could, for once, be honest with us! Why? Term limits would remove the one key factor that motivates most officials to play both sides of the street, to spin everything to try to please everyone. That key motivating factor is the desire to get re-elected! They wouldn’t do ANYTHING just to get more votes. They might vote a certain way to get a payoff, although that could land them in jail, but they might . . . just MIGHT . . . vote a certain way because they believe in it, or because they are convinced it’s best for the people they represent, or for the country.

Wouldn’t THAT be refreshing!

Where in our constitution are the guidelines for the power structure that has developed within the legislature? How do one or two senators or representatives gain the power to control blocks of votes? Is that what our founding fathers envisioned?

Ooooo. I sound like I’m getting passionate here, don’t I?

Not a very “romantic” rambling, eh?

That’s the trouble with breaking rules—once you start, it’s hard to stop.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

One more health care post

Since my last post stimulated comments and a few emails from folks I'd not heard from before, as well as from my daughter and several of my blog friends, I'm going to take one more brief foray into the topic.

(Well, that's my plan NOW. Who knows HOW many additional forays I might take? I often repeat the quote attributed to President Reagan, "Never say never." It's corollary has to be -- although I just made this up -- "Never say always.")

(What? You don't know what a corollary is? Well, it's like a coronary, but not as serious.)

Anyhoo, speaking of coronaries, back to health care!

It's really tough to filter through all the arguments for and against government involvement in our health care system industry MESS ( . . . pick your own descriptive noun, or just leave it blank -- works either way). Which ones are real, and which ones are hype? Is it 47 million uninsured Americans, or 57 million (the number seems to go up weekly). Are the doctors at fault, or maybe the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, the malpractice lawyers, etc., etc.

To me, most of the hype and horror stories we hear are overblown. The issue really boils down in most cases to access versus cost. To hammer access ("Everyone should have access to quality health care!") while ignoring cost is not just stupid, it's immoral. But likewise to hammer (and try to artificially, through legislation and controls, limit) costs while ignoring access will result in the situations found in other countries with months-long waits to see a specialist or have needed testing done.

How do we achieve the balance needed between access and cost?

I don't know.

But I have little faith in our government to achieve it, whether in typical partisan division or through a coalition of the parties. Politics, and favors, and hidden agenda of all kinds are just too engrained in our elected representatives in D.C. to allow, I fear, the kind of well thought-out policies and programs it will take. (BTW, I'm and old-schooler and using "agenda" as a plural of "agendum," although I know that usage has fallen out of favor).

And unfortunately, our president's hard pushing for quick action may further doom any slight chance that achieving such balance may have had.

So I fear that we may indeed never have a government-instituted health care plan that provides wide access at a reasonable (affordable!) cost.

There. I broke my own rule. I said (wrote) "never." Shame on me.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Who, exactly, are those uninsured Americans?

I have no idea if this is accurate or not. So why am I posting it?

I'm a firm believer in the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" We've been hearing for years how our health care system is "broke" (that's as in "broken," not out of money).

What proof is offered? Usually the statistic that tens of millions of people are uninsured and thus can't afford needed treatments and therapies and medications. And in a country as rich as America, that's a travesty.

I never gave much thought to that argument, accepting both premises: 1) that all those peole didn't have coverage because they couldn't afford it, and 2) that this fact is a travesty.

Then I saw this cartoon, and began to wonder . . .

Is this just some right-wing fringe hype? Or is it close to the truth? If the latter, then . . . Gee!

Of course, it doesn't matter. It looks like we're going to get a government health plan of some ilk, regardless.

Will that be a bad thing? My gut tells me, probably. But the pendulum swings both ways, in most cases. We'll see.

Well, DUH!

Headline in this morning's financial news:

Obama officials: Taxes may rise to pay health care

Obama officials say middle class may face tax hike to reduce deficit, pay for health care

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two of President Barack Obama's economic heavyweights said middle-class taxes might have to go up to pare budget deficits or to pay for the proposed overhaul of the nation's health care system.

My comment: ". . . might have to go up?" Who do they think they're kidding?