Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

30 November 2007

Accidents Will Happen


It was a small accident and no, thankfully not in the aircraft but in my car. The other morning I was on my way up to the airport, which is one hour north of my house by car, to get the ship and fly it to a maintenance base which, ironically enough is right back here in Pensacola, about twenty minutes by air. I had left plenty early, and there was no real rush.

Avalon Boulevard runs north from I-10 and dead-ends into Highway 90 just west of the town of Milton, Florida. Avalon is a highly-trafficked road, and there are two right turn lanes at that intersection. From both you can make a right-on-red. I was in the right-most lane, number two at the light, stopped behind a Ford Explorer SUV in front of me. I saw his brake lights go off and the truck began to move out. Assuming he was taking off, I turned my attention to the oncoming traffic from the left, and released my brake to move up into the Explorer’s spot. …Only the driver of the Explorer had decided that there really wasn’t room and stopped. As did my Jeep when I ran into the back of him.

We pulled over onto the grass by the side of the road to assess the damage: None at all to my car and a small bruise to the Explorer’s plastic rear bumper cover. I apologized right away, admitted that it was my fault and offered to pay for any repairs if he wanted to do it that way. He said he’d rather file a police report and report it to his insurance company. I said that was fine; that’s why we have insurance.

We chatted while we waited for the police. The other driver, let’s call him “Howard,” seemed like a nice, understanding kind of guy – older than me, maybe early sixties. And he looked like he was still in the military or recently retired from it by his brown shirt/brown pants/black shoes (a fashion faux pas in some civilian circles), however I couldn’t see any emblems under his windbreaker.

I admitted that should have been more attentive, but he admitted that he started to go but decided that there really wasn’t room when he tried to go. Hey, accidents happen. We talked a bit about our jobs. That was when he mentioned what a rush he was in to get to a meeting at a college nearby where he was to give a presentation.


A state trooper arrived after about thirty long minutes. She walked up and stood at the very rear of the Explorer (which was much closer to the pavement than my car), giving it a quick glance. She could clearly see that there was no immediately-apparent major damage to either vehicle. I know that she had to be thinking, “Now, what...?” No-nonsense almost to the point of being brusque, she fired off some quick questions.

Trooper: “Good morning, guys. What happened?”
Me (Pointing to my car): I hit..." (pointing to his car) "...him”
Trooper: “Anybody hurt?”
Me/Howard: “No.”
Trooper (to me): “You got insurance?”
Me: “Yep.”
Trooper (to Howard): “You got insurance?”
Howard (indignantly): “Of course!”
Trooper: “Okay. Any damage?”

At that point, Howard kind of…well, exploded.

Howard: “Of course there’s damage! Look at that!”

The trooper glanced down and saw the bruise. I thought I could actually hear her sigh. Her cell phone rang. She looked down at the Caller-ID and did not answer but suddenly seemed very eager to dispose of us. “Okay,” she says. “Look, in cases like this you guys will file a driver-to-driver report and we can get you on your way quickly.” She then retreated to her car and came back with said form. Taking our licenses and insurance cards, she filled it out.

She handed us each a copy of the form and advised us to fill out the rest and send it to Tallahassee, along with notifying our respective insurance companies.

“Does this form say who is at fault?” Howard asked pointedly.

“No sir,” the trooper replied. “In cases like this where the damage is under $500, we do not determine fault.”

At that point, the situation turned bizarre. I won’t recount the entire “he said/she said,” but it consisted of Howard arguing at length with the trooper that the damage to his truck was waaaay more than $500, probably more like $1,500…maybe more! He contended that she should designate yours truly as being at fault. She repeatedly told him that she could not do that. Back and forth, they went at it long past the point that I would have put a stop to it if I was her. Howard’s voice was shaky, which indicated to me that he was highly upset about the whole deal, something he’d sort of masked up to the time the trooper got there.

To her credit, the trooper maintained her composure and a professional demeanor. I have had my troubles with policemen over the years, but this trooper was as good as they get. She didn’t talk down to him, and she was unfailingly polite. She was undoubtedly good with a billyclub too, and I thought Howard was about to find out.

Howard’s stated concern was that if we both just reported it to our insurance companies, his rates might go up since Florida is a no-fault state. (He should have taken me up on my offer to pay for the damages without going through our insurance companies, but that was off the table as soon as he called the cops.)

And I think…I’m not entirely sure, but I got the impression that ol’ Howard wanted me to have some personal consequences for hitting him. I mean, I was contrite, but maybe I wasn’t contrite enough. Admittedly, his truck was pristine. I thought it was brand-new, but it turned out to be a 2001 model with 130,000 miles. He’d obviously taken very good care of it. I know how people are about their vehicles, and I felt badly for him. Howard evidently didn’t want to just turn the event over to our insurance companies and let that be that. I think he wanted the trooper to give me a ticket for…something. As luck (mine) would have it, the trooper wasn’t buying it.

I should have realized sooner that Howard was more upset than he was letting on. He made several cell phone calls to family, business associates and his attorney while we waited for the police. In each one, he opened the conversation by saying, “I’ve been in an automobile accident.” Not, “…a little automobile accident,” and not even, “I had a small fender-bender while driving to work.” Each time, he had to explain that no, it was not serious and no, nobody was hurt. And each time, I wondered why he let the party on the other end assume the worst right off the bat?


“Well you’re not being very helpful!” Howard finally snorted in a very derisive tone. The trooper glanced over at me and rolled her eyes – the first little crack in her veneer. I stifled a chuckle. “Sir,” she addressing him, “I am being as helpful as I possibly can be. I’ve told you what I can and cannot do. I’ve filled out this form for you. I’ve told you what you need to do next. I cannot do any more than that. Good day!”

And with that, she turned on a heel and strode to her car. Remember the opening credits of the old t.v. show, “Magnum P.I.” where Tom Selleck is in the Ferrari on the side of the road, and he punches it and roars out onto the pavement and away from the camera with two giant rooster tails of grass and dirt spewing from the rear wheels? That is how the trooper left the scene of our “accident.”

I apologized again to Howard and gently suggested he not let this ruin his day (too late for that!). He shook my hand, got in his formerly-pristine Ford Explorer with the newly bruised bumper and disappeared down the road.


I did go up to the airport, get the ship and did fly it back here to Pensacola. After taking care of some business with the mechanics, I called a friend to give me a ride back to my house (as my car was still up at the other airport). We pulled into my driveway around 9:30. I was going to go inside and call my insurance company to report the accident. Before I could even get out of the car, a white SUV with “PROGRESSIVE” emblazoned in big letters on the side pulled up behind me. They have these roaming claims specialists.

“I was just about to call you,” I said.

“Oh, the other driver’s insurance company already called it in to us,” the guy said, handing me his card and introducing himself. “And since I was in the neighborhood, I figured I’d drop by. Was anybody hurt?”

“Umm, no. In fact, there was absolutely no damage to my car. It was pretty minor.”

“Great! Glad to hear that. Well is there anything I can do? Do you need anything?”

“Ahh, not really. Should I still call this in?”

“Nah, we’ll take it from here. We’ll get him fixed up right away,” he said. “If you need anything, my number's on the card, just give me a call and let me know.”

I was, like, whaaaaat?

Frankly, I was blown-away by this level of customer service. The proof of the pudding will be if they actually do take care of the Howard’s truck, and if my rates don’t either go up ridiculously or if I don’t get summarily cancelled. My rates are very low to begin with, so I’m not really worried about an increase – unless they quadruple or something. But so far, I’m very happy that I chose Progressive Insurance. And to think that I just did an online search to see who was the cheapest and picked them.

So...big, long story about a tiny, little accident. And before you say it, yes, I'm happy my little accident occurred before picking up the ship and not after. That would have ruined my day for sure.

22 November 2007

Thanksgiving Post

I’ve been fortunate throughout my life to have worked for some really great people and companies. I spent thirteen happy years at Petroleum Helicopters, flying in support of the oil industry. After that I worked for nearly five years at the FH1100 factory, where I got to know and became good friends with the owner, Georges Van Nevel. It was through that job that I met Bill Pullum. The opportunity to go fly an FH1100 in Honduras for him was one of those “offers you can’t refuse.” And although the experience ultimately turned sour, it was made palatable by the fact that Bill and his wife Martha are two of the best people in the world, as I’ve written before. My new boss is just as awesome, and I keep having to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming about this situation I’ve fallen into, which is simply unreal.

If you have to work for a living, then you should always be able to work for people such as these, people you like and respect. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll always be someone who’ll work for someone else – that I’ll never be really wealthy. Whatever it is that these guys have – the drive, determination or just raw talent to be extremely successful, I don’t have.

Or maybe I don’t want it. And that’s cool. I’m good at what I do, which is flying these crazy contraptions. The last three guys I’ve worked for are self-made men, for sure. But they never take a day off. They’re always either working or thinking about work. They’re typical “Type A” personalities who never stop. Me, I like to stop. I like to be able to turn it off sometimes and not think about work. For me, my wealth is measured not in dollars, but other, less-tangible things.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Unspoiled by crass commercialism, its purity remains. It’s simply a day on which we can sit back and reflect on all of the blessings in our lives. And blessings, I have many! In the words of baseball great Lou Gehrig, today-ay-ay, I consider myself-elf-elf, the luckiest man-an-an on the face of this earth-earth-earth. And that’s no joke.

I wish for you that same good fortune I’ve enjoyed. I wish that today you would take a moment to look at your own life and see and appreciate all the good things – never mind the bad! I wish for you a (belated) happy Thanksgiving.

18 November 2007

Becoming A Helicopter Pilot

For some reason, I've gotten a lot of emails lately from people who want to be helicopter pilots. I understand that it must seem like the bestest job a person could have. Many of these people are already adults and already established in careers. Some of them already have wives and kids. They ask for my advice (as if I know anything) and encouragment. I try to answer them as honestly as I can. Sometimes my responses are not all that encouraging.

You know that I love to fly. And getting paid to do it is awesome. I'm lucky in that regard. But that awesome-ness comes at a price. I try to be upbeat and positive about a career in aviation, but I have to be honest. Flying for a living is not for everyone. It might look cool, but it's not that easy. Not at all.

There are a number of helicopter internet forums/discussion groups. These are usually populated by enthusiasts who are already in the business. Often, the general philosophy and attitude of the participants is to only say good things about flying and downplay the bad. "Newbies" often come to the groups with questions about becoming a professional helicopter pilot. Generally they are told that: a) They'll love it; b) It's the best thing they'll ever do; c) Their family will support them fully; and d) If they do not do it they'll regret it for the rest of their lives.

Uhh, yeah. That's not exactly true. I mean, it leaves a lot out. There's more to it than that.

In the first place, nothing is guaranteed in life, especially not in aviation. Just because you plunk your money down at a flight "school," it is not assured that you'll come out the other end as a professional pilot. Learning this craft is an incredible undertaking like you cannot imagine. You'll learn about surprising things you never thought could be relevant to flying. The bookwork is daunting. Not only that, your performance will be constantly evaluated and graded. It's not like we all have to be Chuck Yeager, but the truth is that not everyone has the aptitude to become a pilot. A flight school's slogan might be, "Everyone can fly!" but it's just not true. Sorry. You might be one of those who just isn't suited to be a pilot, as hard as that might be to believe. You'll counter, "Of course I can learn!" Yeah, maybe. (Ask your prospective school about their dropout rate. I'm sure each one of those dropouts swore up and down that it would not happen to him/her either.)

A commenteer on one of the internet message boards talked recently about how immersed in aviation he's become as he pursues his licenses (we actually call them "ratings"). It's consumed him. He has a hard time talking with his friends now, because they do not understand his aviation-talk and can't relate to it anyway. Flying is like that. If you do it right, it takes over your life, influencing and coloring and dominating every aspect of it. Your family and friends will think you've gone nuts. (Hint: Non-aviators get bored REALLY QUICKLY of technical flying talk.)

Also, it is hugely expensive. Most aspiring pilots will end up spending over $70,000 before they have the ratings and experience necessary to get that first job. Flight "schools" are not like colleges. They're just businesses. There are no scholarships and few low-interest student loans. However, there are loans (e.g. "Sallie Mae") available to people who attend flight schools that meet certain qualifications. Not all "schools" do.

By the way, you don't go directly from getting your licenses to having a high-paying job. Yoko oh no! You might need only 200 hours or so to get all of your ratings, but most commercial operators want pilots to have a minimum of around 1,000 hours of command time before being hired. And so you're faced with a classic "Catch-22." You need experience to get a job; but how can you get experience without a job? Hmm.

The usual way for new pilots to build time is to become flight instructors. I know it sounds odd: the newest of the new teaching those who know nothing. But that's aviation for you - it's how it's always been. Trouble is, the pay for flight instructors is terrible. Flight schools know that instructing is not a career goal in itself. They know that their instructors will bolt out the door at the very first opportunity without so much as a two-hour notice. So why should they pay you more? They won't. But remember those big loans you took out to finance your training? The bank is going to want you to pay those back some day. Probably soon. So plan on a lot of years of eating tuna fish and Ramen noodles, even after you hit the "big time."

It is not easy for new pilots to break-in to this business. It's a long, tough road. And like I said, there are no guarantees. Not only that, there are no short-cuts. Nor are there any reliable, repeatable ways of going about it (other than the be-a-flight-instructor route). Everyone's story and route is different. What worked for one may not work for another.

The other variable is that the helicopter industry is volatile. Nobody knows that it will be like in five or ten years. The job market may remain healthy, and the demand for pilots high, as it is now. But things can change. If the military suddenly burped out 100 or 200 pilots, it would make a huge difference for the low-time, civilian-trained pilots vying for the same jobs.

For those who have flying in their blood, there is usually no question about it. They *must* pursue this field. Like me. I've known since birth...never doubted for one second that I would be a pilot. And it's not that I couldn't have done other things, I just never wanted to. I didn't worry about the money - where it would come from or how much I would make. Luckily, I didn't have to go into debt to finance my flight training. But I really didn't start making decent money until I'd been in this field for nearly eighteen years, when we got our first union contract. (And by the way, what I called "decent," my family still called "pathetic." But that's another story.)

Some of my emails are from people who try to justify it financially. They ask how long it will take, and if they'll be able to pay their loans back, and how much they're likely to make once they get that first real job? I tell them that I do not know. Nobody does. But I cannot recommend a career in aviation for those who approach it from a purely dollars and cents standpoint. For them, I seriously doubt that it would really be worth it in the long run. Flying for a living often involves so much bullshit that every now and then even us experienced old-timers will question whether it would be better do to something else with our lives.

Flying for a living is great, no doubt about it. It is a wonderful job, rewarding in many ways. But it takes an enormous amount of dedication, compromise, commitment and sacrifice. And it's not for everyone. If I were smart, I would've aimed to become an airline pilot and not messed around with these wacky helicopters. It's too late for me now, and fortunately I'm in a pretty good place at the moment. But would I do it all over again? It's a question I ask myself frequently. To be honest, I don't think I would.

Hindsight is great, isn't it?

For the undeterred, I say: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Ask as many questions as you can, and come into this business with your eyes wide open. If you're up for a challenge, this field will take you places and show you things you never dreamed of.

10 November 2007

Motorcycle Madness

There are things we guys don’t talk about much. Things we don’t tell our parents or our wives or kids. Things we maybe even don’t tell our priest. This is one of those things. I shouldn’t tell this story, and please don’t repeat it.

Up at the hunting camp there is a guy named Billy-Mac. He’s the general caretaker of the entire property…retired from a long career of mechanical work. The guy can fix anything. Literally, he’s amazing. And Billy-Mac owns two beautiful motorcycles: a silver 2004 BMW R-1150 RT and a 2000 Honda Valkyrie Interstate. Both are serious road bikes on which Billy-Mac has put many miles. He mostly rides with his brother Wayne, who has an identical BMW, only in black. They go on these long, epic, “Let’s see how many states we can hit in two weeks!” type of trips.

BMW motorcycles are renowned, always have been, and have a legendary ability as “sport-touring” bikes. Compared to the lumbering locomotives like the Harley Electra Glide and the Honda Gold Wing, the BMW is lithe and agile while carrying nearly as much “stuff” in its saddlebags. They’re for the guy who enjoys riding as well as traveling. BMW’s are bikes you can hop on in New York and easily ride to, oh, California while only stopping for gas. I’d never ridden a BMW but had always wanted to.

BMW R 1150 RT

Honda Valkyrie Interstate

(The above pictures are only representative of, but exactly like the bikes we rode. I wanted to get pictures of "our" bikes but...well, I'll explain that below.)

When I first met him, Billy-Mac was proudly showing me his bikes when I casually let it slip that I used to own a Harley Sportster once upon a time. At that, he brightened noticeably. “We’ll have to go riding sometime!” he said enthusiastically. I agreed, thinking it was one of those far-off things that never come to pass.

And last weekend was “some time.” I’d flown the Boss up to the camp, and the he was off on a dove hunt. It was one of those picture-perfect, cool days I love so much, and I had nothing to do. Billy tossed me a helmet as he pulled the bikes out of the garage. “Let’s go!”

I was a little nervous. Okay, a lot nervous. Getting from the camp up to the main highway requires a seven-mile trek up a winding dirt road. I hadn’t ridden in a long time - ten years or so, save for one short jaunt on Jacob’s little 250cc putt-putt bike (don’t tell him I called it that). I wasn’t looking forward to taking that big bastard BMW up any dirt road as my initial, getting-to-know-you ride.

As predicted, the trip up the dirt road was harrowing. First of all, it was like riding on a two-inch layer of talcum powder. The tires kept slippin’ and a-slidin’. The BMW is tall and top-heavy. The brakes are so touchy that a one-finger squeeze on the lever or a little tap of the toe could (and would!) lock the wheels. I kept thinking, Dear God, please do not let me drop this bike. After a while, like about mile 3.5 I began to loosen up a little and relax and let my riding instincts take over. Nice bikey…nice bikey…

Fortunately…miraculously, I did make it up to the pavement without falling down. At which point, before I could even catch my breath, Billy-Mac speeds off southbound, leaving me in the considerable dust. I punched the throttle and took off, trying to catch him. We spent the next hour tearing around a bunch of back-country roads in central Alabama. They were just a blur to me. Every time I dared to look down at the speedometer it never indicated less than 70. And me, on an unfamiliar bike, on unfamiliar roads, behind a guy I’ve never ridden with. I was working very hard trying to make friends with the big BMW while staying up with Billy-Mac while not doing anything really stupid in the process.

As luck would have it, Billy-Mac is an excellent rider: Steady and predictable and smooth; very easy to ride behind. Just fast. Very fast. I trusted that he wouldn’t get us in over our heads. I mean, more than I already was. And, thank the Lord, the roads were empty on this particular Sunday afternoon.

In the town of Greenville we met up with brother Wayne. Fed and refueled, we struck out again, this time with Wayne leading, me in the “slot” and Billy-Mac bringing up the rear. More back roads, we settle in at a nice, comfortable 65 mph. I happily think to myself, “Ahh, so the younger brother is the slower of the two.”

And no sooner are those words formed in my brain, Wayne nails his throttle and takes off like a rocket. In my rearview mirror I can see Billy-Mac coming up from behind in a hurry. He’s on the gas hard. I shake my head and sigh. Oh, maaaaaan. Here we go… I stomp the shifter down two gears, grit my teeth and open my throttle fully. I catch up to Wayne, who is hauling ass. I steal a glance down at the speedo: 100 mph. Lord, are these guys crazy?! They’re old men – old enough to be my, well, older brothers. But they ride like friggin’ teenagers!

Mercifully, Wayne finally slows. I start breathing again. My heart comes down out of my throat and slows in rate from parakeet to astronaut-at-shuttle-launch. It feels like we’re just crawling. I look down: 65! And I laugh to myself. After 100 mph, 65 feels like 40.

We pass through a little town…more like a settlement, really. At least he knows the roads… Once clear, he nails it again. Oh, jeez… When I look down this time, I see 110 on the speedometer. Steady 110. Not good. I have not ridden a motorcycle like this in…well, ever. Okay, maybe in my crazy youth, decades ago. Hell, my last bike was a damn Harley fercryinoutloud! I can clearly see the newspaper headline: “Three motorcyclists killed in bizarre accident near Montgomery, body parts everywhere, no brain matter found.” How do I get myself into these situations? I’m a helicopter pilot but I’m gonna get killed in a motorcycle wreck!

I would like to tell you about the BMW – how it handles and rides and shifts and feels and sounds…but I cannot. I would like to tell you about the scenery in this part of Alabama, but I cannot. Most of the time on the bike I had my eyes tightly closed and was just holding on for dear life, waiting for the inevitable death and destruction. I wanted to take pictures…you know, the requisite snaps of me and the guys smiling and leaning on the bikes at some picturesque place. No dice. The only time these guys stopped was to let me pee (at least that’s what I told them), and only because I begged. And Wayne never even got off his bike. These boys are serious riders.

(Now, it must be said here that we weren’t doing anything, um, really crazy or stupid. The speeds at which we were traveling were probably well within Billy-Mac and Wayne’s capabilities. I was just overwhelmed because I hadn’t ridden in so long and had never been on that particular bike before and didn’t know the roads. Still…I did think that 110 was a little too fast.)

We were pushing darkness and low on fuel again. It was the first day back off daylight savings time and we’d gotten a late start. Wayne slowed and pulled over at a proverbial fork in the road. We’d be splitting up and he’d be heading back down to Greenville; Billy-Mac and I would shoot back to the camp, arriving right at sunset if we hurried.

“You guys are nuts!” I said as I took off my helmet.
“We may be old, but we haven’t lost our grip,” Wayne chuckled, making little throttle-motions with his hand.
“Yes you have, on your sanity!” I said. They both laughed, although I wasn’t really joking.
“We don’t normally ride that fast with strangers,” Billy-Mac said sheepishly. “But I knew you could ride when you made up the dirt road without falling.”


I’m not one of these “need for speed” guys. Really. I’m no daredevil or risk-taker. I’ve made it to age 52 without killing myself or breaking too many bones. I’d like to see how many more years are left. Yet I keep finding myself, quite unintentionally (I think) in these strange, kinda crazy, “This is stupid/I know I shouldn’t be doing this…” situations. And you don’t know the half of it. Because like I said, there are stories we guys don’t tell. The above should be one of them, but I felt the need to confess. However, there are some that I won’t even share here. But I’ll say this: Chances of me making 53? Not good.

07 November 2007

A Nearly-Perfect Day / Handle With Care

Today was almost a perfect day. Perfect? Yes, almost. I’ll tell you what a simpleton I am…how little it takes to make me happy.

The Boss wanted me to fly him from Home Base down to a jobsite in Gulfport, Mississippi. It’s about an hour-and-ten minute flight. Pickup time was set for just after lunch, so I strolled out of the house around ten-thirty a.m. to go to the airport. It was a cool, dry, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky, see-forever day where you get up in the air and go, “DAMN, I’m lucky to be a pilot!” We stayed low, sightseeing and chatting as we made our way to the southwest.

He needs to come back home tomorrow (Thursday) evening. The plan was for the helicopter to stay at the jobsite, and I would stay in a motel. They’d already rented me a car. “Say, if you want to go over and stay the night in New Orleans, you can do that,” the Boss offered. New Orleans is about an hour-and-a-half to the west. On the other hand, home is just two hours to the east. “I think I’m just going to go home,” I said. And that’s what I did. I’d rather sleep in my own bed than a motel bed any day.

So I take off in the rental Kia, headed eastbound on I-10 at a high rate of speed. It’s a trip I used to make weekly for nearly thirteen years when I worked for Petroleum Helicopters in Louisiana. So there was an odd sense of déjà vu about the whole thing. And I realized something: I didn’t miss the old job so much as I missed commuting back and forth on the Interstate. See, I like driving. I can relax, turn the radio up as loud as I want (and I do like it loud) and just listen to music in peace and solitude. Fortunately, this little Kia had a pretty good radio. (Auto makers are savvy. They know that their car can be a total piece of crap, but we Americans won’t care as long as it has a kick-ass stereo. This particular Kia was and did.)

There is a radio station in Mobile, Alabama, 92.1 WZEW. It’s about the only station that’s worth a damn anymore. They actually play a lot of new music. But it’s aimed at adults, not teenagers. Trouble is, their transmitter range is tiny. I can’t pick them up at home in Pensacola (luckily they stream), nor were they coming in very well as I started eastbound this afternoon.

As I neared Mobile the station was coming in weak but getting stronger. Suddenly, for some reason the static faded and the signal burst into full strength. Just as it did, the d.j. came back from a commercial break and announced some of the music he’d be playing in the next set. Then he goes, “…And here’s the Traveling Wilburys.” Sure enough, “Handle With Care” starts up, clear as a bell. Man, I was in heaven.

So there I was, loving life on a beautiful day. I’d gotten to fly a little, and now I was cruising along at 80 mph, jamming to some damn fine music as I rode back home. I leaned back and thought, life is good! Like I said, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

And at the same time, the thought is troubling. Maybe there should be more to life?