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?

27 November 2013

Making God Laugh

I had a plan. Don’t I always have a plan? I would leave Brewster for Florida in no great rush, stopping and seeing friends along the way. The plan was to be home by Thanksgiving. This one went about as well as the rest. I almost didn't make it.

Because it was so late in the year, I did not want to leave Washington and go eastbound over the Rockies on the way back to Florida. No thank you! My van doesn’t have snow tires and I wanted nothing to do with winter weather. But I didn’t have many choices.

For a number of reasons, I finally left Brewster, headed south on November 20th. My friend Gene was flying up to San Francisco. The plan was to pick him up there, and then he’d ride with me and share the driving on the way back to Pensacola. We'd head south all the way to L.A. and catch Interstate 10 eastbound. It was "the long way" home, yeah, but eminently more preferable to me than driving in snow. Heh.

The first part worked okay - the picking up Gene part. We got to see a little of San Francisco before taking off. The original plan was to head straight down Interstate 5 for Los Angeles. If we were lucky, we could hit the Griffith Observatory before sunset. There, we could get a good view of the City of Angels before beating feet east to our overnight destination: Barstow, California.


A little winter storm named Boreas had beached-in at Southern California and was wreaking havoc as it trundled eastbound across the whole country. L.A. was rainy and miserable. So instead of heading directly south, we decided to take our time and mosey down CA Rt 1, otherwise known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Gene had never been west of the Mississippi River. And I mean, if you’re in California you really shouldn’t miss the PCH. We didn’t, and it was spectacular as always. We made it as far as San Luis Obispo Friday night.

Saturday morning, still in great weather, we did the rest of the PCH, but cut off at Ventura and headed inland. Griffith Park was jam-packed, but we expected that. The view from the Observatory was incredible. We tried to figure out what else we wanted to see in L.A. but couldn’t come up with anything, so we struck out eastbound for Las Vegas, where we spent the night at the Downtown Grand Hotel-Casino, walking distance from the Fremont Street Experience, which I wanted to see again. It was raining in Vegas when we got there, but it cleared up entirely overnight.

The plan after Vegas was to see the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, heading east on I-40 we’d caught up to Boreas again, and it was snowing heavily by the time we got to the exit that would’ve taken us up to the Canyon. Better to leave that destination for a clear day. Instead of continuing eastbound to Albuquerque, we diverted south from Flagstaff on I-17. There’s a helicopter boneyard in Casa Grande that I wanted to see. We spent Sunday night there.

In beautiful (but still chilly) weather now, we struck out on I-10 on Monday morning, headed for Kerrville, TX. At a rest area in Arizona, a guy came up to us and asked if we were from Pensacola? He’d seen our Florida license plate (which says "Escambia County" at the bottom) and said he was from there too. Now living in Gulfport, Mississippi, he was on his way home after a visit to Los Angeles. While talking he mentioned that he’d intended to take I-40 across but decided to drop down to I-10 because of the storm. Gene and I looked at each other and chuckled. “That’s exactly what we’re doing,” I said. Small world.

Kerrville to San Antonio was okay, but we caught up with Boreas yet again in Houston. It was raining pretty good, and I knew it would be like that the rest of the way home. Since it was only midday on Tuesday, and Gene and I debated as to whether we should drive straight through to home or short-stop in Lafayette or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In the end, we just drove, and got home to Pensacola at ten p.m. As always, it's good to be home.

Coming east across the Rockies and stair-stepping down to the Gulf Coast is usually three overnights and about 2,700 miles or so depending on the actual route and depending on how much of a hurry I’m in. The way Gene and I did it ended up taking 4,000 miles over the course of six nights.

I’m often reminded of something I learned a long time ago: “You want to hear God laugh? Tell Him your plans.”

07 November 2013

Stirring Up Trouble On Facebook

After putting up the post below about stirring up trouble on that helicopter forum board, my friend, fellow blogger and current PHI pilot, Hal Johnson put a link to it up on his Facebook page. Ever throw gasoline on a fire? Yeah, it was like that.

Let me just say this: Atheists seem to be an unhappy, grumpy-borderline-angry, intolerant bunch who are easily offended. They usually claim to take the intellectual high road by saying that they are the ones using their brains and we people of faith are not. They also appear to have reading comprehension problems or something – because many of them misinterpreted or misunderstood what I wrote.

For the record, my premise is this: Anyone who has such complete faith that there is no Creator…in other words a person who cannot even entertain the mere possibility that there is a Creator…should not have a pilot’s license. My position is that if you cannot open your mind to the possibility that we humans might have been created, then your thinking is defective…narrow-minded…limited.

After Hal posted the link to my blog, atheists leapt to each other’s defense. They said that I was suggesting that people who didn’t believe in God should have their FAA medical certificates revoked. (I did not.) They said that I was insisting that people believe the same thing I do. (I don’t.) They said I was pushing Christianity. (Again, I wasn’t.)

Naturally enough, some atheists claimed that I wasn’t a very good Christian, as if they were qualified to judge! I thought that was both funny and ironic. Such idiots.

Some atheists went to great pains to assure me that “atheism” takes in many viewpoints, and that some of them even allow for the possibility of a creator. Yes, I know that. However those people who do allow for the possibility of a Creator call themselves agnostic. My personal issue is with people who define themselves as “Atheist: No God; Cannot Be A God.”

And apparently atheists believe that the only alternative to their way of thinking is Chrisianity and the God of the Christian Bible. I heard this many times. One guy even called teaching Christianity to children, “…emotional child abuse.” Atheists have a real hatred for Christianity.

Yet there are over 4,000 religions on the planet, and not all of them are Christian. Not all of them are monotheist either, but that’s beside the point. Because I wasn’t then and am not now “pushing” any particular religion. In reality, I don’t care what you believe. If you choose to not believe in a Creator/God, fine! But to completely deny that one could exist? BZZZZT! Wrong answer, babe.

Some people went to great pains to demonstrate that they have no faith. One mental midget…and there really is no other way to describe him…claimed to not have any faith in himself as a pilot. He said that he was FAA-certified, and it was his experience and skill that kept him from having an accident; no faith in his abilities was necessary! (I’m not sure his passengers would want to know that little tidbit! Because they surely have faith in his abilities!) This guy also claimed to not have any faith in his mechanic; that he would “check his work” and of course preflight diligently.

I asked this genius if he himself was an FAA-certified mechanic? Because how else would a PILOT know whether a mechanic had done his job properly? How arrogant and pompous is that?! I asked him if he followed his mechanic around with the Maintenance Manual, ensuring that all of the mechanic’s work was done properly and safely? I asked about work the mechanic did that the pilot could not see (e.g. overhauls and such)? How do we pilots know that the mechanics do this work properly? Answer: We don’t. We take it on trust…which comes from FAITH…that the work was done well.

One moron postulated that the “primordial soup” could be a creator, since we all supposedly spawned from it, and so therefore an inanimate object could be our Creator. (Do people really believe such bullshit?) The next logical question is: Okay, who or what created the primordial soup?

One other nitwit took me to task for referring to the Creator/God as “Him,” a male gender with a capital H. Aha! That meant I must have been referring to the Christian God. I explained that I do so merely out of respect, since whatever or whoever created us must therefore be bigger and more powerful than us. Our Creator cannot possibly have a gender…nor can it be in human form. Our Creator could easily be a “She,” or a “He,” or an “It.” I say, “Him” out of lazy convenience. Big deal.

Seems to me that, based on the responses on Hal’s Facebook page, atheists are not as bright as they claim to be.

Me? I have no idea how the universe was created – I only have faith that it was. Could I be wrong? Sure! Maybe there’s no Creator. But allowing for this does not make me an agnostic, as one pinhead suggested.

Many of the atheists demanded that I justify my position…or modify/alter it to suit their worldview. Hey, I didn’t ask for a discussion on the subject. I didn’t say, “What do you guys think about this!” I say what I say and if you don’t like it, well, tough. Get your own opinion-blog.

I am hard on atheists, yes, because I believe their position to be untenable and illogical. I mean, who knows if we were created or not? But why rule it out? Seems dumb.

Some people “unfriended” Hal because of the posts on his Facebook page. Some blocked me, meaning that my posts were rendered invisible to them - and theirs to me. These are people who claim to be so open-minded, remember. I hope Hal doesn't post a link to this blogpiece - he got into enough trouble with the last one, and I hate to see people lose friends...even Facebook "friends" over something so silly.

But here's the deal. I stand by my simple view: If you cannot open your mind and allow for the fact that we might have been created, then you shouldn’t be allowed to have an FAA medical certificate because there’s something wrong with your thinking. I would say that I’m sorry if you are offended by that remark, but I’m really not.

02 November 2013

Five Years

If you had told me five years ago that I would be living for six months out of the year up in Washington State (the Pacific Northwest!), flying 60 year-old helicopters in the summer and working as a cropduster loader-boy/gofer the rest of the time…well, I might not have dismissed it out of hand as impossible! but I would have been very skeptical at least.

Five years ago I was happily ensconced in a “good” job, flying a Bell 206 JetRanger for a rich guy. The job had not yet turned sour. The boss had not yet required me to go up to the headquarters just to hang around during the week even when we had no flights scheduled (not that I had any other official duties). The boss had not yet begun to resent the amount of money he was paying me for the little amount of flying we were actually doing. The boss had not yet begun dreaming up “other” tasks for me to do to keep me busy and justify the “enormous” amount of money he thought he was paying me (he wasn’t).

And anyway, the thought of leaving Florida would have been incredible. I love Florida! I especially love that part of Florida where I live: The part that has not been overrun and spoiled by development, where you can still find a secluded stretch of beach to lay out and get some sun and watch the Navy jets and helicopters fly over, even in the dead of summer.

So, yeah.

But here I am, at the beginning of November, 2013, still in Washington – have been since May. The hot, clear and dry days of summer are but a memory. Every day is “cold” now. There’s ice on the windshield every morning; you have to let the car warm up a bit before driving off, and you always have to wear a sweater, even indoors. It gets briefly up into the low 60’s every day, but often the days are steel-gray and bitingly cold. It’s the humidity, I guess. And the days are getting short.

Alternatively the days are sparklingly clear…beautiful! But cold. And it’s not even winter...yet. No snow...yet. But it’s coming, and I want to be gone from here before that happens – no offense to anyone who lives here permanently.

Granted, the locals don’t consider it cold, but to this guy…this guy whose blood has been thinned by over twenty-five years of (albeit sub-tropical) Florida sun…it’s friggin’ cold. One of the guys gave me a coat that he’d grown out of, which spared me the expense of going and buying one of my own, something I’d rather avoid.

We were working hard during September and October, getting the helicopters inspected, worked-on and then put away in a hangar, which involved taking the rotor blades off. Plus there was a bunch of other miscellaneous work to be done.

But now that’s pretty much finished and it’s nearly time to go. They’re already asking me when I can be back. My flippant answer is, “When the snow’s all gone.” Which is not really flippant; it’s what’s going to happen. I’m thinking middle of April. Could I live up here full-time? You know, I probably could. And sooner or later I probably will. As much as I love Florida, I really love it up here too. And I never would have predicted that five years ago.