Who Am I?

My photo
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?

26 May 2023


As an Uber driver, I talk with around a dozen different people a day.  We don't *all* talk about the pandemic anymore (as we used to during peak-panic), but the subject still comes up a lot.  And it is interesting to me that so many people confidently *know* stuff that may or may not be true. I guess that's just human nature: Thanks to the internet, we think we're smarter than we are. I'm guilty of it too, if I'm being honest.  But as I've gotten older, I've become much more skeptical and suspicious about things that are delivered to us as FACTS that we are supposed to believe without question.

To wit: Was the coronavirus pandemic a planned event? I now tend to believe so. The U.S. government (in the form of NIH/NIAID) has been working with the Chinese for a long time on this controversial "gain of function" research (GoF) - even when it was prohibited by U.S. law!  I suppose the thinking was that the Chinese were going to do the research anyway, and so it was better to be involved and cooperating with them so we could see the results of their work. But then, there was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where they were also working on gain-of-function research.  Since the government grant for said research had already been issued, UNC was allowed to continue their GoF work even during the time it was prohibited.  Back in 2015, UNC published a chilling paper on a new SARS CoV virus they discovered which originated in a type of Chinese horseshoe bat (surprise!) and that could transfer to humans (but - at that point - not human-to-human).

Good ol' Doc Fauci failed to mention these things during his various denials (some under oath) that GoF research really wasn't really GoF.  The wiggle room...the small technicality he was exploiting was that in his view, "GoF" was simply related to animals and not animals-to-humans, when Congressional inquisitors were saying that yes, GoF *was* being used to manipulate a virus so that it would jump from animals to humans and then human-to-human. In other words, from Fauci's warped point of view, those researchers in Wuhan, China weren't deliberately trying to cause the virus to jump from human-to-human, even though that's exactly what "accidentally" (heh-heh) happened anyway.  Clever, that Fauci guy!  And then, as we know, this manipulated virus also "accidentally" got released to the world. Shocking!

I could be wrong, but at this point, no one will ever convince me that the Great Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 was anything other than a deliberate act of global bio-terrorism.

New SARS-like virus can jump directly from bats to humans, no treatment available - UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

17 May 2021


Both Uber and Lyft are complaining that they do not have enough drivers.  Every time I log-on, I'm bombarded with bonus offers for recommending other drivers sign-up.  Not only that, but it's been really busy lately.  However, many of the trip requests I get when I'm out and about are often 18 or 20 minutes away.  (I always reject them; no need to drive for 18 minutes to pick up a passenger who's only going five minutes from his house.)  Uber came out with a notice to us drivers that said, basically, Enjoy the extra money now, chumps, because once the pandemic is over and things get back to normal, your earnings are going to decrease!

Uber is operating under some assumptions.  A couple of them are, I believe, false.  First, they evidently believe that their drivers are standing-down out of fear of catching the coronavirus.  They also assume that some number of regular Uber drivers have switched over to delivering food (which is correct).  But they also feel that once the pandemic is over, food deliveries will be reduced since people will stop ordering out.  Thus, drivers will return to actual passenger runs.

I think they're wrong.

Not so long ago, generally (in most of the country that wasn't New York City), just about the only food you could have delivered to your house was pizza.  People certainly could just drive out to the pizza place and pick it up themselves.  But they put up with the extra cost of having it delivered due to the huge convenience it provided.  Now we can get just about anything we want delivered to the house.  Even restaurants like Texas Roadhouse and Olive Garden (which previously didn't even have the availability for you to order to-go food over the phone or internet and have it delivered) have stepped up their game. It's great to be able to order stuff that previously would have required a visit to the actual restaurant.  The future is now!

A cabdriver friend of mine recently ditched the taxi and switched over to doing ride-share.  He did it for a couple of weeks before concluding that it was too many miles of driving for too little money.  He switched over to delivering food and, voila!, now he makes more money and actually drives less.  Most likely, he won't come back to delivering people.  I have heard this before from other drivers: "Delivering food simply gives you better revenue-per-mile."  Which it does.  (Me, I just don't want to deliver food - I like the people aspect of ride-share driving too much.)

Very simply, Uber and Lyft are going to have to pay their drivers more to entice them to keep working on the "legacy" apps and not defect to the food delivery side.  To do that, Uber will probably have to raise their rates.  But remember, one of the big selling points of Uber was that it was "cheaper than a taxi."  Nevertheless, rates have come up.  Uber/Lyft may still be cheaper than a taxi, but not by much.  And in some markets, not at all.

Personally, I believe that customers have become so accustomed to using Uber/Lyft that they will pay...whatever.  Even if ride-share rates rise above those of conventional taxis, people will pay them.  There are a number of reasons: Convenience of using the app; knowing who your driver will be, seeing his picture, and knowing what kind of car he's driving; knowing that the car you'll be riding will be clean and well-maintained; seeing the car's progress as it comes towards you; knowing the price of the ride up-front; and not having to pay for the ride while in the car.  These are not small things.  And exactly none of them have been available to a customer calling a conventional cab.  

So there is a huge benefit to using ride-share.  And I think people will realize that it's a premium service which justifies premium rates.  Customers have been lucky that the "introductory" ride-share rates have been so low. But now that the taxi industry has pretty much been made obsolete, the party is over.  Will some riders rebel and go back to regular taxi services?  Perhaps.  I could see that happening in certain areas of town where price-point is most important.

In any event, I am enjoying the fruits of this "driver shortage" right now.  It means that I do not have to work as long to make my meager target daily revenue.  Less work for more money = good thing for Bob.  I'm not worried that the coronavirus pandemic will suddenly be over and Uber/Lyft drivers will rush back to work.  I only envision that happening if food deliveries drastically drop off - but as I said, I don't think that's going to happen.

14 April 2021


It occurred to me that in all of the nine summers I spent in Washington State, I never once visited their tallest mountain. That would be Mt. Rainier, which towers up to 14,411 feet. Imagine my surprise to discover that here in Florida I'm living in the veritable shadow of the tallest point of the state! Britton Hill is in Lakewood Park, which is just 54 nautical miles to my east as the crow flies. Now, it may not have the snow-capped grandeur and majesty of a Mt. Rainier, but hey, I'll take it.

I figured that riding the motorcycle out to and climbing Britton Hill would be the adventurous thing to do, because I am an adventurer at heart, and...well, adventure! Since I'm not really in peak mountain-climbing shape anymore (the dreaded "COVID-15#" - you know what I'm talkin' about), climbing from the base was, as the kids say, OOTQ*. I was hoping that there'd be a road I could ride on leading up to a point where I could park and maybe hike the rest of the way. Or maybe one of them cable-car thingees...that would be cool.

So I packed me a bottle of Gatorade and some honey-roasted peanuts and headed off on a beautiful, chilly Monday morning, eastbound and dowwwwwn (obligatory "Smokey and the Bandit" reference) on Interstate 10, opposite the flow of the hordes (well, dozens) of rush-half-hour commuters heading into Pensacola. Sadly, that has always been my lot in life: I'm going thisaway while everyone else is going thataway... I am never in sync with the crowd. I took my "big" Harley, the Super Glide (aka "Stupid Glide," officially the FXDBi Street Bob)....the one I desperately want to sell. There is a woman who sells Harley parts in the town of Florala, Alabama which is coincidentally right near Britton Hill. I wanted to see if she maybe had a better seat for my bike. I don't really want to spend another dime on this P.O.S., but I hate the "stock" seat on it so much that I'd rather not inflict it on a future purchaser. I'm not that depraved.

I did get to Britton Hill and managed the arduous climb to the top. Well... as luck would have it, I was able to drive all the way up. And even "up" is an exaggeration; the stone marker is right by the side of the road. Spoiler Alert: It's not very impressive - 345 feet. Turns out that Florida has the lowest high-point of all 50 states. Delaware is next, with a high-point of only 448 feet. Even flat and swampy Louisiana has a higher high-point than us: 535 feet. I know you're wondering... Alaska has the highest high-point. It's Mt. McKinley at 20,320 feet.

Here's the view you get from the parking lot at Florida's highest point. Pretty much the same view at you get anywhere else in Florida.

They call them, "highpointers": People whose goal is to visit the highest point in every state. Their website has a list of all of the highest-points in all 50 states. You can look at it HERE. And now I've joined the club! I'm in, baby! I got my first one out of the way! Only 49 to go.

Okay, so it might not have been as much of an adventure! as climbing Mt. Rainier would have been, or Mt. Kilimanjaro as one of my friends wants to do for his 40th birthday. Sometimes you have to make do with what you've got. This is Florida, after all. Everything is flatter here: our beer and our women. And most certainly our mountains.

*I don't think kids really say this.

09 April 2021

Dear Diary

I used to blog a lot.  But now I do most of my writing on Facebook.  There, I make semi-regular posts.  I jokingly started referring to them as my "Morning Coffee Rambling" because I'd post them as I drank my...you get the idea.  I actually stole said idea from my friend, Russell Madden, who usually posts long daily missives filled with common-sense and wisdom.  To differentiate myself, I formalized, titled and dated my posts.  And as goofy as the name is, it stuck.  I do post other crap on Facebook during the day, but my serious ruminations are generally reserved for my "column."

I try to keep my Facebook posts short, but at four paragraphs in length (or longer), they can be challenging for the typically impatient short-attention-span social-media reader.  Even close friends admit that they do not read my posts.  They sigh, roll their eyes and go, "Too long."  I understand.  Facebook is usually not a long-form medium.

I don't spend a lot of time on "analytics."  In fact, I never really researched the actual numbers until starting to write this post.  It turns out that I have 155 Facebook "Friends," and another 150 or so "followers."  I don't automatically approve every Friend Request, although my profile information is public.  So my posts are searchable and "shareable."  And sometimes (rarely) they are.  Theoretically, 300 people or so could see my posts...*if* they show up in their Newsfeeds.  But I doubt that 300 people view my crap, given the small number of "Likes" each post gets.  Facebook's algorithm is weird in the way it selects what you see each day.  And Facebook doesn't let us see how many "hits" our individual posts get.

But there are tracking programs for blogs that allow you to see who has visited your site and where they are.  By comparison, each post on this here blog gets very, very few views.  The sad reality is that I don't reach a large number of people through this blog, but I reach way more people on Facebook.

So is the blog format dead?  Oh no!  At least, I hope not.  I do like the blog.  Facebook posts are very temporary; they evaporate quickly in the daily clutter of everyone's Newsfeed.  On the other hand, blogposts stay up as a permanent record.  For me, they become a running commentary on what's going on in my life at any given time...a diary as it were.  

I started this blog way back in 2006 when I went to work for a guy who was trying to restart the production line of an old helicopter from the 1970s.  (Unfortunately, we were ultimately unsuccessful.)  Back then, I used to lead an interesting life, or so I thought.  Now, fifteen years later, things have kind of calmed down.  I don't fly much anymore...and I may not ever fly for a living again, in fact.  The pandemic cancelled the motorcycle trips I had planned for 2020, and I'm not even riding as much as I'd like here in 2021.  So my life - like yours, probably - is kind of on hold.  There has been little personal crap to write about.  Maybe that will change!  

Maybe the coronavirus pandemic will fade and our lives will return to some sense of normalcy.  And now that I'm retired and don't spend so much time up in Washington State, I can start doing some fun stuff here in Florida.  If I do, I'll certainly blog about here...whether anybody reads it or not.

19 March 2021


Let us be very, very clear: The death rate from COVID19 in the U.S. is 1.8%. In other words, if you get the disease, you have better than a 98% chance of survival.

It is reported that 547,649 people have died from COVID19 in the U.S. That number is arguable, but let's accept it for this exercise. It is also reported that 29,632,042 people have tested positive for the virus. Okay, this is easy! If you divide 547,649 deaths by 29,632,042 infectees, you get 0.0181...or 1.8%. That's how we derived the above survival rate. 100% minus 1.8% equals 98.2%.

But wait, there's more! Estimates are that, over and above those who've tested positive for coronavirus, X-number of people have it but don't have any symptoms and haven't been tested. Some experts put that number at "8X" the number of who have tested positive. But let's be conservative and just use a multiplier of 5X. Okay, so if we multiply 29,632,042 by 5, we get 148,160,210 people. Stay with me. Now if we take the number of deaths (547,649) and divide by 148,160,210, we get an actual death rate of...(drumroll)...0.37%. *POINT* three-seven percent....basically just under four-tenths of one percent. So turn it around. It means that your actual survival rate from COVID19 is in the area of 99.6%. Pretty good odds, I'd say, even without a vaccine that is said to be 95% effective.

Will those number I used go up? Certainly - we're not done with this virus yet. But I believe the relationship of those numbers will remain the same. Fake news outlets like the fear-mongering CNN and such are trying very hard to panic us into thinking that COVID19 is some horrible, deadly threat to humanity. The hard numbers tell a different story.

I do not get a flu shot every year, because I never get the flu. Apparently, I have a pretty good immune system or something, but seriously, I never get sick. So guess what...I won't be getting the coronavirus vaccine either. I just don't believe that COVID19 presents that much of a threat to our health. At least, not if you go by our government's own numbers.

We do know that a number of people die from the regular ol' flu each year. The trouble is, we really don't know how many people get the flu each year, because so many people simply self-medicate without going to the doctor. So it's very hard to come up with a reliable death rate for the flu. Any number would be a guess. Similarly, we really don't know for certain how many people have the coronavirus but don't have any symptoms and have not been tested. Again, it's a guess. You might point to positivity-rates of those who do get tested, but I would counter that people who have no symptoms are very unlikely to be tested in the first place unless it's a job-requirement. And so many of the "asymptomatics" remain invisible to the statisticians. But either way... If you go by the numbers we "know" (i.e. number of people who tested positive and number of deaths attributable to COVID19), the threat of you dying from this disease is tiny. This is obviously no comfort to anyone who's had a family member die of the coronavirus. But as horrible as that is, I think the threat to the general public is vastly overblown. Why is this? I do not know.

03 March 2021

CORONAVIRUS: Hey Abbott...!

In discussing the coronavirus pandemic, one of my friends sighed, "I just want this to be over." A sentiment shared by all of us, I'm sure. I expressed my doubts that all this will ever be "over." I think that mask will still be required in certain places from now until...like...forever. And as a society we will always be suspicious when we're in the presence of someone with a cough or cold. Our economy may never fully recover and return to the pre-pandemic glory days. To the dismay of parents nationwide, kids may never go away to college anymore now that online classes are not only "a thing" the *the* thing. The nests will stay full and jobless junior may never move out, living in the basement, playing video games and intending on inheriting the house upon his parents' (surely accelerated) demise.

On the other hand, some "medical experts" say that the coronavirus will become like the common cold or flu: an annoyance we'll all just have to live with (pun intended) as we move forward. It is obviously not a hugely fatal disease - I think we can admit that now - although a shit-ton of people have died from it worldwide (or so they say). Older people with the infamous "comorbidities" will probably always have to be cautious and accept the fact that they may still get the COVID and they may still die "from" it, especially if they're in their 90's and get hit by a bus. My advice: Don't get old.

Apparently, Texas Governor Abbott feels the same way as my fatigued friend in the first paragraph. Abbott is lifting the mask mandate in his state, and has expressed his desire to get Texas 100% open, 100% now. This, even as the scaredy-cat mayor of Austin is calling on the governor to continue and extend existing restrictions.

So is this smart of Governor Abbott? The spread of the disease does appear to be abating here in the U.S., but Italy and Brazil are seeing increases in the number of new coronavirus cases. And our amigos in France? After peaking at nearly 89,000 new cases per day in early November of 2020 (merde!), France has seen a decrease but is still chugging along at around 20,000 new cases per day, showing no signs of slowing down.

So...I dunno. The sad, ugly truth is probably that X-number of people were always going to die from this coronavirus and, vaccine or no vaccine, there wasn't a whole lot any government could do about it. And so we'll see - probably shortly - if Texas Governor Abbott is right or wrong.

26 January 2021


 I had a hankering for Mexican food last night. Instead of going out, I made some shrimp tacos, which turned out great if I do say so myself. I know that Tuesday is official "taco day," and so I may have violated some law by having them on a Monday. Oh well, sue me.  Anyway, it reminded me of the Tuesday nights in the summer up in Washington State when all of the cherry-drying pilots in our company would descend on one of our favorite restaurants in the area, The Club Sports Bar and Grill in the town of Okanogan. They had a deal where you got three tacos for $3.00.  

All of us...usually twelve or thirteen...would amass and terrorize Connie and John (the proprietors) and their hapless but unfailingly accommodating staff.  We'd eat tacos and drink beer until the wee hours, playing Tom Jones' "What's New Pussycat?" over and over on the jukebox until the regulars got frustrated and left...until we were all good and drunk and the female pilots would be up on the tables, dancing topless.  Well, usually the female pilots.  The owner of our company stopped coming to Taco Night.  Even he didn't want to be associated with us.  The "clippers" (the kids who worked in the nearby marijuana fields trimming the product) always eyed us suspiciously.

"Bruh, I think those guys over there are helicopter pilots!"

"No bruh, they must be sailors.  They're drinking and cursing and partying like they're on shore leave."

"Bruh, that one chick's been dancing on that table since we got here."

"Bruh, the chick in the blue polo shirt with the gray hair?  That's a dude, bruh.  He's, like, the ringleader or something. And he's got them...whaddya call 'em...manboobs."

"Bruh, no way!  Maaaaan, they should just smoke weed like we do and chill out."

"Bruh!  Pilots can't smoke weed - it's illegal for them!"

"Bruh, the FAA ought to make alcohol illegal then."

I was usually designated to make the reservation because we need a very big table.  Very quickly, The Club began recognizing my phone number.  If Connie answered, I'd hear a long, exasperated sigh followed by, "Bahhhhhhhhhb...." (Another sigh) "How many tonight, Bob?"  I mean, you'd think she'd be happy to hear from us!  Then again, twelve pilots ordering two "sets" of (3) tacos apiece meant that they'd be making up to 72 tacos - just for us!  They would sometimes run out of taco shells, or meat.  And even if they didn't make money on the loss-leader tacos, they certainly made money off us on the beer...which is, I think, the point of Taco Night.

Anyway, when we finally left, usually as the sun was coming up, the 17 year-old grandson of our owner had to drive us back to the compound.  He was the least-drunk of all of us.  He didn't drink at the bar, but what he did before he got there, we didn't know and we didn't ask.  The other pilots were all, like, "Bob, you should drive!"  But Bob is not stupid. Or so I tell people.

Yes, we had some great times up there in Brewster, Washington, eating and drinking (mostly drinking!) at great places like The Club, Smallwood Farms, and of course, the Sweet River Bakery.  That episode of my life is over now, but I think back fondly on it every time I eat a taco.  Even on a Monday.