Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stack the firewood now...

You may have heard of Accuweather. This is a weather forecasting firm that sells its services to both media clients and businesses. They're quite good at what they do. Thus, I was interested in what they predicted about the upcoming winter weather in Texas.

Better get the firewood ready. On their prediction map, right there across the state of Texas, they write "Snow and Ice". Accuweather's lead meteorologist, the uncomfortably-named Joe Bastardi, says the climatological factors are almost identical to 1963. Well, I happen to remember the winter of '63 - '64.. I was a mere high-schooler then and I got up at 3:10 every morning to deliver The Dallas Morning News to 120 customers. There were (I looked this up) 63 mornings that winter with freezing or below lows. Many of the lows were in the teens.

But what I really remember was the frequency of ice and snow. Lots of it. In fact, mid-January brought a snowstorm the likes of which we rarely get in the DFW area anymore. A large swath of north Texas received 8-12" of snow, effectively shutting down the area completely. Unlike our neighbors in the northern U.S., we don't have a fleet of snowplows ready to respond to calamaties like this. All our cities do is half-heartedly spread some sand on bridges and overpasses and watch the fun begin. Film crews position themselves in advantageous places and simply wait for the inevitable spin-outs and jack-knifed trucks.

There is nothing that I have mixed feelings about more than ice and snow. I love snow days because you get a free day or two at home with nothing to do and no place to go...totally unexpectedly. On the flip side, those of us in the education business have to make up any days we miss, and those makeup days are generally beautiful, tranquil spring days that would have been perfect off days. Also, sometimes school isn't cancelled when it should be, and driving a bus on ice is problematic to say the least. And, I live 25 miles from the bus lot, with much of that route consisting of bridges that ice up quickly when the temp hits 32.

So, we'll see if Accuweather is accurate. It would be nice for my grandkids to experience building a snowman sometime in their youth.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Drunk Pilot

On a March morning in 1990, an intoxicated crew of three climbed into the cockpit of a Northwest Airlines 727 and flew 91 passengers from Fargo, N.D. to Minneapolis. Having been tipped off, the FAA was waiting to arrest the crew upon landing. Fortunately, the plane landed safely.

One of the crew was the flight engineer, Joe Balzer, who has now told his story in a gripping book entitled, Flying Drunk. Fortunately, this is an amazingly inspirational saga. Balzer was in denial about his alcoholism, and after his arrest he got involved Al-Anon and got sober. Unfortunately, he had to face the music, too. He was found guilty of a felony and was sentenced to a year in a federal minimum-security prison on an Air Force base. However, there was a strange fear that he would escape, steal a jet, and zoom off to freedom. So he was tossed into the normal crowd of ne'er-do-wells at a maximum-security prison.

It was quite a shock for Balzer to go from the clear air at 35,000 feet to the cold dungeon of a federal prison. His recounting of the year behind bars consumes most of the book. The same smarts that made him a fast-rising pilot served him well when dealing with street-tough gangsters. But he survived. Throughout the entire ordeal, his wife never wavered in support of her husband. And most importantly, Balzer's faith in God remained powerful. He did more that just survive - he did a lot of teaching and helped a bunch of bad guys along the way.

Ordinarily, you don't give away the ending of a book, but since it's freely publicized on the book cover and at his website (, I'll go ahead and tell you that Joe started from scratch and rebuilt his career, culminating in a job with American Airlines, flying MD-82's. The story of how he got that position is alone worth reading the book for. Throughout the pages, Balzer gives hope and advice to anyone caught in the web of alcoholism...all the while demonstrating how it is possible to overcome defeat if you do all you can do and turn the rest over to God.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Still want ObamaCare?

This from the government's Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services. Not Fox News, but from Obama's own administration:

"A plan to slash more that $500 billion from future Medicare spending - one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama's proposed overhaul of the nation's health-care system - would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday. The report...found that Medicare cuts contained in the health package approved by the House on Nov. 7 are likely to prove so costly to hospitals and nursing homes that they could stop taking Medicare altogether."


Contacted your senators yet?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Who Are You?

A couple of months ago, on a whim, I added the "ClustrMaps" application there at the upper right. To put it mildly, I am floored by what I see. Several readers from South America? Someone from New Zealand? Three from the United Kingdom? A person in Egypt? All continents except Antarctica?

I have no idea how these folks are finding out about a very underwhelming blog or why they're stopping by. I don't even get the coast-to-coast readership in the United States. Only thing I can figure out is that you like the aviation pictures I select.

If you are one of these folks, I'd love for you to leave a comment and tell me how you came upon this meager effort. If no one responds, I'll know that all these people from exotic locales stopped by only once, hated the waste of their time, and moved on. Ah, the vagaries of blogging!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Further Proof

In the aftermath of the Ft. Hood tragedy, further proof of Obama's incompetence is forthcoming. The guy is so cold. The White House alerts the news networks that the president will be commenting on the horrific occurence as he addresses a conference dealing with Native American issues. Obama spends 2 minutes and 20 seconds yukking it up with his audience before he mentions the murders. This man has the feelings and judgment of a tree stump.

Then today, he urges Americans "not to rush to judgment" about the incident. Were Major Hasan a white Christian, I guarantee that Obama would have not used that phrase. This officer is an Islamic terrorist, plain and simple. I heard an analyst say that this is the worst terrorist attack on our soil since 9/11 and I agree. Watch the White House in the next few days...they will not use the word "terror" or "terrorist".

This is what you get when you have a Muslim Kenyan as President. This is what you get when mainstream media falls in love with an image and disregards his inexperience and his checkered past. But keeping talking, Mr. President. The more you open your mouth, the more we find out about you. And the more we find out, the more certain your exit from the Oval Office will be.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

New Age Stuff

I'm not a big fan of New Age. Generally, the context in which I hear the term is religion, and from what I've heard of New Age religion, they have it all wrong. The further away from the Bible that people drift, the more desperate their attempts at happiness appear. It doesn't help to have Oprah touting "personal fulfillment" to the exclusion of serving God and others first, of course.

But this isn't about religion, at least not today. I've discovered that I'm a fan of New Age music. I guess it started a few years ago when I became of fan of Enya and her soft, soothing tones. And then I was fortunate enough to get a few free months of XM-Sirius radio with my new pickup truck. While station-surfing, I came across channel 72, something they call "Spa", and was quickly hooked. The music is hard to describe, but it is consistently dreamy, smooth, and sleep-inducing, something that may not be wise to listen to as you motor down the interstate...

Young folks won't understand this, but in the '60's, good music was still being written. And much of the music could be listened to without your clothing become frayed from the noise. Many of the hits were ballads - love songs, you know. Then came the hard rock era, and "easy listening" stuff soon couldn't even be found on the FM dial.

So finally, there is something that won't assault my rather old eardrums. Forget old age, I've found "new age".