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Archive for December, 2006

What appears
oh so terribly hard to do
when first you try to do it
becomes easier, the more you do it,
if you can do it at all.

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Christmas 2006

FOIST OF OIL: MAERIE CHRISTMAS TO YOU as in olden days, as in golden days of yore, hoping friends who were dear to you will be near to you once more.. . . . . . . .

A quiet but blessed day. Christmas morning for curmudgeon bachelors is THE DAY where there is absolutely nothing you have to do. And because of this unsolicited reality of circumstance . . . . you make the day; the day does not make you..

But you know, a feller has to do something. Thank GODness (goodness if you prefer) for the superb programming on WUIS! Keith Lockhart and the Bostom Pops, the W’S program director combined for the best three hours of radio I’ve heard in a long time. They were my connection to humanity (albeit pre-recorded, but I’m not sweating the details today) as I sought to reaffirm my own.

A little catch up with the first cup of coffee. Gayle Norton had sent me the news release for the new Prairie Art Alliance exhibit of 007 a few days ago, but I was too down in the soul to post it. So I did this morning, first thing. See for yourself – http://www.civag.com/artscalendar.htm

I am estranged from my brother Bill (haven’t said word one to him in 3 years) and sister Dorothy (not a word to or from in 2 years, and the words shared at the time were nothing to brag about). But my treasured nephew Steve who has sent me a Christmas card regularly over the years is still “aces” in my book. Called him and got his voice mail, dang it. They’re probably at their mountain hideaway, I hope with his fine mother (my fine sister) and family aplenty. After pondering heavily the wisdom of calling sister Dot, I made the call, hoping for the sound of her voice at least, if not reconciliation . . . . .

The number is no longer connected. Dangit! I heard from a local friend of hers that she has a new boyfriend (at age 71, GREAT for her, truly!) a fellow she used to date in Springfield. Over the summer, I heard Dorothy was visiting Springfield and was questfallen (as Elmer Fudd might say) that she had not called me to say “Hey Yo!” Wouldn’t it be some kind of puddle-wonderful if she and her new beau-friend were relocated in Springfield and living under HIS name? I could run into her at Bergner’s and not even know! I’m glad I tried to call her. Sorry I did not get through, and wherever she is and with shomever, I hope she is content.

I’m slowly learning that after 50 frikkin’ years old, one should not shoot for “happy” because one is unlikely to hit the mark. The most most folks can hope for (including estranged sisters and curr-mudgeonly brothers, probably) is “content.”

And then . . . . I quickly finished an index project for an aviation magazine and posted it.

On tap is Christmas dinner with some friends. THANK GOD I haven’t estranged mself from this whole frikkin’ CITY, thoough too dang often it seems to frikkin’ BE that way!

The only things I miss today is a smiling female to wrap myself around with profound joy and contentment, and a bottle of wine. And with friends to visit, I’m not tellably disappointed over the dearth of refined grape.

When I return, I will savor the last of the plate of cookies and fudge Ron and Kathy Kuethe left at my door Christmas eve. I HAD to enjoy a few of them last night, bathed in the light of a single candle and reading aviation history. All of them will have passed (so to speak) toward a new dimension by the time I retire to Sleep City . . . . and I will be content.

The dinner went fine. Anyone who invites me to dinner AND axks me to bring my guitar is five-star in my book, and these are that kind of friends; Annette because she enjoys the guitar and Rich because he knows I know one end of ann airyoplane from d’other.  I am one lucky hombre to know them, and the afternoon and early evening with them erased a lot of mentally regurgitated “if onlys” from my heart. And I was sent home with leftovers! No mashed potatoes. None were served. And besides . . .  I never cared for them at all.

Could barely hold mine eyes open waiting for Charlie Rose to come on, and about 20 minutes into the show, nibbling the Kuethe’s cookies and sipping my unexpected Christmas present of Wild Turkey from my dinner hosts,  I toddled off to Sleep City.  Unexpected bonus: the early bed netted me classical music on WUIS.  Cookies in the tum-tum, reverberations of a few sips of WIld Turkey on the palate (NOT the Pontius palate; that’s another story) and wonderful melodies in the ear. A fellow  . . . . almost. . . . . can’t ask for better than that.

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Fox Faux Pas

On Saturday afternoon, December 23 at about 2:40 pm during the showing of Miracle on 34th Street, Fox TV Springfield, Illinois broadcast a commercial for Enzyte male erectile enhancement treatment. Does anyone, besides yours truly, find anything obscenely reprehensible about the placement of that commercial?

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Honq For Peace

December 9 Springfield Peace Rally
Stringing out the obituary report with Bush administration flip-flopping, our nation, like a drunken Illinois governor, prograstinates brave lives away.

We know, now, how the bipartisan Baker/Hamilton Report was a token crumb of legitimacy flicked to the hearts of still-believing citizens. During the election campaign, 43 stood behind men with indisputable integrity donning their promise of legitimate, sincere discourse the way mail-room hipsters don cowboy hats on a Saturday night and strut in beer joints. The gesture was only for show, and it cost him the further loss of good will and a heapin’ helpin’ of whatever credibility he still posses . . . which, of course, is almost none.

The peace “rally” I encountered December 9 at the southeast corner of Sixth at Monroe is a lamentable testament to the betrayal of our nation’s founding fathers and mothers (Aaron Burr among the latter if you know what I mean.) by the president and congress. I say congress because the majority in the House and Senate lapped up 43’s disingenuousness the way a kitty takes in warm milk. The rallies becan years ago at the Lincoln statue on the state capitol grounds at Second at Capitol. Peg Knoepfle, members of the Catholic sisterhood and a fair share of men have been involved with these gatherings. I attended the first one with a hand-made sign and have stood with them too few times since. I am out of their “loop,” and that’s okay. They have their standards, y’ knows. But they do welcome me when I “happen by” and stand with them awhile, and that’s okay too.

The move of the gatherings to the current location, all in conformance to Springfield statutes, of course, gives them more visibility at what is almost certainly the busiest downtown intersection south of Sixth at Jefferson. The motion of traffic at this location is slower and besides, if they moved to Sixth at Jeffereson, two blocks north, they might bother the tourists who might not come back until the war is over . . . heaven forbid.

They always have extra signs for people to carry.

So my message to innocent readers of this bloggerification (as 43 might gurge) is thisss. IF you see these fine folks holding their signs at Sixth at Monroe on any ol’ day, park your Hummer and go stand with them for half a frikkin hour! Less than that will suggest you’re only a token patriot; you’re better than that . More time than that may scare the womenfolk. But if you have the time, run that risk. They will be grateful and who knows? Larger numbers make a statement that not evem MyWCFN can ignore.

Remember when you wonder “for whom the bull toils. He toils for thee.”

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Fans wave to Vlado Lenoch in his P-51 as he taxis by at the conclusion of SAR 2006.

PICTURED ABOVE: At the conclusion of SAR 2006 fans wave to Vlado Lenoch as he taxis by in his P-51.
Photo by Job Conger.

When I learned Wednesday that there would be no Springfield Air Rendezvous 2007, I was disappointed for sure. With the exception of 1986 and 1987 (maybe it was 85 & 86) I’ve been writing the most of the text for the Official Souvenir Program and in recent years, the web site text, the prospectus text and the brochure text. I’ve been happy to help because, especially in the past six years, they’re treated me pretty well, even though with the exception of 83 and 84, I never served on their board of directors.

On Wednesday, I wanted to share the new with you but I didn’t. Since I’m not working for the State Journal-Register (though I’d LIKE to be) and at least one major airplane manufacturer and SAR consider my http://www.aeroknow.com to be a legitimate media entity, simple media protocol required me to confirm the news . . . . which I did with a quick e-mail. I was told it was true, but that there would be an official announcement in January. So I didn’t share the news here.

Of course on Friday morning, the unhappy news was all over the local media. The SAR board decision NOT to host an airshow in 07 was shared during the regular, public meeting of Springfield Airport Authority. Yes, I missed a “scoop” by not posting the news Wednesday, but I maintained my integrity and credibility as a journalist and proved to those who cared that I respect team protocol.

In a nutshell, factors behind the decision were:
1. The SAR Board believes they must book a jet aircraft demonstration team (Thunderbirds, Blue Angels, Snowbirds) to make a profit. The last SAR that lost money was in 1993, I know some years since then and now have not featured jet teams, and may I suggest that with better public relations (advertising and positive interaction with aviation organizations and corporations — and PILOTS ) the results when jet teams didn’t fly here would have been far better. I say this not to criticise the dedicated SAR directors and volunteers; it’s an honest observation not intended to incite an inquisition or ill will.

2. The Air National Guard’s 183d Fighter Wing is phasing away from AL Capitol Airport, and their generous resources would not be available to support a military jet team. Even if plans to bring a maintenance operation to the hangars goes as planned, the dust at that part of the airport would not have settled in time for the event slaged for June 07.

3. What began as Garrett AiResearch at the airport, m a n y years ago is now under new ownership. The connection of that major general aviation facility is not as tied to our turf as it used to be. Support which was generously contributed from that sector is no longer the sure bet it used to be.

Those are some of the official reasons. And for now, that is all I care to say. I have informed “the management” that if there is anything I can do to further the success of future Springfield Air Rendezvous, to please let me know. I consider myself to be SAR’s biggest fan, and plan to remain so. Be sure to read the State Journal-Register for more information and stay tuned to AeroKnow and this blog for news the saga continues.

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Clicked on  the insert picture iconF-16 with 183d FW, SPringfield, Illiinois noted  the .com in the location this time. Also noted the number of pixels found in image properties. Did not include borders because I don’t know what that means. Here’s hoping this publishes.

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Aphorism du Jour

Knowledge
without an employer
for one’s knowlege,
makes for an uncluttered
dinner table.

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The words are from George and Ira Gershwin’s song The Man I Love, but the point of this ramble has nothing to do with looking for a man . . . unless you consider this writer’s search for himself. Actually, I’m in search for SOMEONE searching for me: for my friendship, to employ my talent for dollars instead of thrift-store platitudes . . . but I digress.

It’s been too long since monologue-ing wicha, and I’m about to burst with “catchup.” Last week I was BLESSED every day with a substitute teaching assignment and this week on a Tuesday, having worked neither Mon or Tue-day, I feel as bereft otf a future as Don Rumsfeld must feel about ever again working in the shadow of the White House.

A scenario: You know a guy who hasn’t quite connected successfully to liife since 1999. You know he’s behind in his bills, he drives a 20 year old car without a muffler and hasn’t had a date since 2002. He’s seldom happy-happy when you’re around him; at best, he appears to have reached an agreement with the “tiger of life” that the tiger will allow him to hold onto his tail, and in return, the tiger will not consume him. In this kind of deal, the tiger sustains legitimacy by appearing kinder than his true nature, and the guy gets to live. There’s no reason why you might want to give this guy anything for Christmas, even though your relationship has been mutually rewarding for five years: favors repaid by favors, regular phone calls made from both ends of the telephone line. But it’s Christmas, and you want to give him something because you can afford to give him something and you want to show you appreciate his presence in your life. So what do you give? The possibilities are endless: a gift certificate to a muffler shop? A baked turkey fromSchnucks? A subscription to an aviation history magazine? No. You give him a subscription to Time and Newsweek. And on December 19, both issues sarrive in the mailbox. And you think: “Maybe microwaved for 45 seconds on high with a little Catalina dressing poured over the front cover and a decent steak knife, you MIGHT net positive sustenance from that kind of magnanimous Christmas thinking! “Join me now in merry measure/While I tell of Yuletide treasure.” . . . . YAYES! Tuesday will be my good news day!

I still haven’t figured out the picture posting. Had some nice feedback from an anonymous reader about how to do it. Printed the answers at the FAQ area, and I’m just gathering the resolution to try to understand them and getting things going with picture. I KNOW I can do it, but the prospect of actually thinking about it pretty hard is more intimidating that I want to wrestle with. Maybe later today.

Last week I began enjoying sub teaching like never before. The epiphany came in Ms. D’s language arts class at Washingtom MS. The office manager is an acquaintance from Capitol Caffe poetry open mic days, and whenever I carom into the office, I reap a warm smile and convivial welcome. I had subbed at Ms. D’s class for about an hour the week before, and this time, I came for the day. Suffice to say, as I responded to raised hands during a test each class was taking, I saw appreciation in the eyes of those I helped. To have made the leap from contempt which is the usual student feedback, to appreciation . . . well, for the first time in five years, I knew why teachers teach middle school. It was the highlight of my time with District 186, and I’ve resolved that after Christmas and New Years Day, I am going to get SERIOUS about finding full time employment in the system.

Also subbed at Franklin MS, Springfield HS and Lanphier HS. I prefer the HS action, but this year, I’ve been lucky with assignments to more civil MS classes. Put an accused war criminal from Gitmo’s special hideaway into a language arts class at a southeastern Springfield MS, and you will make a Yahweh-fearing stool pigeon out of him before lunch break. This is probably just my opinion.

The week of honest work set me back a fur piece maintaining all the web pages. I slowly caught up over the weekend and am almost to the point of enjoying life again. IF ONLY the SUB TEACHER LINE WOULD CALL ME TO WORK! I find myself in poetry and journalism and photography and aviation history, and I lose myself substitute teaching. Go figger.

As I toddled down to Writers’ Bloc Saturday morning, I began to think my prospects for success as a writer/photographer are behind me DAMMITDAMMITDAMMIT! . . . . BUT I would rather be anonymous, a non-entity who’s paying my bills on time and eating more frequently than a failed writer who screwed himself. Now, if only the sub line would call me to WORK. It’s going to be a grim week next. No school, meaning no pay check. And NOBODY’s going to be hiring between now and January 2 at least! dang it.

It’s lunch time. Where did I put the Catalina dressing?

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Oh Well
by Job Conger

(To be sung to the tune which should be obvious.)

Every year is a marathon race from the start
As we seek sweet contentment in home, hearth and heart,
And the point of the blood, sweat and tears that we pay
Is the red and green bottom line called Christmas Day.

Oh well, oh well, oh well, oh well,
Surely next year will make up for this one.

As we strive to live dreams that may never come true,
We endure slings and arrows as good folks must do.
It’s amazing the things people swallow that hurt
Hoping Dec twenty-five will bring our just dessert.

Oh well, oh well, oh well, oh well,
We’ve been luckier than some sorry bastards.

We should count all our blessings this season of hope
And resolve not to hang ourselves with our own rope.
May the people we care about find joy subliime;
It’s a mighty long haul until spring time

Oh well, oh well, oh well, oh well,
May the mirth of good friends and song linger.

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Over a year ago, maybe longer, I wrote an e to Springfield, Illinois radio station WUIS program director (I mean her no malice, and her voice is American velvet) expressing my discontent with the incessant repeating of promotional announcements for a coming radio show. It might have been for a Bob Dylan thing or a Johnnie Cash thing; maybe both. In her reply, which she didn’t have to write, but did to her credit, she explained the station had chosen to air as many promos for the program(s) as they could until listener complaints convinced them to lower the numbers and frequncy of their effort. The station has always been top brass, gold even, in responding to my occasional e’d lamentations.

Since this past summer, and at least one seasonal fund raiser (when I rediscovered my collection of classical music CDs I play more in my office these days than my living room), a growingly obtrusive lie, mis-representation of truth if you prefer, has oozed into the airwaves, and I wonder of other listeners to other public broadcasting radio stations have noticed the same disturbing trend. While it’s true the station doesn’t broadcast commercials for area businesses or professional enterprises, the air is becoming inundated with commercials for themselves.
The WUIS commercials extoll listeners to sign up for a trip to Italy, visit a gift web site where a portion of purchases from there goes to the radio station, and without surcease, reminders of how it’s not too late to become a “member” of WUIS.

If this “bale wringing” were a barn door, it could not be more obvious: A commercial for yourself is still a commercial, and it’s unfortunate how station management assumes listeners won’t catch on to their sleight of hand, so to speak.

When my brother and I shared the same house, growing up on Whittier Avenue, he would often annoy me as we watched a favorite TV show, turning up the intensity of provocation until I either said ENOUGH, BILL! or began to annoy him back. Most of the time, that was enough to get him to stop. And based on the program director’s explanation to me about a year or so ago, I wonder if WUIS is simply trying (as they did once before) to annoy listeners to the point of reacting with a complaint, not from some out of work writer with a blog, but LARGE numbers of listeners with respectable tax returns and annual station fund raiser checks to match.

If you are a listener of that type, please accept my invitation to visit the station’s web site and share your reactions in this, the winter of our discontent. For now, I’m not inclined to because I’m not a check-writing supporter.

And in the meantime, I’m listening to my wonderful CD collection during most local programming. Why?
Because in my home office, I cannot get a strong signal from WILL Radio in Urbana-Champaign.

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