Archive for September, 2008

Good bye, flying 183d FW!

Good bye, flying 183d FW!

I was privileged to be one of a handful of media people on hand September 23 when Lt. Col. John Patterson walked by us, wordlessly, on his way out to the last 183d Fighter Wing F-16 at the far end of the ramp. It was parked about as far away from us as you could park an F-16 and still having it sitting on 183d concrete. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There may have been security and safety concerns. From our vantage point, the airplane was in shadow — the sun shone on the other side of it. This positioning meant we could not see the tail number of the airplane which had been stripped of all markings that identified it as a 183d airplane. That was not necessarily a bad thing. Of what interest are tail numbers to Springfield media?

For an aviation historian, the tail number has greater meaning. There is only one airplane in the US Air Force (USAF)  which has the tail number reported by John Reynolds in the SJ-R Wednesday. It’s as important as the name “Spirit of St. Louis” on the Ryan monoplane Lindbergh flew to Paris. There were two airplanes built to “Spirit of St. Louis” specifications, so the name means a lot, the way “tail number 292” means a lot when talking about F-16s. The tail number painted on USAF aircraft consists of the the last two numbers of the fiscal year in which the airplane’s construction was funded, small numbers (about 2 inches tall) that appear before the last three numbers (about six inches tall) of the USAF serial number assigned. Military personnel refer to particular airplanes by the last three because they are easy to see, and they’re usually the only bird on the ramp with that number. In theory, an F-16 funded in 1985, whose serial ends in 103, let’s say, could share the ramp with an F-16 funded in 1986, whose serial ends in 103, but it’s a rare event.

To an aviation historian, tail numbers matter, and if they don’t matter to Springfield media, that’s okay because this is my city and the 183d have earned my admiration and immutable respect. Splitting hairs over tail numbers is for aviation historians. They are the ones who should know that “292” is not the tail number painted on the F-16 that departed Springfield September 23.

Captain Sonja Gurski, Colonel Michael Meyer and the other 183d people were nicer than textbook courteous to the media retinue. No question was unanswered. Col. Meyer stayed late talking at length with WMAY’s Mark Toma and posed for a few pictures after that. After it was all over, I presented Col. Meyer with an autographed copy of my book Springfield Aviation and expressed my hope that he would tell others about it. I thanked him for his service to the cause of freedom and for his courtesy during the media interlude.

This picture of F-16C (87-296) has been solarized to increase the contrast. No other alteration was made. Other pictures of the event will be posted at http://www.aeroknow.com in the week ahead.

Thanks to the men and women of the 183d Fighter Wing for hosting media September 23, and allowing us to witness this historic event.

Fly well . . . . . and proper.


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If someone had held a candle flame one inch from John McCain’s mouth during his appearance on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, I don’t believe his exhaled breath would have reached it. And it probably would have left a nasty burn on the bottom of his nose, but that’s another matter entirely. You get my point.

If the pitch of his voice had been just a little lower throughout the interview, very nicely engaged by George S., whales in the North Atlantic would have heard him and tried to talk back. (Whales communicate with each other over large distances using ultra-low frequency sounds. I saw it on PBS.)

I wish nothing but good health for the man. I hope he has another 30 years of life; more if wants to live that long. Nothing would satisfy me more than to have his family share their days generously with him and for books he has and has not written to sell in the millions following what I hope will be his loss to Barack Obama in November.

If his demeanor and voice are the result of injuries received during his heroic service to the cause of freedom during the Vietnam War, I apologize to any reader who was legitimately offended by my remarks. But if they are not, I hope readers will consider the demeanor and passion of a gentleman who appears to be held upright by the starch in his suit and the aplomb demonstrated to Katie Couric earlier this week by McCain’s chosen successor to the most important elected office in the free world. More aplomb of that kind, and she’d have appeared as a former beauty contestant dazzled by bright lights, shiny thing-a-ma-jigs and offensive questions by journalists with big fat resumes . . . . . .  which, of course, she is.

I know Joe Biden made some extemporaneous gaffs too this week, but I can see the logic and humanity behind those gaffs. No upstart moose dresser is going to get more mileage from pathetic incapacity than a seasoned Foreign Relations Chairman with a 30 year record of prowess and success who should hear what he says before he says it and then not say it. Biden knows better, but he also knows media attention for words delivered off the cuff in hasty informality . . . . . well that’s still media attention, and he values ANY attention. Perhaps there will be more important flickering shinies for the media to regale viewers with in the week ahead. Where Biden and Palin acturally stand on what really matters . . . . . well perhaps that will become evident (self-evident if you prefer to prefer) Thursday night.

I hope so.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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If you knew Vivian Eveloff and of her death last July, the publication of her excellent obituary on page 14 of the Sunday State Journal-Register was likely as much a surprise to you as it was to me.

It’s am impressive obituary; it seems to me longer than the one published last summer, easily a full-length column and a half with a fine picture to boot. I saved the first one in my arts news archive –not as big as AeroKnow’s aviation compendium, but fast-growing, none-the-less — and I will save this one as well. The more said about that talented artist and generous citizen, the better.

Dave Bakke’s fine column about Donna Ruyle saving her husband Gaylen’s ashes in a wind chime was a better timed affirmation. I knew Gaylen and Donna when I was in the thick of the local poetry action — meaning open mic readings at IMO’S Pizza and elsewhere — and enjoyed hs way of sharing stories sprinkled with gentle humor, the way Bill Cosby might with the same material. Donna was — and likely still is — one of the most underrated poets of this community. If you’ve never seen a mountain move — the imposing countenance of a stout, resolute, patient and loving matriarch with a special way with words — you have not seen Donna Ruyle read her poetry.

And while my head’s in my favorite daily noosepepper, what the heck is happening with running man and fellow blogger Dan Naumovich? Did you see his story on star look-alikes? He’s going HOLLYWOOD on us! We’ll soon be calling him “Manny Hartman!” All seriousness aside, BRAVO Danmeister for a breath of whimsy and fresh air.

I haven’t looked at the Funnies section yet. I’m saving them to read after Meet the Press and “This Week with George the Greek.”  I dread the encounter with John McCain on MtP but I’m quaffing extra coffe as I gird my mental loins for the encounter. I will cleanse my soul with Opus, after GtG closes his excellent show, and try to play catch up with my life for the rest of the day.

I’m so far on the back side of AeroKnow it’s pathetic. Made some decent progress Saturday. Didn’t leave the hoose. Won’t leave the hoose today, Will wander between approaching senile lethargy and resentful piddling in the form of moderately contructive activity, lucky to have food, coffee and iced tea in the place, and a necessary, minimum resolution to carry on the fight. What fight? If you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand. You will understand if you are blessed with life beyond 60. But that’s another blog. Don’t get me started.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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Last February I told the world of my dismay the day my Sharp microwave oven quit. At the time, it felt as though I had lost an appendage, and in a way I had. It cooked many a baked potato, chicken breast and countless cups of caffeine. It was “Mr. Reliable,” to coin a phrase, a friend and kitchen companion since 1992 through three changes of residence, and now it was no mower.

For about two weeks of semi-comatose recovery, I heated instant coffee water in a stove-top sauce pan. The cheap “Made in Alaska” hot pot (just kidding!) I purchased at CVS Pharmacy stopped heating and became landfill after two months. During that interlude I could never lose the curious aftertaste of moose in every cup I had quaffed. My luck was better with the replacement purchased from County Market.

Flash foreward . . . . . Dateline September 22. While transiting a storage room at mon employeur I saw an almost-new microwave sitting idle and asked if I could trade some hours for it. No problemo as they sayo in the barrio. That night I discovered it was most of an inch too tall to fit between counter top and cabinets, so I took it back. When I realized the mircrowave in the employee break room was about an inch shorter, The Man — I’ll call him George (his real name) said I was welcome to exchange one for the other. After a grueling day and three more hours at Citizens Police Academy I successfully installed it, and by GORRY, it FIT! Hallelu Halleluyo!

I heated water for my first cup of microwaved Instant Folger’s this morning, and it was delicious. Not a hint of moose!

I’ve not dined on a baked potato since last February. Every chicken that sashayed down my gullet has come from the rotisseries at County Market, Shop ‘n’ Save or Schnuck’s. The latter deserves special mention, not because it tasted so good, but because it was packed so green. By that I mean, with consideration of packaging resources.

County Market baked chickens come in a shallow plastic pan topped with a clear plastic dome.  Shop ‘n’ Save’s come in an opaque, whitish,  deep plastic “bucket”  topped by a reverse of the County Market design, a shallow, clear plastic top. All of this is moulded plastic, and it’s just thick enough and strong enough not to pop completely apart along the seal as long as it lies perfectly level and unstressed in the plastic grocery bag going home. If either sits slightly not level and the bag shifts to a significant tilt, the juices arrive home in the bag and the bird remains secure and dry in the moulded container. The TERRIFIC thing about Schnuck’s chickens is that they wait under counter glass at the store’s convenience food area. When a customer asks for one, the bird is placed into a heavy-gauge plastic bag that is far less expensive and imposing on world petroleum AND for a food item that won’t likely spend more than 48 hours in the kitchen, it makes excellent sense. The only regrettable part of the ensemble is the price: $6.97 for a baked chicken the size of a cornish hen! CHEESES! Even so, I’m compelled to BRAVO the packaging. Nice work!

The microwave marks a slight move in the right direction for my life. My Arcadia book, on sale all over Springfield,  is another move in the right direction. If you have not felt the satisfaction of seeing the book YOU WROTE gracing book store shelves in popular places (including every Walgreen’s in town and hobby shops in Springfield and Des Plaines, Illinois, I recommend it.  I hope you are blessed to know that satisfaction.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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A Republican president, a good man with the integrity and moral fibre of Jimmy Carter, Illinois Senators Paul Simon and Richard Durbin reminded the American people when he ascended into the White House following Nixon shameful exit that he was “a Ford; not a Lincoln.” The phrase came back to me after watching the US Treasury director on Meet the Press and This Week and dodging #43’s snippy warning Wednesday night. (I heard all I cared to hear of the swaggering puppet during the late night radio news.) I am amazed that so many American have learned so little from our country’s “mighteous righteous Caesars'” behavior over the past seven years that they give #43 and HP more than a passing glance.

HP refused to promise the top securities execs would be punished or even face salary reductions for their reckless croneyism that created the mess we’re in. He refused to suggest any scenario that would follow his failure to succeed in his “secret plan” and petulantly asked for a blank check. No one is stating what additional measures are likely to follow the implimentation of his grand strategy. All that’s missing from their siren song is a little stanza about “newculer wepins” lurking in the national treasury.

I have heard this performance before. Haven’t you? If we have not learned the peril of swallowing that bilge water without holding its servers to a certain consequence of accountability, what the blazes have we learned?

Are those nodding timidly in harmony with this demented drum corps afraid of being called unpatriotic? What is more unpatriotic than failure to consider all aspects, all options? There is no “yellow cake” on Wall Street.

The evangelista elite seem to believe “when there’s a ‘shrill,” there’s a way. How sad it will be if our leaders fail to think through this circumstance. No one disputes the dire nature. But you know, if you see your car is heading for a collision with a freight train and THAT doesn’t motivate you to put on your seat belt before impact. . . . if you see gross infractions in the banking and securities system as it is and you decide NOT to fix those as we approach the precipice of unhappy consequence . . . . if you don’t insist on bringing a new fire extinguisher into the kitchen as the aroma of burning pig fat fills your nostrils, when WILL you face the entrenched disdain for “the little people” that festers like an open wound on your leg and fix the wrongs?

Don’t let the house burn down and then MAYBE buy the new fire extinguisher.  Don’t let a clear view of our nation’s financial options be obscured by a burning Bush. It’s not a righteous option. It’s as easy to “get religion” with two healthy legs as it is after you lose one.

Hasty action of any kind should not be considered until we demand and receive overdue reform. and all sides are considered.  Hasty action is not the way of democracy: it reeks of “Rushin'” to me; doesn’t it to you as well  . . . . . Vladimir?

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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A Mystery
   — by Job Conger

A mystery to me?
is the force?
which induces some people?
to speak in questions?
even when?
they’re not asking anything?

They end – nearly –
every phrase?
with a sing-song curly-cue
change of pitch?
which grates on some ears?
than the proverbial
BAD ho DISsin CHU Pock dude YO?
(ne nu na-nu  na-nu  na-nu?)

Yet, there is only one part of modern society?
maligned for consistently talking like this?
and it isn’t the Brotherhood of Jackie Mason impersonators?
and it isn’t pubescent young ladies and those who think like them?
Something of a shame it is —
about a one and seven eighths on a scale of 10? —
that the only ones who are not tolerated?
by most of modern society
when they talk this way?
are the poets.

written 4:06 pm, June 12, 2003 and published in
Bear’ sKin  by Job Conger

Live long . . . . . . . and proper?

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It was a nutty week. I no longer harbor cozy vanities that my opinion about anything matters unless it matters to someone who asks me for it. I’ve found it hard to think about writing about the world in any tone that would not violate (or as #43 would say, vilate) my vow of no more sarcasm. So I’ve had a huffy, pouty week with more than my share of small victories but few joys. I began writing Honey & Quinine to tell friends, Romulans and countrypersons about my LIFE, and that is what I shall try to focus on in the time zahead.

For a single guy with no child support, girlfriend or aging parent, I’m a heck of a busy married mother’s son. For the first time in a while the day dawned sunny, I had no obligations to anyone, and as the day concludes Sunday, I have spoken not one word to a hummin; bean over the past two days. Not even over the phone. I hate to say I enjoyed myself today, but I did, even though I believe I am an extrovert. I LOVE the company of intelligent people love the world more than they despise it. But I needed today to catch up on things I’ve neglected for almost three weeks.

My flood plain of “life outlook” doesn’t drain after a withering drenching like a kitchen sink empties after washing dishes. After the water stops falling from the sky, it lies still, stagnant, fetid with the rotting reside of words loosed wisely or unwisely.  Often for days I slosh around in it. It clings to my clothes and between my toethes. . . . . and all I touch as I navigate my journey is touched by it as well. Eventuallllllllllllllllllllllllly it dries, the stench disappears, and while it remains with me less and less, every now and then I shake my head and a small crawdad falls out of my ear; another morsel of remorse or morse, returned to the wayfaring tide of life.

The weekend was drying time again. Saturday I caught up with tidying the arrangement of aviation materials in the basement, carrying clippings, model kits, shelves and laundry like a drone making probably 20 times as many trips as needed because I decided it was better to ACT when I saw something and thought something than complicate matters by delaying and then combining trips. By the end of the morning I was amazed by how well it all had worked. God knows I don’t mind climbing stairs: the exercise was good for me.

Today I’ve made real progress with the book sales records, web site updating and filing a myriad papers in the home office. Wrote an apology to a distant  friend to compliment a Friday gesture made to a friend across the street.

I was lucky earlier this week to BUY a new refrigerator for the resident upstairs. Rather than delay action needed, I embraced it, and all is well for now.

Umbrage Universal, my other blog, has seen nothing new from me in weeks. With any luck, and a slow day at work tomorrow, I shall return to that blog, so visit Wednesday if you care to visit.

I’m not becoming a hermit or even an old fart. I am a sentient being who cherishes law-abiding kindred conviviality wherever I can find it.

The search resumes tomorrow.

Live long . . . . .  and proper.

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