Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back Home II

Back from my excellent adventure and then a six day 4,200 mile trip to SW Florida. Nice, drama free trip other than traffic jams in major cities and construction/paving. Whenever I'm in the South I get reminded of the power and intensity of Southern rain storms. Almost prefer a Wyoming ground blizzard. Best thing in the South? The people! Manners are still alive.

The boss keeps sending me on these trips. Is it because of my great skills? Or, "Honored Citizen" status, AAA, NRA, American Legion, etc., memberships that get motel discounts?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Outsourcing Jobs - Is There No Limit??

China now has the worst traffic jams in the world. One takes 36 hours to negotiate. Excellent planning to be sure.

Having driven I -70 Eastbound through Kansas City today, I find no improvement over the other four times I've driven it this year. I do believe the planning for these "improvements" must have been outsourced to the crack team of planners in China.

My profound sympathy to those residents who endure this daily.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fool's Excellent Adventure

This past week, went to Washington State to pick up a “free” motor home. This blog will be long and rambling but will tie into the “Fool” title of this blog.

My long time friend, Dirty Al, used his windfall to purchase a magnificent 45’ diesel pusher Prevost Liberty motor home. He gave me his current motor home with the stipulation I moved it from his location by 8/21/10. Background here:

This trip ended up involving the use of three different bus systems, two airlines, two light rail systems, a taxi company, and the Washington State Ferry System. This meant I was subject to the policies and performance of multiple peoples I have no control over. Not something part of my skill set; at least, rarely used.

First was the ride to the airport on the regional bus system. The only trip available put me at the airport two hours early. Next, Alaska Airlines to SEA.
Fortunately, the plane had just three vacant seats. Otherwise, Alaska would have delayed it under some pretext until they had a revenue load. At SeaTac, had a great cell phone conversation with NFO Caught the light rail to downtown. Senior fare just $1.25. More on light rail later. Near Boeing Field, watched Air Force One pass over. The ONE came into town for a fund raiser, etc., for Senator Murray. I’m sure the Democratic Party was picking up the tab for the trip! Not the first time I’ve seen Air Force One but it is the first time I’ve seen the plane looking dingy; not gleaming as in the past.

Downtown for the rental car; 60% less than at the airport. Picked up my son and had a wonderful day. Next day turned in the rental car, used the Seattle bus system to get to the ferry terminal and took the ferry to Bremerton where I met Dirty Al. We had a great afternoon and evening. The next morning my dawn departure in the motor home took place about 11:30. 170 miles later, things got very interesting.

Being ranch raised and spending many years in the car business, I am accustomed to dealing with vehicles with problems. Al had some carburetor problems, probably the float, and the fuel would drain out if not run daily. This made the vehicle hard to start. Also, the idle was set too low, or idled too slow because of internal carburetor problems. Fool that I am, I took off anyway. Just approaching The Dalles, OR, the engine started running wide open. The foot feed had no effect. The over revving threw off one fan belt. I exited I 84 and started negotiating stop signs, etc. by “blipping” the engine with the ignition switch like it was a rotary engine and using the brakes and managed to get parked safely.

Some two hours later, I found a place to store the beast and got it safely to the storage facility. The storage owner expressed some interest in the beast. An interested buyer and a motivated seller is a beautiful thing. The motor home is now his problem.

Greyhound comes through The Dalles at 4:20 am. Caught some sleep in the motor home and had the local taxi take me to the bus stop. Greyhound now requires you to have a ticket; the driver cannot sell you one. If you don’t have a computer, internet, and a printer for your e-ticket, you are out of luck! I did ride that bus to Portland, OR where I paid my fare. The ticket seller was about as happy as a toll booth attendant after a ten hour shift but the deal got handled.

Light rail to PDX, $.95 for “Honored Citizens”. Family members please note: I am not an “old fart”, I am a “Honored Citizen”. Please address me accordingly. Bought the last seat on the next Frontier flight. Being nice to the hired help pays off. Paid the “ride in the baggage compartment” fare, at the last minute, for a window seat three rows back from the door, with leg room and in flight amenities. The lady said they were having a “special promotion”. Again, family members, I can be charming when needed + the rugged good looks.

Easy flight to Denver at FL38. Pilots maneuvered around the bumpies. For a 1830 arrival on a Denver summer afternoon, it was an unexpected treat.

I like the light rail but can’t help thinking how much it costs to build and the impact on neighborhoods. At least in Seattle, a lot of low income housing was lost. Sure, if a tornado went through Rainer Valley, the headlines would read, “Tornado touches down in Rainier Valley, does $7,000,000 in improvements.” Folks need to live somewhere. Do these systems ever make a profit?

Please don’t think the trip, for me, was a disaster. Disasters are floods, fires, dread diseases, deaths, and not having a terrorist with a SAM when you need one. I got a break in my routine, saw people I care about, spent time in some beautiful country, and had good food and conversations. All the rest was irritants, nothing more. One benefit of being a fool is most things are just petty b.s. Drive on!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Screw You, Overseas Warfighter

Lots of chatter today about States asking for waivers from the MOVE act and suggestions to contact the Pentagon and/or the Department of Justice.

You can read about it at

Far better to put the heat on locally. I live a few blocks from my State Senator and have had many conversations with her. This is the email I sent her.

Dear Senator Hodge,
I am a Brighton resident with a son deploying to Afghanistan.
The MOVE Act signed into law Oct 2009 mandates a minimum of 45 days in which a overseas absentee ballot be sent out. The military had asked for 60 days. There is a provision for states to request a wavier in case of emergency. I am appalled to find Colorado is one of twelve states to request a wavier. What emergency do we have in this state that will prevent timely mailing of absentee ballots?

I will be sending similar emails to my state representative and making a personal visit to my County Clerk and Recorder. This should be a bottoms up issue, not top down.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Car Story

Had a request for another car story.

Before the Big 3 started their own finance companies in the late 50's-early 60's, your friendly local bank wanted a minimum of 1/3 down or more. GMAC had lower requirements. Most dealers would "spot deliver" a new car and then sweat the financing.

My friend Gene had a nice clean Chevy. He would trade it in on a new car and drive the new car until the dealer would call to tell him the financing failed. This was usually a week to ten days. Gene loved the program and got to drive four new cars for a few days.

He then got a 1962 Turbo Corvair. He decided he didn't like it. After two weeks went by, he called the dealership and asked them when he should bring it back. Their response was along the lines of, "Why, Mr. K? Your financing was approved and YOU OWN THE CAR".

The Corvair had a ninety day warranty. On the ninety third day, the turbo went out. In the three years it took Gene to pay for the Corvair, repairs were needed monthly. Thanks in part to Mr. Nadar, he couldn't sell or trade it. His friends were properly sympathetic.

He always had me to laugh at. At various times I had a Fiat, a Hillman, a Renault 16, an AC Bristol, Springer Harley, Airel Square 4, Norton 750 and a 2 cycle Saab. Ah, foolish young men and motor vehicles.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wrong Way Corrigan + Colorado Front Range=Death

Three people dead. Out of state pilot flying a Bonanza from Boulder, CO to Southern California. Tried going West via Corona/Rollins Pass. Bad decision.

Local pilots learn there are passes that should only be attempted Eastbound and passes that should only be attempted Westbound. Visitors need only to ask at any local airport.

You cross a pass at an angle, not straight on, so you can turn ninety degrees to head for lower elevations.

Think your super whizbang 400 can climb? I knew an airline First Officer flying his personal AT-6 who tried Devils Thumb East to West. Lacked 300 feet.

Ah, what is the use. The smart pilots already know this stuff and the arrogant ones won't be bothered.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Great Day

Born today another grand child, my fifth, a 7 lb. 8 oz. boy. Both mother and child are doing well. My son, the medic, participated/assisted with the delivery. What a profound experience that must be.

I am ever so grateful to his chain of command that delayed his deployment for thirty days.