So, to all… Happy New Year!
01 January 2014
So, to all… Happy New Year!
01 May 2013
This has really struck a nerve with me. I first heard about it shortly after it happened back on the 29th.
Even before the video, eye-witness descriptions pointed to a load shift.
Then the video came out.
And reportedly, air traffic control communications reporting the pilot said he had a load shift.
These pilots do some fantastic flying. All the way to the ground. They never quit. You can actually see it...
Part of what bothers/ed me is the critical importance of doing even the 'small jobs'. And attention to detail.
The pilots are highly trained, a crew of seven... loads of
experience... but, it likely came down to whether or not someone used
the correct type of chain/strap or tightened it down correctly on the
vehicles in the cargo deck.
The very moment the plane started to
climb, it was doomed, because the cargo shifted, rolled backwards,
thrust the plane onto its tail making it nigh impossible to control.
And yet, the best part, is that the pilots didn't QUIT. They may have
known they were doomed, but they kept trying. A book I love uses the
quote, "I've tried A, I've tried B, I've tried C!" showing how you don't
give up all the way down.
And for a beast of a plane loaded
with cargo, way outside of its design limits, they ALMOST do it. To the
untrained/unfamiliar eye, the plane looks like it's falling from the
sky, as controlled as an autumn leaf. But these pilots, and they ARE
piloting that whale, do the amazing following steps:
Recognize the Stall
Overcome ALL human instinct in a stall situation close to the ground
and begin to aim the plane AT the ground to recover (a very key point of
training - had they done differently, the video would have been much
The left wing wobbles, dips as the stall begins. They recover the left wing stall rolling into a right wing stall.
It begins. But, with the wings now both stalled, and then recovered, a
spin starts. They kick the rudder hard, turn her... and get wings
level and ready to begin accelerating to recover flight.
Nose down a
bit to start accelerating right when the precious margin between
aircraft and ground ran out. The maxim 'Altitude is Life' is as
timeless as aviation itself. With altitude, you have time... you can
make it happen.... but, they just ran out.
With all of their
incredible aviating, and IF ONLY for a couple thousand more feet... they
might have made it. Or at least, to start solving the next part of the
problem.... getting the crippled bird back onto the ground in one
piece. But, somewhere... one person shortcutted. (Truth be told: in
aviation, there's never ONE cause, there's a chain, but universally, if
you can break that chain anywhere, then you can avoid it... so, there
may be many causes, but any one could have stopped it.)
civilians don't get the military honors. They don't get the "Thank you
for your service." They don't get any of the glory or anything that our
uniformed brethren get. Yet, without their support and their efforts,
we couldn't do it. And they are volunteers as much as we are.
There's not likely going to be a Missing Man Formation of 747s (wouldn't
that be a sight?), nor any ceremonies. The families will deal with
But to you Aviators, what to the vast majority of
the viewing world seems like sixty seconds of sheer terror was likely
sixty seconds of amazing professionalism and solid performance. I'm in
22 April 2013
the past weekend, I wrote about how it was fundamentally critical to
us, as Americans, to ensure that we enshrine our rights. We must make
sure that these rights are there when they are difficult - for the
Marathon bomber, for the Westboro Baptist Church, for the Second
Amendment, for everyone we disagree with, etc.
We press for
these rights for others because while we talk and debate others losing
their rights, we boast and are sure that OUR rights will never be
threatened. We're Americans, and it'll never happen here.
Or... could it?
Maybe just a tiny right, in the interest of a Greater Good, and who would really mind? "If you have nothing to hide..."
Innocent people dragged from their homes at the point of a gun,
frisked, escorted down the street, while they wait for their homes to be
searched without a warrant...
But, but... we had to find the
bomber! And, certainly, there IS a definite concern there. I'm one
who wants to find the guy who's blowing up people. BUT, don't we have a
way to do that? Judge issues warrants, authorizing police to only
search and seize just the person they're looking for? Maybe the police
have to ask first? Still, how intimidated do you feel when you open the
door and see a shotgun pointed at you? CAN you say no? What happens
if you do? And for all of you/us who say, "Ain't no one coming in my
house without a warrant!" ok... fine, and what happens when we show our
shotgun to the 20+ heavily armed, trigger-itchy cops outside?
So, with that in mind...
Here's why we, as Americans, must... MUST fight for the rights of each
and EVERY one of us, whether we like or agree with people or not:
21 April 2013
If a brutal crime occurs, we have to let the criminal justice system work its wonders, even sometimes when we watch someone go free.
We have to listen to the most hateful speech we can ever imagine - the KKK, Westboro Baptist Church, we have plenty of examples - and we not only listen to them, but we DEFEND their right to speak. Yes, their RIGHT to speak.
The Bill of Rights exists so that our rights aren't subject to the whims of politicians.
It's not easy.
It's incredibly difficult. It challenges our emotional responses. We WANT our visceral pleasure - to see the criminal viciously tortured, the hate group muzzled, and other scums of society that deserve not one bit of our love, our friendship, our charity, but every bit of our democratic support.
I am often surprised (not really) by how often I see people quote Martin Niemöller, yet then cry out for squashing the rights of those they deem unacceptable. Or fellow military members who've sworn oaths promising to protect and defend the Constitution, but then leave comments promising blood oaths of violence against the very people needing those Constitutional protections.
America and her Freedoms is not an easy idea; she is difficult and needs constant protection and vigilance. When we stop protecting those Freedoms, then the bright radiance of our shining city on a hill dims a little bit, until one day... we fade into the darkness.
19 April 2013
02 April 2013
For the past six years, I have worn many labels. I am a cancer widow. I am a cancer research advocate. I am a supporter for all things to do with cancer awareness. I walk every year in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I tell my wife's story. I tell our family's story. I never miss a beat.
But still, I never quite have that connection, do I? I've seen it in some eyes of survivors or current cancer warriors - the "But, do you really know what it's like?" look. I would wager that with the scars I carry, I do. But then, each of us in this horrific war is scarred and in so many individual ways, and each is no less traumatic than the next. It's not a competition to be won, after all.
About a month ago, that all changed. I started to feel a tenderness in my right breast. And then a slight pain behind my right nipple. Believe me, no one was more surprised than I. As much as I can quote the statistics and slogans about how breast cancer is not just a woman's disease and how men get it, too, and how one of my favorite pink ribbons is the one with blue tip... yes, I was not ready for this surprise.
And certainly, what guy is? So, a week later, as the pain intensified and steadily became more and more present, and the tiny knot became more of a definite lumpish feeling, I began to practice what I preached. There in the shower, I performed my first Breast Self Exam. I didn't like the results.
Luckily, I'd already had an appointment scheduled with my primary care physician. So, by the time I saw her, this new growth had been there about a month. It was always there, always painful. How could this be good?
And I was beginning to wonder if perhaps I wasn't beginning to think myself into a tizzy. Since I was such an advocate, was I making it come true? Was this some weird case of hypochondria? This was all in my head as I approached my doctor's appointment. That and... how do I, as a guy, bring this up? Since I work in the medical field, I decided to just be straight forward and professional.
03 February 2013
It's been too long since I've visited the Cathedral. Sure, it's actually only been about two months, yet it feels so much longer than that. I sit here in my pew, weary... My face turned upwards. I see another angel streaking across the sky. It's been too long. I should come to the Cathedral more often, and why don't I? I have no excuse not to. The Angels call to me... ...I should come more. For the Peace I feel is deep and transformative. With the Angel's wings, my weights are lifted. Before, I felt exhausted. Now, I feel exciting Joy. The Cathedral reaches into my very soul. It gives voice to my favorite verse from the Bible - the one that's truly leapt from the pages when I first read the book cover to cover many many years ago. Anyway, for someone who is so intricately connected to temporal landmarks, I'm not sure why the Cathedral felt so distant when I had visited so recently. Yet, no matter, for I am here and for however briefly, I am renewed. I come and pray more often.