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A Piano Riff To Make You Smile

I’ve mentioned it before (here and here) but when you’re really exhausted and down and sort of looking for the end of the rope so you can tie a knot in it and hang on for dear life and your random music stream is sort of puttering along with blah blah blah tunes, load up Supertramp’s “Child of Vision.” Turn it up to about a 7 and get into it. Sing along. Close your eyes. (Not if you’re driving! Jeez, how stupid are you?) Get ready. It’s coming. Got your finger on the volume?

There it is. About 3:37. The piano solo, one of the all time greats.

Punch that volume!

Sure, you’re wearing the good headphones and your ears may start to bleed a bit. Or you’ve got the big speakers on and the people in the next county will complain when they see you at the Denny’s on Sunday morning.

Not to worry. It’s worth it.

The rhythms and back and forth between the different lines at about 5:35? They’ll have you playing along with those imaginary black & whites that only you can see on the edge of your desk. What, you say that you can’t play a note? On this you can – I won’t tell.

Ah, there’s the saxophone  counterpoint as it starts to fade out. Sweet.

Hit “repeat.”

What, that was already the fourth or fifth listen in a row. Okay, if you must. Let it go and see what the Shuffle brings up next.

“Travel Suite – Happy ‘Cause I’m Coming Home” from Chicago. One of the best flute solos this side of “Thick As A Brick.”

For a few brief minutes here in my head it’s going to be okay.

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Tied Up Again

Damn it, brain got hijacked again, busy doing too much too fast.

QUICK! Three minutes late, post something quick, hope no one notices. (The folks in Hawaii won’t, they’re three hours behind us to begin with…)

I got nothing, brain’s still reconciling Square deposits and bank accounts.

Sorry. Sue me. I’ll give everyone refunds…

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White Knight’s Response

When confronted with the Red Queen’s Race, where one must run into the wind as fast as one can just to stay in the same place and to get anywhere one must run twice as fast, perhaps the response is to remember the lesson of the sticks and strings.

Instead of running, go flying.

It’s an SNJ-5, a WWII era trainer. The SNJ designation was for Navy aircraft, but the exact same plane used by the Army Air Corp was called a Texan, and if the exact same plane was used by the English or Australians or Canadians it was a Harvard.

Where the magic happens! It’s a fully functional trainer, with a matching set of controls and instruments in the back and in the front. This is the back seat. We use it for training in addition to offering rides in it. With luck (and a little bit of available free time) I’ll be training in it in a year or so so that I can fly it myself. We’ll see.

The view forward from the back seat is somewhat restricted.

The back seat is reserved for grinning idiots who are inordinately pleased to be in a plane again, even if I’m not the PIC.

The truth is that at least once a month I get offered a ride by one or another of our pilots, all of whom know that I’m cranky if I spend all day sitting at my desk doing “financial shit.” (That’s a technical, accounting term. Don’t use it at home.) And every time, because I’m always being buried under work and deadlines, I always politely decline.

Today I had just written something in the last twelve hours about not having fun. And I was “strongly encouraged” to find something fun to do this weekend, even if I was being buried. So I went!

Waiting to take off, there was a hawk sitting on the wind sock. In fact, there were a LOT of hawks out there today. There was one point where we were waiting to taxi after landing and I was watching at least seven or eight of them at once off to the side of the runway, chasing each other. (Which, now that I think of it, may well be a euphemism for why there are so many hawks…)

Here’s Camarillo from about 900 feet on final approach.

All we were doing was “pattern work” – taking off and doing a series of left turns in a long, squarish oval which ended up with us making a landing at the other end of the runway we took off from. Four trips around the pattern, one a “touch & go” which is always fun.

On the downwind leg, here’s my weekend office. The CAF ramp and four hangars in an “L” shape are where I’ve taken a few hundred of the pictures you’ve seen here over the years.

It was a really nice day for flying, but a little warm in the cockpit. As you can see, it’s a very nice little greenhouse.

Back in the hangar at the end of the day. I was staying late because I still had to get all of my “financial shit” done, but it was so much worth it! Thanks for the ride, Matt!!


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Charger Girls

I’ll have you know you’re getting this only because the entire day, and especially this evening, has TOTALLY gotten away from me. I’ve spent the day in a whirlwind like a juggler with one too many balls in the air and tonight I’ve been on a “mission from God” to get something reconciled for my work at the CAF hangar. Suddenly it’s 23:48…

This is the fourth time I’ve been to a Chiefs vs. Chargers game in the last few years. Twice we went down to San Diego to see them, and now both this year and last year I’ve seen them here. One thing that fascinates me (and not necessarily in the way you might assume) is the cheerleaders at these pro football games.

Yes, they’re not wearing much, and while I’m sure that many of these young ladies are bright and motivated and well educated and so on – that’s obviously not what’s on display here.

Isn’t this something that’s just a tad outdated, and in a sort of hideous way?

On television you see a few closeups going into and coming out of commercial breaks – when you’re at the game you see the cheerleaders trying to entertain (or at least distract) during those long, boring pauses when the television networks are selling beer, or cars, or credit card services. And they’re forced to be constantly moving, jiggling their pom poms (literally, not a euphemism), posing, strutting, smiling…

It’s all so forced and artificial and sad!

But best of all when you see it live are the handlers, coaches, or whatever the hell their titles are. See the woman here in the blue dress? Each quarter of the whole squad, each team or subgroup of cheerleaders has one of these women following them around. I’m sure they’re all radioed up so that they can coordinate with someone to make sure that they all get to where their next performance is at the next commercial, but during the interstitial periods when they’re all just lined up like robots, jiggling, posing, strutting, smiling, these women walk along behind them and whisper in their ears.

What are they saying?

“You’re not jiggling enough – pick up the pace.”

“Smile more.”

“Throw out that chest a bit more.”

“Straighten that leg, point that toe, toss your hair more…”

The more I watched the less entertained I got. I guess the “art” was just lost on me.

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Repair Order #2297

It was Hissy‘s turn to go get some well-baby care – oil change, filter, tire rotation, that sort of thing. To keep her frisky and pretty, don’t you know!

It was fascinating first of all to find that this particular dealer doesn’t have their own shuttles to get you to work any more after you drop off your vehicle for service. Instead, they have some sort of a contract with Lyft. So instead of having a van (maybe two) plus the maintenance, wear and tear, insurance, gas, a couple of employee drivers along with their benefits and payroll taxes, they pay (I’m guessing) something on the order of $5 to $10 per customer to have someone else do the heavy Lyfting.

When I got my MBA a decade back (oh, dear god, has it been that long??!!) I was always fascinated by industries being disrupted and turned upside down by things that didn’t even exist less than a decade ago. This is a great example. I wish I had the time to run some numbers and see how this works.

This afternoon when I came back to pick Hissy up there was a different issue to deal with.

As I came into the cashier’s office there were three or four service dudes discussing a maintenance issue with someone who was “obviously” very important. From the type of vehicle and the way they were kissing his ass, one can assume he had some big bucks and everyone knew it.


More of my concern was the small child, presumably his son, maybe four or five years old. Bright kid, very involved with making sure that EVERYONE in the room knew how bright he was. He might have also just snorted a five pound bag of white refined sugar.

As I came in he ran over to the unlocked and open cabinet where the keys were kept for all the cars being worked on at this particular dealership. And started grabbing keys out of it. At random. Keys that did not belong to him or his father.

Another time we can debate why they mounted that key rack so low to the ground. Or why it was unlocked. Or why it was open. What I wanted to know, besides whether or not anyone was ever going to bother to help me pay for my car and get the hell out of there, was why no one at all was trying to stop this kid.

One guy finally did (the father was totally oblivious to the chaos being caused by his spawn), by which time Kid Sugar had found what he was looking for – a set of keys that looked exactly like his Dad’s. He had found Dad’s keys! Wasn’t he special and bright and wonderful?

Except that Dad already had his keys. And pretty much all Honda keys for every car in their line with the “smart” keys look exactly the same. (I guess the kid isn’t smart enough to know that!)

The designated chaser kept trying to be ever so polite and correct and non-confrontational as the brat decided that he was going to go out and find Dad’s car now that he had Dad’s keys. They managed to keep the kid in the office instead of letting him escape into the wild with some stranger’s car keys, but no one could do what was necessary to get the keys back from the kid.

Then he ran by me (it was sort of like watching one of those televised car chases that LA loves so much and being one of the people who runs out and waves while the helicopters and police all stream by) and I noticed the little paper ID tag on the keys:

I was still just inside the door of the office, near a window, and I could see Hissy sitting out on the lot (buttoned up tight in the full sun at 103°F, an classic exercise in the greenhouse effect, thank you very much!) with the service tag hanging from the rear view mirror:

Where’s the legendary Vince when you really need him? Just to make sure, I checked the receipt I had in my shirt pocket:

Yep, the little Donald Trump in training had stolen MY keys and was running around the office with them!

I blocked the door so Demon Child couldn’t make an exit on his next lap and finally got the attention of one of the other service dudes who was busy being bored out of his mind, consumed with his dudeness. I politely pointed to the running child and asked that the keys be taken away from him. I was told not to worry about it. I pointed out that I had a vested interest and if no one else was going to physically grab the kid and take the keys away, I most certainly would when he next came by me. Then they could deal with whether or not Mr. Important could deal with the fact that I wasn’t going to kiss his ass, or nominate him for Parent of the Year.

I must have looked sincere (or threatening, although I find that very hard to believe) since they proceeded to finally corral the kid when he paused long enough to try to give my keys to his dad. His dad was still ignoring him but was finally convinced to show the kid that he already had his keys in his hand, so the ones the kid had must be someone else’s. The kid finally gave the keys back to the service dude – who of course didn’t give them to me or help me pay and get out of there, but at least it was progress.

Ten minutes later I had finally gotten finished with my thirty seconds of paying and signing and I was told to go into the lounge and someone would go find my car and bring it around. I might have done just a bit of an eye roll and taken in a deep breath and counted backwards from ten in German (you’re supposed to count silently and slowly as in meditation, but I find that doing it as “ZEHN!NEUN!ACHT!SIEBEN!SECHS!FÜNF!VIER!DREI!ZWEI!EINS!!” is more effective), but then I pointed out to the cashier that my car was right there (pointing out the window) and the keys were right there (pointing to the box) and I would love to get out of there and back to my office.

She had seen some of the chase and chaos and took pity upon me. She got the keys, looked out the window to make sure I wasn’t blocked in, and then said, “Oh, YOU’RE the one with the ‘HISSY’ plates! That’s so funny!”

I can’t wait to get their customer satisfaction survey. That’s going to be a real E-ticket!


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One Foot In Front Of The Other – August 29th

Some days it’s all we have.

Watch a video of a mob of golden retriever puppies trying to lick a toddler to death.

Watch to an excellent TED Talk.

Remember the first time you watched one of your all-time favorite videos put to one of your all time favorite pieces of music.

Or share something back with me and the rest of us.

Some days each other is all we have.

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West & East

When it’s getting golden in the west…

…the trees light up in the east.

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