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Everything Happens for a Reason

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

THE GULL HOIST

My Kids always ask me “What did you do during the War Dad?”  Hell,  that was 48 Years ago, any way, Here’s one of my Adventures as I remember it………

I was handed this small grey duffel bag as we walked from the hangar out to the plane. “Whats this?” I asked, “It’s your parachute but don’t worry, we’ll never be high enough for you to use it successfully.” I kind of turned it over looking at all sides of it wondering where I put it on, then on one side I saw this Military lettering that said ” Tinker Air Force Base” “Inspected June of 58”.  “Great” I said under my breath. This is 1966″ I Located the straps stuffed in a fold of the bag, slipped it over my shoulder and proceeded to the Plane. My flights to Subic Bay in the Philippines were always on Navy Aircraft usually a Convair C-131D.  This time I was Flying a C -123 Provider via “Air America”(CIA) because the normal scheduled flight left earlier and was already there.

Convair C-131D C123-small

Convair     C131-D                                                                  Fairchild  C-123

This was my Fifth time of flying to the Philippines to procure Construction items for the Naval Support Activity in Danang, Third time alone. Flying time to Clark Air Force base in the Philippines from Danang Air Base in Vietnam was about 5 -1/2 Hours. 800 Miles, about a half Hour more on the return trip. Sometimes we’d stop in the Parcel Islands to re-fuel. The bus ride from Clark to Subic Bay Naval Base took another Hour, so it was a day wasted in travel since there were days we didn’t leave Danang until after Noon.

Me again

All In house construction ( That done by U.S. Navy Seabee’s) went thru us (Planning and Estimating) as did the Monies for those projects. The Seabee’s handled about 5% of the new construction in Vietnam, the other 95% was contracted thru Civilian Contractors, mostly from the States, South Korea and Japan. Every project had an estimate dollar amount and that amount came out of General Funds for NSA. When a Department needed something new that wasn’t on the Master Plan for NSA, it would come to us for Planning and Estimating and the appropriating of the funds and Materials. In the early years of the Vietnam Conflict, I was one of three project managers who did the Estimating, Planning and appropriating of the funds for projects that had an estimate of over $500,000.00 in the I Core portion of Vietnam. Obtaining signatures, approvals for the labor costs was also my job, plus obtaining, stockpiling and final distribution of material and equipment, for the project, Hence my traveling to Subic Bay for that’s where all of our material and equipment came from. If it originated somewhere else like Japan, Hawaii or the States, it was shipped to Subic Bay first.

Flying over to Subic to obtain equipment for the Support Activity was a lot faster than going thru normal channels of correspondence between us and the supply base. We could walk a request thru in a matter of days and obtain all the signatures needed to purchase what we needed. If the request were to go the normal channels via couriers and Mail , it would take months, plus with me going over there I could confirm that they had what we needed and doing it face to face seemed to make it easier to do business. I just couldn’t get pushy or demanding. I did a lot of Aye Aye Sir and Yes Sir to a lot of Officers.

My Flight over here to Vietnam was onboard a C-141 Starlifter from San Francisco to Tokyo Japan then on to Kadena Air Force on Okinawa. From there to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines then onto Danang Air Force base in Vietnam. The whole trip took about a day and a half. The Starlifter was a 4 engine jet transport of huge proportions with padded seats along the bulkheads of the main cabin. Very comfortable flight and plenty of room to get up and walk around.

c-141b-990868a C-141 interior

Climbing aboard the C-123  aircraft was like entering a railroad boxcar, it was about 1/6 Th the size of the C-141,  it was empty , dirty and the sides were exposed ribbing and sheet metal, there were fold down wooden seats along the side of the fuselage with straps hanging down from the top of the cabin and wooden grating on the floor. It was lacking a lot of TLC, It did have a few portals that let in light. “Grab a seat, we’ll be rolling in a few minutes” the Captain said. The Co-Pilot was about the same age but not as neat in his attire. I sat down in one of the fold down seats then moved down a few till I found one that had a working seat belt. I could hear them talking up front then one of the engines started , then the other. The whole aircraft began to shake, twist, and vibrate immensely, I thought that the damn plane was going to shake apart. The Co-Pilot looked down at me and gave me a thumbs up and I felt us moving. We must have driven around the whole damn airport for what seemed an hour before we stopped. I kept thinking, I should have taken one of those seats by a window. We sat there for about 10 Minutes and then he gunned the engines. My God were going to die. I never seen an aircraft shake so much and it felt like we were rolling down a plank road and noise, terrible loud noises. As I looked down the entire length of this airplane there was not one thing that wasn’t swinging, bouncing or gyrating in the plane. Then all of a sudden it got quiet, It became smooth the plane stopped vibrating and I could feel us climbing. I unbuckled my seat belt and pulled my way over to a window just in time to see us leave the confines of the Airport and head out over the South China Sea. Whew, I said to myself, as I reached for my bag and  grabbed a book and slouched my self down in the seat for the 5 plus Hour flight to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. I don’t think we flew higher than 2000 Ft. above the South China Sea all the way there and I wondered why I was the only passenger on board and when I got up and walked towards the front of the plane and asked the Captain that and why we were flying empty to Subic Bay, he replied, “I was a last-minute addition to the flight, and they were taking the craft back to Subic for overdue Maintenance on its engines.”. “Great, I thought, “Why does this Thought always come into my head at the wrong time, The one where  this inner voice says “Everything happens for a reason.”  Thinking back to when I called the Navy Flight Dispatcher  and stated I needed a flight to Subic, he ask me “How soon can you get here?”  I should have told him tomorrow would be soon enough. The droning from the two engines quickly put me in a napping mood, which I did, figuring, if were going to belly flop in the South China Sea, I don’t want to be awake when it happens.

The landing was about as interesting as the take-off, I was tired and wasn’t as tuned into the noise and vibration as I was when we left. I check-in at the Naval desk in the Terminal and sat and waited for the Navy Bus to Subic Bay. I traveled in my Navy Fatigues and had my Dress Khakis for meetings and a change of skivvies with me for three days. I already felt the need for a shower.  The bus ride from Clark AFB to Subic Bay Naval Support Facilities was pretty decent, a good highway bypassing all the Military Traps of Bars, Whore Houses and Tattoo Parlors of  Olongapo and Zambales and took you directly to the Navy base.. After checking in at the Gate, I took the base cab to the Mess Hall for something to eat then walked over to the Transient Housing, took a shower and bedded down for the night.

Gull Hoist Pt. 2 next

LARGE, PART DEUX updated from Feb. 22, 2013 blog

I came across an article today in a magazine I subscribe to and it really got my attention on how we as a society have changed to accommodate ones physical build. This has taken me most of the Morning to gather up facts, pictures and some old artifacts.  Most of this story has to deal with travel on public transportation the likes of Busses and Trains.

In a recent article in the March edition of “Chicago” Magazine, writer Jeff Ruby aka (The Urbanist) wrote about Chicago’s new fleet of Elevated Rail Cars. ( The Cars from El). In describing the new cars he told of the Modern Seats being 17-1/2″ wide. This got me thinking after seeing a picture of these new seats of how much seating on public transportation has evolved.

El Seats

I remember riding Public transportation in Chicago when I was young and remember the seating arrangement on the cars of the Elevated trains and Streetcars.  In the early 40′s the cars were wooden and not heated in the Winter but the windows did open for Summer travel and the double seats were upholstered and 47-51″ wide. These could accommodate two 22 to 25 inch Asses or even a young child between two adults.

seats 3Bus seating 1

Then in the 50/60′s the cars became Modern and double seating was 37″ wide and they were upholstered in a plastic fabric. Most of the seats were double but a few were single and  ran along the sides of the car, these were 17-1/2″  For the most part, 17 -1/2″ was the norm for passenger seating from the early 50′s to the present day. In researching seating requirements I found this to be the norm in Aircraft also. So if it’s becoming the norm to charge an Airline Passenger twice for a seat because his or her Ass fails to meet the norm, being 17 1/2″ wide, I foresee the day when Public transportation will prohibit travel on any of it’s means of transportation unless one conforms to it’s safety regulations. Thus reducing the obese public back to normal requirements of possessing a 17 1/2″ wide Ass

food-drink-fat-bus-bus_seats-burger-seat-wda2158l

 In updating this Blog, I read that The National Transportation  Safety Board  has determined that the width of a passenger seat has to be increased to 18-1/2″ to accommodate  societies larger Ass and the Footprint of a passenger  will need to be increased from 1.25 Sq. Ft. to a whopping 1.75 Sq. Ft. and the average weight of a passenger has increased from 150 Lbs. to an unbelievable 175 Lbs. How many people do you know personally that can stand in an area of roughly 16-1/2 square inches and not protrude over that dimension. I have a 38in. waist, weigh in at under 190Lbs. Under current standards, I would over be over extending the Government standard by .09547 sq. in. in my allotted Footprint. My weight however is exceeding Government standards by  almost 35 Lbs. Under the new proposed sizes for passengers on board public transportation, I would fit into my allotted Footprint but still exceed my weight limit by 15 Lbs. Now here is the kicker. Current Gross Vehicle weights for Busses and Rail cars were determined by standards developed back in the 50’s, using the 150 Lb. and the 1.25 Sq.In. rule. If today’s new standards are implemented ( which is another thing Congress would have to agree on) The amount of seating capacity would have to be reduced to accommodate a 18-1/2 seat and 1.75sq. in. footprint for standing Passengers, thus making today’s current Busses and Rail cars unsafe to handle with the additional weight and Volume. Beefing up today’s Busses and Railcars to accept the increased weight would be cost prohibited not to mention the strain put on existing framework of the Busses and Rail cars.

Braking, stability,and cornering along with fuel economy and overall comfort would be compromised if we kept using present day forms of transportation under newly proposed safety standards, and what about other forms of Transportation, wouldn’t they also be subject to adjusted safety standards concerning passenger size and weight? Think about that next time you step onboard an Elevator and everyone onboard exceeds their allotted Footprint of 1.25 Sq.Ft. and their average weight of 150 Lbs. and the Plaque over the panel  states a weight limit and occupancy level. Do the math.

I’m glad I have less than a 17 1/2 in Ass, but I have to work on that 175 Lb. limit for public transportation standards, after all, as a Modern Day society concerned with the Health and safety of all of us, We must conform now, mustn’t we!

WWW (Where were we?)

We awoke this Morning full of questions on everything from “What ever happened to” and “When did that change” and the all familiar ” Nobody told me” as we normally do every Morning . We sit by the window in our Family Room  and gaze out at the world watching it wake up and developing into a new day. Mom checks her iPad for her games she plays, and I skim thru our eMail, Twitter and Facebook accounts, let the kids know we survived the Night, touch base with the neighbors and catch up on what’s happening with world. Our Morning conversations may not be gifted but at least we do talk to one another and applaud each others thoughts and plans for the day.

This Morning the tail-end of a snowstorm was passing by us and thru Ohio and all was peaceful and serene. Our Coffee cups are full of Hot Coffee, the House toasty warm and the two of us as content as we could be. Mom and I sometimes are criticized for living in the past in our thinking and being so critical of the present. Maybe we do but you got to remember, our knowledge base goes back some 70 years, and the information that we are exposed to today  sometimes contradicts what we were taught. To us the world is flying by at a pace that we find hard to run with,  being bombarded with information that is all too graphic, superfluous, and down right ” I really didn’t need to know that.” The way and manner that these stories and news events are brought to us, is discussing to us, well, maybe me more than Kay. The use of the English Language today has become a thorn in my side. Our desire to communicate with others and the  expression of ones thoughts, is Paramount in today’s Society and the use of sensationalism for competition purposes and the misleading and vague statements used to lead into a story is really not necessary. Sorry, I got carried away again.

I try hard to uphold the Queens English in my everyday life learning what little of it in Grade School, High School, and my 5 years at “Our lady of perpetual Fuck-ups”,  the rest was relentlessly beaten into me by my wife of 30 years who was from English Parents and herself an Canadian/English subject who absolutely refused to accept the English Language spoken in the States(Colonies) as the True Kings English. She was a good sport in not giving our children English Accents.

OK, Back to the story.  Our neighbor, bless her soul, I’ll call her Audrey, entered a statement into Facebook and then received a return message using a form of the English Language that I was not familiar with. The message started with SMH , a little criticism and concluded with lol. Now when Mom and I were growing up, lol meant Lots of Love, but we since have learned in today’s modern communication skills, it means Laughing out loud, Phew!, Flirtation levels were getting a little strange there for a while amongst a few individuals. But SMH got us. I Twittered my neighbor and asked her to explain to us what SMH meant. She Twittered me back and said she had to Google it too, and it meant “Shaking My Head”. I never thought to Google something like that. I tried it also and lo and behold there’s a website that has all the Acronyms  used  in todays cellar of English Literature. It’s call “Urban Dictionary”. I’ll put some of the most used ones down on a index card, keep it by the PC and we’ll have some Rip snorting, Finger Biting Conversations with the Kids and Grand-Kids.

Here are a few tidbits of information that has gone the way of the past that may help you someday in having a conversation with some “Old Folks.” It may help them to know that you do understand how hard it’s been for them to step into a world of rapid deterioration.

Before there was Cool ,like “That’s Cool Man”  there was the phrase “That’s copacetic” or “everything is copacetic”.   Now a days everyone says “Awesome Man” or just plain “Awesome” to acknowledge someone’s build, adventure or character.  Back when we were young and you’ll even hear Jimmy Stewart tell Donna Reed in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”  that,”Gee Mary, Your Swell”   Nobody uses the word Swell anymore. When was the last time your Husband, Wife or Boyfriend or your Kids told you that you’re Swell?. The Romantic and congratulatory aspect of that word has all but disappeared from the English Language. It was the precursor of “I Love You.

There was “Jiminy Cricket, Holy Cow, and Cheese and Crackers” Or “Rats.” In conversations I had with my Brother about World War Two he would tell of young men suddenly thrusted from Rural/ Farm life into a society of other men who had worldly experience. Where one individual would cuss up a blistering array of swear words ,there would be this farm boy who had his own words he would use as cuss words and some were downright hilarious to hear, words that he could use in front of his Mom and Dad and even at the Soda Fountain with his Girlfriend who he would tell “You look swell Mary!

Mom and I realize that the world is changing. We dabble our toes in the stream of knowledge, we pick up some pointers here and there and we try to use them in day-to-day life but for the most part, were happy that we have lived when we did and  saw all the good things happen and we cried along with the others when bad things happened. I do enjoy seeing all the wonderful things that are part of our society today. I just wished that people would talk again and in a manner showcasing our beautiful language.

Lewis and Clark

I believe it was in 6th. Grade that my Teacher assigned me to give a written  report on the Lewis and Clark expedition and I ,being a History Buff and a part-time day dreamer screamed as loud as I could while running down the hallway ” I can’t do this” But as always once I get involve with a project, I can’t put it down till I’ve completed it.

That afternoon when I got home from school I told my Mom of the project that had been given to me and she told me that all the information you needed was in the Library and that I should plan a few days to visit the Library and research the shelves of books pertaining to the Lewis and Clark Expeditions. “OK” I said and started to plan my trips to the Library. It would have to be on Saturdays as I can’t give up my play time with my friends after school. I gathered up my sharpest pencil and a spiral note-book and reviewed my route down to the Library. Borrow a dime off my Mom, take the Western Ave. Street Car to the Elevated at Wilson Ave. Hop the El down to Division St. walk about a block East to Clark and I’m at the Library.

Saturday came early and I apologize for not going shopping with Mom, But I was on an Adventure, An Adventure to learn about History and Explorers trekking across the country. I often think about my youth in Chicago back in the 40’s as do a lot of us who grew-up back then. There was no fear of living back then, no boundaries that couldn’t be crossed oh there were neighborhoods that you shouldn’t be in because of Racial ignorance, but one didn’t fear for their life as they do now. There was a lot to be said about Racial Segregation in keeping the peace. Everyone stayed on their own side of the fence and there was peace, It may have been the wrong way to treat people but having two different societies worked. OK, I got away from my story.

Chicago Library

I entered the Library and stood for a moment and took in the size of the building, the shelves of books the floors of books all these people walking around with grim faces on. I realized that this building contains every bit if information I needed, then it hit me. How do you use a Library? I never have been in one before. How do I go about finding what I came here for? Nobody ever taught me how to use a Library! Not in school, not at home,  My eyes searched frantically for a friendly face to help me, there, It says Information. I shuffled over to this desk and waited to ask a question to  this lady with horrible complexion. I know, I was taught by the Nuns that we’re all Gods children and everyone is beautiful in God’s Eyes, but I mean, If you looked in the Dictionary under Ugly, There would be a picture of this woman. ” I’m looking to gather some information On Lewis and Clark and I’ve never been in a Library before and I don’t know where to look?” I said,  “Son” she replied, “I haven’t the time to teach you how to use a Library, Bring someone with you next time to show you how to research the information in this library”. “Yes Ma’am” I replied.  I thought, ” Here is another case of me progressing thru life without the basic knowledge of gathering and storing information.” So off to home I went. When I got home  Mom ask me how’d it go? I told her about my dilemma and that I need someone to teach me how to use a Library. Ask your Sister to help you she replied, Tomorrows Sunday and after Church the two of you can go back to the Library.

I guess the procedure for obtaining  information was supposed to be inherent in my Genes. I knew how to ride a two-wheel Bicycle, Operate my Dads record Player, Unlock doors all of which I was taught. I don’t ever remember being taught in how to use a Library, not in school, not by my Family, nor by any of my friends.  I guess by the age of 11 years I should have known, but I didn’t.  Back then if you needed some information, no matter what, You wrote it down on a piece of paper stuffed in your pocket and walked, drove, or took Public Transportation down to the Library and proceeded to acquire what you needed using the tools of the Library. Boy, Do we have it made now. Don’t we! I love to Google!

Prehistorical Googling

Well, needless to say, I learned how to use the library and it wasn’t till High School that I was taught the Dewey Decimal system and the systematic way books on shelves were laid out. I don’t remember what grade I received on my report nor what ever happened to it, but knowing the Nuns at St. Benedict’s they probably burned it and added the ashes to the Palm Ashes that were used on Ash Wednesday.

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