Monthly Archives: June 2016

Mere chance

By lex, on July 19th, 2008

I had a beer last Friday with an old friend, like me recently retired as a captain. We were roommates back in the day along with a third brother of another mother, as lieutenants aboard the USS Constellation. A thousand years ago, or it might as well have been. A lifetime ago.

Do you remember that movie, “Stand By Me“? At the end, Richard Dreyfuss – the narrator – voices over the conclusion the 60′s coming of age tale thus: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”

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When in the course of human events…

By lex, on July 4th, 2008

Cookouts and parades, beer and bunting, seeing fireworks for the first time and then seeing them again every year thereafter. The memories always leading back to that first time, of being four or five, or seven and the beginning of understanding: This means something important. Something special. Someday you’d understand.

Dead White Men with classical educations and a great deal to lose risking it all – all of it – on a test of wills with a dyspeptic tyrant, a preening aristocracy and grasping parliament atop the world’s most powerful empire. Farmers and merchants in ragged lines opposing professional troops in rank upon rank, losing every battle but the last one. Holding them as we held all mankind, “Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.”

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Making the transition

By lex, on June 24th, 2008

So, I found myself in mufti, walking across the parking lot and back to my place of new employment carrying comestibles (soup and salad) and libations (diet coke) both in my left hand. Wasn’t until I got to the stairs that I stopped to wonder why. Being equipped, you know, with two hands.

And then I realized. I was saving the right hand for salutes while out of doors. Rendered or returned.

This may take some getting used to.

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By lex, on June 13th, 2008

Last night was another sleepless affair for your correspondent. Was up at 0330 galling myself over this and that. I know the odds, and the way through. If I’d stayed abed I’d only have tossed and turned and made it harder on the Hobbit. Get up, “change the channel” and come back when you feel it, said I.

Taildraggers have been much in my mind of late. The idea of putting the girls through college in eight years and then moving outback to fly sports in and out of austere strips and river banks has a compelling emotional appeal.

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The Santa Barbara Fire

Among The Joshua Trees

The big fire down by Santa Barbara is at 4,000 plus acres. This morning the smoke showed up in the Antelope Valley. At sunrise we realized it wasn’t high thin clouds.

I had to fuel my pickup and stop at the exchange before heading home. When I left the exchange, I could smell the smoke. Jets taking off were disappearing in short order on climb out from the base.

On the way home, I broke out my Trusty Nikon and grabbed a few pictures at the California City Boulevard turnoff. I give you those pictures.

DSC_0007 Cal City Boulevard looking North

DSC_0008 The San Gabriel Mountains

DSC_0011 Another shot of the San Gabriel Mountains

DSC_0014 Looking West toward the Tehachapi along the utility service road parallel to the 58

DSC_0016 Another view of Cal City Boulevard

I also decided to include the link to the latest on the fire from KTLA 5 out of Los…

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A Modern Conundrum?

Heard an interesting topic on the Tom Sullivan show today on the radio.

Apparently the father of a young woman murdered in the Paris terrorist attack – the only American – is suing Facebook, Google  and Twitter .

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By lex, on May 7th, 2008

There are two sets of paperwork sitting on my desk just now. One is a packet of documents formalizing an offer of post-naval employment. The other is a packet of documents that will end my active service. I can’t seem to make a start on either of them.

I rationalize to myself that my last day in the uniform of the country I have served for the last 30 years is not yet certain – my approved retirement date is 1 AUG 2008, but I’ve requested a modification to those orders moving it up to 1 JUL 2008. It’ll be approved of course. No reason for them not to approve it. Probably on the way. But it’s not here yet, and so I dither.

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Sunday flying

By lex, on March 30th, 2008

Four years stood between my last flight in a Navy jet and my first flights as the employee of a tour company flying bug smashers. In the interval I had gotten out of the long accustomed habit of checking the weather. Not observing it or remarking upon it, but checking it. A professional pilot tends to regard his time on the ground as a regrettable but necessary interlude between his aerial pilgrimages. The sky being his home, he examines it carefully for portents – not in the way one looks to see whether it would be a rain coat day or sunscreen day, but in the way one evaluates existential issues of possibility and potentiality. The heart of an aviator leaps to a clear blue sky, sighs in resignation to the imposing presence of a thunderstorm, carefully weighs and balances everything in between against his personal capabilities and the limitations of his craft. Between the difficult necessary and the necessarily impossible are no clear dividing lines. On the palettes of judgment and storms, there are many shades of gray.

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By lex, on March 12th, 2008

Short sea story:

One of my first training command CO’s had last flown the RF-8P before taking command of the training squadron. The RF-8P was a photo-reconnaissance version of the venerable Crusader jet – last of the gunfighters. The F-8 cohort were hard men, and they threw themselves into the art and science of air combat knowing their lives depended upon it. They played hard ball in the air, even in training: Mishap rates for the single engine gunfighter were atrocious compared to the newer F-4 Phantoms just coming on line during the Vietnam war.

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An old letter

By lex, on March 1st, 2008

I was looking for something else last night, and ran across an old letter. It was from my old man to me, sent about two weeks and a bit into my plebe summer at the Severn River Trade School.

I was not a particularly good plebe, as my first class detail never tired of reminding me. I had passed up offers to Duke and Virginia, and – sitting at a phone bank at the bottom of my dormitory with a dozen others just like me, wearing a uniform that had not quite broken in, sweating in a humid Annapolis night in a heat so oppressive that you could cut it and peel it back with a butter knife – I was beginning to wonder if I hadn’t made some sort of horrible mistake.

A couple of days later I received this letter:

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