Category Archives: Stories

Happy American Fool’s Day

Today is the day again where America celebrates it’s freedom.

I don’t have much to say, but I let Chris say something that might be appropriate. I met Chris at a recent home schooling event. He writes the wildest poetry you could imagine. When I tried to read the first poem he forwarded to me I told him that it reminded me of the famous Vogon poetry.

Today I want to present a piece from his moderate era.

Land of the Free…REE-LEE

Do taxpayers pun while paying frivolous fines?

Do marlins still tug against tightening lines?

When pinched by no squirm-room, left choice-less, bereft,

then clap-trap verboseness is all that we’re left. (Seemingly)

The noose of Big Brother hangs ever about

the necks of the masses – We, the People, who pout..

..As waiting in lines with our checkbooks in hand,

we ponder the path of this once wondrous land..

..of Washington, Lincoln and ‘W’ too,

while stonily missing the freedoms we knew,

when God was the giver of all of our rights..

..before lawyer-armies marched in in the night

and put up their fences now seen at the dawn..

We knew it would happen, we knew all along.

We’re cleared to chase evil the ends of the earth,

but we can’t stand against in the Land of Our Birth(?)

The lawyers’ america (sic):One City Hall..

Can’t fight’em, or join’em, go shop at the Mall.

It’s time to hold fast and rise up to the fight..

And pull off the darkness, the long winter’s night.

Recall when as children, they taught us to sing..

My Country ’tis of Thee, Let Freedom Ring?

Remember the soldiers, parades on Main Street?

And picnics and fireworks..Man, it was sweet!

America’s stirring, her proud heart can’t stand

the tyrannies festering all through the land..

We call on The Blood that was shed for all men..

In songs that commit all our voices as One!

Patriots, everyone, Sleepers awake!

Lift up your voices, for Heaven’s sake.

Remember your blessings and answer The Call!

In Christ, Hallelujah! Freedom for all!

Hand on your heart, now sing:

My country ’tis of Thee, sweet land of liberty, of Thee I sing.

Land where my fathers dies, land of the pilgrims’ pride,

form every mountainside, let Freedom ring.

Standard Jokes

We all get into the situation occasionally where we have to, or at least should, tell a joke. In those instances it has been proven very advantageous to have a standard joke – something you always remember – just because – it is ‘standard.’

For many years now I have the following standard joke:

Two idiots walking down the street.
Says the one ‘Now I want to walk in the middle!’

One of the hallmarks of a standard joke is brevity, just in case you audience has heard you tell it ten times before and you want to be done before they start complaining. In this regards, my standard joke did a good job.

But now I might have a worthy contender, thanks to Flemming:

The Dalai Lama walks into a pizza shop –
“Can you make me one with everything?”

 

I was there before Doctor Who

Thanks to the power of the Piratebay I was able to watch the new Doctor Who episode (season six, episode two) only hours after it aired in Great Britain. Part of this two-parter was filmed here in the US of A. After the show I looked up Glen Canyon Dam because I had a feeling that I knew something about it.

And sure enough, I found out that I had flown over it quite a few years ago on my big adventure flying around the western part if the United States (cut short by some Utahian weather.)

As mentioned elsewhere on this blog that I had been writing a flying blog before there even were blogs and so I thought this is a good opportunity to revisit that old story and put it into a proper blog.

Her we go…

The Big Adventure

This one flight was supposed to be the biggest I had ever done. I had been up all the Pacific coast from Burbank to Seattle, but this one should go from home sweet home in Burbank around the Grand Canyon up through the Rockies all the way to the Canadian border, back to the Pacific Coast and then the rest of the trip that I already knew – down the coast to come home a hero.

It did not quite work out that way, but it became a big memory nonetheless.

The flight was planned to be together with Griselda, a very good friend who was to come over from Germany for it. I was the designated pilot and she had to be the co-pilot in training.

I intended not to disappoint the trust she just had to put into my flying abilities and so I really got into a thorough planning for the flight. It was clear that I needed some more survival kit than the average California flier has with him or her – the credit card, thus I invested into a real survival kit. I also needed chocks and ropes for tie-down because there were some very desolated airstrips on our agenda. The idea of rolling up in a sleeping bag under the wing of trusty 08L on a grass strip in nowhere-land made chills going up and down my spine. That would be adventure!

Naturally I learned everything I could get my hands on about mountain flying, but the uncertainty kept hanging around if I would be able to handle whatever would come our way. As with everything in flying you have to experience it first hand before you know you can handle it. But at least I got all the theoretical education to have the best cards possible. Playing them would show me if I understood the game.

Griselda’s arrival date came and the first day I tried her acceptance for air work. I was happy. She would be a good co-pilot. She enjoyed being up there with the elements just as I did and seemed to have an inborn feel for yoke and rudder.

The next day was the “Beginning of the Great Adventure.”We were up with the sun, which was very unusual, at least for me, and 08L was loaded with so much gear as she has probably never seen before.

Loading 08L

The first leg would lead us east across the Colorado River into Arizona to Sedona, the Red Rock Country.

We get clearance from Burbank for the ‘Golden State’ departure, climb out to the north-west and are released to own navigation after leaving three thousand feet. This whole area is very familiar to me and I feel so at home that I do not need any navigation equipment but my eyes for this part of the flight. We fly towards and over the deserted airport of Agua Dulce. Already at over six thousand feet, the few planes left down there are the little toys that I played with as a kid.

To be honest I am still a kid and I still play with my plane, the toy just became a bit bigger. The only thing I have to be careful with, is to look more serious about this flying business. If you are a grown-up, you are not supposed to play. You use the plane to save time, to arrive faster, to avoid the traffic jams. Right! So why then do I fly for a burger to the Elephant Bar in Santa Barbara? I guess if I think hard about it I will find an adult reason. But not now.

As we come, still climbing…

Still Climbing

…over the mountain ridge and into the Mojave Desert we encounter an air-mountain. You don’t know what that is? Are you really a pilot? OK, maybe you can’t know that, maybe I invented that for my passengers. It’s one of these very steep, invisible, slopes upward, where you have to pitch up the nose and try with all available power to make it to the top and not to lose all your speed and slide back down again. Certainly your airspeed will bleed off but fortunately you will just barely make it to the top and with great relieve you slide down the other side of the air-mountain after a moment of light heart and stomach. On the way down you gain speed again and might have to follow some gorges that require you to bank the plane left and right and left briskly, but eventually you can level off at about the same altitude you started at before encountering this terrible air-mountain. [Editor: this was written for an audience of pilots who know that there are no air-mountains and this is just an excuse to play roller coaster with your passenger.]

Your heart will go fast for all the fun you had, but you look at your passenger with a serious expression, wipe the sweat from your forehead and assure him or her that we made it and that it was not that bad.

So I am a naughty child, but please, I’m not so bad that I do this with a victim, excuse me, passenger who might really get scared. With Griselda I could definitely do it, seemed she enjoyed this game as much as I did.

Now it is time to tune in some navigation equipment. We have all these neat things aboard to play with so we better use them. It’s Hector VOR first, then Goffs. We climb up to eleven and a half thousand feet and leave behind some bumpiness that developed over the desert. From this height we can already see the Colorado River ahead, how it cuts through the dead land leaving a band of green life crawling through the brown rugged wilderness.

Yet this stays soon behind, we tune into the next vortac, I believe it is EED, and we enter the land of the baby Grand Canyons. They really look like it! Really, if you don’t believe me, go there and take a look yourself!

Griselda has the yoke now most of the time. She sure has the time of her life. I can share her joy. There is nothing better than leaving the ego home, in the garage, together with the car, and just enjoy the happiness of a friend.

Finally we tune into the Drake VOR, the last point before we have to trust our eyes only to find the destination. I might cheat a bit because I know that Sedona is thirty-four miles from the Drake VOR on the 063 radial, but hey, as a pilot you learn to always have an alternative. I have been to Sedona once before and I try to remember the topology and how all this looked the first time but I can’t really tell, so OK, I will cheat a little. And finally there it is. I recognize the high mesa, the big valley that looks like a huge sink-hole leaving the surrounding sheer cliffs of red rock that gave the country its name. And from the bottom of this empty pit rises an island that refused to go under with the rest of the country, and on top of it the Sedona airport.

Dial in now the Unicom frequency of 122.8 and see if somebody is home to give us salute. But instead of the more appropriate “Yippee, we made it all the way from Burbank, California and we are so glad that we are here safely”, I have to bury the child for a little while and announce us as, “Cherokee 08L, five miles west, airport advisories please”. One last check on the maps. Wind is from the south-west, so we use runway 21 with left traffic, well setup in the pattern, nicely coming down, a landing I can be proud of, taxi to the tie- downs, shutdown radios, engine, electric …… Wonderful Silence!

Wonderful Silence

We made the first leg, and for me this feeling of accomplishment after a long flight never seems to wear off, even after doing it so often already.

We had planned to stay just a day and then continue around the north-east corner of the Grand Canyon and north into Utah, but then it was so beautiful and Red Rock country gave us so much to see and experience that we decided to stay an extra day. This should become only the first delay on this trip with more to come.

The area south of the Grand Canyon is more or less a desert. And my experience in the little desert at my front porch – Mojave desert – had taught me to get up early to beat the violently rising air, once it gets hot in the afternoon. So the plan was to get up with or even before the sun on the day we had to say good-bye to Sedona. But having this built-in morning-tiredness, I did not quite manage to do so. Sitting comfortably down for breakfast at the coffee shop overlooking the Sedona airport, we justified our failure to get up early with a firm “One has to get enough sleep to be able to handle all possible difficulties that come our way and it’s also important to have a good meal before going up!”

Armed with that, we finally got up in the air at about eleven, and yes, the air already had started on its way up and down and up. In other words, I was to fight turbulence for all this leg. For me this is mostly only uncomfortable during the first half hour into a flight. After that the body, who is the one screaming “I don’t want to die” either gives up or learns that the danger is not so eminent as it believed. I still have to work hard to keep the pointy part of the plane forward and the dirty part down after these first thirty to forty minutes but at least nobody is dramatizing that death is unavoidable, sudden and very painful. I was amazed by Griselda’s attitude towards this kicking around. She seemed to actually enjoy it. And the bad boy that I am, I kept her ignorant about the fact that I probably would not know how to properly react should we get kicked inverted. But it did not happen and after I got used to the permanent jolting I also started to enjoy the trip.

After takeoff we had circled the big red rocks…

Big Red Rocks

… in the Sedona valley that look like forgotten teeth in the mouth of a Greek grandfather. I mean they look much more impressive than that but the form reminded me (and I try to be a bit poetic here – so bear with me please). Now we are heading north north-east towards the eastern edge of the Grand Canyon. VOR receiver 1 is tuned to Page (PGA, 117.6) and the first time in my flying career my finger uses a CG chart to follow the flight path. Sectionals are just too cumbersome for all these long stretches of flight.

Page VOR

It is old wisdom that each coin has two sides: the one is this relentless fight with the winds but the other side is the magnificent visibility. For an hour or more we can see the big chasm that the Colorado River dug in millions of years. And ahead, too far to estimate the immense ridges of the Rocky Mountains. We really want to get into the middle of that? But that will be tomorrow. For now things get interesting as the numbers on the DME grow smaller and smaller and we can see the Colorado where he rests…

The Colorado Where it Rests

…before he has to continue with his task to saw the earth into two. As we fly over the dam we see that man has helped him to extend his nap…

Glen Canyon Dam

… by building this wall where he can lean on before he throws himself into the depth. [Editor: This is the dam in the Doctor Who episode 2, season 6 where Rory gets shot – or not.]

From this vista point we have a breathtaking view into and along the first part of the Colorado’s journey towards the Hoover Dam where he will be able to rest again.

Our journey also goes on, we are turning west and head to our next navigation point, St. George. This is a new state for me, I have never been to Utah before. Either the turbulence has diminished somewhat or my acceptance for them grew bigger, but I can enjoy the landscape we cross much more. To our left are side valleys that strive to reach big brother Grand Canyon, and to our right looming rugged mountains that make us look so small sitting behind our propeller with the intention to conquer them. No, not defeat them, just have a little competition.

Our destination for today lies straight north, but this is the first concession we have to make to this one big mountain – we have to go around him, he will not let us climb straight over him. But we do not mind, the trip is the adventure, not the arrival.

Nearly arriving at St. George, we consider to interrupt our journey but the tanks are still half full and we are challenged by the big valley that opens to the north and which we decide to follow on our way into the northern states. Without any experience in flying in these big mountains that are everywhere, we really have to trust our navigation equipment. Once we have turned 08L’s nose into the right direction the view again agrees with what we expected to see from looking at the map.

So we follow the valley northbound, tuning in Cedar City VOR and then Milford. 08L, always the nose up a bit, working her way through the rising terrain. We will not be able to make it to Salt Lake City with the remaining fuel, but with a feeling of accomplishment from our first encounter with the Rocky Mountains we finally tune in to the Delta, Utah VOR and decide to land there, give 08L to eat and also feed us and finish the flight for today.

Delta, Utah VOR

How could be know that we would get to know Delta, Utah very well.

Finding the airport is no problem at all. It lies in the middle of a huge valley, flat as a board, checkered with fields, but surrounded by high mountains. Just two thousand feet above ground we can see our destination for miles. The field is completely deserted, the owner of the local crop duster business doubles as the local FBO and we call him to come back from town to help us with food for 08L. We hitch a ride with him into town and realize only then how lucky we were that this town actually has a hotel and that this hotel even has rooms for us. With the feeling of pride for getting here – Columbus could not have felt better – we go for Dinner and do not think too much of tomorrow’s flight.

We only know it will go north, past Salt Lake City and well into Idaho.

As I wake up the next morning, ready for more mountain flying, the day on the other side of the curtains looks suspiciously dark. Crawling out of bed and peeking out of the window into a very cloudy sky, it slowly trickles into my still sleepy mind that the weather in the mountains in fact changes very fast – just as I had learned in all  my theoretical studies about mountain flying.

OK, so yesterday it was the clearest weather I ever saw, today the clouds hang definitely low, but it should also change back to the real weather quickly! But flight service can not confirm my hopes. It looks as if this weather will stay with us for a while.

I don’t actually consider going IFR. We are in an area where the numbers along the lines of the low altitude IFR charts [Editor: this is the minimum altitude that you have to fly when on these air ways] are bigger than the numbers in the handbook after the entry for service ceiling [Editor: the altitude the plane can actually reach before the air gets too thin]. Drilling our way through the gray masses into the blue and into freedom is not an option.

There is a family restaurant just outside the hotel which does not know that it will become our head quarter, and there, over breakfast, Griselda and I discuss our options. There are not that many. But first we should get a car and check out the area. It’s cloudy, but the weather beneath them is quite decent. And Delta, Utah even has a rental car company. Unfortunately they are out of cars – tomorrow one is expected back.

Happy people as we are, we enjoy MTV, talk about the good old days and have all the time in the world to write to our loved-ones left at home. We are still certain that it will be just a day that we can relax and it will do us good.

Isn’t that strange? The times when you trust the weather forecast, you should not have, now I didn’t trust it but I should’ve. The next day looks pretty much the same. At least around noon we get our car and thus some mobility. The first trip is out to see how trusty 08L is doing. Under the cloud deck it’s pretty good flying weather, so we go and check out the area from the birds view to get an overview. Griselda does a take-off nearly without assistance. She really has a feel for flying.

Finally the next day promises that we can continue, only the calendar opposes this idea. It does not look as if we can still make it up to the Canadian border. We change plans and decide to go more into the general direction of ‘back’ but stop at my friend Ron’s place in the Sierra around the corner of Mount Whitney. We leave friendly Delta, Utah with still quite a bit of clouds around,

Still quite a bit of clouds

but it’s dissipating and I get to show Griselda how neat it is to get to the same altitude…

Same Altitude

… of the clouds and then just drill a hole into them.

Drill a Hole

Soon we leave the last clouds behind us and point the nose towards Las Vegas. Still around some mountains, but the general direction is the City of Blinking Lights. The trip back seems to be a lot shorter than the way up here. A bit over two and a half hours bring Griselda and her pilot into Las Vegas North Terminal for some food for trusty 08L and the people traveling with her.

Griselda’s Pilot

This is the first airport where I see a self-service gas station for aviation fuel. It’s pretty cheap, under 1.80, [Editor: those were the days…] but we get the idea that, as we go up into the restaurant and have a crew prepare and serve our lunch, so we could also have some crew help our 08L to get fed. I am still wondering how she would have handled the self-service all by herself.

After lunch we call Ron up in Badger. Yes, he is there and we are welcome, just buzz the house and we pick you up at Jerry’s airstrip. Jerry is a great guy. I met him a couple of years back when I was still on my primary training. A native Badger and retired army pilot, Barney, had been happy to have a pilot, even if it was only a prospective one, whom he could show around and introduce him to the people in the area who had something to do with flying. Jerry was one of them. He was over seventy and lived up there in the woods with his wife Lucy. The one item he was most proud of was the wooden propeller on his ’49 Bonanza, that he still regularly flies out of his 2200 foot private airstrip at 4000 feet elevation.

This was the air strip Griselda and I would go into. But first we had to find our way over the Sierra Nevada. These are high mountains! From Vegas we have trusty 08L’s nose up into the sky all the time. Finally we reach about 12000 feet and there just isn’t any more altitude to win. It’s pretty hot and density altitude is probably a lot higher. We can’t quite make it along the straight route to Porterville. A pretty big guy is in the way. The sectional gives his height away with far over 12000. Respectful as we are, we bid him a hello and fly around.

Once we have crossed the Eastern ridge of the Sierra, the highest part, we can start to let down. On the way down we have to dodge some very beautiful clouds that try to rise over the ridges of the Sierra to bring some rain to the desert hidden behind. But experience tells that they will not succeed. On the other hand this failure brings gorgeous green valleys in the higher up-sloping part of the Sierra on the western side of the ridge.

Eventually we intersect the one radial beaming out of Porterville North that will bring us right to Jerry’s airstrip. But before we get there, we go down some more and make our low pass over Ron’s place. This reminds me so much of the old barn stormer stories that I can nearly feel the wind blowing into my face in the open cockpit. But only nearly, good young 08L is not really drafty. Climbing back up to 5000 again and see that we find the airstrip now. It’s not that easy. Finally we make it out, turn base and final and see this unbelievable small airstrip over the nose.

Unbelievable small air strip

Past experience discloses that trusty 08L will fit on it but from up here it sure does not look like it. And true, as we get closer, this little strip of flatness appears more and more as a place where our 08L can come to a well deserved rest. Soon we are close enough…

Close Enough

… power is cut and airspeed reduced as much as possible. It is not the best landing but we all get down nicely, in other words in one piece, Griselda is thrilled by the adrenaline flash, and soon we tie down our trusty girl for the night. Certainly we have to make a photo of World Traveler Griselda leaving the plane before Ron comes and picks us up.

World Traveller Griselda

With all this feeling on being on top of everything after the survival of the bigger part of the trip this World Traveler has to show off how she would have looked as the Ace Pilot in her Sopwith Camel.

Ace Pilot

We have a great day at Ron’s Badger Inn. The weather is as it should have been while we were stranded in Delta, Utah, but what’s the complains, we enjoy it now.

The next day will bring this world trip to an end. After a good brunch Ron drives us back to Jerry’s airstrip and we first have a chat with him, Lucy and some friends of them who came up with a beautifully restored Piper Cub, this old nobility of general aviation. I first get dependable 08L from the place where she slept for the night to the beginning of the air strip which coincides with Jerry’s yard. We turn her around to point down the runway, and I, trying to be the nice guy, waste a bit of this already short strip in order not to sand blast the Cub behind me. We wave good-bye, full throttle and down we go the strip, faster and faster.

Only not quite fast enough when we nearly reach the end of the runway. But that’s not a problem for such an accomplished pilot as I am now. The runway is on top of a pretty high ridge and at the end of the runway the terrain falls off steeply for several hundred feet. I can use that! With under sixty knots one jump over the edge and nose down into the chasm. Not really that dramatic, only to gain speed through the dive. Getting the speed up to seventy, seventy-five and start climbing. No problem.

Only the crowd that had us waved good-bye, had a different perspective. They looked down the runway. Trusty 08L reached the end and disappeared. Ron told me later that all of them started to breathe again when we reappeared after our dive, flying over the strip, happy 08L rocks her wings and we follow the Dry Creek down to Woodlake, navigate to Porterville, get some gas there and embark on the last leg, climbing to over ten thousand feet to get over the Grape Vine, then slide down all the way from the Gorman VOR into the home port Burbank.

It feels much more like HOME now, and there is the urge to tell approach and the tower controller about our trip. But no, we have to be grown-ups, the excitement has to be put on the back burner and we announce our arrival with a simple

Burbank Approach, Cherokee 08L, Magic Mountain out of six thousand, landing Burbank with Information Xray.

JD Flora on the RPF

Flemming’s Facebook wall post about Mr. Hubbard prompted me to dig through the Logs of JD Flora to find that one log that I enjoyed most as it so succinctly describes life on the lowest rungs of the group with the lofty goal to clear the planet. I particularly liked the character Marty – why? – because that is yours truly!

Log #81 – Rehabilitating the Rehabilitating

East Hollywood, July 25th, 1984, 11 pm

Marty claims that he never really was on the RPF’s RPF.

Really, he says, he never was on the RPF in the first place. He simply rejected the RPF assignment from the beginning, wrote an appeal to RTC, and assumed a waiting position.
This created a considerable problem for the RPF leadership. To them, there are just two possible choices once you have been assigned to the RPF: “Bow or Blow”.

When I saw the ethics officer or the Bosun talking to him about the redeeming values of the RPF and how great it would be to do the FPRD, their eyes and gestures expressed yet a different message:

“You got a car outside in the parking lot, more money than the entire staff of the Complex together – so why don’t you just blow the joint. We’re all looking in a different direction, nobody will try to hold you back. Just leave us alone !”

But no, Marty appeared at every muster in bright clothes, a sharp contrast to the dark blue, greasy outfit of the rest of the bunch.

What an embarrassment to the Bosun!

What if some staff watched the muster and discovered this disgrace to the entire RPF? Worse, what if some exec would report her to the RPF I/C ?

It was not that Marty would have tried to interfere with anything that happened on the RPF, nor that he would have spent his time elsewhere (although he was driving around in his huge Ford station wagon and went to the movies every once a while). He was just present, watching the show, often expressing utter amazement.

For example, when I together with some other not-so-tall guys went under the galley. This was a three feet high gallery underneath the galley for the purpose of routing excess water (and other stuff which I don’t want to mention here) into the public water disposal system.
Every once a while, things were getting clogged, and someone, usually from the RPF’s RPF, had to crawl in there through a tiny window in the wall of the floor underneath it. Equipped with rakes, the water and other things were getting moved into the drain openings.

At that occasion, I happened to witness some of the largest cockroaches on this planet. And I overcame the claustrophobia that I had after a while, too. The very special smell that one was taking on after such a mission made people turn around in shock more than a hundred yards away.

It took easily three days with lots of showers to get rid of the worst. Still, many weeks after this, when I was back at my parent’s home, my mother complained about a very strange and peculiar smell on me, and she couldn’t quite figure out what to make of it.

Back to the RPF. It’s time for ‘success stories’:

Paul waves his hands. He had been in Ethics for three straight weeks because he refused to own up to his own overts as witnessed by his aggravation after getting slapped by DM.
The Bosun points to Paul. “Your turn tonight, Paul!”. She smiles, knowing that his little speech will be an impressive testimony for the effectiveness and righteousness of the RPF, herself, the Church, the Founder, in short all decent people. Screw everybody else, they’re criminal minds anyway.

Paul: “Well, you all know that I’m here on the RPF for what seems a very long time. But one thing I realized after the great sessions I got from my twin Pete and after the excellent ethics handling I received for nearly a month. Actually, I realized so many things, eh, just too many to list.

“Eh. Really, I was so unethical for so many millions of years that it is a true miracle that everything, I mean EVERYTHING, could be cleaned up in just a couple of weeks in Ethics on the RPF!

“I finally as-ised the source of my constant out-ethics completely and I’m ready to go back on post again. It is absolutely amazing how effectively the RPF rehabilitates even the worst out-ethics! I want to thank the Bosun, of course. Without her my rehabilitation would not have been possible. I’m so grateful, I don’t find the words for it really…”

Paul sits down again and all people clap their hands.

The Bosun is flattered and tries to hide it.

“Great success story, Paul. Thanks for sharing! Who else wants to share a success tonight?”

Marty turns around on the chair to pick something up from the table behind him. The Bosun freezes. It looked like Marty would have raised his arm.

In panic, she whirls around and starts staring at the huge blackboard behind her. After being immobilized for a moment, she is shouting: “That’s it. Let’s give the Commodore a hand.” A standing ovation follows. Three hipp-hipp-hurrays. More applause. All for and to a picture at the wall.

Only Marty remains seated reading in a book.

I hear a soft, deep voice behind me. I look around but there is only an empty cabinet.
Something feels strange around and about me. It seems as if time would run slower and then faster again. Like impinged upon by a ripple in the fabric of space and time, my perceptions warped.

Then I heard the voice again.
“How would YOU go about it?”

– End of Log #81 –

In case that awakened your appetite, all three volumes are now for sale on Amazon and I am proud to tell you that I had the honor of editing and applying last touches to volumes II and III.

    

Men Crying in Public

Thanks, Kathie, for this story:

It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout.. We all stood there, under the awning, just inside the door of the WalMart.

We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day.

I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world.  Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.

Her little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in, ‘Mom let’s run through the rain,’ she said.

‘What?’ Mom asked.

‘Let’s run through the rain!’ she repeated.

‘No, honey. We’ll wait until it slows down a bit,’ Mom replied.

This young child waited a minute and repeated: ‘Mom, let’s run through the rain..’

‘We’ll get soaked if we do,’ Mom said.

‘No, we won’t, Mom. That’s not what you said this morning,’ the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom’s arm.

‘This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?’

‘Don’t you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, ‘ If God can get us through this, He can get us through anything! ‘ ‘

The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldn’t hear anything but the rain.. We all stood silently. No one left. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say.

Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child’s life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith.

‘Honey, you are absolutely right. Let’s run through the rain. If GOD let’s us get wet, well maybe we just need washing,’ Mom said.

Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They got soaked.

They were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. And yes, I did.  I ran. I got wet.  I needed washing.

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories. So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday.

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

I HOPE YOU STILL TAKE THE TIME TO RUN THROUGH THE RAIN.

I can not say that I’m much of a guy who things much of a god’s guidance or wisdom. But I have to admit that such display of faith into something usually gets me choked up a bit. One of the most intense experiences in this regard is this little book “Mister God, This Is Anna” by Flynn. I had tears streaming down my face for bigger part of the book. Neither tears of sorrow nor tears of joy – just a turmoil of emotion.

I sometimes wonder what’s causing this strong emotional reaction to faith into something. Not that I mind it, it might be sometimes a bit embarrassing when it happens towards the end of a movie in the theater, but I can live with that.

I am just really curious – with no good idea…

The Money Bag Month

Calendar for July 2011 (United States)

This year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens once every 823 years, which means we will most likely not see this again during our life time. It is called the money bag. According to the email that conveyed this information to me I will have to forward this to my friends and money will arrive within 4 days. This is supposed to be based on Chinese Feng Shui. The one who does not forward…..will be without money.

Obviously I could not take this risk – so – there you go…

A bottle of Wine for the Husband

Sally was driving home from one of her business trips in Northern Arizona when she saw an elderly Navajo woman walking on the side of the road.

As the trip was a long and quiet one, she stopped the car and asked the Navajo woman if she would like a ride.

With a silent nod of thanks, the woman got into the car.

Resuming the journey, Sally tried in vain to make a bit of small talk with the Navajo woman. The old woman just sat silently, looking intently at everything she saw, studying every little detail, until she noticed a brown bag on the seat next to Sally.

‘What in bag?’ asked the old woman.

Sally looked down at the brown bag and said, ‘It’s a bottle of wine. I got it for my husband.’

The Navajo woman was silent for another moment or two. Then speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder, she said:

‘Good trade….’

Nine Month

Thanks, Kathie, for this heart-wrenching story…

John decided to go skiing with his buddy, Keith. So they loaded up John’s minivan and headed north.

After driving for a few hours, they got caught in a terrible blizzard. So they pulled into a nearby farm and asked the attractive lady who answered the door if they could spend the night.

“I realize it’s terrible weather out there and I have this huge house all to myself, but I’m recently widowed,” she explained. “I’m afraid the neighbours will talk if I let you stay in my house.”

“Don’t worry,” John said. “We’ll be happy to sleep in the barn. And if the weather breaks, we’ll be gone at first light.” The lady agreed, and the two men found their way to the barn and settled in for the night.

Come morning, the weather had cleared, and they got on their way. They enjoyed a great weekend of skiing.

But about nine months later, John got an unexpected letter from an attorney. It took him a few minutes to figure it out, but he finally determined that it was from the attorney of that attractive widow he had met on the ski weekend.

He dropped in on his friend Keith and asked, “Keith, do you remember that good-looking widow from the farm we stayed at on our ski holiday up north about 9 months ago?”

“Yes, I do.” Said Keith.

“Did you, er, happen to get up in the middle of the night, go up to the house and pay her a visit?”

“Well, um, yes!,” Keith said, a little embarrassed about being found out, “I have to admit that I did.”

“And did you happen to give her my name instead of telling her your name?”

Keith’s face turned beet red and he said, “Yeah, look, I’m sorry, buddy. I’m afraid I did. Why do you ask?”

“She just died and left me everything.”

Breakfast at McDonald’s

I just love stories!

When my son and I ran into a commercial advertising James Cameron’s new movie Sanctum he wondered why it was stressed that this movie was “inspired by true events.”

The only answer I could come up with was that people put more significance or importance on a story if it is ‘true’. But for the movie in question the choice of the phrase ‘inspired by’ could mean as little as “I saw a dog fall into a pond and had the idea to make a movie about cave scuba diving.” Surely, there is a true event – dog falling into pond – and that inspired the making of that movie.

I have learned a long time ago that ‘true’ is a very elastic term. When I had the experience that two people, with no agenda to sway me one way or the other, told me about the same event and I could not recognize the event as one and the same, I learned that ‘Truth’ is a relative term – a fact that detectives and investigators understand.

With this said, the following story had the label ‘true’ but I do not really care – it’s a good story with something to learn from. It came in a viral email with the typical ending, that I had to send it to at least three people to have my wishes come true at some point in time and to 126 people if I want them to come true right away. I leave this part of the email out and concentrate on the story itself.

Here we go…

I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my college degree.

The last class I had to take was Sociology.

The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with.

Her last project of the term was called, ‘Smile.’

The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions.

I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, I thought this would be a piece of cake – literally.

Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald’s one a crisp March morning.

It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son.

We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did.

I did not move an inch – an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved.

As I turned around I smelled a horrible ‘dirty body’ smell, and there, standing behind me, were two poor homeless men.

As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was ‘smiling.’ His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God’s Light as he searched for acceptance.

He said, ‘Good day’ as he counted the few coins he had been clutching.

The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his salvation.

I held my tears as I stood there with them.

The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted.

He said, ‘Coffee is all Miss’ because that was all they could afford. (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm.)

Then I really felt it – the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the Restaurant were set on me, judging my every action.

I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman’s cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, ‘Thank you.’

I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, ‘I did not do this for you.. God is here working through me to give you hope.’

I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, ‘That is why God gave you to me, Honey, to give me hope.’

We held hands for a moment and at that time, we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give.

We are not church goers, but we are believers. That day showed me the pure Light of God’s sweet love.

I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in ‘my project’ and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, ‘Can I share this?’ I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class. She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings and being part of God share this need to heal people and to be healed.

In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald’s, my son, the instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student.

I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn:

UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE.

Hell – is it exothermic or endothermic?

This is the story of a special bonus question during a college chemistry test which most of the students answered with a varying degree of humor and fantasy. The story is just that – a story. I have no means of deciding of it was an actual professor with a sense of humor or just a creative writer – but whatever it is, it’s a good story.

Here is the question and the answer of the student who got an A+.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Answer: First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving, which is unlikely. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, ‘It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,’ and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct…..

…leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting ‘Oh my God.’