July 27, 2006

Iowa Governors Race

Poll numbers indicate that republican Jim Nussle has continued to increase his lead on democratic challenger Chet Culver. The just released Zogby snapshot of the race can be found here.

July 25, 2006

Flying Alaska: Part 2

I started flight training with an instructor named Mike. We flew in an old Cessna 152, a little 2 seater with a hundred-horse engine that when loaded with fuel and 2 adults struggled to get off the runway. The interior was threadbare from all the students that had flown her before me.
The first few lessons had gone very well. It was on my 5th flight that Mike took over the controls and decided that it was time to introduce me to stalls.

For the non-pilot there is often a misconception of what it means when they hear that a plane stalls, often assuming that the engine has died and the plane subsequently crashes. A stall actually occurs when the pilot lets the angle of the wings get too steep and airflow stops flowing over the wings reducing lift. It can be dangerous due to the fact it usually happens close to the ground, such as when your making the turn to final approach during landing or while circling low and slow over a moose during hunting season. The plane often goes into a spin and there is not enough altitude to recover.

Mike didn'tt really take the time to prepare me for what he was about to do. Before I realized what was happening, he had pulled back on the throttle and pulled the nose up above the horizon and all I could see out the window was blue sky. When the stall occurred, the little plane seemed to shake and buck as it struggled to continue flying.

My stomach moved up into my throat as Mike performed the stall recovery. "What the hell was that?" I asked as he returned the control of the plane back to me. He talked me though the stall procedure, only I had a big problem with the whole concept of intentionally causing a plane to stop flying.

For the next week I pondered and read and performed the stall recovery in my head dozens of times. I was confident that I knew the procedure. I can do this!

On our next flight we started the lesson as usual with turns, climbs, and descents until finally it was time for stalls. Pull back the power. Get her slowed down. The airspeed is bleeding off. Ease in the flaps. Ease back on the elevators. Keep that nose up. Keep those wings level with the rudder. The stall warning horn is wailing in my ear. With our nose pointed toward the sky I waited. I was flawless!

At the instant that plane stalled and the nose began to drop I started the recovery procedure that I had perfected in my mind. I quickly pushed the yoke all the way forward, slammed the throttle all the way to the firewall, and what happened next would just about end my flying career before it even began.

The nose of the plane pitched violently toward the ground. I let go of the controls as I came out of my seat, hitting my head on the ceiling despite the seat belt. All I could see out the front window was the ground racing up to meet us.

Mike was furiously working to pull us out of the dive. When he finally returned us to straight and level flight he calmly turned the plane back toward the airport, his only comment being "I have never had a student do that to me before". He was obviously as surprised as I was by the whole event.

Instructors will tell you that students have invented a hundred ways to kill them and I had just added one more.

I dont care who you are..........

July 24, 2006

Dumb Vee.

IowaHawk has put out the word to help Operation Dumb Vee to spruce up this government issue machine.
Send your favorite magnet to:
Dr. Darren Lee
310th PSYOP Co.
COB Speicher
APO AE 09349

Meet Dr. Lee and the dumb vee here

Flying Alaska: Part 1

I had always felt flying was just a necessary evil that one endured to get to some far off destination. I never dreamed that flying an airplane was something I was capable of doing. When Gray and I first met, he had been a pilot for several years. He and his father owned a single engine Cessna 172 based at Merrill Field in Anchorage, Alaska. Shortly after we met, Gray offered to take me for a sightseeing tour through the mountains surrounding the Anchorage area. Having never flown in a small plane before I was curious, but not really too enthused about going along for the ride. However, one can’t really say no to an invitation like that.
Gray and his dad eventually sold the 172 and had completely rebuilt a Cessna 180. This was the ultimate Alaska Bush plane. It had the room and the power to haul anything you needed, and the range to really go places. We would load up the plane with camping and fishing gear, or our mountain bikes and head out across Alaska, Gray, occasionally letting me take the controls. It was probably the time that he flew us up the Knik Glacier Gorge, 100 feet off the ground with a wall of blue ice off one wing tip and a sheer rock wall off the other, that I thought, this is too cool. I have got to do this!

I came across a video the other day of some intrepid flyer running the Knik gorge. See it here.
If you should go. Flight Advisory

Next time. Flight training.

July 21, 2006


In three days, what is billed as the largest air celebration in the country begins in Oshkosh Wisconsin. Airventure 2006 is an annual flying / aircraft extravaganza hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Assosiation.
I have intended to go to Oshkosh every year since we returned to the lower 48 but other obligations seemed to get in the way. But not this year! By this time next week the crew and me will be on the way to a weekend of exhibits, air-shows, and thousands of airplanes of every description all gathered in one place.

July 20, 2006

An Arab Perspective.

Some months ago I searched the Iraq blogs to get some inside perspective on the war there and found that Iraq the Model was one of the best written, insightful sites out there (plus he actually responded to an email) Today he has a piece that sheds some light on the current mid east blow up that is worth considering.

July 19, 2006

Isreali Restraint.. What would TR do?

Don't hit at all if you can help it;
don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it;
but if you do hit him, put him to sleep.

Theodore Roosevelt
New York City, February 17, 1899

July 16, 2006

The BIG House.

I had a thought last night, after talking about the race for the govenors office, where did the victor live once he got there. The answer is Terrace Hill Mansion (pictured above). Built in 1868 it became the govenors residence in 1972. I'm not a big fan of Victorian architechture, I'd prefer a nice turn of the century Craftsman.

July 15, 2006

Campaign under way.

I probably rely too heavily on getting news I can use from the Cedar River Rag. Unfortunately I am a recovering newspaper addict and can’t start the day without a cup of coffee and ink stained fingers.
That being said, I was sure there was a gubernatorial election underway but news so far has been pretty slim. The only story of note to date reported that a Culver aide misappropriated a Nussle quote as his own and posted it on Chets web site. Oops.
But things really began to heat up this week when Republican Congressman Jim Nussle fired the first volley across the bow of challenger, Secretary O State Chet Culver.
This issue……Stamps!
Jim demanded that Chet not take unfair advantage by using states dollars to mail out voter information with his grinning picture on it. To give his demand some bi-partisan moral weight he invoked a quote by New York Senator Hillary Clinton, of all people, that said an election commissioner (Chets part time gig) may have a conflict of interest by overseeing his or her own election. The fox guarding the hen house so to speak.
Chet fired back that Jim better not be licking and sticking any free stamps from his US Congressional office either.
With only 90 days till the election things can only get better.

July 14, 2006

Eminent Domain Veto Override

The Iowa Legislature has bowed to public sentiment and voted to over ride the governor's veto of HF 2351, which restricts Eminent Domains powers in the state. This is a rare victory for the protection of the rights of the property owners of Iowa and all the Representatives that voted to override deserve a hearty thanks.
According to the DM Register , Gov. Vilsack is still promising to take this action to court. He should reconsider.

The argument promoted by the Cedar River Rag that it will tie the hands of localities in attracting business and economic development is just blowing smoke. What it will do, is require civic leaders to engage in some long range planning and to use a bit of that vision that they always claim to have in such abundance.

Speaking of Deer.

It had been many years since I last hunted, but I had the opportunity last fall to spend a couple days with my sister and her family chasing deer around north east Iowa. We had spent the better part of two days and no one had gotten a deer, although we had thrown a ton of lead at them. Finally late that afternoon we had flushed a couple up a gully and past my brother in law and me. First to pass was a huge buck followed closely by this little doe. Steve took a couple of shots at her and as the pair continued up the hill I couldn't resist taking a couple shots at the Buck. I figured I would think of something later if I hit him. As he raced past, the doe stopped dead in her tracks not 20 yards in front of me. Even I can hit a stationary target at that range. The only shotgun I own is a 12 gauge Mossburg with an 18 inch barrel that had the front sight knocked off at some point. I had it bought originally for Alaska bear protection . Needless to say, after I bagged this poor little doe the joke was, little gun little deer. But the bigger joke was that I was the only one to get a deer that weekend. We are still enjoying the sausage and can't wait to go again and next year. I'll be sure to bring a bigger gun.

Motor City Madman

I have never been a big fan of Ted Nugents music but he isnt afraid to tell you how he sees it. Plus he has a great sense of humor.
From the Independant......
"What do these deer think when they see you coming?" I ask him. "Here comes the nice guy who puts out our dinner? Or, there's the man that shot my brother?"
"I don't think they're capable of either of those thoughts, you Limey asshole. They're only interested in three things: the best place to eat, having sex and how quickly they can run away. Much like the French."

July 12, 2006

No more Haliburton to kick around.

I noticed yesterday that my daily dose of Iraq news was conspicuously missing from page 3 of our Cedar River Rag. Just an oversight on the part of some overworked copy editor I’m thinking. Day two and once again no Iraq. Am I witnessing a paradigm shift in the delivery of war news? We will have to wait and see if a trend has truly developed.
The more interesting news was buried back on page 6, a blurb that will have the loons spending the weekend reprinting their protest signs.
"Army Discontinuing Deal with Haliburton."
This episode has been a blunder by the administration. Didn’t anyone have the PR sense to do something about the whole Haliburton imbroglio from the start? Why give your detractors such a prime target that fits so neatly on a protest sign.
First. I will admit that every time I heard that there was going to be another round of base closings I thought "gee that’s great but where are they going to put all those guys." How hard would it have been to hammer home the fact that during the 90’s, the military that was once a self sufficient war fighting entity had cut staffing by 40%, farmed out the jobs of cooks, truck drivers and the like to a temp agency, and shifted war fighting responsibilities to the part time help over at the Guard and Reserves.
Second. In light of that, explain loud and long that if you are going to be structured this way you hire companies that can meet these needs. The people over at Kelly Services are great but its oil service companies that are geared to get this job done. They are experts at logistics and no industry is more capable of throwing men and equipment at projects worldwide than they are. The have handled projects from the North Slope of Alaska to the oil fires in Kuwait. Including the company (Veco) that mustered the forces to clean up the oil spill in PWS in 1989.
Finally, if it smells like a rotten fish it probably is. Giving sole source, no bid contracts to someone you are connected with smells no matter what spin you put on it. The whole brouhaha should have been avoided.

July 10, 2006

Flippin Flies Together.

"It’s obvious there are no salmon running" I explained to the woman that somehow puts up with me. "There are no people here." It was the first summer we were together and I was going to introduce her to flipping flies for sockeyes on the Kenai River. Crowds means fish and we were pretty much alone on the river.
She persevered through the rain and mosquitoes, flipping flies till her arms ached, but to no avail. She won’t hesitate to tell that the one red she hooked was lost when I tried to net it. You got to be tough in the North Country and she has proven to be all that and more.
Allot of salmon have returned to the rivers since that first summer, and together we have traveled many miles, most of it up stream it seems. In that time we have even been blessed with a little fry of our own.
In hindsight any of the reasons we had for leaving Alaska were perfectly valid, but after beating the waters through two disastrous moves and several terrible jobs, the reality was we were desperately flipping flies when the chance of landing a big one were painfully slim. Thankfully we have been fishing for that big one together.

Eminent Domain, Thomas Jefferson would be dismayed…

The Iowa legislature is meeting in special session on Friday to vote to override Governor Vilsack’s veto of the law restraining the power of governments in the state to take property for private development though the eminent domain process.
A lame duck with his eye on the national stage, Vilsack has threatened to take the issue to court if the override succeeds. "If this wasn’t an election year people might be reasonable about this", he says, decrying election year posturing by the legislature to call a special session. Vilsack prefers to negotiate changes in the bill during the next session. (Gazette)
The position of our local paper is not to worry, that kind of thing isn’t happening here and even if it did, shouldn’t we exchange economic development (tax revenues) for a bit of urban renewal.
There has been reams of commentary written about eminent domain since the Supreme Court's Kelo decision has brought the subject to national attention. I won’t go into any rants about the evils intrinsic to government but I would like to put it into a historical context.
Thomas Jefferson originally wrote that all men have the right to life, liberty, and property. Property of course was changed to the pursuit of happiness but Jefferson, a follower of the political philosophy of John Locke, believed the governments primary duty is the protection of those values. Jefferson would certainly be appalled that those protections could be abrogated by an overreaching interpretation of eminent domain.
I hope that you are also appalled and will take the time to contact your senator and representative and ask them to override the Governors veto.

July 06, 2006

Ink on Paper, The end of an era.

When I started out in the "newspaper bidness" 28 years ago, one old timer in the pressroom predicted that in 50 years there wouldn’t even be newspapers. No sweat, papers would die about the time I was ready to retire. Old Jack’s prediction turns out to have been pretty accurate, as I come to the realization that the printed page truly is a dinosaur that has become mired in the tar pits of the information age.
Declining retail and classified revenues, and declining circulation will eventually spell doom, first to the smaller unprofitable markets and eventually to the midsized circulation papers. There remains very few independant papers in the country today and the trend will be to for papers to cluster their resources in an attempt to delay the inevitable. Layoffs, declining stock prices and the continued consolidation within the industry are merey signs that the major corporations are having trouble squeezing returns out of their already bleeding properties.
Not to say that there won’t be newspapers around for the future. The larger markets will survive fora time although multipaper towns will continue to become a rarity. There may also eventually be a market for another National Daily ala USA Today.
Full color or the Newspaper in Education program has done little to put papers on the doorstep. As newsholes have been reduced, fluff sections have been reduced to 4 page thowaways. The hometown newspaper will have to reinvent itself, if it is to survive in the printed form.
"The power of the press belongs to the one that owns the press." and "Never argue with someone that buys his ink by the barrel." are two newspapers quotes I have always admired but are no longer relevent in this electronic age.
For a person with ink in his veins this is all a sad reality... And reasons to move on.