January Update

Where did this month go?  It hasn't felt like January to me-- probably because it's freakishly warm for Idaho, and because we've been busy enough that the month has flown instead of crawled by.  I have never been a huge fan of this month, but if it goes by like this, sunny and eventful, I could be easily swayed.

My wonderful grandparents and mother-in-law still read this sorely neglected blog, so this post is an update for them. 

Thomas has had a busy month.  He started swimming lessons again and absolutely loves it.  He told me tonight that he might not pass his class (they're learning the butterfly--sheesh!), but I think he wouldn't mind taking it again.  While he swims, I sit up in the loft bleachers and watch him gleefully jump up and down as he waits for his turn to dive.  He is so much more at home in the water than I have ever been and I love that he has found something active that he enjoys so much. 

Chess club started this month as well, and he still has piano and orchestra and scouts.  He keeps plenty busy.  I'm glad that he is busy because it's also been a tough month friend-wise-- Tom's best friend, Nathaniel, moved to Norway mid-month, and he is kind of at a loss.  Unlike Gordon, Tom doesn't have a bunch of neighborhood buddies, and it seems like that awful middle school caste system has slowly started to form in 5th grade.  Tom is friendly to everyone and I know that most of the kids in his class like him,  but he just doesn't gel with anyone else the way he did with Nathaniel.  Right now, I am praying for a good friend for my sweet little guy.

Speaking of scouts, last week our cub scouts had their annual Pinewood Derby.  Can I just say that I am not a fan of the derby?  Tom hasn't really cared about it either, which means that all three years, we've kind of just thrown together a car at the last minute.  This year, Tom made the "Nintendo World Tour" bus-- a silver bus with pictures of Nintendo characters on the side.  We all thought it looked pretty cool, but it didn't go very fast and Tom was momentarily disappointed that he lost every race.  That is a bummer.  Luckily, Reed's Dairy ice cream cures many a Pinewood Derby disappointment.

Earlier this month, a friend of ours took Chris, Tom and Gord up in a little airplane for a short flight around the Snake River Valley.  The boys had such a fun time (minus the few minutes of turbulence near Palisades), and it was a really fun memory for them.  They started in Idaho Falls and flew North over Rexburg and Ashton and around near the Tetons, then ended up right over our neighborhood on their way home.  What a fun adventure!

Gordon has been really busy this month as well.  In December, he started practicing with his team for the basketball season and this month they had their first game.  Unlike the other sports he has played, Gordon hasn't had quite as easy of a time getting into the game.  I think it's a lot harder handling the ball, dribbling, shooting, and passing, and having to struggle a little bit has been really frustrating for him.  Luckily, he's getting into it more and Chris has taken him to the church to practice indoors a couple of times.  The season lasts through the end of the month, so we'll see how it goes.

Gordon is such a funny thing.  I've mentioned before that he and I have our challenges, and it's something I think we'll both have to work on for a long time.  Right now we're trying something new-- we're both trying to have "good days" where he practices being obedient and helpful, and I practice not yelling.  We agreed that we both have to help each other.  It is a lot easier for me to keep my voice calm and positive when Gordon responds to what I am saying the first time, and it is a lot easier for Gordon to be cheerful and helpful when I am in a good mood.  Every day we have a good day, Gordon gets a sticker.  After 10 stickers, we do something fun together.  We started this on January 1st and today, the 31st, we got to do our first something fun.  It's a work in progress.

Gord couldn't wait until after our other activities and dinner were finished, so while Tom was at swimming lessons, we went to Wal-Mart, bought a little Lego set and a Valentine candy, and called it good.  I would have liked to do something a little more one-on-one fun, but Gordon really could not wait and I could see that a fight was brewing, so Wal-Mart it was.  Luckily, Gordon was super excited about his Legos and is already talking about what we're going to do in ten more days. 

Neil just loves to play and play.  His recent obsession is with the movies "Cars" and "Cars 2", and he loves to play with his little diecast figures from the movies.  He takes his Lightening McQueen(s) and his Finn McMissile(s) with him everywhere-- they even sit on the bathroom counter while he uses the facilities.  
I gave the two car toys the extra "s" because of this:  Neil has two of each.  Since he takes them everywhere he goes-- in the van, in Dad's car, in his bedroom, upstairs, downstairs, etc, etc, etc, he also loses them constantly.  And the first thing he says when he wakes up in the morning is "Where's McQueen?  Where's Finn McMissile?"  So, when he lost the originals, we picked up a couple more.  Then we found the originals (in the van and under my bed, respectively) and now he has two.  Can anyone say "spoiled"?

Neil graduated from Nursery (the 18-month - 3 year old class in church) to Sunbeams (the class will all turn 4 this year), and after the third week, his teachers informed me that he is a bit of a bully.  Apparently he has thrown crayons, hit and threatened to hit, and stepped on childrens' coloring pages.  Neil isn't around kids his age very much, so it's always a shock to me when I hear that he isn't a perfect little angel.  Okay, not a total shock, but still.

The last thing I want is for one of my kids to be that child, so every day last week, Chris and I talked about how important it is to be nice, how we shouldn't hit or throw crayons, etc.  I think it sunk in-- after church this Sunday, I asked his teachers how he was and they both said that he did great.  YAY!  The one did mention that he touched her leg, which was bare beneath her slightly over-the-knee skirt, and said, "it's poky."  Grimace.  

At least we're making progress.

That's it for this update-- it's 10:40 and we have another busy day ahead of us!

Thoreau’s Journal

“A perfectly healthy sentence is extremely rare.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

I don't mind repeating the statement, "If a man is worth knowing at all he is worth knowing well." And one of the best ways to know people well is through their letters (Van Gogh) and journals, especially when they have been dead for some time. In fact, journals are possibly the most intimate way to know a person, because when you meet "in person" you seldom get to the deep things in one encounter. If at a party, art opening, a lecture or passing on the street you only exchange niceties, and perhaps encounter the spirit of the person. Even then it is the spirit of the person for only that moment in time.

A journal gives you years of intimate insights as you follow the flow of a person's thoughts as it weaves its way around circumstances, experiences, the most nebulous and the most mundane fragments of a life.

It's been my pleasure to read a number of writers' journals over the years. Thomas Mann and Andre Gide were both Nobel prize winning authors and one can glean much, much, much from a writer's journals and notebooks. If you're serious about a writing career I would recommend Gide's especially. All four volumes.

I myself have endless journal entries with which I stained dozens of notebooks over a period of thirty years. Unlike Gide, or Mann, or in this case Thoreau, the "good stuff" would probably amount to a very thin book in contrast with the volume recently edited and assembled by by Damion Searls. And Searls' version of Thoreau's Journal, while a hefty volume itself, is but one tenth of the original 7,000 pages of material.

To a journal writer like myself, this is quite an output, considering that his journal work lasted only 24 years. Then again, he didn't punch a time clock from eight to five like most of us.

Thoreau's life and world were not like ours. There was no Internet. And though the industrial age was flexing its muscles he stepped back from there, retreating to space where he could become acquainted with, even intimate with the natural world. But he was not a monastic. At Emerson's house in 1857 he met John Brown, who led the raid on Harper's Ferry, one of the powder keg events preceding the Civil War. This fateful meeting caused Thoreau to take up the abolitionist banner. And though Walden is his most well-known book, his book on civil disobedience and the obligation to follow one's conscience was probably his most influential.

As nearly all journal writers do from time to time, Thoreau made entries on the process of journal writing. “We should not endeavor coolly to analyze our thoughts, but, keeping the pen even and parallel with the current, make an accurate transcript of them. Impulse is, after all, the best linguist, and for his logic, if not conformable to Aristotle, it cannot fail to be most convincing.”

I've often considered journal writing a place to hone the skill of capturing nebulous and ethereal ideas and transforming them into concrete words. Or like a man with a butterfly net whose specialty is ultimately pinning these beautiful "finds" in boxes so others can appreciate them.

This excerpt from an Amazon.com reviewer of the book explains how this particular volume was assembled. "The primary objective was to have it read as a representative version of the full journal rather than as a collection of excerpts. The editor therefore tried to balance material among the seasons and months, including keeping one of each month relatively unabridged. Another goal was to make it readable, so there is very little in the way of notes. Entries were chosen by personal preference, not historical importance. As you read, the date appears on the left page and Thoreau's age on the right so you always know where you are both in time and in his life."

Here are some of the headings for various entries:
The Loss of a Tooth
The Dream Valley

His fragment on poetry includes this beautiful thought. “No definition of poetry is adequate unless it be poetry itself.”

Here's another excerpt, which I recently shared on my Facebook page. “Men see God in the ripple but not in the miles of still water. Of all the two-thousand miles that the St. Lawrence flows – pilgrims go only to Niagara.”

What's impressive, and surprising even, is how good the writing is. Like other writers, he used his journal to polish his craft. He appreciated the value of a good sentence, and the two million words he penned were selected, chosen, not simply thrown down to fill space in a notebook.

You can read what others have to say about this book at Amazon.com or go for the overview of his life at Wikipedia. Either way you'll be rewarded. Or you can download it to your Kindle or Nook and take it with you on your next trip.

As you embrace the day, take time to stop and smell the roses.

Stephen Mark Hall

Stephen Mark Hall, 51, of Wewoka, OK passed away Saturday, January 28, 2012 in Wewoka. Stephen was born February 18, 1960 in Oklahoma City, OK to Floyd Harold & Mary Anne (Perkins) Hall. Stephen was a self-employed painter. He was preceded in death by his father; step father, James K. Carr; sister, Kathryn Anne Hall Green; grandparents, Arch & Myrtle Hall, Herman & Myrtle Perkins.

Survivors include his sons, Garrett Hall and Ryan Hall of Oklahoma City, OK; 3 grandchildren, Jadan Hall, Jordan Hall, Cameron Hall; mother & step father, Mary Anne & Steve Mendoza of Howe, OK; brother, Floyd & Cindy Hall of Wewoka, OK; step sisters, Loretta Edwards, Lavada & Mel White, Wannetta & Randy Kohl all of Oklahoma City, OK; step brothers, Jerry & Cherri Carr of Nashville, TN, Bobby Joe Mendoza of Fayetteville, TN; numerous cousins, other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Memorial services will be 2 pm Saturday, February 4, 2012 at the First Assembly of God Church in Howe, OK with Rev. Jack Barron officiating.

Ten Minutes with Cellist/Artist Kathy McTavish

The haunted, dynamic quality of Kathy McTavish's cello is fairly well known here in the Northland. What is probably less well known is how articulate she is, as you will see in this interview. Her multi-media collaborations open new horizons for the imagination, and those who choose to engage are rewarded.

Ennyman: What is it that first drew you to the cello as a vehicle for communicating the deep things stirring inside you?

Kathy McTavish: I first heard the cello the summer after third grade. The public schools in Minnesota used to have more arts programming. At my school in St. Paul, kids were shown different instruments and given an opportunity to learn to play in the school band or orchestra. I heard the cello and completely fell in love with its sound.

Despite the frustrations associated with learning the physical aspects of playing and the new language of wordless sound, I kept at it. I practiced for hours. The cello became an escape from a school world that I felt outside of. It was like a boat. I was taught Western classical music. It was the only path. I excelled for a time and then I felt a longing to be more engaged in the creative process in some way other than being an interpretive player. At the time I didn't know of how to do that. I studied music theory / composition but couldn't find my way. I pursued other things for a time and then I came back to the cello.

I started to explore the cello's sounds more broadly. Thanks to the generosity of local musicians, I started to explore improvisation. Free improvisation was a door that opened up a creative voice for me. It changed my relationship to my instrument.

E: I was fascinated with your Phantom Galleries Superior presentation last fall because of the multimedia experience and how you wove so many mediums into that space. How did that project come to be?

KM: I loved the idea of the Phantom Galleries and I respect anything that Erika Mock is involved in creating. I was drawn to the space between the old Androy Hotel and the Main Club and I wanted to interact with that vacant storefront. I had started expanding my sound work to include light and images / moving pictures and I brought this fusion work to that project. Many of the images used in the still-motion films were from the area around Tower Avenue. I collaborated with the poet Sheila Packa to embed words in the final installation. It was challenging for me to work without being able to use sound directly. Because the space is locked the viewer is left to gaze in through the window and the only sound becomes the streetscape ambient sounds. I wrote music for all of the films and included this in the online companion site for the exhibit.

E: You also write in an evocative manner that captures imagery in a lot of dynamic ways. Have you always been a writer? What prompted you to produce your book Birdland?

KM: I'm not really a writer. Thank you for your kind words about that book. I wanted to improve my ability to talk about what I do. I also wanted to explore in words -- the dream story that lived for me while I created the "birdland" exhibit. I found that writing helped me bring to life the ghosts that were present for me while I worked. I feel that an artist needs to risk something and for me, this was a vulnerable process. I felt very emotional trying to wander the strange world of words -- quite adrift.

E: Who have been your most significant influences as an artist?

KM: I love Patti Smith, abstract expressionist artists, beat poets. I love collaborating with Sheila Packa. I learned so much from working with Richie Townsend in the cosmic pit orchestra. I am inspired by local artists, writers and musicians. We are very lucky to live in this area. We have an openness to new ideas, experimentation and cross-media collaborations.

E: You've done a number of collaborations. How did those come to be?

KM: I have been lucky to have the opportunity to work with some wonderful people in a broad range of styles / art forms. I have worked with other musicians but also with poets, dancers, visual artists, and film makers. I like to learn from other artists. Collaboration brings that learning to a very visceral level that changes a person in ways difficult to describe.

E: My guess is that with each completed project you have something else in the wings. What will you be pouring yourself into in 2012?

KM: The multimedia installation "birdland" is at the Duluth Art Institute until April 8 (more online at: www.cellodreams.com/birdland.html). On February 3rd another collaborative exhibit will be up at the same Phantom Gallery space that I now occupy. This project is called "cruzando / crossing". It is a bilingual installation created by the Argentinian visual artist Cecilia Ramon, poet Sheila Packa and myself. I am working on a film called "night train / blue window" that will be complete sometime this Spring. The Jerome Foundation just funded work on a project called "graffiti angel / holy fool". This work has two aspects. The first, an experimental music / still-motion film will premier at the Zinema 2 this summer. The second, a multi-media live performance, will premier at Sacred Heart this Fall. All of my creative projects have a companion online exhibit space so you can watch them unfold at: www.cellodreams.com.

Pot advocate Dev Meyers is also a wannabe vigilante

The Examiner is a website that allows individuals the chance to pretend they are real journalists. They pay nominal fees to popular writers on a variety of subjects. A few weeks ago, a woman by the name of Dev Meyers, who is normally listed as a "National Cannabis Revolution Examiner," transformed herself into a "sex offender examiner." Maybe she was high on the cannabis when she decided to start writing on sex offender issues.

I wouldn't care if she didn't have this annoying habit of misspelling words like "Innocence" and making outlandish statements like the one above. But if that isn't enough, she accuses her detractors of being registered sex offenders, which got her in so much trouble, she eventually got her account deleted. Well, the SO Examiner account. But what do you expect from a pothead examiner who actually believes Casey Anthony is out to get her?

Too bad she recently decided to re-post her silly articles under "Mary 'Mother' Hubbard." She's a real mother alright, if you get my drift:

The Examiner really needs a more thorough screening process. UPDATE: Dev Meyers's alternate account has been deleted. Should she post a third, I'll post it here.

Zenith City Writers Event Proves Rewarding

If I were only permitted to read the Duluth News Tribune one day a week, that day would be Thursday. As nearly anyone who follows the art scene here in the Northland knows, or ought to know, this is when The Wave appears, a section of the paper dedicated to music, the arts, theater, food and movies. Hats off to Christa Lawler and all the DNT staff responsible for helping the community be more aware of all the exciting events and happenings taking place here.

Last night's event at the Teatro Zuccone proved exceptionally rewarding, an event I would not have been aware of had it not be highlighted on the Best Bets page of this week's Wave. To some I s'pose it would have sounded boring, a gathering of writers reading from their work. But the essays, poems and stories were anything but boring and it was pleasing to see a nearly packed house.

The theme was New Beginnings and the lineup was comprised of Lucie Amundson, Gary Boelhower, Anthony Bukowski, Tom Isbell, Dennis Kempton, Christa Lawler, Paul Lundgren, Elizabeth Nordell, Ryan Vine and Andy Bennett, who played the role of host and Master of Ceremonies.

I arrived early as if going to a rock concert. The room was quiet and I found a spot that seemed suitable near the front. The Teatro Zuccone is a wonderfully intimate setting for music, drama and last night for writers reading their works. As eight o'clock approached the decibel level increased dramatically, a palpable, almost wild energy filling the air. Mind you, this was a group of people gathering to hear writers. Peering across the room one could see a most ecclectic audience, from college students to old fogeys like me.

Finally, Andy Bennett, director of development with the Renegade Theater Company, ran to the podium to welcome the crowd and kick off the evening. You knew we were in for a ride as he read an essay about his junior high school experience titled Fresh Start. His humorous prose captured all of us instantly, or was it the entertaining delivery? His insights into the educational caste system, from his own personal point of view, evidently resonated with a crescendo of applause acknowledging a good story.

The distinguished Anthony Bukowski was then introduced. Mr. Bukowski read a short story titled "The Maritime Trader" about a married couple named the Krummys. (Here's where readings like this fail one, because we hear a name like that and in the book it might be spelled a half dozen other ways. Suffice it to say, I chose to spell Lloyd and Verna Krummy's names with a K.) The story tied in with life in the Northland as it involved a man with a telescope and a wife who ran off with a deck hand on one of the ore boats that frequent our port. More applause.

Ryan Vine, whose many publication credits left my head spinning, read a piece called Rule Book. It was fun and whimsical with sideways themes, some quite thought provoking.

Elizabeth Nordell, a story teller who also teaches story telling, recited a story rather than reading it. Her animated delivery is practiced, and the manner in which she constructed the story was equally skilled. You could tell the audience liked her, and at this point I wondered if writers have to be performers as well in order to be appreciated. The answer to this question followed immediately.

Tom Isbell, professor of theatre at UMD, read a segment from his novel The Hatchery. His vivid crisp prose hit like a punch. Isbell's words, not his delivery, gave us pause. A strong piece that made for a good place to break for intermission.

After the break Lucie Amundson, a former editor at Family Handyman (among other places), began with a long entertaining introduction which included humorous descriptions of life in the suburbs. (To her relief "Competitive Lawn Maintenance" is not a major sport pursued in Duluth, where she now resides.) Amundson, who described herself as "a wordy pole dancer" mentioned having notified a few friends that she was going to read a story that included nudity. The incident involving nudity was indeed hilarious.

Gary Boelhower, a professor of theology and religious studies at the University of St. Scholastica, followed. Dr. Boelhower shared four short essays tangent to the theme, "In the beginning was the Word." One of the pieces was titled "First Song." The essay or prose poem detailed how the letters of the alphabet are first presented to us with such innocence, but as we mature we learn new words that begin with these letters. By the end he has recited countless lists of A-B-Cs invoking references to wars, battles and the many stains on our human history caused by man's inhumanity to man.

Dennis Kempton, founder of Ouevre magazine, shared an extremely personal memoir titled Red Chalk. The piece appears in his book of essays titled Distance. The story, powerfully written with its candid pain flowing across the surface, could not help but tear your heart. As I drove home later I wondered how many others were reminded of the recent news stories of the horrors committed at Penn State. Kempton is to be commended for his courage as he shared this experience of being young, powerless, tyrannized and abused.

Christa Lawler followed with a narrative she called The Duplex. Christa's delivery and clever use of language shows how finely honed her wit has become over the years she's been pouring out prose for the newspaper and other outlets sixteen hours a day.

The night ended on a high note with Paul Lundgren giving us a rundown of what grocery shopping means to a newly married man, beginning with those early memories of trips to the grocery store with mom through all the phases in between, culminating in the challenge of running an errand for your lovely spouse carrying a shopping list that may or may not correspond with the items you find at that final destination, the Super One.

All in all, the net-net here is that we have a lot of talent in this town, and if you ever see it listed again that a bunch of writers are convening to share their work, don't underestimate it. Cheap entertainment and culture have kissed.

Awesome Feather impresses in Sunshine Distaff

Awesome Feather runs away in the Sunshine Millions Distaff
Photo:  Adam Coglianese, Gulfstream Park

Making the first start of her four-year-old campaign, 2010 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Awesome Feather easily outclassed five Florida-bred fillies and mares to capture the nine-furlong Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream today.  With her victory in the $300,000 contest, Awesome Feather remained perfect in nine career starts, and increased her bankroll to $1,861,746.

Awesome Feather made headlines as a two-year-old, capping an undefeated six-race season with a sparkling win in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs in November, 2010.  Led through the auction ring at the Fasig-Tipton November sale two days later, she was purchased by racing magnate and 2011 Eclipse Award-winning Breeder Frank Stronach of Adena Springs for $2.3 million, an amazing price for a homebred by the unheralded Awesome Again stallion, Awesome of Course, who was then standing for a mere $1,750 in Oklahoma.

Within a matter of weeks, though, Stronach got some bad news:  Awesome Feather was found to have a tendon injury that put her future racing career in doubt.  Undaunted, Stronach told trainer Chad Brown to give the filly as much time as she needed, hoping for the best but knowing that Awesome Feather might end up being retired to the Adena Springs broodmare band without ever racing in his colors.

Exactly 11 months after her Breeders’ Cup victory, on October 5th, 2011, Awesome Feather made her comeback, in the seven-furlong Le Slew Stakes at Belmont, where, as the prohibitive favorite, she didn’t disappoint, prevailing by two lengths against minor stakes fillies.  The effort set her up perfectly for the mile-and-an-eighth Gazelle-G1 at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving weekend, where she vanquished a field of eight, including today’s Affectionately winner, Love And Pride.   The long months of patience had paid big dividends.  Awesome Feather was back, with a vengeance.

And today, after a two-month layoff, Awesome Feather did it again, signaling that we may not have seen the best of her yet.  After his filly’s triumph, Chad Brown was noncommittal about her future plans, but wherever she goes next, she’s sure to elicit excitement.   

As a result of Awesome Feather’s exploits, Awesome of Course is now attracting a decidedly better book of mares at Journeyman Stud in Ocala, where his stud fee is listed as $5000.  He’s sired four other stakes winners, mostly in Florida-bred company, and all bred, like Awesome Feather, by Jacks or Better Farm.   Awesome of Course has only sired 40 named foals of racing age, but has gotten a phenomenal 13% stakes winners from those few opportunities, greatly improving the mares with whom he’s been matched. That compares favorably with his sire, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, who sired 11% stakes winners in his first crop, including Champion Ghostzapper and Grade I winner Toccet.

Out of the stakes-winning Gone West mare, Precious Feather, Awesome Feather is a half-sister to four winners, including stakes-placed Brooks ‘N Down (by Montbrook), who is now at stud in Oklahoma.  Her third dam is the Champion Two-Year-Old Filly and great racemare Quill, dam of the three-quarter brothers Caucasus (Nijinsky) and One For All (Northern Dancer), and ancestress of Champion and Chef-de-Race Run The Gantlet.  This is also the family of Champion Afleet Alex.

The Olde Toothpaste Challenge

The other day I was in the grocery store picking up a few items when I realized I was getting low on toothpaste and should pick up a tube. When I reached the section I had to scratch my Head because of the impossibly vast array of toothpaste options there in front of me. Tooth whitening, cavity fighting, bold tasting, fluoride enhanced... I finally went to the Crest section and here were still more choices. Ultimately I bought this spectacularly packaged, Crest Complete Multi-Benefit toothpaste, that not only whitens but gives you a cinnamon rush.

What a beautiful package. Not only is it red, white and blue, it's got some kind of holographic waves flowing across the background/foreground . It also has its main features repeated in Spanish so this dazzling product can be marketed in San Antonio and Los Angeles.

The whole experience of making this purchase brought to mind an Andy Rooney segment from the old Sixty Minutes show. Rooney was a pugnacious, wry wit who made millions distilling a week's worth of thought into a sixty second barb. By way of contrast, there are probably hundreds of local talk radio heads who make a few bucks by stretching sixty seconds of thought into sixty minutes of air.

One of Rooney's pieces was titled The Cost of Ingredients, which begins like this: "I keep looking at things I buy and keep thinking about how they got to cost that much." I can still hear his sarcastic snarl when I read that.

Andy Rooney begins this segment talking about packaging, citing a few examples. He then zeroes in on Crest. He bought two tubes of Crest, at two different places, one for $1.99 and the other for $2.39. Rooney had the ingredients tested at a place called Industrial Testing Laboratories. He wanted to know how much the ingredients for this product cost. To be fair he noted that this same procedure could be carried out with other popular toothpaste brands, so he wasn’t exactly picking on Crest.

He learned that the ingredients cost a total of twelve cents. Experts estimated that the tube and box cost about five cents.

Crest sold 200 million tubes of toothpaste that year, which would mean they spent 24 million on ingredients. With $10 million going to packaging and $41 million on advertising, the company spent half as much on ingredients as on marketing. And the revenue for all that toothpaste, at two dollars a pop, would have been $400 million.

But when I look at the box my Crest came in, I have to say it's really a work of art. It's simply beautiful how they manage to get so much information in such a small amount of space. Here are pictures of cinnamon, with fireworks around them, which means your tongue will be hopping for joy when you taste this paste. If the bright colors and images don't seal the deal, you can read the sales copy on the back. "Feel it working. Know you're covered."

Then the real benefits, in type so small you may need a magnifying glass. Fights Cavities. Removes Surface Stains Freshens Breath.

And the whole thing is repeated again in Spanish, because Hispanics also carry magnifying glasses in their pockets when they go shopping.

In fact, this box of Crest would be a useful tool for teaching Spanish to American children because being bi-lingual is useful in a country that will one day have more Spanish speakers than English.

Finally, let's get to the drug facts. The active ingredient in this tube of Crest is Sodium Flouride, o.243%. It's purpose is even stated clinically. This is an anticavity toothpaste. Other ingredients include sorbitol, water, hydrated silica, disodium pyrophosphate, sodium lauryl sulfate, flavor, sodium saccharin, sodium hydroxide, carbomer, xanthan gum, carnauba wax, cllulose gum, titanium dioxide and red 40. Feel better now? I wanna go brush my teeth again!

But wait. There are also some warnings. "Keep out of reach of children under 6 yrs of age." That's a little scary to me. And here's the really scary part. "If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact Poison Control Center right away."

Maybe three times a day is safer than every fifteen minutes after all. Have a great weekend. And don't forget to brush.

EdNote: You can find Andy Rooney's The Cost of Ingredients on page 169 of his book Years of Minutes.

Hot Off the Press: Viking's February Issue

I'm always a bit surprised when the newest issue of Viking appears on my desk. The other day I was in the middle of checking final proofs for the upcoming March issue when the February issue arrived, hot off the press. When I saw the lush cover photo it was like a breath of fresh, tropical air—a treat on a cold winter's day in Minneapolis!

I enjoyed working with Anna Klenke on our eco-fashion cover story, featuring the work of Norwegian designer Leila Hafzi and NICE (which stands for Nordic Initiative, Clean and Ethical). I must be the target audience for this article, because it really had an affect on me. It made me a more careful label reader and reaffirmed my commitment to buy recycled clothing when possible.

Our second feature highlights nine notable Norwegian immigrants that every Sons of Norway member should know. How does our list stack up against yours? Share your thoughts by emailing me at vikingeditor@mspcustomcontent.com.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

William E. Whitton

William E. Whitton, 56, of Howe, OK passed away Friday, January 20, 2012 in Fort Smith, AR.
William was born June 6, 1955 in Sebastopol, CA to Robert Easco & H. Lorraine (Smith) Whitton. He was a recycling engineer. William would give you the shirt off his back. He helped many in the community. You could not help but love him.

Survivors include his brothers, Lloyd Whitton, Thomas D. Wright & Joseph L. Wright; sister, Alma V. Wright; half brother, Matthew Whitton; half sister, Cassie; stepmother, Cassie Whitton; nieces, Carolyn Thomas, Jennifer Wright; nephews, Joey Wright, Tim Wright, Billy Wright.

There will be a memorial at the family home on January 28, 2012 at noon.

Are You Really Ready for the Cars of Tomorrow?

One hundred years ago Cadillac did something radical. They introduced a car with a self-starter. Hard to believe today that if you wanted to start a car way back when, you had to stand outside in the cold and crank it. I'm sure this wasn't a lot of fun for a young Minneapolis man on a first date when it was twenty below zero. But someone came along with an idea and decided to do something about it.

Cars have come a long way since then. But there was a time when cars didn’t have tubeless tires, or hydraulic brakes, or shock absorbers. And at one time your only choice when it came to color was black. Eventually cars began to have brain boxes, little computer chips that took care of more and more facets of your vehicle’s operation. But to be honest I’m just not sure how comfortable I am with where this is all going. I know that the people designing these cars of the future have good intentions, but…

Last summer a Pop Science article titled “How Intelligent Cars Will Make Driving Easier and Greener” caught my attention because for some reason the idea of cars doing all the thinking for us humans seems a little disconcerting to me. The article stated that not only will our cars predict what other drivers will do, they will also predict what pedestrians will do next as well. Now this month Wired magazine has a feature story that insists the next car you drive will drive itself.

Hmmm. I have a problem with this. For example, I recently spent six hours talking to tech support in India in an attempt to get our H-P computer to communicate with our H-P printer. Do I really want to be on my cell phone with a tech guy in India when my car fails to go in reverse? Or decides to drive to the Napa auto parts store when I want to go eat lasagna at Olive Garden?

That’s really not my biggest fear. What about when car thieves of the future start hacking your Camaro’s control center and drive it off to some slice and dice parts warehouse? It all just seems so weird to me.

But the honchos behind all this nigh tech fandango are committed. This past October the 18th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems convened for five days to discuss the future of transportation in this country. These folks are earnest about the possibilities of connectedness and travel. And there are plenty of companies involved in bringing this emerging technology into the automotive field.

Tom Vanderbilt, author of the article in Wired, falls all over himself in praise of Google's efforts in the development of these futuristic robotic cars. Here's one excerpt.

“The Prius begins to seem like the Platonic ideal of a driver, against which all others fall short. It can think faster than any mortal driver. It can attend to more information, react more quickly to emergencies, and keep track of more complicated routes. It never panics. It never gets angry. It never even blinks. In short, it is better than human in just about every way.”

The Wired article isn’t really about what Toyota and Ford have been doing for near two decades. They were exploring what the Google-nauts are up to, because Google seems just as invested in robotic transport systems as the old-timey players.

“While Google wants to create, in essence, computers that drive, the auto industry has been trying to make its vehicles drive more like computers. Bolstered by increasingly powerful and affordable sensors, sophisticated algorithms, and Moore’s law, the world’s carmakers have been slowly redefining what it means to be a driver, encouraging us to offload everything from shifting gears to parallel parking. The automated car isn’t just around the corner—it’s here. The more interesting question isn’t when we will let go of the wheel completely but what form and purpose the car will have when we finally do.”

I’m grateful for the many benefits technology has given us. But when you look at what it costs to fix a driver’s side door window because the electronic switch doesn’t work ($400), it starts to concern me where all this is headed.

For some reason I’m not quite ready to give up control of my steering wheel. Of course, for all we know the jet airplanes we fly on from city to city or continent to continent have only had pilots in the front to make us feel comfortable that some human is in control up there.
According to Wired, “The next generation of gearheads won’t obsess over horsepower and torque; they’ll focus on things like radar range, communication latency, and pixel resolution.” Really? Tell that to the Fast and Furious crowd. But then again, maybe I'm just an old fogey.

My next question relates to insurance. If my futuristic Ford Focus runs into a school bus and kills three kids, is Ford responsible or is it my fault because I was in the back seat with my girl friend?

Oh well… What will be will be.

Punxsutawney Phil

Groundhog Day is just around the corner, and I’ve yet to write a New Year’s post. December was all about DEADlines. The last time I blogged was on eldest son Erik’s 21st birthday on December 21. That was right before he flew home from studying abroad in South Korea. In less than a week he leaves on the first leg of his sojourn back to Seoul for the second term.

Erik spent the better part of this afternoon putting together a schedule and registering for classes. When I couldn’t give him a definitive explanation for why a class that meets for four hours a day is worth three credit hours, he was puzzled. After all I spent years teaching and advising at the university level.

I told him to ask his father.

Tonight his 16-year-old brother, Andrew, was looking at the general studies requirements for the major he’s interested in at the local university father teaches at.

This one knows better than to ask me questions on matters of academics, although in a previous ‘life’ I did have a few answers.

I don’t miss teaching and I really REALLY don’t miss advising, although I do still miss many of my students.

More than a few are parents themselves now, which kind of makes me feel like an honorary – aunt. Surely you didn’t think I was going to use the ‘G’ word?

I know all the rhetoric about age being a state of mind, you’re only as young as you feel, etc. but I ain’t buying it. When I was pregnant with Andrew, I was classified as being of ‘advanced maternal age.’ I was pushing 36.

Never, ever do I get baby fever…not even puppy fever. This morning Erik laid out the classifieds from the Omaha newspaper and circled the ad for the $500 Labradoodles (I have allergies). This same Erik is leaving the country for five more months then will finish up college and then venture out for parts known or unknown. No puppy passports right now. I told him if his father, who periodically lobbies for a dog, gives up his motorcycle I’d be happy to get us all a puppy.

No takers.

Last weekend, though, a strange thing happened. Nostalgia for the baby years sideswiped me. Even though I had babies, I’m not a baby person. My husband is wonderful with babies, I’m skittish. I went to a couples baby shower for a delightful woman in my book group. The event was for two couples; the other mom-to-be was Erik’s children’s literature teacher last year and his minor advisor. She’s sweet and smart, and watching the joy on her husband’s face as he took his turn opening presents was worth the price of admission.

I, however, spent the rest of the weekend morbidly depressed. Former students having babies are one thing, former professors of my own son having first babies?

Intellectually I know my husband got his first assistant professor position at the tender age of 27, but were we ever really that young?

Over the years I’ve been to and hosted a multitude of baby showers – and never felt the urge to return to those rewarding exhausting times.

But for a fleeting moment on a mild January afternoon, I was transported back to those days of diapers (and diaper rash), onesies, and fleece.

The trip didn’t last very long. And for my children the adventure is just beginning.

But just to be on the safe side, I recycled the classifieds.


Prior to 1958, the only aircraft I had flown was a United Airlines Douglas DC-3 (as a passenger) on a round-trip flight between Omaha and Des Moines, then in 1957, a United flight on a DC-6 to Norfolk. The next time I flew was in 1958. In the NROTC program, the second summer “cruise” was a combination Marine Corps and aviation orientation. The aviation portion was about three weeks long in Corpus Christi, Texas. What a great place to spend some time. Most of the aviation training was classroom lectures and flight physiology. We each had two flights - one in the P-5M “Marlin” patrol sea plane and the other in the F-9F “Cougar” fighter.

The Martin P-5M “Marlin” flying boat was powered by two Wright R-3350 radial engines. It was 100 feet in length with a wingspan of 118 feet and had a typical crew of eleven (11). The take-off weight was 85000 lb, maximum speed was 250 mph, ceiling was 24000 feet and it’s range was slightly more than 2000 miles. Primary mission of the P-5M was anti-submarine patrol, but it was being phased out for the newer P-2V. It was said for the P-5M you “Take off at 50, cruise at 50 and live to be 50.” The aircraft had removable wheels, which were installed after landing so the aircraft could taxi up the ramp to park. On my flight we were flying well out in the Gulf of Mexico and got to take the controls for a short time. The crew demonstrated dropping flares and sonobuoys, then made a shallow dive firing rockets. When our plane developed a serious problem (never was explained to us what that problem was), we descended as low as we could - very near the water. We opened all the hatches and were told that if we heard an explosion, jump out. Eventually, we landed in the water and taxied the rest of the way back to base. We made it back with no further incident.
The Grumman F-9F “Cougar” was used extensively in the Korean conflict in the 1950's and also saw duty with the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. The aircraft was powered by a Pratt & Whitney J48 engine producing over 7,000 lbs of thrust with speeds in excess of 640 miles per hour. Armed with 2 x 20mm cannons and underwing/fuselage provisions for ordnance ranging from bombs to air-to-surface rockets, the Cougar was a light attack strike fighter and capable dogfighter that could undertake carrier-based or land-based operations. Later versions of the Cougar were equipped with very early versions of the ultimately successful AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile. It’s dimensions were Length: 44.42ft, Width: 34.51ft, and Height: 12.24ft. Maximum speed was about 650 mph and it had a range of 1000 miles. Service ceiling was 50,000 feet. In addition to the 20mm guns and Sidewinders, the Cougar could carry up to 2000 lbs of external ordinance (bombs).
Before we could fly in the F-9, we had to undergo special training in the classroom. There was an ejection seat trainer, which simulated the “kick” when ejecting from the aircraft. A seat was mounted on rails and when you pulled the ejection handle, you were fired up about ten feet on the rails. We also had to undergo training in the pressure chamber to learn the oxygen system. The instructor pilot lead us around for the preflight inspection and flew us to the operating area. Then I was given some “stick” time on the controls, at first just trying to keep the plane straight and level. After trying a few turns, the pilot let me do some rolls and other mild maneuvers. This was great fun and definitely was the highlight of the summer of 1958.
The Beechcraft T-34 “Mentor” was the aircraft used by the Navy for primary flight training at Saufley Field in Pensacola, Florida. Powered by a Continental 225 horsepower engine, it’s top speed was about 190 mph and it cruised at 170 mph. It was an excellent aircraft for learning basic flying skills before moving on to more advanced aircraft.
Before any flight training, we had to complete preflight training. Ground school and physical training was intensive. We had classes in mathematics, physics, aeronautical engineering, theory of flight and general Navy orientation classes. Physical training consisted of wrestling, self-defense, sit-ups, push-ups, trampoline, rope climbing, parachute landings, etc. The culmination was the obstacle course. We also had extensive survival water training, having to demonstrate three swimming strokes (side, breast and crawl) and to tread water for 30 minutes. We jumped off a 20 foot tower to learn procedures for jumping off a ship and did a burning oil swim, where you swim under water and then splashed the burning oil away to surface for air. Everyone had to pass the Dilbert Dunker-water crash simulator. It was a cockpit like cage mounted on a 25 foot ramp. The cage slid down the ramp into the water, then flipped upside down and sank. It was disorientating and taught you how to know up from down under water.
My first flight in the T-34 was June 12, 1961 and the last was August 2, 1961. Before any flights, we were expected to memorize the procedures for each maneuver we would do on any flight. During the first eleven flights we practiced takeoffs and landings, at an outlying field, and stalls and unusual attitude recoveries. My instructor was Lt Edgar. The twelfth flight was the “safe-for-solo check flight by a special instructor. Mine was Lt Lashbrook. After demonstrating all the maneuvers we had learned, we made several landings and takeoffs at the outlying practice field. When the instructor thought you were safe, he had you make a full stop landing, and he got out and said good luck. The date was July 21, 1961. I made a successful takeoff, turned downwind, and landed. After picking up the instructor, we returned to Saufley Field and had the traditional first solo “photo op”. That same afternoon, I was assigned another aircraft and made my first solo flight, which lasted 1.3 hours, mostly doing touch and go landings at an outlying field.. At that time I had a total of 16 flight hours. What an experience. In the next phase of training, in addition to takeoffs and landings, we practiced more stalls, spins, steep turns accelerated stalls, and were introduced to acrobatics, including aileron rolls, wingovers, barrel rolls, loops, Immelmans, grave yard spirals and half-Cuban eights. We also practiced no power “dead stick” landings at a grass field. After the solo flight, we alternated flights with an instructor and as a solo. The final flight was a check flight by Lt Kline. The precision acrobatics stage was easily my favorite, until carrier qualifications later in my training. I finished primary flight training with twenty-three (23) flights for a total flight time of 29.8 hours, and 92 field landings.
The North American T-28B “Trojan” was the aircraft used for intermediate flight training. Powered by a 1425 hp R-1820 Wright Cyclone engine, the Navy version had a 10 foot 1 inch three blade Hamilton standard propeller. There were cowl flaps to control engine temperatures. It had an under-fuselage speed brake. The T-28 had a wingspan of 40 feet 7 inches, an overall length of 32 feet 11 inches and a takeoff weight of about 8000 pounds. Maximum speed was just under 350 mph and service ceiling was 37000 feet. Two models were used during intermediate training - the T-28B and the T-28C. The “C” model included a tailhook system and was used primarily for carrier qualification training. It was a fun airplane to fly and could be used for almost any flight maneuver.
T-28 training was at Whiting Field, a short distance from Pensacola. As usual, before flight training, there was intensive ground training. Courses included engines, hydraulics, aerodynamics, airframes, electrical systems, instrument procedures and regulations and flight procedures. We also had training in night vision and vertigo. Signals at night were passed with flashing lights, so we learned Morse code. The flight schedule was training in nearly all phases that we would use throughout our Navy flying career. There were nine transition flights for (11.8 hours) practicing takeoffs, landings, and stalls, 17 precision acrobatic flights (21.5 hours), 12 basic instrument flights (15.8 hours), 8 radio instrument navigation flights (14.9 hours), three night flights (5.1 hours), 15 formation flights (34.7 hours), 5 gunnery flights (7.7 hours) and 13 field practice carrier qualification flights (9.3 hours). We learned how to control the fuel mixture, propeller pitch and throttle, depending on the flight envelope at the time. We also had to monitor, and control, carburetor air temperature. In addition to the aerobatic maneuvers practiced in the T-34, we began practicing recoveries from spins. The T-28 spins could be very intense, especially if it went progressive, reversing spin direction. I felt privileged to be cleared for practicing spins on my solo flights. My love of spins later lead to my nickname of “spin.”Formation flying was a completely new flight evolution and, at first, stressful, having been taught to stay away from other aircraft. Now we would begin flying within a few feet of one or more aircraft. After a few flights, learning to see and control relative motion, I became comfortable. It was very rewarding after you got the hang of it. Most of our flights after this stage of training were conducted in formation. We had five air-to-air gunnery flights, shooting at a banner towed by another aircraft. We weren’t very good, but it did give us a chance to maneuver the aircraft in different attitudes. This was also a new flight maneuver. Our first instrument training was in old flight simulators, called “blue boxes”. They were cockpit sized and mounted on a basic motion system that rotated and pitched up and down somewhat. We learned instrument scan, practiced instrument approaches and radio instrument navigation. We then flew hooded in the backseat of the T-28. We practiced all phases of basic instrument flying, including flying with needle and ball ,only, after main gyro failure. We then went on to radio instrument navigation training, using radio beacons, VOR’s and the new TACAN systems. For us, the TACAN was amazing because it provided distance as well as bearing. These flights qualified us for a basic instrument rating which was need for to fly at night. The first night flight was an orientation flight with an instructor, primarily to get accustomed to flying with less visual references, and to practice night landings. The night VFR navigation flight proved to be very interesting. There was a set route that we all would fly after being launched a couple minutes apart. Some students managed to get lost immediately. Others landed ahead of aircraft that started earlier, having passed them in flight. I completed basic training in the T-28 Trojan aircraft at Whiting Field 19 February 1962 after 82 flights for 120.8 flight hours, and 176 field landings (12 at night). I completed 12 instrument approaches during that phase and 67 practice carrier landings at the field. The USS Antietam was not available for actual carrier landings, which normally are the conclusion of basic flight training. It was very disappointing not to get to go to the carrier. That would have to wait. After completion of the T-28 syllabus, we had an opportunity to request jets, attack props, patrol, or helicopters. Ground school and flight grades were used to assign pilots. My grades were high enough that I pretty well was guaranteed my first choice. I requested the AD attack aircraft and was chosen. I was excited to be assigned to Skyraider training, and many flight students were envious. The AD was being replaced by the A-4 “Skyhawk” and was the last of it’s type. I proceeded directly to VT-30 at Corpus Christi, Texas for advanced flight training.
The Douglas AD-6/7 “Skyraider” (later renamed the A-1H/J) was conceived and built in the closing years of World War II and served extensively in Korea and Viet Nam. It was the last of the piston powered attack aircraft. Powered by a Wright R3350 “cyclone” twin row 18 cylinder supercharged radial engine, rated at 2700 H.P., with a four-bladed prop, the Skyraider was 38 feet-10 inches long, with a wing span of 50 feet. Water injection was available to increase maximum manifold pressure. Maximum speed was 322 mph and it cruised at 198 mph. Landings, with full flaps, were made at about 100 mph, depending on weight. Range was 1316 miles and the service ceiling was 28,500 feet. The aircraft had four 20mm guns in the wings and could carry up to 8000 pounds of external ordnance, including bombs, torpedoes, mines, rockets and gun pods. There were three fuselage stations and twelve wing racks. It could carry anything that could be attached to the wing racks (and did.). Dive brakes were mounted on both sides, and the bottom of the fuselage, permitting near vertical dives. A gunsight was mounted on the instrument panel. Whenever pilots gather, tales unfold recounting the legendary feats of the “Spad” during it’s service in war and peace. It was an amazing close ground support aircraft.
All Skyraider training was conducted by VT-30 at Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. There was extensive ground school, covering all aircraft systems, such as engine, prop, electrical, hydraulic, air frame, and weapons. Flight procedures and regulations, emergency procedures and aerodynamics were also covered.. My ground school grades were near record and made the base paper. The first ten flights were in the T-28 and included instrument training, night flights, and one flight to simulate the AD Skyraider flight characteristics. This was necessary because all the AD aircraft were single seat and the first flight would be solo. I accumulated 20.3 hours in those ten flights in the T-28.
The first time in the cockpit of the AD was learning to start the engine and taxiing to the runway. The engine was known for difficult starts. The following illustrates the starting procedures for the R3350 engine, modified slightly for levity:

Starting procedures for the 3350 radial engine on an AD-6/7

Drain both the sumps. Look out the left side of the oily cockpit canopy and notice a very nervous person holding a huge fire bottle. Give th start signal to this person.

1. Crack throttle about one-quarter of an inch.
2. Battery on
3. Mags on
4. Fuel boost on
5. Hit starter button and turn engine through four complete revolutions.
6. Begin to bounce your finger on top of the primer button. This requires finesse and style. The engine must be seduced and caressed into starting.
7. Engine begins belching, banging, rattling, backfiring and sputtering. Flame and black smoke from the exhaust shoots out about three feet. (Fire bottle person gets very pale and has the nozzle at the ready position)
8. When the engine begins to “catch” on the primer, move the mixture slowly to full rich, releasing the primer when the engine starts. The flames from the exhaust will stop and white smoke will come out. (Fire bottle guy relaxes a bit) You will hear a wonderful throaty roar that is like music to the ears. Enjoy the smell of engine oil, hydraulic fluid and pilot sweat.
9. Immediately check the oil pressure and hydraulic gages.
10. The entire aircraft is now shaking and shuddering from the torque of the engine and RPM of the prop.
11. Close cowl flaps to warm up the engine for taxi.
12. Glance around at about 300 levers, gauges and gadgets and then call the tower to taxi to the duty runway.

Taxiing was different because it was a “tail dragger” plane and you couldn’t see over the engine and cowling.. Continuous S-turns provided the clearance in front. When on the runway, you ran up the engine, checking manifold pressure, magnetos and oil pressure, released the brakes , then added full power to get the feel of the torque. Once up to speed to lift the tail wheel, you aborted the takeoff by pulling throttle to idle rapidly. The aircraft immediately would veer to the left and you had to apply hard right rudder to keep the aircraft pointed down the runway. It was a challenging experience, and I learned why you needed a strong right leg. Instructors and other pilots observed these “aborted” takeoffs to see which was most colorful and to catch any “ground loops. Takeoff procedures were not much different than what follows:

Take off in the AD-6

1. Check both magnetos
2. Exercise the prop pitch
3. Cowl flaps open.
4. Check oil temp and pressure.
5. Crank 6 degrees right rudder trim to help your right leg with the torque on takeoff.
6. Tell the tower you are ready for takeoff.
7. Line the bird up and lock the tail wheel.
8. Add power slowly because the plane (with the torque of the monster prop and engine power) definitely wants to go left).
9. NEVER add full power suddenly! There is not enough rudder in the entire world to hold it straight.
10.Add more power and shove in right rudder till your leg begins to tremble.
11.Expect banging and belching as you roar down the runway at full power.
12.Lift the tail and when it “feels right” and pull back gently on the stick to get off the ground.
13.Gear up
14. Flaps up

My first AD Skyraider flight was 2 April 1962 and my training was completed with my last flight 27 June 1962. During that time I had 52 AD flights for 109.6 hours. I accumulated 140 field landings, 82 field practice carrier landings, and 10 carrier landings on the aircraft carrier Antietam. All flights in the AD were solo in a single-seat aircraft. This was an airplane that was actively flying in the fleet. It was a “tail-dragger” aircraft so some of the landings were very colorful. If you landed wheels first, the aircraft would begin porpoising down the runway. Every flight was different and great - loved it all. Since it was solo, first flight was in loose formation. Instructor pilot, in a chase plane, dropped all but one aircraft over a landmark to orbit while he had another pilot practice basic stall maneuvers and practice landing patterns. Another pilot then took that place until all had passed . We then proceeded to home field for our initial landing. Again, instructors and other pilots lined the hangar windows to observe the first landings, which often were “forgettable.” Flights after that included basic flying skills, stalls, accelerated stalls, spin recovery, acrobatics, basic and radio instrument training and night flying. Remember that all flights were solo, so spin recoveries were practiced with no instructor help. Snap rolls are unique to propeller aircraft with powerful engines. Power was reduced to landing power settings, aircraft was set up in a simulated landing turn, then you raised the nose to approach a stall. At that time, full power was applied rapidly. The aircraft would snap roll to an inverted attitude. Low-level navigation “sandblowers” were practiced for the first time and knew I was going to like this flying business. We also had practice bombing flights, dropping 25# MK 76 bombs, and air-to-air gunnery practice. The culmination of training was carrier qualification. After many flights practicing carrier approaches at an outlying field, came the big day. June 27, 1962, I proceeded to the USS Antietam, making two touch-and-go landings and eight arrested landings. On July 2, 1962, I was designated Naval Aviator #19049.
I finished flight training in less than 14 months (18 months programmed). I had a short time at home and then headed for California in my red Pontiac and all my necessary possessions. I was assigned to VA-122 for post-grad training in the AD before assignment to VA-145. The trip from Council Bluffs to Moffett Field in Mountain View, California took only 2-1/2 days. I had my first experience with California rush hour traffic when I arrived in the Bay area. Intelligently, I proceeded south on the west side of the bay.
Post-Grad flight training in VA-122 mirrored the training in VT-30, but, of course, more advanced. My first flight was August 7, 1962. “Sandblower” minimum altitudes were reduced to 500 feet over land and 200 feet over water. We made one weapons deployment to NAS Fallon, Nevada to complete our Attack Weapons Delivery Pilot qualifications. Weapons training was greatly expanded to include air-to-ground gunnery (strafing) and live heavy ordinance drops. We also practiced close air support, rescue missions and nuclear weapons delivery procedures. Carrier qualifications were on the carrier Hancock off the coast of Hawaii, where I learned some of the advantages of going to sea in ships- you get to visit places like Waikiki. For the first time, I qualified for night carrier landings. At night, there is frequently little visual reference for aircraft attitude. It is stressful and takes every bit of skill you can muster. I logged ten day and eight night carrier landings, plus six catapult launches, on the USS Hancock. My last flight at VA-122 was January 31, 1963.
My Skyraider flying continued when I joined the fleet squadron, VA-145, stationed at Naval Air Station Moffett Field, Mountain View, California. Proficiency training continued and became intense as deployment approached. During my tour with VA-145, I made two deployments to the western Pacific, both on the USS Constellation. Also made six other shorter at sea training cruises, one on the USS Yorktown. The first cruise was peacetime, staying very close to the published schedule of at sea times and port calls. The second cruise became a combat cruise, when we participated in the first retaliatory strikes against North Vietnam, described in a later chapter. My last “Skyraider” flight was November 8, 1965. I finished the AD portion of my flying with 1183 AD flight hours, 105 of which were under instrument conditions, 594 field landings, and 202 carrier arrested landings. All the carrier landings were on the USS Constellation, except for 18 on the USS Hancock, 8 on the USS Yorktown and 5 on the USS Ranger.
I have great memories of the time and hours I spent in the “Skyraider.” It was a powerful airplane, that was fun, yet challenging, to fly. It didn’t have all the modern computer and navigational aids. Weapons were aimed and fired using a manual bomb site. Mil settings for each type weapon and dive angle had to be computed. Navigation was done on a maneuvering board, using time and heading, and computing wind visually. Carrier landings were best, but flying low level navigation “sandblowers” was a great challenge to a pilot’s skill. In combat, it could survive a lot of battle damage and could stay on target a long time. I flew search and rescue (SAR) missions, close air support for ground forces, bombing missions and escorted helicopters. I was fortunate to have some great instructors in VT-30 and VA-122, and fellow pilots and mentors in VA-145. Our squadron had great pride in our skills and prodded others to achieve more.

Someone (anonymous) wrote the following description about flying the AD.

1. Once your reach altitude which isn’t very high (about 8000 feet) you reduce the throttle and prop to cruise settings.
2. The next fun thing is to pull back the mixture control until the engine just about quits. Then ease it forward a bit and this is best mixture.
3. While cruising the engine sounds like it might blow or quit at any time. This keeps you occupied scanning engine gauges for the least hint of trouble.
4. Moving various levers around to coax a more consistent sound from the engine concentrates the mind wonderfully.
5. At night or over water a radial engine makes noises you have never heard before.
6. Looking out of the front of the cockpit the clouds are beautiful because they are slightly blurred from the oil on the cockpit canopy.
7. Seeing lightening in the clouds ahead increases the pucker factor by about 10.
a. You can’t fly high enough to get over them and if you try and get under the clouds----you will die in turbulence.
b. You tie down everything in the cockpit that isn’t already secured, get a good grip on the stick, turn on the deicers, tighten and lock your shoulder straps and hang on.
c. You then have a ride that exceeds any “terror” ride in any amusement park ever built. You discover the plane can actually fly sidewise while inverted.
8. Once through the weather, you call Air Traffic Control and in a calm deep voice advise them that there is light turbulence on your route.
9. You then scan you aircraft to see if all the major parts are still attached. This includes any popped rivets.
10. Do the controls still work? Are the gauges and levers still in proper limits?

Some observed differences between round engines and jets

1. To be a real pilot you have to fly a tail dragger for an absolute minimum of 500 hours.
2. Large round engines smell of gasoline (115/145), rich oil, hydraulic fluid, man sweat and are not air-conditioned.
3. Engine failure to the jet pilot means something is wrong with his air conditioner.
4. When you take off in a jet there is no noise in the cockpit.
5. Landing a jet just requires a certain airspeed and attitude---at which you cut the power and drop like a rock to the runway. Landing a round engine tail dragger requires finesse, prayer, body English, pumping of rudder pedals and a lot of nerve.
6. After landing, a jet just goes straight down the runway.
7. A radial tail dragger is like a wild mustang---it might decide to go anywhere. Gusting winds help this behavior a lot.
8. You cannot fill your Zippo lighter with jet fuel.
9. Starting a jet is like turning on a light switch---a little click and it is on.
10. Starting a round engine is an artistic endeavor requiring prayer (holy curse words) and sometimes meditation.

Following my tour in VA-145, I was ordered to VT-9 at Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi as a flight instructor in the T-2 “Buckeye.”
The North American T-2 Buckeye” aircraft was the Navy’s intermediate jet trainer, operating at Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi in two squadrons, VT-7 and VT-9. The Buckeye was 35 feet 8 inches long with a wingspan of 38 feet 2 inches and two place cockpit. The General Electric J85 turbojet engine provided 2950 pounds of thrust, Maximum speed was 521 mph and the service ceiling was 44,400 feet.
I was assigned as a flight instructor in VT-9. From January 1966 to December 1968, I accumulated 1721 flight hours, 66 instrument flight hours and 697 field landings. I qualified for a “green card” special instrument rating while in VT-9 and received an award for completing 1500 flight instructor hours with no accidents. When I checked in to VT-9, there was some apprehension on the part of the jet pilots about a “prop” pilot instructing students how to fly a jet. Actually, flying a jet is much simpler than an AD. Things just happen a little faster. You don’t have to worry about fuel mixture, propeller pitch, torque, carburetor air temperature, and managing engine temperatures with cowl flaps, all while flying in formation. The T-2 was a tricycle gear aircraft, so taxiing was easier-no “S turns.” With an angle of attack indicator, landings were a matter of maintaining the correct attitude and controlling altitude with power.
As a flight instructor in training, it was much the same as being a student at the start. Ground school covered all the aircraft systems, flight procedures and regulations. Because of the altitudes flown by jets, it was required to have pressure chamber training. We also had night vision training, vertigo training and ejection seat training. Initial training consisted of basic flying skills and landings, precision acrobatics and instrument training in the front seat.. The next stage was instructor training. Flying in the back seat, you had to demonstrate each and every flight procedure and maneuver, all while describing the actions. This was preparation for flying with students. The last flight, before you could fly with students, was called the “idiot flight.” The instructor in the front seat intentionally made all the mistakes a student might make, including things like trying to raise the landing gear before you were safely airborne. You were expected to record all the mistakes and the debrief the “student” and explain all the mistakes. After twenty flights, I was considered safe to begin flying with students. My first student was Ensign Mullaney. I got him successfully through training with no unsatisfactory flights.
While flying student flights, my own training continued with flight in instrument stages, night flying, and formation flying, all designed to get qualified for instructing students in those stages of flight training. We typically flew three or four flights each day. After two years, I began training the new instructor pilots, just as I had been trained. This was not as stressful, but was challenging. Eventually I was assigned to fly the “idiot flights,” which was great fun.
I had one “incident” while assigned to VT-9. Flying in the back seat, with a student in the front, we were preparing to land at home field (NAS Meridian). The suddenly went full left. According to emergency procedures, that was an uncontrollable situation, which called for ejection. We were in the landing pattern at an altitude less than safe ejection envelope. I applied full right rudder and safely landed the aircraft. My house of flying in the AD had strengthened my right leg enough to be able to override the full left rudder.
I learned a lot about precision flying during this tour, and I am sure that helped me during my final flying days. After three years, I received orders to VA-147 at NAS Lemoore, California via VA-122 for training in the A-7 “Corsair II.” My last T-2 flight was December 4, 1968.
The TA-4 Skyhawk was a standard A-4 with an extra seat added for the flight instructor. Flown by VA-125 at Lemoore, California, pilots ordered to training in the A-7 Corsair II received ten instrument flights before starting A-7 training, because there were no two-seat A-7'. During the ten flights, I accumulated 18.6 hours of flight time, 17 hours of instrument time, and 30 instrument approaches, all from January 21 - 31, 1969.
The Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II was a carrier-based subsonic light attack aircraft introduced to replace the United States Navy's A-4 Skyhawk, initially entering service during the Vietnam War. The Corsair was later adopted by the United States Air Force, the Air National Guard, Greece, Portugal and Thailand. The A-7 airframe design was based on the F-8 Crusader produced by Chance Vought. It was one of the first combat aircraft to feature a head-up display (HUD), an inertial navigation system (INS), and a turbofan engine. There were three wing stations on each wing capale of carrying multiple bomb racks. There were two fuselage sidewinder racks.The A-7's integrated weapons computer provided highly accurate bombing with CEP (circle error probability) of 60 ft regardless of pilot experience. When the inertial systems were “tweaked”, the CEP was often less than fifteen feet for experienced aviators. The A-7 offered a plethora of leading-edge avionics compared to contemporary aircraft. This included data link capabilities that, among other features, provided fully "hands-off" carrier landing capability when used in conjunction with its approach power compensator (APC) or auto throttle. Other notable and highly advanced equipment was a projected map display located just below the radar scope. The map display was slaved to the inertial navigation system and provided a high-resolution map image of the aircraft's position. Moreover, when slaved to the all-axis auto pilot, the inertial navigation system could fly the aircraft "hands off" to up to nine individual way points. Typical inertial drift was minimal for newly manufactured models and the inertial measurement system accepted fly over, radar, and TACAN updates.
VA-122 at NAS Lemoore, California was the training squadron for the A-7. When training was completed at this squadron ,a pilot was qualified in all missions of the A-7 aircraft. These included day and night attack, search and rescue, surveillance, and in-flight refueling. As usual, ground training was intense. Classes were conducted in all aircraft systems, including airframe, engine, flight controls, hydraulics, electrical, weapons, oxygen, ejection seat, communications, navigation and flight instruments. Ground training included the ejection seat simulator, pressure chamber check with pressurized oxygen and flight simulator instrument training. Other courses included flight operating procedures and regulations and safety and emergency procedures.
Training began in the A-7A/B, but as they became available, I phased in to the A-7E because my future squadron, VA-147 would be changing to that new aircraft. Flying characteristics were similar, but there were major differences in the weapons and navigation systems, as well as a new TF-41 turbofan engine. As in the AD, there were no two seat aircraft, so all flights were solo. First flights were orientation flights, with standard flight characteristics, approaches to stalls, landings and precision acrobatics. Night flying was introduced early, as well as basic instrument training flights under the hood. Low level “sandblowers” were easier than in the AD’s because of the inertial navigation system and the map display, as well as terrain following radar. Minimum altitudes, for training, were 500 feet over areas of population, 200 feet in remote areas and 100 feet over water. As before, this type flying was challenging, and I loved it. Flights we trained for were to takeoff, then go “hooded” to fly a high altitude leg, then going visual and descending to 500/200/100 feet, as appropriate. We then navigated at low level, avoiding populated areas and simulated radar sites, to a target area, where we dropped a practice bomb. The goal was to hit the target within 30 seconds of planned time. Surprisingly, that was doable.
Something new, to me, was in-flight refueling, commonly referred to as “tanking.” The A-7 had a fueling probe on the starboard (right) fuselage, just below the canopy, which was extended for fueling. The tanker aircraft flies straight and level and extends the hose/drogue which is allowed to trail out behind and below the tanker under normal aerodynamic forces. The pilot of the receiver aircraft extends his probe and uses normal flight controls to "fly" the refueling probe directly into the basket. This requires a closure rate of approximately two knots in order to establish solid probe/drogue couple and pushing the hose several feet into the tanker’s fueling store. Too little closure will cause an incomplete connection and no fuel flow (or occasionally leaking fuel). Too much closure is dangerous because it can trigger a strong transverse oscillation in the hose, severing the probe tip. Another significant danger is that the drogue may hit the recipient aircraft and damage it. Instances have occurred in which the drogue has shattered the canopy of an aircraft, causing great danger to its pilot. The optimal approach is from behind and below the drogue. Because the drogue is relatively light and subject to aerodynamic forces, it can be pushed around by the bow wave of approaching aircraft, exacerbating engagement even in smooth air. After initial contact, the hose and drogue is pushed forward by the receiver a certain distance (typically, a few feet), and the hose is reeled slowly back onto its drum in the tanker aircraft. This opens the tanker's main refueling valve allowing fuel to flow to the drogue under the appropriate pressure to the receiving aircraft.
During the attack phase of training, we practiced dive bombing, level low level bombing, straffing, rocket attacks and loft runs. We trained for close air support and dropped live ordnance on ground targets. Search and rescue operations were also practiced, including finding a pilot on the ground and escorting rescue helicopters.
The A-7E had a radar that was used for radar controlled bombing missions. Training for the radar and mission was conducted in a T-39 aircraft before actual flights in the A-7. The T-39D aircraft was a low-wing, twinjet, radar-navigational trainer manufactured by North American Aviation, Inc with the axial-flow engines pod-mounted on the fuselage rear section.

Propulsion: Two Pratt & Whitney J60-P-3A engines
Length: 44 feet
Height: 16 feet
Wingspan: 44 feet 4 inches
Weight: 20,000 lbs.
Airspeed: 500 miles per hour
Ceiling: 43,100 feet
Range: 1,505 nautical miles, Maximum
Crew: 3
Armament: None
As usual at the end of training, there was carrier qualifications, both day and night. Field carrier landing practice (FCLP) was practiced at Lemoore or an outlying field, usually Crow’s Landing. This was used because it was very dark in the valley and was closer to what it would be like on the carrier. During this phase I completed 89 FCLP landings and 15 carrier arrested landings on the USS Constellation. After one last landing, as I was catapulted, the canopy blew off and hit the vertical tail of my aircraft, pushing the tail back about five degrees and causing a severe pitch up. Luckily, I was able to keep the aircraft under control and brought it around for an arrested landing. There was serious damage to the aircraft tail section.
My last flight at VA-122 was July 28, 1969. Following completion of training in VA-122, I reported directly to VA-147, located in an adjoining hanger at Naval Air Station Lemoore, and continued flying the “Corsair II.”
During my tour with VA-147, I made two cruises to the Western Pacific. The first on the USS America and the second on my old friend the USS Constellation. Most of our flights were in support of operations in Vietnam. Combat flights were primarily bombing on tactical positions, with some close air support, photo recon escort and rescue patrols. The A-7E was a great flying machine. The avionics systems were far advanced beyond most aircraft at that time. My last flight in VA-147 was May 6, 1972. My next duty station was VA-122 as an A-7 flight instructor.
Having spent three years as a flight instructor, being assigned to VA-122 to train fleet pilots to fly the A-7 mission was an easy transition. After a short indoctrination period, I began immediately to fly training flights. Two and a half years later, November 5, 1974, I flew my last A-7 flight. ,I finished my A-7 flying with 1082 hours, 742 field landings and 308 carrier landings.
While stationed at VA-122, I was assigned to help set the specifications for a new flight simulator for the A-7E. Traveling several times to Dallas, Texas, then to England and Germany, I flew in four flight simulators to experience the motion and visual systems. They included the 747, L1011, Jaguar and Harrier. The L-1011 simulator was programmed to simulate spins. Probably no airline pilots ever got to spin the L-1011.
My last flying was in the C-1A “Trader,” while assigned as Carrier Air Traffic Control Officer on the USS Enterprise. The C-1 Trader was a nine-seat transport used as a Carrier On-board Delivery (COD) aircraft, It was powered by two 1,525-hp Wright R-1820-82WA Cyclone 9-cylinder radial piston engines with wing span of 72ft. 7in., length: 43ft. 6in. And height: 16ft. 7in. Maximum takeoff weight was 29,150 lbs. I only had a few flights before operational necessity grounded me.
Flying was my life work for quite some time. The rewards of performing difficult missions cannot be described. Although very challenging, and sometimes dangerous, carrier landings made it all worthwhile. At times, I was pushed to the limit of my skill, but the training received by the Navy always came through. Teaching others to fly as a flight instructor was especially rewarding. I wish I could have continued flying longer and accumulated more time that what I did, as follows:


T-34 30 00 92 00
T-28 237 54 297 00
AD 1183 105 594 202
T-2 1721 66 697 00
TA-4 19 17 00 00
A-7 1082 215 742 308
C-1 15 2 2 00

TOTAL 4287 459 2424 510