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I remember where I was and what I was doing shortly after one o'clock in the afternoon on December 7, 1941. My dad called me in to where he and a couple of his friends were sitting by the huge Stromberg Carlson 350R console radio, its front doors swung open. They were leaning forward, hanging onto every word coming out of the polished walnut cabinet. The breathless announcer was talking so fast he sometimes stumbled over his words. The usual calm and soothing baritone of a professional radio news reporter was replaced by an almost panicked staccato, an octave higher than his voice would have sounded normally. One phrase has stayed stuck in my mind's ear all these years, “They stabbed our boys in the back!”

At first I thought they were talking about Japanese soldiers bayoneting our soldiers and sailors in the back, as I had seen them do in the newsreels of the massacre of Nanking. Even as a kid, I knew war was on the horizon. Six weeks earlier, a Nazi U-boat had sunk the destroyer USS Reuben James as it escorted a convoy of cargo ships carrying food and supplies to England.

Everyone thought that when war did come, it would come from Europe. No one but a few farsighted tacticians like General Billy Mitchell were looking west, and even predicting that an attack would come by air. Mitchell was Court Martialed for his outspoken military and political heresy. When Americans were killed in what was to be the first military engagement of WW-2 with the sinking of the Reuben James, President Roosevelt held back committing troops and sailors to combat despite the provocation. Hitler was counting on that kind of restraint, or he would not have been so bold as to sink an American warship. He knew the US was not prepared to fight a war, since American troop levels had been drawn down to very low numbers, and much of the equipment was either obsolete or obsolescent. The country was recovering from the Great Depression, and needed time to re-arm.

Admiral Yamamoto took Roosevelt's options away from him that Sunday morning. Hitler was said to be furious with his Japanese allies.

Which brings us to the story my cousin Jimmy.

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The dirtiest secret of all in the health care professions is not insurance. It is about tired staff.

On March 16, 2013, Registered Nurse Elizabeth Jasper had just gotten off work. She was driving her small SUV eastbound on Ohio 50 when it left the road, went airborne and hit a tree. The wreckage careened into a parking lot. One does not need to be an accident reconstrucionist to know the crash was not survivable, by just taking one glance at the wreckage.

Beth Jasper, RN, is dead at the age of 38. She leaves her husband and two children. The preliminary investigation so far has revealed Nurse Jasper was supposed to work three 12-hour shifts that week, but had been held over to work extra doing specialized procedures. She is believed to have fallen asleep at the wheel.

Since that time, James Jasper, her widower, has filed a lawsuit against her employer, Jewish Hospital and its parent company, Mercy Health Partners of Southwest Ohio. As details of the lawsuit emerge, it shines a spotlight on a fact of corporate health care in this country which most people never knew.

Follow me over the orange flip for the rest of the story.

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On this Veteran's Day, we recognize those who sign up for the unknown. Some join out of patriotism and sense of duty. Others for adventure. Still others because of an opportunity to learn a trade or escape poverty. During WW2, young people joined by the tens of thousands. In the early days of the war, it was not at all clear America and her allies were going to win. Following the First World War, supposedly the "war to end all wars," America had demilitarized almost to the level we would now think of as a third world power. The Germany and Japan of the 1940s had the most powerful military forces the world had ever seen. Their leaders had demonstrated a ruthlessness and willingness to disregard human rights that boggled the imagination. We fought back. This is the story of a handful of of young men who signed up to fight in the air over Europe.

This is not going to be easy to read. It was not easy to write. This story is about Frank Kirby Cowan, and 167 other allied airmen from World War II.  Their story is unique in a way that the stories of all the other thousands of fliers from both sides of the conflict are not.  Our paths first crossed on August 23, 1946, but that is a story for another day.

Kirby was a young man from Harrison, Arkansas. His father, Joe, was an engineer for the railroad, and Kirby planned to follow in Joe Cowan'€™s footsteps. Then a war happened. Like so many thousands of other Americans, Kirby joined the service following the attack at Pearl Harbor. Kirby joined the Army Air Corps, and was assigned to B-17 bombers as a radio operator.  He said he had never flown in an airplane until he joined the Air Corps. He remembered his first experience flying in an airplane very well. The Air Corps did not waste time with orientation flights or sightseeing. Kirby'€™s first experience in an airplane had him standing up in the back seat of an AT-6 Texan, shooting a machine gun at a practice target being towed by another AT-6.

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There used to be a program on television called World of Speed & Beauty. It was about fast, beautiful and graceful machines on the land, water and air. It seems appropriate for these two videos.

These videos feature a P-38 Lightning and F4U Corsair. They are now owned by Red Bull, who is now responsible for their care, upkeep and displays.

This airshow display took place over La Ferte Alais, France 19 May 2013.

More over the orange turbulence.

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Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 03:12 PM PDT

Two Years Ago Tonight

by Otteray Scribe

No matter how dark it is, no matter how far it is, I will find you.

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View from Tim’s grave at the National Cemetery

Photo by Otteray Scribe (his father)

A few days ago I was reading another blog, and was stunned and appalled to read this opening line in a post (emphasis mine):

“For most of us, Memorial Day is a joyous occasion. We may think of idyllic, lazy summer days of childhood, whole months away from school. Our greatest concern might well be the inevitable traffic jams created when large groups of people head for the same destination at the same time.”
Many people mistake Veteran’s Day for Memorial Day. The day does not celebrate the veteran. It is a day of remembrance for those who never had a chance to become a veteran.

Veteran’s Day is November 11, formerly called Armistice Day. In the UK, November 11 is Remembrance Day, similar to Memorial Day.  The significance of the date is the end of World War I.  Armistice was signed at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh month.

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Shortfinals did not queue a diary this eveing, so I am filling in.  

Most everyone likes models, and model airplanes have captured the imagination for well over a hundred years. Many of the early aviation experimenters built models and tested them, including the Wright Brothers.  Most early airplanes were free flight, meaning they were launched and had no control from the ground. There are still free flight competetions, both indoor and outdoor.

Later, in the 1940s, control line flying became popular, reaching its peak in the 1950s and 60s. Control line planes are flown by a pilot using long thin wires to operate the controls. Control line is still being flown, and there are competitions, including stunt, speed and combat.

When Citizen's Band radio was created, radio control took off (pun intended).  Today, it is one of the most popular of model hobbies. Radio control has come to include cars, boats, helicopters and even model railroads.  

In recent years, new battery and motor technology has injected a new dimension to radio control. The motors are quiet, unlike gas or glow-plug engines. That makes noise complaints unlikely.  When electric motors are used, the airplanes can be made much lighter using foam, or very lightweight balsa and plastic film for covering the frame.  One of the premier competitions is the Indoor E-Fest.  

Follow me below the orange tailspin for more.

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This will be to the point.  There is a lot of information at the links provided.  For non-pilots, some basic background information is included first.  I know there are a lot of pilots, former pilots and aviation enthusiasts on this site. The first part of this diary will be old news, so feel free to skip to the last section near the bottom.  Be sure to read the AOPA/EAA petition (in PDF format) on the FAA linked page.

The Federal Aviation Administration issues medical certificates for pilots. There are three levels of certificate.  A Class III medical is good for private pilots.  The requirements for passing a Third Class medical are the least strict, but are nevertheless stringent.

Class I & II medical certificates are for commercial pilots.  That is, anyone who flies and gets paid for it (for hire) must have a Class II or higher medical certificate.  First Class medical certificates are the most rigorous and are required for Air Transport Pilot privileges.  That is, to fly airliners.  A Second Class medical examination has more stringent requirements than a Third Class medical.  Discussion of the First and Second Class FAA medical requirements and examinations are not the subject of this diary, and will not be discussed further.

Several years ago, the FAA created a new class of pilot. They are called Light Sport Pilots, and are not required to have a Third Class medical certificate. A current and valid driver's license will suffice. An LSA certified pilot can fly a special class of light aircraft called Light Sport Aircraft (LSA).  

Follow me below the orange turbulence for a discussion of what is at stake and what you personally can do to help. No barf bags or seat belts required on this flight.

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If you had the pleasure of meeting him some three hundred years ago, he would have told you he was called Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin.

Turlough O'Carolan was born in the year 1670 near Nobber, County Meath, Ireland. His birth date has been lost in the mists of time. He died on March 25, 1738 in Alderford, County Roscommon.

Carolan's father was a working man, apparently working as both a farmer and blacksmith. The young Carolan had vision until he was about eighteen. Sometime around his eighteenth year, Carolan was blinded by smallpox. Even before the illness which blinded him, he had shown a talent for poetry and music. After he became blind, he was befriended by a wealthy noblewoman, Mrs. Mary Fitzgerald McDermott Rowe, who became his lifelong patron. She was still a young woman herself, only about five years older than Carolan. She gave him a harp, a horse and some money. With that small start, the young blind man begin a forty-five year career as an itinerant harpist. All those long years, he traveled throughout Ireland, staying with many families who became a series of patrons.  He repaid their support by composing tunes (planxties) for his patrons.

In 1738 he began feeling ill. He returned to the home of Mary Fitzgerald McDermott Rowe in Alderford. During his last illness, she attended to him personally. She was with him at his bedside as he slipped away forever. Shortly before he died, he spoke these lines to his first and last patron:

Mary Fitzgerald, dear heart,
Love of my breast and my friend,
Alas that I am parting from you,
O lady who succored me at every stage.
There is only one known authentic picture of Carolan.  Obviously, this is a painting, since photography had not been invented then.

There is a statue of him in Mohill, County Leitrim where he spent much of his life.

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I have been told that we, “Had one of the great love stories of all time.”  I will not argue or dispute that.  We were married 55 years.  It was 56 years ago today that we exchanged vows. Like today, it was a Sunday morning and we got married at 11:15 AM Central Daylight Time.  She was a student nurse, and in those days, student nurses were not allowed to be married, so we eloped, and thought we would be able to keep it a secret.  Dream on.  She turned in her resignation to the nursing school the next day because we could not stand the idea of being apart that much.  A few years later, when civil rights laws began to take effect, nursing schools allowed students to be married.  She went back to school, finished her degree, and got her Registered Nurse license.  
We were married by Judge J. Fred Gore.  One of his relatives is a lawyer and told me that Judge Gore was Al Gore’s uncle.  No matter, the little ceremony held in his chambers that Sunday morning, “took.”

Here is Judge Gore filling out the Marriage License in his office.

I am not going to spend a lot of time on a history of her many accomplishments in this diary. I will save that for later. This is a love letter.  

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This evening that Reed’s mother and sister were sitting vigil at his bedside.  One year ago tomorrow, March 27, 2011, at 2:57 PM CST, he slipped through that mysterious veil, crossing over to whatever lies on the other side.  

He did not have a marker for his grave.  His mother hoped that someday she would be able to have a marker for him.  Having a memorial bench for him was something she had also wanted, but was far beyond her reach.  She is disabled, on SSI, and confined to a wheelchair.  She is a cancer survivor herself, but the radiation damaged her hips and gastrointestinal system, degrading her health dramatically.  The last words Reed heard was his mother whispering in his ear that, “No matter what, I will find you.”

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This started out to be a piece on some of my favorite Irish music.  It very quickly turned into something else.  Like me, my wife was of both Scottish and Irish heritage. She was a true Celtic princess, proud of her ancestry leading back to kings and queens in both countries.  She loved to listen to music and would often have me play video tunes for her, as we would sit here by my desk holding hands.  I am going to play some of her favorite Irish melodies for you this St. Patrick’s Day.   I hope these beautiful, and in some cases ancient, melodies speak to you.  Not too surprisingly, some are love songs.  We were married 55 years, and I miss her terribly.  

Sometimes, music helps.

First, I want to share a bit of my own family history.  On my maternal grandparents’ side, my grandmother’s family brought the family china from Ireland when they came to the Colonies.  It is some of the first Staffordshire made by William Adams, and has been in the family since about 1770.  This tea set is what remains of the original set.

 Although made in England, it was purchased in Ireland and has been in our possession for more than 240 years.

Follow me over the orange swirl for more…..

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