Saturday, April 30, 2005

OK Guy Cooking Posted by Hello

OK Guy Cooking

One of my great pleasures in life is good food. You can tell from this photo that beer is high on my list as well. I have found over the years, with few exceptions, I can make better than I can buy or at least when I cook for myself the food pleases me and it has very few false notes. The same can not be said for most restaurants. In the above image I’m making Hollandaise for some beautiful fresh asparagus. I like to make Hollandaise over a direct flame. Three egg yokes, a ¼ pound of butter, a few drops of water, stirring over heat until the butter and eggs are an emulsion. Then season with salt, white pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper, add fresh lemon juice to taste. The same basic sauce works for so many other foods as an example if you want BĂ©arnaise for a steak just add some fresh chopped tarragon and shallots to the sauce. It is so easy and so much better than anything you can buy.

I’m Back

It is Saturday morning and I have “The Lone Star Jukebox” playing as I surf the Internets. The changes in the way we live over my lifetime would have been unimaginable when I was growing up on a West Texas dirt farm. From no phone or TV, coal oil stoves and lamps, outhouses, and “Amos and Andy” on the radio to today’s playing a Houston radio station while in Oregon, talking to the office or your loved ones on cell phones from remote areas of Africa and Asia, traveling from one coast to the other in less time than it took for us to go to town and buy supplies and all of it so common as to be unremarkable. Still no TV but that is by choice :-).

I spent some time in the new Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport while in D.C. It brought home just how much of the history of aviation I have witnessed in my life, that I have been involved for just a couple of years short of half the time of powered flight. If it had not been for the Wright Brothers my life would have been very different. I often wonder how long it would have been before someone other than the Brothers solved the central problem of controlled flight, adverse yaw, if the Wright’s had not. Like most problems, once solved it is simple to understand but at the time of early powered flight no one other than the Wright Brothers had a clue and none were building machines that had a chance of being controlled once airborne. But once we solved that problem, progress was rapid. Like the other changes in my life time, today’s glass cockpit, speed, range and altitude capabilities of modern aircraft were unimaginable when I climbed into the rear seat of a J3 Cub for my first flight lesson.

Today I describe myself as an “antique flying antiques”. None of the airplanes I’m typed in are still in production and haven’t been for almost 20 years. That’s the bad news, the good is; the other airplanes are just now catching up to the performance of the LearJet. BTW, the first LearJet Model 23 is on display in the Air and Space Museum. I can’t tell you how it tugs my heartstrings to see it in its rightful place of honor.

The power of music is great; to think this post started because I heard Ray Wily Hubbard on my computer speakers.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

I’m On the Road

The blog didn’t die after a short week of life. I’m just on the road and do not have time to write anything that would hold my interest much else anyone else’s. I should be back by next Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Street To Our Compound In Kabul Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Kabul Cook and Station Manager Posted by Hello


Our compound in Afghanistan is walled with an outbuilding for the guards. The main house is split by a hallway with office, kitchen, common area and dinning room on one side and three bedrooms, each with a bath, on the other side. There are guards on duty 24 hours every day and all are armed with AK-47s. We also employ two drivers, a cook, a house cleaner and a station manager. Electric heaters and kerosene space heaters supply heat but the house has little insulation so it is always cold. Electrical power is available every other day and then for only about eight hours and you never know which eight hours. The rest of the time we use diesel generators for power.

Cuckoo Nation

With pot and porn outstripping corn, America's black economy is flying high,12271,947880,00.html

Thursday, April 14, 2005

King's Tomb Posted by Hello

Never Bored

If I continue to work for this company I will never be bored. Two days ago it was a trip to Iceland, tomorrow it will be Las Vegas, Anchorage and back. Sometime next week they are planning a trip to the Philippines, I doubt it will happen but who knows.

Yesterday I wrote about how every building in Afghanistan was bomb and bullet marked. Today’s image is of the “King’s Tomb” overlooking Kabul. There are still people caring for it and they will take you down to the tomb area below the dome. The tombs are in good shape.

The Tomb over looks the infamous football stadium where the public executions took place.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


But embarrassing.

Isam, Khartoum Airport Posted by Hello

Isam, Our Driver in Khartoum

Isam was our driver in Khartoum; this photo was made the first day we were in country. We were at the airport to try and get visas for the flight crew. For some reason mine was held up and I didn’t get my permanent visa for several weeks.

When Isam saw the camera he struck this pose for me. His English was limited but most of the time we would end up in front of where we wanted to go. Sometime it would take 2 or 3 tries with many signs, hand signals, head nods and “yes..yes…I understand", all the while you knew he didn’t understand.

Khartoum traffic was our major source of entertainment while in The Sudan. Any description of it will not do justice; it must be lived to be believed. It was a mix of cars, buses, motorcycle jitneys, donkey carts, donkeys and even a camel or two. People walking along side and in the road, some herding sheep or goats, men sitting almost in the road on rugs drinking tea, and families living in tents by the road ways. No one paid the slightest attention to stop signs, stop lights, lanes or even one way roads. If there were an opening in the traffic some one would fill it. Yet traffic moved very well and there were very few accidents. The only time traffic came to a standstill was when the police would show up and try to direct the flow. Then it would come to a complete stop. Go figure.


From Kevin Drum and the Washington Monthly

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

IED Afganistan Posted by Hello

IED (Improvised Explosive Device)

The photo is of an IED that was found near the entrance to Kabul’s airport. It is very simple, a large pressure cooker filled with explosives and a motorcycle battery for a detonator.

Afghanistan has been at war for decades. Unless you have been there you will have trouble understanding the amount of ordnance scattered around the country, how almost every building and road is bomb and shell damaged, and the number of Afghans on the streets who have lost limbs to IEDs, land mines and other ordnance. Yet Economic Man lives. The markets are full of food and other goods for sale and there are street vendors on every corner selling everything from phone cards to U.S. dollars.

When I first arrived in Kabul I would see the rug dealers placing their rugs in the street so the cars would drive over the rugs. I learned that used rugs were more valuable than new ones and what better way to quickly turn a new rug into a used one than a few hours of cars and trucks driving over it. Reminded me of visiting Maine Antique shops and seeing things marked “age unknown”.

Monday, April 11, 2005

James Wolcott

I know that I tend towards the Chicken Little school of economic thought they say "a stopped clock is right twice a day". You need to read James Wolcott's post.

America: We Stand as One Remix

This version is more like it.

Peak Oil

Anyone who knows me knows I do not have a high opinion of most of the “Masters of the Universe”. Many if not most are venial, dumb shitheads.

One exception was a man I worked for almost 20 years, Matt Simmons; Matt is one of the smartest men I have ever known. He was the brain behind the restructuring of the Oil Service Industry in the early 80’s. While the process was not pretty and many jobs were lost, the industry came out of the 80’s downturn and in a better position to compete with the rest of the world.

Matt is publishing a book soon on what I think will be the major crisis of this Century if we do not plan for decreased supply and increased prices of oil in the near future. Kevin Drum of the “Washington Monthly” has a post on Peak Oil and a link to Matt’s book. Check it out.

N911JA or why RVSM is a good thing

I don’t have the whole story yet but from what I’ve been told a friend’s life was saved by RVSM (Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums). Starting in January of this year unless your airplane has been approved for flight in RVSM airspace you are limited to FL 280 or below. He was flying N911JA in the high 20’s when a 18” hole blew out the bottom of the pressure vessel. Odds are, if not for RVSM he would have been in the low 40’s when the explosive decompression happened.

We practice emergency descents every time we go to Flight Safety and the drill is always the same…the instructor yells “boom you just lost the cabin”. We reach behind and don our oxygen masks and in one motion kick off the autopilot, retard the thrust levers, deploy the spoilers, and drop the landing gear, pointing the nose down to keep the airspeed on the barber pole. We hold that speed until we are at a safe altitude and the exercise is complete. BTW we also know it is coming because it is the only time we have the Sim at FL410 all week .

In the Sim it works every time. In real life I have strong doubts anyone would survive no matter how good the training. In the low 40’s the best conditioned pilot has less than 20 seconds to get on oxygen. While I’ve timed myself putting on my mask and I can do in a little less than 10 seconds that is in a normal environment, not the world of a decompressed cabin at FL430.

The first problem is you would not be able to breath, in fact all the air has been sucked out of your lungs and you would be in intense pain from the expansion of any trapped air. You would not be able to see, the cabin would be full of condensation, and the noise would be deafening. The cold alone would be defeating. You would be fighting panic: yours, your co-pilot’s and any passenger’s that could reach the cockpit. It is a world that is hard to imagine and impossible to simulate.

That’s the bad news, not much chance you will make it out alive. The good news is it doesn’t happen often and if you are so unlucky that it happens to you it will be over with quickly.

BTW I flew N911JA for almost a year back in 2001.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Three rules of travel

Over the years I have developed three rules of travel that have stood the test of time.

The first is: You get on the first airplane that will get you within a $100 cab ride of your destination.

The second, you don’t eat fish in Kansas.

And the third, never eat Mexican food north of the Red River

Stolen from Eschaton

The first time I viewed this video I thought it was a parody…second time I thought this is one sick puppy…third time I still can’t believe anyone could pander to the lizard brains that much without out a wink, wink, nudge, nudge in the whole video.

The Lear on the Ramp BIKF (Keflavik, Iceland). Posted by Hello

Working out the kinks

I'm working on the format of this Blog so some of the posts may seem a little lame. I'm posting an image to see how it looks. I will try and find one that is interesting but no guarantee.


If you love the Blues log onto KPFT Radio ( ) on Sunday mornings.

OK Guy on the ramp HSSJ (Juba, Sudan). Posted by Hello

Starting a new blog

I’m an Ok guy. I’m a political junky, I cook, paint (not much lately), do photography, write about art and life, and I fly airplanes for a living. For a guy that grew up on a West Texas dirt farm in the 40’s and 50’s, I’m OK. I don’t have much use for normal male activities like hunting and sports although I can scratch and ogle with the best of ‘em. I know which fork to use most of the time, I don’t say fuck unless it’s needed and for the most part I can get along in polite society. I’ve seen more of the world than most people have and I think I can say things about it that may be interesting. The first posts will cover the time I spent in The Sudan and Afghanistan last year.