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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Airport 2011

Blogger Note: Airport the movie appeared in theaters in 1970 and starred Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin and Jean Seberg. The sequel, Airport 1975 is probably more memorable of the two movies. The sequel starred Charlton Heston, Karen Black and George Kennedy.
Ask anybody.
Stuff happens to me.
Whether it’s to the store or to another state; every trip is always an epic adventure for me.
I never have a travel itinerary; I have places where I have to be and it’s a given that I will get lost getting there.
This story starts off at the ticket counter at General Wayne Downing Peoria International Airport. Destination; New Braunfels, Texas, where my home base for one week would be the Hilton Garden Inn.
I checked my suitcase-25 bucks please. I had my carry on; my computer back pack.
I got to TSA Central, took my computer out of the case, took everything out of my pockets, took off my belt, shoes, wristwatch and wouldn’t you know it; I still tripped the scanner.
I told the security crew that I had titanium knee joints, as they prepared to scan me with the hand wand.
I said, “You’re going to wind up patting me down  anyway, so why don’t we just skip the wand?”
Somehow, I think what they heard was I have a bomb.
No, no; I am not trying to tell you how to do your job. I was merely suggesting a ‘time-saver’. You just do what you need to do!
At that point, I think they called downstairs to have my suitcase searched. I’ll explain later.
So, after they ran the hand wand over every inch of me; and yes, my knees triggered the alarm, so they put me in the pat down area, where George the Hand Model met me with a smile. Did I mention that “Deliverance” has been showing on AMC?
Well, I must have gotten the only agent in the entire airport who had been to my home town and eaten at the old truck stop. He must have thought that he had broken the ice and invited me to a “private” pat down room.
I said, “I don’t know you well enough and besides; I am not that modest because I played team sports and took team showers. Carry on!”
Personally, I thought that he got a little too personal when he went “high on the inside of my thighs” as he described it. I would describe it as “Pat Meets Mr. Happy”.
Anyway, I collected my thoughts and my stuff and proceeded to Gate 3.
We had no sooner been shoe-horned into our small jet and severe weather kept us on the tarmac for 40 additional minutes. That wasn’t bad by itself, but my “traveling companion” was a first time flyer; so much so that he didn’t know his ticket had his seat number on it! He got booted out of three other seats before he landed next to me and sure enough; he was 8B to my 8C. Oh joy!
I had my ear buds in listening to music and I was reading a book. Check that; I was TRYING to listen to music and to read my book, but Mr. Nervous First Time Flyer wanted to talk. As proof, my left ear was injured from removing my ear bud multiple times to answer questions like, “Where you going?” Answer: “Same place as you; Minneapolis”. He freaked out and said, “I thought this plane was going to Dallas/Fort Worth?” Answer: “It is” and I put my ear bud back in!
“You got a bike?” Answer: “Yes and I also have a motorcycle”. Apparently, there are people who wear Harley Davidson apparel who don’t actually have one!
This was a two hour flight and he got up and went to the rest room THREE times. After the third time, he came back to his seat and said, “The rest room is a busy place today”, to which I replied, “I noticed that”.
At Dallas/Fort Worth, I had a 90 minute layover for a flight to San Antonio.
As we were boarding, a nasty storm blew in. A funnel cloud had been sighted and torrential rain was falling. Lightning was striking near us. But, that wasn’t the worst part.
The worst part was that, as we boarded the plane, we were met by a putrid odor. Someone in the first class section of the plane had passed a foul gas that had passengers holding their noses. I had to consume an entire box of Tic Tacs to get the taste out of my mouth. WOW!
I was seated next to a female who had obviously flown before. She kept to her side, didn’t fight me for the armrest and kept to herself. Funny; but I would have willingly talked to her if only…
Then, it happened!
A couple with a very young baby sat down directly in front of me. Now; for the record, I love babies; babies that coo and make gurgly sounds.
But this baby was clearly upset with its flying experience, was crying and flailing like a ninja warrior and then something even worse happened. We had a lightning strike.
For those of you who don’t know, a pilot cannot take off until 20 minutes have passed since the last lightning strike. In fact; the pilot came over the PA and explained it to us. I checked my watch.
At 19 frickin’ minutes, you guessed it; another lightning strike.
By now, if you have followed my blogs, you may get a sense for why I’m so cynical.
I’m not that crazy about flying to begin with, Texas has been drier that a popcorn fart (a term used by my dad, may he rest in peace) and on the day that I am sitting on the tarmac at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, we get a severe thunderstorm.
Is it me?
Anyway, we get in the air by some miracle and the baby in front of me is still not happy.
So, I turned up my music.
Then, Mom got a “privacy blanket” and I could hear the baby sucking over Rev Theory-Justice. At least baby was no longer crying and flailing and Dad was enjoying his “in-flight movie”.
When we landed at San Antonio, we were told to claim our luggage at C-2. Like a herd of cattle, we all went to C-2, where we waited…and waited.
Then, C-3 started spitting out luggage and I saw my suitcase from my vantage point. I didn’t want a stampede, so I broke off from the herd ever so discreetly, but a panic ensued. You could almost hear those sick bastard baggage handlers laughing at our expense.
My boss, to add an element of danger to this adventure, arranged for a rental car. I was to get this car, get out of the airport and to my motel, some 20 miles from San Antonio                                                                                
Now; if I had continued south, I would have been in Mexico before I realized my mistake.
The good news is that I found a very cool Harley Davidson dealer-Alamo City Harley Davidson. They have a big spur outside of their store, which is HUGE.
After I did my shopping, I reversed directions and got to my hotel by pure accident.
I got to my room and discovered that my suitcase had been searched.
How do I know?
Because the idiot in me packed a metal cigar case full of cigars. I put it on the very bottom and under my underwear. When I opened the suitcase, the cigars were on top of my shirts.
And they weren’t gentle. They tore the inside flap, broke my nametag and broke my razor, which I managed to cut my thumb on as I pulled the pieces out of my suitcase.
Texas factoid; daytime speed limit is 70 but you can only go 65 at night on the same road.
I also had FRIED PICKLES for the first time. Yum!
I still have to get home.
God willing…
The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or my dog, Chopper. This article is protected by federal copyright laws and cannot be re-produced in any form.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fire Engineering Talk Radio Debuts ChiefReason

My first show with Fire Engineering Talk Radio is, as they say, in the can.
If you didn’t have the chance to tune in live on April21, you can go to Fire Engineering Talk Radio and you can listen to the archived version. You can also see the schedule of some excellent upcoming shows.
I am also hearing that shows might be offered as Mp3 downloads in the future.
As host, I don’t know how well or how badly a show went until I can go back and listen to it for myself. When I say that, what I mean is; did the delivery make it to the audience?
It’s easy to fix equipment issues, but let’s face it; if there are several seconds of “dead air”, you cannot have a “do-over”, because it’s live! Where it can be fixed is if you prepare it as a download. Then, you can go back with editing and “scrub” it to remove the mistakes. But, a few blemishes add character.
So, I have to work on eliminating “dead air”.
Then, I have to cut down on my use of “um” and “and uh”! They are said to fill the gaps in my thoughts and it annoys the heck of me when I hear it. The Little Guy In My Head is supposed to be my wingman and he dropped the ball.
The last, technical issue that I have to improve upon is mastering the controls. If I hadn’t had Scott Nelson doing yeoman’s work in that regard, the show would have been very painful for you and me.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Scripted shows with scheduled guests are always going to be high quality for the listeners. Questions and answers will fly back and forth between hosts and guests like a ping pong ball at the Table Tennis World Championships!
I love having guests on that you can basically turn the mike over to and then, I can kick it with the rest of the audience and learn right along with them.
I get the biggest buzz out of callers who call in with questions or comments.
Because you have no idea where the show will go at that point.
The show that I did on Thursday evening had an international flavor. My first call came from England!
Rob Aiers of called in to talk about carbon monoxide poisoning and how it is reported. We became fast friends. He was very engaging, knowledgeable and passionate about his cause. I was thrilled that he called in, but not in a creepy way.
Bobby Halton called in. Bobby is quite simple a walking/talking SET of encyclopedias. If you don’t learn something from him, then you weren’t paying attention. He is very humble and one of the most unpretentious individuals that I know. Keep your eye on him. I predict great things for him.
DaGonz called me. An old friend, he is. Otherwise known as Ron Ayotte; I own him plenty.
For those of you who don’t know the story, Ron is the founding father of the International Association of Crusty Old Jakes. Ron’s dream of a fire site where you could learn from respectful discussion became a reality under his guidance. It was there that I wrote my first of several blogs; only back then, we called them “op-ed” pieces. I honed my debating skills with some of the best minds in the fire service.
A word of caution, though; never, ever take him on in a game of music trivia; especially in classic rock. Oh and if you want to get on his good side, just tell him that you love Ford Mustangs. And if you have ever heard the fire station referred to as “the puzzle palace”; that is classis Gonzo.
Sippy from Manchester called in to talk about his fire department’s current predicament. He described what can only be called a nightmare, if it comes to pass. In short; his city council is “considering” a plan that was submitted by a former firefighter that will eliminate ALL district chiefs and replace them with captains. Yeah; you reacted just like I did when I heard it. The plan is currently in committee, so stay tuned.
Stephan Charlton called in from Canada to ask about blogging.
It’s weird, but I have never really broken blogging down to a “process”. There are plenty of people out there who believe that they are “experts” who can tell you how to write a successful blog and in my opinion, it’s a bunch of crap. I don’t want my blog to be like a thousand others. I want it to mean something to me and hopefully, to the reader. I don’t want you to read anything like it anywhere else.
Blogging is very personal and anyone willing to bear their soul in their writing for others to read is both unselfish and courageous. READERS decide if you are successful. I don’t do it to sell ad space and I don’t wear a big “B” on my chest. Consider that it’s your personal journal of your personal journeys and thoughts of your next journey that may or may not make a difference to the person who reads it.
When I blog, I have but one goal and that is to grab one person who thinks about what I write after they’re read it; good or bad. I am not looking for agreement or affirmation from the reader. I want what I write to be like that catchy, little tune that you can’t get out of your head!
Just like the best player doesn’t always make the best coach; I might not be the best person to give tips on blogging, but I am willing to help anyone who wishes to give blogging a shot.
I had a blast on my “debut” for Fire Engineering Talk Radio. If you would like to be a guest, email me at
If you would like to chat with me or just listen, then watch the schedule. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Until next time…
The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or my dog, Chopper. This article is protected by federal copyright laws and cannot be re-produced in any form.