Saturday, 1 January 2011

Just Some Memories

It's been over thirty years since I went through basic training and tech school after joining the Air Force.  I came to think about this over the past week.

I left Bama on 1 August 1977 and spent the evening in Nashville.  I was to leave on 2 August and fly out (my first passenger flight) to San Antonio.  From my group of four....there was this idiot gal from the Florence area.  When the stewardess came around to offer drinks....we three guys were going to have our first real beer while in the Air Force.....and our idiot gal jumped in and said that we weren't to be drinking (dry-county mentality).  I was shamed by this and didn't participate....the other two guys just smiled and had two beers each before we landed.

After a long day with air travel.....the worst part of this six-week experience came to be this three-hour wait at the Air Force 'station' while they formed us up into some 40-man group.  It was 95 degrees and the sun was setting when they finally put us on a bus to the barracks.  The meal that evening turned out to be burgers and fries at the chow hall.....which was a five-star meal to me after the entire day of travel.

It was three days later before they did the world famous 2-minute haircut, and I walked out feeling like a new man.  It was the only free haircut in my life.

Around eight days into this experience....from the group of forty guys....we had some guy go nuts around 1AM in the morning....over missing his girlfriend.  Some guy volunteered to stay up with the guy, but by 5AM....the sarge took this guy (24 years old) down to the Major and they made the decision in two hours to send him home.  That was the only guy to get dumped out of my flight....and to this day....I kinda wonder if the guy and his gal stayed together.

The majority of this six-week period is a blur.  I do remember the act of trying to run 1.5 miles on the track at 5:30 AM in combat boots.  Even today.....it would seem impossible to run that far in fifteen minutes, in combat boots.

I remember the thunderstorms of late August....with huge lightning storms.  It'd be 95 percent humidity the next morning and you'd stand there wondering how the local guys survived in this heat.

I remember the first paycheck....$50.  I doubt if I spent more than $8 of that over the remaining period of basic training.

Along about the 40th day.....you knew it was over and you just had two events left: parade and leaving.  This graduation parade turned into the biggest goat-rope I'd ever seen.  It was 90 degrees and they had us out there practicing for two hours.  The ceremony was the next day and things had to be right.  I remember the ambulances standing by and at least three folks from the 400 out there.....passing out.

The last day of basic?  It was a fantastic moment of release.  I spent forty-five minutes eating breakfast and probably had over four thousand calories of food that morning.  The bus pulled up around nine and twenty of us climbed on.....picking up a few more at another building....and then riding out to Sheppard AFB, TX.  It was an all-day trip and I was shocked at the nice private rooms (two guys to a room) that they offered up.

My first real payday occurred at Sheppard....$190.  I still remember the check....cashing it....and buying a pair of $40 cowboy boots (I probably wore them out in two months).

I remember the bus trips down to Wichita Falls and the mall.....and watching Kentucky Fried Movie at least three times on one Saturday.

I wasted two weeks sitting around at Sheppard for this construction class to start up.  It was a six-week course, and frankly.....I leaned little to nothing from that six week period.

I remember the paint shop class suddenly coming to realize that one of their students....three weeks into the five week course....was color-blind.  It was documented on his medical records and no one realized this.  The school dumped him back into some other technical area for retraining.....but this took a month of waiting around for this kid.

It was two weeks into the class that assignments came out.  I had volunteered for Germany, England, and Japan.....and the whole east coast.  I got Ellsworth....out of South Dakota.  It was disappointing.  In the class behind me....there was this kid who got Rhein Main out of Germany.....and he desperately wanted out of the assignment (he had a girl he was marrying in May.....she hadn't graduated from high school yet).  So we made a paperwork swap, and I got the Germany assignment instead.  I kinda wondered about this guy and his gal over the years.....that I had swapped assignments with.

It was a 100-day period in Texas.....which I've often wanted to go back and check on both bases....but never have.

My fondest memory of Sheppard was the food poisoning episode we had.....where they served these cinnamon pastries that were rock hard.  Apparently, folks still ate them....and by 10AM.....were laying on the floor of their classroom in severe pain (ambulances were called for five or six folks).  They shut the chow hall down for a weekend to fix their issues.

I also remember the airman who passed out in some field between our barracks and the enlisted club.....he didn't wake up until 0900 and two hours into his class.

It was an interesting period.

An Idea Without Value

This week, Katie Couric came out with a thought provoking idea....the Muslims need a Crosby-show....to show the real nice side of themselves.

I sat and pondered over this.  The Couric logic is that blacks were not really accepted until the Crosby Show came around.  For someone sitting in New York City....this might be true and close to reality.  Outside of New York City.....in the heartland.....it's a bit of crazy logic.  You could just as well point out Roc and Good Times.  Oh, and how about Sanford and Son, the Jeffersons, and Diff'erent Strokes?  I could even mention Webster and What's Happening.....but it's best not remember these shows because of the quality issue.

So let's go with this thought.....a Muslim dad....his wife dressed in a burka and never seen by the audience.....his son who dreams of being a bomber in London one day.....and his two daughters who are treading upon thin ice....and may be executed by dad's brother and a cousin for immoral values one day. The comedy?  Oh yeah.....that would be a difficult issue.

I'm guessing that some Hollywood producer has been called to New York City and told to start a script for a Islamic family living in Queens.  It'll all be humorous and funny....and attract the hostility of the Muslim world because you are insulting them in some fashion.  Half the cast will quit in the first season because of threats.  And it'll be hard to sell products via advertising on the show....would you advertise a Toyota or Pepsi on a show like this?

Katie has a limited genius factor.....maybe once a year that some great idea comes out.....and the rest you can file for the Today Show discussion box.  This is one of those ideas which ought to be tossed out after thirty minutes of thinking.   And if it was a great idea....then why not bring up some TV show showing a former Alaskan governor in a humor-filled half-hour comedy show who is continually talking about running for President....has a daughter who can dance....and a husband who hunts moose and bear....and then we'd all just eventually accept the idea and grin from ear to ear....accepting this.  I'm guessing Katie wouldn't appreciate that idea.

Sick and Tired

After a while, you get the impression that people are getting sick and tired.  You'd like to think it's one topic but it's not that way any longer.

Folks are sick and tired of news not being news anymore.  You get a twenty-four network who pumps out the news like a used-car dealer.

Folks are sick and tired over political chat shows which don't really give you much prospective anymore, just chat.

Folks are sick and tired over amateur reporters that are paid $1 million a year and the best they can do is ask questions that grandma might ask, if she wasn't on her medication.

Folks are sick and tired over the History Channel featuring mostly reality shows and almost no history whatsoever except aliens, UFOs and Bigfoot history.

Folks are sick and tired over idiots who talk about tax reform but never deliver.

Folks are sick and tired about NPR hosts who ask twelve slanted questions which get a scripted answer from the visitor, and you'd like some direct questions with real results.

Folks are sick and tired about their car insurance company which won't pay full damage amounts.

Folks are sick and tired with their bank which tosses in a fee just to use the ATM machine, the cashier lady inside, or just to write a check.

Folks are sick and tired of county commissioners meeting and making decisions that make no sense....then they get confusing reasons why the commissioner can't answer them....then finally, the commissioner just grins and admits he's just a local fool like everyone else.

Folks are sick and tired over folks who keep wild animals like monkeys in their house and pretend that they won't hurt anyone.

Folks are sick and tired that when you discuss fixing the school education system....somehow it always comes back to pay-raises for teachers.

Folks are sick and tired when a new neighbor moves into their rural area and start to complain about rural aspects of living in the country.

Folks are sick and tired over TV ministers and their anchors to corruption or greed.

Folks are sick and tired over some idiot in Hollywood taking classics like Yogi Bear and turning it into a new movie situation.

Folks are sick and tired that there are just as many wannabe cops as real cops.

Folks are sick and tired of environmental guys talking up global warming when there's forty inches of snow on the ground and the temperature is twelve degrees below norm.

Folks are sick and tired of tax money being used to fund research on homeless people and why they like being homeless...even when offered a barracks cot situation.

The list goes on and on.  The fact is that we've been going through a dump process for ten years via network TV and we've lost a prospective on life.  We are more angry and hostile than we were a decade ago.  And it's only going to get worse.