Trump in Panama City Beach

I went out to the Trump venue last night as planned.  It is an outdoor amphitheater at the Pier Park mall and town center, SRO capacity about 10,000.  Reportedly about the same number outside; the venue was overwhelmed and parking slammed throughout the mall complex and feeder streets.  The weather was excellent.

The assembling crowd  was 99.99 percent white, mostly older although many children and younger couples. Signs and demonstrations were discouraged, and except for just a few over-the-top t-shirts no untoward behavior. I found a spot outside the fence but in earshot of the stage. The warm-up speakers were local and regional politicians, ministers, candidates, and Republican officials.  Trump ran almost an hour late;  I left before he arrived.

The warm-ups were disturbing to me.  The atmosphere was almost Pentecostal camp meeting, with Hillary Clinton as Satan and Donald Trump(!) as Savior. 

 One candidate did a chant exhorting: “Christians, hold on! Donald Trump is coming!” “Nation of Israel, hold on! Donald Trump is coming!”  “Neglected military and veterans, hold on! Donald Trump is coming!” …and on through the unemployed, the displaced, a litany of despair to be relieved by… Trump.  Rousing cheers in response to each declaration of this mystical Coming of Trump.

Other speakers brought up other lost or endangered causes: gay marriage, guns, abortion, law and order, deep trouble across the land.  All laced with Hillary Clinton’s crimes and malevolent plans to degrade society.

About 7:30 PM the outside crowd had realized there was no hope of getting inside, so people started finding listening spots along the fences. This seemed to disturb the authorities and police, who commenced herding the crowd back to the hopeless entrance and yellow-taping the street to keep people from some of the remaining spots with audio access. When the police  got stern and brought out their K-9, I left. I have zero tolerance for police dogs.  Still no Trump.

I drove 30 miles home and watched Giuliani and Trump on local TV (kudos to WMBB-TV, the local ABC station that pre-empted ABC’s network schedule).

Rudy Giuliani’s intro was heavy on Hillary’s crimes and FBI special treatment, and his total confidence in Donald Trump to restore order.  Trump gave his usual word salad stump speech, with little evidence he even knew where he was.  The crowd loved it and interrupted often with applause.

I’m concerned about what happens after this election.  These candidates and speakers left no space for reconciliation or engagement with Democrats, win or lose. It seems quite possible a Trump loss would move a large faction to isolate themselves even more from government, becoming a large hostile tribe akin to the Orange after the Northern Ireland Troubles.  Let’s hope and pray not. 

Sully: The Official Accident Report is Great Reading

This cross-posted from my comment on Philip Greenspun’s Weblog. Went to his link from a post on the Sully movie and read the accident report. Long but you don’t have to read it all. Sully did a great job but not just stick-and-rudder. He instinctively started the auxiliary power unit and thus retained all the automation and hydraulic power needed to ditch in the “normal law” fly-by-wire regime which protects the plane from stalling. I had presumed he was in one of the degraded regimes that are more dicey. They were also fortunate to be in one of 20 USAir A320’s equipped for over-water (more than 50 miles offshore) so they had slide-rafts and did not have to depend on 150 shocked passengers finding and donning life vests. A few people did, and some more removed their seat cushions, but the rafts plus the wings kept everybody out of the 42 degree water, which would have killed some trying to swim unassisted. Finally, it was also very fortunate to land on a busy ferry route with professional crews. And, as philg said, the airframe exceeded it’s structural design by remaining almost intact despite an impact almost double the design conditions.

I have not seen the movie but it can’t be much better than the report for a tech or aviation enthusiast. Lots of background stuff on FAA , engine design, Airbus and the bird strike problem in general.

Hurricane Hermine

Hurricane Hermine passed 100 miles east, landfalling at St Marks, FL as Category 1 with 80 mph winds.  A non-event here as we were on the dry side and it really was a minor storm.  Weather Channel and all kinds of “responders” in a frenzy for a week in advance.  I’m too old to get excited and certainly too old to go to a shelter.  It’ll be Michele’s house in Decatur, Georgia for us if we ever evacuate.  Our storm supplies (six gallons of water) intact.

Pneumonia

Older people spend a lot of time trading healthcare stories, because we spend a lot of time navigating health issues. I have been blessed with exceptional health except for a run of prostate cancer in the early 2000’s. If health tales are not for you, read no further.

On March 10, I felt out of sorts and expected a bout with bronchitis or maybe flu. After a couple of days of low fever, I went to my GP on March 12, who couldn’t be certain but prescribed Tamiflu, antihistimines, and (just in case) 7 days supply of azithromycin.

The fever continued and we could not control it with Tylenol, spiking to 103 F a couple of times, with bone-rattling chills. At 10:30 PM March 13, we trekked to the ER where the doc stopped all meds, started a 4-day “Z-pack” of azithromycin, also IV saline and magnesium and added Ibuprofen alternating with Tylenol for the fever. This regimen broke the fever in the wee hours. Since my general health and oxygen uptake was good, I was dismissed home to finish the Z-pack and resume the previous antibiotic after the Z-pack.

A midnight X-ray had shown bacterial pneumonia in my lower left lung. Pneumonia is contracted directly from inhaling the bacteria; external exposure to wet or cold or fatigue cannot cause pneumonia.

We understood the at-home fever treatment to be 1000MG of Tylenol every 4 hours PLUS 400MG of ibuprofen every 8 hours, and it did reduce the fever to a spike every night broken with sweats. After 2 days I was “stupid” from the fever meds and convinced I was overdosing Tylenol. Telephoned the ER nurse who agreed on the overdose and recommended reducing both meds to the strict label dosage. I stopped Tylenol at midnight March 19 and controlled low fever nightly with 400MG ibuprofen alone. Last ibuprofen at midnight Saturday, March 22.

My follow-up at the GP was Wednesday, March 19, over a week into this illness, by which time I had lost all digestive bacteria to the antibiotic and was able to eat only boiled pasta or rice, plus 50/50 gatorade water and a bit of probiotic kefir. The GP said it would be a gradual recovery, and issued an Rx for a broader-spectrum antibiotic, to be filled only if the fever returned in force.

I improved day by day but still had digestive symptoms, expected until the antibiotics were finished on March 24. On Saturday, March 22, a new complication: oral thrush, a yeast infection of the mouth and throat caused by the loss of friendly bacteria.

Not wanting to burden the ER with this minor condition, we went to a walk-in clinic, got examined after an hour of new paperwork, and received an Rx for ny-statin antifungal oral rinse, because diflucan tablets might interact with Azithromycin. The rinse slowed the thrush, but improvement was not expected until the antibiotic was finished on March 23.

Today is Tuesday, March 25, I have been fever-free for a few days, the oral condition is improving slowly, and we have another GP visit tomorrow. Reports from young and old indicate a slow recovery of tone and energy for several weeks.

Pneumonia is insidious and can be life-threatening if not treated or if the patient has underlying debilitating conditions. I hope this will be my only encounter with it, and I look forward to a better year after a nasty March, 2014.

03/25/14; 02:04:43 PM

We Lived in a Remarkable Century (Part 2) General Pete’s War

A good friend of mine died recently, Lt. Gen. Carl Peterson, USAF (Ret.). “General Pete” started his career as a 20-year-old B-17 pilot in World War 2. He got to England in October 1944, after the most deadly phase of the bombing campaign, so he was required to fly 35 missions to earn redeployment. (Earlier in the war, crews only had to fly 25 missions per deployment – with a 5% attrition rate, a crew was on borrowed time after 20 missions.)

General Pete lost two airplanes and 18 engines, but thankfully no crewmen on his 35 missions. At first he said very little about the missions, but as our friendship grew he talked about the risks and a few specific incidents.

Most impressive was the vast scale of the raids, hundreds or even thousands of bombers launched over strategic targets in Germany. Because of the marginal weather in England, it was common to lose several B-17′s to mid-air collisions during blind “forming up” and climbing to cruise altitude.

Approaching the target, the Norden bombsight acted as an autopilot, flying straight and level at constant speed. The German anti-aircraft defenders had years to dial in these automated flight paths, which could only vary slightly in altitude and track. General Pete and his fellow pilots were just spectators during these bomb runs, and survival was greatly determined by luck and position in the formation (the defenders often aimed for flight leaders or, if known, high ranking pilots). During the bomb runs, planes would be fine one second and gone or heavily damaged in another.

Once the bombs were away, undamaged bombers escorted stricken planes if possible, and counted parachutes if the crews of damaged planes had to bail out. General Pete managed to land his two mortally damaged planes in Belgium, which was in friendly hands by late 1944.

He watched helplessly as other planes ditched in the English Channel, unable to fly all the way back to England after bypassing airfields on the Continent. Most B-17 crews survived ditching, but the high-winged B-24 was notorious for disintegrating with heavy casualties.

The weather often was again a factor in returning to England, and many bombers groped their way to any airfield that became visible, to be rejoined with their squadrons another day.

The 8th Air Force bombing campaign was just one of many vast efforts in World War 2. Between 1940 and 1945, U.S. industry produced 32,000 B-17′s and B-24′s, a rate of 20 per day. The entire world-wide war, from Pearl Harbor to the unconditional German and Japanese surrenders, was over for the U.S. in 45 months!

General Pete returned to civilian life for a few years, but rejoined the Air Force during the Korean War. He became an attack pilot (Skyraiders in Viet Nam) and later an all-weather fighter pilot for the Air Defense Command (F-94, F-89, F-101, F-102, F-106). He commanded the Air Defense Weapons Center at Tyndall AFB, FL and retired from a field-grade liason deployment with NATO in Norway.

07/28/13; 07:38:59 PM

We Lived in a Remarkable Century (Part 1): Going to the Moon

As a retiree advancing in age, I sometimes remember things that didn’t happen (just wait til you get here!) or don’t remember important details.

I just watched four episodes of NASA documentaries on the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo manned flights, and the tempo of those missions, many I didn’t recall, was breathtaking. They launched a big mission every three months or so, one time launched two within 14 days including a repair of the launch pad after a post-ignition abort.

Introduced major new tasks and equipment (space walks, moon landings, moon rover cars, Saturn 5 rockets, etc.) with minimal rehearsal. Flew eight Moon missions between 1969 and 1972 and cancelled three final Moon missions after acquiring the hardware and training the crews!

They did lose three astronauts to a training fire, but recovered three unharmed from behind the Moon on Apollo 13, after an inflight explosion and some heroic improvisation (The movie Apollo 13 is almost a documentary.).

Available on Netflix, “When We Left the Earth”, NASA.