Sunday, October 05, 2008

Therapy for a feeling of quiet desperation

By the end of work week the last, my feelings of quiet desperation were coming very close to morphing into a full-blown funk. I made the mistake of checking the current value of my 401k; let's just say that the last three years of socking away the maximum annual contribution are for naught. I would have been better served just spending it. Poof, gone in a flash. I've made better investments (in one dollar increments) in strip bars, for crying out loud.

Never satisfied with the first mistake, I exacerbated the whole thing by actually paying attention to the full-throated cacophony of finger-pointing and blame assignment emitting from the mutually culpable collection of clowns in our Congress, an organization that excels at creating a crisis, either real or manufactured, and then profiting from it. (See also: Global Warming) That is, of course, when they can take time off from spending public funds and creating legislation to protect their sinecures. Consider me a charter member of the 59% referred to at the link.

The so-called World's Most Deliberative Body, the Senate, turned out to be anything but. No, as of last week the World's Most Deliberative Body appeared to be the Republicans in the House of Representatives. Yet even that was temporary, as it turns out that they were simply holding out for a sweeter bribe before voting in favor of the most rushed, ill-thought government waste of our money becoming law, an event made even more galling by the fact that our ostensible saviors were the exact same people that created the situation in the first place. And while the House GOP initially considered it a horrible bill, they were just fine with it after sufficient pork was added to what was supposed to be a no nonsense, gotta-do-it-or-die, critically important bailout package. It doesn't inspire trust to see the evidence that nothing is so critical that it can't be used as a Trojan Horse for yet more shamelessly wasteful and inappropriate spending. I console myself thusly: at least we all got the screwing that never seemed to result from the $1 investments detailed above. In spades.

I guess at the end of the day, I still believe in this quote from Ronald Reagan:

"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people.

Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price."

Beyond all that, I waited far too long this time around to relearn the lesson of media avoidance during the latter half of an election year. I've been inundated with phone calls, radio and TV commercials, and "news" articles from both sides attempting to convince me that their respective opponents are evil incarnate, liars, and crooks. And the thing is, I now believe both sides to be correct. Where does that leave me?

I was further disappointed while perusing my absentee ballot to count no less than eight candidates running for president, with the disappointment arising from the fact that I had no idea that there were that many, or who most of them were. How many people on the street could tell you the name of even one of the six that you never hear about? Why is it that those others never really get a shot? Why are we always stuck with what I consider to be a choice between awful and lousy? It's a choice between two pairs of candidates, not a single one of whom I consider to be qualified for the positions they're already in, much less the jobs they're campaigning for.

And what are we to do about an inordinately powerful media whose interests run from 'remarkably diligent' to 'even more remarkably incurious', often seemingly always depending on which consonant follows a candidate's name? When the press become cheerleaders for one side or the other, as they clearly have, it becomes impossible to trust their product. Without having the press as a trusted watchdog watching over it, it becomes impossible to feel any trust at all in the far-too-large, far-too-powerful, and far-too-meddlesome government that we have created for ourselves. It becomes inevitable that feelings of desperation and futility will poison our outlooks.

So, the end of the week left me feeling as if I had been punched in the stomach. While I'd like to say that a bright, shiny Saturday morning washed all of that away, it actually took a little more than that. We had a pretty full day planned for Saturday, but the morning was open for a little quality time with Papa. It wasn't a sufficient time window for anything extensive, but there was enough of an opportunity to at least cavort around the local area for a spell. It has been a long time since I flew solo in Papa, and it was a refreshing reminder as to why an RV-6 is such a great little plane. We spent twenty minutes just finding ways to swap the horizon with the sky in varying degrees, and also to remind us why this kind of thing is better done on an empty stomach. Breakfast, such as it was, didn't make an unexpected reappearance, but let's just say that it did go so far as to make travel arrangements.

The afternoon was filled with attending a band competition that Co-pilot Egg was competing in. We've been to these before, but this one was special. Her band would be performing with a total of 31 other bands (ten of which were in Class AA and would thus be competing directly against her school) in the Buckeye Invitational, hosted by The Ohio $tate University Marching Band. In other words, my daughter would be performing in the vaunted Ohio Stadium, aka The Shoe! And my oh my, wasn't her daddy just as proud as he could be!

Egg's grandparents (my in-laws) have been wanting to attend one of her competitions, but unable to because of the difficulty in getting to the far-flung locations and climbing into the bleachers once there. Through a connection provided by Egg herself, we were able to drive them to the stadium and get VIP service once there, up to and including elevator access to the press box. The view from up there was phenomenal, and the in-laws were able to enjoy the show. My father-in-law, what with being a highly esteemed Professor Emeritus in Music and all, even took a professional interest in the proceedings and kept a score sheet of his own. I didn't see what his results were, but at the end of the day the actual judges awarded Egg's band with two of the five 'Outstanding' awards, First Place in Class AA, and overall Grand Champion.

And to put the icing on the cake, The Ohio $tate Marching Band also performed their traditional tunnel entrance, followed by a fantastic halftime show based on the music of Benny Goodman. The selection of a Benny Goodman show was pretty interesting when you consider that the O$U band is brass only; no woodwinds at all, much less clarinets. They also performed the world famous 'Incomparable Script Ohio', or what I facetiously call 'The Interminable Script Ohio'. Followed, of course, by a singing of the Alma Mater and a rousing rendition of the Official Rock Song of the Great State of Ohio: Hang On Sloopy. I was very thankful that Egg had this chance to see such a world-renowned marching band perform; it is very unlikely that she will ever be able to attend a football game there. Let's just say that it is no typographical error when I replace the 'S' in the name of the university with a dollar sign.

Sunday morning provided yet another dose of the beautiful October weather that I love and hate so much. I love it, of course, because it provides conditions perfect for flying. I hate it because it is a sad reminder of the end of decent weather. October is like a hospice program for Summer. Co-pilot Rick and I had decided to give Mansfield yet another chance, our luck with being able to get there on previous occasions having run somewhat on the bad side. Our luck was no different today; there were NOTAMs regarding some runway and taxiway closures, and an early check of the ATIS recording indicated that many of the ramps were also out of commission. I don't have the funds to waste on a "maybe we can get to the restaurant, maybe we can't" flight of even half an hour, so we expediently aborted the Mansfield destination in favor of near-by Urbana Grimes.

That actually went pretty well - we managed to arrive at I74 during a lull in the normal Sunday morning traffic. In fact, we were a little concerned by the lack of radio traffic as we monitored the Unicom on the way in. When Urbana is that quiet on a beautiful Sunday morning, there can only be a handful of reasons: the Unicom frequency was changed and I somehow failed to get the memo, the runway was closed, or the Board of Health had shut down the restaurant. None of those seemed likely (well, maybe that last one), so we continued on our way. Once we arrived at the airport, we could plainly see that none of those were, in fact, true, and that the actual problem we would have would be finding a parking spot on the crowded ramp. Oh, and before I forget, the landing sucked. No excuse for that, either; winds were dead calm.

One fine breakfast and too much coffee later, we climbed back into the calm sky for the short ride back to Bolton. We threw tradition to the curb and let Co-pilot Rick fly a leg in smooth sky, rather than the bouncy, turbulent conditions that normally signify that it's his turn. I took over on the base to final turn, and bounced another landing. And, to add insult to insult (there were, fortunately, no injuries), I missed the Alpha 3 turn off and had to ignominiously taxi down to Alpha 4. It was 0 for 2 on good landings today.

But... as we were pushing the plane back into the hangar I realized that I no longer felt the burning in the back of my throat, the tenseness in my muscles, or the overwhelming desire to sigh every 30 seconds that are the symptoms of my quiet desperation and sense of futility. I'm relatively sure that I will suffer a relapse by Monday afternoon, but for a few brief hours all felt well. There's nothing like RV therapy to put you right, even if just for a day.


  1. i'm so glad to be in a state that is not a battle ground(texas). and not have to hear endless campaign ads.
    that and i got rid of the tv

  2. Hmmm. Sounds like you've been suffering from more than a little stress lately Dave. I've been there, done a little of that, too.
    For instance, when I heard that the FDIC had "seized" Washington Mutual, who had something like $370 billion in assets, in the middle of the night and had Given them to Morgan-Stanley for $1.8 billion, I was furious. I don't know how much time I wasted fuming over it until I realized that was an exercise in futility.
    I said a prayer and asked our Lord to forgive me and help me to learn His will and do it. After taking a shower and shaving and a bite of breakfast, I felt an urge to go to the airport at Bountiful and hang out for a while.
    I saddled up and away I did go, riding my bike up the roooooooad. Arriving at the airport, I ran into a friend who is building a Zenith 702 LSA and helped him finish mounting the forward canopy frame and canopy. He was very appreciative, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
    Meanwhile, One of the guys in the hangar next door pulled out his RV-8 & fired up his Subaru H6 engine. I had been wanting to hear that thing run for a long time, and was not disappointed. That is one sweet sounding engine :)
    Anyway, long story short, by inviting the Lord in, despair was dispelled, and I had a great day and helped others to also.
    Hope that helps.

    Joel from