The NULL Solution = Episode 113

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The NULL Solution = Episode 113

…Gus McKinney would relish the chance for a new challenge, seeing that NASA is getting nowhere fast and SEx is being monitored closely…

The devil is in the details. While Skaldic seems to think he is closing in on a solution, the Gus-Roy-Fitch team is focusing on finding the back door to the blossoming Red Planet. They are striving to circumvent the vexing brainteaser, in favor of picking the lock.


Manned Rover

“What if we land on the other side from Harmonia, drop our hotrod/buggy prototype, the manned-rover people are working on, and get a closer look that way,” Gus McKinney would relish the chance for a new challenge, seeing that NASA is getting nowhere fast and SEx is being monitored by the doves in Washington. “We will sneak up on Harmonia, quiet like.”

Fletcher Fitch is usually the voice of reason, “We have not resolved the payload issue, Gus.”

Rick Stanley

“Don’t we have the drone that hauled Space Colony 1 in mothballs? Outfit it with a crew cabin, big enough for me and Rick Stanley and let’s go!”

Roy Crippen speaks for the ever-postponed AARP generation, “Rick Stanley is retiring this year. I’m not sure he wants to spend an entire year on one last rodeo.”

“Why don’t we leave that decision to him? He’s divorced, one of his kids is an aspiring astronaut and beside that, he is our lone remaining expert on the tow-drone… oh and the sub-light assist vehicle (SLAV) to boot.”

Manned Tow Drone

After giving some thought, Roy begins to change his tune. “The SLAV could get the drone to sub-space and we could re-fit the drone engines for speed.”

“2 months out, a month to explore and 2 months back. 6 months max, including the mission prep.”

“This whole idea is a stretch; it stretches both our manpower and our budget. You realize that, don’t you?”

“What do we have to lose? You can skip my mission bonus. Let’s set up shop on Mars and give Rick a sendoff to remember!” Sellers sell, fliers fly.  Gus M. does both. “Just remember, the riddle doesn’t apply to the opposite hemisphere… I don’t think.”

The NULL Solution =

Episode 113

page 112

The NULL Solution = Episode 75

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The NULL Solution = Episode 75

…I hope this isn’t a wild goose chase…

Illustration by Jayden and Angela Keoghan

Image result for engage jean luc picard— Mach not Warp 4 would be more like it, but 3000 mph still gets it done. Cruising at 80,000 feet, Gus swears he catches a glimpse of something round and shiny.

“There’s a lot of tin up here Gus, you know that.”

“But we haven’t spotted Lorgan since the Korean Incident. Don’t you think it’s about time?”

“We cannot lay blame or give credit for everything that goes on around here on Lorgan.”

“Hey Roy,” it is Fletcher Fitch, “we just had a Lorgan sighting.”

“Roger that Fitch. Keep our eyes peeled for it or anything else that flies, crawls, swims or runs.”

“See what I mean! I am getting a nose for bogies.”

“You have a nose for dirty diapers, that’s what I think.”

“I was looking for a good excuse to get out of the house.”

I hope this isn’t a wild goose chase.


“Wild McKinney chase. If a brain surgeon can deliver a baby, two rocket scientists should be able to solve a simple case of mistaken identity.”

“He did say alien, right? Engadin Airport to starboard – dropping below Mach 1. It’s 5 km to St. Moritz by ground. Did you did say he was going to meet us here?”

“He’ll be here, trust me, the guy is no quack.”

–30 minutes after touchdown–

“Where is the damned quack?!” Roy likes flying, but he hates wasting his time on ground transportation.

“I told you we should fly into Malpensa Italy. They have trains to St. Moritz 24/7.”

“Here he comes, I think – fancy car, one passenger and 40 minutes late. Lock‘er up Gus. We need it for the blast home — Dr. Picard, we were beginning to wonder.”

“It is an honor and a pleasure to meet you President Crippen. Your reputation precedes you.”

“Call him Prez Roy, everybody else does,” Gus extends his hand, “Gus McKinney… nice little patch of flat ground you have.”

“Gus McKinney from the famous space family, I feel like I already know you.” Now that they got the star-struck segment out of the way, “Sorry I’m late Prez Roy, but my patient woke up from Recovery and wanted to see her baby, if you want to call it a baby… he has an estimated I.Q. of a five year old already.”

“Did you say he? Well, if he asked you stop for a hamburger, I’d bet your accounts receivable that he is a McKinney.” Roy would never bet his own money.

“I’ll take that bet Roy and give you 5 to 1 odds that he isn’t, too many what ifs and impossible{s},” chimes in Gus.

“Gentlemen, gentlemen, please refrain from gambling my practice away until you interview this incredible female. It took her a while, but she picked up the language quickly… after hours of sounding like a flute. She has quite a story to tell, doesn’t know how she got here though, and with all due modesty, I believe that I’m the only doctor who could have separated mother from child. It took me 12 hours.”

“And I bet she left her insurance card at home.”

“We have universal health care in Switzerland.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 75

page 78

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 212

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 212

…Only one new model in four thousand years, how can that be, I think we may have made a slight miscalculation…

Miscalculation by Jared Hindman

The largest of these towering edifices opens its low-level gates, in order to swallow the NEWFOUNDLANDER. The giant size sliding doors draw apart slowly and they can almost hear the creaking of the glides due to a possible drought of inactivity. The well-traveled ship both lumbers and floats in, after the gap reaches its full extent.

The adult McKinneys cannot take their eyes off the still functioning monitors. They have entered into what appears to be a vehicular {space} gallery.

“Do you remember the EAA Convention in Wisconsin?” Sampson tests his wife’s premarital memory about a yearly gathering of flying machines, pilots, enthusiasts and an accompanying aviation museum.

“Yes I do. You wanted to show off something there to your buddies.” She was thinking about her inaugural introduction to his friends and fellow airborne buffs.

“Yeah Oshkosh, by gosh, and the P-51 Mustang I had been working on for 5 years!” That comment earns him a fist to the shoulder. She meant hers-truly. “There is every type of spacecraft imaginable here.

About that he is correct.

And then some; human eyes have not seen, nor can they imagine where some of these ships came from, though there a few that look like they were made by Earth’s own rocketeers, “That looks the first liquid-fueled rocket made by Robert Goddard in the 1920s! They made a movie about that Celeste. Stick an American Flag on that one.”

Identifying the antiques is easy. Just where the NEWFOUNDLANDER fits into this collection, only the folks of Planet X  would know, although that vacant slot on the right, near the end of this mindboggling menagerie seems to have NEWFOUNDLANDER written all over it.

“There is only one ship here that looks more advanced than this one.” He is baffled. Only one new model in four thousand years, how can that be? I think we may have made a slight miscalculation.” (like Wile E Coyote)


Episode 212

page 251

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 149

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 149

…any time Strategic Air Command’s name is invoked, it does not mean that the USA is merely recalling their embassy personnel…

“The country would not stand for news of the McKinney deaths… they adore that couple,” President Sanchez makes a politically generic statement.

“This should have nothing to do with Time Magazine Online “Most Influential People” issue and everything to do with putting reprobate rulers in their place.” Roy moves to move the President of the United States of America into action. The man is stuck on how this latest development makes his administration look, instead of recognizing the threat to the welfare of the planet itself.

“Chances are Pete,” using his first name for effect, “that armchair diplomacy or economic sanctions will not work here.”

Sanchez should ask himself why, in retrospect, that the very same type of jealous admiration exhibited by Korea, were one and the same as his quest for the United States Senate, lo those many years ago. As a younger, more idealistic politician, Sanchez had practiced a suspicious mudslinging campaign against the incumbent Senator, in the primary election that year. And though Sanchez did not get the nomination and the other party ultimately won the general election, it ruined the man’s reputation unnecessarily.

It is a lesson for those who are lame ducks or out of favor; there may be someone or some country lurking, ready to ruin his legacy or bring down the entire nation he is ultimately responsible for.

“I guess we need to flex our muscles.”

“And forget about that gratuitous speech you are about to deliver,” Roy whispers under his breath. “And you know that we at NASA and SAC will be vigilant, Sir.”

— No sooner than the phone goes dead, he wonders if the President meant yet another dreaded commodity embargo or economic isolation; neither of which work against those determined to make, in this case, outer space mischief.

Francine is privy to one side of the conversation, but any time Strategic Air Command’s name is invoked, it does not mean that the USA is merely recalling their embassy personnel. She is aware that stakes of the game have changed and she will have a front row seat to it all.

It is getting late at Lovell and making the trip home to Houston less desirable than usual, but in these times of fear and doubt, where better to spend the night but at King Ranch, “I’ll give Braden a heads up about an incoming Canadian helicopter with a Russian sounding name (Sikorsky) and two tired NASA people aboard,” she states.


Episode 149

page 183

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United Airlines Memes – Easy Peasy

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Top 10

United Airlines


This United Airlines public relations nightmare video has been circulating the Internet and we thought these memes and hilarious takes on the overbooking were worth re-posting. If you don’t know what we are talking about, here is the lowdown.

“An unidentified man who refused to be bumped from a plane screamed as a security officer wrestled him out of his seat and dragged him down the aisle by his arms. His glasses slid down his face, and his shirt rose above his midriff as uniformed officers followed.

“The videos show a security officer removing the unidentified man from his seat and dragging him off the plane as he screams. The flight was scheduled to depart O’Hare International Airport in Chicago for Louisville, Ky., at 5:40 p.m. but was delayed two hours.”

10. #Opportunities

9. Fly the Friendly Skies

8. Bad timing on updating United Airlines App

Notice the mention of the drag and drop feature.

7. United Airlines Logic

United’s motto: “We’re not satisfied until you’re not satisfied.”

6. United Airlines safety card

“Once concussed, drag customer’s lifeless body out of the plane in front of everyone.”

5. United Airlines Training Video

Thank you, now leave! So an employee can take your now blood stained seat.

4. United Airlines Fight Club

3. United Airlines Wretched Scum and Villainy

When United Airlines overbooks flights.

2. Southwest’s new slogan in light of the recent events regarding United Airlines.

1. “Indiana Jones & The United Airlines”

United Airlines Memes

– Easy Peasy

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 129

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 129

…The Air Jamaica aircraft lifts up and away from the seaside airport, not being a very long flight, they barely get above 20,000 feet

20000 ft by Photojournalist Rdiger Nehmzow

Old Francine

— “Do you possibly have an open seat somewhere — you know what I mean?” she points and whispers to a flight attendant to escape her sweaty human sandwich. “What is the holdup Miss?”

Old Francine would have thrown an absolute fit and shouted her way off the plane, accomplishing absolutely nothing except drawing undue attention to her disrespectful derrière.

New Francine

“We are under a security alert, something going on to the west, sort of like a red light in the sky.” A loaded passenger plane sitting on the taxiway for two hours is borderline cruel and unusual. “We just had a single window seat, 3A open up, why don’t we move you up?”

New Francine asks for the attendant’s name, “I will be writing a letter praising your service to Air Jamaica, thank you.”

Just after staking her claim at the front of the jet, the calming voice of the Captain fills the cabin, “Good afternoon passengers of Air Jamaica Flight 217 nonstop to Related imageHouston Texas. We will be taking off shortly and we thank you for your patience. The stewardesses will be handing out complimentary beverages.”

“If he weren’t the oldest pilot in the fleet, I would be offended.”

“At least he didn’t call you an airplane waitress…I’ll have a vodka rocks please,” Francine relates her similar story of having been introduced, early in her career, in a pre-sweeps station promo, as anchor-girl Francine Bushel.

The jet aircraft lifts up and away from the seaside airport. It is not a very long flight and they barely get above 20,000 feet, but the view from her window is nonstop fantastic, with Cuba fading into background of the azure Gulf-blue waters and the familiar soil and foliage of the Gulf Coast states rising to the north.

Like tiny islands, oil drinking platforms dot the water below, but one in particular seems to be the hub of activity. She reaches down to her carry-on to retrieve her trusty pair of field glasses, every good reporter has one, and gets a 20x power view of the action. She pulls back, rubs her eyes to make sure she isn’t seeing things, the one thing being the familiar blue & white paint scheme of Roy’s helicopter; blades idling, atop the one acre pedestal. There are a good thirty-odd people mulling about, many of whom belong to that huge Coast Guard cutter lashed to the side.


Episode 129

page 159


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 128

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 128

…“You take care Missy and if you don’t mind me saying, you would be wise to hitch your wagon to that astronaut guy.”

“He is something special isn’t he?”…

Image result for something special artwork

“Who’s in that other chopper,” Gus points.

With everything secure, the unarmed aircraft settles down nearby.

“That is Uncle Roy’s Sikorsky, wow!” Deke McKinney is beside himself, both off and running into the arms of their joint Godfather.

“This is not the way home from school, boys,” he states the obvious.

“We’re the last ones on the bus and they nabbed us on the end of the driveway, nearly scared old Frank the bus driver half to death.”

“I’m sorry boys. We should have had some security for you two rascals.”

“Why would they grab two kids like us? The only thing we could understand, besides “shut up” was Allah this and Allah that”, what does god have to do with kidnapping?”

Roy parses his words, “Some people use their gods as a cause for mischief, especially those who are jealous of a unified planet.”

“That is dumb.”


All the 3 agree. —

— Not at all dumb and equally as patient, Francine sits on a crowded Air Jamaica jet, currently under an unexplained ground stop. She knows that Roy has his hands full, so she does not fret over her failing to receive desired updates. But it doesn’t help that she has drawn the short straw: middle seat between two overweight natives.

She is also fortunate that she still had a KHST Press credential when it came to poor Roger’s attempts to get all her stuff {luggage-purchases-Roy’s luggage} into the cargo bay in the belly of the MD-110. Once she was all set and ready to go, she shares her genuine feelings for Roger the Dodger. It has been a whirlwind term of service for the affable driver and his valuable flexibility has made her stay worth the price of admission. “You take care Missy and if you don’t mind me saying, you would be wise to hitch your wagon to that astronaut guy.”

“He is something special isn’t he?” She reflects on what is important in life. It is not Old Francine in control here, who would be sure to view Roy Crippen as a dull knife and dismissing him for anything but a great story source. “I believe we have an understanding, Rog. And we will be in touch, I promise.”


Episode 128

page 158


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