THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 122

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 122

…The situation is fraught with tension, each and every passing minute brings new developments, like looking over the edge of a cliff…

Cliff Walk – Edge of Nowhere (Video Game)

As Roger pulls up, they pile everything into the back seat, “Take us back to the hotel.”

“You got it boss.”

“Francine will be staying behind… you are going to get me back to my helicopter!”

Roger the Dodger

— Roger does not spare the horses, all 300 HP in his 1969 SS model that replaced his mini Honda Civic, to race headlong on to Montego Bay and Sangster International. Perhaps it was his police training, but no finer a display of cutting corners and ability to dodge slow traffic, hence his dodger moniker.

It is a good thing his NASA-issued device is fully charged. He is in constant contact with the covert trifecta of CIA, FBI, and NSA, as well as an audio feed from JET {Joint Emergency Taskforce}, a cooperative agency whenever foreign nationals are involved.

“Radar has lost the two choppers that nabbed Samiq Gaad, somewhere over Honduras,” Braden King is monitoring what information Roy is getting, editing out conflicting reports, giving him the best guidance once he leaves Jamaica.

“I think two Navy F-77s are on their trail, their heading checks out on my navigation app.” He urges Roger to push it, counting on him to get to his hanger in one piece. “What is the deal with Afridi’s family?”

Silence… Nothing on the other end of the satellite connection. The situation is fraught with tension, each and every passing minute brings new developments, like looking over the edge of a cliff.

“Braden, are you there, your face is frozen on my end?”

“I’m sorry Roy, had to catch my breath, having trouble keeping up… Afridi took a few {bullets} from a known Talibanistani operative, we are told…the passengers subdued him, but they were at 38,000 feet and started to lose pressurization, pretty scary I guess. Afridi tells the US Marshall he has some more information to tell you, something about the Sang-Ashi probe. This Talibanistan/Korean connection is gaining traction with the Incident Audit folks,” Braden is like a juggler w/four balls in the air.

“Are you almost ready to get off the ground Roy? It looks like you were right about those Navy fighters… they shot down one Russki Chopper and have another grounded.”

“We are pulling up to Sangster now; my bird is fueled and ready to go!” Roger’s 300 hundred horses=60 miles in 30 minutes. “What’s with all these Mi-38s in our airspace? Should I get a heading for Honduras or what……?”

Again…


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 122


page 116

We’re Only Human – WIF Anthropology

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Moments That

Shaped Modern

Human Life

The evolution of our species has been… eventful, to say the least. While some form of semi-bipedal hominids and apes have existed for millions of years, our march toward modern civilization began relatively recently. In a short period of time, our species has gone through many monumental changes that gradually gave shape to everything we see around us today.

While some of these crucial historical moments are intuitive and well known, others aren’t that obvious. Almost all of them, though, are only apparent in hindsight…

9. The Possibility of Life On Other Planets

That we are alone in the Great Expanse is a frightening thought. After all, if Earthlings are the most advanced beings in the Universe… well that just cannot be, can it? Still, it is a distinct possibility and if that is the case, we won’t be meeting any aliens anytime soon.

BUT, and is a BIG but, most of us have the sneaking suspicion that our government know more than they are letting on. What aren’t they telling us about Area 51? And then there are those Air Force pilots that report seeing (UFO) Flying Objects that speed away faster than you can say, “Did you see that?”.

No one really knows (that we know of) for sure that there is intelligent life on other planets or that we have been visited by them. That very possibility gives us hope that someone smarter than us is out there somewhere… Got to be someone smarter!

8. When We Stood Up On Two Feet

If we get down to the basics, there aren’t many differences between our closest, four-legged ancestors: the intelligent apes. Apart from minor differences and some chance mutations, we may never have never been able to stray too far from that lineage. Then, some forward-thinking ape – or a group of them – around two to four million years ago decided that standing up was a way better way to live, and we’ve not looked back since.

The decision to stand up on two feet instead of four may seem to be insignificant and intuitive to most, though if you think about it, it’s an unprecedented trait in the tree of life. Humans are the only creatures that have ever evolved to walk on two feet, even if its immediate evolutionary advantages aren’t clear to science. Regardless, bipedalism freed our hands to be able to make more complicated tools, setting the stage for everything to come, making it one of the most important steps in the evolution of early humans.

7. The Domestication Of The Horse

We have a long history of domesticating animals for our needs. From sheep to cows to our best friends, the dogs, the animal kingdom is full of examples of animals that we have tamed and modified, and that have played important roles in the rise of our civilization.

One domesticated species, however, has been so important for humanity that we’ve written entire books and historical journals on the topic: the horse. First domesticated some time around 3000 BC in the Central Asian steppes, the horse initially served as a good source of meat and fur, much like other livestock animals at the time. Soon, however, people realized that it could be used for movement across large distances like no other animal we’ve ever been able to tame. They may not have realized it at the time, but that realization would become one of humanity’s most pivotal. The histories of all the earliest and biggest Eurasian civilizations perfectly coincide with the history of horse domestication in their respective regions. The horse finally allowed us to step out of our limited range and inhabit far off regions.

Not just that, but it also played an important role in the militaries of almost all major armies until the invention of gunpowder. Horse cavalry was often the most powerful unit in major ancient and medieval armies, often deciding the course of a battle entirely on its own.

6. The Rise Of Homo Sapiens

Even if most of us may not realize this, humans weren’t always the only hominid species on the planet. We’re only one of the many different branches of humans to evolve out of intelligent apes, some of whom we may not yet even know about. Moreover, it wasn’t always obvious that we’d be the last ones standing, either. In fact, the exact circumstances that led us to emerge as the ultimate victors of the early hominid race aren’t that clear. Neanderthals, for example, were much stronger than our homo sapiens ancestors, and may even have been capable of designing tools as advanced as us.

Despite the mystery surrounding our early days, it’s clear that the evolutionary domination of homo sapiens over other hominid species was one of our most crucial early steps. It eliminated the only challenge to our hegemony on the planet – other humans – and directly paved the way for all of the biggest moments in our history since.

5. The Age Of Revolutions

While most of this list deals with evolutionary and technological developments, the story of humanity is incomplete without its political and cultural milestones. Where bigger brains and opposable thumbs gave us the physical tools to win the Darwinian race, our decisions with organizing our society, economy and politics have been equally influential in shaping up our civilization.

In that respect, the events in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries are perhaps some of the most important in our social history. For the most part, the majority of humanity has lived in rigidly structured, hierarchical societies controlled by a handful of people with power.

That changed in the 17th century beginning with the French Revolution, and eventually spread to the rest of Europe and the world. The Industrial Revolution – an important moment in its own right – led to people demanding better rights and living conditions, culminating in the massive revolts seen across European workplaces in the late 17th and 18th centuries, including the colonies.

This period laid the foundation for the largely liberal, democratic and developed part of the world today, where the majority of the population is free from the threat of hunger or conflict. The revolutions such as the French Revolution, American Revolution, and the 1848 wave of Revolutions in western Europe triggered the the rearrangement of the society, economy, and political structure away from Feudalism and in the favor of the individual, giving way to all of our modern ideas of human rights, liberty, freedom of faith and so on.

4. Islamic Golden Age

While Europe was the birthplace of some of the biggest social and political changes of the early modern era, the scientific revolution had already happened centuries before in a completely different region of the world.

The Golden Age of Islam – from seventh to the 13th century – was when we took the biggest leap forward in our scientific understanding of the world. Some of the earliest versions of most modern fields of science – such as medicine, flight, chemistry, astronomy, etc. – first developed in that region, thanks to scholars from around the world who were encouraged by the caliph and other local rulers. The period was so influential that, throughout that era, Arabic was the global language of science. That fact is evident in the vestiges of Arabic still found in much of our modern scientific lexicon; for example, algebra, alchemy, algorithm, and so on.

Unfortunately, all of that came to an abrupt end with the Mongol siege of Baghdad. Its library – the biggest in the world at the time – was burned to the ground. Regardless, the knowledge we gained from that period set the stage for some of our biggest scientific achievements since, such as the European age of exploration, industrial age, and steam engine.

3. The Great Leap Forward

For most people, it would probably come as a surprise that for the most part of our history, absolutely nothing was happening. Of course, there was that existential struggle with the other humans we mentioned above, though other than deciding the existential, yes/no fate of humanity, it didn’t do anything nuanced for the human race. For millions of years, homo sapiens and other human species had almost no major scientific breakthroughs. That was, however, until something happened around 60,000 years ago, when everything changed.

Archaeologists still find clear evidence of a massive leap in tool making technology, societal structure, language, art, and many other fields around that time, and have called it the Great Leap Forward. It’s possible that it may have been thanks to a language based mutation in our brains at the time, though for all we know for sure, it could have been something random, too. What we do know, however, is that the Great Leap Forward is a clear line separating us from the relatively primitive early men, and the species set to conquer the moon in the distant future.

2. Writing

While many people would consider the development of language to be a pretty important development in our history – and it absolutely is – it’s difficult to decide on a singular definition of ‘language’. Many ancient cultures communicated with systems of language that would be barely recognizable to us, but fulfilled all the criteria of what a language is supposed to be. People have been using some form of language to talk to each other for as long as we can remember.

Writing, however, can be considered to be a clear marker, as we can precisely tell when and where it first originated. It independently arose – at different points in history – in the Near East, China and Mesoamerica. All writing systems of today trace their roots to those first languages, as well as most cultures.

Writing gave a boost to human progress like nothing else, allowing us – for the first time in our history – to reliably record, manipulate, store and disseminate information. For example, generals could now write down the details of their battles, allowing future commanders to use that information in their own battles. Rulers could reliably send out their edicts without the risk of manipulation, and so on. Writing provided us with a way to use information like never before, and formed the basis for all of history’s most influential civilizations.

1. The Agricultural Revolution

While many historians and archaeologists take the view that the decision to settle down into farming societies – as opposed to hunter gatherer bands – was an obvious next step in human evolution. The early farmers would have had to undergo many massive changes in their everyday lives – like in diet, housing, societal structure, etc. – to stick to their new lifestyle. It wasn’t a clearly beneficial deal, and more and more experts are starting to question why we did it at all.

Its evolutionary benefits notwithstanding, the agricultural revolution was still a pivotal moment in human history. Because of farming, we could finally live longer, grow our population, and – most importantly – free a large part of the population from food production.

Experts in other fields – like artists, bureaucrats, philosophers, military generals – made a way to even bigger, more successful civilizations, directly influencing how societies are structured even today.


We’re Only Human

WIF Anthropology

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 111

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 111

…The customs agent has pawed her way through mounds of tricot, lace, and female toiletries, looking at Francine like she was a Lady of the Night…

jamaica-001

The flight itself is uneventful, if you don’t count the gusty 2000 foot winds produced by a line of thunderstorms over the previously tranquil waters of the coming Caribbean Sea. It looks as if Cuba will get a blow from the prevailing winds in the next few hours.

140 miles south of Cuba {a fractional contributor to the Space Colony 1 project – celebratory cigars, so still communist}, lays the luxe landmass named Jamaica. Montego Bay is a coastal-cruise-ship-commune nestled against the foothills and mountains which rise out of the tropical waters. As they lower their altitude to the tree line they receive permission to land at Sangster International the island’s only legal airport.

“My head is throbbing,” Francine complains, “must be the difference in barometric pressure.”

“Take three of these and by the time we clear customs, you will be fine.”

“What are they?”

“Space flight enchanted capsule capsules.”

“Are they legal… I don’t want to know.”

NASA pharmaceuticals will have plenty of time to work. The people in customs are disheveled and crabby, seeing that they had just processed an incoming Chicago red eye charter, loaded with “loaded” passengers.

Skycap Roy has conveyed their suitcase armada to duties & tariffs. The rather robust woman who has drawn the short straw is leaving nothing to chance. Under Jamaican guidelines, she is more concerned about what comes into the country than what may be leaving; guns are banned as are wild animals.

She has pawed her way through mounds of tricot, lace, and female toiletries, looking at Francine like she was a hooker. Not one of the items banned by Jamaican customs. “That bag is clothes, that one is clothes, and that one is hair care,” she points out.

vertical-line

“She is going to cost you Mon,” she pulls Roy’s single bag to inspect it. “Are you two really together?”

Roy feels compelled to explain, then decides what the woman thinks about his intent is of no matter.

“Please address your editorial comments to KHST Television.” Francine is a bit put off. “You aren’t sorry I came along, are you?”

“No way wo-mon! Thees ees Jamaica no problem.” Roy loosens his tie and leaves his merits at the gate. They are but one couple among an island full of them.

As luck would have it, an outbound bus headed for the north shore is just about to leave, with several seats to spare. “Look at these people running back and forth,” he refers to the employees of the Blue Danube Tours Company. It is an unlikely name considering that the only thing this island and Deutschland have in common is Heineken’s and Red Stripe, “reminds me of a Chinese fire drill.”

“That is weak PC Roy… Chinese, jeez?!”


 THE RETURN TRIP

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“Political Correctness” BY THE RED PHOENIX

Episode 111


page 105

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 110

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 110

…“Let’s go!” She flashes her Miss Universe runner-up smile, gently nudging his throttle hand forward; the RPMs of the turboshaft engines match the beating of her heart, the 44 foot rotors, her spirit…

“This is KR 2022 requesting S-SE clearance for Jamaica.”

“You can liftoff after that AAL Jumbo heads out to Europe.”

Straight up, more or less, is less disruptive that conventional aviation.

“Any weather out there?”

“There is a Pacific Low wobbling over the Yucatan, but you are out ahead of it.” The controller salutes to the air, “There goes a real American Hero.”

Roy looks at his passenger, straight in the eye, “Let’s go!” She flashes her Miss Universe runner-up smile, gently nudging his throttle hand forward. The RPMs of the turboshaft engines match the beating of her heart, the 44 foot rotors, her spirit.

Destination: Montego Bay, Jamaica—

Houston sunrise

—Departing: Houston, Texas — The nimble aircraft is off the ground, ready to leave Houstonian airspace behind, but not before one last glimpse of what they are leaving behind.

Roy looks out to his left, across the early morning expanses of the Gulf of the Americas and the dimming lights of the Florida Panhandle. It is at Lovell Space Center that the bizarre story of Gurkhas Dhangotma, aka unknown is unfolding, with its veiled twists and unfinished suspense. No, he was not onsite himself to drill the intruder, but he knows he would only get in the way of fact-finding interrogators. By the time NASA security, the CIA, the FBI, and NSA get through with him, his government appointed lawyer may recommend suicide as a more desirable option… And then there is the New Mayflower.

For Francine, the sun’s fleeting reflection on Houston’s glass canyons provides a backdrop for the new life she would have to make for herself from this day forward. A cloudy past, littered with lofty ambition and vapid relationships, her career in television up in the air and her mock engagement to a management stiff mercifully dashed… and then there are her near-term prospects.


 THE RETURN TRIP

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She’s Looking Forward by Steffanie Lorig

Episode 110


page 104

Where Airplanes Go to Die – WIF Aviation

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 Airplane BoneYards

From Around

the World

Illustration by Tad Butler

Every once in a while when you’re driving down the street you’ll see one of those houses that has an old, rusted out car parked out front that looks like nature is slowly reclaiming it. Most major cities have at least one scrap yard somewhere too that’s just wall to wall old cars. And even though we don’t think about it often, the same thing has to be true for airplanes. Airplane boneyards are those massive lots that are set aside for defunct aircraft that are either waiting to be recycled or just waiting to waste away. Here are 10 of the biggest in the world.

10. Alice Springs, Australia

In March of 2019, airlines around the world grounded their fleets of Boeing 737 Max 8s after the second deadly crash involving the plane. Alice Springs, Australia, officially the largest boneyard in Australia and one of the largest in the world, became home to many of these unwanted Boeing monsters from across Asia. The owner, a man working on his own pilot’s license at the time, thought it would be a good business decision to set up a boneyard in the arid climate of the Australian Outback with all that empty space sitting around.

Because the climate in the Australian Outback is dry, it’s more well suited to storing these multimillion-dollar planes than their home countries, which may have much higher humidity an annual rainfall.

Though there are numerous planes stored at the Alice Springs facility, the owner is hesitant to use the word graveyard since craft like the Max 8s all potentially could be reactivated at some point in time. The technology isn’t defunct so much as it’s been back-burnered.

9. Southern California Logistics Airport

Ninety miles northeast of Los Angeles you’ll find the Southern California Logistics Airport which is home to the former George Air Force Base. George was opened as an advanced flying school by the Army Air Corps back in 1941. After the military no longer needed the base, the Logistics Airport took over as the town where it’s located, Victorville, California, is one of the most important transportation hubs in the state (60% of all goods that come in and out of Southern California have to go through Victorville).

While the logistics airport currently serves a number of airlines for their logistical needs, it also does have the boneyard on site as well for numerous defunct aircraft. Today, aside from its facilities that maintain and even paint aircraft for airlines and companies around the world, the boneyard also has a massive collection of 747s. In fact, just like Alice Springs in Australia is home to a number of those Boeing 747 Max 8 from Asia, the American fleet were retired to the Southern California Logistics Airport.

8. Teruel Airport

One of the largest boneyards in Europe is Teruel Airport, located in Spain. Though some of the aircraft in residence at Teruel are not necessarily on the junk pile and are intended to once again fly, a good number of the relics here are the remains of defunct airlines from Russia and other countries throughout Europe. When the fleets are retired they get sent here because it’s much closer than sending them to any of the big boneyards in the USA.

Teruel isn’t just home to an airplane graveyard, either. They also test rocket engines here, as well as drones, and they do flight training. It’s not a commercial airport that you can fly into nor is it a military facility, but they are making strides to make sure that Teruel is important for any other aviation-related activities that are needed in Europe.

Because so many of the planes located in Teruel are there because they’re the leftovers from bankrupted airlines there’s a good chance that a lot of these could be picked up and reused further down the road. But it’s just as likely that many of them are going to be resting in this arid Spanish climate until they’re stripped down for parts and completely forgotten.

7. Air Salvage International

Air Salvage International used to be a military base in Gloucestershire in England. These days they run salvage operations and can strip down 60 massive aircraft at a time over the course of a year for recycling. Word is that they also had some interesting discoveries in their line of work as well, including several million dollars worth of cocaine shoved in an airplane toilet. How somebody forgot about that is anyone’s guess.

A graveyard in the truest sense, this is where these massive planes go to die and get stripped down to their base components. The crew running this operation can get nearly 2,000 usable parts from any given plane. An airplane engine alone could be worth upwards of £18 million. That works out to over $22 million in the US. Not too shabby for a scrap operation.

Because the job of the people who work at Air Salvage is to actually salvage these planes, their graveyard never really gets above that 60 plane mark. That’s because they’re going to be tearing them apart on a regular basis so for every one that comes in another one’s going out in pieces. They’ve been doing this for about two decades now and it sounds like it’s a fairly lucrative operation. While some graveyards get to be interesting reliquaries that invite aviation enthusiasts to come and take a look, Air Salvage International only keeps them around as long as they need to.

6. Phoenix Goodyear

Not too far from Phoenix, Arizona, just a bit south of Interstate 10, you’ll find the Phoenix Goodyear airport and boneyard. The airport is still a world-class training facility where pilots from all around the world come to train, both from commercial and military backgrounds. The one-time desert-based Naval facility is now a place where you can find German Air Force pilots training alongside British Airways pilots.

Because the site has been used as both a military and a commercial airport and training facility over the years, and ownership of the aircraft has changed hands a few times, the result is that today there’s just an eclectic mix of planes sitting around. You can find China Southern 777s, Continental 737s, and even an Iberia Fleet Airbus A340 among many others.

Even though the associated airport is still in use, the boneyard itself isn’t actually open to the public. Of course, it doesn’t stop anyone from visiting the area and being able to get a good look since it’s all out in the open, where you can see it from nearby. Just don’t expect to get a guided tour through the facility.

5. Kingman Airport

Arizona is the place to be when you want to keep aircraft in good condition because the climate is perfect for preserving technology and metal. That’s why Arizona’s Kingman Airport is home to a substantial military aircraft graveyard situated on 4,145 acres of desert land. Unlike some boneyards, you can’t actually go and visit this one in person, at least not up close and personal. That said, because Route 66 runs right alongside the graveyard, if you’re an industrious sort who has a good zoom lens on your camera you can just park on the other side of the fence and snap off some photos if you’re into that sort of thing.

Kingman is home to several hundred aircraft, generally regional ones that haven’t been deemed necessary to ship to the larger Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, as well as a noteworthy collection of DC-8s. Kingman used to be a salvage yard and nearly 5,500 planes have been scrapped there over the years. When they were salvaging planes during the Second World War here, they would strip off every useful part and then smelt down the metal. The furnace is used to run 24 hours a day and they could get through 35 planes in that 24-hour period. Over $7.5 million worth of aluminum, steel and other materials were salvaged at Kingman back in the day.

4. Mojave Desert Boneyard

Located near the Mojave Spaceport, the Mojave Desert aircraft graveyard is home to some massive airliners and has been building its collection since the 1970s. Whereas many of the larger aircraft boneyards are reserved for military aircraft, the Mojave facility has over 1,000 commercial aircraft on site mixed with a handful of military craft.

You can find a collection of turboprops and t-tails here as well as the much more massive 747s and DC-10s. Unfortunately, this is another one of the locations that doesn’t actually take you on guided tours through the facility but they will at least let you know where you can drive to get the best look from a distance at what they have available. Why aren’t you allowed in here? Well, the Mojave Air and Spaceport is still used by upwards of 60 different companies that have a vested interest in the aeronautics industry including Virgin Galactic, ASB Avionics, Orbital ATK, and the National Test Pilot School. It’s even the first facility in the US that was designed for horizontal launches of reusable spacecraft.

You can find aircraft from Boeing, Lockheed, McDonnell Douglas, Airbus and others along with planes from airlines that no longer exist anymore including Pan Am, Northwest and TWA in the boneyard.

3. Central Air Force Museum Russia

In 2015 we got a glimpse of the Central Air Force Museum in Russia thanks to a flyby with a drone. The footage showed off a sizable collection of defunct Soviet-era aircraft that were all neatly lined up and in very impressive condition. There are over 170 planes at the museum, as well as over 120 engines that you can check out if you go for a visit.

Because it’s a museum, it is open to the public, although that is a fairly recent thing. Prior to 2001, it was closed entirely because there were actually experimental aircraft on site, and from 2001 through 2006 you needed to have special permits to visit. As of 2006, the site has been open to everyone. The planes at the museum detail Russia’s entire aviation history, going all the way back to the year 1909.

2. Manas International Airport

Located in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan, the Manas International Airport graveyard is home to some relics of the Soviet Air Force. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a good 60 aircraft were transported to this graveyard, including prop planes and helicopters. Unfortunately, either because of the nature of the Soviet mystique or just because the Manas Airport administrators they’re not super big on tourism, this isn’t a place that you can actually visit.

If you do happen to fly into Manas Airport or have it as a stop on your way somewhere else, there’s always a chance you could grab a cab and drive by the graveyard but it’s not a place that you can tour.

1. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

Head to Tucson, Arizona to a place called the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and you’ll discover the most massive aircraft boneyard on the face of the Earth. There are over 4,000 military aircraft and even ballistic missiles parked out in the desert here, just baking in the dry Arizona sun waiting for something to happen.

For decades now, the US military has been consolidating their old, unneeded aircraft at the Davis-Monthan Boneyard. There’s technology that stretches back to the Second World War parked on the gentle alkali sands. By 1946 there were over 600 B-29 Superfortress’ parked in this graveyard. And if you’re the kind of person who enjoys checking this out, they’re kind enough to give you a guided tour if you want to take the time to drive through the desert about 11-miles from the Tucson International Airport.

How did this become the go-to spot for thousands of planes? You can thank the annual rainfall of less than one foot and a relative humidity between 10 and 20%, which ensures that rust tends to stay away for a very long time.


Where Airplanes Go to Die

WIF Aviation

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 31

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 31

Was one of your fares a beautiful woman and two little girls perhaps?…

escape2-001

Aldona Afridi continues his defection to save Space Colony 1

“We must cross the Golden Horn to get reach Galata.”

The Golden Horn is an inlet of the Bosporus, the narrow band of water separating them from the mosque. The main bridge that connects Galata to Stamboul is choked with evening traffic and in the waters below is Image result for the bosporus waterwaynearly as busy, with floating forms of alternative transportation. Boatmen take their fares in the same dinghies driven by a hundred generations, bobbing side-by-side with a number of larger commuter boats.

A certain ferry commands Aldona’s attention. He scans each bow for the name Mother of the Black Sea, the ship of escape for (his wife) Fatima and the girls. It may be either under-sail or moored, are they aboard or are they ashore, in the safe confines of the mosque?

“There are many a ferry tonight, Saied,” the driver notices his passenger’s keen interest.

“Is the Mother of the Black Sea one of them?”

“Oh yes Saied, the largest of them, with the many lights no doubt. It is docked for the night.” He smiles fondly at the thought; the daily visits by the Black Sea ferryboat are a boon to the taxis.

“Docked this afternoon you say? Did you have any fares from that boat?”

“Oh my yes Saied, every docking brings many fares.”

“Was one of your fares a beautiful woman and two little girls perhaps?”

“No, but I may have seen such a group coming down the ramp, more baggage than my humble cab can carry. I think poor Muhammad XXVII may have gotten them, not good for his bad back.

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Turkish traffic

“Can we go faster; I need to get to the mosque yesterday?”

“We will kill more than pecking chickens…The world has gone mad for haste….”

“I don’t care; get us out of this stagnant mess.”

Never let it be said that a good taxi driver does not enjoy a challenge, especially if it involves driving obnoxiously; foot to pedal, hand on horn.

And the race is on!! The resourceful combination of a jet ski and a golf cart squirts through gaps barely wider than a bicycle, prompting Afridi to scrunch his shoulders and close his eyes. But as in old movie sight-gag, they magically appear on the other side, clear of the bottleneck.

So, leaving the trail of tangled auto, with their fist-shaking drivers behind, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque is mere minutes away in Galata, the commercial hub of Old Constantinople.

All in all, Afridi has time to loosen the noose around his neck, having left the hardest roads behind. That he lives to tell the tale is testimony to his firm resolve and evidence of his good fortune. When he was back in that cold river, bullets splashing like rain around him, his long-term welfare was undecided at best. Hopefully there will be sympathetic ears to hear his story, at the end of his cross-continental campaign, ending here in the land of the Great Crusades.

next-time-001


THE RETURN TRIP

mother-of-the-black-sea-001

Episode 31


page 30

Things That Kill, Not All from China – WIF Lists

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Urban Hazards

That Could

Kill You

The urban environment can be scary. While the dangers of the outdoors and wilderness survival are well publicized, city planners, businesses and the public alike struggle with how to mitigate the dangers with which the urban environment is fraught. Let us now explore the chilling survival dangers that may face us vulnerable humans in the wild, wild world that is the city. Eerily, some of the worst hazards come from attempts at charity, efficiency, or green innovation.

10. Monster Icicles

It is less well known than it should be that urban environments juxtapose walking areas for pedestrians with perfect places for icicles to drop from great heights. This can be deadly. In cities with cold winter climates, sufficient precipitation and the presence of tall buildings, such as St. Petersburg, Russia or New York, USA, a perfect storm exists that has, tragically, caused numerous injuries and in some cities, repeated fatalities. Environmental sustainability measures centered on making buildings more energy efficient have perversely created increased danger to the public in certain cases.

A 2010 article in the International Journal on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat describes how buildings built to be energy efficient (or renovated to be energy efficient) release less heat, saving energy but dramatically increasing the accumulation of potentially dangerous ice formations on the outside of skyscrapers. When temperatures rise, ice chunks fall to the city streets below. Icicles forming as water drips down the edges of buildings has caused tragic deaths, most notably in St. Petersburg, Russia where in a single year (2010) a shocking five people died and 150 were injured after being hit by huge falling icicles or ice chunks. Senseless carnage! Novosibirsk, the third most populated city in Russia, also saw a cold tragedy toward winter’s end in 2015 when a 20-year-old woman was killed by ice falling 14 stories from a canopy. Blame has been placed on officials for failing to ensure dangerous ice was removed.

9. Killer Dumpsters

Dumpster diving is a popular activity for the homeless, those trying to save a few dollars, or certain “freegans” trying to make a political or economic statement about thrown away food. Yet another kind of dumpster diving (for dumpster contents that are not garbage) have claimed several lives, prompting calls for a ban. These are the clothing donation bins that have caused seven deaths Canada-wide since 2015. The complicated mechanism of these bins, designed to prevent theft can crush people between metal plates aided by their own body weight as they reach into the bins in an attempt to retrieve clothing.

The problem is worst in Canada, for reasons still in question, but deaths have occurred elsewhere globally but in fewer numbers. People have been found dead in clothing donation bins, while in other cases, screams were heard but the victim died of crushing and suffocation before they could be helped. For example, help came too late to save one woman whose vehicle was still running beside a bin that she entered at night, only to get caught up and be left hanging from broken limbs. Efforts to curb the deaths include outright bans or voluntary removals of bins in certain jurisdictions, along with engineering team efforts to design a safer system.

8. Stray Bullet Strikes

Stray bullets can arise from surprising sources and travel in the strangest trajectories, killing people in cities who had nothing to do with either celebrations, gang violence, or warfare. Bullets travel farther than people commonly understand, less accurately than often believed, and can ricochet or achieve a lethal potential falling in an arc after being fired into the air. A growing number of people in the United States have lost their lives when a bullet entered their home or hit them in the street. Just one Baltimore street saw a three-year-old killed and then a nine-year-old girl injured by stray bullets in two separate incidents. These cases of accidental urban shootings are examples of a growing problem. Between March 2008 and February 2009, over 300 people were hit by stray bullets in the United States.

A variety of demographics were represented in an analysis of those hit, and those who were identified as responsible in stray bullet cases. Shockingly, children formed 30 percent of the victims. The urban threat is not primarily a street issue, as 68 percent of victims were struck indoors, including 40 percent being accidentally shot in their own homes. There is also an urgent need to stop the celebratory firing of live rounds at events such as New Years around the world. Senseless fatalities, such as the 2014 deaths of two children in the Philippines when bullets fired to celebrate New Years struck them in their home, serve as an example.

7. Airplane Crashes

Urban airplane crashes kill more people than you would think. Look out: the sky is not falling, but its contents just might. We might think of aircraft travel as safe, but when accidents happen, they are notably catastrophic a lot of the time. Furthermore, those on the ground are at risk, especially in cities. Tall buildings present easily struck obstacles, while lower buildings and roads may be hit if a runway is missed. Global aviation disaster records show around 200 crashes that caused fatalities on the ground. The single worst ground fatality event in aviation history resulting from an accident was the crash of an Air Africa Antonov-An-32B into a street market in the Democratic Republic of Congo that killed at least 225 and injured.

In 1992, a notable disaster took place when approximately 100 people in an apartment building in Amsterdam lost their lives as an airliner flew into the building, causing an immense fireball. Terrorism caused the most serious incidents, the 9/11 terrorist attacks killing more than 2,500 people on the ground. Large aircraft are also known to shed heavy parts, but a more common danger comes from small planes crashing in suburbs, such as one recent case in Southern California where four people in a house died when an 8-seater Cessna broke up in mid-air and caused the house to explode into a fiery mass upon impact.

6. Accidental Drug Exposures

The use of illegal “recreational” drugs presents significant risks to users. However, as prohibited street drugs get more potent and deadly, the potential for collateral damage in urban areas to non-users rises. The appearance of fentanyl as an illegal substance often used to cut less potent drugs poses an extreme threat to law enforcement and the public. An increasingly abused substance on the streets that is of medical origin, fentanyl often comes in a fine powder. If inhaled, even a tiny amount of this drug (that is around 50 times stronger than most forms of heroin) may dangerously inhibit respiratory function, easily causing death. In one case, first responders assisting an overdose victim themselves experienced symptoms of an overdose, prompting emergency management authorities to highlight the risks of accidental exposure.

If this was not enough, another substance originating from fentanyl, carfentanil, is around 100 times more potent than regular fentanyl. Terrifying! In addition to the growing threat caused by these rogue opioids proliferating in world cities, drug use poses other threats. Discarded needles are becoming ubiquitous, showing up in garbage cans, at bus stops, and in playgrounds, parks, and even townhouse common grounds. Accidental sticking with discarded needles may lead to exposure to bloodborne diseases if accidentally touched in a way that the skin of the unwitting handler is broken. Means of exposure include handling garbage, walking in grass, or picking up clothing in which a needle is present.

5. Extreme Smog

Major urban centres like Los Angeles, Beijing, and London continue to provoke health conditions and contain significant quantities of toxic smog. Extreme incidents involving smog have marked some of the low points of urban history, the London Killer Fog of 1952 being one of the most notorious examples.  The fog only lasted five days, but the chemical reaction between sulfur dioxide, natural fog, and nitrogen dioxide, creating highly corrosive sulfuric acid fumes in the city. Poisoned badly, 12,000 people died, while 150,000 were so sick they required hospitalization. By 1956, the Clean Air Act was passed to get control of the deadly risks of urban coal burning.

Despite the improvements, London today still has air that has become comparable to New Delhi or Beijing, two large cities known for their frequent air quality advisories. London’s problem with nitrogen dioxide continues, exacerbated by sunlight, which produces ozone pollution. Cities such as New Delhi, however, suffer from worse particulate pollution, yet the levels of potentially life-shortening nitrogen dioxide in London are significantly worse than conditions in a city as large as New York, putting a strain on health services. Air pollution in China causes around 1.1 million premature deaths annually, part of a constellation of problems that prompted Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang to declare “war on pollution” in China, with the intention of “making our skies blue again.” Efforts are focused on reducing steel production and coal-fired energy generation, which are key polluters.

4. Freak Urban Floods

Cities are often built in low-lying areas, while the removal of vegetation and construction beside watercourses in urban areas exacerbates flooding. Urban floods are especially dangerous due to the presence of electrical wires, with electrocution a noteworthy result of certain urban floods. Even in areas that might be thought of as being more dry, flash floods can pose an extraordinary risk in urban locales. In the large Saudi Arabian city Jeddah, 2009 and 2011 saw floods roar through the desert city, killing over 100 people. A lack of proper drainage and flood absorbing vegetation presents a challenge that must be addressed through better installation of natural infrastructure such as constructed wetlands and drains to slow and absorb floodwaters.

Furthermore, urban industry poses the threat of some very strange floods. Eight deaths resulted when thousands of gallons of beer were accidentally released into the streets in the “London Beer Flood” of 1814, while the “Great Boston Molasses Flood” in the United States in 1919 killed 21 people and injured 150, when a huge tank full of molasses broke and let out a wave of molasses 15 feet tall that rushed through streets and buildings, creating a half mile long swathe of destruction and death as people were trapped and drowned in the sticky substance.

3. Infrastructure Failures

We typically trust bridges, power pylons, overpasses, and roads to be well constructed. But a surprising number of deaths take place in cities around the world when the stress of everyday use does not match up to engineering projections and design provisions. Infrastructure collapses in developing countries or political jurisdictions without sufficient engineering codes are expected, but it may surprise people how many disasters have occurred in jurisdictions where infrastructure is thought to be quality and safe.

Between 1989 and 2000, more than 500 bridge failure disasters occurred in the United States! It is often not the result of an earthquakes, but floods or the negligence of a single motorist colliding with critical bridge support structures that sets off a collapse. Other times, engineering mistakes fail to take into account the enormous cumulative load from traffic, settling, and torsion or settling forces, leading to gradual failure or a sudden, catastrophic collapse. Collapses of overpasses above traffic are also some of the worst types of infrastructure collapse risks in cities. So, when you are traveling on a bridge, or below underpasses, you might want to think about the merits of not getting stuck under an overpass or on a bridge that possibly leads nowhere.

2. Asbestos Exposure

Urban exploring, where enthusiasts often illicitly traverse old factories, office towers, and tunnels, enjoys popularity but it can be very risky due to the chance of encountering asbestos. Asbestos, once welcomed as a problem solving “wonder material” with its fireproof insulator properties, is proof that the worst hazards are not always man-made, but natural in origin. Massive quantities of asbestos were once incorporated into urban structures of all kinds. Asbestos formed of minute, dangerous fibers can get into the lungs, where they cause serious inflammation and, eventually, lung cancer.

In the urban environment, almost any older building could be a dangerous storehouse of asbestos fibers. Even careful acts of urban exploration may cause ceilings, walls, stairwells, or old insulation panels to give way, releasing asbestos. No wonder asbestos exposure constitutes the number one threat to the urban explorer, according to Jason Robinson, who founded the Ohio Exploration Society. Not only urban explorers, but renovators and construction workers are confounded by the asbestos threat. Many urban construction projects have the potential to unleash massive quantities of asbestos when past construction work is disturbed. Dealing with asbestos is a liability but also a significant business activity, with workers suiting up until they resemble astronauts in a bid to get rid of the danger.

1. Gas Leaks & Carbon Monoxide

Colorless, odorless, and hard to notice, carbon monoxide remains an insidious and quick killer responsible for numerous deaths from small and large scale equipment failures and also installation mistakes. The substance is a dangerous, but formed of two completely harmless substances that make up your food, your body, and the air around you, albeit in a different molecular order. One molecule of carbon binds to one molecule of oxygen in a byproduct of certain combustion reactions, but the danger is much greater than the sum of the parts. Carbon monoxide is capable of physically replacing the oxygen in your bloodstream.

While taking the place of oxygen, this impostor chemical fails to provide the life sustaining support that oxygen lends. Eerily, the chemical has no taste, smell or color and is often not detected until death results, particularly if the victim is asleep. Many deaths have resulted from blocked chimneys, use of fuel burning machines indoors, or leaving a car running in an enclosed space. A number of deaths result every year, while lower levels of poisoning that cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness — or even seizures — may be misdiagnosed. Maintenance of equipment and avoidance of unsafe practices, followed by installation of monitors, are key ways to avoid fatal incidents.


Things That Kill,

Not All from China

WIF Lists

50 National Parks on a Dime – WIF 10 Cent Travel

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National Park

Road Trip

The road trip Olson designed is 14,498 miles long and it would take you about two months to complete the loop if you’re going “at a breakneck speed.” In other words, you’d better take a few months off work before getting on the road.

Here’s a list of all the national parks Olson included in his itinerary. Note that you can start the trip at any stop in the loop.

Click to Enlarge

Sadly, Alaska is too far out-of-the-way, thereby busting our budget.

 

 

By chance, or maybe not, we are beginning our journey at perhaps the single most breathtaking sight in these United States of America, the Grand Canyon. Keep in mind that the first hints of winter are creeping their way into the Northern tier of our country (and our origin is far from the circus that is our nation’s Capital).

So it is: From desert to desert, the American West to East and back again, the unparalleled vision of Theodore Roosevelt unfolds behind every rise, hill and mountain.

Keep in mind that it took passion and foresight for   to preserve and protect these wilderness and forested areas, by and through the office of the President. Without such sanctions, this trip may never have left the garage… just one more thing to be thankful for as we approach **Thanksgiving… but that is a story for another day.

So…

“What a place to run out of gas!”

** Special credit is due to the Creator, without which none of this would be possible.


National Park Road Trip –

WIF 10 Cent Travel

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #218

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #218

…Upon leaving Orange County California Judith is faced with one big uphill named the Rocky Mountains; sea level to fifteen thousand feet in a matter of 200 miles…

Rocky Mountain Railroad Excursion by Howard Fogg

The three day return trip is doubly melancholy for Judith Eastman; she leaves something behind and she doesn’t know what to expect when she gets home, having been gone over three weeks. She stares blankly out her window during the day, tosses and turns in her Pullman at night. Reality has indeed settled in.

If she were in a taxicab, she could tell the driver to step on it, but a train has its own plodding pace, 60 mph, downhill, full throttle. And sure as there is a downhill, there is an uphill to match. Upon leaving Orange County California you discover one big uphill named the Rocky Mountains; sea level to fifteen thousand feet in a matter of 200 miles. At the highest elevations, snow has taken over the mountain peaks, very pretty indeed, but two months from now, passage over the mountains is touch and go. Even a thousand horsepower has trouble with four feet of fresh fallen snow.

But once you have passed the Nevada Territory, the leeward deserts and wasteland, the locomotive is faced with a thousand miles of seemingly level terrain. Of course the quality of sight-seeing goes downhill with the land, with nothing but endless waves of windblown prairie grasses. Throw in the occasional bison and a rodent hunting hawk for every acre, you have the American heartland in a nutshell.

Judith just stares past it all, homesick and alone.

Rocky Mountain Steam Train by Max Jacquiard

What she finds at home will not comfort her.

“Harv is very sick,” tells brother, George Eastman, wearing a surgeon’s mask who greets her along with her old dog.

“Hello, Frisky,” she acknowledges her faithful pet. “Sick? Where? Paris?”

“No, he came home four days after you left, seemed fine and sorely happy to be back, even worked at the office for a couple of weeks.” George gathers the courage he will need. “Then that damned flu hit him from out of nowhere. I found him in bed, after the magazine called me wondering if I had seen him.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #218


page 203

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #186

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #186

…Don’t be givin’ me credit, James, I’m just going to be a simple country doctor…

Morning Rounds by Terry Redlin

At the reception following the commencement, thankfully in a tent cooled by large fans, the rest of Tallahassee gang gets the chance to congratulate the recognized star of said proceedings. A.O. Campbell is by no means totally comfortable with his celebrity. He has been merely singled out, by a President no less, but it took every fiber of his brain to make it to this point. Brain surgery is not in his future, though many men, women and children will come to him for what ails them and he will do his best not to fail them.

People like John and Martha Ferrell are just plain overjoyed, especially John, having seen his metamorphosis first hand.

James Ferrell has witnessed the severe prejudice that Negroes must endure, knowing that a Negroes lot may be one small step from imprisonment or death. Whether it be North or South, he is rightly impressed with the new professional and tells him so. “Put it there, buddy,” he extends his hand. “Not your ordinary commencement. Mine was so boring that half of the entire gymnasium fell asleep. Some guy named Robert Wynne, the then Postmaster General with a sedative speaking voice and speech to match. But you, my friend, have a flair for the dramatic and Teddy Roosevelt.”

“Don’t be givin’ me credit, James, I’m just going to be a simple country doctor.”

Country Lawyer-001  “Well, that makes me a country lawyer and if that country doctor ever needs my services, please do not hesitate to knock on my door; like if you amputate the wrong leg, or try to deliver a baby out a woman who’s not with child?”

“Pay no mind to him, Alpha, the world of law warps the mind, like a day old pine board on a hot day like today,” chides Abbey, uncomfortable when he is so flippant about such things.

Harv Pearson is not far away, catching the tail end of the conversation concerning his P-E J attorney. “You best take him up on his offer, Alpha. It’s better to have him with you, than against you. Anyone who can stare down a man like Hank Blount is all right in my book.”

“Not to mention keeping you from sailing on the Titanic,” James adds, taking any color from the involved faces, paled by the eeriness of a near miss. Harv and Judith were supposed to be aboard the fated ocean liner, but…

 (…“I believe you neglected to get us a press-pass from the White Star Line. ‘I’ll get you an exclusive’, is what you told us, ‘One of the Beacon Hill partners is the brother-in-law of Guggenheim’s sister’ or some such thing.”) At the time Harv and Judith were put out, stuck in dirty old London without a story they had counted on to boost sagging subscriptions. But in four days all is forgiven; a night in frigid Atlantic waters is transformed into a holiday in Scotland.


Alpha Omega M.D.

by RB McGrath

Episode #186


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