Thanksgiving


Have a safe one…

Fly 'n Things

November is NaNoWriMo

“What are you doing tomorrow,” I asked, preoccupied with other thoughts.

“What? ” said Nathan.

“What did you say,” asked Nathan asked again.

“Oh… why don’t you come to celebrate Thanksgiving at my place? Amelia and I would be happy to have you over.” I said enthusiastically.

“Are you sure?” asked Nathan, hesitantly.

“Of course ,” I said. “You know Amelia, the more the merrier. Sri, Chung, Bob, several of Amelia’s coworkers will be there. I have invited several of my old coworkers too.” I said warmly.

“But, Frisco,’ said Nathan. “Are you sure…” as his voice drifted off. Hesitant to voice all that worried him. He eyed me, with a sad look.

One that I missed.

How could I have known what Nathan knew that day, what haunted him, and  what bothered him that day. I was too carefree, my mind on Amelia, who had just…

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Manned vs. Unmanned


I recently came across some interesting, but contentious discussions. The discussions started innocently enough with a question on what advances in space the scientific community wanted to see for manned flight. Among the plethora of ideas, was a simple, yet honest request to stop using the term manned flight. This resulted in the opening of Pandora’s box with arguments for and against such a change in terminology. As I read the arguments, at times rude, and dismissive of the need for this, I seriously started considering the terminology.

My personal concerns where triggered when one of the respondents to the discussion indicated how a professional woman in the scientific world in the 1970’s in a predominantly male dominated society was referred to as “unmanned”. That response affected me more than I expected. It felt offensive and degrading. I was heartened to learn that NASA had updated their terminology back in the 1970’s to use flight crew when the first women were selected to the space program and became part of the astronaut team.

What is the correct way to convey this, I pondered? Should I be more attuned to the right terminology than I already am? You see I never saw gender differences when the term manned was used. The dictionary definition of manned includes the gender neutral “person or persons”.

As commercial aviation gained momentum during the early golden age of aviation, air hostesses, or air stewardess as they were referred to then, played a vital role in welcoming passengers aboard the aircraft and ensuring passengers had a fulfilling experience. This role has since evolved to include other roles and responsibilities, and over the years, more and more men have started filling these roles. Today we automatically refer to them as flight attendant or cabin crew. No one either questions or contradicts this transition in terminology use. Just for fun, I used the Google ngram viewer that charts word frequencies over a large corpus of books to examine cultural change over the years. While the current viewer accesses literary content only till 2008, the observed trends from the charts while not definitive appear to be trending in the obvious direction.

The whole meaning of gender has been evolving over the last few decades. Why should a person’s right to bear arms be more important than a person’s right to define who they are as a person or gender of their choice? As we strive to get our youth more interested in aerospace and STEM programs, especially young women, why should we not rethink how we define our crew to be more inclusive and in harmony with the changing demographics?

Note: A version of this appears in Aviatrix Aerogram.

For the New Intellectual


My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge—Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve—Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man’s virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride.

— John Galt’s Speech. (Ayn Rand)

 

See Also:

Happiness

Fall in DC

Falling Water A Flyout that wasn’t

Money is the root of all evil

In the name of the best within you

Atlantis

Heroes in Fiction

Capitalism with Morality: The Lost Cause!

The Challenge of a Changing “Self” by Lane Wallace


On the wall of my office, I have a framed copy of the cover for Flying magazine’s October 2000 issue. Unlike most of the magazine’s covers, which feature an airplane of some kind, this one featured … me. Granted, there is an airplane, or at least part of one, in the image. But I’m the main attraction. I’m sitting on the wing of a beautiful Staggerwing Beech biplane, in shorts and a blue, sleeveless, button-down shirt, gazing off into the sunset, under the headline “Oshkosh Dreams.”

If that cover doesn’t sound familiar to anyone, it’s because it never ran. The art director always produced two cover layouts, one of which got chosen for the publication run. So I have the only copy of that cover. It’s part of why I like it, and why it’s up on my wall. I’m a cover girl, but only within the confines of my own home.

More to the point, however, that image of my youthful, tanned self was taken more than 18 years ago. I still see myself, when I look at it. But I’m also not that particular woman anymore. So much has happened; so much has changed. That is, incidentally, as it should be. But it also emphasizes a really important point about being ourselves.

Continue to read the full article here.

Words on Wednesdays: AvTech


November is NaNoWriMo

“Is Amelia, here?” I asked Anne at the front desk. “She asked me to meet her here.”

“You must be John,” she said, as she continued looking at her screen.

“Wait,” she said.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Amelia is not here. She is off in the field inspecting the avionics in one of the B737s, somewhere out there,” she vaguely pointed.

“Do you know when she will be back?” I asked.

“Maybe, maybe not” she responded absentmindedly.

“Do you like opera,” she asked after eons.

“What?” I asked in exasperation. What the devil is wrong with this woman?

“Are you seeing anyone?” she continued.

Before I could respond, the phone rang, and she was on the phone for a good ten minutes, talking secretive, absurd nothings. I was almost ready to give up and leave. What a strange group of people, I thought. How does Amelia manage to work with this weird bunch?

“How about Yanni?” asked the ridiculous woman interrupting my thoughts.

“What?” I asked stupidly. What does this have to do with Amelia I wondered?

“Can you let Amelia know, I was here? I will be at the Firehouse Grill,” I responded getting ready to walk out and leave this bizarre office.

I could hear strange sounds, as someone in the cubicle next to the front desk desperately controlled himself or herself.

“You must definitely like John Lennon. You seem the type,” continued the ridiculous woman.

“Yes, I like John Lennon.” I humored the woman.

This time, the person behind the cube, could not hold himself or herself any longer. I could hear unconstrained laughter. I walked around to see what the ruckus was, before Jane at the front desk could stop me.

Frank the assistant was doubled over laughing so uncontrollably that I was not sure what it was all about. Seeing me looking at him dumbfounded, Frank finally got his act together.

“Hi!” he said. “Amelia said you would come over at 11:30. Would you like to see how we prepare to return an aircraft to service?” he asked. “Amelia said you might,” before I could respond.

“Sure.” I said.

“Terrific, I am to bring you over so you can watch. It is pretty cool”.

As we walked over to the B737 undergoing checks, Frank made small talk. “Don’t mind Jane. She means well. She is just trying to figure out if your interests are similar to Amelia. You know she is a master matchmaker. She can’t stop herself.”

What? I thought. Yanni, Lennon, maybe Jane was not so stupid after all. I could forgive her if she was on my side. Was she?

“There, you are,” said Amelia. “We have been waiting for you. I thought you might like to see the process to return the aircraft to service. This is one of the first aircraft that has been scheduled to return to service.”

“Yes. I certainly would.” I said as Frank and I joined Amelia and Jack as they walked through the avionics checks.

It takes a full seven days to return an aircraft to service according to Amelia.

Although, what was foremost on my mind was whether I liked Yanni.

Words on Wednesday: Thanksgiving


November is NaNoWriMo

“What are you doing tomorrow,” I asked, preoccupied with other thoughts.

“What? ” said Nathan.

“What did you say,” asked Nathan asked again.

“Oh… why don’t you come to celebrate Thanksgiving at my place? Amelia and I would be happy to have you over.” I said enthusiastically.

“Are you sure?” asked Nathan, hesitantly.

“Of course ,” I said. “You know Amelia, the more the merrier. Sri, Chung, Bob, several of Amelia’s coworkers will be there. I have invited several of my old coworkers too.” I said warmly.

“But, Frisco,’ said Nathan. “Are you sure…” as his voice drifted off. Hesitant to voice all that worried him. He eyed me, with a sad look.

One that I missed.

How could I have known what Nathan knew that day, what haunted him, and  what bothered him that day. I was too carefree, my mind on Amelia, who had just accepted my proposal. I was oblivious to everything else. It was the fall of 2003, when several of us gathered together to give thanks. It was one of those last days of happiness we would experience in a long time. Maybe it was already late. I was lax in noting. I was preoccupied with Amelia.

I missed the most important cue in my life about Nathan. That was the day I should have paid attention.

I could have saved him.

Words on Wednesdays: Chung


November is NaNoWriMo

“It’s time”

I revolted. “Now, ” I asked.

It can’t be. I thought desperately. How can it be now. It was still premature. I hadn’t seen anything or suspected anything to make me think a change was needed.

“He is highly erratic and uncontrollable. He has been saying things. Once he had a drink, he is beyond control.”

“It’s Nathan! Dammit! We were in Nam together…”, my voice petered out.

“Are you telling me you wont do it? Is this the time you are telling me that you are not capable of doing the things you promised?”

I had gotten myself into things far beyond me. I couldn’t do this to Nathan. All the visions we had as teenagers, about country, about the world, about freedom, and all the good we could do.

Nathan, who had saved my life. Who was going to save him now?

History Always Repeats Itself


Scopes Monkey Trial

Henry Drummond: I say that you cannot administer a wicked law impartially. You can only destroy, you can only punish. And I warn you, that a wicked law, like cholera, destroys every one it touches. Its upholders as well as its defiers.

Judge: Colonel Drummond…

Henry Drummond: Can’t you understand? That if you take a law like evolution and you make it a crime to teach it in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools? And tomorrow you may make it a crime to read about it. And soon you may ban books and newspapers. And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man. If you can do one, you can do the other. Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we’ll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!