Archive for October, 2009

A Walk To Remember

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Few things can leave as deep of an impression on a father’s heart as giving away his daughter.  I’m still in awe of the entire event.

Standing to the right of the beautiful woman in white, I looked out at the 100 or so steps we needed to traverse.  All the guests and the entire bridal party were situated just beyond the small apple orchard we needed to pass through.  Then the harpist changed songs.  Everyone stood up and turned to face us, and we stepped off smartly.

My daughter was nearly 30, but it seemed like it was just last month when I was helping her make those first few steps.  She’s come a long way since those toddler days.  However, the high heels working against the straw-covered, earthen path challenged her to remain steady.  Clinging to my left arm, she found enough support to prevent any embarrassing spill–that would have been terrible.  Meanwhile, my little niece carried the dress’ train as we moved toward the distant alter.  Just minutes ago she was sprinkling the fresh rose pedals onto the path from a large bucket.  Precious.

What seemed like a few weeks ago, the woman on my arm was no bigger than her tiny cousin.  In those days she was a budding athlete.  One day during a church picnic she climbed a 25-foot metal pole.  She stayed up there long enough for her mother to start worrying she might be stuck.  Thus I climbed a parallel pole just beside of hers.  Once close enough to talk I asked her if she was okay.  She said, “Yes, I’m just enjoying the view.”

The view from the apple orchard was marvelous.  Twenty minutes earlier, the sun had pierced through the cloud coverage and was then bathing everyone in warm sunlight.  The slightly stinging breeze had stopped at the same time.  No doubt an answered prayer.  In addition, everyone was smiling and looking at us.  Some folks welled-up as we approached.  I fought the urge as a thousand other memories flashed through my mind.

I reminded my daughter of the time when she was about 8 and she stood on the high-dive at the officer’s club pool until everyone looked at her–then she crawled back to safety without jumping.

“This is better than the high-dive,” I said.

“I’m not crawling away this time,” she answered.

Under the inspection of a sea of smiling faces I said, “They’re all looking at you, you’re beautiful.  God must be smiling today.”

Her answer was slow in coming and muffled.  Must have been something in the air that bothered her throat.

Somehow we made it to the beginning of the chairs.  Cameras flashed.  Some people sighed.  Others sobbed.  The harpists played beautifully.  Then I saw him.

Him–the man who convinced my daughter to marry him stood there waiting for us to finish walking.  Four months earlier he traveled 600 miles to ask me permission to marry my daughter.  That took spunk, because nowadays her mother is most everywhere I am.

But he did good.  Poured his heart out at our kitchen table and convinced me he loved my daughter as much as I loved my wife.  So we gave him our blessings.  Then the surprise came.  Three weeks later he proposed.

Imagine that.

In 21st century America, a man in his 30s asked permission of the parents of a 29 year-old to marry her.  And to beat it all, he really meant it.  It wasn’t just an after the fact idea.  This man had real character.

I like him and I feel good about trusting him.

On the closest end of the row of bridesmaids stood my youngest daughter.  The maid of honor, wearing a beautiful apple red dress, had tears streaming down her face.  She grinned through the salty deluge, needing a tissue I didn’t have for her.  I had to look away, lest this old bomber pilot get a case of the wet-eye himself.

I stopped us at the first row of chairs, just like the wedding coordinator had briefed me to do.  The pastor and the groom stepped forward to close the gap.

“Who gives this woman in marriage?”

She has an MBA and MCSE.  She’s buying a house 600 miles away from mine.  She supports herself and she’s 29 years old.  She was a full-grown, independent adult woman.  Nobody, except the Lord, could say they owned her.  How could I give her away?

Because she asked me to.

How could I not?  There was the man she had waited for almost 30 years.  During those years I had prayed for him, though I knew him not.  Now I know him a little and I’ll continue pray for him, forever.  Over the last few months they’d complete a battery of pre-marriage counseling events with the pastor presiding over the ceremony.  This couple was much wiser than the brides parents were when they married at 21 and 18.  While we survived the shock of married life–these two were doing things smarter–they were planners.  Inside my heart, I knew he would be good for her.  He’d better be.

“Her father does.  That’s me.”

Then before I gave up my ground, I whispered a few last words into the groom’s ear as father of the little girl.  From then on, she would be his woman and he would be her man.  My work was done.  I just needed to get out of the way.  The setting sunlight was bothering my eyes anyway.  I took my place next to my sweetheart–the mother of the bride and I watched.

I watched my little girl marry her soul-mate and I will never forget it.

It just makes sense.


Tuesday, October 13th, 2009




“Alas, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits.I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” 

                          Bilbo Baggins


Ok the face book thing is interesting.  I’m still trying to learn what the sections like wall and such are about.  I am conflicted on the whole concept though.  I like the idea of being able to look up old friends and acquaintances, However, I suspect like most people, there are some folks that I am happy to never see again i.e. Creepy Big MAC Mac Pherson showed up on my potential friends list.  Seeing that thug again…even a still picture… was like a swift kick in the nut sack.  And what’s with the advertising with the good looking chicks with big hooters that want to be my friend or supposedly are looking for me? Again with the conflicted thing…I added Brian Bartels to my friends list as well as PWN3.  B2 was an experiment just to keep tabs on the stupid pecker…and maybe an attempt to stick it too him that I’m doing pretty good in life without him and his peckerwood ideas and lack of leadership.  As for PWN3…like Bilbo, I liked PWN3 perhaps better then he deserved.  Also it kind’a creeps me out when people I don’t know request a friends thingy with me.  Either I’m showing my age and am not comfortable with the “new” electronic media or I’m showing my age and can’t remember I once knew the person…or maybe they know me and have the same design’s on revenge as my pseudo friendship with B2.  Either way inerconflict….maybe I’ll just stay off the computer and get back to real life, no wait…damn conflicted!!

11 October Ponch

Monday, October 12th, 2009




11th again already.  Allot going on in the Estrada world these days.  As I reported last time, I’m in transition to a new job at Edwards AFB.  Transition is a good description.  As all of you know to well–With all things government and Air Force– there is a whole lot of hurry up and wait.  I was hired as a Global Hawk pilot last month… now I wait to get training.  The Air Force approved my training last week — one month – now they have to wade through a mile of paperwork to get me a slot at Beale AFB to do the initial qual.  So far the dates range from November to December to maybe I’ll stay here and do a local.  It would be better to go to Beale as the pilot shop here is very busy and short handed.  The best part of all this is I’m sort of on the ground floor of the start up of the group of test pilots here. Production of the Global Hawk is ramping up and they are expanding their pilot shop big time.  Draw back is there is no training path…they are making it up as we go along.  Sounds like they need a guy who knows training and building lesson plans, training folders, ect, ect…oh wait that’s me!  Life is good!  Also they are throwing flight time at me like crazy.  This is real familiar…just like the ACE program back in SAC.  We have to stay FAA current with our commercial instrument time.  Just like ACE there are folks who have to be chased and beat’n into getting there currencies.. and just like ACE there are those that can’t get enough flying time so the green light is on to use and abuse as much as possible.  So far I seem to be the only one who would fly everyday if I could, but you all knew that before I took this job;-).   Meanwhile I’m still working at Plant 42 on the B-2.  Go figure…they hired a new guy, and I’m the only qualified test director that functions as a test director on the program….long story I’ll relate on another day.  So my former manager…who was not too happy I got the flying job…long story again…worked a deal with the GB guys for me to switch hit and do B-2 stuff when they are busy testing.  This goes on at least till I can escape to Beale. The new guy I am training is an engineer….need I say more… and it’s all I can do to keep from dissolving him is a vat of sarcastic acid every day.  More and more I’m left with the impression that the folks we worked with in the Air Force..mostly aviators… were a special breed. Even the slowest students and EW’s I (sorry EW’s you know your own) were light years ahead in smarts and motivation compared to some of the folks I’ve worked with in the civilian word.  We truly lived and worked in a rarified atmosphere were only the best got to strap on military jets. So I bite my tongue every time I have to show the guy, over and over again..and over again, the basics of running test equipment, support equipment and the computers that support testing on the B-2.  Well on the other part of my life,  I think I mentioned my son and I built a very large alt/azimuth telescope.  We finished it a few months ago, and we are waiting for the primary mirror to be finished up in
Oregon.  We got a loaner mirror from the optician that is working on our mirror and we debuted our telescope at our monthly star party out in the San Louis Obispo area were we are members of the local astronomical society.  Well turns out that there are allot of important movers and shakers in the astronomy community that work and live in the area.  Some of them come to our meetings.  One in particular, Dr. Russ Genet PhD in astro physics ( he’s the guy with the gramps popeye beard in the pic) and director of several observatories took a special interest in our telescope.  He spent hours going over the design and workmanship taking notes and asking questions.  Finally he asked my son and I if we would help him construct a new telescope he has been planning.  We were totally blown away!!  WOW what an honor…especially for a armature hack like me.  Well we are a month or so into the project and we started cutting and welding on the mirror support cell this week end.  Turns out that the telescope project is a world wide effort with design and production support from a large group of engineers and scientist.  We are part of just one group.  My son and I are designing and producing the mirror cell, mirror box and altitude bearings.  The end project will be a fully transportable 1 meter research telescope designed to do planetary and close binary stellar data collection.   Dr. Genet’s thesis is that telescopes need not cost millions of dollars and occupy expensive observatory sites to contribute to meaningful research.  If successful , this design will be made available to colleges and Universities around the world to allow more access to and gather much more data then was though possible using the few large telescopes in use today.  Once complete we will participate in publishing a white paper on the results along with the design fundamentals and cost analyses.  Turns out that Dr. Genet started his career…go the Air Force. He worked in missile guidance and design in the early days of SAC and is the father of the networked simulator concept that is now part of the military mainstream training and war fighting process.
Well I’ve blathered on more then I have time for…until next month.Cheers


PS:  anyone needing a job please contact me!!!  There are hiring pilots NOW!    Im tired of the Navy goons filling the slots!!!!   

Rough Weekend!

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Sorry for being a bit late…the 11 Oct was a bit rough; my daughter 23 was laid up in the hospital this weekend.  It started Saturday morning, got her to the emergency room by 5pm, and ran several tests to rule out kidney stones and appendicitis.  But it was her gall bladder that was the culprit – inflamed & infected.   So by 2am Sunday she was admitted to have an operation around 10am Sunday to remove it.  She doing well and should be released today.

In other news, Heather finished filming this weekend – and WOW does she have some stories to tell!  I told her she needs to write everything done, because they’re too many and too rich!  Things like an extra asking if he could sneeze when the director called “action” but was politely told “no” so he coughed instead.  When they said “cut”, Heather pipes up; “I’ve been upstaged by an extra” and everyone laughs because Heather is the one who should be coughing because it’s her character – in fact Heather dies in this film.  The director gave Heather great praise for bring her “A” game every time.  So much that she was given an actors dream – to improv (ad-libbing) a scene with her young (about 6-8) son to establish a relationship with him because there was nothing in the script.  The script did establish relationships with all her other “family” members before she dies, but not with the young son.  So without anything to go on or guidance/direction, she pulls it off to the point that when they finally call “cut”, there in not a dry eye in the place!  I wish I could tell you what the dialogue was because it would choke up anyone, I mean I’m getting choked up just thinking/writing about it – but because of movie confidentialities, I cannot – not until it’s released – sorry.  O’ and her death scene, when they finally finished filming, the director said she literally “died” on camera!  She dies from what we’ve gathered is tuberculoses.  She evens got to cough up blood as part of her sickness leading to her death – kind of what Val Kilmer does in “Tombstone” as Doc Holiday.

Yea, I was given a chance to go on set and follow her around for a day; met everyone, took a few photos and had fun watching her and the cast!  I’d post a few images, but was given strict guidance that I couldn’t…again not until the film is released.

Anyway, if it doesn’t show, well…I’m pretty proud of her!

My son is heading off to St Louis later this month to record a demo-CD so his manager can “shop” it around in the music industry.  In the meantime he waits tables at a high-end restaurant that opened last month – good food!

Still working for Rockwell, but there is a great temptation to go over to Global Strike Command – they are throwing a lot of money around and sucking up all former B-52 crewdogs.  I had to put my German 88mm Flak gun, somewhere in North Africa 1941-43, on hold for the moment.  I needed the half-track that towed it but it’s still in production from Dragon/DML – it was supposed to be out last month but for some reason it was delayed until this month – we’ll see.  So I began work on an Army M1A1 used in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

O’ BTW…I like the BoB Blogging…not much into Facebook yet.  Glad to hear about Chuck & oldest daughter!  And let me know when you do get published, I’d be first in line to buy your book(s)!

Until next time, fly safe!


11 Oct 2009: The Chuck

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Not only was Andy the first poster in August, he was the only one.  And unless we count Ponch’s good-news post on 1 September, nobody posted in September.  Not even me.

Me, least of all me.

So I’m certainly caught up in something here.  I’ll share some of it in this posting. As I am making an 11th Band of Brother’s post this month.  This month maybe I’m just lucky the 11th falls on a Sunday.  Or maybe I’m just about to get my life together–either way here it is:

The big event in September for me was the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Denver.  I’ll always remember it as a trip to the mountain top in more ways than one.  A writers’ conference is an amazing thing:

Throughout each day, subject matter experts instruct various classes. The pleasant dilemma is having to decide which ones you’ll attend–as a new writer, you want to attend them all.  Fortunately the classes’ audio are recorded and CD’s are sold.  I’m sure I’m not far off if I compare the education value of a conference to an entire year’s study in a college.

Each meal is multi-faceted.  The tables are hosted by agents, editors, or very experienced authors.  While some hosts have their tables fill quicker, every table had precious pearls to give to those with ears to hear.  The meals included speakers, all with  valuable inspiration for people at all levels.  Of course, the food was appreciated also.

Each evening provided additional opportunities to talk to the agents and editors in small groups–imagine after a day that covered activities from 0700 to 1900 and then want to have another session from 2000 to 2200+.  For me, I couldn’t imagine not taking advantage of such an opportunity.

Of course the conference had more that just education–it also provides opportunities to “pitch” your wares to agents/editors.  I was elated to find someone interested enough in my writing to request a partial.

It’s not a contract.  It’s not a for sure.  But it is the “next-step” I’ve been working towards since the first time I thought I had an adequate manuscript.  The more I learn, the more I discover I have to learn–a bit like flying.  Regardless of the outcome–I’m quickened in my resolve to continuing pressing towards the mark.  Thanks for the encouragement along the way.

The big event this month is my oldest daughter’s wedding.

A few months ago, my about to be son-in-law flew down from Kansas City and met with Cindy and me.  He wanted our permission to marry Jennifer.
The conversation wasn’t easy.  And in 21st century America–it’s certainly not required.

In a retrospective comparison, the first time I met my mother-in-law I had already married Cindy.  I was a cad.  But let’s not digress.

During our conversation many things were said, many promises were made, but one thing rung out loud and true in my ears–and no it wasn’t the tinnitus from over 3700 flying hours in the B-52.

Jeremy listed a lot of verbs he was going to do with our daughter.  He promised to “provide” — she’s got an MBA and the MCSE rating, she’s probably got that part covered but nice to know he’s going to step up to the plate; he promised to “love” — most men love the woman they hope to marry; and at least a dozen other verbs, all of which I processed much like I just did here.  Then he said, “Protect.”


That was my job.  This young man was not just promising his undying love–he was promising to protect my daughter.  “Protect,” went right to the man of the matter.  And I believe him.  I like him.  Like him a lot.

This young man sat there at our kitchen table and poured out his heart to Cindy and me and when he was finished I actually believed he loved my daughter as much as I love my Cindy.

While any parents have concerns over the man who wants to marry their daughter–Jeremy’s visit won us over.  I’m probably cheapening the event by using the term “won over” making it sound something like a pitch I used at the conference, but it’s how my mind was working at the time.

Most people probably consider it sweet or respectful for a man to ask permission to marry their daughter.  A lot of people consider it an “old-fashion” technique.  And a few, especially those who know Jennifer, might suspect she required him to do it.

But here’s the rest of the story:  Two or three weeks after he flew back to Kansas City–he actually proposed.

It wasn’t an after-the-fact facade of a request.  It was for real!  Our meeting with Jeremy wasn’t just a nice thing–it was a sincere heart-felt happening–a happening I will never forget.

And as happy as I am a man of this character will become my son-in-law, I’m even happier he will very soon become my daughter’s husband and her protector.


I offer one last apology for not posting for the last two months.  In addition I’d like to encourage each of you to toss us a paragraph about your health, your wealth, your state of mind or whatever you want to talk about.  This is our Blog and I know the rest of us would appreciate the news from you.

A few of us are on Facebook, but I’d like this BoB-Blog to continue to be our space–at least once a month.

What do you say?

Rejected Sacrifice

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Embarrassing.  The mortal king, openly worshipped by some to the ire of many others, failed to deliver

No, I’m not talking about the failure to deliver on his promise,  “When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as the president, you the public will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it.”  He failed there on his first day in office on 20 Jan–he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act just two days after its passage.  He later signed a second bill just three hours after Congress passed it.  Then again, on 17 Feb, he signed the $787 billion economic-stimulus bill one business day after it passed Congress.

And no, I’m not talking about his failure to “eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups.”   However, the $787 billion economic-stimulus did reduce them.  Of course, we all know reduction does not equal elimination.

And no again. I’m not talking about his failure to provide new American jobs tax credit.  He promised it to be a $3000 refundable tax credit to existing businesses for every additional full-time U.S. employee hired in 2009 and 2010–it never happened, never will.

The same is true for his failure to provide a hiatus on 401(k) penalties, to eliminate earmarks such as the billions of dollars included in the economic-stimulus, to end the war and bring all the combat troops home by May 20, 2010, to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, to make the first $4000 of college education completely free for Americans, to have “the most open and transparent government in history,” and for that matter–”to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Maybe that was a cheap shot, but only if all Americans know the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution decrees:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The seemingly ever-increasing number of czars–up to about 32 as of this article’s posting–are clearly prohibited via the Tenth Amendment.  Each of Obama’s czars gets paid $172,000 a year and has a staff with offices and supporting budgets.  Does the expense total to millions or billions of dollars?  We don’t know, but the monetary degradation on America is just the down payment for what they will ultimately cost us.

Those who seek to defend this anti-Constitutional practice most often resort to citing previous administrations, as far back as FDR, which are guilty of the same sin–albeit on a lesser scale.  In retrospect, they allowed the camel’s nose to get under the tent.  Still that’s no reason to allow the flea-laden camel to wear your pajamas and dance with your children.

So what was the recent failure to deliver I was talking about at the beginning of this article?

The Olympics–the International Olympic Committee (IOC) eliminated Chicago early in the consideration for the site of the 2016 games.  The winner is:

Rio de Janeiro.

In 2016, the world will be treated to view the unfolding drama of those famous games against the backdrop of the rich culture and beauty associated with Rio and Brazil.  I look forward to it.

By now most everyone has heard of Michelle Obama’s characterization of her jaunt to Europe with her husband and Oprah Winfrey as a “sacrifice” on her behalf for the children of Chicago and the United States.  Considering the result of the “sacrifice”–the Presidential advisors need to review the requirements of a sufficient sacrifice.  In addition, the word “sacrifice” needs to be dropped from her speech-writers’ list of authorized words.

For a quick lesson on sufficient sacrifices, we can look at Hebrews chapter 9:

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctified to the purifying of the flesh:

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

In summary, a trip to Europe on Air Force One and doing some shopping in Copenhagen is not a sacrifice–not even close.  And that would be true even if the IOC had bent their knee to Obama, which they didn’t.

With the United States experiencing record high unemployment, a sky-rocketing national debt, fog and friction in the war formerly known as the Global War on Terror, terrorist-sponsoring nations developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to our allies and to us, and emerging civil unrest at home–we need a President who will to the best of his ability use his time and energy to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.  In other words, we need the person we’re paying $400,000 a year plus perks to do his job.

Mmm, mmm, mmm.

It just makes sense.