A few days off…

Between prepping for our Super Bowl viewing party and having issues with my new blood pressure med, I’ve been a little recalcitrant with my blogging and more importantly letting some birthdays go by without the appropriate public noting… so I going to get right to it and catch up with the birthdays. …ooh, med is all good.


  • LAURA LALIK – Laura was a fellow design student with whom I studied along side during my days at Indiana University. She was a far more talented artist than myself. She had a great eye for design and her critiques of my projects (when all of us were pulling all-nighters to complete for the next morning) were instrumental is raising my grade point average. She has had a very sucessful career and worked on a Disney park project in China. Happy Birthday!!


  • ERIC SKOOG – is my first cousin. He lives over in Indianapolis, so I get to see him more often than most of my scattered cousins. He works security for the various “arena-cons” He has some stories that are even farther out there than my Miss Universe tales. Happy Birthday!!


  • BETH JOHNSON AINSWORTH – she is another Benton Central era friend. I’m sorry to say, I don’t recall which class of which she was a member. She was an Otterbein kid. Happy Birthday!
  • SUZANNE MULLER – She was a member of the Benton Central class of 75. She is a director of a bank and her husband is on of my childhood buddies. They have three great kids and a handful of grand kids now. Happy Birthday!!
  • JOHN FRANCIS TOWMEY – John was a former student at DePauw. My favorite memory of John was working with him during our production of Sweeney Todd. He played the Judge and as such had to slide down the trap door from the barber chair down to the kitchen. He was very hesitant at first, but being a true theatrical trouper, he made it work and the show went on. Happy Birthday!!


  • Sean David Anthony – is my nephew. His father was George Anthony. Sean is a Restaurateur and aspiring Vet Tech. Also a wicked funny guy and a hoot to have at our beach vacations. Happy Birthday!!
  • Maureen Bailey – was a DePauw SOM vocal major. She is a soprano and performed in Moore Theatre while I was Technical Director there.
  • Nancy Leuck Blackford – another BC kid from my childhood. She was one of the dozens of Leuck clan that populated most of northern Benton County. Happy Birthday!!
  • DALE GROVE – Dale was a colleague at DPU. He was instrumental in teaching me the ropes of the yearly life cycle of the university. He was also a farm-boy and a gear-head just like myself. His weakness is road course cars. Happy Birthday!!
  • Carol Ann Metzinger – yet another B.C. Class of ’75 alum. She was quiet and studious (just the opposite of me). She always had a smile for me and would usually laugh when I was engaged at claiming the title of Class Clown. Happy Birthday!!


  • BROOKE ADDISON – another one of my DPU kids. She was a vocal arts major with a voice from above. She was an invaluable asset backstage during the opera’s. No one was better at wrangling opera singers. She is now well on her way to becoming baddest fighter pilot in the Navy. Words cannot express the envy I hold for her, nor the pride I carry in having her as a friend. Happy Birthday!!
  • JANE E. HOAKS – was in the class ahead of me at Benton Central. We did all of the plays together and she tried her best to keep me in line. Her brother, Jerry was a friend during school days. Happy Birthday!!


Nobody on my list, but someone out there has one today. Happy Birthday!!

Just another day…

Spent the morning working on school bus driver training. Spent last two mornings training. It is fun being back behind the wheel of a truck. Buses now have automatic transmissions, which take some of the fun out of it. I had to pull around orange cones, back through oranges cones and I managed to do so without striking a single one. My instructor was surprised and offered that he was impressed. Onward and upward…

I also accomplished some good work on the airplane. I put another coat of UV paint on the right wing and started detailing the fuselage for its paint treatment. I’ve also started work on putting an skylight in the fuselage. It is good to be me…


Stuart “Stu” Jones– I’ve known Stu since kindergarten at Oxford Elementary. I consider him one of my best friends, though it is one of those friendships that our paths cross only from time to time. If I have to explain that type of friendship… well… you wouldn’t understand anyway.

Nathan SkoogNathan is my second cousin. I used to babysit his dad, Doug and his brother Joel (Nathan’s uncle) when I was a wee teenager. Nathan is an honorable young man and he has grown into a fine gear-head.

Aviation Tragedy…

Yesterday, Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other souls departed this realm as a result of a helicopter crash. As is the custom now, social media has erupted with opinions on this event from all 360 degrees of the compass. As stated previously, I’ve taken a hiatus from social media so I know of no specifics of the social media takes, beyond my conviction that 98% is ego driven moralizing speculation.

The one fact I do know is that the largest single law enforcement aviation arm in this country is located in Southern California and they choose to ground their entire aviation fleet yesterday morning due to the fog conditions. Now to be fair, there could have been a catastrophic mechanical failure that no pilot could overcome; fog or no fog. The NTSB will determine that over the course of their investigation.

As aviators we are trained that the order of importance for safety decisions are- 1, passengers, 2, property and people on the ground, 3, our aircraft, 4, ourselves. A good pilot never deviates from that particular sequence. An absolute must is to possess the ability to cancel a flight when the weather is not cooperating. “Get there-itis” has killed many, many people for no other reason than the pilot refusing to acknowledge his lack of skills for the current meteorological conditions.

My fear is that the PIC (Pilot In Command) of Mr. Bryant’s flight made getting Mr. Bryant and his party to their destination a priority over their personal safety. The pull on a pilot to display his aviation skills in overcoming weather adversity is incredibly strong. Especially when offered the opportunity to perform those skills for one of the most gifted basketball players ever. We call it “scud running”. It is when we take-off and fly under the weather to get to our desired destination. I am guilty myself, but never with passengers and never over populated areas. Even if the weather is above “minimums”; when you carry passengers you must assume something is going to break and ask yourself the question: “Will I have enough altitude to have options on how I put my aircraft down back on the ground, not just enough for flying along clipping the bottom of barely legal cloud decks”.

We pilots are also trained to have a “Personal Minimums” checklist. This is a list of conditions from which we never deviate for the sole purpose of conducting our flight safely; maximum crosswind component, maximum flight time until landing for fuel, minimum cloud ceiling, etc. These personal minimums change based on an individual pilot’s skill and growing experience. The determining factor is how good one is at critical self-examination. Mr. Bryant’s pilot was less than accurate in his critical self-examination of his pilot skill set and it killed himself, Mr Bryant and seven other people. …a crucial lesson for all pilots out there from which to learn.

Rest In Peace to the members of that flight…


Katharine Bonnoront– When I first met Ms. Bonnoront she was thirteen year old Katie Hedge and a member of my daughter’s group of King’s Island gigglers. Over the years it has been a joy to watch her blossom into the competent woman and committed educator of our societies children.

Kelsey Hanlon She was a stage manager for a production of Irma Vep for which I was the scenic designer. She handled my designer petulance with grace and extreme patience. She is a woman of great courage and determination with a beautiful family.

Happy Birthday, my love…

Today is the birthday of my bride of 10 years, Mary Susan Anthony. The above picture was taken in the lobby area of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. We were visiting friends and planned a day trip to the island and went there for their Grand Luncheon Buffet. It is not a euphemistic title. I’ve only seen its like in Las Vegas.

In the background of the photo hung the poster of the real motivation for our visit. Susan is a devote’ of the movie, Somewhere In Time. She is not alone in her ardor for Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer. There was a line of fans waiting to have their picture taken with the poster and news clipping.

The island itself was highly tourist focused, but well worth a visit and since you are there you just as well have the Grand Luncheon.


Johnny Lopez I met my friend Johnny when I was an 18 year old, wild-eyed freshman entering St. Edwards University, Austin, TX. Johnny was just one of the interesting, talented theatre people I met there in Mary Moody Northen Theatre. He and they were instrumental in broadening the horizons of this Hoosier farm boy.

PIC of a new vehicle…

Today was my second day of training to become a bus driver. The South Putnam School Corp decided it will be worth training me up. The similarities between being PIC (Pilot In Command) and a DIC (Driver In Command) are many.

As with the Pre-flight inspection of the aircraft we are required to do a Pre-Trip inspection for the school bus. We look over the aircraft/bus from engine compartment, major mechanical systems, airframe/chassis and passenger safety equipment. The sequence is the same, every time prior to every trip. With the ultimate goal of keeping passengers, craft and property safe and unharmed. The only tangible difference is one craft leaves the ground and the other does not.

The added benefit is being able to feel excitement and anticipation on the same level as becoming a pilot. The energy of the bus garage is that of the FBO on the airfield. There will be challenges along the way and I’m sure I’ll have some grumpy old guy on the porch moments with “these dang kids” but the energy of youth is what keeps this planet interesting. This motor vehicle path has the benefit of feeling as a new beginning and at the same time a feeling of familiarity and comfort…


Lindsey Adams – She was a student with whom I worked in my early days at DePauw. She took on the role of Musical Director of our production of Sweeney Todd. It was formidable task to which she rose to accomplish with talent and determination. I consider that production as one of my top 10 production design experiences. She has continued her career as a musical director and also has a family of two lovely children and proud husband. It makes me smile to have been a small part of her journey.

Hodge-Podge rehab update…

…I spent some quality time in the hangar today work on the wing for the Funk B85c rebuild. I applied the fabric fill coat and the first UV cross-coat. The fill coat just puts an even fill of thinned adhesive over the entire fabric. Next I applied the first of 4 cross-coats of UV paint. The UV paint blocks the ultra-violet light from the sun from degrading the fabric. Think of it as sun screen for old airplanes.

A cross-coat is actually two coats of paint. One is applied vertically and after that one dries the next is applied horizontally. Luckily this paint dries very quickly. It is like painting the Golden Gate bridge. Once you get to the end, back you go to where you started and begin again.


Alan Windler– is a Benton County boy whom I spent my days with at Benton Central. He now lives the bearded long hair life in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Patti Woods Baugues- is a classmate from Benton Central’s Class of 1975. I still consider her a friend even though she works for one of the Bison’s athletic nemesis, West Lafayette Red Devils. The salt in the wound is that she is the administrative assistant of the athletic department!

Time is relative …according to Al

Today is the first 20th day of the year 2020. Soooo …20, 2020. We’re going to have 11 more, but this is the first one. I’ve always been fascinated by humans fixation on quantifying the passage of time. I mean would some event still be remembered and noted for posterity if it weren’t said to have occurred at a specific quantifiable point in the passage of the inexorable expansion of the mass of the universe. Does the numbers assigned make the memory or the transpiring of the event?

I clearly remember what I did on January 1, 2001; 01-01-01. The most binary day of my life anyway. I was living in Long Island City, New York, NY. Most people know the place as “Queens”. I awoke early and decided to head into the city. Being a member of the B&T clan (Bridge & Tunnel people) we were to refer to it as such, “The City”. But that is a subject for another blog post.

It was foggy as I stood on the 52nd St platform for the 7 train. It was leave your coat unbuttoned climate. I was the only person on the platform. But that made perfect sense since it was 8:30 in the morning on New Year’s Day. I didn’t imbibe the night before because I thought it best to keep my wits about me. I spent New Year’s Eve in my own company. I don’t remember much about that day beyond having Chinese food for dinner and going to Times Square to watch the ball drop. I got within five blocks of Times Square and settled into the pen at 50th and 7th Avenue. I thought this is a pretty good view of the ball drop and the complete collapse of western civilization since Y2K was going to shut off all the computers. I had my leather coat, heavy boots and even a small blade just in case… The full regalia of my biker days of that time in my life.

I went home after the big non-event of Y2K being a complete bust. I was thinking I was going to have to pull a Jake Plissken and Escape from New York. Nope, just getting on the train and back to Queens I go …probably should have had a martini just to mark the moment, cest la vie.

I come up out of the 42 st station in to the heart of the post-bacchanal the morning of 01-01-01 and it was a foot deep in confetti. Guys loading crowd control fence on trucks. Huge street sweepers baling up the confetti (I collected a handful for my personal posterity). Stage hands taking down all the event staging set-up around Times Square. It wasn’t Y2K chaos, but it was a very impressive mess to clean up. And time has since marched on…


Steven Chaffee– A gentlemen peer from my childhood in Oxford, IN days. He too is one the stalwarts who remained true to keeping the home fires burning.


…since God was walking around all day yesterday in a bathrobe, I felt safe in behaving in a same said manner. However, I was recalcitrant in posting the Birthdays of Note for January 19th which is as follows. Mea culpea!


  • Colleen Morgan Mraz A friend from Benton Central school days.
  • Kasey Muller Fellow Capricorn and the daughter of my buddy since 5th grade, Jerry Muller and his bride Suzanne Wirtz Muller, an alumna of my B.C. class of 1975. Kasey is the middle sibling between the two hooligans Shaun and Mark Muller.

Alternate Career Path…

I’ve decided to give the post-retirement career as a school bus driver a shot and submitted my application to a local school system. I spent my primary and junior high school years riding a bus and have many pleasant memories of those times. Most of my bus drivers were old farmers that knew my father well and I reveled that they knew me via my Dad. I had one ole grump for a driver one year. However, upon reflection tempered with age, he was not really that bad.

In high school there were the “fan bus” rides to Friday night ball games. Those return trips took place under cover of darkness and if the stars fell into perfect alignment one might (in the seats towards the back) be able to steal a kiss on the cheek while holding hands. There were also the daily post final bell “activities bus” ride that returned me to Oxford after play practice and club meetings. These rides were an alternate experience because my passengers friends would change with the sports seasons and extra curricular activities scheduled

A prominent memory of that time was generated on the last day of class before Christmas break. Upon the disembarking at our homes, we all were bade to select a small white bag from a cardboard box that sat next to the driver’s seat. Contained therein was usually an orange, a hand full of mixed nuts still in the shell and a candy cane. A nifty little haul that I didn’t have to share with my brothers! My compatriots and I started counting down to that day starting the Monday after Thanksgiving break.

One of the things I miss the most since my retirement from DePauw University is interacting with young minds still processing all the newness of the world that surrounds them. I envy them in that they are still steeped in the realm of discovery and a cornucopia of options. Being around youth give me the energy to fight against the grinding weight of cynicism.

I look forward to my application coming to fruition and becoming one of those “old farmers that drive the school bus”. I passed most all of the online practice tests for the Class B CDL on the first try with minimal studying of the manual. So, all those years driving grain and scenery trucks did not go to waste. Obviously I need to delve deeper into the manual to learn how the inter-personal protocols have changed over the past 50+ years. The practical application aspect I hope to discover is that very little has changed in the hopes of children and they still look forward to a small white bag with simple treats inside…


Greg Hedge – Greg is a peer Audio Engineer who has a sound company here in Greencastle. He was of great help to me during my days at Depauw.

Eric Wiley – I’ve know Eric since 7th grade. I was always envious of his skill at the game of golf when we were on Benton Central 7th and 8th grade golf teams. He was one of small number of my graduating class that remained home. He became a career industrial arts teacher and the golf coach at ole B.C. I have nothing but respect for his commitment to where we grew up.

First step away…

Yesterday on my 63rd birthday, I made the resolution to step away from Facebook and focus my energies on my website and this blog. Actually, the seed for the resolution was planted a year ago when I created this website. I decided to keep track of how I felt after interacting with the largest social media platform on the planet for a year. Then decide which platform I should focus upon. It wasn’t even close. There was never a time when I left the Facebook site with a feeling of having experienced a positive activity. The negative energy always over came the positive.

So I am completely rethinking how I am going to treat the internet and my interactions with cyber space. I now look at the internet as closer to what I believe was the original intent. A repository for various overlapping sources of information… a library if you will.

While I was in graduate school at Indiana University there was a small cubicle type of table in the far corner of the floor of the main library where all of the theatre books were shelved. I would sit there when I really needed to get away from the noise of college life. It was a place where I could compare and contrast the various volumes I needed for design projects, class research, etc.

This website is now that cubicle table in the inter-web library. My little haven from the troll noise of social media. Now, social media is the fastest growing wing of the library and there is no stopping that and I would not advocate doing so. It is just not a wing that has much to offer me. I begrudge no one who enjoys social media and they should indulge as they see fit and best wishes to all of them. It is just not for me.

The final straw is I can no longer abide the fact that every mouse click I do or motivate by my posts on Facebook puts money in the pocket of a guy who chose to screw his college friends so he could keep it all for himself.


Wow, this is one of only two days in the month of January where there are no friends’ birthdays to celebrate. Soooo… Happy Birthday today to all who are celebrating another complete orbit around the sun since the day of their birth!!