Two bees, or not two bees.

When I was younger I was enamored of flying, having learned how at Key West Naval Air Force base thanks to a brief stint as a military dependent. Flying lessons were at that time affordable, and I took the opportunity to learn how to solo a Cessna 150, and later at Hill Air Force Base Aero Club, a PA-28 140. After I turned 23 and lost dependent status, flight time became prohibitively expensive, so I never got my ticket – but I sure loved the experience.

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During that time I was subscribed to “Flying” magazine and read it religiously, drooling over the new Mitsubishi twin-engine planes that looked so beautiful, and one of the monthly features was “I Learned About Flying from That” – a humorous but educational look at the odd sorts of things that crop up.

I share with you here a portion of one that I always remembered, and which thanks to the eternal memory of the Internet, has been preserved for posterity.


Ridiculous things can happen when you least expect them. It was a beautiful, smooth CAVU day and I leveled off at 8,500, cranked the trim, settled back and opened a stick of chewing gum. It was all very peaceful, but while part of the gum was sticking out of my mouth, a bee landed on it.

I exploded the gum as far as the windshield. This must have put the bee in a bad mood, because he did an immelman and came at me out of the sun. As soon as he got me in his sights, he was joined by another bee.

I wade a rather haphazard attack with a folded low-level chart, but the situation deteriorated when the bees made a flank attack up my trouser leg.

By this time, I imagined I was sitting on a whole nest of bees and began looking for an airport. In answer to my screaming into the mike, a pedantic voice told me wind direction and velocity, barometric pressure, runway, and then, to report downwind. I was hoping for a straignt-in approach, so I began to shout about bees.

Of course, the tower said, “Repeat.”

I supposed I sounded something like “Blah blah blah, Comanche, two bees…”

“Comanche Bravo Bravo, go ahead.”

“Negative Bravo Bravo. Bees. I’ve got two bees.”

“You’ve got to what?”

“Seven-Five Pop has got two bees!”

The tower somehow got the idea that I wanted to use the facilities, and cleared me straight in. I went literally buzzing up to the wire fence beside the terminal, leaped madly out on the wing and took off my pants. Not until there was a burst of applause from a Girl Scout troop did I realize how totally I had been routed by the emergency.

Now bees are on my checklist, just like birds.

From “Flying” magazine, October 1972. “I Learned About Flying from That,” No. 389, by Guernsey Le Pelley

Full text here: https://books.google.com/books?id=aMXZoqvRpaIC

I could tell you about the time that I was at about 10,000 feet practicing cross-control stalls in a Piper and learned exactly why one should be aware of this danger by going into a dead spin, but perhaps another time…

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Curse of A.D.D.

I’ve alluded to the scattered nature of my mind before, but it’s worse than anything that could possibly be imagined. Like Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or clinical depression or a host of other “invisible” maladies, you’ll never know what it’s like unless you’ve experienced it. As a result, the body of humanity, which blessedly for them does not suffer from such things, tends to think that you’re just lazy, or a complainer, and that you should just sack up and get over it.

I had difficulty in school from the very start. I absorbed information like a sponge from the very beginning, but I couldn’t focus, and couldn’t organize the data in any meaningful way. I hated those “compare and contrast” exercises; the information was in there, but I could never get at it when I wanted to, although bits and pieces would often percolate to the surface at random moments. Look at some of the comments that appeared on my report cards:

  • “He must learn to concentrate on what is being done in class.”
  • “Doesn’t work to capacity.”
  • “Has done little homework, has kept no notes, and pays very little attention in class. He gets lost in his own thoughts, or some plaything or other during most of our class discussions;” this one was for 7th-grade science, mind you, a subject that has always fascinated me.

I can’t count the number of painful, tortuous parent-teacher conferences where two big adults would pile 16-ton weights of guilt on my little head and tell me that I wasn’t living up to my potental (that never-sufficiently-to-be-damned word), and that I needed to buckle down and pay attention and concentrate and do better. As well they might have asked a kid in an iron lung to run the hundred-yard dash… it just wasn’t going to happen. And despite half a century having elapsed, not much has changed on the fundamental landscape.

This is what it’s like in here:

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There are more downsides to this than I can count.

  • I can work hard and get things done, but it takes an incredible amount of mental energy.
  • Discussions are a challenge. “Esprit de l’escalier” (thinking of the right thing to say only after the moment has passed – and in my case, long after the moment has passed) prevents me from engaging in rational debate. Hence this blog, where ideas get worked out and crafted over time until they are more or less what I want to say.
  • Wife: “Don’t you remember that we talked about this?” Me: “No. Honestly.” Wife: “Doghouse.”
  • I used to use a Franklin Planner; I’d write everything down, prioritize it 123, ABC… and then I’d forget to look at it. At least a PDA or smartphone beeps at me to remind me to do something.

In the end, it’s a malady that just has to be lived with. I have methods of coping; this blog is one of them. Things that get written down are less likely to worry me later. To-do lists help, but chipping away at them is a slower process than it should be, because I still get distracted easily.

And one final note, after spending a couple of hours trying to craft this entry:

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The Old Wolf has spoken.