Saturday, December 20, 2014

Waiting for Patty -- The Process

For my long-time readers, this will be something new. But I have a different idea and a lot of pictures for which I have no other use. There's a lot of thinking that goes into some kinds of picture taking. As a matter of fact, it's more picture making. So, if you're not interested in the process behind making a picture, it's time to change the channel.

To be honest, I started taking pictures of The Chair because I was bored. I'd taken a picture of a really nice sunrise to post to my photography friends on Facebook -- with my phone -- and it included my camera sitting on my tripod. I noticed that the tripod/camera silhouette made the picture a lot more interesting. That got me thinking (hat tip to Galen Rowell and his "mature subject" explanation) about what object I could use in my photographs to add interest. I thought an artist's easel would be a good idea. Perhaps it might be a little too literal -- sort of like screaming "See! It's art! Photography can be art!". But I'm a literal kind of guy and I didn't have a problem with that. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I couldn't find a used easel. But I did find a used chair. Cheap. I named the first picture "I Grew Weary of the Wait". Coincidently, I had listened to a podcast about how much of our lives are spent waiting (like waiting for a pretty sunrise) and then it became kind of a thing. All "The Chair" pictures had to have a "waiting" title.

I Grew Weary of the Wait

Are you following along? Do you see how one thing just leads to another? I'd already been floating things in the lake so it wasn't a real leap of inspiration to float the chair. I decided to build a prettier raft but that was about it.

And then I started noticing how people reacted to the various images. Most of the images were just rehashing the same pictures I'd taken before "The Chair". But then I got a crazy idea and posted this one:

Waiting on Direction

That one got a lot of reaction. And it surprised me. Think about it. There's nothing there. No horizon. No color (I love color). It's a chair, lost in the fog. And that's when it hit me. It's not just about what I put in a picture, it's what the viewer puts into it.

They probably teach this in Art 101 but I've never delved into the art world before. I just like photographing pretty things, not making art. And all this led me to thinking about how I react to other's art. And that led me to Patty. Nobody's art on Flickr makes me "feel" like Patty's. The odd thing is, I don't know what it makes me feel. Again, it's probably just that lack of art school thing but there it is. And now it intrigues me. So, of course, I started to dissect it. I'm not sure that's the smart thing to do but I've been not smart before.

To make this long story shorter, let me use some pictures.

The first thing that ought to hit you about that picture is that it's square. As are most of Patty's. I'd been looking at her work for over a year and I had been so wrapped up in the "feel" of it that I'd never even noticed that all her pictures are square(ish). It's amazing what you learn when you try to duplicate something.

I also noticed she used a lot of leading lines so I tried that.

Close but no cigar. I love the dark and moody skies in much of her work, so I tried that.

I liked it (even if I did use fill flash) but it still didn't capture the "magic". So, this morning, when the swans flew through the frame, I decided enough was enough.

If I can't capture the magic with a square format, moody skies, a red wig and flying swans, Patty has something that I don't have and I'll just have to learn to live with it. No, I can't explain why I didn't go with the flying swans. You just have to trust your instincts and hope for some magic.

Don Brown
December 20, 2014

Funny How the Internet Works

I'm switching gears these days in a lot of areas so I'm changing a lot of internet accounts around. So, just in case you see some stuff that no longer makes sense, you'll know why. For instance, if you scroll down on this blog's homepage, you know see a tweet I made from another account (and posted here) that has someone else's name on it. He's the guy that took over for me as the Party Chairman. I've also noticed that a few pictures on this site are now missing. That's probably because I've been changing permissions on some old accounts. Whatever.

I have some new accounts I've created from my photography park project and I'll be deleting some old accounts. Expect more oddness as I discover how the internet works. The hard way.

Don Brown
December 20, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Double Bubble

What??? You mean you haven't been keeping up with my Flickr page? The link is sitting right over there on the right side of the page.

Unlike here, I post something over there almost every day. But I don't mind if you come here first.

Knock Me Over With a Bubble

Don Brown
December 14, 2014

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Sick Leave Soliloquy

Well, seeing as I can't do anything else, I might as well blog. It's odd, I really don't remember the last time I was sick. And I'm not very sick at the moment. Just fuzzy-headed enough that I don't need to be driving -- or out in the cold weather. Oh well. Your loss.

I started the day off sleeping in. Something I never do. Then I started in on the internet. (Something I always do.) I so wish I could leave Facebook. But it's almost like saying I wish I could leave reality. I had a good time taking my time on Twitter today. I think I'm missing out a little on the Twitter experience in that internet coverage is so spotty down here. But I learn so much more from my Twitter feed than I do from my Facebook page. Well, at least about the stuff I want to learn about. Remembering somebody's birthday is nice. Seeing vacation pictures is nice. But I could live without the cat videos and most of what normal people consider "fun" about Facebook. Of course, as soon as I find something interesting on Twitter I go share it on Facebook. Sigh.

One of the things that got me fired up today was reading an article from John Cassidy ‏at The New Yorker.

Should the Democrats Give Up on the South?

"In an anguished and pointed column on the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky, the liberal journalist, says the Party should “dump Dixie” and concentrate its electoral efforts on other parts of the country."

Fortunately, Mr. Cassidy didn't sip that Kool-Aid.
"For a number of reasons, I think that would be going much too far. If the Democratic Party wants to be a national party of government, it needs to retain and expand its presence in the South, rather than neglecting it."

I had read Tomasky's article. I'd basically blown it off. But, evidently, others had paid attention. I agree with John Cassidy. They shouldn't have taken Tomasky's article to heart.

(For those that have forgotten, I was drafted into the position of Chairman of the Democratic Party of Pike County, Georgia a couple of years ago. That's sort of like being Jim Bowie at the Alamo. You might get famous but you'll most likely lose.)

When Tomasky talks about writing off Democrats in the South, he's talking about abandoning me. Unsurprisingly, I'm not real keen on the idea. But more to the point, it's stupid. There are smart political operators out there that will tell you it's politically smart. They're being stupid too. There are people down here that are dying for a real Democratic party to show up. Despite what seems to be the common wisdom about the South -- that liberal Democrats will have to soften their message to play in the South -- there are plenty of Southerns that wish the real Democrats would actually show up down here.

For instance, take Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter. Both had name recognition from their daddies. I wasn't real keen on that but, okay, the smart political people said it would play. They both ran away from Obama. Again, the smart money said that was the smart play. How'd that work out? Now, look at it from my perspective -- a somewhat liberal white guy in a very red county. What am I left to deal with? The only Democrat I have to fight for me is a President the rest of you ran away from.

I'm not a smart man. But even I could see it was stupid to run away from our own President. Win, Lose or Draw. It was stupid.

Here's a thought. If you want me to hold onto the Alamo at least let me take a shot at Santa Anna. If I'm going to die defending this place at least make the fight about something more important than a man (or a woman.) How about an important idea? Or a set of ideas? Do you think everybody in the South is against a minimum wage? Do you think everyone working in the new car factories down here is anti-union? More importantly, do you think they'll stay that way after working in an anti-union factory for a few years? Do you think everybody down here is racist?

Or can you grasp the idea that a supposed racist from the South rammed the Civil Rights Act through Congress? Can you grasp the fact that the largest strike ever to occur in America was in the South? Have you forgotten that our greatest Civil Rights leader was a Southerner? Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Is that the South Mr. Tomasky wants to write off?

Let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Take a look a the trends and the numbers. Check out farming.

Agriculture is still Georgia's largest industry. Farms are less "family" all the time. They're getting bigger. Who might be working these bigger, not-so-family farms (some smart guy, somewhere, might ask)? That's right. Less rednecks and more Hispanics. The internet parlor trick I leaned today was tracking population by counties on Google. Rural county's populations have flatlined in Georgia. Some (like mine) are even shrinking slightly. Try to keep up. The reddest counties in Georgia aren't growing. The bluest ones are.

Fulton and DeKalb are the Democratic base of Atlanta. Bibb County is Macon, GA, one of the mid-size cities in Georgia. All the counties on the bottom are among the reddest in the State -- each voting 80+% Republican in the 2012 (Presidential) election. Everybody that lives in Georgia understands that Atlanta is slowly consuming the State but no Republican wants to see the obvious: The "red" part of the State is withering away. It's only the "blue" parts that are generating growth.

Only stupid people would seriously consider pulling the Democratic Party out of the South. I understand Mr. Tomasky's depression. I live it. I forgive him. And I thank Mr. Cassidy for writing a reality check.

(Helpful tip: Jameson's does NOT make the best hot toddy. And I'm out of B&B. Curses!)

With that subtle segue let me bring you up to date on my life. My term as Party Chairman is ending in a few days. In searching for a political message that will sell in a rural, 80+% Republican county, I came up with the idea of parks. (Thank you Robert Moses/Robert Caro.) Specifically, a photography park. I intend to concentrate on turning that idea into a reality starting January 1st. That does not bode well for my blogging here.

I'll make no promises or close any doors. This blog will remain up and available for the foreseeable future. But I will be moving on. For those that have followed me all these years, I hope you can see the path I have taken. I am so far from where I began, yet the power of ideas still guides me -- even to places unexplored. An insider's belief in the good of government, a 40-year-old book, and a job that nobody wants has led me a unique idea. An idea that I hope will employ some people in good jobs, show citizens how government can work towards the common good and make the world a slightly more beautiful place.

See you around.

Don Brown
December 9, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Barrel Racing in Concord

I need to figure out a better way of doing this. I need a non-business card. I don't want to print a card because I'm not selling anything. But I have so many people that want to see my pictures that I need a card with a web address. On the other hand, why should I send anybody to Flickr instead of my own web page? This free stuff is difficult. Oh well, Enjoy the pictures. It usually takes about 2-3 days to get them all up on my Flickr page.

From the barrel races at the Shadow Rock Arena near Concord, Georgia.

Don Brown
November 22, 2014

Sunday, October 05, 2014

A Nice Sunday

As you can see from the picture below, this Sunday started off in a nice way for me. I'm not sure how many of you have been following "The Chair" series on Flickr, but this morning was kind of extraordinary in that about four (maybe five) different flocks of geese overflew the scene while the sun was coming up. (You can't get lucky unless you show up.)

I had to pack up my cameras earlier than I wanted to in order to make it to church on time. Yeah, I'm retired now so I actually have time to make church a habit. (You can have good habits or you can have bad habits...but you *will* have habits.) I noticed a visiting priest hanging around but I hadn't been paying attention so I didn't know who she was. Turns out, she's the Vicar of ATL -- Reverend Donna Mote. That's right, she's the Chaplain at Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta International Airport.

It was interesting in that I had just noticed her on Facebook and "friended" her. The next thing I know she's at my church. I don't know if that was divine intervention or an algorithm on Facebook. Who knows, they could be one and the same thing for all I know. Anyway, it wouldn't hurt you to have an extra friend at ATL. Be sure to say hello if you see her. You can follow her on Twitter too if you'd like.

I was reminded the New York Times had run a story on her back in March. (In case you thought you had an idea what an airport chaplain at a place the size of ATL does. You don't.)

I'll be flying out of ATL tomorrow to spend a week with a controller friend that's been sick for a while. She is on the road to recovery now and this should be a fun week in the sun. Just because I'm not a controller anymore doesn't mean I don't toss up a prayer every once in a while. I have become more grateful for the ones -- both big and small -- that have been answered.

Don Brown
October 5, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Great Chicago Fire

Yes, I'm around and I've been trying to keep up with the fire at ZAU (Chicago ARTCC). I just can't seem to get loose. It's Saturday at 5 PM and I haven't even had a nap yet. This life of retirement is tough, I'm telling you.

Seriously, I've said it all before I think. I've been gone too long to have any new relevance (I think). A new generation will learn how important it is for the system to "fail gracefully" in air traffic control. A new generation will learn how important it is to understand the fundamentals of air traffic control and the fact that a pencil and piece of paper have a reliability that can't be matched by a computer (yet).

My generation rose to the challenge. This one will too.

If you need any help, I'm here. You have my address. After the crisis is over and you decide you'd like to brush up on the basics, I can't do much better than the series I wrote for AvWeb. Yes, I wrote it for pilots but it's the short course on the fundamentals of air traffic control. If you need a glimpse into the past -- on how we survived with less technology -- you will find it there.

Be well. Do good. Remember who you're serving.

Don Brown
September 27, 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Checking In -- Labor Day

I don't write nearly as often as I'd like, so when I do, there is too much to say. I'm still here. And the more I change, the more I stay the same.

I dropped in at a local NATCA meeting the other day. Just to say hello. I missed the fun parts. I'm sure they were talking about convention resolutions -- which was part of the motivation to be there. Unfortunately, I had a meeting just prior to that and it ran long. (An Agriculture - Business meeting. I do change. Life goes on.)

Privatization came up when I wasn't there. I'm sure the NATCA leadership is trying to find their way through the morass of sequestration. Privatization is still wrong for America (in most cases.) In any case, I still think of controllers. I still care. I even think about y'all in the pre-dawn darkness when I wrote this.

(Life in the country: It wouldn't send until I got home with a WiFi connection.)

Anyway, argue with NATCA's leadership. The greed-is-good/privatization/government-is-the-problem era of the United States is ending. It is played out. It is dying. Paul & Co. are good people. Let them know what's on your mind. And then follow their lead. Back them up. Even if your viewpoint loses. That's the way it works in a democracy. Your view cannot prevail in every instance. Nor mine. Not in a democracy. That's when it's tough to believe in the rule of law. But here's what happens when the rule of law does not prevail. (A story sent to me be a fellow controller, by the way.)

Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party

I bumped into a controller-friend at the store not long ago. He'd quit NATCA. Like most controllers, he wanted to argue about it -- to make his point. I understand. I remember the fury of being a controller. But there is nothing to argue. Not for me. I understand the heat of the moment. I also (now) understand taking a step back and viewing things a bit more dispassionately. Controllers can't always afford to do that. The job requires an intensity that...well...that it requires. It isn't easy to work up that passion and then to let it go. I'm not even sure it's smart. But here's the truth to keep in mind. I'm 55 years old, retired, secure and happy. I've made money. I've saved money. I've bought bonds. I've bought stocks. TSP. IRA. Mutual funds. I've saved. The very best investment I ever made was union dues. Period.

Pay attention: You want the security of a Federal pension. Use your union to get one. For NATCA. For union members. For Americans.

Local issues are small potatoes. NATCA is important. Unions are critical to our well being as a country. History is clear. You can see what we looked like with unions. You can see what we looked like without them. You decide which world you'd rather live in -- which you'd rather have your children inherit.

Moving on to worse things...for some of you, this will be the first time it seems as if the world is falling apart. Ebola. Russia invading Ukraine. Ferguson. ISIS. It has all happened before -- Yellow Fever, Spanish Flu, The Plague. Of course, that's the problem. You never know if you're facing the 1968 riots or the Dark Ages. The world will keep turning.

For me, I'm living the good life. I hope you enjoy the same. If not now, at least one day. I just got back from another rodeo.

I know most of you don't follow me for the photography but I'm changing there too. In a fit of creative desperation (that I learned in ATC) I've started a new series of pictures involving a chair. I won't go on about about it. I've learned that too. Like the lyrics of a song, the important part is that you get to fill in the meaning. It's not important what it means to me. The important part is what it means to you.

You can find the whole series here.

There is so much more to say. But there always is. Be well. Do good. Be thoughtful in whom you allow to have your attention. In today's world, your attention is a precious commodity. There is too much information. There is too little time. Use it wisely. Have a happy Labor Day. You can be proud of your part in it, no matter how small. United, we are so much larger than ourselves.

Don Brown
August 31, 2014

Friday, August 01, 2014

Let's Build a Cathedral

Yes, I've been to the United Kingdom and noticed the churches over there. Absolutely magnificent. You could go to the United Kingdom (and I suspect much of Europe) and do nothing but tour churches. They are simply breathtaking.

The thing that really struck me was the stone. How did they ever quarry so much stone, transport it and stack it so high? That really hit me in Chester. The Romans built it. There's a stone wall, 20-30 feet high, that runs 2 miles around the city. These walls aren't made of rubble -- they're cut stone. How in the world did they do this so long ago? With ropes and pulleys, levers and sweat? And how did they afford it all?

The rich guys back then must have really been rich. The stone work is amazing in a brutal way but when you move into the cathedral, the artwork will leave you in awe. Everything is chiseled, carved and decorated. Tapestries. Paintings. Sculptures in wood, stone and metal. The wood carvings. Forests of carved wood. It's unreal. I guess when you're as rich as a King, you can afford these things.

And then it hit me -- what makes a King rich? Actually, that's the wrong avenue of thinking to take. You can suss it out on your own but let's just skip to the end and say "taxes" make a King rich. The King gets a little (or a lot) of everything that people create. It adds up in a hurry. If Facebook only made a dollar a month off of all their subscribers that'd be $500 million a month. I'm pretty sure you could build a cathedral with that. You and I could scarcely dream of spending 3 trillion a year.

The correct way to think about this is not how much it costs but how much will it takes to get it done. The Romans built the fortress. The English built the cathedral. It can physically be done. Certainly with the tools at our disposal we could build even greater things. But we don't. Why?

Again, it isn't the cost. It's the will. Think about the size of the population that built these things. They're tiny in comparison to us. Any average-sized city in America could build a cathedral. All it would take would be the political will to say, "We are going to pay the taxes that will support 500 workers for 50 years in order to build this thing."

That's an interesting dynamic to think about isn't it? Could you imagine anybody in America thinking that they were going to work on one project for 50 years? Yes, that is a life time. Add to that the idea that you were going to spend your entire working life on something that was going to last a thousand years. And you weren't going to use the cheapest materials -- you were going to use the best. How would an idea like that transform America?

The trick is, instead of one man (the King) having the political will to see such a project through, in a democracy you'd have to generate the political will from several thousand voters. Or a few million.

The Romans built a fortress. The English built a cathedral. Americans went to the Moon. What should America do next? What would your cathedral be? Pick something. Anything is better than listening to the fools that tell us we can't afford to do anything except watch it all crumble into dust.

Don Brown
August 1, 2014

God Save the Queen

Something strange happened on the transition back from the United Kingdom to Middle Georgia. The level of ignorance was shocking. I wasn't expecting that. As Fareed Zakaria always says, "Let me explain".

I'm a Georgia redneck. Anybody that knows me knows that I don't speak properly. I don't even try anymore. Anyone that reads my blog knows that I don't know the rules of proper grammar. I never paid attention to English in school. I'm not proud of it, but that's the way it is.

And there's the point. I'm not proud of it. Yet so many people down here are. So, naturally, I commenced to thinking about this. And here's what I came up with.

In Amurica, we have this idea that all men are created equal. Somehow, this has transformed into the idea that anybody is as good as anybody else. (Well, unless you really are white trash and then you cling to the illusion that "those people" will never be as good as you are. Even if they do speak better, hold a college degree from a first-rate university and become President of the United States.) This, in turn, has somehow transformed into the bizarre notion that all ideas are created equal. That your thoughts, manners and tastes are just as good as anybody's. Even when they clearly are not.

And who's to argue? In America, nobody. In the United Kingdom, the Queen. In the United Kingdom (it's hard to not just say England), the Queen is the standard. She speaks properly. She acts properly. She is properly. You may be a great person -- educated, smart, kind and articulate -- but you have a standard to live up to in the UK. A standard of behavior to emulate. In America, you get to pick your own hero. Your own standard. Your own model. Even if you pick poorly.

I met plenty of normal people in the Untied Kingdom; "Commoners". Hard-working people. Gracious people. Of all races and ethnic backgrounds. I even met a religious nutcase. Not one of them was proud of being ignorant. They were proud of being English, Scot, Welsh, Arab, Catholic, "Scouse" and Londoners. But they were never proud of being ignorant (and most of them weren't.) I wish that were true of where I live.

No, I don't want a Queen. But I could do with a little less ignorance. Hey! That reminds me; How 'bout them Dawgs!??

Don Brown
August 1, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Just Show Up

This had to be one of the prettiest mornings of my life.

Don Brown
July 17, 2014

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Fate and Fear

I had no idea Lockerbie, Scotland was along our route through the United Kingdom. It felt like fate to find it. Not a good fate. But fate nevertheless.

When you're younger (or at least when I was younger) you don't dwell on the enormity of a disaster like Pan Am 103. You don't realize the enormity of losing a parent, much less a son or a daughter. You recognize that it's a horror. But you don't know the full weight of it.

The town of Lockerbie has done a good job of dealing with it. The Garden of Remembrance is a beautiful place, in a beautiful land. Hopefully fate will be kinder to the town in the future. The fear should stay to keep us vigilant. Hopefully a distant memory. But a memory still.

Don Brown
July 6, 2014

A Post From Afar

Fate reaches across the ocean. My friend that I'm touring the United Kingdom with has family in Brechin, Scotland. Brechin is the home of Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt -- the man that oversaw the creation of the Chain Home at the start of World War II. You can read on your own, but, in short, he's the inventor of the modern radar system. The town has just erected a new statue of him.

I guess it's appropriate that the sky was overcast.

Don Brown
July 6, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

In Good Hands

Let's face it: I don't get to write like I used to. Part of that is that I'm no longer a Subject Matter Expert (God help me -- FAAisms still infect my brain). Air Traffic Control moves on and I am left further and further behind.

But for these last few days, I have been forcing myself to catch up on Krugman. And then, this morning, while I was trying to find a piece from Fareed Zakaria, I got lost on James Fallows' page for an hour. Or two. I was really struck by this one. Find me another author with an audience this bright, willing to debate in civil language, and I'll give them a read. I'm sure there actually are others. Just as I am sure we all don't have the time to read them all. We have to choose. And the older I get, the more I realize how important the choice of whom we give our limited time to is.

Which is what inspired me to write this. Looking back, I'm proud of the choices I have presented to you. Paul Krugman. James Fallows. Robert Reich. I think each has held up well over these years we've spent together. Looking over my blog, I see that I will have to update it. (Big DUH.) Podcasts have become my main media these days. I can't read as I walk and take pictures but I can listen. Rachel Maddow and Kai Ryssdal's MarketPlace are a daily routine now. Bill Moyers' podcast is becoming almost a weekly spiritual ritual. All I can say is he appeals to our better nature. There are many others but these are the best.

By the way, here's the segment on Farred Zakaria's Global Public Square I was searching for.

In closing, I'll remind you that in the archives here at Get the Flick is a review of the book "A Peace to End All Peace" about how the borders of the Middle East were set after World War I, a review of James Fallows' "Blind Into Baghdad" detailing our foolish rush to war and a review of Thomas Ricks' book "Fiasco" about the disastrous implementation of our foolish policy. The disaster of our involvement in Iraq didn't "just happen", it wasn't fate and don't let anyone tell you that no one saw it coming. It was a choice. A bad one.

Choose the voices you allow in your head wisely.

Don Brown
June 21, 2014

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Add A Little Heat

A really nice sunrise this morning. This was only the start.

Add A Little Heat

Don Brown
June 7, 2014

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sound Familiar?

A fellow controller put this on Facebook -- an episode of Frontline that was filmed in ZTL, A80 and ATL. I'd almost forgotten about it and can't understand why I've never put it up before. Then I remember: I'm old. And this happened a long time before YouTube, blogs and Facebook.

Yes, I know virtually everyone you see in the Atlanta Center sequences.

Anyone indelicate enough to mention hairstyles or clothing will be reminded of how thin we all looked.

Don Brown
May 28, 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Howdy Stranger

It's just before sunrise on Saturday, May 17, 2014. If you're looking for rodeo pictures from last night's rodeo in Newnan,'re in the right place. I'm sure I'll be adding more pictures all week. Here's the first. I hope you'll check in often.

And if you have any trouble getting to my photo page on Flickr, just click here.

Don Brown
May 17, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

Best Laid Plans

A funny thing happened while I was playing with one of my floating art projects. A real sunset showed up.

Don Brown
May 16, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Messing With Flickr

As I told you earlier, I'm running a test on the way Flickr counts traffic. This is just another test. I'm not even sure the link will work. But if it does, there should be some decent pictures to see.

While I'm here, I'm considering a major rework of my online presence. I'll need to rearrange some priorities (i.e. stop volunteering so much) to make it happen. We'll see. In the meantime, thanks for sticking with me all these years.

Don Brown
May 10, 2014

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Number One No More

There is only one reason I have taken the time to put this on my blog. The date.

"It's not a good story, is it? In 1981, we had, by far, the richest middle class in the world. And what has happened since then is that income growth in these other countries has been substantially faster for the middle class and the poor."

Again and again , the ghost of Ronald Reagan and PATCO comes back to haunt America.

Don Brown
May 7, 2014

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The First Coming

What if Jesus showed up in today's world? No, not the Second-Coming-End-Time-Rapture thing that the fundamentalists go on about. I mean, what if he first appeared now? The First Coming (if you will)?

This is obviously too controversial a subject to handle on Facebook or Twitter. Sounds like something perfect for a personal blog. Because I'm not trying to be controversial. I'm not trying to insult anyone or poke anybody in the eye. Let's call it a thought experiment. I just want you to think.

What if, instead of being a carpenter from Nazareth, Jesus was an engineer from Google? And besides getting the lame to walk, what if all he did was ask you to practice being kind to each other?

No, I don't want to compare Meng to a deity. I don't want to accuse or suggest that he is trying to start a new religion. I take him at face value. And I wish him all the success in the world. But I bet the simplicity of his message will cause as much consternation as calm.

Don Brown
May 3,2014

Friday, May 02, 2014


Squawk Standby....


While I'm here, I find the traffic count generated by the different Flickr formats for sharing most interesting. One just posts a picture. The other choice for sharing posts a "player" on my blog that allows you to click it and it will show the next picture from my Flickr page. That appears to make my traffic count on Flickr soar. I assume the clicks are coming from the hacker's bots in Ukraine and Russia (my #2 and #3 traffic sources for this blog) clicking through the links on my blog.

For a business that counts clicks to sell advertising, it's...ah...interesting.

Don Brown
May 2, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Worth Repeating

Actually, this is just a test I'm running. But if I have to repeat something, this picture is worth repeating. For the last NATCA convention in Denver, I decided to take the opportunity to drive across the plains. I loved it. I don't know if I'd want to do it often, but it's an experience I'm glad I had. I hope to drive to Minneapolis for the next convention in September. And I hope I get a picture as nice as this one.

Don Brown
April 14, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Welcome, Rodeo Fans

Welcome to my blog, rodeo fans. For those that are just looking for rodeo pictures (which, I presume, is about 99% of you), click on the picture below and/or on the link to the right that says "Click Here to get to my Flickr photo page". It's okay. You can do it now. If you get to the Flickr site and get confused, you can come right back here for further instructions below the picture. Seriously, off you go. You can trust me. I used to be an air traffic controller. I'm used to telling people where to go.

Welcome, Rodeo Fans

Now, once you get to Flickr, you'll see this same picture. If you want to see another picture, just click on the picture (at the Flickr site) again. The easier way to find stuff is to go to my home page on Flickr. You can click on that link or you can click on the little icon picture of me (in my hat) at the top right of the Flickr page. On my Flickr home page you should see a bunch of thumbnail pictures and you can browse from there.

And for those of you that are looking for that one picture...

Once you get to Flickr, you have to look at the text on the right side and find the "DSC" number. For instance, click on the picture on this page (of the rodeo announcer) and it will take you to the same picture on Flickr. You'll read that this is Mr. Jerry Todd and at the bottom of all the text you'll see "(DSC_7752) ©Don Brown 2014". So the DSC number for this picture is DSC_7752. Every picture I have on Flickr has a number like that. If you want that one picture..., I need that number.

You can email me at

Other than all that. Enjoy the pictures. I'll work on figuring out a better system. I didn't really plan on becoming a rodeo photographer. I was just out having fun.

Don Brown
April 13, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

It's Rodeo Season

Yes sir, I have too much fun photographing the rodeo.  It sure beats working for a living.  I might get around to writing a few words on what I'm hearing about the new program at the FAA Academy.   Or I might just keep photographing the rodeo.

Luck Turns
Don Brown
April 12. 2014

Friday, April 04, 2014

"Absolute" Sunset

Yeah, so it turns out, once you learn how to float stuff and photograph it, you can pretty much photograph anything that will float on the raft.

Maybe Absolut will send me another bottle.

Don Brown
April 4, 2014

Thursday, April 03, 2014

ITYS #432,014

Yes, I did tell you so. Be sure to note the date.

Here We Go Again
I mean really, how many times do we have to hear it before we’re sick of it ? This time it’s the sub-prime mortgages. Last time it was the deregulation of electricity (Enron) and telecommunications (World Com.) Before that it was the deregulation of the Savings and Loans (Charles Keating and Neil Bush.)
In case you missed it, Charles Keating died this week.  Hindsight is 20/20. And the further back you go, the sharper it gets.  It's hard to believe things are so fuzzy as they are happening...when they look so clear after a decade passes.  From MarketPlace:

Keating's legacy, from John McCain to a camp classic


 "You have to remember that the S&L crisis actually spawned two of the financial industry's most lucrative product streams," he says. "One was the securitization of mortgages into mortgage-backed securities. Hello! Those things that blew up in 2008..." 

Such is life.

Don Brown
April 3, 2014

Go Listen Now

Foodstamps are this Depression's soup lines.  (I stole that line and can't remember where.)

Don Brown
April 3, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

KKAP Take #1

I'm telling you, this retirement life is tough. I have to work from sunup to sundown.

But with no midnight shifts and regular feeding times, I think I can manage it.

Don Brown
March 31, 2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014

You Have My Attention

I went to the barrel races tonight. It's not the rodeo but it's nice.

Don Brown
March 29, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Before The Second

Before The Second by Get The Flick
Before The Second, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

Hopefully, there won't be a third.

On another thought, it's interesting going to church in a place this old. It provides a different perspective. I can't imagine how different the perspective is in Europe. And Ukraine.

Don Brown
March 24, 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bike -Bored- Bokeh

Bike -Bored- Bokeh by Get The Flick
Bike -Bored- Bokeh, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

Just because I gave the guy my card...

I was at the Tour de Pike at sunrise to photograph the race but it was raining. I was bored and I'm sure the guy that owns this bike had no idea what I was up to. Now he does.

Don Brown
March 15, 2014

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Why They Hate Their Government

I'm on vacation but you *really* need to watch this.  Do it.  Now.

Don Brown
March 4, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Post-PATCO FAA 2.0

Let's step back and take a look at the proverbial Big Picture shall we? The FAA has put out the word: They are hiring a massive number of new controller trainees. No experience required. What does this say about America?

In that I don't write about these matters much anymore -- not to mention there will be a large new audience of controller wanna-bes -- let me reintroduce myself. I'm a retired controller that worked at Atlanta Center for 25 years. More precisely for this conversation, I was in the second class to train at the FAA Academy after the PATCO strike of 1981. I am 55 years old. I was hired just after I had turned 23. I am not important. The arithmetic you can do with those numbers is.

If I was still working, I would be forced to retire this year -- before I turn 56 -- as required by U.S. law. Conclusion: The FAA has waited until the very last second to replace the controllers hired after the PATCO strike. This, of course, hasn't been a sharp-edged event. Many controllers (like me) retired when they became eligible. The FAA has been hiring some replacements for nearly a decade. But this latest job announcement is different. This time, the FAA is back to hiring people like they did when I was hired. The job qualifications are minimal and the FAA says they will be hiring 10,000 people over a number of years.

The rest of what follows is conjecture on my part. It's what these moves by the FAA say to me. Some of my assumptions may be wrong. Even more will be argued with and/or denied. Take my opinion for what it's worth. Just keep in mind it is free.

1) Humans Win

The FAA has failed to replace the human controller. Again. It isn't for lack of trying. I suspect that the timing of this massive hiring isn't only about the PATCO strike (although it certainly influences it) but it's just as much about the failure of technology. Specifically, NextGen. You can go back into this blog's archives and read all the rants you would ever care to read about NextGen. The fact is, it isn't here. And the FAA is out of time. It has to replace the humans with machines or replace them with other humans. The FAA is folding its hand. Humans win.

2) Controllers Win

The management of the FAA doesn't really like controllers. To be honest, there's not much about us to like. We are supremely confident as a group. And if you manage to actually become a controller, you know you have done something that few people on this planet can do. If you can do it at one of the "big houses"...well, our egos and youth can make us pretty insufferable. And the money you can earn doesn't endear you to anyone except those trying to get you to spend it on them. So, the FAA would really like to replace controllers. In more ways than one. The problem is, they can't. Whatever magic it is that controllers are born with is hard to automate. And in an industry that is part of "the commanding heights", that makes controllers very valuable. Controllers win.

3) Workers Win

Well....I'm not as confident about this one. Perhaps I should say "Workers Can Win". If controllers and NATCA play their cards right, this could be a real shot in the arm for workers. Since I've retired, I've become involved in local (county level) politics and that means I have had to think about how to make a local economy work. What I have noticed is that the initial driver of the economy is always the government. It's government money -- usually government payrolls -- that make the world go round. I know you've been told it's businesses but it isn't (unless that business is a farmer.) Take Social Security out of your county and see what happens to the grocery store. Take the payroll for teachers, bus drivers and administration of the schools out and see what happens to your local "I-built-this-with-my-own-two-hands" business owner. (Sorry, I'm drifting...)

These jobs represent a way for young people to move up into the middle class, based purely on talent. It was another failure of the College Training Initiative program in that it required you to have the financial resources to go to college. Having the ability to control air traffic has absolutely nothing to do with college and it was wrong of the FAA to ever require it. (Hopefully, this is the last we'll see of this scam.) The conclusion I draw from this is that the FAA has given up (for the moment) on their quest to make controllers into airspace "managers" (you know, the guys that need college) and resigned themselves to the fact that they are going to need some air traffic controllers. Again.

Those controllers (young people by requirement) will need cars, houses and food. They will buy them. If they are paid as well as they have been in the past, they will buy lots of them. If anybody wanted to study a small-scale economy, the local towns around Air Route Traffic Control Centers would provide some interesting cases.

Here's an opportunity to reestablish the social contract between the American government and its workers: You won't get rich but you will have steady employment with solid benefits. You will become a member of the middle class. All that is required of you is talent, 8 hours a day and honesty. That contract has been frayed in the last decade if not torn to pieces in many instances. Teachers are the first example that comes to mind. They have been furloughed and fired on too many occasions. With NATCA's organizational muscle, controllers could be the example on how to make this social contract work. Again.

I'll start working on an ending here but I hope you'll keep thinking about the subject. I'd dare say this opportunity would not have come about in a Republican Administration. And there's nothing to stop a future Republican Administration from trying to reverse it. Make hay while the sun shines. Take this opportunity and make it work. Realize that you're involved in something much bigger than yourself. I know that's a lot to ask of a 20-something-year-old, but so is juggling a couple of dozen airplanes in the sky. I believe in Government. I believe in controllers. And I believe in you.

Don Brown
February 20, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The South on Ice

The South on Ice by Get The Flick
The South on Ice, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

We have made it through the day without losing power. I'm amazed.

Don Brown
February 12, 2014

Monday, February 03, 2014

Luck Counts #232,014

Luck Counts #232,014 by Get The Flick
Luck Counts #232,014, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

The great thing about swans is that they aren't scared. Of anything. They flew by real close. Close enough to fill the frame.

Don Brown
February 3, 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

This Needed Saying

And there's no better person to say it than Jon Stewart.

Don Brown
January 30, 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Sun Returns to the Water

I had to walk a mile in the snow to make this. Uphill. Both ways.

Seriously, the high was 29ºF and my truck is snowed in at the shop. Walking to the lake was just for fun. I love retirement.

Don Brown
January 29, 2014

Duck Season Sunrise

Duck Season Sunrise by Get The Flick
Duck Season Sunrise, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

Yep. Still taking pictures. But I did put a post up this morning in case you missed it.

Don Brown
January 29, 2014

Forget Not

WWVB and I had a short online exchange about the importance of memory. Like most things I discuss with him, the subject is deeper and more important than I thought. This is the benefit of talking to people that are smarter than you are. (Try to remember that -- while we're on the subject.)

Accordingly, here are some things you need to remember. Tell your children. Make sure they are educated on these matters. Don't leave it up to the schools. Grandparents -- make sure your children have passed these lessons on to your grandchildren.

1) Right now -- right this very second -- there is another Hitler (probably several) plotting his way to power. He has the intelligence and the capability. All he (or she) needs is the means. With it, he will not hesitate to start a war and slaughter 6 million Jews, Tutsis, Russians or Igbos.

2) Today -- somewhere on Capitol Hill -- somebody is trying to get a Congressman to introduce a Bill that starts us on the path to the 3rd Great Depression. Make no mistake, we're in the 2nd one still. And the only difference between this one and the first one is Social Security and unemployment insurance. Don't take my word for it. Ask the unemployed in Spain. Or Greece. By the way -- if you'll remember -- both of those countries once dominated the known world, just as America does now.

3) Never, ever, drive in Atlanta during a snow storm. Next time will not be different. It will probably be another decade before it happens again (which seems to be slightly longer that most human memory) but Google cars, traffic cams and the Facebook of the day won't change it. You'll just be able to document it and share it faster. Southerns can't drive in the snow and Atlanta will never have enough money to buy snowplows and salt trucks in quantities that could help.

Stay home. Be safe. Read some history. And try to remember it.

Don Brown
January 29, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Shadow Swan

Shadow Swan by Get The Flick
Shadow Swan, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

You can't get lucky if you don't show up. That includes the mornings when it's 22ºF and the camera feels like and ice cube.

Don Brown
January 16, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Just Ducky

Just Ducky by Get The Flick
Just Ducky, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

A fine morning on the lake. Another busy day in retirement.

Don Brown
January 15, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

All I Got Was the Dog

All I Got Was the Dog by Get The Flick
All I Got Was the Dog, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.

I'm still here. I'm not done. Retirement is just busier than you would think.

Clicking on the picture takes you to my Flickr account. But if you're looking for barrel racing pictures, you're going to be disappointed.

Don Brown
January 11, 2014