Sunday, January 19, 2020

Painting Lines on the Loring AFB Runway

A snippet that I wrote yesterday for the book I am writing for my grandchildren about every job that I had...

It was the summer of 1977, the runway at Loring AFB had just been repaved.  The next thing that had to happen, it needed center lines painted the entire two miles.

I was short (meaning I had less than a month before being discharged from the US Air Force) and they asked for volunteers from our squadron to help.  I thought to myself, this is really unique, how many people get to do something like this, and volunteered for this detail.

They flew in a special paint truck and crew from Wright-Patterson AFB.  It was equipped with numerous special paint guns attached to the back of the truck that could be turned and off at the same time.  It also had a huge tank for the paint.

The paint came in 55-gallon drums and the truck had a huge hose, maybe 5-6 inches wide that would be put into the 55-gallon drums and suck the paint into the container on the truck.

However, there was more to this.  Not only did the lines have to be white, they also had to be reflective.  So, before the paint was sucked into the truck’s paint tank, glass beads had to be added and mixed in. They came in cannisters about 12 inches wide and 6 inches high, filled to the top with little (think about 1/16th of an inch in diameter) glass beads.  So, before the paint got sucked into the truck the glass beads had to be mixed into the paint in each of the 55-gallon drums.

But that’s not all, since they wanted straight beginnings and ends to each of the lines painted and the fact that spray guns could not do that (think trying to paint a straight, crisp line with a can of spray paint), something else had to be done.  This is where we, the ones who volunteered for the detail, came in.   What we had to do, for the entire two miles, was to lay down roofing shingles (yes – roofing shingles!)  at the beginning and end of each of the white lines on the runway.  The surveyors had earlier marked where the beginning and end of each line should be.  All we had to do was lay down shingles and then pick them up after painting.  The paint crew on the truck would start and stop the paint guns on the shingles.  This allowed crisp, straight beginnings and ends to each of the lines on the runway.  We reused the same shingles going down the runway swapping out for new ones when there was too much paint on them.

The one odd thing that I recall in our briefing before we started, we were told the Loring AFB flight line was closed and no planes would be landing.  But we were also told that if we did hear an aircraft coming in for a landing – RUN!!!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

My 24 Minute Pickleball Career

Along the lines of keeping active and being creative in getting in more steps, recently decided to try pickleball.  Pickleball - if it was possible to throw tennis, badminton, and ping-pong into a blender, you might just end up with pickleball.

According to Pickleball 101:What You Need to Know Before Playing, you can get upwards to 6,000 steps in two hours of playing.  That got my attention.  And in addition to that, it can be a great way to meet people and socialize.

My local community center has a F.A.B. (fifty and beyond) program and just happened to offer Beginning Pickleball on Wednesdays from 10:00-12:00.  Signed up and off I went.  Got there a bit early and the guy in charge explained the rules and how the game is played.  One of the things he also mentioned was that "most injuries happen because people play closer to the back line and have to move really fast to hit the ball".  I should have taken his words more seriously.

Around 10:00 three more people showed up and we played a game, my first game of pickleball.  Even though my team lost, I already knew I liked this game.  Two more people showed up and started a game with the team we just lost to.  Being the inexperienced newbie, my teammate said let's go to the other court and volley a bit.  Great, I need all the practice and pointers I can get.  So we're hitting the ball back and forth and not thinking about where was I playing, you guessed it, near the back line.  And just as I was told, the ball was hit way up close to the net and I rapidly accelerated towards the ball and BAM!  The pain in my right calf was extreme!  I did something to the back of my leg and it hurt, significantly.  I could not even walk properly after that and had to stop.  Knowing the irony of this, looked at my watch, it showed 10:24.  24 minutes into my pickleball career, I was sidelined with an injury.

Of course googled everything I could find on this injury and ultimately went to see an MD.  I pulled/strained/tore my achilles tendon where it connects to the gastrodnemius (calf) muscle, bottom-line, sidelined 3-6 weeks for this to heal properly.  Oh well, lesson learned - be sure to warm up, be sure to stretch, and most of all remember that I am no longer 24!  I will continue with the game when this is healed.  Maybe I will use the mantra every time I serve the ball - Not 24 anymore... Not 24 anymore... Not 24 anymore...


Sunday, January 12, 2020

So Many Trees

There are times when I like walking with others and there are times when it is nice to walk alone, totally alone.  Although the Greenway typically has many of people on it, on this cold January day (low 40s, okay, cold for Atlanta) it seemed like I had the whole place to myself.  So peaceful, so quiet.

One of my favorite sections is this one area that has a path in the middle of what seems to be thousands of trees.  Over the years I have seen deer, hawks, owls, vultures, snakes, hundreds of squirrels, and numerous birds.  It's such a great section to walk.

As usual, with my iPhone in my pocket, just wanted to try to capture this in a picture.  Took numerous shots from different angles in the hope of getting a really good one.  As I slipped the phone back into my pocket, standing there, almost perfectly silent heard a very faint, almost undetectable sound behind me.  It got louder and louder...

So I was not the only person there that day.  Once again, could not resist the color contrast, had to reach into my pocket for another shot.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Downtown Atlanta

Getting daily steps in, in retirement, is way different than before retirement.  Gone is the daily workday subway commute with the gym at lunchtime and all the steps that came with it.  The routine was very good for getting a bunch of steps everyday.  The one thing that it lacked was creativity.  Now I can be creative in getting in the daily goal of 15,000 steps.

One of the things that helps me get those steps in is to volunteer.  Recently started volunteering at the Georgia Aquarium.  Not only do I get a bunch steps during a shift, the aquarium, being in downtown Atlanta, allows me to do my old work-life subway commute which means a significant amount of steps.

After a recent shift, walking back to the Marta (subway) station, the color contrast in the picture below caught my eye  - just had to take a pic.

Now I'm curious what the World of Coca-Cola will put here instead of the huge Christmas tree ornaments...