November 19, 2004



Well, here is the book!

But before you sell your children for medical experiments to stock up on some winter reading, please read these caveats:

I'm going through PayPal until about December 7th in order to make sure that Christmas orders will be filled on time. After that, it will be available at Ingram, then Barnes & Noble a week later, and finally Amazon two weeks after that.

The PayPal Shopping cart is...uh...tempermental.

When you click on the "Click here to buy SILENT AMERICA" button below, you will go to a shopping cart. Be sure to enter the correct quantity in the left hand box, and enter UPDATE CART so that you are not charged for more than one. (It reads old PayPal cookies, so please be sure the number you want is correct.)

You DO NOT have to have a PayPal account to buy the book with a Credit Card. However, make sure you pull down the correct card type when you get to the credit card screen, or you won't get the V-Code (3-digit) field -- and you can't go on without it. You'll be stuck there forever and never come visit me again. (Thanks PayPal!)

Finally, for some reason, the Eject! Eject! Eject! banner is not loading correctly on the first page, but does GREAT on all subsequent pages. Why? I don't know. PayPal customer support doesn't know either. The tech people will be in on Monday.

With all that said, it's not all that hard! I just don't want any troubles with this early start.

The last thing I need to advise you of is that once you complete your order, your name will be entered in the print que. I get the proof on Tuesday, and orders should start printing on the following Monday. Shipping is 5 day UPS ground.

Also -- very important -- THIS PAYPAL PRESALE CANNOT SHIP TO P.O.BOXES! (If you have already ordered with a P.O.Box, I will e-mail you to see whether to arrange a shipping address or a refund.) (Refund?! REFUND!!??)

All of these hiccups will go away once the book becomes available with online booksellers, probably end of the first week in December.

And for all of you too-kind people who have asked for autographed copies, I blame you for me not being able to fly any more, since the weight of my head now exceeds that of the capacity of all but the largest cargo planes. We will be doing signed hardcopies, but that is several weeks downstream.

With all of this nonsense out of the way, I now declare these Games officially opened!

Posted by Proteus at 11:42 PM | Comments (102)

November 18, 2004


SILENT AMERICA: Essays from a democracy at war is now at the printer. I should have a proof in my hands by Friday or Monday.

My buddy Buster O' Connor, back in good old Hogtown, did the cover and I JUST LOVE IT. I love it.

The 6x9 paperback came to a mere 232 pages; each volume must be delivered by forklift. I plan to send this softcover out to a few well-known folks, and with luck, I'll be able to get one of them to write an introduction, which I will then put in a commemorative hardcover, along with some biographical notes and other goodies. But right now I'm completely focused on getting out a paperback for the stocking stuffers.

Now, looks like PayPal purchases can start as soon as this weekend or very early next week. It should be available on Ingram and Barnes and Noble by December 6th, but won't get to Amazon until the end of December. Paypal copies will ship within 2-4 days of the order being received, and there will be priority shipping if you so desire. The price is $29.95, and then whatever shipping options you choose. It will all be finalized in the next day or so.

Also, it's been almost two years now, so I'll introduce the book with some minor site upgrades: New banner and buttons; that kind of thing.

So within a few days, you can order via PayPal, and perhaps a week after that, through Barnes and Noble and Ingram online, once they get up to speed.

I am so overwhelmed and excited. I really can't believe it. The worst part is not having a CLUE how many of these I will sell.

And when this is out of the way, we start with the book I've been wanting to do for a year now: a citizenship book, one that's more timeless and universal, less about Republicans and Democrats and Liberals and Conservatives -- and especially, less about Iraq -- and more about the values and perspectives a good citizen needs for the 21st century if we are to hand this proud country on to the next generation in better shape than we found it.

So that's coming as soon as I get this long-overdue baby out the door... which looks like days, if not hours from now.

What took me so damn long?

[UPDATE: I originally had planned to sell the book for $23.95. I just received the final printing costs and I am sorry to say I have had to raise the price to $29.95, which will include the handling fee (whereas the earlier price did not). There will be several shipping options available and I will have those prices on the shopping cart.

The price increase is mostly due to the book being a whole lot longer than I originally I said above, 232 pages is almost a book and a half.

I now think that I will apply my astute business sense and raise the price again, this time to $49,995.50. I realize I will lose some volume, but then again, I don't have to sell nearly as many. And I would point out, that comes to less than $50,000 per book. I'd even eat the shipping, but that's because I am such a generous and noble fellow.

In any event, it will all remain online, for free -- as will all the new stuff. Hope to start taking orders in a day or two, with books being printed by the end of next week.]

Posted by Proteus at 12:27 AM | Comments (58)

November 7, 2004



It's been a busy week for Your's Truly. While it took me a little longer than I had initially hoped, I took my Instrument checkride on Saturday.

Passed it.

Earlier, when I had gotten my results on the written test, I went through a 24 hour period where I was so depressed and angry I wanted to jab #2 pencils into my eyes. As the guy at the testing center was printing out the result, he started smiling big and shook my hand.

'Congratulations! You passed! Excellent score!'

I couldn't read it from where I was standing. 'How many did I miss?'

'Only two! You got a 97%! That's one of the best---'

'Two? TWO?!! Jesus H. Chr---!"

'What's the matter? You've gone pale as a ghost! I said you passed!'

'Two wrong? TWO?? Son of a bitch! Goddam it!! Worthless sack of ' ' and so on. I wanted that 100 so bad. So bad. So very, very bad. Verrrry bad. Very, very bad. Real bad.

Anyway. Now I can fly from coast to coast and not see anything. It's really weird. Several times during training I'd fly to the Mojave, or to San Luis Obispo. I'd get out of the plane after landing, look around, and have no sense of having come here at all. Just gauges and dials and radials and vectors and assigned altitudes. Was in Santa Monica; now I'm in the desert. Never saw it change from one to the other. Very odd.

Just before my checkride, I took off into what I thought would be a typical thin marine layer. No such luck. Level at 4,000, you couldn't see the wingtip ' no exaggeration. So I look down and notice that my vacuum-driven attitude indicator ' I'm wearing AI goggles in the picture ' indicates a turn to the left, while my electrically driven Turn Coordinator shows a slight bank to the right.

That is an unpleasant feeling.

One of them is lying. Which one? Compass and vacuum driven directional gyro both showing a turn to the right. That agrees with the turn coordinator. The AI ' my primary flight instrument ' has failed, but the vacuum system doesn't seem to be the culprit since the DG ' also vacuum driven ' seems to be working fine. So now I have to use the altimeter to tell me when I'm climbing or descending.

First thing to do is cover the dead AI. It's right in front of my face and it's lying to me. I stick a failed instrument cover over it.

So there I was: surrounded by Bengal tigers'I mean'there I was, 4,000, somewhere over the Santa Monica foothills, can't see the wingtip, partial panel. It's one of those times ' I've had three or four now ' where you can feel that panic starting to squeal like a monkey trying to tear its way out of a paper bag. And you just have to beat it down through sheer will.

I turn to my flight instructor. He looks at me, smiles that sick, twisted, repulsive little smirk that Flight Instructors are trained to make.

'Bummer!' he says.

So I re-trim the airplane, and then, out of the blue, he gives me the best piece of advice I have ever gotten in my flight training. Ever. This will save my life innumerable times in the years to come, because I tried it, and damn, does it work!

I looked over at him. He said,

Bill? Kick it's ass!


That's all I needed to hear!

So I did! I kicked its ass!

Socal Approach, Cherokee Two Five Three Foxtrot Delta. We just lost our attitude indicator; we can continue the Burbank ILS.

I mean, we have to, don't we? They're not going to send up a helicopter and get us out by ladder. We've got to land this thing somehow.

Cherokee Three Fox Delta, roger.

Vectors for final, flew a perfect approach. About 1300 feet above our decision height, I could look straight down and see a little tiny oval of houses and streets. Thirty seconds later, we were below the layer, and there, about six miles ahead, I could see the approach lights to Runway 8 at Burbank ' not a little off to one side, not slightly off to the other' just a straight line of approach strobes ' the 'Rabbit' ' pointing straight smack down the runway centerline, which was to the right of me but to the left of the co-pilot.

I never thought I'd feel that good again ever in my life. Then came the election.

Anyway, I have read and done some minor tweaking to the essays. They are now ready to go to the publisher. The cover art will be ready in a few days. It will take about two weeks to get the book set up and a proof out, and then we are in business. Books should ship within 48 hours of getting the order.

I think I can assure you we will make Christmas. Price will be high for a run this small: about that of a printer cartridge. Pay me or pay Epson. Your choice. The essays will remain on the site for free, as they have been, and as all the new stuff coming will remain.

Home stretch now. Stocking stuffers coming your way. Papa needs a new pair of wings.

Posted by Proteus at 11:01 PM | Comments (62)

November 3, 2004



It's Bush. Thank God, it's Bush.

There is so much to do. Not in Iran, or Iraq, or even in Washington.

We have four years to remake our society; four years to reclaim our media, our entertainment industry, our universities and our children.

Most importantly, we have four years to regain some control over who guards information.

This weblog is about to explode. You have no idea what is coming. No idea!

Thank you for allowing me to be a small voice in this great moment in history. Thank you for coming here. Thank you for listening to me, and thank you for your words of kindness and support that have elevated me to become the man I always hoped I could be.

Now we fight like we're ten points down with 2 minutes on the clock!

It will be difficult. But we can do difficult things!

Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
John F. Kennedy

Posted by Proteus at 12:08 AM | Comments (214)