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Riding in a F-14 Tomcat

This is an article written by Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated. He details his experiences when given the chance to fly in the back-seat of an Air Force F-14 Tomcat. Often top ranked U.S. athletes such as John Elway, John Stockton, and Tiger Woods are given this photo opportunity which helps promote both them and the U. S. Navy Air Force.

The U.S. Navy invited me to try it. I was thrilled. I was pumped. My pilot would be Chip (Biff) King of Fighter Squadron 213 at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. Whatever you’re thinking a Top Gun named Biff King looks like, triple it. He’s about six-foot, tan, ice-blue eyes, wavy surfer hair, finger-crippling handshake like the kind of man who wrestles alligators in his leisure time.

Biff King was born to fly. His father, Jack King, was for years the voice of NASA missions. “T-minus 15 seconds and counting.” Remember? Chip would charge neighborhood kids a quarter each to hear his dad.

Biff was to fly me in an F- 14D Tomcat, a ridiculously powerful $60 million weapon. I was worried about getting airsick, so the night before the flight I asked Biff if there were something I should eat the next morning.

“Bananas,” he said.

“For the potassium?” I asked.

“No,” Biff said, “because they taste about the same coming up as they do going down.”

The next morning, out on the tarmac, I had on my flight suit with my name sewn over the left breast. No call sign like Crash or Killer. But, still, very cool. I carried my helmet in the crook of my arm, as Biff had instructed. If ever in my life I had a chance to nail Nicole Kidman, this was it.

A fighter pilot named Psycho gave me a safety briefing and then fastened me into my ejection seat, which, when employed, would “egress” me out of the plane at such a velocity that I would be immediately knocked unconscious.

Just as I was thinking about aborting the flight, the canopy closed over me, and Biff gave the ground crew a thumbs-up. In minutes we were firing nose up at 600 mph.

Those first 20 minutes were the rush of my life. Unfortunately, the ride lasted 60 minutes. It was like being on the roller coaster at Six Flags Over Hell. We did barrel rolls, snap rolls, loops, yanks and banks. We dived, rose and dived again, sometimes with a vertical velocity of 10,000 feet per minute. We chased another F-14, and it chased us.

We broke the speed of sound. Flying at 200 feet above the sea we did 90-degree turns at 550 mph, creating a G force of 6.5, which is to say I felt as if 6.5 times my body weight was smashing against me.

And I egressed the bananas. And I egressed the pizza from the night before. And I egressed a box of Milk Duds from the sixth grade. I went through not one airsick bag, but two.

I thought I used to know “cool.” But now I really know “cool.” Cool are guys like Biff, men with cast-iron stomachs. I wouldn’t go up there again for Derek Jeter’s black book, but I’m glad Biff does every day, and for less a year than a rookie pitching reliever makes in a single game.

A week later Biff called. He said he and the other fighter pilots had the perfect call sign for me. Said he’d send it on a new patch for my flight suit.

What is it? I asked in excitement. Then he gave it to me…

“Two Bags.”

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“Treating People Right”

When Julio Diaz stepped off the New York City subway platform after work one night, he was simply planning to walk over to his favorite local diner for a meal. But when a teenage boy approached him with a knife in his hand, Diaz, a 31-year-old social worker, knew the evening was about to take a more dramatic turn.

The young man demanded Diaz’s wallet, and Diaz passed it over without objection. But just as his mugger turned to walk away, Diaz called after him:

“Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something.”

The mugger turned around, surprised.

“If you’re going to be out on the streets for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”

The teenager looked at Diaz in disbelief and asked why he would do such a thing. Diaz replied,

“!f you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money.”

He then told the young man that he’d just been heading out for dinner and that he would be happy for some company.

“You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help,” Diaz told NPR’s StoryCorps.

The young mugger decided to take Diaz up on his offer, and they headed into Diaz’s favorite local diner together. As they were sitting at the table, the manager, the dishwashers, and the waiters all stopped over to say hello to Diaz, and the young man was really surprised at his popularity.

“You’re even nice to the dishwasher,” he exclaimed.

“Haven’t you been taught that you should be nice to everybody?” Diaz asked him.

“Yea, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way,” the teenager replied.

Thanks to Diaz, he was beginning to see that kindness wasn’t such a strange phenomenon, after all. When the bill came, Diaz told the teen that the teen would have to get the check. After all, he still had Diaz’s wallet.

The teenager slid the wallet back across the table without a moment’s thought, and Diaz treated him to dinner. Diaz then gave the would-be mugger $20. He figured maybe it’ll help him. But, Diaz asked for something in return, the teen’s knife. And he gave it to him.

“I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right,” Diaz said.

“It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.”

~ The author is Michael Garofalo who wrote the story for the Morning Edition of National Public Radio. You can hear the interview between the author and Julio Diaz by clicking here ~

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What Do Women Really Want

Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur’s youth and ideals.

KingArthurSo, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.

The question? What do women really want?

Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch’s proposition to have an answer by year’s end.

He returned to his kingdom and began to… (more…)

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A Room with a View

Two men who were both seriously ill occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. He came to know the window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young couples walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

One morning, the nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse why his deceased roommate had always described such wonderful things outside this window.

She said, “He always knew how much you enjoyed and where encouraged by the beauty outside the window.”

Take a look. What can you do – right now – to put a smile on someone’s face and make them feel a little bit more happy. Will you? Now?

Thank you. The world is now a little bit more loving :-)

~ Author Unknown .. plus a little help from Sandy ~

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Who I am – Makes a Difference

A teacher in New York decided to honor each of her high school seniors for the difference they made in her life. Then she presented each of them with a Blue Ribbon imprinted with gold letters, which read, “Who I Am Makes a Difference.”®

Afterwards, the teacher gave each of the students three more ribbons to acknowledge others, to see what impact it would have in their community. They were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom and report back to the class the following week.

One of the students honored a junior executive in a nearby company for helping him with his career planning. The student gave him a blue ribbon and put it on his shirt just over his heart. Then the boy gave him two extra ribbons, explained their class project on acknowledgment and enlisted the executive’s help.

Later that day the junior executive went into his boss and told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon and would he give him permission to put it on him.

His surprised boss said, “Well, sure.” After placing the ribbon above his boss’ heart, he asked him to support the efforts of the class project and pass on the extra ribbon. That night the grouchy boss went home to his 14-year-old son and sat him down. He said,

“The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me and gave me this blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine. He thinks I’m a creative genius. Then he put this blue ribbon that says ‘Who I Am Makes a Difference’® on my jacket above my heart. Next, he gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor.”

“As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honor with this ribbon and I thought about you, son. I want to honor you.”

“My days are really hectic and when I come home I don’t pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough grades in school or for your bedroom being a mess. But somehow tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life.

“You’re a great kid and I love you!”

The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he couldn’t stop crying. His whole body shook. He walked over to a drawer, pulled out a gun, stared at his father and, through his tears said,

“I was planning on committing suicide tomorrow, Dad, because I didn’t think you loved me. Now I don’t need to.”

When we show love and kindness to another, a wave is created the ripples through many lives.

~ The author is Helice Bridges who in 1983 founded Difference Makers International so that every child would grow up in a safe, supportive, nurturing environment in which they would know that who they are making a difference. Today the “Who I Am Makes A Difference” Blue Ribbon Programs have impacted the lives of over 26 million people throughout the world. To Order Blue Ribbons please call 800-997-8422 or go online to www.blueribbons.org ~

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