Patriot–@PatriotAmazon Series–Is Must Watch TV


Cut the cord.

This @PatriotAmazon tragic-comedy series is amazing. I’ll get to the acting and story soon. The most impressive aspect to me was some of the best, quirky folk music tunes I’ve heard in a long time. The music is Billy Braggish.

The star of Patriot, John (played by Michael Dorman), is an unlucky, very-sad, American spy. To deal with stress, John is compelled to sings stories about his otherwise clandestine activities. I mean you hear awesome songs like, Ducks, Dead Serious Rick, and Charles Gruden. Just the music makes this a must watch show.

The first season story is full of drama and laugh out loud moments as John faces obstacle after obstacle that arise as he strives to finish the mission of keeping nukes out of the hands of Iran. (The whole premise of a nuclear Iran is a farce in the first place.)

John’s cover is an industrial engineer in piping. His cover job is all about piping. Therefore, real and symbolic circles pop up throughout the story tormenting John as he struggles. The interplay between John’s work (his cover), job (as a spy), and dream of just being a singer and husband, make the story of John at once tragic and compellingly hilarious. The cast, including Lost’s Terry O’Quinn (as John’s evil, CIA father), is fantastic.

The final episode leaves John facing a cliff-hanger decision about his life. What will John do in Season2 of Patriot? You know he has to make the horrible choice to continue on in his role as a patriot. I cannot wait to stream this next year.


Jim and Dewgie’s Near Air Medal

It was a dark and clear night in the Mediterranean Sea when my friends suffered a total electrical failure. They were flying an EA6B Prowler in the Spring of 1983. Our squadron was operating off the super carrier, Dwight D. Eisenhower, south of Greece. This was just another routine TACAIR night hop.

The Prowler emergency procedure for total electrical failure said everyone should punch out. But Jim Keresy (the pilot) and Dougie Moore (front seat Naval Flight Officer) didn’t much care for the idea of ejecting, deploying a parachute, landing in the ocean, and avoiding drowning while disconnecting their harnesses from the wet parachutes before the parachutes took them down to watery graves like an old time sea anchor. Nor were they down with the idea of rolling around in a raft, bobbing up and down on the swells of a black sea below, waiting for who knows how many hours (or days) on a rescue copter. Instead, they decided to save the plane. Here’s their story.

When an EA6B has a total electrical failure, you lose everything. You lose your radios so you cannot declare an emergency. You lose your navigation aids like the the tacan, radar, and onboard computer system. Finding your way around without any aids makes navigation difficult. You also lose all of your gauges in the cockpit. The little gauges on the console tell an aircrew important stuff. The fuel gauge tells you how much fuel is left in your plane. How long do you have to fly before you flame out. Your compass tells you what direction your going. That’s nice information when navigating. Your altimeter tells your altitude. Your airspeed tells your speed. Your gyroscope tells your attitude–i.e., whether you are upside down or flying down into the ocean. Each of these gauges individually are important. Losing all of them is a disaster.

That is why the EP tells the crew just eject and let the plane crash.

Luckily, Jim and Dougie still had their eyes and brains and God gave them a clear sky. They could see all the stars and visually maintain proper attitude. The sea can be deceptive about altitude, but they stayed high enough to keep out of danger. The crew could see a long way that night. It was CAVU to the moon. They were high in the sky and saw over the curvature of the earth’s surface. From their height while sweating bullets, they saw a faint glow on the western horizon. Shouting back and forth over the rushing noise of the Prowler’s Pratt and Whitney P408 engines, Jim and Dougie figured out that the glow in the distance was from the volcano on Sicily, Mount Etna, an active volcano. They also knew that the runways at Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella were nearby. They decided to dead reckon their way back to Sig. Somehow, they got the message to naval academy graduate Marc Troiani, who was trying to stay cool in the back seat. They flew on toward the faint reddish glow on the horizon coming from Mount Etna about 400 nautical miles away.

Sure enough, the glowing grew brighter and brighter as they approached the volcano. Jim and Dougie knew they were getting close to a place where they could land when they saw the lights of Catana, the Italian city at the foot of the volcano. Dougie still had to DR his way 25 nautical miles south to the 8,000 foot runway at NAS Sigonella. Their hearts lightened as they realized that the odds of an improbable safe landing were improving .

They were getting close but there were several more complicated problems to solve. The brakes on the Prowler are actuated by an electronic signal from the foot pedal. If Jim successfully landed the Prowler on the short, 8,000 foot Sigonella runway the brakes wouldn’t stop the airplane and it would crash at the end of the runway in a ball of fire. With0ut the luxury of radios, Jim had to communicate to the Sigonella tower that this aircraft needed an emergency arrested landing. Jim flew by the tower and waggled his wings. The tower flashed its lights indicating understanding. Circling above the airfield, Jim and his crew looked down and saw the trucks and ground personnel rigging the arrested landing gear.

Landing landing calculations were needed. The absence of a working fuel gauge meant the crew had guesstamate the weight of the Prowler. Weight was critical. Jim had to bring the Prolwer in slow her down enough to land, but not so slow she would stall and crash. This landing would be complicated further because the flaps and speed brakes were electrical and were unavailable meaning a much higher-speed landing than normal. The Sigonella arresting gear had speed and weight limits too. The crew consulted the airfield divert manual. Reading the tiny text about the Sigonella arresting gear specs in the red glow of his flashlight, Dougie confirmed the maximum safe airspeed and weight to take a trap. He shouted the information to Jim. Now Jim would need to dump tons of fuel to lighten the aircraft. A lighter Prowler could slow enough to engage the gears. But, but, but . . . if the crew dumped too much fuel . . . then the Prowler engines might flame out on approach and it would crash. Dougie calculated the time, distance, speed, wind to reach his best guess at the quantity of fuel remaining onboard. He shouted the additional data to Jim using naval aviator’s hand signals as a back up system of talking. Jim then figured out the dumping rate and calculated how many seconds to actuated the pneumatic fuel dump.

Jim still had to get the landing gear and tailhook down. Normally, the gear and tailhook operate on hydraulics after electrical actuation. But there was no electrical power to send the signal. Fortunately, the Prower is equipped with an emergency pneumatic system to blow down the landing gear and hook. Jim pulled the handle and the gear and hook snapped down. Jim banked into the final turn of the pattern and established the steep landing glide path into the gear. Everyone prayed the fuel would last. Boom. The Prowler slammed down and the crew felt the tug of an engaged tailhook. A perfect Navy landing. The crew’s logbooks kept by the squadron’s Assistant Operations Officer would record one more landing.

My Skipper thought this a heroic effort and put in the paperwork for Jim and Dougie’s air medals. But the Admirals back in Washington were unimpressed. The Navy and Marine Corp don’t issue medals willy-nilly like the Army. No air medals for Jim and Dougie. But they earned respect from their shipmates.

Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy

Ditching Beer and Loving Wine

Last year I went on an anti-grain and anti-gluten kick. Until then, I was a big pale ale enthusiast. Sadly, beer is loaded with gluten and made from grain. So with a tear in my eye, I kicked it and switched to wine.

After a year, I can say I am feeling great health-wise and am completely happy substituting a nice glass of red wine instead of drinking beer. In fact, I look forward to exploring more delightful varietals. The scope of wine is immense.

On that score, my wife, Katrina, and I both love the Costco Kirkland Russian River Valley pinot noir (pictured above). A bottle sells for $12.99. The wine is a smooth, flavorful delight. It is worth the membership in Costco just to periodically stock up on this wine.

I have long been partial to pinot noir grown in the Russian River Valley region. RRV is located in Sonoma County, California, just north of San Francisco. It is rare that a pinot noir from Russian River Valley disappoints me. I recommend this wine. At $12.99, it comes at a great price point too.