Up in the Air, Depending on Prayer

Herein the author begins by first introducing himself; then describing the adventures encountered after writing a book for his children recounting his Vietnam exploits to the decision to make the whole thing available to the general public as an eBook. Future ramblings will hover (pun intended) around his experiences as a helicopter pilot, while extending out to whatever suits his fancy as time goes by.

Location: Abilene, Kansas, United States

Friday, February 8, 2008


It is now mid-February. What happened to my News Year Resolution to post more frequently, you may ask? Well, I have had a series of severe computer problems. First, my computer refused to let me on the internet, saying I had local access only. This was soon followed by the laptop refusing to perform on wireless (although fine on direct wire hookup). Kaye's desktop worked fine.

Suspecting the ISP was to blame, I contacted them. 'Not their problem' was their answer. Linksys (router) helped in a desultory way, but stated the problem did not lie with them. Gateway also at first refused to consider the problem might lie in the computer.

So, I bought a new back-up hard drive, saved what I could, reformatted the C drive and reinstalled the factory settings. The fool thing still didn't work!

After 2-3 more calls and hours on the line with tech support, Gateway finally announced there was a problem and to send the thing back for repair as the modem for internet hookup was hard-wired into the motherboard.

Off went my computer into never, never land. In the meantime, Kaye began having internet connection problems too. Linksys was consulted again. After considerable checking and attempts to reprogram, they determined my router was bad and offered to replace it, so the router also went into never, never land.

Finally, everything came back, but, of course, all of my software programs now had to be re-installed. This has proven to be interesting, as several of the programs were of the download type. Naturally, I have the unlock codes, but those are now inop since they had been used.

I am slowly contacting various program tech supports, attempting to convince them I really did have a computer problem which wiped out their program and I should be allowed to reinstall the program in question.

Most have been quite helpful. Spyware Doctor, alas, has thus far refused to even answer my telephone and email requests.

So, here I am, back on the internet. www.vietnam-air-rescues.com has continued to work, despite my inablility to monitor it.

New options have arisen, but I will leave them for another day.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Ouch! Last published on Dec 18! Where, O where, have the days gone?

We had a terrific Christmas and New Years. Didn't go anywhere special, just stayed home and enjoyed life. Why, then, you may ask haven't I written in my Blog? That's a good question, one that I do not have an adequate answer for.

I did get a book order from a guy Kenny Fields recommended me to. That order was soon cancelled, though. Turns out the guy didn't realize what an eBook was and wanted only a hard copy.

I have responded to this (2nd) mixup, by placing a statement on the Order Page describing what an eBook is and isn't.

I am on the verge of starting all over and doing the site using a commercial web design tool. If you have read these ramblings from the start, you are aware that what is up at www.vietnam-air-rescues.com right now was cobbled together using Word.

There are some good and some bad repercussions about this. On the good side, I am comfortable in Word and have never used a commercial web design program. On the bad side, I have had some serious problems (some of which continue to this day) attempting to adapt Word documents as web pages.

The obvious answer is to bite the bullet and use a commercial program. Laziness and lack of a program have prevented this so far.

As you are aware, both David and Mark have been lobbying me to get started on this job. Mark favors Dreamweaver, and David feels that Net Objects Fusion would work for me.

I took a look at Dreamweaver and concluded that, although it is a great program, it would take me an exceptionally long time to get to the point where I could do anything with it.

Net Objects Fusion, on the other hand, looks easier to get started with, will do everything I want to do AND offers version 7 (10 is the current version) for free, with an update to version 8 for 15 bucks.

So, I am going with NOF, just have to refocus my attention away from other things and back on the website.

That I pledge to do. No more fooling around, I will knuckle down, learn the program, and restructure the website. Perhaps, it would do some good, as far as sales are concerned. Who knows?

Be sure to tune in again. Will Daring Dave really spend the time reformatting a moribund website? Or will he wimp out again? You will never know unless you come back to visit.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

O Ye of Little Faith

Have you ever let yourself get ‘down’ about something, even when you know it is irrational?

That has been me lately when I have contemplated the status of my website, www.vietnam-air-rescues.com and the sales (or lack of) of my eBook.

I know that these things take time, that I have to search out better ways of publicizing the site, blah, blah, blah, but I had the feeling I was working and writing in a vacuum and worse yet, that no one knew or cared. Crazy huh?

Today God broke up my pity party not once, but twice, by sending me an extremely uplifting statement of support from David and a rash of endorsements/comments/encouragement from Kenny Fields, the last guy I rescued. Thanks, Lord, I needed that!

Reminds me somewhat of Elijah, who allowed himself to get in the same sorry frame of mind when, after defeating the 450 prophets of Baal, he whined to the Lord that he was the only one left who was true to God and God answered him that He (God) had 7,000 others who had never bowed the knee to Baal. So much for self-importance!

Anyway, it is amazing what a little bit of encouragement will do to make the sun shine brighter, so to speak. I guess that is the old ‘glass half full, glass half empty’ syndrome.

Must be a moral in there somewhere about never knowing when a friend or neighbor might need a word of encouragement. (Note to me: Look for opportunities to encourage others.)

So now, I feel rejuvenated and ready to slay the dragons arrayed against me again.

Longfellow put it this way—”Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.”

Ah, but the waiting part is sometimes so hard!

More later


Sunday, December 16, 2007

In From the Cold

Whew! What a week! We got caught in the great Ice Storm of 2007.

Our electricity was iffy for a few days, going in and out. We lost internet connection and then phone lines; finally the electricity went out (at 7 pm. Tuesday) and stayed off.

We toughed it out that night (the low was 14), but the following day was too much, so we began looking at motels. Alas, all were full in our town, but we found a room in a nearby town (30 miles away) by out waiting those who had been smart enough to make reservations.
Finally, at 7 pm, someone failed to show up and we were in! What a blessing.

The next day, with ice and snow everywhere, we returned home to check on the electricity (still out) and managed to get a room in our home town. The following morning (Friday), with the electricity still out at the house, we asked to extend and were notified that others had made long term reservations and we had to give the room up. What to do?

We had hoped that perhaps our homeowners insurance would cover the costs of eating out and living in motels while the utilities were out, but no dice.

So, there we were, no motels anywhere nearby. We discussed driving to somewhere else and staying there until the thing got over, but we were smack dab in the middle of the bad weather, which was all around us for several hundred miles. Even talked about flying to somewhere warm.

Then we had a thought. I am retired military, why not try a base? The closest base was full, due to the weather, but we found another one, 80 miles away. We got a 2-bedroom suite at half the cost we had been paying for a motel room. God is good.

We jumped into our car and headed there, arriving just in front of a new snowstorm. Craig, bless his heart, checked on the electricity situation daily for us. On Sunday, Craig told us he would make another swing by to check, but we called a neighbor and found out that the electricity had come back on late Saturday night.

Then, when we checked our phone messages, we found we had a call from the credit card company. Someone, somewhere, had picked up our card number as we played motel tag and was charging wildly all over—New Jersey, Nebraska, Illinois, the internet.

So, our card is cancelled and we have to fill out an affidavit identifying which charges are ours.

Hearing that the electricity was back on, we jumped back in the car and headed for home. How wonderful to be back in our own 'hacienda'.

While all this was taking place, I had given some thought to those pesky ‘stars’ that kept wandering around on the website. Now that I am back home, I have replaced them with the hyperlinked word ‘more’ and things seem to work better.

BUT I discovered that my buttons at the bottom of the page had gone bad, so I had to replace them as well. All is now back in order. Check out the site—www.vietnam-air-rescues.com.
I still have to figure out how to get the film to run from the main page. Oh well, another project for tomorrow.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Reality Check

The problem with the photos not loading seems to have solved itself. Now all will load; just takes a long time for all of them to appear. I have eliminated the film links and junked the destination pages for them until I can figure out how to get them up.

Lots of very good ideas coming from the boys about how to visually improve the site. Will incorporate most of them; just means I will have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to do it.

Mark, for instance, pointed out that some pages do not have ‘Return to Main Page’ buttons. He thinks that is important. Probably right.

Also, have to figure out how to get ‘tags’ since I am doing this ‘off the cuff’ so to speak.

Egads! Was checking around to be sure all had the ‘Return’ button and discovered that the ‘No’ hyperlink on the ‘Tell a Friend’ page doesn’t work! Which means someone could not order the book unless they were willing to go through the ‘tell a friend’ system. I fixed it.

Also inserted the ‘Return to Main Page’ buttons where missing.

Both sales and visits are tapering off. All who have read the book say they like it, but no new people are buying or recommending it. As mentioned previously, I had hoped the ‘Tell a Friend’ concept would help attract new visitors.

Unfortunately, this is not working out. Very few of the people I gave free unlock codes to reciprocated by recommending the site and none of the folks who actually bought the book have recommended anyone.

What all this translates to is that I have to find some new way to get the site into the public eye (without spending any more money).

Another possibility is that this is as good as it gets—there aren’t any more people who will buy the book. Time will tell.

As you, the reader, can tell, I have now caught up to real time. That means future posts will discuss current current topics, rather than commenting on past issues.

I know that I have inadvertently left out some of the details that might have been interesting due to writing about them after the fact. From now on, I will be current with news about the site, book sales progress, etc.

Also, who knows?, perhaps some tidbits from the past not directly related to the book.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Almost Caught Up

Next problem is what to edit out. The film for rescue #3 can be used mostly intact, but the #8 film has several long sequences of high altitude shots, which were included because it was originally a Commander’s Briefing film on the progress on the Kenny Fields rescue (Rescue #9). I will edit out the title and ending shots, plus the high altitude sequence, which is hard to see and relates to Rescue #9 while the rest of the film is for Rescue #8.

I am also having second thoughts about adding narrative and brightening up the film. Right now I think the film is interesting enough to stand alone, without narrative. I tried brightening up the film (being shot in 1968, and looking out at a bright landscape, much of the interior shots are very dark), but only succeeded in over brightening the portions that are OK.

Of course, if I really knew what I was doing, I could fix that little problem. My solution, at least for now, is to leave the thing alone.

David has expressed his disappointment that I am thinking of posting the film without narrative. Will have to consider that. I would like to just get it up. I can always add narrative later.

Many people have commented on the newspaper article—even got a sale from it. Of course, the newspaper article is courtesy of Kenny Fields, who contacted the newspaper with the idea. Still have not received comments or recommendations from either George Marret or Kenny Fields.

What a disappointment. I had counted on them to liven up the comments page (quotes from published authors) and perhaps get the site into a new ring of people through recommendations. Kenny said he was busy, would get to it later; George was leaving on a trip, would get to it later. Disappointing not to get anything back from them.

Actually, very few people have started the viral ‘tell a friend’ process. It will obviously take longer than I had anticipated to see any results from that.

Norris Marshall (ex-Army Heli Pilot, the one who couldn’t log onto the site), has read the hard copy of the book and given a comment to post. Thanks, Norris. That gives me four to date—Barbara, Clarence, Charles and Norris. Would be nice to have more, but they are slow in coming.

Lots of subtle changes made to the site here and there. Still don’t have the film up. Mark thinks I should drop the film links since they lead to nothing but a note that I will get the film up ASAP. He is probably right. He also pointed out some linkage errors and a better means of explaining the contest. All good ideas and implemented.

More to come...


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Site Strikes Back

Here I am back after a short layoff.

The reason I decided to resurrect the old main page is that I have gotten the idea of adding a hyperlink after each quote, so that viewers can see a little more about what is being referenced.

Problems, problems, problems, but I now know how to do those hyperlinks. I think it makes for a more interesting website. Go to www.vietnam-air-rescues.com and see what you think.

As I am in the middle of revamping everything, David has come up with a terrific idea. I returned from Vietnam with two reels of combat film from my rescues. I had them dubbed on VCR and gave each of the boys a copy. In the ensuing years and the move to Abilene, I lost my copy along with the originals, but David, bless his heart, kept his.

His idea is to convert the VCR to digital format so they can be viewed on the website. What a neat idea! Also, to make things better, he will do the converting for me. What a kid!

As much as I want to fix the film (may add a narration to it; have to adjust the brightness), I am stuck playing nursemaid to these doggone tables and pictures that seem to have a mind of their own.

New suggestion by David—add the quotes to the hyperlinked pages so people remember what they were. A good idea. Now I have to do all the pages again. But, ignore my whining; things are looking whole lot better.

I have decided to add a sample page, table of contents and tell a friend jump link. (so those who are willing to recommend friends can get there without having to plow through several pages.)
Craig’s friend now says he sent the comment to this blog. I can’t find it. Would like to, though. Be nice to have another one to add to the page.

Another friend of mine, says he can’t get the website to load, and wants to borrow the actual book. Don’t know what the problem is, counter says about 500 others have found it OK. So I loaned him the book. He says he will write out a comment for me. Sure hope so.

That 500 number is somewhat misleading, I am sure. I submitted the site to Google and their web crawlers are supposedly checking the site out. Also, I probably accounted for at least 300 (or more) of the visits.

More problems getting the hyperlinks to work. Every time I redo a page, a new problem crops up. Biggest one right now is that the Main Page is rejecting some of the pics. Have to look into that.

I am playing with the film. First step is to separate the two rescues. Originally, they were on two different 16mm reels. I had them converted to VCR, but in the process, they were merged. So, now I have to separate them.

More later,