Monday, March 16, 2009

Traffic Lights

Something recently reminded me about the traffic lights in Maine. I had had very little experience with traffic lights before being stationed in Bangor. I had spent most of my life up 'til then in the sticks where you had to go to a big town to see traffic lights, at most there were only a few flashing caution lights or a flashing 4 way stop light in the county. When I got to Bangor, ME I saw a traffic signal I had never seen before and very seldom since. I was familiar with the traditional traffic signal with the red, yellow and green lights, but I had never seen one before where both the red and yellow were lit up at the same time in all directions. Turns out that was the walk signal in Maine. In a way it makes sense as all traffic would be stopped when people are crossing the streets and would probably be safer.

That was one of the things I learned when I went to driving school at the Dow Airplane Patch motor pool to get my military driver's license. They covered a lot of things, but the guy teaching the course probably had less driving experience (at the end of Basic Training I remember one guy who had never driven a car getting orders to be driver in the motor pool at K.I.Sawyer) than I did, certainly less winter driving experience as I got into an argument with him about driving on snow and ice. He said that if you go into a skid on snow or ice on a curve, you should apply the brakes. That may be what the book told him, but my experiences had taught me that that was a good way to wind up in the ditch. Which is exactly what I told him. I said you should ease up on the gas and steer into the skid to get the car under control and once you got it straightened out you could gently apply the gas. On the test at the end of the course I answered the questions with the info we were given in the class and passed so I could get my license to drive military vehicles.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Moving The Radio

My roommate got married and moved off-base. He took most of his stuff with him, but one of the things he left to be moved at a later date was an old floor model radio. One day me and another guy decided to bring the radio to where the roommate now lived. The radio was big enough that it wouldn't fit in my car, a '64 Corvair 2dr coupe. The other guy had a Chevy Impala convertible, so we decided to use it to haul the radio. We had trouble trying to get it into the car until we put the top down and then just lifted it up and over into the back seat. If we had laid it down on its side on the back seat, we could have put the top back up. We decided that because we would have to put the top down to remove the radio that we would just leave the top down. In hindsight, putting the top up might have been a good idea as the temperature was about -10 degrees. Anywho, with the heater on high we made the trip to deliver the radio. We got some funny looks from other drivers, especially when we would wave over the top of the windshield. We managed to make the trip without getting frostbite, but the trip back was not so lucky. After consuming a number of beers while warming up (it took a long time, several hours), we headed back to the base. It was a little drunk (a little drunk, maybe a lot) out and doing crazy things like sliding around curves and corners caused us to hit a frozen snowbank. We didn't get stuck in the snowbank, but it caused the radiator to spring a leak. We made it back to the main gate at the base before the car overheated (in below zero weather no less).


After Basic and Tech School, I was stationed at three bases, K.I.Sawyer being the second one. There was a Lifer in the 62nd that had basically spent his entire career with the unit. Other than a couple of tours to 'Nam, he had spent his 26 years with the 62nd. 26 years was one of the magic numbers for retiring from the military because there was a large uptick in retirement pay at the 26 year mark. Anywho, this guy had started with the unit when it was still at O'Hare in Chicago before the 62nd moved up to K.I.