FAA to Limit Blogging by Air Traffic Controllers

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. Floyd Curtin has been an air traffic controller at Mookie Wilson International Airport here for nearly twenty years, but he is more widely-known as “Rat Dog,” the “screen name” he uses for his blog “Politics, Sports & B.S.,” which he updates daily on blogsprout.com. “It’s a great release from the pressure of my job,” he says, before turning back to his microphone to scream “PULL UP CESSNA N7357H!” at an incoming private plane.

Curtin: “Cool–I just earned a $10 Home Depot Gift Card!”


Curtin and air traffic controllers like him have been identified as a growing threat to aviation safety, since the easy access to computers and the internet that their profession provides distracts them from the split-second decisions they are often forced to make. “Some say that blogging is a threat to aviation safety, but I think most guys are conscientious about it,” says Madison, Wisconsin air traffic controller Jerry Dilba, before turning on his microphone to speak to a commercial flight from Chicago. “Would you mind circling for another half hour or so?” he asks politely, “We’re kind of busy right now.” He gets an “A-OK” from the pilot, then spell checks an article about this Sunday’s Green Bay Packers game before hitting the “publish” button, sending a “post” to the “internet” where it escapes the mundane world of quotation marks.

“Would you mind circling for a while? I’m in the middle of a post.”


Air traffic controllers say they are being unfairly singled out since, as Quad Cities Airport’s Mike Adamlik points out, “every dingbat in America with a computer on his desk is allowed to blog at work–why not us?  Look at this crap here,” he adds, pointing to his screen which shows a post titled “Health Benefits of Smoking Crack in PJ’s Questioned” on a blog called “Gerbil News Network.”  “This guy apparently thinks he’s funny,” he says with a dubious shake of his head.

While there has so far been no mid-air collision caused by a blogging air traffic controller, FAA officials say they are monitoring the situation and may issue a draft rule later this summer. “Blogging can become an obsession at which point it can infreter wthi a person’s jbo pfreformance,” said Deputy Administrator Darrell Collins in an email that he composed while updating his blog, “Extremely Stupid Stuff” on wordsmith.com. “At the sme time, it may be crovered by an cllective brgaining argeement, in which case not much we do about it.”

Your Anatomical Gift Advisor

Since the promulgation of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, the practice of giving–and receiving–bodily organs as gifts has exploded.  I don’t mean the organs have exploded, because most of them have not, thanks to rigorous quality controls.  But the gifting, and in some cases “re-gifting” of organs has raised issues at the forefront of medical ethics, etiquette and shopping.  Here are some of the questions raised by our readers this month.

Uniform Anatomical Gift Act:  It’s spreading like wildfire!


Dear Anatomical Gift Advisor:

This girl whom I will call “Cheryl” because I have always liked that name has been a friend of mine since she and I and another girl named “Lisa” were on the “Zips” pep squad in high school.  Long story short, I need a new kidney and I very delicately approached “Cheryl” to ask if she could donate one, it was for a good cause and all.

AGA, I was floored to hear that Cheryl had already given one of her kidneys to “Lisa” without telling me!  Now she has only one left, and won’t give it up, even to someone who’s stuck by her through thick and thin, like when that guy Duane dumped her right before the junior prom in 1996.

“Let’s see–I’ve got a spleen in taupe, size 40R, from a former PTA president in Muncie.”

I don’t think it is fair or right for somebody to just give up a kidney without publishing it in a local paper, like “I will no longer be responsible for the debts of my husband Jimmy Ray, the no-count loser, after September 30th, 2014.”  What do you think?

Judith Ann Oehrke, Florissant MO.

“A kidney–that is so thoughtful of you, Marianne!”


Dear Judith Ann–

(and my what a lovely name!)  We never know, when we are in high school and working hard on crepe paper floats for homecoming and doing the many things that pep squads do that the damn hotshot football players don’t appreciate and then go out with cheerleaders, who we are going to end up giving a kidney to.  Will it be Judith Marie Swanson, who helped us TP the home of Claude Boul, Jr., who fumbled the game away against Knob Noster?  Or will it be Nordica Newbill, the late-season “diversity” addition the nerdy-looking ACLU lawyers forced on us?  Frankly, not knowing the particulars of your particular pep squad I can’t say, but you should ask if your high school alumni association maintains a donor list.

Anatomical Gift Society Chorus


Dear Anatomical Gift Advisor:

I was recently approached by my friend “Tina” (her real name, but I used quotes anyway to throw people off the scent) to donate a liver to her due to some hard drinking she has done in the wake of her divorce from Kenny “Chip” Whalen, whose dad owns that big truck body company on the west side of town.  Of course I said yes–I have known Tina since we were at Miss Louise’s Kindergarten together, and she broke up with Duane Edmunds so I could date him sophomore year.

Liver-pattern women’s top.  Also available with onions.


Anatomical Gift Advisor, I did a little research at the insistence of Duane, who is now my husband and the father (I’m pretty sure) of our adorable baby girl, Tiffany.  He sent me to Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia that says people only have one liver.  It also says that Christopher Columbus was named after a city in Ohio, so I’m not sure if I trust it.  What do you think?

Sincerely, Marguerite Nostrand, Keokuk, Iowa

“Thanks very much for your liver.  My wife is really going to appreciate her margaritas.”


Dear Marguerite–

I’m afraid on this rare occasion Wikipedia is right–people are generally born with a single liver, unless they are freaks who appear at state fairs with the Blaser Brothers Traveling Amusement Shows.  You have made a commitment to a life-long friend to give her your liver, so I’m afraid you are required by the common principles of etiquette and Robert’s Rules of Order to give it to her, even though it means your certain death.  I hope you survive on life support long enough to appreciate Tina’s thank-you note.


Dear Anatomical Gift Advisor:

Settle a bet for me.  When a guy flying his own plane dies in a crash and you get some of his organs there is no need to test for alcohol because the FAA wouldn’t let him fly if he’d been drinking.  My brother Darrell says you should administer a breathalyzer test just to be sure, but he is a guy who locks his car when he’s just going into the 7-11.  If there is a law or something, fine, but I can’t believe we’ve come to the point in America where you can’t crash your plane and give your organs away without some damn government agency getting in the way.

Furman Muller, Between, Oklahoma


Dear Furman:

I’m sorry but for reasons of purity all anatomical gifts must be passed through the point-of-sale scanner to see if they qualify for any specials or cents-off coupons.  So many “donees” claim mail-in rebates or other financial benefits that the FDA has stepped in to protect unsuspecting check-out girls, yearning to take their cigarette break, who sometimes overlook the formalities of anatomical gift-giving.  You do not say who, as between you and Darrell, was going to get the organs, but if the intended recipient can just “hold his horses” for awhile he or you’ll be better off in the long run.

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Take My Advice, I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

The Porn Star’s Lament

It turns to work, the thing you love,
The humping, bumping all day long.
At minimum wage, or slightly above,
That’s very . . . um . . . hard with just one schlong.

It rubs him raw, your poor old cock,
the ceaseless, boring, in and outing.
You stand in line at the time clock
and find yourself, bereft and doubting.

“Is this all there is,” you finally ask,
“Porking ‘Misti’ or maybe ‘Tiffany’?”
You do your duty and wear the mask
but then one day you have an epiphany.

If you moan and groan for five more years
you’ll have something at last to truly celebrate:
A sweet little wife and an Airstream trailer
to travel around in, completely celibate.

A Day in the Life of a Federal Reserve Cop

          The mission of the law enforcement unit of the Federal Reserve Board is to provide a safe and secure environment for staff and others on Board-designated property, exercising teamwork and extending excellent customer service.

Federal Reserve website


Despite the high-minded goals expressed in the Federal Reserve Police Department’s Mission Statement–which, by the way, it took about a hundred of the hundred and two years the Fed has been in existence for the “Governors” to agree on–the average day of a Fed Cop’s life is a mixture of inflation fightin’ and crime-stoppin’, NOT “extending excellent customer service.”  Jeez it frosts my ass every time I hear somebody say that, like I’m the concierge at a hotel or somethin’.

Boston Federal Reserve Bank:  Skyscraper . . . or washboard?  YOU make the call!


Uh-oh.  Here’s a nasty bit of trouble.  A “junkie” scoring a “dime bag” off his “pusher”–big as life, right here in front of the Federal Reserve Building, affectionately referred to as “The Washboard” but those who know and love it, or hate it as the case may be.  I put all those words in quotes so you’ll know they’re street slang, the way Time magazine used to introduce concerned parents to drug argot like “reefer” and “Mary Jane” and “toke” back in the 60s.

I sidle up to the two miscreants, maintaining my professional cool so I don’t spook them.  I need to see them consummate the transaction in flagrante delicto, as we say around the station when we lapse into Latin, in order to make “the collar.”

“You have the right to price stability and also to a free copy of Regulation Z, ‘Truth-in-Lending.'”


“How much?” the junkie says, and the pusher replies “Whadda ya think?  The standard price for a dime bag is ten bucks.”

The junkie reaches into his pocket to take out his hard-earned cash.  Probably been pickin’ deposit bottles out of trash cans the better part of a day to come up with anything near a sawbuck.  Time for me to make my move . . .

“Hold it right there,” I snap and I see a look of fear in the pusher’s eyes.  Too bad for him, he’s cornered behind one of the convenient security barriers that are strategically positioned to prevent scofflaws from breaking into the building and taking advantage of the subsidized cafeteria within.  (Try the tapioca!)

“You got nothin’ on me copper,” the cornered rat says as he tries to distance himself from the aluminum foil packs of “smack” or “horse” or “The Big H” that he drops on the ground.

“I think this one right here might make a good Exhibit A,” I say, and I take out my handy pocket scale.  “Let’s see how much this bad boy weighs.”  The little needle teeters back and forth like the see-saws of my youth before it lands on 22 milligrams.


“You,” I say to the junkie.  “Take a look at THIS!”

The guy edges over–not sure if I’ve got a “sting” going–but I move to assure him.

“Look, pal,” I say.  “Fighting inflation in the consumer sector is EVERYONE’s business, okay.  I’m may need you to testify that you did NOT get a full 25 milligrams’ worth of controlled substances for your $10.”

The poor guy looks at me like I’m his guardian angel.  “You’re not going to arrest me?”

“Arrest you?” I scoff.  “If I put the cuffs on anybody, it’s gonna be this mook over here,” I say, nodding my head in the direction of the other party to this so-called “victimless” crime.

“I oughta throw the book at you,” I say to the pusher-man, “but I’m gonna let you off with a citation.”  I take my ticket book out of my back pocket, lick the tip of my pencil–and try saying THAT five times fast–and check the little box that says “Contributing to Increase in Personal Consumption Expenditure Price Index.”

“This here’s a warning,” I say, and the guy’s got a look on his face like he narrowly missed getting the maximum penance the priest used to hand out for thinking impure thoughts–a rosary a day for a month.

“So–I’m free to go?” he asks, as if he can’t believe his good fortune.

“There’s just one catch,” I say, narrowing my eyelids the way Sister Mary Joseph Arimathea used to do before she sentenced you to a week’s worth of eraser-banging after school for playin’ pocket pool with yourself.


“What’s that?”

“If you ever do it again, I’m gonna have to write you up in the Federal Reserve ‘Beige Book.'”



Pre-Natal League a Hit With Hockey Moms-to-Be

MEDFORD, Mass.   Peggy and Dave Finnerty admit they’re hockey nuts, having spent countless hours carting their two sons to games at the break of dawn.  “It’s what we love to do,” says Peggy, who sports a Boston Bruins scrunchy around her pony tail as she watches a practice at Anthony LoConte Rink in this blue-collar suburb.

“I’m five, but I’ve been playing for six years.”


Peggy is expecting, and the Finnertys are doing everything they can to make sure their newest child gets a head start in the highly competitive world of youth hockey.  Every Tuesday and Thursday, Peggy straps on her pads and takes to the ice with other pregnant women in what is believed to be the world’s first pre-natal hockey league.

“The contractions are about one shift apart.”


“We figure if we can give our kid an extra nine months of ice time, it will pay off when tryouts for the travel team roll around in a couple of years,” says Dave, who played goalie for Bridgewater-Raynham High School.  “You want to be prepared for those drills where they skate around the little orange traffic cones.”

The parental urge to impart skills to offspring still in the womb began with the “Baby Mozart” movement a few years back.  Researchers claimed that children exposed to classical music during their mothers’ pregnancies had higher IQs than those whose parents listened to heavy metal and hard rock.   Zell Miller, then-governor of Georgia, sponsored legislation to give classical music to every expectant mother in the state, but the program was cancelled when numerous couples exchanged the cassettes for Shania Twain tapes.

Shania Twain and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:  He does spend more time on his hair.


Pediatricians are skeptical that pre-natal hockey does much to produce future Bobby Orrs.  “Hockey requires a high degree of hand-eye coordination that you won’t get just bouncing around in your mother’s amniotic fluid,” said Dr. Pamela Wysbard of Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.  “We discourage women from checking while pregnant, unless you’re in a neutral-zone trap.  There’s too much risk of a penalty, and then the other team gets a power play.”

But Dave Finnerty isn’t buying it.  “Last year our 12-year-old Kyle got to the state finals and we lost in overtime when a kid from Melrose blew by him on a breakaway.  That never woulda happened if he’d been out there with his mom before he was born,” Finnerty claims.

“Deke  him, Kyle!”


And how old was Kyle when he began playing hockey?  “Four,” Finnerty says ruefully.  “He got a late start.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “This Just In–From Gerbil Sports Network.”

Day in the Sun Shadows His Twilight Years

NEW YORK. Mel Sewanicki, Columbia class of ’47, still can’t buy a drink in this town even though it’s been sixty-nine years since he made “The Catch,” a diving grab of a fourth-quarter pass that enabled the Lions to defeat Army, 21-20, ending the Cadets’ 32-game unbeaten streak. It put him in the College Football Hall of Fame along with the pigskin that he clutched to his chest as he hit the cold October turf. The victory is still counted as one of the greatest upsets in college football history.

“Everywhere I go, that’s all people want to talk about,” he says with a smile and a shake of his head. He moved on to a successful career as a banker with four kids and now thirteen grandchildren. “I’ve got a lot to be thankful for,” he says, and it’s clear from the expression on his face that he means it.

As he strides powerfully into Dominic’s Steak House in Manhattan it is par for the course that other men signal their waiters or the bartender that they want to buy Mel a drink, and by the time he reaches his regular table and sits down there are six vodka martinis, two beers and a glass of merlot waiting for him.

“Hello, Adolf,” he says to the waiter who regularly patrols Sewanicki’s corner of the room. “Take care of these in the usual manner, please.” “Yes, Mr. Sewanicki,” the club employee says as he places them on a tray and takes them back to the kitchen, where he will pour them into empty milk cartons and return them to Sewanicki’s table when he finishes lunch.

Sewanicki has a passion for New York’s homeless but he refuses to indulge in euphemisms. “They’re winos, plain and simple,” he says bluntly. “My old man had the same problem–he could never get enough to drink–so I know what they’re going through.”

More drinks arrive as Sewanicki makes his way through a Cobb salad with smoked scallops on top, and with each delivery Adolf appears as if by telepathic command to take the libations back to the kitchen. “I like a glass of wine with lunch,” the ex-football great says, “and a scotch when I get home at night, but that’s it.”

Sewanicki dabs at the corners of his mouth with a cloth napkin as he finishes his meal, and Adolf reappears bearing four gallon jugs filled with a dark brown mixture composed of beer, red wine and hard liquor. “If you served this at one of my grandkids’ parties they’d call it ‘Long Island Iced Tea’, drink too much of it and puke their guts up,” he says with a tone of disapproval in his voice. “But for the guys out on the street who know how to handle it, this can be a life-saver.”

We leave the restaurant and Sewanicki hails a cab. His long arms extended over his 6’4″ frame make him an easy figure to spot, and in half a minute we are sitting in the back seat of a taxi. “Take us down to the Bowery,” Sewanicki barks, the New York neighborhood that has traditionally been the home of the transient, the vagrant, the down-on-their-luck. “We used to call ‘em bums,” Sewanicki says. “Now they’re ‘homeless’,” he says with evident distaste for a feel-good sociological term that he says carries the implication that all a man needs is a roof over his head. “A man is more than flesh and blood,” Sewanicki says with almost religious fervor. “He’s got a soul, too.”

We stop at a red light and one of the neighborhood’s “squeegee” men comes up to the car to wipe the windshield, hoping to cadge some change out of us. Sewanicki rolls down his window. “Here you go, buddy-try some of this!”

The ex-football great takes a plastic cup from a bag and pours out a slug of the brownish liquor mix that resembles the water in the East River.

“What is it?” the hobo says. “Diet Coke?”

“Name your poison and it’s in there,” Sewanicki says with a sympathetic smile. “Whatever they want you to remember, it’ll help you forget.”

The man takes a sniff and, after the alcohol fumes hit his olfactory cells, begins to drink.

“Ah,” he says after taking a long pull. “God bless you, sir.”

“Don’t mention it,” Sewanicki says. “Let me pour you another–I’ve got to make my rounds.”

He refills the man’s cup and the grizzled denizen of the streets accepts it with gratitude. “Take it easy, partner,” Sewanicki says as we drive off.

“I’ll be here tomorrow, too!” the man yells after us.

Sewanicki instructs the driver to slow down as we roll through the dark streets where hope returns only rarely, like a prodigal son with a maxed-out credit card. “You see those guys sitting over against that building? They’ll probably spend the rest of their lives within a block or two of here. Think of that.”

I do as instructed while Sewanicki tells the driver to stop and he opens his door. I follow him, party cups in hand.

“How we doin’ today, guys?” the aging athlete calls out as he approaches three men sleeping under an arch. One looks up warily and starts to scramble away before Sewanicki reassures him. “No need to get up,” he says, “my partner here’s got the cups.”

“Oh-good. I thought you was the cops.”

“No–just a humble little mission of mercy.” I again hold out cups as Sewanicki fills them up. The men each shiver a bit as their first sip goes down; one polishes off the remainder in a single gulp. “That’s the spirit,” Sewanicki says, then reaches into his pocket. “Here, I forgot,” he says. “I’ve got some beer nuts.”

“Thanks, man. I haven’t eaten for days,” one of the men says.

“Then you better take it easy–go slow at first,” Sewanicki says. “You want to lay down a good foundation of liquor. Otherwise, it’ll come right back up.”

“Okay-thanks for the tip,” the man says. We leave them with one of our four jugs–”They need it,” Sewanicki declares–and climb back in the cab.

How exactly did you come to adopt this particular mission as your life’s work, I ask Sewanicki as he scans the streets for more mouths to fill.

“Well, I got so tired of people buying me drinks, knowing it was just going to be poured down the drain. I’d say to myself–there’s people going to bed sober all over this city tonight, and you can’t finish half the booze that people put in front of you.” The lessons of his hardscrabble youth have stuck with him. “‘Waste not, want not’, mom used to say,” he says with a audible lump in his throat. “I had to eat what was put in front of me, even if it meant I missed The Lone Ranger” in the early days of television.

That thought–the waste of precious alcohol and the potentially harmful effect it was having on oysters and other shellfish in the Hudson River watershed–persuaded Sewanicki to take the unpopular step of seeing to it that no man goes without a nightly drink in lower Manhattan. “Not on my watch,” he says with unmistakable seriousness.

We turn a corner and Sewanicki sees something that causes him to lean forward in his seat. What is it, I ask?

“The enemy,” he says. Two women and one man dressed in practical clothes make their way deliberately down the street, looking for “homeless” men they can persuade to give up lives of freedom on the street in exchange for food and shelter. “Do-gooders,” he says with undisguised contempt.

He rolls down his window and, as we pull even with the three, lets go with a shout.

“Hey–why don’t you leave them in peace,” he yells.

The three–not social workers, as it turns out, but N.Y.U. students doing field research for an advanced sociology lab–turn with looks of surprise on their faces.

“Yeah, you,” Sewanicki continues. “Do you think those guys want to go back to living with people like you watching them all the time?”

“Well–yeah,” the male says hesitantly, his world-view suddenly called into question.

“Gimme a break,” Sewanicki continues. “They’ve spent their whole lives running away from milquetoasts and school marms. They haven’t got much longer to live-let them drink themselves into oblivion if they want.”

The three are quiet for a moment, as they consider the public policy and philosophical aspects of what they are being asked to do.

“You mean–do nothing?”

“Right–just . . . go . . . away.”

The three look at each other, then the male looks at his watch. “There’s a 2-for-1 Bud Light special at McSweeney’s in the Village tonight,” he says to the women. “You guys up for it?”

“I’ve got a mid-term in Stochastic Variables in Quantitative Research,” the woman begins, but Sewanicki cuts her off.

“Listen sweetheart,” he says. “Once you get a job you’ll never touch another stochastic variable in your life. Believe me–I worked for four decades, and the only thing I needed to remember from college was one lousy football play.”

“Is that so?” the male student asks.


“In that case,” he says to the women, “let’s party!”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “The Spirit of Giving.”