I went to Air Command and Staff College — something I called "Colonel Charm School" — from 1991 to 1992 and was tasked with giving a speech every two weeks for a year. This didn't bother me, other than the fact we had to do this while being graded by someone with not much more public speaking experience than I had. One of the people judging one of my groups insisted that every speech begin with a joke. So began my collection of jokes.
But it gets even worse. I got in trouble for one of the jokes and had to apologize. So I'll relate that joke and all those that I've collected (that are clean) since. What's this got to do with aviation? You need to have a sense of humor to defy gravity.
The speech I was assigned to give as about early musket warfare. My speech was needed to impart three main points to the class and I would be graded on how well I did that. Those three main points were: (1) muskets had limited range, (2) muskets took a long time to reload, and (3) muskets had poor accuracy. The audience was composed of mostly U.S. Air Force, but a quarter of the class came from the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines. Another quarter were from the militaries of allied nations. Needless to say, a good portion of the audience was far more knowledgeable than me about such things. To make matters worse, my speech was scheduled for the dreaded 1300 slot, right after lunch.
At the appointed hour, I took the stage in front of a projected screen with my name and the title "The History of Musket Warfare." The audience appeared to be bored beyond tears before I even began. I strolled the stage once for that dramatic effect I thought necessary back in those days. The audience could tell I was an Air Force pilot from my blue uniform and the wings pinned to my chest. Their expectations could not have been any lower.
"Musket warfare had its beginnings in the eighteenth century, of course. Most notably, to many of us, was the American Revolutionary War. But it truly came of age a few years later during the War of the Pyrenees."
"The opening battle was to take place on the French Alps between the French to the north and the Italians to the South."
Of course this wasn't true, the war was France versus Spain and Portugal. But I needed to involved Italy.
"The troops amassed on the mountain tops. It was a clear day and the adversaries could see each other clearly. Both sides new the battle to come would be waged in the valley. Their muskets were no good at this range."
Point one made, two to go.
"The battle would be fought at close range and would scarcely give each side the chance for more than one shot per musket. These weapons took a while to load and by the time they could load the second shot, the other side would be on top of them with sabers and bayonets."
Point two made, one to go.
"It was going to get bloody, to be sure. Each combatant would have to get within just a few meters for their shots to count."
All three points made, time to finish the story.
"So the French general calls over to his aide," I said. "Pierre," I continued in my best faux French accent, "Bring me my red blazer."
The audience was paying attention now. Here was an Air Force major on stage actually attempting a lesson-relevant joke.
"The aide returns with the blazer and says, 'Mon generale, here is your red blazer. But why red? It shall be too easy to spot in battle.' The general struck a magnificent pose, looked over the valley and said, 'Pierre, if I am shot on the fields of valor, the troops, the shall not see me bleed.'"
The room was eerily quiet, all eyes turned my way and everyone waiting for my next lines.
"None of this was lost on the Italian general," I finished, "who called over to his aide. 'Hey Luigi, fetch me my brown trousers!'"
There was uproarious laughter, I got a "firewalled" grade report and congratulations from all quarters. For about a week. Then I found out an Italian judge advocate officer filed a complaint and I was asked to apologize. I did so.
I got to face my accuser who said he wasn't so much offended personally, as he was offended on behalf of anyone who could have been offended. I asked him if humor was no longer permitted. He said I could make jokes about occupations (pilots versus navigators, for example) or sexual orientation. This was 1991 and that kind of thing was still permitted. At that point I had a database of over a thousand jokes, of which about half would be forever retired.
Crew, attention to the takeoff briefing.
This will be a rolling, TRT, military reject, unless we get airborne, in which case we'll declare an emergency and start the "main gear failure to retract" checklist.
In case anyone does NOT see a safety of flight malfunction prior to reaching "go" speed, shout "GO-GO-GO" loudly and enthusiastically, and jump seat, you get on the radio and cancel the redball for jackstands.
In the likely event we have to abort the takeoff, we'll stop straight ahead on the runway, egress the aircraft, and meet 200 feet off the nose, where the copilot will enlist the help of the U. S. Census Bureau to locate and count off the members of the crew, and possibly the passengers if they have any time left.
Copilot, before raising the gear or actuating any switch or control, ensure that TACC has been informed of our intentions and concurs with all intended actions. Flying time on this leg will be 5 hours with the gear up, or 8 hours with the gear stuck down.
If the destination weather goes below VFR, we'll divert because AMC crews aren't allowed to fly the NDB approach everyone else is flying there. The forecast does call for severe clear icing on the climb out, but the airman forecasting at the weather hub over a thousand miles away at Scott says not to worry because the hail will probably knock the ice off the wings anyway.
We'd plan on flying the same SID all the major airlines are using for departure, but we didn't have two weeks advance notice to have the AMC TERPS guys review it for us and get two-star approval to fly it. Instead we'll get radar vectors that mirror the same SID we're not allowed to fly, and depart with an enhanced sense of safety. If there are no questions, that concludes the brief."
One afternoon at Cheers, Cliff Clavin was explaining the 'Buffalo Theory' to his buddy Norm. 'Well ya see, Norm, it's like this... A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers.'
A duck walks into a hardware store, one of the old fashioned "Mom and Pop" stores that carries a wide selection but not a lot of stock. They have one cash register and behind it is the owner of the store. The duck waddles up to the counter and says, "Do you have any grapes?"
The owner looks down on the duck and says, "No, this is a hardware store. We don't sell grapes." The duck waddles out.
The next day the same duck waddles back up and behind the counter is the same guy, the owner. The duck says, "Do you have any grapes?"
"I told you yesterday," the owner says. "This is a hardware store, we don't sell grapes!"
The next day, the third day if you are counting, the duck waddles in . . . well, you get the idea. The duck waddles out.
The fourth day, the duck waddles in and asks, "Do you have any grapes?"
The owner looks down on the duck and explodes. "Listen you duck," he says, "I've been telling you all week that this is a hardware store and we don't sell grapes. If you come in here one more time, I'm going to staple those webbed feet of yours right to the floor!"
The duck waddled out. The next day the duck waddles back in. The owner looks down from his counter, his face starting to contort in anger. The duck says, "Do you have any staples?"
The owner starts to speak and then stops. He blushes a little. "Well, actually we are fresh out."
The duck looks at him and says, "Do you have any grapes?"
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