Thursday, September 24, 2015

Angels in Blue

NOT the crummy photo I shot from 41Mike!

When I was a young child I wanted to fly jets for the Navy. I was completely infatuated with Naval Aviation. Back then, the plane to fly was the F-4 (workhorse of Vietnam), but Corsairs, Sabers (actually, I think those were only Air Force), and pretty much anything else that burned kerosene and made loud noise would catch my attention.

My brother, friends and I would "fly" on the swing set, as high as we could go in attempts to "loop" just like dog fighters, and we would make jet kind of noises, and "radio" calls to one another.

And of course then the F-14, Tom Cruise and Top Gun came out. I think I watched that movie a hundred times.

But the creme-de-la-creme was, of course, the Blue Angels - gawd did I want to be one of them, in their flight suits, steely reflective helmet shields, and deep blue F-18s. I would fantasize about huge, diamond formation loops trailed with smoke a mile into the sky, and blasting past the stands just a couple hundred feet off the runway, inverted of course.

Those dreams were dashed though when I learned that imperfect vision was a dis-qualifier. Imperfect vision ... hell, I wore Coke-bottle glasses as a kid (which were supplanted by contact lenses when I discovered girls, and eventually radial keratotomy).

Still, when the Blue Angels are in town, I get excited like a 10 year old - every single time.

This weekend they're the headliner at the Point Mugu Naval Airshow at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu.

I rarely actually go to the air show any more because I can see much of the show from my house just a few miles away. And I've been spoiled - when my boy was in high school, his best friend's father was Commander of the base so we got to sit in the VIP section, right in front of the action, with food and beer galore.

But that special treat got trumped yesterday upon my return flight from visiting Mom.

As I was descending into Oxnard, Point Mugu Approached advised another aircraft in the area about a Blue Angels arrival. I assumed the aircraft was approaching the Naval base airfield.

Then lo and behold, off to my left as I passed through 3,000 feet, there they were! Diamond formation of six ships, smoke trailing, leveling off after a loop! I got the best seat in the house in Forty One Mike!

I fumbled for my phone camera and took a crummy shot - trying to see what I was shooting on the LCD screen of the phone with sun in my eyes, sunglasses on, and hand flying the approach ...

Mugu Approach called me up just as I took that crummy photo to advise of the Blue Angels presence off my 11 o'clock and that the ships would be breaking right to enter the Mugu pattern.

"In sight," was all I could muster over the radio - I was so excited. I really wanted to yell, "You're Damn Right they're in sight, Yahoo!"

Honestly, I don't really know why the Blue Angels get me so excited - I've seen them dozens of times. They've flown the exact same routine for years. I would say that the new perspective from 3,000 feet was it, but I feel the same excitement every time on the ground regardless of where I am.

Workers' compensation has a weird hold on me too - after more than 30 years one would think this would get routine and boring. But every day holds a new surprise.

For instance, the Missouri Court of Appeals this week ruled in Kolar v. First Student that a morbidly obese bus driver was entitled to benefits for an injury to his left leg that was caused by his uneven distribution of his substantial weight after he suffered an industrial injury to his right leg.

The court ruled the claimant was entitled to have that award enhanced by 12.5% to reflect the cumulative impact of his disabilities.

This might not seem to be a big deal, but the Kolar case is the first published case to address whether the "multiplicity factor" for cumulative disabilities survived the 2005 legislative reform that did away with liberal construction of the Missouri Workers' Compensation Act.

Missouri workers' compensation judges have historically had discretion to award a worker with multiple injuries compensation above the sum owed for each of his individual disabilities, if there is evidence that the combination of those disabilities exceeds the sum owed for the disabilities individually. The extent to which the award is enhanced is known as the "multiplicity factor."

Since there is no provision for such an enhancement within the text of the Workers' Compensation Act itself, attorneys in the state have been saying that strict construction of the act's provisions would not allow workers to have a "multiplicity factor" included in their awards of benefits.

They were wrong - at least for the moment. The court said that since the Legislature did not expressly terminate the use of "multiplicity factors" then they must have intended to keep that practice.

Missouri observed their work comp law fly a huge, mile high, diamond formation loop - and then break right to enter the landing pattern.

Some things change, some things stay the same - it's all thrilling to me.

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