Clean Up Day …Floral Friday

The Spring cleaning has merged into Summer cleaning regarding the collectables that have accumulated around the house.   There were a few that have remained semi-permanent displays.  The kind of decoration that you overlook, but you’d notice if it went missing.  I decided it was time to clean them up and make them noticeable once again.

The first one to recapture my attention is a black 19-inches tall Royal Haeger 408 Ewer Vase. Even though this large piece is being used as part of a room divider, the dried, tall jungle grass looked cliche’ and rundown.  Here was an excuse to use a couple of very large faux tropical flowers that had been in storage for a couple of years.  I used window cleaner on the vase then carefully placed the floral elements inside. There was no more of the humdrum handful of stems and sticks in vases, non-idea, that we see in countless home interior magazine photos.


The pair of fighting roosters wallpockets are actually in front of me several times each day.  They hang over the kitchen sink.  I see them, but rarely really study their forms.  I did happen to notice, this week, that they had some water spots. The flowers and feathers had become haggard and out of place. Everything was soaked in soapy water, except the feathers and pussy willows, which were replaced. The entire look was recreated to as close as my original from a few years ago.


Finally, a very old wallpocket over the refrigerator needed some pizzaz.  Again, this one had been in place for a few years and I wanted to keep it there.  The roses and fill flowers looked tired and worn out, so I tossed them.  The vase got a careful wash and dry treatment.  Small flowers seemed to be the right elements to carry through the rustic theme of the appliqués on the front of the wallpocket.

These were satisfying projects in that I have the vases where I want them and they have a cleaner and fresh appearance once again.

mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness likes this saying from David Sedaris: “The combination of ammonia and chloride can be lethal but I’ve discovered it can work miracles as long as you keep telling yourself, “I want to love, I want to live””

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I witnessed dad’s demeanor metamorphose dramatically during my visit to the nursing home the other day.  He has been quite passive and overly cautious ever since his fall in November.

Dad decided to sell his old power garden tiller, in an effort to downsize his belongings.  A man, about my age, wanted to purchase the implement.  I soon found out that dad used to be his work supervisor. Dad became much more energetic and assertion-01demanding.  He was more like his old self. His old heavy-handedness had returned.

When the former employee entered dad’s room, the role-playing relationship, between the two, resumed.  Dad took the initiative of introducing the man to me.  There was some amount of small-talk, then dad presented the minor business transaction.  I was pleased to watch the price negotiation happen without any dithering on dad’s part.

Dad wanted to make sure the tiller’s operating manual went along with the employee so, dad insisted that we all go to dad’s house to pick it up.  It was almost amusing to see dad exert himself and attempt to get out of his chair alone. He was a man on a mission.  Dad was the boss, again.  He was in charge for the next half-an-hour.

Almost as soon as the employee had loaded the machine into his pickup truck and drove away, dad once again resorted to his prior passivity.  Seating him in my car was once again laborious and slow.  By the time the ol’ Camry was underway, dad was back in nursing home mode.

I’ve been pondering dad’s temporary burst of confidence and self-assertiveness all of this week.  I wonder what it has been like for him to live so passively after harboring a life-long overbearing attitude.  I also wondered why there seems to be no happy medium between the passive and active for him.  It was interesting to watch dad’s determination, and self-discipline return, albeit for less than an hour.  I also wonder if he was fully aware of his change in behavior.

Sometimes, we feel like we have little actual control over our lives.  Perhaps some of us have lost the power or skill to counter the opposing forces in our lives.  We feel that we’re at the mercy of powers greater than us.  Some of us feel like we’re being dragged through situations that fate has brought our way.


There are times we find ourselves at the beck and call of other people. We’re working for the benefit of other people’s agendas and goals, not our own.  We fall prey to the designs of political, religious, and commercial designs upon us and our energies.  We feel the tug to gain more control over our lives and not allow other people to significantly have their way over us.  We want to be active agents in our own lives. We want to be the directors of our own life dramas.

Have you noticed that many of us seem passive or somewhat indifferent to the World around us until a project or plan comes to mind?  Indecisivness and passivity disappear, in favor of a sense of mission and action.  We find a reserve of strength to help us withstand the rigours of what is needed to bring the task to completion.  This is when we need to take control and then we do so. assertion-02

We might notice the need to assert ourselves and be forthright.  One’s self-confidence increases and we more skillfully express our own wants and needs so we have a better chance of getting our own way.  This is when we find faith in ourselves and understand who we are and what we stand for. The assertion goes beyond that found within beliefs and belief systems.  It’s much more primal and powerful.

Some of us mistake assertion for aggressiveness and vice versa.  Assertion comes forward once we have come to terms with our own aggressive urges.  Just like sexuality or any other primary survival mechanism, aggression cannot be suppressed.  The destructive form of aggression can be creatively channeled so that it doesn’t devolve into mental and physical illness.  We can see assertiveness when a person has taken control of any impulses towards anger and aggression.  We need to let others know who is boss, who controls the situation, and who is also in control of oneself.  Dad’s behavior, the other day, is a good example of this.

An assertive demeanor cannot be forced.  Attempts at doing so will be seen as phony and desperate.  Assertive behavior is carefully cultivated along with other positive virtues like compassion, mercy, and acceptance.  Unlike brute-force aggression, assertiveness brings out our appreciation of the struggle.

Assertiveness is a celebration of the positive, active forces in our lives.  Assertiveness is a learned skill.

mini-meThe Blue Jay of Happiness remembers the advice about riding loose in the saddle. The cowboy is simultaneously in control but relaxed.

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Happy Hot Dog Day

I realize that National Junk Food Day was celebrated the day before yesterday, so I briefly wondered whether or not to write a backgrounder on National Hot Dog Day. Since it’s Summer in the Northern Hemisphere, I decided another light topic was OK.  Since, people eat a lot of these things during the hot months, why not highlight hot dog day?hotdog-promo

I also love to delve into controversies, so why not spice today’s commemoration with just a touch of contentious content, both in the food and the blog post.  The stories about the origin of this humble foodstuff have been questioned, but they’re colorful enough to pass along again.

We find that some packages of hot dogs are labeled “franks” or “frankfurters”.  This name is derived from the name of the German city, Frankfurt am Main, where the sausages reputedly were invented.  Since the 1200s, Frankfurter Würstchen, were eaten by inhabitants of the town, Frankfurters, during royal coronations.

Some packages are labeled “wieners”.  This moniker relates to the Austrian city, Vienna.  The name in German is Wien. The inhabitants of Wien, Wieners, have long enjoyed a sausage made of a mixture of beef and pork.


Reportedly, a German immigrant, Charles Feltman began selling the little sausages in New York and on Coney Island. He is reputedly the first seller to place the sausages in long rolls to be eaten as finger food. Soon, other German immigrants were selling the sausages from pushcarts in New York City.

The wieners were nicknamed “dachshund dogs”.  Naturally, the American habit of simplifying names comes into play here.  Dachshund dog sausages began to be known as hot dogs.  That’s the story I like best, so I’m sticking with it. The beautiful irony is that the canine species, dachshund, is now nicknamed, “wiener-dog”.

More controversial than the names, are the ingredients of these little sausages.  Most frankfurters contain one or more of these mechanically separated meat products: beef, chicken, pork, or turkey.  The meat product might contain other tissues from the carcasses of the animals.  These are blended with fillers, like high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, maltodextrin, dried milk, and some sort of grain. In turn, water is blended into the mix, but no more than ten-percent is legally allowed. Artificial flavor enhancers and salt are added.  This is all blended together into a gooey pink paste substance.

The paste is injected into casings for the cooking process, then the finished wieners are de-cased just before packaging.   Some “prestige” brands sell natural casing wieners.  Regulations state that the animal species the casing derive from, must be shown in the ingredients list.  This is important for consumers who have religious restrictions regarding the types of animals they may eat. Because I follow a vegetarian lifestyle, I bypass any of the ingredient worries. hotdog-veggie

There are some minor controversies regarding veggie-dogs, too.  Top contender for the first manufacturer of vegetarian franks is apparently Worthington Foods. Their “Veja-Link” product was first marketed in 1949.  Since then, more “healthy food” companies have introduced their own versions.  Some of them are bland, unappetizing wieners, others are quite tasty.  Of course, you don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy veggie-dogs. Maybe you just want to avoid the mystery meat used in conventional frankfurters.

The big problem with veggie-dogs is their retail price.  Even though I rarely eat faux-meat products, I still enjoy eating fake meat during holiday gatherings and special occasions.  I can only justify the sky-high price of “not-dogs” by reserving my enjoyment for baseball’s post-season World Series time in the Autumn.

Another hot dog controversy include the community traditions of hot dog eating contests.  Some folks are upset about these events, because they encourage gluttony and overconsumption of food.  There are also the concerns of more militant vegetarian and vegan groups, who dislike the fact that hot dog gulping contests promote the wholesale slaughter of animals.

I saw a semantics question come up a few weeks ago during a slow day on Facebook. Is a hot dog only a hot dog when the sausage is enclosed in the long bun as a sandwich, or if the sausage, alone, can be thought of as a hot dog. The results were evenly divided.

What about condiments and toppings?  87-percent of American adults prefer mustard on their dogs while most kids would rather use catsup.  I like my veggie dog with mustard and sauerkraut.

How do folks celebrate National Hot Dog Day?  It’s easy. You can hit the supermarket aisles and pick up a package of frankfurters or their vegetarian counterparts, boil or grill them, then enjoy.  This might be the day you decide to use a different topping on your dog.  Will you try a homemade pickle relish?  Will it be chili?  Maybe, like me, you’ll want kraut.  Perhaps you’re lucky to live in a neighborhood that has a hot dog vendor.  Buy and enjoy some there.


The Blue Jay of Happiness is thinking of the saying, “As American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie.”  Now, there’s a winning combination.

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Save The Bison

Wildlife conservation and concern about the environment aren’t the relative latecomers to activism that many of us imagine.   There have been pockets of concerned citizens who have made it their missions to preserve the native creatures of our homeland.

One of the very first species to catch the attention of conservationists is the North American Bison, popularly called buffalo.  These large animals were once a bison-03dominant part of the North American ecology and sustained a great many human inhabitants of the continent.  They migrated among the prairies and grasslands from northern Mexico to well into Canada.

The bison herds were at the base of the ecosystems of plants, other herbivores, predators, and scavengers.  It is estimated that at least 50-million of these animals roamed the continent before the arrival of European explorers and settlers.  As the United States was formed and expanded, the numbers of bison steadily declined.  Unregulated shooting by hunters armed with accurate, powerful rifles systematically wiped out the herds.  Before the end of the 1800s, the bison population was on the brink of extinction, with numbers only in the hundreds.DSCN4262

Many historians have alleged that the US government encouraged the mass extermination of bison in efforts to starve the native people during the Indian wars.  People of European ancestry were eager to settle the Great Plains and lands to the west, but the original nations were resistant to those efforts.  Historians also point out that the railroad owners wanted to eliminate the herds because the bison were judged a nuisance.  Sometimes large herd migrations crossing railroad tracks might delay trains for several hours at a time.

By the mid 1880s official encouragement of slaughter and sport shooters had brought the bison herds to their lowest population levels.  The chief taxidermist of the US National Museum, William Hornaday became greatly concerned.  Hornaday calculated that fewer than 300 bison remained in the entire United States.  He advocated for the sheltering of breeding stock of bison and other endangered species.  Hornaday was one of the first people who understood that the public needed to be educated about the fate of endangered species.

In December of 1905, Hornaday and Ernest Baynes founded the American Bison Society.  The group grew under the endorsement of its honorary president, Theodore Roosevelt. In 1907, the organization shipped 15 bison from the Bronx Zoo to Oklahoma, to begin the very first animal reintroduction on the continent. The society’s next projects included the purchase of a herd for the National Bison Range of Montana in 1910. In 1913, they donated 14 of the animals to the Wind Cave National Park, located in South Dakota.  The American Bison Society then disbanded for several decades, beginning in 1935.

In addition to the efforts of the society, one small herd of bison escaped detection of the hunters by finding refuge in a hidden, remote valley in Yellowstone National Park.  After the “Great Buffalo Hunt” was finally halted, the discovery of this last band of wild bison led to a more robust repopulation effort.

By the mid-twentieth century, the numbers of North American bison had risen, fallen, and risen again to about 4,000.  The figure was still considered to be a dangerously low number, especially given the very limited range of the animals.  Bison could still be vulnerable to disease and poaching.  On July 22, 1950, a new report was issued by the “Save the American Bison Campaign” to raise awareness of the plight of the animals across North America.

The report noted these totals, as of July 1950: Elk Island, Alberta, Canada had 500 bison; Henry Mountains of Utah had 500 bison; Wind Cave Park, South Dakota tallied 1,500 bison; and Yellowstone Park had 4,000 bison. These were the last four remaining genetically pure, free range bison herds, anywhere.


Since the 1950s, traditional conservation societies have stepped up efforts to save the bison.  More importantly, Native Americans have become more involved in these efforts.  Many of the First Nations people are reconnecting with their past and heritage.  The gains in bison population have merged with a resurgence of Native American culture in symbiotic fashion.  Just as the demise of the bison led to the near total collapse of Indian culture, the bison regrowth has brought along renewed interest in the human social structure.

These days, the traditional conservationists and the Native American groups have merged with the efforts of modern environmentalists to form a stronger coalition to preserve and maintain the integrity and strength of the still small herds of North American bison.

1984aThe Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Black Elk. “The bison were the  gift of a good spirit and were our strength, but we should lose them, and from the same good spirit, we must find another strength.”

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Happy Junk Food Day

My across the street neighbor brought up the topic of junk food, because he’s aware that I like to investigate odd topics.  Eddie wondered how I was planning to celebrate National Junk Food Day.  I replied that I didn’t know there was such a JunkFood-babyruthholiday, but I wasn’t too surprised to discover such a thing.  Eddie laughed, “It was probably started by the great candy and potato chip conglomeration.”

I walked back home, needing to look into this alleged holiday.  First, I wanted to pour a bowl of tortilla chips and grab my guacamole dip.

I discovered that there are at least 175 different “special days” devoted to some foodstuff or another. I’ve mentioned some already, like Rocky Road Day and Barbecue Day.  Most of them have mysterious beginings.  The same rule holds true for National Junk Food Day. I have a suspicion that a consortium of fast-food franchisers and snack-food manufacturers are behind this one.  If not, I’m sure they don’t discourage any celebrating of National Junk Food Day.

Regarding the name, “junk food”, I did find out that the term was popularized in the 1960s by highbrow types who pooh-poohed surgary and salty snack items.  The popularization of the term began in 1976 with the release of the novelty song, “Junk Food Junkie” by Larry Groce.JunkFood-Groce

Today is an excuse for dieters to let down their guard for one day.  I won’t go so far as to say, “Throw caution to the wind.”  I will share how I plan to celebrate.  Because I’m currently monitoring what I eat and I’m careful with my budget. My purchases will be framed by these constraints.   I’ll be sticking to salty snacks that at least have some nutritional value.  That’s how my brain works.  I’m thinking of a bag of Doritos or similar chips, not the best, but not the worst, either.

The indulgent part will be the layered Mexican Dip. I spice up the contents of a can of vegetarian refried beans with chili powder then spread that onto the bottom of a pie plate or similar container. I then sprinkle chopped scallions (green onions) over the bean mixture. Then I spread a thick layer of guacamole (prefab for Junk Food Day).  On top of that I sprinkle a layer of chopped tomatoes, bell and jalapeno peppers. The last layer is a garnish of shredded taco cheese.

If you’re in a hurry, a cup of hummus served with pita chips makes a fairly healthy, tasty snack.  Or you might opt for one of the many varieties of salsa to eat with chips or tacos.

I suppose most folks aren’t going to worry about healthier junk food today, or anytime.  But it is worth noting that Americans are the largest consumers of junk food on Earth, literally.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that over 35% of adult Americans qualify as obese.  More troublesome, obesity now affects more than 17% of American children and adolescents, triple the ratio of the previous generation. One Gallup Poll stated that overweight and obesity are the largest health worries in the US.

We also might consider how the American weight problem is being used by other countries to put down the United States.  Russian leader, Vladimir Putin once quipped, “Americans with excess weight and obesity allow themselves to eat as many junk food products as they like”. Keep those kind of international opinions in mind as you purchase today’s junk food items.


Anyhow, I don’t need to suggest ways that we can celebrate National Junk Food Day.  In many cases, we don’t need to change a single thing.  For too many of us, every day is junk food day.  We can start the day with a breakfast of sugary, cold cereal soaked in chocolate milk.  Enjoy a donut or two with our sweet latte at coffee break.  Chow down some fast-food for lunch.  Indulge in sweet and salty snacks throughout the afternoon. There might be something rich and greasy for dinner, topped off with an indulgent dessert. Then, before bedtime, a dish of ice cream.

How is it that treats, once considered as special, became our regular fare?  I’ll posit that when we started to reward ourselves all day long, for no special reasons, our nation’s weight problems began.

However, today, we don’t need to think about the problem of overindulgence.  Today is the day we break out the questionable food and munch away.  Tomorrow is another day.

I wonder how many contrarians will celebrate National Junk Food Day, by eating totally healthful, balanced meals, today.

bluejayThe Blue Jay of Happiness loves to munch on buttery, garlic bread chunks.

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The Meaning Of Life

My friend Jorge looked out the window to the hazy yard and remarked that he suddenly felt very philosophical.  Many people become lost in thought and wonder about the meaning of life when they ponder a foggy scene.  He laughed as he reminded me that religionists, philosophers, and dithering souls often ponder the ultimate questions of the Universe, life, everything.   Jorge looked squarely at me and asked, “What does it all mean?”

He had me on that one, so I gave him the pat Buddhist answer, “mu”.   Then I nodded back at Jorge for his own opinion.

He said that it is impossible to be totally aware of the question and the answer of life.  Hence, the meaning of life is 42.meaning-.42

We both snickered over Jorge’s reference to The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.  If you can recall from the book, The computer “Deep Thought” created the computer “Earth” in order to figure out the ultimate question.  Five seconds before completion, Earth was blown up to make way for an interstellar highway. Unfortunately we don’t know what the question is. All we know is, the answer is 42.

People are born with some sort of instinct that speaks to them of some purpose or meaning to life beyond mere existance and acquisition of stuff, money, and experiences.  Some unethical people take advantage of this urge and steer others’ thoughts and beliefs to accomplish ulterior, self-serving goals.

I picked up my copy of Bartlett’s Quotations to find another viewpoint to add to our discussion.  One from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe almost leapt off the page.  “The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.”  Evidently, human life has not deeply changed since the 18th Century. Only the novelties and pasttimes have become more sophisticated.


Jorge commented that perhaps we can take away something from the ages old question about the meaning of life.  We can make an effort to balance our lives between libertine sensuality, and over-analytical religiosity.  Is there no meaning at all or is there a meaning that is proscribed by some mighty force?

There is much wisdom in following the Middle Way. As in other aspects of life, we can avoid either extreme and then find a sense of calm and acceptance with our lives.  If we cannot travel that Middle Way, we create discord and conflict in the lives of others and ourselves.

When egoism springs up and demands that we recognize that we are on a grand search for life’s meaning, or worse, that we have found the meaning of life, then we should know that we have lost our perspective and lack respect for balance. The time has come to take some deep breaths and to look into the landscape of life as it really exists.

The World is full to the brim with people who believe they have found the meaning and purpose of life.  They follow or create some sort of special ideology, religion, political persuasion or mass movement that alters and shapes their personal path through life. There is no shortage of people who are more than willing to relinquish their own independence and freedom of thought to the organized belief systems and leaders of those systems.  It comes to pass that the followers, as well as their leaders, believe they have found the meaning of life.  History tells us that there are simply many paths and that most lead to unhappiness or delusion.meaning-Socrates

In reality, we are responsible for our own life’s meaning.  It is our responsibility to individually evaluate and examine our own lives.  You might find a useful balance between detachment, seclusion and retreat with attachment, involvement, and moving forward with life.  From time to time, we have to face unresolved issues with others, and mostly within ourselves.  Sometimes we may finally realize how necessary it is to clear the air and establish new ground rules that are more flexible and allow for more harmony.

Jorge says that we can allow ourselves to ponder the Earth, the Universe, humanity, and what it all means. A wise person will discover there really is no concrete, overarching, cosmic meaning of life for all of us.  We can only find the meaning we give to our own lives.  Each of us composes our own life’s meaning, much the same as a writer develops the plot for a book.

moi1986bThe Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Robert Louis Stevenson. “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.”

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The Demise of Flight 232

My eyes moisten at the thought of what happened about 77 miles to the northeast of my home one Summer afternoon 25 years ago.  United Airlines Flight 232 was midway through an unremarkable trip from Denver, Colorado to Chicago, Illinois. The McDonnell Douglas DC-10′s captain Alfred Haynes, first officer William Records, and second officer Dudley Dvorak were in the cockpit overseeing the flight operations.  All three were veterans of several thousands of flight hours.  Seated in First Class was off-duty DC-10 flight instructor/pilot Denny Fitch. Fitch had hitched the ride home and chose Flight 232 at random in Denver.


Somewhere over the Alta, Iowa vicinity, Fitch and everyone else heard an explosion in the tail engine.  He noticed that the crew was having difficulty maintaining a steady path for the airliner.  Fitch stopped the passing head stewardess, identified himself as a certified DC-10 instructor, and offered to help the flight crew.

Upon entering the cockpit, he noticed that the three crewmen were struggling to maintain control of the aircraft. He glanced at the hydraulic guages then realized the situation was dire and beyond anything he had ever encountered.  The readings for all three systems were at zero.

The crewmembers were trying to fly the airplane with the normal controls but to no effect.  The only way to fly was to manipulate the throttle controls for the two remaining engines.  In order to avoid rolling the airplane upside down, which would be terminal, the engines needed to be variously brought to full thrust and then backed off.  Because there was no control by means of ailerons, elevators, nor rudder, the craft path began to alternate up and down in a manner called the Phugoid cycle.

Fitch was put to work on his knees at the throttle levers while Haynes and Records monitored the instruments and tried to use the steering controls. The aircraft kept aloft while Fitch guided the direction by varying the thrust of the port engine, then, in a similar fashion to the starboard engine.  The aircraft was taken through a series of 360-right turns over Northwest Iowa.UA232-path

Meantime, on the ground, Air traffic control officials determined that the best chance for the aircraft was in landing at Sioux Gateway Airport near Sioux City, Iowa.  Emergency crews were activated and rescue efforts began.  Coincidentally, the Iowa Air National Guard had been on duty at the airport for training maneuvers.  This meant that 285 trained personnel were already on hand for the emergency.

The cockpit crew began to prepare for a crash landing at Sioux City. The four men deliberated over what might happen if the landing gear was lowered. Even though the hydraulic system was completely lost, the landing gear has a fail-safe built in.  When the control lever is lowered, gravity will allow the wheels to fall and lock into place. On the other hand, if the landing gear was deployed, how would the change in aerodynamics affect the ability to maintain the slight amount of direction control they had?  In the end, they decided to lower the wheels to soften the impact of landing.

Ground controllers originally assigned for Flight 232 to land on the airport’s longest runway, however, the aircraft control difficulties made maneuvering to that course, impossible.  Meantime the aircraft continued to quickly descend and was found lined up with a runway that had been permanently closed the year before.  This is where the emergency vehicles and crew were waiting, too.  As soon as possible everyone and everything was moved out of the way for the airplane.

On final approach the plane was moving forward at 240-knots, 100-knots faster than normal landing speed. The craft was dropping at 1,850 feet per minute or 1550 feet per minute faster than a safe landing requires.  The flight crew and the ground crew otherwise noted that the airplane was perfectly in line for a successful landing.


Just moments before touching down, the plane went into a final downward phugoid cycle.  There was no time to counter the effect.  The right wing hit the tarmac first. Fuel was spilled and ignited instantly. Seconds later, the tail section broke away.  The remainder of the aircraft rolled upside down while the cockpit portion broke free.  All of the main parts of the plane came to rest in a cornfield near the runway.

Out of 296 people aboard, 111 were killed in the crash. 35 of them died due to smoke ihalation, the rest died as a result of multiple impacts of the craft on the ground.  UA232-victimsMany of the survivors were able to walk out through gaps in the broken fuselage. It took more than half-an-hour for rescuers to discover the cockpit debris.  All four of the pilots had survived but were seriously injured.

After the lengthy investigation, when all was said and done, everyone agreed that having any survivors was a miracle. The four pilots went beyond the call of duty and gave the emergency everything they had under the dire circumstances.  They somehow managed to maintain composure for the sake of the safety of the passengers and everyone concerned.

The number of people aboard who survived was increased by some important factors. Instrumental was the lucky coincidence of having the Air National Guard on hand for their routine exercises. Crucially, the accident happened during daylight hours.  Just as crucial as the other factors, at the same time, there were two shift changes of employees at the regional trauma center and at the regional burn treatment center in Sioux City. The shift changes meant that there were more medics, on hand, to treat the victims.

Investigators gave high praise to the actions of the flight crew. The cause of the tragedy was due to the failure of United Airlines’ maintenance procedure and mechanics to detect the existing fatigue crack in the engine’s fan disk and blade assembly. The failure to detect the defect was blamed on human error.


The disintegrating disc threw debris through the protective housing. The metal instantly sliced through all three of the hydraulic control lines in the tail of the airplane. The result was complete loss of hydraulic fluid.  Without hydraulics, it is next to impossible to control a large aircraft.

In the aftermath, the remaining DC-10s have been retrofitted with additional backup parts, failsafe devices and mechanisms.  New training and duties of air crew have been implemented.

1984aThe Blue Jay of Happiness notes that the heroics of the crew were dramatized in the made for TV movie, “Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232″ which aired on ABC-TV. The film originally aired on February 24, 1992.

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