Which Way To Bismarck?

February 2, 2001

Some people have asked me what I have against North Dakota.

Apparently they’re referring to certain remarks I’ve made about that state. For example, I compared North Dakota to the moon, saying they’re both cold, dark, and have nothing to do. I confess this is a little bit unfair of me, since I’ve never actually been to North Dakota, but when you think about it, how many people actually have?

I’ve known three people from North Dakota–I think that represents about 10% of the population, and they’ve all told me the same thing: People move to North Dakota to get away from other people. In North Dakota, I’ve been told, neighbors are people who live less than twenty-five miles away. If someone moves to within five miles of you, they’re squatting in your backyard. If you can see another house, those people are uncomfortably close.

Can you name one national landmark in North Dakota? Can you even name the capitol of North Dakota? (If you recognized it in this message, score yourself five bonus points.) If it weren’t for the movie "Fargo", would you even know there’s a city in North Dakota called Fargo? You probably don’t even know that North Dakota leads the nation in the production of flaxseed. I haven’t been able to find out what North Dakota’s state flower is, but I think it’s granite. But don’t take any of this as a reason to go to North Dakota, or even like the place. Part of the reason nothing’s there is that the people who live there now like it that way. North Dakota may be the greatest place in the universe, but it’s a well-kept secret for a reason. So even if you really want to get away from it all, you’d better find some place else.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Airplane Rules

  1. Every takeoff is optional. Every landing is mandatory.

  2. If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull the stick back, they get smaller. That is, unless you keep pulling the stick all the way back, then they get bigger again.

  3. Flying isn’t dangerous. Crashing is what’s dangerous.

  4. It’s always better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.

  5. The ONLY time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.

  6. The propeller is just a big fan in front of the plane used to keep the pilot cool. When it stops, you can actually watch the pilot start sweating.

  7. When in doubt, hold on to your altitude. No-one has ever collided with the sky.

  8. A ‘good’ landing is one from which you can walk away. A ‘great’ landing is one after which they can use the plane again.

  9. Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make all of them yourself.

  10. You know you’ve landed with the wheels up if it takes full power to taxi to the ramp.

  11. The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival. Large angle of arrival, small probability of survival and vice versa.

  12. Never let an aircraft take you somewhere your brain didn’t get to five minutes earlier.

  13. Stay out of clouds. The silver lining everyone keeps talking about might be another airplane going in the opposite direction. Reliable sources also report that mountains have been known to hide out in clouds.

  14. Always try to keep the number of landings you make equal the number of take offs you’ve made.

  15. There are three simple rules for making a smooth landing. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.

  16. You start with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck.

  17. Helicopters can’t fly; they’re just so ugly the earth repels them.

  18. If all you can see out of the window is ground that’s going round and round and all you can hear is commotion coming from the passenger compartment, things are not at all as they should be.

  19. In the ongoing battle between objects made of aluminum going hundreds of miles per hour and the ground going zero miles per hour, the ground has yet to lose.

  20. Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, the experience usually comes from bad judgment.

  21. It’s always a good idea to keep the pointy end going forward as much as possible.

  22. Keep looking around. There’s always something you’ve missed.

  23. Remember, gravity is not just a good idea. It’s the law. And It’s not subject to repeal.

  24. The three most useless things to a pilot are the altitude above you, runway behind you and a tenth of a second ago.

  25. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots. There are, however, no old bold pilots.

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