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After crashing my airplane into the combination restrooms and refreshment stand gazebo at our club flying field, the club president told me that I was a few bricks shy and that my elevator didn't go all the way to the top.

I think I understand the elevator comment. It was in fact the elevator servo that failed and caused the crash, so he probably meantthat if I had more up elevator, I wouldn't have crashed. But what did he mean by the brick comment!
-Barth in Beth Park, NY

Dear Barth:
A few bricks shy" is short for "a few bricks shy of a full load." It's a mason's term and it means that your club president thought your airplane wasn't heavy enough. Don't be discouraged by your setbacks. Keep building, keep flying, and maybe someday you'll be playing with a full deck.


Help! Electronic things hate me and I'm surrounded by them. My car windows won't go down when it's hot and they won't go up when it's raining. The can opener throws beets on the kitchen ceiling and the automatic coffee maker comes on in the middle of the night when the pot that's supposed to catch the coffee is in the dishwasher.

I'm a victim of progress. I liked handcrank car windows. I respected them and they respected me. I got along fine with can openers that needed me to turn the handle. I can't cope with a coffee machine that's smarter than I am. My husband gave me an electric carving knife. The first time I tried it, "-'... (Excuse me, I'm typing this at work my boss just walked in.)

Goood Llord ! he tok awry hi- typ!wri7er anj geva me wOrd prcoessro 6)
Modelre;s wiFd

Dear Modeler's Wife:
Calm down. Help is available for people like yourself who have been cast adrift by the integrated circuit revolution.

The Institute for the Electronically Challenged (IEC, 5604 Pleasant Harbor Drive, Penobscot, ME 017191 has satellite agencies all over the U.S. that offer counseling and support groups for the appliance impaired. Programs include: The LED is Not Lucifer's Eerie Display, Coping with Electronic Ignition, and Programming Your VCR (Beginner and Advanced).

So sign up and I'm sure they'll be able totototototototo.



Hi. It's me, Tommy Smith, again.

I know you want me to keep you informed, so this month's body count is one squirrel, two parakeets, a box turtle, and my cousin Jimmy.

That's all for now.

If you got it off, could you send me back the skin that was glued to last month's envelope!
Your Friend, Tommy Smith

Dear Tommy:
No can do. I added it to the skin ball I've been building from your correspondence over the years. It's about the size of a grapefruit now.
- jake

I've got to take a business trip by airline next month. I know how much you hate air travel, but since you write about it fairly often, I figure you must have to do it relatively frequently. As a regular air passenger, maybe you could give me some advice on how to cope with my upcoming ordeal.
Jerry in Jamesburg, VA

Dear Jerry:
First of all, if you ever had any airline coffee, you would know there's no such thing as a regular air passenger. Yes, I do travel by air frequently. I used to think it was preferable only to a root canal, but a recent experience has altered my opinion. I was on a flight to St. Louis with a stop and plane change in Madison, Wisconsin. The first leg was ordinary enough—overcrowded people chewing vulcanized omelettes- but a storm hit while we were on the ground in Madison and we got snowed in. After a series of unsuccessful phone calls and useless threats to numb airline employees, I found myself with absolutely no choice but to take a bus to St. Louis.

Seeing the USA by bus may be the one travel experience that could start you longing for the friendly skies. I boarded my bus and selected an empty window seat in Row 11.

As I satdown in it, the reclining mechanism deposited me in Row 12. Several trial-and-error back flips later, I eventually occupied a working seat in Row 17—right over the bus's rear axle, as I would learn later. Comfortably seated, I surveyed the magazine pouch in front of me...a 1986 Boy's Life and the current issue of Ebony. Not particularly interested in either, I decided to open and adjust the overhead air vent. I succeeded in directing a high velocity plume of bus fumes onto my left ear and was subsequently unable to turn it off or aim it somewhere else. I pushed the button for the overhead light and it worked. A lamp came on about six rows forward on the other side of the bus.

About this time, the bus stopped in Milwaukee and an older woman got on and sat down next to me. I am convinced that if I opened the dictionary, I would find the woman's picture next to ''bag lady." She arranged her multitude of shopping bags on and under the seats all around us. One of them clearly contained something alive and moving, but it never made a sound, so I don't know what it was. I don't want to know what it was.

I have shared a row of seats with some pretty ripe individuals on airplanes, but this lady smelled like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's sock drawer. I was looking for an escape route through all the bags when the bus hit a bump and tossed me to Row 21. That was my clue that Row 17 was over the rear axle. I could go on, but my advice for your upcoming flight, when the flight attendant has parked the beverage cart on your ankle and is demanding six dollars in exact change so you can watch Home Alone, is to just remember that you could be on a bus to Hell, in Row 21, just across the aisle from that most terrifying of all travel conveniences, the bus toilet.
- jake

Reprinted From MODEL BUILDER Magazine February 1993
Click here to go to the DEAR JAKE archives.

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