“Your number is up” – Rodgers,’93


Twenty four years ago, I was at a small Florida outdoor art exhibit in Daytona. I came across this painting, and was really arrested by it, in a way that other modern paintings had not matched. The original was about 3 x 5 feet. The artist was friendly, and the asking price was $3,500. If I had the money, or could have borrowed it, I would have bought it. The 8×10″picture below has hung in my shop ever since. There is something captivating about it which has never faded.



Above, The painting. The watch shows 5 minutes to midnight, the sand is running out of the fist; Bettie Page is eternally youthful and the ticket says “Your number is up”. Most people find it disturbingly morbid, but I don’t.


Ever since I was in my mid twenties, the first thought I have upon waking is a variation on this: “How did I let yesterday get away? “  Hardly any day can be passed without me asking why I didn’t get something more out of it? This is asking why I didn’t create, or read more, travel further, pick a further goal or refuse to have the same conversation again. Plenty of people are workaholics, toiling because they are afraid to stop and find out how little is there; that isn’t me, I spend a great deal of any day living in the moment, I can enjoy any hour without obsessing about other places, but when the day comes to a close, it was hardly ever enough of the important moments. The painting above expresses one of the most pervasive feelings of my life.


To many airplane builders, I am a guy who is willing to share some skills they would like to learn, and that is great, it is the foundation of a very good working relationship. If none of the comments I make in the philosophy section grab them, that is perfectly fine, I trust they are not offended.  For the smaller group for whom some of the stuff resonates with, good, I hope it puts a few more moments of meaning in a day that will invariably escape both of us.




‘I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.’ What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of ‘security.’ And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone. What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?”

-From the story: Sterling Hayden – Philosophy





About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

3 Responses to “Your number is up” – Rodgers,’93

  1. Earl Brown says:

    thats a cool image- it kind of reminds me of some of Robert Williams works

  2. Kevin Conklin says:

    “But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.”

    I feel it like a freakin boat anchor

    • Kevin, Hayden is a tough act to follow, but I work at it on a percentage basis, as long as each year of my life has less charade in it than the previous one, I’m doing ok. When I look at any consumer product for sale, I ask myself “how is this going to get me any closer to a little amphibian in the Caribbean? It has to pass that test, or I don’t buy it. ww.

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