Hidden Gems

Tonight I talked with a WWII vet who also happens to be my client's dad. He served right at the end and participated in the tail end of the Battle of the Bulge as a tank driver. I love finding gems like this and listening to them tell stories... I encouraged him to tell me things, asked a question here or there and just let him talk until he looked like he needed more direction, then I'd ask another question. 


He told me about how they used to tie big trees to the sides of his tank to beef up the armor, how they'd react when they got hit by a mine, bazooka, or high power cannon... and what it did to the men inside (mines just throw the tread, but there are usually gunners waiting to hit those who jump out, bazookas penetrate and send shrapnel everywhere, and cannon rounds went right through, hopefully only getting one guy in the process). He was hit 5 times in total (all in different tanks, of course) and was the only one of 25 men in his platoon who didn't get wounded or killed... and in only 6 months.   He came in at the end of the war and sat outside Berlin as the Russians negotiated their way into having the honor of being the first into the city. 


Everybody else sat elsewhere and talked a lot about nothing... but I noticed one of his adult children was listening. I have this vague feeling they don't ask him to talk about it.  He never hesitated to keep talking as long as I wanted to listen and more than once I saw a tear sneak its way down his cheek. He ignored it like it didn't exist and so did I. 


Solstice eclipse

I'm currently in Florida after having flown all day from Los Angeles.  Quite the trip for a lot of reasons, not least of which was the 45+ knot tailwind which allowed us to make this in one long day rather than two...

And tonight is the start of the winter solstice... and also a total lunar eclipse.  They say this won't happen again until 2094... so I'm staying up for it.  I have taken a few pictures already and am going to take just a few more before I finally turn in.  It's almost 3am here.

As I stand in the cold night air (you can see your breath!  In Florida!) and watch the moon turn red and dark, I can almost hear the pagans screaming and dancing.  What must it have meant, in ages long gone, that on this longest of all nights also had them seeing the moon undergo such a dramatic change?  The fear and awe that they'd have felt must have been overpowering. 

I'm glad that we live in the age we do.  The awe is not lessened for the knowing of what's going on up there... and it's built upon by the reality of the fact that we can predict such things with so much accuracy.  I'm going to pay for this tomorrow, but it'll be worth every moment of tonight.

Turns out I lived

So that's good.  I'm back from Hawaii and enjoying the Seattle weather.  I'm planning a full write up with videos and pictures but for now I'll just update with my first photo as I was on the wing towards Honolulu.  This was taken at about 4:30 in the morning and I had been aloft for about 30 to 45 minutes.  It took me that long to climb to 6,000 feet due to the weight. 


TSA's New Security Fondle

This is a copy of a post I just put on one of my piloty forums.  They rather liked it and I thought you all might too.  I put a claimer on it just so that the fuddie duddies who lurk in the back waiting with Shock! and Awe! would get shot down for bitching if it's too racy.  No, I don't this is racy... but we're dealing with stuck up religious people so you know...


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A long way to go

So I have this problem.  I have flown a Cirrus in every state in the union except for one: Hawaii.  This has been bugging me for years.  I've got all of Canada, a fair bit of Mexico, most of the Bahamian islands... but only 49 states. 

>>When I say "flown in" I mean landed, to clarify and noting a question asked of me earlier.<<

As most of you are aware, we do ferry flights... and we had one pop up that could help me with my problem.  So I'll be flying an SR20 over the ocean to Hawaii on November 8th if everything works out the way I want it to.  Here's the route, it's very complex:

Some trip stats:

Total Distance: 2,105 nautical miles (that's about 2,400 normal people miles)
Estimated speed: 120 knots (about 140 miles per hour)
Time en route: Approximately 16 hours and 50 minutes
Fuel on board: 196 gallons
Time til empty of fuel: 22 hours
Takeoff weight: 800 lbs over maximum authorized (special waiver obtained from FAA and a sticker that says Experimental does the trick)

Fun facts:
-I'll be wearing an auto inflating life jacket the whole way and have a canopied raft sitting next to me on the fuel tank (we remove all the seats and replace them with gas tanks). 

-Satellite phone will be coming along but it costs $2/minute so I'm going to keep any conversations brief.

-I'll be installing an antenna that runs from one wing to the tail to the other wing.  This piece of wire allows the HF radio to work (longer wavelength needs a longer antenna). 

-I'll have a GPS Personal Locator Beacon (water activated) in my front right pocket in my cargo pants.

-Takeoff rate of climb will be so shallow that I have to essentially launch off a runway that faces the ocean - no obstacles are acceptable.

-I'll be bored as hell.

So that's a thing.

Hiring again

Time for more amusement:

Today I received a cover letter that was filled with spelling errors, addressed to Hiring Manager, and mentioned nothing about the job I'm offering.  It just rambled on and on about how his hard work ethic and his totally unrelated job experience would make him a perfect addition to my team and blah blah blah I totally cut and pasted this blah blah blah. 

Don't care enough to at least put my name, the company name, or the job title in the letter?  That's 2 1/2 strikes if I *don't* have other applicants already.  Psst:  I do have other applicants. 

But wait!  It gets better.  He sent me a 1 and 1/8 page resume.  That's right, he needed another 3 lines to fit all his irrelevant work experience including a job at Lowes and his work as a handyman for an apartment complex. 

Bad pilto*!  Bad. 

The cherry on top was that his job objective on the resume was for an Airport Manager.  Sorry dude, you applied for the wrong job.

 Query:  Do I email him back and kindly thank him for the resume, but point out that we don't have any airport manager positions available?  Is that being too nice and helping out somebody with sub-par motivation?  Am I doing a disservice to the harder working peers of this fellow?  Or is this a, "Hey.  Shape your shit up," kind of opportunity where I help?  

Applicant number two eagerly applied for the job in Phoenix.  I didn't offer a job in Phoenix.  The rest was ok, but I still consider that a strike. 

If anybody reading this ever wants me to go over their resume or cover letter to help find little things, I'd be happy to do so.  After 9 years of accepting applications and hiring, I'd have an opinion to offer.  Keep in mind that my field of experience isn't exactly common, but I could offer some take-it-or-leave-it points.

*Yes, I spelled it that way on purpose.  See earlier rants for a reference but you could  probably guess.

Free office chairs, anyone?

I have 3 office chairs that are of the basic black variety, two with arms and one without.  Fully functional and otherwise good, just not frilly. 

I think we bought them for 65 bucks to give you an idea of the quality, but I'm giving them away.  If you want one, please let me know.


"Don't be content in your life just to do no wrong, be prepared every day to try to do some good."
-Sir Nicholas Winton

How is it that I hadn't heard of this man until now?  I just saw a brief video about him and went on to learn that he was responsible for secretly shuttling 669 children (mostly Jewish) out of German-occupied Czechoslovakia.  Many of them were destined for Hitler's death camps.  He also helped find homes for them in Britain. 

Nobody would have known about it, either, had his wife not found a scrapbook in their attic in 1988 - the book contained all the information about the children he had saved including pictures, addresses, parents' names, and the homes that took the kids in.  There's a clip on YouTube of him on a program called That's Life wherein the host reveals this book and Sir Winton, who was in the audience but didn't realize the subject of the show... well, you should probably watch the clip:

Later, when a high school student grabbed an impromptu chance to speak with him, she asked him what he would say if he could pass one lesson that he has learned in his life onward to future generations.  He thought for little while and then said the above quote.

History holds inspiration enough, and I don't believe that lights like this have gone out of the world.  I think they're still out there, but the stories and lessons might be hidden right under our noses... or in our attics.  I very much enjoy learning about people and acts like this.

Ironic church is ironic

In hopes of speeding the arrival of armageddon, a church in Florida has decided to make 9/11 into their own little book burning holiday.  Burn A Quran Day is something they're reconsidering now that there have been protests in other countries (but they only partially count because their skin is a different color and they pray to obviously false gods) and a generalized warning from the military that such an act could spur many acts of retribution against soldiers serving in the countries populated by the offended.

Yes, it's all sad and stupid, but I've grown somewhat accustomed to that sentiment.  The thing that caught my eye is the name of the church: Dove World Outreach Church.

I suppose you could consider this outreach, but not in the traditional sense.  Or maybe it is traditional... this is a fundie church, after all.  Huh.

It gets better!  Their website says they plan to "...expose Islam as a violent and oppressive religion."  Seriously guys.  Are you trolling us?  I think you're trolling us.  Nobody is *that*... oh, wait.  Nevermind.

I could go on and on about how the radicals who crash planes into buildings and our radicals are just the same but using different tactics, but that's too easy.  Instead I'm going to get a sad chuckle out of their idiocy and hope that their example will drive more people from this kind of "spiritual fulfillment" if you could call it that.  I know that for me, the church's own hypocrisy was an excellent shove down the path that led to me leaving it behind.