Thursday, December 28, 2006

Stage Check, Take Two

I tried to take my first stage check last week, but I was foiled by the weather -- it was raining lightly and looked like some nastier weather was going to move in, and I didn't want my first practical flying test to be in marginal weather. So we completed the ground portion of my stage check (apparently acceptable), and put off the flying part.

The reschedule flying portion should be tomorrow, and as of now the weather for tomorrow looks good -- plentiful sunshine, winds N at 5-10mph.

We'll see how the weather actually turns out, but I'm hoping for the best -- I'm trying to get a little extra flying in over the Christmas break.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bah Humbug

'Tis the season, with all the usual reminders of Christmas cheer -- people putting little bow ties on the front of their diesel trucks, abnormally low temperatures (i.e. approaching freezing), obnoxious songs on the radio, 1.8M people trying to cram themselves into Valley Fair Mall over the weekend, and, last but not least, my favorite December activity -- trying to cram a month's worth of work into two weeks.

Needless to say, I have not completed my Christmas shopping yet.

In somewhat related news, the Sweaty Ball is coming up friday, which promises to be a fun event. The planners are pretty much evenly split on worrying that too many people will show up and worrying that not enough will show. Jon manages to worry about both at the same time -- I think this is a skill you learn in project management.

In aircraft news, I'm coming up on my stage check, where my flying progress will be evaluated. If I pass that, then I'm ready to do my solo flight, which is my first major milestone in flight school.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Flying Instructions

Basic flying instructions:
  • Try to stay in the middle of the air.
  • Do not go near the edges of it.
  • The edges of air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees, and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.
Found while reading the 2005 Nall Report summarizing aircraft accidents. Original source of quote unknown.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I took a business trip to Israel a week ago, but I've been so busy since then that I haven't had time to write anything about it. Most of my trips I don't get the chance to see much of anything outside the hotel lobby, but on this trip I was in the country on the weekend (Israel takes friday and saturday off instead of saturday and sunday), so I got the chance to do a little tourism.

Awais wanted to visit the Al-Asqa mosque, so he gathered up a couple of our local co-workers and we drove out to Jerusalem. It wasn't very far, a little over an hour drive from our hotel in Hertziliya. It's something that's a little tough to get used to -- pretty much everything in the country is less than two hours drive from Tel Aviv.

We spent the day touring the old city. The old city is, by definition, the portion of Jersusalem contained in the city walls. These walls were built by the Ottomans in the 16th century (or thereabouts), so they're in pretty good condition.

As soon as we entered the city we were in the middle of a market. We spent the first part of the day in the Muslim quarter, where pretty much every available square inch is used for retail purposes. The way to the mosque was packed with people and hemmed in on both sides by stalls.

As we got close to the mosque, a group of Israeli police motioned me over. They asked about, roughly, my ethnicity (I said I was American), and then asked if I was a Muslim. I said no, so they replied that they wouldn't let me in ("Maybe on a weekday"). Awais said I should have said I was Muslim -- "they can't tell" -- but one of our friends in Israel said that they've been known to issue a pop quiz on the Koran if they doubt you. Which I would have failed miserably, of course.

Awais went in and I wandered around the city for a while. I went and saw the Christian quarter (no security guards there, but then again it wasn't Sunday), and then wandered into the Jewish quarter.

The Jewish quarter seemed pretty quiet, except for a couple tour groups. At one point we did hear someone around the corner launching into an angry tirade of some sort, but didn't investigate that. In the afternoon, the whole city shut down, which put a pretty effective end to our outing -- we had already walked around the city, seen the city walls, and visited the West Wall of the temple of David, so shopping was about all that was left to do.

I found Jerusalem to be a fascinating city. I wasn't as impacted by the religous aspect, since I don't participate in any of the three religions which vie for control of the city (or any other religions, for that matter, unless "Linux" counts), but the whole city oozes history. The four-hundred year old wall surrounding the city is new.

On saturday my stomach didn't feel very good, so I cancelled my plans to go see Tel Aviv. I spent the day hanging out in my hotel room and on the beach in front of my hotel.

Weather was nice -- I was worried about getting a sunburn while I was on the beach. Security wasn't too bad, although Awais was detained for 5 hours while they ran a background check on him. My biggest problem was getting the customs official to actually pay attention to me. They don't pretend to be even-handed on security, and aside from the beard, I look pretty darn white.

I actually ran into much stiffer security on leaving the country, where they gave me a short (6-7 question) interview on why I was there, who I visited, if I had friends the country, etc. They appeared satisfied that I only associated with co-workers and let me through.

Flights to and from Israel were long, but I actually managed to get some sleep on the plane there and back, so it wasn't as gruelling as previous trips. I was tired but functional by the time I showed up on both ends. Which is good, because it looks like I'll be going back.

Friday, December 08, 2006

On Our Way

Got out of work a little later than I would have liked -- didn't manage to really hit the freeway until after 6pm. We got caught in 680 traffic headed northbound, which wasn't a surprise, but it starting moving OK once we got over the hill.

Had dinner at In-n-Out in Fairfield -- let's hear it for road cuisine. It was sprinkling lightly as we walked back to the car after dinner, and it started picking up as we went from I-80 to I-505. By the time we were on I-5 north it was a full-fledged rain.

Started to feel a bit tired as it passed 10PM, so drove until we hit Redding and stopped for the night. Joahnna was already asleep by the time we got to the motel, so woke her up long enough to get her to the room, where she curled into bed and promptly went back to sleep.

Going to hit the sack after I finish posting and brushing my teeth, as we still have about 9-10 hours of driving to do tomorrow.

Driving to Seattle

I decided to donate my old truck to my high school in Seattle, so Joahnna and I are going to spend today and tomorrow driving up I-5. Hopefully this will be a reasonably adventure-free road trip, but I have packed the chains along just in case we hit snow along the way. That and I figure they'll do the new owner more good than they will me.

I got back from Israel last week, but despite the fact that it was a work trip, there was still somehow a week's worth of work backed up for me once I returned, so I haven't had a chance to write it up or post photos. I'll try to find some time this weekend to upload photos and write it up this weekend.