Monday, August 17, 2009

No More Word?

Microsoft just lost a trial for an XML patent violation in Word by what appears to be a patent troll. The company, i4i, has no products, so is presumably uninterested in the usual patent cross-licensing deals that major corporations engage in.

Damages are about $200M, which is laughable for a company with as big a bank account as MSFT, but the requirement to stop selling Word within 60 days has a bit more teeth in it. Then again, it apparently only applies to Word 2003 and 2007, so maybe they won't complain too much. After all, it just forces people to upgrade to the new version.

Since Microsoft is one of the worst abusers of the patent system, hopefully this gives them some incentive to work on patent reform. Hoping for too much?

Wheels Down

I touched down in San Jose on friday, after a four-hour flight from Escalante. The flight was uneventful except that I had a bunch of turbulence going from Escalante to Boulder City (where I stopped for fuel), and that I got clearance heading out of Las Vegas to cross over "Area 51" (the China Lake restricted area).

I did not see any flying saucers or black helicopters. Apparently they don't fly on the weekends.

Only 281 messages waiting for me in my inbox on my return.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Snail Hike

Howard and I took a 5-mile (according to the GPS) hike today, down the Escalante River and back to the trail head. The trail wanders back and forth across the river (well, stream right now -- it was rarely more than 6" deep and a few feet wide) so I spent quite a bit of time splashing through and occasionally stepping in quickmud (Howard's term). We stopped at a culvert cut out of the rock which provided a nice shady spot to have lunch and look for snails.

Howard looked for snails. I watched and read off the coordinates of each sample.

Afterwards we stopped at the Dairy Freeze for milkshakes and went home for a well-deserved shower. If the weather looks good I will head for home tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I touched down in Escalante this morning, after spending the night in Farmington, New Mexico. I stopped there because a) it was along my route of flight and b) I was tired. I got up early this morning and landed in Escalante around 10AM, in time to miss the afternoon thunderstorms.

Howard and I walked around town and saw some of the old buildings, as well as spending some time talking with his friend Paul, who is one of two or three pilots in town. We are supposed to meet up with Paul later over at his hanger and "talk plane" for a while.

I took some nice photos of Lake Powell on the way in, as well as some canyons that look like they are Grand Canyon scale (note to self: visit Grand Canyon). As I do not have a download cable handy, I will have to wait to return home in order to download these.

I also got an update on Howard's various properties here in Escalante and how various restoration/improvement efforts are going. The Bell house should be very impressive (if difficult to navigate) when it is finished.

Tomorrow we might go flying with Paul, if the weather cooperates, and there is a big potluck dinner tomorrow night. I will fly back home saturday or sunday morning depending on how the weather looks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I made a short flight today, due to a line of thunderstorms working its way across Tennesee and northern Kentucky. A quick replanning in the cockpit gave me a new destination of Lafayette, Georgia.

I found a small town with a friendly FBO that tossed me the key to a creaky Ford Escort with an official Walker County seal on the side. I got me a genuine government vehicle for my ride.

I'm currently hiding out from the heat in the hotel room in the hopes it will be slightly less oppressive later when dinner time rolls around.

Tommorow's plan is to see how far I can get. Stopovers planned for Arkansas and north Texas, and if I feel good, I will push on to Utah. If not I will probably stop somewhere in north Texas.

Monday, August 10, 2009

New York Recap

So, I'm trying to remember all of what we did in New York -- we had a fairly packed week there.

We started off the week at the Guggenheim, then took a walk through Central Park. The next day we arranged a helicopter tour. The tour covered the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and downtown Manhattan. Afterwards we took the ferry to Liberty Island, although we were not allowed up in the statue, since we needed a ticket that apparently one can only get off the island. Foiled, we took the ferry to Ellis Island and walked through the immigration museum, which was probably much more interesting. They had a number exhibits showing how Ellis Island grew in size, how immigrants were processed, population statistics and such.

The funny thing is, we were busy the entire week, but looking back at it, I can't remember exactly what we did from day to day, but we were busy every day from breakfast (okay, we usually managed to finish up breakfast and leave the hotel by 11pm), and it was very hot for the first few days and then around wednesday it cooled down to a reasonable temperature and I was much happier. Over the course of the week, we saw the Natural History Museum, the Metropolitan Art Museum, and Little Italy.

Oh, and we loved the pool in our hotel with the swim-up bar, and hung out with Pam, and generally had a good time. I can't say I saw all of New York, or even most of it, but we had a good time.

More time in NC

We decided to spend another day in Raleigh, since we haven't come up with any attractions between here and Utah that we really want to see. Today's plan is to pick up some new charts to cover the trip back, hide from the heat (today's high: 99 degrees), plan our route, and continue sorting through and editing our backlog of photos.

And we still have a few book purchases from Strand's that we need to work through.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Arrived in North Carolina

We had a great time in New York, which is why I haven't posted anything for the last week. I will have a bigger write-up later, but for now we are OK, and got to North Carolina successfully. We had to work our way through some yucky weather and headwinds to get here, and we ended up making an impromptu fuel stop just short of Raleigh.

I actually felt guilty about the fuel stop, because we just picked an airport along our line of flight and figured they had fuel there and landed. When we got there the automated fuel station was out of service, and we had to call the airport manager out to fuel our plane (he left his cell phone number taped to the window -- gotta love small town airports). When he got to the airport, he only had one leg. He then proceeded to fuel the plane for me. Normally I fuel it myself, but didn't want to say anything... So I had my plane fuelled by a one-legged man.

Shana's air mattress is quite comfortable, and her two cats are very friendly, and Joahnna is torn between playing with them and trying to keep them away to keep her allergies under control.

Oh, and Pam texted us while we were on the train north from New York, saying that a small plane hit a tour helicopter over the Hudson river. So, just to let everyone know, it wasn't us.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Helicopter Tour

We flew from Vermont to the East Hampton airport on Long Island last sunday. There was a bit of low cloud cover but we landed without incident. The weather immediately struck us as it was hot and muggy.

We caught a taxi to the nearby train station and took a train from the Hamptons to New York, after which we checked in to our hotel and called up Pam to go out for dinner.

On monday we took the subway up to 86th street and took a quick tour of the Guggenheim, which was showing a Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit, and then walked through central park. We then caught another subway down to the Soho, where we did some shoe shopping (Joahnna's sandals were just about worn out, so she picked up some Birkenstocks), and found Strand Books, which is a great used book store -- three stories and "18 miles" of new and used books.

We got out of strand six books and about 30 pounds later and made our way back to the hotel, where we changed into our bathing suits and spent some time in the hotel pool and swim-up bar. The only problem with the swim-up bar concept is that if people are splashing in the pool it can get in to your drink.

Later that night we met up with Pam again for dinner, then went to watch "The Ugly Truth".

This morning we levered ourselves out of bed and caught a cab to the west island heliport, where we took a 15-minute helicopter tour. We flew by the Statue of Liberty, then looped around and crossed over the south end of Manhattan island. It was our first time in a helicopter and it is a very different feeling.

Right now Joahnna is taking a nap while I catch up on my blog and read some of my new purchases, and our plan for the day is to do some laundry (we only have 5-6 days of clothes, so we need to go find a washing machine every now and then) and then take a boat to see the Statue of Liberty this afternoon.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


We departed Oshkosh yesterday and flew to Vermont, after a brief stop in Ohio for fuel. The departure from Oshkosh was busy -- we formed a line of departing aircraft, and the tower cleared us on to the runway two at a time and had us line up in parallel. However, once away from the airport we settled in to a relatively uneventful flight. We spent about two hours flying from Oshkosh to our refuelling point just south of Cleveland, and then another three hours to get to Montpelier, Vermont.

At Vermont I flew my first "real" instrument approach -- meaning my first one without an instructor on board, and where actual clouds are limiting visibility instead of the training hood. I got us on the glide slope fine and we broke out of the clouds at about 4000' for a pretty moonlit landing.

Gregg and Lori had a very nice dinner ready-made for us, and we stayed the night at the nearby Morgan Inn. We woke up to a beautiful misty morning and drove back to Gregg and Lori's for a fresh French toast breakfast.

We spent today driving around the Randolph area and taking pictures, as well as meeting the neighbors and having a good time relaxing on the porch, reading, and catching up. Vermont is beautiful in the summer, but the prospect of 8-12 feet of snow in the winter and daily snow-blowing the driveway has chilled Joahnna on any idea of living here.

Tomorrow we have a short (one and a half hour) flight from here to the Long Island MacArthur airport, after which we have a couple hour train ride to get in to our hotel in Times Square.