Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sit down boys and girls, it's STORY TIME!

I am composing a little presentation about communication and preparedness. I intend to use an example from my own past.

Today's story, "That's About It!"

Once upon a time, in the deserts of California, there were three friends and a prison guard with a pilots license. Eric, Nick and I wanted to make a parachute jump into a party waaaaay away from anything...in the middle of the night.

The regular pilot for the Cessna U-206 had worked all day, so Mark volunteered to fly us. The aircraft usually holds five jumpers, so we were pretty spread out with only three. It is best to plan everything ahead, so we all agreed that Erich would spot the plane over the target (tell us when to exit). This is accomplished by sticking your head out and deciding when you would release a bomb or a pumpkin or some such and have it strike the spot on the ground you want...then subtract the time it takes for the plane to slow down a bit and for the jumpers to get in position (this usually involves hanging off of the outside of the airplane for a few moments).

Well, Erich was going to spot, so he lounged next to the door; behind the pilot facing backwards. It was pitch black (but we could see because we had chemlites affixed to our frap hats (goofy leather helmets). Nick was behind Erich on the door side of the aircraft (the door was made out of heavy fabric and..yes...velcro) and I sat next to the pilot facing backwards. Mark and I talked and joked as we took off out of Cal City Airport. For about a half hour we climbed while heading east about 20 miles or so toward the Silver Saddle Country club. We were to land at the Shotgun range (the only lit area for many miles).

As we neared the exit altitude and the target area, Mark told me that he needed to make a 180 degree (or so) turn so that he would wind up pointed toward the target. He also said that we would have to look out and tell him when to stop turning the airplane because the for some reason, his directional instruments were not working. No problem. Can do. (deviation from plan) We rolled up the door.

At once it was windy, loud and dark. Quite ominous, but the promise of a cold beer, at last, on the ground brightened the night. Mark started the turn. Nick got up and put his goggles on, as did I, and we looked out into the abyss to tell Mark when to stop turning. As we lined up so the plane was pointed at the drop zone, i yelled, "THAT'S ABOUT IT!"

It went downhill from this point. heh. Apparently, in the dark and heat of the moment, the only person who remembered who was spotting the airplane was Erich. He was not rushed. Well, he wasn't rushed until Nick's assumption that I was spotting became set in stone; he climbed out the door and stood hanging onto the outside of the aircraft. I figured that with Nick climbing out, he must be spotting. The pilot saw the climbout commencing and powered the airplane back about the same time that Erich figured he was late and had assumed wrong. He rushed forward to the door (only about two feet in the small plane) and yelled "Ready!" Time to go, so "READY, SET, G...."

We joined with the blackness. The exit came off with the three of us as a piece (holding hands, if you will). With the glow from the chemlites, I could see Erich's goggles dancing above his head in the 120 mph wind. OOPS.

We broke off higher than planned due to Erichs vision problem (talk about dry eyes). I followed him as he tracked away until he opened up. I was worried about him. That and I had noticed that we were not over the drop zone.

After we landed in the pitch black, we gathered together (this took a bit) and started the walk of several mile walk through the desert to find the target. Somehow on landing Erich had managed to strike some kind of lean to building about the size of an outhouse. His leg was also sore because it was tangled with a seat belt as we left the aircraft.

We had plenty of time to debrief our predicament during the walk. Everybody thought it was someone elses fault. In the end, they blamed me. For years following, when I would see Nick, he would shout in a crusty English accent, "THAT'S ABOUT IT!"

And there is one vote for following procedure and plans for communication.


Bystanders say the darndest things

Argh. I just finished doing this via the blog this button, but suddenly... zappo... gone. CRAP.

So three guys walk into a store in York Pennsylvania today. As a part of the robbery they have undertaken, they shoot the uncooperative owner. Another employee opens up on the perps; one of them is hit 4 times with a .45.

That has got to hurt. Sure, you can get a chuckle out of the guys leaving the victim there and rushing their buddy to the hospital. The police note their passing and follow them.

What I found interesting (especially that the quote was reported this way) was this quote from a resident on the street:
"It's a shame that people are out here shooting in broad daylight," one
woman said. She shook her head as she walked up the street toward her

What the heck?

Monday, September 26, 2005

I am a parking lot menace

I've been thinking about posting this for a couple of days. It is not newsworthy, just funny--strange.

As you may know, I drive the second largest (or some such) private vehicle on the planet. A diesel quad cab regular bed Chevy Silverado pickup. I also work in an office building where 50% of the census aspires to driving hybrids or minis. Generally, I park on the top floor of the structure. That, coupled with the long walk, usually means I am in no one's way (and I avoid hearing the zipper sound of ripping fiberglass).

Well, the management of the building had chosen to clean and resurface the top floor, so my parking options lessened for several weeks. I pulled the bike racks off of the top so I could squeeze into the sandwich levels without mayo to reduce friction. Not wanting to push my luck, I chose the long walk spot, right by the entrance.

When I went home last Thursday, there was an index card with a hastily scratched note on my windshield. Expletives, invective and an implied threat of hit and run; apparently, my vehicle was a hazard to navigation in this persons (small) mind. Then, the adrenaline hit.

I guess it is a blessing that the note was unsigned. I thought of lots of things to say. Then I took a moment and a deep breath and went home. I showed my wife the note, and we talked about it. In the end, my response came down to choosing the lesser of two evils, I guess. I chose to park elsewhere, judging that had someone decided to scratch, dent, fold, spindle or mutilate my sheet metal; it would've cost more than giving in. ...And I forgot about it.

Until I came down to go to lunch with a friend hours later and found another hand scrawled note. This time it was a yellow postit in a different hand. The gist of the note...why did I let myself get pushed around by that other person. Augh. Can't win sometimes.

I will continue on my merry way in the knowledge that should I choose to do some pushing around, my 8000 pounds of Chevy could do the trick. Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry (Bill Bixby-The Incredible Hulk).


Friday, September 23, 2005

AbbaGav - An Israeli Dad's Commentary, Entertainment for the Easily Amused

AbbaGav - An Israeli Dad's Commentary, Entertainment for the Easily Amused

Thursday, September 22, 2005

jetBlue. French airplane steers waaaaay left

Last night, on every channel, the story of a dramatic landing of a jetBlue Airbus320 made the newscast with multitudes of helicopters and "expert" commentators.

Third hand, I offer via link, a jetBlue pilot's synopsis; and then, my own description.
I spend some fun time at home hanging out on aviation forums. As unique as this situation was, it was not the first time it happened. What occurred was actually the planned series of events.

Judging by the comments from a jetBlue pilot who posted, there is a seperate nose wheel steering/braking control computer. As the landing gear are retracted, the computer auto-centers the wheel assembly. Pointing straight ahead, it fits into its little low-drag hiding place. If that computer fails:

A. The gear will not retract
B. The wheel assembly will rotate so that it is perpendicular to the aircraft's direction of travel. So you say, that sounds weird, why would it do that?

Airbus long ago surmised, and it makes perfect sense to me, that grinding the nose gear to a nub was preferable to a fast an uncontrollable turn in whatever direction on landing. Ugh.

So what is my point. Look at Air America Radio (ht: Michelle Malkin) or Cindy Sheehan (previous post). Even Justice Ginsberg (ht: Radio Blogger). If you steer too hard to the left, you don't get closer to your goal; you just get smoke, fire, a heck of a story on the news, and the grateful prayers of millions that nothing more happened.

Cindy Sheehan bus trip climax...

and the media's hopeful reporting make me chuckle. Via LGF, in the first paragraph of the article excerpted, notice the phrasing:

Three weeks after leaving their dusty outpost in Crawford, Tex., and
touring the country, several dozen families brought their antiwar message to the
U.S. Capitol and the White House. They plan to join thousands of protesters
Saturday at a march ...

Judging with a cynical eye, several usually means more than two, thus there were 25 families? Also, we know that if your entire family were killed off save for you, you would be your family; thus, one times 25 equals 25 people. Are you following me? OK. Well, that is close.

Mrs Sheehan was joined by about 30 supporters in her

Check the photos and see if the photojournalist or editor wanted us to know there were only 30 people. I notice right off that the dimensions of the pictures changes a fair bit and they are all focused tightly on the crowd.

So here is what I will begin assuming. If there are any articles about amazing protests, I will look at the photos and whichever photo shows the most people, I will take that for the amount of protesters. Doing otherwise would be placing trust where it doesn't belong.