Archive for April, 2008

Getting there

25 April 2008 at 2:28 am
by Berck

Well, the sim session tonight (Lesson 6) was far from perfect, but I think I’m getting there. The instructor said he didn’t see anything that would likely result in a checkride failure, but we didn’t do stalls today, which are still the thing I suck most at.

The sim malfunctioned and kept kicking off the autopilot at the end of my session, so I had to fly the VOR/DME to 22L without an autopilot. What’s funny is I’ve said to several people that this was the thing I really, really, didn’t ever want to have to do, and fortunately it’s not something I have to do on the checkride at all. It wasn’t as bad as I figured, if anything, it was probably more busy for Rob than me, as he had a lot to do. I left some of the step down fixes just a smidge late. I was pretty late getting the landing gear down and flaps out all the way (I damn near forgot to do it all together, that would have been embarrassing, though the gear horn would have sounded), but I did get it before 1,000 AGL. I’m starting to get the idea of how to lead the turn to final at 160 knots, and it seems like I can manage the non-precision approaches as long as I just dump the nose as soon as I’m somewhere near the VDP. It’s pretty hard to wind up high, and it’s a lot easier to recover from being a little low than a little high in a jet, as long as you’ve got the engines spooled up.

Our instructor said he was really happy with us today. Two sessions left and then the checkride, though it remains to be seen just when the checkride will be since we didn’t fly yesterday. Possibly on our originally scheduled off day, which is Sunday. I think I’ll be ready.

Listen to the Heartland

24 April 2008 at 5:38 am
by Berck

[Reposted from an email, in case it seems out of place.]

As I walk around this my corner of St. Louis, I hear Eddie From Ohio’s, “Adios, Lorena” in my head and I think, “This, this is America.” Out here in the Midwest, the only pedestrians are the lower class and the rare traveler like me who isn’t going to rent a car. Sidewalks are few and far between, the are are no crosswalks and certainly no walk signals. The lights aren’t even timed such that you can cross them as it seems like there’s always turning traffic in the way. This is America.

My dining choices within walking distance are the Steak and Shake, Waffle House, Denny’s, Arby’s, Rally’s Burger, Jack in the Box and Church’s chicken. My best option so far has been a local Pizza place that delivers to the hotel: Imo’s. They sell “St. Louis style pizza,” which, despite my being something of a pizza aficionado, is not a style I know. The pizza is surprisingly good, and actually somewhat unique. It’s actually somewhat Italian in its construction–a thin crust cooked quickly with somewhat sparse toppings. Despite being round, it’s cut into small three-bite squares. Somewhat salty, but high-quality ingredients and overall good flavor. It’s the sort of local color a traveler hopes to find.

Since the simulator was malfunctioning this evening, my partner and I walked down to the only bar in walking distance. We’ve been in there three times now, and are apparently regulars since we’re on a first name basis with the bartender. The beer choices are abysmal: Budweiser or Bud Light on tap along with paltry collection of domestic water flavors, plus Corona. I opt for a Corona while my partner picks one of the domestic flavors. The bar is full of cigarette smoke (and I wonder how many states still allow smoking in bars) and, even worse, it’s karaoke night. A large, bearded fat man bellows an off key and barely recognizable version of “Walking in Memphis,” and I try unsuccessfully to imagine him 10 feet off of Beale. After 10 minutes, I manage to adjust to the smoke content of the atmosphere and survey the dozen folks inside. I’m not sure why they seem to be having such a good time, but I suppose there’s something to be said for beer and company. After all, why am I here? My partner and I don’t have much in common. He’s quite a bit older than me, retired from the Army, Special Forces. We talk about airplanes and when we get bored of that, something inane. I’d picked a few political arguments with him earlier, but I wasn’t in the mood tonight. “This is America, right here, this bar,” I tell him. He pretends to understand and agrees. I wonder if he does. I wonder if he knows how much I hate this bar.

I think about the owner of the bar, and wonder if he likes the place. As I walk down the street later (I like how walking makes me notice, think), I contemplate each business. Each fast food joint, convenience store, car wash, car rental, payday loan establishment. I survey the sexy mannequins in the window of the kinky lingerie store. Since when are there sexy mannequins? This, this is America. This is my America. I’m glad it’s here; I’m even maybe a little proud of it, but I don’t think I like it.

I think a bit about self-important businessmen, who seemingly have no other objective in life but to make money. I think about the fact that I’m going to be transporting them from one self-important meeting to another, and that this, too, is America.

I think about the young black waitress we talked to at the Waffle House the other night. She has several kids at home. She takes care of them during the day and works at night. She asks what we do, and then tells us about the one time she she took an airplane flight, and how she didn’t like it because it hurt her ears. I wonder if she’s happy, but I don’t want to ask. I hope she’s happy; I want her to be happy. She cleans some dishes, and I study the employment application by the cash register. There’s a page with a “pre-employment test” on it. It requires a little basic addition. Then it has a 6% tax table, and asks you to figure out the total tax on several bills. Finally, there’s a few questions that ask how much change you should give a customer in a transaction–and I realize that a lot of it is simply trying to determine if the applicant can read and understand English. I wonder how long I could work at the Waffle House. The employment contract at the back explains how all employees are at-will employees and may be fired at any time. It also explains that employees may eat up to 2 meals a day at the Waffle House at a discounted rate. The meal credits will be deducted from their paychecks whether or not they actually eat the meals. I’m somehow astounded by this proposition: “If you work here, you will pay to eat here, whether or not you actually do.” This is America.

Private: Another delay

24 April 2008 at 2:28 am
by Berck

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Private: Day Off

21 April 2008 at 4:42 pm
by Berck

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Another Earthquake.

18 April 2008 at 10:42 am
by Berck

Another one woke me up this morning. I wasn’t as scared, once I finally figured out what it was, just really annoyed because I wasn’t able to fall back asleep.

So apparently the one last night was pretty significant, folks felt it as far away as Ontario.