Archive for July, 2008

Eli’s Olympics

23 July 2008 at 4:59 pm
by Jonah

Eli leaves next week for China. We’re all very excited.

USA Today had an article today taken from Eli’s blog post. They’ve also got his blog on their Sports page with a cool picture of him.

Notes from a deadhead.

19 July 2008 at 7:24 pm
by Berck

[Deadhead means a flight where one is on duty, in uniform, and traveling on company business, generally for the purpose of being in position to work another flight. It does not mean simply being an airline employee traveling on an airline, like many people seem to think it means. That is, I’m not deadheading when I’m commuting.]

While on reserve, one gets to see what’s perhaps the roughest side of an airline operation. Last week, I was assigned for a trip to DCA where I would deadhead to DCA, and then work a couple flights from DCA-JFK-DCA. After taxiing around JFK for 4 hours, the flight was canceled. They still wanted to us to do the DCA-JFK leg, though. So we sat around waiting for a dispatch release and passengers for a couple of hours. We were out at a remote pad, rather than a real gate, so everything had to be bussed out to us. Two busses of passengers arrived at one point, but it turned out they were traveling to DFW, not DCA. Eventually, it became apparent that we would be unable to complete the flight before reaching our maximum 16 hour duty day, and so the flight was canceled. I got back to Sydney’s apartment at 2am that “night”, and had to be back at the airport at 8am. Which meant that I got less than 4 hours of sleep.

This week I started off with a fairly innocuous trip to Buffalo. The flight to Buffalo, in the afternoon, was over 3 hours block time. 45 minutes of that was flying.

These problems have been mostly caused by thunderstorms. In the summer, thunderstorms cause reroutes and delays at airports they’re over and can wreak havoc with an already over-extended air traffic control system. The result is that planes sit on the ground, which is better than etching circles in the sky until they run out of fuel, which also happens with some regularity.

Thus far none of it has bothered me much, other than the lack of sleep. While I feel bad for the passengers, I’m not terribly upset when we don’t make it to where we’re going on time. Since there’s nothing I can do about it, I do my best not get upset about it. I do what I can to get us places as quickly as possible, but unfortunately there’re not many options. The airlines have really boxed themselves into a difficult situation by operating so many regional jets in and out of airports that simply cannot accommodate the volume of traffic. Smaller jets means more flights, which means more delays. It also means a job for Berck, and it’s hard to get upset about sitting right seat in a jet when so many people with so much experience are finding themselves out of work at the moment. I think it’s probably just a matter of time until I find myself unemployed as well. My employer has never furloughed anyone before, but these are trying times. The current business model of the airlines is simply not sustainable with current oil prices, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the long term, the nation is forced to return to a government regulated and subsidized market.

I was scheduled for a JFK-BNA round trip today. I woke up at 6am to get to the airport in time for my flight. When I arrived at the airport, I logged on to the scheduling website first thing to print a copy of my schedule for the day. Only to notice that it had been changed, and the Nashville flight had been “downgraded” to an ERJ. (I have no idea why, but for whatever reason the company decided to send an ERJ instead of a CRJ.) Since I’m not an ERJ pilot, they told me to go home. Since “home” is Sydney’s apartment in Brooklyn, I was disappointed. They offered to let me sit ready reserve if I desired, and I told them I’d get back with them. I checked on my projected hourly totals for the bid period, which came out to 63. A 10 hour ready reserve shift would only pay 5 hours, which meant that I was still 2 shy of 70. Since I’m guaranteed a pay of 70 hours, sitting ready reserve wouldn’t result in my making any more money, so I decided to go back to Brooklyn.

When my phone rang. They had a DFW flight for me. Turns out the crew that was planning on going to DFW was late, and they decided to send us to try to make the flight on time. We did, in fact, arrive on time, amazingly, even though we left over half an hour late. Probably because of the half-hour allotted taxi, which wasn’t needed this morning.

I’m currently deadheading back to JFK on the return flight. We were held on the ground in DFW for spacing into JFK. The weather in JFK is clear skies, there’s no weather at all, but still, the system is unable to accommodate us. It was only a half-hour delay on the ground in DFW, but it looks like that’s just the beginning. We’re currently out over the Atlantic ocean in cruise flight. You don’t need much geography to know that the Atlantic ocean should not be between Dallas and JFK. I’m not sure how far off the coast we are as I can only see out the right side of the aircraft (we’re headed North), but there’s no land in sight. At least we’re not etching racetracks, though who knows if that’s to come.

My final schedule for the month of August (which, since my company works on 28-day bid periods, is July 27th-August 24th) is up on Facebook. I’m excited about the possibility more flying and less time in Brooklyn, though unfortunately not much more time at home.

Expelled

15 July 2008 at 7:24 pm
by Berck

I don’t watch propaganda movies, so I’m not going to watch Expelled any more than I’m going to watch Michael Moore. But, after reading an amusing article about the astounding contrary-to-fact claims in Expelled, I thought I’d mention this website for those who might be interested in the truth (or rather, lack thereof) behind Ben Stein’s claims: Expelled Exposed.

In short, Intelligent Design isn’t science simply because there are no hypotheses to be tested. Since there is nothing to test, there is no research being performed, and thus no work is being peer reviewed. Proponents complain that “the scientific community won’t take them seriously,” but they obviously don’t understand how it works. If you want to be taken seriously you need to come up with a hypothesis, test it, and publish your results. You don’t simply get to claim that, “The paradigm is wrong,” and get things changed. (Well, amusingly, Einstein was able to do this, but only because others were willing to go out and perform experiments, while mainstream science was simultaneously completely unable to detect the aether, resulting in some unrest.)

The most amusing thing I found on Expelled Exposed is that the Discovery Institute apparently once had lofty goals to actually do real science and then go promote it, acknowledging that if they failed to do the scholarly work first that they would merely be peddling propaganda. Amusingly, they haven’t produced any of the scholarly articles that they said would, but have instead moved on to movie-making. Which makes them self-proclaimed propaganda peddlers.

For those of you didn’t see it…

15 July 2008 at 9:17 am
by Berck

Jonah noticed this.

Tired.

11 July 2008 at 11:06 pm
by Berck

I just got back to Brooklyn from Maine. I’d never been to Maine before. I need to figure out which states I’m lacking now. I think I’m down to like Vermont, New Hampshire and Alaska.

I got to the airport at 6:45am for my 7am ready reserve shift. I was on duty until 5pm. At 4:15pm, they called me to go to Maine. At first, annoying. But then I remembered, “Hey, that means I get to fly a jet!”

And then we had a 1.5 hour ground delay before we could come back to New York.

I landed on centerline, with a perfectly acceptable visual approach with no electronic guidance at all back in JFK tonight. It wasn’t exceptionally smooth, but it was perfectly adequate.

Buffalo and back tomorrow. I was doing a DCA turn, but I got back too late for rest requirements.

Sleep now.