Archive for December, 2005

Just a reminder…

31 December 2005 at 1:16 pm
by Jonah

For those of you who might be visiting the blog for the first time in a while, if you register (it’s really easy), you can see posts only registered users can see. (We have to do this because of the nature of Berck’s job.) Go down to the bottom of the column on the right.

The 2005 Nachzen Letter

31 December 2005 at 1:12 pm
by Jonah

Here’s this year’s second annual Nachzen Letter:

Yes, it’s that time of year again…

The Best of 2005 Nachzen Letter

The big news this year is that we’re in Colorado! But we suppose we should explain…

The beginning of 2005 saw Berck becoming increasingly exasperated with his flight school in Norman, Oklahoma, as a combination of inclement weather and broken planes kept delaying his completion month after month…turns out there’s a reason it’s the cheapest flight school in the country. In the meantime, Joanna was still plodding away at her warehouse job. The hours were still too long and the pay too low, but we were grateful for the income. She even got promoted from “puller” (taking product off the shelves to be sent to the retail stores) to “in-checker” (putting product on the shelves…or as Berck liked to call her, a “pusher”) and then to “inventory specialist” (trying to find the product that is supposed to be on the shelf). Finally, she volunteered to be a “mover,” supervising part-time help building new shelves and moving product to a new part of the warehouse. A year and a quarter after starting work there, Joanna’s boss offered to move her to a cushy office position.

Right about that time, Berck was only a check ride away from getting his last rating. He asked the chief flight instructor if he were looking to hire new flight instructors, but the answer was an unexpected “No.” Berck started sending resumes out to flight schools all over the country. He even sent one to the United State Air Force Academy. We had a good laugh…like they would hire someone, with no experience and a ridiculously low 215 hours flight time, to teach America’s finest!

So imagine our surprise when Berck got an e-mail from them asking him to come out to Colorado Springs! Things suddenly started happening very quickly. Berck finished his final check ride on Wednesday, August 10, drove out to Colorado on Thursday, had the interview Friday, drove back on Saturday. Joanna went into work on Monday, told them she was moving (and couldn’t take that office job after all), we drove back out to Colorado on Tuesday, fell in love with the very first apartment we looked at on Wednesday morning, and drove back to Oklahoma on Thursday. By the next Thursday, we were unloading a Budget truck into our new home. Whew! To make things even more exciting, we found out later that Berck’s flight school in Norman had an eviction order to vacate its building on August 15th; it is now closed (looks like for good).

Instructor PilotBerck is enjoying flying in way cool, fully maintained Diamond Katanas, fitted with sticks instead of yokes. He must stay constantly alert as today’s future fighter pilots attempt to endanger his life. He has to be at work at 05:30 a.m. every other day, but he gets to wear flight suits to work (Berck calls them “pajamas”). He technically works for Embry Riddle, which has the contract to teach cadets how to fly. Berck is currently taking advantage of their program of free online college classes for employees.

Joanna, meanwhile, has been hired by her old friends Duncan and Michele, in whose horseback riding program for kids with special needs she volunteered for many years. Duncan is an attorney specializing in property development, and Michele is a headhunter specializing in technology companies. Joanna specializes in being a Girl Friday to both of them, doing everything from proofreading corporate bylaws to web development to running errands. It’s definitely a step up from her last job. And she gets complimentary smoothies for lunch each day!

We love our two-bedroom apartment in the foothills of Colorado Springs, often enjoying nature right on our doorstep. It seems like a palace compared to our tiny, one-bedroom in Norman. And with two incomes, we feel like royalty (except for those student loans from flight school). We are loving the snow when it falls and the mountains when we go exploring. Feel free to drop by…we have an air mattress and a whole study to put it in!

Berck and Joanna


30 December 2005 at 8:56 pm
by Jonah

Berck and I were switching out the master brake cylinder on the Miata today and had to run to the auto parts store for a wrap-around wrench. I noticed a pick-up truck parked across the street with its reverse lights on. Inside a man in his twenties or thirties was staring at the daycare center next door to our building. I thought that was weird and wondered what he was up to.

Then I thought I’ve been watching too much Veronica Mars.

When we returned, the pick-up was still there. A couple of Mexicans are putting together a new playground set in the daycare’s back yard. Another Mexican yelled rapidly into his cellphone, pacing around in the daycare’s parking lot near his running car before getting in it and driving away. We went back to filling the new master brake cylinder with brake fluid, when a patrol car pulled into the daycare’s parking lot and parked in one of the empty spaces. A tall, lean policeman with a blond buzzcut approached the Mexicans. They immediately pulled out their wallets and produced cards, which they handed to the officer with ingratiating smiles and hunched shoulders. I thought it was very strange for the Colorado Springs police department to be out looking for illegal immigrant workers. The officer glanced at the cards and started asking the men questions. We were too far away to hear what they were saying. The officer stuck around talking to the guys for quite a while, though I don’t know for how long. I got cold and went inside.

This afternoon I heard an aircraft flying circles over the apartment. I looked out the back sliding glass doors but couldn’t see it. I thought it was strange because although we have lots of little aircraft flying just north of here (all those planes that use Berck’s airport), they don’t fly quite this far south. And besides, it’s Christmas vacation. No one is flying there.

Tonight I heard the airplane again, and went outside to have a look. Out in the open air, I could hear the rotors beating of a helicopter, not a plane. Berck and I decided it was a police helicopter, since it had lots of red lights and was shining a search light. It’s currently flying in a pretty tight circle just to the west of us, aiming its search light in the center of the circle the whole time.

I’ve searched all the local news websites, and I can’t find any information about any of this. Are they searching for someone? A Mexican? Right near our house!

I made sure the door and front window are locked.


28 December 2005 at 11:05 pm
by Jonah

Last night we enjoyed the most expensive dinner I think I have ever eaten.

We went to the Craftwood Inn in Manitou Springs. Started off with some bottled Colorado spring water…you would think it would at least have bubbles in it. When we finished that bottle, we switched to regular tap water with ice cubes. Cynthia had a glass of pinot grigio, and Berck had a glass of Chivas. I was driving Arthur (the only one of our two cars all three of us could fit in at once) home, so I only participated in the sharing of an excellent bottle of Malbec.

Appetizers were venison sausage and cheddar stuffed mushroom caps and some baked mozzarella on toast with a delicious sort of chutney. Then Berck got his soup and immediately informed us that, if we were smart, we’d order some as well…crab and artichoke bisque, in which you pour a little sherry glass of something sweet and alcoholic that makes it taste amazing.

For the main course, Berck and Cynthia each ordered elk steaks. I got filet each of elk, venison, and antelope. The venison was especially tender. These were accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes, a mouth-watering stuffed tomato (even Berck raved about his), some what we could only guess was millet couscous, and pile of still crisp but wonderfully flavorful slices of zucchini, bell peppers, and other veggies.

Berck ate everything on his plate and the rest of what was on his mom’s. Then he ordered crème brûlée and some Grand Marnier. “I think I impressed the waitress,” he said, smacking his lips happily after the last of the food had been consumed.

We had made reservations for 5:30 when they opened, but by the time we left, the parking lot was full of expensive cars. I think Arthur may have felt a little out of place among the Mercs.

There are pictures of some of our other adventures during Cynthia’s stay under Photographs.

Quote of the Day

24 December 2005 at 10:18 am
by Berck

“I’m up for new experiences. And that includes wearing sequins on my butt.” –Cynthia