Archive for October, 2007

Job Duties for the Day

30 October 2007 at 10:18 pm
by Jonah

My job lately has been feeding the animals, something Michele usually does, but she’s still recovering from foot surgery she had three weeks back. She’s doing great, but she moves a little slower with a big surgical boot on her foot.

This morning I went over to the grain barrels and lifted the cover, but before I could start counting out scoops of grain into a bucket, I stopped and looked around. My buddy the cat usually hangs out in the barn, but he (or she, since I have no idea what sex it is) was mewing from by the house. I stopped and listened. It was a plaintive, troubled mew. “Cat?” I said, “Are you okay? Where are you?”

I walked over to the deck and looked underneath, thinking he might be hurt and stuck under there. He kept mewing, then stopped when I stuck my head under the deck, then started again when I stood back up again. “I can’t see you,” I apologized and went back to my grain scooping.

One of my duties is to feed the chickens and the peeps, who were tiny in August but have grown big enough so that my buddy the cat probably won’t try to eat them.
They’ve been cooped up in a brood box inside the hen house the whole time, but Michele decided last week that we could open the top of the box and let them get out if they wanted to. One brave speckled peep immediately fluttered out and started exploring.

Today was the first day that NONE of the peeps were in their brood box when I came in. I have to be careful because the brave peep always wants to try to get out the door to the outside world, but I happen to know that she’ll quickly be chicken dinner for a certain Flemish Bouvier named Grungie. When I go in the hen house in the morning, I shoo all the geese and chickens out the little door to the outdoor portion of the coop and then put a bucket in the doorway so they won’t come in, because I’m scared of the geese and the rooster. Then I refill the peeps water bottle if they need water and give them some 4-way grain. They think I rock. They mob me like I’m a rock star and peck inquisitively at my boots, peeping the whole time. After I’ve made sure there’s enough food for everyone, I gather whatever eggs are lying around, remove my protective bucket from the chicken door, and try to extricate myself from the hen house without any of the peeps escaping, Kittie, the Australian Shepherd, from darting in to look for any eggs I’ve missed, or the geese returning and screaming geese cuss words at me. I stole two of their eggs last week, and I think they’re still sore. Boy, are those things big!

Since all of the peeps were out of the brood box, and I’m not convinced they all know how to get back in, I try to keep plenty of water within easy reach in the water buckets the rest of the poultry use. I’m afraid they won’t know how to perch on the edge of the buckets and lean over to get a drink. So I hooked up the hose, turned on the water, and went down the hill to get the other end. We always stretch the hoses out to drain after we use them in the winter, because otherwise they’ll freeze solid and become useless.

I was trudging back up the hill with the business end of the hose when Michele called to me from the back door asking if I would take her offering to the chickens with me. Her offering was the remains of canning beets the day before. Then she turned and looked up. “Oh, the cat is on the roof.” Sure enough, right above her, the cat was perched at the edge of the gutter, stretching his neck toward her and pleading with her to bring the ground closer. “How are we going to get her down?” Michele glanced at me.

“I’ll get him down,” I said, taking the chicken offering.

“How are you going to do that?”

I shrugged, “I’ll think of something.”

“Okaaay,” Michele said doubtfully, but she hobbled inside anyway.

That’s why the cat stopped mewing whenever I ducked under the deck. He couldn’t see me anymore from up on top of the roof.

I dumped the beet carcasses between the chicken wire, and the geese’s screaming turned to more of a honking-with-food-in-your-mouth kind of sound as they dug into the tasty, red garbage. Then they hopped out of the way quickly as I squirted water into the first of the water buckets. When I had filled them all, the peeps hurried to the shallowest and gulped down muddy water thirstily.

Next I turned my attention to the cat, who was above the gas grill, tentatively poking a black paw out into the air, trying to judge the distance down. I looked around and decided the extension ladder was the way to go, propping it up on the gutter. I climbed up to the roof line and called coaxingly to the cat. He said he was glad to see me but the grill was just too far away. I told him to come over to where I was, but he was too busy telling me what a pickle he was in. So I climbed up onto the shingles and walked over to him. He happily rubbed up against me like he does every morning when I feed him and let me pick him up and carry him back over to the ladder. He’s one of those cats that doesn’t mind being picked up and actually seems to crave it. For the first couple months I knew him, he would throw himself into my arms every time I came into the barn, whether or not I was paying attention to him. After being thrown back behind some hay bales (gently) a few times when I was too busy to be petting him, he stopped that and was content to bat at the baling twine when I cut loose a new bale or just sit at my eye level and tell me good morning over and over again.

To remount the ladder, I put him back down on shingles, where he looked at the narrow steps and said to me, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

I told him, “Don’t worry, I’ll carry you down.” We did a little dance while I tried to pick him up without freaking him out and he balanced a desire to be close to me with a wariness of being pulled too close to the edge. Finally, I got a good hold around his belly with two hands and climbed down holding him away from the ladder so he wouldn’t panic and try to reach for it. When we got close enough to the ground, he started doing his cat wiggle to get loose, so I lowered him to about a foot above the deck and dropped him. He turned and gave me a satisfied mew, then ran off to find his breakfast, while I put the ladder away.

Bear II

One week left.

28 October 2007 at 9:07 pm
by Berck

I’m getting a bit lonely here and missing Joanna, but it feels like the end is actually in sight. With any luck, I should be on a plane headed to Colorado Springs on Friday evening.

Finally got our tests back from Friday. Everyone passed, and I did indeed get another 100%. One more 100% to go, but it’s a heck of a lot possible questions.

We were supposed to go work emergency exits this evening, but it turns out there wasn’t an aircraft available. So we went over the 10th and 14th stage bleed air systems, pressurization and air conditioning, with the hope of hopping on an aircraft sometime tomorrow.

I did laundry at Todd’s for hopefully the last time and ate too much Indian food. I’ve been trying to do a lot of studying this afternoon, but there’s so much of it, it’s hard to even know where to start. I think I’ve got a good basic handle on things, but there’s still a long way to go. And I don’t think I’m going to be doing much of it tonight, what with it being 8pm and class in the morning. He was nice and pushed it back to 7:30am just for tomorrow, so hopefully my alarm won’t seem so insanely early.

I’d forgotten how much I hate shaving.

Limitations Test Tomorrow

25 October 2007 at 10:08 pm
by Berck

I’ve got all 100 pieces of information memorized. I’ve taken the test every night this week, and scored 100% the last three times. I don’t think I could be better prepared. If I miss one, I just might shoot myself.

The more difficult test will be the 60 question multiple choice test next friday. I plan to spend most of Saturday studying. We’ve got a couple hours of class and emergency door pulls (where we go out to an airplane and open all the emergency exits) on Sunday. Even on that test, I only need an 80% to pass, which can’t be too hard. Of course, my goal is to ace it. Studying enough to get an 80% and studying enough to get 100% are two entirely different levels of studying. The latter requires some insanity, I think. But, I’m going to have to pass a long oral examination just before sim training starts, so the better prepared I am now, the better I’ll do for that.

I haven’t even started on learning the Emergency Procedures checklist, but it doesn’t look like that’s at all required until our oral exam. So Joanna will be helping me with that one:) Having someone to quiz you makes these things easier.

A local ALPA (Air Line Pilots Association, ie, our union) rep met with us this evening. An hour long presentation with a question and answer session in one of the banquet rooms in the hotel, with a nice steak/salmon/pork dinner. I went for the steak, which wasn’t burned, but wasn’t red in the middle either.

Our rep is, of course, a Mesa pilot. He’s an FO currently finishing up captain upgrade training. He confirmed many of my worst suspicions about how bad working for these guys is going to be, and even pointed out ways in which its going to be worse than I could have imagined.

To sort of illustrate how bad it’s gotten: our contract became amendable (it doesn’t really ever expire) in September. The union let management know in June that they wanted to begin negotiations and got no response. The company finally responded, but hasn’t let union negotiator-pilots on their union-required leave to negotiate.

I suspect I won’t be at Mesa when the new contract is finally hammered out.

More books!

25 October 2007 at 6:55 pm
by Berck

And I get to carry all of them around with me.

10, 20, 30 Years Ago

24 October 2007 at 10:52 pm
by Jonah

I’ve been tagged to report what I was doing 10, 20, and 30 years ago.

10 years ago, I had recently finished college and was teaching my younger brother an American history course by driving and camping up the East Coast and down the Appalachians, visiting every fort, battlefield, museum, or other historic spot along the way. We even visited Cara, who graciously put us up while we exhausted every item along the Mall. We headed east from Mobile to St. Augustine, where it all began, and made our way all the way to Maine before heading back again. We even attended an amazing re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam, the largest re-enactment up to that time and still the biggest re-enactment of that battle ever. To make it to the pre-dawn beginning of the second day’s re-enactment, we dozed in a rest stop because all the campsites within a huge radius of the event were all taken already.

20 years ago, I was in my second year both of homeschooling and living in Colorado Springs. My family was very involved in our church and the local homeschool support group, probably the largest in the country at the time. We made frequent trips to the state capital to lobby to legalize homeschooling (folks were getting prosecuted for truancy at the time), and Mom wouldn’t take us to the store during school hours, lest someone ask too many questions. I was foundering around with algebra and reading the first books that included romance that I truly enjoyed.

30 years ago, I was enjoying being a big sister, finally having a younger sister to play with, although she just wouldn’t grow up fast enough! I watched Captain Kangaroo in the morning and in the afternoon Mr. Rogers and “Sunny Days” (though my mom would insist it was called “Sesame Street,” I knew better). We lived next to the Cummings; Mr. Cummings would call me “George” for some reason. Behind and catty-corner to our house was the Reeses’ who went to our church and we were really good friends with. Amy Reese, who would have been one and a half at the time, called my sister Stephanie, who would become her best friend, “Nanny” and me “Nana.” So I guess I’ve been Nana for a long time; my little brother called me that for a while, and my nephew Elliott calls me that now. My very favorite thing to do was to go over to my friends Cara and Janna’s house and play some bizarre combination of “house” and “good guys and bad guys” and make stroganoff out of mud and privet berries and feed it to the zoo animals. Get three big imaginations from three little people, and you can occupy yourselves for hours.