Archive for March, 2008

I made a cake.

28 March 2008 at 5:09 pm
by Berck

Jonah blew on it.

I passed.

27 March 2008 at 7:52 am
by Berck

It ended up being a joke, and took only about 10 minutes.

The guy before me took 2 hours. He said it was pretty tough when he got out.

The examiner is a self-proclaimed redneck with cowboy boots. Generally a jolly fellow who appears to have been giving check rides for quite some time. When he met us that morning, he asked if we knew how to spell success. “S-U-C-C-E-S-S,” my classmate said. “Nope. Not even close. S-C-O-T-C-H.”

I started by filling out a weight and balance form from a dispatch release. I realized I’d messed up when I went to plot the CG of the zero fuel weight, and got an index off the chart forward. About that time, the examiner walked back in, looked at me looking at my form, laughed, said, “I know what you did wrong!” “How could you know that quickly?” I asked. “You used basic operating weight in pounds, not adjusted weight units.” I fixed it, and he asked me some questions off the dispatch release. I didn’t know what the first two things he asked about were, but got the rest. He seemed content and got out the study guide I’d made. “Oh, you got my study guide?” I asked. “You made this?” “Yup.” He talked about how it was pretty good. I told him there were a few errors on it, and asked if he wanted an updated copy. “Oh, yes, please!” I emailed it to him right there. “Well, shit, if you made this damn thing there’s no point in me asking you questions off of it. What am I going to ask you now?”

He spent a couple minutes asking me General Operating Manual questions, but after I was able to rattle off the answers quickly, he decided I knew that and went to the walk around slides. There were 160 redundant slides in a power-point presentation. He started going through them. “These slides are bullshit,” he said, “I can’t stand them. 20 pictures of the same damn thing, and it’s not even the right airplane–look that’s a 700.” He stopped at a few points and asked some preflight questions. Asked a lot of questions like, “Can this thing be missing?” To which I answer, “I don’t know, but if it were, I would consult the CDL and notify the Captain.” “Yeah, yeah,” he’d say, interrupting my totally correct but useless answer, “No that thing can’t be missing…. Here, what’s that for?” After another couple minutes of that, he spent awhile printing out paperwork for my training folder, marked me down as “Oral complete,” and sent me home.

Oral Exam Tomorrow

25 March 2008 at 11:31 pm
by Berck

I’ve not been at all worried about this exam up until about, oh, two hours ago. I’m prepared; I don’t know why I’m worried. Maybe something to do with the thousands of pages of material, all of which is fair game, and which I cannot possibly hope to contain in my feeble little brain.

Good pilots deal well with stress. Do I deal well with stress? I don’t know. I’d like to think I do, but the truth is, I don’t think I generally recognize stress, until I’ve been affected for some time. I realized I must be stressed when after reading Jonah’s last post, I wanted to cry. That seems a bit excessive, though she did say she was trying to make it sad.

The nice thing about my exam being scheduled at noon tomorrow is that I don’t have to stay awake all night worrying that if I stay awake I won’t sleep.

It was hot in Phoenix today. High of 90°, with more of the same tomorrow. I guess it’s summer here already. It was nice in the Springs too–I drove to the airport with the top down, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s funny, every spring I morn the loss of the winter. I thought perhaps that living in Colorado would cure me of that, but not so far, it’s just made it worse, realizing that all the best snow is gone until October.

In case anyone is interested, it’s permissible to land my aircraft in 0.88 inches of slush. I really would like to know what goes through the minds of the folks who write this stuff.

Another day at work…

25 March 2008 at 9:53 pm
by Jonah

Michele is out of town this week, so I get to feed the animals. I’m a very popular person around 8 in the morning. The dogs greet me and run toward the backyard as I get out of the car. The cat joins them from his hiding place near the bay window, waiting for juncos to fly into the glass and knock themselves out, and he trots along with me, saying meow if I don’t pay enough attention to him. The ewes start baaing and don’t stop until I give them each their half flake of hay. Sparkle starts whinnying loudly until she gets her alfalfa. Jacob starts chomping at Sparkle from across the fence, making her scream even louder. The other horses wait expectantly along the manger. But the loudest noise is from the geese (and the one mallard who thinks he’s a goose and tries to make his quacking as loud as their honking). The geese don’t like me. They hate me. But they greet me just the same as everyone else. When I enter the barn, Mopsy the rabbit hops out into the open part of his hutch to get his alfalfa.

Today I had some new additions. When I entered the house, there was a box peeping from the counter. Inside were seven chicks. I put them in the brood box in the chicken coop, after enlisting the dogs’ help in chasing the geese from the inside of the chicken coop to the outside and placing a bucket in their little doorway so they couldn’t come back in and attack me. I made sure the peeps had a water bowl they couldn’t knock over with only enough water in it so they wouldn’t fall in and drown. I made sure they had some chick feed. I found the heat lamp with the 40 watt bulb in it and hooked it up to keep them warm through the night. Then I removed the bucket and let the male gray goose chase me out.

A family who is friends with the Bremers came over today and brought some friends of theirs. I agreed to show them around. We pet the horses, held the rabbit, played with the peeps, looked at the bees, fed the chickens, and I convinced Bear the cat not to run away from the kids (kids tend to hold him upside down) and let them pet him. I tried to catch the white lamb, but it was too fast for me. So I tried to catch Lily’s new black lamb but wasn’t successful until I gave Lily some alfalfa to munch, and then she was too preoccupied to try to protect her youngin’. The friend’s friend remarked, “Wow, what a great job to get to feed animals.”

At lunch I scooped seven scoops of grain into a bucket, sad because tomorrow I knew I’d only be scooping six. Winsome was being picked up by Nation-Wide Horse Transport in the afternoon to go live with Aunt Kristin in Idaho. I was there a year and a half ago the morning Winsome was born and held her still while she got an enema. A lot of foals have been born at the ranch, but she was my first. I would feed her mother in the mornings and catch and hold onto the daughter for a minute, getting her used to human touch. Lately, she was always happy to see me, as I often fed her. She never grew very big, and she wasn’t all that bright, but she’s a sweetheart. She was my baby.

This afternoon the company called and said they were about half an hour out. I told them to meet me at the end of the road because they couldn’t make the turn at the railroad tracks in the big rig. I went out to the paddock as Winsome looked at me with curiosity. She didn’t mind getting a halter put on her at all (that often means that you get to go in the yard and munch the lawn). Sweetie, her younger sister, tried to help by chewing on the lead rope’s metal clasp. She’s just a year old and still likes to taste everything. When I led Whinny out, I had to slam the gate on Sweetie, who goes everywhere with her big sister. They lived together for several months until Michele turned them out with the geldings and Abby, who all boss them around. They eat together and never go to one end of the paddock without the other.

As we walked down the driveway, Sweetie called over and over to Whinny. Whinny answered back softly once, but mostly she was very interested in where we were going. She crossed the railroad tracks without batting an eye. As we got close to Baptist Road, the truck pulled up and parked and pulled out its ramp. She wasn’t too sure about that. She tried to walk away from it by walking around me, but I just let her make a circle until she was right back where she started. Then she wanted to go up and smell and taste the truck. I guess she’s still in her tasting stage too.

“This is Winsome,” I told the young guy with tattoos and cowboy boots, as the cowboy with bad teeth set up the ramp. “She’s sweet but dumb.”

“How’s she load?” he asked, as the cowboy covered the ramp with a carpet and set up boards on either side.

“She’s never left the ranch! She was born here. She doesn’t know how to load.”

He sighed and deflated his shoulders. He told me later that they’d spent three hours today loading three horses who were supposedly “trailer trained.”

The cowboy came down and took her lead rope. She walked up the ramp like it was nothing at all. She didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to like trailers.

Backing into a stall was another matter, though. She hasn’t learned how to back and didn’t really want to start. The pushed and coaxed and leaned. The Clydesdale across the aisle kept trying to bite her, which might have helped her go the right direction. Finally, with brute force, they managed to get her back far enough to latch a halter chain, then put the bar in place in front of her. She was in a stall next to a stoic mule who completely ignored her. Better than the stallion on the other side of the truck who kept tossing his halter chains and kicking the side of the truck. She was the very last horse loaded on a full truck. They tied a net of hay next to her, and she chowed down eagerly, forgetting all slights. The guys patted her and put the ramp back up and declared, “She loaded like a pro! And she was little enough we could manhandle her into place.”

All the paperwork was in order. (I had to drive down to the vets to pick up the Coggins test results earlier in the day; I don’t know why they couldn’t fax them to me, since all they had was a fax of the results anyway.) I signed her release and told her goodbye. The truck backed up and turned around on its way to Idaho, and wherever the Clydesdale, mule, stallion, and rest of the horses were going. I walked alone back down the driveway. I passed a jogger going the other way on the Santa Fe Trail I’d passed going out with a horse. I wondered what she must think, me taking my horse for a walk, and then walking home empty-handed. As I came down the driveway, the horses all stared at me. I wondered what was going through their little horsey brains: she left with Whinny, and she’s coming back without her. But I gave them all hay, and they seemed to forgive me.

After all, this week, I’m awfully popular.

Today is my birthday.

23 March 2008 at 12:16 pm
by Jonah

This is the only time in my lifetime that my birthday falls on Easter. The last time it was 1913, and the next time will be 2160.

The only earlier Easter can fall (on the Western calendar, that is, as opposed to Orthodox) is March 22. The last time it did was 1818, and the next time is 2285.

Happy Easter to me!