Archive for March, 2009

Flying Beaver

23 March 2009 at 1:17 am
by Berck

I went to the Flying Beaver for (breakfast/lunch/dinner) today. The weather was a bit chilly, but the sun was shining for the second day in a row, so I couldn’t waste it by hanging out in my hotel room.

It’s about a 45 minute walk from my hotel, but Vancouver is astoundingly well set up for pedestrians. I had a sidewalk a comfortable distance from the road everywhere I went and there were crosswalks wherever I needed them. Even more astoundingly, drivers seemed generally used to pedestrians and properly yielded to me in crosswalks. Bicyclists in Vancouver are the biggest challenge to pedestrians. Despite the enormous bicycle lanes, they feel some strange need to bicycle up and down the sidewalks. I don’t mind bicyclists on the road. I do mind bicyclists on the sidewalks.

There are some pictures of the sea planes up in the gallery. I had a good, though not excellent pizza. The service wasn’t very good, but I was sitting out on the patio in the cold. I probably wouldn’t have minded the bad service, except it got very cold and it took the waitress about half an hour to bring my check. That, and she brought me the wrong beer. Despite the fact that I was quite cold despite being well-dressed, there were several Canucks out there in shorts.

My sim lesson last night went quite well. It was just me and the instructor, which got a little bit weird when it came to talking to Air Traffic Control… Since the instructor was both ATC and my non-flying pilot, he was doing a bit of talking to himself, which seemed to bother him a bit more than it did me.

I made a few silly mistakes, but overall thought I did pretty well, given that it was the first time I’d done the engine failure procedures. Most of the lesson was spent single-engine. Compared to the jet, the Dash is a beast with an engine failure. Since I’m switching from 12am to an 11pm schedule, it wasn’t immediately obvious, but I essentially had a day off. (I had a lesson at 12am on the 22nd, but the next one wasn’t until 11pm on the 23rd.)

Simulator Training Continues

21 March 2009 at 9:58 pm
by Berck

Last night (this morning?) went pretty well. Having a competent non-flying pilot made a world of difference. It was the sign-off lesson for non-precision approaches, and I didn’t make any mistakes that were too bad. I got behind the airplane at one point. I’d decided to descend, configure the airplane for landing, and execute a tear-drop course reversal for the VOR/DME approach all at once. It turns out that while that might not have been too difficult in the jet, it’s way too much for me to take on at once in Dash. Especially since the instructor had failed the autopilot, so I was hand flying. Had I done things one at a time, it would have been fine. Instead, I bit off a bit more than I could chew, and ended up calling for the flaps while we were going too fast.

The failures are getting a bit more complicated. Shortly after takeoff, I got a caution light for a #1 DC GEN. I figured that was no big deal since we’ve got another DC generator, plus 2 AC generators, and it could probably wait until after we got to a safe altitude, the autopilot on, and so on. I was correct about that, but right as we got to acceleration altitude, I got a DC BUS Caution, immediately followed by a #2 DC GEN, and about 20 other lights. The important thing to note was the DC Bus fault. Along with it, all of my 26V AC powered flight instruments went dark/flagged/kaput. Generally, you have to identify whether it’s a L or R Bus Fault by looking to see which DC Gen went out at the same time–unfortunately I was starting at a #1 AND #2 DC GEN light. Luckily, it only took me a couple of seconds correctly identify it as a Right DC Bus fault that just happened to coincidentally occur right after the #1 DC GEN failure. This is a highly unlikely scenario, but I called for the correct checklists. I did a pretty shoddy job of flying in the clouds while just looking at the standby instruments. Since they’re all on the Captain’s side, it would have made sense to transfer controls over to that side, but fortunately my non-flying pilot got the instruments back online before I killed us, but not before I managed to embarrass myself a bit..

After we finally got those two things sorted out, we had a R TRU HOT. This, in combination with everything else, was proving to be quite the bad electrical day. Fortunately, we got it all sorted out, and I got us on the ground. Hand-flying a non-precision approach down to minimums, of course…. ’cause that’s just how it is in the sim.

We completed the required parts of the lesson with a little time to spare, so I got the inroduction to tonight’s lesson: V1 cuts. I mostly had the callouts, but the yaw is a lot worse than it is in the jet. The good part is that the plane isn’t as scary without swept wings, but with big engines out on the wings, and an unfeathered prop hanging out there, I need just about all the rudder there is to keep the thing pointed straight. We’ll see how I manage to do tonight!

In other news, this was the first day I actually saw the sun in Vancouver. I was started to learn that there’s some awesome mountains to look at—they’ve been cloud-covered since I got here. It’d be great if the weather were nice during my days off next week when Jonah visits, but I’m not holding my breath.

Sim Lesson 4 Tonight

20 March 2009 at 11:06 pm
by Berck

Since Jonah didn’t come and amuse me, I spent my day off in the pub. Literally. I had many Caesars and pints of harp. I thought Caesars were just Canuckian Bloody Mary’s, but apparently they’ve got sort of clam juice in them too. I had 3 of them before someone pointed this out to me, so obviously I don’t mind. It does explain the flavor that I couldn’t quite account for. It doesn’t taste like clams, though.

I’ve never spent over 11 hours in a pub before, that’s got to be some sort of record. Rob, my sim partner from last year, accompanied me. We were just planning on getting lunch, but we didn’t have anything else to do, or anywhere to go, so we just stayed. There’s not much motivation to go downtown in weather like this. It stops raining occasionally, but the skies have been overcast continuously since I arrived. It’s been an entire work week, and I have yet to actually see the sun. The forecast is for more of the same.

My sim partner failed his oral for the second time last night, so he’s being sent home. I’m not sure what his fate will be, but the important part is that he’s no longer my sim partner. This is a very good, welcome, thing. I now have no sim partner, which is fine. It means that my instructor will be both running the sim and my non-flying pilot, which is fine. Tonight, though, one of the girls that was having some trouble asked if she could be my non-flying pilot. I magnanimously relayed the request, and it was approved. We went through callouts together, and she seems to have a pretty good grasp of what’s going on, so it’s a big improvement over my last partner.

Tonight’s the sign-off lesson for non-precision approaches… wish me luck! Assuming I pass, the hard stuff starts tomorrow….

The Vampyrical Life

19 March 2009 at 5:34 am
by Berck

Jonah should be here to amuse me, but she elected to contract a viral infection from her employers. I decided I wanted to be not-sick more than I wanted to see her, I told her to stay home. Normally, I view my immune system as impenetrable, but I don’t think it’s worth the risk right now. I won’t be able to make matza ball soup for her from Canada, though.

I woke up some time this afternoon, canceled my health insurance, showered, and caught up on my google reader feeds. I’ve gotten some good scrabble playing in, but consuming the internet is troublesome during the day because it’s so slow. Now that it’s 2:30am, I have it all to myself, and I can do things like stream Pandora. (Only after I tricked it into thinking I was in the U.S. because it’s apparently not available outside the U.S.) Usually I’d rather just listen to Radio Paradise, but they seem to be on some sort of reggae kick this morning.

My sole foray outside of my hotel room today involved a trip down to the Foggy Dew. I had several beers, “fries supreme”, and a “steak and Guinness pie”. This turned out to be an absurdly large amount of food, and I consumed all of it, even though there wasn’t any good reason to do so. I just can’t stand to throw away good food. The “fries supreme” turned out to be a sort of west coast poutine. French fries, covered in “a variety of Canadian cheeses” (at least, that what the menu said), bacon, sauteed onions and the whole thing was topped with gravy. I’ve never actually had poutine, and wanted to try it while I’m here. Maybe I’ll find the real thing somewhere while Joanna’s here.

The steak and Guinness pie was perfectly acceptable, though this sort of Irish food is never terribly exciting. I’m sure I’d do a much better job of it.

I’m considering deleting my Facebook account. I’m not sure I can explain why. Sometimes I toy with the idea of canceling my internet connection, too.

It’s funny, as recently as 5-6 years ago, I didn’t have any trouble staying up until 4am and sleeping until the afternoon, regularly. It was my natural sleep pattern–the only thing that seemed to change that was working at the air force academy. Some times I find adjusting my sleep schedule to be easier than others. I’m not having any trouble sleeping, but I am finding that I’m not alert at all alert at 4am like I need to be. Last night in the sim, while I was non-flying pilot, I felt my brain disconnect. I was completely unable to comprehend the things I needed to comprehend, in a very basic way. At one point I looked at the HSI and couldn’t tell which way we were flying in reference to the VOR that was tuned up. I just couldn’t figure it out. I’m not sure how much of that was simply that I’d been in the sim too long, and how much of it was due to the time of night.

I’m a bit worried about the next sim session which doesn’t start until 1:15am, and I’m slated to go second. That means I don’t start until 3:15, and don’t finish until 5:15. Yeah.

So, even though I could have gone to bed, and probably fallen asleep at midnight, here I am, awake at 4:30am. But I think that’s about all I can take for now.


18 March 2009 at 9:06 pm
by Jonah

The trick to E-Baying is to sell a bunch of stuff all at once. That way you won’t get discouraged when stuff doesn’t get a single bid, because you’ll be racking in so much money from officer club ashtrays.

The exception to this, of course, is selling identical items. If two people want the same thing, they’ll both drive up the price, whereas if there are two items, they can each get one for themselves cheap. As a guy at the fur auction said, “All’s you need for an auction is feller with money and another with guts.”

Michele’s been cleaning out the basement. A quarter of the basement is now lined with new shelves from Home Depot with a wide avenue between them. Until recently, it was tricky to walk in there at all. A lot of what was in there has ended up in the trash. A lot more has ended up in the downstairs hall. She threw out all the empty boxes I was collecting to ship the things she has me E-Bay. Then she told me to E-Bay three things.

One was a waterproof sock that you put over your leg cast and then pump it to make it watertight to you can swim in it. It didn’t work for her. It didn’t sell on the first try but then went for 99 cents on the second. Fortunately, I had a box the right size for it stuffed under my desk.

Have I mentioned that I compulsively save empty boxes? I have four on my desk at the moment, plus another one with an unknown number nested inside it, plus peanuts. I have a large box full of small boxes out in the outside storage room, but Berck has blocked it in, so I can’t very well get to it. I’m in charge of selling things on Amazon (which is even easier to use than E-Bay), and it’s very frustrating to be furiously searching for a box the size of one that your husband just threw out when you have to SOLD, SHIP NOW.

The two identical items Michele had me sell were two Iceman cold therapy units. They’re not cheap, so she was hopeful they’d bring in some cash. Only one of them had a power adapter, but I managed to find one that worked out of the power adapter drawer. I spread out a sheet, took pictures of both ensembles, and put one of them up to end on a Sunday night. The next Monday morning, it had sold for $29. I sent out an invoice, got paid, and shipped it out. Michele had been kind enough to save two boxes the right size for them. Got good feedback too!

Then I listed the second one. A week later it had sold for $73! Identical item. If I had sold it a week earlier, they probably would have both gone for $15. Or maybe $28.

Auctions are weird.

I have to say that E-Bay has made it a lot easier to ship things these days. Used to be you had to figure it all out for yourself and hope you weren’t losing money. Now you can just put it into the embedded shipping calculator. And when it’s time to ship, you just head over to PayPal, and it gives you a postage paid label to put tape on your package. Then you just drop it off at UPS or USPS.

I hope the last package gets there. I sent it to Canada, and the guy at the UPS store wasn’t sure how to handle the customs situation. We ended up taping a photocopied piece of paper on the side of the box listing the contents and value, which is all you should have to do.