Archive for July, 2014

Trip to Oshkosh – Day 4

29 July 2014 at 9:32 pm
by Jonah

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It rained all night.  The weather when we woke up was overcast and very soggy.  Uncle Stacy said he’d take the car back to the FBO and see what he could find out.  Berck and I went back to sleep and slept until housekeeping knocked on our door at 10 a.m.  Uncle Stacy called from the FBO and said that they’d said he could take the car back out again, provided we could bring it straight back if they needed it.  He returned to the hotel and picked us up, and we went to Cackleberry’s for a decent breakfast/lunch.

We decided to return to the FBO, since that was as comfortable place to hang out as any.  Berck and Uncle Stacy ensconced themselves in front of the weather computer at the FBO and just stared at the screen.  Finally, in the afternoon, it looked like we’d be able to thread our way through a line of thunderstorms to clear weather on the other side.  Then we’d be able to make it to Peoria and maybe even Rockford.  Flight Aware shows our track.

Berck shepherded the plane between two thunderstorms and along among the clouds, and then the weather cleared and we were able to to fly straight to Schaumburg.  Flying into Chicago airspace is tricky in a general aviation plane because you have to keep nice and low so the jets landing at O’Hare don’t crash into you.  Unfortunately, there are also towers on the approach to Schaumburg  that are higher than the altitude you’re flying .  There was a tense period when we knew were flying right at three huge towers but couldn’t find them on the sectional map.  At last we spotted the first one and navigated to the west of it.  Now the problem was finding the runway.  Because we were so low, we couldn’t see much of anything, much less a runway.  To make matters worse, the runway was perpendicular to us and was behind buildings and tall trees.  Berck spotted some hangers and decided the runway must be next to them, so we flew in that direction.  Berck yelled, “There’s a freaking water tower at the end of the runway!”

To be continued…



Trip to Oshkosh – Day 3

27 July 2014 at 8:18 pm
by Jonah

Saturday, July 26, 2014.  Sydney took us to brunch at Monell’s, which is an old house converted into  a restaurant with huge tables.  They seat everyone family style and then just start bringing out  big platters/baskets of food: biscuits, gravy, cinnamon rolls, grits, home fries, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, country ham, pancakes, and fantastic fried chicken, with pitchers of coffee and sweet and unsweet tea, of course.  It’s all you can eat.  I had some of everything except the pancakes (I don’t eat other people’s pancakes).  Then we back to Sydney’s, and she showed us the holes she’s digging in her backyard “to look for treasure.”  She’s already found a buried glass ashtray and two cassette tapes.

IMG_3062 IMG_3063

We took off from Nashville and then climbed as much as we could to get to cooler temperatures. Scattered clouds were below us. As we approached Terre Haute, we descended below the clouds. The sky was now completely overcast, so we stayed between the clouds and pretty close to the ground. It was hazy, and you couldn’t see the horizon. Berck had me start helping him and Uncle Stacy keeping an eye out for traffic. But we got the airport without any trouble and landed.



We decided to stick around at the airport FBO and see if it cleared up at all. Instead, upon the checking the weather, it looked like the weather was just going to get worse and worse over night. Finally, Uncle Stacy called his cousin in Schaumburg to tell him we weren’t going to be getting in there after all that afternoon. Aunt Marisol got us reservations at a Clarion Inn. The FBO said we could borrow the company car as long as we brought it back by 8 a.m. So we piled into the Honda Pilot and headed over to the motel. We all took showers because we’d been hot and sweating all day then headed to Moggy’s Pub for their extensive beer list and the burgers…both were good. We asked our server if there was anything to do in the Haute since were inadvertently stranded here. He shrugged, “Not really. This is a college town. We’ve got three schools here. Drink?”


We continued to check the weather on Uncle Stacy’s iPad. Then we headed back to the hotel to retire. Berck and I went straight to sleep (after Berck checked the weather one more time) only waking up when his alarm went off in the morning. The air-conditioning wasn’t working in Uncle Stacy’s room, so he switched rooms, but his new room’s AC didn’t work much better. Fortunately, we realized we were back in Eastern Time.

Trip to Oshkosh – Day 2

27 July 2014 at 8:08 pm
by Jonah

Friday, July 25, 2014

I put on a motion sickness patch, that Uncle Stacy had prescribed, behind my ear before getting in bed.  Sleepiness is a side effect, but I kept waking up a lot.  I did sleep a lot in the plane later in day, but that may have been because we didn’t sleep very long that night.  Aunt Marisol made us quite the breakfast, and then we loaded up everything and drove to Leesburg Airport.  We swapped the car for the Piper Cherokee in the hangar, fueled up, and then were on our way.  We were a little concerned about the little Cherokee being able to take off with the three of us, our bags, and a full fuel load on a super hot day, but it rotated like a champ.


Uncle Stacy and Berck take turns with one person flying and the other working the radio and navigating.  I sit in the back, and if I’m behind Berck’s seat, I can put my legs down in front of me … kinda.  If I’m behind Uncle Stacy, I have to curl them up in the seat next to me.  The Cherokee supposedly has 4 seats, but you can probably only fit four very small, skinny people and no luggage and still be under gross weight.


The original plan had been to do a fuel stop in Montgomery, but the weather there was bad.  So we decided to stop at LaGrange instead.  We had to fly dodging clouds and finding holes to descend down to the airport.  Atlanta Center had been complaining that our transponder wasn’t showing our correct altitude, so we asked at the FBO if the shop there could take a look at it, because we weren’t going to be able to fly into the relatively busy Nashville airport without it.  The mechanics told us they didn’t have the correct equipment to test the transponder, and we couldn’t fly to Atlanta to get it fixed because we couldn’t fly into Atlanta airspace without it.  “But,” one of the mechanics said, “There’s a guy in Columbus, which is only 30 miles away, who should be able to.”  He called up the guy and told him we were coming.  “Go to Stark Aviation.”

So we got back in the plane and flew a few minutes in the wrong direction and landed at Columbus. An advantage of being in Columbus was that we could stay with friends of mine (that’s where I grew up) if the fix was going to take too long. The guy at Stark dropped everything and got right to work on our plane.  We went into the air conditioned lobby to wait.  Suddenly, Berck said, “I think this is the guy on the RV forums who’s always giving people really helpful advice… I bet it’s him!” He went back out to the hangar.  Sure enough. This guy is possibly the best avionics mechanic in the country, and we had just stumbled into his shop!  Berck watched him do his thing.  Apparently, the transponder’s pins had bent, so he just bent them all back into the correct orientation, and it worked great!  He showed Berck everything, which is nice, because Berck is going to be mounting avionics into the plane we’re building before long.  And he only charged us $95.

As nice as it would have been to see some friends in Columbus, if we’d gotten stuck there, The plan was to have dinner with Sydney in Nashville.

By now it was mid afternoon, though, and the thunderstorms were building.  We took off from Columbus just before it started raining, and then with the help of Columbus tower who called us to tell us we were heading straight into a cell, dodged thunderstorms in a roundabout route to Nashville.  We also got a warning call from Center saying we were on a path to bust some restricted airspace containing “live firing and fighter jets.”

We flew really high to try to get cooler, all the way to 10,000 feet.  It was nice and cool up there.  I read my book and fell asleep again.  It was also a really smooth flight, no turbulence, and I had my ginger ale and ginger snaps and didn’t feel any nausea whatsoever.

When we left Columbus, the weather over Nashville was bad, but by the time we got there it was fine.  The FBO gave us a ride off the ramp in a golf cart and told us they’d fill our tanks in the morning so we’d get the weekend fuel rate, a whole dollar a gallon off the regular price.  We called Sydney to come pick us up.  We dropped our stuff off at her house and then her boyfriend Shawn drove us, even though we could have walked, to Two Ten Jack (I requested it because of the mosquitos, and it was dusk).  Somehow, even though there was a line, we got seated immediately.  We shared all the sushi, yakatori, dumplings, etc.,  Everything was very good.  Then Berck wanted to stop by Bolton’s Hot Chicken, but unfortunately, the person in front of him had just placed an enormous order.  The hot chicken was still as delicious and spicy as ever.  Uncle Stacy had a strip, which he regretted the next day.  Then he went to bed while Sydney tried to teach us how to play Dominion (a beardless board game), while we drank beer and tried to get our lips to stop burning.

Here are pictures of Sydney’s pets:




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And even Jorge

IMG_3035…who is rubbing against my legs with his head pressed against the ground.


Trip to Oshkosh – Day 1

27 July 2014 at 8:20 am
by Jonah

Thursday, July 24, 2014


We really wanted to leave our car in Colorado Springs (because that was where we’d be flying into), and the fares weren’t much more to fly out of Colorado Springs and change planes in Denver for a direct flight to Orlando. But when we got up at 5:15 a.m., the flight was showing that it would be an hour late, and would get is into Denver after our connecting flight had already departed. Still, we drove to the Colorado Springs airport and got there really early anyway. The FBO that would be taking care of Uncle Stacy’s plane on our return trip let us park for free in their lot and drove us over to the commercial terminal. One of the staff members took chocks out from under their minivan shuttle before unlocking the doors for us.


The flight was still showing that it was late, which didn’t make any sense, since the weather was fine. So Berck went up to a United ticket agent to see what we could do. The next flight to Orlando from Denver wouldn’t get in until around 11 p.m., and we had planned to go say hi to Berck’s grandma and then have dinner with his mom and Uncle Stacy and his wife. The ticket agent typed furiously on his terminal and frowned at what he was seeing. Then suddenly he said, “Go. Go quickly to gate 11. There’s a flight leaving right now for Chicago. I’ll call the gate agent while you’re on your way. Go now!”


So we took off running. Fortunately, hardly anyone else was in the security line, and Colorado Springs hasn’t gotten any body scanners yet, so we didn’t have to waste time going through a pat down. When we got to the gate, the gate agent was also typing furiously at her terminal and frowning. “You’re in 1 Charlie  and 3 Delta,” she said. Berck asked her if she could print us new boarding passes. “No,” she answered, “This is all screwed up. I’m going to have to fix all this.” Berck asked her to at least right down the our flights on the back of his useless boarding pass, which she did, then we hurried on board. The guy sitting next to me graciously swapped with Berck so we could sit together. I slept for most of the flight while Berck started and finished one book and started another one.


In Chicago, we had a pretty long layover, so Berck let the way to an Auntie Anne’s for a pretzel (I watched them make them so I could copy their technique at home… I make really yummy pretzels from their recipe.) Then I followed him to Frontera Tortas, which, according to one magazine, is the number one airport restaurant in the U.S. We split two very good tortas and each had a couple of good local Chicago beers. Then we got into a huge argument about grammar.


Our flight to Orlando was completely full, except for the seat next to me… we don’t know why they seated us apart. And it was full of kids going to Disney World. But we got to Orlando fine, and Berck’s mom picked us up. We drove to Granma’s house and visited with her a bit, then continued to Uncle Stacy’s house, where Aunt Marisol had prepared us a fantastic dinner of steak and grilled peppers, zucchini, and corn. We were just eating dessert when three of Berck’s cousins,the K’s, arrived. Uncle Stacy and Aunt Marisol went to bed, and the rest of stayed up till almost 2 drinking wine and talking. One of the K’s had just gotten back from two years in the Peace Corps in Peru, and we got to hear a bunch of great stories.

La Vie d’Adèle

14 July 2014 at 7:55 pm
by Berck

or, as it’s stupidly known in the US, Blue is the Warmest Color. The original French title not only more suitable, it’s an obvious reference to La Vie de Marianne. Obvious, because Adèle is reading it in class early in the movie, and then encourages her new boyfriend to read it as well. I mention this first because I think the stupid American title negatively impacted my experience of the movie as a whole. You might argue that a title is largely irrelevant to a movie as a whole, but you’d be wrong. Especially during the first few minutes, when all you know of a movie is its title, you interpret everything you see through the lens of that title. The American title is a stupid lens, but through that lens, view it you will. [-Yoda, movie critic.]

I don’t pay much attention to movie reviews, but Jonah mentioned that I would like this movie because, “It’s basically just lesbian porn.” The reason she described it this way is that that’s how it’s been described but much of the popular American press. And I’m never one to turn down lesbian porn with a plot. But that’s not what it is.

To begin with, this is a 3 hour movie. If it were 3 hours of lesbian porn, I’d fear for (even the supposedly prosthetic) genitalia of the poor actresses. Of that 3 hours, there is, according to the internet, a 6 minute sex scene. Admittedly, 6 minutes is an awfully long sex scene. This is not a sex scene you want to watch with your parents. It’s intense, and if you ever wondered, “How do lesbians have sex?” this scene will answer it for you.

But it’s not porn, and the fact that the characters are both women is almost completely irrelevant to what the move is. Fundamentally, it’s an exploration of the agony of love. More subtly, it’s a surprisingly beautiful expose of Adèle Exarchopoulos’s face, especially her lips. Anthony Lane, in the New Yorker, gets it exactly right, “So much of this film is absorbed in closeups that, in regard to Adèle, it all but lays down a law: watch her lips.”

It’s easily the best cinematography I’ve ever seen. I’m perhaps a bit biased, because the film looks like I would have liked to have shot it were I capable of a such a thing (I’m not), but the closeups are amazing, and it’s all closeups.

Most strikingly, to me, is that it’s Monday evening. We watched this film Saturday evening and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It’s as literary as any film I’ve seen since American Beauty, and I’ll probably watch it again, even though it’s in French, which means excruciating subtitles. I speak almost no French, but the translations were terrible. I can only imagine how amazing this film must be to native speakers.

It’s not an especially happy movie. I can think of no movie with so many tears, and certainly no movie with so much snot. It was clearly a difficult movie to make. 750 hours of footage were hacked down to 3, and that must have been extraordinarily difficult, but nothing compared to the difficulty of acting for 750 hours.

In short, an excellent movie with the right amount of attention for all the wrong reasons. Recommended to those of you not afraid of well-earned NC-17 rating (must be because of all the cigarette smoking?). A.