May 2015

Vancouver, B.C.

So Earl, Jamie and I arrived in Vancouver, B.C. last night after our adventures on the flight from Atlanta. The flight was 2 1/2 hours late. We cleared customs, grabbed the rental car and went on a brief drive before heading to our hotel near the airport.

This morning I noticed that this hotel is great if you’re an aviation geek.


We leave on our cruise tomorrow, so today we are going to explore Vancouver a little bit and get acquainted with whatever one can do in Vancouver in 24 hours.

If they get me away from watching airplanes all day.

DL 1805. 

We are currently on a flight from Atlanta to Vancouver. This is our second attempt at flying to Vancouver today, about n hour into the first flight we had to return to Atlanta. The flight attendant in the back jump seat either didn’t put her seat belt on or did it improperly and slid out of the seat on take off.  Word is she broke two ribs. She had struggled through the safety briefing, using cue cards to recite the narrative. 

During the first flight another flight attendant asked for our patience because they were down one FA and the beverage service would be delayed. About 30 minutes later we were headed back to Atlanta. I didn’t think being down a flight attendant would fly that well. 

I noticed that during this crisis the flight attendants didn’t stick to procedure, there was no check of seat backs, tray tables or seat belts prior to landing. This irked me, because the flight attendants were acting on behalf of the captain and if I was captain of an airliner I would want to know that all my passengers were safe. 

We got back to the gate, the paramedics came on board and escorted the injured flight attendant off. Delta decided the pilots needed to stay behind as well, so a new flight crew, a new flight attendant and some more fuel was added and off we went.

The flight attendants again did not check for seat belts, tray tables or seat backs in their upright position.  There were at least four violations within my eyesight. The flight attendants walked back and forth several times like they were checking but they were just going through the motions.

If I’m ever just going through the motions as a pilot, please keep me on the ground. 

I didn’t say anything to the procedure violators or the flight attendants because I didn’t want to create a scene because I don’t want to get booted off the airplane, but I did contact Delta via Twitter and their app and shared my feelings with them.  I don’t know if it will make a difference but at least I did my part. 

Things happen, I get that, but what makes the friendly skies so safe is that you always stick to rules, procedures and protocols. That’s how pilots handle airplanes so well in emergencies.  Stick to what you know.

It’s a shame that the flight attendants on this flight forgot that. 

The Moral Direction.

So last night I decided to wind down a little bit before falling asleep by watching an episode of “The Secrets of Isis”. If you’re not familiar with this show, The Shazam!/Isis Hour was a Saturday morning staple on CBS in 1976 and 1977. There were two seasons of the show, for a total of 23 episodes. I was a fan of both “Shazam!” and “The Secrets of Isis”, though my interest was stronger in the latter. Andrea Thomas, Isis’ alter-ego, was the cool teacher that everyone wanted. She cared about her students, had the most amazing speaking voice ever and seemed like a genuinely nice woman. I like to think that Joanna Cameron’s real personality came through her portrayal of Andrea Thomas and Isis.

At the end of every episode, Isis broke the fourth wall and relayed the moral of the story directly to the audience. The Saturday morning show sought to teach the viewer something, whether it was bad to play with a gun if you didn’t know what you were doing, we should always strive to respect the environment or that race and differences in people were no reason to be judgmental, among many other topics.

Watching these morals, which are included as an extra feature on the original DVD release from the mid 2000s, reminds me that these messages had a profound effect on my moral compass as an adult. I try to respect the environment, I certainly strive to appreciate the differences in all of us and I never played with a gun until I knew how to properly shoot one.  I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that once in a while I might think back to what Captain Marvel on “Shazam!” or Isis would teach us to do when presented with a certain situation.

Of course, I found Joanna Cameron to be absolutely stunning in beauty in her looks, demeanor and voice. It’s no wonder that she at one time was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having participated in the most television commercials.  Ms. Cameron retired from acting in the early 1980s and found other ways to contribute to society, first in the home health care field and later managing hotels in Hawai’i.

One of these days I’ll have to venture out to one of her rare appearances at a Sci Fi convention and shake her hands as a gesture of thanks. She certainly had an impact on this kid.

The Facial Hair Conundrum.

I recently saw a friend that I haven’t seen in a couple of years. We were very happy to see each other as it had been much too long. As we shared hugs and conversation, he mentioned the fact that I am clean shaven. It’s not a look that he is used to on me. I gave him my standard answer when asked about the absence of my beard these days, “most pilots don’t have facial hair.” This was something that my Dad mentioned to me over 30 years ago during my first trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I know many of pilots with a beard or mustache, but I don’t feel comfortable amongst their number.

It’s not the first time that I’ve heard a comment about being clean-shaven. Back in the day I was known for my huge fireman’s mustache.


I thought about growing a mustache again but I’m not really feeling it right now. I love the attention that I get when people compliment the mustache but I’m not looking for attention these days. Getting that attention pushes me into a prideful mindset. I’m content with who I am and how I look these days. In the past it’s been rare for me to be able to say that.

I feel good. I think I look good. I’m a happy man.

IMG 1103

The Technology Invasion.

Anyone that’s had any sort of awareness of the 21st century has probably noticed that technology has permeated the life of everyone in some sort of a modern society. I sometimes wonder how my grandmothers would have enjoyed the likes of Skype and such but they moved on back in the days of AOL floppy disks so I never had the chance to see how their interactions with the Internet would have been. I think my city grandma still had a rotary phone in the kitchen, now that I think about it.

I’m digressing.

With technology everywhere, it’s easy to see that people are now becoming dependent on technology. It’s not uncommon to see a driver behind the wheel of a car in the dark without their lights on because the whizz-bangy doo-dads didn’t turn the lights on for them. This drives me crazy for many reasons, including the fact that it’s a safety hazard for the rest of us. Is it necessary to use technology to automatically turn the headlamps on? Shouldn’t the responsibility fall on the shoulder of the driver, not the computer?

There was recently an article in the LA Times that suggests getting rid of automatic flushing systems in toilets to could save California millions of gallons of water. I know that back in the day when these automatically flushing toilets came about that we were told it was better for the environment because the toilet could control how often it was being flushed. I don’t know about anyone else’s experience, but every time I use a public toilet that has the automatic flusher, it flushes two or three times as I move around in the stall trying to get my pants back up. If it was a manual system, like in the “good ol’ days”, I would have flushed the toilet once and that would have been it. If we figure three gallons of water per flush, that one incident would have saved six gallons of water right there.

Who’s idea was it to automate toilets, anyway? Have we become so lazy as a society that we need someone to flush our toilets for us? Have we become unable to use our foot to push down the flusher (because god forbid we use our hands.)?

Sharing information and having the world at your fingertips at all times in pretty nifty in many ways. But when people are more focused on their phones than on the world around them, who is benefitting from the advancement of technology? The user? The viewer? The ad companies?

I’m all for technological advancements, even in my middle aged years where I’m probably a little crankier than I used to be. But those advancements need a purpose. We should have a reason for implementing technology, not just throwing an electronic doo-dad in every thing we use and do because we can.


When Earl and I were in Pensacola Beach, Florida a while back, I dropped two drops of water from a glass on the trackpad on my laptop, a 2013 MacBook Pro with Retina display. I had promptly wiped the water off the trackpad, making sure that it didn’t seep into any of the corners of the trackpad, but to no avail, the trackpad took on a mind of its own and started spazzing out like crazy.

Many fix-it guides on the Internet suggested rubbing a cloth in a vigorous manner all over the trackpad for several minutes. Apparently this dries something out and then the trackpad will start behaving again.  It worked, and I was able to use my computer normally.

Until the humid weather moved in two days ago.

Now, whenever the humidity is high the trackpad loses its mind again. I vigorously wipe the trackpad surface with a cloth and things settle down to normal, but only for 10 minutes or so, then things are start going crazy again.

I decided it was time to be a good Mac boy and I made an appointment with the Genius Bar at the local Apple store. Earl and I are making a quick trek to the mall this evening.

While they’re fixing my trackpad, I’m going to ask them to replace the keyboard as well, as I had some pretzel dust seep into the keyboard a year or so ago and a couple of the keys are still crunchy. I’ve finally fallen in love with that computer, I want to keep it around for as long as I can.


Moving Forward.

So a couple of weeks ago another telecommunications company contacted me regarding my web application development skills via my LinkedIn profile. I’ve chatted with this company before, the woman that contacted me used to work at another location at my present company, a year ago they suggested I apply for a position that seemed perfect for me. I had just started my current position and I wasn’t prepared to relocate; so I declined the offer.

They contacted me again with a different sort of approach: I could work from home with routine trips to the Carolinas to meet with other team members. The benefits and salary were very enticing. The challenge sounded exciting.

Last Monday I formally accepted the position of Senior Consultant. I start my new job on June 8. I gave my notice to my current employer mid-week last week, my last day of my current position is officially May 29, but with the last week of pre-planned vacation, my last work day will be May 22.

Needless to say, I am very excited about this new chapter in my career. I will be traveling to South Carolina for my first week and it’s my understanding that my job will technically be based in Greenville, though I will be working from home. Even though the opportunity sounds incredible and the benefits are quite nice, it was still a hard decision to make. As a guy in his mid 40s, I’m starting to approach that enjoyment-of-the-familiar vibe that we have going on, but ultimately the adventurer spirit within won out. 

One of the more exciting aspects of this opportunity is that it solidifies Earl’s retirement plans and goals and it gives us better options for relocation when that time comes around.

I have this whole “reboot” feeling now; I’ll be wiping the work projects slate clean and taking on new challenges. I’ll have a new computer and a whole new team to work with; I’ll be writing software with different purposes and goals from what I do today. I feel there’s plenty of room from growth, plenty of ways to learn. I feel energized.

Life is grand!