Archive for October, 2006

San Franciso trip

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

I spent last weekend, as in 20-24 October, hanging out with my parents in San Francisco. Much of the time my parents arew attracted to a city because of one of the many quilting/knitting/other-fiber-related conferences that my Mom attends. but this time they just wanted to see the place. Because it’s so close we went up to see it with them. Of course this was a good excuse to fly.

The trip up was a nice easy VFR flight, scarcely worth mentioning. It seriously went very smoothly. We had considered a stop at Paso Robles to check out their restaurant, which is from all reports excellent, but a late start put us on the non-stop.

We met the folks at San Carlos Airport and after the requisite waiting for Mom & Dad to find the airport, we took off for a fun weekend.

We had a great time. The weather was unbelievably good, with several days of completely unrestricted visibilities, which made for spectacular views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge. Between my parents and Brenda, we had a fine selection of things to see including Muir Woods, the SF Art Institute cafe, many things in Golden Gate Park, the Winchester Mystery House, and a bunch of little restaurants in Burlingame. We even enjoyed a meal with Rod.  My parents are always fun to see, and we had a great time.

The return flight was Tuesday night, departing around 6:00 and I was hoping to get back to Santa Monica(SMO) before the tower closed at 9:00. Fortunately we had a good tailwind and got a timely reroute that shaved some time off our trip. We were IFR, both because I like to be IFR at night and because SMO was reporting 800 feet overcast when we left.

The flight was pretty routine. I did get a reroute, and got to hear a bunch of people shooting approaches in the Monterey area. Still, out over the Central Valley at night at 11,000 it’s quiet. The only troubling fact was that SMO’s weather had gone down to 600′ OVC. The approach bottoms out at 505′ AGL, so this was sounding a lot like an approach to minimums.

And it was, but still a really easy approach. I wouldn’t have though that made any sense, but here’s how it was. There was probably a 200′ thick overcast over SMO that got thinner as it went inland. For much of the approach we had pretty solid ground contact, and we reached BEVEY – a point about 6 miles from SMO – in good VFR over a thickening undercast. It quickly thickened up so we couldn’t see the ground, but at the last stepdown fix we plunged through about 200-300′ of clouds and popped out quickly enough to set up for a straightforward landing. Brenda actually enjoyed the approach quite a bit, and so did I, but it wasn’t a really challenging approach.

Fun flights and a great weekend.


Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

“If you ever want to see an example of social decline, just subscribe to the Madonna [email] list for a while.” — Peter Uchytil

Pete’s a fine observer of human society, but if you really want to be depressed, try to board a commercial airliner. Nothing could be more straightforward: fill in from the back. You can go on early if you need to pull your wheelchair or children on. Stow your bags and go. If we all do this simple intuitive thing together we get on the plane and be that much closer to getting off.

But, no.

Everyone’s special. If not special enough to believe that the numbers aren’t for them, special enough not to listen at all. It’s absolutely maddening. Just fill the goddamn plane back-to-front. Have your ticket ready for the person to take – that’s why the nice agent is there. Don’t get me started about the “carry on” baggage that they could have another whole person in, or the cell phone they’re talking into while the numbers they’re ignoring are being read.

And the dumb thing is that all these shenanigans cause them as much trouble as they cause me. People can’t act reasonably when it’s in their own best interest to do so, and simple to see the right course. Hell, we can’t get “fill the plane back-to-front” right, how are we gonna survive in times of crisis?

Nah, I don’t have a point. Just needed to get it out of my system.

Next time, stupidity in the air.

Found It!

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

You may all return from the edge of your seats.  I found my cell phone.  I’m sure I’ll misplace it again soon.

Reviews of Frankenstein and The Skeptical Environmentalist

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Reviews of Frankenstein and The Skeptical Environmentalist are up on BBC. I had a plane trip, so I got some reading done.

Even for a spammer, not so bright

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

I just deleted at attempted blog comment from a spammer that made me laugh out loud.  It was a little phrase like “I want to help my friends” that’s intended to look as though it came from a person, as opposed the lists of porn and gambling sites that spam posts usually consist of.  The e-mail address for responses was pretty impressive though: (where is clearly not the e-mail domain).

The Terrifying (yet Wonderous) World in which We Live

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

When I debug, which I’m doing now, I frequently hum songs to myself about puzzles or looking for answers – you know – songs about debugging. R. E. M.’s Strange is in heavy rotation for this and I’m sure you can guess others. Today’s was the refrain “I know there’s something going on…” repeated with a little baseline I won’t try to reproduce for you. Unfortunately, I began to think “who did that song?” and promptly distracted myself. I’m pretty good at “name that 80’s song” and really perturbed myself at not being able to think of this.
Google found the lyrics for me on the second hit. I am terrified and delighted. I console myself by realizing that I was able to get an attribute-based fix on it: “it was that girl from ABBA.”

Now back to something that’s going on…