Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Why Pilots Get Paid the Big Bucks

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

So you all know the story of the US Airways plane that landed in the Hudson River. The pilot did an amazing job and is a real hero. Imagine the pressure of knowing that lives of 150 people depend on you doing something with a plane that it is not designed to do – land on the water.

I think though that it highlights something we don’t often think about. It takes a long time to become the captain of a big airline plane. There are years of training involved and then years of working your way up from smaller to larger planes first as a first officer and then finally as captain. But that is what we want. We want the most experienced and best trained pilots in the world in the cockpit. Money is a real part of the incentive to work though that struggle. Not the only thing of course – the best pilots love to fly. But money helps keep them from flying only as a hobby.

We want these people in the cockpit not so much for the ordinary flights. We want them there when things go wrong. It’s like insurance in a way. The experience and the training make it possible for a pilot to stay calm when the sky is falling – or the plane is falling from the sky. It is experience that lets the pilot know that he (or she) can do what no one else can do at a time when most people would panic.

I get on planes all the time and you know I always feel better when the pilot has some gray hair. That way I figure I have someone who has seen a lot, done a lot, trained a lot, and will be the right person there when things go wrong. I don’t want a young hotshot – I want an experienced mature person who will go past the red line when it matters but not when it is a way to show off “courage” or “skills.” I hope the airlines are always willing to pay extra for that.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Modern travel is amazing. Incredible when its good and, well, not much fun when its not. My most recent travels took me to Texas which is another story in it self. But my trip home took longer than expected.

It started out well enough as my sister-in-law drove me to the airport – DFW. Things continued to look good when the airline upgraded me to first class for the first leg of the trip. And it took off on time.

Now in Minneapolis-St Paul I had a 3 hour layover which I didn’t mind a bit. I took a longish and fairly good lunch in a sit down restaurant.  They loaded the plane on time. And then Murphy hit. There were traffic delays coming into Logan so we sat on the runway for an hour before take off. I called home and found out that the roads were very icy in New Hampshire. Between the late hour of my arrival (well after when my wife usually goes to bed so she can be awake at school the next day) I offered to stay in Boston for the night. A friend/co-worker offered to pick me up and let me crash at his apartment in down-down Boston. Which I did. So far so good.

The next day he dropped me off at the office in Cambridge and I got some work done. I also booked a seat on a bus to Exeter where my wife could easily pick me up. Two subway trains later I had missed the bus. It seems the MBTA estimate of how long the trip was off by a matter of 3 times the actual length. So I had my ticket changed to a later train. I figured I wanted to see what the train was like anyway.

Well the good news is that Amtrak Downeaster has both power and wi-fi. Well the power plugs in my seat were not working but I had plenty of battery so I got some work done. Good thing I had a backup battery though because the train was delayed in route for about an hour. Finally I got there and my wife was waiting for me.

With a break for supper at my son’s place (he cooked and it was great) we finally drove home. So I got home 36 hours after leaving Texas. And I rode in three cars, three trains, and two planes to get home. But you know, a 100 years ago this trip would have taken a whole lot longer so I guess I should be glad I was able to make it at all.

Ahoy Matey!

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Do na’ forget tis talk like a pirate day again!

51 Places You Can’t See On Google Earth

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

The list is here. I suspect that most of them are also not available on Live Earth – Microsoft’s really cool maps site. BTW while Google has those really cool logo images on their search site Live Search uses really cool images as screen backgrounds. I love the picture of observatories that is there today.

Steam Cleaning The Microwave

Monday, September 8th, 2008

I think I read about this idea somewhere but I don’t remember where. It’s a great idea though and really works. But let me back up a minute.

There are, I am sure, some people who keep their microwaves nice and clean. They cover everything they cook and they clean up any mess that is made right away. Yeah, well, that’s not me. As a result my microwave gets a little ugly from time to time. Worse still things are sort of baked on and hard to clean away. Has that ever happened to you? (Probably not to Matt.) Or perhaps you have been forced to use a microwave that was a mess and wanted to clean it out first.

Scrubbing doesn’t really appeal to me. I try to avoid hard work unless it is absolutely necessary. So that is where the steam cleaning comes in. Fill a microwave safe mug or glass with water and run it for a while. You want to water to boil for a while but its probably not a good thing to boil it all away. Then let the microwave sit for a minute or so.

Now open the microwave and wipe it clean and dry with a paper towel or sponge.  Repeat if necessary but generally once is enough. The boiled water becomes steam and pretty much softens every bit of gunk inside the microwave.

This post brought to you because I couldn’t sleep. But it does work. I used it today in fact.

Fun With Google Chrome

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

OK I know you’ve all downloaded and tried out Google Chrome. If you go to the address bar (Omnibar?) and enter a colon (:) followed by a percent symbol (%)  it will crash as soon as you hit the % key. I couldn’t believe it myself until I tried it. It crashes all the tabs by the way. I was expecting it to only kill the tab where the command was entered.

If I had to guess I’d guess that there is a stack overflow in the search function. It just feels like a recursion thing. I could be wrong of course. I’m also guessing that the Address bar is run by the task that controls the individual tab processes.

I’m sure that is the only flaw in the code though. I mean it is Google after all. So the patch should be out any second now too.

On Moving Books

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

We’re having our family room painted next week. That means a lot of things have to be moved out of the room or at least away from the walls. That includes book cases. We have four book cases and between them they hold several thousand books. At least 2,000 based on my best guesstimate. That’s a lot of books to move. Right now they are all stacked up in an unused bedroom until the job is done.

There are a couple of, lets just call them issues, with moving  books. Sure there is the obvious that they are heavy and that it takes a lot of trips to move them. Then there is the issue that they collect some dust which is now doing wonders for my sinuses and allergies. But a bigger issue is that, surprise, I like books. That means that it is hard to avoid looking though them as I pile them up. That slows the process down and I think as we put them back next week I will be holding some out to re-read.

I’ve also looked though a couple of old scrap books. Would you believe that Mrs T and I once saw a Broadway play, Godspell no less,  for $8.50 a ticket? You can’t get in for less than ten times that today. Oh and 30 years ago Mrs T and I had less weight and a lot more hair. And wow did she look great! Well still does to me but when I look at those pictures I wonder how I ever managed to date her at all. But I digress.

The plan is to thin the collection a bit after the painting job. That will be an interesting process as neither of us has ever been good at getting grid of books. But really there are some books we are unlikely to ever read again and we need space for the new books we keep buying. Putting up still more shelves is not an option as there is only so much wall space in the house. 🙂

Bowling

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

So I went bowling last week. Ten pin not candlestick. First time I did real bowling for decades. It was a group social event and there were no real bowlers there. I was the second high score with is really scary as I bowled a 99.
I have an excuse though. Besides not bowling for years my left leg would not hold me up on a proper approach. It is still weak from some problems I had some years ago and on the first try I fell at the end of the lane. Not pretty. I wound up standing at the end of the lane, bracing my leg with one hand and trying to bowl. That I got any strikes or spares at all is amazing and as much luck as anything.
Oh but most of the group was really bad. I can imagine real bowlers cringing as balls bounced down the lanes rather than rolled. To say nothing of a good number of fouls besides my own.
Still it was fun and I realized that I missed bowling. But I’ll have to exercise my leg before I can try it for real again.

Observations from DisneyWorld

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

So I am at DisneyWorld this week. Having a great time but spending a lot more money than I expected. Still it is worth it.

I’m doing a lot of people watching and noticing things. Here then are a few random observations:

  • The more skin people show the more likely they are to have a sun burn. Probably not a surprise but at the same time “sun screen people?”
  • Lots of little girls (under 12) in skirts and dresses. And that isn’t including the princess outfits.
  • One almost never sees a teenaged girl in a skirt or dress. Well except for the scores of cheerleaders here for some competition over the week end.
  • Lots of young mom’s (say 20 something) in skirts.
  • Lots of men and boys wearing shorts. Not me though – if it is too hot to go out in long pants its too hot to go out. Unless it is more than 80% humility and 90 degrees warm (both) I am more comfortable in long pants. Shorts for men are for swimming and other athletic activity.
  • People who probably never wear hats at all will wear silly hats at Disney. I wonder how many of them will wear these hats at home? Me? I bought a hat I can wear anywhere. I like hats. (Much more than caps.)
  • There are lots of families here with 3 or more kids. Small kids. How do they do it?
  • Smiles and good service make trips like this better. Disney knows how to provide good service. I wish more companies took lessons from them. Of course it also makes is less painful to spend money so companies should want to take these lessons.

SPAM by postal mail

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

So today I get this official looking mail in my mailbox. It looks like a bill though I do find a place where it says "THIS IS NOT A BILL" and then it goes on to say that it is a solicitation and that I have no obligation to pay it. No kidding! But you know I’ll bet a lot of people pay it anyway.

Well what is it for? Well they want to list my website with "25 MAJOR search engines" (CAPS theirs) four times a year with 8 different key words or phrases. All for only $75 dollars.

25 MAJOR search engines? Some people would say that there is only one major search engine and a bunch of small ones. Arguably there are three or four. Maybe five but that will get you close enough to 100% of searches that who cares about the rest.

Plus of course if you have good content and a few inward links the search engines all find you anyway. Just getting listed doesn’t get you to the front page either. This is an offering for suckers and people who have no clue how the Internet and search engines work.

Crazy world we live in. Besides my web sites show up in the top of the first page of every search engine I check for in just about all the search terms I test. I’m not sure how they could do better than that. 🙂