Friday, September 25, 2009

Of Hornets And Wasps

Thank you God for looking out for me today. I had contemplated a flight over the top of New York City, a mile and a half above it in fact, where the air is still 'free' and you can go where you please without permission.

However, 'something' prompted me to discuss the proposal with two very senior and knowledgeable Flight Instructors before I took off, and they off handedly asked me if I knew about the Presidential TFR in effect for the entire NYC area. Lack of knowledge about said TFR will get you a quick and unfriendly visit from a pair of Hornets --- the F-18 variety.

Sure enough, with my recent curtailing of my television "news" addiction, I had forgotten or ignored the fact that tribal chiefs from all over the world were busy being important in the Big Apple corner of the land of the free. One of my favorite bumper stickers came vividly to mind.

As for the wasps, it was again a sudden impulse which prompted me to grab the spray before beginning the pre flight, as they had been happily missing from the last half dozen flights. Today, however, there were six encounters, and one was mightily glad they occurred on the ground, not on takeoff, as has happened previously.

In almost two hundred and fifty visits, I do not ever recall choosing this destination as a second choice. Not hard to guess why!

Please feel free to click this bottom photo.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fed Ex(cuses)

IT is nearly to the day forty years since I moved into my present location. I know I have been here longer than nine digit zip codes, and actually I moved in a scant half dozen years after the five digit ones so improved our mail delivery.

Because some mailboxes on the street periodically explode during the night, I use a post office box for my mail, dumping 80% of it in the wastebasket at the Post Office. On those rare occasions when I need a delivery to the home, I spell the street and tell them specifically that [surprise] number 36 is between number 34 and 38 and directly across the street from number 35.

Often, this is enough. But not always. Ironically, Fed Ex managed to find my front door six days ago, during the one hour of the day when I was absent (having been told delivery would be the preceding day), and upon my return and an unnecessarily cumbersome series of push button calls to the local center, in due course (three hours later than promised) the package arrived.

An old part needs to be returned, so a pickup will need to be scheduled. HOWEVER, I was also expecting a second package, [unknown whether UPS or Fedex], and so I called the mailer of same who gave me a Fedex tracking number and informed me that the package was some 15 miles distant and sitting there (who knows for how long) due to an "incorrect address".


Supervisors at FedEx are now called the "Escalation Team". I do not know why. What they did was ask me my name and address (spelled with the specifics of the location identified as usual) and place me on hold for nearly a half hour. At the end of that time, we had NO idea when the package would be delivered or if (gasp!) the same driver might pick up the return. The only saving grace was he was able to squelch the non-stop recorded admonitions about how much better off I would be using their website.

I told him that if he did nothing else in his career, he should try to have them change their coding from "incorrect address" which is a lie, insulting to the customer and makes them look stupid and lazy (which is likely true to some degree) to "unable to locate furnished address". And I am afraid that the irony of being told it is an incorrect address less than a week after another driver from the same company found it twice was lost on him.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Different Way of Seeing the World

Not too long ago, I read an account of an ultra-light aircraft developed for use over the jungles of Africa. It uses two overhead mounted engines and has an open cockpit with seats for two, fore and aft. Because it's primary mission was low level photography, it is called the Aircam.

Today I learned that they are still being made in this country. I met a pair of pilots (who possess multi-engine and amphibious ratings) who were on their way to Maine from Virginia in a pair of these strange looking aircraft.

It has long been my policy to ask for a flight if conditions are right, and so after a short flight along the beach in my own plane, I sought out the pilots as they fueled their craft and did so. As they were facing a rather strong headwind on their way to Massachusetts for an overnight stay, and since they had now lashed gas cans in the passengers seat, it was decided that my ride would come on their return, in the middle of the month.

So I have a mission to try to seek out a fresh water landing spot for the occasion. I watched them take off, clad in thermal jumpsuits, on their way across Long Island Sound and Connecticut for their next stop, and was very glad that at least one of them was my age or older.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wow - we were on LIVE television

Seems the local Congressman from South Dixie had a "town hall" meeting. I had wanted to ask him about the Salt Dome mess, and envisioned a dusty little room with a row of straight back chairs and a half dozen people sitting around trying to stay awake.

Wrong. In the first place, it was held in an auditorium...a large one. Secondly, when we were several blocks from the place, we noted cars pulled off and parked on the grass, and when we finally got to the entrance to the place, a half dozen sheriff cars and many many more on foot.

And several television crews. BG and I rapidly decided that this was NOT something we wanted to get involved with. The line of people to even try to get into the building stretched the length of a (US) football field.

Getting out was NOT easy, and while doing so, we drove thru a live television shot. It ended up on their website and I took a photo of my laptop screen, and here 'tis.

and here we come, slowly driving thru the live shot.