Friday, December 31, 2021

Well, I May Just Get An IFR Flight Test After All

Just found an examiner that has an opening, but not at Pontiac.  Would need to fly to him first.

Lots to arrange but this may just happen.

2021 New Year Resolutions - How They Went, How They're Going

Well, as 2021 draws to a close, let's see how close I got to meeting my 2021 New Year's Resolutions:

1.  Shoot More and Shoot Better: I resolve to take at least three shooting classes this year, and shoot in at least five USPSA matches.   I will also at least 3 times a week do a dryfire session. This should make me suck somewhat less as a shooter. Goal would be to be able to perform the brown belt level MSP standards on demand. Stretch goal would be to be able to perform the black belt level MSP standards on demand, which is pretty darn spicy for me right now.

Result: I took 4 classes this year (Dave Spaulding's  Adaptive Combat Pistol; MDFI Low Light Handgun; MDFI Foundation Carbine; MSP Red Dot Pistol;  and I did shoot in way more than 5 USPSA matches. I did improve and do shoot better than last year, so that's something.

But, I did not consistently practice dry-fire 3 times a week though. Did not get to the level of proficiency to be able to perform the black belt level MSP standards on demand or otherwise, though have occasionally had met the individual standards in practice, which doesn't count.

2. Fly More and Fly Better: I want to fly at least double the amount of hours I flew this year.  I also will earn my instrument rating.  Never hurts to be a more proficient and capable pilot and I need to fly more.

Result:  Did fly way more than double what I flew last year.  Highlight was taking youngest daughter to Mackinac Island which was awesome. I have definitely become a more proficient and capable pilot.

Did not earn my instrument rating in 2021. Grumble, grumble.

3. Stick with Jiu Jitsu and do Jiu Jitsu Better:  Do a minimum of three sessions per week.  Work on improving current techniques and learning new ones. Good for both physical fitness and overall well-being.

Result: Was pretty consistent going 3 times per week and occasionally more. Did improve existing techniques quite a bit, and learned quite a few new techniques. Did earn a stripe on the Blue Belt.

Overall Resolution Accomplishments: Not bad.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Scrod - Not Getting An IFR Examination Done Anytime Soon

There once was a man who flew in to Boston and wanted to have some of their famous tasty small cod, oft referred to as scrod.

So, leaving the airport he got in a taxi and asked the driver:

"Can you take me to where I can get scrod around here?"

The driver replied:   "Sure," said the cabdriver. "I know a few places and get asked that a lot... but I can tell you it's not often I hear someone use the past pluperfect subjunctive anymore!"

In short, I am now scrod. 

Hadn't heard from my primary instructor since December 10.  He's off doing charters for the company and apparently doesn't get or respond to texts etc while doing so as they oft go international this time of year.

All other instructors were stating I'm ready, but they couldn't and can't sign me off.

Finally still not hearing from my primary, I call the school today and talk to the head instructor after not hearing back from mine and she says I can book it now, but their preferred examiner is now not available until January 19 and others similarly won't be available given the time of year.

Well, great.  

Problem is, I have surgery set for January 13 (more on that upcoming fun later and the fun I've been having leading up to it) that will knock me off flying for at least 8 weeks at best and possibly longer.

Oh, and my flight review is due in March 2022, too.

So I'm ready now,  but will now have to spend a lot more time and money to retrain, and then get back up to proficiency after not flying for a few months to do the test. 

I'll have to keep studying ground stuff at the same intensity for even more months, including remembering the really important stuff like how the inside of an altimeter works and how to explain the electrical system of the plane down to the last resistor (yes, their preferred examiner really gets off on you having to explain the entire electrical diagram in the POH and correctly identifying all the unmarked electrical symbols on the diagram - for your IFR exam no less), and of course how to do the paper Nav performance and wind correction heading calculations that no one uses in real flying anymore.

I also now have to pay for and do a flight review (would have been automatic with a new rating, now I need to hire an instructor to get that done - potentially post-haste as it expires in March), and all that due to people not doing what they are supposed to do.  Really hate that.

Should simply tell myself there's no rush and I'll do it when I do it, and what's another additional unnecessary kilobuck, or two, or three, down the drain when dealing with flying, which is exactly what is now going to happen. 

But, I was sure as heck primed and ready now for both the ground and air portions. Drat.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Not Flying - IFR Sim Ride

Met up tonight with Paul as my instructor.

Snow was coming down pretty good with low clouds so just as well that Kevin had arranged for it to be a simulator flight.

For relaxation time in Georgia, I had purchased and brought along and read the book Performance Pilot, a book mainly about the mental preparation game for flying with a heavy emphasis on chair flying and visualization. I had tried that out each night before going to sleep or before a nap, visualizing a perfect pre-flight; a perfect instrument scan;  a perfect approach; a perfect checkride flight sequence, etc.

It may very well have helped.

I did very well in the simulator, about the best I've ever done, as sensitive as it is.  Much more in control, with really good altitude and heading control even as sensitive as the simulator is.

First we did the Flint VOR 36 circle to 27 and I handled it well; then the Flint ILS 27, and the Flint RNAV 18.  Then Pontiac's RNAV 9, and then off to Troy for the RNAV 9 circle to 27, and back to Pontiac for the RNAV 27L.

Didn't screw up any sequences, settings, etc, and was ahead of the game on each approach.

Did them all well, even nailed the landing on the Flint VOR 36 circle to 27 and had everything under control nicely.

Felt pretty good,

Just need final clearance from Kevin and I can book the actual checkride.  We will see if I get it in time or not.

That's 1.9, 1.9 simulated instrument, 2 holds and 5 approaches

Time Not Well-Wasted - Covid Testing

Planning to go to Toronto for New Years to see the folks.  Mother-in-law due to the border closures has not seen the kids in person for 2 years now and wants them over for New Years.

But, in order to go to Canada, you need a PCR test within 72 hours of your visit there, even if you're vaccinated.

Yesterday not a single facility in the entire area was doing drop-in tests and all appointments were booked. The closest facility with any openings was Toledo, Ohio a solid hour drive away.

I managed to find a place doing tests today in a parking lot of a local synagogue.

Testing opened at 9, we got there at 8:40 to see a giant line up of cars.

Apparently, lots of people are both traveling thus needing a test, and per the testing nurses many more are now getting tested for Omicron because of all the fear-mongering about it. They're getting tested because in general you won't even know you'll have it as the symptoms match a cold, so if they have a cold, a lot of them fearfully line up to get tested.

Heck at this point, if you count died with Omicron the same as died from Omicron, then in the US, Omicron is currently tied with Alec Baldwin and Ted Kennedy for total number of kills.

3 hours later, we were done and tested, hopefully the results will be ready by our departure, but they might not be which will be an issue.

Great use of time.  I expect that testing line up cost the economy tens of thousands of dollars in lost time and productivity for all the workers in those cars.


Monday, December 27, 2021

Home Again

After Nashville, we headed south to visit Savannah, Georgia.

Having never been to Savannah before, it seemed like a good idea to go travel to a new location. We stayed on Tybee Island outside of the city proper but easy to get back and forth with an easy stroll to the beach.

The weather however was chilly in the 50s pretty much all week, only getting up to good Southern December weather in the high 60s- low70s on the last day of our trip.  

Made it home last night in 14 hours in nice clear road conditions and it was good we didn't stop on the way as this morning we woke up to a snowy slushy mixture on the ground and still coming down which will makes going into the office today later this morning for a meeting a real treat.

In short it was a great trip, and our last family December trip with two high-schoolers, with details and pictures to follow.

Friday, December 24, 2021

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

Apparently Santa has had his flight exam:

He passed it successfully, even after losing an engine. 

He's now ready for his flight.

Santa's sleigh is confirmed to have functioning ADS-B and has a cleared flight plan. you can track him on call sign SANTA1 / Aircraft ID: R3DN053.

Have a Very Merry Christmas to my Christian friends and readers.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Fedex Follies Yet Again

Had ordered some clothes items that were on on sale back on December 9.  I sadly did not realize it would be sent by the seller store via Fedex. Drat.

It was scheduled to be delivered December 15. As you may guess, the shipment hath not arrived.  Would've been nice to have before the trip to Nashville.

Indeed, the shipment hadn't even left California on December 15 and I only got a notice that it was delayed on December 17  - which I had already figured out by then. Verily, it had moved but a few miles from its origin point in all that time.  No worries though, there were many promises from Fedex that it was on its way. They were also offering a nice bridge in Brooklyn with those assurances.

It eventually reached Lake Orion Michigan on this Sunday.  

Ah, Lake Orion, the distribution center where all Fedex packages go to apparently get placed on a truck to be driven around for at least a week before being delivered.

Of course they said it was out for delivery yesterday.  Obviously not.  So they then stated yesterday it would be delivered today. Hah.

Just got a message now that the package is now further delayed due to "operational reasons"  haven't seen that message before and it might be delivered tomorrow.  Having seen this before, I am rather dubious of such a predicted delivery date.

I bet it's not delivered until at least next Monday the 27th,  Any takers?

Update:  Arrived, after yet more it will be delivered today, then oh no it won't be messages, yesterday the 23rd, which was only 8 days past the original delivery date.

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Weekend In Nashville

Drove to Nashville this weekend.

Did an tour (on our own with a "virtual tour guide") of Vanderbilt University, the Harvard of the South.

Abby is applying there so we wanted to show it to her and it was a nice weekend get away.

Weather leaving Michigan frankly sucked. Icy snow and sleet was coming down that morning and it made the roads a treat, and then a cold rain kept up all the way through Ohio. 

We arrived Saturday night rather hungry and checked into our AirBnB.  We then walked to Hattie B's Chicken for some Nashville Hot Chicken.  The place was packed, and the chicken was out of this world outstanding.  Great stuff.

Sunday morning we started touring Vanderbilt.

Nashville was cool in the 50s so sweaters were worn.  Still, it was sunny and beautiful and it was a fine opportunity to wander around the campus.

In short, the campus is gorgeous.

Right in downtown Nashville, but it's very green and feels secluded and away from the city in its own space, yet with tons of things to do but a few minutes walking distance in the city itself.

The campus is heavily treed with many old trees of many types and squirrels about.


Including the Squirrel of Judgment, who looked down upon us judgmentally from a tree mere feet away without flinching or being concerned in the least.

In short it's a great campus, has great programs that meet her interests, and Nashville is a thriving city where I'd think she would be very happy to attend college. Pity the acceptance rates this year are in the single digits percentage-wise, which makes getting in any elite school rather tough.  We will see what happens.

After the morning tour of the university, the kids checked out a local mall and Tash and I went to Belle Meade Plantation/Winery/Stud Farm.  Quite an interesting and historic place.

Did you know that every winning horse of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont from 2000 to 2021 can trace its bloodline back to a Belle Meade stud?  Pretty amazing.

Lots of historic buildings remain, including some of the original slave cabins, a dairy from 1884, and the 1892 carriage house, as well as the mansion itself.

The carriage house contains some rare carriages and a cannon belonging to The Harding Light Artillery, named after the owner of the Belle Meade farm at the time, a unit raised in 1861 in  Nashville.

After we had explored the grounds we headed in for a wine tasting.

The tasting experience was conducted by the Belle Mead's executive sommelier and we were in for a treat.

Learned an absolute ton about wine and food pairings in a fun and educational experience.    Started with learning how to properly open a bottle and it went from there.

All the wines were from Belle Meade's winery.  Starting with sparkling wine, the Lady's Cuvee,  that went well with the aged piece of cheese on the far left of the plate. Tasted great. 

Then tried the same cheese with the next white wine poured, and it tasted absolutely awful.  Then paired that wine with a more appropriate cheese to the immediate right of the first one and all was well again.  Learned a lot about food pairing from that.

Next on to red wine and why it needs to breathe and how to swirl it around in the glass to aerate it.  Tried the Iroquois  Cabernet Sauvignon right out of the bottle and then swirled it per instructions and it tasted completely different and much better as a result.  Then on to the Gentlemen's Blend which is a really big and tasty wine, and we had some great food pairings with it as well.

Then finished with the blackberry wine which is a delightfully sweet dessert wine that cannot be recommended enough.

It was a great experience and really enjoyable.

If you go to Belle Mead, sign up for the wine tasting experience, it is more than worth it.

After that, we wandered the grounds again for an hour as all that wine meant no driving until we had burned it off.

Then, once we were well and truly sober we picked up the kids from the mall, had some BBQ for dinner, and that was our visit to Nashville.

In short, I really hope she gets into Vanderbilt as I think it would be the perfect environment for her with both a top rated school and city.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Not Flying - Stage Check III Ground

This morning I was scheduled to fly, but that changed to a Ground lesson as part of my final stage check prior to a check ride.  

Of course today the weather was perfect for flying.  Sigh.

Met with Alec, an instructor  I've flown with and done ground work with before. Nice guy and concerned with making sure you learn and know the material, so yep he's a good instructor.

So I only saw this morning that it had changed and I was to plan a flight on paper from KPTK to KMDW.  Most people would do this via Foreflight in real life, but the examiner wants it to be on paper and you have to have a current  paper IFR chart and do all the calculations by hand for wind correction that Foreflight does for you.  Seriously. Well, at least he doesn't insist on an abacus.

So we went over that and it went pretty well and helped fine tune the paper calculations.

Then on to a general oral exam practice which I did well with and he had no concerns, saying I passed that with no problems and I'm good on charts, plates, weather, etc, and appear ready for the oral portion of the checkride. Just have to treat it like a deposition - answer only the question posed, yes or no only as a response if possible, and don't add anything.

So currently I'm a little confused as to where I stand exactly.  I think I need one more stage check-ride with the head instructor in order to be approved for the official check-ride, but perhaps not.  About to have to reschedule lessons yet again, so we will see what happens.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

So Obvious - You Don't Put Jett Fuel In A Piper

Piper has been more than a handful these past few weeks.

She still wasn't getting the idea of going just outside to do her thing. Didn't matter if we took her out right after eating or drinking or before or anytime, inside accidents were more often than outside to the tune of about 6 a day.

She was also 90% poop and 10% dog by weight and volume.  Did not think that was possible, but verily it was. Very smelly too.

Took her to an intro doggie training course, still little so she did pickup sitting but trying all the techniques from bells on the door, to timing, to everything else and nothing worked, outside to her was for sniffing and being distracted not going, she would even go outside then come back in and promptly go.

Had a trainer come in to see what we were doing wrong as this was not fun nor particularly appealing and we were getting to the end of our ropes.

Trainer suggested given the frequency and amounts she might be having issues with the food which was Nutro, not a bargain basement food by any means. Nutro had been recommended by our vet, and had been fine for Jett.

She suggested we switch right to Stella and Chewy, a rather top of the line and rather spendy food without fillers.  So we did. Also worked on some taking her out technique and rooting her to a spot so she didn't get distracted and had to do her business before being allowed to sniff outside.

Upside - Jett absolutely loved it and thinks it is the greatest food ever.  Before he would pick at the Nutro and finish it over hours.  Now it's put out and then it is in and gone. The dog is likely eating better than we are now.  Well, he deserves it.

Downside - Piper's engine blew up.  

Piper's engine exhaust got well, much um, even wetter and even more uncontrollably frequent one might say - for a whole week. With exhaust occurring inside the hanger about 50%+ of the time. She also was getting up at 5:30 in the morning.  Figured it was the consequence of moving to the better food and it would settle, but it didn't.

Trainer came back the next week and I indicated that had not worked out well at all and getting rid of Piper was now becoming a very distinct possibility as we were at the end of our ropes.

Trainer then knew she was reacting to the food and suggested a limited ingredient salmon based food.

We switched to that, which she liked, and miraculously it worked.

Should have known you don't put Jet-A in an avgas fueled Piper.

She's much, much better now.  Less volume and frequency of accidents and much better going outside.  Still not nearly perfect and still gets easily distracted once she is outside, but it's much better. Also still some accidents inside as she continues getting used to going outside but the stench is way down.  So, looks like we're on the road to solving that problem.

Darn good thing she's cute and rather cuddly when she's not distracted.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Flying IFR - Lesson 43 - That's How You Do That

For Lesson 43, I was again in N3553M.  I had Adam as my instructor and basically he got in the plane and said Kevin had told him I'm pretty much ready for my checkride so he was not going to say much.

Wind was out of 130 at 8 knots so we would be using Runway 9L.

Plan was to do Flint's ILS 9; VOR 36 to 9; and RNAV 9, then back to Pontiac for the Localizer 9R partial panel.

Headed up to Flint and did a very nice full procedure ILS 9 approach with procedure turn that was right on.  Then they switched us from the VOR 36 to do the VOR 18 circle 9, so I pulled that plate up and flew that, again quite nicely.  Then onto the RNAV 9, and I flew that approach dead on too.

Much better altitude control, kept it within 100 feet above and 0 below deviation pretty much the whole time though I started to get below on the 18 to 9 circle on the downwind just a skoosh and fixed that - did a tight circle and a very achievable landing position before being told to go missed.

Then on to Pontiac for the Localizer partial panel doing the full procedure approach with procedure turn.  Did it, even though the NAV 2 VOR receiver on N3553M is exceptionally twitchy. But, I got it done and Tower requested we Circle to 9L to land for traffic which I did.

Adam stated had that been my checkride, I would have passed.  

He said everything looked good and all my procedures were good, radio, flying etc, and he's going to tell Kevin I'm ready to go. 

In short everything felt great, I had everything down, had the procedures and systems humming along like a well oiled machine and flew the approaches like they were on rails.

Next up, final mock checkride with the Chief Instructor and I still expect a snownado or other obstacle for it this upcoming Friday to keep the pattern of disastrous flying checks going.

That's 1.9, 1.5 simulated, 4 approaches, 2 holds, and a very nice landing.

Some Bad Incentives For Really Stupid People

Want to get out of school in Michigan? Want to easily disrupt hundreds or thousands of kids in one fell swoop?

Now you can, if you're a total idiot.

Now you can be a total moron and send in a threat against a school or bunch of schools.   The schools, instead of assessing the actuality of the risk or taking further security measures and continuing with their day, now just shut down in the face of a social media-based threat regardless of its validity or probability, causing massive disruption.

The Detroit News: Oxford schools closed Tuesday after social media threat

The Detroit Free Press: West Bloomfield students released from schools amid suspected threat, classes go virtual

Apparently the West Bloomfield threats did not even come from a West Bloomfield Student but the jerk is located in southeast Michigan and has been caught.  I expect the new Oxford threat idiot will also be caught in short order.

On the downside for these idiots and upside for everyone else - making these threats now lead to serious criminal charges - and authorities quite properly lack any tolerance for this nonsense. So far, 23 students in Wayne County have been criminally charged for making school threats.

The Spirit Of Jiu Jitsu Exemplified

The owner of our Jiu Jitsu Training center earned his brown belt this weekend in a pretty intensive test. They don't just hand those out, you have to earn it.

Today was the first Master Cycle Class (combative belts and up) since his promotion.

After the lesson part of the class there's open rolling.

He then took each and every one of us in the class for a roll in turn.  He essentially set it up that we could, and did, tap him out in each roll so long as we did good technique appropriate for our own levels. He wasn't just letting you tap him out, you had to work for it, but he kept his responses to your moves matched right at your ability level so you could do it.

Yep, instead of him showing that he could tap out pretty much everyone in the room after earning that promotion -- which he can --  (except for the head instructor - and they might at times get to a draw), he instead decided to celebrate by getting tapped out by the entire class.

That was an impressive demonstration of someone being humble and putting their ego completely aside.  

It really demonstrates the spirit at our training center that it's not just how good at jitsu you can be that matters, but how good at jitsu you can become while helping others become good at jitsu too that matters.

It's a really great place to learn.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Jett: Of Dogs And Cancer

Did you know that dogs could get melanoma?

Neither did I.

Kinda figured the hair/fur would prevent skin cancer. Turns out, not so much. Indeed, it turns out dogs can get melanoma even when not sun bathing without using sunscreen.

Jett had a small mass on his paw that was removed in early November and the lab reported just before Thanksgiving that he has malignant melanoma. Not good.  It took until today to get an appointment with the Vet Oncologist.

We finally had the appointment today.  There's a fantastic oncologist at Blue Pearl Animal Hospital, and she is quite simply top-notch.

The bad news:  He's got an aggressive strain of malignant melanoma and it could become bad.

The good news: Thankfully there is no sign of the cancer moving to the lymph nodes or lung so we caught it early.

The other bad news:  This malignant melanoma doesn't just go away and it could still become bad very quickly.

The other good news:  There is treatment for dogs: an immunity booster series (incorrectly called a vaccine) to fight malignant melanoma that works 50% of the time and can potentially teach his immune system to fight it and clear it from the body,

The other other bad news: 50% of the time the immunity booster series does nothing, and it costs an arm and a leg.

Are we doing it?  Obviously yes, after all, he's family.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Flying IFR - Lesson 42 - Why Can't Yesterday Have Been Like Today?

So after yesterday's flight I was seriously thinking of calling a halt as I was not getting better or able to move forward with a checkride and this was getting beyond stupid expensive to not be actually getting it.

So today of course was a different experience and made me reconsider calling it quits.

Had N3553M with its autopilot inop. Had to wait though for all the other aircraft to get out of the hangar as it was tucked in the back, so lots of time to preflight, prep and get setup.  Had my handheld radio on so I got the ATIS ahead of time to speed things up later.

We would do the same flight as last night but just slightly different due to wind direction.  Flint's ILS 27, then VOR 18 Circle to 27 and land, then Pontiac's Backcourse Localizer 27L partial panel, and then the RNAV 27L and done.

Weather was warmer than yesterday and winds were pretty much calm at PTK and only slightly more windy around Flint with no massive gusting crosswinds nor turbulence either.

And I did everything pretty darn well. Go figure. Did the hold entry for 27 ILS no problem.  Much better on altitudes, caught each needle right off and flew everything quite well, with a bit more aggressive descent needed on the ILS.  Flew a bit of a tight pattern in the circle to land and again was high which I need to fix by descending earlier, but did a decent landing.  Then I taxi'd back and then flew to Pontiac partial panel.  

Intercepted the localizer quite perfectly and had a great partial panel approach with he needle practically dead center almost the whole way in.  Then just about a perfect RNAV approach to finish things up.

Since this was with my instructor though, it doesn't count as a mock checkride and I have another one of those scheduled for next week as I have to pass that before I can book a checkride. 

I half expect a snownado for that ride.

That's 1.9 with 1.5 simulated instrument, 4 approaches, 1 hold and 2 landings.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Flying IFR - Lesson 41 - Well That Just Sucked Rocks

So this afternoon at 3:30 was the mock pre-checkride checkride.

Winds out of the South east 11-21 knots would make it sporty.

Took off in N5337F from Runway 9L at Pontiac. 

Since winds were southeast, that eliminated using the Troy RNAV 9 circle 27 so we did the examiner's other favored checkride practice route.  Off to do the Flint ILS 9 followed by Flint VOR 18 circle to 9 and then Pontiac's RNAV 9.

Straightforward enough, and it gives you more time to setup and get ready for the approach on the way to Flint compared to the very few short minutes you have before getting on the approach to Troy.

Well yes, but not so much. It really did not go well.

The ride started smooth and then hit some moderate turbulence as I flew close by Flint, pressure actually dropped quite a bit and wind-shear and winds from the south were gusting to 18-28 knots. Lots of fun - not - just trying to keep things steady, and yes we both caught air and got bopped out of our seats a few times.  Yes, yay seat-belts.

As a result, during the hold and turn in on the ILS 9 approach, I got blown way off which made catching the localizer kinda hard.  Never had that happen before, so it sucked.  Finally got established and flew a decent approach with one helluva crab angle the whole damn way. Not a good start at all and not nearly good enough.

Then I did the VOR 18 to 27 partial panel. Getting vectored and established onto the VOR with limited instruments was a royal pain, especially while getting bounced around all over the place, it was so bad I had to get vectored onto it again as I was just getting hammered by the wind and turbulence.

Reasonable enough approach and circle etc once established, but still not good enough on the initial approach.

Then back to Pontiac with a change to do the ILS 9 as the instructor wanted me to do another hold.  Went better this time and got the hold ok with massive wind correction.  Had a crazy intercept angle of 180 degrees for a localizer on the 95 degree line due to the wind - that's rather huge with a wild crab angle where the plane is flying one direction but pointed in another.

Crazy crosswind but actually got it down and flew it in like it was on rails and did a very good landing.  It really was a smooth crosswind landing which surprised everyone on board.

That's 1.9 with 1.5 simulated, two holds, 3 approaches and going nowhere near good enough to get to a real check ride. Just when you think you've got it down and can do this, you can't.

We will see if I can redeem myself tomorrow.

On Our Elites And Their Disdain

It is true that elites throughout history have often looked down on the commoners.

After all, Marie Antoinette most eloquently and rather tone-deafly said "Let them eat brioche" while the commoners were starving (Note she did not say let them eat cake, but brioche, which was the most expensive bread at the time).

Our elites are a rather less couth, so that the real pain and problems of supply shortages to the commoner is dismissed as the tragedy of treadmills that do not arrive, but the disdain towards the commoners now referred to by the elites as "cousin-humping rednecks in flyover country" is very much the same.

But our elites disdain not just those below them on the SES scale, but our country itself and its institutions, the country and institutions they themselves rule and for which much of the problems they claim exist point straight back to themselves and their ideological elite predecessors policies and actions.

This kind of disdain of the rulers for the very nation itself that they rule is rather unprecedented, as are our ruler's policies past and present that have got us here and which are ongoing, if not accelerating in their disdain and direct damage to the country.

The article Unprecedented by Michael Anton explores this phenomenon in impressive detail and really smart analysis that is more than well worth your time to read. So yes, go read it.

Fedex You F'ing Tease Yet Again

Had ordered an item prior to Thanksgiving for an item I need. It was shipped to me via Fedex.

Fedex cheerfully sent a notice it was now in Lake Orion on a truck set to be delivered this Monday.

Monday came and went with a notice that the shipment was delayed, but was on a truck and would be delivered Tuesday.

Tuesday came and went with a notice that the shipment was delayed, but was on a truck and would be delivered Wednesday.

Wednesday as you might guess, came and went with a notice that the shipment was delayed, but was on a truck and would be delivered Thursday.

Not hopeful that today will be any different. 

Gotta be a waste of space having a box on a truck for days puttering around to be delivered and yet sitting back at the yard each night.

This is not the first time this has happened nope, not the first time at all. You hit late November/December and Fedex can't deliver on time for squat and everything gets stuck circling around on a truck in Lake Orion.

Kinda wish they would just fess up and give a more accurate estimate to begin and continue with rather than this daily game of Lucy yanking the football.

Paper Doesn't Reset

Currently having the joy of doing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid FAFSA application for Abby for next year.

Back when I did it, it was paper.  Now it's online, for efficiency, of course, and as one expects, since it is created and managed by the bureaucracy, it's screwed up. 

It has already crashed twice now this morning.

From the beginning its rather slow, with having to hit continue multiple times to change and advance pages and often the continue button spins and when its done you're stuck sitting on the same page again and have to hit Continue yet again and by the third or fourth try it works.

First crash had a funny message that "Based on the information you provided we can't process your form" - this with less than a pittance of the form filled out and we hadn't even gotten to any good parts yet.

And it sent me back to the start page to reenter all the info.  So far had only put in the very basic biographical information -names, address, dob, SSN and drivers license number but it was a pain to do it all yet again. No way to save it as you go, nor any warnings that it wouldn't work again.

And it crashed yet again. this time at least with a friendly message that "The FAFSA form is currently unavailable. We are working to resolve this problem as quickly as possible."  and yep,, booted me back to the start screen of the FAFSA, which has no notice that it is down and you can have the joys of getting to try and start over hoping it might be working again.

Paper while slower to process at least didn't crash while you were trying to fill it out.

If you're going to require using an online system to do something, at least make it efficient and actually work.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

At Least Smart Enough To Not Let The Fox Into The Henhouse

While Oxford schools and school officials and their policies and decisions may (or may not - it's complicated - to be discussed in another post) bear some culpability for the shooting deaths of four students at the hands of the pretty clearly mentally ill killer, they're not completely stupid.

The Detroit Free Press: Nessel: Oxford rejected offer of independent review

No kidding, you don't invite someone who can prosecute you with criminal charges into a high-profile case where people are looking for scalps to do an "independent review" of what you did or did not do.

Attorney General Nessel is rather butt-hurt by this rejection:

"I thought, 'What better agency to conduct a special review than the Michigan Department of Attorney General?' We learned, just a short while ago, that the school district has turned down our offer and it said they're going to go with a private security firm instead to conduct an internal review."

. . .

"I'm disappointed, quite honestly," Nessel said on CNN.'

Get used to disappointment there Nessel.

Yes,  it would hardly be an independent review especially when she's stating live in a tv interview that her office can helpfully bring criminal and civil charges against the people she would be "independently reviewing".

No idea at all why Oxford School officials  wouldn't jump to take that offer, right?

Given the antics and posturing of Oakland County's progressive prosecutor in this case already, adding yet another prosecuting official into the mix, who also wants to keep her name in the headlines would hardly be conducive to a true independent review of the facts and policies that may have contributed to this event.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Flying IFR - Lesson 40 - More Checkride Practice

Got to the airport at 0745 today for an 0800 flight.  Mornings, ugh.

Clouds were above 3,000 feet so no factor, light winds out of 300 so no issue, and thus off to do the KPTK-KVLL-KPTK tour yet again.

Got flight following and headed to KVLL and did the RNAV 9 full procedure and hold. Overall good and had it pretty locked in but was above the advisory glideslope a bit near the end.  For the circle to land on 27, did ok but need to lose altitude on base as I came in too high to land - decent landing but ate up a fair bit more of the runway than I should have which was not good.

Back to Pontiac for the RNAV 27L, did it rather well and then went missed.

Headed out to practice some unusual altitude recoveries and then back for the Localizer Back Course 27L partial panel.  First one went pretty well, ending in a decent miss.  Figured out finally to not purposely make any correction turn more than 5 degrees, and let the localizer come back in otherwise I'm s-turning my way to glory. Need to be quicker descending though.

Second one went through the localizer a bit before getting established, then overall got it sorted out and did a rather nice landing.  Had a fair bit of deflection while getting it all sorted out which is annoying. Still need to descend quicker and make sure to stop above MDA.  At least no full scale deflection on any so there's that.

Biggest problems now are the climbing tendency I have, which keeps happening even with a ton of trim in, then too much trim and I descend, and of course then the need to not overcompensate and dip below minimums as a result of correcting the climb.  In short, I'm flying good but not great and need to do better.  Frustrating as hell as it feels like I'm not improving nor getting good enough to pass and this will never end.

That's 1.9 with 4 approaches, 1 hold and 1.5 simulated instrument time and 2 decent landings.

Friday, December 03, 2021

Flying IFR - Lesson 39 - IFR And Landing 1000

Well this lesson while sucky, ended in a nice milestone.

The milestone being that it was my 1,000th landing.

Weather was MVFR-IFR with reports of light rime icing at 3,000 feet.

So we filed IFR and headed to do the route the examiner generally likes to do - Troy for the RNAV 9 circle to 27, then Pontiac for the RNAV 27, and then the Localizer Backcourse 27L.

On the upside I got some more real IFR time.

Yep, spent a lot of time in the clouds this lesson - rather calm clouds not very bumpy at all.  No icing happening either. Just nice balls of nothingness.

On the downside my Troy RNAV 9 circle to 27 wasn't great.  While ok overall, I was a bit off course getting there and had a lot of trouble getting the needles lined up for it. Then not a bad circle but came in a little high on final so need to work on that.

The RNAV 27 at Pontiac was just fine, no issues with that.

The partial panel Localizer Backcourse 27L just plain sucked. 

First try getting vectored I went full scale deflection and went missed.  That would be a nice fail on a  checkride. Was banking way too much to intercept it and couldn't get it so it was a major pain.

Second attempt was a fair bit better but needed to descend quicker.

Third attempt was actually good and things went well, and I landed my 1,000th landing on that one doing a side-step to Runway 27R.

At least they were all in actual and not breaking out of the clouds until past the final approach fix.

So not a lesson  with a result I had hoped for.  Felt like some major steps backward.  Here I was thinking I'm about ready for the checkride and after today's lesson not so much.

Since I'm pretty much stuck going with my not-so-favorite-examiner that would have been a hard fail.  Ah well when you think you're ready to take a step forward you end up going two steps back. Much frustration.

That's 2.1, with 1.3 actual, 5 approaches, and one good landing.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Shooting At Oxford High School

The school is about 30 minutes away from us, and I've represented students from Oxford High before.

All we actually know at this point is the shooter is a 15-year-old who surrendered to law enforcement after the incident and a Sig Sauer handgun was seized from him.  It appears so far that law enforcement was very quick to effectively respond, which reduced the casualties and contained the incident.

There are three dead and at least six wounded per media reports so far.

Anything else is rumor and rumors are certainly flying about faster than you can say school shooting.

The 48-hour rule is definitely in full effect here, and I will not discuss the rumors or other unfounded claims about the incident until more comes out to provide actual facts.

Update:  Unfortunately now there are 4 dead with one of the severely wounded dying.   Rumors are swirling thick and fast as to motive, alleged prior warnings and signs of an impeding mentally ill attacker, etc, and until I see some actual verification of any of it I will not post them here.   

It does seem clear from reports to date that unlike the Cowards of Broward, here the Oakland County Sheriff School Resource Officer immediately moved  to engage and interrupt the shooter and more than likely saved a lot of lives by doing so.