Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Last night was different, though. I was waiting for my mistress to call, that lady they call "Hockey."
Since I am not yet a full-time member of the Night Owls Hockey League, I am forced to wait for open spots before I can lace up for the game. And last night, right as I was losing hope and thinking that Lady Hockey was taking a pass on this Argentinean, she called.
And what a night it was. I played on the left wing.
Not this one. This one. It was, by all measures, another very close game. Close in chances. Close in shots. Close in falls. And, most importantly perhaps, close in score. The first period ended 3-2 in favor of the other guys. We came out roaring out of the gates in the second, tying it at 3-all in the first shift, and then going ahead 4-3 on a goal by Brian, assisted by yours truly. After 2, the score was 5-4.
And then came my moment of glory. With about 10 minutes remaining in the game, I came in on a line change, picked up a loose puck at their blue line, darted in untouched and put in a glorious shot over the goalie's glove. I probably could not do that again in a thousand tries. But that was the only try that mattered. That gave us a 6-4 lead, which was a margin that we needed, since they grinded out a goal with 5 minutes to go.
So the line after two games: 1 goal, 2 assists (3 points); 1 GW goal, 1 GW assist. Not too shabby.
I did not have to wait until the last minute for my next date with this icy mistress. She came calling again this morning. Next Sunday, 7pm, Albany County Hockey Facility. Be there.
For those of you worried that this post does not deal tangentially enough with "Airplanes I Have Known," then consider that:
1. Alex Tanguay, pictured above, is a left winger, formerly of the Colorado Avalanche, who scored the game-winning, series-clinching goal in the Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals, which...
2. Allowed the legendary Ray Bourque, pictured below, to finally lift the Cup after 20+ years in the National Hockey League, and whose autograph graces the back of my copy of "Crime and Punishment" because...
3. He was waiting for his daughter at Denver International after she flew in the seat next to me on a flight from Boston to Denver, a moment which...
4. I consider to be my first date.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Well, I had to do it once. I was flying to Argentina for the holidays one December and my scheduled flight from LaGuardia to Miami was so delayed that I feared I was going to miss my Miami-Santiago connection. I ended up flying stand-by to Miami on an earlier flight out of LaGuardia and barely made my next connection.
It was gut-wrenching. It was nerve-wracking. I was literally the last person called onto the plane. I would not want to do it again.
Except for that my whole job is like flying stand-by. Allow me to explain. So, you may have heard on the news that there is, shall we say, an economic crisis happening. The Governor called a special session to make some budget cuts in light of said economic crisis. Turns out that this very hyped and anticipated special session...well, it basically did not happen. Instead, we got a full hour of some of the best reality TV I have ever seen (another clip here) in the form of a televised 5-way leader's meeting.
So, this last week at work, for all intents and purposes, was like flushing money down the toilet. All the work. All the analysis. All the meetings. All the memos. All the charts. Yeah, they are not looking all that worthwhile right now.
Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy my job very much. I just happen to work for an institution that thrives on last-minute action (or inaction, if you will).
And today as I sat at my desk at the Alfred E Smith Office Building, all that inaction made it feel like I was flying stand-by all over again because all we did was wait. And we waited some more. And we waited for session to be called. And we waited for the education team to be summoned. And we waited for something, anything to happen. And in the end, the flight (i.e. the special session) was cancelled.
The so-called experts have various tips for flying stand-by. I condensed their suggestions into these four main ideas:
1. Don't check luggage.
2. Get to the airport as early as possible.
3. Call the airline ahead of time.
4. Stay at the gate until the doors close.
These are great ideas, but they do not do anything for me at work. So, if you find yourself on stand-by at work, follow these simple tips:
1. Pack four hearty meals. (Preferably in your Green Bag).
2. Make sure your cellphone is fully charged the night before the magically disappearing special session.
3. Park your car in a spot that won't require you to move it for at least three days. (Albany readers, you know what I mean.)
4. Think that you'll be home by midnight, that way getting home earlier than that will seem like a blessing in comparison.
5. Make sure to take plenty of bathroom breaks, otherwise you could get uromisotisis poisoning and die.
6. Get a job with the minority party so that nobody really cares if you are there or not. (Yes, that was mean, but it's true.)
7. Use your extra time at work to send President Bush a thank you card for his wonderful stewardship of the US economy.
8. Learn a foreign language - or in my case, try to finally get a good grasp of English.
9. Start a hunting expedition to kill the office mouse. Behead it and display the severed head as an example to all the other mice.
10. Blog about it.New York State Government: Because somebody has to make Congress look good.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Short story shorter, I played last night in front of a packed house of four fans, one of which was decidedly cuter than the others.
And what a match it was. The team I played for, the "Black" team, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, winning 4-3 after coming back from 3 one goal deficits. Yours truly assisted on the game-winner 47 seconds into the final period.
It was not all grood times last night. It took me just about the first two periods to get some rhythm, and I felt like I had no legs all night. In drop-in hockey, there is a decidedly lack of interest in hustling back for defense, so I was not used to all the intense up and down skating required when you are actively interested in the results.Of special note, the wonderful people at Albany International were using Runway 1 (opposite end pictured above) as the active, which means that players and spectators alike were treated to two takeoffs almost immediately above the facility during the course of the game.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The commission, shockingly dominated by the airline industry, not so shockingly recommended that airlines adopt voluntary guidelines.
Now, I'm no pundit, I know nothing about politics. But, aren't voluntary guidelines what got us into trouble on Wall Street? Voluntary guidelines are the political equivalent of punting - they come after failure to do anything meaningful and you're out of ideas.
What happens when you give a child a "voluntary guideline" such as: "Timmy, it would be nice if you could mow the lawn. I would really like that, but you don't have to if you don't really want to. Only do it if you want to, it's not a big deal. But it would be nice if you would mow the lawn, you know, since I have robotic arms and work five jobs and I can't really do it. But if you don't want to mow the lawn, don't worry about it. It's O.K. Really. Only if you really want to."
Let me tell you a little story: Timmy ain't mowin' the lawn.
My mother never used voluntary guidelines. She always used her favorite grammatical form: the imperative, which goes something like this: "Mow the lawn now if you expect to eat dinner tonight - and look like you're enjoying it, too."
And I mowed and I enjoyed it.
So, basically, the commission is saying go with option 1 and the airline industry promises they will magically do the right thing. Nothing could possibly go wrong with this idea.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
But alas, it was not Governor Paterson that landed the plane, but rather 65 year old Jim O'Neill, a British man who suffered a stroke that caused temporary blindness while flying a Cessna.This is pretty impressive, to say the least. I can barely walk a straight line, and I have functional use of both eyes. And Mr. O'Neill had to account for altitude changes, wind, and other factors.
Think about it this way: it would not even be that easy to pull your car into the garage with someone on the radio giving you directions. Just imagine not being able to judge depth, distances, and speed. Plus, consider that when Mr. O'Neill landed, he did not really have a chance to slam on the brakes if something went suddenly wrong. And he was not landing at 3 mph.
For the sake of scientific research, I attempted the blind car parking experiment with my neighbor Chuck guiding me on the radio. It did not work out too well.Clearly, the lesson here is: don't do stupid things just to prove a point if they are not covered by your car insurance.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
The Learjet 45 is really a great fly in this game. It is a very fast aircraft, and it is challenging to fly, yet a novice user like myself can still manage to land it neatly most of the time. Unfortunately, I have not made any progress with the larger aircraft, even after I had set the goal of landing the Boeing 737 by the general election. No such luck, though. I came close a couple of times, and my technique is improving. But I have the hardest time lining up to the runway, even if my approach is good. God, it's frustrating.
I have been using Burlington International as my hub of choice during most of this, and I am running flights throughout the Northeast. My destinations include Bangor, ME, Portland, ME, Martha's Vineyard, MA, Albany, NY, Syracuse, NY, and Long Island (MacArthur Airport), NY.I had this visitor pull up at the gate next to me during a stop in Albany. Maybe this is the closest I will ever come to landing a B737.
The appeal of these destinations is that they rarely require longer than a 30 minute commitment. Although I dearly enjoy all my Flight Simulator time, I find that the flying part is rather boring, and it is the landings that really get my juices flowing. So, with these destinations I rarely spend more than 20 minutes in flight and the rest of the time is spent on the approach, final, and - hopefully- landing.
Speaking of which, here is one of the better touchdowns. It occurred at Martha's Vineyard.
I chose Burlington as a hub because the airport is fairly easy to spot and the approach is predictable. The active runway in the game is 33, which means that most of my approaches, which hail from the south, allow me to fly right in instead of having to maneuver around. I can't say the same for Portland, ME, which is my secondary hub. Those jerks have had me landing on 36, which really annoys the heck out of me.
To keep the simulation as real as possible, I make a point to "address" the passengers and let them know when they can move about the cabin and when they have to return to their seats. I know it sounds strange, but - I'm strange.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
But, even though I will have to work harder to stay busy and find stuff to blog about, I cannot put into words the satisfaction and closure I felt as I voted.My trip to Scranton, PA on election day was quite fulfilling. I drove down there after voting downtown. I got to Scranton, and they asked me to go to Carbondale, PA - which is about 20 minutes northwest of the Scranton-Wilkes/Barre region.
This region was Hillary Country during the Democratic primary. She won big in this area (by about a 3-1 margin), and so there was a legitimate concern that President-elect Obama was going to struggle bringing these voters home. In the end, Lackawanna County came out in huge numbers for the Democrats - by almost a 2-1 margin. And the region also re-elected two vulnerable Democratic Congressmen (Kajorski and Carney).
I canvassed with Ned, who it turns out, did doctoral work with my stepfather at CSU in the 1970's. Small world, right? We were targeting people who had indicated they were going to vote for Obama, so it was nice in the sense that most of our encounters were love fests. Only one person had changed their mind and decided not to vote. I had been very concerned about this experience. I have been diagnosed as a homosapienaphobic - that is, I am afraid of talking to people. Especially strange people, and even more especially about politics. But, all in all, my experience was quite fulfilling, and I will do it again in 2012. (!!!)
It will be truly a beautiful image to see President Obama in the White House. But it will be equally beautiful to see him boarding Air Force One, which I expect he will have to do a lot as he travels the world to rehabilitate all the valuable relationships that have been damaged by the last 8 years. Hopefully, the sight of this aircraft landing in airports around the world will no longer incite anger - but rather HOPE. Except maybe anger about that horrible Harrison Ford movie, that would be justified.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Look, I grew up in Colorado, and outsiders underestimate the importance of the Broncos, and by extension the complete and total detestation of the Raiders. Coloradoans are such Broncomaniacs, that, in fact, political scientists have theorized that the power structure in Colorado looks something like this:
2. Speaker of the House
3. Senate President
4. Broncos quarterback
5. Joe Sakic
Number 5 on the list is why this did not help either:
I'll be roadtripping to Scranton, PA tomorrow to GOTV (or "get out the vote" for the laymen). Even though I am feeling optimistic, I cannot justify standing on the sidelines when the other side has put all their chips into a neighboring state.
Which reminds me, John McCain thinks Mike Schmidt couldn't hit water if he fell off a boat and that Donovan McNabb throws like a girl.
Just sayin'. (Wink)