Thursday, August 13, 2009

Take a Gander

I love to travel. I love to visit other countries. I love to experience other cultures. What I do not love is flying. It didn't used to bother me, but somewhere in the midst of the last 5 years, in which I have been on about 45 flights, I realized that I really don't enjoy flying all that much. I feel too out of control when we start bouncing around and I especially do not like landings. Even though I know they are an essential element in the process of actually getting off the aircraft, I still dread them.

There is something about the roar of the air as the brakes are applied and the wings are used to slow us down. I guess that sound reminds me of how fast we are actually going and how much force it takes to stop a vehicle the size of an airplane.

A few weeks ago I was on the second leg of my trip to Kiev, Ukraine. We took off out of Chicago's O'Hare airport en route to Frankfurt, Germany in a double decker jumbo jet hauling 350 people (yeah, that's big). Flight time: 8 hours, 30 minutes.

Three hours or so into the flight, we were cruising at an altitude of 35,000ft at about 650mph. I was chillin' in my aisle seat, with my shoes off, jamming to one of my favorite tunes on my mp3 player. Actually, as much as I hate to admit it, I was listening to "Funky Town" by Lipps Inc, and thinking of my daughter Kamica because she always plays the "Air cowbell" (similar to air guitar), whenever that song comes on.

As I sat there, I began to smell some sort of aerosol-ish smell, similar to hairspray. I thought maybe one of the girls behind me was primping or something. The smell got stronger, I thought to myself 'Nobody uses that much hairspray on an airplane'. I thought it was coming from behind me so I looked around, but nothing really seemed amiss back there. So I settled back into my little slice of personal space as I contemplated the smell while doing disco moves in my head.

Within a couple of seconds my contemplation was suddenly interrupted by the unmistakable sound of the air brakes in all their glory and the simultaneous motion of the nose of the plane tilting downward. As I ripped my ear buds out, I heard bells ringing and saw the seat belt lights flashing. And flight attendants scurrying about.

First thoughts: Where did I pack that extra toilet paper?
Then: Why the heck would the pilot be putting the breaks on when we are 5 miles above the Earth? It's not like we can just pull over and check under the hood. Besides, aren't we over the Atlantic?

At that point, the flight attendants were in a fluster, getting things put away, closing curtains, getting people back to their seats. The whole time the sound of the air brakes was resonating throughout the cabin as the entire plane was shaking rapidly.

As I was double checking that my life vest was under my seat and calculating the water temperature of the North Atlantic, the pilot came on the PA. He gave a brief explanation of what was happening, barely audible over the rumble of air brakes. Unfortunately, being that it was a Lufthansa flight, the announcement was in German!

Those who understood the German announcement started excitedly chatting to each other with worried looks on their faces, while those of us who didn't speak German were anxiously awaiting the announcement in English.

Meanwhile, the flight attendants continued their frenzy to get things under control and were telling people to stow their tray table and put their seat in it's upright position.

I thought to myself, "Hey, if we're going down, I may as well be comfortable till we get there." so I left my seat reclined a bit.

The boy across the aisle from me still had his meal tray and was having problems closing his table. I took the tray from him and tried to hand it to the stewardess as she rushed by, but she just said "There's no time, put it under the seat" and she kept going.

No time? What do you mean "No Time"? No time before what? I slid what was left of the kids last supper under the seat in front of me. Finally the Pilot came on and said in English "Smoke has been found in the cabin, we are making an emergency landing".

Where? Wait, where are we landing? An aircraft carrier? Gilligans Island? I had visions of somebody calling me "Little Buddy" for the next 10 years as we frivolously squandered any and all legitimate rescue opportunities.

Over the next 10 minutes or so there were a couple periodic announcements like:
"So far, we believe the situation is under control, but we are going to land to be sure"
"Everything is OK, so far, but we are going to land and have it checked".

Those two words "so far" were in every subsequent announcement, not exactly comforting.

It was dark out, nobody could see anything. No airport. No city. No lights. No land. Nothing.

About 12-15 minutes the initial incident (but what seemed at the time to be much longer), the brakes suddenly came on full force again followed almost immediately by: BAM! We hit the runway and bounced, we did a little roll to the right, a little roll to the left, then we hit the runway again. I was bouncing around in my seat and then thrust into the seat in front of me as the breaks took hold. The plane was shaking and we could see flashing lights outside in the foggy night air.

As we came to a stop, a loud round of applause and cheering erupted. The pilot announced: "Ladies and Gentlemen please remain seated and try to stay calm as we wait for the fire brigade to check out the situation." Yeah, waiting for a fire brigade usually calms me right down...

But apparently there were no inferno of flames and they wanted us to move closer to the terminal or something, because the pilot came back on and said that we "needed to wait for a few minutes before taxiing to the terminal because the brakes had overheated and needed to cool down." Well, duh, I wonder how that happened.

So there I was, sitting in seat 47C looking up the aisle at a couple of firemen in full gear walking toward me, not exactly what you expect to see on an airplane.

The bottom line isn't very dramatic, apparently a coffee maker had blown up or shorted out or something and started a small fire in the galley. Fire extinguishers had been used to douse it (hence the hairspray smell).

As we sat on the tarmac, or Walmart parking lot for all I knew, people were feeling a little more relieved and were trying to figure out exactly where we were. Nobody seemed to know (not even the flight attendants). We had to remain in our seats while the firemen checked things, while the mechanic checked things, while the old coffee maker was removed and while a new one was installed. This whole time, the back door of the plane (9 rows behind me) was opened and it was very chilly out there. Finally after a couple of hours they started passing out some water bottles and I was able to get rid of the stinkin' tray of food that had been under the seat in front of me (however, I believe a few of his left over veggies had made it up as far as First Class during the landing).

Three hours later, after they had apparently cleared the aircraft flight, the engines came back to life. Still having no idea where we were and the fact that, during the landing, the pilot had applied the brakes BEFORE we hit ground, I kinda figured we were in some little podunk airport with a short runway. But we turned that baby around, punched the gas and got the heck out of there.

Only after we were back in the air, did the GPS tell us where we had been. We had landed in Gander, New Foundland, a big island off the Eastern coast of mainland Canada. Gander is a small town on the east side of the island, the last piece of land before heading out over the Atlantic. They have less than 10,000 people, but apparently they have a pretty nice airport - and I thank them for that.

So, if you are ever in the neighborhood (or somewhere above it), you may want to consider stopping in for a Canadian Coffee Break... or maybe NOT.

Friday, June 27, 2008

What's NEXT?

If we are on the freeway and I say "Take the next exit."
Which one would you take? The first one you come to?
The second one you come to? I think you would probably
take the first possible exit, right?

But if, on the freeway, you ask "Should I take this exit?"
and I reply with "No, take the next exit."
I'd bet you'd take the second exit.

So which one is really the "Next Exit"?
Is it the very next one we come to or the one after that?

Did putting the word "very" in front of "next" in that last
sentence, clarify the "next" and mean the first one we come
to as opposed to the second one?

And further more:
When is next Friday?

On Friday, it's pretty obvious that "next Friday" would be
a week later.

On Thursday, it could be argued that "next Friday" is in 8
days, even though the next Friday to come along is actually
the following day.

On Saturday, is "next Friday" in 6 days or 13 days?
I'd guess you'd mean the one in 6 days.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Daylight Saving Time

Yeah, everyone who's seen "National Treasure" knows that
Benjamin Franklin first conceived of the idea, but other
than that and "spring forward; fall back" who really
knows why we do this every year?

As opposed to discussing all of the reasoning behind it,
I am just here to do some pondering and maybe a little

First things first: The original term is "Daylight Saving
Time", NOT: "Daylight Savings Time". It is meant to be a
change in time that will save daylight. Of course, NO
daylight is actually being saved. The daylight is simply
being shifted to a different time of the day.

Now an interesting note is that Arizona does NOT observe
DST (I'm not sure if 'observe' is the correct word there
but it sound good to me). Perhaps even more interesting
is that the Navaho Tribe in Arizona DOES observe DTS
on their reservation. And even more interesting to some
folks; there is a smaller reservation that is completely
surrounded by the Navaho reservation and that smaller
tribe does NOT observe DST.

When I was in high school/college, I did yardwork for a
nice old lady in Salem, Oregon. It facinated me that she
never changed her clocks. She was always on standard
time. Everytime I finished working, she would ask me
when I started, then she would have to look at her clock
and adjust it to the actual time (DST) to figure out how
long I had worked. She was just set in her ways and I
can't say that I blame her.

Although I like getting an 'extra' hour of daylight in the
evening, I also like to get up early on weekends and do
some yardwork, but I have to wait for the sun to come up.


- Say I was up late on a nice fall night about the time
the clocks are going to be changed. If I go to Denny's
and order some sort of Slam, can I eat it before I order
it? (Order at 1:55am, eat it at 1:20am).

- If I get a speeding ticket at 1:30am in one town, then
go to another nearby town and get another speeding ticket
at 1:30am, do I have an alibi?

- If one twin is born at 1:50am, then another is born 15
minutes later at 1:05am, which one is older?

Monday, February 18, 2008

My 10 cents worth

OK, so I realize that many of you did not get my last post because you are used to the decimal numbering system. Let me explain briefly how the binary system (which is the basic building blocks for computers and everything else digital) works. In binary, there are only two digits (0 and 1), no other digits are allowed as opposed to the decimal system, which uses 10 digits (0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9).
Here is a short chart showing a decimal value followed by it's binary equivalent:

Decimal => Binary
0 => 0
1 => 1
2 => 10
3 => 11
4 => 100
5 => 101
etc => etc

So, "10" represents TEN in decimal but in binary it represents TWO.

Therefore, my last post, when read by someone who thinks in binary would say this:
"There are TWO kinds of people in the World, those who think in binary and those who don't"

If you read it thinking in decimal, which you most likely did, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

So my last post, which I actually find quite humorous (but I may be the only one), doesn't translate well for most of the known World.

And there you have it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Todays thought (but hopefully not the only one)

There are 10 kinds of people in the World.
Those who think in binary and those who don't.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dream On

Dreams are a very interesting concept. In a recent comment, Shannon posed this question: if you have a dream, and there is a person or place in your dream that you've never seen, does that place or person exist?

Over the years, my wife has asked, or at least wondered aloud, the same basic question a few of times.

Well, I am always up for giving my opinion on anything of a vague nature; so here we go.

First of all, I ask that you clear you mind for a moment. Picture yourself on a mountaintop with a gentle breaze blowing. In the meadow just below, there is a young fawn frollicking about. Seriously, stop reading for a minute and picture the scene.

OK, now that we are all warm and fuzzy inside, let's continue.
If you played along, let me ask you a couple questions.
1) Was the place you imagined a real place?
2) Was the deer you imagined a real deer?

I'd say that our mind can construe pretty much whatever we want it to, real or not. If you know of a mountaintop that over looks a meadow, you very possibly thought of that. Otherwise, you impovised. You know what a mountaintop looks like and you know what a meadow looks like, so you created your own imaginary place.

You know what a deer looks like because you have seen one in person or in a picture or video, so you can imagine one. In this case you are probably picturing, to the best of your recollection, a "real" deer.

I think the same holds true for people. Even before any of us are of grade school age, we have seen thousands and thousands of people. When we dream, we can either recall (subconsciously) that grocery clerk from 1985 or maybe someone you walked past in the airport somewhere along the way.

Now if I would have told you to think of a deer hobbling about on a broken leg, you could have, but unless you have actually seen a deer with a broken leg before, your mind is improvising again.

In this same way, I believe your mind can "adjust" or even combine these stored images. For instance you should be able to picture in your mind what I would look like with a beard, even though none of you have never seen me with one. It's not a real beard and everyone will have their own interpretation, but your mind can create it.

So, in summary, I say that no, not all of the people in our dreams are necessarily real, but I think our mind has created the images from a real person or persons somewhere in your past, be it recent or distant.

Also, we definitely dream of some real places, but we can also make up what ever surroundings we want or 'need' for our dream.

There you have it, another worthless opinion :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

If the Shoe Fits

I wear shoes sized about 10, sometimes 9 ½, sometimes 10 ½ . So what does that mean?
And why is a men's size 10 a different size than a woman's size 10? Why not just tell me the interior dimensions of the shoe? That way I would always know which shoe fits my foot, whether it's a steel toed work boot or a color coordinated pump, which, of course, I know nothing about.

When I go buy a pair of Levi's, I can look at the label and grab a pair that is 29inches around the waist and 32 inches long (ok, ok, maybe I couldn't actually squeeze into them, but I could find them). I don't have to look for a size 18 ½ and guess at what the real dimensions are. I know, it's not uncommon for women's and kids clothing to go by sizes. But I digress?

So, I usually wear a size 10 shoe, but when I buy one of my favorites, and an American classic I might add, Converse Allstars, I wear a 9 ½ . The shoe salesman will proudly proclaim that "Converse tend to run big", as if to assure me that he is indeed well versed in the internal workings of the shoe manufacturers and therefore worthy of my business. Now as much as I love Converse, let's be frank; They don't run big, they are just labeled wrong! If any given shoe company is consistently a ½ size off so as to warrant the "They tend to run big" comment for over 50 years, why don't they suck it up, admit they are wrong and label the dang thing right (as right as they can using a 0.5 increment numbering system instead of a more accurate form of measurement).

Furthermore, kids have their own sizing and once they reach a certain point (size 13) they get to start over as a real person, at size 1. Again, why don't we just indicate how long the shoe is and let us figure out the rest. This brings up another stinkin' labeling disaster; baby clothes. Yeah, according to my calculations every child in the US no matter how large or small they were at birth, no matter how "big boned" their parents are, no matter how many mashed peas and carrots they've been eating, should, in theory, be the same size when they are 9months old, so let's just label the clothes by age instead of size!

Although the whole shoe and clothes sizing schemes are very interesting and could merit their own columns, they are not the crux (interesting word - crux) of this article.

I would like to go a bit deeper and explore an even bigger mystery: sock sizing. Socks have their own sizing chart, one that is totally different than the shoe sizing chart.

So, if my foot is 10 7/8 inches long, I need a size 9 ½ shoe and a size 13 sock. Genius. Furthermore, that size 13 sock says right on the package "Fits shoe size 9-12". Now come on, if my foot is different enough to require a different shoe size, shouldn't I also get the option to wear a different sized sock? Maybe I will go back to wearing the ever fashionable tube socks, at least they don't have a pre-determined heal reinforcement, so nobody knows if they really fit or not.

And another thing, why can't I get a pair of socks that are not, for lack of a better word, ambidextrous? The front of my foot is not shaped like a brick, why is my sock? Just for the record, I am aware of some socks that are foot specific, but I am NOT going to were anything with multicolored, individually wrapped toes!

Well, somewhere along the line, a person much more blog-knowledgeable than myself told me that I should keep my blogs short and sweet. I don't do sweet very well, so I'm gonna try to adhere more closely to the first part. But at the same time, by visiting a blog entitled "Endless Rambling", you should inherently expect that some posts will be somewhat opposite of "short and sweet".

Until next time...put a sock in it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

My date with the Home-Wrecker

So there I was, heading to work on a fairly uneventful morning. I was traveling North on Meridian Road a little before 5:30am. As I approached the intersection at Victory, I noticed flashing yellow lights from a couple of pilot cars. One of them swerved and came to a stop slightly in my lane. The car in front of me stopped and I came to a stop quite a ways behind him (maybe50 feet from the actual intersection). A couple cars were passing in the lane to my right so I just stayed where I was. It was dark out and other than the truck pulling it, there were no lights on the oversized load.

Just before it reached the intersection, the pilot cars took off and headed South. The car up a bit in my lane pulled around and took off. I could see that the load was a very wide one-story building. There were three empty lanes beside me and the house was comfortably taking up residence within them. That is until the driver decided he wanted to take up even more room and swerved toward the center of the road as he went through the intersection. About that time I also noticed that the steel I-beam that was supporting the house, was also protruding a couple feet beyond the structure itself, heading right toward me.

As the house barreled down on me (30-40 mph I'd guess), my destiny was clear, I would share the same fate as the Wicked Witch of the West. When CSI showed up, they would find me under a house with only my legs visible, my converse sparkling in the moonlight.

I reached for the shift lever to slam it into reverse, but I never made it that far, because I didn't have time to see if anybody was coming up behind me or in the other North bound lane. Then Holy-Basements Batman, the house was practically on top of me and BAM!

I was jolted back a bit but then just sat there shaking my head, thinking "That didn't just happen". I limped my truck to the side of the road and saw that the house had stopped (basically creating Meridian Road Cul-de-sac). "Sheesh!" I said to myself, "this guy must not be House Trained." About then, a lady came running around from the back porch (the drivers side) and was very apologetic. She asked if I was ok, said "I'm so sorry" and was more than happy to write down her name and number on the back of the gas receipt I handed to her. She seemed to be the "My house is your house" kind of a person; up until I asked for her insurance, that is. She said "Well, see, that's the thing...I'm gonna have to pay you out of my pocket".

Hmm, yeah, I've heard that before. I took it as "I'm sorry I don't actually have any insurance, is that a problem?" I pondered that for a moment: Would a homeowners policy cover this? About that time she turned and looked at the cul-de-sac and said "I gotta get this outta here." As they drove away, I thought "There goes the neighborhood".

So I called my wife to let her know what happened and see if she could come and save me. The truck made some noises as I pulled it to the side of the road and I couldn't open my door, so I hadn't gotten out yet. While she was looking up the number for the county sheriff, I saw one stopped at the light behind me, so I jumped out the passenger side to flag him down. Apparently somebody had called and told them that there was some dude (me) sitting on the side of the road in a wrecked truck, so the cop was coming my way already.

He had no clue what had taken place so the first thing he asked me was "So, what happened?" He was very friendly, but I sensed a bit of apprehension in his voice and couldn't help but think that he figured I had been drinking and rammed something, then pulled over.

"Well," I said, "I was stopped in the road right there and along came this house and hit me."

I thought to myself, "Wow, that might not have sounded very convincing" and had visions of walking a line and breathing into a straw.

To my surprise he didn't make me touch my nose with alternating fingertips, but instead kind of chuckled as he looked around and said "Uh, where's the house?"

In response, I pointed off into the darkness and eeked out a "Headed toward Kuna."

By this time another other police officer (from Meridian Police Dept) had joined the festivities and stated "I'm going to go after the house."

It was all very humorous in a not-so-funny sort of way.

More police stopped by briefly, including a traffic cop on a motorcycle, before continuing on to the site where the building had been pulled over.

Soon, with Dionna and the girls there to pick me up and a tow truck to pick up my now snub-nosed Silverado, I gave the officer my completed accident report. I instructed the towing guy to drop the truck off at the Chevy dealership in Boise on Fairview and we all parted ways.

On the way home we saw the house, which was now entirely blocking Amity road, hanging over onto both shoulders of the two lane road. There were a handful of miscellaneous cops there; city, county and state with lights flashing to help keep an eye on the whole process. House arrest, I suppose.

At 9am, I looked up "Chevrolet of Boise" on Fairview and called them:
The receptionist transferred me to the Service Department, which had no clue what I was talking about and said that nothing had been dropped off that morning. So I asked for the number to the Chevy body shop. He fumbled around and asked a few other people, but couldn't come up with the number. So I called the receptionist back and asked for the body shop. She sounded confused and ruffled through some papers before finally giving me a number to call.

I called that number (which answered Peterson Body Shop), they said they had no truck but that there were "two" Chevy of Boise auto body shops and she gave me the number of the other one - the number she gave me was the same number that had given me her number.

I called first number again (they answered Lithia) and they told me they didn't have a truck and furthermore didn't have a body shop any longer. She went on to tell me that Peterson Auto had purchased Lithia just two days ago and now all body work was done across the street at Peterson Body Shop (which is now technically the only Chevrolet of Boise body shop).

I called AAA to get the number of the towing company.

I called the towing company. The dispatcher chuckled and told me she had just talked to the driver about this and that, after some confusion, they told the driver to leave the truck at Chevrolet of Boise, space 23.

I called the first Chevy number again and they said that they hadn't gotten any keys turned in and that they don't even have a body shop on site.

I called the second Chevy number and they reassured me that they don't have the truck and that they don't even have numbered spaces anyway. I asked a very strait forward question: "OK, tell me one thing. Are you Chevrolet of Boise?"

To this her answer was, and I quote, "Ummm, I don't know."

Come on, even the "Would you like fries with that?" girl at McDonalds knows where she works.

Well, getting nowhere over the phone, we had to drive down to the Chevy dealer, locate my truck in the back lot and show them where it was. Both places are supposedly owned by the same company now, but didn't seem to have any coherent communication.

The Peterson Body Shop wasn't very professional and just seemed very lackadaisical (cool word). The young receptionist was more interested in how Dionna did her hair in the morning, what kind of curling iron she used and how much hair spray, than helping me. As we waited for the appraisal, she went back talking specifics about hair, then finally moved on to playing checkers on her computer (and actually told us how much she liked play games on the computer).

We did end up taking the truck to a different body shop. One that actually seemed to knew who they were and what they were talking about.

That's the story for is a photo that I like to call "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition":

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

In Case of Emergency

This is a test. This is only a test. For the next sixty seconds,
this blog will conduct a test of the Emergency Blogcast System.
The blogcaster of your area in voluntary cooperation with
himself, unbeknowst to federal, state or local authorities, has
developed this system to keep you informed in the event of a
virtual emergency.

If this had been an actual cyber emergency, the Attention Signal
you never heard would have been followed by unofficial information,
and/or no further instructions.

Thank you for your time, your participation in this effort makes this
blog a safer place for us all.