Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On the road again

This has been a busy year, lots of business trips and a quick weekend or two thrown in for fun. These are kind of like the previews before the feature film. It is time for the major adventure of the year. We will be visiting Bert and Someone for the first week, then I am taking DG to Brussels, Amsterdam and Normandy, then back to London for a long weekend and home. I promise lots of interesting pictures and probably a story or two from along the way. I should be back posting August 14th. Sorry about the long break, you all talk amongst yourselves and you'll be fine while I am off gathering blogg fodder.


Monday, July 23, 2007


I ran across this very nice fountain in the airport in Detroit. It was nice to get my feet wet again.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Airline and airport ramble

Special congratulations are due to Northwest Airlines, for the first time ever they got me to my destination and back home on time and with my luggage. Bankruptcy has been good for them.
This was taken in the Northwest Terminal in Detroit. The terminal is so long that they run a monorail from one end to the other, inside the building. Of course when you are flying to and from Hooterville, you have to go down into a mood lit tunnel and pass over to the comuter termial.
All in all, not a bad trip. On time, nothing lost, the plane didn't back into anything.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Case Studies

Breaking the class into small groups to work on case studies allows the trainees to apply the knowledge and reinforce their learning, it also allows me to rest my wings for a few minutes.

I have returned from Detroit. The training was a smashing success. One of our local experts was a local judge. She is legendary. She started out by telling me about her plans to go bear hunting in Alaska in September and finished with a story about riding a Jet-Ski across the bay to perform an emergency wedding (the priest had a car accident and was headed to the hospital) with her judicial robes flowing in the breeze. If all judges were like her, I'd go back to trial law.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Leaving Las Vegas $3 ahead

I like airports. I always have. There is something about all of the flying, and people coming and going that I get a kick out of. I find it fascinating to walk down the concourse and look at all of the places that planes are leaving for and think of the places I would love to go to, and of the places I hope to never be forced to go to again, ever! For those who must know the places I hope to never see again include Fayetteville, North Carolina, Detroit (damn, someone has bribed me into going there next week,) Bismarck, North Dakota (once was enough), and JFK (the worst major airport in North America.) Even in the worst airport, it is fun to watch the people and the planes and the slot machines.

Like there are not enough games of chance in an airport today! Will the plane arrive on time? Will it leave on time? Will it back into another airplane? Will the flight crew expire before takeoff? Will the airline go bankrupt again before we land? And now slot Machines, just what airports need another sucker bet in the world of modern air transport.

Slot machines sing the sirens’ song for me. There is something magical about the bells and clinks and clanks of the wondrous games of chance. Now I know my limits, and I am a cheap little bird so about $20 is my limit. But I do like playing. So two weeks ago when I was passing through Vegas I had my chance. Real live slot machines in the center of a nice 1970’s vintage round terminal end surrounded by gates (JFK needs to go see what can be done with these classic terminals besides letting pigeons fly around in them.) Now the machines have changed over the years. You can no longer saunter up and drop a coin in and pull the handle, you now slide a bill in and push the buttons. I slipped in a fiver and in about 2 minutes it was gone. I slid in a $10 and in about 5 minutes I was about $10 ahead. I stayed long enough to cash out with $18 leaving me $3 ahead. And yes I cashed out while I was ahead. Then my flight was delayed, and delayed, and the bells kept calling me back and I resisted. I left Las Vegas $3 ahead.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How can it only be Wednesday?

It has been a long hot week. It is bringing out the crazies. Today DG had a nice conversation with an old client who is currently recouperating in a rubber room, and three or four more cleints that need to visit the nice person in the rubber room. A few more days like this and DG will be ready to go visit the nice person in the nice secure hospital (ah, but they are letting her out in a couple of days.)
Detroit early next week (only because someone is paying us to go) and two weeks till we fly off to see Bert and Someone. TR

Monday, July 09, 2007


A well fed bear, is a happy bear. And a happy bear won't eat you!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Visiting the Bears

While I was in Anchorage I dropped in to see a few bears. They are so warm and fuzzy and fun to be around. They like to play with their visitors. You never know who you are going to run into, Woodchuck is that you? I bet you told Mrs Chuck you were out demontrating horizontal stabilizing dampers to some camping dealer in Utah, or scouting for a new nest site. Oh well, I'll never tell.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Great view out the front of the plane as we flew up the gorge of the Ruth Glacier. I was able to sit in the front. I hadn't been in a single engine airplane in years (more then I care to admit.) It was great fun, especially sitting up front in the co-pilot seat with the incredible view. Yes we did turn on time.

We landed on a lake on the back side of the Ruth Glacier. The pilot said that this is one of very few times that he has ever landed on this lake. The weather was perfect and the water level was up several feet in the past week giving the pilot confidence that there were not an submerged bolders to hit. The landing was incredibly smoth, I had to look down to tell that we were on the water. We spent a few mintes wandering around, taking pictures, picking up rocks and stretching our wings. Then it was back in to the air and back to Anchorage. I want to go bear viewing the next trip.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Don't Forget to Turn

Several times I had to restrain myself from reminding the pilot to turn. The first time was just after take off. Without turning we would have flown right across the main runway of the Anchorage International airport not a mile away. The flight pattern was filled with huge 747 cargo planes, I think we could have flown right into the engine of one of them. Fortuneately the pilot turned without prompting. Later on in the shadow of the valley of the Ruth glacier (how close can I get) I was hoping that he would remember to turn before we left an oil stain on the towering granite canyon walls. He turned.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Early Morning on Lake Hood

You know it is a good thing that I didn't hear the statistic that 5 bush planes a year crash in Danali National park until after we returned home. Time was tight on our recent trip, and the way to see the most in the least amount of time was to take a flightseeing tour departing from Lake Hood in Anchorage. http://www.flyrusts.com/index.html

So here I am early in the morning try to remember how the old saying goes, there are old pilots and bold pilots but there are very few old bold pilots. I was wondering what our pilot would be like.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

When Penguins Fly

The fun began changing planes in Vegas at about midnight on Friday night. Just before the door to the plane closed Ma Mullet went wailing down the aisle “we’re going to have to leave Bobby-Dale behind in Sin-City, they won’t let him on the plane." There were about a dozen members of the Mullet clan on board returning home from one of them renewing their wedding vows before the King (Elvis) in Las Vegas. It never was entirely clear why Bobby-Dale was being denied boarding, something about a fee that had to be paid for him to fly at that time on that flight (with the rest of the clan) and no one in the Mullet clan having a credit card to pay it (and the airline refusing to take cash at the boarding gate.) Members of the clan ran down the aisle to comfort Ma, who wailed even more about how terrible the airline was. The door was closed, she wailed some more and the Senior flight attendant stormed up the aisle, ordered the jet-way back and the door reopened. She talked with the Mullet family, with airline staff and even had Bobby-Dale brought to the door to say (with a grin on his face) “it’s ok, I’ll fly home tomorrow.” Finally after about 20 minutes they gave Bobby-Dale the keys to one of the pick-up-trucks parked at the airport and it was agreed that the rest of the family would fly peacefully without him (they offered to let any or all of them off if they couldn’t fly away and leave him behind in Sin-City.) The result of all of this commotion is that we were about 45 minutes late leaving Las Vegas making my 45 minute connection in Charlotte terribly tight.

Now airline schedules are as well padded as a thin starlet's bust, so when we landed I had 17 minutes to change concourses in Charlotte to catch my connecting flight. I don’t think we knocked anyone over as we flew through the airport, arrived at the gate about 11 minutes before departure (they close the little commuter flights 10 minutes before flight time so we were barely on time) only to be told that the flight had been delayed and in fact just that moment cancelled. I asked the nice lady what she could do and she said nothing and sent me to stand in line at customer service (I grumped at her, but it did no good.) The line at the service desk was not long, but everyone ahead of me was furious. When I got to the desk I looked at the nice young man and said, “I know if you could fix the weather, the plane, the crew or what ever is wrong you would have, but you can’t, what are my options for getting home to day I have been traveling since yesterday afternoon?” After suggesting a 7:45 PM flight (at 7:45 AM after I had been flying since 4:00 PM the day before) he said that they would fly into another city 90 miles from home and provide ground transportation to my home airport. I said that sounds ok, let’s give it a try. He said it would be faster if I went back to the gate and had them fix the ticket (back to the lady who 10 minutes before said she couldn’t help me, but he called her and now she could help me.) There were two flights leaving in the next couple of hours, I was placed as a standby on the first flight and confirmed on the second flight.

There were enough no shows that all of the standbys boarded the first flight. Then we all got off the plane, because the co-pilot was stuck in traffic on his way to the airport (lucky him.) About 45 minutes later a co-pilot was pulled from another flight, we re-boarded and the door was closed.

Believe it or not, this is then things get weird, and funny. The plane started to push back and there was this clatter and bit of a bump, I turned to the guy next to me and quipped “I hope the dog we just backed over will be ok.” The plane was pulled forward, stopped and started back again and this time it was more of a scraping and crunching sound. The plane came to a stop, the door to the cockpit flew open and the captain shouted at the flight attendant open the door and stormed off the plane. He went to inspect the carnage. We had backed into another plane, pulled forward and backed into it again. Parts were hanging loose from the splintered wing tips. He made a slashing gesture across his throat (never a good sign!) My best guess is that it will take six months for them to finish up the paperwork with the FAA. After about 10 minutes the co-pilot (undoubtedly wishing he was stuck in traffic or still on the plane he had been pulled off of) announced that we had experienced a little problem on the push back and we would need to deplane while they figured out what to do.

Suits and real workers descended on the scene. Accusations ensued including the literal pointing of fingers. After about 30 minutes the ground crew started unloading the baggage (not a good sign.) A few minutes later it was announced that they had cancelled someone else’s flight and that we would take their plane while they all went to stand in line at customer service. While we milled around the co-pilot started to walk away and I told him “you can’t leave us,” he said “I’ve just been transferred to another flight” (with a relieved look on his face.) Half an hour later another co-pilot was suited up and ready to go. I was back on my way to another city to eventually take a bus to my home airport. Oh yes, my luggage arrived about 30 minutes after the bus (on a different plane that I was never scheduled on.)

Four more airline flights this year, I wonder what will happen the next time the little penguin tries to fly.