Sunday, January 25, 2009

the future of flight

With a bad economy, the airline industry always teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and gas prices threatening to rise to astronomical levels, flying looks like a risky business to get into. Add the fact that flying can be less than enjoyable at times (ok, most of the time), and we can all agree that there is a lot of room for improvement in commercial flying.

posted this article from Wired about Finnair's vision for the future of flight. While there are some interesting concepts, I think some of the them are definitely flights of fancy.

Should everyone have their own aircraft?
In the last three years of being an instructor pilot in the Air Force, I can say that not everyone is meant to be a pilot. We have enough trouble teaching students that already have experience flying. Think of all the bad drivers you know and then give them a third dimension in which to control their vehicle, while they are required to talk on a radio and look inside at some sort of control panel to monitor airspeed, direction, maybe a GPS. In 2008 there were 147 aircraft accidents and 876 deaths. Can you imagine what that number would be if that jerk who just cut you off while talking on his cell phone was allowed to fly? While the dream of every one having a "family jet" a la the Jetsons is great, it is totally unrealistic and, I would argue, very unsafe.

Will flights be more enjoyable?
Finnair envisions flying cruise ships where "personal flight attendants, pre-flight yoga lounges, sleeping pods and meals featuring something called 'eco-food'" are available. They even describe aircraft that are practically flying cities, complete with beauty parlors and a gym. Now don't get me wrong, this sounds great, but this isn't that much different than what's available to the ultra rich these days anyway. And how many flights are long enough to allow people to enjoy these perks if they are available? International flights definitely, but if air travel gets faster, as it inevitably will, most flights will take less time anyway. While I do often wish I could get up and take a walk about half way into a two hour flight, I don't think going for a run is really in the cards. Air travel isn't about the journey, its about the destination.

So call me a skeptic, but I'll believe this stuff when it when I see it. Air travel will just suck less in 2093.

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looking to save some money?

Then don't waste your food. Whether its that banana with the brown spots or the last bit of cereal in the bottom of the box, Americans throw away an average of a pound of edible food a day. I would be interesting to see what the study considered edible, but I believe that number. I'm defiantly guilty of letting food go to waste.

Linked from Mark's Daily Apple.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

need a job?

The Air Force is looking apparently. Like this should be a surprise. This was on the Air Force Times website. This will probably be the first and only time I actually visit it.

Retirees, reservists to be tapped for empty jobs

By Bruce Rolfsen - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jan 21, 2009 18:41:39 EST

The Air Force is turning to retirees and reservists to fill 1,600 empty flying and staff positions — a strategy that could eventually have 58-year-old lieutenant colonels flying alongside officers half their age.

If you are a retired rated officer or a rated officer on traditional reserve status, the Air Force wants you back on active-duty status to fly or serve in staff positions for up to four years.

For retired officers, the program is open to aviators who retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel or below and will not be older than 60 when their service starts.

For former rated officers O-5 and below who left before they were eligible to retire, the program is open to aviators on individual ready reserve status or serving as traditional members of the Reserve or Air National Guard.

Successful applicants are expected to pass the Air Force fitness test for their age group.

Application information should be posted later this week on the Air Force Personnel Center’s Web site.

While the article makes it seem like 58-year-olds are going to be flying fighters, the it is much more likely that they will get these retired or separated former-AF pilots to fly UAVs. They are still considered "flying" positions, and are one of the only jobs in the AF that is not properly manned. This will probably be good news for anyone eligible that has recently lost a job in the current stellar economy.

And I do not like the AF Times because the one time I actually spent money to buy it, the publication called the F-117 and the F-15 the "Fighting Falcon." Not exactly great fact-checking there...


now you know, the rest of the story....

A story send to me by my father.

In a supermarket, Kurtis the stock boy, was busily working when a new voice
came over the loud speaker asking for a carry out at register 4. Kurtis was
almost finished, and wanted to get some fresh air, and decided to answer the
call. As he approached the check-out stand a distant smile caught his eye, the
new check-out girl was beautiful. She was an older woman (maybe 26, and he was
only 22) and he fell in love.

Later that day, after his shift was over, he waited by the punch clock to find
out her name. She came into the break room, smiled softly at him, took her card
and punched out, then left. He looked at her card, BRENDA. He walked out only
to see her start walking up the road. Next day, he waited outside as she left
the supermarket, and offered her a ride home. He looked harmless enough, and she
accepted. When he dropped her off, he asked if maybe he could see her again,
outside of work. She simply said it wasn't possible.

He pressed and she explained she had two children and she couldn't afford a
baby-sitter, so he offered to pay for the baby-sitter. Reluctantly she accepted
his offer for a date for the following Saturday. That Saturday night he arrived
at her door only to have her tell him that she was unable to go with him. The
baby-sitter had called and canceled. To which Kurtis simply said, "Well,
let's take the kids with us."

She tried to explain that taking the children was not an option, but again not
taking no for an answer, he pressed. Finally Brenda, brought him inside to meet
her children. She had an older daughter who was just as cute as a bug, Kurtis
thought, then Brenda brought out her son, in a wheelchair. He was born a
paraplegic with Down Syndrome.

Kurtis asked Brenda, "I still don't understand why the kids can't
come with us?" Brenda was amazed. Most men would run away from a woman
with two kids, especially if one had disabilities - just like her first husband
and father of her children had done. Kurtis was not ordinary - - - he had a
different mindset.

That evening Kurtis and Brenda loaded up the kids, went to dinner and the
movies. When her son needed anything Kurtis would take care of him. When he
needed to use the restroom, he picked him up out of his wheelchair, took him and
brought him back. The kids loved Kurtis. At the end of the evening, Brenda
knew this was the man she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life

A year later, they were married and Kurtis adopted both of her children.
Since then they have added two more kids.

So what happened to Kurtis the stock boy and Brenda the check-out girl? Well,
Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Warner now live in Arizona , where he is currently employed
as the quarterback of the National Football League Arizona Cardinals and has his
Cardinals in the hunt for a possible appearance in the Super Bowl. Is this a
surprise ending or could you have guessed that he was not an ordinary person.

It should be noted that he also quarterbacked the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. He has also been the NLF's Most Valuable Player twice and the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

I am originally from Phoenix, so naturally, I'm hoping the underdog Cards continue their streak.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

101 in 1001

So I have become a big fat of CrossFit and Mark's Daily Apple, among a few other fitness and nutrition sites. Crossfit tends to kick your butt in 20 minutes or less and Mark promotes Primal Living, basically eating and exercising like a caveman. What better way to live for a pilot! We are practically cavemen anyway... but thankfully with less hair. I'm sure I will do plenty of posting with links from CrossFit and Mark, but I did come across something interesting Mark posted recently.

Everyone tends to do New Year's resolutions that many never keep. Now that we are most of the way through January, I'm sure if you made a resolution or goal for the year, you might already have disappointed yourself or found excuses to not do what you set out to on January one. I know I have. But over at Day Zero, they take a longer view of things. Their aim is that you try to achieve 101 goals in 1001 days. That's about 2.75 years. That's pretty lofty, but I like it much better than just the traditional New Year resolution. It adds not only short term goals, but some medium term goals as well.

I'm not going to post my entire list, but here are a few highlights:
4. Read 50 books
7. Watch 100 documentaries
11. Donate 101 items
15. Do 100 push-ups a day for 50 days straight
35. Send a card to someone once a month
54. Coach a kid's soccer team
59. Watch all three Godfather movies in one sitting
73. Go to a beer festival
87. Go to my 10 year high school reunion
99. Work up to deadlifting twice my body weight

If you looks at all the lists people have posted at Day Zero, many have either quit posting or stopped working on their goals all together. But I also think it would be an interesting experiment to just make the list and see what you actually did in over jsut under three years without actually working through the list. I think people would be surprised how much they get accomplished.


Ok... here we go again...

So I'm starting this over again! There have been a lot of changes in my life since July, and I'm still extremely busy, but I constantly read things I want to post. The itch is getting to me, so back to it I am. I'm going to be taking a month or two off from my Master's degree boondoggle (I'm half way done, YAY!) travel some to bonny ol' England and have my own personal pub crawl in Dublin in the near future. I should have some fun stories to share along with the occasional news/commentary/punditry. Hope I didn't lose all of you. Pass it along if you know someone who used to read this quaint little blog. I'll be happy to have you all back.