Thursday, October 31, 2013

Independent Spirits

We have a major front blowing through this afternoon and evening, and it's been raining and gusting up to 35mph all day. (For those Alaskan giggling at the idea of that as bad weather, remember we have big rigid trees with horizontal limbs down here, and termites. What passes for mild blusteriness in the land of aspens and birch instead makes for falling widowmakers taking out powerlines, the odd roof, cars both parked and moving... and with the massive leaf dump they call fall here, the streets are slick with wet windblown leaves. Kinda like wet ice, in a weird patchy way, to drive on.

The local municipalities took one look at the forecast and promptly cancelled Halloween, moving it to Friday night. I shook my head, put on the porch light, and filled the candy bowl. And they came. Not in as great a number as last year, and the young ones ran from the shelter of the car to the house and back, while the free-roaming clumps inevitably had an older brother or two herding the little ones around with a wary eye to any cars coming - and lots of costumes were looking rather the worse for wind and rain - but they came. No governmental edict or foul weather will keep an American kid from hitting up the neighbors for Halloween candy!

Tomorrow I suspect I'll see a lot less soaked costumes, and more watchful parents approving the events... and tomorrow, I'll ration the candy. Tonight, fortune favors the bold, and they can get what they want for thumbing their nose at those who would cancel trick or treat "for the children's safety."

I love America!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

flying and driving

I got one of those looks from a physician's assistant today, when she read my paperwork and saw I'd put "human" down for my race. But hey, it's true - and I don't believe for a second that assorting and dividing myself and everyone around me into neat checkboxes by skin color or proclaimed fractions of ancestry is going to promote anything but racism. So, human.

When pulling out of the parking lot, I had a revelation that will make awkwardly big pickup trucks much easier to park in the future... trucks that are front wheel drive have the back end follow the front end almost exactly when you pull out. I'd been trying to drive and park the oversized thing like it was a taildragger, or a five-ton order picker, or a double-walkie, or a tugger with a long chain of cages behind it. It's a whole lot easier to pull out of a parking bay when you're not trying to watch for the back end kicking out into a the parked car next to you. *facepalm*

Tells you what I've been driving a lot lately, doesn't it? Not really, there's been a fair bit of work on a reach truck, too, and loading semis with a clamp truck. (Not fun, but it's what I had, we needed to get things moved, and I'm a certified warm body.)

Last weekend I flew in a Cessna 172, with lots of bells and whistles and the new-leather smell of a shiny young airplane. It responds to rudder inputs with all the speed and agility of a drunk three sheets to the wind, but man, are her ailerons snappy! And flaps! Wow, flaps! How cool are flaps! I miss flaps. I was way behind the airplane - even as muscle memory finally caught up, the situational awareness wasn't quite there. The CFI in the left seat seemed to think (or at least he said) I was doing just fine on the landing - but I wasn't. I mean, a nosewheel is so forgiving that I didn't even bounce on the landings, but on my T-crate, some of those would have been tuck-your-tail-between-your-legs-and-crawl-off-the-runway landings. The Cessna? Man, it probably wouldn't even have noticed if I'd landed cross-controlled and with the ailerons the wrong way for a crosswind gust. I'm used to thinking of the Taylorcraft as forgiving - compared to the squirrel-on-crack roll rate and lack of climb of a Grumman yankee, or the sheer throttle and p-factor of a properly modded supercub, she is. But a Cessna 172 - she's as friendly and forgiving, and as willing to play, as a black lab (though with much less underpants-stealing than Barkley.)

This, of course, brings my mind back to landings I made when learning to fly in a 172, and I want to tuck my tail between my legs and crawl off the internets. I've gotten better before, I'll get better yet!

(And I'm taking the CFI for a spin in my old girl this weekend, weather permitting. I wonder if it'll be as interesting for him as the Cessna was for me? He sounds so excited I better haul my butt out to the airport and wash her before then, make her as pretty as I can so he's not too disappointed when he sees a functional but far from show-piece plane.)