Tuesday, March 29, 2005

M&M's go to the 'Dark Side'

That’s right fellow chocolate connoisseurs: Star Wars Episode III themed dark chocolate M&M’s!! And Jedi themed regular M&M’s with light colors and “Jedi blue.” Could life get any better?
Continuing with the Star Wars theme, here is the Star Wars Gangsta Rap if you haven’t already seen it:

Ok, so while most of you haven’t even started the last entry, here’s a quick update:
Pray for me for the next month, because of the weather this semester I’m way behind on my flight time, so I need to be flying just about every day for the next three weeks to catch up (and that’s assuming the weather cooperates and I can get a plane, tough conditions to meet).

Also, I have two big tests on Thursday morning back to back. The first is a test in mean old Prof. Mitch Grundman’s CFI Ground class. The second is a lab test in Nolan’s ATC class. I’m completely not ready for either.

Lastly, the NTSB is going to release their preliminary report on the N999SK crash in a few days. According to the latest scuttlebutt around the airport, it looks like icing may not have been a factor after all. The pilot was not instrument rated (and therefore shouldn’t have been in the air at all in the overcast 600ft weather) and there might have been alcohol involved. So yeah, we’ll have to wait and see what the NTSB says.

And now, I turn the floor over to my loyal audience (this means YOU) for commentary…

Monday, March 28, 2005


I suppose it's time for an update, seeing as how it's been a week (an eventful week at that). We managed to get almost all of the 270+ Everystudent shirt orders distributed between Sunday and Tuesday evening (that was quite a headache). I actually spent several hours on Tuesday morning (including in class, but don't tell my prof) going through the list of orders and using Facebook, the Cru Photo directory, and directory.purdue (the official Purdue directory) figuring out where everyone lives so we could get them their shirts. We wore the shirts from Wednesday through Friday and had several hundred fliers on the ground around campus, so I think it's safe to say that just about everyone here saw the name at least once. Sadly, there's no way to tell how many people actually went to the site, but it was enough to propel Purdue to the number one school in hits to the site (previously we were #2, but they don't have hard numbers to give us an idea of how much of a difference that is). We also had good turnouts to the Passion showings on Thursday and Friday, including a lot of people who are not regular Cru people (that's good).

The rest of the week was busy, but not all that interesting (mainly evidenced by the fact that I don't remember most of it), so I'll skip to the big events of Saturday:
So I get up at my usual time on Saturday to prepare for my 7:30am flight slot, and around 6:45 I get a call from my instructor. I had just been looking at the weather reports online and because of being overcast 600ft AGL and the low freezing level had come to the same conclusion as him: it was a no-go day (as you know, the air gets cooler as you go up, so the freezing level is where that temp is 0 Celsius, if you are in the clouds when it's that cold you are in danger of the water vapor that makes up the clouds freezing onto your wings and killing your lift[this is bad]). So I go back to bed and get up around noon. As soon as I turn my monitor on, I see that a friend had instant messaged me asking "Are you there??? You alive? There was a crash." Immediately I IM back asking for details, but she doesn't have any, so I start looking for news articles online and making calls. Within a few minutes I know that it was a Lafayette Aviation Piper Arrow, with a man and a woman onboard, both dead. It went down in the McCormick Woods at the NW corner of the Purdue Golf Course. Over the remainder of the day I was able to figure out that it was no one I know (although there were a couple of scares with people we couldn't get a hold of), and they couldn't positively identify the bodies until Sunday afternoon (the only identifiable remains of the woman were two fingers they used for prints). Josh and I drove out to the site early afternoon, but we couldn't get close enough to see anything more than a glimpse of mangled metal (the Exponent has a good article and pictures http://www.purdueexponent.org/interface/bebop/showstory.php?date=2005/03/28§ion=campus&storyid=index). The current suspicion is that the plane picked up icing in the clouds (based on weather reports at the time) and went into a stall/spin situation (based on the damage to the plane). There is also a rumor that the pilot was only a Private Pilot and didn't have his Instrument Rating, so it's not inconceivable to guess that he got disoriented in the clouds flying in hard IMC conditions. Needless to say, this has everyone at the airport a little shaken up. I didn't know either of them, but aviation is a tight knit community so we all feel the loss.

In related news, there was another accident Saturday morning in Shane's career field. As some of you know, Shane is a close friend of mine who graduated this fall and has been working for the CSX railroad company. He recently got back from 2 months of training elsewhere in the nation and is now working for them here in Lafayette. Saturday morning he was on a train going up to Chicago and had to delay his departure long enough to let an Amtrak pass them. A few miles up the road (well, rail actually), the Amtrak came up on a rail bridge in Brookston. As the driver approached the bridge at ~60mph, the engineer noticed two women walking their dog on the bridge. When he blew the train whistle, they turned around and froze. There was nothing the engineer could do, there was no way to stop the train in time and the women could not jump out of the way because they were on the bridge. If that Amtrak had been a little later that morning, it would have been Shane's train that hit them. Needless to say, it's a tragedy already, but it would have been worse if it had been him hitting them.

So with two fatalities in each of our respective career fields, we both spent the rest of the day together trying to first cope, and then trying to get our minds off the situation. That night we picked up Rebecca from McCutchen, went to Steak 'n Shake, and then saw Hitch at the local theater. Overall it was a pretty good movie, there were some parts that we could easily have done without (mainly language), but it was very funny and we enjoyed it. Disclaimer: We really liked it, but it's not a movie for everyone; I know that some of my small audience here will like it (Tilla, Amy, Dustin, etc) and others would not (Grandpa and Grandma, it's just not your style of humor). Part of the reason we liked it so much was because a few characters were a little too close to home. For example, Shane immediately linked himself with the character of Albert, and when Tilla saw the movie a few weeks ago; he called me to proclaim that the main character Hitch was a close analog to me (now having seen the movie, I have to admit that it was a little uncanny). Some of you who have seen the movie would probably disagree, but you have to understand the relationship I have with Tilla gives him a little different perspective on me.

Sunday was Easter, so while I missed being home for our traditional Easter breakfast (which they apparently didn't have), it was good to get back to ECC and join my family there in celebrating the resurrection of Y'shua Messiah. Then the Lageveens had Shane and I (and a few other people) over for Easter dinner. We had excellent food and a lot of fun (including such silly activities as coloring Easter eggs and having an Easter egg hunt in the back yard). Actually, it's quite a sight to see 8 people between around 9th grade and a recent grad like Shane running around in a no-holds-barred search for 27 eggs. Before we began I stated the only rule: "Anything's legal as long as no one goes to the hospital." Shane's tactic of choice was to chase the rest of us around, ripping the bottoms out of our plastic grocery bags and stealing our eggs. He managed to get away with a total of 8; more than anyone else (he was quite proud of himself for that one). Prayer and Praise that night was also really good, with Shane and Chip even making valiant attempts at doing cartwheels afterward.

So, that brings me to today, which summarizes to class, lunch, work (now), and a flight tonight. Before you complain about how long this post is, keep in mind that it does cover a whole week (verses a bunch of smaller ones) and the unique and troubling events of this weekend. For those of you wondering about the title, N999SK is the registration number/callsign of the downed Arrow.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Big Break is over

Well, Big Break ended on Friday and we left Florida Saturday morning, arriving about 3am Sunday. I had a busy day Sunday unpacking and working on EveryStudent stuff. Then today I started classes again (bummer) and am currently at work. A lot of things happened during the trip and there's no way I'll have the time to type up even a fraction of them now, but I think I'll give you a little taste of what happened.

There were roughly 1350 students from across the country at the conference, with 130 of those being from Purdue (we were the largest school represented by a wide margin). The weather was not in our favor during the week, starting out at about 75 degrees and sunny the first couple of days and then going downhill into a couple of days of rain and falling temps. It eventually got to the point that I was walking along the beach in a swimsuit and a hoodie (strange combo, I must admit). The last day the sun came back out, but it didn't top 65 so it was still a little cool. The reason that the poor weather was a tragedy is that there weren't many people on the beach to talk to, so we hit the saturation point very quickly (defined as when nearly everyone on the beach had been approached by Crusaders at least once). This made it frustrating because most of us didn't get to have more than a few good conversations with people the whole week.

All in all, there were about 2700 conversations initiated during the week (including those people who had been approached 5 or 6 times), with a little over 200 people accepting Christ! I wasn't one of the people who got to witness one of those moments, but my friends Natalie and Rebecca did. I never even got to share the whole 4 Spiritual Laws booklet with anyone (got close to the end with one guy, but never even got to open it with anyone else). That's especially sad because there was one conversation I had with a guy named Raul who was so ready for the gospel and interested, but his friends showed up right when I was about to start it with him and, despite the best efforts of my wingman Dustin, dragged him off. I was able to give him the booklet and my email, but now all we can do is pray that he looks at it. The only other encouraging conversation Dustin and I had was with a guy named Bert and his girlfriend Michelle, both were out of college and interested in talking, but when it came time to start with the gospel they said that when we had approached them they were just about to go eat so they didn't want to go through it with us. I gave them the booklets and my email and we walked off. When we got to about 50 feet away, I turned around and saw them both reading it! So please be praying for Raul, Bert, and Michelle as I think they are the most promising contacts we had.

Probably the single most encouraging part of the trip for me occurred late at night hanging out with my roommates. One of them, Big Nick, is a relatively young believer, but he is not afraid to ask questions. One night I was sitting in the living room of our condo with him and Garet until 2:30 am talking about all sorts of things, from relationships to scripture to cults, and the whole time he was asking good, thoughtful questions. He would precede every question by saying "I have a question," but it was only after a couple of hours that he kicked himself for saying it and Garet and I even noticed. The single coolest thing about it wasn't even his questions (even though they sparked some really awesome conversations), it was his attitude as he asked; open, honest, not antagonistic in any way, heartfelt, and thoughtful. One could tell that he was really thinking about what we were saying and applying it to his perspective on his own life experiences.

Because of how much cool stuff happened on the trip, I'll have to stop there for tonight. There's just no way I'll be able to cover even a fraction of it in this blog, so you'll just have to ask me in person sometime. However I think I'll add a set of quotes from the week that reflect some of the less serious things that occurred (if you have stories/quotes to share from the week, or want to ask a question about the story behind any of the quotes, this is your cue to post a comment):
-"Mel Gibson's a stud, I hate needles and blood!" --Shelby crooning to a Maroon 5 tune
-PopTart loves NAVY guys
-Big Nick has a question
-"We 'Big-Sixed' em"
-Alena is the pancake queen
-Ronny is still my loyal sidekick (and some girls at O'Charlie's Saturday night thought he was still in high school)
-The Big Break office thought I was Staff
-Rebecca is learning my evil ways much faster than I thought
-Albert's a Nancy (he also loves running over midgets)
-Pseudo-frat parties are fun (it's hard not to have a good time with Kool-Aid Pong, crazy dancing, bongin' root beer, and noise violations)
-Are you diggin my chili?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

T-minus 1 Day!

In 23 hours from this post, our caravan will set out for Panama City Beach. My only class on Friday was cancelled, so I'll be able to spend the day catching up on sleep, laundry, and packing.

I went to see a demonstration of the Honda Asimo (http://www.asimo.honda.com/) humanoid robot today. I have to admit, it’s quite an amazing display of technological progress. The 4 foot robot was able walk, turn (while walking, which is quite a feat), sidestep, balance on one foot, kick a soccer ball, even climb and descend stairs! There will be one more demonstration of it on Saturday, so if you are still around I'd highly recommend it.

For those of you who don't already know, Cru is going to be doing a big EveryStudent (http://www.everystudent.com/) push during Easter Week. We'll be wearing bright red shirts that say EveryStudent.com from Wednesday-Friday and having a couple of free showings of The Passion on campus. I've been appointed the shirt order guy, so that's kept me busy recording new orders as they come in. We're now up to over 200 shirt orders and Ryan Speicher (Cru staff) should be picking up about 400 shirts today or tomorrow morning. We still haven't exactly figured out how we are going to distribute them to everyone, but we'll figure it out in time.

So Meghan and Cindy (John's and Eddie's girlfriends, respectively) have gotten it into their heads that my being the only single guy left in our suite is a problem that needs to be remedied. Knowing them, I think it wise to discourage that notion. To quote Bill Jack of Worldview Academy, "Everybody look at me and say [nods]: no." The good news is; it's reasonable to believe that they are in the very least, mostly joking, so it shouldn't become an issue. You could say that I think of their matchmaking skills just slightly higher than those of a certain infamous A.F. from back in my ECC/SCF days. If you know who I'm talking about, you're likely chuckling with your newfound understanding of my meaning, if you don't know who I'm talking about, well, you'll probably live a longer happier life for it. Just kidding...sort of. ;)

This may be my last post before Big Break. So please be praying that God will work in the hearts of those we talk with and for our safety during the trip. When I get back I'll be sure to give you a summary of how it went. BTW, if you're going to Big Break (or have gone in the past) join my Big Break Facebook group. Now I have to close the library and head back to Earhart for some dinner (gotta love a job that lets you chat, surf, and blog whilst on duty).

2 Days Left

Hooray! Only 2 days left 'til Big Break!

Currently Watching: Star Trek TNG "Lower Decks", recorded last Friday off SpikeTV.

Today's exam (the longer, significantly harder version of Monday's exam) also went well. This one was the official FAA Commercial Pilot written exam, so it'll count towards my Commercial license. Now I have one quiz and some work in the ATC simulator left before break. My only Friday class has been cancelled!

Our travel plans continue to get more complicated: we're now up to 13 people over 3 cars. We had a meeting last night and managed to get a lot of the details worked out. I'll be in Meghan Berner's Passat with her, Olga, and Jen. If everything goes according to plan, we should be leaving town by 6pm Friday and on our way down to PCB! Dustin's pulling through on the route, and Tiller is still waiting to hear back from his contacts. We're going to use walkie-talkies for communication between vehicles and we need to figure out our callsigns. Just for the fun of it, I'd like to take a cue from fighter squadrons and have a standardized name (for example, Red Leader, Red 2, and Red 3). This is where you come in, for today's subtle comment hint, you get to suggest callsigns for our caravan!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Stupidity Reigns Supreme

Some people are just stupid:
There's no need for me to comment on this one. But you can (yet another subtle hint). ;)

Monday, March 07, 2005


In the MP3 Player:
Smackin' by Rufus Tree
http://cdbaby.com/mp3lofi/rufustree-11.mp3 (low quality sample)
Now, where's a wall? (This song is a perfect fit for my weekend)

The exam went well, but I think I earned it considering, except for a couple of exceptions like running sound for church and other small diversions, I spent my entire day Sunday studying for it (actually, I even studied while doing sound, it's kind of hard to stay focused when hearing the same sermon for the third time anyway). Actually, between those other distractions and studying, I was up for over 20 hours on Sunday. But the exam went better than expected and I'm now scheduled to take a longer, harder version of the same on Wednesday afternoon and I'm paying $65 to do it (it'll be an official FAA Written Exam this time around). Now I'm relaxing at work and, with my flight for tonight cancelled, just taking the day off. Which brings to mind a sidenote: I'll be eating dinner at Earhart at 7:30 if anyone wants to join me.

Now, to answer some of the questions Rebecca raised previously:
-About the mentioning things I can't mention stuff, please bear in mind that this is my first foray into the blogging world and I haven't yet decided how much I want to be telling people. Part of that equation is in having a general idea who my readers are, but I don't really have that info at present (this is yet ANOTHER HUGE HINT that you people should be COMMENTING, even if you're just dropping a line to say you were here). Some people will read my posts and know exactly what I'm talking about, while others will read the same posts and walk away slightly curious. While I'm not malicious and will try to keep those comments fairly limited, I don't think there's anything wrong with being curious (and don't give me any trouble about curiosity and felines; I was never a big fan of cats anyway). If you find yourself more curious than not, you either don't know me all that well or I haven't been tailoring my posts for the right audience (this would be because I don't know who you are, in case you missed the first HINT).
-"Think fast, fly faster" is a sort of personal motto for me. "Couldn't that be classified as a bad thing?" (-Rebecca) Quite the opposite actually, when you get into an emergency situation, you often don't have time to sit down and weigh the pros and cons of your various options. This thought extends beyond flying and into other areas of life, however. The idea of thinking fast and flying faster means that when something happens (insert colorful metaphor of choice; one about excrement and a fan fits nicely), you have to be so good at what you do that you don't need to think, you just do the correct action by instinct.

In other news, we finally figured out our transportation plans down to Big Break. We'll have 8 people spread between Katie's Intrepid and Mike's Aztec. This will work well because of our plan to have two people on duty at all times in each vehicle (driver and navigator, whose real duty is to keep driver awake); so with 8 people, that means we'll have two full crews on duty and two off at all times, so everyone will be decently well rested (it's not unrealistic for us to anticipate getting more sleep on the way there than those on the bus). I've got Dustin working on our route and Tiller (my loyal right-hand man from the Deep South) giving us traffic/construction advisories so we get the best route possible.

That's it for now. I'll leave you with a question; as I prepare for Big Break, I'm trying to think of what I need to remember to pack. Is there anything I should bring that isn't glaringly obvious to remember (obvious would include things like sunglasses, a towel, sandals, etc)?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Good news and bad news

The past couple of days have been really good and really bad. So let's begin:
Starting at 7:30am I had six solid hours of classes; namely three flight slots. The first was my regular slot in the Piper Arrow doing instrument training, it went ok. The second was my Chipmunk flight. For those of you who don't know, during my Purdue career I get exactly one flight in a Canadian WWII trainer called a DeHaviland Chipmunk doing "Upset Training." In this context, upset means aerobatics. So I went up with Professor Dillman (cool Prof who goes to my church) and we start doing maneuvers I've never done before. The plan was to do every maneuver twice, once with him demonstrating and once with me doing it. We started with 2.5, 3, 3.5, and 4.5 G pull ups, which means we pull back and get up to 4.5 times the force of gravity pushing us down in our seats (this is around the point where you feel the skin in your face distorting downward with the force). Then we did some 'runaway trim' recovery training. Then came the loop. The loop was a lot of fun, but I was getting kind of queasy by the time we were done with it. My stomach doesn't like rapid transitions between positive and negative G's, and before each maneuver we would dive for airspeed (negative), then pull back sharply to loop (positive), then as you come around the top of the loop the plane slows down (it's underpowered and you get negative G's), and then as you come through the bottom (yeah, when you look forward and the ground is 5000ft straight ahead) you get a lot of positive G's. So yeah, I wasn't feeling too good by the end of those. Then came the Aileron Roll; by the time he finished demonstrating the first roll we had gotten enough negative G's that I had the sic-sac (barf bag) ready to go and we had to fly straight and level for a few minutes so I could recover. He offered to end the lesson then and just fly back to the airport, but I wanted to finish. So we decided not to do a second roll and move on to spins. Yeah, spins. If you don't know what they are like, ask me sometime to describe them. Basically by the time we leveled off from the first spin, I had the sic-sac to my mouth and was waiting for it to come. It didn't, but I was so sick that I wanted to barf in hopes that it would make me feel better. So we made the wise choice to take the plane back and not do another spin. Basically the Chipmunk flight was a lot of fun, but I wish my stomach were up to it.
Then, right after the Chipmunk, I had the final exam for my simulator class (called a Phase Check in the AT department). I was expecting it to go badly because I did very poorly on it last semester and I still had a bad headache from being sick. The good news is that I managed to talk the examiner into delaying the start of the test for 20 minutes so I could recover and I used the time to mentally prepare for the flight. The good news is that I did far better than I ever could have guessed was possible, so for those of you who knew it was coming, thanks for your prayers. It was definitely a God thing that I was able to do well at all that morning. I spent much of the rest of the day relaxing; watching some TV, taking a nap, Cru sophomore dinner, and then cell group.

So I get up today feeling very groggy because I didn't sleep well last night and nearly missed the bus out to the airport for my 7:30 class. Then, on the bus, I find out from a friend that we have a 25 question short answer quiz in that class that I had completely forgotten to study for (and this Prof likes really hard questions), so I went into panic study mode for the following 5 minutes of bus time. I think I did ok on the quiz, but I know of enough wrong answers that I know I didn't ace it. Then another three hours of uneventful class, lunch with Dustin and Rebecca (who, I didn't know until the previous night, is quite the dedicated Trekkie). Dull afternoon at work and a quiet dinner (the people I usually eat with on Thursdays didn't show).

So then things get interesting. I talked with Mike Rose and finally got some definite plans for how I'm getting to Big Break and back. This is extremely good news because I've been trying to find a ride all week and this worked out as one of my better-case scenarios. Basically we'll be somewhat comfortable during the ride down, which did not previously look like something we could hope for.
Then the bad news: I found out that I did not get accepted as an RA next year. This is a huge disappointment to me because I have really been hoping to get the job, looking forward to it, and need the tuition break that comes with it. Be praying for me because I'm really disappointed and frusterated over this.

The last piece of bad news is a doubleheader: I have a huge exam on Monday that I am not nearly prepared for. This exam (called a Midterm but more like a final) covers the entire class, including the second half of this semester. It will be 75 multiple choice questions taken from the Gleim book, which is the book listing every question the FAA can give you on the Commercial Written exam (which I'll also likely be taking sometime next week). Basically I have 3 days to study material that would normally take several weeks to adequately prepare for. This is some of the material that I wasn't able to focus on a couple of days ago when I complained about being distracted. So please pray that I'll be able to stay focused as I study this Gleim book over the next couple of days. Like I said, this is a doubleheader; the second reason this is bad news is for all of you (although I have no idea of how many you are because you haven't been commenting); because of this exam I probably won't be able to update this blog until after the exam Monday morning.

Finally, although she might have been a little overcritical at times, Rebecca did raise a couple of good questions in comments on the last entry or two. Alas, I don't have time to answer them now, but I do have answers and hopefully will get to them with my next entry (including the part about flying faster). So yeah, I do intend to try to answer questions that are raised when appropriate. As I look back, I can see that this is yet again another long post, so sorry if you've actually read all the way through it; you can tell I really don't want to go study.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

One of those days

Today has been one of those days where I have a lot to do and utterly lack the focus to do it. Tomorrow I have a final in my AT 211 Simulator class which I expect to be extremely difficult and a midterm/final for my AT 254 Commercial Lectures class (the midterm is a full practice FAA exam, which will be the final) and for some unknown reason; I just can't keep my attention on any of it. Instead I find myself in a deep, contemplative mood; fully content to sit and stare off into space pondering, well, stuff (I'm so articulate ;) ). To be slightly more accurate, there have been quite a number of topics worth pondering lately, but the majority of them are too, shall we say, personal to comment on in this context (especially considering that one can never know who is going to read this). Issues like growth, purpose, direction, motives, and, as always, Venusians. So I find myself in one of those situations where I'd love to go hang out with people or just sit here and think, but I know that I can't because I have work to get done that's not getting done. If any of you have tips on how to focus in situations like this, let me know.

In other news, Shane got back yesterday and I got to see him for about 45 minutes before the JVAG meeting. Right before he left, I (at his insistence) set up a casual date with Kathy wherein the plan was for him to go in my place and surprise her. We actually called Amy first, but she couldn't be torn away from the paper she was writing, so it's my understanding that Shane and Kathy went over to see her later. When I ran into Kathy this morning, she said that she wasn't all that surprised because she knew that he was getting back this weekend, but that Ruth was very surprised to see him. I tried calling Shane to get him to tell me how it went from his perspective, but he never called me back (the bum).

Alas, today is the last day of FebruHairy, the longstanding tradition of Cary Cru guys to not shave for the month of February (the tradition is spreading to other dorms, but it is originally a Cary thing). Kind of sad really, it's been a lot of fun (especially when people I rarely, if ever, talk to tell me my Facebook picture featuring the beard is scary). As I was walking from the airport to Earhart after work tonight, there was a strong wind coming from directly to my left, and it was a unique and actually kind of cool feeling experience to feel the wind rustling through my beard. I'll probably cut it off before bed tonight and hopefully convince John to give me a haircut sometime tomorrow afternoon before the Cary/Windsor dinner.

For my final order of business tonight, I think I'm actually going to open this blog to the public. I don't know how long I will have to do this to figure out if it's something I want to keep doing, but I figure I might as well not keep it a secret. So if you've managed to find your way over here, be sure and drop me a line in the comment area so I can figure out how many people have an interest in reading this.