Friday, September 28, 2007

Stuck Midway To Indy

Sorry that I haven't posted in a couple of days, I'm sure you were getting used to my daily posts while I was at the sim. Tuesday I decided to skip blogging for a day and use my small amount of useful free time (we had a lot of free time, but most of it was spent being too tired to do anything) talking with my lovely girlfriend and Wednesday I was busy packing and preparing for my checkride Thursday morning.

I was a little scared going into the checkride this morning because my last training flight on Wednesday went absolutely terrible. Fortunately, it proved to be a lot like other times when I've had my last practice flight before a checkride not go well and then the checkride goes unusually well. Yep, you read that right, I passed. I made a number of small mistakes along the way, but they were the sorts of mistakes they expect from someone who hasn't actually flown the plane or operated on the line with the company.

They don't know how long it'll be before a plane is available to do aircraft training back in Billings, so they're letting me go home (well, Purdue, which is really home as much as Chicago is for me) for a few days. Unfortunately, all the flights direct to Indy were booked solid, so I decided to take Southwest and connect through Midway airport in Chicago (and yes, you can groan now, the bad pun in the title was intentional).

What I didn't know when I decided to take that pair of flights was that there's a line of thunderstorms on the east coast causing havoc for the air traffic system across the country. This means that my flight to Indy has been delayed from its scheduled 9:00pm departure to, well, we still don't know, it's 11pm now and the're saying we'll leave at 12:25am. They plane is supposed to be coming in from Washington Dulles and I'm *hoping* that it's finally on its way here.

I was going to get picked up by Amy Chen when I arrived, but it's simply gotten too late for her. Fortunately, as I was sitting at the gate waiting for my endlessly delayed flight, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman sitting near me who was wearing a Purdue polo shirt and using a laptop with a big Purdue logo on it. As we talked, I learned that he is a retired banker who's made a name for himself at Purdue by being the unofficial photographer of the Marching Band (and whom I've heard Amy Schott mention on a couple of occasions). As it turns out, he's going to rent a car when we get to Indy and drive up to Lafayette (assuming Hertz stays open for him like they've promised) and he's willing to give me a ride. I'm still going to have to get Amy Chen to wake up and come pick me up from the far side of town at some terrible hour of the morning, but at least she's not going to drive all the way to Indy and back really late.

Ok, they just said the plane is finally flying (I took a little break from thumb-typing) and it should arrive about 12:20, which means we'll probably leave about 12:50 and get in at about 2:30 (accounting for the time difference).

Ugh, I'm just tired at this point. It's been a very long day and I've got quite a way to go before it's over. I amost wish I'd just stayed the extra day in Greeley and gott there Friday morning, but on the flip side I'd have spent the whole time asking myself if I could've made it tonight. I also had the opportunity when I first got here to have my parents drive my car for me, but I never thought we'd be *this* delayed (and then I'd have had the problem of having to drive the car back to Chicago when it came time to leave again).

I guess that's it for tonight; I'm exhausted and I want to say my battery for later when I need to keep Shane updated on my progress and get Amy to come get me. 'night all.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Cold, Rainy Day In Greeley

Today I figured out what I forgot when I was packing to come here; an umbrella (not that I could have fit it in anyway). Not only was it raining this morning, it was also the coldest day we’ve had so far (high of 58), so it was the perfect day to leave the house without an umbrella and forgetting to grab my coat before we left.

In better news, they finally decided what they’re going to do with me. Eric, our new sim instructor, decided to rotate us over the course of 6 hours like we thought he might do, but he also decided to be nice and let the third guy each rotation take a break instead of making him sit in the back of the sim bored for two hours. This is good both because each of us gets a break, but also because it means I get to continue getting experience as Pilot Monitoring, which will help me later on when I get out on line. My understanding is that they’re also planning on keeping me on the same schedule with regard to my checkride, so I’ll be having it Thursday morning (one of the other guys is going to have to stick around an extra day to be PM for me even though they’ll be done on Wednesday). I also found out that the person giving me the checkride will be Dusty, who was one of our ground instructors back in Billings. My air work was definitely a little better today than it was on Saturday, but I still have a ways to go before I’ll be ready for the checkride (which, being only two lessons away, is getting a little close for comfort), so please be praying I continue to improve at an acceptable rate over the next two days.

We still don’t know much of anything about what’ll happen after the sim. My guess is that they’ll want us to hightail it up to Billings so that we’re available to do our training flights in the real aircraft whenever planes become available (I’ll basically be on 1-hour call until that’s done). But there’s a chance they’ll decide to put the emphasis on getting the captains done and give us a few days off until they think we’d actually get to fly (the odds aren’t really in my favor, but pray anyways). If I get really lucky, they’ll decide to give us some time off before sending us up to Billings, which means I could be home as early as Friday.

Don’t worry, I won’t put any spoilers here, but we just got done watching the season premier of Heroes and it’ll be interesting to see where they take it this time around. I hope they’re able to keep it as entertaining and unpredictable as the first season (which Eddie, Adam, and I all found highly addictive). Because of the weirdness with how they handle TV schedules around here (delaying broadcasts but keeping the normal times in the commercials), we ended up also watching the premier of Chuck because it was on at the time we thought Heroes was going to start. Even if the show doesn’t really go anywhere, I have to admit that I found the amount it parodied things like Geek Squad and Firedog absolutely hilarious (and I know just enough people who should be working those sorts of jobs that the rampant stereotyping in the show is that much funnier). Right now, Chris and John are in the other room watching the premier of Journeyman (which I saw on the plane back to Chicago last week), a show that I think might turn out to be pretty good.

I’m hoping to post a video or two from my trip to Purdue last week on here sometime soon (and the instructions for Fried Spaghetti that Roxy asked for a couple of posts ago), but I’m afraid that won’t be tonight. I didn’t sleep all that well last night and I’m going to have to get up relatively early again for sim tomorrow morning (even though he’ll probably brief us for 15 minutes and send me home for another two hours, I still have to be there and awake). Please pray for good sleep so that my ability to learn in the sim won’t be hampered by being tired.

Ok, that’s it, goodnight everyone!

Church With The Mogul

One of the unfortunate facts of my chosen career is that I’m going to have to miss church a lot. Between being literally unable to go (like today, when I had no way to get to a church from the Aims Community College campus) and having to work most weekends (which will be the case when I actually get out on the line and start flying), I won’t be able to regularly participate in a church for the foreseeable future. This is going to be especially hard after seeing the way that God has worked in my life through the Evangelical Covenant Church in Lafayette during my four years at Purdue.

Eventually, once training is over and I finally get stationed somewhere, I’m hoping to get involved in a church that has a lot going on during the week so that I can still be actively in fellowship with the body despite my erratic schedule. Until then (and during the weeks I’ll be stuck working on Sundays), I’m working on figuring out what I can do to lessen the impact of not being able to go to church.

While there’s simply no substitute for the fellowship that comes from meeting together with the body of Christ on a regular basis, I’ve managed to identify some ways that I can have something of a “church service” while I’m away. Today, I essentially had "church" during a very long walk around the campus of the college using the MP3 features of my phone (an HTC Mogul, hence the name of this post) to listen to worship music and a recorded sermon.

I started out by turning my heart towards worship by listening to (and at times singing along with) music from Stephen Hinkle’s album “Come.” For the 1 or 2 of you who’ve never heard me rave about Stephen, he was the worship leader at Precept Ministry’s Teen Boot Camp the years that I attended there in high school and quickly became one of my all time favorite worship leaders because of the depth of his music (containing real depth and honoring God for who He is rather than being catchy with little meaning like a lot of modern “worship” music) and his attitude towards leading worship in a corporate setting (he regularly talks about the importance of being a “lead worshiper” rather than a “worship leader). Basically, God has regularly ministered to me through his music over the last six years or so and I’m really looking forward to his long-promised third album, which I’m hoping will come out before Christ gets back.

Then I re-listened to one of the most applicable and convicting sermons I’ve ever heard in my life (Mark Driscoll’s “Resisting Idolatry Like Jesus,” from his series on 1st Corinthians). It’s one of those sermons that after you listen to it, you really have to sit down and think through a lot of the areas of your life because it’s so convicting and directly applicable to life in our culture. Essentially the main idea is that basically all of the sins we deal with are primarily idolatry problems, where we take a good thing (frequently things that God has given us, like our friendships, families, ministries, house, etc) and elevate it to a god-thing, placing it at a level of esteem in our lives far above where it should be. Naturally, that little explanation can’t nearly do justice to an hour-long sermon, but at least you have some idea of what it’s about. If you want to listen to it (which I HIGHLY recommend), go to and use the menu in the grey boxes to navigate to Sermons => Books of the Bible => 1st Corinthians and then scroll down the page to “Resisting Idolatry Like Jesus.”

Then I finished my “church-time” with a substantial amount of time thinking and praying about that sermon and sorting out with God how it applies to my life.

So…why did I spend all this time telling you about all of this? Well, one, this was intended to be a relative short post and it got long (and this is the shortened version, because I was sorting out my thoughts a lot more as I originally was typing it), and two, I think it might be cool and a worthwhile use of this blog if I were to occasionally talk about the things I’m thinking about and learning as I improvise “church” during the times like today where I’m unable to actually attend one.

In other news, they’re still figuring out exactly what to do with me as far as the simulator goes. We thought they were going to put us all in the box for 6 hours a day and just rotate seats every two hours (with the third guy observing the other two fly), but now it looks like they’re going to keep the other two on their current schedule and then alternate having each of them sit as the second crewmember for me two hours a day. While I suppose this is good in the sense that we’re not all in the sim for 6 hours straight, it’s not very good for me because I’ll only be getting practice at being the “Pilot Flying” (PF) for two hours a day verses the original schedule of two hours as PF with Melanie being “Pilot Monitoring” (PM) and then switching seats and being the PM for her for another two hours. Our exam at the end of the sim time only actually tests our skills as PF, but I wish I could get that extra experience as PM because I’ll need it when I actually get out on the line. Ok…I just talked with the other two guys, and apparently the latest news is that the instructor talked with John again and said some things that could be interpreted as wanting me to come in for that 6 hour block like we originally thought, but John wasn’t really clear what he meant, so I’m gonna play it safe and get up to go with them at 8:40 just in case he wants me there at the earlier time.

One last thing before I go to bed…I have yet another cool link for you guys! I have to be very careful with this one, because it’s one of those fascinating things that could easily cause you to lose a couple hours of time. Here’s the description of it straight from

“Shortly after Blogger launched photo uploading two years ago, one of our engineers whipped up a web page that would show us the pictures that were being uploaded in real time. The result was fun, often beautiful, but above all, compelling. We couldn’t stop watching. Over the years we’ve kept this photo scroller as part of the Blogger offices, on a monitor or projector, as an interesting (distracting?) slideshow, and a reminder of the diversity and vivaciousness of Blogger blogs. The fame of the scroller spread within Google, until one day we were asked, ‘so, when are you launching this?’ “

Well, they finally released it and I seriously lost a half hour today watching it, it’s just that fascinating. (As a side note, they incorporated filtering technology into it (like Google’s SafeSearch algorithms), so the pictures should be clean, but, as always, something iffy might occasionally slip through, but it’s mainly things like people’s snapshots, artistic stuff, bands, some random things, and a TON of little kids). Here’s the link:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Curveball Thrown

As of this evening, I no longer have a sim partner. They decided to wash her out of the program and we aren't really sure what's going to happen with me. I'm still in the program, but they're in the process of deciding if I'm going to join the other crew here in Greeley (who are a day ahead of me) or head down to Denver to join the First Officer crew starting there tomorrow (or a 3-person Captain crew there). It sounds like they're planning on keeping me here (which is good, because I don't have to suddenly repack all of my stuff and abandon $50 worth of food I bought), but it's still going to be really hard to stay on track. Our instructors have been talking for weeks about how important it is to get a rhythm going with your partner (which we were just beginning to get) and now I both don't have a partner and I'll be interrupting the rhythm of another crew.

Basically, it's going to be a lot harder for me from here on out. So yeah, I need a lot of prayer. I need to be able to catch up to the other guys and develop a rhythm with each of them very quickly and still be learning all this new stuff in the sim (at the moment, I'm halfway through). Please pray also for Melanie, she seems to be taking it well, but I don't know if it's really sunk in yet for her. So yeah, a curveball's been thrown at my sim training and I'm really going to have to amp up my game to stay in it.

Quoth the Sim Nazi: "No day off for you!"

Today my airwork was kinda hit-and-miss. There were some things I did really well at and others not so well. Unfortunately, they've decided Melanie (my sim partner) needs more work, so the company is going to pay nearly a thousand dollars to get her an extra period of a couple of hours in the sim tomorrow (our "day off"). Even though I won't get any PF (Pilot Flying) time' this means that I'm going to have to come in too. :(

I'm still hoping to have the time to listen to the really-fantastic Driscoll sermon I have on my phone (I've been wanting to listen to it again and it would be too hard to find my way to a church tomorrow, so I was going to listen to it instead) and talk to Kathy, but I'm still bummed about not having the whole day off.Ok, our break's about over (I just go done flying, now it's Melanie's turn for the next couple of hours), so I g2g. Later everyone!

Disclaimer: By the title of this post, I in no way desire to imply anything negative about my sim instructor (in fact, Steve is a skilled instructor and I have a lot of respect for him); it is merely humorous reference to a well-known Seinfeld episode.

A Little Better

Day two of the sim went a little better. My fine-tuning of the controls and situational awareness were much improved, but I still have a long way to go. My steep turns were easily within ATP standards, so I had something to feel pleased about. I'm finally picking up on how to do stalls, so hopefully I'll get those within standards soon. We started having emergencies today and did ok, but our workload goes way up when things go wrong, so we have our work cut out for us.

For dinner tonight, I was able to make some fried spagetti, which was really good. You might be thinking that life must be pretty dull if I'm mentioning that on my blog, but you have to understand that it's one of my favorite dishes and just how cool it is to finally be able to have some after living in the Rimrock Inn for a month.

Right now, I'm sitting in the double-wide recliner in the house watching a History Channel special on Mega Disasters (this one is about how it won't be too long before Krakatoa goes off again, and it'll be even bigger this time around). You might be wondering why I'm slacking off and watching this instead of studying for the sim. The answer is really pretty simple: the sim sucks the life out of you so much that studying afterwards would be all but ineffective, so I only do a little studying after we get done with the sim in the evening and do most of my studying in the morning before we head to briefing at 12:30.

Ok, before I post this and hit the sack, I've got a couple of links for you (both sorta music related this time around):

My mom sent this one to me today. Not exactly sure of the back story behind it, but my understanding is that it's some church youth group performing at some sort of conference to Casting Crown's "Who Am I." It's really pretty cool and I was really impressed by it. I don't know if the link will work when I submit this post via email from my phone, but if it doesn't just copy it into your address bar:

This other link is a video of a prototype/concept little robot that dances when it hears music through the microphone in its nose, looks at people through the little cameras mounted in its eyes, and just generally appears so life-like that it's hard to believe it's a robot (and doesn't have every move programed into it in sequence, but is actually reacting to the world around it):

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Not Good

So, the first day of the sim didn't go so well for my sim partner and I. We've both got our work cut out for us if we want to survive this thing. Tomorrow we start having emergencies, so our workload is going to go way up.

As for tonight, we're on our way back to the house from picking up somethings we forgot last night at Walmart. I'm gonna make some dinner and then probably hit the sack relatively early (I'm exhausted from today and I still have a lot of catching up to do on sleep from Tuesday night.

Please be praying for us out here, we definitely need it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Back To Training...

"I'm leaving on a jet plane,
don't know when I'll be back again..."

I don't know if any of you are fans of that TV show Airline (the reality show about Southwest, I think it's on TBS), but those opening words to its theme song were running through my head as I took my seat on their 6:50 to Denver this morning and started typing this post on my phone.

The flight was mostly empty (40 pax on a plane with room for 130!) and the flight crew was really friendly to me. I've never traveled on SWA before, so it was interesting to compare my observations against the popular image of them being a much friendlier airline than most. I think they've earned that rep for a reason; the cabin crew was really friendly (as an aside, I have to give props to United here, because their cabin crew was also so top-notch on my trip home on Friday night), when I ran into the FO at the entrance to the plane and asked him if I could go forward to speak to the captain (whose permission I have to obtain to ride on his ship), he not only eagerly said "yeah, go right ahead!," he also told me that the Captain's name was Mike! To top it all off, I have to say that I've never seen any other airline put a rocking chair at each of their gates. So yeah, I was pretty impressed with Southwest.

Right now, I'm sitting in a food court area of the Denver airport waiting for my sim partner to arrive on her flight from Milwaukee. When she gets here, we're going to go meet up with someone from the Sim facility who'll drive us up to Greely. Because I got in so late last night from Lafayette and had to get up so early for my flight, I decided not to cut into my 2 hours of sleep any further by eating before I left, so I just finished an EggMcMuffin meal. I have to say, it was pretty good, but I've realized that when I make them at home they turn out a lot better (though I've yet to make as tasty a hashbrown).

You know, like I was telling Rebecca last night when she called as I was driving back to Chicago, going home is really a two-edged sword (in this context, I'm referring to Purdue as home). On the one hand, it's awesome to be able to go back, surprise everyone (especially when you show up somewhere you really aren't expected, like on Earhart E6 or in someone's pantry), and spend a couple of days with them, but on the other hand, it makes being away a lot harder. After a while of being away, you kind of get used to not seeing everyone (that's not to say you stop missing them, in fact, you actually miss them more and more over time, but you adjust to not seeing them), but then when you actually see them it makes saying goodbye and mustering up the resolve to actually get in the carand drive about impossible.

After many hours of not typing anything, I'm now in Greeley on the way back to the Thai houses after picking up supplies at WalMart. The houses are pretty nice, but they don't have wifi, so if I want to use the net I have to use the old public computer in the living room or tether the lappy to my phone (works, but it's slow), so even if I somehow have time away from my studying to be online, I'll likely not be on AIM. I got a short nap in this afternoon, so I'm mostly functional, but I've gotten virtually no studying done and it's going to be hard to stay awake while working on that tonight.

Ok, that's enough for today. I'll try to attach a picture of the house to this post so you can see what it looks like (I'd post more pictures, especially from my time at Purdue, but I'm typing this out on my phone and don't foresee the time to do that in the near-term future. Goodnight from Greeley, I miss you guys!