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Showing posts from March, 2009

Internet Connections

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27 years ago today I began my career with the FAA. But this post isn't going to be about that. It's just noteworthy, that's all. As the internet does on occasion it brought to my email box tonight an email from somebody in my past; from 33 years ago. Eugene and I were in the same company in boot-camp in the Navy and he'd taken a picture of me all those years ago and still had it. He found me after I'd posted a photo of our company on my Flickr account and coded in the names of all of us. (We should never take for granted the power of a Google/Yahoo/Name-your-search-engine query and how quickly it can scour the internet and have the results before you.) The photo was a bit dust speckled so I brought it into Photoshop and cleaned it up a little. There's not much to see, really. It's just me sitting on my rack possibly organizing the contents of a single drawer I used for my personal belongings. But it's me, it's from a long time ago and I've

I'm Humbled by Your Support

A couple weeks ago I penned a letter to the editor of Focus FAA, the FAA's website. I wrote about that in this post . I had a few guys at work come up to me and thank me for what I'd written but I didn't think much more about it. I was online a couple days ago when I saw a thread on our union's message board titled "Two Cents Worth". Paul W had found a response on the FAA's website to my letter from a supervisor at Houston Center. No doubt the tone of the letter is what made it stand out to Paul. It reads: A Supervisor Responds After reading Kevin Gilmore's thoughts on Jerry Lavey's article on leadership, I had a couple of pertinent thoughts (see “Boot To The Throat” in last week's “Your Two Cents”). Allow me to retort: "There's been no leadership exemplified by FAA management for far too many years," you said. You mean you can't find any leadership, Nada, not a smidgen, not even one iota of leadership? You must feel so los

No New Truck For Me and Young at Heart

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I'm not the type to buy a new vehicle every few years. I'd rather pay them off and drive them for several years until just before they become fixer-uppers. The first new car I owned was a Mazda 626 I bought after graduating from the FAA academy in the summer of 1982. Of all the cars I've owned, my 626 has been my favorite by far. The only photo I have of it is one that my mother took when she and my father used my newly purchased car on a trip to Canada. They had nothing reliable to drive at the time so I offered it to them. I drove it for ten years and put 118,000 miles on it. It was 102,000 miles before it needed any brake work. The only trouble it gave me was an occasional broken seal on the valve cover gasket. A 15-minute fix. I sold it to a high school kid from St. Paul for $1500. I think I may have gotten the better of that deal. Tammy and I had planned to go to the Auto Show last weekend but we changed our minds and went to the dog park instead. I knew that i

A Full Weekend

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I was able to get out and fly my RC plane a couple times over the weekend. It's got more power than my last one but it's still too wimpy. It's a simple trainer though and that's what I need to learn with before I'm ready for something more powerful. When I stop crashing it I'll know that it's time to move up and I'm not there yet. I do tend to have this fascination with seeing how close I can have it pass by me as I'm standing in the field adjacent to Hosanna's parking lot. A bit of a game of chicken with me controlling both players. I did nearly crash it into myself when I lost it in the sun just before it flew past me. The phrase, 'thinning the herd' comes to mind. Tammy, Rachel, Josh and I spent some time at Hosanna yesterday for Project 363. The link speaks for itself but I'll say that it's a remarkable story of the difference one person can make in the lives of so many others. Mr. Law spoke to our group of volunteers to

Vacationing—With Bob

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It's been a few years since we've taken a family vacation. The last trip we went on was to western South Dakota nearly five years ago. That's got to be a boring trip you must be thinking. Ah, but you would be wrong and I have proof:  Here and here . We love the Black Hills and have talked in the past about what a nice place it would be to retire to. I doubt that we will but one never knows. They've got some great roads for cycling. Enough said. (at least for me) Tammy and I have been talking about finally taking a trip this summer and we've got a few places in mind that we're considering; Las Vegas; New York or Grand Marais on the North Shore. I'm leaning toward New York as I've never been there. I've never been to Las Vegas either but I'm in no rush to get there. It'll happen someday. Rachel has done her share of traveling in her short life. She takes at least a couple mission trips each year with the youth groups at both Hosanna and

I Didn't Think So

The FAA has a position at headquarters in Washington, DC for dispensing propaganda. Really. I can only imagine that the people who support this sort of disingenuous information don't believe that their workforce is astute enough to see it for what it is. I'm insulted. I should probably be as equally disturbed that I would spend any amount of time actually visiting the site and reading the drivel. But I do. A couple weeks ago the main propagandist, Gerald Lavey, penned the following article: Executive, Heal Thyself March 5, 2009 – In the last several years, the FAA has gotten better at measuring performance — with the agency's strategic Flight Plan and the business plans as the cornerstone of this effort. But, recently, as I was reflecting on my role as an executive, I couldn't help but wonder if we executives often don't use the wrong metrics to measure our own performance. We’re pretty good at measuring employee performance, but I am not so sure we’re as

Saturday Night Stuff

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I picked up a sore throat and a head cold at the hockey tournament last weekend and it's taken a bit of the wind out my sails all week long. The head cold has now settled in my chest leaving me with coughing fits that come out of nowhere. I figured the best thing for that was a long ride on my bike yesterday, you know, something to clear out my lungs. It sort of worked but I'm still not well. I probably should've moderated my effort but I didn't. Once I got out there I was feeling pretty good but only through the first couple hours. My endurance began to fade after that. Still, I was glad to be out. There's a rule of thumb about when it's okay and not okay to workout when you're sick. It's said that if the symptoms are above the neck you may be okay to go but if the symptoms are below the neck you should refrain from exercise. I'm not sure where that leaves symptoms residing in the neck. Personally, I feel the exact opposite of that advice works fo

Stories From the Trenches

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As an air traffic controller, there are a couple things I don't do when I'm in the sector (or out of it for that matter). I don't try to imagine how many people may be under my control (although I have) at any one time and I don't spend any time worrying that the next call may come from a pilot in distress. Either of those two things occupying much of my idle thoughts would only serve to distract and unnerve me say nothing of the hyperventilating that would follow. The green slash on the radar which represents the aircraft's position is just that; a green slash. It's not really an airplane at all. There's a bit of disassociation that needs to occur to be able to do this job day after day. At least for me. This month marks my 27th year as a controller with the FAA. I can't say I've had a huge number of emergencies in that time but I've had my share. Often times they're military aircraft with equipment malfunctions requesting an immediate des

A Simulating Experience

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My brother's former wife Kim works for Northwest Airlines (soon to be Delta) in their training department. She asked me several months ago if I'd be interested in coming out to where she works on a Saturday night and spending some time in one of the simulators. I sort of felt that it was a lot to ask and that maybe she was just being polite by making the offer. I was wrong. She emailed me last week and said she had us slotted in for 8:00 Saturday night (last night) to come down and take a ride. I asked her if it was okay if I brought my camera and she assured me that it was. So, Tammy, Rachel, Josh (Rachel's boyfriend), and I showed up at 7:45 last night and got much more of a tour than any of us were expecting. Jeff Crawford is one of the managers of the department and has been working in simulators for over 30 years. He had a DC9 simulator that wasn't in use and he walked us over to it and brought us inside. I'd been on a flight deck a number of times before so

Rink Rats

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I was a rink rat in my youth growing up in Bloomington, Minnesota. My younger brothers Keith and Tim were rink rats too; Keith more so than Tim. There was no lack of ice to skate on near our home. I can think of a dozen ponds or hockey rinks within two miles of where we lived but the one we spent most of our time at was behind Hubert Olson Jr High where Mike Norris was the warming house attendant. Mike would usually have the radio tuned to WDGY which played top 40 stuff. To this day, whenever I hear the song I 'm Your Venus by The Shocking Blue my mind goes back to the warming house where Mike would often have drum sticks in his hands banging out rhythms on the benches and the barrel just inside the door where we put our sticks. The regulars would show up at the same time after school. After a little while of skating around taking shots at an empty net somebody would yell out, "everybody for a game down here!" We'd figure out the teams and go at it. There were few

Streamlining Our Operation and Flying Again

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Maybe you've stopped by my blog recently and noticed that it was down. It appears to have happened twice in the last few weeks but I'm not sure why. If you ever notice that it's down please feel free to email me to let me know. I'm not sure what's causing it but it's usually a quick fix to get it back up. Thanks. Our stained glass project has been sitting idle for the past week. I 've decided to go about this project differently than I have with others since this one has so many small but identical pieces. Rather than cut out individual pattern pieces (which is very time consuming) and gluing each pattern piece to the glass I'm going to opt for an assembly line approach where I cut out hundreds of pieces in one sitting. There will be minimal pattern cutting along the way to slow me down. I ordered a glass cutting tool which will help me streamline the process. I also intend to fashion a jig to further help in getting the pieces cut to the exact measure