Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The joy of painting with Ra

Ra invited us over for some wine and painting at her place.  There's a place that does such things downtown, but Ra's offering is more affordable and easier to schedule, so we were in!

Well, Melch was in.  I had a few things to take care of for a contract job, so got to program with some whiskey instead of painting with some wine.

A good time to be sure, but I'll want to participate in the painting next time!

Don't disturb the creative process

The Irish Cliffs of Moher and some water lillies

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hour 61

Hour 61 was supposed to be a quick lap around the pattern to establish currency, then an outing with Tina and Emilio.  We were going to go to Pismo if time and weather allowed or just hang around the SBA area flying over the harbor and such.

You know what they say about plans:

And Emilio says I never plan...

Well, there's that old Clausewitz quote: plans don't survive first contact with the enemy.  In this case, the enemy was wind.  Turbulence over the mountains, gusts at the surface and low-level wind sheer.

The turbulence map for this weekend.  Not too comfy in SBA
Two of my three passengers were known to get airsick, so I was concerned that they would have no fun at all if we went up.  I still needed that one landing to get current though, so I figured I'd go up on my own and see if maybe it wasn't as bad as it looked.

I'd reserved good old 37G, but she was late coming back from a previous engagement, so I went up in 93X.  I'd flown 93X a few times before, but it had been a while.  Between that, my overall rustiness (first flight in a month and first solo in four months) and the wind, I opted to take an instructor.

It was as bad as it looked.  Not totally unsafe, but a challenging environment and we were definitely getting buffeted around.  Updrafts and downdrafts and shifting winds were the issue of the day, not really chop.  It was a good time to practice the pattern as I found it difficult to hold altitude and avoid being blown in or out of my range.

We used 25 with a mostly direct headwind in the 14-22 knot range, but gusty.  Definitely an abnormal approach for the usually calm SBA.  I set up my approaches for a long final and started higher than normal with no flaps.  The headwind kept us in line - we were way above our normal approach airspeed, but ground speed was fine.  Crosswind turns were challenging as the wind was determined to take one of our wings.  We kept the bank angles low and the turns wide.

All in all, it was great practice for me and I feel much sharper in my skills.  The bummer though was that Tina and Emilio would have to wait for another day.  I have some other adventures coming up this weekend, so it looks like the other day might be a ways away.

South Bay Rhinos

In our second-to-last game of the season, the Grunions went down to Carson to take on the South Bay Rhinos.

My injury still keeps me from playing, but I went to support my team and help them drink their beer.  I also ended up running the video camera for the game, though I slacked off a bit and "delegated" to Melch.

The field was in a nice location, with lights (that we didn't need, but I appreciate that), a nice covered club house with tables and... a muddy, uneven, gopher-holed field that smelled of manure.

Not the best field ever, but there's still nothing like the joy of setting up for a day of fun in the sun.  I fell in love with the pre-game feeling as an ultimate player and it carries on for me with rugby.

Goodyear blimp taking off during warm-ups

14 should be me!

The Grunions lost the A-side game and won the B-side.  The opponents were big, strong, spirited and given to many rule violations.  Not dirty, but a bit sloppy.  The ref in the A-side game gave many penalties, but still missed more than he called.  The B-side affair was called more closely and as a result the Rhinos ended that match with two yellow cards and a red.  Maybe things would have gone differently had the A-side match been officiated in a tighter manner but they were a good side and we weren't without our mistakes and weaknesses.

When all was said and done, we joined the Rhinos in their club pavilion for some great food, drink, music and times.  The times were made better still by the fact that it was Leisure Suit day for the Grunions.
Leisure suit Saturday!
Aww yiss!
Just beautiful

Following the match and post-match social, we hopped into our bus and made our way to the... Grunion Bar!  The Grunion Bar is a kinda divey sports bar with a great name.  We settled in with about 15-20 pitchers of beer and a few quarters...

Giant quarters table
From the bar it was back to the bus for some song, some beers and some carousing.  Not a bad day.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hour 60

My 60th hour as a pilot was my first in a Cessna 182, my first with a broken leg, and my first with my parents and sister.

I had wanted to take them up on a scenic flight, but my broken ankle meant that I couldn't fly on my own and would need the assistance of an instructor.  That meant five people in a four-seat airplane, which meant two trips.

The average weight of our passengers was also higher than normal, so we were going to want the increased payload of the 182.

We elected to do two trips over SB towards Montecito, turning around just as we got to Carpinteria.  My father got the lucky draw and got to go on two trips while my mother and sister went on one each.

The combination of newness made for an unique flying experience.  The 182 is the first high-performance plane that I've flown.  I had read about stuff like manifold pressure and prop angle, but I hadn't actually managed it during flight.  The rest of the plane was similar to the 152s and 172s that I'd flown before but not exactly.

The broken leg meant that the instructor was managing the rudder while I handled the rest.  This is perhaps akin to driving a stick shift where you manage the pedals and wheel but someone else runs the shifter.  The instructor was a very experienced pilot and managed the rudder without any issue, but it was weird just "trusting" that the rudder would do what I wanted, particularly while setting up to land.

Having my parents in the plane was interesting as well, as I was trying to manage the new plane while pointing out landmarks while trying to look like I had any idea what I was doing.  My mother already thinks that flying is crazy dangerous, so I wanted to perform like I would with a healthy ankle in a plane I'd flown before.

All in all, it went pretty well.  I got to log some high-performance time and could probably get my checkout in the 182 with a minimum of additional effort.

More importantly, my family seems to have had a fun time seeing SB and its surroundings from the air.

My ankle is improving though, which means it's time for me to get current again and start working on hour 61.

Flying over Oprah's house... =)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dizz Knee Land (as a cripple!)

Sandra, a friend of ours and Chris Deutsch's girlfriend, was about to head back to Germany.  Before she went, we had to solve the problem of her never having been to Disneyland.

It would also be my first time spending the day in the park while on crutches.  That meant some hard miles on my palms, but also faster line transit.

The day went great.  The weather was good, the park wasn't (too) crowded and we got to see the parade, fireworks show and fantasmic.  Thanks to my injury, we were able to spend less time in line and ride most of the rides.  We missed out on Thunder Mountain as it was down for maintenance, but that's pretty much the only negative for the whole day.

I guess another might be my palms, which ended up with two big crutch blisters.  Not bad for a day of fun, and I suppose I could count it as a solid arm workout too!

Waiting for the bus into the park

Pooh's Adventure!

I have no idea what we're doing here!

Canoe rides down the river

Getting ready for Captain Eo

Party like it's 1986

Getting wet

Space mountain!



Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Birthdays are serious business around RightScale.  In past years, I've managed to slip under the radar, but this time around one of the birthday crowd had discovered that we shared a birthday.  So she wasn't likely to forget...

My desk was adorned with streamers, a sign, a dressed-up giant monkey, discs, cones, and (natch), a pink feather boa.

Looking professional as always

The boa really ties the room together

Presented without comment

RightsScale's three birthdays

Champagne and cupcakes?  Best birthday ever

Topping it all off?  The company gathered in the kitchen for champagne and cupcakes in honor of the three of us.  It helps to share a b-day with one of the admin folks that organize these sorts of things, I guess!

As birthdays go, I've had worse.