archive for October, 2005

One Year with Sergio

On year ago today, Jesse and I adopted our cat, Sergio. I think he’s finally starting to settle in and might even be cured of his biting habit. We look forward to another year with him.

Private Pilot Knowledge Exam: Passed

Well, I finally got around to taking the written exam. The good news is that I passed. I’d thought I had done better when it was over by getting only one or two questions wrong, but it turned out that I got four wrong. Still, I guess a 93% isn’t bad at all.

I took the test at American Flyers in Santa Monica. They seem very friendly and professional there. I think if I needed to go to a flight school, I’d start there.

Solo Santa Monica to Oceanside

The flight went really well overall. The only scary part was at the very end. This should finish off all of the solo time I need to be a private pilot. Of course, there are other requirements that I’m still working on — like passing a few tests. Speaking of which, I have my written knowledge exam tomorrow morning, so I can’t spend much time writing tonight.

Here’s how the flight went: I met my instructor this morning at about 8:30 to go over my plans. Everything looked good, so I went ahead and filed and got the weather report/forecast. The weather looked great (and was). The winds were light and there was more than 10 miles visibility.

After double checking all of my plans and information, getting the plane ready to fly, and triple checking almost everything, I was off the ground at 10:40. Of course, with all of that planning I still managed to forget some stuff. My first mess up on the way down was not having the frequency ready for flying over LAX. My second was not setting up my navigational equipment before I took off. I was busy trying to get flight following (where the ATC people keep an eye on you), so I ended up flying through without self-announcing. Other than that, the flight went really well. Best of all, I didn’t have any trouble finding Oceanside airport.

I came in and landed and tried to find some place to park. It looked like they’d just gotten rid of a bunch of parking spaces, so I wasn’t really sure where to go. I ended up just pulling out of the way and shutting down. I called the Flight Service Station to close my flight plan (I couldn’t reach them on the radio), and I called my instructor to let him know that I hadn’t crashed. This time I was much more careful to get all of my frequencies ready and set up my navigational equipment.

It’s a good thing I left when I did. On my way out, the frequency was packed with people coming in to land. The flight back was nice. I made all of my turns correctly and stayed on course. The only big problem was when I got back into Santa Monica airspace. First I was told to overfly the airport, make a left 270 degree turn and join the pattern for landing. I could have sworn he said to change that and make an immediate right turn and enter the left traffic pattern. I read back what I heard and did it. I don’t know if I just heard wrong and wasn’t corrected, or if the controller got confused, but their was another plane right below me doing the same thing. Of course, I couldn’t see him and he couldn’t see me, so when I got down to pattern altitude, he was right in front of me. I slowed down for spacing and let the controller know what was going on, and I was cleared for landing.

I had some long stretches where I wasn’t too busy, so I was able to take a few pictures on my flight. Be sure to check them out by visiting my Flickr account.

Hacker's Diet

I recently read The Hacker’s Diet (via BoingBoing). It doesn’t have any surprising information or magical cures. We all know weight gain and loss is a function of calories in and calories out (hunger is a separate issue). What I like about the Hacker’s Diet is that it gives you great tools for measuring your weight, and allows you to track and forecast your progress somewhat scientifically.

I’ve been 185 lbs. for the last several years. Sometimes I’ll go up or down by five pounds, but on the whole I’ve been very stable in the mid 180s. I’m going to go ahead and give this diet a shot to see if I can get down to 165 — much closer to my “ideal body weight”. I’m not overly concerned about it or anything. I wouldn’t say that I struggle with my weight. It would just be nice to be a little thinner. Check back to see how it’s going. If I don’t mention it again, you can assume I’ve given up.

Flight Lessons: Back to Agua Dulce

I was scheduled to do another cross-country solo today. Unfortunately, the entire coastline was overcast, so there was no way I could make the flight. So, instead my instructor took me above the clouds and I flew us to Agua Dulce where it was clear. We practiced soft field take offs and short field landings. I think I did one of each okay.

I tried a short field landing when we got back to Santa Monica and it seemed to work out really well. I didn’t quite hit the numbers, but we did stop very quickly. Now that I know what a good short field landing feels like, hopefully I’ll be able to replicate it more easily in the future.

Link Roundup: Oct. 21, 2005

Writing sensible email messages
When I was a kid, I remember reading in a typing book about writing formal and informal letters, invitations, resumes, etc… Those skills are still valuable, but so are a new set of skills for the digital age — like writing an email.

No Future in PCs?
I don’t think Jonathan Schwartz of Sun makes a clear case for the demise of the PC, but that services will steal the spotlight. I think PCs will continue to be a common gateway to those services. At least for the next few years.

Google.org
The founders of Google believe that the philanthropic arm “… will eclipse Google itself in overall world impact…” Obviously this is a logical contradiction, but the point is sound. The Foundation has a good chance of producing a larger impact on society than the rest of the company.

Yahoo! Buzz Game
Prediction markets have proven to be useful in the past. This looks like a great way to learn about them and have some fun in the process.

Promession
Instead of a simple burial in the ground, sea, or sky, why not think about promession. With promession, your body will be frozen, disintegrated, and then dried out before it’s placed in the ground to decompose. I wonder if it’s sanitary, but still, it sounds interesting.

And now, for some links without comment:
Art, Science and Democracy
Donate Life California
Microgrids as peer-to-peer energy
CommonCensus Map Project
Fifty Degrees Below
TurboGears: Python on Rails Introduction
Flock 0.5 Preview

ApeJet Blog 2.0

Another software release post… I’ve finally gotten around to packaging up all of the changes I’ve made to ApeJet Blog since 1.0. I’m happy to announce that ApeJet Blog 2.0 is now available.

I’ve added a few nice features over the last year and a half, but no where near as many as I’d like. I’m giving up on trying to use the Creative Commons license for software. While I still like the idea, it just goes across the grain a little too much and pretty much killed ApeJet Blog from being posted on SourceForge. I’ll guess that means I should try posting it there again now that I’ve switched to the MIT license.

ApeJet Delay Mail

Have you ever wanted to send an email message to your future self? I have, and I finally got around to building a little program to do it. ApeJet Delay Mail is available for use and download. You can use to to send yourself reminders, or spooky notes from the past.

Flight Lessons: Solo X-Country

First, another catch-up blurb. Last Thursday, I did a little more solo work in the Santa Monica pattern. I only got three times around before the sun went down and I had to stop. I was able to do a couple solo touch-and-goes for the first time.

Today was a big day. I made my first solo cross country. The route was from Santa Monica, to Santa Maria, to San Luis Obispo, and back to Santa Monica. Everything except the weather went better than I expected.

The weather had been worrying me for a few days. There was rain forecast, then it wasn’t, then it was again. Other than that, I was pretty worried about my radio work. It can get pretty busy at times, and they like to throw four digit numbers at you pretty quickly (both frequencies and squawk codes).

The weather was pretty rough. I only got a little rain, and was able to stay under the clouds (most were above 8,000 ft.), but the turbulence was exhausting. I’m pretty sure it would be classified as “light to moderate”, and it wouldn’t have been so bad if it was only for a few minutes, but most of the flight was choppy.

On the other hand, the radio stuff wasn’t too bad. When I first requested flight following out of Santa Monica, I got handed around a few times, but it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t mess up any of the squawk codes, and I only got one frequency wrong. I got tongue-tided a few times, but I’m sure it’s nothing they haven’t heard before.

The two new airports, for me anyway, were pretty cool. They both have two runways (I used both at Santa Maria), and they’re pretty good size. I didn’t have trouble finding either of them, but the GPS helped out with that. I’m really supposed to be more focused on using the VORs. Overall, it was a good flight and I’m looking forward to doing more cross-country flights.

Quantum Lottery

According to the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (if I understand it — I’m sure I don’t), the universe kind of splits every time measurement (not just with a ruler) takes place.

There are several sites, Random Numbers Info being one of them, that will provide numbers based on measurement of quantum systems. In theory, if I request a set of numbers from their site, there will be different versions of me that see each of all of the possible numbers. These numbers can then be used to play a lottery, and one (of all of those millions of me) will be guaranteed to win.

So, what’s the drawback? Only one of me will win, all of the rest will have lost $1 and the net result will be negative. Of course, if you already are going to play, you might as well make your bet based on some quantum event.

Here are my “lucky numbers” for Mega Millions (available in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Washington):
1 13 14 27 43 31

If you use these numbers and win, don’t forget to share. :)

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