Hanging up the Headset

November 19, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Flying 

For the time being, I have stopped flying.

There are two primary reasons:  time and money.

With my re-involvement in church, my available time for flying is severely restricted.  Flying and maintaining skills at a proper level requires flying at least once every 2 weeks and once a week is better.  Training for a new rating or certificate requires a minimum of flying once a week (knowing that 1 week out of 4 will be canceled by weather).  Flying that once a week requires about 1/2 of a weekend day with my schedule.  With church involvement, I’ve lost 1 of the 4 possible timeslots.  With youth group, I’ve more or less lost another (the Sunday afternoon/evening slot – particularly with me involved in Confirmation that meets until 12:30pm).  And I still need to do all of the things that need to be done on the weekend – like lawn care, spending time with my wife, chores around the house, etc.

Also, money is … while not getting tight it’s not as free as it used to be.  With reinvolvement with the church I’m giving about half of what I used to spend on flying in a given year to the church.  The other half of my flying budget has been eroded by $3/gallon auto gas, 2% raises for several years where inflation was more like 4%, and the cost of everything going up.

Ever since getting my instrument rating in January I haven’t been flying as much.  I’ve averaged only once a month and I had a two month break in the spring when my blood pressure medication needed to be adjusted.  And I haven’t missed it as much as I might have (though I do miss it some).  The reason for that has to do with my reasons for learning to fly in the first place.

Starting about 2001, management changes at my job began to make my position extremely uncomfortable.  The head of IT at the time took a strong dislike to me and made it a point to harm my career progress.  He also said things in reviews, to me personally, and to others about my performance that my current boss can’t understand.  The problem was someplace between a personality conflict and actual malice on his part.

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I had always had an interest in flying and I needed to find an activity that met a few criteria:  doable by me, complex knowledge required but still learnable with a reasonable application of time and effort, and interesting to me.  Flying met all of those.

And I did learn a lot.  I learned more than just the flying itself.  I learned the concepts of positive control and immediate correction when necessary.  I learned how to tell the difference between a small problem that can be temporarily ignored and a major problem that requires immediate attention.  I learned a lot about “shades of gray” – very important to someone who works with 1’s and 0’s for a living.  I also learned a lot about learning and how I need to learn in order to grow.

In the process I made a few good friends, a small number of enemies, and did something that only a tiny percentage of the population has done.

The good news is that I can do it again when my situation changes.  I can’t say for certain that my church involvement will continue at the current high level forever.  I also can’t say (and don’t want to) that I won’t find a lot of money under a rock and be able to afford flying as a weekday activity (though Dad tells me that there aren’t any rich relatives).  I’ll just need to get with an instructor for a checkout, maybe a BFR (I’m not due until January 2009) and for instrument currency I’ll need some work with an instructor.

A word to those who might be considering learning to fly or who are already doing it:  My situation is different than yours.  If you are able to afford it and put in the time, go for it.  Some people are driven to fly in the same way that sailors have been driven to sail the sea – a nearly primal instinct that draws you to the air.  I know a number of pilots who have that.  I have never had that need to fly – for me it was an interesting hobby.  I do understand and support that need in others.  If you have that need, find a way to fly – you’ll be happier in the long run.

Random Bullets from my head

June 15, 2007 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Life, Religion, Work 

My life has been … not so much turbulent as full of changes at my periphery and disquiet in my mind.  Here are some random thoughts:

  • Today is the last day at my company of the woman who sits across the aisle from me.  She started with the company about 3 months before I did back in 1993.  For the last almost-year we’ve sat across from each other and been very happy (we both like quiet, we enjoy each other’s company).  I’m really gonna miss seeing a beautiful, intelligent, and friendly face every day.
  • Also at work:  the CIO has realized that morale within the IT group is not particularly good.  We’ve had four voluntary departures in the last month (out of a group that was about 45 people).  He’s holding lunch meetings with a smattering of people in each (everybody goes to one of them) to talk about issues.  I took the initiative to meet with him this past Monday.  I scheduled the meeting for an hour and his questions drew my list of issues out to an hour and 45 minutes.  It was a good session and minor happenings since show that he listened to what I said.  The problem is that many of my issues are outside of his direct control – they are company-wide.
  • Between what is happening with my church work (on an upswing) and what is going on at work (on a downswing), I’m wondering if I’m in the right career.  That’s right – not just right job but right career.  Any assistance for someone undergoing a mid-life career discernment questioning period would be appreciated – leave a comment or use the e-mail link at left.
  • This weekend I should be going flying for the first time since the end of March.  My blood pressure broke free of control back then – my doctor changed my dosage and I’m now stable again.  Actually I’ve been stable since early May, but I’ve been too busy to fly.
  • Also this weekend I’m a bachelor.  Carolyn is headed up north to go to a garden show with her parents.  She’ll stay overnight Saturday and come home on Sunday.  My bachelor amusements will include lawn-cutting, bill-paying, and laundry.
  • Sunday at church we have the Annual Congregational Meeting.  This includes the usual reports and election of officers.  I’m not on the program (either giving a report or being elected), so I will probably attend.  If it’s too hot (and it’s looking that way) I might just grab a copy of the annual report and check out if they have a quorum.  You see, our church isn’t air conditioned ….
  • I’m waiting for Verizon to finish installing FIOS in the neighborhood.  They ran the underground conduits 2 weeks ago.  So far the box in the ground had nothing in it but mud (or high water when it rains – I don’t know if they’ll actually be able to use the box).  I’m looking forward to getting FIOS Internet service and dumping Cablevision completely.  I might get FIOS TV as well (it’s available in my town) but I’ll have to see how it stacks up against DirecTV.  I’d like to keep my HD Tivo, but DirecTV is switching technology for HD programming and a Tivo will not be an option soon.  I can do a Tivo Series 3 with FIOS, but I lose video on demand and pay per view.  Decisions, decisions.
  • The cats are fine, but increasingly geriatric at age 11.  Sometimes they still run around like maniacs but those episodes are few and far between.

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Have a good weekend!

Vacation and topics

May 4, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Admin 

I will be on vacation next week.

This is not a “go somewhere and see the sights” vacation.  My wife and I (and my entire family for that matter) tend to plan to do too much on a “go someplace” vacation.  What I NEED right now is to relax – to plan one activity at day at most and sleep until my body says it’s had enough sleep.

But who are we kidding – I’ll be doing some stuff.

Monday I plan to go to Camp Johnsonburg and help out replacing light ballasts and fixtures to complete their conversion to lower energy lighting.  They have to have it done by the end of the month to get the grant from the local utility and they still have a ways to go.

Later in the week I plan to go flying again, since my blood pressure is under control again and I can.

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On Sunday, my church is holding a choir concert featuring works inspired by the Song of Solomon.  THAT should be interesting.

I know that I owe you a few posts.  One on Youth Sunday – if you can’t wait until I get that written you can go here to see pictures, or here to listen to the sermons (April 22, 2007).  I also owe you a post on the opera Rigoletto by the Boheme Opera company in Trenton – that’ll get done soon.

I also want to write something about the loss of church members when they graduate from high school and drop out of church during or after college.  It hasn’t gelled yet, so I’ll be writing that when the spirit strikes.

I’ll be back at work on the 14th.


January 6, 2007 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Flying 

That title is FAA abbreviations for pilot certification.

PP – Private Pilot

ASEL – Airplane, Single Engine, Land

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Today I added “IR” – Instrument Rated.  This allows me to fly in clouds and bad weather (though not too bad in the little planes that I fly).

I wrote up the whole story in pilotese here.

Holiday Roundup

January 1, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Flying, Life, Religion 

Here’s a roundup of how the holiday went.

  • Flew with my flight instructor for the last time before my instrument rating checkride.  Checkride is scheduled for January 6, weather permitting.  If I didn’t mention it previously, I got a 95% on my written test.
  • Went to 4 hockey Trenton Titans hockey games.  Went with friends, family and co-workers the first two (they lost).  Went with just Carolyn for the last two (they won).
  • Went to 2 services at church on Christmas Eve.  First the morning 4th Sunday of Advent service.  Then the 11pm Candlelight service, which was lovely and included wonderful music.  Then on New Year’s Eve I went in the morning to the regular service (2 baptisms!) and then to the special intimate New Year’s Eve Communion service in the evening (which was also lovely).
  • Went to see Mom, Dad, sister, brother and sister-in-law at Mom and Dad’s on Christmas Day.  We did the gift exchange thing (which is always hilarious for some reason) and had dinner.  Good time.  Everybody seemed to like my gifts and vice versa.
  • Discovered a flat tire the afternoon of 12/26.  30 minutes to replace with the spare – 1 hour to get it fixed and reinstalled at the local Goodyear.
  • On 12/26, Carolyn’s parents came for the Christmas thing and stayed overnight.
  • Watched the Rutgers football slaughter of Kansas State in the Texas Bowl.  Go RU!
  • Got the 15,000 mile service done on the Highlander Hybrid (three days after the tire repair).
  • Rested early and often.  I’ve been overscheduling myself lately between church, flying, hockey and the rest of my life.

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I had planned to blog on “Buyer’s Remorse” in terms of joining my church, but a few experiences yesterday told me that the issues I planned to blog about are turning around.  So I’ll hold those thoughts for now.

Happy New Year!

Instrument Written Test

December 19, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Flying 

Yesterday, I took the FAA Instrument Airplane Written Test, in preparation for my checkride to get that rating.

I got a 95%.  Passing is 70%.  Reportedly, 95% is pretty good.  It’s a really tough test – LOTS of stuff to learn.

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Then, I’ll probably do my checkride in January.  There’s a TINY chance of doing it before New Year’s.

Where Have I Been?

December 11, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

Sorry, readers.  Life is busy.

  • I’m studying for my flying Instrument written test.
  • It’s the holiday season, with the implied shopping and decorating issues.
  • I went to my brother’s house in Maryland for his annual party this past weekend.

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Blogging will resume once my head settles a bit.

The Interim Associate for Pastoral Ministry is my co-pilot; God is in the back seat

October 22, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Flying, Religion 

Yesterday afternoon, I went flying with Nolan Huizenga, the Interim Associate for Pastoral Ministry at Lawrenceville Presbyterian.  Nolan and another person are sharing the duties of the Associate Pastor at the church while the church undergoes a search for a new Associate Pastor.  (and I’m pretty sure he’s a Candidate for a call – he’ll make somebody a great pastor someday)

Nolan is a little ahead of me in flying – he has his Private license and his Instrument rating while I’m just finishing the work for my Instrument rating.  However, he doesn’t get to fly much (I imagine that a church paycheck will do that).  When he learned that I am an active pilot, he made his interest in accompanying me known (we pilots call that “begging” with the same cool demeanor expected of us).

So, yesterday we went up.  I needed 2.5 hours of cross-country time.  We flew from South Jersey Regional Airport (VAY) in Mount Holly to Cape May airport (WWD) flying essentially due south across the lower 1/2 of the state.  On the way home, we headed up the coast past Atlantic City most of the way to Barnegat, then turned inland, over Lakehurst, and up to Robbinsville.  We then headed to Lawrenceville and after contacting the Trenton tower, we took pictures of the church from the air.  Then we headed south to Hamilton and I showed Nolan the aerial view of the solar panels on my house.  We headed south back to Mount Holly (with a few zigzags to make sure we had the required hours) and landed.

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Update – the pictures are uploaded at Nolan’s Site.  Here is a picture of the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church.

Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville from the air

Presbyopic Presbyterian

October 12, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

As I mentioned last week, I have aged sufficiently that I now need reading glasses.  I picked them up last night.

I’m still adjusting.  They worked really well reading in bed last night.  Today I’m using them with the computer.  I’m getting minor headaches, but I suspect that’s just my brain adjusting.  I’m also still learning all of the “glasses” stuff like how not to forget them, how to keep them clean, when to use and when not to use them (these readers make anything beyond computer monitor distance blurry).  Any suggestions are appreciated.

This is gonna be a busy end of week and next week.

Tonight – NJ Devils home opener (which we are likely to skip – Carolyn is a bit sick)

Tomorrow evening – Trenton Titans season ticket pickup party

Saturday – Camp Johnsonburg fundraising golf tournament
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Sunday – Carolyn and my 12th wedding anniversary

Tuesday – ASME Trenton Section (Carolyn is a member) dinner – “Great Engineering Disasters”

Thursday – open house for employee families at my office (with free food)

Saturday 10/21 – the first day of New Member Classes for church, plus a cross-country flight in the afternoon for my flight training

I need one of those double-wicked candles.

Camp Johnsonburg from the Air

June 19, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Flying, Life 

Yesterday, I decided to put two of my interests together.

In the mid-1980’s I was a camper and staff member (counselor) at the Johnsonburg Presbyterian Center (formerly known as the Presbyterian Camps and Conferences at Johnsonburg, NJ).  I will write more about this summer camp later, but this is truly a special part of the universe – one of two places in my life where I’ve felt totally accepted.

I’m also a pilot.  So, why not take a picture from the air?

My solo flight departed South Jersey Regional Airport in Mount Holly, NJ (KVAY).  I flew the club’s Cherokee 180 to Blairstown Airport (1N7) and landed so that my time would count as a cross-country flight.  I then departed to find the camp.

Here’s the picture that I finally got:

Camp Johnsonburg from the air
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This is cropped from this picture:

Camp Johnsonburg from the air full size

This was a really hard picture to take.  For one thing, the camp is two meadows and a pond surrounded by trees, in a landscape full of ponds and trees.  Luckily, my GPS had Glover’s Pond labelled and it was easy to find on GPS.

Then I had to contend with flying the plane with my left hand and feet, while holding the camera in my right hand taking pictures – all in very light turbulence.  Aiming the shot was approximate.  I took 3 shots – the camp was partially over the nose in one, missing in the 2nd, and this was the 3rd.

Maybe someday I’ll go with another pilot and use a Cessna 172 – so that we can make a side pass in a high-wing plane and I can take the shot out the side window.  For now, this will have to do.

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