July 7th, 2009


new members of the herd

My first week off, I was chillin' out reading my twitter pages and noticed someone in Wichita searching for a home for some guinea pigs. I sent the pictures to Marc, who I thought would surely say "no bad idea we already have two" but he called me instead and said, "I'm looking at a picture of two ADORABLE piggies!!!" and it was all downhill from there. Short story: we now have four guinea pigs, which officially makes us herders. They're all male... the family was looking for a home for a female also but we said no way. The last thing I need is to risk auto-multiplying guinea pigs when, just living our normal lives, we go from zero to four in a matter of months.

Introducing males has been exciting. The new piggies came with their own cage, which spent a week in another room. Then we moved the cages together, and started letting them have floor time all in a group so they could "get to know" each other... this involves a lot of butt sniffing and face humping. You know, guy stuff. But these days they're getting along nicely. Yesterday's floor time was basically uneventful... playful chasing mixed with lounging and sharing food. I'm happy. So we'll be keeping these guys for sure. Next week they'll be moved into the big cage with Pinky and The Brain.

They came to us as Whiskers and Cuddles but I'm afraid we have to rename them. Nothing against the names, it's just that I had a parakeet named Cupcake once who came to a very unfortunate end at the hands of another parakeet, so I'm for tough names. One of the piggies, the lighter brown one, is a BIG PIGGY. You can't see it in photos but when you pick him up, you're like, "damn." So we're naming him Jabba the Hut. The lighter brown one we're calling Billy Dee, after Billy Dee Williams who played Lando Calrissian in star wars. Yes, the original owners are probably head-shaking right now, they'll always be whiskers and cuddles to them, and that's okay.

Anyway, mom and dad haven't seen pictures of the new grandpigs yet so I've got pictures!

From the left we have Billy Dee's butt, then Jabba, Brain, and Pinky:

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pre-pre-pre-solo work

I realize I haven't done a flying update in a while... mostly because things have slowed down. Not my hours, mind you, those have increased. I'm at 23 or so. I fly at least twice a week. But the knowledge is, well, slow. We do pattern work. No lesson plans, no new checkboxes, just flying in circles around an airport touching runways. I go through the pattern in my head every night as I'm falling asleep. Seriously abbreviated version: full power, takeoff, climb, 90 degree turn, another 90 degree turn, fly along the runway, do the landing checklist, start descent, turn base, turn final, land... repeat. The version in my head has five times that many steps. But I've got it down.

My landings are messy but they're happening, almost. they're hard and unpretty and uncomfortable and I'm always really happy to be on the ground, then we go again. I still get occasional assistance from the guy in the right seat, whoever that is... not instructor S, he's been on vacation, I haven't seen him in weeks. But he'll be back and find that I'm like a soap opera: miss days and days, nothing's really changed.

People ask about solo but I don't see what the big deal is. I mean, such a small percentage of your hours have to be solo flight... why not just knock those out at the end? What's the advantage of saying you flew by yourself after so many hours? One thing I've encountered with the general public is that they feel like once you solo, you're pretty much done. Not so. There's a lot more instructor time that has to happen. So even though the competitive side of me is disappointed that I won't be flying solo any time soon, the logical side of me realizes that your "hours to solo" is just a number. No reason to get to it first. It'd be like saying you finished the mashed potatoes for thanksgiving dinner by 11am... that's a great checkmark, but the whole meal is what matters, the fact that you focused on potatoes first doesn't say much.

We did practice emergency procedures today so at least i got to leave the pattern for something. We just went through the motions of what to do if the engine quits or there's a fire. He said I did a good job picking out a field to land in and aiming for it... we don't actually land in the field of course, but I can prove that I can line up with engine power as low as possible. I like brown fields. I think green ones might be corn and that sounds messy.

The nice thing about Kansas is that there are LOTS of fields... no shortages of places for emergency landings, that's for sure. And the fields make other things easier too. It's like learning to fly on a giant sheet of quad rule paper. You want to turn east, just turn that direction and when you're lined up with the roads you're golden. You can see what a mile is, and a half mile.

I talked to a girl who learned to fly elsewhere and she was frustrated with Kansas because there are no landmarks to aim towards... just land. I guess it depends where you come from.