The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Long solo flight

With my days for doing this sort of thing dwindling rapidly, I took advantage of the perfect weather this morning to do a cross-country solo flight: Chicago Executive, Madison, Kenosha, back home. And, of course, I have a Google Earth file, in which you can see that I overshot the turn to final on my last landing, which mars an otherwise good track. It's not apparent from the track, though, that winds aloft were around 30 kts, which accounts for the course corrections on the long legs.

Flying around in circles ahead of the rain

This morning I flew solo for the first time in two and a half years. I really missed it.

I last flew solo on 24 May 2006, from Nashua, N.H., to Nantucket, Mass.—208 km each way. Today I had a more modest mission: Wheeling to Waukegan, Ill., 34 km and less than 10 minutes' flying time.

Some rain moved into the area so I only got four landings in, as you can see from the Google Earth file. (Remember: all takeoffs are optional; all landings are mandatory.) Still, I have to hand it to Chris Johnson, my CFI at Windy City Flyers: all four landings were among the best I've ever made, right on the numbers and so smooth I didn't know I'd touched down until the plane stopped rolling.

Friday, I plan to fly to Janesville, Wis., for a family event. I'm looking forward to spending a couple of hours in a plane again, just flying.

Cubs sweep Atlanta

I wrote this post on my flight to Dallas listening to the Indigo Girls. Fitting, because having an extra day to spend in Atlanta, my cousin and I went out to Decatur to have lunch with one of my oldest surviving friends and her wife. As my cousin said while we were poking around the interesting kitsch in Blue Moon (below), "Ah, here's the Community."

My Decatur friend suggested the most appropriate (and, in fact, tastiest) place to have lunch in these circumstances: Watershed, which the Indigo Girls' Emily Saliers co-owns. In for a dime at this point, I put in my dollar by having shrimp grits and a mint julep. I know what my fellow Northerners may think right now: "grits? Ew." But what are grits? Nothing more than pieces of corn pan-fried in butter. Well-prepared grits—at Watershed, they prepared them well—are quite tasty, and these, paired as they were with possibly the best-made mint julep I've ever enjoyed, completely ended any reservations I had about this Southern staple.

From there, my cousin and I got back on the MARTA (Atlanta's cute little ol' light rail) and headed next to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site. Wow. Intense. I've studied the Civil Rights Movement from the distance of 20 years and 1000 km, but standing by the Ebenezer Baptist Church and walking past King's tomb truly moved me:

We wrapped up the day at Turner Field, where we got to watch the Cubs sweep the Braves with 29 runs in two days. The park hardly contained any Braves fans at all; it sounded like a home game at Wrigley, complete with "Let's-Go-Cub-bies!" chants and mocking the Braves' tomahawk chop. Milwaukee also lost last night, increasing the Cubs' first-place lead to 4½ games. This year, the post-season is ours to lose.

It was, I kid you not, NASCAR night at the park, with actual stock cars lekking around the warning track during two inning breaks. Occasionally one of the cars would rev at us, causing some in the crowd to cheer. I really don't have anything against NASCAR, but there is something of a cultural gulf between my crowd and theirs.

I did find the two local-beer vendors, and had some Sweetwater 420 Ale. Good pale ale; I recommend it.

From Dallas I'm on to San Francisco, mostly to see family, but also to visit park #15 on the 30-Park Geas, Oakland's Cisco Field. The As are playing the White Sox, which means rooting for the home team (and wearing a Cubs hat) are doubly enjoyable. That's Sunday; tomorrow, it's beer and curry at Kennedy's. I can't wait.

Biennial flight review

Perfect weather yesterday allowed me to finish my BFR. It almost didn't happen, as my usual flight instructor, Chris, got sick the night before and couldn't fly and the plane I'd scheduled lost its transponder earlier in the day. But, the flight school found a plane and an instructor, so off we went. Next time I see Chris, he'll sign off, and I'm good to fly again.

If you have Google Earth, you can not only see my route of flight, but also the actual plane I flew, sitting in its parking space right there in the Google Earth satellite photo.

Landing practice

I still need to do some high-altitude maneuvers (clouds were about 2800 ft, too low for slow turns and stall practice), but I finished much of my biennial flight review today. Interested people who have Google Earth can download the KML file.

What to do in perfect weather...

We get about 30 days a year like this in Chicago: 24°C, perfectly clear, light breeze. As much as I'd have preferred this weather yesterday (I had a flight scheduled but had to cancel because of low ceilings), today Parker and I took advantage of it and walked to Whole Foods. Round trip: 5 ½ km.

Actually, it's all about work. See, I've got a ton of work to do tomorrow, so this way, Parker is all pooped out and sleeps all day. So it's not about goofing off on a summer day, it's about hard work, which in turn is all about preparation.

Major sabotage to San Francisco city computers

Via Dad, it seems a network administrator for the City of San Francisco has locked out all the other administrators:

A disgruntled city computer engineer has virtually commandeered San Francisco's new multimillion-dollar computer network, altering it to deny access to top administrators even as he sits in jail on $5 million bail, authorities said Monday.

Terry Childs, a 43-year-old computer network administrator who lives in Pittsburg, has been charged with four counts of computer tampering and is scheduled to be arraigned today.

...

Childs created a password that granted him exclusive access to the system, authorities said. He initially gave pass codes to police, but they didn't work. When pressed, Childs refused to divulge the real code even when threatened with arrest, they said.

He was taken into custody Sunday. City officials said late Monday that they had made some headway into cracking his pass codes and regaining access to the system.

He's about to find out that you can sit in jail on a contempt of court charge for, well, ever.