24 December, 2010

A certain lady

This Christmas has been a little weird for me. Over the past year I've been dealing with an ex girlfriend for whom I still carry a torch. We had been tip-toeing around the subject of dating over the summer but never really came to a conclusion. Long ago I had come to realize that I could never date her since I could never trust her due to her not knowing the meaning of the word "fidelity". It had been nine years since we had dated and she told me of at least one occasion when she was unfaithful to here then boyfriend. By that time I had finally admitted to myself that I would never be able to trust her despite the fact that we get along so well. I have never told her about it because it would serve no purpose and would only hurt her. She has told me that I'm the only person she can really talk to about anything. Why, I don't know. When here current relationship fell apart she disappeared for awhile and then eventually contacted me again. I knew at that time that I was only a friend and a bit of a "rebound guy" to her. That was last February. We spent a lot of time together, which was nice, but she was actively seeking a new man on a dating service. Even though I'm perfectly aware that we will never be a couple, it hurts me deeply to know that she doesn't want me. I haven't talked to her much since October and I find myself wishing I didn't talk to her at all because it hurts to hear her say how she's going to her new guy's place. She told me early on that she was just looking for friendship with this guy, but anyone could see through the bullshit. I think she was only trying to keep me from being hurt. Well, it didn't work. I have absolutely no say as to who she is dating and I keep my mouth shut. In fact, I encouraged here to give this guy another try when she started seeing him. That was very, very difficult for me to do, but I thought it was the right thing to do. As much as I still love her, I'm not going to stand in her way. I hate to say it, but if she hasn't changed at all, the new guy will eventually find out the hard way how she can be. I sincerely hope she can remain faithful to this new guy. But I also hope she has picked a guy that's compatible with her. If she's just settling for "close enough" she'll end up disappointed just as she has in previous relationships and it will lead to more infidelity. It's very sad to see this happen over and over again. I also can't bring myself to tell her that she's on her own and that I won't be there to help her if this current relationship of hers falls apart. I simply plan on doing what I do best, and that is just fading away into the background.

30 October, 2010

I'm Gullible

Good God I am so freakin' gullible sometimes. This weekend has been completely ruined and what stings most is that it's my fault. I've always looked forward to Halloween and especially when it falls on a weekend. Since I work nights I'm usually unable to enjoy Halloween unless it happens to fall on a weekend. Last year I was supposed to have Halloween off, but one of the other mechanics quit which screwed up the service call rotation. I got screwed out of Halloween and found myself fixing a tractor alongside a railroad instead of having a good time. This year I was, again, going to have Halloween off. One of the other mechanics screwed things up and it was looking like I was going to get fucked again. I had plans to spend the 30th (a Saturday) with a lady friend out at the bars looking at all the people who had dressed up for the holiday. I worked ten straight days on call just so I would have this weekend free. I was really looking forward to seeing my friend and had been counting the days. All the while I had in the back of my mind the nagging thought that she'd bail on me. I dismissed it think that she knew what I had gone through to have this weekend free and how important it was to me. This afternoon I got "the call". She couldn't make it. Said she wasn't feeling well enough. Granted she's been ill for the past three weeks, but even my offer to drive to her was kind of shot down. It just reeks of an excuse to get out of it. There was no point in getting angry with her. I just said that I was disappointed and that it would be another two weeks before I was free again. Some friend. So here I sit, plans ruined for the second Halloween in a row and fuming over the whole thing. Halloween will not come on a weekend again until 2015! To say that I'm not even a little pissed off would be a lie. Mostly, I'm pissed at myself for thinking she would actually be here. I am such a fool... Why do I even make plans for anything anymore?

01 October, 2010

Coming Soon

Since my last post, I have realized that I was quite harsh on that truck driver. Though he can be a pain in the ass at times I cannot deny that he's a good person. For example, the other day I had mentioned wanting to find a different truck to replace my old S-10 to a few people at work. The next day this driver comes in and tells me of a few decent trucks for sale at fairly reasonable prices. He's not so bad after all.

Next up on this blog I have decided to do a small series on the problem I have recently had with my car, a 1994 Chevy Caprice, and the diagnostic process I went through to repair it. I'll also briefly cover a problem I had with the S-10. The internet is a great source of information when repairing cars and trucks, but everything you see needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The information out there is predominantly from message boards and is posted by, from my experience, mostly shade tree mechanics. Some of them know what they're doing, some have no clue and some are simply passing on something they heard about but have no experience with. I thought it would make for a nice series of posts. Something other than me bitching about my job.

29 September, 2010

Spoiled Truck Drivers

There's a driver who parks his rig at the shop I work at and I used to like the guy, but now I think he's going a little insane. He's not an owner/operator, but drives for a rather large company. His truck is a 2006 Kenworth T600 with a sleeper and he keeps it in excellent shape. He always does a pre-trip inspection and will have even the smallest problems taken care of immediately. Something you don't see many drivers do, especially company drivers. But the driver I'm writing about in this post has started to become a nuisance. He's had his truck in our shop three times complaining of a rough ride. He's asked us to "check out the shocks" two of those three times and the other time he was complaining about ride height (a leveling valve/air spring thing). Well, on a car the way to check shocks is push down on the hood to get the thing bouncing. After a few good shoves you let go and count how many times the car bounces and rebound. When shocks/struts are in good shape, you give one last shove and the car should go down, up and then settle to normal height. A little bit of jiggle after isn't a big deal. With a big truck you can't even get the suspension to budge simply by pushing on it. So, you look for leaking oil from the shocks, excessive rust, damage etc. The first time this driver asked us to check the shocks (I have no idea what he thinks "checking the shocks" entails) I gave it a visual inspection and drove the thing for about ten miles over all sorts of roads. The thing rides very well for a big truck. We put it back outside and then a week later it was back in the shop because they didn't like the way we "checked the shocks." Well how the fuck would you like me to "check" them? I was told to disconnect one end of each shock and move them by hand to see if there was still enough resistance! Can you fucking believe it? The steer axle shocks were easy enough as were the shocks on the rear drive axle, but ohhhh, the front drive axle was another story. I'm not going to explain it, but if you're familiar with Kenworth air suspensions, you know what the "elephant ears" are. Both the top and bottom shock mounts on the front drive axle are blocked. The top by the fifth wheel and the bottom by the elephant ears. No mechanic would willing remove the front drive shocks on a Kenworth for "testing" purposes. The only time they come off is when they're getting replaced. Anyway, I wasn't going to wrench the mounting nuts off because they were rusty lock nuts. Fuck that! I dropped the elephant ears so I could get an impact on the lower mounting nuts. All told, I had an hour and a half just "checking shocks." There was absolutely nothing wrong with them, of course. I then found out that we had put these shocks on and they only had around 200,000 miles on them. Sounds like a lot of miles, but it would be like a car only having 8,000 miles on its shocks. That's when I realized this driver will get it in his head that a particular part is causing whatever problem he thinks he's having. He then proceeds to have things, like shocks, checked and rechecked until everyone gets tired of hearing him complain and replaces whatever part he thinks is bad. We replaced the steer tires two weeks ago because he thought they were causing a rough ride. He said they were cupping pretty bad. I'll admit there was a couple of spots where ONE tire was cupping, but you couldn't see it. I had to run my hand over the tread to feel it, and I could barely tell even then. He complained and sure enough, new steer tires. It's not our truck, so as long as the driver's company keeps approving the work, we'll keep doing it. I found out last night that this company told the driver to get the tires from us because they wanted to see if they were actually in need of replacement. They weren't. They still had at least half of the tread left (about 10/32" at the last service. I know, I get stuck servicing the truck every time it needs a service.) Another example of this nutcase is from last winter. The week I was on call, of course. He called me early one Saturday morning (not a good way to start my day being a second-shifter and all) and said he saw some "mist" come out from under the hood. OK, valid complaint and I thought the truck might have a coolant leak. Off to the shop I went. Pressurized the cooling system and looked all over for leaks, but didn't find any. No spots on the ground, no dampness anywhere around the engine. Nothing! Told him he was imagining things and then I went home. That wasn't good enough. The truck ended up in the shop a few more times with complaints of "mist" and coolant leak. He parks in the same spot every day and there was no spots on the ground and, again, nothing seen under the hood. What happens last spring? He gets a new fucking radiator. Again, changing a radiator in a big truck is no small task and I, as usual, was the one stuck with the job. I used to go out of my way to help this guy because when someone takes care of their truck, I want to do my best for them. I've had enough with this guy though and I'm not going to go the extra mile any more. I hope his company cuts him off and stops all this unnecessary parts replacement. I'm interested to see what happens once he turns in those old steer tires.

03 August, 2010

The joke is on you

Go to YouTube and do a search for something like "dodge cummins", "Chevy duramax" or some other truck/engine combination. Pick the first video that shows up. You don't necessarily need to watch the video, just read the comments. Any truck/mudding/winch-out/stuck in ditch type video will always degrade into a bunch of idiots leaving comments such as "If you had Ford/Dodge/Chevy/Tonka you wouldn't have been stuck. Duramax/Cummins/Powerstroke/Briggs and Stratton rule!!!!!" Oh just shut up. I'm so very tired of these brand loyal people. Each truck, or car, or motorcycle, or lawn mower is going to have its good points and its bad points regardless of the brand. The person driving the vehicle is the key factor most of the time. As a mechanic I see what happens when people maintain their vehicles and when people do not maintain their vehicles. I always smile when I see a lifted pick-up get towed into the shop. It's very common for people, young males in particular, to lift their truck and stick big tires under it, install the K&N air filter, performance "chip", performance exhaust of some sort and the cheesy sticker kit. What did they forget about? Anyone? Gearing. By the time they have the "Bad boyz drive big toyz" crap stuck on the back window, they don't have any money left over to change the differential gears. Of course, changing gears really isn't a shade-tree, DIY sort of thing anyway. No matter. The typical bonehead doesn't really understand that by putting a bigger tire on their truck they're changing gear ratios. And not for the better. Usually by the time they smoke off those expensive tires by doing burn outs, the transmission, transfer case, engine, steering linkage, suspension and differentials have taken such a beating that they're on the verge of failure. The whole truck is pretty much junk at this point. I've even heard a few guys complaining about the dealer not honoring the warranty. Uh, Einstein, as soon as you stuck that lift kit on, you voided your warranty. You purchased a vehicle that was designed to perform well as it rolled off the assembly line. As soon as you started fucking with things, you were making the vehicle do things it wasn't designed to do. Suspension made to handle a 245/75-16 tire is not going to last long with a 38" mud tire bouncing all over the place. People have to accept the fact that trucks simply aren't made as well as they used to be. You can't expect to modify them extensively, beat on them and still have a long lasting truck.

Sitting in the shop is a truck just like I've described. It's been there since late May and will probably be taking up space for quite some time. Some kid had it towed in because it didn't run. The brand doesn't matter, but it has a diesel engine (because they're sooo cool!) and it took quite a lot of diagnostic time to figure out what the problem was (a few bad injectors and injector cups amongst other things). We received authorization for every single thing we did. We finally got the thing repaired and it runs great. Whoever put the lift on it was smart enough to change the differential gears, compensating for the larger tires. Let me tell you, this truck hauls ass! But, the kid can't pay the bill. So, we're stuck with a truck taking up space until the bill is payed in full. Welcome to diesel engines kid. Expensive fuckers aren't they?

Just for shits and giggles, I donated some time after my shift one night and inspected the truck. Sloppy ball joints, transmission fluid that's brown (it's supposed to be reddish in color), leaking transfer case, a few marker lights don't work, exhaust leaks... If it was a big truck, it would not pass a DOT inspection. We've had a lot of this particular brand of truck in the shop lately. Probably ten or twelve in the last three months. All of them came in because they shut down and wouldn't run. Some of the trucks were bone-stock, others were "mud crunchers". The majority of them had the same problem. After the first three or so, we had to tell the customers that it would be at least $2000 to fix their truck. It's sad that a particular part failed with such regularity we could tell the customers what the minimum cost would be without even opening the hood. We've changed this particular part so many times that we've made special tools to do the job faster and know exactly how to change it. I know, I know, I've ended up on a different subject than I started with but believe me, there's a point to it.

The point I'm making is this. It doesn't matter at all what brand of truck you have or how you've modified your truck. Each brand of truck is going to have problems of one kind or another. Oh, one more thing about the brand-faithful. I was shootin' the shit with a younger guy while pumping gas one day and a Chevy truck drove by. Lift kit, every gaudy accessory known to man stuck on it, Duramax diesel with a performance "controller" as shown by the black smoke coming out of the exhaust (which is fucking stupid. That's unburned diesel fuel aka wasted money) This kid said something like "Yeah! Can't beat that GM power!" I looked over at him and replied "Uh, you should know the Duramax isn't a GM engine." He looked at me all stupid and asked me what I was talking about. I said "Kid, the Duramax is an Isuzu engine. GM is totally incapable of building anything resembling a decent diesel engine." He just stared at me and I couldn't tell if he was going to start crying or try and hit me. "Sometimes the truth hurts, kid. Dodge uses Cummins engines and the 'Ford' Powerstroke diesels are actually Navistar engines." Speaking of Cummins, I always get a laugh when some jackass calls them "Cummings" engines. Just proves they don't have a clue what they're talking about. One last thing. Stop putting exhaust stacks on pick-ups. It looks stupid.

22 May, 2010


One of my hobbies is aviation. For those of you who aren't aware of it, there's a community of virtual pilots and air traffic controllers who interact on the VATSIM network. VATSIM's motto is "As real as it gets". It's open interpretation, of course, but it's definitely as real as it gets when you throw a bunch of aviation geeks together. There's a code of conduct and certain rules that must be followed by pilot and controller alike, but the big difference is that controllers have to pass a series of tests and "over the shoulders" sessions before they can occupy certain positions. This, of course, means that any schmuck can fly on VATSIM, but only certain people can become controllers. I do both, but find controlling the most frustrating when pilots don't hold up their end of the bargain. When I control, I deal with pilots who start taxiing all on their own without even contacting me on tower. I send them a "contact me" message saying something like "N1234A, you need to request clearance before taxiing, sir." Nine times out of ten, these pilots reply "Oh, I didn't see any controllers online." BULLSHIT!. When I look at their statistics, I usually see that they've logged well over 100 hours of time on VATISM. I absolutely cannot believe that they've logged that much time without knowing how to find if a controller is online. It truly pisses me off. Then they usually request a departure runway that isn't currently active. "N1234A, if you had listened to the ATIS frequency, you would have known what runways were active." Now don't be thinking that I'm being a dickhead, when I see a new pilot online, I help them as much as I can. It's the experienced pilots not doing what they're supposed to be doing that make me angry. People fly and control on VATSIM for the realism that they might not otherwise be able to experience. VATSIM is NOT a free flight network. Another thing that gets me riled up is how controllers have to meet certain standards before they can control a position, but any jackass can fly on the network. There are basic rules a pilot is supposed to abide by while flying on the network, but it's rare that any of the newer pilots actually follow the rules. Hell, it's a good day when a new pilot even knows the basics of flying. In the real world, a student pilot will start out in a Piper Cub, Cessna Skyhawk or some other simple, single engine airplane. They learn the basics of flight such as what makes an airplane fly and what the primary instruments are and how they're used. These new pilots will fly traffic patterns at their home airport, take their first "solo" flight (meaning they fly a traffic pattern without their instructor sitting next to them) and eventually get their private pilot certificate. From there on out, it's a matter of learning. Learning how to fly by instruments, learning how to fly multiple engine aircraft etc. In the virtual flight world, it used to be almost exactly the same thing. There were differences to be sure, such as civilian flight sims and combat flight sims, but they all had virtual training programs that would teach a virtual pilot almost the same thing as a real pilot would be learning. That's where I started out. The first simulator I ever flew in was Air Warrior II. I then bought Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator and found it wouldn't run on the computer I had at the time. With the next computer purchase I jumped to Combat Flight Simulator 2 (WWII Pacific) and logged more hours than I care to count. Aerial combat was a part of it, but most of the people I met were mostly interested in the flying part of it, not the shooting part. We flew countless island hops around the South Pacific and somehow I became the default leader for these flights. I don't think it was because of any spectacular leadership skills, it was most likely because I knew how to get where we wanted to go. You see, after the initial noob excitement of being able to shoot down virtual aircraft piloted by real people, I wanted to learn more about flying. So, I went on a quest to learn more. I learned about fuel usage, trim, navigation and other basic things. I don't like not knowing how something works so when I don't know how something works, I teach myself. Things progressed to the point where if you threw me in a real airplane (a relatively simple general aviation aircraft mind you) I could fly it fairly well. So when I found out about VATSIM and finally got the nerve to sign up (it's free), I already had the skills needed to fly on the network without causing any problems. All I really needed to learn was how to interact with ATC. The initial contact with a real person working ATC was nerve wracking, but I did it and realized that it wasn't as complicated as I thought it would be. After flying on the network for awhile, I began to wonder how ATC worked, so I signed up to be a controller. Even before I became a virtual controller, I was appalled at the lack of skill many pilots had. For many that I chatted with, their first simulator was Flight Simulator X (FSX) and they had never flown online before. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that; we all start somewhere. But us old hands of flight sims, kind of look down on the new pilots and think of them as morons. You, in the back. What was your question? "Why do you look down on them?" Good question, and I have a solid answer for you. Most of the new pilots, at some time, got the urge to purchase a flight sim and do some flying. They install the sim, select a Boeing 767 and fly from point to point. Direct. Via GPS. *groan* Most of them never take advantage of the excellent tutorials that come with the simulator. Therefore, they have absolutely no clue what VORs, NDBs and airways are. Every flight is direct via GPS. Take offs and landings are purely by luck. And since the majority of the flights are done by auto pilot they begin to think that they "know how to fly". In reality, all they know how to do is set the auto pilot. That's all fine and dandy for them until they hear about this online flying thing called "VATSIM" and they look into it. I originally thought that with the amount of documentation on VATISM's website, only those pilots truly interested in learning how to do things the right way would get through. I was wrong. Almost totally wrong. Much like license agreements during software installation, these new pilots simply clicked the "Next" button without reading anything. Thinking they know all there is to know about flying, these noobs wind up at a major airport, like the one I work at as a tower controller, and start to cause headaches. They'll call for clearance "as filed" with a flight plan (if they actually filed a flight plan in the first place) that makes no sense at all. Of course, this is assuming they actually contact a controller to begin with. Here's a typical scenario. A pilot will contact me and request IFR clearance to so-and-so airport "as filed". Since new pilots never contact you until you're busy with a bunch of other aircraft, you tell them "N1234A, clearance on request. Stand by." Not having read any of the training material available to pilots, the new pilot doesn't have any idea that clearance requests are at the bottom of the priority list. So, they call you for clearance yet again. As you're trying to jockey around three aircraft on final approach to three different runways. Once I finally get a chance to look over the noob's flight plan, I see it's either GPS direct, or some standard, pulled off the internet, flight plan. With the GPS direct flight plans, a controller will, at the very least, know it's a new pilot and can take appropriate action to help the new pilot. Slightly annoying, but hey, we all start somewhere. It's the jerks with the pay-ware airliners who can be the most annoying. They learn how to start the aircraft and program the FMS (Flight Management System. Basically a really fancy "auto pilot") then program the FMS with whatever flight plan they pulled off of Vroute. Whatever controller is doing clearances (ATC service on VATSIM is from the top down) will look at the flight plan and, if it's a noob pilot, the controller will usually sigh and wonder how much time they have left before the migraine sets in. As a Delivery, Ground or Tower controller, it isn't a big deal. It's when these noobs get to the Departure and Enroute Controllers where problems begin to mount. A noob pilot can download a flight plan that makes absolutely NO sense to them, program it into the FMS, turn on the auto pilot and fly the whole planned route without problem. The departure controller gets the first inkling of mayhem unless the delivery, ground or tower (from here on out referred to as local control) controller catches the flight plan glitches and corrects them with the pilot. Not knowing any better, a noob pilot will download and file a flight plan horribly out of date. Departure procedures that haven't existed in five years, VORs that have been renamed, fixes that no longer exist etc. Local controllers will be pulling their hair out while dealing with the noob pilot because the noob doesn't have the most basic flying skills. They'll file, for example, the O'Hare One departure procedure. O'Hare is currently using the O'Hare FOUR, departure procedure. But looking up charts, airport diagrams and learning how to navigate is just too much work ya know. So, after much banging of heads against walls by local controllers, a somewhat reasonable flight plan is filed. OK, the noob finally gets off the ground. The tower will say something akin to "N1234A, contact Chicago departure on 118.10. Good day." The noob will reply "Departure on 118.10. N1234A." It seems good, but things can still be deceiving. It doesn't take any skill to parrot instructions back to a controller. Immediately after departure, even a noob pilot can follow instructions. "N1234A, Chicago departure. Radar contact 1,200. Turn left heading 040. climb and maintain 15,000." It's after that point where the noobs become a real pain in the ass. Controllers are like any other employee. They want to do things as efficiently as possible. Therefore, they're going to give as few instructions as possible. "N1234A, cleared direct Grand Rapids." Here's where things get messy. ATC is all about phraseology. "Cleared direct Grand Rapids" means the pilot is cleared to fly direct to the Grand Rapids VOR. But the pilot's first waypoint is an intersection named "Petty" and the program in the FMS is Petty, GRR, etc. The noob has no clue what to do. They don't know how to reprogram their fancy FMS in mid-flight. What about the VOR frequency? Oh, yeah. The noob never bothered to learn about something as simple as flying to and from VORs. A very basic skill learned by all real world pilots from the very beginning. Personally, I use an FMS, but I also know from my flight plan (which I actually plan myself) what VORs are enroute to my destination. I have at least one (two whenever possible) tuned in at all times. I always know where I am, in at least a general sense. A controller is usually going to clear you direct to something initially. Most likely, it will be whatever is next in the flight plan. Be it an intersection, NDB, VOR or GPS fix. A controller will also expect a pilot to be able to actually FLY the flight plan they filed. If your aircraft's equipment or your own skill only allow you to fly direct from one VOR to the next, it's probably not a good idea to put a bunch of fixes and intersections into your flight plan. Unfortunately, I see this crap way too much. Most virtual pilots and controllers are men. It's not sexist, it's just that women are either not interested in being an aviation geek, or they're too scared to admit it. Whatever. So, men not wanting to admit that they're lost won't say "unable" when given direct to something they have no way of finding. The proper procedure would be "N1234A, cleared direct Petty." "Departure, N1234A is unable direct Petty." (even though the idiot had Petty intersection in their flight plan.) The noob pilot will respond "Departure, uhhh.... request vectors Petty." Great. Just fuckin' great. A controller who is already overloaded with aircraft now has to hold some idiot's hand and guide him step by step to a way point which should have never been in the flight plan to begin with. You get the idea. The rest of the noob's flight is going to be similar. An approach controller will try and reduce his/her workload by clearing the noob for a visual approach, weather permitting of course, only to find out that the noob pilot has no clue where he is in relation to the destination airport. Again, the controller has to hold this dipshit's hand all the way down. Once on the ground, the local controllers will realize the noob doesn't have an airport diagram and is unable to find his way around the airport's taxiways. More hand holding. It's the job of a virtual controller on VATSIM to provide as much assistance as possible to the aircraft under his/her control (again, it's mostly men controlling.) But pilot's should be held to at least some basic standards. Christ, they should, at the minimum, be able to tune in a VOR and fly to it. But no, they can't. Because in the virtual flying world, you don't have to start at square one. You can start right at the airliners. Even if you can't navigate your way across the fucking room. As a controller, it is very, very difficult to not let my frustration come through over the frequency. I had some fuck face tonight sit at the gates for 30 minutes before he filed a flight plan. When he did file a flight plan, I could tell it was a very old flight plan and wasn't even relevant anymore. But, it was slow and I could clear him "as filed" if only to get him the hell out of my airspace ASAP. Well, this jackass didn't call for clearance or even contact me at all. He pushed back and started taxiing wherever he wanted to. I checked his stats and saw that he had logged over 530 hours on VATSIM. I eventually sent him a "Contact me" message and when I did, I saw his aircraft stop in its tracks. He contacted me, finally, with the worn out "Tower, N1234A with you." I replied, "Sir, you need to request clearance before starting taxi." I got the old "Oh, you didn't send me a message so I thought I didn't need to contact you." crap. "N1234A, it is the pilot's responsibility to contact ATC." Of course, I got "Well I didn't see you online". "N1234A, you have logged over 530 hours on VATSIM. You should know by now how to see what controllers are online." I hate being a dick like that, but this idiot had no excuse for not contacting me. He knew I had him cornered as soon as I mentioned how much time he had logged. It's information readily available to anyone who wishes to look for it. I frequently look at pilots' stats to get an idea of what kind of skills they might possess. This moron requested clearance "as filed" to KJFK. Even though his first way point was no longer valid for the O'Hare Four departure procedure, I knew it would be like pulling teeth to explain things to him. So, I cleared him as filed. He was told to expect runway 10 for departure since that was near where he stopped when I forced him into contacting me. He had the balls to request runway "35L" for departure. O'Hare doesn't have a 35L. It has a 32L, but it didn't matter. Because 9R and 10 were the active departure runways per local procedure. I told him "N1234A, if you had listened to the ATIS broadcast, you would have know which runways were active. ATIS available on 135.40". Then he really knew he was up against the wall. He cooperated very nicely after that. Even followed the taxi instructions to the letter. I cleared him for take off and once he was off, I sent him over to the advisory frequency (a VATSIM thing. Don't ask. Google it.) He then started apologizing for having "internet problems" which meant he wasn't going to bother actually FLYING his route. He would slew up to his cruising altitude and blame it on "lag". Fucking morons. They can't navigate, they can't communicate and they most certainly can't fucking fly. If you took half of the fuckin' hose bags on VATSIM out of their airliners and put them into Cessnas and told them to fly from one VOR to the next. They wouldn't be able to do it. And they wouldn't even have the slightest desire to learn how to do it. I find that very sad. And very fuckin' pathetic.

29 April, 2010

Caution! Venting in progress.

1.) The plural of aircraft is aircraft. Not "aircrafts".

2.) The plural of knife is knives. Not "knifes".

3.) An aircraft hangar is not spelled "hanger".

4.) How the hell did so many people graduate from high school without being able to use "there, their and they're" properly?

5.) In regards to number four, are kids actually smarter these days? Or have the standards just been lowered so much that they all appear that way?

6.) If you take notice between text messages, the round thing in front of you is called a steering wheel. Your hands need to be on it. So, put the fuckin' phone down and drive.

7.) I frequently hear truck drivers ask "Is there something I can help you with?" The proper answer is "No sir, not at the moment. If I need help I'll let you know." What I really want to say is "Yes. You can help me by staying the hell out of my way and letting me do my job."
*For virtual pilots only.

8.) If you are flying from Chicago to Miami by going from VOR to VOR, it might not be a good idea to have your first way point in Florida. Illinois and Indiana have some very nice VOR beacons.

9.) IFR cruise altitudes from 000 to 179 degrees are ODD thousands of feet. From 180 to 359 degrees cruise altitudes are in EVEN thousands of feet. "Easterners are odd" Memorize it.

10.) In the real world, pilots learn to fly in Piper Cubs, Cessna 172s etc. and build upon those first flights. Gradually working towards more complicated aircraft. In the virtual world, there's pilots who can fly a Boeing 767 with a full FMS across the Atlantic, but can't do something as simple as intercepting a VOR radial.

11.) The CDI while on an ILS approach is twice as sensitive as it is when tracking a VOR radial.

12.) Intercepting the localizer at a ninety degree angle, at the FAF, at 250 knots is not a good idea (see number 11).

15 March, 2010

Hard Times

To quote a song from Skip James, "Hard times is here people. They're everywhere you go." It's common knowledge that the US economy is in the crapper. Cities have lost jobs due to factory closings and such. The town I live in had a factory close quite awhile ago and most people were expecting something to happen instantly. The first people affected by the closing were, obviously, the factory employees themselves but the town didn't dry up as some people feared. Since the factory closed, the effects have trickled down to a lot of other places in town. The railroad and trucking industries took a big hit because supplies didn't need to be brought in and there were no products to take out. The local stores have suffered a lack of business because people don't have any expendable income. Bars, restaurants, liquor stores, grocery stores and such have reduced operating hours because there's no more need to stay open late. Unless, of course, they haven't gone out of business altogether. With so many people out of work, the types of jobs a person wouldn't even consider before are suddenly taken and work in general can be hard to find. It's general knowledge that the trucking industry is usually the first to suffer from a downturn in the economy, but it also is usually the first to recover from a crappy economy. Being a truck mechanic, I was affected by the local factory closing soon after the truckers. If there's not enough products to haul, they can't work, and if the truckers aren't working they don't need their trucks worked on. Because of this, the amount of hours I put in has gone down and it's hurting me financially. Not that I was a rich man before, I just didn't have to worry about money too much, but lately there's a gloomy feeling over everything. It's difficult some days to remain somewhat happy with life. I keep telling myself that I need to be thankful for what I do have. Still, sometimes it's hard to shake that gloomy feeling. Especially when I walked by a local liquor store yesterday and saw that the product on the shelves was wearing thin and the coolers were empty. I've been watching this particular liquor store slowly die and it saddens me because seeing the place so low on product means there isn't money to buy new product to restock the shelves. Since there's hardly anything to sell... Well, you know what comes next. It's the thought of how, in this current economical situation, I could suddenly find myself out of work. It's this thought that is always in the back of my head and I have to keep making an effort to not let that thought dominate my daily life. If I lost my job I have some reserves to live off of, but it won't support me for long. I also think about where I'd be able to find another job. I probably wouldn't be able to find work as a mechanic too easily. The other shops in the area are just as slow as the one I work at. I told myself years ago when I finally got back into my chosen career that I wouldn't let it slip away again. But if I find myself needing a new job, I'm not going to be very picky. I'll take what I can get and hang on until things get better. It's all we can do really. Just hang on. I've heard many people say that the worst has come and things are starting to get better, but can we believe it? Are the people saying how things are getting better just trying to keep our spirits up? I don't know for sure, nor do I care. What I'm concentrating on is how people are beginning to be upbeat and positive. To me, it's the first sign that we, as a society, are beginning to pick ourselves up and are hoping for a better tomorrow. It's this human spirit that I find myself relying upon more an more. We just have to hang on. We'll make it through this.