Sunday, February 26, 2006

Slow news day, indeed

Thanks to our marketing guru Traci for pointing this out: my (first) name is in lights as #3 at tech.memeorandum at this moment. I helped author this post about FeedBurner's second birthday. It's not exactly "blogosphere is going cuh-razy" material, but it's cool to see FeedBurner make the front page of this fast-moving service again.



Sunday, February 19, 2006

Plane from my flying club makes emergency landing

Apparently, a Piper Warrior flown by my flying club, Northwest Aviation, experienced an engine failure shortly after takeoff and was forced to land on the Elgin-O'Hare expressway. Scary stuff -- sounds like the instructor tried to get the plane back to the airport but lost power too far out in the pattern to return to the field. I've never flown the Piper Warriors they have in their fleet — I'm partial to their Diamonds and the late-model Skyhawk SPs — but these are generally very reliable, easy handling aircraft forgiving of most mistakes, so this must have been an extremely unfortunate scenario.

The news report calls it a 1985 Warrior, but apparently it's a 1983 model. (Pretty cool that Google links directly to these pages if you enter an "N" number as your query.)

Sounds like instructor John Vashko did some pretty impressive work to get the plane down on the expressway without a) hitting cars or b) injuring himself or his student beyond "minor injuries, cuts, and abrasions." Remind me to triple-check those gauges during my next engine run-up procedure. It's so easy to get lazy and careless about your routine as a pilot when everything seems perfectly ordinary.


Need a "vintage" printer?

I decided to try Google Base as a way to list an old, old, old (but still-useful) printer I've recently shelved in favor of a new one. Here's my listing.

I'll post an update to this item if I'm actually fortunate enough to generate any takers/interest. Parallel port-powered printers aren't exactly all the rage these days, but surely there's a bloc out there nostalgic for the days of simple big ports and big cables. Plug and play, phooey. It's the fixie of printers, I tell you!

Update (2/26): I found a sucker perfectly reasonable and willing buyer for my venerable printer exactly one week later. Wow. Maybe Base will kill other classifieds dead. Probably a bit early to start with that sort of hyperbole, but me? I'm just happy to be moving this old Canon lug outta my basement.

The NHL's in a bad way

I'm watching hockey this morning — USA vs. Sweden — and it occurs to me this might be the first time I've consciously paid attention to it since Herb Brooks was pacing the boards for Team USA. The thing is, Olympic hockey seems to have real electricity and energy, both in the stands and on the ice. Every game seems to matter. A lot.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the NHL is trying to bootstrap itself after a devastating strike. Maybe it's just Chicago, where the Blackhawks appear to be mired in a decade-long pool of suck, but hockey seems to matter little, even to hockey people. It's becoming a participation sport again, isn't it? Plenty of prep kids playing, but adult interest at the pro level seems as low as ever. Baseball managed to come back from its own painful work stoppage in 1994, but its importance to American pop culture was never in doubt. But what about hockey? South of say, 41° north, who really gives a rip?


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Just what Chicago general aviation needs: more Daley

Hizzoner is at it again. Bush's revelation of the purportedly foiled terrorist attack on LA in 2002 has Mayor Daley fearing for the skies over Chicago all over again. I can tell you right now that:

  1. Any such no-fly zone would effectively kill general aviation in Chicagoland; GA accounts for significant traffic at Palwaukee, Du Page, Schaumburg, Aurora, Joliet, and even Midway, not to mention a dozen or more smaller fields that would fall within the TFR zone the mayor would want declared under the "umbrella" of O'Hare's existing airspace.

  2. Committed terrorists don't usually stop to ask ATC for clearance.

This economic and political ignorance in the name of perceived safety is infuriating. Surely you've spent your summers since 2003 biking along Lake Shore Drive, thinking to yourself, "thank God they had the sense to shut down that old menace, Meigs Field." Meanwhile, runway 4R at Midway Airport still points the noses of fully-fueled 737s and 757s right at the Sears Tower each day the wind is from the north. It's nearly perfect hypocrisy.

Do you know a pilot? As one myself, I now feel I haven't done nearly enough to make any elected officials understand that knee-jerk regulation doesn't help when the greatest threats to the system couldn't care less about the rules in the first place. Fortunately, AOPA keeps an eye on situations like this and does what it can by involving its members and lobbying on Capitol Hill. If the Washington D.C. ADIZ discussion is any indication, and given the FAA's ongoing investigation of the Meigs closure circumstances, it's possible the city could be fined millions (I doubt it'll come to a single penny). At least it's not up to Daley himself to redraw the airspace boundaries on his own; that's still the FAA's call.