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June 2nd, 2003


I took 59H up today. I charged 15 minutes of time to MTX since I had to try to figure out what is wrong with its ADF, but then flew an additional two hours, just because it was a beautiful day today (well, a little hazy, but little wind and a very high cloud deck).

The problem with the ADF turns out to be grit or something in one of the frequency selector knobs. After turning it to a different digit (this is a completely electromechanical device, read: ANCIENT) it doesn't make its connection very well and the radio won't receive nor will the DF needle point. Jiggling the knob causes a big burst of static and then eventually the station comes in, and then the needle faithfully points at the transmitter. I'd be more concerned about this if the ADF were at all critical, but I suspect that other than the instrument students having to practice NDB approaches, it never gets used. I'm going to recommend that we not get it fixed... that much more money to put towards an IFR panel GPS.

Speaking of GPS, this was the first moderate-haul cross-country flight I took with my handheld, and the first time I really put it through all its paces. The thing is absolutely amazing. Between its cute little HSI display, lots of graphical trend indicators, and a "course-to-steer" bug, it wasn't hard to stay within 100 feet of the plotted course the whole way. And it even handily computed the winds aloft for me (and adjusted the predicted groundspeeds and ETE's for future legs accordingly) AND led my turns. I completely ignored the VOR's and the DME, which felt a little odd. I knew in theory and from having played with this thing plenty on the ground that it had a lot of capabilities, but its software is heavily aviation-centric, so this was the first time I could really see what it's capable of. Obviously, the way of the future.

Back home, I flew a good pattern (I had discarded the GPS for pattern flight but did not turn it off, so later when I looked at its track markers, it showed a beautifully rectangular right-hand pattern with nice square turns--good after-the-fact feedback)... but then, as usual for me, I came in hot on final and floated in ground effect for over a thousand feet down the runway. Embarrassing.

But overall, a good flight, and I'm pleased with myself. I must remember that my vague anxiety about flying alone is not really warranted, and evaporates immediately when I get in the air. I'd probably go up a lot more if I could break that cycle.

Pushing the plane back into the T-hangar alone is not so fun, though... it's a slight upward incline and I can barely, by putting all my weight into it, get the plane to move.


from LAST weekend

I never wrote about LAST weekend's adventure in Indianapolis. No, not the Indy 500, but the Midwest Regional Beer Pong tournament, hosted by my roommate and her husband at their house. If you're not familiar, it has little to do with ping pong and a whole lot to do with drinking a lot of beer. See more at www.beerpong.com. We were playing by "Beirut" rules, with slight modifications.

Becca and I formed "Team Whatever" and took third out of twelve in the tournament, losing in double elimination only to the two finalist teams. Not bad. This despite Becca really disliking that kind of beer (whatever it was, it was cheap) and never having played before. I have a distinct advantage in that I can lean WAYYYY over the table and make a short underhand toss, whereas most shorter players have to make an overhand throw from the end of the table. My "technique" wowed the seasoned players, although I really can't figure out any other way to do it and so downplayed what was apparently viewed as some mad skill.

We chose as our required "team song" The Irony of It All by The Streets, mostly for the line "...and there's nothing I like more than getting fired up on beer, and when the weekend's here, I exercise my right to get paraletic and fight" and for the line "Public disorder? I'll give you public disorder! I'll down eight pints and run all over the place, and spit in the face of an officer!" We felt this much more apropos than another team's nasty song about "Fix yourself girl, you got a cameltoe!" but hey, we were the newbies.

The highlight of the tournament was that the sewer in their house got hopelessly clogged, with wonderful timing immediately before most of the teams arrived. Actually the timing was good, because the "toilet is off-limits" sign went up just BEFORE Kathy and Chris were about to serve lunch: Chili. What a pretty sight that would have been.

Over the next several hours, not one but TWO plumber/roto-rooter trucks came by, and much very scary and loud equipment brought in to try to clean it out, but it was all to no avail. As a result, about 30 people, men and women alike, were pissing in the back yard. And after all that beer, boy were we pissing. To the rather nasty resulting back yard add a dusty garage floor where the tournament was held, and a sticky kitchen floor (thanks to spilled gatorade, beer, food, whatever was being tracked in from outside, and the remains of the plumbers' work). And Becca and I were barefoot throughout all this.

It actually wasn't too bad... the hardships just sort of became a part of the Zeitgeist I guess. But then it was time to settle down for the night, and the combination of the unseasonable cold, the promise of no shower in the morning, and the two women having very loud sex in the same tent we were supposed to sleep in (there was a cloth partition between the two halves of the tent, but that was it) made us decide to join a small group of other people returning to Champaign that night. Fortunately there was sufficient sobriety to make the trip possible. We missed out on the next day's singles tournament, but we didn't feel like we missed all that much.

It's interesting: normally being in a tent just a few feet from some Hot Girl On Girl Action would sound pretty attractive. But I guess when you're tired and cold and exhausted enough, a warm bed and a hot shower trumps even that.



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