You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded.
To the question, “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, “Why not?”
Atheist: Natural Morals, Real Meaning, Credible Truth

30 May, 2011

Stephen Hawking: 'There is no heaven; it's a fairy story' | Science | The Guardian

Stephen Hawking: 'There is no heaven; it's a fairy story' | Science | The Guardian:

"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark"

A couple of comments I liked this morning

An Ohpelia Benson comment:
God I hate sanctimony. I hate it more than some worse things, probably – it grates on me more. I hate it when people make it very obvious that they think they’re super-good people, sent to Enlighten all the rest of us.

The truly “nice” people I’ve known didn’t/don’t do that. They don’t do anything even resembling that. They just are kind and unself-obsessed and easygoing. They just do it, they don’t tell you they’re doing it, they’d laugh if you told them they were doing it, they don’t lecture you about doing it, they don’t talk solemn bullshit about doing it, they don’t give themselves big hugs every ten seconds for doing it. Not one of them is remotely sanctimonious.

A PZ Myers coment:
complexity and design are independent properties of an object. One does not imply the other. You cannot determine whether something was designed by looking at whether it is complicated or not.

28 May, 2011

Lliz's graduation.

Yay!  Liz graduated yesterday with her Master's in Special Education and her level 2 teaching credentials.  Quite the relief!  We got some pics with her professors and then went to dinner with Becky, Bram, Allena and Heather.

21 May, 2011

Field Trip

120 3rd graders from Calabasas Elementary School came to WVI on 20 May on a field trip.

Note to the organizing teacher and the volunteers I had with me:
I got the thank you letters from the classes and have had a good time going
through them.

Your kids were very well behaved but more importantly were interested and asked
a lot of questions.  It was my pleasure to let them in my plane and to talk to
them about flying and the airport.  I am sure the other volunteers feel the
same.  I hope to see them again around the airport, because airports are cool!

To all the volunteers ("airport people") who helped out:
Chris, the loudspeaker worked great, thanks!
Theresa, thanks for the great ideas, display in the terminal and putting up with
Rob, thanks for getting power up and being Rayvon's mechanic
John, thanks for the airplane to show and bringing a great friend who got 120
kids through map reading exercises
Dennis, thanks for showing your plane and let the kids climb in
Mary, thanks for leading the crowds out to the compass rose and back, did you
get your walk in?
Juan Carlos, thanks for the models and ground school help
Jim, thanks for the help on the ramp and ground schools
Abby, thanks for showing Theresa's airport info in the terminal
Rayvon, thanks for the great intro speech and showing your beautiful Bonanza.

I hope I didn't forget anyone.

It was a good day.

09 May, 2011

Email with ChevronTexaco customer service...

Subject: Chevron and Texaco Credit Card Billing Inquiries
Sent: April 15, 2011 05:13 PM EDT

You Wrote:

I am pretty pissed at getting another late charge. I went to paperless
statements and set up an alert 10 days before due date but your alert
message obviously was not enough to catch my eye... the 'Sender' is 'GE
Money for your Chevron and Texaco Credit Card'.... that doesn't even fit
within the Sender field and what do I care about GE? CHEVRON is who I
am Paying! The first characters should be CHEVRON! The subject is
'Account Alerts'. You know how much junk mail I get with that? Put
'Chevron Bill' in it!

Additionally, your web system won't allow my online bill pay to access
this account and send it my bills so I can easily see a bill is in,
balance, due date and pay it. Chase does it fine, what is wrong with GE
& Chevron? Get with the 21st century. I am about to stop using the
card. I was because I got a discount on fuel for my airplane, but
getting another late charge has wiped all the savings out.

I suspect you are just making it so that fees get collected. Make it
easy for me to miss a bill so you collect another $20. Prove me wrong

Subject:Re: Chevron and Texaco Credit Card Billing Inquiries
Sent:April 18, 2011 01:16 PM EDT

Customer Service Wrote:

Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding your Chevron and Texaco
credit card, and the opportunity to be of service to you.

Account is owned by GE Money Bank - Member FDIC. GE Money Bank is
considered a federally chartered bank.

After reviewing your account history and in the interest of good
customer service, we are crediting your account for Late Payment Fees in
the amount(s) shown below (if applicable). The credit for this amount
will appear on your next billing statement. Please refer to your Credit
Card Account Agreement for information about fees that may be assessed
and how those fees may be avoided.

Late Payment Fees: $20.00
We appreciate you as a valued Chevron and Texaco customer. If you have
any questions or if we may be of further assistance, please contact us
via the Online Message Center.
M. Nammavaly
Customer Service

Subject: Re: Chevron and Texaco Credit Card Billing Inquiries
Sent: April 24, 2011 01:56 AM EDT

You Wrote:

Thanks for the $20 back. I suggest you get with GE Money Bank and get
them to clarify their alert text. Telling me to read my Account
Agreement is not a solution to the problem. Your customers are humans,
not machines. It is up to you (a customer of GE Money Bank) to make the
system friendly to your customers. I am one of your customers. I have
choices. I may not choose you in the future.

Subject: Re: Chevron and Texaco Credit Card BillingInquiries
Sent: April 25, 2011 01:58 PM EDT

Customer Service Wrote:

Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding your Chevron and Texaco credit card, and the opportunity to be of service to you.

We appreciate the time you took to provide your input. We strive to learn from our past experiences and your feedback is very important to us.

Great customer service and satisfaction are an integral part of our business. We understand your disappointment and would like to keep you as a valued customer.

Please accept our sincerest apology and allow us the opportunity to provide you the highest level of customer service in the future.
We appreciate you as a valued Chevron and Texaco customer. If you have any questions or if we may be of further assistance, please contact us via the Online Message Center.
Customer Service
Account is owned by GE Money Bank - Member FDIC


Excellent listening skills Chevron!

05 May, 2011

04 May, 2011

Thoughts of this weekend

This last weekend, actually the five days from Thursday morning through Monday, have been a roller coaster for me.  I took vacation to support the EAA B17 visit to Watsonville.  Additionally the 7th Day in the Sky (DitS) event took place on Saturday.  These were to be totally separate events and not merged at all which was probably successful.  From a participant's point of view the events were probably fun, a good time, and meaningful.  The comments about the DitS displays and flight simulators are sounding good.  I had kids in my plane totally blown away by being in it, acting differently than their parents normally see them.   The B17 visitors I met as a docent on Friday and Sunday were amazed by what their uncles, grandfathers, fathers, and husbands flew in and conditions they fought in.  One lady only managed to get a little out of her husband before he died about being a B17 co-pilot, but she knew he had bailed out of one through the bomb bay as the plane burned.  She finally saw on Sunday how hard that must have been, that the little he told her about the war was but a drop in the bucket of what he had gone through.  On Friday a young lady and her grandfather were there, he was telling and showing her, for the first time apparently, about being a gunner in the belly turret of the B17, how he had to squeeze into it after takeoff with his parachute only half attached.  She watched as other vets surrounded him, asking questions and sharing experiences from the war.  It seemed to open a whole new relationship between her and her grandfather.  I think there were many such stories from families of veterans.

Not all went well however.  Thursday I caught an earful from the owner of the aircraft repair shop next door to the EAA hangar where the B17 parked.  Getting that large four engine plane into it's spot for the first time was complicated by cars on the ramp that weren't supposed to be there.  The B17 was going to blow crap into the repair shop's doors and make a  mess, the owner was enraged and let me have it.  I got the full depth of his contempt for me and my ability to manage the ramp for this plane.  Unfortunately this is the shop where I was going to have my plane's annual inspection done, where its been done since 2007.

Thursday evening I managed to get my plane in the air, the battery, for a change, had enough charge to get it started.  This may have been the last time I fly N1844D.  I don't have enough money to do the annual inspection, easily a $5000 job this year with a 5 year propeller inspection due.  Last year's inspection and repair cost $8000.  I can't do that again.  It is grounded now with the annual inspection expired.  I wanted to fly it one last time on Saturday after DitS was over before the last inspection expired, but the battery was dead and I didn't have the energy to try to recharge it.

DitS on Saturday was a disaster from my point of view.  I was in charge of the display ramp and aircraft and I utterly failed.  I didn't check in with each pilot as they arrived, I didn't ensure they knew the rules, I didn't even keep track of who showed up.  When families started to go up for rides, I didn't move those planes off the display ramp, I should have ensured the families knew there was no insurance to cover them other than what the pilot had (if any), I had no knowledge of who was flying, I had no knowledge if their medicals and aircraft inspections were current.   Even worse, people started wandering across the active, unprotected ramp, to the B17.  To get there they had to pass the fuel island and aircraft with engines running.  We watched and tried to guide people and aircraft but it was a zoo.  I saw one small child start to run towards a turning propeller, fortunately stopped quickly by a parent.  As a pilot commented, this situation was appalling.  My feeble attempt to redirect people was of course futile.  I needed to anticipate this to begin with by putting up better signs and barriers to get them there, I needed to actively stop it once it started.  I did neither.  I had heard the FAA was going to be at DitS.  I didn't even remember that.  Amazing.  My greatest fear is that my friend Don French and his staff will get in trouble with the FAA.

I want to know who decided to fly kids and families.  Who selected and arranged the passengers.  What were they told.  Why was I not told.  But then if I had been on the ramp instead of showing my plane, I would know these things.

I like showing my the plane and interacting with the kids, parents and visitors.  Being in charge of aircraft movement and crowds is obviously beyond me.  I don't do it well, I shouldn't be in charge of it.