Archive for March, 2009

Dad’s New Job

Well, my dad is starting a new job today.  He hopped aboard a Cessna Caravan in Palmer, Alaska heading for Bethel Alaska.  He is one check ride away from being a Hageland pilot.  It sounds like he’ll have about 4 hours of instruction in a caravan once he arrives in Bethel.  After the instruction time he’ll take a check ride and if he passes he’ll finish out his first “shift”.  A shift I found out is a two week stint.  If he doesn’t pass his check ride he’ll head back to Valdez.  During a shift a pilot can’t fly more than 8 hours a day, but usually work about 12 hours each day.  The rest of the time they are loading up freight into the airplanes and refueling them for their next flights.

Here is what a Cessna Caravan II looks like.


Here is the routes they fly on a pretty regular basis if not every day.


He is really excited about the new job.  This is something he’s always wanted to do.  He got his commercial pilots license a few years ago.  He also has his instructors license, so he is able to give flying lessons and has done so with a couple of guys from Valdez.  One of the cool possabilites of this job is that he may be stationed in Nome which should bring him in and out of St. Michael on a somewhat regular basis.  For those of you who don’t know, that is where my sister is teaching this year.

I do have my concerns about this whole new job…  After having lived in rural Alaska and flying in the inclement weather that frequents the area I worry about some of the situations he may be in.  Frontier Alaska’s rules state that if a pilot is not comfortable flying because of weather they can decline to fly at any time.  The problem is the weather can be really bad a lot of the time, so it turns into the standard operating procedure to go out on days you normally wouldn’t fly in.  This tends to work out fine over and over again, but the one time it doesn’t can be a tragic day.

Anyway I wish him the best of luck.  We always say its better to be lucky than good.

A moment of weakness

With the intense pressure building up on Erin’s shoulders over the purchase of a Dell Mini 9 she encountered a brief moment of weakness one evening sitting next to me on the couch.  I was in the middle of doing my nightly task of going through the steps of building an order for a Dell Mini 9 when Erin sat down next to me and saw what I was doing.  You see she had witnessed this event on many occasions.  She broke down and said just buy it.  Now if any of you are in a similar situation here are the following steps you must take to ensure the purchase of the item.

  1. Say nothing (ie. don’t ask “Are you sure?”)
  2. Cautiously move to retrieve your credit card.
    1. Better yet have it memorized
    2. Don’t do this in a hasty manner, act calm and collected.
  3. Complete the purchase as quickly as possible.
  4. Don’t even talk about the purchase for at least a day or two unless they bring it up.
    1. If they do bring it up, be very careful to read the situation and respond accordingly.

The coolest thing though was before I hit the submit button Erin said “Now hold on… Do you plan on buying a new Macbook Pro in the next year?”

Totally awesome that buying a new real laptop was even something to consider.

So I do now have a Dell Mini 9 sort of on the way.  Unlike purchasing a computer from Apple where you receive the machine the next week, Dell likes to have you wait about a month before they ship it to you.  So hopefully I’ll get mine around the 23rd of April.

Thanks Josh for the support for being there for me through this “tough time”  😉

Rain + March = ICE

I’m not sure what time the rain began falling last night, but by 6:30 AM there was a glistening new layer of ice on the ground.  Our driveway was nearly impossible to get out of and the following downhill seemed more like a luge run than a gravel road.  Needless to say I only managed to avoid going into the ditch at the bottom because of my heroic Bond-like driving skills.  I promptly parked the car and hopped in with Erin since she has the sweet escape which seems to handle the slippery roads a bit better than the bald rear tires on my KIA.  The next 3 miles took us about 20 minutes to navigate doing our best not to end up in the ditch.  When we finally made it to the highway the roads were fine.  The rest of the day was less hectic as Mondays should be.  The rain is supposed to continue for the first half of the week and then turn to snow sometime Wednesday.  Looking forward to the weekend.

P.S.  Who’s orchestrating the collection for “Bill’s Mini Laptop Fund?”


As the snow fell outside my classroom window last Friday one of my students said “Isn’t today the first day of spring?”.  I confirmed his statement as we all watched the once clean streets begin to fill with snow.  One of my students has a class at the MIB school before my class, upon her arrival she commented on how slippery the roads were.  We had a little discussion about how the drive home would be joyous.

School has been going pretty well.  The kids are fun to work with.  They always have a great attitudes as we work on our projects.  In my broadcasting class we are about to take a week to work on shooting cooking shows.  Using multiple camera angles and an upbeat host I’m hoping they’ll get to try out a different type of shooting and editing.  Im not sure what we’ll make, but I’m hoping its not too elaborate.  The goal is the tech side of things, not the food side of things.  I’m thinking cookies may be on the docket.

My web design class continues to install php msql systems, and hack the themes to look a certain way.  We are in desperate need of Photoshop, but our lab doesn’t have that, so we skimp by.  I’ll be starting them on a new system tomorrow called glfusion.  I’ve never worked with it, but it seems to have a lot of nice feature sets, so I’m hoping it will be something they may actually use on a real project for a client.

Erin and I have been hanging out.  I picked up a couple of steaks from F&D Meats in Virginia last week.  We had a nice sunny day and fired up the grill after work.  The steaks were the biggest I’d ever seen, and shockingly enough we pretty much finished them off with a little wine.  We hope to be doing more barbecuing in the future once this random spring weather decided to clear itself up.  They are forecasting for freezing rain and snow all week, so that’s nice.  😉

We have officially begun the countdown to Australia 74 days and counting.  We can’t wait to fly half way around the world and begin our lazy 3 week road trip along the great ocean road. More posts on that when we get there and maybe a few more leading up to it.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with believe it or not, the thought of buying a new laptop.  What may surprise you however is that “gasp” its not an apple.  I know, I know…. There really is nothing wrong with me.  Here is my thought process…. I am super happy with the macbook pro I currently use, but I don’t know if I really want to take this with me to Australia.  We are going to try to go as light as possible on that trip, with our full intention being to go carry-on.  So the extra weight and size of my slim macbook pro has me thinking smaller…. Much smaller…..  The computer that has caught my eye is the Dell Mini 9.  Its a tiny 9″ laptop and here is what I like about it.

  • Small form factor
  • Built in 3G (Can connect to Internet via cell tower)
  • SSD (Solid State Hard Drive)
  • Built in web cam (for skype video)
  • WiFi
  • Comes with Ubuntu (Yeah no XP or VISTA)
  • CAN BE HACKED TO RUN OS X (Apple’s operating system)

The last one is the biggie for me.  To be able to have such a tiny laptop running my favorite OS with iphoto and everything would be phenomenal.  There are some drawbacks, the biggest being the condensed keyboard and the apostrophe key being moved down by the space bar.  So this can cause some troubles when trying to type out something really quickly.  So how much does this hot little number cost?  It starts out at $250.  After you finish configuring it it comes out to about $555 which if you think about it is not too bad.  So im asking all my readers to donate $30 to “Bill’s little laptop fund”  I figure if I can get 20 people on board then I’ll be good to go.  Something to think about with my B-Day coming up next month wink wink.