May 2005

Yesterday was not so bad – it was just like working on any other day except that there was nobody about anywhere we went. There was one guy at the FBO (airplane gas station) in Albuquerque, one guy at Edwards AFB to let us into the hangar, two people at the hotel, and one guy waiting tables at the restaurant. I never imagined anyplace in California to be the sort of place where the sidewalks are rolled up but now I've seen it.

For weight-and-balance reasons, I sat in the rear of the plane where there are no windows and so just read the news on my PDA and tried to watch a movie on the laptop like everybody else was doing. Unfortunately, my headphones are too big to allow the airplane headset to make a good fit and so the noise was too much for me so I gave it up.

We couldn't ever get Enterprise rent-a-car to answer so we borrowed a government 15-passenger van to drive us all to the hotel but that kind of stinks since if anybody wants to go somewhere everybody either has to go also or get stuck at the hotel. I just went to my room and watched DVDs on my laptop.

It's nice up here – not hot yet and still cool in the mornings and evenings. I went for a walk along the road to the golf course and saw dozens of jackrabbits and ground squirrels in the desert. No jackalopes though. Those jackrabbits can get pretty big.

Today, we don't do much until this evening when we take off and go do our stuff.

Well, Evan pulled an A in the geometry class from hell. We're all relieved.

But now do I compose the blistering email about the crummy teacher and her crummy class? I sure want to even though it will likely get ignored.

So off we went to Arkansas to see Mel's mom. Word to the wise: don't go there hoping to watch what you eat. She rolls out a meal about every two hours.

We did a road trip to visit several places that I had either never seen or hadn't seen in 20 years. Queen Wilhelmina state park, the Heavener Runestone, and Robber's Cave state park.

Arkansas is underrated as a pleasant place to do stuff – perhaps because of the bumpkin reputation but the state parks are incredibly cheap. We ate at the restaurant at the top of the mountain at Wilhelmina with a million dollar view by the window and I paid about six bucks for lunch.

Robber's Cave is another place with much to do and admission is free. I think we all paid a dollar for snow-cones.

The runestone was interesting; I find it difficult to believe that Vikings found their way into Oklahoma but I'm no expert so I'll just leave it at that.

The best part was going to visit Mel's brother whose many-acre spread is on top of a mountain in the Ozarks south of Fayetteville. I'm often tempted to move in with him. It's big enough that I could probably keep out of his way. He grills good burgers too. He has his own pond with fish that actually bite.

But it's cut short for me – I'm home now since I have to work on Memorial day tomorrow – gotta fly off to California.

So we flew around the country for about six hours last night. We did some cool stuff but there was some slack time during which I listened in to the conversations going on in my headset. I'm not a normal flight crewman so I just try to stay out of the way and not horn in on their already established relationships.

Two guys sat there comparing the size of their hard drives for awhile. Then one began to coach the other in how to rip and copy a DVD movie. You know: “to back one you already own” *wink*. That was very handy. Back in the rear, it was normal conversation that I could participate in. One guy opened up his food only to have the entire rest of the crew bellow with protest at the smell of it. This is allergy season so I was so stuffed up that I didn't notice anything. When we stopped for fuel, they threatened to put him off.

Up front however, I was sitting behind the air compressor which was putting out vast quantities of hot, dry air. I was roasting by the time we landed. I ended up the flight with my face huddled up next to that little air conditioner tube that all aircraft have. I have to fly again next week so I'd better get used to it and wear shorts or something. I couldn't just drink water because I didn't want to have to arrange to pee with a woman around (that I'm not married to). I'm old-fashioned that way.

I get to fly again tomorrow night.

I love getting to say that. It probably sounds like bragging but nobody's reading this anyway so who cares?

Flying in the company plane is so much better than an airliner. It's unbelievable how much better it is. No baggage claim, no security, no waiting, no taxiing for miles around the DFW airport, no connections – just fly to where you're going, and every seat's a window seat. There's nothing bad about it. Except paying for it I guess. That and there's no bathroom. I still haven't figured out how I'm supposed to deal with that – everybody else just holds it so that mystery remains unsolved in my mind.

Note to self: bring along a bottle.

Evan was on the academic team this year. Kind of like Jeopardy but with the questions in the correct order. The following question came up:

“Finish the palindrome: Go hang a salami…”

Evan buzzed in instantaneously and answered:

“I'm a lasgna hog”

*ding* Correct!

Everybody slowly swiveled there heads over to stare at him, all of them radiating the question “How did you know that?” Somebody probably was wondering “What the heck is a palindrome?”

We have Weird Al Yankovic to think for this one. The lastest album features a song called “Bob” in which each line is a palindrome and that was one of them.

Thanks Al.

My dog has either been eating dog poop (not entirely outside the realm of possibility) or needs her teeth cleaned. But that would mean a $150 vet bill since her shots are due. And she may as well have a haircut and bath at the doggie beauty parlor as well while she's in. I think they're sedated for teeth cleaning so there's that too.

Maybe more like $300.

I think I can live with the manure breath.

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