Living in Chicago, air travelers have two easy options: American and United, both of whom have hubs here (United is headquartered here), and both of whom are two of the top-ten airlines worldwide using just about any measurement.
Astute readers will already know both airlines (accidentally just typed "airliens"—Freudian?) have made news lately. American is just getting around to applying an airworthiness directive to its aging MD-80 fleet, and United just announced serious fare increases that American will no doubt follow as soon as they can update their databases.
Both of them, however, have gone out of their ways recently to demonstrate why we used to have regulated airfares in the U.S. Now, I'm not advocating a return to regulation—in today's dollars, Chicago to Los Angeles would cost around $1,000—but it really irks me that an upcoming trip to Richmond, Va., would cost more than double if I actually flew into Richmond instead of to Washington, even including the $55 to rent a car for two days.
As I woke up this morning to Abby Ryan's traffic report on Chicago Public Radio, I didn't know what to make of this: "...Inbound Stevenson, it's 35; if you're going to Midway all ATA flights are cancelled today because it filed for bankruptcy; the inbound Edens from Lake-Cook, that's 42..."
I'm just imagining what it's like to hear that your company doesn't exist anymore—on the morning traffic report.
Unrelated to that: yesterday's Cubs game started with the first pitch launched onto Waveland Ave. Guess who won.
After six cancellations due to weather, I finally got up in an airplane today. I flew 1.9 hours of just maneuvers and landing practice with an instructor. I'm a little rusty, but they can use the plane again, so that's all right.
Long-time readers know that I have a GPS-enabled bike speedometer. Today, I brought the little bugger along in the airplane, so you can see where I flew. (Google Earth 4.x required to view the file.)
Yes, today I had my sixth consecutive flight cancellation. The sky is clear, visibility is 80 km, but the -19°C temperatures and 60 km/h wind gusts are just too much for the ancient Piper Warrior I rent.
For the fifth time in a row, I've had to cancel a flight today because of weather. Very frustrating. Next attempt in two weeks.
"I'd rather be down here wishing I were up there, than the opposite." So goes the aviation axiom. But this morning, with its 3 km visibilities and 30 m—yes, thirty meters—ceiling, I have postponed a checkout flight for the third time in a row.
Here's how weather can be really frustrating. I kept track of my flights (or lack thereof) during the summer of 1999 when I was trying to get my certificate, and put together a Web page to chronicle the frustration.
Two notes about the page: first, I haven't maintained the page since 9 December 1999, so all the links to the actual flights are dead (I used to have an online log book, and I will again someday...); and second, information about anything in 2008 may not be current, like the flight school's rules.
Returning from the West Coast after staying up late (in a different time zone) every night got me off to a slow start this morning. I'm glad to report that Half Moon Bay still exists, San Francisco is still the second-coolest city on the continent (after Chicago, and only just the barest fraction of a point above New York), and it's still winter.
My dad moved recently. I feel sorry for him, with his sad history of living in these kinds of places:
It turns out, though, that he now lives less than 2 km from a Peet's. So it's not as bad as it seems from the photos.
I'm visiting my Ps, nowhere near Parker:
Also, some sad news. Reggie, the Aussie standing just behind my dad in the photo above, has lung cancer. He's over 12 years old, and he isn't in any pain right now, but it's only a matter of time. They're totally spoiling him for his last few months: last night, he got about a quarter of dad's steak, for example.
I meant to mention one other great thing about San Francisco: Kennedy's Irish Pub and Curry House, at 1040 Columbus Ave., right where the Powell-Mason cable car line ends. It had everything I could ever dream of in a place to park myself for hours: dozens of microbrews, a great bartender (Max McLean), outdoor seating (the back patio overlooks the cable car terminus; the front, busy Columbus Ave. in North Beach), and tasty dal makhani.
I went there Thursday and Friday afternoons, sat in the sun, drank some beer, ate some curry, and fought off some of the most aggressive pigeons I've ever encountered. (Max told me pigeons are a protected species in San Francisco. This is probably not true, but I still hesitated before swatting one off my book. Imagine the scene below with a pigeon perched on the cover, pecking at my naan: that's what I discovered upon returning from the washroom.)
If they only had WiFi, and if Parker had been with me, I might never have come home.