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.
I believe I figured out why the conference disappointed me. I last went to VSLive in 2003, when I had just started to get really good at my craft. The sessions at that conference hat a lot of information that I hadn't encountered before, and taught me a lot about where I should look to keep fresh and informed.
Four years of keeping fresh and informed, however, has pushed me well past where I was in 2003. So this year's sessions, despite being just as informative as the 2003 offerings, turned out not to be as useful to me.
There are a couple of other factors, some of which I previously identified:
- The conference is in San Francisco, one of my favorite cities on earth;
- Except for Monday, the city has had perfect spring weather;
- I haven't slept especially well, which colors my perceptions and moods.
The last point bears emphasis. I truly love the Hotel California, and I will stay there again the next time I'm in San Francisco; however, I will endeavor not to stay on the Geary Street side. It's too damn loud. Maybe because it's only a block away from the theater district, every night we had some new musical performance:
- The symphonic "March of the Garbage Trucks" started each day at 5:30am.
- Last night around 3am, we got the recitative and aria "O Too-Quiet Street / I am the very model of a modern crazy homeless man," followed by "Officer! Officer!" featuring the SFPD Men's Chorus.
- And who could forget Saturday night's rousing operetta in three acts, Happy Birthday, Fratboy, that also included a guest appearance from the SFPDMC?
Meanwhile, people on the courtyard—or even on the Jones Street side—swear they heard none of this. So much for Room 404.
I'm now going to the post-conference workshop. At least that's my plan; coming out of a miserable Chicago winter, today's sunny, 20°C weather sounds a lot more appealing than a windowless room and "Windows Workflow: a Gentle Introduction."
I have to say, the conference has disappointed me a bit. Many of the panels I thought looked interesting turned out to be somewhat less in-depth than I'd hoped. To make matters worse, I'm in one of the greatest cities in the world, the weather is perfect, and I haven't had enough exercise this week.
So, as irresponsible as it seems, I'm going to take the next two hours or so to cogitate on what I've learned this week, by walking up Powell Street until I hit water. That should get me back to the conference (by Muni, most likely) in time for the next panel I'm interested in seeing.
...the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 today to ban plastic bags at grocery stores:
San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 this afternoon to make the city the first in the nation to prohibit petroleum-based plastic checkout bags in large markets and pharmacies.
On the first of two votes needed for final passage, supervisors approved legislation sponsored by Supervisor Ross Mikarimi that would mandate the use of biodegradable plastic bags or recyclable paper bags. The legislation would take effect in about six months for some 50 large markets in San Francisco and would apply in about 12 months to large drugstore chains such as Walgreen's and Rite-Aid.