The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Raining on someone's parade

I had planned to go for a quick bike ride this morning, but that doesn't look like a lot of fun at the moment:

But yesterday Anne and I went for a hike through the Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods, Ill., which was a lot of fun:

I am especially glad that I could single-handedly feed thousands of starving mosquitos.

Anyway, we chose Ryerson after reading Ted Villaire's 60 Hikes within 60 Miles, which Anne picked up earlier in the week. We recommend the book to anyone who (a) lives in or near Chicago and (b) likes hiking.

The book lists the hikes in alphabetical order, so Ryerson is #50. While hiking, we resolved to do the other 59 hikes (even the few we've already done) in two years. That should be fun.

But not, I think, today, as it will probably rain throughout the morning.

The plastic bag may not inflate

I love the Straight Dope:

Q: I have asked flight attendants on airplanes all over the world. No one knows. No one even hazards a wild guess. ... Why doesn't the plastic bag inflate? Since it doesn't, what is it for?
First an inside secret: the bag does inflate, but only when you exhale.
Here's the deal. Passenger oxygen masks give you a continuous flow of oxygen (as opposed to oxygen on demand, which only flows when you inhale). The oxygen obviously can't flow into your lungs while you're exhaling, so if there weren't some way to store it temporarily it would have to be vented wastefully. The bag makes this unnecessary. When you start exhaling, your breath plus the incoming O2 flow into the bag.

Cecil Adams rocks.

Warmest planet in 400 years

Scientists find more evidence that the planet is, on average, its warmest in 400 years:

A panel of top climate scientists told lawmakers that the Earth is heating up and that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming." Their 155-page report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree during the 20th century.
Overall, the panel agreed that the warming in the last few decades of the 20th century was unprecedented over the last 1,000 years, though relatively warm conditions persisted around the year 1000, followed by a "Little Ice Age" from about 1500 to 1850.

The President still doesn't believe there's a connection between human activities and global warming in much the same way that South African president Thabo Mbecki doesn't see the connection between HIV and AIDS.

942 days, 20 hours left.

One last chance before an annoying logbook entry

According to Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 61.56:

(c) ...[N]o person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft unless, since the beginning of the 24th calendar month before the month in which that pilot acts as pilot in command, that person has (1) Accomplished a flight review given in an aircraft for which that pilot is rated by an authorized instructor; and (2) A logbook endorsed from an authorized instructor who gave the review certifying that the person has satisfactorily completed the review.

My last flight review took place in June 2004. This means that if I don't have a flight review by July 1st, I will not act as pilot in command of my next flight—which will be my BFR. So my logbook will show a flight in which I'm not PIC, for the first time since I got my certificate. It's no big deal, but it is a point of personal pride.

Thunderstorms are moving through the area so I won't have my BFR today. The next available time is in a week. That leaves three days. Fooey.

This is part of the fun of flying: rescheduling because of weather.

Ugh. It's summer

It looks like Chicago may miss 32°C (90°F) ever so slightly. It's 31.7°C (89°F) officially right now. It's supposed to cool down on Sunday. I hope so, because I'm melting already.

Update, 4:05p (21:05 UTC): We hit 32°C. But it's not the hottest day of 2006: that was May 28th, when Chicago hit 33.3°C (92°F).

Biennial Flight Review

I'm a private pilot. Every two years, I'm required to go through a flight review with a flight instructor that, except for the absence of an FAA check airman, mirrors almost exactly what I had to do to get my certificate. So I've been studying the plane's manual and the regulations, and this morning I got a formal weather briefing and started planning the flight. It's a big deal: my last BFR was in June 2004, so at the end of this month, I'm not allowed to fly as pilot in command of any aircraft until I take another BFR. (Imagine if we had to take a full driving test every two years, how much safer the roads would be.)

Right now at Pal-Waukee Municipal Airport, winds are calm, visibility is unlimited, there are a few little clouds at 1,700 m (5,500 ft), and it's 20°C (66°F). The weather is, in short, absolutely perfect for flying[1].

Only, the plane is broken—apparently someone had a good landing, rather than an excellent one—so they're replacing the tires and inspecting the airframe.

I could cry.

Oh well. It's always better to be down here, wishing you were up there, than the reverse.

Here's the aviation meterological report (METAR), which you can plug into the new METAR decoder at 2006-06-14 13:53 KPWK 141353Z 00000KT 10SM FEW055 20/11 A3013 RMK AO2 SLP200 T02000106