Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Both bikes running; potential buyer

Well, I literally spent most of this past weekend trying to get my motorcycles up and running. The Intruder's battery was dead after sitting for 2 weeks before I could talk to the safety rep and get his blessing to ride again so I had to fix that first. However, the bike was not made for easy access to anything. The battery sits under the frame in a little box and you have to get it to drop out of there through a little hinged door on the bottom. But of course there were connections at the top that had to be taken off first, including 2 more random wires attached to the + and - terminals and then nothing else. (I figured later that these must be for emergency jumping or charging the battery since they are in an easier place to get to than trying to take the whole battery out) So I finally got the battery out Saturday and then spent the day shopping for the oil, oil filter, and coolant I want to flush and replace and looking for a replacement maintenance free battery. However, I kept the battery I have as i soon found that batteries are NOT cheap! So I bought a charger instead and let the battery charge overnight. So my plan was to do the oil change and coolant flush on Sunday between services. However, we had an even earlier choir practice than usual as we need to get ready for the Cantata, so I wasn't left with much time. Then I spent a while trouble shooting the battery.

When I first got it in there, I turned the key and got no indicator lights. That's bad...So I messed with the connections a bit, and this time the lights came on! So I got on the bike and went to start it: *click*, lights go back out... That's not right! So I fiddled with everything again, got the lights back on, and tried it again: *click* rumrumrum *click* lights out. Agh! This happened about 3 times and I finally disconnected everything and tried cleaning the leads which looked pretty clean to me anyways. But actually, the negative terminal lead had a bunch of grime on the side I couldn't see. So I put it all together again, got the lights, and no more just *click-nothing*. After a couple of turn-overs on the starter, I had a running bike again! Woohoo! I had about an hour and a half to go so I hopped on the bike and drove it over to the auto hobby shop: only to find they're closed on Sundays and Mondays. Agh again! So anyways, I decided this would be a good time to check up on my 500 which has been sitting in the lot for about a month or two now, and sure enough it's battery was dead too. So I dug that one out and got it charging that afternoon.

Sunday morning at church I had been approached by a gentleman and college freshman son whose a friend of mine and they asked about trying out the bike. They may be interested in purchasing it if it's what he needs, but of course of the price is a little high. And I said, yeah, I know! That's so I have room to barter down, honestly! So I got the 500 running again today after work and then dropped it off at their house this evening. So, we'll see if they want to buy it or not, and I'm hoping they do! I'd really like to sell that thing at this point!

Tomorrow morning is a 445 report for Ben and I for our sim, so it's going to be an early night tonight! So far we've both worked really well together and all our study sessions have really paid off. All the instructors we've had sims with so far have commented that they can tell we've been putting some good study in. So I'm praying that continues with tomorrow's sim.

And speaking of prayer, please be in prayer for my Dad who's been really sick for a few days now. In other news, Kimberly has made it home, but please keep her in prayer as well as her muscle tone is really down after having been in ICU strapped up to IVs and all for so long.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back from hiatus

Wow, it's almost been 2 weeks since my last update! Part of the reason for that is that not much has really been going on with training besides class, tests, and a couple of sims now. Everything is going really well so far, I've only missed 1 question so far on the 3 tests we've taken, and we'll be taking number 4 tomorrow morning. Both of the sims I've had so far have gone really well, and Ben and I were told at the last one that we're definitely above average for this stage of the game. For this whole transition portion of T-1 training we're assigned to a pilot partner and we'll be flying everything with that other person. However, since we have an odd number in our class, Ben and Rob are both on my team, but so far Rob's been the only one to be traded out to sim with other people from our class. We've all put in a lot of extra time together going over stuff and trying to get checklists, call-outs, and the other basics down. Tonight I have another sim with Ben which will be like the last one but we'll each be getting 3 landings in. At this point the focus is still mostly on checklists and crew coordination, but we're expected to at least be able to put it on the ground and all safely too. I'm really enjoying the sims so far, it's totally different flying a crew jet like this now where I don't do anything but actually fly if I'm in the pilot's seat, and the copilot is the one flipping switches and dropping the gear and flaps, making the radio calls, etc. It's the complete opposite of the T-6 where you just pretended you were in there all by yourself and had to do EVERYTHING! I like this better, it suits my personality just fine.

This past weekend I made it out to see all my family in Montgomery. Michelle just had Kimberly early last Monday so I was excited to be able to make it out there. However, please be in prayer for her as she's had some complications and is still in the hospital. Hopefully she'll be getting out any day now as she's made a lot of really good progress in being able to eat by herself and everything, but they're being careful not to let her go home too early if some complications could arise. It's understandable, but I know it's hard on Luke and Michelle to have not even taken their baby home yet! But I must say, she is the cutest little thing! When I saw her she even a pretty red bow in her hair (and she's got a lot of hair already!) and was looking really good. They said they'd seen a big change in her skin color and everything by that point too. Luke and I also took Kaitlyn out the park on Saturday to feed bread to the ducks, and there had been a big dog convention type event so she got to see a lot of 'puppies' which Kaitlyn just loved!

However, on the way out there on Friday I had an interesting trip. I pulled over a rest stop on the way towards Birmingham about an hour and a half from here, and I went in and did my business. On the way back to the car I thought I could really go for a green tea. However, I only had a dollar bill and they were $1.35. So I went back and unlocked my car and got in to get change and then went back to the machine and got my green tea. However, when I turned around to go back to the car I patted my pocket to then reach in to get my keys (I don't know what's up with that, but it's a habit I have. Before I take anything out of my pockets I usually pat that pocket to feel that it's in there and then grab the item). However, I didn't feel anything, so I patted it again. Then I actually reached in my pocket for it (of course there's nothing there!); and then I checked all my other pockets at least 3 or 4 times as my heart slowly drops. Sure enough, I went back to the car and there were my keys locked inside just sitting on the front seat laughing at me. So I went in and found a coat hanger and tried for 30 minutes without success to get it unlocked. Finally I decided to call my insurance company, but I didn't have their number since the information was also locked in my car in the glove box. So I started calling around to everone I could think of who would have access to the number and finally got the info. So it wasn't until over an hour later that they finally got a truck out there for me and the guy opened it up in 2 minutes flat. He didn't use the flat bar, though. He actually wedged the door open from the top of the frame and inserted a bag which he inflated with a hand pump that pushed the door out. Then he just reached in with a long hook and manually unlocked the door from the inside. So, anyways, the 3.4 hour trip turned into about a 6+ hour trip that night... But at least I got to talk to Chuck and Kenny for a while as I sat around waiting forever.

Then, last night, I stepped out my house door locking it behind me and then checked my pocket for my car keys. And it was Friday all over again. Sure enough, I'd locked myself out of my house. So I tried to break in with a credit car, and that didn't work with the doors here, so Rob was able to find the emergency maintenance number for the houses here. After calling them once and not hearing anything over an hour later I called back. They promised to contact the guy again (who should have left already an hour ago), and then he finally called me. First thing he asked me (in a voice that said "why are you bothering me with this?") was if I had a spare key or if someone there had another key I could use! I wanted to say: "oh, yeah, of course, I have another key right here but I just thought I'd wait around outside my house in the dark getting eaten alive by mosquitoes waiting for you to get here!"). So he tells me he'll be here in 45 minutes. So over 2 hours later I finally got in my house. I would have been to church and back earlier than locking myself out!! So much for 'emergency' maintenance! My house could have burned down, flooded, or blown up 5 times by the time he got here! Luckily I just hung out with Rob next door most fo the time after I figured out he wasn't showing up immediately so it's not like I was stuck right outside. But I never ever do that kind of stuff and it's happened to me now twice in less than a week! Good times...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Anniversary Sunday

We did have a great service this morning. The group Mercy's Well sang for the whole sunday school hour and then most of the morning service as well and then Pastor spoke. Then, this was great, he dismissed everyone who wasn't going to stay for the afternoon service and THEN we all (those staying for the service) went into the fellowship hall and had a big lunch together. Two of our teens preached for that following service and both did a great job. I spent most of the rest of the afternoon lazing around and playing WoW. I've really got to start getting ahead on academics this coming week. I think I've been lazy enough the past few days to get it out of my system and it's time to start hitting the proverbial grind-stone.

Chaos seems to be doing pretty well now. His paws seem to be closing up nicely enough that after 2 accidents right next to the litter box (hello, dude, I disprove of this shredded-paper business, where's my normal litter?!?) I've put back on his clumping litter. They seem to be just bothering him now as he sleeps most of the time and is real careful when walking around. He has a habit of just briskly shaking one paw and then the other but I think he's coming along pretty well. He should be getting back to almost 100% within the next week or so as long as nothing unforseen happens. For now I'm sure the little brat will just continue storing at me and whining whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Friday, October 3, 2008

T-1 Test #1 Complete; Chaos Declawed

Today was our first test in T-1 academics: Systems 01. It was a pretty easy test and like most of the rest of the class I got 100% on it. However, we were supposed to take the test at 8 this morning, and we showed up only to find that the network was down and we couldn't log in to take the test. So we ended up sitting around until 1030 while they tried to figure out what to do with us. They didn't even want to move on to the next lesson because it's on powerpoint, but that's what they ended up doing anyways. The lesson was on the T-1 electrical system and our instructor handed out a diagram at the beginning that, to me, looked like someone had spilled spaghetti and boxes onto the page. It was really cool, because our instructor just did an awesome job at explaining it. He drew the entire thing from memory onto the board one piece at a time (which we will have to be able to do as well on one of three systems for our checkride), and then explained how everything worked together and essentially the 'why' behind each part, which really made a lot of sense! I think all of us were amazed that he was actually able to make us understand it! Then, when that class was over, the network was still down so they finally went into their vault and dusted off the old paper copys of the test so we could finally take it after sitting around for 3 hours. But, at least we got it done today, none of us really wanted to sit around all weekend with the test hanging over our heads.

Then I went over to the flight room. I haven't been able to ride my motorcycle for over a week since I hadn't been able to find time with the 'safety' guy in our flight to sprinkle his holy water and pronounce me a safely 'prepared' rider. So I ended up waiting in the flight room for almost an hour while he debriefed a flight. Thankfully though I did finally got him and I'm cleared to ride again. I've missed my bike after a whole week!

Also, in the past week, I've confirmed that I'm going to room with Phil, so I've had to break down and as part of the deal get Chaos declawed. So early Wednesday morning I got up and crammed the poor cat in his box to take him to the vet. But, he wasn't allowed to eat anything for 12 hours prior to that, so the dumb thing kept waking me up all night long. Every time I'd move he'd jump up on the bed and prowl around my head and meow: 'hey, idiot, feed me! And what'd you do to my water bowl??' So anyays I dropped him off and then picked him up on Thursday afternoon after classes and all. The poor was just so upset when I got him that he couldn't stand to stay in the box for the 30 minute ride back home. He kept complaining and fidgeting so I kept trying to pet him through the holes in the box to keep him calm. Finally when we were already coming up to the gate I guess he just couldn't stand it any more and just started pawing wildly at the box and of course busted the wounds open so that he was bleeding all over the place when we finally got home and I got him out of the box. So I closed him up in my bathroom with his food, water, and litter box (now with shredded paper so the clumping litter doesn't get in his feet) and a pile of old towels. I left him in there most of the evening so he wouldn't be moving around and he did stop bleeding. When I finally let him out he went straight to his favorite happy place: diggin under the covers on my bed. He was still there when I went to bed and has spent a lot of time there the last 2 days. Poor guy, I can tell he's still hurting...But today he seems to be doing really well, and looking at his paws they look like they should heal up just fine, he just needs to take it easy for about a week or so.

We also had an Unmanned Aerial Systems brief for almost 2 hours yesterday to fill us in on what's going on with the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles like the predator, globalhawk, etc) selections. It's been 'decreed' that starting with the first class graduating in 2009 that 10% of UPT grads will go straight into UAVs. This has caused a lot of controversy because most guys would rather not go into UAVs. Also, we signed up to fly 'real' aircraft by going to UPT, not UAVs. However, on the other hand, we ARE in a war right now, and our first job is to do what the Air Force and our country need us to do! The brief was really informative, I'm glad they brought them in to fill us in on everything. At this point, I really don't think I'd PREFER UAVs or anything (the one and only base they're currently controlled from is not a great place to be. It's in the middle of nowhere Nevada about 2 hours from Vegas). But, at the same time, they are promising us that we won't be locked into UAVs forever, but that we'll do it for 3 years and then move on to a primary aircraft from there. Also, this is the wave of the future, UAVs is where the air force is really heading and it wouldn't be bad for my career to be in on the ground floor of it all. So, anyways, I'm not volunteering for them right now or anything, but at least I know a little better what to expect from the field. I think I'd still rather start out in C-17s...But I'm leaving it all in the Lord's hands and I'm going to sit back and see how the next 6 months of T-1s goes.

This Sunday is going to be pretty cool. It's the 17th anniversary of Lighthouse Baptist and they're having the trio Mercy's Well come and sing for us for the morning service. Then we'll have a big lunch in the fellowship hall followed by an afternoon service where two of the kids from the youth group will preach. Everyone in the church has been inviting people and we've even had announcements on a couple of local radio stations inviting people to come. So we should have a good number there for the service, and it should be a great Lord's day. I'm looking forward to it!