February 28, 2003

Test Checkride

Today was my first test checkride. The idea is for Jim to pretend to be the FAA examiner and run me through all the flight test maneuvers that I'll need to perfect before I fly with a real examiner. And what a flight it was. Going into the flight, I knew there were things I'd have trouble with. The main goal of the first flight is to get a feel for it and figure out what I really need to practice more.

Without running over the entire flight, I'll simply mention that I need to work on my slack line recovery and my landings. The slack line stuff wasn't bad when I practiced it a month or so ago, but the situation was quite different. This time around, I expected the slack, but I never knew how Jim would induce it. So I wasn't already mentally rehearsing the recovery procedure. I didn't know which one I'd need.

My landings aren't bad. But the practical test standards dictate a relatively strict landing requirement. I have to land and stop within a relatively small target zone--to simulate an off-field landing. That's a bit harder. I've always concerned myself with getting down on the runway and being as close to the centerline as possible. But now there's an added dimension that I hadn't practiced much. Worse yet, for the flight test, I'll almost certainly be landing on runway 24. But 90% of my landings have been on 31.

After that was over, I flew three solo flights to start working on my landings. I also took a bit of time to practice my 720 degree turns. I need the speed control to be a little tighter.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:28 PM

Blogroll update and... scripting NNW?

I finally got aruond to re-exporting my subscriptions from NNW so that opml2html.pl (slightly modified to handle NNW output) can update my blogroll.

I've dropped a bunch of feeds that I really wasn't reading anyway and added a few new ones that I am reading.

On a related note, does anyone know how to automatically export my subscriptions from NNW and scp (or ftp?) them somewhere? Can AppleScript (about which I know nothing) do this? Can I do it in Perl and not have to learn Yet Another Scripting Language?

I'd just go figure all this stuff out, but I really don't have the time right now. Other things have priority.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:16 PM

February 26, 2003

When one leaves

It's always sad when a coworker and friend leaves the company. Some do so because they've found something better or more exciting to work on. Some are frustrated and just want out. Still others are just fed up with living here and not being able to afford a house. Everyone has a different reason and they're all good.

Why do I bring this up? Today's the last day at work for a friend of mine. He's been going through some some major changes, including a recent divorce and the sale of his house. He's taught me a heck of a lot about technology and life during the past couple of years.

On the bright side, I believe he'll be happier in his new pursuits.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:35 AM

#13 on popdex

I'm not sure how long it'll last, but I'm currently #13 on popdex according to my technorati link cosmos.

BTW, technorati is way cool. I didn't think much of it for the first few weeks, but I've found that it really gives me another view into what people are saying in response to things I say.

It's also interesting to note that I've recently fallen from the technorati top 100. Oh, well.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:27 AM

Follow-up on the 10 Habits

I'm really surprised at how widespread the reaction to my Top 10 Habits of Highly Annoying Bloggers post has been.

It has been turned into a survey, translated to Spanish and Japanese and commented on elsewhere.

Many, many of folks commenting on their own blogs have even changed their blogs a bit in response to my list. Others simply added to my list in the comments or on their own sites.


Blogs rock. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 12:03 AM

February 25, 2003

Full Post RSS 2.0 Feed

Okay, I can take a hint.

I've resisted for a long time, but some of my readers want a full post feed for my blog. Fine. Here you go.

I originally resistsed because I didn't really see the point. Plus I really like using my traffic stats to figure out which of my posts are more popular than others. If most folks use the full feed, I can't do that anymore.

But my ego can take it. It's not a big deal.

Anyway, I simply followed Mark's advice when setting this up. It took all of 40 seconds plus the 20 seconds to subscribe to the feed in NetNewsWire.

So there you have it. Better late than never.


Now, about upgrading my MT 2.21 install to something a bit more recent...

Posted by jzawodn at 11:39 PM

Referer lists are back on my posts

Some of you might have read kasia's post about displaying referer links in blogs and wondered where that came from. It was me. I admit it. The "another blog" she mentions? You're reading it.

Anyway, that cause a bit of a stir. The Register picked it up and then she observed one of blogging's stranger sides: you never know what will be popular and what will not until the the inbound links start showing up.

Anyway, case closed. I've fixed my code. Lesson re-learned (again).

Posted by jzawodn at 11:21 PM

Unplanned food combination

Sometimes you just do things without thinking.

Take, for example, my dinner. I wasn't sure what I wanted tonight, so I munched a bit of trail mix (nuts, raisins, etc) before I decided. I wanted a big bowl of broccoli, a healthy dose baked beans, and a beer.

Now, several hours later, I'm beginning to question the wisdom of my ad-hoc meal planning.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:12 PM

Sterling on FAST/Overture

In his commentary on FAST/Overture and such, Sterling says:

Inktomi will probably be further relegated to Yahoo!, and slowly die. Especially since Overture has already penetrated the other major portals, such as Excite, Go!, NBCi and AskJeeves (and incidentally Yahoo!, I wonder how long that will last). By offering FAST's Internet Search, they are in a position to power a number of the major portals, without being a portal themselves (and fall into the problem that Google had with Yahoo!) This move by Overture will royally screw Inktomi, and probably not do wonders for Yahoo! either.

While I can't say much about this (being on the inside), I don't see it playing out that way for Yahoo. Not at all. Nobody knows for sure, but let's have anohter look in a year or so to see where things stand. I suspect the landscape will be quite different. Right now it's like a big game of Risk. But those games don't last forever. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 07:42 PM

Google News is not Evil

Scott asks if Google News is Evil. No, Scott it's not evil--it's real-time. It's no more evil than real-time stock quotes for investors. Yes, there's a certain edge introduced with access to an ever-changing view of the world. But the information itself is not evil. Yes, the provider may have evil intentions, but I suspect that'd become apparent before long.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:28 PM

Overture bying AllTheWeb from FAST

Wow. Competition in the search world is heating up even more.

Paid Internet search provider Overture Services Inc. (NasdaqNM:OVER - News) on Tuesday took another step to challenge its chief rival, Google (News - Websites), by agreeing to buy the Web search unit of Norway-based Fast Search and Transfer for as much as $100 million -- its second acquisition in a week.

This is going to be an interesting couple of years.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:29 PM

February 24, 2003

And the Germans too!

I guess it wasn't enough to get linked to by a Spanish site earlier today. Now I find that a German weblog mentions me in their coverage of Google + Blogger.

At least I have a chance of reading the German. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 08:44 PM

FAA Written Test Practice

I've found Kip's on-line practice test to be amazingly helpful. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the same one I used back in college when I took the FAA Private Pilot test the first time.

My written test for Private Pilot Glider is on March 7th and I still have a lot to learn and practice. Luckily, I don't have to do it all from a book.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:00 PM


We just had an hones to god thunderstorm roll thru the Bay Area about 1.5 hours ago. Very cool. I wish we had more thurnderstorms around here. Having grown up in the midwest, I really miss 'em.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:30 PM

Can't sleep

This sucks.

My body hates me.

I had planned to get up early (6am) so I could get to work early (8am) before all the distractions arrive. The prospects are looking dimmer by the minute.


Posted by jzawodn at 01:12 AM

February 23, 2003


I noticed a lot of users referred to my site from barrapunto.com recently. Apparently it's like the Spanish Slashdot.

Whoda thunk?

Anyway, they picked up my 10 habits post and a few folks have commented so far. They even translated my annoyances. But I can't read them. I took German in High School and college. A lot of good that's done me.

[Mental note: take Spanish next time. It's waaaaayyy more useful when living in California.]

Anyway, I pumped the pages thu the fish and it made some sense. Any of the linguistically inclined want to tell me what they're saying? :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 11:33 PM

Perl Hashes and stuff...

A few days ago, I noted that I was being stupid. In that post, I made a comment about using Devel::Size to figure out what Perl was doing when it kept eating up all my memory. I sort of hinted at the fact that I didn't really believe what Devel::Size was telling me.

As it happens, the author of Devel::Size, Perl Hacker Dan Sugalski read my comment and asked what my problem with Devel::Size was. After I got over my surprise, I sent him the script I was using and explained how it was eating memory in a hurry.

More specifically, I wrote a really, really simple script that read in file of queries (the ones that are typed into the search box on www.yahoo.com every day). It wasn't much more complicated than this:

while (<>)

And when it was done, it'd spit the counts and queries out so they could be processed by some other code.

The problem was that it never finished. It always ran out of memory around 10 million queries. But I needed to do roughly 40 million or so. I instrumented the code with some calls to Devel::Size to see if the hash was really as big as it seemed.

Anyway, back to Dan. He tinkered around a bit and was able to reproduce the problem. It was two-fold: (1) Devel::Size itself used up more memory than expected, and (2) Perl's just not all that efficient with hashing.

He explained his findings via e-mail and I thought to myself, "Self: you should blog this stuff." Luckily, I I was lazy. Dan has summarized much of it on his blog so that I don't have to try and parphrase him.

The moral of the story? There are several. First, blogging is good. Second, Perl's hashes are inefficient. You need A LOT of memory if you intend to hash tens of millions of keys. And finally, Dan may have been inspired to make Perl 6's hashes a little lighter.

I re-implemented my code to loop over the file 36 times. Once for each digit and letter of the alphabet (the queries were already lower-cased). It's slow and crude, but it works.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:29 PM

Solo and ASK-21 training

Solo Time

What a nice day to fly. Clear and relatively calm. Not much lift, but just a nice day. The gliderport was busy.

I had solo time booked for one of the 2-32s in the morning, so I took 87R up for three flights to between 4,000 and 3,000 feet. The longer tow and smooth air gave me time to box the wake, which worked just fine.

I didn't do much exciting other than practice some speed control in turns and look for lift (there was none yet). I was mainly interested in trying to improve my landings. I entered the pattern a bit higher than normal and did a better job that I had recently.

ASK-21 Training

Later in the day, Jim and I took the ASK-21 up to practice some maneuvers in a different glider. Our first flight was a high tow (5,000 feet) which gave me time to box the wake on tow and re-acquaint myself with flying a more responsive glider.

Off tow, we ran thru a bunch of maneuvers to get used to flying the 21: slow flight, imminent stalls (forward and turning), stalls, steep turns, spiral dive recovery, full-stick-back turns, and incipient spins. It was a whirlwind tour of flying the 21 but it came pretty easily and I enjoyed it. We landed on on runway 24 without much trouble. The spoilers threw me a bit. They don't slow the glider like those on the 2-32.

The next two flights were lower. We worked on a few more things, mainly slips. Then I got to put them to use, landing without spoilers on runway 31 and 24. The ASK-21 can slip a lot harder than the 2-32, so it wasn't too bad.

Jim said that I did well enough on the flights that he'd be able to solo me in the 21 with just a few more short flights to make sure I can takeoff and land without incident.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:18 PM

February 22, 2003

Missing the boat again?

So I just read about AOL and Microsoft teaming up against SPAM in the Washington Post. And I have to wonder where we are on the matter at work.

There's a lot of talk about anti-spam stuff. And we have assloads of anti-spam tech and the hardware to make it all work. But I don't have a clue what our official position on legally prevening, punishing, and otherwise banishing those who spam really is.

And that bothers me a bit.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:48 AM

The Real Message?

When I look at an advertisement, I try to find the real message it holds.

Take, for example, this page. I guess that hot women use the phone, so it must be good. And, wow, they sure are having fun!

For some reason, that image just seemed rather out of place on a page about a cell phone and its specs. Maybe we're supposed to focus on her specs instead?

I dunno... You be the judge.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:37 AM

Old School

I just got back from seeing Old School.

Damn, that was one funny movie. Much better than I expected. The critics may not like it and the plot is pretty thin, but I don't care. I laughed my ass off.

If you're into that genre, go see it.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:50 AM

February 21, 2003

AOL "security"

As reported in Wired:

Using a combination of trade tricks and clever programming, hackers have thoroughly compromised security at America Online, potentially exposing the personal information of AOL's 35 million users.

Yet another reason to love AOL!

Posted by jzawodn at 04:34 PM

The 10 Habits of Highly Annoying Bloggers

For a long time I've known that some things have bugged me about certain blogs and/or bloggers. This is my attempt to collect them in a top-10 list. I was going to write a paragraph for each one, but I think most of the annoyances are obvious. Plus I really don't have the time right now.

(And, no, I'm not naming names here. And, yes, I know that I'm guilty of some of these from time to time.)

  1. Bloggers who don't enable comments on their blogs.
  2. Bloggers who rarely produce original content, instead simply aggregating links to other blogs that I already read.
  3. Bloggers who spend more time blogging about blogging than anything else.
  4. Bloggers who are FontBitches and don't care.
  5. Bloggers who don't provide any "about me" info on their blog, or pointers to it elsewhere on their site. I like to know more about the people I'm reading.
  6. Bloggers who don't provide a blogroll.
  7. Bloggers who post excuses for not posting. I don't care if you're busy today. If you're not posting, fine. I'll just assume you had other things to do.
  8. Bloggers who react but rarely act. Commenting on what other people say or do is interesting, but I'm annoyed by folks who never seem to have original material. (Yes, this is like #2 but it's not quite the same.)
  9. Bloggers who don't provide obvious RSS links for their blog. Yes, I know that RSS auto-discovery is great, but not all tools do it.
  10. Bloggers who have TrackBack but don't use it.

Feel free to add your own in the comments. And, of course, tell me what annoys you about my blogging. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 12:46 PM

February 20, 2003

Lindows sub-notebook


I'm very impressed. The just-announced Lindows sub-notebook looks quite impressive and the price is right.

I smell a review coming for Linux Magazine...

Posted by jzawodn at 09:38 PM

SpamAssassin 2.50 is out!

Yeay! Lots of cool updates, bug fixes, and other goodies to help keep the spam out of my mailbox. Excellent!

Real all about it

Hats off to the SA developers.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:35 PM

Binary Search

Programmers can be so damned stupid sometimes.

Take me for example.

I've been working to optimize and adjust some code at work. I can't tell you what it does but I can tell you that it's too slow and uses too much memory. It's Perl. I know Perl. I'd like to think I'd know it pretty well, having used it for around nine years now.

In tracking down this memory problem, I've learned a lot about what a memory pig Perl can be. But that's a topic for another blog entry. The reall issue is how I've been tracking the problem. I'd get a hunch that the %foo hash was way too big and causing the process to die. So I'd convert it to a tied hash backed by Berkeley DB. And I'd run it again. It would again die.

Of course, this never happens in my small and quick to test data. It only happens with the full load (between 6 and 17 million, uhm, phrases). And it takes anywhere from 35 to 60 minutes for it to die. So you can guess how productive this makes me with an average 45 minute test cycle.


I've finally decided to just resort to a classic debugging technique: the binary search. Well, with a twist. Thanks to Ray, I'm using Devel::Size to periodically dump the memory use (or some approximation of it--that's another story) out to a log.

Why I didn't start this a few days ago is beyond me.

No, wait. It's not. It's because every time I tried something new, followed a new hunch, I was convinced that it was the solution.


Someone slap me next time I do this.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:29 PM

Almost thermaling

I headed down to Hollister expecting better weather and got it. It was warmer and clearer. There were some clouds out and they helped me find lift and sink a bit easier than anytime before. It took four tows to between 3,800 and 2,800 feet to look for lift and practice my slow flight. The lift didn't exist above 2,100 feet and it was quite spotty. It was just too early in the day. I did manage to find a bit near the junk yard, but it was hard to stay in. And it was only 200 fpm.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:06 PM

February 19, 2003

I should have stayed home today...

Or at least for a while.

My body woke up without a clock at 7:45am. That's odd, since I was up until about 2:00am, but you never know. However, after I arrived at work (around 10am) it became abundantly clear that I really was not awake.

It wasn't until I had lunch and wasted a lot of time looking right past bugs in my code that I finally "woke up" around 3pm and became a useful person again.


I wish my body would just sleep until it had enough sleep insetad of tricking me like this. How evil.

And don't even get me started on what a waste last night was.


And now there's some sorta problem with the Google API and MT. I can't get this entry to post.


This is not my day. Not at all.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:57 PM

Note to joshw

If your blog requires registration to comment, most people will not.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:18 AM

February 18, 2003

Overture buying Altavista

A co-worker just pointed it out. I'm not sure why, but I'm amused.

I guess it's just more of the same--consolidation in the search and paid listings businesses.

Anyone wanna guess who's gonna be next?

Posted by jzawodn at 10:26 PM

In the Zone

Wow. For the past 10 hours I've been in the zone. I managed to get caught up on a ton of stuff that I've been meaning to get around to. It feels great!

Of course, I still have lots more to do, but this feels like the first real progress I've made in about three weeks. I hope I can squeeze a few more hours out before I go to bed.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:12 AM

February 16, 2003

Simple Reasoning on Google/Blogger

Kevin Lynch has managed to say in one paragraph what I've struggled to explain to people:

The two main ways I find information on the internet today is by searching and reading blogs--blogs are another view into the world's information and we're just starting to understand how we can best visualize the connections across blogs and track relevant information as it's happening, whether it's through DayPop, Technorati, blogdex, or maybe something along the lines of power curves. Blogs provide the serendipity that is largely missing from search, while also providing the consistency of a single, current stream of thinking from a variety of points of view.

He's not alone. A growing number of folks operate that way.

Read the rest of his post, too. It's good stuff.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:33 PM

iDVD Nightmare

It seems that jwz is having a hell of a time with iDVD. Then again, he manages to break nearly every piece of computer technology he touches.

Well, he doesn't actually break it. He merely points out the built-in brokeness that the rest of us have been [wrongfully] conditioned to just deal with.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:18 AM

February 15, 2003

Google buys Blogger maker Pyra

Via Dan Gillmor:

Google, which runs the Web's premier search site, has purchased Pyra Labs, a San Francisco company that created some of the earliest technology for writing weblogs, the increasingly popular personal and opinion journals.

And, later on:

Developers of blogging software have been finding user-friendly ways to help readers of weblogs and other information find and collect material from a variety of sites. It's in this arena that the Google-Pyra deal may have the most implications. More than most Web companies, Google has grasped the distributed nature of the online world, and has seen that the real power of cyberspace is in what we create collectively. We are beginning to see that power brought to bear.

Cool. Go Google!

Posted by jzawodn at 09:33 PM

OS X Screen Capture: SnapzProX

I went looking for a good Mac OS X screen/window capture utility and came across SnapzProX. Very cool stuff. Highly recommended if you don't mind spending the cash.

There are some cool tips on their web site that link to the on-line discussion forums. Excellent. If I was bored, I'd try capturing images from DVD.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:16 PM

No divebrake landings...

Today was all about practicing no divebrake landings in the 2-32. We took 64E up four times (all closed traffic) and I got to practice leaving the brakes closed three times for runway 31 and once on 24.

After a couple tries, I got pretty good using both turning and forward slips when necessary to get rid of altitude. I also got a lot better at making the minor bank adjustments necessary to stay lined up with the runway while still flying with a full forward slip.

Fun stuff.

After that I took two solo flights. The clouds were really low, but there were some holes. So I towed to 2,800 feet to practice turns and avoid clouds a bit before making my landings on runway 31.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:58 PM

Not Scripting News

When's the last time that the content on Scripting News had anything to do wtih scripting?

Yeah, once in a while you'll read about XML-RPC or something related, but that's maybe 10% of the time. Is it a case of misleading branding? If Dave renamed it "Dave's weblog" wouldn't anyone care?

I don't know why I just thought of it. I was scanning headines in NetNewsWire and thouht to myself "What does any of that have to do with scripting." And through the magic of MovableType, you now get to wonder about it too. :-)

Anyway, I'm not saying that Dave should change the name, I'm just remarking on how it's misleading if you bother to think about it.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:23 PM


Holy crap!

I had a cup of Coffee this morning because I got up rather early but was feeling especially sluggish. It's my first cup of the year. It really did the trick.

I really understand how some folks quickly grow dependant upon it for their "morning jolt." I'm just glad I won't be one of them. (I drink maybe 6 cups per year.)

Posted by jzawodn at 07:12 AM

February 13, 2003

Is the Sun setting?

Cringely says:

Cheap Intel and AMD hardware running Linux is going to kill Sun unless the company does something so stop it, which they aren't.

Funny. I've been saying that for a few years now. I don't know how blind Sun can be, but they're really bad about seeing the writing on the wall. It's in neon 10-foot tall letters for god's sake!

I'm beginning to think that the LX50 I reviewed last year was less a sign of Sun finally getting it and more a last ditch attempt by the remaining Cobalt folks to keep Sun relevant.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:45 PM

Crosswinds, rope breaks, and more fun

I headed to Hollister late in the day after confirming that the weather down there was flyable. I had to check because it was pretty crappy in the Bay Area.

I arrived a bit early, thanks to me over-estimating how bad the traffic would be. So I poked around a bit while Jim finished up with the student that he was with. I took a few minutes to check glider six four echo. Someone else had already done the pre-flight checks, but I'd rather check it myself.

The clouds were low, so we decided to work on low stuff. I didn't care what we did, I was just happy there was a crosswind. It was coming right run runway 24, so we planned to fly off 31 a few times so I could finally get some decent crosswind training.

Flight #1

For the first flight, we headed to 2,700 feet and dodged a few coulds while looking for lift. There wasn't much out there, so I got to practice a few slips before getting into the pattern. I was entering from left 45 rather than the normal crosswind entry, so we had a bit of altitude to burn.

The downwind leg was interesting. I had to crab into the crosswind a fair amount. It's odd to be flying "sideways" like that. The turn from downwind to base became a downwind to final. The tailwind on base had me flying a bit faster than I expected so there wasn't any base leg to speak of. Once on final, I eased into the side slip and opened the spoilers. We touched down just a bit left of center on runway 31.

Flight #2

For the second flight, we decided to tow downwind in the pattern and fly another crosswind landing. The crab was a bit less than before, but I really didn't notice until later. The base leg actually existed this time. On final I didn't need to slip as much as before. That told me that the wind had died down a bit. The crab should have given that away on downwind but I just didn't think about it.

The landing was good. Amusingly, I noticed that the runway lights were on. That's the first time I landed a glider on a lit runway.

Flight #3

This time, we planned to take off on runway 31, fly to 1,500 feet and enter the patten for runway 24 (the active runway). Rather than a normal landing, we were to simulate an off-field (short) landing over an obstacle. I kept off the spoilers on final until we got over the power lines and then pulled them out nearly the whole way. We fell like a rock and touched down just past the numbers. I pulled the wheel brake and got us stoped in a couple hundred feet.

The landing wasn't bad. The only odd thing about it was seeing the ground come up at me that fast. But at least we didn't bounce. :-)

Flight #4

For this flight, we took off on runway 24. Then, 300 feet over the ground, Jim pulled the release to simulate a rope break. I made a 45 degree banked 180 degree right turn back onto runwawy 06 for landing. It took a bit of adjusting to get over the runway. We drifted down the runway a bit, I pulled the spoilers, and landed.

No problem.

Flight #5

This time, Jim told me he was going to pull the release again. He told me because he wanted me to come back and make a low approach to runway 24 even though I'd want to land back on 06.

We took off on 24 and roughly 500 feet above the ground, he pulled the release. I turned around and entered a right downwind for runway 24 and made my radio call. Then, just before we reached the half-way point downt he runway, Jim pulled the spoilers and said "You're in sink now." I looked around and said, "okay, but I'm going to fly down the runway a bit longer before I make a 180 to land on 24." When I began my turn, he gave the spoilers back to me. I closed them for the duration of the turn and then put the nose down quite a bit more and pulled them back out to drop enough altitude to land. We landed long on runway 24.

That was a fun flight. I really didn't know what I'd do in advance, so I just had to decide how to fly as the situation developed.

Flight #6

After all those rope breaks, we flew one last flight with a couple other twists. Rather than drag the glider back to the other end of the runway, we flew a downwind takeoff on runway 06, went to 1,300 feet and came back for a no spoiler landing on runway 31.


Whew. Despite the weather, I had some interested flying. Most of it was in preparation for emergency situations. I feel a lot better about low altitude approaches and landing in very short distances.

On Saturday, we'll take the ASK-21 up in the mornining for a few flights. Then I'll do some more solo work in one of the 2-32s. Oh, that reminds me. I also got a 14-day solo sign-off.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:03 PM

Handheld GPS: Garmin GPSMAP 76S

To go with the radio I'm planning to get, I've been looking at handheld GPS units that I can use while flying. From reading the rec.aviation.soaring newsgroup, there seem to be tool schools of thought on this. Some folks get a low-end GPS and hook up a Palm or PocketPC device with a data cable. The GPS figures out where you're at while the handheld computer handles all the hard stuff (computing glide slopes, locating airports, recording the flight path). The other option is to get a slightly better GPS that can perform some of those operations. In doing so, you have one fewer device (and cable) to mess with in the cockpit.

I've decided to go with the GPSMAP 76S. A lot of folks have been comparing it to the Vista and other units. The 76S is impressive and the folks at Garmin are adding more soaring related features. With the latest firmware, they've added glide calculations, for example.

The other nice thing about having a handheld GPS is that I can use it when driving around too. I doubt I'll need to do that very often, but ya never know.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:39 PM

Handheld Radio: IC-A23

I've spent a fair amount of time looking for a handheld radio to use when flying. It'll serve mainly as a backup to the glider's radio (the battery may die) but it'll also be handy on the ground and if I rent a glider that doesn't have one.

I could get a relatively cheap and featureless radio, but I'm also thinking that I might someday go for power training and beyond. So after lots of reading and some asking and some testing, I've settled on the ICOM IC-A23. It's a bit more than I was planning to spend but it has a great combination of features, a good size, and a lot of folks seem to really like it.

So far, the best price I've found is on Wings and Wheels. I tried Y! Shopping, but the best I found was on Handhelds etc. and they want about $30 more.

And, of course, I do like toys. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 09:24 PM

Not Cyber

Why is the media still using "cyber" in front of things? I heard a snipit on TV about a story on the news about police using "cyber technology" to track down crime.

What the heck is "cyber technology"? They showed a picture of an IBM Thinkpad with some web site on it? That is cyber technology?


What is not cyber technology?

There. Enough of my bitching for a little while.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:05 PM

February 12, 2003

My input to output ratio

So here's something I've been wondering about.

I go through cycles of productivity like most hackers do. Some days I get a lot done while others are mostly wasted. Some of my productive days involve a lot of output like e-mail, code, discussion, debugging, and so on. Other times it's a lof of input: reading, listening, etc. Once in while I manage to have a day in which the two seem to balance out and I go home feeling like I've accomplished three weeks wort of work.

Is it just me? Or does this happen to other people too? Is that balance a necessary part of being productive?

Posted by jzawodn at 09:36 PM

February 11, 2003

Geek Valentine Candy

Heh. I love it.

Thanks to the ACME Heartmaker you can put any (short) message you want on a candy heart. And if you're really bored, you can string a whole bunch of them together to make a long message like this.

Thanks to Geodog for the pointer.

I'm sure that some of you will come up with much more amusing stuff than I.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:34 PM

A boyfriend recommendation site?

Geodog points to an on-line service where women can rate and recommend guys they know. It's called greatboyfriends.com.

Heh. There's even an "I'm a Guy" button for people like me to click. It leads to a form that asks for the e-mail addresses of my female friends so I can e-mail them to solicit a recommendation.

I think I'll pass. But I'm still rather amused.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:28 PM


This is too cool. A DBD::google module on CPAN:

DBD::google allows you to use Google as a datasource; google can be queried using SQL SELECT statements, and iterated over using standard DBI conventions.

I've been wanting an SQL interface to Google for so long. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 08:45 PM

Innovation Contest

One of my co-workers, JR, remarks on an innovation contest at work. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who wasn't sure what to make of the announcement.

The initial announcement sounded a bit fishy for several reasons. I wish I could post it here to see how others interpret it. Anyway, it contained just about all the information you'd expect: the goal, rules, timeline, and so on. But it left out one key piece of information. If I come up with Yahoo's next great idea, I'll win the prize (a strero). But will I get what really matters: the time and authority to work on taking that idea and turning it into reality?

The contest announcement never said. It didn't mention the fate of the winning idea.

So I e-mailed the vice president who announced the contest and asked: "Does the winner get any assurance that they'll be given the necessary time and resources to help build and deliver on their innovative idea?"

I got a response. He started off, predictibly, with "that's a great question" and then went on to not answer it. Yes, he said stuff, but he didn't say "yes" or "no." It was a yes or no question.


What's worse is that this contest does little to address the real problems that I wrote about earlier.

I worry that the self-appointed judges of this contest wouldn't know innovation if it bit them on the ass. They're doing nothing to address the real barriers to innovation in our workplace.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:04 PM

February 09, 2003

Now *that's* a Joy Stick!

Blame Kasia. She gave me the link.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:51 PM

Browser or Aggregator? Some numbers.

I got to wondering about browsers vs. aggregators coming to my blog. I'm going to assume that anyone who hits http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/ is a browser and anyone who hits http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/index.rdf is an aggregator. It's simple and I have the data for a more detailed analysis, but that's not the point.

So, in the last 24 hours, /blog/ has had 1,012 hits while /blog/index.rdf has had 3,170. I know from past checks that I have roughly 240 unique visitors to /blog/index.rdf each day, so that number makes sense. But the surprisingly high number of visitors to my blog home page (as opposed to individual posts, which is what most aggregator users seem to hit) makes me wonder.

I just always figured that most folks used aggregators. But apparently most folks who read my blog use their browser. I suspect that the folks who read lots of blgos (20 or more?) are all using aggregators whilte the others just have a link to me on their personal "start page" so they hit it a few times each day.

Someday I'll break the numbers down with some heuristics to try and get a clearer picture.

What I'm really wondering is this: Is my blog unusual in this repsect? Or to most folks see this? I've not seen it discussed much, so it's hard to really know.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:43 PM

Flying pictures posted

So I finally got around to actually using my camera at the airport and in the air. The pictures are on-line here. And you can read the brief entry about today's flight in my flying blog.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:15 PM

Some solo, some not

I headed down to Hollister today to fly solo. I managed to get three flights up. It was quite busy and there was a tow plane out of service. We had a replacement tow plane (don't remember the model) but it was slow and under-powered.

Anyway, I got up once solo in 64E. Flew to 5,000 feet and took some pictures. That's right, I finally managed to bring my camera up with me. Practiced some turns and looked for lift. I didn't find much.

Russell sat in the back seat on my second flight (roughly 3,200 feet). Drew wanted to make sure I had an instructor for my first tow with an under-powered tow plane. I did just fine. Russell said I looked relaxed and that I had no problem with the tow. We took some pictures on that flight too.

Then I took a long break to study my FAA test prep book while waiting for the lines to go down a bit and for a 2-32 to free up. Around 3:15pm a 2-32 landed and I went to claim it. I got up in the air after 4:00pm, to 4,000 feet. It was my first time flying that close to sunset. Things looked quite different. Lots of shadows that I'm not used to seeing.

I'd write more, but I have lots to catch up on.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:09 PM

Fight the Power

On the topic of Clay's Power Laws essay, Burningbird responds:

I started out linking primarily to the more well known webloggers. However, over time, I found other weblogs and webloggers who I tended to read more and more, and appreciate more than the so-called elite webloggers. Most of these people I met in my comments, and in comments on other weblogs. As I added more of these people to my blogroll, and linked to them in my postings, I tended to link to the elite bloggers less and less because I found that I just didn't read them as much. In other words, as my experience level increased in weblogging, my reliance on linking to a set group of elite bloggers decreased.

All I can say is, "Me Too!"

Posted by jzawodn at 06:49 PM

February 08, 2003

Gallagher is coming to town

After far too long, I get to see Gallagher live tomorrow at 7pm. He's coming to the Marin Center. Now I just need to figure out where, exactly, that is so I can find it tomorrow night. (I bought a ticket on-line a few night ago without bothering to check where, exactly, it was. I knew it was in Marin county somewhere, so how bad could it be?)

Ah! They have directions on their site. Excellent.

Hm. It's in San Rafael. That's gonna be a bit of a trek. Oh, well. I'm sure it'll be worth it.

If only I could see George Carlin tour again. He's also excellent live.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:35 PM

More Couch Humor

I stumbed across two more funny pieces at The Avocado Couch. The first one, A note to the obnoxiously self-absorbed is one of the best rants I've read in a long, long time. It goes all out. The second one, Step one: admitting you have a problem is an amusing confession of addiction--to sexy pants. I love it. :-)

Read and enjoy. Better yet, add it to your aggregator.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:25 PM

Dr. Soy sells on-line

I'm a big fan of Dr. Soy bars--especially the Chocolate/Peanut variety. I was eating one this afternoon and got to wondering if they were a public company. Maybe I'd like to buy some stock.

I see on the wrapper that their web site, easily enough, is www.drsoy.com so I head over. It turns out that they are not public. But, I'm thrilled to see that they sell directo to consumers via their web site and it ends up costing less than my local grocery store charges.


I ordered two boxes on the spot.

I suspect that few other "healthy" snack food makers do this. Hm. Actually, it seems that you can get Clif and Luna bars on-line too. Excellent.

I don't eat Clif bars often, but if I did, I'd probably buy somet too. Even if it wasn't any cheaper, it helps to encourage companies like this to sell on-line.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:30 PM

February 07, 2003

SMART Disk Monitoring in Debian Linux

As noted in Disk Goes Boom, one of my colocated machines had a nasty disk failure. The disks arrived today. I hope to figure out how bad the damage is, replace the bad disk, and ship them back to get installed.

In the meantime, I've done something that I should have done a year ago. I installed the smartsuite package on my two remaining machines. It comes wtih a command-line tool named smartctl that provides various options for poking and prodding at your SMART aware disks. (You can read more about S.M.A.R.T. technology here.) It also comes with a daemon that keeps an eye on the health of your disks and puts messages in syslog to let you know what's up with them.

Now all I need to do is figure out which messages to watch for in syslog. Once I do, I'll setup a cron job to alert me if any problems show up.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:38 PM

February 06, 2003

Oops. I broke it.

I headed down to Hollister this morning not knowing what I'd do with Jim. Now out of the hospital and flying again, I wasn't sure if he'd want to get me in a 2-32 to practice some more stuff or if we'd fly the ASK-21. He mentioned doing both in the last few weeks.

Flight #1: Break a rope

He suggested we take up glider 64E (one of the 2-32s) to work on more advanced tow tasks. On the first flight, I boxed the wake once we got above 2,000 feet and did a damned fine job of it. :-)

After that, we spent the rest of the flight working with slack line recovery. There are a variety of ways you can end up with slack in the tow rope but they all boil down to two causes: either pilot error or turbulence. Since it was a calm day and we were training, Jim would force slack in various ways so I could practice recovery. It went pretty well. We did slack in steering turns with standard recovery. Then we tried recovery using the air brakes a few times. On the last attempt, I got behind the towplane with little too much slack in the line and broke it (the rope).

Amusingly, Jim wasn't expecting to break but I was. I remembered how nasty the rope looked when we inspected it earlier. So when I saw the slack coming out, I thought to myself "uh oh..." and looked at the altimeter. We were at 4,800 feet, so all I did was turn from the towplane and fly the glider. Heh. There's a first time for everything, and with slack line training this can happen.

After our "release" we worked on speed changes. Starting with 50mph, I'd increase the glider's speed in 5mph increments until 90mph, testing the controls at each stop to get a feel for how the response changes.

With that out of the way, Jim had me cover the altimeter and airspeed indicator for the remainder of the flight (to simulate a failure of the instruments). He then demonstrated benign sprial mode, a technique used to get the glider down without traveling very far or going very fast. It's not something you do very often, but it's a good maneuver to know if you ever get trapped above the clouds and would like to get below them with the least chance of hitting something and killing yourself.

We lost a fair amount of alitutde flying fast during the speed changes and then in the spiral, so I headed toward the airport to land without any instruments. I flew the pattern a bit fast (or so I'm told) but otherwise the landing was decent.

Flight #2: Unusual Attitudes

We launched for our second flight off runway 31 and began to practice "unusual attitudes" on tow. That meant three different situations I had to recover from after Jim purposely did bad things to the glider. First, he'd put the glider in a steep bank away from the towplane and give me the controls. I'd correct it by unbanking and rolling back the other way for a bit. Once level, I'd let slack out of the rope and drift back behind the towplane. The next situation was a climb. Jim would put the nose up and then give me the controls. I'd put the nose forward to dive and then level us, work out the slack, and get back in position. The final situation was a dive. He'd put the nose down for a few seconds before giving me the glider. I'd pull up to level, work out the slack, and get back in position.

Having managed not to break the rope, we released at 5,000 feet. We praticed some 720 degree turns and then worked on benign spiral mode again. This time Jim put the nose pretty high before we entered. In benign spiral mode, I open the airbrakes all the way and let go of all the other controls. It's basically a hands-off maneuver except for the brake control. I had to use every ounce of self-control to keep myself from touching the controls when Jim put the nose high in a turn and told me to pull the brakes and let go of the controls. I really, really wanted to fix the situation but didn't. I had to just trust that the glider would do the right thing. It did.

We played around a bit more and I headed back to the airport. This time, when I opened the airbrakes on my crosswind leg to test them, Jim held them open and announced "your brakes are stuck open... what are you going to do?" Well, in the 2-32, you fall like a rock when the brakes are open like that. So I decided to land on runway 13 (a downwind landing on 31 is another way to look at it). After 10 seconds I told him that I wasn't sure if we'd make it and I wasn't sure where to aim. I'm really not used to flying with the brakes open and the nose that far down. He suggested that I just get to the runway and then turn parallel to it. I did that. When we got close, he put the brakes back in a bit so that we'd have enough altitude to safely turn and land.

Back on the ground, we discussed airbrake failures and full-brake landings a bit. Then he asked I wanted to go back up solo, and I said yes (of course).

Flights #3 and #4: Slow speed turns and the pesky ultralight

I flew two solo flights to 5,000 feet. During both of them I spent most of my time flying between 50 and 60mph so that I could get better and keeping a constant speed in slow turns. It's harder than it seems at first. I kept over-controlling and had to stop trying to hard.

As it was appraching (or past) noon, the air started to get bumpy around 2,200 feet. The thermals were starting to warm up. I attempted to find lift and caught a few 100fpm pockets but quickly lost them.

While I was up on flight #3, I heard a lot of radio talk. It was a clear day so I was picking up calls from at least four different airports. Most of the Hollister calls were coming from an ultralight that was flying left closed traffic off runway 31 over and over and over. He flew pretty slow but his patterns were also quite short. It seemed like he was back on the ranway every 4-5 minutes. I was wondering if he was ever going to stop. When I entered the pattern and called my position on crosswind, he asked if he had enough time to land. That cracked me up, since he was on downwind and almost ready to turn base. I told him that he had several minutes so it was no problem.

My first landing was pretty good except for the bounce. But at least I bounced on the centerline. :-)

My second landing was more interesting. What I didn't know is that while I was up on flight #4, the winds were increasing. It was no longer calm at the surface. There was a 5-10mph head/crosswind on runway 31. But I didn't look closely enough at the windsock to notice that. So I was surprised when I found myself low over the runway. I had thought I'd hit my aim point perfectly. Instead I found myself low and slowing down. I put the brakes in and the nose down to gain some airspeed. It helped but not much. At that point I figured there must be wind but wasn't sure. When I was 2-3 feet above the runway and perfectly on centerline, I found myself blowing to the left. Ugh. Rather than try to correct that low, I let the glider down a bit early and just coasted a bit longer on the ground. When I did get a chance to look at the windsock again, it explained everything.

Next up

Jim gave me a 10-day solo signoff, so I'll probably fly a 2-32 for a few hours this weekend. Then he and I will meet again next Thursday, but later in the day. We're hoping to find some crosswind for me to practice in. I need crosswind practice.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:04 PM

February 04, 2003

Po Bronson should be pissed at me.


If you perform a google search for "What Should I do with My Life" (the title of his book), you'll find that the official web site for his book is in third position. His article in FastCompany is first and one of my blog entries is second.


This cracks me up.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:22 PM

I need OSCON talk ideas...

As Jim notes, it's almost time to get submissions in for this year's OSCON.

What should I submit this year?

I've got a selection of stuff on my MySQL Stuff page. I could update/recycle some of that. But it'd be fun to do something new, too. Any ideas?

Posted by jzawodn at 08:15 PM

February 03, 2003

A SPAM DoS Attack and Corporate Responsibility

Craig points to a K5 article about SPAM DoS Attacks, or what happens if a spammer forges your address on thousands or millions of mail messages.

The result is that you'll get a ton of bounces, complaints, and a gernal flood of e-mail traffic. It's a flood you may not be able or willing to deal with.

I find this rather timely. Just last week, several of us were having a discussion at work about the SPAM problem. One of the ideas tossed about was to implement a system that would make it easy for any MTA (Mail Transfer Agent--the programs that deliver e-mail on the Internet) to verify that a message that claims to be from somebody@yahoo.com really is from a yahoo.com user.

This is technically doable. And it might be a good idea. Especially, as I argued, if one of the other big players (AOL or MSN/Hotmail) jumps on board and uses the same technique. If either one began to do the same, I expect that a domino effect would follow. Boom. Instant adoption.

That'd go a long way toward ending the perception that Yahoo Mail accounts generate lots of SPAM. (Yes, they'd still attract SPAM, but that's a different problem.) However, one interesting objection was raised during the debate...

Wouldn't that just cause spammers to prey on domains that are less equipped to "swallow a few million bounces per hour without breaking a sweat"? (To paraphrase a co-worker.)

Maybe it would. But maybe that would simply be necessary (in the very short term) while other ISPs and companies worked to adopt the same techniques that we'd use? (They're not difficult at all.) Or maybe when Yahoo was no longer "shielding" the small guys, users would truly be outraged by the sheer size of the SPAM problem and finally motivate the govenment to do something about it?

You can argue either way, but the core issue seems to be one of corporate responsibility vs. technological evolution.

What's Yahoo's responsibility? Or MSN/Hotmail's? Or AOL's?

What would you do? What do you think?

Posted by jzawodn at 08:45 PM

Porno and Stalking

A google search on my previous entry led me to an entry on The Avocado Couch that made me laugh.

The Internet was made for two purposes: porno and stalking; and blogging was made for one purpose: unlimited, uncensored bitching and moaning, 24-7. Not your business? I'll make it your business. Just one right click, one Control-V, and I have pasted my catharsis into a Moveable Type entry and shared it with the universe.

Funny stuff. And rather accurate in many ways (if you read the whole thing).

Posted by jzawodn at 08:26 PM

Joel and MySQL

Excellent. Joel's software now works with MySQL in addition to SQL Server. Why he linked to his own content only and not the MySQL home page is beyond me.

Anyway, it's good to see more software adding MySQL support on the back end. There's a lot of interest in moving from Oracle or SQL Server to MySQL to save money. It comes up all the time.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:13 PM

htm vs. html

I know it doesn't matter, but I still cringe every time I see a .htm extension on a public web site. I still remember the first time I saw a .htm file. I had been working with web content on Unix machines for a while and had always used .html. It never occurred to me that anyone would need to bastardize it. But then came Windows 95.

Ever since then, I haven't been able to get rid of that feeling. I instinctively lose respect for folks who publish .htm files. (Yes, you'll find a few on my site, but they are just that: few.)

Anyway, I don't know what I thought to blog this, but I have. So there.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:09 PM

A Case of the Mondays

I just have to provide a link to Russell today. His blog quotes one of my favorite movies.

If you don't know the movie, I'm not telling. Everone needs to see this one.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:48 PM

February 02, 2003

My only regret today...

It was during that time that I realized my only regret of the day: I didn't bring my camera up. I was really kicking myself inside.

Read all about it in my flying blog.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:11 PM

Wanna try a loop?

Last night, Russell sent out a wave alert for today (Sunday). Since I had two hours scheudled to fly in the ASK-21, I was excited. Rather than concentrating on the lessons that Jim had planned, I hoped that Drew and I (I was to fly with Drew, since Jim is in the hostpital) could play in the wave instead. Russell's forecast also said that it'd be very, very dry. That meant zero clouds and great visibility.

I headed down this morning and found that it was, indeed, very clear. The surprising thing was how calm the winds the surface were. When I arrived, Drew and I chatted a bit. He called to get the winds aloft and told me that I wouldn't be able to solo today because it was blowing pretty hard. I explained that I hadn't planned to anyway, and all was good. We planned to take the ASK-21 up and see what we could find. If we got some wave, we might try some basic aerobatic stuff (his idea--he loves acro flights).

I went through the pre-flight on the 21 while Drew got some other stuff in order. This was to be my third flight in an ASK-21. My first one was about 12 years ago. My very first "discovery flight" at Hollister was also in the ASK-21, but I switched to the SGS 2-32 for the remainder of my flights because it was easier to handle. Anyway, there was a lot of water on the glider so it took me a while to dry the wings and the canopy off.

Once I was done, Drew came over to double-check the glider and help me pull it out to the runway. Before we did that, he asked me to get the parachutes in case we wanted to have some fun up there. We then pulled the glider out to the runway and I got in to familiarize myself with the controls.

Flight #1: Searching in the Hills

Before long, we were being pulled down runway 24 and in the air. The takeoff was easy and quite smooth. I then worked on getting used to flying the 21 on tow. It's different enough from the 2-32 that it took some time for me to get comfortable with it. Unlike the 2-32, the 21 doesn't let me be as sloppy with the controls. In the 2-32, the first 1/3 to 1/2 inch of control movement really doesn't do much. The stick always feels a little bit loose. There's wiggle room. Not so in the 21. The stick feels more tightly coupled to the ailerons and elevator. I knew this going into the flight (I could tell during the pre-flight), so I kept an eye on myself to make sure I wasn't over-controlling the glider.

After a few thousand feet, I was relatively comfortable with the 21. We were flying north/northeast over the hills hoping to find the elusive wave. I had never flown that far into the hills before. I got a much better feel for the area. And since it was completely clear out (we had over 40 miles visibility in all directions), the scenery was great. We saw the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east, San Jose to the north, Monterey Bay to the west, and so on. It was a very beautiful day.

Eventually we made it to about 6,500 feet and still hadn't found any significant lift. Drew suggested we release and fly around over the hills to see what we could find. So we did. We spent quite a while hunting around over the hills and never found much more than 1 knot of lift. Eventually we sorta gave up and headed farther downwind. The wind was blowing at altitude, just as predicted, but it just wasn't setting up any wave for us. So I got to practice flying over the hills, all the while getting lower and lower. It was pretty fun to be flying around just a few hundred feet above the hills. It really gave me a sense of just how fast we were going.

After a few minutes, we gave up and headed back to the airport. We only had about 3,000 feet of altitude left and were downwind, so we'd need to use up quite a bit of it to get back with the strong headwind blowing at us. We got back to the pattern entry point at roughly 2,000 feet and found a little bit of lift along the way. Not much, but enough to tease us and think that there might be more. So we pressed on for a bit to see what we could do. Unfortunately, there wasn't much and we were low. So we entered the pattern for runway 24 and landed.

Flight #2: Watsonville

While waiting for a towplane, we chatted about what to try next and where the wave was. Russell had arrived and explained that the wind was more North than Northeast so the wave just might not be working. We decided to try the other hills--the ones out by Monterey Bay, Watsonville, and Santa Cruz in the hopes of proving him wrong. So we towed off runway 24 again and headed toward the water. The view, of course, was truly amazing. With no clouds and dry air, we could see everything. In fact, once we got up a few thousand feet and out closer to the coast, we noticed that San Jose was visible. And after orienting our view, we could see all the way to Moffett Field in Sunnyvale!

We got to roughly 6,500 feet again and didn't find much other than the spectacular view. Drew suggested that we just tow to 8,000 feet and fly up the coast. I liked the idea so we did just that. I was flying the tow just fine and pretty relaxed, so I just enjoyed the ride. The water was so blue and clear.

We released a few miles from Santa Cruz at 8,000 feet and headed for the coast. It was rather surreal to be flying 7,500 feet above the Pacific Ocean on a clear day. I hope to do that again someday.

After we burned off about 1,000 feet of altitude, Drew had another good suggestion. Rather than keeping track of Hollister airpoirt, why don't we just plan on landing at Watsonville and getting a tow back out to Hollister. That'd give us the freedom to fly up the coast and over Santa Cruz for a while. So we did just that.

A couple minutes later, I mentioned that I was surprised when I read about flying a loop in the ASK-21 (that's a Gob inverted and an ASK-21 with the camera). Apparently you only loose about 300 feet of altitude if you do it right. He confirmed that and then asked, "would you like to try a loop?" Of course, I said yes and he walked me thru it.

Nose down roughly 45 degrees until you hit 110 knots or so (whatever the top of the green line on the airspeed indicator was). Then pull back on the stick and just keep doing it. Before you know it you're almost vertical. Once we were over the top, I relaxed the stick a bit and let the glider do what it wanted to do. After we started to dive again, I pulled back on the stick to pull out of the dive and into a climb. We climb at the end to make use of our higher airspeed to recover some altitude.

The loop was a blast. I distinctly remember saying "Wow! This is so cool!" while we were flipped over and just about to start diving again. It was so much smoother than any roller coaster ever could be. I expect to feel sick or disoriented or... something negative. But I didn't. It was great. I can't wait to repeat the experience. In fact, I'm likely to sign up for some aerobatic training flights at some point.

After the loop, I headed toward Sata Cruz and just took in the sights. It was during that time that I realized my only regret of the day: I didn't bring my camera up. I was really kicking myself inside. I had brought my camrea to the airport just like I do every day. I'm always hoping for clear day so I can take some pictures (and maybe post them here). After the first flight, I really should have realized that it was the perfect day, grabbed my camera, and stuffed it in the cockpit.


Anyway, we flew around over Santa Cruz for a while and looked for lift. We found a little bit roughly 2,000-4,000 feet from a ridge and played in it for a while. But it was weak and we weren't gaining much altitude, so I headed for the Watsonville airport. On the way there, Drew tuned in to their frequency and we listened for traffic. The airport was really hopping. Everyone was out flying today. Given the great visibility, I can't blame them. It was a perfect day to go up and fly along the coast.

Drew told me that runway 20 was active and told me where he wanted to touch down. He left the rest [mostly] up to me. I got into the pattern and was turning on final before I knew it. We had to drop a lot of altitude to land short on the runway so I had the spoilers pulled out all the way. They're quite a bit less effective than those on the 2-32, so it took me a few seconds to figure out how much we needed.

We landed and Drew took the controls right away to execute a couple of quick turns. He got us off the active runway, over to the inactive runway, and off into the grass where we'd wait for the towplane. We had a few minutes to get out, stretch, and relax before the towplane arrived. Given how busy the airport was, we got to watch a dozen or so planes take off and land during the course of about five minutes.

For my first landing at an unfamiliar airport, it wasn't bad.

Flight #3: Heading Home

After 10 minutes or so, the towplane arrived. We pulled the glider out, hooked up, and got moving. Drew took the controls for the takeoff and it was quite a ride. We drifted quite a bit off to the side while the towplane was still gaining enough speed to get airborne. It's a bit hard to describe, but it was fun to watch. Once we hit 300 feet or so, Drew gave me the controls and I followed the towplane back to Hollister.

The ride back was a little bumpy until we hit 3,000 feet or so. Then it was smooth sailing. Eventually we reached 5,000 feet and were well within gliding distance of Hollister, so I released and we spent some time flying over the hills between San Juan Batista and Watsonville. We found a little bit of lift just a bit past San Juan Batista and closer to Hollister, but it wasn't anything impressive so we kept going.

Once we were quite close to the airport, we did find some spotty thermal lift. Drew tried to guide me into it but it was really tricky. And the location was pretty bad. We were very near the intersection of the 45 and downwind leg for the runway 31 pattern. Of course, runway 31 was active, so we had a lot of traffic to watch out for.

After a few minutes, we gave up and headed home. I crossed over runway 31 and entered the pattern for runway 24. The landing went better than my first one and we touched down right where I wanted to.

We pushed the glider off the runway, chatted with some folks about the flights, did the necessary paperwork, and I headed home very happy.


Today was great. I got to get some good time in the ASK-21. I flew with Drew for the first time. Visibility was unmatched. I landed at an airport other than Hollister. I flew over the ocean. I even got to try a loop.

I just wish I had remembered to put my camera in the cockpit so that everyone could see what a great day it was...

Posted by jzawodn at 09:07 PM


Let me explainify the war against Iraq a little bit in Texas terminology.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:44 PM

Fly without ID. Legally.

Apparently, you can legally fly without ID. Thanks to Derek and jwz for the link.

I may just have to try that out myself. I think we all should. Perhaps if enough of us do, the airlines will get the message and stop inventing laws to make their lives easier.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:42 AM

February 01, 2003

Shut up about the Shuttle already.

I'll probably piss of some folks by saying this, but that's tough. This is my blog.

Shut up about the Shuttle already.

I'm sick of everyone jumping on the tragic double standard's bandwagon. Really sick of it.

How many people die in this country EVERY DAY because of car accidents? What isn't that on the evening news, front page of the paper, and all over the blog world? Are those deaths somehow less important than those of a handfull of astronauts?


So if it's not that these folks were somehow more valuable, what's behind this? The loss of the physical shuttle? I think not. We have a few more in the fleet.

Is it the surprise? I'd hope not. We've all known that spaceflight is dangerous. Heck, most of us were alive for the first shuttle accident. Some even remember the problems that the Apollo and Gemini programs encountered.

I just don't get it.

Of course I feel for the families of the crew--just like anytime I hear of an unfortunate death. But I just don't see the reason for all the publicity and coverage.

Do people really care so much about this or is the media driving this? If it is, how do we get them to stop already?

Go ahead. Flame if you must. But I'd rather you try to enlighten me a bit.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:47 PM

iMovie 3 and iPhoto 2 Downloads

Software Update just offered to download iMovie 3.0.1 (84.5MB) and iPhoto 2.0 (33.3MB). Wow, that's over 100MB of stuff for apps I've never tried. Are they any good?

The update info says:

Download and update to iPhoto 2 here. Or get all the iLife applications for $49 U.S. at www.apple.com/ilife or your local Apple dealer. iLife includes the latest, integrated versions of iTunes 3, iPhoto 2, iMovie 3 and iDVD 3, on CD and DVD.

So I guess that answers Derek's quest.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:37 AM