Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Memorial Day Postscript

Memorial Day. It's a great chance to relax, go see a parade, maybe go camping as I did; an unofficial kicking off of summer fun. While enjoying the day's recreational possibilities, however, it is worthwhile to remember why the holiday exists: to remember the sacrifices of those who've served our country, and those who continue to do so.

To be honest, I sometimes regret that I never served in the military. I don't have a great desire to risk life and limb in some godforsaken hole in the Middle East, but I have great admiration for those who do so. In many ways they represent this country's greatest qualities. Everytime I hear about another serviceman dying over there, something hurts within me. Until recently, my own brother was in Baghdad, and I see him in every GI killed by a suicide bomber, RPG, roadside IED, and helicopter crash. I can feel the anguish suffered by every parent, sibling, and friend - to say nothing of the men serving alongside him.

This has been played out many times through our country's history, from the Revolution to WWII to Vietnam. This is, however, the first time we've suffered casualties in the thousands in almost 35 years, and it brings home the sacrifices of the brave men throughout history who've helped bring about the nation we live in today.

Clint over at The Outer Marker makes a good point about people here taking their carefree lifestyles for granted; it's ironic that the reason we can do so is because of men and women who gave up that lifestyle to face death on a windswept beach, a foxhole, a jungle, or a wadi. To those who've served, those who came back and those who didn't, those who gave their sons and daughters, those who fought out of patriotism or for pure survival or for the man next to you: Thank You. There are many here who do not take you for granted.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Where am I *now*??

Not in an airplane, that's where. Not within sight of an airplane. Not within earshot of an airplane. Not even thinking about airplanes. And loving it!

Dawn and I took a little camping trip over Memorial Day Weekend, making a loop through the Washington Cascades. On Saturday, I got crew scheduling to release me early (once again, Janine, you are a babe!), & we headed for Mount Ranier. The day was clear, providing us with some spectacular views of the mountain.

Unfortunately, all the campgrounds in the area were full, so we continued eastward towards Yakima. We ended up camping at a very beautiful, though primitive, spot alongside the American River.

Sunday, we broke camp early and drove east to Yakima, then north via I-82 & US-97 to Leavenworth, Washington's own "Bavarian Village." We were hoping to camp pretty far up Icicle Creek southwest of Leavenworth; given how busy town was, we weren't sure there would be any sites available. It was a pleasant surprise, then, to find that few of the masses bothered to actually take their Expeditions and Xterras off pavement to camp along the most beautiful stretch of Icicle Creek.

After setting up camp, we took a short (3.5 mi) hike on the Icicle Gorge Trail. It features some great views of the river and surrounding valley, as well as a closeup look at the changing ecosystems in the area.

Dawn and I arrived back at camp shortly before a thunderstorm moved in and soaked everything. After napping the storm away in the tent, we built a campfire & used it to cook one of the best meals I've had in a very long time: lemon-breaded salmon & seasoned red potatoes. We spent a few hours just gazing at the fire & the brilliant stars over hot chocolate before heading to bed.

This morning after breakfast, we took another short hike, this time on Icicle Creek Trail. This trail, used heavily by backcountry backpackers, goes deep into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. We did a quick 3 mile roundtrip to French Creek and back.

Once we got back, Dawn and I relaxed by the river for a while before breaking camp & heading home.

Apparently we headed home at the same time as half the population of Seattle. I know...monday afternoon of memorial day weekend, didn't take a genius to figure that one out, eh? We found outselves in stop & go traffic on Hwy 2 from Steven's Pass until Monroe - about 60 miles.

Oh well. It was a great weekend. Since Dawn is a school teacher and will have the summer off, we hope to do a lot more camping the next few months. I love living in the Pacific Northwest.

Back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Where am I?

Extended into Infinity

As usual at my airline, the MegaWhacker crews are running ragged to pick up the slack left by the jet. I just looked at a comparison of reserve utilization between the MW vs the CRJ; it's like 80% vs 30%. This whole week, we've had both MW spares running jet routes.

Two routes that've been covered all week are a Portland-San Jose roundtrip and a Portland-Spokane roundtrip. Now, it's been fairly evident to the company that these routes would need to be flown by MegaWhacker crews; still, crew scheduling for some reason doesn't like to notify us until the last minute. Both wednesday & yesterday, I got a 4:30am wakeup call to fly to San Jose. I knew the reserves were flying these trips, so I asked about it the night before. "Nope, nothing on your line yet," I was told. When I'd query whether they had someone slotted to fly to San Jose the next morning, crew scheduling acted like they didn't know what I was talking about. C'mon, you've only called out crews for it this entire week!

So I get the O-dark-thirty wakeup call from crew sched saying - surprise! - they need me to fly San Jose. I shower & dress & drag myself to the airport by 6am. The passengers are often unhappy to find they're on a turboprop vs a CRJ. On Wednesday, one guy angrily demanded "to get the 737 back on this route!" Sure, sir, if you can find 150 friends to go with you every day. Once underway to San Jose, I make a PA about the weather and route, & explain that "the good news about the aircraft swap is that this airplane has more legroom and comfier seats. The bad news is we'll be 15 to 20 minutes late."

Both days I did the trip, the Captain called crew sched from San Jose to see if we had anything else on our lines. Each day, crew sched said there was nothing, yet by the time we got to Portland, they'd extended us to do a Spokane roundtrip that was already one hour late. C'mon, is there absolutely no foresight here or what!? Yesterday, we got done with the additional Spokane roundtrip only to be extended again, this time with a roundtrip to Seattle that was also an hour late. We had happy passengers all day, let me tell you.

So basicly an easy two leg, 3.5 hour day turned into a 6 leg, 7.5 hour grueler. That's okay, I got paid more. But it'd be nice to think that crew scheduling knows what the game plan is in advance, and give us on the front lines a bit of warning.

*Rant Concluded*

Oh yeah, Melody & Janae in crew sched - I'm not mad at you, you're my babes!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Flight Level 390

FL390: America from the flight deck

Cool blog from a major airline pilot living in PHX.

Still a CFI

Well, I renewed my CFI certificate today, with 7 days to spare. I'm now good through 31 May 2007. As I did in 2003, I used American Flyers Flight Instructor Renewal Clinic online. It's a pretty pain-free course & one flat fee lets you renew your CFI through them for life. Pretty nifty.

Mind you, since coming to my current airline I've used my CFI exactly once. But I still want to keep it current to instruct friends & family in the future, and to leave options open should something happen to my airline career (ie massive furloughs, etc).

Of course, Ameriflight hasn't been using me a lot lately. Maybe I should pick up a student or two as another side gig. Anyone in the PDX area wanna learn how to fly? Leave a comment!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I love craigslist

Not just because I can sell stuff I don't need without paying ridiculous amounts of money to The Columbian where nobody apparently reads the classifieds. Mainly I love craigslist just because perusing the ads is wonderful, cheap, time-wasting entertainment unto itself.

The Avacado Conspiracy

Hah! Even better!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

No Sleeping In...

...for Sam this Saturday. I had a 6:15am show at the Ameriflight hangar for a run to Pendleton and LaGrande. Fortunately, we had a break from the thunderstorms and rain we've had all week, so it was a pretty easy flight. Between the time this picture was taken & when I passed Mt. Hood westbound a few hours later, the ceiling had lowered & was obscuring the summit.

A few hours later, the rain started up again. *Sigh* I'm ready for the drought again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Would you like to declare an emergency?

I've been asked that question twice. Both times I said yes. The first time was a few years ago due to an electrical fire in a Seneca I was instructing in. I was near the airport and landed uneventfully. The second time was today.

We were descending into Portland, deviating around some rain showers, when the flight attendants called to say there was smoke in the cabin. Shortly thereafter, the lavatory smoke detector went off, and then smoke became noticeable in the flight deck. I got my oxygen mask on, the emergency was declared, & ATC gave us direct to the airport. I was the pilot flying, so I mainly concentrated on getting down quickly while the captain ran the checklists, talked to the flight attendants, coordinated with ATC, etc.

Before landing, we ventilated the cabin in accordance with the checklist by turning off the bleeds and opening the forward outflow valve. The smoke seemed to be dissipating a little bit, & the plane certainly wasn't on fire, so we planned on a normal landing & deplaning. I made a good crosswind landing on 10R & we were followed to the gate by the crash trucks.

I left before all the evidence was in but it seems like a seal blew in the engine & allowed oil vapor to enter the packs, causing the environmental system to spread the smoke. Thus, it wasn't a major deal, but anytime you see smoke in an airplane, you assume the worst and get on the ground now. We were pretty successful at doing that. It just took a while for my heart rate to come down.

CRM Phase II

For those outside the industry, Crew Resource Management (CRM) is a concept the FAA has been promoting throughout aviation since the mid-1980s. It arose from a rash of accidents starting in the 1960s where a multi-person crew was essentially single-pilot because of a domineering captain that everyone else was afraid to stand up to, or almost worse, a spineless indecisive captain who didn't want to make decisions. CRM, then, is the business of training crewmembers to work well together in their various roles with an eye on improving flight safety.

Well, kinda. CRM instructors are quick to point out that if a captain is a prick, a CRM course probably won't make him any less so. In fact, early courses had a strong emphasis on touchy-feely "kumbaya" feelings, which invited a backlash among the crusty old veterans. So essentially, among captains at least, CRM instructors are preaching to the converted: those who listen to their fellow crewmembers and involve them in decision making will continue to do so, and those who growl "gear up and shut up!" to their FO's will continue to do so. CRM for FO's, then, is largely about how to deal with this latter captain.

Not that there are many out there anymore. Many of the safety advances that've been attributed to CRM training, I'd actually chalk up to generational change. The old crusty captains with the "don't you dare question my authority!" attitude have mostly retired. Many of today's captains, having grown up under such tyranny, are inclined to have a much softer attitude. Also, today's pilots seem to be doing a better job of adapting to newer technology. The old guys who started on DC-3's and Convairs seemed to have a heck of a time transitioning to new-generations airplanes like the 757/767 and A320; for today's pilots, it's just another video game to play.

I just spent two days in my airline's CRM Phase II course, which is usually done after 6 months of flying the line. Of course, I've been here a year, but that's just because crew scheduling was being lax in getting me in. Most of it was fairly interesting, since little time was spent on theoreticals like "how humans communicate" (I've heard it about 10 times over the past 3 years). Most of the time in this class was spent talking about various situations we've found ourselves in during our time flying the line....essentially hangar flying.

The kicker is that, since they spent so much time waiting to drag me into CRM Phase II...I have recurrent ground school in 2 weeks, which has it's own CRM training! It's gonna be coming out my ears. And if they make me play that "Get as much money as you can" game again...arrg. I'll explain it later, but it was basically a game where you could win by being ruthless, or by everybody cooperating....and obviously, the moral of the game was that everybody wins when everybody cooperates. Gag me. I'll tell you the story later.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Seattle's new central terminal

Finally, it's complete! Until the recent opening of Seattle's central terminal, there was no good central place to hang out or eat on a break. It's been under construction for some time, but the wait was worth it. Very cool place, and some free advertising for my airline.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Whoop, Whoop! Pull Up!

When kids visit the flight deck before or after a flight, the captain often demonstrates how our airplane "talks" by pressing the GPWS test button, which yeilds "Terrain, Terrain, Pull Up! Whoop Whoop, Pull Up!" The kids are invariably delighted. You would've thought the designers would've used a less amusing, more threatening voice & sound to warn pilots of an impending crash into the rocks.

Just a thought.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Springtime in Montana

Was snowing like mad in Billings yesterday. We almost didn't get in. Despite taking off from Seattle with a full load of fuel (11800 lbs), about 6200 lbs of it was alternate & reserve fuel. When we were approaching Billings, the weather was below minimums and we had 7000 lbs fuel remaining, giving us only a few minutes' holding time. Fortunately the weather came back above minimums before I did any holding, and ended up breaking out of the clouds right at decision altitude on the ILS. There was 1/2 mile visibility in snow and a crosswind gusting to 29 knots. Just another day at ABC Co!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

This bid is gonna royally suck

Apparently, the company is extremely short on MegaWhacker first officers right now. A bunch of reserve lines went unfilled (the only reason I got weekends off) at the same time they took over several flights from [XYZ Airline] that are staffed solely with reserves.

Yesterday they apparently junior manned 5 FO's. They called me in the morning but I didn't answer my phone (not required to answer on a day off). All yesterday's junior mannings were voluntary, so I could've (and would've) turned them down even if I answered the phone. But it's just a matter of time before I get a phone call that they're drafting me & there's nothing I can do about it....

See, weekends "off" was too good to be true...

P.S...Fellow FO's, stop answering your phone on days off!!! If they're unable to draft people, it forces them to hire more pilots, and that's good for all of us.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

My long, interesting Saturday

Yesterday was day two of an overnight trip to Billings. We had a 5:15AM (mountain time) show time for a 6AM departure from Billings to Seattle, followed by SEA-GEG-SEA-GEG-SEA-GEG, followed by a deadhead to Portland. I woke up tired and wasn't at all looking forward to what looked like a long, hard day.

After we landed in Spokane on our fourth leg, a ramper came onto the airplane and informed us that our left outboard brake appeared to be smoking. Chuck (the captain) and I took a look; sure enough, there was some residual smoke even though we could remember no hard braking on the previous landing. We had maintenance take a look at it, & they said it looked perfectly fine, and sent us on our way.

After landing in Seattle, Chuck checked the brake out; no smoke this time. We loaded up and pushed back for our departure ontime, which I was really hoping for so I would make the tight connection for my deadhead to Portland. As we began taxiing, it felt like the brake was grabbing, but then it smoothed out and we completed the Before Takeoff checklist.

We were close to the departure end of the runway when the FA's called. "The passengers are freaking out back here, the wheel is smoking again...really good this time. One of them is a pilot and he says it's definately abnormal." Crap. So much for making that deadhead. We contacted maintenance control & they agreed that a return to gate was prudent. We were met there by several trucks from the airport fire department. They requested that we deplane everyone immediately so they could hose down the hot brake & tire assembly. As I stepped outside, I looked aghast at the outboard left main tire: it was flat, with the fuse plugs blown, and sitting on the rim at a crazy angle. Skydrol hydraulic fluid was pooled under the airplane.

As he got off, a jetBlue pilot who had originally warned the FA's about the smoke pulled me aside and told me that he saw several large peices of brake depart the airplane as we were taxiing back. I called ground control & told them that; soon, airport ops brought back several six-inch long peices of metal formerly belonging to the brake assembly. It had essentially disintegrated, and in the processed it had heated the tire hot enough to blow the fuse plugs.

I'm glad that the jetBlue pilot and other passengers said something, because my airplane has no sensor that warns of brake or tire overtemp. After takeoff, the hot brake could've started a tire/wheelwell fire, or the assembly could've come apart on landing in Spokane. Or the tire could've blown on takeoff, causing a high-speed abort. You always hear about hilarious passenger warnings (somebody seated right next to the prop will warn about "a thumping sound!") but in this case observant pax were a great help.

We were able to take another plane to Spokane, although I had to take a later deadhead and didn't get to Portland until 7PM. As an aside, my mom and two siblings are here, visiting on their way back from Kwigillingok, Alaska. Today we went to the coast & took mom out for seafood for mother's day.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Scientific vindication of my curmudgeonry!

I can hardly stand to page through Flying Magazine anymore only because of the ads for flight schools. Half of them feature a First Officer looking down from the door a shiny new RJ, dorky hat and all, proclaiming that thanks to XYZ school he's a first officer at a regional only 9 months after flying for the first time! "The Airlines Are Hiring!" they shout (aka those regionals that pay sub-poverty wages). These ads are all designed to induce Shiny Jet Syndrome (SJS), a mysterious ailiment that induces normally sane people to fork over insane amounts of cash to sometimes shady flight schools in exchange for a promise to be a real-life (gasp) jet pilot at a real-life (gasp) airline sometime in the near future.

Lately, there've been a ton of ads proclaiming XYZ school's conversion to an "all-glass fleet!," typically Garmin 1000 or Avidyne Integra equipped airplanes. "Learn to fly on glass - just like in a regional jet!" goes the siren song. My concern is that, despite what these schools would like to tell SJS victims, there's a good chance that before reaching that RJ, the pilot is going to being doing a decent bit of instructing, freight flying, etc - and likely in something that features old-school instruments and avionics that haven't been updated since the 70's. So you take somebody whose entire flying career has been on an integrated glass cockpit, and throw them to the wolves in an old ratty airplane with instrumentation and avionics they've never used, and I have to think that safety is degraded.

Okay, so you can dismiss me as a curmudgeon, or a chest-thumper who thinks that because I did it old-school, everybody should...but now I have scientific backup from a study by USC. While it didn't specifically involve pilots, there are some strong correlations. They found that individuals that trained on simpler displays and then moved to more cluttered, complex displays learned much better than someone who trained on a complex display and then moved to a simple display. The scan patterns developed by those who trained on the simple displays transferred almost immediately to the complex displays, while the reverse did not hold true. This is pretty consistent with my experience: I had no trouble going from steam gauges to glass, but I found that going the other way (when I got rechecked in the Chieftain) takes considerably more effort - despite having originally learned on steam gauges.

If I was a flight school owner, I think I'd just equip some of my twin engine aircraft with glass panels & come up with an additional "bridge" course after the multi rating. Voila...I've attracted SJS-struck students, I'm letting them learn on steam gauges before moving to glass, and I've increased use of those spendy twins!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Suggested Reading

If the liberals in the US expressed themselves in the levelheaded way that Max Hastings does in this editorial in The Guardian, Kerry would likely be in the White House today. I'm personally glad he's not, but our society could greatly benefit from a rejection of political vitrol & the rise of some civil discourse as demonstrated by Mr. Hastings.

Another good article at FrontPage Mag, about Marla Ruzicka, the peace activist killed by a suicide bomber last month in Iraq.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Arbitrate This!

A few days ago the arbitrator on the Alaska Airlines pilot's contract announced the results of his arbitration. The results aren't pretty at all: 26% average pay cuts, with the heaviest paycuts for the most junior guys. In fact, a first-year FO is only making a few dollars more than me, flying a plane over twice as big. Here's what's amazing: the company has been making money. The arbitrator awarded them paycuts only a sliver away from the 30% the company requested on the prediction that high fuel costs and competition would eventually cause them to lose money. The only good news is that the pension system is untouched, and the no-strike clause is gone. It's going to be seriously bloody in 2007, if not in the intervening period.

This is somewhat related to my last post. You take two guys and strap them into a pressurized aluminum tube hurtling hundreds of miles per hour through the inhospitable outer reaches of the atmosphere; then expect them to pull out super-human feats to be able to deal with the most crippling of emergencies, even after 13 hours of duty when they're tired and hungry...and then tell them that they're paid too much. It makes my blood boil.

(Sorry this sounds so negative, Sylv. I may be a little bitter about this for a few days yet. Consider it prep for when my company asks for 30% paycuts from us.)

The Torture Box

I had my yearly recurrent sim training yesterday up at FlightSafety in Seattle. At my airline, we do proficiency checks ("pro-checks") on every other trip to the sim; other times, including yesterday, we do "training-in-lieu." Pro-checks are pretty straight forward, but every item you do is pass/fail, and you need to pass them all. TIL, on the other hand, is not really failable. If you screw a maneuver up, you do it over. If you do it over so many times that you run out of time, it's merely an incomplete. Although TIL would seem to be easier, it's usually much more involved than a pro check. Yesterday was no exception.

"Among fatal accidents at major airlines, 80% of the systems failures accidents involved a scenario the crew had never trained for because nobody realized it could happen, or the chances were so remote, or multiple failures compounded each other," began our instructor in the ground briefing. "Pilots really are not prepared for these types of scenarios, because we've taught you to be so procedure oriented. When these types of things happen & there's no checklist to help, or you need to ignore the checklist, pilots find it difficult to be throw out the rulebook and be creative in their solutions." In the sim, my training partner and I would be presented with two of these scenarios, he said, things that no checklist could help us deal with. About 3/4 of crews ended up getting a red screen (crashing) on these scenarios. Craig and I exchanged "great, this is gonna be interesting" glances.

On the first takeoff, we got a #1 Fuel Filter Bypass caution light, followed by #1 FADEC caution and warning lights, then complete failure of that engine. Before I was finished running the appropriate checklists, we got a #2 Fuel Filter Bypass caution. We'd just taken off from Seattle, where it was 300 RVR. The nearest airport above landing minimums was across the Cascades. We declared an emergency and requested immediate vectors for a Cat III approach.

We hadn't got very far on the downwind before our remaining engine started losing power fast. Our airspeed was well below Vse and nearing stall speed about 4 miles before we could turn base. This was the point at which we realized we were in such trouble that the checklist & procedures had to go out the window; I dropped the single engine landing checklist & started the #1 engine, which we'd secured earlier. Fortunately, it started & produced enough power to gain some airspeed and get us to the final approach fix.

We ended up intercepting the ILS inside of the FAF, but fortunately the HGS armed itself for Cat III properly. Just then, the #1 engine died. The #2 engine was only producing about 5% torque. The captain didn't realize it and called for Flaps 15, as is the usual procedure on a Cat III approach. "No, you don't wanna do that, your #1 just died," I said. He didn't hear what I said & rather insistently requested Flaps 15. "Craig!" I exclaimed, "You're going to end up deadsticking this. You won't make it on Flaps 15!" At this point he realized the remaining engine was dead: "Oh, S**t!" With Flaps 5, however, we had enough airspeed to make it to the runway, where he made a gorgeous landing in 300 feet visibility.

We were soaked with sweat even though it'd only taken 25 minutes. The instructor congratulated us on a job well done, reviewed a few points, and then revealed what the scenario had been: terrorists had gained access to the Seattle fuel supply and contaminated it; we were the first to take off on the bad fuel.

My scenario was a little more involved on aircraft systems. I won't go to the length required to describe exactly what happened, but lets just say that on my airplane, losing a #2 AC generator and a #1 engine in icing conditions is a very bad thing. I ended up flying a single-engine ILS to minimums while iced up with flaps 0, a 800 lb fuel imbalance, while flying the plane only by reference to a 2" standby instrument. We survived that one, too.

It was a good, eye-opening experience. It showed me that as pilots, there are times that we have to recognize that a problem is so severe we need to stop doing the "proper" thing and use our brains to figure out the one solution that'll let us survive. The trick, of course, is in recognizing that point, because in aviation, improvisation has put a lot of people in very bad situations.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Acid Test

"Am I coming through?/ Am I coming through?/ Is it sweet, and pure, and true?"

So implores Richard Ashland on "The Test," a song by The Chemical Brothers that I've had stuck in my head for days. The test referenced is of the Ken Kesey/Haight-Ashbury sort - "did I pass / the acid test?" - which fits because the Chemical Brothers' music is decidedly of a psychedelic flavor. Contributions to the rave scene notwithstanding, their music can be thoroughly enjoyed sans chemical enhancement.

The Chemical Brothers are recognized as among the best in their genre (loosely, techno/electronica/dance) but they've achieved a fair amount of crossover success. Their creativity and originality has a lot to do with it: while so much dance/techno sounds the same, the Chem Bros make each track distinct and fresh. Much of their appeal, however, could be the strong rock influences, beats, & samplings that pepper their songs. One critic described them as "rock and roll fans who happen to make great dance music." Listen to Let Forever Be, their greatest crossover hit: it features a distinctly rock & roll backbeat, as well as structure & vocal style more akin to rock than most techno.

I'd consider myself a rock afficionado that occasionally gets into techno (besides the Chem Bros, I listen to Moby, Prodigy, Brian Eno, etc). The thing that grates on me about techno, particularly the stuff you'd consider dance music, is that it gets so repetitive that it's annoying - the same beats & samples, over & over again. This feature almost defines the genre, but I think one reason I can get into the Chem Bros is a deft balence between consistency throughout a track and changing up the sound. A great example is "Hey Boy Hey Girl." There are only four lines of lyrics, repeated over and over: "Hey Girl/Hey Boy/Superstar DJs/Here we go." It starts out slowly & very distinct from the music, in an annoying, grating nasal voice. But by the time you think, "ok, this is stupid," it has morphed into something completely different, and you find yourself grooving on the beat. Galaxy Bounce is somewhat the same way.

A final track I'd recommend listening to is "The State We're In." You may have heard it without realizing it, on the film "Lost in Translation" (in the scene at the bar with the fireworks projected onto giant weather balloons). It's a gorgeously sung mood peice, with thick syrupy tones that stand alone, then melt into an evocatively strident beat. It's the best example of Chemical Brothers as chill-out music, something that a lot of techno other than the ambient subset has been unable to achieve. If you could listen to only two tracks, I'd recommend this one & "The Test," & you'll be begging for more.

May Day

Today is May Day, the day of new beginnings (or some tripe like that). Dawn and I move into our townhouse today. We were there all of yesterday cleaning, vacuuming & shampooing carpets, etc. It needed it badly, the people who moved out did no cleaning. They also dinged up some walls pretty good on their way out. Between that and a multitude of screw holes where they'd hung artwork & shelving, I see a little repair & painting work in my near future.

I'll be without internet service until Comcast gets around to hooking up cable over there. Therefore, this blog may be on hiatus for a week or so (or longer if I know Comcast, grr....). I might post once in a while when checking email at the library.