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2005/12/23 A state of trance, top 20 (2005 version)
π 2005-12-23 07:32 by Merlin in Clubbing

Current Music: Asot - 228 :)
Current Mood: Good

I just downloaded yesterday's top 20, and I'm listening to it while cleaning my place and packing. Not, bad, not bad at all.

The top 20 list, along with votes from http://www.arminvanbuuren.net/ says:

Position Track
1 Above & Beyond Versus Andy Moor - Air For Life
2 Armin Van Buuren - Shivers
3 Armin Van Buuren With Gabriel & Dresden - Zocalo
4 Markus Schulz Featuring Departure - Without You Near (Gabriel & Dresden Remix)
5 Airbase - Escape
6 Way Out West - Killa (Orkidea Remix)
7 Gabriel & Dresden Featuring Molly - Tracking Treasure Down
8 Above & Beyond - Alone Tonight
9 Mike Foyle Versus Signalrunners - Love Theme Dusk (Mike's Broken Record Mix)
10 Armin Van Buuren Featuring Jan Vayne - Serenity
11 Dogzilla - Without You (Dub)
12 Andy Moor - Halycon
13 Jonas Steur - Castamara
14 Paul Van Dyk Featuring Wayne Jackson - The Other Side (Deep Dish Remix)
15 Tba - S.O.S. (Sander Van Doorn Remix)
16 Marco V - False Light
17 Kuffdam & Plant - Summerdream (Paul Van Dyk Remix)
18 Deep Dish - Say Hello
19 Mark Otten - So Serene (Menno De Jong's Fierce Dub)
20 Hammer & Bennett - Language (Santiano Nino Dub Tech Mix)

Asot 228, dispo dans toutes les bonnes crèmeries :)
2005/12/22 Raid 45
π 2005-12-22 11:42 by Merlin in Public

So, about 2 years ago, I "borrowed" a web page page on raid, and added a fake definition on raid 45, "double inverse parity", and published it here (the point being that I'm the top hit on google for raid45 )

Why would I do such a thing you ask? Well, the original intent was to catch people I phone screen when they type all my questions into google and try to read off a web page.
Now, in real life I don't actually need that, I can very well tell if people are looking stuff up, but I found the idea amuzing.

In the meantime, some of my coworkers did successfully use my page to catch cheaters, but I think the best part is that someone took the fake definition I made for the fake raid level 45, and put it in his page .
I'm still laughing because he just copied the nonsensical "uses a double inverse parity that is both on the last drive, and also spread across all the drives" verbatim.

Before long, my definition will be in a book or something :)
2005/12/21 Kirkwood, I missed you
π 2005-12-21 22:46 by Merlin in Snow

Well, last weekend, I was a bit busy :) and this week wasn't looking much better, but when I saw that bad weather, I was just hitching too much so I decided to drive my own sorry butt there (I usually never drive, I really hate that drive :) ). While I didn't really have the time to go, Wednesday looked like the best bet, so I got up at 05:15 (ouch), and headed out around 06:10 after refueling my car.
I did great time there (2H40) considering the school buses on the road, trucks, and other people who didn't feel like driving twice the speed limit :)
Note too self: there are too many cops on this road, even in the morning.
It did get interesting when I got closer to Kirkwood, the temperature dropped to 2 degrees C, and I had to worry about black ice. First, my car started going sideways when I was passing a truck in a straight line and a passing zone (apparently the back left wheel hit some ice). It took for some quick countersteering and dynamic stability control (i.e. fancy traction control) to kick in for the car to go straight again.
Later, I was able to use my sideways driving skills (i.e. mild powerslides) in the turns before I got to kirkwood: the road was mildly icy, and my "do not use in snow" race tires aren't really designed for this. It was a good exercise :)





I got to Kirkwood at 08:50, 10mn before opening time, so by the time I was ready, it was not too long after the first lifts were sent up. Yay!
The ski conditions were ok. The snow wasn't great (definitely not powder), but it wasn't icy either.
I stopped around lunchtime, and met my good friend but now distant coworker, N, who happened to be at kirkwood for a few days, so I took a well needed break to chat with her.
By the time I got back outside (13:00-ish), everyone was there before the lifts had just been shut down due to lightening that had just hit the mountain.
Unfortunately, they only got turned back on by 14:45, leaving for another 1H15 of snowboarding, but I made the best of it, especially as most people had bailed by then. I also used the time waiting, to work on my laptop in my car.





I'm told the snowboard helmet hair works for me :)




The drive back wasn't as fun. Not only was it pouring rain, I narrowly avoided two other cops, and then my car started saying that I had a tire failing (although it wasn't nice enough to tell me which one). Since I had hit a pothole at kirkwood, I was a bit worried. I pulled over under the rain to visually check the tires, but they looked ok.
When I started driving again, I was wondering what the odds were that my tire sensor was wrong. I knew that in my car it used the ABS sensors to measure how many rotations each tire was doing, and would detect a slow deflation since the decrease in diameter would cause that tire to turn quicker.
When I finally hit a covered gas station, I checked the pressure in each tire, but they were all good, so I just continued the drive home, and got there almost 3H40 later. This reminded me how much I don't like driving to Tahoe: 6H20 on the road for 4H of snowboarding... (and I can't even complain, a 6H20 round trip to Tahoe is not actually that bad)
But in the end, it was still worth it, at least I got to see some snow before february :)

Oh, on the way back, I found a very decorated house close to Hwy 88 and Hwy 99. This reminded me of John Steward saying "What part of god bless the USA did you not understand!!!" after the terrorist attacks...
The rest of the pictures are here



2005/12/18 The Apprentice
π 2005-12-18 13:14 by Merlin in Public

Yes, I admit it, it's been one of the shows I've been watching when I work on my laptop, or as background when I'm around the kitchen/living room.
By watching it, I think I actually learned a few useful things about interactions with coworkers, bosses, and the workplace in general.
If you have no idea what it is, it's a 15 week long interview to get a job working for Donald Trump. The candidates get a task each time, and compete against one another to achieve the task. In the end, the winner gets a high paying and ranking job for Donald Trump. Smart of him to have come up with that idea.

I just finished watching the finale, and I was quite disappointed that after both top candidates had been so good, and Randall won, he said that he did not believe the other candidate should get a job working for Trump too, making a bogus reason that there should only be one winner. He really seemed like the kind of person who would be happy to share his victory, and for whom victory didn't have to be at the expense of someone else.
This shows how much I still have to learn about human nature...
2005/12/11 A car-less week in Santa Monica
π 2005-12-11 20:15 by Merlin in Flying, Trips

My goal was to fly to the Google Santa Monica office, and spend a week in LA without a car. Since the office was across the runway, I just took my skateboard and flew there. It was cool to have actually spent an entire week without renting a car in LA :)


Monday:
Weather was good, and despite a not very good night, I felt that it might be the first day of me not being sick anymore (which considering how much I pushed things the previous day, is nothing but amazing).

The flight went fine, and was scenic. I got in Santa Monica airport 2H20 later, but I never had to go through security, didn't have to check my luggage in, go back to the carousel, and hope it was there for me, I just tied the plane down, took my stuff and my skateboard, and skated to work, almost across the street (it was slightly more complicated than that as it was also across the runway)
My landing was a bit rought, I flared high even though I know better (while I was fine when I started the flight, I did get a bit tired by the end), and dropped a bit when the plane settled on the runway (no bounce though)




161 knots ground speed (185mph/300kph), sweet!



The rest of the pictures from that flight are here


Tuesday:
By then I was doing fine, maybe LA weather cured me :)
I just worked and gave the first one of my 3 talks.
Commute to work from the hotel was a 5mn skateboard ride. Sweet!


Wednesday:
That evening, I biked to Santa Monica promenade for some sightseeing and a couple of crèpes à Café crèpe, while watching some new episodes of Top Gear and Fifth Gear on my laptop


Thursday:
Before going to work to give my 3rd talk, I took the bike that one of my coworkers nicely lent me, and went biking the Santa Monica boardwalk end to end.
It was nice and quiet.





The pictures from that ride are here


Friday:
I used the morning time to do a flight to Santa Catalina. Since I heard that one needed a checkout to go there, and flying through LA and over LAX could be tricky if not done exactly right, I elected to go there with a local instructor.
I figured it was cheap insurance, and I don't regret it.
I flew right over the LAX runways, made it to Catalina, and had a buffalo burger at the restaurant by the airport, and did a few patterns there. It was interesting practising there due to the crosswind, downdraft on final, and holes in the runway :)















The rest of the pictures from that flight are here


Saturday:
Since I got invited for the Santa Monica Google christmas party, I had saturday to kill, so I figured I would go to Universal Studios again, since I hadn't gone in quite a while (about 8 years).
I found a coworker to go with, which came in handy since I didn't have a car, and we showed up there around 09:45, about 45mn after opening time, which wasn't too bad (I'm a being there a 09:00 sharp to take advantage of the whole park, guy, but it's about being a bit flexible).
Well, my resolve was going to be tested further, my friend forgot his pre-printed ticket in the car before walking to the park, so he had to go back to get it.
Since it had taken us a while to walk to the park, I knew it was going to take a while, but I figured I'll just let him go fetch the ticket while looking around the universal city boardwalk. I figured, no reason for me to trail him back to the car. Problem is that he had no idea where he had parked the car (as in what parking complex it was in), and he kind of neglected to tell me that. Long story short, another 45mn later we were in the park after he came back a long time after he left, telling me he was lost, and I took him back to were we were parked to fetch the ticket.
On one side, I was a bit peeved to have lost about 2H of park time by the time we got in because I decided to be social, but in the other hand it was a good excercise in testing my cool and putting things back in perspective. In the end, due to the park not being too crowded (december), and "front of the line" passes, we got to see all of it anyway.
My rating of universal is ok. A couple of attractions were a little lame, while most others were decent to good (I was also somewhat partial to the blues brothers revival since I'm a big fan, see the video clips in the picture library)














The Mitsubishi Eclipse from the Fast and the Furious

The rest of the pictures and videos from Universal Studios are here


Saturday Night:

Then, that evening I went to the local google christmas party at the silent movie theatre in Hollywood. It was my first time seeing a black and white cartoon and a Laurel and Hardy movie in a theatre with a real pianist playing to the pictures. Quite nice...
Some of my coworkers also made a few short movies reacting well known movie scenes, but changing the topic on the lack of swag that they get. That was quite funny.





The other pictures, and video are here


Sunday:
Sunday was time to fly back to Palo Alto.
I snuck in the airport from the main entrance (on the wrong side of the runway) so that I could skateboard around the vehicle taxiway (not the plane taxiway) around the airport so that I didn't have to do the much longer loop outside the airport (especially as it went way downhill and uphill, which with a big backpack and a skateboard wasn't something I wanted to do).
When I was almost all the way around, I could see an airport vehicle, probably alerted by the tower guys, who was driving towards me, probably to find out why a wacko was skateboarding around the airport :)
He did go away when he saw that I reached my plane, and was loading and preflighting.

The flight was interesting since there were a few different things wrong with the airplane that I found during preflight, or found out about during flight, some more minor than others:
  • one of the fuel gauges didn't seem to work and always showed full (I just had to make sure I knew how much fuel I was using, how much I had, and rely on the other tank's gauge for computation)
  • The CHT (cylinder head temperature) gauge looked like it didn't work (not too important as long as I made sure to keep track of oil temperature, and EGT)
  • One of the doors had a tendency to half unlatch during flight, but thankfully not to the point that it would open
  • The front landing gear strut was very low and didn't look like it would absorb anything but a fairly soft landing
  • The engine seemed to burn a quart of oil per flight (ok, I made sure I had extra oil to carry and would top up/check the level each time)
  • The airspeed indicator was acting up a bit. This one is touchy as it is a reason it itself not to fly the plane. Luckily, it was only sluggish on takeoff and would show 0 speed until I hit 40-50 knots, but it worked fine in flight and slower speed on landing. Otherwise, I had the backups of using the GPS indicated ground speed, and my eyes (which I'm ok with during the day)


While I would regularly have made the return flight at night, with the above list of things not quite working, it was just not a good idea.
For instance:

  • even with GPS backup and lights, losing your airspeed indicator at night just isn't that great
  • Having a fuel gauge go bad, and maybe have the other one get stuck mid way, and then the engine use twice as much fuel as you had planned, would have dire consequences. Sure, I'm reaching a bit here, but doing a forced landing at night because you ran out of fuel is not something you every want to have to do.

The flight itself went fine, it was a little less than 2H30. When I arrived in Palo Alto, I knew I had to be very gentle on the front gear, so I did a low approach at short field speeds (60 knots), full flaps, and landed with power to do the softest soft field landing I could, and indeed, it was probably one of my best soft field landings, which made sure I would not abuse the little travel left in the gear strut.
(this is another one where if the winds hadn't be calm, I would have had to cancel the flight, or redirect the landing destination elsewhere instead of chancing a possibly very rough landing on a possibly not well working strut)





The rest of the pictures from that flight are here
2005/12/04 Sunday: Harris Ranch in C182 G1000
π 2005-12-04 18:49 by Merlin in Flying

Flying Hours: around 135

Since I also had just gotten checked out in a G1000, I had also promised to take a few other people to Harris Ranch, so I did so, entirely at night, using the awesome G1000 avionics (among other things, they show you Mountain proximity, and how close you are from the terrain (very nice to see how close you are from mountain tops you can't see).
I was still not in great shape, so I had a judgement call to make, and in the end I figured that with suitable rest (i.e another nap before the flight), I'd be ok (since that had been the case for the rest of the week).
My landing at Harris wasn't stellar, mostly because it was hard to see the ground, and my soft field landing flare was started just a little bit too late. I'll know better for next time...
Dinner was good, and the flight back without issues





Viktor carried a GPS and made some great graphics with Google Earth, showing our route









The remaining pictures are here
2005/12/04 Sunday: 172XP checkout
π 2005-12-04 18:38 by Merlin in Flying

Believe or not, my second backup instructor also fell sick, and had to cancel too.
This was getting a bit unnerving as I had to have an instructor fly with me to check me out in that plane if I wanted to have any chance to fly that plane to Santa Monica the next morning for my week trip there.
Somehow, I did manage to find the last instructor available, and he did have a 2H slot right at the only time I could go with him.
We did a few patterns (3-4 I think), and he checked me out. Sweet!
2005/12/04 Sunday: Bay Tour in Socata Trinidad
π 2005-12-04 18:30 by Merlin in Flying

Next morning, just so happened to be the day, my other coworker and fellow pilot, Jim, showed me his plane, a French Socata Trinidad, and took us for a bay tour ride. It was quite nice indeed, and a quite interesting plane to fly (not right away for me, though, as WVFC requires 200 hours before you can take that one)
Thanks much to Jim for the ride











The rest of the pictures from that flight (including a fair amount of the golden gate), are here
2005/12/03 Saturday: Safety Pilot
π 2005-12-03 18:20 by Merlin in Flying

Right after the Google Party, which I left a bit early to get a little sleep, I offered to be safety pilot to my coworker, fellow pilot, and charter pilot to burning man :), Pablo.
Pablo did his flight to Salinas under the hood (i.e. without seeing anything outside), while I sat in the copilot seat to make sure he wasn't going to hit anything, or anyone ;)









After that, I was supposed to meet an instructor at WVFC to be checked out in the Cessna 172XP I was planning to fly to Santa Monica monday, but that got cancelled due to her falling sick too (I was still under the weather at that time, but capable of some things as long as I had rest in between).
I spent the hour after that trying to find an instructor who could check me out in that 172XP, but it was hard as few had ever flown that plane (that's why I want it, it's always available)

The other pictures from that flight are here
2005/12/01 3 endorsements for the price of one
π 2005-12-01 23:23 by Merlin in Flying

Flying Hours: about 130

I went back to PAO today to see my mountain checkout/182 instructor before he left on an extended vacation. Despite the conditions, I managed to do the required flight, landings, and all the ground paperwork to be checked out that new plane.

In return, I received:
  • mountain checkout
  • high perf (in C182T)
  • G1000 avionics

The pattern work and landings, in rain, gusts, and SJC traffic flighing over my head (Runway 13 at PAO) was fun
Eh, at least I now have one of my two cars that has almost less HP than the plane I fly :) (235hp for the 182T)

The good news is that after finishing my complex rating (I have enough hours for that), I'll then get to build a lot more hours before I do anything else.
This is just as well since I can definitely use more time away from the dashboard and dials, and more time looking outside, and developing a good feel for what the plane is doing without having to look at the instruments (sooo tempting with the G1000 :) )
I'll be celebrating by flying to our SMO office to work there next week (in a 172XP)

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