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2007/03/31 Nice view
π 2007-03-31 22:03 by Merlin in Flying

On the flight back from Dallas, the day after the worst weather ever, the next day, the weather was quite nice, and I noticed on my GPS (never mind the fact that AA seems not to want you to know where you are) that we were flying over the Grand Canyon. I also shot the Hoover Dam, where you can see new pillars having been built and the upcoming bridge due for some time 2008.





2007/03/31 Alanna's wedding
π 2007-03-31 09:54 by Merlin in Family

Thanks to Alanna still having a working Email, she sent me an invitation to her wedding. I did a quick flight to Dallas to go see her. Turns out, I barely made it because of very bad weather (thunderstorms). I ended up getting to the wedding 10mn after it started due to a 3H weather delay, under torrential rain, which isn't bad considering that when we left 2h late, the pilot said "we're going to head in the general direction of Dallas, and we'll see what happens and whether we can land anywhere close to there"








It was quite nice to see my host family again after almost 15 years.
(more pix here )
2007/03/30 Internet, is it like the TV?
π 2007-03-30 12:15 by Merlin in Public

I was going to my host sister (Alanna)'s wedding in Dallas, and called a few hotels nearby. When I called the 3rd hotel, and asked if they had internet connectivity, the reply was "internet, is that like the TV?"
Oh boy...
2007/03/19 First RC plane flights
π 2007-03-19 11:26 by Merlin in Rc

I finally got my RC plane built last friday morning (Multiplex Minimag with big brush 6V motor (400), driven by 1350 3S lipo at 11V), and went for the Maiden flight.
Except for the first launch that overestimated the power of the motor (I didn't launch it hard enough), the first flights went fine. I had some close calls with the ground, but things went ok after that.
In the afternoon, I did a couple of flights on the terrain next to google, but unfortunately, I first went into a tree, which I didn't judge to be as close as I thought (it wasn't too hard to get the plane out), and my second launch after that didn't work due to bad elevator trim that caused the plane to go right into the ground and eat its prop.
After a new prop, I did a few more flights the next day, although it was in very windy conditions, and I ended up in a much larger and taller tree this time :)
Getting out of it was much harder: my trick of launch a gym bag with shoes for weight, and a rope to pull, dind't work as well because of the difficulty of the throw and the height. I got very close once, but not enough to shake it loose.
Ultimately, I got very lucky as person picnicking closeby just climbed the tree. That guy was amazing, as the tree was not easy to climb, but that guy was very athletic, and did a great job of it).
Anyway, except for a dent prop, some problems to the new prop having been mounted the wrong way and causing little lift :), I actually did a decent job of flying so far and have yet to crash into the ground.
I also scored multiple power off landings when the ESC cutoff motor power due to low batteries. I've been very happy with my flaperons that have allowed me for very slow approaches and "landings" in the grass.














2007/03/15 Hit some kind of bird while flying at night
π 2007-03-15 14:51 by Merlin in Flying

Current Music: Markus Schultz, Global DJ Broadcast 2006-03-23
Current Mood: Good

So, monday night, I went for a practice IFR flight, and while I was flying with a hood on (i.e. I could see nothing outside, the instructor was the safety pilot who could see, except it was dark), we apparently hit a bird 10mn before landing.
Neither of us realized and the plane flew fine, but now the club wants to charge me up to the full not at fault deductible for the accident, or $3500.
I am now disputing this because I think it's bullshit that they don't cover this on the intructor's policy when the instructor was responsible for looking outside, even if it was dark.
It's going to be a fun one, two pilot situations can be tricky when you try to determine fault...
(not that I blame the instructor, I don't think it ought to be for him to pay out of pocket either, the club should have insurance to cover cases like this, but it looks like they don't...)
2007/03/07 5k run at google
π 2007-03-07 23:14 by Merlin in Exercising

Today was one of the occasional google 5k runs. It was probably my worst time yet, 25:22 for 3.12 miles, or just over 5k (although it did include running uphill). Well, at least it gives me an easy benchmark to beat :)
2007/03/03 Quick day in Kirkwood
π 2007-03-03 23:21 by Merlin in Snow

After 4 to 6 feet of snowfall in tahoe (long overdue), we were longing for snow. Turns out that people who tried to make it the previous weekend, had a very hard time, or even had to turn back, just because the driving conditions were so bad.
Xav, aka "ze transporter", got us there in time for the beginning of the ski day. The powder was unfortunately a few days old by the time we got there, but I was able to find some in deep palisades (i.e. too out of reach for most people to bother going there)













All in all, not a real powder day, but still a good day to go. A few more pictures here
2007/03/03 Telling Jetstar that they suck
π 2007-03-03 23:13 by Merlin in Public

I sent the following Email to Jetstar (even though they try to hide their Email address), as well as the Australian board of tourism with a shred of hope that they might do something about their ridiculous 7kg per carry on limit within the country.
(ok, I might have just slightly exagerated some of the points below, but that was to drive the point across :) )

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am Emailing you because of my severe dissatisfaction with how I was treated during a flight with your airline, and let you know how disconnected you are with reality of you are hoping to attract tourism.

In a nutshell, you charged me more than $150 for what you called extra luggage, and you were really trying to charge me over $300, you humiliated me by having empty all my luggage and carry ons to meet the ridiculous 7kg/carry on luggage limit, and you denied me entrance with a carry on (small laptop backpack size) and my small laptop bag when in 20 years of flying I have never had a single airline deny me a carry on, and my laptop bag as a personal item, which your staff did.
Unless you tell me that you are going to make clear changes to improve the situation, I will forever avoid your airline, and warn all others against using it, starting with my 10,000 coworkers at google, and all my peers in the computer conference community.

I flew from the US to Sydney for 2 weeks to go to a conference and to go diving after that. I didn't pack my entire house, I just took enough clothes for the trip, some light diving gear (not even a BCD, or full suits), and my laptop and related computer equipment in my laptop bag.
My girlfriend and I had 2 checked in pieces of luggage each, between 15 to 25kg each, well under the 32kg/piece limit. We also each had a small backpack as a carry on, and a laptop bag.
This was no problem for our flights to and from Australia, and I guess we got lucky because it wasn't a problem for our flight with Jetstar from Sydney to Cairns. However, on the way back, some overzealous employee of yours maybe decided to apply your ludicrous rules on carry-ons.
First of all, I don't care that some loser was able to sue after getting a carry-on on his/her head. I didn't fly to Australia to have silly restrictions because of one person who had one problem and was allowed to sue successfully somehow. Australia isn't worse than the US, is it?

While my carry-ons were small, they are dense: my computer equipment, batteries, cables, and accessories do weigh a fair amount. My laptop bag is closer to 15kg and has never been below that, nor can it be: I need that equipment, and I cannot check it in as if I ever lose it, I am risking my job.
Your staff not only refused to let me take my laptop bag, but also told me that I could not take my carry on and my laptop bag, so I could not even rebalance the weight between the two (and again, I cannot check this in: I value my job and my ability to do work and give my talks at conferences too much to allow any airline to handle that sensitive equipment again)
Then, I'll save you the overweight bill we got from our check in luggage plus carry on weight that now had to be checked in too. We had to grossly cheat to avoid paying over $300, had to move lots of already carefully packed luggage around to meet your rules, and had things broken when we got there because of that rebalancing, and empty space in a piece of luggage that was otherwise well packed and padded to prevent damage to the internal items.
In the end, we lost 30-40mn, I felt fairly humiliated, and you charged us an extra $150 or so, and that's again only because your representative gave me no choice but to grossly cheat so that I could still keep my laptop with me and not pay several hundred dollars more.

So, my problem with you are:
  • your sales staff on the phone flat lied to me when they told me that I would be able to take my carry on and my laptop bag with me on the plane, even though the laptop bag would never be 7kg. I quote what your staff said: "if it's a laptop bag, we allow it regardless of the weight, we know that 7kg can be difficult to meet". It is outrageous than your checkin staff later says that it's not true, and effectively not only fines me heavily for the weight, but made us spend more than 30-40mn, almost making us miss our plane, to move lots of things around.
  • The 7kg/carry on limit is a joke. If Australia or internal carriers don't stop this silly rule, I will simply take my tourist dollars elsewhere (I spent about $10,000 this time, and I'l be happy to spend them elsewhere next time)
  • Denying us a small carry on backpack and a laptop bag as a personal item, is unheard of.
  • Your staff was totally inflexible and couldn't care less whether I made my flight, got home, or not.
  • Because my international flight was not with Quantas (I couldn't use them because their times didn't work for me), my international check in luggage allowance didn't transfer to you. I can understand that you would not let me check in 32x2 kg of luggage without any financial compensation, but you should sell $100 international luggage allowance vouchers for travellers instead of charging an insane $7/kg, or $300 on top of the flight for a person who does happen to have the 32kgx2
Please let me know if the way I was treated is representative of how you do business, and if not, whether you are willing to make things right. This will also let me know whether I should warn all my coworkers and colleges against using your services, or not.

Thanks
Marc

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