Saturday, 22 September 2012

Sorry about the delay folks...

It's been a busy day at work, and at the end of four flights I thought two things.  One, four flights in a day can be a bit tiring. Second, we were delayed on all departures, and none of them were mine (or El Capitanos) fault.  This led me to thinking more about the nature of delays.

Now delays are just as frustrating for crew as they are for passengers.  To us they mean being late and having to worker harder to try and make up time.  Often it is a cascading event, and frankly I just want a peaceful day when I go to work.

Delays can occur for numerous reasons, and often occur spontaneously when you least expect them.   They can be roughly classified into four groups; passengers, technical, weather and air traffic control.

Passengers, a necessary continual problem causing entity.  How hard is it to be in the departure lounge at boarding time. Missing passengers can usual be found in the frequent flyer lounge or wandering the shops, occasionally in the wrong terminal.  Seriously, airports are not that confusing.  What is worse is checking in your bag then deciding its all too hard, best leave the airport and go sight seeing.  The other common passenger delay is the "I left my phone, laptop, brain at security, shop, car" delay.  Passengers are the number one cause of delay, and there is a simple solution...shock collars.  Fit all passengers with a shock collar that will induce a mild tingle if the passenger is not at the gate twenty minutes prior to departure.  This shock gets stronger the closer we get to departure. Some would say this is cruel, but frankly so is letting your fellow passenger stew in their own sweat on the aircraft.

Technical delays.  Anything that can go wrong will.  Walking onto the flight deck to find it full of engineers scratching their heads is never a confidence boost.  It's a fact of life things break.  Fixing things takes time, but of we tell you the engineers say it will be five minutes you can bet it will be twenty.  Other technical delays are late cleaners, caterers, fuelers, the list goes on and often there is no reason.  Once you accept everybody else is lazy or incompetent, your hair will grow back and you can be at peace with the world.

Weather is always a concern. Rain, storms and fog slow everything down.  You can't fight mother nature but she is easy to blame.

Finally ATC.  If you can't find anybody else to blame, the faceless people in air traffic control are the perfect victims.  Often it is their fault. Why use two runways when you can make everybody hold and use one instead.  Even on a good day their instructions to slow down, speed up, and turn around in circles are often incomprehensible.  At the end of a long day, when you have got the plane back on time you can guarantee they wont let it happen.

So that's all the delays you will see, and certainly never caused by this great people on the flight deck checking their emails or having a coffee.

What delays do you hate?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Flying and wood turning

Ok, it's not as crazy as it sounds.  Yes unfortunately I have not come across a mini lathe that I can fit on the flight deck.  I'm sure if I did management would not appreciate the mess.  Neither have I come across a lathe and tool combination that security wouldn't have a melt down with when going through the X-ray machines.  It would be handy to be able to spend those wasted hotel hours knocking out a few bowls.  Perhaps a bow operated lathe maybe?

Anyway I digress.  Being away a lot I do sometimes get a day off in a different part of the country between red eyes.  Yesterday was one of these days.  Often the days are spent killing time, writing blogs, seeing movies and pretending to study.  Occasionally I use this time to check out woodworking shops.  Yesterday was Carbatec in Perth.  I have done this trip before, but had learned from last time.  This trip involves a walk to the station, train, bus and more walking.

Last time I did this it was summer and I walked from the station to the shop as I didn't want to wait for a bus.  This was about thirty minutes in 35 degree heat.  Didn't have this problem yesterday.  It is however a much shorter walk than the journey in Brisbane which was over an hour each way (looked shorter on the map).

Anyway the trip had a purpose to pick up some pen cases for an order. Whilst there talk shop and check out the machines for the new work shop (when the house gets built).

Now I have the problem of over purchasing and now having to carry everything around for the next four days until I get home.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Mystery Box

It's Mystery Box time of the year, a fun time for us pen makers on the woodwork forum.  Yes we are a crazy wacky bunch that live on the edge.  Contrary to popular belief we are not all old, glasses wearing, appron wielding wood lovers (some of us are actually young glasses wearing, apron wielding wood lovers).

Yes once a year we send a cardboard box from state to state full of wonderful pen making goodies.  A few days I got an email from the last recipient saying it was my turn.  I was excited waiting for the box of wonders.  What cool things would be inside?  What would I take and what would I leave for the next person?  The rules are simple, take out whatever you want and replace it with other things pen makers would like.  It could be wood pen blanks, acrylics, pen kits, something for casting, the choice is yours. The only rule is the box should way under three kilos and be posted on to the next on the list as soon as possible.

Now I can't show you what dark secrets lie within, that would spoil it for everyone. However I can show what I took out.

Having taken my goodies the box has been topped up and is ready to continue its cosmic journey.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Engineers flow chart

I am at work early, far too early.  They changed my start time whilst on my way to work, so I will share this gem with you.  I saw it on Facebook and need to share.

I have spent a lot of time talking and working with engineers in my flying career and this is so true.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Selling Houses Australia

As I lie here watching Selling Houses Australia I thought it was a good time to blog about our recent house selling adventures.  As you already know we about to build our new home and I'm sure there will be lots of blogs about that as we go on.  To do this we have had to sell our humble abode, the house we have been in for the last six years.

Selling has been a nervous process. It all started a few months ago with an attempt to de-clutter the house.  Our early efforts were not enthusiastic, and there was always an excuse not to do it.  I'm good at excuses to put things off.  The best way for us was to get some real estate agents in to check out the house, give us a valuation and get us working towards a deadline.

Over a few days we had six local agents through.  Unfortunately the house looked like a building site.  There were holes in the walls where I had de-constructed the picture wall.  There were boxes full of junk waiting to get to the tip or storage and the garage was hard to enter for more rubbish.  Luckily for us these realty experts could see through the mess to the gem beneath.  We found it hard to pick an agent but one felt the best fit for us, and he turned out to be great.

Now we had an idea of value it was hard to work, prepping the house for sale.  We painted one wall, this led to another, then another.  This is the problem with open plan houses, once one wall gets painted you need to do the rest! Luckily I had assistance from my wife who loves getting out the paint roller.  We emptied the house of clutter, culled clothes and toys and filled four of my neighbours  green rubbish bins as well as a tip run to empty the house and garden. We were ready!

A good clean and scrub and the house was photographed an inspected and ready.  We were nervous about the open house.  To sell in Australia you have open for inspection times on a Saturday.  We had been keeping an eye on how many page views the house had on line (dorky I know), so thought we should get a few.  We had eleven groups through during the 30 minute open house and a few had a good vibe according to the agent.  That afternoon the phone rang and we had two offers of asking price, fantastic.  Some quick negotiations and two days later the house was sold. 

With the shock of selling so quick, we now have to pack up and move. Exciting times!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Stylus Streamline for fathers day

It's fathers day tomorrow in Australia, but as usual it's the question of what to get a Dad who has everything.  Both my Father and Father-in-law love their IPads, so I thought why not knock up a stylus.  Now the stylus kits are Slimlines, but I wanted something a little more, what's the word, refined maybe.  So I decided to make a one piece Streamline, and a One piece Slim, both are essentially the same.

While I am showing the off, here is the quick tutorial! Firstly select a long enough blank, as there is no centre band this needs to taken into account when cutting.  I cut the blank to about 118mm and trim to 113mm when I stick in the tube.

You need a long drill bit (7mm).  As it is a long blank you can drill it on the lathe or drill press.  With the whole drilled we need to glue in one of the two brass tubes that are found in the standard kit.

Put the blank aside, let the glue dry and then trim the ends with the barrel trimmer.  Now it's time to turn!  Using the pen mandrel use the Streamline/Slimline bushing at one end, slide on the blank from the glued tube end.  Then slide on the spare brass tube and insert it into the blank on the mandrel.  Fix the other end bushing and secure the blank with the brass nut or mandrel saver. 

Turn the blank to the required shape. I like to leave a little curve in mine.  Once turned wet sand the acrylic from 150 wet and dry paper through to 800, then micro mesh.  For a real shine I then give it a rub with Brasso and then car polish.

Next step is to remove the barrel from the mandrel.  Now remove the lose brass tube.  Get the pen kit and squeeze the nib and mechanism into the lose brass tube with care.  

Fix the stylus and clip to the clip end where the brass tube is glued in.  Screw in the pen refil to the mechanism and push it into the barrel.  The glued brass tube will grab the end of the refil, to extend and retract the pen just twist the nib end.

Now the pen is ready to give dad

What gift are you giving dad?