May 19th, 2004


The LJ Jinx...

A week ago I was waxing rhapsodic about the Dodgers, who at the time had the best record in baseball. They haven't won a game since. Five straight losses, including four at home, and three straight to the frelling Reds, who were under .500 until they got to Dodger Stadium. Last night they lost to the Phillies 8-7. The once-again-acting-dead Wilson Alvarez got shelled, but was lucky enough to leave the game with the score tied at 6, so didn't take the loss. One good thing about the game was that the bats seem to have come alive a bit. Feh.

The other good thing is that they are still in first place by a game and a half, because the Padres were losing, too. Elsewhere in the division, Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks threw a perfect game last night, beating the Braves 2-0. The Big Unit (at age 40) is the oldest pitcher to ever throw a perfect game. He's also probably the tallest player to ever throw one. It was the first perfect game in the majors since David Cone threw his in 1999, and only the 17th since 1880 (yes, that is 18, not 19). Good on ya, Randy.
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Thunderbird 1

Channel 9

The flight home was better than expected, because I was able to get my seats reassigned from middles to windows, and one was even an exit row, so extra roomy. Although it was cold, because the exit door seal isn't quite as insulating as the walls of the plane.

I flew United, and United is unique in that on many flights, if you switch to channel 9 on the inflight entertainment system, you can listen in on the communications between the pilots and the ground. And not just for your plane, but for all the planes using that frequency. I find this stuff fascinating. I'm sure many would find it deadly dull, and to be honest, it usually is, especially when you're just coasting along over Nebraska. It's more fun on takeoff and (especially) landing, and if you're taxiing around a big airport like O'Hare. For example, on our descent into Oakland, I was listening to the controller checking with both our pilot, and the pilot of another plane also on approach, as to whether they could each see the other plane. The other pilot couldn't see us, but fortunately, we could see him. I felt comforted by that. Other folks would probably freak.

Coming home, I heard at least one pilot-controller exchange (not our plane) that was "How you doin?" "We're good. How you doin'?"

Sunday afternoons are especially busy at O'Hare, and you can hear folks start to get a little testy. I had plenty of time to listen, as we sat or taxied on the tarmac for an hour before we took off.

Ground: "Follow the... RJ [a commuter jet]. No, I don't know which one it is, just follow it."

After we took off, we were instructed to slow to 250 kts, about half speed, probably to allow an aircraft ahead of us to extend its distance ahead of us. A bit later came this exchange:

Pilot: "We're still at 250 kts. How long would you like us to maintain?"

Ground: "Oh, you can resume normal speed. I forgot about it."

Uh huh...

There was some turbulence on the last leg, and it was neat to hear the pilots reporting where the smooth air was, and the chop, and the requests to go to different altitudes.

Okay, I found it interesting...

Off to the Angel finale party.
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