Saturday, August 19, 2000
An Early Call
Something. There's something going on.
It's slowly percolating through my head that something is going on.
I realize it's the phone. I roll over, nearly out of bed, reach for the phone on the floor and answer it.
“Get up!” my friend Greg said. “It's noon! Time to get up!” I mumble something incoherent even to myself. “Get up! Meet me at my office at 1:00,” he said. I mumble something incoherent to myself, hang up and wonder why I even agreed to meet him for lunch at such an unreasonable hour.
It's a quarter to one and I'm just about ready to leave when the phone rings again. It's Greg. “Change two to plan B,” he said. Of course, plans change. “I'll meet you outside.”
“Where?” I said. “Here? My house?”
“Yup. Be ready.” And with that he hung up.
A few minutes later he's honking the horn and I'm stumbling out the door. “I figured it would be easier if we carpooled,” he said. So we drove off to his office to meet the rest of our group. We're late arriving to his office, but we were still the first ones to show up. I've known Greg since high school and right now he works for IBM as a system administrator. Martin shows up next. I've known Martin since high school as well, and he works for the Coast Guard as a tactical instructor. It's always fun to listen to his stories. Then Tom and his fiancé show up. And I've known Tom since elementary school. He's currently an architect but he eventually wants to enter the FBI. Kurt then showed up.
We head over to the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport to eat at the diner there (good food). Afterwards we head up north to Boca Raton to play miniature golf at Boomers, an arcade next to FAU.
You thought commercial airlines were cramped …
While driving to Boomers we saw an odd looking plane land at the Boca Raton Executive Airport. Greg was excited. “That's my Dad's plane,” he said, point to the landing aircraft.
“Your Dad is flying that airplane?” asked Tom.
“No, but that's his plane. Or rather, a plane he flies,” said Greg. Greg's Dad is a licenced pilot (and even flew helecopter missions in Vietnam) and now works for AvWeb, a avionics centered website. The plane we saw landing is used often by his Dad. “But it looks bigger flying than on the ground,” said Greg, refering to the plane.
After spending some time at Boomers we headed over to the Boca Raton Executive Airport just down the street. He stopped at one of the offices, got the keys to the plane, then drove out on the tarmac over to the plane.
It's not a big plane at all. A large bulb comprises the cockpit and it narrows down to a slender pipe perhaps two feet across to form the rest of the plane. The wings are below the cockpit and the plane was tied down to the tarmac, like the rest of the small planes parked there.
There are two seats in the cockpit, but its like backseats in sports cars. Yes, you technically can fit two people in there, but unless you're a horse jockey, you aren't going to be very comfortable. The cargo space consisted of a small cavity behind the two seats.
Did I mention the plane was rather small?
Tom and Kurt crammed into the cockpit for a few minutes, then Greg and I crammed in, closed the cockpit and Greg spent the next several minutes trying to get the plane started.
He got it started only to have this horrible flapping sound emenate from the plane. Outside Tom, Keller and Kurt were trying to get our attention—it seems my seatbelt was hanging outside the cockpit, flapping against the side of the plane in the backwash of the propeller. Greg stopped the engine, we opened the cockpit, I pulled the seatbelt in, and we repeated the procedure.
Not only is it cramped, but loud. Greg said the plane is used for training, which explains the two sets of pedals and joysticks and possibly the cramped conditions.
I'll fly the commercial A320s over this anyday (last year I had the opportunity to fly an A320 simulator used to train pilots. It's amazing how simple modern commercial airplanes are to take off, fly and land—something I've never been able to do on PC flight simulators).
Ceol agus craic
Later in the evening Tom, Keller, Greg, Martin and I headed down to Beach Place, a shopping center in Ft. Lauderdale located across A1A from the beach to eat at the Irish Pub there (I've forgotten the name, but it's the only Irish Pub at Beach Place). We arrived just in time for the Irish band “Fire in the Kitchen” to start playing.
Even though by that time I had a headache and wanted nothing more to do than go home and sleep, as the band started playing my spririts lifted and we had a good time. One of the waitresses there gave a demonstration of Irish Dancing, which she made seem easy but don't let that fool you—it's got to be harder than it looks.
During the band's break, a couple came up and played a few songs on bagpipes, which I think were inventedin Irland and imported over to Scotland (as a joke they haven't gotten yet, said the leader of the Irish Band). The man was wearing a kilt, and the woman was wearing jeans (I'm not sure if that's ironic or not, but it was amusing).
Bagpipes are loud. Very loud. Perhaps it's loud in order for the sound to carry across moors but in an enclosed space, and being at a table next to the couple playing the bagpipes, it was very loud.
Asault on a Federal Officer
Keller accidentally spilled some salt on Martin. He replied “You know that's a salt on a Federal Officer.”
Okay, so maybe you had to be there …
By 11:30 pm we left the Irish Pub and drove back to Greg's office where we met earlier in the day. Tom and Keller left for home. Martin, Greg and I then went to pick up our friend Larry and we spent the next several hours playing Quake till the wee morning hours.