Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pardon Me

I offer my apologies for the lack of posts lately. Unfortunately, I can’t promise that I’ll do any better soon. I’ll try to do better -- but I won’t promise.

First the excuses. I’ve rediscovered photography. I use to sit and ponder ATC (and the world) in the early morning hours. Now I go out and take pictures. That leaves plenty of time to ponder but not much time to research and write.

Then there is Spring Break, the time change and Brahms’ Requiem. My daughter was home for a week, my son this week, I hate Daylight Savings Time (and adjusting to it) and I have to learn Brahms before Good Friday. (Here’s a famous piece from Brahms’ Requiem for the curious.)

Now, for what I’m working on/thinking about.

There’s construction at JFK and the airlines (God bless ‘em) are using that as an excuse to plead for an exemption from the new rule that says you can’t imprison people on a grounded airliner for more than three hours. They want the exemption not only for JFK but for all the New York airports. That’s rich.

There’s some good background in this article from The Dallas Morning News and I’ll cherry-pick this statement:

”Smith estimated that construction has reduced JFK's runway capacity by 30 percent to 40 percent and squeezed all flights onto two smaller runways.“

That gives you an idea about how capacity has been impacted (Mr. Smith works for American Airlines. Factor in your own adjustment for capacity.) Then we’ll jump to the New York Times story and cherry-pick this statement:

”To cope with reduced runway space in the meantime, airlines have agreed to cut the number of flights out of Kennedy during the project. Delta Air Lines and JetBlue, two of the largest carriers at the airport, have each reduced departing flights by 10 percent compared with last March.“

It’s up to us to figure out if Delta and Jet Blue’s 10 percent, together, equals Mr. Smith’s 30-40 percent. I’ll go out on a really sturdy limb and say it doesn’t. But as all pilots and controllers know, JFK won’t be any worse than normal (which means the usual awful) as long as the wind blows in the right direction. Which it won’t. One day. Which is when the airlines will blame the weather instead of their schedules. Or construction. Or ATC. Or anybody. Just don’t blame it on them scheduling more than the airport can handle.

I saw a blurb the other day about automated Towers and I immediately thought of the Praxis Foundation’s Staffed Virtual Towers. And I never did get around to reading the story. I don’t know where it went either. I looked. Sorry.

We’re leaving tomorrow for Communicating for Safety so, hopefully, I’ll be writing more this coming week. It’s always easier to get information when my prey can’t escape into the internet. For the controllers that will be there, here’s what I’m interested in. Study up.

1) Have any improvements been made to URET ? Any. Ever.
2) Did the FAA ever figure out a way to determine who controllers are talking to ? And standardize it.
3) Okay, how is ERAM really working out ? Will it work at ZID (Indy Center) or will they turn it on for a few hours, declare success and turn it back off again ?
4) Can you new kids see airplanes in your head ? How did you learn to do that using URET ?

As for the rest of the world, tomorrow could be an historic day. If the health care Bill goes through, it will be. And it will be interesting to see what the Republicans try to scare you about next. (I listen to Rachel’s podcast while I walk. No commercials. Did I mention I’m walking a couple of miles a day now too ?)

Georgia set a new record. Our unemployment rate went up to 10.5%. It wasn’t the only record we set. Georgia is deciding how much to cut from education. That’s like a farmer deciding to eat his seed corn. There won’t be a high-tech economy with high school dropouts.

I did this exercise for a friend in Georgia’s educational system. See if it works for yours. Find out the proposed budget cuts for your educational system. Teacher layoffs, furloughs, courses being cut, classroom sizes being increased, etc -- however you want to define it. Add it all up and write down a figure. Georgia wrote down $300 million as the college shortfall.

Now, pay attention class. The evil Obama/Democrat plot to ruin America proposed a 825 billion dollar Federal stimulus package. The heroic Republicans and patriotic Tea Party/Town Hall Crashers beat it back to $787 billion.

Pay attention now. This is critical. If your House Representative was a Republican, they voted against it. Not a single Republican voted for it in the House. If your Senator was a Republican (unless you live in Maine or Pennsylvania), they voted against it. Without the Democrats, there wouldn’t even be $787 billion for the States to use.

825-787 = 38 billion dollars the States didn’t get as stimulus.

$38 billion divided by the 50 States would equal (all things being equal) $760 million. Per State. Go back to the beginning. What was your State’s education-budget shortfall ? $300 million ? $760 million would cover that. And then some.

Be sure to thank your local Tea Party. And your Republican Congressional members (except for Senators Snowe, Collins and Specter). When we lay off teachers we will be breaking the most important social contracts our society has, permanently damaging the potential of an entire generation and contributing to our already-record-high unemployment rate.

Please. Stop following these fools.

Don Brown
March 20, 2010


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