Thursday, February 16, 2012

Get The Flick -- The Top Ten

I have to be the world’s worst at marking milestones. Seriously, if I’m supposed to write a blog about Valentine’s Day -- I remember the day after. I’m not much better about covering big news. The FAA finally got a real budget, and I haven’t said a thing about it yet. It’s big news.

But back to the task at hand. I was supposed to write this post on this blog’s 5th anniversary. That was five months ago. Then I told myself I’d write it as the two thousandth post. That was 18 posts ago. What can I say?

I originally conceived of the idea (top ten list) as a way for new folks to get up to speed on this blog (should they care to) by reading nothing but the best parts. Or at leas the popular ones. But I have other reasons, also. Which is why I’m listing them in reverse order...

#1) Air Traffic Safety vs. Capacity

I think the statue of limitations has run out on whoever was crazy enough to ask me to write this piece. Whoever is was, they worked for The New York Times editorial page. Yeah, I could’a been somebody.

It scared me to death. I sweated bullets writing this piece. I even had an English teacher check it for grammar -- that’s how nervous I was about it. (Grammar ain’t my strong suit.) Anyway, the whole point is that the effort -- the group effort -- shows in this post. It didn’t run in the Times but it has had four times as many “hits” as anything else on this blog. If you have to pick only one piece on this blog to read, this is the one.

#2) When Daddy Let Me Drive

I didn’t even write this one. You might think that hurts my ego-- that my second most popular blog entry wasn’t even written by me -- but not really. I learned a long time ago that life (sadly) isn’t all about me.

#3) Air Traffic for Dummies

It was my friend Fallows that made this one so popular when he quoted a piece of it in his blog. James Fallows has probably sent more traffic to this site than any other single person and I thank him for it. We “met” years ago, somewhere in cyberspace, as pilot (him) and controller (me). I had no idea how big he was in the world of journalism. I do now. But I’m still more impressed that he’s a first-class human -- a genuinely nice man -- than a world-class journalist.

#4) Christmas Comes Early

I have no idea why this post got so many hits. There isn’t much there except for links. But if you’ve forgotten just how slimy the Republicans got in 2008, it’s a good refresher course. Delay, Mica and (probably the real reason it was so popular) “Hookers and Blow” -- courtesy of Lockheed. (You’re beginning to understand the title now aren’t you?)

#5) So Reasonable

Ah, good old Robert Poole. I’ve got three newsletters from the Reason Foundation in my inbox from him that I won’t read because he raises my blood pressure back to air-traffic-control levels. In short, he wants to privatize the air traffic control system and anything else he can get his hands on. That and he’s wrong. But like all the other think-tank typers, he’s got a good gig and he’ll keep right on writing. (Side note and reminder to self. Disregard. I was mistaken in the original note.) Anyway, getting back to my blog, Poole brought a mathematician to a painting contest. You kind of have to read it for yourself.

#6) All’s Fair

This one is about people questioning NATCA’s tactics in drawing attention to the controller staffing shortage. People forget but there was a real staffing crisis. There still would be if not for the Great Recession. I was just reading that Chicago is short and -- on a related note -- traffic is at a decade low. Yet we still have delays in New York (and I’m stopping before I go on another tangent.)

#7) Next Newt

Do I need to say anything? Yes, I have a “thing” about Newton Leroy Gingrich. But you’ll be happy to know that the blog is more about the side of NextGen that actually has a chance of working -- instead of the part Newt wants to talk about.

8) URET -- A Dissenting View

If I got my pick, this is the one I’d have you read. And I bet a lot of new kids that have never known anything but working with URET would find it interesting and informative. Which -- in reality -- means it is way too technical for a general audience. Still, this is the kind of stuff I dedicated my professional life to. I’m proud that it made it into the top ten and I’m proud of John Carr for having the guts to publish it.

9) The Truth

This too is one of my favorites. There are a lot of human complexities that are hard to get to. Hard to describe. Hard to write about. I think I got pretty close with this one.

10) FAA History Lesson -- November 30

I haven’t a clue why this one made it into the top ten. I suspect I’ve linked to it in several other posts. The “history lessons” were pretty popular when I wrote them. I might revisit the format in the future.

Which brings me to the point I want to make in closing. I’m not a rock star in the blog world and I never will be. James Fallows can send more visitors to my site in a day than I normally get in a month. Six months. John Carr got more traffic at The Main Bang in a month than I got in a year. The FAA Follies got a lot more traffic than I ever got. And I don’t have a problem with any of that. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty much the way I think things should be.

But I’m still here. I don’t write for AVweb anymore. I most likely will never be asked to write an op-ed for The New York Times again. The reporters don’t call as often as they used to. Regardless, I hope to be around for another 5 years or 2,000 posts. As long as you keep reading, I’ll keep trying to write. Thanks for sticking with me all this time.

Don Brown
February 16, 2012


Steve Miller said...

Keep up the good work Don. You may not get the volume, but I still start every day on the web with Get The Flick. Your perspective kept me hopeful as I worked my way to retirement and I admire your dedication to keep advocating a solid and safe ATC system even in your retirement years. (And I really enjoy your photography)

Don Brown said...

Thanks Steve.

Don Brown

Kevin said...

What Steve said!

Is the lake/pond just outside your door?

Don Brown said...


It's the neighborhood's lake -- about half of a mile from my house.


Don Brown