Sapporo Snow Festival Results in Amazing Star Wars Sculpture

This is just one of many reasons to add Sapporo to the bucket list. You can always check out the Japan Guide too for a more formal introduction.

Geeks like to go all the way with their projects, and Japan is a country full of geeks. That‘s why they spent a month (and purportedly enlisted the help of the Army) building a giant Star Wars snow sculpture for the 66th Sapporo Snow Festival. And is truly enormous: 3,500 tons of snow went into making this 23 meter wide, 15 meter tall piece of geek art.The centerpiece of it all is a giant bust of Darth Vader, beckoning Luke to join the Dark Side. Vader is accompanied by three Stormtroopers and two TIE Fighters (one of them being his personal TIE Advanced).

via Demilked

Qik Videos + Swamis Pics

After two weeks of Atlanta weather, northeast weather, and flying to other cities around midwest plus Canada, I finally made it back home to San Diego. With all the snow, freezing temperatures, rain, sleet and ice, I knew that I was missing something in my life! I've been Qik-ing from my iPhone for a little while now if you haven't noticed and today's video was just so awesome that it needed a separate entry. It captures the beauty of San Diego (actually taken at Swamis) and the gorgeous weather that we have.  If you need the direct links to my Posterous or my Qik Profiles, they are to the right in the Personal Links.  Those profiles are usually easier to update as you can tell.  But I'm still here...still alive on Check out the pictures and Qik Video!

Day In A Life of a Pilot During Irregular Operations

Lets start from the beginning; if you recall, yesterday was a day that originated with me traveling in on a red-eye from San Diego (3 hrs sleep in an upright position), 2 hours sleeping horizontally at the now "old" crashpad, picking up a uhaul, loading up and cleaning, unloading at the new place which happens to be on the 3rd story w/ no elevator, returning the truck, organizing a bit, going shopping at Ikea for a new bed and frame, stuffing it all in a VW Jetta, unloading that up three flights of stairs (again), assemblying and cleaning until 2AM. This is where the fun begins.  The only reason I stayed up till 2AM is because I received a phone call from scheduling telling me that I was to be on short call reserve, which means that if I were to get a call from operations, I would have to be at the airport and in my plane dutied in within 2 hours, at 7:30 with a mandatory duty in at 10:25 for an 11:25AM departure to Omaha, Nebraska.  Instead of 5 legs as originally planned, I was now scheduled to fly one leg to Omaha followed by one leg back tomorrow.  I thought to myself that it shouldn't be that bad, but little did I know.I arrive at the airport a little early (10:10AM) happen to meet up with Kurt, walked to another concourse to pick up my flight bag while grabbing a venti caramel machiatto w/ soy from Starbucks, went to the plane and got it ready to go.  All in all, it didn't seem like it was going to be too harsh, but the weather deteriorated quickly.

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I figured that I should read up on the de-icing procedures in ATL since I've never done it before along with the fact that we were going to be a while until our ticket was up.  We board up, release the parking break and great ready to go.  Once we're on the taxiway, we were told that deicing would take approximately 1 hour from our current spot in line, so we turned off both engines and hung out.  By the time we were number 1 and getting ready to enter the de-ice pad, the forecast and current weather conditions equated heavy snow.  "+SN" limits us by putting a stringent requirement of having to take off within 5 minutes of deicing and the current estimates were about 8-10 minutes.  So, all in all, it wasn't conducive to get deiced with a chance of having to do it all over again.  All the while, we pick up on the radio that the runway was shut down because of poor braking action.  Good thing we just turned back.

Snow AccumulationGetting a parking spot wasn't that much of an issue but since the rampers and gate agents were being overwhelmed with returned aircraft, it was about another 15-20 minutes of sitting waiting with the door open, snow piling up on the stairs and passenger entry way before we started the de-boarding process.  Outside my window, I see this: and record this:

Another two hours pass by, we finally get called back out to the aircraft to continue the flight to Omaha, Nebraska and prepare the aircraft once again. We are notified that it would be another hour till we hear what's going on since the de-ice line is nearing the 2 hour mark, and once again, we sit for about 2 hours in the plane just waiting. Mind you, I've been at work since 10:25AM and I've only been paid for about 1.5 hours and it's already 4:30PM. A ramp agent comes aboard and tell us that we've been Code Sixed - Cancelled and I get a call: Instead of 5 legs today which turned into 1 leg to Omaha, I will be operating a flight to Kileen, Texas departing at 6:55PM. So, I get to sit another 2 hours unitl we depart. To make the story short, I finish the day with a 15 hour duty day, 4.5 hours of block time (hours in the aircraft actually getting paid) and now I sit here blogging in Kileen, Texas and instead of getting back to Atlanta at 8:00AM, I'm not due in till 4:00PM extending my entire schedule! YEA for me!

Here is another video with actual pictures of the snow on the wings of the aircraft.

Crazy Days in KPIA

The last roundtrip that I had was to Peoria, Illinois where my captain and I decided to walk around the afternoon that we got there.  It started snowing quite a bit and the walk turned into a rather long, cold and windy one.  We headed to the theater to watch National Treasure: Book of Secrets and we also got to watch Rambo.  They were both entertaining but I can't necessarily say that Rambo was for everyone.  It's for those who like 70s - 80s style shoot-em up no plot kind of thing.  I liked for what it was and that's how I usually enjoy things anyways.  Book of Treasures was interesting and just fun, as all Disney movies are. 

So, back to the walk, before we arrived at the theater, we hung a left to the Walmart where I bought a $4.00 beanie cap.  It saved me on my walk back to the hotel and I even slept with it because it was just that cold.  The temp dropped from 18F to 8F and it snowed about 6 inches that very night. 

We woke up that morning and got downstairs for a 5:00AM van time and was alerted that the van driver couldn't make it out of his home, a taxi was going to take 1.5 hours and that they were trying to find someone else to take us.  It all worked out about 45 minutes later so I can't say that it was that  bad.  I enjoy biscuits and gravy, an orange, and some frosted flakes for breakfast. 

I got to the airport and it looked fun.  Along the way in the van, the driver had a news radio station on and they said that the Department of Transportation of Illinois alerted that the roads were "treacherous" and that no one should be driving.  Look at what we go through to get our flights done!  The airport runways were great as the ground crews kept them clean throughout the night but the ramp area where the plane was parked over night was horrible.  Here's a picture of it.  I was basically doing my preflight in 6" of snow and having it leak into my shoes and up my pant legs.  It was fun for about 10 seconds then I got over it.  =) 

Check it out...Enjoy!