Saturday, April 28, 2007

 

Not a Pilot Anymore?

It's been over three months since my last flight (Last Flight?). The flight school has left messages asking why they haven't seen me for a while.

If I want to fly one of the flight school's planes now, I'll have to fly with an instructor. Their insurance company requires that pilots go no more than 90 days without a flight to remain "current," and I've exceeded that.

As far as the FAA is concerned, I am legal to fly until November, when the two-year anniversary of my checkride happens. After that, I'll need to do a flight review with a certified instructor. But what the FAA thinks doesn't matter as much as what airplane owners think: if I have to rent a plane, I need to play by the owner's rules.

It was a beautiful day today in Georgia. Nice puffy clouds, good visibility, 10-knot winds. It would have been a great day to fly. But I know that a month from now, the hazy thunderstorm-filled summer season will start, making recreational flying impossible.

So, I'm thinking that I'm not going to bother with flying until September or October, if at all. It's a long time to wait, but by then, maybe I'll be able to afford it again.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

 

Tax Day 2007

Officially, the deadline for filing income taxes this year is April 17, but I went ahead and finished today. That's two whole days before the deadline—I almost feel like a responsible adult.

I consider myself lucky that, for the first few years of my career, I was able to file the 1040EZ form (which I did during my lunch break every April 15), and by the time I started making too much money to use that form, tools like TurboTax were available to make the process relatively painless. I can't imagine what it must have been like to do taxes before the days of electronic preparation and filing. I vaguely remember a few weekends when my parents had tax forms spread across all the horizontal surfaces in our home.

This year, it was easy, because I don't have a house or other investments, I don't have any dependents, and I didn't have any income other than employment, so I could just take the standard deduction and keep hitting TurboTax's "Next" button until it told me I was finished. Next year, things will get more complicated, since I'll have to handle both personal and corporate taxes, so I suspect it will take more than an hour.

I wish QuickBooks was as easy to use as TurboTax.

An aside: among gun people, April 15 is sometimes known as "National Buy-a-Gun Day." The idea is that you use your tax refund to add to your gun collection in celebration of our Second Amendment rights. I don't plan to buy another gun myself, but plenty of other people like to rationalize their obsessive gun-buying.

I'm not doing anything special with my $2,000 refund. I'll splurge whenever my deadbeat clients start paying me.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

 

Learning Italian

It looks I'll be traveling to Rome in a few weeks, so I'd like to quickly learn a little Italian. Does anyone have any suggestions for good training programs/materials?

I've found some free Italian lessons on the BBC web site. I've learned my first ten words!

[UPDATE: The trip has been cancelled. I'm still trying to pick up Italian, but my heart isn't really in it anymore.]


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

 

Fencing Class Cancelled

I was looking forward to learning how to use a rapier to fight pirates and evil sheriffs' henchmen, but unfortunately the fencing class I scheduled has been cancelled. The phone message didn't give a reason for the cancellation, but as it was cancelled the day before it was supposed to start, I suspect they just didn't get enough people to sign up.

That's OK. It's not legal to carry a rapier in Georgia anyway.


Friday, April 06, 2007

 

Instant Messaging

If anyone reading my blog feels like talking to me in real time, here are my IM addresses:

Yahoo! Messenger: kristopher_d_johnson

AOL: KDJDude

MSN: kristopher_johnson@hotmail.com

Just tell me you found my address on my blog, and I'll be happy to add you to my friends' list.

If you want to sell me Viagra or penny stocks, please don't.


 

FBI Agent Possibly Killed by Colleague

This news story indicates that an FBI agent was probably killed by another FBI agent.

It's a sad story, but it illustrates an important point: law enforcement officers (LEOs) make mistakes, despite the training they've received. In contrast, "civilians" with concealed-carry permits are less likely to accidentally shoot the wrong person than LEOs are.

I note this only as a contrary opinion to those who believe that only "professionals" should be granted the right to carry firearms.

But I expect I'll get more responses about drive-thru etiquette.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

 

Drive-Thru Etiquette

Fast-food drive-thru lanes are for the convenience of everyone, not just for you. If you cannot complete your transaction efficiently, you owe it to everyone else to park your car and go inside to order and receive your food.

If you are ordering meals for more than four people, please go inside. If the driver of the car is unable to recite the orders for all occupants of the car, please go inside.

If you have questions about the menu, or need some time to make up your mind, please go inside.

If your big f'ing truck has a big f'ing engine that is so f'ing loud that you can't communicate over the intercom, please go inside.

If you want something "weird," like a hamburger without a bun or a drink consisting of one half Sprite, one quarter Coke, and one quarter root beer, please go inside.

Do not use your cell phone while ordering or while paying.

If you want to redeem coupons, please go inside.

If you are not willing to answer, "Yes, that's fine" to any question the clerk asks, please go inside.

Take whatever is in the bag they give you, and go. If you are one of those picky people who insists on getting exactly what was ordered, please go inside.


Monday, April 02, 2007

 

I Must Have This

I've found the perfect piece of equipment for my home office: link


Sunday, April 01, 2007

 

QuickBooks or Bust

I've written before about QuickBooks. Every time I use it, I get angry, so I don't use it any more than I have to. Unfortunately, that means that invoices get sent out late, bank statements are waiting to be reconciled, and I still haven't figured out how to do payroll so that the corporation can pay it's #1 employee.

But Kris Johnson, CFO, can't put these things off forever, so I bought a couple of books about QuickBooks, and I'm diving in.

If you never hear from me again, it's because QuickBooks led me to take my own life. Avenge me!

[Update: The books I bought describe QuickBooks 2007. Unfortunately, I have QuickBooks 2006, so the books are less helpful than I'd hoped. There is no special upgrade price for QuickBooks, so it will cost me $200 to get the current version. So do I upgrade, stick with what I've got, or choose a different product that's not going to cost me $200/year?]


 

CPR Training

I've received a lot of useless training in the last few years, so I decided I should get some training that might actually have some value. I signed up for a CPR class with the Red Cross. I hope this helps make up for any bad karma associated with the weapons training.

The class covered CPR for adults, children, and infants. The class went from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM, with a 40-minute lunch break. The class was held at the local Red Cross offices.

There were thirteen people in the class, ten of whom were young women. I think the Red Cross should publicize this fact, to attract more males.

The instructor and the training materials were very good. The Red Cross really has its act together when it comes to training. Each student received a manual, a couple of quick-reference cards, disposable gloves, alcohol swabs and breathing barriers. We also each got our own "face" to put on the CPR training mannequins. The infant mannequins were shared between partners, but I was lucky enough to be the odd man who didn't have to share.

The class went at a brisk pace. I never felt bored. During the early part of the class, we all laughed a little at the stilted acting in the training videos, but the content of the videos was very good.

I had some CPR training in high school. Most of that is a blur, but I remember enough to notice that many things about CPR are simpler now. For example, in my earlier training they made a big deal about measuring to find the exact spot above the sternum where one should apply pressure; now they just say to put your hand on the center of the chest. They also used to have different numbers of repetitions of breaths and compressions for adults and children, but now they use the same numbers for everyone. They no longer try to check for a pulse on adult victims before starting chest compressions.

The mood of the class turned somber after one young woman in the class told her story of how, as a young girl, she and her brother lost their mother to a heart attack. They had called 911, but the two kids had to keep running back and forth between the room where their mother was and the room where the phone was, and the mother died before help arrived. She broke down while telling her story, and it was clear that she blamed herself for not being able to do more. The instructor responded by reassuring her that she had done the right thing by calling 911 and doing what the operator said, and that no matter how well you are trained, or how perfectly you perform the skills, sometimes the victim doesn't make it, and those who try to help should not feel guilty when that happens.

Anyone taking a CPR class should be aware that there is a lot of physical activity. Everyone was sweaty and winded after giving CPR for two minutes (the room was a bit warm). The instructors do make allowances for people who are physically unable to perform some of the exercises, but in any event, make sure you wear comfortable clothes if you take the class.

After scoring 100% on the final exam, which wasn't too difficult, I now have another certification card to put into my already-bulging wallet. I guess it's time to take out the pilot certificate.


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