Saturday, January 31, 2009

Learning To Fly

I didn't step foot onto an airplane until I was eighteen years old and in the decade that followed I flew only twice more, once to New York and once to St. John's. I didn't have the money to really go anywhere that required an airplane and my jobs didn't require all that much travel. ;)
I'm terrified of heights but those first few times I wasn't really bothered too much by the experience. Maybe it was age and the realization that I might not live forever but when I began to fly a little more regularly it began to bother me. There were a few trips back and forth to PEI when I lived there and then when I moved to Florida I became a regular altogether. A couple times a month at least for work I was off into the wide blue and while I began to get used to it, the rhythms of flight, the process at the airport, I was never an easy flyer.

After we moved back to Canada and we started a family my amount of travel with work dwindled to almost nothing, maybe once a year. And we'd make a trip or two to the Island annually but other then that we'd stay on the ground. And maybe it was age again or having a family or the removal of the routine of flying that I once knew but flying has lost any enjoyment for me. I'm not terrified of it but I am not comfortable between takeoff and landing at all.

I've been lucky enough to get across the Atlantic a few times over the last number of years and this is where I realize how little I enjoy the experience. A few years back I was winging over to London for work, an overnight trip, and while my boss slept soundly beside me, in my mind's eye I imagined (imagined, I knew it was true!) that we were only a few feet above the ocean, the instruments were worthless and the pilots oblivious and we were going in and that was it.

Crazy shit, huh? At least I can keep my lid on my fears - sometimes I imagine being in the news, the plane diverted to land in Gander, my own self pulled off, sedated and bound, taken away, fellow passengers muttering to the tv cameras about the madman who just started screaming "We're going down! We're going down!."

And for all of the times I have been in the air there's only really been one real scare, our first trip overseas, coming into Heathrow, from there we were catching a flight to Glasgow, and we were just easing in, landing gear down, just about to touch down and suddenly the engines gun and we roar up up and back into the sky and everybody gasps and as we circle for another half hour the pilot comes on and in his calm English accent (all pilots should have one) explains that there was a little mixup and we'be landing quite soon.

For fuck's sakes.


A nice win for the Oilers last night, bouncing back from Tuesday's loss. Its been an enjoyable year so far, a little frustrating at times to be sure, but they are eleven and six in their last stretch, five and two in the last seven and while they are still in the pack and the lead four teams have clearance on them, they are starting to open their own gap over some teams that are beginning to fall off the pace.

The logjam is ridiculous at present, seven teams within two points of each other, but Nashville, Colorado and LA are all falling off a bit and a bad week or two for any of them may mean its all over for them. Making up six to eight points on one team is hard enough but having to leap over three, four, five teams - not likely.

Especially when everyone is playing each other. Someone is coming out with two points and sometimes there is a Bettman point besides. On the other hand points get lost every night as well. Wild on Jack Lemaire and Vancouver play tonight and Dallas and Columbus and Anaheim and Colorado as well and so three teams are going to gain ground but there are three others who are going to lose a point or two. And soon there won't be any points to give.

And the Oilers have games on nearly all of these teams besides. They have to win them, sure, but after today they will have four games in hand on the Ducks and at worse they will be two points behind.

They're not in a bad spot.

And speaking of learning to fly the best part of this season has been watching the kids - Gilbert and Grebeshkov, Pouliot and Brodziak and Cogliano all having nice games last night. The two young Dmen giving the Oilers a wonderful top four. Brodziak becoming the go to guy on defensive zone draws and doing nice work on a PK that only allowed a couple of scoring chances last night. Cogliano with two assists, flying all night and they have to figure a way out to hold onto this guy and Gagner, do they not? And the much maligned Pouliot, no he will never be Parise or any of those other stars from that draft, but he's become a solid NHLer and for all the talk of MacT not liking him I think his icetime and the fact that he was out there protecting the lead at the end of the game speaks volumes about how the coach actually feels about the youngster.

Good times.


doritogrande said...

Love the post theme Pat. The Foo Fighers are one of my favourite bands and have been for a while though for some reason I can't appreciate what Dave did for Nirvana.

Truth be told, Grohl is a nut. Not a normal peanut mind you, but like a brazilnut or cashew, one of the fucked up nut-cousins. In fact, the man's a coconut. Grohl (and band) do things that make you wonder about their mental states ...why are they dressing up like women AGAIN?

But their music is something that I can count on to be golden. The Colour and the Shape and One by One pumped out hit after hit, and they've had some amazing tracks since then too. The band's got staying power that's hard to match. They could wind up touring for the next 15 years and I wouldn't be surprised in the least.

I had the pleasure of seeing them play in Winnipeg a couple years ago. I was drunk as hell thanks to the bantering of the opening act (Sloan). Things are getting ready to go and out of nowhere the band launches into a thundering, ear thrumming rendition of "In your honour" that felt to me like a 747 was taking off in house. Colour me impressed. But not as impressed as an acoustic "Everlong" solo. They had to sweep my jaw up after the show and hand it to me. Truly one of the best concerts I've attended.

A couple weeks ago I stumbled across a Stairway to Heaven cover attempted (poorly) by Grohl and his drummer. Only a master like Dave can pull off something this crappy and bastardized, and still come out looking like the second coming of Jesus.

So there's my abridged Foo Fighers rant. Uh...goilers?

HBomb said...

The Foo's "Learn to Fly" is an OK track. I prefer "Learning to Fly" by Petty, however.

I think of this because I watched the movie "Elizabethtown" tonight as a trade-off for watching "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" first. Worth it.

Jay said...

RyanAir is renowned for its cheap flights. I flew from Dublin to Barcelona for only 20 euros, taxes in.

The thing they don't advertise is that RyanAir flies to small airports that aren't actually in the cities you're trying to reach. So when we flew to Barcelona, we actually flew to an airport 45 minutes outside of the city. This airport is located on the plains just minus of the Pyrenees. Now, I didn't really consider this on the way over those beautiful mountains, but when you're descending onto flat terrain on the opposite side of mountains you are going to be dealing with winds straight out of the movie Twister.

I'm scared of heights, but I've never had problems flying (I think it's because once you're a certain distance above the ground, everything just feels so comically small and unreal). But not this day. As we made our descent, the wind shear caught the plane over and over. We lurched again and again like a drunk until we were a few hundred feet off the ground, and then then came a final stomach-churning drop that put us onto the tarmac. The wheels bounced at least twice, then the reverse thrusters kicked in and I felt the familiar safety of thousands of pounds of steel straining to stop before we turned into a fireball past the end of the runway.

It's the only time I've ever witnessed the passengers of an airplane erupt in wild cheering after a landing, myself included. Straight out of a movie, I tell you what.

But other than that time I love flying. ;)

Black Dog said...

Jay, yeah I've flown Ryanair a couple of times myself, Edinburgh to Dublin back in '02 and London to Dublin last year.

same - a penny for the flight plus 20 euros for taxes and all that

no idea how they make money

I've never really encountered that much turbulence, we hit sime really minor stuff a few years ago and I nearly shit my pants

I know if I ever hit the really bad stuff my heart would stop right there.

Black Dog said...

dg - yeah Grohl is nuts - the thing I love about the guy is that he just looks like he is having a great time

hbomb - I presume you have seen Snatch then? if not, take a gander - great stuff

HBomb said...

BDHS: Have I seen Snatch? More than you can imagine.

Getting that joke out of the way, and knowing you're talking about the movie - I own it. Guy Ritchie rules.

Has anyone seen that "Rocknrolla" flick he recently directed?

Oilman said...

Flew to Vegas a few years back and when we were landing at McCarran I was looking out my window and saw the start of runway zip by while we still had to be a hundred feet up - I thought to myself that this must be one hell of a long runway - then the bottom fell out, dropped about 50ft intsntly leveled long enough for me to start to enjoy the tingling feeling in my nuts and then dropped the other 50ft onto the runway. Screams followed by applause like we'd just rode fuckin' thunder mountain or something.

I was on a small plane (Dash 8 or something) from Missippi to Alabama once as well where the pilot warned us to expect some turbulance from an approaching storm that we were going to fly close to. 10 minutes later we were flying straight through it and the flight crew came around and asked all the men to move to the front of the plane to help keep the nose down - honest to god - scared the shit out of me.

Black Dog said...

perhaps this is the last topic I should have written about, reading these stories are not making me any more comfortable with the whole flying thing

oilman - that is one for the ages

hbomb - have not - have you? any good?

LittleFury said...

"Rocknrolla" is pretty much by the numbers Ritchie. He can still work teh formula, but it's getting a bit tired. There's worse ways to spend two hours, mind you. Watching the Oil, for example...