Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I just had a long chat with the owner of my company. It was a pleasant chat, and we had a few good chuckles. But there was a subtext, which I will share with you in my own candid, naiive way.

You're never really anonymous on the internet. I mean, I'm not, and I have made no attempt to hide my identity other than not mentioning my actual name and home address. But as a reader of this blog, you aren't exactly anonymous either.

Let me explain further:

It has come to my attention that not all my audience is sympathetic to my postings. You'd think the simple reaction would be "This sucks, so I won't read it any more."

Not so.

Some (obscene gerund) guy called my office last week and left a message on my voice mail about how I was endangering my clients lives by posting "I have a flight to Chicago on Monday", as it clearly gave specific information to terrorists who would then presumably lay in wait for us, and then do unspeakable things to us, all because I gave them our confidential flight itinerary. Never mind that I didn't mention what airport in Chicago (there are at least a dozen in the local area), what time, or even what plane I would be taking, and whether or not it was a corporate or a charter flight. Clearly I gave Osama the upper hand.

What the hell what I thinking?

Well, to be honest, I wasn't. I mostly post this blog for my mom; she's far away and it makes me feel closer to her to show her the details about my life, including my job. It never occured to me that some people might think that "I have a flight to Chicago on Monday" might hurt my company or endanger my safety.

Anyway, I listened to the voice mail and decided to remove the links on my blog that used to let my readers track my aircraft. I'm not worried about terr'ists so much as I was worried that the person who called my voice mail might be a stalker, and even though having my own internet stalker is very exciting in a way, I simply don't have the time and energy energy to deal with that particular kind of person. I mean, I don't even own a taser.

So I removed the link, and I went through my blog to remove any sort of specific reference to any sort of things that might possibly be remotely construed as possibly invading the privacy of my company or the people who I fly with.

The next day, the same guy left this comment on my blog.

"I see that the nature of your blog has changed. This is a good thing. I see that you have also removed the ability for viewers to track your aircraft. This is also a good thing. I cant imagine how any corporate pilot in these days of security and terrorism, would/could knowingly divulge the itineraries of their company on the internet.

I watched as your aircraft departed from Landmark for your trip to PWK...Scary isnt it...and your boss and chief pilot and many others in the industry were watching as well.

Sadly - the conversations that you must have had with he owner and the chief pilot would have come as a complete shock to you.

Change vocations

Nice eh? Some (obscene gerund) guy hides behind his anonymity to completely creep me out, and then tells me to abandon my career as a pilot.

But it turns out this guy isn't so anonymous.

I have a hit counter on my blog. If you scroll down to the bottom left of my blog page, all the way to the bottom, you'll see it. As of this afternoon, it's just about to turn over 10,000 hits. It also has a cool secondary use, which is that it gives me all sorts of information about who visits my blog - when you visit my blog, you get more than a piece of my soul, you get a small tracking cookie from my blog that goes into your computer. Among other details, it showed me the IP address of the person who left the comment, and through some pretty advanced computer geekery mixed with a decent WHOIS ip lookup, I was able to figure out where this guy lived, and who he is.

He works for a company just across the ramp from me, and in fact was probably watching me when I flew to Chicago last week. We have never met in real life; I'm certainly happy to keep it that way, and I can only presume he will afford me the same courtesy.

Otherwise it might get awkward.

Anyway, how do I react?

It doesn't matter that the owner of my company has a link to my blog, and when I write on it I assume that he reads every post. It doesn't matter that he had a good laugh about this whole situation. What matters is that I am a professional, and I shall not portray myself as anything but that.

I will no longer be posting anything that might possibly be construed as hurting the company I work for, like when I posted that I wasn't entirely prepared for the approach into Red Lake a few weeks ago due to sudden smoke from nearby fires. It doesn't matter that I didn't actually screw up the approach, nor does it matter that safety was not comprimised in any way whatsoever. I may have given the impression that I was a human and made mistakes, and as a professional pilot, I do not make mistakes.

I will no longer publish pics of myself pretending to be asleep, even though I thought they were pretty funny, and Lisa called them 'cute'. It doesn't matter that I have never actually slept in an airplane, whether as a passenger or as a crew member. As a professional pilot, I do not sleep.

I will only be posting about trips I have already flown, so that Osama has less of a chance to take our baby jet on a rampage. As a professional pilot, I worry about 'the terror', so my clients don't have to.

I was going to talk about Lisa, and what role she plays in my life, if any, but that won't be happening. I was going to talk about the rest of my family, but I'd hate for Osama to go after them simply because they were on my blog.

So for those of you who read my blog in order to talk about my weaknesses and failings, I'm done talking about those. I can still put in several posts a week without actually taking you into my confidence, and that's how it's going to be from now on.

It's the best thing for all of us, no?


Anonymous said...

It's weird, bordering on harrassment for that bloke to call you and make veiled threats. It's sad that you feel it necessary to remove the human element of doubts, self reflections, humour, personal relationships and interior life. Surely a blog is your own voice, not the self edited, rinsed and sterilized of "the Captain speaking". Your blogs could be gathered into a book for a general audience.I hope today's stern and reactive message is temporary.KM

arf said...

You'll have to do what makes you comfortable; as a reader (who loves what you write and doesn't feel the need to criticize) I will just have to be happy with that. Fair enough.

The fact that the caller and commenter works close by tells me that you are in the realm of being a victim of harrassment. That is the sad fact, I think. If it had been some anonymous person from the other side of the world, then so what?? Annoying? Yes, but nothing more. Across the ramp: you are potentially looking at something more serious. You might consider setting up a file on what has happened--even talking to the police about this. Whether you would want to press charges is a whole other matter, but I think to protect yourself you should at least keep good records of everything that has transpired and file them away for hopefully ever.

Keep on flying. Keep on writing. I'll keep on reading.

John said...

Its really unfortunate that you have to censor your blog. The personal aspect was what made it differ from others, though I did wonder from time to time about the links to flightaware. My wife got on my case for calling her 'spouse' in one of my blogs...she thought it was impersonal. I really resented having to edit my blog for someone else. Your stalker is obviuosly a prick with low self esteem.

And besides, Bush is going to get Osama, right?

Keep up the good work...however you decide to go forward.

kiwirob said...

I'm glad that you've found out who the loser is. Probably nothing more than jealousy on their part, yet very odd.

Totally respect your call about limiting your comments - just a shame, that is all.

Anonymous said...

No! However it needs to be the best thing for you! Thoroughly enjoy your writing, hope you continue.

Shannon said...

I know exactly how you feel. Humans are cruel. Just remember there is a freedom of speech. You have a gift for story telling, don't censor yourself too much.

RJ Wannabe said...

Count me as one who enjoys your posts and the entertaining manner in which you present them.

It is a shame that you have to consider the far reaching aspects of a blog and how it may either positively or negatively impact your career and personal life.

Someone who never had the courage to "do" shouldn't have the power to make you "undo".

phil said...

well that sucks. Your blog is good reading.

zb said...

F#+§ security. I mean, no. I wanted to say f#+% paranoia. F#+? it for being such a powerful and reliable tool in election campaigns and other aspects of human societies. FüX& those who exploit it in exactly this particular way.

Tim said...

Dude, between you, John, Aviatrix and Dave, you were clearly the more open individual. You four Bloggers are required reading every morning (though Aviatrix seems to be more consistant about having something to read when I roll in to work by 0600) and I look forward to everyone's posting. I have enjoyed trying to figure out how closely you and A have crossed paths in your Great White Northern adventures. As a low-time commercial pilot, I'd started out reading blogs hoping to gain some insight into how I'm "supposed" to act the professional pilot, but along the way, I found four people with whom I could identify and came to hope that my brand of professionalism closely mirrors theirs. As for your stalker, I guess he's not clear on the concept of websites which allow the general public to track North American air traffic. A truly paranoid stalker would know that, for example, FlightAware makes ALL IFR traffic trackable, traceable and generally "unsecure". And, OMG, one could actually climb into his very own Challenger in Microsoft Flight Simulator and fly in formation (or, shudder, trade paint with) with those very same aircraft, courtesy of the live ATC feed from Reston, VA! By the way, what are you doing hoarding one of our Terroristic Lunies in CA, eh? The DHS will want him back!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the blog. It keeps me going as i pursue the flying thing. Tell the guy to piss off. Never fails HATERS are everywhere. He must really hate his job. Jealousy is a cowards MO.

Hater: across the way " Piss Off " If you hate your job, find a new one. Sully loves his.

Southern Exposure.

dave said...

Interesting post and relevant, too. I am very careful with my FL390 blog for the reasons you listed. Also, the airline's legal department has issued general warnings to all employees concerning blogs. We live in Weasel World nowadays.

You flew an MU-2? What a cool aircraft!

Aviatrix said...

I'm thinking of reining back the daily life detail on my blog, too. When I started I didn't even reveal the nature of the commercial air service my employer provided. I may return to that status, and go back to more technical posts.

I used to ride in the cockpit almost every time I was in an airliner, too. Like so many other things in life a few individuals ruin a fun thing for everyone else.

Jay said...

Hmmm...a good varmint rifle would handle some of those weasels. It amazes me that some people have so little control over their lives that they need to stalk others to feel powerful.

I'm sorry, Sully, that this [expletive deleted] has impinged on something you obvious enjoy. And you blog too!

Colin Summers said...

Love the blog and read it whenever I can. I suggest a little bit of bother for the guy across the ramp. In fact, if you post a few of his details I imagine he'll get some mail, some e-mail, maybe even a phone call from the TSA.

Dennis said...

The guy harrassing you isn't just a jerk. Anyone tracking someone else who's not "family" has issues. The warnings he gave that someone could track you for nefarious reasons sounds like projection to me. He should get a visit from someone.

You've got a great blog. It'd be too bad to see you quit.

Anonymous said...

What a nut. It's sad that such a great blog is being ruined by a complete nutcase. Here's a clue for your idiot friend:

http://www.aa.com/ lists exact flight times for every flight that American Airlines takes... every day and for months into the future.

Want to track that flight? Head over to http://www.flightaware.com and you've got it covered.

I think I'll stop flying American because they're Obviously not secure enough with my information. Annoyingly, infuriatingly paranoid freaks.

Anyway, sorry that this resulted in changes to your blog, it was most definately interesting seeing the day to day drudgery that goes with the excitement of being a corporate pilot. Thanks for all of the posts that kept us entertained.

Oshawapilot said...

I too learned the hard way that you never know who's reading your blog. As a primary student I was blogging furiously about each and every flight I took, and detailed everything that happened.

One day I said something that seemed innocent (and made me personally chuckle)...but then a few days later I learned that I apparently had quite the readership at my own airport, and the person whom I had quipped about took it quite personally.

It spiraled upwards from there, with yet more people coming out of the woodwork. I had never directly named any of them, only alluded to "the guy in the tower", or "the guy on the ramp".

I too had to do alot of blog editing, and tone down future posts.


tuomas said...

Well, it helps to think of blogging as just an electronic diary of yours. Except that you also put it on display on the places you write about. At the bulletin board of the airport lounge, at your workplace etc.. Do yourself a favor and assume everyone who you write about will be reading it the next morning. Since they very well might.

These aviation blogs by more and less experienced pilots have been very nice reading. I hope you all can find a balance that works out, it would suck to lose you all because of "idiots of the internet" :) Thanks for sharing!

Flying is a very dear hobby of mine, and it really is interesting to have a small "window" to the other parts of aviation.