Sunday, December 28, 2008

Here's what happened in 2008 at my job:

- We moved into a new office at the airport and also started a friendly business relationship with a much larger scheduled carrier. The carrier now does our maintenance and we rent hangar space from them, and things are working out well - they are straightforward and honest and I trust them.

- The high price of fuel kicked our butts for the first half of the year. The insane prices we had to pay for Jet-A 6 months ago effectively raised our Direct Operating Cost (D.O.C.) by $200/hour for the entire year. In other words, we spent about $40,000 more on fuel for the same amount of flying. Not fun.

- The airplane behaved and we didn't have a single major unscheduled repair. One thing I absolutely love about this job is that my boss is a pilot too and he's not afraid to spend money where it's needed, like making sure the plane is in top condition at all times. We have a deferred defect system in place that allows us to put off fixing certain items if they break - we have never used it as we have never deferred a defect - we just get it fixed before we fly again.

- We went carbon-neutral, and I posted about it here and promptly got mugged for it, so I'll just shut up about that now and quit while I'm behind.

- We behaved and passed audits from Transport Canada (operations division), The Canadian Transportation Agency, The Canadian Business Aviation Association and one from the good folks at Transport Canada (maintenance division).

- The economic recession in the last half of the year has certainly affected charter flying, and we will finish the year with about 25% less charter hours than last year. Thank goodness our primary mission is to serve our company's management personnel on company flights - that means charter revenue is nice, but it doesn't make the difference between being able to put food on the table or not. Our parent company is in sound financial shape, and their business strategy is rock-solid, and I don't anticipate our paycheques bouncing in 2009.

In my personal life:

- Lisa and I celebrated 8 years together, and got married a few months later. My parents both attended, along with relatives from Ireland and all around Canada. I will remember walking with my mom and dad down the aisle until the day I croak.

- Lisa and I moved into a nice neighborhood, into a house with a back yard. It didn't take long to figure out that we are the bad neighbors with our parties and lax attitude toward mowing the lawn and refusing to put robotic blinking-LED-enhanced reindeer on our front lawn from November 1st to January 1st, so that's fun.

- My 21-year old brother came to live with us, and is currently surfing the web upstairs as I write this. It's good practice for when we have kids, and I'm learning new words every day.

- My best friend's dad passed away, only a few years after retiring from his job as Training Captain on the Boeing 747 for Air Canada. That really sucks, and my heart goes out to my friend for his loss - my mind short-circuits at the thought. I'm halfway done a post about the average lifespan of retired pilots - contrary to what you might think, retired commercial pilots actually live longer than the general population - there's a little more to the story of course, but again, that's a subject for another upcoming post.

- I went to my high school 20th anniversary reunion and was amazed at how people change when you drop 20 years on them. I'm 37 but feel 15.

- I lost 15 pounds. I'm sure I'll find them again, I just have to retrace my steps.

Here's what I intend to do better in 2009:

1. Donate at least 10% of my take-home income or 10% of my free time to charity. I have it pretty good, and I will try to never forget that I enjoy a level of privilege that the vast majority of people do not.

2. Quit drinking energy drinks. Why am I paying $3/can to feel nervous and irritable? I can do that just by turning on Fox news and watching Neocons explain the need for more war.

3. Grow a garden in our back yard. My mother has an incredible green thumb and I'd like to see if I can at least get a green pinkie going.

4. I really have to quit giving people the finger in traffic. I don't want to end up running into someone even crazier than myself and getting on the wrong end of a baseball bat because I flipped someone off for cutting me off.

5. Knock Lisa up. Don't worry, she knows about this plan. Lisa is very organized, and she says we are having our first kid in May 2010. Doing the math, that tells me that July 2009 is going to be a productive month. Mom, if you are reading this, I'm sorry for oversharing :)

6. Fly an airplane I have never flown before. In 2008 I flew the Citation 550 and a Cessna 172, and that was it (I flew a Gulfstream IV also, but it was in the simulator, and even though the simulator was a 20 million dollar one, it's not the same as the real plane.) They are both great machines, but I want to spread my wings a little further, variety being the spice of life and all that. That doesn't mean I want to quit my job - I love my job and fully intend to stay there until I retire or get fired - it just means I will likely end up paying some outrageous amount of money to rent a plane I have never flown before.

7. I want to spend some time on this blog and gather and clean up some posts for eventual publication. I don't know about a book, maybe just a magazine article or two. But I want some sort of ink-on-paper record of some of the stories, in case the internet gets unplugged by accident.

8. I want to travel to another continent in 2009, I don't care which one. Well, maybe not Antarctica, maybe I'll save Antarctica for 2010.

9. I want a freakin' cat already. Who said all resolutions have to be onerous? :)

10. I want to show more kindness, both to my loved ones and to strangers, because that's really what life is all about.


kt said...

#2 and #4 are my new resolutions now! Although I don't think I can stick to #4... but I will try to keep my finger out of eyesight to the people I'm flipping off!!!

#8, work sent me to a new continent last year... I WOULD like to go to Antarctica though!

Grant (Falcon124) said...

Hey there - I'm just getting into your blog and haven't had a chance to go back in time through the full history (linked over via Aviatrix's blog - have read her whole history and working through another blog, then onto yours :)

Re: the Carbon Neutral - I'm one of the ones who's very pleased to hear that you've done this (damn, hope this doesn't bring the "it's a farce" crew out in the comments - sorry if it does).

Know what you mean about losing weight - I live in fear that the kilos I've been losing will sneak back up on me again (they've been trying over Christmas, that's for sure :)

As to trying another continent, have you come down under to Australia? We're kinda like Canadians but a little more British, apparently. We do seem to resonate better with Canadians than yanks, that's for sure :)

Keep feeling younger than you are - age is only a concept!


Aviatrix said...

Aww! I love your resolutions! No wonder you wanted a group effort.

See Dagny re cats. I think she might have too many.

elg said...

re the garden, check out square-foot gardening. Mel is a bit, well, melodramatic, but the principles are sound and it can't get any easier.

Soaring Student said...

Thanks for a fun year of reading.

Re the cat - my daughter also lives here in Ottawa, near the Parkway (a road that runs through NCC land along the Ottawa river). Periodically folks with kittens dump them in a box along the parkway, and she (and a girlfriend) trap them, pay the vet bills, socialize them, and try to find them homes. They don't give them to the humane society since the OHS euthenize the majority of cats they get, usually within about 4 days.

I think they have one cat available right now, about 6 months old.

= = =

I agree on the weight.... with full tanks and my instructor, we are 3 pounds under max takeoff weight. I either need to lose some pounds, or switch to a Cessna.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on #1 & #6.

I think I'll aim to donate 10% of both (probably my $$ to Hope Air & my time to Habitat).

#6 will be achieved by going for my PPL.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog, always have. Delurking here :).
Re cats... you live fairly close to me I think. Anyway, the Burlington Humane Society is rife with WONDERFUL cats (I volunteer there). Just a thought. Cats are a work of art, and no home is complete without a couple.
Happy New Year!!

Tyler Lyman said...

I really enjoy reading your updates, they are always insightful and full of fun. I thought I should warn you however that as a Canadian (I'm from South of the border) you should reconsider when you knock Lisa up. Malcom Gladwell's newest book 'Outlier' provides an interesting perspective as it relates to when kids are born and their success in life. His analogy is the Canadian Junior Hockey program -- as any good Canadian I'm sure you want your kid to grow up to be an NHL player and therefore you should really be getting Lisa 'knocked up' in March as apposed to May.

I read your blog the same night I began reading Outlier and had to comment. Tyler

Anonymous said...

PS: BHS is a no-kill shelter :)

Aluwings said...

Thanks for the update - and all the best with those goals! Really enjoy your insights on the industry.

Happy OH! Nine!

Anonymous said...

My goal is to be a grandmother by May 2010.And to read your first volumn in draft then too. As to gardens, start small with a patch smaller than you think you need or want.Veggies are great but need you to be around to weed and water and harvest.Start with the hardier ones like spuds, squashes,corn and onions.Greens and herbs early in the Spring. Rhubarb is good, too in partial-shade with water to get it started.Strawberries especialy the everbearing ones are amazingly easy and sweet.Happy New Year darlings.

Anonymous said...

Nice post.
Try this stuff for your act of kindness:

Mr.B said...

Hi! The internet cannot be unplugged. It is by design redundant and decentralized. (it was designed to be able to withstand a nuclear attack).
Moreover, no one owns the internet, the internet is just a set of open protocols and standards that are used to interconnect the world.
Now there are scenarios where a large scale virus attack would bring the worldwide network to its knees by overflowing it with noise, or a large scale physical warfare on major links (submarine cables and satellites) would reduce its capacity to pre-1980 levels, yet it is still of the realm of science fiction.
Anyway, this particular website may go down though, so keep a copy of your data!