2020-03-20

Flag Laziness : 2020-03

CORVID?  No, just laziness.

I love flags.  What they stand for, the symbolism, the simplicity.  But a pet peeve of mine is a flag that looks like crap.  This picture was taken in Austin, and during the corona craze, but this amount of wear and tear is pure laziness.  It would take about 10 minutes to fix this.  If asked, I would say this is below Hyatt's standard.  But Texas?!  If other Texans only knew.  Come on, Hyatt and Texas!

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2020-03-17

Why I Love Aviation 1 : 2020-03

This post was going to be in the Why I Love Airfields series, but this is more about what's on airfields and actually flying.  So I started a new series, Why I Love Aviation.  I'm surprised I hadn't started it before.

One cool thing about flying for a flag carrier is you get to use great equipment.  Here is an almost immaculate engine, a CFM56 (7 series), on the left wing of one our 737s.  I'm amazed at jet engines in general, but when I see a pristine engine like this, it makes me stop and marvel at the engineering.  And they just work hour after hour after hour.

This is another shot of the same engine (left), and the APU (auxiliary power unit) of a 737-900ER.  While the tail isn't particularly amazing and/or sexy, I continue to be struck by it's size and height.  If you were to stand the previous jet I flew on it's tail, the nose would barely pass the top of this tail.  And you could stack about two C172s below the horizontal tail.  And 73s aren't the big in the airline world (see below).  Amazing!  

737 in front of a 777

I flew in a C172L the other day to give a check out to a student pilot.  The plane is a new purchase of the flight school and is immaculate.  It definitely has more than 5.3 hours but I've never flown an airplane with a HOBBS this low (above).  While it is an airplane in perfect condition, it only has a whopping 150 hp.  Not the best setup for an airplane operating at a field of 6877 feet. 

This is the plane, N2830Q (1971, by the way)
One nice thing about corona is available seats for commuting.  This is the first single-digit seat (left) I've had since starting with United.  On the right is an example of some of my favorite landscapes.  Found between the Rockies and Sierra Nevada, it is the expanse that looks like a combination of the Moon and Mars.  Every time I see it, I want to be raging across it low-level in a high-powered aircraft.  High-power is nice when you're low and/or in the mountains.

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2020-03-06

United in Vegas : 2020-03

Took my first trip to Vegas with United.  Actually, it was my second but the first with a nice layover.  Enough time to allow me to have a beer, eat, gamble $5, and walk the Strip.  Pretty awesome since I hadn't been there for about 13 years.  I was in Vegas only a year ago, but not on the Strip.  Funny how time flies by.

Enroute to starting the trip, I sat next to an epic corona virus survivor.  Latex gloves, respirator, sealed glasses and earphones.  He even took a couple shots from an inhalator before we departed.  He might have been super asthmatic, but I assume he was corona-paranoid.  I get the protection, but the funny thing is he entered and exited the aircraft without the ensemble.  If you're paranoid about air travel, why would you enter/exit the airplane without the straight-from-a-movie getup?


My sister-in-law asked about the hotels we stay in. If anyone complains about the accommodations we receive, they have lost touch with reality. Just look at this room - and only walking distance from the Strip. We get treated very well.
Since we were staying at the MGM Grand, I felt obligated to take a picture of Leo who guards the entry.  I didn't know that he is the largest bronze statue in America and the Western Hemisphere.  Regardless of Leo's claim to fame, it was an absolutely epic day.  Clouds in Vegas and about 60 degrees.  So perfect.  Almost 100% of the time, I love Las Vegas.

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2020-03-01

Why I Love Airfields 12 and Meadowlake : 2020-03

Finally flew again at Meadowlake (KFLY) with Spring Aviation.  Flew with them five years ago and it was good to be back.  It was an early flight, but a beautiful day.  Airplane worked like a champ, but a 160 hp at elevation is about the minimum power to haul me around.  I flew in N99243, a C172P.

Here she is after our flight.  This is why this post is also "Why I Love Airfields 12".  Just look at that scene.  You would never guess it's a pretty busy airfield.  Looks like I parked at someone's farm, and the hangar in the background could just as well be a barn.

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2020-02-27

Why I Love Airfields 11 : 2020-02

A friend of mine sent me an epic picture of the Rick Aviation fleet basking in a beautiful night...

How cool is this?  Skyhawks are legends.

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2020-02-24

Cancun : 2020-02

I finally made it to Cancun (or Mexico for that matter) courtesy of an airliner.  We had a longer layover which was nice because I could visit the beach.  We stayed in a great hotel - the Marriott Cancun Resort - which was right on the water.  

These are shots from my room.  Above is just the hotel next door, but I thought it could make a cool painting or drawing.  Below is the next morning.  Perfect day.  And the water was perfect, too!  I actually got whistled at by the life guards.  I'm assuming I was too far out...not sure.  I hand't packed very well for the beach, but I made it work.  It was very nice.

We arrived in the evening, but not too late to visit the Blue Gecko Cantina.  It's famous and I'd heard about it many times before so it was great to finally see it.  And their food was great!  I think I had the Coco Loco Shrimp Tacos.  Delicious.

After playing in the ocean, I tried one of the restaurants right next to the hotel.  It was Champions Sports Bar.  You never know what to expect with a hotel eatery, but I have to say, this was one of the best burgers I've had.  Incredibly tender, juicy and tasty!

This is the front of the Marriott.  I loved the white / blue contrast.  Very resort-ish or Greek Island.

Cancun exceeded my expectations for sure.  I imagined a lower-end environment catering to Spring Breakers.  Obviously, a lot of people do go there for that, but it seemed much more higher class and certainly suitable for families.  If you can make it, go see it for yourself!

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2020-02-22

SFMOMA | 2020-02

One nice thing about sitting reserve is visiting / seeing things you may otherwise not.  San Fran obviously has plenty to see and on my most recent visit, I Ubered over to their Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA.  On the way over, my driver said that de Young is better.  Not necessarily what I wanted to hear, but now I have my next place to visit.  Overall, I thought the SFMOMA was great.  Plenty to see, on site eateries, and a very nice building.  It is a hair expensive, but welcome to California and/or San Francisco.  Here is my summary of things that caught my eye, but are in the order of viewing - not necessarily their meaning / attraction to me.

The entry - completely downtown.

my ticket

Left:  Franz Marc, Steiniger Weg (Stony Path), 1911/12
Right:  Arthur Dove, Silver Ball No 2, 1930

Years ago I paid little attention to expressionism, cubism, or most abstract art.  I was of the notion that if a painting didn't look real, it was a waste of time.  That has changed and Marc's painting is something I can really appreciate.  I think it's wonderful and still conveys exactly what he wanted to convey.  It's also 108 years old which I think is amazing.  It seems so ahead of its time.  Dove was an early American modernist, and is often considered the first American abstract painter.  I thought Silver Ball No 2 was great.  Just a silver ball on some kind of a stand with a great landscape...simple.

Left:  Josef Albers, Homage to the Square: Starting, 1968
Right:  Henri Matisse, Femme au chapeau (Woman with a hat), 1905

"Homage to the Square" is actually a series which occupied Albers for 25 years and includes hundreds of paintings.  I'm not necessarily a huge fan of this work, but no matter what anyone says...he did it first.  In other words, if the thought is 'anyone could do that', the answer is, but they didn't.  Albers is famous for squares.  Further, when you realize he was more interested in how your eyes perceive and manage the colors than the square itself, you'll probably give him some slack.  I had to take a picture of Matisse's "Femme au chapeau" just because.  It's a painting of his wife, Amélie, and the hat is likely one of her creations.  Matisse was asked what color of dress she was wearing.  He said "black, of course".  That's awesome and probably true because he didn't need a colorful dress for his mental palette. 

Left:  Roberto Matta, Chamboles les amoureuses (Lovers in Shambles), 1946
Right:  Max Ernst, La famille nombreuse (the Large Family), 1927 

I have liked surrealism for quite some time, but I don't particularly like Matta's painting shown here.  What really caught my eye (I actually walked back to the painting) was how the figures seemed to emerge from the painting.  I was the excellent technique of the background that pushes them forward.  The background is out of focus when compared to the crispness of the figures.  I'll imagine he did this on purpose, but it's one of those things where it might have just worked out.  Ernst was a prolific artist and a pioneer of the Dada movement and surrealism. He's credited with the 'invention' of frottage and grattage.  Artist's, right?  But I do love this painting.  Not sure exactly what it is...the darkness, the shapes, the highlights.  I think it's great.  I struggle with boldness when I paint so maybe I'm a bit envious.

Aaron Lade, Northwest Maroon, 2020

So here's the thing about art.  If you like it, you like it.  If you don't, you don't.  If you try to hard to understand it, you'll probably be frustrated.  If this were hanging in a museum of modern art, you would see dozens of people stopping by daily and pondering its "depth" and all the emotions it evokes and etc, etc.  It would be considered 'worthy' because it's in a museum.  The reality is, this is a picture I accidentally took of who knows what.  Art.  On that note, the amount of time I usually spend in a photography exhibit is the amount of time it takes to walk through it.  If you like it, you like it - and in those instances it might take me longer to walk through.  But sixteen pictures of a bed with different flowers in the center is to me, lazy.  And then the audacity to call it "Untitled" just flaunts the laziness.  I still separate art from photography.  In my world, photos in an art gallery are photos in an art gallery.  That's no comment on the quality or effectiveness of the photos.  In fact, when you have to work for a photo, that changes things.

Left:  Mark Rothko, No 14, 1960, 1960
Right:  Yves Klein, Untitled Anthropometry (Ant 154), 1961 

It's hard to comment on this painting.  It's simply a work that grabs my attention.  Simple, geometric, but not geometric, and great colors.  Just for a point of reference, another Rothko painting, "Orange, red, yellow", which captivates me much less, sold for 86 million in 2012.  People like what they like.  Klien's "Ant 154" is one of his works where he's using what he called "living brushes".  Models drenched in pigment would imprint their bodies on large sheets of paper while an orchestra played one-note symphonies composed by Klein.  The pigment was IKB ... International Klein Blue.  He made his own pigment to match his universe.  I liked the flow of the painting and the 'living' edges.

Left:  Edward Hopper, Intermission, 1963
Right:  Ellsworth Kelly, Cité 1951, 1951

I think Hopper's work is great.  He was a realist and his ability to capture all he captures in his paintings is what I would say is "it".  He's got 'it' and artists strive to have 'it'.  This painting is to some "ho-hum", but even if that is your take, you can't help but build your own story.  It makes you stop and think.  Why is she there alone?  What's the show or event?  What's her deal?  Why didn't she leave during intermission?  Many paintings make you ask what it is or what it is 'supposed' to be, but Hopper forces you to invent a story while he taps into all your memories.  I only posted Kelly's work because he had a dedicated section in the museum.  One thing I did like about his take on art was his works were never representations of anything.  His works stemmed from isolated images that caught his eye.  Perfect for those who struggle with the "what is this" question.  It's nothing.  Rather it's the emotion sparked by a random sighting.

Left:  Clyfford Still, (unknown)
Right:  Philip Guston, Back View, 1977

I liked the edges and colors and 'nothing' of Still's paintings.  He was one of the leading figures in the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, but seemed a bit of a snob.  He believed you couldn't appreciate his art unless fully immersed.  He would refuse exhibitions and sales unless he was guaranteed all his work would be displayed together.  Classic artist.  I don't necessarily like Guston's work, but I thought this was a great representation of a back view.  It is when he departed from abstraction and started depicting identifiable subjects.  He clings to coats and shoes although the why is unknown.

Left:  Sigmar Polke, The Spirits That Lend Strength Are Invisible I, 1988
Right:  Gerhard Richter, Lesende (Reader), 1994

I liked the size and abstractness of Polke's work.  The one above is tellurium and artificial resin on canvas.  That might not mean much, but to the observer, it's shiny.  That's an interesting twist on an abstract painting.  I think he enjoyed the medium more (or as much as) the image itself.  And this is a very large painting which is always a bit more impressive.  Initially, I walked right through Richter's exhibit.  But then I realized these 'photos' were paintings.  He has a skill of adding just the right 'movement' in his paintings which is impressive in paint.  The reader above is holding a paper with some slight wrinkling and her hair is actively reflecting the light.  There was another painting of a girl on a swing and her hair was flowing in the breeze.  At the time of this post, he is still alive at 88 years old.

Gerhard Richter, Mirror, Blood Red, 1991

Another Richter, this is oil on glass.  I thought it one of the best paintings (because I'm in it and anyone can be in it), but it's also eerily similar to Northwest Maroon (above).  Other than being reflective, this isn't much different than the random picture I took of who knows what.  But this piece is large and in a gallery so it must be better, right?  I say that in jest - not to distract from Richter's work.  

If you're in San Francisco and have the time, I highly recommend a visit to SFMOMA.

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2020-02-17

Bridge Life - Red Roof to Dossier

I wrote about Bridge Life near Burlingame, but not really about the actual "bridges".  I've spent quite a bit of time at the Red Roof Plus which is withing walking distance of Burlingame and only minutes from the airport.  This has been a favorite 'bridge' because of that location and because of price.  I don't know the star rating of this place (probably 2 or 3) but it does have its own quaintness.

One side of the hotel has a random area of this paneling with a single bird house attached.  Has nothing to do with anything, but it's become somewhat of a welcome sign.  Another great feature is there is a 24/7 restaurant literally 10 feet away.  Zero feet away if you go through the lobby.  In other words, it's connected to the lobby but not the hotel.  It is Leann's Cafe and I fully recommend it.  You can order anything off the menu regardless of the time of day and even get a beer.  From breakfast to stir fry to noodles to burgers.  Pretty handy and pretty good for the price! 

One thing cool about Bridge Life (and airpower) is you can see lots of bridges all over the country.  Some are very nice.  Below are shots of the Dossier in Portland.  Very cool, very nice, and right down town.  I imagine it's pricey, but if you want a cool place to stay downtown, I'd try it.

One nice thing about being downtown is I could walk to a restaurant that was open.  Just a couple blocks away was the Red Star Tavern.  As it was late, I couldn't order from the full menu which was perfect to help with portion control.  I'm not a huge Caesar salad guy (because you never know how much dressing it'll have), but theirs was fantastic!  Great presentation, perfect amount of dressing and delicious.

This is just a side note.  As a first officer, it's kind of cool to see your position actually painted on the outside of the jet.  This is on the left of the jet...the captain and first officer are flipped on the right side.  The big metal oval is to keep paint and what not out of the static ports.

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2020-01-29

Bridge Life - Burlingame

I've been staying in a pretty good location (and paying for it) in San Francisco - just outside Burlingame, California.  It is a very cool town with some of the most impeccable houses I've seen.  It's a little bit like a movie / storybook.  And, I will admit, I do love the weather/temps here.
Downtown Burlingame.

Just one example of the "perfect" houses of Burglingame.

On one of my walk-arounds, I visited the Peninsula Museum of Art.  I had no big expectations but it was relatively nearby so I took a look.  I was actually pretty cool.  Entry fee was donation only and it also houses individual artists' studios.  I'd never seen that before and they encouraged you to treat them as part of the exhibits.  If the artist was there and/or the door open, you could visit and browse around.  Pretty cool.

The first exhibit was work of a "wirest", Diane Komater.  Pretty interesting medium, I have to say.  And with impressive detail.  "I create 3D drawings using various gauges of annealed steel wire.  I draw in the air!" says the artist.  One side effect (intended or not) are the unusual reflections.

I failed to get the title of the left picture.  "Helen" is in the center and "Hymn" on the right.

I'm not necessarily a big fan of cityscapes but, like music, a good song is a good song.  This is "Singing the Blues", and is just one of several acrylics with stunning detail.  You can see the effect that level of detail creates.  And, I would say the artist, Lynette Cook, is a master of shadows.  As I often struggle with being bold enough with my contrasts - these paintings remind me going bold pays dividends.


This last painting was one of many landscapes by artist, Carolyn Shaw.  I thought they were great and she was actually in her studio the day I walked through.  That was a nice touch.


This is the museum entrance and courtyard.  I love this architecture and concrete is awesome.  Aside from the art, I'm glad I visited because the building is scheduled to be torn down to create space for condos.  It's a nice space for music, studios, a gallery and art instruction.  Tough to exchange for condos.

To wrap up the excursion, I got a bite at Maverick Jack's which is in a former train station.  It was nice because the trains still pass by as you eat.  And trains are cool.

Cool building and awesome beer glasses.

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