Thursday, May 28, 2009

Missing out

So while trying to arrange my travel arrangement to Houston for the big training, the Chief Pilot tells me that he thinks the training is just for actually airline employees and not open to their spouses. I fired off an email to the person in charge of the training to verify. Sure enough, it's only for employees. It would have been nice if she had mentioned that part when I initially signed up for the training over a month ago. I guess the part of the email where I said "my name is Someday and my husband is XYZ based FO Funkmeister" didn't clue her in that I was not actually an employee. I'm disappointed to say the least.

I KNOW there is some training available out there. A heard talk of it before and mentioned it to me. He just can't be bothered to find out any details about it for me. I'm trying to think of something that he wants me to do and I know is important to him so that I can not bother to find out the details, much to his frustration.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What happens if...?

Back in late 2007, I wrote this post and this post when A had some serious mechanical problems in the air. It has continued to bother me that I STILL don't know what the procedures are for family notification in the event of a flight emergency. It's a huge component of my (nearly silent, blog complaining) campaign for airlines to recognize the importance of family communication and the impact of family stress on the lives and abilities of pilots. Quite simply, as in any other career, if you are distracted by family issues your head might not be completely focused on the task at hand. And as we all know, distracted pilots can have deadly consequences. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Would it be so hard to put out a brochure or informational email/flyer detailing emergency procedures? Does it need to be top secret info? Is management hiding its head in the sand and pretending it could never happen to them? I've also decided that Airline Pilot, the fabulous (insert sarcasm if needed) magazine put out by ALPA (our pilot union) should have a monthly column for family matters. I can think of all kinds of info for spouses they could write about.

With all that in mind, I am very excited that in June, we'll be making a trip to Houston so that I can attend the Family Assistance Training being put on by the airline. This is the first step to becoming eligible to assist family members in the event of an airline crisis. I'm looking forward to this training very much. Hopefully this will not only give me an opportunity to find out more about the process and push for more communications but also (sadly) to share what I have learned through the last 18 months with others in the same situation. This may give me the opening to discuss with the company my feelings on the need for a more streamlined process for LTD. What we went through was convoluted, difficult to follow and ultimately much more difficult and confusing that it needed to be. I'd also like to bring it up to the union LTD comittee, whom we haven't heard from in months.

Something else that mystifies me- I've been blogging for more than 18 months now about A's cancer and disability. And I have yet to meet another pilot on LTD for illness. That's 18 months of no one to bounce ideas off of or compare notes with. 18 months with no one else who understands and supports my desire for advocacy in the process. Surely there is SOMEONE out there who has made it to the other side.

What do you do when there's nothing to do?

With A and I both home, not working, it's become a nice time for us to get to doing all those little things that have been piling up. Or find out new ways to avoid doing them.

We've both been better at working out in the little complex gym (or rather, I force him to come with me) so we are on the road to getting healthier. He's been working on a business gig with a friend of his doing some kind of wholesale/distributing thing that I have absolutely no interest in (and therefore cannot accurately describe). I know it involves gun accessories and knives and that sort of boy stuff they both like. Myself, I've been channeling Martha a bit and have decided to work my way though all of the recipes I have have been collecting over the years to find out if they are worth keeping. About half the time, I try a new one and it tastes nothing like what I expected. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. So far this week, I've made Snickers Bar Cookie Bars and Oatmeal Cookies with dried apricots and white chocolate Both are keepers.

I'm also being forced to attend an orientation session for the state Unemployment Services because "the Priority Re-Employment Planning (PREP) System has identified you as a worker who may benefit from reemployment assistance." How I pulled that lucky card, I don't know. But I wish I hadn't. The law is that individuals so identified have to be referred to reemployment services and participation is a condition of eligibility for benefits. So if I don't go, I lose my benefits. Even though I'm not really one who could benefit from these "services". Hopefully I'll get out of it once I show up with my stellar resume.

Now that American Idol is over, I've become entirely too comfortable watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Despite doing my best to keep my butt from becoming too friendly with the couch.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today's hot topic news

I don't even want to comment on all of the Colgan news lately, but a few things come to mind.

Shouldn't the pax who videoed the wheel problem have been reprimanded for use of an electronic device whose use is prohibited during the landing phase of flight? Aren't we all told to turn our cell phones off? And perhaps, if they and other pax saw flames from the wheel on take-off, they should have alerted the Flight Attendant, who would have communicated to the Pilot about the problem? Wouldn't that have actually been the useful, proactive thing to do in that situation? Instead of just thinking about the cool video they might get and how much they might sue for in the event of an accident. I wonder if the airline is going to try to blame the FO for not noticing a loose wheel during his walk around. I wonder if more attention is going to be placed on this incident than usually because it's the same airline.

And interesting forum thread here about the 3407 flight. There are some links to articles and comments about pilot fatigue, training and pay as well as some personal experiences and opinions. I think my favorite comment was this-

I was hopeful thinking with all of this being brought to the attention of the public things might end up changing. But, my husband said don't count on it. The only things that will probably change will be when you sign in to work you will check some box stating you are well rested, and maybe they will put out a memo forbidding sleeping in the crew room. Nothing will change for the actual safety or quality of life of the pilots, only to cover the ass of the company.

The pilot and co-pilot were talking during a critical phase of flight, that is clear. But at least they were talking about icing conditions, which was relevant. It would have been 10x worse if the CA was chatting about the great bar he went to during his overnight in Cleavage-land and the FO was texting her hot new CFI boyfriend.

As for the people who say they NEVER fly on a commuter plane. Really? I guess you don't go to any small regional airports who are ONLY served by commuters. I doubt the airline is going to refund your ticket if you walk up to the counter and refuse to board the aircraft because "it's too small".

I don't even read comments out loud to A because it gets him too riled up and I just don't want to listen to it any more. That's why he has pilot friends.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's a woman's perogative to change her mind

A was in isolation last week due to his radioactive treatment. Of course I had to make jokes about his "certain glow", not needing a flashlight if we went camping, and sing "Radioactive" ad naseum. It was difficult to watch him have to make his way through radiation sickness without being able to comfort him. I think he was sicker this time than last year, but then again I wasn't around as much last year. It left a lot of time for us both to be alone with our thoughts for a good portion of the day, which led to some interesting conversations later on. Now we just sit, wait, get on with our lives until Feb 10 when he gets another scan.

We've been waffling around about whether A was going to go to Tallahassee with me and Kidzilla or stay in Jax even since I started this endeavor. We've been leaning toward him staying in Jax to maintain a presence here and give me some space. Now that he's got another year or so on the ground, we decided that we are going to move as a family. Since his job here didn't pan out as hoped this past winter there is not really any reason to be here. Plus it will be more cost effective. We'll just get a P.O. Box to maintain an address here. It's going to be a tight squeeze to get us all in the tiny family housing apt and we are going to have to put some stuff in storage, but it will be better overall. Now I won't have to get all riled up about finding a sitter for night classes. And we can waffle about what he's going to DO in Tallahassee instead.

I have been thinking a lot as well about my attitude about integrating A into the family when he was flying and returning from trips. I tried to find where I had blogged about it a few years ago, but it was too many posts to wade through (over 200 now!). I used to have the attitude of- live your life and make your plans and he can join in when he wants but life goes on whether he's here or not. But now I'm wondering if that was fair to our family and to him. Did I try hard enough to make him feel a part of the family? Because he IS part of the family. Should I have spent more time recognizing and honoring the time that he was here, instead of making him an inconsequential part? Did I deny him the opportunity to do anything HE wanted to do as a family by always having plans made and expecting him to participate without a say? Is there a better compromise for our family? How to balance all of the demands and desires of life? It seems pretty unimportant right now, since he's home ALL. THE. TIME. But one day...

I've been thinking of some heavy topics that I want to blog about lately, but some of them need some more research (AKA asking the opinions/experiences of other pilot wives). If there is something you would like to see me blog about or just to chat, contact me at the email address in the sidebar.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Freeway billboard psychology

To my friends B, E, N, and T, and those I don't know who are going through or coming out of a difficult time-

We value the light more fully after we have come through the darkness

I pass this quote daily on a sign on the way to Kidzilla's school. And I think of how true it is. And I think of my friends who are making their way through their own struggles as I make my way though mine.

Goodness knows, I hate overplayed cliches, but this one speaks to me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A secret I'd rather not admit, vol. II

I have a secret dream. A life goal if you will. To ride around a large southern city downtown in a convertible, top down, with steer horns on the front. Just as a passenger. Just one time.

Why? I have no idea. It just seems like something every southern woman should achieve at least once in her life. I think it stems from too many Friday nights watching the double header of Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas with my mom while dad was working swing shift at the airport. Someday I'll be the matriarch of a giant Dallas sized clan and house too. Without all the infighting.

I also had a dream that Kidzilla's bio-dad sent me a Mother's Day card to say thank you for taking care of our son 47 weeks a year. Probably not inspired by Dallas.

Today A took his radioactive pill and is now in isolation in our extra bedroom. No closer than 6 feet for not more than 20 minutes at a time. For 3 days for me, for 7 days for Kidzilla. Giving him that last hug and kiss before he took it was strange. Like he was leaving for a three day trip, even though he'll be withing speaking distance the entire time. At least it will be another 9 months before I have to start weaning myself off the physical closeness we've become accustomed to. I think I'm turning into a softie. And I don't want THAT secret to get out.

Moving on from April

I'm not going to sugarcoat this- April sucked. Really bad. In many ways. I'm really hoping that May brings us the flowers that April's showers promise.

A review of April (g00d events in purple, bad events in red), mostly chronologically:

Kidzilla turns 7
I get laid off
We find out I didn't get the graduate fellowship and now have to actually PAY for school
I get enough money approved via student loans
We find out that A's cancer is lingering and that he'll have to go through more treatment, extending his time off work by another 9 months. At least.
We find out that I also didn't get the scholarship I thought I was a shoe in for
I visit Atlanta and have a great time
I find out that the info I thought I heard regarding Unemployment Insurance was incorrect and I have already missed out on $500
We made some positive, significant changes to our diet
Swine flu arrives and the airline cuts routes again, leaving us concerned that A will be furloughed and lose not only the medical insurance covering his treatment, but also the meager income he receives while disabled

But, on a positive note for May, we did find out that there was no discernable tumor growth so whatever is there is not getting worse. And the time off together is helping us get to know each other. Really well.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sometimes you don't want to know...

Alex, the front desk manager at the cancer center where A goes is a pretty nice guy. He always remembers A (who wouldn't after seeing him day after day for weeks during his treatment), is a pretty snappy dresser and is always able to get anything we need. Even after not having been to the center since June of last year, he remembered A's name as soon as we walked in again. With the volume of people who are in and out of there on a daily basis I was kind of impressed.

The other day, we were in to pick up a lab authorization for a blood test, from the front desk. We picked up the form, took a few steps from the desk and then remembered that it needed some specific info on it still. We returned to the desk where Alex promptly said "Yep, you need that. I have a whole page of labels with your name and barcode on them all made up."

Which made my heart stop for a second. Is A going to require the use of an entire sheet of personalized barcode labels?Did Alex know something we don't know? We were kinda hoping that this was going to be a short follow up protocol, but the doctor doesn't have all of the test results back yet.

I had to let it go and trust that Alex had only made the labels up to save himself time and that it didn't mean anything at all. But it would have been easier to pretend this was no big deal if I hadn't seen the brand new sheet of labels to begin with.