New York, Monday, 8-21-95 0600 local (Z-4)
Once again sitting completely alone in the United terminal at JFK, having snuck up from United operations where I got my jumpseat pass to go to SFO and then to PDX (my van is in the UPS parking lot there).
It's not been a great month money-wise. I've flown less than any month since I've been with Tower and had to spend more time in JFK at my expense than any other month since I've been on the line. It's not that they're picking on me personally; I just got caught due to circumstances in the trap of "turns". A "turn" in Tower parlance is a trip that can be done in one day, either operating both ways or deadheading one of the ways, and in which you wind up back in New York, thus off perdiem and mostly at your own expense. Especially deadly are those turns that are separated by a dead day in New York. Nobody likes "turns", and they normally distribute them throughout the lines. However, if for some reasons you get taken off your line, as I did twice this month, you become fodder for crew scheduling - and you WILL do turns.
So, this month I flew only 62 hours (113 last month). I'll go back to work on the 30th, so a few more hours will be added during the last 2 days of the month. In the meantime, 8 glorious days off, the most I've ever gotten in a row since working for Tower. I just hope the good weather holds in Eugene.
C.J. is still on her Alaskan cruise. She'll get home on the 24th. This is the longest we've been out of contact with each other in some time. I use this means to communicate with her from overseas (along with the occasional phone call) and almost always call her daily when in the U.S. It's been strange not to talk with her, especially in the last few days when I could have used her friendly voice to soothe my insecurity.
The cause of my insecurity was (is) having strained my back worse than any time since 1975. That was the last time I had to crawl to the bathroom in the morning. Actually this wasn't quite as bad as '75. I only had to do the bathroom crawl the first morning. In '75 as I remember I had to do it 3 mornings in a row. It's really great on your ego - 20 minutes or so to get yourself laying over the toilet so the appropriate organ is pointed in the appropriate direction so you can relieve yourself.
Talk about feeling old. That first morning I set the alarm an hour early to allow time to get vertical, and I never did make it to completely vertical - had to go to work slightly stooped. That was 4 days ago now, and it only took about 5 minutes to get vertical this morning. The trick now is to avoid a relapse.
I think my body is generally drug-resistant or something. I bought a bunch of over-the-counter back-pain medicine, but double doses produced no observable result. Oh, well.
I flew a leg on an L.A. turn with a guy as captain who had flown with Evergreen. He was a captain at Evergreen during the same period I was, though we never flew together, and left Evergreen about 3 years ago for Tower. He just recently upgraded here to captain. A captain can fly the airplane pretty much any way he wants. An f.o. pretty much has to follow the company procedures. It was interesting to see this guy fly the leg the "Evergreen way." - i.e. hand fly it to cruise altitude and then disengage the autopilot when ready for descent and hand fly after that. Handling the descent that way is really much cleaner than the fiddle-farting Tower procedures call for in the descent. Properly done it produces a much smoother approach.
These last few landings I've made, I've been trying an alternate procedure - something I observed in a captain I flew with a couple of weeks ago (the guy with the quick temper and with whom I had the bad landing). I noticed he seemed to be getting consistently better than normal touchdowns though he tended to use a fair amount of runway. Anyway, what I've been trying is carrying more power until later. Normally, I've pulled some of the power at about 50 feet and the rest of the power at about 30 feet. I've been trying delaying removing the rest of the power until 10 feet. It does seem to produce a slightly better touchdown, but of course adds a little to the runway used. The risk is that if you happen to touch down before you get all the power off, you'll probably bounce a little - a definite no-no at the 747 level of flying.
Well, people are starting to arrive, and I need to check in with the agent. This will get sent when I reach home.
Leaburg, Monday 8-21-95 1900 local (Z-7)
Home again. But something's missing. C.J. Sure seems strange to be here without her, but she left me home baked brownies in the freezer.
The washing machine is going, and it only has in it clothes used on the road. An hour from now I'll be all packed to go again...and that is the last I will worry about that until I pick up the bags to leave on the 29th. Once the bag is packed, I will need nothing from it during my time at home, nothing additional will have to be put into it before I leave. The same is true of my flight bag. I finally have duplicates of everything needed at home and on the road. All of the underwear in the bag is of one kind, and I never use that kind while at home. Duplicate vitamins, duplicate Desenex, duplicate electric razors, duplicate nose hair scissors (yes, I have reached that age). I mean, this is ORGANIZATION. No haphazardness here. Only serious order is allowed!! In fact, in case of a power failure, I could find everything in the bags in the dark now without problem and with no wasted motion.
The weather is forecast to remain good, at least in the short term. I figure this is my last little bit of summer at home. Jean will get home Thursday evening.
Everybody take care...Terry