Lani's household consists of Steve, the long-suffering coding genius and computer security guru; Jim, Lani's tall, red-headed and handsome son, currently finishing his second year of college; Hunter, Jasmine, Himari, Chenault, the miraculous Onyx and the even more miraculous Resk, undisputed feline rulers of the house; and Jesse, the man-hating green-cheeked conure.
Ann's household consists of Don, who is not just a computer genius but a pilot, a builder, and a damn good father; their son Steve, the marathon-running, college-bound, funniest teenager I know; and wonder dog Tater.
Other family members are Laurie, Lani's beautiful daughter who teaches at elementary levels; her handsome son Alex, aka Alexander the Great; Mary and Bo, a/k/a Mom and Dad, and Bud and Ann, Steve's patient and wonderful parents.
My UFOs are taking over the closet. Usually I don't feel bad about them, I have to be so disciplined about work that I refuse to be disciplined about a hobby. I can have as many UFOs as I want, and I don't care.
But . . . there's one I am actually feeling guilty about. It's an afghan I started for Steve, and I actually made all the squares, and haven't finished one seam. Not one. Here's the pile of squares.
Here's what it should look like once blocked and seamed.
Now that I've put it here, I'm committed. Steve's 17th birthday is September 26. One month to seam and block, and to put an edging on. Bear in mind that he was 14 when I started this (cringe). Even for the most un-disciplined amongst us, that should be doable.
The running season officially kicked off this Saturday, and school started yesterday. The kick off is a race where they break the team up and race against themselves, hold a parent meeting, and then eat all the food the parents have brought. It's volunteer time, so I signed up for - let's see - a pasta dinner for 75 teenage boys, tent set-up for two meets, "snack" for one meet (how many bagels can 75 teenage boys eat?), and also to take pictures at several meets. I'm going to be busy!
It's tradition for the teams to make up some type of uniform, and one of the guys got carried away.
Steve beat the cow, which is good because that would have been really humiliating! I didn't get a good shot of him running, but here he is after the finish.
Last night, I went to a farewell party for someone leaving the company, and it was a dinner cruise on the lake, so here's what I was looking at.
And here's a shot of the guest of honor. She was definitely having a good time.
I know you've had a hard few weeks, but I'll tell you that your customers are appreciative of what you do. You won't brag on yourself, so I'll brag on you. I'm going to share a really nice e-mail that you got (and shared with Mom, thus making sure that everyone in the world knows about it).
>To: Lani Weaver/16720 FLIGHT ATTENDANT/AWAC@AWAC >From: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX/904 INFLIGHT DOMICILE MANAGER/AWAC >Date: 08/13/2007 09:34AM >Subject: Fw: A great call after a bad night > >Dear Lani, > >What a terrific job performed by you and your crew! My sincere >THANKS and Congratulations for a job well done. To have passengers >cheering and clapping because of you & your crews performance says it >all. > >Air Wisconsin Crewmembers "Shine" where others do not, something you >can be very proud of! > >GREAT JOB, Thank you for all you do each and every day! > >Sincerely, > >XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX >Inflight Manager Norfolk > >----- Forwarded by XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX INFLIGHT DOMICILE >MANAGER/AWAC on 08/13/2007 08:30 AM ----- >XXXXXXXXXXXXX/7390 FLEET MGR/AWAC > >08/10/2007 08:54 AM > >To > >XXXXXXXXXXXX/5841 VICE PRESIDENT OPERATIONS/AWAC@AWAC, XXXXXXXXXXXXXX >/418 MANGNG DIRECTOR OF FLIGHT OP/AWAC@AWAC, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX/7597 >CHIEF PILOT/AWAC@AWAC, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX/3885 FLT DOMICILE >MANAGER/AWAC@AWAC, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX/904 INFLIGHT DOMICILE >MANAGER/AWAC@AWAC, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX/17170 PRESIDENT & CEO/AWAC@AWAC, >XXXXXXXXX/506 MANAGING DIRECTOR INFLIGHT S/AWAC@AWAC > >Subject: A great call after a bad night > >To all, > > This morning I received a call from a USAir mainline pilot >(XXXXXXXXXXXXX) who was dead heading on flight 3975 from LGA to PIT. > As is often the case LGA tanked last night and delays were the worst >this long time USAir mainline pilot had ever seen, he stated that the >entire airport was a mess. He went on to chronicle that in the midst >of this meltdown was a shining example of the airline industry, and >that was our crew, that consisted of Capt XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, FO XXXXXX >XXXXXXXXXXXX, and Flight Attendant Lani Weaver. This flight suffered >many delays, including one return to gate for fuel, it eventually >departed LGA 5 hours late. Captain XXXXXXXXXX stated that he had never >seen a crew pull together and keep the passengers so informed and happy. > The information from the cockpit was timely and informative. From >talking with Captain XXXXXXXX it quickly became clear that the >relationship that Lani Weaver developed with her passengers was one >that should stand out as an example for all! In the midst of the >turmoil she actually had the passengers clapping and in the end >cheering her efforts. Captain XXXXXXXXX stated that every passenger >agreed to write in letters, and not a single person was unhappy with >the delay. > > It is clear that this crew is a fine example of all that >embodies Air Wisconsin, and beyond their standard duties went above >and beyond to make a negative experience into a rewarding and >positive experience for our customers. > > I will be contacting Capt XXXXXXXXX myself as she is a close >friend and a check airman for me. I will chronicle the pleasure of >the passengers to her and I will pass on the company's thanks. > XXXXXXXX, and XXXX, it would be great if you guys find the time to talk >with this crew directly to thank them for their efforts, it is a >great success story for our crews and the ORF domicile. Thanks! > >Sincerely, > >XXXXXXXXXXXXX >CL-65 Fleet Manager >FOQA Manager >Air Wisconsin Airlines
Ranting ... This is a long 'un, feel free to skip it. (posted by Lani)
It's been a rough few weeks in the airline industry, as you probably know if you read the paper or watch the news at all. Unless you've been hiding under a rock, and I'm fairly sure you haven't, you've seen all the ugly stories about passengers stuck on planes for hours, ungodly delays at just about every airport in the country, tremendous numbers of cancellations leaving people stranded for days, you name it. I've been caught in that, and I'm bone tired, and my feet hurt, and I barely catch up on sleep before I've got another trip, and I haven't felt like posting because see above. But now I'm up on my soapbox, and just try to get me down. I'm pissed.
Those stories? Sadly, I'm sure a lot of the worst ones are true. But there are a lot of stories that aren't being told. I saw a story the other day about a flight that was rerouted to Baltimore, and the passengers weren't allowed off the plane. In the end, after hours in miserable conditions, the passengers revolted -- and TSA and Homeland Security boarded the plane and threatened them with arrest. The pilot and crew were blamed, and made to seem like uncaring monsters who called the cops on the poor passengers. Know what? I've been rerouted to Baltimore because of weather. And the people in the Baltimore airport REFUSED TO ALLOW OUR PASSENGERS TO DEPLANE. They actually LOCKED THE DOORS from the tarmac into the terminal and wouldn't let us in, saying so many planes had been diverted that they were overloaded and couldn't handle any more passengers in the terminal. Do I think that's what happened with the plane that made the news? I'd put money on it. But who got blamed? The hapless crew. Granted that particular crew almost certainly could have handled things better, but I can pretty damn well guarantee that (a) they didn't want to be stuck on a plane with no working lavatories, no food, no drinks, and insufficient air conditioning any more than their passengers did, and (b) when they called and said listen, ya'll, our passengers are rebelling, we have to let them off this plane, they did NOT know TSA was going to come on board and threaten people with arrest.
So just in case ya'll actually buy into the current attitude that every airline, every flight crew, every gate agent is unfeeling and uncaring, I'm here to tell you that's just not true. And just in case you think all the people out there are angry and hostile to us, that's not true either. Amidst all the unhappy stories, I've been seeing some of the good that you just don't hear about. Here's some of what I've seen through July and the beginning of August.
I've seen pilots take a stand on behalf of their passengers and flat out refuse to board them onto a plane with a broken a/c in 90+ degree weather until either the a/c was fixed or another aircraft was found, standing up for their passengers' rights despite attempts from all sides to make them back down (and make no mistake about it, there were some pretty ugly attempts to make them buckle under).
I've seen pilots and gate agents crawl into the dirty, sweltering cargo hold of a plane in that same 90+ degree weather to find bags for rerouted passengers who had to move fast to make their new connections. I've seen them do that even while the ramp personnel are threatening them with fines and official complaints, because they believed that what's right is right.
I've seen crews skip meal breaks for over 12 hours, trying to somehow get their flights back on schedule after a delay. Ever seen a crew member pass out on the jetway at 10pm because she hasn't had a chance to eat since 5am? I have.
I've seen crews caught in the weather messes work a 16 hour day, get minimum legal rest (that's 8 hours "behind doors" at the hotel ... not 8 hours sleep, 8 hours from when you walk into the room dead tired at night until you walk out fully dressed to head for the terminal in the morning) and then turn around and work another day just like it ... and not claim fatigue and cancel flights on their passengers, when they absolutely positively could have.
I've seen a supervisor at a gate throw a really quite impressive raving tantrum on the phone and convince Ops to un-cancel a flight, and then literally run down the concourse after the passengers who had been told the flight was cancelled to get them back onto the plane and on their way.
I've seen a gate agent walk onto my plane and collapse in exhausted, frustrated tears at the end of a horrible day of cancellations and angry passengers, and then pull herself back together and not only go back out there but go the extra mile for the passengers still in the airport at 1am, busting her ass to figure out how to get them where they wanted to go when what she really WANTED to do was throw her hands up and go home ... and she could have, because her shift had officially ended 4 hours earlier.
I've seen pilots radio ahead and somehow, don't ask me how, whine and wheedle and bribe and convince Ops to have a connecting flight wait for a sobbing pregnant passenger who had been cancelled and rerouted and otherwise stranded for two days and was going to miss her final flight, the flight that finally would have taken her home. (By the way, holding a flight is RARE, ya'll ... never, ever, ever count on it happening. Don't even bother to ask. It almost never happens, and there are a lot of very good reasons for that; it's not that we hate you, or we don't care, it's that holding a plane for a few people now can have ripple-down consequences to the entire flight schedule for the rest of the day. It sucks if you're one of those few people, but if it's going to inconvenience a few people now, or 6 flights full of people over the course of the rest of the day ... be realistic.)
I've seen an entire plane full of people sit patiently after landing and let that pregnant passenger, who was at the very rear of the plane, get off first -- not one single person trying to jump ahead even though all of them had been delayed and inconvenienced too.
I've seen passengers share food with one another, entertain the children on the flight, and help total strangers in almost every way possible.
I've seen an entire plane full of people who had just experienced a 6 hour delay of their scheduled flight THANK US for finally getting them there safely, and shake our hands on the way out of the airplane.
In the midst of all the nastiness that's been going on, there's good out there. And folks, there are people in this industry who are busting their asses. There are people out there who care. I work with a lot of them, and I'm proud to say that. It pisses me off to see all the negative press about the airline industry with not a single dissenting word, no voice speaking up for those people who take pride in their jobs and try hard to do them and do them well.
So, off my soapbox. I haven't knitted much lately. I haven't crocheted at all lately. I haven't read a book, or gardened, or done much of anything except fly, and then come home and eat and try to catch up on sleep and cuddle with Steve and the critters and then about the time I feel human again ... I leave and go back out. This has been a miserable summer. And guess what? At the end of next month I'll have been doing this for a year. And I still love it.
This post is All About Airplanes, thus All About Don. Forgive my bad pun in the title, but it cracks me up.
First up, the long-awaited pictures of the airplane hanger in my backyard. Remember the airplane crash last summer? (Trust me, we haven't forgotten . . . ). The picture of that curly propeller was just sad, wasn't it? Don decided we should keep it, and I talked him into mounting it on the outside of the airplane hanger. This is what you see when you come up the driveway.
I figure it gives everyone a warning about what resides within.On the inside, we have a special epoxy floor that is really cool, lots and lots (and more lots) of tools. We just had the landscaping done, so the ultra-green is the netting they put down to cover the grass seed. We already have green fuzz coming up through the netting, so by next spring it should be all filled in.
No airplane kit yet, but hold for an announcement any day. Our aim is to coordinate high school graduation with airplane completion. I'm thinking 2009 will be a red letter year!
Moving on to actual flight experiences, the Air and Water Show is in Chicago this weekend. One of the headliners is Team Oracle and Shawn Tucker, the pilot of the Oracle plane. Shawn does some wild things in a really cool little red plane, and we've seen him perform before at the EAA show at OshKosh.
I got an invitation from Oracle to attend the Air & Water show as their guest, and meet Shawn Tucker. Be still, my heart! I responded, but I was too late and they were full up. I met with the Oracle account rep last week, and he knew that I had tried to get in and couldn't. I told him not to worry, we'd do it next year, and that I knew I didn't respond quickly enough. Then I told him that Don was a pilot, and how much he would enjoy it, etc.
The next day he called and told me that they got us in to the airshow. Then he called again and asked "Would Don like to go for a flight with Team Oracle, and would he like to be a pole-holder to open the air show?" Well, you can guess the response to that! On Thursday, Don flew himself down to the Gary, Indiana airport and spent an hour flying with Shawn Tucker's son, Eric Tucker, and hanging out with Shawn and Eric. He got a flight lesson, and did loops, barrel rolls, and various other things in one of their planes. I'm sure they were thrilled to see Don instead of some VIP who doesn't know anything about flying, and who is going to puke in the seat after one roll. They were really nice to Don, and to me when I showed up. We got a video, and Don is trying to figure out how to get snips of it on-line so you can see the sky swap places with the ground. It's pretty cool.
Don saw Shawn do his warm-up before he flies, which involves him wearing a headset and walking out the pattern of what he's going to do as he flies. Here is a picture of him doing it.
Then Don was a pole-holder, which means he held up a pole with a rope at the top that stretches across the runway. Shawn flies under the rope, then comes back and cuts it with the airplane propeller. I missed it, but Don says it's really something to see that plane coming right at you going a bazillion miles an hour. I bet! I missed it, and Don isn't as shutter-happy as I am, so no pictures of that.
Then I joined Don, and we were guests at the Mayor's Reception and private airshow, which kicks off the Air & Water Show. I didn't even know there was such a thing, it's certainly not advertised. We were with about 250 people watching a private air show with all the fighter jets, Thunderbirds, Golden Knights parachuting team, Team Oracle, and many more. I don't even want to think about how much jet fuel was consumed entertaining the big-wigs, and Don and I.
It was great.
It was over at 9, and Don flew us back to Lake in the Hills airport. Gary is south of Chicago along the lake, so we went along the lakeshore and looked at the skyline from the air. It was really beautiful, and the flight was 30 minutes rather than a 2 hour drive. Niiiiiiiice.
We were invited to the air show today, but it's really bad weather so we're going to stay home. We're headed out to the new Bourne movie, but after that I'm going to post a few other things - one bragging about my sister, and the other to show the start of Cross Country season.
I'd never been on a night dive before, and I was really looking forward to/scared to try/excited/terrified about the prospect of doing one. So, the first day on the dive boat, I went to the briefing, got my little phosphorescent do-hickey to put on my regulator to identify me as a non-dive-master ordinary sort of person, picked up my dive light, and got geared up. During that process my buddy and I decided that we would do a group dive instead of just the two of us.
I kept thinking about that old story that you don't have to be faster than the cheetah, just faster than the slowest gazelle . . . the more the merrier, right?
All six of us who are diving together are standing on the dive platform at the back of the boat, going through the last checks before we get in. One of the women in the group, Brittney, says to the captain "I really want to see a shark". And he responds, offhand, "You will."
It takes a second for this to sink in.
"You sound so certain!" I say.
Now, get this answer. Here I am, about to jump into the pitch black water. Not a pool, the ocean. Ocean with a big O.
"Because when you jump in, we feed the snapper that hang out under the boat, and they get all excited. When they get excited, the sharks get excited, and they come out to see what's going on."
I am sure that the look on my face was really something, because when I took a deep breath and chanted to myself "I'm not wimping out, I'm not wimping out" and jumped in, the captain threw the bread they were going to feed the snapper right at me. He was literally hitting my head with the pieces of bread, and laughing the whole time.
The snapper attack the bread like it's going to swim away, so they were flying through the water right at me like torpedos, and exploding out of the water right beside me and ripping the bread to shreds.
I decided I'd just put my regulator in and get a little bit under the water to get out of the way of the feeding frenzy, so I sank down about a foot.
Then I saw them. The water around the boat was lit up with floodlights, and where the light faded to black, there were these shapes moving in and out of the light. They would come into the light, and you could see that they were huge sharks. Huge. Then they'd glide back out of the light, and you could just see the shapes moving in the dark.
I have to say that reading this, and thinking about it, I really wonder about my sanity because I: 1) jumped in the water to begin with, and 2) didn't get out even when I saw the sharks.
I went diving instead. And it was so fabulous that I forgot about the sharks, forgot to be scared, and was totally enthralled. I even went back in the next night for a repeat.
I saw a turtle sleeping on the ocean floor that was so big, he looked like a boulder. The dive master measured him and they told us he was 120 years old. I saw moray eels, and octopus, and ... and ...
It was great. I know you are all thinking I'm a lunatic, but you know what I was thinking about when I saw those sharks and chose to keep going?
Grandy told me one time that when you get old, all you have left is your memories.
I am actually home for a full week. Shhh, don't tell, or there will be an emergency somewhere and I'll have to travel!
It is hard to comprehend just how behind I was on everything when I got home from two weeks away. Work was just unbelievable, as was the house, as was . . . well, everything. I had to travel the week after I arrived at home (just one night, but I've never felt less like getting on an airplane). Fortunately, I was able to commute from Long Island to Stamford in style in Ash's new Porsche 911. On the way back to the airport, I commented that he was driving sort of slow, and all of a sudden he was at 100mph. Fun, but definitely bad for the hair!
Last week, I had a meeting I was hosting, so that meant work non-stop along with entertainment, which was great but exhausting. I wound up staying downtown, because working from 6:30 am to 10 pm and then doing almost four hours of commuting leaves you with - well, let's see - four hours for sleep, showers, etc. That doesn't quite work.
Here's my favorite set of pictures from the meetings. Look how professional Gordon looks.
And then look closely at the tie.
To close the meeting, Ash provided us with his stash of gift booze to work our way through. I actually got to taste both Dom Perignon and Cristal, and if you get the chance to choose go for the Cristal. It was much better than the Dom. Who knew?
This week, I am going NOWHERE. Of course, Don is out of town, so things aren't quite perfect, but sleeping in my own bed for 10 nights straight is going to feel miraculous!
So, the reef. Diving was phenomenal, and I have loaded some of the pictures on Flickr so you can click here to see them. I am still figuring out how to make Flickr work, so bear with me, but there are too many pictures for me to post them individually here. When I'm done posting I'll put them in order again and give you another link.
It was truly the experience of a lifetime. I still have stories to tell, but you'll have to wait. Posting about half the pictures took all the time I could give tonight!
Glad you survived the worst of being a flight attendant, Lani, and I applaud you for the luggage diving that you didn't do. Never happened. Stick with that.
Stay tuned, and I'll try to post a few things this week. Let's see - the Shark Story, pictures of the completed Airplane Hanger/Garage . . .