Friday, June 30, 2006

Float on a river forever

Half way through my work week, and other than being really busy keeping the planes flying, not much to add.

Got a bit lost on the way to work yesterday, tried a route to the highway that Colin showed me, but I missed an exit and was heading in the wrong direction! The road that I was one was heading towards downtown Marseille, the opposite way than to the airport. I was lucky, and found some road signs that directed me through half a dozen different highways and got me there only a few minutes late.

Work was fun, had a couple of interesting things happen. While we were working on one of the planes, we had a plane come through, reporting to the tower that they didn't have the green lights that tell them that they have their landing gear down. Of course, half the airport new of this so we all gathered to watch it do a fly-by. It turned out, the gear was down, but the nose gear steering wasn't straight. So, the pilot made a very good landing, holding the nose up for a long time until he could slam it down and straighten it up. That is why he gets paid the big bucks!

I also got to run an aircraft for the first time ever. It was pretty simple, I have had so much training that it seemed like I have been doing it for years. Actually, we ran both planes, but Stephan ran the first one.

And I found a hedgehog. Cute little bugger, all rolled up into a ball. I moved him so that he wouldn't get hurt, and he scurried off eventually.

Just another day on the ramp. Two more to go, then four days off. I think that I will try running into Marseille to play tourist, see if Mary, Gus' girlfriend would like to come along. It is nice to have company, and she speaks French, so ordering lunch would be easier.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tired of lying in the sunshine

I feel bad because I haven’t been updating my blog that often, but the wireless transmitter isn’t working here at the hotel, and I have no other place to upload the drafts from my computer (I have been typing things up in my room, and saving them for later upload, then will back date them). We have wireless at work, but I think that it is a secure network and I don’t have the access. Oh well, maybe they will get another wi-fi transmitter and I will be able to finally upload this stuff.

I managed to clean my flat today, just in time for the cleaning lady to show up. Doh! It has been a lazy day, slept for part of it (I think that the combination of not sleeping well at night, the heat and being really busy working 11 hour days caught up to me), got some time at pool side, which was nice. Went swimming a couple of times, but the chlorine level is very high, and leaves your eyes burning, so I only stayed in for a short time. And now I just went and did some more shopping. It is hard to walk into a place to live with no supplies in your kitchen. I picked up some balsamic vinegar and olive oil for salad tonight, and some beer because you need it with the heat. They don’t have a great selection of beer, but I found some decent German stuff that I like.

Well, enough for now, maybe soon the internet might start working so that I can actually post these write-ups to my blog.

In case that you haven't figured it out, they have fixed the internet here, and now I can send emails, and update the blog. I have added three postings in one shot, so there is a bit of reading to do...

Monday, June 26, 2006

On the wings of the night

Well it has been almost a week in France, and so far I have worked a helluva lot ( I guess that I was wrong about taking it easy for the first few days). I have also played a bit, watched a lot of Football (soccer) and have eaten way too much yummy French cooking. Even the little canteen next to our office at the airport has fantastic food. The weather has been hot and sunny, and usually a bit humid (today, a lot humid, you could see the moisture in the air), with temperatures up around 35C. It makes for tiring days, trying to stay hydrated while working hard out on the tarmac where the temperature gets up around 40C+. And I haven’t had much opportunity to use the pool, only one day off so far, and most days I have been home too late, or was too tired from the jet-lag to use it. I have a day off tomorrow, which will be used to do laundry, catch up with the internet stuff, (the internet doesn’t seem to stay up for more than an hour at a time, and after the office staff goes home, don’t even try) do some dishes, clean a bit and then lounge by the pool. Which might I add, always has some nice scenery.

There are a few odd things going on over here though. Driving is hazardous to your health, unless you are a half crazed lunatic. I have driven a bit, mostly to learn the route from home to work, and it is a good thing that I am a little crazy too. Weaving in and out of traffic isn’t just common, it is mandatory! Most don’t use turn signals, will drive half way into your lane, cut in front of you, then cut out from in front of you, for no apparent reason. Some (most) will stop in the middle of the road, on a blind corner just to chat with a friend on the sidewalk. Then there is the parking fun. If you can get your car into the spot, whether it is on the sidewalk, someone’s front lawn, or even on stairs, you can park there.

Another thing that I have had the pleasure (yeah, right) of experiencing is grocery shopping. There is this grocery store that would make Wal-Mart jealous. It is like Superstore, Future Shop, Home Hardware, Zellers, Home Outfitters, and the biggest liquor store that you have ever seen all rolled into one. There are one hundred check-out counters! And no, I am NOT exaggerating, I counted them all. And even with that many, you will still wait 15 minutes to pay for your stuff.

Living with another language has been fun. It is amazing how easy it has been for me to go grocery shopping; after all, I have been reading the French labels on the food packaging back home all my life. There are some challenges, and I have been stumbling through basic things like buying a meal, but I have improved a lot for less than one week. Je ne parle pas francais and Parlez vous anglais? have become my two favourite phrases. I have been trying to think in French, and answer questions in French, even when I know the person speaks English, and it seems to be helping.

We did a little road trip last Saturday to the town of Avignon to take Gus to get the motorcycle that he had rented for the weekend. Avignon is a very ancient place, with a stone wall surrounding the old part of the town, and very, very narrow streets. It was also home to many Popes over many centuries before they moved to the Vatican in Rome. So, in the middle of the old town is a very large “castle” that was the center of the Catholic church for many years, and the Petite Palais which was the Popes home. In the “castle” was a cathedral that we had just enough time to see before it was closed for the evening. Can we say gold? Yeah, there was a lot of it. I took a couple of pictures, but it was too dark to get very many.

Afterwards we walked around a bit, saw a few more things then had dinner at a street café. France was playing against Togo in the World Cup, and our restaurant was showing it on the TV. Well, need I tell you that we had the biggest crowd? Even the serving staff from the next restaurant was over watching the game.

Well, that has to be the longest entry that I think I have ever made here! I will try to keep things up to day a bit more often, as long as the internet stays working. I also have photos to add to Flickr soon. I will open a new group that I will call France so they will be easy to find.

I have so much more to say, but I better leave that for another day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Parlez vous anglais?

Ugh, jet lag.

At least I am here, nine hours to Frankfurt, including a two hour delay there, then an hour and a half flight to Marseille. I stepped of the plane in Marseille into a Turkish steam bath, the humidity was incredible! At least it has cooled off some now.

I probably won’t be starting actual work on the aircraft for a couple of days, I need to get my airside pass, do a bit of an orientation of the airport, etc. It also looks like I will be busy, we are scheduled for 4 on, 4off, but there will be times when we get called in to help if something goes wrong, or we are doing a “roll conversion”, changing the aircraft from a tanker to a passenger aircraft for example.

Other than the odd bit of overtime, Adam the boss wants us to have lots of free time, (hence the shift) to get around and se France. He was telling me that you can be in Paris in three hours on the TGV, so I will have to try that one weekend!

Anyway, enough for now, I need to go and meet the guys and grab some breakie.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


How many people do you know have blogged at 34,000feet in the air over Greenland? This airplane has Wi-fi!!

So far, the flight has been rather boring, bad movie, and having to share space with my neighbours. We are about 2000 miles from Frankfurt, something like 4 hours away. I was going to get onto WoW and say hi, but off course, today was the day to patch the game.

Movie just ended and my private space just got busier...everyone getting up to stretch. I have a young fellow looking up and trying to read over my shoulder. Kinda funny.

Well, I have some time here, maybe I will try and get the patch before my time is up.

Can I escape this irresistible grasp?

Today is the day, it has finally come.

The plane leaves the ground about 4:05PM local time, then a 9-10 hour flight to Frankfurt, and hour layover, then an 1.5 hour flight to Marseille. I also have found out that my visa has come through, so that means that I will be able to actually work when I get there.

Well, not much else to say. I am all packed and just waiting for the cab to arrive.

See you all in October! (except of course, Megan and Hans, I will see you sooner!)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Watching for pigs on the wing

Good news...finally.

I finally have a date, and a plane ticket outta here! Tuesday, June 20th is the day I jump on a Luftansa flight for Frankfurt, then off to Marseille. I still don't have a visa, but it should show up a few days after I get there.

So, now I get to go slightly insane trying to get everything done before I go. They include an oil change for the car, storage insurance for the car, shipping my tools to Marseille, talking with Rogers about unlocking my phone so that I can get a sim card in France to have a local number, getting some more cloting (Socks! I need socks!), mailing my taxes off (yea, gotta pay a bit), clean the house, and a few dozen other minor things.

So, I will be busy, but would love to see as many people as I can before I go. If you feel like visiting, let me know. I won't have car insurance as of Sunday at midnight, but if you wanna come and visit out here in the Ford, go for it.

I guess my next post will be from Marseille, I don't think that I will have time to post one before I go. And don't forget to check out my photos on Flickr, I will be updating them as my trip progresses.

PS: My flight leaves at 1605 (4:05PM) from YVR, so if you are free and want to come and hang out for a bit, let me know.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Feel the warm thrill of confusion

Well, I was supposed to be flying today...obviously I am not.

I went to work to chat with the powers that be, and find out what is going on. Seems that HR thinks that I should have my visa by the 22nd at the earliest. So, the plan is to send me off to France on June 20th. This won't be too bad, I will be able to get my tools all organized and shipped, my rent payed up, some of my stuff organized, buy some new sandal's and maybe some new socks, and then jump on a plane and run off to Europe.

So, the new date is June 20th, so if you wanna see me before I go, there is the deadline.

I also spent the weekend trying to keep Marc's car running. With all the mods that he did to the engine, it wants to run hot all the time. We changed the oil cooler, took some cardboard and duct tape and made some ducting for the air to get to the rad and oil cooler, and we richened the air/fuel mix, but it was still running too hot. In the end, he made half the race (his best showing so far) before the apex seals on the rotors packed it in. Guess that he will be pulling the engine apart again.

We also were a bit lucky with our race, we had an incredible thunderstorm hit us shortly afterwards. It was the first time that I have seen a race stopped because of the weather. Actually, most of the cars had already stopped running because the track filled up with standing water very quickly.

So, although I am still tired from being so busy, and from a bit too much sun before the rain came, it was a fun weekend.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Flickering between the lines

Looks like my trip has been delayed a bit. Work has been slow at getting my work visa sorted out, so I will be leaving a week or two later. I am still going, but not yet. So, I have to figure out what to do with my car, since the insurance runs out in 8 days. Do I insure it for a week at a time? Probably. I also don't know where I will be working for the extra week or two that I will be here, probably YVR still, since I am already out there.

It gets frustrating some times how companies expect employees to bend to their wishes, and completely mess up your plans because they are too messed up their selves to communicate as to what is going on.

But, on the bright side, I might get a chance to see a few more people before I leave.