Saturday, September 20, 2008

Flying ....

So, we are in Seattle right now, getting ready for a nice two week vacation. We had a nice, bumpy flight to Seattle, skimming the tops of clouds and the like. During the flight a few thoughts came to mind...

First, why on the pre-flight safety video don't they actually show things how they will be? Realism is good. For example, when the oxygen masks come down, why don't they show the aircraft in some unusual attitude and the passengers panicking, fighting each other over the lone oxygen mask that actually fell from the ceiling? "Yes, there are three other masks, they just didn't manage to fall", the announcer should say, "rather than fight your seatmate for the one that did fall, simply reach up and pull the other mask down." This segment should end in the two passengers falling out of their seats fighting for the lone mask. While we are at it, we need to see an appropriate level of panic in passengers faces... I mean, if the masks come flying down, and the aircraft it pitched 45 degrees nose down trying to get below 10,000 feet, wouldn't you feel some panic?

Then there is always the scene of the mother or father calmly putting the mask on their very calm, very still, child. Um, yeah, there is reality. Again, 45 degree, nose down pitch, the floor falling out from under them, I doubt those kids are going to be calm, still or quiet.

But thats just me....

Rather, perhaps, the child should be screaming, looking all around in panic and shouting "WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE!!" now that would be reality. Oh, and perhaps to add a touch of realisim we should some cheerios orbiting in the simulated zero G as the airplane plummets to an uncertain fate.

What is it with people who think that the sign that means "put on your seatbelt" actually means "it's ok to get up and go to the bathroom now"? I am constantly amazed.... 2 minutes after take off, Yule Gibbins gets up and shuffles to the bathrom. Now, not only is Yule not supposed to get up (and doing so actually breaks a federal law) BUT Yule is not exactly a young man... a young man might be able to grab onto something should we hit turblance, and survive (I'll not address the possible state of the bathroom after a severe turbulence hit... let's just say that pooping at zero G isn't a good thing). Yule, instead, will be flung around to and fro, his poor hairpiece will be all that will be left of the poor man.

On our flight to Seattle, fully 20 to 30% of the people on the flight got up to use the bathroom when the fasten seatbelt sign was on. Now, honestly, turblance was not too bad (light) but apparently the captian expected it might become bad enough that he had the flight attendents discontinue food service and had them sit and buckle up. THAT should be a clue.

And I also notice that it's always the people who are not all that physicaly able to withstand a 2000 foot drop in altitude and the attending loss of gravitational pull that will ensue. Like I said, Yule Gibbins.

I can see the CNN story now.... An airliner lands and the emergency support personel are called to scrape twenty elderly folks off of the ceiling of the airplane.

I fully understand needing to go, and needing to go *badly*, but did it ever occur to these folks to go *before* you get on the airplane. One might think to ones self, "Self.... I'm going to be captive in an airplane for two hours, maybe I should go now, when it's actually safe to go."

Some people don't understand the risk of flight even in severe clear. It's real, we call it CAT or Clear Air Turblance. In rare cases, with CAT, you could encounter a sudden drop of altitude of several hundred or even (in very rare cases) thousand feet very quickly. Trust me, you don't want to be out of your seatbelt if that happens. I've been though CAT in my little airplanes at low altitude, it's no fun.

So, anyway, we are in Seattle now.... I love Seattle....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More govenmental stupidity....

More clear evidence that we have way to much time on our hands...

Here is a boy who's pencil sharpener apparently broke, who had the razor blade part of that tool in his hand is suspended. Suspended for 2 days, doesn't this kid sound dangerous. This is the intelligence of "No tolerance" which in my mind equates to "No Thinking". No tolerance just abdicates administrators of any requirement to think or act. It's lazy.

Then there is this Gem. First of all, I think helmet laws are a farce. It's just another way the state manages to control us. I think helmets are a good idea, don't misunderstand me, but we live in a free country, right? In my mind, in a free country, the jackbooted thugs don't have the right to tell you that you must wear a helmet. Of course, it's the law. Which means some mamby pamby, let's protect you from everything, body of law makers decided it was best for us all...

When will we realize how important the concept of individual freedom and liberty really is. We have forgotten that. Politicians, under the guise of protecting us and making society better, slowly curtail our freedoms and load us up with to-do's. Next thing you know, we will be required to wear helmets just to go out for a walk, lest we fall down and hit our head.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Book stuff..

My latest book has shown up on Amazon. It's the OCP prep guide for Oracle Database 11g. I'm pretty excited about it, and I think it's going to be a bang up book!

My old friend and co-author from back in the Coriolis days, Charles Pack (who is also author of an Oracle Press book), is co-authoring this book with me. Charles is a great writer and fantastic Oracle guy. I'm looking forward to his work on this project.

Writing books is a love hate affair for me. Sometimes I love the work, sometimes I hate the work. For 3-4 months it's deadline, schedule, write, deadline, write, deadline, etc... then, there are the edits.

Every chapter you write goes to a technical editor and then a copy editor. These folks take your hard work and turn it on its ear. In the end, it makes a much better product, but it also tends to make authors sick (at least it does me sometimes). Once these daemons of the dark have done their work, you have to go back through, review their changes and questions and fix any mistakes. There is more to the process, but maybe I'll comment on later processes as we get on down the line.

Book writing is an amazing process, and it's a wonder but mistakes do still get though, sometimes big ones. Nothing makes me sicker than to pull a brand spanking new book out of the box, open it up and then find the first mistake. Ackkkkkk!!!!

Then, there are the reviews. Oh man, maybe that's a whole different post too. Suffice to say, your first sweet review makes for a great day. The first sour review makes you swear you will never write another word. They can be painful.

For those of you who think that those of us who write get rich off of the deal, please think again. I've written 13 books now (I think).... for the first 4 I didn't see any royalties. Yes, I did get some advances, but if you figure out how many hours you write and divide it by the advances... well I just calculated it out and it comes to maybe 15 to 20 dollars an hour (and thats being very liberal with how much time I spend per chapter). I can tell you that if you have a popular book, you can make more than that, but you don't sell books in the millions like Steven King. Royalty checks are nice, but there is never any guarentee.

So, why do I write? One, I like it. Two, I have to admit that the emails I get on a regular basis about my RMAN book in particualr are very motivating. I've had people tell me that my book pulled their database from certain death. That is very motivating. I also find it keeps me up on the latest and greatest. I think it's too easy to be complaciant in our DBA jobs. Doing what we do, the normal way we do it. Well, the technology and the job is a-changin'... I want to be there as it does and be a part of it.

Finally, lest you think writing is easy work, I can probably find a writing project for you if you are glutting for punishment and can write. :-) You will hate me after six months probably.

Hail Oracle!!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Do they actually check facts...

So, for some reason I'm reading the (in my opinion) leftest leaning Newsweek magazine. The old adage know your enemy comes to mind. I'm left with the question, do they hire fact checkers anymore and do they bother to even try to get facts right. This isn't even about a political comment, no, it's about an airplane!

If you read page 16 in the "Special Republican Convention Issue" of Newsweek you will find that Andrew Romano has been flying around on a Boeing A321. That pretty hard since Boeing does not make the A321, Airbus does. Hey Andrew, did you check you facts there buddy. The emergency briefing card in the seat pocket in front of you would have told you it's not a Boeing airplane there buddy. It's a Boeing competitor, Airbus, that builds the A321.

Now, if they will screw something that mundane up, how badly can they screw up other things I wonder.
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