Category Archives: walking

Fitness – Mind, Body, & Soul

In my quest to be one of those old guys working from a nearly forgotten airfield out in the middle of nowhere, restoring aircraft thought lost forever to the ravages of time, I have been restoring myself, bring the old crate up to date.

We Can Do ItOf course there is school, and degrees are important after a fashion, but the real meat and potatoes education was from flight school, soon from AMT school, and there will be other schools too as I move forward eventually earning some sheepskin. If only one thing were true about aviation it would be that you are never really “out of school”, it’s a lifelong commitment to learning, maybe not in the classroom, but still a lot of learning.

This post is not so much about the continuous pursuit of knowledge in all things aeronautical, no this post is about personal growth, and like the never ending commitment of aviation, personal growth is a lifelong exploration as well.

While preparing for this career path, I committed to making some changes in my life. I am a big guy, always have been always will be, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Over in the sidebar you may notice a Health and Fitness tab and under that tab a box, today that box reads 37 pounds lost. At 323 pounds, I am at my lowest weight in nearly two decades, but there is a long way still to go. Ultimately I am shooting for 200, which by the way would be my lowest weight since elementary school. I wrestled when I was in Jr. High in the 280+ weight class.

A big part of this has been altering my way of thinking. I have had to replace an ill conceived thought process about what “waste” and “saving” are. This old, mental attitude invoked hording and stockpiling impulses making me think that a filled plate or a filled garage was was a good thing. This thought process could have been applied to nearly anything. “If I don’t take it all now, I might not have the chance later” it’s just wrong headed. One step in the process has been learning to let go of perfectly good clothing that just doesn’t fit, too big or too small, it doesn’t matter. With the frequent changes in size, most of my clothes come from a second-hand store these days anyway so even if I rotated my entire wardrobe annually it would be at a pretty low cost and I donate cloths back when they no longer fit.

While I’m on the subject of clothes; anyone who has known me since high school can tell you I very rarely went out without some sort of loose over-shirt, sweater or jacket of some kind. It could have been 120 in the shade and I would most likely have had a jacket on. This was totally a body image thing that I have struggled with my whole life. I am still a big guy and still have those body image moments once in a while. Since the beginning of 2011 when I started this weight loss plan I have been going out in t-shirts, in public, with lots of people around! For most of you this may not sound like a big deal but this was a huge mental shift for me. I am not planning on running around in a speedo any time… well… ever, and I apologize for the image, but being free from the self imposed torment of jackets and flannel during the summer swelter is very liberating.

All of this freedom to go out into the world makes it much easier to get out and exercise which is of course helping shift my body chemistry along with the dietary changes. Lower blood pressure, faster pulse recovery, longer endurance, less pain, no insomnia, no depression, the list of quality-of-life improvements seems to grow longer every day.

With AMT school starting in 51 days (yes, I am counting) I’m looking forward to seeing how this new healthier me does in the study department.

There are always more things to do and ways to improve. In my case, the slow and steady application of change works well and I look forward to a regular cycle of New & Improved editions of me.

Until next time, blue skies and tail winds,

~FlyBoyJon

Big changes continue…

I started this post a couple of days ago. I had to be sure things were going to happen before posting. There have been some big changes in my education plan over the last two weeks.

My first full semester at San Jose City College is just about done. Nothin’ left but finals next week. I have been doing well, I like all of my classes, my instructors are great, and I have made some new friends. My classes have all been GEs because I was planning on transferring to San Jose State to work on an engineering degree.

After doing some research and chatting with persons in-the-know I came to the realization that spending six years to get a masters in engineering just might not be a good idea. Statistically it is unlikely that a newly minted, 50 year old, engineer will be able to find a job as an engineer. Further more it doesn’t get me much closer to my career objective of restoring vintage airplanes and warbirds, with instruction and aerobatic competition on the side.

Another fly in the education ointment has been that I have little to no exposure to aviation folks. I have been focused on getting my GEs done, but there have been many distractions diverting my attention. Let’s face it, I have a lot of diverse interests. What I need to be doing is getting back to eat, sleep, dream, and live aviation like I was back in flight school.

With that in mind, I found a place semi-local, to work on my aircraft mechanic certificates. This would give me what I need to actually start working in the field. It also brings my objectives into focus on a practical level. A two year FAA approved A&P (airframe & powerplant) certificate program is available down in Gillroy at Gavilan College. It’s a bit of a hike and will cost a lot in fuel and auto maintenance, but over all well worth the effort.

One of the nice things about this is that I am still only a few classes away from finishing my AS in Aviation Operations at Mountain State which I can get done slowly over the next 2 years. I will also be able to get credit for my A&P, enough credit in fact that with a hand full of other classes I would qualify for my BS in Aviation Management. As for the Masters… I can work on it through MSU, SJSU, or another institution if I choose, but it really isn’t a necessity. The engineering stuff, well, that I can do on my own. The engineer provides data as needed to the FAA but is not a “Certificate holder”, It’s the A&P/IA who signs off on work done and mods.

In other areas…

Weight loss going very well. I am just shy of 30 pounds lost since the beginning of the year That is half of my goal for this year. It feels good to be getting into shape. Getting up early every day is still lax but I am getting better about it. School will held a lot since I will have to be in Gillroy by 08:00. I have also been getting a lot more exercise, though it is not every day yet. A lot more walking on the schedule and I have been much more active over all.

I have been keeping track of my food on MyFitnessPal.com and that has helped a lot. If you struggle with weight I recommend this site. Calorie counting is not for everyone but this tool makes it a lot easier. Recently I made some changes to the automatic plan they calculate by lowering my targets for calories, sugar, and carbs while increasing fat and protein. None of the changes are drastic, just tweaks to see if they achieve the desired effect. Boy have they worked out! 11 pounds of that 30 have been over the last 14 days. I am expecting a plateau soon but I am hoping for 10 more pounds before it happens.

The day job is still not getting the attention it needs but The plan is to focus on a kick-ass-and-take-names short summer with three projects that I want to finish before school starts on August 10th.

Building the airplane has been on a bit if a hiatus. I want to be in the shop working but I just haven’t had the time. It will get done, I just don’t know when. For now, it is not a priority. Once I am working on my A&P I may be able to use the VP as shop project time.

All in all things are going well and moving forward. And really, what more can I ask for.

Until next time, blue skies and tail winds,
~FlyBoyJon

Navigation

Colonial SurveyorMaps and charts of all kinds have fascinated me as far back as I can remember. Some of my fondest memories are of time spent using or making maps. I have had numerous occasions where my skills with maps and charts have allowed me the pleasure of teaching others the art and science of navigation; on land, sea, and in the air.

As a Boy Scout I used topographical maps frequently in a wide variety of environments. As a Search and Rescue team member I used them almost daily and was an instructor for land navigation from time to time. As a pilot and ground instructor I have worked with students on chart reading and all aspects of aviation navigation. Throughout my life I have used maps and charts in my day to day work. Being a navigator with all of these experiences I have noticed a trend over the years (much like the societal trend) to rely on electronics. In this case, reliance on electronic navigation aids.

GPS is an awesome tool! I have been working with GPS systems since the 80s and I love using them with all of their advanced tracking, trip calculating, and time/distance features. They can help navigation by taking on the simple and tedious calculations and displaying the results in an easy-to-use format. As a pilot I use other radio navigational aids as well as GPS. All of them are fantastic tools, but they do share a common down side; they breed laziness, complacency, and a degradation of basic navigation skills.

It would be fair to say that well over half of the people using GPS in recreational navigation, if forced by circumstances to use a map or chart, a compass, and having an initial bearing and heading, would find it very difficult to get from point A to point B, let alone points C, D, E, and F. Even in aviation where navigation and situational awareness are critical, the advances in safety through electronic navigation have come at a potential cost: the disuse and thereby degradation of basic navigation skills.

A disheartening indicator of this complacency and loss of basic skills comes from an unlikely source, the USGS. Due to budget constraints, rapidly changing technologies and rapidly changing topography, topographical maps have gone out of use at an alarming rate. As a USGS Earth Science Corps volunteer, I supported the USGS efforts as a map annotator for many years. Several years ago the ESC was disbanded and a new organization put in its place with a new task for its volunteers; providing GPS coordinates for prominent structures. This change happened at about the same time Google Earth hit the open market, making the new USGS project seem a bit superfluous.

Even before the technological and organizational changes at USGS came the changes in product cycle. It seems that the only topos being updated were ones needed for special projects. The rest of the catalog was ignored entirely, despite vast amounts of changes taking place in the Quads. A prime example of the neglect in the new cycle is the San Jose West quadrangle. The current version is dated 1 JAN 1980. This map is now almost 30 years old. I live near this quad, I can assure you that a few things have changed, including the addition of a six-lane freeway.

I firmly believe that terrestrial navigation should be a regular subject in primary education. It leads to proficiency in so many other areas that it should be considered a foundation skill set, but with the tools available, one has to ask… Has the USGS completely lost it’s focus? Should it be retasked? Or has it become so useless, like the Census Bureau, that it should just be eliminated all together. I would hate to see the service abandon, but I think the service should be seriously reevaluated. It has become a clearing house for demographics and basic geodetic data with little real unique value due to the proliferation of GIS services offered by private companies like ESRI; a task I might add that is duplicated by the GIA and other TLA agencies. However, an increase in topographic map consumers to meet the needs of basic navigation education might drive a better product response from the USGS and generate a revitalized commercial market for there topographical products.

My apologies for the soap box here. Government waste has been piling up, and I get frustrated seeing services like the USGS destroyed with scaled-back funds rather than retasking and developing a new fiscal plan. It makes no sense to reduce budgets and staff, then expect the same workload and quality. Something has to give, and it’s usually the product. It would be better to disband the organization all together. Ether elimination or retasking would produce a better budget reduction.

But back on the subject of navigation basics. A good understanding of the basic principals of navigation can be a strong character building skill. The tasks in navigation quickly and easily become analogues to the skills in navigating life.

So what does all of this posturing mean? I guess it is thinking out loud. I have been developing projects for so long that I have gotten into the habit of thinking of projects first from the cloud perspective, then deconstructing to the smallest elements then reconstructing from the ground up.

While putting together plans for some short adventures I began working on a Basic Survival Kit (a story in and of itself) but it got me thinking – more important than the basic kit, is the foundation knowledge behind it. The tools are of little benefit unless you know how to use them. In some cases the tools will do more harm than good without proper background knowledge. The same is true for navigation, and navigation is in the top five of primary skills in a survival situation: fire, shelter, water/food, navigation, communication.

From the adventure perspective, I am looking at the basic skills needed for a successful adventure where navigation moves to the top of the list in the planing phase. You need to know your route before you can asses the equipment and materials you will need. Even the Basic Survival Kit is determined to some extent by the navigation/planning.

From a navigation sense, it is back to the basics; a topo, compass, straightedge and a pencil. Time for some back to basics thinking.

Until next time,
Trek Safe

Where is he going with this?

Taking NoteA fair question, indeed.

When I started this iteration of the website as a blog in March of 2008, the idea was to use it as a personal site only. Later it migrated to an idea of a purely commercial/organizational site, and has morphed into several variations since. In the most recent morph, I closed down a couple of other sites, redirected them to this site and cross-posted the entries from those sites here. Sounds like a mess, doesn’t it? I spent a lot of time on this site planing and preparing for this grand Aviation Adventure program (which I have not given up on, by the way) that was to become my primary focus professionally. Due to many circumstances, that plan has not born any fruit.

This post is a “clear the air” article, more for me than anyone else, though it may contain tidbits useful to others. I wanted to put the new plans out there for the universe to see, and to be a personal motivator and reference point.

Shortcomings in personality have much to do with the lack of forward motion on several plans for the site. I am a born puppeteer leader. I lead from the wings, not on stage. Getting things done is much easier for me if there is a “face man” to motivate the masses and sell the product. I am a skilled sales person and I do have the interpersonal skills to get the job done, I just don’t like to be the face man. I can do the jobs of a good sized team in the background; just don’t throw me out on stage and things will work out fine. This is my biggest hurdle in getting projects moving forward. This is also a contributing factor in this most recent change of direction.

The last few posts have been about me, not just in the subject sense but in the personal sense, and this is part of the new direction I am moving to with this site. It is a change of perspective and attitude, to view the adventures more the way I see them. The plan then is to do the adventure stuff but approach it from the back stage perspective. Go through the planing, plotting and set up, then into the training phase, on to the execution, and the grand finale, the post production documentation phase. With this perspective I will be able to do and share all of the things I love, the planing, training, adventure, and production.

As much as I would love to start building that Nieuport right away, that just aint gonna happen. As a kid I was never in shape; I was an active person, I was just an active fat person. Over the years, I have abused my body with long hours, little sleep and lots of burst activities. The kinds of things that put high strain on the body. Now, as I reach for middle age, I realize there are a lot of things I miss doing that are adventures in and of themselves. I want to get myself in better physical condition to do some of the more infrequently done adventures. One thing I have wanted to do most of my life is fly around the world as pilot in command (PIC). To do that I need to be in good physical condition, certainly better condition than I am now.

So, this is where the adventures begin. I am embarking on a physical fitness program, still in development, that is my first adventure. This change in direction began with the 5k my wife and I participated in a week ago, and moved forward in the preparation of yesterdays article on shoes. Last night I plotted out a 5k through my neighborhood and that is my new training ground, until I bump it up to a 10k.

This is the beginning of my basic fitness program. As I put together more of a program I will put up a Basic Fitness page to elaborate on what I am doing in that arena. At present, the first Adventure, with a capital A, will most likely be the Skyline To The Sea trail, from Skyline down into Big Basin State Park. As soon as I get more on the planing of that trip I will start the Adventure page. As I accumulate more Adventures, I will sort them out a bit, but the blog will contain posts about all.

Monetization is where the biggest change in plan for the site takes place. I had always planned for the site to be monetized, it was originally intended to be very early in the game. Now that element is taking a back seat. I plan on acquiring sponsors and selling advertising at some point. For now that is an incidental, not a driving factor. This is a huge shift in the sites initial concept. Where it was originally money driven, it is now a personal thing. Don’t get me wrong, I will be pimping the site in short order, it just wont be the driving force. I think that this change in attitude about the site will help to over come my personal obstacles about being the face man.