Saturday, March 26, 2011

On a magic carpet.................

Under the heading, "Are you kidding me", comes this dandy:

Thanks BSBB

Chuck Yeager would be proud...................

Maggie's Farm has a great post up of an airline pilot trying
to land his 767  in the moments following the earthquake in
Japan.  I have shamelessly cut and pasted the pilot's story below. 
It is one to make you give thanks for the talented people who
enable us to fly places.   The original post is here.   Love the
"Negative Ghost-Rider, the Pattern is full" line.

"I'm currently still in one piece, writing from my room in the Narita crew hotel. It's 8am. This is my inaugural trans-pacific trip as a brand new, recently checked out, international 767 Captain and it has been interesting, to say the least, so far. I've crossed the Atlantic three times so far so the ocean crossing procedures were familiar.

By the way, stunning scenery flying over the Aleutian Islands. Everything was going fine until 100 miles out from Tokyo and in the descent for arrival. The first indication of any trouble was that Japan air traffic control started putting everyone into holding patterns. At first we thought it was usual congestion on arrival. Then we got a company data link message advising about the earthquake, followed by another stating Narita airport was temporarily closed for inspection and expected to open shortly (the company is always so positive).

From our perspective things were obviously looking a little different. The Japanese controller's anxiety level seemed quite high and he said expect "indefinite" holding time. No one would commit to a time frame on that so I got my copilot and relief pilot busy looking at divert stations and our fuel situation, which, after an ocean crossing is typically low.

It wasn't long, maybe ten minutes, before the first pilots started requesting diversions to other airports. Air Canada, American, United, etc. all reporting minimal fuel situations. I still had enough fuel for 1.5 to 2.0 hours of holding. Needless to say, the diverts started complicating the situation.

Japan air traffic control then announced Narita was closed indefinitely due to damage. Planes immediately started requesting arrivals into Haneada, near Tokyo, a half dozen JAL and western planes got clearance in that direction but then ATC announced Haenada had just closed. Uh oh! Now instead of just holding, we all had to start looking at more distant alternatives like Osaka, or Nagoya.

One bad thing about a large airliner is that you can't just be-pop into any little airport. We generally need lots of runway. With more planes piling in from both east and west, all needing a place to land and several now fuel critical ATC was getting over-whelmed. In the scramble, and without waiting for my fuel to get critical, I got my flight a clearance to head for Nagoya, fuel situation still okay. So far so good. A few minutes into heading that way, I was "ordered" by ATC to reverse course. Nagoya was saturated with traffic and unable to handle more planes (read- airport full). Ditto for Osaka.

With that statement, my situation went instantly from fuel okay, to fuel minimal considering we might have to divert a much farther distance. Multiply my situation by a dozen other aircraft all in the same boat, all making demands requests and threats to ATC for clearances somewhere. Air Canada and then someone else went to "emergency" fuel situation. Planes started to heading for air force bases. The nearest to Tokyo was Yokoda AFB. I threw my hat in the ring for that initially. The answer - Yokoda closed! no more space.

By now it was a three ring circus in the cockpit, my copilot on the radios, me flying and making decisions and the relief copilot buried in the air charts trying to figure out where to go that was within range while data link messages were flying back and forth between us and company dispatch in Atlanta. I picked Misawa AFB at the north end of Honshu island. We could get there with minimal fuel remaining. ATC was happy to get rid of us so we cleared out of the maelstrom of the Tokyo region. We heard ATC try to send planes toward Sendai, a small regional airport on the coast which was later the one I think that got flooded by a tsunami.

Atlanta dispatch then sent us a message asking if we could continue to Chitose airport on the Island of Hokkaido, north of Honshu. Other Delta planes were heading that way. More scrambling in the cockpit - check weather, check charts, check fuel, okay. We could still make it and not be going into a fuel critical situation ... if we had no other fuel delays. As we approached Misawa we got clearance to continue to Chitose. Critical decision thought process. Let's see - trying to help company - plane overflies perfectly good divert airport for one farther away...wonder how that will look in the safety report, if anything goes wrong.

Suddenly ATC comes up and gives us a vector to a fix well short of Chitose and tells us to standby for holding instructions. Nightmare realized. Situation rapidly deteriorating. After initially holding near Tokyo, starting a divert to Nagoya, reversing course back to Tokyo then to re-diverting north toward Misawa, all that happy fuel reserve that I had was vaporizing fast. My subsequent conversation, paraphrased of course...., went something like this:

"Sapparo Control - Delta XX requesting immediate clearance direct to Chitose, minimum fuel, unable hold."

"Negative Ghost-Rider, the Pattern is full"

"Sapparo Control - make that - Delta XX declaring emergency, low fuel, proceeding direct Chitose"

"Roger Delta XX, understood, you are cleared direct to Chitose, contact Chitose approach....etc...."

Enough was enough, I had decided to preempt actually running critically low on fuel while in another indefinite holding pattern, especially after bypassing Misawa, and played my last ace...declaring an emergency. The problem with that is now I have a bit of company paperwork to do but what the heck.

As it was - landed Chitose, safe, with at least 30 minutes of fuel remaining before reaching a "true" fuel emergency situation. That's always a good feeling, being safe. They taxied us off to some remote parking area where we shut down and watched a half dozen or more other airplanes come streaming in. In the end, Delta had two 747s, my 767 and another 767 and a 777 all on the ramp at Chitose. We saw tWo American airlines planes, a United and two Air Canada as well. Not to mention several extra Al Nippon and Japan Air Lines planes.

Post-script - 9 hours later, Japan Air Lines finally got around to getting a boarding ladder to the plane where we were able to get off and clear customs. - that however, is another interesting story.

By the way - while writing this - I have felt four additional tremors that shook the hotel slightly - all in 45 minutes.


Negative Ghost-Rider..............

Tyler Cowen defines a problem.........

The question was one of amateurs versus professionals.
Full post here.  Meaningful excerpt here:

"Policymakers need more of a sheer willingness to do the
right thing, even if it means sacrificing reelection. Selection
mechanisms, however, do not much favor that bravery. For
a sane, well-adjusted person, the job is neither fun nor well-
paying, so the job attracts people who love being in office
and thus who fail to do the right thing."

Something new I learned today..................

Energy consumption:  It is not the cars, it's the buildings.

"All the cars and trucks on the road account of about 6.5%
of energy consumption in this country....If you figure SUVs
as half of that, that's 3%, maybe 3.5%.  So even if you
doubled the gas mileage of every SUV on the road, you're
talking about a marginal effect in a marginal area, all things
considered.  That kind of misguided focus keeps us from
addressing the real issue."

-Excerpted from The Commercial Real Estate Revolution

Great moments in historical fiction.......

From Leon Uris:

      "What we are," he said, "is consumed by the pair of Irish
fantasies.  We have submitted as a people to a Christ fantasy that
has dulled our minds to think for ourselves and kept us on our
knees pleading guiltily to a terrifying God whom we are not
permitted to know as an intimate....but only to perpetuate a
vaguely defined, unquestioned myth of a land beyond the
mountains.  And...the republican fantasy that fills us with false,
childlike courage when we're bragging about our manhood in the
shebeen, telling each other what brave lads we are.  Glorifying
deeds that were never done and feeding ourselves republican
saltpeter for a liberation we'll never live to see.  Never!  For
God's sake, never, facing up to what is real.  We're never out of
our fantasies long enough to look at ourselves and say 'This is
what we are.  The fields are real.  The rents are real.  Kilty's
death is real as was his pain in life.'  Nae, but we have to smother
in the sauces of fantasy, hovering fairies, the smile of Mary and
her promises of the hereafter, the jail breaks that never took
place.  You deal in fantasy Daddo, you're the shanachie."
       "Aye," the old man answered.  "The problem being that that
most of the poor bastards aren't Tomas Larkins.  Strip the fantasy
away from most men and women and they won't be able to make
it through this dirty life.  All a dream is, is a bit of poteen to dull
the pain.  Is it all that bad?  Are you telling me, Tomas, that
Conor over there is not to be allowed to have a few dreams of
his own?"
       Tomas came at us awesomely.  "I'm telling Conor that I'm
not the son of Kilty, only his follower.  I'm telling his that the only
thing that matters is for his daddy to farm his land well, pay his
debts, feed his children, and pass his fields along in good order. 
Wrap yourself in Irish fantasies, lad, and it will end up crushing
your chest like a giant boulder rolling amok down the
mountainside and tumbling the cottage."
       I watched their four soiled and weary faces, hoping that a
spark would ignite them, but they had stripped each other of
their wild Irish dreams, and even as Tomas told Kevin he
would support him there was no celebration in it.
      "You've my pity," Tomas said, "for the day Home Rule
becomes a threat you'll have a reality all right enough.  Howling
Orange mobs whipped to hate and screaming for our blood. 
Is that fair enough, Daddo."
      The old man's blinded eyes stared foggily into infinity.  And
tears of reality fell.

-excerpted from Trinity, by Leon Uris

Friday, March 25, 2011


"To know men is to be wise:
To know one's self is to be illumined.
To conquer men is to have strength:
To conquer one's self is to be stronger still,
And to know when you have enough is to be rich."

Sketch of the day..................

Be prepared to smile.   Here

Crop Circles Sneakers

Great moments in Mystery writing............

Watson has just met Holmes:

       "By the way," I asked suddenly, stopping and turning upon
Stamford, "how the deuce did he know that I had come from
       My companion smiled an enigmatical smile.  "That's just his
little peculiarity." he said.  "A good many people have wanted
to know how he finds things out."
       "Oh! a mystery is it?"  I cried, rubbing my hands.  "This is
very piquant.  I am much obliged to you for bringing us together. 
'The proper study of mankind is man,' you know."
       "You must study him then," Stamford said, as he bade me
good-bye.  "You'll find him a knotty problem, though.  I'll wager
he learns more about you than you about him.  Good-bye."
       "Good-bye," I answered, and strolled on to my hotel,
considerably interested in my new acquaintance.

-A Study in Scarlet, A.Conan Doyle

This is what it looks like when..............

...........people, whose frame of reference for real estate is other
than "bricks and mortar", come to dominate the commercial
investment markets.  Confusing real estate investing with
investing in paper instruments is a no-no.  Hopefully, those
bubble days are behind us.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why I love my job.......Part II

When my business partner and I first started investing in
commercial real estate, excess capital was not our strong suit. 
We learned very quickly that prudent and profitable investing 
meant for us the buying and fixing up of tired old buildings that
 no one else loved.  Twenty five years later we are still at it.

Last fall we were introduced to a couple of seasoned business
men who had a well thought out plan, with a sense of urgency
attached.  The urgency was that they had bought an entire
production line for the mixing, pelletizing, and extruding of
a blend of plastic and wood fibers.  This brand new production
line, which they acquired for about thirty five cents on the dollar,
happened to be in shipping containers in some warehouse in some
exotic port.  But, the containers were soon due to be put on a
ship bound for the United States and they had no building in which
to put them. Ergo, the urgency. 

Besides being smart, organized, and prepared, our new friends
are also really good guys.  We quickly developed a great rapport.

To make a very long and interesting story short, we (with some
other partners) bought a building and entered into a lease
agreement with these guys.  The building we acquired for them
was a vacant 160,000 square foot second generation factory, at
risk of being turned into a warehouse.  Nothing against ware-
houses, mind you, but they generally employ a handful of
people, while this operation will employ many dozens of people. 
Industrial employment is still the backbone of our economy. 
Having a new employer embrace our community is a very sweet

They are not yet open for business.  Creating production lines out
of the unassembled parts in forty shipping containers is a bit of a
job.  Progress is being made, however, and by summer a new
industrial production facility, with new industrial employment,
will be coming on line in Licking County. A win-win-win deal.

The building

Production line taking shape

Some assembly required

words....painting images and creating rhythm

View From The Ledge strikes again.  More really fine writing
is here.  Excerpt here:

"Old neighborhoods are where you grew up, where friends entered your life, some would leave, and some remain behind. It’s where you learned to walk, to ride a bike, where you skinned your knees right thru your coarse new jeans. It’s where you sat up for hours, listening to AM radio in the dark, staring at the ceiling of your room, imagining bridges and ferris wheels, hot rods and cigarettes. It’s where you fell in love for the first time, had your heart broken, and fell in love again. It’s the poetry you saved, and the ones you wrote it to, that you stored in boxes and folders to discover later in the attic. Before and after stories, what was, what is."

Thanks Jeff.

Decisions, decisions, decisions........

As Spencer said a hundred times to Hawk, "Choices are good."
But, they do require some decision making.

Thanks Jessica

On "the pause".............

"In music, in poetry, and in life, the rest, the pause, the slow
movements are essential to comprehending the whole."
-Maryanne Wolf

Steve McQueen, born this day in 1930....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On ruts and grooves..............

"Get out of your box! Get into your box! Whatever. But for
the sake of your people, your business, and your sanity, get
 out of your rut and back into a groove."

Tom Asacker says some really useful things.  Like here.

I wish I knew................

whether this was good news or bad:

"Capital is now chasing real estate again, and it is only
a matter of time before real estate investment capital
becomes less disciplined."

Quote comes from columnist Joe Caton in the Jan/Feb issue
of the National Real Estate Investor

Headlines like this puzzle me.......

Excess Capital Spurs Buyers Into
Purchases for Fear of Missing Deals

Do really smart people invest because they are afraid of missing a
deal?    Evidence apparently suggests they do.

Joe Caton writes in his March column in the National Real Estate

"While commercial real estate fundamentals are clearly in the
early stages of a long healing process, the large amount of
debt and equity that’s already being deployed in the industry
following the Great Recession is raising eyebrows. Jamie
Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, recently stated that the
expected buildup of capital in the banking system over the
next year “may make people do stupid things.”

Oh, great.  For this they make all that money?

Full essay here


Time Magazine picks the Top 100 Toys of all time,  here. Looking
at their list and checking it twice, I could not find several of my
favorite toys.  I was pleased to see that the wiffle ball and frisbee
made it.  Many happy summer days were whiled away playing
wiffle ball in the Brooks's back yard.  While I never made the
"all quad" team in college, chasing down frisbees is pure fun.

Here are a few of my childhood toys that failed to make the cut:
The Erector Set

HO Gauge Model Trains

Lincoln Logs

Thanks Gerard

You, you can't turn away....................

Walk it back
Walk it back
Walk it back
What, what would you
Have had me say?
Instead of what I said

Where, where would I go?
How could I follow that?
Except to do what I did

Which it's to
Walk it back
Walk it back
Hmmm... Walk it back

Time reversing me why
erasing me vice
and tried to start again

You, don't you turn this around
I have not touch the ground in
I don't know how long

You say to
Walk it back
Walk it back
Walk it back
Hmmm... Walk it back
Walk it back
Walk it back

Time, time, time it cannot revive
You, you can't turn away
You asked me to stay
but something needs to change

Why can't you
Walk it back
Walk it back
Walk it back
Walk it back
Walk it back
Hmmm... Walk it back

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A plan comes together..........

Today was the "quiet" opening for the new Arensberg Pharmacy
in downtown Newark.  It is a happy story.  Downtown Newark
has been without a drug store since the CVS/RiteAid/Walgreens
tidal wave rolled through Central Ohio a decade ago.  Trust me
when I tell you that a downtown needs a drug store.  We have
one now!

A few years back, Alban's Furniture closed their doors.  Their
building sat idle until the good people at Arensberg decided
to relocate downtown.  Work on the building commenced
in the late fall.  Still some warm weather work to be completed
on the exterior of the building, but the brand new interior
is open for business.

I love my day job.

New sign, old sign.  Outside not quite done.

Hey, that's today

floor tile guy went craftsman on us

Commerce is going on

Ready for business

Michael Wade posts a classic..............

Alka-Seltzer commercial here.   My favorite one is here:

The Mighty E.........................Part III

If I had a deeper knowledge of art, these blog headers from
Eclecticity would be sorted into fancy and meaningful categories, 
and tagged with explanations and interpretations of what the
artist was trying to convey. But, I am not all that knowledgeable
about art, and when looking at the second header in today's
gallery, I just shrug my shoulders and conclude that coneheads in
trench coats make as much sense as anything else in this world
of ours.  

The creativity and energy involved in creating the 48 headers, 
displayed in this three part retrospective, amazes me.  I suspect
Doug changes his blog headers mostly to amuse himself, but
then he generously shares it with us.  What comes across most
to me is a sense of exploration, imagination, and playfulness.

A picture is worth a thousand words and as our boy says,
"Few Really Understand The Word Eclectic." 

Monday, March 21, 2011

From the Mind of Eclecticity....Part II

Blog headers as an art form.  Who would have thought of that?
Picking up where we left off yesterday, here is another
sampling of the good stuff from the Mighty E.

To be continued..........................

Monday's Poem............

                  A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

-Robert Frost

On gardens.................

Despite the gardener's best intentions, Nature will improvise
-Michael P. Garafalo

Don't plant a rose garden unless you mean to look after it.
-Beatrix Farrand

The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for
him there.
-George Bernard Shaw

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing
a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes
out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
-Author Unknown

Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there. 
-Thomas Fuller

Everything that slows us down and forces patience,
everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature,
is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.
-May Sarton

Plant carrots in January and you'll never have to eat carrots.
-Author Unknown

My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I
made while learning to see things from the plant's point of
-H. Fred Dale
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun,
heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just
on the body, but the soul.
-Alfred Austin