Another Year

May 14th, 2009

On May 15, 2006, I completed my Journey and reached my destination. I am sure that many of you are still keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you… Thank you……. Thank you…….

1 Year

May 13th, 2007

Tuesday will mark the passing of 1 year.

A poem in remembrance (both Malayalam and English versions) can be found by clicking here.


June 22nd, 2006

Sadly, dear friends of Semmy, on May 15, 2006 he, without any forewarning, without saying goodbye to anyone, our beloved Semmy peacefully heeded God’s call and withdrew from this world into eternity overnight. May he rest in peace, in His hands. Let us all keep Semmy in our prayers.

> Click here to view several photos Semmy recently took, along with photos from his final farewell ceremony

> Click here to view a letter written (in Malayalam) by his dad for family and friends

> Click here to read the introduction and eulogies given during Semmy’s farewell ceremony

Thanks to all those who participated physically, as well as spritually, in his farewell ceremony on May 17th and 18th. Everyone’s love and comforting words meant a lot to us.

Sebastian, Mary, Savy, and Saly

Vacation time

April 19th, 2006

I’m off to India and London for 17 days.

Tito’s off to Vegas, permanently.


“Fly, yes… land, no!”

April 5th, 2006

I do not enjoy landing the airplane. Yet. Airspeed, altitude, pitch, throttle, rudder, flaps, wind, keeping an eye on other flight traffic, eyeballing the glide slope… I find myself stressed and overloaded. Still, I have to keep at it. I’m becoming more comfortable with landings, but I’ll need a few more hours of practice before I feel completely confident.

I’m going to Kerala, the state on the soutwest spice coast of India, for my cousin Baiju’s wedding. He called my cell one day to invite me, and he doesn’t even speak English. I checked with the guys at work to see if I’d be able to take the maximum 2 weeks off (since anything less would be too short a time to justify the airfare). Once the time off was approved, I started looking for tickets. My dad found a nice routing via American Airlines and Emirates (the Dubai-based international carrier of the UAE) that minimized layover time. Chicago -> London -> Dubai -> Kochi, and the reverse on the way back. The return stop in London was on Thursday evening, which got me thinking.

Instead of booking online, my dad called American, gave them the flight numbers, and we asked what the additional cost would be to extend the return layover in London for a few days. $200. I jumped on that, because $200 for a weekend in London is hard to pass up. Here’s what my schedule looks like:

Thursday, April 20: Chicago to London, 7h 40m
Friday, April 21: London to Dubai, 6h 55m
Saturday, April 22: Dubai to Cochin, 4h
2 weeks roaming Kerala
Thursday, May 4: Cochin to Dubai, 3h 45m
Thursday, May 4: Dubai to London, 7h 25m
Weekend in London
Sunday, May 7: London to Chicago, 8h 30m

Nearly 40 hours of flight… I could use some book recommendations, people. Also, I found out elephants can be rented for about $5/hour. I would therefore also appreciate suggestions for amusing things to do with 20 or so elephants.

In the end, I will have burned 11 days (F, M-F, M-F) of PTO for 17 days of vacation. 17 days to recharge. Awesome. Now I have to see if they’ll let me go to E3, which is the week of my return…

I’ve aged.

March 23rd, 2006

Today I did one of those things that make me remember that I’ve grown up. I bought fundraiser chocolates from a coworker. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, you ask? Well, he was selling them for his kids. I remember sending my fundraiser chocolates to work with my parents. Sigh.

Nate’s movie, The Gift, is showing for a week starting on Sunday… be sure to watch it. I hear he gets slapped across the face. Theater and showtime info are at the bottom of the photo below. And don’t worry, the movie is in English.

On a side note, I’ve made my final decision… I’m gonna stick with High Voltage. Hope.

Sweet home, Chicago

March 21st, 2006

Spent the weekend in San Francisco. I listened to channel 9 on the United Airlines radio for the duration of both both flight, just to hear all the air traffic control chatter. Sadly, I found this very interesting. Anyway, while out there, I checked out LucasArts, did some hiking, caught up with a few friends, and generally left my worries behind. Most of them, anyway.

I took a bunch of photos. Click on over to SFO March ’06 to check out the better ones. I’ll upload a few QTVR panoramas once I find some decent, free photo-stitching software.

zooming down the forest road


March 4th, 2006

I’m back to being undecided about sticking around or fleeing to the west coast. Sucks.

Friday night’s flight lesson was one in which I had to play a disturbing game. See, when the aircraft is about to stall, a warning buzzer goes off. My goal Friday was to see how long I could keep the buzzer going without actually stalling, while manuevering the aircraft as instructed. It went pretty well… I was surprised that the plane was able to maintain flight down to about 45mph. I definitely feel more comfortable in the air now. Monday night I’m going to practice power-on stalls, wherein “the nose is brought upward to an attitude obviously impossible for the airplane to maintain and is held at that attitude until the full stall occurs.” Oh how I love stalling the airplane.

I finally bought a memory stick for my camera. I’m no longer limited to 7 photos at at a time. Hooray. I present 3 celebratory photos of the reef tank.

purple mushroom

frogspawn, shrimp, 'shrooms

vermetid with its web of mucous

Night flying, just for kicks

March 2nd, 2006

Today I flew the more modern Diamond Eclipse. It has a sleek composite body, glass canopy, GPS, a pair of leather seats, and is controlled by a stick instead of a yoke. It felt better than the Cessna did, but I do miss some of the simplicity. I do not miss the duct tape.

Diamond Eclipse

The sky was overcast, and barely legal conditions for visual flight rules, but we went up anyway. By the time I had finished the pre-flight checks, radioed for clearance, taxied, and gotten airborn, the sun was just about gone. Darkness and clouds made the start of the flight a little unsettling.

Once the sun had completely disappeared and night had fallen, the view was surreal. Don’t know how else to describe it. I started by doing some simple turns, climbs, and descents. Once I had a feel for the Eclipse, I learned about low-speed flight and the effect it has on the controls. Next, it was time to practice stalling the plane and recovering. To get the plane to stall, you basically cut the engine down to idle speed and wait for it to stop flying and start falling out of the sky… and then you give it full throttle and attempt to regain control of the airplane. I was definitely nervous as the instructor talked about the maneuver, pretty freaked out when he actually did it, and horrified when it was my turn. After a couple of stalls (and, thankfully, recoveries), I flew over to Elgin and then followed I-90 at about 2,500′ to get back to Schaumburg. Wojciech handled the landing.

Afterwards, I met up with Tito, Cella, and Byung for dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack in Schaumburg. Tito showed up wearing a cup, which he did not hesitate to employ as a percussion instrument. On the way out, Cella gave it a good thump.

Cella kicks Tito

More flying tomorrow. Tomorrow also happens to be the last day at High Voltage for my “mentor.” That blows, but at least he’s off to greener (and probably warmer) pastures. Good luck, Mike, and congratulations on your freedom. Ironically, we may run into each other more now that we’re not both owned, High Voltage style.

“Take off whenever you’re ready”

February 26th, 2006

So, Saturday I drove over to Schaumburg Regional Airport and walked in with this stupid grin on my face… I couldn’t contain it. Then I found out that they had messed up and scheduled me for Sunday instead of Saturday. The grin only momentarily disappeared. I confirmed the Sunday slot and then headed to work for the rest of the day.

This morning (Sunday) I raced over to the airport after church. The stupid grin was back. Met my instructor, Wojciech (pronouced “Voitek”). He’s probably only a year or 2 older than I. We then walked out to the field and to the airplane.

The Cessna 172 in which I made my first flight

It was one of the older planes in the fleet… a bit of a clunker. I even spotted some duct tape on the rudder. I scheduled the plane with short notice, but I requested this model in order to get a feel for different aircraft as I train.

After the pre-flight walkaround and instrument checks, I was instructed to taxi the plane to the runway. So I did. Very strange, controlling something with only your feet. We got to the runway… and I was told to take off whenever I was ready. So… I gave it full throttle, accelerated down the runway, used the rudder to maintain the center line, and was pretty much speechless when the tires left the ground. We climbed for a while, I tried basic turns and learned about visual cues and landmarks I could use to orient myself. It was pretty cool seeing the Zion nuclear power station off to the north and the Chicago skyline way out to the east. After that, I did some more complex turns combined with ascents and descents. Next, we looped around Elgin and I snapped a photo of the riverboat casino.

Elgin and the Grand Victoria riverboat casino

After that, I was guided to a few more local landmarks, such as the square forest (a forest that marks the beginning of DuPage Airport’s busy airspace) and the salt and pepper shakers (a pair of large cylindrical water towers). Then it was time to land, and thankfully Wojciech took the controls for that part. We tied the plane down to its parking spot, I paid, and I headed over to work again. Flying is incredible… and a little scary.

On a different note, I took a few photos of my fish tank:

zebra dwarf hermit crab

frogspawn coral

cleaner shrimp and a pair of firefish gobies.

The macro mode on the camera is very impressive. Check out the detail on this lighter; remember that this image has been scaled down considerably.

macro shot of a lighter