I had this notion about sports playoffs where teams are selected into different conferences, where sometimes a team from one conference will miss the playoffs though it would have been well in the playoff mix in the other conference. So here is the rule I would propose:
If the lowest seeded team to make the playoffs in one conference has a losing overall record, and the highest seeded team to miss the playoffs in the other conference has a winning overall record, then those two teams shall play in the arena of the team with the losing record, with the winner of that game advancing to the playoffs in the lowest seeded spot for the conference of the team with the losing overall record. Where a team, pursuant to this rule, plays as the lowest seeded team in another conference, it shall be treated for all venue determinations to have a lower record than any team which it meets while competing in the playoffs, excepting the final interconference game or series of the playoffs (ie the actual championship game or series).
Just a thought, there.


In auditing news:

borgo -- Done. As in, over, finished, gone in one end and came out the other. Okay, that last one sounded not so good.
Jack -- still on page 2 of 20. But, ready to roll!!

Who else wants some? Blessings!!

I don't have much time but wanted to let people know that my oldest daughter has been hospitalized due to a potential bone infection. She's in surgery now, they're doing a biopsy and putting in a PICC line for antibiotics. MRI indicates that her right heel and medial malleolus are affected. Hopefully she will respond to treatment rapidly so we can go home soon. Things have alternated between tedious boredom, nothing much happens on a holiday and a barrage of information about what might be happening internally. She's not in much pain, thankfully, her fever is gone, and it looks like we caught things early. Despite numerous tests, no one is really sure what is exactly wrong, certain numbers are elevated but others are normal which is confusing. People have been very supportive and the hospital staff has been great so apart from wanting clean clothes and our own beds, we've been hanging in there. Thanks to everyone who has sent support and encouragement, that has really helped. Hope everyone else has been surviving the heat, I'll try and post updates when I can.

Update 1: Biopsy was much more painful than was described. Jill was crying and almost screaming about the pain in her heel. They gave her some anti-nausea meds which probably prevented her from vomiting. Her best friend came to visit not long after she arrived back in her room. It was really good to see some of her personality come back. Before surgery she was joking around with the surgery team, she didn't seem scared and despite the surroundings she seemed very comfortable. Children's Hospital in Milwakee is a nationally ranked hospital and I have been really impressed with how people are treating us as a family and her as a patient. She is now getting two different broad spectrum antibiotics. Eventually these will be done at home but for now the hospital staff is administering them. Best case scenario means she would come home tomorrow but that seems unlikely at this point.

Update 2: We went backwards a bit after Jill threw up this afternoon. I left around three, it was so nice to be home and wearing clean clothes, I took the best shower I've had in a while, sat around watching my Twitter feed, and tried to catch up on phone calls and Facebook. The house is a disaster, we left Tuesday after the call from Jill's pediatrician telling us to get to the hospital in Milwaukee ASAP and Jill hasn't been home since July 3, 2012. We didn't expect to spend the night then, last night we got the news very late and we were hoping that she could come home tomorrow but now we're pretty sure that she won't. My youngest really wanted to stay with her sister but the hospital won't allow that which I can understand, but that doesn't help Jane as she really misses her sister. Antibiotics were started today, she's currently receiving two broad spectrum meds that may be changed if we can identify which germ is causing the infection. Jill didn't want a popsicle or Gatorade, she's back on the IV but at least now she has the line so they don't have to restick her. Jane fell asleep during the ride home, I'm hoping both girls sleep in as I think that would do them both good.

When I was leaving to go back to the hospital, I saw a fox crossing our yard. It was so thin that initially I thought it was a large cat or a small dog. It was panting, searching for water but it kept trotting. I'm normally not a huge outdoors person in the backwoods sense but the fox was sad to me. I don't know why it affected me, probably because I'm worn down and tired from the past few days but I kept thinking about that poor little animal who will die without something to drink. The lake is not far, maybe the fox will make it there before it loses its life to dehydration. My wake/sleep schedule is pretty messed up. I was so tired driving home and now I'm awake again. It's funny how little most things that I thought were important really matter. I've been disappointed in some of my family members but my friends have been true champions. My friend said that the security team deserves a special mention - they searched through her box of organic grapes, apples, and carrot juice. It seemed suspicious since it wasn't in a traditional grocery bag. Everyone has to wear a visible pass, security is very tight which is probably good even if we're amused by it. Can't imagine how awful it would be if something criminal happened to a child at the hospital.

Update 3: Jill is coming home tomorrow! Today the art therapist stopped by. One woman let Jill paint a mask and the other gave her some modeling clay and markers. My in-laws dropped off some make your own placemat books and our staff minister from church dropped off a book of word searches and crossword puzzles. Since Jill will need IV antibiotics at home I learned how to flush the IV with saline. I was more than a little nervous but things went smoothly. It's good to see Jill getting into some trouble although that is also frustrating. Today she was able to bear some weight on her heel and even went on the exercise bike in her room for about twenty seconds which may not sound like much but is impressive considering that her condition is painful and the needle biopsy only made it worse. Through this ordeal she has really been amazing. She hasn't complained much and has held up through pain, uncertainty, and lack of food. Today she ate breakfast for the first time since she arrived at the hospital, this was also the first day she kept down all three of the meals that she ate.

My sister took a picture of Jill and her cousin, a positive that came out of this experience is that the cousins were able to spend more time together. I have been disappointed with certain members of my family although the majority of them have been very supportive. My mom had car trouble the night she visited, she made a comment about me going for the uncombed hair look which I did not appreciate. My husband did not think Jill needed to be taken in when I talked to him about it on Monday. Tuesday afternoon I made the decision to take her in without consulting him and I'm glad I did. My mother said he was right to be judicious, that also did not sit well with me but I let both comments ride as I can't afford to dwell on anything negative right now. Lately I've been more of a Twitter junkie than an E2 addict. A nice thing there is I choose who appears in my feed so I can surround myself with people who share my interests and attitudes. I'm beginning to form more friendships, and it's hard to find people with too many friends that care.



There comes a time when a people have been camped in one place for many years that the land has grown tired and seems to only produce weeds and hoards of destructive vermin. I have been continuously gardening in the same place for close to ten years and I find that it may be time to give the earth a rest. It is scarcely summer and yet I find myself wanting to burn the whole garden to the ground in a ritual cleansing. I have a flamethrower and I am tempted to do just that, but as dry as it has been, I might set the whole yard on fire like my neighbors already have done this year.

It has been ugly hot this week. It is going to remain this way until Sunday where the temperatures should return to the mid eighties. The heat has helped to worsen the drought we have been experiencing. I have been watching the plants in the corn fields curling up and crop yields are not expected to be good for the region.

The heat helped to create a really nasty storm last Sunday. I was north by a county at work, where there was not a cloud in the sky, when it blew through Kane and DuPage Counties with winds that topped 80 MPH. At local farmer market in Bartlett, the wind picked up the tent, ripping the poles right out of the asphalt of the parking lot. Old trees fell onto houses, crushing cars and downing power lines. I regained my power after 13 hours that night but some people in Wheaton and Glen Ellyn to my east are still without power. No power and no air conditioning for four days and counting in one-hundred degree heat. Poor bastards.

As for me, I had a few limbs to drag off to the burn pit to cut up later. The wind, of course, knocked down my corn, right as the tassels should be pollinating the ears. Fortunately, the roots held and the plants up righted itself quickly and now ears are starting to fill out. Looks like all is not lost.

I have been trying to keep the garden watered. The storm produced about an inch of rain but that has been the only real precipitation that we have had in the past month. The extreme heat and cloudless days are intensifying the drought through evaporation. I have not mowed my lawn in over a month.

In June I harvested some very nice heads of cabbage as well as good sized beets and plenty of carrots. I have about thirty heads of garlic which are dry and ready to bring indoors. I have been paying close attention to watering the onions. Onions need lots of water in their later growth and I have been rewarded with dozens of nice big bulbs. The plants which did not seem to be making bulbs have already been harvested and, along with the cabbages, beets and carrots have made many gallons of June Peasant's Stew.

The garden is choking with weeds that have flourished in the heat. I need to do something about the nutgrass in particular because they are starting to produce seed heads. Today I found an article that suggests that nutgrass can be killed with molasses. Apparently, diluted molasses is a good overall tonic for the soil as it makes food for beneficial microbes which then flourish. Nutgrass stores nutrients in a nutlet several inches below the soil line. One such microbe, or the molasses itself, has the effect of either destroying or starving the nutlets so that the grass can be killed and will not return. I will try this and post the results when I get around to writing my nutgrass node.

But neither nutgrass nor downed corn is at the root of my gardening despair. It is the cucumber beetles which are bringing me, quickly this year, to my decision to let my garden lie fallow in 2013. In spite of the beneficial nematodes that I amended into the soil to devour their larva, the little yellow bastards are infesting my garden in numbers even greater than last year. I have been spraying the melons, the squash and the cucumbers once a week with a copper spray as ascribed. But the pests are relentless and already several cucumber plants and a few melons have succumbed to the wilting virus that they carry. I seem to be having less of a problem with squash bugs this year so I think that the copper spray is working.

Because the corn is tassling right now, the cucumber beetles, along with the japanese beetles, are all over the corn devouring the ear silks and eating tassel pollen. The corn ears seem very tight so hopefully this wont damage the kernels but other pests might exploit this damage to get to the kernels and spoil the ears. There are so many cucumber beetles that I fear when the corn has set they will turn to the cukes and melons and cause a total crop loss before the plants manage to set a single fruit. They are behind in growth but are flowering. I am picking the flowers in an attempt to encourage quicker growth. But it is my rule to do a minimum amount of spraying once the plants flower so I won't risk poisoning the pollinating bees. If I kill the bees, to me the whole point of home gardening is pointless and I might as well just buy from the farm stand. Looks like I will be anyways.

So that is it for now. The tomato plants are, so far, blight free and have set green fruits. That is one good thing about a drought, lower humidity inhibits fungal growth. The Okra is still very small. I probably will not be making gumbo when the corn has matured. I might, however have some eggplants soon. I anticipate harvesting onions in July, potatoes in August, and a total loss of all melons and cucumbers. I might get lucky and enjoy some summer squash before they too succumb to wilt.

I will see if molasses kills nutgrass. If it does not, I will have to resort to a nutgrass specific chemical herbicide. Either way, I believe that I am going to abandon my plans for a fall garden and perform a near-full till in the fall and broadcast a cover crop, probably clover, to let the soil rest for a year. Many crops are heavy feeders of nitrogen which can get depleted from the soil. Clover is a nitroge-fixing lequme which restores nitrogen back into the soil. A cover crop will help to prevent soil-erosion in a fallow field and will help to smother other weeds from taking root. Cover crops can be then tilled under which further adds green organic matter into the soil.

I will keep logging my gardening triumphs and woes unless I wind up in the nuthouse from work related exaustion.

Hop #11

Despite scheduling my flight for later in the day today, the winds still hadn't died down when I got to the airport. When I strolled out to start preflight, the winds were 10-15 knots - directly across the runway. Sigh. So no way I was going to solo today. However, lemons->lemonade - I needed to work on crosswind takeoffs and landings anyway. My instructor wandered out as I was finishing the preflight. "What've we got?"

"5 gallons right, 7 gallons left, 6 quarts of oil, all correct."

"So that gives us how long?"

Thought for a second. "Uh, at 9 gph that means an hour and twenty minutes, with a 45-minute reserve...yeah, we need to gas it."

"Yep. And, handy - look, there's the tow cart." It was true; one of the airport employees was towing a Piper Warrior past our nose, returning from the fueling stand. My CFI jogged after him, and he parked the Warrior and came back. They hooked 12732's nosewheel up with a tow bar, and he pulled the airplane over towards the pumps. My CFI and I stood on the apron for a few seconds, just looking around - windsock, trees, sun, clouds - and then walked after him. I unrolled the grounding strap and grounded the airplane on the exhaust pipe, then unrolled the fuel hose and hauld the ladder out with me. Climbing up to the right wing, I remembered this time to stick my middle finger down into the tank as I filled it, wiggling it to determine when the gas was nearing the top.

Unfortunately for me, the fuel was right around body temperature - the airplane was hot from sitting in the sun, and the fuel pump was at ambient at around 90 F, so just as I was saying "Hey, that feels like..." a geyser of avgas shot out of the tank.


Next tank I climbed all the way up on the ladder, stuck my Cool Pilot Sunglasses(tm) up on my forehead and squinted into the darkness of the tank; this time, I could just barely see when the sloshing started near the top, and I decided discretion was the better part of valor and declined to top the tank off.

Hm, maybe *this* is why the right tank on 12732 is always slightly fuller than the left...

Anyway, rolled the hoses and grounding strap, got settled, fired up the mill and looked around. "Which runway should I use?"

"Well, it's right down the middle - " at that moment the radio crackled.

"Northampton traffic, Piper zero two Victor is inbound north of the field, entering a left crosswind for runway one four Northampton."

"Okay, I guess I'll use one four then." Got a shrug and a nod, taxied around and down to the departure end of one four.

"Traffic on the ground at Northampton, this is Piper zero two Victor, I can take a long downwind if you'd like to go."

*click* "Zero two Victor, Skyhawk 12732 - negative, we have to do a runup anyway, take your time."

"Zero two Victor, thank you."

Did the runup - power to 1700, check ammeter? check; oil pressure? check; fuel? check; suction? check, then left magneto? 50 RPM drop, check; right magneto? 75 RPM drop, check; carb heat? 100 RPM drop, check, pull the power back to 1000. Set the transponder to ALT/1200, set the gyrocompass and altimeter. While I was busy with this, zero two Victor had floated past us and was taxiing back for the last turnoff. "Northampton traffic, zero two Victor is clear of the active."

Declared departure and taxied out to the centerline. My CFI reached over. "Okay, crosswind from the left, so...correct, full left aileron, roll that out as you get speed and have it fully out for climbout."

Brief digression for crosswind ops. Normally, you pick the end of the runway that has you taking off and landing with your nose into the wind for additional lift and for shorter rolls. However, sometimes (as today) the damn wind is not cooperating, and is directly across your available runway. Larger airports have multiple runways, and most of them have at least one 'cross' - runways that are perpendicular to each other for this very reason. That gives you four directions and four chances at having a runway aligned properly for the wind - and means your maximum crosswind component will be 45 degrees. 7B2, however, like most small fields, has one runway - and if the wind is across it, well, tough noogies.

Crosswinds have to be compensated for on takeoff and landing. Let's go with takeoff, because that's what I'm about to do. In this case, you might think that so long as the wheels of the airplane are on the ground, it can be ignored - but not so. Especially with a high wing airplane like a Skyhawk, a crosswind can get 'underneath' the upwind wing. If it does that, it can lift that wing high, with all that wing surface to push on. At best, that will mean you'll be lucky to avoid ground looping the airplane as one half of your main landing gear leaves the ground. At worst, it can (and has) ended up throwing the airplane entirely over on its side. This is not likely in a 15-kt wind at rest or taxi - but remember, just before takeoff, the 'apparent weight' of the airplane is nearly zero as lift on the wings develops, so all the wind really has to do is tip over a neutrally balanced aircraft - and that's completely not keeping the shiny side up.

So before you start your takeoff roll, you turn your yoke completely into the wind. This causes the upwind wing's aileron to rise (and the downwind one to lower), developing a downforce on the upwind wing. Thus, the upwind wing stays low, and any wind pressure just pushes you harder onto your gear. However, as you get close to liftoff, you want to make sure that correction is neutralized so that you don't lift off the ground and immediately start rotating upwind, possibly tapping your upwind gear or maybe even scraping a wingtip. So, as your aircraft picks up speed and the ailerons develop enough force to allow you to compensate with less and less deflection, you start 'rolling the correction out' - and by the time the wheels lift, you should have the yoke centered again.

Now, of course, the airplane will immediately begin to drift downwind, although without rolling. This can be bad. So as soon as you're off the ground, you point the nose of the airplane slightly upwind, enough so that your ground track follows straight out from the runway - correcting with rudder rather than aileron.

Voilà, a crosswind takeoff.

So I did that.

On climbout, turned east/crosswind a bit early as one four's flight path takes you towards the ridgeline hills southeast of the Connecticut River. As I came around to a downwind, my CFI asked "So what will the wind be doing?"

"It's going to blow me in towards the runway, so I should stay a bit wide and be ready for an abbreviated base leg."

Did that, but as I came around for my first landing, I said "I think I'm high." Turned final, looked at the runway - yeah.

As we floated over the threshold, my CFI said "Where are we going to touch down?"

Looked. "Too far down." Slid the throttle back in. *click* "Northampton traffic, Skyhawk 12732 is going around for one four Northampton." Carb heat out, flaps up, steadied back on climbout. "I was high. How'd I end up high?"

"You knew you were going to have a short base due to wind, but you didn't take the power out all the way early enough. Even then, you could have added more flaps, but you only had twenty degrees of flaps on coming into final and you still had 90 mph, not 70, to deal with."

"Yeah. Okay, round two!" Came around the pattern again; this time I left the nose five or ten degrees east of the downwind vector to compensate for wind, and when I came into the base leg, I was noticeably further out from the runway. Put in the second ten degrees of flaps on early base, and as I turned final, dropped them to thirty degrees; ended up looking at a red-over-white VASI at 70 mph with ten degrees of flaps in reserve. Pulled power and flew it down-

Digression. Crosswind landings. These aren't quite 'takeoffs in reverse.' The problem with a crosswind landing is that while you're trying to line up your nose and landing gear with the runway centerline, the wind is busily pushing you sideways as you are on final approach. Spending the whole time making corrections isn't the answer. The best option is to offset the nose to compensate for the wind as you come onto final, and adjust that offset (or 'crab') as you get closer to the runway.

If done properly, you'll end up just over the runway numbers with your landing gear pointed somewhere left or right of centerline. This is okay; the trick is to wait until the last moment, and then use the rudder to align the nose with the runway right before you touch. This means the airplane won't have a chance to drift, and using the rudder means your wings will stay level to avoid the risk of being blown over and sideways. Once the landing gear is down (or just before), then you roll in the upwind aileron just like you were using on takeoff; since the wing no longer has the lift to pull the airplane off the ground, it can't rotate far but the upwind wing will dip just enough to prevent it from ballooning.

In really high wind, of course, crosswind landings can get just crazy-looking. Especially on big airliners. YouTube has some fun videos of them. You can see that airliners often have landing gear which is steerable (even the main gear) and that in many cases, they will maintain the crab angle all the way until their main gear touches down, and then use the gear to 'steer' themselves straight! You will, in some cases, be able to see them touch their 'upwind' gear first as they maintain the aileron correction.

Of course, my landings were nowhere near that cool-looking, and in wind that was nowhere near that strong. Just enough to require the compensation, and just enough to make you feel like a Pilot(tm) on final approach, with the nose not pointed at the runway, looking out the windscreen slightly sideways at the runway and waiting for that last moment to tap the rudder and align the nose, waiting until enough speed has bled off that you don't end up floating long and thus having time to slide sideways.

Did six landings today. Got verbal props for four of them, including a couple I thought were a bit squirrelly but was told that nope, given the wind gusts, they were completely sweet. In all six, had minimal wheel squeak. A couple went a bit long, but as I got used to one four's approach (most of my ops have been on three two, so I wasn't used to the landmarks approaching one four) my speed and height got closer to the mark, and by the time we switched back to three two as the wind died for the day, I was coming down able to make the second turnoff.

Hoo yah.

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