I've been in Australia now for four-plus days. We're still in Campbelltown NSW, a suburb of Sydney, near the Camden Aerodrome (which is our departure point). Today we went out to the airfield and - bucket list item checked - I got to fly in another country for the first time. I didn't fly VH-SDN, the plane we're taking - for this trip, we just did a quick hop from Camden to Bankstown, so I could purchase charts and nav publications required for the trip. Flew with Chris, from Airborne, in VH-SRE - another 182, slightly older, with steam gauges rather than the G1000 system.

Chris and I went over Australian operations for an hour or so. I signed up for the Airservices Australia NAIPS system, to allow me to get weather and file ICAO flight plans and SARTIME from the web. We'll only need to file ICAO (lots of detail) if we're flying into controlled airspace - especially if we're landing at a Class C airport, which we will at least once on the tour (Tindal, an RAAF base/civil field - possibly others). SARTIME is Search And Rescue Time - basically, you file a general flight plan and a time at which, if you haven't closed your SARTIME via radio or telephone, Airservices starts trying to find you. They'll start out by calling your phone number. If that doesn't work, they'll check with facilities along your route of flight. If no good, they'll spin up a search and rescue operation - and if it's a false alarm, that's Bad(tm). Chris pointed out that one issue with SARTIME in the Outback is that in many places you won't even get VHF radio comms below perhaps 10000 feet, and in some places you won't get it at all. This means that if you file a SARTIME for a flight into those areas, you need to take into account that you'll have to find a landline phone on the ground to cancel your SARTIME, so best to plan accordingly!

Paperwork update. I have my Certificate of Validation in hand (hooray!) so I can legally operate aircraft here in Australia. What I do not have, however, is my ASIC card (Aviation Security Identification Card). When I did my application, CASA told me that as soon as I entered the country and passed through immigration, their computers would check to find me and when they found my record they'd continue to process the ASIC. That gave me a week to get the ASIC after arrival - tight but not impossible. However, when I called them on Friday, they told me that sometimes Immigration takes up to two weeks to get back to them to confirm the check! That means it's highly unlikely that I'll actually have the ASIC in time before I leave for the tour - and if it's not there when I leave, it's not going to catch up to us. I will be taking a copy of my ASIC application, as well as a copy of the receipt I received from CASA telling me that they have charged me for processing the ASIC. That, plus a passport and my CoV, will be what I have.

I've gotten conflicting stories about whether I really need the ASIC. CASA has told me on the one hand that yes I absolutely need it to operate at "Security Controlled Airports.' However, other CASA personnel have told me that as a foreign aircrew, my Certificate of Validation and passport should suffice. Still other folks have told me that as long as I stick with the tour company pilots (who have ASICs) they can escort me on and off the airfield, no worries.

I have no idea what the actual answer is. The tour company pilots have warned me that Australian airport security has gone really over the top, way worse than in the U.S., and that I should do my utmost to get the ASIC and be prepared for problems if I don't have it. I'm not sure what else I can do - so I guess we'll see what happens.

We departed Camden (YSCN) late in the day - around 3pm. On takeoff, we departed on the downwind, and Chris navigated for me since he is so familiar with the area. After leaving the Camden area, we headed roughly east northeast, aiming for a tall radio tower named 2RN. When we reached 2RN, we called Bankstown tower and were cleared to approach on a crosswind for 29R. For the first time in my experience, I landed at an airport with three parallel runways - Bankstown has 29L/C/R. We followed another Cessna in, turning downwind behind them at 1500 feet (Bankstown procedures dictate a 1500 foot approach for RWY 29). We stayed in tight - there is military reserved airspace north of the field, and we were in a right-hand pattern for 29.

On final, I juggled a bit of crosswind; we touched down slightly off-line, but it was a credible landing. We parked and headed over to Concept Aviation to buy charts.

The next issue arose at that point. Apparently, the WAC (Wide Area Charts) are presently being updated, and as a result, Concept (and most other resellers) had stopped restocking them. They had half the WAC charts I needed, and all other pubs except for an ERC (En Route Chart - Low). I bought what they had and we headed back. When we departed, it was getting a bit windy - 20 kts, but right down the runway. On climb-out it was a bit bumpy, but no real problems. We stayed at 1500 feet and headed back to Camden. We approached on a 'local' entry point - one used by those familiar with the airport - and found ourselves on a straight-in approach as cleared by the tower. The approach was a bit low - Camden is 481 feet up, and we had only been at 1500 - so I dragged a bit of power, as I hadn't noticed the displaced threshold until final. Touched down very smoothly, though - felt good! Barely a squeak!

So on to more prep tasks. I've ordered the remaining charts from Airservices Australia- they claim overnight delivery. We'll see. We leave for the tour on Thursday morning, so hopefully that lets them ship Tuesday and still have them arrive in time! Update: Looks like the tour company has a spare set of charts they can loan me, they'll bring them along in case my order doesn't arrive!

Whew. Getting excited! This is really happening! It was good to fly today, even if only for an hour - remind myself that hey, it's flying just like at home. The procedures will be a bit different, but most of the tour will be in the outback, where that's not really relevant - and we'll be with local pilots for two weeks, so I can get briefed on the next day's flying at each stop. I'm sure I'll screw up something or perhaps a few somethings as far as procedures go - I've been advised to be sure to tell controllers 'Unfamiliar, foreign pilot' so they can make allowances.

I've purchased a big red 'P' sign. For those who aren't Australian, this is a bit of a joke- when you first get your driver's license, here, you have to place one of these signs on your car so that other drivers know you are a 'Provisional' license holder. I figure I'll mount it in the window of VH-SDN, and maybe a couple people will get the joke. :-)

On prescription drugs and a weak stomach

Too many daylogs, too little inspiration

Long story short: The root canal treatment I got last October was incomplete and I found out about it last Friday, laying on my bed in pain after 600mg of naproxen. On Saturday morning I went to the dentist and he told me that the last guy was only an intern of sorts and he did only the bare minimum to keep me from having pain (even though he charged me full price).

Two hours later I was on my way out, completely anesthetized and relatively happy because the pain was gone (as well as any kind of feeling in my mouth). I went on to buy the prescribed drugs, happy with my adult decision of taking my health seriously.

But I'm a relatively healthy young man and I'm not used to ingesting drugs besides the occasional acetylsalicylic acid and bismuth subsalicylate. Now I have to get an analgesic (Ketorolac) an anti-inflammatory (Loxoprofen) and an antibiotic (Amoxicillin) for the next 5 days and my stomach isn't feeling well. I need to force myself to eat before the pills because I haven't been hungry sine I went to the dentist. My farts smell like an hospital.

On prescription drugs and scientific literacy

That same Saturday, I happened to see a friend of mine, who is about to graduate from medical school. He told me amoxicillin wasn't really necessary and that I could also use Dicloxacillin instead. I took the post-it with his preferred dosage, thanked him and went on my way. I ended up buying Amox because 1) my dentist told me so, and 2) post-it notes do not legally count as a medical prescription to buy antibiotics (who knew?)

However, it got me thinking about scientific literacy for us mortal folks. I like to think that I'm scientifically literate enough to detect most some of the bullshit the media throws at me. Books like How to lie with statistics have raised my awareness of innumeracy and some hints on how to counteract it.If everything goes well, I'll start a masters in scientific journalism next year.

But still, medical knowledge lies beyond my reach right now. This is expected, of course, since I haven't devoted any time whatsoever to further it, much less the eight years a doctor spends in training to attain minimal mastery.

But me, being as knowledgeable about medical issues as anyone else how could/would I make a good decision about the drugs I should take? How much trust/faith do I have to place upon my physician? How can I recognize a good one from a bad one?

I'm sure none of these are novel questions in general, but they are new to me. As I said, I'm in relative good health and I've only been in an hospital to take a small blood test. Nobody in my immediate family has ever had need for extended procedures, complicated surgeries and whatnot.

I can't be the only one with these doubts, but now I realize that the very least that I should do is to start doing some more research on whatever pills I have to take and maybe try to get the background of my physician. Regarding medical literacy I may not be the most responsible patient, but I'll try to be a better one.

On London crashing

I'm scheduled to arrive on the afternoon of August 4, 2014. Apparently the only thing I need now is a cheap hostel or whatever to crash on that night. Then I'll be transferred to an hotel near the Barbican centre and then I DON'T KNOW.

2014-04-26 8:06 PM
Now stop trying to drag me into the txt world! Get off my lawn! Rarr. Kids these days.

It stormed during the night and remains dreary today. It will remain dreary for some time, regardless of the weather. I wanted to get up in the night and try to let her in from the rain but, of course, she won't be waiting on our porch or peering out from our neighbour's. I'll never see her when I return from work again. Our neighbour said he'd never seen such devotion in a cat; she would wait on the back porch late afternoon for the sound of my car. At night, she won't hop up on the bed anymore and try to wake me by lightly tapping my face or licking my hand or standing on my chest and breathing forth foul cat breath. When my wife hits the high notes while practicing her songs, no little predator will demand to be let out, even in midwinter. She no more will stand on hind legs and take a cat treat.

I freely acknowledge: far worse things happen in the world then the death of a cat. Since I wrote the draft of this, we've watched a good many people die in conflicts and crashes. Here in town, a family lost a young child to a bizarre accident in which she was entirely an innocent bystander. It does not mean we aren't touched by our own losses-- in this case, the unexpected passing of Slim the Cat, in some ways as mysterious as her origins.

She turned up about six years ago, and gradually moved into our house. Our neighbours knew her best as the cat that sat upon our mailbox and surveyed the world.

We were spending the week with friends at a rental cottage on Lake Huron. The week began so well; by Wednesday, I was even relaxed. We were close enough to home that my wife could return a couple of times for some course-work.

Do we have some sense that sees more deeply, the PSI of psychic mythology, or do we just recall those things that fit? Because my wife went swimming under moonlight Thursday night. I stayed on the shore, but I had a strange sense of impending doom. She slept fitfully Thursday night into Friday morning, and blamed dreams of "dark energy."

Other friends had driven up for dinner, including the woman looking after the cat and her partner. Singularity Girl, I used to call her, when I referenced her online. She was my teen sidekick when I was in my thirties, and our adoptive niece. She's now in her thirties, and remains one of our closest friends:

2014-06-28 12:28 PM

The cat is out.

Also, would you be able to open front blinds in am, close them in pm? Thanks again. Caull if u have any concerns.

No problem! Have a safe drive!

Tanks.

Umm and jeeps, apparently.

Haha stupid autocorrect

2013-06-28 6:39 PM

We are good. Is all okay there?

Hmm Yeah, she's back outside again.

Great. Thanks again.

No problem! She's very sweet and she remembers me and was being very friendly.

Cool.

Later

Slim is awesome. Had no trouble getting her in, she ate canned food and wanted to go out again right away. We had a petting session on the lawn and than she went to snooze in the shade. So she's out.

Great.

:)

2014-06-29 8:26 AM

Heya! Just got back from your place. Slim ate and I petted her. She's outside.

Urrrrr. Good morning. And thanks. Still good for Thursday? Place ia beautiful.

Still good for thursday. I imagine it is very peaceful.

Except for the texts. No it's good to know. If you're able (u may be busy I know) to check in late aft early evening nice but not necessary. Have a good day and thanks again. We have a very friendly cat in our cottage. Just adopted stray owners are keeping her here to separate her from their others while she recovers from sugary.

Surgery! She did not eat too much candy.

Lmao that was too funny! I'll do my best to stop in again. Have a fun day :)

2014-06-29 5:09 PM

Stopped in on spim it's pouring rain here. I fed her the canned food and she's inside.

2014-06-29 7:36 PM

We got that too. Thanks.

2014-07-01 8:40 PM

Stoped in on slim all is good. She's inside for the night.

Thanks very much. Building a fire and setting off/watching fireworks. Seeya Thursday.

2014-07-02 8:48 AM

Fed slim this morning had a snuggle she's outside.

Then on Friday, SG phoned, first thing in the morning. An hour had passed and Slim had not returned. I told her this happened once or twice a season, still, and she shouldn't worry yet. She had to get to work, but would return at lunch. At my wife's suggestion, she put some food on the back porch.

Nervously, she asked, "She didn't go out to Oxford, did she? The busy intersection?"

"I've never seen her go that far." She was, indeed, a wanderer, but I've never seen her that far down our street. She arrived incredibly streetwise, one year old, perhaps, but knowing to avoid skunks (On more than one occasion I have watched her wait until one left the yard before she approached our door) and she has always been very cautious around cars. The results of a good cat-mother, perhaps, raising her, where? Behind the grocery store? And we've been away before, leaving her in the care of close friends. In summers, she spent precious little time indoors in any case.

2014-07-04 1:35 PM

Went over lunch still nothing I will go again after work.

Sorry to hear. Keep me posted. She may have returned, ate porch food and wandered off.

I really hope so.

2014-07-04 4:57 PM

Stopped in after work. No slim yet. Food and water are still here.

Text if something happens. We’re going to come in, but we'll turn back if you find her before you leave.

Okay

We arrived in town a short time later and she finally told me about the unidentifiable cat killed on Oxford. The body was gone now. She had phoned the city dispatcher. They had cleaned a body, torn to pieces from a vehicular collision, of an orange cat.

Was she chasing a mouse down the curb? I've only witnessed her cross a street recklessly twice: once when a loose German Shepherd went after her, and once when she saw a rabbit. What took her so far away from her usual haunts?

On Friday evening Pyro, a cat with whom she shared territory, came out to see when I whistled for her. He snuffed around our yard and around the neighbours' porch where they used to hang out. He seeks her. He remembers his adopted sister.

SG hung out for awhile. Then she went home and my wife and I, carrying our probable bad news, returned to the cottage.

2014-07-05 8:35 AM

Good morning. I assume there is no news.

Morning. No theres no one there I went over an hour and a half ago.

Thanks.

The city had given us the name of the company that had taken that body—this job is contracted to various individuals. We arrived at their rural lot; they keep the animals for a couple of days before disposing of them. They warned us not to look inside the bag. That hadn't been our intention. We wanted closure, and we'd implanted an identification chip which the vet could read. We knew for certain this way; the remains belonged to Slim.

The rain washes from the road the stain that she likely made when the vehicle struck her in the night. Worse things are happening in the world, I concede, freely. But I will miss that cat forever.

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