Where Did My Landing Gear Go?

Well, I am on my way to my commercial pilot license.  The first milestone along the way was getting my Complex Aircraft Endorsement.  For those who are unfamiliar, a complex aircraft is one with flaps, a controllable pitch propeller, and retractable landing gear.  Since I already had my High Performance Endorsement, the key here is the retractable landing gear.  Admittedly there isn’t that much difference in flying a complex aircraft, except of course remembering to put the gear down EVERY time.  Yeah, knowing the gear procedures, aerodynamics, and emergency procedures are important, but as long as the gear as down when you go to land, you’ll probably be in good shape.

The best thing here is that the 182RG I have been flying cruises at 150-160 knots.  This is pretty zippy for a relatively fuel efficient and reliable aircraft.  Not sure when I will finish the commercial rating, but this is a pretty cool step a long the way.

category Aviation | author | date July 1, 2012
Is Intelligence Ever Artificial?

Something has been rubbing me the wrong way about the term “artificial intelligence”.  I don’t think  the adjective “artificial” fits well with the noun “intelligence”.  Some background thoughts…. Whatever we define intelligence to be, which is a subject of much debate, I believe it is a property that something either has or does not. There is of course our perception of intelligence, which I consider to be a separate problem.  If something fits our definition of intelligence, then our ability to perceive that intelligence has little to do with whether or not that thing actually possess it.

So if something is intelligent, how can we say that it is artificial…or “not real”.  It could be non-human intelligence, or non-biological intelligence but that doesn’t make it artificial.  Intelligence is a property that something has regardless of how it emerges.  If something truly displayed intelligence, how can we call it artificial?  We don’t even know how intelligence emerges in biological organisms, so how can we characterize those same properties emerging in some other system “artificial”?

To me that would be like saying a fish is truly wet… but if I dump a bucket of water on a person, then the person is artificially wet.  The thesis being that the fish is wet “naturally” and the person is not.  Does it matter? Both are still wet.  The fish is no more wet than the person, regardless of how they got that way.  Being wet is a state of existence.  The mechanism by which you became wet can be characterized, but the end state itself is no different.

To that end, I think the term artificial intelligence is just not a good fit.  It is first and foremost presumptuous, identifying anything other than biological intelligence as inferior.  As mentioned before, we don’t know how biological intelligence works, so who is to say some other kind would be better or worse?  Second, if we are talking about technologies that we have built to solve problems, to imitate biological behaviors or to explore biological intelligence, then I think the term simulated intelligence, or partial intelligence would be more appropriate.  The distinction be that we are recognizing that what we have produced is a mere shadow of what we consider intelligence to be, rather than position it as true intelligence that is artificial.  The former both acknowledges that we have not arrived at constructing true non-biological intelligence while simultaneously not intimating that if we did ti would be second class.

I doubt I will at any time in the near future be on a crusade to change our terminology, I am sure I will use the term AI, but secretly (I suppose not so secretly anymore), I will cringe a little.

category General | author | date June 23, 2012
To Phoenix and Back

I flew to Phoenix and back today to get some long cross country hours.  I needed to get this out of the way for my commercial license anyway.  I departed IFR from KMYF (Mongomery) at about 8:30 and quickly climbed above the clouds.  From Mission bay, I got on to V66 and took that a LONG way.  Eventually I turned north on V95 and flew directly over Phoenix Sky Harbor airport…pretty cool.  I was then cleared for a visual approach in to KDVT (Deer Valley).  After a greaser, I quickly taxied back and departed for KGEU (Glendale).  I stopped at KGEU to gas up, stretch my legs, and grab lunch.

I filed another IFR flight plan back to KMYF.  However, there are no convenient IFR departs from KGEU so I departed VFR and picked up my clearance from Luke AFB approach.  They vectored me back to the airways, and I sat on V66 all the way back to KMYF.  There was a nasty headwind so I was only doing about 85 kts ground speed.  It took forever.  When I got back to KMTF, the LOC was out, but it was VFR so I just canceled and came in visually.  I landed at about 3:30.  Total time away…7 hours, flight time 6.3 hours.  Not to shabby..


category General | author | date May 26, 2012
Two Semesters Down!

Well so far Grad School at SDSU is going well. I made it through two semesters and have managed to rock the 4.0 for both. It’s definitely been an adjustment. This past semester was especially tough on my schedule. I spent several months eating lunches in my car in a parking garage. All in all I can’t complain to much.
I am sure glad to have a few weeks off in between semesters. The summer semester should be a little easier since I am only taking one class.

category General | author | date May 18, 2012
Sound Waves From The Past

Steve asked me to dig up this old audio clip from back in the day when I was in 8 Beat Measure.  This was an recording we made for one of the first Chill Beats concerts the group put on.  This is great timing as this years Chill Beats is just going off.  Sounds like the guys are still doing the sports intro thing.  This is where the tradition began.

Take a Listen: Sirius

category General | author | date April 14, 2012
Flight to Riverside, CA

So Lisa and I finally got back in the air together for our first cross country flight together in quite some time. Pretty much our fligt together have either been for my training or just flying our the San Diego area. This was the first time I have planned, filed and flown a cross country IFR flight to an area I had not been as the pilot in command. I flew mostly under he hood on the way up using mainly airways tracking VORs. It was pretty cool to fly that far and take of the hood and be lined up on final at an airport I had not ever been to before.

We landed and took a quick break. The plan was to switch seats and have Lisa fly left seat for the return flight. It got a little exciting when the plane would not start. The starter just made a thump and the prop did not turn. A quick call to the plane owner yielded a possible solution to free up the starter mechanism so that it would engage with the drive shaft. Unfortunately, there were no tools available, so I had to resort to disassembling a ball point pen to fashion a tool to unjam the mechanism. Luckily I was able to get it free, furthering my MacGuyver reputation.

We got the plane started and departed. On the way out we had occasion to fly around the good year blimp which was cool. Lisa navigated us back to Montgomery Field and performed her first real instrument approach which was cool.

All and all a great flight and great to be back in the air with Lisa. Can’t wait to add Ethan tithe mix in a few months.

category Aviation | author | date March 5, 2012
So Far, So Good

Well, not only did I survive my first semester at SDSU, but I managed to snag a 4.0. Not bad considering it was my first semester back to school after 8 years. Oh and during the semester, I got a new pilots license, became a father, and was working full time. I don’t think my classes are going to get any easier, but I bet my life won’t be that hectic next semester.

category SDSU | author | date December 14, 2011
Thanks Giving 2011

Thanks in large part to my mother, the first Thanks Giving we hosted in SD (and the first one in our home.., oh and Ethan’s first one to) was a great meal. It was great to have everyone out and it was great seeing my folks with their newest grand child.

category General | author | date November 26, 2011
Flying Blind

For those who don’t know, I have been training and studying for my Instrument Rating for my pilots license.  When you first get your license you can only fly in weather conditions that allow you to see the ground and or the horizon.  You need to maintain this visual reference to ensure that the plane stays in the proper attitude.  When you loose this visual reference, the forces of three dimensional flight can trick you in to feeling like up is down and left is right.  The next step in the piloting progression is to become instrument rated.  This teaches you how to fly by reference to flight instruments alone.  This is critical if you are going to be flying in and out of the clouds.

There was a lot of reading, learning, and flying that went in to gearing up for the rating.  I took the written test and passed with flying colors a few weeks back.  Today I took the flight test and aced that too.  It certainly doesn’t mean I am invicible or an expert pilot.  I am still not going to go fly in to bad weather, nor do I think I am suddenly capable of handling any scenario.  It does however mean I have reached the next level of proficiency and has removed several restrictions.  Now, I basically have to rely on my own good judgement.

Anyway thanks to Glenn, my instructor for doing a great job, and Lisa for putting up with my stress level.

category Aviation | author | date October 9, 2011
Higher Ed

I am well into the semester at San Diego State. Things are going well. I am enjoying both my algorithms as wells as my artificial intelligence class. I’ll keep you posted on any interesting developments.

However, I can already tell you that at least in my algorithms class, my peers will be hating me for ruing the grading curve. I managed to get a 107% on the first assignment. The funny thing is that there was no premeditated extra credit. I just did such a complete and thorough job, the instructor decided to give me a little bonus. Yeah, I am that guy. Sorry.

category General | author | date October 6, 2011