Today was a ‘chill’ day for me, as I did pretty much nothing but relax. I played two games of Madden NFL 10 and won both games, bringing my career record for this incarnation to an astounding 97-0. Neither game was particularly close and victories over the Rams and Seahawks were the result. Later on, I installed my Rosetta Stone software and the Spanish (Latin America), lesson one. This was one piece of software that I wanted to have for a long time as a tool for maybe making my personal marketability more enticing for prospective employers. With the instability of the current job market, having as many pluses in your resume as possible is always a good approach. If I can get the basics down, I may be able to get additional instruction from some of my Hispanic friends at work. After passing a few of the lessons, I went back and installed my Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 package. I tried my first simulated flight and it reminded me of the flight simulator my dad and his buddies used to maintain at work. He was an Electronic Technician with the US Navy, civilian. The simulator that they had was quite awesome. When I got to play around on it was back in the late 70’s. I was a goofy, long-haired high school student and occasionally, I got to pick my dad up from work in the afternoon. Sometimes, if they hadn’t shut the simulator down yet, I would have the opportunity to fly this bad boy. Back in the day, (late 70’s), the only real video game out there was Pong. Pinball machines were the “in” thing in those days, so an actual flight simulator was almost beyond comprehension. The simulator was in reality a 12’ diameter ball that split open in the middle to reveal an actual jet fighter cockpit. You climbed up, strapped yourself in, the ball would close and you were immersed in a totally different world. You communicated with the ‘ground' crew through radio and the inside of the ball was a massive 360 degree screen that came alive with the sights of a land based air strip, or a flight deck on an aircraft carrier. The ground crew, (my dad and his buddies), would walk me through take off and allow me to fly to whatever destination was set. They tried many times to walk me through the landing, but landing proved to be….. well, lets just say….. somewhat unsuccessful. It got to the point that I didn’t even try anymore, instead opting for the ‘kamikaze’ landing protocol instead. I made numerous crash landings both on the ground and on the flight decks of the carrier. I even took out the carrier bridge a few times in some spectacular fireballs of destruction. When I enlisted in the Navy in 1978, pilots who couldn’t land a plane weren’t really sought after commodities. It seems that a pilot who can’t SAFELY land his plane, usually has a very short career. Besides, at over 6’ tall, (6’2” to be exact), I was a tad bit too tall to be a pilot in the Navy anyway. Well, tonight’s first flight on fs2004 was a really cool flashback to those wonderful days, as I crash landed 2 miles from the airport. At least I’m consistent! I was reminded of seeing my dad shaking his head as I would depart the ball. He would have a smirk on his face as he would tell me to remind him never to get in an actual plane with me at the controls. My dad had been a pilot of seaplanes in his younger days and it seemed his namesake wasn’t quite skilled enough to follow in his footsteps. I shared my experiences with my buddies, but back in those days, they couldn’t really comprehend what it was that I was talking about. It was such an awesomely cool experience for a young lad such as I. It was also a chance to grab a few precious moments with my dad that we could talk and laugh about. They’re some really precious memories I’ll carry with me till the day I die.
On the days that the flight simulator had already been powered down, there was always the back-up plan. The tank simulator. This was also a way cool simulator. Basically, it was a large box that you got into. Inside, it was set up like the inside of an actual tank. When the screen came to life, you were sitting inside the tank and you had to look out the slits in the bulkheads to see what was going on outside. You were taken to the jungles of Viet Nam and as you cruised along, you could see huts and people, animals, rice paddies and such. You could hear the people talking, you could smash through huts, sending the occupants screaming and running for cover. You could run the people over too, hearing them ‘squish’ under the tracks and fire on unsuspecting villages. My buddies and I were masters at pinball machines, (Captain Fantastic was our favorite), racking up dozens and dozens of free games whenever we played, but it couldn’t come anywhere close to being as exciting as razing an entire village and burning it to the ground. It didn’t get past my dad either that demolition and destruction were strong suits of mine. Those were some of the best days of my life, spent with the guy who was always ‘larger than life’ to me. If I could ever go back in time and relive one day of my life, I hope it would be one of those days.
The night has included watching the Orlando Magic beat the Houston Rockets 118-104, providing me with a nice nightcap for this day. Even after installing Rosetta Stone and Flight Simulator 2004, I still have 907gb of hard drive space left. Nice!!! Its a bit chilly here tonight so I’ll get under my blankets and enjoy a nice slumber. I’ll also be taking those back meds of mine which should knock me out here soon. Keep safe and warm and have a wonderful Sunday. Maybe I’ll even learn to land a plane properly some day.