Usually I get my weather and NOTAM information from the internet, but sometimes the hotel Internet isn't that good, or the computer is in the throes of rebooting. (Damnit, what is it with Vista that it thinks it's okay to reboot without asking after it has downloaded an update. Recently it did so with an unsaved file full of blog entry notes open on the desktop. It asked me if I wanted to save and I clicked yes, then when I fumbled the filename it rebooted anyway). If I'm not getting along with my computer at any given time I have the option to pick up the phone and call a flight services specialist. It's often faster if the computer isn't already turned on and connected, and the specialist may know better than me the identifiers of all the en route airports that have weather.
Recently I dialed flight services and was momentarily confused by an initial message telling me I had reached Lockheed-Martin Flight Services. I then realized that I had dialed 800-WX-BRIEF (the US number) instead of 866-WX-BRIEF (the Canadian number) and reached the American FSS. From a Canadian hotel. That didn't used to be possible. I'm going to pretend that it was my letter about the problems encountered by Canadians trying to close flight plans that caused the change. I can't find my original blog entry, but it used to be when you tried to dial the US number on a Canadian cellphone, it would be rejected because you were dialing from a Canadian number, but if you tried to call the Canadian number it would be rejected because it was coming through an American exchange.
So I dialed again and got the proper number, pressed 2 for a specialist, and asked for the weather I needed. I listened and wrote down:
CLD FNT MVG SWD TWD YQF 00Z.
Heh, I realize that I have strung seven three-letter abbreviations in a row, just by writing down what I hear. How long can I keep this up?
GEN SCT TCU. G30 KTS VC FNT. HDWNDS 18KTS.
Ah, blew it with the VC.
Translation, for those who don't speak aviation/Aviatrix shorthand: Cold front moving southward toward Red Deer at 0000 Zulu. Sky condition generally scattered towering cumulus cloud. Winds gusting to thirty knots in the vicinity of the front. Headwinds of 18 kts enroute.