Friday, October 13, 2006

Time Travel

When major events happen on my blog, sometimes a few readers cry foul, because they discover that I do not rush home and blog for them the events of every day before I go to bed. People somehow feel cheated because a total stranger didn't sacrifice her sleep and her passengers' safety to tell them every terrible or wonderful thing that happened to her on the very day it occurred. Readers get so caught up in my story that they miss references to dates that are in the past, believe that an October day in the north could be so scorching hot that the pilots were sweating on each other, or that a hut by the side of a runway, with no running water, would have internet access.

I love that you get this involved in my story. I love having you with me, and it's exciting that you start to believe that "yesterday" means "the day before you read this" instead of "the day before I wrote this in my notebook." But then people accuse me of being responsible for their disappointment that my stories don't take place as they read them. And that is frustrating and painful. It's quite similar to the feeling I get when one captain castigates me for flying an airplane the way another captain insisted upon. I can't fulfil two conflicting demands at once. Without even addressing the fact that it takes me time to gather the emotional strength to tell even my closest friends about dramatic events in my life, please look at some facts about this blog and my life, and see how much sense it makes to assume that it is being posted in real time.

You probably know most of these facts.

a) I post every day, with rare exceptions.
b) I frequently work fourteen hour duty days with minimum rest periods--that is, just enough time for meals, personal hygiene and sleep.
c) A Canadian charter pilot does not have regularly scheduled days off, just thirteen individual days off out of every ninety. I can legally work forty-two days straight.
d) I take the air regulations seriously.
e) CAR 700.16(4) states "A flight crew member shall use a rest period provided pursuant to subsection (3) and Section 700.19 to obtain the necessary rest and shall be adequately rested prior to reporting for flight duty."
f) It takes time to write and edit a blog entry.

All but (e) should become quickly evident to a regular reader, and even if there were not such a regulation as (e), a reasonable person would expect me to use my rest period that way. It thereby quickly becomes clear that to blog in real time would defy both law and logic.

During any day, I take quick notes on memorable events or interesting thoughts. In fact sometimes I catch myself thinking about how I'll blog something as it happens. If I have I make some attempt to flesh out the entries as soon as I can, before I forget anything. When I have a chance I type them into the computer. I like to have at least five completely written entries ready at any time, so that if I am very busy I need only select, copy, paste and post. In addition, sometimes I dedicate an entry to my take on current world events, a technical discussion, or a joke. Most of my entries follow a chronological sequence, but I try to keep some timeless entries available to be thrown in when I'm not up-to-date on transcribing the scribbles out of my notebook. Sometimes a day is so eventful that it takes two entries to blog it. Every day that I don't post about that day's complete adventures, I get another day behind. Maybe someone else would just skip that day, but if it has something interesting in it, I don't. I have only very occasionally combined two days' entries into one, and I feel dishonest for it. It's important to me that I be truthful and post my entries in order. A time delay is not a lie.

As I post entries, usually I can't help fixing them up a little bit, adding a bit of information that makes them seem more real time, or that will make a later event easier to understand. Also I make the real-time illusion better but the time slippage worse when I try to hold up a little and match the day of the week of a blog entry to the day of the week that I post it. I'm not bothered by the fact that my entries run behind. It puts some distance behind the bad things before people start questioning me about them, and allows me to relive my triumphs after they have initially faded.

The result is that my blog ranges from one to six weeks behind my life. If you read a magazine series or watch a TV reality show, you would be much further behind that that. But it's still fun, right? I keep writing entries at one end, they keep coming out of the pipeline at the other. You get to read them. Folks, I'm not going to risk running out of blog entries any more than I'm going to risk running out of gas!