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!


Anonymous said...

Right on!

Probably what some people are pissed about is that they can't go online and gossip and get spoilers like they can in survivor et cetera... you don't see them complaining about the fact that survivor happened like 6 months ago.


Colin said...

Please assign someone to blog post-mortem for you. I could easily imagine you in a shoot out with the three teenage girls. In that case we miss THAT exciting entry, and another five that are sitting on your computer. Totally unfair.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it was my comment that motivated this extra session. I guess I did not express myself well and I intended no malice. So let me try again, Survivor, the Bachelor, a good book, or a recorded football game all have something in common that you don't. They come to an end and the anticipation of that ending is exciting in itself. In your case, there is no foreseeable ending to your story. Hopefully your adventures will get a little less burdensome, but they should continue for decades. Anyway, the anticipation does excite me, but the lag also stinks sometimes. Just imagine all of the good stuff we might have missed if your notebook or laptop had been in that bag.

Well, don't let me change the way you are doing things. You are doing a fantastic job and from what I can tell you have quite the following. Always keep your chin up and I know you will succeed no matter where life takes you. Once you change your luck, the sky will be the limit.

Anonymous said...

I find your skill at making time non-linear to be a refreshing change. I'll admit it took some getting used to, maybe like Tarantino's treatment of time in _Pulp Fiction_. The fact that you do this so seemingly effortlessly speaks to your natural writing skill. If I can't keep up with where you are time-wise, I let it go, and that seems to work just fine.

You spoke of learning more about writing, or words to that effect. While I admire the desire to learn, it's hard to imagine your writing getting better due to learning about what others consider to be "good".

And in response to your recently-blogged (notice I didn't say "recent") health issues, add my voice to the chorus of well-wishers. I've no doubt you'll come through this in better shape (physically and otherwise) than when it started.

You could write about paint drying or corn growing and it would be absolutely riveting, and people would be up at all hours of their local night, around the globe, hooked on every word...


Anonymous said...

It's your blog and you're not getting paid for it (until you publish the history in hardback at least, heheh). Thanks for creating something that's actually interesting to read and kudos for getting people worked up. If they didn't care, they wouldn't be getting pissy.

I for one am a new reader, and was confused at first because I didn't realize there was the time delay, but that's okay. Every blog has a personality of its own, and it needs to stay that way, you shan't change your ways because a few readers get upset. I for one think it's kind of cool after I got over my rectal-cranial inversion syndrome finally, which I say because you're right about things like it should be friggin' freezing up there right now, not hot. I'll have to start reading a little closer for clues... :)

Best of luck on your petition to get cleared back to flying status. I had to get a medical special issuance myself, because a long time ago I was on ADHD drugs. It didn't come until after I'd spent a huge amount of money on all sorts of psychological tests that the FAA ordered though, which came out better than fine, but it took over a year to get back to flying. It was murder. Hopefully you don't have to deal with a big mess like that.

Dave Starr said...

Blog exactly the way you are doing ... faster or slower as desired. Those who moan or complain are the sort of people who wouldn't enjoy "In The Wet" or the "Rainbow And The Rose" either. Let them have their say but let the vast majority of us continue the ride at your pace ... it's not like taking a flight, you can get off at any time.

Aviatrix said...

Bryan W: I don't believe it was you, and don't feel singled out or accused if it was. I have finally figured out that comments like "but how could you not tell us sooner" or "I feel deceived that this is not happening as I read it" should be taken as compliments rather than complaints. I just needed an entry like this to link to in the blog sidebar, and putting it out just before I hit rock bottom seemed good timing.

Sean: A year? Yikes!

Colin Summers: Remember that will I mentioned? It includes important things like how I want my remains disposed of, who gets my bicycle, and instructions for finding and posting my backlogged blog entries. I think I'm amassing material for a "you know you blog too much" entry.

Anonymous said...

the fact that your posts are not just posted but written, edited, scrutinized, thought about, and posted when it makes sense for you is exactly why this particular blog is so much better than most other blogs. my personal opinion is that there actually is not one single blog better than this one. this can be attributed to one major reason: you care for your entries and you don't just post random boring stuff. maybe your blog would still be awesome if you posted in real time, because you know how to use words, but this way it is fascinating-outstanding-awesome.

your recent entry about finding a job as a flight trainer on the exact same day you were allowed to travel after being grounded for medical reasons is evidence enough that in your real life, you do succeed instantly and with no time delay. you probably would not do so well, though, if you were less thoughtful and if you would not consider your decicions carefully. if this is read backwards, the conclusion is that your thoughtful and considerate nature is there for a reason: it helps you succeed when others just stumble through their lives. rather than stumbling, you keep landing on your feet and you maintain a blog that is constantly a great read.

Rob said...

I don't know how you find the time to post everyday, even with the time delay.

I find that an entry that takes about two minutes to read actually takes me well over and hour to write and edit, re-read, re-edit and then post.

Anonymous said...

Hey, where is my cookie?

You're just too nice ;)

Anonymous said...

One of the things i like about movable type is that you can write and post a weeks worth of entries and schedule them to appear throughout the week without any further effort. This seems like a feature you would appreciate.

Im glad that you are now able to take those comments as compliments. You demonstrate a higher-than-average level of commitment to this blog, you have made a real art out of it, and all the artists i know feel like they have succeeded when they get a genuine reaction to their work. I dont feel embarrassed about leaving my right-now reaction/comment in response to your then-event.

And right now, i think you are amazingly strong and generous and skilled. I would buy your book.

Anonymous said...

my personal opinion is that there actually is not one single blog better than this one. this can be attributed to one major reason: you care for your entries and you don't just post random boring stuff.