What’s going on in your cockpit? (5×8 – 1/25/11)

Travails of the tired pilot, Tim Pawlenty: The movie, funerals by webcast, how I became a Minnesota pineapple farmer, and the vanishing mention of war.


It’s probably just as well that the Minneapolis pilot we know only as “Sam,” keeps his identity hidden on his blog, Blogging at FL250. His latest entry would appear to challenge the notion that smaller airlines and the government have done much to eliminate the problem of airline pilots who are worked too much to stay awake.

Then I came crashing back down on the return leg, and I found myself missing radio calls and messing up simple things. On the descent, I fought an aggressive case of the nods by using the oxygen mask on 100% oxygen. We still had a two hour sit in Minneapolis – often more tiring than actually flying – followed by a four hour Chicago turn. There was no way I was going to make it. I called in fatigued shortly after landing.

The crew scheduler sounded incredulous. “Fatigued? You’ve only done three legs!” I told him to take a look at the trip, but that didn’t move him. “You’re going to have to talk to a chief pilot about this!” he exclaimed, obviously annoyed that he would need to find someone to cover the O’Hare turn. I told him I would go downstairs and talk to the base chief pilot that very minute, and hung up.

The good news is the chief pilot supported Captain Sam, but he also points out that no other pilots called in “fatigued,” even though many said they were tired. You’ve got one pilot who knew he was too tired to fly safely, and several others who gutted it out. Which one do you want up front?

He says the FAA should be doing more to address fatigue issues.


Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s marketers have put together a pretty slick video to support his book about being governor of Minnesota. Does this look like someone who hasn’t yet decided whether he wants to run for president?

I’m not sure where that speech was given, but I’m pretty sure that one wasn’t given in Minnesota. This one was, though. It was one of his most memorable speeches. The day the gerunds died: June 2, 2006:

More politics: The Washington outsiders are quickly becoming the Washington insiders right on schedule, NPR reports.


The temptation is to roll your eyes and write it off to the enslavement by the Internet overlords, but on further review, this makes plenty of sense. An increasing number of funerals are including a webcast. Family and friends are usually strewn across the country. Airlines rip off the traveler who needs to fly on short notice, and a webcast funeral allows anyone with a computer to attend.

The Times reports:

The conversation about whether to stream a funeral online can be awkward, particularly if a grief-stricken family is wary of technology. Funeral directors are conservative, Mr. Reed said; privacy, even for the Facebook generation, is paramount. “We don’t jump on the first thing that comes along,” he said.

Still, some funeral directors offer the service for free (Mr. Reed is one of them) while others charge $100 to $300. If a family wants to keep the online service private, those invited get a password that allows access. (Mr. Joachim said 94 percent of the funerals his company Webcast were not password-protected.)


Here’s something you don’t hear about every day. Tropical fruit — warm weather fruit — grown in Minnesota. Debbie Morrison, who contributes to the Simple Good and Tasty blog, reveals how she became Minnesota’s first pineapple farmer. She brought pineapples back from Costa Rica and — just for fun — cut the tops off and stuck them in some dirt.

Since I had no training as a pineapple farmer, I really didn’t know what to do next. So I opted to do nothing, and watched it grow. In about six months, my pineapple looked like those from the grocery store. It was harvest time. To me, it was the tastiest pineapple I ever had – even better than those in Costa Rica. Perhaps it was because it was the first Minnesota-grown pineapple I ever ate. Or because it was the first pineapple I ever grew myself. Whatever the reason, I had discovered that growing pineapples is pretty easy. Then and there, I decided to become the first pineapple farmer in Minnesota. With that goal in mind, I now have about a dozen pineapple plants at various stages of growth. All four of my original plants have produced fruit, and the tops from those pineapples have been planted as well. Are they the first Minnesota-born pineapple plants? I think they may be!


If you’re still looking for a word for your State of the Union drinking game, perhaps this will help. The BBC has analyzed recent State of the Union addresses and found the most common word used is “we.” In the ’60s and ’70s, however, “people” was more commonly used.

But here’s the most interesting one. Note the complete disappearance of the word “war,” even though we are fighting two of them.


Bonus: Taking sports a little too seriously, are we? A car salesman in Chicago lost his job because he wore a Green Bay Packers tie to work. He said he did it to honor his grandmother.


Cathy Wurzer of Morning Edition is in Washington today and Wednesday, looking at how power works there and what effect it has on Minnesota. How effectively are you represented in Washington?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: If congressional Republicans get their way, transportation funding will be a main target of budget cuts. What does that mean for transportation projects around the country?

Second hour: The problem of grade inflation on college campuses.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: A preview of tonight’s State of the Union address.

Second hour: Stephanie Curtis and the Oscar nominees.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Constitutionalism, orginalism, and the new Congress

Second hour: Stanley Fish, author of”How to write a sentence.”

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Minnesota’s big medical tech companies start reporting earnings and their outlook for the coming year starting with St. Jude Medical this week. MPR’s Marty Moylan assesses what they might show.

Minnesota’s pioneering clean energy policies could be headed for major changes, according to MPR’s Stephanie Hemphill. The Next Generation Energy Act was passed with strong bipartisan support and signed by Gov. Pawlenty in 2007. At the time, it placed Minnesota in the forefront of states aiming to develop local energy and reduce greenhouse gases. But now Republican legislative leaders say what they helped design in 2007 was government interference of a sort that is now holding back the state’s economic recovery.

MPR’s Sasha Aslanian reports on the fallout from the mass firing of hundreds of Chipotle workers in Minnesota who didn’t have authorization to work in the U.S.

Deborah Rodriguez, an American who ran a hair salon in Kabul for a time, has written a novel about a group of women living in the city today. It’s a page-turner, MPR’s Euan Kerry says, filled with sub-plots about unrequited love, family squabbles, and a pet dog, all set against the everyday struggles of living in a war-torn country. She reads in the Twin Cities on Thursday.