This month’s blog was supposed to be about the above-named topic “reference heading”. I started it earlier in April, then life, etcetera, got in the way and, well, I’ve run out of time. I’ll get to “Reference Heading”, perhaps, next month. What this short bit is about is … well, hell, I’m not sure. Oh, wait. Yes, I am. It’s about planning ahead … or meeting deadlines … or … waiting too long to do something. Whatever.
And I hope that I can find something that applies to flying in all the babbling that’s about to follow.
Writers and Deadlines. Black and White. Cats and Dogs. Liberals and Conservatives. Donald Frkng Trump and Logic … or Reason … or Humanity … or Sympathy … or Ethics. Pilots and Destinations.
Over the decades that I’ve been writing, and no matter how hard I’ve tried to meet them, deadlines have been an anchor dragging me down, draining my energy, destroying all ability to generate cogent thought whilst putting words together. If I absolutely, positively had to finish an article by … pick the time: the end of the month, the end of the week, the end of the day, the next fifteen minutes … what did that mean? It meant that I didn’t meet the deadline.
So, I started a blog post about reference heading in early/mid-April, today is 28April, tomorrow I’m having surgery on my left thumb that will put me in casts for about the next five weeks. It’s hard typing two-handed with a cast on your left – even if your fingers can kind-a move. The original post ain’t getting finished tonight – I’ve got a 5 am wakeup and have to be in bleeding San Frkng Marcos at 6:15 am, for a 7:15 am surgery which should take 2 ½ hours. And it ain’t getting finished tomorrow, or for the next few weeks as pain killers will be sapping what little intellect I have left.
Hence, I will write quickly – and with minimal words – about deadlines. And how bad I am at meeting them.
It started in school, I think. I mean I couldn’t get away with postponing homework or studying for exams with Catholic nuns, then brothers, governing my priorities – they had rulers, or a hard backhand. But I learned how to postpone deadlines as, first, a Junior writer for Xaverian High School’s “Local” – the weekly newspaper – then as a Senior and editor. The “Local” was due to be delivered to all 1400 Xaverian students on Wednesday of every week, which meant that the deadline was Tuesday, after classes ended.
Which means that late Tuesday evening, Brother Kieran or Brother Benedict were knocking on my door begging, then barking, that I had to provide them with that week’s finished product, so that they could then spend the next few hours late into the night getting it duplicated on what I believe was then known as a “Gestetner” machine – something that involved a revolving drum, ink and the master copy of the paper, which then created a whole bunch of finished newspapers. Towards the end of the year there were threats – when Senioritis multiplied the deadline dread to unimagined heights (nah, lows) – of detention hall for the rest of my life if the “Local” master were not produced in short order. High school teachers should be honored for all the grief heaped upon them by their uncaring charges.
Later in life I had a short career as a freelance writer which wasn’t as successful as it might have been, not because of the quality of my prose, but because of my aversion to meeting deadlines.
I wrote, professionally, for John and Martha King for about six years. The term “deadline” in connection with “Glenn Daly” became a running joke throughout the hallowed halls of King Schools.
What has this got to do with flying. Hell if I know.
Oh. Wait. Maybe it means that pilots should never let non-flying deadlines push them to fly beyond their limitations. By setting a deadline based on some groundlings needs, we pilots might make that deadline influence us to continue flying VFR into IMC conditions, or push our personal IFR minimums too low, or to continue flying long after our airplane, or our physical needs, demanded that we land, NOW.
Eureka. Deadlines are bad things. My entire life has suddenly been validated.
OMG. I’m a happy man. Happy deadlines, fellow procrastinators. As safe pilots we can safely say, “Screw your deadline, Groundling.” Ha.