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Archive for April, 2013


How United counts on-time flights

My delayed flight

Houston is a United hub so to get anywhere we fly United. Our only other option is to drive 90 minutes south to the other airport to take Southwest. Sometimes we feel like the drive might be worth it, especially in the months after the United-Continental merger. Flights were chronically delayed, and it seemed like the airline personnel were not happy about the merger.

United HAS gotten better. But flight delays are a frequent problem. According to the US Government’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (click here, select United, look at the table on the bottom right), United’s OnTime percentage for Departures from March 2012 – February 2013 was 76%, ranking them 15th of the carriers with revenues over $20 million…that’s close to the bottom.

My recent experience is much worse than that. Of my last four flights (all between IAH and TPA), the on-time percentage is 25%. Yes, only one out of my last four flights was on time. And, yes, when United sends me those surveys after each flight, I tell them this is the best way to keep customers: on-time flights. Nothing else is more important.

Curiously, on my last flight out of Houston, it appears that United was “gaming” the on-time statistics. Via United’s nice little mobile app, you can see my flight delay.

As you can see from the screenshot, the flight was about 50 minutes delayed. Further, it helpfully says it was delayed because the plane was late coming from the previous hop. The app has a great feature that allows you to check on the previous flight (“Where is this plane coming from?”). It is helpful, as it lets you know if the plane is truly delayed (you can tell if the previous flight is in the air) or if it is indeed in danger of being cancelled (the plane hasn’t left yet and is quite delayed).

Flight bringing plane to my flight

I followed that link, and to my surprise, it stated that not only was the in-bound flight that my “delayed” flight was waiting on “on-time” but it was slated to arrive early.

How exactly does this work? The inbound flight is scheduled to land at 8pm, which is 19 minutes after my flights schedule departure.

Perhaps they cancelled the inbound flight and redirected a different flight to re-use the aircraft? Uncertain. I was at the airport earlier than usual due to concerns with the air traffic controller layoff, and all I saw was a gate change…and these very strange statistics.

I’m assuming that United counted this as one delayed flight and one on-time, but it still begs the question about how the previous flight was scheduled to arrive later than my flight was to depart.

The Walking Dead and Downton Abbey: Season 3 coincidences

After watching season three of both The Walking Dead and Downton Abbey (yes, I watch it with my wife; admit it, you do too), my brain has picked up on some strange connections? Coincidences? Shared writers? They are both somewhat science fiction, aren’t they?



ThemeZombies want to be treated as equals to the living...or else eat them.

Yeah, equality. That's what they want. Or maybe some salt.
The servants want to be treated as equal to the manor-born...or else eat with them.There's always social upheaval between the classes.
Good-looking Blonde Needlessly Killed off in Season 3 finale
Matthew Crawley
Contract didn't last past season three, hmmmm? And Andrea's role continues in the graphic novels (which is a cool word for comic book)

My wife says he's good looking...honest!
Mother needlessly killed off in season 3
Lady Sybil
Another contract issue? Or both needing to setup a future story line?
Leading Man's Leadership is Questioned
Lord Granthem
Rick is seeing visions of his dead wife, hearing voices...normal stuff.

Lord Grantham is making bad investments. bad business decisions and choosing the wrong doctor...normal stuff.

And for this their leadership gets questioned? No slack?
Main buildings
The Prison
Highclere Castle
Both are in need of some repair.

And both are prisons for some (whoa! Philosophical time-out)
The walkers
Lord and Lady Granthem and Family
Both groups have everything they want, including someone to feed them.
The walkers
The walked -on
If only there wasn't a caste system, a sense of class differentiation...oh, look....brains.
Who would win a race (or a cricket match!) between...The walkersThe CrawleysThe Crawleys could at least get their servants to race for them.
Old person in cast who for some reason is still alive
Dowager Countess
Despite immobility (both need canes), grey hairs and advanced years, they keep livin' while those around them are dyin'. Must have good contracts.
The Civil War by Shelby Foote - V1.Chapter 6: The Sun Shines South

The Civil War by Shelby Foote – V1.Chapter 6: The Sun Shines South

As I’m reading Shelby Foote’s incredible The Civil War: A Narrative, these are my notes on the points I may have forgotten from before or new pieces I’ve learned. Any and all comments appreciated.

Previous post - Chapter 5

Volume One: Chapter 6

  1. Lincoln Reappraisal; Emancipation
  2. Grant, Farragut, Buell
  3. Bragg, K. Smith, Breckinridge
  4. Lee vs. Pope: Second Manassas

Trouble at the top in the North

  • From page 526: “For four months now, ever since the abrupt relief of McClellan back in March, the overall conduct of the war had been directed by Lincoln and Stanton – a sort of two-headed, four-thmbed amateur – with results just short of disastrous in the theater which had received their main attention. Stonewall Jackson, for example, had frightened Stanton and decoyed Lincoln into breaking up the combinations McClellan had designed for taking Richmond: so that Davis and Lee, professionals both, had been able to turn the tables on the Army of the Potomac, effecting counter combinations that drove it headlong to the ordinate commanders – on the one hand, Fremont’s ineptness; on the other, McClenllan’s lack of aggressive instincts- but most of it lay with the overall direction, which had permitted the enemy to bring pressure on those flaws.””

Delaying the Emancipation Proclamation

  • Differing opinions in Lincoln’s cabinet
  • From page 540: “Then Seward spoke, having turned the matter over in hid mind. “Mr. President,” he said, “I approve of the proclamation, but I question the expediency of its issue at this juncture. The depression of the public mind, consequent upon our repeated reverses, is so great that I fear the effect of so important a step. It may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help; the government stretching forth its hand to Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the government. It will be considered our last shriek on the retreat. Now, while I approve of the measure, I suggest, sir, that you postpone its issues until you can give it to the country supported by military success, instead of issuing it, as would be the case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war”.”

McClellan sees the writing on the wall; he is asked to “withdraw his troops from the Peninsula” where he is besieging Richmond from the east and southeast.

  • Continuing delays and requests for reinforcements leads to his demise.
  • from page 594: “Halleck was amazed, and went to Lincoln with the problem. Lincoln was not amazed at all. In fact, he found the telegram very much in character. If by some magic he could reinforce McClellan with 100,000 troops today, he said, Little Mac would be delighted and would promise to capture Richmond tomorrow; but when tomorrow came he would report the enemy strength at 400,000 and announce that he could not advance until he got another 100,000 reinforcements.”

And then, after Stonewall Jackson whips his replacement (Pope), McClellan is given the reins again

  • from page 649: “So he went to him and told him to return to the army whose wounded were already beginning to pour into the city. And that afternoon, despite the howls of the cabinet – Stanton was squelched but Chase was sputtering, “I cannot but feel that giving command to McClellan is equivalent to giving Washington to the rebels” – Lincoln had Halleck issue the formal order: “Major General McClellan will have command of the fortifications of Washington and of all the troops for the defense of the capital.” This left Pope to be disposed of, which was done three days later. “The Armies of the Potomac and Virginia being consolidated,” he was told by dispatch, “you will report for orders to the Secretary of War.” Reporting as ordered, he found himself assigned to duty against the Sioux, who had lately risen in Minnesota. From his headquarters in St. Paul, where he was settled before the month was out, Pope protested vehemently against the injustice of being “banished to a remote and unimportant command.” But there he stayed, for the duration.

Re-reading MSandT

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