Sunday, May 22, 2011

Deja Vu

Here we go again. Another volcanic eruption has reared its ugly head, this time in Europe's largest glacier.

I must say that the pictures are impressive. Here's one from shot by Steinunn S. Jakobsdóttir. 

The size and power is amazing, this is the largest eruption since at least 1947. This is a lot bigger than last year's Eyjafjallajökull eruption. So far, it is not causing as much havoc.

I do not tend to discuss my work much, not here or in real life. Air Traffic Control is much like Accounting - no one really wants to listen as long as you're doing your job properly. This eruption however reminds me of the events last year and the impact on my work.

When I was in training, we were told about the normal protocol when it comes to volcanoes. About the first closures of air space and the role of the London VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre). I worked the nightshift the same day it all started last year and by then the airspace had been pretty much shut down already. It was very strange seeing this in action all of the sudden. It was the start of the biggest aviation interruptions known. In my job it meant long hours of clear skies with nothing to do. It was very boring and boring is something most Air Traffic Controllers don't like very much.

The days that followed were very much like that. I deal with transatlantic flights and due to the so-called no-fly zones the airlines were going south of the Icelandic airspace. I was trying to wrap up my additional radar qualifications at the time so I was unable to clock very valuable hours.

Then political pressure started increasing. Closed airports and enormously large areas of airspace being shut down didn't sound good and caused the massive interruptions. So some changes to the no-fly zones were introduced. Now that was a pain. Drawing up three different areas, different airports opening and closing for business and domestic flights jumping through hoops to keep operating.

Finally, towards the end of the eruption the winds shifted causing a massive surge in air traffic. What the air traffic controllers achieved was a feat we're unlikely to repeat anytime soon (well, maybe we might!). It's also very unrecognised. In an area where 300 aircraft on a normal day is a lot, for the air traffic to spike to one thousand aircraft over a period of 24 hours several days in a row, could only be achieved with a joint effort by everybody. Us Air Traffic Controllers are often said to be lazy but not a single person wasn't ready to drop their plans to help make this happen -and it did.

This time around I'm on maternity leave and thus staying on the sideline. All flight in Iceland has been cancelled, at least until tomorrow afternoon, but I gather that international flight is mostly unaffected. I hope this will be a short lasting eruption. Especially as I have a holiday planned in June!

Here is another photo from, a NASA satelite photo of Iceland and this year's eruption and ash cloud.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Countryside

I returned to the summer cabin at the start of May with my family and Bella. Summer is dragging it's feet but we did catch seven good days out there.

My pelvic pain is getting worse when I thought it was supposed to be getting better. So me and Bella didn't get around to walking or frisbee-ing too much. We did enjoy a cool wading session one afternoon. It was perfect.

On the weekend we stayed there my parents came to visit along with my little cousin, Sindri. He's got ADHD and is somewhere on the autism spectrum. He and Bella have a somewhat strange friendship, she loves playing with him but he is very impulsive and it occasionally scares her. So my promise to her is to always watch over their playing and stop it if he's crossing boundaries with her.

Now that we're back in Reykjavík my fiancé has left for a month to study in Denmark. Me and Bella are taking care of little Magnus together. With my luck this year, we took a walk on our first day alone and I've been off since then. It was a good walk though, we walked past one barking dog and when past it we walked right into another one who was growling at Bella. My insecure dog didn't make a single noise, just walked right ahead. Bravo!

Today I will be going to see my physiotherapist and see if she can do something for me. I haven't gone since before I gave birth so here's to hoping she can give me some guidance about how I can overcome this.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Every day is a new challenge

Me, Bella and family have returned to the countryside once more. It's an amazing feeling to return, especially as spring finally arrived. We relocated our frisbee again and Bella was even better at it this time. Maybe it's the post-pregnancy hormones but I was so touched and proud to see my terrier chasing that frisbee like a Border Collie might. With short terrier legs, she's also much better at bringing the frisbee back, either by putting it around her neck or in the air as she runs.
I am very proud of my little dog, especially seeing her give chase. I believe her 3D vision is impaired due to being one eyed but she didn't show it at all today.

Another trying thing we did so far this month was to attend a celebration of the dog school we went to. The owner was celebrating its first year of operation and owners and dogs were invited on the afternoon of 1st May.
Bella is very insecure and I haven't found enough opportunities for socialization. Thus I was uncertain if this would go too well when we entered the house and sure enough, Bella started barking and whining. We had to take a break and went outside to cool down a bit. I did at one point consider throwing in the towel and putting her back in the car but my stubborn side came through and back in we went.
The second time I made sure to keep her on the move, turning away from the other dogs as soon as she started getting upset. After two minutes we got near a few dogs and before she managed to get riled up and act silly we got close enough for her to meet them and be polite. We first met a Rottweiler pup and that was a breeze. Bella didn't make a sound after she got to meet the dogs. However, at least three dogs snarled and snapped at her so I had to handpick what dogs she could be near. The good part was that a lot more dogs were very polite so overall we left with a positive experience.

Having an insecure dog and seeing how other dogs react to her, it is obvious how smaller dogs tend to be more dog aggressive than larger ones. It's not too hard to understand, my own dog gets scared of big bouncy dogs and it is difficult to deal with but I will keep at it. With more experience I have gained a better understanding that in the world of dogs there are some that get along and others that don't.

Finally, our first of may event seems to have left some kind of an impression. We came across five dogs today and apart from the normal whiney behaviour, with the fifth dog Bella turned away from it and stopped making a sound as if it didn't matter.