You know, there are times when I really miss living in Canada. Two examples from today:
Calling for my weather briefing for the flight home: Most briefers at the Buffalo AFSS read you the text, exactly as you get it from the computer yourself using DUATS (Direct User Access Terminal System), and read at approximately broadband speeds. If you get a better than average one, he might summarize all the local forecasts like “four to six thousand scattered to broken”, which is fine and a good time saver and short hand. I rarely get any insight or analysis. But every single time I talk to the briefers at Gatineau Flight Service, I get advice, I get analysis, I get exactly what I need. Today, I’d seen the TAFs showing the possibility of thunderstorms during the period, but only as temporary (TEMPO) or widely scattered. I looked at the Intellicast Northeast Radar Loop, and didn’t see any signs of these thunderstorms so I breathed a sign of relief. When I called for my briefing, the briefer told me what to expect (marginal VFR conditions, high ceilings but very low visibility in haze), and then he explained that when the TAFs were issued the forecasters were unsure about where the atmospheric instability was going, but it seemed to have dissipated and moved off north of Montreal, and in his opinion I wouldn’t have to worry about anything developing along my route during my flight. He twice asked me if I had any more weather questions. I couldn’t have asked for a better briefing, and while I could see the far off lightning on the Lance’s Stormscope on the way home, there was no evidence of any activity anywhere near my route.
The other example was listening to Cross Country Checkup on CBC radio. They were discussing a pretty controversial topic, the post release restrictions on Karla Homulka. My favourite Canadian expatriate, Maddy, hated Rex Murphy, but to me he’s what a radio host on a call in show should be. He took calls from “law and order” types who lamented the fact that Canada doesn’t have the death penalty, people who expressed a fond hope that she’ll be murdered after her release, all the way to people who felt that while it’s unfortunate that the police botched the investigation so badly that they had to make a deal with devil, but they made a deal with her and so it isn’t fair to impose further penalties after she served her sentence, either because the restrictions are a slippery slope that could lead to life-time restrictions on lesser and lesser crimes, or just because it would make it harder to make these sorts of deals in cases where the police really do need some cooperation to save lives. And with all these callers expressing all these varied views, Rex was polite, he found something to agree with them and amplify, and sometime to challenge with probing further questions. He gently kept them on topic and got them to say their piece and get off. He never yelled at anybody, he never shouted anybody down or cut off their microphones, he never insulted them or made disparaging remarks about them after they were off the show. Such a huge difference to the Air America show I heard on the drive home from the airport, or any other call in show on either left wing or right wing radio in America.