Gordon Baxter died yesterday. He was 81.

I don’t think Gordon Baxter will mean much to most of you, but he was a radio personality (and I do mean “personality” – not a personality-free meat puppet or a screaming idealogue which as what they mean now when they use that term) and writer. And to me, he was the epitome of what it meant to be a pilot.

When I started to fly, I subscribed to a load of flying magazines, including the iconic “Flying”. They’d all arrive about the same time, but before I started on any of them I’d turn to the back of “Flying” and read “The Bax Seat”, Gordon Baxter’s column. One of the first one I read was about how he’d had to surrender his medical and couldn’t fly solo any more. Many of his later ones were about flights taken with kind friends who would be Pilot In Command but let him take the yoke or the stick for old times sake. Many of his articles made me cry.

He didn’t write much about the gory and mundane details of flying, weather, regulations, airspace, or the machines (although he loved his Mooney). Flying for him was about being in the company of people who you love like your best friend on first meeting because they share your love for flying. It was about the places he went and the people he met. And he wrote about it in an easy effortless manner that many have tried and failed to emulate – because it was obvious that they were trying, while “Bax” didn’t have to try, he just wrote.

A few years ago one of the Flying editors said that Bax was too sick to write any more, and they started running some of his best old columns in the magazine. Then they wrote how overwhelmed Bax was by the outpouring of love from people who’d never met him.

I never met Bax, and yet I feel his loss.

Blue skies, Bax.

Time Warner is pissing me off

Time Warner were supposed to come to the new house to install cable (and more importantly, cable modem) some time between 4pm and 7pm today. Vicki was at the house from 1:30 on because some new furniture was delivered today, but she wanted me there to point out to the cable installer where I wanted the cable modem and the two TV drops. So I grabbed my laptop and the Linksys router which I’m not using any more (see many, many blog entries) and headed over. Got there at the stroke of 4pm. And waited. And waited. And waited. Helped Vicki put the curtains back up. Tightened some screws. Put some more screens in. And waited some more. Vicki went out and bought some food. Watched the last Doctor Who episode which I happened to have on my hard drive.

At 7:45 I called Time Warner to find out where the fuck the installer was. And they told me that the installer had been there at 4:59 and was unable to get in. I told her that her installer was a fucking bullshitter, as the house was continually occupied with both front and rear doors wide open and nobody drove down our driveway, nobody knocked on either door, and nobody rang any doorbells (actually I’m not 100% sure we have a door bell, but that’s besides the point). She then asked if I’d gotten the two messages they’d left me, and I said no, because I was away from my home phone at the new house WAITING FOR HER GOD DAMNED INSTALLER TO COME.

I got home, and found messages on our voicemail from 4:35 and 4:44 asking for me to confirm that I was going to be there for the installer. Since I told them when I booked the appointment that this was a house we hadn’t moved into, and since they called and left a message reminding me of the appointment yesterday, what the hell do they need me to confirm this? And why are they calling after the scheduled appointment time to confirm?

And just to make my annoyance complete, that 15 minutes I was on hold I was subject to continual commercials telling me how much better Time Warner’s customer service is than the satellite companies. Unless satellite companies actively come over and kick you in the balls while you’re waiting and then leave without installing anything, I can’t see how they could be any worse.