Thursday, November 29, 2007

Giving lessons in Extended Warranties to Toyota

So sometime early last year I told Kelli to buy an extended warranty for her car. Being a "new" type car full of electronics I figured it was better safe than sorry. Turns out I was right. Ever since we had the car it has been making an odd "charging" type sound from the outside of the car. Last time she brought it in for service several technicians gathered around turning it off and on looking for the noise. Turns it wasn't normal. Now we have brought the car to the dealer for every service and the noise has always been there. They happened to notice it after the basic warranty expired. Nice. Well I brought it in yesterday and advised the service writer we have a Toyota extended bumper to bumper warranty. He then repeated to me three times that 3rd party warranties don't cover air conditioning components (thats where the noise was coming from). I stated 3 more times that I was positive we have a Toyota Bumper to Bumper Extended Warranty. He was unable to find it in the computer and said he would call me later in the day.

So I am sitting at the airport when he calls and states our car only has  a Toyota powertrain warranty. This is where Darren started getting pissy. I call back and state again we have a Toyota Platinum Extended Warranty. He says he called Toyota and all we have is a powertrain warranty. I state I can bring the paperwork up to the dealer this afternoon. He stated it would be $1600 for the repair of the A/C and the driver side power window. @#(%#%*!%#. I tell him I will call him back. I then go online and go to the site where we bought our warranty. I find the phone number. Then I go to Geico and get Kelli's Vehicle Identification Number. I called Toyota and verify we have a warranty. They state that indeed we have the best they offer....$0 deductible. I ask if the dealer should be able to find the same info. They stated there is no reason why the dealer should not be able to easily pull it up. Now Darren is really pissy. I call back the dealer and leave a firm voicemail stating our type of warranty, the policy number and the number to call. I wait 20 seconds and call back. I get the service writer. He takes down my info...calls me back and states "it seems you do have a Toyota Warranty". How about that. The part will be in today, but we won't get the car until tomorrow. Her warranty covers a $50 a day rental car. Well Toyota sees the repair as a one day repair. The dealer says it will take 2 days....and "sorry".  After all of this is done I am writing a letter to the dealer and Toyota about the lack of communication and low customer service. The reason the dealer couldn't find the warranty is because he called the Toyota distributor for this region, Gulf States Toyota, and not Toyota national. Don't get me started on Gulf States Toyota. If you buy a Toyota or Lexus anywhere in Texas or neighboring are likely getting ripped.

On another note. I went to Northwest Regional Arkansas yesterday instead of Pittsburgh. It was a different way to spend a day.

American Eagle is being sold. This will likely end up being a good thing overall.

Time to waste time. I have the day off.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No USB 2.0

I have no functional USB 2.0 ports on my main computer. All the ports work....but in 1.0 mode. No idea why. I tried to motherboard "hard" ports as well as the "soft" ports. The soft ports are those that need a connector to the outside of the computer to work. Hmmm internal/external would have been a better description. Anyways I have the same problem in both XP and Vista. So I don't think it's a driver issue. I have a USB 2.0 card laying around here somewhere I am going to throw in and see what happens. Could be a BIOS issue.

Flying to Pittsburgh today with Graham, another new pilot. Why Pittsburgh? Well the original plan was to fly first class on a 777 somewhere and then fly back.  Problem....we couldn't find any open 777 flights. Instead we are flying on the plane we will fly, a CRJ-700 to Pittsburgh and back. Silly. Yes. I have only been on a CRJ-700 once. I should be taking photos and uploading to Flickr.

Monday, November 26, 2007

We Knew This Was Going To Happen: iPhone Equipped Passenger Takes On Flight Crew Over Weather

I hate that pilot IPhone commercial!

Posted from : Plane Buzz

We Knew This Was Going To Happen: iPhone Equipped Passenger Takes On Flight Crew Over Weather

One of our subscribers sent me this story today. We all knew this one was inevitable when the latest iPhone commercial rolled out -- now didnt we?

"Oh joy! I can't wait for the next ground delay or long taxi due to weather somewhere to get a smart ass with a freakin I-phone shoving it in my face saying "It's NOT raining there... SEE !" Too late ... already happened to me.  We push back, get advised of a ground stop in MEM due to storms in the area. Go to the penalty box and wait. My Captain does the lecture over the PA... not one minute later, we get dinged from the F/A "Some guy with an IPhone says the weather is good, and wants to know what the real reason is for the delay. Is something wrong with the plane?"

I want to tell this clown what he can do with his IdiotPhone - but the Captain does it even better. He gets on the PA and makes the following announcement :

"If the passenger with the IPhone would be kind enough to use it to check the weather at our alternate, calculate our fuel burn due to being rerouted around the storms, call the dispatcher to arrange our release, and then make a phone call to the nearest Air Traffic Control center to arrange our timely departure amongst the other aircraft carrying passengers with IPhones, then we will be more than happy to depart. Please ring your call button to advise the Flight Attendant and your fellow passengers when you deem it ready and responsible for this multi-million dollar aircraft and its passengers to safely leave."

Needless to say, the pax was pretty embarrassed. The F/A later told us the rest of the plane was outright laughing at this dude. What a clown."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All Gone

The inlaws are almost all gone. Mother in law and Father in law are the last to leave. Good times. I am going back to the hotel today. I have an oral tomorrow.

I reinstalled Windows on Kelli desktop. She has been getting errors for a while. She rarely uses the computer as she uses her laptop most. Well I figured I would upgrade her to Vista. I used the File and Transfer Settings Wizard of XP to backup all her stuff. I figured Vista would surely support that export format. I wiped the hard drive clean and then installed Vista. She doesn't have a DVD drive on that computer so I had to remove mine and install it in an external unit. The Vista install went fine. I then went to import her files and settings. NOT SUPPORTED!! WTF?!?!? How can the File and Transfer Settings Wizard from the previous version of Windows not be supported in the next??? One would likely use the Wizard to backup stuff to go from XP to Vista! I had to wipe the drive clean, reinstall XP, import that Files and Settings, then re-export using the Vista Wizard then install Vista. Actually since it was a clean version of XP I had to reinstall service pack 2 first, then import. By this point I was pissy. I just upgraded XP to Vista rather than do a clean install. All is well now.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Eat outside the box

So my in-laws are in town. We went out to eat tonight. I first wanted to go to Rawlings All American Grill
which appears to be open according to the website. Well they weren't. I then figured...BBQ. They are all from up north. So we drive over there. No go. They don't want it. They wanted OLIVE GARDEN! The same place we went to when we were in Times Square in NY City. Olive Garden?!?!?!? I will give credit to my Father in Law, Mother in Law, Sister in law and her wife...they will eat almost anything. The rest of the group though. Seeesh. Live a little! We ended up at Mimi's Cafe.

Good week

So there is some issue with Vista and my laptop wireless network card. There was *some* update installed that has caused the card to timeout at various times. ANNOYING! It's not the computer because when I plug in the old fashioned cable...the internet works fine. I am going to reinstall Vista I think. Still haven't bought a camera. Found one yesterday I liked. But they sold out online before I could get one. We don't *need* one right now anyway. I was thinking about a zune. I could watch Media Center recorded programs while on the road. The 30 gig version is onsale for $99. A lot better than the original $249!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Think I am ready

I have my systems exam Friday. It's a 100 question written test. Tuesday I have my oral. The following Saturday I begin my simulator sessions. All of the instructors I interact with tell me I am ahead of the game. I feel ready.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In laws coming in

In laws are coming in town today. Not sure if my family is coming up. I booked a hotel room for my dad just in case. We will see. I "work' tomorrow. There are no holidays in the airlines.

Monday, November 19, 2007


We had a good weekend. Washington, DC was our first trip using my flight benefits. We were both able to snag first class seats on the trip there. I did some research and found Ronald Regan International airport is only 3 miles from the Smithsonian while Washington, Dulles is 25 miles away. There is a Metrolink train that goes directly from the airport to just across the street from the Smithsonian. The cost? $2.70 round trip each! The museum was very nice. We happened to come on the opening day of a new exhibit showing how air travel has progressed over the years. The exhibit was awesome. We then treked down to the American History Museum for a bit. Afterwards we went to the Whitehouse and then made our way back to the Metrolink.

The trip back wasn't as smooth. I tried to get us on a flight leaving an hour before ours...but it was full. The flight I listed us on was fairly full....but we were #2 and #3 on the standby list. I can see the exact loads on all flights as well as the standby list on my phone. Well my phone started dying. The standby on American Airlines flights goes paying customers, American standbys then American Eagle standbys. On American Eagle flights it's paying customers, American Eagle standbys then American standbys. Right before the flight it wasn't looking good. Thankfully there was a gentleman who was taking a cat onboard who did absolutely no research on what kind of pet carrier is needed. The one he brought was way too big to fit under the seat. That left one seat in the cabin and one in the cockpit. The gate agent brought Kelli and I down to the plane and told us to standby as they were going to let the cat guy see if the carrier would fit. It didn't. We were both rushed on board. I had never been in a cockpit jumpseat before. It's a free seat (I pay a nominal fee for Kelli and I if we sit in a real seat) but damn hard. The American airlines crew was very nice and friendly. We had a funny discussion the whole way back. Whenever Kelli and I travel together we only really need one seat as I can ride in the cockpit of almost any airline with the captains permission. Nice perk. Our day trip to the capital including air fare, parking, lunch and ground transportation??? $85. Giving your wife the ability to travel anywhere in the world? Priceless.

Now to training.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My place in the house.

Sometimes I forget where I stand in order of importance. So I ask Kelli to get me a 12 pack of Coke Zero when she went shopping today. She didn't get any because it wasn't on sale. She did however get her dogs two bags of treats along with some fancy dog shampoo.  Oh yeah she didn't pay for the shopping trip. Her mom did. Am I being petty? Absolutely.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Office

It is a place where I have expeirenced many emotions and learned many lessons.
It is a place of work but also of dreams.
It is a place of deadly serious encounters,
yet there I discover much about myself and about life.
I have felt joy and sorrow, pride and humility and fear and triumph.
I see much from that office that most can only dream of.
At times, it terrifies me, yet I always feel at home there.
It is my place, the aircraft mine, for those moments.

Though it is a place where I could quickly die,
the cockpit is the place where I truly live.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Another pilot flew west

Robert Davey...a student...a aviator....died in a plane crash Thursday east of Abilene. Details still coming in. I flew with him when I first started teaching in Arlington. He was ex-military. An awesome guy. He was teaching two students in a single engine Piper. I know he went down fighting. Robert Davey is the first pilot I know......I flew not come back.

Update, here's the news story:



I hope there's a place, way up in the sky
Where pilots can go when they have to die.
A place where a guy could buy a cold beer
For a friend and a comrade whose memory is dear.
A place where no doctor or lawyer could tread,
Nor a management-type would e'ler be caught dead!
Just a quaint little place, kind of dark, full of smoke,
Where they like to sing loud, and love a good joke.
The kind of a place that a lady could go
And feel safe and secure by the men she would know.

There must be a place where old pilots go,
When their wings become heavy, when their airspeed gets low,
Where the whiskey is old, and the women are young,
And songs about flying and dying are sung.
Where you'd see all the fellows who'd 'flown west' before,
And they'd call out your name, as you came through the door,
Who would buy you a drink, if your thirst should be bad,
And relate to the others, "He was quite a good lad!"

And there, through the mist, you'd spot an old guy
You had not seen in years, though he'd taught you to fly.
He'd nod his old head, and grin ear to ear
And say, "Welcome, my Son, I'm proud that you're here!
For this is the place where true flyers come
When the battles are over, and the wars have been won.
They've come here at last, to be safe and alone,
>From the government clerk, and the management clone;
Politicians and lawyers, the Feds, and the noise,
Where all hours are happy, and these good ol' boys
Can relax with a cool one, and a well deserved rest!
This is Heaven, my Son. You've passed your last test!"

— Captain Michael J. Larkin, TWA (Ret.), 'Air Line Pilot' magazine, February 1995.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


So I have a lot of clothes. A lot of clothes. It comes from my dad. My dad has every t-shirt he has bought, been given or acquired since I was born. I'm not kidding. His pants are a similar story. I went home after class to get my paycheck and the mail. Kelli was on a rant about how many pairs of pants I have. How many? Well there were 25 pair of pants there. Including what I have in the hotel brings it up to about 30 pair. Not including about 13 pair of shorts. Excessive ? Eh. They range in sizes as do I throughout the year. She wants me to get rid of some. I gave her one pair that I bought that were a smidge too short. Not good enough. Is it my fault I am a fashion geek ?

My uniform came in yesterday....but I didn't get it. The pickup time was during a period that I was still in class. I hope to get it today.

I went to Hooters last night with the other CRJ pilots. There was a little boy...about 8...who was celebrating a birthday. We all chipped in and bought him a Hooters 2008 calendar. Made his night.

I think my car is going to need brakes and tires soon.

Monday night my laptop would not connect to the hotel wireless. Reboots...turning it on and off did nothing. I thought the wireless was down. My roommate and my cell phone connected fine. Tuesday evening and right now it is working fine.

Time for school.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


So we got this thing in the mail touting the new semi-fiber optic TV option in our area from AT&T. It's called Uverse. Looks cheaper and better. I just gotta make 100% sure we can keep Vonage and we won't have to sign up for their phone system. More info here  I will have to keep looking up info and schedule the install for some weekend day when I know I will be here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Version 3.0...pilots...not students

So since I lost my camera I didn't have the photo I took with my version 3.0 students....pilots. One of them, Lauren, posted the photo on their myspace...and I stole here it is! This was taken during my party. Derrick on the left and Lauren on the right. I was lucky enough to have awesome pilots to teach my entire tenure. The last set, Derrick and Lauren, were honestly a pleasure to fly with.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Walking in kilometers

Living in the hotel is bearable. I am getting more studying done than if I was home.

I have been asking around. Looks like I will be able to list my mother in law on my travel benefits where my mom would normally go. What's the difference? Well if I can list my mother in law as a D2 (where my mother would go) versus a D3 (where my mother in law would normally go) she would get higher priority boarding and much cheaper tickets. DFW to PDX roundtrip would be 1/20th the cost as a D2 versus D3.

I am surprised that Kelli is keeping up her website, .

The higher gas prices are influencing me not to get a FJ Cruiser next year. Still not sure which way I will go.

No news on the baby front.

I am exercising almost daily.....twice this week since Monday. I am doing 30 minutes right now. Might bump it up. One annoying thing....damn treadmill here reads out in kilometers!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Back in the hotel

So I moved back in the hotel yesterday. This morning I found out my roommate is a snorer....and a snoozer! The snoring I can handle...headphones...but the snooze button.

This bed sucks.

The towels aren't soft at all.

This is the life of an airline pilot?

I can deal. Flying is awesome.

New Camera

Since I lost the old camera...I had to buy a new one. I did several hours of research before I bought one. I decided on a Fuji FinePix 8.2 MP camera from Best Buy. The price is good $139 and has the features I wanted.  So I thought. I used the movie function of our last camera quite a few times. It recorded at 640x480 at 30 frames per second. The new camera will only do 320x240 at 30 frames per second. Not acceptable. I haven't opened it yet and will return it. I am still looking into either a newer version of our old camera or a Sony DSC-W55.

Below is the current Fuji Camera...that's probably going back...I like the form factor and button placement though.


Next is the Sony camera....which has the biggest fault of expensive memory cards.

sony1.jpg sony2.jpg

Finally the new version of the camera I lost.

Milk expiration dates. I was always taught to trust them. No more! Yesterday I had a bowl of cereal (Fiber One Honey Clusters) and used milk that was set to expire today. Well with my first bite I gagged. The stamp lied!

We ate lunch with Eric and Angela at Stratos yesterday. Awesomely fattening greek food.

I had seen 3 babies in 3 days. All quite. None fat. Ours will be doomed.

Time for work.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Unlimited Travel

One of the perks of my new job is that Kelli and I can travel anywhere we want as much as we want for almost free. Yeah I said almost. The charges are very inexpensive. I can fly Kelli roundtrip to Sacramento or Portland for less than the cost to fill up 1/2 a tank of gas. First class is only a little more. It would be cool for us to fly this weekend, but Kelli has a lot to do.

My eye is feeling much better today...still red....but not painful.  Debating on whether or not to wear the patch today.

This new website for the most part is good. I still don't like the way pictures show up if I chose to place them full size. If I put in  a thumbnail (forcing you to click on it for full size) it looks fine. Bleh.

Pirate Darren?

So I was watching TV Wednesday night and my left eye started annoying me. I thought it was just the contact being itchy. I took the contact out. The annoyance continued. Thursday morning my eye was really itchy and red. Bad. I bought some anti-redness drops and headed to American Eagle. Crazy long day. My eye got worse and worse. I soon realized I had a scratched cornea. I called my eye doctor to make an appointment. I then got a call back stating I needed to call my primary physician to get a referral. No biggie right? Well I called. Nope. They wanted me to come in first. I have one eye! So Kelli drives me. He looks at it...thinks he sees the abrasion and gives me a make shift patch and some anti-biotic ointment. So eye'd Darren for a day or two.