Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saving the juice

So after our crazy nuts $300 power bill in July, I went on a power saving spree. I automated computers to turn on and off. I unplugged a lot of devices that are rarely used, and I started using a lamp in the living room versus the ceiling fan lights. Now all of our light bulbs are compact fluorescents so even the ceiling fan lights use to same amount as one regular bulb....but the lamp uses 1/4th of that! Anyways with all of my reduction in use I lowered the bill by $60. This includes the extra power used by having my mother in law here for a week and me sitting at home a lot instead of flying. Since I have a line next month (a line is a set schedule of flying) I will be gone 18 days in September. I will predict our power bill will go down another $30. Good times.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What is work?

Working. I haven't done it in a while. I go fly planes mind you. But I don't work. I have fun. The only time I really "work" is when I get exactly 8 hours of "rest" between duty periods...i.e. over night trips. When I land at 10PM and depart at 6AM...that's work. I end up getting 5-6 hours sleep to work a 14 hour duty day with 4 or 5 flights mixed in. Flying tired is dangerous....and it is work to me. Most days though...I go fly around a multi-million dollar aircraft at hundreds of miles per hour...with one hand on 24000lbs of thrust and the other on the flight controls. I sweep around clouds to make it comfortable for the people in the back. Every now and then I am packing up my stuff in the cockpit (I literally build a little nest on my side of the plane) and a voice from the back says "thank you" or "nice flight". I turn around and smile most of the time. Today one comment stopped me. A lady poked her head toward the cockpit and said "Thank you for getting us here safely". I had never heard that before. I did make it as smooth as I could. I avoided big turbulent clouds. I made a smooth descent from 38000 feet and I made a very nice landing with minimal "throw you forward in your seat" braking. Anyways I wish everyone could do something that is just plain fun. I have a blast flying.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Blues

I have got bluetooth blues. My TMobile Dash smartphone has been acting up lately. I decided to do a hard reset. After doing do the phone was responding much better. Everything was great. I was happy. I then tried to simply re-pair it with my car navigation system. I remembered last time I did so it took a 3rd party application from Jetware ( to get everything working. The software simply had to be installed while I paired with my navigation system. It worked perfectly. This time I tried simply pairing up. No dice. I then installed the 3rd party app.....still no dice! WTF?!?!? Software *should* be reliable. X + Y should always equal Z. I know except when Windows is involved. My phone runs Windows Mobile 6. I have searched the net and tried editing the registry and another 3rd party app....still no dice. I am now reflashing the ROM on my phone to the default Window Mobile 6 ROM. If this doesn't work......then one more 3rd party app and then I will just wait until the next phone arrives. Damn annoying. There are tons of forums concerning the Pioneer Bluetooth module and Windows Mobile.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back too what works

So I have been watching what I eat for...well...a long time. I did weight watchers....which worked....when I worked in an office. Being on the go...not so much. When I was on the go.....Atkins worked. So I am going back to low carb. Eric has been on it for a few months and lost quite a bit. We did our food shopping tonight and I bought lots of low carb, low fatish (notice the ish) food to last a while. My challenge will be next week during my 4 day trips. I know on night one I stay in a hotel with a TGI Fridays which has low carb options. Night two is in Santa Barbara, California. That hotel has a very high carb breakfast so I will need to bring something with me. Night 3 is in Little Rock, Arkansas. There are a few fast food places near by that I can get some high protein, low carb meals. The hotel has a great breakfast...but the van time will be 5:30 which is way before breakfast is served. I will need to eat heavy the night before or hold off until I get to Chicago where I have an hour to find food before flying back toward Dallas. I plan on loading up on bars and snacks to get me by. I figure two to three weeks should allow for a good 10-15 pound loss. From there I will just maintain....that's one thing I am pretty good at.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Everyone going to Disney World take one step forward

So my mother in law is paying for any family that wants to go to Disney World the second week of January. All we had to do was get there. Air travel is a non-issue. The vacation is a week long with her covering hotel, food and tickets to Disney. Not bad. She paid for a similar vacation to Hawaii two years ago. I figured January would be a good month for me to go as most pilots take vacation in December...not January. All was a go....and then I got displaced out of my current plane and into another one. My training date for my next plane STARTS November 24th and finishes January 31st. Yeah. The only way out would have been if I already had vacation scheduled with the company. I can't even bid on 2009 vacation until October/November. There is a 99% chance I'm not going. Boo.

Still looking into building my own Mac.

I'm up for cell phone renewal. Supposedly T-Mobile is going to be a launch customer for a phone with software written by Google. The Android software is going to installed on a I-Phone like phone from HTC...who made my current phone. I guess I will stick it out.

My current phone is getting ratty. The microphone is going out. I have to use a bluetooth headset for people to hear my most of the time. I lost my old bluetooth headset so I bought one off eBay.  The seller stated it was new. It is obviously used.  I should have checked his feedback. Lots of buyers complain about "new" stuff that's not. He has 58000+ feedback though. Now I have to waste my money to send it back. Boo.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Doors

It's been a busy week. Not busy really...but tiring. I worked overtime Saturday and Sunday. Monday I sat airport standby. Tuesday I sat at home. Wednesday I got a 2 day trip that finished today. The trip was a doosey to begin with. Due to weather in Dallas I got exactly the minimum FAA required rest of 8 hours that started 15 minutes after we landed and stopped 20 minutes before we left this morning. Basically I got 5 hours sleep and worked 12 hours today on that little rest.

Anyways doors. Dog doors really. Our back door is almost entirely glass. Putting in a dog door is impossible. Kelli wants a dog door. I want security. Kelli bought a new back door and is having a hole cut to install an electronic dog door. Each dog will have a transmitter on the collar...basically a mini garage door opener. The door will only open for each dog and be locked otherwise. The door will also have a window with enclosed blinds. No more blinds banging around or getting dusty. The blinds are between the panes of glass.

My car is getting little use. I have had it for almost 5 months. I have driven just over 3000 miles. Leasing is good for me. I "should" be at 5800 miles right now.

I got a set schedule for September. It's not a bad one. I get Thursdays-Saturdays off. On Sundays I start at 1:30PM and finish on Wednesdays at 1PM. I don't have more than 3 legs in a day. I get decent overnights. I will spend my nights in Little Rock Arkansas, Amarillo, Texas and Santa Barbara, California. Santa Barbara is a fun trip....flying out to the west coast in the evening chasing the sunset. We land right on the coast.

Having the set schedule will allow me to plan my life better and move flights around. On one of the overnighs in Amarillo Kelli is going to join me and we are going to eat at that famous steak place up there.

I love my Macbook. My next project will be installing the Mac OS on a PC. Should be fun. Lots of forums on how to do it with specific hardware.

Let the good times roll.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

When in airports always look for FREE wi-fi first!

So I am in Chicago. I flew in and sit for 3 hours. Anyways I fired up my Macbook (loving the 13 second boot to ready to use) and logged on to Boingo thinking it was the only "real" wifi here. After paying $5 (charging it to my T-mobile bill really) I heard an overheard announcement stating to set you SSID to Concourse for Wi-Fi access in the terminal. Sure enough I changed over. FREE! DOH! So word to the wise (and frugal) always try every hotspot before paying.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Weekend of geekiness

I finally got around to upgrading the security camera computer. I was really leaning toward a dual core computer upgrade. Then our power bill came. We hit 1725 kWh used in one month resulting in our first ever $300+ power bill. I then began thinking of building a more "green" computer as well as automating the turning on and off of the existing computers.

Fry's had a $59 motherboard and CPU special on sale this weekend. The CPU is an AMD Athlon LE-1620. The CPU is a single core and just 45watts of power used. There are some CPUs that use just 35 watts. The CPU used in the security computer was a Sempron 2500+ using 62 watts. While at Fry's I bought 2 gigabytes of DDR2 RAM for $19 (after $20 mail in rebate). The RAM is actually faster than the RAM in my main computer...I might swap them. RAM prices have fallen over the past two years. I paid $160 for 2 gigabytes of "fast" RAM January 2007.

From my storage closet, I had a brand new case I bought after a "free after rebate" deal from Frys sometime last year. I grabbed that and a "free after rebate" high quality power supply and a PCI-express video card. I then assembled the computer. I used spare hard drive and then loaded up the operating system. The computer runs pretty cool and quiet. Total cost? $80!!! Well the hard drive should be thrown in at $60. Still $140 for a pretty nice computer that will do little more than record video all day.

After that was done I converted the old security computer into a bed side computer. This invovled mostly removing the security camera software and extra cooling fans.

I bought Windows Home Server after trying it out for a few months. I figured I could just throw in the CD and upgrade it from Windows. That didn't work. I then began getting random reboots so I decided to just back up the important data and reinstall everything link new. I still really like Windows Home Server. The software is super easy to use and requires very little in the way of user intervention. To save power I shifted all backups to be done between 9PM and 1AM. The server will then turn itself off at 1:10AM and turn back on at 7AM. My main office computer which spent several months turned on 24X7 will now only be used when I am actually sitting infront of it. I mostly use it for email and gaming. I get the same email on my phone anyways.

I'm hoping the computer changes as well as other power reductions done around the house will lower the power bill below 1500 watts use this month.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Vegas has changed

Vegas has changed. Back in January times were good, beer was cheap...and I was winning.

We liked a casino called O'Sheas. It's right across from Caesars Palace and next door to the Flamingo. Back in January O'Sheas has $1 beers and $2 Guiness. The casino also had lots of $5 blackjack. Well we walked over to O'Shea's to see no signs of cheap beer. They had a few $5 tables. We each lost money...and were sober.

Vegas was a fun time overall. The filming of The Last Comic Standing was kind of annoying. We waited in line at 7:30AM for the ticket booth to open at 8AM. By 8:30AM we had tickets. We sat in our seats (4 rows back almost dead center!) at 10:30AM. The show started at Noon. The show restarted at 12:10, 12:30 and finally 12:40. Why ? Well it wasn't live. Issues kept occuring in the opening act. Keeping the energy and enthusiasm up for 4 takes is hard. The show was fun though and I am glad Iliza Shlesinger won. She is my favorite.

I didn't win anything beyond my first $67.50 in Vegas. I lost....often. Kelli did well. She didn't come back positive, but she was able to play MUCH longer than me on machines and tables and lost less than I did. We had fun. I figure our losses paid for the hotel (which was free!).

We rented a Prius. We own a Prius. The Prius gas gauge is misleading. Instead of a sweeping arm you get squares. The squares go away as the gas goes away. There is a trick though in that it will show full for a long time. I drove 50 miles. The gas gauge still showed full. I could have easily returned it scott free. I was worried it would dip a block on the way up the ramp. The computer showed 36.4 MPG. I somehow pumped in 2.2 gallons. That math doesn't work. Apparently whoever rented it before us knew the gas gauge trick as well. Oh the pump didn't click off at 2.2 gallons, I manually stopped it.

The flight to and from Vegas was on a 767. The flight was scheduled for a 757. The 767 has 40 more seats than a 757 while also having 8 more first class seats and a 2-3-2 layout versus a 757 3-3 layout. We scored the international crew rest seats on the way to Vegas. These seats are used for the crew to sleep during shift change on ultra long flights. They have extra padding, near lay flat recline, extendable leg and footrest and are situated in a section of 2 closed off from the rest of the plane. Uber comfortable! On the way back we had plane old coach seats. BOOOO! I hate coach. No room and too many rude travelers. Kelli and I are really good at missing first class by 1 seat. On the way to Las Vegas they only had one open first class seat meaning one of us could have had it. The same on the way back from Toronto, Houston and New York. We each have 3 high priority stand by passes to use before the end of the year. They will almost gaurantee us a first class seat wherever we fly.

My mother in law comes in town tomorrow for a week. Gotta find something to do.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Getting Around

Busy last 7 days. Kelli and I were only in the same bed two nights in the last 7. I was in and out quite a bit working. She went to Sacramento,CA on Friday while I flew (for work) to Santa Barbara, CA Saturday. I still chuckle when I see my plane listed as a regional jet. Flying from Dallas, TX to Santa Barbara, CA....a 3 hour not regional. I flew back Sunday and Kelli flew back today. Kelli was my test subject of sorts by chance. The flights on American Airlines from Sacramento to Dallas were extremely full (oversold on a few) today. Kelli and I can travel on almost every airline in the world for an extreme discount (normally 90% off or less a normal ticket). I was always told Southwest Airlines is very nice to non-revenue passengers. Getting Kelli on the list was easy and took less than 4 minutes. I then called American Airlines and arranged for a travel voucher for Kelli to travel from Sacramento, CA to Phoenix, AZ to catch an American Airlines flight home. The only tricky part for Kelli was first stopping by the American Airlines ticket counter, paying for the voucher, and then going over to Southwest Airlines. She had no issues. The only bad part is we pay per segment and Southwest flights can have a couple of stops along the way. She could have flown to Dallas Love Field but it would have been at least 2 stops and the risk to getting bumped are higher. For now on I will stress less about getting home on American Airlines direct as we can always hop on Southwest (or just about any other airline) and either get to an American served city that has open flights (Phoenix was very open today) or all the way home if its a direct flight. Loving my perks even more.

So I will get to keep my job. However I will lose my seat in my current plane. Right now I fly the Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet 700 (CRJ-700 for short). They are reducing the number of CRJ700s in DFW (that's the plan, who knows if they will actually do it). I had a choice to either be based on the CRJ700 in Chicago (only crazy people who join the FBI move there!) or pick a new plane in Dallas. I chose the ATR 72 Turbo-prop. I could have gone to the smaller jet but the ATR has a better quality of life for me. On the ATR I will be #25 out of 60 I will hold a "line" or a set schedule. On the smaller jet I would have been on reserve for a long time. The pay is much lower on the ATR, but I will be able to fly overtime which will help make up the difference.

Still debating on a motherboard and CPU solution for the security computer.

Our power bill jumped to over $300. We didn't use that much more power, the rate went up $0.03 per kilowatt hour!

I am still enjoying my multi-activity vehicle.

Looking forward to Vegas this week and seeing the finals of The Last Comic Standing.

My mother in law comes in for a week starting Saturday.

I am going to pick up a part time job picking tomatoes at a migrant farm in South Texas on Sunday.

I have been on a reduced calorie diet and exercising for about two weeks. I haven't weighed myself in over two months. I get too paranoid when I do. I feel better and my clothes fit better. I might weight myself some time in the fall.

Good times.