Friday, January 30, 2009
Kelli and I live in the "Mid-Cities"...named so because its a group of cities between Dallas and Fort Worth. Living here we can work or play in either city.
Katrina isn't the only one there. Eric and Angela also live way the hell out there. Being so far "out there" we don't visit them often. Most of the time when we visit Eric and Angela we meet somewhere in the middle. Katrina and Kelli would meet up often to have lunch....but then Katrina got laid off.
For the past few weeks Katrina was having computer problems. I tried walking her through the issue over the phone and through chat....but it didn't work. I said I would make it out there to fix her computer...today was the day.
I left home at 11:30. I put her home address into my navigation system and began driving. The navigation system took me the way I knew until I exited the tollway. At this point it had me go an odd way. Katrina lives off the same main highway as Eric and Angela. When I used the same navigation system to go to their house it took me the way I knew. For Katrina's house it took me on back roads. I checked the preferences and they were all set for the fastest way...same as for Eric and Angela. I followed the navigation system....blindly.
Eventually I got there. She had 4 problems for me to fix. Within the first 10 minutes I had 3 of them fixed. Over the next 1 1/2 hours I worked on the last one.
Katrina's husband is in the National Guard. They use USAA for banking. USAA has a nifty deposit system. When you want to deposit a check you simply scan it into their website....and it goes straight to your account. Very easy. The problem is that when the JAVA application loads on the website and she clicks on "scan"....nothing happens.
I tried uninstalling and reloading JAVA, clearing cookies/temporary internet files, adding the site to "trusted sites" and reloading the scanner driver. Nada. I the tried Firefox (she had been using Internet Explorer)...same thing. I then thought maybe it was a Windows account issue. I made a new Administrator account....same thing. I disabled all antivirus/spyware/phising software. Nada. I left defeated. The whole time I just kept uttering "maybe you should just buy a Mac". I never could fix the issue. Al I could offer was to backup her data and restore her computer.
The drive today was the second longest trip I have taken in my car at 84 miles round trip. The longest trip is to Eric and Angela's house at 85 miles round trip.
Talked to Kelli about Paris. She said London would be better...they speak English. Good point. London it will be.
We like the game Scene It on XBox. Kelli normally wins...she sees waaay more movies than I do thus scores better. Many times she hasn't seen the movie that the question is about....but she has read the book. Hmmm yeah.
I am in the process of upgrading the look of Byrd in the Sky. I am moving the post over one by one (cut and paste) from the current LifeType log to Wordpress. Wordpress is what powers Stillageek. I looked for software that could pull the blogs out of the current database and move them to the new one.....but had no luck. I should have all 180 blogs moved over by the end of the weekend...maybe.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Being a pilot....I can't really bring work home. On days off I still check to see how the flights are doing...making sure everything is covered. I have rushed to the airport to cover a flight when there was literally no one else to fly it. Walking through the airport I look for situations where I can help another employee or passenger out. Why? I don't know.
Kelli is much the same way. Problem is Kelli is at a job where she can bring work home. At least once a month for a week or three she brings work home. She doesn't have too. No one ask her to. She does it because she knows it has to get done. All of her siblings are the same way. They all have a strong work ethic. I think Kelli's ethic takes steroids though. She works until she is exhausted...sleeps...and then goes back into it. I try to get her to not work....it only works when she isn't in the DFW Metroplex. Well it used to be that way. With her new T-Mobile G1 she can still get to her work email...and then she worries about work. It's rare the she actually relaxes. It's a problem that bothers me.
I have a plan though. Paris. Not Paris, Texas. Paris, France. The U.S. Dollar is making a come back. International travel is WAY down (DFW-Paris flights have been less than 1/2 to 1/3 full lately with First Class being VERY open). In Paris her phone won't work. She won't bring her laptop, so her only access will be my laptop. I will block the website where she checks her work email on. Problem solved. Hmmm...well almost. I do have to find time to go to Paris.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Driving home wasn't a big deal. I am glad I grabbed my ice scraper before I left home. I had a 1/3 to a 1/2 inch of ice on all sides except the driver side. This morning the entire Metroplex is covered in ice. My crazy wife went to work. Her car has anti-locking brakes, traction control and anti-skid control and she is patient. I am not too worried about her. The worry is the soccer moms and business executives in AWD SUVs who think AWD means they can drive on ice. No vehicle (except ones with studded tires...maybe) can drive on ice. I am watching the local news footage of idiots spinning out on overpasses, driving to quick on exits and sliding through intersections. Why go out?
Below is my car after getting home. I could not clear the ice on the passenger side in the employee parking lot. I figured I only had one right turn to make so it was okay (not the smartest idea). I ended up breaking a hole in the ice while driving. Thankfully the ice wasn't on the window surface and I could lower the window without a problem. I then took my ice scraper and broke a hole in the ice. I have heated mirrors so I could see fine.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
KDFW 271653Z 34010KT 2 1/2SM -FZDZ BR OVC008 00/M02 A3017 RMK AO2 SFC VIS 3 CIG 005V011 SLP219 P0000 T00001017 $
KDFW 271504Z 2715/2818 35015KT 2SM -FZDZ BR OVC008
FM271800 35014KT 5SM BR OVC008
TEMPO 2722/2802 -FZRA BKN015
FM280200 34016KT P6SM OVC015
TEMPO 2802/2806 -FZRAPL
FM280600 33013KT 6SM -FZRA OVC015
FM280900 33012KT P6SM OVC100
FM281200 32010KT P6SM SCT250
and get a really good picture of what's going on. The first line is a report from DFW Airport at 1653Z (10:53 AM local). The winds are light out of the north/northwest, visibility is low at 2 1/2 miles, light freezing drizzle, mist, clouds are overcast at 800 feet. The temperature is 32F (0 C) while the dew point is 30F (-2 C). With such a close temp/dew point spread visible moisture is likely (thus mist), if the spread gets wider visibility should improve. The pressure is 30.17. This is an automated report (done by a computer). Surface visibility is 3 miles. There is more, but I won't bore you further. The rest of the data gives me an outlook of the rest of the day.
Besides reading weather on my own. I like to watch the weather on the news. Many times I turn the weather channel on while on an overnight in a hotel and fall asleep to it and of course wake up to it in the morning. I really like weather.
One of my favorite Meteorologist (which is totally different than a Weatherperson) is Rebecca Miller. Every weekday morning I used to watch and listen to her weather forecast and know she knew exactly what she was talking about and she was accurate. She wouldn't add fluff to scare people or sensationalize the weather. She gave it in a fun but informative manner.
Sadly KXAS NBC 5 in Fort Worth cancelled her contract suddenly last year. Her replacement (a woman named Jennifer Lopez) is okay...but it's not the same. She doesn't seem to be as skilled or versed as Rebecca. I am sure Ms. Lopez is very knowledgeable....but she doesn't have my trust.
About once a month for a while I would search for Rebecca Miller on line. Nothing new popped up. This morning I caught a glimpse of her while flipping through channels. Rebecca Miller is back on the WB33 News!!! I only trust Rebecca Miller and David Finfrock (still on NBC 5) for my weather. I will now be watching/recording Rebecca Miller every night she is on.
You can find her blog here http://www.the33tv.com/pages/content_landing_page/?bBeckys-Blog-bIM-GLAD-YOU-FOUND-ME=1&blockID=194224&feedID=2353.
Monday, January 26, 2009
My main desktop had been running for 32 days non-stop. It was performing as my security computer as the computer I built to be a security computer couldn't handle it.
Over the last 32 days it had received over 5 BILLION Bytes! Wow. So much so that the 5 could barely be seen in the network stats. My main desktop had been very reliable. I wanted to up the RAM to 4GB to help it run the memory intensive security camera application.
After installing the RAM it took Vista literally 10 minutes to boot up. Even then some Searchindexer.exe was running non stop even though I turned OFF indexing on all drives. That program was eating up RAM and running both CPUs (its a dual Core 2 Duo computer) at 100%! After 30 minutes the computer locked up and upon rebooting would no longer load Windows Vista...just hanging up. I figured it was the RAM. I installed the original 2GB of RAM. Same thing. I tried loading Windows XP (I have XP installed on a separate drive)....nope. Nice. I defaulted the BIOS. Nope. I then loaded Vista and patiently flashed the BIOS. Same thing. I then brought the computer to the living room and decided to work on it there.
I had another computer I needed to work on so when Kelli came home this is what she saw.
She wasn't too happy....but understood. After much tinkering I finally got the computer to boot with the original RAM. The new RAM always caused issues....so it's going back to Fry's. I thought I was done....but then I noticed the CPU at a toasty 179 degrees F. Wow. I thought it was an issue with the new BIOS. I flashed back to old BIOS. Same thing. I took off the heatsink and reattached it. Same thing. I don't care for the new heatsink designs. It is supposed to be easier. I find it harder. I am going to let the computer cool down totally and try again. Who knows if this is a new thing or if it has been overheating for a while. I rarely ever sit down and use the computer. Mostly I just connect to it over the network.
I fixed the other computer. While doing so Kelli complained about her laptop. It's a Core 2 Duo with 4 GB of RAM. It runs very slowly. I have taken off all the fancy Windows Vista eye candy and extras...still slow. She is okay with it.
My Macbook Pro runs the Mac OS X very well and Windows Vista BETTER than any computer in the house. I don't see me buying another PC ever.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Anyways we saw this commercial the other day.....I could easily be this guy:
Saturday, January 24, 2009
For my Toyota Matrix I installed a factory GPS system first. This was easy as it was plug and play. After that I installed a Kenwood Music Keg and a Kenwood Sirius Satellite receiver. That installation went well and I learned quite a bit. The Kenwood Music Keg was a little ahead of its time. The Keg was a MP3 hard drive for your car. You could load 20GB of MP3s, which at the time was quite a bit. The keg was really nice and easy to use. The addition of Sirius made it even better. That setup served me well while I had the Matrix.
With my Mazda5 I have done more car stereo installation than ever before. To date I have installed the following:
Pioneer Avic D3 touchscreen Navigation system
Pioneer Bluetooth System (integrated with the Avic D3)
Pioneer XM Radio (integrated with the Avic D3)
Boyo Nightvision Backup camera (displayed on the Avic D3)
Kenwood KSC-Sw10 Sub woofer - mounted in the hatch area
Shark fin Antenna color matched to my car (replaced the factory traditional antenna)
Mazda Auto Dimming rear view mirror with compass (not car stereo...but the install was kinda tricky)
I installed the Pioneer Avic D3 (along with the bluetooth, XM and backup camera) back when I first bought the car. The installation took me about 9 hours total. If I had gone to a stereo installation shop (or Circuit City) I would have paid over $400 for the installation of all the components. I did have one glitch where a piece of trim was damaged. Thankfully Crutchfield.com (where I bought the system and followed the included instructions...which were wrong) paid for the damaged trim...so all was well.
Just getting started. Radio partially pulled out...cables galore!
Installing the sub woofer was a little tricky. The sub woofer is self powered (meaning the amp is part of the sub woofer versus having a separate amp). The instructions were kind of clear. The Pioneer Avic D3 has RCA outputs for a sub woofer so the connection to the radio was easy. Getting power to the radio and finding somewhere to mount it....not so easy.
The Kenwood KSC-5w10 comes with all the cables included in one harness. I could either tap the rear speakers for sound or use the RCA plugs. I chose RCA plugs. Power is supposed to come directly from the battery. This is where the installation took a stop. Getting from the passenger compartment to the engine compartment isn't easy. When the car is built all holes are plugged up and sound insulation is put in. I know in my Matrix they drilled a hole. I didn't want to drill a hole in my leased car. So I thought...and thought...peeked...looked...scratched my head....then found a way. When I popped the hood I saw a smallish hole going along the hood and coming out just behind the where the side mirror would sit. I had to use a fishing tool to get the cable through...but it worked. I ran it under the weatherstripping and then above the gas/brake pedals, under the center consoles, where it joined the rest of the cables running back to the sub woofer. Quite a run.
Cable run to the back where the sub would go.
Attaching the cable to the battery required me to make a Home Depot run for a 1/4 inch adapter to attach to the cable and then slide it onto the positive battery cable mount. Done. I then had to find a grounding point. I pulled the trim off the driver side passenger door floor and found a good piece of bare metal. I first tried simply soldering the grounding cable on....but whatever kind of metal that is on the car isn't solder compatible. The solder didn't stick. Boo. I eventually figured out a way to securely attach it.
Mounted on the back of the third row. You can see the bottom of the seats.
I wanted to install the sub woofer under the driver or passenger seat. It's just a little too high. I then wanted to install it between the second row Captains chairs..but the sub woofer is just a little too wide. I finally decided to install it behind the Captains chairs on the back of the third row bench. The third row bench is always folded down making a very large cargo area. I secured it with heavy duty velcro strips so it won't move. If I ever end up carrying 6 passengers I can uninstall it in about 5 minutes.
Looking back. The view is from the center console on the first row. Wires are hidden. I forgot to put the screw driver away before I took the shot.
After putting everything back together...everything appeared to work fine. I took a drive and enjoyed the extra boost of bass. The bass from the sub woofer isn't the kind that will be heard down the street....and it won't shake the car...but it fills where the factory speakers fall off. While driving around I attempted to use my Zune MP3 player. I say attempted because the Pioneer Avic D3 popped up a screen stating "viewing videos while in motion is not allowed". DOH! When I first installed the Pioneer Avic D3 I "hacked" the unit so it would always allow viewing video and allow navigation changes while in motion. When I reinstalled it, the hack (the grounding of a specific wire) must have come loose. The fix takes 10 seconds. Getting to that 10 seconds requires 20 minutes of work pulling off trim panels and putting them back on. I will attack it this afternoon.
Overall I am happy with the unit. I wished it would have fit under a seat like I planned. I doubt I will ever have 6 passengers in my car (the second row consist of two captains chairs, the third row is a bench) so it should be fine. I saved another $150 by installing the unit myself. Go me!
I think I am done. I have never done this much work on a car before. Besides the car stereo install I installed the factory auto-dimming rear view mirror with homelink. That installation was a little tricky as my car as rain sensing wipers. The wipers will automatically clear the windshield if water touches it...pretty neat. Due to the sensors used in the automatic wipers, I had to order a specific hard to find installation kit. The running of wires and splicing was a little tricky. I really wanted the mirror for the homelink buttons. Homelink allows you to control your garage door opener (and more) from the rear view mirror versus having a separate button. It works fine. Homelink is also a safety feature. There have been cases where a thief will break into a car and steal a garage door opener and your car insurance card/piece of mail. Since most people don't lock the door between the house and the garage, once the thief opens the garage door they are free to roam the house. By having the homelink....it's one less thing for someone to steal.
Everything I installed is "stealth". I don't want a flashy stereo system as it invites prying eyes. From the outside of my car it looks like a normal Mazda5....save the shark fin antenna below.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Departing City to Arriving City Fare Valid Departure Valid Return
Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX to Las Vegas, NV $143 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/09/09-04/30/09
Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX to Los Angeles, CA $113 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/09/09-04/30/09
Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX to Miami, FL $130 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/09/09-04/30/09
Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX to New Orleans, LA $64 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/09/09-04/30/09
Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX to Orlando, FL $84 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/06/09-04/30/09
Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX to Portland, OR $134 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/09/09-04/30/09
Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX to Reno, NV $159 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/09/09-04/30/09
Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX to Sacramento, CA $139 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/09/09-04/30/09
Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX to San Francisco, CA $200 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/09/09-04/30/09
Chicago O'Hare, IL to Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX $150 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/09/09-04/30/09
Chicago O'Hare, IL to Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX $107 2/6/09-03/31/09 02/09/09-03/31/09
Chicago O'Hare, IL to Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX $107 2/6/09-03/31/09 02/09/09-03/31/09
Chicago O'Hare, IL to Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX $120 1/23/09-01/24/09 01/26/09-01/27/09
New York Kennedy, NY to Las Vegas, NV $109 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/06/09-04/30/09
Portland, OR to Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX $134 2/6/09-04/30/09 02/09/09-04/30/09
Hmmm that JFK- Las Vegas fare looks really cheap. Bet my brother in law could swing that to join Kelli and I in Vegas in March.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
My first impression started with the airport. This is the pinnacle of Detroit. The terminal is brand new opening just last year. Everything is modern and nice.
I rented a SUV from Alamo. I have had a rash of smoked out rental cars...today was no exception. The ONLY SUV on the SUV row was a 2008 Toyota 4 Runner with 28K miles on it...and smoked out. I should have gone back inside and asked for something else....but it was cold....and I was feeling lazy...so I took it.
Once I hit the highway I started driving toward the city and taking a good view of it....old...dirty...and not so nice. I hit and avoided the pot holes the best I could. Thankfully the 4 Runner can absorb them decently.
I ignored the flashing sign giving directions to the autoshow and followed my GPS. Good thing as I ended up right where I wanted to be....the parking garage under the autoshow building. Perfect.
After buying my ticket I stepped inside. Awesome. The show was big....not as big as I thought it would be but big all the same. All my photos can be seen here http://www.flickr.com/photos/stillageek/sets/72157612852352913/ I walked around like a kid in a candy store. The vehicles that impressed me most were the 2010 Ford Taurus (this car is a amazing...finally Ford did it right!), 2010 Honda Insight (Prius fighter...but much cheaper), 2010 Toyota Prius, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro and the entire line from BYD Automotive.
BYD Automotive is a Chinese automaker who sells cars in Europe and China. They have an entire line of full electric and hybrid cars. The only fault was the cars had an odd smell to them. Hyundai used to have a similar problem. For a long time (even the 2010 Hyundai Tiburon) Hyundais smelled odd inside. I believe it was to do with the chemicals used in the plastics. A very strong odor....not pleasing to me. The BYD cars had a similar odor. They have plans to sell in the United States....could be interesting.
I had planned on staying for 6 hours. After 2 hours I was about done. There was a problem though...I couldn't find the Nissan/Infiniti section. I walked around the show twice before asking an employee. Apparently Nissan decided not to come! I was shocked. I later read that they backed out for fiscally responsible reasons. In this economic climate they didn't feel it responsible to spend millions of dollars on an autoshow when they could be saving the money and thus jobs. They will be in Chicago for that autoshow. The North American Nissan dealers were upset at the lack of participation and rallied for a presence. The Chicago Autoshow will be staffed mostly with local dealer personnel on a toned down stage presence. Nissan has a new 370Z and a new small SUV coming out this year.
After the show I headed back to the airport (I re-booked myself on an earlier flight back). I was still 3 hours from departure. On the way to the show I passed the Motor City Casino. MMmmm Casino. I only had $10 cash on me. I took a drive down Grand River Avenue and decided I would visit the casino if I passed a Bank of America.
Grand River Avenue started in the ghetto. I thought for sure if I drove far enough I would enter a "good part". I passed bad part...and then worse part....then bad part. I saw what looked like a revitalized section with a newish retail strip center. Once I passed it I saw it was full of pawn shops, liquor stores and burglar bars. The good part never came! I finally got to the highway and headed to the airport.
The rental needed a little gas. I pulled in and looked for the fuel filler release handle. I didn't see one. This means it doesn't have one right? I walked out...nope the cover was locked. I then scoured the interior. I looked next to the seat (where most Japanese automakers put it), glove box, center console...nothing. I then looked for an owners manual...missing. I went back out and pushed on the cover. Nothing. I am starting to feel stupid. I am a car guy dammit!! Finally l looked down by the hood release. There is a little black non-descript handle. I pull it. The cover opens. WTF Toyota?!?!?!
Back in the airport, the only thing that irks me is the Boingo Internet service. Many airports are now having just one provider leaving many travelers having to pony up cash to use the Internet. I have noticed the bigger airports charge while the smaller ones give it away for free. Boingo allows roaming for T-Mobile customers...for $4.99 a day. I am only going to be in the airport for two hours thus not worth it. Instead I am using my OLD T-Mobile Dash phone to tether to the net at 2X dial up speed. My new fancy G1 phone that has blazing fast internet does not allow tethering....boo.The flight to Detroit I sat in First Class and had a nice breakfast. The flight back I had to sit in the back.....boo coach! At least I had the row to myself.
The weather in the United States right now is odd. There is normally a winter jet-stream that flows from west to east at high speed. This causes eastbound flights to be shorter (due to a tailwind) than westbound flights. Right now the wind is light and flowing north to south. When I flew to Pittsburgh and back the flights were about the same length. Normally the flight to Pittsburgh is 2 1/2 hours while the return is 3 hours 15 minutes. My flight back from Detroit was 45 minutes early last night due to the lack of a headwind. Odd. Saves airlines money on fuel though.
I am off today and tomorrow. My father in law is coming in town to go to an AC/DC concert with Kelli tonight. I bought them each a set of high quality ear plugs.....hope they use them.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
In dealing with the terms "black" or "African American"......do you know what determines if that label is placed upon you (still today!)? One drop of blood. The "One Drop" rule was put in place largely to determine who was "black" or "African American". If you had one drop of blood from a "black" or "African American" you were deemed part of that group. Pretty racist eh? You could be 1% "black" and 99%"white" but in the eyes of the government.....you were "black" and treated as such. I am sure many denied or hid any notion of "black" blood in their past if they were able to pass as "white".
The one-drop rule has long been taken for granted throughout the United States by whites and blacks alike, and the federal courts have taken "judicial notice" of it as being a matter of common knowledge. State courts have generally upheld the one-drop rule, but some have limited the definition to one thirty-second or one-sixteenth or one-eighth black ancestry, or made other limited exceptions for persons with both Indian and black ancestry. Most Americans seem unaware that this definition of blacks is extremely unusual in other countries, perhaps even unique to the United States, and that Americans define no other minority group in a similar way.- Source PBS.ORG
The United States has always discriminated against blacks. There is still discrimination today. Don't say all formal discrimination ended back in the 1960s. My parents have a very different view of racism than I do. They went through more discrimination than I will ever experience. I still recall stories my mother told me about traveling on a bus across the state of Texas. When they would stop at a cafe she would have to go to the back door of the cafe to eat. After the Civil Rights Act of 1968 she was able to eat in the front of the cafe. I still remember how she laughed when she told be the burgers in the front taste just the same as the burgers she ate in the back.
I grew up in an all "white" neighborhood. My family was literally the ONLY "black" family in the ENTIRE subdivision. My brother and I were the only two "black" kids in elementary school. I remember being at a neighborhood park late at night while in high school. I was one of 5 or 6 teenagers (I was driving so 16 or 17 years old) hanging out. A police officer pulled up and asked me why I was there. He inspected only my ID. Then told us to go home. Everyone else was not "black".
Barack Hussein Obama is the son of a black (not in quotes on purpose) man from Kenya and a white woman (Irish and and English descent) from Kansas. The media and the United States public calls him "black" or "African American". Why not call him Irish???? or English? Oh that's right because his skin has a lot more melanin than "white" people making it dark brown. Calling Barack Hussein Obama "black" or "African American" is racist (he's just as much "white" or "Irish American" or "English American"). Doing so makes you no better than members of the Ku Klux Klan or the Aryan Brotherhood. Those groups use the one drop rule. Calling Barack Hussein Obama "black" means using the very same rule.
I am pondering going to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI. I assumed Detroit had a nice public transit system.....well you know what assuming does.
Using Google Maps it shows a 1 hour 44 minute trip from the airport to the auto show!!! The trip is only 21 miles. The reason it's so long is because it's all by a bus that stops every 20 feet. Detroit does have a DOWNTOWN rail system....but it does not connect to the airport. The first flight from DFW to Detroit arrives at 10:45AM. The last flight out leaves at 6:50PM. If I were to use public transportation I would have maybe 3 hours at the auto show if everything went perfectly.
A taxi is at least $59 each way. No thanks. The cheapest rental car is $45 all in. Not horrible but raises the cost of the trip. Right now I will pay $23 for airfare (coach....1st class is $40), $45 for the rental, $10 to park said rental, $12 for a ticket to the show,and $10 for lunch. So it would be a $100 day trip. Kinda pricey. My biggest hurdle is getting from the airport to the show and back. I can't find a shuttle....assumed there would be one. I will keep looking.
If I don't go the next big show is the Chicago International Auto Show next month. Kelli and I went to that show last year....neat...but been there...done that.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Circuit City is going out of business. I will have to start weekly visits to see how the demise sales are going.
I'm watching TV I missed from last week. American Idol and Fox use one of the best HDTV recording and broadcast systems out there. The picture is crazy clear and the colors are vibrant.
The Detroit auto show is this week. I might fly up by myself and check it out. Kelli would go but she has an AC/DC concert to go to with her dad. My schedule has me off Friday-Sunday.
We were supposed to go to Denver February 6th for a wedding for a pilot/friend of mine. He is a First Officer on the same plane I fly...he is right under me in seniority. I was supposed to be an usher but was upgraded to groomsman last week. I got a text yesterday stating that I didn't need to get fitted for a tux because the wedding was off. That's not good. Sucks for all those that bought airline tickets and such for the event just 3 weeks away.
For now....time to recover from vacation.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Around boarding time we were up by the boarding area. The Orlando airport is being renovated. The boarding area is a mess. The gate agents only have one crappy speaker to talk through. This played out to our advantage. All the paying passengers who wanted (and should have had) first already had seats in coach. Rather than rebook them in first class the gate agent gave everyone non-reving (What Kelli and I are...non-revenue passengers) first class! This rarely happens. We would not be sitting together but it's still first class. Only bad thing was I was still in uniform....so no alcohol. Booo. I would have changed if I thought I might get first...sitting in uniform in first makes me feel funny. I dunno. It was a very nice way to fly home from a tiring week.
We landed at 8:30PM. By 8:55PM we were on the employee shuttle to the employee parking lot. Around 9:25PM we walked in our house. After greeting the dogs, putting clothes in the washer and watching the news, we fell asleep around 10:30PM. I woke up at 6:00AM to get ready for a 13 hour work day. Good times.
I am now at the end of said workday. Tired. I really wanted to relax today. Didn't happen. I will now spend tonight away from home and may be able to be back in my house tomorrow night. I would be really pissy if I were gone for the next 4 nights (a possibility) as I would sleep in beds other than my own for 10 nights out of 11. I like my bed. I think I am getting tired. Bed time awaits. At least this hotel has nice beds. Not as nice as my own....but nice all the same.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
From there we went back to Disney Hollywood Studios for another ride on Toy Story (it's a really fun ride!) using our fast pass and then a ride on the History of Films.
We ate a lot this week. A lot. Lunch today was at an Irish pub. I had a nice Guinness beer and then Shepherds Pie. For Dessert I had the best Bread Pudding of my life. It was too much. Oooof
From there we went to EPCOT and rode Mission to Mars and Test Track. Mission to Mars has two lines...a Green line and an Orange line. The Green line is for those who don't care to be subject to G-Forces, Spinning or Motion Sickness. Kelli and Peggy (my mother in law) went on the Green Team. I was surprised how rough the Orange Team was. The ride is so rough that puke bags were available for each rider. The G-forces were 2 1/2 times the force of gravity.
The Orange line is for those who don't give a crap. There are MANY, MANY, MANY warnings along the way. I thought they were over doing it. Nope. That ride is intense. The ride simulates blasting off from space and landing on Mars. Riders sent in a cockpit which apparently is attached to a centrifuge as we were subject to at least 2 1/2 Gs during the launch. From there you are turned and twisted all around. Crazy. Even I the pilot got a little queasy on the ride.
We then ate dinner. Yeah more eating. We are now back in the condo for the night.
Getting around Disney is easy. We spent a lot of time waiting for the right bus. Each time it seemed the bus we wanted took the longest to come. There would be multiple buses going to other locations besides where we wanted to go.
It's been a fun week. Tiring. Kelli and I have been out and about for 12 hours a day. Walking a lot. No idea how much weight we gained. I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed. The bed here is a double. Kelli and I are used to spreading out on our king. Yeah.
My two nieces are here this week. One is 2 (almost 3) while the other is 1 1/2. Both are still in diapers. Tonight my sister in law Jami changed Haley (1 1/2) right in the middle of the living room....4 feet away from me. Poopy diaper! Hello! Gross! Gross! Gross! I was shocked. There are four wonderful bathrooms in this condo. All nice and big. She chooses the living room floor? Then to trump Jami.....Kevin changed Gianna (almost 3) in the same spot. Gross! Gross! Gross!
We are planning to go to Vegas in March. No idea where we are going between now and then. We will need a break to relax from Disney.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Our first stop was the Toy Story ride...but only to get a fast pass (to come back later and skip the line). We then rode Hollywood Tower of Terror. I have ridden the same ride in California. The ride here is very similar, but is different in that the whole car moves forward in the hotel through a room before dropping to the ground.
Next up was Rocking Roller Coaster with music from Aerosmith. That was one awesome roller coaster. The entire ride is indoors in the dark. The only lights are street signs that light up along the way. During the ride Aerosmith music is blasted from speakers in the seat. Awesome.
We then rode Toy Story. This is a competitive ride. Kelli and I each kinda won. She was more accurate while I had a higher score. We wanted to try again but the line was over an hour long the rest of the day.
While walking through the park I noticed that there was a man standing outside The American Idol Experience. The attraction doesn't open officially until February 14th, but they had the first three test shows today. We were able to see the 2nd test showing. The stage is just like the TV show. They have 3 judges...one "Randy" like....one chick and one ass who is "Simon" like. Park guest can audition each day to be on a show. The show was very neat. The winner of the finale each day gets a "Dream Ticket" that will get them to the front of the line at ANY real American Idol audition event. Pretty neat.
Tomorrow we plan on hitting Toy Story again and then who knows. We have visited all the parks we wanted to visit.
Spending a week with Kelli's family has been interesting. My previous "top niece" Haley is in the beginnings of her "terrible twos". She is 1 1/2 years old now. She is VERY moody. When she is in a good mood she is great. She doesn't do too well with men though. Whenever I or another male picks her up...she doesn't dig it.
My other niece Gianna is almost 3 years old. She is much better than the last time I was with her. She is very expressive and loves attention. This is the first time Gianna has ever had to share her Grandmother. There have been several times where she will bogart Peggy (my mother in law/ her grandmother) and taunt Haley. Good times.
As of now I plan on heading back home Friday evening. I am pretty sure I will be flying (in the cockpit) on Saturday.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The Everest rollercoaster was awesome (I don't use that word often...so when I do...I mean it). You start facing forward twisting and turning up a mountain. Around 1/3 the way through you get to a steep incline where the track appears to have been destroyed. The train stops....and then you start going backwards down a different path than you took up. This is all done inside the mountain and it's very dark.
The other neat ride was the Dinosaur ride. This is similar to Indiana Jones at Disneyland in California. Riders are loaded up in Jeep like cars (3 rows 4 across) and then sent back in time. The vehicles almost seem to drive themselves. The vehicles speed up quick and take small diameter curves at a pretty high speed. All along the way dinosaurs pop out of the dark and scare he riders. The ride was rough, fast and caused some kids to leave crying.
After that there wasn't whole lot that interested me. We saw Finding Nemo....The Musical .....I was okay watching it. I am not into musicals in the slightest....after that show....I'm still not.
The rain came down after the show. Kinda sucked. We dealt the best we could.
One thing that is very nice about this vacation....Kelli and I are spending maybe $3 a day. My mother in law bought a package that covers 2 meals per day per person and 1 snack per day per person (along with park admission everyday). Each eatery has icons on the menu that show which items are considered snacks and meals. Very easy. I can only imagine how much this cost....gotta be close to my yearly salary as there are 10 people here.
Today is Disney Hollywood Studios. Should be fun. Tomorrow and Friday we can go wherever we want as the only park left is Disney Blizzard Beach. Anyone thinking of coming to Disney should come during January. The lines are VERY short. The longest line so far has been 10 minutes.
Looks like I am going to stay on my plane at American Eagle. I will be the most junior guy in Dallas on the plane. This means I will have little to no choice in what I will do. I will be the biotch. At least I still have a job. I will also earn slightly more than I would have on the ATR.
Monday, January 12, 2009
My mother in law bought a very nice package for the family. Everything is covered. We each have tickets to each park everyday, two meals a day and one snack a day. We were each issued a card (much like a credit card) with our name on it. The card is our hotel key, ticket to the parks and meal cards. The same card would also open the door to a cruise stateroom if we were taking a cruise. Disney is very integrated.
The food has been very good so far. Last night we ate dinner at a seafood restaurant next to the "Finding Nemo" adventure. Only Jami (my sister in law) and I had seafood. Funny. I figured my father in law John would have had seafood...but he went for the steak.
Today is the Animal Kingdom. I don't really care for animals so I am bringing my MP3 player just in case.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
We rode every ride I wanted to and them some. I have been here at least 3 times (although the last time was over 13 years ago!) and I have never taken a ride on any/many kids rides. With my two nieces in tow I rode quite a few. The only one that drove me a little nutty was It's a Small World.
Years ago there was a ride called "The People Mover"...now it's called something else. I didn't know rides at Disney changed named. Hmpf. Same ride. I, along with my nieces, enjoyed it. No one else did.
Dinner at Cinderellas Castle was very nice. This was my first time in the Castle. The cast as Disney is top notch. Cinderella played the part to a T. All the other characters and even the waitress were amazing.
Today is Epcot. Should be more fun. Stay tuned to my Flickr!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
One of my brother in laws is a NYPD cop. He used his status to haul ass from NY to Orlando. Somehow he only got pulled over once. The cop scolded him for going "only" 80 MPH in a 65 MPH zone. Nice.
The on site hotel we are staying in (Old Key West) is very nice. Photos to come. It's a 3 bedroom 4 bathroom condo. The only issue. No wireless!!!! One ethernet port....we have 3 laptops. I can't get ICS to work on any of the computers. The ADHOC network says its ready...but when I try to connect. Nothing. Gotta try more later. One would think Disney would have wireless. Also $10 a day! Damn Google G1 phones don't support or allow tethering. Grrr.
Time to head out for the day. Keep an eye on my Flickr for updates.
I haven't been here in 14 years. My how much has changed.
Friday, January 9, 2009
When I got on the plane this morning two Vice Presidents from my last real job, working at The Pinnacle Corporation (www.pinncorp.com), sat right in front of me. One of them remembered me...damn good memory as I have been gone for almost 3 years!
The flight down was uneventful. I quickly hopped in the rental (a Subaru Legacy...first time driving a Subaru for me) and headed to his house.
When we moved into the area in 1980 it was the country. Now every time I visit there is a new super fancy apartment complex or store. Nutty. There is no way I could live there now....too many stop lights and congestion. The house has changed very little in the last 9 years much less the last 30.
We went and had a very good mexican breakfast at a local neighborhood restaurant. We then went back to the house, chatted a bit before I had to head back to the airport. Below is an extremely rare photo of my dad. It's rare because 1)He doesn't like his photo taken 2) He almost always wears sunglasses 3) He is smiling!
Heading back to the airport......I pass right by the Veterans Cemetery in Houston. I do my best to always stop by and pay my respects to my mother.
My mother is a large part of who I am today. My sense of humor, work ethic, disorganized living arrangements, and gambling come from my mother. My father gave me my hardheadedness (is that a word?), my taking extreme pride in what I do and my desire to always want to do better. Unlike myself and my mother, my dad is a VERY clean and organized person. That's one trait I didn't even take a morsel of. His house is always perfectly clean.
My life as I knew it came to a screeching halt July 3, 2000. I had just graduated college and moved into a house my mother owned. My fiance at the time and I were driving back to the house when we drove by my mom who was heading home (her business was located in a house she owned next to the house I was moving into). That night I drove by to Nacogdoches....can't remember why. Just after 10PM the phone rang. The next few hours after that were a blur.
I am not a spiritual person....but I know my mother is watching over me. Sometimes when I am flying thru the sky at 39,000 feet I just stare out the window and think about her. I miss her dearly. Below is a photo of her with one of her many, many,many jackpots.
The flight back was more full than I thought. I was a little worried on if I would make it on or not. There was an American Airlines pilot on standby with me. If there was just the cockpit jump seat available it would go to him as we were flying on American Airlines. If this had been an American Eagle flight I would have trumped him and taken the seat. Everything worked out fine and I got a normal seat in coach. The same two VP's were on my return flight. I wonder if they remembered where I went when I left the company. Gotta think it was odd to see me on both of their flights.
Tomorrow is Disney.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Kelli got me watching Weeds.
I am going to Houston tomorrow to have lunch with my dad. I plan on flying American Eagle to Hobby airport (the small Houston airport) and flying American Airlines back out of Intercontinental (the big Houston airport).
Less than 48 hours till Disneyworld.
I got an email from my airline that I will be starting training on the 19th. I was on reserve the 17th and the 18th. Due to contractual obligations I was given the 18th off. I am still working the 17th which sucks. I will have to make a game time decision the 16th if I have to come home that night or the morning of the 17th.
I grew up listening to "alternative" music. Most of the artist I listened to were not "mainstream". Currently I listen to more well known artist but still enjoy the "different" artist when one comes along that tickles my ear.
About a month ago I came across Amanda Palmer. I use a Zune 80GB MP3 player filled with music from Microsoft Zune music software. The player/software tracks ths music I listen to and offers up new music I might like. I was exercising one day with the MP3 player on random when "Oasis" came on. I really enjoyed it. I then downloaded the whole CD and found I liked every song. I played the "Oasis" video for Kelli....she didn't get it. I don't get AC/DC so I guess we are even.
Below is the "Oasis" video from Amanda Palmer.
Speaking of working out both Kelli and I can definitely see a positive change from regular exercise. The Wii Fit really does work for me while Tae Bo works for Kelli. Just gotta stick to it.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
(photo taken from Flickr Here)
I arrived at 10:30AM (I'm always early) and walked in. A non "Genius" checked me in and said they would call me name. I saw my name randomly flash on a board showing my position in the que. Somewhere around 11:00 AM my name was called.
I quickly explained the problem and logged into my computer. The "Genius" put a DVD in and sure enough after a few seconds it popped back out. He then began taking my information. I am thinking there is a super "Genius" in the back who is just waiting to fix my Macbook Pro. The "Genius" then tells me it will be 3-5 days! WTF?!?! No way. I explain that I travel alot and can't go 3-5 days without my Macbook. After explaining "that's the way it is", I leave and head to an Apple Service Provider.
On the way I call and explain my situation. They stated they would diagnose it, order the part and then have me bring back my Macbook when the part comes in. This is what I wanted!
Once I arrived I explained the problem and then they also attempted to take my Macbook Pro for days! After some discussion they did take it to the back and after about 20 mintues gave my back my Macbook Pro and said they would call me tomorrow. Nice.
This is why I like building my own computers. I can fix them! I could likely fix the Macbook Pro but I would have to buy the CD/DVD drive myself versus having Apple pay for it.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
This morning I said goodbye to the CRJ. I was a little emotional as it was the first plane I flew at my airline. By noon I was over it and ready for my new plane...the ATR. Then by 4PM I read an announcement about new assignments that I will keep my seat on the CRJ. This is like being told your dog died. You get over it. You find a new dog that you like and are ready to take it in. Then you find out your old dog is still alive...but now it craps and pisses all over you. See I am going to be the absolute LAST guy on the seniority list for the CRJ in Dallas. I will be sitting airport standby everyday for the foreseeable future. This isn't official yet (it will be offcial on Sunday) but will likely hold true.
I would rather have gone to the ATR.
This morning I landed the CRJ-700 for what is likely the last time for a while....if ever. I was a little worried that I would bounce it or have a rough landing as it was very light and very calm winds. Everything was on my side today.
Here is a photo of the CRJ-700 for those who have no idea what it looks like or how big it is.
So what's next? Well Disneyworld.....then I do have 1 day of reserve left. I seriously doubt I will fly. Two weeks from yesterday I start training on my next plane. The Super ATR 72.
The ATR is an older plane that requires more work on the part of the pilots, flys slower, lower and shorter trips. Oh and I get paid $6 an hour less. I should be flying it sometime in March.
Here is the ATR.
I'm looking forward to the challenge....and having weekends off while in training.....and then having a much better schedule. I will miss sipping coffee while watching the sunrise at 38,000 feet. I know I will return to a jet soon...probably within a year or two.
This last trip was kind of rough. I was gone for 4 nights...haven't done that in months. Hopefully won't have to do it again.
For now...I am going to sit back....relax...and wait for Disney.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Two days from now I will be waking up in New Orleans, Louisiana
Three days from now I will be landing the CRJ700 for what could be the last time....for a while.
Four hours from now I will be strapped into a metal tube getting ready to blast off to Little Rock, Arkansas for the night.
Air travel is down....which will help us get to Orlando just fine. Right now there are 138 out of 160 seats filled in coach. There are only 5 of 17 seats filled in first class. Kelli and I are the only ones non-reving on our flight so far. Looks good.
I have vacation the 10th thru the 16th. As of right now I am supposed to be on reserve the 17th and 18th...which sucks because the rest of the family will still be in Disney on the 17th. I will know by 4PM on the 16th what I will be doing on the 17th. I hope to get afternoon airport standby which will allow me to come home with Kelli on the 17th. Oh the problems of being an airline pilot.
Last night I had one of those moments that makes my job exciting. Little Rock, Arkansas was under heavy fog and clouds. The first time we tried to land the visibility dropped way too low causing us to go around and wait for it to clear up. On the second approach the airport was reporting 1/16 of a mile visibility, vertical visibility of just 100 feet and calm winds. The runway visual range (how far you can see down the runway) was just 1800 feet. As we made our way in I saw nothing until 200 feet where I could see the pulsing strobes of the approach lighting system. The captain kept descending. Right at 100 feet I could make out the runway lights. We landed in a cloud and could see just slightly down the runway. After parking at the gate (and taxing very slowly due to very low visibility) we heard several other planes go around. The rules are strict on when you can land. In our cockpit we could see the runway. In a 737 or bigger plane, where the cockpit is higher, those extra few feet made all the difference.
When I took off it was a little more clear but still very foggy. I love this stuff.
Below is a photo as seen from the cockpit. We were stopped and waiting for a plane to try to land. The green lights lead out to the runway. The fog can be seen on the red lights ahead.