Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tax Deductions....every penny counts

I paid off my student loan last year....but not before paying interest....a whole $0.94.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Murphy's Law

Yesterday was a bad day.

I went to a work related meeting at 10AM. I left at noon and headed to the airport. All the flights to my destination had plenty of seats. I parked in the employee lot and made my way to the gate.

Boarding had begun by the time I arrived. I got an aisle seat in row 40...big plane. I sat down and noticed every seat had touchscreen TV monitors. Nice.

We left the gate on time. As we taxied the Captain announced a ground stop for our destination....crap. I never checked the weather. There were thunderstorms, low clouds, fog and lightening.

I tried to relax. I was supposed to fly up, grab my stuff I left behind and fly home. Everything looked great last night when I booked the flight. By 9PM I should have been sitting on my couch at home. While waiting on a taxiway I checked myself in for my return flight. Something bad happened as all the flights were oversold and delayed. I checked in for the 5:25PM flight that was now leaving at 5:58PM.

I was agitated, but thankfully I was on a flight with TV monitors and on demand entertainment. I started Slum Dog Millionaire at 2:10PM. Great movie. We sat on a taxiway till 2:30PM.

The person next to me used her screen to show flight status. Instead of arriving at 3:20PM we would arrive at 4:30PM. This was okay as my items were in an office that closed at 5PM. I could huff it over there, get my stuff and still make my 5:25PM flight home.

We landed at 4:25PM. By 4:35PM we were parked and deplaning. Life in row 40 wasn't good...lots of people ahead of me.

I made it off by 4:43PM and began quickly walking through the terminal while calling the office on my cell phone. No answer. Hmmm.

This airport uses a security code made of up all kinds of personal data that has never worked for me. Yesterday it did! I made it down to the office at 4:50PM. This is where my day would really suck. My items were looked behind a closed door. The person who has the keys was out for the remainder of the day. I spoke with this person the day prior and told them I would be up in the afternoon and they said okay. Nice.

Empty handed I went upstairs and headed to the gate. There were 45 people on standby. Being a pilot I can ride upfront. I noticed another flight leaving 30 minutes after this one that is larger and has a 10X more comfortable jumpseat. This plane had 2 cockpit jumpseats! I skipped the first flight and went for the second one. There were no other pilots on the standby list. I thought I was golden. There was another flight I could take that flew to a secondary airport near our house leaving at the same time. Since I saw no other pilots on the jumpseat list....I skipped the idea of flying somewhere other than where I parked my car.

Boarding began. There were now 70 people on the standby list. At the end of boarding I asked the gate agent for the cockpit jumpseat. I was then told they were occupied by deadheading crew members. I didn't see that coming. Dead headers don't show up on the standby list. Now I was really screwed.

The next flight didn't leave for 2 more hours. I stumbled around the terminal. I used computers behind unused gate to work on my options. This is a double edged sword. This is faster than using my phone, but passengers keep stopping by thinking I can help them. They are all in bad moods. I did the best I could.

My next flight was leaving at 9PM. The standby list was over 100 deep now. There was another pilot on the list, but from another airline. Thankfully I go before him. Being a nice guy I tracked him down and let him know I was going to get the jumpseat before him. He was grateful, shook my hand and made his way out of the area.

By 9PM I was in the back of the boarding line waiting to get on. Jumpseaters get on last. I get looks when I jumpseat out of uniform. "Who is that guy in the polo getting in the cockpit?"

There was a minor mechanical problem. I got to stand in the cold and wet jetbridge (still raining) while the mechanics were called. Being last to get on, jumpseaters have to really fight for bag space. I only had my laptop case which I slid in the front closet. Nice. By 9:20PM I was seated in the jumpseat. Jumpseats are thinly padded chairs with an awesome view.

The crew was nice. I did my best to stay awake. I dozed off a few times. They did offer me dinner. I had my choice of grilled salmon (my favorite!) or ravioli. I was too tired to eat.

At midnight we Captain landed. By 12:10 AM I was on the employee bus.

At 12:35AM my head was laying on my pillow.

Waste of a day.

I am going to have a friend pick up my stuff and bring it to me. He is based there, but lives here. He won't be home till March 2nd. choice. Today's flights are worse than yesterday. All because I left some stuff behind in the cockpit.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Not what you were looking for?

For those who were looking for another type of blog. A blog of that nature will return. Maybe tomorrow...maybe three weeks from now...maybe 3 months from now. Till then...hang out.

Today was a long day. Nearly 12 hours of duty time. I only flew for one hour. Good times.

I'm glad I work with a professional group of people. I accidentally left behind my Bose QC2 headphones, Zune MP3 player and Digital camera behind in a cockpit. I didn't realize this until I was sitting in a passenger seat of a plane ready to fly back home. Yeah. I called to friends who were based at that airport...neither was at the airport. I called the chief pilot office who quickly went out to the plane and picked up my stuff. They locked it up. Bad thing is I have to waste 1/2 a day tomorrow traveling back to get it.

Kelli has to testify in Washington state next week. She will be gone for 3 days. Due to the lack of a schedule on my part she will kennel the dogs for 3 days. Since we both have odd will be interesting how an offspring (many call it a baby) will fit in.

Vegas can't come soon enough.

I saw Smart People today. Really good movie.

Kelli is loving her Macbook. I am happy. Mac's cost a little more, but unlike PCs, all the software you need is included.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What a day

Kelli's new Macbook is here. I think she will be happy. After she unboxed it I installed the updates and then set it up on the Time Capsule. The addition of her Mac means the Windows Home Server is becoming kinda useless. Right now it backs up only one other computer in the house. A few months ago it was backing up 5 computers.

My 32nd birthday and our 4 year wedding anniversary is coming up. We are going to Vegas during my birthday...we will celebrate our anniversary while we are there as well. So far Jason and Jackie will be there as well. Eric and Angela are looking to go the same weekend as well. We all haven't been in Vegas together since our wedding 4 years ago! Hopefully everything will work out.

My car will be one year old next month. So far it's been a great ride...pun intended. I have averaged 26 MPG over the course of 6200 miles. Anyone looking for a run family vehicle should really check out the Mazda 5.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mac vs PC power consumption

I bought a new toy. A P3 International P4460 Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor. I want to know how much power various devices use. I am pretty good about turning off power strips and devices when we don't use them. There are some items that stay plugged in all day.

The device arrived today. The first two things I tested were my laptop versus Kelli's current laptop. My computer (Macbook Pro) has a faster dual core processor, faster hard drive and larger LCD screen. One would think mine would be more power hungry.

Below is a photo of what it cost my computer for one year.....$27.19


Now what it cost to run Kelli's laptop for one year.....$56.41


The difference is almost $30!

Both computers were tested in "high power" mode. Crazy.

The device is very user friendly. I am able to set the actual rate per kilowatt that we pay. More test to come.

I'm Dentist told me so!

Me and teeth. I hate bad teeth. I have troubled teeth.

My current dentist is very good. I have been going there for two months and can see a huge difference in my smile and teeth. I had a root canal about a month ago. The procedure took longer than normal. The dentist told me that my tooth had 3 roots (and associated canals) while most people have 1. He thought maybe it was just this one tooth.

Today I was having work done in preparation for a bridge. This involved extracting one tooth. When he extracted it he again saw three distinct canals. They were twisted about the base. Very unusual. From his knowledge less than 2% of the population has more than one root. Having three roots is even more rare. Because of the three roots I have to go to a specialist for my next root canal. Good times.

Citibank. I have 2 credit cards with them. Some time back in 2006 I opened a checking and savings account with them. The only reason I opened the accounts was to get 20,000 bonus American Airlines miles. I put $1 in each account. The accounts were free and had no minimums. The $1 sat in each account for 3 years.

Tonight we had a phone call with a recorded message that our Citibank account had been overdrawn. Kelli used a Citibank credit card to buy her computer. We thought this was the problem. She never uses the card and had already returned two phone calls today verifying that she did indeed use the card and that it was for a computer.

Kelli called the number. Nope not for her credit card, the call was for someone in the house with a Citibank checking/savings

I called the number. Part of the screening process was to enter my ATM/Debit card number. I have no idea what that is....or where it is. I haven't seen it in 3 years! After banging through the options I got an agent with a thick middle eastern accent. Eventually he told me my account went negative due to a $7.50 charge. The account was negative $6.50. Then I was hit with a $39 overdraft fee due to the $7.50 charge. I explained I never use the account and to look at the balance history over the last 3 years....$1. He then let me know that the $7.50 charge was a service fee for not meeting the balance minimums. I then asked how in the heck could a $7.50 fee (that hasn't been charged in the last 3 years) cause a $39 service fee? Yeah. He told me I would need to go online to deposit money. I couldn't go online because I forgot my password. He stated I could reset my password by entering my ATM/Debit card number. I reminded him again I don't have the damn number. Finally I said I wanted the fees removed and the accounts closed. After being on hold for 5 minutes it was done. Bleh.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kelli has finally done it......

The normally quiet and reserved Kelli gets tourette's syndrome nightly while using her computer. She will click on Internet Explorer and start cussing. Nothing else will be open at the time. The computer locks up. She restarts. Same thing. She clicks and finally opens. Kelli is far from a power user. Her computer is just 1 1/2  years old and feels 4 years old. The computer is a dual core 1.5 GHz 4GB machine. I have tried every trick I know to make it faster. Nothing works. I even did a complete re-install of the Operating System. No joy. Tonight Kelli stood up walked to the hallway and drop kicked her laptop. All on video thanks to my camera! CRAZY! Ok so she didn't drop kick the laptop....but she did order a Macbook! [singlepic=314,320,240,,center] I told her the pros and cons of each model. Kelli being Kelli ordered the base model. Apple is like Honda. They have a base model with a lot of  features (LX)  and a nicer model with more features (EX). The basic Macbook has everything Kelli needs and then some. The nicer model adds more power and a back-lit keyboard. I love my back-lit keyboard! Kelli could not justify the extra $300 for the nicer model. [singlepic=316,320,240,,center] Her new Macbook is almost as powerful as my Macbook Pro. She could have purchased a model identical to mine for $100 more, but it is more than she needs. The Macbook is smaller and more travel friendly than my Macbook Pro. Her Macbook should last her many years. In other news...I bought a label maker!


I couldn't pass up the deal at $8.99. Fry's was selling label tape for $20.99!!! I found the same tape on for $10.99 including shipping. Yeah. I always wanted a label maker to print out labels for stuff I might leave behind in the cockpit or airport. Things like my Zune, Camera, Headset, Cell Phone and stuff. On each label I am going to print my name, employee number and phone number. For my Cell Phone I am going to put my home phone.

So far I have Jami (my sister in law) and Kelli on Macs. Next will be my mother in law. She hasn't had a new computer in....I think 6 years! I can't imagine her buying a Macbook....but an Imac would suit her well. The Imacs are all sleek and modern with a built in 20 inch LCD screen.  The keyboard and mouse can be had totally wireless. With the wireless keyboard and mouse option there is just ONE cable coming from the computer....the power cable. Very sexy....just $1100.

If someone told me two years ago I would be a Mac fanatic I would have called them crazy. I used to hate Apple products and swore I would never own one. With that said I don't see myself abandoning my Microsoft Zune for an Ipod anytime soon. Same goes for my phone, the IPhone is just not for me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For the first time in a while....I gotta think

About once a year I used to wipe each computer in the house clean and reinstall the operating system. With the introduction of a Mac into the house, things changed. My desktop has been used very sparingly over the last year. Everything on it is hunky need to mess with it. My server is running just fine....leave it alone. The computer in the bedroom needs a refresh though....that's on the list. The former media center computer is only used once or twice a month as a bit torrent downloader....running fine. Kelli's laptop....ahh...that thing has no hope. All that's left is my Macbook Pro.

I have no idea how to safely backup my Macbook! I have a Time Capsule that keeps backing up constantly in the background. I have restored files from it just fine...but I have no idea after a fresh operating system install. I gotta plan this out.

My Macbook isn't really running slow. A little slower than when I bought it....but pretty quick. I know a reinstall would help things. I really love my Macbook. I have had minimal problems. If Apple made the Ipod as good as my Zune I would switch. My Zune is over a year old now. Running perfectly. I love my $14.99 a month "all you can download" plan. Perfect for me. I have found so many new artist by downloading random stuff. Ipod has no plan like it.

My sister in law Jami had a problem with her Macbook over the weekend. She called AT&T (her ISP) for help as it was an Internet problem. They couldn't help. She called me as I was driving around Salinas. Within 5 minutes I zeroed in on what the problem was. For some reason the WEP password on her router was reset to default. I walked her through deleting the stored network configuration which obviously held the wrong password. I told her to call them back and ask which series of numbers on the side of the router was the password (it's not labeled password!). She called...and worked. It's hard being so amazingly gifted.

Kelli and I are thinking Vegas next month. We wanted to go out of the country, but it's going to cost 1/2 my monthly paycheck just for the tickets (and that's at my discounted rate!). Maybe over summer or in May. Gotta plan it out.

My work schedule is making me lazy. I haven't exercised regularly in a while. Last month I worked more and was sitting around the airport less. This month I leave home at 5:20AM. I sign into work by 6AM. I then sit around the airport till 2PM and then head home. When I get home I am tired from just sitting around and don't exercise. I know I need to. I am hoping to work (well sit around) nights next month. If I get nights then I will exercise in the morning before heading to the airport at 2PM and sitting around till 10PM.

Kelli thought my toe nails were too sharp (scratching her legs I guess?) and decided to do something about it. She spent a good 10 minutes pruning them.


The baby plans are on hold for a bit. See for more.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Getting home

We travel "non-rev" meaning of course non-revenue. We don't get seats until all paying passengers get seats. The flight to San Jose from DFW was pretty full, but we got seats in coach...middle seats...but seats all the same. There are normally 6-7 flights a day between San Jose and DFW. On weekends there are only 3 flights a day. All flights today are full.

So in order for us to get home we have to be flexible. The original plan was to go from San Jose to Chicago to DFW. Then we looked at the flight time. The flight to Chicago is 4 hours 15 minutes. We would then sit in Chicago for 2 hours before flying another 2 1/2 hours to DFW. Yowzers. The advantage is there are a lot of flights from Chicago to DFW so if we were late or something cancelled....we had options.

We ended up flying from San Jose to San Diego to DFW. Both flights were fairly full. Before we left the hotel, the flight from San Diego to DFW was looking like we would get First Class. The price difference isn't much. We normally go for it as we get a meal and a better seat. The meal is worth the price difference as eating a meal in the airport is more than the difference between coach and first. Plus I get Bloody Mary's!

We left the hotel at 9AM. I planned on stopping by a Red Box at a Wal-Mart down the street and then going on to the airport. We had been to the Wal-Mart yesterday. We got there by following a back road as there are very few exits on this highway and NO frontage roads. When we left the Wal-Mart we drove over the highway and eventually back on it. We assumed...well I assumed that if I drove OVER the highway right by the Wal-Mart I should be able to exit off the highway onto the road adjacent to the Wal-Mart. Wrong. I took the exit right before the Wal-Mart....and drove right by. The exit brought me to a different highway. The next exit off that highway was 2 miles down!!!! WTF!?!?!?!? Pissed off I set up the navigation system to take us to the airport. Boo.

We dropped off the rental car (a Chevrolet HHR...which we both kinda liked) and headed to the gate. I wore my uniform and was able to cut in the security line as well as bring all my liquids. Once through I went to the men's room and put on a regular collared shirt and took off my uniform pieces. I don't care to travel in uniform.

The flight to San Diego went fine. The plane parked at a commuter terminal. We then took a bus to the main terminal. Because the bus was outside of the secure zone we had to re-clear security. This could have been a problem as I was out of uniform and had liquids over 3 oz all throughout my bag. I risked it. I gave the TSA agent the secret sign when I put my bag through the scanner. As my bag went through she looked at me...nodded...then I went through the metal detector and flashed my badge. All good.

First class ended up being full. San Diego airport is the most expensive airport I have ever been in! A basic meal at a bar cafe was $30! This was after the waitress giving us an employee discount (I was wearing my badge around my my discount!). We did get seats together near the front of the plane. The flight was fine.

This weekend was fun and relaxing. I can't believe how much we drove. This is the first rental car we have ever needed to truly fill up. We drove over 490 miles! That's almost as much as I drive in a month. Most of that was driving from Salinas to San Francisco and back.

The Monterey Aquarium was hands down the best aquarium we have been to.


We met up with my mother in law, sister in law, my niece and my sister in laws new girlfriend Kelly. We made our way through the aquarium and had fun. My sister in law, Jami, forgot the stroller. My niece Haley did pretty good with all the walking. The lack of stroller would be an issue though. After the aquarium I wanted to eat lunch at a place recommended to me by a Captain I flew with. The restaurant was 1.4 miles away according to my Google map on my phone. I advised everyone of this...and they were okay with walking. Yeah. About 1/2 way they all started complaining. Eventually we made it.


Kelli closed her eyes in both photos I took here...this is the better of the two

I had the best clam chowder of my life. The restaurant was the Old Fisherman's Grotto. The only ones who had seafood were myself, Jami and Kelly. My mother in law and Kelli had "normal" food. Boo them. Afterwards we made the 1.4 mile walk back to the cars. I did however buy a bunch of cotton candy (I love cotton candy!) and loaded up Haley with it. She will soon relate me to sugar....and that's okay with me.


Haley was eating cotton candy while on Jami's shoulders...then putting her sticky hands in Jami's hair...good times!

We said our goodbyes to them and made our way to the Hyatt Place in Fremont. I love the Hyatt Place. Kelli had never been there before. She is a new fan. The rooms are big and very nice. I have stayed in the Hyatt Place at least 15 times over the last year. Each time was in the same hotel. Well that hotel has free beer at a Manager reception every afternoon. I assumed it was a Hyatt Place thing. Nope. Just that one hotel. Oh well. We still really enjoyed the hotel.


Right now we are tired. Next month we are penciling in Vegas maybe. For now...relaxing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Highway 1

Friday morning we hopped in the car and started driving. No real destination. We found highway 1 and started driving north. Highway 1 hugs the entire California coast.

Our first stop was in Santa Cruz. They have a boardwalk there and a big building that said "Casino". We got excited and found a Bank of America for cash. Upon finding the Casino again we realized it was an ARCADE Casino. Not a really Casino. Booo. We did walk down the Wharf to see the ocean and stores. There were some quite vocal sea lions on the side of the pier.


The boardwalk which has an amusement park (which was closed :-( ) can be seen in the background.


Kelli bought some salt water taffy and I bought a huge bag of cotton candy from a store, then we hit the road again. The view of the coast was nice. Many small towns along the way that were very Un-California like.




We did see an interesting lighthouse on the way and stopped to take a few photos. I chose to take photos down the highway from the lighthouse versus right next to it to get a better overall picture.




Along the way we stopped in Half Moon Bay and took a look around. Neat little city. Kelli remembered it from her childhood. She has family just up the highway in another town. Kelli had  bad day with memories as she would say something would be coming up the road that she remembered....but it was never there. Me being me gave her a really hard time on a McDonald's she remembered that never appeared. Every time we passed a McDonald's the rest of the day I would ask if that was the one she was talking about.

Eventually we made it up to San Francisco.


Last time I visited San Francisco was with my in laws. I remembered buying really good bread from a huge cafe and bakery. Kelli had no idea. She called her idea. I used my phone to search for "San Francisco Bread" and found many cafes of that name...NONE located in San Francisco. I finally found the Boudin Bakery. That was it! Using our portable GPS system (a cheap unit hacked to be a TomTom) I found it and then a parking garage



I had Chili in a bread bowl while Kelli had a mini-cheese pizza. The bread was very good as was the chili.

We then walked down the pier shops for a bit. Next time we come I am going to eat at the crab stands. They have fresh steamed crab and the smells are amazing! I know no one in Kelli's family  (well maybe my father in law)  would eat at them.


Kelli bought MORE salt water taffy, some bread from her father (we are meeting up with my mother in law tomorrow) and then we headed back to the car. Below is a photo of us with Alcatraz in the far background.


I parked the car in the Pier 39 parking garage. It's expensive...but in a good location. The first 3 levels we packed very tightly with cars. I would never park my car in any of those spots...door ding city! On level 4 though....wide open.


We then made a 2 hour drive back to Salinas. This time we took the main highway which took us over the bay, through Oakland (which is just as bad as media describes it), Freemont and San Jose again before arriving back in Salinas.

Today we head to Monterey to meet up with my sister in law, niece, mother in law and my sister in laws new girlfriend (who is a red favorite hair color!).

Tomorrow the flights look iffy out of San Jose. We might have to fly from San Jose to Chicago and then Chicago to Dallas. Only good thing. First Class is open both flights. The flights from San Jose to Dallas are very full. The flights from San Jose to Los Angeles are very full. We could fly to Santa Ana (Orange County) and then Dallas. Maybe.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Vacationing on the cheap

Taking a vacation doesn't have to cost a lot of money. Kelli and I have become travel pro's. For years we have been collecting points via our credit cards. We used to do airline miles. Now we do hotel points. We each have a Holiday Inn card, a Capital One No Hassle Rewards card and I have a Starwood Preferred American Express. Kelli also uses her United airlines card as the points can be used for anything.

This weekend we are staying in two different hotels. The first two nights we are in a Holiday Inn Express (one of our top 5 hotels) and the third night we are in The Hyatt Place (one of my top 3 hotels). The Holiday Inn Express hotel is in Salinas, California. We wanted to stay in Monterey, but the prices and points required were much higher. The Holiday Inn Express in Salinas is only 3 months old. For some reason they have reward nights available for 5000 points per night. Most hotels are 25000 points per night (that's what was required in Monterey). On the third night we are using Kelli's United points to pay for the Hyatt Place.

Our rental car was super cheap. Alamo has a $10 a day sale going on from many airports. Each hotel has a set allotment of $10 a day sales. The Monterey airport was sold out. The cost would have been $160 for the three days. The San Jose airport still had the deal available. Total cost was $42 (I picked a mid-size at $14 a day versus a compact at $10 a day) plus taxes and fees for a total cost of $61. We could use points from Capital One to pay for it....but at such a low cost it would be a waste of points.

Airfare. Well this is where we have a huge advantage as I work for an airline. For most people though it is best to track the airfare for a week or so to get an idea on what the best price is. Airfares do change daily and sometimes hourly. Before I worked for an airline I found the lowest fares on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with the highest fares on weekends (when people are home looking for a deal). It's best to get the reward miles from the airline  versus using a credit card to get miles. On a typical vacation one will spend much more on the hotel than the airfare to get to the hotel.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Being able to see outside is important for pilots. Many years ago one had to have perfect vision to be a pilot. Since then the standards have been relaxed. I have been wearing glasses/contacts for almost 20 years. I recently visited First Eye care of Bedford for an annual eye exam. I have been using this office for a few years. Being a computer guy I know I can almost always get a better deal on contacts by buying online versus at the Doctors office. This year due to a mistake by my Doctor, the choice to buy online is going to delay the shipment of my contacts...which will mean I need a backup plan in order to be legal to fly. Most of the time my backup plan is a spare set of contacts above and beyond what I need for my trip. Now I will have to get a pair of glasses to wear.

I am one who will admit when I am wrong or make a mistake. I am also one who has no issues about letting others know when they make a mistake, especially when the mistake causes stress on me. I sent the following Fax to my Doctor this morning.

I have been using First Eye Care Bedford for the last few years to take care of my eyes. My profession as a pilot demands good vision and accurate decisions. My most recent visit to First Eye Care visit will be my last. The customer service has fallen dramatically since my visit last year. The first problem was the new Glaucoma scan for $39. I was screened by the new computer and had the results on the computer next to my chair. The only way I was told was if I paid $39. Why test me before knowing if I wanted them that way versus the old fashioned way? On my way out I advised the staff I would buy my contacts online. In past years I was ALWAYS given the rebate form by your office regardless of where I purchased my contacts. On my most recent visit I was told I could only have the rebate form if I bought them through your office. The last straw was my prescription. The doctor told me my left eye was going to be -1.75 (for the last 5+ years it has been -2.00) . On my prescription form SIGNED by the doctor it states my previous -2.00. I used this legal prescription to order contacts and was told by the company that I made a mistake which will delay my order. The mistake was made by the staff and doctor, not me. I will now have to make backup plans for the safety of my passengers and crew as I will be without contacts for longer than I planned.
I will now make a trip to Wal-Mart to buy a pair of glasses to use for the next few days. I would rather spend the $100 on something else.....but a man's gotta be able to see.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Teasing the dog

I love to tease the dogs. Lilo goes nuts over Orange peels I had a jumbo orange and left the peels on a plate next to my chair. It drove her nuts to know they were sitting there. I watched her for about 20 minutes. Sitting next to them....eyeing them.....then when Kelli left the couch and I looked away...Lilo stole one! I took it back and gave one to Vegas and one to Doogie. This drove Lilo nuts. This video shows how crazy Lilo can be. She is normally a very docile dog...very little action.


For once...I am not the one in limbo

Most of the time my schedule is in limbo. Most months I only know which days I am working...rarely what times. This month I know I work 6AM-2PM 19 days of the month. I have off Thursday thru Sunday. I am hoping to go out of town with Kelli to California. When we up to Kelli. She may or may not have to testify Friday in Los Angeles. She thought she would know for sure tonight....still no word. If she doesn't have to testify then we will leave Thursday morning. If she does have to testify...then we will both arrive in San Jose, California somehow.

New site design. The image at the top will randomly change on each page load. It's the same image with 3 different photoshoped images and one normal image. Overtime there will be more and more images....maybe even color.

I will be 32 next month. Wow.

I flew with a Captain today that will have been married 30 years this summer. He is a great guy and has a sense of humor similar to mine. Each time I fly with him, about once a month or so, he let's me know how his crazy wife and kids are driving him crazy. The latest is how his wife lets his 16 year old daughters boyfriend come over often. The boyfriend is 22 years old! Being a pilot he is gone often. He commutes to DFW from San Francisco. His wife doesn't listen to him in that he doesn't want the 22 year old around. One night last week he heard his dogs barking at 8AM. He looked outside to see the boyfriend hoping his fence. Hmmm and I want a kid?

I am still holding firm to no kid of mine being born in November/December. It's just not fair. No one...and I have been asking around...born in those months likes being born in that month.  Speaking of kiddos....Kelli has actually been updating both and!

When I decided to be a pilot Kelli and I took on a huge the tune of $59,000. Yeah. The loan was for 15 years with a variable non-tax deductible interest rate. Payments were supposed to be $560 a month or so. So far the loan has been paid down to $39K. This is a huge feat as the interest rate has been as high as 9.5% and started the day I first started training back in May 2006. Right now the rate is 5.75%. A good chunk of the money used to pay off the loan has come from my in laws. Hopefully with me paying everything I can per month and the help it can be paid off by the end of 2010. Around that point...pending any home improvements and possible offspring....we will only have our house and my car in our debt pile. I can't imagine how other pilots are paying back the loan on their own. I pulled down a whopping $27K last year before taxes. Paying $560 a month amounts to a little less than 1/4 of the pretax income. Ouch.

For now....I wait for Kelli to hear from the Los Angeles District Attorney.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I'm just not that into this movie

We say He's Just Not That Into You today. Wow. I like chick flicks. One of my top movie's is a chick flick, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindHe's Just Not That Into You tried way to hard to be an interesting movie. There were plent of stars in the movie....I love Drew Berrymore, Jennifer Connelly and Scarlett Johansson....but not in this movie. Bad. Just bad.

Kelli updated with what she has to do in order for us to produce an offspring. I'm still not with the idea of a child having a birthday in November/December. So yeah.

My brother in law is still considering moving to North Texas. I emailed him a bunch of data on wages and the hiring status of Police Departments in the area. He assumed (like many do who aren't from around here) that Dallas is the only city around here. There are many nicer and safer cities around here including good ol' Euless. Surprisingly the Euless Police Department pays more than Dallas for cops.....almost $50K the first year! Wow.

We are really digging Blue-ray movies. The detail is incredible. I also like HD-DVD's. True HD-DVD lost the battle...but the movies are just as nice as Blue-ray...and super cheap. I have been buying a few from Fry's and Amazon for $5 a piece.

Looks like we might go to Monterrey, California next week. Kelli might have to testify in Los Angeles on Thursday or Friday. She gets a "real" ticket to LA and back. She is hoping the District Attorney can fly her out on Thursday morning, that way I can fly standby on the same flight and we can have a day in Los Angeles seeing the sights. Then she will testify Thursday or Friday. After she testifies we will fly standby to San Jose, California and pick up a rental car from Alamo for literally $10 a day. We will then drive to Monterrey. Should be fun. There is a really nice aquarium Kelli wants to see there. If everything works out then on Sunday Kelli will fly back to Dallas on her "real" ticket and I will fly standby.

If everything doesn't work out....well we are still working on a backup plan.

I'm glad we are both flexible.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Getting out of town

The stars aligned yesterday. I was able to get off the 12th thru 15th. I did this by moving around my work days. I get 11 days off a month minimum. I moved my work days around to get off the 12th thru 15th. This means I will work 12 of the last 13 days of the month with only one day off. Gotta pay the piper.

Where will we go? I mentioned a few places to Kelli; Cancun, Seattle, Portland and somewhere in California. She only picked up on California. Right now I am looking into flying into San Jose, California, driving to Monterrey, California to visit the aquarium. After staying the night, driving up to Sacramento for a day or two and then leaving out of Sacramento or San Francisco. Only problem...rental cars. If we returned the car to San cost is $59! If we return elsewhere...between $150-$300! The drive from San Jose to Sacramento is 3 hours long. Yeah. I haven't driven that far in a long time. Who knows. We could take a cruise.

Flew to Pittsburgh and back last night on overtime. I flew with Mr. Non-Personality. I get along with just about anybody. This guy was a brick wall. Conversation beyond what was required for flight wasn't there. He made a bad attempt at a joke right before we got back to DFW...took me by surprise. Oh well...It was almost 6 hours of easy overtime. I will do the same trip next Wednesday.

Kelli hasn't cracked on getting a new laptop yet.

I might change up the look of this site today.

Kelli's T-Mobile G1 got the latest update last night. Lots of improvements she will never use...but I will! I haven't been offered the update yet. No way to force it. It's kinda like the price is have to wait your turn. I could download it on my laptop then transfer it over. Bleh.

Off today. Gonna clean up the house and wash my car.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Man Vs. Food

Kelli and I love a TV show on the Travel Channel called Man vs. Food (click here for the official website). The host travels the country eating all kinds of interesting foods. Many places have eating challenges he takes on. Kelli and I have plans on visiting many of them.

I am working on getting Presidents day weekend off. I tried last week....and was denied. I looked at the flight schedules and pilot availability for that weekend and the airline is well staffed. If I can get that weekend off Kelli and I might head up to Oregon. We have used my flight benefits to visit Sacramento and New York (where my sister in law and brother in law live respectively.) We haven't been to Oregon in a long time. I think Kelli flew up there once using my benefits. I haven't been since my brother in laws wedding.

If we do go to Oregon, we will fly into Portland. If we do fly into Portland I would like to eat lunch/dinner at Salvador Molly's. They were just featured on Man vs. Food and have the hottest fritters in the world. The challenge is to eat 5 balls of fire which consist of habanero peppers and cheese along with a habanero salsa. Afterwards I will cry in pain for an hour or so...which is about how long it takes to drive from Portland to Albany, Oregon where my in laws live.

Dinner in a gas station

Kelli and I were the first to arrive last is almost always the case. We grabbed the last big table and waited for the rest of the party to arrive. Two of the group were going to be very late. Kelli and I were very hungry so I ordered an appetizer. Escargot.


This was a very tasty and well presented dish. I haven't had escargot in years and I forgot how great it is. Kelli....well she ate some bread.

For my main meal I had Chicken Scaloppini. This was very flavorful dish and the sauce was a little rich for me. I couldn't finish the whole thing.


I also enjoyed a bowl of Fishermen's Stew....pretty good overall....a bit too salty.  Kelli had a Cheeseburger and fries for dinner. Kelli likes what Kelli likes. She has a much smaller range of food that she likes compared to me. The menu was full of awesome dishes....I would have tried them all. Kelli...nah....Cheeseburger and Fries. She ordered it well done...which might have been the reason her food arrived 3 to 4 minutes after everyone else's.


For dessert we had Bread Pudding. I love Bread Pudding. It's one of my top 3 desserts to order at a nice restaurant. The Bread Pudding last night was kind of a let down. The dish seemed over done and dried out. The sauce was okay but couldn't help the dryness of the Bread.


We really enjoyed the experience overall. I didn't see a single person buy gas at the gas pumps right outside the window. I am sure we will return. It is a bit of a drive to get there though.

The people we met last night were two former co-workers and their husbands. One of them, Wendy, recently let us know she is preggo and will be having her first baby in June. We used to meet up with them once or twice a month. Before last night we had not seen them in almost 5 months. Seeing that they all live within 10 miles....there really is no excuse for such long periods of absence. We will have to work on that.

Albertson's grocery store is where I like to shop every now and then. They have really good sales and I only buy what is on sale for stuff I need/use. I have noticed that many perishable items are near expiration date when they go on sale. I have to be very careful. This morning I bought two 1/2 gallons of Schepps Dairy milk for $1 a piece....not to shabby. This is where I bought all my boxes of Captain Crunch cereal for just $1.58 a piece. I need more. That stuff is like crack.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Getting the shakedown at the eye doctor

I wear contacts...I started wearing glasses starting around age 12....about a year after I got my first computer.

After about 4 years of glasses I swtiched to monthly contacts. I started wearing daily contacts last year. Daily contacts are much easier to travel with and wear than monthly disposables. By some silly law eye doctors can only prescribe contacts for one year at a time. This is annoying. My prescription hasn't changed in these yearly visits are a waste of my money. I need them, so I go.

The doctor I used the last two years has moved on. She was really nice and I liked the way she treated me. I still went to the same office, First Eye Care of Bedford. Every time I go there they have some new gizmo. This year it's a big fancy computer that can diagnose eye problems not visible to the naked eye. In the past the doctor would dialate a patients eyes and then look inside. With this big fancy computer....that's no longer needed. Of course if you want to use the big fancy computer it cost an extra $39!

I arrived early as always and was taken back for the normal test. During the test I was pushed up to this big fancy new computer and photos of the back of my eye are taken. Hmmm...interesting as I was never asked if I wantedt this test.

The rest of the exam is normal. My eyes haven't changed...the left one actually improved slightly. At the end of the exam I get the sales pitch. To make sure I don't go blind I could either:

A:) Get my eye's dialated and the Doctor would do her best to see if I have any eye problems (glaucoma and such). There could be parts of the eye not visible to her. Additionally I would have to leave the office with those big sunglasses on to protect my eyes.

B:) Not have my eyes dialated and the Doctor would examine the photos of the back parts of my eyes that give a much clearer picture and deeper picture than can be seen with dialation.

I chose B. Here is peak of the shakedown. The photos had been sitting on the monitor sitting next to me the entire time. She just double clicked on them to englarge them. She then gave a 2 minutes speel on each eye saying they were healthy. All that for $39.  Scam.

On the way out I asked how much a years worth of contacts would cost. Total $340-$70 rebate so $270. I asked if I could have the rebate form seperately and was told "it's only good if you buy from us". I have my doubts. The last two years I bought my contacts online and was given the rebate form without a problem. I don't think I will go back to this office.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The other woman in my bedroom

When Kelli leaves in the morning another woman enters the bedroom. That woman is Robin Meade.


Robin Meade is the most popular news anchor on Headline News. Seeing her face on the TV and hearing her voice makes me day start perfectly. She is not only smart, funny and witty.....but pretty as well.

So I am not the only webmaster who tracks visitors. The owners of Chefs Point commented on my blog from yesterday. They found my site by looking at the stats for their site. Like me, they can track where visitors are coming from and what they click on. I was surprised to see that my flying blog site gets 75-100 unique visitors a day...more than 3X the visitors this site gets. I was only able to accurate stats for my aviation blog after switching the software to Wordpress...the same software that is used on this site.

I think Kelli's HP laptop days as her main computer are numbered. The computer is only 1 1/2 years old..but it is sooo slow. I upped the RAM to 4GB, removed all the fancy Windows Vista graphics, reduced the start up programs to bare minimum, defragmented the hard drive and more......but many times it takes one to two minutes to open a web page or open a program. The only thing that really improves performance is to run the computer in 'high performance' mode....which shouldn't be required. I am betting Kelli will order a Macbook within 3 months.

Taxes. We haven't filed yet. I am still waiting on two 1099's from side jobs I had last year. In addition to flying for American Eagle Airlines, I also worked at my former flight school and an online company. I put money aside to cover the taxes that were not taken out when I worked at Airline Transport Professionals. Kelli and I both had taxes taken out of our paychecks at the single rate, which is a higher rate than the married rate. We should be getting back a good chunk of change.

Kelli just texted me that her bother, Kevin, is coming to Dallas to take the Dallas Police Department exam next month! He is currently working for the NYPD. The Dallas Police Department pays more than the NYPD while the real estate is much cheaper than New York. Kevin's wife is finishing nursing school in May/June. She can get a job anywhere as a nurse. There are a ton of public and private hospitals in the DFW area. If they move here it would help put another tick in the "maybe we will have a baby" column as we will have free babysitting. Oh yeah....a little news on that front...check for more.

I have the day off today. This morning I will be getting my annual eye exam and getting a crown installed. I am getting crowned for my work helping the under-privileged geeks of Guantanamo Bay. Hmmm yeah. Ok I am getting a crown on a tooth.

Never stop learning

I am a sponge for knowledge....well only stuff that is interesting. I could care less about who settled in the plains of south American 2000 years ago or about Tiger Sharks (although I will look at a Tiger Shark and says "ok"). I can never read enough about the history of airplanes, cars and computers.

Sitting in Pittsburgh Saturday night I was hungry. I wanted a warm meal. My choices were get dressed and hop in the hotel van to find food or figure out how to cook a Healthy Choice Steamer without a microwave. The only tool I had in the room was a coffee maker.

The normal instructions are to add water to the pasta, cook for four minutes, cook the sauce for 4 minutes and then combine it all. I cleaned the coffee pot and then brewed hot water. I poured the right amount of water into the pasta container then dumped the remaining water. I then poured the pasta and water into the coffee pot and put it back on the hot plate to "cook" for 4 minutes. I then drained the water and put it back in the dish.

Getting the sauce warm was a bigger challenge. I tried to let it sit in a coffee pot of hot water....didn't work. I then decided to dump all the water and put the sauce and pasta into coffee pot together. After 5 minutes on the hot was ready. Nice warm meal!

Tomorrow Kelli and I are going to a new restaurant with some friends of ours. The name of the place is Chefs Point Cafe. Until right now I never looked it up. The friend that suggested it is a former work friend of mine who I assume has good taste. I just Goolged Chefs Point Cafe and the only listing coming up in the DFW Metroplex is at a Conoco Gas Station!


The slogan is "White Tablecloth Dining Without The Tablecloth". This should be interesting. The website is I should have done a little research. The menu looks interesting. We will see.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Blogs have been around for hundreds of years...probably thousands...maybe millions. Until the last 10 years or so they were private...and known by a different name....diaries.

My blogs are just a record of all the random crap that flows through my head. Actually just small portion of what flows through my head (prolly a good thing!). On occasion I make people upset. Mostly Kelli. It took her a while to accept that I don't censor myself much. I mean what I say/think/write about. I am sorry if it bothers her. Not going to change the fact on how I feel. Whenever she gets upset I ask her jokingly "How did you find that out?" or "Why are you reading my website? That's private!" The fact that I upset her (sometimes enough that I sleep with one eye open.....ha!) doesn't change the fact that we are married and will continue to be until she kills me, the dogs are trained to kill me, I die of "natural causes" or I have a bad day that order.

Why do I blog? Because I am the most interesting person on earth and feel everyone else should be able to experience all that is Darren. Stop laughing....I'm serious!

I renovated flying blog. It's all new and fancy. It "feels" a lot like this site does. I like Wordpress blogging software much more than Lifetype  Go check it's a beautiful thing now.

I'm tired. Woke at 3:30AM Dallas time to start my day. The Captain I am flying with is the most junior Captain at DFW (like I am the most Junior First Officer at DFW) and thus we will by flying a lot together. Thankfully she is a very nice lady and a great Captain. This morning I knew we would be early getting back to DFW. I was hoping to go home right away. Nope. We will be working until at least 4PM....more likely 5PM. This will mean a very long...tiring work day. We started our workday officially at 4:15AM Dallas time. We can't work past 6:15PM. Wherever we are at 6:15PM is where we will be until tomorrow. Right now that will hopefully by home....but might be Arkansas. Booo.