Thursday, April 30, 2009
This morning Kelli's phone suddenly stopped working. This was minutes after I got a phone call about the T-Mobile Cameo picture frame issue I am having. Kelli tried resetting the phone. No luck.
There are a few things you don't mess with. You don't mess with my electronics and more importantly you don't mess with my wife. Today T-Mobile did both!
I called support for Kelli as she was at work and I was certain the problem wasn't with her phone. Round and round we went. They kept asking me too call back when I had the phone in my hand. I asked why? "Well to troubleshoot." I asked what they wanted in the way of troubleshooting that hasn't already been done (Kelli knows basic troubleshooting and she had already done it). After a few more rounds they said her SIM card had gone....wait for it......BAD. This lit a fire under me big time.
I asked how it had gone bad. The agent said that SIM cards only last 12 to 18 months. I stated my SIM card was over 4 years old while hers was just under 3 years old. Hmmm NEXT. Well a lot of texting and data can cause it to go bad. I send and recieve many more text messages and TONS more data than Kelli. NEXT. If the phone is just left ON for a long period of time it can cause the SIM card to go bad. Really? I asked if I could stock up on SIM cards if that was the case because my phone is never turned off. He got quiet. I mentioned several times that I didn't buy the coincidence that her phone stopped working MINUTES after T-Mobile called me about the Cameo picture frame issue.
They weren't going to let go on the 'BAD' SIM card idea. I asked if they could simply reset the SIM card entry on the account as that's what would happen if a new SIM card were acquired. Kelli was getting an error that her SIM card was not allowed to join the network. I figured something was blocking her card from being accepted. By resetting the number on the account it would likely reset and allow her card to join. He said he can't add a SIM card number that's not on the network. Hmmm but her card wasn't on the network. It's the same (in my head) as a card that is sitting in a plastic box down at the T-Mobile store. For whatever reason he wouldn't budge.
I ran down to the T-Mobile store for a SIM card. I asked the representative how often SIM cards go 'bad'. He looked at me like I was nuts. He stated SIM cards don't go 'bad' and that he has never seen a 'bad' SIM card that wasn't physically damaged. He admitted that the new card would fix the problem only because it would RESET the account permissions which is something support should have been able to do. Nice.
I left and drove to Kelli's work. On the way I tested the SIM card in my old phone. Worked fine. I put it in Kelli's phone...back in business. Most importantly Kelli is back in business. I am still very pissed that this whole thing happened in the first place.
Just kidding. I see this commercial everyday and couldn't find it online so I whipped out our new Flip Video camera and recorded it myself.
On a totally unrelated note, a photo I took while at the Monterey Aquarium was selected to be in some kind of Monterey and Carmel Guide. It's the first photo to load and I was given credit! Click the link below.
We are going to Portland in May. As of now we are planning on flying back on the same flight at my mother in law. With so much advanced notice we can do so many things. Kelli made a reservation with the pet sitter (who is likely just as shocked as she normally gets a few days notice). I made a killer deal on a rental car with Alamo. They have the $10 a day special running again. The $10 car is a compact, for $4 more a day I reserved a mid-size. Alamo/National is the chain we rent from most often. The Mid-size category has a ton of options compared to the other categories.
Anyone who has a week off starting May 3rd can get a killer deal on a 7 day cruise. Due to the H1N1 virus (I refuse to use the other term!). Carnival cancelled one of the Los Angeles to Mexico cruises and instead created a Los Angeles to Canada Cruise.
Here is the deal!
7-night Pacific Coast/Canada – Los Angeles (Long Beach) round-trip
● May 3, In/Out/Bal/Dlx $159/179/199/699 (3rd/4th $159)
[Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fun Day at Sea, Victoria, Vancouver, 2 Fun Days at Sea, Los Angeles]
If we had time off we could jump on this. A 7 day cruise for $159 a person!!!! Heck for just $199 a person we could get a balcony room! Nutty! One day when we are old (like 38) we will be cruise people.
Still wanting a slot machine. I found an awesome forum about them. I forsee myself having a couple of slot machines. Kelli has dogs. I will have slot machines.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
In preparation for the arrival of my mother in law (and because it needed it), I began cleaning my office. I filled two giant lawn garbage bags with cables, CDs (many over 10 years old and deteriorating!) and more. I also picked up the living room area.
Last week I sent a hard drive back to the manufacturer for replacement. It was inside a Buffalo external hard drive case. The new drive arrived yesterday (Samsung has crazy fast warranty returns!). Now sometime during my cleaning I moved the external hard drive case! I know right where it was when I took the drive out. No longer there. If I had no cleaned it would still be there. Cleaning is bad.
The H1N1 virus is out of control. The government has asked media outlets to STOP using "Swine Flu" to help avoid public panic over pork products. The extreme majority of news outlets are still using Swine Flu.
Last night the Fort Worth ISD decided to cancel all classes until May 11th! In addition they advised parents to not send kids to daycare and to keep them away from other kids. WTF?!?!!? How can any parent in this economy STOP working for over a week! With just a few hours notice! Any parent that has a kid age 5-15 (about the cutoff age for leaving a kid home alone IMHO) has to find someone to watch their kid for the next 12 days! I find this totally irresponsible on the part of Fort Worth ISD. This economy is already hurting. Many families are barely making it. Requiring them to NOT work (or pay for unexpected daycare) is going to make things worse. I suspect many lower to middle class families are simply going to leave younger kids home alone as they have no choice. I am sure there will be stories on TV about 7 year olds getting injured (or worse) while home alone over the next 12 days.
This H1N1 virus is being blown out of proportion. THE REAL FLU IS WORSE!
Slot Machines. Still looking. Might buy a slightly older model for my 1st machine...we will see.
Those Macbook Air's are sexy little thangs. I will be buying one NEXT year as the current model is more to my liking (faster CPU, bigger hard drive and better graphics chip).
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I was looking at going to Japan a few weeks ago. I found a very inexpensive, but nice hotel. The hotel (Sakura Hotel Jimbocho) cost about $90 a night. The rooms are clean and contemporary. Included in the price is Internet access and a basic breakfast. The hotel is very close to the subway. Oh yeah the restrooms are community style. Yeah that's where Kelli put the hammer down. I think it's a nice hotel that's kinda sorta a hostel. Bleh.
I have since found hotels with private restrooms for a little over $100 a night. Fine. I am probably going to rebid my vacation to cover the week we want to go. The Tokyo Motor Show for the public last October 24th thru November 4th. I think we will go for 4 to 5 days. We lose a day going there (as we arrive the next calendar day) but we hold on to a day coming back (as we come back on the same calendar day).
My brother in law is going to have another kiddo. Seems they got preggo by accident (again) 12 weeks ago....which is about the time we were in Disneyworld. This news lit a fire under Kelli. We discussed our situation. We will likely try again sometime AFTER going to Japan. We don't want to get SARS or any other Japanese disease while traveling. Close your mouth...I was kidding about the last part, but we are going to wait until AFTER Japan.
A slot machine is definitely in my future. This idea makes Kelli get that "hmm you really are serious face". I have done a ton of research. I know which model I want. I am going to get an IGT (the biggest slot machine maker in the United States) S-2000 slot machine. Through my research I found out that changing a slot machine theme/game is pretty easy. There are a lot of businesses selling slot machines. Some buy them used and simply resell them. Others buy them used, refurbish them (replacing the glass, buttons and reels) and then resell them. The refurbished machines are cleaner and have a much less smokey smell. Most of the businesses that sell slot machines are in Ohio or Arizona. I am going to fly out to Arizona sometime soon and check out the machines. Right now I am looking at Az Slots and Rocky Mountain Slots.
Selling our used washer and dryer is a chore. Craigslist has so many flakey people. I have had a ton of emails. I return them all. Then nothing. One guy did drive out from Weatherford yesterday (a good 50 mile drive!). Once he got here he changed his mind. He thought they were newer. The ad clearly states they are 8 years old (but don't look it!). I just want them gone!
May could a really boring month for me or really busy. Of the first 13 days of the month I work 12 of them. I work 6 on, 1 off and then 6 on. I did this to myself in order to get a week off later in the month. I really enjoy the flexibility of my job. Rather than work Monday-Friday like most people, I can move my days around to suit what I want. The only rule is I can't work more than 6 days in a row. It's extremely easy to go on vacation without burning vacation days.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The catch? Well it's in Japan. I told Kelli about it. She's all in. She's even willing to move! By comparison if everything goes perfectly I wouldn't be making that much money here for at least another 7 years.
Of course we aren't moving right away. I need a few more hours in the cockpit to qualify....but it's in the plan....in pencil...not pen...but in there.
Kelli is having skin problems. Her sun burn has caused her skin to peel. First it was her legs. Now it's her arms. She can't go into the lab today as her skin could peel off and contaminate DNA samples. Ooops.
I am glad Kelli is learning Japanese. I might dip my toes in as well.
I found a job posting for pilots in Japan. First Officer salary is over $90K a year, they pay for business class tickets to commute home each month and more. I don't qualify now, but will within 18 months. Just an option.
Next month I have been able to move around my schedule enough to get Memorial Day weekend off and more. I just need to finagle the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.
Kelli and I both have at least 2 months pay stored away for a rainy day. I like peace of mind. Kelli mentioned how she loves not having a car payment. I don't know what that's like. My first two cars I owned were both paid for by cash from my mom. Ever since then I have had a car payment. I have been close to paying off a car....but always traded it in. We are in preliminary discussions on what to do March 31, 2011....when my car is scheduled to go back.
Our friend Angela might do good with leasing. She is pondering trading in her 3 year old Honda CRV. Kinda like leasing...but without the added protection of a gauranteed trade in value. Just a thought there Angela. I use leasecompare.com to get a ballpark on what lease payments should be on various cars.
What to do for lunch?
Sunday, April 26, 2009
A quick Google search on my phone found out it is a translator from Japanese to English. I figured it would be easy to go English to Japanese. Nope.
I can type a word in English and can only assume what I see to the side is the Japanese equivalent. The unit sells for over $450 on eBay...so I got a good deal.
There is a mini-USB connection on the side. I connected it to my computer, and Windows XP tries to install a driver. Gotta do more research.
Kelli is learning Japanese.
We took a trip (and it is a TRIP) to Wylie last night to visit Eric and Angela and Marin. Hmmm probably should have used a comma somewhere in there. We ate dinner at a resturant and then played Scene It! on XBOX. I beat Kelli AGAIN. Marin was very quiet. This was probably due to use being "new". Kelli tripping Marin and making her cry didn't help.
I'm hoping to get Memorial Day weekend off next month.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Aside from the fact that I was born and where my parents moved (I had no choice in the matter), the pivotal point that I can think of occurred in 8 th grade.
I was VERY introverted prior to going to college. Outside of school I spent a lot of time in front a computer alone. I was happy even though it sounds sad. Anyways in 8th grade I met a girl named Beth Dusesoi. She wasn't "popular" because she looked "different". She was very thin, pale and had some kind of physical issue with her eyes (slightly cross-eyed). She was nice and we got along great.
Through Beth Dusesoi I met Khristi Hinton and Katy Fernie. I didn't talk to them much though. In 9th grade Beth and I were really good friends and I talked to Katy and Khristi a little more. In 10th grade Katy became Editor in Chief of the Cypress Falls High School newspaper. The school was brand new and only started with 9th and 10th grade students. My dad had a really nice Canon SLR (Single Lens Reflex....AKA not a point and shoot) camera. Katy asked if I wanted to be a photographer...I agreed. I became the Chief Photographer of the paper and held that title throughout High School. Katy and I would grow to become best friends and my friendship with Beth became distant. Beth would later drop out of school.
We shared a room with the yearbook staff. A girl named Katrina Brown was the Chief Photographer and Emily Wallwin was the Editor in Chief. Katrina and I spent a good amount of time together as we were both covering similar events and were in charge of our publications pictures. She was one year behind me in 9th grade. I had known of Emily prior to joining the newspaper staff. She was in the same grade and went to the same schools I did since Junior High....I think even since Elementary.
My interest in Photography was just as high as my interest in computers. I had an awesome Newspaper teacher named Mrs. Nancy Easterling. She was a teacher and a mentor. She really helped me out during my high school years. I admired her so much I decided I wanted to be a Yearbook/Newspaper teacher as well.
As high school came to a close I applied to only one college, Texas Tech University. The reason being Katy was going there and she was my best friend. I got accepted. Emily applied and was accepted to Stephen F. Austin State University.
My first year in college was interesting. I had a great time. I majored in Photojournalism. My friendship with Katy waned. Emily and I started talking more (still don't remember how it started). After my first year I decided to leave Texas Tech and transfer to Stephen F. Austin (SFA). The summer prior Emily and I started dating.
Emily was a resident assistant at SFA. I applied to be one as well. I didn't know many people besides Emily. During training to be a resident assistant a very large guy named Larry Campbell talked to me about his Fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu. I never thought I would be a "frat guy". I ended up pledging and joining his Fraternity.
Being in Fraternity really brought me out of my shell. I had an awesome pledge class. I still regularly talk to one of my pledge brothers today. I see most of my brothers once a year at a wedding or an event.
My relationship with Emily waned toward the end of the second semester. At the end of the relationship (the first time) there were police involved. We had a "discussion" in my dorm room. No need to go into details, but lets just stay she had to buy me some new stuff for my dorm room.
I went home that summer and hung out with Katrina. She would end up coming to SFA the following Fall. We hung out quite a bit. That fall I spent a lot of time at the Fraternity house. One night I met a woman fresh off the farm. She was 18 and it was her first time away from home. Her name was Stephanie Holcomb. We started dating and moved in together soon after.
Over the next 3 1/2 years we dated and had a great time. Stephanie didn't care for me having a woman best friend (Katrina). I made the mistake of letting her control who my friends were and ended my friendship with Katrina. Stephanie and I almost got married prior to being engaged. While in Las Vegas on vacation with my mom we wanted to get married. The only thing that stopped us was we didn't have enough money for the license and rings. We would later get engaged for real in early 2000.
I graduated in May 2000 with a BA in Photojournalism (with a double major in Sociology and most of the credits required to be a teacher). After college I moved to Houston into one of the houses my mom owned. The date was July 3, 2000. While driving to the house, Stephanie and I passed my mom who was driving the other direction. It was the last time I would see my mom alive, she died later that night.
Stephanie graduated in August (it took her just 3 years and one summer) and moved in with me. I had a very high paying job at Time Warner Cable in the high speed Internet department. We had both planned on working for my mom after college. Instead we had to get our own jobs. The relationship began going down hill. By the end of 2000 we were barely hanging on.
March 2001 was the end. Stephanie's mom never really liked me (I wasn't the "right' skin color). Throughout our relationship she hinted and pressured Stephanie to leave. In the middle of March her mom came down and moved her daughter back to the Dallas area. A month later I would end up getting a job in the Dallas area as well. My "plan" was to move up to the Dallas area and try to rebuild our relationship. It never worked.
I found Katrina was also in the Dallas area. We became friends again. One day I told her to find me a girlfriend (she had been in the Dallas area for about a year at the time). One day she kept calling me and asking these odd questions. Finally she called and told me she set up a Match.com ad for me. I didn't get the password right away; she was going to screen women for me.
Eventually I got the password. I emailed one woman a few times before meeting up for dinner. It was our first time meeting anyone online. She was nice....but not for me. After that meeting another woman contacted me. After a few emails we agreed to meet for dinner and then go out.
I remember sitting and waiting for her to arrive. From her photo she looked REALLY young. When she arrived I got worried. Here was this short, blonde lady wearing a pink t-shirt, tan shorts, sandals wearing her hair in a ponytail. She looked 15 years old. Not good.
While talking the topic of age came up. I asked again if she was really 23. She said yes. I asked to see her ID. She didn't have one. Her story was she just moved from California and the state took her California drivers license. She then lost the temporary paper license. Nice.
This woman of course is Kelli. This June will mark our 7th year together. The best I can trace back we only met due to me being friends with Beth Dusesoi. I have only seen Beth Dusesoi one time since high school. While at a club one summer I passed her on my way out. We talked for a few minutes and she gave me her phone number. I lost it by accident. No word or sighting since.
Of course there were thousands of choices I made between 8th grade and now that could have altered the course of my life. One big choose your own adventure. Unlike the books I used to read, I have no desire to go back and change anything I have done.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Last week I broke the dryer after I overloaded it with towels. There was a burning smell and it stopped working. Thankfully it's under warranty until next month.
The repairman came last week. He diagnosed it as a bad controller board. I was pretty sure it was a motor issue (burning smell and all).
He came back today, installed the controller board...no dice. After calling tech support he took off the top and saw a broken belt. Thankfully he had one in the truck. Once he came back in he found a broken pulley. He asked what I was drying. I stated "a normal load...why?" He had never seen a broken pulley in the last 10 years. Hmmm yeah.
There was no pulley on his truck. He said he would be back this evening. A few hours later...dryer is fixed. We now have a new blower motor, pulley and controller board. No more towel drying for me.
I am not buying a slot machine. Kelli is going to buy one for me! It's a late birthday gift.
We discussed the off spring thing this evening. No changes.
I waxed my car today....looks awesome.
Tomorrow I go back to work....I work the next 6 days....the price I pay for having a week off.
I think Kelli and I will go to Tokyo in October for the largest Auto show in the world....oh and sight seeing. Hopefully the economy still sucks then and we can easily travel non-rev.
Friday I'm going to a Lost & Found Sale at DFW airport. There is a lot of stuff for sale cheap! At the last one they had several golf club sets, computers, sunglasses, clothes, cell phones, LOTS OF CAR REMOTES, books and more. Everything you could possibly think of to be left behind is for sale. It's on the NON-SECURE (meaning anyone can go!) area of terminal E. Lost of BABY CLOTHES and TOYS!
Monday, April 20, 2009
I told Kelli that if I bought one I could win enough to pay for new floors and more. She didn't buy it.
A used one made by IGT (the top manufacturer) from a dealer runs from $600-$2000. Not cheap. I did find a Red, White and Blue 777 machine on craigslist for $350. Hmmm.
My mother in law sent us some "bribe" money this week. Hmmm
Sunday, April 19, 2009
The new Cowboys Stadium is huge! It looks very nice....but HUGE!
The game started good..then went bad. The Rangers were down by 2. Not looking good. Finally in the bottom of the 8th they tied it up.
The KC Royals didn't score in the top of the 9th. Memories of the 17 inning long game Kelli and I attended (and stayed till the end) a few years ago popped in my head. This could suck.
The very first batter for Texas hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th...game over!
Tomorrow all I have planned is to go to the Apple store and cut the grass. Hmmm what else to do?
Friday I flew up to New York for the New York Auto Show. This would be my third auto show this year. I already went to the Detroit and Dallas auto shows.
After studying the flight times and load factors, (how full each plane is) I decided to fly into Newark on the 6:30AM flight out of DFW. Thanks to some tips from readers of my aviation blog, I found I would be able to easily get from Newark to the auto show to JFK. The flight was pretty full and my backup plan was to fly on Continental. When I fly alone I can fly on any airline for free.
I got on the 6:30AM flight just fine, even got First Class. The flight was fine and on time. There were quite a few bumps, but nothing major.
After landing I made my way through the terminal to find a train to Penn Station. The fare was $15! I thought it would be cheaper. This ticket was more than I paid for the flight to get there. Bleh. The train was very nice. I figured it would be some old musty train. This was my first time on a "real" train. A conductor came through and grabbed my ticket. Interesting. I figured I would just swipe my ticket like I did in the NY subway. Nope. New Jersey has always had this dirty image in my head....stereotypes I guess.
After arriving in Penn station I whipped out my T-Mobile G1 and used the built in Google Map function with the built in GPS (I think the paper map making companies will soon go out of business) to navigate to the Auto Show. As I made my way I realized that Penn station is very close to Madison Square Garden. I was just here a few months ago...damn almost a year ago...for my brother in laws graduation from the NYPD.
I kept an eye out from my brother in law...but I know he works in the Bronx so I was pretty sure I wouldn't see him.
The Auto Show was WAY better than Detroit. I was a kid in a candy store. Unlike the previous 2 auto shows, this one had both the 2010 Toyota Prius and 2010 Honda Insight on the ground available for me to touch and sit in. The previous auto shows had both vehicles up on stands. The 2010 Prius has a nicer interior...but it's smaller than the current Prius interior. The backseat in Kelli's 2004 Prius is huge. I can have the front seat moved all the way back and still sit in the backseat without my knees rubbing the front seat. In the 2010 Prius that's not true. The front seats in the 2010 Prius are a little more comfortable though.
The 2010 Honda Insight looks like a Prius, but is quite a bit smaller. The interior is no where near as nice in appearance or feel. The Insight has a much cheaper and smaller interior all the way around. The Insight will be about $2500-4000 cheaper (Pricing for the 2010 Prius hasn't been announced). I could see myself owning a Insight....but not Kelli.
The rest of the auto show was awesome. I loved every minute of it.
As I walked around I checked in for my return flight and then made my way to JFK. I arrived back at Penn Station and got lost. I had no idea what to do or where to go. I asked an agent how to get to JFK. They said I had to buy a ticket on the Long Island Railroad to Jamaica and, once there, buy another ticket to JFK. Ok. I bought the first ticket and asked where to go. He said walk to the right and watch this HUGE board for the track for the 2:39 train. Hmm ok. Well the board had 2:39 and next to it several names...stops along the way. None of them were Jamaica. Track 18 flashed next to 2:39....literally hundreds of people started walking through the track 18 doorway. I stood in another line and asked which track I needed to go to....track 18.
I made my way to track 18. The trains were pretty full. I found a seat toward the front. The ride way fine. Another conductor came through and collected my ticket. She made a comment about me only going to Jamaica. Whatever. I guess most people go further.
Once I got to Jamaica I bought a ticket on the Airtrain to JFK. The train was prompt. The ride was kinda long.
Leaving Jamaica for JFK
After arriving in JFK I was shocked at how long the security lines were. American Airlines has special sections for "First class/Business class" passengers and even that line was long. I whipped out my employee badge and found the employee line. No line...nice.
The flight was showing on time...but later showed delayed. New York requires resturants to post calorie information on the menu. This sucks! I felt guilty eating anything. Instead I had a beer which, according to the lack of data on the menu, has no calories!
Turns out I picked the day that the main runway at JFK was being shutdown! The weather outside was beautiful....but with the runway shutdown delays were rampant.
Delays on a beautiful day with no bad weather! No more JFK for me!
I eventually got on the plane...First Class again (I am way spoiled). We taxied out to a taxiway....and shutdown both engines. The Captain stated it would be at least 45 minutes. I ordered a Bloody Mary. We eventually took off. I had a decent Cheese Ravioli dinner along with another Bloody Mary. They served ice cream sundaes for dessert. I have flown First Class on American 30+ times and only had ice cream once before...which happened to be on a flight from the NY area.
I have never been air sick before. I think some combination of the ravioli, ice cream and bloody mary's made me ill. About 30 minutes from DFW I "relieved" myself of everything I took in on the flight. Thankfully I made it to the restroom in time and didn't have to use an air sickness bag.
By 11:45PM I was laying down in bed (supposed to have landed at 9PM versus 11:20PM!).
At 5:30AM Saturday morning, I was awake again getting ready for a day trip to Minneapolis with Kelli.
The flight was short and empty so we flew coach. The flight arrived 25 minutes early. We made our way down to the light rail system. We bought tickets for $1.75 each to ride the short hop to the Mall of America. There were signs posted that the tickets would be checked. There were no ticket scanners or personnel to make sure we had tickets. We just walked on board. I figured a conductor or employee would come around to check tickets. We walked off the train without being checked.
The Mall of America is very nice...and yes very big. We walked around each of the three main levels. Quite a few stores....even a Best Buy. We had a good time.
Found in a magnet store at the Mall of America
Tired from all the walking...we bought tickets BACK to the airport. We are pretty sure only visitors to the city are paying for rides on the Light Rail system.
The flight back was very empty. The plane was supposed to be a 737...but instead was an MD80. No big deal normally. but it was a former TWA MD80. The TWA MD80's that American flies have different seats in coach than native American MD80s. The TWA coach seats are very uncomfortable. They sit lower to the ground and make it harder for tall people to stretch their legs out in front of them. I used the seat map on AA.com to see which seats were open. After boarding I moved up to an exit row...much better.
Kelli has read 2 books in 4 days! Good lord woman.
I'm done flying for now. Today we are going to a baseball game at the Ballpark in Arlington. Tomorrow I am getting my laptop fixed. Nothing major, the battery is only holding 1/2 a charge. My warranty ends the end of the month.
Tuesday the dryer is getting fixed.
Wednesday back to work. Such a hard life. ;-)
Thursday, April 16, 2009
So where to go? I seriously contemplated flying to Japan for two days. Kelli would kill me for going without her. I then thought of somewhere I could go that she didn't want to go that was international. Couldn't come up with anything.
Right now I am penciling in flying to New York for the day tomorrow. I plan on flying to Newark leaving DFW at 6:30 and arriving in Newark at 11. I will then hop on the Airtrain to ride up to Penn Station. Leaving Penn Station I will walk 15 minutes to the New York Autoshow. After spending a few hours I will stop by Sbaroo (My favorite NY pizza place!) and then catch a train to the JFK airport and fly back at 6PM. That all depends on the weather though. A storm will be moving in tonight and stick around tomorrow.
I have no idea what to do with the other 4 days.
Kelli thinks I am nuts for not wanting to just sit at home. Sitting at home is what I do every work day! I work 2PM-10PM. Between 6AM (when Kelli leaves and I wake up) and 2PM I sit around the house. Boooo.
Kelli used my Amazon.com Prime Membership to buy a crap load of books. She reads a lot. Women should have never learned to read. Next she will want to vote.....and have the right to think for herself. Damn womens lib!
Today I will be paid to sit at home and be on call. I seriously doubt I will be called.
Next Wednesday I find out what plane I will be flying and if I will be getting a pay cut.
Finished the taxes. We are getting back a little more than $150. We would have gotten back more....but I had that damn second job that didn't take out taxes.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Last year when Kelli bought a new washer and dryer I tried to sell my old washer and dryer set. No luck. The set sat in the garage since then.
Last week I broke the new dryer. It was overloaded. The dryer is still under warranty (for another month!). The repairman came out...ordered a part. It arrived yesterday and he will be out this weekend to fix it. I personally feel he mis-diagnosed it. We will see.
Anyways since the OLD dryer is still here, I slid that baby back into place. Thanks to me keeping stuff around.....we still can dry clothes!
Working on our taxes. We owe. Boooo.
Still thinking about flying up to New York Saturday.
I find out next Wednesday what plane I will be flying. Might be my current one....will probably be a new one. Hopefully either way I will still be based in Dallas.
My Macbook Pro is one year old. No longer in warranty. Of the money I won on vacation, all but $95 is being spent to pay down debt. I am spending $95 to upgrade my Macbook Pro hard drive from 200GB to 500GB. The biggest hard drive currently available at a fair price for laptops is 500GB.
Curiously Apple has easy instructions for upgrading a regular Macbook hard drive. The hard drive in Macbook Pro's is not considered user replaceable. Replacing it *could* void the warranty. I am not worried. There are a bunch of websites/videos with instructions on how to easily upgrade the hard drive.
Kelli and I have lost ZERO pounds over the last year. We both have more muscle...but weigh the same. Hmpf.
No news on the offspring front. Not sure when we will visit the topic again. I really like our free travel lifestyle and disposable income. Eh. Hmpf.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
By taking the first shuttle to the port (at 10AM), we breezed through checking in. Norwegian Cruise Lines allows/requires passengers to check in online. The process was painless.
We took a seat in a huge waiting room until the boat was cleaned/empty. The previous cruise ended at 7AM. The passengers were off by 10AM. After about 30 minutes we were walking onto the ship.
The crew offered up free champagne....nice touch. We then wandered up to the pool deck and were one of the first to enjoy the buffet. The food was very nicely prepared and tasted great. I was initially worried about missing soft drinks. The cruise offers free water, tea, coffee and juice (in the morning only). An unlimited soft drink plan was $6.25 a day. Turns out between coffee, beer and mojitos....I didn't miss soft drinks at all.
We explored the ship and by 2PM our room was ready.
The room was small, but fine for the two of us. We had an interior "superior" stateroom. The "superior" part meant we had a seating area in addition to a desk. The room was much larger than the last cruise I went on over 10 years ago.
Our bags had not yet arrived. We checked them with a porter once we arrived at the port. No big deal.
We left our room and explored some more. I had a decent bloody mary on the rear deck.
Around 4:30PM we attended the mandatory emergency evacuation drill. I take emergency drills very seriously. There have been countless evacuations where passengers die because they didn't know what to do or follow instructions. At our drill were a bunch of twenty somethings joking around and not listening. One tried to light up a cigarette. I quickly advised him smoking was not allowed during the drill. Idiots.
Once done we headed to the top of the boat to watch our departure from the port. There were three cruise ships all leaving at the same time. Once we were in open water Kelli and I settled into the casino.
That evening Kelli REALLY wanted to play Bingo. I grudgingly went along.
She bought a package that included a few paper cards, several electronic cards and more. We didn't win.
Afterwards we gambled a little more before eating dinner at the buffet and calling it a night.
Saturday morning we walked off the ship just after 8 AM. I have been to Nassau on vacation 3 times. The most recent time was a little over 10 years ago. A lot has changed.
The port is very organized and easy to move around. Gone are the days of being assaulted with offers from street vendors and being ripped off by taxis. The vendors are all licensed and polite. The taxi fares are all set by the tourism board.
We decided to walk around and explore. Being early not much was open. We did take a walk through the straw market.
The stores were just opening. The aisles were very narrow and the Bahamian woman running the stores were very wide. Kelli saw some things she liked but waited till later to buy.
We walked a bit more past many historical buildings. After another hour or so of walking around we took a taxi to the Atlantis hotel and resort.
The Atlantis is a very nice hotel. The prices they charge versus what you get in return is very skewed in their favor. On some travel sites they have really low room prices. The catch is these rooms are in the VERY old tower that are not nice at all. This is akin to the really cheap rooms at Circus Circus in Vegas...the rooms at low prices are no where near the real hotel.
We walked around and ended up outside near a huge aquarium. They had the largest Sting-rays Kelli had ever seen. We walked around the outside of the aquarium trail (only those who pay a ridiculous $35 fee can walk on the inside path) until we reached the end. Even on the outside we were able to see some amazingly large animals. Along the way we came across a group of young girls who were going snorkeling in the aquarium along with a hotel guide. There is no way I would pay to get in a tank with Stingrays, Sharks and more. That's how white people die.
We left the aquarium and went back downtown. For lunch we ate at a restaurant I first ate at over 10 years ago. The food was decently priced and tasty.
The straw market was our next stop. Kelli bought two small purses for our nieces. They are hand stitched purses with 'Dora' from the Dora the Explorer series. Several vendors had them...some good...some bad. Each one is unique.
I bought some alcohol and found and Internet cafe. They only charged $0.10 a minute. We each spent a whole $1. With my Internet fix taken care of we made our way back to the boat.
That night we at dinner at a steakhouse on board. The view was beautiful. Our reservation was for 5:30PM. Since I am always early....we were early. We spent a few minutes outside the restaurant enjoying the view.
The boat left the dock right as we sat down. We watched Nassau fade away and the sunset while eating a very nice dinner.
That covers the first part of the trip. More later.
Monday, April 13, 2009
The first year,
2005 - in Las Vegas
2006- St Louis, Missouri - Harrahs
2007 - Choctaw Casino, Durant, Oklahoma
2008 - Fallsview Casino, Toronto, Canada
2009 - Norwegian Sky Cruise Ship, Nassau, Bahamas
2010 - ????????
Some people go to Church on Easter and pray to god. Kelli and I go to Casinos and pray for a blackjack. Don't judge us!
We got lucky on flight both ways, first class non stop flights (amazing luck)
I won over $1100 on slot machines (including playing just 2 lines on a 5 line machine!)
Kelli won ANOTHER cruise to the Bahamas for us!
Kelli won $400 by spinning the wheel on a Wheel of Fortune slot machine
Neither of us got sea sick. The boat is much more advanced than the first boat I sailed on.
More tomorrow. Photos with captions posted on Flickr (click on any photo on the left hand side of this page!). Photos without captions via the "Our Vacation Photos" link at the top.
Videos to come as well.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Since I checked us in online last week we breezed through the welcome area. From the time we were dropped off until we were sitting in the lounge waiting to board was under 5 minutes. We were only behind 7 other people waiting to get on board.
I read several forums about how they confiscate alcohol brought on board. Every bag gets x rayed. Supposedly anything bottle shaped is inspected. Well I had two water bottles in my bag....they didn't even ask. Next time I am bringing my buddy Jim Beam.
Once we walked on board we were greeted with free Champagne. We were one of the first people on board so it was very empty. There was a welcome aboard buffet on the pool deck so we made our way there. We had our pick of tables and selected one next to a window with a view of downtown Miami and the port.
The area quickly filled up. We ate and then people watched for a while. We are always amazed at what people choose to wear in public. Several badly/imporperly/scarily dressed people passed by. Someone somewhere told these people that they looked good. Liars are everywhere I guess.
The rooms won't be ready until 2PM so we are in a lounge waiting. I busted out my old T-Mobile Dash to tether to my laptop for Internet access. It's not fast....but it gets the job done.
Both Kelli and I brought books to read. She is reading Twilight while I am reading Splash of Colors : The Self-Destruction of Braniff International. I really like airline history. I have read at least 5 books on the topic in the last year. It helps to see a name in one book and know alot about them from another.
Kelli and I realized we are addicted to vacations. This is our 4th vacation this year. We have done Disney for a week, San Jose for an extended weekend, Las Vegas for a long weekend and now this 3 day cruise. Next weekend we are penciling in a day trip to New York for the auto show. Next month Kelli is going to Oregon...I might go. June brings us back to California for wedding. Nothing else planned after that. I better not loose my job. We can't afford "real" airline tickets.
Prolly my last update until we get back.
I was on call reserve until midnight. Realistically I couldn't be called after 5PM as all remaining flights were overnight flights and I was off the next day (today). I booked us on a 505PM flight that was overbooked. There were VERY high winds in DFW yesterday that caused the airport to use just 2 runways instead of the normal 6. Delays started racking up. In addiiton to delays, planes that were inbound to DFW had to land elsewhere due to delays getting into DFW. This is a good thing.
The 505PM flight was delayed until 7PM. The next flight, 6:55 was delayed until 7:45PM. This was not good for us. They likely delayed the flights to give connecting passengers time to make the flight. We were pretty far down the standby list, around number 28 and 29. Both flights were overbooked.
The 505PM flight left at 7:05PM. They had room for me in the cockpit, that's it. I passed. I booked us on a flight to Nashville arriving at 11PM to then fly on a 6AM flight to Miami.
We walked down to the next direct Miami flight. Again overbooked. But I had hope that passengers would misconnect (not nice I now...but it's all about us!). Kelli and I stood away from the counter. Kelli noticed the number of passengers boarding was much less than the last flight. Both flights were on 757's. I saw a gate agent I had seen before. She is good. Really good. I checked the internal standby list on my phone. Seats were opening up! She was clearing seats from passengers who would miss the flight anyway. Nice.
There were A LOT of employee standbys. There were even some buddy pass standbys (I get mine to hand out in November) hoping to get on. It was looking REALLY good suddenly.
The gate agents began calling names. Lots of no shows. People had given up (there were two people above us, one with a kid) likely due to the full flights. Traveling with a kid is very hard as you can't always get seats together when flying standby.
She called our names. I was still in uniform as I assumed we would be sitting coach. Assuming is bad. The agent asked First or Coach. I said First if you have two seats. She did. Sweet. We quickly walked down the jet bridge. Our seats weren't together, but another passenger swapped with me. Every standby got on! There were over 25 mis-connecting passengers. I love gate agents that work the standby list in all possible ways.
The flight was fine. I really wished I wasn't in uniform as I could have used a drink. Oh well.
We arrived after the hotel shuttle stopped operating. We had to take a taxi. The hotel is a normal La Quinta.
Gotta run. Time to catch the shuttle to the boat. More from the boat today...maybe.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I looked online today for a good deal. I like New Balance. Sears had them on sale in a size 14!!! But not in stock in my area. I browsed Kohls.com and NewBalance.com and found a few styles I liked in my price range.
When I stopped by the first Kohls...only size 13. They did have a 13 extra wide. They fit fine. I would have like a 14. The clerk said they had one 14 for a while, some other freak stopped by and bought them yesterday. Ok he didn't say freak, but he did size me up. I don't have the vertical height of most size 14 shoe wearers.
I bought the 13 extra wide shoes and headed to the New Balance store. I told the clerk my issue. She asked what I wanted shoes for. Hmmm walking? Maybe a little wind surfing. After letting her know all I do is walk (unless I am running from Zombies, which my friend Raymond already has a plan for) she pointed me to some plain jane shoes. I asked home much....$90!!!! The running shoes started at $120! These prices were all WAY higher than NewBalance.com for the same shoes! I asked about the discrepancy. The sales lady quickly said her stores shoes are not the same as I would see on NewBalance.com. If I bought shoes on Newbalance.com they would NOT be the SAME as the shoes I see in the store. I would have to go to NewBalanceDFW.com to get shoes from THIS store. They way she was talking it was as though her New Balance shoes are better. Yeah. I politely left the store.
Having big shoes sucks. If we have an off spring I hope they don't get my foot genes.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I was riding the escalator at DFW airport to hop on the Skylink train. Ahead of me was a lady with two kids. She had one by the hand while another one, a little girl around 2/3 years old, was standing a few steps behind alone. I was about one step behind the little girl.
Halfway up the little girl put both hands on the glass wall of the escalator. This caused her motion to stop and the top half of her body to lean toward me. About a second later she began to fall toward me. I had to choose between my laptop and this little girl who I didn't know.
I dropped my laptop bag and grabbed the little girl before she face planted the moving stairs and began falling down the escalator.
She looked quite confused at what just happened. As did I. I dropped my laptop bag to help a little girl?!?!?!?!
Apparently another member of their party had just stepped on the escalator right before she decided to stop her motion. For the remainder of the ride (it's a good 20-25 second ride), she continued to face backwards trying to get back to the lady waaay behind us. With the first lady and me both telling her to face forward in nice voices, she did.....right before the escalator ride ended.
Worry not my laptop is safe. My laptop bag is heavily padded....next time though....eh. Damn kids.
Monday, April 6, 2009
The flights to Miami are pretty full. We were going to go Thursday evening, stay at a La Quinta (that has a free airport AND cruise terminal shuttles!) for the night to make sure we got there okay. The flights Thursday morning have gone from bad to iffy to bad. The flights Friday morning at iffy. Our alternate plan right now is to fly to Nashville, TN Thursday night and Miami Friday morning. The only iffy thing about Nashville is the single flight to Miami in the morning. It's less than 1/4th full right now. As long as it doesn't have a mechanical problem we should be good to go. Our super alternate is to go through Atlanta. They have a red-eye Thursday night getting into Atlanta at 1:15AM. The flight to Miami leaves at 6AM. Not really worth getting a hotel. Not sure how Kelli would handle that.
We watched a CNBC special (click here to watch it on via HULU ) on cruising. The special happened to be about Norwegian Cruise Lines, the company we will be cruising on this Friday. I am really bummed they ban passengers from bringing alcohol on board. They Xray all bags and will confiscate any liqour until the end of the cruise. BOOOO! Me being me, I have found a great cruise website ( www.cruisecritic.com ) with forums about all about cruises. There are many tips on how to bring liqour on board without getting caught. We will see.
I found my best friend from high school on Facebook recently. The last time I saw her was in a gas station in Nacogdoches, TX (where I went to college). I saw her in passing. Prior to that we lost touch after I left Texas Tech (where I went to school for my first year of college). It is really nice to connect with her again. The search is still on for one other friend, Beth Dusesoi. I fear the worst but hope for the best with her. She lead a kinda crazy life after high school.
Three days of work until vacation.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Day Port Arrive Depart
Fri Miami - 5:00 PM
Sat Nassau 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Sun Great Stirrup Cay 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Mon Miami 7:00 AM
Saturday will be rough. Maybe I can find a cheap internet cafe in Nassau. Sunday I will have to use the ships access. Monday we will be back on dry land. I am probably going to buy a prepaid SIM card for use while on vacation. The prepaid cards have cheaper phone access than our monthly plan. Odd. Additionally there have been issues with T-Mobile G1 owners and roaming. The G1 is a data intensive phone. Owners have had all data turned off and still been hit with hefty data roaming charges as the first release of the G1 was always communicating data. Supposedly it's fixed. Yeah.
My brother in law is in town this weekend. He is currently a cop with the NYPD. Tomorrow he is trying out for the Hurst, Euless, North Richland Hills and Southlake police departments. They all use one try out process which makes it easier on the applicants. I am sure he will get the job.
Kelli is still loving her Mac. I have had mine for a year now. Still happy. I've had my car for a year now as well. Just over 7200 miles in the last year. If we don't have a kid it's going back in 2 years for sure. It's a great car...but not need for all that space for just the two of us.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Facebook is amazing. I found my best friend from high school today. Seems she is supporting her husband like Kelli is supporting me.
A week from now I will be sitting on a boat.
I checked in for the cruise today. We were assigned a room on a secluded deck. This is good and bad. We will see how it goes. All we have to do is pick up our keys and walk aboard. This is so much easier than the first time I went on a cruise. I still remember waiting in a line for hours.
My brother in law is coming in town tomorrow.
Kelli and I are penciling in a day trip to NY for the NY autoshow on the 19th. Flights look good.
Time for bed. Short overnight.
I really did want to exercise. I sleep sooo much better when I do.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The first time we went we had "normal" rooms. The second time my mom booked two of the six penthouse rooms. I stayed down below in a normal room with another family member. The penthouse rooms were very large and had expansive private balconies. Very nice.
Since then I went on one "cruise to no where". My parents used to be big gamblers. Slot machines were my mom's vice. She didn't smoke and very rarely drank....she just gambled...often. She worked hard and could afford to gamble away.
When they couldn't make it to Vegas, they would hop on a casino bus and gamble in Louisiana. They gambled so much they won a couple of cruises from Isle of Capri casino. The cruise left the Port of New Orleans...and returned to the same port. I think it was 3 days. Day 1 was at sea. Day 2 was at sea. Day 3 was at sea on the way to the port. We went sometime in 1998 I think. I remember the ship was formerly Russian as there were many signs in Russian and then English.
Including the two cruises, I have been to Nassau, Bahamas 3 times on vacation. The last time my parents paid for the family to spend a week in Nassau. Funny story. We stayed at a Holiday Inn for a few nights. We left because they ran out of sheets!!! We went during Spring Break. My mom was a very powerful woman. After a little "discussion" the hotel put us up in the much nicer Radisson.
I have been to Nassau a few times since....but only for 50 mintues or so at a time. American Eagle used to fly DFW-Nassau non-stop. We would fly in...fuel up...and fly out. Very pretty island.
I said all that to say this. Next weekend Kelli and I are going on a 3 day cruise. This will be our first time flying somewhere in which we HAVE to be there at a certain time. That time is 3PM. We will be leaving on the first flight out of DFW to Miami. Right now the flights are fine. I am sure it will stay that way. We have back up plans just in case.
The total cost of the cruise is $199 a person. After $60 a person in government taxes and fees the cost is $512 out out the door for the both of us. Not too bad. I bought the cruise through a local travel company , Dynamic Travel, that is really big on line. I was going to use Perx.com, but they charge $25 a person in "booking fees". Dynamic Travel offers Interline discounts. The best price I could find online for the same cruise is $270 a person + government fees and taxes. Not too shabby.
This will be Kellis first cruise. I will pack dramamine just in case.
Then I got to thinking. There is a great travel industry discount site called Perx.com. They have steep discounts on resorts and crusies. I found a 3 night cruise leaving Miami for $199 a person. The price on regular travel sites is $250+ a person. On Perx I found I am allowed to book up to 3 cabins under the travel discount. Unlike our flights, these are not standby cabins.....actual reservations!
This could be useful the next time my mother in law plans a big family vacation....or if some friends want to plan a cruise together.
I am going to call and set everything up this afternoon. We will be taking Norwegian Cruise Lines to the Bahamas next week.