Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Android is complete!

I've had my T-Mobile G1 for about 9 months now. For the most part I love it. Being able to use the Internet at 3G speeds is awesome. On issue though is tethering. What is tethering?

Well tethering is being able to use my cell phone as a modem so I can browse the Internet on my laptop. Why would I do this? Well sometimes I find myself without a WiFi signal. Sure I can use my phone for a browser, but it's not as fast as a computer. Whenever we go to Vegas we have to use our phones as the hotels charge outrageous fees. This sucks.

My old T-Mobile Dash would allow me to tether just fine. The feature was part of the phone.  No issues. The G1 doesn't support tethering. There is no built in application like the T-Mobile Dash had.

There were applications that allowed tethering but they required complicated hacking of the phone that could result in the phone not being as reliable. No thanks.

While flying to Amarillo the other day, the Captain noticed my T-Mobile G1 and we began talking about Android (the Operating System on the G1). I mentioned the lack of tethering. Then he let me in on a website called June Fabrics. The site has software for several smartphone Operating Systems that allow tethering EASILY. The only crappy part...Windows only. Not a deal breaker for me as I use Windows and Mac on my Macbook.

The application is free for 30 days. After that it only allows use of regular websites (http: only thus no secure sites). The application only cost $29. Well worth it.

I installed it and had it working in under 4 minutes. The download speed test showed 700K/B down and 700 K/B up. Not terribly fast, but more than enough for what I normally use. Nice.

I am going to install this on Kelli's phone as she never bothered to setup T-Mobile hotspot account and now I don't know if she can. I get T-Mobile hotspots free. I think I was grandfathered in from my T-Mobile Dash account.

Now I am totally content with my T-Mobile long as the software isn't disabled through future Android updates.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I should have only invested in Orchid

I own a few stocks. Not many....just a few...okay 3. I bought shares of AMR, Orchid Biosciences and Expressjet last year. AMR and Expressjet are both aviation related companies. Orchid Biosciences is Kelli's employer.

Last summer I bought AMR around $9 a share, Orchid at $0.92 a share and Expressjet at $0.41 share. Since then AMR has gone down to close at a recent high of $5.23 a share today, Orchid is at $1.71 a share and Expressjet is $1.30 a share.

I am losing on AMR, nearly doubled my money at Orchid and lost ALOT with Expressjet. How so? Well Expressjet did a 10-1 reverse stock split last year. So that $1.30 a share is really $0.13 a share. If I had bought JUST Orchid I would be way up in the money (up 84%!!!!!). Instead I am down 8% overall.


Stocks are "good investments" for the long haul. My 401K is up 24% since I started (late last year) and up 18% this year. I am only doing well because I started at the bottom of the market.

Ehh...better of two evils

I work in an industry that is 100% based on seniority. Whoever has been here the longest has a better quality of life.

On the day I was hired each pilot was assigned a seniority number based on birthdate. Whoever was the oldest in my new hire class (about 35 pilots) got the next highest company seniority number. The numbers were then handed out in order of age.

Seniority can be really complicated as there is company seniority, domicile (where I am based) seniority and aircraft seniority.

When hired the pilot who was hired along with me was 15 number junior to me company wide but just 1 number junior to me on the aircraft.

We both had a good time the first year. We both were able to stay local in Dallas. After the first year though the economy began to change. The company needed to shift the number of pilots around the system.

Initially we were both pushed out of our current aircraft (a jet) and into a lower paying aircraft (a turboprop). When the time to go to training came, I was able to hold my seat in the jet, but he was not. The difference...1 aircraft seniority number.

Rather than take a major paycut on the turboprop, he decided to become a commuter and transfer to the jet in Chicago. He began commuting in March. Since then he held a set schedule for flying for 2 months, but recently had to deal with a reserve schedule. I fly a reserve schedule. This means all I know is what days I have to be available for work. I don't know what time I will start flying, stop flying or where I am going.

He has had a decent time. He spends $175 a month on a crashpad. A crashpad is an apartment shared by a number of commuting pilots.

I told you that to tell you this. I might be joining him.

The last two times my airline shuffled pilots around, I was able to hold on to my seat, by 1 number. Next time I don't think I will be as lucky.

Yesterday I was talking with two pilots on my plane who are slightly senior to me. They ran the numbers comparing flying the lower paying turboprop in Dallas versus commuting to Chicago on our jet. The difference is at least $600 a month minimum. That's a good chunk of change. I am still pondering it over, but right now I am leaning toward heading to Chicago. If things go the way I think they will I will be in the group of more senior reserves and possibly a low end line holder.

It's the better of two evils.

On an entirely different note, my mother in law is leaning toward buying a Mac. Finally. I recommended a 24 Inch IMac with the Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse. This was there will be just 3 cables coming out of the computer, power, internet and the printer. Next time I visit I will set it up so all she has coming out is just the power cable.

The best prices for Mac's IMHO is at Here is a link to the computer I think she should buy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I don't want to risk having to call XM again

Music. Digital Music. Kelli and I together pay over $400 a year just to hear music. Kinda crazy eh? I thought so.

We both have XM radios in our vehicles. We paid roughly $20 a month for both radios to receive programming. I only drive 11 miles to work. Roughly a 15 minute drive. If I drive 30 minutes a day for a month that's a whole 15 hours of programming. Roughly $0.70 an hour for music. Hmmm. Kelli drives for 30 minutes each way to work so roughly $0.35 an hour. Hold on to that.

I have been enjoying the Zune music service for over a year. I pay $16.23 a month including tax. I get all the music I want for that price. While at work I listen to my zune for roughly 2 1/2 hours. At least 60 hours a month (really much more as I play my zune through my car radio and each night while sleeping in bed) I pay roughly $0.25 an hour for music. As part of my subscription I get 10 free songs to own forever. Hold on to that.

Paying $36 a month for music is expensive. I recently bought another Zune. With my $16.23 a month plan I can fill up 3 Zunes with as much music as I want.

Kelli has been loving my extra Zune for the last two weeks. I loaded it up with all kind of music I hate, which she happens to love. She can listen to it through her stereo on the way to work and via headphones at work. I figure she listens to the Zune at least 3 hours a day.

I got to thinking....why not cancel XM? I won't miss it much (I will miss Headline News and Robin Meade!). Kelli only listens to music. We can save quite a bit of money.

I discussed the idea with Kelli. She was okay with it.

Well, I called XM to cancel. I went through the automated system and routed to India (I am pretty sure, very thick accents).

The agent asked for my radio Id. I will admit I talk fast at times (it's known as Darrenese...Kelli gets it, Eric gets it, Angela gets it....most people who are lucky enough to be around me for a while get it). I don't think my mother in law gets it....maybe she should visit more. Wait did I just say that. Doh!

During the call I spoke much slower than about average speed.

The agent asked for my radio ID. I said L6CPY04D. She read back something totally different. I then said it again very slowly using the universal (in flying anyway, cops use other words) words for each letter. The outsourced call center could not understand when I said LIMA-SIX-CHARLIE-PAPA-YANKEE-ZERO-FOUR-DELTA or L6CPY04D for my radio ID. The entire system is based on letters and numbers! Finally she got it. I said I want to know what happens with our balance if I cancel. She said I would get a credit. Fine. She asked why I wanted to cancel. I just stated I wanted to cancel. She persisted. I repeated. She said she would transfer me to the cancellation department.

After being on hold for 7 minutes the line went silent and I was disconnected. Grrr. I called back.

I again got a lady with a thick Indian accent. Once again she struggled to understand the English language. Once again "why are you cancelling?" Grrr. Once again set up for transfer. I told her what happened last time and can I have a direct number. Told "no." Grrr.

Once transferred I had to give my information again. This time to a lady with an mid-west American accent. I was very frustrated by this point. I stated I just wanted to cancel. She offered two months free service. I calmly stated, "I don't ever want to risk having to call XM again." She was silent. Offered another free service offer. I told her about the out sourced call center and that, "I don't ever want to risk having to call XM again." She finally got it.

Now we will pay $16.23 a month for music. Since I get 10 free songs a month it's really like paying $6.23 month (songs typically cost $0.99 to buy). Much better.

I will have to buy a car mount for Kelli. She likes the Zune more than XM as she can control the music and it works everywhere. I will have to transfer a saved song list from her old XM radio (it has built in memory). Then she should be content.

Monday, July 27, 2009

San Diego in a flash

We are very used to non-rev travel. It's how we get around. We are lucky that we live in a major Hub, have no kids and know how to pack efficiently.

Last weekend was my last weekend off for a while. We wanted to take advantage of the time off so we headed to San Diego to visit the zoo.

Getting there was a challenge. With all of the fare sales, planes are getting really full. This sucks for us! Thursday night things looked grim. I had five ways for us to get there:

Dallas - Santa Ana - flight overbooked

Dallas - Los Angeles - flight overbooked

Dallas - San Diego - flight overbooked

Dallas - St. Louis - Los Angeles - just 5 seats open on each flight

Dallas - Burbank - flight nearly full but expensive rental cars

Friday morning things went nuts. On the way to the airport we could either try for the direct to Los Angeles flight or go for the Dallas-St Louis-Los Angeles option. While walking across the employee parking lot I made the choice to go for the direct to Los Angeles option. The flight was to depart at 6:15AM. The St Louis flight left at 6:40AM. I figured many real passengers would miss the flight. I was wrong. We didn't make the flight by 5 passengers. We didn't have time to make St Louis flight as it was across the airport. Crap.

Now we were in a tiffy. All the other options were all very full. I had to think outside the box.

After hammering away on my laptop, I found a way...through Austin. I booked us on an 8:50AM flight but noticed a flight leaving at 7:25AM...just a few gates away. We walked down to the gate and hopped on the flight. Once in Austin things got odd.

We had 3 hours until the Los Angeles flight left. There were only 4 open seats. At the time we were the only standbys...things look good.

Two hours to go we were sitting by the window when I noticed a plane being escorted by fire trucks making its way to the terminal. It was an AA MD80. The plane deboarded and I noticed all of the passengers were waiting in the gate area. This flight was not supposed to come here. Turns out this flight took off from Austin headed for Chicago, had an engine issue, and returned to the airport.

The engine issue was minor, appeared to be just a sensor malfunction. There was no smoke, fire or visible trauma to the engine. What happened next at first appeared to screw us....but turned out to be a great thing.

The Chicago flight was transferred to another AA MD80 standing by. This other MD80 was the plane that was supposed to be used for the Los Angeles flight. This would mean our flight was delayed. Things began to happen quickly. All of the top tier passengers for the Los Angeles flight were rebooked through Dallas or Chicago. This opened up several seats for us!

In the end there were plenty of open seats on the Austin to Los Angeles flight. Nice.

Once we got to Los Angeles we headed to Budget for our rental. I haven't rented from Budget in years. Alamo/National is our preferred company. Budget is like Thrifty/Dollar in that they aren't streamlined and easy to use. With Alamo/National I can pick my own car 99% of the time. Not with Budget.

I rented the cheapest car possible. The agent said they were out of base cars but would give me a "free upgrade" to a compact car. My options were a Hyundai Elantra or a Chevy HHR. Hmm.....give me the Elantra. I asked about a few other cars that are in the same category as the Elantra (when renting from Alamo/National), but the agent said it would be $10 a day for just about any other car. Whatever....I'll take the Elantra. They offered a navigation system for $10 a day. Who rents these anymore? I bought a $99 Fry's special last year and hacked it to be a TomTom. Most people have portable navigation units...why not pack them and save a few bucks while traveling?

The Elantra was decent...the XM radio worked. The IPOD/USB jack didn't work with my Zune. No biggie...again XM.

The drive down to San Diego took a while. Lots of traffic. We did find a In-N-Out burger though.

The hotel was in an awesome location, very close to downtown.

We checked in and then walked around the Gas Lamp district. With the Comic Con convention in town there were A LOT OF DORKs around. I felt really hip.

During dinner we were surrounded by dorks. Kelli actually had beer. She never has beer at home.

After dinner we headed to Tivoli's bar. We really liked this place, very down to earth. Of course there were a bunch of dorks here as well. Lots of people watching.

I stumbled out of the bar around 10:30 and we headed back to the hotel. Good times

The next morning we had the awesome Holiday Inn Express cinnamon rolls before heading to the San Diego zoo. The hotel had a free zoo shuttle. We arrived at 8:20AM....the zoo didn't open till 9AM. We were glad we were early. Once the gates opened we hopped on the first bus tour without waiting in line. The bus tour covered over 70% of the zoo. We saw a lot.

After the tour we walked around for a few hours before heading back to the hotel.

The flights back from Santa Ana were W-I-D-E open. During the drive back we wanted more In-N-Out burger. The first TWO.....yes I said TWO, had lines out the door and crazy long drive thru lines. We headed way out of town before finding one with only a really crowded dining area. With our bellies full of deliciousness we arrived at the airport an hour before the flight.

With such an open flight, we could pick our own seats. For some reason Kelli picked aisle seats across from each other for us. Hmm...her row was empty, but the two seats next too me were full. Thanks Kelli!

Before the flight I moved to the window seat next to Kelli. We would have the middle seat open. Once on the plane I was really glad I moved. The seat Kelli put me in was next to a couple with a 2 year old lap child. If I had been stuck there we would have had a divorce in the sky.

No further travel is planned for me until Tokyo in October. I am sure we will go somewhere. I might head up to Portland/Seattle with Kelli in a few weeks. She is going to some punk rock concert up there.

Below are photos from our trip....I actually wrote captions for a change!

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Baby Parenting Video

New video to help with my parenting skills. Now I know why Kelli got the dogs!

Baby HD from summer of tears on Vimeo.

I'm not the worst proposer in the world

So when I asked Kelli to legally be responsible for me it went as follows. I mentioned we should go to dinner. I tossed up a few ideas, but subtly pushed for Chilis. Why Chilis ?? Well that's where we first met.

We went to dinner and about 3/4 the way through she took a bite of her burger and began choking. What was she choking on? The ring! I began slapping her on the back until an off duty copy pulled me off because he thought I was beating her. Kelli slumped over and began flailing on the floor like a fish out of water. I was able to kick her in the back at the right spot to dislodge the ring, which shot across the floor, coming to a stop right in front of a drainage hole. I asked her to marry me as I was being dragged out in handcuffs. She coughed up "yes."

Ok so that was all a lie. We went to Chilis where we met. During the meal I reached in my pocket and pulled out the ring which was still in the box. I placed the box on the table and said, "well all of our friends are getting married, we might as well go ahead and do it." Kelli was stunned, but teared up and said yes. I tell you that to show you this, a guy who proposed in a worse way than I! The video is cued up...just hit play! was cued up. Just skip ahead to 5 Minutes 36 seconds. Doh!


The video is from a podcast I watch/listen to called Diggnation.

I love a great deal

So Thursday I was headed to Lowes to get finishing nails to reattach our baseboards. While there I decided to check out the prices on the Black & Decker lawn equipment. Glad I did!

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Lowes was having a sale on all cordless electric lawn equipment....10% off. On top of that they had 12 months no interest. Hmmm. The price on the shelf for the mower was $399. has the mower for $366. With the 10% off the prices are pretty close. Of course I would pay tax in the store.....but 12 months of free money. Hmmm... Then I noticed the cordless trimmer for $75. Same price on Amazon. Hmmm....after a quick text to my financial advisor (aka Kelli) it was a done deal. I thought my total would be $360 for the mower ($399 - 10%), $68 for the trimmer ($75 - 10%), $15 for trimmer string and $3 for nails. So roughly $445 plus tax.On my way to the checkout I passed a display for compact flourescent bulbs for $10. The display stated buy them now and get $10 off your next purchase. Hmmm.

Now I was the complicated shopper I hate. I went to the service desk and asked if I bought these bulbs now is it an instant coupon or a mail in rebate. After a minute or two he figured out it was instant. Deal.

I bought the bulbs and then he hang up everything else. The mower rang up for $323! The price on the shelf was wrong! This was now way lower than Amazon. The trimmer as $67.47...right on the price. For some reason the cashier rang up every item 10% off instead of just the electric items. Not a big deal, but all told I paid $408.84  + $33.73 in tax for a TOTAL of 442.57. Wow. The mower alone last week at lowes would have cost nearly that much. I got a cordless mower and trimmer for the price of the mower alone! On top of all that I get one year free money! Kelli and I take advantage of a lot of interest free offers. To make sure we don't screw up we setup automatic payments to them. Never had an issue.

For 5 years I have suffered the indignity of a cord shooting out of the back of my mower. No longer! The Black & Decker cordless mower does a great job for our size lawn. Now I can do it cordless baby!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I won't be the biggest dork in town

This upcoming weekend is going to be my last weekend off for at least a month. My schedule this month was decent in that I had Thursdays-Saturdays off (for the most part). Next month I have mostly Tuesdays thru Thursdays off. Wanting to have one more "normal" weekend...Kelli and I are heading out of town.

I spent the day yesterday looking at the map below, thinking about where we have been, where we would like to go and most full the flights are.


Flights to Santa Ana and Los Angeles are decently light on Friday. Return flights from Santa Ana are very accomidating Saturday. Santa Ana it is.

Initially I was planning on a trip to Universal Studios. I get discount tickets through work. Then I saw they had listed this weekend as a "black out" weekend for certain pass holders. This wouldn't effect the tickets....but it could be very busy. Scratch that idea.

I then pondered what else would I like to do in California? After a bit I remembered that I am indeed married. WWKWTD (What Would Kelli Want To Do)? Ahh! The San Diego zoo!

San Diego is just 90 miles south of Santa Ana. We can't get a flight to San Diego direct (way too full). We can still fly to Santa Ana and rent a car. So that's what I set about planning.

I noticed all the hotels had REALLY high prices. I just assumed it was the norm. We have enough points between us to simply use points for the hotel room anyway. Kelli booked a Holiday Inn Express in downtown using her points. I booked a rental car using my employee discount. Total cost for the trip will be under $90.

Once everything was done I searched 'visit San Diego' and my mouth dropped. I saw the reason why the hotels were so expensive.


Damn Comic Con! The town will be full of comic book loving dorks! In addition freaks who love the Twilight series (and they are freaks!) will be in town as well. The only positive note is that maybe the zoo will be less busy.

My mother in law has had the same computer for over 6 years. Six years! She bought the computer shortly after Kelli and I met. It was nice then. Top of the line. I have replaced every computer I own at least once since then. She needs a new one. An IMac would be perfect but even the new series of Net Top computers would work. What's a Net Top computer? Well it's a small computer designed for people with basic, basic office work and web surfing. No fancy gaming, video editing, or graphics. The computers are modeled after Netbooks (which I am still researching).

Kelli is loving her Kindle DX. She is also loving my Zune 8GB.

We head to Japan in three months.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Watching TV off the grid....or is it on the grid?

So over the last month I have become hooked on podcast. My Zune got me started. I listen to audio podcast about a variety of topics. In addition I watch video podcast.

After about a week I figured out how to watch podcast on our huge TV via our XBOX 360. I would manually download higher quality (480P and 720P video) to my Windows Home Server and then use the XBOX 360 to stream them to our TV.

Today I found an RSS feed program ( to automatically download podcast to the Windows Home Server and simply stream them to the XBOX 360.

There are a TON and I mean a TON of high quality (in both video and content) video programs on the Internet. There are sitcoms, news shows and more.

Some households (although a very small percentage), have gone off the grid by canceling cable TV contracts and getting all extra content off the net. In response some cable companies are starting to impose download caps on Internet data plans. Downloading all this video takes a good chunk of bandwidth. The cable companies want consumers to pay for TV....and not get it free through the Internet.

For the most part Kelli and I watch network (NBC,ABC,CBS and FOX) television. We have a few shows we watch on standard cable TV and just two shows we watch on premium cable stations. If I can somehow find a reliable source to download the episodes in full quality....we could cut the cord...and save $800+ a year. Just a thought.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Growing up today

Something just blew my mind. Gianna and Haley (two of my nieces) will grow up thinking that pictures taken with a camera will always display right away on the back of the camera. They won't know any different. The idea of "we will see the photo later after we go to a store" will be foreign to them. I doubt they will ever have to seriously use a library. Hmm.....our own offspring will grow up even more advanced (not only because they will have half of my super superior genes, but because our house is much more wired than the average house).

I have been on the "internet" since 1993. Over sixteen years. Many of my high school and early college papers used sources on the internet as references. I still remember trying to figure out how to quote an internet source.

We now have a Google Voice phone number. This is huge. I am going to discuss with Kelli the idea of getting rid of our home phone. . I can also easily set up Google Voice to route specific calls to specific phones. For example when my Dad calls our phone number (which is an 682 area code , like our cell phones) the call will route first to my phone. My mother in law calls, it will go to Kelli's phone. When my sister in law calls it will go to hell. Just kidding Jami. The system can be set up to ring any number of phones at the same time.

When we get a voicemail the message will be transcribed and sent as a text message to our cell phone. There are many, many more features. Total cost???? FREE!!!!!!!

I eat lunchables at work to save money (cheaper than airport food). I enjoy them. I ran into a problem though.

The package includes a little 6.5 ounce water bottle and a packet for making kool-aid. The kool-aid packet states add to 8 ounces of water. Hmmm makes some REALLY potent kool-aid.

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Now some really cool photos I took while at work.

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By posting these photos I am using both of my college majors.....Photojournalism and Sociology. Booyah!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hmmm Kelli has been dethrowned

Kelli used to send twice as many text messages as I. No longer.


I really like T-Mobiles new account website. I think my text messaging is higher due to my Twitter account (the little notes in the upper left corner of this page) and well....I'm a happenin' dude. It's good to see the "Whenever" minutes are almost split evenly. Of course most of Kelli's minutes are calls made while sitting in the living to a real phone. Eh.

Really Burger King?


Hmmm yeah...this ad for Burger King leaves little to the imagination. A woman's mouth open. A 7 inch product (with a lot of mayo?) and the big words "It'll Blow our Mind Away". Really Burger King?

The text below says, "Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame grilled with the NEW BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER.

Enough of that.

I got my business cards in:



I ordered the cards from I paid $7 for 100 glossy double-sided cards. My DBA has been filed. Next it getting the price structure and website set up. I have my own deadline of August 15th. Should be plenty of time.

For the cell phone solution I am going to buy a T-Mobile prepaid kit...which is really just a sim card. I can pop the sim card into any T-Mobile (or unlocked) phone. We have three T-Mobile phones here too choose from.

This weekend is a 3 day weekend for me. Not sure if we are going to head out somewhere. Wouldn't mind hitting San Diego or Boston....maybe a little Washington, D.C. action.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Floors installed...marriage intact

We installed the flooring. Being so different came in handy. Kelli and I are very different. I make decisions quickly...not hastily....just quickly. Kelli is the opposite. She is more methodical. This tends to cause friction. During the installation our very different ways of thinking came in handy.

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It took us a good 30 minutes to lay the first piece. After that it went kinda smooth. The hardest parts were the end pieces. The instructions simply said to score and snap the pieces. Sounds easy. Well making straight scores was not easy.

We finally finished. Total install time was 4 hours. We rented a 100 pound roller from Home Depot to smooth out the planks.

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When we returned the roller we saw this display ad for a device designed to making cutting planks easy. Grrrrrr. This device would have cut our install time in 1/2 or more! Next time!

We still have to reinstall the baseboards and do something with the doorway where the flooring stops and the carpet starts.

The end result is very nice and we are very happy with the color, texture and appearance. Total cost for the 11X12 room was $470.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Starting my own business

For years now I have been fixing computers for family, friends and friends of friends. I charge little to nothing. Many times I am asked if I have a card. I never did. That's going to change.

I decided to attempt to start my own business. Nothing big. I have secured a domain name, business phone number and will be dropping off the DBA paperwork at the Tarrant County Clerks office tomorrow morning. I was going to use for the DBA stuff, but they wanted $99 for something I can do for $35.

For the website I wanted to use the word Geek. Lots of Geek domain names were already taken. After about 30 minutes I figured The area we live in is known as the "mid cities". I don't plan on venturing out beyond the Hurst, Euless and Bedford.

In order to have a separate phone number I thought long and hard about the most economical way to do this. I didn't want a long term investment (like a new cell contract). I researched prepaid phones. I found one I like from T-Mobile. Then I thought "what if I want to change phones?". This lead me to a virtual phone. I decided on Skype. With Skype I have a local phone number for $6 a month (cheaper if I buy more than 3 months at a time) and can get unlimited service for $3 a month. So $9 a month for phone service. Done.

I spent hours looking over the legal paperwork involved. Legalzoom was ready to charge me $200. Ninety-nine dollars was for the DBA submission ($20 for me to file), $80 for a Employer Tax Identification Number (something I don't need), and $20 for "other legal paperwork".

All I have to do is submit the DBA paperwork to Tarrant County and then advertise in the classified section for four weeks that I am starting a business. Total cost for that is under $20.

What are my hopes for the business? Incredibly low. If I make $100 a month that would be peachy.

The spark that kicked this off was what a pilot friend of mine was going through this week. His laptop was having software issues. I helped him a little and showed him the way to repair. He couldn't get it going. The Geek Squad at Best Buy wanted $150 just too look at the computer. Crazy! I had him up and running with just a 20 minute in person consultation in the crew room at the airport. People pay way too much for computer repair and advice.

My business will mostly focus on simple (to me) computer repairs/upgrades, network design (wireless/wired), and consultation services (mostly for small businesses).

Over the next week I am going to order business cards, letterhead and design the website. I will also look at basic legal disclaimers used in the industry to cover my rear. On the same note I am going to look at bonding services. I think the total start up cost will be just under $200.

This could either turn out really nicely...or be a waste of $200. Eh....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Moving Kelli into my world and vice versa

Years ago I swore I would never visit Oregon, live with dogs, drive of foreign car, have kids or own a Mac. All are no longer true (well the kid thing is in the works) Kelli has changed me. She had nothing to do with owning a Mac....still don't know how that started.

A year ago Kelli was getting by with a basic cell phone, a decent computer, paper books and an aging XM satellite receiver in her Prius. She was an average American. As of right now Kelli has a smart phone, Macbook, a Kindle and is test driving a Zune MP3 player.

I have a "spare" 8GB Zune. No need to discuss where it came from ( or when it arrived (two weeks ago) or why I have two (?????). I have two. My main one is 80GB. I love it. I have been throwing stuff on there for over a year. Problem is I will put the player in "random" and get a lot of songs I don't care for. This morning I erased everything and started fresh. The Zune software is uber easy to use so I will have it reloaded with stuff I actually listen to quickly.

The XM receiver in Kelli's Prius is about 4 years old. It's not working so well nowadays. I have been telling her for months to get a Zune. With my Zune Pass ($14.95 a month) I can have up to 3 Zunes filled with as many songs as I want for the regular monthly fee. With the Zune software I can download full albums with one click. I can also download "channels". A channel is simply a play list of a specific genre of music that is updated weekly. I setup the Zune Kelli is testing to update wirelessly. All she has to do is hit "update" on the Zune while she is home (won't work outside the house) and it will contact the main computer running the Zune software, go online and update the channels stored on the player.

In addition to all the music I can download, I also get 10 free songs each month. These 10 free songs are mine forever. I can burn them to a CD (don't know why I would) or put them into a video (I can see this happening). If I ever cancel Zune service I keep these songs for life.

If Apple ever switched to a Zune Pass model I might switch to an Ipod. For's Zune.

Kelli has had one day with the Zune and really enjoyed it. I filled it with all kinds of music I would never listen to. She was happy.

Over the last 7 years we have both changed each other....I think her alterations on me are bigger. No phone, Zune, or computer of mine has ever stained the carpet. Oh and I don't find pieces of electronics in the lint screen in the dryer. But I digress.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Still don't have Blueray?

Blue-ray movies are amazing IF they are played on a system that is set up correctly. In order to truly enjoy a blue-ray movie the movie must be shown on a HDTV attached via HDMI to a Blue-ray player and hopefully surround sound.

Until recently Blue-ray players were prohibitvely expensive. This is much like DVD players used to be. I still remember my first DVD player. I bought it during Christmas 1997. I was driving back to Nacogdoches from Houston. Compusa had DVD players on sale for 1/2 price..."just $220". I stopped by a Compusa in North Houston as soon as they opened. Sold out quick. Bummer. I then hit the road for Nacogdoches. On the way I stopped by a Compusa in Lufkin, Texas. Apparently East Texas had no interest in DVD players as there was a stack of them sitting there. I snagged one. Nice.

With Blue-ray I wated until the prices came down and we had a TV worthy of Blue-ray. I did my research and bought a Samsung BD-P2500. Why this player? Well it's a profile 2.0 player meaning in addition to being able to play blue-ray movies, it can go online for more content AND it can stream Netflix movies over the net straight to the TV. I bought it last Christmas. The best price was $380. I paid $270 by using a coupon from

Now there are Blue-ray players for UNDER $100. I predicted the major drop and price last year (read it here). The player is from Magnavox and available at Wal-Mart (only in-store not online). As long as you have a HDTV and an HDMI cable (with a compatible TV) you are good to go.

Speaking of HDMI cables, don't overpay. I bought mine from for under $9 a piece. Monster Cables sells HDMI cables for $80+. Not worth it. HDMI is digital. Digital is 1's and 0's. Digital transmissions are not affected by radio magnetic interference. I bought some HDMI cables for my in law's TV a few weeks ago. I used it to connect up their cable box. My father in law couldn't tell a picture difference, but he saw right away how much faster the channels changed. The reason? HDMI cables can carry more data faster.

With Blue-ray players finally under $100, hopefully Blue-ray movie prices will fall. I still buy a HD-DVD movie from Fry's every now and then for $5-$10. My most recent purchase as A Clockwork Orange. Very interesting movie.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Konecto, Netbooks and Tax

So Kelli and I woke up this morning ready to buy vinyl "wood look" flooring. After a trip to Home Depot we were set. Then we stopped by a flooring store (CarpetOne) to compare brands. Glad we did. The manager gave us a ton of information. We were just about settled on a laminate floor that had one of the thickest top protective layer of any laminate wood. He took his time and we were just about set. On the way out I asked about a product Kelli and I looked at last year from Karn Dean. He then told us the advantages of it, and the disadvantages. Near the Karn Dean products were other laminate "like" products. We mentioned the product we were looking at Home Depot (the TrafficMaster Allure) and he showed us a similar product from Konecto. The Konecto product was slightly more expensive than the Allure product, but it felt to be much higher quality. The Konecto product had more texture and looked better. The installation is just as easy. We decided on the Konecto Heritage which is a medium red oak color. Total cost was $2.99 a sq foot including tax. That's about $0.25 more a squarefoot than the Allure product (after tax) and $1 a square foot less than "real" laminate flooring from Wilsonart.

The product is coming from north Dallas so we should be able to pick it up from CarpetOne next week. Total install time should be under 5 hours. If we like the product then we will likely install the product throughout the house.

So I picked up overtime yesterday (I feel guilty about it, but that's a whole different topic) and flew to Pittsburgh and back. Overtime at my job isn't time and a half. Instead it's time and twenty percent. Yeah...nice eh? The good thing is any time I fly on a day off it's overtime. I could literally never fly on my work days (which are currently reserve days) and still get overtime. The overtime yesterday was 5 hours 25 minutes at a pay rate of $33.38 an hour + 20% or $220.30. Not a horrible amount for sitting in plane. Of course the captain I flew with would have been paid $646.80 for the same trip....but eh.

With the money I am pondering buying a netbook. Why? Well I spent a lot of time sitting around the airport. I also travel alot. I love my Macbook Pro. I wish Apple made a netbook (rumor is they might). Netbooks offer enough power for what I do at the airport and on the road. Most of the time I surf the net, blog, watch Netflix movies, and play REALLY basic non-3D games ( being the most played). If Kelli had lasted till now with her old laptop, she would be just fine with an upper end netbook (upper end being the $350-$400 range).

Netbooks don't have optical (CD/DVD drives), can't do high-end 3D graphics, and have much smaller screens than laptops. On the plus side they are light (most under 3 pounds), have fantastic battery life (models I am looking at have real world 7-9 hour batteries) and are 1/4 the price of my Macbook Pro.

One concern I have is the small size and my HUGE hands. My hands are so huge I can palm a basketball (meaning hold a basketball in one hand with my palm facing down!). I have read a ton of reviews (me research things....crazy eh?) and found models from HP, Asus and Toshiba offer the best keyboards.

I stopped by Fry's and Best Buy today to try out the keyboards. They all felt great with Asus and Toshiba being the best. The Toshiba model sports a 10 inch screen WITH a full size keyboard. The Asus keyboard is 92% full size.

That being said I get nice discounts on an array of products through my employer. I priced several netbooks from Dell, HP and Toshiba using my discount. With the discount (at most 8%) the prices are all below prices. After damn tax they all rise above or are the same. Booo tax!

I might wait on buying a Netbook as new models with Windows 7 might be out in October. Of course October is 3 months away and I am Mr. Impatient. Eh.

The Captain I flew with yesterday was a hoot. He has been with the airline for 20 years. Most guys I fly with that have been here that long are burned out. Not this guy. When we arrived in Pittsburgh we both headed up to the terminal for food. One couple, who was waiting to board, told the Captain they would be flying to Texas to look at houses as they were moving to Frisco (a suburb of Dallas). They then asked if there would be chips and guacamole served on board as we were flying to Texas. While I was in line at Au Bon Pain, he briskly walked past toward the main food court. In Pittsburgh the ONLY food near the AA gate is Au Bon Pain. The rest of the food is literally 200 yards away.

I was in the cockpit setting up the return flight long before he came back. When he arrived he said he had to make a special delivery in the cabin. I assumed he brought the rear flight attendant some food. Negative. He went to the main food court soley to get chips and gaucamole for the couple moving to Frisco. Awesome.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Driving with MyRate from Progressive

Seeing as I drive very little (down to an average of 592 miles a month), I figured I would maximize my insurance savings. For months I have seen the ads for Progressive featuring "Flo".

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We have been with Geico for years. They were cheap....$680 every 6 months. I remember paying over $1100 every 6 months when I was in college.

A week or so ago I hopped over to for a quote. Their website is very high tech. I simply put in our address and it pulled up both of our cars complete with VIN numbers! Kinda scary.

I input our data and was very surprised by the insurance quote.....$501.

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Our rate could be lower if we had "state minimum" coverages. The problem with state minimums is that they are designed to cover damage to an economy car. If we damage a Ford Focus we are likely okay. If we hit a Lexus....we could be sued civilly for more money. As is we have $100,000 in property damage liability. We can hit 2 Lexus and still be fine!

I then bumped up our Underinsured/Uninsured protection as most people either have state minimums or no insurance. There is a place in Arlington that sells insurance policies by the day. Why? Well for the people that never have car insurance except when they need it for license renewal, registration renewal or car inspection. Nice eh?

I signed up for the MyRate program in hopes of saving more money. One problem is that in the state of Texas there is a $27 fee for the device. Not all states allow the fee. The device is free in Oregon for example. If we don't save at least $35 on our next renewal I will be opting out of the program.

As far as rental car coverage I opted out. Instead I am going to setup an ING account where we can put in $30 every 6 months and use that if we need a rental car. In reality we can likely get by with one car for a limited time period if needed.

The MyRate device plugs into the OBD-II port in the car. Mine is located right above a cubby hole. The device partially blocks the hole, but I don't use the space so no big deal.

The device tracks what time I drive and how I drive. The first day I had it I was running late for work. I always keep my clocks on military time. Somehow before I went to bed I switched my alarm clock to normal time and then set to alarm for 4:55.................PM. That never would have happened with military time. Kelli woke up at 5:20 AM. She realized I was still sleeping. I rushed out the door at 5:25AM. The first day being observed and I was running late. I didn't speed and made it to work on time.

I assume the device communicates via cellular technology. It only communicates when the vehicle is turned on. There is a large wealth of information and charts I can view online. Here are a few.

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Progressive assigns risk levels to driving times, below is a chart showing my drive from Albertsons to our house after work. I was driving during a "medium" risk time.

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I think Kelli's Prius isn't eligible due to the hybrid system cycling the engine on and off. Would be nice if we could both enjoy possible discounts.

While driving yesterday I mentioned to Kelli that I wish every insurance company offered the devices and bigger discounts intially for having one. Then the rate a driver paid would be directly tied to their driving habits. I know many drivers would opt out as they are aggressive drivers (my father in law comes to mind) or don't want "big brother" watching them. It would be nice if the device had a GPS device to track the vehicle in case of theft. Allegedly the device does not track GPS location. Boo.

We will be laying our first vinyl flooring soon. We were going to do my office, but changed our minds as my office is full or crap. Instead we will do what might become the room for our offspring. The room has been mostly cleaned out by myself. The room is 11X12 plus a 2X4 foot entry way. Total cost will be $305 for the flooring plus $40 in supplies. We will start the process tomorrow and likely finish sometime next week. Our friends Jodi and Chelsea installed the same product and love it. The product is made by Trafficmaster and called Allure. We went to Lowe's to compare prices, but they carry and inferior product at a much cheaper price.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Is my head really too big?

I spent the night in Cleveland last night. Nice overnight hotel. The thermostat is a liar. I have stayed in this hotel at least 20 times over the last year. I set the room to 65 degrees. The air conditioning system cycles on and off like it's maintaining 65 degrees. My atomic clock/thermometer states otherwise!


On the way back the Captain had to use the restroom. Policy requires two things. One, another crew member (almost always a flight attendant) come up and stand in the cockpit while he is gone. This is to allow her to open the door in case I pass out while he is gone. Two, I have to wear a full face oxygen mask while he is gone. This mask is very uncomfortable. It doesn't fit my head/face. After the Captain was back in the cockpit I snapped a self portrait wearing said mask.


If anyone wants to fly a ticket before Wednesday at midnight. Southwest airlines launched a fare sale. Highest one way ticket is $90! American Airlines matched the fare. This means if you want to go from Dallas to Las Vegas the round trip fare can be as low as $190 on American (non-stop) or Southwest (one or two stops). Seattle to Miami? $190 round trip. Nutty.Travel is from September 9th thru November 18th. Anyone up for a trip to Vegas?

The computer I built for my dad arrived. A hard drive power cable became loose in shipment. I had to walk him through reconnecting it. Nothing major. It works, but now he has Internet issues. I am trying to get him to order Uverse.

I REALLY want a Netbook. American Express had a nice one on sale today for $199. I didn't win it. I have my eye on a few other models.

Windows 7 is amazing. I actually ordered two copies for $49 a piece from Amazon. Anyone running XP or Vista....I high suggest you order Windows 7. I think it's the best version of Windows ever. Truly stable and easy to use. Nothing like Vista.

The dogs are still alive.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Damn Victor and his rutabagas

So while driving around this weekend with Jami, Kelly, and Haley I listened to near non-stop childrens music. One song stuck in my head, Victor Vito by Laurie Berkner. Here is the video from Youtube.


It's quite catchy. I downloaded all Laurie Berkners CD's to my zune collection. Speaking of Zune I am getting mine back again. The manager of a Starbucks next to where I left it called me last week. Someone gave it to her and she called me to see about returning it. She will be back at work this week. This is the third time I will be getting it back!

Wood floors. Kelli has wanted wood floors and granite counter tops for years. Her brother Bryan is getting them installed in his house this week. Once Kelli learned he is getting them she had to have them. While in California our friends Chelsea and Jodi told us about a product they installed themselves called Allure (click here for the product on Home Depot's site). We might try to install them this weekend.

Till then.....
Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco
Ate a burrito with Tabasco.
They put it on their rice.
They put it on their beans.
On their rutabagas and on their collard greens.

Hey Victor,
Hey Freddie,
Let’s eat some

Hey Victor,
I’m ready
To eat some
Spaghetti with Freddie.

Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco
Moved from El Cerrito all the way to Alaska.
Oh, they ate their rice.
They ate their beans.
They ate their rutabagas and they ate their collard greens.

Hey Victor,
Hey Freddie,
Let’s eat some

Hey Victor,
I’m ready
To eat some
Spaghetti with Freddie.

Oh, Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco,
They like to eat slow.
They never eat fast.
Oh they ate their rice.
They ate their beans.
They ate their rutabagas and they ate their collard greens.

Hey Victor,
Hey Freddie,
Let’s eat some

Hey Victor,
I’m ready
To eat some
Spaghetti with Freddie.

Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco
Like to eat fast.
They never eat slow.
Oh, they ate their rice.
They ate their beans.
They ate their rutabagas and they ate their collard greens.

Hey Victor,
Hey Freddie,
Let’s eat some

Hey Victor,
I’m ready
To eat some
Spaghetti with Freddy.

(“One more time!”)

Hey Victor,
Hey Freddie,
Let’s eat some

Hey Victor,
I’m ready
To eat some
Spaghetti with you!

Glad we took the red eye

Overall we had a very nice weekend getaway. We will never again travel on a major US Holiday using my travel benefits. If we have to travel we will be like *normal* people and buy *real* tickets.

The house we stayed at was amazing. Attention to detail and just "wowness" throughout.

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Saturday morning we woke up around 7AM. We all vegged around until shortly before 10AM when we began our trek to San Francisco. In order to save money and time we decided to park at a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station and take the train to the city. The drive was a little more than an hour. During the trip Haley, my niece, took off her sandals. I never knew kids feet could smell so....powerfully. I was sitting next to Haley and spent a good 5 to 10 minutes watching her smell her feet and then asking Kelli and I to also smell her feet.

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A few minutes away from the station, Jodi and Chelsea called letting us know they were close by. They were going to the game with us so we all met up at the same BART station.

BART is not as user friendly or as nice as the transit stations in Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. or New York. We managed to get tickets to the station we thought was REALLY close to the stadium. We arrived Embarcadero station and then had issues. We thought we could easily walk to AT&T park. Well it was 12 blocks away. After about 5 minutes of walking around with mass confusion, I bought tickets for all of us to ride the "Muni" from Embarcadero to AT&T park. Round Trip tickets were only $3.50 a piece. The "Muni" is another train system located in the same Embarcadero station, but it separate from BART. Yeah...we were confused.

We made it to the game at the bottom of the 1st inning. Our seats were up high, but we had a great view.

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About two weeks ago I read that the only stadium food worth buying was the garlic fries at AT&T park. I bought a plate for each of us. They were quite good. The fries were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and covered in garlic. Awesome.

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The temp outside was not too hot. The breeze was nice. As far as the game, the Giants ruled. The game went by very quickly.

We all made our way to Fisherman's Wharf and ate dinner. I had more garlic fries.

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While walking back I had one of those amazing thoughts that often run through my head. If someone told me 7 years ago that I would marry a democrat and then travel to San Francisco to attend a ball game and eat dinner with 2 lesbian couples.....I would have laughed them out of the room. But there I was....and I was okay with it. I will say having someone in the family who is gay has opened my eyes quite a bit. The stereotypical lesbian that was in my head is no where close to how most lesbians are. My sister in law and her girlfriend are just everyday women. Jodi and Chelsea are also normal everyday people. The fact that they are lesbians is so far back in my head that I forget....until I see them kiss or hold hands....then I'm like..."oh yeah....". My sister in law, Jami,  is doing an amazing job raising my niece Haley. I might be biased, but I think Haley is incredibly intelligent for being just 2 years old. Her vocabulary is way larger than other two year olds and her level of thought and reason is also advanced. Jami's current (and hopefully final) girlfriend Kelly is very nice and much more....hmmmm....grounded and "normal" than Jami's ex-wife. Kelli and I haven't had an odd or bad thing to say about Kelly yet....well beyond Kelly giving Jami her Iphone instead of giving it to me.

We started heading back around 6PM. On the way back to the car to get our stuff, Kelli and I discussed our options for getting home.

There was a red eye flight leaving at 12:20AM. The flight was booked pretty full with only 8 empty seats (all in First Class) while coach was overbooked by 5. There were a 6AM flight with 8 open seats and a 7AM flight with 12 open seats. We discussed simply going to a hotel and getting a morning flight. But why waste the money?

We decided to go for the red eye! The trip to the airport took an hour. We arrived at the gate and had 4 hours to waste. The gate area was very cold. Kelli was freezing. I had my nice warm Macbook Pro to keep me warm. Normally Kelli brings a jacket along.....not this trip. After an hour she broke down and bought a San Francisco sweatshirt.

I kept an eye on the load for the red eye. About an hour out First Class only had 4 empty seats (coach passengers were upgrading). Coach had over 20 empty seats. A lot of people were going to miss the flight.

Ten minutes to midnight we were sitting in First class aisle seats across from each other. Kelli was asleep as soon as the main cabin door closed and didn't wake up until we arrived in Dallas, 3 hours later. I was awake for most of the flight. I had a night cap and a cookie to put me to bed. I think I slept for an hour.

The flight crew had an interesting schedule. All they did was fly a 9:50PM flight out of DFW to San Francisco and then one flight back. That's it. They were all on the employee bus with us after the flight. This would be ideal if we had kids a kid. I could put the kid to bed, fly a trip and still be home when the kid woke up. Hmmmmm.

We landed at 5:20AM. By 5:45AM we were in my car driving home. We went to bed at 6:10AM and woke up around noon. I checked the morning San Francisco flights. The 6AM flight cancelled! No employee non-revs left on the first 3 flights and would likely not leave at all! Good thing we took the red eye. I left for work at 1:15PM. I am now sitting airport standby till 10PM.

The weekend was very nice.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Never again will we travel on a major US Holiday

This was typed up while sitting in a coach seat. The formatting is a little funny as the cut and paste from Microsoft Word to my blogging software didn't go very well.

Never again will I travel on a major US holiday. Never.
A month or so ago my wife asked if I had July 3rd and 4th off. Lucky for her the line I was awarded gave me those two days off. With that said she planned a trip for us to attend a San Francisco Giants game with her sister.
We kept an eye on the flight loads for the night of the 2nd and the morning of the 3rd. With all of the fare sales recently all the flights were really full with just 5 to 10 seats open per flight. In addition to all the paying passengers, there were a lot of non-revenue passengers looking for a way out as well.
The day of the 2nd I was assigned to be available from 10AM till Midnight for a reserve assignment. I knew I would likely not get called.  My wife took the day off and spent the day watching flights. At one point she was monitoring 5 different destinations and all preceding flight loads!
I spent the morning building a computer for my dad. By 3PM I was done. I shipped it off via FEDEX. FEDEX  gives an awesome discount to my airline (likely all airline employees). After my travel benefits, the FEDEX discount is the next best perk!

Once I was back home my wife picked out the best option. A flight close to my sister in law. A direct flight to my sister in laws house was the next best option. The flights were full…but were our best options.
The first flight was to leave at 7:05PM. We arrived at the gate. We were very far down on the list. It left full. The direct flight was supposed to leave at 8:05PM. I made a quick dash to a ticket counter and bought a ZED fare for my wife. This was to be used as part of a backup plan.
We made our way to the 8:05PM gate. Once we sat down they changed the gate to a gate near the 7:05PM flight. Hmmm this  would end up helping us. Whenever an airline changes gates people don’t listen. They make several announcements over and over again and people will still miss the flight. I have watched people sit 10 feet from the counter and still miss the announcement and then the flight. Amazing.
After arriving back at the gate we started checking loads again. Things were looking okay. Boarding started.  Halfway through our names were called along with all of the standbys. Nine passengers didn’t show up.  We got the last two seats in First Class! We quickly made our way to our seats. Then I got a bad feeling.
The cabin was very warm. Only external air connected. Normally at my airline we fire up the APU a few minutes prior to departure or if the external air can’t do the job. We were AT departure time.  The jet bridge pulled back and the cabin door was closed. I still didn’t have a good feeling. Then it happened. The power went out. Most passengers didn’t notice, as it was still daylight outside. I noticed the emergency lighting system had activated. After about 3 minutes the cockpit door opened and the jet bridge reattached. I heard the Captain tell the flight attendant to de-board. Not good.
Since we were seated in First we were one of the first passengers off. I saw several passengers at the gate talking to a gate agent. The passengers were happy. Why? Because now they would make the flight!
The gate agent advised all standbys that our seats would be pulled and we might not get them back. Over the next 2 hours we waited for the plane to be fixed. We missed a flight to Phoenix we had lined up as a backup because we thought we would make this one. If we didn’t make the flight we would be going back home. While waiting I used Facebook to get load information for US Airways that would end up being our new backup plan. Thanks to my connections from ATP, I have friends at regional’s serving all major airlines. He let me know that we had a good chance of getting on a flight from Phoenix to San Francisco or Oakloand the next day if we could make it to Phoenix.
As boarding finished there were 3 passengers who were still missing. My wife and I were #2 and #3 to get seats. Right at the last minute three twenty something’s came running from a bar and onto the plane. Doh!
We had the gate move our reservation to the American Airlines Phoenix flight leaving the next morning. By doing this we would be near the top of the list.
We went back home. This was our first time to not make a flight out. We have had to wait for 2 or 4 flights before getting a seat, but we always got a seat.  After getting back home we worked out the details for our backup plan.  We went to bed tired.
The next day we woke up early and headed to the airport. We normally plan or arrival so we clear security right at boarding time. We didn’t anticipate the super long lines due to the holiday weekend. We made it through 1/3 the way through boarding. We had seats…. along with 52 other non-rev passengers! This flight was one of the very few “open” flights. We weren’t the only ones to figure this out.
After getting to Phoenix we had to head over to the next gate. These security lines were long. I was still in uniform so I zipped through the employee line, “Membership has its benefits”. Kelli had to go check in at the ticket counter since she was using a ZED pass.
She had to wait in the security line for about 45 minutes. Next time I will escort her through the employee line.
Our planned flight to San Francisco left in an hour. We waited by the gate. I used and the US Airways site to check the status and flight times. I noticed the US Airways site was showing a 2-hour delay. Hmmm not good. I then found another flight leaving to Oakland.
We headed over to that gate. I have never jump seated on US Airways and wasn’t quite sure how the process worked.  Thankfully it was pretty straightforward. The gate agent also moved my wife over to this flight as well. Nice.
Twenty minutes prior to boarding we were given seats. Nice. I boarded with the preboarding section and went up to the cockpit to ask permission to jump seat from the Captain. Even though I already had a real seat, it’s still required/polite to ask for a seat.
The Captain was very nice and welcomed me aboard. I went back to stow my suite case and relax. A few minutes later my wife took a seat right in front of me. Nice.
Once we arrived I did my “superman” routine and changed out of my uniform and into normal clothes.
Two friends of ours, Jodi and Chelsea, happened to be in Oakland when we arrived. They were heading up to Sacramento to hang out with my sister in law and her girlfriend. They agreed to pick us up on the way.  We really lucked out as they picked us up and drove us 140 miles away!
This has been a very interesting experience. We will never travel on a major US holiday weekend again. Ugh.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Netflix....good value?

Found a site called that analyzes your Netflix usage. We aren't doing too bad. We pay an average of $2.55 per DVD we watch. I thought we were doing better. We are doing better than 50% of other Feedfliks users. Hmmm. Redbox is just $1 a movie.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lunch with my dad

Yesterday I took advantage of my benefits and flew to Houston to have lunch with my dad.  I'm known for being on time and being able to remember things. This has not been my week.

Monday I lost my Zune for good. I left it in an airport lounge. It has my name and phone number on it. No calls. Nice.

Tuesday morning I thought the flight to Houston left at 8:45AM. I made my way out the door at 7:40AM thinking I had plenty of time. On the way I looked up the departing gate using my phone...that's when I saw the flight left at 8:25AM. Doh!

I made it to the gate with 10 minutes to spare. No biggie.

My dad is still kind of old cell phone. I called him and said I would meet him downstairs at baggage claim. When I dad. Hmm. I walked around a bit looking for his car . While walking outside I heard a car honk...I turned around to see a Silver Hyundai Sonata.....Dad? Yep. Wow.

Growing up my dad always had a full size extended car truck. Let me rephrase that, a full size AMERICAN made extended car truck. Here he was in a Hyundai Sonata? He previously had a Mercury Sable....which while not a truck, is still "American" made.

He drove me up to a BBQ place for lunch. I ate way to much....but it was good.


We then went to Wal-mart as he needed a new printer for his computer. His current printer is 5+  years old and barely functional. I picked out a very nice Canon printer/scanner a crazy cheap $35! Of course ink refills will cost $45 for color and black. Nice.

I installed the printer and then realized how old his computer is. I built it for him a good 4 years ago. It's old. As far as performance it's not bad. It's a 1.8 GHz Celeron, 40 Gig HD but only 512 MB of RAM. That's part of the issue. I'm building him a new computer as we speak.

After installing the printer I install a DVD/VHS combo unit. He bought it months ago. The unit can play DVDs, play VHS tapes, record TV to DVD and copy VHS tapes to DVD. Pretty neat. I connected it up and then we went back to Wal-Mart to buy blank DVDs. To both of our surprise copying a VHS tape to DVD is literally a one button affair! Nice.

About an hour later it was time for me to head back to the airport. About 20 minutes away I realized I forgot my car keys at his house. Back we went. Because of this I would miss the next flight.

When I got to the airport the flight I wanted to catch was still at the gate. Delayed. I still missed it by minutes. No big deal as it was full and I would have been on the jump seat in the cockpit. As it turned out the flight left the gate then  came back for more fuel. The next flight arrived. I ended up getting a row to myself and arrived in DFW just 8 minutes after the "earlier" flight. Nice.

I've only had one other job with really good "perks". My first job out of college was working for Time Warner Cable in Houston. I worked in the high speed internet department. One benefit was free cable, all channels, free high speed internet and 1/2 price pay per view. That was pretty good. Flying for free/almost free is much better.