Friday, December 31, 2010

Mazda American Credit Leases suck.

My Mazda5 is no longer mine. I now own a 2010 Prius. Kelli will drive it....but I will pay for it. Yeah even after almost 9 years ( nine yeeeeeeeeearrrrrrrrrrrrss) together we still keep separate finances. Makes things easier.

My lease payment was due today. I stopped payment of course since...I don't the Mazda anymore.

CarMax offered up a trade in value $600 less than I currently "owe". The dealers final offer was $1500 less than I currently "owe". But it took a while to get there. Upside down. Hmmm.

I had three remaining lease payments of $400 a piece. On top of that the Mazda5 needed tires as the rears were down to the wear bars. The lease agreement requires me to turn the car in with certain tread depths. I would have needed 4 tires by March 31st. Four of the cheapest tires I could get in 205X50X17 (low profile sporty tire) were $120 a piece. Add in mounting and call it $550 for the set. In addition if I turn the car in I have to pay a $375 disposal fee. So out of my pocket in the next 3 months was $1200 in lease payments, $550 for tires and $375 for the lease disposal.....$2125. That's if I turned the car in.

I didn't want the car.

Last night we stopped by Toyota of Dallas. I was VERY skeptical of getting out of there in a good mood. The glitzy ads they run screamed "we will screw you".

To my surprise Sam Albalouli, our salesman, as promised pulled the two Prius models we were interested in right up the the building. They were waiting for us. Kelli and I took a look in each one.

The silver Prius had a dark grey interior while the Blizzard Pearl had a light grey interior. We chose the latter....I liked the exterior more and Kelli liked the interior more.

I took it for a quick test drive. All was great. Inside we went.

First problem. They valued my trade at $3100 less than my balance. No bueno. We decided to sell it to Carmax and pay the $600. It was less than the $2125 I would have to spend if I finished my lease.

My salesman was very nice, but thought we were going to leave and not come back. He asked if we could sign the paperwork before going to Carmax. No way. I stated there was no way I was buying a car before my current one was gone. Murphys law would happen and I would get into a car accident on the way to Carmax.

I stated it would be about 2 hours as we had to go home, get Kelli's car, she follow me to Carmax, sell them my car then come back to the dealership. He was worried.

I asked for a service loaner to drive back. Nope.

Instead he FOLLOWED us to Carmax. This turned out to be a VERY good thing.

Carmax is great. I walked to the counter and handed them the paperwork. I sold them my Cadillac years ago. I was in and out fast. Not this time. With a lease they need a verbal lease payoff. Mazda American Credit won't give it to anyone but me. Additionally they won't let Carmax payoff or buy my car. Carmax will no longer do business with Mazda American Credit.

Mazda American Credit was great until now. The lease is set up that I have to return to a Mazda dealer to terminate my lease. My Acura lease was not this way. I traded out of my Acura lease 3 months early and $900 positive. My salesman from Toyota was shocked at what was going on. We left and he said he would see what he could do.

Back at the dealership. Kelli and I were doubtful this was going to work.

After more negotiation the dealer raised the trade in value to within $1500 of my payoff. The $1500 was still less than the $2125 I would end up paying. Financing negative equity sucks. If I had a traditional loan on the Mazda or had to pay interest on the Toyota I would not have done the deal.

Headed to finance. I got 0% interest for 5 years. Free money. The finance guy tried to sell me an extended warranty, prepaid maintenance, paint protection and tire protection. I was interested in the tire protection until I heard the cost...$400. No way. I actually used the tire protection on my Matrix. It was "included" in the price of that car. Bleh.

We arrived at the dealership at 5PM. We walked out the door at 8:30PM. Not bad all things considered. If it weren't for the Mazda snafu we would have been done earlier.

Today I have the new Prius. I will be taking it to get a new toll tag and then it will belong to Kelli.

As for my "new" 2004 Prius...I will be pimping it out. I am going to order all weather mats right away. I am also going to look into installing an aux input port. Right now Kelli is using the old fashioned tape adapter. That's about it. Might get a rear cargo mat and bumper protector. I will be loading bags in and out of it a lot. The new Prius already has the rear bumper protector.

Being a zero interest loan we have no super incentive to pay it off fast other than to get MY next mega SUV.

Below is an image from Toyota of what color we bought.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's been decided

After a lot of thought....I am buying a 2010 Prius IV....for Kelli. I will take her car. It will mean less wear and tear on her car since my commute is much shorter and I drive much less overall. We will pay the car off in four years.

That's the plan anyway. We are going to Toyota of Dallas tomorrow. They are currently selling all Prius models for $3000 off MSRP or $2000 off MSRP + 0% ARP. We are doing the latter as it saves more money in the long run.

I called the dealership today and talked to a salesman who said it's $2000 off the price on the website which is the same price that's on the car. We found a Blizzard Pearl (white pearl), with a light grey interior for $26,000 after the $2000 off.

Tonight we went to Carmax to get my car appraised. It's currently worth $600 less than I owe on it. Hopefully Toyota of Dallas will appraise it for even money. If not we will decide what to do.

If I continue the lease I till March 31st then I have to buy the car, continue to lease or return the car and pay $375 in disposal fees. So since I'm not going to keep it, $375 is "ok" in our heads to be "upside" down on since I would pay it anyway.

The plan is that 4 years from now I get whatever the hell I want.

That's the plan anyway. There's a 1% chance that we will have a kid in the next 4 years and 50 weeks. So there's that. We will still be paying for daycare in 4 years...hmmm. Bleh.

I just couldn't justify buying ME a new car while Kelli rolls around in a 6 year...almost 7 year old car. At my current rate of driving I will put 24K miles on her car in the next 4 years.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sit back down!

I've bought a few cars in my lifetime. For no reason whatsoever I will list them:

1988 Lincoln Continental (my mom and I bought it at night, in my night clothes when I was 16....huge mistake, horrible car)

1994 Saturn SL2

1996 Saturn SC2

1996 Ford Explorer

1997 Saturn SC2

1998 Cadillac Catera

2003 Toyota Matrix XRS

2005 Acura TSX

2008 Mazda5 Grand Touring

Not at lot....but 9 cars in just 18 years of driving....I know a thing or two.

My last two cars I bought using online negotiation. Easy and fast. For my next car I have been using email as well.

Natali was bored yesterday and wanted to go look at cars. I saw an advertisement for Westway Ford that stated $6000 of MSRP of all Ford Edges. I knew there was a catch, but we were bored.

I told Kelli there was zero chance of me buying a car that day.

We pulled into the lot and walked over to the Edges. I saw the add ons. The add on sticker listed paint sealant, window tinting  and my favorite....a bed liner! None of which was installed (and a bed liner that CAN'T be installed!).

I wanted to see what a realistic price was. We approached the front door, cheesy salesman came out. Told him I wanted a simple price. Already have my financing.

We walked out and I questioned him on the car and add-on sticker. He stated, "The windows are tinted!" I replied..."that's the factory tint". He then peered in the back window, "there might be a bedliner in there." I gave him the WTF look.

He then gave some BS lines about how all dealers add-on stuff. I told him that another dealer I visited had zero add-ons. I then asked for a price.

While walking back inside Kelli and I both had a bad vibe. I already decided once this started to suck we were gone. I know the tricks. No way they are getting my car keys to "appraise" it as that will trap us there.

The salesman told us he had a horrible Christmas because he was going through a divorce and just moved from East Texas where he sold Kias. Why he told us this we do not know.

He tried to do silly salesman tricks about stating he could beat our loan rate ( he can't) or the Carmax trade in value (I truly made up a number!). I just wanted a price.

He walked away for 5 minutes. He came back, "Ok $6,000 off MSRP, let me have your keys so we can appraise your car."

I simply asked, "Ok, so what is the price."

"$6,000 off MSRP," he responded.

"What is the price then." I asked again.

"Whatever the MSRP is it's $6,0000 off of that." he stated.

This went round and around and I stated, "My keys aren't leaving my pocket until I know the price of the car you are trying to sell me."

He began to get huffy and said, "I'm working for you. I only get $200 no matter the cost of the car."

I was done. I stood up and told Kelli we are leaving. This is when the craziness started.

"Sit back down!" the salesman yelled. And I mean yelled.

Kelli got up with Natali in her arms.

"Sit back down!" he shouted at least two more times. Everyone in the small showroom was now watching this happen.

We left. I noticed a well dressed man following us. It was the new car manager.

He apologized for what happened. Short discussion. I stated I had never had that happen before. Done.

Don't think I will be back there.

Still pondering on what to do. Kelli wants me to hurry up as every day delays her next car purchase. I asked her is she could buy ANY car other than a Prius what would it be.....she had no answer. I am 100% willing to get a car we can both enjoy, but all she wants is a Prius. Bleh.

Later we discussed how funny it would have been if Kelli had interjected and said, "Yeah Darren sit back down and buy this damn car!" Maybe next time.

Too bad Don Davis Ford doesn't have what I want, we always had a great experience there.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2011 Ford's got tech

Drove the 2011 Ford Edge last night. It was nice. The Ford My Touch was better than I expected. Lots of techy much I can see it turning off a segment of buyers.

I liked it for the most part. Lots of room. Comfy seats. Kelli was indifferent. I kept prodding her for an opinion...she just said if that's what I want. Meh....Will continue discussions. I am still considering the Optima. It's thousands less with almost as much tech....but in a sedan versus SUV.

The Edge I am looking it is at the extreme end of my limit. One thing that's comforting is it's much less than my brother and sister in law just spent on their I have that going for me.

With the end of the year here there is nothing on TV! All of my tech podcast have taken the rest of the year off. Time to load up the Netflix instant cue!

Our living room has turned into a baby toy minefield. Natali has her toys strewn all about the living room. She's taking after me apparently.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stop reading if you've read this before

Blah, blah, blah. Car, car ,car.

Read some disturbing news. The Kia UVO system might ONLY be offered in the Optima Hybrid or Sportage turbo. Both could be out of my price range.

No bones about it, my next vehicle will have a Microsoft base entertainment system in it be it Ford Sync or Kia Uvo.

Both can easily interface with my Zune or an Ipod. Both can read text messages to me from my phone and I can respond (via preset messages) via a ton more.

The only Fords I consider worthy are a new Ford Fusion Hybrid (there is a $2000 incentive on them now...and for a while), a used 2011 Ford Flex or Edge. That's it. The latter are SUVs. The Flex's don't hold value well apparently as there are several 2010 Limited models with under 20,000 miles for $11,000 off MSRP.

Kelli is growing weary of my decision making. Blah.

Redesigned New URL will be Both will work for a while. No desire to update this site anytime soon.

Our original Xbox 360 (living in my man cave) might be dying. DVD drive is stating all DVDs are unreadable. I know Eric popped in a new DVD drive in his. I might move it to the bedroom and make it a Media Center Extender/DLNA player. I don't play many Xbox 360 games in my man cave anyway.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nice weekend away in Sacramento

Nice weekend in Sacramento....aside from the initial TSA issue.

Natali did great on both flights. She was a little fussy on the second flight, but settled in fine. Traveling with her new car seat is more difficult. I bought a collapsible hand truck and bungee cord. Worked fine until I got to the plane. The seat is so big I have to carry it above the seats. Eh. We sat in the back on one flight (annoyingly long walk!) and the front on the other flight. Better.

Natali has flown on 12 flights and just under 15,000 miles. On our flight back the lady behind us had a 2 year old that was screaming and laughing loudly the entire flight. The worst part was when the lady did nothing to stop the kid from forcefully opening and closing the try on the back of Kelli's chair over and over again. Kelli and I think Natali will be much more behaved as she will likely have flown on 40+ flights and 50,000 miles by the time she is 2 years old.

My brother in law and his wife bought a 2011 Honda Pilot Touring...4WD. Nice SUV. They did get a little screwed though. They Touring has Nav. The Nav in their's wasn't working because the DVD inserted is older than a previous disc. Once I saw the error message I knew what happened. Their Pilot was newer than an older Pilot that was sold at some point. The buyers of the older pilot wanted a newer DVD so the dealer took the NEWER DVD out of my brother in laws Pilot and put it in the other pilot and took the older DVD and put it in his. I wouldn't have bought the car with a non functioning nav unit, but they are young. It's a nice SUV, Eric and Angela bought one a few months ago. Had very few miles on it but they saved a ton of cash.

While in Sacramento our friends Jodi and Chelsea stopped over. Their daughter is two weeks younger than Natali. I will discuss more about the two on ByrdintheOven at some point today. Right now I am discussing their new ride, a 2011 Toyota Highlander Limited.

The Highlander competes against the pilot. The Pilot is more "in yo face tough can go into the woods" while the Highlander is more "upscale SUV that can do very light duty". While headed to breakfast Kelli said something that tipped me off that she liked the Highlander.

I quickly pulled up the page and let Kelli know the Highlander Limited (which Jodi and Chelsea bought) has more equipment than the Pilot but cost about $6K less. She didn't comment. We talked about it on the flight back. The vibe I get from Kelli is, if I get a new car it should have  a hatchback and not a trunk. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Not eating out....

I never really thought about how much Kelli and I ate out....until we stopped.

Over the last 10 days we have eaten every meal at home or made from food at home (Kelli brings her lunch to work)...except once. Friday night we went to Hooters. Beyond that...every meal. It's amazing how much less we eat...and better we feel. My pants even fit better.

This has helped MY budget as I am spending less on gas. Being off work means I drive more. I am buying gas once every 10 days versus once every 20 days. Big difference.

I've been eating a lot of pasta. Pasta with simple marinara. Pasta with olive oil. Plain pasta with crushed red pepper. Cheap and filling. I also have been eating a few Smart One's and Lean Cuisine meals. Still not sure what we are going to do when Natali starts eating regular food. I am sure I can cook for her, but I wonder how we will explain why Kelli is eating something different. Ha!

Ordered a bunch of Christmas photos for my dad today of Natali. We went to Kiddie Kandids. Never again. Huge ripoff. I ordered the prints from Snapfish. Painless. Tomorrow I am going to order Christmas cards to mail out. I can design them online and pick up at Walgreens down the street. They have pick up options for Walmart, Walgreens and Meijer (a yankee store). Very nice.

Time to renew our auto insurance. Progressive MyRate (now known as SnapShot) is going to save us $198 a year. I am saving 15% while Kelli is saving 18%. Total premium for 6 months is just $412. Helps that Kelli's car is older...and the thing I have has sliding doors.

Kelli wants me to like my car. She doesn't like my car. I offered to pay my car off in 2 1/2 years, give it too her and trade her car in. She didn't like that idea. Bleh.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holding pattern

So my heart was broken yesterday...kinda.

So thru some negotiating via email I talked the local Toyota dealer down from $30,980 to $26,250 for a 2010 Prius IV (there are 5 levels...IV is ...well only topped by V). It has leather, nav, heated seats...everything but a sunroof. Nice car. I put that on the burner.

I still love the Kia Optima. I found out some bad news...the awesome radio that is based on the same technology as Ford Sync....won't be available until early 2011. Bummer. It's a deal killer for me. If I am going to BUY a car to keep...I gotta be totally happy. So a new car is on hold for a bit. Really bummed. Cue to violins....I'll get the cheese for my wine.

It's not easy being Kelli

I sometimes wonder what people think we then see Kelli and I interact. Not that knowing would change anything. I am curious.

Even after almost NINE YEARS.....Kelli and I are still getting to know each other. We each keep wondering when the other will "break" of certain habits. For example, when presented with a tense situation or the need to make sure information is conveyed quickly I will talk in a calm but stern voice. This stems from being a pilot. When crap hits the fan information needs to be exchanged in a clear and concise manner as efficently as possible. Kelli hates this. She thinks I am talking down to her. It upsets's who I am. I remind her I am not talking down to her, but when Natali is screaming in Kelli's lap, I want to make things as clear as possible.

On the flip side. Kelli has a habit on answering "yes" to an either/or question. When Kelli is watching Natali and Natali is upset, I will ask, "Do you want me to make Natali a bottle OR do you want to try something else?" Kelli will answer, "yes". Another situation is, "Do you want McDonalds or a Plasma TV?" The answer again is "yes". She will follow up with, "wait what?". Ugh. Always done it....always will.

There are lots of differences between us. But it works. Speaking of work....relationships take work. Kelli and I have had out pitfalls over the years. Each time we get to ground zero we realize we needed more communication. Of course sometimes there is too much communication. Turns out Kelli could have lived her entire life not knowing that I don't mind sucking the boogers out of Natali's nose. I find it less irritating than using my fingers or paper towel. The look on Natali's face is worth it as well.

I am Mr. Wishwashy when it comes to what to do with my car. A few months ago I said I would keep it. Now I look at the numbers and think "After all said and done I will have paid $30K for this thing. Eh. Kia Optima or Prius are what I am looking at. Both around $25K. I can't fathom spending much more on a car.....until I am 40.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mac attack

Every 2 years or so I upgrade my dad's computer. Normally it's my previous computer. Thing is...I haven't built a computer in....2 years.

So I got to thinking. Each time I go visit my dad, his computer is slower and slower....all kinds of crap is installed. Mac time.

At first I was going to buy him a used Imac/Mac mini....around $400. Then I realized those Macs are G4/G5 units....which can't run most modern Mac software. So I started looking at a new Mac Mini/Imac.

An Imac starts at $612 via Amazon. Add in an Apple Keyboard and Mouse....$720. Buying a monitor....almost $900. Hmmmm. An IMac is $1100 ish...and includes the keyboard, mouse and monitor. A lot of money. Would be nice to buy my dad something nice....that will last a long time.

Throwing it on the barbie. Might just get the Mac Mini.....hmmmm.....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

American Express.....Membership Has It's Privileges

I love my American Express card. Mostly because it's a Starwood Preferred Card that allowed us to have 5 nights free in Tokyo + free hotels in several other cities last year. I use it for everything and pay it off ever month.

A few months ago my Apple Time Capsule died. Right after the warranty expired. I was sad...and was a $300 purchase! I have since learned Apple Time Capsules are known to fail. A few were recalled....not mine.

Then a few days ago the subwoofer in my car stopped working. I was bummed. Then I thought...."Didn't I buy both with an American Express Card in January 2009??!??!"

Sure enough I did! American Express automatically adds one year warranty to ANY purchase with the card. I filed two claims Sunday night. This morning I was credited for BOTH purchases! It would have been better to get replacement items, especially since I bought both at a steep discount. Getting a credit is fine. I won't be replacing the Time Capsule. I'm not sure on the subwoofer though.

Found a Zune 120 on Craigslist for $100. I am happy again. Kelli is returning the Zune HD. Would have been nice. But I like the space of the Zune 120.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Zune Graveyard

I bought my first Zune several years ago. A nice 80 gig model. Loved much so I got Kelli a 8 GB Zune (to eventually save money by canceling XM). She loved it. About a year ago I broke the data connector on the 80 gig Zune. I was bummed. I bought a 32 GB Zune HD. Loved it. Bought Kelli a 32 GB Zune HD for Christmas. She loved it as well as she played games, watched movies and listened to music. Then about 5 months ago I dropped my Zune HD while walking into the house. Dead. I then found a  120 GB Zune on Craigslist. The 120 GB Zune is rare....the one I found was even more rare as it was red. I loved it. Then last week Kelli washed my jeans....with my Zune in it. I tried emergency rice surgery (placing electronics that are soaked in a bag of rice *might* save them). I took it apart and let the rice soak up the water. After two days it powered on...but displayed an error message. Dead.

Zune 120GB go for $350+ on Amazon as they are rare. I paid just $100 for mine from someone who didn't know better. Kelli ordered me a 32 GB Zune HD....I dunno. It will be nice to have a HD again...but eh. I will think about it long and hard before opening it up.

Besides that, my subwoofer in my car died last week. Still haven't fully investigated why. I did do some research and found that since I bought it with an American Express card, I get a free extra year of warranty! I also realized that my Apple Time Capsule that died was purchased at the same time, also under the extra year of warranty. I filed a claim, will see what happens.

Not sure about the backyard camera. I might have to go with traditional cameras. If I do I will have to wait until our tax return comes back. The camera I have back there now has a very narrow viewing angle. Traditional cameras have a better picture and wider angle.

Kelli is pushing "firmly" for me to keep the Mazda5.

Bought a new remote control for the living room. It's so easy to use my mother in law can use it. It truly combines all the remotes into one. One button labeled "watch TV", turns the TV on, the cable box on and the surround sound on. Simple icons for our favorite TV channels. Same thing happens for watching a DVD/Blueray. One button turns on the DVD player, switches to the correct input. Close to nirvana.

Monday, November 22, 2010

LA Trip

Took a day trip to Los Angeles Saturday for the LA Autoshow. First....I miss flying. Love staying home with Natali....but I miss flying.

Great day. Spent 4 1/2 hours walking around the show. Double my average time. Like a kid in a candy store.

The trip showed my The VW CC is not really a car for me. The CC sits much lower than I thought.

I did REALLY like the 2011 Kia Optima. Yeah I said it...a Kia.

The 2011 Optima is an entirely different car. Nothing in common with the 2010 beyond the name (which I think should have been changed as there is not much street cred in Optima).

When I saw the photos on line, I thought they were just being generous. Nope. The styling is very masculine and tech. The features on the car blow away anything available on the Camry, Accord, Altima etc. Only the Hyundai Sonata (which shares everything under the skin on the Kia) can compare. I previously blogged about the Sonata....but now that the Optima is

Heated and Cooled seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, dual sunroofs with power covers, 34 MPG highway, french stitched leather seat, faux leather dashboard, dual climate control....the list goes on. The Optima has more features than the new Acura TSX....for less money. The base Optima has the same amount of horsepower as the TSX...the turbo Optima is within a few ponies of the V6 TSX. For less money.

Now I know...."You said you were keeping the Mazda5". Yeah I know. Bleh. I don't know.

Chevrolet also had a few Volts on the floor that were powered on. The Volts interior was more tech than I thought they would be. The menu systems were very snappy (the Ford MyTouch system was VERY the point of being distracting!). I guess I never paid attention in the past, but the Volt is only a 4 seater. Most mid-sized sedans can't hold more than 4 adults anyway.

Beyond the Optima and Volt, I still like the Toyota Venza. Who knows.

While flying out to Los Angeles I noticed I was no longer labeled as being able to sit in the cockpit jump seat. This is likely due to the fact that I am on leave. Kinda sad though....also makes travel slightly more complicated.

Got the backyard camera in. Went with a different manufacturer than the porch camera mostly because the daytime colors are off quite a bit on the porch camera. The backyard camera is a FosCam....and it's beefy. Should be able to position it in the corner and get a view of the entire yard.

This will be the 6th camera. I am still loving my software from Blue Iris. The guy that writes the software updates often and is very receptive to issues. Well worth the $60 I paid for it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bad neighborhood

Apparently my websites live in a bad neighborhood. Tuesday afternoon began a 2 day headache. I was cutoff from all of my blogs. Just my blogs. That's it. If I connected via my T-Mobile phone/hotspot....all my blogs worked. AT&T was cutting me off from my sites.

I checked routers, firewalls, HOSTS files...all were fine. I tried using network tools (Trace Route, Ping and such) to find the problem.  I could tell the issue was outside my network. I just had to convince AT&T of such.

Multiple phone calls, literally hours on hold. Nothing. Till Thursday morning. AT&T finally told me my sites were blacklisted. is a blacklisting company. AHBL and GoDaddy have been feuding for years. Apparently there are a few sites that the AHBL doesn't care for that share space with my blogs. Rather than blacklist individual sites, AHBL blacklist the entire IP address/server. Ugh.

GoDaddy could do nothing for me. AHBL could do noting for me. AT&T could do nothing for me. Somehow all of my request did something...maybe.

To try and fix my own issue I moved from Linux to Windows hosting. That broke EVERYTHING.  I then moved back to Linux....and somehow everything is running.

I am still planning on moving.

Done with rant.

The porch camera is awesome. It is setup to view about 2 1/2 feet from the front door so it gets anyone walking up and a face shot. I might get a smaller camera pointed to see the front door and any packages. Next up is back yard camera. Don't ask why.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kinect it

Kelli and I have a new toy. The Microsoft Kinect. The Kinect is a new way of interacting with video games and media. Instead of holding a controller, you simply move. Lots of movement.

We took a trip to Frys so I could pick up a new cable for my new security camera (more on that in a bit) and happened to see a Kinect demo. I knew a lot about it, but Kelli didn't. Once she saw how easy it was too use (two kids were using it) she liked it. We bought one.

Very easy too set up, but it needs A LOT of room. We have a good 12 feet between the TV and couch, it's barely enough room for two people to play. The device scans the area and shows on the screen how many people can play. I think I can mount it to the wall, rather than on the entertainment center, and get another foot or two of playable area.

Kelli and I played a Kinect game  for an hour last night and were both in a sweat when done. Lots of jumping, turning, and twisting. Pretty good work out....but fun. We are going to try out two workout games and see how we like them. The Wii workout games were always awkward because of having to hold the controllers in odd ways. The Kinect uses an infrared camera and regular camera to monitor body movements. It's VERY fast and accurate.

I found a steal of a deal on a car seat. I monitor several times a day. To date I have ordered a few things from the links they provide (mostly from Amazon). The deals are all from regular people who love saving money. They find neat coupons, price mistakes or giveaways.

This weekend one of them found that was allowing two promo codes to work at the same time that discounted Britax car seats by 45%! In reality only one should work.

We have been looking at car seats for a while. If we had not known the Britax name we would have passed on the deal. Everywhere we looked the Britax seats were the same price or within $5. We bought a $330 Britax car seat for $180! Free shipping! Awesome. The deal only lasted a few hours before "fixed the glitch". They could have cancelled the orders....but they didn't. They took the loss. was recently purchased by Amazon. Amazon has awesome customer service. The seat arrives Wednesday. Can't wait.

Family. I've never been big on family. Don't really talk to my family much beyond my Dad. Eh. I'm much more involved with Kelli's family. We see her siblings and parents several times a year even though they are spread on on both coast.

My sister in law recently ended her relationship with her girlfriend. They had been dating for a little less then 2 years. I respect my sister in law and her choices....but I'm kinda bummed because I am going to miss hanging out with her girlfriend...she was really funny and laid back. Both my sister in law and her girlfriend deleted their Facebook accounts. Then this morning her girlfriend resigned from a game we have been playing for a while. Guess she's cutting all communication. Sad.

Out of Kelli's siblings Kelli and I do have the longest running relationship....will be 9 years next summer. Nine years. Over 3200 days. We should....hmmm...Kelli should get an award. We are far from perfect. No better than any other couple. We are just both too damn hard headed to leave/give up. It's well known we have little in common. We have had bad times...and good times...and "you're lucky we live in a state that uses death penalty because I would sooo..." times. We work through it. Not easy....especially since Kelli is a tree hugging liberal democrat (instead of a blessed by god Conservative Republican like me). Kelli did remark that if we ever wanted to split up, we could do it in less than the time it takes to watch the average movie. We have sperarate bank accounts. Very little co-mingling of anything. I'd be like Steve Martin in the Jerk:


"And that's the only thing I need is *this*. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray... And this paddle game. - The ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need... And this remote control. - The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need... And these matches. - The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball... And this lamp. - The ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp, and that's all *I* need. And that's *all* I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one... I need this. - The paddle game and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches for sure. Well what are you looking at? What do you think I'm some kind of a jerk or something! - And this. That's all I need"

I have a new security camera. Mounted WAY above the front door looking down. Happy. Two more coming for the backyard soon. Then the system will be complete!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Earning my keep

The odd would have never matched Kelli and I together....she picked me.

Not much in common. She is organized and works at a set pace. I am....more free spirited in where my stuff is and go at a random pace.

Over the last week Kelli "communicated" to me that she is not happy with the state of my stuff.

It's been mentioned before, but I grew up with live in maid service. Not my mom, but a slew of people who lived in my house and cleaned it while my parents worked and the kids were at school. That's my excuse for how "free spirited" I am.

Monday I cleaned up crap table in the living room. Kelli was shocked.

Tuesday. I have a lot of clothes. I get it from my dad. He has a lot of clothes. I could have worn a different shirt everyday and not repeated for over 3 months. Don't judge. Truth be told I wore maybe 15-20 different shirts. Yesterday I finally gave in and donated over 1/2 of my clothes to Goodwill. Kelli was shocked.

Today. There is a desk in our bedroom that was meant to be a place for Kelli to work on paperwork and stuff. It's become a place for my....stuff. Today I cleaned it off as well, leaving just what must stay (networked laser printer, local switch, Ooma phone box....the minimum). Kelli should be shocked.

It's the least I can do....Kelli has paid the mortgage for the last....hmmm....3 1/2 years. Gotta keep my sugar momma happy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's a keeper

Kelli and I had our monthly financial meeting a few days ago. We discussed our current situation as well as future planning. I proposed keeping my Mazda5 and paying it off hopefully in less than 2 1/2 years. Doing to would free up money to pay for other things including my pilot loan.

The loan is currently at a comfy 5.75% interest.....but it's not the tax deductible kind. I currently spend double my current car payment a month in installment payments between my pilot loan, American Express card (paid off in full each month!) and the 2 zero percent interest accounts. Paying those off would free up a lot of cash. We miss our disposable income of yesteryear.

We went over to Wiley (still the longest single, non-stop trip we have ever taken in the Mazda5) last weekend. I did learn that credit unions do not differentiate between a lease buyout and a used car for rates. My main bank (good ol' Bank of America where I have had an account for 16 years....and never gotten a free toaster!) list rates for used cars in the 3 % range and lease buyouts in the 5% range. I looked at my employee credit union rates and they have used car rates for a 2008 model year as low as 4.24%. Happy medium. I applied for a loan yesterday. Once approved I will go ahead and finish the buyout paperwork now. The used car market is very strong right now so I don't see Mazda offering me a lower price at lease end. I applied for a 3 year, but should be able to pay it off in about 26 months. Even two years from now my Mazda will likely have less than 40K miles.

I did remark the other day that I like how "simple" the Mazda5 is. My last two cars had high tech engines and features that would have been expensive to fix. The most high tech thing on my Mazda are the headlights. They are motorized (for leveling) HID units. Beyond that, it's a basic (albeit nice) car. I plan on keeping my car until 2015....when Natali will be 5 (out of day care!) and my car will be 7.....almost 8 years old.

While over in Wiley two friends who were there were discussing wanting a new car. They currently have a Nissan Pathfinder and the back seat is a little tight for two car seats (they have twins). A Mazda5 could suit them well. Two car seats would easily fit in the second row Captain chairs. Plenty of room in the back for groceries and stuff. They scoffed though...because of the sliding doors. I used to be a little embarrassed by the sliding doors....but they are so useful I don't care anymore. It is a ton easier to put Natali in place while in a tight parking lot in my car than in a traditional car with regular doors. I also like that over the last 18,000 miles I have averaged 26.5 MPG. The highest ever was 29.24 (better than EPA highway....and we don't take highway trips!). The lowest was 22.94...right at EPA city....where most of my driving is done. This is much lower than Kelli's Prius at over 47 MPG average....but my car holds quit a bit more. There is a Prius Multi Purpose Vehicle coming out next year (the three photos borrowed from be Kelli's next car.

We started using the baby monitor more. The unit we bought has a movement monitor as well. It is sensitive enough to measure breathing. If there is no movement for 20 seconds the monitor next to us sounds an alarm. This way we can rest a little easier placing Natali on her stomach. She sleeps MUCH better on her stomach than on her back.

Our Uverse boxes are plugged into the home network. They can pull music off my computers...but not video. Annoying. I would like to watch my video podcast in the bedroom but the TV in there only has a UVerse box. Boo. Cheap option would be a Roku box at $50. Bleh.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Adjusting to her

Before I started my 2 month vacation from work, I assumed I would sit on the couch and watch my video podcast all morning. Take a trip out for lunch/walk and relax. Nah.

Natali dictates what I do. Not that I'm complaining. As previously mentioned we watch Headline News or the local news in the morning. We watch till about 7:30AM and then take a 30 minute to an hour nap. She's normally ready to eat after that. So between 8:30AM and 10AM I feed her, change her and then we play around. She then sleeps from 10AM till around noonish....maybe. At that point I either head out for a short trip or eat lunch and then wait to feed her and head out for a long trip.

She controls me. I'm okay with that.

I am pretty sure our UPS man thinks we are crazy. He has stopped by EVERY day this week with stuff from Amazon. I wanted night lights to light the hallway so I don't forget there are baby gates on each side of the kitchen. Set of four was $6 on Amazon...shipped. Kelli bought the new trash can. I bought a new baby crib mobile. Kelli bought a dog barking device. All from Amazon. It's about time to renew my prime membership. Another $75....but so worth it.

Kelli's little Macbook is 2 years old. Still running just fine. The same could not be said for a 2 year old PC laptop.....without reinstalling Windows at least once. I don't see her replacing it anytime soon. Battery still holds over 95% of original charge. Very nice. I do see my mother in law replacing her IMac with a Macbook some time in the future....maybe even a Macbook Air. She has no need for a huge IMac and being tied to a desk. With a Macbook Air she could literally slip the computer into her purse and head out of the house on a trip, or use the same computer on the couch.

Being reasonable about my lease termination. I got an email that I only have 4 payments left. Even though I lust after a new car, I don't see it happening. Keeping my eye on lease buyout rates. Right now around 5.25%. I'm going to ask my friend in the business if it's possible to get a lease buyout loan from say Bank of America and then refinance it with another company...say E-loan which has refi rates at 3.64%. Hmm. I would like to pay it off in 2 years. Might take 2 1/2 years though. Payoff is $12,700....Hmmm. This way Kelli can get the next new car. Only fair. We are both eyeing a new bigger Prius minivan like vehicle which will debut at the Detroit Autoshow.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kelli and her toys

Growing up my parents kitchen had a nice long center island. On each side of the island was a small trash can. Nothing special. Open air trash can. And all was well.

When Kelli and I moved in together 8 years ago I brought my simple Wal-Mart trash can. It had a lid that flopped in the air. All was well.

Some time ago our trash can was replaced with a fancy foot operated device (Kelli or my mother in law brought it in the house). Nice, but with because it had to be opened via foot pedal one had to walk into the kitchen to use it. With the dog gate in the way, it was annoying. Kelli didn't seem to mind until Natali came along. Suddenly this contraption was a major problem for Kelli.

Now Kelli bought a new fancy infra-red trashcan. Wave your hand or anything infront of it, and it opens automatically.

One would assume I had all the fancy tech stuff.....not so.

Installed a dimmer for the living room. I read the instructions 10 times. Confused. Watched a bunch of youtube videos. Still confused. Decided to wing it. I knew which was the "hot" wire, but there seemed to be an extra wire not present on the instructions or any video. It works. I'm happy because the lights aren't so bright in my eyes, Kelli is happy because there is light.

Been playing my slot machine a bunch lately. I've been "spending" $40 a day. Goes quick....biggest win has been 75 credits. Boo.

Still penciling in a trip to the Los Angeles Autoshow.

Got my final paycheck of the year today. A little scared. I am sure we can make it work. Just might have to tighten out belts. Kelli and I wear big people pants so it should be fine. Still scarry though.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Slowing down

October was a busy month.

I was based in New York City but went on vacations to Los Angeles, California, Las Vegas Nevada, and San Antonio Texas. Kelli and Natali also came up to New York. Crazy. Tiring.

This morning Kelli went back to work. I stayed in bed. Peace at last, peace at last, oh how I love this peace at last.

For the next two months it's the Darren and Natali show. I have plans. In order to have motivation I am going to list them:

1- Purchase two new outdoor security cameras. One for the front door outside and one for the backyard

2 - Clean and USE the man cave

3 - Install a dimmer in the living room

4 - Teach Natali to walk.....or crawl

5 - Exercise

All should be doable. I am betting the dimmer will get installed first.

Kelli is using her Ipad more and more. It's part of her life. She even mentioned that getting an Iphone would make sense since she is used to the interface. Hmmm.

My mother in law Peggy is getting more hip! First she bought an Imac (almost 2 years ago....hasn't had a single problem beyond dead batteries in the keyboard!). Last week she bought a Kindle.

Peggy reads a lot and travels a lot. With her living in Oregon and grandkids in Texas, California and New York....she flies several times a year. I wouldn't be surprised if she travels more than 15,000 miles this year. Prolly more than that.

I bought a Wifi only Kindle. For her I recommended the 3G. This way she can buy a book anywhere without having to worry about finding internet. It's only $50 monthly brainer.

Along with reading there are a few games on the Kindle. Peggy and Kelli love word games. They both play Text Twist often. There is a Text Twist like game on the Kindle. Perfect.

Natali is doing well. She is babbling quite a bit. Not bad for 2 1/2 months. She also appears to enjoy watching TV. She will crane her neck to be able to see TV. Interesting.

It's nice to slow down.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gotta get to Vegas

The National Finals Rodeo is being held in Vegas next week. Same week we are trying to go to Vegas with friends. Could be very tricky. This could test our non-rev travel skills like never before.

Seventeen more days until I am off work for two months. Kelli is eager to get back to work. I am eager to spend more time with Natali.

The new Windows Phone 7 series of phones is very interesting.

The Hyundai Sonata Turbo comes out soon. Very interesting.

Commuting across the country is rough. I woke up at 4:30AM Eastern on Wednesday. Headed to the airport at 5AM. Flew to Minneapolis and then back to New York finishing at 12:20PM. I then ate lunch and hopped on a 2:30PM flight to Dallas. Went to bed at 10:30PM....been up for 19 hours at that point. I might have to head back to New York tonight....or early tomorrow morning. I normally would have the weekend off but I picked up 12 hours of overtime.

Kelli and Natali are planning on coming up to New York Sunday. I am going to take her suitcase with me when I go back so that all she has to bring is Natali, stroller, car seat and diaper bag.

But first....gotta get to Vegas.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kelli doesn't like it so big anymore

Great time at Disneyland. Photos to follow...sometime this week. I have them all on my Macbook Pro...which is in Texas. I am in New York with my netbook.

Great time in Disneyland. We met up with my Sister in law Jami, her girlfriend Kelly and my niece Haley. Lots of walking but we had fun. My niece Haley has finally warmed up to me. Just took 3 years. Likely helps that she see's me every few months.

We all shared a hotel room. Close enough to walk to Disneyland. We ate really fatty foods the entire time. My sister in law Jami did her normal "I'm going to eat healthy" routine. She starts well...and means well. Jami exercises regularly and likely eats healthy most of the time. She's way more fit than I am. Every vacation though her dieting last just a few hours. I always laugh at her. Maybe next time she will stick to her guns.....nah.

Disneyland has a great system in place for parents with kids who aren't able to ride certain rides. One parent waits in line or uses a fast pass and rides the ride. The other parent hangs out with the kid. Then the parents swap. The parent who waited enters the fast pass lane and goes to the front of the line. Simple and fast.

Natali had her own seat on the flight there. Not so lucky on the way back as I held her in my arms. We can hold her until she's 2. After that she needs her own seat. Could get tricky traveling on fuller flights when she is older than 2.

Reading on the Kindle is 10X more enjoyable than the Ipad. Kelli is slightly jealous of my Kindle. Mine is the "small" Kindle which fits in my pants pocket....or her purse. Kelli has the "big" Kindle DX. I mentioned she could give her Kindle DX to her mom and buy a new one (I bought the base $139 version). Of course her mom might not want the big Kindle DX either. Hmmm.

Next trip is Vegas. Until then I'm going to see Minneapolis a few times, Atlanta Georgia, Toronto, Canada and Raliegh Durham.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Alarm companies are shisters

We visited the State Fair of Texas last week. Fried food goodness.

Kelli and like to walk around and look at all the vendors selling stuff. One of our favorite jokes is to say, "Wow they have a  Kitchencraft booth here!" Why? Because there are at least 5 Kitchencraft booths at the fair.

I did stop at Pinnacle Alarm Systems. They had a fancy alarm system on display. The rep was knowledgeable and stated that the inital install was only $99 and then $49 a month for 3 years for monitoring. So $1764 over 3 years!

When I came home I looked up the alarm system they were selling. I can buy the exact same alarm for under $300 ( I can then get monitoring for $8 a month. The alarm can be set up to send alerts to ME and the monitoring company. Major savings. The entire system is wireless. Interesting. I am looking into trying to upgrade our existing wired system. Stuff to do while I am out on FMLA.

Bought a Kindle. Just the base $139 model. Reading books on the Ipad is not enjoyable. Glare. I really think my friend Angela should get a Kindle. $'s practically free. Fits in your purse. Battery last forever. Heck it will even feed your child....with knowledge.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

F'ing Bankers

"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, we've just started our initial descent into new car land. I hope you have enjoyed your lease just far and hope you think of us the next time your transportation needs require more than shoes."

Just 6 more payments on the Mazda5 left and the lease is over. I took a glance at auto loan rates. They are really good...but really bad.

New car rates are great at 2.99%! Used car rates are great 3.49%! Refinance rates are great 3.65%! But what's that down there for lease buyout? 5.25%!?!?!?!?!? WTF?!?!?

I can only assume bankers hate people who lease. Why else screw people who want to buy their leased car? Kinda turns me toward just buying a different car. I know I can get 0% from a car maker. I have a low debt to income ratio, no late payments in over 10 years, no charge offs....I'm clean. Got time to think.

I have a new bag for luggage. If heavy duty with a metal frame. Bought it from Strong Bags. My first experience trying to place it in an overhead bin wheels first failed. Not good. Will try again. Hope it was just an odd bin as it was the last one at the back of the plane.

Next month I am scheduled to fly 91 hours. The most I have ever flown in a month till now is 70 hours. In reality I will be paid for 91 hours but will fly around 80 hours due to scheduling conflicts. Still the extra hours will help the lack of a November and December paycheck a little easier.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Adapting Technology

Bought a baby monitor. It's a baby monitor and movement monitor in one. No video though.

For video I decided to "re-purpose" an existing security camera that has night vision. I am going to position it so it can see the entire crib area. I will then take an old thin client, put it next to our bed and attach a small LCD monitor. The only thing the thin client will do is monitor that camera. Instant on, instant off.

I don't know why I obsess over cars so much. But I do. After flying and computers....and my is next.

I used to buy and trade cars like it was going out of style. My record was 3 brand new cars in 3 months. For full disclosure one of those cars was a Saturn and I used the 30 day money back gaurantee.

To prevent me from wasting as much money I started leasing. I'm on my second lease now. The car is nice enough. I can buy it for $12000 in March. To keep the payments reasonable I would have to spread that over 3 years at which point the car would be 6 years old when paid off. Alternatively I can BUY a car at 0 percent interest for 5 years and at the end have a 5 year old car. Hmm....that makes more sense when I say it. Looking at it on paper it's just a year. Doh!

Still digging my Ipad....Kelli likes hers more than she will admit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hyundai Sonata...nice ride

We flew to Houston to see my dad last Friday . Natali did fine on the way down.

I rented a "full size" car from Budget. Cheap with my employer discount....only $2 more than a compact car. I walked out to the "full size" area and found 3 Mercury Grand Marquis and 1 Hyundai Sonata. The midsize section had much more variety...including several Sonatas! I picked a Sonata....the Sonata...from the full size section.

I  have been interested in the new Sonata for a while. The car is damn sexy inside and out.

Nice ride. The engine...just a 4 incredibly smooth and torquey. Lots of pep. Felt just as spunky as my former Acura TSX.

The interior is very stylish and functional. It really rubbed me the right much so that it's going on my short list. A top of the line Sonata stickers for $25K...sure it can be had for a bit less. We got 28MPG...very nice.

Next month I head back to New York...which sucks. But a good thing is I hold a set schedule. My seniority in New York is much higher than Dallas. I will be number 7 in New York while I am number 42 in Dallas. Number 42 out of 42. Ouch. I get 17 days off. I simply fly New York to Atlanta, Georgia and back. Start at 5:30AM and done by 1PM each day. I have time off to go to Disneyland and Vegas (depending on my amazing Mother in law visiting and watching Natali for us).

Back to cars. On my short list is the Toyota Venza, Toyota Camry, Toyota Prius, Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen CC and my current Mazda5....and maybe the Acura TSX. But that's it. Price ranges from $19-$29K.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I you?

I like being connected. It's become part of me. It's an addiction for which I see no problem.

This month has had me traveling between Dallas and New York. So far I have had 5 flights. Of those GoGo wireless has been on 4 of them. I paid for the service on 3 of the flights.

I get a hefty discount through my employer. Hindsight I should have purchased the monthly access for $20 versus spending $4-$8 a flight. The price per session varies depending on the device used. Smart phones and "portable" devices are $8 max. Computers are $13 max. For some reason it saw my Ipad as a computer the first time. Annoyed. I since learned if I used the Lastpass browser for Iphone it sees my Ipad as a smartphone...cheaper.

I know how it determines the device by the data sent from the device. On a computer I know ways of changing what is sent. Not on an Ipad without using the Iphone browser.

It is nice to be connected while sitting on a plane for 3 hours. I normally text Kelli using the Google Voice website, play Words with Friends and meander around. Makes time go by.

Enough geek talk.

Being a dad is still fun. Which is a good thing as there are no "take backs".

My Mazda5 has become much more likeable over the last month. I love the sliding doors and the ease of putting the car seat in and out without having to stoop over. Yesterday after a doctor visit I carried Natali to the car and then put her in the seat. That task would have been much more difficult if we had a car versus my MULTI-ACTIVITY VEHICLE.

Still unsure of what vehicles will be in our garage come Spring. The Mazda5 might stay. I THINK I would only get rid of it if I can get 0% on a car I like. Before that I will have to spring for new tires...which is annoying. I might replace them next month so I get a few months use out of them. Mine are showing the wear bars.

Finally, being a parent has changed my thinking on murder and senseless killings. Raising a child is a lot of work and takes a lot of time. Ending all of that in a flash seems wasteful....really pisses me off. Kinda like being robbed. Eh...hard to explain, but being a dad (still getting used to that term) has given me a whole new outlook on the value of life.

Worry not, I'm still likely only going to last another 6 years and 5 months.

Friday, September 10, 2010

White Pizza

I've been eating a lot of pizza in New York.  I really like a type called "White Pizza". No tomato sauce. Just cheese. Ricotta cheese I think. Damn tasty.

The Ipad made a great companion while walking around New York City. I had heard that Times Square had free WiFi. My plan was to head to Times Square, grab a seat, get an IP address and relax. Not so easy. There are so many WiFi signals being blasted around Times Square and there are so many WiFi devices...that nothing worked!! There were three free hotspots, Times Square, AT&T and McDonalds. All were so slow they were literally unusable. I ended up tethering to my phone. Problem.... I didn't bring my portable battery and thus couldn't tether for long.

[nggallery id=49]

Getting around though was very easy. Between the big Google Maps on the Ipad and the new Google Walking navigation, I had a pretty easy time.  I did get turned around when trying to head to Tom's Diner (made famous by Seinfeld and the Susan Vega song). I walked around for 20 minutes looking for the "1" train. Gave up...ate some more White Pizza. Then I found it....but took the wrong "1" train....and headed home.

I head home to Dallas today for a 3 day weekend.  I come back Tuesday only to go back to Dallas Wednesday for good...maybe. My company put out another bid for 8 First Officers to come back to New York next month. I am not going to volunteer...but I may be forced to come. Ugh.

Stopped by the New York Apple store. Played with the new Ipods. They were nice. The nano was silly small. The shuffle makes sense to runners. The touch is an amazing value.

Monday, September 6, 2010

They call it work...but it's more like a boring vacation

Been in New York for a week...kinda.

I am supposed to be flying. Haven't yet. Just hanging out in the hotel.

The hotel is nice, but it's RIGHT next to the La Guardia airport. Not a lot around.

Yesterday a Captain I have known for a while and I headed into the city. We bought a $8.25 Metropass that was good for a day. Great value as we traveled a lot. We left the hotel at 1:30PM and got back at 10PM. I saw more yesterday than I had in the past 5+ visits.

First stop was the American Museum of Natural History. Spent a good two hours there before heading to Ground Zero then Staten Island and finally Times Square. I ate Ray's Pizza for dinner...which annoyed Kelli. Years ago we were here with her entire family. She wanted Ray's Pizza. It was her birthday. The rest of the family voted for Olive Garden (I think my sister in law Jami was most vocal about it) thus we all ate at Olive Times New York. Bleh.

We walked several miles yesterday. I have been averaging 1.5-3 miles a day of walking. More exercise than I have had in a while.

I had home Friday night. Off for the weekend + Monday. I come back Monday night and head home for good Wednesday night.

Miss Kelli and Natali. Don't think I will do this again. It's different. But boring.

[nggallery id=48]

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

West to East

I started Monday morning in Albany, Oregon. Monday Afternoon I (along with my ladies Kelli and Natali!) were in Portland, Oregon. Late Monday night I was home in Euless, Texas. Early Tuesday morning I left for New York city.

Tuesday was a wasted day. Once I arrived I went straight to the hotel, located just outside of the La Guardia Airport.

Today, Wednesday, I transferred to a much nicer hotel...where I am just sitting. I am on a 2 hour call out.

Tomorrow I will likely be on another 2 hour call out. I am off Friday and Saturday. I might try to sneak home Thursday night and come back Saturday night. All depends on that damn hurricane.

Our vacation was very nice. My new daughter didn't mind the 3 hour + flights at all. She did get a little fussy during the trip. I attribute this to the constant pressure changes. She went from 600 feet in Euless, to 7500 feet (estimated) cabin pressure altitude on the flight, to 50 feet elevation in Portland to 200 feet elevation in Albany to 4500 feet elevation in Sunriver to 7200 feet elevation at Crater Lake and then the reverse. That's a lot on a person new to breathing.

I've changed a few dirty diapers. Gotten physically ill at a few. I am sure it will get worse.

The rental we had for 9 days was a Chevy Impala. I was leary of the gas sucking ability, but it did fine averaging 28 MPG over 880 miles. I found an online discount code from Total cost out the door $306!!!! That included full insurance. That's a steal for a 9 day rental.

Getting to and from was fine. Turns out Kelli didn't need a real ticket. Better safe than sorry though. Natali had her own seat each way. She is now a non-rever! We saved both of her boarding passes for her logbook.

Speaking of Natali. I am wrapped around her huge hands. It's hard not too be when she is so perfect. So perfect in fact that I am content with getting snipped.

For now....gonna sit back and relax in New York. If I can't get home I will likely explore the city over the weekend. Still getting used to the time zone shift from west to east.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sick....we're all going to die

One person got sick in the house. A niece. Within hours my father in law was sick. Kelli and I broke out the GermX. Wiped everything down including Natali. Yesterday morning I had a sore throat. Last night I had my last rites read to me. This morning both of my brother in laws are sick and my niece is worse. This is like a bad horror movie; A family goes to a wooded retreat. As days go by more and more are overcome by a mysterious illness. Death house.

Semi looking forward to going to New York on Tuesday. Staying close to the La Guardia airport. I might have time to go home at least once during my 14 days there.

Not sure how we are all getting home yet. Maybe tomorrow...maybe Monday. Worst case scenario is we land at 9:30PM Monday night and I fly out at 6AM Tuesday morning for New York. Quick.

That all assume I survive. Death house I tell you. Death house.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ipad fever

My nieces have been loving the Ipad this week. I downloaded a Dora the Explorer coloring book ($4.99) and a Dr Seuss Book ($3.99). They kinda took turns. One niece is 3 the other is 4.

Last night my sister in laws girlfriend, Kelly, bought an Ipad for herself and the 3 year old niece Haley. An interesting experience.

Best Buy shows if they have Ipad's in stock. The one up the road in Bend showed to have the base version. By the time she got there they were sold out. After she got back to the house I told her the 3G might be worth the money. Again they showed in stock. She bought one online to pick up in store. When I bought mine it was a 20 minute delay to get the email that it was ready. Kelly waited....and waited....and email. After 90 minutes she called. She was told it would take a while due to clearing the "credit card fraud" department. Another hour later....nothing. She called again. They had 12 in stock. Whatever.

We drove up there. Waited in line for 15 minutes. We were the only ones in line. Finally I found an employee who got one for us and gave it to the people in the customer service department...the line we were in. Another 10 minutes and we were being helped. When we got to the car....she got an email stating her order was ready too pick up. Nice.

A similar thing happened with the Macbook Pro. I bought mine. Then Kelli bought one. The Jami bought one. Then Peggy bought an Imac. Then Kevin bought one. Ipad fever is spreading.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No more driving`

I wrongly assumed that once we arrived at the house the long drives would end.

Yesterday we drove to Crater Lake National Park....only 100 miles away, but 2 + hours because of the small towns and winding roads. We climbed ANOTHER 3000 feet to reach over 7000 feet above sea level.

By the time we got there I was tired. I somewhat enjoyed the view and took a few family photos. Then headed back. Today I am hoping to stay within 20 miles of the house.

Natali is eating a lot. Until now she had 2 ounces every 3-4 hours. This's only 8:40AM and she's already had 10 1/2 ounces! She was on a feeding frenzy this morning between 3-4 AM. Yay?

The Internet here is decent. 1.5Mbps down 1Mb up.

My inlaws are digging our Ipads. Too bad I can't get a commission if they buy them.

[nggallery id=47]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

F this road

So driving from Albany, Oregon to Sunriver, Oregon was a pain. Both my Google Navigation and TomTom said to take the same initial route.

The route had us turn off the main highway onto a scenic route. Hmm...scenic. Highest speed was 40...average was 15-25. Lots of tight turns and switchbacks. Large drop offs. Tons of twist. No cell coverage. We didn't see a car for a while. Thoughts of breaking down streamed through my did having a head on collision as when cars did come from the opposite direction some were going a bit too fast and were on my side of the road.

I was frustrated. Hated driving so slow. The non-stop turns while climbing up a mountain with my wife and daughter on board was stressful. I was happy to take a break a the top. Kelli changed and fed Natali while I snapped a few photos.

[nggallery id=45]

The rest of the drive was just as crappy. Going back I am going to take the non-scenic route.

The house is very nice. Huge 5 bedroom cabin style home. Very nice. Indoor pool. Nice.

Monday, August 23, 2010

No coverage

Driving from Albany, Oregon to Sun River, Oregon today. There is ZERO T-Mobile coverage over a large section of the trip. There is AT&T Coverage so in an emergency we can call...or we can roam. A little disconcerting though.

Since we normally use our Nexus One's for navigation (which uses a data connection....for data) I brought along an "old fashioned" back up GPS device...a hacked Tom Tom. Should be fine.

The rental car is a Chevy Impala. Big...boring car. I now know why I don't care for National/Alamo at PDX....very limited selection of cars. Only 3 "full size" cars were available, two Impalas and a Grand Marquis. Yeah. Most locations have 20+ cars. The lot here is VERY small. Boo.

Natali is doing well. A little more fussy in the middle of the night. Nothing major.

I forgot Natali's "special" onesie I bought for her. Doh! I have my matching shirt we should be safe.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Makes sense

Found a decent deal on a rental car. Found a Compact/Ford Focus from National for $240 all in. Not bad for 9 days. Not a big car, but it's just the three of us. Will get stellar gas mileage too boot.

Didn't fly at all this week. "Worked" four days. No flying. As is I will go at least 2 weeks without flying. Could be interesting on my next landing.

I will be headed to the Big Apple next month. I will work in New York August 31st thru September 15th and back home after that. I will get a hotel room and per diem 24 hours a day while I am there.

The Ipad is great for babies. Easy to have a baby on my lap secured with one hand and the Ipad resting on the arm of the chair being used by the other hand.

Being a dad is still cool.

Been a rough week for my allergies. The crazy high temp and bad pollution days made me feel blecky. Yes blecky.

Not all hybrids drive the same. My mother in law owns a Toyota Camry Hyrbid. She was down for about a week and drove the Prius while Kelli was in the hospital. The gas mileage average isn't as high as it normally is. To be fair the Camry has more torque and thus "feels" faster and my powerful for a given foot pressure on the gas pedal. Thus to get the same feeling she would have to push harder. No biggie. Our cars will be parked for a while anyway.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The Mayans are pretty smart people. I think. According to their calendar the world will end in 2012. Maybe I should take advantage of this.

There are lots of no interest/no payment deals that go through 2012. Furniture stores are big on this. Maybe I should go on a spending spree and live it up. If the world does indeed in in will all be one big free adventure. If not...well..hmmm...Craigslist it all?

Even with the Ipad I carry too many gadgets. I carry the Ipad, Nexus One and a Zune. If Apple had a subscription music service I could ditch the Zune. Yeah I could download all the music illegally, but the legal way is just too easy. I also download a local radio show that is encoded in the WMA format...not compatible with the Ipad. Boo. Bleh. Blip.

We have HBO again. For a few months. Kelli can get her True Blood on. It's free for 3 months. No long as I remember to cancel (which I will as I set a Google Calendar event!).

Being a dad is great when you have an awesome wife and a too good to be true daughter.

Would have been nice to be in the cockpit for Natali's first flight. I will fly her around one day I'm sure.

Haven't been in my man cave in 2 months. I need to get that place in order.

Looks like I might take my FMLA right after Kelli finishes hers. I likely won't do a full 12 weeks, but enough to get through the end of the year and start day care in January.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Making mustard

Still enjoying being a dad...which is a good thing as the only way out is to pack up and drive to Mexico (do they have extradition rights?). Yesterday I found a good use for a sleeping baby. Ipad stand.

Amazon is proving very useful to get things we need. Simple things like a bottle drying rack. Yeah we could drive to Walmart/Babies R Us and buy one. But on Amazon they have a bigger selection and we save gas. Free two day shipping is the icing on the cake.

Looking toward Saturday we are going to buy a car seat bag in case we have to gate check ours. Amazon once again.

Had my first gag moment with Natali. Her stool has turned a mustard color. When she poops now I say she is making mustard.

She squirmed for about 10 minutes yesterday and I thought she was done. I had her on the changing table and was doing just fine until she started making more mustard right there. I had to hold her legs up and turn away. A few gags and dry heaves later and Kelli swooped in to finish the job. I am sure it will happen again.

Still digging the Ipad. The Baby Geek app is VERY useful for tracking just about everything with Natali.

Playing games less on my phone nowadays.

Started watching the "IT Crowd" again. Very funny.

We finished season one of "Boston Legal" also very funny.

Behind on my podcast. Will have plenty of time next week in Oregon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Monday morning quarterback

Just another manic Monday.

Slept well. I was supposed to know yesterday where I will be based for September. Still haven't been told which is annoying.

I'm a planner. Kelli is a free spirit. This makes more some interesting conversations.

For our first trip as a family I think I have a plan. Since I (and possibly Natali) will be non-revving, we can check 2 bags per person for free. I plan on checking everything except my laptop bag and a small diaper/bottle bag, for Natali. Kelli is going to check a bag as well under Natali's ticket. I've seen hundreds of parents travel the "wrong" way.

Some parents bring everything with them. The mom is carrying the baby, her purse and the diaper bag (a huge one at that). The dad is behind pulling his carry on, the moms carry on and his laptop/briefcase. Too much. I want to travel light. Checking a bag is scary for me. Haven't done it since we went to Hawaii...back in 2004 I think. Hopefully we will be stress free.

Natali is still a peaceful baby. Eating a lot more which makes both Kelli and me happy.

Eric and Angela stopped by Saturday. We can't thank them enough for all they have done to help us so far.

Finally a baby to take photos of

I love photography. Heck I majored in photojournalism.  Being able to capture a moment in time amazes me.

Kids are great subjects. The younger the better as they don't know what a camera is and therefore are natural in their responses. I have taken photos of of my nieces, but rarely post/share them as...well they aren't MY kids. I didn't feel right plastering a photo of a kid that's not mine online. They few times I did I watermarked the photo to protect it from being used elsewhere.

Now that I have a daughter I'm free to take all the photos of her I want. It helps that she's hands down the cutest baby in the world. One thing that bothers me are her fingers. They are long like mine. I know one day she will raise one of her middle fingers and aim it my way. Probably the same day she goes and votes for a break my heart just a little bit more. I will take photos of her then as well because she is my daughter and I love her.

[singlepic id=1744 w=640 h=480 float=center]

[singlepic id=1743 w=640 h=480 float=center]

[singlepic id=1742 w=640 h=480 float=center]

[singlepic id=1741 w=640 h=480 float=center]

Friday, August 13, 2010

Other blogs

Been a busy few days. I've been hammering away on quite a bit.

Found a great ap on the Ipad to keep track of diapers, feedings etc. Baby Geek...only $0.99. Will sync between our two Ipads. VERY easy to use. Kelli can click  a button when she starts nursing and again when she's done. I can click two buttons when I change a diaper and note "dirty" or "wet". I bought the ap after we could no longer remember how long we nursed and how many diapers I have changed. One would think I would easily recall such things, but it is known that when people go through traumatic events they tend to forget. Ha!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The most uncomfortable bed...almost ever

Kelli told me I didn't have to stay in the hospital last night as not much would be going on. Felt guilty leaving her here alone so I stayed. The chair the expands to a bed is one of the most uncomfortable pieces of furniture ever. I slept very little as did Kelli. More about that on later.

We are all teched out. We each have an Ipad. I have my Zune pumping out content to the TV. My Macbook Pro was being used to watch Boston Legal. Of course we each have a Nexus One. Between the two of us we could launch a Space Shuttle.

Working on something fairly cool. Should be able to show it off tonight/tomorrow morning.

Mother in law is here. She's really liking the Ipad and Word with Friends.

Good wifi here. Very speedy.

Looking forward to sleeping in my bed....oh and meeting my daughter.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sack Lunch

Been taking my lunch to work for the last week. Nice change of pace. I prefer Pumpernickel bread or bagel thins for the bread. Feeling even a little healthier. Amazing what less grease and fat does for you.

Kelli is ready to be done being preggo. Hopefully this will swear her off having another kid. One is just fine with me. We are going to have a perfect daughter Wednesday. Why screw that up?

Tires getting low on tread. Still legal. Will likely have to spring for new ones before I turn it in or whatever next March.

The dogs are still alive.

Allergy shots going well.

Can't find a cheaper rental car for Oregon. Looks like $400 all in for 8 days is going to be it. Would be cheaper by $50 or so if I rented it for a 6 days, returned it, and rented another one. Eh.

Sitting in Highfill, Arkansas right now. You can fly from Highfill, Arkansas nonstop to Newark, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Chicago, New York and for a while Los Angeles. Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas doesn't have all those options. Reason? Highfill is close to Wal-Mart headquarters.

Name for my daughter is partially released. Full name on Wednesday.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I'm only 33....ran out of toes and fingers counting long ago. Getting old.

Went to bed at 8:30PM on Thursday. I was spent.

Power went out last night for about an hour. House wasn't uncomfortable except for the lack of air flow. After about 30 minutes we all (dogs included) hopped into my car and sat in the driveway to cool off. I turned on the outside light and aimed my rearview mirror at it so I would know when the power came back on. Me being me I immediately started looking for a hotel room. La Quinta is "pet friendly". Thankfully wasn't needed.  Once I saw the light come back on, we all headed back. Not too bad only spent 30 minutes in the car.

I get two weeks of vacation each year. In order to maximize my time off I move my work days around. I end up killing myself in order to have more time off. As of now I have August 20-30th off. Working 13 out of 14 days to get that. Today is my 6th day in a row too work. All long 9-12 hour work days. Feelin' old.

Flew with a Captain yesterday that was a little pompus. He pointed out just how much money he was making on his 4 day trip. This is his vacation week. He picked up extra flying. he would be earning more on this 4 day trip (excluding vacation pay) than I will earn in a month. Nice eh?

Mother in law coming in town Tuesday. Best friend from high school is flying through DFW today. Going to head up to visit if I am still here. Airline running very short on pilots I will probably be sent out before she arrives.

Yesterday while sitting at home I looked over at Kelli and smiled. She was sitting on the couch with her Ipad on her lap, Macbook to the left while using her Nexus One. When I met her she had a basic phone and a basic Dell tower computer. My plan is almost complete....just need to correct her political views.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Making the right turn

Ya know that feeling you get when you're driving to somewhere new and you're not sure if you made the right turn? Yeah.

Been working a lot lately. More than ever. Twelve hour works days are now the norm instead of the exception. Yesterday I did five flights, the airline wanted me too do 7. Running the same checklist over and over make anyones brain mushy. Add in hot outside temps and operating in 10 critical phases of flight (5 takeoffs and 5 landings) and fatigue sets in. When I got home I was only slightly more coherent than room temperature jello.

Prior to my starting flying I read online forums. There were several post stating to NOT go to an airline. The pay, work conditions, and outlook were horrible. I thought they were just naysayers. Now, I'm not so sure.

Don't get me wrong I absolutely love what I do. Flying is in my blood. Safely navigating the skies and weather to transports soldiers, men, women, and children home to their families brings joy to me. I love the power of 50,000 pounds of thrust in my left hand and the controls to a multi-million dollar jet in my right hand is awesome. But is it all worth it?


Now for something funny.

On my flight to Little Rock yesterday was a wealthy family from Brazil. They BOUGHT (with cash not points!) First Class tickets from Brazil to Little Rock for their family of 6. Four kids and two parents. The First Class section of my plane has 9 seats. They took up 7. The kids were all 10 and under dressed in comfy, but not dressy clothes.

My flight attendant said several of the elite frequent fliers complained and gave dirty looks to this family as many of the frequent fliers had to sit in coach as they couldn't use points to upgrade. Most of these frequent fliers got their status by flying PAID for by their companies. Big name companies many of us spend money with. My flight attendant was senior and doesn't take crap from anyone. She sternly told the frequent fliers that the family paid cash for those seats. Those passengers are consumers who spend money so the companies that fly these executives around can survive. Some took it and were quiet, others thought the family should have been back in coach. Nice eh?

Ok maybe that wasn't funny.

Monday, August 2, 2010

August and everything after

Bought an Apple bluetooth wireless (somewhat implied that it's wireless...being bluetooth and all) keyboard for $20. Guy had it on Craiglist as "barely used" and "new"....not. I can tell it's well used. But it works....way less than $69 from Apple. Works with the Ipad. Which is what I am using right now.

Got the car seat bases installed in our cars. Wasn't too hard. Both of our cars have the LATCH system things. We will get them inspected next week.

Kelli is enjoying HER Ipad. I found one using the Best Buy inventory system. Apple should have something like it. It's extremely easy to go to and check stock of items. Saw one in North Fort Worth...drove over...picked one up. Eighteen months no interest.

Rumors of my airline being sold are floating around. If we are sold we could lose our easy travel on American. Which would blow.

Allergy shots continuing. No name Claritin doing it's thing.

Blueray movies are nice. Don't see us buying a lot of Blue Ray movies though. Easier to stream from Netlix, rent from Netflix or the new RedBox Blueray rentals. I don't feel the need to "own" media. I don't "own" most of my songs on my Zune. They are rented. I pay $15 a month for all the music Kelli and I can listen too. Simple. Easy. I forecast DVD and Blueray sales dropping off as broadband access expands.

Trying out bringing my lunch to work. Tired of airport food. I spent an average of $8 a day when I sat airport standby last month. That's at least $40 a week. We will see. Hard to pack food though as I could be gone one day or five days.

Mother in law arriving next week for 8 days.

Going to be a little interesting getting to the airport for vacation. Since Kelli has a "real" ticket she has a "real" seat on the 4:25PM flight. I'm flying standby. Will have to non rev starting with the 9AM flight. In the past she would drop me off early and drive my car to the employee lot. Problem is the employee lot and buses aren't really set up for baby strollers and the like. Exploring options.

It's gonna be 106 today. I'd rather be hot than cold. When it's hot I can still go to work. People up north can't say the same when it's cold with 5 feet of snow outside and a frozen car battery.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Separate but equal

Almost from day one...well actually from day one...Kelli and I have had separate bank accounts. We have some commingling of funds. We share a joint checking account, one credit card and a few ING savings accounts.

Some people think we are nuts for having separate accounts. But it makes life easier. I balance mine, she balances hers and we both keep an eye on the joint account. Only household bills come out of the joint account. I buy stuff that I want, she buys what she wants. I don't pay for dog stuff. She doesn't pay for gadgets.

Now that there will be a third person in the house. We decided Natali should pay for her own stuff. She will have her own bank account and can buy all the baby food she wants. Ha!

Kelli is very conservative with her money. I think it's just her nature. She is very cautious on most purchases (although she did buy a Prius on a whim). She's been pawing my Ipad for a few days. It's a great device for her. Most of what she does online is browse web pages and play games. She wants one...but won't pull the trigger.

We are big on free money. No interest deals. We've done a ton of them. We buy whatever and simply set up our bank account to pay AT LEAST the minimum each month. That way we won't miss a payment and lose the no interest deal. I told her an IPad is $30 a month on the Best Buy card with no interest. She still balked. I stated that's 2 less trips to Sweet Tomatoes a month. That's it! She balked. Bleh.

Back to Natali. For a few months we've been putting money aside for a baby fund. The money will be used as a backup for things we need for Natali in case of emergency. We have been building a similar account for house emergencies. True we could have one big savings account....but we like buckets. Having buckets of money is easier to organize.

Quite a random post on my part. Good job me.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This is when it gets real

Countdown has my head anyway.

Vacation next month. Lots of expenses. Kelli is on a "real" airline ticket. Renting a car for 9 days. Hotel for 2 days. Kennel the dogs/dog sitter for 9 days. Lotta money.

Flew to Milwuakee and back on Wednesday on overtime. Five hours. I would have to work 20 hours overtime to pay for all the above. It will be a little rough as we have been saving for baby stuff not really thinking about vacation.

Still think Kelli is getting an Ipad....not if but when. The Democrat in her is holding back. Hopefully the little...errr...big Republican in her belly will sway her.

She can't stop playing with it

Headed to Milwaukee today. Overtime. Baby money....maybe IPad money?

Most days there is a free app of the day for Ipad/Iphone. I grab most as I am cheap. Yesterday there was an app called Super 7 HD. It's a game where floating blocks with various values float around the screen. The object is to connect blocks to add up to 7....and not 1 more. It's a challenge.

I thought Kelli would like the game. She already plays "Words With Friends" (a Scrabble like game she plays again against her sister and a family friend). I showed her how to play. She was then in a trance for a straight hour playing the game. Her finger was getting tired. She took a break....but then played another 45 minutes before going to bed with a tired finger. She couldn't stop playing it.

Kelli is sooooo going to get an Ipad.

It would be MUCH easier to hold/nurse a baby with an Ipad versus a laptop. Kelli blahs me off. She blah'd me off about getting a laptop, smartphone, MP3 player, HDTV, surround  sound, Facebook and a toilet light. She uses and enjoys them all. Time will tell. Just yesterday I bought a cheap hard shell, snap on, case for my laptop. It's a pretty dark blue. Kelli bought her own, green of course, right away. I know deep inside she want's to be a hip republican technophile like me.

August is going to suck. The first half anyway. In order to get off the extra days I wanted off following my week of vacation I had to move things around. I now work 5 on 1 off 5 on 3 off 4 on. Booo. The things you do for family.

Finally....a photo from work. I love my job....even though I bitch about it. I love being in control of 50,000 horsepower. Zoom-Zoom on steroids.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Something different

For the most part I fly to the same handful (like 5) cities. I know the routes...the airports....the airspace....I really think I could fly to Little Rock by just looking outside.

Yesterday I was assigned to fly to Little Rock. Lots of weather in the area. My flight taxied to the runway and then shutdown the engines for 30 minutes (the APU was still running to provide air conditioning and power).

On the way I navigated around thunderstorms. Had to punch through a few. Haven't been rocked and rolled like that in a while. Landing was mostly uneventful except for the thunderstorm over the right half of the airport and all along the bottom. I landed on the left side.

I'm glad the baby comes in two weeks. I don't think Kelli can get any bigger. Mark this down.....9 pounds 3 ounces.

Today is the day I can "request" to change my work days for August. First priority is moving days around for Vacation. Then for the birth. Why that order? Well my Chief Pilot can approve days off for the birth if I can't do it on my own. At worst I can call in sick. I have almost a month of sick time in the bank for short term and over a month for long term sick.

Ipad still rocking my world.

My friend from high school and my geeky friend Kerry are both keeping an eye out for a new/newer car. Kerry has kids, Katy, my friend, is planning to have kids. Can't think of a better go getter than the Mazda5. Cheap to buy, cheap to own and even a little fun to drive.

"The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept." -George Carlin

Monday, July 26, 2010

I hope my mother in law doesn't find out

Decent weekend. Flew a bit. Home both nights.

Angela (of EricandAngela) wanted to go to Pahonix....Phoenix...for the weekend. Not many have taken me up on my buddy passes this year so I had two to spare (one each way). Flights looked great both ways all the way until the morning of. She was on the second flight to PHX. The first flight cancelled. The flight was only 1/2 was the second flight. The second flight easily filled did every flight until 9PM. She was a trooper and hung out until 4PM before throwing in the towel. Thankfully she got on the first flight out of DFW Sunday morning...and even scored a First Class seat. If this had been my mother in law....I think she might have decided to start using swear words for the first time in her life.

Kelli and I have only truly not made it somewhere once. We were trying to get to damn Sacramento (Jami and Kelly should seriously consider a move closer to SFO , SJC or LAX!). We were on the plane (in First Class no less!). The plane had a mechanical issue. Deboarded. Lost our seats as all the passengers who missed the flight made it. Boo.

Getting closer to B-day. We went shopping at Babies' R Us using some coupons we had been sent. I was comparing products and prices to There are a ton of reviews on Amazon for baby stuff. There was a glider/rocker Kelli licked. At Babies' R Us the price was $139. On it was $111. Free 2 day shipping. Even with our 10% off coupon Amazon was still cheaper. We did buy a diaper bag....$50! For really a diaper backpack. I'm skeptical. We won't need a truly large diaper bag as I don't see us taking a road trip anytime soon. The diaper backpack will work for flights.

Loving my new Macbook Pro. No more glare! I hate glossy screens. Consumers like them as the colors are deeper. I hate them as I don't like the glare. If I wanted to look at myself I will buy a mirror. The IPad is hella glossy. I am still debating buying an antiglare screen for it.

IPhone to T-Mobile? Rumors going around that it's coming in the Fall.

Kelli is flying to Portland on a real ticket. Flights to Portland are notoriously full (Peggy and John should seriously consider moving closer to Denver or Phoenix!). I get 20% off the lowest fare I can find. Not bad. Of course paying $280 round trip is 10X more than we normally pay. Eh. I am non-reving.

Finally added a link on the blog to Natali Del Conte's baby blog. She, along with others, contribute to Mommy Beta. Very neat.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Macbooks hold their value!

Finally sold my Macbook Pro. I paid $1700 for it back in April 2008.  It has traveled all around the United States. Japan, Nassau and more since then. Lots of miles. A dent or two....several scratches on the bottom. Sold it today for $800 cash.

Over 2 years later it still had almost half it's original value. Truly awesome. New one on the way. Buying a base model Core I5 with the Hi-res anti glare screen.

I'm having issues getting my vacation moved for next month. My contract says one thing, my employer is stating something else. Super annoying part? The department that handles moving vacation days can only be reached through our archaic computer system and it only takes max 60 characters. Nice eh?

My job finally released an App for the Ipad that allows me to access the aforementioned archaic computer system directly from the Ipad. This means I no longer have to carry around my netbook. It also means my new Macbook Pro will be in much better shape as it will rarely leave the house.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Almost vacation time

I get a lot of time off from "work" as is. Next month I get a week off with pay. Heading to Oregon. Still not exactly sure what I'm going to do. Mostly I plan on sitting in the house, watching TV and not changing diapers. Yeah....about that.

Kelli will have to buy a "real" ticket. I will go standby. Going to need a rental car which, as of now, will cost as much as a real airline ticket. No big deal. Everyone else .....well most everyone else.....well some other people are paying their own way.

Sat next to a guy yesterday who, by the time the plane landed, would have 2 Million AA miles. Two million! He started collecting AA miles in 1991. Crazy.

Kelli's stomach is getting so big it looks fake. Like she strapped on a fake baby stomach.

Tethering via my Nexus One is amazing. Stayed in a hotel with crappy wifi. Put my phone in hotspot mode and used my netbook and Ipad. Technology bliss.

Since I'm flying more this month, I'm saving gas. I used to drive to and from the airport daily. Exactly 20.0 miles a day. Since I've had a few multi day trips, my mileage has gone way down. Haven't bought gas since 6/28. Still have a quarter tank left.

Kelli and I are kinda on an island. No family is within 4 hours. Shouldn't be a big deal as millions of people have raised kids without the outside help of family. They weren't special...and neither are we.

Today is Friday. My only day off this week. By choice...could have had the last two days off but I picked up overtime.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I've been flying around

Almost like a real pilot this month. I've had 4 or 5 nights away from this month. Flew Milwaukee t0 DFW to Milwaukee to DFW yesterday. Long day. Seven and a half hours of flying inside of a 9 1/2 hour work day. Heading away again tonight on overtime.

Originally this trip was 6 hours of overtime. Of the 6 hours, 4 were to be spent in the cockpit and paid at 120% while 2 were to be spent in the cabin deadheading as a passenger paid at 90%. So $172.80 + $64.80 for a total of $237. Not bad for being gone just over 24 hours. Well yesterday I was displaced from the cockpit into the cabin for the first 1 hour flight. Now I get $129.60 + $97.2 for a total of $226.80. Still good money...especially considering for 3 hours I will simply be a passenger a plane. Eh. Wanted the whole enchilada.

Put in my FMLA papaerwork. I can see online the benefits department got it. Waiting for it to be approved. On a flight yesterday the Captain said that when his wife had their kid she had to be "cut" a bit to fit the baby through. Afterwards he asked the doctor if he could watch the "repair" work. He grabbed a mask and was down with the doctor as his wife was sutured up. He went into a little detail until  I cried uncle. Once again I want to see no body fluids.

Kelli is enjoying "Words With Friends" still to "responsible" to buy her own Ipad/Ipod touch.

Got another allergy shot yesterday. Nurse noticed a bruise from a previous shot. Apologized then injected the shot. She then paused. "Hmm, now this one is bleeding." Nice. Didn't bleed for long. Long 5 year journey to normalcy. As close to normal as I can get anyway.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blood on the wall

When I first left for college I bought silverware at the Dollar store. It lasted a day or two. I could afford better....just didn't know better. Knowing is half the battle.

My mood is back to normal now that I am free of Allegra. There is definitely a link between mood swings and Allegra. I'm taking 24 hour Claritin. No issues..except that it really does last 24 hours...around the 24 1/2 hour mark...nose starts closing up.

Cut my finger open. I foolishly pushed my hand into my suitcase with it closed and started feeling around for something. My left ring finger grazed my brand new (i.e. sharp!) Fusion 5 razor. Five fine slices. Ouch. Bled quite a bit. Took a while to get it under control. Me being me I had the kitchen and living room looking like a crime scene. Apparently after I put on a band-aid, blood started pooling in the tip. I dripped blood on the counter...then smeared blood on the wall as I turned the light switch off.....gross. If it had been Kelli's blood I would have thrown up. I don't handle blood well unless it's my blood as I a personal bond with it.

Toured the HEB hospital. The rooms are in the middle of being refurbished. Lots of older stuff still around. The TV's are still tubes. No DVD players. But they do have Wifi. I am sure I will bring up Kelli's laptop and Kindle. The man couch looked very uncomfy. Bleh.

Really enjoying being on regular reserve this month. Not HAVING to go sit at the airport for 8 hours a day is nice. Instead I can hang around the house or DFW and just wait to be called. Nice.

Still trying to sell my Macbook Pro.

Geeky friend Kerry had her phone disabled due to being caught in a rain storm. Bag of rice later....all fixed. If it had been dropped in a bath or sink....could have been worse. There are minerals and chemicals in tap water that are not present in rain water. The crap in tap water transmits current...shorting out the device. Glad it is back to normal.

Still digging my Ipad.

I have Froyo on my Nexus One thanks to Cyanogenmod. Very happy.

My favorite radio host is back on the air. Russ Martin is back on the radio on 97.1 the Eagle. It's mornings instead of afternoons. Hopefully I can download the show without commercials.

Still have a lot of stuff to buy for the baby. Might have to hold off on the security cameras.

Kelli and I have been together for more than 8 years. Guess we are official now. No I don't know what that means.