Thursday, February 25, 2010

Damn you garbage man

Garbage man used to come by just after 8AM. Sometime's Kelli takes out the trash as she leaves the house. Sometimes she is in a rush and I take it out as I don't go to work till 2PM. Normally I can make it out of bed by 7:30AM and take out the trash. Today I set an alarm for 7:20AM to take out the trash. I woke up at 7:19AM to the sound of the garbage truck.

It sounded like it was on the street behind our house....meaning we were next. I quickly put on pants and a shirt, yanked up the trash out of the fancy trash can (my in laws all have fancy trash's trash people.....trash) and ran see the truck already down the street. Damn them!

I am surprised about the number of people who don't know about A buddy of mine needed to buy birthday gifts for his girlfriend. We were both at the airport yesterday. He had a 3 hour break and was going to go to Grapevine Mills Mall (just north of the airport).  I then hipped him to Amazon. He found what he wanted for way less. He was shocked. people...check it out. Become  prime member! Do it!

I've started ripping our DVD's to my media center. This will both protect the DVD's from damage and allow for easier access to them from either X-Box or our home...or on the road. Ripping them will also allow them to be viewed on our phones or more likely our Zune HDs.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Can I see twice as well?

Vision I am going to see how much Kelli is paying for it.

When I went to the Dr. I walked out paying $115 out of pocket even though we have "insurance". The insurance covered up to $130. The unrequested Toric Lens Exam cost $127. The regular exam is $85. I haven't used Toric lenses in years...don't want them. The insurance covers up to $130 for a contact lens exam AND contacts. So the S127 exam ate up almost all of the $130.  I still had a $20 copay. The $115 I paid was for two boxes of contacts lasting 90 days.

I ordered a YEARS worth of the same contacts online for $228. I thought the insurance was covering up to $130 worth of that's what the Dr. told me. Well I have since learned it's $130 for the exam AND contacts. Thus the insurance covered $3!

When I went to pickup my contacts I was asked to pay another $18. WTF?!?! I paid then spent 10 min in the car examining the bill and calling the insurance company as I thought I was getting ripped off. I was.

I went back in and returned the contacts and was refunded all but the $20 co-pay. The manager tried to do some double talk showing how the insurance was covering part of the contacts and that I can order additional boxes from them at a discount. I wanted to ask, "can I see twice as well if I pay twice as much?"

If the insurance cost more than $130 a's not really worth it as that's all they really cover.

Waiting for "it"

E-Harmony commercials advertise meeting someone like you with common interest and how great they are at it. E-Harmony would have never connected Kelli and I.

Even though I am forced to live with a damn tree hugging, liberal democrat who thinks more rationally than I deem necessary. It works. Whenever I get all in a fuss about work....she brings me back down to reality......not that it's a good thing at the time.

I get weekends off next month. I am going to attempt to arrange for a few days off to take that free cruise.

Kelli loves the way the Zune HD software works...not so much her G1. The new phone coming out at the end of the year from Microsoft will have the same software as the Zune HD. I too fancy the software....just not sure I could live with it everyday.

Name of the week is Arbez. Read it backwards.

Our next big vacation is in August. We are planning on traveling to Sunriver cabin/resort in Oregon. Still haven't figured out what I am going to do there. I know there is Wi-Fi. Several years ago I went swimming in the ocean in Hawaii. That's about as outdoorsy as I get.

Still waiting for that "it" technology that truly combines my phone, MP3 player, computer and time wasting device. Maybe the new Windows phone will be "it". Would be nice not to "have" to carry so much stuff around.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Maybe I do need a pad

Had a great weekend in Sacramento. While there I played with Jami's IPhone. This was my first time really using one. It was nice. I downloaded two free apps I had heard of and both worked great. So great in fact....that maybe I do want an IPad.

My birthday is coming up. Kelli always needs hints on what to get me. So let this serve as a hint.

Just one more year till my lease is up. I'm at 14,300 miles right now....22,o00 miles to go. Think I will be okay. Kelli isn't budging on letting me get a FJ Cruiser.

I think I'm going to actually finish the floors in March. Very little work to be done. We have just been lazy about it.

Turning the big 33 in March. Not sure how I feel about that.

That's about it. Supposed to fly to Houston and back and be done by 11AM. My first plane was broke after all the passengers were on. Had to offload them all and am waiting for the next plane to arrive. It just did. Guess I will go to Houston and back now.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I love my job benefits!

I've said it before and I will say it again....being able to fly anywhere at anytime is the best employee benefit I have ever had.

This past weekend we headed to Sacramento to spend time with my sister in law Jami, my niece Haley and Jami's girlfriend Kelly.

The flight out was interesting.

About 2 hours in, I was resting with my Bose QC15s pumping in a Smart DJ playlist (I love my Zune HD!) into my ears when I overheard, “If there is a M.D or D.O on board please ring your flight attendant call button or come to row 22.”

I opened my eyes to see two flight attendants briskly walking down the aisle carrying the emergency medical kit and oxygen bottle. Something had happened. A moment later the third flight attendant walked by with the defibrillator. Medical emergency.

I had changed out of my uniform into my “civies” prior to boarding the flight.

As two flight attendants and a Dr worked in the back of the plane, I noticed the front flight attendant had his hands full with First Class. As he walked to the back of the plane I took out my ID and let him know that if he needed any help I was glad to assist (I’m listed as a pilot/crew on the passenger manifest so he knew who I was). Being squeamish I can’t help with the medical emergency, but I can help pick up trash and hand out drinks at the very least. I can also help with “crowd” control as passengers were trying to use the rear lavatory even though it was clear the area was packed. He said he was going to ask if I could help and appreciated my offer. Things were fine at the time, but he would let me know if he needed help.

I laid back and hoped for the best. There was still 90 minutes of flight left. If the seat belt sign came on or we started descending soon I knew it was because of the medical emergency.

Thankfully everything worked out fine. About 30 minutes prior to landing the lead flight attendant came back to my seat and dropped off half a dozen fresh baked cookies. He appreciated my offer to step up and help.

Once we landed medical personnel came on board and rolled the passenger off. They ended up signing a waiver to not be transported after all.

Even though it wasn’t my airline (it was a mainline flight) I’m always here to help another crew if needed.

While is Sacramento we only ate at one "chain" resturant, In-N-Out Burger. The rest of the time we ate at local places which we enjoy.

My niece Haley continues to amaze me....crazy tall for 2 1/2 and ridiculously intelligent. Her reasoning ability is facsinating and scary at the same time.

[singlepic id=1671 w=640 h=480 float=]

So Kelli and I love Man vs. Food. We have visited a few places on the show. While in California we stopped by the San Francisco Creamery Company. On the show the host of the show tried the "Kitchen Sink" challenge.

The Kitchen Sink consists of 3 bananas, 8 scoops of ice cream, 8 toppings, whippped creams, nuts, and cherries. My sister in law Jami thought for SURE she could easily do the challenge...if it weren't for the bananas.

After we arrived she saw a family doing it and decided to simply get a 3 scoop sundae....without bananas. She ate maybe 1/3rd. Kelli, Kelly and I all gave Jami a hard time about it. Thankfully Jami has a great since of humor.

[singlepic id=1679 w=640 h=480 float=]

For dinner we ate at one resturant called Massawas. It was hands down the most interesting place I have ever eaten.

Massawas is an ethiopian style resturant. The food can be served family style meaning all on a huge platter. We met up with Jodi and Chelsea who are also expecting an offspring. Chelsea is just one week ahead of Kelli.

We each ordered a dish. It's served on a gianormous platter of spongy bread. The bread was very interesting. Additionally we were each given a plate of the same bread.

There was no silverware...all hands on deck!

[singlepic id=1683 w=640 h=480 float=]

We each broke a off a piece of bread and dug in. The food was very flavorful. All of us enjoyed it.

For the first time in years I visited a park. Don't judge. Went down a slide for the first time since I was a kid.

[singlepic id=1674 w=640 h=480 float=]

[singlepic id=1676 w=640 h=480 float=]

Jami, Kelly and my niece.

Our flight back was very open. Twelve out of sixteen First Class seats were occupied by non-revs....gotta love it!

We are planning on trip to New York in April and maybe a cruise in March. Beyond that....very little travel ahead.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The proper mix of old and gay

Guess we are headed to Sacramento this week. For the first time ever I don't need to buy Allergy Meds! My sister in law finally took my comfort into consideration and got rid of her cats. Okay not sister in law's girlfriend is allergic to they got rid of them. Flights are decently open. If crap hits the fan we can fly out of San Francisco via the free shuttle from Sacramento to San Francisco. Oh the shuttle is operated by my sister in law.

Google's new Buzz service made lots of mistakes.

Google's new Buzz service is hoping to overtake Facebook and Twitter. They opted every GMail user INTO the service and then opened all the gates for everyone's information. In theory if your Doctor used Gmail and you sent him just ONE email, you would be following him and be able to see all his contacts, his photos of Flickr, Youtube Videos and more. This has since been fixed. Google Buzz is neat and with Facebook pissing off so many may take off.

Had a rough couple days with the weather. Worked several long days including one where I was more tired than I have ever been. Spooked me out a bit on landing. Everything went fine, but right after and even now I don't remember landing at all. Spooky indeed.

I'm scheduled to be a guest on a podcast this week. Will post more after it debuts.

The new Amazing Race started. Seems every season must have an old person and at least one gay person.

Loving my man cave.

Kelli has had her Macbook for just over a year. Prior to this she had a top of the line HP Notebook with Windows Vista. Her swearing never stopped with that computer. The silence that has been around since she bought her Macbook is great. Only an occassional blip now.

Pondering over my own computer. Debating splurging a little over $300 for a new battery and power adapter or holding off for a new computer. I do like the Alienware M11X. The M11X is a gaming laptop with dual video cards. One card for gaming...the other for better battery life. The M11X starts at $799 but it about $1024 in a decent configuration. A 13 inch Macbook Pro isn't much more....has better battery life and a little better specs. Eh.

Finally.....that's what she on the photo to make it clearer

Friday, February 12, 2010

Silly snow

I left the snow covered city of Dallas....for the snow covered city of Cleveland.

Getting out of Dallas wasn't easy. When I left the house Thursday at 6AM snow had been falling for 3 hours. I figured since my flight left at 7:25AM (one of the first 10 flights for my airline out of DFW airport) , there was a good chance of getting out quickly. Silly me.

We left the gate on time. Over the next 2 hours 20 minutes my plane was deiced 2 1/2 times. The snow was falling faster than the deicers could deice the plane. This wasn't helped by the fact that the deicers were working very slowly. Not all their fault....they don't deice planes often in Dallas.

The new Passenger Bill of Rights states we can only have passengers on board for 3 hours. After that the airline faces fines of $27,500 per passenger. My plane took off with 30 minutes to spare. Of course if we had gone back to the gate after three hours the flight would have simply cancelled and all the passengers would have been SOL. Why would it cancel? Well the flight is scheduled for 3 hours. We had already been out for 2 hours (once we back off the gate a clock starts which monitors my flying time...even if I never take off). If we had tried to leave again we would go to the back of the deice line that was at least 2 1/2 hours long. So 4 1/2 hours would be spent on the ground. Add the three hours in flight and that leaves 30 minutes to spare before I hit my 8 hour a day FLYING limit.

I made it to Cleveland. My flight back cancelled before we left Dallas. I was supposed to wait for 4 hours to deadhead (fly as a passenger) back to Dallas. Well the snow kept falling and all flights from Cleveland to Dallas cancelled. Off to the hotel.

There is a slight problem. My Captain and one of the flight attendants didn't bring any clothes....or a suitcase at all. Their schedule has them flying Dallas to Cleveland to Dallas 3 times a week. Ooops. I don't think I would ever be brave enough to not bring a suitcase.

My airline is in crisis mode as planes and crews are scattered around the midwest. I was called 5 times in 6 minutes by scheduling asking why I wasn't signed in for standby in Dallas. They apparently didn't know that I was in Cleveland. Took them a bit to figure it out. I never answered the phone as I am not required too.

As of now I fly the first flight out of Cleveland in over 24 hours leaving at 11:25AM. There are over 200 passengers and only 70 seats. The flight is already full of passenger who hold tickets for my flight. The other 130+ passengers are from cancelled flights.

Once I get back to Dallas...who knows. I wouldn't mind flying somewhere else. No desire to clear the snow off my car. Too bad my plane doesn't fly anywhere warm right now. Bleh.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cables and holes

I was able to get a block of 5 days off next week and thought about doing a minication. I looked at using our free cruise (it expires in a few weeks). It looks like we could use it. Kelli gave me the, "Are you F*!(ing serious look?" Why did I not using the word Fucking? Hmmm. Eh.

So as of 7:41AM on February 9th we are not going on a cruise this month. True we just came back from a cruise a few days ago. Bleh.

My gadgets need power. Power comes from holes. I need cables to connect my gadgets to the holes.

Normally I pack a spare power adapter for each of my portable computers. The power adapters are used almost 100% on the road and live in my suitcase. A few days ago I made this mistake of using a spare power adapter at home. I went to work yesterday without the power adapter for my Macbook Pro. Ugh. Thankfully I had time to sign into work, come home and go back. Never again.

New photos up at . Proof of legs now exist.

Not sure if I can wait till October for a new phone. October is going to be a bad month to try and get a new phone. The Anticoupe (name of the week) will be competing for Kelli's cash as well. Hmmmm. store is down. Maybe new Macbook Pro's today?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Not if, but when

In my 20+ years of having a computer as my best friend, I've learned how important it is too back stuff up.

Back in College I had one nasty virus that wiped out everything on my hard drive. I had just upgraded the hard drive and was in the process of over-writing the old hard drive (since everything worked I figured I didn't need the data anymore) when the virus wiped out everything on both. Ugh. Never again.

Since then I have never had a virus. Ever. I practice safe computing. Much like safe sex. I don't open attachments. I don't click on "weird" links. I don't fill out forms on questionable sites. Of course I have enough knowledge to know what a "weird" link

In addition to safe computing I back up.

When I was a kid, my parents took photos with a film camera. The pictures were inserted in these HUGE photo albums and the negatives went....somewhere. The photos were safe from virus...but fire/flood/natural disaster could still destroy them.

Today I (like most) take digital photos. I can't remember the last time I printed out a "real" photo. Maybe when I mailed photos to my dad. Eh.

Digital photos can be wiped out by viruses....or an Operating System "glitch" (Apple had a nasty "glitch" which deleted random data recently!).....or a failed hard drive....or by accidentally deleting them. To protect against this I back up. Big time.

Every time I transfer photos to ANY computer a process starts. Within a few hours of being transfered to a computer, each photo ends up being existing in 4 different places:

1. On the original computer

2. In a shared folder on my Home Server

3. In a backup file on my Home Server

4. In a secured location at

The last one is new. Hard drives are mechanical devices that will eventually fail. I have lost quite a few hard drives over the years. My Home Server has multiple hard drives inside. All my important data is duplicated on each hard drive. Even if one fails....the data is still on the others. But what if the house burns down, we are robbed, Kelli goes crazy a destroys my man cave.....really bad stuff. Hence Carbonite.

Carbonite is a service which backs up data from a single computer for a few dollars a month. Once installed there is nothing for the user to do. Everything happens in the background.

The initial backup took a few days. Now everything just seeps across the Internet in an encrypted format. It's a horrible feeling knowing an important digital photo/file is gone forever. Been drunk over it....never going to happen again.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I got to go fast

Flew up to Des Moines yesterday. The flight started with the 2nd worst turbulence I've ever had. For 8 minutes the turbulence was so bad I couldn't read my gauges for 5-15 second spurts. I had one hand on the thrust levers and one hand on the yoke (the "steering wheel"). It was exciting too going through a tunnel in a rollercoaster as we were in the clouds the entire time. After the plane cleared the turbulence we were rewarded with a 184 MPH (160 knots) tailwind. This helped make the flight that left almost 45 minutes late, arrive just 8 minutes late. For a long time I was flying at 722 MPH.

On the display below, the TAS is True Airspeed (how fast we are moving through the air)  GS is ground speed (how fast we are moving across the ground) . Right below the letters KDSM are the numbers 212/159. That means the wind is blowing from heading 212 degrees at 159 knots. In the next 13 minutes the plane traveled 102 miles. Crazy.

Of course on the flight back we had a 160 knot headwind...took an extra 24 minutes to get back...and that was with the Captain flying at 83% the speed of sound.

Kelli gives me no sympathy when I get crappy assignments for work....she always says, "but it's your job." While this is true...I want to do what I want to do. Eventually my seniority will be high enough to allow me to have some say in what I do. Right now I am thinking by the end of the year or this time next year I should be able to sit at home each month and get full pay without having to go to work. I should be on the top of the reserve list where pilots don't get used as much, versus being on the bottom right now. Could help with I-Mixed.

None of my friends has taken me up on the idea of working for an airline part time. A part time gate agent works 20 hours a week yet gets full flight benefits. Of course most of my friends have full time jobs. Eh.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I don't want a pad

The I-Pad. Neat device. Not for me. If it could run more than one application at a time (like my G1 does) I would consider it. It would be nice to listen to music while browsing the web or watch a movie while browsing the web...I do both on my laptop. The CPU in the I-Pad is very powerful....but Apple crippled the operating system.

I built a cheap ($60!) computer yesterday. I bought my first motherboard and CPU in at least a year...I think. The CPU is an AMD II X4 620. Basically a quad core AMD CPU running at 2.0 GHz. The computer will power the media in the house. Right now I pump our video and audio for various devices from two different computers. Once I am done it will all be handled by one. Simplification. I wanted a smaller case....that will have to wait till next month. I couldn't justify the extra money this month.

Right now I am sitting in the bowels of DFW airport...morning airport standby. Boo.

Most of my days are spent listening/watching podcast. Podcast are like TV shows/radio shows concentrating on a certain topic. Most of mine are computer related although a handful are travel related. One of the travel podcast is called The Crew Lounge. I passed a question their way a few weeks ago, they recently answered it on episode 5. I'm famous!

Hmmm I need to find a way to fill up another 5 1/2 hours.......I really should learn a new language.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm a doctor dammit not a geek!

So until yesterday I thought this whole preggo thing Kelli has been gabbing about was fake. She just made it up....started eating more...injecting herself with fake syringes and popping a bunch of pills. Ha...just kidding.

Yesterday I went to the OBGYN with her for the first time. I swear that office is a man hating group. I always had the most uncomfortable chair in the room.

The sonogram machine that I sat next too yesterday was brand spanking new. The last time I was there it was an older machine with a tiny black & white monitor. This new machine had huge LCD monitors and a spot on the back that I swear was for men to plug in laptops and other toys.

The doctor did have a some issues getting the machine to cooperate. Lots of clicking and wondering out loud. At some point she called for the "cheat sheet". Pretty funny. She did admit she didn't get much training and that, "Darren you would be quite amused if you saw some pilot in the cockpit with a manual, scratching his head and pushing buttons." True.

Photos are up at Byrdintheoven. I did see the legs. Not wanting to seem like a pedophile but I think I saw 4 leg like appendages. Two legs, the power cord and possibly a pepe.

Not really happy with the new Zune computer. It's small...but the CPU is a 4 year old Celeron 2.0 GHz. Slow. Hmmm. I haven't built a computer in almost 2 years. Might make a trip to Fry's today.

Marin (of ) turns 3 on February 7th. Wow time flies. Would be nice if I-Mixed came out already 3 and potty trained. Hmm ya know how the directions for cake are like 45 minutes at 350 degrees? What if you turned it down to 25 degrees? So maybe there could be a drug to slow down I-Mixed for say...3 years. Hmmm no wait that won't work. So much for typing out loud.

I can't wait till I have like 6 weeks vacation a year......there are soooo many cruise deals. I am on a mailing list. Cheaper to cruise than live in Euless!

Cruise photos will be up today....pinky swear.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Each time I try to make my life better....ugh

It's not secret that I love computers. I sleep next to one....a big green one.

When Kelli met me I literally had 15 computers WIRED (no wireless baby) together in a 500 square foot apartment. It was ugly...but I lived alone.

Since then Kelli has been putting something in the air (I can't say food....she doesn't cook) to get me to reduce the number of computers. Right now I have 4 computers and 2 laptops. One computer is the server that downloads tons of video to stream to the Xbox 360, records and serves up video for the security cameras and backs up the other computers. Another is my bedroom computer that I use mostly late at night while watching the news and in the morning while....watching the news. The third is a computer that used to serve up music to the XBOX and fill up our Zune HD's. The third is being replaced with a smaller...more energy efficient (and quieter) computer.

I had a Dell GX260 in storage that is perfectly suited to stream music and load up our Zunes. The computer is small and quiet. The computer it's replacing is the exact opposite.

Moving all the music and data takes time. During this time I foolishly upgraded the software on the server that serves up video (I use Tversity). This meant this morning I HAD NO MEDIA! No music! No Video! I was going nuts. The software upgrade reset a crucial setting that allows video to be streamed from the server. Took me 15 minutes to figure this out. All is better now. It was a tense morning. I hate silence and never watch "real" tv after 7AM.

Some time soon Kelli and I need to get started on the room for I-Mixed (name of the week...sounded funnier in my head).

I got an email for the following cruise offer:

New interline rates posted for Carnival, Celebrity, NCL and Royal Caribbean.... incredible price on the Norwegian Sun, South America Cruise on Feb. 14th for 14 Nts. Rates from $299/Inside, $399/Oceanview, $599/Oceanview with Balcony and $899/Suite

Wow....$299 for a 2 week cruise! is sooooo getting in the way of my vacations!

Really want a new slot machine.

Still workin' on those vacation photos.