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.

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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.

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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.