Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Prius effect

Been driving a Prius as my main car since January 1st. It's changed me.

The whole idea of a Prius is getting good gas mileage. To date I'm averaging 47.2 MPG.

My next car is still roughly 3 years 10 months away. But cars are my life...I've begun looking...and it depresses me.

Prior to driving the dorkmobile Prius 25 MPG was fine with me. My 2003 Toyota Matrix, 2005 Acura TSX and 2008 Mazda 5 all averaged....25ish MPG. I was happy.

Now that's not enough.

I dig not spending a lot of money on gas.

Additionally I like having a hatchback. The Matrix and 5 were hatchbacks. Crazy useful. The Prius is a hatchback...I dig hatchbacks.

My list right now is as follows:

VW Passat TDI (not a hatchback, but stellar gas mileage)

Audi Q5 (hatchback, but iffy gas mileage)

Ford Edge (ditto hatch, but decent gas mileage)

Volvo XC60 (currently top of the list, iffy gas mileage hatchback)

Of not all but the VW are SUVs. There is an Audi A3 TDI hatchback, but it's very small. So no go.

The Volvo XC60 is a mid-size SUV. I like most things about it. If I go with the Volvo I hope to pick it up in Europe.

Volvo has an overseas delivery program that includes airfare, hotel and european insurance while driving around. This is a way to get a nice vacation, drive our new car and not pay for a rental car. Once the vacation is over you can drop it off at one of several locations and it will be shipped to your home city in the United States. Pretty nifty.

One nice thing about the don't see them at every stop light.

Also Volvo has a 5 year warranty, 5 years of free scheduled maintenance, and 5 years roadside assistance. Will check them out at the next autoshow.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I got the time....taking it slow

Avoiding the highway. I rarely have to be anywhere quickly. This came across my mind a few weeks ago.

So I started taking side roads. Driving a Prius....I get better mileage this way.

My mileage has increased from 44MPG average to a solid 49MPG average. This is due to the lower speeds while on side roads and the increased stop and go driving.

Driving a Prius is like a video game. The object is to get as many miles per gallon as possible.

In addition to side roads I have a few other "techniques":

1- I never accelerate toward a red light if possible. No matter how far away the light is, if no one is behind me I coast

2 - I drive as smoothly as possible. I drive like I fly, smooth and slow turns (Kelli corners like she is on a mission sometimes).

3- I turn off the A/C and crack the windows on nice days. I do miss my sunroof....

4 - Tire pressure is checked regularly. Like weekly

5 - Leave extra crap at home . I take out any excess cargo

That's about it. As much as I enjoy getting great mileage. I am eagerly looking forward to my next car in 4 years and 2 months.

I think about it often. I was intrigued that Lexus Certified Preowned cars now have a 3 year from date YOU buy it or 100,000 miles...whichever comes first. This is better than a new car warranty on a Prius. Not too shabby as one could buy a 3 year old Lexus with 30K miles leaving 3 years or 70K miles of bumper to bumper warranty left. That's just one line of cars. I'm also interested in a VW TDI (Passat most likely), Kia Optima, Dodge Charger, Mercedes C series, Toyota FJ Cruiser and of course the Ford Flex.

For now...taking it slow.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My new HP Android Touchpad

So my touchpad that I ordered August 21st arrived two days ago. The delay was due to HP running out during the fire sale.

I played with Web OS (the default operating system) for a day. I planned on installing Android ASAP. Lucky for me that day was today!

The install process was extremely easy. The Android ROM flavor (Gingerbread) was made possible by a team known as Cyanogenmod.

I've been using Cyanogenmod ROMS for years.

My first experience with Cyanogenmod was with my T-Mobile G1. I later installed Cyanogenmod on my Nexus One and am patiently waiting to install it on my Thunderbolt.

Android on the Touchpad isn't perfect....but it's pretty good and I am happier using it over Web OS.

The main reason for getting the Touchpad (aside from it being super cheap) was for Natali.

She's been using touch screens since she was 3 months old. She is used to them.

Natali's new game is from Baby First called Peek-A-Boo I See You!

A little baby comes on the screen then hides behind one of three objects. The baby sticks out a hand or foot to give a hint as too where he is. Natali is very good at it.

I truly think when Natali goes to school she will be issued a tablet over a book. Lucky for her she will be used to touch screen and tablets by then.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Buying a used house

Tomorrow we are buying a used house. It's about 7 years old. One family lived in it. Three dogs. EH.

We are closing on our refinancing. Final rate is 3.25%....15 year fixed. Total money out of pocket at closing ? -$175. Yep we are getting money back . We then won't owe a payment till December 1st. Not too shabby.

Odd rules about refinancing in Euless. The occupants are not allowed to have their belongings in the house if refinancing. So we are hiring a moving company to put all our stuff in a truck for a few hours while we sign paperwork.

I might need to upgrade the hard drive in my Macbook Pro. Currently running a 128GB SSD and a 500 GB 7200 RPM drive. The 500 is almost full.

My Macbook Pro is my "main" computer. I'm going to debate going through the heartburn of moving off all the stuff I don't need....or just popping in a terabyte hard drive and moving stuff over. Eh.

Kidding about putting our stuff in a truck by the way.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oh my....

I've always liked coffee....that's a lie. I love coffee.

I don't care for fruu fruu coffee. No Ice Mochacrapochinos. I like black coffee. No I love black coffee.

For a while I've been using a french press. It was eco-friendly but time consuming. It made decent coffee.

I used a cheap coffee bean grinder. Eh.

Keurig makes neat machines. My sister in law Kelly has one. It's neat, but I couldn't accept having to buy coffee K-cups for each cup. The average price is $0.66 per cup.

So I did research. I found I could use a reuseable K-cup. I researched the reuseable kcups and settled on the ekobrew reuseable cup. I then bought a Keurig B70 Platinum model from Kohls for way less than on Amazon.

It arrived. I was happy....until I tried to use my grinder and the ekobrew. Bad coffee.

More research. I found I needed burr grinder as the cheap steel knife models don't produce a fine even grind. Done.

Burr coffee grinder plus my Keurig has made me very happy. Smooth, conisistent black coffee. I am so happy I could...well be happy. It's awesome. And cheap.

I buy coffee on Amazon for an average of $3.50 a pound. Not sure how many cups I'll get just yet....but I'm betting at least 20 cups which will be about $0.16 a cup.

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to blow $2000 in 1 hour

So I was hanging out with Natali Sunday when I noticed the temperature on the freezer blinking. I knew it wasn't normal.

I checked inside and everything was frozen. A quick Google search showed it blinks when it's unable to maintain the set temperature. Crap.

I tried unplugging and replugging in the power cable. From that point on the compressor never started. Crap.

Another Google search showed troubleshooting. From what I found it was a bad compressor. Repair cost ranged from $400-$700 IF you could find a repairman.

Several postings stated they couldn't find a repair company (even through Samsung!) to fix a Samsung fridge. Crap.

I looked through websites for local repair companies. None listed Samsung. Crap.

Solution. New fridge. I wanted a french door model.

We hit Lowes first since we buy everything there (lawn equipment, washer, dryer, dishwasher, back door....etc). They only had 6 months no interest, but did have 10% off plus 5% off with a Lowes card. We found a GE unit we liked (we were anti-Samsung). Lowes could install a new fridge next day for free. And haul away the old for free.

We then hit Home Depot. They had 12 months no interest and a little better pricing, but a MUCH smaller showroom. We found one we liked and said we might be back.

We then hit Conns. Conns and I go way back. I went to Conns with my first house in my past life. When I left college my mom let me live in one of her houses.

I bought a fridge, washer, dryer, dishwasher and TV from Conns. They currently had 3 years no interest, good pricing...but couldn't deliver until Wednesday. No good because we both work Wednesday.

On the way back to Lowes I stopped by a Sears appliance center. Good pricing...but no delivery until Tuesday. While at Sears the salesman showed me a feature only on Samsung fridges.

The freezer portion of Samsung french door model opens with just a finger. The handle breaks the vacuum pressure versus having to yank on the door. Sold. But not from Sears.

We went back to Lowes. The Samsung model we liked wasn't in stock. We decided to go with a larger model....29 cubic feet.

Last night we had a bad storm blow through. Blew a fence panel down. When it rains it pours.

Kelli found a repairman on craigslist that has a small business. Forty bucks later fixed this morning.

The fridge was delivered and installed this afternoon. Quick and easy.

In good news our refinance is taking longer than expected. Rates went down since we started.

We were locked in at 3.5%. Rates are now at 3.25%. A quick call to Wells Fargo got us 3.25%. Nice.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Good nights sleep

Not sure how long we've had our sleep number bed....but I like it.

I used to wake up in the middle of the night with aches and pains. No longer. Kelli has no more back pain.

Kelli is stuck on an 85 for her sleep number. I vary.

Since my job has me sleeping in 3-5 different beds a week I must stay flexible. Some nights I am a 60....others I'm a rock hard 100. Good nights sleep either way.

There is a new lens for Xbox 360 that reduces the amount of space needed. It's from Nyko. $30. Hmmm.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It just keeps falling

We got a letter in the mail from Wells Fargo yesterday. Our interest rate on our FHA ARM adjusted again as it does every year. Our new rate is going to be....2.375%. Not a typo...2.375% . It adjusted down a full percentage point.

Kelli was a little upset as we are in the process of refinancing to a 15 year fixed at 3.5%. Hmmm.

We got our house appraised last week.

When we bought our house in 2004 we paid $144,000. The current appraisal is $170,000. The median sales prices in the area are $174K. Since our house is the second smallest in the neighhorhood, that's pretty good.

Kelli is on the HCG diet...down over 10 pounds in 12 days. It's interesting. I'm just eating better. I removed refined sugar from my intake a week or so ago. Just eating low fat, low carb and minimally processed food. Our dining out bill has gone down over 99% with Kelli on the HCG and me at home making my own food.

Natali is walking. Kinda. She can take 4-5 steps in a row. Still prefers to crawl.

Looking forward to our next big vacation. Hitting Hawaii for a week in January. My mother in law is renting a huge house for a week. She did the same thing back in 2006. This house looks much nicer though.

Kelli and Natali are buying real tickets. Well Kelli is buying a ticket for Natali as Natali keeps clicking on "First Class" when she makes a cabin selection. I am going to jump seat/non-rev. I might have to go a day early...or later. Hopefully the same flight.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Five got me Six!

I'm pretty religous about monitoring my tire pressure....normally.

It's been damn hot this summer. About 2 months ago my MPG average dropped from 49MPG to 40MPG at best. I assumed it was the hot weather and increased A/C usage. About 2 months ago I got an oil change.

The dealership adjusted the tire pressure to the manufacturer setting of 35PSI. This is for "optimum ride comfort and gas mileage".

I'm an avid reader of car forums. There is a huge community at . I've been involved in forums for EVERY car I've owned.

I found a 40 PSI give me much better gas mileage with only a slight hit in comfort. After increasing the PSI to 40 in each tire last week from 35 PSI my avg MPG increased from 40.4 to 46.5. Not too shabby. I should have done this months ago.

I think I found a solution to using cheaper, yet better quality, security cameras with my IP based software. sells a box that allows 4 "normal" security cameras to be converted to IP cameras. The box is $80. Most IP cameras are $90+ for a good unit. The normal cameras go for as low as $40 to $70 for a very nice camera. Gonna go this route soon.

My allergies are going nuts with the Texas wild fires and ragweed. Ugh. When I traveled a lot it wasn't an issue. Now that I'm home studying for a bit it's bad. Boo allergies.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Your true colors are shining through

I just dusted off my soap's been sitting in the corner for a while.

I have a pretty sweet deal going on with Kelli. We have a house, decent cars, our bills are paid, and we have a great daughter. I've said it before and Kelli will whole heartedly agree it hasn't been easy.

We did things a little out of order by moving in with each other almost instantly (3 months), buying a house and THEN getting married. It has worked out.

There is a member of my family , a man, currently going through a divorce. One party has been showing their true colors lately. Basically how ugly they really are.

Throughout my past relationships I've never been ugly to the other person. Even when my college girlfriend grabbed my dreadlocks and tried to cut them off with scissors, I was never ugly. She DESTROYED my dorm room. Cops were called, she replaced everything and we went our separate ways. We are friends today.

This family member is taking it well. He is just going with the flow. His soon to be ex-wife is being a really nasty person. I don't understand how someone who once was allegedly in love with someone enough to have two kids can be so downright ugly. She has not had to be financially responsible for anything for years. Everything has been paid for by my bother in law or my mother in law. Everything. He's been paying her cell phone bills and more even after they split up...before any legal paperwork. My nieces no matter how young can pick up on it.

My brother in law is an incredibly patient man...everyone on Kelli's side of the family is patient and easy going.

Soapbox down...for now.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Where'd the geek go?

So I've been updating my other blogs...but this one has been a little dormant. Sorry about that.

This whole commuting to work in Chicago has really killed my free time. Looking forward to NOT commuting soon.

When we bought our house in 2004 a great fixed rate was 6.0% while a great ARM was 4.0%. We went with the ARM.

So far we have "won" as our rate has been as high as 6.375 and as low as 3.375 with an average of 4.92.

Kelli is on a current trip to get a fixed rate on a 15 year loan. We are locked in at 3.5% for a 15 year loan. We have lots of paper work to do.

I bought a HP Touchpad this weekend...kinda for me...kinda for Natali. They were on sale for $99...same size as an Ipad....different software.

I'm enjoying my two low power PCs . The two computers together use less than 1/4th of the power of just ONE of the previous computers. Quieter and much less heat produced.

Hopefully I can get back into updating this site....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A lot of traveling

I travel a lot...yeah I know its my job, but sometimes I feel like I never stop moving.

Last Sunday I woke up in Phoenix, flew some folks to Los Angeles, rode as a passenger to Dallas, went home, packed then flew as a passenger to Newark and went to bed in Highland Mills, New York (an hour northwest of New York City). All in one day. I went over a week without sleeping in my bed.

At the end of this month Kelli's cousin is getting married in California. Debating going. If I do go I have to fly from San Francisco to Chicago right after the wedding as I have to work the next day. Hmmm.

I've reduced the power consumption of the house dramatically by switching to dual core Atom CPUs for two computers that use 1/5th the power of the previous computers. They are also fan less (no heat or noise). Very happy with the performance. I might replace one more and be done. Of course I have to find something to do with the old computers. Hmm.

Gas mileage in my Prius has dropped dramatically over the last two months. I think its the short trips and heavy A/C usage. Down to 44MPG. Kelli's Prius is still at 51 MPG. She takes much longer trips than me. My longest trip is 12 miles. Most are under 5.

My monthly average for driving has dropped to 400 miles a month as I fly more. Last year this time I was driving to and from work 4-5 times a week. Now I drive to and from twice a week.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Making do with less

I built a computer for the first time in at least a year last week.

I bought parts for a very small and cheap computer. It's an Intel Atom D525 motherboard based computer. It's my first ITX build. The computer is the size of shoebox.

To save money I used RAM from my Macbook Pro (I upgraded the memory from 4 gigs to 8 gigs  a while back). I did buy a 40 GB Intel SSD and a 2 TB Western Digital Green drive for storage. I was going to go with just the SSD to have a computer with zero moving parts, but the constant reading and writing to the SSD from the security software worried me. It's still a nearly silent computer as the CPU has only a passive (no fan) heat sink.

I installed the security camera software and had it up and running in under an hour. My next task will be monitoring CPU usage to see if it can handle being a media server as well.

With Pandora I use my Zune HD less and less these days. Kelli has given up on her Zune HD and uses just Pandora. I cancelled the subscription to my Zune pass which ends August 7th. It will be the first time I will be without unlimited Zune music in 3+ years.

Once Zune is gone the computer that I use to load up the Zunes will quickly become unnecessary and wasteful of power. Right now it fills up the Zunes in addition to downloading podcast to serve to the Zune and our TV via the Xbox 360. The computer is also a host for tons of content (movies and TV shows) that we watch via the 360.

I'm hoping the new computer can serve up media as well. If not then I will think long and hard about how to move forward. The new computer uses less than 1/5th of the power the current media computer consumes. I could build another similar computer and craigslist/eBay the parts of the media computer. All in the name of being green....and simplifying my network.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I've been running Windows Home Server for a few years. Very stable. Lately it's been giving me fits.

The server is mainly busy recording video from the 7 security cameras. It also backs up all photos locally and online. Sometimes it locks up. I think it's the security software.

I am debating building a small dedicated security camera computer. The software is great, but the number of cameras really puts a load on the CPU. I think I could get it done for under $250. Hmmm.

My dad still digs his Ipad.

My MPG in my Prius has gone down to 44.5. I think it's lack of driving. With me being on the road 4-5 days a week the car sits a lot. Gas does evaporate. I'm still only buying gas once a month. Kelli is getting 51MPG. Of course her car is newer. Eh.

We are still loving Verizon 4G LTE.

Next big vacation is coming up. A week in New the summer. Should be good.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pimping my dad's tech

In the last week I've "pimped" my dad's technology.

He hasn't had a cellphone in years. I added him to our Verizon plan. I got him a LG Octane. A mostly basic feature phone. It does open up to reveal a second touchscreen and full QWERTY keyboard. Don't think he'll ever need it.

Saturday we traveled down to spend the day.

His current computer is about 2 years old. It's one I built it. It was decent for it's time. Now antiquated.

I thought long and hard about buying him an Imac. Most of what he does is browse the Internet and a little email. An Imac would be overkill. I thought about simply upgrading his current computer. Eh.

My dad is now the owner of an IPad.

In his 65 years on earth I think he has only used a touchscreen on ATM's.

I was worried it would be too much for him.

After pondering what apps would be easy and useful to him I loaded it up with:

CNN for Ipad

ESPN Scorecenter XL

USA Today




Two Slot Machine games

Angry Birds

After about 10 minutes he was using it like a pro. He was amazed at how fast it worked and the content he could view.


I bought him the Apple Keyboard for Ipad dock. Just in case he wanted to use the Ipad as a "computer". Not sure if he will ever use it, but it's there.

Next month I am going to go down and show him the app store and possibly port his home phone to Google Voice.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Statute of limitations

Kelli and I are going on 9 years together. Nine years.....over 3000 days. Nine years.

If I remember correctly the statute of limitations on suing is 9 years. So we both have to make really sure the other is "the one"....or sue.

A lot of changed over the last nine years. I often think about all the little choices in life that brought me to where I am today. The biggest change in direction happened with my mom passing away. If she had not left this world when she did I would likely not be living in the Dallas area. I would likely still be in Houston, working for some job I didn't really care for and married to a superficial woman who's mother hated me because of the color of my skin.

When my mom passed away my fiance left. I followed her to the Dallas area. Never reconnected. I made  few friends on AOL (yeah it wasn't as cool in 2001 as it was in 1996). Still talk to a few today.

If it wasn't for me reconnecting to my high school friend Katrina, I would have likely never joined Katrina set up my account. The rest is history. Kelli picked me. I don't think I would have picked her as I had NO TATTOOS in my prefernences.

I "worked" more in May than I have in any month since I started flying. I flew for 77 hours and 30 minutes. Due to lots of loopholes and contract language I will actually be paid for 88 hours. Of course most people "work" 120 hours a month.  So even though I "worked" less than most "normal" people, I was "at work" much longer than the average person. My average "work" day is 10 hours. Some as long as 14 hours. Most people "work" 8-9 hours. Bleh.

Father's day is coming up. I'm working on upgrading the tech my dad uses. He is currently using a 2-3 years old computer I built that runs Windows Vista

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Roku makes me happy

I've been using my Roku box in hotel rooms for a week now. Love it. I hate having to two step it by using a travel router....but it works.

I am sure other guest don't care for me hogging the bandwidth. Bleh.

I only got 46.8 MPG on my last tank. Assume it's because the car sits for long periods and gas evaporates maybe? Still better than the 27 MPG I got in my Mazda5....or the 12 MPG I got in my 1996 Ford Explorer.....gas was cheaper then.

Storm blew through the other night. Kelli is getting used to Texas storms. Lightening, hail, high winds. Cars in the southern parking lots at DFW got hit hard. Would suck to return from a trip and have all your windows smashed in.

We love the new garage door opener. It's super silent.

I am a member of both Amazon Cloud drive and Music beta by Google. Both offer free music hosting and streaming. Google is a little easier as I simply installed it in on my media computer and told it where all the music was. With Amazon I had to manually add songs. Both are interesting.

I finished Tina Fey's book Bossypants. Very good. Now on to a book by Michael J Fox. I love reading but I don't enjoy fiction. Not sure why.

Bought a cheap toner cartridge for our laser printer on Amazon. First knock off fit, but didn't work. Second one from another seller worked fine. Saved $40 instead of using a genuine Canon cartridge. I imagine this cartridge will last a year.

Debating buying my dad an Ipad or a real computer. His current computer is about 3 years old. Not sure if he'd use an Ipad. I think he would. I will decide in a week or so.

And the dogs are still alive.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

LTE, Garage Doors and Life on the Road

The updates to all my blogs has suffered the last two months. The primary reason is my commute to work. Instead of driving 5 miles. I drive 5 miles and then fly 820 miles to work. Takes up time and energy.

I'm loving my new phone. The 4.3 inch screen is just .6 inches bigger than the Nexus One....but that .6 inch means a lot. The improved camera is nice as well. Kelli and I have had a few video chats. Works very well. Natali kinda gets it.

I've already rooted my phone. No custom ROM yet though. I rooted because the mobile hotspot app was only initially free till May 15th. After that it was $20 a year. Since then they have extended it till June 15th. Eh. I still removed all the bloatware Verizon puts on the Thunderbolt. All the apps running in the background really eats up battery life.

Speaking of battery life, Kelli and I are rolling with extended batteries now. I used my employer discount to score $12 off. They were $38 a piece. Not bad. The phones are not all day phones instead of part day phones. All day meaning I can use my phone as a hot spot, MP3 player, web browser and gaming machine. I'm happy.

Kelli and Natali have weekends off. I don't. I hope too next month. They took a weekend trip to Sacramento and San Francisco. We were in the same time zone as I was down in Los Angeles. Then last weekend they took a day trip to San Antonio. Glad they can use my benefits.

While they were in San Antonio Kelli got wind of belt driven garage door openers. Much quieter than our chain unit. Chains are more durable, but loud. Each time it opens the dogs bark. Annoying. We bought a Chamberlin Belt Driven 3/4 hp garage door opener tonight from Lowes. It should be much quieter and even has a battery back up to open in case the power goes out. Lowes will install it in the next week or so.

To make my traveling easier I bought a Roku box and router. We already have a Roku box in the living room and love it. In order to use the Roku box on the road I needed a special router. Why? The Roku box can't click "ok" in hotel rooms when connecting to the hotel wifi. I bought a ASUS WL-330gE router. It's capable of taking in a wifi signal and then creating a wifi hotspot with that signal.  Worked great.

Maybe I will have weekends off next month.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Verizon LTE.....makes the geek in me smile

Our new phones (HTC Thunderbolts) arrived on the same day the Verizon LTE network went down. The phones activated fine at first. Silly me ported my number from T-Mobile to Verizon right away. This caused my Thunderbolt to go offline. Kelli's phone worked fine. I called tech support. Nothing they could do. My phone remained dead till the next day. As did my old Nexus One as it was without a number. Glad I had the day off.

Once everything was normal I was happy. The LTE network is crazy fast. My download speeds average 14Mbps with a peak of 19Mbps. Uploads average 3Mbps and as high as 5Mbps. I did speed test in Dallas, Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Houston. Perk of flying for a living.

Battery life is not as good as our Nexus Ones. We are both going to get extended batteries as soon as they are back in stock.

The HTC Sense software is growing on me. At first I hated it as I was used to plain Android. Sense is okay. Still waiting for a custom ROM.

Kelli and I have had two video chats using the QIK software on our phones. Worked great. We were both on 4G and the video was very clear even though the Thunderbolt isn't supported by QIK.

Overall we are happy. My last straw with T-Mobile was my phone not working on the cruise even though I called twice prior to make sure everything was set up. Kelli was annoyed with her phone not working in her building. I believe the reason we had data access and voice access issues is linked to the high frequency T-Mobile uses versus the low frequency Verizon uses. Lower frequinces can bust through physical structures (like brick walls) easier than higher frequencies.

Not sure what we will do with our "old" phones. Kelli will likely sell hers. I might keep mine. I still have my G1. Eh.

Natali thinks everything is touch screen and is quickly learning about technology. I bought her a toy laptop. She quickly learned when she opens it, a noise happens. She then tries to open my Macbook Pro. Hmmm yeah. She also thinks everything is a touch screen as she likes playing a certain game on the Ipad. Hmm..yeah.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Leaving Tmobile for Verizon

I signed up with T-Mobile back in 2002. They were cheap. I bought a Blackberry first "smart phone". From there I went to a T-Mobile Dash (Windows Mobile) to a T-Mobile G1 (Android) to a Nexus One (Android).

All the while getting good enough service. Lately service has gotten worse...or at least Kelli and I are annoyed the service more.

The final straw came during the cruise.

I called T-Mobile before we left and verified the phones would work on the ship and each country. Once onboard I ran into a problem...couldn't connect to the cell tower on the ship. The AT&T prepaid phone worked fine. Problem was we gave the pet sitter our cell phone numbers. Annoyed.

Problems continued in each country. Prepaid AT&T phone, which I brought as a backup, worked...our phones...dead. I would get ,"your sim card does not allow you to connect". So much for a world phone!

Ironically my brother in law has a Droid Incredible from Verizon..worked everywhere.

While in Honduras I used my Ipad to chat with T-Mobile support. After 20 no where.

Enough was enough.

Kelli has always had issues getting data at her workplace. She works in a one story building.

We are moving to Verizon....tomorrow.

They finally have Android phones with LTE which means we can use voice and data at the same time. Something I do frequently.

What phones? HTC Thunderbolts. We tested them a few weeks ago. Through my employer we can get the phones for $199...or $50 off. Pretty hefty discount on the plans which will end up costing close to what we pay now. We were a go to switch when our current billing is up with T-Mobile.

Then Amazon went and dropped the price to $129.99 per phone. Sold! We will get two phones for $258 all in or just a bit more than the cost of one from the local Verizon store.

Total monthly cost of T-Mobile after discount and including taxes is $123. Verizon will be $111 before close. Of course we will give up text messaging in favor of Google Voice.

In order to make it easy for Kelli to actually use Google Voice she will port her old phone number TO Google Voice. She never used her old Google Voice number because...she didn't want to have to give it out to everyone. I will be porting my main number to my new phone and keep using my Google Voice number. I only get a handful of text at my real number, will simply correct everyone when they text me.  Kelli will be getting a new main number that she will never need to learn or give out.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Preparing for the cruise

We are less than 2 weeks away from our cruise. Final preparations have started.

This will Natali's 15th we have the whole flying with a kiddo thing down. What is new is packing for her and us for 8 days.

In the past Kelli and I got by with just a carry on each. We went to Tokyo for a week....with just a carry on each. For the last two cruises we had just a carry on. This time we are going big.

We took a look at a few suitcases last weekend. I know suitcases as I use one for work. I go for function over form. Most of the bags sold in the employee store at the airport are carry on size. I needed bigger.

When I first started flying, my first bag was a Delsey. It was lightweight and very durable. Kelli has been using that bag since. It's awesome.

I found a 29 inch Delsey bag at Kohls. It was "half off" at $140. I think luggage is always half off. Bleh.

Because I am me I had to do better than $140. Turns out Kohls had the lowest price (a few Internet stores had a price close....but they were shady). I signed up a Kohls card and used an Internet only discount code for 30% off. Total price....$97+$8 tax and free shipping. I wish they had store pickup. It should arrive in time.

When we bought our house it came with two ceiling fans. One in the living room and one in the Master bedroom. The rest of the rooms were braced for fans though.

I installed 3 Hunter brand fans. Pain in the ass in one of the rooms due to the vaulted ceiling. Even the regular rooms were annoying. Ugh. I forgot how bad it was.

The fans that came with the house are basic fans. They were white and attracted dust like Austin attracts liberals.

We used some of our tax return money to buy two new fans. I did research (I ALWAYS DO RESEARCH!) and once again found Hunter to be the best. We both like how they are quiet, powerful and are NEVER dusty.

I upsized from the 52 inch fan that came with the house to a 60 inch fan. The extra 8 inches is nice (that's what she said).

Took me about an hour to take the old fan down and put the new one up.  I did have to make a Home Depot run for different mounting screws....just like I did when we bought the house.

The rest of the tax return money went to tires for my Prius and to my pilot loan. It's about half paid off in 5 years. Not too bad.


Monday, March 21, 2011

The perfect son was born

Kelli got her annual raise...she now makes double what I bring home. When we met I made a bit more than her. She passed me long before I became a pilot. One day maybe I will make more....until then she wears the pants and I iron them.

Thirty four years ago at 7:40AM a 10 pound 13 ounce baby boy walked out and said "cut me some slack." My parents were in shock and my mom quickly had her tubes tied....the perfect son was here....why risk having something less? That's the way I like to think of the tying of her tubes.

Kelli and I don't have a perfect marriage....but it's pretty good. We each have a career we enjoy, a house we can afford, a partner we enjoy spending time with and of course a healthy child. Life for us is pretty good.

My schedule next month is set. For only the third time in 3 1/2 years I know exactly what flights I will do each month as well as what time I will be done each day. The bad thing is I will be based in Chicago.

The schedule was built with 15 days off. Because of my vacation I will have 23 days off. I will be losing about 20 hours of pay though so I will have to make it up on some of those 23 days.

The flights I do are nice and long. I get to overnight in Oklahoma City, Denver and Los Angeles. Should be fun.

I'm 34 years old....I act 24 years old....and feel 45 years old. Bleh.

Friday, March 18, 2011

SSD....I was all wrong....and I'm okay with that

I love's one thing I love about flying. The plane I fly can fly at 85% the speed of sound. It can go ZERO to 150 MPH in under 12 seconds. I love speed.

My current Macbook Pro is a 2.4 GHz Core I5. It was nice when I bought it. But I wanted more speed.

I initially installed a 7200RPM Western Digital 500 GB drive. It was faster than the stock 5400RPM 320 GB drive. Still I wanted more.

SSD's....Solid State Drives...can be super fast....but also super expensive. I paid $70 for my 500 GB 7200RPM drive. A similar sized SSD would be over $1200!!! Ouch. I found a smoking deal on a 120GB Intel SSD this week and bit the a birthday gift to myself. In order to pay for it I have picked up gobs of overtime in the last month.

I installed it last night. Wow. I am still shocked about how fast it is. With my 7200 RPM drive I would wait 3-10 seconds for Safari to open. Now it's instant. I haven't installed Windows 7 yet. Everything is zippy. I'm going to yank my DVD drive and install the 500 GB 7200RPM drive there next.

Whenever Kelli's Macbook gets "slow" I'm going to throw an SSD in. She has a 5400RPM 160GB drive in there now. She maybe uses 40 GB total so a 120GB SSD would be plenty.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Buckets of money

For the last few years the breaker that protects the guest bedroom and Natali's room would randomly trip. In the past the guest bedroom was the office which was filled with computers. Nowadays there is very little plugged in.

Sometimes it would trip in the middle of the night. Other times in the middle of the day. No rhyme or reason....except maybe when it rained. We finally got around to getting it looked at.

Every morning I see commercials for Milestone Electric. They seemed honest and straight forward.

I made an appointment online. Glad I did as the service visit was $14 versus $69. The electrician was overly nice (almost annoyingly nice) and had a price sheet right away. They charge by the job, not by the hour. A one circuit troubleshooting that was easy to get to was $259. I googled how much it cost to replace a breaker and the results shows $150-$200. Close enough for me.

He ended up replacing the breaker and checking all the outlets. The problem ended up being somewhat simple.

When the house was built (by Lennar) the electrician inserted the electric wires in the outlets straight into the adapter and screwing it down versus wrapping the wires around the post and screwing them down. Because of this a few were loose. Whenever the wires expanded or contracted the wires would arc just enough to trip the breaker. Nice eh? At least I know if it happens in another room I can fix it.

A few years ago we set up a "house account". The purpose was to put money aside each month to save up for house repairs. We have repaired the A/C and fence thus far. Now the electrical system. It's nice having buckets of money to pull from. We also have a baby account....for whenever Natali needs something like a new toy, laptop or whatever.

Tax return money should be in soon. I think we are going to replace the ceiling fans in the living room and master bedroom. The other rooms have fans I installed. They don't collect dust near as much as the two that came with the house.

Second tank of gas on my new "low rolling resistance" tires resulted in 49.7 MPG. Still a 2.5 MPG improvement over the "regular" all season tires that were on it.

Subwoofer has finally been installed in my Prius. Finally got the electrical stuff figured out. The Prius is a regular car as far as stereo stuff. A little easier as the battery is in the trunk versus under the hood.

The dogs are still alive.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My version of "Modern Family"

I married into an interesting family. We'd make a great reality show....sitcom.....kinda like "Modern Family".

First up....Kelli, Natali and myself. She is a white Democrat, Natali is a bi-racial daughter and I am a black Republican. Kelli and I have little in common. She knows how to kill me without being caught. I could fly away with Natali and never be seen again. Yin and Yang. I'm going through life with the pedal to the metal while laughing at the scenery. Kelli is taking time to appreciate the scenery and goes at her own pace. I hate recycling. She hugs trees. I despise liberals. She is a liberal. Natali is stuck in the middle.

Second at bat are Jami, Kelly and Haley. A Lesbian couple with a daughter from a previous lesbian marriage. Haley is Jami's daughter who used sperm from a gay man. Jami and Kelly are both somewhat reserved. Out of the four couples, they are the most alike. Jami is a Nurse, Kelly is a Social Worker while Haley is a Princess. Three females, three different last names in one house.

Third at bat are Kevin, Jenny, Gianna and Renee. Kevin is a NYPD cop who is quiet and reserved. Jenny is a slick tongued Italian nurse who never stops. Gianna is a 5 year old little girl who is just like her mother. Renee is a one year old who is like her father. Split household personality wise. Hilarity ensues.

Headed for home are Bryan and Jessi who live in Oregon. Bryan is the guy you have on speed dial to pick you up at 5AM after your car broke down and need a ride home. He is a big imposing guy that, like Kevin, is quiet, reserved and could crush your head if the need arose. Jessi is a teacher who is not afraid to let you know what's on her mind. Headstrong and head of the household. Bryan and Jessi are young and just getting started on making their mark in the world. Bryan has a dog that Jessi doesn't care for. Jessi has of which is a little crazy. Bryan is allergic to cats.

Waiting in the dugout (Oregon)  are Peggy and John. Peggy is like an operator of yesteryear. She keeps ties on her kids in Oregon, California, Texas and New York while helping run the family business. Peggy travels almost as much as a traveling salesman with frequent flier accounts on three different airlines. Peggy, like all of her children, is quiet and reserved. John is not as reserved.  John is a hard worker who will take any chance he gets to go have fun at the Casino.  He is also a dreamer who is often thinking of the next great invention. Peggy tracks the money, John spends the money.

They all get together at least once a year. It's nonstop laughter, yelling, joking, glaring and fun.....and some how they tolerate me. All different....yet I love being a part of it all. My modern family.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Why do women have to be so smart?

Kelli has her Masters degree. I have a bachelors. I also have a commercial pilots license. Eh. Kelli wins.

I have only had 3 serious relationships in my life. All three women though have, or are in the process of attaining, advanced degrees. They are all different (Lawyer, Educator and Scientist) yet all were not satisfied with "good enough" bachelors degrees. Eh. Why the need to be so smart? Bleh.

Back in 1995 I got into email. Back then when someone forwarded a joke it was truly funny and the first time one was likely to see it. No longer true today.

Back then though I wanted more people to contact via email than just the geeks on my dorm room floor. I copied a few of the email addresses attached to a forwarded message and replied. I got one or two replies. One was from a woman named Jodi Coleman.

Jodi was also a freshman college student a Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. We emailed back and forth for the entire school year and part of the next. Lost touch after that. I think I emailed her once in 2001....but that was it.

A few weeks ago I was going through my Hotmail address book and saw her name. Searched her on Facebook, and we are back in touch again. It's been 16 years...never met her in person. Ironically she lives in Pittsburgh, PA where I did a ton of overnights in 2008/2009. Eh.

Prius is doing well. Still getting 48-50 MPG. Still haven't finished installing the subwoofer. Might never. Eh.

Ipad 2 is pretty cool. Thinner, faster and lighter. Would be great for my mother in law. She is just getting into her Kindle though. Maybe next year.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Screw you

Kelli and I both signed up with to sell our used electronics. They said they would ship us boxes. The never arrived. They sent emails stating the boxes should have arrived. Bleh. I think it's a scam...they never ship the boxes. They want us to use our own boxes. Bleh.

Kelli is selling her Kindle DX. She paid $425 for is almost two years ago. She is getting $140 for it. Not horrible. She reads on her phone and Ipad now. I told her she should just get a Kindle Wifi for $139 and keep the extra buck for a pack of gum.

Still digging the Roku box.

Bought a new baby monitor. Our previous unit was a "BébéSounds Angelcare Movement Sensor w. Sound Monitor". It worked okay but had a lot of static if there were any other devices plugged in to an outlet in that room. We charge a lot of stuff...a lot of static.

The new unit is a Motorola Digital Audio Baby Monitor with Room temperature sensor. No more static! The con is there is only one unit while the last one had two.

Still looking for a new credit card for gas purchases. My last card was a Citibank Drivers Edge card. It was awesome. I got 3% back on gas purchases PLUS $0.01 per mile I drove. I had the card for my Acura and Mazda. In total I got over $500 back in miles driven on top of another $300 back via gas purchases and vehicle maintenance purchases. Sadly the card is going away.

My Nexus One is almost a year old. Still don't see the need for a new phone. It's just that good.

After my first tank with my new Bridgestone Ecopia EP100 tires I can report I got 3MPG better than with the Michelin Destiny tires. The Destiny tires aren't designed for high gas mileage, but for comfort. The Ecopias are very comfortable for me. The extra MPG meant another 40 miles before I had to fill up. Even with $3+ gas it was under $20 to fill up.

Still haven't finished installing the subwoofer in the Prius yet.

I have this odd thing I do where I lift my shirt over my nose when I watch TV. Natali does the same thing while sleeping. Maybe it's genetic. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cheap entertainment

Kelli and I took some time away from Natali and headed to a Casino. We wanted to go somewhere overnight, but between full flights and Natali having a really bad day it didn't work.

In the past we always left Winstar Casino broke. Not this time.

We each brought $100. We haven't been there in years. A lot has changed. It's HUGE! It's the 3rd biggest the world. The number of slot machines, places to eat and table games is mind blowing then you consider it's at mile marker 1 in Oklahoma. There is no big city around.

We played just slots. They finally have "name brand" slots, the same models we see in Vegas. We went up and down. Ate dinner (very reasonable prices!) and then played more. Right before we left Kelli hit $120 and that put us $0.12 positive. We left. Several hours of fun for just $0.12 plus gas. I averaged 50.1 MPG so it was just 2 gallons of gas each way. Cheap entertainment.

My mother in law, Peggy,  watched Natali while we were gone. We non-rev'd Peggy here. The flight was w-i-d-e open. Getting her back was a little tricky. The flights filled up....and were overbooked.

Kelli put Peggy on a 5PM flight that was overbooked by 8 passengers. That meant if everyone showed up 8 people who had real tickets wouldn't be getting a seat.

I was at the airport on standby. I went over to her gate and hung out. Boarding began. The computer showed all seats assigned. Twenty minutes to departure the agent called Peggy up to make sure she was there and to let her know she *might* get a seat.

Sure enough 7 minutes to departure 14 people failed to arrive. Peggy got a seat. The flight overbooked by 8 went out with 4 empty seats. Nice.

I got new tires on the Prius. I went with Bridgestone Ecopia's. They are a LRR (Low Rolling Resistance) tire. The difference between the previous Michelin Destiny's and the Ecopia's are profound. The Destiny is a regular all season tire designed for a quiet and soft ride.

The Ecopias are a sumer tire (not designed for snow or now off roading!) designed for a quiet ride and maximum gas mileage. I previously struggled to get 46MPG. I am currently getting 50.2 MPG. That 4MPG is a nice jump. I read about the tires via a Tire Rack article pitting several different tires against each other on identical cars ( ).

The Roku and Hulu Plus is interesting. Lots of content, but not all content on is available on Hulu Plus streaming. Annoying.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Holy Roku!

Roku box arrived Friday. I had it up an running in under 5 minutes. Even the average consumer could have it working in under 10 minutes.

First thing I did was setup Netflix. Easy. The interface is snappier and easier to use than the Xbox 360 Netflix interface.

Next up was Hulu Plus. Hulu Plus has a 1 week free trial and then it's $8 a month. I was unsure of it. The amount of content is equal to, if not better than Netflix. The most recent airing of each TV show is available plus all of the current and many of the past seasons. This will come in handy if we forget to record a show or if a recording messes up (the timing is off). I think we will keep Hulu Plus. One of the first things we watched on Hulu Plus? The first episode of Doogie Howser.

My mother in law arrives this week. I am going to give her a tour of Roku. I think it would benefit her as she records just as many shows as we do. With Roku + Hulu she would never need to worry about missing a TV show.

In theory the Roku box could be taken with me on the road. It only needs an Internet connection. Hmmm.

My bladder can't hold as much when it's cold. Sometimes it holds much less. The bladder I'm referring to is in my Prius. The second generation Prius (2004-2009) has a bladder fuel tank. The bladder is smaller in the cold and bigger when it's warmer. Thus in winter you can't put as much fuel inside. The third generation Prius has a "normal" gas tank. The bladder system was designed to reduce emissions. Bleh.

Two months until our cruise.

Natali is 6 months old now. She's changed a lot in the past week....almost like she was waiting for her 6 month mark to surprise us. She is "talking" a LOT more, crawling (albeit backwards), mastered the pacifier in and out, rewired the network for increased throughput,  sleeping all night and then some, sleep on her side, and just loves solid food. Kidding about the network rewiring although she did give me a fews tips.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dropping Gold

For a few years I've been paying Microsoft around $45 a year for Xbox Live Gold. Most people do this to play online. I don't play online much. Not $45 worth anyway. Another benefit was being able to watch Netflix streaming on the Xbox. We watch a lot of streaming Netflix.

I got to thinking...I'm paying $45 a year just primarily just to watch Netflix. If I had a PS3 it would be free. I can watch for free via our Wii...but it's only 480P. Enter Roku.

I bought my dad a Roku box for Fathers Day last year. He loves it. It's been 100% reliable for him....and all he watches is Netflix. There is a lot more to watch via Roku. I tried to show him but all he cares about is Netflix.

Amazon is having a sale on the mid-level Roku box right now. Normally $79, just $69 if you Tweet "I just got a $10 credit towards a Roku XD Player from @amazonvideo and @rokuplayer. Click here to get yours: #rokudeal". I did. Bought it.

This mid-level box has everything I would want. In fact I paid $99 for the Roku box I bought my dad which is now the base level Roku box selling for $59.

Box arrives tomorrow. I love Amazon Prime.

We will now be able to watch streaming Netflix, Hulu Plus (if we miss a TV show we can watch it the next day), Amazon Video on Demand and more. Can't wait.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blowing up my speakers

I replaced one speaker in my car last week with plans to replace the other one later. Later was yesterday as the other front speaker blew. WTF?!?! I don't think  I listen to excessively loud music. I am glad I never blew a speaker when the car still under Kelli's rule.

Still looking for tires. Should have new ones by next week.

We bought a HD video camera. Best Buy had a 720P flash memory camera on sale for $40. Used to be $119. Got it yesterday. I didn't read the directions as I am a geek. I ASSUMED the battery was built in. It took me an hour to figure out why the camera would only work while plugged in. I assumed the battery needed to charge. battery installed. Doh!

Been working a lot lately. I love my job most of the time. Still don't care for having just 8 hours between the time I walk off the airplane at night and have to walk back into the airport the next morning.

Down 9 pounds for the year.

Mother in law comes into town next week.

The dogs are still alive.

Our friends Jason and Jackie are expecting. For years they along with Kelli and I were NOT going to have kids. Eric and Angela had planned on having a kid. They had Marin first. We had Natali next. Now it's Jason and Jackie. Growing older makes you reconsider things. I am however positive I don't want another kid. I wanted to get "nipped" but Kelli protested. Currently there is a 5 year system in place that will (should) prevent having another kid for that span. The system? Photos of Kelli pregnant are plastered all around the house. Above the bed, in the bathroom, on her rear view mirror in her car, the fridge, all toilet seats, screen saver on her phone, Ipad and phone, every fan blade on every ceiling fan has a photo plastered to it as well. They aren't  the same photo, but random photos.

The new Prius drives way nicer than mine. The new Prius truly is a regular car. Mine is still a video game.

Speaking of cars....mine is now GEEK and hers is now DNACHK. It took the DMV a few minutes to figure out what I was requesting. I'm happy I'm no longer a CHK.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Texans and winter

Winter in Texas. We get one really bad storm a year. It's here.

The snow and ice is nutty. Coming home from DFW airport yesterday was easy until I got to the neighborhood.

I was going about 20 MPH approaching our street when I decided to slow down. I gently hit the brakes and the ABS kicked in as I slid down the road coming to rest right at our street. I turned and then idled up our street to the driveway. With a flick of my wrist I flung the car onto the sheet of ice covering the driveway and into the garage. Done.

As a kid I remember the pipes bursting in my parents house. I am Mr. Paranoid and made sure three different faucets were dripping overnight. I also made sure to get up and flush a toilet every 2 hours. Tonight will be even colder.....8 degrees.

Rolling blackouts have been issued. For whatever reason the power is still on at our house. Been on all morning. Not sure why we are so lucky.

My mother in law is coming to Texas in a week or so. Kelli and I are penciling in places to escape...err..go to while she is here. Maybe we should tell her we are planning on going somewhere.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Always inspect a used car....especially from your wife

I'm going to pay a lot more attention to the new Prius and maintenance. Why? Because while Kelli is driving it she pays the upkeep. So in a few years if I end up with it I want to make sure it's 100% before I take it over.

My 2004 Prius is in good shape. I really didn't pay much attention to it over the years unless Kelli brought something up. I got out of buying new tires for my Mazda5. I thought I would be free from buying tires for a while. Eh. The tires on the 2004 Prius are almost down to minimums. Thankfully they are literally 1/2 the price of what the Mazda5 tires would have been. I'm also going to need to spring for a transmission service soon, maybe a new battery (regular car battery not the hybrid battery), and possibly new floor mats. I should have required the previous owner to get the car up to snuff before I bought it. My fault. Ha!

My MPG has gone way up lately. My drive to work is 9 miles long. Of the 9 miles, 6 of them are at speeds of 35MPH and below. That low speed is great for a hybrid. My average is now up to 44.9 MPG. I am thinking with the new tires I want it will go up to 46.5 MPG. When summer comes I should be up to 49MPG easy (the "real" engine runs much more in winter than summer).

Flew my first flight Monday night. It was odd being back in the cockpit. I did fine. My first landing was decent enough. It was great to fly again.

Three months until we head out on our cruise. Long one....7 days!

Went to the North American Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday. Rented a Ford Fusion from Thrifty. Thrifty is my least favorite car rental company but National/Alamo was $48 for the day, Thrifty was $21. Of course the Ford Fusion had 26K of well worn miles on it. I was happy at first because the Fusions from Alamo/National have SYNC. Not from Thrifty as Thrifty is the ghetto car rental company. Bleh. The show was great. Maybe next year Kelli and Natali can come along. The original plan was for the three of us to stay the night, weather changed that idea.

I get paid again this weekend. Nice seeing my bank account go positive. I won't be back to normal until late March. Two and a half months of zero income was painful.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Smug face

I went to two different Toyota dealers today....and didn't spend a dime.

First up was Toyota of Dallas....again. There was a teeny, tiny scratch on the door panel of the new Prius. Not on the panel but the black, painted molding. I didn't find it until the day after we bought our car (one of the problems of buying a car at night!). The dealership stepped up to fix it no questions asked.

Traffic was REALLY bad on the way there. I went 4 miles at less than 10 MPH. Good thing I was in a Prius. I was on battery power alone for almost 10 minutes of slowly rolling. Kinda neat knowing I was traffic and it wasn't costing us a penny. Smug face. The bar graph shows minute by minute gas mileage. On this tank we have driven 237.9 mile for an average of 48.8 MPG. If the car is stopped for more than a minute it will register 0 MPG.

Dropped the car off at 8:55AM and was rolling again by 9:15AM. They even filled the gas tank and gave me two free coffee mugs.

I then dropped the car off at Kelli's office and picked up my Prius.

For a few months my Prius has made this harmonic clicking noise. The faster the car goes the faster the noise was. Not loud....and it could only be heard with the radio off. Sounded like something was on the front tires. Since I never drove it often, it didn't bother me. Kelli asked me about it when she first heard it....I kinda blew it off. Till now.

When I got home I started poking my head all around the car. I found the culprit! There were two missing fasteners holding up two of the under engine covers. Minor, but the covers flapped in wind.

The only mechanics that have worked on the car since we bought it are at Don Davis Toyota and Discount Tire. Discount Tire has only done tire stuff. Someone at Don Davis Toyota forgot to replace the fasteners at some point.

I drove down and figured I would just buy them since I can't prove when they went missing. The parts manager went out to the car and verified what I needed. He typed away on the computer, disappeared then came back and handed me the fasteners. No charge.

Once outside I put them in. Much better.

Looking forward to flying again. I head to the simulator tomorrow night. Late night session. Gonna be a little harder being up till midnight flying around. I am sure my enthusiasm will keep me up....if not the free coffee at Flight Safety will.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Found my old car

I imagine few people look and find their old cars. I do on occasion. Tonight I came across my 2003 Toyota Matrix XRS. It's for sale down the street for a tick under $10K ( ).  I paid $20K for it back in 2002.

Once I saw it I knew. It was a rare XRS model in Indigo Ink Pearl with the Black Suede interior, sunroof AND GPS. Back then it was one or the other when it came to Sunroof or GPS. I installed the GPS myself. I looked at the Carfax and saw Euless. I then Googled the VIN (2T1KY38E53C110040)  and found photos of it with the yellow fog light covers I installed. They have since been removed. Still neat. If I had a spare $10K laying around and a 3rd car garage I would buy it. It was a really fun car. Could even be family friendly.

I only am fond of a few of my previous cars. My 1994 Saturn SL2, my 1997 Saturn SC2 and the Toyota Matrix XRS. Maybe one day I will look up the Mazda5 again.

No Autoshow for me

Supposed to be on a nearly empty MD 80 headed to Detroit right now. Instead I am home sick. Boo.

I planned on making my 3rd annual trip to Detroit for the auto show today. The first flight out had 16 paying passengers out of 140 seats. The flights back had at most 60 paying passengers out of 140 seats. This morning  I called it off. Still feeling sick, plus I thought it would be best to limit my spending till I get a paycheck.

Then later this morning I realized I had been paid on Friday! Doh! Could have gone. I might still go next Sunday. We were all going to go together, but Natali got sick. Sick house indeed.

Kelli is sick now as well. I think  I had the worst of it. I had what Natali had plus what the obese Captain sitting next to me during classroom passed on. I must learn to screw being socially appropriate and MOVE when seated next to someone sick.

Upped my MPG to 43MPG via a trip to Ikea and back.

Replacement Harmony 1100 remote came Friday. We are back to being happy. Kelli was VERY upset when it broke. Interestingly enough Logitech doesn't want the old one back. It's been deactivated. Each time the remote is connected to a computer for configuration its serial number is verified online. The old one will never work again.

Qantas will be flying from Dallas soon. Kelli wants to go. It's a 17 hour flight. Maybe when Natali is out of diapers.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Android....I just don't know how to quit you

Iphone is coming to Verizon. Finally the rumors are true.

Will we switch? I thought about it...a lot. For now we will stay. Android is too entrenched in our lives. I love the Google Navigation (as does Kelli), Google Voice, Gmail and the ability to simply talk into my phone and have it transcribe it into text. Plus we have a fairly cheap plan.

My mother in law though.....she shold hop over to an Iphone. Would be a very easy transition for she could play games against Kelli, Kelly, Jami and I. Like Words with Friends. Just sayin' Peggy....the Iphone is easy to use....just like your Imac.

My 2004 Prius MPG kinda blows....right now I 'm getting 38 MPG! I know why. For one, it's cold and causes the "real" engine to run more often. The second is all my trips are very short and non-green.

My longest trip right now is 5 miles one way. It's 4.5 miles of highway and .5 mile of surface streets....taking Natali to daycare. If I had a longer trip or took surface streets the entire way I would get a better average. I'm content. Come spring/summer it will go up to the mid-40s at least.

Not missing a hole in the roof of the car yet. I have had a sunroof in all but 2 vehicles I have owned. Will be interesting come summer.

Won $300 on my slot machine last night. This was after putting $60 in and lost it all playing $1's. Never won a thing! Not even a cherry. Glad it "paid" me back.

I passed my classroom training on my aircraft. Next week I take the simulator portion. After that I fly around in the real thing (with real passengers on board) and then I'm back to normal. It will be an "interesting" first flight.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I need a bigger hole

Tried to install the same "Bad Boy II Air Horn" that I installed in the Mazda into the Prius. Won't fit. Too BAD/big apparently. Boo. Gonna have to find a different horn...or find a bigger hole somewhere. Wimpy horn remains.

Today is my first day back at work. Excited and nervous. Studied for days.

Installed a two tone, perforated steering wheel in my Prius. It was custom made for the Prius steering wheel. Perfect fit, feels much better. I've never owned a car with a plastic steering wheel...color me spoiled.

I filled up both cars over the weekend. My 2004 Prius took a whole 7.5 gallons to fill up with one bar showing prior to fill up. The 2010 Prius took 9 gallons with one bar showing. The difference is the 2004 has a bladder fuel tank while the 2010 has a conventional fuel tank. The 2004 bladder system "shrinks" when its cold thus holds less fuel and is near impossible to fill completely. Yep like men the Prius has "shrinkage" when gold. Both tanks hold 11.9 gallons. Kelli got 51.3 MPG while my Prius got 48.2 MPG. We both started tracking our mileage on an app to compare what the car reports. My previous Mazda5 average 26.5 MPG over 21K miles.

My old Mazda is for sale, ( ), if anyone buys it shoot me an email. I have a bunch of "extra parts" from when I installed/uninstalled the radio, subwoofer and homelink mirror. I took out everything before I traded in....saved the extra parts...lots of screws and stuff. Reason being a dealer told me the all weather floor mats, rear cargo cover, cargo protector, homelink mirror and subwoofer add nothing to the cars value. Pulled it out. Will eBay or craigslist it all for cheap.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to work I go

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I bought my Mazda...and the Prius.....

I bought two cars today....and one last week.

So I thought my Mazda5 was history. Nah.

Mazda American Credit is a power hungry dictatorship run by nut jobs....that's my opinion anyway.

Mazda American Credit will only take payment for leases from the leassor or a Mazda dealer. No one else. Thus Toyota of Dallas could not pay off my car.

So here's what went down.

I returned to Toyota of Dallas and repurchased the Prius. The contract had an extra $300 added on as Toyota of Dallas had to pay sales tax to my Mazda dealer. I did get credit for the tax difference (I previously paid full taxes on the Prius as there is no tax credit on lease trade ins).

After signing all the paperwork I was driven in a new Corolla by a salesman to my Mazda dealer in Denton. I then purchased my Mazda5. Yep I bought it out right with a cashiers check "from me" to the Mazda dealer. I will get the title in the mail and have to send it to Toyota of Dallas. Bizarre doesn't begin to describe it.

For anyone in a lease from Mazda American Credit who found this post....good luck. Both the Mazda dealer and Toyota dealer thought the way Mazda American Credit handles leases is ridiculous. My Toyota Dealer has never and will never again deal with Mazda American Credit leases. Can't blame them. I won't either.

While I am on my soapbox. Classic Mazda of Denton really did a number on me when I leased my Mazda5. It was sold with known knicks in the hood and a slightly damaged 'A' pillar. I know they knew as I remember how odd it was they gave an "Extra" $700 off for no reason. I suspect they knew it was damaged and discounted the price by what it would take to fix it. Of course if I terminated my lease I would have been dinged for the money. Nice eh?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Turn and walk away

I'm going to pay a lot more attention to the new Prius as far as maintenance. I really let it slip on the "old" one.

I replaced the engine and cabin filters, wiper blades, washed and waxed it, corrected the air pressure (they were low due to cold temperature outside) and "freshened' up the interior (Kelli has some kind of air freshener in there that was lowering my testosterone level).

Still adjusting the having Natali in day care. Over the weekend Angela mentioned how she had a hard time dropping off Marin for day care. I thought I would be fine. Eh. I've conditioned myself to turn and walk away once Natali is settled.

Head back to training for my plane on Monday. Can't wait.

For the first time in a while I am okay with the tech in my life. I'm sure this will change soon, the Consumer Electronics Show is next week.

We didn't win the MegaMillion lottery.  I did win $22 on a $1 scratch offs last week. Only spent $3 on the tickets. Not bad.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2004 Prius vs 2010 Prius

We are now a two Prius household. We have the first version of the Generation II Prius (the 2004) and the first version of the Generation III Prius (the 2010).

The two are very different. The 2004 drives like a video game. You know you are driving something not normal. The steering feels disconnected, the transition between hybrid and the "real" engine is very noticeable, and the seating position is a little awkward.

The 2010 drives like a regular car. The steering is more "normal", the transition between the two systems is much more subtle and the seating position is much more comfy. The 2010 seat goes up/down and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes. The 2004 seat height is locked and the steering wheel only tilts.

Our 2004 Prius was the top package offered in 2004 known as package 9. Our 2010 Prius is one step up from the mid-line Prius.

The 2010 has a lot of features, everything the 2004 has save HID headlights and a tape player. The 2010 has lots of nice little touches like foot well lighting, a mood light that makes the shifter and center console glow, an aux in port for MP3 players, heated seats and more.

Kelli did wish for a heated steering wheel on her 2010 Prius. I told her the Kia Optima has a heated steering wheel, smart key and more. She "bleh'd" me.

Yesterday I "took over" the 2004 Prius. I asked the previous owner to clean it out. I then went to work. My "new" 2004 Prius hasn't been washed in a while. It's silver, so it's hard to tell. The interior hasn't been cleaned in even longer.

After about 2 hours I was done cleaning, vacuuming and preparing the inside. I stopped by Pepboys and bought a new engine air filter. A whole $12. I was going to buy a new cabin air filter but it was $37! A better filter on Amazon is $11.

Back to the 2010 Prius. It was a climate control system with the Sanyo Plasmacluster Ionizer. It's in top level Prius and Camry models (including the Camry Hybrid my mother in law has). The system releases small amounts of Ozone to clean the air coming into the car of smells and contaminants. Allegedly if you are behind a smelly diesel car and hit the button, the diesel smell goes away. Also allegedly the amount of Ozone released is negligible.

No idea when I am going back to work for real. I'm getting frustrated with my employer. I'm going to call midday if I don't hear from them about a training date. We dropped Natali off at day care for the first time. Sitting in the house by myself is very odd.