Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Sounds Of Silence

As I mentioned in a recent post, I'd been having trouble with my car stereo lately. It was most noticeable on road trips, but it had been intermittently acting up even on short drives for several months when I tried playing CD's. I had it cleaned, but to no avail. I finally scheduled an appointment at Best Buy, where I purchased it (the stereo that originally came with the car was stolen over a year ago, but that's another story.)

When I purchased this stereo, I got a four-year service agreement to go along with it. I figured, compact disc, moving parts, why take a chance. So, at the end of last month, prior to going on vacation, they pulled out the stereo. To be fixed, it had to be sent in to a service center, since Best Buy is pretty limited as to what they can repair in-store. It still wasn't back from service yet when I got home on the 7th.

It finally came back from the service center a couple days ago, and I scheduled a time today to get it put into my car. It worked great, but when I got home I noticed a hinge cover missing on the faceplate. (This is one of those models where the front cover flips open...see here for more details.)



I called the audio install people, who immediately transferred me up front, where I got put on indefinite hold. I was mad enough at this point to drive directly back to the store, where I showed it to the person who had re-installed it. He agreed that there was a problem...as did the employees up front...but unfortunately, they have to send the stereo BACK to the service center again to get it fixed.

I'm well aware that, as problems go, this is a rather minor one, but it sure is annoying. Especially after anticipating having my stereo back, finally. Oh well...at least it's all covered by the service agreement.

In their defense, the local Best Buy service representative did try really hard to see if they could just order the part without sending the whole deck back to the service center...but they couldn't. So, I'm stuck without any car audio for another two weeks or so. Unless you count me singing out loud while I'm driving. Perhaps I'll work on my Simon and Garfunkel cover songs. Hello darkness, my old friend...

UPDATE: Rather than suffer through another two weeks with no mobile tuneage at all, I bought a cheap CD boombox at Shopko today and powered it through a transformer I already owned for my car battery (so I can just plug it in and avoid buying alkaline batteries.) Of course, the sound quality sucks compared to my regular system, and there's no anti-skip protection, but it beats just hearing engine noise while I drive around. I suppose someone might be tempted to break in to my car and steal it, but this is Wisconsin, and it's a really cheap boombox.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Airline Chronicles: Prologue

Although it's hard for me to believe it, I've been working in the airline industry for over ten years now. This is the start of a retrospective on the different airlines I've worked at over the last decade.

I had kind of bounced around a couple of different colleges, not being sure what I wanted to major in. I started off in engineering but I really wasn't enjoying it, and this was reflected in my grades. I ended up joining the Air Force for four years, and I had pretty good experiences there, although I wasn't wild about my career field (which was working on F-15 avionics.) I looked into cross training into a different career field, air traffic control, when my time was almost up. Due to them screwing up some paperwork, though, I was told that I'd have to re-enlist first and THEN apply for cross training. I decided not to re-enlist at that point.

Since I had never gotten my 4-year degree, I spent the first year as a civilian finishing that up. I moved back to my hometown, Albuquerque, and lived with my parents while I was finishing my degree. I made ends meet through the GI Bill, which paid my tuition, and a work-study job at the Veterans Administration. I was getting a type of general aviation degree through a branch campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. While I liked aviation, I wasn't sure what kind of job I could get with the degree after I was finished. I had a minor in Aviation Safety, and there are safety jobs at most airlines, but the departments are generally rather small and positions there usually filled internally.

While I was copying an article out of an aviation magazine for one of my classes at a public library, I inadvertently copied an advertisement for Sheffield School of Aeronautics. I didn't really read it at the time, but I did look at it after I had written the paper the article was copied for. Hmmm, I thought, that sounds like an interesting career field. When I was close to graduating from Embry-Riddle, I explained what I wanted to do to my father, and he was rather supportive. I couldn't afford the tuition for Sheffield on my own (although the GI Bill did help a bit) and he paid it for me. I did pay for all my own living expenses and the trip there and back.
I ended up graduating from Sheffield on my 26th birthday, in 1994. I have a picture somewhere of me from when I was at Sheffield, but I can't seem to find it to scan and post. I will add it later, if it shows up.

It took me a few months to get my first airline job. Since I had no prior airline experience, lots of people weren't even interested in giving me an interview. However, through Sheffield's job notification program for its graduates, I applied for and got an interview with Business Express Airlines which was located at the time in Portsmouth, NH, on the grounds of the old Pease Air Force Base, now known as Pease International Tradeport. Business Express was a regional airline for Delta and Northwest at the time. Therefore, they were only able to get me a ticket on them to fly up for the interview in their own route network, which didn't extend west of Detroit. My mother helped me out this time by letting me use some of her frequent flier points to get a round trip ticket on American to Boston.

I did fly on Business Express on the very short flight from Boston to Portsmouth and interviewed with them the next morning. I wasn't sure how well I did on the interview, but they were hiring three people, and I ended up getting one of the job offers. Soon after that, off I drove from my parents' house in my old pickup, packed full of my belongings, to my first professional civilian job.

More details of the trip up there and my experiences in New England to come in the next episode: The Airline Chronicles, Chapter I.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Magazine Man Grab Bag

A few months ago, Magazine Man regaled the blogosphere with his Giveaway Of CRAP. I did bid for an item in that giveaway (see the previous link for more information) but I didn't win it. However, as MM said at the time, everyone who bid wins something. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of his Giveaway, he was unable to mail something to all the bidders until recently, over the holidays. I got my consolation prize in the mail last week, and let me tell you, for a consolation prize, it's pretty freakin' sweet:



As MM describes it, it's "something to read, something to listen to (if you can scrounge up one of those ancient devices they call a tape player) and something to wear." The "something to read" is an awesome illustrated version of a Stephen King novel. The "something to listen to" is another Stephen King goodie, an audiobook of a few short stories he wrote. I do in fact have one of those relics of ancient technology known as a Casette Player that is not hooked up to my stereo, so this gives me an excuse/motivation to do that. The "something to wear" is called a Polar Buff, really cool and very appropriate for the winter weather here in Cheeseland.

Thus, it's time to make good on my original bid/promise, which was to give away some of my own CRAP to Goodwill. But I will go above and beyond, in the spirit of giving, and find someplace to volunteer my services (I know there's an animal shelter nearby my residence) although it will probably take a week or two look at various opportunities and settle upon something. However, the Goodwill giveaway should happen much sooner, within the next day or two. Photos of that will appear here shortly.

In the spirit of personal self-improvement, unrelated to the giveaway, I'm planning on rejoining my gym today (I need to lose this weight I gained over the holidays) and starting a new series in my blog...the Airline chronicles. It may be a couple of days before that gets started, but series are a good motivation for me to write here.

I'll end this with an "action photo" of one of the many ways it is possible to wear the Polar Buff...



Hope everyone is having a great 2006!