Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Apartment Tour

To celebrate my apartment being clean, and unpacked, due to my mother visiting for Thanksgiving, I decided to do an apartment tour video with my new cellphone. I originally thought I would have to convert the video from .3g2 format that is created by the cellphone into something else in order for YouTube to understand it, but as it turns out, YouTube uploads videos in that format just fine. Let the tour commence!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Check out my Daemon

If you disagree with the results, you can help me adapt the final result for the next twelve days.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

Hope everyone is having a great holiday. This holiday is unique for me because my mother is in town, we're eating at my sister's house, and I have until Saturday OFF from work! So far, everything is going well. Will try and post more textual stuff this weekend after Mom flies home. In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

In a security camera photo released by New Jersey Transit, a flock of wild turkeys stands on the platform at the Ramsey train station in Ramsey, N.J., Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2006. NJ Transit spokesman Dan Stessel says the turkeys flew away after this video image was taken and it is unknown where they came from. (AP Photo/NJ Transit)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

In Which I make my last Iphone reference for a while...

Someone writing a satirical blog as the fake Steve Jobs has posted a reaction to the article mentioned in my last post. I thought it was pretty funny, so check it out.

Friday, November 16, 2007

More on that Iphone ad...

For those of you that wanted more details (I'm looking at you, Heather) here is a link to an article that goes more in-depth about how unbelievable the situation the ad I discussed in my last post is. You may have to click through an ad to get to the article, but it's a good read. And I'm not just saying that because I was an "inside source" for the article. :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Gone too long...

Yes, I confess (as I have, many times before) to being a lazy blogger. I have various excuses, if you want to hear them...last month I turned 39, went out of town for my birthday, then at the end of the month flew home to visit my mother, and I've been working a lot since then. But still, I should write more. And I will, I promise.

However, this post is just to point out a recent Iphone commercial that has me rather annoyed:

This is NOT how airline operations work in real life. I won't go into all the details now, at the risk of boring all non-airline types to death, but it's wrong on many levels.

I did find a parody of the commercial that I found rather hilarious, presented below, with a warning that it contains some strong language:

Back soon, with more textual stuff.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A cold day in Hades

At an industry meeting I attended today, I had a civil chat with my ex-boss from the last airline I worked at. I even initiated the conversation.

While it might have been fun to rag on him, I got enough satisfaction by letting him know I was doing well in my current job, and that I'd just been signed off to dispatch international flights (the most fun moment was him asking, "So, where all does your airline fly internationally?" followed by me listing several European countries, most of Central/South America, plus China, Japan, India...) I guess I didn't know I had it in me to be polite like that to someone I used to despise.

Watch out for flying pigs tomorrow morning on your commute to work.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Keeping things in perspective...

mmm, mighty tasty!
Originally uploaded by petervanallen
More Photoblogging...sorry I haven't written more lately, I've just been really busy with work, doing international flight planning training. Lots of new stuff to learn! Will be back soon with more written stuff. Anyhow, I found this picture and thought it might be a good aviation tie-in. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Courtesy of Dariush, who took this but declined to post it, wanting to keep his blog rated PG:

I don't know how they came up with the name for this farm, but maybe they were smoking something stronger, and someone said, "Hey, should we farm tobacco for a living? Dude, that's a crazy idea, but hey, WTF!"

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Just One More Thing To Worry About

In case you haven't seen this news article, evidently there is an increase recently of cases where people gets killed from a brain-eating amoeba in lakes. The discovery of said amoeba occurred in Australia in the sixties, and evidently it exists all around the world...usually in hot climates. The numbers of people affected are still tiny, of course...six people killed so far this year...but they do seem to be increasing slightly. Also, there's no effective treatment once you're infected, and usually, the cause of death isn't identified until after the fact.

All in all, I'm now glad I didn't go swimming in the lake at this one resort I visited earlier this month. I did go swimming once in the lake there a few years ago, and ended up getting a nasty sinus infection, but no deadly amoebas. At least, a well-maintained pool is safe, since the chlorine there kills all the bacteria (or amoebas) in the water.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Been too long since I posted here. Ah well, such is life. I need to get into a regular posting "habit" which I have failed at doing in the past, but we'll see how it goes. Anyhow I've said this same thing before, so on to the main topic of the post.

I have been rather slow in finding new docs since I moved from Wisconsin to here. I definitely don't miss my old company, but I was kind of fond of the area where I lived, and I had over time, through trial and error, gotten a good medical "team" of doctors I'd go to see for whatever ailed me...primary care doc, chiropractor, ENT doc for my ear issues, a dentist, and a dermatologist. So far, I've really only gotten a new chiropractor, dentist and dermatologist. It can take a while to find doctors you like. I've had primary care docs and dentists before that I didn't care for...and if you don't care for the person taking care of you, you probably won't tell them everything that's bugging you, either.

So back to this dermatologist. I picked him kind of at random and by location proximity from the list of approved providers for my PPO. However, he does seem to know his stuff, and has done a fairly good job so far, detecting two flaky patches on my skin that turned out to be early basal cell carcinomas. (That is a topic for another post, but as a fair-skinned man who grew up in New Mexico, I unfortunately have a tendency towards this problem.) He seemed a bit hesitant, though, to deal with another issue, which was to have a cyst on the back of my neck removed. It had been there for years, and seemed to be getting bigger, so I wanted it OUT. He pointed out the (slight) risks involved in removing it, but finally agreed to do the removal. I'd rather have a slight scar on the back of my neck than a weird bump on it.

Anyway, yesterday was the big day, it got removed, and I was all stitched up. Evidently the cyst was larger than my doc had thought it would be...I felt like saying, DUH, why do you think I wanted it removed? He advised against any strenuous activity for the rest of the day, which was no problem for me since I had yesterday and today off. However, I did need to get some groceries, so I figured, what could go wrong on a trip to the store?

You can probably see where this is headed. They had put a compression bandage on my neck at the doctor's office, but since it's on a part of my neck that moves when I turn my head, the bandage came loose while in the store, and I ended up checking out, with my wound seeping blood, all unbeknownst to me until I got to my car.

When I got home, I decided that I'd rather not go out again that night, so I tried reattaching the bandage myself. Lacking first aid tape, I decided to use some electrician's tape I had. Which worked fairly well, but didn't exactly look ordinary:

I had thought about going to see a movie last night, but decided that I didn't want to try out my Frankenstein bandage in public.

The bandage did come off in the middle of the night, but fortunately the stitches had stopped bleeding by then, so I was able to use a normal band-aid to replace the black tape and thick gauze pad. So now, I look fairly presentable. Well, as much as I ever do on my days off. I still need a shave. Hopefully, no kids saw my weird bandage or stitched-up neck yesterday at the store. I'd hate to give anyone nightmares.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dark Tower Quiz

I haven't posted one of these in a while...I found this one kind of entertaining. My results are below:

The Dark Tower Character Test

You are Roland! As the last Gunslinger, you have a courageous and steadfast nature, and are unswerving in your actions. Because you act calmly in the face of danger, people like to to have you as an ally. However, you can be cold when it comes to human contact, and have betrayed your friends in the past for your own needs, and need to learn how to love others, or you will become just as heartless as the forces you are trying to fight! Try lightening up a bit.
Take this quiz!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I thought I'd use today's post to talk about 9/11 a bit...because I am very overdue for a blog post and if today's anniversary doesn't get me off my butt to write something, I don't know what will.

Planebuzz has a good memorial entry today commemorating the airline employees killed in the attack. I'm sure there are many memorials happening today, both live and online (I believe Dariush is covering some of them for his paper) but I thought I would present my own memories of that day.

I wish I had an exciting story to tell you of what it was like when all the aircraft in the US were forced to suddenly land and everything that happened in the dispatch office during the event...but the fact is, I had worked an odd shift on the 10th, from 4PM until 2AM on the 11th, and then I went home and went to bed around 4AM. By the time the attacks happened, I was sound asleep.

My mother called and left a message on my machine saying she knew I must be busy but she wanted to call and see how I was doing, which I thought was odd. I went into my computer room/office and pulled up the internet, which is how I first found out what happened. Since my old airline in Vegas (National Airlines) had a flight out of JFK numbered Flight 11, and since we flew 757's, I was especially freaked out by the news. I called work, and they told me that all our planes were landed and safe, which was a relief. I felt really sorry for the huge loss of life though...but I don't think it really sunk in that day...I was just more numb than anything.

I had to go into work that afternoon, although we didn't have any flights in the air, obviously. I worked at the airport itself, and normally there was a shuttle bus running between our office just off the airport and the airport ramp itself, but service that day was canceled. After wandering around headquarters for a bit, I ran into a flight attendant I knew who offered to give me a ride to the airport, which I accepted.

The airport was indeed a ghost town that day. Planes parked everywhere, some of them from airlines I'd never heard of. I went ahead and walked into our tiny office, which had the first signs of life I'd encountered since walking into the terminal. Our FAA representative was present, and my boss, and his boss. We didn't really have much to do, though. A couple of our planes were parked in Indianapolis, another couple outside of Chicago in Rockford, and the rest hadn't taken off. We were a pretty small operation; at the time I think we had maybe 16 planes total. All of our stranded crew members had hotel rooms, which was fortunate since nobody would be flying anywhere for several more days. Basically, we just answered phone calls that day, and the next day, and sat around waiting to see when we could fly again.

My airline was already in Chapter 11 before that day, and looking to emerge soon, but the events of that awful day kind of helped seal our fate. I don't know, we may have gone out of business eventually anyhow...the business model was based on cheap oil, which probably would have gone away soon enough, 9/11 or no 9/11, but as I'm sure everyone is aware, the airline industry was rocked hard by this tragedy.

National also wasn't helped by the fact that the government wouldn't grant us a federally backed post-9/11 loan, despite having set aside ten billion dollars for such loans. They granted our main competitor one of those loans, though. Oh well. We did continue flying until November of 2002, when we ceased operations very suddenly, while I was on vacation in Dallas. I fortunately had some Southwest passes that enabled me to fly home without buying a full fare ticket.

Looking back before 9/11, I did sometimes think security was kind of a joke at the airport. For instance, many of the custodial staff that cleaned our planes primarily spoke Spanish...they may have all been legal immigrants, but I kind of doubt it. That, and it was just really easy to get through security. I think things have improved somewhat since then, but there are still holes. However, in a free society, I think that no security system designed to screen vast numbers of people will ever be perfect.

While I felt really sorry for all the people's families who were killed that day, I confess to getting sick of the news coverage about the event in the months immediately afterwards. Perhaps it was my attempt at trying to live in denial and hope things would turn out OK where I was working at.

Things worked out for me personally all right in the end, of course. When National did shut down, I found another airline job (the one in Wisconsin, where I was at when I started this blog) within a couple months, and it even included a paid move. I rented out my house for a while, and when it became obvious I wouldn't be moving back to Vegas and I sold it, I made a decent profit and sold it quickly due to the then-hot real estate market of 2004. And, just when I was getting really sick of my job in Wisconsin and worrying about being fired, I got hired by the Rather Large Airline. So life has not really been bad. I still sometimes wonder what would have happened to me if 9/11 hadn't ever occured, but sometimes you just have to take what life throws at you (even when it's a bag of cow manure) and keep on moving.

My own little memorial to those whose lives were lost that day can be found here. at the gratefullness.org Light A Candle site. My candle there will only stay lit for 48 hours, but I'll never forget.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

So what else could go wrong?

Friday at work was a rather crazy day. It was my first day back after three off, and definitely not a fun way to end a weekend. We first had weather hit at one of our east coast hubs...I had a plane start holding before I even sat down, and they ultimately had to divert to an alternate airport. Then the captain complained I had planned the diversion recovery flight with too much fuel, so I reduced his fuel slightly. Of course, once he took off for his original destination, he ended up holding again, and almost had to divert a second time, but he finally made it in.

During that whole fiasco we had weather and storms hit our main hub in Texas, and I had two more flights on my desk end up diverting. One of them had a maintenance problem and I was worried it would be stuck when they landed at the airport they diverted to, but it turned out not to be a serious issue. Needless to say, I was pretty busy for several hours dealing with all of my flights and the weather.

Towards the end of my shift the fire alarm started sounding on our floor. Since false alarms aren't unheard of in my building, we all kept working (if we leave, the airline tends to shut down within a couple hours.) However, someone from upstairs came down to report there was indeed a fire on the floor above ours. A few people kept working a bit longer, but I decided to go ahead and leave at that point (along with many other people) and walked downstairs and outside.

I must admit our local fire department took this alarm seriously.

I called my sister and her husband, who live here also, to assure them I was okay just in case this ended up making the news. Some people on the overnight shift reported to work at our backup facility because we weren't sure when the situation would be resolved. Ultimately, about an hour later, we were cleared to go back inside, and a fire department supervisor escorted us back in.

Whatever the problem was, it had been contained on the floor above ours. Aside from an acrid odor, we couldn't tell anything had ever happened. I ended up staying two hours past the end of my shift while things sort of got back to normal. A news truck did show up right before I went back upstairs, but the incident was minor enough that as far as I can tell, it never made any of the local broadcasts.

Some people I work with said that the problem was never so serious we needed to evacuate (and in fact, some people didn't evacuate.) But I'd rather err on the side of safety, personally. At any rate, it made for a fun return to work day. I do have to admit...in all my years of working in the airline industry, this was the first time I've ever had to evacuate a building during my shift.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Of Cell Phones and Contracts

OK, I know, it's been too long. What can I say, I can be a lazy blogger at times. The unpacking at my new place continues, and I have so far kept up with my daily goal of one box per day. That being said, I still have to hook up my stereo and hang pictures, and I still have about a dozen boxes left. But it already looks better than my old place did when I left.

I just switched mobile carriers from T-Mobile to Verizon, since my contract was up. While I never had any trouble with dropped calls with them, their customer service is another story.

As some of you know, or may have guessed, while I was very happy to get the job offer with the Rather Large Airline last year, financially, it was kind of a strain, initially. For one thing, I had to pay for my own move down here (and my stuff did get here, but the movers sucked, and overcharged me above their estimate) and for another thing, I was on a reduced pay rate while in initial training for the first few months. Also, I had to pay for my own medical insurance until the company's coverage kicked in, which even for catastrophic only coverage is NOT cheap these days.

As you also might remember, my mother was moving to a retirement place last year. That ultimately didn't work out, but in the process of trying to get her moved, I was on the phone a LOT. I had signed up for a 1000 minutes a month plan with T-Mobile (no unlimited weekend or evening minutes) and I was blowing through those a lot faster than I realized. I did some conference calls with my sisters, and those are charged double minutes, etc.

I honestly didn't keep as close of track as I should have on the minutes, but I did switch to a 1500 minutes a month plan fairly soon after I got my phone. Unfortunately, I switched on the day after the billing cycle closed. Bottom line...I had run up just over 1500 minutes of calls in the first month, with over 500 minutes at the very high "exceeded plan minutes" rate. Thus, I got my first bill from T-Mobile and was shocked to see it was for over $500.

I was rather shocked to see this amount. I called them and they explained the charges. They were unwilling to help me at all on the bill. I talked to a supervisor who was equally unwilling to help. Finally, on my third try, I got a sympathetic representative, who issued a $100 credit, if I would try a higher minutes plan. I said sure, as long as I didn't have to stay on that plan, and then switched to their minimum minutes plan (300 per month, unlimited weekends but not nights) the next day, which I stayed on until my contract ended.

I didn't have the 500+ dollars to pay that first bill, but I did make a partial payment of a little over $100. This evidently wasn't good enough for them, and they disconnected my phone the morning I was supposed to make a conference call with my sisters. I was eventually able to call them using a backup telephone I use through my internet connection (Skype) but it was very embarrassing.

I called from the T-Mobile store to discuss my bill and encountered the RUDEST customer service person I have EVER dealt with in their billing department. They gave me 30 days to pay the bill, and wouldn't reconnect the service until it was fully paid off. I ended up getting the cash from another source and paying the bill off in full the following week. When they didn't have my phone turned on within an hour of me paying the bill, I called them up and was equally rude with them in asking why my service wasn't restored yet. They turned it on shortly afterwards.

The one good thing about the T-Mobile contract was that it was only for a year. I didn't want to pay an early cancellation fee (which I had done before with Sprint) so I just wrote the day my contract expired inside my battery cover with a Sharpie. Today was that day, so goodbye, T-Mobile...I can't say as I'll miss you very much. And if I ever get any questions from them as to why I'm no longer their customer, I think I may just refer them to this blog entry.

From everything I've heard, Verizon has much better customer service and a better calling network, and our corporate discount is larger with them than it was with T-Mobile. Therefore, I'll be getting about 50% more monthly minutes for the same price, and they also have a roadside assistance option that T-Mobile didn't have. I didn't need that when I first got T-Mobile since I was still without a car, but I did use it a couple times back when I was with Sprint, and it's very nice to have when you need it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

In which the Third Time really IS the charm...

OK, I know I haven't blogged much lately. For a change, I have a good excuse! And I'm not even talking about going on vacation and then moving to a different apartment. I'm talking about my new internet service, called Uverse.

This service is offered by AT&T and combines DSL with cable TV, pay per view, a built in DVR, and even HD, all run through traditional phone lines. I don't have an HD television (yet) but all the other features made it sound rather sweet, plus it was about $30/month less than what I was paying before I moved for digital cable plus cable hi-speed internet.

(Regarding the move, more to come later, but I really like the new apartment, even though it's slightly pricier. It's in the same complex, but bigger, and has a balcony. Unpacking is proceeding slowly, but no injuries were sustained in the move other than muscle soreness and a couple of blisters.)

Anyhow, now that Uverse is installed, I can say it definitely kicks ass. However, getting it installed was another story. I suppose it was not easy in part because the buildings here are old and the previous resident likely didn't even have a computer...none of the phone lines had really been touched in a long time.

On the date of the original installation attempt, the technician showed up about 9 AM. This first technician said he'd have to run wire all over my apartment to get my bedroom TV hooked up. I declined on running cable over my doorways, since I am not really a bedroom TV addict, so I was just going to have the main TV and my computer connected. I have to leave for work at 1:30 PM, but I figured that should be plenty of time for an apartment install, right? Wrong! The technician was working at the phone box down the street when I called and said I had to leave. He called later and thanked me for putting his tools outside and said he could have finished in another 20 minutes if he'd been able to come back in.

The second technician showed up two days later, for what I hoped would be a quick visit, based on the previous installer's remarks. She was very nice and said that she COULD get the bedroom TV working, using the existing phone jack in there, without running wire all the way from the living room. She did get the living room TV and internet working briefly. However, four hours later, and after calling out a supervisor to help her, she admitted defeat. The signal strength was not consistent, and she was never able to get the bedroom TV to work at all. She thought there might be an external phone line problem. I scheduled a third technician to come out today, on my day off, to make sure they'd have time to finish.

The technician today found a faulty filter which seemed to be what was causing the issues with varying signal strength. Since the filter is only needed if you also have a land line (which I don't) he was able to fix that problem fairly quickly by removing the filter. After only an hour or so, he was all done! The previous techs had already run the cables, so he basically just had to hook up everything.

Thus, I now have a 3 megabit DSL line on my desktop computer (upgradable to 6 should I ever so desire) and a cool cable setup with DVR, PPV, and some free premium channels (upgradable to be viewable in HD format whenever I can afford to buy an HD TV.) The good thing is that if I ever do need to upgrade either my TV service or my internet service, NO technician visit is required...I can get it all done with a phone call. Also included was a free wireless router. I have the wireless part turned off right now, since I only own a desktop, but if I ever do buy a laptop and I'm so lazy I want to browse the net in my bed instead of walking into the living room...I'll be able to. Ain't technology grand?

Now, I have to continue unpacking, even though I now have the dual distraction of cable TV and high-speed internet to slow me down. I'll keep plugging along, though. The good thing about unpacking is...none of your stuff is going anywhere.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

That name again is Mr. Studly!

My blog friend Dariush, of American Twentysomething fame, has announced he's changing his first name. Being a professional newspaper guy now, he wanted his byline to have a shorter, easier to spell name, so he's going to go by his middle name, Al. I think this is a good idea, but I thought he should go all the way and change his last name to Studly. Here are my thoughts on the subject from a recent Gmail chat...

me: What are you going to change your name to?
Dariush: Al Shafa.
me: You could change the last name and then be known as "Al Studly." Then everyone would be like, there goes Mr. Studly!
Dariush: ...
me: I suppose Al is an easier byline for people to pronounce.
Dariush: and easier to spell
me: No more Darirish incidents. (pause)
I still think "Al Studly" has a ring to it. :P
Dariush: ...
me: You don't think it's a catchy byline, huh? Not just somewhat studly, AL Studly.
Dariush: ...

Dariush uses the ... to indicate that I have made a joke that is so bad, he has no words. Oh well. I suppose changing one's last name would be a bit of a challenge, anyhow. But if I ever see a newspaper columnist who changes his last name to Studly, I'm going to demand a percentage of the royalties for stealing my idea.

You never know what you'll find...

Sorry I haven't blogged more lately. Work/going on vacation/moving has been taking up a lot of my time. But I am still here, and breathing.

I had some training tonight for a volunteer program I participate in. The offices of the volunteer organization are right across from a pub that looked kind of interesting, so I thought I'd check it out. Indeed, it was a very cool Irish-style pub. So, I ordered a Black & Tan from the bar, which was expertly poured in short order. I had a bit of sticker shock on the price ($6.80? For a beer? Where am I, Japan?) but overall it was a nice place. However, I got a second shock when someone walked up to the bar wearing a dress and ordered their beer.

Being a typical guy, I turned to check out the new arrival (not that I had intentions of hitting on anyone, but it's just typical guy behavior when at bars.) At first, I thought it was a rather plain older lady, when I suddenly realized it was a middle-aged guy wearing a dress. He had long hair but no makeup on. I checked again to make sure this wasn't just some frilly shirt, but it was indeed a guy wearing a dress.

What made this event somewhat surreal was how everyone acted like this was totally normal. Another guy sitting down from me chatted with the dress-wearing gentleman, and the bartender got his beer. Who knows, maybe for this place, it IS normal activity. I guess I'm still not used to going to bars in a large city.

My complaint is that, if you're going to wear a dress, and you're a guy, at least put some effort into it. TRY to look female. Wear some MAKEUP, for God's sake. I figure, if you can't fool anyone into thinking you're a girl, what's the point? Oh well. When it comes to cross-dressing, I'm definitely not an expert.

I finished my beer and declined on a second. While it was a nice bar, I'm not sure I'll be going back real soon. My regular hangout, a brewpub, has MUCH cheaper beer. But at least going there gave me something to write about.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Star Wars Yo Momma Fight

Here is my personal favorite from the recent Robot Chicken Star Wars special. For those who missed it on TV (like I did) the complete episode can be seen at Milk and Cookies if you're interested.

Contest Winner!

Yes, it's true, Curtain fans. Yours Truly has won himself...a pack of gum. Woo hoo!

Actually, it's always kind of cool to win something, even something small, and I am looking forward to trying this brand of gum. Thanks to Marvo at The Impulsive Buy for hosting this contest, and sending me the gum. (Photo on left is also courtesty of TIB.)

Marvo hosts these contests to give away extra consumer products he doesn't feel like consuming every once in a while, but this is the first time I've won anything there. Winning is just a bonus, though...reading Marvo's rather hilarious and unique takes on different consumer products is the main reason I visit. Anyhow, he's got another contest running right now, so if you're interested, go check it out.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Guest Blogging, On the road again

Greetings, Curtain fans. Today, to view my latest entry, you'll have to pay a visit to American Twentysomething. I was scheduled to guest blog there today, and after a lengthy flight delay, I was able to make it to my mother's house and get a blog post written for Dariush with about thirty minutes to spare. Enjoy, kids.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Big Balls Airlines

The name of this post says it all.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

100 Facts in 100 Days #15

I'm a pretty good typist. In high school, I was just trying to fill up my class schedule in 9th grade, but I had a good teacher, and the skill has stuck with me. Good old IBM Selectrics...you hardly ever even SEE a typewriter anymore.

Looking back at my school years, I can say it's one of the more valuable classes I took. I even worked as a typist in a work study job for the VA after I got out of the military.

There are a couple of short words I can type rather quickly since they're so common, such as "the." Today I just realized that "com" has become another one of those words for me due to typing in web addresses so often.

To help make me feel old, I found out from my nephews that typing class is now known as "keyboarding."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Avoiding the drawl, so far...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
The South
The Inland North
The Northeast
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Found via Dawn's blog.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Silver, Like A Fox

There are certain moments in life that aren't major in and of themselves but they serve to illustrate that you're getting older. One of these moments occurred in my life two days ago, while I was getting my monthly haircut.

Now, I know I've got gray hair. As I've mentioned here before, I've been getting gray hair since before I started shaving. I guess I didn't realize just how many of them I've gotten since then.

We were talking about the shampoo and hair care products I use (American Crew, usually) and the stylist said, "Do you ever use Silver Shine shampoo?" My response was something like "WHAT?"

She said, "Well, you have a LOT of gray hair, and it can help show it off well if you use a shampoo designed for it once in a while." I was still a bit flabbergasted, but after the haircut was over, I did end up buying some. I am sure that neither my father, or his father, ever worried about buying shampoo to enhance the appearance of their gray hair, but hey, why not show off what I've got?

Even though this incident did make me realize (more than usual) that I'm not a kid anymore, I still like my gray hair. I never plan to have it dyed. Growing up, being in the military, and working in the airline industry, I've earned every single damn one of them.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hiking, Cellular Pics, and Cars

I guess I was wrong and it turns out cellular phone cameras are not completely lame, and actually are capable of taking decent, albeit low-res, pics. My next phone, to be selected within a couple of months, will have a higher resolution camera on it.

Anyhow, I recently made a trip home to Albuquerque, and was able to make a hike with one of my friends, which we used to do at least once a year when I was younger. The name of the trail is La Luz, and it's not one of the easier hikes to be found in those mountains...we started at the Tramway parking lot which is at around 6400 feet of elevation.

As you can see from the image below, that area is still high desert.

The trail tops out at the crest of the mountain, where I took this shot:

That one came out so well, I think I'd have a print made of it had I taken it with a higher resolution camera.

Let me just give you a piece of advice...should you decide to attempt hiking at a high elevation when you live at sea level, be prepared to be embarrassed, especially if you're hiking with a friend who lives at a mile elevation and goes jogging regularly. I did make the hike up with no major issues, my new walking shoes performing admirably. The hike took about as long as I had figured, I just was more winded during it than I had figured. So, perhaps it is time for a gym membership here. Still, the hike went pretty decently, considering. But the climb from 8000 to 10000 feet was definitely rough.

One advantage of choosing to hike to the top of the Tramway was that there is a brewpub at the top of it, and we didn't have to hike down, instead purchasing one-way tickets and riding down. We used to hike up and back down, but this is a more fun way to end it. All in all, total hike length was about 9.2 miles and 4000 vertical feet.

In other news, I've been attempting to get my car (which used to be my Dad's car) in decent shape. I had an oil change and other minor maintenance work done recently...there are just a couple other minor items to take care of. I also had it detailed inside and out, which was kind of a splurge, but it does look nice. This pic was also taken with my phone camera:

I realize this car isn't new, but you have to admit that for 11 years old, it looks pretty darn good. Of course, being garaged in an arid climate for the first 10 years of its life and only having 60,000 total miles on it helps things. Would be nice to have a CD player, but I can make do with a portable one plugged into the cassette player for now. Other than not having CD capability, the sound system is of very good quality.

It's getting hot and humid here. Yesterday, I went to pick up a take-out order and the gal behind the counter handed me a drink cup also. I told her I didn't order a drink, and she said, "I know, but you need it. You're SWEATIN." Let's hear it for Southern hospitality! Fortunately, my car's AC and my apartment's AC are both in good shape.

I'm planning on moving to a new place late next month...not a new house or anything, just a different apartment. I definitely picked a great time of year to move! Oh well. My current apartment is scheduled to be torn down within a few years and I was kind of sick of it, although I do like the location. I found a place I like better a few miles away that's cheaper. Well, moving is a good workout, I suppose.

Right after I move, I'm going on a quick mini-vacation to California. The vacation was already planned when I decided to move. This isn't the greatest timing, but I had been waiting a long time for a suitable apartment to open up in the complex I'm moving to...I think things will work out okay, but I'm sure the new place will still be a mess when I leave. I am looking forward to the vacation. I enjoy visiting my Mom in Albuquerque, but it will be good to use my flight benefits to go somewhere else and just relax!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

In Memoriam

As those few regular readers here know, I don't have overly fond memories of my old company. This includes most of the management I dealt with there. Sadly, the one manager I truly enjoyed dealing with there has recently passed away. She had also departed my old company a few months after I left (perhaps she realized she could do better) and I was really sorry to hear about this tragic event just when she was getting ready to do something new with her life. Most of the management at my old company seemed to have grand delusions of how wonderful they were, but Lisa was always a class act. Even though I didn't know her well, and I only dealt with her professionally, I'm very sorry to hear she's moved on.

Monday, May 21, 2007

100 Facts in 100 Days #14

I just realized the other day...since I was 15, I have never really lived in one place for more than three years or so. I was an exchange student in England my junior year, then I went to college after high school away from home for about two years, then I went in the military and lived in Colorado, Okinawa, and Florida for the next four years. I moved back to Albuquerque after I got out in 1993, but after I finished my degree and got my dispatcher license I moved away again in 1995 to New England for my first airline job, and then I moved back to the Southwest for my second one in mid-1996 with another regional airline.

I actually stayed at that airline for over three years, but the company changed headquarters in the fall of 1998 so I moved from New Mexico to Arizona for that (one of my few paid moves in my post-military career.) Then I got on with a startup airline in Las Vegas and moved there in late 1999, where I stayed until that airline went belly up in late 2002. After a couple months of frantic job searching came a job offer (which even included a paid move!) leading to my my period of life in Wisconsin, from January 2003 to March of last year.

While living in Wisconsin, I started this blog, grew to dislike my boss more and more over the course of three years, considered for a while leaving aviation entirely, and finally managed to escape from there by getting hired by the Rather Large Airline last year. (When I say "escape" I am mainly referring to my old airline, but I don't miss the winters in Wisconsin much either.) Of course, I had to move yet again over a long distance, shipping my stuff at my own expense (and boy was THAT a hassle) but I am hoping it was the last long-range move that I have for the next several, say, decades.

You can't ever take anything for granted in this industry, though. Someone I knew once said that as airline employees "we're all gypsies, in a way" and I guess to a point, that is true, as my experiences demonstrate.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

100 Facts in 100 Days #13

Growing up, I read a lot of comic books, but it's a habit I mostly gave up in high school. I still occasionally like to read a good graphic novel, though...I read "A History of Violence" after the movie came out and I liked it quite well. I've been meaning to check out the Sin City books after seeing the movie a couple years back, but I haven't gotten around to it. Frank Miller is an awesome writer though. He did one series for Daredevil that I think I still have a few of the original issues for that was awesome. Currently, though, my apartment is way too small and cluttered for me to get seriously back into reading comics again, since I'd have no good place to store them.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Just one more reason...

If anyone who read my last post has any doubts I don't miss where I used to live, here is yet another reason why I don't. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A momentous date

Greetings Curtain fans. So, after reading this post's title, you may be wondering, WHY is this date momentous? The answer is...today is the anniversary of my start of employment with the Rather Large Airline! Which means, not only am I am officially off probation, I also get a pay raise! (Happy Dance time ensues.) It also means that I feel it's been long enough so that I can tell the truth about the events that occurred surrounding when I left my last job...

I was SO happy to get my new job, I can't put it fully into words, but I will try. There are several reasons I was extra-happy about the job offer. First, my old airline had lost its contract with one major airline and had switched all our flying from the Midwest to a carrier based in the eastern US. What this meant for me was the end of pass travel privileges that made it relatively easy to fly to my Mom's house. Due to her recent medical issues, this was a sizable concern to me. Secondly, I was having MAJOR issues with the management at my old carrier. We were a union shop, and I had volunteered to be the section chair for our union, which I'd been doing for about a year at my time of departure.

I didn't ever get along extremely well with my immediate boss there (in fact, he was the main reason I had decided to get more involved with the union) but things had recently gotten really rocky in my last few months of employment. He had suspended me for three days in January for an incident relating to insubordination due to an argument I'd had with one of the shift supervisors, and rather smugly implied that as the section chair, I should know the rules. Without going into details, I will say I could have acted more professionally on the night the incident in question occurred. However, he never listened to my side of things, either...I saw the letter saying I'd be suspended on his desk as soon as I walked into his office to talk about what had happened.

Since I did know the rules with regards to our contract, I submitted a grievance over the suspension...and the company did agree to pay me for one of the days I had been suspended rather than take it to a hearing. This appeared to anger my boss even further, as well as his bosses (up to this point I'd had fairly good relations at the company with everyone except him.)

I began to get singled out for criticism of minor issues. They also tried to have me removed from my position as section chair for the union by spreading some misinformation to the president of my union's local. (This attempt on their part failed.) One day, I overslept and my cell phone was turned off (I have no land line) and the shift manager sent a police car to my house to check on me (true story.) I could go on and on about the what all happened during my last few months, but I think you can get the general idea. During my last "counseling session" with my old boss, last March, I was given a day off (with pay) to "consider my future with the company."

Anyhow, I took the day off, went in on Monday, said I recognized the error of my ways, et cetera, and that I would be a good employee from now on. My boss had appeared to calm down a bit by this point also, so that session ended with little fanfare. But very fortunately for me, one week after the day I had received off from work to "consider my future" I got this in my inbox:

I would like to offer you a position of Dispatcher here at (the Rather Large Airline.) The class will start April 10. I will need to set you up for another drug test and have you fill out one more form for your background check. Let me know when you would be able to get down here to get that accomplished.

Needless to say, I was BEYOND happy to receive this email. I had originally interviewed for the position in December, but they couldn't hire as many people as they originally intended. This might have added to my bad mood about things in general, and the winter weather in Wisconsin didn't help a whole lot with my mood, either.

There is one footnote to this story...we had a safety event review committee at my old airline, which reviewed what were supposed to be anonymous reports from dispatchers about incidents regarding flight safety. I think my boss originally wanted this so he could keep track of what mistakes people made (despite the guarantee of anonymity, he could always figure out who had submitted the reports by cross-referencing the flight numbers mentioned.)

Before I quit, my boss had reduced staffing in the afternoons, and people had started complaining to me about workload, and per our FAA representative's suggestion, I told people that they should submit reports to the safety program. So, some people did start submitting reports saying that our workload was too high. This evidently infuriated my boss, and I heard that he once said that if this kept up, the company would opt out of this safety program.

One of the many things my boss had been trying to do in my last few months of employment there was to get me kicked off the safety committee as the union representative for the dispatchers. I don't want to get into all the details on how he was justifying that, but let's just say he didn't succeed before I left.

Anyhow, back to these safety reports. One of the problems we were having on the reports about workload was that people weren't identifying specific incidents regarding safety, but just saying they were too busy. Someone finally did submit one report that was specific, and included flight numbers. And, my boss, prior to the safety committee meeting, figured out who had submitted the report by cross-referencing the flight numbers the report referred to, and emailed the submitter a quasi-threatening email about it (so much for any pretense of anonymity.)

Once I got word of this, I emailed the president of my union local as well as our FAA representative to let them know what was going on. Both of them were present at the next safety committee meeting...

OK, this would be a good time for a cliffhanger, but I'll go ahead and finish instead. By the time the next safety meeting occurred, I had just received my offer from the Rather Large Airline. However, I hadn't yet gotten word back about the results of my pre-employment drug test. To be on the ultra-safe side, I decided to wait and make sure everything was A-OK with that before I gave my notice...not that I was worried about the results, but I just wanted to be SURE before I gave my notice. As it turns out, this was smart thinking on my part.

I told the union local president about my job offer right before the meeting, but nobody else knew until later on. My boss was unfortunately not in attendance for this meeting, but his boss was, and believe me I laid into him big time about my boss emailing someone who thought they were submitting a safety report anonymously. Watching my boss's boss squirm in front of the FAA was rather entertaining..."Um, well, we just wanted to make sure he was using all the resources he had available and, um..." but nothing too dramatic happened. The FAA representative did say I seemed like "a whole different person" at this meeting...he thought it was because my boss wasn't there, but he didn't know about my job offer.

Anyhow, as soon as I got word that yes, there were no problems with the drug test, I put in my notice. I timed it so that my last day would be in early April, thus extending my insurance coverage another month. My boss wasn't in his office when I left my resignation letter, but I did see him later that day. He seemed rather happy (perhaps not surprisingly) and said, "So you're leaving us, huh?" I said, yes, I was going to the Rather Large Airline. He replied, "Rather Large Airline Express?" No, I said, the mainline carrier. He frowned. I think he'd been hoping I would quit, but he was annoyed I had gotten with a major carrier. I asked if there was any paperwork I needed to take care of, and he said, "We'll do that later."

Towards the end of my shift that night, my boss's boss, the guy who I had made squirm at the safety meeting, showed up (around 10:30 P.M.) He asked me to come talk with him, along with the shift supervisor, and told me thanks for giving my notice, that was very professional of me, but they'd decided to just pay me my last two weeks salary instead. I didn't really object at all, but I was a bit surprised, because my boss was a NOTORIOUS cheapskate. Anyhow, I turned in my travel card and ID, cleaned out my locker, and left.

I think my boss did try to make it appear I had been fired rather than tell people where I'd gone. Evidently all the combinations on the doors were changed the next day, which usually only occurred when someone was terminated. I'm still not exactly sure why they didn't let me just work the last two weeks, but I think they may have been worried I would hack the computers or something (which I wouldn't have. I was unhappy there, sure, but there was no way I would screw up my big opportunity by doing anything I could get sued for later.) I also take the fact that they were afraid of what I might do as a slight compliment on their part, in a way...not that it really matters too much.

The only bad thing about this was that evidently most of the people I worked with were intimidated enough not to show up at the going-away party that I had...but hey, they did still work there, and I didn't, anymore. Honestly, I was so happy to leave, that I didn't really care too much. Just in case they also tried to feed my union president or the FAA a line of BS about why I'd left, I called and clarified things with both of them the morning after my last shift and surprise exit.

I must give my old boss SOME credit here. I was indeed paid for the last two weeks that I didn't work. The day off I'd been given (with pay) to "consider my future" didn't show up on my last paycheck, so I emailed him about that, and he got the company to send me a check for that day's pay. He also fixed things with HR over the ending date for my medical coverage.

All that being said, though, he's still in the top three of Worst Bosses I Ever Had. He'd been working for the company since before I was born (and I'm in my late thirties) so I guess he probably saw me as some kid trying to stir things up for no good reason. I was happy to get my old job when I did, after my previous airline went out of business back in 2002, since the industry was in a BIG slump when I got hired there...but I was even happier to escape.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Time to Geek Out

I know that my posting habit has been erratic of late, my apologies. I promise to deliver a substantive post in a couple of days...there is a reason I'm waiting.

On to the topic of this post...I just found this quiz online and find it rather fun to take:

Your results:
You are Jean-Luc Picard

Jean-Luc Picard
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Deanna Troi
Will Riker
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Mr. Sulu
Geordi LaForge
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Beverly Crusher
Mr. Scott

A lover of Shakespeare and other fine literature. You have a decisive mind and a firm hand in dealing with others.

Click here to take the "Which Star Trek character am I?" quiz...

I was a bit surprised by my results...although I've always admired Picard, I figured I'd end up with Spock or Worf. But in other ways it does make sense.

Oh, and Happy Easter, everyone.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Do run run

Greetings everyone. I did something today I haven't done in quite some time, which was to run in a 5K run for charity. I use the term "run" loosely here. It was more like "jog/walk/jog/walk/jog" but I did finish (slowly) without incident. I ran in part because my company was sponsoring the race and I got to do it without paying an entry fee...but it was also part of my "get in shape/diet" plan which has been kind of stalled in the last couple of weeks.

I used to run quite a bit. I even ran in a marathon once. Those days, as evidenced by my performance today, are long ago. However, I think this will motivate me to start exercising more. And running, while it can be hard on your knees, is excellent for weight loss. So, we'll see how it goes. It will probably be harder to get in shape in my 30's than it was in my 20's...but it's still doable. As a point of reference, my time today was twice as slow as I used to manage on 5K's I did in my mid-twenties when I was running a lot. But while I might not get down to that time again, I know I can improve a lot on what I did today.

The run (aside from my pathetically slow time) was fairly well designed, but it was an "out-and-back" course, which I've never been a fan of. That way, you see all the fast runners returning as you're still running out to the halfway point, and it makes you realize how much farther you have to go. The last bit of the run involved a "lap" around the sports structure where the post-race party was being held, and that was pure torture, since you think you're almost done, and you get back near the start, only to discover you have another mile or so to go. Oh well. Overall, though, the run was well-planned and there were adequate volunteers, water, first aid, etc. to make sure everyone had a fun and safe time.

The post-race party was kind of fun but I didn't stay for the awards. However, while much of the free post-race food was healthy...much of it wasn't. I assume this was for the benefit of all the families running, but post-run pizza is something I've never seen before. (And yes, I did have a slice of it...I do love pizza.) They also were handing out danishes, ice cream, sodas...no beer though. There was also the typical healthy post-race food of bananas, apples, bagels, etc. available along with water, juice, and Propel fitness water by Gatorade.

As this was a run to benefit cancer research, there were many family and corporate teams in the event, many of whom wore custom t-shirts identifying themselves. The group of volunteers handing out pizza were attired in T-shirts which read "MLF Volunteer Team." I almost smiled, thinking if they had one more letter on their shirts it would have been really funny. Was Stiffler's Mom around somewhere? Obviously whoever designed the shirts didn't share my twisted sense of humor.

One thing I usually like about runs is the sense of accomplishment afterwards. Of course, if you're not an elite runner, you have no chance of winning one of the prizes, but you know you finished and ran the same distance as everyone else...which makes you feel good. It's definitely a feeling you don't get just by watching a football or basketball game, even a live one.

UPDATE: Unbeknownst to me, this race hired photographers that took pictures of every single runner. I was able to download the pics from their web site and I'm attaching the least embarrassing one of yours truly. This was taken near the end of the run, which explains why I look like I'm about to keel over.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

100 Facts in 100 Days #12

This factoid is related in part to my Hospital Chronicles series, but not directly. I haven't had any serious injuries for a few years, but growing up, and in my twenties, I had my fair share of mishaps. I was trying to count, and near as I can come up with, I've broken or fractured seven different bones over the years. Some were from stupid accidents (punching a wall), others from bad luck accidents (crashing while skiing or slipping while hiking.) There's a chance I might have fractured one of my ribs once, also, but I never had it x-rayed so I'm not counting that in the breakage total.

I suppose I've been lucky (if you can count it as luck) in that I've never needed surgery to repair/set any of the injuries. Since three of the bones I've broken were in my left hand, I suppose that's rather fortunate. One chiropractor I went to took some x-rays of my neck and back and said I had at some point in my past fractured a vertebrae in my neck. If this happened, I don't know when, and it must have been not too severe of an accident or I would have remembered it. I'm not sure I trusted his evaluation (he was a chiropractor and not a radiologist, after all) but if he was correct, then I was very lucky. Any spinal cord damage from such an injury could potentially have paralyzed me from the neck down.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

100 Facts in 100 Days #11

I've always been kind of a computer geek since my early teen years. I mean, I've never been one to write code for hours on end, but I really like working with computers, and in recent years, I've done some of my own hardware upgrades, OS installations, etc.

Back in high school, this was viewed as the ultimate in geekery, but in recent years, it seems like being proficient on computers is like being good at working on cars...everyone respects your skills and wants your help! Of course, I'm definitely not an expert, but I do help out my friends when I can.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Weather here or there

This is the weather this afternoon around 3 PM today from near where I used to live "up north":

Temperature: -9.0°C (16°F)
Dewpoint: -12.0°C (10°F) [RH = 79%]
Pressure (altimeter): 30.37 inches Hg (1028.5 mb)
Winds: from the NE (40 degrees) at 3 MPH (3 knots; 1.6 m/s)
Visibility: 0.50 miles (0.80 km)
Ceiling: indefinite ceiling with vertical visibility of 300 feet AGL
Clouds: obscured sky
Weather: SN (snow)

This is what the weather was doing where I live now at around the same time:

Temperature: 16.7°C (62°F)
Dewpoint: 5.6°C (42°F) [RH = 48%]
Pressure (altimeter): 30.28 inches Hg (1025.5 mb)
[Sea-level pressure: 1025.7 mb]
Winds: from the SSE (160 degrees) at 10 MPH (9 knots; 4.7 m/s)
Visibility: 10 or more miles (16+ km)
Ceiling: 25000 feet AGL
Clouds: broken clouds at 25000 feet AGL
Weather: no significant weather observed at this time

Still a little cool here, but I'll take it any day over Wisconsin. I do miss a few things about my former state, don't get me wrong...but the winter weather is not one of them.

Friday, March 02, 2007

100 Facts in 100 Days #10

Since I started working in the aviation business, I have worked for five different airlines, and I've moved a total of six times. Only two of the moves were paid for by the company. One of the moves was due to a headquarters change of location, so the company had to pay for the move...the other paid move was to work for my previous employer in Wisconsin. The policy there has now changed and they no longer pay for new hire relocation costs. My current employer did help some with some move expenses (hotel, per diem, etc.) but did not pay for the movers. I am hopeful that the last long-distance move was my last one until I retire...although in the airline industry, you can't ever take anything for granted.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Attention Weather Geeks

Are you a fellow weather geek who always likes to have the outside temperature displayed in the taskbar of your computer? Tired of ads in Weatherbug or the Weather Channel Desktop? Want more weather map options? Well, then, I have a solution!

I'm seriously not getting paid to say this, but I did recently find a desktop weather product, ad-free, that I really like. It includes a variety of map options, from different sources, including a ton of international satellite options that most weather desktop products don't offer. It can be downloaded here, and it is completely free.

Of course, part of my interest in weather is professional, but part of the reason I have stayed in my career field this long is that I think meteorology is cool. In that respect, my personal formula for career happiness is aviation + meteorology + computers = cool.

Unrelated to weather, I am sadly forced to conclude this blog has become rather boring lately. I mean, I look at recent posts I've done vs. some early posts I did and I'm like zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I can't point to an exact cause. I do have some interesting things to write about, when I can sit down and make myself write...some of the stuff I'd like to write about is sort of personal, and I've been struggling with how much I want to put online. Which, for me, turns into "putting off posting." I'll work on it, though.

Diet is still going ok. Exercise program...been kind of lazy. However, the weather is getting really nice here, so that should help with my motivation to go outside.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Diet Update

One week in, four pounds lost. I actually was down a bit more and cheated on Valentine's Day, which I know is bad, but when someone brings in my favorite kind of cake to work and is giving out pieces of it...well, at least I only had one piece.

I am currently on a mostly-vegetarian diet, and have eliminated caffeine, Nutrasweet, and alcohol completely. Which, for those of you that know me, is saying something. We'll see how the coming week goes.

A Technical Question...

Has anyone else had issues with Firefox I was having lots of issues with drop-down menus not working properly. After looking through the Mozilla website, finding the archives, and rolling back to version 2.0, everything is fine again. Which is good, because I use the RSS "live bookmarks" feature to monitor most blogs I read that have RSS feeds, and it hadn't been working since I installed very well, if at all. Hopefully, Mozilla will get this issue fixed before the next update they do to Firefox 2.0...but just to be safe, I'm keeping a copy of the original 2.0 install program saved if I have to roll back again.

UPDATE: Be sure to turn off your "auto-update" setting if you copy what I did. My FF 2.0 automatically updated and installed just now, so I had to uninstall, then reinstall 2.0 again...well, I never claimed to be a computer expert. I waited to see if I had the same problem with my live bookmarks when reinstalled, and I did. Once Mozilla fixes that bug, I'll be happy to update.

2ND UPDATE: Well, I figured it out, folks...it wasn't Firefox, it was the theme I was using, which evidently wasn't compatible with the latest Firefox versions. Once I reinstalled a new version of the theme I like, everything works great, and I'm now running Firefox

I like that Firefox is so customizable, but sometimes this customize-ability causes issues...but it still beats the pants off of IE, in my opinion.

Monday, February 12, 2007

100 Facts in 100 Days #10

I am not much of a winter person. I do like snow skiing and snowshoeing, but I prefer not to deal with cold on a daily basis in winter. I have lived in two fairly cold states (New Hampshire and Wisconsin) and now that I'm living in a warm one (Texas) I really don't miss the snow and ice at all.

Yesterday, I went walking (trying to exercise more in conjunction with my diet) and it was a bit chilly, but I warmed up after a block or so. It was definitely no worse than sweatshirt weather. When I got to work, someone said they were sick of the cold weather and hoped it warmed up soon. I said, "This isn't COLD!" But who knows, after a few years of living here, I could begin to think temperatures in the 50s are chilly also. I definitely don't miss the sub-zero deep freeze weather I went through last winter.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Diet: Day 1

Well, I have put off starting this for long enough. Originally the date was February 1, then I decided to wait until after Superbowl Sunday, then I decided to wean myself off caffeine before starting the actual diet...so anyways, here I am.

It's definitely time for this, as I'm at around the heaviest I've ever been. Having a car is nice but not walking has made more weight creep on...so exercise (which I haven't been doing enough of) is called for also...but first I'll get the diet on track. I will miss beer, but it will still be there when I'm done with my initial, strict first phase.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

On Comments

If you have visited my blog in the past, I sincerely appreciate it. If you've visited my blog and also commented, I really appreciate it. One of my favorite bloggers, Marvo, usually repsonds to his visitors' comments, and I think that is a good policy (if you have the time.) I have made this my policy also, but I've been a little bit lax in complying with it lately...however, I think I just got caught up with all my recent posts. So, if you've visited before, and want to know what I thought of your comment, just check out the old post in question!

Hello Again!

Yes, still here, still not writing enough. Oh well. Been fairly busy this week with training for a volunteer program (more about that later) and working some OT. This weekend, I am heading to spend the weekend with a relative (driving instead of flying, for a change) and attending a meeting for an industry group I'm involved with. So, I have not disappeared, or been swallowed up by the big city.

Speaking of the big city, it does appear that in the name of urban development, my current apartment complex will soon be going the way of the dodo...it's being redeveloped. Doesn't really surprise me since this place was built before I was born and the real estate in this area has become rather valuable of late. However, my building is not one of the ones that will be torn down until Phase II of the redevelopment project...which could be a couple of years away. Everyone in buildings that will be torn down for Phase I has to leave by the end of June.

Let's see, other news...weather has been kind of cold and rainy, but the winters here are definitely better than Wisconsin! Rain is better than snow, unless you're going skiing. I'm planning on starting a diet next month (no caffeine or beer in the first stage of it, so I'll be rather grouchy I'm afraid.) .

Oh, and I just found out something interesting...a couple of years ago I interviewed for a position with a Department of Energy contractor that operated their aircraft fleet (the planes were owned by the DOE, but the pilots, maintenance, etc. were provided by the contractor.) It wasn't traditional airline dispatching, but it paid decently, and I liked it also in large part because of where it was located, in my hometown. They mentioned they were still trying to get a new contract with the DOE but I figured that it would be a fairly secure position, since they'd had a contract of some sort with the DOE since 1970 or so. The interview seemed to go fairly well, but I never got a job offer, to my disappointment. However, I just found out that company LOST their DOE contract and have been replaced by an operation based in Michigan (who is under no obligation to hire any of the old contractor's employees.) Sometimes, you have to be thankful for the job offers you don't get.

More updates by next week.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Which Superhero Are You?

Inspired by Wil, who posted this a few weeks ago on his blog, here are my results. It's a fun quiz if you have a minute.

Superman 85%
Supergirl 62%
Batman 55%
Robin 54%
Spider-Man 50%
Green Lantern 50%
Iron Man 50%
Hulk 50%
Wonder Woman 37%
Catwoman 35%
The Flash 30%

You are Superman
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Overdue Post

Some of my favorite bloggers have recently been doing "year in review" 2006 year-end postings to summarize how their life has been going through the past year. I suppose I should consider doing that myself but I mainly wanted to let everyone know why I haven't been posting as much lately as I would like to.

This past year has been a tumultuous one and lots of events have occurred, both positive and negative. I started off the year still working at a regional airline, and I ended it working for one of the big boys, so I am very happy about that. Without going into every sordid detail, I was growing increasingly sick of my former employer (due to management issues) so this was probably the year's biggest accomplishment. Although I picked out a very bad moving company, my stuff and I did make it safely to my new apartment. Aside from a couple of issues with my back, post-move, my health has been very good overall this year. These are all positive things.

On the negative side, this year has been overshadowed by some financial stress (caused in part by the move...reminder, all, that if you're considering a move in the Midwest, avoid Galaxy Van Lines at all costs) as well as family matters...specifically, dealing with my Mom. As you may recall, my sisters and I tried to get my mother to move this past year to a retirement community. She initially agreed, but even before the move was complete, she was saying she wanted to move home again. After a few hair-raising events (including walking five miles from her new home to her old home one day with her small dog on a hot summer day) the management of her new community said they couldn't support her continuing to live there without a large increase in cost on our part for additional monitoring. We decided it would be best to move Mom back to her old house (which is where I grew up) and have some caregivers come daily to help out with things. Mom was initially receptive to this idea but lately has been resenting having the caregivers come every day. All of this is about as much fun to try and manage long-distance as you'd think it would be.

So, you may say, why is it my Mom needs caregivers at all? Well, her physical health is pretty good overall, although she hasn't been exercising as much as she used to. Her mental health, on the other hand, is not. She has been diagnosed with a dementia, most likely Alzheimer's, that makes trying to deal with her problems that much worse. For instance, she doesn't see why she has to have daily visits from a caregiver (which is primarily to see she takes her medicine and is getting proper nutrition) and she also doesn't see why she can't drive anymore (the not driving is something we insisted on once she moved.) When bringing up her not driving anymore, my sisters and I would bring up specific events that her friends and relatives had told us about (running red lights, etc.) as well as forgetting where she had parked her car on more than one occasion, and she would get very defensive and talk about how there are no dents on the car. So, while I did take my Mom's car in part because I needed a new ride (and yes, I am paying her for it) I also took it so she wouldn't be able to call a locksmith to make keys for it and start driving again. However, this did not deter her at one point from having one of her caregivers take her to a car dealership and attempt to buy another car. Fortunately, they called the person in charge of my mom's financial accounts before selling her one, and he alerted my sisters as to what was happening, so the sale did not occur. But it wouldn't surprise me if Mom doesn't try something like that again.

Unfortunately, the year ended with a new medical issue for Mom. She is a breast cancer survivor, first diagnosed when I was in high school, but she has had it recur a few times over the years. It's been caught early each time and successfully treated. The year ended with her oncologist discovering a small nodule which she had removed and biopsied, which turned out to be cancerous. She is going on some new medicine to try and treat this (not chemotherapy, fortunately) and this is also something that has been fun to try and manage long-distance. My last trip to Albuquerque was to go to the doctor's appointment with her where she got this news. (It's a good thing I can fly for free or I'd be REALLY be having some financial stress with all the times I've had to visit Albuquerque.) I also helped see her off to go visit my sister in Chicago for Christmas. Unfortunately, that trip got overshadowed when the incision they had made to do her biopsy became infected, but my sister caught that early and Mom was put on antibiotics during her trip. She is still on antibiotics but should be finished with them shortly.

All of this occurring right before Christmas has been about as much fun as you'd think. I flew back home on the Friday before Christmas, in what turned out to be the busiest travel day for my airline EVER in terms of total passengers carried. Fortunately, I was able to hitch a ride in the jumpseat and make it home in time to go back to work.

Of course, I also had to work on Christmas Day itself, being new and junior at my airline. I did get to go to my oldest sister's house for Christmas dinner before work (she lives in the same city I do), and they also fed us at work later that day, so it wasn't all bad. If there is one good thing about all the issues we've faced with Mom, it's that it has brought me and my sisters a lot closer together. I'm very glad I don't have to deal with everything about Mom's care on my own.

In terms of my personal life, I probably should be taking better care of myself as far as exercising, trying to lose some weight I've gained since the move, and getting my apartment organized here (it's still kind of a mess.) I may join the throngs of people signing up at gyms after the holidays...there is a gym at my apartment I can use also, but I haven't been, so maybe I should just start using it as a first step. I'll let you know how things go in that area.

I don't intend for this post to be all negative (after all, I started it off with positive things.) I do appreciate those of you who have taken the time to read my ramblings occasionally, and link to or comment on my blog. I feel kind of guilty for not contributing to it more often...but as you see, I have had my reasons for not being able to. However, I'm not going anywhere, and this blog will continue...in fits and spurts, perhaps, but it will continue. Thanks for your support and hopefully the New Year will bring good news on Mom's health front. I'll keep all of you posted.