Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Car Stuff

Nothing serious this time, thankfully. My car has a stereo with an antenna that automatically extends/retracts when you turn it on or off. While driving around yesterday, I noticed the antenna hadn't fully retracted. This has happened before and I've been able to get it working with some WD-40, but after 15 years this time it gave up the ghost...dead antenna.

I happened to be driving past an auto tint/car alarm/car stereo place later that same day and made note of their number. When I called, they told me they could replace the antenna and gave me an estimate. Since I'd been wanting to get the windows tinted for a while, I got an estimate for that as well, and went ahead and got both things done at once today. I left to go get some food while they did the work and came back a couple hours later. When I got back they were done, and the installer asked me if I'd just bought the car. I told him no, that I'd had it for a while. "Really?" he said. "Damn, man, that is one really nice ride you have. Clean as a whistle." The shop owner complimented me on the car as well. That makes me feel good, that all the money I've spent on the thing this year hasn't been spent in vain. And believe me, after all the money I've spent I have no intention of getting a new car any time soon.

Now I just have to remember not to lower my windows for three days due to the newly applied window tinting; I guess it's like a "cure" time for the newly applied tint. No fast food drive through food for me for the next couple days! It's something I should avoid anyhow.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Random Adventures

Greetings everyone. Not a whole lot has been happening here other than, work, which isn't too exciting. Well, I did have another in-flight medical diversion and those are always fun, but for the most part things have been pretty quiet. However, some things happened this week I thought were were worth blogging about.

Adventure One: I was getting some gasoline after work and this guy walked up and asked if I could give him a ride about a mile north so he could catch a bus home. I initially said no, but then I changed my mind as he seemed kind of desperate, and he didn't seem too suspicious. He was trying to call his sponsor, etc. I suppose I did it because he seemed like he had been down on his luck, but was trying to get his life together, and also because I had no car when I first moved here and I remember how much it sucks. All that being said, I never begged for rides either. After I dropped him off, I thought, hmmm, you know, if he had just started walking to his destination rather than begging for rides, he probably would have gotten there almost as quickly. However, it was getting kind of late, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt in wanting to get there and make sure to catch the bus before it stopped running for the night...but all the same, I probably won't do that again. As a general rule, I never pick up hitchhikers.

Adventure Two: I had a couple of gift certificates for Best Buy, so I decided to buy some color ink for my printer since it's running out. My printer is a rather old HP Deskjet model, which used to belong to my mother...I want to say she bought it in 1999, perhaps? I don't do a lot of printing with it, but it still works like a champ. However, I didn't have the old cartridge with me when I went to the store, so I asked the clerk on duty there which cartridge I needed...he had to look it up online, and he had trouble looking it up because the printer is no longer made, but he finally told me it was a "78" type. I went ahead and bought the VERY PRICEY ink, then got home and tried to plug it in. It fit fine but I kept getting an error message...finally realized that although they are very similar in shape, I needed a "23" type and not a "78" type. Thanks, Best Buy! Fortunately I did save the receipt, so I'll be returning that incorrect cartridge today and using the credit to help buy a laptop backpack I saw there and liked. Also, I found a OEM ink cartridge (the RIGHT one) for sale online that cost about 1/3 what the HP brand did, and included free shipping so, lesson learned.

Adventure Three: I worked last night, volunteering for a graveyard overtime shift. That was probably a mistake. I believe they call those shifts "graveyard" because you feel like you belong in one when the shift is's hard for me to believe I worked those exclusively for a year back when I started working on the international desks a few years ago. It didn't help that I didn't get a good nap in before work, or that the particular shift I was working had very little to do up until about an hour before shift's end, so I was definitely feeling like a zombie and I had a lot more caffeine than I normally do in an attempt to stay awake. I also had some trouble getting signed in, and one airport had low visibility right when I got there...but once I finally got signed in, the fog lifted enough for the one flight I was concerned about to land, and the shift was pretty uneventful after that.

I decided to reward myself with a Denny's breakfast after the shift was over, which I used to do quite often at the end of my workweek, back when I worked graveyard shifts all the time. I ordered something that was no longer on the menu, which the manager had told me when I visited previously wouldn't be a problem to order. The waitress didn't remember how much it cost, however, and seemed to be really confused about how much to charge me. I told her what it cost, and she thought it was I told her, well, if you want to charge me the price of this similar item currently on the menu, that's fine, but I definitely want to get this particular item if I can. So, she ended up bringing me the similar item of food, and not what I ordered. I told her that what I got wasn't what I ordered and she got all flummoxed and started asking other employees what the item I wanted cost. I was waiting for her to take my plate back to the kitchen and she says to me, "You're sure you don't want this?" I probably normally would have been more polite, but I was rather grumpy after being up all night and tired of arguing about it so I just said, "Never mind! I'm leaving!" I got up and walked out (since all I'd had at that point was ice water, I didn't owe anything.) I hate it when someone I am ordering stuff from (be it food or some other kind of merchandise) starts arguing with me when they are the ones who made the mistake. Fortunately, my favorite bagel shop was open, so I just got a breakfast sandwich there instead (which was honestly probably all I really needed.)

Not a whole lot else going on here. After reading about them some on another blog, I have decided to order a GPS for my car as an early birthday present to myself (I turn 42 next month, so I'm thinking of having a Hitchiker's Guide themed day.) Also planning a trip up to see my relative Rex for a few days over my birthday weekend, so that should be a good chance to try out the GPS. Later on, in November, I'm attending Wurstfest in New Braunfels. I went last year and it was a really fun time.

Hope everyone is doing well, and I promise an update on how I like the GPS, once it arrives here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 Memoriam

Instead of a post from me today, I'm publishing the names of the airline employees that died as a result of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01. Thanks to Cranky Flier for the idea.

American 11 (Boston to Los Angeles)
Crashed into World Trade Center
John Ogonowski, Dracut, Mass., Captain; Thomas McGuinness, Portsmouth, N.H., First Officer; Barbara Arestegui, flight attendant; Jeffrey Collman, flight attendant; Sara Low, flight attendant; Karen Martin, flight attendant; Kathleen Nicosia, flight attendant; Betty Ong, flight attendant; Jean Roger, flight attendant; Dianne Snyder, flight attendant; Madeline Sweeney, flight attendant

United 175 (Boston to Los Angeles)
Crashed into World Trade Center
Victor J. Saracini, Lower Makefield Township, Pa., Captain; Michael Horrocks, First Officer; Amy Jarret, flight attendant; Al Marchand, flight attendant; Amy King, flight attendant; Kathryn Laborie, flight attendant; Michael Tarrou, flight attendant; Alicia Titus, flight attendant

American 77 (Washington/Dulles to Los Angeles)
Crashed into the Pentagon
Charles Burlingame, Captain; David Charlebois, First Officer; Michele Heidenberger, flight attendant; Jennifer Lewis, flight attendant; Kenneth Lewis, flight attendant; and Renee May, flight attendant

United 93 (Newark to San Francisco)
Crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
Jason Dahl, Colorado, Captain; Leroy Homer, Marlton, N.J., First Officer; Sandy Bradshaw, flight attendant; CeeCee Lyles, flight attendant; Lorraine Bay, flight attendant; Wanda Green, flight attendant; Deborah Welsh, flight attendant

Friday, September 10, 2010

At a loss...

Yesterday, I found out one of my co-workers had been terminated. I don't know all the details, but evidently the individual in question had been late or called in sick many, many times and progressed through all the warnings given with such behavior...and was finally fired. I'm really having trouble understanding what he was thinking.

I guess it would be one thing if you just had X number of incidents where you were late or called in sick, and then were let go without any warning. This is not the case at my company (or any other company that I'm aware of.) Since I'm a member of a union, we may have more protection than most employees, but I think we follow the same policy as the rest of the company, and it's pretty standard one, similar to other places I've worked...if you're late and/or call in sick a certain number of times, you get an informal warning. More incidents result in a more formal, written warning. More incidents STILL will result in a final written warning. After that, you're let go.

The section chair for my union is making sure that the company followed their written policy in this case, but I'm pretty sure that they did. It just leaves me scratching my head and wondering, what were they thinking?

Good jobs are not in abundant supply right now, as I'm sure everyone reading this knows. Getting on with a major airline in my profession is not easy to do either (if anyone doesn't believe me, feel free to try it yourself, but I'd allow about 5-10 years to get the necessary training and experience.) My employer still offers a company paid pension in addition to a 401K match, plus good benefits, travel benefits, etc...if you add up all the lost wages and benefits over the course of a career, I would say that the terminated individual could well have lost over a million dollars by being fired (I know that sounds like a lot, but when you add up the cost of wages plus benefits over a 20-30 year period, in addition to the lost pension, it does add up that high.)

I wish the best of luck to my former co-worker. And, if proper procedure was not followed in letting him go, I'm sure my union will appeal to get his job back. Otherwise...I hope he learned his lesson and finds a new job that he likes, and remembers that multiple little incidents at work can add up over time.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Vacation Recap

Greetings everyone. Overdue for a post as usual, and I really have no excuses to give...other than the fact that I've been working a lot of overtime, to pay for my recent vacation as well as all the work I've had done on my car this past summer.

Let's see, where to start? Vacation was awesome and I had a really good time in both places I visited. I split up my week off into two first trip was to Albuquerque, my hometown, which I hadn't visited since shortly after my mother moved here. My cousin was getting married so I was very glad the timing worked out enabling me to be there for that event. The wedding was awesome as was the reception afterward. My cousin Tanya who got married is a few years older than me, so perhaps there is hope for me yet! But I'm not stressing on it, since I really do enjoy the single life most of the time.

Albuquerque had beautiful weather, and I do miss the climate there (specifically, the lack of humidity.) I was very busy all three days I was there, first attending a family get-together at my Uncle's house, then going out that night with an old friend from high school, then attending the wedding the next day. My final full day in Albuquerque I went for a hike near my parent's old house, which was one of Bentley's favorite places to go hiking...I still miss that dog. After he was put to sleep, we had him cremated, and I scattered his ashes on the trail, which I'd been wanting to do for a while. It felt like a good way to say goodbye. Later in the day, I drove up to Santa Fe and visited my father's grave, so I guess it could seem like this day was especially morbid, but to me it just felt like a good way to say goodbye. I had visited my father's grave before, but not by myself, and it seemed easier to "have a conversation" with him alone rather than with someone else standing next to me.

Anyhow, after that was done, I made a visit to Ten Thousand Waves to soak a while in their hot tub and recover from my hike earlier in the day, before meeting a friend for some drinks and karaoke at at a Western themed bar and restaurant that night. I flew back to Texas the following morning, but I managed to squeeze in a breakfast meet with another old friend of mine before dropping off my rental car. While the flights were pretty full both going there and coming back, I did get a decent seat both times without any problem.

I decided to use Wednesday as a non-travel day to catch up with errands and such here in Texas, and I went out for a meal with Mom that day as well. I was planning to catch a mid-morning flight the next day out to California for the second half of my vacation, but I set my alarm clock for PM than AM and ended up oversleeping for the flight. The afternoon flight was pretty heavily overbooked, but I was able to hitch a ride by sitting in the cockpit, a perk of my present profession. The crew was very friendly and I do always learn something new when I do that, so although I'd rather have been relaxing in the cabin, I was mainly just glad I was able to get to my vacation destination. Also, I was glad I'm single, since I'd never have been able to get a girlfriend or spouse on the flight I took out there.

My destination in California was Sacramento, a town which I really enjoy even if it isn't thought of as a traditional vacation spot. They also had beautiful weather the whole time I was there. I have some friends in the area, and I visited it a lot when I was thinking about working for the state of California. I stayed in town the first night at a rather seedy Motel 6, and the next day I went sightseeing around town before heading to a resort place south of town where I spent the rest of the weekend. In addition to seeing the state Capitol building, I managed to get in a visit to a museum by Folsom Prison, where I almost ended up working before deciding, fortunately, to stick with the airline business a little longer. (It was a good thing I did since I got an offer from the Rather Large Airline only a couple months after deciding that a corrections officer career wasn't for me.) The museum was really interesting, though, and I snagged a copy of the Johnny Cash Folsom CD as well as a T-shirt before proceeding on to my destination that evening.

I didn't do a lot of sightseeing the rest of the weekend, but I had a good time relaxing. I did a fair bit of walking around, as well, so I ended up not gaining any weight while I was gone, which was a pleasant surprise, as I don't really keep close tabs on my fast food or beer consumption when I'm on vacation. My trip back went much more smoothly than my trip out went, and I arrived home that night sort of tired from the trip but very relaxed.

I wish I had more news to report, but there hasn't really been anything exciting happening. There's lots of overtime available at my job this month, which is good since I need to pay for some of the car bills I racked up over the summer. I am working this weekend, but I do have off for Labor Day itself, as well as Tuesday. I always like having off the same day other people are going back to their traditional schedule jobs, and I sometimes make the effort to get up early and see people getting ready for work. If I'm in a particularly vindictive mood, I'll have a beer while I watch (not that I usually drink beer in the morning, you understand, but on special occasions like that, I feel it's justified.)

Speaking of beer drinking, football season is almost underway, and courtesy of the fine folks at The Onion, I thought I would share this hilarious video about Packer fans (and being a Packer fan myself who also lived in Wisconsin for over three years, I think I'm allowed to say that parts of this video are, unfortunately, scarily accurate. But it's still hilarious.)