It's been over a month since my last update, but since then, I've moved over to the CRJ700 / CRJ900 making an extra $1.00 for flying 20-26 more passengers while operating an aircraft approximately 20,000 pounds heavier. It's been such a great aircraft but the mere fact that I'm flying something new and learning again keeps me grounded.
I've also started up another venture called "peak interest" so make sure to visit the website. You can also follow @whatspyi on twitter for more up-to-date messages and happenings. I've always wanted to start a podcast, so I finally found someone I can jibe with back and forth for countless hours and "peak interest" is the culmination of our efforts. Beyond being a work in progress, it's rough on many edges, but fine tuning it is something that will keep me busy throughout the next few weeks. I'm sitting here at Starbucks in Rancho Penasquitos and within the first 40 minutes, I've already added a few widgets to the new Thesis theme that I deployed a couple of days ago. I know it's dangerous to go live right away with kinks, but since we're growing, I'm sure you wouldn't mind growing with us.
If you haven't already, listen to our podcast on www.whatspyi.com or subscribe on iTunes via this link (opens iTunes).
The past few weeks have been pretty relaxing except for the multiple jumpseating I've been required to do lately for commuting purposes. Even on the way to Vegas and back on Southwest, I was left to ride the jumpseat which is actually not that bad in comparison to how long San Diego to Atlanta takes. I celebrated my friend's bachelor party in Vegas and made quite a few network connections in the mix while getting my dose of table craps! Loving it all and I can't wait to go back.
We were there for about 4 days and 4 nights which was just right. Staying at the Planet Hollywood was a great experience and really convenient for access to the strip. The biggest complaint that I have is that the bathroom didn't have a freaking vent or fan! I mean, with 2-4 four guys using the restroom with Vegas food and alcohol in and out of the system, it's quite the downer. We also got to watch Ian Bragg's comedy show at the LA Comedy Club, Las Vegas which was a crowd pleaser. If you end up walking the strip south towards the MGM, you can get tickets for about $10 off the door price at some ticket place.
Vegas is all about who you know. Once you meet up with the "guys" you're in to the clubs with some good discounted rates along with transportation. It was great all around, but I need to dig a little deeper in order to just get on the lists and such.
After finishing a three day course on CRJ700 differences this past week, I should be into the CRJ700 sim this upcoming week. I can't say that the plane is THAT much different, but it certainly isn't the same beast. I'm just glad that Canadair / Bombardier fixed a lot of the issues and made the plane faster. I've been studying quite a bit, but I definitely have a long way to go.
After the daunting task of having to get deiced in Atlanta, rerouted throughout the system and end up not having the extra time needed to organize my new apartment, it's back to everyday operations. Yesterday's flight consisted of quick turns with only delays taken for late fueling but this morning, on the way from Oklahoma City back to Atlanta, I once again was overwhelmed with the feeling of accomplishment and contentment.
It was a smooth operation departing almost 10 minutes early, taking off smoothly, flying through smooth air at 33,000 flight and even the landing I was happy about. The entire leg was just "simply perfect." Once again, I feel "right" in my place in the world. =)
Of course, today's schedule had us up at 3:45AM but we finished up early with only 2 legs today by 11:30AM. The La Quinta in Alexandria, Louisiana was renovated a couple of months back, and I have to admit that it's been one of the nicer places I've stayed. I'm just happy that the internet here works well and is fast enough to actually stream some Hulu or fox.com for Dollhouse action. I planned a 30 minute nap, but you know how those go and slept for about 3 hours. Had a quiet dinner at Cracker Barrel by my lonesome, then retired back at the hotel. Good times being a pilot.
I leave you with a picture from trelijah taken two days ago. Looks great eh?
Lets start from the beginning; if you recall, yesterday was a day that originated with me traveling in on a red-eye from San Diego (3 hrs sleep in an upright position), 2 hours sleeping horizontally at the now "old" crashpad, picking up a uhaul, loading up and cleaning, unloading at the new place which happens to be on the 3rd story w/ no elevator, returning the truck, organizing a bit, going shopping at Ikea for a new bed and frame, stuffing it all in a VW Jetta, unloading that up three flights of stairs (again), assemblying and cleaning until 2AM.
This is where the fun begins. The only reason I stayed up till 2AM is because I received a phone call from scheduling telling me that I was to be on short call reserve, which means that if I were to get a call from operations, I would have to be at the airport and in my plane dutied in within 2 hours, at 7:30 with a mandatory duty in at 10:25 for an 11:25AM departure to Omaha, Nebraska. Instead of 5 legs as originally planned, I was now scheduled to fly one leg to Omaha followed by one leg back tomorrow. I thought to myself that it shouldn't be that bad, but little did I know.I arrive at the airport a little early (10:10AM) happen to meet up with Kurt, walked to another concourse to pick up my flight bag while grabbing a venti caramel machiatto w/ soy from Starbucks, went to the plane and got it ready to go. All in all, it didn't seem like it was going to be too harsh, but the weather deteriorated quickly.
I figured that I should read up on the de-icing procedures in ATL since I've never done it before along with the fact that we were going to be a while until our ticket was up. We board up, release the parking break and great ready to go. Once we're on the taxiway, we were told that deicing would take approximately 1 hour from our current spot in line, so we turned off both engines and hung out. By the time we were number 1 and getting ready to enter the de-ice pad, the forecast and current weather conditions equated heavy snow. "+SN" limits us by putting a stringent requirement of having to take off within 5 minutes of deicing and the current estimates were about 8-10 minutes. So, all in all, it wasn't conducive to get deiced with a chance of having to do it all over again. All the while, we pick up on the radio that the runway was shut down because of poor braking action. Good thing we just turned back.
Getting a parking spot wasn't that much of an issue but since the rampers and gate agents were being overwhelmed with returned aircraft, it was about another 15-20 minutes of sitting waiting with the door open, snow piling up on the stairs and passenger entry way before we started the de-boarding process. Outside my window, I see this: and record this:
Another two hours pass by, we finally get called back out to the aircraft to continue the flight to Omaha, Nebraska and prepare the aircraft once again. We are notified that it would be another hour till we hear what's going on since the de-ice line is nearing the 2 hour mark, and once again, we sit for about 2 hours in the plane just waiting. Mind you, I've been at work since 10:25AM and I've only been paid for about 1.5 hours and it's already 4:30PM. A ramp agent comes aboard and tell us that we've been Code Sixed - Cancelled and I get a call: Instead of 5 legs today which turned into 1 leg to Omaha, I will be operating a flight to Kileen, Texas departing at 6:55PM. So, I get to sit another 2 hours unitl we depart. To make the story short, I finish the day with a 15 hour duty day, 4.5 hours of block time (hours in the aircraft actually getting paid) and now I sit here blogging in Kileen, Texas and instead of getting back to Atlanta at 8:00AM, I'm not due in till 4:00PM extending my entire schedule! YEA for me!
Here is another video with actual pictures of the snow on the wings of the aircraft.
Well, for the last year or so, I've been promising a more consistent writing style, reviews and just everyday posts about my random adventures, but lately, I've just been hanging out doing what I do...be a human wasteland until things come up.
In the last month or so, I've had recurrent ground training, a proficiency check (where I test my flight skills and knowledge with a chance of losing my job if I underperform), got my class date for the CRJ700 set for March 23rd, bidded for my March schedule and got the days off that I needed for a friend's bachelor party, looked at a few different apartments in the Atlanta area for possible crashpad solutions and found one with access to the MARTA, and even met one of the three new crashpad roomies and hung out.
Speaking of which, as an update to the "question of '09", I will be having a residence in Atlanta and the group decided on living at the Uptown Square at Lindbergh. It offers a 30 minute ride on the train system which will save me gas and maybe give me the chance to bring my car back home to San Diego. I figured that $250 /mo for the peace of mind is a better way of easing myself off of a crashpad. I just wasn't ready to not have a place at all in Atlanta pending a situation where I would get stuck in a hotel due to weather or training or whatever else. Uptown Square at Lindbergh received a 12% rating on apartmentratings.com which is a little sketchy, but I'm sure that we can make the best of it. I'll tell you how it goes as the year progresses.
As for everything else, there are a few random ideas I have been throwing around lately and we'll see what I end up with. Hopefully something by the end of March. *fingers crossed*
if anything, if you're looking for more frequent / daily updates, check out my twitter:eejay and follow me or check out my mobile blog trelijah.
Initially when I first submitted it, I was about 11th on the list of first officers, but when the "final" awards came, there was another 16 pilots that ended up in front of me due to their more senior standing on the pilot list. So, if you are wondering the difference between the aircraft that I'm flying now and was awarded, it basically sits 20 more passengers (70 up from 50), has stronger engines, leading edge wing devices that enable a slower approach category, two flight attendants (the federal regulations calls for 1 flight attendant per 50 passengers) and because of all that, the overall takeoff weight and fuel load are increased. The CRJ700 also flies to different places.
ASA was awarded 8-10 CRJ900 (sits up to 88 passengers but the Delta configuration has 76 with a first class section) and since the CRJ700 and 900 are pretty similar, I'll be flying both around the Delta System. It's going to be an interesting next couple of months without a doubt and I can only hope for the best as we also just announced that we will be furloughing (laying off) 80 pilots.
It's up and the finals are out. I have two days of recurrent ground and I'm flying Saturday through Tuesday only because with that, I was able to get a bit of days off in a row for a mini vacation. I have no idea where we're going or what I'll be doing, but it'll be something on the low end scale of things. I can't see 2009 being extravagant at all!
So, what do I do? Come this February, the Loxford Lounge / Farm House will end a 2 year lease agreement and all seven of us have already made plans to move out. Well, at least 4 of us have a housing situation already in the works, but that leaves me with the questions of paying rent for an apartment / room in Atlanta or just commuting in and out and maybe using a hotel every now and then. If you take my current situation into account, I pay ~$120 for a loft space per month but then in February, that will most likely end up being ~$300 or more for a room with two other great guys. Of course, that just negated the mediocre pay increase that I will be getting and the fact that I'm hardly here utilizing my living quarters just irritates me. In the month of November, I think that I was in the loft a total of 3-4 times. So with a hotel near the airport at around $50 a night, I'm still doing better with the loft, but then when the rent increases to an amount > $300, it'll take about 6 night stays to make it worthwhile. Do you get it?
Granted the loads on mainline Delta have really taken a dive and sometimes going from San Diego to Atlanta every week can get tiring, but it always ends up working out anyways. So, with this big decision, I have to come to terms with my belongings that I have in Atlanta on whether or not to spend the extra cash to move everything home to San Diego in one big crate, or piece by piece, etc. Obviously if I stay in Atlanta and have a place of residence, then I can keep some of my stuff here and just postpone the inevitable move back to San Diego, but who knows. I have a feeling that I might end up here at ASA a little while longer so I might as well get use to Atlanta? I have no frigging clue. It basically winds down to the want that I have to find a place that is relatively inexpensive to where it'll be less than what I would spend a month on a hotel in Atlanta and still be with people i know. I also want to have the option to actually "live" there for 2-3 days in a row just incase I decided not to fly to San Diego or the mere fact that I might not be able to get on due to full capacity.
This also brings up the other fact that now since I sold the old turbo diesel in San Diego, I am without transportation and am contemplating whether or not I need a car in Atlanta? I have one here, but it doesn't get use that often and the last time I left it alone for more than 11 days, the battery died on me. What the heck people!?
Two years ago at this time, I was just settling back in America from my 3 month excursion to Europe, hanging out with friends in San Diego and getting ready to head back to Fort Lauderdale to hear the fate of gamble at a startup cargo carrier. With all the negative news surrounding what regional carrier would have a future, anything really seemed better than what we were faced with: pilots with over $100k in debt, no idea where to go next and what to do. Then, we got a departure stipend from the failed company (a meager amount to just barely cover costs of recurrent training at our previous flight school) and all of a sudden we were preparing for an interview with one airline when another swopped in the to interview us two days earlier. The rest is history as we all started on the 27th of December here at Atlantic Southeast Airlines.
We all couldn't' have been more thankful and gracious to our directors of the program for helping us move on. It was the best Christmas as we virtually never lost any pay moving from one place to the next.
Now, in an industry where furloughs (layoffs) are inevitable, wages barely livable with loan payments and rent taking more than 50%, it's something that we have all come to live with. Having never flown out of the base that I thought I was going to be domiciled at (LAX), I'm also coming to the slow realization that I will be stuck here in Atlanta a little while longer. As more pilots are finding themselves without a job and competing with the rest of us for that next step, it's not necessarily a dire position to be in, but it's not the best to start a new life. 2008 was full of improvements and 2009 should be edge more towards the second step in the changing of guards -- cutting overall costs. Until then, I have a great schedule for December as I have Christmas Eve and New Years' off and will just reflect on the current obstacle: finding a living situation in Atlanta for February 2009; to crashpad or not to crashpad.
The garage is almost cleaned up and unpacked and the office downstairs is about 75% complete. Rummaging through some boxes, I was able to find quite a few of my old video games, put them up on my amazon.com sellers account, and boom, I sold 11 games ranging from $1.99 to $14.99. Minus the ~25% amazon commissions fee, I made $110! There's a lot to more to sell too from DVDs to other stuff I got and don't use and they're going at 80% off retail! Check it out when you have sometime.
I woke up today to a startling, "you're front yard is flooding!" and upon walking outside, the sprinkler system was busted right where the main line connects to the front yard. Check out the pictures at trelijah. I have a before and after. I've never done any plumbing before and went to the Home Depot to buy some quick drying blue cement and a 1" end cap just in case we needed to stop the system entirely. TO sum it up, we were out of water for the 4 hours, I drained a couple of buckets worth emptying out the area where I needed to patch up the piping and then after more yardwork, I rested a bit. Exciting way to start the day.
I bid for my December schedule and got awarded my vacation allotment for 2009. I'm off for a red eye back to ATL then I'll be flying around the system for the next three days. Catch me back in San Diego on Saturday night or Baton Rouge Thursday and Friday night.
Finally a solution for an animated weather radar. (thanks Zaphu) There currently two applications that can do just this, but it requires a nominal fee of $0.99. With the current reviews nearing the low 2 stars, I'm a little hesitant. The author of Radar-In-Motion has mentioned that he will accommodate the quirks that others have been complaining about which might make it worth it later on.
iWeathr is the best radar app for the iPhone that I have found so far. Navigate to iweathr.com and locate your nearest radar location. Note that you won’t be entering the city where you live but rather the location of a radar installation. For help finding the nearest one to you go here. This implementation allows both rotation and zooming in - very nice!
Another nifty weather iPhone web application can be found at http://iphone.my-cast.com/ It's a basic forecasting web-app but all that more powerful and simple.
*Update: kurt mentioned below that he prefers i.wund.com for it's simplicity and the mass information that is displayed on the iPhone screen for that particular location. I have to say that it definitely does show great information, but the moving map on iweathr.com is the basic one that is hosted by the government's weather website: http://adds.aviationweather.gov/radar/ which is the one that prefer using when scoping out the weather prior to flying. Thanks for the comments!
There you have it. I just uploaded my latest flying schedule to my Google Calendar but I'm of course trying to swap things out, so if I ever get approved for some swaps, you'll be able to track them. Hope to see you at the overnights.
I'm finding myself having to ride Mainline Delta quite a bit more these days as my AirTran options have diminished from 4 flights a day to San Diego from Atlanta to only one or two and even an occasional none. It's a little frightening on how it will impact my commute as the Delta flights are pretty much always impacted and oversold, but I guess I'll have to make due.
My schedule for October is going to be as financially successful due to the lack of available trips to pick up and the fact that I had to cut one of my trips in half to an obligation in Fulton County. If you forgot already, I'm set for a court appearance in relation to my speeding ticket that I got a couple of weeks back while driving to the airport.
This is only my 3rd time using Qumana, a free blog editor for Mac OSX and I have to admit that I sometimes find the interface much more accommodating than the Windows Live Writer. The reason for the transition back to using my Powerbook Ti is because I miss it. It's the truth but the 667 MHz is sometimes just frustrating. The battery life is long lasting and the size is great but the 30Gb hard drive also is a handicap. I wish that I just had two good computers to use and stick with instead of being all over the place. I have a broken HP dv1000 laptop at home that needs to be diagnosed (might need a new hard drive), a dual Pentium 3 1GHz tower that I've had for years which should still run, but I have no clue why it's not booting up and a box of parts sitting in Atlanta waiting to be put together.