Ever had a moment where you see something, know something is wrong but your mind doesn't quite work it out for a few seconds. You just stand there thinking "What is wrong". Well that happened this morning. Heidi and I were heading out to see her folks and put our bikes in storage for the winter. As we came downstairs into the garage of our apartment complex all was ok. We were out on time, we had coffee in hand, had both been to the gym and were nice and relaxed. As I walked over to the truck though, it took a second for me to realize something was wrong. Heidi didn't even see it but I knew straight away something was up. That something took a second or two to really sink in, but my bike was missing. Earlier in the year, during spring when we took our bikes out of storage they had a nice new home. Thule make a fantastic bike carrier for the back of a truck. It is a secure mount that has locks so that the bikes are held in and only the person with a key can remove it, or so I thought. They didn't touch Heidi's bike they just took mine and it was clear gone from the rack. They had removed the entire mount from the truck and taken it along with the bike. They then decided that they needed the front wheel (as removing the front wheel is required to use the mount). So with a bolt cutter they cut clean through the chain that was used to lock the wheels to the truck and just slid it off, again leaving Heidi's front wheel behind. So the secure garage we park the truck in, really isn't secure. They didn't touch the truck, or damage it in any way, all they did was take my bike. We called the police immediately and they sent someone over to take down a police report. So that was done. I also called our insurance company, not sure if it would matter but I did make a claim so that if something does happen, if it can be covered in any way, i might get help in replacing it. The cop took down the details, but i knew the reality, I probably wasn't going to get anything back, ever. After doing what we needed to do today, we finally got back to the apartment and I notified them of the theft as well. They didn't really seem to care at all. I will be surprised if they do anything, or say anything. A lot of people I am sure will say they are sorry, that they understand it must hurt. To be honest, I don't know what I feel. It was a bike, it wasn't as if it was something irreplaceable. Don't get me wrong, this bike has a lot of sentimental value. It was my first EVER bike. The bike I learned to ride, the bike that I did my first Triathlon on. A Bike that I had used to go on rides with Heidi, while we were still dating (we took it across I-90 a couple of times, took it on the "Trail of Death" as I call it in Federal Way). So this bike did have a lot of big meaning in my heart, but not something I will lose sleep over I guess. So to the person who has my bike (who I doubt will see this) enjoy it. It gave me a lot of pleasure, here's hoping that you get what you want from it. If anyone does happen to see a White Hardtail Mountain Bike around Renton with Avanti Aggressor on it (A brand that you can't find here in the USA). Tell the cops, please.
Ugh, an almost solid week of rain and the end of daylight savings means one thing, winter is coming. It's
annoying but it is life. Work will start slowing down which is fantastic, yet bad at the same time. All of Seattle will change as the trees start dropping leaves and disappearing entirely. The end if the year is busy with thanksgiving, then Heidi's birthday and then Christmas shortly after. Struggle street
and yet not at the same time. So much food, so much candy and baking too. I have much to dothis Christmas. But it's also a time i dislike not just because of the temperature. The fact I can't go out and go for a run because it's raining, or ride my bike because it's raining (or too cold). It's a crappy time if the year. I guess it's time to start running on the treadmill and sucking it up. This post doesn't have many special meaning just more of a whinge. At least it's not pitch black out at 7am now. Thank god for small mercies.
Yesterday was a rough day for what should have been a really simple task. For the last 2 years I have been using a technique called "manufactured spending" to pay my rent. Since the rent is the only thing I can't really use a credit card for (and trust me, all of my bills go to my credit card), I had to find a way to do it. Along came the American Express Bluebird. A prepaid Amex that offered the ability to write checks. Perfect! All I had to do was buy some Gift cards from a grocery store (triggering Double points on Grocery!), set up the pin on the card, go into walmart and load the bluebird from the Gift Card. Up until recently this has never been a problem (and only once did I ever have any kind of issue buying $1000 worth of gift cards). When Heidi and I moved in together we kept it up, when we had to pay rent, she would just give me a gift card and I would load it up and pay the rent. Simple as! When I went through the job transitions earlier in the year, I moved away from it for a little while as the fees to play this game (about $5 per GC) just wasn't justifiable. So now that things are back to normal and rent is due. Back to it right? One of my cards had a short term bonus on Grocery spend (score!) so I figured I would do some spend on that card to max out that bonus. I also have some minimum spends to do at the moment so figured a short term return to it would be good. Things were not to be! I had my gift cards ready to go, and headed off to Walmart in Renton, pretty much the place I have used many many times. When I got there, as usual no sign of the Walmart ATM since they removed it because it was constantly broken. So I lined up at the money center (thankfully not much of a wait, I think the longest I have stood in line there is over 45 mins). When it was my turn, I asked to load my bluebird and then they told me not from Gift Cards. Asking when that changed, they said "o its always been that way" (it hasn't). They just flat out refused, so it was off to the next Walmart. I texted a friend to see if he had heard any problems, nothing on the radar. Next Walmart they refuse to do it as well, citing stupid reasons (which was code for, I am sorry, I am to busy to load your Card that can only be loaded at Walmart). 2 Down, off to number 3. I get to the third Walmart and when I asked to load my bluebird the guy started spouting reasons to not do it. "You can't load at the register" "Yes you can, I have done it here before" (truth) "Well, I can't do it, this register can't do it" "Ok, because all Walmart registers can load" (again truth) "O, well I don't know how, go see the manager at the Money Center" "There is no one at the money center" "well I am not loading it". 3 stores down, 2 lazy associates, 1 where they don't know what they are talking about. So in the end I head south to two more Walmart's down near Heidi's parents place (we decided to go over there for dinner and board games). I get to the first one and finally get someone who will willingly load money to my Bluebird. I get them to load just one of my cards and they start to go back and forth with a supervisor saying stuff I can't hear. He takes my gift card and walks off where I can't see him, comes back and says "this wont work, it doesn't have a PIN". I reply and tell him it does and he says "well, give it a try but it won't work". We process it. Successfully loading it onto my card, I walk out and thank them to have a nice day (kinda sarcastically). I now have 1 card down, 2 to go! I try the last Walmart for the day, one referred to as the "sketchy walmart". I hit pay dirt at this place. I managed to find a new employee, a couple of weeks into the job who was friendly and actually wanted to help me. Although she did try to load the wrong amount (it caused her to lock up her register) she let me load in all the cash I needed to, was happy to do it and without any hassles at all. I was super Happy! All of this makes me wonder if it is even worth doing this anymore? Heidi gave me an earbashing over it, and after all the frustration of so many different Walmart visits, I am wondering if it is worth it myself. I don't know how to feel about it all to be honest. I do it to not waste points, but maybe it is time to give up on that part. Soon enough we will have a mortgage and points and travel will probably be the last of my worries. Trying to make sure we have the right credit etc is what we will need to focus on. My credit score is good, I have no problem at all. Maybe it is just this area and MS. I see reports of people having no problems in other parts of the country, but up here in the PNW they just don't like it. Is the age of MS over? For me, it probably is.
I was going to spare my readers on another trip report down to LAX for a same day turn. I mean how boring could it be considering all I went down for was to take photos of planes, hang out with friends and eat some In n Out. I will still post the plane photos when I get around to doing them (there are lots of them, and I am still working on Dallas photos yet). However Saturday didn't go entirely as planned with my rental car, so let me explain. I like renting from National Car Rental. They have good service, they allow me to pick and choose whatever car I want from the lot and the rates are pretty good. My rental in LAX for the day is usually $30 all in (the taxes in LAX are beyond stupid) and I usually get a full size car, of very good quality. In the past I have had Challengers, Maximas, Chrysler 300Cs, GMC Terrain, Chevy Equinox, Mustangs, Camaros and also a Hyundai Genesis that had all of 20 miles on the clock (i put it to 28 by the end of my day with it). I have only once had a problem with a car with them and that was a Chevy Equinox that had a tyre pressure sensor issue, but that was also probably due to the humidity in Wisconsin in the summer. They gladly swapped it out for me without a hassle. So fast forward to Saturday. Looking forward to what is on the line in LAX when I roll up and there is a lot of Full Size Sedans to choose from. There was the occasional Tahoe, Yukon and Arcadia, but mostly it was Impalas. Both the LT & the fancier LTZ version. I went with a California Plated LTZ (I thought I grabbed the Texas plated one, I was wrong). It was a pretty nice ride. Leather seats, power everything, even a GPS sat nav that was disabled. Pretty damn good looking to:
It handled the morning pretty well. After picking it up, I rolled back over to LAX and picked up Jason, then we headed off to Proud Bird for some spotting before heading over to the Ralph's (aka Safeway)/CVS before heading over to In n Out. Parked up at In N Out (after stopping to get some water at CVS) around 11am and it was in a prime spot, right out front. From that moment on, we didn't touch it for several hours. Here it is sitting on the street outside In n Out
After scoffing down a burger around 130pm in between plane arrivals. We were betting on what was going to happen with the All Blacks 777 due to come in. It normally goes to the South Runway but a lot of the heavies were coming north that day. It was all over the place craziness and Jason, John & I flipped a coin (well Lens Cap really) to see if we would stay or head off to Proud Bird to grab the photos. It ended up saying we had to move, so off to the car I went with the boys in tow. Since I was the one who knew where to go, I was driving. Get in the Impala (and this is a version with the touch to start button), push start and expect to start driving away. Nope! Car wouldn't start at all. It just would not turn over. Tried to get it to fully shut off (but of course being that there is no where to actually put the key it is a bit difficult) and I couldn't. No matter what I tried it just wouldn't kick over.
I told Jason & John to head off and I would catch up when I could. I called National and they said that they would have to come tow my car. No way to send someone to just come fix it, it would have to be towed back to the depot and replace it. The stupid thing is, I was barely a mile from the depot! I could freaking run there! (I did consider it). The kicker of the whole thing was that the National Car Rental staff told me it would take 90 minutes for a tow truck. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! An hour and a half to wait for a tow truck. When I could run to the damn depot and get a new car faster than that. I tried a few more times to get it started and it wouldn't work, so I succumbed to the pressure. I called National back and tried to work out if there was a better way for me to get a new car faster. They told me that since I was so close to the depot. If I went back with the keys, I could swap it out for a new car and they would send someone out to get it later. Awesome! Pulled up Uber and they had cars 3 minutes away! So as I requested the car and hurridly packed all my crap up, things went from bad to worse. The Uber driver called and told me that unless I was in the terminal, he wasn't going to come get me. Which was stupid because I was right next to the airport! So i cancelled the Uber order and re requested, got him again! Tried an UberX this time and the app kept locking up,so just as I was about to try restarting my phone, a friend came over. He saw me having problems and then right about that second the Tow Truck shows up. SAVED!
By this time I was way frustrated, had enough. Jason & John decided they would come get me and then another friend was calling me to find out where I was. It meant that I didn't really need a car now and after a total of 5 miles this morning in the new car, and by this stage, barely 3 more hours with it before I had to go back to the terminal, I just wanted to get rid of it.
More fun times back at the National lot as the Tow Truck driver had no idea where to take it, and to be honest, neither did I. It was just a comedy of errors! I was so over it, so by the time I got back to the lot, the first staff member who was getting me a receipt, well I said "I'd like a full refund please" To which I got "I can't process that, you will need to go upstairs. So off I went, but the lines were huge. REALLY huge. Wouldn't stand that, considering they would ask for a Duty Manager anyway so that's what I did. Pointed out into the parking lot to get the duty manager, to which he promptly gave me his card, took my rental receipt and details and said he would get it fixed.
So now the waiting game begins to see if this gets fixed and refunded. Will I stop booking with National? Nope probably not. Will I drive a Chevy Impala again, not unless I am forced to! I guess it happens to everyone eventually. In the end of the day I still got some pretty awesome photos, had a blast with my friends in LAX and came home to Seattle, sunburnt with 1200 photos and super tired. All in all a pretty decent day, Drama non withstanding.
|From Dorkfest 2014|
|From Dorkfest 2014|
|From Dorkfest 2014|
|From Dorkfest 2014|
Ok so I am sure many people as of late have heard about the recent increase in Seat Recline incidents. After the first such incident, I didn't want to really say anything. My friend David Parker Brown, put out his piece on the brouhaha that occured and I figured that was as good as it would get. Boy o Boy was I wrong! A bit of Back Story for those who have been living under a rock. Early last week a United flight from Newark to Denver was diverted to an onboard incident. The whole thing went down because a passenger was using a Knee Defender and the passenger in front of him did not like the fact that she could not recline. What is a knee defender? Well it is a device that attaches onto the Tray Table of your economy seat and stops the seat in front from reclining, as though it was broken. These devices are not illegal and the federal authorities couldn't care if you used it. However the airlines do not allow it, and because you are captive onboard that aircraft, what they say, goes. So how did this cause an altercation. Well two things happened, but the best way is to read this article about the piece from the AP. Pretty much this guy is now either the most hated man in America or he is the Bravest man in America, it all depends on who you ask. Now I am not going to weigh in on the whole seat recline issue. What I am going to do is tell people to CALM THE HELL DOWN! Ever since this incident occurred there have been 2 more diversions due to "onboard incidents" with reclining of a seat back being the reason. I mean seriously people! Can't we just calm the hell down please. If someone wants to recline, be polite about the situation, don't go getting yourself kicked off the aircraft. People are blaming other passengers, people are blaming the airlines. No one is directly at fault here apart from the people causing these incidents. You can't blame the person who designed the knee defender, you can't blame the airlines for reducing seat pitch etc. The only people you can blame is yourself. If you are going to be childish about an incident, and doing it bad enough to get a flight diverted, you have no one to blame but yourself. Your behavior is unacceptable and you are now making it hard for everyone onboard that flight. Why should the rest of the flight suffer because someone reclined! This is pretty much just me ranting for people to wisen the hell up and act like decent human beings. If you want to play the whole "recline blame game" go fly Ryanair, or Spirit
Last night I took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, where you dump a bucket filled with ice water all over your head. Why? Because it helps raise awareness for ALS which is a disease that affects a good friend of Heidi's family. I was challenged by Heidi's best friend Sylvia, and after I made my $35 donation (if you don't bucket dump, it should be a higher donation) Heidi & I both did the challenge, right in the middle of the apartment complex's driveway. Did I mention that we had just been to the gym on a hot summer afternoon? Ice Water over my head was so worth it (Heidi's aim though was a bit off). At the end of your challenge you can nominate 3 people to do the same thing. I had so many people I could have called out, but then so many of them seem to just not care. Everyone has their own opinion, and they are entitled to it, so I will leave it at that. I challenged my old trainer Andy, my good friend Yena & the Sales Manager at work, Jeff, who is someone who would do this and with his endless stream of people who look to him, he could make a big difference. But don't let it be said that I am one to step down from a challenge. I could spout on about how some people aren't doing it right, but in the grand scheme of things $35 tax deductible donation isn't a big deal, and hey I needed the cool down. Yena, Andy & Jeff it is your turn now.
I'm going to rant, so if you don't want to read, see you later! Just about every day late, in amongst all the usual "Get this credit card, get points" or "This airline is crap" blog posts or news articles, there seems to be a resounding trend around the world. People for some reason, Hate Uber. What is Uber you ask? Well if you have been living under a rock, they started off as a way to get a Black Car (or Limo for you Aussies out there) to you easily, without fuss, and no handling of cash or negotiating costs using a Smartphone App. They hit it off big time and have expanded worldwide and it's no longer just Black Cars, it's Taxi's, SUVs or even the occasional helicopter or Porsche. But it wasn't just the convenience of the service that made it popular. They were cheaper than a black car in some places (hell UberX is DC was cheaper than a cab!) and the fact that you can give instant ratings to your driver via the app was a great form of feedback. Then add on the fact that they were expanding so fast that there always seemed to be a driver around when you wanted it (sometimes as many as 5 or 6 in the one spot last time I used it) and you can't beat it. The cherry on top was that all the payments were handled via the app. You had a pre set credit card so no money changed hands at all. The minute the car trip was over, you had a receipt emailed to you. Amazing! But Taxi drivers don't like this new service, and it started off that some cities just went on and on about how it was cutting their jobs, or taking their money, yet I don't see any mass lay offs of taxi drivers, or mass issues of not being able to find a cab, there will always be a taxi driver somewhere. However it has gotten to the point that taxi drivers are now protesting the service? What did Uber do, that you should have done a long time ago Taxi service? I am sure taxi companies are still making money, otherwise how would they still exist. For someone like me who doesn't often carry cash, and the likelihood of getting in a cab that accepts a card when you are not sure can take one is slim. Uber is great! I can go anywhere in the world, whip out my phone (pending i have data of course) and have a trip that i don't have to worry about cash or currency or anything sounds pretty awesome to me. I don't really see the point to all the mass protesting world wide, can't the two services just get along. Surely this is a good thing for everyone in the fact that those who may have walked or caught the bus or even drove, can now do something that gets money to other people, gets them in jobs (and word is the Uber drivers are paid pretty well). Really all I can say is that if you haven't tried Uber yet, you should give them a try.
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you know that I complain a lot in the morning or evenings. Generally this disdain & unhappiness is generally pushed in one direction, Community Transit. Who are they? They run the bus services from Everett to Bellevue & in my general area. They are heavily trafficked, but extremely lax at times. They also have to deal with the 405 which is the worst Highway known to man kind. So this week is my final week of commuting southbound on the 405 and I am happy about it too. Saturday I start the moving process as I pack up & head south to my new home in Renton (will post more next week on the new place). I can't wait to get rid of dealing with Community Transit, the 405 Southbound in the morning, the badly planned SR522 interchange and continuous road works, but most of all I am looking forward to a single bus commute. No more hurry up & wait, no more standing around, hoping a bus will connect properly (they don't), no more giant Park & ride hassles. I will be sad to see some of the eye candy dissappear (the Russian looking girl, Miss Hooker Heals, and the infamous blonde with the ring) but maybe the new bus will bring new things. I know it bring me one thing, less stressful commutes!
It is Anzac Day (well yesterday was technically but it just turned the 25th here in the USA) and it is a day of remembrance for Australian's & New Zealender's. For my American friends, Anzac Day commemorates the day that the Australian & New Zealand Army Corp (hence ANZAC) landed on a beach in Turkey. When they hit the shores at Galipoli it was the start of an attrocious battle, one that saw many men loose their life. That battle was 99 years ago in 1915 during World War 1. We take the day to look back on those that have served and fallen and remember them, pay tribute to them and also thank those who currently serve. I guess you could say it is our version of Memorial Day (public holiday and all). For me personally it holds a little bit more. My Grandfather (Charles Stewart, on my mother's side) went to fight in World War 2. He was part of the 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion and along with his 2 other brothers (Jim & Gordon) all three of them went off to war. They fought in Africa at the 2nd battle of Alamein and also spent time in Gaza, Palestine & Egypt. After returning from Africa they moved up to Borneo and Papua New Guinea (sadly for a time we had thought they had been on the Kokoda Track, but when I got a copy of his pay book we found that he landed in Lae instead). As part of the Australian 9th Division they fought well and did what they had to do to protect our countries interests. So at a time when I would prefer to be back in Australia, spending time with my family and remembering those who have sacrificed so much for us, I want to say a deep and heartfelt thank you to all those who still currently serve. Because without you, our countries would not be the way they are now. So no matter where you are, take a few moments to think about those who sacrificed their lives for us. Lest We Forget
It has been a while since a good rant, so while I don my fire retardant suit, you can move on if you so desire... and Begin! This last week has been a little bit different in the Frequent Flyer (FF) world. Delta decided to change their points program and low and behold everyone in the known world has made comments about this. I can not believe just how many people have continuously talked about this change. I have seen 2-3 posts a day from some online blogs and it is just getting a little bit much. Add on the fact that the changes made it to the mass media as well, it has been a long week of the same things over and over again.... *sigh* So while constantly over and over again I have read the same things (well not so much reading as skimming then deleting from my RSS feed) about Delta's changes I see almost the same thing in some of these blogs. Numerous credit card links. Links to Delta's cards, links to unrelated airlines cards, just more and more credit card links. I am starting to wonder what the main point for some of the blogs I read. Are they there to inform people about changes in the FF world or are they there now to just promote credit card after credit card after credit card. This week alone I think i have seen at least 10-15 different blog posts mentioning Chase and god knows how many other cards over how many blogs that I don't read. I know that all the credit card links give them referral credits (and I will also admit that I have used some of them to get the points that I have earned so they should thank me for that) but at some point it just becomes pure saturation. I feel like I am at that point already, when do i just stop reading those blogs that constantly repeat the same things over and over again? Should I just give up now or wait till all this stuff is over with and things return to normal? Who knows! /Rant over