Today is my last day as an unemployed bum, and I am going to enjoy it. Starting tomorrow afternoon I go back to work (albeit just a few hours for orientation) and then on Monday it is into the thick of it with a full on training program.

I am still not going to say who I am working for but the job is going to help pay bills, which is the main thing. I am still out there looking for other jobs as well as this is not something I want to do long term,i don’t think my body would handle it to well. The training I have been doing in the gym has helped to some extent, but I doubt it will be enough.

While it has been nice waking up at 0730 every morning and slowly rolling out of bed, it has been getting to me a lot this week. I feel lazy and useless at times, and that just isn’t something I want to deal with. So I continue to sit & wait for Friday to roll around.

Days like today help though as the weather is nice & I can get out and get photos when I can (although Boeing isn’t playing ball this morning as I have waited almost two hours for this flight to depart).  It helps me feel like I have stuff to do, but when I have a job to go to i feel like I am contributing more to the relationship.

So for now u enjoy the sunshine & the planes doing touch & go’s at Renton Airport. Life can’t be all that bad right?

So some of you have seen that I have a conditional job approval, the job is something that I don’t really want to do long term, but till something better comes along, it will fill the hole and hey, it pays. The job requires me working out doors with some good upper body strength (which should give people some idea as to what I am doing) and sadly, that is something I haven’t paid much attention to for a while. All I have been doing the last year or more has been running or bike, one or the other, all cardio all the time! I had to do a physical abilities test for the job (hence conditional approval) and while I smashed through a lot of the cardio part of it with ease, the strength testing was not that great.

The funny part of the story is that the Physical Therapist (PT) giving me the test said that I need to focus on my upper body training for the next few weeks before the job starts, so that the first few days are not going to be a problem. What he didn’t know is that for a good 6 months or more, Heidi has been telling me the same thing. Right then I was thinking “probably should have listened to my wife (she wasn’t my wife at the time but you know how that goes) and done what she said”. The PT thought that was a good laugh and kept going with the test. Telling me what I need to focus on over the next couple of weeks.

So I wake up this morning, after a night of helping to build IKEA furniture (and video games) and my body was fighting me big time. Just after the test yesterday my body was aching, telling me I had done bad things. Sucks to be my body though because it is time to start doing some weights. I pushed it through for about 45 minutes (wanted to do an hour but that wasn’t going to happen first day out). I guess I will have to keep pushing through it, because I tell you what, it may hurt, but it has to be done!

Here is to a new lot of muscles!

I walked away from work today feeling very very different.  In some ways I was ecstatic, but in others kind of sad.  The last 12 months have not been easy for me.  I have had a very tumultuous time on the personal side.  Heidi has been there through all of it by my side and I know that she is happy the last 12 months are over.  I won’t go into too much depth online but let’s just say that today was a day that some people have wanted for a while.

I walked out of the DUA office today, never to return.  As of this moment I am currently unemployed, something I have not been for quite some time.  When I left Australia just under 3 years ago, I had a plan, I had a goal to work in the USA for a couple of years and return home.  That obviously has changed, and for the better of course.  But although the last few months at work have not been easy, they had to be done.  I don’t hold bad feelings towards my old work, but there was a lot of negativity for a while.  But they helped me get here over to the USA and without them I never would have met the love of my life, I wouldn’t be married.

So right now as I sit here in front of my pc on a Friday night, for the first time in 3 years I have no job to go to on Monday, who knows what the future will bring.  I need to start applying for jobs and get some focus in my life, but either way, there is a future ahead.  I just need to work out what that is.

So most of you know what i do for work, so do a lot of the people I converse with on twitter. So when a friend on twitter asks me to make a booking for them, I am sure not going to say no to some extra dollars (especially when its travelling in my highest ever month.. close to half a mil in sales). However it’s what happened after the booking that was a bit different.

In the past in Australia, I used to help people fix their bookings all the time, conversing by phone, email etc while someone is on holiday was never an issue. However this time, things were a little different. I spent some time working with this friend to fix some problems on the booking via twitter. This being the first time that has happened meant that everything was just different for me. I had never before fixed a booking just by using twitter. Definitely a unique experience trying to cram a conversation into 140 characters at a time. I could have emailed but things would not have been as fast (especially when someone is on the other side of the world and looking at a substantial time difference).

Seeing a message like “DM me when you get into the office” can be ominous but during the whole time, this friend was nothing but nice and a total pleasure to deal with. Much better than some of the people I have dealt with in the past fixing up issues (I still remember being yelled at by a guy back in Australia because one tiny thing went wrong).

Twitter is just another form of communication these days and I know that a few hotels are starting to use it as a tool to make bookings. I have made appointments via twitter, restaurant reservations as well. Maybe sometime in the future I will do plenty of other business via twitter as well. At the moment it becomes my go to weapon in the fight against Airline Seat assignments when people want things others can’t achieve. Maybe it will lead to more?

Ok well a lot of you know that I am here in the USA on a work visa, well that visa is fast approaching it’s end. For the last 6 months I paniced and worried if I was going to be sponsored again and then when I was told it was all good, it was then hoping to get the visa appointment in time before it expired.

Good News! My Visa appointment is on Tuesday!! so the day after Aviation Geek Fest finishes I am driving north to Canada for a few days while I get my Visa renewed!

YAYAYAYA for 2 more years!

I remember an old Tim Tams ad from back in the day that had a never ending pack of Tim Tams. I know it is not real & I don’t really want one, but it is like my work life right now.

I have been working super hard the last few months, even more so the last 6 weeks. There has been maybe 2 days so far this year I have left work on time. Most days I am in the office at least 30 minutes early, and leaving around 615 or later. I am working from home a lot on weekends and I am in my emails at the start of each day, before I leave to go to work.

I probably look like a workaholic right now, I haven’t had a day off in months (even on weekends and time off over Christmas I worked) and my last real vacation was OshKosh in July. Right now I don’t know when or where my next break will be because I just can’t afford to take the break.

Sure someone could come in and handle stuff while I am out, but the problem is that stuff would just not get done. The last few weeks it has been a constant stream and the next two months look to be insanely busy, so much so I have no idea how I will cope (though the money will help) but I have to make it work, keep on track.

Life has to fit in there somewhere right? I have goals to work on & achieve, a life to live, a country to explore, friends to see & planes to photograph. Though all my work seems never ending, I need to somehow make that balance between work and life. Where do I draw that line? I have no clue!

It has been a busy week back at work so not much to say really. Long hours, stress & the usual commute hassles really means life is back to normal.

I have already started working on one of my goals for the year but will keep details under my hat for the moment. I did get a fss comments and emails about one of the goals and all I will say is I don’t want to be a Batchelor forever.

Might have an interesting tale soon about dealing with the US health insurance system, last time was a hassle, could be happening again. Will wait & see.

Pretty much life is back to boring normality. YAY?

I ran through my fun memories of the first half of 2013 in this post and here are the last half:

July

In July I had a chance to go tripping in summer with my friends Shawna & Dan as they showed me a little bit of their home. I had a blast as we went Cherry picking and I got to see parts of Washington I had not seen. I got to use the Truck for its intended purpose of hauling stuff around. I Also had another dream fulfilled when I got to step foot in OshKosh for the EAA Airventure.

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From AirVenture 2013

August

In August while I was in OshKosh I got the chance to accompany a group of Vietnam Veterans on an Honor Flight to Washington DC. Words can not express exactly how amazing this day was and how many memories I have from it. Being the month of my Birthday there was lots of celebrations and a few friends came to visit. Another memorable experience was getting to see my parents as they were stopping in Vancouver for a brief visit. It was a great weekend (though only brief) and getting to spend more than 3 hours with my family was a memory I will not forget.

From EAA Honor Flight
From EAA Honor Flight
From Fiona's Visit
From Fiona's Visit
From Family Visit to Vancouver
From Family Visit to Vancouver
From Family Visit to Vancouver
From Family Visit to Vancouver

September

September saw my friend Yena come over to visit, (though she was here for the last couple of days of August as well but he, it counts) and getting to spend Labor Day weekend with a great friend and showing her my new home town and having some old school shenanigans like old times was great (like licking a GE90 to win a $20 bet). A memory I will not soon forget. September was also the month I had trained long and hard for. I competed in my first Triathlon, a Super Sprint distance event in Woodinville for the “Cottage Lake Tri” and I did so much better than I expected.

From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

October

Work got really busy towards the end of September but for most of October I actually spent my time in New Zealand, a good portion of the month actually. I was down there for training and the AOT Megafamil. I probably had what I think was my best famil ever and I enjoyed every minute of it. I met some amazing people, had a blast of a time and truly made friends who I hope to keep in touch with for quite some time. I also did some pretty stupid things, like Jump off a building or go on a giant canyon swing (without the canyon though) all to combat a fear. After getting back from New Zealand I jetted back east for a couple of days to Run my 2nd 10K race ever. I ran the Marine Corp Marathon 10K, something I had wanted to do for quite some time. If and when I ever get up to a full marathon, I want that race to be there as it felt like one of most amazing events I have seen.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From Marine Corp Marathon 10K
From Marine Corp Marathon 10K

November & December

November was a tough month, No real travel, nothing happening really. There was thanksgiving which I spent at home but it was all work. I needed to get back to work after spending so much time off. I did manage to skip out to Kansas City for the start of December for my $100 challenge which I won and then the snowpocalypse happened as well towards the end of month. A pretty cool thing to experience for the second time in a year

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

It has been a year of ups and downs, both good and bad, but I have had a blast and have some memories that will last a life time. To my friends old & new who I have shared moments with this year, Thank you for making this year truly special.

Introduction
Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

                                                                                                                                                                      

After making my way over to T2 on the AirTrain and walking down through to the Virgin America check in, I was tired and just wanted to get home really. What I wasn’t really in for was the hassle that I was about to get at check in. Since I was on a seperate ticket for the Virgin America flight and needing to check a bag (although the company would be reimbursing me for that anyway), I was going to try for a Main Cabin Select upgrade as I was hoping to use that cost for a bit of a meal onboard. Online it wouldn’t let me do it, and it wouldn’t let me assign seats either so I had to wait till check in.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

I arrived at the premium desk and had to wait… and wait while the staff chatted amongst themselves and when she waved me forward, she continued to chat and pretty much ignored me. The staff member was extremely unhelpful during my check in process and after some back and forth over a bag weight that was 1-2lbs over the standard weight, and telling me that she would not allow my bag to fly at all, even without the cost of paying for overweight baggage, she just refused to let it fly outright. Then once I said I wanted to upgrade to MCS amazingly I was able to take my bag, then when she told me the price which was Double the price it should’ve been, I pushed back and was rudely told “pay it or your bags not going to go for that price and you’re going to have a middle seat” (though not in those exact words of course). I forked over my credit card, thought about how much I could claim back from work for the meal as well the bag and just figured I would make a complaint to Virgin America over it (probably won’t though).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

I cleared security pretty quickly as the lines were short and once through met up with my co worker who wasn’t to far behind and we kind of found a few places to set up during the couple of hours we had in SFO. I had a few things on my mind, Coffee, Wifi, clearing work emails. So that is pretty much what I did, nothing really that exciting. I settled in for the time by the gate at a power point and it just kind of sped by. I had checked to see if I could score an exit row seat as well instead of the row 3 so that i could get to do some stuff for as long as possible on the flight.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Time flew by, my coworker joined me by the gate and then as boarding was called, she disappeared to the bathroom, leaving me to mind the stuff till she returned.

Virgin America – VX744
San Francisco to Seattle Tacoma
1430-1635
Airbus A320 (N840VA)
Main Cabin Select – Seat 10A

Boarding: 1350 (Gate 50)
Push Back: 1430
Take Off Roll: 1455 (Runway 01R)
Top of Descent: 1604
Touch Down: 1628 (Runway 16R)
Shut Down:1631 (Gate B11)

Once my co-worker returned they were calling group B by that stage so had well and truly missed my boarding group and I headed over to get onboard and store my stuff since I would not have much chance later on as people would push their way on anyway. I got onboard and settled into my window exit row and boarding slowly happened around me. It was weird to watch them all board and take their seats while I watched tv and just tried to relax. We were ready early but obviously being a slot controlled airport we had to wait for our turn before we could push back.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

We pushed back dead on time and as we were towed away from T2 and towards the power up point, there was a lovely long line forming for the active departure runways, Dual take offs were happening on 1L & 1R with the occasional racing take off, which was pretty cool to watch. By the time we waited for our turn (almost 25 mins since push back) we finally took off on the right side, swung to the right then back to the left to climb out over Oakland, north towards Seattle.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

As we climbed out I hit up the order screen to set up some lunch, I was a little dissapointed to see the fresher items were not on offer but hey, its VX, they don’t make any sense at any time. I ordered some lunch (Protein Meal and some nuts) and figured I would just settle in to watch some tv while we cruised north. Flight time today of 90 minutes and once we were at cruise altitude the WiFi was switched on, the crew set about to work, and I just zoned out. Next thing I know my lunch is being delivered and I am chowing down as we fly North. I didn’t even realize what was going on till we started to get towards the top end of Oregon. I kind of wish the flight had been faster so I could get home sooner. At least with a coworker once I hit the ground I could use the HOV lane ;)

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Descent was announced and I packed up my stuff, getting myself sorted. It was a pretty non eventful flight and the descent was about the same, easy, quick and without a hassle. We tracked north past the city and then did a nice turn above the clouds over the city (thank you mapping function) and with a final shot of Mt Rainier before we descended below the clouds (now I know I am really home) we ducked under into the grey below. Tracking for a 16R arrival, the airport looked quiet and it was, because minutes after we were on the ground, we pulled up at the gate.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Disembarkation was relatively quick and once in the terminal, I waited around for my co-worker and then we headed towards baggage claim, the truck and home! 2 hours later I was at home, a world away from where I began the day, but almost 2 weeks after leaving, I was happy to have my own bed!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island

Introduction
Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

                                                                                                                                                                      

Friday 11th October 2013

I hear an alarm going off somewhere in my room, could it really be time to get up again? *sigh* No gym this morning as I was totally out of it and had planned on getting to one when I get to Christchurch, so this morning was an expedited routine of shower, repack, and out the door. All completed in less than 30 minutes (well apart from the out the door part, I sat around watching the news till I was set to go and meet my coworkers).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

In the lobby while I waited, logged into the free internet provided and cleared out some of my emails and since no benefits like free wifi or even water were offered and the staff were totally indifferent about anything and didn’t seem to care, I just did what I needed to do. When my coworkers joined me, I logged out and we headed towards the domestic terminal. My bag was in walking mode (ie strain my arms not my shoulders) and the 750m walk from the International Terminal to the Domestic began.

I wasn’t going to wait for the shuttle as I always tell my clients it is easy to walk it and I wanted to prove to myself I was giving the right advice. It was definitely correct as the walk was flat, not at all complicated and done with 7 minutes (at Mal pace that is). When we got to the terminal I checked in at the Premium desk, was moved to a lovely window seat up the front and that is that.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Air NZ domestic is a pretty simple affair, especially at check in. For years now they have had the self check in for everything including bag tagging and even premium guests with Star Gold have to do that part yourself (though the staff will hand you your bag tag to put on yourself). No real weighing of my bag or even a second look. hah! My coworkers had not really understood the process and they joined the every increasing line of people who probably also didn’t figure it out. But hey, isn’t that what learning is all about?

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

After everyone had their boarding passes and their bags were dropped off to be checked, plans were put in place. I offered to guest one of them into the Koru Club for breakfast or coffee and explained that once they went through security, that was it, there was nothing on the other side, which is sadly true. But security should take all of 5 seconds so you cross at the very last second right before boarding (or even as they call it). Neither of them chose to join me as I just wanted 2 things, WiFi and coffee. I wanted to get a couple of emails responded to asap and check in with work to let them know we are safe and sound.

Security was effortless and I still had my shoes on, my belt on, my jacket on as well. I felt like a human being rather than someone who was being treated like crap by the TSA. My laptop did have to come out but i mean that was it! Surely that can be done everywhere right? Once through security, flicked up to the gate to take a shot of the aircraft and grab the registration and then to the Koru club. I noticed an Air NZ 320 with sharklets at one the gates, but the gate location blocked any photo opportunity which was crap. To the lounge it is!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The Domestic Koru Club in Auckland was pretty well stocked and the breakfast offerings were more than ample, but I didn’t partake. I grabbed a banana for later, a WiFi code, and some liquids (coffee & water). I had barely any time in the lounge to get what I needed done but I did it. A couple of things I noticed in the lounge that was excellent was you could board directly to the regional aircraft straight from the lounge and that they had take away coffee available. Something I did not realize till I was literally about to leave the lounge.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Air New Zealand – NZ507
Auckland to Christchurch
0610-0725
Boeing 737-300 (ZK-NGG)
Economy Class – Seat 4A

Boarding: 0545 (Gate 30)
Push Back: 0608
Take Off Roll: 0616 (Runway 23L)
Top Of Descent: 0709
Touch Down: 0730 (Runway 02)
Shut Down: 0733 (Gate 16)

Boarding was called earlier than advised and they had called the Wellington flight about 5 minutes before ours and within 5-10 minutes of that announcement they were threatening boarding closure within 4 minutes. So I knew I wouldn’t have much time, but my priorities were set that morning. COFFEE! Coffee always comes first right? With a double long black in hand I headed to the gate where it looked like boarding was already over as there was no one around and when I stepped onboard my coworkers were already in. Craziness!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

I got all my stuff onboard and stowed and passed on a message to one of my coworkers and settled into my seat for departure. Plenty of legroom up in Row 4 and I wonder if that is just a Space+ seat for preferred pax or if it is normal. My original seat was the exit row so I guess I would not really know. It was raining (slightly) and dark outside so photos were practically useless and it wasn’t all that long before we were closed down and pushing back for an early departure (2 minutes early).

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Push back had to be the world’s longest as we just kept going further and further back, way more than would usually be the case. It was a little bit of a wait to get taxi clearance and then we were headed for the active runway, the same as we arrived on the night before. Passing a Jetconnect 738 being towed to the international, and wishing it was light enough to get a photo, I kind of wished that it was daylight, but can’t have everything right. We were the only one in line as the Wellington flight was already on its way and the Jetstar flight ahead of us, was already powering out before we touched the taxiway. Next thing I know we are turning onto 23L, holding for a brief few seconds while the First Officer (who was handling today’s flight) gave her same gas and down the runway we went, into the morning sky.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Climbing out through clouds and darkness, we cleared above the clouds to sunlight and sunshine and my brain could not understand anything, but then I was barely a functioning human at this point. I was 3 coffees in but after 4 hours sleep in 2 days, who is functioning (I need a gym session to get me back on track). As we climbed out the Seat belt sign stayed on for a bit for “turbulence” but if you want to call those bumps turbulence you can but it was more like hitting a speed bump occasionally over a 10 minute period.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

Once electronics were ok’d I pulled out the laptop and finished off some notes and stuff from the last few days and service shortly began in the Cabin. The mornings choice was Tea, Coffee or Water and Cookie or Muffin. Give you one guess what I had. Yep the cookie! Well not really, I took the cookie to save for later as an emergency snack as now it was time to get back on track eating wise. Back to my usual self, no more flight day exceptions. With my 4th coffee of the morning poured infront of me (french press, not instant) I was a happy man.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

We cruised along above the clouds without anything happening and before we knew it, we were starting descent into a cold Christchurch. Mind you it was still early in the morning as we descended and the temperature was a mere 5C. Electronics off, and seats to upright position please. Descent was relatively quick and although most of the cloud was up high, once below the layer the views were pretty outstanding. The area is extremely flat around Christchurch but I guess that is why they call it the “Canterbury Plains”.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As we followed in the Jetstar flight which had taken off ahead of us from Auckland it was all flooding back into me (this wasn’t my first time to this airport and funnily enough it wasn’t my first flight on that exact aircraft). What I really wanted to see was just how much the airport had changed since I was there back in 2010. Well to be honest what I saw when we finally touched down I did not expect. There wasn’t much on the Deep Freeze ramp just a C17 and a C130 but the new domestic terminal gates looked immaculate.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

The last time I was there the airport was a bit of a construction site, well not any longer! It looked amazingly good and just so well done. The clean lines from the outside must definitely make for an impressive sight on the inside. We pulled up to the gate and before the engines had even shut down the seat belt sign was off and people were up and out of their seats ready to get moving. It didn’t seem like we were going to have to wait long as moments later the airbridge was connected.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

We were let loose into an amazingly modern terminal and it was a thousand fold difference from what I had seen when I was previously there. They had put quite a bit of money into this airport and it has definately been worth every cent. I had not stopped moving since being off the aircraft and it was only a short distance from the gate to the escalators down to baggage claim, as we walked down to it, our bags popped out and within the first 6 bags all 3 of ours were out. Aircraft to bags in hand to shuttle at the door in less than 6 minutes! Holy crap that is fast!

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island

As we drove away in the shuttle, my brain was firmly on the prize ahead of me. A workout and some time on the ground after a truly epic journey to the other side of the world.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island