Saturday, February 28, 2009

Missy Higgins, et al.

LENKA
+
JUSTIN NOZUKA
+
MISSY HIGGINS
=
The most perfectly balanced and enjoyable 3-act concert lineup I've ever experienced

Last night, Taylor and I went to ATL Center Stage to see a concert I've been anticipating for months. I have been an avid fan of Missy Higgins since 2005, when she opened for Anna Nalick and Howie Day at SLC's Capital Theater. I was floored by her raw emotional songs and refined musicianship. I ran to the merch table after her performance to get a copy of "The Sound of White," where she chatted with me for a few minutes. Her cheeky Aussie charm won me over, and I have been singing her praises for 4 years. She usually tours in Europe and Australia, so I've been impatiently waiting for a chance to see her again. That night was last night.

I was so excited that tickets were so affordable. I've spent more than I could ever be honest about in my lifetime on concert tickets, and I've gotten used to swallowing my budget on $70/ea tickets. When I saw that I could see one of my favorite artists in an intimate venue,with my husband, for only $40 total...I squealed with delight as I pulled out my credit card. As a bonus, she was also performing with Justin Nozuka, who is an artist I got hooked on while living in Michigan.

Lenka, another Aussie, opened the show. Her music is upbeat and quirky, and her band was just as fun to watch as she was. I was suprised that I'd never heard of her, considering I'm a fan of so many artists in her genre. I downloaded her album as soon as I got home with an iTunes gift card I got at Christmas. Justin was even more bluesy and soulful live than his album. He did a smashing cover of "Ain't No Sunshine," one of my favorite songs of all time. He did a completely acoustic version of a song written for his mother, and it stole the show. I could have left the venue a happy girl, just with those two performances.

But the highlight of the night was Missy. She starkly started the show with "Nightminds," and performed and even balance of songs from both "The Sound of White" and "On a Clear Night." The crowd of just over 1000 was so mellow and respectfully quiet, which is an oddity in live music venues. The applause after every song was resounding, and Missy commented that it's so rare that she's not distracted by off-pitch fan singing or hyperactive screaming. The funniest part of the night was when she was telling the story behind the song "The Sound of White," and someone yelled out that they loved her cleavage....which was even more funny since she probably can barely fill out a training bra. She babbled on her story, with cleavage-related impromptu imbellishments, and had the whole crowd in stitches. I wish my camera had taken better video of it, because it was one of those "you had to be there" moments.

If you like Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, Rachael Yamagata, Yael Naim, Butterfly Boucher, Frente!, or Bjork, you'll like Lenka and Missy Higgins. If you like Jason Mraz, Marc Broussard, Ray LaMontagne, John Mayer, Howie Day, or Matt Nathanson, you'll like Justin Nozuka.








Friday, February 27, 2009

Multi-state Tax Headache!

Anyone else out there filing taxes in multiple states? Anyone going crazy with it?

Taylor lived in MI Oct 2007-Oct 2008, but all taxes for 2008 were calculated and paid for CA (where he was living when he was hired by his airline in late 2007) Despite numerous requests, his airline refused to let him update his address of record until TWO WEEKS AGO. We didn't think it was too big of a problem at first because his parents own the house we lived in (in CA) and always forwarded our mail. Then we realized that it was a tax issue also...but too late. His payroll department say the funds have already been transmitted to CA, and they can't recall the funds. Unfortunately, when we enter that we were a non-resident all year, all the software can deduce is that we are military, and it just gets uglier from there.

I lived in MI from Jan 2008-Dec 2008, but TaxAct won't recognize my MI employment because we now live in GA. Even though my W2 has a MI address and the W2 has a MI employer ID number...it still calculates it as Georgia income. And we didn't live in GA until Dec 31, 2008. Right now it shows that we'll owe over $1700 in state taxes for states we didn't even live in!

I think it's time for professional help.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NKOTB ticket, anyone?


A few months ago, I bought an extra ticket to the New Kids on the Block concert on March 17, 2009 in Greenville, SC. The friend I hoped would join me has decided not to go. It's a GREAT seat...first row balcony. I'm selling it for $50. My plan is to drive to Greenville from Atlanta after work, and caffienate myself to drive back the same night (it's about a 2 hour drive). If you're interested, comment or email me at cuteculturechick@gmail.com .

If you're skeptical about going, it's worth going. I took Rosie in Detroit back in October, and they put on a PHENOMENAL show (and this is coming from a girl whose been to dozens of big concerts) When they announced the next leg of their tour, Rosie begged me to take her. She's paying for her own ticket this time (the running tally of what he's earned is posted on my fridge). These guys can sing and dance. Seriously. I'd much rather go with a friend than Craigslist it.

Bad Taste in my Mouth

We have been having a persistent ANT problem since we moved to Atlanta. Ants on the walls, ants in the toilet bowl, ants in our beds, ants on the windows. Our landlord has been working with the condo association to schedule a pest control company to come in, but it hasn't happened yet. We've been using our aerosol cans of ant killer on a daily basis.

Their favorite spot (other than obvious food sources) is my bathroom counter. Especially my toothpaste and Waterpik machine. Last night when Taylor was spraying, I think he forgot to move my toothbrush. When I went to brush this morning, I tasted this VILE chemical taste. I immediately swished my mouth with mouthwash and threw out my toothbrush.

I bought a new toothbrush on my lunch break.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First Officer Jeffrey Skiles: Right Seat Hero

As the wife of a First Officer pilot, I've felt some disappointment about the reduced media bravado for First Officer Jeffrey Skiles. His role in the successful splash landing on the Hudson was just as vital as Captain Sully's. A CA/FO relationship must be a well-oiled machine, as any pilot will tell you. "Pilot flying" and "pilot navigating" responsibilities are typically reversed on every leg of a trip. As I was looking for pictures to add to this posting, there were very few picture of Skiles alone. Most were taken with Sully, or with the flight crew.
I bring this up not to diminish the importance of a well-functioning flight crew, INCLUDING flight attendants. I wholeheartedly acknowledge the efforts of US Airways 1549 flight attendants Donna Dent, Sheila Dail and Doreen Welsh. They brilliantly followed the safety procedures to assist the 150 passengers to safety. My heart goes out to flight attendants in general, who must deal with unruly passengers and threatening situations in a big metal cylinder day after day.
I'm really glad that the media coverage post-accident has included the whole flight crew, but a little ticked off that the "FO got the shaft"(in the brilliant words of one of my FO friend). Yesterday, Skiles gave an excellent speech at the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation, U.S. House of Representatives. Other than TV stations cutting Skiles off after Sully completed his remarks, the address in general was fantastic. Skiles echoed Sully in many of the issues found in US aviation. I will now quote part of his address.

Like each and every one of my fellow professional airline pilots and flight attendants, I realize that flying a commercial airliner is a tremendous responsibility. The aftermath of this incident has brought forth in me a renewed understanding that this is a job for experienced professionals. Being an airline flight crewmember, whether pilot or flight attendant, is a serious job for serious people, and I am tremendously proud to count myself among their number. The dedication, seriousness and professionalism with which we in the aviation community approach our responsibilities can be credited for the dramatic improvement of our national aviation safety record.

The training, procedures and tenets of cockpit resource management (CRM) developed throughout the airline industry over the last 15 years, played a significant role on January 15th. Training departments industry wide are ceaselessly striving to identify future problems and develop procedures to combat them before they occur. A functional self-disclosure safety program is a valuable tool to identify and track errors. Mutually agreeable solutions to make these programs available are in the traveling public’s interest. We must work tirelessly to maintain an unrivaled commitment to safety and professionalism. However, another component of the positive result was the vast experience of the cockpit AND cabin crew.

Sully and I have over 70 years of experience and 40,000 flying hours between us. New pilots in the jet aircraft of our affiliate airlines have 300 hours. When I began at US-Airways, the Company required several thousand hours just to gain an interview for a pilot position. It is certainly in the interest of the traveling public to have experienced crews in the cockpit.

Along with Captain Sullenberger, I have concerns for the future of the Airline Pilot Profession. Experienced crews in the cockpit eventually will be a thing of the past. What this country has experienced economically in the last 8 months, we have experienced in our industry for the last 8 years, since 9-11. In the wake of these 8 years of financial turmoil, bankruptcies, layoffs, and revolving door management teams, airline piloting careers have been shattered. I personally earn half of what I once earned, AND I have lost my retirement to a PBGC promise that will pay pennies on the dollar. Many pilots like Captain Sullenberger and myself have had to split their focus from the Airline Piloting Profession and develop alternative businesses or careers. I myself am a general contractor. For the last 6 years, I have worked 7 days a week between my two jobs just to maintain a middle class standard of living.

The more than thirty thousand people who work at US Airways are proud of the work they do each day, and of their accomplishments. To many of us, the near total devaluation of our professions by our management is heartfelt. In the last several years the only constant I see is the ever increasing compensation levels of our management.

When I started in this industry there were aviation dynasties. Entire families would be employed in aviation as pilots, flight attendants, mechanics or agents. An aviation career was something people aspired to their entire childhood, as I did. Now I know of NO ONE who encourages their children to enter the airline industry.

From our perspective, it is clear that the current state of the management/ labor negotiation process is broken. Negotiations drag out for years in stagnation with little clarity for those of us who have spent our entire lives training to be on the front lines of safety for the American flying public. We aren’t asking for special privileges, but for a level playing field inside the NMB negotiating process. There is not a balance in the negotiating process and the state of the airline piloting profession is proof.

I would respectfully urge members of this subcommittee to work with other relevant committees to promote better balance between airline management and airline employees, especially in the area of creating an environment for efficient and effective negotiations inside the National Mediation Board process, thereby eliminating years of negotiating stagnation. I believe the reforms being considered by the House Judiciary committee can lead to more cooperation and less confrontation. This in turn would certainly help to rebuild an environment that will allow us to concentrate on the safety of the traveling public.

Our colleagues in this industry have rallied around our incident. While Captain Sullenberger and I generally prefer to land at airports, we are proud that the Hudson River landing displayed what well trained, professional pilots and flight attendants can do when faced with tremendous adversity. We are all very gratified and moved that our colleagues in the flying industry have seen this incident as a positive reflection of themselves and our shared profession.

We must ensure that America’s proud aviation traditions of transporting our citizens with safety and security does not fall victim to the immense challenges we face. In this, Congress has a role to play. We hope that you will take seriously the challenges that aviation professional’s face by helping us to level the playing field, and working with us to protect the airline pilot profession.

We ask that congress be a partner to the men and woman who make up the professionals who move America every day, as well as the companies who employ us. Working together we can ensure that the flight crews of the future will be the best and the brightest, and will have the experience and training necessary to ensure safe air travel to each and every passenger they carry.

Amen, brother.

Wise Words from Sully

Oops! Wrong Sully!

There we go! US Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger

Yesterday, Chesley Sullenberger, First Officer Jeffrey B. Skiles, and air traffic controller Patrick Harten received a standing ovation on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009, prior to testifying before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation, U.S. House of Representatives. In addition to further details of the emegency landing on the Hudson last month, he gave a grim but realistic explanation of the current aviation industry. Quoting his remarks:

I am not only proud of my crew, I am proud of my profession. Flying has been my life-long passion. I count myself fortunate to have spent my life in the profession I love, with colleagues whom I respect and admire. But, honorable Representatives, while I love my profession, I do not like what has happened to it. I would not be doing my duty if I did not report to you that I am deeply worried about its future.

Americans have been experiencing huge economic difficulties in recent months – but airline employees have been experiencing those challenges, and more, for the last 8 years! We have been hit by an economic tsunami. September 11, bankruptcies, fluctuating fuel prices, mergers, loss of pensions and revolving door management teams who have used airline employees as an ATM have left the people who work for airlines in the United States with extreme economic difficulties.

It is an incredible testament to the collective character, professionalism and dedication of my colleagues in the industry that they are still able to function at such a high level. It is my personal experience that my decision to remain in the profession I love has come at a great financial cost to me and my family. My pay has been cut 40%, my pension, like most airline pensions, has been terminated and replaced by a PBGC guarantee worth only pennies on the dollar

While airline pilots are by no means alone in our financial struggles – and I want to acknowledge how difficult it is for everyone right now – it is important to underscore that the terms of our employment have changed dramatically from when I began my career, leading to an untenable financial situation for pilots and their families. When my company offered pilots who had been laid off the chance to return to work, 60% refused. Members, I attempt to speak accurately and plainly, so please do not think I exaggerate when I say that I do not know a single professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps.

I am worried that the airline piloting profession will not be able to continue to attract the best and the brightest. The current experience and skills of our country’s professional airline pilots come from investments made years ago when we were able to attract the ambitious, talented people who now frequently seek lucrative professional careers. That past investment was an indispensible element in our commercial aviation infrastructure, vital to safe air travel and our country’s economy and security. If we do not sufficiently value the airline piloting profession and future pilots are less experienced and less skilled, it logically follows that we will see negative consequences to the flying public – and to our country.

We face remarkable challenges in our industry. In order to ensure economic security and an uncompromising approach to passenger safety, management must work with labor to bargain in good faith. We must find collective solutions that address the huge economic issues we face in recruiting and retaining the experienced and highly skilled professionals that the industry requires and that passenger safety demands. But further, we must develop and sustain an environment in every airline and aviation organization – a culture that balances the competing needs of accountability and learning. We must create and maintain the trust that is the absolutely essential element of a successful and sustainable safety reporting system to detect and correct deficiencies before they lead to an accident. We must not let the economic and financial pressures detract from a focus on constantly improving our safety measures and engaging in ongoing and comprehensive training. In aviation, the bottom line is that the single most important piece of safety equipment is an experienced, well-trained pilot.

Despite the bad economic news we’ve experienced in recent times – despite the many challenges we face as a country – I have faith in America, in our people, in our promise. I have briefly touched upon some major problems in my industry today – but I do not believe they are intractable, should we decide to work collectively to solve them.

We all have roles to play in this effort. Despite the economic turbulence hitting our industry, the airline companies must refocus their attention – and their resources – on the recruitment and retention of highly experienced and well-trained pilots, and make that a priority that is at least equal to their financial bottom line. Jeff and I, and our fellow pilots will fly planes and continue to upgrade our education and our training, while we attempt to provide for our families. Patrick and the other talented Air Traffic Controllers will continue to guide us safely through the skies, our passengers will spend their hard-earned money to pay for their travel, and our flight attendants, mechanics, ground crews, and administrative personnel will deal with the thousands of constant details and demands that keep our planes safely in the air.

You can help us, honorable Members of Congress, to work together across party lines, and can demand – or legislate – that labor, management, safety experts, educators, technical experts, and everyday Americans join together to find solutions to these problems. We all honor our responsibilities in good faith and with respect for one another. We must keep the American commercial aviation industry safe and affordable for passengers, and financially viable for those who work in the industry day to day. And for those talented young men and women considering what to do with their lives, we must restore the narrative of a compelling career path in aviation with sufficient economic resources to once again make this vision a reality.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Profound Effect

Tagged by Esther: Think of 25 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good. Tag, you're it.

U2 - Achtung Baby
The Beatles - Abbey Road
Matchbox Twenty - More than you think you are
Garden State Soundtrack
Keane - Under the Iron Sea

Muse - Black Hole and Revelations
Missy Higgins - The Sound of White
Coldplay - X&Y
Depeche Mode - Violator
John Mayer - Room for Squares
Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
Paul McCartney - McCartney (1970)

The Eagles - Hell Freezes Over
Roswell Soundtrack
Sting - Ten Summoners Tales
Frente! - Marvin the Album
Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Nathan McEuen - Grand Design
U2- Best of 1990-2000
Jamie Cullum - Twentysomething
Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself
Garth Brooks - The Hits
Peter Breinholt - Songs About the Great Divide
Les Miserables Soundtrack
Eric Clapton - Timepieces

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dallas Sightseeing

Janet, Rosie and I spent Saturday sightseeing around Dallas. After breakfast, we left the boonies to go back into the city. We met up with Rosie's aunt and uncle, Julie and Mikal, at the Dallas Galleria. She hadn't seen them in years, and they showered her with gifts and attention.



There was a marionette show that we watched in the mall. Nothing like seeing puppets moonwalk to "Thriller."

There were large animal statues that we had fun taking pictures with

The Galleria Mall had an AmericanGirl Doll Superstore. We had fun figuring out which dolls looked most like each of us.

After the mall, we took pictures at the DallsTemple. It was the last place I could take pictures with my real camera because my memory card was full and the batteries died. The rest of the pictures for the trip were taken on my cell phone. We had a gigantic Texas-sized meal at On The Border Mexican grill: virgin daquiris, queso appetizer, entrees, and dessert. We ate so much, six hours later we were still so full that we couldn't go to Babe's Chicken. Sad...I was looking forward to it.
In the afternoon, we met up with Janet's husband Jon to tour Dallas proper. I was so proud of this cool picture with the Reunion Tower in the background.

We walked around the "grassy knoll" area where JFK was assassinated, and walked to his monument. The Mardi Gras celebration was beginning, and some more questionable characters started streaming into the city, so we left just before the parade began.



In the evening, we went back to their house to play Rockband and watch The Mummy 3. The flight loads were pretty iffy for Sunday, so we bedded down early to take me to the airport at 5:00 am.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Traveling on the Cheap

A few of my readers have asked me how I travel so often amidst our family’s financial crisis. I thought I’d give you a few pointers for Traveling on the Cheap.

  1. Marry a crew member: Just like the shirt I saw in a magazine, “Marry me and fly for free!” Preferably a crew member who has student loans paid off, so you can fully enjoy the places you travel (i.e. staying in hotels, fancy restaurants, spendy tourist attractions) If you are already married, encourage your children who show an interest in aviation to pursue their dream. Or, look into non-crew positions through airlines to enjoy the pass benefits, without the expensive professional training. I have several friends that do JetBlue reservations from home and love it.
  2. Do your research early: Prices can vary wildly on fares. Whenever I have an inkling that I’ll be traveling somewhere, I find daily rates for car rentals for less than $10 quite often. If you wait until the week before, it can cost you over $50/day, depending on the airport. Same with hotels – promotions changes all the time. If you don’t need the reservation after all, just cancel it before the deadline stated.
  3. Price shop more than one website: The sites I use most often, with the most consistent success, are Priceline.com and Carrentals.com . I have had varying luck with other websites, and several nasty experiences using Travelocity.com. Kayak.com is a great one to compare prices at a variety of sites. Sometimes the rates are the same, but occasionally a promotion will be running that saves you a bundle. Be sure to read the terms and conditions, understand potential hidden fees.
  4. Join Rewards Programs: Sign up for perks and freebies with the hotels and car rental agencies you frequent. Have a frequent flyer account for the airline you use most (unless you can non-rev, of course)When I get a free night, or a free rental, I try to use it in a more expensive area to get more bang for my freebie buck.
  5. Be a tourist in the cities you have family members and friends: The cities I visit most often are Salt Lake City for my family, and Los Angeles for my in-laws. I always try to make arrangements to be without a rental car, but sometimes you gotta have one. Occasionally I wish that I could visit more exotic locales, but nothing beats a great visit with family and friends in a place I love.
  6. Have a rainy-day travel fund: Sometimes insanely cheap promotional rates pop-up, and you can travel to some amazing destinations for pennies on the dollar. If you keep some money stashed away, you’ll be able to take advantage of these rare perks. Almost everytime I get a cash gift, part of it goes in my jar.
  7. Be flexible: Sometimes adding, deleting, or adjusting an extra day to your travel schedule can mean big savings on flights. Pack snacks and thing to keep you occupied, just in case you get stuck on a delay, or bumped from a flight.
  8. Be wary of travel club sales calls: I’m guilty of signing up for some too-good-to-be-true fly by night operations. Only one was I actually glad that I joined, but I really got taken advantage on another.
  9. Coupons: If you visit certain cities often, buy an Entertainment book for loads of two-for-one deals on restaurants, attractions, hotels, and car rentals.

Travel Junkie

My visited states map 2/20/09


I’ve loved travel since I was a little girl, but most family vacations were spent traveling in a car between Portland and Salt Lake City (the two places that my extended family lived) I got to know all the stop major stops along the road on I-15 and I-84 from repeated trips in Oregon, Idaho, California, Utah, and Nevada. For instance on 1-15:


McCammon? Idaho exit 47.

St George Bluff Street? Utah exit 6

Ute? Nevada exit 80


I’ve done the 800 mile SLC-PDX roadtrip at least 20 times, 250 mile SLC-Rexburg, ID (my college town) 50 times, and the 700 mile SLC-LA roadtrip 15 times. I’ve been to 32 US States and 2 Canadian provinces…so far…


My first airplane ride was when I was approximately Rosie’s age. I lived in Portland, and my mom bought some plane tickets off a friend to Salt Lake City (United Airlines, connecting at SFO, I believe) I remember my mom had me memorize the name printed on the ticket so we didn’t get caught (back before all of the TSA identification guidelines) For years, I wished and hoped to go on an airplane again.


For my 15th birthday, all I wanted was to.visit Portland by air. I pooled gift money from my parents, grandparents and friends for an unaccompanied ticket from SLC to PDX. I still have my Delta boarding pass from that flight. Over the next decade, I flew a variety of times, always mesmerized by the thrill of the takeoff, the gorgeous views, and the lingo the crew used.


When my husband made the decision to pursue aviation for a career, I was thrilled for all of the travel opportunities it would afford my family. I tried to ignore the financial consequences of his extremely expensive education, and thought instead of the great time we’d enjoy in his cushy career. We now know it’s not all that cushy, but it does have it's perks. It’s now been over 5 years since he first took flight in a Cessna, and I’ve flown more in that time than I would have in a lifetime if he weren’t a pilot. (In 2008, I flew non-rev nearly 50,000 miles)


I'm a total travel junkie.



Saturday, February 21, 2009

US Airways 1549 Animation

All I can say is...INCREDIBLE.

Thursday I Don't Care About You

I totally snagged this from Melancholy Smile....the best video I've seen all week (and I saw a lot of great videos this week...)

Friday, I'm in Love from Jared Foster on Vimeo.

Revisiting my past in Texas

This weekend, I'm in the Dallas area with my good friend Janet. We have been friends since 1993. We grew up in the same neighborhood, have many common friends, attended YW together, were in drama in HS together, our parents are friends. We have a lot of history. Her dad is a very senior captain for Skywest, and has been one of my husband's aviation mentors. Our birthdays are both in February, and we try to do something special with/for each other every year.

Last night, we flew in to DFW, Janet and her husband Jonathan were waiting for us as close to our gate as they could. They greeted Rosie and I with big hugs. Only one other time in recent memory, when Liz picked me up from LAX a few months ago, has a friend actually gotten out of the car and been my welcoming committee. It was so awesome! (Not to say I don't appreciate all the times I've been picked up at the curb...it's probably saved me thousands in rental car expenses)

The stars at night, actually ARE big and bright...*clap clap clap clap*...deep in the heart of Texas!We got dessert at Braum's on the way back to Little Elm. The caramel on my sundae actually rivaled Leatherby's as my favorite. Instead of Leatherby's creamy, hot and drippy sauce, Braums has thick, taffy-like caramel that is just like homemade caramels. Once we got back to their beautifully decorated home, I crashed into bed around 12:30.

Today we've got a lot on the agenda. After some amount of consideration, we are going to be meeting up with Rosie's aunt and uncle at one of our sightseeing stops. Yes, that would be my ex-husband's brother and his wife (who I must add, looks incredibly similar to my ex) I don't think I've seen them since before he and I got divorced. They are very sweet people who hold no animosty toward me, but it feels a little strange. Actually, the whole extended family is great...but we had some rough patches through the whole court experience.

The last time I was in Texas was at Christmas in 1999. My ex and I came to spend 5 days with his brother's family. My funniest memory of that trip was going on rollercoasters at Six Flags over Texas. I looked at the signs on the rides, and kept laughing, "Good thing I'm not pregnant! I love rollercoasters." One week later, my pregnancy test was positive....and nine months later Rosie was born. Maybe she's so awesome because she went on thrill rides in utero.

A little TSA change for you...

Last night when I was at ATL, heading to DFW, I noticed a slight security change that's happened since my trip to MEM last week. Instead of keeping out my boarding pass to show once I went through the metal detector, the TSA agents told me to put away my boarding pass. You now only have to show your boarding pass when you show your government-issued ID. The agent said, "The change was made overnight. " Hmmm. I'm not complaining.

Friday, February 20, 2009

KEANE TOUR!


MAY
8 - Oakland, CA - The Fox Theater
9 - Los Angeles, CA - The Hollywood Palladium
12 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kingsbury Hall
13 - Denver, CO - The Ogden Theater
15 - Minneapolis, MN - Myth
16 - Chicago, IL - Aragon Ballroom
19 - Washington, DC - Constitution Hall
20 - Philadelphia, PA - Tower Theater
21 - Boston, MA - Bank of America Pavilion
23 - Toronto, ON - The Sound Academy
24 - Cleveland, OH - Tower City Amphitheater
27 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall

Tickets will go on sale on Monday via a special keanemusic.com presale (in conjunction with one of the big US ticket sites). The presale kicks off at 9am ET / 7am PT on Monday 23rd Feburary.
A big thanks to my dear friend Esther, who is going to sponsor my Keane addiction for the LA show. Now, who wants to sponsor me for the SLC show? The money I'd set aside for a ticket, I've decided to use towards "necessary" expenses...like utilities.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eye Goobers

My eyes have been bugging me all day I fell asleep in tears last night. I woke up with them glued shut and burning. I put hot compresses on before work to clear the gunk. All day they itched, dripped tears, and stung. By the time work was over, I had a slight fever. I got home, and laid next to my flu-symptomed husband. We took a nap, and my eyes were even more cemented shut when I woke up.

Yesterday, ATL had a tornado watch. Insane winds, torrential rain, thunder and lightning. I think all this storminess mixed up all the allergens and set my allergy symptoms on fire.

I have been prone to eye infections for years, and I'm certain that I have 2-3 bottles of prescription eye drops...but they haven't been unpacked yet. Oh, the pain!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Biking Pilot


Tonight I helped my friend Clint set up a blog. He's one of my pilot friends who is training for a triathalon. He has no faithful readers yet, so if you want to go over and give him a shout out...his blog is thebikingpilot.blogspot.com

A very disappointing announcement

For the first time in a long time...I have nothing to say. I've never been at a loss for blog topics. So here's your chance....what do YOU want me to blog about?

And now a random picture of my sister and I from 2007.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Memphis Valentine


A few months ago, the radio station I listen to had a contest called Lovers in Japan : tickets to see Coldplay in Tokyo on Valentines Day. Needless to say, I didn't win the contest, but it did get the wheels spinning to do something special this year. Taylor's February schedule gave him 2.5 days off for the V-day weekend, so it sealed the deal. We would have a Valentines Date away from ATL. It would be the first trip Taylor and I took away from home, just the two of us, since our honeymoon in 2004. Some friends from our new ward agreed to watch Rosie for us, and we were off to Memphis, TN!We flew into MEM Friday night. We picked up our rental car and drove across the Mississippi border into South Haven. We got dinner and dessert at O'Charleys. The caramel pie didn't live up to my expectations, but the mural on the wall was pretty cool. After dinner, we headed to our hotel. We got a great rate at the Fairfield Inn...but I won't fill you in on the sordid details of our hotel time ;)
In the morning, we had our free breakfast. I like staying in Fairfield Inns because they have comfortable beds, and good hot breakfasts! After we ate, we checked out and headed into town. We stopped at the Memphis Pyramid - it was build with hopes of being a destination convention site, but as far as we know it sits vacant as a spot for photo ops.
Then we crossed the bridge over the Mississippi River into Arkansas. I have never been, and really don't have reason to. We just went so I could cross it off my U.S. map.

We stopped for drinks at the Pilot. I made him pose for this shot. He wasn't amused.
Then we drove back across the MS River back into Memphis. The city is definitely more interesting coming in from AR than it is from the suburbs.


Then we had the sentinel moment of our weekend...Corky's Bar-B-Q! We shared the ribs for two set up, with rolls, beans, and fries. We had half a slab of dry rub (Taylor's preference) and half a slab of wet (my preference).
More than anything, we love the Apple BBQ sauce. We could drink it straight! (At least, I would)

Next we went to Beale Street...which is what Memphis is probably most famous for. We were immediately greeted by a drunk wino asking for money. I immediately slung my purse over my shoulder, inside my jacket. that's why my butt looks bigger than usual in this pic.Random Elvis Mural
What do you think, can I pull off this look?
There were blues bars a-plenty, but none were offering daytime karaoke (much to Taylor's relief)
Boas a-plenty! I chose the red one for Valentines Day (don't worry, I didn't buy it)
Who wants some totally uncensored pork?
More Elvis paraphenilia than you'd ever care to find.
This is my favorite find of all the kitschy stores: A tin that says "Well behaved women rarely make history." Appropo, no?

After Beale Street, we drove back to the airport, turned in our rental car, were harassed by rude TSA agents (who threw my lingerie out for all to see, and made Taylor check his bag for no good reason...even though he had his crew badge). We flew back on the 3:40 flight, and were home for a quiet evening with Rosie by 7:00 pm. Memphis, I'm sad to say, is probably not a place I'll visit again (other than Corky's) but we had a great, memorable time.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Forever and for Always

From 2004 to 2009, I've been the luckiest woman alive. I have a man who truly appreciates me, loves me, kisses me, comforts me, teases me, spoils me, and ALWAYS has my best interest in mind. After a very difficult first marriage, I doubted that I'd ever have a man that would take care of my needs, and treat me as I deserved. It didn't take long for me to know what a treasure he was in the world of single folk, and I snatched him up a quick as I could. He's the yin to my yang, the peanut butter to my jelly, the Nutella to my baguette, the Romeo to my Juliet, and the music to my life symphony.

The best song to describe how I feel about him is "Push" by Sarah McLachlan-

Every time I look at you the world just melts away
All my troubles, all my fears dissolve in your affections
You've seen me at my weakest but you take me as I am
And when I fall you offer me a softer place to land

You stay the course you hold the line you keep it all together
You're the one true thing I know I can believe in
You're all the things that I desire, you save me, you complete me
You're the one true thing I know I can believe

I get mad so easy but you give me room to breathe
No matter what I say or do 'cause you're to good to fight about it
Even when I have to push just to see how far you'll go
You wont stoop down to battle but you never turn to go

Your love is just the antidote when nothing else will cure me
There are times I cant decide when I cant tell up from down
You make me feel less crazy when otherwise I'd drown
But you pick me up and brush me off and tell me I'm OK
Sometimes thats just what we need to get us through the day

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

Friday, February 13, 2009

What the doctor said

All hooked up last week

Yesterday afternoon I had the quickest doctor appointment of my life. I arrived at the office about 4:10, and I was back to my car by 4:25. Seriously??? When does that ever happen. I only had to pay $1 for parking instead of the usual $5 (which by the way is really lame to be forced to pay for parking when you're already paying your doctors. The joys of living in an urban metro area)

The bad news is that there wasn't a lot for the sleep doctor to report about my polysomnography test from last week. He had ordered the CPAP version; but even after a clearly marked written order (and a lot of arguing on my part), the sleep tech only gave me an NPSG test (for new patients). Dr. I said that he hadn't yet dictated my whole report, but that my sleep structure was almost identical to my last test in 2007. Approximately 10 disruptions per hour, similar oxygenation, similar REM sleep time, mild-to-moderate snoring (which Taylor doesn't agree with. haha) Dr. I was really upset that I basically had the test for nothing, and he promptly got on the phone with the director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Piedmont Hospital to make sure that I don't get billed for the erroneous study. Dr. I apologized to me profusely, he waived my copay, and set me up for the CPAP study in his VIP suite at Georgia Lung Center in Austell in March (longer drive, but nicer facility and it includes breakfast)


I wonder if I had refused the study the night of, which I was tempted to do, if I wouldn't have gotten in my car accident last week.

Colgan 3407

On my usual too-early morning wake-up today, I quickly caught wind of the crash of a Dash 8 Q400 plane,Colgan flight 3407 - operating for Continental Connection. The plane crashed at 10:20 pm yesterday, 5 miles before their destination airport of Buffalo (which is an airport my husband has flown to many times.) The full report is here on CNN.

This crash, which killed 44 passengers, 4 crew, and one person on the ground comes only weeks after the U.S. Airways Miracle on the Hudson, where no fatalities occurred. For some reason, as "miraculous" as the U.S. Airways splash-landing was, I wasn't as emotionally affected. I am glad that all passengers were safe, and the crew did a fabulous job in an emergency situation (which is why it annoys me that everyone calls it a miracle). But I think why I'm feeling so much sadness over the crash tonight is that it happened in the area of an airport my husband flies to, in a plane of similar capacity as my husband's, with employees from a company my husband's company owns (Pinnacle Airlines Corp purchaed Colgan Air in 2007, but don't let me even start on that acquisition).

The causes of the accident will be under investigation by the NTSB for a while, so only speculation can be made at this point. I was reading the Aviatrix's take on the accident, which includes a trancript of the ATC recordings. She gives a much better summary of the situation than I ever could.

In less than a month we've seen the ultimate in triumph and defeat in the skies (within only a few hundred miles). My heart goes out to the families affected by the crash.

Addendum 2/19/09 : Some have misunderstood
the intent of my comment about US Airways 1549 from my blog. I have read several news stories that have put a very strange spin on the story, which have made it seem that any other pilot, save Sully, would have caused a disastrous crash. This is not so. I know that my husband has received excellent safety training through his airline. He is nowhere near as experienced as Sully, but I have faith that MANY pilots in commercial aviation would have had the capacity to land the plane safely. The emergency procedures were expertly exectued, and I do believe God's hand was active in the sucessful splash landing.

I'm absolutely pro-miracle, but I think credit does need to go overall to pilots who have safety procedures and flows so ingrained in their muscle memory that they would have the capacity to save lives. My husband was involved in a birdstrike that nearly required a belly landing, but he and the captain followed the safety requirements and successfully landed with no injury. Unfortunately, Colgan's flight resulted in the worst case scenario...but I have faith that the pilots and crew members who perished were on top of their game - following safety procedures a best they could in an impossible situation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Recurring Dreams

For the last 6 years, I've been dealing with a variety of sleep disorders. One of the byproducts of my unpredictible sleep has been extremely vivid dreams. There are two dreams that I typically have:

Teeth: I dream that I'm in "normal" life situations and all my teeth fall out. Sometimes I'm speaking in front of large audiences and hit my front teeth on the microphone and all teeth come out. Sometimes I sneeze and propel them across the room. I have had four teeth (in real life) that have crumbled while eating foods like soft white bread and fruit snacks, but I've never actually had a tooth completely fall out. I've had enough dental work in my life that sometimes these nightmares feel more like reality. According a website I was reading about tooth loss dreams, it signals the fear of transitioning from youth to adult to old age. Also, "Losing teeth in dreams can also point to insecurity about finances." I guess I shouldn't be suprised.

Earthquakes: I have never been in a significant earthquake, but I've alway been fascinated by earthquakes. In the dreams, I am typically naked in the shower when the quake hits. I am forced to run outside either naked or only in a towel. Most recently, my earthquake dream happened when I was having my sleep study last week. I dreamed that an earthquake hit while I was hooked up to all the polysomnography equipment on a high floor of a high-rise hospital. I fell out of bed, was being choked by the equipment, and Chandler (from Friends) sensed my dire situation from a carwash next to the hospital. He ran up multiple flights of stairs to rescue me from strangulation.

For earthquake dream interpretation, one website says, "Unlike some of the other dreams about natural disasters, earthquakes usually symbolize parts of the dreamer's physical reality rather than his emotional life. The earthquake in the dream may be representing financial difficulties, health issues, or any number of other problems that could occur in daily life. An experience that is "shaking" you up, and changing your daily life, could be creeping into your dream state and showing up as an earthquake."

Another website says, "Dreaming of an earthquake is a warning: if you can withstand disturbances in life, you will find a new place or starting point. Earthquakes usually stand for sudden changes which take place in our personal or social lives. This dream does not mean that you can prevent these changes, but tells you to be firm and true to yourself if you want a positive outcome."

As for being nude, the info is all here...

WHAT DO YOU DREAM ABOUT?

Product Review: Tim Tams

Recently I was approached by a marketing company to review a product on my blog. I like free stuff, so why not? I was promptly shipped a package of Pepperidge Farm TimTam Chocolate Crème Sandwich Cookies. They package touts them as "Australia's Favorite Cookie". And since I'm a fan of many foods foreign, and I had read a very positive review on Phoood, I was excited to give it a try. I included my husband, daughter, and a friend for a full-bodied review of TimTams.

I was first suprised at the crunchy wafer. It is more like a graham cracker than a traditional layered wafer cookie (that has a crunch similar to a KitKat) It reminds me of the Ghiradelli chocolate-covered graham cracker cookie. The chocolate fudge is just the right amount of sweet. I enjoyed the difference of texture between the layers, and the crème in the middle is AMAZING. It makes a great complement to a cup of cocoa or tea.

My husband said that it was really satisfying and he'd eat more if they were in the house. My friend Clint said they were "delightfully delicious." Rosie said "it's GOOD! I loved it! I wish they gave us more" The four of us devoured the package within a few minutes, and were wanting to head to Target to buy more. They are only available on a limited basis at Target until March, so make sure you grab a package next time you are in the store.

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