Friday, June 22, 2012

A Whole New (Technological) World


This has been a long time coming. I’ve been wanting an electronic way to read books while on the road for several years now. Ever since last year, when I realized that I could pick up a book and not feel guilty for reading in my spare time, I have wanted an easier way to transport several books with me while I’m traveling! I am on the road quite a bit for work and all. And I do like to read.

I finally splurged with my credit card cash back last November and bought a Kindle Fire. I loved it passionately but returned it just three weeks later when I received an iPad 2 through work. (SURPRISE!) It didn’t make sense to carry both for the same purpose, and I might as well choose the one that work bought, right?

Three months later, however, I turned in my iPad when I turned in my resignation for my job. So I was, once again, missing a way to read books without carrying some bulk with me.

Luckily, renting the iPad made me realize that I would never pay money for one of my own. It is just a lot of money for a tool that is very restricted in what it can do! Like Hubby, I am liking Apple less and less with the more I interact with them. This statement may get me some hate mail, but sometimes the truth is hard to take. By Apple Lovers.

However, I liked the larger 10.1'” screen, so I couldn’t return to the smaller (but loveable) Kindle Fire after having three additional inches for a few months. After playing with several tablet options at Best Buy (does anyone else enjoy just playing with gadgets?), I realized that I would need to wait a few months for some newer options to be released.

April rolled around, and the tablet that I had been dreaming about came into existence. The Acer Iconia A510. What a machine! But, in a shockingly patient move, I waited for a few months for the reviews to come rolling in. You see, this was the first tablet with a quad-core processor. Though it might seem crazy that a tablet would need a quad-core processor, with the knowledge that such a processor now existed for a tablet, I knew that was what I “needed.” But it was important to ensure that people liked it, and that it was a good investment, so I not only waited for the product to be released, but for people to chime in with their thoughts of being owners.

In another shocking move, I never got to play with this tablet in person before purchasing. They are still pretty hard to find in stores, so I just read reviews like no other and watched videos of others putting the tablet into action. Big risk to not try it out in person first! At least, I thought I was being risky!

Luckily, after a very painful and long two months, the reviews were mostly positive. Just a few weeks ago, after spending a week on the road and having plenty of money left over from my per diem account, I clicked “buy” on Amazon and went to bed as one happy camper.

I waited so patiently for the package to arrive, though I don’t know what I would do without our free two-day shipping option. After running errands that morning, I spent the afternoon waiting at home. With such an expensive box arriving, I correctly assumed that my signature would be needed before the package could be left. Waiting another day just wasn’t going to happen, if you know what I mean.


I held the box on my lap. It just felt right. I was so happy that my months of waiting had paid off, but I was even happier that the waiting was over. I finally had a better way to read my books (and do so much more) on something larger than a 2-inch screen!


Oh golly. It’s beautiful. This looks good, folks. Veeeeeerrrrrry good.


After researching cover options to protect my new toy, I found this 5-star leather case for just $19. What a steal, considering cases usually go for around $40 for something this size.

Not only was it affordable, but those reviewers really knew their stuff. I am tickled with this case and am thrilled that it perfectly protects my tablet while still giving me easy access to the things that I use most.


Let’s check out some specs first, huh? Quad-core processor? Check. Two cameras? Check. Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system? Check. Unlike the iPad for twice the cost, I also have an mini HDMI plug (to connect the tablet to a television for movies, pictures, etc.), and a mini USB port for connecting any device that I wish. Not only that, but the Iconia comes with a mini SD card slot, which enables me to double my storage to 64 GB!

You can’t do that on no iPad, yo!

Did I mention that it has a 13-hour battery life?! I can proudly say that they weren’t lying, either. I can read, check email, play Words with Friends with Charloe and Parker, and read some more without the battery needing to be charged all day.


This is where the Aladdin Disney music stopped, however. How dare they?! I patiently wait years for this device, and now I have to wait four more hours to actually turn it on and start enjoying it?!

I carefully read the instructions beforehand, for just such a moment. You can screw up the battery forever by not using it properly that very first time, so I was willing to wait a few measly hours to make this machine even better.

Patience is a virtue, right?


While it charges, I will just admire it in its packaging. My goodness, it’s a pretty little thing.


Here is the rear camera. Five megapixels! Also, I love the non-slip ergonomic feel to the back of the tablet. They thought of everything to prevent slips and breaks.


Four long hours later, I was so ready to crank this puppy up. Let’s see what it can do! Luckily, Hubby’s foot was in for the ride as well.


Yes. Yes, this is good. I like what they’ve done here.


Sweet! It already has an update and automatically started to fix itself on startup! I love when devices are smart enough to do all of the manual labor for me. I just enjoyed the animated Android Store robot while the new operating update was installed.

It went very quickly, if you compare it to four hours of charging…


Oh my stinkin’ heck. It’s gorgeous! I tend to get excited about pretty technology, but I am really loving the look and feel of this little machine! And it is so fast! This main page stores all of my quick-access apps. Without even reading how to use this machine, I soon felt like a master. An app master, that is.

“Master App” could be my next tattoo. Or first tattoo, I guess.


The tablet comes preloaded with lots of apps, and then I added a few of my own. My only complaint is that I can never delete any of the preloaded ones. Even though I don’t use Facebook and never will, it will be an app on this machine for.ev.ver.

But that’s OK. If that is my only complaint, and it is, then I can deal with that.


I might just add a few goodies of my own, like Lose It, which helps me keep track of my weight loss goals. I really love using this app in a larger format than my iPod Touch. I can actually see what’s going on now! Double-bonus!


Ahhhh, but this. This is the main event for which this tablet was purchased. Reading free books from the library using my free Kindle app. I love it. I love everything about it! I love the two-column look when turned horizontal. I love the clean, crisp words. I love that I can turn the background to black with white script if I want to read at night. It’s amazing! And it’s way better to read on a large screen than on a microscopic iPod Touch!


I love that with one click, I can instantly be depressed at how awfully hot it is outside. See that high for today? It’s been it the hundred-and-teens for the past week and has been simply ridiculous. But at least I have a machine now that will share my heat-wave woes.


Yep, there’s a fast and flash-enabled web browser, too! Take that, iPad-that-can’t-show-most-websites!

I love this tablet. With pretty high expectations of what arrived from UPS last week, I can happily say that I am blown away. It is the perfect solution for my traveling and book-reading needs. And, since I purchased it with free extra money carefully saved from my per diem, it was pretty much a perfect purchase.

If you are in the market for just such a tool, may I recommend the Acer Iconia A510 tablet. It’s a keeper (and it’s $40 cheaper now than when it was first released on Amazon in April)!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our Third Leg…Home At Last


Saturday was a long day. We flew three flights in between Seattle and the Phoenix area, and those aren’t exactly short flights! After we dropped some folks off in Bremerton, it was time to turn around for our last flight of the day.

This time we were headed to the Embraer Service Center in Mesa.


Part of our preflight checks are to ensure all of the fire protection systems are working properly. These CAS (Crew Alerting System) messages on the PFD (Primary Flight Displays) let us know what warnings and cautions exist.

Warnings are always red and require immediate attention. Yellows are cautions and should be looked at sooner rather than later. White messages are simply advisories letting us know something about the airplane. The white messages rarely require any action, other than pushing off the flashing advisory button letting us know of a new message.

Don’t worry. These are all present today as part of our test in the cockpit. All tests passed successfully, and we were soon on our way.

Did you just fall asleep with that explanation?!


We were wheels-up at 7:00 PM. With a tailwind, this flight home will be just under 2.5 hours. Good thing, too. I’m tired and hungry and haven’t seen my Hubby for six days!

Evenings in the Pacific Northwest are breathtaking, in case you’re wondering.


As usual when departing the Seattle area, we had to climb through a cloud layer to finally reach clear skies above. We call these IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) because we have to rely on the instruments inside the airplane to let us know our heading, turn bank, airspeed, and rate of climb.

To fly in IMC, the pilot has to have an Instrument Rating on his or her pilot license. Luckily, I done did got one when I was at the best school ever in Nort Dakota, eh.

Wow, you didn’t know that so many acronyms were going to be used today, huh? We use them all the time in the piloting world. They even make books listing out the thousands of acronyms used on a daily basis.

When in doubt, use an acronym. It makes you cooler in any situation.


This is the first time that I’ve flown on such a long flight with no passengers in Gladys. It’s kind of creepy being so quiet back there, but at least my passenger briefing before the flight was slightly shorter!

Isn’t this a beautiful interior on Gladys’ cabin? This is a custom job, and no other airplane in the world looks like her.


Thanks for confirming where we are, Jeppessen Flight Deck on the iPad. The location works about half the time on this machine, even though we bought a special GPS that should allow it to work all the time.

Have I mentioned that I’m not much of an iPad fan? And tomorrow, I’ll show you something way cooler to prove it!


This is an alarming sight. Where is the Captain?!

He took advantage of the long flight home to run in the back of the cabin for a few minutes to test our sound equipment for the passengers.

He may have also taken a nap while he was back there. I’m not sure.

This simply meant that it was just me and Gladys for a while. So fun! Girl Time!


It will be a few weeks before I’m back in these parts again, so I might as well enjoy the incredible sunset just off the wing. We flew at 39,000 feet all the way home and got to enjoy the sunset for a few hours.


Hello, Phoenix! I’m glad to see you…though this isn’t the first time today.

We turned left to skirt the outside of Phoenix Sky Harbor airspace to arrive at Mesa-Gateway Airport on the southeast corner of the Valley.

I personally think that Phoenix Approach Controllers are some of the best in the country. And I’m not even being biased there.


We made it! We touched down around 9:30 PM and taxied to the service center. One of the wonderful mechanics, Kevin, tracked our flight and was at the hangar to meet us when we arrived. Such a treat, since we weren’t scheduled to show up until the next day!

Kevin dropped us off at the rental car terminal to grab a car to drive to Scottsdale. My car was there, and the Captain’s dinner from the past four days in Bremerton was in the fridge there. So we drove about an hour north back to our hangar, where my car had been parked for almost an entire week.


Now is not the time to argue about a five-dollar difference on the rental car price. Sheesh! Please, let’s just go! This discussion took half an hour, folks. My legs were aching because I was so tired, but I got to stand there and be embarrassed and quiet the entire time. It was awesome.

We got back to Scottsdale around 11:00 PM. I loaded up Corolla with my luggage and began the half-hour drive back to my house.

My stomach made me stop for a bite to eat, since it had been a little too long since my last meal. Unfortunately, I discovered the deliciousness of Wing Stop. Bad move, Micah. Bad move.

It was a looooooooooong day, but I’m glad it’s over. Hubby was up and waiting for me when I got home. It’s always nice to be hugged by that man, but especially after a week of being gone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flying to Bremerton…Again


After yesterday’s explanation of three trips in one day, it’s time to show you the second leg of our journey. This one took place between Home Base and Bremerton with two passengers in back.


The view of the Grand Canyon is always stunning to me. I am also impressed that Gladys can get us there in about fifteen minutes, while I’m pretty sure it took about four hours in a car.

I’m not much of a road-tripper, and that is only confirmed by my job. “We could have been there hours ago,” says I in a whining tone. Unless I’m in an airplane, it isn’t really the getting-there part that I enjoy. I just want to be there!


I even had a snack on this flight. Have you had the chocolate chunk cookies at Jimmy John’s? If not, we need to remedy that situation as soon as possible. They are quite wonderful.


I always get my mountains mixed up in these parts. It could be Mount Rainier. Or Mount Hood. It isn’t Mount Everest because this mountain still has its top intact. Whichever one it is, I think it looks pretty nifty just off Gladys’ winglet.

This also means that we’re getting close to Bremerton again. This flight took under two and a half hours to complete.


The clouds aren’t very thick during this descent, and it’s warm enough that we didn’t need to turn on the anti-icing equipment. We certainly did this past Monday when we landed here to begin the week of fun. We’re about to dip below the clouds as we arrive at Bremerton.


Oh golly. Isn’t this so beautiful? I would live in these neck of the woods for a summer home. Actually, Everett, Washington is still my number-one pick after my bus ride home from Canada. It’s close to Seattle but still has that small-town feel and charm.

And an outlet mall. But don’t tell Hubby that is a weighing factor or I’ll lose all credibility. And there’s very little left as it is…


Those yellow flowers are a dead-giveaway that we are almost landing in Bremerton. Isn’t everything so green and lush? Coming from the desert, I am always blown away by the amount of non-dead foliage in these parts.


“Bremerton Traffic, this is Gladys. Short final, Runway 1, full stop landing. Bremerton.”

Since this airport doesn’t have a control tower, it’s up to me to make position reports to others in the area so they know how to avoid crashing into us.

I don’t mind talking more on the radio at all…but I’m sure that surprises all of you.


We made it! Look at that green field! That is the area surrounding the runway!

After I unloaded lots of bags (more than two kids backpacks, anyway), I arranged for fuel and then went in to pay the bill.


It didn’t feel too rushed, but I was anxious to get home. My suggestion a few days earlier was to spend the night here, then head home when we were refreshed the next morning. I lost that thumb wrestle, and we turned around for our third time between Seattle and Phoenix in one day.

I was beat! How did I used to do this all the time?!


We had our maintenance logs in the baggage compartment, since we weren’t going back to our home airport. Our intended destination instead was Williams-Gateway in Mesa, where there is an Embraer Service Center. We love having them so close, and they do wonderful work for us.

This is my step ladder, too. This baggage compartment is so huge (and often filled to the brim), so I need a way to climb inside to get all of the bags from the unreachable areas.

Yes, I’ve had nightmares about being locked in here before a flight. I would die, of course, since this part of the airplane isn’t pressurized. But I keep telling myself that someone would notice if I wasn’t up front flying the airplane when we took off. So that keeps me feeling safe when I dig deep into our baggage area.

Two out of three legs done for the day. We are almost finished!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Let’s Go Home…Twice!


I knew that Saturday was going to be killer. We were to take two passengers home that morning, turn around and come back to Bremerton with two different passengers, then head home empty for a few weeks of maintenance.

Three trips back and forth between Seattle. It felt like a typical day with my old job! And even now, I still look back wondering how on earth I survived that schedule for so long (five years!).

For today’s post, I’ll just show you the first leg, from Bremerton to Home. The first time.


It was actually a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest. After reading the temperatures in Phoenix, I was dreading leaving the 63-degree weather here for home’s sweltering fun.

But it looks weird if I ask to stay another week, so I just went with it.


Of course, we passed through lots of clouds before finally finding perfect Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) up above. It’s a shame to not see the incredible scenery below, because it is breathtaking.


This one just makes me want to burst out into song. I get that way sometimes…


Oops. Man! Sorry.


It’s easy to forget what the sunshine looks like when you’ve been absent from it for a week. As soon as we climbed through about 5,000 feet, we were on top of the dreary weather and got to enjoy the sun all the way home.

Thanks to an awesome tailwind and my being nice on the radio for some shortcuts, our flight time was less than 2.5 hours. Pretty good for this trip!

Gladys is so fast!


Don’t be alarmed, but I am sitting in back for this picture. That’s why it is a shot of the left wing instead of my normal right. Since we had two young guys on board, I swapped them seats so they could each sit up front with the Captain.

They loved it, and it gave me a chance to test our new headset in the back for the passengers. They can put it on and call us up front, if they want. In case walking five feet to tap us on the shoulder is just out of the question. They can even stay on and listen to our Prime Country on Sirius! I doubt that will ever happen, as they’ve already teased us for that musical selection.

I just think they’re jealous.

All of the headset jacks work perfectly in the back for this new headset. The boss will be thrilled!


Eventually, it was time to head back up front so we could begin our descent into The Valley of the Sun. The flight actually felt very fast. Which is good for me, since I get to do this trip twice more today!


This is Cottonwood, which isn’t too far from Sedona. They do sky diving out of here, but we didn’t hear “Jumpers Away” on the radio today.

I didn’t mind. Sky Divers can be so messy to wipe out of an engine, you know?


Ahhhhh, home sweet home. It always feels wonderful coming back, no matter how long I’ve been gone.

And I did miss the sun. It’s been six days without it.

Landing Runway 21.


I got our passengers on their way. Their older brother picked them up. Unloading two tiny backpacks was a breeze. We should travel with kids all the time!

This is our fuel farm, where our line guys hook us up to get jet fuel. We took 416 gallons on here to make the return trip back up to Bremerton.

After the airplane was ready, I was famished! I texted the boss to see if we could run to grab a quick lunch nearby. He said he was running a little behind, so the timing worked perfectly!

Just half a mile from the airport was a Jimmy John’s Sandwich place. (Merrill, you would love it!). So we were able to eat to be ready for our next flight to the Seattle area with happy tummies!


We are based at the perfect location in the middle of the airport. We really love our home hangar and those staffing it. We are always pampered, and you know how I feel about being pampered.

As you can see, Saturdays aren’t a very busy day at our hangar. And it slows down quite a bit in the summer, too, because most people avoid the triple digits like the plague! Smarty pants.


With two people in back, we were soon on our way out! It’s about 3:00 PM now. Perfect timing!


Of course, this airport is always good for some eye candy. This Gulfstream V was waiting to go from it’s own private hangar. We aren’t that bad…at least we share a few large hangars with others.

Some people just don’t like to share.

We were wheels-up and on our way back to the Seattle area. Thanks to the direction of flight and, thus, some headwinds, this flight took about two hours and fifty minutes.

We still made excellent time in a rocket named Gladys.

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