Double

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Double. More than double. But not for your pleasure.

A new licensing fee appeared on the renewal form for the car I drive most, a hybrid. It wasn’t there last year, but appeared this year and it more than doubled the cost of registering my vehicle. There was no mention of this fee anywhere in the media, that I can find, until after the fact that it was applied to people’s licensing fees. Surprise! The cost of registering your vehicle more than doubled!

The biggest kicker, I am paying a fee for something I don’t use, an electric vehicle charging station (and those this fee is supposedly going to build). Thus the word HYBRID, meaning it powers itself by using two different types of fuel.

I tell you, bigger government means bigger fees. Always. There is never an exception to this. Ever. The problem is that many times the fees aren’t actually used for the stated purpose, nor do they totally justify the collection of the fee in the first place.

Why is the government in charge of building charging stations for electric vehicles? Why is it that those not driving plug-in cars are paying a fee to plug in a car that won’t plug in?

The epitome of what is wrong with government. I mean there is a LOT wrong with our government, at many different levels, but this is just another fine example of why so many people dislike and don’t trust the government.

Without notification

airline flight schedules on flat screen televisions

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Someone left town to visit family this weekend. Flying in these times is a rather curious endeavor now and there was already anticipation that some flexibility would be needed. The thought was that returning home might end up being a problem (that still remains to be seen). So…

Night before flight, 11:23pm: Flight is on time for an 8:00am departure.

Morning of flight, 4:11a.m: Flight cancelled and booked to another flight at 10:21am.

If I hadn’t checked of my own volition, the change would not have been known until arriving at the airport.

Did you catch that, “of my own volition”?

That’s right. Not a single notification from the airline that the flight details had changed. No text. No email. No call. That last one I didn’t really expect, but not even an email? Is that how they handle flight changes now?

Really disappointed in Alaska Airlines.

Granted, for the first leg of the trip the flight is not on their actual airline, but the trip was booked through them and they are the “confirmation number issuer” so you would think they were the ones responsible for notification.

I have always liked flying with them. They take pretty good care of you and they fly to most places I want to go for a fair price (most of the time). But, this taints the relationship a little. She luster is now gone. Oh, I’ll still probably fly with them but there is a little love lost now.

I may have a wandering eye, checking out the other options available. Fair warning Alaska, fair warning.

 

Power(less)

people wall blur inside

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Traveling in the electronic age is rather interesting, or frustrating, depending on your point of view and experience.

On my vacation last week, I had the opportunity to visit four different airport concourses. All were Southwest Airlines concourses, but I am not actually sure who is responsible for setting them up. Obviously the airport maintains them (cleaning, etc.), but as far as designing and then implementing the design, as I understand, that is up to the airline.

The interesting thing is that all four airports had vastly different designs and amenities. Seattle’s hub, surprisingly, was the most comfortable and there were AMPLE places to plug in the electronic devices. Between a bar looking setup with plugs to all the chairs having plugs and USB ports, there was no fighting over access. As such, there was no possibility of running short on power, but I was just starting my trip so everything was fully powered already.

San Jose’s Southwest concourse was rather dinky and probably the least comfortable of all four, but again the chairs all had plugs and USB ports available so now finding a place to top off the devices wasn’t difficult. Find an open seat (maybe more difficult since it was a small place) and plug in.

Phoenix’s Southwest concourse was actually comfortable, but access to power was rather sparse. Again, I was fully charged so I didn’t need a place to power-up, but if I had there seemed to be a few “bar” looking places spaced throughout the concourse, but the plugs available at these were limited. The seating had no charging capability at all, at least not at the gate I was at and it didn’t look any different any place else.

Finally, Southwest’s Sacramento concourse was a decent size but again the power options were really limited. Again, there were a few of those “bar” options, but again nothing in the chairs. Fortunately, there wasn’t anything that needed topped off for me at this point in my trip. I was conserving power fairly well.

The return trip home was rather eye-opening. I fully expected that what I had available to me on my trip down would be available to me on the way home. That was not the case. I was a little surprised that the airline didn’t have the same amenities available in all of it’s concourses, at least as far as access to power goes. Yes, I know size of the airport and what other comforts available depend highly on the design of the building, but the easiest and most effective way to offer power options to your flyers is to add the chairs with power access right in them. The last two airports, not so much.

So, if you haven’t flown in a while, be prepared to be “powerless” on some legs of your trip. You may have to supply your own as the battle for outlets continues to increase in our electronics driven lives.

Need to know

red and yellow stop sticker

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“You’re on a need to know basis, and you don’t need to know.”

The above phrase gets tossed around a lot, but there are actual times when it applies. Yesterday, I ran into an instance from my employer that seems to fit this to a T.

The admin assistance to our department director came around with a new form to fill out. It supposedly is something that we have filled out previously and supposedly only has one line changed on the whole document. The supposed change is “to comply with federal grant requirements.” The added line really isn’t the issue for me though.

The document is basically a “driver screening” risk management form. I get that in order for me to drive a company vehicle, they have to ask certain questions and it is expected that I report certain details should circumstances require the necessity to do so. That isn’t really an issue for me. I understand the necessity of such a screening. HOWEVER…

The document goes on to ask about information that I believe is totally unnecessary and, quite frankly, a violation of my privacy by asking about my personal vehicle. As in, should I drive my personal vehicle during work hours and on work time. The document is asking for the kind of vehicle I drive and license plate (why would it matter what vehicle I drive if it is my vehicle?), what insurance company I use and the policy number (with specific amounts of coverage); it requires to inform my employer if I drop expected level of insurance to a lower level, and expects me to waive all rights as an employee if on company time and there is an accident in my personal vehicle.

Does this sound invasive? Is this typical? Do you willingly give your employer information they don’t really need?

Yes, there is travel required as part of my job. Yes, I do prefer to drive my personal vehicle instead of the crappy company cars. But, the requirements of this document are “part of my continued employment” with the company, as though the document and my driving my vehicle have anything to do with my job performance and skills as a trainer and software analyst.

A big part of me bristles as this whole thing. I can accept that my employer needs to know certain things about me, but I don’t accept that they need to know everything about me.

I partially joked with a co-worker who was feeling the same way as I was yesterday that it won’t be long and they’ll be asking for our homeowner’s insurance policies since we telecommute several days a week.

I can see the future, and I don’t like it.

Whack-a-mole car

monopoly car piece

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Whack-a-mole can be kind of a fun game. But, after a while it gets rather tiring and you just wanna give up and rip the whacker off the game and just whack anything that moves.

I have gotten to that point with my teen daughter’s car. I am tired of playing whack-a-mole on maintenance issues that never seem to stop. I swear this car has become a “money pit” for repairs. Just when you think you have it fixed and it should be good for a while…not so much.

UGH!!

Anyone have a couple thousand dollars they wanna donate to just buy a different used car for her? Didn’t think so. I don’t either.

After having the alternator and battery replaced in the last two weeks, now we have an apparent coolant leak. It’s not running out onto the ground. It doesn’t appear that any hoses are busted. So, that leads me to believe it is probably going into places in the engine it doesn’t belong.

UGH!!

Did I already say that? Sorry. I am just not sure what else to say.

 

One eyed travel

adult anger art black background

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Weird thing happened yesterday. Weird enough that I can count the number of times over the last 35 year it has happened on one hand. It was a fluke really, but it made me uncomfortable.

I have worn soft contacts for a long time, like since about the 5th grade. Having 30+ years of experience, I kind of “have seen it all” when it comes to these things, which is tough because I am pretty much as blind as a bat without them.

Anyway, yesterday they were kind of bugging me so I decided I would clean then in my cube here at work. No biggie. I had solution and a tissue. I proceeded to clean the contact for my left eye (the worst of my two eyes) and then put it back in. I took out the right eye, the best of the two, and proceeded to clean it. No problem….except that when I went to put the lens back into my eye, it was missing part of the lens. HUH?

I looked in my palm and sure enough there was a piece of he contact stuck to my palm, in the contact solution. Weird! These weren’t old contacts. They new as of 6 days ago, so they weren’t worn out or old or anything. Why did it tear? It’s a mystery to me.

So, blind in one eye and just over 1.5 hours of work to go. What do I do? It’s cold and rainy up here in the PNW, so I didn’t really want to drive home, half blind, in the rainy dark. So, I left work and headed home. I am glad I didn’t wait. It was hard to have an hour commute with one eye that is basically is useless – light and shapes is about it.

So, that is a new thing to consider that I hadn’t before. I need a spare set at work. Glasses isn’t an option since they are coke bottles and I don’t wear them in public. When I travel, at least for more than a couple days, I take an extra set just in case. I have never needed the extras, but this definitely has me thinking that I need to consider all my options when I am away from home now.

Ever had anything unexpected like this alter they way you think or behave?

Self important?

automobile automotive autumn car

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I keep seeing these videos on social media and its getting rather irritating because everyone knows they shouldn’t do it, but they do it anyway. What videos am I talking about?

I keep seeing videos of people driving. They are holding their phone (you can tell because the image “floats” and you can see the dashboard) while they drive and showing you the road, road conditions, night sky, etc. There may be music in the background or they are narrating something that happened. Whatever.

In a day and age where it is illegal (at least in my state) to have a phone in your hand while driving, you would think that people would not put themselves or others in danger by holding a phone while they drive.

It leads me to believe that they believe they are more important than everyone else. “I’m going to disregard the law and safe driving habits so that I can post a video of me driving on the road. Because, after all, everyone is interested in what I am doing and they should probably know the road conditions.”

Guess what? You ain’t that important!

I don’t care that you are on an open road, in the middle of the night, with no other traffic around you. I don’t care what the road conditions are. I don’t care that you need to tell your followers something. I don’t care that you have a song you want us all to hear.

I don’t care.

Get over yourself and drive safely. Period.

Belly up

white vehicle in road close up photography

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When things go belly up, especially a car, it makes for a really unpleasant rush to make a decision.

We, meaning my X and I and my teen daughter, purchased a used car back in June. We knew it wasn’t a top notch used car, but we figured it would get us a year (hopefully two) before it would need to be replaced. Since I just talked about making decisions with the X a few days ago, you can imagine that the process of finding and deciding on a car the first time was a chore, to say the least.

Well, now the car has gone belly up and the repairs (at least by the first estimate) appear to be more than the car is worth. I, nor her step-dad, are mechanically inclined when it comes to engines so doing a repair ourselves isn’t really an option. I have friends that could possibly do the work, but since the car is 30 miles from my home that isn’t exactly a “Hey, can you pop over and do some repairs?” kind of situation.

So, we…are back to trying to figure out options. Besides high school, my daughter has a part-time job and is also doing running start (college while still in high school), so the need for her transportation is kinda high as public transit isn’t the greatest or most efficient (or safe?) in the area where she lives. Thus, the options are few.

Ugh! Why are children so expensive….?

Training presenters

gray and brown houses beside pathway

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Every been to a training where the presenters were good? Every been to one where they were bad…or really bad?

I didn’t post yesterday because I was at a training and I didn’t have the forethought to get something written ahead of time. So, I missed a day (that wasn’t a weekend) for the first time in over a year. How about that? Well, that isn’t really the important thing here.

Training presenters are an important part to having a successful training, not only from the organization doing the training but also for those there to get the training. I have been to a lot of bad trainings this week.

Yesterday, took the cake though. The morning session was good, but not great. The afternoon was simply painful. I can only describe it with the following analogy:

You are driving along a paved road, making relatively good time at near the speed limit. You are able to focus on the road ahead and see into the distance, making it possible to make adjustments to your understanding of the situation as it arises.

Suddenly, you leave the paved road only to find yourself driving on a pothole filled gravel road where you are bouncing around so violently that maintaining any sort of vision on the roadway becomes difficult at best. You are so jostled and frazzled that it is exhausting just to keep driving.

The training ends by pulling off to the side of the road and getting out of the car.

Get the picture? The morning was OK, but the afternoon had nothing about it that made it worthwhile.

I have complained about this presenter/trainer previously, but the organization keeps running the person out there anyway. And those of us trying to get trained, just keep suffering along the way.

Closer

gray airliner

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Getting to the airport is kind of a pain.

I wish I lived closer to the “main” airport in WA state. That would be Sea-Tac International Airport. It truly is the biggest transit hub of the western side of the state.

Actually, let me rephrase that since I live within 30 minutes of two regional airports. They both have expanded their service, but they have a very limited number of airlines that fly in/out of these locations so unless you are looking specifically for flights from those airlines you are out of luck and have to go to Sea-Tac.

Hence, I was at up long before the crack of dawn to get to the airport for a drop off. Long before as in I was up at 2:30am, left the house at 3:15am, arrived at the airport at 4:45am for a 5:45am flight. Thankfully that early in the morning doesn’t necessitate a two hour prior arrival for security lines.

But still…that’s early and I have a full day of work ahead of me on about 3.5 hours of sleep. Oh, did I mention I had two hours to kill before actually getting to work since I was so freaking early?

Gonna be a long day.