Sunday, July 25, 2010

The air is heavy, heavy as a truck We need the rain to wash away our bad luck

I suppose it's time for the rest of the story. I guess I'm running about a week behind with that but oh well. Where I last left off, I was back in Louisville after the whirlwind desert adventure.

And as I am when I'm happiest it seems, I was in motion yet again. Up to Chicago I went for some birthday/block party action. It's weird seeing the "little" cousins all grown up and responsible (mostly) adults. To summarize, there was much eating, drinking, and being merry. I do envy my cousins on one small front. I suppose the consolation for growing up in a place with dark figid winters is you have a lot of variety around. Their friends all seem to be from a melting pot of ethic backgrounds. Something that the 1980's didn't grace suburban (or even rural) Georgia with. It's a great thing to have such diversity in food, ideology, and language around. I hope they realize how much that rocks.

So, I'm back to real life. It sucks. This whole working thing needs to be done with. I'm still waiting for the call for a couple jobs. Mainly, I'm hoping my application for a lottery winner position comes through soon. I'm not real hopeful though, since I'm not filling out applications as often as most jobseekers are... ok so I never buy a ticket. I'm sure that's not improving the odds in my favor. But I'm most deserving I think.

The other job, well... no official word has come down. No messages, no emails, my status online still says "Under Review". After a supervisor offered to write an email espousing my virtues, he only got a return of "Thanks." (Long story short, he knows the hiring manager from industry conferences and workgroups... the dispatcher community has about 2 degrees of separation between every dispatcher in the world apparently).

Unofficially, I emailed the other two guys who interviewed to check on their news. Turns out, one has been offered a position (I'm working under the assumption that of the two openings, one was filled by the Emirati girl under "hire locals first" policy). However, he seemed less than enthused at the pay, not so sure that both he and his wife can live comfortably. Given our previous conversations about salary requirements, I'm apparently the high priced one.

As a coworker put it though, and I'm paraphrasing, "I've your getting a prostitute, do you want to gt the cheapest girl on the corner of do you want to spend the money for something more exclusive?" So, that makes me the a high dollar ho. But like a good high $$$ ho, I got hella skills and I'd rock their world. (Disclaimer, I really have no experience with cheap or expensive prostitutes beyond window browsing in Amsterdam and cannot make comparisons of their skill sets. But based on the looks, the expensive ones were way more impressive than the budget options).

Still, it's a little disappointing. I was really warming up to the idea of living outside the country. I mean its miserably hot and humid in Louisville at the moment, at least Dubai would have the "coolness" factor to make it more bearable. I know their are a lot of differences and quirks. I'm sure there's plenty I have no idea about, but thought it would be fun for a time. Mind you it's not over just yet, but my optimism has waned to the level of close to nil. I've been a little mopy about the whole thing the last couple days. It's amazing how many people have told me if they had the same option, they'd run. But are trapped by families and seniority with an employer they really don't much care for (to put it mildly).

So, I'm feeling a bit trapped in Louisville at the moment. I suppose it could be worse, I could be trapped in Hoboken. Add to that I seem to be broke, I guess the unplanned expenditure for a new suit and matching accoutrements for the interview . It would have been cheaper to have takent he trip to the south of Spain and Morocco. And imagine how much fun Spain would have been during the World Cup!!! If for no other reason I should be offered the Dubai job at my salary needs as a consolation prize.

Other than that, I'm off to DMB on Tuesday (yes again!!). They aways seem to put me in a good mood when I'm in a funk. It's a little bittersweet as this is my last date with premarriage Grace. My fake girlfriend becomes my fake... adulteress?? I'm not sure how that all works out. I am sure though that it'll be a fun wedding weekend in the mountains of Georgia. I may even drop in on some family while I'm there (and I know we talked about topshelf drinking supplies, but I may can find a supply of white lightning... if anyone wants to really feel bad the next morning.) I'm definitely looking forward to it.

I have this suspicious feeling about my laptop. Not like it's going to rise up in the night and strangle me, but the charging has been a bit erratic of late, and seems to be getting warmer and warmer during use these days. I'm really not i a position to buy a new one. This one has worked well for 3 years now (and I know that's better average than my last 3 or 4 computers) but I really don't need to go out buying new macbooks, but life with out a laptop would be impossible. Lets hope this one lasts a while more without issue.

That's about it for now, I'm working on the rest of the weeks schedule. I'm not sure yet if I'm gonna have next weekend off. I'll keep my loyal fans posted on my whereabouts ove the next couple weeks, and any changes in my employment status... as remote as it may be of happening.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars

(note: this one is long, it's late, and I'm not bothering to even attempt to proofread)

I'm approaching 3 weeks or so since I last pontificated. It seems like so long ago. Yet, nothing too much has changed in my world. Well, not yet. So, a little update on what's been going on.

I ended up having a nice long span of time off, and took to the road to head south. I spent the first part of my vacation back home. It amazes me how much money I can spend on a simple trip home. I think I can better money manage on a vacation to Europe. Mostly because I use mass transit, stay in hostels, and don't have the need to buy a suit, ties, and shirts. There is the other issue that I roll like a straight up baller when I'm in the ATL. I spent time with almost everyone I hoped to, though it can be elusive to meet up with everyone. And Jersey was once again a gracious hot to my shenanigans, and we had lots of nice conversations. There were too many nights out till 3 or 4 in the morning... well, not really. And of course the time spent with Tanjoe's enjoying soccer and beer, dinner outings with Brian and ET, dates to Brick Store and Front Page news in midtown with hotties (different ones at that!), some adult time (ie no child in tow) with Mags, and of course a little wedding planning with Gracie. It was a great time!

And then I took off.

I spent the Fourth of July in transit. I headed out that morning to hop a jumpseat to Houston. The flights looked a little fullish so I went earlier to make sure I could make the connection, the 6:55pm nonstop to Dubai. I spent some quality airport appreciation time at IAH, and then headed down to check in. I was pleasantly surprised when they stuck a "Business Priority" tag on my bag and handed me a boarding pass for seat 8K. That's business class beotches! And then the spoiling began.

The next 15 hours or so i spent in a seat roughly the size of my first apartment, and way better furnished. From my lie flat window I could chose any number of entertainment options from the onboard system, form the houndreds (literally) of movies to the hundreds of TV shows (including the 20 episodes of Friends!!!) to the almost endless musical selections. ALl displayed on a 21 inch or so screen. Oh and then there's the flight monitoring system and the live video cams the point forward and down. Dinner was served by a lovely blonde Australian, and started with canapes (which as best I can tel are various olives), followed by an appetizer of smoked salmon tartare. For an entree I chose the beef filet topped with beef jus and served with creamy spinach, baby carrots, and red skinned mashed potatoes (among the other choices were roasted chicken breast, seared cod fillet, or broccoli and gorgonzola ravioli ). All accompanied by seemingly never empty glass of Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion 2003 and a selection of fresh breads. For dessert, I steered away from the sweets (though both the Cherry and apple pie and the lemon curd torte looked amazing), I instead selected a choice of cheeses and washed it down with a glass of Quinta do Noval 2004 port. After dinner was finished, somewhere over the Canadian Maritimes, I took 2 tylenol PMs, adjusted the seat to full recline and zonked out. During diner, the lights in the cabin gradually dimmed though some pleasing shades of purples and pinks untill it was dark, and only individual reading lights and the "starlight" shining from the ceiling provided the only illumination.

I woke up just past Bucharest and groggily settled in for a crossing of the Black Sea into Turkey. I watched a few episodes of Friends. I was feeling a little disappointed that I missed the "midnight snack" choices of assorted sandwiches (which included beef and horseradish in a crispy roll, smoked salmon and cucumber, chicken Caesar wrap, and cheese and pickle rolls) or the hto selections of crawfish gumbo, alfredo tagliatella (with veggies), or chicken dopiaza. If you haven't figured it out by now I kept the menus :-)

Somewhere over Turkey breakfast was served. Can you tell there's a lot of food involved here??? So I had a tasty breakfast of scrambled eggs with fresh chives ans sauteed mushrooms, hash browns, and chicken sausage. For those interested, the other choices included waffles or masala omelette. All served with fresh fruit and yogurt. The breakfast concluded as we passed through Iranian airspace and crossed the Persian Gulf. After hours aloft, we arrived in DUbai at about 1800 local time (the day after we left). After quickly clearing immigration (yay I got a passport stamp for once) and getting to the baggage claim just in time to see my bag come out first onto the carousel.

When i stepped out of the spotless terminal, it hit me. The heat. I'd guess it was about 100 degrees out and 80% humidity or so. I found my hotel shuttle and headed to the arranged accommodations. The company had arranged for a room, complete with meals provided, at a small hotel near the airport. I settled in, and went back to sleep. I woke early (jetlag le blows) for my 6 AM breakfast and 6:30 shuttle to headquarters. I thought I'd be the only suit clad individual in the breakfast line, but turns out ton of pilots are there for interviews. Ive never seen such a well dressed breakfast crowd. We all piled on the bus, and severel suggestions of ways to approach the interview (and even the sim checkride haha) were offered. We headed into the recruitment area, then subsequently given visitor badges and taken for the psychometrics. After another test of shapes and patterns (some sort of logic crap), we were given a time to return for our results and conversation with the psychologists. It's about this time I met the other three interviewees.

There was a Austrian gentleman from DHL, and Dutchman from KLM, and a young Emirati lady who had recently finished her dispatch course. The guys and I adjourned for coffee and to chat before our appointments, mine being first. Over coffee we got a feel of each others backgrounds and both the guys seemed very nice. While waiting around (and the other guys going outside to smoke.. I swear they didn't use lighters, just held the cigarettes in the sun and they lit), the Manager of Flight dispatch found us and offered a tour of the facility.

He was very nice and very knowledgeable, and showed us around the 7th floor operations center (with a view of DXB) and the crew checkin/briefing areas. After th manager bought me another cup of cappuccino, I headed to my psycho interview (a slight bit wired on caffeine). The dispatch manager was nice enough to give us a sort of preview to the rest of the process.

After my talk with the psychologist, I was done for the day and headed back to the hotel. I met up with one of the other candidates (the Austrian) for a beer and food. And by 7 pm I was back in my room asleep. I woke up about 1 AM and couldn't get back to sleep and pretty much whittled away the night (listening to the jet engines firing up across the street)before I headed for breakfast and my 9 AM interview.

The interview went so so. I felt I could have done better and was a little disappointed in some of the results. But I may have just spent too much time dwelling on the parts I could have done better on the 16 hour flight home. After I was done, I walked out and ran into the Dutchman, who had been told to report at 10 in error. SO we talked about the interviews and the day before. While we chatted, the Austrian came out... looking a bit distressed himself. We talked about the interviews some more then headed back to the hotel. After a change of clothes we met up and headed into town. He had ever been to Dubai before, so we went to a couple of malls (which individually were the size of the town I grew up in), checked out the Burj Khalifa (world's tallest building), the indoor ski slopes, down to the Marina area, and back to the hotel.

Did I mention it was hot?? 114 that day.

After returning to the hotel, I crashed again.. but this time I woke up and headed down to the bar to sheer Espana on against Deuschland! Had a few beers and dinner, and the a short sleep again before catching a bus to the airport for a 9 AM flight. I checked in online on the lobby computers and was happy to see I was in business class on the 16 hour flight back. After dooing some browsing in the ridiculous duty free area at the aiport, I went to climb into my cocoon for the trip back. I was met at my seat by a lovely Asian woman who offered up a glass of OJ, apple juice of champagne. So.. 9 AM goes well with a glass of Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut. After take off, we headed north towards Kuwait and into Iraq. Breakfast was served, this time a choice of scrambled eggs with grilled chicken and pepper cubes, roesti potatoes and turkey bacon; Masala omelette; or ricotta french toast. Once again I had the eggs... though the ricotta french toast was tempting. Again, fresh fruit, yogurt, and fresh breads and croissants were accompanying.

After watching a movie (Green Zone) and an episode of Friends (it's scary how excited I got over the Friends option!) I reclined and napped for a few hours. Somewhere over Central Europe, I had the midnight snack of sandwiches. As we coasted out of the British isles, I decided to check their supply of Jack Daniels for quality. As I watched another movie (Up in the Air) munching on assorted nuts (from a small bowl, no bags here), I double checked the Jack Daniels. I was also impressed that the flight attendants always referred to me as Mr Dees. I know, it's my name.. but they knew it! After the movie, I took another nap and woke up in time to freshen up before the dinner was served. Again, canapes were served, then an appetizer of lobster and crab timbale (chosen instead of the Arabic mezze). The main course this time was pepper spiced chicken, an Indian dish with cumin flavored rice and fresh veggies. The other options: blackened beef, cream cheese capellini, or grilled salmon. Anyone who wants the full descriptions can email me. The meal was washed down with an 2007 Erioca Riesling. This time I let my sweet tooth choose the dessert, and it chose well. The cappuccino brownie dome with lightly spiced chocolate sauce beat out the wild berry and orange frangipane.

Again, through the flight the lighting as adjusted to full darkness (with stars) and gradually brought up with orange and yellow shades to make it feel like dawn had come. We landed in Houston, and the most unpleasant part of the trip began... US customs. After standing in line for an hour, I claimed by bag and headed to find a way back to ATL. Continental was kind enough to provide with a me ride back home, and a deadheading captain was kind enough to take his confirmed coach seat and give me the cockpit jumpseat. (He originally had vlunteered to take the jumpseat to give up his seat for a nonrev). Back in Atlanta, back to Jerseys and I was out. I woke up Friday morning, met Maggie (and her small miracle Jack) for coffee and gifted him his first international souvenir.

Then i was off to Louisville. Not a bad drive until Nashville traffic snarled me, only to be followe by interstate closures in Kentucky for accidents. The detour wasn't moving much quciker, but thanx to Steve Jobs and the iPhone I navigated through some middle of nowhere places and made it back home in 8.5 hours.

After a quick trip that weekend to Chicago for a couple birthdays and block party (nmore on that later) I made it back to Louisville.

I'm still not feeling optimistic about the whole job thing. I'm not sure if the money is going to meet my requirements, or even if I did well enough to get offered the job. I occasionally am waffling on if it's somehting I really want to do, but the not knowing the option is driving me nuts. As of last report, I haven't heard from the other 2 guys that they have been made an offer (we exchanged email addresses, it's always good to know people at other airlines around the world). So here I wait... I do know I'm ready to move on from here, for various reasons... the least of which is I think the furlough monster will rear it's head again in a few months.

SO, we'll see. That's about it for tonight, this has gone on long enough. No ig trips planned for the near future. I do have DMB in Atlanta coming up, and then the Gracathon wedding spectacle... which I'm very much looking forward!!!