Saturday, March 28, 2009

If you don't ask you'll never know

All my credit cards charge a yearly "subscription" fee. When I was in good standing with them I would ask them to reverse the charge and they would do it.
When I started missing payments and paying late, and the fee came again I was embarrased to ask them to reverse the charge thinking they would say "no, you have a bad record".
So I was paying my citybank credit card , which is on an payment schedule, and saw that I was charged $70 for the subscription fee. I decided to drop off the embarrasement and go into their customer service area and ask them to reverse it. The worst that could happen was they would say no.
Well, to my surprise the lady there reversed the charge without blinking.
I now hit my head on the wall because I should've asked Credomatic and HSBC to reverse the charges too. I think it's too late now. But next time those fees come back I will ask them to reverse it even if I've missed payments recently.
So my advice is, always ask. If you don't ask you'll never know.
There's no charge for asking, and there's no charge for this blog.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Proud of the homeland

In previous trips I used to laugh or feel embarrased about finding products made in Honduras.
This time I had realized that I actually should be proud of the quality products that trained people can manufacture.
I bought this six pack of black socks. Very comfortable to wear to work since they are black and also good for weekends. AND they were very low priced at $4 for the whole a¿oack.
National pride is priceless..but this blog is free.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The conclusion of my trip to Phoenix

The last week in Phoenix went like a was work all day and go out at night with my friend, have dinner, look for housing (he's moving there soon) and head for the hotel late night.

Wednesday I was also asked by the Sales & Marketing VP to go to his house and fix some computer problems he had. It was a difficult decision for me. On one hand I could go and fix his stuff and he would probably pay me well, but on the other hand he might have something really messed up and I might not be able to fix it or take a lot of time.

In the end I asked for more specifics and hoped for the best. I went to his house in the evening. It wasn't so bad in the end. I was at his house for about one hour and fixed most of his problems. He gave me $75, which was more than the $50 that I was going to charge him if he asked me. After that I meet up with my friend back at our hotel and we went on with our night of eating and talking and drinking.

From the week before there was a cabling reoganization to do in the server room. My boss there had gotten quotes from a local company to do the job at $175/ hour for 8 hours. I volunteered to do it myself at night. There was some delay in getting his approval because the company might become a customer too but eventually that fizzled out and so he handed the job to me and told me that if I did it right he would give me a $100 bonus.

All during my trip I had been looking for something important I was thinking of buying but had some second thoughts about it. It was a Nintendo Wii game console. My friend and I looked everywhere, Best Buy, Circuit City, Ebay, Amazon, Fatwallet, Fry's, Walmart, Sam's,etc and it was priced at $249.95 everywhere. It was even higher on some of the bids on Ebay. Eventually we found it at $245.95 on Costo. I had been torn the whole trip where to get it there now or later back home at about $400 at it's priced here. I'm in frugal mode now so I went long hours pondering if spending that much money was worth it. Eventually I decided it was worth it and bought it along with a second controller and a recharging station, so the total was about $300 for everything. That was the largest purchase I made during my trip. The next biggest one was a $30 face cream for my wife.

Thrusday late afternoon we went off with my friend to get 48 3-feet patch cords at Fry's Electronics. We also picked up some plastic tie straps to wrap everything together. My friend was going to wait for me and do his expense report while I would go into the cable jungle and disconnect and connect cables here and there until it would look something more civilized. We had dinner near the office and headed back.

It was a long 4 hours of disconnecting, tracing, connecting, and then strapping large bundles of cable , and then smaller ones until it all was cleaned up. Then picking up the old 48 cables and cleaning up the mess on the floor. In the end I was tired and my hands hurt but it was a nice work if I say so myself. I took pictures of it and im attaching some to this post. I don't know where they will show up but I hope it is obvious which are the "before" and which are the "after" pictures. It might seem like something small but I was really proud of what I had done.

Friday morning came and my boss congratulated me on the cabling job and showed it to anyone that would go by the office. It was my friend's departure day back to MO so after working all morning we left at noon for the hour long drive to the airport. Picked up lunch on the way (I loved In and Out), dropped him off and went back to the office. By the time I was back it was 3pm so I started packing up my stuff at the office and saying my goodbyes to the people there.

I must have done some good work at the sales VP's house because a lady from the sales dept, actually she was also the daughter of one of the company owners, came and ask me to go fix her computer at her house too. It was a little bit easier but it took more time. I told her I would go there friday night, my last night in Phoenix.

My boss congratuted me once more and reiterated his desire for me to come work full time to Phoenix when (and I would add if) the company grows a lot bigger. He said he was very proud of my work and glad of having decided to hire me. It was hard for me to say goodbye. I really liked the city, the company and the people and working from here, it's almost the same but not quite.

The office manager told me that everything was settled with the car company so that I could drop off the car at the airport saturday morning and also check out from the hotel and they would take care of all of that on their end.

With my friend gone I had to drive myself to the sales lady's house and after missing a few turns I got to her place. She showed me in and told me where everything was.
She left her house for a bday party and left me there fixing his puter and the nanny would show me out. She gave me $50 even before I had finished, I hope she had a good impression on what I did on getting her stuff fixed because I couldn't see her again as I was leaving the next day.

Friday night I spent it packing up, making calls and reviewing the trip. The things I had bought, the money I had spent and the money I had earned.

Saturday morning started bad when the hotel told me they didn't have the company's credit card and so they would place the charges on my card. Later this was fixed and my card was reimbursed but that day I was a bit concerned about the car payment too. Turns out the car was in fact paid for and so I just got a receipt for it and went on to board my plane.

I must have been too anxious or the lack or sleep combined with taking my blood pressure meds too early or something, but I felt really ill on the plane ride to Houston. The symptoms seems like I had low blood pressure because I felt really sleepy but also a general discomfort all over my body. I couldn't see my face but I'm betting it was pale. After a strong cup of coffee and sodas I felt better. It's strange because it's the second time this happens to me. It happened on the return flight last year when I was visiting my friend, back then I thought it was exhaustion...and maybe this time it was too. The flight from Houston to Tegucigalpa went normally so again I think it had something to do with low blood pressure in the morning. Next time I will not take my BP med that early and I will try to sleep better.

So Saturday afternoon I got back to Honduras and to my awaiting family.

It was a great trip. I like going to the US and the return home is always bitter sweet. I do like travelling, specially for work because i'm earning money. Travelling for pleasure has become something not so atractive to me as I'm always thinking of how much everything costs. Good thing that I don't travel to the US for pleasure, at least not on my own money. I haven't said so yet but my friend in MO is truly an guardian angel for me. He's always looking for jobs for me and if he could he would get me to the US. The only thing that makes it difficult is that it's not only me that he would have to get over there.

The purchase of the Wii is something that previously wouldn't have bothered me much but now i'm more concious of my decision and of making the best of it. I am actively using it to sweat at least 15 minutes every day (that boxing is hard!!). My daughters and I play on in on weekends. Only my wife refuses to use it but she likes to watch us play golf as she likes the scenery.

That's the end of my trip.. it almost took me the same time to write as I spend travelling. I hope you enjoy the reading. Hopefully now I'll be able to get back to shorter posts.

The memories are forever..and this blog is free.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Phoenix Trip. Weekend at Springfield MO

I arrived friday night at freezing SGF, MO. Wearing jeans a polo shirt and a thin wool sweater. Good thing I didn't have to stand outside the airport waiting for my friend to pick me up. However I did went out just to get a feel of what 1 degree celcius felt like. IT IS COOOOLD! I mean not inmediately but soon my head and hands would ache from the cold. Strangely my torso and arms never did feel cold. That sweater is good!
So my friend picks me up and we head to his house to...well actually nothing because I only had carry on. My notebook backpack and a small bag with a couple of boxers, socks, a jean and a thicker polo shirt. So he called his friend and we went to eat sushi.
This was my first time eating sushi. And it's probably going to be the last. I ate octopuss, squid and tuna rolls. The octopuss was chewy and bland so I didn't like it. The squid was too sweet and too juicy. The real bad one was the tuna rolls. I mean the tun and the rice were cool but the seaweed was awful. It was too much flavor in the wrong direction. I ate one roll with the seaweed and then unrolled the rest to eat them. Note to self, skip the seaweed always!! I had some other thing called pink panther and that was ok, I don't know what it had but I tasted ok.
With a mildly satisified tummy we went on to my friend and his friend's hang out bar and talked with some locals. SGF main population is generally wealthier that the average american, but even they feel the economy crisis. I talk to a guy that buys and sells cars and he gave me great insight into his situation. He used to make a great living by charging $500 to look for a car. His service is apparently good because, unknown before to me, buying a car in the US is a pain in the ass. If you go to buy a car, salespeople hassle you and pass you to managers and plead and beg you to leave the lot with car under the worst possible financial conditions they can give you (means more money to them).
So instead, if you go to this guy you tell him what kind of car you are looking for, your price range and flexibility. Off he goes and he calls you when has some cars to show you from someone else who is selling a car that you might be interested in. This goes on until you find the car you like. He even helps you find financing for the purchase. He makes $500 from the buyer and $500 from the seller.
Well, he's had to sell his house and move into an apartment, not party so much, cut down on several things he had going and he doesn't even have kids or a wife! He was going to buy a bigger tv and he had the cash for it, but he is so concerned right now that he stopped that purchase. He says he might be able to live this way a few more months but he is very worried that he might have to look for another line of work. Specially since he is specialized in luxury cars.
All thru the weekend, the economy was a main topic of conversation among the people there. Not only about the problems but also about the opportunities. Every time I go to the US I feel like I have all the opportunities in the world that I don't have in Honduras. In Honduras if a business doesn't work for you in Tegus or SPS, you have very few other places to go and make it. The US is so huge that you can have a very specialized business and still atract enough nationwide customers to make it a good source of income. Specially so when the USPS, and Fedex and UPS and others make deliveries so easy and you can set your business online relatively easy because almost everyone in the US has a computer, has internet access and has a a credit card. The total opposite is in Honduras so getting to your customers here is much more difficult and the payment and delivery options even more so.
I had to take a call from home and I went out to escape the bar's noise. Wow! 15 minutes out in the open really froze me. I could tell my wife or the girls to hurry up just because I was cold so I was out there pacing back and forth, covering my hands with my sweater sleeves and moving the phone to the cold ear every now and then. When I got back in my glasses frosted on me.. funny. It was time to do something about my clothing.
I was wondering how I would do to protect myself from the cold without having to spend money for winter clothes for only three days. Well I didn't have to worry. My friend was ready for me and had a...a...a....well I can only remember the word parka but I don't know if it's the right word in english. It was a heavy piece of clothing that was lined with wool inside and a hood. It worked very well. My hands were uncovered and so they hurt every time I would stay outdoor for more than 5 minutes but I could put them in the pockets and get some comfort.
The only cold weather item of clothing I bought was a cap like the one that rappers wear on their head. The hood limited my visibility at times. We looked long and hard to get a cheap one at Walmart for $2 instead of the NASCAR branded ones for $15.
For my friend and I it was mostly a weekend for relaxing, as much as I could on such a cold place, enjoying dining with him and his family and helping move some of his stuff into storage. That was almost my way to pay for the ticket, quite the workout to haul furniture and a portable electric generator up to a storage area in the second floor of a building. By the second trip I was already shedding off the parka!
Monday morning we reported for the daily standup conference call and worked from his house almost all day as I would work from here. Even though he was inviting me to all meals and beverages I felt it was right to invite him and his family (wife and daughter) at least once. Now I don't remember were we went the time that I invited them, I think it was Taco Bell because I had hunger for it and I had passed it on to them (NO Taco Bell in Honduras!!), so I spent about $30 on that I think. Sure I could've been very frugal and just let him pay for everything but I really felt bad to be a total burden on him so I paid that one meal for them.
Monday evening we got ready for our trip back to Phoenix and he let me drive his car to the airport. He got a great deal on the Mercedes he has, and yet I still prefer the Toyota Siena he also owns (and that costs more than the Benz!!).
The ride back was uneventful as usual, and as we made our way to my rental car we called our houses to let them know that once again we were ok. We drove back to our hotel and then we went out for drinks and playing pool, which is just an excuse to have something to do while we drink and talk.
I have very few friends, and most of them don't live in Tegus. So when I'm with my friends, it's like a relief valve to just go out every night we can, drink some (either beef or just soft drinks) and talk about everything. It's one of the things that it's bitter sweet about comming back to Tegus, that I go back again to a set routine. Particularly so because i'm trying to keep my money for as long as I can.
So that's how that weekend ended.
On a fun note. Remember that I had packed only a couple of clothes for my weekend trip? and remember that I left my large suitcase at the office? well I had totally forgotten about that. So there I was monday night with two pairs of jeans and two shirts that I had worn alternatively friday, saturday, sunday and monday, and wondering what to wear to work tuesday. Good thing that the office dress code is VERY casual.
On a funnier note!!! Tuesday came around and we worked all day at the office and I FORGOT MY SUITCASE at office one more night! ....
The conclusion of my trip will come soon...
The cold weather and the snow was free to enjoy, glad I had the experience, happier that I could get away from it quickly...and this blog is also free.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Phone Unlocking and MagicJack

Hey there!
I'm back on both jobs which means that I'm doing two or three things at once. So I know I still have to continue describing the money stuff of my trip to Phoenix which has turned to my trip to Springfield,MO.
However, from what I recently wrote I had someone post a comment that I thought it was best to be shared with all of you and responded that way so all could benefit from my personal experience.
Thank you ALL for all your comments. Here it is :

Question? How do u unlock the phone? If you want to share that is. I enjoy your adventures. Also, previously you mentioned the magicjack, are they safe? After i read your entry I went to look for them. There were articles that claimed how unsecure they are. Can u please go over. Thanks in advance

Ok, so how do I unlock the phone. First of all to make things clear, unlocking a cellphone means touching deep configuration in a cellphone that is used on one cellular company so that it can be used on any other cellular company. That is given that the other company uses the same technology. For example Verizon phones can be unlocked but since they use CDMA tecnology they can't be used with other operators that don't use that tecnology (like all the operators in Honduras).
When I purchased my ATT phone I knew I had to buy a GSM phone if my future plan was to unlock it for use with a Honduran carrier (haven't unlocked it yet). So I had a phone that uses the same technology, but then there's also the matter of what frequency they use.
I don't remember the exact frequencies but I know that there are four frequencies that are commonly used for cellphone service. Most phones now can operate on all four frequencies or bands as they are also called. That's why those phones have the labeling "quad-band" somewhere in their documentation. A quad-band phone eliminates the guesswork of wondering if the phone will operate on this or that operator's frequency.
I am not sure but I think the phone I bought is quad-band. If it's not and I can't make it work, well too bad for me but it already served it's purpose. Unlocking it here is an option i'm considering only because it will be disconnected from ATT before I get to go back to Phoenix.  Actually even after unlocking I could still using it on ATT but I know that next year if I take it, the sim will have been disconnected and buying just a sim card is not an option with ATT as far as as I know.
SO, the main question "How do you unlock the phone?". Well in Honduras you take the locked phone to one on many many cellphone repair shops and for usually $5 to $10 they do their voodo magic and unlock it for you. Once unlocked you buy a sim card from the cellular operator you want to use and put on the phone and off you go to talk. Now this can be done in Honduras because cellular companies here do sell just the sim card for just a couple of dollars, in other countries they don't do that so you have to buy a whole phone to get a sim so it doesn't make sense to go thru the whole unlocking thing if you have to BUY another phone anyway.
When I came home I tried putting a Honduran sim card on the ATT phone and when it powered on it had a message on the screen that read "incorrect or invalid sim". I put the ATT sim back into the phone and it works well. Actually it just powers up without errors because obviously there is no ATT signal here.
Since that phone was only $15, with the unlocking here and a new sim it's almost reaching a point that it would be better to get a new phone here. I actually don't need more phones, but it might be nice to have a spare phone device in case any phone in the house goes dead and the sim is still working.
One more thing, there's a couple of US cellular operators that use very specially branded software on the phones they use , like Net10 and Tracphone. Those phones are totally useless in Honduras, well except for spare parts. Their original factory software is not there and so they can't be unlocked because there is no lock, there is no door..etc. it's a totally different beast.
On to the next question. "Previously you mentioned the MagicJack, are they safe?". Safe means a lot of things. I won't go on to mention the tons of ways that safe can be interpreted. I will just say that the operation of the MagicJack was safe in that I was able to make calls all the time I had a proper internet connection. I even changed my number to a Phoenix area code number to help my relationship with the company I work for there.
So far no weird software has been downloaded on the computers (plural) in which i've used the MagicJack. It hasn't stopped working. I haven't had to use techie powers to get it to work. At the most i've had to reboot my computer one time to get it to work. TO ME it's been worth the purchase. I know people that bought it and don't have the appropiate bandwith and can't use it , but that's not the MJ's fault.
Could someone have been listening to my calls, theoretically yes because MJ probably doesn't encrypt the voice, but what would they do with me saying "Hi, how are you?, where are you? i'm here at such and such. How are the kids? ,etc etc" ? I wouldn't like for someone to listen in on my calls, but I feel that it's such a far fetched posibility that is as equally far fetched as someone tapping in on a regular phone line, that I don't worry about that.
HOWEVER, when I was doing research to buy the MagicJack I did read that some not technical issues with the Company itself are not as good. Their 30 day free trial offer is kind of strange if you use a debit card because they take the money out on day one. Same deal when I used the credit card. I didn't return the thing so I don't know personally how hard it would be to get a refund, but honestly I guess it's the Honduran in me or my time would just not be worth it to go on hours and hours with them to get back my $50 or so. Probably less if they don't refund shipping and handling. I guess if I had bought it at Best Buy the refund might be easier but there would be no 30 day free trial there.
Also i've read that customer support is crappy. That they take a long time to answer. They go thru scripts, making you do things over and over again, and they give you the run around, until you complain enough days or weeks that they pass you on to guys that apparently do know how to fix stuff. Personally I haven't had to use their customer support because the thing has been working very well. I've read their FAQ and that was all I needed. I think after getting the Magicjack they upgraded my software once and had better features on it, included a "fix" option that I haven't had to use.
So on the operational side of things the MJ is safe, on the purchase side it's kinda safe unless you want to return it, and on the customer support is about as bad as some other companies out there but worst than most of the more famous ones. Then again as low priced as it is, it's kinda hard to complain if they take more time to take your call than say, your local phone service provider.
That was a long non money post. The advice on it is free, as so is this blog.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cutting the phone bill

Just a quick note about my landline phone bill.
I had a phone with "gold plan" on it. It meant that for about $25/month I could call 2500 minutes to other Hondutel numbers in Tegucigalpa. I took that plan way back when internet was mostly accessed via dialup connection.
Nowdays i've noticed that I'm not using almost any of those minutes. Calls from the house are rare and those calls that are made are to "sub-operator" providers like Multifon or Telemas, and as such are not included in my free minutes.
So today after I paid that phone bill one last time I went to Hondutel's customer service office and changed my plan to the basic one that goes for about $3 with "only" 100 minutes included.
They tried to woo me into staying with the gold plan but when they looked at my call pattern they agreed with me.
They also wanted me to try out their cellphone service but their only advantage is unlimited textmessages and low price to landlines. But who calls landlines nowdays? I rarely do, at least not from my cellphone.
So tack that savings that will kick in next month to my effort to owe less money and lower my bills. I hope you agree with me that this was a good decision. I do hope so because the gold plan is no longer available and so now that i'm out of it I can't go back.
I have less free minutes now but all of this blog is free.

Trip to Phoenix days 2 3 and 4 and friday trip to Springfield

My first day at the job in Phoenix started with free breakfast (all my breakfasts during my trip where free at the hotel). Even my boss had breakfast there when he came to pick me up and he liked it. We had lunch together too and all my lunches were paid by him. So I didn't spend any money on that either. That first day was my deep-end dive into driving alone in the US.
My boss requested a car rented for me and at the end of the day we went to pick it up. I was hoping it would include a nagivation system but it didn't. So the next best thing was a big paper map of Phoenix and I was sent on my way. I had little trouble finding my way back to the hotel although stuff was in construction or repair all over the place. I did had to slow down to read some signs and reach my hotel.
After dropping my stuff at the hotel, I went to a nearby mall to buy a book for a coworker from Honduras (she had given me the money beforehand), and there was a Walmart next to the bookstore. I went in and bought $1 and $2 items for my girls and my wife, stuff like body lotions, blouses, shirts. I got some socks for me (Made in Honduras!!) and got my dinner there too. Kept the dinner receipt to get it refunded later. Oh and I got a cellphone too. The cheapest I could buy was one for $15 with no minutes on it, had to also include a $15 recharge card. The good thing about it is that all calls to AT&T numbers were free, convenient since most of the people I would call in the US had AT&T service. The drawback is that there was a $1 service fee per day for that. All other calls were 10 cents each.
It took me about an hour to decide on buying the phone, my boss didn't push for it but recommended I get one. It was a total of $30 for the phone and the first $15 of funds. Comming from Honduras where phones include a ton of minutes when you buy them I wasn't happy spending that much money on a phone for two weeks. Eventually I decided that I might not have an emergency but that if I did I would really like to have a phone with me to call my boss or my friend. And I got it from AT&T because I knew I could later unlock it and use it with any of carriers in Honduras and because of the free calls to all AT&T customers.
That was tuesday feb 24, wednesday and thrusday were pretty much the same except I didn't go out to buy more stuff as I had already bought most of what the girls and wife had asked me to buy.
On friday I was to fly out to my friend's house in Springfield, MO and return monday night. The original plan was for the both of us to fly there. But since he had lost his flight on monday he stayed there. First there was the issue of the car, then the other issue was transportation to the Mesa Airport which even on the map looked really far away. It was all solved when the company told me to keep the car over the weekend and just park it at the airport and keep using it next week. It was cheaper than paying a shuttle over there.
The night before I had printed my boarding pass and had read that there was an extra fee for checked luggage (my friend had bought the ticket for me, he's a really good friend plus the tickets were relatively cheap). So I packed a few clothes on my notebook's backpack and on a small carry-on bag I had brought with me and left my big luggage  at the office. I had thought about leaving my luggage in the trunk of the car since it had nothing of big value
So at noon on friday, after making sure I had done all the urgent stuff for the day I started my trek to Mesa Aiport. It was about an hour long drive and I was still within the larger Phoenix metro area!! I arrived with plenty of time to park and make my way to the gate. I bought the expensive food at the airport and took it with me on the plane. It was interesting to see how many elder adults are on those flights. It's very different from flights to or from Honduras where most of the people are either young or middle aged adults. I guess it represents the balance of the population age of both countries.
Interesting flight. There was no music or video onboard, and they sold food and drinks but the funny thing is they also raffled out stuff, you could buy tickets and participate. They did two raffles. I didn't buy any tickets but found it amusing just to see them do it.
I arrived at Springfield way ahead of time. called my friend and waited about half an hour for him to show up. It was very close to freezing point and that was the coldest weather I had experienced so far. I had a light wool sweater which worked really well in keeping my torso warm, but my head would get really cold and I felt pain in my hands after spending a few minutes outside the terminal. It was going to be only a weekend so purchasing cold weather clothing was going to be a interesting decision to make. Specially since there was snow forecasted for later that night. It would be my first experience with snow.
Up to then I think I had done well in spending the least possible during my stay. The cellphone was the only thing I felt was something I should've gotten for a lower price but after reviewing other stores (like best buy and fry's electronics) I couldn't find anything cheaper.
The weather was cold and there was a breeze, and this blog is free.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The savings plan

I will tell you more about my phoenix trip.
But now I wanted to comment back on a comment left by LW. She wrote that I should have a savings plan and use only for life-or-death emergencies.
Well I have set up the deposit of 800 lempiras every quincena but I had easy access to the debit card for that account. Today I was telling about this to a very close friend of mine that I trust with my life. So I decided to give my debit card to my friend and I would keep the PIN in my wallet. So now I have to call and meet my friend to have access to the card which will just make it easier for me not to touch that money.
What do you think? I think it did something good. Again I thrust this friend with my life.
Friends are priceless but this blog is free

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Recap of phoenix trip day 1

So much for shorter, more frequent post huh ?
I've gotten several comments from several posts. I'm happy to say that I have changed my payroll instructions to have 800 lps sent to my emergency fund account every quincena (15 days) instead of every month.
Now to talk about my trip. It was very enlightening in many ways, specially in economics, both hopes and troubles.
Since I have a lot to talk about I will just write it in days as I was there so I will write trying to remember when I did want.
First day (monday):
Travel from Honduras to Houston. Paid exit fee of thirty something dollars. Kept receipt for refund. Had $500 in my pocket for emergencies and for immigration questions.
While waiting in Houston for my connecting flight to Phoenix, I wanted to call home to tell everyone that I had made it ok (and had passed immigration control too). Also I wanted to call my friend in MO to let him know I was on schedule to arrive in Phoenix that night. I could either buy a prepaid card or use my laptop and some wifi service to dial using my magicjack.
Well Houston airport charges a fee for using their internet service. That's rare in these days as most airports just give it away for free. Tegus charges too but i don't need to use it. Fortunately I had my priority pass card, given to me for free with my Credomatic Platinum card. Just a couple of weeks ago they had sent me the new one (again no charge, just for being a platinum member, although a bad one).
So with that card I went into Continental's President's club lounge and used their free wifi to call home, my friend in MO and my boss in Phoenix. Also enjoyed their free soft drinks, chips, cookies, etc. No need to buy a snack, hehe.
Arrived at Phoenix to away my friend to pick me up. Used the free wifi there to call him (again thanks magicjack). He says he is still in MO because he was late to the airport. So a quick change of plans and unexpected expenses. Had to buy dinner at the airport since it was 10pm already and my friend said the hotel had no restaurant and nothing close by to dine. about $10 for a sandwich, fried and a soft drink. Then a cab ride to the hotel $50. Both hopefully will be reimbursed.
At hotel they asked for my credit card, which I was glad to have it available for this trip. I gave that one and it was ok (I guess they freeze some funds for the duration of my stay). Called my boss (again with the MJ) and he would pick me up tuesday morning.
Well, the calls were free and so is this blog.

Friday, March 6, 2009

the first week in Phoenix

I'm already finishing the second and last week of my stay in Phoenix. However I have been very busy with work. This is some of the stuff that happened during the first week
Some interesting things:
My friend missed his plane into Phoenix. So I had to pay $50 cab fare to my hotel. I will be reimbursed for that. He will come in until next week. Actually i'm travelling to his town from Phoenix over the weekend to spend the time on his town. I SAW SNOW LIVE FOR THE FIRST TIME, woho!
a guy at the office wants me to go check his home puter and pay me money to do so. I certainly will look at his stuff.
I'm putting in good hours working. I'm not sleeping much because I end up doing stuff at the hotel too.
The girls and wife want some things. I broke down and spent money on some things. Most of them are $2, $3 each. I will try to detail soon.
I like Phoenix, Arizona, except for the dryness.
This trip was free for me, and so is this blog.