Sunday, September 18, 2016

Night Court was a good time.

There's a channel I can pull in from Buffalo called Laff which shows reruns of Night Court.

I loved this show when I was 10. Loved it. And when our grade 6 class went on a field trip (through this program that taught us about drugs and whatnot) to the local courthouse, I was expecting a whole lotta similar wackiness!

(Turns out it was boring as hell. And, my mom, who was a chaperone on the trip, saw a person she grew up with appear before the judge. Turns out it was a "wrong place at the wrong time" kind of situation and she was ultimately cleared.)

And, watching it now... sure, it's a fairly one-dimensional 1980s sitcom. You know that Dan Fielding is going to make a licentious remark. You know that Christine Sullivan is going to be the morally-upstanding girl next door. You know that Roz is going to be sassy, Bull is going to be dumb, and Harry is going to be wacky.

But, shoot, not everything has to be at the level of sophistication of, say, Arrested Development. You don't have to have callbacks and hidden meanings and hip references. Comedy can be straightforward, unapologetically so. Just relax, turn your brain off, and watch Dan's briefcase open up as his blow-up doll accidentally inflates herself.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Aeroplan and Pearson Airport can lick my nutsack.

School's been back for two weeks so, naturally, what am I doing on a Friday night?

Planning my March Break vacation, naturally!

Namely, I'm trying to figure out the added twist of buying a flight using my Aeroplan miles, which I've been accumulating for the past year and a half or so.

This would be my tenth annual trip, having started this little tradition in 2007. Every year I do the research and try to figure out where it'd be best to fly from, and to. My basic options are this:

From: Toronto, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Flint, Detroit
To: Tampa, Orlando, St. Pete

Niagara Falls and St. Pete have small airports, and the only noteworthy airline that flies into or out of both is, coincidentally, Allegiant Air. I'll check to make sure I'm not missing anything, but it's never worked out (and their prices aren't that great anyway). Similarly, Buffalo has never really worked out; they don't really have direct flights anywhere, and while there are flights every day, the timing just hasn't been that good.

I don't mind a drive to southwest Ontario and a bit beyond, which puts Flint and Detroit in play. It's been a while since I've flown into or out of Detroit, but they do have a decent selection of flights. Flint has been very good to me: it's small, so security takes very little time; parking is cheap and there's a shuttle van that takes you right to the terminal; and whatever airline is flying (first AirTran, then it was bought by Southwest) has managed to even occasionally have direct flights to Florida.

Not to mention, of course, the HUGE price difference in flying out of a US airport, in comparison with Toronto. Holy shit is Pearson expensive. Absolutely bonkers.

About Pearson... it's gigantic, you go through customs before even getting on the plane (which means you have to get there extra-extra early), and I mentioned the price. The pros, of course: it's close, I can take public transit there, and the flights to/from Florida are at juuuuuust the right time for me. I mean, it's really, really tempting to just to say "fuck it, YYZ it is."

Now, the added twist of Aeroplan. I switched to an Aeroplan-miles credit card -- complete with a $125 annual fee -- because TD's Drivers Rewards Visa card was an increasingly shitty deal. This card comes with TD travel insurance, which is better than what I get through work (where you pay out-of-pocket then get reimbursed; TD's takes care of it all up-front, and you don't pay a dime). Plus, you get these nifty Aeroplan miles, and look at all the fun flights you can take!

...except that there are two levels of flights you can spend your miles on: the cheap seats (which are very, very few on each flight) and the expensive seats (which are on any flight, but cost about twice as many miles). You can also use your miles to pay for the extra shitty fees on a flight, but it's steep. I did the math on a one-way flight from Toronto to Tampa:

Flight cost, from $177
Cost of this flight, in miles: 12,500
Number of miles it costs to buy $1.00 worth of a flight: 70.6

Total of fees, from $122
Cost of these fees, in miles: 14,375
Number of miles it costs to buy $1.00 worth of the fees: 117.8

I'm still undecided on whether to just spend the miles on the fees (as it's a shittier deal), or save my miles for something else in the future. By my math, at the same mi/$ cost of the flight, the fees should only be 8613 miles, a difference of 5762 miles (or 46% of a one-way flight). Then again, fees make up 40% of this flight's total cost -- you can't get around the fees, after all -- so, maybe I should just suck it up.

Add to this, of course, that the flight from Tampa back up to Toronto -- the one I can't get a cheap-points flight for -- costs $367. I can't help but notice...

Total cost of flights from/to Pearson: $489 + 12,500 mi / $367 + 26,875 mi
Total cost of flights from/to Detroit: approx. $350 (US$268), 0 mi used

But, I mean, why not use the miles? That's what they're there for. Plus, Pearson is, like, right over there [points northwesterly from his couch]. From/to Detroit, I have to use about 1.5 tanks of gas, plus pay for parking. But if I take the UP Express in addition to TTC from/to Pearson (which I'll probably do, given the timing of the flights in the early morning and late evening), that'd offset the charge of the parking at Detroit or Flint a bit.

And, if I go to Michigan, I'll stay the nights before and after at my parents' place. So that's a couple of free meals. And, I can pick up some cheap beer at a store on the drive back to the border.