Thursday, November 30, 2006

Elitist Jason slumming it on the T, Part 2

As previously stated, I'm a self admitting, city-dwelling driving snob.

I see the bus and the T as obviously critical elements of Boston's infrastructure. They're just not for me. Cramped, hot, recycled air, malodorous, and loud. Outbound Green B Line? Forget it - it's the BU campus shuttle.

For my last trip to the airport, I thought I would be adventurous and take the T. Truthfully, it was a personal trip, and I could not bill my cab fare. So cheap me drove to the streets near the Andrew Square T stop, parked my car nearby in residential parking (using The Club, of course, and keeping all valuables out-of-sight) and paid $1.25 for the Red Line to Silver Line journey.

I'm so used to the 25 minutes it takes from the moment I call for a cab to the moment I'm sitting at the gate that I just didn't budget enough time for my T adventure.

What saved me was one of those rare moments when both the Red Line train and Silver Line bus pulled up the moment I reach each respective platform - the wonderful confluence of T lines.

Unfortunately, such good fortune and impeccable timing exhibited by a public works project will not sway me. I'm still a city-dwelling driving snob.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Elitist Jason slumming it on the T, Part 1

When I ride the T, I am reminded of why I don't mind the hassles of owning and driving a car in the city.

I am fortunate enough to have a free parking spot at my office in Kenmore Square, so I take advantage of that every work day, when I'm in town. My drive from Southie is about 15-23 minutes to work.

Today, I took the T. We have out-of-towners in the office this week, and I thought I would cede my parking spot to one of them, just in case we needed it.

So I did what I usually do when I take the T - which is drive to the Andrew T stop. It's a 15 minute walk from my home, I'm lazy, and I have a residential parking sticker that allows me to park on the streets surrounding the T stop. So why not save 30 minutes of roundtrip walking?

The actual T ride took about 35 minutes - cramped, stinky red line to not-as-cramped outbound Green line that stopped too often between T stops for unknown reasons.

I am thinking that if I rode the T more often than I do, I would have many more sicknesses and colds. it creepy to look (or stare) at people on the T? I swear, nobody makes eye contact. what a stoic morning journey!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Lattes, lofts invade mean streets of Southie"

As a resident of Airworld and Hotelland, my favorite newspaper is USA Today. I am saddened when I don't receive a copy outside my door at whatever hotel I have selected for that evening. My father even knows how much I like USA Today. When I'm visiting my parents, my father always picks up a copy for me along with their typical morning papers (he learned the hard way that they print one Fri/Sat/Sun edition, when one Saturday morning, he purchased a copy of the previous day's issue).

Yesterday, I happened across a copy of USA Today in the lobby of Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore (which, by the way, is an excellent property with a really good restaurant called Eastern Standard). We have co-workers in town this week staying there, and I was waiting for them to appear from their rooms so we could get dinner.

The main A section was broken into two parts, and the front-page of the second A section had a story about Southie (where I live when not in Airworld). I thought the story was very well done, but the title of the story - "Lattes, lofts invade mean streets of Southie" is a bit dated. I have lived here since July 2003, and this process has been well underway since before then.

Nonetheless, it's great to see my neighborhood spotlighted in my favorite periodical!

Monday, November 27, 2006

94% of 4 year olds know this dude

My travel schedule has been very light lately, besides a few trips back and forth to visit family in New York. So, I don't exactly have a bounty of travel stories that have happened recently. In the absence of any immediate creativity describing the absurdity of business travel, I thought I would dip into the many travel photos of trips past.

I took this photo in the Schiphol airport outside Amssterdam. I found it odd that Ronald McDonald was sitting next to a map of the Hudson Valley, and that one of the cities with its name in large font was "New City," which is the town next to where I was raised (Valley Cottage), and the site of my first full-time job.

It's nice to see New York in lush, attractive green, and New Jersey in a less desirable brownish color. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Armed For Battle

Never go to battle on the road without weapons.

I have added to my arsenal of technological road warrior weapons. For my birthday, my parents REALLY wanted to give me a GPS unit, and they went all out with the Garmin Nuvi 660, which is pretty sweet. Humorously, I found myself relying on the GPS directions to get me back to Boston from New York, a route I have driven an insane amount of times. Nothing like letting technology permit you to forget learned behaviors.

Unfortunately, it's just one more gadget for me to lose / have to charge / forget the charger for / scratch / or break. I have already managed to leave an mp3 player, an ipod, and a pair of Bose Noise-Canceling headphones on airplanes.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Generational divide

With each successive trip back to my parents' home (they still live in the only home I grew up in), I further witness their journey into AARP-land and away from where I reside in the upper reaches of the 18-34 demo.

While waiting to leave for dinner, my mother and I have enjoyed an episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ("that's a real nice show") and The Nanny ("that show is funny"). Who knew they were both still on TV?

Soon to pass judgement, I just found myself laughing to a Nanny one-liner..."What's with the women's lib all of a sudden...when did you become Gloria Estefan?" Actually, I saw Gloria on The View this morning. And I was just sucked into a two minute commercial for the Bedazzler. My lord, I am becoming my mother.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Move over Georgie

My friend FG (World of FG - she's listed on the blog listings to the right) turned me on to StatCounter, which reveals all sorts of odd stats about who reads this blog. I now have code for that and Google Analytics on my blog. Being a quantitative guy, examining both are addictive.

For example, in the month or so that I have been writing this, yesterday (Tuesday 11/21) was my 3rd highest traffic day so far. People really do love Dunkin Donuts.

Also, someone found my blog through the Google search "using some else's elite card to get upgrade." Shame, shame you cheater. You give the rest of us Airworld citizens a bad name. May your future be filled with middle seats, sold out regional jets, and airport Quality Inns.

My favorite, though, is the Google search for "guilty feet have." Those three words.

Somehow, this blog is the number one Google listing for the keyword search "guilty feet have."

Time can never mend the careless whisper of a good friend. To the heart and mind, ignorance is kind. There's no comfort in the truth...pain is all you'll find.

I swear, my musical taste has progressed. Sometimes, you just need to quote 80's lyrics.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

America runs on it

I used the last of my coffee grounds yesterday morning and planned to hit up a Starbucks this morning for a freshly-ground pound of beans (plus the free cup of coffee that comes with it!)

Though I indeed went to Starbucks this morning for a cup of coffee, I did not buy a pound of beans.
Why? Because of Budget Car Rental.

When I first began traveling for work, I was under 25, and able to rent cars from Budget or Enterprise. Budget seemed to work for me, and their rewards program at the time was a nice added benefit.

Years later, I haven't had much of a reason to switch from Budget, and since I'm brand-loyal, I am still with them. Their rewards program has come and gone (though I have two nice and very functional pieces of Tumi luggage as a result).

Their free coffee promo lives on. I qualified last year and apparently did again this year (as evidence by the UPS slip stuck to my door yesterday saying they had a package from Dunkin Donuts for me).

Why am I so excited to receive two pounds of Dunkin Donuts coffee? Free first class ticket to London? Got it. 3 nights at a 5-star hotel in Dubrovnik. Yep. Free coffee? SWEET!

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Boston property tax

In light of our new property tax assessments here in Boston and the new multi-spot parking meters on Newbury Street that print fancy time-coded stickers (no more unexpectedly pleasant feelings upon parking at an "Out Of Order" meter that requires no feeding), I imagine the city of Boston's bank accounts will be filled with more dollars to repave many of our streets in Southie torn up by N-Star and Boston Water over a particularly awful 2006 road work season, where pretty much every street was being punished with varying degrees of destruction.

Perhaps they can also teach Boston Water to return to their repair sites and replace the blacktop they use in sidewalks with real concrete.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


One of the beauties of business travel is the increase in personal savings (not much time to shop for unnecessary stuff, meals are billed to the company, etc.)

During the travel lulls, my wallet tends to get a workout.

I walked in the South Bay Center Target for a $2.98 shower curtain, and somehow walked away $58.09 poorer. Target, you did it to me again.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Another candle

In an entirely shameless act of self-promotion, today is my birthday (Nov 17), and we're celebrating my 5th Annual 28th Birthday party very informally at Red Fez on Washington St. in Boston's Historic South End.

If you're local and want to drop by for a drink, I'll be in the bar area from 8:30 onward with assorted friends from random corners of my life here in Boston.

I'm guessing that the intersection of "those who were on the Evite list" and "my blog readers" is minimal, and I imagine that this posting could reach a whole new category of people who would otherwise not know about such a happening Friday night activity!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Shunned by The Improper Bostonian

As I sit here eating lunch checking my webstats, I'm seeing a pretty significant spike in traffic to this blog over the past few days. Excellent! For some odd reason, anonymous folk seem amused enough with my ramblings to read, refer, and return. For that, thanks!
I was criticized earlier today by a friend about not blogging about my friends. I suppose I can change that relatively easily, and kill a second bird in the process - my anger toward The Improper Bostonian. This summer in Dubrovnik, Croatia, I took this picture with my friends Brian and Kelly. Exotic location, three smiling attractive young Bostonians holding a trendy local magazine that encourages such pictures. The perfect recipe for publication. A sure thing. But did it make the cut? Nope. So, here is the ignored photo. Screw you, Improper.

I took a second photo from that same spot, holding my parents' local county magazine - Rivertown. It's a relatively new publication in Rockland County, NY that seems to write articles about the businesses that purchase advertising in the magazine. I saw similar magazine-holding spreads in Rivertown, and figured I would be a slam-dunk to make it in. Most of their other photos appeared to be elderly tour groups in out-of-the-ordinary locations like Tampa, Baltimore, and Palm Beach. Did I make it in? You betcha! Almost a full half-page.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Everybody for sale

As I write this, offers to buy my former employer - Clear Channel - are on the table, and people are being laid-off left and right in anticipation.

This morning, I saw that US Airways made an $8 billion cash and stock offer for Delta. If this goes through, I shudder to think that all of the awful operational flaws of US Scare will carry over into Delta (a SkyTeam partner of Continental).

Does this mean that Star Alliance (United, US Air/AMWest, et al) and SkyTeam (Delta, Continental, Northwest) will be working in concert? Will practically all legacy carriers in the US now be aligned?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The breakup

My relationship with Continental Airlines extends back to 1998 when I lived in New Jersey and flew regularly from their Newark hub.

I’m told by friends who also live in Airworld, but have their allegiances and statuses with other carriers, that Continental is still the way to go.

Even when I moved to Boston in 2001, I stuck with Continental for much of my air travel. I think I was Gold Elite back then, and all of the additional segments and connections required to remain with Continental and operate out of a non-Continental hub airport (Logan) pushed me into the Platinum Elite level consistently (….naturally, the inspiration for the name of this blog).

2006 is my swan song / victory lap / year of emancipation from the Continental Platinum Elite ranks. I have already qualified for Silver Elite in 2007, just where I began with them years ago. Though Continental is still my go-to airline, and I really do think they are the best legacy carrier operating in the USA, it became to difficult to continue with them.

On the majority of the routes I fly, somebody from Logan offers non-stop direct service. Get on – Get Off. Lots of value in that. More carriers, more competition, lower fares (even though I expense 98% of my flights, I still try to “spend the money like it’s someone else’s” because, well, it is).

Upgrades on Continental have become very difficult, even in their highest Elite status level. There’s a hierarchy within each tier, including fare class, time of check-in, date of check-in, etc. I found myself checking in online exactly at the 24-hour-prior-to-departure mark to try to gain footing on the upgrade list.

Many Continental planes were reconfigured to remove a row of First Class, making those upgrades even rarer.

JetBlue and Song (when it wasn’t folded into Delta) are, without a doubt, more comfortable coach flights than Continental. Personal TV’s, leather seats, more legroom. It’s all true.

Continental is doing something right, though, because very few of my flights on Continental in 2006 have been anything but full, oversold, or 95% to capacity. Much more frequently do I find myself on a JetBlue or Delta flight in coach with the middle seat open. On Continental, forget it. But, good for them then – they have customers.

So Continental, thanks for the memories. Thanks for “still serving meals at mealtimes” in coach (aka an elementary school-style chicken patty sandwich), for having the most user-friendly legacy carrier website, and for introducing all of those fancy EliteAccess blue carpets at your gates that I’ll be marching down a few final times as a Platinum Elite through the end of February.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Yes, it was as bad as it looks

Like a beacon in the night for weary travelers, the Shilo Inn stands alone atop the neon-perimetered budget lodging properties in the greater Spokane, WA / Coeur D'Alene, ID metro.

When I realized that THIS is where my client booked me for a couple nights, I almost slept in the car. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Order by numbers

Me (gazing up at the menu):
"I'll have the articoke, ham, spinach, and mozzarella roll-up"

Gentleman behind the counter:
"That's an old menu - here, order off this"

Me (reading "new" menu):
"I'll have #50 - prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, and basil roll-up"

"$6.71 please."

1 minute later

"We are out of proscuitto"

Me (reading "new" menu, discovering the strangely familiar #40 - the artichoke, ham, spinach, and mozzarella roll-up":

"I'll have #40 - the artichoke, ham, spinach, and mozzarella roll-up"

5 minutes later

"Here you go! Thank you."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cattle call

I have been fortunate in the security-line department (besides my experience at DCA a few weeks ago, which probably landed me on a government watch list).

At Logan, there are so many smaller checkpoints leading to smaller amounts of gates, and the airport is not much of a national hub airport for any carrier, so I rarely encounter lines longer than 10 minutes.

Oddly enough, my worst security line experience was at Providence’s (well, Warwick’s) T.F. Green airport a couple years back. I had an early morning departure and about 10 days on the road, so I booked a stay-and-park package at the Radisson the night before, thinking I could sleep an extra hour rather and pretty much just roll out of bed and go to the airport, leaving my car at the hotel for the cost of what parking itself would have been at the airport (essentially a free room for a night).

I showed up at the airport to see the security lines stretching all around various parts of the upstairs ticketing area, then learning that the line’s end stretched all the way downstairs and in a couple of makeshift queues throughout the baggage claim area. An employee held a pre-printed sign on a post reading “Line Ends Here,” suggesting to me that this was a regular problem at T.F. Green.

The similarities to this situation and flying Southwest are astounding.

This was, I believe, just one of two times I have ever missed a flight (the other also originating from T.F. Green…that place is bad luck for me, so I avoid it now). Thankfully, Continental confirmed the security problems with their flight’s destinations, and judiciously rebooked people without incident.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Your job sucks

I just saw a woman with a Travelodge logo emblazoned on her blue chambray button-down shirt.

I’m guessing she works for Travelodge, and didn’t just win the shirt upon checkout.

Working for Travelodge on a regional level (I’m presuming she works for corporate), and working on-site with the different locations suggests one immediate unfortunate element of her job.

When she travels, she probably has to stay at Travelodges.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I had a great trip to Austin this week

During my previous trips here, I never felt the “coolness” that Austin promised. I always viewed it as the best Texas had to offer, but that was the equivalent of winning a race where everyone runner was slow, and as the winner, you were the fastest of the slow.

This time was different, thankfully. We are opening up a location in Austin, and I see a number of trips back here in my near future.

You can tell the quality of life around here is great – rolling hills, clean (well, cleaner than Dallas and Houston) air, lots of outdoor activities, affordable housing, and friendly people.

The weather this week was pleasant. No humidity. Winter chill in the air.

Even after daylight saving time’s clock adjustments, and our 4:30pm sunsets in Boston, it was still light out at 6pm last night in Austin.

I finally realized what makes this city come to life. Music. It’s everywhere. And not soulless Celine Dion and Rihanna. When listening to the radio, I spent much of my time here this week with the diverse formats Austin radio offers - Christian Pop, Regional Mexican, Americana, Spanish Pop, and Alternative Rock.

There’s a palpable energy in the city. Downtown is small but cool. UT is here. People carry around guitars. You can tell people are happy.

And the airport is so simple. Rental car pickup and return is a 400 foot walk from the terminal. Clearing security was a breeze, maybe 2 minutes. Even announcements over the loudspeaker are friendly. Flying JetBlue direct back home makes it even better. Maybe I’m just in a good mood because it was Friday and I was going home.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Guilty feet have got no rhythm

Over the food court music system at the Cleveland airport, I heard a song by Wham! called “I’m Your Man” while consuming some awful chicken noodle soup. I haven’t heard that song in probably twenty years (it was released sometime in the mid 80’s, probably 84 or 85).

I then did some quick math in my head – somehow realizing that the song was 20 years old, causing me to realize that 1986 was just a few years before 1991, the year I started college. The horror began to sink in. I realized that I started college 15 years ago, about the midpoint of my life as of today. Lord, I’m getting old.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Why I willingly downgraded myself for a 3 ½ hour flight


EWR – AUS (Newark to Austin)

I received a “battlefield upgrade” upon boarding (it didn’t come through until the very end)

I took my new seat 1E, the bulkhead

Nowhere to put my briefcase under the seat in front of me, and I wanted easy access to it during the flight.

34 passengers in Coach on a plane that holds about 110 people (the emptiest Continental flight I have taken in recent memory).

There were empty rows in the back, plenty of room to stretch out.

The food up front was merely a “cold plate” and I’m not super hungry.

But….above all…

The guy in seat 1F next to me had noticeable body odor.