Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dirty little secret

I have an odd dilemma today.

One of the beauties of traveling solo on the road, and hitting multiple cities and groups of people along the way, is the abillity to wear the same clothes multiple times.

I'm not talking undergarments, which of course I change daily.

I mean jeans, pants, sweaters, etc.

Today is my second of two consecutive days with the same crew of people in New Jersey.

Since I have with me two similar choices of denim, one of which I wore yesterday, I'm going to have to skip that option.

I have a pair of dress pants and a pair of khaki chinos as well. Honestly, I would prefer to wear my final option, the denim-cut brown corduroy pants. It's a beautiful fall day today, and paired with an orange polo would be a good Halloween ensemble.

Unfortunately, I recall that during my last trip here, I also wore those same brown cords. I remember this because I commented on somebody's corduroy blazer due to our both rocking the cords.

To top it off, it's flight day, and I prefer wearing jeans on the plane. I'll probably just get changed in the car, as I often do.

I'm leaning toward the dress pants, but that might kick them out of the options for later this week because.....I only have one pair of socks to match them. Sigh.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Countdown to heaven

Who knew that Mt. Laurel, NJ was such a hotel hotbed. My last trip here a couple weeks ago involved a drive from Newark airport in the rain on the day that a small aircraft flew into a building in New York. It was dark, rainy, and difficult to navigate. All I wanted was my hotel and food.

I'm back for another brief trip, and discovered why I haven't been able to book myself into the Hilton Cherry Hill during either of these two trips.

It no longer exists. Well, the building does, but it's now a Crowne Plaza.

Today, while lumbering over toward Exit 4 on the NJ Turnpike, I noticed not only the hotel during my prior stay (Courtyard), but also a Marriott, Wyndham, Doubletree (where I'm staying tonight), and a just-ground-broken Westin?!

Heavenly beds are coming to Mt. Laurel! That should not excite me as much as it does.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

730 calories

McCarran airport in Las Vegas is quite an operation. Unlike O’Hare in Chicago, Dulles outside DC, or Hartsfield in Atlanta, the majority of travelers using McCarran are either beginning or ending trips at the airport.

If you are connecting in an airport, you’re already in Airworld and more likely than not will not be required to clear security again at the connecting airport.

At McCarran, however, my God – security there can be awful. And it’s so inconsistent – the wait could be anywhere from 15 minutes to well over an hour. Sundays, as I recall, are frightful. Everyone is leaving, without having slept or showered after a rough entire night of partying, and nobody looks as happy as they were on the flights to Las Vegas.

The baggage claim area is as much of a multi-sensory violation as The LV Strip itself. Lights, music, huge gaudy signs, and loud promotional announcements for such quality entertainment as comedian George Wallace and The Thunder From Down Under male revue are par for the course.

The terminals have high ceilings, modern technology, and are clean. Dining and retail options are decent (the shopping looks much better before security….it would make more sense for those stores to be after security since people kill more time after the heinous security lines rather than before waiting in them.

During my wait, I fell victim to the ultimate airport / mall food court olfactory aphrodisiac. Cinnabon. They do one thing there, and do it pretty well.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Get on, get off

This week, I will be flying a few one-ways on three different carriers - AirTran, Continental, and JetBlue. Often, one-way tickets raise alarms for the airlines, and funnel the unfortunate holders of such tickets into the special secondary screening lines. Last time I ended up in such a queue, my laptop bag tested positive for residue. I must have been firing my sniper rifle too close to my computer.

My strategy this week involves point-to-point flights rather than keeping it all with one carrier and, therefore, connecting during each leg.

Simple, but understandably frowned upon by Airworld citizens who hoard miles.

AirTran to Philly was only $39. Roundtrip tolls would cost over half of that if driving.

The Continental flight is EWR-Austin on Halloween night. I'll dress up as an Airworldian.

JetBlue AUS-BOS is the only non-stop direct flight between those two cities. The fastest way to get home and get ready to see Borat next Friday.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I used to be two inches taller

We all have pasts.

In 1991, the world learned about Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

The Soviet Union collapsed.

Blossom premiered on NBC.

The Silence Of The Lambs won the Best Picture Oscar.

My hair looked like this.

Plenty of photos like this exist in my yearbook and in assorted photos of my and my friends' collections. I never thought of my hair as being long, tall, or as some current friends have pointed out, in the form of a mullet...but I suppose the pictures prove it.

This weekend is my 15 year reunion at my high school in New York. I believe just a handful of classmates will attend, far less than the 50% who came to our 10 year.

It sure doesn't seem too long ago, 15 years. But time keeps marching on. And hair becomes shorter in the back.

I withdraw my Cleveland comments

Just the ones about the efficiency of the airport.

Maybe it’s just bad luck, but I swear lately my flights back to Boston from Cleveland have all been delayed.

Today, pretty much every other flight was on time, except of course, for the one to Boston. The list of departures simply showed Boston in elegant yellow letters “DELAY.”

So after our 90 minute delay, we boarded, pushed back, taxied to the runway, then the air conditioning kind of turned off and the Captain came on the PA system – never a good sign when we’re still on the ground unless it’s his initial bienvenido a bordo – to let us know that we now had a 30 minute ground delay.

To top it off, we hit another ATC delay somewhere over Massachusetts, and circled for a half hour.

Then on the ground, someone at the toll booth two cars ahead of us decided to have a heart-to-heart long conversation with the booth attendant. Why can’t taxis get Fast Lane passes??

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

All the little chicks with the crimson lips…

When flying out West on Continental, I find myself routing myself through Cleveland often. The airport is clean, easy to navigate, and, as the crow flies, is pretty much on the way to the West.

Cleveland’s airport, however, is pretty deficient in terms of on-the-go food options. I had a chicken noodle soup for lunch that was simply terrible. Continental’s other hubs in Newark and Houston definitely provide better culinary establishments.

Often, I like throwing people for a loop. Years ago, during another Vegas trip, I realized I was going to a desert without a hat. I purchased a Cleveland Indians cap at the airport and solved my problem. I don’t care much for the Indians, but usually wear the hat when flying through Cleveland. People think I’m a local, I’d imagine. Not that being a Cleveland local is an aspiration of mine.

Just a side note - I was not a huge Drew Carey fan, but I did love their theme song (add CLEVELAND ROCKS, CLEVELAND ROCKS to the title of this post, and that's the chorus). I always thought Mimi was a dude in drag.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Libation Liberation

The spend-down of Continental miles continues with my current journey to Las Vegas.

In July, I cashed in 100,000 miles for a First Class ticket EWR-GTW (London-Gatwick, where Continental has quite an operation!) as part of my journey to Croatia. British Airways is not a Continental partner, and using miles for that entire trip was too difficult, so I had to purchase the London to Croatia roundtrip.

This trip is another 50,000 miles, this time in Coach. Two full flights, Boston to Cleveland to Las Vegas. Even with this trip, I'm still hanging out in the 450k miles area.

On board, it occurred to me that my mile spend-down should also include my many free drink tickets I carry in my Airworld wallet (the billfold I carry separately, filled with cards that illustrate to citizens of Airworld how important the airlines and hotels have deemed me).

It was a Sunday around brunch time, I was off on Monday, I’m flying to Vegas. No brainer. Give me a Bloody Mary. Actually, why don’t you make it 9 Bloody Marys (and I’ll still have coupons for the flight home).

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Confrontation Rocks

Two weeks ago in Arlington, Virginia, I was a justified smart ass to somebody who chose to cut the registration line at my hotel (a semi-rare appearance at a Starwood property) while I, with a full bladder needing to get to my soon-to-be bedroom’s bathroom, was trying to check in for my 7 hour check-in-to-check-out stay.

The exchange:

Me (said with confused anger) – “Um, the line is behind the two of us.”

Impatient Stranger (shocked he has been called out) – “I am just trying to pick something up.”

Me (justified smart assly) – “And I’m just trying to check in.”


Me – “That’s nice. I know how to wait in line down here in the lobby.”

I.S. (while furious and walking away) – “YOU MUST BE A REALLY IMPORTANT PERSON.”

Me (thinking, unfortunately not spoken) – “Wow, he knows!”

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'll Do 4 U

I believe I'm now on at least one government watch list.

Somehow during the "testing for residue" test, the inside of my laptop case tested positive for "residue." Between checking email and meeting with our local office in Arlington, I must have dumped too much gunpowder into my laptop case.

I had quite a morning at DCA (aka Ronald Reagan National Airport in DC) My 6:59 am departure on Delta was delayed, and I had to return to Boston for a 10am meeting. The gates at DCA are similar to those at Logan, in that multiple security checkpoints each lead to some gates, rather than the terrible-ness that are the airports in Denver and Atlanta, where one set of security checkpoints process all travelers, who after clearing then filter into their appropriate terminals.

Upon learning of my delayed flight, the gate agent was great in offering to switch me to a US Airways Shuttle flight, even without my asking. I was surprised since Delta and US Airways don't codeshare.

So, I had to re-clear security. Terrific.

She told me to get a boarding pass at the other gate (Um..OK...but don't I need one to clear security??). I stood in another awful security line, only to be told by the dude checking ID's that I don't have a boarding pass. Yep...I realize that. I was told to go get one.

I hopped over to the nearby US Airways ticket desk for a boarding pass, then cut the line in which I already waited (after many menacing and violent stares from the other citizens of Airworld), and was directed into the Secondary Screening / Goin' through the puffer machine / "we're gonna touch you all over when we pat you down" line.

Then, after listening to an obnoxiously arrogant citizen of Airworld complain about some type of mistreatment by the poor low-salaried ID checker ("I do work for Logan Airport....I want to talk to the person in charge here...I am so important...I am the best...blah blah blah...my favorite type of person to listen to at 6am), the dreaded residue test snared me.

They had to fill out some paperwork with my driver's license. When I gave it to them and tried to see what they were filling out, I was told to step back around the machine and that they just needed to complete the paperwork with my home address for "research purposes."

Um...research? To see where terrorists reside, perhaps? Apparently, they live in South Boston, because I'm now one of them. Posted by Picasa

Oye mi canto

Ever have that moment where you're stuck in traffic, radio cranked up, singing out loud to some song...only to look over at the person in the car next to you, and learn that she is also singing out loud to the same song at the same time?

Um, yeah...Anna Nalick...."Breathe (2 AM)"....Magic 106.7. I'm not sure which is most embarrassing - listening to Magic, or having this be the song I was singing. My second out-loud laughter moment of the afternoon.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Guitars and sharps and flats

A peril of living alone with a job that has a significant travel component is the inability to have a pet of substance, defined of course as a dog. Dogs supply a bounty of life’s joys, but require huge time commitments. I would love to have a dog again, but I accumulate too many miles with Continental and Delta.

Cats, on the other hand, can survive days alone, tending to and cleaning up after themselves, but undoubtedly using their alone time to plot against the weak – defined as “me” and “anyone else with horrible cat allergies.”

The easiest way to kill me would be the combination of a small room, shag wool carpeting, a cat, a padlock, an hour, and no inhaler.

As a child, I had five cats during my first 8 or 9 years on this planet.

Pepper ran away and later turned up about 8 miles away in the garage of the administrative assistant at my father’s office. We learned that the cat she found and the one we lost were one and the same approximately 10 years after she took off for, perhaps, a more loving home.

Bandit was great, but was hit by a car after a large snowstorm. We saw a trail of blood across my neighbor’s back yard as she attempted to drag her injured body home. She is the only cat I have ever had, or will ever have, compassion for.

Sheriff, Bandit’s counterpart, never quite liked me. She, however, loved my mother. She came down with some type of feline leukemia, and we had to put her down soon thereafter.

Brother and Sister were part of the household for just a few months, and I’m not sure why we ended up giving them away.

Perhaps the two weekly allergy at my pediatrician’s office finally drew sympathy from my parents. I’m told that these regular medications were a loving attempt to cure me of my allergies. Depending on perspective, these actions could have been a failed attempt at murdering their son.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


My apologies if two postings on the same calendar day is a blogging taboo.

When did the English language degenerate into such an awkward combination of "words" that I just received from a random MySpace user:

"how ru i just though i would say helllooo . i saw your profil and you look cutte . :?) i just joined here 5 days ago and im tryn 2 get 2 kno more peopl from Massachusetts . so if you get a chance, say helllooo lates 1!!"

This isn't comupter generated, I'm guessing. Someone must have physically typed those letter combinations. According to my count, we're missing the following letters - "aeyoteigtotowe," and over quota with "lootloo" To her credit, she spelled Massachusetts correctly.

Well, I don't want to read your T-Shirt either...

...not that i expected people to actually WANT to read my blog, but in a less-than-encouraging moment of clarity, I observed somebody wearing this T-Shirt on Friday night when I was out drinking in the South End.

Friday, October 13, 2006

What are the rules of blogging?

I’m most certainly going to play the dumb / novice card here. My involvement in blogosphere up until now has been an interested onlooker, wondering why people sought to share their thoughts with the world, not knowing who they were sharing them with. I have googled people, found their blogs, and cyberstalked them for months. Isn’t that the beauty of this new world I’m entering?

  • I believe the best postings are short ones.
  • We live in a world of bullet-point lists, the business world’s attempt to organize salient messages for managers who apparently don’t have enough time to read full paragraphs.
  • I get that.
  • Frankly, I don’t like to read full paragraphs either, nor do I have the patience to write them.

So I’ll try to keep postings short. My pledge to the readers of Platinum Elite. Not that I have any readers just yet.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Blueshirts

Who are The Blueshirts?

They are an army of male business travelers sitting in the First Class rows of an airplane. Defined by their blue button-down shirts and cadre of gadgets attached to their ears of thumbs,
The Blueshirts are usually sitting in their relatively plusher seats, communicating with their significant others or office assistants, barking out orders to them and telling their Airworld stories for all the hear.

The Blueshirts often look at you with disdain if you fall into one of two categories:

1. You have a Coach Ticket and therefore will be walking past them (and, in their opinion, not soon enough….peasant!)

2. You actually possess a First Class seat assignment, but don’t “look the part” (i.e. “He’s not wearing a blue shirt…how’d he get up here?? At least his BlackBerry is older than mine!”)

I’ve always made it a point to travel comfortably on airplanes, forsaking suits and ties (as if I ever wear those anyway!) for jeans, sneakers, and shirts that make me look younger than I am. I’ll get changed in airport bathrooms, rental cars, or office parking lots…truly I really don’t care as long as I’m comfortable on an airplane.

And, therefore, never a Blueshirt.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Rainbow of Mountain Dew

The glamour of dining out on the road...

My choices - search for a restaurant in the dark with rain pouring down in a part of NJ with which I am pretty unfamiliar...or settle for the quality food establishments that Mt. Laurel has to offer.

Option #2 was the lesser of two evils.

I had the pleasure of being reintroduced to the KFC/Taco Bell Combo Store. If you pass on the "Mexican" mystery meat, The Colonel is there to rescue you with extra crispy breading surrounding small chicken tendrils.

And only in the KFC/TB Superstore are there 3 flavors of Mountain Dew on tap - Red, Original Green, and Blue. When did Mountain Dew become so festive?

Mi barrio

 Posted by Picasa

The TSA is A-OK

Well...I did it. I finally joined to world of blogs. Rather than sitting idly on the sidelines, stalking certain blogs on a semi-regular basis, I'm jumping in, head first, not knowing what to expect from my latest attempt at a hobby.

No, I don't know for whom I'm blogging just yet. I don't quite know exactly what I have to say nor what I seek to reveal, but am aware that I must have some strokes of brilliance passing from my mind through the eight fingers I regularly use to type (I'm not without pinkies...they just don't pound the keyborad much).

Why now? As many know, I travel for my job. Often. 150+ hotel nights per year is a badge of courage. It's nothing one should be proud of. In Airworld (and it's cousins Hotelland and Rental-Car Alley), business travelers hold their frequent flyer statuses high, expecting to receive anything and everything for their regular patronage. Frankly, I find the entire game comical and concurrently pathetic. But...I play it too. And I laugh at others who think they play it better than I.

I am a travel snob indeed. But not your typical snob. It does not consume me. I once viewed business travel as an endless race to a bounty of frequent flier miles. Connecting flights? No problem - more segments, more miles, more status! Rent with Budget two nights in a row twice during the qualifying period to receive 2 pounds of Dunkin Donuts coffee? Check. Mile run to Dublin to hit Platinum Elite on Continental for year-in-a-row number 5. Done.

While my new job has temporarily reduced the frequency and breadth of my business travel, life in airworld will continue. It always does. It's an alternate reality, similar to those multiplayer real-time computer games. People behave irrationally in airworld. Weird things happen. Part of my intent here is to comment on my relationship with airworld, and to prevent it from breaking me.