Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Adding to the list of firsts

Jason's list of "firsts" recorded today. Nothing Earth-shattering, yet all new experiences.

1. First time I took the US Airways Shuttle to LaGuardia.

2. First time I flew somewhere and back in the same day.

3. First time I sat behind a row with not one, but 2 screaming infants in it.

4. First time I received Sacajawea Dollars as change from a human-cashier (as opposed to a machine such as a MetroCard machine). I bought an iced tea and a quasi-Auntie Anne's pretzel with a $10 bill, and received all coins as change. Terrific.

5. First time I almost hurled in a taxi. Stop-and-go traffic is more manageable when I'm driving, or when my cab driver isn't insane.

6. First time I drove my car while wearing a suit jacket and a trench coat. My car was cold. This is not an easy activity.
7. First time I listened to US Airways' entirely unnecessary 90-second pitch over the loud in-cabin intercom for their credit card by one of the flight attendants midway through an early morning flight that most Airworldians use for cat nap purposes.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Get thee to a Fribble-ry

I really wish I did not need to sleep.

I suppose I could take speed and become a meth head. They stay up for long period of time, right? Recently, my friends diagnosed our server at Boston Beer Works (a place NOT on My Veto List) as such, given his relatively normal outward appearance and rotten teeth.

When it's gym time, I set the alarm for 5 AM and usually rise around 5:20 after a short while to orient myself and listen to a few tunes on WBOS. Yesterday, my alarm awoke me at 5 AM. Around 5:20, I determined that morning gym was nowhere in my immediate plans. Poker until midnight killed this early option. Plan B - gym after work. I brought my bag with me, and figured I would swing by on the way home.

I stayed at work until 7 PM, hoping to avoid the evening crunch. No go. Still packed when I got there. All cardio machines occupied, small locker room very busy, people everywhere. I snuck on an undesirable cardio machine (which wasn't too bad, actually) for 30 minutes, then stretched for a while and left.

Granted I don't have the physique of a gym rat - sometimes my crunches involve Cheez-Its rather than ab exercises. But I have possessed a gym membership long enough, and have used it regularly enough to hate the January rush of New Years' Resolvers, counting the days until they slowly begin dropping due to lack of motivation and interest in Friendly's Fribbles.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Biggest Loser - BU Edition

It's pretty common here in Boston to complain about the T. I have been guilty of that as well.

Oddly enough, I am OK with the fare hike. $1.25 per ride (mostly) to $1.70 per ride (again, in most cases) using the Charlie Card. I think the $2.00 fare when using the Charlie Ticket is a bit excessive, but if it's meant to tax the tourists - terrific, go for it. Locals using Charlie Tickets, I view in the same category as locals who don't have FastLane or EZ-Pass Transponders in their's there to make your life easier, quicker, and cheaper - so use it, and it's your fault alone if you don't.

June will mark my 6th year here in Boston, and before the hike, a ride on the T in July 2001 cost the same as a ride on the T in December 2006. If they had raised fares 10 cents per year, nobody would have blinked.

What is pleasingly satisfying about the fare changes is the new requirement to pay the fare on the outbound B line. I never understood the logic behind free rides on all outbound B line trains when the T was about ground (beyond Kenmore). I suppose it was a manner of expediency, to allow for all doors to open and riders to disembark more quickly.

The MBTA was losing lots of revenue by doing this, and the BU kids were getting fatter by not walking. How irritating is it to be on the already beyond crowded B line and have lazy BU students board at the BU East stop, and leave at the BU Central or BU West stop, literally blocks away. Not Manhattan Avenue blocks...probably one John Mayer song between stops on foot. The whole walk from Packard's Corner to Kenmore is only about 25 minutes. I've done it myself.

Last I checked (well, I haven't...but I'm assuming), BU does not subsidize the T for this privledge. I don't see plackards on the B line saying "BU Campus Shuttle." In fact, the B line's actual name is "Boston College." Perhaps the BU'ers viewed this as a slight, and sought revenge on their Jesuit friends by crowding their space.

I have nothing against BU. I have everything against lazy BU students. An article in the Metro last week had such brilliant quotes from disturbed BU students:

"All we're trying to do is go across campus. We're not trying to hurt anyone." (try walking)
"It is too expensive for when you just want to go a few stops." (agreed, try walking)

"We always used to take the T, but not I think a lot of students are going to walk instead." (good idea)

According to the Metro, students are protesting in a variety of ways - everything from taking taxis (that'yll get 'em!) to creating groups and petitions on (um...shouldn't you be studying?) Seriously, if you choose to ride, be a responsible resident of Boston and pay the fare. If you elect to walk, enjoy the fact that you're burning off some of the cheap beer you drink nightly.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Saved by Jack Bauer

Monday night, for the second time in the past year or two, I was watching TV in my living room, and happened to glance up from my magazine to see someone I knew personally right there on the screen staring back at me, but in a difficult situation.
My high school class was small - 85 people. We all knew each other, by name and face at least. I wasn't close to this guy named Peter, but last night his helicopter crashed into a house outside LA. He survived that crash, and encountered Jack Bauer who helped his injured co-pilot still in the chopper. Jack told them that an energy ring from the nuclear blast in Valencia caused them to go down. Good thing Jack was there to save them.

Second time was while watching a show called Airline, which ran on A&E for a couple years. The beauty of this show, based primarily on the operations of Southwest Airlines in Baltimore, Chicago/Midway, and Los Angeles, was how convincing it was in making me never want to fly Southwest willingly. Watching it, you would think that the only passengers who flew Southwest were drunk, angry, litigious, irrational, or just plain dumbasses.

My aunt and uncle fell into the "angry" category when, just like last night, I glanced up from my reading material to see them screaming holy hell after deplaneing from a jet that was called back to the gate, filled with patrons to whom this occurred once prior on this same attempted journey. There were my irate relatives, yelling about Southwest's incompetency right into the camera. Thankfully, their complaints were merited and relatively civil compared to some others shown on that TV series. I laughed so hard, I called many family members right then and there, and due to the magic of TiVo, transfered the video to VHS to show everyone in person.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The laws of Southie

OK, so this photo was obviously not from last night's "snowstorm." It's from the blizzard of January 2005. That's my car. That was my spot for a couple weeks. I parked there with intent, to be at the end of the aisle, preventing a car from parking behind me, and making it easier for me to come and go by avoiding a tight parallel parking job until the city took all the parking spot markings after a few days. Southie becomes lawless after snowstorms, as someone did park behind me (note blue chair) in a spot that would normally have generated a ticket.

If you look closely enough, above the front wheel well, you can see the dent and scratches one of my loving neighbors gave to me after they negotiated the turn poorly, hit me, and did what all city drivers do when they slam into parked cars - continue driving and pretend it never happened. Note to self - never park on the end of a street during a storm again.

After yesterday's dusting, should I see any chairs, garbage cans, children's kitchen play sets, or (my favorite) walkers marking any Southie parking spots this morning, I am going to hurl said items into Dorchester Bay in my show of protesting the Southie mentality of "any amount of accumulated snow" equals "don't touch my parking spot!"

Friday, January 19, 2007

My pacifiers - American Idol and jetBlue

I pledge to be a kindler, gentler Road Warrior 2007.

Case in point - when I was cut in the security line by not-my-fault late dude, who then asked me if I minded because he had a flight to catch in 10 minutes, I could have said something much ruder or snarkier than "It is what it is," but I didn't. I kept it at that.

We had a ground delay on the flight to Orlando on Wednesday. We boarded the plane about 15 minutes after the scheduled departure time, but I figured that was time that could have been made up in the air.

After getting situated on the plane, however, we had another delay - this one over an hour. Seated, at the gate, waiting. Apparently, a woman was not feeling well, and elected to deplane and not take the flight. Unfortunately for us, she elected to check the medication that was so critical to her health rather than, more smartly, carry it onto the plane. Why do people do this? It baffles me. I don't use my inhaler regularly, but when I bring it, I most certainly carry it with me. An asthma attack is much easier to remedy when you don't need to crawl into the cargo hull at 36,000 feet.

Of course, the delay was entirely manageable because I flew jetBlue, and their TV's were on from the moment we sat down. Live TV makes flights pass so quickly. Citizens of Airworld would be much happier and complain less if all airlines had this feature. Continental, my former BFF, would have fewer people complaining about their stuffed-to-the-gills cramped coach cabins if they had Live TV's.

The best part of the entire delay was that it put me in the air during almost the entire Wednesday 8-10pm American Idol episode. I kind of didn't want to deplane at 9:50, because I missed the end!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Greetings from sunny Florida!

Yes...that's lots of fog. And a beautiful view of the highway and Florida in all its flat glory.

Back on the road

Finally – a visit back to Airworld! It’s been almost 2 ½ months since I saw the chaos of this land.

I haven’t taken too many flights since the liquid / gel rules were established….and then made more lenient…so I was a bit confused about what to do with my lip balm. It remained in my jacket pocket, and I wasn’t flagged.

3 lessons learned already, even before my flight:

Lesson 1 - Just because Central Parking at Logan has all of these spiffy new spots….does not mean than on a Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 PM the Central Parking Guardians will permit you to park there if you’re going to be gone “for a few days” as I accurately, yet stupidly, told them. “Overnight” was the secret word that would have allowed me to pass and not receive a pink sheet of paper with directions to Economy parking basically in Revere (a farther distance than I live from Logan).

Lesson 2 – upon being denied from Central Parking – Terminal B Parking could be the solution. It was today. Plenty of spots there, and just about a 10 minute indoor walk to the jetBlue ticket desk!

Lesson 3 – if “you have a flight in 10 minutes” and are so thoughtless that YOUR delinquency caused you to cut right in front of someone who was there on time, AND then forget to remove your laptop from its case when putting your bag through an X-Ray machine, the TSA employees take “extra time” searching your bag, simply out of spite. “Have a flight in 10 minutes is a warning sign for us,” I overheard as I watched the dumbass who cut me await his bag while I purchased and sipped my latte at the Starbucks right after security.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My veto list

I love eating out. I'm not too fussy of an eater either. I'll eat pretty much anything besides mustard. I'm not too fond of black olives either. But other than that, much of everything else is fair game.

Eateries fall into a number of categories - with the scale being "I absolutely love this place, it's one of my favorites" to "Veto List."

Restaurants appear on my Veto List for a number of reasons. Currently, 4 establishments or chains reside on my Veto List.

1. Chili's - Life is too short to have to eat at Chili's. My final Chili's dining disaster was in Harlingen, TX, after which I vowed never to return.

2. Qdoba - I pronounce the Q "hard," though I'm told it's correctly pronounced like a "Cu" as in "cut." Regardless, I always used to go there with high expectations, and leave entirely unsatisfied (unlike McDonald's, for example, where I enter with low expectations, and those low expectations are met). Chipotle and Baja Fresh are similar and both better than Qdoba.

3. Brasserie Jo - We went there in December 2005 after a winter concert at Symphony Hall, and the bartender was a complete and utter prick to us and to others. It could not have been more blatant. If that's his "schtick," that's very sad. Too many good places to eat in Boston. Not to mention a lunch I had there in June 2005 which was far below average. Bad food and pricks behind the bar, no thanks. Veto.

4. Laurel - It's too bad Laurel is on my veto list, but it is. The food isn't too bad. This was my friend's cash-money bring-a-date place, and the bartender knew him here very well. That same bartender - Errol I believe - is proudly Welsh. I am proudly ignorant about Wales. Well, not proudly, but I just am. We had a loud and vocal argument after many cocktails on his watch about the Welsh language (I didn't know they had one) why they had it (apparently you lose your language, you lose your soul, I'm told) and whether or not Wales was a country (I completely insulted him by insisting Wales was not a country, it was part of the UK similar to how Connecticut is part of the USA, and there were no delegates from Wales in the UN). I gave him a good tip and walked out. Forever. Laurel - done, veto.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mr. Tivo - I apologize and am so sorry

Best friends come in many packages and categories.

Living in New Jersey in 2000, I had a best electronic friend named Tivo Series 1. We had great times together - me being on the road, Tivo guarding the homefront, taping must-see programs like Survivor and WWE RAW, awaiting my safe return to reap what Tivo sowed.

When I moved to Southie in 2003, I met a new cool kid on the block - Hughes DirecTV Receiver with Dual-Tuner and Tivo. Although Series 1 and I still hung out, Dual-Tuner and I were spending more time together. Dual-Tuner always changed to the right channels (Series 1 sometimes misfired through the LED output), and was able to record two shows at the same time - no programming conflicts!

Unfortunately the divorce rate with electronic friends is very high. They are used to being replaced regularly. Mi nuevo amigo numero uno esta mi HD DVR. 2 tuners and 30 hours of HD programming storage capacity. Unfortunately Tivo and DirecTV like on different sides of the tracks, and just don't get along. DirecTV is ending its relationship with Tivo, and moving forward has eliminated built-in Tivo capacity from its boxes. It's very hard for me to pick sides...but DirecTV is simply much better than cable, and Tivo is the collateral damage victim of my decision. I feel awful about it.

HD DVR is cool, and it knows it. But it's just not a Tivo. Tivo is more elegant and user-friendly. HD DVR gets the job done - but Tivo gets it done with style.

Tivo has become a verb as much as Xerox and Google. DVR'ing something just doesn't have the same cache as Tivo-ing it. Tivo-ers were like a secret society of tech-savvy folks who knew how to control TV programming schedules and not let the networks control their lives. DVR-ers are simply using the concepts created by Tivo-ers.

I feel very guilty hanging out with HD DVR more these days than I do with Tivo. This weekend, I spent Saturday afternoon watching shows from HD DVR to clear some space for the many HD hours of 24 and American Idol coming this week. It reminded me of similar marathon viewing / now-playist list-clearing sessions I had back in New Jersey with my original electronic friend Tivo Series 1. Those fond memories of summer nights and Series 1 hanging out by the lake, fishing until the sun set and catching fireflies until mom called us in for the night.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My brilliant move of the week

I sprained my ankle yesterday after completely missing a step on one of our staircases at work.

Our building is a 4-story mansion near Kenmore Square, and after turning the lights off on the top two floors in anticipation of being the last one out for the day, I had to go back upstairs and make a photocopy. In lieu of turning the lights back on, I elected to go the ankle sprain route instead on the descent back to the second floor. I'm all about energy conservation - not just electric, but also my own internal thermal energy. 5:30am gym runs are now on hold.

I'm so lucky that I live my life vertically - four flights up to my desk, one flight up to my condo.

I'm getting two different acronymnal treatment methods. PRINCE from WebMD and RICE from Wikipedia.

NSAIDs or acetaminophen.


I like Prince's music, and Rice is too high-carb for me, so I'll stick with the former.

Between my cold and my ankle, I'm now broken, damaged goods. I am feeling a couple "on the couch" days in my short-term.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree

Today is the 68th consecutive day that I have not been on an airplane, nor stayed overnight in a hotel. This my longest consecutive day streak on the ground in 8 years. Both streaks will continue until day 74, when I will board a JetBlue flight to Orlando.

My 4 lifetime trips to Orlando include:

1. Obligatory family trip to Disney World when I was 4 years old. I recall most of this trip from photopgraphs, but for some odd reason still possess and use an Eastern Airlines teaspoon that I swiped from the airplane. That was back when airlines used metal flatware and coach, and back when Eastern Airlines existed.

2. Golf Trip #1 with my uncle and cousin. One of the courses we played was called "The Ravines," and I wisely brought one golf ball for every hole because that's just about how many of my shots that those ravines swallowed.

3. Golf Trip #2 with my uncle and two cousins. This trip was great, highlighted by the absolute best way to spend time at Epcot Center's World Showcase - "Drinking Around the World". There are 11 country pavillions there - Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, USA, Japan, Morocco, France, The UK, and Canada. We took photos at every stop, and were beyond drunk by the time we left.

4. Business trip, working with "The Doc & Johnny Morning Show" on XL 106.7. A couple months after this trip in September 2005, the station's married Program Director and my main contact there was arrested for soliciting minors for sex on the internet - a la "Dateline NBC." At the time, it was a pretty huge story in the radio industry.
By the way, the photo is of Tony Orlando & Dawn, the posting title is their biggest hit. I'd imagine I'm dating myself for knowing all of that. Then again, I only know Tony Orlando from the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Degrees of lame

First degree - Finding humor in the misspelling on this marquee

Second degree - Pulling over to photograph the error

Third degree - Finding humor in the misspelling on this marquee, and pulling over to photograph the error with the intent to post about it on your blog

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Chatty girl

Dear Chatty Girl,

I wanted to thank you so much for allowing me to listen in on your chat with a random stranger on the train back from Gillette Stadium. It was enlightening to learn so much about you during the entire ride. Who needs a cat nap anyways?

I had no idea that:

  • You work for a private equity firm, but you don't invest in fashion or real estate since those industries are so prone to changes in personal taste. Good thinking!

  • You live in Cambridge and love it sooooo much because you can walk to Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and have sooooo many great restaurants nearby.

  • You love Germany because it's so fun. I had no idea that you have also been to Amsterdam! That's awesome!

  • You went to Suffolk business school, and used to have your own company making jewelry and repurposing clothing, but now you don't have much time for that.

  • You were actually working at the game today, schmoozing in a luxury box. That sounds so fun! Too bad none of the people you're friendly with at work were there to join you. I bet you would have liked to have drunk some booze at the game (after all, you did mention that it was an open bar), but you were working, and you never know what you might say to those other financial types with a little sauce in ya.

  • You loooooved the food in the luxury box. It sounded so delicious - "stadium food but more upscale" as you put it. Bratwurst, Angus burgers, jalapeno poppers with cream cheese and chives wrapped in bacon - it all sounded so yummy. And that dessert cart that goes to each box? Yum. Way to be in the presence of things so delish.

  • You barbecued yesterday because it was 70 degrees here in Boston. AND you wore flip-flops. Way to take advantage of that global warming thing Al Gore mentioned in that movie.

  • You don't have a car. How surprising, being that you mentioned that you're originally from New Jersey.

  • You have such liberal parents. Wow! They really didn't mind that you smoked pot because they thought it was just like getting drunk? You mentioned that they were fine with it if you remained responsible about it, but still - quite progressive of them!

Chatty girl, I'm not sure if you read this blog, but if you do - again, truly, THANK YOU for letting be a part of your life, albeit a small role in such a grand production. I REALLY didn't want to doze off. My eyes were closed the entire time because it allowed me to focus better on your words.

All the best,


Friday, January 05, 2007

Greetings, Cincinnati. Nice man boobs.

One of the "better blogs" on my blogroll is Today in the Sky - USA Today's travelblog that's actually about travel (unlike the false expectations I have set with this site...which I promise will gradually shift back into the lunacy of business travel as I hit the road to Orlando, Dallas, and Houston over the next few months).

I saw this story today about how airfares in Cincinnati are the highest in the US.

I've only been to Cincinnati four times - three more trips than I would have liked to have taken there.

Trip 1 - 1997 baseball trip throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania. We saw the Reds play at Cinergy Field back before they imploded it in 2002. Before the game, we saw Marge Schott walking her dog Shottzie on the field. My best memories of this city are, therefore, limited to a blown-up characterless baseball stadium, a dead racist team owner, and (I'm assuming by now) her expired St. Bernard. This is the one trip to Cincinnati that I was fine with - baseball road trip, first time there, saw it, then moved on.

Trip 2 - 1999 business trip. Focus groups for The Bob & Tom Show, a god-awful midwestern humorless show featuring two old dudes attempting to be funny. Somehow, they are syndicated on about 150 stations with exactly 2 New England affiliates - both in Maine, indicating to me the similarities among Mainers, Sheboyganites, and Topekans.

Trip 3 - 2000 business trip to visit our new sister research company (and competitor) after our parent company was purchased by their parents company. Awkward doesn't even come close to describing this trip. Our amistance was phony; the bitterness continued.

Trip 4 - 2006 business trip, flying through CVG airport. I really don't remember where I was going, but probably nowhere fun. I distinctly recall sitting in the communal waiting area, looking around at my fellow Airworldians at that moment, and realizing how ugly everyone there was.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Reach out and touch faith

I have very strong opinions toward downloading music. It's simple. Buy it. Don't steal it. 99 cents for a song seems pretty reasonable to me.

Not only do I love purchasing and browsing for music on itunes, but I still buy CD's the old-fashioned way as well.
My primary source for acquiring new music, however, is through a CD service I subscribe to.
For $40 a month, they send me a CD every week in the mail, each with about 20 new songs. Completely legal. They take care of royalties and publishing fees. This company produces a variety of new-release CD's for radio programmers, mobile DJ's, and that sort of ilk who need a service such as this. When I was a programming consultant, it was the easiest way to stay on top of trends for a variety of new-music formats - everything from Top 40 to Hip-Hop, Country, Rock, and...


There's a bunch of great Christian artists. Some downplay it after they become big (Evanescence, Creed). Others seem to bridge the gap well even after they score crossover hits (Switchfoot, Lifehouse, MercyMe, Jars of Clay, Relient K, dc Talk). Then, there is a third category of Christian artists who don't cross-over, but sound identical to the type of artists who could. Third Day, Audio Adrenaline, and Jeremy Camp fall into this category.

The 11th most-played song in my itunes is by another one of these third-category bands - Needtobreathe. "You Are Here" randomly popped onto the video channel at the gym today - sandwiched by the SexyBacks and Promiscuouses of the world. This band has one of those generic pop-rock sounds that always seems to suck me in. Non-threatening and catchy, for some odd reason Jesus Rock even makes me feel a touch pious.

Especially because I bought 2 more of their songs on itunes and didn't steal 'em! Jesus!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My rant about JFK Airport

The Delta International terminal at JFK Airport is disgusting. It's an embarrassment that this pathetic excuse of a facility is the point of entry of many foreginers, some undoubtedly visiting the U.S.A. for the first time. Everything from its personnel to its operations - just terrible. It's devoid of any palletable dining or shopping options. It's crowded, confusing, small, and loud. The PA system is inaudible. Odd liquids drip from above onto passengers.

This sad, beat-up excuse for a major airport terminal is the complete opposite of Delta's terrific Terminal A facility here in Boston. Delta should be ashamed. Oddly enough, I was reminded of this armpit of Airworld after I drove to Logan this weekend to pick up a friend, who was returning to Boston on a Northwest flight from Minneapolis. NWA operates out of the International Terminal here in Boston - Terminal E. Perhaps that's why I was reminded of JFK - Terminal E in Boston seems to be in much better condition, and most certainly wouldn't have reminded me of JFK otherwise.

I can recall having flown Northwest just two times (once to Minneapolis, and once to Amsterdam on a realtively random nonstop direct route NWA flies from Boston due to their affiliation with KLM). Both trips were, coincidentally, in first class. I distinctly remember the lumpiness of the seat on the flight to Amsterdam, and the old age of both airplanes - probably the main reasons why my flights with NWA have been limited to these few flight segments.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My Resolutions for 2007

It's pretty warm here in Boston this winter. Huge chunks of ice caps are breaking away from parts of Northern Canada. Therefore, I resolve to respire less frequently and plant a tree.

The gym was busier than usual this morning. Yep, all of the "get in shape" resolvers are back, for a few months at least. I don't like crowds all that much. Therefore, I resolve to get there earlier each morning and take up two parking spots with my Jeep, making it just a touch less appealing for the flabby newcomers, in an effort to get morning gym usage back to normal levels sooner.

I resolve to clean out my closet. Out go all pleated and cuffed pants - all earmarked for personal income tax deductions. Clothing the needy. In yesterday's fashions.

Finally, I need to find a purpose in life. Or perhaps just a purpose this year. Therefore, I resolve to push for new legislation to retest elderly drivers when they turn 70. Let's improve the collective driving skills of all drivers by eliminating the less capable. Remove those polluting '93 Ford Tempos off the road so there's less traffic and more room for my SUV.