Friday, June 29, 2007
Posted by Jason at 7:54 AM
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I am thrilled to be flying Northwest Airlines to Minneapolis tomorrow, especially given stories like this one citing their continued problems this summer canceling 10% of their flights for four days in a row.
There's one way to get to Minneapolis non-stop from Boston. That's Northwest.
It's also a relatively expensive flight route. For the dates I booked, fares started in the $400's, all with connections. My flight was like $550 roundtrip, and there were carriers even more expensive. They need JetBlue or Southwest to come in there and drive down prices.
Northwest is also super proud of their $102 Million in non-ticket revenue expected this year - all fees like booking aisle seats, ticket changes, or actually wanted to speak with a reservations agent. I know some of these fees are common across all airlines, but others (high fees for aisle seats, for example) are unique to Northwest here in the US.
The nickel and diming of consumers continues, all hand-in-hand with continued shoddy service.
Posted by Jason at 6:55 AM
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Last night, I met Ryan and Nate at Cheesecake Factory. Nate is momentarily in town between his globetrekking adventures, and ships off again Thursday.
I must say that Cheesecake Factory's usually organized incredibly long wait was an incredibly unorganized kind-of-short wait yesterday.
I arrived at 6:30 to put our name in for a table for 2 at 7:15. Ryan was coming for just a drink, while Nate stayed for dinner. I was told that my table was only 10-15 minutes away, but since my party was not going to be there at 6:45, they would not be able to seat me. So I asked to put my name in for 7:15, something they could not do because, well they "don't do that," and that I should check back about 20 minutes later. She was attempting to time the estimated longer wait at 6:50 with my desired 7:15 table. Sounds a bit complicated, especially for a patron who was going to be drinking at their bar during the interim.
Nonetheless, at 7pm, I checked in again to get on the list. 10-15 minutes. Perfect. I pointed to the corner where we were (the closest corner to the host's desk). Nate shows up around 7, we have a drink at the bar (Ryan and I had already been drinking there).
Now, they're not handing out the flashing vibrating gizmos, but simply screaming out names of people waiting in their atrium. Cheesecake Factory has high ceilings and is busy. It's loud. I know that we're going to miss our table, since we can't hear the screams in the loud bar area. Part of me wanted to see how it was going to go down (and to see if after showing up at 6:30 and being told to return, then returning around 7pm and pointing to where we were standing in their own bar, if we would be notified of our table), so I just let things take their courses, and predicted that in 10-15 minutes, they would not find us.
Well, of course they wouldn't. We weren't in a rush, so no big deal. Around 7:30, I checked in again. They said that our table had been called "a while ago," but that they would try to get us a table in a few minutes. Since we closed our tab, we then decided to wait in the atrium with all of the folks who haven't yet spent a dime there.
After another 10-15 minutes, we were seated around 7:45. Other tables for 2 were seated even after our final reminder to them. It seems to me that they should have been using the gizmos, or that they should have taken a couple of seconds to remember we were drinking at their bar 40 feet away, or that we should have had the next table right after checking in the final time.
I'm going to refute any arguments of "well, you should have been paying better attention," given our patronizing their bar, their inattentiveness, their lack of using the system that they had available, and the general volume and chaos in that place. Sure, if we were just waiting in their atrium and not paying attention, that's our fault. But, I think our bar tab gives us a Get Out of Jail Free card.
Honestly, overall, no big deal. No veto list for The C.F. The food was good. We weren't starving or looking to get in and out quickly.
But this is why busy places like Cheesecake Factory have systems.
Posted by Jason at 7:39 AM
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I'm so disgusted at this Chris Benoit story with these additional details of his strangling his wife, suffocating his child, then hanging himself.
In tribute to my grandfather, I had to X out his picture on the previous post. (He used to cross out the photos of people like Barbra Streisand and Bill Clinton - liberal folks he strongly disliked. For the record, I like liberal people, especially if they don't suffocate others.)
Posted by Jason at 5:14 PM
Very bizarre. Just last night, he was supposed to appear on a Pay-Per-View event in a title match (he no-showed, citing a family matter, and Johnny Nitro took his spot)
Vince McMahon is there in the ring of an empty arena, citing that the episode was supposed to be about his own "demise" (Vince was blown up in his limo a couple weeks ago, but since that occurred, not only did Chris Benoit actually die, but Sensational Sherri was also found dead. Needless to say, Vince is no longer dead when art reflects life a bit too much).
Rather, Vince announced the passing of Benoit, along with his wife and one of his children in their suburban Atlanta home. Last night's show was a tribute to Benoit, showing matches from throughout his career and interview segments of his wrestling friends.
What I find strange this morning, as details of the case are released and the whole thing seems to be a double murder-suicide, is that all of the interviews on WWE RAW last night had people (Stone Cold, Chavo Guerrero, Edge, John Cena, etc) discussing how much Benoit loved his family. Almost as if they knew what had happened and were attempting to clear his name before the facts were released.
What kind of man loves his family so much that he kills them and then himself? What a coward. Horrible.
Posted by Jason at 7:51 AM
Posted by Jason at 7:02 AM
Monday, June 25, 2007
I hadn't been to Newport in years. I thought we were going to wander around the harbor / downtown area, but we spent much of our time at the beach and walking the Cliff Walk past some of the mansions. That actually worked out better. Great ocean breezes, beautiful sun and scenery, fewer crowds of tourists (although along Cliff Walk, we heard many foreign languages).
During the drive, I developed an urge for clam cakes, and managed to convince the rest of the gang that we should eat lunch at the snack shed at the beach because we were hungry, it was there, and dinner downtown was going to be more involved. Plus, they had clam cakes. Truly, that was the only reason in my mind. I would have preferred we eat at the place Todd wanted, because he says the clam cakes are better, but we had too many non-seafoodies with us to risk a restaurant that didn't have dead animals from above the water.
There was, of course, a Del's Lemonade truck there, and after I quickly explained what a Del's was, we bought some after lunch. Since Del's is a Rhode Island thing, it's a necessity to buy one whenever I see a truck while in the Ocean State. Good stuff. Reminds me of college.
Waterfire is so well administered and attended, it almost looks like they have been doing it forever. I've been to it like 5 or 6 times, and its positive effect on Providence amazes me more every time I go. People don't seem to get tired of wandering around downtown and staring at bonfires in the river. It's a perfect outdoor festival - very European in nature. The restaurants and bars are full.
After Saturday's full day and the completion of the second coat of white paint on the deck railing (besides the touchups), however, I am spent. It shouldn't be relaxing and restful heading to the office, but that's what I'm looking forward to today - sitting on my butt behind a computer for much of Monday.
Posted by Jason at 7:18 AM
Friday, June 22, 2007
My esteemed 12th grade English teacher Mr. Naething mentioned once that whenever a conversation turns to the weather, he ends it and walks away (or hangs up, I suppose). His theory is that once the weather is discussed, there's nothing else of substance to discuss, and it's time to find a new conversation partner.
While I don't exactly walk away from people when they mention the weather, I am cognizant of weather-related conversations, and the hidden lack of substance behind them (I do agree that when it turns to weather, then it's time to wrap up).
With that said, the weather this week here in Boston has been spectacular. Perfect for deck painting and a road trip to Newport and Providence for Waterfire (that's tomorrow). This pic is from the last Waterfire I saw in 2005.
Thinking back to my week in New Orleans last week - just for perspective - take the warmest point of each day this week, add 10-15 degrees, include 100% humidity, remove our refreshing daily ocean breeze, and there you have New Orleans.
Posted by Jason at 8:26 AM
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Without becoming too political or interjecting any class or race double-standards that underlie the reactions about the terrible story of the stabbing at The 6 House here in Southie a few days ago, I really needed to say shame on you to the Boston Herald for their biased coverage of the news. The past is the past. Southie is a neighborhood of progress, moving forward. Why dredge up old skeletons? I'm part of the new residents of Southie, and my perception of this area is rightfully optimistic and filled with all the good that Southie has. I'm not living in the past, nor did i live here in the past. Time to move on.
I wasn't at the bar. In fact, I rarely frequent it, though I was there a couple times right after they rebranded and reopened. I drive past it all the time, and wouldn't think twice about going there, even now.
It's events like this that remind everyone that, unfortunately, Southie continues to possess elements of its less gentrified past. It's still the city, parts of it can be rough at times, people need to be aware and smart.
Southie residents - new and old - want a safe living environment. Nobody condones this, nor do we want drugs or violence in our community. It's unfortunate that both continue to operate.
But would closing The 6 House solve the problem? Probably not. Better security might. Better policing might (after all, there is a precinct right across the street). How about a neighborhood watch project? The 6 House should take responsibility for the safety of its patrons, so perhaps fault lies in poor judgement on their part in this area.
But the 6 House is not a dive. Add it to Shenanigan's, Amrhein's, Boston Beer Garden, and The Playwright, and there's 5 similar bar/grill type restaurants along Broadway - all recently redone, all cleaner, brighter, and more welcoming. All but the Beer Garden redone since I moved to Southie in 2003. All steps in the right direction for Southie.
Parts of Southie are also some of the city's most beautiful and charming. The Seaport area is booming. The beachfront along Dorchester Bay and out to Castle Island is my favorite place to spend a sunny day in the city. The Broadway T stop area has tons of new lofts entering the market. West 2nd St. has many new condo projects. The area is attracting the next generation of owners.
Closing The 6 House will chase "the bad element patrons" to yet another Southie bar. Let's solve the problem, not create more. Let's work on the crime and the criminals. Renovated condos and places like The 6 house are part of the solution - moving the neighborhood forward. If nothing changes, nothing changes.
Posted by Jason at 4:19 PM
Posted by Jason at 7:58 AM
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Posted by Jason at 7:06 AM
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Posted by Jason at 7:15 AM
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Posted by Jason at 10:59 PM
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Posted by Jason at 8:46 AM
Friday, June 15, 2007
Pet Peeve of the day - lack of plugs.
Why can't airports make working plugs more plentiful? To find a plug near a seat is next to impossible. To find a working plug seems to be an additional challenge. Here in Atlanta, I sat next to 2 different plugs, neither of which worked.
And don't get me started about automatic soap dispensers and automatic faucets. Finally after the third sink I approached, soap squirted out. Machines don't seem to like me today.
Posted by Jason at 2:03 PM
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Contrary to my welcoming countenance and inviting personality, I love a good fight.
I had the pleasure of confronting a vendor at our convention today. Without naming names, we had a number of "Lead Generator" companies do just that - generate leads of potential students for our schools. Some of them worked out well, others were bad, and still others were terrible. These guys were terrible.
So, I sauntered up to their booth, they chatted with me, smiling faces, blah blah blah. I told them more about where I worked and quickly told them that we were an existing client, and that this vendor's leads were the absolute worst we saw and how displeased we were with their company. Like clockwork, one dude walked away, another dude continued talking to me but did not look me in the face, then soon walked away (from their own booth mind you), and the other two were left to explain the carnage - one of whom had a smug look on his face as if he hopes to meet me in a dark alley later so he can impale me with a blunt object and dump my body in Lake Pontchartrain. If nobody hears from me in Boston this weekend, that's probably what happened to me.
Posted by Jason at 8:02 PM
During the local new this morning, they showed the 7 day forecast here in New Orleans. Highs above 89 and lows around 73, with chances of thundershowers every day. This combination of heat and humidity makes northeasterners like myself became sweaty and dripping messes.
I took a walk yesterday morning before my 2pm meeting, wearing a short-sleeved shirt and shorts, and creating massive amounts of perspiration. It was gross. I need to operate in air conditioning, with gentle ocean breezes and temperatures closer to where Boston is today - high 60's. Perhaps this is why my hotel rate is low - lower demand for rooms in the summer?
I have always preferred cold to hot - you can always add more clothes and layers, but you can only take so many off until you're less than decent.
Posted by Jason at 8:26 AM
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I returned from my evening out in New Orleans to find this tray of strawberries and chilled sparkling wine in my room.
I'm assuming they put it in the wrong room, as I'm not here with any fanfare or as a special invited guest of the hotel's. Nonetheless, a very nice sentiment, especially from a hotel charging me $69/night. The more I think about it, this entire stay must be coded strangely in their computer. Sometimes clerical and data errors rock.
Posted by Jason at 10:42 AM
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I'm back on the road this week, and once again find myself in New Orleans. I find it odd that there is no nonstop direct service from Boston to New Orleans. JetBlue flies here, so hopefully in the near future they will add a nonstop BOS-MSY.
I flew Delta, connecting through Atlanta, an airport I strongly dislike due to its size. I believe this is my first time connecting through ATL. Besides today, all of the times I see ATL, it's because that's where I'm headed.
This week, I'm here for convention. Usually I'm not a big fan of conventions, but this one is different. I am so used to going to a convention and having to sell something, present something, be on a panel, be on a main stage, or do something else much more involved than wander around a convention hall, attend workshops, meet vendors, and be taken out for a couple dinners. It's a much different perspective when you're the one being pitched to.
The convention's main hotel was booked up, but I found an unexpectedly inexpensive $69/night rate at the Renaissance Pere Marquette. I have no idea why the room was so cheap, since it's right next to the French Quarter, it's one of Marriott's "upper" brands, it's a convention week, and the hotel is oversold Wed night. Maybe I just lucked out. Always nice to save a couple bucks for the company.
Posted by Jason at 8:00 PM
Monday, June 11, 2007
I am a snob when it comes to music. It's a very important part of my life, and my tastes are not always mainstream. Not that I'm seeking to push loads of Gregorian chants to an unsuspecting public, but I'm most certainly not going to select The Fray and Nelly Furtado when given the option. While I would prefer to pick songs that I truly want to hear, I hedge my picks with songs I wouldn't mind, plus that I know others are fine with as well.
Posted by Jason at 7:11 PM
I found this pic of Johnny Damon this morning on the NY Daily News' Yankees blog. I thought it was cool. Not because of Johnny, but rather the wooden bat in mid-split during the back swing.
All of a sudden, the Yanks are 9.5 games back and have won 9 of 11. I know I'm in the minority living here in Boston and - God forbid - staying allegiant to my New York roots and cheering for the team I watched during my entire childhood.
Sox - Yanks is the best rivalry in all sports. That's a biased opinion, but I am the one who writes Platinum Elite, so I'm allowed to say that here.
We have been fortunate over the past 11 years to see Yanks - Sox pretty much 1-2 for a decade, and combined we have seen 5 World Series Titles and 7 World Series appearances between the two teams. Baseball is really more exciting when both teams are doing well. I'm glad to see the Yanks make a run at it after being down 14.5 games for obvious reasons, but more diplomatically among Boston fans - I think it's good for the game and the rivalry.
Posted by Jason at 7:31 AM
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Posted by Jason at 9:53 AM
Saturday, June 09, 2007
I have never seen this happen before. I got a call from John on Thursday - he wanted to get lunch. We agreed to meet at Bertucci's in Kenmore. John found a parking spot right on Beacon St. right outside of Bertucci's.
He parked at a meter that was Out of Order, so he had an hour for free. When we emerged from lunch, John had a $25 ticket, and the meter was suddenly working. I suppose meter have to switch from broken to repaired at some point, but wouldn't it be fair to put for a repairman to put an hour on a meter if a car is parked there when he repairs it? (Assuming a human repairs it and it doesn't all of a sudden awake from brokenville automatically).
I saw a meter maid on the walk back to the office, and explained the problem to her. While she wasn't rude or anything, she said that he probably would have to appeal the fine in writing. Never one to turn down a confrontation, I went in for the kill. I'm sure when she saw me running up to her yelling "excuse me" and then asking a question on John's behalf, she was thinking "uh-oh, how can I get away from this person as quickly as possible."
Posted by Jason at 8:39 AM
Friday, June 08, 2007
I just learned that Platinum Elite has company on the Internet.
If you're looking for a cheerleading camp outside of Atlanta with a touch of religion thrown in(God's blessing is always welcome when you're being propped up 15 feet off the floor by another child), this organization looks like the place to be!
For quite some time, Platinum Elite (this blog) was the 3rd natural search at Google when searching on the words "Platinum Elite." This always amazed me since I do nothing to optimize the site, and Continental Airlines - the inspiration for the name - was nowhere to be found.
Now, the girls with spirit have bumped me down to #5.
Posted by Jason at 2:05 PM
I'm just not cut out for daily T commuting. I left my car at the office after Scooper Bowl Wednesday night, since we took the T to City Hall Plaza, and it was just as easy to T it home from there.
I would estimate that if everything was timed perfectly, the commute from door to door would be 45 minutes. 15 minutes to walk to the Andrew T stop, Red line to Park St., Green line to Fenway, 3 minute walk to the office.
My error was simple. At Park St., there were 2 T's boarding passengers. I picked the unmarked one near the C line platform that was filling with people, figuring that based on where it was parked, it could be a C line, but nonetheless I had a 75% that it wasn't an E line. Yep - it was an E. Game over. Maybe it was really parked at the E platform, and I read the wrong sign.
Good thing the weather was beautiful yesterday, and the walk from Huntington was a breeze. But I still always end up sweaty after crowded T rides.
Posted by Jason at 7:27 AM
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I'm a charitable guy. When I heard that The Jimmy Fund was asking for $7 donations at City Hall Plaza yesterday at Scooper Bowl, I was more than happy to oblige for this excellent organization.
They were also asking donors to eat copious amounts of ice cream, probably because children love ice cream, and they wanted us to keep the Jimmy Fund children in our hearts, prayers, and bellies. Who am I to turn away the interests and needs of children?
I arranged to meet Kelly and Brian there, and invited co-worker Karin, who has moved from our Connecticut offices to our Boston office just this week. What a fitting way to involve her in local charities.
All of the big guns were there with 3 or 4 flavors each. Caramel and blueberry flavors seemed to be overrepresented among all booths, while chocolate-based concoctions were almost entirely absent.
Posted by Jason at 6:35 AM
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Leo loves me. I first learned this one day when I was home working and I heard his loud meows in my front hallway (they are all indoor cats, and my neighbors like to let them roam around in the staircases every so often, which is fine with me). When I opened the door to see what was going on, he raced inside. I saw my neighbors later, and learned that Leo absolutely loves sitting outside my door.
It's not just my front door. When the cats roam the back staircase, they sit at my door there as well. And meow. Loudly. Yesterday I was sanding the deck (again), and after working on the part flush against the house, I stood up and was startled to find Leo staring at me. Monitoring my progress. Plotting something.
As I mentioned once before on Platinum Elite, 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.
Deep down inside, I truly believe that cats are Satan's Servants. Friends with Lucifer himself. And the devil has told his cat minions to go out and find the weak humans, act all coy and cute, and destroy them. As Leo is the leader of the other 3 cats in my building (they follow him around live good little soldiers). He is my sworn enemy.
Arching your back and rubbing up against my leg will do nothing for your cause. Meowing repeatedly and loudly to come inside and show an interest in my place - no go.
I'm on to you, death bringer.
Posted by Jason at 8:08 AM
Monday, June 04, 2007
I had a meeting today with our web developer at one of my favorite places (Starbucks), and to my horror, I spotted this:
Yes, a new series has been released. I did some investigation online, and learned that the new '07 Parks Series consists of the following new ceramic mugs:
Boston (Boston Commons)
Los Angeles (Griffith Park)
New York (Central Park)
Philadelphia (Fairmount Park)
Phoenix (South Mountain Park)
Pittsburgh (Schenley Park)
Portland (Portland Rose Garden)
San Diego (Balboa Park)
San Francisco (Golden Gate Park)
Vancouver (Stanley Park)
Washington (Mt. Rainier National Park)
Washington D.C. (Cherry Blossoms)
Of course, I purchased the Boston mug (duh). I need an intervention.
Posted by Jason at 6:56 PM
I am a bit groggy after a late ending to the Sox-Yankees game last night. I'm guessing that this morning won't be the most productive throughout Boston with the game ending around midnight. The fans who attended the game and had to drive home to the suburbs must not have arrived home until well after 12:30 or 1.
Well, nothing wild happened this weekend. I stayed up until about 2:30 am Friday night, which is uncharacteristic of me. Jamen's birthday came and went after a fun evening, and now we're already counting down until his next birthday. He's unhappy that Leap Year creates an additional day until it's his birthday again.
Since I took 453 photos on the Great River Road Trip, and haven't had a chance to show them all, I think I'll post some of the more momerable ones here on Platinum Elite every so often.
Catfish are ugly suckers.
I sanded a bit more on Saturday. Sanding is becoming the bane of my existence. It just takes a lot longer in than I had anticipated. I had to order a couple replacement parts for my Cyclone 4-in-1 sander, because I managed to wear down the attachments that help me get in all of the nooks and crevasses. The deck is looking good, though.
It's been almost 36 hours since I stepped foot on the street outside. That will change momentarily once I head out to get to the office. Sometimes I like to see how long I can go at home. It's not usually preplanned, and was much simpler when I worked at home, and during the winter months of Boston gloom. And it's not like I'm being anti-social, because my friends were hanging out here Sat night and yesterday.
I'm leaning toward the purchase of a Nintendo Wii. The games look like relatively simple party games. But does playing Wii Tennis count as exercise? Maybe that would get me back on track, because I know that consuming brownies and the ingredients for Bananas Foster do not (thanks, friends).
Posted by Jason at 7:26 AM
Friday, June 01, 2007
Yesterday and today were and are John's and Jamen's birthdays respectively. It's good that both fall in different months, because of all of my friends, the two of them take their birthdays the absolute most seriously.
May is the "Celebration of Life," culminating in John's birthday. Last year, his daughter was also born in May, which automatically diverts much of the attention away from John. But thinking back to all prior years, I remember how important John's birthday is to John, so he still deserves a birthday nod. I'm hoping we have a chance to get together this weekend to celebrate.
Jamen hasn't named his birthday month, but tomorrow he will begin the countdown to next year's birthday. Jamen's half-birthday is also a bit of an event, so I like to point out how my birthday in November interferes with his cycle. My half-birthday and actual birthday are each about two weeks before Jamen's events, so if we're going to make a big deal about his, we have to make a big deal about mine first, and then he only gets two weeks until his day each time. Tonight is his party. If any incriminating photo ops occur, I will post them on Platinum Elite next week.
Feliz cumpleaños a mis dos amigos buenos!
Posted by Jason at 6:18 AM