50

Feb. 9th, 2017 08:40 am
jayfurr: (Default)

As of tonight, when we arrived in Honolulu and checked in to a hotel on Waikiki Beach, I have now been to all 50 U.S. states.  I don’t count “changed planes in an airport” visits; I’ve stayed overnight in almost all states and the ones I haven’t, I’ve driven around in, had a meal in, etcetera.


My 49th was Alaska, back in 2007.  Took ten years to cross off number 50, but I made it at last.

jayfurr: (Default)

Image result for crappy hawaiian souvenirs


Carole (aka Squeaky) and I are leaving for vacation in a couple of weeks. We’re heading to Hawaii, for a cruise that starts in Honolulu but spends a couple of days at Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai. The cruise is six nights and seven days, and we’ll be staying on Waikiki Beach for three days both before and after.


This is only our third cruise ever — we’re not really cruisy people. But the idea of carrying our hotel with us and visiting more than one island in this, our first trip to Hawaii, kind of appeals.


The thing that my thoughts keep coming back to, though, is the oddness of visiting a location that to me, will be rather exotic (I’ve been to 49 states, some Caribbean islands, and the UK and France, but never to Hawaii) but to others is a place they’ve often visited or, in some cases, they used to live in.


To me, it’s exotic. To them, it’s like reading about someone’s vacation to Parsippany, NJ. In other words, not that exciting, and what we’ll think of as “super cool and neat” they’ll think of as “they did THAT? When ___ was ten minutes away and much neater?”


I get the impression that I’m among the last of my friends to go to Hawaii, which I’m sure isn’t the case, but given how many people I’ve seen checking in from there, I know I’m not the first.


Does it sound like I think it’s not going to be as much fun to go someplace that everyone else has been?


I guess I might be conveying that impression. But in actuality, I’m not jealous that I’m only now going there when everyone else considers a Hawaii trip old hat; I’m just acutely sheepish about how pedestrian my “Once In A Lifetime” Big Hawaii Vacation is going to seem to some people.


(That’s me, always attempting to look at myself from another person’s point of view and automatically assuming that they’ll deem me hyper-lame.)


Ah, well. If my vacation photos result in massive ho-hums from all and sundry, I can always try to go someplace more interesting next time.


Maybe Tulsa.


jayfurr: (Cocoa Beach)


Carole (aka Squeaky) and I are leaving for vacation in a couple of weeks. We're heading to Hawaii, for a cruise that starts in Honolulu but spends a couple of days at Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai. The cruise is six nights and seven days, and we'll be staying on Waikiki Beach for three days both before and after.

This is only our third cruise ever -- we're not really cruisy people. But the idea of carrying our hotel with us and visiting more than one island in this, our first trip to Hawaii, kind of appeals.

The thing that my thoughts keep coming back to, though, is the oddness of visiting a location that to me, will be rather exotic (I've been to 49 states, some Caribbean islands, and the UK and France, but never to Hawaii) but to others is a place they've often visited or, in some cases, they used to live in.

To me, it's exotic. To them, it's like reading about someone's vacation to Parsippany, NJ. In other words, not that exciting, and what we'll think of as "super cool and neat" they'll think of as "they did THAT? When ___ was ten minutes away and much neater?"

I get the impression that I'm among the last of my friends to go to Hawaii, which I'm sure isn't the case, but given how many people I've seen checking in from there, I know I'm not the first.

Does it sound like I think it's not going to be as much fun to go someplace that everyone else has been?

I guess I might be conveying that impression. But in actuality, I'm not jealous that I'm only now going there when everyone else considers a Hawaii trip old hat; I'm just acutely sheepish about how pedestrian my "Once In A Lifetime" Big Hawaii Vacation is going to seem to some people.

(That's me, always attempting to look at myself from another person's point of view and automatically assuming that they'll deem me hyper-lame.)

Ah, well. If my vacation photos result in massive ho-hums from all and sundry, I can always try to go someplace more interesting next time.

Maybe Tulsa.
jayfurr: (Default)

As someone who spends a lot of time on aircraft (122 flights in 2016), I’ve gotten a lot of experience sitting in a semi-comfortable chair and staring blankly off into space.


I take a book along on trips and of course I’ve got my Nexus tablet, which doubles as a ebook reader, if I want to read anything I’ve downloaded. Often, though, neither gets any use. I hop on the plane, stow my backpack in the overhead, take a seat, and either go straight to sleep or I adopt a ten thousand foot stare that leaves me almost entirely unaware of what’s going on around me.


Yesterday we’d been airborne for about five minutes before I went “Oh. We took off.”


I think this behavior sort of creeps people out. You know how cats sometimes like to sit staring worriedly at something only they can see? I do that sometimes too, with much the same result on the people around me.



Friday night I found myself in seat 4B on a regional jet on the way home from Chicago to Burlington. I wasn’t at all sleepy and I didn’t really feel like reading, so for some reason I found myself staring fixedly upwards toward a light on the ceiling of the cabin, completely lost in thought.



The light wasn’t on — the cabin had been darkened for evening travel and most people weren’t using their individual reading lights. The light was in no way remarkable. But I stared right at it, like a cobra trying to hypnotize its prey, for so long that eventually it freaked out the flight attendant. He came back and somewhat timidly asked me if there was some problem with the cabin ceiling; he even poked the panel with the light in case it was loose or something.


I replied “No, no, I was just staring off into space.” Then went right back to looking at the ceiling.


He stood there and looked worried for a moment, then turned and went back to his jumpseat, glancing back over his shoulder at me a couple times in case I gathered myself to spring (or something).


I don’t know exactly what that scores on the “Weirdo On The Plane” index, but I bet it’s pretty good.


jayfurr: (Coffee at Nickels)
As someone who spends a lot of time on aircraft (122 flights in 2016), I've gotten a lot of experience sitting in a semi-comfortable chair and staring blankly off into space.

I take a book along on trips and of course I've got my Nexus tablet, which doubles as a ebook reader, if I want to read anything I've downloaded.  Often, though, neither gets any use.  I hop on the plane, stow my backpack in the overhead, take a seat, and either go straight to sleep or I adopt a ten thousand foot stare that leaves me almost entirely unaware of what's going on around me.

Yesterday we'd been airborne for about five minutes before I went "Oh.  We took off."

I think this behavior sort of creeps people out.   You know how cats sometimes like to sit staring worriedly at something only they can see?  I do that sometimes too, with much the same result on the people around me.



Friday night I found myself in seat 4B on a regional jet on the way home from Chicago to Burlington.  I wasn't at all sleepy and I didn't really feel like reading, so for some reason I found myself staring fixedly upwards toward a light on the ceiling of the cabin, completely lost in thought.



The light wasn't on -- the cabin had been darkened for evening travel and most people weren't using their individual reading lights.  The light was in no way remarkable.  But I stared right at it, like a cobra trying to hypnotize its prey, for so long that eventually it freaked out the flight attendant.  He came back and somewhat timidly asked me if there was some problem with the cabin ceiling; he even poked the panel with the light in case it was loose or something.

I replied "No, no, I was just staring off into space."  Then went right back to looking at the ceiling.

He stood there and looked worried for a moment, then turned and went back to his jumpseat, glancing back over his shoulder at me a couple times in case I gathered myself to spring (or something).

I don't know exactly what that scores on the "Weirdo On The Plane" index, but I bet it's pretty good.
jayfurr: (Playalinda Beach)
This has been, by any account, a brutal winter in Vermont: third snowiest overall -- and the snowiest February on record. Great for the ski resorts. Not so great for Carole's mental health. It seems like every day a few more inches of snow fell; there comes a point where you just say "I know I live in northern New England I know we get snow. BUT ENOUGH ALREADY!" We were to the point where we wouldn't refer to 'plowing our driveway' or 'snowthrowing our driveway'. Excavating might have been a more appropriate phrase: we found ourselves just about tunneling between ever-climbing walls of snow on either side of the road.

It got so bad that when the official first day of spring arrived - the vernal equinox, in other words -- Carole was just about ready to snap. While I had been able to get out of town periodically for work, visiting South Carolina (in time for a two week ice storm), New Jersey (in time for an ice storm), Hartford (in time for a blizzard), Seattle (fine weather), South Carolina (again, but this time with wonderful weather), and Silver Spring, Maryland (also nice weather) -- Carole had been stuck at home in dark, snowy, cold, wintry, snowy Vermont. She'd been working a temporary job an hour from home -- a job that was okay as far as jobs go, but which required a drive that left her worn out and exhausted at the end of every day. So: come the equinox, with no travel on the horizon for me for the foreseeable future, and with Carole gibbering and experiencing visitations from Elder Beings, I told my boss I'd be taking a long weekend, got on Priceline, and booked a long weekend in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

The fun part of the vacation for me: not telling Carole where we were going. I only gave her about 36 hours warning that we were going somewhere... and it wasn't until Thursday evening, March 24, that I admitted we'd be flying and it would be to someplace where she wouldn't need cold-weather gear. She didn't find out that our ultimate destination was somewhere near Orlando until we checked in at the airport early on Friday morning. She enjoyed the suspense, to her credit, but said she was a little disappointed when she first heard "Orlando". I think she'd gotten it stuck in her head (with a little help from me) that we were going to some sort of "spa" -- perhaps one in Quebec that we could drive to -- and even after she found out we were flying she still thought "spa weekend". I guess I can understand that -- hanging out in a spa near Orlando really doesn't sound that exciting.

But when we got to the Orlando airport around 12:30 that day, I told her we still had an hour's drive in front of us -- and then we beelined it east to Cocoa Beach, immediately south of Cape Canaveral, the Kennedy Space Center, and Canaveral National Seashore. I'd gotten us a reduced-rate room at the Doubletree hotel on the beach and even though we were paying a Priceline rate and weren't eligible for a Hilton room upgrade, my Hilton Honors diamond status got us a whole souvenir can of Doubletree chocolate chip cookies and free admission to the "executive lounge" on the top floor. Meaning, snacks and drinks in the evening and free breakfast in the morning... and an almost unlimited supply of Doubletree chocolate chip cookies.

Why'd I pick Cocoa Beach? Well, two reasons: 1) it was a reasonable distance away from a major airport that I could get a good Priceline fare to, and 2) I knew it had a national seashore not far away. Carole doesn't always deal well with crowds, especially when she's tired and punchy, and I envisioned us basically spending the whole weekend hanging out on the beach. NOT doing miniature golf. NOT going to Disney. NOT trying to rush around and do as much as possible in as short a time as possible. And for the most part, that's what we did. We spent Friday afternoon on the beach and then had a very forgettable dinner. (But we found an ice cream shop across the street that had a karaoke machine! Win!) We spent all day Saturday up at Canaveral National Seashore and did a "3-Day Training Walk" on the lightly thronged Playalinda Beach... then had another fairly forgettable dinner. And on Sunday, we went to a GREAT breakfast/dessert brunch cafe, bought cheap boogie boards, and frolicked in the surf. We walked another four miles or so, this time through fairly large crowds on the public and hotel beaches in Cocoa Beach, then returned back via the main drag, Atlantic Avenue. And had another forgettable dinner. Our meals were basically, with the exception of that great Sunday brunch, absolutely not worth mentioning. I'll also spare you a detailed recitation of the tedious Monday we spent traveling home; rain, road closures, and a too-lengthy Priceline layover at JFK did their best to un-relax us but three days of perfect weather had left us sufficiently charged up that we arrived home feeling good anyway.

Since we returned home, it's been, well, a fairly blah time. I haven't gone on any business trips. It's all been working from the home office in South Burlington, doing course development and distance learning classes, and doing what I can to encourage Carole to keep applying for jobs even though the large candidate pool and small number of jobs available keeps her on the outside looking in. Our local economy has rebounded, or so they say... but apparently, Carole is fighting a large number of accountants for the jobs in that field that come open. Or firms simply aren't hiring and are sticking to temporary positions. Or something. In any case, it's discouraging. And worst of all -- spring has been slow to come.

We had a week of teasingly nice days in the low 40s -- followed by threats of snow and chilly conditions barely above freezing. We went out one Saturday for a 3-Day training walk on the waterfront in Burlington and were so cold, thanks to strong breezes off the still-partly-frozen lake and temperatures that got nowhere near as high as forecast, that we bailed and went home after only four miles. And then it got cold and stayed cold for another week. Just plain frustrating.

And on Saturday, with temperatures rearing into the low 50s, we tried again... and stupidly (it's my fault) tried going for a training walk on the Stowe (Vermont) Recreation Path. We drove on snow-and-ice-free roads and streets all the way to the parking lot for the Path... then found out that the nice clean dry clear walking path we could see from the parking lot was actually mostly-to-completely covered by snow. (That explained why we saw so many happy cheerful people heading down the trail and coming right back 10 minutes later.) Dratted stuff, snow. Takes forever to melt even when the temperatures are in the 50s and the sun is out.

And on top of that I've apparently done some sort of damage to my left knee. I injured it running on a banked track in February and took it easy for a month, but on Friday I did a series of crunches on our crunch board and apparently strained my left iliotibial ... the result being incredible stiffness and soreness that left me basically hamstrung. I could hop, but the leg simply would not bear my weight if I tried to actually walk on it. It was better the next day, but the fact that a simple set of abdominal crunches strained it that badly worries me a lot. Walking hasn't caused it to flare up, but trying to run does and I'm afraid to even try bicycling. And that really bothers me because I'd been looking forward to it.

But none of the annoyances we've dealt with since returning from Florida trump the big one: basement flooding. Our gutters are clogged and very high up and not easy to get to, and rain the last few days has been bypassing the downspouts and just spilling over the sides of the gutters any old place. And melting snow and last fall's rains have caused some erosion at the corner of the house on the northwest side, right under our deck, and the wall there has been letting water in. We've had a few annoying days having to soak up water pooling on the basement floor with ratty old spare towels.

Today it rained so hard that we were down there putting down fresh towels every half hour all morning... and finally went to Home Depot and bought a LOT of topsoil in big bags to try to fill the eroded area and direct the water back away from the house. I made an impromptu little dam using plastic molding and waterproof caulk in the corner of the basement where the water's getting in so that at least it can't spread all over the floor and will stay confined to the one corner. And about the time all this was in place, today's hard rains stopped and the sun came out and the water stopped coming in. No idea if our patch job was sufficient (it probably wasn't). We really need to get someone out here with a TALL ladder (much taller than the extension ladder we already own) and no fear of heights to clean the gutters.

We made quite a few calls this afternoon and had one guy call to quote us a $65 per hour rate and another guy stopped by to give us an actual estimate of $180. Sigh. The alternative, unfortunately, is to buy a brand new and REALLY tall extension ladder AND rent a truck to get the thing home ... and I suspect that all might cost as much as the cleaning. And I'm not hyper-enthusiastic about climbing that high up on a ladder braced against vinyl siding and held at the bottom by my lovely wife... talented in many ways but possessed of an unfortunate tendency to get distracted at the worst possible moment. :)

So that's where we stand: not the most exciting life, but we did have a nice mini-vacation and the warm weather is (we think) finally on its way. Tonight is literally the first night all year it's been warm enough that we've had the windows open in the evening and the night air is full of the sound of spring peepers. Glad to have those little dudes back. It always cheers me up.


jayfurr: (Playalinda Beach)
This has been, by any account, a brutal winter in Vermont: third snowiest overall -- and the snowiest February on record. Great for the ski resorts. Not so great for Carole's mental health. It seems like every day a few more inches of snow fell; there comes a point where you just say "I know I live in northern New England I know we get snow. BUT ENOUGH ALREADY!" We were to the point where we wouldn't refer to 'plowing our driveway' or 'snowthrowing our driveway'. Excavating might have been a more appropriate phrase: we found ourselves just about tunneling between ever-climbing walls of snow on either side of the road.

It got so bad that when the official first day of spring arrived - the vernal equinox, in other words -- Carole was just about ready to snap. While I had been able to get out of town periodically for work, visiting South Carolina (in time for a two week ice storm), New Jersey (in time for an ice storm), Hartford (in time for a blizzard), Seattle (fine weather), South Carolina (again, but this time with wonderful weather), and Silver Spring, Maryland (also nice weather) -- Carole had been stuck at home in dark, snowy, cold, wintry, snowy Vermont. She'd been working a temporary job an hour from home -- a job that was okay as far as jobs go, but which required a drive that left her worn out and exhausted at the end of every day. So: come the equinox, with no travel on the horizon for me for the foreseeable future, and with Carole gibbering and experiencing visitations from Elder Beings, I told my boss I'd be taking a long weekend, got on Priceline, and booked a long weekend in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

The fun part of the vacation for me: not telling Carole where we were going. I only gave her about 36 hours warning that we were going somewhere... and it wasn't until Thursday evening, March 24, that I admitted we'd be flying and it would be to someplace where she wouldn't need cold-weather gear. She didn't find out that our ultimate destination was somewhere near Orlando until we checked in at the airport early on Friday morning. She enjoyed the suspense, to her credit, but said she was a little disappointed when she first heard "Orlando". I think she'd gotten it stuck in her head (with a little help from me) that we were going to some sort of "spa" -- perhaps one in Quebec that we could drive to -- and even after she found out we were flying she still thought "spa weekend". I guess I can understand that -- hanging out in a spa near Orlando really doesn't sound that exciting.

But when we got to the Orlando airport around 12:30 that day, I told her we still had an hour's drive in front of us -- and then we beelined it east to Cocoa Beach, immediately south of Cape Canaveral, the Kennedy Space Center, and Canaveral National Seashore. I'd gotten us a reduced-rate room at the Doubletree hotel on the beach and even though we were paying a Priceline rate and weren't eligible for a Hilton room upgrade, my Hilton Honors diamond status got us a whole souvenir can of Doubletree chocolate chip cookies and free admission to the "executive lounge" on the top floor. Meaning, snacks and drinks in the evening and free breakfast in the morning... and an almost unlimited supply of Doubletree chocolate chip cookies.

Why'd I pick Cocoa Beach? Well, two reasons: 1) it was a reasonable distance away from a major airport that I could get a good Priceline fare to, and 2) I knew it had a national seashore not far away. Carole doesn't always deal well with crowds, especially when she's tired and punchy, and I envisioned us basically spending the whole weekend hanging out on the beach. NOT doing miniature golf. NOT going to Disney. NOT trying to rush around and do as much as possible in as short a time as possible. And for the most part, that's what we did. We spent Friday afternoon on the beach and then had a very forgettable dinner. (But we found an ice cream shop across the street that had a karaoke machine! Win!) We spent all day Saturday up at Canaveral National Seashore and did a "3-Day Training Walk" on the lightly thronged Playalinda Beach... then had another fairly forgettable dinner. And on Sunday, we went to a GREAT breakfast/dessert brunch cafe, bought cheap boogie boards, and frolicked in the surf. We walked another four miles or so, this time through fairly large crowds on the public and hotel beaches in Cocoa Beach, then returned back via the main drag, Atlantic Avenue. And had another forgettable dinner. Our meals were basically, with the exception of that great Sunday brunch, absolutely not worth mentioning. I'll also spare you a detailed recitation of the tedious Monday we spent traveling home; rain, road closures, and a too-lengthy Priceline layover at JFK did their best to un-relax us but three days of perfect weather had left us sufficiently charged up that we arrived home feeling good anyway.

Since we returned home, it's been, well, a fairly blah time. I haven't gone on any business trips. It's all been working from the home office in South Burlington, doing course development and distance learning classes, and doing what I can to encourage Carole to keep applying for jobs even though the large candidate pool and small number of jobs available keeps her on the outside looking in. Our local economy has rebounded, or so they say... but apparently, Carole is fighting a large number of accountants for the jobs in that field that come open. Or firms simply aren't hiring and are sticking to temporary positions. Or something. In any case, it's discouraging. And worst of all -- spring has been slow to come.

We had a week of teasingly nice days in the low 40s -- followed by threats of snow and chilly conditions barely above freezing. We went out one Saturday for a 3-Day training walk on the waterfront in Burlington and were so cold, thanks to strong breezes off the still-partly-frozen lake and temperatures that got nowhere near as high as forecast, that we bailed and went home after only four miles. And then it got cold and stayed cold for another week. Just plain frustrating.

And on Saturday, with temperatures rearing into the low 50s, we tried again... and stupidly (it's my fault) tried going for a training walk on the Stowe (Vermont) Recreation Path. We drove on snow-and-ice-free roads and streets all the way to the parking lot for the Path... then found out that the nice clean dry clear walking path we could see from the parking lot was actually mostly-to-completely covered by snow. (That explained why we saw so many happy cheerful people heading down the trail and coming right back 10 minutes later.) Dratted stuff, snow. Takes forever to melt even when the temperatures are in the 50s and the sun is out.

And on top of that I've apparently done some sort of damage to my left knee. I injured it running on a banked track in February and took it easy for a month, but on Friday I did a series of crunches on our crunch board and apparently strained my left iliotibial ... the result being incredible stiffness and soreness that left me basically hamstrung. I could hop, but the leg simply would not bear my weight if I tried to actually walk on it. It was better the next day, but the fact that a simple set of abdominal crunches strained it that badly worries me a lot. Walking hasn't caused it to flare up, but trying to run does and I'm afraid to even try bicycling. And that really bothers me because I'd been looking forward to it.

But none of the annoyances we've dealt with since returning from Florida trump the big one: basement flooding. Our gutters are clogged and very high up and not easy to get to, and rain the last few days has been bypassing the downspouts and just spilling over the sides of the gutters any old place. And melting snow and last fall's rains have caused some erosion at the corner of the house on the northwest side, right under our deck, and the wall there has been letting water in. We've had a few annoying days having to soak up water pooling on the basement floor with ratty old spare towels.

Today it rained so hard that we were down there putting down fresh towels every half hour all morning... and finally went to Home Depot and bought a LOT of topsoil in big bags to try to fill the eroded area and direct the water back away from the house. I made an impromptu little dam using plastic molding and waterproof caulk in the corner of the basement where the water's getting in so that at least it can't spread all over the floor and will stay confined to the one corner. And about the time all this was in place, today's hard rains stopped and the sun came out and the water stopped coming in. No idea if our patch job was sufficient (it probably wasn't). We really need to get someone out here with a TALL ladder (much taller than the extension ladder we already own) and no fear of heights to clean the gutters.

We made quite a few calls this afternoon and had one guy call to quote us a $65 per hour rate and another guy stopped by to give us an actual estimate of $180. Sigh. The alternative, unfortunately, is to buy a brand new and REALLY tall extension ladder AND rent a truck to get the thing home ... and I suspect that all might cost as much as the cleaning. And I'm not hyper-enthusiastic about climbing that high up on a ladder braced against vinyl siding and held at the bottom by my lovely wife... talented in many ways but possessed of an unfortunate tendency to get distracted at the worst possible moment. :)

So that's where we stand: not the most exciting life, but we did have a nice mini-vacation and the warm weather is (we think) finally on its way. Tonight is literally the first night all year it's been warm enough that we've had the windows open in the evening and the night air is full of the sound of spring peepers. Glad to have those little dudes back. It always cheers me up.


jayfurr: (Kayaking Colchester Reef)
I don't deal well with inactivity. I prefer to be busy, busy, busy DOIN' STUFF.

Thus I think it's safe to say that today isn't going well for me. I'm in South Carolina to train customers on our software and due to inclement weather the customer decided not to hold training today. Probably for the best -- the local drivers absolutely don't know how to drive in ice and snow. So I'm sort of sitting around the hotel doing stuff I ought to be doing -- taking mandatory online training on topics that I'm allegedly supposed to know but in fact have absolutely no need for whatsoever, for example -- and just drumming my fingers.

To make matters worse: I was here all last week, but wound up only doing a half day of training on Thursday and none at all on Friday. (It was due to schedule changes and stuff. It happens.) Bored, bored, bored. I did e-mail, filed e-mail, responded to e-mail, emptied my inbox, and hoped someone would call needing my help on something. At 5 o'clock I said "ARGH" and turned off my laptop.

On Saturday I drove down to Atlanta in the morning, did a 9 mile training walk for the 3-Day with some members of my 2011 Atlanta 3-Day team, took a stuffed animal to see the World of Coca Cola tourist attraction, then drove back in the evening. (Yes, I did in fact take a stuffed polar bear named "Colabear" to the World of Coca-Cola. Since my wife and I don't have any kids, we have a variety of stuffed animals that we've assigned personalities to, and we sometimes take the whimsicality a bit farther than most people would. I'd say 'it keeps us sane', but I think that ship has sailed.)

On Sunday I sat around the hotel room and did NOTHIN'. Bad weather was in the forecast and I didn't want to risk getting stuck an hour from the hotel by a sudden onslaught of icy freezing rain or something, so I stuck it out here, watched some Netflix episodes of "My Name Is Earl", and mentally cataloged all the things I could have been doing if I were at home.

I don't often stay on the road for more than a week, but when I'm two flight legs from home in an area with few evening flights, there seems to be little point flying home just to do laundry and turn around and fly back 12 hours after I arrive. If I'd flown home on Saturday I'd have gotten home around 1 pm, literally done laundry and maybe cooked another week's food for Carole, and then I'd have flown back down here yesterday. So: I stayed put.

Okay, so, it's easier on me to not spend all that pointless time on an airplane breathing recycled air and other people's germs, but on the other hand, sitting in a hotel room boredly web surfing and wishing it was nice out or that I was in some area chock ful of interesting things to see and do... that's not so fun either.

I thought about going out to a used book store and buying a random book or two, but I read so damn fast that I'd have them read in about 90 minutes and been bored again. It was hard to get up the get-up-and-go to go do that. (This is why I don't own a Kindle or Nook: I'd bankrupt us buying e-books.)

I wonder if the predicted freezing rain and "wintry mix" we're scheduled to get the rest of today and tonight will keep the customer closed tomorrow? I may just have to start carving a life-sized bust of Sitting Bull out of plasticine or something like that or just plain go crazy.


jayfurr: (Kayaking Colchester Reef)
I don't deal well with inactivity. I prefer to be busy, busy, busy DOIN' STUFF.

Thus I think it's safe to say that today isn't going well for me. I'm in South Carolina to train customers on our software and due to inclement weather the customer decided not to hold training today. Probably for the best -- the local drivers absolutely don't know how to drive in ice and snow. So I'm sort of sitting around the hotel doing stuff I ought to be doing -- taking mandatory online training on topics that I'm allegedly supposed to know but in fact have absolutely no need for whatsoever, for example -- and just drumming my fingers.

To make matters worse: I was here all last week, but wound up only doing a half day of training on Thursday and none at all on Friday. (It was due to schedule changes and stuff. It happens.) Bored, bored, bored. I did e-mail, filed e-mail, responded to e-mail, emptied my inbox, and hoped someone would call needing my help on something. At 5 o'clock I said "ARGH" and turned off my laptop.

On Saturday I drove down to Atlanta in the morning, did a 9 mile training walk for the 3-Day with some members of my 2011 Atlanta 3-Day team, took a stuffed animal to see the World of Coca Cola tourist attraction, then drove back in the evening. (Yes, I did in fact take a stuffed polar bear named "Colabear" to the World of Coca-Cola. Since my wife and I don't have any kids, we have a variety of stuffed animals that we've assigned personalities to, and we sometimes take the whimsicality a bit farther than most people would. I'd say 'it keeps us sane', but I think that ship has sailed.)

On Sunday I sat around the hotel room and did NOTHIN'. Bad weather was in the forecast and I didn't want to risk getting stuck an hour from the hotel by a sudden onslaught of icy freezing rain or something, so I stuck it out here, watched some Netflix episodes of "My Name Is Earl", and mentally cataloged all the things I could have been doing if I were at home.

I don't often stay on the road for more than a week, but when I'm two flight legs from home in an area with few evening flights, there seems to be little point flying home just to do laundry and turn around and fly back 12 hours after I arrive. If I'd flown home on Saturday I'd have gotten home around 1 pm, literally done laundry and maybe cooked another week's food for Carole, and then I'd have flown back down here yesterday. So: I stayed put.

Okay, so, it's easier on me to not spend all that pointless time on an airplane breathing recycled air and other people's germs, but on the other hand, sitting in a hotel room boredly web surfing and wishing it was nice out or that I was in some area chock ful of interesting things to see and do... that's not so fun either.

I thought about going out to a used book store and buying a random book or two, but I read so damn fast that I'd have them read in about 90 minutes and been bored again. It was hard to get up the get-up-and-go to go do that. (This is why I don't own a Kindle or Nook: I'd bankrupt us buying e-books.)

I wonder if the predicted freezing rain and "wintry mix" we're scheduled to get the rest of today and tonight will keep the customer closed tomorrow? I may just have to start carving a life-sized bust of Sitting Bull out of plasticine or something like that or just plain go crazy.


jayfurr: (Aaaaaaaaaaaargh! Redux)
I travel for work and fly United Airlines virtually everywhere I go. I'm a Premier Executive passenger -- not the highest of the high, but high enough that I often get upgraded to First Class when the time comes to print my boarding pass the night before a flight. The larger seats are nice and it's nice to have an easier time getting enough water to stay hydrated... but nonetheless, there's one thing about it that I really dislike. Hear me out, okay? This takes a tiny bit of explaining.

I'm a vegetarian. My profile at united.com says so. My travel profile at my company's travel booking website says so too.

I know that if I were to buy a first class ticket up front I'd have the option of indicating at the time of purchase that I want a vegetarian meal. That's standard. But for those of us who get a complimentary upgrade a day or so before a flight, there's no opportunity to speak up and say "Vegetarian meal, please." Trust me, I've looked all over the United website and it's not there. United does say in their FAQs that you need to request a special meal 24 hours OR MORE before your flight -- and thus, if I get an upgrade the night before a flight, it's far too late to do anything about it.

And I understand that. I'm ABSOLUTELY OKAY with that. If their catering department needs 24+ hours notice to make sure a special meal is loaded onto a plane, that's fine. Not a care in the world about it. If I'm worried about being hungry I can buy food before the flight, elect one of the United "snack boxes" that they have available for purchase back in coach (the "Luxe" box is fine, for example), or simply wait patiently until I arrive and eat then. It's NOT A PROBLEM. I want to get where I'm going on time in reasonable comfort -- getting fed is just icing on the cake.

So what's my issue?

My issue is that EVERY TIME I see the flight attendants in first class coming around with a clipboard murmuring to the passengers about the meal options ("We have a choice of a hot turkey sandwich or a cold chicken salad," etcetera, etcetera) I know what's coming. They're going to come to my seat, rattle off their spiel, and then, when I politely smile and say "Neither, please. I'm a vegetarian" they're going to stare at me like I've just barfed up a lapful of baby pythons. Then, in a strangled, frustrated voice, they're going to ask "DID YOU REQUEST A SPECIAL MEAL???" Not in the "oh gosh, our bad, did you request a special meal?" kind of way. But in the "oh God, another idiot" kind of way.

When I've said "No, but that's fine" they usually persist. "If you're a vegetarian you have to request a SPECIAL MEAL." And I go, "No, it's really okay. I'm fine." And they say "We could have had a special meal for you if you'd told us in advance."

And about that point, I start to get desperate. By now everyone in the first class cabin is looking at me wondering what my problem is. I say "I'm a Premier Executive passenger. I got a complimentary upgrade 18 hours ago. There wasn't any opportunity for me to request a special meal because it happened less than 24 hours before the flight. And in any case, it's FINE. I'm FINE. I don't need anything."

And they sigh and say "If you wanted a special meal you have to TELL US IN ADVANCE." And they turn with a long-suffering air of despair to the next passenger. "We have a hot turkey sandwich or a cold chicken salad."

I know you're just getting my side here -- and for all you know I'm one of those Passengers From Hell like the one who caused a Jet Blue flight attendant to snap, curse the passenger over the public address system, and then quit his job in spectacular fashion by deploying the emergency escape slide and running away across the airport tarmac. But I'm not. I rarely even carry any luggage on board other than my laptop because I don't WANT to be one of those passengers-from-hell who tries to fit whole sarcophagi and such into the overhead. I fly enough that I have deep respect for the long-suffering flight attendants who have to cope with all the weirdos that they see, and I see, each time we board a plane.

But for the love of God, PLEASE spread the word that upgraded passengers aren't given an option of requesting a special meal, and that even if it's in our profile on the United website it's still not going to make any difference, and that I don't need the public dressing-down every time I get on board an aircraft with an boarding pass marked "1st Class" in hand.

Okay?

jayfurr: (Aaaaaaaaaaaargh! Redux)
I travel for work and fly United Airlines virtually everywhere I go. I'm a Premier Executive passenger -- not the highest of the high, but high enough that I often get upgraded to First Class when the time comes to print my boarding pass the night before a flight. The larger seats are nice and it's nice to have an easier time getting enough water to stay hydrated... but nonetheless, there's one thing about it that I really dislike. Hear me out, okay? This takes a tiny bit of explaining.

I'm a vegetarian. My profile at united.com says so. My travel profile at my company's travel booking website says so too.

I know that if I were to buy a first class ticket up front I'd have the option of indicating at the time of purchase that I want a vegetarian meal. That's standard. But for those of us who get a complimentary upgrade a day or so before a flight, there's no opportunity to speak up and say "Vegetarian meal, please." Trust me, I've looked all over the United website and it's not there. United does say in their FAQs that you need to request a special meal 24 hours OR MORE before your flight -- and thus, if I get an upgrade the night before a flight, it's far too late to do anything about it.

And I understand that. I'm ABSOLUTELY OKAY with that. If their catering department needs 24+ hours notice to make sure a special meal is loaded onto a plane, that's fine. Not a care in the world about it. If I'm worried about being hungry I can buy food before the flight, elect one of the United "snack boxes" that they have available for purchase back in coach (the "Luxe" box is fine, for example), or simply wait patiently until I arrive and eat then. It's NOT A PROBLEM. I want to get where I'm going on time in reasonable comfort -- getting fed is just icing on the cake.

So what's my issue?

My issue is that EVERY TIME I see the flight attendants in first class coming around with a clipboard murmuring to the passengers about the meal options ("We have a choice of a hot turkey sandwich or a cold chicken salad," etcetera, etcetera) I know what's coming. They're going to come to my seat, rattle off their spiel, and then, when I politely smile and say "Neither, please. I'm a vegetarian" they're going to stare at me like I've just barfed up a lapful of baby pythons. Then, in a strangled, frustrated voice, they're going to ask "DID YOU REQUEST A SPECIAL MEAL???" Not in the "oh gosh, our bad, did you request a special meal?" kind of way. But in the "oh God, another idiot" kind of way.

When I've said "No, but that's fine" they usually persist. "If you're a vegetarian you have to request a SPECIAL MEAL." And I go, "No, it's really okay. I'm fine." And they say "We could have had a special meal for you if you'd told us in advance."

And about that point, I start to get desperate. By now everyone in the first class cabin is looking at me wondering what my problem is. I say "I'm a Premier Executive passenger. I got a complimentary upgrade 18 hours ago. There wasn't any opportunity for me to request a special meal because it happened less than 24 hours before the flight. And in any case, it's FINE. I'm FINE. I don't need anything."

And they sigh and say "If you wanted a special meal you have to TELL US IN ADVANCE." And they turn with a long-suffering air of despair to the next passenger. "We have a hot turkey sandwich or a cold chicken salad."

I know you're just getting my side here -- and for all you know I'm one of those Passengers From Hell like the one who caused a Jet Blue flight attendant to snap, curse the passenger over the public address system, and then quit his job in spectacular fashion by deploying the emergency escape slide and running away across the airport tarmac. But I'm not. I rarely even carry any luggage on board other than my laptop because I don't WANT to be one of those passengers-from-hell who tries to fit whole sarcophagi and such into the overhead. I fly enough that I have deep respect for the long-suffering flight attendants who have to cope with all the weirdos that they see, and I see, each time we board a plane.

But for the love of God, PLEASE spread the word that upgraded passengers aren't given an option of requesting a special meal, and that even if it's in our profile on the United website it's still not going to make any difference, and that I don't need the public dressing-down every time I get on board an aircraft with an boarding pass marked "1st Class" in hand.

Okay?

Tucson

Jun. 25th, 2010 07:36 am
jayfurr: (Default)
I'm in Tucson for a few days -- literally a few, as I flew in Wednesday and am only here to do two days of training before flying back to Vermont. I'll be in the air going and coming longer than I'll actually be on the ground -- or so it seems.

I'm a bit embarrassed by a couple of odd aspects to this trip's travel, though.

For one, the hotel with the best rate (my employer has negotiated rates with some major chains) near my customer is a golf resort, and I wound up in a "casita" room -- a multi-room suite with living room, bedroom, huge bathroom, kitchenette, foyer, and outside patio -- for a surprisingly low rate. The place has multiple pools and spas and everything. What it doesn't have is, well, guests. This place probably does a land-office business in the fall and winter, but right now, it's JUNE and the monsoon season is about to start, or so they tell me. That's, no doubt, why the rate is so low.

The other thing that's a bit weird in a nice way is that I've got a convertible as my rental car. Once in a while, like about every three years or so, Hertz randomly upgrades me to a convertible. It's usually when they've got an oversupply of convertibles on the lot and are out of the specific size of car I actually reserved. Since they give me the thing for the same rate, it's all good, but it's almost never in a city where I'd actually WANT a convertible. (I think once I got a convertible in New Jersey in late November.)

But it's nice having one here. Last night, I realized I had absolutely nothing else to do after watching the first two episodes of the revived Futurama on Comedy Central, so I said "What the heck" and hopped into the Sebring, put the top down, and headed north out of town on Arizona 77 a bit before sunset. Lovely evening, especially once I got out of town proper and away from the malls and fern bars and into the open desert.

So there I was, not in any huge kind of a hurry, moseying along just enjoying the evening air, when all of a sudden I saw a sign reading "Biosphere 2 3 MILES".

"Huh", I thought.

I'd forgotten that "Biosphere 2" was in this neck of the woods. If you don't even recall what it was, see the Wikipedia entry on it. Science it wasn't -- none of the people on the project had any real meaningful scientific credentials. Little wonder it was a miserable flop.

But that being said, I turned down the side road that led to the entrance, poked along looking at the desert and the occasional jackrabbit crossing my path, and found myself at a locked gate. Apparently the place is now being run by the University of Arizona and has some VERY pricey tours, but that was moot because I was there five hours after closing. But I can now say I've been to the GATE of Biosphere 2, and frankly, I'm good.

Tucson

Jun. 25th, 2010 07:35 am
jayfurr: (Sterling Pond)
I'm in Tucson for a few days -- literally a few, as I flew in Wednesday and am only here to do two days of training before flying back to Vermont. I'll be in the air going and coming longer than I'll actually be on the ground -- or so it seems.

I'm a bit embarrassed by a couple of odd aspects to this trip's travel, though.

For one, the hotel with the best rate (my employer has negotiated rates with some major chains) near my customer is a golf resort, and I wound up in a "casita" room -- a multi-room suite with living room, bedroom, huge bathroom, kitchenette, foyer, and outside patio -- for a surprisingly low rate. The place has multiple pools and spas and everything. What it doesn't have is, well, guests. This place probably does a land-office business in the fall and winter, but right now, it's JUNE and the monsoon season is about to start, or so they tell me. That's, no doubt, why the rate is so low.

The other thing that's a bit weird in a nice way is that I've got a convertible as my rental car. Once in a while, like about every three years or so, Hertz randomly upgrades me to a convertible. It's usually when they've got an oversupply of convertibles on the lot and are out of the specific size of car I actually reserved. Since they give me the thing for the same rate, it's all good, but it's almost never in a city where I'd actually WANT a convertible. (I think once I got a convertible in New Jersey in late November.)

But it's nice having one here. Last night, I realized I had absolutely nothing else to do after watching the first two episodes of the revived Futurama on Comedy Central, so I said "What the heck" and hopped into the Sebring, put the top down, and headed north out of town on Arizona 77 a bit before sunset. Lovely evening, especially once I got out of town proper and away from the malls and fern bars and into the open desert.

So there I was, not in any huge kind of a hurry, moseying along just enjoying the evening air, when all of a sudden I saw a sign reading "Biosphere 2 3 MILES".

"Huh", I thought.

I'd forgotten that "Biosphere 2" was in this neck of the woods. If you don't even recall what it was, see the Wikipedia entry on it. Science it wasn't -- none of the people on the project had any real meaningful scientific credentials. Little wonder it was a miserable flop.

But that being said, I turned down the side road that led to the entrance, poked along looking at the desert and the occasional jackrabbit crossing my path, and found myself at a locked gate. Apparently the place is now being run by the University of Arizona and has some VERY pricey tours, but that was moot because I was there five hours after closing. But I can now say I've been to the GATE of Biosphere 2, and frankly, I'm good.

The curse?

Apr. 15th, 2010 09:13 am
jayfurr: (Grimace)
A few weeks ago I traveled to a mid-Atlantic customer to do a couple days of training. Flew down, arriving by early afternoon the day before I was scheduled to be onsite, checked into my hotel, and then said to myself "Gee, I don't actually feel so good." Took a nap and woke up feeling pretty rotten. Went out, got a bunch of sick-person-friendly comestibles and beverages and came back to the room to try to perk myself up. Went back to bed and proceeded to have one of the worst nights I've ever had. Shaking with fever, then shivering with chills, achy throughout, just wishing I could die, etcetera.

Woke up in the morning and realized I was in no shape to be Mr. Perky Trainer for two days and called my boss, who then called the customer and explained the situation. I went back to bed, woke up in early afternoon, tried to find a local doctor who'd take me as a walk-in, couldn't, tried to get Anthem BCBS to help me out, and they couldn't. So I flew home that day and saw my doctor the next day and got told "48-hour stomach virus, we've seen a couple hundred people come through here with it, some of our staff even had it, it's awful, but it goes away quickly." And by that point, I was feeling much better. Pity it hadn't hit earlier in the week, but c'est la vie. The customer was understanding and we rescheduled for ... this week.

Flew down yesterday. Got there real early because I needed to be on a conference call all afternoon about an unrelated project and didn't want to be flying or risking taking the last flight out afterwards. My hotel was understanding and let me check in at 11. I went to my room, booted my laptop, checked email, and ... found a note from the customer sent while I was in the air saying "Stuff has come up. This week won't work at ALL". I wrote back to say, "er, I'm already here". They hemmed and hawed for a bit and then said "Sorry. There's really no way."

So I flew back the same day.

Prior to this stuff happening I'd never had a single occurrence of "go all the way to the customer's town and leave again without ever actually walking in their front door". Now it's happened twice in a month -- at the SAME CUSTOMER.

I think something, somewhere, doesn't want me training that customer.

The curse?

Apr. 15th, 2010 09:13 am
jayfurr: (Grimace)
A few weeks ago I traveled to a mid-Atlantic customer to do a couple days of training. Flew down, arriving by early afternoon the day before I was scheduled to be onsite, checked into my hotel, and then said to myself "Gee, I don't actually feel so good." Took a nap and woke up feeling pretty rotten. Went out, got a bunch of sick-person-friendly comestibles and beverages and came back to the room to try to perk myself up. Went back to bed and proceeded to have one of the worst nights I've ever had. Shaking with fever, then shivering with chills, achy throughout, just wishing I could die, etcetera.

Woke up in the morning and realized I was in no shape to be Mr. Perky Trainer for two days and called my boss, who then called the customer and explained the situation. I went back to bed, woke up in early afternoon, tried to find a local doctor who'd take me as a walk-in, couldn't, tried to get Anthem BCBS to help me out, and they couldn't. So I flew home that day and saw my doctor the next day and got told "48-hour stomach virus, we've seen a couple hundred people come through here with it, some of our staff even had it, it's awful, but it goes away quickly." And by that point, I was feeling much better. Pity it hadn't hit earlier in the week, but c'est la vie. The customer was understanding and we rescheduled for ... this week.

Flew down yesterday. Got there real early because I needed to be on a conference call all afternoon about an unrelated project and didn't want to be flying or risking taking the last flight out afterwards. My hotel was understanding and let me check in at 11. I went to my room, booted my laptop, checked email, and ... found a note from the customer sent while I was in the air saying "Stuff has come up. This week won't work at ALL". I wrote back to say, "er, I'm already here". They hemmed and hawed for a bit and then said "Sorry. There's really no way."

So I flew back the same day.

Prior to this stuff happening I'd never had a single occurrence of "go all the way to the customer's town and leave again without ever actually walking in their front door". Now it's happened twice in a month -- at the SAME CUSTOMER.

I think something, somewhere, doesn't want me training that customer.

Paris

Mar. 22nd, 2010 01:04 pm
jayfurr: (Bald Knob)
I've never been to Europe. I've seen 49 US states and about half the Canadian provinces and I've been to places like the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, and the Bahamas on a cruise, but I've never been across the Atlantic or Pacific at all. Blame it on a family tradition of every vacation being a long road trip to see American national parks.

But this summer we're finally going to Europe. Carole got to go to London when she was in college, but neither of us has ever been to France. Thanks to all the travel that I've done for work, I've got frequent flier tickets to Paris from Boston on Lufthansa that take us into Paris the day before Bastille Day and have us heading back out two days before the Boston Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure. That's going to be an interesting two weeks, to put it mildly: Paris, Normandy, Paris again, then home to spend four days crewing a 3-Day. Then back to the grind.

I'm tickled that I've accumulated enough Hilton points and award certificates earned via various promotions that we've got six nights at VERY expensive hotels FREE. Three days at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe, close to EVERYTHING. Right in center city Paris. Then we go to Normandy for three days and two nights, then come back and stay two nights at the Waldorf-Astoria Trianon Palace Versailles. Then one more night at the center city Hilton Arc de Triomphe, and then we fly back to the USA.

Thanks to all the award travel, the only major stuff we'll be paying for will be two nights at a hotel overlooking Omaha Beach, the train tickets there and back, and the Hertz rental car. Apparently Hertz points don't work in Europe, but the rental car won't be costing a lot anyway, not for the amount of time we'll have it up in Normandy.

I'm not sharing all this to brag or anything. We could never afford to do this sort of thing if we were paying for it all out of our own pockets -- but thanks to my travel-heavy work lifestyle, we're not going to have to.

And now we can focus on what we want to DO while we're in Paris. I mean, obviously we're going to spend a whole day at Versailles while we're staying down there, but we've got multiple days in Paris proper to plan out... allowing, of course, for the fact that ONE of those days will be Bastille Day. I told Carole it would be sort of like staying in a hotel on the Mall in Washington, DC on Independence Day. Quiet, it won't be. :)

Paris

Mar. 22nd, 2010 01:04 pm
jayfurr: (Bald Knob)
I've never been to Europe. I've seen 49 US states and about half the Canadian provinces and I've been to places like the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, and the Bahamas on a cruise, but I've never been across the Atlantic or Pacific at all. Blame it on a family tradition of every vacation being a long road trip to see American national parks.

But this summer we're finally going to Europe. Carole got to go to London when she was in college, but neither of us has ever been to France. Thanks to all the travel that I've done for work, I've got frequent flier tickets to Paris from Boston on Lufthansa that take us into Paris the day before Bastille Day and have us heading back out two days before the Boston Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure. That's going to be an interesting two weeks, to put it mildly: Paris, Normandy, Paris again, then home to spend four days crewing a 3-Day. Then back to the grind.

I'm tickled that I've accumulated enough Hilton points and award certificates earned via various promotions that we've got six nights at VERY expensive hotels FREE. Three days at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe, close to EVERYTHING. Right in center city Paris. Then we go to Normandy for three days and two nights, then come back and stay two nights at the Waldorf-Astoria Trianon Palace Versailles. Then one more night at the center city Hilton Arc de Triomphe, and then we fly back to the USA.

Thanks to all the award travel, the only major stuff we'll be paying for will be two nights at a hotel overlooking Omaha Beach, the train tickets there and back, and the Hertz rental car. Apparently Hertz points don't work in Europe, but the rental car won't be costing a lot anyway, not for the amount of time we'll have it up in Normandy.

I'm not sharing all this to brag or anything. We could never afford to do this sort of thing if we were paying for it all out of our own pockets -- but thanks to my travel-heavy work lifestyle, we're not going to have to.

And now we can focus on what we want to DO while we're in Paris. I mean, obviously we're going to spend a whole day at Versailles while we're staying down there, but we've got multiple days in Paris proper to plan out... allowing, of course, for the fact that ONE of those days will be Bastille Day. I told Carole it would be sort of like staying in a hotel on the Mall in Washington, DC on Independence Day. Quiet, it won't be. :)

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