Friday, January 27, 2012

Things about Traveling that I like

Last post I ranted on all of the bad things about traveling.  This week I’ll put a positive spin on traveling.

  1. Frequent flier free drink coupons.  Beside the ones I earn, I have a few other souces.  Now, before you get all in a huff, I’m not downing gin and tonics at seven in the morning on my way out.  But a nice jack and coke on the evening flight home is great joy.
  2. When I get the free drink, and they actually give me the entire can and entire mini bottle of Jack Daniels.  Yum.
  3. Food I can’t get at home.  Don’t over think it people.  There’s nothing  better than a double double at In-n-Out burger accompanied by a facebook post of the meal.  My friends who love In-n-Out and don’t get to eat it post profanity laced comments while those who can get it any time mention how much they love it.    Chick-Fil-A in the south (although we have them in Chicago now).  Del Taco, well, never.  It’s just not very good.  But you get my point.
  4. Do it yourself waffle irons.  Some of the mid-tier hotel chains entice you to stay with them by offering a free breakfast.  Many are nothing more than a box of cereal, some tasteless cut up pineapple and watermelon and luke warm, bitter coffee.  The good places have a waffle iron.  You fill a tiny cup with batter, pour it onto the waffle iron and in just one hundred and thirty seconds, a perfectly browned Belgian waffle is yours.  With practice, I’ve been getting better at not overfilling the waffle iron and causing it to spill on the table.
  5. An entire row to myself.  Remember back before 9/11 when planes didn’t seem to care if they sold all the seats on the plane?  There were always empty seats.  Nowadays, airlines are scraping for every penny with bag fees, ten bucks to check in early, headset fees, snack fees, barf bag fees, don’t even think of asking your flight attendant for anything fees.  It seems that every flight is full.  But I keep running into one except.  One place I fly, the flight there is always full, but the flight home usually has empty seats.  It’s nice not to get elbowed by the guy next to me who is asleep, or have the person in front of my jack their seat back the second I open my laptop.  This week I had the entire row to myself.  I stuffed my bag under the seat next to me, stretched out my feet and kept my books and magazines on the seat next to me.  It was awesome.  Now if I just knew why so many people fly to Oakland but so few out.
  6. ESPN’s Sport Center.  I don’t watch Sports Center much anymore.  In college, I watched it religiously.  But in hotels, I start my day with Sports Center, because no matter what time I get up, in exactly one hour, I will have seen everything I need to.  I still want to find the person who thought having news people standing up while on camera was a good idea.  They are always fidgeting and rolling their scripts, and rocking back and forth.  Get back behind the desk.  Make me wonder if you are wearing pants or not. 
  7. Fun rental cars.  This doesn’t happen much.  I usually end up with a Ford Tarus with 30,000 miles, and there was that one time I had a Hyundai Sonata where the power steering didn’t work,  but every once in a while, you get a car that’s fun to drive.  On this last trip, I had a Buick (insert).  Once I got used to starting the car without the key and the terrible blind spot, it was fun to drive.  It had some balls.  It helps that my normal cars are lacking in acceleration and are, well, very practical.
  8. Having extra time to relax.  On a good trip, I get to stop working at a normal time.  Usually the hotel is close to the office, so my normal commute is gone.  I get to work out, then head out for a nice dinner, with no cooking or cleaning involved.  Since I am not at home, there are no after dinner chores to do.  No taking the garbage out, no sifting through piles of junk mail, no cleaning the litter box.    I don’t have to worry about picking clothes for tomorrow because I’ve only got three shirts with me.
  9. Coming home.  This is the best thing.  I know, totally cheesy, but  I’ve never been on a trip that I didn’t want to come home from.  Even better than that is the rare time the flight home lands early and the kids are still awake, not knowing that I’m getting home before they go to bed.  The welcome home hugs and kisses are a lot longer and tighter if I’ve been gone for a few days.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Things that drive me crazy when traveling

Forgive me as I bring out my inner grandpa man for this post.  Here's a list of things that drive me a little crazy while I am traveling.  Most are minor annoyances but still bug.  They seem to bug me more when I am traveling alone.

  1. People who update their facebook status with the arrival city the second they can turn their phones back on. (Full Disclosure: totally guilty, but my phone kept auto-correcting Hotlanta back to Atlanta).
  2. The weird sized pillows hotels give you.  I don’t need five cold-war era surplus Soviet square pillows.  Can I just have two regular-sized adult pillows?  Please?
  3. Regular coat hangers in the closet.  Do people really steal coat hangers from hotels?  And can I have more than three?  Please.   I promise not to stuff them in my suitcase.  (Okay, I once to a hotel room glass when we went to Springfield for our 7th grade trip, but my mom chewed me out when I got home).
  4. The business jerk in boarding group six who stands right in front of the jetway entrance while groups one through five board. 
  5. Hotel Alarm clocks.  I used to get around this with wake up calls but now that wakeup calls are pre-recorded messages, they freak me out.  I set the alarm clock convinced I am setting the alarm for PM or setting the volume too low.  I use the alarm on my phone as the backup but still can’t sleep restfully because I fear oversleeping.  Most mornings I wake up well before the alarm goes off totally not well rested.
  6. Bad restaurant advice from hotel clerks.  While I know Cheesecake Factory is pretty good, there’s got to be somewhere else for me to eat.  (Full Disclosure: I had Chick-Fil-A for dinner)
  7. The same business jerk who won’t end his phone conversation while the flight attendant is asking him to turn off his phone so we can take off.
  8. The same business jerk again who can’t figure out how to turn the speaker phone off as his phone starts reading his emails after we land.  Sadly, there was not a spam message that said, “Have a small penis?  Make it bigger!”
  9. iPads.  Do they do anything but play Angry Birds?  Fine, I’m just jealous because I want one.
  10. That jerk who is sitting next to me in coach trying to read the newspaper who keeps bumping me when flipping pages.  Oh wait, that was me.
  11. The USA Today.  Enough said.

Next post will be the list of things I like about traveling.  Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Doggie Doo and the Ghost of Christmas lists past

This Christmas, my son had a short but consistent wish list from Santa.  He asked for trains, Star Wars and pirates.  He came home from pre-school with a drawing that said “For Christmas, I want trains, Star Wars and pirates.”  One day while eating lunch, he saw a pen on the table and asked if he could write his list for Santa.  He is only four and still learning how to write, so he asked me for help spelling the words.  When we were done, he had written three things: Trains, Star Wars and pirates.

As Christmas approached a new item got added to the list.  Due to his changing tastes in television (Yo Gabba Gabba and Go Diego Go aren’t doing it for him anymore) my son is now watching channels that air commercials.  This makes him say, “Daddy look at that.  We should get that.”  My standard response is, “You should ask Santa.”  Most things he quickly forgets about but there was one commercial that was repeated ad nausea.  The commercial was for Doogie Doo.  I’ll let my son describe it.

“Daddy, we should get Doggie Doo.  He’s a dog and you feed him and he poops.”
This commercial  was on every eight minutes from early November until Christmas.  Every time it came on my son would ask for Doggie Doo.  I told him to ask Santa.  He did.  He wanted it bad.

Now, clearly I don’t understand this thing.  It's game with a dog.  You feed him.  And he poops.  And you have to clean it up.  The winner is the one who cleans up the most poo.

This is fun?  I'm sure there is a place somewhere that needs some real dog poop picking up.  I'm sure you could make a game out of that.

Sadly, Santa didn’t bring a doggy do to our house.  Fortunately, between the rest of his Christmas take, my son didn’t seem too disappointed that he didn’t get a Doggie Doo.  Even now, he still has some toys from Christmas he has yet to play with. 

This got me thinking back to Christmas when I was a kid and a toy that I wanted more than anything.  Every year in late September, the Sears catalog would show up and my mother would pass it around the house, asking us to make a list.  Of course, I turned right to the toys-- what loser kid ever asked for clothes for Christmas.  I would quickly find the G.I Joe toys. Not the twelve inch dolls, er, action figures.  I was a child of the 80s, we grew up with the three inch plastic G.I Joe action figures with movable arms and cool guns, and the Snow Cat, helicopters, and other cool vehicles.  And what I wanted, more than anything, was the Cobra Rattler airplane.  It was the coolest G.I Joe toy, it was blue, had a rack full of missiles and bombs and a swiveling turret gun.  I wrote it, highlighted it, and circled it with starts.  I did everything to hint to my mother (or Santa) that if I only got one present for Christmas, this was the one I wanted.  So on Christmas morning, I was expecting a G.I Joe Cobra Rattler plane with its pilot Wild Weasel.  And I didn’t get it.  After wading through present after present, there was no miracle gift pulled from behind the desk, like in a Christmas Story, the last minute, best gift.  I was bummed.  Really bummed.
And I was even more bummed when two of my friends both got the Rattler and my other friend got the Aircraft Carrier.  The good thing is that I was already a Cubs fan, so I just waited ‘til next year.

Sears Catalog shows up in September.  I highlight the Rattler.  Come Christmas, I don’t get it.  Disappointed, sure, but I'm eternally optimistic. Santa wasn't going to stiff me three years running.

Year three.  Same request.  Same result.

Year four.  One more.  Still no Rattler.

By now, I was getting too old to ask for G.I Joe toys.  In fact, we had one last giant battle at my friend Mitch’s house the summer before high school.  We were going to finish the next day so I left them at his house.  I haven’t seen them since.

But man, it still bugs me that I didn’t get that Cobra Rattler.  I could probably go buy one right now on ebay. But I can't afford it now.  Well, I probably could but I couldn't even imagine spending $700 on a toy.  Plus I don't even want it now. I wanted it then.  

So, if my son is still looking for Doggie Doo next Christmas, I’ll make sure that Santa gets the hint.  Thirty years from now I don’t want him writing some rant on whatever technology replaces the Internet about how he didn’t get a Doggie Doo even though he really wanted one.  Of course, by then we might have a real dog and once you have a real one, who needs a toy dog that poops?
PS- The thing my children played with the most from Christmas?  A cardboard box. 
Thanks for reading.

Monday, January 02, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I've never been a big fan of imposing new rules on myself just because the calendar flips and we add one to the current year to come up with a new year.  But, this being a blog, I need something to write about.  Below are some New Year's Resolutions and my hints at how you can succeed in keeping these resolutions.

1) Spend more time with Family & Friends

 To me this one is surprising, mainly because so many people have been out of work for parts of the last three years.  I took a few days off between Christmas and New Year's and I'll tell you after six straight days with my son and daughter, I was ready to get back to the quiet of my office, even if it was for just a half day.

2) Get fit

This one is pretty easy.  Get your fat ass off the couch, away from the computer and stop eating so many damn potato chips, fatty.

3) Lose Weight

See above.  It's pretty much the same concept, but I'll throw something else in.  Next time you are at McDonald's and you order a double cheeseburger, a large fry, an apple pie and diet Coke, I have a suggestion.  Skip the diet Coke. It's not what is putting you over the edge.  And drop the Apple pie.  Get a small fry instead of a large fry.  Or just don't eat at McDonald's every day.

4) Quit Smoking

Having never smoked, I have no advice for this.  If a winter like we had last year where smokers stood outside in three feet of snow when it was ten degrees out didn't make you quit, its never gonna happen.

5) Save Money/Get out of debt

This one is easy.  Eat out less.  Buy less crap you don't need.  If you don't have money for it, don't buy it.

6) Quit Drinking

Come on, no one likes a quitter.  How about just drinking less to start off?  Pass up the Irish coffee in the morning and say no to that extra beer at happy hour.  Or when you are out at a bar and someone hands you a beer and you don't want, wait a minute, then find another person to hand it to.  It works trust me.  Oh, and if you drink less you will lose weight.

7) Learn Something new

This shouldn't have to be a resolution.  You should be doing this every day.  Today I learned that even though I warned her, my daughter likes the spicy Doritos.  At first.  Then the spice hits and she doesn't like them so much.

8) Finish things that you start.

This is easy.  Just set simple goals like, "I'm going to climb those six stairs."  Then climb them.  Hopefully you have been working on numbers 2 and 3.  That will help, too.

Now, just to get in the spirit of things, I did make a few resolutions.

1) Floss more. Trust me, I don't know if I could floss less.

2) Post more to this blog.  If I break thirty readers, I will totally do this.

That's it for me.  I'm hoping I can keep these modest resolutions.  For those who are losing weight and getting in shape as part of your resolutions, I'll see you in the gym this week.  And that's probably it because you will stop coming next week.

Happy New Year.  Thanks for reading.