Archive for the 'flying' Category

mooks, maoris and .357 magnums

hi kids.

it’s been a tick since i last checked in with you, but i have been up to quite a bit.  i dropped into hong kong for a kip, caught on movies via qantas in demand, went to very many meetings, got a new roommate, took a bus tour up to northland and a boat through a hole in a rock, made friends with a traditional maori dance troupe, accrued 30K frequent flyer miles and shot some guns.

since so much has happned, i guess it’s best to sum up the highlights and key takeaways:

  1. qantas has better business class than cathay pacific,
  2. spiderman 3 was the biggest let down in my movie going career since, well, ever, i guess,
  3. australia and new zealand may only be separated by the tasman sea, but they are worlds apart,
  4. kiwis say “awesome” more than americans,
  5. the all blacks might be the coolest rugby team on the planet.  but i’m such a poser, i’m basing that statement on the trivia from my bus tour driver and the cute jacket that i bought at the auckland airport,
  6. i didn’t go to the “lord of the rings part” of new zealand (of which there are several), but i did go the house where the treaty between nz and england was signed, as well as the world’s biggest war canoe,
  7. i am now, officially, a tree hugger.  there’s a kauri tree, somewhat like the american redwood, in new zealand that the maoris believe bring you good energy if you hug it, so i complied,
  8. got some good business done,
  9. signed on some new agents,
  10. took on even more duties since my domestic counterpart is leaving the company, but will get to have some fun with it,
  11. nz also has law and order a lot, though i was often too jetlagged to make the 8:30 showtime,
  12. yes, flight of the conchords is  popular there,
  13. there is a store in australia called mooks.  seriously.  it’s very trendy.  can’t figure out why it hasn’t made it to the us, though…
  14. LA still sucks, but having a gps in your car makes it almost bearable,
  15. LA kind of rules for having a gun club downtown that you can go to, rent any kind of non-automatic and shoot.  i tried a glock 9 mm (what the coppers in nyc use- thought it might be prudent to give it a test drive in case i go that way).  also tried a .357 magnum revolver with .38 caliber bullets.  MUCH better for target practice,
  16. next time i want to try rifles and shotguns,
  17. i’ll probably never make it as a sharpshooter,
  18. hailed the return of russel crowe during 3:10 to yuma, which needed a better director to handle that star power,
  19. ate like crap,
  20. watched t.o. devour the giants on sunday night football, which is the only way i could ever tolerate a dallas-led giants loss,
  21. saw bubba on letterman whilst in oz.  still love and worship him and need his new book,
  22. decided elvis should rise from the dead to take out all those responsible for the “viva viagra” campaign- pfizer, the ad agency and the people in his estate that OKed that deal,
  23. was amired by a hot (female) bartender for my choice of drink (whiskey on the rocks) and my job,
  24. got worked on by an aussie physiotherapist and was massively impressed.  he thinks i should be much more healed and is going to hunt for someone in new york to help me,
  25. i love bubba.  i know it’s a repeat, but i like round numbers.  and i really love him.

oh, and the catalan has been IMing; he can’t wait for me to visit.  i gotta try and swing that.

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turns out the world isn’t watching

abughraib.jpg

i got through security at laguardia pretty quickly this morning and headed to gate 4 for my 9:48 flight to the cleve for another day of marathon meetings.  i grabbed a couple of bananas and water at au bon pain and settled into my seat at the gate.i looked around and noticed that it wasn’t overly crowded, which isn’t exceptional, but i did see a rather large family traveling together- about 8 to 10 people in all, clearly muslim and clearly traditional.  now, i know what you might be thinking, but that isn’t where this going. 

also at the gate?  a soccer mom-esque forty-something with her yappy, yippy lap dog.  she laid a diaper and a toy or two on the floor, put her doggy down and held the leash down with her foot to keep the dog nearby. 

now, gate 4 in the continental terminal is not that big, not that that fact should have given license to soccermom to be so oblivious.  her dog was roaming about as dogs do- exploring, sniffing, nipping.  now, i don’t like lapdogs much, but this is nothing you can fault the dog for; it’s what they do. 

what can be faulted here is that this was making the family very, very uncomfortable.  a couple of the younger women quickly got up and moved as far away as possible within the confines of the gate, while the father sat quietly, if warily, across from me.  seeing that soccermom (let’s just shorten that to “sm.”) was not taking note of the fact that her dog was causing several people genuine distress, i clicked my tongue and snapped my fingers and called the dog over to me before she could reach dad.

i leaned over and got sm’s attention, hoping she’d raise her head and take some heed of her charge, and asked the puppy’s name.  “aria” she replied.  “very cute” i said and petted her white, nappy head.

now, i love dogs, but not yippy little poodles, and certainly not before i’ve had a cup of coffee.  but i was uncomfortable and facing a ridiculous dilemma.  does sm not know that letting aria roam about is inappropriate regardless of the deep religious objection of several of her fellow passengers?  do i stay out of it as it’s none of my business?  is it really not a big deal and i’m being overly culturally sensitive? 

not wanting to be a condescending jerk and assume that sm is ignorant and needs to have the situation explained to her and convinced that the family was sincerely uncomfortable, i encouraged aria to keep chewing on my laptop.  after a couple of minutes more, i leaned over to sm and said “excuse me.  i’m not sure if you know this, but dogs make muslims uncomfortable and there are several people in this gate that would probably appreciate it greatly if you kept aria a little closer to you.” 

she said “whaaaat?”  i replied “yes, in islam dogs are considered very unclean, somewhat like pigs in judiasm and your dog is making some people very uncomfortable.  i’m not sure where you’re sitting or if it matters, but it might be a good idea to rein in the leash a bit out of courtesy.” 

sm “oh, yes.  i had no idea.  thank you.”

a beat.

she puts her head back down, goes back to the paper and does nothing about anything.  i saw aria approaching the man across from me yet again, so i hooked her collar and pulled her over to me.  the man said to me “i’m sorry, but in my religion….”  i said “i know, i’m sorry.”  he said ” i saw you trying to have a conversation.” i said “yes, i understand how you feel and i tried to explain.  i’m sorry.  i’ll do what i can to keep her over here.”  he nodded and said “thank you,” both of us completely uncomfortable and neither of us sure why we felt weird for a situation that was neither of our doing.

finally, boarding was called and “mommy” gathered her baby up to board.

i’m no cultural guru and i’ve never read the koran.  but i know that dogs are anathema to islam.  i grew up with several muslims, but didn’t know this until the disgrace that was abu ghraib.  wasn’t everyone, regardless of their hawk-like outward disposition, at least fleetingly, momentarily, humanely and humanly embarassed by the events and photos that came of that iraqi prison?  even for a second?  did that not command attention, even away from britney (sp??) and k-fed’s divorce, or whatever other sensational nonsense was absorbing the lion’s share of the nation’s consciousness at the time? 

i hate being embarassed by my nationality.  liberal guilt is patronizing and ignorant.  but this hit something home: a lot of people are ignorant, selfish assholes. 

i like to think that’s a universal trait, rather than an arena in which america corners the market.  and deep down i know that to be so.  but some days it’s hard. really, really hard to believe. 

truth in advertising: when reality meets the tsa

so, on one of my many early morning jaunts to the cleve of late, i was standing in a very long security line at about, oh, five thirty in the morning.  nervous travelers abounded, anxious to catch their flights, but the line was not moving.  this gave me several long minutes to really take in the ambience of the continental terminal at lovely LaGuardia airport.

i look to my left and there’s a life size poster for the TSA or the Port Authority of NY/ NJ and their amazing dedication to customer service.  It read something like this: “We’re dedicated to your comfort and satisfaction as much as we are your safety” with a nice smiling lady assisting a customer.  Next to this was an actual, though decidedly less smiley, airport employee.

cue the really late and extremely nervous woman who runs up to said employee and asks if she (the employee) can help as she (the flyer) is definitely going to miss her flight because the line has not moved.  to which she (the employee), clearly inspired by her calling and mission responds:

“lady, that’s too bad.  ALL these people (sweeping hand gesture) gonna miss their flights.  now get back at the end of the line.  next time you might wanna get here early.”

and, scene.

fleeing (to) the cleve

so, all of you 30 Rock fans out there- which should be all of you- must have loved the season finale, “Cleveland.”  it was typically hilarious and ridiculous and, as usual, has creepy parallels to rather specific things in my life.

like liz’s cell phone ring is wagner.  the cell goes off.  the english avian bone chick says “oh, you like vagner?”  and liz says “no, i like elmer fudd.”  and so, dawn turns to me and says “damn.  she is you.”  which i like, because I like to pretend i’m as successful, smart or funny as tina fey or liz lemon.  we do have a lot in common, though I do have the better name and am not pretending to vote for Barack Obama.

so then, the episode goes on to be all about cleveland and the excellence of ‘the cleve’ in relation to nyc.  and where would i be traveling to eight (EIGHT!) times in the next three weeks?  you get the gold star, kids!  the cleve. 

several of these fantastic trips filled with cash and prizes (read: marathon meetings and getting lost at HQ) involve the 6:30 am flight out of laguardia and coming back later that night.  next week, i’m actually coming home for 20 or so hours on wednesday, just to remind myself what my bed is like, and get my body a little un-twisted at the doc’s. 

yesterday’s first taste bodes well for the merry, merry month of may, as i sat on the runway at cleveland hopkins airport for hours because of thunderstorms.  not the ones that were actually happening in cleveland (as we were getting on the plane, i was watching lightning hit the runways), but the ones that might be happening in new york later.  might. be. happening.

the upside is that i do get to see a game at the jake (weather permitting), but as yet see no lunch with little richard at the r&r hall of fame on my itinerary.

also, there’s no alec baldwin involved.  i know, i know.  but he makes me laugh and has the best voice on the planet.  and trust me, my dad’s said way worse.  so get off my back.

I have good news and irrelevant news OR Even in Australia, Law & Order is always on

First, the good news:

Flying to Australia is not too traumatic.  Granted, I was in business class on both legs- New York to LA and LA to Sydney, but that’s not really the key factor.  The essential thing is two-fold: a) break it up.  Fly to LA, hang out with Howard (or whomever your local LA yokel is) and take the second leg on a different day.  Second: take drugs.  Ambien or Xanax or Valium, or whatever your doc will supply.  It helps fend off boredom for 14 hours, aids you in not noticing that you’ve been in the same position for almost two work days, and it will also help in alleviating jet lag. 

I had delays on all four ends of my trip, so got to Sydney (hold on, gotta do some serious math) about 24 hours after I left JFK, went to the hotel, peeled off my clothes and then went to see what absolutely, positively “had to be seen” if one had one day in Sydney, which, incidentally is what I had thanks to the “St. Paddy’s Day storm of 2007.” 

I walked all along the harbour, saw the Opera House (amazing) and Harbour Bridge, took a ferry from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour (if it weren’t so beautiful and laid-back, the precious names would make you vomit), grabbed some food, walked around, went to a zoo and aquarium and hobbled back to my hotel for food and rest.  I probably passed out around 7 pm, about three minutes after Law & Order came on.  It was like a baby blanket, or a warm bath; it put me right at home and out I went.

Now, I never sleep well the first night I’m away in a fancy hotel, so I woke up several times during the night.  And everytime I did, L&O* was there, on the screen, waiting to lull me back to sleep.  It seriously happened four or five times.  And every time I was only awake long enough to recognize the episode, recall the ending, put my head back down and shut my wee peepers.

I flew to Melbourne this morning (LA to Sydney’s NY), had meetings all day, ate dinner and settled in to check email.  Pop on the telly and, well, you’llneverguesswhat: Law & Order. Hopefully I’ll stay awake long enough to finish typing this out.

So, to sum up:

a) 14 hours from LA to Sydney, or only a couple more hours than to Athens.  Worth every minute to arrive in this beautiful, friendly country. 

2) It’s hot here, even in “autumn.”  Tomorrow it will be 33 degrees.  The mere mention of it melted my brain so fast that it took even longer than usual to do the conversion to Faranheit. 

Third) Law & Order is the tie that binds, even on the other end of the planet.

IV)  Traveling to a place for business may be great as far as the ride is concerned, but you don’t really see the place.  I have NO idea what things cost in Australia because all I do is go to meetings and pay hotel prices, which are thoroughly outrageous.

and, finally:

The US Dollar sucks.  Seriously.

* The irrelevant news, in case you were wondering, or paying attention at the beginning.


truth

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

truth

Upon common theatres, indeed, the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value - john adams
November 2017
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from the man who taught me everything:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

bygones