Thursday, December 29, 2005

Get Me Off This Plane

Once again I traveled for the Christmas holiday. It was an early flight and again slightly unpleasant.

I was fortunate enough to share the departure with a good friend (Her story is equally entertaining) and we had quite a time getting a taxi to actually take us to airport. We ended up getting there in enough time and Yellow Cab came through for us. Redeeming the sins of George from my last Yellow Cab experience. In fact the lovely gentleman who drove us to the airport gave us many words of wisdom, my favorite being the following:

"A man who never took a chance never had a chance."

I love that and it's so true.

From there it was mostly uneventful, save the following tidbits.

Why, oh why, have the airlines decided it is a good idea to haphazardly board the aircraft? If I am sitting in the back of the bus then I should get on first, no? Logic is defied by letting those in 16A get on before 29C. It would make everyone happier and less likely to hate the whole experience. But no, let's not make a decision in favor of good customer service. Just because I sit in coach, doesn't mean I didn't pay a small fortune for this ticket. And furthermore, letting me on the plane first isn't going to make me feel high and mighty, it's just going to make the waiting and suffering just a little bit less.
I plan on writing letters from here on out to forcefully suggest that the boarding of aircraft be from back to front.

I had an aisle seat, thankfully, but it really didn't matter. The standby passenger who sat in front of me on this full plane decided that it was a good idea to lean his seat back before we took off. This is also one of the most irritating things on airplanes; the leaning back of the seat. This selfish act removes all leg space from the person behind you and this man's seat was showing its wear because it reclined more than normal. I tapped him on the shoulder and told him that his seat needed to be upright for takeoff and when he didn't comply, I told him that I would call the flight attendant if I had to. We had this battle for the first 20 minutes of the flight. When I finally gave in and stopped kneeing the seat he continued to fidget and bounce back and forth. I decided to "go zen" and just go back to sleep with the perceived knowledge that his life must really be horrible and he is a sad, sad man to be such a jerk. It only helped a little. I still wanted to strangle him. I also thought of how I could possibly sue him for some sort of harm caused to me by occupying all of my leg room. I couldn't even put my tray table down for the beverage service.

Traveling is a pain. Packing and repacking and hauling and organizing. It takes so much time and effort.
I used to like air travel, I really did. Something about being in an airport, jetting off to somewhere for a new experience or to see family or friends. All very exciting and fun.

The airlines and the government have sucked all the fun out of it. Now, I'm going not discount what happened on September 11th. It changed our lives forever, but it can't really be blamed for the continuous downward spiral of quality customer service and transportation safety.

It's the simple things like boarding a plane in a logical way, all the way to allowing scissors back on planes.

Is that really a good idea? Should that announcement be made to the general public? No one thinks that this is a sound, well thought out plan. For crying out loud they banned tweezers and nail clippers at first. That was ridiculous, but this is truly without merit.

Please read the series by columnist Annie Jacobsen about airline safety and you will see that we should be concerned about this.

I digress to the serious side again....

The return trip was even more eventful. The outbound flight was delayed due to "Aircraft Availability". This never bodes well. I had a connection that I was now sure to miss.

I made my way to United customer service to explore my options. It went a little something like this...

"My plane is going to be delayed and I have a connection and I don't think I'll make it now."

"Hmmm...Let's know we have direct flight to Los Angeles? Oh, but today they're all sold out, so, I can't put you on one of those...."

"Yeah, I'm aware of that."

"Well, it looks like you'll have about 30 minutes, you should be just fine to make that connection. And if not there's another flight at noon."

"Okay, if you're sure?"

"Yeah, no problem."

I walk back to the gate and wait. The plane continues to be delayed and I return to the gate agent this time and have an identical conversation. Referring again to the phrase "you should have about 30 minutes."

Apparently this is a magical 30 minutes for this flight, because never in my life of air travel has an aircraft de-planed in 30 minutes or less!

Naturally, I did not make that connection. It wouldn't have been possible even if the gate I needed was in the SAME TERMINAL. That's right, I had to get on a bus and go to what they lovingly refer to as "The Commuter Terminal." No chance of making that little puddle jumper at 11:30. No chance.

At the commuter terminal I nonchalantly asked about my checked baggage. Knowing full well that I would be lied to about the destiny of those bags. I was told, (because of the magical 30 minutes, I'm sure) the bags MADE IT ON the flight at 11:30 and would be there when I arrived. I nodded and proceeded to yet another security line, the gate and finally the tiny little plane.

My bags were NOT waiting for me patiently. I proceeded to baggage assistance, where I was told another little story. The bags were on the flight I arrived on and had not been unloaded yet. I waited an extra 45 minutes. No bags. NO BAGS. I filed my claim and started down the road of acceptance that I would never see my luggage again.

Thankfully, United Baggage Service came through and delivered my bag to me the following day.

That's the end of the story folks. Air travel always comes through with a good story. Remember that when you head to the airport.

Stay tuned for the next one! Peace Out.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

A Very Special Xmas - Holiday Rants

As we embark upon another holiday season, people bustle about to and fro and leave their brains at home the minute they step outside. Here are some rants. Enjoy.

1. People can't drive.

Stop talking on your cell phone. Please! Your brain can't do two things at once. Driving is a huge task. Think about it. You are wielding a two-ton piece of machinery around with your tiny little arms and legs. Stop over-taxing your brain with conversations that mean nothing and just drive!

2. People are not ready at the checkout

If you stand in the express line, do not write a check! For goodness sakes, you've pared it down to the ten items or less requirement and are obviously in need of the EXPRESS nature of the line's designation. So, don't you think you should be prepared with your form of payment? Like while the clerk is scanning your items, you should be writing out everything except for the amount. Is that so hard? Oh! I forgot...YOU are the ONLY person on the planet!

3. People should not put wreaths on their cars

Is this really necessary? Must we decorate EVERY single surface available to us? What's the Hanukkah and the Kwanza equivalent? Where is the menorah on the grill of that Ford F150? I have nothing more to add than that.

4. Bah-humbug is a valid feeling

What is with so much pressure to be in the holiday spirit anyway? Although, it's always lovely to be with your family and not have to go to work for a few days do we need to be constantly hassled about being in the spirit? If I don't want to listen to Jingle Bells seven-thousand times is that a crime? Now, I did put up my little tree and a whatnot, but until I have kids and can see them excited about this magical holiday, I'm not going to give into peer pressure that I should be happy that it's Christmas. So, spare me the look.

5. People should not go out in public

If you reach the top of an escalator and are unable to continue moving because you don't know which way to go next, you should not go out in public. EVER. To have this level of disregard for the safety of those behind you and your own person,
(because I assure you that if I am behind you, you will be mowed down. You'll be given a loud verbal warning, but I'll still come at you.) you really ought to rethink the whole thing. I can not tell you how many times I've seen this happen. In fact I believe that escalator accidents are not the shoelace caught in the teeth of the monster moving stairway, I think people are stopping at the top, gawking at the ceiling and getting plowed down by everyone behind them. It's far more dangerous than that stray shoelace I assure you.

Happy Holidays!

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

City Toilet

As promised a story or two about Turkey Day and my travels.

There really aren't any traveling woes to report, minus the full plane on the way there, where I sat in the window seat at six in the morning with all of my carry on luggage piled on top of me. That was the BEST four hours of my life.

It was a great trip and fun was had by all.

I believe that the funniest thing that happened was the City toilet incident in Boston.

My companions and I traversed this fine city by foot that day and it was quite nice. Then we reached a crossroads when one member of the group needed a restroom break. We found the latest technology...The automatic cleaning city toilet. Well, there was a mishap and well let's just say that the doors opened when they shouldn't have and too many things were exposed to the city. Luckily, there weren't too many people around. And probably the most comical part of the ordeal was the man selling boat tours of the city just kept on yelling his pitch and offered no assistance whatsoever, like it was an every day occurrence.

We immediately found ourselves a libation and nursed the injured party's wounded pride.

That's all I have today. I'm still trying to recover the funny from the depths, please be patient. I hope you found some in today's post.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Coming Attractions

I've been blogging about some deep stuff lately and I assure you that it is not without it's merit, but let's get back the funny shall we?

This week promises more tales of the weary traveler as I embark on Thanksgiving travel. So stay tuned for how that turns out. I'm headed to the east coast and they were warning of storms.

Are you checking out my album recommendations? Here are a couple more....

Lewis Taylor & Zero 7
And this is an old one, but if you haven't checked out Maroon 5, well, what are you waiting for?

I recommend the following service from Real Player...Rhapsody. Do it and do it now, especially if you are not already a member of the iPod cult. There are alternatives people.

As you were....Watch the parade and Gobble! Gobble! (in other words... Happy Thanksgiving)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Analysis of Leaving

I've heard good-bye a lot in my life. And as a result shed rivers of tears.

When I was young I cried when my brothers and sisters would go back to college after a weekend visit. I carried that on through high school, without fail at each departure.

I cried when important people like my beloved high school music teacher resigned and moved away. She was a mentor and a friend and I didn't like her replacement. I couldn't fathom her leaving.

I always cry at the airport. I'm a crier. What can I say? In fact, so much so that it has become somewhat of a family joke and trait that identifies me.

What triggers this flow of emotions in people; in me? I know there were times that I thought that I'd never see the person I loved again. I'd run a lot of scenarios in my head. Car accidents or plane crashes mostly. Which is completely macabre but that's the conclusion I would jump to.
When the leaving was more like my music teacher I think it was because I was going to miss some of the special treatment I'd received for being a favorite and the mentoring I'd received as a result.

When friends would leave, say at the airport, I would attribute it to missing the special connection one has with friends and how nice it is to joke around and have fun with someone who you like and who likes you. Which although it may not warrant a bucket of tears, it's legitimate.

I think the prevalent thing that we think of when someone leaves us is "What am I going to do without this person" regardless of the reason for the going.
It comes from fear of being alone, of no else understanding us as much as that person does/did, of losing the love and comfort that the leaver provides,even more simplisticly, being forgotten. And no one wants that.

As I've grown up more I've learned to not cry so much about leaving, mine or others. In fact, I've fought tears many many times in airports, at work, in the car on the way home. It's been a good thing. It's taught me that leaving can be positive in some way; that it doesn't always have to be negative and sad. (I could spin out all the reasons why it's okay, but I won't.) Bottom line is it's made me stronger because I know that even if the worst happens that person has loved me and I them and has left an indelible impression on my heart and soul forever.
And experiencing that in this life can never be forgotten or replaced. Which is my version of the following favorite quote....
"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Burning Down the House

I've been burning a lot of the food I've been cooking lately. I'm normally a good cook so this is a trend I'm noticing and frankly it's a bit disturbing.

First, it was bacon. Which can be tricky anyway. I had to throw that out. None of it was salvageable. So, I tried again and watched it more closely or so I thought. There were still burned bits but I ate it anyway. It had a maple brown sugar flavor added so it wasn't too bad.

Next came the grilled cheese and ham. None of those came out golden. I ate those too.

So, I tried something new and put a lid on the pan. Because what often happens with grilled sandwiches in the frying pan is that the bread burns but the cheese doesn't melt and then, well, what's the point? You're making it this way because you want cheese melted on bread and you want it fast!

The lid gave me a false sense of security. Meaning, that I could leave the room altogether and expect perfection once I returned. It was a disaster. But it was the last of the bread and so I ate it anyway.

Then yesterday plain grilled cheese. I used the lid again, which really does work well for trapping heat in order to melt the cheese. I obviously did not learn a blessed thing from the first lid experience because as you can expect that one had one black side and one nice golden side.

And finally, today, in fact the thing that made me notice this charcoal food trend, a simple BBQ beef Hot Pocket. They aren't kidding when they say microwave cooking times may vary. We have two micros in our kitchen at work and one, the one on the top, always turns out a Hot Pocket that is moist and delicious. The other one on the other hand doesn't work that way ever. And I'm sure you'll say, well, use the top one and you'd be right. But you have to use the one that's available when people are waiting to use them and a line has formed.

Anyway, I think I'm distracted and that's why I'm burning and eating sub-standard food. Which I've concluded is HEAVY distraction mind you. Especially when you can't pay attention to the smoking frying pan stinking up your kitchen.
My mind is apparently full of more things than you can shake a stick at and can't be bothered with the nuances of cooking a grilled cheese properly.

You're probably asking yourself why did I just read this whole thing about burned food? Well, I don't know, why did you? Were you hoping for a better explanation for the distraction? I can indeed give you one, but the basic underlying theme is a distracted cluttered mind full of decision-making and juggling and avoidance and sadness and dare I say it melancholy.
But let's leave it at that because I think the funny will die if we don't.

So just remember that if you are burning your food a lot in one week then you should check your mind and de-clutter it because charcoal is bad for you.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Living in Southern California one doesn't really witness the change of seasons as much as, say in Maine. But make no mistake the trees still change color here and the weather does get colder.

A lot of people like autumn. I can get behind that. It's pretty and it makes you feel like wearing a sweater and drinking hot cocoa or tea and enjoying the misty grey color of the sky in the afternoons.
It's apple pie and pumpkins and Halloween and Robert Frost poems.

Which is nice.

Today's blog comes with two album recommendations. Sheryl Crow's Wildflower and Aqualung's Strange & Beautiful.

Sheryl goes back to the old days and actually writes some songs we want to listen to. And the Aqualung, well the Brits have brought us another group to enjoy. And though I don't know much about them as yet, I'm grooving to their tunes.

Happy Autumn Chipmunks!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rain in SoCal

I feel the need to blog but have no subject matter.

It's raining here and at times it's looked like snow and sleet. Which frankly, would be kind of fun to have happen here. But then again, despite the fact that most of the people who live here are transplants from cold weather states, they become complete idiots in their cars in the rain.

Traffic here defies logic. It really does. You will drive yourself mad if you try to reason it out. I blame cell phones.

Many of you are waiting for part two to the United Airplane story, but if you look closely you will see that it is a self contained two-parter already. Part one was the story of the taxi ride and part two was the flight itself. I know it was deceiving in a way to label it two parts. I blame the "To Be Continued..." used on many TV shows from the 80's.

Did you celebrate Boss's Day? We did! I made a little b-fast and brought it in. We love our boss. He's the tops.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Work Ethic

First; the new Dishwalla and Switchfoot Albums are totally worth lending your ear to. So check them out.

I come here today to write about fostering a work ethic. It seems rare these days that people actually come to work and try to do their best.

I remember the early days of my advertising agency career and how many times I was raked over the coals for small human mistakes. Like small spelling errors (spelling always counts!) or even the ridiculous 'your facial expressions don't work for us'. I really laughed that day.
Every job since has been this way it seems. Always striving to meet and exceed expectations, always under pressure to do the best possible work and 'live up to my potential'.

I've always had an unparalleled work ethic. My parents instilled this in me from the beginning. It is something I am proud of and something that I strive to maintain everyday. And there were certain managers and executives that appreciated it and rewarded me for it. But for everyone of those (who I can count on one hand) there were ten who didn't really appreciate it and took advantage of it.

That is what I resent at this very moment while I am still sitting here at work at 8PM. Things are in a bit of an upheaval in one of the departments that directly affects mine, since a key person left about a month ago. The replacement is not up to the task, to say the least, and why the manager isn't pressing for this person to step it up is beyond my comprehension. (or providing the proper training)

It infuriates me in fact. Those of us who get the job done, and go above and beyond expectations on a daily basis continually get shafted while those who lazily drift through the day are continually afforded the bottleneck they create. (think Stapleton airport before they built DIA - It was the worst airport in the country and caused the most delays)

It's everything that's wrong with the world.

There is no solution. You can only hope that someone will eventually see through the smoke screen and put these people out to pasture or hold their nose to the grindstone. And those of us doing the work still persevere because we have integrity and the ever more elusive and highly valued work ethic.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I Came Here to Say....

...Absolutely nothing. I have no profound thoughts or words of wisdom today. Even the quote of the day is boring.

I'm a little disappointed in the Word of the Day from Today's word was palpable. Seriously. Come up with something I don't already know. If I am subscribing to the word of the day I'm obviously literate and have used palpable in a sentence before.

And the bright spot.... A little one's first urban pumpkin patch.

Next time... A Halloween Commentary

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Redemption Comes

This is a two part story of a traveler.

We begin with Part One - The Taxi Ride to the airport last Thursday.
I've been using Yellow Cab exclusively for my airport transportation. And I have to say this last trip was a chink in their chain.
Upon being picked up I was insulted immediately by this driver, we'll call George. He thought my suitcase was too heavy. Now, it was about 20 pounds, which isn't that bad. I let George's comment slid off my back categorizing it as 'small talk'. Fine, no biggy.
George then asked me what the best way to get to the airport would be from where we were and I proceeded to tell him. Having taken a taxi from this location several times before, I have the secret taxi route memorized. George had trouble with my directions and seemed confused. Not really knowing George, I did my best to give him directions in an upbeat manner. George snapped, saying "It's not like I don't know the area dear." Then he blabbed something about how La Tijera to Sepuleveda would be shorter if not about the same distance and fare. It's not. It's farther and that means more fare. Then he went on to say something about how I objected to his route. To which I said nothing. George had clearly passed right by his utterance of - "What's the best way from here?" I ignored George the rest of the trip which took longer than any taxi ride of my life. George solved a Rubix Cube at every long light and proudly displayed the successfully completed cube upon our arrival at the United Terminal. I'm not sure I'll use Yellow Cab again. Even though George was early, he was scary and totally rude.

Next came the kiosk check-in. I am totally a supporter of this technology, but people can't seem to grasp it at all. So many kiosks and people just stand there like they have no idea what to do. There were three kiosks open and I politely urged the ceiling lookers in front of me to step up. They had no clue. SO then three people behind me cut in line and checked in. It was totally rude, but justified. I wish I'd have been faster.
When it was finally my turn a woman accosted me with her ticket because it didn't show a seat assignment. She wanted me to help her. I said, "I don't know. You'll have to ask a ticket agent"
Now, why in the world would I know about her seat assignment? Am I wearing a United Badge? No.
If you are going to go out in public and get on an airplane then you need to be brave enough to ask the people who are there to help you. Otherwise you A.) Deserve to miss your plane and 2.) should really stay home.

I've been calling United, "untied" for years. They have done little to lose that title in the years I've been flying their friendly skies. But here is where that all changes.
I refer you to the post about Sun Country airlines. (Please refresh your memory now, otherwise the rest of this will not makes sense.)
United can accomplish their beverage service with minimal lighting and efficiency to boot. (Not as true on this morning's return flight- but I won't hold it against them, just this once though.) They seem to understand that pouring coca-cola into a plastic cup doesn't take the glaring pink wattage of overhead fluorescents.
This one single simple detail has redeemed the entire airline and absolved them from past sins. A job well done! Untied no more!

I'd also like to give a shout out to the neck pillow. This small, yet pliable pillow is a must on any airplane trip. it certainly helped this non-sleeper, sleep. Hooray!

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hump Day at the Hump

I love sushi but don't partake very often even though I live near the ocean and in this city it's abundant. Fresh seafood that is.

But last night I found a special spot in Santa Monica that was four stars in atmopshere, entertainment value, and outstanding sushi.

The Hump at the Santa Monica airport is a gem. The best part other than the Spanish Mackerel sashimi is sitting at the bar and watching them prepare each dish.

All I'm going to say is squirming shrimp heads and I think you can understand how much fun we had there.

It also a total A-list kind of scene. I can't tell you who we encountered because it's impolite; like pointing. But should you venture out this way you won't be disappointed on any front.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

It Makes Clowns Cry

Put your own thoughts into this picture and headline today.

My list is way too long on what makes clowns cry.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Do the Right Thing & Sun Country is not in Minnesota

You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings. - Pearl S. Buck

That is how I'd started this entry but I have two other things I'd like to discuss.

First, let's get the WORST airplane ride of my life out of the way. I went to Minneapolis this weekend to see my good friends who are expecting their first baby in the fall. The visit was great, the transportation to get there was not.

Sun Country airlines needs to make some adjustments to it's flight schedule and in-air service priorities. If you are going to offer cheap red-eye flights from the west coast to the Midwest then you need to make sure you're little sky wait staff understand that passengers DO NOT need a soda at 2AM! We want to sleep. We need pillows and blankets, not sodas or coffee or any little crapcakes. Seriously.

For your reference, this 737 did not leave until 1:45AM PDT.
I do not have the ability to sleep on an aircraft unless I'm about to fall over from exhaustion. This was one of those times and as I struggled for sleep in the early stages and was just about to drift off, these wizards of airline service flipped the light switch and rolled that damn cart down the aisle (very boldly I might add) and let me just tell you it was like a five minute beverage service. Why? Because EVERYONE WAS SLEEPING!!!!!!!
Need I say more? Didn't think so.

P.S. On the way back they gave us a courtesy 'snack' which they called a 'cheeseburger'. Now I'm not really sure if it was meat or cheese, but I ate it. Why? Dear Lord, why?

Secondly, I no longer want to include my ruminations on this other topic I was going to include in this blog and will save it for another time.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bad Gyms Abound

I hate LA Fitness. They have the most inconvenient locations in the most asinine places and nothing about the staff or the gym is worth the money.
There are never enough machines and the 20 minute time limit makes it a worthless trip to the gym. But it's better than nothing, I suppose.

Why do affordable health clubs have to suck? Why can't they have nice locker rooms and decent equipment and good locations and parking?

I can answer that with one word: Money.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Fully Occupied

I'd like to share this simple yet profound quote with you today.

If my hands are fully occupied in holding on to something I can neither give nor receive. --Dorthee Solle

Now, I don't know who Dorethee is, but she sure is right. How many times do we hold on to things that don't matter and feel stuck by the sheer inertia of it?

I feel surrounded by those who are holding on to 'things' and are miserable every day because they choose to keep this baggage in their heart. What can you say to them? Nothing really. Maybe forward them this quote.

As you were.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

A Dog by Any Other Name

July is National Hot Dog Month and there is no better way to celebrate than at Pink's in Los Angeles.

You can't go wrong with the famous chili dog or the Martha Stewart.

Or you can just grill 'em in your own backyard. Because that's what summer is all about. But celebrate you must, because unlike cow appreciation day, this is an easier one to make happen. Take the kids to the ball game and have a dog and you've paid tribute to an american tradition!

All Hail the Oscar Mayer, Hebrew National and Ballpark!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Cows Are People Too!

The greatest holiday is upon us! What, you don't know that tomorrow is Cow Appreciation Day???!!
Well, suit up and moo all day long if you dare. I know I will.

If you are in the neighborhood, the Mecca of cow appreciation has to be New Salem, North Dakota, home of the world's largest Holstein cow, affectionately named, Salem Sue.

I've seen her many times up close and personal and she is a sight to behold. Go here for a virtual tour:

and here for her story:

If you go to North Dakota for no other reason than to see this magnificent concrete monolith then you have spent your time wisely.

I'm still writing my ode to Sue. I hope to have it completed in time for tomorrow's festivities.

Celebrate the Cow!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

My Time in Eden

I had a pleasant evening dining out with a good friend. But it was all shot to hell when I returned home to find that the two front living room windows - ground level - were wide open and had been left this way all day.

I really can't fathom the reasoning behind not being extra careful after your home has been burgled. I really can't. Please, someone explain it to me. Triple checking is always warranted. Because an open window is an invitation to crime! A big embossed piece of parchment saying "Come on in and take all my stuff!!!!!"

Please lock your windows and doors. It's a sad fact of the world we live in but no amount of money can replace the ring my mother gave me.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Cautionary Tale

Where to begin? Well, let's start with the break-in that could have been so easily prevented. Oh yes, that's right dear readers, yours truly was burgled.
Luckily, the only items missing are jewelry, most of which was junk, but some was worth appraisal. Mostly sentiment was lost but friends, that's still too high a price to pay for negligence. Oh no, not on my part. I know better than to leave a window open in a crime ridden Los Angeles neighborhood, but my roommate does not. Needless to say there's something rotten in Denmark.
The bigger issue and hassle has been the upward battle of preventing the wiping of bank accounts, the stealing of cars and the possible theft of identity. We must be vigilant in our efforts to protect our information. A lesson all too often learned the hard way. It doesn't have to be this way. Keep it under lock and key. Check your credit report, watch every transaction you make from eBay to Ofoto and never let anyone coax you out of your SSN unless it's God himself.
And if this doesn't convince you just read Newsweek's latest issue.

And finally, I'd like to let you know the following helpful hints: If you are stung by a bee and not allergic make a paste of baking soda and a little water and apply it to the sting. It takes the pain away and the swelling goes away instantly.
And the best thing ever for a sunburn you didn't intend is plain yogurt applied directly to the area. It's fantastic.

May your week be drama free!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Why are there birds in Home Depot?

I've been to six Home Depots and every one of them had birds flying around inside the building. Can that be good?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

RoadSlave enters the BlogHer contest

While the rules are unclear (tell your story), I'd like my blog to tell my story. I'll provide some narration for my entries:

I began blogging while visiting Alaska. After arriving on a Sunday, the only thing we could find open was a Red Robin in Anchorage. The food wasn't bad, but the waiter was pure entertainment. My first posting Red Robin of our Discontent was born out of encouragement from my family members. "You should blog this."

It was a start. I was skeptical, however, that blogging would lead to the magical connected conversations that were being hyped everywhere I looked. I pondered this while attending my nephew's graduation as my mind wandered frequently during the Chugiak Mustangs Commencement.

How would I build the coveted street cred (credibility)? Doing some searching, I stumbled across Brad Feld's Alaska categories. Perfect. Brad had a lot of readers. Maybe he could spare some for me? Street cred would have to wait, however, as I didn't know any other bloggers who could comment and link to me and create a blog buzz. It didn't matter, I was having a great time in Alaska.

The rented motorhome provided more than its fair share of interesting topics, although I included what I thought was the most important one -- The difference between Grey and Black water !

Sea Kayaking in Whittier was a thrill. I renamed the tour the Kittiwake Bird Drop Special.

My first and only major Alaskan disappointment was eating at the Snow Goose in Anchorage. Only the ice water met my expectations.

Fortunately, finding a Sushi place in Eagle River brought spirits right back.

By now, I was having so much fun in Alaska, but documenting so little of it, that I began to feel
Blogger's Guilt. "No good deed goes unblogged," I thought. Would anyone really care about my Alaskan adventure, or would they rather index, link, and tag each other in shameless self promotion?

I spotted "I like cats too -- Let's exchange recipies" on a local's refrigerator. It stuck with me the whole day. Lacking any clever titles for the Bou Bacon and Polar bear pictures, I figured why not offend someone with a funny title?

Something I'll never forget is the local buzz to find the first evidence of the King Salmon run. As an experiment, I tried to use the technology to give me an edge, but in the end the Blogs failed to deliver the Salmon.

Have you ever cooked bacon and eggs on tinfoil over a smoky Alaskan campfire? The pic still makes my mouth water!

By now, I was quite frustrated with the coefficient of drag of getting my site indexed into Technorati. How was I going to experience the magic connected conversations of the live web if my posts never got indexed?

Imagine my surprise when David Sifry, himself, left a comment explaining the problem. (Brad Feld, where are your comments?) I promptly apologized to David for being a snot. And although my first connected conversation happened asynchronously, it was a conversation nonetheless.

These amazing time lapse pictures of the Alaskan summer solstice pretty much sum up my amazement when David left a SECOND comment in response to my apology.

By now, I had found the majority of VC blogs and was reading to both learn and be entertained. Venture Capitalists as Grizzly Bears left me no choice but to wonder what happens to the salmon when all these Thesis Bears arrive at the river bank.

Especially since I found myself in Alaska, I found the irony that the salmon are eaten before they complete their mission at the hands of the smarter, Thesis bears.

I knew the VC's wouldn't touch the observation is that since it didn't come from another VC, it just wasn't VC-cool. I know they have a sense of humor, as some of the funniest things I've read have come from VC blogs (whether they know it or not.)

In testing the Mark Pincus Observation, I really didn't expect Mark to respond. He didn't. If I win the BlogHer competition, will he be sorry? Probably not.

Keshava Dasarthy did appreciate my link, however.

The Gates of Aniakchak are one of those places I'd like to go someday. No offense, but can I trade the BlogHer prize for the Gates? Probably not.

The running joke in Alaska was that we would find ourselves at a Fred Meyer store two or three times a day. It couldn't be helped. In the off-chance that a VC was dusting off the WebVan plan, I wanted to point out that Fred Meyer delivers to the Alaskan bush.

Why pick me for the BlogHer prize?

Well, I have no good answer except that I remain skeptical of the blogger hype. Perhaps I really NEED to chill with my sisters and let the magic overtake me? I still need to build that street cred, so send me to meet other bloggers and let the magic begin.

Besides, let's not forget that Jane Blog is just as an important marketing force as Joe Blog.

Did I mention I was born in North Dakota? Going to BlogHer would at least allow me to clear up Niall Kennedy's obvious misconceptions about the state face-to-face. And while I do love San Francisco, I don't worship it as a technology mecca. (Niall needs to travel more -- maybe I'll sponsor a contest to send Niall to North Dakota).

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Joe Blog could prove Mike Manuel right

Warning: Mike uses a Long Tail analogy, but if enough Joe Blogs link to Marketers, Get to Know Joe Blog , his point will be made (A blogger with five subscribers can be a marketing force.)

Mike's Media Guerrilla was another of those sites found quite by accident as I'm still learning my way around the blogsphere.

I miss Webvan

Many have stated that Webvan (the defunct online grocer) was simply ahead of its time.

During my stay in Alaska, I noticed that Fred Meyer (a multi-department store) actually gets their products to the Alaskan Bush including ordering via email.

There are quite a number of clever adaptations developed in Alaska to deal with the logistics of weather, infrastructure, and hard-to-reach remote locations.

Would it be possible to re-incarnate Webvan, let me subscribe to my wanted items via RSS, and then have Technorati watch for BBQ deals for the 4th of July picnic?

Which VC has this concept as their Thesis ? It looks like Venture Capital has begun the pendulum swing back to the consumer.

When you dust off the Webvan plan, run on up to Fred Meyer in Alaska and understand why they care about consumers in the Alaskan Bush.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Gates of Aniakchak

I keep learning from the locals about more amazing things to do in Alaska. Sadly, I'm not properly funded to do everything on my wishlist.

River rafting the gates of Aniakchak looks like one of those things I won't get to this trip.

"…it was the abomination of desolation, it was the prelude to hell."

Read where that came from in this Expedition to Alaska.

Also, remember what it's like to read with no ads? See these interesting facts about the Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve .

Friday, June 10, 2005

Testing the Mark Pincus Observation

Mark Pincus's observation (Easiest way to talk to a VC...write about him) extends beyond VCs.

Just be prepared for the coefficient of drag to cause some unintended consequences. David Sifry left me a comment that he just saw my post on his watchlist an hour after I posted it.

So, the unintended consequences for me are:

I didn't expect David to respond and now I feel bad after reading his explanation.

Clearly, I owe David and Technorati an apology for the Google remark. Would it be OK to say I hope Technorati buys Google instead? (Meaning that I hope you are wildly successful.)

I do sincerely apologize.

And while I remain convinced that there is a coefficient of drag, with David's response I can now begin the search to find a blog home with a better reputation.

Keshava Dasarathy gets a link from me because I feel his pain.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Venture Capitalists as Grizzly Bears

I really did read all of Bill Burnham's Beat (Deal Flow is Dead, Long Live Thesis Driven Investing). But what caught my attention was the comparison of VCs to Grizzlies.

In the analogy, the deals are represented by the salmon swimming in abundance by the bears (the VCs).

Now, as most of you know, the salmon swim upstream, spawn, and die. You're already way ahead of me...but let's run this analogy completely up on the beach until the birds pick it clean.

Burnham doesn't specifically say that Thesis Driven Investing VCs are still Grizzlies, but he implies that they are out there "turning over rocks".

I'm thinking out loud...How can smarter Grizzlies be good for the salmon? I see how being a smarter bear is good for the bear, so I certainly want to be a Thesis Grizzlie if I was a bear.

For the salmon, however, it doesn't matter if you're a Thesis or a Deal Flow Grizzlie. You're still eaten.

As Burnham points out, the VC bear population has expanded quite nicely.

Conclusion: This is going to be a bad time to be a salmon until somebody does something about all those bears.


Moose Pass is a peaceful little town. If you have an axe to grind, do it here.

So reads the sign by the waterwheel at Moose Pass, Alaska.

Summer Solstice (you know, the longest day of the year) is indeed quite a thing to celebrate and the folks in Moose Pass have been throwing their celebration for 20 years.

Go North to the Artic Circle and the Sun never dips below the horizon. And if you can't go have a look at these amazing pictures.

Gold Mining

They say you can find gold in Alaska. That's mostly true. The Crow Creek Mine is easy to find and quite accessible. Of course, I didn't find any gold but everyone else did and showed me their flakes in the small glass vials.

Do your homework as there are many, many other places to gold prospect in Alaska. All of them come with great scenery as well.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Coefficient of drag

Technorati's about eight days behind indexing my blog. It grabbed one post. (Yeah, don't bother explaining to me how they use RSS and get updates directly in real time. They're dragging...test your own sites).

The analog for this is coefficient of drag. The more RSS catches on, the slower Technorati becomes and more drag is introduced in the system.

If it takes eight or more days for someone's watch list to trigger, the conversation becomes increasingly irrelevant.

The so-called fluid conversation of the web analog ignores the effect of coefficient of drag.

Maybe Google is working on this problem?

Maybe an opportunistic VC should throw some money at Technorati for a band-aid quick fix and then pitch Google to buy the company.

I'll go ahead and toss in a link to . There's no danger that David Sifry will see his watch list trigger before this post has decayed beyond it's useful conversational lifetime.

I probably should have linked Brad Feld again to build the street cred. Oh well, opportunity wasted.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

It's not IHOP

Can't you just smell the bacon cooking over a smoky Alaskan camp fire?


Monday, June 06, 2005

Street Cred revisited

I still have not gotten a chance to shower my blog with street cred. It's not entirely my fault. Technorati never shows any results for text in my blog posts. I'm uncertain which conclusion I should jump to (given my data point of one):

1. Technorati is hopelessly behind...and the connected web conversations will eventually take place in a galaxy far, far away?

2. Technorati indexes VC blogs that their ideas are elevated in the borg collective?

3. Technorati shuns Google blogs on purpose?

Other data points would, of course, help me with the correct conclusion. Sadly, those data points aren't going to arrive in time since my blog text isn't indexed in Technorati's search results.

Additionally, I'm going to lose interest about the time I press "Publish Post". After all, I'm enjoying Alaska at this moment and I really should leave these matters to the bloggers who already have the street cred.

In the meantime, I vote for #3 .


The law of self interest is rarely broken.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Blogs Fail to Deliver the Salmon

My expectations weren't high to begin with, but I speculated with all this technology that I'd find an RSS feed to tell me where to find the King Salmon running ... updated by the minute. By the time the Alaska fish and game reports the salmon runs, it's old news and the highways are jammed with RVs.

If you're a tourist, you have no chance. The locals, however, have quite a tight network and they share the salmon information amongst themselves the old fashioned way ... by talking to each other.

While I'm waiting for a local to call me back with the Kenai fish data, I figure I'd pass the time blogging about the lack of finding anything.

Of course, if you could show a local how to monetize the sharing of the salmon runs...the RSS feed would be up in light speed time. It's unlikely, however, that those few Google ads could substitute for taking a boatload of tourists on a guided trip.

There's the phone...time to find out the old-fashioned way on where to find those King Salmon.

The Alaska Daily News publishes this fish report which surprisingly has no dates, timestamps or even an archive. I guess they don't bother checking their stats logs to see how popular that page might be with a little effort.

If you'd like to see some really non-useful data, try the Fish Count Data.

I can't boil the ocean trying to solve this problem. There must be some VC's who can fuel a really useful service of realtime salmon runs aggregated with an RSS feed. And although I know they all like their deals on a silver platter, I've got fish to catch.

The business of how they'd actually make any money with this idea must be left to their creative collective. I'm doing my part by starting the web converstation. As soon as Technorati finds this, the rest of the magic will just happen with all that connected conversation magic, right?

Wake me when it's time to sign the term sheet.

I Like Cats Too...Let's Exchange Recipes.

I actually didn't see any cats on this trip, but we did have some good Caribou bacon this morning. Bou Bacon as the locals call it.

Alaska never ceases to amaze me, but I suspect the witness relocation program has been very successful in this area.

I've met quite a number of characters on this trip and I'm certain I've seen them before on America's Most Wanted.

No good deed goes unblogged

Little did I know how true this statement has become. I spent some time reading some blogs and discovered that if there is paint drying somewhere...someone is blogging it.

The blog hype has yet to reach its crescendo. Before it does, I'd like all the readers to know that I did see a number of moose, some sheep, no bears (except the big white one in the Anchorage Airport), and a bald eagle (in Eagle River of all places).

It's too early for the King salmon run in Ship Creek.

I've been too busy taking all of Alaska in to blog about the amazing things I find. That means you'll have to read about paint drying (or large cap deals or shameless self promotion).

As you were,

The Eagle has landed (and brought Sushi)

Shine's Sushi in Eagle River, AK has no web site that I can find. They do have some great sushi and the prices are reasonable. A nice change of pace.

Snow Goose is cooked

The Snow Goose in Anchorage was very dissapointing. My food was cold and just plain bad. The Goose is cooked...drink the beer and eat somewhere else.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Kittiwake (Bird Drop Special)

Don't get me wrong, the sea kayaking was awesome! I just think the Kittiwake tour should be renamed the "Bird Drop Special". The tour was well worth the markings.

Grey Water -- Black Water

Oh yes, there is a difference. Pulling the wrong lever results in the discharge of a foul and messy sludge not deserving of the term "water". Like the dark side, the black water is evil. Stay very far away from the black water.

Fortunately, you don't have to dump the black water unless absolutely necessary...when you rent from the fine folks at Great Alaskan Holidays .

You dump...they pump!

Chugiak - An Epic still Unwritten

A prediction...Like Titanic, Chugiak will one day be a huge commercial success. Today, it remains unwritten and undiscovered. Perhaps in the 2005 graduating class of the Chugiak Mustangs -- some 400 strong today -- lurks one writer with the passion to pen the compelling story set against the Alaska wilderness.

Chugiak, Chugiak, CHUGIAK...

It is with some sense of relief, after reading a number of blogs, that I realize that "content" is really quite a mis-nomer when it comes to blogging. I suppose there may be some jewels, but for the most part bloggers are filling the cyber landfill with their endless prattling and cross-linking.

I've decided to do my fair share and proudly place this entry onto the scrap-heap in cyberspace.

Chu Chu Chugiak.

Next, I feel the need to link to a blog. This normally would help convey some "street cred", although readers will likely see through my intentions. So I picked to keep the topic related to Alaska. Don't go clicking over to Brad Feld and his Feld Thoughts...he has enough readers. I'm just doing it for the street cred, remember?

To aid the search engine indexing, I'll mention venture capital, Homer, MIT, Boulder, and monetize. (I haven't decided yet if I should ad Google's AdSense, but I definitely want to monetize...that sounds profitable and then I can afford to come to Alaska more often.)

Clearly, I do not yet have my swing down as my name-dropping quotient is well below established bloggers. I don't even know any other bloggers who can mention my blog in their blog. Then I can comment on their link and they can re-comment on mine. It probably takes about 5 or 6 co-conspirators to create a blog buzz. I'll work on that.

I say this... Congratulations Graduates of Chugiak High School Class of 2005.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Red Robin of our Discontent

We all spoke of Blogging, in a disrespectful tone with much loathing for the medium. Never, had I imagined that I would blog.

"I blog, therefore I am",

"The road to hell is paved with blogging",

"No good deed goes unblogged",

Searching for a clever title, I found myself recyling old metaphors like dirty socks retrieved from the hamper.

It doesn't matter. The title is but a mere shadow of the pithiness to come. In fact, I'm not even writing the first blog entry, although I know I will fall in love with it once I read it and claim it as my own.

I realized I'm on a grand adventure, finding myself in Alaska. Why not blog the experience? If not now, when?

Who will be the first to blog, I wondered out loud?