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Airport Diaries #3: Rules of Engagement – Part 1


Airplane diariesOk, it is that time again. Time to pack the bags and prepare for another exhilarating journey to an exotic location. Well, in all honesty, it’s another business trip.  So, take the exotic out of the equation. Many flights I take these days do happen to be of an international flavor but mostly they consist of getting on a plane, traveling long hours on said plane, extended times in cramped cars with questionable drivers, and finally rushing to get back on a plane. Between these moments, there are business meetings, smiling, late night dinners, and wishing I was back in the hotel getting a little rest from the jet lag. However, while that may be exotic to some, for me, it is more of a routine of step one, then step two, and so on.

When getting ready to depart on one of these engaging affairs, the best strategy is to scan the crowd of those waiting to board the flight. It is a mental game of who- would- you –wish- gets- the- seat- next- to- you and which ones you hope are furthest from your seat. Will it be the guy with the nervous shakes and cold sweats as if this is his first trip? Maybe it will be the couple whose giggles indicate they will spend at least some portion of the flight striving for their “mile high club” membership. Whoever it is, please please don’t let it be the family of six with the kids running around the seats smacking each other and screeching . Oh, the game of “please don’t be the person next to me,” can be quite amusing, if a little precarious, while waiting for a flight. For that matter, I don’t want most of these people to be in the row in front, behind, across the aisles, or anywhere within three rows of me.

As we board the airtight flying cylinder, let me warn you of a few little rules – well maybe more like suggestions- I take quite seriously. I would print them off and hand them out to the masses waiting to join me on my flight, but the last time I attempted this little public service, the nice TSA agent had a conversation with me. Therefore, I am submitting this little list of flying etiquette for your review. Consider yourself served.

  1. The first rule, umm suggestion, would have to be: Don’t wear a bottle of cologne, perfume, baby oil, or any other fragrant application. Keep in mind an airplane is a self-contained, airtight, pressurized, flying vessel in which we will be locked in and sharing air for the next ten hours. A little over-zealousness with the fragrance and the entire plane full of passengers on board will smell just like you, and btw-you stink. Instead of putting on an extra dab, or handful, of your favorite olfactory enhancement to cover up the fact that you have not showered the entirety of your trip, do something novel…SHOWER.
  2. Be Prepared! You know you are getting ready to board a plane. Have your boarding pass ready, know your seat number, and get any of the essential belongings out of your bag in advance before you waste our time blocking the aisles as you look for you micro MP3 player which happens to be in the bottom of your hastily packed carry-on. The rest of us joining you on this plane would like to get going to our destination and rid ourselves of the presence of the other 300 souls traveling with us. Ok, I will admit if I was not locked in this tube with you, I probably still would not like you very much anyway.
  3. Speaking of carry-on luggage, the sign that shows the allowed carry-on size is not a suggestion, it is based on the fact that the engineers of the aircraft did not plan for passengers bringing a bag big enough to smuggle small children out of the country as well as your trombone. For the record, I have seen a full brass band try to get all their instruments into the overhead compartments. They were shocked when the last three members were asked to check their carry-on. Keep it simple, take only what you need, and check the rest people. We would like to have a place for our bags too.
  4. When we finally sit down, I should warn you of something quite important to the comfort of all parties involved. I really do not want to have a conversation with you. I do not want to know your name, where you are from, or where you are going. The flight is not a mixer to meet new friends. In fact, how about we just agree to coexist until the doors open upon landing. It is not personal, but actually practical. If we do not speak, then there won’t be that uncomfortable realization that we do not like each other and are stuck together for the next ten hours. See, very practical.
  5. One final note before the doors close, this is not your living room and the chair your ass will occupy for the remainder of the trip is not your lazy-boy. So, please refrain from spreading out as if you are the only person in this row. Last time I checked, I paid just as much as you to have for the microscopic space the airline chose to rent us. You stay in your seat and share the armrest, dammit!

At no point is flying confused with a wonderful event. It is a practical means to an end. While on the plane, set aside your selfish persona and think about the other passengers. As mentioned, a few things will help this horrible form of paid torture be a little more pleasant for the rest of us.

Until next time…

jerry b

© 2014

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Humor, Travel

 

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TTMM Weekly Wrap and eBooks


TTMM Weekly Wrap

How was my vacation? Is that your first question? Watch it or that might end up being one of the office inner monologue blogs. I am sure I can come up with a few choice responses to that question. Now that I think about it, maybe I should do just that. Anyway, my vacation was wonderful. Thank you for asking.

This week I missed a day on the blog as I was recovering from all the fun I had with the family. I had hoped to use the hours on the train to work on this week’s post but instead, I took the moment to hold my wife’s hand and read my Nook. I find that between work, family, and writing, I have to actively attempt the balancing of “me” time in there. Thus, reading was what I chose. If you are wondering, it was a good book and I finally finished. You weren’t wondering? Well, never mind. I will move on.

TTMM was in vacation mode this week as well. As I long to be back enjoying the time I had off work, it manifested in my writing. Let’s take a few moments to review.

  • Of course, there are things that inspire you to question what the hell is going on or make you wonder. Vacation time is the perfect time for human theater and observation. I discuss some of them in ”Vacation Observations
  • There are quite a few things that go into planning a vacation but then there are moments that make it all worthwhile. Discover some of those moments in “A New Adventure

As mentioned before, I tend to read quite a bit. Most of my current library is in the eBook format. Not only is the cost of books a little more acceptable but I won’t have to add an addition on to my house for my book shelves. It is my personal opinion that the new format has changed the face of publication and has brought popularity to reading again. One of the benefits of eBooks is the opening of doors to new authors that may have never been able to be published otherwise. Self-publishing has given opportunities, not only for the author but the reader, to explore stories that wouldn’t normally be accepted by the print publication industry. For those that have an eReader, have you been reading more than you previously were? Are you discovering new authors? What are your thoughts on the shift of the industry?

Until next time…

jerryb

©2012 

Related Post: TTMM Weekly Wrap and Facebook Thoughts; TTMM Weekly Wrap…Holiday Week Edition; Love at First Sight

 

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Weekly Wrap

 

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A New Adventure


This week, I am coming back from vacation with my family. Though I may travel often with my job, it is a very rare occasion that I can share the world beyond my little community with my family. Last week, I had a chance to share a little piece of the traveling experience with those I love. I was able to experience the excitement of my children discovering new things, exploring a world they haven’t seen outside of the movies, and seeing a part of the world through their eyes. For those that have had the opportunity to travel with your children, you can understand the balance of excitement and stress. For those that haven’t had the chance; let me explain.

The Stress

If anyone has ever tried to get a group of people together to do any activity, you know that there is a lot of planning, coordinating, and double-checking your list. You have to balance everyone’s needs, personalities, and level of understanding. This process starts weeks before the vacation. I watched my wife go through a daily juggling act of looking for interesting places, fascinating sights to see and must-do things. She attempted to have balance and include things our youngest would like, our oldest would like, and what we wanted to do. She purchased the tickets for events and planned out how much time we needed between things, all the while, leaving things open for the free-flow exploration. Once the trip begins, it is a juggling act of corralling the group, answering the millions of requests from the children (most of the answers are “no”), and all the while attempting to relax and enjoy the moment.

Then the moment happens

The excitement of the trip becomes infectious as the children look around in awe of the new world they are experiencing. Their heads snap from left to right to catch all the new sights like a rubber-necker passing a fender bender. The stress flows out of you with each laugh and comment from the children as you explain the things around them and what is planned. The parental bonds with the children start to reconnect with each passing moment, as do the sibling connection at the shared experience. Forgotten are the tasks for work and the bills to pay. The only thing that matters is continuing this very moment for as long as you can. In that instant, you understand the rewards of the labor in preparing for the trip.

Reaching over and taking my daughter’s hand in mine, we wander through the avenues of skyscrapers as a family and work our way towards each new adventure. Laughter becomes the family’s constant companion as we incorporate our inside jokes to the world around us. We see the new city in a way the natives have long forgotten. Museums, parks, and tourist events are the goals we seek and find with every turn.

At the end of the first day, with legs aching from the exertion, my wife and I enjoy a drink as the kids wander off to look over the lake. I feel my wife’s hand in mine as we relax and watch the children marvel at the sight. I see my son reach down and pat his sister on the shoulder as he explains something to her. She looks up at him and smiles. This is what a family vacation is meant to be.

The Moment

These are the moments that make it all worth it.

Until next time…

jerryb

© 2012

Related Post: Vacation Observations; It’s Family Vacation Time; A Reason for Hope: To My Daughter;

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Children, Family

 

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Vacation Observations


Did you miss me?

We are settling back into the routine after our family vacation. There was not much time to sit down and write, or when there was, I have to say I was exhausted. This week will be a little light on TTMM as I get back into work mode, raise my energy levels up to the normal levels, and sit down to do some writing again. I have many ideas of coming articles but the words are not flowing as they should to make them presentable. Please, forgive the holes in the schedule.

I did want to leave everyone with something to think about from my observations away; just a few quick notes of reference. What do you think?

  • No matter how someone parents their children, other parents will have a “better way to handle” the situation. Some of those methods may be better but we have to remember that we are not the parents of that spoiled brat that is causing all the issues. We are just sharing in the awkwardness of the situation. 
  • It doesn’t matter how exciting the place you are visiting, there is probably a large portion of that city’s population that that wishes they were somewhere else.
  • Can someone tell me how so many people can spend business hours riding their bikes, running, and rollerblading? It is in the middle of the day, don’t they have jobs?
  • It doesn’t matter how well the hotel is rated, there will always be a group of children running the halls and playing in the elevator. It is a fact we must accept.
  • Yes, the cab drivers will run you over if you walk in front of them.
  • Never sit in the front seat of a taxi cab if you are a squeamish about other people’s driving. If you have to do so, spend the time reading your phone but never look out the windshield. You will not enjoy the trip.
  • Wearing your sports team swag while visiting the rival’s city is just fun, especially when you repeatedly win against them.
  • Food that you would normally not eat will actually sound good after walking all day. That is why it is available around the tourist areas. The only regret you will have is paying the absurd amount.
  • No matter how much time you spend on vacation, it will take twice the amount of time to recover from the time away. There should be a vacation after the vacation in order to rest up.

For all those on vacation at this time of year, what are some of your observations that you have discovered? Let’s see if we can add to the list.

Until next time…

jerryb

© 2012

Related Post: It’s Family Vacation Time

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Children, Family, Life, Travel

 

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Airport Diaries #2: Oops! Did I Say That?


Airplane diaries

Airplane Diaries. A travelers journal

Traveling on an international flight has its perks. One of which is the ability to have a few drinks during the long flight when everyone else is asleep. Those cute little bottles seem to add up faster than you realize. The drawback to this airtime happy hour is the arrival back on U.S. soil and the visit to immigration, and subsequently customs, for your re-entry interview. Now under normal circumstances, a trip through immigration and customs is a boring affair. However, through trial and error, we can safely say that neither department’s agents have a sense of humor.Here is a short and incomplete list of a few things NOT to say to re-entry agents.

When asked, “Where have you have been?” it is not appropriate to answer with “a brothel, too many bars to remember, and this cute little place where they package this crazy white powder.”

If you are asked if you have something to declare, I strongly discourage declaring that the agent’s breath “stinks to high heaven”. Also, you are not doing yourself any favors by offering a breath mint or piece of gum.

A standard question is, “What was the nature of your trip?” The simple answer is “business” or “vacation”. The incorrect answer would be “well, you see there are some operations that are not exactly legal in this country…”

If you find yourself asked to step off to the “little room” where an agent proceeds to don surgical gloves, you are probably in for a few intimate yet uncomfortable moments with the agent. Since we have established the agents do not have a sense of humor, refrain from comments such as “Can we go to dinner first?”, “So, do you really enjoy your job?”, and “Please remove that class ring first, I don’t want that thing lost up there”.  In addition, I would not recommend encouraging them by stating, “What you find you keep. What you don’t find, I keep.” or winking at any time.

If you see one of the female agents walking through baggage with drug sniffing dogs, you definitely shouldn’t kneel down and pet the dog while asking in a cutesy voice, “Which one of you is the bitch? Huh, come on who’s the bitch?”

Now I know these seem outlandish but like most warning labels, someone has tried them and each has proven to cause some minor inconvenience on continued travel and/or personal freedom. If you find any additional things that should not be said when entering the country, please pull off a few squares of prison toilet paper and write them down for us. We look forward to your research.

Until next time…

jerryb

© 2012

Related Post: Five Winning Ice-breakers For The Office; Monday Morning Stupid Questions; Airport Diaries #1: Security Hell; TSA: All Touchy, Feely These Days

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Humor, Travel

 

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Airport Diaries #1: Security Hell


Airplane diaries

Airplane Diaries. A travelers journal

It is that time of year when air travel picks up momentum as vacationers flock to their remote destinations. In my job, I spend a fair amount of time in airports and traveling internationally. In the beginning, the travel was exciting and the people watching was worth the price of airfare, taxes, fuel surcharges and baggage checking. However as time went on the almost missed flights and longer delays as well as other frustrations beginning to pile up lead me to believe that now is time for us to discuss some points, helpful hints if you will, for the first time traveler; if for no other reason than I am stuck around you as you travel.

Getting through a security check is a process that has become increasingly frustrating for people over the past 11 years. The rules set in place to keep us safe from the potential evils of the world have created longer lines and confused travelers who mill around the lines of security. It doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s take a moment to look at a few simple things to make your life easier and less annoying to me, when traveling.

  • Sensible shoes: Security in US airports requires all travelers to remove their shoes and place them on the belt to be x-rayed. When traveling, don’t be the person who wears the thigh high boots that lace up to just shy of your ultra-short skirt. You will be required to remove your boots and the hundreds of people following you are not admiring your fashion sense. Instead, we would like to shove those boots firmly up your ass. Other thoughts are also running through our heads, however, they are not appropriate for this particular blog.  Just know, our thoughts are not personal, we will just blame those particular thoughts on the “mob” mentality.
  • Empty pockets: When the nice TSA agent says remove everything from your pockets, they really mean everything. Take out your wallet, keys, and even the little bit of paper you acquired during the preflight process. I have an even better suggestion, since you know you are going to the airport, how about not putting anything in your pockets in the first place? Nothing pushes the buttons of those waiting behind you more than to have to watch you be told a dozen times to step back and empty your pockets.
  • The confusing laptop rules: Well, the rules are not exactly confusing. If you are traveling with a laptop, take it out of the bag you are carrying, place it in a tub all by itself, and then put all other items in a separate tub. See, it is an easy concept. However, it seems that next to emptying your pockets, this rule baffles more people than anything else. I have to admit, the look of utter confusion when the TSA agent explains this to an intelligence-challenged individual, was amusing the first time or two I saw it, but now is an effort in anger management to keep from placing them in the tub…
  • Tourist vs. business traveler: It is easy to pick out the tourists as they are the ones who are socializing with their group of fellow vacationers. They will be wearing the above mentioned fashion attire not suitable for travel. When they approach the security area, they look like little lost children waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Had the group paid attention instead of acting like they were enjoying a happy hour, they would understand what they are supposed to do.  In contrast, you can always tell the seasoned traveler, as they are the ones untying their shoes and removing their belt before they get to the checkpoint.   The most telling identifier of a business traveler is the scowl they are wearing while being delayed by the tourists.
  • The rules are stupid: Yes, the rules are stupid and we all know that they frustrate everyone. However, they are the rules set before us to follow. Trying to get around them or incessantly complaining only slows down the process for all of us. The rules won’t be changed just because we complain and they certainly can’t be changed by the TSA agent waiting for you to empty your pockets for the third time. Think of it in this way, it is against the rules to choke the living shit out of people who aggravate us. If we discounted that simple rule, people going through security might find they are suddenly gasping for breath while their thigh high boots are firmly shoved up their ass.

Now I know that most people who travel may only get the chance to do so once a year, if they are lucky, but travelling is like anything else that is not familiar. Pay attention to what is going on around you, read the signs, and listen to the people who are there every day, wearing the uniforms, reciting the rules over and over and over.   TSA is really trying to make it easier on you, just imagine what they see everyday. I do not want to come across as cynical, but I know those of you I will meet at the airport, who may have read these tidbits of wisdom, will not take heed. As such you will see me scowling at you and contemplating if your shoes will fit up your ass with your head already in there.

Until next time…

jerryb

© 2012

 Related Article: TSA: All Touchy, Feely These Days

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Humor, Life, Travel

 

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Love at First Sight


We go everywhere together. Since my life was blessed with her beside me, I wake up with her, go to work with her, spend my lunch enjoying her company and curl up for the last moments of my day enjoying her. My wife doesn’t seem to mind my constant companion or my eagerness to play with her. I feel smarter in her company and deeply regret when she runs out of energy on a day I pushed her too hard. My Nook© and I are soul mates.

The Nook

My constant travel friend

Personally I am not a “speed” reader. I read often, for long periods of time, often many books simultaneously. However I have not been known to fly through a 500 page book in one day, like quite a few of you out there. So, my snail-pace reading means that I see so many more books I want to read, knowing that may take me at least a month to get through them all. The online Nook© eBook section at the B&N site, allows me to look through all the possible titles, and for a small amount of money, order many books at once, while I  put others on my wish list. I can order the books from my list next month continuing to feed my addiction. The average cost of a hard-cover book is about $25 USD. The cost doesn’t include the space needed to store the book once it is read, which is another $50 USD for the book shelf will fill up in a few months, or even the cost of the new addition to the house when the library overruns every corner of it. The cost of an eBook, about $10 USD and it fits in one little paperback sized, bundle of pleasure, along with 900 other titles. Need more space, archive the books that you have read to the online storage at B&N, and download more. If you don’t want to trust your precious book to the internet, add memory to your Nook©. All of these wonderments are possible with my dynamic, loyal, little piece of wonderfulness.

I know there are other products like my Nook out there and each of them are great for one major reason, people use them to read. Whether you prefer the Nook©, or its relatives the Kindle or Sony Reader, all of these products help to build a generation of readers. Kids are experiencing the joy of reading with these little electronic gems. I have found that even though I have always been a reader by read constantly, I now read even more than ever. I can carry my Nook© with me wherever I go. I take it with me for those long waits at the doctor’s office, to lunch at the closest fast food establishment, in the car when driving for a long distance (though not when I am the driver), and even for those moments when the movie is paused for a snack break. I read more than ever and those who have similar devices will probably agree, eReader have made reading more accessible and fun. Who wants to take an extra 2 lbs book in their carry then get on a flight, only to finish the book halfway through your trip?

Before there is an outcry about Apple’s new wonder, the iPad and how you can do more with it than with a Nook© or Kindle, I want to say, that is my point. If I wanted another traveling computer with a backlit screen that does everything my laptop can, then I would just use my laptop to read books. I sought out a way to have more accessibility to the books I thoroughly enjoy without the eye strain from backlighting. I look at a computer all day long and would rather not have to use my computer screen during my relaxing reading time. Though, this could be said about the color versions of the Nook©, I prefer the e-Ink technology that does not have backlighting. So, keep using your iPad to play your Angry Birds while I enjoy my latest zombie fiction and adventure stories.

After using my Nook© for the past two years, I have grown very fond of her. I am glad my wife hasn’t expressed jealousyyet, though I did notice her frowning at it the other night, I am sure she understands and appreciates my addiction. She also appreciates that my book shelves have stopped spreading through the rest of the house. Now only if I could convince her to get one for herself, I won’t feel so self-conscious and guilty.

Until next time…

jerry b

© 2011& 2013

 Related Article:  Building the Foundation; A Daughter’s Love for Reading; The Age of Audio Books

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2011 in Books

 

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