Tag Archives: travel

Some thoughts on air travel

I’m back home after a thankfully short trip to L.A. During the course of which, I made a few general observations on air travel which I thought I would share with you now:

  • I still think LAX is one of the worst airports I’ve ever been too. My experience was not particularly good or bad this time around, but every time I enter the airport, I get the deepest desire to leave it rapidly. I hate sitting around there. I hate trying to get into the airport and I hate trying to get out.
  • I’ve ridden the new underground trams at Dulles a few times now and they are quite convenient, but there is just one thing I don’t get: why do they take you way out into the middle of nowhere, so that you have to walk back half a mile to the terminal once you get off the tram? Perhaps it was by design but it seems more like they mis-measured the distance from the main terminal out to the C gates.
  • This merger between United and Continental is a nuisance. Not only do I have to listen to the safety video each time I get on the plane, but I have to also listen to the C.E.O. of United prattle on about how the two airlines have merged to form the best airline in the world. I don’t know about best; biggest, certainly.
  • All of the little fees that the airlines charge now border on comical. It’s just beyond words.
  • I’ve said this before but each time I fly across the country, it seems longer.

I sure hope that commercial space travel is better–kind of like commercial air travel at the dawn of its time, with lounges on board the space craft, with handsome hosts and pretty hostesses greeting you. And with a one-price-fits-all mentality.

In Santa Monica next week

Once a year, in my day job, my team gathers in our Santa Monica, CA office for an annual planning retreat. I look forward to it with mixed emotions. One the one hand, I get to see people I don’t normally see (I’m the only one on my team who works in our Arlington, VA office); and not just coworkers, but old friends and family, too. There are lots of social events and it can be a great deal of fun. On the other hand, I leave Kelly and the Z-man behind for 4 days, and that is always tough.

This year, I head Santa Monica on Monday and return home on Friday, with our planning retreat taking up most of Tuesday and Wednesday. Blogging will continue as normal, as will my Vacation in the Golden Age. And while I’m out there on the West Coast, I’ll submit my second Wayward Time Traveler column. I may even squeeze in some fiction writing.

Thanks to the Internet, I’ve made quite a few writer-friends online that I’ve never met in person. If any of you folks are in or near the Santa Monica area next week, let me know and maybe we can meet up in person.

Up to New Jersey

Around 7 pm, we headed over to Sarah’s.  Originally, we were expecting 5 of us plus Oliver, the dog, to be going up to New Jersey, but Michael’s girlfriend was sick and didn’t end up coming.  So as soon as we got to Sarah’s, we piled into her car and got on the road.

It was a quite drive up.  No traffic and smooth sailing all the way.  We arrived at Sarah’s parent’s house around 11:30 pm.  Both Kelly and I are pretty tired so we’re heading off to bed.  We’ve got a lot planned for tomorrow.

Originally published at From the Desk of Jamie Todd Rubin. You can comment here or there.

Valentine’s day in Albany

I gave Kelly her Valentine’s gift yesterday, since we had a busy day today, and she gave me not one but two cards this morning, which made me realize that I hadn’t gotten her any cards.  Nevertheless, we had a very nice Valentine’s day–our first as a married couple.  I was up at 6 AM to feed the cats, came back upstairs and told Kelly that I was probably just going to get up, since I was already awake.  I then promptly fell back asleep for another hour or so, which she found very amusing.

We flew out of Reagan/National and once again, it’s great living so close to that airport.  The flight to Albany was less than 1/4 full.  In fact, there were 19 people on a plane that holds 80.  It was quite possibly the emptiest flight I’ve ever been on.  We left the gate 10 minutes early and arrived in Albany nearly half an hour early.  strausmouse  was there to meet us, and we piled into his car and headed to a nearby mall where we met rmstraus  and their little dude for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.  Then it was back to their house to hang out, and where lots of talk about babies took place.

Eric made an excellent dinner that consisted of pasta with sweet potatoes, to say nothing of a side salad with some homemade dressing.  And there was some pumpkin ale to go along with it.  Yum!  For dessert, there were chocolate-filled strawberries and ice cream.  We ate dessert while playing a few games of Apples to Apples.  Ryane won the first game and Eric somehow managed to win the second game.  It’s hilarious to watch those two play any game together.  Around 10 PM, Kelly and I called it a night.

And he walked on down the hall

Another long workday.  My hours are going to increase for a while until we get over the hump, which will hopefully be sometime in mid-March.  In the meantime, I expect longer days.  More than likely I’ll start getting up earlier, working from home until Kelly is up and ready to go and then head into the office.  I’ll do my best to keep the evenings clear, but we’ll see how things go. 

I ate lunch today, but didn’t take a lunch break.

Finally got around to moving an automatic payment from an old account to a new one.  That took way longer than it should have.  Paid the auto insurance bill.  I’m annoyed as all heck that in Virginia you can’t pay the entire year in advance (I was able to do that in Maryland).  Apparently, in Virginia, the policies are written to be six months.  I just hate having to remember to pay these bills.  I went to set up automatic payments for it, but they automatic payments are deducted monthly and charge a $5 service fee.  You can’t do automatic payments if you pay the whole thing up front.

Avalon finally got the new website up so that I can once again pay the rent automatically.  Recall from a while back that I had this all nice and working, and then Avalon decided to cancel it all so that they could revamp their website.  After a few months, they got the new website up and announced it today.  Thrilled, I went to it and couldn’t for the life of me figure out where to set up the payments.  Long story short:  the site only works with Internet Explorer; no Safari, no Firefox.  Fortunately, I figured this out by logging into the site on a whim using Internet Explorer on my work laptop.  The message that indicates this is not displayed when you log in using another browser, only using Internet Explorer.  I was able to set up my recurring payments, but I’ve got to say that this has been a customer service disaster from end to end.

I also paid the water and cable bills today, now the only two remaining bills that have no eBill mechanism and no way to do automatic payments.  (Not entirely true.  Cable does, but it involves calling customer service, and I’m through with that for a while.  It’s easier to pay the bill via BillPay.)

We booked our travel to warm and sunny Albany, New York.  Yes, there’s no place like Albany on Valentines Day, and that’s where we’ll be, visiting strausmouse  and rmstraus  in the dead of winter.  The original plan was to drive but I’m in no mood to spend 14 hours of my weekend in a car.  So we bit the bullet and bought fairly reasonable plane tickets.  Nonstop from Reagan-National.  Total travel time should be under 2 hours and that includes going to the airport.

Kelly’s belly seemed to have a growth spurt over the last few days.  She is looking increasingly pregnant.  We have a doctor appointment tomorrow morning.

I’m going to try and squeeze in a little pleasure reading before heading off to bed.  I’ve got the fireplace going, now all I need is a glass of chocolate milk.

Catching up, part 2

I went upstairs to read at 7 PM last night and couldn’t get through a page before falling asleep.  I woke up at 6 AM and Kelly and I decided to stay in bed (and keep warm) until 7:30.  So I basically slept for 12 hours last night.  Then it was off to a busy day in the office.

The days are flying by and blurring into one another.  I only got to the gym one day this week.  On the other hand, I did a good deal of writing and I’m happy about that.  I’ve been trying to catch up on NEW SCIENTIST.  I was two issues behind, and now I’m only one issue behind.  But that’s taken time away from The Best of the Best.  I hope to make better progress on that  front.

Kelly’s belly is getting bigger.  People other than me can tell she’s pregnant.  She’s generally been feeling much better than she was feeling in the first trimester.

The garage door didn’t work again this morning. This marks the fourth time I’ve had problems with it, always on cold days, and I ripped the maintenance manager a new one, I’m afraid.  I asked the to replace the garage door opener, seeing as how I appear to be the only one having the problem.  I played the "pregnant wife" card and made it clear that I didn’t want Kelly to have to manually open and close the garage door.  The damn thing is just defective.  They "fixed" the problem today by adjusting the tension, but even after that, I went to the office and made sure that I wanted it replaced.  It involves paperwork and going through the management company, but I’m not backing off this one

Re-upped my SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN subscription through 2012.  Received three of The Year’s Best Science Fiction in the mail yesterday.  I’m slowly going to work my way backwards through the series.  And today also marked two straight weeks of packing my lunch for work.

It was extremely cold here today.  Below 0 at times.  Right now, the temperature is 7 and 0 with the wind chill.  At least the heat in the house is working.

We head to New York tomorrow to visit he11o_sunshine  and stubiebrother  and Sadie.  Yup, we’re flying US Airways to LaGuardia and back.  A couple of people have pointed this out to me so I’m just confirming it.  We are looking forward to seeing Jen and Jason and meeting our niece for the first time.

Inauguration is Tuesday and I haven’t described what it’s like in the D.C. area with respect to that, but it will have to wait for another post because I’m getting ready to go to bed.  Suffice it to say, it will be interesting here over the next four or five days.

Just finished watching the season premier of Battlestar Galactica and I thought it was good.  Looking forward to the remaining nine.  (And when there are only five episodes left, I can already predict the tag lines:  "Don’t miss the ‘final five’".

And I’ve got a small headache.

Sunday

Slept in late again today–got up close to 9 AM, but we were up pretty late last night with AJ and Denisse.  I made us scrambled eggs for breakfast and we sat around watching Sunday Morning.  I was interested in looking for a messenger bag to replace my backpack and so we took advantage of the cold, but calm weather to walk to the Pentagon City mall (it’s about 2 miles from the house).  We ran through several stores before I finally found a decent messenger bag at Macy’s:  a Fossil bag that was marked 50% of (vickyandnorm  would be proud).  We then took the leisurely walk home.

I called strausmouse  back and we finalized some travel plans.  We are flying up to NYC Inauguration weekend to visit with he11o_sunshine , stubiebrother  and Sadie.  We managed to get great fares out of Reagan, which is five minutes from our house.  We’re going to be gone for all of 36 hours, but it will be nice to see them.  Then, we are planning to go up to visit strausmouse  and rmstraus  in Albany on Presidents Day weekend in February.  We’re looking forward to both trips, both for the enjoyment of seeing friends and family, as well as the last whiff of what can be called a social life before the baby is born.

Kelly and I had a very pleasant mid-afternoon nap.  We both dozed in the family room and it was very peaceful and quiet.  I was reluctant to come out of it.  Eventually, though, we had things to do.  We took down the Christmas tree today, and packed away all of the trimmings.  I then vacuumed up all of the needles from the tree, which meant vacuuming a lot of stairs (taking the tree out of the house caused it to shed what seemed to be half it’s supply of needles).  I did manage to get a lot of reading done, however.  In the early evening, we did some grocery shopping.

Travel day

It was a long travel day.  We left Kelly’s parents at 9 AM and made the 2 hour drive up to Tampa.  Our flight was delayed an hour and so we had lunch at the airport, watched some videos on the iPod, and finally boarded the plane for home.  The airport in Tampa was empty, but when we arrived at Dulles, late in the afternoon, the airport seemed pretty crowded.  Nevertheless, we retrieved our bags from baggage claim quickly and were on our way home.

We arrived home at 6 PM (thus the long travel day) and the cats were all happy to see us.  Mostly.  Leanna was watching the cats in our absence, and she did a great job, as always.

Home too late to pick up my packages from the concierge.  I’ll have to get them tomorrow morning.

Today’s flight will be my last in 2008.  I only had about 15,000 miles flown this year and that means I won’t make Premier status for the first time in 6 years.  Ah well, with the baby coming, I doubt I’ll be traveling much next year anyway.

Oh, and in addition to all of the gifts we brought back, Kelly also brought back a belly.  The baby grew in the week we were gone and Kelly is definitely showing now.  Very exciting!

‘Twas the day after Christmas…

Today was a relaxing, lazy day.  First off, it was very hot out, well over 80 degrees, and that just made me feel sluggish throughout the day.  I didn’t do much.  Kelly and I did head over to the nearby mall and wandered around in the heat until we couldn’t take it anymore.  And although we wandered into Banana Republic twice, neither of us bought anything.

I should have gotten a lot of reading done today, but I’ve been obsessively watching episodes of Battlestar Galactica and that has consumed a lot of time.  That, and playing Sim City on my iPhone.  What time wasters!  I could be reading.  Or writing!  Oh well, I’m on vacation.

Kelly and I took a long walk today and saw a small snake cross the sidewalk in front of us.  I have no fear of snakes, but we gave it a wide berth anyway.  I didn’t know if it was poisonous or not, but Kelly’s mom later told us it probably wasn’t.  Later, we went to the pool and I watched Kelly and Logan swim.  This time, I didn’t go swimming (I was busy watching Galactica episodes).

We had burgers for dinner and I managed to eat two of them.  I have been eating a lot more than I am used to eating.  I eat a meal and still feel hungry.  This has caused my weight to jump to nearly 158 pounds.  I’ve got to get back my good eating habits.  And I’ve got to get back to the gym regularly!

Tomorrow morning, we head home.  I’ve charged up the GPS using the charger that came with the GPS we gave to Kelly’s parents for Christmas.  We are mostly packed.  Heading out around 8:30 or 9 AM.

Florida, Day 1

Smooth travel day today.  We headed to the airport at 6 AM.  We’d already checked in and just had to check out bags, head through a short security line, and catch the "mobile lounge" to the D gates.  We stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for a snack, and got to the gate just in time to board the plane.

Smooth, quite, uneventful flight down to Tampa.  It was my first time in Tampa.  We were first off the plane, grabbed our bags, got the car, and were off for Treasure Island, where Kelly’s parents have a condo.  We got kind of lost.  There is all kinds of construction going on outside the airport and the new interchanges are not yet in the GPS software (and I have the Garmin 2009 GPS software).  It was also incredibly foggy, but after a short delay, we got ourselves going in the right direction, and half an hour later, we arrived at the condo.  It’s right on the beach, 6th floor, and has a great view of the gulf coast.

We walked on the beach, we went to Subway for lunch.  We went to a local place called Caddy’s for dinner.  Lots of "townies".  It was a lot of fun, and the sound of the surf is very soothing.  I expect a good night’s sleep tonight.

Early Saturday

Up at 5 am after sleeping for what seemed to be 15 minutes. So far our flight is on time. We should be heading to the airport in 20 minutes or so.

It was 12 years ago today that Carl Sagan died. I was in the midst of reading his terrific book, The Demon-Haunted World and was telling my friend Paul about it when he said to me, “You know he died a few days ago.” Can’t believe it’s been 12 years.

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