pen_grunt: (Waits in Tree)
I made it back from San Francisco on the red-eye. Unfortunately, I didn't get to sleep. I blame the guy in the seat next to me...who wouldn't stop talking to me. Fortunately, it was one of the more interesting people I've ever met.

This gentleman was the former ambassador to the US from the Philippines. He went to Harvard in the 60's, got his law degree, and started a sort of Bar Association in the Philippines. He was on his way from CA to Washington D.C.: "They want me to give some kind of speech," he explained, "I don't know why." He then flashed some sort of flickering humble smile. He told me about how he had served his country as ambassador 17 times in Geneva and other places.

He was incredibly interested in my opinion of Barack Obama vs. Hilary Clinton in terms of general likelihood of being elected. He said that he liked Hilary, and didn't know why the US didn't just go with female presidents--it had worked in the Philippines. Of course, he also said he was biased--he was a co-baptismal godparent with Hilary Clinton for some statesman's child (on short notice, actually, the other guy was sick)--so he knew her personally and liked her personally. He acknowledged that this was coloring his opinion, though he thought Barack Obama wrote well, but was very, very young (he then proceeded to discuss his book). I shook my head--I cannot believe I'm having this conversation on a plane at 3 a.m. It's rather awesome, and I wish I were more awake for it.

He told me about his 8 children, "5 of them are doctors!" he pronounced proudly, "But none of them are lawyers like me." (A little disappointment there.) They had all gone to medical school in the US: Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, etc. In the Philippines, your government will send you to an Ivy League school to be a doctor or a lawyer, or a whatever, really, if you want to go--but you have to sign a contract that states you will spend X years (usually not that many) in your native country practicing your trade. Seems like a good reciprocal agreement to me. Most of the people stay in the US, on a permanent basis, however. Out of his class of 60-some, this gentleman was the only one to start a family and stay in the Philippines.

He knew about the book I was reading A Brief History of The Dead, and commented on his opinion of it.

He was interested in my work, and told me that if I wanted to write, I should go into investigative journalism. For some reason.

Overall, he was one of the most intelligent and interesting passengers I've ever been next to on an airplane. I'm glad that if I had to be kept up all night on a red-eye, at least it was next to him and not one of the "other" guys.
pen_grunt: (Jesus Understood)
It's really depressing to think that I'm going to get on a plane, sleep fitfully (or not sleep at all), wake up (or land), be in Minneapolis, take a cab, arrive at work, and then shoot for 8 hours.

Maybe not depressing. Exhausting. Yes. It makes me tired to think of it. Good thing, maybe it'll help me sleep on the plane.

Additionally: I'm dreading flying with an ear infection which, after the last few flights I've had in a short period of time, I'm now certain I have. Ear infections do not count as being sick for me. I get them all the time. They're just really, really annoying.
pen_grunt: (Can't Brain Have the Dumb)
My brain tends to generalize and group things. This works really well for developing quick understanding of information and concepts, and forming creative ideas. However, there are times when it's just really confusing.

For instance, if I were trying to recall how to say "door" in Swedish, my brain would think "foreign language" and I might think of "puerta" (the Spanish word). Because I know enough Spanish and Swedish, I mix the two frequently. After all, they're both "foreign" and my brain groups them as such.

I'm now in Santa Clara instead of San Francisco, and that means I've changed hotel rooms. I was working at my computer, I looked up and wondered where the heck my soda was. My soda was in the OTHER hotel room back in San Francisco, and I was very, very confused for a bit. I associated objects with being, generally, either "not in the hotel room" or "in the hotel room", and that I had moved to a different hotel room was throwing me mightily.

I also need to learn to locate my glasses BEFORE taking out my contacts when in strange rooms. Somehow, I always forget and end up groping blindly around a strange room for several minutes.

You can tell we're in Silicon Valley. The concierge was on a video screen. You see, she was working from home today, but there she was, on the screen. We could talk to her and hear her respond perfectly. Any information we needed, she printed from her home computer to the printer on the concierge desk. It was spiffy technology, if a little surreal and inhuman.
pen_grunt: (Knights)
I think it's a rule, all travel posts about San Francisco have to have that title. I rather like San Fran--you can get anything you'd like at almost any time. Palestinian food with a French dessert and a hippie wheatgrass chaser? They have it here.

We went to this really, really cool restaurant: Gary Danko (oooh, celebrity chef and all...faaaaaancy). It's one of those with multiple courses that are perfectly portioned and have really good, quality, fresh ingredients. Service was awesome, if a bit excessive. We literally had 8 people wait on us: The host, the water-pourer, the drink-taker, the plate-clearer, the silverware setter-outter, the waitress, the drink bringer and the meal server. I had the white truffle risotto, the roasted lobster and the 5 preparations of apple. Fancy-shmancy. They brought us an amuse-bouche before our meal, complimentary dessert cookie-tart-things, and sent me home with a package of pumpkin-cheese bread, "For breakfast--sweets for the sweet lady," said the waitress (I heard her say that to the next table over too). I'm not sharing my free bread.

You can also find most any type of person in San Fran. For instance, we were driven home by the cab driver-version of Jeff Spicolli. Seriously. Long blond hair, surfer dude attitude (yes, he called us "dude"), whacked out stoner speech and attitude, and (I'm not kidding here) his acoustic guitar beside him in the passenger seat. He offered to take us on a "tour" of the city. We declined politely, thinking that we would be lucky if he remembered what hotel we told him we were at by the end of the cab ride.

And now I'm in the hotel overlooking the financial district. It's really a beautiful city at night, all told. During the day? I have *some* reservations.
pen_grunt: (Coppertone Girl)
The airport holds a veritable array of automatic appliances. Auto-flushing toilets, auto-faucets, auto-soaps, auto-towel dispensers, and so on.

Wonderfully convenient, wonderfully fun...save for when they malfunction.

Then the over-powered toilet turns into a bidet, the faucets only work when you're not wearing black clothing (hence, me flashing my belly--the whitest thing I can find--at the sensors), the soap dispenser ejaculates soap at random intervals--soaping up already-cleaned hands, and towel dispensers won't stop dispensing.

It felt a bit like being stuck in Mr. Mom, all told.
pen_grunt: (I am curious yellow)
When I travel, I've noticed that I have a certain set of habits and preferences. Even if I know I'm doing something the wrong way or inefficiently, I tend to keep doing it in that manner--because I'm traveling, and I have to have SOME consistency in my routine.

Because I am curious, take the poll: )

And also in case you're curious, my poll answers: )
pen_grunt: (Oh hell)
Let me just take this opportunity to say that I've flown to Cincinnati probably...4 times...in the last month or so, and on every leg (there and back) there has been SOME kind of delay, cancellation or weirdness. I'm getting kind of sick of it.

We've also been flying on United instead of NorthWest--mainly because flying from Minneapolis to Cincinnati is possibly the most expensive inter-continental flight EVER--clocking in from $900-$1500 (that's not even direct), and NW isn't that cheap.

So we end up flying into Chicago and then onto Cincinnati in these little tiny planes (which give me further opportunities to wage psychological warfare on my slightly claustrophobic boss--but only if he's being really, really annoying and won't stop pointing out pictures of dogs in a magazine while I'm trying to read...).

This time our flight was delayed in Minneapolis...then there were tornadoes in Chicago, so we circled around Rockford, IL for about 2 hours. It's okay, during this time we were assured that we would probably have enough fuel to get on to Chicago. We landed in Chicago, but had missed our connecting flight due to the multiple delays.

We go up to the service counter and announce (in a non-harried, very polite way), "We missed our connection, what are our options for getting on another flight?" But we were greeted like naughty school children, "Why did you miss your flight? We schedule connections so that that doesn't happen." We explained that our plane had just landed. Of course, the attendant had to call and verify this. She gave us the stink eye and reluctantly booked us onto the next flight. I don't know what I was expecting--I'm usually really surprised by great customer service and don't really expect anything above cordial--but I would have liked a notch above "surly and reproachful" please. Maybe even a, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience," would have been nice.

Anyway, our flight from Chicago was delayed...but thank goodness we were checking the monitors periodically, because it became un-delayed when it changed gates...to the complete opposite end of the airport.

And now I'm in Cincinnati again. I come back home tomorrow night, then leave Sunday afternoon again for a week.

Fun times.
pen_grunt: (Family Guy--Accusing Monkey)
I've been very lucky in my travels so far. Knock on wood, but I have never:

--Missed a flight that wasn't a connecting flight (and that only happened once--and it was the airline's fault, so they patched it right up, no worries)

--Been stuck on an airplane for 11 hours (Jet Blue!)

--Lost my luggage for more than a few hours.

--Been probed excessively

--Had my carry on searched or had any security issues.

But now I can say that I have arrived at the airport without a ticket.

3 hours before my flight (I got there super-early because Derrick had to go to work), I go to check in...and oops, my boss didn't actually purchase my ticket. Minor technicality--except for the fact that everyones' flights had been canceled the day before on account of the snow (snow! It's tres' pretty!) and EVERYONE and their brother was at the ticket purchasing counter trying to get different tickets. I sat in line for a half an hour, my boss told me that he was going to buy tickets over the phone and to get out of line. Then he was on hold for a half an hour before I decide to get back in line (because the phone thing was NOT working). I'm in line for another half hour (and my stress meter is rising). The ticket purchasing counter had three NWA employees....one was occupied with a woman crying and trying to get someone back from somewhere (she was at the counter for a good 45 minutes--no exaggeration), one was moving normally, and one just decided to give up and go away. The people behind me are calling the NWA service line and complaining about the service in line (which I'm sure significantly contributed to the delay in ordering tickets over the phone).

I finally am the next in line when my boss calls me and says that he HAD my reservation taken care of, but his phone hung up before he could make the payment. I go up to the ticket counter and my reservation has magically appeared.

Instead of being a $300 round-trip ticket, the flight ended up costing (the company) a little under $1,200. Maybe next time I'll handle my own travel arrangements. 

Avast, Ye!

Jan. 18th, 2007 09:39 pm
pen_grunt: (Too Silly)
Gratuitious backstage pirate pic:

The guy with the controls is an impersonator--you can guess who he's supposed to be. The character on screen is our pirate (I like to think of him as my pirate). The impersonator does NOT do the pirate voice, we just got him back there for a photo op.

I'm Beat.

Jan. 18th, 2007 09:38 pm
pen_grunt: (Can't Brain Have the Dumb)
Just a quickish post--I'm fading fast after being up since around 5 a.m. and working til about...now.

I wanted to expound upon the ocean and all the wonderful things you can think (whoa, I just went Doctor Seuss for a second there) while walking along an abandoned white sand beach at night--but it seems trite to put it into words. Maybe I'll type up something later.

We were bumped from the 4 star convention hotel to the 5 star hotel on the beach (and received a $100 hotel gift card--good at the shops and such--for my "troubles")--not a bad trade all in all. The hotel, however, does some funny things. For instance:

--They insist on putting me in a handicapped room, which has been a disturbing trend amongst hotels I've stayed in recently. Do I look "special" or something?

--They lay out two sets of slippers and two robes at night in their turn-down service. I'm in a single.

--They keep moving my pajamas (which were either on the bed or the floor) to different places each day. I found them stuffed in the top of a closet one day, on my nightstand the next, and in the set of drawers another night. It's a fun game--find your clothes. . .

--They keep picking up my other clothes off the floor and folding my dirty socks. This is extremely disconcerting to me.

It's a grand hotel though--ocean view, suite, full kitchen, etc. Overall, one of the nicer hotels I've been at.

Oh, I just found out that I'm going to Palm Springs, CA in February here. Ack!
pen_grunt: (Family Guy--Accusing Monkey)
Sometimes work brings truly random things. The benefit of doing part of an event that is, in part, supposed to be a treat or reward for the attendees is that some of the cool stuff in the periphery of the meeting can touch you sometimes.

That being said...seriously...monkeys.

Monkeying Around at Work... )
pen_grunt: (Blue eyes--Me)
No matter what hotel I'm in, no matter what city--I always sleep in the bed furthest from the door (if given two doubles) or in the side closest to the door (if given a king).

I'm not sure why, exactly. I prefer having two doubles so I can set up my travel crap (ooh, technical term) at the right height.

Since it usually coincides with the side furthest from the alarm clock and closest to the window, maybe I'm reaching for the sun, and not the artificial wake up.
pen_grunt: (Coppertone Girl)
Woohoo! I came home yesterday to a huge surprise. I had totally forgotten that writing a book entailed getting royalties. So I get this check in the mail.

There's nothing better than unexpected, unplanned for, unbudgeted money :)

Of course, it's not that much, and I just had to replace the deck on my treadmill (yeah, I found out yesterday that I have literally RUN DOWN and completely through the padding on the deck). So easy come, easy go.

Well, not "easy" come, but hey, I have a forgiving memory and I don't remember all the hard work anymore.

I'm at the Omni in Orlando. Nice rooms, good food, freakin' expensive. There's a wedding going on tonight and I'm doing the petty/catty, "I'm gonna look better than that bride" thing.

Anyhoo, off to write the CEO's presentation. La-ti-da. I really need a digital camera to bring on shows. Whoa, I'm random tonight. Must be the air travel.
pen_grunt: (Death Chess)
A plane crashed into a building in NY the day I flew out here.

I'm staying in room 911.

I'm flying back home on Friday the 13th.

Coincidence? Meaning? Doom? Stay tuned to find out.

San Francisco is going okay. I mean, for once it wasn't painful to have to go out with the client--I actually had a relatively nice time. I'm very much looking forward to being home though, the cooler temps at home make me want to snuggle under the covers in full hibernation mode.
pen_grunt: (kirk fuck it)
Whew. After a really strange plane ride (really Mr. Guy-in-the-seat-beside-me, I don't usually fall asleep before the plane takes off... and stay asleep through takeoff), and a persistent headache that has finally dulled to being less obtrusive (and simply annoying), I'm in San Francisco.

The one thing I love about San Francisco is the ability to get good food pretty much at any time. I had a nice little Italian dinner with espresso gelato at the end...and a drink that I'm crediting with getting rid of my headache. I also like staying in downtown hotels--I can see a few very dedicated worker-bees still at their office desks.

However, the hotel I'm staying at is hosting a Plastic Surgery convention right now. This, of course, makes me think that every time someone is looking at me as I pass through the lobby, they're mentally mapping what they could do to improve my looks. Paranoia sets in in 5...4....3....keep the scalpel away from my face (well, maybe just a touch off the nose...)

Oh! And I ran into Larry Bird (the basketball player) as I was checking in. Yeah, literally ran into him. Whoops. I was with my boss at the time and after I rushed to apologize (and tried to flash my winning-est "I'm sorry...but look how charming I am!" smiles) and got out of earshot, I mentioned that, "That guy was really tall."

To which my boss replied, "Yeah, I've worked with him before, that was Larry Bird."

Seriously. I'm such a dork sometimes.

Rock!

Sep. 13th, 2006 04:03 pm
pen_grunt: (Modern Times)
This time my experience in Las Vegas was significantly better than the last time. There's one thing you can say about the city--it's one of the places in the world (and there are few) where you can consistently expect to get good hotel food.

AND they have free wireless internet at the Las Vegas airport--AWESOMENESS!

We'll see what fun packages I'll have waiting for me when I get home. The one thing I like about sending out wedding invites is that I'll be getting mail for a while now. I LOVE getting actual, physical mail more than I probably should. It's a simple thing, yet it makes me ridiculously happy (I'm talking actual squealing here).

On another note, I'm completely wiped out. Project Runway is about the only thing I'll be involved in tonight.
pen_grunt: (Family Guy--Accusing Monkey)
Now I'm at the Luxor in Vegas. I have to say, the room (a suite) is pretty darn comfy and cozy and nice. MUCH better than the standard, tacky Vegas fare.

It's 3:30 a.m. Mpls time.

4:30 Orlando time...

and 1:30 Vegas time.

I have a presentation that I'm giving (and being evaluated on/for) at 8:30...Vegas time.

Dang I'm beat. After going from Miami to Orlando to Vegas, I just want to go home and hibernate.

BTW: An apple (no, not a fancy apple, a plain apple) cost me $3.95 here. Dumbfucks.

So. Incredibly. Cranky.

I got upgraded to a suite with a nifty jet-featuring bathtub...and I won't have a second to use it.

Additionally: Sinuses, why dost thou hate me so? Ears, do you really have to do that sharp pain thing on this particular leg of the trip? Can you both just get together and work stuff out so I don't have to deal with it? K, thanks.
pen_grunt: (Default)
I know that everyone envies and covets the skill sets that they don't have (even above all the rare and unique talents that they have themselves). I know that not everyone can write well, though I don't think that writing is a particularly unique talent...nor is it a difficult one (therefore explaining why I view it as a "talent" for me).

We're on a site logistics meeting with a client, and their meeting organizer is just...well, she amazes me. I don't often come across people that I want to BE in most every way. She's assertive, take-charge, has no fear, is socially graceful, asks for things that I would never have the guts to ask for, super-organized, confident, and she really, really knows what she's doing with all the little (and big) event minutiae. I envy her mad skillz. She pays for all our meals, and though it's probably all paid for by her company she gives off this aura of carefree affluence. She travels more frequently than I do, by herself, and to exotic locales. I don't think I would ever be able to travel by myself and "handle" the client on my own. Maybe it's something I'll grow into. I hope so. As of now that kind of thing absolutely terrifies me. I feel like a child in comparison.

She does have this weird thing where she thinks every guy is hitting on her though. I mean, she's gorgeous, from CA, and very down-to-earth, but I would think that I wouldn't be totally oblivious in all these situations she's describing.

Nice girl (woman...she's probably in her late 20's-early 30's...though she looks like she's my age or younger). Wish I were her. In fact, I now feel nervous around her and her ultra-sophisticated jet-setting lifestyle.


Yes, I know I have my own talents...but it's so darn hard to see one's own talents as unique or special in any way sometimes.
pen_grunt: (Coppertone Girl)
I spent most of the day at the Magic Kingdom after a VERY slow morning start. You see, one of my company's employees cashed a check that she wasn't supposed to cash. This meant that my boss' credit card was maxed out. This meant that we couldn't charge anything (food, rooms, incidentals, etc.) to my boss. This means that Missy has to cover the company charges. I'm getting a 10% lending fee, however, to make up for the extreme amount of stress that this causes me. Thank goodness my credit card just raised my credit limit (and I thought I'd never, ever charge that much). Additionally my boss managed to lose his sunglasses, then his cell phone--eating up a good hour of the morning.

The Magic Kingdom )

Celebration )

Ahh, meetings tomorrow all day (I seriously have a meeting itinerary) and a script to write tonight along with a shirt to iron. I best be moving on then.
pen_grunt: (Coppertone Girl)
For the first time in...maybe ever...I've woken up in a hotel room without having to set an alarm. Just waking up naturally in a strange place is a very unique experience.

Disney is freakin' sweet. We went to Epcot yesterday (on a Saturday!) and had to wait in line for NOTHING. There were only a small handful of children above the age of four.

Epcot has always been my favorite park, because I like the circle of countries in the World Showcase. It makes me feel worldly and it's highly educational (Canada has moose, eh? Who'd a thunk it Disney?). However, I'm thinking it's time for Epcot to update their country display. I don't think I'd take out any, but I would expand and add. The current countries in the circle are (and my favorites are starred):

*Canada--This has always held a place in my heart ever since I bought an emergency sweatshirt here before getting really sick.
*United Kingdom--Toys and tea. Everyone singing in the pub. Boys with British accents. It rocks.
France--Mostly wine, not much entertainment. Oh, except the 18 minute move that says "Ahh, my beloved Frahnz" and basically nothing else.
Morocco--Doesn't have much in terms of showing you the culture.
*Japan--Tin Toy Story! Japan is about the classiest country display there.
America--Unlike all the other country displays, which feature mostly landscape and culture, America focuses in on Presidents and government and not the (what I think is) interesting topography and culture of the start of the nation.
Italy--Again, not much there save for wine. Oh, and some RenFest rejects doing a really bad rendition of Romeo and Edna.
*Germany--Toys sell it again. Germany doesn't have much but toys and beer, but it's got some cool-freaking-toys.
*China--The newly refurbished 9-screen surround movie sells this one for me.
*Norway--Whilst I was upset that pretty much half the things in the Norway shop were actually Swedish, they still had a semi-awesome Viking boat ride. Oh, and not THAT kind of Viking Boat Ride, football fans.
Mexico--Eh, they try...but most of their displays end up being extremely simple and insulting in some instances.

I would like to see them add:
--Another Nordic/Scandinavian country: Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, or Finland
--A "down under" country: New Zealand or Australia
--A soviet country: Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, etc.
--A middle eastern country (so Morocco doesn't have to pull double duty as the African country and the "Middle Eastern" country)
--An actual African country: Tanzania or Somalia
--A South American country: Argentina or Brazil
--Greece

I think we're doing the Magic Kingdom today. Again, it will be blissfully crowd-and-child free. I'll get to see Philharmagic 6 times in a row, if I so desire.

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