Saturday, January 26, 2008

The phrase you're looking for is "Butt-Kicking"

I'm sitting here watching Barack Obama give his victory speech for South Carolina. You have to give the guy credit for being a great orator if nothing else.

The final numbers aren't in yet, but Barack will likely take over 50% of the vote in South Carolina. Very impressive in a 3-horse race, especially considering the work that the Clinton's did in the state.

I don't know what Super Ridiculous Tuesday will bring. I don't know what the conventions will bring. I don't know what November will bring. But what I do know is that Barack has captured my imagination in a way that Bill Clinton did in 1992.

Is Barack perfect? No. Do I agree with everything he says? No, but there isn't a candidate out there that I agree with 100%. Is he inexperienced? Yes, and the most important choice he will make is a VP candidate if it comes to that.

But as for right now, Barack has my vote (which is already in the mail, BTW).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Five

Three day trips completely confuse me. I was up in Seattle Monday-Wednesday. I had to remind myself about a dozen times that it wasn't Friday. But it certainly is nice to be home for more days than I'm away for.

The one downside, however, is my neck is out of whack at the moment. I'm not sure if it was the pillows (which were terrible in the hotel I was at), or if it was because I was staring up at an overhead screen the three days I was in Redmond, but I am miserable right now.

And then there was the weather. Several locals informed me this was the coldest week Seattle has seen this winter. Glad I could be there for it. Having to scrape my car is of course one of the things I really hate.

On the plus side, I did get to enjoy a fantastic sushi dinner with a good friend.

In any event, I had a conversation with someone originally from Brooklyn, which of course leads to a conversation about pizza. So this week is my favorite 5 foods I can only get in certain locales.

  1. Pizza. Granted, there is Bronx Pizza here in San Diego, but really - any corner pizza place in NY/NJ is much better. And people who say they don't like NY-style pizza simply haven't had good NY-style pizza.
  2. Dunkin' Donuts. Can't get them in San Diego County. Pure chemicals, and they put crack in the coffee, but it's great.
  3. Famous Dave's. Everyone knows my affinity for this place. I'm back to Rogers, AR this week, and I made sure to stay in the hotel that's across the street from the local Famous Dave's.
  4. Fish tacos. If you haven't had them, you're probably disgusted at the thought. But trust me - there are few things better in the world than Rubio's fish tacos.
  5. White Castle. This is certainly an acquired taste. I think for the most part you have to have grown up with it. I did, and I always make it a point to pick up a sack whenever I can. (And, no, the frozen is not the same.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

2007 Chargers

Frequent readers of my blog of course know the trials and tribulation I went through this season as a Chargers fan. Needless to say, this has been a turbulent year, and not the year I was expecting.

All-in-all, though, the season ended well. Started 1-3, then 5-5, but finished the year 11-5, and managed to beat the Titans at home and Indianapolis on the road. The AFC Championship game was in Foxborough, of course, and by the time we showed up our 3 biggest stars were beat up. While disappointing, it's hard to really get down on the Chargers.

We go into next season as one of the youngest, most talented teams in the NFL. We've worked out the initial issues with Norv Turner and his crew. We've brought in Charlie Joiner to coach the WR's, and brought in the same RB coach that Tomlinson had when he started his career.

Above everything else, though, is the fact that Phillip Rivers became a man. Starting the season, he was very uncertain. He got very little protection, he stared down receivers, and he was very jumpy in the pocket. Down the stretch, he came into his own. And then there was the AFC Championship game.

Unbeknownst to the outside world, Rivers had surgery to clean up his right knee - the knee that had a torn ACL. Yes, a torn ACL. The injury that puts a player on the shelf for an entire year. But he was out there, leaving everything he had on the field. He also won the respect of every single player in the locker room because of his guts.

I'm not exactly sure what 2008 will bring. But it certainly looks promising. And really, at the end of it all, isn't that what being a fan is all about - the promise of the future?


Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Five

This was a very long week for me. I find that getting back in the saddle after a long time off can be difficult. This was my first 5 day class since the New Year, and I only had a 3 day last week. To make matters more interesting, there was a couple of issues with the first of two classes I was teaching this week, which made for a more stressful time. The cherry on the sundae was a head cold that would not let go. Fortunately, I believe it's on the way out, and hopefully I'll be healthy again for next week.

In the mean time, this week are just some observations and other things about travel:

  1. The Central Time Zone (where I spend the bulk of my time) is nice for two reasons - Mike & Mike, and prime time starting at 7p. I can't listen to Mike & Mike at home because it's off the air by the time I get up. There's also something nice about all the shows I want to watch being over by 10p. (Maybe I'm getting old...)
  2. The Pacific Time Zone is nice for sporting events. I don't have to stay up until 1a to watch the end of Monday Night Football.
  3. I'm finding that I'm talking to myself out loud a lot more because I spend so much time by myself now. I have a propensity for talking to myself as it is, but since I'm all alone in an apartment or hotel room quite often  find myself doing it even more - to the point where I'm starting to do it a bit in public.
  4. What I still don't understand is why electronic kiosks for airlines are vastly different from the terminals the actual agents have to use. In about 5 screen taps I can check myself in. The gate agent has to hit enough keys to transcribe War and Peace.
  5. I do find it depressing that I take "reverse" trips weather wise. I almost always leave better weather for worse weather. This week it's been sunny and 50-60 degrees in San Diego, while Houston blessed me with 40-50 and rainy.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Five

Ok - so I'm a little late here. It's a tad strange to have a Friday where I'm not boarding a plane. I have a routine. I either peck out the Five when my kids are on lab, or sitting at the bar waiting for my flight. Needless to say, neither of those things happened today. I didn't realize today was Friday until about an hour ago.

Since I did a posting earlier about traveling, here's 5 travel tips everyone should know:

  1. Know the layout of the airport. This can help you in numerous ways. For example, there are often multiple security checkpoints available. For instance, at the San Diego airport, Terminal 2 in particular, has two different checkpoints - one that's regularly busy, and the other that normally has no one in line.
  2. Use online check-in. I know what I said about security issues. But for as long as they allow it, use it. It will save time at the airport
  3. Carry on. Saves time at the airport both when departing and arriving. And plan for carrying on - make sure you have your liquids ready to go.
  4. Hotwire is your friend, particularly when it comes to hotel rooms and rental cars. Great way to save a few dollars.
  5. Ask for what you want. This is actually from a friend's five rules for living, but I've found it particularly helpful when traveling. Don't just ask for what you want, not what you think you can get. Worst thing that can happen is they say "no" - and you're back to where you started.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Online check-in I can get onboard with

I think you've probably picked up on the fact I spend a little bit of time on a plane. As a result, I work very hard to make the entire experience as painless as possible. The simplest thing to do is to limit the time you have to stand in line, and make the trip through security as painless as possible. This has led me to making sure my entire wardrobe able to be shoved into a backpack so I can carry it on, to make sure I have 3oz sample size of everything, and check-in online whenever possible.

Online check-in is a bit of a double edged sword for me. Certainly I like the convenience. What I don't like is the security issue it introduces.

Everyone has heard about the no-fly list. The main-stream media has had a bit of a field day with stories of otherwise innocent people not being able to fly, or at least having problems boarding a plane, because their name matched one on the list. The problem is that with online check-in, the no-fly list is easily bypassed.

Imagine if you will that I'm a terrorist on the no-fly list with a rather unfortunate name of "Aibee A. Terrorist". I go online to book my travel, and on Travelocity I type in a traveler name of "Homer Simpson". That name will be the only one that a computer sees, and as a result, the only name checked against the no-fly list.

Before my flight I print out my boarding pass at home. My ID says "Aibee A. Terrorist", but my boarding pass says "Homer Simpson". This is not a problem. I scan my boarding pass. A little quick editing, and I change the name on the boarding pass to "Aibee A. Terrorist" and print out this boarding pass, leaving me with one with my real name, and one with my fake name.

I show the TSA agent my boarding pass with "Aibee A. Terrorist" along with my ID. Unless the agent has the no-fly list memorized, there is going to be no check of my legitimate name against the no-fly list. When I board the plane, I give the gate agent the "Homer Simpson" boarding pass. When the pass is scanned, the screen displays the same name as the boarding pass, and I'm allowed to board.

At no time did a computer confirm that I am in fact the person on the boarding pass, and at no time was my real name checked against the no-fly list.

In the interest of full disclosure, none of the above is my idea - it's something I read in another blog a long time ago. Certainly, a terrorist can obtain a fake ID, but the above can be pulled off by almost anyone with a scanner and a printer.

What's the fix? Well the simplest thing to do is start checking ID's again at the gate. But that slows down the boarding process, and airlines don't want to do anything that slows down the boarding process.

An even better solution? One that's both more convenient for passengers and one that will confirm that the name on the boarding pass is in fact the same as my ID?

Well, Continental (and a couple of other airlines) are testing a new system where they send a link to your cell phone, and clicking on that link brings up your boarding pass. You show the image on your phone to the TSA agent. The TSA agent scans it, confirming the name on the pass, and your ID, and in turn, making sure your name actually did get checked against the no-fly list.

As an added bonus for someone like me who doesn't always have access to a printer, I can check in without having to worry about printing anything out.

Easier for me? More secure? This is a online check-in process I can get on board with.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Friday Five

Well - almost time to get back on the road again. But this week has been very nice. We of course did our annual Vegas trip for New Year's (I can confirm a good time was had by all), and these past couple of days have been an attempt to lay low.

As for the five, I found a few questions worthwhile at

  1. What’s something you suspect you regularly overpay for?
    Auto costs - gas and otherwise. It's something you simply must have, and there are times when you just have to bite the bullet and go for it.
  2. What’s something you suspect you regularly underpay for?
    Travel expenses - specifically hotel and rental car. Hotwire is a wonderful thing.
  3. What’s taking up more of your time than it should?
    Playing on the computer - surfing the Internet or playing games.
  4. What’s causing you stress only because you let it?
    At the moment, not too much. But I do have a tendency to let things get to me very easily.
  5. If all your karma were based on your positive and negative attitudes, would it be in good shape, in bad shape, or perfectly in balance?
    In all reality, probably in balance. I can have my fair share of mood swings. ;-)