Thursday, December 6, 2007

Top Ten Fun Things for the Christmas Party Person who Does Not Have to be in the Office the Next Month or So....

You know, there are unique benefits to being on the road all of the time, and one of them is that your "home" office Christmas Party is a great way to try all of those things that the lists on Job Search engines tell you not to do...

Hell, they eliminate just about all of the fun – If I heeded their advice, it would have probably eliminated my awesome impersonation of the new Indian engineer (it was done it good taste, he said something funny, and I repeated it) and the year before that the stage diving from the three piece musical ensemble the near retirees selected for our entertainment (it was just about as bad as being stuck on a transcontinental flight with only the Delta Classical station available)and the awesome display of acrobatic prowess that it takes to bowl over half of your so called co-workers (the ones that get to gome home every night, and consider it a pain in the ass to have to go to a two day seminar once every two years....)

Those lists suck – here are the 92%'er way to liven up a Christmas Party –

1. Fart on the dance floor – it is always important to fart and move – that way, in a crowded room, no one really knows who shit their pants, and the strange looks on everyone's face is (as MasterCard says) Priceless.
2. Take advantage of the open bar. It is not everyday the company is going to spring for a drink – so drink ten.
3. Dance with the office ugly person. This builds the team, and makes you look that much better.
4. Wear a spandex workout shirt and a blue blazer. Looking like you could run a marathon or go to a cocktail party has worked for several movie stars.
5. Tell your boss that you would “do” his/her spouse. Trust me on this one, if it does not win their trust, it will certainly create a lasting memory.
6. Ignore your date/significant other, and introduce them only as “the person who I tolerate on weekends” – this will make for an argument which always leads to the wonderful “make up” sex.
7. Bring pickled pigs feet and dill pickles as well as a 40 ounce bottle of King Cobra or Old English 800 or Old Milwaukee– and place them out on the food/drink table. Then stand there all night long and look at the people who actually put them on their plates.- - then say “You actually eat that crap?, I hope you brought a toothbrush!”
8. Bring Christmas Cards with condoms and pass them out to your co-workers – make sure the card says “I love working with you, but I could not take working with another one of you – Merry Christmas”
9. Wear a trucker cap that says something to the effect of “If you can read this, kiss my ass” or “I was born ugly, but you can fix ugly” or “Is it me, or do you want to be naked too” – it always is a great conversation piece.
10. Give a meaningless toast to the office much like “This year has been full and so am I – Merry Christmas”, or “Let’s reduce our carbon footprint next year, and burn off some of the dead wood around here” or “Although these glasses are not bottomless, the combined hope of our team is”

You guys give these a try – I think if you do, big promotions in the near future….

Signing off for now,


Friday, November 2, 2007

Blurred Lines and Sunny Days...

Ah, Seattle this time of year is absolutely beautiful - I think two of the five days this week have been greeted by a bright orange sun, and just a light misty fog that burns off as the days creep up into the mid-fifties. Mt. Rainier was visible for miles this morning - and you don't realize how big the damn thing is until it fills your windshield as you drive into SeaTac.

With that being said, I struggled with the title a little bit for this blog, this is somewhat my personal journal, and although I post for the world to see, there is always stuff that I throw out that is better kept to myself - I guess who really cares - I see thousands of folks everyday, and no one really knows who they are, as long as they don't interfere with their lives, meals, families, and paychecks. It is interesting to see these dynamics in play - but I will save that for another blog when my head is less full of other items.

Blurred lines - I think every traveller has this happen to them once or twice along their long careers on the road - literally and metaphorically. We all have things that create blurred lines - the six pack of Coors light with co-workers before you stupidly decide that it's okay to drive home, or the relationships you develop with friends in your new cities. I guess the blurred lines is not so much a discussion about the opposite sex, but about all co-workers that you spend an immense amount of time on the road with. What is amazing is that the people that you visit get the beauty of spending more time with you than your family does - granted it may not be quality family time, and much of it is spent working, but they become a surrogate family for all of us. I have not found an effective way from separating myself from worrying about their kids, pets, personal problems, and careers - even though, in all reality, perhaps the only thing I should worry about is the job we all have to do.

I find myself calling my best friends, two guys who will remain phone numbers in my cellular, to discuss the weighty problems of life just as much as I call my wife - it is odd, but their advice is appreciated, and we have no secrets to hide from one another - we see each other twice a year, but we all know where the other is, and what their struggles might be, or share the joys with each other as well. They started out as co-workers, and now, they are certainly my best friends. I know (as well as them knowing) that the door is always open - generally you may not like what you see when you get there, but you know that there is always a place to rest, and always someone to talk with.

I think certain folks have the ability to personally separate themselves from what they do, and who they are - but for us 92% transients - it is more difficult - you pour yourself into what you do that it becomes a major part of who you are - and somehow gets mixed in as fruit into your oatmeal bowl of life (that is a pretty picture, but hell, I am rushing to catch my plane, and that is the best I could do....) - I spend nights eating dinners with women, men, co-workers, hotel guests, clients - and what each of them senses is that I am genuinely interested in each of them - they are my family - albeit temporary and substitutes for the real thing, they are the healthy distraction that keeps us all sane on the road.

In closing, I guess the best thing I can say is that blurred lines are good for the traveller - we need to blur those lines between work and personal at times, and sometimes throw the politically correct sterile treatment out the window. Making friends and being concerned is a true part of staying sane - and I think for each of us, we all need to hear a friendly voice through something other than a telephone receiver every now and again.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Uncertainty and, well what else is there, but Love?

Inspiration for a blog comes from the oddest places - I honestly believe that fanny packs should be a requirement for rookie travellers - if they don't have at least mid-level participation in three different airlines, then you must where a bright hunters orange fanny pack with all of the following in it:

1. The $98.40 of pocket change you managed to empty out of your car, that bowl on the kitchen counter, your children's piggybank, and the change from the extra large cup of coffee you bought without the knowledge that you would either have to scald your tongue to finish it before security, or sit in front of security and enjoy that $9.00 treat.

2. The fourteen packs of gum that you purchased just in case there were people on the plane who take offense to the Indian Cuisine that you ate before you came in. Trust me, the gum is not going to help - try a shower - the curry sweats out of you like an earthen dam failure.

3. The pager and cellphone you carry. Who uses pagers anymore anyway? If you have a pager, throw it away - you can get a cell phone, that will, believe it or not, PAGE YOU. Note for TSA security agents - Pagers are an ancient device that humans used to get in touch with one another. Several months ago these were replaced by a new technology that we like to call CELLULAR telephones.

4. The 8 cigarette lighters that you have rounded up - believe me, if you can find a place to smoke you will find fire.

5. The 9 bottles of "personal items" that you hold near and dear to your heart. Although ass cream, face cream, cologne, another cologne, four shades of eyeliner, toothpaste, deodorant, a tube of goof off, and the omnipresent hair gel/spray/wax/mousse/quaffing potion are important parts of good hygiene, they really are not that important for flying. Another nifty invention that they have come up with is called the "hotel store" or even more recent "the drug store". New travellers would be absolutely amazed at the things that you can find at these amusement park like pieces of heaven.

6. Finally, animals. Yes, rookie travellers should be required to shove their cute, furry, smelly, whiny little alligator food replacements for dogs into their fanny packs. That way, they can enjoy the feeling of having a moving animal on THEIR lap, instead of shoving them underneath my seat so that I get to enjoy the smell of dog piss the entire flight.

What's really sad about this - and what do these things have to do with uncertainty - spend some time in an airport - and you can be certain that you will see these things. Spend some time on an airplane with this person, and you will be uncertain about ever flying again....

This was actually supposed to be a more serious post - about those two things - uncertainty and love - and I had better change gears before I lose every one.

We throw the word love around these days like a pit bull in Michael Vick's backyard - we have denigrated, belittled, and let love become almost the all purpose adjective. I am certain about very few things in life - but the one that I am most certain about is love.

We use love to describe the food we eat, the games we play, the cars we drive, the hobbies we have, and the list goes on. Love is an emotion that should be reserved for those people and things that you really do love - and what is love? Well, that's where the uncertainty comes into play - anytime you are wondering how someone is feeling about you, or how someone is feeling - anytime you pour yourself into something and emotionally, physically, and mentally connect at the purest level - anytime you smile when you see their face, and anytime you know that they are feeling pain and you share their pain and try to lift it to joy - then you know that you may feel love. Uncertainty is the fact that love has no explicit rewards because it is unconditional - love should not only make you feel a sense of accomplishment, but it should also make you feel a sense of being a part of something bigger - whatever that may be. Love is an easy emotion to share - and an uncertain one to feel. Maybe that is why I called this Love and Uncertainty.

A little story - my son is sick, and has been sick for the past three weeks. He is a beautiful boy - a mirror image of generations of families that my wife and I contributed to his gene pool. We don't know what is wrong with him, although he has been through every blood test, xray, poke, and prod that any nine year old should feel. He has taken more antibiotics, Tylenol, Motrin, and other foul tasting liquid that you should feed into a nine year old. We are uncertain what is wrong - and that fact that we love him more than we love ourselves at times, makes that uncertainty difficult - but I can assure you - love grows deeper with the unknown - it is that uncertainty that makes 92% travel difficult - when you want to hold your son, tell him that he is a tough boy, and that you love him.

Until the next post, I appreciate your company -


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pleasant Surprises and Room Service

Given that the weather is absolutely beautiful in Seattle this week, I sort of have to take back one of my earlier rules - even the locals don't seem to know how to handle this weather - they are all walking around in bermuda shorts and galoshes with a dazed look on their faces - as if the sun has some sort of thorazine like effect on their minds - I must have counted ten people out walking while I was driving home from the office - they all had their Timberland pullovers wrapped around their waists, as if the expectation that there would be an instant rain storm and forty degree drop in temperature would come true at any minute.

For the frequent flyer - time changes make for interesting surprises - I found that people are actually awake at 4:00 AM - the gym is usually a lonely place, but this morning, I walk in to find the elliptical and the treadmill occupied by some East Coasters who were just as mystified by their ability to wake up and actually feel like working out before anyone was thinking about dawn - time change also makes for interesting thoughts - my family has not really lived three more hours than me, they just are three hours ahead of me in living, think about it for a while, then go have a cold beer.

No transition to Room Service - except I wonder what we would do without that nice little commodity - everyone who travels knows the feeling of sitting behind the bar, eating an appetizer, and trying to look occupied, when all you are really doing is wondering if anyone else in the place is as miserable as you are as you enjoy your meal - alone. That's the beauty of room service - you are back at your hide away, comfortable in your boxer shorts and old Poison t-shirt watching Bill O'Reilly make an ass of himself on television (side note - is this guy really serious, I mean I am a fiscal conservative, but this guy really is a bobblehead of elephant crap). None the less, I think we all get tired of the four hour business dinners as well - there are only so many ways to prepare salmon, beef, mushrooms, vegetables, desserts - and there are only so many glasses of wine you can enjoy before you can't make it to the airport for your next flight....

In closing, just remember, you can't turn around - no matter what the surprise, or where you decided to have dinner yesterday, those things are gone - but you can look forward to the next glimpse of serendipity and having a warm meal with your family and friends. Until next time - G

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dead Trees and Quiet Places...

The importance of weekends and rest is paramount for the 92% traveller, and I am no exception to that rule. Granted, with two beautiful children that are engaged in just about every activity under the sun, weekends become a thrilling connect the dots game of baseball, gymnastics and all of those other rites of passage that may change regionally, but are the same minivan band of gypsies from sports field to birthday party across the country (I suspect across the world, but they probably use bikes or some other form of transportation - we are the worlds biggest gas hogs if you have not heard)

My weekends are typically filled with Dead Trees and Quiet Places - and both are welcome changes from the Neapolitan jumble of travel. This weekend was no different - two dead trees that scarred my front yard (and had the anal retentive Home Owners Association up in arms about the infractions that were creating an environment that kept my retired and elderly neighbors from being able to sip mint juleps on their front porches) had to be felled this week. They were old small scrub oaks, but even still it was disappointing to have to cut them down - it is sort of like finishing an assignment - the stump is still there, as is the relationship that was built before, but then you move on - and you put another tree in the ground. There is nothing simple about moving on, and this is once again, and eerie parallel to replacing dead trees - what do we put in the ground, where do put them, etc etc. I do know that the most important lesson that I can be pull from these dead trees is that at some point in time, you just have to make a decision to cut them down, and then just do it.

Quiet Places - I know people say "Fences make good neighbors" (I guess I should say people steal this quote from Mr. Frost) - but I think the best thing that makes the road warrior a better person is a quiet place - mine is the garage - in fact, I moved a coffee table, a couch, a love seat, a computer table and a box fan into the garage - and now it is my quiet place. It is not always easy to get back from a 120 mile an hour meeting and dive into the role of being a father, friend, neighbor, and lover - without having a haven or place to escape and gather your thoughts. The garage to me is wonderful - when I open the door - there is an 8' x 12' life like plasma screen television (the real world framed by a creaky old garage door frame) and I can sit on that couch, or love seat, and just watch the world outside - and then (this is the important part) make a conscious decision to immerse myself in it - or make the decision to sit a while longer, enjoy another cup of cheap coffee, and just be quiet. The 92% traveller is so far removed from their "real life" during the week, that this small connection to quiet is one that I find terribly necessary - new agers call it meditation - I call it quiet.

No more to write today, and I apologize for it not being as humorous as I thought it probably should be - but being compelled enough, dead trees and quiet places were an important thought to share.


Friday, October 19, 2007

The First Day of my Great American Blog!!!

It is amazing how many blogs start off with "Well today I did..." - that's not what I am going to start with - I am not going to complain, bitch, piss, or moan about the current state of affairs, and I am certainly not going to post naked pictures of myself to trade with all of my future blog fans -

Instead, I am going to tell you that I travel 92% of the time. The other 8%, I spend packing, unpacking, picking up dry cleaning, replacing travel size containers (as if a travel size explosive device or combination of devices each weighing 4 oz would not create a scare), and spending as much quality time with my family that the 48 hour weekends allow. (Baseball, Gymnastics, the occassional party, and everyonce in a while I allow my intelligence to be assaulted and my wallet raped at the movie theatre).

The past year, I have been to Boston, Lexington, Louisville, Cincinnatti, New York, Seattle, Atlanta, Orlando, the Bahamas - and all points in between - and in each of these great locales I have picked up important things that I will share with you - so when I drink a few too many beers, and decide to call my wife, coworkers, datelines, the operator or just start scrolling through the phonebook, I am going to share those special moments here with you -

To start - here is my current top ten items for the 92% Traveller -

1. Don't be afraid of the middle seat. Just be afraid of the two fat asses with seatbelt extenders that are on either side of you.

2. A roll of Charmin goes a long way - especially after you have lost all of your skin to the 40 grit sandpaper they stock in most Marriott's and Hiltons.

3. Atlanta is not a bad airport, Delta is not a bad airline - you are a bad passenger. Accept this, and go pay $18 for a burger and beer that you have to eat while standing.

4. What they say about most places is true - for instance - it is always rainy in Seattle, and they do like whiskey in Kentucky. What they don't tell you is the severity of the truth - be afraid - be very afraid.

5. Don't throw your only pair of black dress shoes out of the rental car at any speed - this creates a driving hazard, and an embarrassing situation when you wear your Brooks Brothers suit and Asics running shoes to work (unless of course you are a huge fan of Jane Fonda and "9 to 5").

6. Stay with friends as often as possible - you never know when they will intrude upon your privacy - so at least get one up on them.

7. Most good Sushi is not found in strip malls. Most good bait is found in strip malls.

8. Don't be afraid to call your family - they love to hear from you, and this way they know that you are neither dead nor spending all of your savings at the local race track.

9. I have found that you cannot get wrinkles out of your clothes by hanging them in the bathroom while you shower. You can however, get your lazy ass out of bed, unfold the ironing board, iron your shirt, and then hang it in the bathroom. Somehow, this prevents the wrinkles.

10. Finally, don't be cheap and not bring the family something home from your trips - all hotels have free toothbrushes and toothpaste at the front desk, and you should see the joy in my kids faces when I give them their bounty every Friday afternoon.

That's the best advice I can give right now. I am in somewhat of a good mood, and I am sure that as these blogs get more or less frequent, that you will get the opportunity to see both sides of my internal coin, but for now, take my advice and cherish it - wisdom is only as good as the folks that learn from it....

Until next time -