Airplane etiquette

April 28, 2008

I was on a plane back from Halifax the other night, and an event occurred which got me thinking about proper airplane etiquette.

The horrible fog approachesTo put it delicately, somebody in my vicinity tooted.  Lethally.  I’m sorry, I know the subject matter is a little crude, but it’s precisely what happened.

I had been sitting there, quietly reading Wired, gently breathing in and out, and on one of my inhales I got the distinct sense that something wasn’t quite right.  That sense rapidly developed to alarm as wave after noxious wave washed over me.  I was gasping for breath, clawing at the windows, wondering what in the great green earth this person had consumed to produce such a horrid stench.

The stewardess was at this moment moving down the aisle with the drink cart, and the funny thing is, even though it wasn’t my doing, I was desperately hoping that the fumes would dissipate before she arrived.  I did not want to be implicated as a culprit.  Implied guilt overrides actual innocence.

I know I wasn’t the only one who sensed the miasma in the air.  Nobody with anything approaching a sense of smell could have missed it.  If there had been a bloodhound in the midst of that fog, I suspect they would have turned inside out and croaked on the spot.  And yet nobody said a word, nobody even looked around, everyone just stayed studiously concentrated on whatever they were working on.  I didn’t even pull my sweater up over my nose, though I so desperately wanted to, for fear of drawing attention to myself.  Everyone would have assumed it was me, and the only person who would know otherwise would be the one who actually committed the heinous act.

So I got to wondering: is that the proper thing to do in such a situation?  Just pretend nothing happened and ride it out?  I guess at that point there’s not much that can be done to reverse it, but part of me wonders if maybe it was intentional, and there’s somebody out there flying the friendly skies and blasting really nasty gas and getting a great big chuckle out of it.

I’m too reserved to say anything in that kind of situation, though perhaps I should have.  I’d bet that experience knocked a full 2 years off my life.

Image by hoyasmeg.


Why does the gym have to open so early on Sundays?

April 28, 2008

We went to the gym again this weekend.  I think that makes twice that we’ve been in April, so for anyone out there who was looking for a role model or motivational buddy — I’m not it.

AerobicsBut I have to ask why the exercise classes are all in the morning.  On a weekend.  Honestly, wouldn’t turnout be better if you had it at, say, 4 PM on a Sunday?  It gives people a chance to snooze a little, laze about the house, and then maybe bolster up the courage to head to a gym where they can gather in a small darkened room and leap about swinging big weighted sticks at each other.

I am, not surprisingly, in great pain today, and I blame at least half of that on the fact that these classes are at a simply unholy hour on a weekend morning.  I blame the other half on the fact that they had one light on in the whole room during this particular class, so I was straining to see my hand in front of my face, let alone the ass of the person in front of me that I was trying to avoid parking my foot in during one of the particularly active leg exercises.

I have to believe that, in a few hundred years, achaeologists or anthorpologists or anybody who actually gives a rat’s ass about what we happened to do in our spare time in this day and age will look at this particular ritual in much the same way we currently regard the worship of cats.  Fascinating, but hard to fathom in one’s daily life.

Image by kk+

Gratitude – 04/28/2008

April 28, 2008

Today, I am grateful for:

1. Birthdays.  It was my birthday this weekend, and though I’m at the stage in life now where I don’t relish adding another year to my history, birthdays are a chance to indulge yourself and be mildly famous for a day.

2. Blogs.  Not just because I enjoy the chance to write, but because my has set me up with my own domain and theme for my blog.  This means I can finally add Google Analytics, which I’ve been eyeing enviously pretty much since I started posting.

3. The PSP.  To reaffirm my status as a huge nerd, I have picked up a PSP.  Given the amount of travel I’m doing, and how very boring planes and airports can be, I’m looking forward to having some movies and games to take along with me to pass the time. 

Gratitude – 04/23/2008

April 23, 2008

Today, I am grateful for:

1. Persepolis.  My wife bought me this as a surprise — and also because she had just racked up a fairly significant bill on Amazon, and figured she should get me something in the mix.  I’ve just started it, but it’s a great read and a very different experience than what you’d expect from a graphic novel.

2. Early summer mornings.  This one is a little bit complicated: you see, I really hate early summer mornings when the alarm first goes off.  But once I’m up and about, and have had time to get showered, have breakfast, drive my wife to the subway, make coffee, and send some emails, and then look out the window as the sun slowly shortens its shadows and begins its climb, I begin to appreciate the benefits of an early morning.  It makes me feel, just a little bit, like I’m at a cottage.

Of course, by the time I wrap up my last conference call this evening, I will probably be a little less excited about early mornings, but that’s a conversation for another time.

3. Twitter.  I’ve just started messing about with this, and must confess that I don’t fully understand the attraction yet, but I want to give it some time and figure out if it starts shifting the way I communicate.  In many ways, it does seem the logical progression or expansion of electronic communications.  First we had email.  Then we added instant messaging and shifted the weight of our communication to that.  Then we added text messages.  Now comes Twitter.  We’ll see how this plays out in my personal sphere of existence.

Gratitude – 04/22/2008

April 22, 2008

Today, I am grateful for these things:

1. Spring.  Last night we slept with the windows open, allowing the cool night air to drift throughout the house and purge the vague mustiness of a winter’s hibernation.  Granted, when I woke up this morning the house was bloody freezing, but at least I can say we slept with the windows open.

2. That Manhattan remains, to my knowledge, zombie-free.  We watched “I Am Legend” on the weekend.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, but have also spent the last few night leaving plenty of lights on about the house.

3. Granola bars.  Quick, easy, moderately healthy — or, at least, less unhealthy than deep-fried Mars bars.

Gratitude – 04/15/2008

April 16, 2008

Today, I am grateful for:

1. Orange juice.  Sweet, nourishing, guilt-free nectar.  This stuff is a godsend on plane rides.

2. The PS3 firmware update.  Better audio support, and a brand-spanking-new store format.  Granted, I’m actually on a plane typing this, so I haven’t had the chance to use it myself, but the word on the street is that it’s worth the while.

3. Successful business trips.  I had a customer meeting today that went, in my opinion, pretty well.  I’m quite sure that when I log in tomorrow a plethora of issues will arise, but in the meantime I’m riding the high of moderate success.

On pizza and taxicabs

April 16, 2008

There are two things that Jersey City just doesn’t seem to have figured out yet.  One is how to make a good pizza.  The other is how to drive a cab.

Let’s start with pizza.  We’ve been here about six months, and while we don’t eat pizza incessantly, we do order it a few times a month.  And we have had abysmal luck at finding good pizza parlors.

This was particularly surprising to us, given that you can scamper a half-mile across the Hudson to Manhattan, where there is no shortage of really, really good pizza.  I would have thought that some of that might have been smuggled over to the Jersey side, intentionally or otherwise.  I would have thought wrong. 

We’ve tried a number of places: some recommended; some located online; some pulled at random from a phonebook in a moment of desperation.  Of all places, it turns out Pizza Hut is the only place we’ve found that serves up a palatable dish.  No offense to Pizza Hut, but if that’s the best pizza in a neighborhood, then the neighborhood has some ‘splainin to do.

2111012249_38496a6292_m We have also had pretty bad luck with cabs.  Again, unlike Manhattan, cabs are not plentiful throughout all areas of the city.  In certain places, at certain times, you can hail one if needed, but generally you’re going to have to call ahead if you actually expect a car to be anywhere within a hundred blocks of your position.

Given that I travel to and from the airport on a fairly regular basis, I’ve been experimenting with different cab services.  Not because it amuses me; because I keep having such crappy experiences with each place that I vow never to use that company again.

Why not just use the taxis that are waiting at the airport, you ask?  Three reasons: they’re stupidly expensive; the experience of being lined up and herded into them at the airport makes me envy cattle at a stockyard; and the safety standards in the cars themselves are suspect, at best.

So I keep trying the different companies around the area.

A few weeks ago, on our way back from one trip, my wife and I called for a car as soon as we got off the plane.  We went and picked up our bags at baggage claim, then went outside to wait for the car we’d called.

That was our first mistake.  Evidently someone ahead of us had elected not to bother waiting, and had just hopped in our cab and taken off.  We found this out when we called the taxi company to inquire as to where in the dangling hell our cab was, and were told that the driver had already left, and they were going to have to send someone else.

Could you please have the driver make sure that they’re actually picking up the right person this time, I asked?

I’ll call your cell when the car arrives, responded the dispatch.

I was not reassured.

So we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

As chance would have it, a car from another company was waiting there.  He’d been there almost as long as we had, and was coming to the realization that whoever had booked his cab had long since taken off.  After a quick discussion we realized that we were in a position to help each other: we needed a cab, and he needed passengers.  Done and done.

About halfway home, my phone rang.  The cab we’d ordered in the first (or second) place was finally pulling up to the airport.  I let the phone ring, pulled out my little black book, and added yet another cab company to the ever grown list of places I will never call again.

Image by Phillie Casablanca.