Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Random Thoughts and Observations from 10,000 Feet

After reading the first 50 pages of Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, I decided now was a great time to take full advantage of some free time to craft a lengthier entry…not that size matters or anything.

I started to call this Random Ramblings, but decided it sounded too much like Bill Simmons’ “Ramblings” columns over at ESPN.com’s Page 2. I don’t do these types of entries very often, but I need to come up with a catchy title for when I do.

Please post your suggestions in the Comments section.

First things first, happy anniversary to K. Fifteen years ago today we had our very first date. I was a freshman at KU and had just turned 19. She was a junior and getting ready to turn 21. I decided I wanted to make dinner for her that night. It was nothing fancy…just hamburgers grilled outside. Only problem was I had to make three trips to Kwik Shop to get things we didn’t have…while she was there. It’s a miracle she continued to go out with me after that. Anyway…happy anniversary, Baby.

One of the hazards of being in sales for a living is that you have to travel quite a bit. If you’re single or married with no kids, this might not be a big deal. But, when you’ve got four kids at home, frequent trips can create understandable frustration for a spouse who is forced to become a single parent for days at a time. The worst part, though, is the incredible guilt trips that the little Play By Players (heretofore known as PBPers) start laying on me the moment they find out I have an upcoming trip. I’ve finally resigned myself to telling them later and later so that a) I don’t have to hear the guilt trips for as long and b) they don’t worry about it as much. Occasionally, I’ll break down and offer bribes in the form of presents from my destination city if they are on their best behavior while I’m gone. This trip has been one of those trips. Unfortunately, I just can’t afford to get them all something every time that I go out of town. This month, for instance, I was out this week, will be leaving again on Sunday for four days, and it now seems that I may be going somewhere for at least a couple of days each of the next two weeks. Based on today’s gift expenditures totaling nearly $100, you can see how that’s just not practical. They don’t always have to be expensive gifts, but when you’re in the land of the Mouse, it’s tough to get anything on the cheap. Any tips from other bloggers out there on cheap or free gifts to bring back for kiddos ranging from age 5-8 (and a 5-month-old if you can think of anything appropriate for her).

Staying on the business travel topic…for those of you that have a spouse who travels for business on a regular basis, I want to let you in on a little secret….it’s not the big vacation for us that you might think it is. This week I was at a “resort hotel” in Orlando for a conference. In this case, I was at the conference from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 or 7 in the evening. The first night we went to a Thai place in a strip mall for dinner and came straight back to the hotel for the rest of the night where we catch up on e-mails and phone calls that we’d missed over the course of the day. Yesterday, I didn’t even leave the hotel property and ate in the average hotel restaurant. Today, I did finally get to go out and find souvenirs for the kids and ate lunch at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant. Those are all the things I got to do this week. What didn’t I get to do? Eat meals with my kids. Wake up next to my wife. Kiss my kids good night and put them to bed. See my kids at all. Believe me, if I could make the income I want to make in sales without traveling to conferences and visiting clients, I would do it in a heartbeat.

(OK…I’m realizing that I’m sounds like a pissed off person and that’s really not the case…it was really meant as more of a public service announcement to try to help people realize that business travel isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. (I forgot to mention the 45-minute+ wait in security lines.) Anyway…we know it’s hard on our spouses when we’re gone, but try to remember that we’d much rather be at home with you than spending our nights alone in a hotel room.)

I just saw an article on the front page of MSNBC.com last night that my hometown of Topeka, KS, voted against the repeal of a law that banned discrimination against gays for city jobs. The problem, though? The last I saw (with returns still coming in) that the repeal was rejected by a vote of 51%-49%. That means 49% of the people (or at least the voting people) in Topeka are complete fucking idiots. My god this pisses me off to no end. Now, I’m not all that familiar with how the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) operates, but given the fact that Topeka is also home to Fred Phelps (a notorious anti-gay activist), I would LOVE for GLAAD to start having its annual meeting or convention or whatever they have in Topeka every year until a vote like this starts yielding 80/20 or better results. I realize that Kansas is as about as “red” as a state can be, but I sure hope that the collective people of the state will pull their heads out of their asses and start realizing that a person’s sexual orientation has absolutely ZERO bearing on whether or not he/she is a good person and a productive member of society. It’s like saying that people whose favorite color is orange are going to corrupt our kids. I mean, really, is your gay neighbor across the street anymore of a threat to the morality of your children than the Victoria’s Secret commercials on TV? (I’m starting to think I’ve made that comparison before.) I can only hope that in 30 years, we will look back at this time and realize that the anti-gay sentiment in this country is no better than the racist views held back in the ‘60s. (I realize the racists were much more vocal and physical in their demonstrations of hatred and intolerance, but I hope you understand my general comparison here.)

(Stepping down from the soapbox on that topic.)

Did you know that the iPod Shuffle only works if you remember to plug it in and re-charge it every other day or two?

Staying on that topic for a moment, I now take that thing with me whenever I’m going out to run errands and I’ve already been stopped and asked about it about a half a dozen times. Steve Jobs and the folks over at Apple sure seem to know what they’re doing.

When it comes to the crust on things like cheesecake and key lime pie, what do you prefer – graham cracker or some kind of nut mixture? Not to unfairly bias your response, but I’m firmly on the graham cracker crust side of the equation.

(Just looked back at the parenthetical comment above…have any of you ever actually seen a real soapbox?)

Speeding tickets suck. Oh…you mean you knew that? My bad.

What’s your favorite board game/party game to play?

Watched the Oscars the other night and thought Chris Rock did pretty well considering he was on network television. I missed Sean Penn’s comments, but have heard enough about it to say that he needs to lighten up a little. Sheesh. Does anyone know why E! wasn’t doing it’s typical Red Carpet show before the awards? That can be more entertaining than the actual ceremony sometimes. I can’t really comment on who should’ve won vs. who did win. I don’t think I’ve seen any of the Best Picture nominees, though I would like to see all of them at some point. (I did do a great job at predicting the major category winners in the Oscar Pool I was in, but failed pretty miserably in the other categories. I finished pretty much in the middle of the pack.)

(Holy crap! I’m on my third page in this Word document typing up this entry. You guys must be incredibly bored or kind to still be reading this far. Sadly, I don’t think I’m quite ready to wrap this up yet.)

This conference that I was at this week focused a lot on voluntary benefits available in the workplace such as insurance for long term care, cancer, critical illness, pets, legal services, identity theft, life insurance, short-term disability…stuff like that. I know that I, personally, don’t have any of that coverage except for some additional life insurance. What about you? Does your employer even offer that stuff to you?

I don’t think my friend the Air Force pilot reads this, but I want to apologize if my entry title is completely wrong. I really have no idea how high we are when flying. (High as in altitude, not like Harold and Kumar.) I’m thinking since they call it the Mile High Club, then maybe it’s closer to 6,000 feet. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I disappointed myself by not even going to workout once while on this trip. Damn, I piss myself off when I miss an opportunity like that. On the plus side, I didn’t eat near as much as I do when I’m at home and have a fridge and pantry available at my disposal. Sadly, I already know I probably won’t workout much while at DC since several of my former co-workers will be at that conference and we’ll probably get together a fair amount.

I spent about $150 on cabs this week…I’m thinking the rental car might have been a better idea.

I find myself strangely unable to change the channel away from Newlyweds and The Ashlee Simpson show. Will someone please just shoot me now? (I have been amused by how many times MTV has to blur out Ashlee’s ass crack.)

I still have three free iTunes songs to download…please post your recommendations in the comments.

And, with that, I think I will bring this ginormous entry to a close now that I’ve crossed into that previously uncharted “fourth-page” territory.

Until Next Time…

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