Saturday, June 30, 2007

Redeye Out of LAX

If you haven't flown a redeye flight in a while like me, let me recommend that you leave yourself plenty of extra time. And here's why. Every international flight is taking off about that time. Flights to China, Japan, the Philippines, Mexico, you name it.

Not only that, but the TSA in it's infinite wisdom manage to forget the weekend before the 4th of July to staff enough agents. So there was only one agent checking IDs. Two weeks prior, Northwest Airlines only had one agent working all the ticket counters, so I gave myself extra time for that, not knowing the sea of people I was about to meet at the bottom of the stairs before going up for the security check.

There was no one allowing First Class and Elite members through the "special" line, and after having a group of 18 Asians cut in front of me, I had it. So when the line finally opened for First Class, I got yelled at by the agent. I told her that no one was working that line. She checked my ID and ticket and allowed me to stand in that line.

Then we heard that the TSA only had two checkpoints open. Again, what were they thinking? So when an agent came up and told the TSA agent to allow NWA passengers up because our flight was close to boarding, she finally started letting people up, but that's when pandemonium broke loose. The lady let a rope down and now everyone was pushing their way forward.

Honestly, I don't mean this in any comical way, but I seriously can understand how people must have felt trying to get out of Saigon or towards lifeboats if a ship were sinking. I knew there were other flights if I missed this one, but the masses of people pushing on me was scary.

Finally I was allowed up, and at the top of the escalator, they asked if we were part of a group whose flight left before mine. I just said yes so that I could get through one of the security checkpoints.

As it turns out, I made it to my gate with 5 minutes to spare before they started boarding my flight. If I hadn't done what I did, I would have missed my flight. I even tolerated the two women behind me in First Class who talked and drank wine all night long.

And for my Dad, I told you that you are not supposed to joke around at airports anymore. See...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Life Is A Highway

My customer is only about 30 miles away from where my parents live, but it took about 1 1/2 hours to get there and back. To avoid road rage, I cranked up the XM radio with '80's tunes and rolled down the window to work on my farmer's tan.
But I learned a valuable lesson today: don't stick your arm out of the window too far on the 405 Freeway.

You see, motorcycles use that little space between cars where the dividing lines are for the lanes to ride their bikes. A motorcycle cop brushed my arm today, and it made me crap my pants (not literally).

No wonder people are missing side mirrors or they are duct-taped to their cars.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Evening with Andreas Deja

It took a lot of effort to focus on my customer's needs today, when I knew I would be heading down the street at lunch to pick up my personalized giclee by Andreas Deja.

Andreas was honored at the ASIFA-Hollywood is the Los Angeles chapter of The International Animated Film Society, and as part of the fund-raiser, autographed the giclee he created just for this event.

When I pre-ordered it, I asked if Andreas would write something in his native tongue, since I know a bit of German. They also asked which was my favorite character in that group, and I told them Scar.

Underneath Gaston, you can see the writing which translates loosely to "Scar is probably the worst of the worst. Greetings out of LA."

If you want to read more, this link will provide you with a well-written article.
And here's Andreas' sight, if you'd like to read it "auf Deutsche".
Vielen Dank, Andreas!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Saves China, But Now Down on Her Luck

As you can tell, I love taking pictures of signs for some reason. While driving in Tustin, I came across this one.

Poor dear. She saves China, gets immortalized in WDCC porcelain called 'slip' (my group of Disney collectibles friends would know that terminology), and then falls on hard times.

I couldn't even stomach going to in to see if they have Mushu on the menu.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lighten Up

This evening, my parents and I went to a nearby Korean BBQ restaurant for some tofu soup (we just love all the 'banchan', or side dishes, that accompany the piping hot food). I'm amazed at how you crack a raw egg into the boiling soup at your table and it cooks in front of your eyes. (It's the little things in life that amuse me)

Anyway, after our tasty meal, we were cooling off outside of the restaurant, when I spied a young lady wearing this shirt. My dad, who knows no shame and doesn't realize how loud he is, reads the shirt out loud.

Then he asks me what I think it might mean, and if he should tell the girl what he "thinks" it might mean. I'm 42 and my dad still finds ways to embarrass me. So to get him off the subject, I told them about a favorite website, and when we got home, we had a few family chuckles looking at

Drunks and Blabbermouths on the Plane

Why is it that I am so lucky to keep getting to sit next to drunks and/or people who just can't keep their mouths shut during a flight?

Don't get me wrong. I like to talk a lot as well, and my friends will certainly tell you that I will talk to just about anyone (or anything). But there are times when I'd like to have my quiet time.
But on more than one occasion, I'm either in a great part of a book, listening to my iPod, or actually watching a movie on my laptop, when the person next to me feels compelled to "getting into my Kool-Aid" (as the hip kids say these days) and to know what I'm watching, reading, or listening.

On one flight, I sat next to a drunk guy with poor eyesight, so I had to read his ticket for him and open his cheese from his snack tray. Yesterday, the drunk guy two seats over spilled his entire (third) beer, so I was lucky I didn't sit next or behind him. But as Karma works out, the flight attendant spilled coffee on my shorts. You can't win sometimes.

So here's my tip: if I'm holding a book, if I'm wearing my iPod, and I'm watching a movie, these would be non-verbal signs that I'm not in the mood to talking to you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

No One Told Me, eh?

So Sunday night I flew back to Canada for the second week of my four weeks up here working. I went to the same Customs official, who asked me what type of business I was doing, and this week was training week. He asked me for my work permit or bill of sale to allow me to be here.

Deer in the headlights look. I didn't and assumed that work had taken care of everything. Well, Scott, my buddy at Customs (yes, we're on a first-name basis now), informed me that the Canadian visa office (the nice phrase for Immigration) requires a work permit or a Social Insurance Number (SIN, no kidding) to work in Canada.

He told me that I would have to have a form filled out by my customer or I'd need to go to HRSDC to get it sorted out. Because I mentioned training, they want proof that a Canadian job isn't going to someone who isn't a citizen. I can't blame them and they were very nice about it, but after being detained for over an hour and a half, I think they wanted to go home as well.

Because I'm a consultant, they let me go on the provision that I could provide proof that training was part of the original sale. So after I left Customs, I walked over to pick up my rental car, only to find the person working at National had left. My hotel is over 45 minutes away from the airport.

After making some calls, someone finally came to rent me a car (I had to convince him to come down because I was refusing to pay for a 45-minute cab ride). So after an over two and half hour delay, I finally made it to my hotel after midnight.

I sure hope my next two trips here go more smoothly. And I hope Scott remembers me in case I pass through his window again.

Friday, June 15, 2007

California Dreamin'

Good idea: Driving with the top down in sunny California.

Bad idea: Driving with the top down in sunny California without a hat and with thinning hair.

Time on the beach: priceless.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Finding...the End of the Line?

Well, it turns out that the line for Finding Nemo couldn't be seen. It was a 2 1/2 hour wait, so I guess it will have to wait until next time.

Hopefully in two weeks when I go back to California, I'll be able to check out Nemo. In the meantime, Dory will remind me that I will have forgotten that I wasn't able to ride the new ride.

There are benefits to being so forgetful.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Crap. It's The Law.

I had a nice time in California, driving down to San Diego and coming back up again. But there were two signs that caught my eye while on vacation.

The first one was at the Marriott Hotel in San Diego.

I don't know about you, but there's something disturbing to be reading that sign while you're sitting down in a room where you'd prefer not to have the door shut, especially after having dinner at that Mexican restaurant in Old Town.

The second sign that made me laugh was at the Irvine Spectrum.

I really enjoyed standing next to the sign and looking up. That made people walking by look up. Gullible people.

Oh wait. I would have done the same.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

CA Bound

It's back to CA again, but this time it's for vacation.

I hope to catch up seeing some of the newer attractions at Disneyland, but I also look forward to spending time with my folks and seeing other sites.

I'd like to Find Nemo, but it will depend on the crowds. But after yesterday's turbulent trips, I have to hope that tonight's flight will be a piece of cake.

Fortunately, my memory's like Dory's, so I've already forgotten what happened yesterday.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Seven Wonders of Canada

I was really impressed to watch The National to watch the process (pronouced pro-sess up here) on what was going to be voted on and then finalzed for the Seven Wonders of Canada. Mark Kelley did a great job relaying the story, while all over the country, Canadians voted for their national landmarks.

They picked places and things that represeted the 10 Provinces and 2 Territories, and you can see that the judges struggled to choose seven things to represent this vast and beautiful country.

To see more about the Seven Wonders of Canada, check out this link:

Brakes! Brakes! Where Are The Brakes?!?

I have flown a fair bit in my 42 years here on earth, but nothing has come close to Star Tours as yesterday's flight from Canada back to the States. Any bit of turbulence I've experienced in the past pales by comparison of that flight. I knew something was up when they moved us all to the back of the plane so that we could take off. It was one of those puddle jumpers with prop engines.
For 50 minutes we bumped, rocked, rolled and pitched all over the place. By the time we landed on Terra Firma, I just about kissed it. I didn't even mind the more-than-usually rude and lazy Customs and TSA people. Yep. I'm back in the good ol' US of A, but at least in one piece.

Then I found out there must have been a bad storm on the East Coast. Many flights were delayed, and mine got moved around a few times. In fact, they boarded us, and then announced they couldn't find the co-pilot (Was his name Rex?) Turns out, he was stuck in Charlotte. And because I caught an earlier flight, but my luggage didn't, so I had to wait at the airport 20 minutes for my original flight to arrive to get my bags.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

It's Not Kelly or Clay For Sure

The other night while working in my hotel room, I had the TV on for some background noise. And boy do I mean noise.

It's the 5th season of Canadian Idol up here, and I sure hope they find some people worth making the season, or they will only have a few episodes. I seriously doubt we'll hear any of them making it across the boarder. The most entertaining part of the evening for me were the judges. It was like some parallel universe gone wrong, with Randy, Paula and Simon alter egos.

And then they had three Ryan Seacrests. What's that all about? (pronounced a-boot) I'm more excited about hearing what the Canadian Seven Natual Wonders are that will be announced tonight.

But in case you want to check out their Idol, here's the link:

Seacrestses Out! (That's too much of a mouthful)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Take Off You Hoser, Eh?

Since I'm going to be in Canada for four weeks on business, I thought I'd mention some things I've discovered about this great country to our North, since the last time I'd been to Canada was in 1991.

Many of the things I'm finding here remind me of when I live in England, but there still are some difference in our language that I find amusing.

General Canadian Observations:

People end sentences with "eh," eh?
eh? is used to confirm the attention or continued of the listener and to invite a supportive noise. It’s like saying, “ya think?” or “you know?”

Read the Label
Everything is labeled in English and French, is it not? N'est pas?

Hockey, Hockey and more Hockey
There's hockey stuff and talk everywhere. I bet if someone walked around wearing goalie pads, a helmet and just about everything but the skates, almost nobody would give them a second look.

The homeless guy who comes out around 4:00 PM every day near my customer’s office and stands in the same spot with the sign hanging around his neck is a whole different story. Side note: while I was here in Ontario, the "Sens" (Senators) were playing against the Ducks in Anaheim for the Stanley Cup.

“The States”
Canadians hate referring to the USA as "America," because Canadians are just as much North Americans as Americans are. This did make me say, “Duh?!?”, eh?

The restroom or bathroom. Makes more sense to call it washroom, eh?

On Food and Beverages:

Brown Bread
This means whole wheat bread. At breakfast, they asked me if I wanted brown bread instead whole wheat toast. I guess "brown toast" is a lot more Canadian, eh?

Donut holes from a place called Tim Horton’s. He was a famous Canadian Hockey player who founded the chain. They are pretty darn good, because you get a variety of flavours (Canadians spell the European way as well).

Double Double
Said when ordering a coffee, meaning two creams and two sugars. Most likely heard at a Timmie's, eh?

Beer Store
Where you buy beer in Ontario.

Bloody Caesar
Just like a Bloody Mary, except it's made with Clamato juice instead of plain tomato juice. I saw that at the Walmart, and my customers talked about it, eh?

On Money:

There are $1 and $2 coins.
The paper currency is in different colors, and it's pretty, too, not like our US money. Loonie The Canadian $1 coin has a loon (the bird) on the back. The don’t have the paper $1 anymore. Toonie The $2 coin. This replaced the paper version as well. Gold in the middle, with a silver ring around the outside. The Queen is on one side, and a polar bear is on the other. No comment, eh?

The Goods and Services Tax we all hear about. It’s the 7% tax that goes on top of just about every purchase (in addition to the provincial sales taxes). They also called it the "Grab and Steal Tax" or the "Gouge and Screw Tax”.

On Travel and Distance:

Everything is measured in metric.
No, Tim. The temperature does not drop fifty degrees when you cross the border, and the speed limit doesn't double. But geez did I struggle to find the speed limit sign and I finally found it: 100 KM. I'm getting my hair cut tonight after work, so I have to make sure I am clear about "a little off the top" since I don't have much to spare.

Kilometer, or kilometer per hour. Used in the sentence, "Better slow down there, Liam, the limit's 90 klicks here." People give distances in times, not miles. Central Canada Refers to southern Ontario, actually 1300 miles east of the “centre” of Canada. (But in their minds...)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Flying to Kitchener, Ontario

I'm going to be spending some time in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada on business. Flying out of Detroit was a bit of a challenge Sunday night due to some bad thunderstorms.

After a few delays, we were finally allowed to fly out. Traveling on those regional jets is kind of like riding Star Tours, but at least you know they have control of the attraction. After 45 minutes of turbulence, and going through Customs in Canada, I went to pick up my luggage, only to find that they must have left it out in the rain in Detroit. The outside was sopping wet.

Fortunate for me, I place my pants in a plastic bag and use a lot of Ziplocks. So most of my clothes were only a bit damp instead of being soaked all the way through. My neurotic way of packing finally pays off!