To the 7th Layer of Hell and Back

I am going to stop for a second, breathe, and compose my thoughts. I am going to attempt to convey the true feelings of my last two days. If it wasn’t close to Hell, I don’t want any part of Hell because this was agonizing.

It all started on Thursday, December 17th. That was when I first learned of the snowstorm that would paralyze the entire Eastern Seaboard on the 19th. This had me concerned because my flight was on the 19th. I rebooked for Sunday and thought to myself “no problem”. Boy, I could not have been more wrong.

I had scheduled a Super Shuttle van pool to pick me up at 12:24 for my flight that left Dulles at 3:02. I got a call from Super Shuttle at around 12:15. “Mr. Thurman, I regret to inform you that our driver is stuck and will not be able to make the scheduled pick up”. Well, that sucks. I called Red Top Cab and it was busy. I finally got through to them and arranged to have a taxi pick me up. The trip to Dulles Airport (including tip) was $70.00. Less than 5 minutes after I just spent $70.00 for the cab ride to Dulles, I was informed that my flight from JFK to PDX was canceled. ARRGH! “What can you do” “Everything is completely booked until Thursday.” “So I’ll get in at 11:00 on Thursday night?” “Yes.”But I leave on Saturday night? Do you realize I’ll get there Thursday night and leave Saturday night?” “That’s the only thing available. Do you want me to book me on this flight?” “I guess.”

At this point I was fuming. I called my friend to see if there were any flights on the 20th from Dulles to Portland. He found a United flight that was a non-stop and got in at roughly the same time. I asked the jetBlue ticket agent if he could get me on that flight. “We don’t have a relationship with United” “Do you have relationships with any other airline?” “No”. So I told my friend to go ahead and book me the flight on United and I would deal with jetBlue the next day. So I got in line at the United ticket counter to check-in. My friend checked me in online, but I did not have a boarding pass and I needed to check a bag. Unfortunately, the line had about 800 people in it (no exaggeration). The line just about extended to the other side of the airport. So I waited. For about an hour and a half. I got through about half the line. Then, a miracle happened. A United worker randomly asked me where I was going and I told her as well as the fact that I was already checked in. She directed me to a much shorter line. I got my boarding pass and checked my bag.

At this point, it was 4 o’clock and my flight was supposed to leave at 8:42 (it was delayed). So, I went to my gate and took advantage of the free Internet. Then at about 6:30, the unthinkable happened. I got a call from United. My flight was canceled. Two flights from two different airlines were canceled. United had nothing available. Nothing. So I devised a plan. To take that jetBlue flight on the 24th and change the flight on the 26th to the 30th and switch my vacation days. The only problem was that my bag was still on the United flight. I talked to a gate agent at United and he called down and told them to release my bag and told me to get it at Baggage Claim Carousel 3. Great, I thought. Not the best case scenario, but it will work out. I waited and waited for my bag. After about an hour, or so, my friend called and informed me that there was a seat open on jetBlue tomorrow (today) that went from Dulles to Long Beach and Long Beach to Dulles. I went to the jetBlue counter and was able to book that flight. Now, my bag really needed to come soon. It was 8:30 at this point. I got to the airport at 1:30. I talked to a United employee at baggage claim and he told me that it probably would not get off the plane and it would be sent to Portland. OK. I needed to get home. I called a friend, and he graciously agreed to pick me up.

I got home around 10:30. I went to the Super Shuttle Web site to arrange a pick-up for today. they Web site said that they could not fulfill reservations. So, I went to the Red Top Cab site and made a reservation with them. About 2 hours later I got a call that said that they would not be able to fulfill that reservation. they told me I needed to call back tomorrow morning and They would get me a cab as soon as possible. I called them about 5:15 and told them I needed a cab ASAP. the cab came just after 6:30. Luckily, my flight was delayed, so I had plenty of time to catch my plane. Two trips to Dulles: $130.00. So here I am now in Long Beach. Hour 3 of a 5 hour layover. Flight is delayed by 30 minutes, but I should get there tonight (fingers crossed).


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Snowpacalypse and Other Assorted Thoughts

I am sitting here in Arlington, VA on December 19th. I should be at Dulles International Airport right now with an hour left to go before my flight. However, the weather did not cooperate.

My flight to New York was canceled, and since there is only one flight from NY to Portland, Oregon I was forced to change my flight to tomorrow. Luckily, I was able to do that over the phone yesterday, so  I did not have to deal with the insanity that I am sure is the airport today. It sucks because tomorrow is my mom’s birthday, and I will not get into Portland until 11:00 PM. It also sucks becaues I had it worked out with a friend to give me a ride to Dulles (it’s about 35 miles), but he has other commitments tomorrow so I have to take the Super Shuttle. Oh well. There should not be any problems tomorrow.

It is Christmas time so you know what that means – parties. At work there were plenty of parties. On Tuesday we had our media Christmas party. That is where those of us in the media department schmooze with media and make as many contacts as we can. It was a fun time. After I left that party, I cabbed home and got right in my car to drive over to a restaurant in Alexandria for another friend’s birthday party. Another good time. On Wednesday it was time for the all-staff Christmas party. That was a great time. It is always fun to see coworkers in a setting other than work. Over the past year I have gotten to know a lot of people at work, so there was never a shortage of people to talk to so I stayed until the party ended and hen went to the bar across the street with a bunch of friends. Yesterday, we had a small department party (our department is will be very different next year with several employees, including me, changing departments). It was a fun farewell to my former department, and we got a few Christmas gifts. A colleague, and friend, of mine had his last day at Heritage so we went back to the bar for some farewell drinks with my new boss and team (as of 1/4).

2009 proved to be a great year. Expanded my role at work, had some really big projects, and met a lot of new people. I was able to travel a lot too. I went to NY several times (I don’t really know how many times. Maybe 4 or 5), went to Pittsburgh for the first time and I got to go to home to CA 3 times. Tomorrow I will make it to Oregon and Washington state. A lot of airplane flights, a lot of delays, and a lot of time at the airport. I accomplished my goal of adding 1000 songs to my iPod. I actually added 1,100 with a week and a few days left to add more. I am currently sitting at just over 4100 songs. I still have 53 MB to fill, but I have surpassed 20 MB of music, so that’s good. I made it to 3 concerts (two in DC and one in LA). I didn’t go to a lot of concerts because there is only one person I like seeing in concert and he only came to DC once. I went to a lot of baseball games. I think I got to 5 or 6 games at Nationals Stadium and 3 at Camden Yards in Baltimore. I also made it to a Capitals game and a LA Kings game.

2010 should be another great year. I will have a new role at work, a new boss, and a new job title. Everyone is excited about the change at work and so am I. I will have a bigger responsibility with e-mail products as well as the day to day updating of the Web site. On top of that I will be able to do more bloggin which is great because, although, it may not look like it on this site, but I love to blog. We will see what the future holds, but I am hopeful that it will be good.

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My Trip to California

Sorry it has been so long since my last update, but  I got some new records (more on that later), so hopefully, I will get better.

I have been in California for just over a week now. It is a welcome change. I came here in February and April, but those were really short trips and I felt that I had to cram everything in. This is the first trip where I have been able to spend a good amount of time in my former hometown since I moved to the Nation’s Capitol a year a and a half ago. I originally started making plans to go out to California because a friend of mine is getting married on Dec. 6th, so I thought I would come out for that. The more I thought about it, the less appealing a cross country weekend jaunt was, so  I decided to use more vacation days and stretch it out to Thanksgiving. I got to LA (Burbank) on Wednesday after a trecherous flight schedule that included layovers in Chicago and Denver. It was long, but I made it.

First on tap was Thanksgiving. I was able to go to my friend’s mom’s house. It was great getting to see her because I have not been able to see her since I left and it was great seeing other friends that had come too. Of course, the day after Thanksgiving was Black Friday and I had some shopping to do. I bought a Toshiba Netbook, a 6-piece luggage set ($34) and a 25 pack of DVD-R for good measure. Wasn’t the best Black Friday, but it was good enough. I was able to see other friends on Friday and got to go to a LA Kings game on Saturday. A great time was had by all. Sunday was time for church and it was great seeing old friends there too. I was really looking forward to Tuesday (Dec. 1st) because I was having lunch was some very good friends at my former employer and I always have a great time there (as well as a lot of cookies). I should point out that on Saturday I made it to Philippes, Sunday, I made it to In-N-Out and yesterday (Wednesday), I made it to Tommy’s.

I received a Facebook message from another good friend seeing if I wanted to come with him to his softball game. I have nevver been able to say no to softball and this was no exception. He still plays for the same team I used to play for and it was GREAT seeing some real softball for a change. I knew a few of the old faces so I had a great time reconnecting with them too. It wasn’t all fun, though, as a gentleman playing for the other team broke his ankle and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. I don’t know how bad it was. At the end of the night night J&B Painting (my team) was victorious and the pitcher pitched a great game. Before the game I was able to hang out with my old roommate and we went to Amoeba Music in Hollywood (my favorite record store) and I bought four vinyl records and one CD.

All that is left to do on this trip is go to the wedding itself, and that is this weekend. I leave for Palm Springs on Friday and I leave back for Washington DC on Sunday. I am grateful for a direct flight back to DC. It is back to work on Monday, back to temperatures in the 40s and back to my normal life on the other side of the country, but this has been a great trip.

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I Hate Google

Working for their competitor for a few years, it was ingrained in me to hate them. However, after having to deal with them for my current job, my hatred has spread even deeper. Dealing with them is an exercise in futility. It’s beyond frustrating, actually. They have no infrastructure for dealing with problems of users. That is not how you run a business. The motto of Google is also absurd – “Don’t Be Evil.” It seems to imply that every corporation in this country is evil, except them.

Let’s focus on their glaring problem – the complete and total lack of customer service. It is reprehensible. A typical e-mail to Google needed help just refers you to the unbelievably generic Google Help section of their Web site. It is already obsolete before it even goes into production because it is impossible to anticipate every problem, ESPECIALLY when dealing with the Internet. The topics are so broad, that without actually talking to someone to find out what the problem is, it is pointless. I’ve never seen a helpful article on Google.

Google is OK when it comes to free products, but heaven help you if you want to give them money for anything (because Google sure won’t). With as difficult as they make their entire process, it would seem that they do not want your money at all, which I find odd because their only source of revenue is Google Adwords. Unfortunately, you need to spend a lot of money with Google for them to even start caring about you. So much for “don’t be evil.” Case in point, I was handling an account, and I needed to change the credit card that the money would be charged to. Seems like it would be easy, but it was no easy task. After 45 minutes of searching, I had to call our account rep to ask him to change it. What if we didn’t have an account rep?

Let me also mention Google Talk. I have been an avid user of IM products since 1993 when Instant Messenger was only available within the America Online Portal. I have used all of them from Yahoo! to MSN to AIM to multiple platform services like Pigin and Trillin (IM platforms that allow you to access all your accounts in one program), and without a doubt, Google is BY FAR the worst. It is much worse than AIM 7.0 that ended a 10 year relationship with AIM and myself. It is a complete disgrace of an IM program. It will be a cold day in hell before I ever get GMail.

Also, I hate Apple.

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Hmmm. What to Write?

I got nothing.

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Summer is Here. No One Told the Weather Though

Those that no me in DC are probably tired of me constantly complaining about the weather. I can’t help it though. Coming from Southern California I expect certain things from summer. I expect it to be clear skies and sunny. That’s easy right? Well, apparently in DC, it’s next to impossible. Nearly everyday It is raining, or there is the threat of rain overhead. When it gets cloudy, it gets humid. When it rains when it is humid, it because a sauna outside. It is not comfortable at all, especially when you are doing strenuous things like play softball.

I am looknig out my window right now and if I didn’t no any better I would think it was winter outside with the dark clouds covering the entire sky and the wet ground. The illusion of winter quickly vanishes though as soon as you step outside. The hot air is so thick, you could cut it with a knife. It causes your close to stick to you and it stays a nasty temperature 24 hours a day. Nothing about it is enjoyable. how people can like it is completely foreign to me. If you do like it, that means you have never experienced a dry heat. It makes a world of difference.

Sure, it gets over 100 degrees in the summer in CA, but that is only during the day. Around 3 or 4 it starts to cool off, and it gets down to about 80 degrees with a cool breeze. Summer nights in CA are perfect for going out, playing sports, or campfires. Summer nights in DC are atrocious. No relief for the constant heat of the humidity. The AC stays on all night. As soon as the AC gets to the temperature I set it to, it shuts off…for about 30 seconds before it has to start again. In CA, you can turn the AC off at night and open a window and be perfectly comfortable.

Let me also take this opportunity to talk about Searsuckers – I don’t like them.

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Busy Busy Busy

Sincere apologies for the complete lack of updates on this site, but I promise, I will try to update it more often. I know, I know, I have said this before, but I really enjoy writing these musings, it is just sometimes I can’t muster up the mental energy to write anything at all and I resign to watch TV all day and all night. Another reason for my lack of updates is because I used to update while listening to my LP Records. Well, I am pleased to announce that I have listened to all the records I own. That is, until last night. I received two albums in the mail yesterday (5 LPs in total) and I am curerntly listening to one of them as I write this.

The main reason for the lack of updates is I have been busy. Summer is here and we have already had a lot of events on the rooftop at work, softball is in full swing with 2 games a week. Coincidentally, YOUR Heritage Capitalist Tools are the team of the week in for Roll Call (a Congressional newspaper) and I got a quote in it. So things have been piling up. Work is also as busy as ever. I have managed, however, to get a few blog posts in. We have a lot of big fights coming up throughout the summer and fall, and we are ready to fight.

I’ve taken in a few baseball games as well. I went up to Baltimore with a friend to catch the Orioles and the Yankees. Not long after that I caught a Nats/Phillies game with another friend and a Nats/Pirates game with other friends. Not to mention the steady stream of happy hours, poker nights, and BBQs that come with summer in DC. Over Memorial Day, I went to visit friends on Long Island, NY and went sailing on Long Island Sound. I’ve been having a great time and I don’t suspect that it will end anytime soon.

Thanks for bearing with the lack of updates and I will try to get them more frequently.


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