What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Doing it on the cheap. I’m assuming that the plastic mailbox pedestal you’ve installed proudly in the front yard is supposed to look like stone. I’m sure you’re trying hard to ape the style of the big houses up the hill. I’m sure someone in your house, maybe even you, thought it looked good. That assessment was incorrect. It’s tacky as hell.

2. Jet noise. Local news out of Anne Arundel County reports that residents near Baltimore-Washington International Airport are upset because they’re hearing jet noise. Let’s recap: 1) You bought a house near the airport; 2) Now you’re upset that airports are noisy and want the county to make the FAA do something about it. In summation: You’re an idiot.

3. Wind and the failure to plan for it. Every trash can in the neighborhood blew over last night. Since the weather reports were all calling for a dramatic change in weather following a fast moving system of thunder storms, high wind overnight shouldn’t have come as a surprise. But it did, because of course it did. Now, those overturned 60-gallon rolling trash barrels have spewed paper products and plastic bottles into every gutter and wood line, leaving our little corner of the county looking like some kind of 3rd world shithole. Somehow I don’t expect the doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs in my hood will bother themselves it make it right. All for the want of a few $2 bungee cords.

Havoc

It’s 11:55 PM. My flight to Memphis has now been delayed three times tonight. The latest schedule is calling for a 11:59 departure. Since the plane we’ll be on hasn’t landed yet, I think that timeline has been pretty well blown. I understand weather delays happen, but after a hundred years of flight, you’d think there would be a better system in place for determining when a flight can reasonably be expected to leave than “it’ll be another 45 minutes”. Then again, I’m not a logistics expert. Oh yeah, I am. Grr.

P.S. The new “scheduled” departure time is 12:45 AM. You can’t see it but I’m rolling my eyes.

Scheming…

Is it bad that I have only been back to work for three days and I’m already scheming about where I want to go on vacation next time? In between now and then, though, I have a few obligatory trips I need to make. One of my cronies from the office is getting married in October in Williamsburg so I anticipate being up there for an extended weekend and probably a “pass-through” visit to Western Maryland on my way back to Tennessee. Then of course there is the obligatory Christmas visit. After that, though, it’s pretty much an open slate. Maybe somewhere warm with a rum economy in the spring. If the euro would ever stop beating up on the dollar, I’d love to go back to Europe but I don’t foresee that happening any time in the immediate future.

It’s not so much that I’m out of good ideas as it is that I want to make these trips count since they’re getting to be pretty damned few and far between. One of the biggest problems with west Tennessee is that getting anywhere is an expedition that involves an overpriced airline ticket (for a hub airport, MEM is ridiculously expensive) out of the city or an all day drive in any direction. In the interim, I’m hoping to coax a few old friends to Memphis with the promise of world-class barbecue and… uhhhh… Bible study.

Please report to the podium…

Usually getting called over for a chat with the gate agent is never a good thing. I assumed it was going to be the usually “we’re in an oversold situation and you get to stay in Memphis” kind of story, but no… The flight is over booked but they’ve kindly decided to give me the bump to first class. It’s nice to see all of the quality time I’ve spent with Northwest over the last two years are paying off in the form of slightly wider seats and a touch more leg room.

Second time around…

Well, here’s hoping I manage to get it right the second time around. I’m leaving tomorrow on a redux of the trip I was too sick to go on last month. Mercifully, I’m feeling well and it’s possible that this will be my last big trip before the job swap takes place. I’m not holding my breath on that one, though. Seems no matter what my job is, I’m always needed somewhere other than where I happen to be at the time. After a long weekend of waging war on my back yard and getting it primed for spring, I think I am ready for a nice quiet boondoggle. Talk to you from Kansas City… Or from the airport if I see something that just demands an immediate rant.

The saga continues…

OK, I’ve filed my plans (for the second time) and have all the paperwork cut, reservations made, all the appropriate notifications that I’ll be floating around the old homestead over the weekend have happened (almost). When everything is going according to schedule, my day ends at 3:30. At 3:19 I got an email that I had been “uninvited” to the DC meeting on Friday. At 3:26 another email hit my inbox that I was “reinvited.” I appreciate you boys fighting over me, I really do, but this whole plan has all the classic hallmarks of a typical government operation… no one has a damned clue what is actually going on.

As of 8:30, I’m planning to fly out tomorrow. That, of course, is subject to the requirements of the service and can change at any time before “the cabin door has been closed and customers are asked to turn off their cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices.” If you don’t see a stark, raving post about government ineptitude by 6:00 PM eastern time tomorrow, you’ll know I’m winging my way somewhere over the Eastern half of the country. Stay tuned for developments as they happen.

Itinerary…

Spend enough time doing what I do and you’ll learn that flight plans are never for sure until you are taxing up to the terminal at your destination. I filed all my paperwork this morning that put Uncle’s official stamp of approval on my travel plans… Thirty minutes later I was walking to the shredder with those plans.

You should always be suspicious when the boss wanders over to you and starts the conversation with “since you’re going to be on the road Monday anyway…” So, instead of a nice quiet flight back to Memphis on Monday morning, I’m going to reroute through Atlanta for a 10 hour layover so I can take a meeting downtown before heading back to the airport to catch my newly scheduled evening flight to Memphis.

There ought to be a law against forcing someone to go through two airport screenings in one day… especially when one of them is Atlanta.

4740…

That’s the number of air miles I will have earned for the month of May when this week’s road stand wraps up. True, taken as a single trip, that distance would be something approximating the trip from here to London – only a 7 ½ hour hop. My 4740 will all be accrued on the trip between Memphis International and Reagan. There’s a certain wear and tear of three weeks of back and forth, of packing, doing laundry, and repacking. I’m a little frayed at the edges, but that’s nothing that won’t be solved by spending a long weekend firmly planted on the ground.

Here’s hoping I won’t see 6320.

Clear for flight operations…

I’m headed to the airport here in Memphis in a few hours for a hop to Baltimore. Tonight’s plan is to overnight there and then head down to Dulles tomorrow in the late afternoon. We have a redeye from Dulles to Munich and then a puddle jumper from Munich to Milan in the early morning. If I can figure out how the Italian internet works, you know I’ll keep things fresh around here… and if not, I’ll be taking copious notes and will fill you in on all the details when I get back.

A rare thing…

I rarely use this forum as a chance to dispense praise on anyone or anything (other than myself, of course). Wading through the sea of humanity that is an airport security check point is not anyone’s favorite activities. I usually try to get to the airport about 2 hours early so I can get a cup of coffee and a smoke before charging into the security line. With flights cancelled over the weekend and flights out starting to stack up on Monday morning, I didn’t have great expectations. My worst travel fears were confirmed when I checked my bags and turned to make my way to the checkpoint. I found a line of nightmare proportions… stretching from Pier D down through the international terminal and folding back on itself. I, of course, was running 45 minutes behind my self-appointed schedule… something highly unusual for me. With just an hour before wheels-up, I was already doing the mental math on when I would get to Memphis if I could get a seat on the 9:30 flight.

As it turns out, my fears were unfounded and the screeners were running the line through in what had to be record time. Total time from being the end of the line to sitting at the gate was 30 minutes. God only knows what made it past the fine men and women of TSA yesterday morning, but I appreciate their efforts to keep things moving. So here, in a public forum, I want to offer the thanks of a weary traveler.