Monday, April 30, 2007

Random Monday night thoughts

  • Got our first thunderstorm of the season tonight. One of those weird ones where patches of torrential rain mix with light sprinkling. Ran into one on 62 that made me think of driving in a car wash. Might have been hail too. Exciting!
  • I run into the strangest stuff on Cnn while I'm hold at work. Today there's an article about testing bells in an effort to increase their lifespan. Quoted in the story is a Peter Grassmayr, a 14th generation bell founder. 14 generations! That would go back to the 1650's or so. Amazing. What were the branches of my family doing at that time? No clue.

Sometimes I think that this picture sums up my realtionship with the FP Gal. She's just so darn productive and I'm too busy wearing my handkerchief and playing the fiddle. (Wait, that doesn't sound right.) Anyway, I appreciate all of the stuff she does for me. And I'm not just saying that because I mowed the lawn this weekend.

  • My favorite version of this fable is Fry's from Futurerama. "All year long the grasshopper kept burying acorns for winter, while the octopus mooched off his girlfriend and watched TV. But then the winter came, and the grasshopper died, and the octopus ate all his acorns. And also, he got a racecar." Keep living the dream.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Actually, the movie was better

Ever since I ran across that British list of books, I've been thinking about the connection between good books and their movie versions. The book is almost always better for obvious reasons. You can share in the thoughts of the characters. There is more time to expand the themes. You're not distracted by bewildering hair choices.
There are some exceptions of course. Sometimes forcing a full length book into a two/three hour time slot cleans up the story. Sometimes an actor can bring something to life that the written work just couldn't. Or it could be that the added visuals and musical score are striking enough that they carry the day. Some examples?
  • The Shawshank Redemption - based on a Stephen King novella. The original here is very good. It adds some texture that the movie couldn't quite get to, my favorite being a list of other escape stories. What made the movie better was the acting of Morgan Freeman. He embodies Red in such a way that you completely fall into the movie. The scene where he fears Andy has killed himself is a classic.
  • Jurassic Park - based on a Michael Crichton novel. The storyline here is much the same and Crichton clearly knows how to write novels that move like an action movie. The movie simplifies (and in some cases animates) complex section of the book and makes it more digestable. Plus, the theater audience doesn't have to sit through pages and pages of Taoist exposition.
  • Cliffhanger - based on who knows what. Only kidding.
  • The English Patient - based on a Michael Ondaatje novel. The books is quite good in this case but the movie is a great one. It improved the product by cleaning up the storylines. Plus Juliette Binoche is heartbreaking, just heartbreaking.
I thought of including the Lord of the Rings movies but I can't forgive the last half hour/decade of 'Return of the King'. I understand that the book doesn't end right after the climax either but at least you can put it down early without worrying that you'll miss the blooper reel during the credits.
What did I miss? Am I the only one that's run into this phenomenon?


Vikings draft - afterthoughts

I'm very happy with Adrian Peterson. He has an incredibly aggresive running style and should be lots of fun to watch. I keep hearing comparisons to Eric Dickerson, but he's got some Earl Campbell to him too. If he stays healthy (a legitimate 'if') then he should do some wonderful things for this team.
The Vikes picked up three receivers, all of whom were praised for having good hands. Troy Williamson, you're on notice. We can only hope that at least one of them pans out because the current crop is six shades of awful. Actually, who knows how good it is. Brad Johnson was clearly done last year and Tavaris looked awfully rookieish. I'm willing to give him another year of leash.
Quite a few of the players drafted had bad collegate seasons last year. Over and over I've read that so and so looked better in '05 than in '06. The reasons varied from injury to surrounding talent but the Vikings clearly focused on high risk/high reward types of players. I'm fine with that as it puts their necks on the line. If they really went out and found some diamonds, then they'll be just fine.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Testdriving for baby

Vikings draft

It's late April and my thoughts turn to the Vikings drafting the best defensive end available. My theory is that different teams have certain positions that they just should be talented at. They've developed an institutional memory and it carries over to the fans. For instance the Bears will forever seem like they should have a good running game. The 49ers should have a great quarterback. The Steelers and Giants should have great defenses, especially at linebacker. The Redskins at offensive line, etc.
The Vikings should be great at two spots, defensive line and wide receiver. The current Vikes have the worst receiver corp of a generation and that hurts. The interior defensive line is stellar but the defensive ends are pitiful. They need to get better at both spots.
They pick 7th and they've publicly said that they think there are eight 'blue chippers' available. Simple math says that there will be at least two of their top players to choose from. (Of course, teams can say anything. I'd love love love to have every teams honest draft board sealed in a time capsule for ten years and look back at it.)
The players I want?
  • Calvin Johnson, WR
  • Gaines Adams, DE
  • Adrian Peterson, RB
  • LaRon Landry, S
  • Adam Carriker, DE
We'll see what happens.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Random Thursday stuff

  • So the trainer job was open at work again and I applied for it. Did a training presentation on flight times and how to calculate them with time zone changes. Someone else got the job. In related news, I discovered this place and I'm talking with them next week.
  • The presentation led me to research time zones at Wikipedia. Time zones weren't really necessary until train travel came along. Until then time was kept locally and it really didn't matter. That led to this:
Timekeeping on the American railroads in the mid nineteenth century was somewhat confused. Each railroad used its own standard time, usually based on the local time of its headquarters or most important terminus, and the railroad's train schedules were published using its own time. Some major railroad junctions served by several different railroads had a separate clock for each railroad, each showing a different time; the main station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for example, kept six different times. The confusion for travelers making a long journey involving several changes of train can be imagined.
  • Other interesting thing (and pretty good bar bet), how many time zones do you think there are? It takes 24 hours for the earth to rotate (of course) so you'd think there are 24 of them. Not so. There are thirty-nine of them. That's because there are several time zones that are 30 minutes different than the rest. For instance, Newfoundland is 2 1/2 hours ahead of us.
  • The above might have been interesting to Jodi and no one else but me.
  • Our sweet kitten has become much more vocal lately. He's also taken to talking to himself. He's starting to act a bit like...Roxane. Warms my heart.
  • This brings back some childhood memories. And yes, kids, that's really what computer games sounded like back then.
  • That's it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sounds promising

Expect stories like this to crop up more and more often over the next few years. You should also expect that better analysis (orbital telescopes) to find even more promising planets. This one is just over 20 light years away. I bet we find them even closer.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Provide you delicate and considerate service"

So this morning at work I had to figure out how to ticket a reservation on Shanghai Airlines. (They're named for the city, not for a habit of doping strangers and pressing them into service on whaling ships. Not that I have any reason to think that they do any such thing. At least I've never heard of such a thing. And you'd think that would make the news, don't you? But I digress.)
So I had to figure out how to ticket them and we didn't have their number at work. So I went to my good friend Google and looked them up. That quickly led me to this page and what looked like the number to call them on. As you can see:
Shanghai Airlines reservation center formally stated the reservation hot line 8006208888 in 25Sep 1998. The service quality and service range was completely improved than the former one.
Now translations and foreign idiom are always fun and I'm sure that we sound funny when we try to translate over to Chinese too. What really caught my eye was point 4.
Reservation Center is 24 hours service system. Every specialized trained booking assistant will use gentle and patient words to provide you delicate and considerate service.
"Gentle and patient words"? "Delicate and considerate service"? I quickly shot off some emails to see if we could change our mission statement or our training methods. (See, they don't sound like they'd kidnap people, do they?) So I called the number to see how well they lived up to their standards. The number directs to an advertisment for "Ladies that want to talk to you! Call [some other number] to chat!"
Not quite the delicate service I was looking for...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Shakespeare's Birthday

One of the most rousing speeches in dramatic history.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Silliest reaction of the week

Goes to Yale. Stage props don't kill people, people kill people. (Actually, it's hard to kill people with stage props. That's kind of the point.)

Crash - 2006

This movie deals with a dozen or so people that all intersect over a few days in the LA area. It opens with a minor car accident and immediately features a Latin policewoman and an Asian driver trading racial barbs. That sets the tone. Just about every character is openly racist or plays against racial stereotypes. Mix repeatedly and you have your movie.
The writing is very good and the acting is superb. You have to suspend belief a tad in that the people in the story don't seem to live in a larger universe of people. You also have to marvel at the coincidence of all the bad things that happen in such a short period of time. But if you can get past that, it's a great movie.
The message is pretty straight forward: we're all racist and we shouldn't be because it causes us to shortchange people. The degree of racism from the characters was certainly higher than I'm used to but it's obviously out there. If this message moves us more towards being a post-race society than I'm all for it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday cat picture

Was reminded of this statue from my mother's post from her Rhode Island trip. I never did go into the Louvre and see their dishes. Maybe next time.
BTW, that's a lion killing a crocodile. Ozzie is very jealous and he wants you all to know that he would have done the same thing. Only quicker.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The dangers of team building

At work we are divided into teams of people, each headed by a single manager. Our site has been big into building the employee experience and one of the ways they are trying to do that is by encouraging games within teams. Currently my team is playing a game called 'Secret Agent'. The idea is that each agent will answer four personal questions and then everyone else will try and guess which agent it is from their answers. The questions are things like 'What's your middle name, favorite ice cream, dream vacation', that type of thing. Every day features a new agent and whoever gets the most right wins a gift certificate. Sounds simple, no?
Tuesday was the first day. We quickly realized that not everyone is there all five days a week as some of us work four ten hour days. Spirited arguments about how to handle that broke out. Some agents started emailing people questions about their middle names and so forth. Crafty agents eithered lied or refused to answer. After much discussion, an email was sent out asking people not to lie to each other. The crafty ones loudly declared that they just aren't going to answer then.
To recap, in response to our team building efforts we are now:
  • Fighting
  • Lying
  • Not talking to each other
Most people are taking this good naturedly but this isn't quite how it looked on the drawing board.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Small airports

Interesting article on today about how general airline taxes are being misused for smaller airports with corporate jets getting off cheap. The article leads with some misleading elements.
Passengers pay as many as six separate taxes and fees on a single airline ticket, adding up to more than $104 billion since 1997, the AP found. Yet these assessments often are overlooked by the millions who click the "buy" button to purchase tickets online, even though they can exceed 25 percent of the total airfare.

I work with those taxes everyday and have trained dozens of people on how to compute them. There are four basic ones on most domestic flights. Three of them are flat taxes (usually) totaling $10.40 per flight ($20.80 on a connection) and the fourth one is like a sales tax, 7.5% of the base fare. They only exceed 25 percent on very cheap tickets. The norm is lower.
The article goes on to list some questionable spending sprees from small airports, including this:
Austin Municipal Airport, about 90 miles south of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is home base for 25 small planes and three jets, at least two of which are owned by Hormel Foods, a Fortune 500 company with headquarters nearby. Since 2000, the airport received nearly $16 million in federal funding. More than two-thirds of the takeoffs and landing are by small, private planes.
Who knew? I've driven past that airport hundreds of times, even walked through their glass door back in 1990 (first trip to emergency room). What in the world did they find to spend 16 million dollars on? Do any of my Austin readers know about this? That's nearly $600,000 per plane. The mind baffles.
Read the list and you'll see a common thread. Different towns got hold of federal money and used it to enrich themselves. Building terminals and longer runways to attract business and such. None of that is the fault of corporations and their jets. If anything, it's an argument that too much total tax money is being collected. A similar system is used for our transportation system.
One other point:

A study released in February by the FAA said it cost $2.4 billion just to provide air traffic control for private and corporate planes in 2005. Yet the industry contributed just $516 million in fuel taxes that year. Another $500 million annually pays for weather forecasts and other preflight data for private pilots. These contribute to overall air safety, according to Andy Chebula, executive vice president for government affairs at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which represents more than 410,000 pilots and is lobbying heavily for retaining passenger taxes.

I'm not sure how much extra work goes into air traffic control for smaller planes (Heidi?) but weather reports are fairly general things that would need to be generated even if every small plane was grounded. I don't know about the preflight data and how much extra work goes into that (Ken?) but I'd guess a lot of that is necessarily duplicated too.
My favorite part?

"It's like going out to dinner and somebody buys the most expensive stuff and then says, 'Hey, let's divide this up among all the diners,"' he said. "Who should pay for that?" Commercial airlines support the proposed changes and say private aviation has been collecting huge taxpayer handouts that should go to airports that serve the general public. "We're saying users should pay in proportion to their share of system use," said Heimlich, of the Air Transport Association. "The current system isn't priced rationally."

Tell that to the business traveler that gets stuck paying $1300 for the day before travel from California to Minnesota while the tourist that booked two weeks earlier pays about $250. All to get the same seat with the same perks on the same flight. They may be right that an overhaul is the right way to go but their own price structure shows that they understand that not everyone pays the same amount for the same thing.


Just awful news out of Virgina today. I can't imagine what being near that type of tragedy would be like. Thoughts and prayers for that whole area.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cookie time!

So, my office is having a 'Chocolate Week' to celebrate something or other (not fitness). People have signed up to bring in chocloate for each day. My contribution? Jodi's chocolate/peanut butter/oatmeal cookies (recipe available upon request).
I don't make cookies very often, in this case because the FP Gal doesn't like my baking. Or the peanut butter or something like that. The whole thing was frustrating for Ozzie because he wanted to watch and/or sample but it was fun for us!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

British Literary Census

So Britan's largest bookstore, Waterstone, polled it's 5000 employees and asked for their five favorite books published since 1982, the year the store opened (article here). They then released a list of the top 100 books (list here). There is a minor controversy in that 2/3 of the books were written by men. Does that mean that the employees are chauvanists? I doubt it as I don't think most people base their book choices on the gender of the author.
In fact, one quick look at the list will show a common thread. Most of them have movie tie-ins! My years at B&N tell me that nothing moves a book like a film version. The ad campaign for a movie is also a campaign for the book. Maybe moreso. That's not to run down the books and suggest that they are unworthy or diminished by the silver screen. Just pointing out something obvious. (For what it's worth, I bet the audience at those movies were mostly women too.)
Some pretty good books on the list. I've read 12 of them (and seen the movie version of 8 others). Interestingly, I bet the FP Gal has probably read as many but different ones. Surprised that there's no Stephen King on the list. I'd put at least a dozen of his books above 'The Historian' (ugh). My top five?
The Name of the Rose
The Diamond Age
A Prayer for Owen Meaney
The Life of Pi

Three of them have been made into movies, one is in production and the fifth is being made into a mini-series. Make of that what you will.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

When I was putting together the list, I marked this book as one that I'd read before. As soon as I opened it, I realized that wasn't the case. Plenty of other Twain, but not this one. Or these ones, since my copy had both Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
A quick word about 'Tom Sawyer', plenty of fun and a great read. Creates a window into 1830's Missouri and more importantly a window into the world of a boy. Adventure and hi jinks galore. The original American bad boy and a direct descendant of Bart Simpson.
'Huck Finn' is a little different. The title character doesn't come from a loving family. In fact the book opens with a dispute as his drunken no-good father tries to take money from him and ends up kidnapping him. Huck escapes and meets up with a runaway slave named Jim. They run away from their lives by rafting down the Mississippi.
Huck wrestles with his conscience as everything he's ever been taught about slaves tells him that the man he's traveling with is an animal. There's a moving passage in the book that takes place after Huck has played a trick on Jim. Afterwards, Huck is ashamed and asks forgivness even though he's been taught that Jim isn't worth respect. His growing awareness of Jim's humanity is profound. Especially when you consider that the novel was published in 1884.
This novel is written in first person dialect and I usually find that annoying but it grew on me this time. The story is well told and engrossing. The message is important but subtle. This is a great novel and I wished this was my third or fourth time reading it instead of my first.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fresh Pics

Just ran across a blog called Fresh Pics which features, well, pretty pictures. This one is from a set of bridges.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Great American Novels

(By request.) Here's the list of the best American Novels. I've marked the ones I already own and link the ones I've already reviewed.

Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (OWN)
Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin
James, Portrait of a Lady
Cather, My Antonia
Wharton, The Age of Innocence
Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Warren, All the King's Men
Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March
Ellison, Invisible Man (OWN)
Chandler, The Long Goodbye
Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (OWN)
Updike, Rabbit, Run
Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor
Heller, Catch-22
Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird (OWN)
Nabokov, Pale Fire
Roth, The Great American Novel
Melville, Moby-Dick (OWN)
Twain, Huckleberry Finn (OWN)
Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (OWN)
Heinlein, Starship Troopers (OWN)
Mailer, Of a Fire on the Moon

Random Monday night thoughts

  • I hate it when the Sox are out on the West coast. Baseball games shouldn't start at 9p and they really, really shouldn't end around midnight. One of the joys of baseball is the rythm that you get into watching it every night and the whole time zone thing screws that up.
  • A friend from work loaned me 'Firefly' on DVD and I'm loving it. If you're a sci-fi fan or just a fan of good writing, this is great entertainment. One of the writers has a new series starting on FOX next week called 'Drive'. And yes, I'll give it a look.
  • Article in the Strib about large houses and the neighbors that hate them. Some people have started putting up signs that read 'Monster Houses Make Bad Neighbors'. I'm sure those people would hate my tower. I'd much rather live next to a 'monster house' than a busybody.
  • How do you keep a kitten out of the Macaroni & Cheese? Don't ask us because we haven't figured it out. (Next time he goes out on the porch.)
  • That's it!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Down to Austin

Some of my relatives from California are visiting Minnesota right now, so the FP Gal and I drove down to Austin today. The town looks fine. Two new signs caught our eye. One is for an automotive place called 'The Tranny Shop'. Guess I've lived in the big city for a while because I didn't think 'transmission' right away. The other one speaks for itself, 'No Snowmobiling in the Cemetary'.
Had a great time with the family. This is a branch of the family that we didn't really know while growing up and everytime we see them again I'm amazed at how much fun they are. We ate and played some cards. Finally, my allergies got the best of me and we had to get going. Got a hint of this memento from their recent trip to China...

Bo's Obit

Is here.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I'm not much for conspiracies usually, but I ran across something today that knocked my socks off. Take a look for yourself.

Welcome to the Unfastened Coins website. This site is dedicated to exposing the truth about the government's involvement in the sinking of the Titanic. Specifically, that they did it...

I created this documentary to spread the truth about the government coverup in Oklahoma, Waco, New York Middle East the North Atlantic.

I'm just a kid with a laptop who discovered the truth, but I encourage you to do your own research and come to your own conclusions based on my premise that the government is lying to you and that your disagreement with said premise constitutes your admission of being a sheep. I suggest starting with my video:


For Heidi

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


So I was reading CNN at work yesterday and ran across this article on the upcoming hurricane season. As far as I can tell, no editor ever saw this. Compare these paragraphs:

The probability of a major hurricane making landfall on the U.S. coast this year: 74 percent, compared with the average of 52 percent over the past century, he said.

There were 10 named Atlantic storms in 2006 and five hurricanes, two of them major, in what was considered a "near normal" season. None of those hurricanes hit the U.S. Atlantic coast -- only the 11th time that has occurred since 1945.
So in the last 100 years the U.S. coast has been hit by a hurricane in 52% of the years or exactly 52 of them. Later on we learn that since 1945, our coast has been hit every year but eleven times. Let's see. 2006-1945 = 61. In those sixty-one years we've been missed eleven times. 61-11 = 50. That means the U.S. coast was hit by hurricanes exactly twice between 1907 and 1945. Somehow I don't think that's right.
We also get this gem:
[Explaining why last year's prediction was off.] A weak to moderate El NiƱo occurred in December and January but dissipated rapidly, said Phil Klotzbach, a member of Gray's team.
[Later in the article.] The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, averages 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes per year.

So, let me get this right. A weather effect that didn't occur until December or January dampened a hurricane season that started six months earlier? That seems a bit counter-intuitive. Even if it's right, the article hardly explains that. I'd have sent this back for a rewrite.


Space thriller Serenity has beaten Star Wars to the title of best sci-fi movie in an SFX magazine poll of 3,000 fans.
How crazy is that? True, the movie does have great writing but is that enough to overcome the impact Star Wars had on movie making? Of course, if it spawned better writing it would only be a blessing for the rest of the movie universe...

The top ten:
1. Serenity (loved it)
2. Star Wars (classic)
3. Blade Runner (very good)
4. Planet of the Apes (are you kidding me?)
5. The Matrix (loved it)
6. Alien (best haunted house movie ever)
7. Forbidden Planet (no opinion)
8. 2001: A Space Odyssey (most boring movie ever, incredibly overrated)
9. The Terminator (great movie)
10. Back to the Future (loved it)

They missed Tron, The Wrath of Khan and Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Robert Dudley

Word from my dad down in Austin that Robert 'Bo' Dudley died this past weekend. I know he'd been sick for a long time and it sounds like it was a blessing. Still very sad though.
Bo was known primarily for his set design for the local theater. The very first play I was in, 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' had it's set designed by him. It looked like enormous snowflakes that unfolded so that various scenes could be staged differently. My favorite set was placed in the forest with a series of stone pillars. It all looked quite real. Only on closer inspection did you find out that the pillars were made of styrofoam. (One of those found a home in my bedroom for many years.) I'll remember him for his directing. He was very good with small casts. One of the best that I ever worked with. A professional in the best sense of the word.
He was also just plain fun to be around. I remember a Matchbox play that he was directing where we ran into problem after problem. A few nights before opening he called us out to the loading dock. He told us that we needed to sacrifice a virgin to appease whatever evil spirts were haunting us. He then produced a package of veal and we grilled it. A real character.
I haven't seen him in more than ten years but I've thought of him often. He wrote a children's play that I was privileged to be in. Whenever I start writing something new, I wonder what he would have thought of it. I'll miss him.
Rest in peace, Bo.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Amazing Race Rant

Wanted to say some things about last night's episode of 'Amazing Race'. [Everyone who doesn't watch and/or care should skip this post.]
So you've got a fairly scattered set of people due to airline problems in Africa. Very long separations because of the lack of flights in the sub-Saharan part. If your flight is overbooked, you're out of luck because the next one isn't out for hours and hours. That heightens the drama but completely screws some teams. Small time differences in going to the airport become days long penalties. It makes it impossible for the back teams to compete.
So we get to last night's episode. To the producer's credit they tried to take up some of the slack by guaranteeing a ticket on the last flight out. So the front teams, with time to kill, went to a travel agency. And then the bitchiest pair of women on the show in a long time decided to freak out the poor agent that they drew. Let me give you a clue, if you want good service from someone, don't get into their face with strange demands. (And drop the phoney accent when you talk to non-Americans, too. I'm soooo ready for that pair to leave.)
So the teams sit there for seven hours as the poor agent tries to find them earlier flights. Seven hours. Why so long? Booking systems have trouble with more than two connections. They also have problems with multi-airline connections. That's just the way they're designed. The trick is to break it down and look for portions of it. Jo-Burg? No problem. From there to London, Paris, Amsterdam or Frankfurt (the largest entry airports in Europe)? No problem. And then on to Warsaw. Very doable.
My beef is with the second leg that they showed. After marking the last team for elimination, they gave them no reasonable oppurtunity to catch me up. The first teams had a preset four hour headstart and then they got a headstart to skip to the end. That meant that the last teams were jammed together with no chance to make up time. What's that about?
Seriously, if we're going to watch people race, let's watch them race. They're taking all of the fun out of it when no amount of skill effects their position. Step it up, CBS.

Airline hassles

Interesting article in the Strib today about last year's flying experience.
More passengers found themselves bumped, their flights delayed or their bags lost last year than in 2005, a study found.
This doesn't surprise me in the least. Unless we have a very calm weather summer, I expect the numbers to get even worse. It seems like the planes are flying so full that the system doesn't have any slack. If several flights are canceled or seriously delayed it throws the whole system out of whack. Those passengers are pushed on to other full flights and the problem starts to cascade.
Any time we have big weather issues we see this happen. A snowstorm on the east coast a few weeks back stranded people for two or three days. A big one right before Christmas stranded people in Denver for a similar time.
This article continues:
Industry spokesman David Castelveter blamed the majority of delays on bad weather. Making matters worse, he said, more planes will be in the air in coming years and the air traffic control system cannot handle the growth.

I haven't heard the 'more planes' reasoning. Perhaps our resident air traffic controller has an opinion on that. I can't but wish that the airlines had more of them up there. We keep running into sold out situations that make no sense whatsoever. Two weeks ago I talked to a lovely admin who was trying to book three people from Portland (OR) to the Twin Cities for today. Normally there's about a half dozen nonstop and literally hundreds of connection flights that would work. Barring an event in Portland or Minneapolis, two weeks should be plenty of time but this time it was completely sold out. I can understand when spring break locales sell out but this was ridiculous!
How to avoid being bumped from a flight? Three tips:
  • Book early for a low fare.
  • Get a reserved seat (seat maps usually open 90 days before the flight).
  • Get to the airport early, especially if you have any reason to think that the flight is sold out.
Good luck!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Random Sunday night thought

While watching 'We are the 80's' on VH1 Classic (look, actual music videos!), worst/funniest video of all time? It's Raining Men. Holy cats, that's some bad stuff.

Opening Day!

This marks the 20th year that I've rooted for the White Sox. The first few years were pretty bad (217-267) and included a last place finish in 1989. I like to think that rooting for a team that's twenty games out builds character. Anyway, their fortunes turned around in 1990. They've only finished below .500 four times in the last seventeen years and finished no worse than third. And of course the 2005 season went fairly well.
This year features four AL Central teams that are all of similar (high) quality. The difference between the Indians, Tigers, Twins and White Sox is (probably) not that much. Injuries and other unknowns like rookie maturity will decide the whole shebang. Seriously, you could randomly select the four in any order and have an equal shot at getting it right.
The key for the Sox is the starting pitching. It went south during the second half of last year and so did the team. The bullpen should be a strength of the team again and the offense should still be one of the top ones in the AL. If the starters bomb, the team will fail. If they are consistently good the team will be too. If they repeat their 2005 performances, they'll win the division.