Saturday, December 30, 2006

Now that's Bogus

Great weather above the inversion.
One great day of many spent enjoying local ski hill, Bogus Basin.

It's a silly name for sure, but certainly it's the best $200 I spend every year.

View Photoset

Blizzard Redux

Flying home. Time for another snowstorm in Denver!

Flights ahead and behind me were canceled. They pushed me forward to an earlier flight to Denver and I just managed to barely slide through with only an hour delayed arrival on the other end.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Love Actually

I love airports, especially around the holidays. Love actually is all around us.

Very happy to see me late on Christmas Eve

I love these two. They taught me the meaning of love and after over 30 years, they're still in love, actually.

They dance to At Last by Etta James every time it plays

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Bumping Christmas

Christmas Eve I got up early and made sure I was at the airport two hours early. Though I had no way of knowing how, I had a sneaking suspicion United Airlines wasn’t done complicating my life. I checked in for my flight two hours early, slid through security with no complications and even got to the gate without issue. A few minutes later the gate agent called my name. You, Mr. Thomas are being “involuntarily bumped!”

Involuntary bumping I learned does not involve pelvic motion, but instead exciting route selection:

You thought you were headed east?
Wrong! You’re going to Portland.
You thought your flight was to BWI?
Wrong! We’re routing you through National.
You thought you’d be at Christmas Eve dinner with family and friends?
Wrong! You’ll be lucky to get in before Santa arrives.
I handled that with pretty good spirits considering, but I was puzzled over my ticket:

It contained a few more surprises!
  • Note how long that flight is from Portland to National? No, I'm not flying on a turbo-prop across the continent. No! I'm enjoying an unadvertised stop in Los Angeles! And for added fun they were letting passengers in Boise who were going to LAX via Portland to change flights and fly directly, however I wasn't told I'd be visiting LAX on Christmas Eve, so I got to go the long way and cram a second breakfast down my throat in Portland thinking it'd be my only meal of the day except...
  • See that knife and fork on my ticket? It means, apparently, that cutlery is available, because there wasn’t any stinking meal.
The only good to come of this saga was a free airline ticket in the contiguous states via United for the pleasure of the bump.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I realize that talking to irate customers is not the most attractive job, but the executive who approved the use of the United Airlines Robo-Prompter really should be reassigned. Customer Service would be a good starting point.

For the last eight hours I have been calling the United Airlines robo-prompter. I endure a minute of banter, struggle through getting the robo-ear to decipher a few simple responses and then it hangs up on me. There's more than a little room for improvement:

  • If you tell me you are going to transfer me, transfer me. Don't hang up on me. This is upsetting.
  • Don't make me listen to the same minute-long introduction every time I call. It adds to my stress.
  • If the lines are so flooded that you are going to hang up on me after three minutes of prompting, don't even answer the phone. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to spend one minute listening to your adverts and bulletins, then two more answering questions only to be hung up on?
  • I understand text recognition is hip, but if you are going to use it, make it work. The letter "L" and "P" don't remotely sound similar. If your robo-ear isn't good enough to differentiate the two, maybe you should try employing a human.
  • When I do finally get a human they should not under any circumstances ask me the same question I just struggled to get the robo-prompter to answer.
  • If I ask for an operator give me one, or don't give me the option.
I wasn't really annoyed when your Denver hub closed for a blizzard. That makes perfect sense. But when I have to spend an entire day when I was supposed to be traveling and I could have been getting paid, instead being robo-hosed, it's more than a bit upsetting.

Thankfully, Shel came up with the idea to switch languages and found a real person on the Spanish Customer Support (who was even bilingual). I'll arrive at my parents' house the evening on the 24th, four days later than I planned. If I'd waited for an operator on the English Customer Support I'd still be calling and definitely arriving after Santa Claus.

¡Si Shel no hubiera llamado en español, me hubiese jodido!

Front Page News

Leaving the airport a little dejected after my flight cancellation, I was surprised to happen upon my handiwork gracing the front page of the Statesman. Damn skippy.

Sorry about the image quality, my camera was still wet... I'll have to take a picture of a copy of the paper I have at home.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Doggone It!

You live somewhere for three years and you think you have a pretty good feel for the place. But no.

The foothills are right there. They've been there, I look at them everyday. Yet I haven't taken the time to explore them. Shel took me mountain biking and hiking in the foothills this weekend. It's like a big people fun park! And right in my backyard. What the heck was I doing at Home Depot all these Saturdays?

Kootenai's and Desi's stupid smiles sum it up pretty well.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Strong Arm of the Law

So I was headed home from The Bouquet after the Clumsy Lovers show. I'd had a few, but I'd danced all night and was far from inebriated. Just as I was turning onto my street, blue and red lights illuminated everything around me. I pulled over. I was laughing before he even got out of the car.

The officer came forward and started asking questions:
Officer: Where are you coming from?
Me: Downtown, Sir.
Officer: Are you coming from the bars or do you work downtown?
Me: Both.
Officer: Do you have any idea why I pulled you over?
Me: Not especially, but if we're going to sit and have a conversation, why don't you come inside my house and we can make ourselves comfortable (it was about 12 degrees outside)?
Officer: Why do you live near here?
Me: Sir, that's my house three doors down you're illuminating with your lights.
Officer: That won't be necessary. How long have you lived here?
Me: Three years.
Officer: Did you know you need a light on your bike at night?
Me: Now I do.

He then ran my license, issued me a verbal warning for not having a light (he did tell me a headlamp was ok, so I don't have to go buy a light) and let me go. He was actually very nice considering he had to deal with my bemused smile through the whole ordeal, but the situation amused me immensely.

It's not everyday you get pulled over. It's not everyday you get pulled over in front of your house. And it's certainly not everyday you get pulled over on a bicycle. Combine all three and there I am sitting on my bike bathed in spotlights with red and blue lights flashing off my neighbor's houses while they peek out their windows at me. Smile and nod, smile and nod.

Friday, December 15, 2006

One Good Idea

I'm still looking for that one good idea. I know it's ruminating around in my brain just waiting to come out so I can retire and work full-time doing good in the world.
(DISCLOSURE: My jobs are far from evil, in fact I genuinely believe I am doing good in the world through my occupations, but I could do more)

Post It Notes, Chia Pets, Roomba... these ideas kill me. Especially the later, I had this idea when I was 8 years old. I just didn't know how to engineer or bring it to the marketplace.

Whenever an everyday event annoys me, even a little I try to look for new ideas or ways to deal with it. Unfortunately, thanks to Google I usually learn someone else has already thought of it.

For example, my next house will have two large dishwashers and no cupboards. Why put dishes away when they can just move from the clean to the dirty dishwasher?

And as good ideas go this one takes the cake.

Season Shot - Ammo with flavor. Shoot your bird and it is already infused with seasoning. No picking shot out, no crunching your teeth on steel pellets, no lead in the environment. Pick your seasoning, shoot your bird, chuck in the oven. Pure brilliance.

How to Peel a Banana

If you're like me you grew up opening bananas just like this picture. You'd grasp the stem and pull back, sometimes digging your thumb in to assist cleaving the stem from the fruit.

And you'd be wrong.

How should you open a banana?

This is the question I just posed to my officemates, none of which were aware of the simple solution monkeys know:

  1. Flip the banana around so that you're holding the stem of the banana. (The stem being the growth that connects with other bananas to form a bunch.)
  2. Start the peel at the end that's facing up, doing a pinch-and-tug to get the peel off.
  3. Peel it on down. It should peel just right.
The monkey method has several advantages:
  • It does not smash the top of the banana
  • There is a handy stem to hold onto while you eat
  • You get far less of the stringy fibers to remove
This revelation certainly leads one to question this thesis about the banana:

Whether God begot the banana is irrelevant, the humor for me lies in the fact that the demonstration of God's perfection contains an imperfection that would make a monkey howl.

Didn't Charles Darwin suggest monkeys were the origin of our species? Why don't we inherently know how to open a banana?

Ben Franklin said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Maybe it is that simple. Because there's one more benefit to the banana our apostle forgot: humor.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hook Day

Michael and I hooked work today to ski at Anthony. The Stupid Dingo was delighted with these plans. She loves water in all its forms, especially snow. Michael loves snow, including in the form of a woman. And who am I to argue? I love all these things.

The snow was a little wet for Anthony, but it didn't keep us from enjoying ourselves.

Monday, December 11, 2006


I limped into the work again today. By now this is no surprise to my coworkers who simply smirk and ask, “How’d the game go? Did you win?” I reply with the same bemused smile they’ve come to expect and begin regaling the latest saga.

No position is more fun than goalie. Well, the way I play, goalie isn’t really an accurate descriptor; it’s more like a goalie/sweeper. It is all instinct; hesitate for a moment and you’re beaten. Pure passion, aggression and gobs of cockiness with no thought of the consequences. It doesn’t matter if you are going to collide full speed, it doesn’t matter if you’re putting your head between an opposing player’s foot and the ball. The only thinking, if you can call it that, is the knowledge that the ball is in your box and it belongs to you and not on their foot or the back of net.

Up until last weekend, it had been 15 years since I last played keeper. While I didn’t shut the other team down like last week I made a few brilliant saves, stole the ball off a number of attackers way out on the red line, and even got one shot on goal (as keeper).

The second half, our regular keeper arrived, and I managed two quick goals (one a double nutmeg of defender and keeper) before enjoying a forced retirement to, you guessed it, sweeper.

You feel so alive on the field it brought to mind a conversation I had with a friend recently returned from Latin America. Upon returning to the North, what struck her were not American conveniences or even our infamous rudeness, but the lack of passion, the distance and the hesitation. Abroad, life and death were tangible. The people could only respond by living passionately for the moment.

Soccer, when played with intensity is pure passion. It was not until we were raising pints in celebration after our victory that I realized my knee made grinding noises when I bent it and my pinky wasn’t functioning properly.

But, running the risk of mistaking fútbol for football, the immortal words of Shane Falco still apply, even in our 27th Division Co-Ed Indoor League, “Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory... lasts forever.”