December 16, 2008
Sometimes travel can be fun…
…today is not one of those times.
Traveling into Milwaukee, I had a connecting flight in Chicago. Granted, connecting flights in Chicago are usually not a good idea, as a gnat’s sneeze is enough to get O’Hare into a 2 hour delay — and it was snowing today.
But hey, these things happen. Unfortunately, in this case it meant that my first flight got cancelled, and my second flight delayed almost 4 hours, and so I walked into my hotel room at 1 AM (should have landed in Milwaukee at 5:45 PM).
On top of that, American Airlines lost my bag. I’m not sure how, considering they had about 6 hours from the time I landed in Chicago to the time I left Chicago to figure out where it was going, but still they lost it, along with quite a few other folks on the flight. So it went from bad to worse, because not only were my work clothes in that bag, so was my coat. Did I mention that it was snowing?
Luckily I dressed in a sweater, and while I wasn’t in work clothes, I’m a little bit more presentable for my meetings tomorrow than I normally travel in summertime — shorts, a t-shirt, and flipflops.
But why do I have a problem with Milwaukee? I’m not sure how it happened, but three of the last four times I’ve been here I’ve had horrendous luck.
The first time, back in about June, I came here and had a night with nothing planned. Our rep suggested I join his sand-court volleyball league team for the evening, which sounded like a lot more fun that sitting alone in a hotel room. So I played. And I proceded to hit the land wrong while diving to dig a ball out, causing damage to my shoulder that still hasn’t 100% healed.
The second time, I was on a monumental driving tour of the midwest (Sioux Falls, Minneapolis, Madison, and Milwaukee), and the final day, my rental car was broken into during lunchtime. I ended up having my work laptop. a fair number of work items, my GPS, iPod Touch, and sunglasses stolen. I was able to get everything but the iPod and sunglasses replaced by my employer, since all the other things were business-related, but it rather sucked.
And now this. I don’t think I want to come back to Milwaukee.
June 30, 2008
From that bastion of objective news, The CW:
SAFER, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, which got a ballot initiative passed to make enforcing marijuana laws the lowest legal priority in Denver, is now pushing to allow passengers to get high before they fly. But since the FAA oversees the airport and smoking pot is against federal laws, the idea has some people scratching their heads wondering how it would work.
SAFER members aren’t mapping out the legal landmines. Instead, they just say that the smoking lounge, outside of security at Denver International Airport, falls under Denver Police jurisdiction. And since the new city ordinance was enacted, all penalties for adult marijuana possession have been removed. So they think adults should be allowed to smoke either marijuana or cigarettes in the airport’s smoking lounge.
So why should you support this?
10. It’s the mile-high city. Duh!
9. It makes the jerk in the seat next to you for 5 hours much funnier.
8. Letting a drunk out of his window seat three times during a flight to pee is annoying.
7. Flying 500 mph at 35,000 feet in a steel tube is just plain trippy, man… Whoa.
6. It’s probably easier to get weed through security than liquor.
5. The event of a “water landing” is a great cure for cottonmouth.
4. Pilots fly better stoned than drunk.
3. No sober person wants to watch “Snow Dogs.”
2. Because it’s natural, dude. It’s from the earth…
And the reason that it might actually happen?
1. The airlines will find it a lot easier to sell a bag of Doritos for $5 if passengers have the munchies!
June 29, 2008
Last weekend was my little sister’s wedding, so the family and I headed back to Chicago for the ceremony. Joanna and Wyatt flew back this past Monday, and I stayed in the midwest until Friday for business.
Wyatt, as usual, was a little angel on the airplane. When he was around my family (who he doesn’t know very well), he did take a few days to warm up to them, but by Sunday was doing well. He did have a lot of fun with his cousin Jack, who’s now about 2 1/2 years old… Jack (and his parents, of course), are moving back to San Diego from Texas, so that should be a lot of fun.
Soon to be best of friends!
The family outside the church after the wedding.
Wyatt gets Pizzeria Uno– the best pizza in the world– at 10 1/2 months? What a lucky kid!
He was very interested!
April 22, 2008
I made it out to Chicago last week, but never had any good pictures to share. And after realizing that my “travel camera” is a steaming pile of a dog crap, I only managed to get one good picture from Denver. My wife keeps the nice new camera, but since it’s very large and bulky, I wouldn’t likely carry it around and use it when I’m on business. I think it’s time for me to buy a new camera, and I’ve got a few things I’d like in that camera:
1. Small/slim (fits in a pants pocket easily).
2. Good value (good pictures, but not overly expensive).
But luckily, the picture I did get happened to be of the entrance to my favorite beer bar:
April 1, 2008
Richard Branson is taking space tourism to the next level, with the help of Google.
For thousands of years,
the human race has spread out across the Earth, scaling mountains and plying the oceans, planting crops and building highways, raising skyscrapers and atmospheric CO2 levels, and observing, with tremendous and unflagging enthusiasm, the Biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply across our world’s every last nook, cranny and subdivision.
Earth has issues, and it’s time humanity got started on a Plan B. So, starting in 2014, Virgin founder Richard Branson and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will be leading hundreds of users on one of the grandest adventures in human history: Project Virgle, the first permanent human colony on Mars.
I’m so there!
I think I should file this one under “travel”, right?
March 29, 2008
Well, the three-week whirlwind of travel has thankfully come to a close. As it stands, I have no travel currently scheduled, and all intents upon not going anywhere for at least 3 weeks.
Pennsylvania was a quick trip, and outside of the Vegas experience and picking up a few nice beers to bring home with me, largely not worth documenting in pictures.
Phoenix was a little bit more fun, got a chance to return to the Four Peaks Brewery, as well as an Irish Pub called Rula Bula. Both places are actually in Tempe, where our manufacturer’s rep have their offices.
Four Peaks Brewery
Four Peaks Beer List
Four Peaks Bar
Rula Bula Bar
Beers I brought back from PA and AZ. Left to right (Southern Tier IPA not pictured – i.e. already consumed)
Southern Tier Mike & Phin’s Extraordinary Ale, Southern Tier Raspberry Porter, Great Divide Titan IPA, Dogfish Head Raison D’Extra, Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, Breckenridge Agave Wheat, Magic Hat #9
(click on photo for a larger version)
I was very pleased with the Agave Wheat. As previously mentioned, I’ve brewed an agave wheat, and it was atrocious. This one is very tasty. First, they based it off a Hefeweizen style, while mine is an American Wheat. The Hefe uses a much more flavorful yeast, and that adds a lot of beneficial flavors to balance the agave. Mine was a very clean/neutral beer, so the agave overpowered it. In addition, I think they used a MUCH smaller proportion of agave in the recipe than I did, which also helps to keep them from having the same sort of failure that I did.
I’ve got another 3 lbs of agave, so I might just have to add it to a hefeweizen instead, in order to finish off that bottle.
March 24, 2008
On my way out to Pittsburgh, I’m currently enjoying a 2-hour layover in Las Vegas.
I rarely carry much cash on me, and coming to this airport, I only had $2 in my wallet. My intent was to lose that $2 playing Wheel of Fortune, but my plans have gone awry. My first pull on the machine, I hit a spin for $20.
Good times… And I think I have the willpower to stop here, so I’ll call it a good start
March 23, 2008
As I mentioned late last week, the situation in Pennsylvania has deteriorated. I’m headed back there early tomorrow morning. It’s a “rifle shot” trip, and I’ll be coming back to California on Tuesday evening. Unfortunately, I’ll then be headed out to Phoenix early Wednesday morning, coming back Thursday.
March 21, 2008
Definitely an enjoyable trip. I’ve only been to SLC once previously, and that was at 6 AM one December day in 2000 driving through on a cross-country trip. Having driven through from the Midwest at the time, I was struck by the fact that it was my first real experience driving through the Rockies, and it was rather nice to see a city surrounded by snow-capped peaks. My return trip did not disappoint:
From my experience driving around, it appears to be a very interesting city. Visually it’s quite beautiful, and it seems like a city in a state of transition. It’s apparent that there are some older, poor sections of the city, but that business is moving in and salaries are increasing. Excepting the whole 4% beer thing (which is only true of bars/restaurants, the state-owned liquor stores can sell higher), it sounds like a very nice place to live. But, with the beer restrictions, I think I’d be headed to Denver instead!
We did end up making it out to a brewpub called Hoppers:
I had 4 beers (easy to do when they’re so weak). Three of them were fairly good. I had a pilsner, a hefeweizen, and a stout, all of which were good representations of the style, and cleanly-brewed. I also had a pale ale, which failed to impress. I am not even sure I can put my finger on what was wrong with it, but my coworker also found it lacking. I think there may have been too much of a Munich malt bill, and not enough Crystal malt, which is more typical of a pale. Added to that, it seemed to have enough bittering hops, but was lacking hop flavor/aroma. Either way, I was impressed. It just goes to show that you don’t need to make beers strong to make them tasty. I’ve had badly-brewed strong beers in brewpubs, and if I had a choice between a badly-brewed 6% ale and a well-brewed 4% ale, I’ll take the 4%.
The strangest thing I saw, though, was in the airport on my way back. Dressed as a business traveler, carrying only a boarding pass and a laptop, the lady at the security checkpoint directed me to the “Expert Lane”. I was in so much shock that I didn’t think to take a picture of it. SLC’s airport actually has a sign and screeners devoted to an expert security lane, for frequent travelers. This is very useful for me, as I regularly scan the people in front of me in line at the airport, to ensure I’m not behind any families or anyone who looks like a tourist or infrequent traveler. Those of us who spend a lot of time in airports are able to quickly get all of our bags / metal items / laptop / shoes / etc organized and through the x-ray rather quickly. Those who don’t know the rules or don’t do it often can slow the line down immensely. It appears that at least one airport understands this, and is trying to help out those of us that know our way around.
It’s nice to be home… Of course, the situation in PA hasn’t sufficiently improved, so I may be flying back there on Monday… Then coming back home Tuesday evening, only to fly out to Phoenix for Wed/Thurs… I think I’m going to have to use all my frequent-flyer miles and hotel points to take my wife somewhere nice, and soon!
March 17, 2008
Well, I just arrived here in Salt Lake City. From the little I could see in the dark, it appears that I’m well surrounded by snow-cap peaks, so I’ll try to snap some pictures when I get a chance, and hopefully head out to a local brewpub tomorrow for dinner.
I’ve got a bit of nervous apprehension/excitement about this brewpub, though. These silly Mormons (no offense to my 2 Mormon readers, but seriously folks, let me enjoy my beer in peace!) in Utah have strict laws about beer, and thus there’s a 4% limit on alcohol in the beer served at this pub. A portion of me simply thinks that they’re going to be lifeless, flavorless beers. But then, I wonder. When you tell an artist that he can only paint with shades of blue, the artificial constraint forces him to try to raise his craft to make the best damn blue painting that’s ever been painted. I wonder if they’re doing the same here. If they can’t brew over 4%, maybe they’re producing some of the most flavorful session beers ever seen.
Either way, we’ll find out soon!
Looking forward to being back in California on Wednesday evening, as the constant travel pace has been a bit taxing.
March 14, 2008
So, I sit today in TGI Friday’s at the Pittsburgh airport. Readers might ask “Brad, we thought you were supposed to be in Iowa at the end of the week. What are you still doing in Pittsburgh?”
Well, that’s a long story. Luckily, I’ve got time!
On Monday, just as myself and the regional sales manager (RSM) were arriving into town, we had gotten calls that one of our key accounts was having issues. Not good, and it was definitely a high-priority issue. But it seemed to be okay… We were already planning to visit another group at that customer on Tuesday, and the issue they were having appeared to be similar to something we’ve seen before (and had a known fix). So we scheduled a meeting with the 2nd group, went up there, and got a plan.
It was simple: get them a sample of the fixed part, so they could test it, and get their stock sent back to our factory for updating (pending their validation of the fix). We got all this done in record time, and we flew out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday while HQ was working hard to get things taken care of. Wednesday night we found our way to Iowa, and Thursday we went visiting all the other customers we needed to talk to.
Well, on Thursday, the fit hit the shan! It turns out that when the fixed drive arrived, it didn’t fix the problem. And the problem was about to get pushed right up the chain of the command. We’re talking CEO-level here. Tell someone that a part comprising 0.0005% of the cost of their multi-million dollar piece of equipment may stop them from delivering to their customer, and they get a little bit upset. So we were in a bind.
The original plan was to have more account visits in Iowa today (Friday). Then to drive to Chicago (where the RSM lives) so that I could fly back home to California. That didn’t happen. Instead, the RSM and I left Iowa, to drive to Pennsylvania. We would have loved to fly, but the cost was prohibitive and the flight schedules simply didn’t work. So we drove through the night, arriving at the customer’s site by 7:45 AM (surprising a few of them, I’m sure!) ready to get down to business. In a matter of a few hours, we managed to defuse the situation, although it’s still not perfect. We have a plan in place, some things to test on our own end as well as for the customer to try. Better yet, our CEO didn’t get an angry phone call! And best of all, I’m still on my way back to California this evening!
Driving 11 hours overnight, frantically altering flight schedules and plans; some people might call us crazy. But when you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, you wedge yourself between them and start pushing. At the end of the day, we did what had to be done, and we’re doing right by our customer. Sleep be damned!
March 12, 2008
My old camera is a piece of junk, so I might need to be buying myself a new one. Yet, I managed to get two decent pictures so far. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the camera ready for the World’s Biggest Truckstop, but I’ll try to get that one on my way back on Friday.
What I did get to do is visit a pretty phenomenal brewpub. I had to swing by anyway to drop off some beer for a homebrew competition, and because my hotel was only a mile from the brewpub, we decided to have dinner there on Monday. The food was great and the beer was awesome. The place is a steakhouse; my coworker had some prime rib and loved it. I had a salmon dish, and while I thought the salmon was slightly overcooked, the meal was still pleasant. And the beer… The beer was great. I had samples of about 5 different brews, and all were very well-brewed, very tasty samples. The only complaint I’d have is that the beer they market as an “American Amber” ale is quite clearly an American Pale. But however you classify it, it’s delicious, so I’m not going to nit-pick. The brewpub is Hereford & Hops, and I highly recommend it.
The next night, we went over to Primanti Bros, which was right next door to the hotel. I had seen the restaurant on the food network, and was sorely disappointed in the meal. Quite frankly, their “famous” sandwich seemed bland and tasteless. They did make a good spicy deep-fried pickle appetizer, but when the main attraction of the restaurant needs to be drowned in ketchup just to be palatable, it’s not a good sign. I can only hope the the location I visited (Cranberry Twp, PA) was an outlier, because there is no reason a restaurant that puts out food like what I had last night should be celebrated.
Tonight, we went for a true celebration of globalization. We went to a Japanese/Chinese restaurant, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At that restaurant I drank beer from Colorado and Oregon, while my Midwestern cohort downed some Sapporo. I wasn’t ready to eat sushi in Cedar Rapids, but apparently there’s decent turnover of the stock, due to a large number of out-of-towners who eat here. But if they’re surviving in the area, they must be doing something right.
The Unrepentant Individual linked with Chalk Another One Up For South Swell
March 7, 2008
One thing that I’ve struggled with since moving most of my political blogging to The Liberty Papers has been a lack of focus about what I write about here, and often a lack of content. I dabbled in college football for a while, post about brewing and Wyatt, but still have no clue what I’m supposed to be doing here.
So I’ve decided to muddy the waters even further. With my new job, I tend to travel a heck of a lot more than I used to. I’m often traveling twice a month, maybe 35% of the monthly work days. At the moment, I think I’ll be out 10 of the next 15 work days on actual travel requiring flying somewhere, and doing local Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego travel another 3 days of that time. If I keep this up, people at the office might forget who I am, particularly if I keep losing weight!
Since I’m on the road so much, I think it might be worth carrying a camera along with me and trying to document some of it. I try to keep a clear line between work and blogging, despite the fact that some of the customers I work with are doing really cool and interesting things I’d love to post about. But I spend plenty of time on these business trips trying to scope out new restaurants and brewpubs, seeing cities and parts of the US that I rarely see, and generally trying to do something more with my time than simply follow the airport-hotel-customer-airport routine. In addition, while I often find myself rather busy, I sometimes get stuck in a city with nothing to do and nobody I know in the area.
So I’ll be doing some travel blogging. Part of this will be reporting on where I’ve been and what I’ve done, but another part will be letting folks know where I’m going. If you live in or near the city that I’m traveling to, drop me an email (I get email on my phone, so I’ll be able to get it anywhere). If I have time in a city and nothing to do, I just might be interested in heading out for a beer to discuss parenting, politics, beer, Purdue, or just about any other subject under the sun. Or, if you simply have any particular knowledge or recommendations for the city I’m visiting, let me know, as I’m always looking for the local specialties.
This coming week I’ll be getting into Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon, and leaving there on Wednesday afternoon. I head from there to the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area, sticking around until Friday when I fly back to California. I’ll be dropping off some beer for a local homebrew competition in Pittsburgh and sampling the food and brews of Hereford & Hops, but still have no good leads on where to dine and drink in Cedar Rapids.