Wednesday, October 29, 2003


This is the city. Los Angeles, California. I work here. It's a city devastated by many natural disasters. Fires ravage the surrounding areas of the city closing many airports, and other roadways. The devastation included many homes, neighborhoods, and entire communities. The fiery blaze can be seen in the distance, and to the untrained eye, nature's fury masquerades as hell on earth. Far in the distance, the smoke billows from the mountains. My phone started ringing at an unusual hour of the morning. When that happens, I go to work. I got a call to attend a meeting out of state next week, but I'm grounded in Los Angeles until then. The story you have heard is true. The names haven't been changed, because I didn't use any. It was Wednesday. It was humid and hazy and snowing ashes in Los Angeles. I am a Road Warrior, and I carry a laptop. Later.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Rising From The Ashes

I escaped from San Diego county, but the devastation of Southern California continues. It was an eerie drive up the coast in the semi-darkness filled with smoke and ashes. This has been one of the most harsh environments I've seen. Imagine if you will, regular Los Angeles smog to the tenth power. Not only can you see the air, but you can feel it as well. That's a bit disturbing, even for a person like me, who doesn't trust any air that I can't see. Well, after driving a few hours through the fire and brimstone, I finally got home. Due to some cancellations in my schedule, I've got more time at home this week. It's ironic that I finally get some time at home in Los Angeles in the middle of yet another natural disaster. I guess I just can't catch a break. The plot (and the air around here) thickens. It's a bit curious, though. I have this morbid urge to get a look at the fire from an aerial view. Yes, I actually want to get on an airplane. I think I'm going to be ill... Later.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Dining On Ashes

I've truly achieved the title of Master Of Disasters. After all, what kind of fool would be the only one on the freeway going into a city that's being evacuated? Me, that's who! I'm at a conference in San Diego tonight, and most of the county is on fire, and various parts are being evacuated. It's just like the winter -- except for the fact that it's warm, and snowing ashes all over the place. Far in the distance, you can see the fires burning bright. Kind of like having your own version of hell in the distance. It's a really surreal feeling. When I was setting up earlier this afternoon, many of the people who live north of San Diego were mentioning that they couldn't get home, due to all of the freeway closures. It's amazing. They closed the airport, so I'm doing a solo act at the moment, since my colleagues couldn't get in today. Early this morning, I finished writing the second installment to my Changing Times editorial, and I do recall saying something about being in the middle of many disasters. Well, I guess I spoke too soon. Here's another one for the books. Let's hope I don't need to evacuate before I'm done on Tuesday. I knew I was getting burnt out, but this is ridiculous. Later.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Alarms Don't Go Off In Weiner-Mobiles

I was shopping in the Baltimore area with a friend earlier this week. When we finished with our meetings, we stopped at Westfield Mall in Annapolis. We heard a car alarm go off as I opened the door to my rental car. As a seasoned road warrior, I often get cars with cool little clicker gadgets that turn on the alarm or open the trunk. I love gadgets. They're really cool. But I digress... This time round, the rental car company must have been running out of cars, because they gave me a downgrade into a really small red car, which we christened the weinermobile. When you have a Geo Metro-sized vehicle, you can bet that it doesn't come standard with an alarm system and cool clicker gadgets. After all, alarms don't go off in weinermobiles. It must be the fact that I'm a realtively short person, because logic never seems to prevail in any travel occurrence. That's why I get convertibles during the winter in the northeast, and minivans for which I can't reach the pedals in Canada. Oh, well. Later.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Honey, I Shrunk The Rows

I was doing some light reading, and found an interesting article that sums up some of the worst airline seats. Having flown all of these airlines, I agree. The cramped quarters on these airlines is intolerable. Contrary to popular belief, I don't fly in first class on every flight. There have been way too many times when I have been crammed in a coach center seat, with the person in front of me leaning back to crush my knees. I just had one of those wonderful experiences on America West today. They may not top the list, but traveling coach in center seats is really, really bad. I agree with the article. I prefer American Airlines with the wider rows. Anyhow, it took over 12 hours for me to get home once again. Despite the good trip up to Baltimore, I'm still ready for retirement. It's always been a long road home lately, and I think my day is finally over. I'm ready for some new challenges on the ground. Later.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Baltimore, Once More

I'm back in Baltimore, yet again. I'm stuck here until Friday, so I've holed up in a nearby airport hotel. I had the strangest experience on the way up. I came through Atlanta, and we naturally arrived late for the connecting flight. As I exited the aircraft in Atlanta, preparing for my long sprint across multiple terminals for a flight that was supposed to leave in ten minutes, I noticed that the gate was in the same concourse. Not only in the same concourse, but the same gate, as well. In all my years, I don't think that's ever happened to me before. I was actually using the same aircraft for a different flight. That was just incredible. Even though I arrived after midnight, and had to settle for take out food, the journey has been worth it. Time to pound the pavement again tomorrow, but until then, I'm enjoying the fact that I'm in the same hotel room for three whole days. After all these years, it just doesn't get any better than this. For every thing, there is a first time. I know, I know. It's not over yet. But, if only every trip started this way. . . Later.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Slowing Down

I took a vacation today, which really means that I had a whole lot of personal stuff going on in my life, so I couldn't get myself onto an airplane. I'm doing a cross-country tour tomorrow, so I guess that more than makes up for it. I've been considering scaling back a bit, as I have started to feel like I'm actually aging. I already written about my "dog years" theory in one of my editorials, so I'll leave the explanation to that. Also, it's starting to feel a bit monotonous. Kind of weird, huh? I mean, it's a different city every day or every few days. I feel like a moving target. That met my needs a few years ago, when I needed to be a moving target. My needs have changed, and I think it's time for me to start some new challenges. Don't worry. I'll still be here, reporting my misadventures from various ends of the country. After all, scaled back or not, once a road warrior, always a road warrior. Let's go to Baltimore -- yet again! Later.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

The Pavement Pounds Back

I was just in Las Vegas on business. By the way, that is one of the most tortuous places to be on business. It is meant to be a vacation town, and there are way too many temptations there. But, I digress... I returned home without quite returning home. What do I mean by that, you ask? Well, it was time for a local trip. What a concept! I had to pound the pavement in Los Angeles, traveling to a site that was *gasp* just a few miles from my house. For some reason, the work day just seemed incomplete without the obligatory strip search and magnetic wand treatment. I used my own car, which was an unusual experience as well. It's a great car, and really fun to drive. I never realized it before. It's much better than all of the car rentals lately. For some weird reason, I'm a little more tired than usual. Maybe it's the local area that is the life-draining experience. Or maybe it's some of the other stuff going on at work. In any event, I'm back for another round of this tomorrow. Later.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

The Great Luggage Race

My luggage and I raced home today. My luggage won, and I came in a distant second. The airline decided to bump me onto a different routing, thanks to a flight delay which would have caused me to get stuck in Atlanta. I guess they realized that I didn't like getting stuck in Atlanta more than ten times in a year. At any rate, my luggage actually made all the appropriate connections, but I didn't. I got back to LAX a little while ago, and for the first time in many moons, my luggage was actually waiting for me. Now, things like that just don't happen to people like me. Hey, I also got a travel voucher out of the whole experience, too. Amazing, isn't it? And just what I needed. *sarcastic grin* Traveling for vacation? What a concept! I need that as much as I need another hole in my head. ;-) Later.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Miracles Of Modern Medicine

Traveling while ill is one of the worst possible things you can do. However, when hundreds of people are depending upon you to deliver various presentations at a conference, you just can't ignore it. So, I caught yet another cold from a combination of various sick people around me, and being trapped in a sealed large Tylenol-shaped tube for over eight hours. Even my trusty sidekick, Demo Duck, couldn't help me get through this week. I found several miracle drugs, including Advil, DayQuil. and Claratin, but I probably cancelled a few of them out by taking all of them at the same time. Oh, well. Maybe Demo Duck can quack through my presentation tomorrow. Time for more drugs. Then, I need to get out of Philly tomorrow. Another meeting awaits in lovely Las Vegas on Sunday. If I have to get on another plane, I think my head will explode, so maybe I'll get lucky, and someone will shoot me before then. Later.

Friday, October 03, 2003

They All Say D'oh

I didn't see Homer Simpson while I was in Springfield. Disappointing, to say the least. However, I did have the cartoonish adventure through security. I forgot the pain of being in a small town airport once again. You can't wear belts, shoes, pants or underwear through the metal detector, or it will go off. I got to the airport, and for the first time in quite a while, I beeped through the metal detector. What set it off, you ask? Well, it wasn't the shoes, since I put them through the x-ray. It wasn't the belt, since that went through, too. It wasn't anything in my pockets, since all of that stuff went into one of those plastic tubs. The suspense is killing you, I bet. Well, it was the little hook on my pants. You know, the little metal hook that they put there in place of a button. What fun. I had to undo my pants, just so the TSA guy could get a look at my underwear once again. D'oh. As Chief Wiggum once said, "That's what they all say. They all say d'oh." Later.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

There's No Place Like Springfield . . .

. . . but this time, we're in Springfield, IL. Getting there is half the fun, but only if you share the ride. After Tampa, I caught an early flight to Detroit. Had a great dinner at a restaurant near the spot that Jimmy Hoffa disappeared, and then moved on to the journey into Springfield. Let me tell you that it was a strange adventure. I was on standby on United -- as you already know, for me, having my eyes gouged out seems to be a more pleasant experience than riding on United. Anyhow, I got to Chicago relatively early. Unfortunately, the escape from Chicago proved quite difficult. Apparently, one of the planes caught fire on the runway in Chicago, and there were convicts on the plane. Evacuation proved difficult, so they shut down a runway and closed a few flights, and others were delayed. After a long delay, and a dramatic standby experience for my colleague who got bumped from the earlier flight, my colleagues and I finally got to Springfield. When we landed, it was dark outside, and we didn't see too many sites, other than the TJ Maxx nearby. But even in the middle of the night, there's no place like Springfield. Later.