Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Going to New Orleans

Pipi and I are leaving for New Orleans tomorrow. We’re going to see the Jazz Festival, which we’ve done once before, but we also hope to see some of the city this time. The last time we went, we almost literally did nothing but attend the festival. This year we’ve allowed a little more free time to be tourists.

I probably won’t bring my computer with me, so I won’t be blogging regularly until I’m back. Have a good week!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Technical Difficulties

I’m sorry about the outage. I’ve been working on two projects again, destination descriptions and another cookbook. And we’re getting ready to go on a trip, so it has been a little crazy. I’m really looking forward to this vacation!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I got a mouth in the mail today. I think I’m about half-way toward a complete Mr. Potato head now. I’ve got: eyes, ears, a mouth, and one arm. I think I just need the other arm, a nose, and feet. And an explanation for all of this.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fun Fact

The name “Boca Raton,” as in the resort town near Miami, means “Rat’s Mouth” in Spanish.

Did everyone in Florida take French in high school?

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Horror

Today I got two plastic eyeballs in the mail. There was a press release with them that had a headline about how this new Toy Story ride is going to be “eye-popping.”

There’s always some kind of connection between the press release and the enclosed body part, which does not, in my opinion, make it any less morbid.

The interesting thing is that each of the three boxes I’ve gotten shows evidence of having been opened roughly. But no one ever takes the pieces. Which goes to show that even mail thieves don’t want any part of this P.R. campaign.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Make it Stop

I got another box from Disney today. It had a little plastic arm in it. Just one. The right one, I think. I’m not kidding. This is really getting creepy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This Just In:

Computers and water don't mix.

Yesterday, I was upset about having to pay a self-employment tax. Here's another cost of self-employment: If you do something really, really stupid, you have to pay to fix it yourself.

If, for instance, you manage to spill a big glass of water all over your laptop and corrode parts of your motherboard, optical drive, and other important-sounding things (my computer could see? Who knew?), your boss doesn't have to make room in the budget for repairs. You do.

Fortunately, my little Mac is not a total loss. It looks like the hard drive is intact, and the wet parts are replaceable for less than it would cost to buy a new laptop. We have another computer in the house, so I'm not out of work while mine is in the shop. Best of all, I had time to back up all my previous week's work before the screen went black, so I didn't lose any current projects.

Also, the nice man at the Apple store in Emeryville told me a story that made me realize it could have been worse: He said he helped a woman who had spilled wine in her laptop, which gummed everything up so badly the machine couldn't be salvaged. So she bought a new computer. Two weeks later she did it again. I'm pretty confident something like this won't happen to me because I'm never, ever going to put anything even slightly moist, much less liquid, anywhere near my computer again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax Day

Well, that wasn't much fun. Even though I kept careful records and organized my receipts, it wasn't easy to get my taxes done this year, even with professional help. But they're done and mailed, so I don't have to worry about it again for a while. And that's a good thing, too. The whole process was an awful lot of fuss over a depressingly small amount of money.

This morning, after I'd made copies of all my paperwork, I took the tax forms to the post office to mail. On my way there, I saw a woman who appeared to be a professional can collector asking a homeless man slumped on the steps where the nearest H&R Block office was.

Not surprisingly, the homeless guy wasn't all that helpful. But the two of them, especially the can lady just barely scraping by yet apparently still wanting to do the right thing and pay her taxes, really helped put my situation in perspective.

Imagine how difficult THAT return was to compile.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bad Publicity

I used to write about Disney a lot when I worked at Travelocity. I enjoyed that for the most part, especially since I got to travel to the parks sometimes. I went to Disney World twice, Disneyland once, and Even Disneyland Paris on one surreal occasion.

Because of this relationship, Disney kept me on their mailing list even after I started freelancing. So I’m used to getting press releases, photos, and, every Christmas, a calendar in the mail from them.

None of this prepared me for this afternoon when I opened up a cardboard box about the size of a desk calendar, mailed from Orlando. (In April? Funny.) What was inside, though, wasn’t a calendar. It was a press release about a Toy Story-themed ride that will be opening soon at one of the parks….and a pair of disembodied Mr. Potato Head ears.

This really disturbed me. It looked like something the Mafia would do, or a serial-killer trophy. Why just the ears? Is there a deaf little Mr. Potato Head somewhere being tortured for my benefit? (“And if you don’t pay up, lady, we’ll stick his mouth on upside down!”) It doesn’t make sense and I want it to stop. I don’t want any trouble. I just want Mr. Potato Head to come home safely.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I just got the word that Perfect Escapes wants me to write more destination descriptions for them. This is excellent news financially and professionally, but a disaster from a time management standpoint. Pipi’s birthday is Friday, so we were planning to make a long weekend of it by both taking the day off. Oh well. You always appreciate time off when there’s something else you really should be doing.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What’s Going on Here?

And now Skybus has gone out of business. I wasn’t familiar with them. It’s just surprising to me because it’s the third airline in about a week to cease operations.

Somewhere—I think in a box in my parents’ attic—I have a number of those little plastic pilot wings they give children on airplanes. I know I have several from now-defunct carriers, like TWA and Eastern. I wish I’d been more aggressive about collecting these because I know I’ve flown other airlines that are no longer in business.

Oh, oh. Is it me?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Mahalo to Aloha Airlines

The news of Aloha Airlines’ closing also surprised me. This didn’t feel quite as personal, but Pipi and I have flown Aloha, so I was a little nostalgic.

It was the one time I’ve ever been to Hawaii, which felt luxurious enough. It was also one of the few times I’ve ever traveled in anything other than coach. First class on Aloha was sort of first-class lite, but it was a very enjoyable trip. The attendant in the front cabin was a particularly handsome and charming man who knelt down in the aisle next to our row and introduced himself, whispering like his name was a secret that he was only going to tell the two of us. Ice cream was served during one of the movies, and we got a bottomless container of macadamia nuts to share. (It wasn’t really bottomless, of course; our partner in crime just kept refilling it as fast as we could gobble.)

Later, Pipi and I confessed to each other that as we landed, we’d both been secretly wishing the flight were longer. That’s the only time in my adult life I’ve ever had that thought. So I wish all those Aloha employees well, too, especially our friend who was so generous with the macadamia nuts. I hope he lands on his feet.

And I hope my attempt to eat enough nuts to make up for the cost of the upgrade didn’t have anything to do with the airline’s demise.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Back on Track

By the way, I do apologize for going dark earlier in the week. I was working on two projects at once, both of which were paying gigs, so I had to let something else slide. (It was either the blog or litter-box maintenance. The guys thank you for your patience.)

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I just saw the surprising news that ATA ceased operations today.

This news surprised me for many reasons. For one, it follows the shutdown of Aloha Airlines so quickly that when I saw the headline about “Major Airline Folding,” I thought to myself, “Why are they still writing about Aloha? That news is so three days ago.”

Another reason I was surprised is that I can’t remember ever seeing an airline shut down so abruptly without being in bankruptcy. ATA had filed Chapter 11 in the past, but came out of it. I have always thought that if an airline was not in the process of reorganizing, you could depend on it to keep running, but clearly I was wrong about that.

The biggest reason this news shocks me is that my father flew for this airline for many years, so ATA feels like part of the family. Luckily for my father, he retired about a year ago, so he at least got to make a graceful, planned exit—no cardboard box full of personal effects delivered by a guard for him. Still, I think a lot of ex-employees are getting these boxes shoved at them today, so let’s take a moment to remember the late, great ATA and its employees.