Sunday, December 30, 2012

1K Weekend

So I have a confession to make.

I'm a little bit of a mileage whore.  I'm not Flyer Talk crazy, but I do enjoy my status on United quite a bit.  And while I'm typically Premier Platinum, I usually don't make the 1K status where the really good perks are.  So I decided to do a mileage run in order to make 1K this year.

And my run?

Depart Washington Dulles at 540PM on Friday.  Arrive Johannesburg South Africa at 545PM on Saturday (after a stop in Dakkar Senegal).  Depart Jberg at 9PM on Saturday and arrive in Zurich on Sunday at 6AM.  Depart Zurich at 9AM.  Arrive Brussels at 1020AM.  Depart Brussels at 1230 and arriver Washington Dulles at 245PM on Sunday.  So basically my weekend.

Part 1:  Some where over West Africa:

So far so good.   I did manage to get a little sleep.  My persistent little cold isn't killing me yet.  Thank goodness for NyQuil.  And DayQuil.  I was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me.  So that was nice.

There is a church youth group on the plane.  They are fun.  But they are talkers.  And even the noise canceling head phones aren't enough.   But they are nice kids.

I should be in Paris now.   That's what I'm used to.  An overnight hop across the pond and then arriving at Charles de Gaulle.

Dakkar is not Paris.  I don't have a window seat, so I can only see a little bit outside the window.  But it looks like what you expect.  A tropical feel with palm trees.  Low rise buildings.  Made from cement blocks.   When we left we passed over the ocean and the beach looked nice.

Some people got off at Dakkar.  And some got on.   I still have my empty seat.  So that's good.

The flight map is so weird.   I'm expecting Dublin, London, Amsterdam.  And instead I have Banjul, Bamako, Conakry.   Places I've never heard of.

Another 8 hours to Jberg.  We should arrive early.  I got my boarding pass for my next flight.   So that's good.

Part 2:  Africa Hot

Holy cow.    A long flight. 

So it's summer here in South Africa.   It's hot, it's humid, and like DC, they get thunderstorms in Jberg.    We had managed to dodge most of them, but as we made our descent, we hit a bad pocket.   The plane dropped a good 30 feet.  It was not pretty.  And I had the death grip on the seat handles.   One of the flight attendants broke his leg.  So it was definitely not fun.  

But landed safely, to many applause.   International transfers, cleared customers.  And I've got boarding passes for the rest of the trip. So that's good.

It's hot. Africa hot.   So I hit the gift shops for a pair of shorts and a t shirt.  I have no idea how much I paid.  350 rands?  Whatever.   I really, really, really hope I can find a shower at the lounge in Zurich.  Otherwise I'm going to be ripe by the time I get home.  

Had an iPad problem and now I can't watch my movies.   Not good.  Hopefully I can figure out what the problem is.  Glad I brought some books. 

The next flight is the worst.  10 hours.  But I struggle on.  

Part 3:  Entering Libyan Airspace

Interesting fact.   The Johanesburg airport is 6500 feet above sea level.  At that altitude, the planes can't fully load up on fuel.  They are too heavy to take off.  So for the really long flights to Washington or NYC, they have to stop some place to get fuel.  Hence Dakkar. 

The Swiss Air plane is nice than the South African Airline plan.  Maybe newer.  The business class (which is not full!) has a cool Ikea like vibe to it.

So we are somewhere over the Sahara desert and about to enter Libyan airspace.  More cool names on the map:  Kano, N Djamena, Agadez.   

So I've been to Egypt, Kenya, Tunisia, and Morocco.  And I would like to come back to South Africa some time.   But there are huge parts of Africa that I have no interest in.   I know the term "fly over states" can be condescending in the US, but I really do think there are a lot of "fly over countries" here in Africa. Nigeria? Rwanda? Angola?   Not exactly high on my list for vacations.  

I fixed the problem with the movies on my iPad.   So that's good.  Watched Pitch Perfect which was great.  And Total Recall.   It was different enough from the original to be interesting.   But it still kind of sucked,  though Colin Ferrell is still hot.  

My mission in Zurich is charging the iPad and getting a shower.   Needless to say my little travel adapter that is perfect for Europe didn't work at the lounge in Jberg.  I really want a shower.  Thank goodness I did bring some change of clothes.  

Part 4:  Mission Status

Successfully rendezvoused with the agent in Johannesburg and picked up the package.  Exchanged package in Zurich as planned.  Being followed so I am heading hime via Brussels. 

Sorry.   Watched the Bourne Legacy on the flight and I started to feel all James Bond-ish.  

No shower in Zurich.   Or in Brussels.   Oh well.  I'm almost home.

This has been weird/fun and if, and I do mean if, I do this again, I'm not going to try to do so many miles at the last minute.  This is a little bit crazy.   

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Home for the Holidays

To the oxygen and humidity deficient Colorado Springs.

I went for a three mile walk this morning and I felt like I needed to carry my own oxygen bottle with me.  And have I mentioned how dry it is here?  It's pretty bad.  Plus, my Mom is cold all the time so the house is like a sauna.  So good times.

Let's see, where was I?

So I was actually in Charleston for my birthday.  Charleston is great.  North Charleston, where my meetings were is not.  It's really kind of sketchy/seedy/sad.  Strip malls, pawn shops, and payday loan places.  Kind of sad. 

The good news is that I caught an earlier flight out of Charleston so I actually got home at an early time and had drinks and dinner with Museum Man.  So that was fun.

And then I threw my little bday/Christmas party on the following Friday which was fun.  We had champagne with mixers and Barbi-tini's.  Don't ask.  And amazingly enough I didn't wake up with a hangover.  So that was good.

It looks like it will snow here Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day.  That's great.  As long as I can get my flight back on the 26th!

Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


If You Were Born Today, December 12:

You have a distinctly dual nature that, at your best, makes you versatile, and at your worst, downright confused (and confusing!). While a great lover of peace and harmony, you are also determined and fiery. While idealistic, you mostly have your feet on the ground. In relationships, the need for partnering and cooperating is strong, but freedom also matters to you. You are a natural counsellor, offering excellent advice. There is usually quite a bit of drama and colorful emotion in your relationships, whether it's because you bring this to the table or attract these kinds of people.Famous people born today: Frank Sinatra, Edward Koch, Connie Francis, Jennifer Connelly, Bridget Hall, Bob Barker, Dionne Warwick.

Your Birthday Year Forecast:

This is a year when you are likely closing important projects or "chapters" in your life. It's not the best year for major new beginnings. The year, in a general sense, is best used as a meditative time for inner searching. It is a time for letting go of the past in order to prepare for the new. Although the new is still totally unrecognizable, it is important to permit the necessary surrender to the unknown.
Work is solid this year, and you can see results from your efforts, or at least foresee success down the road. This gives you a sense of responsibility and a feeling of directedness and purposefulness. Traditional methods work, and thoroughness brings rewards. Practice or refining a technique is favored this year. The approach that seems to work best with this aspect is a step-by-step one, with modest ambitions and the appreciation of slow but steady progress.
You are very likely to attract loving relationships and/or new warm social contacts into your life. Your popularity increases and efforts to smooth over challenges in partnerships are more likely to succeed. It's a good period for negotiations, marriage, and business partnerships. You are more able to find others who share your values or tastes, and your charisma runs high this year.
You are able to find new insight into old problems, and your thinking processes during this period are likely to be especially original. This is a good year for projects involving technology or New Age topics. You may find more opportunities to attend meetings and other organized group activities, to communicate online, and to take part in activities involving computers, science, or metaphysics. Relationships with younger people in your life are rewarding. A subject or even a person can be especially inspiring, prompting you to explore new perspectives. Nevertheless, there can be some disappointments with friends, and it's important to keep your wits about you. Also, ignoring important details of your plans can have consequences. Aim for clarity.
Intensity characterizes your personal relationships and romantic attachments. Passions, feelings of jealousy, and possessiveness run high, and these emotions are in direct proportion to fear of losing someone. You are likely to have to deal with these emotions in yourself, but you may also need to handle the jealousies and possessiveness of a partner. You may have some tension over your personal finances, and/or need to make a large payment that necessitates changes in your spending habits. Finances may be complicated or there could be power struggles with money.
This is likely to be an especially stimulating year on social and intellectual levels. Your charisma is strong, and you can enjoy good company that reinforces your own values. Nevertheless, you are likely closing important projects. Try to tame escapist and compulsive tendencies this year.

2012 is a Number Two year for you. Ruled by the Moon. This is a year of potential companionship. It is a quiet, gentle, and mostly harmonious year that is less active than other years. Instead, you are more responsive to the needs of others. If you are patient and open yourself up in a gentle manner, you will attract both things and people. This is an excellent year in which to build and develop for the future. Advice - be patient, be receptive, enjoy the peace, collect.
2013 will be a Number Three year for you. Ruled by Jupiter. This is a year of sociability. It is a friendly time, when it is easy to enjoy life and other people. Focus is on personal freedom, reaching out to others, making new friends, and exploration. You are more enthusiastic and ready for adventure. It is likely to be a rather lighthearted year, when opportunities for "play" time are greater than usual. It's also a good year for expressing your creativity. Advice - reach out, but avoid scattering your energies.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Christmas Lights?

So I was walking Suki the other night and I noticed that the "Church" of Scientology around the block from me had Christmas lights on it.

And I was sort of like WTF?  Fairly certain that they don't believe in Christmas, God, or Jesus.  So what was the deal with the lights.

And I don't know a single church that decorates with Christmas lights.

So I texted my sister.

And her response was priceless.

"Because it's a business, not a church."

Of course.