Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Too Lazy To Think Of A Title

When it’s 4 am and you’re jetlagged beyond belief, it’s hard to think of other topics to write about besides planes. If asked at the current moment, I would describe them as the bane of my existence, since this jetlag will no doubt cost me dearly once I head into work in another couple hours. Planes are too easy of a target anyway, which is maybe why it seemed appropriate to write this, although maybe the time of day when it was written could have been slightly improved.

With that preface, I’d like to hand out a few hard-earned and well-deserved awards to individuals I have been around on recent flights over the past month or so.

The “Fight to the Finish” Award goes to the Russian gentleman in front of me all the way from Atlanta to Moscow. The seat next to him was empty, so in an effort to maximize his comfort level, he spent the ensuing 11 hours shifting, squirming, flailing, turning, leaning and spinning in order to find that ONE comfortable position. Due to the fact that he changed positions completely every 20-30 seconds, I’m not convinced he found that position, but give credit where credit is due – the man is a fighter. For 11 hours. Not stopping. Ever. Even for a little bit.

The “Winning Friends and Influencing People” Award couldn’t go to anyone else besides this lady in first class from New York to Salt Lake City. Already well-hydrated with all sorts of alcoholic beverages by the time we boarded, she would not be denied a conversation with all her surrounding neighbors at 120+ decibels. Did boarding the plane stop the booze intake? Please. It’s like asking if going to a buffet is good for dieting.

The “Still To This Minute I Have No Idea What The Heck Good That Is Going To Do” Award is usually the one with the most candidates, but none this time more deserving than the flight attendant lady from St. Petersburg to Moscow. As we approached landing in Moscow, she did want any well-trained stewardess would do – go up and down the aisle asking everyone to open their window. I was counted among the offending parties with my window down until the long arm of justice required me to open it. This way, we can all clearly see the ground when we slam into it. I get it.

Speaking of slamming into the ground, the “You’ll Die Of Cardiac Arrest Long Before Ever Dying In A Plane Crash” Award goes to the one and only worthy candidate on board the flight from Long Beach to Salt Lake City. To her defense, we did hit industry-termed “rough air”, but let’s be honest for two seconds: you clenching your armrests in utter terror each and every dip we take won’t be saving your life, especially since if we did go down, you’d probably hit the ground going 500 mph. I assure you, the obituary wont’ read, “If only she had held on tighter…”

And once again, speaking of slamming into the ground (my apologies to those reading who have a fear of flying), the “No Seriously, We Get It” Award goes to the Federal Aviation Administration for STILL telling AND demonstrating how to use a seatbelt. Even if I had never been in any car, truck, van, or one of a myriad of amusement park rides, I would bet a large sum of money I could figure out how the thing was fastened. But not released, so it’s good they still tell us how to do that. Thank heaven.

The “Horrible” Award goes to the freaking sandwich I was fed from Moscow to New York.

And finally, the Best of Show Award, aptly titled the “Pantene Pro-V” Award goes out to the large Polynesian man flying from Long Beach to Salt Lake City. His lion’s mane of hair had likely gone unshampooed for the better part of the 2010 calendar year, which didn’t stop him from asking the previously unknown girl next to him if she could braid his hair on both sides of his head. “Like Pippy Longstocking?” she asked. Once the braid on his left side was done, he was up out of his seat and spun around so she could braid the other side. And this was all sitting on the tarmac before takeoff.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Johnny the Cable Maintenance Guy

To this point in my life, as mentioned before, I have yet to lay claim to the title of most technology-savvy human, and doubtfully this will ever occur at any point in the future. For this reason, I was totally fine with waiting for the cable company to send out a guy to set up internet in our apartment, which was fantastic for two reasons: 1) the internet is actually working and 2) I would have otherwise never had the opportunity to meet Johnny the cable maintenance man, who in my opinion, could be the single most bizarre person I’ve ever met.

When Johnny came rocking up on the scene Saturday morning, the first thing I noticed is that he’s wearing a utility belt that puts Batman’s to utter shame. Johnny was maybe 5’3’’ tops, so that in itself further accentuated the fact that this utility belt was massive and could have contained anything from several sewing machines to a small child. I was at first unsure whether he was setting up internet or summiting K2, but after he proudly flashed his badge 3-4 times in the first 10 seconds, I let him in.

Immediately after entering, he ditched the utility belt and let it crash to the floor, lightly registering on the Richter scale (starring Charlton Heston. You know it’s gonna be great). Standing in the main room, he took a long hard look at our TV, then proceeded to ask us how many TVs we had in the apartment.

“One, just this one,” was the answer.

“Ok so no other televisions are around?”

“Uh nope, this is it.”

“Ok…so it looks like you’ve got a box here. Is that supposed to be for another TV that you have set up in the apartment?”

“No man, this is the TV. The one. The only. Of all the TVs that ever were made in this world, we have one, and here it is.”

I don’t know that we ever fully convinced him that we weren’t secretly hiding more TVs in this apartment, and why that made a difference, I don’t have the slightest clue, like if we had two TVs hooked up, he’s gonna have to drill for oil or create a small hydroelectric plant downstairs to power this.

Johnny’s next step was to find every opportunity to let us know that this setup process was “so easy a fifth-grader could do it”. Why fifth grade? Because you apparently have to know your states and caps first before installing internet connections. I wasn’t about to try it on my own – I mean, like I've said before, I know the basics essentials about computers: email, the internet, Paint, etc., but I figured rather than me somehow mistakenly wiring my router to the shower head, I’d have someone else just do it. Ironically, after announcing multiple times this was easy enough for fifth-graders, Johnny spent the next fifteen minutes on the phone troubleshooting some issue since we weren’t getting a signal. I held back on several sarcastic comments aimed at Johnny.

Johnny definitely had a thing for our TV, since he then wanted to talk to me about all the cable channels we could be getting. Pulling out the list of channels from his Mary Poppins utility belt, he explained to me that the channels in the 400’s were HD, and then had the heart to break the news to me that our current TV was in fact, not HD, and mentioned several times that we would need an HD TV if we wanted to pick up those channels.

And to think…ALL THIS TIME I was under the assumption we were watching high definition television on our 25’ Sharp TV, bulging square screen and all. It wasn’t until Johnny taught us about what an HD television was that I realized that just because HD exists doesn’t mean you’re getting it automatically streamed to your (one, I promise) TV that was made a good decade before HD was ever an option. Johnny truly was a well of knowledge that we just couldn’t get enough of.

After a while, we got it up and running, all thanks to Johnny. It made me realize, that if more people were like Johnny, this world would definitely be much more informed on the intricacies of HD, and we’d definitely have a better census count on how many TVs are actually out there in our homes. So here’s to you Johnny, Mr. Ridiculously Over-Eager Cable Guy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Top 5 Travel Moments

I don’t think it’s a massive secret that if you hang out in an airport for even a short amount of time, you’re going to run into some interesting people. On my latest trip to visit my friends Nate and Briana in Washington DC (picture included for proof), one layover consisted of listening to a man from Alaska talk about moose hunting and getting attacked by two grizz (apparently that means grizzly bears) which he successfully killed, with 14 bullets and 21 bullets respectively. The way his story was going, I was expecting him to mention a third grizz which he had to kill with a 3-inch Swiss Army knife and a fish hook after running out of bullets, but (un)fortunately it was my time to board.

In light of this trip, I’ve compiled a “Top 5 Travel Moments”, with a special embedded Top 5 within a Top 5, as you’ll see later. Without further ado, the list:

1) Terrified Lady. The flight out to DC was fairly rough (turbulent, if you will) since it was pretty stormy for a good portion of the trip. Luckily the little seat belt light was all aglow to prevent us from being thrown hither and thither around the plane. The security of the seat belt was not enough for the lady directly in front of me, however; every time there was any inkling of a bump, she was bracing herself for impact by ramming her hand into the window and gripping the armrest. Lady, hate to tell you, but if this guy’s going down, we’re all goners.

2) Russian kid march. The flight from Atlanta to SLC was packed with Russians, and the Russian kids were hating this flight, screaming and crying for basically the whole 3 ½ hours. The solution? March the kids up and down the isle for the entire flight. Stand up, sit down, go visit Mom in the back, go sit on Dad’s lap in the front, run up and down the isle to randomly scream at whomever. You have to love Russians for that.

3) Two Words: Sky Mall. I read the Late Spring 2009 issue cover to cover at least twice, and here is my “Top 5 Most Ridiculous Things That I Almost Guarantee No One Would Buy Except Obviously Someone Does Because They Keep It In Print For Every Sky Mall Issue”:

1 – Bigfoot Garden Yeti Sculpture. Sadly there are 7 pages of customer reviews associated with that product.

2 – Head Spa Massager. Are you alleviating stress…or getting assimilated by the Borg?

3 – NeckPro Traction Device. As my friend JD aptly pointed out, this is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

4 – Stealth Secret Sound Amplifier. Now you can be that annoying guy til the day you die.

5 – SkyRest pillow. Excuse me while I inflate this hot air balloon.

4) The Infuriated Man. The flight from Washington to Atlanta was on a small plane, so they took our carry-on luggage to put in the bottom plane, which meant we waited for about 5 minutes at the gate when we landed for them to bring our bags back to us. As the group gathered around waiting for the luggage, one guy got off the plane and asked us what we were waiting for. We told him, to which he angrily responded, “That’s ----ing terrible. Holy ----. I can’t believe they ----ing made you do that.” Ok pal, settle down. It’s not that bad, and no one asked you to stand around and wait too.

5) Lost Pilot. The flight to Atlanta, or at least I assumed Atlanta since that’s what my ticket said. “This is your pilot. We’re on the approach now to Alabama from the northeast…err…southwest…south-southwest. Uh, to Atlanta, excuse me. And it will be from the east. Actually, we’ll be approaching from the southeast.” Ok, you know what? I don’t really care what direction we approach from. Just don’t land this plane in Alabama.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Hundred Day Countdown

I wouldn’t consider myself the most technology savvy person to walk the face of the earth, but I do know enough about computers to get by.  For example, I know how to check my email, use Paint, and apparently, know enough to be able to add a rather stylish countdown timer to my Google Desktop.  This very countdown is the driving force behind this post – as it is set right now, it’s showing that tomorrow marks 100 days until BYU football.  Hallelujah.

Taking a step back, however, let’s glance at football in general.  Has there been a greater thing ever invented since this?  And speaking of that, why do we always use bread as a comparison?  Don’t get me wrong, I love sandwiches as my college student diet consisted of about 50-75 per week, but really…In any case, the sport of football reigns king over all others, most specifically baseball, which I would like to briefly address.

Top 5 Reasons Football Thoroughly Dominates Baseball

1)      Length of season.  162 games + postseason.  Do they really need THAT many games to determine who’s good?  I love football, but I can’t imagine watching my team play at least 162 times in one year.  It’s too much of a good thing, the only difference being, in baseball, it’s too much of a terrible thing.

2)      Rivalry.  Speaking of too many games, when you play your rival 20 times in one season, it kinda loses its luster.  Argue all you want, Red Sox/Yankees fans, but my guess is you’d be a little more nervous if 365 days worth of bragging rights hinged on 60 minutes of game time. 

3)      Uniforms of managers.  This is my personal favorite.  Who decided that old, overweight men acting as managers should be clad in the same tight pants that their younger, more athletic counterparts are wearing?  Imagine, Stan Van Gundy sitting on Orlando’s bench wearing shorts and a jersey, or better yet, imagine Charlie Weis suiting up in pads and a helmet (for the first time since high school) as he waddles around Notre Dame’s sideline.

4)      The Sunflower Seed Effect.  If you can continually ram copious amounts of sunflower seeds into your mouth and skillfully crack the shell to remove the seed, all while playing your sport, chances are something is terribly wrong.  It’s like people who are doing homework problems while sitting back on reclining stationary bikes at the gym – that’s great, but you’re probably not burning too many calories.  To prove my point, next time you’re playing football, try and be effective with a cheek-full of seeds (and do it without requiring use of the Heimlich maneuver).

5)      Because it’s football.  Why is baseball severely inferior to football?  That’s just it – because it’s football.  Hitting, touchdowning, tailgating, fall weathering, fight song singing, Ute hating, etc.  That’s what makes America great.  Unfortunately for the next 100 days, I’ll be slammed with nothing but baseball highlights (holy crap, it’s ANOTHER 6-4-3 double play…) delivered by Jon Kruk looking as unqualified as ever.  Only 100 days…only 100 days…

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A follow-up to the previous post: A Gallery of Swings brought to you by Diego's Restaurant and Phil's wedding on June 12.  May I add that each of us more or less drilled it right down the middle of the fairway.

Jon  Erik With a K

 Nate  Yours Truly

 Jess(ff) (S)Haddow Bruce

 G. Phil

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sub-par Is What We Aim For

Taking golf lessons as a younger kid was a blast.  In fact, the closest I’ve ever gotten to a hole-in-one was the second hole of golf I ever played.  Davis Park, #2.  It’s a par 3, and could probably be hit to now with a Fisher Price set, but back in the day, it required all the strength my 8-year old body could muster, along with a well-struck shot with my driver.  I planted the ball within 6 inches of the cup…and in all the holes of golf I’ve played since then, that’s as close as I’ve got.  Such is the life of a golfer.

In any case, the hardest part about learning the game of golf as a kid actually had nothing to do with swinging the club.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out the scoring rules.  The idea of the elusive par never hit home with me, and I place full blame upon society and the English language.

Take the phrase, “sub-par”.  In my experience, it’s only been when someone was nicely trying to say that something was terrible, abhorrent, or loathsome, that they have used the phrase “sub-par”.  Naturally, one would try to avoid putting those same labels on their golf game.  Scoring for me was a nightmare: between the idea that lower scores were better and sub-par was the goal, how in the world was I ever supposed to reconcile that in my 8-year old brain?  All my brain power was already being used up my multiplication tables and states and caps.

Sub-par.  Don’t get me wrong but…isn’t that what we’re all shooting for?  Isn’t this why 5-putting a par 3 is frowned upon in most circles of golfers?  Isn’t that why we all step up and try and drill the ball 300 yards down the fairway, which usually leads to us hitting the ball 300 yards to the fairway two holes to the right?  And in spite of the fact that we 5-putt and slice it like a pizza cutter, we still keep showing up to the course.  It’s a mystery as to why this is the case, and it’s probably an unsolvable one at that.

Take for example, skydiving.  Assuming you didn’t die if you slammed into the ground at terminal velocity, you would doubtfully continue to skydive on a frequent basis if you could never get your chute to open.  But yet, with golf, each time we slam into the proverbial ground at 180 mph, we keep coming back, like at some point after hundreds of jumps, we’re gonna finally get that confounded chute to open up.  

And still, there we are.  Teeing it up again like this is going to be the breakthrough round.  I may not be the best golfer in the world, but here’s something I take comfort in.  Take a quick gander at this video classic.  Thanks, Chuck, for making us all feel a little bit better about our golf games.  Make sure the volume is up to hear the thud.

So, here’s the thing.  As I’ve gotten older and played more holes of golf, I’ve finally realized two things: 1) I no longer need to pull out my driver to blast it 120 yards on #2 at Davis Park and 2) if sub-par really is used to describe bad things, I’m going to start feeling a whole lot better about my scorecard.