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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Mon
20
Nov '17

Trip Report: Boston For A Buddy

It’s going to be a quick trip, but a friend is about to turn 60…on Thanksgiving Day. I can’t be there for the holiday (I open the shop on Thanksgiving Day from 11-3), or for the party on Saturday (also working), so I thought I’d pop out for a couple of nights to hand deliver a birthday present (which I’d show you a picture of, but he might be one of those stealth blog readers and it would ruin the surprise).

I’d gotten upgraded for the return leg, but a few hours after I checked in for the outbound I got an upgrade notice for the flight to Boston. Woohoo! Rarely happens on the Boston/Seattle run since there are lots of business travelers on the route – maybe that 75K Gold status is paying dividends. The flight, booked just two weeks in advance, was $320 – and I had a $300 future flight coupon that I cashed in, so $20 for First Class roundtrip across the country.

Sadly, it’s a red-eye to Boston and an early morning flight home. Headed to the airport early to have a little dinner before the flight since I’m guessing it will just be a snack even up front.

The Alaska Lounge now has their pancake machine turned on all day – and some people are fascinated by how it works:

I’m not much of a pancake guy, so this was my meal in D concourse lounge:

Followed by a different soup in the new C concourse lounge:

Seat 1A on the way out…

And the aforementioned snack…

Can’t overdrink on the plane because I’m picking up a rental car in Boston. Sad, I know. In retrospect, I would have done this differently.

Got to Pucci’s place about 8am, and promptly went back to bed to get more than the couple of hours of sleep I got on the plane.

By the time I got up, it was time for lunch…

There was one convenience of having a car…a run to the liquor store for supplies. Pucci wants me to teach him my mother’s recipe for Manhattans. I brought orange bitters, decent cherries, vermouth, and some of my hooch, but mom always liked rye in hers if she was making them fancy.

The downside of the timing of my visit is that it’s just two nights (Monday and Tuesday) because I had company coming into town starting Wednesday, at least I did when I booked the trip. Both Monday and Tuesday are days that Pucci teaches from 3-9pm so we’ll just get lunches and drinks after work this trip.

And drink, we did, staying up to 3am Monday night. The damage:

Oh, and the one on the left is a liter bottle. Needless to say, Pucci didn’t make it to the gym in the morning. We barely had time to go out for Mexican food at Jose’s, and we were so hungry, I didn’t even get a photo of the “before”, just the “after”:

My dinner plans tonight are with Dan and Lisa from Denver. Dan works from home for a Boston-based company, and happens to be in town for a couple of weeks for work, and to see his Grandmother who evacuated Florida during the hurricane. The plan was:

  • Uber to the Alewife T Station
  • T to Government Crossing
  • Meet up with Dan and Lisa
  • Lyft to the restaurant

There was a mix up in times, and for me to be on-time (actually, 15 minutes early), I just took Uber all the way to the restaurant.

Half the time, and only $17.25! Guess how I got home.

Dinner is at Hojoko, located it The Verb Hotel. I started off with a cocktail and some edamame…

That would be the Relaxing Time Highball – a nod to Lost in Translation that I watched on my return flight from Montevideo.

Nice restaurant – with a view of the hotel pool:

We were a party of six, including one six-year-old or so…

At this point, I’d switched to the Lil’ Ume, there take on a Manhattan…

No, we didn’t get into any of the “drink buckets”…

And then the food started coming…

Above, halibut collar, below, Brains on Crack (calf sweetbreads).

Plus, lots of sashimi, tempura mushrooms, some sort of roll, and more. We did not go hungry.

We started so early that I was home via Uber before Pucci got back from teaching!

More cocktails this evening, but there was a conscious decision on both our parts to wrap it up by midnight since I have to get up at 4am to get the barely used rental car back to the airport and get checked in.

Grabbed a Croisantwich on the way to the gate – sometime to tide be over until a real breakfast on the plane…this time in seat 1F.

And said breakfast:

Not sure about the one piece of asparagus and the grilled Roma tomato, but ate the rest of it.

Got home around 1pm, and you guessed it, went back to bed for a nap.

A quick trip, but I managed to squeeze a lot in.

[222.4]

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Fri
6
Oct '17

Trip Report: Birthday By The Bay

Another weekday, another trip – this one to the Bay Area to visit Mark and Onyx, and celebrate my 61st birthday!

It’s always lots of luggage when I visit – bringing wine to the boys. A lot of stuff for three nights!

Another early morning flight….

And no upgrade to first…

But plenty of room in the overhead!

Onyx was a saint (a hungry saint) and stopped at a small burger stand on the way home.

Pretty good stuff (even if the staff is a little surly).

Got settled in and took a nap before getting rousted for a dinner of take-out Ethiopian which, for some reason, I don’t have a picture of, even though the boys had company over – must have been having too much fun.

Was up late (Mark [the other one] was up until 4am working), so slept late. Hit BevMo in the afternoon for bourbon, rye, and ginger – because at 6pm we are due at Rosenblum Cellars on the Oakland waterfront for the start of my birthday (61) evening:

Devon is a member so the first flight is on the house….

A good time was had!

Even the hipsters who are playing Giant Zynga on the lawn:

We had some little nibbles, but it was off to dinner at Marica, starting with a Beefeater Martini in honor of Pucci:

It was a fine meal…. with free mussels for the birthday party!

Followed by swordfish for several of us:

Meatballs for Devon:

Salad and Calamari for Mark (I thought about those, almost wish I’d ordered them):

A damn fine birthday meal!

Friday was a laid-back day, I took BART into town to hook up with Rache who as on a day trip to the Brazilian embassy for our upcoming trip to Uruguay in November.

Takes about 15 minutes to walk to the station, and 20-30 minutes later, you are in downtown San Francisco. I found Rache in the Ghirardelli chocolate shop having a coffee:

We headed out for an afternoon of drinking, starting at The House of Shields:

Next up is the Pied Piper (which didn’t open until 4pm):

The Pied Piper is the home of this WONDERFUL mural by Maxfield Parish:

Just the three of us having scallops and Brussel sprouts as our dinner.

All the fun came to an end with an early Saturday morning run to the Oakland Airport for my return home. Had enough time for a real breakfast at Chili’s…

Which, as it turns out, sadly I wouldn’t need when I heard my name called:

But really, all I wanted was a place to sleep, not a huge breakfast burrito and a fruit place (though it looked REALLY good).

Next week is Kansas City, and the completion of my quest for Alaska MVP Gold 75K!

[? ? ?]

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Sun
12
Feb '17

Trip Report: Back To Boston For The Miles

For the miles, and lunch with friends. This is the final Boston mileage run for the winter – I’m surprised that all of the flights actually made it there and back since Boston has serious winter weather. As it turns out, it was Seattle’s weather that almost tripped me up.

Yep, that is a snow storm in Seattle…but I’m warm inside…

But there was a huge backup in getting deiced….

Because we were on the ground for two hours, by the time we got in the air – those who were still awake were treated to free movie players, free drinks, chocolates….

We were an hour late getting into Boston – but the weather there was great:

At 10 I left the lounge (where I’d had breakfast and a nap) and headed to Harvard Square to have lunch with Pucci at Toscano (Italian).

I went for the gnocchi:

It was good to spend some “guy time” with him before heading back to the airport (and another nap or two).

At the gate, I was surprise once again with an upgrade on the return to Seattle – that’s three weeks in a row!

Even got my favorite seat! Maybe it does pay to bring chocolates for the counter staff along with the flight attendants.

Bring on the food and booze!

Grilled pear arugula salad with walnuts and blue cheese crumbles…

I opted for the blackened chicken with café au lait sauce, mashed potatoes and creamed spinach…

Finished with a Cupcake Royal mini-cupcake.

Not a bad way to end a mileage run. And for some reason, a bathroom selfie:

Home to bed for tomorrow I’m headed to the Bay Area.

[220.8]

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Mon
30
Jan '17

Trip Report: Boston Mileage Run Number One

My business partner just rolls his eyes when I mention mileage runs. Not sure what I’m talking about? CLICK HERE.

This is the first of four mileage runs I have planned this spring – all transcontinental flights, and number one is Boston. The fare was $256.00 roundtrip. That works out to 2,496 each way for a total of 4,992 flight miles, plus another 4,992 Bonus Miles for being an MVP Gold, so basically you have 10,000 miles (technically 9,984) to redeem which would be a round trip between SFO and LAX, or a little less than half for a roundtrip to Florida. End numbers — .0256 per mile which isn’t bad considering they are valued at 1.9 cents, but the way I use them I get much more value since its business class international flights where I use mile – ticket prices that I’d never pay cash for.

The schedule: Leave SEA at 9:20pm after having drinks, salad and soup in the Alaska Lounge, arrive BOS 5:30 – walk from Terminal C to Terminal B to use the Admiral’s Club, sleep for a couple of hours, get a cocktail:


I was a little surprised at the size of my whiskey/diet, but I was a trooper and finished it.

Nice lounge though…


Jill picked me up at 11 to go have lunch with Pucci at Jose’s Cantina in Cambridge. Great lunch!


After lunch, we went computer hardware shopping before stopping at Jill’s for installation (her), shower (me) before heading back to the airport.

Back at the lounge, the Mexican theme continues – there is a guy making fresh guacamole!

And one of the two soups being served was Chicken Corn Tortilla!

Return flight is at 6:20, and I’m number five on the upgrade list, so it doesn’t look good – but sometimes, miracles happen!

And even my number two favorite seat (favorite is 1C). Now if they’d just shut the back cabin door since it is turning the jetliner into a wind tunnel – I needed those layers!

Of course, I’d stuffed myself in the lounge, but I ate the dinner they served anyway:

I went for the cod…

My seatmate went for the ravioli…

Not much sleep on the way home…and then Roxy showed up, so, not much sleep in the evening as well.

Only three more mileage runs to go!

[214.6]

 

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Wed
4
Nov '15

Trip Report: Boston With Friends

My East Coast contingent has been begging for a visit so off I go (it doesn’t take much convincing, just a decent fare and hopefully an upgrade or two).

Paid more than I’d like (close to $500), but I was able to use my last two MVP Gold Upgrades for a guaranteed First Class on the Monday night red-eye to Boston, coming back through Portland on the dinner flight.

Uber’d to the airport since who knows what state I’ll be in on my return.

One of the things I really like about Alaska Airlines is their on-time rate (and best in the US for fuel efficiency):

…had a soup and salad dinner at The Board Room:

That would be (clockwise): green leaf salad with ranch and cheese cubes, molasses cookies (which I packed away for later – actually had a spare zip-lock bag courtesy of the TSA), chili, Yankee pot roast soup, whiskey/diet. On the red-eye, it’s always a crap shoot of what you will get served on-board, definitely not a full meal.

And no, that isn’t a potato, that’s a dark roll to go with the Caesar Salad.

For the first couple of hours the service up front was great, even with just one attendant working the section, but as three quarters of the cabin went to sleep – service quality died. Snack basket make a quick trip down the aisle missing me (had to go ask – and I’m in the first row aisle with the light on. Forget more drinks without asking even though there were several of us waiting TV. It seemed that the Fall Fashion issue of Elle was more important than customer service. And yes, I know flight attendant’s main duty is to protect our safety.

That said, I did log on and leave comments after I returned home about the flights going and coming, and the STARK difference in service levels in the same cabin. I’m used to the crew at American, United, Delta on the red-eyes and long international flights being happier sitting there with their reading material, but not on Alaska (usually). The return crew were all 20 year plus at Alaska and were fantastic on the dinner run from Boston to Portland. In less than 24 hours after my comments were submitted (on a weekend!) I got this response back:

Good Morning Mr. Souder,

Thank you for completing our survey regarding your flight. As a valued passenger, I sincerely apologize that you didn’t receive customer service that met or exceeded your expectations while seated in first class. Being unhelpful or unfriendly, even if it is on a “Red Eye”, is certainly not our norm or something we condone at Alaska Airlines. We strive to provide exemplary service on each and every flight to all of our passengers and it sounds like we fell short.

By taking the time to contact us and giving us your feedback, you have not only given me the opportunity to hear your concerns, but also an opportunity to be proactive in preventing a similar situation from occurring again. I would like to offer you the following compensation of a $50.00 e-certificate which you should expect via email within the next 10 business days.

I am confident that on a future flight you will enjoy the high level of service that Alaska Airlines is known for and that you deserve.

Kind Regards,
Nicole XXXX
Alaska Airlines

And this is another reason I’m a huge Alaska Airlines fan.

Saint Jill picked me up at the airport in Boston on my very early arrival – hence the name, “Saint Jill“.

After a long nap it was out for “loooobsterrrr”….Belle Isle Seafood here we come. Not cheap, but a ton of lobster (could have used just a tiny bit more mayo):

Did a little sightseeing in the afternoon…

Before I started in on dinner called “what’s near the end of its life in Saint Jill’s fridge. The base of ground beef, sautéed onions, peppers, etc.

Then toss in spinach and cheese for a one skillet meal:

Served over spaghetti… not a bad meal, all and all:

Hooked up with Pucci after he got off work – staying there because Saint Jill’s place is small, I snore, and Murphy sheds. Aisling is out of town so it’s a long night of drinking and catching up.

Breakfast/Lunch at Strip T’s – I opted for the Turkey Rubin with Pucci opting for the buttermilk fried chicken:

GREAT pickles – but a seriously non-OSHA bathroom in the basement, labeled with a sign saying, “Use Extreme Caution Using This Restroom” – certainly worthy of a picture:

Yep – the toilet is up several steps.

Pucci needed to go back to work so he dropped me off in Harvard Square where Jill was to meet me for a little culture. Kind of fun hanging out on Harvard Square – under the watchful eyes of Dewey, Cheetham, & Howe right about the Curious George store:

Lovely fall day…

Turns out Netta was also floating around after a doctor’s appointment (same thing as Jill was doing) so we all met up at Starbucks…

Great to hang out and catch up, but soon Jill and I were walking across the quad to the museum:

The Harvard Art Museum was having a showing of a pop artist that Jill likes. Name is Corita Kent…no photos of the exhibition (forbidden) but one of the inside:

All that culture made us want a little snack at The Russell House….

After culture and cuisine, it was time to walk over to Jill’s Mom’s place for cocktails and dinner…forgot to take a shot of her view of The Charles from her 3-bedroom condo, but I did get some food shots!

By the third bottle we finally found an old white that wasn’t off…

Amazingly it was the oldest (2000 Cheverny) that was OK, while the 2004 Pouilly Fume and the 2001 Latour Pouilly Fuse were both off but in different ways. The Cheverny went quite nicely with the Oysters (yes, more oysters) on the half shell:

Followed by some appetizers (grave lox, salamis):

Followed by the salad course (greens, pears, beets, Blue Cheese dressing):

Then the main: (swordfish, roasted potatoes, asparagus):

Then dessert with a lovely 1985 Sauternes:

Why go out when Jill’s mother cooks like this!

Back to Pucci’s after dinner – and in the morning Jill swung by to take me lunch and then to the airport – lunch Greek at Demos. This would be the lamb shish kebab salad.

After doing a little more sightseeing – like the Mystic Brewing in Chelsie:

Yes, I drank be, 4 different 4 ounce samples. Then it was off to the airport.

Contrary to rumors, terminal C for Alaska isn’t too great – they are off in a little wing with its own TSA checkpoint and little in the way of food/drink:

I had to walk to Terminal B to use the American Admirals Club – which is huge and the food good:

But, it’s a 15 minute walk in each direction. Oh well, walking is good for me. And there was also good food on the dinner flight home starting with a nice salad:

Then the main course:

And ending with dessert:

Not a direct flight home – I connected in Portland. Good thing I took a cab home!

{217.8]

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Thu
25
Sep '14

Trip Report: Birthday Ramble – YVR

Got to the condo around 10AM – and check-in as at 4PM.Been there, done that. Left my name and number at the desk, went down the hall to the lounge, gathered a couple of pillows and took a 3-hour nap.

The nap done, it was off to find some lunch…and a coupon from WorldMark to make it cheaper. The choice? Relish, a European Gastropub just around the corner. The deal? 15% off food.

Got there to find the house wine, a Naked Shiraz on offer for $4 a glass, VERY cheap by Canadian standards and not a bad glass pour. I paired it with the Duck Confit tacos ($11) for a wonderful little lunch:

That put me back at the WorldMark around 2PM – room still not ready, so it’s off to the IGA Marketplace with a 10% off coupon to get the rest of the stuff we need for dinner.

Tonight’s dinner guests are Solus+ and Helene. The dinner menu is:

  • Fish that Helene is bringing
  • Sourdough bread
  • Caesar salad
  • Red and White wine
  • Croatian cookies for dessert

But before that can happen, I have to get checked in, which turns out to be around 2:30 – after declining to have them fix a broken light in the kitchen. I think I can suffer.

And oh how I suffer at The Canadian…

Helene arrived around 5, Solus+ around six…alas, none of the dinner picture turned out…might have been the wine…

A late night, and a late morning of sleeping in…did a 3-egg fish scramble with cheese for my breakfast this morning, before settling into getting caught up on the blog… and by 3 it was time for another run to Relish for their oyster happy hour from 3-6PM with oysters at a “buck-a-shuck” – paired nicely with a Beefeater slightly dirty martini in honor of Pucci:

I ended up having a dozen of those “buck-a-shucks”.

Back to the IGA for a little more fish – Helene brought more than enough, but not quite enough for two meals – more salad and a little more for the pupu platter that BamBam always devours….

Croatian chocolate cookies on the left, sliced up heirloom sweet peppers that were on sale at the IGA for .99 a pound.

The boys (Hummingbird and BamBam) got there a little after 6, and with no word from Epick since I emailed him yesterday, finally a text response that he wasn’t coming….would have been nice to know, might not have bought more fish.

But a good dinner it was:

With leftovers for the boys to take home.

Their big news is that they finally, after seven years, have settled with the insurance company over their house fire. The money is in the bank, and they’ve found a place that they want to put an offer on in the city, in a neighborhood that I really like (as does Helene), so I’m wishing them the best of luck.

Another relaxing morning capped with another 3-egg omelet (no fish this time – sent it home with the boys for the cats). Checked out a little after 10:30AM, waited a few minutes trying to flag down a cab and finally just decided to save the $10+ and walk back down the hill to the cruise terminal – at least it wasn’t raining!

This is one of my favorite oddities on Hornby – it’s actually the bottom floor of what is now the Vancouver Art Gallery, but obviously in the past it was a police station…

Showing up at 11am seems to be the thing to do…unless you are on the Holland America boat that isn’t boarding until 1PM since they had a little norovirus outbreak. The downside of the Vancouver Cruise Terminal is that everyone, no matter how many boats are in dock, are all shoved through the same security line….meaning to Elite Line. At least past security – where they always notice my bottle of wine and direct me to the registration table – which I’ve started ignoring since no one seems to notice – there were dedicated lines for Preferred Passengers.

And a waiting area with coffee and pastries — too bad my Cruise Card is still showing Platinum (Silver) rather than Elite (Black) …I hate to start my cruise by bitching someone out, but I want my free mini-bar setup and I’ve got shirts that need laundered and starched.

[? ? ?]

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Tue
29
Jul '14

Trip Report: An Irish Wedding.

Part three of my Irish Saga. The real reason for my trip to Ireland – the wedding of one Mark J. Pucci.

A lovely train ride from Dublin’s Connolly Station to the town of Bray in County Wicklow. Popped into a taxi for the ride to Enniskerry and the Summer Hill House Hotel where the wedding is scheduled. I’ve booked in for two nights.

You guessed it – swiped off their site, somehow I forgot to get a picture of the main building. I’m out back in the Courtyard Units:

Perfectly functional room, complete with balcony (but no chairs). Downside is that there are no Wi-Fi repeaters in this building so I have to go to the main building to get access – and even then, it’s not great Expect TripAdvisor review. But the view of the Irish countryside is nice….

The first night’s activities were drinks in Enniskerry at Mac’s Bar at the Powerscourt Arms followed by dinner next door at the The Relaxing & Classic Lounge. Here is “downtown” Enniskerry:

And me in Mac’s Bar hoisting my first Paddy’s Irish Whiskey of the evening:

And the fair-haired Groom making the “time for dinner” announcement:

And my dinner of Fish and Chips, oddly served with salad and mashed peas – we are in Ireland after all:

And a selfie with Jill and her mother, Norma (who also all had the Fish and Chips):

It was a late evening – stayed up drinking until two with one of the other US-based wedding guests – put a HUGE dent in the Paddy’s I’d brought for the occasion.

The wedding was the next afternoon – an outdoor wedding – which has only become legal in the last couple of weeks – you still have to “rent a room” to sign the documents in – guessing to protect all the hotels. Lovely weather, if a bit on the hot side. Charming ceremony which included multiple quotes by Rumi, very humanist.

Pictures of Mark and Aisling tying the knot:

And the food – choice of pork or salmon. I took the slightly overcooked pork…

One of Aisling’s pals made the cake (which was gluten free if I remember correctly):

Another long evening of drinking the Paddy’s on the rocks – and considering that I have a 5:15am wake-up call for a 5:40am cab ride to Bray to catch a 6:30am bus to the airport – I really should have stopped sooner.

[221.8]

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Sat
26
Jul '14

Trip Report: Dublin.

After arriving in Dublin – well, at least at Jeff and Mindi’s place though no Jeff (aka Mork) – made pleasantries and went to bed for a 5-hour nap, which by the way is exactly what you are not supposed to do to help with your jetlag….I have other tricks up my sleeve for that. Awake at 5 while Mindi is on her daily work call – time for a little Knob Creek and seltzer:

Yes, weird ice “cubes” more like ice stalactites. The gin is waiting for Mindi’s G&T after her call.

Mindi works at home so I’ll be able to see lots of her this trip – and more importantly (for continued invitations) be able to cook our meals in.

Since I’ve visited before I know where all the closest markets are and they have a “veg” delivery service all we really need is some protein and some wine. Got the protein for tonight and tomorrow around the corner at the Halal market (no pork!). But before that we need to restock the wine rack – and no, not with this which made me CRINGE:

The first evening’s meal was marinated chicken bits in a semi-spicy curry sauce with a bunch of the “one their last day” vegetables…

And the incomparable Mindi waiting for me in the dining nook:

An evening of drinking was enough to get me to sleep through the evening until 10ish the next morning – we were both running a little slow.

Today’s outing is a new hairdo for Mindi – her monthly appointment. While that’s going on I wander the streets, pick up supplies like booze and diet soda and stumble into a gay bar – the big purple thing – called The George. No time to really go in, and I can only imagine a gay bar at 2pm in the afternoon – though it would have given me a place to sit. As I learned from the website later, at 2pm they would have been just opening so it would have been me and the bartender most likely:

And a couple of doors down, another place I should have tried but didn’t. Pitt Bro’s BBQ which apparently uses American-built smokers. I seem to have read something in an advert (as the Brits say) about these folks – even before stumbling across them:

My motto is that if you see everything on your trip you have no excuse to come back. Guess I need to ask Mindi when she is getting her hair done again. That would make the afternoon:

After Mindi’s hair was finished – she had a little shopping to do…at the Celtic Whiskey Shop – and this is only ONE wall – the even had a hallway filled with small bottling’s in minis – too tempting.

Here is the one that Mindi picked up for Jeff’s birthday – only EU125 ($168 at today’s exchange)

The salesman had ME at Madeira Cask aged. One of 377 bottles made just for this shop.

Tonight’s dinner is a lemon pesto roast chicken on a bed of root vegetables:

While that is going I worked on a little ratatouille for tomorrow night’s dinner – to be tossed with greens in an oil and balsamic dressing:

Got to use those vegetables before they expire.

Can you see why I get invited back? Especially since after the meal it was pulling off all the remaining chicken to make chicken salad out of for tomorrow’s lunch – and stock for the freezer:

Well, stock for cooking and chicken vegetable base – just add noodles.

Another late evening of staying up way past midnight shooting the shit – didn’t get out of bed until noon today, so breakfast was definitely brunch but without the Bloody Maries or bubbles. More like cheesy scrambled eggs with oven re-roasted root vegetables:

Got an email mid-day from the Groom (Pucci) saying that Aisling was going to be out tonight on the traditional Irish “Hen’s Night” and that he was free….off to the Halal butcher go I as we’d just had another batch of “veg” delivered (even though I wasn’t through with last weeks). Tonight’s meal in honor of the groom is an American BBQ dinner with a Mediterranean Flare: Grilled lamb chops (yes, these ex-pat Dubliners have a charcoal Weber), served with a zucchini-based tzatzkiki sauce, and the ratatouille and garden greens with olive oil and balsamic. Didn’t get a pretty picture of it before, but here is the during:

And in the background you see a bottle of 1994 Mondovi Cabernet Sauvignon… that didn’t survive the move from the states too well – the cork was shot. I had to strain it through a paper towel. It really was about TEN years beyond its prime… luckily we had another bottle handy.

Oddly not corked, just no fruit left – it wasn’t their Reserve which might have still been drinkable. This one was slated to drink between 2002 and 2008… 6 year ago. It was well after midnight when we stuffed the groom into a cab, not exactly knowing the address he was headed for but he knew the area and the street. Luckily he DID make it home in one piece.

And just to get us off the food track for a minute or two – the house where I’m staying:

And the back yard with the Weber:

Before you know it – the last supper has arrived. Walked a little further afield today to get pork for dinner and supplies for the trip – tonight’s meal are pork cutlets in chili-garlic sauce, cucumbers in yogurt, and the standard salad we’ve come to love:

After dinner it was off to the neighbor’s – Paul and Mary who remembered me from my last visit… a VERY LATE NIGHT of chatting and playing with the dog – Paul didn’t get in from the airport until after midnight and Mini and I didn’t leave until around 3am – and then talked back at the house for another hour:

Even with the late night, I still had time for a final meal – Heavos Rancheros that I’d prepped the night before so the eggs could soak into the corn tortillas…

Too bad I’m leaving for the train station at the same time that Mork, I mean Jeff his headed home from the airport. Guess we’ll have to just have drinks when they are in Seattle in August.

Before I knew it I was on the train to Bray to catch a cab to the wedding venue – more on that in the next post.

See what I look like with not enough sleep. At least we all ate well in Dublin.

[221.4]

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Tue
22
Jul '14

Trip Report: Ireland Bound.

Well – it’s another early day – luckily my buddy Ray is in town to get me to the airport at a little after five for my three-hop to Dublin for Mark Pucci’s wedding:

  • Seattle-Portland (Coach)
  • Portland-Atlanta (Business)
  • Atlanta-Dublin (Business)

Left the house a little after 5am, and here is a selfie of what I look like at that hour (with an Alaska 737 with Disney livery in the background):

Looking a little “gruff” – but then again, the bar doesn’t open until 6am – time for a couple of bagels with cream cheese. I’m looking a little better in Portland, and another Red Baron (bubbles and cranberry):

And yes, that’s my plane, which I thought was a 737-400 because it didn’t have the winglets that the majority of Alaska’ fleet has. Turns out that it’s a 737-900 that is in the middle of renovations – the new Recaro seats in the back and no hard divider between First and Coach – apparently they haven’t gotten the curtains installed yet since the current divider seems to be blue painters tape. Classy. I wonder if it’s the same on as in this YouTube video? LINK

But my seat is comfortable (notice the lack of divider):

I tried reading my current book – but it’s more of a page-stoner than a page-burner. I picked it up several trips ago at Compass Books in the San Francisco Airport on their remainder stack. The book is Pornographia, by Polish author Witold Gombrowicz. This is a new translation direct from the Polish. The previous edition was translated from Polish to French and then from French to English. Not a good idea.

I should say, tried and failed – at least so far. I hate travelling with hardback book (even when skinny) and then not reading it. It reminds me of the six weeks touring Europe while at Evergreen trying to get through Lewis Ferdinand Celine’s Journey To The End Of The Night.

Instead it was the call of dinner and reruns:

That would be The Big Bang Theory and:

  • Farro Salad
  • Warm Dinner Roll
  • Blackened Chicken
  • Creamy Polenta
  • Creamed Spinach
  • Chuckanut Huckleberry Cheese Cake

And both of their red wines to sample. I’ll give the book until the end of the trip and then it’s getting left behind, read or unread.

Got to Atlanta with enough time to walk across the airport, do some duty-free shopping and head to the lounge for a couple of drinks. Between my United Gold and my Alaska Board Room membership I’m pretty much covered. It did amaze me that the Knob Creek (at 100 proof) was the same prices as the Jack Daniels (80 proof). In stores there is a big difference in price:

Nice international lounge in Atlanta:

Even opted for a quick shower:

And I needed it since it is another 6+ hour flight before I get to Dublin.

The plane boss, the plane (as Tattoo would say on Fantasy Island):

That would be a 767-300 and what the business-class seats look like:

My two movies for this leg (before I got into the reruns) were classics – which is what I’m seeming to revert to in my on plane movie watching:

Started with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and moved onto Breakfast At Tiffany’s. I’d forgotten how light-hearted Ferris was and the dark themes of Breakfast.

With a two-hour delay (mechanical) out of Atlanta I was almost done with Ferris (and pleading for more champagne) by the time we took off. It was with dinner that I watched Audrey:

  • Shrimp with avocado
  • Mixed greens with cranberries, pecans and feta cheese
  • Squash soup
  • Beef tenderloin (amazing tender that loin) with Béarnaise sauce, buttered asparagus, lobster macaroni and cheese
  • Some cheese and sweets for dessert

I passed on the ice cream sundae (second shelf) because before you knew it some more reruns and little naptime:

About 90 minutes before landing it was breakfast time:

  • Seasonal fresh fruit
  • Portobello mushroom omelet with asparagus, potato wedges and bacon

I was actually impressed with bacon since you know everything is reheated. So much for the diet.

There was a curious thing about the meal service…the silverware was magnetized and you could do amazing balancing tricks with the cutlery:

One of the things that I like about flying into Dublin is the “low key” entrance form you fill out:

They don’t even ask for your passport number. And it’s quick when you are on the ground, especially if you are in seat 1A and they are disembarking from the front door.

By 11:30 or so (should have been 9:30 or so) I was at Mindy and Jeff’s – sadly only Mindy as Jeff (aka Mork) was in the states for “management training”. The perils of becoming a General Manager for a tech company.

Chatted for a bit with Mindi before heading upstairs for a 5-hour nap, waking just in time to start working on that duty-free Knob Creek.

[? ? ?]

Fri
14
Mar '14

Trip Report: Overnight In Boston With Friends.

Tuesday found me at the airport again, back to Boston for the second trip this month. At least this time I’m spending the night.

In the Board Room before my flight… it’s a mid-morning flight so it wasn’t too ugly to get up and out this morning.

My seat for this trip – no upgrade in either direction is Exit Row window, not my favorite but not the worst. Here is the view as they deice the plane:

I was late getting to the gate so I have no idea how far down the upgrade list I was – I assume at least a half a First Class cabin. This is the down side of the during the normal days flights that Alaska has between Seattle and Boston. If you want to take the crappy red-eye or the early morning return it turns out it’s easy to get an upgrade because none of the guys/gals who fly WAY more than I do hate those flights as much as I do.

Here is a shot of me over what I think is either Minnesota or Wisconsin judging from all the lakes:

Got to Boston a little after 6PM and Fernando came to the airport to meet me. Such a sweetheart.

Off to dinner we go at Christopher’s in Porter Square. A little wait for a table (30 minutes) which we killed in the bar – beer for Fernando, Manhattans for me.

Got to our table – ordered more drinks and an appetizer – a Summer Roll (non-deep-fried Spring Roll) that seemed to have been prepared last night. For dinner, I broke my diet and had the Fish and Chips (good), and Fernando had the chicken, green bean special – it looked good and I’m sure it had a better name. I’m amazed that when I looked at their site today they had their Daily Specials for TODAY. Now THAT is good website management.

By 9:30 Pucci and Aisling joined us for cocktails (Martini for Pucci, Prosecco for Aisling) – lucky we had a four-top! I’m going to their wedding in July in Wicklow (20km south of Dublin), Ireland.

Apparently when Fernando chose Christopher’s he didn’t realize that it was a block from Aisling’s gym and easy for Pucci to park at – god going Fernando!

After a couple of rounds of drinks and good conversation it was time for us to all head back to our mattresses – walking distance for Fernando and I.

Slept in late, late, late, we both did… we didn’t get out of the house until a little after noon – first stop Starbucks for lattes. Which held me over for the one “T” stop until we got to the Russell House for lunch.

Here are shots of the two of us at lunch…

And here is my lovely lunch of the steamed mussels in a fennel heavy (think a jar of seeds) broth that was surprisingly good. I like that the fact that they served bottles of either still or fizzy water – wish I’d gotten the fizzy, but the glass of Bonny Doon Vin Gris Rosè was damn fine with those mussels.

After lunch Fernando and I parted ways – him for the office, me for my office – the Delta Sky Room. I had about three hours to catch up on email, drink cocktails, liberate biscotti, have some snacks, read a bunch of papers before my flight back to Seattle – number 7 on the upgrade list, but at least I’m in 6D… just behind First Class, close enough to smell the freshly baking cookies.

Bought the Rueben Hot Meal ($6), they comped me my second free drink (one free with MVP Gold), bought several more. For airplane food, that Rueben was stuffed with meat and really good. On the way out I passed on the Pulled Pork Sandwich, but the guy next to me had it and it looked good (and smelled divine).

Back at the house by 11 – time to clean out the rollaboard of all the Biscoff I popped from the Delta Sky Room – mostly because they are really good, and Roxy needs more carbs before I can get dinner prepared. I love that the Biscoff have the Delta logo imprinted on them.

Next up, TURKEY.

That trip report might have to be split into:

  • Istanbul, Turkey (3 nights) Part One
  • Budapest, Romania (2 nights)
  • Istanbul, Turkey (2 nights) Part Two

If there was another day, I’d try and squeeze Bulgaria into the trip, but I like to have a “buffer” before I get back for my departing flight.

Worked today, working, tomorrow and Sunday, off early Monday to either Europe or Asia, depending on which side of the Bosporus that I’m on.

[209.2]

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Tue
1
Oct '13

Sightseeing Day.

Today Fernando and I are off sightseeing… even with the Federal Government shutdown:

Luckily the boat to Spectacle Island is run by a private firm and the Rangers on the island are State financed.

On the boat:

Great view of planes coming into Logan Airport:

We didn’t do too much walking on the island, though we did do most of the interpretive center stuff.

Next up was the top of the Prudential Building for appetizers and drinks:

And the view:

And a Ruby Manhattan – bourbon and ruby port with a twist of lemon in it – quite tasty:

Fernando fixed us steaks at his place before we headed off to meet Pucci for cocktails at 9:30pm. Looks like it’s another last night.

[? ? ?]

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Sat
18
May '13

Work, Camlin, Opera.

With it being Mayfair in Madrona today, the wine tasting started at 1pm instead of 2pm… which for me is handy since it’s Opera night and I have a room booked at the Camlin. Means I get to check in at a little before 4 rather than a little before 5.

This is the shot of the room AFTER I completely rearranged it so you could actually open and use the Murphy bed. They had the couch backed up against Murphy bed and the kitchen table was where I moved the couch to.

Dinner with WonderFool at Dragon Fish – small Asian plate meal type place. With the 20% off coupon we got out of there for $60.00 + tip, which included a lot of sake for both of us.

Off to the Opera next, via the monorail:

WonderFool wearing my old sport coat that he had retailored (when he was 20 pounds heavier).

This is our last season of tickets – giving up my truly wonderful seats, but at a grand for the pair, it’s become too much.

And how did Speight Jenkins reward us for our final opera? By presenting two short and incredibly painful operas. http://seattleopera.org/tickets/production.aspx?productionID=123

I spent the evening wanting to slit my wrists. Here is the summary:

In this exciting pair of Seattle Opera premieres two very different composers explore the fates of women who must come to grips with grave disappointment. In Poulenc’s sensual, captivating 40-minute monodrama, a desperate woman is shunned by her lover over the telephone and stumbles through a minefield of emotions towards an unknown fate. In Puccini’s sentimental one act, a noble-born woman who has joined a convent is disowned by her family, takes poison in despair, and miraculously passes into a state of grace.

Sister Angelica (Suor Angelica)
Music by Giacomo Puccini
In Italian with English Captions

The Human Voice (La Voix Humaine)
Music by Francis Poulenc
In French with English Captions

Luckily it has only one more performance – the matinee tomorrow.

We should have taken the monorail home – got stuff in a traffic mess of Mercer AND 99 being closed. We could have walked home quicker.

[206.2]

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Sat
2
Feb '13

The Real Reason I’m Here.

The 29th Annual ZAP Tasting.

The sore throat has advanced. I’m not feeling in the best shape. Especially since the Zinfandel tasting starts at 10am and runs (for the trade) until 1pm when all hell breaks out and the public is invited in.

Here are some lovely pictures from the event:

The queue up to get in.

Shot of the hall 15 minutes in.

Lunetta with a baguette and spit cup.

An hour and a half in.

By the end of the first hour we were only stopping at booths that there was nobody in front of… with the exception of Ridge Vineyards where I just muscled my way to the front of the line.

By the end of two hours I was spent (but Lunetta was only half way through his bagette). We headed back to the East Bay, with me scoring an extra ZAP Tasting 2013 glass – more freebie glassware for the shop – guess I should bring in the 4 that I have from the Boston Wine Expo of several years ago (where we [Pucci and I] got comped in as well). Joe Fico from Tucson was supposed to be on this tasting but work didn’t clear up until last week, and all the cheap fares were gone.

Oh well.

On returning to the boy’s place in Berkeley it was straight to bed for me, only waking at 3:30 in the afternoon because of hunger. I ate the remains of my breakfast I couldn’t finish this morning, and went back to bed, getting up at 5pm feeling a little more rested and less funky. I think an antihistamine is in order in case the scratchy throat was due to the grocery run on Thursday and pollens in the air.

The boys were kind enough to take me to the airport (SFO = 40 minutes each way) before their “date night”. BART is convenient to their house, but sitting in the back seat is way more comfortable.

At the airport in plenty of time, and nicely settled into the Board Room having snacks of tiny carrots, dip, cheese, and yes, two damn packages of those Club Crackers® which I can’t seem to turn down.

No room on the flight that is an hour earlier (well, no room in First which I have on the later flight) so it’s time to update the blog, read a newspaper, and generally hang out.

In theory due home at about 11pm tonight (that earlier flight would have helped). It’s funny – I think Oakland has more flights these days, but it’s SFO with the Board Room location – though no soup or salad in this location, but they do have the Pancake Machine for in the mornings. Either way, the Board Room is the place that I stock the fridge with oranges for DancingBear’s Old Fashions.

If something screws up, it will be on tomorrow’s blog report.

Good night all, I’ll be sleeping all the way home with luck.

[? ??]

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The 29th Annual ZAP Tasting.

Sun
6
Jan '13

Sunday At The Shop.

Well – slow Sunday. Barely pulled it out except for the customer who showed up at 4:30, inquired about tracking down four different wines, and then went on to buy a mixed case that came to $284 something after the 10% discount and tax. Whew! Made it an OK Sunday.

With all that time, I started thinking about Pucci’s wedding this coming summer (assuming they can find a place in Ireland to hold it). After a Points Guy article on oneworld’s World Explorer fare I crafted this itinerary:

15 segments in 10 days, the only time stopping is for 3-4 days in Ireland for the wedding. Imagine this flight pattern:

City Miles

Airline

EQM Qualified Just Miles Bonus Miles
Seattle

0

American

Dallas-Ft. Worth

1600

American

1600

1600

Miami

1120

American

1120

1120

Lima

2620

LAN

2620

2620

Santiago

1540

LAN

1540

1540

Buenos Aires

708

American

708

708

New York

5290

American

5290

5290

Dublin

3170

British

3170

London

500

British

500

Johannesburg

5630

Quantas

5630

Sydney

6850

Quantas

6850

Tokyo

4860

American

4860

4860

Dallas

6410

American

6410

6410

Toronto

1210

American

1210

1210

Chicago

500

American

500

500

Seattle

1710

1710

1710

FF Miles

43718

27568

16150

27568

Ticket Cost

per mile

per ff mile

$8,522.15 $0.19 Total FF Miles

71286

$0.12

Cost per mile for this $8522.15 turns out to be .19 which isn’t good, but if I kept them all on American, a couple of more trips on Alaska or American I’d have Gold on American, which doesn’t really do me good. If I put them on Alaska, only half the flights it would get me Alaska MVP status for next year with the 27,568 EQM Qualified Miles, almost enough for a Business Class ticket to Iceland (75,000 or onward to Europe 80,000), drop the cost per mile to .12 – but push up my qualification numbers for MVP Gold to 50,000 from 40,000.

Makes me dizzy just thinking about how many hours that is my butt in a seat in Economy and I’m sure Colonel Eric thinks I’ve lost my mind to even consider it.

Dinner at Swanda’s tonight – lovely broiled salmon, high heat roasted brussel sprouts, and a big salad. And he opened a bottle of white wine from his last month’s shipment. Score another one!

[215.0] OK, no more carbs.

Tue
8
May '12

Day One – The Canadian.

Checking Out Of The Canadian, Boarding The Canadian.

The blog post sounds confusing… Checking out, checking in, boarding, all The Canadian?

The WorldMark is at The Canadian, across from Wall Centre (home of the Sheraton). The Canadian is also a beer slogan (Molsen?), which BamBam had four of while we were hanging out waiting for The Canadian, the train that runs from Vancouver to Toronto.

Apparently, the Canadians like to call everything “The Canadian”.

My day, after The Canadian, and before The Canadian.

Up at nine, packed and out of the condo at noon. Off to the train station (via SkyTrain, C$2.50) to drop off my bag so they could put it in my “stateroom”, a.ka. a “roomette” on “The Canadian”. Damn, I’m about to wear out the ” key.

After dropping the bag (C$3, which they didn’t charge for the last time, but still totally worth it), I still had time on my SkyTrain ticket – got back on the train to go to the end of the Zone One area, but realized that the first stop was Commercial Drive where I know has nice restaurants for lunch (breakfast was a Slim Jim basically). Basically I have until 8:30pm when the train leaves to amuse myself. Commercial Drive here I come.

My buddy Pucci would like all the old Italian espresso bars, not turned sports:

My favorite memory of this place 20 years ago was of a couple of old Italian guys eating sushi, drinking espresso, and chatting in Italian.

Got off the train and remembered my buddy TomTuma often works from home. Called, and he was home, at least for a glass of fizzy ice water on the rocks before his next appointment:

Damn. Lose 25 pounds and you still look fat next to the skinny one.

Lunch at the Memphis Blues BBQ place close to Toms:

That would be the pulled pork on greens. Where I’m from, those greens would have been mustard and sautéed in bacon fat, not drizzled in a BBQ vinaigrette.

On the way back to the station, stumbled across this lovely duo busking on the street corner… cello and accordion. Can’t wait to check out www.sidewalkcellist.com to see if the accordion player is listed. He’s HOT.

Had to buy another SkyTrain ticket so I started exploring Zone One which is as far as you can go in an hour and a half. Down to Chinatown, Waterfront Station, Marine Drive, and eventually, back where I started: the train station.

The boyz (Hummingbird and BamBam) showed up at 4:30 for one last get together – and off we go to the place across from the train station which is part:

  • Bar
  • Youth Hostel
  • Odd restaurant

Cheap it was. Jameson on the rocks for C$4.50, beers cheaper, and for less than C$20, dinner for the three of us. Not exactly “take a date place”, more of a “pick up some rough trade” place. After lunch I didn’t needtoo much to eat (expecting and receiving sparkling wine and canapés on boarding).

Parted with the boys so they could have an evening, and for me to deal with the excitement of the journey. It’s a long train we have…

We have a seriously LONG train – and I’m in Car 213 which is smack dab in the middle of the train. There are THREE Vista Dome cars, and all-glass Panorama car (we lose that in Edmonton for the west bound run) and bloody TEN sleepers. Now I really see where all the old cool pre-Amtrak equipment went… to Canada. Good thing I’ve got the knee brace on as it’s a long way from one end to the other. Hell, there are even TWO dining cars on this run. 23 pieces of equipment – three engines, a baggage car, two coach cars and all the stuff I mentioned before. We lose the other engine and the Panorama car in Jasper tomorrow at 4 (thought I think we are running late).

The train was so long that to get it into the yard they had to split it in two – the coach/baggage/engines on track 4 and all the rest of the cars on track 5 – it still made for a half mile walk for the folks in Sleeper Car 210.

First – a shot of the Panorama Car which I have never seen on ViaRail before:

Sorry for the crappy picture, but it’s still better than AmTrak’s just for the number of people who can actually sit there… not a bubble dome, but can hold three times the people.

And I’m flummoxed over the last picture of the night, of the room (after the champagne and several cocktails).


So I did both.

One of the most interesting conversations on the train was with the “Bullet Lounge” car attendant who repeatedly had to answer… “Is this where I get breakfast”… “No, that’s the dining car, ask your room attendant.” That the Express Fares have filled up the train with many people who haven’t done this before (I’m channeling Swanda to not be snarky – it took me three times to rewrite that sentence.) Considering that normally my fare would be C$1800 and I got it for C$575 – it’s opened up rail travel in a sleeper to a bunch more people, hence, TEN sleeping cars and TWO coach cars (those were on sale as well).

[? ? ?] The last Alli® pill was on Sunday with my noon meal. And now I’m on a trip with three meals a day, doubtful any carb free. Started this trip at 210 and hoping not to come back as a blimp.

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Checking Out Of The Canadian, Boarding The Canadian.

Thu
12
Jan '12

In The Air Again.

No, Not The Clooney Movie.

Another long day for Pucci. Luckily he moved one student around and came home to take me to the “T” saving me from a five block walk in the rain. In the Boston vernacular, it was pissing (as opposed to spitting, the other one, which is pissing, but coming at you at 30mph).

Made it from Pucci’s to the Delta Crown Room with cocktail in hand in 1:15. I was pretty amazed as that was:

  • Pucci Shuttle to Harvard Square
  • Red Line to Government
  • Green Line to Park
  • Blue Line to Airport Shuttle
  • Shuttle to Airport
  • Security

I celebrated my good fortune by purchasing a cup of Clam Chowder for waiting around the gate, and a Lobster Roll for the flight. No upgrade, yet again I was number 11 on the list.

On the down side, I got a call from Fluffernutter that Swanda had been hospitalized. That is never good.

Decent flight, puts me 25% of the way to MVP for 2013.

Sea-Tac to the apartment took a little longer this trip. Two fools decided to crash into each other… ON the light rail tracks. Finally got home around 11. I probably shouldn’t have stayed up till 3:30am.

[? ? ?]

Tue
10
Jan '12

Settling In Beantown.

Or Belmont.

Take Your Choice.

Pucci was up and to the gym early. I was not.

Between the lingering cold and the long day I slept in until 10, peed, checked email, and went back to bed until 1. Nothing like having breakfast at 3pm. Guess that means it’s a two meal day.

Work in the afternoon — didn’t leave the flat even though Fernando gave me a 7-day Charlie Card. So sweet. Websites to revise, proposals to submit, blogs to update. No rest for the wicked.

As the sun went down, it is winter, which means early, it was time to think of dinner… raid the fridge/freezer.

Defrost two chicken breast pieces, chop up some shallots, green onions, bell peppers, a little coppa salami, get some butter in a pan… lay down a bed of arugula and green onion tops, fry up all the rest, top the salad, add the dressing, pour a glass of the “refrigerator white wine used for cooking”, call it a meal.

Pucci got back early so plans are laid for tomorrow during the day and for dinner tomorrow night.

All is good.

But there is no scale in the house, so [? ? ?]

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Or Belmont.

Take Your Choice.

Mon
9
Jan '12

18 Hour Day

Or At Least It Feels Like That.

Up at 5am and out the condo door at 5:30, butt on light rail at 5:48am, and off to the airport.

Considering the crush at security I was surprised at how quickly the lines started moving once they shut down the damn full body scanner. What a boondoggle that is.

I really must have been still asleep… got to the Board Room only to find I was missing my Driver’s License and Board Room card.

Back to security. As I’m close, a TSA guy says, “Mark?” Yes — go see the guy up that set of stairs, the guy on the phone. They were in the process of paging me. I thanked everybody repeatedly and headed back to the club. Had I not needed to check in at the club, I would have been in Boston before I realized. I travel with my Nexus Card and Passport Card so it wouldn’t have been a huge thing trying to get back on the plane in Boston.

Uneventful flight — 14D, the non-reclining exit row. After the long night last night, I probably slept half of the 4.5 hour flight. I did get most of a digital edition of the New Yorker finished on the trip. So much for low-carb with the bagel and cream cheese in the Board Room and the half a slice of French Toast and the cinnamon apples (the eggs and sausage were fine) on the plane. Hitting 205.0 yesterday morning is sort of a milestone since I started back on the low-carb stuff when I’d inched back up to 232 (which is still down from my all-time high of 242).

Flight arrived 20+ minutes early and Fernando was still in meetings when I texted him. The plan was that he’d come to the airport and meet me and we’d go to Harvard Square for dinner and a long business talk about creating a win-win situation with regards to Studio 403 and Libboo. It looks like at the end of a 3 hour plus dinner at Daedalus that Studio 403 is going to be a test case for backlist publishing on the Libboo royalties’ engine. One of the positive outcomes will be all the Sign of the Times individual issues and anthology, along with the Piglettè and Bobo series will be available as eBooks on Libboo and Amazon, possibly Barnes and Noble as well.

As for dinner, I had the steamed mussel appetizer (huge, could have been an entrèe) and the haddock stuffed with crab, Fernando had the soy marinated steak bits over a tomato risotto, which looked good as well. Add a likable bottle of Sangiovese (Italian) which was light enough to go with my fish, but not too light as to be overpowered by risotto. Good food — entrees in the high teens, low 20’s, great service, hot long-haired food runner.

After dinner it was more talk and more cocktails. It was amazing how three and a half hours passed until Pucci was due to show up. It looks like I’m going to be busy for the next couple of weeks prepping materials for Libboo along with redo (once again) the Studio 403 website to reflect getting back into the publishing business. Fernando is a big fan of Sign of the Times and even brought up re-launching the magazine as an eZine using the Libboo engine. Interesting concept. The Libboo engine would solve one of the problems with the old engine, how to track rights and payments (not that it ever made of profit unless you consider a “tax-loss” as a profit).

Pucci showed up at 9:15, but with his best (and most expensive) bass in the car, he wasn’t about to leave it parked on the street to come up for a drink. It was back to his house to settle in for the rest of the night, chatting and drinking whiskey.

[? ? ?]

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Or At Least It Feels Like That.

Thu
24
Mar '11

Trans-Canada: Day Three.

Now that we are on the prairie the train has picked up speed . . . lots of speedy – – 65-70mph according to the GPS unit hooked to the computer which for the evening I had mounted in the rack over the bed:

The down side of all this speed is the train is rocking back and forth so much that it’s impossible to sleep on your side as the train keeps wanting to roll you over. My problem is that I’ve trained myself to sleep on my side to minimize snoring. It’s hard to break that training in one day.

After my Trans-Continental breakfast of two eggs sunny side up, grapefruit juice, coffee, rye toast, ham and hash browns, it was back to bed to get another three hours sleep. Had fresh clothes and fresh teeth for breakfast, but didn’t get to the shower room until before lunch. FYI, nicer shower rooms than on Amtrak, more space in the dressing room area.

A note for the Colonels, maybe you should think about taking “The Canadian” when you come to visit Seattle. Food is equal or better, and they have a curtained at night berths where you could each get lower berths — and the seats look comfortable as they do recline a bit (or a lot, but that makes it a bed).

Much cheaper for a compartment with a door, and there is a couple on board from Michigan/Florida (depending on the time of year) who seem quite comfortable with that set up. The picture is a seat for ONE person. Plenty wide.

And how have I been spending my time on board?

  • Looking out the window
  • Eating three meals a day with strangers
  • Finished Imbibe magazine (needs to be split between Swanda, Pucci, and a Colonel when I get home)
  • Finished Popular Mechanics magazine (bits to Cochran, and got a great idea for an adhesive for one of the products I’m working on)
  • Finished the last New Yorker from Swanda (passed along to fellow passengers)
  • Finished Paul Theroux’s The Old Patagonia Express (goes to Brother Jon, then Jameson)

Funny thing about that book – – I thought it was going to make me more excited about the possibility of using miles to get to either Quito or Lima, and then onto Cusco for the train to both Macchu Pichu and Lake Titicaca . . . it seems to be having the opposite effect, it’s making me want to go back to Argentina and finally explore wine country (even though it’s more Frequent Flier miles).

Today’s video clip:

Dinner was the prime rib of beef that looked so good I ordered the most expensive bottle of red on the menu — a red out of the Okanagan at $49 a bottle. The Caesar salad before was nice an anchovy, but the steamed veg a little soggy. And no rolls, but great company as I got to sit at the kiddy table — two asian lads half my age (Korean and Chinese).

Got to end this post as we arrive in Winnipeg at 8:30pm and need to get it uploaded after I tip the conductor for keeping me supplied with ice for the last couple of days. After having trained him to bring a bucket of ice while I’m at lunch and refill it while I’m at dinner, now I need to train another attendant since he gets off in Winnipeg tonight.

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Mon
10
Jan '11

In The Air… Again.

Up at 9:30… look, I’m getting closer to Seattle time!

Pucci made a couple of damn fine omelets on his return from the gym… filled with some hot Italian sausage which I forget the name of, some green onions, some mushroom, a little fresh rosemary – not that’s the way to start at day.

We are out of the house at 1:30, and by 2:15 I have taken the Red Line from Alewife to Park Street, the Green Line one stop to the Blue Line at Government Center, the Blue Line to the airport stop with its free shuttle bus to the airport – if you think about it, that’s pretty damn quick… from house through security in 45 minutes with a car, three trains, and a bus. The joys of Alaska being in Terminal A in Boston – the first stop on the shuttle route.

Here is the view from the Sky Room (formerly known as the Crown Room before Delta and Northwest merged):

The merger must be fairly far along – I haven’t seen a Northwest painted plane in at least six months.

Flight boarded on time, but then had 45 minutes of taxi time… still managed to arrive on time though.

But in between there and here, I must complement Alaska on their 1st Class meal on the way home. A wedge salad with all the trimmings, lamb chops in a red wine reduction (complete with a fresh sprig of rosemary), scalloped potatoes, and a two-toned roll that tasted exactly like a pretzel. Dessert was a little raspberry tartlet with a dab of whipped cream and a reasonably fresh strawberry. Nice and warm and full of seeds which luckily I don’t have diverticulitis (for which seeds are a no-no – apparently they get lodged in ugly places).

Was home and unpacked by 10pm, going through a big stack of snail mail.

Plan is to wake up in the morning all caught up.

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