Thursday, July 29, 2010

Driving on the highways Business Travel


Why are so many roads under construction in Pennsylvania? There has to be a reason, the Governor has an in with the Department of Transportation, or his brother is the State’s Highway Superintendant, but there has to be a reason, since it seems after each five mile stretch there’s construction. It slows you down. Try making an appointment on-time. Allow yourself ample time. Yesterday I woke up in Lancaster PA, and had a meeting in Marietta and then up in Hershey at the University there. Both were good meetings, I was well received and there are some opportunities. What I liked most was the slow traffic towards Route 76 and snapping some shots of the farms. It was a brutal hot day yesterday. I regret that Ali and the kids weren’t with me. The ride would have been more enjoyable. I need to head out. I have an appointment in an hour in Horsham, who knows what the traffic will be like although I’m only a few miles away.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Playing basketball on Saturday mornings

July 23rd
I wanted to run this morning, but I made a promise to my body to take a few days off. Last Saturday was the first day I played basketball in years. We used to meet at Avril Park, New Hyde Park and play for hours. It was a good opportunity to share stories and shit when we saw each at the office. I recall John Wagner, Pete Marcino and his brother Jim and Pat Sweeney and of course John Monetti and Arnold Bernard. Monetti and Bernard are still playing. I picked up Eric in Northport at 7ish and we were back in New Hyde Park just before 8. Playing basketball with guys you have not played with can be frustrating. Basketball is a team sport compared to running. With basketball you need to have an idea of the little finesses, like setting picks. This is when you intentionally stand and block an opposing player from defending your teammate; after the block is made you move towards the basket and may get a pass from your teammate or in the least, get close for the rebound. That’s setting a pick. The other basic play is the give and go. I pass the ball to you and I go to the basketball and you pass the ball back to me. I shoot the ball and it goes in. Give and go. My team was not playing as a team. When individuals play, they make mistakes, miss passes, don’t set picks and eventually drain themselves of energy. These days it’s close to ninety at nine thirty in the morning and humid, a speck of sweat is burned off in the sun, and after each game you find yourself sucking down the Gatorade and water and thinking…why am I doing this? This is fun? I don’t like talking shit when I play, I’m more of an old school player, keeping my mouth shut and looking for the open man who’s going to get “the rock” in. The rock. I think that’s an old expression today, but when you’re forty four anything other than the ball makes me sound so cool, doesn’t it? Sure. We played our games and won some games but lost most, and tomorrow we’re back on the court for more games. How did I play? It’s not about me, it’s about the team. I played awful. I’m interested in tomorrow’s outcome. If it’s like last week, there would be the shower when I get home, and a quick lunch, and the eventual escape to a nap in the air conditioning. The body can only take so much punishment.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

At the airport in Pittsburgh and what challanges to face when attempting to rent a car


Pittsburgh 7/21/10
I’m at the airport waiting for my flight. I arrived yesterday and should have known something was up. My driver’s license expired. It expired last October, and once before, maybe when I left Baltimore last month the TSA agent pointed it out in Baltimore and yesterday morning at Islip, but said it’s still valid under their policies. Fine. I filed it way. I didn’t renew it. Why? You can’t rent a car without a valid license. I tried to get a car with Hertz, but it wasn’t happening. The woman behind the counter said, you can try to reach DMV and they can fax us something. I looked at her and shook my head. Dealing with New York’s DMV is like pulling teeth, waiting to wait and more frustrating than needs to be. I called Ali, after a feeble attempt at renting from Dollar (Hertz said in a whisper, Dollar may rent a car to you) It wasn’t happening. Thank God for out agent here, who arranged to get me picked up and made my appointments. In fact, I made it to the Pirates game last night. When I walked to the stadium I asked for one ticket, the attendant asked, where do you want to sit? Where’s your best seat? There was a pause, and he said how would you like to be next to the dugout? Thirty five dollars. Last night I sat in the best seats I ever sat before. I don’t think I’d sit that close again! There was only one row in front of me. The players for the Brewers were mere feet in front of us, and I know they heard these little shit bag kids who taunted them. The Pirates won. I had a chance to tell Willie Randolph, thanks for your years in New York. He nodded his head and sort of tipped his finger on his cap. Walked back to the hotel and spoke to Dennis for awhile before drifting off to sleep. I’m back at the airport and sitting here in an empty terminal as jets zip off the runways before silence returns in this empty place.

Summer Vacation

July 5, 2010 in Saint John’s, NB
For whatever reason, I thought this cruise consisted of Halifax and then St. Johnland, New Foundland. No, that’s not it at all. We’re actually in St. John’s, New Brunswick. It’s going to be embarrassing to explain to my logistics friends, where we went. Yesterday was a day at sea. The pool water was freezing, so I ended up on the deck reading, and ran barefoot on the short track, nine times around a tight circle to reach a mile. Nine times is one mile. Trying to navigate among the walkers was a challenge. Since I’m in the middle of Born to Run by Christopher McDougall I was inspired to run barefooted. I felt a blister forming, so I put on my sneakers, I didn’t run through the pain or the beast as some refer to it in the book.
What’s St. John’s like? The buildings look similar to Boston, and Emma Tess pointed that out. We went on a photography tour that was a learning experience. I learned most of the city burned to the ground in the late 1800’s and many builders and architects from Boston and New York came here to rebuild the city. While we were out, it was humorous to see whole families from our ship rent taxis to take them to certain landmarks. Em and I went to visit backwards falls, the swift current was unbelievable - intense and I tried to cut out the paper mill factory from my photos. We went to King’s cemetery which is planned as if a Union Jack was cut into the ground, then headed to the market, which like Boston is similar to Fannuel Hall. Saint John City Market has vendors on the sides and in the middle selling wares and sandwiches to town folks and tourists alike. I saw a boy about Emma’s age, looked like he just got of bed, wearing jeans too short without a belt and a wrinkled collared shirt, messy hair buying a bag of coffee. He looked unsure of himself, the awkward teen. Included in the tour was a stop at the “witches’ house” an house that Samuel Goldwyn (a native St. Johnlander) rebuilt. There was another stop at a Canadian landmark, a garrison built for the war of 1812 that over looked the entire harbor and reminded me of Ireland with the rough boulders jetting out of the grass. The vast view of the harbor was incredible and we could see The Carnival Glory in the distance. Before our tour was completed, we went back to the reversing tide, and within an hour or so saw the great difference, the water was higher and rougher, the current was impossible to conquer for even the speed boat which carried tourists and made sharp turns, but that damn paper mill factory was so obtrusive. We got back to the ship and I changed and went out for a run. St, John’s is a narrow island, and I easily ran to the other side, past low income homes and I asked myself what do these people do to earn a living? I’m curious. Stopped in a few of the churches, one a catholic and no the pope did not pay a visit to the place, and another church an Anglican, Trinity church set up high on a hill with a whale as a weather vane, and beautiful stained glass. And lastly was the Church of St. Andrew and St. David, part of the Christ Canada which may be affiliated to our church, United Church of Christ. It was a circular church and an older woman approached me, although I was sweating, she was very nice and explained how they feed the teens breakfast in the morning since they noticed the kids sat around and “smoked dope.” During the summer they share services with the Baptists down the road, giving each opportunity to take breaks. I saw a record store and went in, but could not find anything worthwhile to add to our REM collection. I bought a St. John’s pin for a dollar and paid the man with a US dollar. He had a stack of Playboys behind the counter and again I was asking myself, how do these people make money? There were some art galleries, and a beautiful neighborhood that appeared to be lifted from Boston. I headed back after my run to take a picture of one house that had a rectangular picture, sort of Tudor style. Last stop was tattoo pallor since I need to get a larger tat than my wife. I asked if I could get a quick one, but the tattoo boy said there was a four week wait. We discussed some old punk bands, since he a Black Flag symbol and all of a sudden the flood gates opened and I heard about Flag was a reforming for a charity show, but so and so wouldn’t do it since it wasn’t a real charity. But I recognized one name, Henry Rollins, and then onto the Misfits and how they wanted to tour but without someone, so and so and he mentioned off shots and I just stood there thinking, nice going, ask one question and you’re inundated!
If we come back on this trip, I’d love to go to the Hopewell rocks. They look beautiful, and I was hoping for more settings.
I’m writing this on our last day on the cruise. I was about to go off, but I won’t.
Yesterday was Halifax, Amanda and I took a tall ships cruise. It was a good time for both of us, and I know she appreciated the time. The tall ship was a metal vessel, built in 1939. Oh, we hoisted the sails, but they were locked into place as we chugged around the harbor, sitting there and listening to Brian our tour guide. Celtic music played over a loud speaker, coffee and muffins were prepared. Halifax is a beautiful city and rich in history. More than 125 bodies were recovered from the Titanic and buried there. Interesting note, the unknown child was in fact buried across from its mother, through DNA testing. The city, like St John are deep in English loyalist history and I’d like to see learn more about the cotton trade during the confederates and the loyalists. The port was nearly wiped out when an ammunitions ship collided with another ship. More than 2500 lost their lives. The anchor sailed more than two miles and to this day is in the same spot where it landed. The story is interesting since people came out to see “the fire” caused by the collision, but once they learned one ship carried ammunitions that set off an impending horror that was too late to escape from. One teacher brought her class down to see the ships on fire; in an instant they were gone. I think it was Brian’s aunt who watched the fire behind a window in her classroom and was cared for by an unknown and faceless solider. She never forgot the sound of his voice. His grandmother held his uncle and was thrown into the backyard and found passed out with the baby, clutched in her arms. Brian pointed out some other landmarks, the town’s clock, the citadel and another fortress, which I think was built for the war of 1812.
Ali and the other bums went whale watching, Dink said she felt a little seasick and even last night headed down to guest services for dromonine. She felt much better. While on the whale watching, they saw a whale and seals and we met at the same time on the dock when our rides tours were over. We walked on the dock and I wanted to head into the center of town to take more of it in. It wasn’t happening. We bought some burgers and hot dogs and ate on the dock, and on our way back, stopped at a candy Shoppe for some homemade ice cream.
I went for a run, it rained lightly but the town took on an appearance of Ireland with the authentic double Decker busses and the green grass surrounding the citadel, it was a beautiful site and view over the harbor and out to the ocean.
The Canadian Navy has some of their light blue painted ships docked there.

The cruise overall was very successful for all of us. The fact we ate dinner together for almost a whole week was an accomplishment. We had time together as a family, and I was able to read and take a nap each day, a very restful vacation, a needed break from the world.
Now it’s back and finding some venues to promote Killer Commute