Tag Archives: people watching

A travel day

I'm writing this from aisle 28 on a Boeing 757. These are wonderful planes, but the difference between two identical twins is amazing.

This morning, we got onto a brand new plane. The seats were comfy and reasonably sized. The monitor in the seatback had a USB port to charge my cell phone. Even the seatbelt was too big, if you can imagine such a thing.

Our plan was simple enough. We are using our daughter's benefits to fly on standby. The idea was to fly from NOLA to Atlanta, then on to SLC and Boise. We chose this route because it put us home earlier.

When we got to Atlanta, others decided to fly on standby as well, and we were about a dozen people beyond those who would get a seat. Our daughter came to the rescue, routed us to Seattle, and said from there it's a breeze to get home. We will get home later, but that's the joy of standby.

This gave us a bit of airport time. Time to observe the old man in the funny hat, one that looks like a cross between a newsboy and a baseball cap. I've never seen anything like it before. There are the women with big hair. I've written about them before, but in Atlanta the black girls win the day. Huge heads of hair that actually look pretty darned good. If these things are weaves or extensions, don't tell me – I don't want to know. I'm basking in the illusion.

There was the lady with her little dog on a leash, and a mom with her child on a leash. All of this is minutia, but even small observations can help me create a character.

It wasn't until we met the second 757 that I realized I'd forgotten to look at the NOLA phone book. This may not seem like an attraction to most of you, but I struggle to name my characters. I am completely convinced that the NOLA phone book is the holy grail of names now, simply because I missed it.

Oh, this second 757 is the evil twin of the first plane. Our morning flight was all clean and comfy, with wifi that actually seemed to work. This plane has hard seats, archaic monitors without USB ports, and short seat belts. I had five inches of seat belt to spare this morning. Now I need a come-along to ratchet down my stomach just to buckle the damned thing. It's so tight my right leg died about five-hundred miles ago, and my wallet feels like a lump in my throat.

This 757 has an old three-pronged electrical plug for my devices. It's down by the seat of the guy in front of me. This requires me to fold in half like a jackknife to recharge my phone. Also what device in the history of devices ever had a three-pronged plug? I'll give credit though, my little lightning bolt lit right up to indicate my phone was actually charging… right before gravity took over and my cord fell to the floor. The female connection is so loose it won't hold my cable in place without holding it where it needs to be. I'll leave it at that before I get too metaphoric and say something too graphic for kids to read.

I wasn't supposed to start reading again so soon, but what do you do on a five hour flight? I had a children's book all downloaded, but can't get it off the cloud and onto my Kindle app. You see, this 757 has wifi, and it connects fast, you just can't do anything with it after you connect. It seems custom designed to make the spinny thing go around, but nothing else. This is a friend's book, and a short enough read to help me make my RRBC reading goals without more added stress.

Buuuut, the wifi won't let me read it, so I started a craft book that I've held onto for “Someday.” I managed about half of it so far, but my eyes are tired. (And my right leg, and my bladder, and my attitude, etc.) Right now, I'm watching the monitor while a graphic of a 757 moves across the country at the speed of a glacier. I'm typing this by only peripherally glancing at my fingers. Since I can't do anything with the wifi, I'll load this post to my blog later.

Our daughter warned us to take an extra day when flying standby. This sounded like good counsel to us, and we are both off tomorrow. In fact, with my flex day, and a federal holiday, I only had to take one day of vacation time for this mini-vacation. Even I get lucky sometimes.

One hour and five minutes before we get to Seattle. Oh how I miss that first 757.

***

Update: We're home. I wound up stashing my wallet in my suitcase so I didn't have to sit on it any longer. That helped, but what really helped was our first class accommodations for the last leg of our trip. It was a Delta flight, and since our daughter is a Delta employee we were ahead of everyone else on the list. Seats one A and B. It was only an hour flight, but I appreciated it. I even got to charge my phone back up along the way.

On our last day we wound up stopping at Lafitte's, and I had a drink there. There isn't much made of the place beyond the historical registry stuff. I kind of expected more of a pirate theme to everything, or even a blacksmith's theme. I suppose hammers on the walls isn't a good idea where alcohol is served.

We walked to Cafe Du Monde and had more beignets. These are the most famous ones, but weren't our favorites. We both preferred the Royal place where we started, and I even preferred the ones at the Hotel Monteleone, because of the praline sauce.

Old What's Her Face and I have been married for twenty four years, and lived together for two years prior to that. This trip is the first time we've flown out together anywhere. I hope we don't have to wait that long to do it again.

If you spot me a hundred miles or so, I was on three coasts today. NOLA to Atlanta to Seattle before we got home.

I'm going to catch my breath, then I need to get to work. I have a couple of critique group things to work up for our meeting on the 31st. I'm out of ink too, so I wonder if I can trick my printer into spitting out a couple of pages in navy blue.

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Travels and travails

I'm home. Nothing spectacular about it, but it took long enough. When I flew to Louisville, I wore a sweatshirt. I thought I was going to have a heat stroke before I got off the plane at my destination.

Today I wore a tee shirt. It snowed in Denver, and not only that, we didn't get to use a jetway. We had to deplane outside and walk to the terminal through the snow.

Airport people are always fun. There was the bossy lady who treated a waitress like her dog. It really doesn't take much effort to say please and thank you, but it was beyond this lady. There seem to be a lot more of the big backpack crowd. They're always in a hurry or posing somewhere, just in case LL Bean might be watching. They're the ones who huff when someone in a wheelchair gets ahead of them.

Stalking a source of power in the terminal is a popular pastime. Gadgets need recharging, and travel can be an all day ordeal.

I saw many more paper books this trip than the last time. When I went to Atlanta, everyone was into YouTube videos. This time there were books, mostly paper ones. I saw a few Kindles and iPads being used for reading, but maybe I ought to take the hint. The video crowd seemed to all be watching movies this time. Have YouTube videos run their course? I doubt it, or after my last trip I could have declared books have run their course.

I read half a book myself, and will try to get the rest done with some priority. It is an ARC read for a friend, and I don't want her to wait forever.

I swear the stewardess from Denver to Boise said, “The CRJ 700 has had all the seat cushioning removed, and all the lumbar support removed for your convenience. United wants you to remember your trip for the next few weeks.”

These seats were plastic with leather, but no padding at all. I'm going to remember this trip by not being able to crawl out of bed tomorrow.

I never did get out to one of the tasting rooms in Louisville. Bourbon was tasted, just not in that format. Last night we had a hosted event by Michter's. They brought a bourbon, an American whiskey, and a rye. I sampled all of them, then had a glass of Bourbon and a glass of rye.

We went over to 4th street. This is a closed off street, and reminded me a bit of Fremont Street in Las Vegas. The crowd wanted to eat at a raw bar, but I already ate at the tasting. I had a nice glass of Angel's Envy, and it was lighter than the others, but very good. We walked right past the Jim Beam Place. I decided I was going there after the crowd finished eating.

I walked down, and they closed at 9:00. How strange is that? An alcohol producer, with a presence at party central, and they close at nine on a Friday night. I got to look through the window. It doesn't make a bit of sense to me, but that's what happened.

Other nights I dedicated myself to Woodford Reserve, several of the higher end Jim Beam products, like Booker's etc. It may seem like a lot, but I was there for several days.

Mom, if you're reading this, I got my vegetables on the road. All corn, and plenty of it.

I'm very close on my edits for The Enhanced League. I just don't think I'm going to get to them tomorrow. It's my only day off, and I kind of need it.

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Rambling through jet lag

I didn’t get home until about 1:00 AM. I managed to sleep until about 8:30 this morning. Not too bad according to my normal standards.

I don’t have a topic today, but when has that ever stopped me from blogging?

I walked across the street from my hotel in Atlanta to a brew-pub one night. The guys at the front door told me if I wanted a table, to go to a different stand, and tell them. When I went there, I was scooped up by this black dude, who didn’t work there. He grabbed my phone from my pocket and turned it upside down before putting it back. He said he was afraid I was filming him.

He then wanted to introduce me to his sister. Later on he said she was his personal assistant. (She looked like a linebacker, for those who are curious.) She wasn’t particularly interested in whatever his plan was, and left the building. Fills a guy with confidence, let me tell you. I wound up slinking to the bar and sitting there. I watched a baseball game in relative silence, and enjoyed a local brown ale that was very good.

Is there some way to use this encounter in a story? Probably, but I’m not feeling it right now.

The Atlanta Airport has a Carraba’s restaurant. Our Boise version folded during the economic crash several years ago. I enjoyed my favorite scallop and shrimp dish, along with hot fresh bread, and a wonderful Caesar salad for about half what I paid for the Burger and two beers at my hotel. (Love those conference hotels.)

I spent the rest of the evening with this song going through my head:

I worried needlessly. The meal was wonderful, and I’m sorry my wife wasn’t there, because she loves their food too.

People in airports are interesting. They will stop wherever it damned well occurs to them. This includes in the doorway to the men’s room (both directions.) They will stop in a sliding door and block the entire thing from everyone else, and best of all they will stop one foot after they step off the escalator.

Why do passengers think they have to take everything they own as a carry on? There is always someone with a giant purse, a giant suitcase, and a steamer trunk who tries to carry it onto the airplane. Then they get upset on the loading ramp when the crew makes her check most of it.

“Well they didn’t have a problem with it on my last flight.”

The announcer says you are limited to two carry on items, and they have to fit certain size parameters. It’s really pretty common knowledge, and they tell you before boarding the plane.

Southwest Airlines has a unique boarding system. You can sit anywhere you want, but you have to board in order. It works well. If you are in the “A” group you can get a window or an isle seat pretty easily. If you’re in the “C” group, you’re guaranteed a middle seat.

By the time the “C” group boards, it’s gridlock on the loading ramp. Why? Because the “A” & “B” passengers filled every single cubic inch of the overhead bins with crap they never took out once. Everyone else had to check their baggage, and we had to take time for that, on every single flight.

The announcer says, “We are overbooked. Every seat is full.” They offered $300 to three passengers to get bumped to a later flight. When we get on the plane the crew says, “There are only middle seats left, grab the first available one.”

So why is there always some douchebag (always a man) who hunches over his phone with his head against the front seat and refuses to look up? He’s trying not to look at the guy standing next to him who needs that vacant seat. He just knows the steward is lying and there will be one vacant seat, and he’s going to make sure it’s next to him.

I looked at this guy with disdain, and he never looked up. The guy in the next row stood and gestured, so I sat down there. I took great glee when the stewardess tapped the douchebag on the shoulder, made him get up, and seated a 400 pound guy next to him. I hope the douchebag was uncomfortable for the entire flight. I hope the big guy got sweat all over him too.

There is always a woman who refuses to do the “airplane mode” thing with her phone. Whenever the stewardess walks by, she turns it face down in her lap and smiles. What is the deal with that?

When we got off, there was always someone who stored her life’s possessions in an overhead bin that was ten rows behind where she sat. Rather than wait for the plane to empty to the point where she could get her bags, she insisted on swimming upstream against the flow of humanity to retrieve her bag and get off the plane first. She could have sat back down and let the other folks get out of the way. Nope, the world has to stop for her.

I only saw two people reading books. They were both paper; one Western, and one Star Wars. I was the only one reading an ebook, but there was a guy with an electronic graphic novel he was reading. Everyone else watched TV or movies on phones or tablets. Okay, there were a few people working on spreadsheets too.

What does this say about being an author? Do we all need to become screenwriters to see any real success in the 21st century?

Airport fashion is another interesting thing to check. Sweats and grunge seem to be the most popular. Among the crowd who cared, the women seem to prefer jeans tucked into boots. It’s a nice look. I saw a few pairs of nice high heels, but suspect the ones wearing them were actually men.

The baggage carousel is always interesting too. Everyone crowds the area where the bags come out. I always go about halfway around and wait. 30 seconds for my bag to come around isn’t going to kill me. It never fails. Someone will walk in front of me to pick up their suitcase. There could be ten feet clear either side of me, but they must shove me out of the way because I’m likely to steal their bathrobe.

I contacted a bunch of book reviewers today. Hopefully I can get some action going on The Playground. I also sent out a final approval for next week’s radio broadcast. I assembled a guest post I’m hosting too. Then I tweeted out a bunch of stuff, mostly for others, and shared a few things on Facebook. All in all, it’s a pretty weak effort on my part.

I may write up my own character interview for Lisa Burton Radio. I have a ton of questionnaires out, but they aren’t all coming back. If I have one in the bank, I can always post it in an emergency. Maybe Lisa can interview Patty Hall, Roald the Dwarf, or Clovis. Now you know my secret. If one of my own characters shows up, it will be because I had an empty slot.

Another way to spin this is “get your questionnaires back.” This slot is getting some good action, and I want to keep it going. If you don’t yet have a questionnaire, why not? My email address is on that page, and character interviews are a neat way to market your books.

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I just can’t turn it off…

Our neighbor in the campground just left. He is a man of apparently Asian descent. Nevada license plates. There was no one with him. He parked his camper, unhitched, and attached water and power. That's it. He never even dropped his support jacks. This doesn't matter, because he was rarely here.

He left for almost a whole day at a time. When he returned he ran inside his camper, and completely disappeared. That's it.

Today, he returned for one ziplock Baggie. That's all he did before leaving again. When he returned, he came out to the water supply and meticulously washed what appeared to be two static dryer sheets. He ran inside and stayed put.

He just came out, hitched up, and left. So we have a single guy, with no friends, out camping alone and doing suspect things. No music, no fishing gear, no cooking outside, No beer, nothing.

The author in me is off to the races. I told my wife he's in there dissolving a body to flush into the septic system when he leaves. Either that or his trailer is a mobile meth lab.

I know I'm camping, but I love blogging, and there is a pitiful WiFi signal. I observe and get ideas. I'm sure a visit with the Muse is coming soon.

Speculate with me people. What is this guy up to?

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