Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Joys of Traveling

Traveling is not a new thing for me. But still sometimes I notice things that appear a little odd to me. I guess it’s good that I’m not totally numb to my environment; repetition can do that to you.

So, this time it’s all about planes and airports and my observations in them. I arrive at the airport to catch a 7am flight (I know, who in their right mind chooses to fly that early). Walking to the terminal, I pass a designated smoking area. You ever seen one of these? They are a nearly closed off area or room where the airflow is such that there is a constant draft into the room. Obviously, this keeps the smoke in a controlled area. I guess if you need a smoke you need a smoke. So, I am walking by one of these areas and I see something odd. A twenty-something woman is sitting in the chair nearest the entrance. In one hand a lit cigarette; in the other, the handle of a stroller carrying an infant parked just outside the room. The baby was sleeping but his sister wasn’t. A little 3 or 4 year old girl was standing next to the stroller waiting for her mom to get her fix so that they could get on to their gate. I feel for these children. I have nieces and nephews that have grown up in similar environments. I blame the parents for their selfish behaviors that endanger their own health and that of their children.

I board the plane, take my seat, and begin the people watch. I enjoy seeing the variety of people that fly together oblivious of their fellow fliers. Coming down the aisle is a middle-aged man in full scrubs. At first, I thought nothing of it. But then I tried to figure out why he would be wearing scrubs on the plane; scrubs are meant to keep your regular clothes clean when working in a medical/dental environment. We were traveling and I have to admit that they are comfortable. The only real reason I could guess is that he wanted everyone to know that he worked in one of those fields. But he is no different than the other travelers that wear their profession on their sleeves in the attempt to impress those around them.

Next down the aisle was the traveling tool that we have all seen. He carries on a suitcase, overnight bag, and laptop despite the limit to two pieces of carry-on luggage. Not only that but he has to carry all three down the narrow aisle while balancing his venti mocha non-fat latte from Starbucks (don’t get me wrong, I like Starbucks and invest in their company). Some people need to reacquaint themselves with limits and adhere to them. Those extra 30 minutes that he’s going to gain on the other side by not checking a bag are not going to be productive to the point that they outweigh the benefit of a hassle free boarding.

While I’m talking about limits, let me mention my last observation. Flight attendants are there to guide passengers, maintain their safety, and try to make the trip comfortable. So when I see someone who disregards the flight attendants’ instructions I get frustrated. Cell phones are to be turned off when the cabin door is closed. Everyone who travels knows this. Another tool sitting in the row in front of me decides that he needs to make a call after the door has already been closed; obviously because he is more important than everyone else. Despite warnings from the flight attendants in person and over the PA system, he continues his call until we are to the runway and have been cleared for takeoff. Then after closing his phone he laughs to his neighbor that he doesn’t understand why they are so upset. The same thing happens when the plane lands and is taxiing to the gate and people can’t wait to unbuckle their seatbelts; like those few extra seconds are going to get you somewhere quicker. If people don’t want to be treated like immature children then they need to stop acting like it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ed, where did you go?

Chicago is a beautiful place. It is my perfect combination of big city and space. I love walking the streets with lots of other people that are all going their separate ways. Even though I don’t know them and probably never will, this proximity gives me a better feeling of society. Much different from the desert where the only place people walk is at the mall.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit this great city several times and never get tired of it. The office where I work is in the financial district across from the Chicago Board of Trade and overlooks Lake Michigan. But the coolest thing is that out the window you can see Buckingham Fountain. My first introduction to this site was through a well written sitcom starring the incomparable Ed O’Neill. I watched Married With Children when my parents weren’t watching as a kid. Perhaps this is why I’m so messed up. Haha. I think that my upbringing did more than any television show could ever hope to do. Anyhow, today seeing the fountain got me thinking about the show and Ed specifically.

Many shows have tried to follow the same line of the dysfunctional family covering controversial topics along the way but none have hit me in the same way. I’ve seen Ed in various roles since the show went off the air in 1997 but nothing has brought him back in the iconic way that he managed to obtain in his role as Al Bundy. Until that day comes, I’ll keep watching the reruns.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ya Piss Poor Morally

No one can deny that we are in the hardest economic times of recent history; unemployment is high and increasing, household wealth is down for the first time in decades, major corporations are throwing in the towel, banks are failing on a weekly basis.

It’s a solemn day here at my office. Our long time neighbors in the building, a nation engineering firm, is facing 10% staffing cuts today. I have never been fired or laid off from a job; knock on wood. I can’t imagine what that must be like. My family relies upon me to provide for them. It’s one of my personal duties that I take very seriously. To one day have that taken away from me would be devastating.

Over the past 10 years, we as Americans have enjoyed huge success and growth. The standard of living in our country is above the line of luxury in many other places in the world. Unfortunately, most of that growth and success was built on leverage. And as any college finance student can tell you, there is a limit to the advantages of debt structuring. There comes a point when too much is just too much and you will not be able to get out. Of course, it doesn’t help when we are waging a 6-year war that was advertised as a 6-12 month in and out mission.

I could go on and on about all that is bad and how they fit together, but that is not my intention. I heard the song Live Your Life by T.I. featuring Rihanna from my wife. I like this song. It has a catchy beat and the lyrics have deep meaning. One of my favorite lines in the song is ‘Seems as though you lost sight of what's important when depositing them checks into your bank account and you up out of poverty. Your values is in disarray, prioritizing horribly; unhappy with the riches 'cause you piss poor morally.’

It’s time for a reset; time to assess the motivations behind our actions.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brilliant Video to a Great Song

I have to thank my wife for introducing me to this one. Another good recommendation.