Traveling, like all things disruptive, brings out the best and worst in people.  Today was an exercise in the worst.

I got on the flight, the typical flight where the last person on board has to be greased up to get in their seat.  No upgrade possible, not even ‘economy comfort’.  So I was sitting amongst what felt like several hundred strangers all in my personal space.

Then I heard the voice, close by and loud.  A woman’s voice that seems to carry throughout the plane, echoing  down the aisle, as she began on her story to her seat companions.  Her voice was in just that register that grated on my sensitive ears, and carried past the normal.

I assumed a few minutes and she would become silent, or at least become aware of the looks.  I was, as I so often am wrong.  When the 10,00 foot announcement came on, I grabbed the Bose headphones as quickly as I could.  The three men across the aisle, sitting in front of her, were looking at the ear coverings with longing.

I could STILL hear her, over ‘This American Life’, over the Doors, over DEF LEPPARD!  It was not as bad, but it was still there.

A two hour flight, and all I could figure was that she was practicing the art of circular breathing.  There was no let-up.

I had to relinquish the headphones as we descended, the soliloquy was still in full flight.  As we deplaned I did ask on of the men across the aisle if she had taken a breat, his response was a look of horror.

Some people are nervous about flying, and anxiety can take on many forms.  But if you are on a flight amongst strangers and find yourself explaining that your offspring’s middle name is from  the general who commanded your great-great-grandfathers regiment in a war (any war!), it is time to stop.  It is time to take a deep breath, and exhale slowly.  To be silent, to cultivate peace.  Close your eyes, and remember that the people around you might be visualizing stuffing one of those nasty polyester blankets down your throat.

January extended into February in 2013

The month of January comes as a surprise every year to the travel planners.  While it does seem to come with alarming regularity, it ambushes the unwary travel planners every year.

If a trip must be planned in the first 4-6 weeks of the year, then you had better hope that the trip is planned before December 5th. If not you run the risk of all the hotels disappearing from the ‘preferred list’.  I’m not talking about just the reasonably comfortable ones, but often well past those considered borderline are gone.  As if they have magically disappeared, sucked into a black hole along with those airline miles earned on a carrier you are forced to take once a year because they had a sale..

A hotel you stayed in just last week has been added to that horrifying list of ‘exceptions’, if it can be found at all.  If you have too many exceptions (ok if you have one),  you must be counseled by your management.  You can become a person of interest in the ever growing inquiry.  Your records may be subject to auditing.  All for staying in the same hotel you did last month.  A place where they have come to know your name.

And just as magically, sometime in January the universe starts to become more normal.  The hotels have been brought out of their stasis fields.  The list grows, morphs, and gradually resumes something like it’s previous form.  Usually sometime in late January, though it has been known to stretch into February.

Happy travels!

This post was last updated on November 18th, 2019 at 03:33 pm

Reading the emergency card

A kind-of followon  to my earlier post about safety briefings. I just got off a flight where I was sitting next to a dead-heading pilot on her way to another job. Before takeoff she very carefully reviewed the safety card. That struck me as unusual – it’s one of those things I only expect first-timers to do.

Though I have to admit I can’t see those cards without thinking of Fight Club.

Moving Hotels In Rio

For those of you in the Corporate world, using hotels from a predefined list is often a requirement.  Mostly the rooms are average, nothing to excite anyone from the most timid traveler to the most adventurous.  Bland and interchangeable, if IBM could figure out a way to house us in gray walled cubicles all the time they would.  There have been many times I have had problems after changing cities and hotels, going back to the room I was in the week before, because I cannot tell them apart.

So when I made my travel arrangements for Brazil, the JW Marriot in Rio was sold out for 2 days of my trip.  So I had to move. I had to pick from a very limited selection in Rio, in fact there was only one left on the IBM approved list at the IBM rate.  Another Mercure, but I figured it would be much like those in Brasilia.

I was wrong. 
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From the sublime to the not so much

A guest post from Lyn, who does even more MQ-related travel …

Traveling to exotic locations can be a rewarding experience.  It can also be quite painful.  In performing a WMQ for z/OS health checks (aka looking at SMF data until eyes are far too bloodshot) I have had the opportunity to go many lovely places.  I would never have gone to Brazil, Malaysia, or Arkansas if I’d not been doing this.
Trouble in Rio continues…

Storm Avoidance


I was due to fly to New York this weekend, but unsurprisingly the meeting got cancelled. It will be interesting to see just how long it takes for my credit card to get refunded for the ticket – taking money out seems very fast but for some reason the other direction is incredibly slow.

But I’m glad I wasn’t in the air for this one. I was just talking with a friend who flew home through Miami 2 days ago and he said it was the worst turbulence he’d ever experienced. (Matt doesn’t travel as much as some, but he does do enough to have some idea of “normal” bumpiness.)

It reminded me of this supposedly short flight that I was on a few months ago.
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Grab your ankles – or why the safety video is not required

Anyone who flies a lot knows the safety videos and demonstrations given at the start of the flight. We can probably recite it ourselves (except that because almost all my trips use the same airline, I do get a bit of a jolt when travelling on a different one and the words are in a slightly different order.)

But a recent flight showed me just how unnecessary this demo is.
Continue reading “Grab your ankles – or why the safety video is not required”