Monday, June 27, 2016

A Different Perspective

Traveling as much as I do it's a bit easy to get jaded, spent, blase' or weary on how others view travel. Often I feel like Ron White talking about "Flying With Engine Problems", NSFW but funny as hell.

That being said this afternoons flight provided me with a different perspective. 

I boarded, grabbed a window seat, dropped the shade and slammed the Skullcandys into my ears and then prayed to the airline Gods that no one would sit next to me. Moments later a couple right out of the summer J.Crew catalog appeared. "Are these seats taken?", I replied "No", thank you Southwest Airlines for your cattle-car boarding. The J.Crew couple, appearing exhausted, released their bodies into the adjoining seats. Thinking to myself.... "You're early 30's, it's 3:00PM and you have no kids with your, why the hell are you tired?.... and the "Lobster Shorts" your husband is wearing are stupid".

15 minutes into the flight the J.Crew wife taps me on the shoulder and asks "Do you mind opening the window shade, I'm not a very good flyer". Pulling the Skullcandys out of my ear I say "Huh", she repeats herself and I mumble something resembling "Yeah, no problem" as I knew I would be staring at the glare on my iPad for the remainder of the flight.
Fast forward another 30 minutes or so and I suddenly start hearing ambient noise under the Skullcandys, it gets louder and louder, then several SouthWest flight attendants hustle down the aisle. Moments after that the loudspeaker crackles with "Due to a medical emergency beverage service is being discontinued", damn so close to that micro-sized bag of pretzels and a cup of soda.
The flight continued without issue, and then as we were landing the loudspeaker crackled again, asking us to remain seated as Paramedics would be boarding to assist with the medical emergency.  
A team of NOLA's finest came aboard and assisted this woman, who was apparently overtaken by a panic attack, off of the plane. As she passed my row I saw true fear, I saw someone so out of their element that they struggled. I also saw travel, from a different perspective.

** The crew of flight #3389, they had their act together, no one flinched, no one panicked, and we all arrived safely. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Placeholders In Life

For whatever reason I enjoy revisiting places that I've been, I call them placeholders. For instance I've revisited almost every house that I lived in as I was growing up and it's brought back some great memories. 
October 2014
When my kids were growing up we trekked to the North Georgia mountains each fall to visit Burt's Pumpkin Farm. It was interesting to watch the farm and the surrounding areas change each year, just as my kids did. That location is a placeholder in my life.

FLL                                                                                          ATL                  

When it comes to my work life I've spent more time at the FLL (Ft. Lauderdale) & ATL (Atlanta) airports than any other airport. Both contain a placeholder, at FLL it's the Vendor with Walkman by Duane Hanson, in ATL it's the at the top of the escalator.

If you've ever flown into ATL the only way out of the terminals is to take the escalator, and at the top of it, you're greeted by the 70' “Spirit of Atlanta” mural. I was living in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics, and my territory was downtown Atlanta, what an amazing 14 days in my life.

Over the past year or so there's been a Porsche mural in its place and now it seems that the “Spirit of Atlanta” will be replaced by a digital screen in the coming months, damn you technology.

I get that it's become a revenue stream, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it's still sad to see something so familiar so easily replaced.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Why Road Warriors Love Father's Day Gifts

Father's Day is a treat, insert your best Father's Day quote here......"I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection. - Sigmund Freud".

However when it comes to Father's Day gifts, it can be a bit tricky, especially if you're a Road Warrior. Luggage Scales, Money Belts are for amateurs and when it comes to Noise Cancelling Headphones we beat you to it, about 7 years ago.

Road Warriors like gifts that are cool, odd and necessary.

Cool - GoPro HERO Session - Capture high-definition footage of your adventures with the GoPro HERO4 Session HD. This waterproof camera has a wearable, mountable design that makes it easy to capture all the action from your unique first-person perspective. Plus built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth allow you to operate the camera controls and share your videos and still shots. Sometimes we get bored, plus change back on $200.00

Odd - AmaziPro8 iPhone Charge Sync Cable + Bottle Opener + Key Chain - Any Road Warrior worth his weight carries a phone charger, his keys and a bottle opener. Combine all of those things into a single gadget with a single purchase.

Necessary - Universal Travel Case - Road Warriors like organization and we like the gear that holds it even better. For $11.00 you can make someones day as well as feed their inner OCD.

Odd - The Hans Free Hoodie - This technical fabric is designed to be weather proof (rain, snow, wind) making it perfect for any outdoor activity.  It has a smooth finish on the face and a micro polar fleece interior. This fabric breathes and will keep you incredibly warm during the cooler months without the bulk of a heavy jacket. The contrast cuffs and waistband are a lighter weight nylon fabric with extra stretch for comfort and performance.

Just a small sample of the cool, odd and necessary gifts out there.  When it comes to  Dad, don't settle for something you saw in People magazine, give it some thought and truly show Dad that you care and that you "Get Him".


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Safety Is No Accident


Safety at home is a big deal, safety while traveling is a bigger deal. and here's a few reasons why.
  • You're out of your element.
  • You're at the mercy of someones, not your, definition of security and safety.
  •  If you choose to carry, it can be tough with local laws, TSA....blah, blah, blah.
Hampton Inn & Suites Birmingham Airport Area 

Next time you find yourself in a hotel bathroom, take a look at the air vent (ignore the dust) and more than likely it will be installed upside down. The reason is that years ago, long before webcams & GoPro cameras, someone's kink was filming hotel patrons in the bathroom, they eventually got caught and now most bathroom vents are installed upside down.

If you watch the video above, the major take-away is that the doors open to the outside, road warriors call those down-and-outs and we very rarely stay at those. Here's a few reasons why....

  • Ever watch the TV show Cops? Have you ever seen them in the interior hallway of a hotel room......Doubtful.
  • Down-and-outs usually have an interior hallway running between the rooms, plenty of opportunities for people to scratch the backing off of bathroom mirrors and create a window into your world.
  • They are noisy as hell, think no carpet on the walkway.
While we're on the topic of safety, here's a few additional tips.
  • Never stay on the ground floor, this needs no more explanation.
  • If you're booked into an adjoining room make sure to check the lock.
  • Make sure you set the deadbolt, see the video above.
  • Let family and friends know where you're staying, consider using TripIt.
  • Grab a business card when you check in, that way when you're out you'll the the hotels address.
  • You can always place a band-aid over the peephole in the door.
  • Hotel safes are a joke. I've removed them from more closets and wall units than I care to count, the reason, because I could.
Travel safety is up to you, and the "criminals" know that most people let their guard down when they're on safe.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

52 Day Summer Challenge

So........ after a less than stellar 52 Day Spring Challenge I'm back in for the 52 Day Summer Challenge. In the triathlon world DNF means "Did Not Finish" and that was the first challenge that I started and pulled a DNF.

There are times when it gets piled a tad bit on the high side and Spring 2016 was just that time - listed a house, sold a house, finished construction on a new house, closed on a new house, sort of moved into the new house, a major business event and prepared the youngest for High School Graduation and everything that goes with that, #ClassOf2016 . There were 32 nights in hotels, 21 flights, a new car that has 15k miles on it plus a dozen or so rental cars..... safe to say late March through Mid-May was crazy. Oh yeah, throw in a relative with a quadruple bypass and it gets even more hectic.

This challenge my goals are simple.

CE: 4/6/85 (4.71%)
RT: 2/15 (13.33%)
CT: 2/15 (13.33%)
PG1 (Weigh Less Each Week): 0/7 (0%)
PG2 (No Beer 30 Days): 2/30 (6.67%)
PG3 (Journal 7 Times): 0/7 (0%)

3 days in, and I'm already moving forward! The highlight of this challenge time frame is that the new new house will have room for my weights, bench, GHR and rack. Goodbye Globo Gym and hello working out on my terms, no Keeping Up with the Kardashians on the TV, no cell phones, plenty of chalk and the clanking of weights.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

52 Day Spring Challenge

Hope springs eternal, so they say. Spring Break has come to an end, and the day after tomorrow it's road warrior time.... and also time for 4 days into the latest installment of the Men's Health 52 Day Challenge.  While I doubt I'll get "Ripped" for summer, it's always fun to challenge myself.
The next 52 Days will be a bit of a challenge....
CE: 85 - There's 104 blocks (twice per day) to eat healthy
RT: 15 - 15 Resistance training sessions
CT: 15 - 15 Cardio sessions
PG1 Journal 8 times - I've been using Day One to journal, and this goal should help to enforce it.
PG2 Drop 5lbs - Duh.... see PG3
PG3 No Beer 20 days - I'm carb sensitive  (which means I put on the lbs), this will make PG2 an easy goal.

CE - Clean eating
RT - Resistance Training
CT - Cardio Training
PG1 - PG3 - Personal Goals

What Gets Measured Gets Done..... yes Tom Peters managed to nail it way back in the time of mullets and parachute pants..... 1982. If you don't hold yourself accountable (measured) there's  giant chance it won't get done.
Not looking to swing all political but in 1996 Hillary Clinton authored the book "It Takes a Village" (this Democratic twist just drove all my friends crazy) and I agree there is power in numbers..... hence the Men's Health 52 Day Challenge.
Time to be accountable till May, 13th 2016.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Travel Habits

When you travel, you bring certain habits with you on the road. 

Normally you'll sleep on the same side of the bed as you do at home, you wake up around that same time as you normally do (unless you're hungover) and if you crush a six pack at home each evening you'll typically do the same when you travel (forgetting about the future hangover).
BEFORE - I can't see a thing on TV..... AFTER - All fixed

I have been known to redecorate a hotel room from desks to alarm clocks, nothing is off limits. I'm that much of a creature of habit.  

Recently I read the article  Do You Use the Closet or Drawers in a Hotel Room? by Brian Cohen and it got me thinking about my travel habits when it comes to clothing. At home, we do what I call production laundry, if you want to stress test a washer or dryer send it here. *** Side note -  apparently our washer blows a bearing at 23 towels. When laundry is clean it gets put away, closet or drawer it doesn't matter.

When I travel I unpack the same way every single day. As soon as I get in my room immediately the "Do Not Disturb" sign goes on the door, I'm a big boy I don't need someone to clean up after me each day. Next the Dopp Kit goes in the bathroom. Then clothing, dress pants and shirts get hung up, if they're wrinkled 10 minutes in the bathroom with the steam from the hot water running usually fixes it. The next days undershirt, socks & underwear gets placed on the counter. This procedure is usually repeated nightly, unless it's a 1:00 AM hotel check-in, and then you get what you get.

For the most part I hold true to this system when I travel for work or vacation. I know that if I start shoving stuff in drawers I'll forget it the next morning when I pack up and leave. Case and point, last month on vacation I mistakenly hung up all my clothes in the closet, next morning I packed as I usually do and then four hours up the road I realized what had happened, thank you Fed-Ex & Walmart.

I also try not to litter bedspreads with anything, phone chargers, socks or belts because it's easy for a bedspread to get turned back and cover up all of that stuff. 

Chattanooga, Tennessee
The balance between habits at home and on the road can be a tricky one, but like most things in life it can be made to work.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Samsonite to Buy Tumi

Hello I'm "Still Working On Me" and I'm a gear whore

I feel like I carry more connectors and adapters than Amazon. However, my most important piece of gear is my luggage. I generally rotate between Red Oxx, Samsonite & TUMI, depending on the trip as well as its length. Just last week it was announced that "Samsonite and Tumi are joining forces
So what does this mean for both brands? I'm guessing not much, Tumi has always been perceived (valid or not) as a high end brand. With Tumi selling $400.00 laptop bags it's hard to avoid that label of high end, while Samsonite pushing sub $150.00 travel luggage is hard to be taken seriously for a true road warrior.
Your average traveler buying luggage at TJ Maxx isn't going to drop major dollars on luggage, no matter what name is stamped on it. Just as patrons at a Tumi store aren't going to feel like they got their moneys worth on a $150.00 carry on.
Will Samsonite have something to do with the future design of Tumi products? To an extent, I'm guessing yes, will true travelers put up with an inferior product? I'm guessing "Hell No". Tumi's warranty is second to none, destroy your bag after 10 years, more than likely Tumi will send you a new one. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

5 Things I Learned In The Last 52 Days

The latest 52 Day Challenge came to an end last Friday. It was my first challenge after a 5 or 6 year absence, and it was as much fun as I remembered it being.

My Final Numbers
CE: 93/104/89 (104.49%)
RT: 13/15 (86.67%)
CT: 20/15 (133.33%)
PG1 (Weigh less each week): 6/7 (85.71%)
PG2 (Read 3 times per week): 29/21 (138.1%)

CE - Clean Eats
RT - Resistance Training
CT - Cardio Training
PG1 & PG2 - Personal Goals

I could've made the RT number if I did a few 2-a-days, but it's not something that I normally do so I felt as if I was "skirting' the challenge that way. CT numbers are usually easy, because most every hotel has a treadmill or a sidewalk for a walk or run.

CE's & PG1 went hand in hand (you can't out train a bad diet). I stayed away from the beer and in the last week or so really cleaned up the diet. 52 days later I am down 9 pounds.

PG2 was set in place to unplug and get away from the connected devices...... and then I ended up reading using the Kindle app. Actually I found the app easier than carrying around a book with me everywhere I went.

5 Things I Learned In The Last 52 Days
  1. Globo Gyms do kind of suck, mine offers free Pizza & Bagels once a month and they have a huge bucket of Tootsie Rolls on the counter.
  2. You can't out train a bad diet, unless you're a genetic miracle.
  3. Just like Oprah "I love bread", unfortunately my body doesn't. No Gluten intolerance or Celiac disease here I just think my body says "Oh look a sandwich, don't even bother digesting it, just shove it right there, next to his F'ing belly button".
  4. There's something about accountability and community. At the start we were all in this together and no one wants to let anybody down.
  5. I miss Crossfit, unfortunately my time schedule just wasn't meeting up with my boxes. I enjoyed the variance of exercises and not having to plan a workout template. My box has a great community, from mud races to birthday parties it's a solid group of people.
and cardio still sucks.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Funday

Sunday Funday - By celebrating the "Sunday Funday" you can extend your weekend festivities just a little longer before hanging up your party pants. This day typically starts out with mimosas or bloody marys aka hair of the dog. It then typically continues through out the day until you find yourself wasted by about 6:30ish. Since the "Funday" ends early enough, you can rest assured that you will go to bed aka pass out early enough to be perfectly refreshed for work on Monday morning (thanks Urban Dictionary).

For me, Sunday Funday usually consists of getting prepared for the week ahead, grocery shopping, expense reports, laundry, packing for the week ahead as well as some yard work.  Today I added food preparation, in the form of home made salsa, caveman style. 

  • 6 plum tomato's chopped up
  • A bunch of cilantro
  • 1/2 an onion, maybe more
  • A hot pepper, today it was a ghost pepper
  • A few spoonfuls of garlic
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
Throw this in a food processor and pulse a few times..........instant salsa. For whatever reason we have a rule in the house, and right now a very unpopular rule, if you use the food processor you have to clean it.
I'll take the cleaning bullet, since the freezer is filled with stuff that sits nicely under fresh salsa.
Tomorrow yet another food adventure begins, 30 days at a minimum, but I will survive.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

10 Things About Going Primal, Again

I'm a fan of body hacking, is it shaving years off my life, who knows. The body is an amazing organism, able to heal itself in many situations as well as benefit from outside stimuli. 
Recently I've, once again, decided to change up the diet, and this time I'm going back to primal, in part thanks to a recent Joe Rogan podcast. 
I've gone primal in the past, the first week or two is a giant cup of suck, but 20+ days later it does produce results.

A bullet point outline of the basic concept.

1. Eat lots of animals, insects and plants.
2. Move around a lot at a slow pace.
3. Lift heavy things.
4. Run really fast every once in a while.
5. Get lots of sleep.
6. Play.
7. Get some sunlight every day.
8. Avoid trauma.
9. Avoid poisonous things.
10. Use your mind.

Not rocket science, but it does require discipline. I'm like Mark Sisson, and his Daily Apple site. He offers plenty of free information as well as an online store.  If you're completely new to this concept it might be worth throwing down a few dollars, if you've been around a bit you can download enough free stuff (yes you'll need to give them an e-mail address) to guide you through. 

Bring on Monday!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

52 - 42 = There's Still Time.

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' Into the future Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' Into the future.  Steve Miller Band – Fly Like An Eagle

I equate 52DC math to sleep math (It's 12:00 PM I have to wake up at 6:00 AM, if I go to sleep right now I'll get 6 hours). I've got 10 days left in this challenge, and I'm a bit short on my goals.

CE: 73/82/89 (82.02%)
RT: 8/15 (53.33%)
CT: 15/15 (100%)
PG1 (Weigh less each week): 4/7 (57.14%)
PG2 (Read 3 times per week): 21/21 (100%)

That RT: 8/15 (53.33%) number is a giant cup of suck, and it's all my fault. Yes, I can probably crank out 7 RT's in the next 10 days but playing catch up isn't what this is all about. Of the last 42 nights, I've spent 20 of them in hotels, still plenty of time to get in 15 RT's, but I decided to do differently. The 52DC is all about accountability and I own that one.

PG1 - lots of events that involve food will make you fat as well as take you away from the RT's, and I own this as well.

PG2 - a strong indicator of time on the road, besides I'm an information junkie. Like I always say "fact is stranger than fiction".

All in all with 10 days left not my proudest 52DC performance, but life is a journey, not a destination


Monday, February 15, 2016

The Nerds Shall Inherit The Earth

Yes, I work in IT,  but I've never seen Star Wars or Star Trek, never read Harry Potter and I don't play video games........ I am not one of you, I am not a nerd.

However, I have been a fan of Nerd Fitness for several years, and for a couple of reasons. First I'm a sap for those Before & After stories and second Steve uses great graphics on his site.

Recently I decided to begin reading using electronic media instead of using a book, told you I wasn't a nerd. Using a $10.00 Amazon gift card I bought my first Kindle e-book, Level Up Your Life. I did miss the feel of paper against my fingers and the sense of accomplishment as I turned each page. However I did like the ability to highlight important passages as well as being able to click on the hyperlinks (nerd term) included in the book.

The content of the book is nothing groundbreaking, eat healthy, limit booze and do full body workouts. What's different is the approach to how one applies this to their life and goals. In a nutshell, treat it all as a video game and then list your goals as quests. Give each "quest" a point value and every 100 points you level up. Easy goals like drop 5lbs might not garner many points, but major goals such as publish a book might be worth jumping up to the next level.

It sounds simple, measurable goals with a sense of achievement as you move forward, almost like the 52DC. I know that 'Leveling Up" makes total sense to the gaming community, so why not apply it to your life.

If this interests you check out Level Up Your Life and create your own "Alter Ego".

Monday, February 8, 2016

My Useless Travel Gadgets

When your job requires you to live out of a suitcase, you'll find yourself taking on a minimum of two new roles with your family and friends.

The first role is that of "Travel Agent" and the other is that of "Travel Gadget Guinea Pig". 

The "Travel Agent" role can be a bit of fun as you get to share hidden gems with others.

The "Travel Gadget Guinea Pig" role isn't nearly as fun because you end up with drawers full of useless travel gadgets. I've been on the road over half of my business career, and for the most part I travel lightly and very efficiently. With that thought in mind I have been "gifted" numerous "make your life easier travel gadgets", most of which have been stored, fancy word for hidden, in a drawer somewhere.

My top 5 useless travel gadgets are below

1) Neck Pillows - Seriously, unless you have a 50lb head these things are useless. Useless for two reasons, they're big and bulky and not worth lugging around for their benefit.
2) Luggage Scales - If you travel regularly you have a general idea what your luggage weighs. If you travel infrequently then try this, weigh yourself and then weigh yourself while holding your luggage. Now subtract the smaller number from the larger number.... that's what your luggage weighs. Plan B, take your luggage to the grocery store and weigh it on their scale. *Side Note* Dirty clothes weigh more than clean clothes, nothing magical just a fact.

3) Travel Irons - Most hotel rooms come equipped with an iron, if yours doesn't consider switching your hotel alliance. There's really no need to iron on the road. If you need help folding your suit jacket check YouTube, and most dry cleaners will "box" your shirts if you ask. Besides I'm not making my in-room mega-grilled six cheese sandwich with my own iron.
 4) Money Belts - Seriously, if the inventor of the Money Belt pitched this idea to Shark Tank he'd currently be managing the local "As Seen On TV Store". This is another product that's really not worth the hassle to use it. If you're worried about pickpockets then wrap a couple of rubber-bands around your wallet and keep it in your front pocket. The rubber-bands create friction between the wallet and the inside of your pocket making it harder to steal.

 5) Luggage - Ones relationship with luggage is a very personal thing, and it should be left that way. No matter how good your intentions are buying luggage for someone else usually ends in disaster. First many of us are brand loyal, be it TUMI or Samsonite, we want our gear. More importantly I know how I pack and I know that I want two pockets on the outside of the bag, no pockets on the inside and only two wheels, you can keep your four wheeled bags.

Road warriors are similar to Thoroughbred horses, we perform in a very organized and disciplined way, and if anything changes neither of us are worth a damn. If you spend much time traveling with a road warrior you'll notice a pattern of consistency, on a plane normally we put the same items in the seat back pocket and are loyal to the aisle or window seat (the middle seats are for rubes). In a hotel room most of us immediately hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and unpack in the same way each evening. These consistent patterns insure that we don;t leave items behind.

Not looking to hurt feelings, but when you give us a travel pillow because you knew we didn't have one, it's nothing more than an opportunity for us to leave it on a plane or in the trunk of a rental car.

In the future there will be a Useful Travel Gadgets post.