Airplane Etiquette, Rants and Raves

I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to but I recently had the “pleasure” of being on an airplane as my family and I traveled over the Christmas holidays. Here’s a few rants, comments & tips that I consider basic airplane etiquette that everyone should follow.

  1. When getting out of your seat please do NOT use the seat in front of you as leverage to heave yourself out of your seat. The guy in the seat behind me on the flight from Atlanta to Phoenix pulled so hard on my seat when he stood up that when he let go my seat  became a  catapult  and I nearly flew into the first class cabin. It’s not that I’d mind the upgrade, I’d just rather pay for it and not be rocket launched into first class.
  2. When boarding, if you need to get into your window seat, do everyone a favor and please let me get up and out of my aisle seat first. This mistake is not usually made by someone who has flown before, but when someone does make this mistake it is awkward because either the person’s butt or crotch is in your face.
  3. While I appreciate the fact you brought something to keep your kids entertained, for the love all that is holy, please either plug in headphones or turn the sound down on your iPad, game boy, laptop, DVD player, etc. I don’t need to know every time your little 7 year old unlocks his next achievement in “Super Mario’s Call of Duty Halo Operations 16.” How about you unlock the achievement of considering other people on the plane?
  4. When packing, remember the size of the overhead. While your ski jacket might fit into the top pocket of your carry-on, it probably will no longer fit in the overhead, regardless of how much of your sizable heft you put into the effort. I believe Dennis Miller once referred to you as a “piece of human cholesterol blocking the passengerial artery.”
  5. When a flight attendant asks what you’d like to drink, don’t reply with “whatever”. I watched in astonishment as a flight attendant poured ginger ale, bloody mary mix, Diet Coke and Sprite in a cup because a customer asked for “whatever”. I looked at the flight attendant and she told me “He said ‘Whatever’, so that’s what I’m giving him.” I’m honestly not sure if I was amused or aghast at what she’d done. Oh, I can’t lie: it was funny as hell.
  6. This one is kind of personal: don’t board the plane drunk with your friends, take your seat and start singing “Hey Jude” at a loud volume and act annoyed when I ask you to keep quiet.  As a side note, after I ask you to keep it down, if you’re going to talk crap about me don’t do it so my wife and step-daughters in the row in front of you can hear you. Yeah, that’s right, just because I’m sitting across the aisle and a row in front of you, I’ll find out what you said and then it’ll get really awkward when you get in the elevator at baggage claim and realize that was my family in front of you. Dumbasses.
  7. If you don’t travel much, when you’re going through security, pay attention to the TSA drones when they make their announcements. Sure, the “security” they provide is more to make you feel safe than actually make you safe, but they aren’t kidding when they ask you to take your shoes off. Or your belt. Or your dignity. Trust me, they’ll enjoy performing a cavity search more than you will receiving it.
  8. Please wear something other than your pajama pants or yoga pants. I think this really only applies to younger women (they’re also usually seen carrying their favorite pillow), as I’ve not seen a man or older woman do this. I feel we’ve failed raising children since people think it’s acceptable to go out in public with this look. Sweetheart, if you want to look like a girl doing the walk of shame from the fraternity house down the street back to your sorority house while cruising at 35K feet, it’s your choice. You’re really worth more than that, so dress as if you are.
  9. Whether you’ve been upgraded to first class or actually paid for your first class ticket, don’t look at me as if I’m some poor boy consigned to steerage who will go down with the ship while you survive. First, you have a better chance of dying up front than I do in the back should the plane decide crash & burn. Second, I’ve flown first class and it doesn’t make you special. What it probably means is you got a free upgrade because you spend too much time on the road while your children grow up wondering “Where’s my Dad?”
  10. If you’re going to get up to use the lavatory, please wear your shoes (yes, I’ve seen people coming out of the lav in socks). I’m looking out for your health on this one. First, those sinks are the size of those old bowls you used to spit into in your dentist’s office – you can’t help but spill water on the floor. Also, unless you’re on a flight full of women, the odds are there is something you don’t want to step in on the floor. Any woman who has ever lived with a man will tell you that men have an aiming problem. Now imagine that aiming problem in a metal tube being bounced around in the sky.
  11. Regarding #10, actually, just leave your shoes on the whole time. While your foot odor might be sweet smelling to your fetishistic lover, the rest of us think they just smell, and smell badly. A little Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X foot powder goes a long way. Just make sure the powder is all gone before you go through our lovely TSA security checkpoint lest they think you’re trying to get some anthrax through.

 

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Things To Do As A Male Spouse At Young Life Camp

My wife is on staff for Young Life and I’m not, which puts me in the unusual position of being a male staff spouse, or as it’s affectionately and lovingly called, a mouse. Us mouses are a rare breed and we stick out like a sore thumb at the YL all staff conference or when we accompany our wives when they’re working at camp.

We have to find something to do with our time, so, with no more waiting, here’s a list of the top 10 things to do as a male spouse at Young Life camp.

  1. Pay some work crew kids to watch the kids and head into town with the other spouses to get manis and pedis.
  2. Make use of that gorgeous kitchen – it has two, count ’em, two, refrigerators – to bake a nice casserole and some pie so when my baby comes in from a long day, she has a nice, hot meal waiting for her.
  3. Finally quit procrastinating and start working on that “YL Camp Spouses Cookbook”.
  4. While the campers are at club, head over to the pool with the girls and work on our tans.
  5. Have a faux, non-alcoholic Cosmo party with the girls.
  6. Spend a few afternoons crafting and then open up my own Etsy store.
  7. Steal all but one of our spouses walkie-talkies and then lead them on a wild goose chase all over camp to get them back.
  8. Go around camp giving hugs of encouragement to all the leaders. (Side hugs only for female leaders, because remember “side hugs are for friends“!)
  9. Hook an iPad up to the TV and watch “Downton Abbey” with the girls.
  10. Go to town, buy a pair of pants and actually wear them!
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Error in WordPress on GoDaddy

I was getting an error on my GoDaddy hosted blog that looked something like this:

Warning: require_once(D:\Hosting\xxxxxxxx\html\blogs\wp-content\plugins\jetpack/require-lib.php) [function.require-once]: failed to open stream

along with another message.

It seems that the cause was the jetpack plugin I had installed was apparently incompatible with the version of WordPress I was running. The fix was to go into the file manager, find the jetpack folder underneath wp-content\plugins folder and rename jetpack to “jetpack-old”. That allowed me to log in and update the plugins. All was well after that.

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My Top 25 Most Played Songs in iTunes/iPod

iTunes and the iPod have a built-in playlist named “Top 25 Most Played”. I thought it would be fun to post it and you can see the full list below.

There are a few things on the list that were a surprise. While I love the album “The Medicine” by John Mark McMillan, the fact the entire album is on the list is a surprise. I’m not surprised the song “Out of the Ground” made the list, though. “A Salty Dog” being on the list was also a surprise. I like it and it’s an interesting song as it has Mike Portnoy singing lead vocals.

There are a few tracks that I’m surprised aren’t in the list. The first is “As I Am” by Dream Theater. That song gets my blood flowing and tend to play it when I need a little energy or want to get “in the zone” for some development. The song “12” from the Neal Morse “?” album is one of my favorite tracks and it surprised me other tracks from the album were one the list but that one wasn’t. The song starts slow and just builds into this awesome jam until it quiets down and leads into the next song, “Entrance”.

The song “Darkside of Aquarius” is obviously one of my favorites, but I really didn’t care for the “Accident of Birth” album.

Lastly, this is probably not entirely correct, as I sometimes use my Windows Phone HTC 8X for listening to music and that obviously won’t affect to the play counts.

Here’s the complete list. I’d be curious to know what others have on their Top 25 Most Played lists.

TitleArtistAlbumPlay Count
Darkside Of AquariusBruce DickinsonAccident Of Birth49
Sweet ElationNeal Morse?23
Seeds Of GoldNeal MorseTestimony 232
It's For YouNeal MorseTestimony 225
The Truth Will Set You FreeNeal MorseTestimony 222
Drawing The LinePorcupine TreeThe Incident28
A Salty DogTransatlanticThe Whirlwind20
Carolina TideJohn Mark McMillanThe Medicine22
Out of the GroundJohn Mark McMillanThe Medicine22
PhiladelphiaJohn Mark McMillanThe Medicine20
Belly of the LionJohn Mark McMillanThe Medicine20
Dress Us UpJohn Mark McMillanThe Medicine21
Carbon RibsJohn Mark McMillanThe Medicine28
Skeleton BonesJohn Mark McMillanThe Medicine26
The MedicineJohn Mark McMillanThe Medicine29
Reckoning DayJohn Mark McMillanThe Medicine29
Between the CracksJohn Mark McMillanThe Medicine19
In The FireNeal Morse?22
Crossing Over/Mercy Street RepriseNeal MorseTestimony 220
02 Panic RoomRiversideRapid Eye Movement21
Beyond the EyelidsRiversideRapid Eye Movement21
Rainbow BoxRiversideRapid Eye Movement20
The Temple Of The Living GodNeal Morse?19
Another WorldNeal Morse?19
The OutsiderNeal Morse?19
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Amazon’s Instant Video Catalog Search Needs Work

Ever since we ditched cable TV a few years ago, the amount of purchases using Amazon’s Instant Video service has gone up. We’re willing to buy the few shows that we really want to watch as well as movie rentals. I recently noticed, though, the Amazon instant catalog search feature is a bad user experience and probably costs Amazon sales.

On March 9th, we were trying to find a movie to watch. We ultimately settled on “Argo” after it popped into my head. I searched by title using the search box and it was the first result. However, I noticed “Argo” (released on DVD on February 19th) never appeared in the Instant Video section that I had narrowed down to “Movies & TV>Amazon Instant Video>Last 30 Days>Movies” by using the filters provided by Amazon on the left hand side of the screen.

As I wrote this post (March 16th), I decided to see if it showed up at all. After going through 10 pages of results, “Argo” isn’t even listed. Doesn’t matter whether I sort by Release Date, Most Popular, Price, etc. It simply doesn’t show up at all. This is a horrible user experience and it may cost Amazon sales. What if I didn’t think of “Argo”? I would have never searched and found it, but if it had been in a list of suggestions it may have resulted in a sale. How many movies rentals is Amazon missing out on because users never see a title they might find interesting?

Another problem is that titles are often listed twice. For example, with the sort to Release Date, the movie “Curandero” (which I’ve never even heard of) appears at #13 and #22. I suppose it’s possible that it’s because there are two formats: one in HD and one SD. Wouldn’t it make more sense to list it once and then allow me to see the formats in which it is available?

Curandero

Their search results also include things that certainly aren’t released within the last 30 days. The title “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” was most definitely NOT released within the last 30 days. Now, it is possible that it is showing up because it’s new to instant video, and I understand that. But what I want, and I suspect most people are looking for, are movies that were recently released on DVD for the first time. Perhaps Amazon should add a category “Fresh From Theaters” or something to indicate that this isn’t a 20-year-old title new to instant video.

I find the whole experience of searching for instant video using Amazon’s search features cumbersome and useless. It surprises me that a company the size of Amazon can’t make this experience more enjoyable.

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Fixing an Issue With Zune Software Slow Searches

I’ve been using the Zune software (which I have come to love)  to manage my music since I started using Windows Phone 7.5.

Recently, I’ve had an issue searching the marketplace. After I hit enter for my search term, it just shows me the progress bar but never returns any results. I’ve searched for an answer before with no luck. Tried again today, and found this article which recommends changing your DNS entries to use OpenDNS instead of the default DNS from your ISP. It appears to have solved my problem. FYI, the OpenDNS IP addresses are here.

I suspect you could use Google’s DNS as well and see the issue resolved but I haven’t verified that.

It’s also important to be aware that there are some reasons against using public DNS servers. Weigh that vs solving your problem with Zune.

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College Football & Missing Dad

Days like today are what make college football season fun. It’s one of those days you wish every Saturday was like, but only a few are. There are some great matchups today:  Auburn @ Clemson,  Tennessee @ Florida,  Ohio State @ Miami and, of course, Oklahoma @ Florida State

I don’t have cable TV anymore so anything I watch I will have to watch online, which is OK, because for the one that really matters to me I’ll be watching with the Phoenix Seminole Club.

There is one thing about days like today that makes it a little less fun: the fact that I can’t just pick up the phone and call my Dad and shout “Did you see that play?” or “Do you think XXXX will be able to pull it out?” Some game days we probably talked four or five times. I’m sure my friends at the Seminole Club wondered where I disappeared to at halftime. Well, wonder no more: I was outside, talking to my Dad, discussing the first half.

My dad was a huge Miami fan, but he always rooted for FSU unless the two were playing each other. And when they did play each other? Man, oh man, it was then the ribbing & needling came out in earnest.We traded barbs about how bad the other team was. We engaged in trash talk before the game. There was more than one time when I’d call him on game day and all he’d hear for the first ten seconds of the phone call was the war chant. We’d both have a good laugh and I’d be informed that I’d better watch out, there was a Hurricane warning.

We’d watch the first half separately – I was in one city and he in another. At halftime, the trash talking was gone. It was replaced with gracious talk about how well the other team was doing or the fan of the winning team giving the losing team a reason to hope if there was a beat down in progress. Comments like “I really hope you guys can pull it together in the second half” or “Right now, today doesn’t seem like our day” or “Well, if you can just run the ball a little more, you might have a chance” were the norm. We both wanted our team to win, but neither of us relished in the other’s disappointment or arrogantly jeered the other because of a big victory. Sure, we’d tease about past victories over our foe, even the ones that hurt at the time, but never, ever, while it was a fresh wound. I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. It’s a testament to my Dad’s character and who he was as a man.

The Miami vs. FSU game in 2009 was the season opener, on Labor Day. Dad had only been gone for a few months and it was a double whammy with it being the opening of the college football season and Miami playing FSU. Miami won that one and I was more than happy to let Dad have that “W”. Now, a few years later, I still miss those days and those phone calls. Dad, I’ll be cheering for Miami today and I know you’d be cheering for the ‘Noles.

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September Zune Pass Songs

A bit all over the map – again. Seems to be a recurring theme. That said, I love the fact I get 10 free songs with my monthly Zune Pass. Still wanting to get a Windows Phone 7, too so I can sync & stream music with it. My friend Derek got one for his wife who had an Android phone and hated it; she could never quite get used to it. She loves the Windows Phone 7 – especially the live tiles. Now if Verizon would get something besides the HTC Trophy.

  1. Rolling in the Deep – Adele
  2. Tokyo Road – Bon Jovi
  3. Only Lonely – Bon Jovi
  4. The Price of Love – Bon Jovi
  5. Lunatic Fringe – Red Rider
  6. People Are Crazy – Billy Currington
  7. Walk in the Shadows – Queensryche
  8. Blurry – Puddle of Mudd
  9. Hemorrhage (In My Hands) – Fuel
  10. Numb – Linkin Park

 

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The NCAA, Lawsuits and Punishment

I was reading this “story” I couldn’t help but think I agree that it really isn’t right to punish the current players for former players misdeeds, but  at the same time, that’s how the NCAA works. Each generation of players is responsible to those coming after them.

Should there be a change in the rules? If so, what do you do? What do you change? Do you tell the NFL they need to step up and punish players that broke the rules years ago when they were in college? You can’t force the NFL to do that and the NCAA has no leverage. I sure as hell don’t want a federal law – that would be a huge waste of time and taxpayers money. (Don’t even get me started on Congress investigating the BCS.)

Do college coaches need to drive home the point that you owe it to the future players at your school to not get embroiled in situations like at the Ohio State and the University of Miami? Do you pay the players a small stipend? But even if you do that, if you have a booster like Shapiro who can flash that much money at a kid, can you stop it?

This is a tough issue with lots of questions. Ultimately I think it comes down to personal responsibility. The responsibility of parents to parent, coaches to teach and coach, and the players to make smart decisions. Even if you do that, you still need sanctions because someone will always break the rules, but what good do they do if they players have already moved on?

Is the system irreparably broken? Lots of tough questions that I don’t have the answers to…

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August’s Zune Pass Songs

I apparently am musically schizophrenic if you look at what I used my 10 free Zune Pass downloads for. All good stuff, though. (Duh, because I wouldn’t have gotten them if I didn’t think they were good.)

  • You Wear It Well – Rod Stewart
  • Maggie May – Rod Stewart
  • Baba O’Riley – The Who
  • Big City Nights – The Scorpions
  • Dragula – Rob Zombie
  • Falling to Pieces – Faith No More
  • Midlife Crisis – Faith No More
  • Fell On Black Days – Soundgarden
  • Head Like A Hole – Nine Inch Nails
  • How You Like Me Now – The Heavy

Anyone have any recommendations on what I should get next month?

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