Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Airplane Seating

   So most everyone has traveled on an airplane... and for most airlines people like to be first. First to book their flight online so they can virtually choose their seat, first to "check-in" on line so they are more likely to board with the first group of passengers, or even standing in the gate waiting to get on--people love trying to be first in line to " get the best seat." 

          Some like the front for quick boarding and un-boarding, some like window seats to look at the clouds or little cities and mountains, some like the isle seats because they drink too much vodka tonic...or ginger ale. Typically, no one wants the dreaded middle seat. And most certainly no one wants to sit in the back of the plane, in the corner, near the engine. It's loud, and you can't even see out! 

         So, I'm here to tell you about my experience of flying from Baltimore to Albuquerque and back, this past week.  My flight left around 2pm last Wednesday, and I remembered to check in on line the night before my trip,  at about 7 or 8pm.  It's Southwest so there aren't assigned seats, and you get put into little groups "A 1-30,  A 31-60, B 1-30, B 31-60, and one cares... because by the time they get to C they're doing all call for the flight...just get on damnit, people want their sprite and pretzels. 

        So imagine my surprise when I checked in 19 or 20 hours before flight and was already in B 1-30. Dang those EastCoasters setting an alarm on their phone to check in right at 2pm the day before. I guess, even after school I was still striving for an A...  But guess what??  When I got on the plane....sure all of the window and isle seats were taken...but that left me with options. I got to CHOOSE who I sat in between! Novel concept, which I really had never considered. Before I would head straight to the window seat somewhere in the middle-back, and just hope and pray who ever sat next to me wasn't overly fat, smelly, or snored loud. I had no control over who I'd share the next 4 hours with. But NOW, now I looked people up and down and mulled around the idea of sitting next to them.....and then I found two women in their 30's and 40's who both looked was even carrying a poster tube...she had the markings for going to the same conference I was going too. I could still see out and was "free to move about the cabin" if I just asked the one lady to get up. AND to top it off, they were in the 5th row! 

         So I got a seat right up front, which was great for un-boarding and grabbing my luggage and sprinting to a cab before the rest of the flight. There are only 50 cabs in Albuquerque, so descending 2,000 people to the city for the conference kept them very busy!  One lady I sat next to was born and raised in NM, and told me and the other woman (who was indeed also attending the conference with me) about all the shops and restaurants we needed to visit. Plus she told us all about the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande River in the city...which all proved for appearing very knowledgeable to my colleagues later in the day!  

        So with one successful flight behind me I enjoyed my conference, learned a lot, and got to catch up with people I hadn't seen in a couple of years. Then the last day came and I had several fleeting thoughts about finding a computer and printer to check in to my flight...but it just never happened. So on Sunday when I arrived at the airport I checked in at the kiosk and printed my boarding pass and was in B 31-60. 
      Upon waiting to board I actually ran into a girl I know!  Friend of a friend type thing, so we were always at the same parties/events for our mutual friends. And when she was boarding...she said to me "Good luck with your crappy seat!"  Well... she didn't know the fun of boarding near the end! That what actually makes a good seat is not WHERE you're located on the plane, but WHO you're seated next to.
      This trip I chose to sit in between two more grandma type and one woman in her 40's. Both were very sweet. The highlight of the tip was hearing ALL about Grandma's trip she planned for her family this summer. Just picture, an older African American woman with a head full of grey and white ringlets, dressed very well, with glasses. She booked a charter bus to take 32 members of her family (most of them her grandchildren and her sisters and brothers grandchildren) from Chicago to the Grand Canyon. Oh, but they also had stops planned in St. Louis, multiple cities in Texas and ArizonaNevada...all around. She was a former Librarian and knew everything about everywhere. So each stop was centered on something historical and worthwhile for the children to see. Don't worry; she also had plans to visit Six Flags and Medieval Times. 

      And at the end of the flight? She asked for her wheelchair. This woman was taking her 32 family members around the country, on a bus, in a wheel chair! Some people are just so inspiring. Afterwards at the baggage claim she introduced me to her daughter and 3 grandchildren she was coming to visit in Maryland. Wonderful family. 

       Will any of you try my idea of attempting to board near the end so that instead of sitting where you want; you can sit next to who you want??  I just dawned on me that many of you may have never traveled alone. I've done 85% of my traveling I guess that changes things!  


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Product Review: Best Umbrella Ever

My husband has a theory about umbrellas. They don't actually belong to you. They belong to the universe. Everyone has left an umbrella a restaurant, in a closet at work, under a seat in a lecture hall, a taxi, a train...somewhere.  He believes that who ever happens upon that umbrella next is the umbrella's new owner. We all swap umbrellas because no one can actually keep track of one for very long. 

I have 5 umbrellas in my closet and I only remember purchasing two of them. They’re left over from my duck umbrella phase in high school.   OK....and maybe in college.


There are even more umbrellas in our cars.  Umbrellas are kind of like my jeans--it may seem to you that I have plenty, but there's really only one or two pairs that I wear. Umbrellas get busted so easily.  I seem to be the queen of having my umbrella go inside out or having the silver spoke poke out which makes the umbrella lop sided.

Well I hope to put an end to all of that forever! Since I walk to work now, I wanted to get a nice umbrella to use in the rain, snow, and wind. Who would have thought--researching an umbrella!? Well after a bit of time on my favorite website ever (amazon) I purchased the  GustBuster Metro Manual Umbrella, in Hunter Green.**

And oh how do I love it.  Did you know it's wind tunnel certified to 55+ mph by the College of Aeronautics? Pretty  cool. The nylon canopy is 190 thread count and is water, bleed, and fade proof. I didn't know umbrellas thread thread counts...  But best of all it has these raindrop shaped wind vents underneath to prevent the thing from flipping inside out! Brilliant. 

Everyone knows the two windiest places are Chicago (the Windy City) and UMBC. I could have used this in college, but I 'm just glad to have it now. Finally. 

Here we are in the blizzard of 2010: 

Before venturing out in the wind and snow

See those rain drop shaped wind release things?  

I typically fall for a good sales pitch and I always get so bummed when by purchase doesn't perform as well as the advertisement said it would.  But this umbrella does everything I expected! 

And because now I'm singing it...

If there's somethin' strange in your neighborhood
Who ya gonna call (ghostbusters)
If it's somethin' weird an it won't look good
Who ya gonna call (ghostbusters)

** This is not an advertisement. It's just something I like and that I wanted to share with people.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Should We Tell Her?

I take family histories for a living. 

And that means I'm privy to some pretty interesting family secrets...I mean stories. You can learn a lot about someone from how much they know about their family member’s health. I find it interesting that some of us know A LOT of detail about our aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparent’s medical histories while others just know that everyone is "fine." I mean if they're not dead, then their fine...right!?

So in walks a couple last week and I'm asking the man a pretty common question for me, "Do either of your parents have any health concerns or medical issues"? 

And his wife says "Oh ...his Mother."  They each turn their head inward to look at each other and mouth "Should we tell her??" 

So at this point I'm thinking what could it be? If they're embarrassed or ashamed to tell me, I'm willing to bet I've heard it before. 

The wife looks at me and says…

"She's O negative." 

in a tone typically reserved for “She was just diagnosed with ovarian cancer.”

It was all I could do to keep from saying "So what? I don't care." I mean geeze people....I am O negative too, is there something dire I need to be aware of?

But instead I said in good counselor form...."Is there a reason you believe your mother's blood type would play a role in you having a healthy pregnancy?" 

They had no was just something the family made a big deal of. So I was happy to enlighten them about the genetics of blood type and the wonders of RhoGAM.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day Light Saving Time

I'm all for saving the light. Or is it, saving the time? 

All I know is I lose an hour of sleep tonight and tomorrow when I wake up it will be dark....when it's actually been light for the past two weeks. Feeding the cats at 6:30am in the light has been a welcomed change. 

But even though I have to go back to getting ready in the dark for a while, I know that day light saving time marks the real start of spring. The start of going for a jog or bike ride when you get home from work because it's still light out. The start of better moods and that all around happy feeling that only bird chirps and blooming flowers give you. 

I hear babies have a hard time adjusting to the time switch--as do dogs. If my cats have a hard time adjusting--I just ignore it until they get over it. I'm nice like that. In our house no one eats before 6:30am. Sorry. 

In college I use to buckle down for a night of studying when it got dark---and so spring semester I would inevitably end up staying up much later. I'm sure my husband will be all for me staying up later seeing as how he's been complaining that I've been in bed by 9:30pm each night this week.  

Speaking of bed, he's in it right now actually reading a book. Yes, you read right....the man who starts books and finishes them a year later… or more. I should go and read too because I guess it's actually 11:30 and not 10:30.  Ugh.

Happy time change!

Pioneer Woman and her Photo Contests

Do you read PW? Most people I know do, and my favorite posts she does are the themed photography contests. I have no idea how she narrows down the pictures and finally chooses a winner.  Honestly, I don't think she knows either.

I've never actually entered any of her contests, but this last one was about cats. Now, cat pictures I have! I still didn't enter though.  All the pictures she posts seem to be done by fancy cameras with fancy editing and processing. But I still think my cats are cute and my point and shoot camera isn't all bad.

So here are some pictures that I wish I could have entered in her kitty contest:

" One eyed Jack"

"Baby Blues"


"Are you there God? It's me, Samus."