Flying The ‘Friendly’ Skies

People say you shouldn’t write when you are jammed for time because you might make some silly errors but I don’t follow that advice.

Mostly because I think there is a certain beauty that comes from not having time to question your muse and his/her idea for the words you’ll put on paper.

I am jammed now because I have to finish packing so I can catch a flight in a couple of hours.  Got to build in time to toss the clothes in a bag, drive to the airport, park and then walk through security.

It is not high on my list of desires, flying, that is.

I don’t like it very much anymore but I do it often enough I am pretty good with the drill. Still, post 9/11 flying is a task and it is not made any more enjoyable by seeing videos like that one from United.

Flying The ‘Friendly’ Skies

I often remind my children that our attitude has a big impact upon how our days go and am doing my best to just smile and stay loose today.

The more relaxed I am the easier it becomes or so I tell myself.

It works most of the time, but not all.

Have I mentioned how happy I am not to be flying United today. Can’t say I am interested in paying for food, blanket, ticket and a beating.

****

I didn’t get as much sleep last night as I wanted to because I had to make sure I talked to the kids before my flight today.

Since they are two hours behind me and were busy until quite late it meant I didn’t finish speaking with them until after midnight.

Most of the time I don’t think twice about that because I am good at sleeping on planes but this flight is all of an hour so I am not sure if I’ll be able to catch as long a nap as I might like.

But I’ll do my best and maybe some lucky person will get to hear me snore. 😉

I kind of feel badly about it because no one wants to listen to someone snoring and yet I need the rest. Since I am unlikely to see these people again I’ll just let it go I suppose.

That reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend who asked how many social conventions are lifted if we are with strangers.

The answer for me is not many.

You won’t catch me clipping my toenails on a plane or engaging in other personal behavior like that, especially since I have seen it on flights before.

I don’t gross out easily, but that just makes me go yuck.

Reading Material

Been a while since I provided links to other posts here and since I won’t be able to update for a few days I’ll provide a list you can dig into if you so choose.

Here is a short selection of posts to get you started:

An Uncertain Certainty
Words Are The Death Of A Blogger
A Father Describes Parenting
A Father’s Burden
How Sister’s Helped to Train A Father of “Daddy’s Girl”
Inside the Blogger’s Studio- A Dream, Er Nightmare
The GermoPhobe
What I Dream About
I am In Love
Becoming a Dad
Dad’s Most Important Job
A Decade of Dad
Grandpa
Donuts
Why Your Post Sucks and Everyone Hates Your Blog
Of Dads and Daughters

See you in the comments. Back with new material later this week.

P.S. The post before this isn’t bad, try giving it a read.

Just Click Your Heels

It is a traveling day here at the Shack.

Got a quick trip to take and I am a mixture of nerves and excitement. Feels strange to be leaving home to go home.

But I am excited to see my family and looking forward to playing with the dog.

Yeah, I mentioned the dog specifically because I speak with everyone else by telephone or Facetime and that furball doesn’t always respond when I am on camera.

He did lick the phone the other day, but I can’t say it is because he saw my face and heard my voice.

Had he smelled me I would be certain, but that didn’t happen and that is cool. I don’t think I am ready for smells via Internet.

What Part Am I Playing Today

Having made the big move for the job without the family has ensured that I get time to explore some of my roles more intently than I might otherwise do.

That is because when you go from living with people to not living with anyone you find yourself with an enormous amount of time to just sit around and think.

It is a double edged sword because it doesn’t take long for you to start to miss the chaos and confusion that comes along with the rest of the family.

And because you cannot help but think about how fast time goes and that your children don’t stop growing when you are not around.

My oldest is turning 16 this month which means it won’t be all that long before he is out of the house.

Doesn’t matter whether it happens at 18 or 21 because the reality is the bulk of our time living together has passed.

That is a bittersweet thought.

If I have done a decent job raising him he’ll go off and become a productive and self-sufficient member of society.

That is the goal and the hope.

****

My youngest is 12.5 and racing towards 13 as fast as she can go which I guess means we are around the halfway mark.

That is so damn surreal to me.

Go back 13 years and I have a toddler roaming around and negotiations about whether we are going to try for more than one more kid.

Go forward the same and I’ll be 60.

Sixty freaking years old and my kids will be in their twenties. I might even be a grandfather by then, though I am not pushing for that.

Let them have kids when they are married and ready.

****

So today I move back from playing the part of working stiff who traveled abroad to try and provide for his family to dad with kids in pocket.

That is pretty damn cool.

Just Click Your Heels

Can’t make like Dorothy and just click my heels so I have to finish packing in a moment because my flight is in about four hours.

I am hopeful it is an easy trip and that we don’t get stuck on the tarmac or in security.

Hopeful it is easy to sleep and if not, well I finally bought a kindle and have loaded it with a ton of books.

I still prefer a book in hand, but this is an acceptable compromise for travel, certainly easier than the five or six books I would otherwise lug around.

****

Got to run now folks, see you on the other side.

Traveling Music

Many of you have asked for us to provide you with a “how we make the magic happen” tour of the Traveling Jack show. And by gum we aim to please so here is a sneak peek at some of the  back stage activities and events that are tied into the tour.

A special soundtrack is prepared for every tour. Typically it is a multiple CD pack of music that is designed to serve a number of functions. There are “educational” songs that are included for the children. Educational doesn’t necessarily mean stuff that they would get in school, rather it is exposure to music that they might not be familiar with.

There is driving music that is included for those portions of the trip that involve heavy driving time. Sometimes the driving music is fast and upbeat and others it is soft and relaxed- something that will help the small passengers sleep.

One of the most important CDs is the airplane mix. This is specially made for Traveling Jack himself. The old man is a bit of a nervous flyer, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. The guy has a dysfunctional digestive system that sometimes sends him racing for a restroom. The limited access on a plane always makes him crazy. It is made worse by moments where he is trapped in a middle seat, blocked by a drink cart and or instructed not to get out of his seat.

Since music soothes the savage beast these mixes have proven to be effective tools for meeting the needs of all involved. But they also serve a secondary purpose of helping to cement memories of good times. That is important to all of the members of the tour, but  even more so for the children. They don’t realize yet how special these memories will be to them down the line.

As promised here is a snapshot of some of the soundtrack:

You’re My Home– Billy Joel 
Tefilat Haderech
Ride Across The River– Dire Straits
Good Vibrations– Beach Boys
Sloop John B– Beach Boys
Our House– Madness
Moonlight Sonata– Beethoven 
Piano Concerto No. 21 – Andante-Mozart

How to maximize frequent flier miles

CNN has some useful advice for how to maximize frequent flier miles.

The key to redeeming miles lies in how the airlines value them. Since miles rewards programs were introduced, the industry rule of thumb has always been that a mile was worth about two cents. The underlying formula: 25,000 miles were required for one round-trip domestic coach ticket, which was estimated to have an average price of $500. (In other words, $500÷25,000=$0.02.)

But discount airlines and Internet fares have forced ticket prices down: the average domestic round-trip fare was $362 in the third quarter of 2008, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. One mile has depreciated to around 1.5 cents today.

To decide how much an award ticket is worth, make some calculations. If you find a particularly good airfare deal, snap it up in cash and reserve your miles for times when fewer deals are available. Taking award seats makes the most sense when the cash value of a ticket is roughly in line with its cost in miles (say, when you find a last-minute flight to a popular European city that costs $600, and you can put down 60,000 miles — or 1 cent per mile — to buy it).

Top Vacations for the Newly Unemployed

Travel and Leisure has a slideshow here that you can use to find their list of the Top Vacations for the Newly Unemployed.

I am partial to the sailing and chef jobs.

CNN has a similar story in which they discuss whether post layoff is the right time to take a vacation.

“For those who buy a plane ticket before they get the ax, JetBlue is offering to refund fares. The JetBlue Promise promotion is good for customers laid off on or after February 17 and applies to ticket purchases made between February 1 and June 1.

The program is designed to appeal to people who haven’t been downsized but worry they might be, said Alison Croyle, a spokeswoman for the airline.

“It’s something that we felt would provide an advantage to customers who otherwise might be too stressed to book future travel plans,” she said.

Then there’s the already-laid-off demographic.

On some packages, Intrepid Travel is giving a 15 percent discount to people who’ve recently been let go.

The deal, with the tongue-in-cheek title, “Laid off? How about taking off?” has gotten a few dozen takers in the two months it’s been offered, said Leslie Cohen, spokeswoman for the travel company.

Cohen said the discount is designed to give people a chance to clear their heads during a tough transition. Some of the deals start at less than $1,000, she said.

The company is “not suggesting you use your life savings,” she said. “It’s really just a chance to catch your breath and see something else and come back in a little bit of a different frame of mind.”

For those looking to hit the skies on the job hunt rather than escape it, SkyRoll, maker of a $149.99 garment bag, says it’s giving a discount.

“If you recently lost your job and need to travel for an interview, we will take 50 percent off the price of a SkyRoll to help you arrive looking your best,” the company says on its Web site. To get the discount, SkyRoll requires customers to e-mail the company a layoff notice.

Travel discounts like the one from Intrepid may be great for unemployed people who have hefty savings accounts or large severance packages, but the program also could prey on the unemployed, said Madeline Hughes, who runs a consulting and outplacement group in Denver, Colorado.

The cost of a big trip “could be lunch money for somebody for the next six months,” she said. “