I’m in San Francisco again – my new boss and I have a meeting with a client on Monday, and after my little adventure back in October, I decided to come out a day early so acclimate a bit better. (Fortunately, a loophole my company’s travel policy covers the extra day.)

Anyway, some thoughts from the road (which I would have posted earlier, if not for the fact that Chicago O’Hare is, apparently, the only airport in the US without pay-for-play WiFi hotspots in the terminals):

  • Checking in online has its advantages. When I printed my boarding passes last night, I was able to switch into rows without someone in the middle seat. For a change, my luck held out, so both flight segments were reasonably comfortable. Of course, as each plane boarded, I couldn’t help but look longingly at those big, comfortable, empty seats (emphasis on ’empty’) at the front of the plane…
  • On the Newark to O’Hare leg, I was seated directly behind a mother and a 6 month old in a carseat. If, two years ago, you had said to me, “Hey, M-D, how’d you like to be stuck behind a crying child for two hours with no hope of escape?”, I’d have instructed you to take a sharp stick and jab it in my eye, because that would have been preferable. And yet, today? I wasn’t even phased by it. So it looks like I have a certain two-year-old to thank for teaching me some tolerance. (Don’t worry, Cindi – I’ll repay in kind by teaching you how to be snarky about movies.)
  • Of course, having a good pair of sound isolating headphones helps too. They’re a bit pricy, but if you spend any time flying (and enjoy being able to hear your music over the airplane ‘hiss’), they’re worth the money. (They’re not ‘noise-canceling’, per se, but they block out nearly all outside sound. So you’re not going to want to wear them on, say, the NYC Subway.)
  • On picking up my rental car, I came to the realization that I’ve completely forgotten how to get into the drivers side of a normal passenger car. They’re so low to the ground! (I suppose I’ve been spoiled by my Explorer – it’s a slight step up, instead of a huge stoop down, and the driving position is more of a natural sitting position, and less of…well, the best comparison I can come up with is this – it’s like sitting upright on your bed with your legs straight out in front of you. Or like using a rowing machine at a gym. Either way, it’s not terribly pleasant.)
  • This bullet point is directed at CalTrans: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it…um…well, once – you have to give at least some warning prior to major decision points on freeways! At least twice on my drive from SFO to my hotel, I ended up in the wrong lane because there was no clear warning of a fairly major decision point. Of course, nearly all the interstates here are spurs or loops of I-80, so one way or the other, you’ll eventually find your way – but that’s not the point!
  • So seeing that I didn’t get into the hotel until after 5pm (local time – 8pm EST), I was already pretty damned tired. What’s more, I noticed that the traffic headed back towards San Francisco was pretty horrible. So I grabbed some dinner and caught an early (for me…although technically it wasn’t – DAMN YOU, TIME ZONES!) show of “Syriana”. It’s a hard movie to describe, story-wise, except to say that it does a nice job of summing up the situation in the Middle East, while presenting a whole host of new questions. (And, if you’re a Trek nerd like me – Dr. Bashir!) It’s incredibly well acted, and there are no shortage of powerful moments – but given the number of intertwining plot threads, this is NOT a movie to see when you’re already half asleep. Still, I highly recommend it, right along with Participant Productions’ other recent film, “Good Night, and Good Luck” – both incredibly timely films, but in different ways.
  • Speaking of Trek, one more thing about “Syriana” – in looking at the IMDB cast list, I’m noticing that there are a lot of characters with the surname ‘Khan’, which is to be expected since much of the movie takes place in the Middle East. I’m just saying, if I were more awake earlier, I’d probably have noticed that. And secretly hoping that whoever the ‘highest-ranking’ character was in the room would respond appropriately.

That’s just about all I can muster for tonight. I’m sleeping late tomorrow, then meeting up with Jessa – she mentioned something about the Dickens Fair…hey, I’m open to just about anything. (No, really. Stop laughing.)