birra's Journal

birra's Journal


Honor: 13    [ Give / Take ]


6 entries this month

04:00 Mar 26 2008
Times Read: 862

It was an amazing day.

I might finally have my business on the precipice of substantial growth.

Doubling staff. Increasing revenues and profits. Providing much more than just-in-time services for local small businesses.

Or, not. Because these things always seem to blow up or just fall through.

Best I can do is to just keep working towards it.

Meetings today went well. Having over an hour of conversational time trapped in a car with the assistant manager of client services helped. I’m poised to get off of the road full-time and doing more advanced technical work – while still being available for the occasional service call. More employees could be added to take my place – and again, the hint of working direct instead of as a sub-contractor.

That in itself would be awesome.

The stars must have aligned for me today. Even my flights went smooth. 5:40AM flight to O’Hare left on-time. Connecting flight to Milwaukee left on-time. Flight from O’Hare to Charlotte left on-time and arrived early despite high winds and delays at both airports.

One more flight to take. So far, on time.

But by the time I get there I’ll probably have enough alcohol in me to not care.

The flight between Chicago and Charlotte… did offer me one surprise.

Perhaps, even a bauble, as Joli would put it.

Mid-flight, I had just woken from a nap to start the trip. The attendant left me with a refill of Bacardi and I was sitting back enjoying a drink, the sun beating in the window from the west, and reading an article in the airline magazine… the clouds below seemed to be a perfectly smooth blanket of white. Not a ripple nor a disturbance could be seen in the bright sun reflecting off of them. The flight was smooth as anyone could ask for….

…and then, a small bump. Turbulence. But not any shaking or vibrating or bouncing as what you would normally have…

…just a small bump.

Barely noticeable… but I felt it.

And looking out the window to my right, I saw it. A small line of white extending out to the west.

As if the clouds reached up for a moment in time to touch the airplane.

But clouds? No… it was a vapor trail. A contrail. Left by an airplane miles out on the distant horizon.

Its metallic hull glistened in the sunlight. From it streamed a line of white vapor… and we flew through it, perfectly in line.

Like a ship passing through another ship’s wake in the open waters… and I wondered… did anyone else notice? Has anyone else seen this? Can anyone else extend their vision to capture the moment in time this other traveler passed through the same spot we were just in?

Am I the only one who would observe this today?

And what are the odds…

Ah… this is… life.

The plane banked as it began its decent towards the runway below. The banking, the force… again filled my mind with wonder as I used to think looking up at the planes in the sky when I was younger… As a child I had always dreamed of being here, of flying, of experiencing this.

Now it’s common. Almost a daily occurrence.

And every so often… it still fills me with wonder.

It’s been an amazing day….



04:41 Mar 26 2008

I'm giving you a biiiiiig hug when I see you next...


00:33 Mar 22 2008
Times Read: 884

Nevermind.... that flight cancelled too.

Stuck in Oklahoma, and no KC, this isn't OK.

I even tried to get a flight to Vegas and red-eye back to Philly... best I could do was a 5:30am out to Detroit...

But I had a very helpful and sympathetic ticket agent assisting me who gave me a free hotel room voucher, a dinner voucher and a breakfast coupon for the airport tomorrow morning.

She also commented several times I was the nicest and most patient person she had to help all day....

...see... being nice is always the best, first approach.



00:57 Mar 22 2008

Sorry Man.

Maybe the nachos will be better tonight.


22:38 Mar 21 2008
Times Read: 888

Stuck in Oklahoma City. Weather moving through Chicago, all flights to the east are cancelled or delayed, including my cancelled flight to Chicago.

But they moved me to American Airlines. They have a flight to Chicago that is delayed, but not cancelled...

Me: "So, American Airlines pilots know how to fly into Chicago when there is weather, but United pilots don't?"

Ticket Agent: *blank stare*

Why does United constantly cancel flights through O'Hare whenever there is even a hint of weather?

Besides the fact United has picked some of the WORST locations for hub airports... Chicago, Denver...

Maybe when choosing an airport to fly 30-40% of all of your domestic flights from, you should pick an airport where the weather doesn't suck 90% of the time???

Just a thought...



22:50 Mar 21 2008

I'm telling you, open your own airline.

You will rake in the cash, you'll get so popular because you actually give service to people instead of fucking them over.


18:02 Mar 16 2008
Times Read: 901

…the sky is… plain.

A complete cover of smooth, white clouds below. I was hoping for clear skies, good scenery. But, not to be. The smooth white clouds stretch as far as the eye can see.

I ponder the pictures I took today… I watch the in-flight movie… “Something’s Got To Give.”

Am I Jack Nicholson’s character or… do I want to be?

I don’t think I want to be… but…

Unfortunately I’m not Jack Nicholson and I’ll never be coveted in such a way as he is in this movie… My life is not a Hollywood script. My life doesn’t play out as if someone wrote all of the perfect scenes.

I can’t just jump from a romantic scene on the beach making love in the rain to a poignant scene of life changing consequence. A soundtrack doesn’t audibly play for every scenario of my days….

I do my best every day to make my time meaningful in the best ways I know how. But sometimes, I just don’t know how…

…not a clue.

I spend my time doing what I can.


Trying to be…. The man I want be. The person others want me to be.

Sometimes... I just don’t know how.

These days, I feel things I never have before. My life… is not Hollywood, but it can be wonderful. In fact, I feel it is wonderful. I’m trying to take in every minute… enjoy every emotion. Enjoy every feeling. Enjoy everyone I get to know and I try to learn everything I can.

Patience. And enjoyment. Enjoying everything. Everything… the happiness…the pain… the struggle… every struggle. And even the happiness can bring struggles… pain… can bring happiness.

It’s a feeling. At least I’m feeling.

This is my life.

I spent some of my morning climbing in the mountains near Anchorage, taking my rented Toyota Camery up roads signed as “Maintained for use of Four-Wheel Drive Vehicles with Studded Ties Only.” But hey, it’s a rental. And you know the old adage – what is the difference between a Jeep and a rental?

You can drive the rental ANYWHERE.

Caroming up and down the steep hillside roads, covered in ice. Cinders have been spread on the road to help vehicles keep traction… the only moments I was nervous really was watching H2s and kids driving pick-up trucks coming down the hill at me, looking unsure of their own vehicles’ footing.

I arrived at a State Park overlook area. The winds chilled me through my light layer of clothing. The snow whipped into my face; the winds made it hard to breathe. I started out without gloves and a hat, and soon learned that was not the best of plans.

I took some shelter behind a building near the parking area and pulled my gloves and hat from my pack. With my camera hanging around my neck, I set out on the trail. The snow had all of the scenic overlooks blocked off so I had to hike up a ski path. Wearing a light riding jacket, motorcycle boots and cargo pants, this wasn’t the easiest of hikes.

I found a clearing… but a row of brush blocked my view of the valley below. If I could step past the brush I could get a great picture of the valley… but only two steps off of the path, my foot sank. I was knee deep into the accumulated snow. I took another step to move past where I was… and I was waist deep.


Holding my camera up high I pulled myself out of the snow and clawed my way back onto the trail.

I continued forward up the path. I know somewhere ahead there has to be a solid clearing. My hands began to numb from the wind and cold. The snow was stinging my face. Everyone else I see up here is bundled in ski clothing… most skiing, few hiking.

I finally reach a clearing… higher up the winds are stronger. Taking the time to take pictures – climbing up on mounds of dirt and rock, frozen, snow and ice covered. But this is why I’m here.

After ten minutes in this clearing, against this wind, I know I need to start heading back down the trail….

I stopped at a bistro for lunch and reviewed my pictures… we spoke on the phone. Your voice… warms me.

On to my sixth rum drink on this flight… the movie, not even noise in my headphones at this point…

Hollywood is... weird to me these days. Movies of yesterday speak to me more than modern movies…

I look out the window. The sun is setting. The smooth white clouds are now smooth and gray. A thin orange glow just above the clouds gives way to the blue above it… blue.. and darker blue…

…and clouds.

This… is my life.




On my way to Alaska....

07:58 Mar 12 2008
Times Read: 929

It has been a struggle. Arriving late at the Buffalo airport Monday afternoon, I found parking was almost completely unavailable. Yes, it is the start of spring break and the parking lots were jam-packed with cars brandishing Ontario license plates as the Canadian flocks started their southern migration with a drive to Buffalo to catch their flights to warmer climates.

Combined with the mess of this weekend’s winter storm that dumped nearly a foot of snow on the area from Friday through Sunday, the parking lots in general were a complete disaster.

I made my way to the far back corner of the auxiliary lots. The warm morning had started melting the snow as the parking control crews were busy scooping and pushing snow further back out of empty parking spots and out of the roadways of the lots. The result was the world’s largest Slurpee; ankle deep and covering the entire lot.

This is when I discovered my new boots are NOT completely waterproof.

After a 45 minute wait for a shuttle to take me and many others to the terminal, I was really cutting it close. I made my flight just in time and started my trek to Alaska with a quick flight to Philadelphia.

And… boy, do I despise that airport.

Despise. It might not even be a strong enough word.

Entering the terminal and checking the flight monitors the next leg of the journey, a flight to Phoenix, was delayed an hour already. Mechanical problems with the plane grounded it in Phoenix. This posed an immediate problem for me since I only had an hour layover for my flight to Anchorage.

“Oh, you’ll still make your connection,” the representative behind the customer service desk assured me.

“But, it’s only an hour layover and that hour is already gone.”

“It will be tight,” she said as if this hadn’t occurred to me yet, “but you’ll still make it, so we’re not going to rebook you to anything else yet.”

“But what about a flight to Seattle? Maybe switch to Alaska Air from there?”

“Nuh uh, can’t do that. You’ll make your connection, don’t worry.”

I worry. If you know me, you know sometimes I worry. But in this case it wasn’t worry. It was the knowledge that if they say it’s an hour delay, it will soon be an hour and a half. And that would mean I wouldn’t be making my connection.

Frustrated I walked away. I went to the Jet Rock in the terminal to get lunch.

Eating at a restaurant in the Philly airport… I cringe just thinking about it. Not only are the waiters/waitresses uncaring, unhelpful and sometimes just flat out rude, but you’re taking your life in your hands just ingesting the food at times.

And sometimes you’re joined at your meal by cockroaches the size of poker chips.

I sat at the bar. This is usually the best way to get attention, but I was promptly ignored. A bartender watched me walk in, park my bags, sit at the bar and didn’t even consider offering me a drink… or a menu… or a sharp stick in the eye, but probably for a lack of having a decent stick.

The woman sitting next to me was sipping a red beer and fanning herself with the menu.

“Can I borrow your fan for a minute,” I asked of her after waiting more than 5 minutes without being offered a menu.

“Oh sure,” she said, “by the way, if you’re not used to Philly, if you’re not the loudest squeaking wheel here you’ll never see any grease.”

I smiled at her.

“All too familiar with that, thank you. I’m sure if I do get to order something here, a lack of grease won’t be an issue.”

I quickly perused the menu, selected a beer and a sandwich, and handed her the menu with a thank you.

A few minutes later I managed to get a bartender’s attention – the same one that watched me come in and sit – and she acted completely surprised that no one had offered me anything yet.

A different bartender brought me my beer- no, sorry, scratch that. He brought me a pint of foam. It was the worst beer poor I’ve seen since high-school keg parties and he apparently thought nothing of dropping a $10 glass of carbonation bubbles in front of me.

The “kitchen” was within my view and I saw my sandwich get placed up for delivery. Over ten minutes went by and not a single bartender or server even looked at it to see where it would go to. It became a point of just timing it after a while.

Eleven minutes…

Twelve minutes…

Thirteen minutes…

I finally stopped a waitress and asked her if this was a self-serve establishment, and if it was it should be stated more clearly because I could have retrieved my own order 15 minutes ago…

The joys of the “City of Brotherly Love.” $20 for a sandwich and ONE beer… I guess the brotherly love part involves bending over.

Lube is optional.

The flight was now delayed an hour and fifteen minutes. The representative in the US Airways Club still assured me there was nothing they could do and although it would be tight, they could make up time in the air and get me to my connection.

“The landing time of 4:50 is solid, so they should turn the flight around and get it out by 5:25. That’s only an hour and ten minutes delay, they can make up about 30 minutes in the air, you should be ok.”

I just looked at him and shook my head. I know damn well a plane in Philly takes at least 40 minutes just for loading and unloading of passengers and bags. Not to mention the extra 30 minutes we’ll be sitting in line on the tarmac waiting to take off…

They’re on crack.

So at 4:50 I headed down to the gate.

At 5:15, there was still no plane at the gate.

At 5:25… the time when it is supposed to be taking off they announce the plane has landed and will be to the gate shortly.

At 5:50 they finally have the plane unloaded. Now they have to clean it, restock it and turn it around.

But wait! A new twist – they have no available cleaning crews to clean the plane!

At this point I know I’m not making my connection, no way in hell. I ask again for them to change something... move me to Alaska Air… check for another available flight out of Vegas… do something.

Again, they refuse – not denying that I’m going to miss my connection. They know now I won’t be on that flight. No chance. None. But now it’s too late in the day and there are no options.

I sigh a long sigh and stand frustrated waiting for the boarding to actually begin.

The flight to Phoenix wasn’t entirely unpleasant, despite having a middle seat. But the people to either side of me were nice.

In Buffalo I tried to get them to get me a seat other than the middle seat, but they said there was nothing available to move to. They asked if I booked at the last minute, since I’m such a frequent flyer she found it hard to believe I would get a middle seat. I booked it over a week ago – hardly last minute by my standards.

So I asked the woman sitting in the aisle seat next to me… “So, you must have booked this trip weeks ago, eh?”

“Oh no, this was a spur-of-the-moment thing for my company. We just decided to have this meeting on Friday.”

“Oh, so you must REALLY fly a lot, eh?”

“No, maybe once a quarter…”

…and she got the aisle.

I must be wearing a sign that just says, “Fuck me over this week, please.”

Oh well, I watched a good movie.

Landing in Phoenix I made my way to the customer service counter to re-ticket for the next day.

“Best we can do is put you on Alaska Air for tomorrow morning.”

“So you can transfer me to Alaska Air?”

“Sure, we have no options for you out of Phoenix…”

“But the customer service people in Philadelphia made it sound like it would take an act of congress to move me to Alaska Air…”

“Oh no, it will just be a minute…”

At this point my head was about to explode. Seriously. Do I fly so much that I actually know this shit better than the people who work at the airport?

I wanted to scream. Instead I just patiently waited for the customer service rep to finish re-ticketing me. As I looked around, I noticed a small placard on the customer service stand announcing, “Airport A.A. Meetings are held in the Airport Chapel every Friday at 12:15 PM.”


I asked the young lady, “So, are the A.A. meetings exclusively for the customers US Airways constantly screw over, or do the pilots get to attend them to?”

She giggled, “I think after today, I might be attending this week’s meeting.”

I took my new ticket information and made my way out of the airport to find the hotel shuttle. We’ll try this again tomorrow…



10:09 Mar 12 2008

God I feel like you lately with all travelling I have done...I have flew far too many times in f*#cken snow storms...Love circling in the air for 1.5 hours, while they plow the runway!

I am back on a flight in a few short hours, Toronto here I come again, this time flying out of Ottawa...YAY me!

Enjoy Australia...Have one for me! No make that 10 :o)

10:13 Mar 12 2008

God I feel like you lately with all travelling I have done...I have flew far too many times in f*#cken snow storms...Love circling in the air for 1.5 hours, while they plow the runway!

I am back on a flight in a few short hours, Toronto here I come again, this time flying out of Ottawa...YAY me!

Enjoy Australia...Have one for me! No make that 10 :o)

15:04 Mar 12 2008

I think I would have screamed at them. I don't know how you do it...

18:03 Mar 12 2008

Sorry that my city treats you so poorly my friend.

03:20 Mar 13 2008

I can't help but wonder what you blood pressure must be. Seriously Birra, you are a god amongst these people.


14:13 Mar 07 2008
Times Read: 955

After traveling all over the country for the past two years, I have decided that some of the state mottos really aren't accurate, or even honest. Hell, most of them are in latin...

So with the help of Morrigon, we have created a list of what we think the state mottos should be changed to...

Alabama – If you hear banjos… run.

Alaska – Kind of like Uranus.. big, cold and so far away no one cares about it.

Arizona – America’s melting pot. Seriously, it’s too damn hot here.

Arkansas – We wanted to be Kansas, but we got drunk the night names were being chosen…

California – Our shit don’t stink.

Colorado – Be careful, you could really get hurt out there.

Connecticut – Torturing kids in Spelling Bees since 1788…

Delaware – Riding Maryland’s ass like the unwanted little brother.

Florida – Where America comes to die.

Georgia – Peaches, Peanuts and now... Michael Vick.

Hawaii – Paradise and the highest per-capita tax rate in America

Idaho – We’ll never been known for anything but potatoes – we give up.

Illinois – Yes, it’s a silent S. Like a French name, without the pompous attitude.

Indiana – Where the boring parts of America officially start.

Iowa – Like Nebraska, except with an easier name.

Kansas – Wheat, wheat and more wheat – no one ever visits us…

Kentucky – By comparison, everything else seems better.

Louisiana – Hot, Steamy, Wet… but not nearly as pleasing as sex.

Maine – Almost Canadian, eh?

Maryland – Populated by politicians and whores – we can’t tell the difference either.

Massachusetts – Our only purpose in life is to hate New York.

Michigan – The hand the spanks America.

Minnesota – Oh geez, oh gawd…

Mississippi – Nine other states on the Mississippi river, and we were the only ones that couldn’t come up with an original name.

Missouri - Loves Company

Montana – There is nothing here. Nothing.

Nebraska – Like Iowa, except… no, wait… we’re just like Iowa.

Nevada – We had to legalize gambling. Why would anyone come here otherwise?

New Hampshire – Vermont’s bastard twin brother…

New Jersey – Still downwind from New York

New Mexico – Even Mexico didn’t want us.

New York – Whatever California does, we’ll do it too.. but half-assed and ineffectively.

North Carolina – The home of NASCAR – come for the 24 car pile-ups, stay for the moonshine.

North Dakota – Zzzzzzz.

Ohio – As many O’s as Hooters… and that’s where the similarities end.

Oklahoma – We used to be rich for our oil deposits. Damn Arabs!

Oregon – Stuck between California and Washington, and completely forgotten.

Pennsylvania – Yo.

Rhode Island – We may be small, but we’re more pompous than ten other states combined.

South Carolina – You sure do have a purdy mouth….

South Dakota – Zzzzzzz.

Tennessee – We’re not Kentucky!

Texas – Big, bold and inbred!

Utah – Whatever the other states are doing, we’re sure it’s sinful!

Vermont – At least we have Ben & Jerry’s…

Virginia – If there’s grass on the field, play ball!

Washington – How’d ya like dem apples?

West Virginia – Promoting good cousin-lovin’ since 1869.

Wisconsin – CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESEEEEEEEE! Hey, it’s not the worst thing to be known for.

Wyoming – So few people live here, we actually elected a cow as Governor and no one noticed.



14:38 Mar 07 2008

Nice list! Yo!

14:45 Mar 07 2008

lol I thought Ky would of gotten a worst rating, so....


18:33 Mar 07 2008

OMG that is so true about Florida

On the east coast is the retirement places, the west coast is the cemetaries. Sadly I'm with the cemetaries. :'(

02:23 Mar 08 2008

The man is a genius!


23:36 Mar 08 2008

Missouri should be FORCED to adopt "Missouri - Loves Company"

05:43 Mar 09 2008

Hey, I know of at least one person who cares about Alaska :p But yes, big, cold and waaaay to far away. *sniffles* I miss home!!!!

10:07 Mar 12 2008

Eh?? This Canadian thinks that pretty funny, well done!

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