Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trip Report: From the Mitten to the Golden Coast-Part 2

I will pick up where I left off from part one.
Friday, August 27, 2010

After cleaning up my act from a morning (plus) of travelling at my hotel, I put on some sandals and a t-shirt and headed outside.

View from my room, loved it.

Standing above Sepulveda Blvd., this is one busy road!
Sunny skies greeted me, although it was rather cool and dry (low 70's, mid 60's) compared to home, and the other times I had been out to LA).
My first stop was imperative, I hadn't had a real meal since 4am EST and it was now 2:30pm PST! Where else but the In-N-Out Burger on Sepulveda!!

If you haven't had the pleasure of experiencing In-N-Out, get out to the West coast, you're missing out. It's amazing, and the most expensive thing on the normal menu is $3.05 (the double-double I always order!!). The fries are LITERALLY made fresh from potatoes in front of you. It takes a while to get your food, but it's worth every moment. You'll understand why the line is always so long.
What to do? Well get your food and eat outside of course as you watch planes soar in to land on runway 24R a mere 200 feet over your head. It's an amazingly unique environment and experience.

As you can see from my photo, it was starting to cloud over at this point. With the encroaching marine layer, temps started dropping. By 4pm we were at 63 degrees F. Despite the cool temperatures, I needed some salt-water in my veins. I could smell it from the airport (a mere mile from the ocean) and it was too tempting. I grabbed an OceanExpress shuttle ticket from the concierge desk back at the Radisson and a schedule and hopped on the 4:30 out to Manhatten Beach.
*Side Note* Ocean Express Trolley System is a system that connects all the LAX airport hotels with beach-front communities. It's a wonderful service and allows one to get away from their hotel without the expense of a taxi, or walking the distance to the LA rail station.
I would be out in Manhatten Beach anyway Saturday, so I decided to get a jump on the scene, despite the clouds.

I walked around for a couple hours and soon with only a t-shirt, shorts and sandals, became a little chilled (despite being a tough Michigander). I decided it was best to head back to the hotel, throw on some jeans and tennis shoes and watch planes as night fell.

By 8pm PST I was simply exhausted. It was 11pm back home, and I had been up and travelling, walking and exploring since 2am. It had been a 21-hour day, and I fell into my heavenly SleepNumber bed and was out like a light. With the lights and action of the world's fifth busiest airport still buzzing below out my window, I drifted off. It hadn't seemed like a 21-hour day, but it had been.

I was hoping for far better weather for Saturday and my wish would be granted.
Saturday's activities from top-to-bottom will be posted next in part three! Heads up, this will be a long and photo-rich post.

Until then,

Trip Report: From the Mitten to the Golden Coast-Part 1

So earlier this spring I got word that people I know would be out in Southern California for a few days at the end of August. I hadn't been since last September, and always will find any excuse to get out to the West Coast. I started searching fares on multiple airlines. Once again, Delta not only won on price, but they had the schedule and convenience I wanted/needed as well. So my ticket was booked on Delta a few months out, and the dates were set: Friday, Aug. 27-Sunday, Aug. 29.

Hotel reservations would have to be made as well. I settled on what I knew was a reliable place for the money, the Radisson LAX. I noticed an online room sale, and booked for nearly 40% off the normal rate. Quite pleased with the developments all I had to do was wait for the day to come.

Friday, August 27, 2010.
Delta 2479 - Grand Rapids, MI (GRR) to Atlanta Hartsfield, GA (ATL)
Depart 6:40am
Arrive 8:30am
Equipment: DC-9-50
Seat 10A - Window

I awoke quite early for this departure, 2:00am EST specifically. I showered and made sure I had a large breakfast/meal before hand and that I wasn't leaving anything behind. I left the house about 4am and was curbside at Gerald R. Ford Intl. Airport by 4:30am. The check-in halls were rather empty still, with a few people checking in for United and AirTran flights. I used the Delta self-check-in kiosk and had my boarding passes through to LAX in two minutes as I was not checking any luggage. To me checking luggage is a waste of time and money.

Empty GRR Check-in area at 5am.

Finally boarding was called 30 minutes prior to departure. I took my window seat on the left side of the aircraft and settled in for our almost two hour trip down.

A smooth flight passed my quickly as the sun rose outside my window. Before we knew it we were on final approach into the already warm and hazy Atlanta. I had a two and a half hour connection layover, which is plenty of time to get some coffee and walk around Hartsfield, ride the train and explore the terminals for a while. Sure enough boarding time grew near, so I wandered to the gate to get set. It was packed as expected, we were going out 100% full today.

Friday, August 27, 2010.
Delta 1755- Atlanta Hartsfield, GA (ATL) - Los Angeles International Airport, CA (LAX)
Depart 11;20am EST
Arrive: 12:55pm PST
Equipment: Boeing 757-200
Seat 35F - Window

My seatmate was a talkative chap from Dothan, Alabama, and he apparently fancied gin and tonics, as he orded four of them throughout the flight. I'm used to coming in over the Colorado Rockies and Utah, however our flight path would be greatly South of that, skimming Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle, New Mexico and Northern Arizona. I did however manage to get some great in-flight shots, here are a few:

Sometimes all you need is some great views out the window to really appreciate what flying is again and still marvel at just what it is you're doing.
Approach into the LA metro was quick and smooth, coming in over the San Gabriel Mountains and down through the valley, downtown LA was cloaked by the usual summer smog. At 12:45pm PST we smacked the runway and proceeded to terminal five.

You can see my hotel from the plane upon landing. (above)

I proceeded right to the lower-roadway shuttle pick-up area. If you've never flown into LAX, hailing a shuttle in the crazy, clogged mess that is the arrivals roadway is an experience in itself. I hopped on my hotel shuttle and proceeded to check in at the Radisson (No interior hotel photos unfortunatly). I made my way up to my 11th foor room which had a great view of the whole Southern runway complex and terminals 8,7 and 6 at LAX. From here I changed, and prepped for the rest of my Friday.

Another great Delta experience. Two smooth and on-time flights. For what I paid I was satisfied with my out-bound trip to Los Angeles.

I will post more on my brief stay, as well as the home-bound leg later. Enjoy for now!


Good Afternoon Friends!

Today marks a major shifting point in this blog. I told you changes were in store, and they have arrived. I now have a digital camera again, so I will be able to add pictures to the site of my own creation. I'm severely excited about this development!

I will also be posting my first ever flight trip report shortly! Having brought my camera and gotten plenty of pictures, I'm quite excited for the results of this trip report.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Rob Bliss Water Slide

So this weekend urban events coordinator extraorindaire Rob Bliss unvieled his 500 foot water slide on the Lyon St. hill in Grand Rapids, MI. Billed as the longest inflatable water slide on record, and weighing in at 1.5 football fields long, it has ceated quite a stir. Despite a slight opening delay yesterday due to rain, tens of thousands are expected downtown to take part in the watery action. Great care was taken by the city and it's emergency crews, Bliss's event staff, the slide manufacturers and sponsors to make sure the slide was constructed as user-safe as possible.

However early public sentiment on the slide is mixed. I have yet to get downtown to see the slide, but early accounts have line-wait-time estimates of 3-5 hours. This despite two lanes to slide, and two lines on either side. Other early returns have it billed as "glitchy". People have been reported to just be stopped early going down the slide due to too much friction, and subsequently have been forced to exit the slide right where they stop. Other accounts tell that the slide does not let you get up any decent amount of exciting speed, certainly nothing worth a 3-5 hour wait. I refuse to wait in line 3-5 hours at cedar point, let alone this.

As the POV (point of view) video shows, the user does not gain a lot of speed at all, it's more like a slow, lazy slide. Yes they want safety, but a water slide is supposed to be exciting.

Next year Bliss is planning a 1000 foot water slide on the same hill. My suggestions for the crew would be to find a way to increase rider capacity, reduce wait times, and for goodness sake make it exciting.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Favre Watch 2010: #4 Flying to Minn...

Did I just hear the whole NFC North collectively say "Uh Oh!!"?? I've got the link below, and he could be going for any number of reasons. However, something tells me the old gun-slinger in coming back.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Football and faith: Another look

So last week I posted an article about how the Islamic faith impacts players during football season.

Well here's another very interesting article from right here in Michigan. This one involves the Dearborn Fordson high school football program, and how it deals with it's Muslim majority in respect to religion. I really wish MLive had a way for me to share and imbed this story on Blogger for you, but they don't. Here is the link:


As a small opinion piece, some of the comments at the bottom of the article are really disturbing to me. The amount of growing xenophobia and religious-racism and hatred in this country is frightening. Certain political figure's followings in 2008 displayed some very open racist and xenophobic foundations. We're at the interim point with the 2012 election year staring us in the face. I urge voters to be wary of candidates from any party who have xenophobic and racist organizations in their following.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

MSNBC and Ebony Magazine's Cooperative Exploration into Solving the Urban Education Issues


So this afternoon I have sat down and am watching an episode of Making the Grade, on MSNBC. They are going over issues from everything from the unions, to parental involvement, to funding, to charter schools and technology and everything in between. Being someone who teaches in an urban district and who was raised in one, this topic has a lot of meaning to me.

I'm enjoying the show and I urge you all to take some time and go to MSNBC and look it up. This IS the investment in our future, our youth.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Delta Launches First Airline Social Media 'Ticket Window,' Revamps Home Page - Aug 12, 2010

Delta Launches First Airline Social Media 'Ticket Window,' Revamps Home Page - Aug 12, 2010

So if you haven't been under a rock the last decade, you know just how the term 'social media' has evolved, and how it's importance grows everyday. This includes the business world and retail. It was announced today that something was done for the first time. It's likely to have a huge impact across the world of business and entertainment and retail. Delta Airlines today became the first airline to allow people to purchase airline tickets through Facebook. They have created what they call their "social media ticket window" that is the first of it's kind. The move coincides with the airline's revampment of it's website landing page. What was a whiteboard style setup now has the punch and colorful, eye-popping feel of something like Bing.com.

Given that 300 million people all over the world are on Facebook, and the amount of time the average person spends on the site, this only makes good business sense. This gives Delta first-crack at a massive market, and aggresively positions their brand at a younger demographic. I would have thought a low cost carrier would jump on social media ticket windows first, either JetBlue or Virgin America, two airlines that already brand themselves as an edgier, younger entity. Since it's merger with Northwest, Delta airlines has re-branded itself with a cleaner, younger and almost edgier look. The legacy carriers need to begin to battle the likes of JetBlue, Virgin America and Airtran in terms of a youthful and energetic appearance. For the first time in a decade or more it seems the airline might be able to solidify it's brand image and reputation. However, it will be overtaken as the world's largest carrier when the United and Continental merger goes through. The Facebook move may give Delta a top-of-mind awareness with social media users in the United States, a major advantage in an increasingly competitive airline market.

This will spark a whole new wave of social media ticket and purchase options in the coming couple years. Prepare to see every other airline in the country on-board within a year. Furthermore, prepare for movie and entertainment ticket purchases, rentals and possibly even fast-food purchases to come along soon. I can already see Ticketmaster frothing at the mouth. What really has the possibility of happening is that social media online purchases may one day over take online purchases from company websites. Example being; instead of going to Delta.com or priceline.com to find airfare, you jump on Delta's Facebook ticket window to browse and purchase, and then use the actual airline website simply to gather accessory information for your trip.

So now after Facebook, who will be first to make a secure purchase option available on Twitter?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

JetBlue Flight Attendant Outburst: My Reaction

So did you hear about the JetBlue flight attendant who lost his cool Monday morning at NY's JFK airport? I'm sure you have. Reportedly as the plane was taxiing to the gate after landing, a passenger disregarded the rules of remaining seated until the plane comes to a complete stop at the gate. The passenger proceeded to stand up in the aisle and retrieve her luggage. The flight attendant, Steven Slater approached the passenger and further relayed the directive to get back in one's seat until the noted time mentioned above. The passenger proceeded to verbally assualt the flight attendant who was simply doing his job as directed by the FAA. Initial reports are that luggage fell onto Mr. Slater's head, causing injury. Further investigation reveals the passenger "accidentally" struck Slater with her bags.

After returning to his station, Mr. Slater proceeded to use the plane's PA system to curse the passenger in question publically. He then proceeded to grab a beer from the beverage cart, and activate one of the planes emergency exit schutes and slid down to the tarmac and to his car. He was later arrested at his home in nearby Queens, NY.

The story quickly became viral around the country, and the world. However, it didn't elicit the usual bashing of airlines or flight crews. Instead, the public has overwhelmingly sided with Mr. Slater. He has become a working man/woman's hero and a cult of personality overnight. Countless blogs (including mine) and facebook postings (he even has a couple of his own support groups on there) have thousands of supports voicing their opinions. I will join that list here and now.

Now I don't disagree that Mr. Slater should have lost his job, his actions are certainly enough grounds for termination. However I firmly believe that it should have been the passenger who was arrested, and not Slater. I will start by saying that while slowly taxiing on the tarmac cursing someone, grabbing a beer and then deploying a plane's emergency exit slide(s) puts no one's life in danger whatsoever. He technically did not damage company property, even though it will cost JetBlue money to re-fit the slide and ground the plane temporarily (just like replacing an airbag). On the contrary, if someone was to be arrested it should have been the passenger.

Why you may ask? Isn't this poor lady the "victim" here?? No, no, and my word NO. She acted selfishly and defiantly in the face of clearly stated flight crew directives backed up by the FAA. JetBlue wants to minimize the PR spotlight, so they will side with the passenger in this case. However, I have seen passengers booted off planes and arrested for a lot less than what occured Monday on that flight from Pittsburgh. Since 9/11, the flying world has changed. We often forget this, but flight crews have not. The only people outside of the possible air marshall they have to protect themselves at 35,000 feet are themselves. They have no hardened and locked cockpit door or firearm.

Did you know refusing to turn off your cell phone on a plane is actually a FEDERAL crime? Likewise, by refusing FAA passenger directives and physically confronting a member of a flight crew this lady put herself in some very serious waters and she may get the break of a lifetime. Any other FA may have physically responded in-kind out of fear and self-defense. While I support Mr. Slater's frustrations with thick-skulled, ignorant and rude passengers, he should have remained calm. He should have radioed the incident in immediatly and had police officers waiting at the gate to question the passenger and witnesses. Once at the gate, no one should have been allowed off the plane until it was confirmed police had arrived. Interfering with a flight crew's duties is now a VERY serious issue and depending on the situation, could carry Federal criminal consequences.

The next time you're flying, ALWAYS remain calm. Use your head and your judgement before speaking or acting in a frustrating situation. Remember to ALWAYS heed and follow the directives handed to you by the flight crew. They are NOT polite suggestions, rather rules which can carry the weight of Federal law. If you feel you have been unfairly treated, calmly work through the situation and afterwards follow through with the airline if you feel reparation is necessary for your discomfort.

Happy travelling!!



Monday, August 9, 2010

How Religion Affects Training Camp

So we always think about all the crazy things that go into NFL and college football training camps this time of year. The lock-downs in dorms, team bonding, two-a-days and sure enough, un-bearably hot temperatures. Every year we hear the story of high school, college and occassionally pro players incurring injury or even death from heat exhaustion. However, I have found a new angle I'm sure NO ONE would think of before reading the article posted here:


For Husain Abdullah of the Minnessota Vikings this time of year brings new challenges and rituals to the training camp scene. You see, Abdullah has an Islamic background and adheres to the pillars of his faith, especially during Ramadan. The Islamic holy month begins this Wednesday, Aug. 11th. The un-educated may ask, well how the hell does that mean anything for training camp? It means a lot.

"Even while sprinting in the heat and humidity during drills, sometimes in full pads, Abdullah is adamant about his faith. He will not allow himself so much as a cup of water until the sun sets and before it rises.

“I’m putting nothing before God, nothing before my religion,” Abdullah said. “This is something I choose to do, not something I have to do. So I’m always going to fast.” (AP and Yahoo)

That's right, he will be fasting from sun-up to sun-down. He will deny himself even a morsel of food, or a drop of water. With all the health warnings put up these days concerning football training camps in the horrid dog-days of August, I have a real admiration for this man's adherence to something that is so personally important to him and how he lives is life. Some may see it as fool-hardy and hazardous, and there's no denying the hazard.

It is however Husain's body, and he see's fit to do with it as he pleases. You may say, "Well team managment and ownership might be upset with him putting 'their investment' in such jeaopardy. After all, they're paying/investing in him the cost of an NFL salary, and they have made an investment in his health and physical fitness." I can certainly see the very valid point in this arguement, especially if his salary has seven figures. However, he is protected under the law just like you and I. Say I work at a store that does the majority of it's business on Sunday mornings, and the owner prefers all hands on deck for that busiest of times. Now add into that, that I may be of Christian faith and worship on Sunday mornings at my church. I have the right to use that time to recognize my faith without penalty from my employer. Yes Mr. Abdullah is taking a sizeable risk with his health, livelihood and life, but it is self-imposed of his own will.

I hope you are all plenty charged with opinions by this point.
Later Gators.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lions and Suh Reach a Deal, Favre Watch 2010, and Snyder for Governor!!

So yesterday proved to be quite the busy news day! Mulitple stories on multiple fronts to cover.

First, yesterday was the Michigan Primary day. Voting was straight ticket for either party, and this year is the governor's race. With Michigan in it's current state (no pun intended) of economic pain and with the highest unemployment in the country, tough decision and radical actions will be needed. Hence why yesterday I did something for the first time in my life, and will again in November. I voted Republican. Virg hasn't struck me as someone with any kind of a vision. I was intreagued by Michigan grad Rick Snyder from the very get go. He hasn't minced words in what he feels needs to be done to fix the state. Like me, he knows our state needs to be completely re-invented, we can't just keep putting makeup and bandaids on anymore. The 19th century was Michigan 1.0, where we harnessed out state's natural resources for prosperity. The 20th century was Michigan 2.0, where we revolutionized transportation the way the world manufactured goods. What he says we need is Michigan 3.0, and I totally agree with him and his 10-point economic plan that incorporates green energy and technology. Hire the Nerd!!!

Second, Favre watch 2010 started yesterday with reports that Brett had sent text mesages to teammates stating his intent to retire from football. Well, we all know how this is going to go down. ESPN already had all hands on deck for their 24/7 in-depth coverage of the "event" for the next month or more. Oh boy, hold on kiddos!

Finally, I was proved wrong and I hope the crow is in the oven. I stated a few days ago that the Lions would fail to sign Suh and lose him to another team. Well, they agreed with him on a five-year, $40 million deal. Money guarenteed. Now all we can do it sit and wait, to see if he inspires a new Lions defense, or if he's a bust.
Either way, with Favre "possibly" gone, Aaron Rogers and Packers should have free reign in the division. Go Pack!!


Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cleaning Up A Tree

So a friend and I decided one afternoon to take a freshly chopped down tree off the hands of a neighbor. However the scale of the job gave us an idea. Set up a camera over looking the site on a tripod and have it snap a photo every 30 seconds. That way we could put together a cool slideshow of the progress. We want to do some more things like this in the future.

Here is the result:

Oh and by the way, $5 says Brett Favre UNretires by September. Wait for it...wait for it...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Suh Still Unsigned and a Fearless Prediction

Well here we go Lions fans, prepare to have your collective hearts broken by the one thing you could possibly have to look forward to this season.

The Lions' first round draft pick Ndamukong Suh missed his second day of training camp while his agents met with Lion's management still working out his deal. If you're wondering, he's still unsigned. It's August 2nd, it is the Lions, and the "unthinkable" is certainly not out of the question. He is the one thing I would think anyone who actually spends any time watching this failure of an organization has to look forward to this season...besides another 2-14 record.

So here it goes folks. My fearless prediction is heartbreak. Suh's agents will not be able to come to an agreement with the inept Lions management, and he will walk. He'll sign with someone else and win a superbowl within 3 years. Anyone who wants to bash or flame me can go look at the scoreboard, and then go cry in your Cherios. I love a good controversy.


Peace and go Packers!