Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

United’s MadLibs Menu Planning

After giving credit where credit was due last week when United recovered my MacBook Air, I’m afraid I must now lodge yet another complaint against United AIrlines. The food. Of course, complaining about airline food is an easy and unoriginal target, but the last couple of meals I’ve had have struck me as particularly odd. I’m not commenting on the quality of the food, but rather the naming of the items, which does not seem to have much in common with the ingredients in said items. Here are two recent examples:

Item 1: The Tuscan Wrap. Smoked turkey, sun-dried tomatoes, canned and sliced black olives and spicy monterey jack cheese wrapped in a tomato tortilla and served hot with a side of decidedly Mexican salsa. Admittedly, the wrap-as-food-category is a bit of a jackalope itself, but how is exactly is this Tuscan? I think they’re hanging their hat on the sun-dried tomatoes and the black olives here, but in my book, pairing it with Pace Picante Sauce takes the Tuscany right out of this item.

Item 2: A Cobb Salad. Chili-lime grilled shrimp, bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, canned and sliced black olives (notice a trend here?) and cubes of Swiss cheese paired with Asian Sesame-Ginger dressing. What?!? I’ve certainly never had shellfish or a non-bleu cheese on a Cobb salad before, but pairing it with Asian Sesame-Ginger dressing takes this into the culinary twilight zone.

It seems like the menu “planners” (I cannot call them chefs or even cooks with a clear conscience) at United are simply selecting words and ingredients in a random, MadLib-inspired fashion to come up with the meals they are serving in business class and first class — which I am flying regularly these days thanks to all the upgrades I get as a consolation prize for become a United 1K flyer last year. And don’t get me started on the snack-boxes they offer (for a fee) in the economy section, for those are little better than Lunchables engineered for adults.

OK, rant over. I feel much better now. I think I’ll go grab a Lithuanian smoothie.

April 2nd, 2008     Categories: Travel    

How United saved my Air

I love my new MacBook Air, but yesterday I discovered a design flaw: it is just too small. I left it in the seat-back pocket on the plane I took from Denver to San Francisco. Brad blogged about this yesterday and kindly kept my identity (and absentmindedness) out of his post, but I felt compelled to blog about it today because United actually recovered the missing laptop for me.

I made Jason get up early and drive with me from the Hotel Vitale to SFO (we had meetings on the peninsula) so I could check with United’s lost items desk. Amazingly, they had recovered the laptop and even checked my mail client to figure out my identity — they had narrowed it down the owner to one of two people, either me or Jason, so it was good he was with me. Since I often gripe about United in my tweets and blog posts, I thought I’d give them credit where credit is due. Thanks United, you guys saved the day! I certainly thought my Mac was gone forever.

As an aside, I told this story to someone I met yesterday, and he said I was the third MacBook Air owner he’d heard of who had lost his machine. One other person also left it on a plane, but the third guy had his Air in a stack of magazines and newspapers, and his wife put it out with the recycling! The thing is so small and light, I think it might be getting lost more than the average laptop.

March 20th, 2008     Categories: Travel    

The Cabo Wabo

Cabo Wabo '05 - 001 Cabo Wabo '05 - 045 Cabo Wabo '05 - 011 Cabo Wabo '05 - 042

Cabo Wabo '05 - 041 Cabo Wabo '05 - 049 Cabo Wabo '05 - 043

Last weekend, Rex and Jason and I went down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Rex was the instigator of the trip and wanted to have a “boy’s weekend” to blow off some steam. The three of us play in a cover band together called Full Ratchet (bad VC humor, if you get the joke). Unbeknownst to Rex, Jason had spent weeks sending emails and making phone calls to the Cabo Wabo, one of the premier live-music venues down in Cabo, owned by Sammy Hagar. Through sheer persistence, Jason arranged for us to play a set down at the Cabo Wabo, and Jason and I managed to check our guitars at the airport without Rex noticing. When we arrived at the airport in Cabo, Jason let Rex in on the secret as our guitars came into the baggage claim area. Rex had told Jason once upon a time that he would love to play a show at the Cabo Wabo, so Rex was in a happy state of shock when we told him we had a gig to play in a few short hours.

We played a great set and had an enthusiastic (and very drunk) audience, including a bunch of Jason’s friends who happened to be in town for a wedding that weekend and got the crowd up and dancing. The three of us spent the whole set grinning at each other while we played. The club, stage, sound system and sound man were all top shelf, which is to be expected given that Sammy Hagar bought the club to have a fun place to go for his musician friends (including Van Halen) to play. It was definitely one of the most “legit” gigs I’ve played in terms of audience size and production quality — the only other one that comes close was a gig I played with my old band Where’s Julio? at the Fillmore in 1998 for an EFF benefit along with The Flying Other Brothers.

Our set list:

Jenny (867-5309) – Tommy Tutone

Hard to Handle – Black Crows

Honky Tonk Woman – Rolling Stones

Hungry Like the Wolf – Duran Duran

Cumbersome – Seven Mary Three

Superstition – Stevie Wonder

Play that Funky Music – Wild Cherry

Superstition – Stevie Wonder

Thanks to Rex and Jason for one of the most memorable weekends I’ve had!

February 12th, 2005     Categories: Music, Travel