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10 Tips for a Successful Business Trip in Paris

10. Prior to leaving refrain from complaining to others that you have to take yet another business trip to Paris. You will get zero sympathy and a 12% chance someone punches you in the face

9. That 2 star hotel your company booked for you which is quite “charming” and is moments away from getting a 3 star upgrade is guaranteed to be dump. If in doubt send a work colleague a day ahead of you. You can borrow mine if needed. This is Mike. I now call him Recon Mike.

8. Forget trying to pretend you’re really French. French purposely named their cities so that non-natives cannot properly pronounce them. It’s not “Reims”, it’s “Reeeiiiiuuuummmmeeeesss”

7. No business meeting will start until the room is represented by atleast one Philippe, a Pascal, 2 Oliviers and a Gaspard. And Gaspard is on vacation until September

6. Showing up for a business meeting on a motorcycle (+ 5 points). Showing up on a moped…driven by someone else (- 25 points)

5. Accept that pate will be served at all meals

4. Be warned that French taxi drivers, when given the option to take an extremely generous 50 euro offer for a 3 mile fare or send 2 Americans walking home at 1am in the morning to their certain death..will choose the latter option

3. That friendly ribbing about France loosing in the last World Cup just cost you the business deal

2. The only no-smoking section is 40 miles outside of Paris

1. Refrain from documenting all business trip debauchery on Facebook while you’re wife is home with the kids. Trust me on this one.

United (Epic Fail)

It’s a sobering thought when you come to the realization that you are in a loveless marriage. After almost 15 years since we first consummated our love, travelled countless miles together, experienced many sleepless nights, endured crying babies and built up what I thought was ever lasting loyalty I’m packing my bags and leaving you my once beloved United Airlines. Not that you’ll miss me or my 760K of lifetime miles travelled. You only barely acknowledge my presence now anyway. I remember when we first started dating. I was still young and inexperienced..barely logging 20K miles a year but you saw the potential in me and gave me my first courtesy upgrade. They say you never forget your first time and that was never more true than for me. The flight attendant offering to take my coat. Sitting down in a plush seat and actually being able to cross my legs. Unlimited warm mixed nuts! I was drunk on that feeling, supplemented by 2 rather strong jack and cokes which were also on the house. I never wanted to go back to coach and it was at that moment that I pledged my love to you.

Things between us initially were great. After all it was our honeymoon. As my business trips became more frequent and my airline status increased, first to Premiere, then Premiere Executive and even that one year I hit 1K you spoiled me with love and attention. Courtesy passes to the Red Carpet Club. Frequent reward travel booked by real people on the phone. And who could forget that last minute trip around the world in 2005 where a mere 20K miles got me bumped from Business Class to First the entire trip. We were young and crazy and you were always ready to travel at a moment’s notice.

But then a few years ago I saw the first signs that things were in trouble. First there was the occasional missed upgrades with no explanation. I’d sit by my computer waiting for the confirmation email that never came. And when I confronted you about it you just played dumb like it was no big deal and said it would never happen again. And I believed you! But then I got stuck in coach in a middle seat bookended by 2 people that had not showered in days and thought that brushing twice a day meant their hair. How so passive aggressive of you. That’s when I knew you our best days were behind us.

I could never admit that our relationship was crumbling even though all the signs were there. I just didn’t want to see them. The more I tried the more you’d push me away. Charging me a hefty co-pay on seat upgrades that used to only cost me miles. Introducing a new intricate boarding process that put me in seating category 8 just above lepers and parolees. Scheduling me with the hot friendly flight attendant crew…if it were 1967! And I told you it was a bad idea to adopt that shady Continental family and bring them into our home with all their riff raff friends who would come between us and leech off you. You said things between us would not change but all my calls to you went to voicemail after hearing that you were experiencing higher than normal call volume. Must be all those slick Global Service guys calling you. I see how you look at them when you think I’m not looking. You’re so materialistic.

So I’m leaving you for good United. You should know I’ve met someone else. She’s so clean and beautiful unlike your tired and worn look. She likes all the cities that I like and we have plans to travel to new places together in the new year. She’s always available when I call and best of all she’s a Virgin, saving herself for just the right guy and I think we’ll be together forever.

Finding my Inner Don Draper

I find this email in my inbox from my wife the other day….

Ladies,
Does the man in your life need a bit of polishing up? We have the answer for you! Our stylists have been inspired by the cool styles of Mad Men and have created great looks for the modern guy. This month Barberia is offering a Mad Men Makeover package at an exclusive price. It includes everything your man needs to go from dud to stud in one appointment!
And once he is looking great, enter him into our Make Over Contest for a chance to be named Hottest Makeover & win one of three great prizes (and bragging rights, of course).
 
INCLUDES
+ cleanse & cut + high shine color enhancer (or gray coverage) + b.e.n.n. + facial hair design + styling product

$145  now only $80 (save almost 50%)

At first I’m perplexed.   Makeover? I keep the haircuts high and tight. No beer belly. I even own a v neck black shirt. I’m the after picture! Then it hits me..my achilles heel.   The gray hair. I’m a walking advertisement for Just for Men..the before picture. Ironically after sporting gray hair for over 20 years now I’ve   finally felt like I’ve grown into the look. Gray hair at 20 – freak of nature. Gray hair at 41 – distinguished. Apparently my wife is not yet ready to be married to distinguished. She wants a Mad Man.

After further contemplation I’m impressed by her subtle move. Lure me into a trance by affiliating a call to action with one of my favorite TV shows. Embrace my inner Don Draper, the antagonist hero of a 1960’s man as portrayed on Mad Men. But why stop at hair coloring? This is more than that. She is telling me to live a Don Draper life. A Don Draper takes it for granted that he will have a solid coif of jet black hair which would not dare stray out of place until the day he dies. That is wasted energy. He’s more concerned at the moment   that the bottle of bourbon in his corner office is over half empty and it’s only Tuesday afternoon and his secretary just turned 25. Time for a younger   secretary. He’s also annoyed that it’s 11am and he has not put anyone at the office in their place or rallied the team that indeed we’re going to win that new advertising account we are pitching. Because in a Don Draper life you always win the new advertising account you are pitching.

Instantly I take a broader assessment of my life. Don Draper does not do school drop off or pick up with the kids and if you tried to put a crossing guard vest on him Don Draper would punch you right in the face. Don Draper loves his kids but he’s never changed a diaper in his life or dealt with a “pee out”. His kids know  you don’t wake up a Don Draper when he’s sleeping unless the house is burning down but a house would know better than to do that. Don Draper laughs at triathletes. His 3 sports are boozing, skirt chasing and glaring. He’d light up a cigarette, take a long pull and blow the smoke in your face when you tell him you’re heading to Yoga class. Namaste that!

Don Draper does not sit down with his wife with the calendar and plan his weekly guys night out to make sure it does not conflict with her schedule. Every night is guys night out until he says otherwise. Don Draper does not have a Facebook account. He has a little black book and he “Friends” about 3 new ladies a month on average. Don Draper does not write a blog. He dictates his musings into an 8 track tape and has his new 20 year old secretary transcribe it for him.

Inspired I seek out my wife and thank her for inspiring me to take a new lease on my life and life the Mad Man life she so wants me to embrace.

She throws a box of “Just For Men” into my lap and says get over yourself already. And think about what you want to make for dinner. It’s girls night out.

Here’s how the hair in a box experiment turned out. Don Draper does not approve

Hot Yoga (Baking Times May Vary)

John Isner playing a Wimbledon match over 3 days…

Michael Jordon in triple overtime in 1993 NBA finals…

Ali vs Frazier in 12th round at Thrilla at Manilla….

All legends in the game but I claim none of these guys even got close to sweating as much as I did when I took part in my first ever Bikram yoga class. Referred to as hot yoga, you voluntarily place yourself in a 105 degree Fahrenheit room where you perform 26 different postures over 90 minutes, after which you’re baked to about medium rare depending on number of bastings. I was a little hesitant to try it but a friend who swears by the discipline and has the results to show for it convinced me to give it a shot and I figured the worst that could happen is I have a total body core shutdown so what the hell.

I walk in for the 9am class about 30 min early to ensure I get a good spot (next to the exit for a quick getaway if needed) As I enter the main lobby a wave of heat hits me and I think it’s tolerable until I realize it’s just a small sampling of the escaped heat from the main yoga room/oven. The earlier class is letting out and people are emerging from the room looking like they were just rescued from a week trapped in death valley. I consider a fast getaway but the receptionist still has my credit card. I try to remember if I bought the credit card insurance for purchases that could actually kill me. I did not.

Finally our class is let into the room and as I’m literally hit with a wall of heat that makes my eyebrow hair spontaneously combust I’m thinking 90 minutes my ass..my initial goal today is to last 90 seconds. I now long for the tranquil 85 degree environment of the reception lobby. Too late. I’m in and I’m committed. The very nice teacher spots the rookie in the class immediately (Hint – the guy looking on the floor for singed eyebrow hair) and formally welcomes me to Bikram. I suspect that is the insider language to coily announce that side bets on my survival are now being taken. I’m able to decipher that the over/under number on when I run screaming from the room is 37 minutes. The woman next to me clearly has the under number as she hauls out her own portable humidifier. Like 105 degrees is not enough for her. I make a mental note to sweat directly on her when possible.

Let the class begin. We start with some deep breathing exercise but I’m already way ahead of them with my own hyper ventilation technique to keep the air from starting a fire in my lungs. It doesn’t work. Then 3 minutes into the class I have to pee. Seems I took the pre-hydration warning a bit too seriously. 26 postures to go and fortunately the first one puts my bladder in a knot so I’m temporarily out of danger. .

Pose #2 . They call it Pada Hastasana  or Hands to Feet Bend all the Way Over Pose. I call it “Person in front of me please consider not wearing the shorty shorts for your next visit. Spandex can be your friend and mine” pose.

Pose #5 called Dandayamana (Standing Head to Knee Pose) My head has not touched me knee since that hard check I took on the boards at hockey game last year….by my own teammate none the less. He’s not here so I crash and burn pretty hard on this one

Pose #12 called Padangustasana (Toe Stand Pose)It’s as hard as it sounds. Support all of your weight on one set of toes. They might have just as much asked me to levitate off the ground in the seated position and I’d have about as much luck.

Pose #13 called Savasana (Dead Body Pose) Nailed it on the first try! It’s now 38 minutes in class. Dollars are exchanged between classmates. Humidifier girl turns up the dial just to spike me since I cost her $20.

Pose #14 called Pavanmuktasana (Wind Removing Pose) I quickly realize this refers to “inner” body wind and it’s at this moment I realize why there was a bit of a distinct smell emulating from the room when I first entered. On the plus side I’m one class in and my colon already feels 3 years younger.

Pose #16 called Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) This represents the first pose where you are lying on your stomach and I realize very intimately that it’s been quite a while since I last cleaned my yoga mat. I’m extra motivated to pull my head off the matt but no matter how hard I try I can’t kiss my big toe which is what the woman next to me is doing….while applying nail polish at the same time. Showoff.

Pose #20 called Supta Vajrasana (Fixed Firm Pose) Instructed as a pose easy to accomplish, I find that to be true as I start in a seated kneeling position and bend all the way back until Im on my back, knees folded in. Feeling quite studly until I realize I have no idea how to get out of the pose. Thinking fast I announce to the room that I’m going for the fixed firm pose hold record which evokes cheers from my class brethren. Once I can no longer feel my lower extremities I am able to finally break free and revert back to the dead body pose.

Pose #21 called Ardha Kurmasana (Half Tortoise Pose) Im way ahead of the game as most of my external extremities went “full tortoise” atleast an hour ago from the heat.

Pose #22 Ustrasana (Camel Pose) Bend your head and neck all the way back while on your knees. This is when I realize Mr. Bikram was a visionary. Over an hour into class one might feel like barfing from heat exhaustion but in this pose he has ensured that you will only to puke on your own face. Genius!

85 minutes into the class the heat finally gets to me and I start to display rapid shallow breathing. The Yoga instructor is speechless and quite impressed at my ability to quickly adopt as it turns out this happens to be the final breathing exercise called Khapalbhati (Blowing in Firm pose)

90 minutes. Done. High fives all around save for mean humidifier girl. I gather my mat, exit the oven and feel the glorious 85 degree lobby air embrace all around me. For a moment I’m speechless until I instinctively shout out “SOMEONE GIVE ME MY FUCKING KLONDIKE BAR!!!

BTW I really loved the class and officially addicted!  🙂

Adventures in Barcelona

Recap of my first 18 hours in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress tradeshow.

3:30pm – After 16 near sleepless hours, arrive in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress tradeshow as sole representative of the company I work for.

4:15pm – Arrival in cab just outside hotel. 15 years of world travel does not hide my “essence of gringo” and almost immediately I’m propositioned to buy souvenirs, weed and a wounded cougar Spanish lady friend.

4:16pm – 13 years at Adobe has by nature instilled blind faith that an organization that sends its employee on a business trip will ensure that proper accommodations are secured during the stay. Silly silly Scott. As I walk toward the entrance to the hotel I read this note

“During the week of the MWC tradeshow only full night room reservations will be available”

A moment lapses before I realize my company has booked me into a 1-star cash only hotel that by policy allows rooms to be rented by the hour. I turn my gaze back outside seeking an escape route but all I see is the cougar lady friend across the street who gives me a knowing wink as if to say “I’ll be here when you’re ready big boy”.

I haul out the smart phone. Surely this must be a mistake. Hopes dashed when travel itinerary confirms the destination. A quick scan of hotel review on Yelp. The words “dump”….”avoid”….”shady” and “nightmare” leap out at me first. Defeated, tired and anger brewing I succumb for the moment to my predicament and walk into the lobby.

The manager looks like he’s on the tail end of an 18 hour shift. Cables behind him lead to a dilapidated modem that likely is the sole source of Wifi that likely has a limit range of about 10 feet around the lobby. Other guests huddled around laptops scattered about the lobby confirm my assumptions. No one is over 25 except me. 75 euros nightly rate! Cash only sir. MWC pricing. Keys are handed over. Complimentary gruel and water service begins at 7am each morning. I’m pointed to the 19th century elevator to take me to the 4th floor room. I choose the stairs instead.

4:45pm – I check into my room. I believe the original decorator was inspired by 3rd world interrogation rooms for criminals when deciding on an “essence” for the room. 2 cots, a dangling light bulb and an armoire with 3 hangers. I can’t bring myself to unpack

4:46pm – The first hint of the sewer like smell wafting from the bathroom hits me. I check to see if the last guest left a deuce as a present but no such luck flushing that problem away

5:15pm I return to the lobby to inquire about getting an iron to prepare my work clothes for the week. The manager informs me there is just one iron and it’s being used at the moment. There are atleast 40 rooms in the hotel. I calculate that my turn to get the iron will come about 3 days after I’m already back home in the U.S. Then again I might be the only guest in the last few years that ever set foot on the premise wearing a suit and sporting a full time job.

6:00pm – After a good cry I decide to head out to a restaurant where healthy doses of Sangria will blunt the sting of my predicament.

8:00pm – I finish dinner and check around a few other local hotels to see if they have any remaining vacancies. After a few hearty laughs as I pose that question to front lobby managers and one prolonged grimace when I note my current accommodations I accept the predicament I find myself in and make the long slow walk back to the hotel. Around the same time I get a text message from an old Adobe colleague also at the show. “Hanging out at the Mandarin Oriental tomorrow night for drinks….join us!” That one hurt.

9:00pm – As night falls the quality of the characters lingering around the bar next to the hotel follows suit. The hotel manager buzzes me in through the since secured double re-inforced lobby door. I catch a momentary glimpse of the sacred single iron as it disappears into yet another room. I start my death march upstairs

9:15pm – I reach the top of the stairs and approach my room. The hall lights have since shut off. Lock down for the night. In the room realizing I’m still in the same clothes from a day ago I plug my nose, head into the bathroom and start up the shower. I scan my surroundings. No fancy soap or shampoo. Correction..make that no soap or shampoo. Contemplating if the liquor store across the alley from the hotel carries Irish Spring. Odds quite low. I jump in and decide to just spread the dirt around.

9:45pm – I gingerly pull of the bed spread pull back the covers, praying that all the money the hotel saved not stocking shower soap for its guests has been invested alternatively in healthy amounts of strong germ killing laundry detergent instead.

10:15pm – Either total sleep deprivation over the last day or the lingering effects of the sewer stench wafting straight through the bathroom door lulls me to sleep/unconsciousness.

3:00am – Bar next to the hotel closes. Remaining fellow quality guests return to their rooms. From the paper thin walls I hear every conversation simultaneously and crisply as if it’s being screamed directly into my ear. I contemplate offering my unprompted advice in return to one particular conversation that indeed you might want to have that rash checked out. Over the next 20 minutes the collective guests around me decide to have an impromptu door slamming contest.

3:20am – Rythmic bed squeaking sounds from my neighbor to the left begins.

3:22am – Squeaking ends. Rookie.

4:15am – I’m awoken again by shouting voices coming for the alleyway outside of my hotel. I don’t speak much Spanish but the loose translation I am able to derive from the conversation is something along the lines of “Yo WTF? I’ll crack your skull in half if you don’t give me my money” I recognize the voice of that of the wounded cougar. Mental note – Never stiff a wounded cougar.

7:15am – Sunshine breaks through my window. I survived the night. I take another soapless shower get dressed, brace open my door and slam it shut as hard as I can to provide a complimentary wake up call to my hungover neighbors.

After a hearty gruel breakfast I fire up the laptop and craft an email to my boss.

“Hi! Made it to Barcelona and the hotel your assistant booked for me. An interesting selection. Here’s a link so you can check it out for your next visit here. Just wanted to let you know I’ll be heading off shortly to the show, I’m a bit tired from the noise emitting from the bar below till 4am, sporting a wrinkled suit and a bit smelly at the moment given the lack of my hotel amenities and won’t be able to do any work from the room with no WiFi but I’ll manage somehow. BTW if you don’t hear from me in the next 24 hours inform the CFO to prepare the random money to secure my return. Glad I could be here in person as the sole rep for our company. Later!”

10:45am – Our travel coordinator calls. Miraculously a room opened up at a 3 star hotel down the road and I can check in anytime.

My Diaper Death March

Mountain climbers occasionally experience the phenomenon of the false peak, topographical oddities that seemingly indicate that a summit has been reached when in fact the journey has not yet been completed. August of last year I experienced my false peak on the journey to a diaper free lifestyle. All indications and preparations were made for a full transition on his 3rd birthday, similar to his older brother who “summitted” on his own in a similar fashion at that age. Down to the last oxygen tank and near exhaustion I soldiered on, counting down the number of diapers I had left to change a full 30 days prior and not letting any poop blowouts dampen my spirit. But the 3rd birthday came and went I realized I had experienced a false peak. Dejected, I sat down, ripped open a Cliff bar and prepared myself for a seemingly endless Pampers driven life. This was my Vietnam.

Fast forward 7 months and I have finally conquered that mountain. A single tear from my face hit the ground at the exact same moment my son’s first poop on the potty made the splash down, unclear if it was caused from an overwhelming joy that I had finally reached my summit or laughter seeing the uneasy look on my boy’s face as things were falling out of his bum. This uncertainty has quickly turned to pride as he always makes a point now to fully admire his work before flushing.

Since I have graduated into a diaper free lifestyle, I have pledged to never change one ever again. My father called recently to congratulate me on my decision but noting that that it took him about 3000 less diapers before he found his own enlightenment. Easy to say in 1971. That said I’m not jaded and I have chosen to use my powers only for the good. I happily pass on my diaper changing expertise to less fortunate male souls who are still completing their own death march though I do it Mad Men style, with a high ball of scotch in one hand while I tell you why your changing technique is all wrong. Flaps out boys…always out.

They say kids grow up too fast but this was one milestone that could not come fast enough for me. Please give a moment of silence for my personal sherpa – the diaper bin that now sits at the the end of my driveway with the biggest FREE sign I could find. Time to pass him on to another weary mountaineer.

Your Mama…

What’s up with all the Red Wing fans coming out of the woodworks when they come to town to play the Sharks? Haven’t see a Tiger fan at Oakland Collisium since Sparky Anderson still had dark hair.

Have to give it to the Sharks fans though. They channel their inner east coast die hard fan and step up in the playoffs. Best cat calls I heard last night at the sharks game when they clinched the Western Conference semi-finals to knock out the Wings

“Hey Lindstrom-Your mama face looks like she got hit with a Toyota with faulty brakes.

“Hey Babcock-You run a hockey team like GM manages a car company.

“Hey Draper – Shark fans think you suck but your boyfriend confirms you swallow”

“Hey Detroit – I hate you all and the entire east coast” (slight pause as the fan sitting next to him gives him an impromptu geography lesson) “and the midwest too”

Bring on the next victim.

Hey pass the earplugs

Biodegradable SunChip bag goodness?

Alright.. but at what cost? The bag is so unbelievably loud it makes secret snacking impossible. Bad news in a home filled with kids who never met a chip they didn’t like. Now I have to decide between my obtaining my daily empty calorie nutritional intake  vs contributing to  landfills. The answer –  well hello there Mr. Dorito!

First in line is for chumps

Reflecting back on the last three movies I saw in an actual theatre the average number of people in the audience  with me probably averaged around 4. Not too surprising given my penchant for decompressing from a full day of work and kids by catching an 11pm showing of a movie in around week 12 of theatrical release on a random Tuesday at our local cineplex. I actually had one night when it was just me in the theatre and at first I imagined I was the total “playa” in my own private theatre but it sort of creeped me out. Man killed in theatre. No witnesses sort of thing. Body not discovered for weeks due to light audience turnout.

The point is I could have seen the movie opening night and fought off throngs of people but why is it so important to be first? Star Trek was just as good in June as it was during memoral day weekend and Matthew McConaughey’s wooden overacting style is just as bad in week 3 as it is in week 1 of release. It would be more dramatic to say something like week 10 of release but have you ever seen a Matthew McConaughey movie last more than 3 weeks lately? Keep those bongos handy my friend.

Beyond movies, you hear about the people that line up for a week or more outside the local best buy to be the first to get their hands on the latest gadget.  Hey Mr Gadget, how you liking that overpriced, underperforming, battery sucking first generation iPhone that you just had to have before everyone else and took 3 days to activate? One day that will go great with your Zune MP3 player and that 32 inch Sony Plasma you bought in 2002 that cost you $10K . I just picked up a 46 inch version for under a grand.

I learned my lesson early in life on the pitfalls of being on the cutting edge. In 1978 my father marched down to the store to buy our first VCR. The Betamax vs VHS format war was in full swing and it wasn’t clear yet which side was going to win. What finally made my fathers decision was a special offer of a year’s free video rentals if he purchased the Betamax unit. Little did he realize that there was probably only 20 titles at the time that were available in Betamax  so I spent the next year switching between Star Wars and Jaws rentals. I choose not be kind and rewind that year. My father never learned his lesson and followed up that act that Christmas by purchasing the Intellivision home video game system. Never heard of it? Came out about 3 months before Atari….exactly.

So keep taker those flyers on first year quarterbacks that can’t miss in your fantasy football pool (sorry that Brady Quinn pick you made didn’t work out that well) and Twittering your whereabouts every 4.6 seconds. I’m going to check into this thing they call Netflix.