Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Tale of Two Buses

So this post will have me comparing and contrasting two bus lines. I had occasion to take the on a quick jaunt down to NYC recently and here is the update.

Ride Down:

Bolt Bus
Trip Cost: 18.00
Trip Duration: 5 hours

This is the new bus service that has been started by Greyhound. Shhhh. They don't want you to know it's them. And it promises new buses, fun drivers, free internet and extra room. Well, one out of 4 ain't bad.

The trip began at South Station, the bus terminal for Boston. And this is a bus terminal, filled with people who take the bus, which are the elderly, students, impoverished and mentally ill. The line for the bus queued up and I got my confirmation number which said I was to wait on line A. There was a Greyhound service booth right next to the gate and when people asked the guy wearing the "Ask me about Seat Upgrades!" button on his hat, he went into this whole "I only work here one day a week and no one tells me anything and Bolt Bus is controlled by the driver." Nice work Greyhound. Way to help out.

Get onto the bus and noticed the seats with extra room (for wheelchair passengers) had no power outlets, and I was planning on using the onboard wi-fi. So I sat in a normal seat. The outlet is in the seatback of the aisle seat. I had no seatmate, which is good as I imagine it's odd to have someone else's power adapter right in front of your nose. And let me speak on footrests for a second. You know when I want a footrest? When there's 2 feet of space in front of my feet, not 2 inches. When you don't have a lot of leg room, a foot rest is an obstruction and not a perk. I suppose those 4' asian ladies enjoy it, but me no likey.

The wi-fi didn't work, which didn't please the hipsters with their Iphones. Not at all. The driver said that she didn't know how to work the system. I'm sure that's not in the driver handbook. So here I am sitting in a normal seat, with no internet, and this bus is going slow. I think that Bolt is looking for drivers. And mine must have started a week ago. She didn't quite handle the accelerator with skill, preferring instead to speed up and then hit the brakes when she got going too fast. Everyone passed us. All the other bus companies laughing at us.

Oh! And then we stopped for a food/bathroom break. 20 miles down the goddamn Pike from Boston! What the? I mean if you want to use the toilet, go on the bus. And if you're hungry, then get food in Boston like I did.

Best part of the trip was when she made an announcement halfway through. "Attention passengers. We are going slowly when making left turns because something is wrong with the bus. Right turns are fine but I have to slow down making left turns because I don't want the bus to tip over." That's an exact quote. I was okay with this as I figure that the only thing slower than her driving would be her driving the bus on it's side.

So Bolt, I'll try MegaBus next time. But if that's no good, I'll stick with the bus I took on the way back. I did watch Glengarry on my laptop, which was the highlight of the trip. "What's my name? Fuck you, that's my name."

Ride Back:

Duration: 4 hours
Cost: $89.00

So yes, I'm aware that this is $89.00. Which is a lot of money for a bus. It's 5 times more than the BoltBus. But let's look at the differences.
  • The bus attendant served me a turkey sandwich and then an apple later in the trip. On Bolt I had tuna sandwich that I bought at Cosi. And then it squirted out the bottom and landed all over my shirt. So I looked like a mentally ill bus patron.
  • The driver seeing traffic on the Deegan, got off and took the service road which made me so happy I wanted to hug him. There's a sign against that though.
  • I watched an awful movie called Invasion, which is the remake of Body Snatchers with Nicole Kidman. Blech. Not Limoliner's fault, but they changed the ending and I was not happy. Bolt wins here only because I made the call on the flick. And hearing Jack Lemmon use the words "cocksucker" just makes me smile.
  • And finally, there was functioning internet which means mobile blog posting and Johnny Cash listening.
  • There are footrests that I can use as there is plenty of legroom.
So while it's expensive, they know their business and it's super comfy. Amtrak costs at least $85 one way with no internet or food and plenty of delays. It's $200 r/t if you want to take the Acela. The plane is around $240 r/t. And a tank of gas is around $85 for me right now. So this is less expensive than all those options and I get to relax and do work or not.

As a civil servant, the only first class options I get are the bus. It's a sad statement really.

Where'd he go?

So I was a faithful blogger my whole time down in Paraguay and then I sort of fell off. This happens when things life and laundry get in the way. But how do I not sum up the end of the trip.

So flew business class from Buenos Aires to Miami for a total of 9 hours in heaven. AA is very proud of their new business class. You can see their gushing publicity for it here. Now, the entertainment was broken for a few hours and my reading light didn't work. I find that nowadays when things like this happen, they don't fix them. They instead "reset" the system over and over until it works or not. I don't call this a solution as it seems like something I could do.

However, my biggest distress was that they ran out of the pumpkin risotto. I opted for the lamb with a glass of Malbec. Now mind you that this is a red-eye, so I really just wanted to sleep. At 6'4" the whole extra room thing is a premium. So, here I am pushing the button making the seat lie-flat. Here's what the seat looks like. So now I'm lying flat and it turns out I end up tossing and turning as much as I did in the exit row on the way down. It felt like sleeping in a coffin. I also don't sleep on my back which I think is the way to sleep. So it was not the 8 hours of good sleep I had hoped for, but it was worth it for the service. I have to work on that when traveling to Hong Kong to visit the brother.

So I made it to Miami and my luggage went to Chicago. Though it's not AA's fault, but Tam. Tam is perhaps the worst airline in the Americas. The AA luggage guy was all "Maybe it made the connection and just got put somewhere" and then he saw the Tam baggage claim and actually laughed. I have a thought with lost luggage. I think you should get frequent flier miles for wherever your bag goes. I bet that would stop my bag being sent all over creation.

While at Miami, hung out at the Admirals Club, waiting for the connection. If you fly at least 6 times a year, these clubs are awesome. They offer a haven from the screaming masses. I took a shower at the Miami Admirals Club. That was better than sex.

So I'm back and catching up on all sorts of stuff. Hope all is well with my 4 readers out there.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sweet Baby Jesus

If I have one more piece of meat I might explode.

Bonus points for hearing Neil Diamond telling me that Love on the Rocks ain´t no big surprise this morning as I´m eating breakfast in the hotel lobby.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Buenos Dias

Today, I was on Paraguayan TV. I´m not sure what I said, though I was mindful of international incidents. We were in a city to discuss their preparations for a religious walk in December. And as the leader of this band of raggamuffins, I was chosen to speak.

I have no photos as my camera sucks and therefore I´m waiting for the pictures from my friend´s camera. I´d have no way to download them anyway. Paraguay lost to Bolivia in soccer tonight 4-2, which was heartbreaking for me as a true Paraguayan. They just didn´t have it tonight.

Tomorrow night our interpreter is playing salsa music with his band and we´re going to check it out. Buenos suenos.

I´m sure I screwed that up.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I love this place

So I´m here and well. We had a productive day at work with my counterparts from Paraguay. Yesterday afternoon was the big soccer game between Paraguay and Brazil. So we found ourselves yesterday at a shopping mall across the street from our hotel to watch the game. We made it to the food court on the second floor and it was packed with people waiting for the game to start. Fast forward an hour after some beers and screaming for Paraguay along with hundreds of fans and it was kind of surreal.

But awesome. The people here are very nice and I can sort of speak their language. Sort of. I get into trouble by myself, though they encourage me to give it a shot. And it is the only way I´ll learn.

I´ve eaten more meat in the last 2 days than the previous 2 months. Mucho carne. Off to bed as there´s an early morning tomorrow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

God Bless the Admiral's Club

So I'm in Buenos Aires, and let me tell you one thing. This airport takes the Sao Paulo Airport out into the street, kicks it's ass and then humiliates it in front of a woman. This was a much better idea to come through here. And I'm lucky enough to be in the Admiral's Club, which is the American Airlines lounge, and so I scored again.

Didn't sleep much on the flight. My neck is killing me and I'm already practicing my spanish. Now if I can survive the next flight, I'll be on the ground in Paraguay. Though with Tam, you never know.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bon Voyage

Aiight. I'm blowing this pop stand. I'm flying out of Boston at around 2 for my trip down to Paraguay. As usual, I was frantically packing this morning. I couldn't find my camera, so I'm bringing my older one. And I have no one to blame but myself.

I'll see about writing quick things from down there. I'm excited.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm legit

So it's been hot up in Boston, and in an effort to push my toned body to the limit, I went running yesterday. It was uncomfortable to say the least, but it was good to clear the head and hear the loud super-fast beeping of my heart monitor. I learned a valuable lesson yesterday:

Serious runners don't run in boxer shorts.

I figured this out as I've always run in boxer shorts. If you saw me running, given my outfit, you probably wouldn't even think I was out for a run. You might think I was being chased by one of those early model zombies that walked stiffly. I wear a t-shirt, cotton shorts, sneakers and crew socks. (Thank God I learned not to wear the athletic socks) But the boxer shorts are not conducive to running as most of you probably know.

So, I walked to City Sports, which is a great local chain around here. I told the clerk that I realized that boxers were not the way to go, and she suggested compression shorts. Which are these:

Now obviously, I wouldn't be caught dead in those. I explained perhaps there was something that wouldn't require me to stuff a baked potato into before I go out. She then showed me the running shorts section. These have mesh underwear built inside them. Ahhh....clever. I get it.
However the first pair I looked at were this length:

What the hell is wrong with you people? I'm only trying to stay in shape, not audition for back-up dancer for the Pet Shop Boys. She asked what color I preferred. I told her the way I l looked when I ran it really didn't matter. It's not like any color is going to clash with a wheezing sweaty giant careening from one side of the street to the next. No hot women are going to pass by that guy and think first, "The green was a great color. Brought out his eyes."

So I found a longer length, and got black and blue pairs for a total of $60.

I spent $60 on running shorts. The world is clearly coming to an end. I'm going to try them out tomorrow as today was beyond hot.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Shazbot it's hot.

I actually found myself saying that and then laughing out loud in public. Points to those who know where that first word comes from.

So, this weekend saw me visiting old friends. The oldest was my high school friend Sam and his wife Lizzie. Lizzie is now a Doctor, but hopefully means she won't insist on being called "Tha Doc" like Nichols. So good seeing them. Finally watched The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The movie is almost as long as the title, but good soundtrack and a nice job from Casey Affleck which shows where the talent went in that family.

Saturday saw me down in Poughkeepsie, NY to celebrate the nuptials of one Brian Couse. It basically consisted of seeing all the guys from the firehouse, swimming in the pool and drinking a lot of domestic light beer. Oh, and making fun of Dave Roberts Jr. I was a volunteer firefighter in college for two years. Two long grueling years where they called me gay and forced me to play drinking games. But I gained their trust and became a man in the process. And got fat off beer and wings from this place. Walking into that place was like a time capsule. The owner who I haven't seen in 9 years still knew my name. I think that's a sign that there's not a lot of turnover there.

This morning I was up and out by 7AM to get to the MA National Guard HQ for my Yellow Fever vaccine. I leave for Paraguay next Saturday, and apparently the yellow fever went urban there, which isn't so hot. But I got a shot, which is good. However it takes 10 days to become effective and I leave in 6. I've eaten White Castle hamburgers at 4AM, my system can handle anything a mosquito dishes out.

I gotta tell you, this air conditioning thing is awesome. I know I'm killing the earth and polar bears are being stranded, but hot damn this is the only way to live. If polar bears were the dominant species, I think I'd be reasonable about this.

Two random movie notes:
1) Don't go see Golden Compass. Chuck made me watch it and it has no ending.

2) How does Marvel just get to re-issue the Hulk movie after 5 years. That's like releasing Finding Nemo again and hoping people won't remember. Though half the audience was probably 4 when the first one came out and don't.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hair Cut

So I've been a little remiss in blogging recently. A bunch of stuff happened...

  • I've got Athlete's Foot. Which figures, the first time I've been associated with anything athletic and it involves a fungus. Good news is that they make an ointment for it. Bad news is it's the same ointment that you apply for jock itch. Meaning that when I was at CVS, it was a little embarassing evaluating the efficacy of the ointment vs. the spray while women walk by and no doubt think awful things.
  • Harvey Korman died last week. He's been in a bunch of movies, but I'll always remember him from Blazing Saddles. He played Hedley Lamarr. God he was funny. That movie was funny.
  • Oh, and this awesome lobster spot burned to the ground in Downtown Boston. James Hook and Company. A funky ramshackle building bookended by the new Intercontinental Hotel and the Coast Guard Boston offices. They had great lobster rolls. Good news is that they've vowed to rebuild. My friend Tom turned me on to them.
So I'm waiting for a haircut at this place. It's pretty cool and they have internet which allows me to blog while I wait. I'm either the coolest guy you know or a Level 9 Dungeon Master. I need to get my summer cut. Hopefully I don't turn out like this guy.