March 2009


The world economy is still in the pits. Unemployment is still rising and the travel business is falling. Most airlines are suffering a major drop in their bookings, particularly with business/first-class bookings. But what is bad for the airlines can be good for travelers who are looking for a deal.

Over the past week or so, nearly all the US legacy airlines are offering double or triple elite miles for booking and flying between now and about mid-summer. The exact offer details vary by airline, but if your goal is to achieve elite status or earn more miles towards a free flight, now would be a good time to take a trip. Some airlines are also offering bonuses on specific routes. American and United are both offering a mileage bonus for booking between the US and the UK through the summer. They are also offering deals on flights between Boston and California.

And it’s not just the airlines getting in on the action. Amtrak is also offering double points for nearly every trip taken between now and May 8th. They did this same promotion last year and I was able to take advantage of it when I went from Orlando to Philadelphia. They are also offering quadruple points for taking a trip on National Train Day which is May 9th.

For all of these promotions, you will need to register in advance online before booking or taking the trips to have them count. Here are the links to the double/triple miles promos:

American
Continental
Delta
Northwest
United
Amtrak

On the hotel front, there hasn’t been any deals like what the airlines are offering. But many properties are cutting prices to fill the rooms since bookings are down. Many individual hotels are offering deals though so it’s worth doing some research into the local offerings.

Personally, I haven’t taken advantage of any of the deals yet, but will almost certainly take an Amtrak trip or two when I am in Boston next month. I’m watching fares for a few different destinations though so hopefully something that fits with my schedule and budget will turn up soon.

The world economy is still in the pits. Unemployment is still rising and the travel business is falling. Most airlines are suffering a major drop in their bookings, particularly with business/first-class bookings. But what is bad for the airlines can be good for travelers who are looking for a deal.

Over the past week or so, nearly all the US legacy airlines are offering double or triple elite miles for booking and flying between now and about mid-summer. The exact offer details vary by airline, but if your goal is to achieve elite status or earn more miles towards a free flight, now would be a good time to take a trip. Some airlines are also offering bonuses on specific routes. American and United are both offering a mileage bonus for booking between the US and the UK through the summer. They are also offering deals on flights between Boston and California.

And it’s not just the airlines getting in on the action. Amtrak is also offering double points for nearly every trip taken between now and May 8th. They did this same promotion last year and I was able to take advantage of it when I went from Orlando to Philadelphia. They are also offering quadruple points for taking a trip on National Train Day which is May 9th.

For all of these promotions, you will need to register in advance online before booking or taking the trips to have them count. Here are the links to the double/triple miles promos:

American
Continental
Delta
Northwest
United
Amtrak

On the hotel front, there hasn’t been any deals like what the airlines are offering. But many properties are cutting prices to fill the rooms since bookings are down. Many individual hotels are offering deals though so it’s worth doing some research into the local offerings.

Personally, I haven’t taken advantage of any of the deals yet, but will almost certainly take an Amtrak trip or two when I am in Boston next month. I’m watching fares for a few different destinations though so hopefully something that fits with my schedule and budget will turn up soon.

Satine: Besides, I can’t fall in love with anyone
Christian: Can’t… fall… in love? But, a life without love, that’s… terrible…
Satine: No, being on the street, that’s terrible.
Christian: No! Love is like oxygen!
Satine: What?
Christian: Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!

Moulin Rouge

It seems at first glance that this goal would be a difficult goal to achieve. How, exactly, do you make yourself fall in love with someone? It’s not like human beings come with a love switch that can be flipped on like a light (if you do find such a switch, do let me know). What does it mean to “fall in love” anyway? I imagine that falling in love isn’t quite the same thing as falling out of a tree (which would be a very bad thing) or falling blissfully into bed after a long day (which is pretty nice). It’s one of those weird “you know it when you feel it” feelings.

I’m not married and I don’t have a boyfriend at the moment, but I’ve experienced that strange feeling at the tender age of 12 when I sat next to this cute boy named Eric in my 5th-grade elementary class. We spend a lot of time talking and hanging out on the playground. We even went on “dates” when we went on class field trips. Things didn’t work out and we went our separate ways after elementary school, but I remember him as the first guy that I fell in love with.

Looking back at it, it was more then just feelings that attracted me to Eric. We had a lot in common- we were in the same school and in the same class. We were sitting next to each other in class all year. We both shared a disability in that we were both hearing-impaired. Unfortunately, the hearing impairment caused many of our classmates at the time to scorn us and ignore us which only pushed us together more.

Later on in college and after graduation, I’ve found myself attracted to guys who also happen to be engineers- not a coincidence since my dad is an engineer and I respect him. It also makes it easier for me to relate to engineers after living with one for most of my life.

I’m also attracted to guys that have a lot of similar qualities to my dad- they possess a sense of humor and have an easy-going nature. This doesn’t surprise me- there are many studies out there that show that women are attracted to men that are like their father if they had a positive relationship to him. But I’m also looking for some qualities my dad doesn’t have- like a love for travel. Spirituality is also important to me and I would want a guy to have similar beliefs that I do. Having a good idea of the qualities that I’m looking for makes it easier to put myself in a situation where I’m more likely to fall in love.

So if you want to fall in love, think about the qualities that your ideal man/woman would have. Then think about where people with those kinds of qualities might be. For example, if you like women that really loves kids, then try to find ways to make connections to women who work in daycare centers or schools, since they probably picked those careers partly out of a love for kids. If you like guys with tattoos and can do a mean 360, then hanging out at the local skate park will increase your odds of finding that inked skateboarder of your dreams. Knowing what qualities you like also helps in finding a good match on dating websites.

But love is a two-way street. Developing qualities in yourself that would attract the kind of person you’re looking for will help tremendously in your search.

The one thing though that I don’t like about the phrase “falling in love” is that it implies that you have about as much control over love as you do over gravity. But in reality, you have a lot of control- not only in putting yourself in situations where you’re more likely to meet the person of your dreams, but also in not pursuing a relationship with a person that happens to stir up feelings of love in you but doesn’t possess the qualities you’re looking for.

The search for that special someone may take a while, but in the end it is worth it. As Christine from Moulin Rouge wrote “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

If you need a laugh, just click on over to the New York Times’ list of “20 Ridiculous Complaints Made by Holidaymakers“. It’s almost as funny as a complaint letter sent a few weeks ago to Virgin Atlantic complaining about the airline’s food.

The US Library of Congress has over 32 million books in its collections and it’s still growing. So it seems that there is plenty of room for more literature.

The first step in writing a book is to read. Read everything. From short stories to poetry to novels to blogs to newspaper articles- they all provide different perspectives and writing styles. As you’re reading, make notes about anything that catches your eye- is it because it was the way something was cleverly-worded? Is it because of a viewpoint you never considered before? Thinking about what makes good writing in the first place will help strengthen your writing skills.

The next step in writing a book is to write. Every day. It doesn’t have to be for the book you want to write. Whether it’s in a private diary that only you will see; in a blog that the whole world can read; or articles designed for a specific audience; writing on a regular basis is critical in developing your voice and style. If you can get your writing read by others, either by getting stories and articles published or in a blog; so much the better since that way you can get feedback and reactions from others about your writing and also start building an audience for your works.

After that, the next thing is to figure out what you want to book to be about. Do you want to write a graphic novel? A opus on your life? The exhaustive history of underwater basket-weaving? Whatever the subject, it should be something that you are passionate about since the process can be long and emotionally draining at times.

Of course, the next step is to write the book, or at least enough of it so that you can share it with publishers and give them a good idea of what the book is about. This is also the step where hunting down an agent to represent you may be helpful as well, although some agents won’t represent you until you have a contract offer on the table.

The next step is to get the book published. This can be the traditional way, with shopping the book around to publishers and hoping one will pick it up. Or you could try a more unconventional method, like publishing the book yourself or putting the book out online.

However, just getting the book published isn’t the last step. You have to promote that book, whether it’s through a book tour, media events, creating your own holiday, online promotions- whatever it takes to get your intended audience’s attention to buy the book.

After all that hard work, take a break and go check out your book from the local library- and then start working on ideas for the next great novel.

This is the third post of the Top Ten Life Goals series. Previous posts include the list of the top ten goalsGoal #1- Losing Weight and Goal #2- Stop Procrastinating.

This past week videos of a Southwest flight attendant rapping out the safety instructions for the flight has been making the rounds among various media outlets. Youtube has several different versions posted. The Wall Street Journal even ran an article about the rapper. After seeing some of the safety raps, I wanted to watch them again, which is something I thought I never say about those safety announcements.

That got me thinking- what are some of the other airlines doing to spice up those dry annoucements and have some fun with them?

Delta put out a new video last year and it features a flight attendant nicknamed “Deltalina”. Her “no-smoking” finger wag and pouty smile breathed new life into a tired video.

Virgin America took a different tack by creating a cartoon instead of using real people in their video. The visual humor is amusing, and their line about buckling seatbelts is a hoot. Virgin Australia also took the cartoon route.

Ryanair has created a parody of the seatback safety cards to promote a new contest where people can suggest what the the airline should charge next for.

Of course, there are plenty of parodies of the airline safety videos out there. Mad TV created its own version. Airline comedian Pam Ann created a version involving wacky diagrams and a disco ball.

So next time you’re on a flight, try to pay attention. You just might be surprised.

This past week videos of a Southwest flight attendant rapping out the safety instructions for the flight has been making the rounds among various media outlets. Youtube has several different versions posted. The Wall Street Journal even ran an article about the rapper. After seeing some of the safety raps, I wanted to watch them again, which is something I thought I never say about those safety announcements.

That got me thinking- what are some of the other airlines doing to spice up those dry annoucements and have some fun with them?

Delta put out a new video last year and it features a flight attendant nicknamed “Deltalina”. Her “no-smoking” finger wag and pouty smile breathed new life into a tired video.

Virgin America took a different tack by creating a cartoon instead of using real people in their video. The visual humor is amusing, and their line about buckling seatbelts is a hoot. Virgin Australia also took the cartoon route.

Ryanair has created a parody of the seatback safety cards to promote a new contest where people can suggest what the the airline should charge next for.

Of course, there are plenty of parodies of the airline safety videos out there. Mad TV created its own version. Airline comedian Pam Ann created a version involving wacky diagrams and a disco ball.

So next time you’re on a flight, try to pay attention. You just might be surprised.

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