Friday, March 30, 2012

Don't quote me

"Don't quote me." -- Mark Twain (not)

Someone mentioned the other day that they had listened to a program on NPR about all of the quotes attributed to Mark Twain that he never really said. I was disappointed a bit that Twain never said, "“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” but I wasn't surprised. As a Journalism major, I learned very quickly that very few people speak eloquently enough to actually get a coherent quote for them. Thus you paraphrase.

As a PR writer I also learned that the best quotes for your press releases were the ones you wrote yourself and got your CEO to approve. The same goes for speeches. We all know (or should know) that President's of the United States don't write their own speeches. That is why they sound so articulate (George W. Bush being the exception...you have to be able to read in order to deliver a good speech).

I imagine most quotable quotes are probably contrived in one way or another. Let's face it, unless you are making a canned presentation, very few people spout original prose worth remembering. Case in point is a conversation I heard at the train station this morning:

Station agent (to female customer): "Morning, how are you?"

Female customer: "Oh, it's Friday..." Hilarious laughter.

End of conversation.

Even if you do spout something worth quoting, chances are you stole it from someone else.

You can quote me on that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Out of the wild JetBlue, yonder

I have never flown on JetBlue Airlines. And after reading all of the news about a JetBlue pilot being locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot because of "erratic behavior," and then being subdued by passengers and hauled off the plane tied to a stretcher, I'm not sure I ever will fly JetBlue. There's just something about "erratic behavior" and "pilot" that tweaks an uneasy feeling in me.

It's not that I'm afraid of flying. I'm more afraid of crashing. I particularly don't like landings where you bounce and slide a bit before stopping.

But I digress.

In the JetBlue incident the pilot apparently came out of the cockpit and walked to the back of the plane muttering about "them bringing us down" and bombs. If I had been a passenger on board that airplane, I would have considered that a red flag. I would have also considered having the co-pilot (the person who usually gets on the speaker and tells you what altitude you are flying at and what side of the plane to look out to see the Grand Canyon) locking the belligerent Captain out of the place where he is supposed to be flying the plane another major red flag.

I wonder if it occurred to any of the passengers who rushed the Captain and wrestled him to the ground that maybe he might have been acting belligerent because the co-pilot was hijacking the plane. Fortunately for everyone on board, that wasn't the case. The plane, destined for Las Vegas, ended up in Texas. So it was a tragic journey all around.

There seem to be a rash of airline personnel having "episodes" on board airplanes of late. I seem to recall a flight attendant getting on the PA system on board plane a couple of months ago and ranting about the plane crashing. Now granted, this would be a bit more entertaining than them droning on about how to use a seat belt and where to find the list of premium beverages in the in flight magazine that are available for purchase (with a  debit card because they no longer accept cash...presumably because the flight attendants pocketed much of it). But I prefer that my flight crew having undergone some psychological screening before putting them in charge of several tons of airplane that could easily fall from the sky like a brick if their cheese randomly slides off the cracker (if you catch my drift).

Not that I don't understand why someone who flies two or three flights a day with a plane load of people who don't seem to comprehend the concept of fastening a seat belt or staying in their seat when the Captain (belligerent or not) has turned on the "fasten your seat belt" sign, would go postal. I start feeling like Jack Nicholson in the Shining just riding as a passenger on a plane after sitting next to someone who needs to use the restroom six times in a two-hour flight. I'm sure if I were a flight attendant in coach, I would seriously consider opening the cabin door at 50,000 feet every time I passed it.

That being said, I still am going to think twice before booking JetBlue and I'm going to look pretty hard into the cockpit while I'm getting on any plane to look for any signs that all of the Captain's dogs aren't barking at the same cat.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I don't moon over Miami

I just got back from a business trip to Miami. First, I want to be very clear that, although it is warm and has palm trees and an ocean view, I have never been overly fond of Miami. So it really was a business trip and not a pleasure trip.

A flight from Seattle to the East Coast is always a daunting proposition. I tried to ease the pain a bit by using some miles to upgrade to First Class on the flight to Miami (via Houston). It helped, though it didn't totally make up for having to catch a 4 a.m. shuttle to the airport. And although First Class is a thousand times better than coach, it isn't what it used to be. The service is basically what you used to get in coach before the airlines stopped serving food. The only think that is reminiscent of the First Class of bygone years is that they give you a hot towel before they give you food. And the food comes on actual plates.

One of the challenges of flying to the East Coast is that you lose three hours. But you still arrive exhausted even though you have simply been sitting on your behind for seven hours watching DirectTV. I caught a taxi to my hotel, checked in and ordered overpriced room service. When I finally fell asleep, I woke at 3 a.m. to the sound of a party going on in the apartment/condo building across from my 19th floor room. Lots of loud music, screaming and people dancing on the balcony.

I put a pillow over my head to shut out the noise. Then the PA system in the hotel began blaring "You may now return to your rooms. The fire alarm was false." WTF?

This set the tone for most of the trip. Each afternoon when I returned to my room after a conference session I heard someone down the hall from my room practicing the trombone. Who practices trombone in a hotel?

So I was relieved when the conference was over and I could head home. My last memory of Miami was dealing with the surly ticket counter people at United.

My coach flight home was long and uncomfortable. The DirectTV unit in my seat would only let me hear the music track and none of the dialogue. I discovered this after paying for it.

I almost kissed the floor when I got to Sea-Tac Airport.

Prologue: When I checked my credit card bill from the hotel in Miami, they had charged me for my room and for a complete stranger's room (another $900 in charges). The accounting person at the hotel corrected it but seemed put out about the whole thing,

Is it little wonder Dexter and the National Inquirer are based in Miami?