Worst work travel day EVER!

I’ve been doing this consulting thing for quite a while and yesterday was hands down the worst travel day. I currently go to Michigan for work. That alone is a pain in the ass but the way home is worse.

My travel home is supposed to be:

  • Drive 2 hours from client site to airport
  • Take flight from Detroit to Charlotte
  • Wait in Charlotte for an hour to catch connecting flight
  • Drive 30 minutes home

This week was a little different:

  • Drove 2 hours from client site to airport
  • Flight delayed 30 minutes, ate dinner at airport (a personal travel sin, I try not to eat before I fly)
  • Get upgrade on flight to Charlotte (it’s a CRJ 900 so the plane is tiny)
  • Start flying to Charlotte as usual, but on approach to land we encountered a rain storm
  • Plane has wheels down and is on final approach (I swear we are under 500 feet), suddenly plane starts to ascend again and head north (wtf moment)
  • Captain says there is a ground stop in Charlotte and we need to pick up fuel in Wilmington DE (shit that sucks)
  • Refuel twice because the tower tells the captain we have to approach Charlotte from the west which delays us about an hour
  • Check the connecting flight and it’s delayed half an hour but will leave without me
  • Call American and ask for rebooking but I’m told I have to do it at the airport (another wtf moment)
  • Finally make it to Charlotte but my Miami flight is gone, rebooked myself on a Fort Lauderdale flight (I didn’t want to fly home at 2PM)
  • Call some hotels but everything is booked so for the first time in my life I’m sleeping in an airport terminal (I didn’t really sleep, more like cat naps over a 5 hour period)
  • Fly to FLL (2 hours) and Uber it to my appointment that I couldn’t miss (30 minutes)
  • Take a second Uber all the way to Miami to get my car (30 minutes)
  • Drive all the way home while listening to a conference call (30 minutes)

And that’s how my Thursday and Friday has gone so far. I’m kind of a zombie but I can function to a certain degree. I’ll definitely go to bed early to catch up. I’ll be trying the Chicago route next week, let’s see if that’s better than flying to Charlotte. What I really need is for them to bring back the direct flight on Thursday evenings. I refuse to stay an extra night and fly home Friday morning.

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Where are all the baseball fans?

I recently had the opportunity to attend 2 baseball games, one in Miami and another in Dallas.  Both games were pretty good and both were blow outs (although the Rangers didn’t win theirs whereas Miami did).  What was readily apparent was the lack of fans in the stands.  There were huge swaths of the upper deck empty and if you crammed all the box seat people together you might be able to fill up maybe 3/4 of the lower deck.  Thats a ton of money being lost and I attribute it to a few things but the biggest one is cost.

The baseball tickets that I got were relatively cheap at $25 but for a family of 4 thats already $100.  Next expense would be food.  I don’t drink beer or anything like that but I did eat regular food and that stuff is more expensive than eating at an airport so add another $50-$100.  There’s also parking that will run you another $10 and then the kids will want a hat or something so add $25 per child.  You’re over $300 and thats just for a single game.  While that sounds great and all the average person can’t bring their family to cheer on their home team due to the large expense.

One of the largest areas that is lacking is PARKING!  OMG there was no place to park really at either location.  There are 3rd party lots around the ball parks but the management should analyze how much money they could make by creating massive parking garages to house the cars of their fans!  They could be creative and have the garages away from the ball park and give them to take buses or a street car to the game.  That would increase the fan experience right there.  The Marlins were one of the dumbest teams in existence by building a huge stadium in the middle of a residential area so they had no room to put parking.  As I was exiting the game, I noticed that most of the workers are taking up the garage spaces that should be for fans.  If your fans can’t get to the stadium due to distance of parking, you need to re-evaluate your plans.  Something similar is happening now with soccer in Miami.  They thankfully axed the Overtown idea and they will create the new stadium closer to the airport so there is sufficient parking for a mixed use area that includes shopping and offices so it can be used 365 a year for not just soccer but also corporate events too.  Now thats smarter planning.  I’ve found that if you’ve planned for a certain number of parking spaces, you should at least double the number to make sure there is enough parking not only for fans but for the people that work at the stadium which is often missed.  (My new office for work is a prime example, not enough parking spaces for tenants so we’ll have to find our own options to park just to go to the office).

I get it, running a baseball team is expensive but if your team sucks and you’re not putting butts in seats, start lowering prices so people can come to the game.  Stop paying for top players because the sports talking heads say you need it, the farm teams are supposed to feed the majors and having a good farm system to give you future awesome players should be a priority (NY Yankees??).   Baseball salaries are probably one of the biggest drivers of moving ticket prices north, thats probably why seeing minor league teams is more fun.  The cost is low, you can bring the entire family for a reasonable price, and the seats aren’t so far away that you can see your favorite player most of the time.

Now I remember why I don’t work in Miami

   
 

Today I had to go to the office for the first time since it moved to the Wells Fargo center in downtown Miami.  I only needed to go in to pick up some stuff and I decided to go what I thought was after rush hour to get it.  I left at around 9AM and when I hit the highway I immediately hit rush hour traffic… WTF???  Shouldn’t these people already be at the office or something?  What should be a 30 minute ride to the office took around an hour and fifteen minutes instead.  I used Google Maps to find the best way to downtown and ended up going down the mean streets of North Miami where I saw a ton of graffiti on different buildings and concrete fences.  I’ll admit that the graffiti was very well done and was a nice change from looking at tail lights on I-95.

Downtown Miami was a crazy mess of cars.  It’s a lot busier than I remember and that last mile took entirely too long.  I was glad to get to the garage but hated that they charged by the half hour (yet another WTF moment).  I stayed maybe an hour to pick up what I needed and then tried to go home (again not during rush hour) and I ran into bumper to bumper traffic for most of the way home. Granted it was because of a nasty 4 car accident but still being in traffic for almost 3 hours outside of rush hour is just crazy.  This just continues to remind me why I don’t have local clients.  Every once in a while I get the urge to be local but it’s days like today that remind me that’s just crazy talk unless I can work from home.  The productivity lost to traffic is immense, white collar work doesn’t need offices anymore, it’s time to go virtual and stopping the madness that is the daily work commute!

On the plus side I did see some fabulous street art that I would have never seen if I had not gone to the office today.

Miami Exotic Racing is AWESOME

This past Sunday I was able to go all the way up to the Palm Beach International Raceway to cash in my 10th anniversary gift that my wife got me.  My wife decided to get me an exotic auto race experience that let me take out 4 different cars for 3 laps.  In addition to getting me the 4 cars for 3 laps, I was able to do a hot lap (basically an instructor whips me around the track in a Ford Mustang GT).

I was able to drive a Lamborghini, Audi R8, Ferrari F430, and a Ferrari GT.  If I was going to pick a favorite it would have to be the Ferrari F430.  The car was really smooth and fast compared to the other cars I was allowed to drive.  The others were kind of jerky and they were even automatics.  All of them had a crazy amount of power and one of the best parts was that they video taped me driving the car and had some stats on how fast I was going.  The one video I wanted was unfortunately corrupted so I wasn’t able to see that video.  It was of the Ferrari GT too and I’m pretty sure I got the car over 155MPH going down the straight away to the pit stop.

The hot lap was pretty awesome because the instructor that was driving basically took a brand new Mustang GT fast back and whipped it around the track.  He even added a little flair by drifting it around one of the corners and skidding to a stop at the end.  The most impressive part was that he was able to pass someone driving the Audi R8 in the Mustang without breaking a sweat.  This is defnitely something I would recommend at least once in your life.  Where else can you drive $1M worth of automobile around a track and not have to worry about killing the engine or worrying about wearing out the gear box.  All in all a totally awesome experience.

   
     

Miami has a Design Distrct?

I’ve been living in South Florida for almost 10 years now and last weekend was the first time that I’ve ever been to the Miami Design District.  The reason for me to go was not to go shopping but for eating (thats the main reason me and the family go somewhere for the most part).  It’s in a part of Miami that I’ve never been to thats near I-195 and I have to say that I was expeting it to be bigger and maybe a little fancier.  There are so many high end shops where I could blow a years worth of income on a single item it was kind of crazy.  (Places like Tiffany, Bvulgari, Cartier, and TAG are considered the “cheap” brands).

We were there to meet my daughters godmother since she had come to town with her husband for a work trip and my wife found a nice brunch spot in the Design District.  I was a bad Asian and only too one picutre of the food we ate instead of each individual dish.  After brunch we had some time before we had to go to the airport to drop off our friends so we took a stroll around the Design District.  Being a Sunday it wasn’t heavily populated and a lot of the places looked empty and closed.  That was a little decieving since the shops were open but the windows tinted so it was difficult to see inside.  The stores were all places I’ve heard of in NY before that I knew would kill a paycheck in the blink of an eye.  What surprised me was that all the doors were manned by security guards to prevent theft.  A lot of the area looked to be under construction too and there was a new area we strolled off to that has some huge sculptures.

I would say that it was nice just to see the Design District but without a real purpose of spending money there, I probably wouldn’t go back.  The prices for things there are just too intimidating and who would wear half that stuff in public anyway?  I’d be scared to wear a $20K piece of fabric or jewelry outside of the four walls of my home let alone walk the streets of South Florida with it on.  At least I can take it off the list of places to see in South Florida.

   
 I decided to post the one food item from Michaels Food and Drink that I took.  This is Duck Hash, simiar to Conred Beef Hash but made with duck.  I’d totaly recommend going to Michael’s Food and Drink  for brunch.  Reservations can be made on OpenTable but you don’t get points for it.

Florida is awesome in winter!

I have to say that this particular winter has been brutal. I’ve been traveling to Illinois for over a year and this has to be the coldest winter I have experienced since working in Minneapolis. Not to mention last week I was just in CT and it was colder there which is pretty amazing. I’ve never ever been so cold when I was home and thats really saying something.

I guess after 10 years in Florida its finally rubbed off on me that I like staying in warm weather and ay dreams I used to have of moving back to CT are long gone. I also realized that it takes forever to get anywhere in CT lately. I used to love the winding roads (still do actually) but I’m used to driving a bit faster these days since all the roads are straight and the posted speed limit is 70 on the highway. I spent a lot of time in my car just trying to get to a place that was only 10 miles away.

CT is also starting to look a little old and run down here and there. It sort of lost its luster since I’ve been away but the highlight has always been the food, I’ll always go there and make sure that I can get myself some Garden Catering (or Chicken Joe’s) while up that way and my ham and cheese croissants from Stew Leonards.

As a contrast, here are two pictures that I took this morning from my plane. The first picture is Chicago and the second one is Miami. Where do you think I would like to live?

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Miami-Dade Roads are AWEFUL!

This past weekend I had a rare treat in that I was able to spend almost an entire day on my motorcycle. All in all, I rode for 100 miles give or take on Sunday going through Broward and Miami-Dade counties in South Florida. One of the things that I’ve never done before is ride my motorcycle to Miami Beach. I’ve gotten really close before but the thing that prevented me was going down I-95 which is a death trap for motorcyclists because of the insane drivers and the traffic congestion. Being Sunday I decided to give a go since most people either sleep in or are at Church on Sunday mornings.

Going through Broward was just fine all the way until I hit I-95 in the Miami
Lakes area. As soon as I started down 95 it felt like I was riding a jackhammer instead of a motorcycle. There was all these patches done to the highway and it made the surface really uneven and I was literally bouncing in my seat and hanging on with a death grip on my handle bars for fear I might hit a really big bump in the road. It didn’t help that I was tail gated all the way to 395 but since my bike has better acceleration than your average car, getting some distance between me and the car behind me wasn’t a problem once all the idiots were out of my way.

395 and the roads on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach were fine but there was a decent amount of traffic but the traffic made me slow down and appreciate the lovely view heading into Miami Beach. I saw Star Island and the cruise ship terminal with all the cruise ships docked and waiting fore-supply and passengers. It was times like that that I wish I had a Go Pro or something to capture it. One minor complaint about Miami Beach though, all the motorcycle parking spots require coins while the cars can use credit card. That part really stinks since I wanted to stay and relax a bit since it was so far but since I don’t carry change while riding I just had to turn around and go home. I decided to take a different route home and went by US 836 which passes the Miami Airport. On 836 I almost witnessed an accident up close and personal when someone in the lane to the right of me tried to swerve and miss an iguana that was in the road. The person swerving almost made the car behind them slam into them and the iguana was definitely dead since I saw it flying through the air in front of me and I just missed hitting it with my bike.

After running up 836 towards 75 I started to appreciate how awesome it is to live in Broward. The roads are definitely better than Dade. Most likely that is my first and last trip to Miami Beach on my motorcycle. While going to the beach on my bike has some appeal, it’s not worth hurting my ass to get there. As proof, here is a pic of my bike parked on Ocean Drive.

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