Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ross's Traveling Pet Peeves

I am in San Francisco for the fourth time this year. After a nice amount of airplane travel to finish off the first half of 2010, I wanted to outline what are clearly big annoyances for me when it comes to flying. These have nothing to do with the airlines. They have to do with my fellow passengers.

1) A carry-on item should be small. I typically check my bag, and I walk onto the plane with my computer bag, which is big enough to carry toiletries, books and all my work materials. I slip the carry on under the seat in front of me. I take up zero overhead space. So it's pretty annoying to see people coming on board the plane with suitcases that are bigger than the one I checked. And to those people who have the large carry-ons, if you see people like me, who take up no overhead space, you should say "thank you."

2) You don't have to queue up to get on the plane as soon as boarding starts. Generally speaking, what happens is the gate agent announces that they are boarding zone one, and all passengers get up and line up next to the gate. While they are not boarding out of turn, they are blocking everyone else from getting to the gate to get on the plane, and it's impossible to know if the person standing next to the gate is trying to board or not. A simple suggestion: Don't even get up to get on the plane until your zone is called. Don't worry, the plane won't leave without you.

3) I share this one with my brother Brett: The fasten seatbelt sign means get your butt in the seat and fasten your seatbelt. It doesn't mean this is a great time for me to get up, stretch, chat with my co-worker, or leisurely make the walk back to the bathroom.

4) Don't recline your seat unless you absolutely have to. On my flight west last night, the gentleman in front of me decided he wanted to recline his seat, even though he spent the entire flight reading or watching the in-flight movie. Which meant I could barely look at my computer screen, given the angle his seat pushed back in front of my face. Remember, an airplane is shared space. (I, for one, never recline my seat.)

That's it for now. Enjoy your flight; make sure your tray table is up!

P.S. Very sad to hear that American Airlines is stopping direct service to San Francisco from Boston as of November of this year. A flight attendant told us that last night.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Quick Check on The Lowly Red Sox

As my plane from Chicago was set to take off for Boston this past Sunday, a fellow passenger two seats over from me quipped, "It's good the Celtics are winning, since the Red Sox are horrible this year."

It makes me laugh out loud. The Red Sox are the lowly Red Sox. So, I figured I would take a look at where the Red Sox stand.

As of today, the Boston Red Sox are 38-28, ten games above .500. They have the fifth best record in the Major Leagues (there are 30 teams, overall). They would lead three other Major League divisions if they were not in the American League East.

If that means the Red Sox are "horrible," then I think New England fans need to take a breath. Or at the very least they need to talk to fans of the 18-47 Baltimore Orioles.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Speical Event: A Celtics Championship?

Brookline Avenue, near Fenway
June 15, 2010

The Boston Police are getting ready in the event the Celtics pull it off, with "No Stopping" signs out on Brookline Avenue near Fenway. I guess they figure they don't want cars on the street so revelers won't be tempted to flip them over?

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Am The Reason The Celtics Will Win Or Lose

I have a confession to make. I think I am the reason the Bruins lost their playoff series against Philadelphia. During the pivotal Game 7, I was sitting at the Red Hat bar on Bowdoin Street. The Bruins scored to go up 3-0. I turned to my friend and said, "This is going to be a rout!" She said, "If we lose, now I know who to blame."

We all know what happened next. The Bruins gave up four goals to lose 4-3. My friend has never let me forget it.

Well, I don't want history to repeat itself, and somehow I feel tied to the Celtics fate. Here's why:

The Boston Celtics are 3-0 in The Finals when their games take place while I am in an airplane. That's right, each of the Celtics three victories in the current championship series has taken place while I have been either in the air, on the tarmac, or at the gate. The Celtics are 0-2 in games that I am able to watch, start to finish, from some permanent location.

I don't consider myself a superstitious person, but the facts are the facts. And given how the Bruins fared, I admit I am a bit concerned. I don't have any travel planned for this coming week. Game 6 is tomorrow night. If this series is forced to a Game 7, I might have to book a trip somewhere, anywhere, to be in a plane for Game 7. And I will be soliciting donations for the cause.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Observations From the Road

Colorado River from near the Hoover Dam
Arizona/Nevada Border
June 11, 2010

Those of you who have been following me on Twitter know that I have been on the road this week. I flew to New Orleans on Sunday for work to attend Microsoft TechEd, the annual conference for users and developers of Microsoft software. Thursday, I continued west to Las Vegas to meet up with my brother Brett and his wife Holly. We're celebrating the end of Holly's service time with the U.S. Navy.

In the past week, I have been to two conferences, of sorts. I mentioned TechEd, and last Saturday, I attended the Mass. State Democratic Convention in Worcester, Mass., where I spent time with other Democrats.

A few observations, as I sit this Saturday morning in my Vdara hotel room in Vegas:

First, I have decided that going to conferences is fun. Generally speaking, the people there are passionate about a specific topic, and they enjoy hanging out with other people who share their passion.

Second, the city of New Orleans can't catch a break. There was this weird stench in the air during this week's trip. I am not sure if it was because of the stagnant muggy air, or perhaps the oil in the water in the nearby, but it smelled kind of like B.O. everywhere.

I ran into a couple of people directly involved in the oil cleanup efforts while I was in the airport getting ready to leave. Two guys had left the boat drilling the second relief well that aims to ultimately pour cement into the current leaking well. They said things were going well and sounded confident. One other man had just quit his job cleaning up oil on the shoreline. He didn't sound as confident, noting he needed his lawyer to force his employer to let him leave.

Third, hotel room coffee (you know, the coffee they let you brew yourself in your room) isn't bad, but it's better if they give you real creamers and not the powdered kind. I drank a lot of hotel room coffee this week.

Finally, the Boston Celtics are now 0-2 in The Finals in games that I watch from start to finish. They are 2-0 in games that take place while I am in flight. The good news for Boston fans? I am in the air flying back home tomorrow night, when the Lakers and Celtics play game 5.

I will be watching the England/U.S. soccer match today from poolside at the hotel. Go USA!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Democratic State Convention Redux

With Josh Dawson, my district's teller, at the lead (third from right), the various whips and asst. tellers and delegates listen to the roll call.
June 5, 2010

Yesterday, I attended the Democratic State Convention in Worcester, and it was an honor to represent my fellow democrats living in Boston's 2nd Suffolk Senatorial District and Boston's Ward 5.

A few observations:

-- Governor Deval Patrick noted how he wants to "finish what we started." In general, I think the Governor needs to be careful about touting his accomplishments too much, given the high level of anxiety across the state about the current economy. The average voter could very easily say, "What does he have to gloat about; I am very worried about my job and my family." Which is why other themes within the speech resonated with me, including his discussion of ways he will continue to stimulate the economy, and the fact that he will "not rest" until every person who wants a job has one. I also liked his discussion of "generational responsibility," but that will be the topic of a separate post on this blog.

-- In my opinion, Mike Lake stole the show. The candidate for auditor had an impressive campaign organization on the floor, with whips for every voting location and numerous signs, t-shirts and even hats (Can I have one, please?). His speech was the best I have heard him give, and he was passionate. He also stressed his independence, which is key in this anti-incumbent year. Many no doubt came into the convention wondering if Mike would get the 15-percent needed to be on the primary ballot in September. He walked away with 24 or 25 percent---far more than what was needed---and impressed many delegates and potential donors in the process. (Admittedly, I am biased, as Mike is a friend, and I support him enthusiastically.)

-- Democracy in action is refreshing to see. So many people worked hard yesterday, on a hot Saturday in early June, to move democracy forward. There were the candidates, their campaigns and their volunteers. There were the staff members of the Democratic party and the party's volunteers. There were the representatives of the various causes that packed the expo hall adjacent to the DCU Center to give out literature and talk to delegates. There were the tellers, whips and many others supporting the individual delegations. It was truly organized chaos (emphasis on organized).

-- In the end, the voters get to decide. All the candidates who spoke yesterday made the primary ballot, which means all Democrats in Massachusetts will ultimately decide who will be the party's candidates in the November elections. I think this is great. The Democratic party has set a low threshold at the convention for candidates to make the ballot (15-percent of delegates' votes). As Boston City Councilor and State Treasurer candidate Steve Murphy put it yesterday, the party believes that all competent and worthy candidates should be considered for elections. The primary season has begun, and the three candidates for auditor and two for treasurer now face the full body of Democrats in the state, as it should be.

-- Finally, it was great to see Mac D'Alessandro, who's challenging Steven Lynch in the Democratic primary to be my congressman. As I have written here before, I am not very happy with Rep. Lynch; it's good he has strong competition.

Special thanks to Rep. Marty Walz for inviting me to the SEIU breakfast Saturday morning for the much needed coffee!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Endorsement: Steve Grossman for State Treasurer

As part of my day job, I represent several technology companies in Massachusetts. It's very fulfilling work, because I get to help very smart people who have come up with innovative ways to use technology to solve common problems facing businesses around the world.

Several weeks ago, I attended the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, a group that represents industries I care about deeply in New England. The group pledged at the meeting to help the industry come together and create thousands of jobs over the next several months by remaining committed to innovation. I thought it was a shame I didn't recognize any state officials at the meeting.

When I spoke to Steve Grossman just week or so ago, he told me he has plans to use the office he seeks-- the State Treasurer's office-- to affect the technology industry and to help it grow again. He wants to use the powers of the office to put in place positive changes across numerous areas of the economy. He even offered to meet with representatives from the industry groups that represent the tech industry.

That's the type of thinking that we need from our elected officials to help us fully recover from the economic malaise. And it's why I plan to cast my delegate vote at the Democratic State Convention this Saturday for Steve Grossman to be Massachusetts' next Treasurer.

I have already voted for Mr. Grossman once; he got my vote at the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee meeting in May, when he picked up the group's endorsement. His presentation to the group that night was impressive; there's little doubt to me that he has the passion, the energy, and the will to make tough choices for Massachusetts in the Treasurer's office.