March 15th, 2012

long beard

3. To San Diego

We’re now en route to San Diego. It is kind of lamesauce. It’s this fancy Boeing 737-800 but this configuration has no entertainment system at all. Fortunately, it does have power outlets, and if you are persistent and daring with your fingers, you will eventually find them. So at least I have my netbook for the whole trip.

Really, I don’t know why anyone would fly this airline. Why did I? Good question. I bit on the price. Next time I want to go to the US, I’ll try US Airways, though I have no reason to believe they’re any better. As for United, there’s no reason to fly it instead of a low cost carrier. Take WestJet. You have checked bags and seatback video all there for you. Yeah, the seatback video is just free TV, but here United proposes to charge for something similar. But they don’t even have the units installed on this aircraft, even though my flight itinerary said this aircraft would have it. There isn’t even radio. Lamesauce, lamesauce. And did I mention the on-time performance of this airline is abysmal?

United has lots of bright stars on their team, but I feel like they, as an institution, hold their Average Joe customers in contempt. Every goddamn thing is an upsell. Every employee robotically recites their upsell scripts. It’s idiotic. After this trip is over I’m going to go out of my way to avoid this airline.

Okay, that’s enough. I’ve been using United as a whipping post for three days now.

I was talking to a woman at the departure gate about various San Diego things and I brought up the subject of the Chargers. She mentioned that the owners aren’t happy with their stadium, but the fans still turn out for the games. What is it with stadiums and arenas – they cost so much to build, yet depreciate so quickly. Multipurpose stadiums were an unfortunate experiment that we’ve gotten away from. The NHL underwent a spate of stadium renewal not so long ago and they missed an opportunity to introduce a larger ice surface. I’m not really forming a coherent argument here. All I’ll say is that I think pro sports is an expensive toy, and there shouldn’t be public subsidies near it.

I’m looking forward to getting out of the air travel system. The whole thing has a certain unreality to it that kind of bugs me. But sometimes I wish I were wealthy enough to purchase a business-class round-the-world ticket and just fly to random places one after the other.

A fellow beside me on the plane said, “From Halifax, you’re really close to London. You could get there in 5 hours.” True. I’ve never thought much about going there because I don’t know anybody. It would be a big money pit. But it would probably be a lot of fun.

Where else? I’d definitely like to go back to Japan again. I still have to finish the Shikoku Pilgrimage! I think I would like to complete a formal Japanese language course or two first, though.

More than almost anything else, though, I wish my hands didn’t hurt typing this!

Man, this has been a long, tiring trip. We’re really squeezed for space on this 737-800. The aisle is really, really narrow, and it makes going back and forth to the lavatories troublesome. Multi-aisle wide-body airliners can be much more comfortable. I liked in Japan how they’d fly special short-range 747s on domestic routes, since they had the passengers to warrant it.

4. Morning in San Diego

Free internet in the room*! So now I’ve wasted about two and a half hours of my first morning in San Diego! :-) Most of the time I’m just playing Whack-A-Mole with notifications, though I am writing a fair number of new messages.

I don’t have an ocean view from my hotel room, but the condo where my cousin (Art) and his soon-to-be wife (Monique) are staying for a few days sure does – holy crap! Panoramic windows, waves crashing on the rocks below, a lovely night, lights along the coast, the limitless expanse of the dark Pacific – wow! I’d forgotten that I’d ever seen the Pacific before. I have – just from the other side. :-)

Art and Monique treated me to my first In-N-Out last night. I had a Double-Double. The burger is distinctive and worth being crowed about. The fries are distinctive too, but for my tastes they are a little too intense. I had a strawberry milkshake too, and that was pretty good. If I went again I’d just get the burger and a shake, though I’m intrigued about the “animal fries” on the secret menu. Speaking of the menu, that’s what I was struck by most – it was so small! But it’s sufficient and efficent. Good kind of small.

Jim and Derek (Art’s brother and Jim’s husband respectively) plan to be by around noon and we’ll go hang out for a bit. The rehearsal dinner will be tonight.

While we were at the condo, Art gave me some ideas for a story that I’ll see if I can put together soon. It’s delightful to talk with him because he can think of things that are completely off-the-wall absurd but yet somehow internally consistent and very funny.

Now I’ll have a shower and then I’ll go out in search of toothpaste. Hopefully in a 100mL (shoot, how many ounces is that? - OK, TSA says 3 ounces, but they consider the international standard “100mL” to be 3 even though it’s more like 3.38) container or smaller, so I can take it home with me. :-p

* - To "celebrate" wi-fi installation. :-) This is just for the month of March. Lucky me, though.