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    Entries in travel (17)


    Notes from the road #19 - Red eye diaries edition

    Submitted, or at least started to try and submit, from the new and improved Delta Sky Club in SFO while awaiting a redeye flight from SFO - JFK.  

    Here are, for your consideration, a series of slightly disjointed and possible incoherent observations of the red eye flight and the kinds of travelers that find themselves on an 11:45PM - 6:32 AM trip across this great land.

    1. Taking a red eye flight is 100% a terrible, horrible, no good, stupid idea. Whatever rationalizations you have worked through that led you to this grim place will all prove to be entirely empty. You will not 'get a lot done the next day' because you will be too tired. You will not score any points with the people back at the office, because they don't give a hoot about you. And you will only tick off your family that you were rushing home to see due to the fact that by about 7:15PM the next night you will be asleep in your Barcalounger.  The red eye flight is an abomination. And yes I am about to board one within the hour.

    2. No one, I mean no one on the red eye wants to be there, including the pilots and crew. It is the air travel equivalent of a visit to the DMV at 12:15PM on a Monday. Everyone is angry, tired, hates everyone else for the same reasons they hate themselves for choosing the red eye, and will kill you dead if you so much as make eye contact. It is air travel, which is usually pretty horrific, at its absolute bottom. Thank my lucky stars at least I am in the nice Delta Sky Club and not out in the terminal right about now.

    3. You are not going to sleep on the red eye, drop that fantasy right now. It is too crowded, hot, noisy, and altogether unpleasant for most people to get more than 39 minutes of decent sleep on a six hour flight. The one exception? The guy who drops like a rock in the aisle seat of your row, so out of it (and possibly snoring), that you can't get past him to get up and stretch your legs or get to the restroom. I guess you will have to hold it until New York. Awesome.

    4. The guy right next to you, inexplicably, will still be working at 11:30PM PT. He will be on the phone as you board. He will not stop texting even after 17 requests to turn off mobile devices. And the second the little chime goes off that indicates you have crossed 10,000 feet he will fire up that ThinkPad and get back online. And he will complain to high heaven if the in-flight Wifi gets a little wonky. He will order black coffee at 2AM. This person is a terrible person. I hope this person is not you.

    5. When you finally arrive the next morning you will make a solemn, sober, and serious vow: You will NEVER take another red eye flight again. But of course you know, deep down, that is an empty, empty threat. After a few weeks or months pass by you will be beguiled by the notion of getting home at 9AM instead of 'wasting' an entire day traveling and you will, on your own accord, book another red eye flight sometime soon. You know how I know this is true? I am on another red eye flight next week. We are all silly, silly, stupid people.

    Safe travels to anyone out there reading this in an airport, or worse yet, on a plane at 2AM.


    Notes from the Road #18 - Semi-coherent thoughts edition

    Writing this as I work my way back from China and Hong Kong, (and I promise this will be the last blog post about this trip, it has just dominated the last two weeks such that I pretty much have nothing else to write about). I am about 20 hours in to the trip back home, and in what is certainly not the most awesome news of the day, the last leg of the journey is looking to be about 3 hours late, which puts me home at something like 2 in the morning. That is if I even get home, these kinds of late night delays have a funny way of becoming cancellations. So I am pretty much punchy at this point, not completely sure of basic things like, 'Is it day or night?' and 'Where did I pack my souvenir Chairman Mao statue?'

    The trip was a really great experience though, despite the hassles of travel and the distances involved - there is something kind of cool and exhilarating (and sometimes a little dicey), when you are forced out of the comforts and familiarity of home or of the other places you have already seen a few dozen times. I love going to Las Vegas, but it is not exactly a mentally challenging trip if you get my meaning. Navigating Beijing traffic, even from the back seat of a cab, proved to be an exercise that demanded careful planning and attention. And a little bit of luck as well. The most common response from a Beijing cab driver when presented with a request to take us someplace was 'I don't know where that is', followed closely by 'No.' But with the help of the incredibly attentive staffs at a couple of Marriott hotels we were using for the trip, we managed to get everywhere we needed to - eventually.

    But overall, it was a fantastic learning experience, and one that I would recommend anyone should attempt at least once. Walking along (and up) the Great Wall of China was something I am sure I will never forget, and something I probably never thought I would ever do.

    Some other random updates as I am really fading in and out of coherent thought at the moment - I am still behind catching up on messages and emails from the trip. Having most of my productivity type apps unavailable in mainland China was kind of a drag. So if you are waiting to hear back from me on something, I should be caught up by Friday or so. That is assuming I can figure out what day that is.

    Also, really bummed that due to various travel obligations that this year The 8 Man Rotation crew were not able to attend the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. We have, have, have to make sure we get back there in 2016.

    And last, look for some new HR Happy Hour Shows very soon, both Trish McFarlane and I have been on the road so much lately, but we plan on getting back in the podcast groove soon.

    Ok, that is it, I am out. (Hopefully getting out of Minneapolis soon).


    No access

    I am in Beijing, China for the next few days and as is my tendency to be mostly unprepared as to the details of the places to which I travel, I was surprised to learn upon arriving that access to many of the apps and services I have come to rely upon, (Gmail, Google Drive, Hangouts, Twitter, Hootsuite, Instagram, and a few others), are essentially blocked here.

    So if you are trying to get a hold of me by any of the above means, well, I pretty much won't be reachable until Tuesday or Wednesday.

    If you really, really, need to reach me for some reason you can try to email at steveboese at hotmail, that service for whatever reason is accessible here.

    This is a really interesting place, and I kind of like the fact that I have been able to enjoy it a little more closely and attentively, not being constantly distracted by emails, tweets and the like.

    Have a great weekend!


    Notes from the Road #17 - You should pay more attention edition

    Quick dispatch from Day 4 (or maybe 5) of my trip over to Hong Kong and China to take some meetings and do some on the ground prep work for next April's inaugural HR Technology China Conference. Here are my top 5 thoughts and observations coming from someone who prior to this trip, had never come over to China before:

    1. I travel a lot, but the one thing even for me is that I bet 95% of the trips I take are to somewhere I have been to before. Even savvy travelers forget what it is to actually be someplace brand new, and factor in that new place pretty much totally different than anywhere else you have been before, and that is a recipe for trouble. I go to Vegas so much I don't usually know which hotel I am staying in until I get in the cab at McCarran. That kind of 'Oh, I will just figure it out when I get there' is not a great strategy over here.

    2. American pop culture is everywhere. We had a long meeting here yesterday in the hotel with some of our local partners and contacts, and every so often when the conversation paused I could here the music that was being piped in to the room. I think I heard 'Hotel California' about 8 times during the meeting. Do the Eagles resonate with the average local? I wonder.

    3. Business cards are still a pretty big deal over here. When you come out next April, make sure you have a stack. I am not kidding, this is a much bigger deal than you think.

    4. No matter how many or what variety of electonic charging device converter you bring, it will somehow be the wrong one. This is uncanny. I took along two different charging adapters and for reasons I can't fathom, they do not work. Luckily the hotels I have been in so far have converters in the rooms that work just fine. I just have to ration the power back and forth between my phone and PC all night. 

    5. Expedia customer service will keep you on hold so long you will eventually break down and hang up.

    6. Hand towels folded up in the shape of an elephant is a nice touch.

    7. You sometimes find unusual things in the hotel closet (see pic at right).

    All kidding aside, this has been a really fun and interesting trip so far. You should definitely come some time.


    The Invisible City

    Business travel is (mostly) terrible because we spend comparatively more time per trip dealing with the worst aspects of the process of traveling, (airports, delays, long cab rides, crowds...), and less time actually doing the fun parts of traveling, (sightseeing, trying some local restaurants and shops, meeting new people, catching a ball game). No, most business travel is actually two stressful, periods of 'travel', interrupted briefly by a little 'business' in the middle. And if you are a frequent business traveler you sometimes are faced with pressure from home (partners, spouses, kids, the dog), to minimize all non-essential elements of these business trips so you can get your butt back on the plane and come home. Which might make for some peace on the home front, but does nothing but increase the traveler's angst and to some extent guilt. After all, jetting to San Diego for a meeting or a conference in February sounds a hell of a lot more fun than dealing with the 27th Winter storm of the season back home. Just let's not talk about spending 9 hours at O'Hare after you missed your connection and nothing is going out due to the snow storm.The Invisible City, Chermayeff & Geismar Associates

    But you usually (and usually rightfully) give in to the demands of home and family and work, and minimize the time you spend away. You will willingly take Monday at 5:45AM flights on the way out and red eye flights back home so you are not giving too much of the appearance that you actually might, you know, want to take a little time to have a tiny bit of fun on one of these trips. And you do that so often, in so many places, that after a while everyplace starts to seem kind of the same. Starbucks in every city tastes the same. So does Chipotle. Sure, it would be better to try something unique and local, but the Starbucks is in the hotel lobby and the Chipotle is right next to the rental car drop off. And you need to get home, so if you grab something fast you might be able to stand by on an earlier flight.

    And that is probably the worst part of business travel, especially for folks that travel frequently. That we allow it to become routine and ordinary and mind-crushingly the same no matter the destination. Lao Tzu is said to have said that 'A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving'. Which is the opposite of what we make business travel. We always have plans, we are obsessed with getting in and out as quickly as possible, and eventually we turn these experiences into the mundane, and not the remarkable opportunities they should be.

    And I don't mean just the opportunity to see another conference room or a hotel ballroom or the Starbucks in the lobby.