25 hours, 2 stops, and two 5 hour layovers in between. That pretty much encapsulates my Labor Day.
Actually, as of right now, I’m actually writing this from CDG (Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris). The flight to Atlanta departs in about 3 hours, so I got nothing but time to kill. I’ve been to this airport a few times…and…the Airport Nazi is impressed. At least as far as the terminal that I’m in (2E). Not too shabby…not too shabby at all.
More airports need to offer free Wi-Fi. Seriously. I understand the business of making money…but…honestly, it’d be a great business move. If I was in charge of networking at an airport, I’d provide Wi-Fi internet free to any and everyone in the airport. In order to make it profitable, I’d just make it ad-supported. Give people free access and promote shops and businesses in your own airport. As a user, would you really care if every now and then you get a reminder that you need a penis enlargement or that “You’ve Won! Click here!” so long as you get free internet? Umm, the answer should be a resounding no. It don’t make me but a hill of beans. Over the past few years, I’ve been in and out of quite a few airports and the only ones that I can recall that offered free Wi-Fi were Portland and Dubai. I’m sure many others do as well, it’s just the ones that I have been to haven’t. Normally, when in the States, it’s not much of an issue because I’ll just tether the iPhone’s data connection and use that (hit or miss in terms of speed). However, obviously, all folks ain’t got that same cellular luxury.
Ok…so…here’s my latest and greatest beef. Anyone who is selfish and ignorant enough to perpetually lean their airplane seat back in complete disregard for the person sitting behind them should be stoned to death. Honestly. Shank them all. Yes, Mr. Inconsiderate Passenger, that opposition you feel against the back of your seat is my knees. Clearly, that should be indicator enough that the aforementioned seat should no longer be further reclined. Yet, folks press on…in search of the perfect angle at which they can achieve airplane nirvana (a legitimate nap). They will recline their seat to a maximum, without even so much as asking permission nor having the decency to even acknowledge the passenger behind. Have some dignity, folks. One day, some inconsiderate cat will get sucker punched for this…and it’ll be well deserved. This may seem insignificant to some of you, but anyone that’s traveled frequently enough knows what I am talking about. Again…let me reiterate…stone ’em. Stone ’em all.
How long will I be back in The A this time, I wonder. An indeterminate timetable is probably the best way to describe my current travel schedule. Even I don’t know when and where I’m going next. Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know what you’re thinking, “Man oh man, that sounds exciting!” Is that a “NOT” joke? Believe you me, traveling for work isn’t the organic, vegeterian-fed hen egg that it’s cracked up to be. One of the downsides of international travel that I’m dealing with as we speak is the getting-to-and-from problem. For example, here I am waiting at CDG in Paris for my flight back to The A. From the moment I left my hotel yesterday morning to the moment I’ll reach home later today, I will have traveled a total of 28 hours with 2 stops and two 5 hour layovers. Going there isn’t so bad I suppose; it’s the coming home that feels like an inconvenient eternity. Obama, you need to skim back on national defense and get to work on making teleportation a reality. My 2012 election vote may hinge on that. Just saying…
The NFL is tantalizingly close to the opening kickoff of its regular season. Since I’ve been abroad for much of the past 2 months, I haven’t really gotten too amped up about the start of the season. I mean…it’s kind of hard to without Sirius NFL Radio, the NFL Network, and most importantly…without ESPN. Being abroad really makes you realize how massive a marketing machine ESPN is. I mean, when you’re in the States and watching ESPN on a daily basis, you can’t help but get excited about any and every upcoming sporting event. Golf? Hell yeah! Bowling? Bring it on! Nascar? Why not? Shit, they’ve even made poker into a legitimate cable viewing experience. Anyways, I just had my Fantasy Football draft the other day and I think that went a long way in reinvigorating my football interest. I’m starting to get my mind right for the season. Vikes-Saints on Thursday. Should be a great game. I wonder what Old Man Favre has left in his tank…especially with his best WR out for 6 weeks (Sidney Rice) and Percy Harvin (arguably the team’s most explosive threat) suffering through migraines. Hopefully…he has enough left to post up some good numbers…because…he’s my starting QB for the 2010 Fantasy Football season. You knew damn well I had an alterior motive.
You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to doing nothing but sitting on the couch for 10+ hours on NFL Sundays. That’s THE glamor life. Don’t let nobody tell you otherwise. I wonder how the Falcons’ season will play out this year. They have a tough schedule. I’m really interested in seeing how Matt Ryan has developed. He took a half-step back last year after such an unexpectedly promising rookie season. The 3rd year is normally when the great quarterbacks put it all together…so…we’ll see. I’m not completely sold yet on Matt Ryan being the savior who can propel the Falcons back to the Super Bowl. This is his year to prove it to me that he has what it takes to lead this team for the next 10+ years.
So, for those that haven’t heard, Google is now offering free voice calls TO anywhere in the US and Canada from anywhere in the world. They’ve developed a simple plugin for Gmail that allows you to make voice calls from Gmail. It’s…pretty brilliant. This has been a Godsend for me considering that I’ve been out in the Middle East for the past 3 weeks. Although, Google hasn’t rolled this out to every country. I didn’t have the “Call Phone” option that appears on the left sidebar in the Middle East. I had to bootleg it to get it to work (using a free VPN client like Witopia). If you are in a part of the globe where you can’t access this feature, look into installing some free VPN software like I did. I initially downloaded Hotspot Shield…but…there was way too many advertisements that were associated with it. I ended up Googling around for 15 minutes or so and found someone who recommended a Chinese version of Witopia. I know…I know…sounds bootleg…right? Well…it’s not. The application only has 2 buttons (one’s a green checkmark, the other’s a red X). You won’t be able to decipher the Chinese, but all you have to do is click on the checkmark to activate it or the X to disable it. Simple enough, right? You can download it from here. After downloading, just run the executable every time you want the VPN to run. That’s all. After you have that connected, just log back into Gmail or simply refresh your Gmail and you’ll see the “Call Phone” icon on the left sidebar. Works smoother than peanut butter. I’ve used it numerous times to call in on conference calls, to bake my cake, and to call customer support. Moreover, it’s free to any phone in the US – mobile or landline. There are whispers on the street that Google may only offer the free calls for a limited time (and start charging Skype-like prices thereafter). That may be true…but, if I’m not mistaken, Google has at least promised free calls until the end of the calendar year…so…take advantage of it while you can. I’m going to use this all the time now. Anytime I’m at home and need to speak to AT&T, Comcast, Delta, or whomever, I’m going to dial out using Google Voice. The call quality is solid as well – honestly…no different than Skype (which pretty much set the standard for VoIP). Skype needs to be worried. If Google can somehow manage to continue offering this feature for free, Skype will take a major hit. International calls on Google Voice aren’t free, but have cheap rates that are comparable to Skype. Google is the one company that I’d actually consider allowing to monopolize. I mean…normally, I’m completely against any monopoly of any kind…but if I had to choose, I’d vote for Google. Although, who knows what they’d do with all that power and lack of competition…they could change their M.O. and completely disregard consumers’ interest. Anyways, Google Voice is absolutely brilliant. Over the years, I’ve become a Gmail man-whore, so I pretty much facilitate all communication through Gmail. Obviously, having the ability to chat, video chat, email, view and edit Google documents, and now make phone calls all from the Gmail client is huge for me. I could see someone using Gmail as their exclusive communication client (especially if you work from home). If you ain’t on that Gmail train yet…you best giddy up.