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Everything posted by ssullivan

  1. I fly almost every week and never arrive at an airport hours early. At IAH I'd try to arrive about 45-60 minutes before departure, Hobby about the same. Here in Atlanta I try to get there about 60-80 minutes before the flight, just because the lines are a little more unpredictable, and it takes a little longer to get to the concourse I usually fly out of on the train. But at most airports in the US, arriving 60 minutes before departure, and being prepared (e.g., not showing up wearing tons of clunky metal jewelry and trying to walk through the metal detector with your shoes on and cell phone in your pocket), is plenty of time. There are exceptions, but in most cases the average wait at security is less than 30 minutes; and it's often less than 15.
  2. Ugh. It's even worse than I feared it would be. I may have to drive by the site later this week when I'm back in Houston for a few days. I still can't believe they're doing this.
  3. In some ways he's right. Houston's current park and ride bus service provides a lot of the same service that MARTA's rail line does, only with buses instead of heavy rail. Houston's moving forward with light rail to get people around the city center; MARTA is stalled on several proposals, including the light rail "belt line" system, which would loop around the city's central neighborhoods, connecting points where a lot of people live, work, shop, and go for entertainment, that are currently woefully under served by MARTA. It's essentially a Houston-esque light rail system to link up the places the current MARTA rail lines don't go. It makes sense, and would run on a combination of dedicated right of way in old rail beds, and streets. Houston's also starting new express cross-town bus service (the new Signature Express lines), but Atlanta's not doing anything similar to upgrade its bus service. MARTA basically has no concrete plans that they are really pushing for funding on at the moment; there are a lot of ideas that have been tossed around for years, but no real action. And, with only a fraction of the Atlanta metro area participating in MARTA, the transit agency can't branch out into a lot of the faster growing suburbs. MARTA does some things quite well. It's a very good system if your destination is downtown, midtown, the airport, office/shopping areas up north in Buckhead and along the Perimeter, or downtown Decatur, and your origin is a neighborhood with convenient access to MARTA. It's not convenient to use for trips to a lot of areas of the city though; most of the universities aren't on a rail line, and neither are the heart of the city's close-in residential neighborhoods that lie east of downtown. What MARTA needs is more support from the entire Atlanta metro area, and a clear plan of how to proceed with projects like the beltline light rail, better bus service, and further expansion of the existing heavy rail line.
  4. I knew this collection existed nearly 20 years ago when it was mentioned one time when we were at his house visiting. Too bad I never got to see it, but I'm thrilled it's made it into the hands of someone who will put it to good use.
  5. Bank of America does offer a US Airways mileage earning debit card.
  6. And in 10-15 years (if not sooner) they'll be kicking themselves, wishing they hadn't protested the rail line in their neighborhood. They're Houston's version of DC's Georgetown.
  7. That's assuming that US Airways is still a member of Star Alliance (and still in business for that matter) when Continental fully completes the transition to Star, which is still over a year away. A lot could change between now and then. And, you won't be able to take a few miles from US Airways and combine them with a few Continental miles for an award. Award tickets in all of these alliances almost always have to be issued out of a single frequent flier account. So, you'd have to have all of the miles needed for the award desired in a single account. 8,000- 10,000 miles won't really get anything other than an upgrade or two to domestic first class on a full-fare unrestricted (what the industry calls "full Y") domestic economy class ticket. But theoretically you could add to that balance between now and then by crediting any flights flown on US Airways, United, or any other Star Alliance airlines to that account until you get enough miles for the award you'd like to redeem. Also, signing up for a credit card that earns US Airways miles is a pretty easy way to earn a lot of miles quickly, as most of the mileage-earning credit cards run specials for new customers that award anywhere from 10,000-25,000 miles after the first purchase.
  8. From today's Chronicle comes this article about a large collection of documents and photos related to the early years of public transportation in Houston. The collection recently turned up in an estate sale in Missouri City, and has made its way into the hands of the author of the book about Houston's streetcars that was published about 10 years ago, and the city's Preservation Officer. I find this of personal interest, as the estate sale was that of one of my relatives. Chronicle article: A ride through our transportation past
  9. Try close to $100,000 for the wedding we attended last weekend. It's not really any different from the thousands of Texans married by the JP. Not that I'd want to do it that way, but if all you really care about is the civil side of the marriage (all the legal stuff) and really aren't religious, why not just get it all done in one stop down at the courthouse? You'd have to go there to get a marriage license before your big church wedding anyway.
  10. Today I paid my last electric bill from Houston
  11. Haven't heard a thing about its performance yet, but they still have quite a few billboards up here in Atlanta promoting "Change Is: Going into Africa," with a subtitle about the Lagos service.
  12. US Airways has been running some very low fares to cities in the Carolinas with connections via the CLT hub for about a year now. I was traveling to RDU some at the end of 2007 and very early part of this year and had to do some creative booking on our corporate travel agent's website to avoid having to fly with US, since they were often the cheapest by far. I managed to get on Northwest for one trip by waiting until the last minute to buy it, Delta the next by forcing the booking system to only look at departures from Hobby (which US Airways doesn't serve), and United the next by plugging in exact flights I wanted as a multi-stop itinerary. Of course, if you're paying out of pocket, price is a much bigger factor, than if you're charging it work, and the non-US Airways flights are only $75-100 more.
  13. That has to rank right up there with Crappito's for one of the worst restaurant names ever.
  14. I worked in retail for years growing up, thanks to my family's hardware store. Similar to tanith27's comments about the mark up on soft drinks, the mark up on certain items we sold was incredible. We would purchase huge quantities of certain items commonly used to repair toilets and minor plumbing leaks at super low wholesale prices several times a year at markets, and then sell them at our normal retail price, which of course increased our profits. Batteries and light bulbs were the same deal. The interesting thing was our prices were still often a lot lower than those at competitors, including so-called discount places like Wal-Mart, and big box home stores like Lowe's and Home Depot. They were typically buying these same items at an even larger wholesale discount than we were, and selling them for 10-20% more at retail than us. So we could do something like run Duracell batteries at 40% off, and still make a decent profit on each item. There were also a number of closeout specials we'd take advantage of several times a year. I remember we once got a killer deal on bulk 25 ft. tape measures for something like 75
  15. Dunno. Ctrl + C works just fine for me, but I'm using Windows, not a Mac. I did discover one cool thing this morning, while running two instances of Firefox on the same computer but displaying on different monitors. I tried dragging a tab for a web page from one Firefox window to the other and it let me do it. That feature might have been there all along and I've just never tried it, since I just got a second monitor in my home office.
  16. Yeah US Airways is worse than crap. I think a lot of the industry's woes would be solved if they'd just hurry up and close down. Until last year they were my employer's "preferred" airline, but I've managed to not have to fly them. They now no longer have that status with us, which is a good thing, since our travel agent doesn't pressure us to fly them whenever possible.
  17. Just because a county clerk in Texas can only issue a marriage license doesn't mean that they don't have authority to do more in California. These things vary greatly by state. You can't make assumptions about their authority in California based on the authority Texas grants a similar county official.
  18. I'm quite excited by this announcement, and think it's a much better choice than an alliance with American and joining OneWorld. It's going to take 12-18 months for the transition to happen, if not longer, but in the end, I think it's a much better alliance for Continental.
  19. I downloaded it the other day and so far am liking some of the new features. The integrated spell checking that checks as you type is a nice touch. And I've done some side-by-side comparisons to IE 7 and Firefox 3 is much faster at loading web pages for many of the sites I frequent. I am surprised at how much it looks like IE 7. I expected the look and feel of the browser to be a little more exciting.
  20. DFW's Terminal D isn't that much nicer than Terminal E at IAH, where most of Continental's mainline international flights operate. And overall, IAH's terminals, with the exception of B, are better laid out and nicer than most of DFW's terminals. And when you get to comparing the secondary airports in both cities, HOU is MUCH nicer than DAL.
  21. Atlanta may be lower than Houston on the list, but driving around here sure does make me wish for Houston's streets at times. Houston's freeways may be congested, sometimes severely so, but I find the street congestion far worse in Atlanta.
  22. While I love flying Continental, and do so several times almost every week of the year, I always find it amazing how some of the different airline quality surveys rank the same airlines so differently. A few months ago there was one that put AirTran on top; this has them near the bottom of the discount/low-cost carriers. That same one had Continental in the middle of the full service/legacy carriers. While I agree with this survey's ranking of Continental, and am thrilled for them, I think airline quality surveys are, in general, pretty subjective.
  23. There's a lot of things I liked about Invision over vBulletin. For one, every online community I've been a part of that uses vBulletin seems to require a lot more bandwidth. It's not an issue on good, fast Internet connections. But get on a wi-fi connection that has 50 people on it, and it's connected to the Internet by a mediocre DSL line, and vBulletin seems to take forever to load anything. Yet HAIF and other Invision sites speed right along like nothing's wrong. I also hate the fact that vBulletin seems to mark everything as "read" when you visit a forum and then leave it. I appreciate on HAIF that it only marks a topic as read if I've actually looked at it. vBulletin seems to only mark topics as "unread" if it's had a post since my last visit, regardless of whether I've ever looked at the thread or not.
  24. I think the iPhone is a great entertainment phone, but it sorely lacks for corporate use. Exchange support is a good step in that direction, but it still doesn't support the security profiles that a lot of companies are mandating for their employees to have access to corporate e-mail and files via a smart phone. I'm also not a fan of the iPhone keyboard for anything more than short messages. I've tried to learn to like it, but just can't get there. My "real" keyboard on my BlackBerry is much faster, and I can type much more accurately on it without looking where I'm typing. Where iPhone really excels is web browsing, streaming media, and stuff like that, which is great. But it's still not a heavy duty business appliance, and I'm not sure the latest upgrade will get it there. My company uses Exchange, but our IT won't allow anything but BlackBerry Enterprise Server to connect to our Exchange Server when it comes to smart phones. The reason? Because RIM gives them tools to enforce a certain level of security on my smart phone, so that if I lose it or it gets stolen, it's a lot harder for someone to hack into my account and get to my data. iPhone has secure connections to Exchange, but corporate IT has no way of setting policies and enforcing them. So while they could say "You have to password protect your iPhone," they can't force me to do it. Hence, no iPhone support for us. However, Apple has pushed RIM, and other competitors, to drive up the sexiness of BlackBerries and other business smart phones, as well as add fun features like multi-media support, better graphics, and better web browsing. I saw a preview very recently of the new BlackBerry that's launching this summer, and was impressed. I'll hold out for that, because my phone is very much a part of my job. If it wasn't, I'd probably jump on the iPhone bandwagon. But when it comes to typing 300 word e-mails while I'm sitting on a plane waiting for it to push back from the gate, I'll take my BlackBerry over iPhone 2.0. At the end of the day, iPhone doesn't do nearly as much to help me with my job, especially when I'm traveling.
  25. I have one. I'll try and get it to you this weekend after I'm back in Atlanta. With the move last week, and work travel, life has been crazier than usual. But I do have one of the singing fish car performing at the Art Car Festival in Discovery Green after the event was over. You can see it in my SmugMug gallery here: http://stevensullivan.smugmug.com/gallery/...296961997_tJ947 In fact, you can probably save it from the gallery if you want. Hover your mouse over the video (it's the first in the gallery) and on the pop-up menu on the right side of it you should see a link to save the movie.
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