Dilemma, sorta…

Every time I process a [rewards-earning] credit card for a customer, I’m conflicted:

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  • On one hand, I as a merchant know that even though charged transactions bring in a good amount of volume, a bunch of other [unknown] parties are getting a piece of the transaction [due to interchange fees for one] and subsequently “screwing” me over, more so if the customer uses an American Express, World [Elite] MasterCard, and/or a Visa Signature.

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  • On the other hand, I as a consumer do the same thing on a regular basis, even if it starts to make me feel more and more uncomfortable every time I do so.
    • On a similar note, esp. for the rewards-earning cards, do I REALLY want to screw someone over from earning cash back, obtaining a few nights at a five-star resort property, and/or flying first class on a top tier airline? Who in their right mind would not want that after working their asses off non-stop?

You can imagine, then, the mixed reaction whenever I see certain metal charge/credit cards:

AMEX-centurion-black-card

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  • Ahh s***, fees galore…
  • Ooo la la…
  • Make that time off worth it!
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Yale University Day Trip

This past weekend, one of my boys and I took a ride to Yale University to listen to one of our friend’s graduation recital from the School of Music; in short, it was quite well done.  Some of the pieces she, a cellist, played included:

  • Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 73 and Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70.  While I am not a fan of his works, I have to admit that these pieces had a seamless flow to it, much like his better-known piano pieces.
  • Claude Debussy’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in d, aka Impressionist music at its most “experimental” and fun.
  • David Popper’s Wie einst in schöner’n tagen, Op. 64 and Nocturne No. 4, Op.47. And I thought this dude was only the Hanon of cello music (see http://www.amazon.com/Hanon-Exercises-Acquirement-Independence-Schirmers/dp/0793525446).
  • Ludwig van Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A, Op. 69, a piece that I remember slaughtering back in ninth grade because it was too difficult for me to play at the time.

Also of note:

  • Being back on a college campus felt rather surreal for me, especially considering this is one of the top universities in the United States.   It felt like everyone around me was infinitely smarter simply because they attend Yale.
  • In many ways, New Haven is a microcosm of how economically stratified society has become today.  Within a span of less than one mile, you can find a bustling, affluent college town and a deteriorating inner city.
  • Having all-you-can-eat sushi is asking for a death wish.
  • Lastly, and because my boy and I did pass through Stamford CT, wanna raise some hell :-P?

WWE Headquarters in Stamford, CT

For all you iPad users out there…

http://www.macrumors.com/2012/03/19/faa-taking-a-fresh-look-at-digital-device-use-during-takeoff-and-landing/

However, “there are some peculiar quirks to the FAA’s bureaucratic approval process. Under current guidelines, individual tablet models will need to be tested separately — on each different aircraft model. The iPad, iPad 2 and iPad 3 will be individually tested, each on a separate flight, on an empty plane, for the Boeing 737, 747, 757, etc. Smartphones are not being considered for approval, which will be good news for those hoping to keep the skies a relatively quiet place…We are a long ways off from seeing iPads in use during takeoff and landing, but the fact that the FAA is willing to consider changing the regulations is very promising.”

So the next time you are waiting on the tarmac and have the itch to play something like:

You just might be able to.

C’mon Trump…

While I was landing at LGA last week, I noticed Donald Trump’s plane was parked not too far away from the landing runway.  I have to admit though, I was disappointed Mr. Trump was only rockin’ a Boeing 757.

Donald Trump's Personal Boeing 757

Seriously, as much as he hates President Obama, cannot he at least get a better plane than Air Force One to show that he is at least trying to one up the White House?  And I am pretty sure Mr. Trump can front the ~$200 million dollars needed to upgrade to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner…

Now I have to wonder: is Donald Trump just toying with America? If so, he is doing a good job.

Why the Boeing 767 Rocks

To my the best of my knowledge, I have flown in the following aircraft:

  • Airbus A319
  • Airbus A320
  • Boeing 737
  • Boeing 747
  • Boeing 757
  • Embraer E-190
  • Embraer ERJ-135/140/145
  • McDonnell Douglas MD-80

But by far, my favorite plane to fly in is the Boeing 767.

Whereas the smaller planes I listed can feel cramped, and the B747 cold and sparse, the B767, at least to me, strikes the right balance between comfortable familiarity and spacious roominess.  As an example, I have never been a fan of planes with more than three seats per row, especially towards the ends of the fuselage when trying to go to the bathroom from a window seat can be a complete pain in the butt.  While the majority of the planes I listed fail in this instance [as they usually come in a 3-3 or 3-4-3 configuration], the B767 usually comes in a 2-3-2 configuration, something that makes me feel like less of a jerk whenever I need to relieve myself.

It certainly helps that the times I flew in a B767 were the result of a memorable trip:

  • Iberia: Going on an orchestra tour of the Mediterranean regions of Europe and Africa back in the summer of 2001.
  • American: Visiting my older brother on two occasions when he lived in San Jose, CA back in 2003.
  • Delta: Going on a brief study abroad stint to Firenze back in 2004 when I was enrolled in college.
  • Asiana: Travelling to Central Asia back in the summer of 2004.

It would be nice to eventually fly aboard one or more of the following planes:

  • Airbus A330
  • Airbus A340
  • Boeing 747-8
  • Boeing 777
  • Boeing 787

Until then, the Boeing 767 holds the crown in my book.

Some Lessons from Myrtle Beach

  1. Golf is not an easy sport: it requires A LOT of patience to fully understand the basic fundamentals.
  2. A trip to the South requires an obligatory visit to one of the following: Chick Fil’A and/or Waffle House.
  3. Raccoon squirrels are deadly: not only do they like to eat food scraps, but they also enjoy chewing up Longchamp bags.  Ask my Mom…
  4. The TSA agents [and airport personnel for that matter] at Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) were some of the friendliest I have ever encountered, something that corroborates my experience with TSA agents and airport staff at Raleigh-Durham (RDU) in North Carolina.  I suppose it partially has to do with the Southern Hospitality [and not being in a New York City area airport too].
  5. While the experience did not totally stink, Spirit Airlines still leaves a lot to be desired [like no complementary snacks and beverages].  Oh, and all those fees…
    1. As my Dad pointed out, it would have been a better idea to fly out from Islip-MacArthur to Charleston via Southwest.
  6. As much as I hate LaGuardia Airport (LGA), this trip reminded me how the views of New York City proper you can get leaving and/or approaching the airport are untouchable.
  7. I need to take more pictures…