Monday, November 27, 2006

giving away united premiere status

Thanks to my having flown over 40k miles on United this year, I've been given the privilege of bestowing United Premiere Associate status on someone.

Here's what being a Premiere Associate will get you:
  • Access to United Economy Plus - Stretch out with up to five extra inches of legroom in the special seating section in the front of economy. Available on a first-come-first-serve basis at the time of booking
  • Dedicated call center lines - Provides single-source convenience and enhanced customer support
  • Premium check-in - Access to airport Premier check-in lines
  • Priority waitlist - Higher priority than general members for waitlist clearance (e.g. upgrades, access to Mileage Plus membership benefits)
  • Priority security - Ensures speed and convenience by providing access to elite-level security lines (where available and permitted by local airport authorities)
  • Priority standby - Gives priority above general members for same-day standby travel
  • Priority boarding - Permits boarding in Seating Area 1, allowing you to board earlier and have access to overhead bin space and extra time to settle in pre-departure to relax
  • Alliance Silver - Allows access to priority waitlist and priority standby benefits across the Star Alliance network
  • Upgrades at Elite Level Pricing - purchase upgrades at a discount elite price
  • Earn more miles with the Mileage Plus Visa - Premier Associate members have no limit to the miles they can earn with the Mileage Plus Visa
  • Preferred upgrade clearance on 500 Mile Upgrades - Upgrades are confirmed 36 hours before departure, based on availability
  • Non air awards - Redeem miles for car rentals and hotel stays. For more information visit and
  • Unlimited Confirmed Y/B Upgrades* - With the purchase of a full-fare Economy-class ticket (on select Y/B fares*), elite members, plus one companion traveling on the same reservation, can upgrade one class of service for travel within United States, Canada, Hawaii, Caribbean, Mexico and Central America free of charge, using no miles. Subject to availability and specific fare codes. Not valid on Government fares.

If you, or someone you know, would like this perk, just drop me a line at

First come, first served.

:UPDATE: and the offer has been taken. Thanks for all who pinged me. Will let you know if the opportunity arises again.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

travel humor most needed

Given the amount of time I've spent on planes recently (Premier Executive, here I come), I'm hugely appreciative of the humor invoked in creating the SkyMaul catalog.

I wish I weren't so familiar with the pages of the real SkyMall, but when my MacBook Pro battery dies, the Hemispheres magazine in the seat back is too quick a read (and someone has undoubtedly messed up the crossword AND the sodukus beyond repair), so I'm forced to flip through pages and pages of crap-I-don't-need, but are a free AirPhone call away.

Enjoy the preview pages of SkyMaul online, and buy it today.

Friday, November 17, 2006

my milky way writes back

Well, what do you know.... even though I've fully digested my Milky Way bar, star of a previous post, I got an email response to my query today. In all, I'm rather impressed with the tenor of the response (tho note the lack of mention of Snickers):
In response to your email regarding MILKY WAY BAR.

Thank you for your email.

Although peanuts are not part of the recipe for MILKY WAY BAR, we have added the statement "May Contain Peanuts" to our packages. Consumers who are highly allergic are accustomed to reading the ingredient declarations of products to look for the allergens to which they are sensitive. We feel it is important to provide these consumers with all related allergy information.

Masterfoods USA provides products that consumers who are allergic to nuts can safely enjoy. They are SKITTLES BRAND Candies and STARBURST BRAND Candies.


Consumer Care
Masterfoods USA
A Division of Mars, Incorporated


While I'm not entirely sure what the string of letters and numbers at the end of the message means, it may just be the poor milky way bar banging its head against the keyboard for having to recommend another Masterfoods USA competitor in case I'm one of those allergic-to-nut jobs. ;-)

And here I thought my Milky Way had a name like "Mike" or "Michelle" instead of the corporate-esqu "Consumer Care."

Maybe my Milky Way needs its own blog?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

emailing the milky way folks

So much to do tonight, I just couldn't help the procrastination kicking in...

Craving something sweet, I stuck my hand in one of our big bags o' leftover Halloween candy and came up with a fun size Milky Way bar. Not my first choice, but a satisfactory candy-roulette result so I flipped it over in my paw to begin to tear open the wrapper when an email address caught my eye.

Specifically, the exhortation:
Questions or Comments? call 1-800-551-9985 or email us at

My candy now has an email address? What would a candy bar say if it could talk? What would a candy bar write if it could email? What the hell would I ask my candy bar?

Inspiration greeted me on the other side of the wrapper:
So I responded to my muse and sent the following off as my introductory email to my (now fully digested) Milky Way:


Love your Milky Way candy bars. I was looking at the wrapper of a fun-size bar I got for Halloween and noticed it says "MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS"

Who decides whether a Milky Way bar will contain peanuts or not? Wouldn't including peanuts make it a Snickers?

Your fan,

Will let you know what comes back my way. It's already been to long for the old auto-reply trick, but I think the email/call centers in Bangladesh are running at full steam at this hour.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

clouds at sunset off waikiki

clouds at sunset off waikiki
Originally uploaded by thomas pix.
Made it out of today's meeting in time to dash upstairs and grab my camera to rush out and take pictures as the sun set.

Our meetings have been really productive, but at the cost of not being able to enjoy the sun and sand here in Hawaii.

I'll get some time Saturday to go out and about, but the enjoyment will be a little hollow since I won't have the family with me. Traveling solo is fine and all, but I'd much rather share the experience with Melanie and the girls than take it in on my own.


Monday, November 06, 2006

treo 650 sync to meetingmaker universal - success!

Last spring, I volunteered to be the MacBook Pro guinea pig at our office: the first one to move to the new Intel chip and all the delightful challenges the new chip presented. You see, my 12" PowerBook was in the midst of its death throes, and I just couldn't take losing days of data (in between backups) anymore. Much as I loved the take-it-anywhere size of the 12" PB, the overheating and constant crashing and general surliness of a machine that's lived beyond its time got to me. I was at the top of the list to get a shiny new MBP the day they were shipped.

The biggest hurdle at the time (the day the MBPs were delivered to the public) was that we at the office run MeetingMaker as our group calendar, and the Universal version of MeetingMaker wasn't released when the MBP was shipped. To satisfy my role in guinea pig-dom, I had to run two different calendar apps:
  1. MeetingMaker - to participate in the group calendaring exercise at work
  2. Palm Desktop Calendar - to have a portable version of my calendar on my Treo for those times (read: most of my life) when I wasn't carrying around my MBP
Quite a pain-in-the-ass setup, really, but after years of having my calendar at my fingertips, it was the only way I could respond properly to someone when they asked what I was doing Saturday next other than to shrug my shoulders and say "I don't have my calendar with me."

I got in the habit of reserving 15 minutes at the end of each day to pull up MeetingMaker and Palm side-by-side on my desktop and making sure they mirrored each other before synchronizing the Palm version to my Treo 650. Not a bad deal when the changes to my schedule were confined to just the upcoming week, but as we started scheduling more and more things weeks and months out, it was a pain to try to remember how many invitations I'd received in a given day and therefore needed to mirror in both apps before going home each night.

About 3 months into this setup, our IT guy announced the MeetingMaker Universal client had been released and I could go back to one calendar. I resisted taking him up on the offer because I didn't want to sit through hours of downtime because so many times before it'd been an ugly mess when trying to sync one calendar program to another.

Now, it's five months later, and I've just installed the Universal client. And I've just sync'd my Treo directly to MeetingMaker with great success (it only took me 15 minutes to clean up all the dups).

I'm giddy knowing I've just reclaimed over an hour of productivity each week now that I no longer have to mirror two calendars.

Now, if I could just figure out those damn S01, S02, S03 files... I have it on reliable source they're generated by SnapperMail, though. Maybe I'll spend my bonus hour poking around the site for info.

in praise of opposable thumbs

Those who've spent any time in the same physical space as me have noticed I have a thumb thing... actually, it's a complete lack of respect for my own thumbs.

Or, what's left of them. I've joined an elite group of folks who can count to ten by half-digit increments. Actually, that's not true. I can only make it to 9.5, thanks to a rather unfortunate (read: dumb) run-in with a fast-spinning motorcycle chain when I was 20.

So, my left thumb ends in a nice smooth curve at the end of the first phalanx (at the knuckle), thanks to the skillful surgical handiwork for Dr John D Smoot, the plastic surgeon on call that day at Scripps Medical Center. The second phalanx (thumb bone) and its tell-tale thumb nail are lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry... (Clementine)

For the longest time, I went through life half a thumb down and thought that was the worst it could get. Then, on a crisp August morning in 2001, I was a little overzealous trying to pull a flag during flag football practice and managed to tear in two the ulnar colateral ligament (UCL) in my right thumb... what had, until that point, been my "good" thumb. I now have a two inch scar at the V between thumb and forefinger indicating where they drilled a hole through my first phalanx to reattach the UCL. It's been over five years now, but I still don't have my full grasping power on my right hand (or my left, for that matter).

All this is back story for why I'm writing about thumbs today. I spent all day yesterday building a retaining wall to keep the dirt under our concrete patio from washing away in the winter rains. As part of building the wall, I used a post-hole digger to dig eleven post holes into the clay and rock below our patio.

I was prepared for sore muscles after this effort, I just had no idea how much my forearms would hurt from post-holing. Specifically, the muscles that flex when you grasp a handle: the abductor pollicis longus and extensors pollicis longus. These are the two muscles that traverse from the back to the front of your fore-arm just above your watch band. I never realized just how much I use them until I strained them post-holing yesterday. Even this morning, my left pollicis longus (longi? longa?) are swollen and fiery.

Just another reminder at how useful it is to have opposable thumbs (what's left of them)... and a sharp reminder I need to respect them a bit more if I plan to keep them working as best they can until I take my last breath.

A blurb from Massage Today caught my eye while self-diagnosing this morning via Google (can we call is google-nosing?).
We have two sesamoid bones associated with our first metacarpophalangeal joint. These bones serve as attachments of thenar muscles. The abductor pollicis brevis and flexor pollicis brevis attach to the lateral sesamoid and the proximal phalanx, while the two heads of the adductor pollicis attach to the medial sesamoid and the proximal phalanx. Both of these attachments continue on to the extensor hood, as well. It seems that over evolutionary time, some carnivore taxa had a more developed lateral sesamoid bone. This developed into a large sesamoid bone, as seen today in the Giant Pandas. Other mammals, like the raccoon, have sophisticated grasping function, but not nearly as sophisticated as ours.
Perhaps those not as intimately familiar with degraded thumb power aren't as enthralled with the anatomical bits as I am... but trust me when I say the folks at Massage Today couldn't have picked a better closer than this:
Take good care of your thumbs. They serve you well.