September 21, 2005

Daddy, I Love Really Biking With You

We’ve been back for about two months now, and far from settling down, the number of things on my todo list seems to not only be increasing, but also accelerating. New job. Old job. New friends. Old friends. Rachel. The boys.

I’ve found it particularly hard to get much exercise lately. I know I should be getting up at 6am and running or biking, but I’ve never been much of a morning person. And with the 2 hour round-trip commute to San Mateo, I’m finding it hard to get any exercise at the back end of the day either. Of course having the boys yell “Daddy, Daddy, you’re home!” doesn’t make it any easier to turn right around and say “bye, see you in half an hour” right after I’ve walked through the door. So I’ve been looking for a way to kill two birds with one stone…get some exercise, and hang out with the kids at the same time.

I’ve recently hit on two different ways to do it, both of which involve Nathaniel and a bicycle. (Unfortunately Sebastian is a little young to do either of these, though he is absolutely sure that I am wrong, letting me know at the top of his lungs!)

The first involves a “trail-a-bike” that I got from Frank Flynn, a co-worker from Wired, who coincidentally is at the same startup I’ve recently joined. It’s a third wheel that hangs off the seat post, letting Nathaniel pedal behind me. He loves it, both because he feels like he’s helping, and because he can keep up with me (joined at the seat as we are). It takes a bit of getting used, what with the extra weight and the side-to-side motion hanging out there behind me. And while it isn’t really much of a workout for me, it’s fun having him behind me, pumping his little legs to make us go faster.

The second involves me running, and Nathaniel riding his Spiderman bicycle next to me on the bike path that runs between our house and the dog park in Mill Valley. We’ve done this three times now, and each time he gets a little faster and a little less wiggly-all-over-the-road. So much so that I’m a little worried that it won’t be long before I’m unable to keep up with him. We had a great time chatting away last time…ok, he was doing most of the chatting away and I was doing a lot of grunting in reply. But we stopped at the dog park to have a rest. And then we played on a slide on the way home. We even stopped by the bay to look at the sandbar (more a mudbar really), that we have to watch out for when we take out the Whaler or the Laser.

But what made it all worthwhile, all the lack of exercise, all the frustration of getting him to stay up with me, was when we got back. He looked up at me, helmet slightly askew, and said “Daddy, I really love biking with you.”

Thanks Nathaniel…I really love biking with you too.

Posted by: Frank @ 7:39 am — Filed under: Comments (0)

September 8, 2005

Things I Like About England - I

The press.

I love the newspapers and TV news in England.

There’s a paper for every viewpoint. From the Guardian and Independent on the left, to the Times in the middle, and the Daily Mail on the right,

There’s also real reporting in England. Reporters ask hard questions. They don’t wait for 10 Downing Street announcements before reporting on an issue. And if a politician doesn’t answer a question they ask it again. And again. And again. Imagine that happening in the US.

One day in particular stands out for me. It was the day after the Hutton report had come out (the Hutton inquiry, for those of you who don’t know, looked into the circumstances regarding weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly’s death, and whether the BBC’s claim that the weapons of mass destruction dossier put out by 10 Downing Street had been “sexed up” had been a factor in his death).

And so it was that on the day after the inquiry, January 29, 2004, I went to purchase a paper at our local newstand. What greeted me was the Independent with a blank front page, and the single word “Whitewash?” in the center of the paper.

Imagine the New York Times becoming so indignant about the New Orleans tragedy that it printed a paper with a blank front page with just the word “Resign.” on it.

Imagine.

Posted by: Frank @ 6:28 am — Filed under: Comments (2)

On Missing England

A friend of ours from Cornwall, Jo Riley, emailed Rachel this morning, saying that their boys, Alex and Simon, as well as everyone else in Year 2 at St. Minver School, very much missed seeing Nathaniel on this the first day of school.

I’ve been thinking a lot about England lately, comparing it to the US in general, and Sausalito in particular. Most of it is a result of missing the simpler life we had in Cornwall. But lately it’s also been the result of reading the sometimes horrifying reports of what’s been happening in New Orleans, and wondering whether we wouldn’t rather be bringing up the boys some place a little more civilized.

And so I’ve decided to write a seriers of articles entitled “Things I Like About…". These will be little vignettes of our lives in Cornwall and Sausalito, stories to help me remember why we’re here, and why we were there.

Posted by: Frank @ 6:07 am — Filed under: Comments (1)

The Crux of the Problem

(From http://feeds.feedburner.com/discourse?m=1492 )

A failure dramatically underlined by a rapier-like anecdote told by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about Bush’s reaction when she told him that he should fire FEMA Head Michael Brown:

‘He said ‘Why would I do that?”’ Pelosi said.

“‘I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn’t go right last week.’

And he said ‘What didn’t go right?”'’

Pelosi then said what needed to be said: the US government is headed by someone who is, in her words, ‘’Oblivious, in denial, dangerous.”

Oh, if only the US media were more like their UK brethren, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Posted by: Frank @ 2:54 am — Filed under: Comments (0)

September 3, 2005

Why We Won’t Fly British Airways Any More

We have flown back and forth across the Atlantic half a dozen times in the last couple of years, maybe 25 trips total, all on British Airways. As we were getting ready to take this latest trip back to the US, I decided it was time to use some of those miles.British Airways sucks

Imagine my surprise when upon checking my mileage statement I found that 7 San Francisco to London legs, plus 5 Boston to London legs had netted me a mere 24,034 miles, and a family total of just 49,000.British Airways sucks

Isn’t San Francisco 7,000-8,000 miles from London? Isn’t Boston about 4,000 miles from London? Shouldn’t I have more than 70,000 miles in my account, and a family total hovering around 200,000 miles?British Airways sucks

What was going on I wondered? I went to the British Airways website, and looked around for over 1/2 an hour. I read policies and procedures, checked the FAQs, used the search box, I even stepped through buying a ticket online three different times (which is how I always buy them). Nowhere did it say we were going to get less than full miles for our flights. British Airways sucks

So I called British Airways, where I got the most amazingly rude person who said it must be a policy, and no he couldn’t tell me what it was, nor where I could find it online.British Airways sucks

Well, by this time I’m getting a little bit hot under the collar, and decided it was time to email customer service, with a copy to whoever it is that runs British Airways. So back to the website. Nothing. No customer service email address. Nothing that tells you who runs British Airways. Nada. (Hey, you try it…see if you can find that info, I sure couldn’t.)British Airways sucks

What I did find though was one of the worst-forms-in-the-world-that-you-just-know-is-going-into-a-black-hole and sure enough 4 weeks later, it had obviously reached that black hole. So back to the website I went, and this time, surprise surprise, about a week later I got a reply. And here it is for your reading pleasure (if you can’t tell, black text is their’s, red text is my comments):British Airways sucks

Dear Mr Leahy

I am sorry you were disappointed with the changes made to the Executive Club program.

Disappointed? I’m not disappointed, I’m pissed off! And by the way, what changes were made, just when were they made, and was I ever informed of these changes?

We know that some of our members like to accumulate BA Miles over a period of time to use on a specific flight.

Yes, I like to accumulate miles. In fact I like to accumulate 100% of the miles I fly on British Airways, just like every other airline that I’ve ever flown on.

To help balance the increase in BA Miles you need for specific routes, we have changed the way you can spend them. You can now combine your BA Miles with cash to make your booking, or use them to upgrade your class of travel.

I see. Because we only receive 25% of the miles flown,we can’t accumulate enough miles to be awarded free tickets, so we can send you some more money.

If you would like more information, please log on to ba.com. Below, I have cut and pasted from the website:

Hey, this is the internet. Any chance of pasting a link to the page into this email so I can read the page myself?

“You will be awarded one BA Mile for each mile flown with British Airways and oneworldT alliance airlines in full-fare economy. On discounted economy tickets, you will earn 25% of the actual miles flown. Bonus BA Miles can be earned when you travel in our premium cabins.”

I see. Too bad that info is hidden so deeply

I hope I have managed to explain the background and that you will fly with us again soon.

There’s not a snowball’s chance we’ll be flying with British Airways again.

And just so you know, all four of us flew back on Virgin Atlantic this last time, and racked up over 6,900 miles for the London to San Francisco leg. Sure wish we’d done that three years ago.

Sincerely,
Marcia Friedland
British Airways Customer Relations

Your case reference is:4266197

Please do not reply directly to this email as direct replies are sent to an unmonitored mailbox and cannot be actioned. Please use the link in ‘How To Contact Us’ below to reply to Customer Relations

Not really interested in talking to customers, are we?

**************************
HOW TO CONTACT US
**************************

While we endeavour to offer you as full a service as possible, we are unable to respond to direct replies to this email.

If you have a particular query with regard to this case, please click on the link below to submit a reply to British Airways Customer Relations:

http://britishairways.com/webmail/custrelreplies?case=4266197

Please quote your case reference 4266197 in any correspondence with us.

However, if you have a general query about British Airways, you can ask your question online. Click on the link below to go to ‘Your questions’:

http://ba.com/askba

**************************
LEGAL INFORMATION
**************************

This email was sent to you by British Airways Plc - Waterside, Speedbird Way, Harmondsworth, UB7 0GB, United Kingdom. (To find out more, click here http://www.ba.com/aboutba)

This email is intended solely for the addressee(s) and the information it contains is confidential. If you are not the intended recipient (a) please delete the email and inform the sender as soon as possible, and (b) any copying, distribution or other action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance upon it is prohibited and may be unlawful

Moral of the story? Don’t fly British Airways unless you want to get screwed by their “Executive Club” mileage program.

British Airways sucks

Posted by: Frank @ 4:47 am — Filed under: Comments (56)