Pi’s Guide to How To Survive Work Trips (And why they suck)

I travel for work quite a bit. This past week, I was in Las Vegas, Nevada for the Healthcare Information Management and Security Show (HIMSS) with over 25,000 attendees and 460 software, healthcare and security vendors from all around the world. Three weeks ago, I was in Palm Springs, California for my company’s Global Sales Meeting, and a month before this, I was in Los Angeles and San Diego, California for a week to meet with my customers.

I remember my very first business trip in 2004, when I worked for Canon Business Solutions. It was the first time I’d been sent away on my own by my company for training in Toronto for two weeks. I remember my first morning, suited up, sitting in the hotel restaurant having the continental breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages and croissants, reading the morning paper with my suitcase beside me. The road warrior, it was awesome.

I would like to say that there have only been a handful of memorable moments in my life that I would consider monumental. I’ve known people who think that every event from the mundane to the exciting are life memories, and perhaps rightfully so it might be true for them, but for myself there is something to be said about only having only a few events that I remember that make those moments special, near to heart and life changing. After all, having too much of something cheapens it doesn’t it?

I remember that moment as if it were yesterday, because at that moment, I’d felt like I’d made it, achieved my goal and was king of the world. To explain, I’ll need to rewind back a few years, when I was in elementary school. As a young chap all of 9 years old, I knew I wanted to go to SFU Business school and be a business man. I didn’t know what kind of business, just one where I drove to my downtown highrise corner office in a nice car, with my suitcase in shotgun, and me in a suit. I pictured leading boardroom meetings to a bunch of suits, talking all sorts of business. I’m not sure where I got this vision, since no one in my family was corporate. And also because I was 9.

Fast forward to today, 8 years after my first business trip and I have to say, travelling for work sucks. Like, it really blows. You couldn’t pay me to have a continental breakfast anymore. Seriously, they’re like powdered eggs and there’s never enough ketchup. Here are my reasons and how to survive a work trip.

1. You eat alone – When I was growing up, my parents always made my sister and I eat at the dinner table as a family. It was the one time of the day where we sat and talked and shared what went on. It definitely brought us closer together and it’s a tradition I’m going to keep with my future family. I can tell you that having room service with the TV on sucks. Even better yet, trying to eat airport food while waiting for your flight (Like I literally just did 15 minutes ago before writing this.)

How to survive it: Convince your boss to let a colleague come with you. Or make friends with other lonely travelling business people. I’ve met some pretty cool people with cool stories from all over through the years.

2. There’s no time for touristy stuff – I’ve been to SoCal 7 times now in the past 2 years for work. Did I get to go party or check out the beaches? Nope. I was just in Vegas (I’m actually still here, waiting for my flight) and I didn’t do anything other than meet with clients. You really don’t have time to do anything else other than work. It’s not good business to go to your 9am meeting hung over reeking like goose. And after your last meeting at 5pm, I go back to my hotel and prepare for the next days meetings, answer emails, put out fires and order room service.

How to survive it: Have your clients take you out. Get them smashed and if they reek like goose the next day too, it’s even playing grounds and your boss can’t fire you. Or just take a vacation and go back to do the touristy stuff

3. Airports – who has two thumbs and hates the commute?? This guy!! (Points at me with my two thumbs) Line up to check in. Line up go to though security. Take off my belt, shoes, laptop out of bag. No liquids, nothing over 100ml, oh, bags too heavy? Throw some shit away. Bag doesn’t fit in overhead? Gotta check it. Sitting in the middle between two people? One of them is fat and the other stinks? You land. Line up to go through customs. Line up to get bag. Nuff said.

How to survive it: Learn to teleport. Or get rich enough to charter your own flight. Either way, you’re not travelling for work anymore.

4. Ironing – They lied when they told me those dress shirts were wrinkle free. Where are they now when they’re wrinkled as hell?? I suck at ironing. It takes me like 20 minutes to iron ONE shirt.

How to survive it: Bring your mom with you.

There are, of course with everything in life, the silver lining and it’s there if you look hard enough.

1. Free trip!

2. Escape the rain of home for a few days.

3. The people you meet

4. Time to write and read

5. …

There are more, but I just heard my flight being called to board, so I’m ending it here before I get stuck here for another night. Then you guys will have to read about that. (OH yeah! That’s another reason work trips suck. Delayed flights.)

Do you travel for work? Tell me your pros/cons about it too, I’d love to hear what other people experience.

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Parking Tickets in Vancouver

Here are some of the top tricks and tips for avoiding getting a parking ticket in the City of Vancouver.

 

Parking Secret No. 0. Be nice to the Parking Guy You never know when they’ll let you off.

Parking Secret No. 1. If there’s one place you should make sure to plug the meter, it’s in the 800-block of Hornby, right in front of the Law Courts. That’s because parking officers are testifying in traffic court and often write a few tickets on their way in or out. The Starbucks at Helmcken and Howe is also a danger zone: it’s right across the street from parking headquarters and where many parking officers go for coffee. I lived upstairs from this Starbucks for 5 years and watched the Yellow Jacket gang ticket every car even when they’re off shift.

Parking Secret No. 2. If you’re running into Future Shop at Broadway and Pine and figure you’re safe in a permit spot for a minute or two, think again. More people receive permit-related tickets in the 2500-block of Pine than anywhere else. That’s because a resident calls parking enforcement about three times a day to complain about illegal parkers. Other blocks under the constant watch of irate residents include the 2400 blocks of Bayswater and Trutch and the residential streets around Langara College.

Parking Secret No. 3. For parking-meter tickets only, every driver in the city is entitled to one “courtesy cancellation.” If you call 604-257-8732, and ask nicely, the city will usually waive your fine. Each licence plate gets only one free pass over the life of the vehicle.

Parking Secret No. 4. The worst day of the week to park illegally is Wednesday. Parking officers work a nine-day fortnight and the one day virtually all of them are on shift is Wednesday. Not surprisingly, it’s also the day the most tickets are issued: 20 per cent more tickets, in fact, than on a typical Monday.

Parking Secret No. 5. The riskiest time of day to park illegally is in the afternoon, between noon and 4:30 p.m., since that’s when the various parking shifts overlap. However, there is a slight dip in ticket-writing between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., when many parking officers are on their lunch breaks.

Parking Secret No. 6. As long as you’re not blocking a rush-hour route, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. is “Happy Hour” for illegal parkers. Starting at 3:05 p.m. every weekday, parking officers from all over the city converge on routes such as Robson, Davie and Broadway to hand out no-stopping tickets and order vehicles towed away. As a result, enforcement of all other offences — such as expired meters and permit zones — drops off considerably for about an hour.

Parking Secret No. 7. Enjoy your Sunday brunch without fear of a parking ticket. The first shift of parking officers doesn’t start on Sundays until 11:30 a.m., much later than on other days. There’s a proposal before city council to move the start time to 8:30 a.m. but, for now, your chances of getting a ticket before noon on Sunday are slim.

Parking Secret No. 8. Night owls can rest easy. The first shift of parking officers starts at 6:15 a.m. and the last clocks off at 10:30 p.m. There are some exceptions for special events, but for the most part there is little to no parking enforcement overnight. However, this could change: a report has gone to city council proposing a new shift that would run until 2 a.m.

Parking Secret No. 9. A five-minute grace period exists in most no-parking areas, such as permit zones and commercial loading areas, so you’re allowed to stop briefly to pick someone up or drop them off. That also means a parking officer has to observe you sitting in such a spot for at least five minutes before writing you a ticket. Be warned, though: no such grace period exists for areas where you’re not allowed to stop at all — like rush-hour routes or bus zones — or for spots with a meter.

Parking Secret No. 10. All parking meters are not created equal. Downtown, where there are dedicated meter-checking foot patrols, the typical meter is usually checked by a parking officer at least once every two hours. In contrast, the meters along Commercial Drive and in Kerrisdale don’t have dedicated foot patrols and so may be checked as little as once a day.

Parking Secret No. 11. If you’re going to park illegally, don’t put on your four-way flashers. It provides no legal protection and just draws attention to your offence. “What it says to me is: I know it’s illegal, but I’m only doing it for awhile,” said parking officer Sherry Wevill.

Parking Secret No. 12. Just because there’s no chalk on your tires doesn’t mean you’re necessarily safe in a two-hour parking spot. Instead of chalking, some parking officers log the position of each car’s tire air valve in their hand-held computers. If the position hasn’t changed by the time they come back around, they know your car hasn’t moved. Other officers put a small stone on top of each tire or check tailpipes for signs of condensation.

Parking Secret No. 13. When the time runs out on your parking meter, you always get a two-minute “grace period”, regardless of whether you paid for four minutes or an hour. During that grace period, the meter will display a solid “000” instead of a flashing “0000” and you will not receive a ticket. However, the grace period also means if you tell an officer the meter just ran out, they know if you’re lying.

Parking Secret No. 14. You can get a ticket even if your meter is fully paid. Along several rush-hour routes, such as Robson, a meter will accept your change even though you’re not allowed to park there between 3 and 6 p.m. Stickers on each meter warn parkers of this fact, but dozens of paid-up parkers are still ticketed and towed every weekday.

Parking Secret No. 15. There are no parking enforcement officers working on either Christmas or New Year’s Day. Vancouver police will respond to complaints about serious safety violations, but your chances of getting a ticket for anything else on those two days are virtually zero.

Thank you Everyone!

About a month and bit ago my sister was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She’s being treated with chemo and is expected to fully recover. We held a cancer fundraiser at Modern Club last Friday with the help of the BC Cancer Foundation, Pure Image Entertainment and the support of a lot of friends. I even shaved my head!

Thank you everyone for supporting and donating to the BC Cancer Foundation. We all got together and raised over $2200.

 

It’s funny. In the past couple of weeks I’ve talked to so many friends who have gone through or known someone close to them who have had cancer. A mother, brother, aunt, sister. My dads friend of 35 years. Some have beat it, some unfortunately not. Everybody had a story and when we told them, everybody felt instant empathy for one another, understanding. It’s amazingly scary how this is such a common tale, how we all know someone who was affected by Cancer. This speaks to how wide spread it is and how we need to beat it.

Please keep supporting any way you can. I will be! If you would like to pass around the link or donate to the fund yourself, please click the link below. Thanks!

http://bccf.convio.net/site/TR/Events/General?pxfid=7540&fr_id=1250&pg=fund

My Next event: The Underwear Affair! For cancer research below the waist.. a 10k Run/5k walk in your underwear. Come join me!

Random Thoughts

My biff Bonnie sent me this list today. I was reading through this and realized…”Hey, these are my thoughts! wth…” So I came to the conculsion that either she’s a mind reader and has been poking around in my subconscious or these random thoughts are shared by everybody. Though the first option seems more plausible, maybe other people have little moments too.

-More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think
about is that I can’t wait for them to finish so that I can tell
my own story that’s not only better, but also more directly involves me.

-Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize
you’re wrong.

-Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you’re going
in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going?
But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from
which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or
phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no
one in the surrounding area thinks you’re crazy by randomly switching
directions on the sidewalk.

-I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was
younger.

-Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the “people you may know”
feature on Facebook people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to
be friends with?

-Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn’t
work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix
the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to
fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ’s. We just
figured it out. Today’s kids are soft.

-I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than
take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

– LOL has gone from meaning, “laugh out loud” to “I have nothing else to
say”.

– Whenever someone says “I’m not book smart, but I’m street smart”, all I
hear is “I’m not real smart, but I’m imaginary smart”.

– How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and
smile because you still didn’t hear what they said?

– I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up
to prevent a dick from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!

– Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using ‘as in’
examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot.
Today I had to spell my boss’s last name to an attorney and said “Yes that’s
G as in…(10 second lapse)..ummm…Goonies”

– While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and i nstinctively
swerved to avoid it…thanks Mario Kart.

– Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person
died.

-I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.

– Bad decisions make good stories

– Is it just me or do high school girls get sluttier & sluttier every
year?

-If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring
would probably just be completely invisible.

-Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go
around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly
nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I’m from, this shouldn’t be
a problem….

-You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work
when you’ve made up your mind that you just aren’t doing anything
productive for the rest of the day.

-Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t
want to have to restart my collection.

-There’s no worse feeling than that millisecond you’re sure you are
going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

-I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me
if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I
swear I did not make any changes to.

– “Do not machine wash or tumble dry” means I will never wash this
ever.

-I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people
watching TV. There’s so much pressure. ‘I love this show, but will
they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren’t
watching this. It’s only a matter of time before they all get up and
leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?’

-I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello?
Dammit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and
goes to voicemail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone
and run away?

– I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not
seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

– As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers,
but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.
-Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still
not know what time it is.

-I wonder if cops ever get pissed off at the fact that everyone they
drive behind obeys the speed limit. — THE ANSWER IS YES!!

Free Mukmuk: the ‘other’ Olympic mascot

Pity Mukmuk. While his friends Quatchi, Miga and Sumi gallivant off everywhere entertaining children in the lead up to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, Mukmuk the marmot is left to pick up the trash and tag along behind. For those of you who don’t know poor Mukmuk, he’s the virtual reality sidekick to the Vancouver 2010 mascots. He lives mainly in cyberspace. Well, cyber jail, really, because he doesn’t get out much.

Unlike his friends, who are real mascots, Mukmuk’s parents, the Vancouver Organizing Committee, see him as a pint-sized tag end whose place in the Games seems akin to an afterthought. The end of a sentence. Or, as they say in their literature: “Sidekick to the Vancouver 2010 Mascots.”

Sort of like “secretary to the president” or “official sweeper upper.”

Instead of being the Vancouver Island marmot that he is, Mukmuk has become something of a gofer. As in “Hey Mukmuk, go for this” or “go for that.” And the pity is, he’s the only real animal of the lot.

As a Vancouver Island marmot, he’s one of only an estimated 205 that have survived wolves, eagles and loggers. That makes him almost as rare as Quatchi the Sasquatch, Miga the “sea bear” and Sumi, the thunderbird-like “animal guardian spirit.”

I’ll bet many of you thought when Vanoc unveiled the mascots, “hey, what about that little guy at the end? Why isn’t he also going to be made into a toy?” At least now you can buy little MukMuks with the red olympic gloves at London Drugs. That sold out in about a day leaving tonnes of the “other mascot” toys around. Doesnt that say something?! The Mukster is popular! (or maybe they just stocked 1/8 of his toys vs the other ones.)

So far, all we’ve seen of the little furball is a cameo appearance in the video introduction of the Three Amigos. He’s the poor sod shivering on a mountain top, skiing down to Whistler on a para-ski thrown to him by Sumi, and handing the hot cocoa-drinking mascots an invitation to attend the 2010 Games. He’s had to bring up the rear every time The Officials head off anywhere, holding up a “We’re No. 1” mitt.

The only thing he’s missing is the broom with which to sweep up the confetti at the end of the tickertape parade. Oh, and he takes out the recycling. Vanoc gave him the job of throwing around boxes of recyclables like curling rocks in its interactive game “Operation Recycle” while the headliners lounge on the sidelines.

This is what I see Vanoc describing the little homie as: Mukmuk is a small and friendly Vancouver Island marmot who always supports and cheers loudly for his friends during games and races. When he is not hibernating or sunbathing on rocks and logs, he enjoys getting out to meet other types of marmots and animals. In fact, this is how he became friends with the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic mascots.

They also say his hobbies are “eating, burrowing, eating, making friends, eating.” Sounds like me… but not a ringing endorsement of his capabilities, I’d say. Won’t get him any contracts for any other kind of work.

Even I’m not really sure what he is. I mean, I instinctively like him just because he’s the outcast (I have a soft spot for Kogepan too). I know he’s got great things going for him. But what does he like to do? What would he like to do if he was a full-fledged mascot? Where does he live, and with whom? What’s his favorite sport? Does he have any fears (like flying or getting caught while sunning himself on a log?) Apart from Quatchi, Miga and Sumi, who are his friends? Does he have any stories of his own he wants to tell? Poor little guy. All I know is that this Friday when the torch lights the last flame to start the Olympics, I’ll be cheering for Canada just as loud as the little dude.