Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Weekend With My Grandparents...And a Few Pros.

I started my vacation last week and decided to spend some time out in Monterey, CA with my grandparents. I left Friday morning and flew to San Francisco, CA and was then going to drive down to my grandparents house (which is about 2 hours south of there). I arrived in San Francisco just before noon and decided to take my time getting down to Monterey. I got to San Jose, CA and veered off onto some really cool mountain road with lots of twists and turns, which is something I rather enjoy. I decided to see how well my rental car could keep up so let's just say, I was exceeding the speed limit.

I came around a corner and coming head on was one of California's finest Highway Patrolman. I knew I was way over the posted limit and the CHP quickly turned on his flashing lights and made a U-turn to come get me. I thought to myself, "I can either floor it and head for the hills, or just pull over". I've watched enough COPS episodes to know that they usually always catch up with people, and since I didn't want to be on the receiving end of a taser, I decided to pull over. I was actually pulled over before he was completely turned around. I thought that would earn some brownie points, you will soon find out, it didn't.

He came up to the car and asked for my license and registration and very nicely explained why he pulled me over. He clocked me at 53 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. I was going to explain that I'm dyslexic and am easily confused by numbers. He didn't look like the kind of guy who liked to joke around though, so I didn't mention it. He asked me why I was going so fast. Again, I wanted to tell him, "Because this is one of the coolest roads I've ever been on, and I wanted to enjoy it to it's fullest, and you're not helping." I didn't think that would go over very well so I stuck with, "I don't know." Without much discussion, he walked back to his car and wrote me a citation. Since I haven't pleaded guilty to it yet, I can use the line that the media always uses; "Paul was allegedly going 53 MPH in a 35 MPH zone." I can tell you though, I'm probably not going to fly out to California to go to court, so you can take the word "allegedly" out. Minnesota doesn't have traffic school but California does, I wonder if I can go to traffic school in California so it doesn't go on my record?

I continued my drive down this very cool road at a pace my grandma would get frustrated with, and after a quick stop for lunch in Santa Cruz, headed down the Pacific Coast Highway to my grandparents. I've always wanted to learn how to play golf and I thought since I was in the golf capitol of the world, maybe I could take a few lessons. My grandparents set some lessons up with one of the golf pros at their country club.

By the way, why do they call golf instructors "Pros"? Anyone that has a real job is probably considered a professional but that's not their title. When you ask a doctor what he does, he will probably say, "I'm an orthopedic surgeon" or "I'm a general practitioner." He's not going to say, "I'm a professional", even though he very much is a professional at what he does, that's not his title. For some reason though, a golf instructor can get away with a one word answer to what they do for a living, "I'm a pro."

Saturday morning I met one of the golf "pros" named Ryan. He was the definition of his title. He gave me some great pointers on how to swing the club with the hope that the ball will eventually go straight. When I say he gave me "some pointers", I really mean a laundry list of things to do. He didn't stop talking for 35 minutes! I literally took two pages of notes, just on how to swing the club! He did a great job (considering who he was working with) and that afternoon my grandpa and I went out to the range to hit some balls. I'm not sure if anyone has ever said this before but I'll go ahead and say it, golf is a very frustrating sport, and the more frustrated you get, the worse you hit. Like anything though, with a little effort and a lot of practice, I'll be playing with Tiger before I know it. Well, right now my goal is just to be able to play 18 holes.....period.

I took another lesson the next morning which had a lot less talking and was more about fine tuning my swing. I went out again and hit some balls that afternoon and again the next day. My grandparents have both been playing golf for more than 60 years so I think they were excited to see me finally get into it.

I love vacations and this weekend in Monterey was great! I got to spend some time in one of the most beautiful spots in the world with people I love, learning a game, that maybe someday I'll love.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Live Like You Were Dying

This month marks the anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, 2001. It seems as the years go by, it becomes easier and easier to forget what happened on that tragic day. Even I had to think for a split second why the flags were at half-staff last week. I was quickly reminded later in the week as I watched a documentary on the History Channel that showed raw footage that normal people, just like you and me, filmed during that tragic day.

I don't think the severity of that day hit me until I watched this show. There were firefighters covered in soot and ash, trying desperately to call their loved ones. They knew this may be the day that daddy doesn't come home from work. There were screams from college age girls filming as the second plane hit the tower, they didn't know what to do or how many more airplanes there would be. There were cops yelling at people to move north up the island and away from the World Trade Center, trying to control the unthinkable. There was film of the clear blue sky that quickly turned into darkness as a tidal wave of debris from the collapsing buildings flooded the streets, instantly blinding and choking the hundreds of people trying to get off of deaths doorstep. Probably the most horrifying videos were of people who were jumping from the higher levels of the tower, close to where the planes had hit. They were most certainly trying to escape the fiery hell that existed in what once was their office, their home away from home.

What they thought was going to be "just another day at the office" turned into their last day at the office. All of a sudden, that fight they had with their spouse wasn't such a big deal anymore, their daughters new boyfriend with the nose piercing didn't bother them quite so much, and their sons soccer game that they missed because they were just too busy, seemed a little more important now. All they could do was try to make one last phone call, one last "I love you", and one last "good-bye".

Usually my blog is filled with lighthearted humor and funny stories. Sometimes though, the world isn't so funny. Family members pass away, bridges collapse, hurricanes hit, people get divorced, and planes run into buildings. It's easy to take everyday for granted when the next one seems to come as easily as the last. But what if tomorrow never comes? What if you were told you have six months to live? Would you do things differently? Would you spend more time with your best friend? Would you call someone you haven't spoken with in a while, just to tell them how special they are to you? Would you squeeze your kids baseball game into your busy schedule? Would you take your spouse on more dates?

What would you do, if you lived like you were dying?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Words are coming out of my mouth. PANIC!

Radio stations usually have a seven second delay when they're broadcasting live on the air. That way if someone says something inappropriate they can hit the "panic button" which dumps the audio and prevents any bad words from going out on the air. Sometimes I wish I had a "panic button" for the times I say stupid things.

For example;

Me: "When is your baby due?"
Obviously overweight lady: "What baby?"

Sometimes words just come out of my mouth and they're not attached to any part of my brain or thoughts. A few months ago I was talking to a lady. She was complaining about how she was getting old. In an effort to try and make her feel younger, I thought I would use the phrase "Women are like a fine wine, they just get better with age", except I was going to use it in reverse. That was a bad idea. Don't ever take a phrase that has been proven to work time after time and try to change it. What I was trying to get across was that she was young and that phrase wouldn't apply to her. That's what I meant, what I said was, "You're like a cheap wine." That didn't go over very well.

In times like that, maybe I should think of the phrase, "Silence is golden."

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Signs That Protect Your Swimsuit Area

As an airline pilot, I spend a lot of time in airports. One thing that all airports have, are signs. Airports have signs directing you to baggage claim, your gate, a ticket agent, or even the airport chapel. I'm still amazed when someone asks me how to get to a gate and the sign pointing to their gate is right above their head. I like to think that airport managers try to make traveling as easy as possible and "dumb it down" for the traveler who maybe doesn't get out very much, sometimes I'm not so sure.

Today I saw a sign that made me laugh out loud. It wasn't actually in the airport, but it was on an airplane. I thought I knew all the signs that belong on airplanes. They have exit signs, seat belt signs, no smoking signs, but the sign I saw, was in the airplane lavatory. It read, "Do not flush while seated on toilet."

It got me thinking, usually those kind of signs are generated by someone who sued the manufacturer because they got hurt while performing the activity that the sign discourages. It makes me wonder, what happened to the person who flushed while they were seated on the toilet? Did their insides get sucked out? Will they ever be able to have kids? Did they loose any precious body parts from their swimsuit area?

I guess it makes me appreciate the little things in life, like being able to pee standing up. Good luck.