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Monday, September 30, 2013

Air Fares, Wealthy Members and Generosity

(There's a point to this, but you have to read the whole thing to get it!)

I was reading a tech article and actually noticed an ad. (That's almost bizarre enough to merit a mention!) The ad was for Emirates Air. Specifically for, "First class private cabins between JFK and Milan." The ad's photo implied extreme comfort and luxury.

Note that I am NOT in the market for tickets to Milan. Or anywhere else.

Just out of curiosity, I clicked the ad and eventually figured out how to search for the fares for these first class flights.

Now I should point out that Emirates Air actually has a decent reputation, from what I've heard on NPR. They have budget seats.

These aren't them.

Emirates rates

The highest and lowest rates are highlighted, both near the middle of the table.

Who would ever, EVER, pay that kind of money for two people to fly anywhere on someone else's plane and schedule?

The high rate is so high that the lowest rate almost seems reasonable until you think about it in the absolute sense.

But, I suppose if you're a billionaire and your private jet is in the shop or you have family going multiple directions, $44,000 (boggle...) is just money.

After all, a man with $1,000,000,000 in the bank looks at $44,000 the same way a man with $10,000 looks at $0.44.

Yeah, that's right. Forty-four cents to the man with ten thousand dollars is forty-four thousand dollars to the man with a billion dollars.

OK, so I went to the extreme by bringing in Billionaires. There are plenty of them around these days (over 1,600), but there are a lot more ten-millionaires (over a million). So how does someone with $10,000,000 in the bank see a $44,000 airfare? The same way a man with $10,000 sees a $44.00 airfare.

This brings me, in my own round about way, to something I've been thinking about quite a bit lately. I often hear people talk about how generous this-or-that rich member of their church or ecclesia has been. It's clear that there is some gratitude there, but also that a bit of pedestal building has happened. That rich person has been elevated in someone's mind because of the generous donations made to the church.

How do those generous donations compare to the person's resources, though? If you had $10,000 in the bank, would you only donate 44 cents to your worthy causes and charities?

I'm trying to make a point without being blunt or sounding accusatory, so let me finish with a quote from a much wiser man than myself:

And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Monday, June 6, 2011

RE: Heading to North Carolina

Made it to about halfway through NJ and stopped for the night in Westampton Township at a Best Western. It only took us two hours to pack the truck!

213 miles to drive tomorrow. I figure we'll be back home by 1pm.

Good trip so far.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Heading to North Carolina

Mike (Lauren's dad) and I are flying to North Carolina Monday morning to pick up all of their stuff. They moved back up here almost exactly a year ago, but they came with what fit in Shannon's Jeep.

We're flying down early in the morning, renting and packing a small truck, and heading back up here immediately. It's a long drive, but I'm hoping we can be back by early Tuesday afternoon.

This has been planned for ages, but of course it happens to fall on the busiest work week I've had in years. One weekly project has it's annual double-delivery this week, a new module was due for another client over a month ago, and a big iPhone app is due to be beta-ready by the end of the week (it's pretty much there now).

Oh, and I'm teaching mid-week class for the ecclesia for another two weeks.

I've scheduled an hour for breathing on Thursday morning, eating for Friday, but no time for thinking until next Monday.

(Did I mention that we moved in mid-April? Just five miles from the old house, but we love it here. First place Corinne and I have both really liked since we met.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Trot Trot to Boston (Trot... with Lauren?)

Kissy Face for Oma I sent a text to Shannon at 8am asking if she could have Lauren's hair "pretty" for Bonnie, and then picked Lauren up at her house at a few minutes before 8:30. She hopped from their deck, past the car, and all the way down the driveway. "Lauren, the car's right here." "Oh yeah, I forgot."

Bigger Than Her Head Our first stop was at Snoopy's Diner in North Kingstown for breakfast with Rich, as I do every week. (Don't worry, I'd warned him that she'd be with me!) We arrived at 9:10, about twenty minutes early. Lauren hopped from the car, across the parking lot, up the stairs, and to her seat in the booth.

When contained in a small space (like the car or the diner's booth), she'd talk non-stop. When not so constrained, she hopped.

Corinne called at 9:30 to talked to Lauren. Lauren was loud, and had everyone in the restaurant laughing at her silliness. (“HELLO OMA!”)

(Thank you, Rich, for being so patient with Lauren's constant interruptions.)

On the Train to Boston Our next stop was the South Attleboro, MA, commuter train station. The commuter lot was FULL so we had to park at the far end of the mall's lot, past McDonalds. I think Lauren hopped at least a third of the quarter mile from the car to the train stop.

Lauren loves trains, and this was her third ride (the previous two were just short, fun trips from Westerly to New London). She watched the land zipping by most of the time, or chatted with our neighbors, or with the conductor. Or me. Or her Minnie Mouse. Or the train itself.

Mixing Up the Water We disembarked at Ruggles Station, and she hopped all over the place while I waited in line to buy a sandwich at Dunkin Donuts ("Opa I'm hungry again!"). After we ate, we went out to catch a cab.

Pat pat pat Waiting for a cab took thirty minutes, five hundred hops, and about twenty loops around the square, raised flower box on the sidewalk that she pretended was a "balancer" (balance beam). In that time I flagged down six full taxis and two police cars before finally finding an empty ride.

Bonnie was surprised to see us! I was sure Frank or someone would have told her we were coming up, but that wasn't the case.

She put a pillow over her stomach as soon as we walked in. I thought she was just being self-conscious, but later I realized it was self-preservation, as Lauren patted the pillow to ask if that's where "she was cut".

Lauren prattled, hopped, pestered, skipped, chattered, and dumped water the whole time we were there. (She wasn't being naughty, just young and easily bored.) Oh, and she kept pulling the dividing curtain further and further, because she couldn't understand that she was also pulling it away from the wall at the other end.

Cheesey Bonnie looked good, and seemed to be rather eager to get out of there and go home.

The original plan had included leaving the hospital for a trip to the observation deck at the top of the John Hancock building. Towards the end of visiting Bonnie, though, I noticed little bags developing under Lauren's eyes. Instead, we visited Au Bon Pain in the hospital lobby (after making one mandatory trip up-and-down the "stairs you don't have to walk on"), and then grabbed another taxi to take us back to the train station.

Where... we waited. For almost an hour.

No, let me rephrase that. I waited. Minnie waited. Lauren hopped. All around the platform. By the time the train arrived there were forty or fifty people waiting with us, but she was oblivious. Hop hop hop around the big bench installation, then lunge for my leg and hang on to it, panting, catching her breath... and hop hop hop to the big, aluminum trash can and back to my leg, pant pant pant, catch her breath, and then back to hopping.

She wasn't the only kid on the platform, and she wasn't being embarrassing. Lots of people would stop what they were doing and just watch her, smiling and shaking their heads. Not once did she ever bump into anyone (though she came very close to ramming her head into a large man's butt at one point, she caught herself just in time). Finally, she hopped back to me one last time and stumbled onto her stomach. She wasn't hurt, but ran straight to me blushing and just huddled with me to warm up for a minute, and then the train was there.

On the Train Home Apparently that stumble came when her gas tank finally ran dry. Five minutes after we boarded the nearly full train, she was fast asleep on my lap.

She didn't wake up when we switched to an empty bench after lots of people left at the next stop. She didn't wake up when we left the train, nor as I carried her all the way back to the car (and thought my arm was going to fall off).

She woke up (a little) at one point on the highway, yelling, "I never want to see that bad train again, it wanted to hurt you!" Seconds later she was out again. Mike came out to get her when we pulled into their driveway, and she barely woke up enough to give me a hug.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Travelogue: Moving Gramma and Grampa from FL to RI

Ellyn, Gramma, Grampa and I flew to Florida a few weeks ago to pack up G+G's house and drive all the stuff back to RI. I meant to write the whole story down at the time, but we can put that good intention in the same bucket as all the other writing I was going to do this year.

So, here's a quick recap.

(To get started: Ellyn and I got along great, there wasn't any trouble, but please color everything in the rest of this travelogue with the fact that I was traveling without Corinne and missed her quite badly. That may be the most memorable part of the trip, for me.)

The flight down (via SouthWest) was pretty uneventful, as it should be. We shepherded G+G through TSA without much difficulty. While waiting at the gate, Gramma just sat down and waited for us to tell her it was time to get in line, and Grampa kept getting in line too early. He is too easily bored. ;-)

Brad (my Dad's and Ellyn's brother) picked us up in his old clunker at the Tampa airport, took us to the grocery story and then to the house.

That right there indicates the first problem we had: we didn't rent a car. Their car was in RI already.

Brad picked us up again Thursday morning so we could get the Penske rental truck and have a little tour of his business. The truck wasn't ready yet, though, so he let us borrow his jalopy for a few hours, and we returned it when the rental was ready a few hours later.

Ellyn pointed out that I always manage to forget something. This time, it was my sneakers. Sigh. So, on the was back to swap Brad's vehicle and the Penske, we stopped at the New Balance store and I picked up a pair of size 16 New Balance 622's. I was going to get 609's (which is what I left at home), but the "fit expert" at the store got all snooty and said they only manufacture *those* for department stores and factory outlets. Well excuuuuuuuuse me! ;-)

The Penske was our only means of running errands for the rest of the day, but Thursday night I packed a lot of boxes into the truck so we couldn't drive it at all on Friday (can't move the truck until it's all packed, as things will fall and break).

Friday morning I NEEDED COFFEE so Grampa and I were going to walk to Dunkin Donuts. It was sprinkling when we left, but by the time we got to the Camelot Lakes (the community where they lived) entrance it was pouring and I felt really stupid to have my 81 year old grandfather out in the rain like that (even if it was his idea). We headed back to the house, and about halfway there JAMES Wilkinson (his emphasis) happened by and offered me a ride to Dunkin Donuts, as long as I promised not to call him Jim. Ever. Grampa continued home without me, on foot.

I'm not kidding about calling him JAMES. :-D

I was fed up with not having a ride, and we needed more supplies, so I rented a little car from Enterprise. Why Enterprise? Because "they'll pick you up!" They did. No brown paper wrapped around the car, though, so I was quite disappointed. Driver said it's easier to see without the paper. FALSE ADVERTISING.

Other than taking Grampa to the bank (an experience I'd rather forget) to get money for our homeward-bound travel expenses, the rest of the day was spent packing boxes and the truck. By Friday night almost everything was in the truck that wasn't still needed (or actually staying) in the house.

Friday evening I drove G+G to (Uncle) Brad's house for dinner, and re-met a couple of my cousins. This wasn't really our first meeting, but it's been years and they're still in high school so they didn't really remember me and they've changed a lot since I last saw them.

Dinner was spaghetti, with "home assembled" sauce by Uncle Brad. After dinner he wanted to go for a walk but Grampa wasn't up for it. He suggested some games, but Grampa just wanted to lay down. While he went to snooze in the living room in front of a game, Brad mentioned that my Dad had "schooled him" at Boggle last year when he visited. "I think I'm pretty good, but your father is much better."

Sigh. Yes, we played. I won't be too graphic on the carnage that ensued... in fact I'll just say that I, at least, had fun with that game. ;-)

After driving back to G+G's house, they went to bed and Ellyn and I did a bunch more packing (and went to the pool, and got kicked out for being there too late).

Saturday morning we finished packing the truck, said goodbye to Gramma and Grampa (they would be spending a few days with friends and then flying home on Wednesday), returned the car and hit the road!

Added later:

Oh, one more funny detail. I lost my shades at Enterprise when I returned the car. I looked all through the car and near the rental counter, but couldn't find them. An older lady wanted the car I was returning and was already sitting in it before I had even given the keys to the guy at the counter, but she assured me that she hadn't seen the shades.

I was very frustrated. These Oakley's were a gift and fit me perfectly, but after looking all over the Penske I gave up and decided they were just gone.

About 30 minutes later, I saw their reflection in the windshield. They were on the dashboard, but had fallen down so I couldn't see them. Still, they were right in front of the driver's seat, where I was sitting, so that felt a little silly.

The trip home was mostly uneventful. There was a major traffic jam in the middle of nowhere (GA), bad enough that Ellyn got out and walked far enough to be completely out of sight (trying to find out what had happened). In South Carolina we made a pit stop and I saw this ransom note right at the restaurant:

Ransom Note

We stopped at the halfway point in North Carolina and got a two-double-beds room for next to nothing. The walls were cinderblock with wallpaper (Ellyn interjects here that she's sure she saw it on CSI, the site of some grisly murder...). The hotel was called the Red Carpet Inn, but they carpet was dark green. Ellyn was more than uncomfortable, but it was somewhere to sleep.

Sunday was slightly more eventful (but only slightly). Can I just state for the record that I HATE NEW JERSEY!? What's the deal with Route 95, huh? This would be the World's Busiest Highway (if I'm not mistaken), running from northern Maine to southern Florida, right? SO WHY DOES IT END IN NJ? How can they do that?

We'd talked about this ahead of time. We both knew that we needed to get on the NJ Turnpike when it splits off of Route 95. I95 goes to Philadelphia, then swings back into NJ and abruptly ends. The NJTP goes all the way through the state and magically turns back into I95 again in NY.

Talking about it in advance didn't matter. Grampa called just as we approached NJ. Ellyn drove for just 2.5 hours for the entire trip home (she would have driven more if I had asked, don't worry), and just happened to be the one driving when Grampa called. She was just distracted enough to not notice that we were on the wrong side of the split until it was too late. (This wasn't a real big deal, it just added 20 minutes to our trip.)

I picked the George Washington Bridge instead of the Tappan Zee. Why? Because I forgot that the GW is bad on Sunday nights. That's another 90 minutes added to the trip. At some point I also made a wrong turn and we saw a bit more of NJ than we had wanted too (which is not hard to do when you don't want to be there in the first place).

Once past the bridge it was clear sailing all the way to my house (other than yet another stop for the small-bladdered-one). I parked the truck out front and grabbed my stuff, she ran into the house for a minute (ahem!) and then drove it the last 15 miles to her house.

We did it!

But That's NOT All, Folks!

That's just stage one. Next up: my parents are moving to Missouri the week of November 16th (next week). Then Gary, Ellyn, Katie, Tom, Gramma and Grampa are moving from Westerly to the new house in Bradford, at the end of November or very beginning of December (as long as there are no more problems). Finally Corinne, Shannon, Lauren, Richie (?), me, four birds and four cats are all moving to Westerly in early-to-mid December.

Oh, and Mike comes home January 10th.

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